Book of the Month - October, 2005

September 20th, 2005

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckThe Grapes of Wrath is a landmark of American literature. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man's fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman's stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America. Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women in the transformation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an American divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plain-spoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

First published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom's Cabin summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book -- which takes its title from the first verse: "He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored." At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck's fictional chronicle of the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

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George R. R. Martin

September 3rd, 2005

George R. R. Martin is the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. He heads out on the road late in 2005 to promote the long awaited fourth part of the series, A Feast for Crows.

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. MartinAppearance of note:
Friday, November 11th at 7:00 pm
Borders Bookstore
Ann Arbor, Michigan

The UK leg of his tour is in mid to late October. He will be in the US early to mid November. A complete list of US tour dates is available here.

A Feast for Crows has a release date in the US on November 8, 2005 and in the UK on October 17. Preorder a copy here.

Book of the Month - September, 2005

August 20th, 2005

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonJoe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America -- the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells and unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

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My To-Read-Pile Philosophy.

August 13th, 2005

Many readers maintain a constant surplus of books from which they may choose what to read next. The idea of a to-read-pile for some is literal; for others it is figurative. Different people have different approaches to their to-read-pile. My pile is figurative. I know that I have a home full of books, some I have read, many I have not. Of those I have not read, I do not even plan currently to read each and every one. I do not plan too far in advance, the order in which I will read my books. When I am nearly finished with the book I am reading I will pick what will be next. And for people who finish a book with no plans to even go to their local library to choose the next one, I do not know how you do it. You are stronger than I. I will actually not finish a book until I have picked what is next so at the moment I am ready I may pick up the next and get started. Finish one book, reflect, start the next.

Using a literal to-read-pile where you have an actual order for the books you will read subsequently is not for me. A lot of which book I choose depends on my current mood and how busy I will be for the upcoming week or two. If I know I will be swamped I will try to choose something that is lighter; an easier read. If I know I do not have many things scheduled I might try to tackle a book that requires a little more time and attention. It is very difficult to plan that more than a book or two in advance.

I have a difficult enough time when I travel. If I am going away for an extended period of time (3+ days) I try to pack in a "just in case" manner. It is funny when I am able to discuss this approach with other reader travellers. I take the book I am reading and one, two, maybe even three more books. The number of books then will depend upon number of pages, writing style, content and of course how much time I will have to devote to reading on my trip. The time I have available to read starts with a wait in the airport before each leg of my trip and then each leg of my round-trip flight. It is hard enough choosing a small handful of books to bring along when I fly, let alone planning say months in advance. Have I ever finished that many books on a trip? No. Why take so many? Because I can never not be reading a book, even though I am not always actually in the act of reading it. I guess it is a character flaw.

I am not sure I could ever, and I know I would never, try to place a stay on my book buying. Sure I have a lot of good books at home that I have not yet read, but there is so much excitement in buying new books. The idea of "I will not buy another book until I have read every book that I currently own" does not appeal to me. I have a company in New York that sends me books monthly and I generally treat myself to an order from every month or two.

When those packages arrive I am like a kid on Christmas. Even though from Amazon I know what is in the box, I cannot wait to get it open. Why place a hold on that feeling? I cannot find a reason to do so.

The 2005 Man Booker Prize (Nominees)

August 11th, 2005

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction. One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
The Sea by John Banville The Sea by John Banville
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee
In the Fold by Rachel Cusk In the Fold by Rachel Cusk
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
All For Love by Dan Jacobson All For Love by Dan Jacobson
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Saturday by Ian McEwan Saturday by Ian McEwan
The People’s Act of Love by James Meek The People’s Act of Love by James Meek
Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie
The Accidental by Ali Smith The Accidental by Ali Smith
On Beauty by Zadie Smith On Beauty by Zadie Smith
This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson
This Is The Country by William Wall This Is The Country by William Wall

Note: This is the longlist. The shortlist will be announced on September 8 and the winner will be announced on October 10.

Looking to fill the void.

August 11th, 2005

One of the steps, though I guess I am not sure which one, in dealing with the two year wait for the next Harry Potter is to find another series to read and help pass the time. Yes, there are many books published, but I am looking for something a little more fun in line with the Potter series.

Wil actually took the initiative and began asking around for a series that would help curb his appetite before Book 7. The first series suggested was The Edge Chronicles. After hearing that I did what I do best and started playing around on this glorious internet and came across the Artemis Fowl series.

One thing that will help is that book two of The Inheritance Series (author of Eragon) comes out soon. And even though it is a lot different from Harry, I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy so that probably does not help me. But for more Tolkien I have been meaning to read The Silmarillion.

Has anyone read any of the above books/series (primarily the Edge Chronicles and Artemis Fowl)? Are they any good? Do you have any other suggestions for me and others?

Michael Connelly

August 6th, 2005

Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series will be on tour in the Northeast in late 2005 for a quick promotion of his new (non-Bosch) novel.

A Word From Michael Connelly:
Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly"The Lincoln Lawyer is a book that I had an idea for about five or six years ago," Connelly said, "but it was going to be one that needed a lot of research, so I didn't do it for a while. I met a lawyer in Los Angeles who basically used his car as an office. L.A. is so spread out, and the traffic is so bad, and there are 39 courthouses in L.A. County where proceedings take place. He found he was always in his car, moving from courthouse to courthouse, so he kind of outfitted his car with a fax machine, and computer and printers," Connelly continued. "He works in his Lincoln Town Car as he moves from courthouse to courthouse. He used clients who were having trouble paying him as his drivers and so forth. That was the thumbnail I got about five years ago, and it took me until now to spend some time with some lawyers and in court so I could write it."

Visit for tour dates and locations. The Lincoln Lawyer hits shelves October 3, 2005. Pre-order a copy.

Did I mention that I like other extravagent things?

July 31st, 2005

I make one little comment on the blog about having an affinity for signed books and they start popping up. For the record I also like DVDs, I need a new suit, maybe some gift certificates...oh and you can just buy yourself stuff, too, from Amazon, just click on my links ;).

It is truly a family affair, both sisters and the sister-in-law-to-be. Thank you Alison for my package. It is a good thing that you asked if I had gotten it yet though, it was placed by my front door. I NEVER go out my front door. Who knows how long it would have sat there...

I have always wanted to read David Sedaris (author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked) so thank you for my signed copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I am very excited.

Christopher Paolini

July 24th, 2005

Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, will begin promoting his new book, and second in the Inheritance Trilogy, Eldest in New York and moving on to 22 cities.

A complete list of the tour stops is listed Here. Eldest

Appearance of note:
Wednesday, August 31st at 7:00 pm
Borders Bookstore
3527 Washtenaw Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Eldest comes out on August 23, 2005. Preorder a copy Here.

Book of the Month - August, 2005

July 20th, 2005

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity by Nick HornbyRob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films (Reservoir Dogs...); top five Elvis Costello songs ("Alison"...); top five episodes of Cheers (the one where Woody sang his stupid song to Kelly...). Rob tries dating a singer whose rendition of "Baby, I Love Your Way" makes him cry. Buy maybe it's just that he's always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think (awful as it sounds) that life as an episode of thirtysomething, with all the kids and marriages and barbecues and k.d. lang CDs that this implies, might not be so bad.

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