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2010 Indies Choice Book Awards

The American Booksellers Association announced the winners of the 2010 Indies Choice Book Awards, reflecting the spirit of independent bookstores nationwide and the IndieBound movement. I love independent bookstores -- worked in one in Colorada and two in North Carolina.

This year's winners were chosen by the owners and staff at ABA member stores nationwide in more than four weeks of voting.



2010 Book of the Year Winners

Adult Fiction: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Adult Nonfiction: The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Adult Debut: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Young Adult: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Middle Reader: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
New Picture Book: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Kate DiCamillo was voted Most Engaging Author both for being an in-store star and for having a strong sense of the importance of indie booksellers to their local communities.

Five Honor Award recipients were also named in each category, except Picture Book Hall of Fame.

Adult Fiction Honor Awards

Border Songs by Jim Lynch
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Adult Nonfiction Honor Awards

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr
Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
When Everything Changed by Gail Collins

Adult Debut Honor Awards

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan
The Piano Teacher by Y.K. Lee
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Tinkers by Paul Harding

Young Adult Honor Awards

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (illus.)
Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Most Engaging Author Honor Awards recipients:

Isabel Allende
Laurie Halse Anderson
Libba Bray
Michael Chabon
Abraham Verghese

Congratulations to all authors!

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Friday Finds 4/16/2010

What did you discover this week?

Friday Finds

Friday Finds hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.


My finds this week!

Particular SadnessThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. (June 2010)



The Astronomer by Lawrence Goldstone (May 2010)



Father of the Rain by Lily King (July 2010)



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Fiction Reading Group Picks from Quail Ridge Books & Music

I just got back from the Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, NC. Two Book Club Bashes -- what fun! Nancy Olson, the owner, and her crack staff have two book clubs events discussing their book club picks of the season. Wine and cheese are provided at the night event and coffee and doughnuts at the morning event. At the end of the programs, book clubs members talked abot some of their selections of the past year -- some good and some  not so good. Over 100 reading group members at each program -- got to love that. Great food, great books, and great conversation.

Favorite PicksThe staff had excellent choices! Here are the fiction reading group picks.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. A big, beautitul, ambitious novel set in Ethiopia and the world of a mission hospital. History, politics, medicine (lots of medicine) and several love stories are combined skillfully in this epic story. The plot follows the lives of twin boys, Shiva and Marion, at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa. Some of the medical scenes are easily as exciting as a James Bond car chase.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. An innocent love between a young Chinese American and a Japanese American that begins in pre-war Seattle, transcends the prejudices the Old World and drives them to make promises to each other to help them get through the intemment.

Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling. A fictional account of the Nazis' theft of art from the homes and galleries of Paris.

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan. O'Nan takes us gracefully and thoughfully into the worlds of a missing child's family, friends and community. He dwells much less on gief than on the ways in which people's relationships and senses of themselves are affected.

The Spare Room by Helen Gamer. A long-time friendship between two elderly women is sorely tested when one is sticken with cancer and comes to stay with her friend while she receives altemative treatment at a clinic. As the visit lengthens and the clinic is revealed to use questionable methods, the hostess' patienceand hospitality wear thin, causing her to doubt her ability to care for someone in such denial. Short and powerful.

The Sweet In-Between by Sheri Reynolds. Kenny Lugo is approaching her l8th birthday with more than usual coming-of-age stress. Her dad's in prison, she's struggling over her sexual identity and self-worth, and she's being raised by her dad's girlfriend. Once the government support checks stop, will all that Kenny knows of family also end? Sheri Reynolds finds nuggets of humanity in some of the roughest-around-the-edges characters.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Take four adult children and their eccentric mother, and put them together for seven days in one house while they sit Shiva for their father. This darkly comic novel brilliantly explores the complexity of relationships and the power of the past to rule the present.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. A brilliant, literary page-turner in which a wife and mother writes a series of compelling and introspective letters to her estranged husband dissecting her married life and her mothering of son Kevin ard daughter Celia in the aftermath of Kevin's Columbine-ike slaying of nine people in his high school. Guaranteed to provoke meaningful discussion.

I will post QR's nonfiction and YA titles in a later post.

Thanks to all at QR and the awesome reading groups in the Raleigh area.  

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Rebecca Wells Says Ya-Ya to Reading Groups!

I'm so excited to welcome Rebecca Wells to On the Bookcase! 

Calla Lily PonderThe Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, Rebecca's new paperback, is on sale today! Rebecca's previous novels, Little Altars Everyone, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and Ya-Yas in Bloom are still hits with reading groups.

Read Rebecca's thoughts on reading groups and the passionate way they keep the joy of reading alive! 

Rebecca WellsGetting together with other like-minded souls to share a love of any particular “thing” makes enjoying that pastime all the more meaningful, and when that “thing” is a love of reading good books, there are so many wonderful opportunities. Readers are rare and special people, most of whom cannot fathom a life without books to savor and share with others. It’s gratifying for authors to know that their work is discussed and shared, as books are passed hand-to-hand, reader-to-reader. No book recommendation is as appreciated by a reader as one that comes from a trusted friend.

The grass-roots movement that carried Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood from its quiet beginnings to a New York Times bestseller in the late 1990s is a testament to the power that reading groups hold in their hands. It is in the sharing with others that a book comes to life.  When I talk with book groups about my books, I am always surprised and delighted by the questions I get. In speaking with a group about Calla Lily, I am often asked where I get my ideas. How much comes strictly from the imagination and how much comes from people and places I've seen and known. The conversation that is generated in book groups makes an author’s book grow and live in ways beyond any we could ever have imagined. The gratitude that I have in my heart for those who read, respond to, and share my work simply cannot be measured.

The Internet has changed everything about the way we communicate and the way we commune with one another. Your best friend and closest confidante just might be someone that you’ve never met in “real life.” The weekly book meeting that you won’t miss for anything could be held in an online chat room rather than at the library or bookstore. No matter where or how you come together with fellow readers, the magic happens, stories are shared and “you just have to read this” is spoken over and over again by passionate people who gobble up the written word like ice cream on a hot summer day.

I say “Ya-Ya!” to those who keep the art of reading alive and pulsating with energy and passion. It is because of you that writers everywhere keep doing what they do.
84,000 blessings,




Happy Mothers' Day Video



  Rebecca has helped women name, claim, and celebrate their shared sisterhood for over a decade. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder continues the celebration!

Thanks so much, Rebecca, for giving us your books to enjoy, discuss, and gobble up "like ice cream on a hot summer day!"

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Friday Finds -- Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory by Brad Hooper


Friday FindsFriday Finds is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading.



Writing ReviewsI just receive a book called Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory by Brad Hoover. I read about in Book Group Buzz and it seems interesting and probably a book I can use for my job working with reading groups. Brad is the Adult Books Editor at Booklist so he knows his stuff! His book is basically for Readers' Advisory librarians but I know anyone working with books will get many ideas from Brad's book. I'm anxious to read it!

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One Book, One Twitter

About a month ago, Jeff Howe, the mind  behind the crowdsourcing phenomenon, announced a new project called “One Book, One Twitter”. The program aims to have the world read a book together and discuss it online.  “One Book, One Twitter,” is a book club for everyone, powered by the Internet. Participants are invited to tweet their thoughts on the yet-to-be-determined title. What a cool idea!

The winning finalists (voted by twitter followers) are

  1.  American Gods
  2.  Fahrenheit 451
  3. 1984
  4.  Brave New World
  5.  Slaughterhouse Five
  6.  Catch-22

 Four “judges choice” books will be announced later this week to round out the list to make ten finalists. Anyone can vote on which book will ultimately be the one the world will read.

The point of this—to the extent it has a point beyond good fun with a good book—is to create community across geographical, cultural, ethnic, economic, and social boundaries. The winning book selection  needs to be of general interest. It needs to be translated into many, many languages, and ideally it should be freely available.

I will follow Jeff and see what the winner is, and read the book. On Twitter the hashtag for One Book One Twitter is #1b1t and you can follow Jeff on twitter, @crowdsourcing

Voting starts to pick the winner on April 12. Join the world conversation!

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Listen Up Reading Groups! Giveaway of Audiobooks for June Meeting

June is Audiobook Month! Last chance for your reading group to receive audiobooks for all your members for your June meeting. PLUS an author, narrator, or producer chat!

Audiobooks can enhance your discussion. How well does the narrator "fit" the characters' personas? How did the choices of male vs female narrator affect your listening experience? Were accents and different tones used effectively?

Enter if your club can discuss an audiobook in June. Happy Listening!

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Teaser Tuesday 4/6 The Nobodies Album by Carolyln Parkhurst

Teaser Tuesday hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading

Teaser TuesdaysI just started reading The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. Parkhurst wrote The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, really great selections for reading groups. My teaser for today will be the first paragraph. A little long that normal but awfully good!

Nobodies Album"There are some stories no one wants to hear. Some stories, once told, won't let you go so easily. I'm not talking about the tedious, the pointless, the disgusting: the bugs in your bag of flour; your hour on the phone with insurance people; the unexplained blood in your urine. I'm talking about narratives of tragedy and pathos so painful, so compelling, that they seem to catch inside you on a tiny hook you didn't even know you'd hung. You wish for a way to pull the story back out; you grow resentful of the very breath that pushed those words into the air. Stories like this have become a specialy of mine."  -- The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst (Release Date, June 2010)

Now, that's a teaser! Anyone can play. What's yours?

  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
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Top Ten Discussible Books of 2009

Favorite Discussible BooksReading Group Choices Survey

Top Book Group Favorites of 2009   

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam Adult)

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Dial Press)

3. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (Ballantine Books)

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout  (Random House Trade Paperbacks)

6. TIE: Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Pocket Books) and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (St. Martin's Griffin)

7. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin Books)

8. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Penguin Books)

9. The Shack by William P. Young (Windblown Media)

10. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper Paperbacks)

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Elise Blackwell, Author of An Unfinished Score, chats about Book Clubs, Marriage, and Inspiration

An Unfinished ScoreI'm excited to welcome Elise Blackwell, author of An Unfinished Score. In Elise's fourth novel, she tells a story of marriage, music, infidelity, friendship, betrayal, and loss. Suzanne, a concert violist, finds out her illicit lover, a renowned conductor, has died. Suzanne grieves silently. But his widow knows about the affair and blackmails her into finishing his last composition. Elise intertwines music and her lyrical prose taking the reader through the emotional challenges to the unexpected end. NO SPOILERS -- you have to read it to the end!

Elise chats about reading group questions, marriage, and the inspiration for
An Unfinished Score. Thanks so much, Elise, for writing this post for On the Bookcase!

Elise BlackwellWhen I visit book clubs, a question that comes up more often than not is “what’s it like to be a writer married to another writer?” Often lurking under the question is the assumption that it must be awful. Portrayals of writers (and their marriages) in movies such as The Squid and the Whale don’t help. We’re reputed to be narcissistic, difficult, childish, and prone to philandering. I recently laughed as hard at anyone with the online literary journal HTML Giant posted a piece titled “Reasons You Should Not Date Writer (if you are a writer),” including, of course, “You will be poor.” Some of the items on the list were amusing because they rang at least a little true: “Writing is not mysterious to writers, so they will not romanticize, mythologize, or idealize what you do” and “Critiquing each other’s work … may result in the laying of emotional landmines.” I still remember my husband’s initial response to a draft of my first novel: “You write very clearly.” Talk about damning with faint praise!

But mostly it works very well, and several other writers who are also married to writers confirm the positives. Who else would understand that you might want to spend a gorgeous Saturday inside, alone, pecking at your computer because you’ve just had a plot breakthrough? (Having dated non-writers before I met my husband, I’m sure the answer is “hardly anyone.”) Another writer understands the compulsion, as well as the ups and downs—why it’s important to celebrate a book acceptance the day it happens and how bad certain rejection letters feel.

Some items on that seven-point list of reasons not to date writers weren’t funny, suggesting serious relationship problems welling from ego, competition, and staking out the same autobiographical material. I feel lucky in this regard: my husband’s ego is both modest and solid, we’ve been in the writing life together from the beginning and genuinely celebrate each other’s successes, and neither of us write fiction that is autobiographical. That’s not always the case; I know enough writers to have seen the dark side of writerly marriage.

And so when I sat down to write a novel about two musicians married to each other, I pondered both the advantages and the potential emotional wreckage of a marriage between two people committed foremost to the same art form. What if they didn’t always admire each other’s work? What if they brought out each other’s professional insecurities? What if one was more successful in some ways but not others? What havoc might their travel schedules wreak? Might professional and personal jealousies ever blend? Can you betray your spouse with your creative work?

An Unfinished Score is about a lot of things, including how to make a life of art in a contemporary world defined by box stores and rapid-fire news and social media. Most of all, though, it’s about relationships between people. It’s about relationships among women as both friends and competitors. It’s about relationships between men and women. It’s a portrait of romantic love and of marriage, complicated by the fact that all the players love music a little more than each other. 

Elise's other books are The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, Grub, and Hunger. Visit Elise's website!

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