Saturday, March 31, 2007

Next Book Discussion: Prep

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of our next book Prep, has a website. At the bottom of the web page for Prep, you'll find some articles about her and the book.

Apparently, the school in portrayed in Prep, Ault, is based on the famous prep school Groton in Massachusetts. If you have time, watch the slide show on the school's homepage. It's like watching scenes from the book!


Forthcoming Books: Chesil Beach

Fans of Ian McEwan have something to look forward to. His new book, On Chesil Beach, is due out in the US on June 5. It's a short book, only 176 pages, and early reviews are good. Here's the book blub on on AmazonUK, and it certainly sounds intriguing.

"It is June 1962. In a hotel on the Dorset coast, overlooking Chesil Beach, Edward and Florence, who got married that morning, are sitting down to dinner in their room. Neither is entirely able to suppress their anxieties about the wedding night to come...."

The book was published this month in the UK, so you can find some reviews in the British papers, such as The Guardian.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Book in the News: The Road

Oprah has picked Comac McCarthy's The Road for her book club. I seem to recall that at least two people in the Roundtable read and liked this book despite its grim, post-apocalytic vision. It's a surprising choice for Oprah who usually selects novels that focus on family conflict (or that's the impression I have from looking at her list). More surprising still is that the reclusive author has agreed to be interviewed by Oprah in his first ever television appearance. (How does she do it?!)

Here's the AP article that picked up:
"Don't expect a lot of sunshine in Oprah Winfrey's latest book club pick. Publishing's leading hit-maker has chosen Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," a bleak, apocalyptic novel by an author who rarely talks to the media."
Link to article.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Author in The News: Jane Austen

Is this Jane Austen? According to this Reuter's article published in the Washington Post, even the experts can't decide.

"What many believe to be the only painting of Jane Austen will be auctioned in New York in April by Christie's, a relation of the English author and owner of the picture said.

But Henry Rice, a "sixth generation descendant" of the writer of classics such as "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice," believes the sale of a picture that has divided experts will not be without controversy."

Link to article.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Book in the News: 1984

Well, they say timing is everything. Yet another one of the upcoming Readers Roundtable books is in the news. This time it's George Orwell's book 1984, which we'll be discussing next month on May 5.

As you've probably heard, someone distantly associated with Barack Obama's campaign doctored the famous Apple Superbowl 1984 ad, superimposing Hilary Clinton's face over the original Big Brother (presumably Microsoft) face and then posted it on YouTube where it's been viewed nearly 3 million times.

What I find interesting about this story is that it contradicts the entire premise of 1984. If anyone can post a political ad that is viewed by millions, then how can a Big Brother or a Microsoft or even Senator Clinton impose thought control?

No one person controls access to the internet, no national agency regulates it. Anybody with minimal technical skills can publish an ad, article, photo, video, etc. Does this mean that the internet makes 1984 obsolete, or as Gen Y would say, "so 2oth Century"? I look forward to our discussion. Or post your thoughts now.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Recommendation: C'est La Folie

If you were charmed by Peter Mayle's Provence books, check out Michael Wright's droll column in an English newspaper called The Daily Telegraph. My mother found his column some years ago, and we've both been avid fans ever since. Wright is a Londoner who pulled up roots in 2004 and relocated to a 15th century farmhouse in France called La Folie. Here he cultivates the not so simple life of the one man farm and shares with us his many joys, mishaps, and heartbreaks as well as his encounters with memorable beasts of all stripes.

You can find a collection of his columns, called (not surprisingly) C'est La Folie on

Or check out his current (3/25/07) La Folie column:
"I am sipping my first cup of tea of the day when Digby leaps up and starts barking so piercingly that I fear he may crack the plate-glass door of the wood-burning stove. And then I hear what he is hearing and am tempted to bark myself." Link to article.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

See the Movie

I got approval from the powers that be to show the movie The Maltese Falcon at the Main Library this summer. Showtime is set for Thursday, June 28th at 7pm. I'll give out tickets at the June 2 Reader Roundtable meeting. You can also get tickets at the Main Library's Information Desk after June 1. This is a free event and open to all.

So mark your calendars! You don't want to miss seeing this great movie on a big screen. The American Film Institute ranked it #26 on their list of the top 100 thrilling movies in American cinema.


Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction Longlist

Linda forwarded me the 2007 nominee list for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. Orange is a British communications company and their prestigious prize for fiction is awarded to "the woman who, in the opinion of the judges, has written the best, eligible full-length novel in English." Past winners and nominees have included Zade Smith, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, Ann Patchett, Sarah Waters, Carol Shields, etc. However, there are also many authors unfamiliar to American readers. As Linda says, this list "is always fun for me...finding totally new women authors to explore, especially ones from a different cultural tradition!"

Visit to find out which books and authors are on the list this year and read more about them.

- Lori

Thursday, March 15, 2007

LA Times expected to cut Sunday book section

For someone who loves reading Sunday book reviews, this is very sad news. Surprisingly, it's not due to lack of book lovers or bookstores, but simply that publishers and chains don't buy enough ad space to support a standalone book review section. Below is the story that ran in the Chronicle.

L.A. Times expected to end freestanding book review

Friday, March 9, 2007

"The Maltese Falcon Flies the Coop"

In February, the Maltese Falcon went missing...again. Too bad Sam Spade isn't around to track it down. Read the story on SF Gate.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Beauty is nothing...

Thought I'd share this amusing ad with you. It's a big hit on YouTube, especially with librarians. - Lori


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Book Review Websites

One of my favorite websites for finding book reviews (as well as film and music reviews) is As far as I can tell, the titles they list go back 5 years or so (around the time the site was launched) and can be found with a simple keyword search.

What I like best is that Metacritic lists the notable critics and publications that have reviewed the work and often has links to the actual reviews. It also assigns a "metascore," a weighted average of the critic's grades, so you can see at a glance the overall critical response. Additionally, there's a users' score that's roughly indicative of the work's overall popularity. I hope this helps you find some good reads. And please let me know if you have any favorites. -Lori