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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Review

Another year has passed and what a crazy year it was. Things at the store are great. I just bought a house. Everything is going well; though it does seem that the busier I am and the better life is the number of books finished slides downward. This year I read seventy-one books and managed to write about forty-one of them. Not too bad!

I just wanted to share a few of my “greatest hits” in a couple different categories.

Best All Around:
The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
The Black Count - Tom Reiss
The General in His Labyrinth - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Best New Release (I did not read many new books this year):
The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond
The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Best Middle Grade/YA:
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

 Best World Book Night:
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
City of Thieves by David Benioff
My Antonia by Willa Cather

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Omar: Why I Want to Give Same Difference

This is my first time participating in World Book Night. As an avid proponent of comic books and graphic novels, Derek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference was an obvious choice for me. Graphic novels are largely still fighting to be considered as a valid story-telling medium. I truly believe in the importance of graphic novels, and how they can help people learn to love to read.
When I was a child, I didn’t care much for reading.  It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the X-Men comic books that I realized reading could be fun. At that point, I started reading every X-Men comic I could get my hands on (which, at the time, wasn’t many). My mother worked right next to a library, so I ventured in one day and found some X-Men novels. By the end of the first book, I was hooked. Not just on X-Men, but on reading. It was like watching an entire movie, but in your head!
As I grew up, I read comics less and less. But my love of reading never changed. I spent most of my middle school and high school years reading. It wasn’t until after high school that I returned to comic books and rediscovered my love for the medium. There were some amazing characters fighting against all odds to save the people they cared about. But there were also non-superhero books. There were books like Sandman, a magical journey through the realms of dreams. And Y the Last Man, a book about the last male in a female-dominated world.  There were so many wonderful, awe-inspiring stories being told in the comic book/graphic novel medium.
Graphic novels are still fighting to earn the respect they deserve. Many people view graphic novels as less than traditional novels. Many refuse to accept them as a valid medium, claiming they’re just for kids (a false generalization). I’ve even heard people say that children who read comic books and graphic novels never learn how to use their imagination, and therefore never enjoy reading books. To all the naysayers, I say: try reading a few, truly outstanding graphic novels before you judge them. I came to love reading via comic books, and I doubt anyone who knows me would claim my imagination doesn’t work.
I would like to give out copies of Derek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference to show people that comic books and graphic novels are not just superheroes. Graphic novels are as varied as traditional novels; there’s something for everyone. All it takes is one great graphic novel and one person passionate about the medium to change the world’s minds. Same Difference could be that novel for many people. And I would like to be that person. Graphic novels deserve respect.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Victoria: Why I Want to Give The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I want to give out The Perks of Being a Wallflower for World Book Night 2014 because it meant something to me, and I would like the opportunity to give light or non-readers a book that will hopefully mean something to them as well.  Books are usually valued as entertainment, but I think they are often undervalued for the impact they can have on their readers’ lives.  So many people don’t read because they simply don’t enjoy it, and I am of the opinion that those people just haven’t found the right book yet.  I think everyone needs to have at least one book change their life, and I believe that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has the potential to be that book for quite a few people.  I plan to give my books out at LSU to people who either don’t have a love for reading or who have lost it in the slog of classes and homework assignments.  A book like Perks is short, intriguing, and simple, and I think it has an excellent chance of being that spark to get even the busiest students back to reading.  

I want to help encourage people to not only read in general, but to open themselves up to letting books change and influence them in ways they might not even realize are possible.  Reading a book and feeling it affect you is a powerful thing that I think everyone should experience, and I want to help bring this experience to others.  Perks is a powerful book, as anyone who has read it will likely attest.  It holds themes, ideas, and experiences that just about anyone can relate to and understand, which makes it an excellent book to give out to people who don’t really read much or at all.  It is also recognizable, since the movie was released about a year ago.  People might be more inclined to give the book a chance if they have heard of it or enjoyed the film.  The main goal is to get people to read the book we give them, since even one book is better than none.  The larger goal is to get people reading more books in general, through the one book we give them for WBN.  We want to help them realize that reading can be an enjoyable and even moving experience if they’d only give it a chance, and I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that has a chance of meeting both of those goals.

Victoria previously wrote about Perks here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Michelle: Why I want to give Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

I spent quite a while trying to decide what book I wanted to distribute on World Book Night next year. Of the three I had read none really worked with the place I wanted to hand out books (I’ll be at Women Outreaching Women, a women's shelter here in Denham). I wasn’t particularly feeling the book I was reading last week so I started flipping through a few of the World Book Night picks…a few pages in I knew I wanted to give out copies of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Just that reference to the nature of life in the title was enough for me to know that this was the book for the women I will be talking to on April 23rd.

Jamie Ford has created a deceptively simple story of first loves, family obligations, betrayal, and loyalty. You never feel bombarded with the sadness or sentimentality of the novel. It is a perfect balance of feeling, truth, and history. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is the story of Henry Lee at two distinct times in his life; when he first fell in love just prior to the Japanese internment of the 1940s and forty years later upon the death of his wife. Henry’s story is about what we want and need out of life and each other. It is about the power of relationships.

Then there is the history. Ford did a wonderful job telling the story of the camps, and he does so without soapboxing. This is an important part of American history that is for the most part glossed over. Ford shines a light on it revealing the fear of the time for exactly what it is.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to distribute copies of this book on World Book Night. It is a well told story with characters that the reader can grab on to. I can see it converting quite a few readers and definitely fulfilling the goal of World Book Night.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reading Group Selections - December 2013

The best books for reading groups are the ones that foster discussions - whether your book club members are boisterous or more subdued, talking about books is what those meetings are all about! Picking just the right book is always a thrill; love it or hate it - book club books are the ones that stand out.
Here are a few recent paperback releases that would lead to great discussions in any book club!

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos
American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. Until she sees Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who's written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, take his tight breeches off for an educational striptease to promote his book.
City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte
Sara and Nicolas search for an alchemical cure for a gravely ill friend threatened by an old enemy and a bloodthirsty horseman, while Prince Max tries to explain the strange reappearance of a saint while outmaneuvering a scheming historian.
Morning Glory by Sarah Jio
Jio's fifth novel, following The Last Camellia, explores the degree to which time and distance give comfort to those who have experienced loss.
Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson
Two boys —one Jewish and one a budding Nazi —meet 60 years later, launching a story that will not let readers go until the last page, long after they discover what occurred in Poland all those years ago.
In Violet's Wake by Robert Devereaux-Nelson
Violet's four ex-husbands band together to track down her high-school sweetheart to find out what the one who got away has —that they don't.


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