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Friday, November 30, 2007

Kindle Fever

There has been a lot of buzz this past week about Amazon’s new e-reader, the Kindle. Apparently it is changing the way readers can buy e-books by allowing a book to be downloaded directly to the reader, rather than first to a PC.

A reviewer in "The Wall Street Journal" liked the ease of downloading up to 90,000 titles, and some of Kindle’s excellent software features. The hardware, he felt, needed some tweaking. Amazon, he felt, had more to learn about designing electronic devices.

The announcement of the Kindle sparked a new and reoccurring debate on the state of the book. “Newsweek” explored ("The Future of Reading") in a recent issue and the NPR show, ("On the Media"), devoted a segment to books last week.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you still like the feel of a book in your hands or is the Kindle and e-paper the future of reading? Is there a future to reading? Let us know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Baby Boomers’ Favorite Author

Three of the post-war generation’s most famous writers have died in the last year – William Styron, Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer. But of those, the most popular – according to sales – is Vonnegut. “[He] was the American Mark Twain. He even looked like him,” said Mailer’s literary executor in an article AP article, published November 15 ("Kurt Vonnegut Tops in Public's Heart").

According to the article, Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five has sold about 280,000 copies since 2006, which is more than four times the rate of six of the most popular books of the past 60 years: Mailer's The Naked and the Dead, The Armies of the Night and The Executioner's Song, and Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice and Darkness Visible.

If you want to decide for yourself, check the library’s catalog for the work of these giants of post-World War II American literature. Which of the above is your favorite? Let us know.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oprah Picks Ken Follett

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Ken Follett's 1989 novel, The Pillars of the Earth, for her next book club selection. Follett, who lives in Wales, considers the 973-page book, a 12th-century love story, one of his favorites. It still sells about 100,000 copies a year, according to an Associated Press article.

If you have never sampled Follett’s books, here’s a few to try:

World Without End (2007) (sequel to The Pillars of the Earth)

Whiteout (2004)

Hornet Flight (2002)

Code to Zero (2000)

The Hammer of Eden (1998)

The Third Twin (1996)

Lie Down With Lions (1986)

Eye of the Needle (1978)

Are you a Follett fan? If so, what’s your favorite book?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Second Time Around

A recent survey in Great Britain revealed that 80 percent of its residents re-read a book and the Harry Potter series tops the list for novels that are picked up again. ("Harry Potter Most Re-Read Book in Britain: Survey, AP, Nov. 9, 2007)

Other favorite books to sample one more time include J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The survey also found that 43 percent of the respondents knew after reading the first chapter that they would finish a book and one third knew after the first 50 pages. Four percent knew after the first page.

Here’s the list of the most re-read books:

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

6. 1984 by George Orwell

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

8. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

10. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Have you got a favorite book you love to read again and again? How many pages in a book do you read before you know you’ll get to the end? Let us know.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Newbery Medal

Those of you who frequent libraries with your kids may be familiar with the distinctive Newbery Medal stamped on award-winning books. When it was first conceived by the American Library Association in 1921, the medal became the first award for children’s literature in the world. The award is named for John Newbery, a British bookseller in the 18th century, who was among the first to market children’s literature. Some of the more well-known Newbery winners include Johnny Tremain (1944); The Island of Blue Dolphins (1961); A Wrinkle in Time (1963); Sounder (1970); Sarah, Plain and Tall (1986); and Holes (1999).

Don’t Miss …Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, author of the 1992 Newbery-Medal-winner, Shiloh, will present “Shiloh and Other Stuff” on November 16 at 7 p.m. in the Board Auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax. Age 8 and up. For details and to reserve a seat, call 703-324-8428 or e-mail libraryevents@fairfaxcunty.gov.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Working Class Fiction

It may seem an odd genre, but if writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald or John Cheever focused on the lives of the upper middle class in the last century, a more recent crop of authors, such as Larry Brown and Richard Russo find their inspiration among the masses. They are following in the footsteps of writers such as Upton Sinclair (The Jungle) and James T. Farrell (Studs Lonigan) who tried to capture the blue collar lives of an earlier era.

One such author is Stewart O'Nan. Viking Press has just announced the release of his newest novel, Last Night at the Lobster, about the lives of the staff at an aging Red Lobster restaurant in a decaying mall in New Britain, CT. Some of O’Nan’s other books include: The Good Wife; The Night Country; and Everyday People.

If you enjoy a fictional glimpse into the lives of regular folks, try these books:

The Beans of Egypt by Carolyn Chute

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Fay by Larry Brown

Live Like You Were Dying by Michael Morris

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

Well by Matthew McIntosh

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Art of the Epitaph

It may seem a bit ghoulish, but today is "Plan Your Epitaph Day." William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill certainly prepared theirs. Shakespeare's ends with the famous line: "And cursed be he who moves these bones." Churchill's reads: "I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter." So, if you feel like scribbling some memorable last words, today's the day.
Don’t Miss . . .
Thursday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.
Civil War Lecture. Greg Mertz presents "The Overland Campaign of 1864: The Battle of the Wilderness" at the Centreville Regional Library, 14200St. Germain Dr., 703-830-2223.
Wednesday, November 7, 10:30 a.m.
Yoga for Seniors. Author/yoga instructor Shakta Kaur leads breathing exercises and gentle, rejuvenating movements (that can be done in a chair) at the George Mason Regional Library, 7001 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, 703-256-3800.
Wednesday, November 7, 7 p.m.
Danger Between the Lines. Documentary film on daily life in Oakton near Hunter Mill Road during the Civil War at the Oakton Library, 10304 Lynnhaven Place, 703-242-4020.
Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m.
Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygrapher. John Sullivan discusses his 31-year career with the CIA, shedding light on this secretive and controversial organization at the Patrick Henry Library, 101 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, 703-938-0405.