Mar 31

Why are some of us drawn to dark, disturbing works of fiction? Don’t you forget about Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand and Arthur and George by Julian Barnes.

 

Ann discovered a wonderful time-suck of a website: What’s That Book? It’s a site where anyone can post details of a book that they remember but for which they can’t recall the title or author, and other users can try to help.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:18)

Smek for President!, Adam RexSmek for President! by Adam Rex, narrated by Bahni Turpin, 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

 

Why Read Dark? (07:58)

After discussing A Little Life, Ann got several comments asking why people like dark, upsetting, and sad books. We have a long – sometimes convoluted – discussion about what dark books might do differently than lighter books, like provoke a strong emotional response. But, you have to be a reader who is willing to feel those feelings (as evidenced by the reaction of one of the Tournament of Books’ judges to the books he read). Is there a need among some people to vicariously feel the fear, horror, or disgust that can be experienced by things like reading a dark book or seeing a horror movie? Is encountering emotions that way as powerful as experiencing them in real life? Stanford scientists took MRIs of people reading Jane Austen, to see what their brain did. From the article about this study: “After reviewing early scans, neuroscientist Bob Dougherty… said he was impressed by ‘how the right patterns of ink on a page can create vivid mental imagery and instill powerful emotions.’ ”

What do all of you think about reading dark, disturbing books? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below! We’re very eager to hear what you all think!

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (27:15)

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Unbroken has been a huge hit, and many people have likely gone back to read Laura Hillenbrand’s first book Seabiscuit, but if you haven’t you really must. If you’re like I was, you might wonder why you’d ever want to read a book about horse racing, but Hillenbrand makes the tale of a horse and three men, each damaged in their own way, truly unforgettable.

Ann recommends Arthur & George, Julian Barnes’ fictional account of a real-life crime and the correspondence between the accused and the creator of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a case that has recently had new evidence come to light. (That new evidence is a bit of a spoiler to the story, so don’t click through if you’re planning on reading the book!)

Mar 24

Tournament of Books Upsets!

We’re almost into the final rounds of the Morning News Tournament of Books, and it’s been a season of upsets. My favorite part of the competition is the commentary, so I’m not even that sad that my favorite books have been knocked out of the competition (though I’m rooting for Station Eleven and Dept. of Speculation to come back in the Zombie round).

 

audiobooks Audiobook of the week (07:01)

Hausfrau 
Hausfrau, written by Jill Alexander Essbaum and narrated by Mozhan Marno 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

 

Technology in fiction (11:40)

Our conversation this week is inspired by “Reader, I Muted Him, an article written by Steve Himmer, author of Fram.

Technology in fiction can be tricky — dilemmas become easily solved with a cellphone and access to the internet. Missed connections are no longer missed, thanks to text messages and phone calls. But there also some books that put technology at the center. Himmer’s Fram is one, as is Jonathan Coe’s The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim. How would your favorite novel be changed if modern technology had a walk-on role? How ubiquitous does a technology have to be to add meaning a novel? We talk about these and other questions for which there are no answers.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:54)

 

The Tusk That Did the Damage    Better than Before

The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James is a novel that multi-layered novel that is told from the point of view of three characters: a young filmmaker, an elephant poacher, and the elephant himself. Yes, part of the novel is told from the perspective of the elephant. Believe me, it totally works, and was my favorite part of the novel.

Michael really enjoyed Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin, which gave him insight into his “habit tendencies.” Filled with personal stories and case studies, Michael found himself marking sections and pages, and learned a lot about himself.

 

 

Mar 17

This week we bring you the final two author talks from Booktopia Boulder, recorded at Boulder Book Store. Please enjoy these talks from TaraShea Nesbit, author of The Wives of Los Alamos, and Peter Heller, author of The Painter.

(There’s also a sneak peek mention of my selection for next week’s Book I Can’t Wait For You to Read: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin, on sale today)

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Mar 10

This week, a very special episode focusing on just one book, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:30)Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Doc, written by Mary Doria Russell and narrated by Mark Bramhall 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 Little Life

This week, Michael and I talk about A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

I wanted to dedicate this episode to a single book, because it’s a book that I feel intensely passionate about. It’s brilliant, accomplished, should win awards — and it’s emotionally devastating. It’s not a book that I can sum up easily. And it’s not a book that is for everyone.  It’s dark, and sometimes difficult to read about the horrors that one man experiences in his little life. But in the end, it is more than worth the uncomfortable moments that make you want to look away from the page.

Because it’s not easy for me to write about this book, you can hear me talk about it (if you are receiving this via email, there should be a download link at the bottom of the email. Just download the file, open it and listen).

It’s an incredibly important book. I think you’ll be hearing a lot about it.

I hope you’ll read it, and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

Mar 03

Books coming to theaters this year. We recommend Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey and On Hurricane Island by Ellen Meeropol.

 

A few “books within books” that didn’t make it into last week’s podcast:

  • The seven novels featured in The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
  • The Deity Next Door for which an afterword was written in The Afterword by Mike Bryan

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:30)

Last Policeman, Ben H. WintersThe Last Policeman (the first book in a trilogy) by Ben H. Winters, narrated by Peter Berkrot, 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

 

On Shelves Now, In Theaters Soon (08:14)

The Huffington Post compiled a list of 10 Books That Will Vie for the 2016 Oscars:

Many of these won’t be out until later in the year, giving you plenty of time to read them before you see the movie!

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (22:22)

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Ann recommends Girl in the Dark, a memoir by Anna Lyndsey, which is a pseudonym. As a young woman, Anna was diagnosed with an extremely rare light sensitivity, and in this book she details what that diagnosis and its aftermath have done to her daily life, her relationships, and her existence.

On Hurricane Island, the new novel from our bookselling friend Ellen Meeropol, is both a look at the abuses of governmental powers as well as a page-turner of a thriller. Ellen deftly tells the story of a mathematics professor wrongly detained by Homeland security, and she tells it from the points of view of an array of very different characters.

Feb 24

What books within novels do you most want to read? Don’t you forget about Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and A Simple Plan by Scott Smith.

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In a New York Times Op-ed, Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote beautifully and poignantly about his terminal cancer diagnosis. It is an extremely touching piece that everyone should read. Dr. Sacks’s memoir, On the Move, will be published April 28.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:50)

Big Little Lies, Liane MoriartyBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee, is Ann’s 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

 

Fictional Books in Fiction Books (08:58)

Over at our Goodreads group, Keith asked which fictional books – books within other books – we would most like to read. We mention quite a few books that don’t really exist (and some that were eventually published in the real world), and then discuss which we’d most like to read ourselves.

What are some of your favorite fictional books? Which would you most like to read? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (22:09)

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Ann recommends Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, published way back in 2005. It’s set in a boarding school, and we know how Ann loves those. It’s very different from Ishiguro’s other books, and it’s very hard to describe without giving anything away. Ishiguro has a new book coming out soon and Ann will be telling you about that as soon as it’s out.

Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan is a propulsive page turner. This dark, and often disturbing, debut novel shows just how quickly an ordinary man can turn violent when money and family are on the line. Plus, it’s filled with lots of scenes in snow, and can’t we all use a little more snow these days? (no.)

Feb 17

The many jobs you can have around books. We recommend The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw, and The Sculptor by Scott McCloud.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (02:34)

Hounded, Kevin HearneHounded (Book One of the Iron Druid Chronicles) by Kevin Hearne, narrated by Luke Daniels, 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

 

Our Most Frequently Asked Question (07:10)

Listener Corey asked two questions: How did Ann and I get our jobs? and What are some possible jobs involving books? For the first question, the short answers are: Ann graduated with three majors including magazine journalism, had trouble finding a job, and was placed at Dell Publishing where she saw a poster celebrating 25 years of Yearling Books. After seeing so many of her childhood favorites on there, she knew she wanted to stick around. I’ve worked in bookstores since I was 15, eventually ending up as a buyer for a bookstore where I worked with and got to know publishers’ sales reps. When one of the Random House reps left, the other one recommended me for the job.

Corey’s second question is a big one. A recent post on the Reading Rainbow blog describes jobs and hobbies that will surround you with books. They list many options. One of the jobs they list is “Publisher,” and Ann and I are able to expand on that one listing quite a bit. There are countless jobs within publishing itself, and as the industry and technologies evolve, there are new types of jobs being created all the time.

There are also many publishing courses (some Master’s degree and some Summer class) available from colleges and universities: The ones we mention are:

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (30:28)

 

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Holly LeCraw’s The Half Brother follows Charlie Garrett, a teacher at a New England prep school, who falls in love with the headmaster’s daughter. They end their relationship, but things come to a head ten years later when she returns to campus just as Charlie’s magnetic half-brother begins teaching.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud is a new addition to my all-time favorite graphic novels, and will surely be one of my favorite books of 2015. Struggling sculptor David Smith makes a deal with Death: in exchange for unfettered control over materials, David will die in 200 days. What happens when inspiration still doesn’t strike, but love does?

Feb 10

Booktopia VT authors. Short books for a short month. And we recommend Get in Trouble by Kelly Link, and Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny.

 

Harper Lee is NOT Coming to Booktopia Vermont

Two bits of news to cover in the first segment of this episode.

Up first, is the huge news that Harper Lee will publish her second novel, 55 years after her first, and amid much speculation. Go Set a Watchman will be released on July 14.

We’re thrilled to announce here on the podcast, the full line-up of authors for Booktopia Vermont:

Don’t forget: Northshire Bookstore has a special page set up where you can order these books and have them shipped to you or held at the store for pickup during Booktopia weekend.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:20)

Autumn Balloon, Kenny PorporaThe Autumn Balloon by Kenny Porpora, narrated by the author, is 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

 

Short Month, Short Stories (14:16) 22543938

February is a short month and many short story collections are just out or out very soon. Is there something about reading (and publishing) short stories in the winter? We speculate on a few reasons why this might or might not be the case, and we mention many wonderful collections:

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (28:52)

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I’m thrilled to finally tell you about Get in Trouble by Kelly Link, a collection of stories I read over a period of several months at the end of last year. These are dark, emotional, funny and moving tales that take our familiar world and make one or two key changes, then examine the ramifications.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny is Ann’s pick for this week. In her stories, Katherine Heiny creates characters, relationships, and situations that are funny and poignant. Ann devoured this collection in just two days.

Feb 03

Booktopia Boulder talks from Justin Go and Colin McAdam.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (01:59)

The Day of the Jackal, Frederick ForsythThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, narrated by Simon Prebble, is 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

 

Justin Go and Colin McAdam, from Booktopia Boulder (04:36)

This week we bring you two more author talks from Booktopia Boulder, recorded at Boulder Book Store. Please enjoy these talks from Justin Go, author of The Steady Running of the Hour, and Colin McAdam, author of A Beautiful Truth.

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Jan 27

What “backlist” is, and why it’s important for readers. Plus, don’t you forget about Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield and The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti.

THANK YOU to everyone who supported us for National Readathon Day! We raised over $3,600. Thanks to everyone who joined our team, donated to a team member, or raised money on their own. I read a graphic novel (Seconds) and half of a novel (Elizabeth is Missing), and loved my time reading. Due to the impending storm, Ann’s husband had to work, and she ended up playing chauffeur to her kids, but will do her Readathon reading while snowed in this week!

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:25)

Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, narrated by Noah Galvin, is 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

It’s a New Book If You Haven’t Read It (08:58)

What is backlist? Basically, it’s an publishing term meaning books that have been out for awhile (there’s no exact time-frame industry wide). Most of what you’ll find on display tables in bookstores are new books, but you’ll sometimes find displays of things like “all-time favorites,” and in the sections, you’ll often see store/staff favorites faced out. This all really highlights the joy of talking to a great librarian or bookseller; when you ask them for a recommendation, often an old favorite will be the first thing that springs to their mind.

I’ve been going through all of my books, keeping only the books that truly matter to me, and I do so, I’m rediscovering books that I read long ago, that have been on my shelves, but haven’t been “seen” in years. At this point, our discussion evolved into which books to let go of and which to keep. (Ann and I are both under the wonderful sway of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up).

Don’t You Forget About Me (20:51)

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Ann recommends that you discover, or re-discover Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, the epic tale of the Battle of Thermopylae (later dramatized in the graphic novel and movie 300) . It’s a book that brought the battles to life, even for Ann, who usually has a problem envisioning battle scenes. Ann also recommends it for fans of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti is a book whose atmosphere – one of muddy, nineteenth century New England streets – is one that I’ll never forget. An orphan, missing his hand, is taken in by a con artist, who uses the boy as a distraction for his thieving. Tinti is also editor-in-chief of One Story, a wonderful literary magazine that sends you one story every 3-4 weeks.

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