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.

Jun 03

A few follow-ups. What makes a classic a classic? And we recommend Marbles by Ellen Forney and My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. 

A Few Follow-ups

We’ve had a wonderful response to BOTNS Bingo. If you haven’t printed your card out yet, check out our original post for instructions, and the link to get your own card.

Ann received a comment about her audiobook recommendation last week. It was a book that featured violence toward women and the commenter mentioned the unfortunate timing with the Santa Barbara shootings. It made us wonder about the difference between violence shown on TV and in the movies, and that portrayed in books. Ann found an interesting article about women who read violent crime fiction. It’s a thorny subject to be sure, but one we will try to be more cognizant of in the future.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:43)

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, narrated by Jayne Entwistle, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. Here’s a link to all of Alan Bradley’s books on Audiobooks.com.

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

What Makes a Classic a Classic? (13:37)

Shiney, via Twitter, asked what makes a classic classic. There are obviously many different ways to define a classic. Many books that are in the public domain (copyright has expired) are classics, as are the books most often assigned in classes. Some books are a classic work of a certain genre, like 1984 is for dystopia. (Of course, 1984 is widely believed to have been inspired by Russian novel called We - so is that a classic too?) Because of the vast number of books published these days, is it harder for something to become a classic? In fifty years, it’s likely Harry Potter will be considered a classic, but can the same be said of Wonder, or The Fault in Our Stars? It seems that only time will tell.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (26:02)

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I recommend Marbles, by Ellen Forney. Subtitled “Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me” this graphic memoir is an honest, raw, and funny look the author/artist’s bipolar disorder diagnosis, her struggles with medication, and what that did to her artistic drive and abilities.

Ann recommends My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff, which chronicles the author’s time working for a literary agent, during which she clandestinely responded (as herself) to fans who had written J.D. Salinger. It’s a wonderful look at publishing in the 90’s.

May 27

 Spoiler poll results; BOTNS Summer Reading Bingo, Americanah, and Bird Box.

 

 Spoiler: This book has a twist!

 

First, special thanks to Len Edgerly for inviting Michael and me to be guests on episode 303 of The Kindle Chronicles podcast. Len interviewed us about Books on the Nightstand and Booktopia, and the interview was recorded on the final day of Booktopia Boulder.

Next, drumroll please: The results of our poll are in! 57.68% of you think that knowing about a big plot twist is the equivalent of a spoiler. This is an unscientific poll, and perhaps I swayed the voting by stating my beliefs. In any event, we will be even more vigilant about not “overhyping” a plot twist. But as you’ll hear, this makes our jobs more difficult, as we struggle to find the balance. Thanks to all who voted!

spoilerchart

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (08:58):

Field of Prey, John Sandford   Field of Prey by John Sandford, narrated by Richard Ferrone, 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

 

Beach Blanket Book Bingo (13:36):

BOTNS_Bingo__Random__Memorial Day marks the official kickoff to summer here in the US, and got us thinking about summer reading. But we have talked about summer reading every summer. So we decided to try something different. Join us in playing BOTNS Book Bingo! Special thanks to Retreat by Random House for the inspiration!

Just visit the link below and you’ll see a BOTNS bingo card. HIT REFRESH TO GET A NEW, RANDOM CARD. You will also see a link to print the card.

Use this BOTNS Bingo Card in any way you like to enhance your summer reading. You can choose to go after a particular Bingo row and pick the books that fit; you can read as normal and check off books as you read; or write each of your words on a slip of paper and draw randomly, reading until you get Bingo!

My idea for “Free Square” is to watch a movie or television show based on a book I’ve read. Feel free to adopt that strategy.

Michael and I are committed to each getting a BINGO before Labor Day. We’ve started a Goodreads thread to discuss how YOU are going to play BOTNS Bingo.

Play BOTNS Summer Reading Bingo

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (24:31):

 

Americanah   Bird Box

Ann’s pick for this week is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a beautifully-written novel that explores racism in all its forms. It’s an important book, but also a thoroughly entertaining and literary novel.

Michael talks about Bird Box by Josh Malerman, a novel of psychological horror in which the “monsters” are never seen. Michael describes it as a visual plague — if you see the creatures, you will die by your own hand.

 

May 20

Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book, and Gail Caldwell, author of New Life, No Instructions, recorded at Booktopia Vermont.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week

Julian Chapter, R. J. Palacio The Julian Chapter by R. J. Palacio, narrated by Michael Chamberlain, 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

Bruce and Gail in Booktopia (02:57)

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We’re pleased to present the first two author talks from Booktopia Vermont:  Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book, and Gail Caldwell, author of New Life, No Instructions.

May 13

 All the Light We Cannot See; Michael shaves his head; Twists and spoilers; We Were Liars

We can’t read this, but you totally should:

 

all the Light We Cannot See

The book that is at the top of my “want to read” list is a book I won’t get to read until my summer vacation. But it’s been getting so many raves and reviews and so much love from booksellers and others that I trust, that I don’t want to wait to recommend it to you. We may do this from time to time, since so many of you love to hear about what’s new and what’s getting buzz. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has gotten amazing reviews, is a #1 IndieNext pick for May, and is much-loved by so many of my bookselling friends.

 audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:48)

Fault in our Stars The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd, is Michael’s pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. While it didn’t make Michael cry, I know many others who did need a tissue or two while listening to this audiobook.

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

 

Michael Shaves his Head at 08:56:

Kids Cancer Buzz Off - Sponsor Michael

This was mentioned in the Audiobook of the Week segment, but I don’t want anyone to accidentally overlook it:  On June 8th, Michael is having his head shaved as a way to raise money for cancer research. If you’d like to donate, check out Michael’s page or Buzzforkids.org before June 8, 2014.

 

Jaw-dropping books: (12:43)

This segment was inspired by a discussion on our Goodreads group: “Jaw-Dropping Books?”. Though the original poster asked for recommendations of “jaw-dropping books’ like Gone Girl, I worry that talking about a “huge plot twist” is a form of spoiler. If I know there’s a big twist or surprise, I keep that in the back of my mind as I read, trying to anticipate or predict what the twist will be.

So we’ve decided to create a short poll:

 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

If you can’t see the survey, please follow this link to answer.

Feel free to share this survey with your book-loving friends. The larger the sample size, the more accurate the data! Thanks.

 

One book we can’t wait for you to read: (18:55)

 

We Were Liars

 

At the end of last year, one of our trusted colleagues at work sent a manuscript to me and Michael saying, “You have to read this.” The book was We Were Liars by E. Lockheart. It’s a book that will appeal to both young adults and to adults, who may or may not like YA books. It’s the story of a young 17 year old who has suffered an accident, but doesn’t quite remember the circumstances around the accident. Now, two years later, she’s returning for the first time to the private island where her very wealthy family has a summer compound, and where the accident happened. We can’t say more. Really. We can’t. Just read it. We think you’ll love it.

Author E. Lockhart will be joining us at Booktopia Asheville in August, and we’ll post her author talk on a future episode of Books on the Nightstand.

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