Feb 07

A mish-mash of things we want to tell you about. Connecting with a stranger over the shared love of an obscure book. Raves for Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, and History of a Pleasure Seeker by Booktopia VT author Richard Mason

Odds and Ends

Segment one this week is a cornucopia of bookish news:

  • Check out this line of bookmark greeting cards: In My Book, with lovely illustrated fronts that can be detached and used as bookmarks, has been around for over ten years. They are new to me, but not a new line of cards as I mistakenly say in the podcast. They’re very cool and you can probably buy them at a store near you!
  • Many folks attending Booktopia have started a The Sense of an Ending  read-along. They’ll read the book now, then discuss it at the Booktopia events (so far we have attendees for VT and MS reading along). We’ve decided to expand the event into a sort of “One Podcast, One Book” and we encourage you all to read the book and share your thoughts at our Goodreads group! (For more info on the three Booktopia events, click here.)
  • Last week I told you about Quiet by Susan Cain, who will be joining us at Booktopia VT. Since being published, Quiet has been anything but. It’s been getting tons of attention and Susan is scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report on 2/16. Set your DVRs!
  • A recent article in The Guardian alerted Ann to The Library Book, a very cool sounding collection of “famous writers on libraries real or imagined, past and future; why libraries matter and to whom.” It’s a book that’s only available in the UK, as far as we can tell, but we’re sure hoping it will published in the States so we can check it out as well!
  • Some folks are using The BOTNS 12 in ’12 Reading Challenge as a way to visit 12 bookstores they’ve always meant to see in person. In that vein, we’d love for everyone to call our voicemail line (209.867.7323) and briefly describe your favorite bricks-and-mortar (i.e. physical) bookstore.

Kindred Spirits (12:00)

Ann has been geting back into knitting, and recently discovered 2 Knit Lit Chicks, a podcast that is half about knitting and half about books. When Barb, one of the women on the podcast, recommended The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost, Ann actually cheered out loud. It was that exciting moment when you find out that someone else shares your love of a less-than-well-known book. For me, it happened recently when someone friended me on a social networking site and his favorite book listed was Pfitz by Andrew Crumey, a book I sadly thought I was the only person in the world to have read.

In the comments below we’d love to hear what obscure book would make an instant connection between you and another fan.

And Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (21:44)


Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo is an intimate, revealing and heartbreaking look into the lives of the residents of Annawadi, a small slum on the edge of Mumbai’s international airport. I feel quite certain saying this is a book that will garner widespread attention and will win awards.

Set in 1907, History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason, follows Piet Barol a young tutor brought into the home of a bourgeois Amsterdam family. It’s a book that Ann lost herself in and she’s thrilled that the author will be continuing Piet’s story in future books. For more on Richard Mason, check out this great interview.


  • Cindy Smith

    the instant connection, obscure book for me is Roger Hall’s ‘for me, it’s Roger Hall’s “You’re Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger”.

  • debby61

    Ann, I listen to 2 KnitLit Chicks too!  I really enjoy them because they share my two greatest passions, books and knitting! I am always happy when you mention knitting too. Worlds collide!

  • kbrown

    I have 3 books that I’d include in your “instant best friend” category of reads.
    The more popular are: “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell and “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving. My ultimate choice would be “Angel of Repose” by Wallace Stegner. So far, no one in my immediate circle of friends (or family)  has either finished it or loved it! I do remember bonding with a bookseller in Chatham, Mass over the works of Wallace Stegner but, alas, no one else!

    • dawn

       I’ll bond with you over Wallace Stegner kbrown!  I don’t think I’m quite as big a fan, but I loved Angle of Repose!  And The Sparrow and Owen Meany are both on my top ten of all time list (probably top 5)!

  • Count me among the people who LOVED The Sex Lives of Cannibals.  I’ve now read Troost’s other books but nothing compares to that first one.  You’ll never look at beer, dogs, or sharks the same way again!

  • Vanessa (Jamaica Plain, MA)

    most-obscure bonding book for me would be “Last
    Chance to See” by Douglas Adams

    Why you, YES YOU
    should read it.

    Amidst Adams’ mass market giant,
    the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, this little book has gone virtually
    unnoticed much to the detriment of readers everywhere!


     This story follows the author, Douglas Adams
    himself, Mark Carwardine, a zoologist, and a small team of individuals as travel
    to far corners of the world in search of animals species on the precipice of
    extinction.  While the subject matter is
    serious, this is one of the funniest books I’ve EVER read.  Adams takes us on a wonderful journey to hunt down these animals
    in the wild and explain the conditions of their impending extinction. Adams’
    unyielding comic ability makes this journey fun, informative and unique.  For a little taste of the “comic flavor”
    watch this video lecture Adams gave at UCSB about the book.  You won’t be able to stop laughing:  http://www.radioclashblog.com/archives/2010/03/29/last-chance-to-see-douglas-adams/


    I’ve only met one other person who has read it
    (the person who recommended to me!)


    Ps:  I call for an Science and Nature episode…
    haven’t done one of those in a while (esp. 45, I think?)

  • Bkluver11

    Ann, thanks for the mention of our “2 Knit Lit Chicks” podcast!  It was actually Tracie that talked about it at length, although I read it first.  Fabulous book.  I know exactly what you mean about an “instant connection” with someone who has read an obscure book you love.  Great minds think alike you know…

  • Mary Beth

    My dad and I are close but he’s not too much of a reader (I don’t hold it against him!), so I was delighted when we bonded over Little Heathens by Mildred Kalish Armstrong.  Her stories of an Iowa farm childhood in the 30s/40s echoed so perfectly my dad’s own Minnesota childhood during the same time.

    I was friended by a friend of a friend on Goodreads because of my suggestion of Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani for her vacation read.  She wanted to friend me to keep up on books I liked. 🙂 I had to like that!

    My two recent fairly obscure reads which, if I run into anyone who reads them, I will instantly know we are kindred spirits:
    At the End of the Road by Grant Jerkins
    Kings of Colorado by David E. Hilton

  • Kate G

    I read Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa when it was published here in the US in the late ’70s. This is one of my all time favorites and I have yet to find someone else who has read it! While shopping today (in a bookstore of course), buying Valentines for my family, I picked up a copy to reread. Listening to the podcast in my car inspired me! Thanks!

  • Kristina

    My instant connection book was “Cold Sassy Tree” by Olive Ann Burns.  I checked it out of the library without knowing anything about it and absolutely loved it.  I later found out that it was a favorite book of a casual acquaintance, and we bonded instantly!  She invited me to join her book club, and many years later we are still close friends.

  • My kindred spirit book would be “Possession” by A.S. Byatt. I know no one in “real life” who has read this book, but I would put it in my favourites of all-time for sure. 

  • Lavinia

    My kindred spirit books are The Sparrow (there are, perhaps, more of us than you thought, Ann!) and Pat Conroy’s “The Water Is Wide.” I recommend both to anyone who will listen. I learned about Conroy’s book about 20 years ago when I was working at an independent school in Florida, and everyone in the school (teachers, students, administrators), which included grades 7 through 12 at the time, were “assigned” the book to read over the summer. Excellent experience. So in that particular group, I knew plenty of people who read it, but I’ve only met one or two other people since then who have.

    Kalanna, I’ve read Possession! What a beautiful book. It’s been many years, though, and your mention of it makes me want to read it again.

  • Ann, I’m a Knitter too and found your podcast through the Knitting Pipeline podcast.  Paula also mentioned 2 Knit Lit Chicks, but I haven’t gotten around to listening to them yet.  I love your podcast, it’s upbeat, informative, and just the right length.

    My kindred spirit book is Tai-Pan by James Clavell.  Read it when I was a teenager and I can’t count how many times I’ve read it.  Recently listened to it on audiobook and fell in love with John Lee as a reader.  I’ve never run across anyone else who feels the same, or even admits to reading this book!  Here’s hoping someone will…

  • Enjoying the comments above. I would also include among my all-time favorites (of the books mentioned so far) Possession and The Sparrow. I read Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter when I was MUCH younger, and only remember liking it at the time. My contribution would be Hedwig & Berti, a novel by Frieda Arkin that came out in 2004. I don’t know how obscure it really is, but I never see references to it. Everyone, however, should read it, immediately.

  • Yay!  You’re a knitter!  I was so excited to hear this podcast.  Love the 2 Knit Lit Chicks.  I love nothing better than to listen to a book on tape while stitching.  If you want ideas for casts, I recommend Knit A Journey (must listen from beginning), Knitting Pipeline, Cast-On, The Knitmore Girls, Craftlit (for knitters who love books), Yarngasm, Knit Knit Cafe, The Savvy Girls, Knit Naturally…I could go on.
    I’m SweeTart77 on Ravelry – please friend me!

  • Vaashti

    Ann, I just had a kindred spirit moment with you (again!:) because I LOVED Sex Lives of Cannibals.  I laughed so hard throughout the entire book.  Think I’m gonna read it again this summer!

  • Pingback: Review: History of a Pleasure Seeker | Book Nympho()

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