Nov 28

We are pleased to present the 2013 Holiday Gift Guides. As in previous years, we have a general gift guide organized by subject, filled with books for every person on your gift list. New this year is Geek Book, a gift guide filled with geeky gift suggestions. You can download either (or both) gift guide by clicking on the image below.

If you’d like to share the gift guide with friends, be sure to send them the link to this page!

2013 Gift Guide

 

Geek Book

Nov 26

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Some announcements and updates, and an interview with Lauren Lovett of Reading Opens Minds, a nonprofit devoted to enriching lives through books and conversation.

 

Book-Cornucopia

A Thanksgiving Cornucopia

 

A mishmash of topics in segment one this week:

  • My thoughts on the Catching Fire movie (hint: read the book first).
  • Project Short Story is back, though perhaps briefly. This week, the wonderful Jessica Keener, author of the story collection Women in Bed, honored us with a guest post about fairy tales.
  • A short Booktopia update: registration opened this week for Booktopia Vermont and Booktopia Boulder. Both events are now full, but we do have a waiting list. We are still finalizing plans for Booktopia Asheville, and registration for that will open sometime in January. If you’d like to be updated on Booktopia Asheville or receive announcements later next year for Booktopia 2015, please sign up for the Booktopia mailing list.
  • We had a great response to our call for ideas last week — we’re looking for ideas for our BOTNS collaborative book. We’ll take your ideas through the end of the year, so if you want to contribute your ideas, there’s lots of time.
  • Lastly, the Books on the Nightstand Holiday Gift Guides are almost ready. They will go up sometime on Thursday, and will be posted on the right-hand sidebar of this blog (booksonthenightstand.com). There will be a second gift guide this year, Michael’s Gift for Geeks (or whatever he decides to call it).

 

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (12:43)

 

Havisham Michael’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week is My Brief History by Stephen Hawking.

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Reading Opens Minds (16:03)

 

Reading Opens Minds

 

This week, I speak with Lauren Lovett, founder of Reading Opens Minds, a nonprofit organization that helps to enrich people’s lives through book clubs. I apologize for the audio quality — telephone interview are tough to make sound good — but I hope you’ll agree that the conversation is worth the poor audio quality. One of the topics we cover is Lauren’s experience leading a book group at a women’s jail, discussing Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black. Lauren also fills us in on Giving Tuesday, held this year on December 3rd, a charitable initiative embraced by hundreds of nonprofit organizations.

Lauren also recommends two books for us: Divergent by Veronica Roth, which she loves to use for new book discussion groups started at Reading Opens Minds, and Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Lauren and I both agree that Wonder should be read by everybody.

I hope you will check out the great work that Lauren and her volunteers at Reading Opens Minds are doing. Thank you, Lauren, for taking the time to speak with me.

 

*Cornucopia image borrowed from Lori Richardson of Score More Sales


Nov 24

Today, I’m honored to bring you a Project Short Story guest post from author Jessica Keener. I had the pleasure of working with Jessica on our panel at this year’s Boston Book Festival. Jessica is whip-smart, funny, and interesting, and these characteristics are reflected in her fiction. I devoured her latest short story collection, Women in Bed.

Jessica’s insights into the short story have clarified many of my own thoughts about them: why we love them, why we sometimes find them challenging. But it is Jessica’s guest post on Fairy Tales that gave me my most recent a-ha moment. Fairy Tales are often a reader’s first experience with the form of the short story, and perhaps set the expectation of what a short story should be. I’m still pondering this, and working on a post about it. I hope to share it with you soon.

Today, Jessica shares her personal experience with fairy tales.  I’d like to thank her for taking the time to write this post for us, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have. Please share your thoughts about fairy tales and all things short-story in the comments.

————

Once upon a time

By Jessica Keener

My love for short stories began in early childhood in the form of Mother Goose rhymes, but took permanent hold in the phantasmal world of fairy tales. By third grade, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Anderson’s Fairy Tales took top position on my list of favorite things to read. I loved these short stories for their raw, intense emotions.  Simple on one level—a girl walks through woods to see her grandmother—but complex on another: girl fails to perceive danger and is almost tricked by deception. In each tale, some magnetism between good and evil forces swayed the tidal currents of my subconscious.  Why, for instance, couldn’t Red Riding Hood see the wolf under her grandmother’s bonnet right away?  What took her so long to figure things out?  As an adult reader, I reconsidered the symbolism of Red Riding Hood and wondered: what present dangers are disguised behind familiar faces and forms (friends, foes, governments, pesticides)?  What causes us not to see them?

By age eleven or so, I’d read these fairy tales over and over. I felt a compulsion to do this, as if rereading and memorizing the stories and words might saturate me with their wisdom. I wanted to locate secrets about life I intuitively sensed lay embedded in those pages. Why did Goldilocks think she could enter a stranger’s house, eat leftover food and sleep in a stranger’s bed?  Didn’t someone tell her to be careful? What would I do if I were in her position?

“The Ugly Duckling” is a heart wrenching  yet  inspiring tale of a bird that is bullied, rejected, tossed by time and fate; victorious in the end, in part, because the universe decides to save it. On a more complex level, it’s about faith and despair’s intricate dance. One more day in the cold marshes and that little duck would have been a goner. Was it a G-d-like intervention? Was it the duckling’s kindly heart that drew reward after long suffering, hence a morality tale? How do we find our rightly place in the world? The story introduced me to the concept of destiny and belief in self. I wouldn’t have defined it as such when I was eight or eleven, but the elixir of perception and awareness was there in the story, in the words.

Animate and inanimate objects possessed equal power in these tales. Everything and anything had an ability to share knowledge. One of my favorite Anderson fairy tales, “The Fir Tree,” is about a tree yearning to be other than itself.  It longs to be a glittering Christmas tree. The tree finally gets his wish but it’s short-lived.  Soon after becoming a decorated tree, the holiday ends, the fir tree is discarded and chopped into pieces, then “placed in a fire under the kettle.”  Yet, earlier in the story, the fir tree had been forewarned:  “Rejoice with us,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life in the fresh air.”

This story introduced me to the concept of tragedy and loss. On a more complex level, it revealed the way disparaging thoughts can lead to self-annihilation. These are heady things for a child and I could never have expressed them thus back then, but these tales gave me comfort. Despite their dark and frightening turns, they also imparted joy and light. I leaned on them because I felt they cared enough to tell me the truth.

 

Jessica Keener   Women in Bed

Jessica Keener’s collection of short stories, Women In Bed, came out in October and has received early praise from Publisher’s Weekly, which said: “She demonstrates a versatile voice and ability to deliver as much exquisite detail as the stories’ brevity will allow.” Jessica’s debut novel, Night Swim, was published to critical acclaim and became a national bestseller.

Nov 19

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This week we talk about the painful exercise of culling your library when you just have too many books. Also, A Novel Cure and Empress Dowager Cixi.

 

Help us play publisher:

 

Two books I can't wait for you to read

We’re thinking about organizing another Books on the Nightstand book for 2014, and we’d love your ideas. We had such fun putting together Two Books I Can’t Wait For You To Read and Two Books I Can’t Wait For You To Read, Volume Two. Your book recommendations have given us two great books that we look at often. Should we publish a volume 3?  We will need your participation, so if you think we should go a different direction, we’d love to hear your ideas.

You may also consider this a reminder that our previous books are still available. You can order copies via links on our Shop BOTNS page.

Please leave your ideas for our next book in the comments of the show notes (use this link if you get this via email) by the end of December. Thanks!

 

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (07:18)

 

Havisham Havisham by Ronald Frame, narrated by Anne Flosnick 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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

How to cull a library (10:26)

 

Listener Colleen, an avid book collector for most of her life, asks how to begin culling her library. Michael and I are faced with this problem quite often, and we’ve put together a few tips:

  1. Start with your ‘”impulse” purchases. If you can’t remember why you bought a particular book, or if you can’t remember ever buying it in the first place, get rid of it.
  2. When possible, donate to an organization that will make you feel good about the donation.
  3. If you are not a habitual re-reader, keep only your very, very favorites to re-read.
  4. Incentivize your culling: for every x books you donate, allow yourself to buy one new book. Note: this should not be a 1:1 ratio.
  5. Or do the reverse: tell yourself that for every book you keep, you have to donate a certain number. Once you’ve donated your target number, allow yourself a new book.
  6. Don’t take a job in publishing, bookselling, or book blogging. The books replicate faster than you can cull.

Do you have any tips? Let us know in the comments.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:38)

 

The Novel Cure  Empress Dowager Cixi

Michael’s recommendation this week is called The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness, 751 Books to Cure wWhat Ails You. This is a collection of reading “prescriptions” –all novels, from classic to contemporary — to get you out of a funk and make you feel better, no matter what your ailment. Lack of seduction skills? Try Richard Mason’s History of a Pleasure Seeker. There are also several great lists of books: the 10 Best Break Up Novels, for example. There are also recommendations for “reading ailments” — one of which is “Overwhelmed by the number of books in your house.” The prescription: cull your library.

I am currently reading (and definitely recommend) Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang, who you may know from her brilliant Wild Swans. Cixi was a Chinese ruler who had a reputation for being ruthless and vengeful, but Jung Chang has tapped an array of original sources to turn that perception on its head. Instead, the author says, Cixi was a smart ruler who was responsible for bringing China into the modern century. After launching a coup against the men who were installed to guide the 5-year-old Emperor in ruling China, she took command, ruling mostly from behind a silk screen. Cixi was responsible for the end of foot binding; she brought current technology to the military weapons, brought the railroads to China, and was very involved in domestic and foreign affairs.

Nov 12

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Booktopia Petoskey talks from Peter Heller, Jill McCorkle, and Bill Roorbach.

Notes from this week’s podcast — to get the full Books on the Nightstand experience, listen to the audio. We know many of you enjoy reading our show notes, but the audio show is where the discussion happens. If you are receiving this via email, there should be a link to download the file at the bottom of this message. Just click the file to play.

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, you can subscribe via iTunes, or use one of our favorite podcast apps Instacast (for iOS or Mac) or Stitcher (iPhone, Android, iPad or PC)

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week

 

standMichael chose this week’s book:  The Stand by Stephen King, narrated by Grover Gardner.

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Peter Heller, Jill McCorkle, and Bill Roorbach (05:05)

This week, we’re pleased to bring you the Booktopia Petoskey talks from Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars, Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life, and Bill Roorbach, author of Life Among Giants.

dog stars     life after     among giants

 

Nov 05

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 Do you have to like an entire book for it to have merit? Big books, our love and lament. Shirley Jackson and Chip Kidd’s new book on graphic design.

Notes from this week’s podcast — to get the full Books on the Nightstand experience, listen to the audio. We know many of you enjoy reading our show notes, but the audio show is where the discussion happens. If you are receiving this via email, there should be a link to download the file at the bottom of this message. Just click the file to play.

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, you can subscribe via iTunes, or use one of our favorite podcast apps Instacast (for iOS or Mac) or Stitcher (iPhone, Android, iPad or PC)

Giving a book partial credit

 

This week’s question is from Kathy, who asks: “When talking about a book, how do you keep your “feelings” about it from coloring the discussion? Lots of books I’ve read lately have had many fine points – strong plot, great descriptions, thoughtful issues – but if there is something a bit off–don’t get me started about endings..authors seem often to run out of steam 3/4 the way through– or characters who all of a sudden act implausibly – I find my reviews get more critical than helpful. Do you have to “like” an entire book for it to have merit?”

What do you think? Can you overcome one flaw if the rest of the book is strong?

(If you have a question for us that you’d like answered on the podcast, please fill out this form)

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (08:33)

 

Rosie ProjectAnn chose this week’s book:  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, narrated by Dan O’Grady.

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

Tomes, doorstops, and big books (12:43)

 

We recently got an email from listener Lisa: “ I just purchased Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries,  both novels well over 500 pages each.  And I got to thinking about how much I have loved big books over the years.  The longer the better especially if written by a favorite author.  Now I am a teacher and have to begrudgingly store them beside my nightstand until Christmas break or summer holidays. What are some tomes you, Michael and some of the Books on the Nightstand listeners have enjoyed over the years? ”

Some of Michael’s favorites:

Soem of Ann’s favorites:

What are some of your favorite books over 500 pages? Leave them in the comments… (Note: if you are receiving this by email, please click this link to go to the blog post and leave your comments (just click the words that say “Share Your Thoughts” or “x Brilliant Comments” at the top or bottom of the post) so that others may see them. Thanks!)

 

 

 Two books we can’t wait for you to read (23:36)

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle   GO by Chip Kidd

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is a book that I should have read years ago, but I’m happy that I’ve finally gotten to it. It’s phenomenal. Most people know Shirley Jackson from her short story “The Lottery”, but this novel deserves more recognition from modern readers. First published in 1962, it’s the story of a two sisters who live in a grand house and are shunned by the people in the town where they live after most of the family members die by poisoning.

Michael tells us about Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd. It’s aimed at kids and teens, but can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in graphic design. It covers the basics of graphic design and includes 10 projects. It’s easy to understand and filled with visual examples, including many of the book jackets that Kidd has designed, so it’s perfect for book lovers as well as graphic design enthusiasts.

Oct 31

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This special episode of the Books on the Nightstand podcast is all about Booktopia: what it is, what happens there, and most importantly, the locations and dates for Booktopia 2014!

CORRECTION: Michael gave the wrong dates for our Boulder Booktopia. The correct dates are May 16-18, 2014. Sorry for the confusion!

There’s lots more information at the official Booktopia website, and you can sign up for the Booktopia email list to receive all of the Booktopia updates in your inbox. We won’t be sending out updates via the podcast after this, so if you want to stay in the know about all things Booktopia, the Booktopia email list is the best way to do that.

Oct 29

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International publishing questions; World Book Night 2014 titles announced; recommendations for new books by Rob Delaney and Pat Conroy.

A quick note for those of you who receive this by email. Don’t forget that there is an audio file attached to this email. You can download and listen to our show right on your computer. Just look for the link at the bottom of the email. It came to our attention recently that some of you didn’t realize that there was an audio element to our show, and indeed, the audio is the primary way we talk about books. Give it a try if you haven’t listened before. Thanks!

International Shenanigans

Two questions from our Q&A form:
Bonny from Adelaide, Australia wonders why books are often published at different times in different countries around the world. Linda from Ohio wonders why series books are sometimes released out of order when translated into English.

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (10:58)

worlds strongestThis week’s selection, chosen by Michael:  The World’s Strongest Librarian, written by Josh Hanagarne and narrated by Stephen R. Thorne. You can find Josh’s blog here.

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

World Book Night 2014 (15:15)

WBN2014_ApplyAd_300x250April 23, 2014 is World Book Night and the organizers just announced the list of titles available for giveaway. (You can find the UK site here) It’s a wonderful list of books to choose from, including books by three Booktopia Petoskey authors: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Lighthouse Road, and The Dog Stars. Other titles we mention include Same Difference, Hoot, Bridge to Terabithia, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Code Name Verity, Kitchen Confidential, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Wait Till Next Year, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, 100 Best Loved Poems, Bobcat, When I Was Puerto Rican, Catch-22, and Wild. You have until January 5, 2014, to apply to be a World Book Night Giver, but don’t wait!

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (27:03)

I refer to Rob Delaney’s book – full title: Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. – as 80% frat humor and 20% thoughtful recollections of the important events in his life. It is hilarious, it is heartbreaking, it is raunchy, and it is real.

Pat Conroy famously said that he would never write about his father – the inspiration for The Great Santini – until he had passed away. Now, we get The Death of Santini, the memoir of his relationship with his volatile father, and how that man affected Pat and his siblings.

Oct 22

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Book production techniques, a literary tour of the USA, and recommendations of Longbourn by Jo Baker, and Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang.

A quick note for those of you who receive this by email. Don’t forget that there is an audio file attached to this email. You can download and listen to our show right on your computer. Just look for the link at the bottom of the email. It came to our attention recently that some of you didn’t realize that there was an audio element to our show, and indeed, the audio is the primary way we talk about books. Give it a try if you haven’t listened before. Thanks!

What Are Those Things Called?

Starting this week, the first segment of most episodes will feature a question asked by one of you via the Ask Us a Question link on the Books on the Nightstand homepage. This week Don, from North Carolina asked us three questions about different kinds of production techniques including french flaps, deckle edges, and a relatively new jacket coating called (at least in the UK) Supermatt. It’s sort of a waxy/rubbery coating that Ann (and Don) enjoy, and I most definitely do not. (Further Googling revealed other industry names for this coating: Liquid Velvet and Soft Touch)

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (13:03)

This week’s selection, chosen by Ann: Cartwheel, written by Jennifer DuBois and narrated by Emily Rankin

cartwheel

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

A Literary Tour of the USA (17:38)

Business Insider recently published a map, online, titled “The Most Famous Book Set In Every State.” There’s no explanation of their methodology and some of their choices (Rhode Island and South Dakota) lead to some interesting discussions between Ann and me. Others, like Carrie for Maine, East of Eden for California, and The Sound and the Fury for Mississippi, are the just and proper choice. Given that we’ve got listeners all over the country, tell us what you would change on this map.

Three books we can’t wait for you to read (26:41)

longbourn     boxerssaints

Ann was so drawn into Longbourn by Jo Baker, that all she wanted to do was have tea and shortbread, and lose herself in this re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants in the Bennet household.

Gene Luen Yang’s historical graphic novels Boxers and Saints, masterfully give us the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China, by following one young person on each side of the conflict. The books (which are also available in a boxed-set) have been nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Oct 15

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How I read 10 classics in 30 minutes; Books about books, words, and punctuation; Dave Eggers’ THE CIRCLE and Donald Antrim’s The Hundred Brothers.

A quick note for those of you who receive this by email. Don’t forget that there is an audio file attached to this email. You can download and listen to our show right on your computer. Just look for the link at the bottom of the email. It came to our attention recently that some of you didn’t realize that there was an audio element to our show, and indeed, the audio is the primary way we talk about books. Give it a try if you haven’t listened before. Thanks!

Today, I read Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, and eight other classics:

 

Cozy Classics Pride and Prejudice   Wuthering Heights

I bought some classics for the new baby of a dear friend. I just couldn’t resist, and I couldn’t resist telling you about these incredibly cute board books for babies. There are two separate series:  The first  are “BabyLit” books by Jennifer Adams with art by Alison Oliver. These are counting, color, and weather primers all based on classics. The second series, Cozy Classics, are by Jack & Holman Wang. These tell the story of classic novels in just 12 words, illustrated with felted figurines. I just love these, though they may really be a gift for new parents rather than the baby.

 

audiobooks.comAudiobook of the week (06:27)

 

This week’s selection, chosen by Michael: Lexicon by Max Barry, read by Harry Corrigan and Zach Appelman Lexicon

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Books, Words, & Punctuation (09:52)

 

Michael and I are both reading (or want to read) books that have words and language as a theme. It’s purely coincidence, but we thought it would be fun to tell you about these.

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of  Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Huston looks at the history of punctuation and other symbols. It’s perfect for word and type nerds.

A Compendium of Collective Nouns: From an Armory of Aardvarks to a Zeal of Zebras by Jason Sacher is a coffee-table-style book that is highly illustrated and so much fun to read. A Cog of Robots, anyone?

A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland from the publisher of A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich and other books in the series. The book features many short chapters about books, literature, publishing, reading habits, awards, and spotlights many authors and classic works of literature. It’s fun, very readable, and incredibly interesting.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:32)

 

The Hundred Brothers   The Circle

Donald Antrim recently won a MacArthur genius grant, and Michael talks about his novel The Hundred Brothers. It’s the story of 100 sons who gather together to search for the ashes of their father.

I’ve been raving to anyone who will listen about Dave Eggers’ The Circle.  It’s the story of Mae Holland, who takes a dream job at a California tech company called The Circle. I think this novel can be read on two levels: Mae’s story is an entertaining page-turner on its own, but it’s also a fascinating look at where technology may take us.

 

 

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