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Teaser Tuesday September 21: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Teaser 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!

I love anything by Dennis Lehane so I was thrilled to receive an ARC of his latest. Awesome so far!


Moonlight Mile

"Her shell is made of quiet fury and wary disconnection. Mine is made of humor and sarcasm. Together we resemble a comedian failing an anger-management class." -- Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane, p. 54 ARC. Released November 2

What are you reading today? Do tell.

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National Reading Group Month 2010 Great Group Reads


October is National Reading Group Month (NRGM) and the NRGM 2010 Great Group Reads have been selected.

Great Group ReadsThirteen titles have been picked this year. The selections were based on  their appeal to reading groups -- discussible books that deal with difficult personal choices, cultural and social issues, controversial topics, intriguing characters, interesting plots, and stories that may be revelant to the readers' lives. Also, books which perhaps have flown under the radar of reading groups overwhelmed by the number of new releases each year.

Blame By Michelle Huneven

The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle

Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky byHeidi W. Durrow

Little Bee by Chris Cleve

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Molly Fox's Birthday by Deidre Madden

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Room by Emma Donoghue

Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye

Up from the Blue by Susan Henderson

Get your group on and start the conversation!


National Reading Group Month celebrates shared reading by promoting reading groups. “People are reading less and less for pleasure, yet month in and month out, thousands of groups nationwide gather to discuss the latest and to revisit older titles,” observed Jill Tardiff, chair of the National Reading Group Month, an initiative of the Women's National Book Association.

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Man Booker Prize Part Six: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

Man Booker Prize Part Six
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

The Finkler Question'He should have seen it coming. His life had been one mishap after another. So he should have been prepared for this one…’ 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.

The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion
and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious,
unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.


"Jacobson cunningly crafts sublime pathos from comedy and vice versa. As such, he is the literary equivalent of Tony Hancock, illuminating the conflict, anger, love and dependence created by friendship while wincing at the ignominy and absurdity of the characters' predicament. Jacobson's prose is a seamless roll of blissfully melancholic interludes. Almost every page has a quotable, memorable line." -- Christian House, The Independent on Sunday

"The opening chapters of this novel boast some of the wittiest, most poignant and sharply intelligent comic prose in the English language, as though the writer, like his characters, is caught up in a whirlwind courtship (of each other, of the reader, of the idea of the preciousness of now in the teeth of time's passing). Jacobson's brilliance thrives on the risk of riding death to a photo-finish, of writing for broke. Exhilaration all the way." -- Tom Adair, The Scotsman

An award-winning writer and broadcaster, Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and was educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His novels include The Mighty Walzer (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Kalooki Nights (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize) and, most recently, the highly acclaimed The Act of Love. Howard Jacobson lives in London.

Reading group discussion alert -- identity, relationships, religion, cultural issues

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Man Booker Prize Part Five: In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut

Man Booker Prize Part Five
In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut

In a Strange RoomA novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, In a Strange Room is a hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man’s search for love and for a place to call home.

A young man makes three journeys that take him through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way – including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge – he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man’s best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his life.


"I doubt if any book in 2010 will contain more memorable evocations of place than In a Strange Room... Humour is not Galgut's strong point, not even black humour, and there is a kind of nihilism to the book's philosophy ... Oddly enough, though, In A Strange Room has left me with a soothing sense of serenity. It is a very beautiful book for one thing, strikingly conceived and hauntingly written, a writer's novel par excellence without a clumsy word in it. But perhaps even more important, constantly through the sadnesses and the pathos, the disappointments and the disillusionments, kindness shines." -- Jan Morris, The Guardian

"Superb… Galgut is hardly an unknown quantity … But with this new book he has struck out in a new direction and taken his writing to a whole other level. It is a quite astonishing work." -- William Skidelsky, The Observer

Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. His other books include Small Circle of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor, published in 2OO3, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award and was published in eighteen countries. Damon Galgut lives in Cape Town.

Reading group discussion alert -- relationships, travel, identity, culture, sense of place.

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2010 Man Booker Shortlist

Man Booker PrizeI'd better step-up my game. The shortlist has been announced for the Man Booker Prize is:



Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey (Knopf)
Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown)
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books)
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury UK)
The Long Song by Andrea Levy (FSG)
C by Tom McCarthy (Knopf)

The winner will be announced October 12.

Number Five in the ON THE BOOKCASE series will be In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut.

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September Reading Group Choices

September reading group choices are up! Pick your next book for your group. 

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Man Booker Prize Longlist Part Four: Betrayal by Helen Dunmore

Teaser Tuesday and Man Booker Prize Longlist, Part Four

Today's selection

Betrayal by Helen Dunmore

Leningrad in 1952, a city recovering from war. Andrei, a hospital doctor, and Anna, a nursery teacher, are forging a life together. They try to avoid coming to the attention of the authorities, but their private happiness is precarious. Stalin is still in power, and when Andrei has to treat the seriously-ill child of a senior secret police officer, he and Anna are caught  in a web of betrayal.

A gripping and deeply moving portrait of life in post-war Soviet Russia, The Betrayal brilliantly shows the epic struggle of ordinary people to survive in a time of violence and terror.


"Historians have written capably about the horror of Stalin's 1952 "Doctors' Plot", as they have written about the Siege of Leningrad which preceded it. But it takes the skill of a very superior novelist to make the unimaginable real. Dunmore is just such a novelist: brave, tender and with a unique gift for immersing the reader in the taste, smell and fear of a story. Writing like hers reminds us that human life is always more than just a statistic." -- Katy Guest, The Independent

"Unlike The Siege, which was essentially descriptive, The Betrayal relies for its effects on the characters and story Dunmore has made up. Her research is meticulous, and details of the workings of Soviet bureaucracy, hospital life and Leningrad in the 1950s are expertly stitched in... But the novel is not morally complicated. Everyone with whom we are encouraged to sympathise seems beyond reproach." -- Susanna Rustin, The Guardian

Helen Dunmore was born in Yorkshire in 1952. She has published eight novels including: Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002; Mourning Ruby, House of Orphans and Counting the Stars. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and current Chair of the Society of Authors. She lives in Bristol.

Reading Group Alert -- parenting, history, cultural issues, war, relationships.


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Author On the Bookcase: Tanya Egan Gibson, author of How to Buy a Love a Reading

Author On the Bookcase
Tanya Egan Gibson

I met a great writer at the Virginia Festival of the Book last March-- Tanya Egan Gibson, author of How To Buy a Love of Reading. We stay up all night, with Kim Addonizio (awesome poet) solving the world's problems. What happens in Charlottesville stays in Charlottesville!

Tanya Egan GibsonSo, I'm so thrilled to welcome Tanya to On the Bookcase. Tanya's debut novel, How To Buy a Love of Reading tells the story of Carley, a 16 year old girl, who when asked what was her favorite book, answered, "never met one I liked." [I say, "Off with her head!] Her parents are horrified and decide to commission a book to be written just for her. No spoilers here but throughout the "project" Carley begins to understand the importance of stories -- and how they are powerful enough to destroy a person. Or save her. With literary allusions throughout the novel, Tanya reveals her joy of reading. A book with a book -- what a great way to fall in love with literature, again.

Tanya chats about how novels reveal "characters' "insides" first, particularly those of point-of-view characters."

Inside Out, Outside In

Recently, a friend and I discovered that as children both of us had wondered what it would be like to be in someone else's body. Maybe everyone does this?  It's never come up in conversation before for me. I don't mean being another person and having their thoughts and emotions; I'm talking about inhabiting just his or her body--that flesh carrying case for one's heart and brain and soul. Did people get born into the bodies they were *supposed to* have?  Would I still be me in someone else's body? Would I feel mismatched?

I've been intrigued my whole life by the randomness of "looks." Style is something you about which you have choices. (I regard things like cosmetic surgery and sculpting one's body at the gym to be decisions not entirely dissimilar from choosing one's hairstyle and clothing), but about the raw materials behind your "looks" you have none. Symmetrical faces are often considered more conventionally advantageous, as are certain body shapes. Some bodies come into the world with great immune systems, others don't. Not all bodies are born with two arms, two legs, ten fingers, ten toes. And even bodies that do have all of the aforementioned plusses can end up suffering injuries that leave them "deformed" (an odd word, I think, as it implies that there is a specific "form" the body *should* take).

I am less interested in raw materials than how they are manipulated and adorned. That is, when I look at people--and I look a lot, studying what people are wearing and considering the implications of their sartorial choices--I'm struck by style more than genetics.  (Odds are that if you ask me, for instance, "Oh, are you talking about the tall girl?" I won't be able to answer because I won't have noticed if the girl was, indeed, tall.  I will remember, on the other hand, that she was wearing blue and grey, looked good/bad in a fedora, and carried a fur purse that may or may not faux.)

While I'm talking to you for the first time or staring at you in at a party, I'm making you up in my head. And I doubt I'm the only one. There are some hilarious scenes in the movie Date Night where characters played by Tina Fey and Steve Carell do a version of this at restaurants. While it entertains me as a storyteller (and as an admirer of accessories) to guess at people's insides by analyzing their exteriors, I understand how inaccurate my suppositions probably are. There is no possible objectivity in such an exercise: I am filtering "clues" to people's existences through the lens of my values and style--through my own point of view. And I assume other people are filtering me through theirs. How misread am I? How badly have I misread you?

All of which makes me wish, sometimes, that I could meet you in a book.

How to Buy a Love of ReadingPutting my fascination with clothing and guessing-games aside, I love that in novels I get to encounter characters' "insides" first, particularly those of point-of-view characters. Even if, as in the case of my novel How To Buy a Love of Reading, a character's "looks" are an oft-discussed topic (my protagonist, Carley, is very overweight, and her "Golden Boy" best friend, Hunter, looks like he walked out of a Barney's catalogue), readers get to spend far more time hearing characters' thoughts than seeing their bodies. In written fiction, you peer at a character's soul before his or her body.  In fiction we are inside-out.

How To Buy a Love of Reading, I think, was borne in part from these two conflicting impulses: my fascination with people's exteriors, and a wish to "see" (and be seen) beyond them accurately. I ended up inventing a community where almost everyone's appearance belies his or her soul, where insides and outsides never "match": beauty hides sickness, slickness hides depth, coarseness hides sensitivity. Hunter doesn't recognize himself in the mirror because he is still the fat kid inside that he'd been years earlier, an introverted, oversensitive bookworm whose now-gorgeous façade does him more harm than good. Carley feels like she "might maybe be beautiful" underneath her skin. I suppose I've never stopped wondering if some people end up, by accident, in the "wrong" carrying cases, or if, on the other hand, part of the beauty of life is in the unmatching.

Thanks so much, Tanya, for revealing your thoughts about "outside" appearance vs "inside" soul. Great discussion topic for reading groups. 

Praise for How to Buy a Love of Reading

"Brimming with literary allusions, commentary on the rich and famous, and the necessary ingredients for a successful novel, Gibson's ingenious debut succeeds on many levels." —Booklist

Tanya is mother to a five-year-old girl who produces countless construction-paper "books" she insists Mommy "get published" and a two-year-old boy who thinks books are for throwing, and wife to the most patient man in the universe.

Check out Tanya's cool website!

Do you think "the beauty of life is in the unmatching?"

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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas Giveaway Winner

Thanks for the interesting comments on The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas! It was the third in the Man Booker Prize Longlist series. The first was Room by Emma Donoghue and Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey was the second.


The The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas giveaway winner is

                  Ruthie B

Congrats, Ruthie! Thanks to Penguin for the copy.

Stay for for the fourth in the series -- In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut.

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