Oct 28

Getting ready for the holidays. Ambiguous and unresolved ending. We recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.

The Holidays are Here!

Ann and I spent much of last week traveling around to tell bookstore customers and staff about the big books coming out for the holidays. Ann has started making her gift list and I’ve already started shopping. It truly looks like it’s going to be an amazing year for books as gifts.

This year, we’ll be doing something a little different for the BOTNS Gift Guide. It will be smaller, with personal blurbs from Ann and me. We’re calling it Books on the Nightstand’s 12 Books* of Christmas, and it will be published no later than Friday November 28th.

     *each (so that will be 24 personally selected titles)

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:15)

Haunting of Hill House, Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Wait… What Just Happened?! (08:48)

In one of my book presentations I described a book as having an ambiguous ending, and Ann noticed that a member of the audience wrinkled her nose. She knew right away it would be a great discussion. I immediately wanted to differentiate between two different kinds of endings (which I think might often get confused): ambiguous endings, where the author leaves some, or much, of the story’s end to the readers’ imaginations; and unresolved endings, in which you know exactly what happens to their characters but the story doesn’t fully resolve the issues raised by the plot. Ann and I both agree that ambiguous endings, that are done well, can enhance and extend the experience of the book. Unresolved endings may seem frustrating but, because lives are rarely tied up neatly, they are more realistic.

Another thing we discussed was the importance of discussion in helping some readers “come to terms” with ambiguous or unresolved endings. These types of books make for great book group selections. And online groups, like those on Goodreads, can serve that purpose for those not reading as part of group.

Some of the books we discussed:

We welcome your comments about ambiguous and unresolved endings both in the comments below, and at the thread we’ve started on our Goodreads group discussion board. We think spoilers should be allowed in these discussions, but please do put SPOILER ALERT at the top of your comment if you’re truly giving away a plot point, and not just the fact the book has an ambiguous or unresolved ending.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (25:16)

The Secret History of Wonder Woman     The Book of Strange New Things

I’ve converted Ann! She recommends a book about comic books!! (Not really, but close) Historian Jill Lepore has written what Ann calls a “general book of awesomeness.” In The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Lepore looks at the creation of Wonder Woman, the life of the man who created her, and the role of feminism in the 20th-century.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is a nearly impossible book to describe. At its heart it is the story of a man whose two most vital relationships, the one with his wife, and the one with his faith. Both of these relationships are being tested as never before. A recent article in the New York Times gives a wonderful look at Michel Faber, the writing of this book, and the tragic events that both informed this book and led to him saying that this will be his last novel.

Oct 21

This week we catch up on questions from our inbox. Have a question for us? Use our Google Form to ask.

But first…

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:25)

The Lottery and Other Stories

 

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson, narrated by the four different readers,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.
Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

 

Questions and Answers

Jeffrey asks when the next book in Justin Cronin’s trilogy that started with The Passage would be coming out. There’s no announced date yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can. Jeffrey also asked for recommendations of other books that he might enjoy, either similar to Justin Cronin,  The Strain series by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan, Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver, or young adult dystopian. Michael and I came up with the following:

We know there are many, many more recommendations for Jeffrey out there. Have some? Leave them in the comments so that he can see. Thanks!

 

Other questions asked include:

  • Have we ever recommended books that we haven’t quite finished and then been disappointed in the ending?
  • Is there such a thing as a “book hangover?” (Yes, and for some strategies to get over it, see BOTNS episode #209.)
  • What are some ways to read and understand short stories?
  • Is it helpful to read an author’s books in the order that he or she wrote them, in order to better get to know the author?
  • How do you ensure that you accurately rate a book? Do you go back and adjust if your feelings change over time?
  • What is the value of introductions, and if they contain spoilerish information, why are they printed at the beginning of the book?
  • How do you read a graphic novel? What do the images provide that the text does not? (Check out this pdf from Getgraphic.orghttp://www.getgraphic.org/resources/HowtoReadaGraphicNovel.pdf). In answering this question, Michael recommends Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, which is a graphic novel with no words.

 

 

Oct 14

Creepy book recommendations for October. Hardcovers and paperbacks. And we love Some Luck by Jane Smiley and Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.

Note: Apologies to those on our mailing list who received an e-mail containing several podcasts. It was a glitch that shouldn’t be repeated.

Creepy Reads for October

Emily from Los Angeles, asked, back in September (sorry for the delayed response!), for a creepy read for her book club to read in October. Here are some suggestions for books we loved and a book I’m planning to read in October:The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:25)

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin DoughtySmoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, narrated by the author,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Hardcover, Paperback, When Does It Matter? (15:14)

This week, we have a discussion about the differences in hardcovers and paperbacks. Last week I referred to a book as a “trade paperback original.” That means a book that was published first as a paperback; something that didn’t have a hardcover release. Trade paperbacks are the larger size of paperbacks, and tend to be of a higher physical quality than mass market paperbacks which are the smaller paperbacks you’re likely to find at a supermarket or newsstand.

There are many promotional reasons for publishers to choose to do a book as a paperback original, and recent statistics from the Nielsen company show that paperbacks still outsell hardcovers, and we can point to several book success stories that can possibly be attributed to the fact that they were released as paper originals.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (30:14)

Some Luck     Leaving Time

Ann recommends Jane Smiley’s Some Luck, the first in a trilogy that will cover 100 years in the Langdon family of Denby, Iowa. This book spans 1920-1953 (each chapter covers one year) and features the voices of several of the family members.

Jodi Picoult’s new book Leaving Time was the first of hers that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. The story of thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf and her search for her missing mother is wonderful on its own, but is enhanced even more by all of the incredible background on elephant emotions, specifically grief.
For further non-fiction reading on elephant emotions, check out When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and Elephant Memories by Cynthia Moss.

Oct 07

Coming-of-age novels for adults; October is National Reading Group Month, a new mystery, and a new Lee Child novel! 

Coming of Age Books, when you’ve already come of age

Anne Valente wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled 10 Essential Coming-of-Age Novels for Adults. Michael was struck by the fact that they were all contemporary novels. We have a discussion about what makes a novel a “coming-of-age” novel, and why they might appeal to adult readers.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:31)


Afterworlds Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, narrated by Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

 

 

October is National Reading Group Month (13:48)

The Women’s National Book Associate has dubbed October “National Reading Group Month,” to honor, thank, and draw attention to reading groups around the US. Many local chapters of the WNBA program special events around National Reading Group month, and they publish a list of  “Great Group Reads.” At Books on the Nightstand, we are big fans of “shared reading,’ and we explore some other forms beyond reading groups in this discussion.

 

 Two books we can’t wait for you to read (25:38)

 

The Life We Bury     Personal

 

Michael talks about The Life We Bury by Alan Eskens, a mystery that goes on sale October 14th. The main character is assigned to interview someone for an English class, and ends up talking to a dying man who has been released from prison on compassionate leave.

My pick this week is Lee Child’s Personal, which is the 19th book in Child’s Jack Reacher series. Despite the long-running success of this series, Lee Child is still innovating — this book is a bit of a departure from other Reacher novels, including its London setting.

Sep 30

Booktopia 2015 announcements, Many graphic novel recommendations, and a new segment, “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

It’s our 300th episode! We can hardly believe it ourselves.

Booktopia 2015!

Finally, the announcement so many of you have been waiting for… Booktopia 2015 dates and places:

A few notes about those dates. You’ll notice these Booktopia events only span 2 days, not the usual 3. Right now, these are the days we are sure there will be programming. For Vermont, events may be added on April 30 and May 3. For Petoskey, events may be added on September 20. Also, you’ll notice Booktopia Petoskey runs on a Monday and a Tuesday. This was done to dramatically reduce the hotel prices we secured for Booktopia guests.

Registration for both of these events will occur early in 2015. Be sure to join the Booktopia mailing list to find out when those dates will be.

And now, the bad news: Our two Booktopia events in 2015 will be the final Booktopia events for the foreseeable future. We do hope that some of you out there will continue to gather together to talk and celebrate books, and we’d love to see book stores adopt the model of bookish weekends featuring multiple authors. But, for us, the simple fact is that there aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s the short answer; please listen to the podcast for our full discussion of why we’re ending Booktopia.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (12:25)


We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel, Matthew ThomasWe Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas, narrated by Mare Winningham,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

A Whole Mess of Graphic Novels (16:15)

Shoplifter   Trillium   Letter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity   Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

I seem to have read a ton of graphic novels over the past few months (and will be reading more because of the Coursera course I’m taking). Here are some of the titles I’ve loved recently. The first and last titles are perfect for people who haven’t graphic novels before.

Don’t You Forget About Me (31:17)

It’s the debut of a new, monthly segment where we look back, sometimes way back, at books that have been out for awhile, what in the industry is termed “backlist.” Once a month, we’ll each highlight a book we love that you might have missed the first time around, or might have completely forgotten about.

The Alienist  Shot in the Heart

I recommend The Alienist by Caleb Carr. These days, historical thrillers with real-life figures of the past solving mysteries seem a dime a dozen. But, when The Alienist was published in 1994 that was not the case. This mystery, set in 1896 NYC, features then police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, and still feels as fresh and exciting as the day it came out.

Ann recommends Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore, a literary memoir of his family, his dysfunctional parents, and the legacy of crime, adultery, child abuse, and murder, that led to the creation of Mikal’s brother, murderer Gary Gilmore, who was executed in 1977 at his own request.

Sep 23

During Booktopia Asheville, podcaster extraordinaire Simon Savidge, of The Readers, You Wrote the Book, and Hear…Read This!, sat down with Ann and me to answer questions that had been submitted by Booktopia attendees earlier in the weekend.

You’ll learn a lot about all three of us, but this is only half the conversation… Head over to The Readers to hear PART 2!

photo

Sep 16

 A novel that won’t be read for 100 years; reading goals (or not) for the fall, and two books of nonfiction that we can’t wait for you to read.

 

Why I’m exploring human cryogenic preservation

 

Margaret Atwood has been invited to be the first author to participate in The Future Library project. Atwood will write a new book for the project. However, it won’t be printed and published until 2114.

This is a very cool project, undertaken by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, and I’m just sad that I won’t be around to read Atwood’s book.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (08:17)


The Miniaturist     The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton, read by Davina Porter, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Looking backward, looking forward (12:49)

 

in this segment, Michael and I look back on our summer reading, including Beach Blanket Book Bingo, and talk about our reading in the months ahead.

We are going to keep the Bingo cards up, but we won’t be doing another official Book Bingo challenge until next summer. We’ll announce our plans and take suggestions for categories in February.

Basically, Michael and I are not making reading promises this fall. We’re going to read whatever we want, with no particular reading goals. Michael will also be reading for his Coursera class on The Graphic Novel that starts on September 22nd.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (23:46)

 

The Teacher Wars      Happiness of Pursuit

 

The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein is the book that I can’t wait for you to read this week. I recommend it for anyone who has kids or is interested in the public education system. It’s first a history of teaching, but it also shows how we got to the place where we are now, with the controversies and turmoil that are in the news right now.

Michael recommends The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau, a book that looks at the benefits that come from working toward a quest, whether big or small — something that is challenging but has an attainable goal. This book has Michael thinking about undertaking a quest of his own.

Sep 09

Due to audio recording difficulties, this week’s episode is short. But, we still manage to recommend an audiobook, plus The Children Act by Ian McEwan and Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis.

 

Due to technical difficulties and an incomplete audio file, we have a short episode this week, one that has been stitched together from several different recordings. We will return next week with a full episode – recording equipment willing!

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (01:54)


Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor, Jon ScieszkaFrank Einstein and the Anti-Matter Motor 
by Jon Scieszka, narrated by Jon Scieszka and Brian Briggs,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (05:29)

21965107     20176975

Big surprise.. Ann loved Ian McEwan’s new book The Children Act! It’s not like he’s her favorite author or anything. McEwan’s new book, about a British Family Court judge whose own family is starting to fracture, is short, but Ann read it slowly, savoring McEwan’s wonderful prose.

Dylan Landis’s Rainey Royal tells the story of Rainey from age 14 through her mid-20’s. She lives, sometimes, with her father, a jazz musician more interested in his fawning acolytes than in his daughter. Her and her friends find themselves in situations that are comic, uncomfortable, and often dangerous. Rainey, her friends, and their stories will stay with me for a long time.

Sep 02

A grant that allows writers to spend time reading, and Michael and I both talk about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Getting Paid to Read:

 

Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries, has announced that she will be using her prize money to give writers time to read. We love this idea and wish we could apply. This Guardian article gives a great overview of Catton’s plans and reasons. Bravo, Eleanor Catton!

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (12:15)

In the Kingdom of Ice

 

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides, narrated by Arthur Morey,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

One book we can’t wait for you to read, and that we can’t stop talking about (13:30):

 

Station Eleven

 

Once again, Michael and I planned to talk about the same book for our “Two books we can’t wait to read” segment. Rather than come to blows over who got to talk about it, we started discussing it — and it turned into a bigger discussion. So we stopped before we got too far, hit “record” and turned it into this segment. The book is Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, which is on sale September 9th. Trust us on this one — order a copy from your bookstore, reserve it from your library, whatever it takes to get this in your hands right away.

I don’t want to boil down our discussion to a few bullet points, so you’ll just have to listen. Sorry. But really, we want you to listen. If you are receiving this by email, you can listen by clicking the ‘download file’ link at the bottom of the email.

Aug 26

 

This week we bring you the first two author talks from Booktopia Boulder, recorded at Boulder Book Store. Please enjoy these talks from Jonathan Miles, author of Want Not, and Kristi Helvig, author of Burn Out.

 

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