Like all of the BookPage staffers, I've always been an avid reader. But after majoring in English in college and then working in publishing in New York, I never thought I had the time to join a full-fledged book club. A few publishing girlfriends and I briefly began "The Bad Girls' Book Club" (where we would only read fun, self-indulgent books we couldn't admit to reading in the office) but we only met twice—and we weren't terribly diligent about our assignments. For the record, we WERE diligent with the delicious appetizers and specialty cocktails—and maybe that was the root of our problem...
After leaving the craziness of New York City for Nashville, I found myself with more time to read outside of work. The idea that I might actually finish one of the many books on my "to read" list was thrilling. And while gleefully explaining to my Nashville friends that I had all this time to read again, just for fun, I decided it was time to start a REAL book club. I pitched the idea to a few friends, who pitched the idea to a few of their friends, and voila—instant book club. We decided our first read will be Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It's almost 1,200 pages long, so I'm a bit worried we've set the bar a little too high for our first meeting. But I have faith in our group. I'll check back in after our first meeting—hopefully in the next month or so!
What are your book clubs reading? Here are a few ideas, just for fun.
Bad Girls' Book Club reading list
The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
Lighting Up by Susan Shapiro
From my mom’s "Ladies Who Lunch" book club
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
From my dad’s “Guys Only” book club
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer
(For the record, they meet at a bar, and they talk about sports, too)
As Associate Publisher at BookPage, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is going to NYC to visit book publishers face-to-face. It's always fun to find out what they are most excited about, and get the inside scoop on what's coming in the months ahead. For instance, on my most recent trip, I learned that Dutton is publishing the sequel to Dracula in mid-October, Dracula, The Un-dead. Wow! A new book resurrecting the original blood-sucker who started the vampire-mania that continues today! Best of all, it's written by Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, who used Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Can anyone say, "Bestseller?"
Another benefit of traveling to NYC is spoiling myself at the countless incredible restaurants found on virtually every corner in Manhattan. A girl's gotta eat, ya know? However, my favorite meal this trip was the cedar plank salmon that I had in Ben & Kristal's kitchen, located in a funky Jersey City brownstone. (Sorry, this kitchen is only open to family and friends...) That leads me to the other upcoming book that piqued my interest --- a cookbook from one of my favorite non-NYC restaurants, Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, AL. Running Press is publishing the cookbook in early October. I hope it includes the chef's special recipe for grilled oysters! Yum!
And, lastly, I must mention the galley I started reading while in NYC that I'm still delightfully devouring --- The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. If you missed Zafon's book, The Shadow of the Wind, you must read it immediately so that you'll be ready for The Angel's Game when it publishes in June. You'll be glad you did. Both novels are well-written, mysterious and are books for book lovers. Be sure read to the BookPage review of The Shadow of the Wind, pulled from our archives.
Like a lot of readers, I'm a huge Pat Conroy fan. If I had to pick a favorite book, it would be The Prince of Tides, and I devoured Beach Music and The Great Santini, too. I was thrilled when I heard Conroy would be back with a new novel this fall – his first in 14 years!
At BookPage we’re lucky enough to get advanced copies of books a few months ahead of publication, but I wasn’t expecting to see the new Conroy, called South of Broad, until May or June. So imagine my delight when it arrived in our piles of mail yesterday! The on sale date has moved up from September 15th to August 11th and I can hardly wait to dig in this weekend.
Conroy’s latest narrator is Leopold (Leo) Bloom King, and South of Broad tracks his life in Charleston, South Carolina after the suicide of his older brother. His family shattered, Leo eventually finds his place with a tightly knit group of high school friends, and the novel follows the intersections and complications of their lives through adulthood. I can’t wait to meet these characters, and I couldn't resist taking a sneak peek at the Prologue this morning. Conroy begins: “It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River. He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets. Charleston was my father’s ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life. His bloodstream lit up my own wit a passion for the city that I’ve never lost nor ever will. I’m Charleston-born, and bred. The city’s two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper, have flooded and shaped all the days of my life on this storied peninsula."
If the first paragraph is any indication, we are in for another treat, courtesy of the great Pat Conroy.
A priest, a rabbi and a best-selling author walk into a book . . . nope, it’s not a joke, it’s the summary of the forthcoming novel by Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom. Have a Little Faith will be published by Hyperion on September 22 and promises to tug hard on those heartstrings. “It all started with the question: How does a nonreligious person like me do a eulogy?” the writer and former sports journalist told the Detroit Free Press.