May 07

Michael’s Short Story Month reading plan. What movies do to books, good and bad. Plus we recommend the new books from Claire Messud and David Sedaris.

May is Short Story Monthzombie

Ann’s been reading a short story a day, all year. That was too much for me to commit to, so I’m just doing it for the month of May, which is Short Story Month. I’ve collected all of the books I’m pulling the stories from onto one shelf in Goodreads, though of course, I’ll read other things that catch my eye, including the May Short Story Read-Along.

One of the books I talk about, I Don’t Know the Author or the Title, But It’s Red and It Has Three Zombie Stories In It by Kelly Link, is only available through Harvard Book Store, as far as I can tell. Ann recently read Flying Lessons by Kelly Link recently in her writing class at Grub Street in Boston, and now wants to read everything Kelly has ever written. Ann also recommends the New Yorker Fiction podcast  as a great way to hear stories, followed by a discussion of the work.

Follow @annkingman on Twitter for short story recommendations throughout the month. Follow my month of reading on the Books on the Nightstand Facebook page.

Books Into Movies, Movies on to Books (11:10)

The movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby (in theaters May 10) is getting people talking, especially about the movie-tie-in edition of the book, which has star Leonardo DiCaprio on the cover. Many people dislike movie-tie-in covers in general (and some stores won’t even carry them), but we think that anything that gets people to read a book is worthwhile.

Other book/movie news:

  • The first trailer for Mister Pip has been released and it looks like they’ve really translated the feel of the book onto the screen.
  • World War Z, the movie, comes out June 21. While it looks like a heck of a lot of fun, I’m not sure it will accurately capture the tone of Max Brooks’ novel. However, a new edition of the audiobook has just been released, and now features narrators like Martin Scorcese, Mark Hamill, Alfred Molina, Henry Rollins and Nathan Fillion, to name just a few. You can see the full cast list at the end of the description on the audio’s Goodreads’ page.

And Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (25:49)


woman     owls

Ann calls The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud “one of the best novels she’s read in 2013.” It’s the story of Nora, an elementary school teacher who forms an intense attachment to the family of one of her students.

I recommend David Sedaris’ new book Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, especially on audio. It’s a wonderful collection, hilarious, yes, but also incredibly moving at times.

  • My Huffington Post Q&A with Ann about her short story project:

  • Callie

    I looked it up and I don’t think the new extended version of the audiobook will be available until May 14, at least according to the Random House Audio page. It is definitely on my list!

  • Carol Kubala

    I’m a book cover snob…The Great Gatsby original is the one for me but if younger people will read it because it has a hipper cover, all the better.

  • Eric Kibler

    I don’t see as many movies as I did when I was younger. I guess as you get older you realize the brevity of the time you have left and focus on the stuff you like the most. For me, it’s books and acting in plays. So if I see there’s a movie out based on a book that I’m interested in, but haven’t read, I won’t see it. Not until I’ve read the book. The book is the dog and the movie is the tail. A book with a movie tie-in cover is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Maybe this is my prejudice talking, but when I see someone reading a movie tie-in cover, I think, “Oh, a tourist.” Someone who liked a movie and thinks they might like reading the book version. A non-reader. A dabbler. Usually, you see these people at doctor’s offices or airports. Places where waiting is enforced and someone has to put their mind to SOMETHING, so why not a book? Invariably, these people are five to ten pages into the book, and probably won’t get any further.

    Before I married my wife, we broke up for a while and she dated this other guy. She and I had had an argument over the movie “Hook”. You remember, the Spielberg take on Captain Hook, starring Dustin Hoffman? I critiqued the film after we saw it in my own inimitable way. I savaged it, as a matter of fact. Amy-Anne had enjoyed it. Anyway, after we got back together, I found that the interim boyfriend had bought her a paperback copy of the novelization of “Hook”, because he knew she liked the movie and that she liked to read books. Amy-Anne, of course, never read this book and recognized what a lame gesture it was. I think she’d come to realize she’d rather spend her time with someone more cerebral, if also more curmudgeonly.

    Whenever I see a movie tie-in cover, I think of that guy, and of the reading “tourists”. Yeah, I’m a snob. I’m that guy. I’m also the guy that scoffed when you started listening to R.E.M. with Automatic for the People. I’d been a fan since before they were popular. Since Murmur. I’m AUTHENTIC, you see, not some trendy bandwagon jumper.

    As to Sedaris, I’m a fan. On our recent trip to Booktopia in Vermont, I lined up A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, for the audio on the 19 hour round trip. I had already listened to these books as audio and loved them. Amy-Anne loved the Bryson, but could have done without the Sedaris. I think what put her off was the story of when, as a young man, he’d been sexually harassed by a customer of the home cleaning service he’d worked for. It was pretty graphic and distasteful. More so than I’d remembered. It was, dare I say, icky. That was the first audiobook recommendation I’d made to Amy-Anne that wasn’t a hit. Still, I’m a fan, and will pick up the new one at some point.

  • Hi Ann and Michael,
    I really, really cannot stand movie tie-in covers. They drive me nuts. I see the book and the movie as two completely separate things, so when there is a movie tie-in cover it skews my emotions towards the book.
    Also, I am not a big movie watcher. Sometimes, when I hear that a movie is coming out and getting accolades, I will search out the book first and may never see the movie.
    I don’t want to see (for example) Leo as Gatsby. I want to have my mind create that image and the tie-ins take that away from me.
    ok, wah wah wah. I will take the movie tie-in if I absolutely have to, for example, Let the Right One In only showed the movie tie-in … at least it was the Swedish version.

  • kategreen

    Just listened to this episode this morning, but wanted to let you know that I will always buy a regular cover and avoid a movie tie in. I have only bought one recently for one of my kids. It was the Michael Oher book The Blind Side as I thought the movie would entice him to read the book. Sadly he didn’t watch or read

  • Darlene

    I have never considered myself a book snob, but I know I would never buy a book with a movie tie-in cover. When I buy a book, it is usually one that is from an author I love or a book that I know I will read over and over. It would seem odd to have a treasured book in my collection with a picture of Brad Pitt or Jennifer Lawrence, etc. on the cover. I consider those books for more casual readers. I certainly would not judge anyone that I saw purchasing or reading a book with a movie cover, it is just not something I would purchase.
    With that being said, I just downloaded from my library the new audiobook of World War Z “featuring an all-star cast.” (insert embarrassed face emoticon here!)

  • Pingback: 2013 BookerMarks Long List Projections | BookerMarks()

  • Maggie

    I’ve just discovered your podcast (awesome sauce so far!) & I have to say that, maybe to my discredit, movie tie-in book covers are something I am a bit of a snob about. Sorry. If I have to choose, I will always, no questions asked, go with the original cover. The book is the book is the book & the movie is a separate entity. But I don’t judge others who have the movie tie-in cover because I also know that sometimes that’s all that is available near you. A friend is the same way & he’ll go out of his way when ordering books online to ensure that it will be the original cover & not the movie one (he had a particularly hard time with The Silver Linings Playbook). I do get internally irritated when I’m a little late to a book’s game & I want to buy the ebook but the cover has become a movie tie-in one. I usually just suck it up but am not happy about it for 7 minutes or so haha However I do agree with Ann- I thought the Perks of Being a Wallflower one looked nice & legitimate!

  • jayne190

    Getting to this podcast late, so I apologize. I will state that I am an avid reader and honestly I like movie-tie-in editions of books, as I sometimes find the original cover a bit on the bland side. That being said, I found that the majority of the covers that were featured in The Week article were probably the worst of the bunch. Personally I liked the ones for The Hobbit and The Perks of Being of a Wallflower and On the Road. I have purchased a number of move-tie-ins and personally it shouldn’t be what the cover looks like, but rather content o the book. If it gets a person to pick up the book, the more power to them. And honestly, there are books that I do seek out the tie-in covers, as sometimes they are better than the original, for example Moneyball has a better tie-in cover than the original cover.

    • Jayne, it’s never too late. Thank you! I agree, it’s the content that counts.

      Thanks for listening!

  • Pingback: BOTNS #260: 2013 Reading Review, Including Our Favorite Books! | Books on the Nightstand()

preload preload preload