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Books on the Nightstand published our final episode in July 2016. This is a place for listeners to find old episodes. 

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Jun 18, 2013

How we choose the next book to read? Does the news influence the books that you choose to read? New books from Ethan Rutherford and J. Courtney Sullivan.

Listener question: how do we choose books to read?

This week, we start with another listener question (have a question? Ask it here.):

Chanda in KY writes: "With SO many amazing books out there, how do you select which book to read next? If you enjoy a book, do you tend to read everything else out there by that author right away, or do you space it out and read other books in between? I used to "overindulge" on an author and read everything they had written in sequence, if I truly enjoyed their work, but lately I have found myself choosing to read books that are totally different from each other, i.e. I will read a memoir and then a historical novel and then a horror or sci-fi book. Just wondering your thoughts on this."

Both Michael and I agree that there's not a real science to our book choices -- a lot depends on mood. And we both agree that it would be a luxury to serial-read an author's complete works, but not something in which we can often indulge.

I will also pick books, or move them up the To Be Read pile, based on what people are talking about. For instance, this week on Twitter, people were talking about the fortchoming Tampa by Alissa Nutting, and so I've moved it up on my reading list.

Please let us know here, in the comments, how you choose your next book to read. If you are receiving this blog post by email, please click the link and comment on the blog, so that conversation can flow there. Thanks!


Books and the News:

There have been some stories in the news about how sales of 1984 have increased, possibly due to the breaking story about the NSA surveillance of US telecommunications.

While we can't quite understand why the news would bring someone to buy 1984, we're in favor of anything that makes people buy books. Another suggested read for those interested in the unfolding NSA story: The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping of America by James Bamford

The recent death of Iain Banks has made me want to read his work. I had heard his name for a very long time, but had no idea just how important he was to so many readers. This has made me want to pick up his work. Again via twitter, suggested places to start with Banks are The Wasp Factory or The Crow Road (literary fiction written under the name Iain Banks) and Consider Phlebas (Book 1 in the Culture series, published under Ian M. Banks).

Here in New England, we're also following the trial of mob-boss Whitey Bulger. There are two books that have come out recently that cover his life and capture:

and also two books written a few years ago by associates of Bulger:

And we ask you: what kinds of news stories make you pick up a book?


Two Books We Can't Wait for you to Read


Peripatetic CoffinThe Engagements

Short story month is now over, and we ask Michael about his promise to read a short story every day in May. (Hint: he didn't succeed). The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales was a collection that he enjoyed.

Michael also enjoyed The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories by Ethan Rutherford, a story collection that has a very interesting mix of stories. One of Michael's favorites is "Summer Boys," about the friendship between two boys. The title story, "The Peripatetic Coffin," takes place in the first Confederate submarine. This book is getting rave reviews from all over, including from Michael.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan is a novel featuring several people who are in various stages of marriage. The thread that runs through the novel and connects these individual couples' stories is the real-life woman who in 1945 created the advertising phrase "A Diamond is Forever" for the DeBeers diamond company. Courtney is the author of previous novels Commencement and Maine, and I think she's getting better and better with every book.