Dec 08

Alternative book clubs, an “elevator pitch” to describe books we like, and new books about knights and gut microbes.

 

I was intrigued by this story, “The Rise of the Alternative Book Club,” including a “walking book club,” so I thought I’d share it with you. In the past we’ve talked about knitting book clubs and other interesting iterations of book discussion groups. Are you part of a reading group with a unique twist? Let us know in the comments.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:31)


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, narrated by Simon Vance, 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 60,000 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

 

Why we like the books we do (09:50)

We received an email from Elaine in Maine, which reads in part: “What I rely on to pick books I might read are the short reviews, interviews and podcasts.  I try to pick fascinating characters likable or not, intriguing story plots.  In non-fiction prefer biographies over memoirs,  exploration of places and events.” This got us thinking: can we sum up our reading preferences as succinctly and directly as Elaine has? Please join us as Michael and I explore and try to express why we like the books we do. We don’t talk a lot about specific titles, but we do mention a few:

Stitches by David Small

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Judge This by Chip Kidd

Books by Wally Lamb. I don’t know Wally Lamb was the example that jumped into my mind when we were discussing blurbs, but I do enjoy his books.

We completely failed to come up with a two-sentence “elevator pitch” about what we like to read, and we admire Elaine greatly for being able to pinpoint her preferences so well. What about you? Can you boil down your reading preferences into two sentences that will help others recommend books to you? Share them here, if you like. I’d love to read them.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (31:13)

 

Rules for a Knight   Follow Your Gut

My recommendation this week is Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke (yes, that one). Written in the form of a letter to his children by a Medieval knight who is going off to war, it’s a wonderful book of parables and life lessons. This is perfect for ages 10 through adult, or you can have fun reading it to a younger child. I really love the design of the book and the way that it feels in the hand.

Michael recommends Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes by Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler, which is an accessible look at the importance of the microbes in our system, and how they impact things like antibiotics, probiotics, and antibacterial soap. It’s entertaining and informative that makes a very complicated topic very easy to understand.

 

Dec 01

The Holiday Gift Guide is here! We discuss a sort-of genre of books that we can’t quite put a name to. Plus, we recommend The Grownup by Gillian Flynn and Gratitude by Oliver Sacks.

 

Download the Books on the Nightstand 2015 Holiday Gift Guide!
This year, sharing the Gift Guide on social media could win you free signed books! Every time you share the guide on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, linking to this page and using the hashtag #BOTNS2015GG, you’ll be entered to win a complete set of our Booktopia Petoskey 2015 authors’ most recent books, signed by the authors! Runners-up will receive one signed book. Don’t forget that using the #GiveaBook means that Penguin Random House will donate a book to a child in need, so throw that hashtag on your post/tweet as well! We’ll randomly choose winners just after Christmas, and mail out the books in early January. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:24)


Hexed, Kevin Hearne  Hammered, Kevin Hearne

Hexed and Hammered by Kevin Hearne, narrated by Luke Daniels, are my picks for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook(s) 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 60,000 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 Do We Call This? (06:14)

After reading What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas, a listener wrote in asking if, like young adult, there should be a category for older adults. We discuss what that category could include, what it should be called (we have no idea), and will categorizing books that way limit their audience?

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (23:36)

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The Grownup by Gillian Flynn, is a short story newly released in a special small hardcover. The story follows an unnamed narrator who, in her scam job as a medium, is called in to investigate the evil that’s pervading a family. But is that evil coming from the old Gothic house they recently moved to, or is it coming from the sullen teenage son full of anger and threats? In true Gillian Flynn fashion, you will be kept guessing!

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks, is a beautiful hardcover containing the four essays written for The New York Times by Dr. Sacks in the two years leading up to his death. These powerful and moving essays are filled with universal truths and should be read and re-read by everyone.

Nov 27

We’re very pleased to bring you the Books on the Nightstand 2015 Holiday Gift Guide, a collection of 38 books hand-selected by Ann and me. It was very hard to keep our lists reasonably-sized this year, but repeated culling has resulted in an extremely giftable list! You can download the Gift Guide by clicking on the above link, or the image below. The guide is sized for printing, and, if you only want to print out one page, the last page is a checklist.

 

BOTNS Holiday Gift Guide 2015 Cover Image

 

This year, sharing the Gift Guide on social media could win you free signed books! Every time you share the guide on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, linking to this page and using the hashtag #BOTNS2015GG, you’ll be entered to win a complete set of our Booktopia Petoskey 2015 authors’ most recent books, signed by the authors! Runners-up will receive one signed book. Don’t forget that using the #GiveaBook means that Penguin Random House will donate a book to a child in need, so throw that hashtag on your post/tweet as well! We’ll randomly choose winners just after Christmas, and mail out the books in early January. Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Nov 24

A statement of disclosure; a cornucopia of links, and two books that we don’t want you to forget about.

 

We received a comment asking us to let listeners know when we talk about a book if we’ve gotten it for free, and to mention when it is discounted. Much of what we read is for work, usually before the book is available to the public. Other times, books are sent to us by publicists who hope that we will cover the book on the podcast. When we accept books from publicists, we are careful to let them know that we may not talk about it. Though we do purchase many books ourselves, for the purposes of this blog and podcast, it is easiest to assume that we have received the books for free. At no time does the cost (or lack of cost) of a book determine if we talk about it on the podcast. We only talk about books that we recommend, and our recommendations are not determined by the price that we pay.

We also don’t mention specific retailers or sales when recommending books. We encourage you to buy books from your preferred source. When we mention a price, we mention the publisher’s suggested retail price. Many booksellers, both online and bricks and mortar, discount some selection of books, be it bestsellers, books sold at an author event, staff picks, etc. The books discounted vary widely between retailers. It’s easier for us to just mention the retail price of the book, and let our listeners buy the book where they choose.”

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:47)


Dumplin'    Dumplin‘,
 written by Julie Murphy and narrated by Eileen Stevens, 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 60,000 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

 

Cornucopia Redux (11:30)

In what appears to be an annual tradition, today’s episode is a mishmash of topics: things that we found interesting but that don’t warrant an entire show. We hope you enjoy!

Thanks to Hypertext Magazine for interviewing us! If you haven’t yet explored Hypertext, please do — it’s a great online magazine featuring fiction, essays, and articles.

Margaret Atwood has lent her name to a line of Certified Bird-Friendly coffee that is available at Balzac Coffee in Canada. This topic is raised in Atwood’s novel The Year of the Flood, and I love the real-life way to help the cause.

After the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast has seen a resurgence in sales. Many think that the book represents the best of the French way of life and is a way to celebrate freedom and not let the terrorists win.

The New Yorker has announced that it will periodically feature novellas on its online site, chosen by Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman. The first one, In Hindsight by Callan Wink, is up this week alongside an interview with the author. Some of our favorite novellas are those in Melville House’s “The Art of the Novella” series, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, and the forthcoming novella from Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday (which will be published in the US in April 2016).

We liked this Time Magazine article on the history of Young Adult as its own category. Did you know that the category developed through the efforts of librarians?

A listener emailed us this article from Inside Higher Ed: Station Eleven and an Idea for a Cross-Disciplinary Course on Collapse,” by Joshua Kim. It’s a fascinating discussion (continued in the comments) about using literature to explore the resilience of the human spirit in the face of societal collapse. Michael is reading a novel in this category called The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (coming in July 2016) that would fit into this topic.

Author and BOTNS friend Matthew Dicks has launched a new podcast called Boy Vs. Girl, cohosted with sociologist Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, talking about gender and gender stereotypes. It’s fun, entertaining and informative, and I think many of our listeners will enjoy it.

And lastly, we tell you about Give A Book, a program sponsored by our employers, Penguin Random House. For every use of the hashtag #GiveABook on Twitter or Facebook between now and December 25th, Penguin Random House will donate one book (up to 35,000) to First Book, a literacy organization that puts books into the hands of children. In addition, if you want to find a place near you where you can donate a book that will go into your local community, please check out the Give A Book Giving Map, which will help you find a bookstore near you that is sponsoring a book drive or other charitable program to get books to those who need them.

NOTE: Our annual holiday BOTNS Gift Guide will go live on Friday morning November 27, 2015. We’ll post the link here when we have it, and it will also be featured on the sidebar at booksonthenightstand.com.

 

Don’t you forget about me (30:29)

 

The Virgin Suicides   Ella Minnow Pea

Michael recommends The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, which is in a new, small hardcover Picador Classics edition. It’s the story of five sisters in a suburb of Detroit and their demise, told from the point of view of the boys in the neighborhood.

My pick is Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, a novel told in letters. It’s set on the island of Nollop (off the coast of South Carolina) and it tells the story of what happens when, one by one, a society outlaws the use of specific letters of the alphabet. It’s a real treat for language lovers!

Nov 18

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This week we’re very pleased to bring you the book discussions for two of The Readers/BOTNS Favorites held at Booktopia Petoskey. This episode features the discussions for The Sparrow and The Professor’s House, and over on the current episode of The Readers, you can hear us talking about Rebecca and Any Human Heart.

 

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Nov 10

Amazon’s new brick and mortar bookstore; our reading plans for 2016; an illustrated book about weather and a new book by Cheryl Strayed.

 

We got a lot of email requests to discuss Amazon’s new brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle, Amazon Books. Neither Michael nor I has been there, and we don’t really know very much. Several reporters have visited and reported back, and there have been other articles speculating about Amazon’s motivation for opening a brick and mortar bookstore. If any of you have visited, let us know what you think.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:26)


The Heart Goes Last    The Heart Goes Last
 written by Margaret Atwood and narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Mark Deakins, 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 60,000 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

 

Planning ahead for 2016 (15:24)

 

There’s a thread in our Goodreads group called 2016 Reading Plans, where listeners are discussing personal reading challenges and strategies for 2016. The idea arose to read one book a month from a list of BOTNS’s listener favorites. We’d love for you to include your favorites on the list: your favorite book of all time, and your favorite book published in 2015. You can enter your choices in this form, which we will post in the near future.

My plan is to spend some of 2016 focused on the personal essay. A few weeks back I talked about Sarah Bakewell’s How To Live and how much it made me interested in Montaigne, who is considered to be the first personal essayist. So now I want to read Montaigne, and I also want to explore other personal essays to discover for myself what I like and what I don’t about reading essays.

Michael started out by saying that he was going to just read whatever he wants whenever he wants, but stick to reading one book at a time. But then as our conversation continues, it turns out that he also wants to read from a list of short stories. Of course I couldn’t let that pass, so I recommended 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore with coeditor Heidi Pitlor.

The Complete Essays of Montaigne  100 Years of the Best American Short Stories

 

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (28:38)

 

Thunder and Lightning    Brave Enough

 

Michael recommends Thunder and Lightning: Weather Past, Present, and Future by Lauren Redniss, a graphic nonfiction book of science that it illustrated with incredible images that tell the story of weather in a very unique way. Redniss looks at weather throughout history, from the scientific aspects to the human interest stories behind weather events. It’s gorgeous and informative, and very visual, so please do go take a look at the finished book in your local bookstore. Redniss is the author of Radioactive, a book about Marie Curie that was the first illustrated nonfiction to be nominated for a National Book Award.

My pick for this week is Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed. This is a book of quotes from Cheryl Strayed’s work: Wild and Tiny, Beautiful Things are represented here, but there are also quotes from her interviews and other writings. Strayed’s words have inspired many, and people have enjoyed sharing quotes from her work via social media. This collection takes the words out of the context in which they originally appeared, which gives them a weight and power of their own. It’s a great gift, which Strayed describes as a “mini instruction manual for the soul.”

Nov 03

This week we bring you the first three author talks from Booktopia Vermont 2015, recorded at Northshire Bookstore:

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Oct 27

International bestseller lists, and don’t you forget about Ice Time by Jay Atkinson, and How to Live by Sarah Bakewell.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (02:30)

Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, Mark SchatzkerThe Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker, narrated by Chris Patton, 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 60,000 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

 

Bestsellers Around the World (07:48)intestine

A recent column from Publishers Weekly gave a quick overview of some bestseller lists from other countries (France, Sweden, and Italy). In addition to crime fiction and political memoirs, coloring books are selling well around the world! Some of the titles we mention:

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (23:11)

Ice Time: A Tale of Fathers, Sons, and Hometown Heroes     How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Ice Time by Jay Atkinson is a wonderful look at small town life in general, and a high school hockey team in general. It’s a sports book that even I (Michael) loved.

How to Live by Sarah Bakewell is a book that Ann read and loved a few years ago, and is now revisiting it on audio (narrated by Davina Porter) in preparation for reading the essays of Michel de Montaigne, the subject of Bakewell’s book.

Oct 20

Great news for a formerly-banned book; Bookclubs for grownups and children together; new books from Adam Makos and Mary Gaitskill

Unbanned (00:40)

Good news this week for Into The River, the novel by Ted Dawes that had been banned in New Zealand. The ban has been lifted, and will be made available immediately with a parental warning on the cover to help guide parents. Also, rights to publish the novel in the US and Canda have been acquired by Polis Books, so look for Into the River here in June 2016.

 

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (02:20)


Furiously Happy    Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
 written and narrated by Jenny Lawson, 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 60,000 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 family that reads together (08:51)

One of our listeners asked us to talk about parent/child reading groups (for “parent,” feel free to substitute aunt, uncle, grandparent, teacher, babysitter, or any other adult that you trust with your child). Michael recently heard Gretchen Rubin talk about this on a recent Happier podcast (can someone help with the specific episode?), and we thought it was a great topic.

There are so many options on how to organize a grownup/child bookclub: it can be just one grownup/one child, groups of children and grownups, or anything in between. Experts recommend grouping by age so that they are all at about the same reading level, but that depends on the age level. Other people recommend keeping it gender specific, but Michael and I agree that that is not necessary or maybe even preferred. Integrating an activity related to the book seems to be a popular choice, with the specific activity dependent on age of the kids in the group. Crafts, baking, even seeing a movie can all be tied into the book in a fun way.

It’s difficult to recommend specific books, because the choice will vary with age, but some of the books that came to us right away are:

Wonder by RJ Palacio

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

The Witches by Roald Dahl

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and the young reader’s edition

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and the young adult version

 

Resources:

How to Start a Parent-Child Book Club 

Book Clubs for Kids

Start a Parent-Child Book Club

The Story on Parent-Child Book Clubs (pdf)

So for our listeners: have you been part of a grownup/child book group? Feel free to share your experiences with us and our other listeners in the comments below. Thanks!

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:20)

Devotion   The Mare

 

Michael recommends Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos. This is the true story of two men from very different backgrounds who became friends in the U.S. Navy before the Korean War, and how one pilot makes a huge sacrifice to save the life of the other. Devotion will be published on October 27th.

My recommendation this week is The Mare by Mary Gaitskill, which will be published on November 3rd (so you can preorder it from your local bookstore or get on your library’s reserve list). On the surface, this is a story of a girl and a horse. But in fact it is so very much more. Paul and Ginger, a couple who is unable to have children, decide to host a child from the city through the Fresh Air Fund. That child is Velveteen, a girl who has a tough family life. The relationship is fraught with questions about who’s helping who, and how Velvet is expected to make the transition between her home life and the country life with Paul and Ginger, makes this a multi-layered novel that is complex but never preachy.

Oct 13

Mispronounced literary names. A scary book bracket for Halloween. And, two books we can’t wait for you to read.

 

Hermey-own and VoldemorT

A recent article from The Telegraph lists the top 10 most commonly mispronounced literary names, including Don Quixote, Smaug, and Daenerys Targaryen.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:20)

Mary Poppins, P.L. TraversMary Poppins by P.L. Travers, narrated by Sophie Thompson, 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 60,000 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

 

Scary Sixteen (08:30)

Some of our colleagues at Penguin Random House have put together Scary Sixteen, a bracket to determine what’s the ultimate spooky read for Halloween. You can see the results so far in the image below, and you can go to the Penguin Random House blog, The Perch to vote on the next round.

Scary Sixteen - All Titles - Round Three Winners

Other spooky books we love:

Also, Ann and I, separately had been thinking about books we should read, and each decided that it was time for you all to vote on a book for us. We’ll start compiling our short list and collect your votes for a book we’ll read over the holiday break! More to come.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (24:07)

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Home is Burning by Dan Marshall is not for everyone. Just look at the cover up there. That crossed-out word (along with many of its off-color brethren) permeate this darkly funny and cringe-inducing memoir of Dan and his siblings caring for their Dad, who’s dying of ALS, while simultaneously managing their mother, who is not making it easy on them.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg has been one of the most buzzed-about books since it was first bought by publishers around the world. Set in 1970s New York City, this tome, which actually reads quickly, is the story of several people, some rich, some poor, some black, some white, some gay, some straight, but all affected by and drawn into the city.

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