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About Anne Bartholomew

Mix one part casual anthropologist with two parts avid reader, add the occasional culinary inspiration and a penchant for haiku, and what you end up with is Anne Bartholomew. When she's not working her way through the books on her nightstand, Anne tests new recipes and wishes she could write like Billy Collins.

Posts by Anne

Nora Ephron on Remembering Nothing (and Everything)

I Remember NothingI don't remember much about Book Expo America, now that it's November, but my interview with Nora Ephron at the Knopf offices is one of the few exceptions. She was, quite immediately, hilarious and self-effacing, and for some reason I thought she'd also be tall and commanding, but she's actually rather petite and pixie-ish: she fluttered into the conference room where we met, a bundle of energy with a charming grin, slipped off her shoes and right away began chatting about the challenges of finding shoes that fit and how isn't it true that everyone just looks forward to taking them off anyway? (It is.) This kind of spirited, tangential chatter is exactly what animates her new book, I Remember Nothing, and what makes it such a delight to read (and hear). She's an effortless storyteller, with--as anyone who's seen her films will attest--a terrific feel for dialogue, both of which shine through in this untraditional memoir, a collection of sidelong glances at experiences both formative and fleeting--and always funny. You can listen in to our talk here, or read it below.  

Amazon:  So, is it wrong to call your new book a memoir, since you remember nothing?

Ephron:  It is sort of a memoir. I mean, I'm at the point in my life when I truly remember nothing and I'm not kidding. I mean, have we met? I don't know. But it seem to me that I might write a few things that were memoirs, the ones I still remember anyway. You know, the older you get the more amazing holes exist in your memory. And so I thought I'd better get down what I could before it was all gone!

Amazon:  Is there a particular essay in that collection that was the genesis for the rest of the book?

Ephron: I think that I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I honestly remember nothing. That I was in amazing places and if you ask me about them, I remember the most trivial details. And it's practically embarrassing except that I think it's probably fairly common. But I look back on my life, you know, I was at all these amazing events like The Beatles, right? I covered The Beatles! It was probably the moment when the 60s began. It was certainly, it may have been the beginning of the last half of the 20th century! It was a landmark moment. And I went to the Ed Sullivan show and stood in the back with my notebook because I was a newspaper reporter at the time. And all I can remember is a bunch of girls screaming. I couldn't hear them, I remember nothing at all about the rest of it. So, you know, that's me and The Beatles.

Continue reading "Nora Ephron on Remembering Nothing (and Everything)" »

Omni Daily News

March Is Modernist Cuisine Month: Nathan Myhrvold announced today that his new cookbook--a six-volume, 2400-page endeavor--will be moving out from a December release to March of next year. (Our take? It's well worth the wait.)

Unlike: I guess my beef with the news that the New Oxford American Dictionary now includes text- and IM- lexicon is that all those acronyms seem like they would be 1) discernible in context, and 2) not words, but shorthand for words. Is shorthand the new language? LMK.

Now's the time to listen: Having just heard Jonathan Franzen read from Freedom this week, I'm reminded that there's a very unique pleasure in listening to a book as it's read to you. If you've never tried audiobooks before, take a look at's great low-risk offer for a free 30-day trial that gets you two free digital audiobook downloads of your choosing.

"Dead people’s stuff, the stuff we’re all made of." Rob Sheffield wrote about music and memory for Paper Cuts recently, contributing a playlist which--as is true with everything he writes--is incredibly fun to read and has reminded me of the fun one he did for us this summer for Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. I think you can cruise around to it any old time, though I guess it's still summer somewhere (just not here, or  Brooklyn.)

The Best Books of September

We debate long and hard every month to decide what books to call best, but September (and October!) are always the heavyweights. It's all about the fiction this month, and a wide range of it too, with Scarlett Thomas's Our Tragic Universe in the spotlight. Have a look at our Best Books of the Month reviews below (including our favorite read for teens and two picks for kids) and let us know what else is on your reading list for September. 

 Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas: Scarlett Thomas is a nimble writer, joyfully unseating and upholding cozy fiction conventions as she builds a story around Meg Carpenter, a writer who--as a genre fiction ghostwriter, book reviewer, and writing coach--has immersed herself in every nook and cranny of her craft to keep herself afloat... and to stay at arm's length from the "real" novel she just can't get her head around.

 Skippy Dies by Paul Murray: Seabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school's "brand" and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It's the boys--and one boy in particular--that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick.

To the End of the Land by David GrossmanTo the End of the Land is a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother's lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight. At the same time, it's joyously and almost painfully alive, full to the point of rupture with the emotions and the endless quotidian details of a few deeply imagined lives.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett: Welcome to the 20th century as you've never seen it. At over 1,000 pages, Fall of Giants delivers all the elements that fans of Ken Follett have come to treasure: historical accuracy, richly developed characters, and a sweeping yet intimate portrait of a past world that you'll fully inhabit before the first chapter is through.

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon: In mathematics, the principle of the Golden Mean refers to a system of numbers in which each new number is the sum of the previous two, poetically illustrated by the chambers of a nautilus shell. And so Annabel Lyon’s debut novel refers to lives that grow bigger as they unfold--in this case, two of the most notable lives to ever be lived, those of Alexander the Great and his tutor, Aristotle.

Room by Emma Donoghue: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son.

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal: At the heart of Edmund de Waal's strange and graceful family memoir is a one-of-a-kind inherited collection of ornamental Japanese carvings known as netsuke. The netsuke are tiny and tactile--they sit in the palm of your hand--and de Waal is drawn to them as "small, tough explosions of exactitude." He's also drawn to the story behind them, and for years he put aside his own work as a world-renowned potter and curator to uncover the rich and tragic family history of which the carvings are one of the few remaining legacies.

Best Book for Teens: Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin: A faerie world is about to die--and one ordinary girl can change its fate. When Phoebe meets Mallory Tolliver, she is irresistibly drawn to her, despite Mallory's odd ways. The two form a sister-like bond until Mallory's handsome brother, Ryland, appears during their junior year, and Phoebe finds herself intensely attracted to him.

Best Books for Kids: Bonny Becker's adorable new picture book, A Bedtime for Bear, and The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, a highly imaginative new middle grade novel from the author of The Spiderwick Chronicles that richly illustrates a bold new fantasy world.

Curious about more Best of picks? Check out our August favorites, and see what made our Best Books of the Year... So Far lists. --Anne

Omni Daily News

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010: This morning the legendary and often controversial owner of the New York Yankees died at his home in Tampa, FL. Since he purchased the franchise in 1973, the Yankees have become one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball, earning 11 pennants and 7 World Series titles. Among the customer reviews (nearly all 5 stars) of Bill Madden's recent biography--Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball--one reader notes: "Certainly, there will be no one quite like George Steinbrenner again."

Move over, m-dash: Says the Millions, in an article designed to delight unrelenting grammarians: the colon is a "paragraphical Red Bull."

If you need a reason to return to the classics... Adam Langer's sobering look at the 21st century fiction writer's plight ("Why We Lie") may be just the motivation you're looking for. I'm not convinced that this generation of writers is boring (he notes that "our generation never invaded Normandy" which is, I agree, somehow more noble than a generation raised on "Survivor"), but perhaps his point is that writers aren't boring, lately, but bored?

Movers & shakers: Are beachgoers getting serious about their shell-seeking? The Book of Shells ascends our daily Movers & Shakers list to the #2 spot.

PS: I write like Leo Tolstoy. How about you?

Super Sensational Satirical Selling Piece

What's so remarkable about Gary Shteyngart? For one thing, how perfectly he pulled off this Borat-esque trailer for his latest novel, Super Sad True Love Story (available July 27). The show here is totally inside-baseball candy for publishing types, but--in response to some blogosphere feedback I've come across--I don't think the cameos (or any of the literary send-ups) make it too clubby for readers to appreciate the laughs--which are exactly the kind they'll find in Shteyngart's brand of storytelling. You may not know what the new book is about, but tell me after seeing this that you're not just a little more curious to have a look at it?

PS: True or false: James Franco is actually a student of Gary Shteyngart's.

Omni Daily News

A true Citizen Soldier: Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Rick Atkinson has been awarded the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award, in recognition of "his life and professional dedication to military history." [via GalleyCat]

The New Yorker v. Telegraph: who are your favorites under 40? In a welcome spirit of rivalry and righteousness, Telegraph has responded to The New Yorker's much-debated "20-Under-40" list of writers to watch with their own roundup of promising young UK authors ("based unapologetically on talent"). They also give a dose of attention to Granta's list-making endeavors, saying that all together these forecasts are "interesting as much for what they reveal about a country’s fiction as about the concerns of a writing generation." There are a handful of recognizable names there for me (and I suspect maybe a handful more for Tom, our most devoted reader and maker of lists)--like Chris Cleave, Evie Wyld, Zadie Smith (Is it me, or does it seem that Smith is always in lists like this one?), Kamila Shamsie, and China Mieville--but the person I was most excited to see on their list was Scarlett Thomas, who I'm reading now for the first time. Her newest book, Our Tragic Universe, releases here in September. [via The Second Pass]

Moving & shaking: An NPR spot today moves finance historian Niall Ferguson's new book, High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg, up to #2 in our daily Movers & Shakers list.

Omni Daily News

Less is more: The Wall Street Journal takes us to Lee Child's sleek, small Manhattan apartment(s) and reports that Child "believes books make a room visually chaotic." Note to self: do not ever let Lee Child see cubicle.

The neverending scroll
: Maddie Chambers's dollhouse replica of Bilbo Baggins's Hobbit Hole is obsessive and wonderful. (What would Sloane Crosley make of this?) [via Vulture]

A far cry from Forks: Kristen Stewart is set to star in a much-anticipated film version of On the Road.

Moving & shaking: Peter Buffett's Life Is What You Make It nears the top of our daily list, thanks to a pretty enjoyable recent NPR segment.

Omni Daily News

Ridiculously Sung Synopsis: Lit Drift launches a new video series, featuring "writers, musicians, actors, and other creative types to summarize their favorite novels. In 60 seconds or less. With no time to prepare." They've launched with The Great Gatsby: "Watch out for the big guy." [via GalleyCat]

Meloy, Meloy!: HarperCollins has signed Colin Meloy of The Decemberists (and Tarkio) to write a new children's book series called Wildwood. With illustrations by Lemony Snicket artist Carson Ellis, I have to expect that these books will be equal parts eerie and clever. MobyLives quips about who to approach for early quotes: Myla Goldberg, yes! And maybe They Might Be Giants?

The Prodigal Reader: Nick Hornby resurrects his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column in The Believer (subscription only): "I have decided to vent my spleen by embarking on a series of books that, I hope, will be of no interest whatsoever to the readership of this magazine." I don't know about that: these histories of Britain keep coming across my screen (and I can't stop loving their covers). [via The Second Pass]

Taking aim at The Imperfectionists: New York magazine skewers Christopher Buckley's "raviest rave" for this weekend's NYTBR cover feature (and our Spotlight pick for April). Also of note: a bit from 2007 on what to expect when a debut novel gets the cover review: "does a cover slot guarantee future success?"

Moving & shaking: One year ago today, The New Yorker briefly noted Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada--"the book has the suspense of a John le Carré novel, and offers a visceral, chilling portrait of the distrust that permeated everyday German life during the war." The paperback edition is now in our daily Movers & Shakers list at #2.

2010 James Beard Winners Announced

What are the two main ingredients of Irish cooking? Heat and water, the old saying goes. But skeptics about Irish fare are in for a treat with Colman Andrews's The Country Cooking of Ireland: awarded Cookbook of the Year at last night's James Beard Awards, it's a big, beautiful romp through the culinary treasures native to the Emerald Isle. Winners in 11 categories were awarded at the ceremony, featuring a delectable and much-tweeted feast prepared by JBF Award Winners John Besh, Suzanne Goin, and Karen DeMasco, among others.

2010 James Beard Award Winners

American Cooking: Real Cajun by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe
Baking and Dessert: Baking by James Peterson
Beverage: Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology by Randall Grahm
Cooking from a Professional Point of View:
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate
General Cooking: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Healthy Focus: Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Thomas
International: The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
Photography: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky
Reference and Scholarship: Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita
Single Subject: Pasta Sfoglia by by Ron and Colleen Suhanosky with Susan Simon
Writing and Literature:
Save the Deli by David Sax

Omni Daily News

Whale watching: Every day after work, Ohio librarian Matt Kish illustrates a passage from each page of his Signet Classic copy of Moby-Dick. This is extremely cool. So far he has made it to page 220. Read more about his project at The Book Bench.

Authors getting younger: Harlan Coben joins the ranks of James Patterson, John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, and more bestselling authors who have started writing mysteries for young readers. His new 3-book series will begin in 2011 and feature guest appearances from notable Coben characters Myron Bolitar and Win Lockwood. [Via GalleyCat]

Roll out the red carpet: Melville House is sponsoring the first annual Moby Awards for best (and worst) book trailers. (The Oscars meet the Razzies, sorta. Minus the traditional celebrities.) Nomination categories seem rudimentary but right, ranging from budget considerations to notable appearances (by authors and others) and "Least Likely to Sell a Book." I think we have candidates for all of those, should we decide to vote!

Moving & shaking: We're all about covers today. The jacket reveal for Glenn Beck's The Overton Window (available June 15) sends this debut thriller to #4 on our list.

2010 IACP Winners Announced

Congratulations to Rose Levy Beranbaum, winner of the IACP Cookbook of the Year Award for her lavish and luscious baking book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes (also one of our top 10 favorites of last year). Winners in 19 categories were announced last night at the 2010 IACP Awards Gala (held this year in Portland, OR), now celebrating its 25th year of honoring cooks, authors, and culinary artists. Ruth Reichl--a winner this year for Gourmet Today--and New York Times food writer and Spoon Fed author Kim Severson hosted the event.

2010 Winners:

Cookbook of the Year: Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Berenbaum
General: Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander
American: My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh
Baking (Savory or Sweet): Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Single Subject: Go Fish by Al Brown
Compilations: Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl
Children, Youth and Family: Williams-Sonoma Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey and Williams-Sonoma
Health and Special Diet: The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
International: Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
Wine, Beer and Spirits: World Whiskey by Charles Maclean
Culinary History: Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making by Jeri Quinzio
Literary Food Writing: Waste by Tristram Stuart
Food Photography and Styling: Williams-Sonoma Cooking for Friends by Alison Attenborough and Jamie Kimm
Food and Beverage Reference/Technical: The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute
Professional Kitchens: Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft by The Culinary Institute of America
Chefs and Restaurants: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Design Awards: Thai Street Food by David Thompson (originally published in Australia, US edition coming this September) and Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson
First Book (The Julia Child Award): The New Portuguese Table by David Leite
People's Choice Award: The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson

Omni Daily News

Salinger Says: A graceful, bittersweet story by Roger Lathbury about how an opportunity to publish J.D. Salinger's final work suddenly slipped away.This sounds like a project that would have been ripe for McSweeney's treatment.

Prized poetry: The annual Griffin Poetry Prize, which recognizes poets internationally and in Canada, announced its shortlist today. This year's prize purse doubles in value to $200,000 in recognition of the Prize's 10th anniversary.

Help the Tournament of Audiobooks Gather steam: Today begins the final round of voting as Audible's audiobook match-up draws to a close. Choose your pick for the Winner by April 12.

Time for a Facebreak? Edan Lepucki at the Millions says--rather persuasively--yes, and calls out some interesting reads in support of un-networking, include Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget (a Best of the Month pick in January) and the forthcoming The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.

Moving & shaking: It looks like a mild case of Twitter has moved Inside the Outbreaks by Mark Pendergrast up our daily list by 40,819%.

April's Best Books

Our Best Books of the Month selections in April take us all over the Eaarth, from the desks of foreign correspondents in Rome to postwar London's emergent Bohemian art scene; across the Atlantic to mid-19th century America, to a group of friends in suburban Chicago, and to a fateful day in Memphis. Have a peek at our reviews, excerpted below (including two extra picks for younger readers). In our insatiable search for what to read next, we're eager to hear what you're reading this month, too. --Anne

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (our Spotlight selection for April): "Printing presses whirr, ashtrays smolder, and the endearing complexity of humanity plays out in Tom Rachman's debut novel. Set against the backdrop of a fictional English-language newspaper based in Rome, it begins as a celebration of the beloved and endangered role of newspapers and the original 24/7 news cycle. Yet Rachman pushes beyond nostalgia by crafting an apologue that better resembles a modern-day Dubliners than a Mad Men exploration of the halcyon past." --Dave Callanan

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides: "It's bold to start an account of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. without a single mention of James Earl Ray. But in Hellhound on His Trail, Ray's absence is essential--in his place, Hampton Sides traces the alter egos Ray created after escaping from prison and beginning his haphazard journey toward Memphis. Sides meticulously constructs parallel portraits of two very different men--one, the larger-than-life figurehead of the Civil Rights movement; the other, a nondescript loner with a spurious and violent history, whose identity was as fluid as his motives." --Lynette Mong

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell: "Maggie O'Farrell has a singular knack for sensing the magnetic fields that push and pull people in love, and in The Hand That First Held Mine, she summons those invisible forces to tell two stories that inevitably collide in a remarkably taut and unsentimental whole that embraces the unpredictable, both in love and in life." --Anne Bartholomew

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan: "At heart, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about a couple of kids figuring out how to be themselves. Two of those kids happen to have the same name, and not much in common outside of that, but their serendipitous friendship sets the stage for a much larger, braver, and more candid story than the simplicity of the plot might suggest." --Anne Bartholomew

Eaarth by Bill McKibben: "McKibben pulls no punches, and swaths of this book can feel bleak, but his dry wit and pragmatic optimism refuse to yield to despair. Focusing our attention on inspiring communities of "functional independence" arising around the world, he offers galvanizing possibilities for keeping our humanity intact as the world we've known breaks down." --Mari Malcolm

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey: "Parrot and Olivier are a mid-nineteenth-century Oscar and Felix who represent the highest and lowest social registers of the Old World, yet find themselves unexpectedly pushed together in the New World. This odd couple’s stark differences in class and background, outlook and attitude—which are explored in alternating chapters narrated by each—are an ingenious conceit for presenting to contemporary readers the unique social experiment that was democracy in the early years of America." --Lauren Nemroff

Wilson by Daniel Clowes: "Each page is a stand-alone vignette, in the familiar newspaper comics rhythm of setup, setup, setup, punch line: like Garfield, say, if Jon were a foul-mouthed incipient felon (and drawn with the tenderly grotesque genius of Clowes). The gags are the sort that stick in your throat rather than go down easy, and together they add up to a life that's just barely open to the possibility of wresting oneself out of the repetitions of hostility and failure." --Tom Nissley

We the Children by Andrew Clements: "Sixth-grader Benjamin Pratt is weathering a few different storms in We the Children, Andrew Clements's newest series for the middle-school set. His parents have just split up, his school--a landmark in his old New England sailing town--is about to be torn down, and the janitor sneaks him a mysterious gold coin...hours before he dies unexpectedly. The coin, of course, sets the story in motion, leading Ben and his friend Jill towards untold adventures. It's the perfect read for kids who dig school and aren't too shy (yet) to admit it." --Anne Bartholomew

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood: "Give Goodnight Moon and Goodnight Gorilla the night off and pick up this new bedtime classic. The Quiet Book is a pitch-perfect picture book by Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska that will quell the pre-bedtime crazies. With the softest of opening salvos--"There are many kinds of quiet"--the story reflects all the different peaceful moments during the day, like "Coloring in the lines quiet," "Hide and seek quiet," and of course "Bedtime kiss quiet." The repetitive pattern of the text paired with softly colored illustrations of adorable stuffed animals is better than a lullaby. --Lauren Nemroff

April: Cruel and Sweet

For the last hour or so I have been racking my brain and the Interwebs (ok, mostly the Interwebs) to confirm what I was convinced was indisputable: before T.S. Eliot made April cruel, Chaucer did. Right? Almost. Here those first few lines from "The Waste Land" stare at me, listless and gloomy:

April is the cruellest month, breeding     
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing     
Memory and desire, stirring     
Dull roots with spring rain   

And I have to find what I'm looking for. How did Chaucer say it? And where? Fast forward through several dead-end CTRL+F searches until I decide to just read "The Canterbury Tales" (novel idea, that). Thankfully, it only took some closer attention to the prologue's opening to end the inquiry:

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower

Not cruel. Sweet. Sweet. *slaps forehead*

This leaves me mildly satisfied still (in spite of being wrong to begin with) because now I'm thinking about what a preposterous idea it is to say April is cruel. April is welcome relief, full of promise, and riotously new. It is. It must be! Eliot's declaration challenges all that's dear about that notion: swiftly, creepily, and (if you keep reading) rather persuasively. I won't pretend any expertise with regard to "The Waste Land," but this afternoon I was reminded how much it gets under my skin. So. This weekend, I will read some more poetry, some that is perhaps not so haunting. Or daunting. And I will take April, cruel or sweet. --Anne

Old Media Monday: Reviewing the Reviewers (The Mardi* Edition)



New York Times:

Washington Post:

  • David Masiel on Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes: "Ironically, the best parts of Matterhorn aren't the battle scenes, which are at times rendered with a literal precision that borders on mechanical. Rather it is Marlantes's treatment of pre-combat tension and rear-echelon politics. It's these in-between spaces that create the real terror of Matterhorn: military and racial politics; fragging that threatens the unit with implosion; and night watch in the jungle, where tigers are as dangerous as the NVA."
  • Bill Gifford on About a Mountain by John D'Agata: "The writer he most resembles is Joan Didion circa 1978, only instead of Me-decade California, his subject is Vegas. And suicide. And, quite possibly, the end of human civilization."
  • Dennis Drabelle on Caught by Harlan Coben: "For all its strands of mystery, the book offers little suspense and few characters who escape being caricatures. But these shortcomings don't detract seriously from the impressiveness of the windup toy that Coben, like a hobbyist with a machine shop in his basement, has soldered together for the reader's amusement."

The LA Times:

  • Eryn Loeb on Something Red by Jennifer Gilmore: "Rarely does anyone say or do something without it being followed by a memory. This is surely part of the larger point, that our pasts precede us, messing with our beliefs and choices in ways we can't always control. Something Red may be uneven, but these characters are crafted with care, conviction and a little self-consciousness -- which seems just as it ought to be."
  • Tim Rutten on A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks: "Although A Week in December is a novel -- at times, a comedy -- of contemporary manners, Faulks' preoccupation is the inner vacuum that those manners and frenetic activities conceal -- a lack of human connection, the contemporary urge to supplant the real with the virtual."
  • Susan Salter Reynolds on The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt: "There's no end to the memoirs of illness out there, but this one is different. There's a nakedness to it -- Hustvedt reveals as much about herself as she can, but it is not everything because she does not know everything. Some critical piece is missing. ...something ghostly still walks in these pages. Something beautiful and ghostly and unexplained."

The Guardian:

  • James Buchan on The Big Short by Michael Lewis: "In his new book, Lewis is neither obnoxious nor charming. The skies have fallen. The market Wall Street created in the housing debt of the very poorest Americans, so-called "sub-prime" mortgage bonds and various derivative securities, which fell to bits in 2007 and all but engulfed the world in 2008, is the greatest financial fraud since the 18th century. Men and women who once made us laugh now make us shudder. In other words, The Big Short is not half the fun of Liar's Poker, but it is more important."

(*for our Paris readers)

Omni Daily News

The Short New Twilight Book by Stephenie Meyer: A novella linked to the Twilight series will release on June 5, no doubt to the unmitigated delight of Twi-hards everywhere. From PW: "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner tells the story of a newborn vampire introduced in Eclipse, who will also appear in the film version of Eclipse, scheduled to be released on June 30. The book was originally envisioned as part of Meyer's The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide." Meyer will donate $1 for every book sold to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. She's also making the novella available to read for free online, beginning June 7, saying: "You all have bought a ton of my books, and I wanted to give you this story as a gift." [Read more at Publishers Weekly]

In more new book news: We're delighted to read that Colum McCann--of Let the Great World Spin/National Book Award/Amazon Best Book of 2009 fame-- is under contract for two new novels with Random House: "The first novel, tentatively titled Thirteen Ways of Looking, explores a murder from multiple points of view, and is in part inspired by the Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."[via GalleyCat]

Down to the Final Four: Audible's Tournament of Audiobooks enters Round 4 today: it's down to The Help and Under the Dome v. Always Looking Up and The Gathering Storm. Voting for this round closes April 5.

Moving & shaking: California gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner's Mount Pleasant hits #1 on our daily list.

Omni Daily News

Play books! For those of you less invested in the basketball brackets, is sponsoring its third annual Tournament of Audiobooks--contenders in four categories are matched up every Tuesday in a round of voting to determine which author-narrator team will be the champion. Check out Audible's weekly recaps to get caught up and cast your votes for the quarterfinalists. Round 3 titles posted today:

War Dances wins the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, beating out Barbara Kingsolver, Lorrie Moore, Lorraine Lopez, and Colson Whitehead for the $15,000 prize. Author Sherman Alexie is also a National Book Award winner in Young People's Literature for his 2007 novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Whatever, WoW: Macy Halford is precisely right that the Montreal-based Bite Size Edits is like a video game for writers. Halford is a few levels beyond me--I'm still in the voyeur stage, clicking through to see the range of styles and sentences up for scrutiny and who's posting them--it's not just authors. (You have my permission to edit this news item.)

Big news in Comictown: Bryan O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim's Final Hour--the sixth and final book in the series--ascends our Movers & Shakers list to #1 (it was previously unranked), thanks to a bright, shiny announcement from Oni Press. Read more at Radiomaru.

The 2010 IACP Cookbook Award Finalists, Half-Baked

This just in: the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has released the 2010 finalists for its annual cookbook award. They've taken a different approach to the announcement this year, launching the list initially via their website's Amazon store, with no category distinctions yet, so stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, we're very glad to see that some of our personal favorites of 2009 also made their list:

Still, our inside source wonders: where's Momofuku at? --Anne

Omni Daily News

The golden age of classics: Behold: I think this beats all. I'm not sure if it's the final cover (see our page), but it's got my vote. What will they think of next? (via The Book Bench)

The Bridge to the White House: The New Yorker's David Remnick will write a biography of President Obama, releasing April 9 from Knopf. No page on our site yet, but Sonny Mehta notes that "The Bridge reveals not only his character, but also his trials, motivations, and perspectives in a way that a memoir, even a remarkable one, cannot." (via GalleyCat)

A new kind of bathroom reading? Definitely more sanitary. (via Abe Books)

2009 Book Prize Finalists: The LA Times has announced its annual prize finalists, this year in 10 categories (adding graphic novels for the first time). Winners will be awarded on April 23. We're happy to see some of our own favorites for the year represented (full list available here).

Moving & shaking: Helen Simonson's debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (available March 2), vaults up our daily list to the #2 slot.

Good Books vs. Bad Dates: Maria Murnane Weighs In

In case your Valentine's weekend plans are still in progress, we've enlisted the help of guest blogger and AmazonEncore author Maria Murnane (whose new rom-com novel, Perfect on Paper, just released this week) to provide some literary inspiration for a different sort of date:

Ah, good ol’ Valentine’s Day is here again. If you’ve ever complained about being single, especially in February, then you’ve heard the following from your (non-single) friends: You’ve got to put yourself out there. Be more open-minded. You’ll never meet anyone if you stay home. You’ve got to have a positive attitude. Give people a chance. Etc., etc., etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it! But have you ever been on such a bad date that you wish you’d just stayed home and read a book?

If your answer is yes, then Honey, you are not alone!

Yes, it takes work to find the right person, unless of course you’re one of the lucky ones who meet the love of their life in college or at work.  But for the rest of us who are forced to endure the singles scene for the foreseeable future, once in a while we have a date that makes us want to throw in the towel, or just throw up. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, here are the top 5 titles I’d recommend for the single guy or girl who is JUST SAYING NO and just staying home:

  1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. History, romance, culture, religion, suspense, it’s all in there. It’s LONG, but it’s so entertaining! And remember, it’s not about just one night. Pillars of the Earth will be with you for many nights beyond February 14.

  2. McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland by Pete McCarthy. This book is so damned funny that you’ll be too busy laughing to think about the fact that you’re dateless and alone.

  3. Beach Music by Pat Conroy. This man has such an incredible way with words that you’ll get swept up in the story and forget you’re reading. It’s truly remarkable. Plus you’ll feel way better about your life when you realize that you aren’t half as messed up as these people are.

  4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Okay this is also a really long book, but it’s SO WORTH reading, especially if you are questioning what is really important in life. Read it! You will not be sorry.

  5. Add More Ing To Your Life by Gabrielle Bernstein. Okay this is a shameless plug because I’m friends with Gabrielle, but I swear it’s a great book! It’s about how life (and love) is what you make it to be, something we all need a reminder of now and again, especially on February 14.

Happy reading! No matter how you choose to spend it, I wish you ALL a happy Valentine’s Day! --Maria Murnane

Maria Murnane worked in public relations for nearly 10 years before finally admitting to herself that she wasn't happy. Knowing she would be miserable if she stayed on the career path she was on, she quit her job, moved to Argentina, and began writing a funny novel torn from the hilarious pages of her life experiences with friendship, work, and dating.

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

December 2014

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