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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricanes and Superstorms

While the D.C. area escaped the worst of Sandy, this hybrid nor’easter with a hurricane inside (later called a post-tropical cyclone) was a first in recent history.  Now that things have died down, here is some reading for extreme weather buffs.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Horror

So you’ve read all of Stephen King and other horror classics such as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting, Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror or Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.  As Halloween approaches, what’s next? You might want to try some from  last year’s Top Ten Horror Fiction,” posted by Booklist Online.

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The White Devil by Justin Evans

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bad Reviews

Not all classics earned raves when they first appeared. Flavorwire has gathered brutal comments from the first reviews of some of our most acclaimed literature ("15 Early Scathing Reviews of Classic Novels, Oct. 8, 2012).  Here are excerpts from just a few:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.  “. . .It is a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.”
Graham’s Lady’s Magazine, 1848

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. “Mr. Melville is evidently trying to ascertain how far the public will consent to be imposed upon. . .” — New York United States Magazine and Democratic Review, 1852

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer.” — Le Figaro, 1857

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Mr. Scott Fitzgerald deserves a good shaking. . .”  The Saturday Review, 1925

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. “Catch-22 has much passion, comic and fervent, but it gasps for want of craft and sensibility. . .” New York Times Book Review, 1961

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. “The plan and technique of the illustrations are superb. … But they may well prove frightening, accompanied as they are by a pointless and confusing story.”
Publisher’s Weekly, 1963

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Great Group Reads

Is your book discussion group seeking some new reading? To celebrate National Reading Group Month in October, a committee of the Women’s National Book Association has published a list 0f 19 novels and one memoir selected as “Great Group Reads.” ("National Reading Group Month," Shelf Awareness, Oct. 5, 2012). Here are a few from the list:

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

The O'Briens by Peter Behrens

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Need a Laugh?

If the election hoopla is getting you down, maybe you need a distraction.  Humor is great medicine.  Calvin Trillin, author of Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff, just won the 2012 Thurber Prize for American Humor.  For a break from debates, ads, deficits, the 47 percent and more, here are some previous years’ winners you can sample as well.

Half Empty by David Rakoff (2011)

How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely (2010)

Lamentations of the Father by Ian Frazier (2009)

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle (2008)

My Lucky Star by Joe Keenan (2007)