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Teaser Tuesday 10/19 The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Teaser TuesdayTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Grab your current read, open to a random page, share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.  
Share the title & author, too,

I have to cite one paragraph instead of the standard two sentences. The last sentence is so good and so true!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:"I probably coughed self-pityingly in response, little aware that I was about to cross a tremendous threshold through which there would be no return; that in my hands I held an object whose simple appearance belied its profound power. All true readers have a book, a moment, like the one I describe, and when Mum offered me the much-read library copy mine was upon me. For although I didn't know it then, after falling deep inside the world of Mud Man, real life was never going to be able to compete with fiction again. I've been grateful to Miss Perry ever since, for when she handed that novel over the counter and urged my harried mother to pass it on to me, she either confused me with a much older child or else she'd glimpsed deep inside my soul and percieved a hole that needed filling. I've always chiosen to believe the latter. After all, it's the librarian's sworn purpose to bring books together with their one true reader." -- p.31 ARC of The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, (November 2010)

I'm half-way through this book. So far, I loving it.

What are you reading? What book held profound power for you?

Barbara's picture

It's Monday! What are you Reading? Three Books -- oh no!

                  Monday, What Are You Reading?


This meme is hosted by Sheila from One Person's Journey Through a World in Books.

I'm reading three books this week.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (November 2010, Doubleday)

Publisher's summary: The incomparable author of such classics as The Great Santini and Beach Music, celebrates the books that have changed his life.  Pat shares stories about the books that he views as the most important influences on his life as a boy, a man, and as one of America’s most gifted writers.

My Reading LifeAtlanta Magazine praises My Reading Life as “his most personal and introspective offering yet…you are in the hands of a master craftsman who happens to be a great storyteller.”



The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (November 2010, Atria Books)

Publisher's summary: A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn't been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

The Distant HoursInside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother's past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in 'the distant hours' of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian, March 2011, Scribner)

Publisher's summary: Set in San Francisco during the first year of Obama's presidency, Three Stages of Amazement deftly charts the struggles and triumphs of Lena Rusch and her husband Charlie Pepper, still believe they can have it all--sex, love, marriage, children, career, brilliance.

Three StagesFifteen years after her stunning debut, Rise the Euphrates, Carol Edgarian has created a panoramic and deeply moving story about business and family and the demands of love in our time. She takes readers on a spellbinding journey inside America today, with an unforgettable cast of characters including Cal Rusch, Lena's uncle, a Silicon Valley titan, and Ivy, his socialite wife, who engender complication in the lives of all the people they touch: their grown children, business partners, friends, the servants and workers upon whom the glamorous life depends--and Lena, whose quest for grace is the pulse of this gorgeous novel.

As Lena and Charlie, Ivy and Cal, face the temptations of their youth and the fantasy of the redo, they discover that real life is the ultimate challenge.

Told with eloquence and compassion, Three Stages of Amazement is a true thriller of the heart, a riveting story about confronting adversity, gaining wisdom, and finding great love.

All of these titles would create great conversations for reading groups.

What are you reading?

Barbara's picture

2010 National Book Awards Finalists


National Book Awards Finalists

Author Pat Conroy announced the twenty Finalists for the 2010 National Book Award on Wedneday. The list includes a previous National Book Award Winner, two previous Finalists, thirteen women--the largest number of women Finalists in a single year in the Awards' history--and six books from small, independent presses.

Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
Nicole Krauss, Great House
Lionel Shriver, So Much for That
Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel

Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq
Patti Smith, Just Kids
Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward
Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War

Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City Terrance Hayes, Lighthead
James Richardson, By the Numbers
C.D. Wright, One with Others
Monica Youn, Ignatz 

Young People's Literature
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird
Laura McNeal, Dark Water
Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown
Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer

The winners will be announced on November 17th.

Have you read any one of these? Will you read them now because they are finalists? Will you wait and only read the winners? What about the poetry collections?

Barbara's picture

Man Booker Prize Winner Announced

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson has won the Man Booker Prize beating out the favorite, C by Tom McCarthy.

Sir Andrew Motion, Chair of the judges, made the announcement. Motion comments, "The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize."

From everthing I've read, The Finkler Question is a great reading group choice. Identity, ethnicity, justice, relationships are great conversation topics.

The Finkler QuestionPublisher summary: Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they’ve never quite lost touch with each other - or with their former teacher, Libor Sevick, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. Now, both Libor and Sam are recently widowed, and with Treslove, his chequered and unsuccessful record with women rendering him an honorary third widower, they dine at Libor’s grand, central London apartment.

It’s a sweetly painful evening of reminiscence in which all three remove
themselves to a time before they had loved and lost; a time before they had
fathered children, before the devastation of separations, before they had prized
anything greatly enough to fear the loss of it. Better, perhaps, to go through life
without knowing happiness at all because that way you have less to mourn?

Treslove finds he has tears enough for the unbearable sadness of both his friends’ losses.

And it’s that very evening, at exactly 11:30, as Treslove, walking home, hesitates a moment outside the window of the oldest violin dealer in the country, that he is attacked. And after this, his whole sense of who and what he is will slowly and ineluctably change. 

Congratulations, Mr Jacobson!

Will you read it?

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday October 12: My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Teaser TuesdayTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read, Open to a random page, share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page, and share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My Reading Life"Whatever prize I brought out of the woods, my mother could match with a book from the library. She read so many books that she was famous among the librarians in every town she entered. Since she did not attend college, she looked to the librarians as her magic carpet into a serious intellectual life. Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom." -- p 3, ARC of My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, (Release Date: November, 2, 2010)

What are you reading this wonderful Tuesday?

Barbara's picture

Carla Cohen, awesome bookseller

Rest in Peace, Carla Cohen. An awesome bookseller and champion of writer, founder and co-owner of the Washington, DC Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse. You will be missed.

Barbara's picture

Author On the Bookcase: Jennifer Vanderbes, author of Strangers at the Feast

Author On the Bookcase
Jennifer Vanderbes

Jennifer VanderbesI'm thrilled to welcome Jennifer Vanderbes, author of the new book, Strangers at the Feasts, to On the Bookcase. On Thanksgiving Day 2007, three generations of the Olson family gather. While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen-year-old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job. A series of tragic events bring these two worlds ever closer, exposing the dangerously thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone's life.

Jennifer writes stories that "attempt to answer certain questions." A simple "what if" question started the story that became Strangers at the Feast.

What questions did you want the reader to ponder while reading Strangers at the Feast, Jennifer?

The questions I am most often asked by Book Clubs have to do with my inspiration – how did you come up with this story?

All of my writing is an attempt to answer certain questions: I never write autobiographically because I am less interested in what has happened than in what might have happened. In school, I was often told, “write what you know,” but that seemed utterly boring. I want to discover that which I don’t yet know, so every story or novel I write begins with one, or a series of what ifs…...

E.M. Forester once famously explained that ’The King died and the Queen died’ is a a narrative,  but that  ‘The King died and the Queen died of grief’ is a plot.  A good story is tightly bound by cause and effect, so I’m always looking for an interesting chain of events; this will determine where the story begins, and where it  ends. But I won’t begin writing until I am certain that the chain of events presented in the novel, the “what-if” scenarios that I am answering, will, in the end, pose much larger moral and political questions for the reader, and for myself.

Stranger at the FeastThe basic premise for Strangers at the Feast came on a Thanksgiving Day several years ago when I was too ill to attend my family’s dinner. I stayed home, but managed a decent walk, during which time I peered into a lot of windows and noticed how so many houses were empty, and that it would make an excellent day for a break-in.  So there I had it – what if on this peaceful holiday there was a moment of trespass, the violation of a home.  From that simple scenario a series of secondary questions sprung to mind: who would be the trespasser, where would this happen, and, most important: why would it happen?

Those questions could only be answered by populating the story, and here is where memory and experience sometimes play a role for me.

I had spent a portion of my childhood in the area of Stamford, CT, watching the city undergo a dramatic “urban renewal” – housing projects were torn down, and the black population that had once been so visible on the downtown streets seemed to vanish. I had long wondered – where did these people go? – and that curiosity led me to invent the character of Kijo, a seventeen-year-old black boy who is living in the Stamford projects.

Years ago, I attended a dinner for women writers hosted by a single woman who had adopted a young girl from India. At the time, I had no idea this would ever make its way into my fiction.  But clearly something in the image of this woman and her daughter, and perhaps my subconscious curiosity about how this had come about, stuck with me. This woman became Ginny, the 30-something academic who is hosting Thanksgiving for the first time because she has just adopted a girl from India.

Only some of the novel’s characters emerged from people or situations I had witnessed in the real world, but what all of the characters in Strangers at the Feast have in common Is their complicity in the events of the novel – they all play an essential role in the tragedy that strikes. From a simple what if I tried to craft a story that would feel, by the end, utterly inevitable, and would raise a series of haunting moral questions for the reader.

Thanks so much for sharing your discussion "questions" with us, Jennifer. Race, family, poverty, American Dream, justice -- lot of topics to ponder.

Praise for Strangers at the Feast

"Vanderbes has written an absorbing and suspenseful story about the dynamics of family, generational misunderstandings, and the desperate ways one copes with both the arbitrariness of fate and the consequences of one's choices." --Library Journal (starred review)

Jennifer Vanderbes is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship. Her debut novel, Easter Island, was translated into sixteen languages, and her essays and reviews appear in The New York Times and Washington Post. She lives in New York City.

Check Jennifer's website for more info!

Barbara's picture

Southern Festival of Books: National Reading Group Month Signature Event

I'm off this Thursday for the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. Once again, I will be attending the signature event for the National Reading Group Month. This is always great fun.

The author panel will be held at a breakfast on Saturday, October 9.

The authors on the panel are:

Melanie Benjamin, Alice I Have Been, Tom Franklin,Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Sena Jeter Naslund, Adam & Eve
Helen Simonson, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Lee Smith, Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger

I'll write the juicy details when I get back.

Any one in Nashville? Come on down!

Barbara's picture

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Sept 24-26

Held in Datonya Sept. 24-26, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance was great, as usual. The people, the panels, the publishers -- the 3 Ps. I chatted with friends from my days of an indie bookseller, met up with new friends (bloggers), and discovered great authors.

I moderated a book club panel with 3 awesome panelists. Joshilyn Jackson write gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, and The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. Backseat Saints is Joshilyn new novel. Katie Crouch is the author of Men and Dogs and Girls in Trucks. Aaron Curtis is a buyer for Book and Books in Coral Gables. He belongs to the book club Page Against the Machine, which recently added a London off-shoot called Page Against the Regime.

The panel included the audience (all booksellers) to discuss their outreach that worked and didn't work in bringing book club community to their stores. Everyone walked away with new ideas.

Besides meeting and chatting with Joshilyn and Katie (both wonderful and funny women), I met Susan Greg Gilmore, author of The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Susan is lovely and so upbeat -- watch out for her!

Bravo to Wanda Jewell, the director of SIBA -- she did it again. She is awesome.

Barbara's picture

Reading Group Choices 2011: Selections for Lively Book Discussions

Well, it's official -- Reading Group Choices 2011: Selections for Lively Book Discussions is released!

Reading Group Choices 2011Titles by such reading group favorite authors as Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Hood, Anchee Min, Jane Green, Susan Richards, and Alexander McCall Smith, as well as, work from debut authors (including Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter) have been selected for inclusion in Reading Group Choices 2011.

October is the trifecta for the reading group/book club community. Reading Group Choices 2011 is out, National Reading Group Month (NRGM) is here, and The Beverly Hills Literary Escape, the new VIP book club experience, will be held on October 22-24.

I'm proud to be a partner with the exciting Beverly Hills Literary Escape and with NRGM.

It is all about reading groups! Yeah!

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