Aug 05

First, a note about author P.S. Duffy’s response to our “Read Whatever You Want” episode, and a tease about next week’s podcast. Then, authors P.S. Duffy and Kelly Corrigan, live from Booktopia, VT.

 

A last, and special, “Read Whatever You Want” follow-up

 

We were honored to host author P.S. Duffy (The Cartographer of No Man’s Land) at Booktopia Vermont this past April, and it was truly wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with such a warm and fiercely intelligent person. So we were delighted when Penny sent us a letter in response to our “Read Whatever You Want” episode. We tried to read parts of it on our call-in show, but there just was no way to do justice to Penny’s very eloquent and thoughtful letter. It needed to be read in its entirety. You can read it here, and we’d love to know your thoughts.

Also, we’ll have a special episode next week we’re calling “Midnight Murakami,” in honor of the release of Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. We can’t attend one of the many midnight bookstore parties in celebration of the novel, so we’re going to release the episode at 12:01 am on Tuesday, August 12th.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:37)

The True Meaning of Smekday   The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, read by Bahni Turpin, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. Special thanks to Stanley Hadsell of Market Block Books in Troy, NY for the recommendation!

And as always, 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

 

P.S. Duffy and Kelly Corrigan, live from Booktopia Vermont (08:02)

 

The Cartographer of No Man's Land   Glitter and Glue

 

We’re pleased to present the final two author talks from Booktopia Vermont:  P.S. Duffy, author of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, and Kelly Corrigan, author of Glitter and Glue.

Aug 04

P.S. DuffyCartographer of No Man's Land

 

Some of you may remember us talking about P.S. Duffy and her incredible novel, The Cartographer of No Man’s Land, a brilliant depiction of World War I and its impact on a man, a family, and a Canadian town. Cartographer is now in paperback, and I urge you all to read it. It’s a book that I keep thinking about, even now almost a year after I first read it.

We were honored to host Penny (her actual name) at Booktopia Vermont this past April, and it was truly wonderful to have the opportunity to spend time with such a warm and fiercely intelligent person. So we were delighted when Penny sent us a letter in response to our “Read Whatever You Want” episode. We tried to read parts of it on our call-in show, but there just was no way to do justice to Penny’s very eloquent and thoughtful letter. It needed to be read in its entirety.

Penny has given us permission to post the letter here, in full. It is worth a slow and deliberate read. It has made me question some of my initial reaction to the reviewers and bloggers that I so vehemently disagreed with. I haven’t really changed my opinions, but Penny makes some good points that require further consideration.

So here, in full, is Penny’s letter. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it — please feel free to let us know what you think in the comments. I’d love to open up further dialogue.

July 2, 2014

Greetings Ann and Michael (Goodness and Kindness) –

Listening to your podcast is like sitting down at the kitchen table with you two and talking books and everything that touches on them. In the “Read Whatever You Want” podcast last week (“Ann’s cranky podcast”), you asked your listeners to respond. I’d only screw up a voice message, and I certainly need more than three minutes, so I’m writing mine out. If you don’t have time to read it, I understand. Truly.

I agree with you about the Ruth Graham article in Slate Magazine—no one should judge a reader by the books they read. But we all judge books.

It seemed to me that in your passion, you generalized Graham’s disdain of adult readers to a disdain for the YA genre as a whole. Graham doesn’t hate YA. She just doesn’t get why adults like it and why they’re so proud of it. She wants adults to read more challenging literature. Beneath her attack on adult readers of YA was some condescension, to be sure; but there was also what I think is a legitimate question. Why are adults today so drawn to YA, often to the exclusion of books geared toward adults? It was an inquiry she never seriously pursued (maybe, as you suggested, she was trying to provoke and get a conversation started).

But let’s start with definitions of YA. When I was a YA myself, YA fiction didn’t exist. There were children’s books and then also children’s “literature” (King Arthur, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Swallows and Amazons, etc.), much of it read by adults. Everything else was adult fiction. Beyond general fiction, the only “genres” I remember were Classics, Mysteries, and “pulp fiction” (today’s mass market fiction, which back then included westerns, true crime, and romance). Sci-Fi didn’t exist, nor did historical fiction, because novels by Bradbury, Huxley, and Orwell, or by James Michener and Leon Uris, were classified just as literature or general fiction.

As we know, today’s narrow, niche-driven fiction is a marketing tool, largely determined and promoted by mega-companies like B&N and Amazon, so as not to waste dollars by marketing to the wrong people. Highly specific, deep marketing. Marketers decide the criteria for a given genre. And while in some cases they don’t seem to mind cross-over, they don’t much like it if a genre-specific titles break the rules because readers might be upset and the books hard to sell (e.g., “Christian books” with heavy sex, romance fiction with sad endings, self-help books that don’t spell out recipes for success).

But it is also true that it’s a natural human instinct to classify and categorize. We need to do that to survive—to determine what is a threat and what isn’t. So is YA fiction a threat?

Graham defines YA in fairly disparaging terms: predictably plotted stories that may feature real- life problems but are focused on “escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia.” Her claim is that despite sophisticated writing and excellent characters, a good YA book has less relevance for the mature reader for than a teenager because the protagonists aren’t themselves mature. That is, YA books are not trying to inform the life experience of adults, only of that of teens and YAs—a kind of closed-loop in which only YAs and teens gain insight because the story is presented by teen protagonists who, having not yet grown up, see the world through an exclusively YA or teen lens.

So what about Holden Caulfield and Scout Finch? They’re both young; they both gave us a vision of the world as seen through their eyes. They weren’t geared for the YA market because there wasn’t any such thing back then. Both books were read by adults and teens. I’m not sure what Michael’s definition is, but he claims To Kill a Mockingbird is essentially YA. I disagree, because I believe Harper Lee (and J.D. Salinger) wrote their books for adults, asking them to re-examine their own lives and values.

The grown-up Scout narrator brings us directly into her child’s eye view of the events she recounts. Infused with the purity, simplicity, and idealism of a child, free of the concessions adult life demands, child Scout shows us civil rights as a struggle of good versus evil in a way that takes adult compromises to task and shames us all. Holden Caulfield struggles to be authentic in a phony world—one rife with the emptiness of conformity and false gods (money, power). This is not escape literature. It is serious literature.

Ann also takes the category of “serious literature” to task. But I think what makes these books serious literature is their big themes. What makes them classics is their wholly original voice and enduring characters. Holden, hugely flawed, unravels before our eyes in his painful, poignant refusal to give up his poetic vision of perfection, and we never forget him or his struggle. And Atticus Finch, who could shoot a rabid dog but ultimately could not protect Tom Robinson, shows us that even against the odds you can strive to protect someone’s dignity and your own humanity. We long for the humanity that Scout presents us; we long for the idealism of Holden Caulfield. We think about our own choices; we as adults understand something of the world and ourselves in a way we maybe hadn’t before.

What about Romeo and Juliette, or Tony and Maria, for that matter—teen protagonists set in a love story? YA? Not according to Graham’s definition, because what they did besides break your heart is to put love into a wider context. They made readers wonder if pure, unadulterated love can exist in this world, made them sad that it can’t. Made them think about tribes and the tragedy of prejudice (and of course, written by Shakespeare and scored by Bernstein, they are classics).

“Serious literature” challenges us and strives to say something beyond the story it’s telling. It would have been nice if instead of attacking adult fans of YA, Graham had asked what’s driving the need to be comforted and entertained as opposed to being stretched intellectually, provoked, or made uncomfortable? Nothing wrong with escape. Let’s take that magic wand of Harry Potter! Sometimes we need sharply drawn distinctions between good guys and bad ones. We need some measure of predictability in an uncertain world. Maybe this is such a time. We need escape from culture wars, climate change, terrorist threats, mass shootings, foreign wars. We need to root for someone—the kid with cancer, the underdog team. We know Jack Bauer will win, but we want to lose ourselves in how he’s going to do it this time around. Fiction that serves this purpose doesn’t make us think big thoughts. It lets us stop thinking for a bit and just feel.
Which brings us to the other issue you raised—The Goldfinch, the lens through which Vanity Fair chose to explore whether a book should be judged by standards that rise above personal taste, and who gets to decide? The judges of the Man Booker and Pulitzer? Critics in the New York Review of Books? What’s their criteria and how dare they? Populists would say that the opinions of these self-styled arbiters of culture are no more valid than those of the man on the street, and they would be right. Reading is subjective, and readers themselves should not be judged by their choices any more than by the clothes they wear (nor a book by its cover!).

But we do judge people by their behavior, by whether we believe they are authentic, other-centered and so on. So, too, books can and at some level should be judged on their merits, by their success in meeting their own goals, be they to help us escape or challenge us. Sales figures are very different from merit. In nonfiction, merit might be accuracy of facts presented in fluid, readable prose at a level that meets the target audience. In fiction, at the very least it’s memorable characters, strong narrative voice, a good plot, and prose that matches the story told. Stories vary on these criteria, but most of the good ones meet at least two; the best meet all four.

Who decides? Whose reviews count? Like most people, I enjoy consumer reviews. But I also subscribe to the Sunday NY Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and yes, even the London Review of Books, some of the few outlets left that review in depth. Sure, the critics there can sometimes be pompous, and I don’t always agree with them. But I’m a big fan of the long-form essay written by someone whose credentials as a critic I trust, presented in an article with enough space to really develop ideas and put a book into a larger context.

Are such reviews free of bias? Of course not. But there’s a world of difference between them and the consumer review that states, “I’m not a fan of books set in Alaska. Plus, crime fiction isn’t really my genre, so I just couldn’t get into this book. 2 stars.” Consumer reviews can be highly personal with the reviewer often less interested in whether the book accomplishes what it set out to do or whether others will like it and more interested in their own response to it. At the same time, many a consumer review is better written than the books they discuss, and often more insightful than published reviews. But they’re semi-anonymous. Does that mean they’re not valid? No. But it does mean it’s harder to judge their validity.

As Vanity Fair points out, Francine Prose and Stephen King had very different opinions of The Goldfinch, but we know who they are and what they value in fiction (Prose, great writing; King, great plotting) and that they’ve spent a lifetime thinking about what makes good fiction. We also know that most professional reviewers only write about books in a genre they enjoy and are familiar with.

Just as we need a flourishing publishing industry with arbiters and gatekeepers (agents/editors) who have devoted their lives and careers to determine with some level of dispassion based on a set of standards whether a book has merit and then whether it will sell, so too we need critics of the end result. The gatekeepers aren’t always right, any more than the professional or consumer reviewer. And thankfully, good books that fail to get past the gatekeepers can be self-published, and published books that don’t get marketed can become bestsellers. Time is always the final arbiter of what constitutes “memorable” fiction.

Those are my thoughts, for what they’re worth. Nothing new here, but it was fun to share them, assuming you made it to the end. Whether you did or not, I appreciate the stimulus that led me to write them down. The issue of genre is one that I’ve thought about since The Cartographer of No Man’s Land came out because it’s been called historical fiction, serious fiction, war fiction, and WW I fiction. Lots of categories—none of which were in my mind when I wrote it! 

Take care, you two. I just finished a ton of work, and my reward is to listen to “Separating the Author from their Work,” something I already know is rare in today’s world. Should it be? I look forward to hearing the opinions of Goodness and Kindness.

Best to you both,
Penny (P.S. Duffy)

 

And thank you, Penny, for taking the time to respond in such an incredibly thought-provoking way. And thank you, of course, for being a Books on the Nightstand friend and listener.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s episode (#292, which will go live on the evening of August 5th) to hear Penny’s talk from Booktopia Vermont. And don’t forget to let us know your thoughts.

Jul 29

Authors writing under other names. We look at the 2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist. We recommend The Other Language by Francesca Marciano and The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. 

Authors Hiding in Plain Sight

Brian from Redondo Beach, CA asked why The Silkworm was published under the name Robert Galbraith, when nearly everyone knows that’s a pseudonym for JK Rowling. Authors choose pseudonyms for many reasons, two of the most popular being wanting to write in a genre different from the one in which they are already known, and wanting to have the books written pseudonymously judged on their own merits, and not compared to the author’s other work. Some authors who have written under other names include:

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:49)

Guests on Earth, Lee SmithGuests on Earth by Lee Smith, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, 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

 

The 2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist (12:42)

This year’s Booker Prize Longlist was announced last week, and it’s the first since the rules were updated to put into contention any book written in English, not just books written by a citizen of the UK commonwealth. Many (Americans included) feared that this new rule would lead to glut of US contenders, but, of the 13 titles on the longlist, only four were written by Americans. The shortlist of 6 finalists will be announced on September 9, and the winner will be unveiled on October 14. You can see the full list here.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (24:12)

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Ann recommends The Other Language by Francesca Marciano, a book she calls a “literary vacation.” It’s a collection of short stories that should appeal to people who don’t like short stories. The title story is one Ann’s favorites in this collection.

I was thrilled to read The Magician’s Land, the final book in Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. It’s a wonderful conclusion to the story and does a great job wrapping up story lines and character arcs. This series has been bought for television, so don’t wait too long to read it!

Jul 22

A race for the Bingo!, Listeners call in about episode #286, Amy Bloom’s new novel, and a book on helping your kids stay organized.


Michael and I appear to be in a race to the BINGO! though neither of us will achieve it any time soon. We’ve loved seeing your BINGO reports on our Goodreads group, and I’ve added a bunch of books to my to read list from that thread.

There’s still time to participate in our Summer Reading Bingo! Click here to get your personalized BOTNS Bingo card — just be sure to hit refresh once or twice after you click the link.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:53)


This is the story of a happy marriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage , 
written and performed by Ann Patchett, 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

Listeners Weigh In (09:23):

We asked for your thoughts on BOTNS #286: Read Whatever You Want, and six of you called in with your thoughts. Unfortunately, Elaine’s comment had some technical issues so that we couldn’t use it on the podcast. We present the remaining five calls without comment, but they all have something great to say. I really loved hearing your thoughts — thanks to all who called in.

Please do feel free to call our BOTNS Voicemail line at any time to let us know your thoughts. Just dial (209) 867-7323.

Thanks to Ashley, Bill, Carol K., Anonymous, and Michelle in Colorado!

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (21:01):

Lucky Us   That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week

Michael talks about Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us, which goes on sale next week (July 29).  Lucky Us starts in 1939 small town Ohio, where main character Eva discovers that her father has a second family and that she has a half-sister. Much of the story is told through letters between the two sisters.

I talk about That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week by Ana Homayoun. The subtitle of the book–Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life–is somewhat misleading, as I found this to be very helpful in dealing with my daughter’s chronic disorganization. I think that this would be a good book for parents of pre-teens and teens to read before school starts, and I’m going to re-read it to get a refresher on the tips and techniques.

Jul 15

Can you trust author blurbs on books? A first library for children. We recommend The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe and My Pet Book by Bob Staake.

 

A Bit About Blurbs

Alexa from Illinois asks about quotes from authors that are featured on books. Are the authors that provide the blurb paid for it, friends with the author? Are those quotes genuine? There are exceptions to every rule, but authors are not paid to blurb books, but there is often a connection between the book or author and the blurbing author: they may be friends, they may share an editor or an agent who shares the book with them. Often at a publisher sales conference, people will brainstorm which author’s readers a new book will appeal to. The publisher will then reach out to that author. So, we believe you can trust blurbs, but they are not always as serendipitous as some might think.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:46)

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste NgEverything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, narrated by Cassandra Campbell,  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 New Meaning for “Modern First” (11:43)

BookPeople, in Austin, TX has announced their Modern First Library program: a selection of both well-known and less well-known books that make for a perfect first library for children. The books are also chosen to represent the diversity of children and families around the world. Books are broken up into smaller sets but can be ordered individually. The selections are wonderful and feature many books I’ve never heard of, but can’t wait to check out. Here’s my list of a few books that I think would make wonderful additions to any child’s first library:

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (22:20)

 

The Girls from Corona del Mar     My Pet Book

Ann recommends The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe, the story of friendship between Lorrie Ann and Mia. It’s a book that never went where Ann expected it to. This book gets her highest recommendation.

Bob Staake is my family’s favorite author/illustrator of children’s books, and his new book, My Pet Book, is no exception. The main character chooses “a frisky red hardcover” from the bookstore, and takes wonderful care of his new pet, until, one day, it disappears. Fun for kids, and book lovers, of all ages!

Jul 08

We follow up some sad literary news with some great book news; we recommend My Accidental Jihad and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

 

First, the bad news

 

We are saddened by the report that author Colum McCann was assaulted while trying to help someone during a domestic situation in New Haven, CT. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

We also mourn two amazing people who passed away last week: author and ambassador for Young People’s literature Walter Dean Myers and Louis Zamperini, subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.

Lastly, we mourn the end of World Book Night in the United States.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (13:18)

The Farm The Farm by Tom Rob Smith, narrated by James Langton and Suzanne Toren is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. This is a compulsive listen!

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

Now, the good news: (17:05)


http://www.booksabouttown.org.uk/ – London Book Benches as part of Books About Town

Two books we can’t wait for you to read: (24:29)

My Accidental Jihad   Close Your Eyes HOld Hands
Michael’s pick this week is My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer, who will be joining us in August at Booktopia Asheville. This memoir, which tells the story of an American woman who marries a Libyan man of a different faith, is engrossing and very honest.
Ann recommends Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. It’s the story of a homeless teen struggling to survive in the wake of a nuclear meltdown, and will appeal not only to existing fans of Chris Bohjalian, but will also appeal to older teens and fans of young adult fiction.
Jul 01

New literary holidays. Separating the author from their work. And we recommend Byrd by Kim Church and The Fever by Megan Abbott. 

Happy Tom Sawyer Days!

Ann and I are making progress on our BOTNS Bingo cards. I’m reading books then seeing if they can count for any squares. Ann is letting the Bingo card guide her reading. If you haven’t printed your card out yet, check out our original post for instructions, and the link to get your own card.

Don’t forget to call our voicemail line (209.867.7323) and share your views about the discussion we had in episode 286 about the recent trend of critics and other writers decreeing what people should and shouldn’t be reading.

A recent article on Bookish.com featured some new literary holidays to celebrate, and further Googling revealed others. Of course, the original bookish holiday is St. George’s Day (April 23, the day of Shakespeare’s death), which is now when World Book Night happens. And, Dr. Seuss’s birthday is now Read Across America Day. What about you? Will you be celebrating Tom Sawyer Days this weekend? Or Hemingway Days later this month?

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (11:55)

Fever: A Novel, Megan Abbott The Fever by Megan Abbott, narrated by Caitlin Davies, Kirby Heyborne, and , is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. It’s also Ann’s “Two Books” pick later in the episode… Sorry, Ann!

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

Separating the Author from their Work (14:49)

It’s another thorny subject this week: Should an author’s personal life affect how and if you read their work? A recent NY Times Bookends article asked the question. That, plus the recent accusations against Marion Zimmer Bradley got us thinking. It’s something we’ve both struggled with: Ann with letting her daughter read The Mists of Avalon, and me with whether or not to read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, whose opinions on certain subjects are the polar opposites of mine.

Is your reading or your perception of authors affected by their own history, actions, or beliefs?

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (27:00)

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I recommend Byrd, by Kim Church, one of our Booktopia Asheville authors. It’s a book Ann read early on and loved, and I also think it’s simply wonderful. It’s the story of Addie Lockwood and unexpected pregnancy that forever alters her life.

Ann recommends The Fever by Megan Abbott, the story of the Nash family: father Tom, son Eli, and daughter Deenie. Deenie’s group of friends are dealing with all of the usual trials of teenagehood when a mysterious illness starts to afflict them.

Jun 24

A rant on on people who think they know what you should and shouldn’t read; CallMeIshmael; The Quick and The Painter

 

Call Ishmael. Really.

callmeishmael

We just learned about a very cool site, CallMeIshmael, that we love. It’s a site where you can call and leave a short voicemail that tells a story about a book. The site is video, but also works as audio, and we’ve gotten permission to play one of the voicemails on this episode. But if you’re reading the show notes, do check out the site itself to get the full (very cool) experience. The entry we played on the podcast is The Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:49):

 

I know why the caged bird singsI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, written and read by Maya Angelou, 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

 

Read whatever the *%$# you want (14:15):

 

A rant. Between this Slate article on Young Adult novels and the reviews mentioned in this Vanity Fair piece about Donna Tartt, we have had it up to here with people trying to dictate what others should and shouldn’t read. We believe that you should read whatever brings you pleasure. For those of us who are not professional critics, it is more than possible to read a book that is less than perfect yet still enjoy the read.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, for a special listener voicemail show. Please call our voicemail line: (209) 867-7323, and let us know what you think. We’ll play a selection of responses on an upcoming episode.

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (31:14):

 

The Quick      The Painter

Michael recommends The Quick by Lauren Owen. He absolutely loves it, and absolutely can’t tell you much about it.  A crumbling manor house outside of London in the late 1800s, a disappearance, and a secret society should be enough to whet your appetite for The Quick.

My pick for this week is The Painter by Peter Heller. I love this novel so much, even more than I loved The Dog Stars, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. I think this is a book that will appeal to so many of you: those of you who love beautiful sentences, those that like intriguing characters, those that love great descriptions of the landscape, and all of you that love a fully-realized story. Don’t miss this one.

Jun 17

John Demos, author of The Heathen School, and Rupert Thomson, author of Secrecy, recorded at Booktopia Vermont.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week

Reality Boy, A. S. KingReality Boy by A. S. King, narrated by Michael Stellman, 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

John and Rupert in Booktopia (04:25)

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We’re pleased to present the sencond two author talks from Booktopia Vermont:  John Demos, author of The Heathen School, and Rupert Thomson, author of Secrecy.

Jun 10

Ann goes to BookCon, Ian McEwan archives in Austin, TX, Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, and Archie meets zombies.

 

Michael bald

 

Michael achieved his goal of $1500 and has now shaved his head to raise money for cancer. Thank you to all Books on the Nightstand listeners who supported him!

 Ann goes to BookCon

 

In other news, I report in this episode on my trip to BookCon, which was held in New York City on Saturday, May 31st. It was a day filled with author panels, autographings, and 10,000 book fans — many, many of whom were teenage girls delighted to see their favorite authors like John Green and Veronica Roth. As I said on the podcast, this was a place where it was cool to be a Book Nerd. And though I limited myself to bringing home only 3 Advanced Reading Copies from BookCon, I was so busy that I ended up with only two: Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis, and Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. That led Michael to recommend The Borden Tragedy, a graphic novel by Rick Geary.

Did you attend BookCon? We’d love it if you would call our voicemail line and share your thoughts about it (209-867-7323).

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (15:25)

Eleanor and Park Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. It’s a Young Adult novel that I really loved.

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

 

Archiving Authors (18:50)

 

Inspired by the story that the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin purchased Ian McEwan’s archives for $2 million, Michael and I discuss the appeal of access to an author’s papers, letters, and early drafts of beloved books. In the course of the conversation, we talk about the  extensive literary archives at the Harry Ransom Center and now I want to take a road trip to Austin.

Other books mentioned in this segment:

Building the Monkey House: At Kurt Vonnegut’s Writing Table by Kurt Vonnegut and Gregory D. Sumner (ed).,

The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (27:56)

 

Afterlife with Archie  The Vacationers

 

This week Michael recommends a graphic novel that he believes will have appeal beyond graphic novel fans: Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Francesco Francavilla. In this book, Archie, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale crew encounter zombies. Definitely not for children, it’s dark and creepy and a lot of fun.

I had a “literary vaction” with Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, a wonderful novel of a family and assorted others who spend two weeks vacationing together on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Straub’s characters quickly came to feel like my own family and friends, to the point where I missed them when I finished the novel. I can’t recommend this more highly to take with you on your own vacation.

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