Maybe it's a little American-centric of me, but I wish, oh, I wish that when they announce the Booker Prize longlist, they'd, say, tell me which books are published in the U.S., so I don't have to go hunting through the interwebs to try to find them.

How many of these have YOU heard of? And no, having heard of the McEwan doesn't count. You ought to have heard of that one.

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (likely the British ed.; no info)
Self Help by Edward Docx (a "notify me" button at Powell's)
The Gift Of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (likely the British ed.; no info)
The Gathering by Anne Enright
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (Hey, I have this one!)
Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn (No results at Powell's or Amazon)
Consolation by Michael Redhill
Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (No results at Powell's or Amazon)
Winnie & Wolf by A.N.Wilson

Of course, the books' inclusion on this list means they'll probably get picked up by U.S. publishers — or, if they've already been bought but not released yet, they'll get hurried up on their way to the shelves. Good times.

OK, so I know there's an empty space in people's lives where they were reading all of the Harry Potter books and rereading obsessively to find out why, say, there's not enough Luna in the final battle or the epilogue or why in the hell ... oh, never mind.

(And the Harry Potter Theme Park isn't open yet either. I look forward to being sorted. Which, it occurs to me, is a lot funnier in British than it is in American. But anyway.)

Point is that people, especially the young ones among us, want something else to read. Something interesting. Something with a brilliant, vivid other world. Something wonderful.

Here are a couple of my faves.

First, as anyone who's seen Ratatouille knows, there's a gorgeous, high-production-value movie coming called The Golden Compass.

That's the film version, one I'm completely excited about, of Philip Pullman's glorious book of the same title (or Northern Lights in the U.K.).

The whole series, rich in world-building and alive with detail and invention, is called His Dark Materials after a line in "Paradise Lost." But more on that later.

Start with Lyra in Golden Compass. She'll take you on an amazing trip.

I just got the fourth and final book (from Molly; thanks, Molly) in Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles quartet. I yelled out "No! No! NOOOOOO!" at the end of the last one, Infernal Devices, and I'm frankly scared to read this one. And it will be good. And I will be sad that it's over.

I don't know why 11 million people would buy HP7 on the first day it was out and not go for Darkling Plain, but I'm excited, nervous, thrilled and quite, quite invested. What happens to Hester?!?!?!?!? I like Tom and I sort of like their daughter, but really, Hester's had a bad deal. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

As Flora Segunda says, "The only way out is through."

• Confession: I've never read Beowulf. However, the trailer — stellar cast aside — doesn't exactly make me seventeen kinds of excited for the movie. Note to Zemeckis: That Polar Express-style animation? It still looks stupid, even when you're doing strange things to an ancient classic instead of ruining a classic children's book.

• In alt-weekly news, the Chicago Reader has been sold to Creative Loafing, which publishes papers in Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa and Sarasota. Blog reaction from the Reader is here.

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