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Showing posts from September, 2018

Thursday Night Book Club -- September, 2018

The Thursday Night Book Club traditionally tackles a "big" book every September. The lazy end of August and the long Labor Day Weekend seem made for long bouts of storytelling. And because John Irving only writes big books, it seemed fitting to choose one of his sprawling novels to read this month. On Thursday, September 20th, the Thursday Night Book Club gathered to discuss Irving's ninth novel, A Widow for One Year.

"One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking--it was coming from her parents' bedroom. It was a totally unfamiliar sound to her. Ruth had recently been ill with a stomach flu; when she first heard her mother making love, Ruth thought that her mother was throwing up." So begins A Widow for One Year, a novel about a woman named Ruth Cole during three pivotal phases of her life. The book begins in 1958 when Ruth is a four-year-old girl living in Sagaponack, New York with …

The 2018 National Book Award Fiction Longlist

Ah, the joys of book award season. With only a few days to go until the release of the 2018 Man Booker Prize shortlist (watch this space), over on this side of the pond, we have the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction longlist. The National Book Award is an American literary prize that was established in 1950 and is administered by the National Book Foundation. Prizes are awarded for fiction, non fiction, poetry, young people's literature and (new this year) translated literature. In all but the translated literature category, the authors of the longlisted books must be US citizens. In the translated literature category, neither the author nor the translator need be a US citizen, but the novel must have been translated into English and published in the United States. For all categories, books are eligible for the 2018 award if they were published in the United States between December 1, 2017 and November 30, 2018.

Here are the ten books on the longlist, listed alphabetically by …

A London Bookshop Crawl

When my younger daughter decided to spend the fall semester of her junior year of college studying abroad in London, as I did an unmentionable number of years ago, I instinctively planned to fly across the pond with her to help settle her in. But it turned out that she mostly wanted to do some shopping and neighborhood exploring and have help carrying her luggage up to her top floor flat in South Kensington. Once we had accomplished those key tasks, she gave me a fierce hug and sent me on my way.

What should a bookish Anglophile do with a free afternoon in London? Why, she should visit bookstores, of course! Armed with a list of books I wanted to purchase, carefully chosen only to include books that would not be released in the US this year, I set off to visit four different bookshops, accompanied by my close college friend Melissa, who lives outside of London and tolerates my crazy ideas with cheer and good humor (I think she is secretly planning a tell-all). Here is how it went: