Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heard about a Book...

The novel Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, released today, is getting all kinds of favorable reviews (The New York Times, NPR). He is also going to speak at Rainy Day Books in September.

From Goodreads.com:

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a darkly comedic novel about family, Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul — the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world. But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outr√© rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become 'a very different kind of neighbor,' an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just Finished...

Cheryl just finished a new-to-her romance author, Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell. She loved it, one of her mindless, light romance reads.

About Rumor Has It:

Rumor Has It sizzles with Mansell's signature fresh sense of humor, poignancy, and happy ending with a twist. Newly single Tilly Cole impulsively moves to a small town, only to find she's arrived in a hotbed of gossip, intrigue, and rampant rivalry for the most desirable man-Jack Lucas, whose reputation is beyond bad. Tilly has no intention of becoming another notch on his bedpost. But she finds the thoughtful, caring guy she comes to value as a friend doesn't seem to fit the town's playboy image. Should she listen to her friends or her heart? Is Tilly being mature and sensible-or running away from the love of her life?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Heard about a Book...

I read about a mystery series by Naomi Hirahara with a reoccurring investigator, Mas Arai. Her most recent book is Blood Hina.

About the series by NPR:

So far, Mas has solved crimes in four books. We meet him in Summer of the Big Bachi, Hirahara's maiden effort, in which a murder in Pasadena forces Mas to confront the trauma of his Hiroshima past. In Girl, Mas' almost-estranged daughter needs him to clear her name—and his tall blond son-in-law's—when they're accused of murdering their boss. The third book, Gasa GasaSnakeskin Shamishen, has Mas trying to discover who killed the winner of a half-million-dollar lottery ticket, while he races against the clock to keep his lawyer alive. And in Hirahara's most recent book, Blood Hina, an expensive antique doll (or hina) goes missing just as Mas' best friend, Haruo, is about to marry his longtime fiancee, making Haruo a suspect—and making Mas his champion.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Heard about a Book...

I heard this author interviewed on NPR's Tell Me MoreBitch is the New Black; A Memoir by Helena Andrews. She sounds like a very interesting person.

From the publisher's website:

Strong, sassy, always surprising—and titled after a Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” monologue by Tina Fey—Bitch Is the New Black is a deliciously addictive memoir-in-essays in which Helena Andrews goes from being the daughter of the town lesbian to a hot-shot political reporter… all while trying to answer the question, “can a strong, single, and successful black woman ever find love?” Fans of Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There’d Be Cake) will love the bold and brassy Bitch Is the New Black.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Started...

Cheryl found a book at Prospero's Books in Kansas City—Handbook for the Soul by Richard Carlson, Benjamin Shield—a collection of essays by leading "spiritual" thinkers. It's very interesting so far.

About the book:

America's most celebrated spiritual writers offer inspiring words on the state of the soul today. This collection of more than thirty original essays addresses both the importance of caring for and nourishing the soul and the ways in which these individuals tend to their own souls on a day-to-day basis.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Just Started...

I heard an interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Rafael Yglesias, the author of A Happy Marriage. The passages he read from his story were excellent, an almost autobiographical love story that parallels the author's own life. It's coming out in paperwork next week and I definitely think I'll read it.

From the
author's website:

A Happy Marriage is both intimate and expansive: It is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife, Margaret, a novel that alternates between the romantic misadventures of the first three weeks of their acquaintance and the final months of Margaret’s life as she says goodbye to her family, friends, and children—and to Enrique. Spanning thirty years, this achingly honest story is about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together—and what makes a happy marriage.

Heard about a Book...

I listened to an NPR story on All Things Considered by J. Courtney Sullivan reminiscing about a teen romance classic—Forever by Judy Blume. It's not really my genre, but I know you die-hard romance readers will find this interesting, and if it isn't already a classic in your romance library, it sounds like it should be...

F
rom the author's website:

The saga of Katherine's and Michael's love is a joyous one, filled with all the wonder of "the first time." They meet on New Year's Eve and become completely involved with each other. It's an idyllic affair—until they're separated that summer...

Judy Blume says...

This book was first published in 1975. My daughter Randy asked for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die. She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex the girl was always punished—an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion (illegal in the U.S. until the 1970's), sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. At least one life ruined. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual. Neither took responsibility for their actions. I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly.

The seventies were a time when sexual responsibility meant preventing unwanted pregnancy. Today, sexual responsibility also means preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. In this book Katherine visits a clinic and is given a prescription for The Pill. Today, she would be told it is essential to use a condom along with any other method of birth control. If you're going to become sexually active, then you have to take responsibility for your own actions. So get the facts first.

There are sexually explicit scenes in this book and it shouldn't be shelved in the children's section of the library or bookstore. At the time it was written there was no formal category of "Young Adult," but surely that's how it would be published today. Kids are always asking, How old do I have to be before I can read this book? An impossible question to answer. Some kids are ready at twelve, some not until later. They usually know themselves. If it makes them feel uncomfortable, they can put the book down. If they have questions it helps if they can ask an adult (who's also read the book) to answer them. In recent editions I've added a letter to the reader similar to this note.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heard about a Book...

Reading about Listen To The Echoes; The Ray Bradbury Interviews by Sam Weller reminded me of some of the great science fiction I read by Bradbury when I was young. This book about Bradbury shows his "ferocious love of life" according to one reviewer.

From the book's website:

Ray Bradbury, the poetic and visionary author of such classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man, is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. From Mikhail Gorbachev to Alfred Hitchcock to David Bowie, Bradbury’s sway on contemporary culture is towering. Acclaimed biographer and Bradbury scholar Sam Weller has spent more than a decade interviewing the author; the fascinating conversations that emerge cast a high-definition portrait of a creative genius and futurist who longs for yesterday. Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews is the definitive collection of interviews with an American icon.

Heard about a Book...

I heard about two baseball books that look interesting. Check them out.

Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s by Dan Epstein - The Major Leagues witnessed more dramatic stories and changes in the ‘70s than in any other era. The American popular culture and counterculture collided head-on with the national pastime, rocking the once-conservative sport to its very foundations. Outspoken players embraced free agency, openly advocated drug use, and even swapped wives. Controversial owners such as Charlie Finley, Bill Veeck, and Ted Turner introduced Astroturf, prime-time World Series, garish polyester uniforms, and outlandish promotions such as Disco Demolition Night. Hank Aaron and Lou Brock set new heights in power and speed while Reggie Jackson and Carlton Fisk emerged as October heroes and All-Star characters like Mark “The Bird” Fidrych became pop icons. For the millions of fans who grew up during this time, and especially those who cared just as much about Oscar Gamble’s afro as they did about his average, this book serves up a delicious, Technicolor trip down memory lane.

Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards by Josh Wilker - Cardboard Gods is the memoir of Josh Wilker, a writer who has marked the stages of his life through the baseball cards he collected as a child. It also captures the experience of growing up obsessed with baseball cards and explores what it means to be a fan of the game. Along the way, as we get to know Josh, his family, and his friends, we also get Josh’s classic observations about the central artifacts from his life: the baseball cards themselves. Josh writes about an imagined correspondence with his favorite player, Carl Yastrzemski; he uses the magical bubble-blowing powers of journeyman Kurt Bevacqua to shed light on the weakening of the powerful childhood bond with his older brother; he considers the doomed utopian back-to-the-land dreams of his hippie parents against the backdrop of inimitable 1970s baseball figures such as “Designated Pinch Runner” Herb Washington and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Cardboard Gods is more than just the story of a man who can’t let go of his past, it’s proof that—to paraphrase Jim Bouton—as children we grow up holding baseball cards but in the end we realize that it’s really the other way around.

Just Started...

Miss Sally reports, "I gave up on Ulysses by James Joyce. It was written in an early English style and very slow moving. I think the story was about four people in Dublin and followed them through the course of one day with many flashbacks for each character. However I listened to a CBC program on James Joyce and found out some interesting stuff about him. He was considered one of the first "modernist writers " in the same league as Hemingway. He lived in Paris for a while and spent a lot of time hanging out at a bookstore/coffee house owned by Sylvia Beech—she was an American living in Paris in the 1920's and she published this book for him—the only book she ever published. It was banned in the States because of some of the language and explicit text. To get around this she got her friends to take orders and had copies smuggled in, often through Canada. He often borrowed money from her and in the 1930's got her to give up her publishing rights so he could have it published by Random House which had a wider distribution and therefore more money for him. It would be of interest to read her biography as she was quite avant-garde for her time and helped a lot of struggling writers and lived quite the life in Paris."

I am now reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (see March 22) and am enjoying it.