Talking About Books . . .

Each year millions of books are given to people who would not normally have access to them due to their financial situation or because they are not accessible.  In the U. S. World Book Night (WBN) will be April 23rd.  The WBN site gives a good description of how it works:

“Each year, 30 books are chosen by an independent panel of librarians and booksellers. The authors of the books waive their royalties and the publishers agree to pay the costs of producing the specially-printed World Book Night U.S. editions. Bookstores and libraries sign up to be community host locations for the volunteer book givers.  After the book titles are announced, members of the public apply to personally hand out 20 copies of a particular title in their community. World Book Night U.S. vets the applications, and the givers are chosen based on their ability to reach light and non-readers. The selected givers choose a local participating bookstore or library from which to pick up the 20 copies of their book, and World Book Night U.S. delivers the books to these host locations.  Givers pick up their books in the week before World Book Night.  On April 23rd, they give their books to those who don’t regularly read and/or people who don’t normally have access to printed books, for reasons of means or access.”

For more information go to the WBN website.

Below is a list of the 30 books that will be given away this year.

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  • The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
  • Devil in a Blue Dress by WalterMosley
  • Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
  • Population 485 by Michael Perry
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Montana Sky by Nora Roberts
  • Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • Favorite American Poems (large print edition)

_ _ _

On April 19th The Los Angeles Times will hold a ceremony to announce the winners of its book prizes for the best books of 2012.   In addition, Margaret Atwood will receive the 2012 Innovator’s Award, and Kevin Starr will receive the 2012 Kirsch Award.  The nominated books are listed here by category.

_ _ _

“I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think – and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.”  So wrote Sofia Tolstoy about life with her husband the great writer Leo Tolstoy.  The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy, translated from the Russian by Cathy Porter, tells us more, perhaps, than we can be comfortable with about life with an overbearing, egomaniacal genius.  Leo Tolstoy became a religious fanatic and guru who believed in celibacy even in marriage.  That, however, did not stop him and Sofia from having 13 children.  The story of their life together ends tragically when Tolstoy runs away from home at the age of 82 and dies from pneumonia 10 days later.  Sofia was kept from seeing him before he died by his disciples.  The 2009 film The Last Station, which stars Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren, gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of their lives together beginning shortly before his death.  You can read a review of the book here and read an interesting story about how a Canadian university gained the rights to publish it here.

The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy

A new book, The Wives: The Women behind Russia’s Literary Giants by Alexandra Popoff, tells us about Sofia and five other wives of Russian authors.   The common thread throughout the book is the self-sacrifice of all six women in order to enhance the careers of their husbands – in some cases even after their husbands had died.  You can read a review of the book here, as well as a short interview that Popoff did with Natalia Solzhenitsyn.

The Wives

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Independent book stores are on their way out, right?  Well, maybe not.  Despite the competition from big chains like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, steep discounting by Amazon, and the brisk sales of e-books, there is still a resilience that confounds some doomsday forecasters.  Not only are independent bookstores hanging on, new ones are popping up everywhere.  Why?  An article in the Christian Science Monitor gives us some of the answers.

_ _ _ is buys  Now why would they do that?  An All Things Considered segment on NPR gives us some possible reasons.  You can either read or listen to the report by Lynn Neary.

_ _ _

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the face at point-blank range because she dared to defy the Taliban, will soon publish a memoir.  You may remember that she was shot because she was very outspoken in her belief that girls should receive educations just like boys.  An article and a New York Times documentary on this amazing young lady can be accessed here.

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Publisher’s Weekly just completed a Great American Novel poll.  See the book rankings here, and read about the “lessons learned” here.

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