It's March 17, and you know what that means: those who aren't wearing green, prepare to be pinched! If you've chosen not to venture out in search of green beer tonight, we've come up with some suggested reading in several categories that will help you celebrate the Irish spirit.
Nonfiction: BookPage columnist Robert Weibezahl highly recommends At the Edge of Ireland, David Yeardon's charming travelogue.
Fiction: Lots to mention here! Have you read Roddy Doyle yet? Yes? Then you'll have to wait for his next novel to come out in April. Everyone else, try Oh, Play That Thing for a fiery take on the Irish-American experience. Mary Pat Kelly's Galway Bay is another epic that brings the Irish immigrants' tale to life—it was inspired by her own family history. And we can't ignore Maeve Binchy, Alice McDermott and John Banville.
Or go off the beaten path with a very Irish novel that happens to be written by a Dane, Christopher Moerk: Darling Jim is his deliciously creepy American debut. Paul Murray's hilarious An Evening of Long Goodbyes is another standout. And if chick lit is more your thing, don't miss Cecelia Ahern's sparkling stories.
Children's Books: Eoin Colfer is probably the best-known Irish children's author; his Artemis Fowl series has been loved by millions.
Cooking: The New Irish Table by Margaret M. Johnson will give you ideas for tonight's feast.
What's your favorite book with an Irish connection?
An amusing—and a little too close to home—concept is making the rounds among book reviewers today: Book Review Bingo. Michelle Kerns, a literary columnist on Examiner.com, created a list of reviewer clichés, then plugged them into bingo cards. (She writes, “Book reviews that use clichés mean nothing, say nothing, and tell the reader nothing. They're like eating a cream puff when what you really want is prime rib—they're unsatisfying and, ultimately, useless.”)
Here’s one of the cards:
What do you say, book bloggers? Is it unforgiveable to use the word “powerful” in a review? Are you guilty of calling a book a “tour de force?” I’ll go ahead and confess to my own guilt; my most recent feature for BookPage would give a Bingo player several checks (come on—it was epic!).
For more on the subject, check out Salon, GalleyCat and The Boston Globe. Even Ron Charles at The Washington Post is tweeting about Book Review Bingo. Do you have any clichés to add to the list? My vote’s for “compulsively” readable.
I read and wrote about The Solitude of Prime Numbers over a month ago for a What We’re Reading Wednesday blog post. At that time, I had no idea if the book, which has been so popular abroad, would take off in the United States.
Well, it seems that it has: In the past week, Paolo Giordano’s debut has received accolades in the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and USA Today—not to mention BookPage, where reviewer Tony Kuehn wrote that the author “deftly creates a sense of loneliness and loss through the use of simple, beautiful language and powerful imagery.”
This Thursday, you can see for yourself what the fuss is about—but you need to act fast. At the Nashville Public Library, there are already seven holds on the first available copy.
While you wait for the book’s release, check out this interview with Giordano. (The author is Italian, although the interview’s in English.) He talks about choosing between physics and literature; dealing with the strangeness of fame; and the satisfaction of writing:
Will you read The Solitude of Prime Numbers?
Several of you had opinions on the iPad last week, so I thought you might be interested in the latest news about a “groundbreaking enriched eBook” (according to Grand Central).
When David Baldacci’s Deliver Us From Evil hits stores on April 20, the eBook will come with behind-the-scenes features in the same vein as a DVD. The features will include Baldacci’s research photos, deleted scenes from the manuscript and an alternate ending. Baldacci himself says the reader will have “a true multi-dimensional entertainment experience.” The complete package is called The Writer’s Cut eBook.
It’s exciting to see how publishers are taking advantage of the eBook platform, although I’m not sure that “Writer’s Cut” eBooks will work with every genre. If you’re an author, what do you think? Would you be willing to provide alternate endings and deleted passages? Readers: Would this additional content attract you to a book?
Once rare, book trailers are now popping up for all but the most obscure titles. It's a wild world out there, so every Tuesday we'll post one—or two—that we consider notable for your entertainment.
This week's trailer is for The Girl Who Chased the Moon, Sarah Addison Allen's third novel, which goes on sale today. Allen's work blends the everyday with the magical, not unlike that of Alice Hoffman. Check out the trailer, and then read our review of the book—a web exclusive.
Also in BookPage: A review of Garden Spells.
Coming to theaters near you this weekend: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, based on Jeff Kinney's best-selling middle-grade series. The movie hits theaters Friday, and the companion book, Movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is in libraries and bookstores today.
Judging from the trailer, the movie looks like a winning adaptation—likely to be a hit with the the 6- to 10-year-old set (and parents wondering how to pass the long hours of spring break).
Related in BookPage: Check out our Meet the Author featuring Jeff Kinney.
A few observations on books and reading after spending a week at the beach:
1. The number one book spotted on the beach/in airports/and everywhere else I looked: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. If you need further evidence that this book has crossed from bestseller into phenomenon territory, take a trip.
2. If you're reading on a Kindle, you have to turn it off during airplane takeoff and landing—a total pain, especially if you've reached an exciting part of the book. If you're reading a good, old-fashioned paper-and-ink version, you can keep reading your book while the Kindle reader next to you squirms anxiously and awaits the announcement that personal electronic devices can be turned on.
3. If your plane hits extreme turbulence over the Atlantic, you won't want to read either your Kindle or your old-fashioned book. You'll want to clutch the armrests with both hands and moan as quietly as possible.
4. Though it's widely reported that women read more than men, this doesn't hold true among travelers. In airports and on the beach, men are just as likely as women to be staring at a book (though the man is more likely to be sound asleep and pretending to read the book).
5. Having a book in your hand is a great conversation starter among strangers.
6. Sand can be used effectively as a bookmark.
Don’t miss this week’s fresh content on BookPage.com. Click the book titles to read more:
Every week, there are many smart, funny and fascinating posts in the book blog community. With that in mind, we’re starting a Friday series: Best of the week in book blogs. Below are a few choice posts we’ve stumbled upon throughout the past few days. Feel free to add YOUR favorite book blog posts in the comments.
“I dare you not to sing along ...”
Posted by She is Too Fond of Books
How much do you love this video, from Ocoee Middle School in Florida? Oprah did, and now she’s partnering with Target to give the school a library makeover. Okay everyone: Sing it with me: “This book's going to be a good, good book to read.”
“Great Building of Books Friday”
Posted by Entomology of a Bookworm
This post is awesome because, well, who doesn’t want to learn about a building made of books? I visited the Modern Art Center in Lisbon a couple years ago, and there was a minimal, conceptual light installation in the hall where the book structure was on display. If only I could have seen a "symmetrical, enclosed room of stacked literature”!
“Some Bookish Events that are Local (to me)”
Posted by Book Chatter
I love getting out from behind my computer screen and interacting with booklovers in person—hence my fondness for book festivals and readings. On Book Chatter, Ti highlights two such events in the Los Angeles area, the L.A. Times Festival of Books and the Impatient with Desire book party. Wish I could be there!
“Spotted on the subway: Vladimir Nabokov edition”
Posted by Wormbook
Browse Wormbook for many “Spotted on the subway” entries. How fun is it to spot a stranger reading one of your favorite books? Or spy on a reader who totally doesn’t match up with the book he’s reading?
What book blog posts did you enjoy this week?
Finally, a celebrity memoir that has a chance of being interesting! On Wednesday St. Martin's Press announced the acquisition of a memoir from Judi Dench, And Furthermore. As the press release puts it, "For the first time, Dench writes about her life, both on-stage and off, in a book that takes the measure of both her astonishing career and her private life. " The book will be published in October.
Dench made her acting debut in 1957 and has amassed a string of impressive credits in the years since. Seeing her name on a cast list feels like a guarantee of quality to me -- her turn as Lady Catherine de Bourg made the sub-par 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice worth watching (OK, Matthew MacFadyen helped with that too!). It's hard to say what role of hers is my favorite, but right now I'm going to go with Miss Matty Jenkyns in the Cranford adaptations. (I blogged about the series here.)
I'm also looking forward to her turn as Mrs. Fairfax in the upcoming version of Jane Eyre. (More on that here.)
Do you have a favorite Dench film? Has anyone seen her on stage? And will you read her memoir?