It’s not the official Book Blogger Appreciation Week topic today, but it is the Top Ten Tuesday topic: books I read because of other bloggers. Here are some books I might not have read this year if it were not for other bloggers. After all, it’s my job to push books on all of you, but these people did it for nothing more than the love of books! Links go to their original reviews/features:
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
recommended by: Jen at Devourer of Books
why I read it: Girls was originally recommended to me at BEA by my friend and Harper Perennial editor extraordinaire Maya, whose word is enough to convince me to get on a book signing line for a book I had never heard of. But it was Jen’s review that convinced me to pick it up off my shelf and actually read it.
Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
recommended by: Rebecca at the Book Lady’s Blog
why I read it: While I often rely on recommendations for fiction, it’s nonfiction where I find they’re extra crucial for me, since sometimes I can be lured into a not-so-excellently-written book by a good topic. I’m also very tempted here to make a joke about Rebecca knowing all about sin, but I’ll somehow resist!
What books have I recommended that you’ve enjoyed?
Welcome to Book Blogger Appreciation Week! For anyone who doesn’t know, BBAW is a week to celebrate book bloggers and all that they do. (There’s also an awards portion, and we’re up for Best Publishing Industry Blog! Click on that link and scroll down to the bottom for voting instructions.)
Today’s theme is community, and bloggers are supposed to highlight other bloggers who’ve made blogging unique and fun for them. Since we work with so many bloggers, all of whom are wonderful in their own ways, I’m just going to mention a few people I appreciate for reasons OTHER than their awesome book blogs.
Lori at TNBBC: Lori does not live in New York City, and yet I’ve probably hung out with her more than almost any other blogger. That’s because she will hop in her car and schlep herself here if the situation warrants it—like a Blake Butler event, or the Brooklyn Book Festival, or of course BEA. Sometimes I don’t even make it to events at BookCourt, and it’s a 10-minute walk from my house. I am always in awe of her dedication, and happy for it because it means we get to hang out!
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket: Nicole excels at a very difficult task: wrangling our real-life book club! Really, we wouldn’t even have a book club if Nicole hadn’t decided to organize an NYC blogger meet-up a few months ago.
It goes without saying that I read a lot of Harper Perennial books. But sometimes (in fact, many times) I like to venture outside of my semi-required reading and reading other publishers’ books. And sometimes, even though this is the Harper Perennial blog, I have to write about them and recommend them to you:
Girls in White Dresses
Girls in White Dresses is a novel-in-stories about a group of Boston College grads living in New York City, following them from just post-college until they’re around 30. And I loved it. What I loved most of all was the way the girls talked to each other—Jennifer Close nailed the dialogue, really capturing the way friends speak, the shorthand and the slang that comes from knowing people for forever. But beyond that she nailed the feeling of being in New York in your 20s, when you’re vaguely dissatisfied and you don’t know why, and your job sucks and your boyfriend sucks and your apartment sucks and the only thing that doesn’t suck are your friends. Also, the chapter on being a bridesmaid was so dead-on I wanted to call my best friend (who I was a bridesmaid with) and read it to her.
If you liked Girls in White Dresses, the Harper Perennial book you might enjoy is: Rachel Shukert’s Everything Is Going to Be Great
Rachel’s book is a memoir, and it’s more uproarious, but it captures that same “who am I? where is my life going? why am I so drunk?” feeling.
A Friend of the Family
I was blown away by this book this weekend. It’s about a man whose life, though not entirely perfect, actually pretty much is—loving wife, rebellious son who will probably ultimately turn out fine, great job as a doctor, awesome friends. And then he lets it all fall apart after the return of his best friend’s bizarre daughter, but not in the way you’d expect. I was completely, totally riveted.
If you liked A Friend of the Family, the Harper Perennial book you might enjoy is: You Don’t Love This Man YDLTM explores the same territory—a man in midlife taking stock of his life as it seems to be falling apart—but it’s somewhat lighter. (Although I cried at this and not at AFOTF, so who knows.)
Just got in a new quote for Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen, out this winter:
“Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen is the sort of novel we’ve heard nobody is able to write anymore: erudite and hilarious, raunchy and topical, and flat-out fun. Nicholson Baker meets Barthleme with a dash of Nabokov – Wilson is not a writer for the faint-of-heart. But quit mourning the so-called death of the great novel and buy this altogether magical book.”
— Darin Strauss, author of Chang & Eng and Half a Life
Gerry Hadden had planned to be a Buddhist monk, but changed his mind when he was offered his dream job: NPR correspondent for Latin America. He arrived in Mexico in 2000 not knowing what to expect, and soon found that both hope and uncertainty would characterize his time there. He witnessed and reported on Mexico’s first democratic transition of power, Colombia’s drug wars, Guatemala’s emigration issues, and Haiti’s bloody rebellion, all while trying to make a home for himself and the woman he came to love. I started reading his book right as I started listening to NPR on a regular basis (I was never a radio listener, but moved in with a devoted one, and now I listen every day), and it completely enhanced my daily listening. If you’ve ever listened to a two-minute NPR report from a war-torn country that manages to get at the heart of what’s going on and wondered what life was like for the reporter, or how he or she had managed to get the story, this is the book for you.
This short video shows some of the photos from the book and really highlights the amazing and unusual situations Gerry encountered:
We launched our summer lists a few weeks ago, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk about the books I’m most excited about until now. Of course, just because a book isn’t on the list below doesn’t mean it’s not going to be awesome. This list also includes the books that will be published by our friends at Harper hardcover. So, here are my books to look out for in summer 2012:
My #1 most awesome, most anticipated, book:
236 Pounds of Vice-President by Jason Mulgrew (like Everything is Wrong with Me, the high school years. The pictures alone had me laughing so hard I nearly peed my pants, and Jason Mulgrew is one of my all-time favorite authors to hang out with.)
The book that made me blush:
With My Body by Nikki Gemmell (This book about the romance between a young woman and an older, mysterious man is dirty. In a good way!)
The book with the great tag line:
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (Someone described this Harper hardcover book as “Downton Abbey with a dark turn.” I don’t even watch Downton Abbey and that still intrigued me.)
The followup to a favorite:
The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (We all loved The Financial Lives of the Poets, and now Jess is back with something completely different that involves an almost-love affair, Italy, Hollywood, and the making of Cleopatra.)
The other book with a great tag line:
I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert (a memoir described as “Lucky meets Bridesmaids.”)
I have been DYING to tell you all about this promotion we’ve had in the works for a while!
For the month of August, we’re offering 20 of our backlist ebooks for just 99 cents each! They’re available at all retailers: amazon, B&N, the ibookstore, the google bookstore, and of course through your favorite indies. Many of our favorite indies have even put up special pages on their sites for the promotion, and I’m thrilled to link to them here!
Of the 20 books we’re featuring, I’ve read 13 in their entirety and parts of some others, so if anyone out there wants to know which book to try, just let me know what type of stuff you like in the comments and I’m happy to make a suggestion!
I’ve been a bad, bad Tales of the City reader. Here I am, posting late again, this time about More Tales of the City, the second book in the series. In my defense, I will say that I did actually read the book only a day or so late, but just haven’t had a chance to post. I’m hanging my head in shame right now, trust me.
So, when we left off, what we learned in the first book was that everyone has secrets. Here in the second book, many of those secrets have been revealed. The big one, of course, is Mrs. Madrigal’s, which began to come out into the open in the first book but is really explored here. Somehow, I remembered this revelation coming at the very end of the series, so I was quite surprised to see if take up so many pages here! Other than that, things pretty much keep shuffing along for the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, and I continue to find it hard to talk about them without spoiling anything for anyone. There’s a death, a life-threatening illness, a crazy crime ring, a romance, and more, but it always feels fun and never too far over the top.
Character I loved the most in this book: Brian (still)
Character I liked the least: Burke. He’s kind of a drip.
Who are your favorite and least favorite characters so far? Who do you hope we see more of in the next book?
Wouldn’t you love to spend a weekend with these lovely faces?
They, along with Book Club Girl, will be at Club Read in Virginia from October 15-16! Club Read is a reader’s retreat that will run from noon on Saturday October 15th through 2 pm on Sunday October 16th at Mariner’s Landing Resort in Huddleston. The weekend will kick off with a Happiness Project lunch with #1 New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin and will conclude on Sunday with book club maven Adriana Trigiani regaling readers at a Don’t Sing at the Table luncheon. In between, authors will speak at panels, meals and other fun events, and readers will get to mix and mingle with authors both favorite and new. You can see the current schedule of events here and the complete list of attending authors here.
You can buy a ticket either at one of the participating bookstores, or via the website. Club Read is brought to readers by the North Atlantic Independent Bookselling Association and the Southern Independent Bookselling Association. Additional sponsors include Reading Group Choices and Authors Around the South.
Follow Club Read on Twitter and friend them on Facebook for news and updates.
Sadly, it’s the same weekend as the Boston Book Festival, so I won’t be there, but I can assure you that Book Club Girl knows how to party. So do Jessica Blau and Greg Olear and Matthew Norman. I don’t know the other authors well enough to comment on their partying abilities, but I have faith.
Claude belongs to Kirk Farber, author of the recent Colorado Book Award-winning Postcards from a Dead Girl. He has a 6-foot vertical leap and often acts as lumbar support on Kirk’s office chair when he’s writing. He also responds to the name “Orange Panther.”
After a few false starts, I’m now ready to share my thoughts on everyone’s favorite San Francisco saga, Tales of the City!
For anyone who doesn’t know, the main characters of Tales of the City are:
Mary Ann: a secretary from Cleveland who decides to move to San Francisco. She’s somewhat naive but learns quickly.
Mona: a copywriter who may or may not be a lesbian and likes to take Quaaludes
Michael: Mona’s gay best friend and the sweetest character. Also, seems not to work ever.
Brian: something of a Lothario (he ends up sleeping with a girl AND her mom), but underneath seems dissatisfied with it all. Mrs Madrigal: their landlord, who provides joints and has many secrets
Edgar Halcyon: Mary Ann and Mona’s boss, head of a major advertising agency and DeDe’s dad
DeDe Halcyon Day: Edgar’s daughter. A socialite who is also fairly dissatisfied.
Beauchamp Day: DeDe’s husband. Kind of a jerk. Also, his name is pronounced “bee-cham,” which I forgot from my first reading and kept forgetting throughout the entire book.
D’orothea: Mona’s current/former girlfriend. Former high-fashion model.
With the exception of Mary Ann, who introduces us to this world, every single character in Tales of the City has a secret. Some are fairly innocent (Brian was once a lawyer), while some are decidedly not (I won’t give anything away, but there’s infidelity, deadly diseases, pornography, and pretending to be a difference race.) And aside from one secret that isn’t even revealed until the later books, I had forgotten every single one, which made re-reading this book a complete and total joy. The chapters are all 3-5 pages long, and the book speeds by. Like many of my experiences re-reading old favorites, this was so incredibly relaxing.
When I read this ten years ago, there were so many things I didn’t appreciate that I do now. The greatest strength of this is the dialogue. It’s real and true and there’s tons of it, which I love. Give me two pages of dialogue over two pages of descriptions any day. I also didn’t appreciate the character of Brian as much as I do now. Reading it again he was definitely my favorite, even though he probably has the smallest role in the book. But this time around he just seemed so normal, so almost . . . quiet . . . in his dissatisfaction.
I also hate Beauchamp. But I always did.
What did you think? Was this your first time reading or are you a fan?
Today is Canada Day. When I think of Canada, I think of:
1. Our friends at HarperCollins Canada, and the olive reader’s brother blog The Savvy Reader. (For some reason, I think of the olive reader as a girl and the savvy reader as a boy.)
2. The strawberry shortcake McFlurry I had at a McDonald’s in Montreal in 2004.
3. Some of our amazing Canadian authors and their books, like:
Alison Pick, author of Far to Go, the story of a family and their governess on the eve of World War II and the betrayal that awaits them
Miriam Toews, author of the upcoming Swing Low, a hard-to-categorize yet fascinating book about her father’s suicide and struggle with depression
Late last week, I began to panic. I was deep (or really, not as deep as I would have liked) into reading Game of Thrones, which is nearly 800 pages long, and I suddenly realized that I had less than a week left to not only finish that chunkster but also re-read Tales of the City for the readalong. So I buckled down, managed to finish GoT on Monday and still do tons of freelance work, and started Tales on Tuesday night. I was on track to finish by today if I tried hard, but . . . I fell asleep!
So I was all set to come here today and write a post about what I was enjoying so far and confess my sin of not finishing. I took a look at the schedule and realized that, as usual, I have been soundly defeated by math. Somehow, I set the first book for discussion today, and then put the second book almost four weeks later. And yet all of the other ones are two weeks apart. What did I do here? I still don’t know. Therefore, I’ve adjusted the schedule so that it actually makes sense now.
7/7 – Discussion of Tales of the City
7/19 – Discussion of More Tales of the City
8/4 – Discussion of Further Tales of the City
8/23 – Discussion of Babycakes
9/8 – Discussion of Significant Others
9/27 – Discussion of Sure of You
10/13 – Discussion of Michael Tolliver Lives
10/27 – Discussion of Mary Ann in Autumn
And we now have a lovely tile ad that you can include if you’re participating!
And, since there’s another whole week for you all to read Tales and since I have more copies on my shelves, I’ll give some more away! I’ll pick five random commenters (please put your email address or twitter handle in the comments so I can contact you.)