Barbara's picture

Adriana Trigiani Wins RUSA Award!

Adriana Trigiana wins the RUSA Award for genre fiction in the women's fiction category at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. She wins and immediately calls her mother, a librarian. What a hoot!


Barbara's picture

Sensitive and Graceful -- The Spare Room

With all the praise and awards, I can't wait to read The Spare Room.

"A powerful, witty, and taut novel about a complex friendship between two women—one dying, the other called to care for her—from an internationally acclaimed and award-winning author.

How much of ourselves must we give up to help a friend in need? Helen has little idea what lies ahead—and what strength she must muster—when she offers her spare room to an old friend, Nicola, who has arrived in the city for cancer treatment. Skeptical of the medical establishment, and placing all her faith in an alternative health center, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice Helen offers.

In the weeks that follow, Nicola’s battle for survival will turn not only her own life upside down but also those of everyone around her.

The Spare Room is a magical gem of a book—gripping, moving, and unexpectedly funny—that packs a huge punch, charting a friendship as it is tested by the threat of death." (Publisher description)

 Some glowing praise

The Spare Room is a perfect novel, imbued with all Garner’s usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heart-breaking territory—the dying friend who comes to stay—and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book.”—Peter Carey

“I very much admire The Spare Room.  It’s cleanly-written, sharp, with the authority of lived experience but an artist’s penetration of the issues. It provides a portrait very hard to erase, of a child’s ego trapped in a failing and ageing body, and it raises uncomfortable questions: what are the limits of friendship? Who will care for a generation that thought it would never get old?”—Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall, Beyond Black and Giving Up the Ghost

How does one figure what is important in our lives? Friendship, loss, death, love -- one for book groups, a modern classic. 

Look -- it is paperback in February! Try it out. I know I will.

Barbara's picture

Put Your British On!

There are lots of book challenges hosted by book bloggers. I read for work or I work to read or my work is to read -- whatever. So, I can't participate in very many of them, though I wish I could do all.

But I have to do this one --Typically British Challenge hosted by Book Chick City! Besides my immediate family, all of my relatives live in England -- my parents came across the pond in the 50s. Hey, I'm a first generation American!  

Here's the scoop on the Typically British Challenge 2010.

Timeline: 1st Jan 2010- 31st Dec 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.  

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.

2. There are four levels for reading:


 • "Put The Kettle On" – 2 Typically British novels.
 • "Gordon Bennett" – 4 Typically British novels.
 • "Bob's Your Uncle" – 6 Typically British novels.
 • "Cream Crackered" – 8 Typically British novels.

3. Any book format counts. Must be fiction.

4. You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. Also if you do list them upfront then you can change them, nothing is set in stone!

5. The books you choose can crossover into other challenges.

6. If you decide to participate in this challenge please use the link I have set up below with the button to post on your sidebar, this way others can find their way back to this post and join in the fun.

7. If you decide to join this challenge be sure to create a post telling others, please make sure you add a link back to this post so others can join in.

8. There will be a place for you to link your reviews, but this is optional.

9. Obviously only British authors count! 

I'm trying to do "Bob's Your Uncle" level.

First title -- The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. heard this was a very fun story about the Queen becoming a voracious reader.

Put your cardigan on, have a cuppa, and start reading! 


Barbara's picture

Flap Copy -- Important to You?

(Booking Through Thursdays is hosted at the BTT blog).

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question (suggested by Prairie Progressive) asks:

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

I always read flaps and author bio and other books by author in front of book.
Though the flap copy for one author's books does not advertised the "real story”. bought it but didn’t know I was in for a really racy novel — no idea from the flap copy!! Buyer beware:)

Did you read the flap copy?

Barbara's picture

Edwidge Danticat Speaks of Haiti and the Earthquake

Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I'm Dying, an Reading Group Choices selection, talks about the Haiti, the history of the country, and the devastating earthquake in Democracy Now, a daily TV/radio news program . As of yesterday, she has had no word from her family who lives in Port-au-Prince. Good thoughts for all in Haiti and their families, worldwide.

Edwidge recommends Partners in Health and the American Red Cross for those who want to help.

Barbara's picture

Conversation and Tea with Adriana Trigiani

Tea with The Adriana -- what fun! Adriana Trigiani is just like her books -- fun, interesting, passionate, and real. Five LUCKY bloggers will share laughter and conversation with Adriana on May 27 at Alice's Tea Room in NYC . Please see TLC BookTours for detailed info.

A contest to see Adriana and now a GIVEAWAY to read Adriana! You don't have to be a blogger to win this prize. I have 5 copies of the paperback, Very Valentine, to give away. Please leave a comment and you will be entered to win. How easy is that?

Very Valentine tells the story of Valentine Roncalli, a thirty-three year old, who is struggling to bring her family's Greenwich Village shoe business out of financial distress while dealing with her family's personal dynamics, a trip to Italy to learn more about the shoe business, and her new chef-boyfriend, Roman Falconi. Filled with ups and downs, secrets, love, lost, and humor, Very Valentine is a treat for reading groups that want a great read full of characters with real life issues. Adriana fills the story with such a sense of place and love of Greenwich Village. The paperback even has recipes to help your book discussion, especially Teodaro's Limoncello. Lemons, vodka, and a big mason jar. What a hoot! 

And, Adriana's new book, Brava, Valentine, will be released February 9. Yea! More of Valentine Roncalli and her family's hi-jinks with a touching and humorous wink at life's lessons. 

Have you read any Adriana's books? Let me know and you will be entered in the Very Valentine giveaway! (sssh -- I'll be giving away Brava, Valentine next month!)


Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 1/12 Cutting for Stone

Here's my teaser for Tuesday. Cutting for Stone is our book club choice for January. great themes for reading groups -- culture issues, betrayal, exile, love, family dynamics, healing. Halfway through the book and the meeting is Monday. Read, read, read!

"Perhaps the adults believed the Shiva, my busy, industrious brother, was naturally parsimonious with his words. If the sound of the anklet which he insisted on wearing counted as speech, then Shiva was a terrible chatterbox, only silent when he muffled the tiny bells under his sock for school."

Cutting for Stone by Abrahan Verghese

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

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page in the comment section. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Tell me your teaser.


Barbara's picture

Some Old Friends

Can't decide what book to pick for your discussion? Try some oldies and goodies!

Thanks to Book Club Girl for inviting Kenneth Davis author of the bestselling Don't Know Much About Series, to recommend an entire year's worth of contempory and, some classic, book club picks. I'm thrilled that Kenneth suggested one of my favorite Christmas choices -- The Christmas Memory by Truman Capote.

Find out Kenneth's entire list on Book Club Girl.

Did you suggest an oldie and goodie for your group? Let others know how the conversation went!

Barbara's picture

Favorite Discussible Books of 2009

It's one-of-a-kind: a list of favorite DISCUSSIBLE books for book groups!

Though there are many lists of books and many book awards, not all of the books on them make for the kind of lively, fun, interesting, thought-provoking, unforgettable discussions that reading groups crave.

Well, here's your chance - join with thousands of other book group members in voting for the books did all that for your group in 2009. Reading Group Choices will compile and publish the list for you, and let you know how it compares to those chosen in previous surveys.

How do you choose books to discuss?  Does your group invite authors to participate? What do you and your group think of the e-books? The survey is up and waiting for these answers!

And when you complete the short survey, Reading Group Choices will enter your name into a random drawing for $75 to cater your next get-together!

Here's the Top Ten for 2008!

Take the survey and you might win $75!

Barbara's picture

Robert's Reflections: Movies for Reading Groups

Everyone has a mentor -- whether it is a family member, teacher, boss, fellow colleague. Robert Segedy, veteran bookseller, was/is mine. His knowledge and experience of the book world has assisting me though my bookseller days and beyond. Robert is also a movie buff and has offered to write some recommendations for movies that are true to the book and are great for conversation with the book. Robert's Movie Recommendations will be a frequent feature. Here is one of them. Thanks so much, Robert!

The usual consensus on which is better, the book or the film, usually has the book winning hands down, and for the most part I must concur. However, lately I have been thinking about this subject and I have found myself making mental lists of all the exceptions. Just off the top of my head there's To Kill A Mockingbird, In Cold Blood, House of Sand and Fog, No Country for Old Men, The Maltese Falcon, and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. I must confess that I am an avid movie viewer and my Netflix queue is always overflowing, but I am also a relentless reader, so it is rather easy for me to come up with an abundant list of choices.

I had always wanted to merge this idea of film and source, and believe that it could make for some interesting bookclub discussions. When many people think of this topic, they automatically think of some of the more successful box office blockbusters, such as Jaws by Peter Benchley, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, and so forth. A few of these films are just as good as the novel, if not better. Stephen King is a veritable never-ending source of material for Hollywood (check out his book, Different Seasons -- out of the four novellas presented, three were made into very successful films).

Many mystery writers have seen successful conversions of their work onto the screen, most recently Dennis Lehane, James Elroy and Richard Price. However, none of this is startling news -- Hollywood has been taking the printed word and translating it to hit films since the start of cinema, and even serious literary writers such as Fitzgerald and Faulkner have been known to lend their talents to the dream factory.

For every successful adaption of a great novel, there are any number of terrible films that did not come close to any of the greatness that the book invoked.

Fortunately, the mind's own ability to absorb the written word and create our own mental movies is so much more talented than any number of Hollywood's efforts.

What I am searching for is a film that somehow pulls off the impossible -- a film that captures the true essence of the book, a film that can come close to matching the images that I have created in my mind directly due to the author's storytelling skills.  Some films succeed through the actor's portrayal of the character that they are playing, others are due to the director's vision, the style of the film, the cinematography, the lighting -- all of these elements are crucial in producing a film that delivers everything that the novel induced in me.

So what books/films do I consider enticing enough to venture that a bookclub may be persuaded to do a compare and contrast? Here is a selection of my favorites that I can easily endorse for both their literary value but also for their success in meeting some of the standards that I have explained earlier. Hopefully, the films that I have chosen will make a good jumping off point for your groups' own efforts.

wise bloodWise Blood by Flannery O'Connor.

Written by one of my favorite writers, this unforgettable novel was uncannily brought to life by filmmaker John Houston.

Brad Dourif, in a searing performance as Hazel Motes, returns home from the war only to find his family has deserted him. As Motes finds his way in the big city he encounters an bizarre array of misfits; Harry Dean Stanton as Asa Hawks, the false preacher, Dan Shor is Enoch Emory, a boy with wise blood, and Amy Wright as Sabbath Lily, Hawks seductive daughter. In a moment of inspiration, Motes decides to form the "Church of Christ without Christ" where "the deaf don't hear, the blind don't see, the lame don't walk, the dumb don't talk, and the dead stay that way,"

Houston mesmerizingly captures O'Connor's Southern Gothic masterpiece. Truly a  mind-bending experience.

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