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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

Omni Daily News

Hungry for Hunger Games? Fans of Suzanne Collins's bestselling series will be happy to know that the third and final book now has a name--Mockingjay--and a cover. No dirt on the story, but USA Today notes that mockingjays are "symbols of resistance."

Brevity is the soul of wit (not love): Last week's Book Bench writes about a topic that's long lived in my mind--e-mail flirting--and I thought it was worth raising up as we head this weekend towards the Year's Most Over-anticipated Material Celebration of Love . It's true I'd much rather receive a witty, charming e-mail from a potential paramour (or an existing one) than a dozen roses, a box of chocolates, or a diamond ring. What I don't understand is people who wouldn't! It's also true, according to one commenter, that "sometimes emails are more interesting than the people who write them."

Kirkus Reviews joins an unlikely empire: GalleyCat reports that Herb Simon--shopping mall developer, owner of the Indiana Pacers, and voracious reader--now owns Kirkus Reviews, which will retain its current editorial leadership but be married to Simon's other retail business under the rubric Kirkus Media.

Moving & shaking: I suspect tonight's Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains premiere is responsible for moving Ben Sherwood's The Survivors' Club towards the top of our Movers & Shakers list (still available on Kindle).

Omni Daily Crush: "Bloodroot" by Amy Greene

Bloodroot isn't exactly an old-fashioned story, but it reads like one, and that's a large part of its allure for me. I suspect in part it's because there's a timelessness to its place, deep in Tennessee's Appalachian mountains. The novel spans most of the 20th century, but there's little attention to the passage of time, which rolls quietly forward as her characters--especially Myra Lamb, who for most of the novel is a central figure--come into focus. We come to know Myra largely through tandem voices: her story begins with her grandmother, Byrdie--easily my favorite narrator, she's at once feisty and wise and full of charm--and Doug Cotter, a childhood friend of Myra's who grew to love her, and then moves on to her twin children, Johnny and Laura Odom. Myra herself doesn't speak until the final quarter of the book (which is concluded, to my surprise much less darkly, by her once-vicious husband), and by that point the aura around her strikes you as mystic and nearly legendary. It's a technique that serves the plot well, as it's in Myra's lone chapter that we're able to see where all the nerves of her life--and of the lives of her family--connect.

Amy Greene is a talented stylist, and I found myself thinking that there's something of William Faulkner to the way she's constructed a story that spans generations, particularly when those generations are so tied to a place where nature rules as much as nurture. (Fortunately, there is less Faulkner in her language, which is not a slight to either of them: I'm fairly convinced that no one can use language like he did.) Her prose is thoughtful and restrained, and there's a lightness to it--even in the bleakest moments--that lets her characters develop in their own good time, with little cost to the novel's pace. I read this as if it were a drug (that's a good thing) and selected it as one of our Best Books of the Month in January. There is no voice in this novel that doesn't know how to tell a story, and perhaps that is the quality that makes me describe Bloodroot as old-fashioned: it's the kind of book that draws you in to a place you've never been but that feels intimate. The more I think about this book, the more I like it, and that in itself makes me happy. It's good to be reminded of the fact that a well-told story stays with you, demonstrating its own uncanny magic. --Anne

Recommended for fans of Carson McCullers and Myla Goldberg

Omni Daily News

The thrill of the Quill: Gillian Flynn's Dark Places and Dan Simmons's Drood win this year's Black Quill Award for Dark Genre Novel of the Year [via GalleyCat].

Sentence to sentence: The Wall Street Journal talks with former Washington Post investigative journalist Lorraine Adams about her new novel, The Room and the Chair (one of our Best Books of February).

Book Salutation: The LA Times reports that Neal Pollack plans to read from his new book, Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude, at yoga classes instead of bookstores. (They're skeptical.)

Moving & shaking: Deep discounts drive children's books like Charlie and Lola: Say Cheese! and Starlight Goes to Town to the top of our daily Movers & Shakers list.

Omni Daily News

And the nomination goes to: This morning's Oscar news includes Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay nods for Nick Hornby's An Education, Best Picture for The Blind Side (based on the book by Michael Lewis), and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations for Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire) and Up in the Air (based on the novel by Walter Kirn). Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer were also nominated for their performances in The Last Station, based on the book by Jay Parini. The winners will be announced on Sunday, March 7.

2010 Crawford Award: Jedediah Berry's debut novel, The Manual of Detection, wins this year's Crawford Award, presented annually to a new fantasy writer by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

The feminine mystique: Claire Messud resurrects the question of why women authors aren't as widely recognized as men by industry awards. Her conclusion?  "Our cultural prejudices are so deeply engrained that we aren’t even aware of them: arguably, it’s not that we think men are better, it’s that we don’t think of women at all."

Up and Out: An NPR spot for Randi Epstein's Get Me Out moves the book up to #4 on our daily list of Movers & Shakers.

Omni Daily News

Jaipur, not the Javits Center: Lots of reports today on the 5th Annual Jaipur Literature Festival in India's "Pink City," by all (exciting) reports a writer's writing fair. This year's event highlights debuts by Ali Sethi, Tania James, and Tishani Doshi. [see also: NYT coverage]

Remembering Kafka: profiles pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, the last living acquaintance of Franz Kafka who recalls him as "a slightly strange man" but "an excellent writer, with a lovely style, the kind you read effortlessly."

What's mine, what's ours: Are you a private reader, like Virginia Woolf, or do you shout your favorite books from the rooftops of the internet? Motoko Rich explores why some people keep their books like secrets (and why others don't).

Body movin': Medical correspondent and gynecologist Dr. Jennifer Ashton's The Body Scoop for Girls ranks #379 (an increase of over 7,000%) on our daily Movers & Shakers list.

Omni Crush of the Decade: Recommended for Me

If I had to write a tag cloud for the last ten years of my professional life, books would be about that size. Working in publishing has maybe been my most defining characteristic as an adult--or, at least, the greatest-common-denominator one, because just about everyone can and will talk to me about what they're reading and what to read next. It's part of my job to recommend books and help people find the books they want--certainly that is one of the best perks of what we do at Amazon--but I love getting recommendations as much as giving them. Sometimes I love them even more, because it's a great gift when you get tipped off to something you might otherwise have missed. So what I offer you here is a shortlist of books released in the last decade that were handed to me (plus a pick of mine from months past). Now I'm handing them off to you, with one request: if you've read any of these, tell me what else you'd think I'd like. I've got a whole new decade to fill up. I expect the next 10 years to be full of pre-2010 books, if the last 10--chock full of 90s books--are any indication.  --Anne

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman: This is a great moment-in-time book for the Aughts. It will remind you, perhaps, of the things you used to talk about with your friends before they went off and got married and bought houses. (Stuff like the movie Memento and what new CDs you want to burn and how great The X-Files used to be.) I'm not sure how well it stands the test of time, but just flipping through it I was laughing my face off. (See also: Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, which I still crush.)

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Pulling this off the shelf I found a boarding pass for a flight from Washington, D.C. to Seattle--my on-the-way-home book from Book Expo. This is exactly the kind of book you can (and want) to get lost in: it's aching, but it's also full of humor and vision, and it had a wonderful narrative structure I didn't expect. I also think that it weren't for Fun Home, there'd be no Stitches.

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: The premise of this book sounds preposterous--a huge lake monster dwelling in an upstate New York town as old as the hills dies all of a sudden--but it's an event that gives way to a richly imagined and entertaining history of a town, a family, and a young woman who discovers she's ready to come home. It reminded me a little of John Irving.

The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen: I read this book at what I believe to be the true peak of Franzen-mania, pre-Oprah, and I read it with the expectation of hating it well beyond page 101 (which most reviewers said would be the point at which I'd love it). They ended up being right. I've read two novels in the last ten years that live convincingly in those twisted, strange places that develop in families--this is one of them, The Northern Clemency is the other.

Billy Collins Live
by Billy Collins: This is an audiobook, a wonderfully produced recording of Billy Collins reading at Symphony Space in New York City. It introduced me to him and it changed my life. I play this for everyone who comes to my house, and I start with his reading of the poem "Litany." One listen will quickly turn into (according to my iTunes play count)... 118.

In the Woods
and The Likeness by Tana French: Now is the time to read these smart, bracing, eerie mysteries set in Dublin and thereabouts (which are not part of a series but linked by characters), because Tana French's third book is coming this summer. You don't need to have read these to read the new one, but you should.

The Maytrees by Annie Dillard: This novel is the best and all-too-rare kind of love story, where you see glimpses of new love grow into deep bonds of trust and friendship that withstand, and even embrace, the unexpected change in tides. It's set in Provincetown, which adds another dimension I loved: gorgeous, unexpected moments on the beach. (See also: Home by Marilynne Robinson)

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010)

The Internet is awash with tributes this morning to Robert B. Parker, whose passing yesterday morning in his Cambridge home has hit readers and fellow novelists alike very hard. Parker is a giant among literary men: a bright, purposeful, prolific writer (a winner of two Edgar Awards and designated as a Grand Master) whose enormously popular Spenser series is praised time and again as the most worthy heir to classic noir fiction by Chandler and Hammett (a pair of his personal heroes). Beyond the Spenser books, he also created three more series--one piloted by small-town police chief Jesse Stone, another featuring female PI Sunny Randall, and the third, a developing Western series about two guns-for-hire. Though he was writing 2-3 books a year--like many of his mega-blockbuster mystery peers--it's always seemed to me that no one else has been writing novels like Parker. How did he maintain (for me, anyway) this sense of fresh expectation? Part of it may be that, despite long-held hopes, I haven't read him yet. But I suspect there's more to it (and I hope fans will chime in here): in the nearly four decades since his first Spenser novel, did Parker figure out that the best formula for fiction is, perhaps, to write as if there were no formula at all? If that's true, it's a mighty feat, and a sign of a talented and peerless novelist.  --Anne

Omni Yearly News: 2005

On this day in 2005: Michiko Kakutani reviews Sixteen Acres: Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero: "'In response to the tragedy, in an attempt to defy it, they [architechts] were asked to do something they no longer knew how to do: make buildings speak, give them meaning, create symbols for a culture with no common code.'" (Ground zero today.)

What we were reading

Great Debuts of 2005: Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Top Five Amazon Editors' Picks: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthanl, My Friend Leonard by James Frey

Top Five 2005 Amazon Bestsellers: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, The World Is Flat 3.0 by Thomas Friedman, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, YOU: The Owner's Manual by Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

In Memoriam: Saul Bellow, Shelby Foote, Arthur Miller, Hunter S. Thompson, August Wilson

Omni Crush of the Decade: 10 Books I Still Have, and 10 That I Don't

Distilling the last ten years of reading into a top 10 list is an exercise I could do at least 10 times over. But a thorough and page-thumbing tour through my bookshelves leaves me fairly confident that these are ones I'd still recommend to anyone, anytime. And the next ten, those are ones I recommended so heartily that I parted with my own copies, an act that's mixed now with both regret and hope that those people who agreed to take them loved them as much as I still do. Note: I picked books that I read for the first time in the last 10 years, and that--for the most part--I read in no occupational capacity (more on that later), so you'll see there are some pre-2000 releases. There aren't a ton of surprises in here. In the last decade I read a lot of books that other people also loved, and I'm happy I did. --Anne

Those That Remain

1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
2. A Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
3. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
4. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
5. The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken
6. Atonement by Ian McEwan
7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
8. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
9. Green Grass Grace by Shawn McBride
10. Against Love by Laura Kipnis

Those That I Miss

1. A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher
2. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
4. The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin
5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen
7. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
8. Sam the Cat by Matthew Klam
9. Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler
10. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

Omni Yearly News: Y2K

On this day in the year 2000... Kakutani reviews Jeffery Toobin's A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President (linking to the first edition for time-capsule effect) and remarks that by "focusing on sex, not the president's lies under oath, this assessment ignores Mr. Clinton's failure in his constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law..." See if you can guess what books these other Kakutani headlines from the year 2000 might be referring to:

"Clever Young Man Raises Sweet Little Brother"
"Toting the Merit Badges of a Boy Scout Candidate"
"Quirky, Sassy, and Wise in a London of Exiles"
"Willful Sensation Yet Not Soap Opera"
"The Zeitgeist of Cyberspace Isn't at 59th and Lex"

The Second Coming Never Came... People's computers and cash machines still worked, they shopped on, and heaps of preparation guides collected dust on bookshelves.

Still writing books we love to read: Amy Bloom, Colm Toibin, Hilary Mantel, and Aleksandar Hemon are some of our favorite authors of this year and last--it's a treat to go back in time to see their earlier works (and to see how hard they've been working since). However, I am waiting, ever patiently, for the day that a new book by Matthew Klam lands on my desk.

This is but a taste of the new millenium: Visit our Books of the Decade: 2000 page to see more bestsellers, award winners, and editors' picks for the year, and check out our overall Books of the Decade: 2000-2009. --Anne

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