Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Night -- April 23, 2012

On April 23, 2012, the world of book lovers will be celebrating World Book Night.  On that night, 25,000 book lovers across the U.S. will be giving away 500,000 books for free from a list of thirty books (complete list is here).  The point is simple -- to promote the love of reading and books.

Why April 23?  It is the International Day of the Book (who knew?) and the day on which both Shakespeare and Cervantes both died (April 23, 1616).  In the Catalan region of Spain, the day is celebrated by giving a book and a flower to a loved one.  (I'll need to get flowers for my wife.  If she is reading this closely, she'll understand why!)

Yours truly signed up as a volunteer and I am happy to be handing out copies of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.  Two nights ago, I picked up a box of 20 copies of Bel Canto at my local Barnes and Noble.  My job is simple -- give away a great book to friends and colleagues.  If you are interested in receiving a copy of the book (for free of course) drop me a note and let me know.  If we can coordinate an easy drop off/pick up system, I'd love to get you a copy that day or shortly thereafter.  I have delayed reading the book so I can enjoy it with everyone else at the same time.  I have read and reviewed Ms. Patchett's recent book, State of Wonder, which I enjoyed.  A blurb about Bel Canto from Amazon is as follows:

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds, and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

If you want a copy and would like to participate in this fun day, let me know.  Even if you don't get a copy of the book, celebrate World Book Night by reading any great book!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tournament of Books; Pulitzer Prize Let Down

It has been a while since I have been able to post so there is a bit of catching up to do.

The Tournament of Books is now complete.  In the final round The Sisters Brothers took on Open City.  I tried reading the former and loved the latter.  The Sisters Brothers won decisively.  It was a great tournament.  I'll have to give The Sister Brothers another chance.

In other book competition news, the Pulitzer Prize for literature was announced this week.  The three finalists were (click the titles for my reviews):

Amazingly, the Pulitzer committee could not agree on a winner so no one won!  Author Ann Patchett had a lot to say about the committee's shortcoming in a NYT's piece (click here).  Having read two of the three nominees and being familiar with the legend of the last, I'm surprised and very disappointed.  The committee is comprised of three judges and a consensus of two of three wins.  Each judge must have been locked into one candidate and refused to budge.  Meanwhile a year goes by without an award, without recognizing great literature and without giving literature a much needed publicity boost.

Finally, when it comes to recently read books, there are two that I'd add to any reading list:
Open City by Teju Cole (simply gorgeous)
Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau (thought provoking and worthwhile)

In the non-fiction world, brace yourself for the forthcoming fourth volume of Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson series.  If you have not read Caro before you have missed the greatest master of biography.  The NYT Magazine did a terrific piece on him (click here).

Meanwhile, don't let the stacks of books overrun you and happy reading.