My "Best of the Blogs" posts are usually random, but this week I thought it'd be fun to spotlight a theme: the ever-popular top 5 lists.
Top 5 Children’s Books for Grown-Ups
Posted by Brain Pickings
There's nothing out of left field on this list, and I'd bet most of us have already read all 5 of these titles. But still, it's nice to be reminded of stories we loved as children, and the excerpts printed on the blog have inspired me to revisit these classics. Here's a quote from the #1 pick; can you guess the book? "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Malcolm Gladwell’s Top 5 Novels of All Time
Posted by Read This
Short stories, a literary classic, spy thrillers. . . there's a lot of variety on Gladwell's list, and his comments on To Kill a Mockingbird fit nicely with the Top 5 Children's Books for Grown-Ups post: "I know, I know. Everyone read it as a kid. But I think it deserves to be read again, because if you read it closely, as an adult, all of a sudden a lot of what you thought was moving and beautiful turns out to be a bit creepy. That’s all I’m saying." When I read TKAM as an 8th grader I found certain parts disturbing, heartbreaking, funny—but never particularly creepy. (Well, Boo Radley was creepy.) Maybe it is time for another close read.
Yann Martel's Favorite Reads
Posted by The Daily Beast
If you've read Beatrice & Virgil, it'll come as no surprise that #1 on Martel's list is The Divine Comedy. Turns out he also loves Coetzee (his favorite living author) and Zora Neale Hurston.
What are your favorite book blog posts from the week? Seen any good top 5 lists?
Du Bose Heyward's classic 1939 picture book The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes—in which a mother bunny dreams of being an Easter Bunny–will be adapted into a series of animated holiday specials for TV and DVD. Animation Studio Rainmaker Entertainment bought the rights to the story, and Bernice Vanderlaan (Disney's "Life With Derek" TV show) will write the adapation.
Learning Magazine called the book—which teaches how a female bunny really can defy prejudice and be the Easter Bunny (all while raising a family)—a "very modern feminist tale." In a blog post on The New Yorker's book blog, Kelly Bare writes of the book's "small but worshipful following"—the 71-year-old story has never been out of print. Are you among that group? Will your family watch The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes when it comes out on TV?
The Moby Awards—recognizing the best (and worst) in book trailers—were announced last night in New York City. I am happy to say that the trailer for Lowboy by John Wray won for Best Cameo in a Book Trailer (actor/comedian Zach Galifinakis is hilarious in his interview with the author); you can watch the video in my original post about the awards.
Other winners include:
Best Low Budget/Indie Book Trailer: I am in the Air Right Now by Kathryn Regina
Best Big Budget/Big House Book Trailer:? Going West by Maurice Gee
Best Performance by in Author: Dennis Cass in Head Case
Least Likely Trailer to Sell the Book: Sounds of Murder by Patricia Rockwell
You can watch all the trailers on the Moby website. Also, do you know of any particularly good (or bad) book trailers you'd like to share?
Here's another update for Kathryn Stockett fans. (I keep thinking The Help may have lost some momentum—but then someone new will recommend it to me, not knowing that I've read it, or beg for a book suggestion because they just finished The Help and they loved it. No wonder Penguin's holding the paperback release until January 4, 2011. . . nearly two years after the hardcover's publication.)
Anyway, the news is that Octavia Spencer has been cast as Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s feisty best friend and Celia Foote's maid. According to Entertainment Weekly, Stockett and Spencer have known each other for "close to a decade" and the actress "served as the inspiration for the outspoken character." (She's also Minny's voice on the audio version of The Help.) Spencer has appeared in a number of movies and TV shows, but she's probably best known for her role as Constance Grady in "Ugly Betty."
I mentioned this briefly during Children's Reading Week, but I want you all to know that next Wednesday (May 26) we're launching a children's/teen e-newsletter called Reading Corner. I am really excited about this project because I love teen and middle grade novels (see here, here, here... here) and I think it will be a lot of fun to share our children's coverage with a group who especially appreciates books for young readers.
We're creating the newsletter for parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, young readers and adults who love kid lit. Each issue will be filled with interviews, news and reviews of the best new books—and much of the content will appear in the newsletter before it's published on BookPage.com.
In the first edition, we're doing a mega-giveaway. You could win these five new novels (a couple of which I'd bet will be serious Newbery contenders). So, if you want a chance to win the books, sign up for the newsletter here.
As we approach the launch date, I'd love to hear any thoughts on what type of kids books you like to read about: picture books? dystopian teen novels? Feel free to leave a message in the comments section, and I hope you enjoy Reading Corner!
Another week, same cookbook: the Brombergs had so many to choose from. First Spicy Egg Shooters, now dessert. Read on for a sweet treat from two sibling chefs with a passion "for making whatever they make the best it can be." This one comes with a great story.
October 25, 1992. One week prior to opening Blue Ribbon, we place a call to Paris: “Bruno, help!”
The faint reply from the other side of the ocean: “Don’t worry, guys, I’ll be there. Besides, I could use a break.”
And with that, our mentor, Chef Bruno Hess from Le Recamier restaurant in Paris, was on his way to the rescue.
Bruno worked four nearly 24-hour days in a row, sleeping on the floor of the dining room while helping us get to opening day. Some break!
One of the nights during his stay we attacked the famed Fondant Chocolat, a dense chocolate mousse that was one of Bruno’s specialties in Paris. Due to the differences between American and French eggs and butter, we couldn’t get the recipe to work at all. We were incredibly frustrated; it was something we’d made hundreds of times before in France, so why wasn’t it coming out right in SoHo? By sunrise, and several hundreds of eggs later, we arrived at something completely different but perhaps even more delicious than the original. It could no longer be called Fondant Chocolat. Voilà, the birth of Chocolate Bruno.
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
2 ounces graham crackers (½ sleeve, or 4 full crackers), crushed (1 cup)
18 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons brewed espresso
8 large egg yolks
8 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving
Hot Fudge, for serving
Raspberries, for serving (optional)
1. Line the bottom of 6 (8-ounce) ramekins with parchment or wax paper. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over (but not touching) a pan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate; stir in the graham crackers. Divide equally among the prepared molds, using a spoon to spread evenly on each base.
Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
2. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over (but not touching) a pan of simmering water, melt the semisweet chocolate and butter with the espresso.
Let cool for 2 minutes. Stir in (do not whisk) the yolks until just incorporated.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the
whites until foamy. Slowly add the sugar and increase the speed. Beat until the
whites form soft, floppy peaks.
4. Fold a little bit of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon the mousse into the molds and level the tops with an offset spatula or spoon. Chill until set, about 3 hours or overnight.
5. To serve, gently dip the bottoms of the ramekins in a bowl of hot water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Run a spatula along the edges of each ramekin (outside the parchment paper) and pop out the mousse. Remove the paper. Transfer the desserts to plates and dust with cocoa powder. Serve with a drizzle of hot fudge and raspberries, if desired.
Note: Pregnant women, the elderly, and people who have compromised immune systems should exercise caution when consuming the raw eggs in this recipe.
Blue Ribbon Wisdom
Chocolate, White and Otherwise
White chocolate can be a pretty sketchy product if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Read the ingredients and check for cocoa butter, which is the only thing about white chocolate that’s related to chocolate at all! If it’s not made with real cocoa butter, chances are the manufacturer is substituting cheap hydrogenated vegetable oils instead—resulting in a product euphemistically called “white confectionary tablet.” You might be surprised that this recipe calls for semisweet rather than bittersweet chocolate. There’s a reason, of course. Calling for semisweet chocolate allows us to use less sugar when beating the eggs whites, which makes a looser, lighter meringue. This keeps the Bruno mousse-like and fluffy rather than dense.
Reprinted from Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Bruce Bromberg, Eric Bromberg, and Melissa Clark. Copyright (c) 2010. Photos (c) Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
If these covers are any indication, we're going to be starting at the backs of a lot of people's heads this fall.
At least this brunette beauty is letting her locks flow free! Probably because she's an unconventional woman for her time, just like Cleopatra. The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (Crown, August) is the second novel from Susan Gregg Gilmore, and it's set in Nashville! We're looking forward to giving it a read.
No one does "wistful" like an Anita Shreve heroine, and this photograph evokes that emotion perfectly. It's possible that Shreve's novels kicked off this back-of-the-head trend; her last book, A Change in Altitude, featured this motif as well.
And last but not least, a debut novel about a ballerina, Russian Winter (Morrow, September). Her chignon is lovely, but the low back on her top (leotard?) combined with the backwards necklace is giving me an Exorcist flashback.
Have you noticed this trend? Do these covers spark your imagination, make you curious or set a mood? Or would you rather see a person's face on the cover of your book?
As many of you already know, Dewey Readmore Books was an orange tabby cat who lived in the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. When library director Myron told his story in Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, the book sold for a reported $1.25 million and became a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
The middle grade version, which came out a few weeks ago, tells Dewey's now familiar tale and includes some adorable pictures. For the youngest readers, there are also a couple picture books available (such as Dewey: There's a Cat in the Library!).
Adults who fell in love with Dewey will be happy to hear that Myron has a new book coming out on Oct. 12—Dewey's Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions.
It's a no-brainer that readers love libraries, which Myron has called "the last great free enterprise in American society." What are your favorite books that are about libraries (or are love letters to libraries, as PW described Dewey back in 2008)?
Also, kid versions of adult books are nothing new—everyone from Glenn Beck (The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book) to Al Gore (Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis, Young Reader’s Edition) to Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea : One Man's Journey to Change the World... One Child at a Time) seems to be doing it. Have parents/teachers/librarians found any such adaptation to be a notable hit with kids?
Want more info on Dewey? Read Myron's behind-the-book essay in BookPage.
Crazy Love: A Memoir by Leslie Morgan Steiner
St. Martin’s, March 30, 2010
Crazy Love is the story of Leslie’s love-gone-wrong with boyfriend—and then husband—Conor. At first Leslie and Conor seemed like the perfect couple—totally in love and excited to begin their lives together—but slowly Conor begins to abuse Leslie, subtly and verbally at first, brutally and physically later. Gradually and methodically, he isolates her from friends and family, leaving Leslie terrified that she might never escape from the man she loves.
It’s not an easy book to read, but I think it’s an important one. And even though the subject matter is violent and difficult, Steiner’s writing is fluid and lovely.
Here’s an excerpt from the middle of the book, days before Leslie and Conor’s wedding, and just a few hours after Conor pushed Leslie up against a wall, choked her and then threw her to the floor over a simple misunderstanding.
I pretended I didn’t hear the Volkswagen pull in around 6:00pm. He came into my office holding the car keys, head down. I could smell fear on him, panic that I was going to vilify him for what he’d done or announce I’d canceled the wedding.
The dread on Conor’s face offered a spider’s thread of hope. If he were afraid, he’d never attack me again, right? I could leave anytime. And anyway, he’d just grabbed my throat. He couldn’t have hit me. We were getting married.
Three days later, when my family and our wedding guests started arriving, the ten small reddish brown bruises around my neck were so faint no one noticed them.
Since today's Trailer Tuesday, it seems like a perfect time to write about the 2010 Moby Awards, which on Thursday will recognize the best and worst book trailers produced between April '09 and April '10.
A panel of judges will award prizes in the following categories: Best Big Budget Book Trailer; Best Low Budget Book Trailer; Best Cameo in a Book Trailer; Best Author Appearance in a Book Trailer; and Least Likely to Actually Sell the Book.
You can view the complete list of finalists (and watch the trailers) at this link. I don't think anyone will be surprised that two mash-ups from Quirk Books made the list—Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Dawn of the Dreadfuls (one of our first Trailer Tuesday selections) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
The trailer for Lowboy by John Wray (a finalist for Best Cameo) had me cracking up at my desk. Check it out:
What's your favorite out of the Moby finalists? On Friday morning, I'll do a follow-up post on the winners.