Top Ten Book Club Picks

I’ll admit, I’ve never been good about attending a book group. But I usually follow along, reading each selection in the quiet of my own home. So I’ve never before offered recommendations. If I did, however, I would look for books that have a lot of complexity, so that there will be many angles to approach a discussion about the book. They also have to be memorable–the kind of books you can’t stop thinking about long after you’ve put them down.

“Faith” by Jennifer Haigh

Late in life—long after their tumultuous childhoods—Art Breen and Sheila McGann became friends. As half-siblings, they were separated by more than a decade, and their different paths in life sometimes seemed like an unbridgeable gulf.

National Book Critics Circle Awards

I don’t usually pay a great deal of attention to awards, but there are a few that usually fall in line with my tastes; the Orange Prize is one, and the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) awards are another. When an award is successful, it serves as an introduction to a previously unknown but soon-to-be-beloved author. I end up reading not only her award-winning title, but also her backlist. The shortlist of books published in 2011 was released recently, and more than []

In My Mailbox: Sebastian Junger, Dave Eggers, Ann Patchett, and More!

Books in This Episode War by Sebastian Junger (Jack’s review) What Is the What by Dave Eggers Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell Bel Canto by Ann Patchett In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson The Mirage by Matt Ruff I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell []

“Unnatural Selection” by Mara Hvistendahl

Mara Hvistendahl’s Unnatural Selection examines the issue of sex selective abortion. The book outlines how a combination of the increasing availability of abortions and ultrasound technology and a strong cultural and individual preference for boys has contributed to a staggering deficit of 160 million women and girls.

Top Ten Books About Writing

I’m beginning another nonfiction writing class this week, so my mind is occupied with books about writing right now. Whether you read them cover to cover or simply flip through the pages in search of inspiration, the following books are very valuable tools for writers.

Reading Challenges in 2012

Despite not getting much reading done this weekend, I’m still excited to share with you the reading challenges in which I will participate this year. After all, ’tis the season to make promises that this year will be different–this year will be better!

Top Ten Authors of Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Legends

This week, I’d like to introduce you to some of the best authors I’ve found who analyze or write fairy tales, folk tales, and legends. I’ve mentioned before how much I love this genre; my college classes on fairy tales, legends, and mythology had a great impact upon the way I read and think about stories. Think of this as primer to the genre, albeit a subjective one; I’m certain I’m forgetting some great writers, and I’m sure there are many I haven’t yet discovered.

In My Mailbox: Joan Didion, Chris Baty, and Rebecca Skloot

Books in This Episode No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty Blue Nights by Joan Didion Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating by Christine Brennan Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction by Joan Didion The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Hemingway by Kenneth Schuyler Lynn []

“Before They Are Hanged” by Joe Abercrombie

Before They Are Hanged, the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, takes off right where The Blade Itself left off. Glokta, the crippled torturer with a sense of humor as sharp as his tools, has been promoted within the Inquisition. His new post in the besieged city of Dagoska brings him dangerously close to his old friends, the Gurkish—the enemies to the South who introduced Glokta to the torturing biz years before.

December 2011 in Review

December was a good month for me. Thankfully, I had time off to relax, which of course means I was able to read and review several great books. I’m feeling rejuvenated heading into a new year; I’m confident 2012 will be even better!

Subscription Saturday: Poets & Writers

I’ve had a subscription to Poets & Writers for a few months, and I highly recommend a subscription for amateur and professional wordsmiths alike. Each issue is devoted to an important part of being a writer: finding a literary agent, choosing an MFA program, establishing a writing community, staying passionate and inspired.

“The Blade Itself” by Joe Abercrombie

The Northmen have invaded Angland. The northernmost territory of the Union, a kingdom similar to Europe (or perhaps just a larger England), Angland has served as a tenuous barrier between the civilized Union and the wild tribes of the North, now held loosely under the control of Bethod, their self-proclaimed King.