Archive for the ‘Book Groups’ Category


Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.59.37 AMIt is the rare review that begins with such exuberant praise as “the most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read,” but that is the beginning of Ron Charles’s rave in yesterday’s Washington Post for T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville (HaperCollins/Morrow, Feb. 17; OverDrive Sample), a novel Charles goes on to claim will “shock and disturb” even as Johnson’s “narration has such athleticism that you feel energized just running alongside him — or even several strides behind.”

David L. Ulin of the LA Times shares Charles’s enthusiasm, opening his review with “when was the last time you were shocked by a turn in a novel? Not merely surprised or astonished but actually stunned?” and goes on to call Johnson’s novel “audacious, unpredictable, exuberant and even tragic, in the most classic meaning of the word.”

Welcome to Braggsville is an IndieNext pick for February, with the following recommendation,

“In Welcome to Braggsville, Johnson explores cultural, social, and regional diversity in a world increasingly driven by social media. His satirical and ironic style portrays a UC Berkeley — ‘Berzerkeley’ — student from Georgia who, along with his friends, goes back to his hometown to challenge an annual Southern tradition and inadvertently sets off a chain of events resulting in tragic consequences. Johnson’s creative language play envelops the reader in the Deep South with the impact of a razor-sharp Lynyrd Skynyrd riff.”

Johnson has jumped from a literary nonprofit publisher (Coffee House Press) to HarperCollins with his second novel (after his debut Hold It ‘Til It Hurts, which was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award). For your readers willing to be challenged, lift some quotes from Charles’s review, which also makes it sound like a strong book club candidate.

Read Like Zuckerberg, Book Three

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

glforadayThe next pick in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fast-paced book club is:

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Sudhir Venkatesh (Penguin Press, 2008; HarperCollins Audio; Overdrive Sample)

The book was widely discussed when it was published and hit the extended NYT best seller list for one week in hardcover.  NY Times review.

Previous A Year of Books picks:

The Better Angels of Our NatureWhy Violence Has Declined, Steven Pinker, (Penguin/Viking, 2011)

The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used To Be, Moises Naim, (Perseus/Basic Books, 2013)

NPR Book Club Wraps

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

9780374280604_abe23The new NPR Morning Edition book club wrapped up today with a discussion of the first selection, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample; Oct), picked in December by bookstore owner and author Ann Patchett.

The book, which has hit the lower rungs of the NYT best seller list as a result of the section, is also one of five finalists for the NBCC Nonfiction Award, announced yesterday and  has been made into a movie, titled The 33, starring Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche and Gabriel Byrne. Currently in post-production, the release date has not yet been announced.

The next title in the club will be announced soon; we will let you know when it is.

GalleyChatter: E-Galley Buzz

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

[Note: the following is from our regular GalleyChatter columnist, Robin Beerbower]

Librarian friends on Edelweiss have been busy marking and reviewing hot e-galleys. Below are a few that have interested us the most. I will be writing about new titles rising to the top of TBR piles; if you want to join in, please friend me.

Bees   bees back cover

The March GalleyChat round-up featured The Bees by Laline Paull, (HarperCollins/Ecco, May), and it has since received even more buzz with seven librarians giving it “much love” on Edelweiss. Vicki Nesting said “Every once in a while a book that you never expected captures your imagination.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed this will be a top LibraryReads choice for May (the second image, above, is from the back cover of the book).


A few lucky librarians have received a sweet little drawstring bag marked with a skull and crossbones containing an ARC of Taylor Stevens’ The Catch(RH/Crown, July). Fourth in the popular Vanessa Michael Munroe series, the “informationist” goes to Africa and gets involved with kidnappings and Somali pirates. Might be a good fiction match for Captain Phillips.

It’s been four years since book group favorite Jane Smiley has published an adult book, so it’s no wonder there is high anticipation for her next book Some Luck, (RH/Knopf, October), the first in an epic trilogy featuring a farm family.


On Edelweiss Jen Dayton raved about Lily King’s Euphoria(Grove/Atlantic, June), a novel loosely based on Margaret Mead’s journals, saying “King’s language is as lush as the landscape…” It has received “much love” from five peers and the publisher compares this to Horan’s Loving Frank and McLain’s The Paris Wife.

Last year, I loved Ann Hood’s The Obituary Writer so much that I selected it as a Thorndike Peer Pick. Many of us are excited to see Hood has a new one coming, The Italian Wife (W.W. Norton, Sept.), a multi-generational novel about an Italian family in America. I’ll be watching closely for the e-galley tentatively scheduled for April.

Bone OrchardPaul Doiron’s fifth in the Game Warden Mike Bowditch mysteries, The Bone Orchard, (Macmillan/Minotaur, July), has snagged the interest of a number of Edelweiss friends.

This atmospheric series set in Maine are good for those who like C. J. Box and William Kent Krueger.


Natucket Sisters   matchmakers

Set a story on a beach and I’ll read it, so I am pleased two of my favorite authors have galleys available for their June books. Nancy Thayer’s Nantucket Sisters(RH/Ballantine), and Elin Hilderbrand’s The Matchmaker(Hachette/ Little, Brown), are not only perfect for fans of women’s fiction but they also have covers that scream “stuff me into your beach bag.”

We’re looking forward to hearing out what you’re reading. Join us on Twitter for GalleyChat, this coming Tuesday, April 1 (we kid you not), from 4 to 5 p.m. EST (4:30 for virtual cocktails), #ewgc.

Authors on Comedy Central, Week of Nov. 4

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

This week, Colbert outstrips Jon Stewart in terms of the number of authors on their shows.

Last night, The Colbert Report featured NPR journalist David Folkenflik for his book on Rupert “Murdoch’s media empire, his influence on world leaders and the extent of the News Corp phone-hacking scandal.”

Murdoch's World

Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires, David Folkenflik, (Perseus/PublicAffairs)

The author was  interviewed earlier on Salon and on NPR’s Morning Edition. MediaMatters covered “5 Of The Most Interesting Stories From David Folkenflik’s Upcoming Murdoch Biography.”

Video below:

Coming up

9780062187925_a98aa   9781610392815   9780307379412

Tonight, Colbert

Dr. J: The Autobiography. Julius Erving, Karl Taro Greenfeld, (Harper; HarperLuxe)

Wednesday, The Daily Show:

Finding the Dragon Lady: The Mystery of Vietnam’s Madame Nhu, Monique Brinson Demery, (Perseus/PublicAffairs)

According to the show’s  description, the book “uncovers the mystery behind the woman whom author David Halberstam once called ‘the beautiful but diabolic sex dicta tress.’ ”

Thursday, Colbert

The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease, Daniel Lieberman, (RH/Pantheon; RH Audio)

BEAUTIFUL RUINS Closer to Screen

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Beautiful RuinsMany libraries still have holds lists for Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, which HarperCollins just released in paperback. It’s a novel that seems ripe for a movie adaptation (great locations — just look at that cover — and the multiple story lines involve the movie business. Note also, that it has been a hit in audio).

Unsurprisingly, the book was optioned shortly after publication and now comes the news that Todd Field has signed on as the director. He has had experience with book adaptations, having won acclaim for his film Little Children, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta.

In 2011, it was announced that an earlier title by Walter, The Financial Lives of Poets, was  going to be adapted as Bailout, by independent filmmaker Michael Winterbottom, starring Jack Black, but there’s been no news on it for over a year.

Walter’s most recent book, a collection of short stories, We Live in Water (Harper Perennial original paperback), was published in February.

NPR’s Backseat Book Club Feb Pick

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Author Christopher Paul Curtis appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss his book, The Watson Go to Birmingham – 1963, (RH/Yearling, 1995), the January pick for The Back Seat Book Club (a club for the kids who hear NPR from that spot as they are being ferried from place to place).

For February, the Club is featuring two titles, published over fifty years apart, but with a similar theme; the prejudice that kids from other countries face from their American school mates.
The classic The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (HMH), about a young Polish girl who is mercilessly teased, was published in 1944 and won a Newbery Honor. Shooting Kabul  by N. H. Senzai, (S&S, Paula Wiseman), the story of an 11-year-old who moves to California from Kabul, came out in 2010.
In addition to inviting questions from kids, NPR also invites them to send in photos of the places and people they love (the boy in Shooting Kabul finds solace in photography). Selected photos will be featured on the NPR web site.


HuffPo Book Club

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

If, like me, you’ve had trouble grasping why Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife is such a literary sensation (on at least 19 Best Books lists, finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Orange Prize), the Huffington Post is here to help, kicking off their book club with a month-long look at the novel, the first of ten books that will be featured in the club.

HuffPo is utilizing multiple online communication tools for the club — readers can comment on the Book Club page, via Twitter  and Facebook. They can even upload images of themselves reading the book via Flickr and sign up for weekly reading assignments. Huffington Post‘s Book Editor, Andrew Losowsky says they also “want to join your real-world community, teaming up with local book clubs and independent bookstores, hosting both online discussion and real-world events,” (we assume he meant to include libraries, since the Books section recently launched a series on the importance of libraries).

The first session of the club ends on Feb. 7th, with a live event in New York.

Branagh Abandons GUERNSEY for SHOES

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011


Kenneth Branagh may have abandoned plans to direct an adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In August, Variety reported that he was planning to begin production on Guernsey in the spring of 2012. Now, that publication announces that Branagh is set to direct Italian Shoes, based on the book by Swedish writer Henning Mankell (New Press, 2009). Branagh starred in the English-language adaptation of the author’s crime-thriller series Wallander for the BBC.

Italian Shoes is decidedly not a crime thriller, however. It’s the story of an aging former surgeon, living alone on a remote island. Various women from his past come to visit and help him regain the desire to live. Reviewing it, the Boston Globe noted, “…if the plot seems like something out of a film by Mankell’s father-in-law, the late Ingmar Bergman, the prose isn’t any sunnier.” Even so, the reviewer was amazed to report, “But you know something? Italian Shoes is a good read.”

Branagh continues his career in front of the camera, playing Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, based on the book by Colin Clark, released for the first time here as a tie-in. The Oscar buzzed movie opens this Thanksgiving. Two new clips, featuring Michelle Williams as Marilyn, were released yesterday.

My Week with Marilyn
Colin Clark
Retail Price: $16.00
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Weinstein Books – (2011-10-04)
ISBN / EAN: 1602861498 / 9781602861497

Also on audio from Dreamscape and on OverDrive.

Paperbacks Arriving Earlier

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Good news for books groups. Publishers are speeding up the release of paperback reprints, which traditionally arrive a year after the hardcover, reports the New York Times. The wait for Room by Emma Donoghue took only eight months. Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) arrives in trade paperback this week, with new cover art, a mere five months after its hardcover publication in February.

When a book is doing well in hardcover, however, publishers still hold off. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has been out for a year and is not yet in paperback. It was more than two years before The Help arrived in softcover.


Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

NPR inaugurated a social networking book club experiment in January with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.

For March, they turn to a book that has been a long-lasting trade paperback best seller (currently at #2 after 57 weeks), Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Adding a new twist, NPR invites books clubs to apply for the opportunity to receive a personal call or videochat from the author.

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 688 pages
Publisher: Vintage – (2010-01-26)
ISBN / EAN: 0375714367 / 9780375714368

OverDrive, Adobe EPUB eBook; Mobipocket eBook; WMA Audiobook
Audio; Books on Tape

Most Popular Book Club Picks

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 is compiling a list of the 2010 Most Discussed Books of the Year.

Book club members are asked to share the books that their groups read each month in 2010. Groups who submit their lists are automatically entered in a contest to win 12 copies of one of the 33 featured titles, which include both recently published titles and upcoming 2011 books.

To view the complete list of featured titles click here. The 2010 Most Discussed Books of the Year feature and contest will be open through February 21, 2011.

Full details and contest rules are available here.


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Director Baz Luhrmann has been studying up for his adaptation of The Great Gatsby and is inviting the public to be part of the process. Earlier this month, he told Entertainment Weekly,

Having spent at least two years full-time on [Gatsby], I probably have read [most every] book. But maybe not… I think engagement with an audience is great. I am fascinated about genuine audience participation because I grew up in the theater…I think to myself, well look, this [list] is what we’ve read. Go read that, and help me. If you want to have a point of view, get informed, then be helpful. Let’s try and make the best interpretation [for today].

Luhrmann’s research material is listed on the director’s Web site, with discussion on his Facebook page.

It was confirmed recently that Carey Mulligan will play Daisy, joining Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. Release is planned for some time in 2012; plenty of time to organize “Reading with Baz” book groups.

The SLAP Heard Round Europe

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Slap has “has sparked heated discussions across the world” according to The Telegraph. Now the author of “the most divisive book” on the long list for the Booker Prize, Christos Tsiolkas is making enemies by calling European writers dry and academic, preferring John Updike’s Couples because it has “a fearlessness that I am hungry for.”

About the aftermath of a guest slapping an obnoxious child, not his own, at a barbecue The Slap is currently the most popular Booker nominee in the UK, selling 3.5 times more copies than the second most popular title, The Room by Emma Donoghue.

It is not nearly as popular here, where it’s at #4,352 on Amazon’s list, as opposed to #16  in the UK. In libraries, holds are light.

So, here’s a thought; it may be an ideal choice for book clubs. It’s available here in paperback, people love it or hate it, making for heated discussions, and there’s the added interest of seeing whether it continues on the Booker short list (to be announced 9/7) and whether it wins the Booker in October (10/12).

It’s received strong reviews in both the UK and the US:

London Review of Books

Jane Smiley reviewed it in The Guardian in May

L.A. Times

Washington Post

Tsiolkas, who lives in Australia, has been interviewed here by WAMU’s Diane Rehm and  The Bookslut.

The Slap: A Novel
Christos Tsiolkas
Retail Price: $15.00
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) – (2010-04-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0143117149 / 9780143117148

Tomorrow’s Book Club Picks

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Which titles will be book club favorites when they come out in trade paperback next year? Kaite Stover asked this question in her Booklist Book Group Buzz column recently, placing her bets on two current hardcovers, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simondson (Random House, March, 2010) Bloodroot by Amy Greene (Knopf, Jan, 2010) and one that isn’t coming out until January, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin).

We love the idea of making these predictions, and wanted to join in. Our pick is Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Back in January, USA Today made this attention-getting comparison,

Readers entranced by Kathryn Stockett’s The Help…will be equally riveted by Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench, a brutally told fictional account of slave women forced to be the “mistresses” of their white masters in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Like The Help, Wench immerses readers in its characters’ complex emotional lives.

For some reason, it didn’t follow The Help to bestsellerdom, but we’re predicting it will when it comes out in trade paperback this January. There’s several good indicators, including heavy holds in libraries. Book clubs are already reading it and Dolen-Perkins is available for phone-ins with groups via Skype (for more, check here). There’s even a reading group guide on O, the Oprah magazine site.

Wench: A Novel
Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Amistad – (2010-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 006170654X / 9780061706547

Unabridged Audio: Books on Tape
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s tour schedule is peppered with library events, including several opportunites to see her at the upcoming ALA:

Sunday, June 27th, WCC, 142
ALTAFF Program: Authors Come in All Colors

8:00 – 10:00
BCALA Membership Meeting

Monday, June 28
Booth signing — HarperCollins booth, #2513

Dolen Perkins-Valdez at the LIVE Stage