Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Cups of Tea Website

Three Cups of Tea, the book for our October meeting, has a pretty interesting website if you're want to learn more about the author and his education project. There's list of links to book reviews and articles as well as links to various author interviews.

The most recent interview was aired 9/14/08 on CNN. It's about 5 minutes long.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

SFGate: Saroyan Centennial

California author William Saroyan's life and work is commemorated in SFGate article on the centennial (or thereabouts) of his birth, August 31, 1908. Saroyan's best known works include The Time of Your Life and The Human Comedy.

Apparently, there was a celebration last night (9/3) in San Francisco, where he lived for many years. But if you missed that, Fresno, Saroyan's birthplace, has been having a series of festivities that run through to the end of 2008. Click here for more information.

Roundtable Meeting: Saturday, September 6

Just a reminder that Reader's Roundtable will be meeting this Saturday (9/6) at 2:00 pm in Conference Room B (check the lobby monitor just in case we get bumped) to discuss the novel Sweetness in the Belly.

Also, we'll be deciding on what books to read for our February, March and April 2009 discussions, so please bring some book suggestions.

BTW: I'll have copies of the October and November books at Saturday's meeting. We're reading Three Cups of Tea for October and Loving Frank for November. (FYI: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was moved to January. I probably won't have copies until later this month.)

Apologies again for infrequent postings. I'm hoping to resume regularly blogging in the next few weeks.

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bad writing at its finest

It takes a special kind of literary genius to mangle the English language this horribly. Thanks Linda for forwarding the results of the 2008 Bulwar-Lytton Contest!

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
2008 Results

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."
Garrison Spik
Washington, D.C.

The winner of 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Garrison Spik (pronounced "speak"), a 41-year-old communications director and writer from Washington, D.C. Hailing from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, he has worked in Tokyo, Bucharest, and Nitro, West Virginia, and cites DEVO, Nathaniel Hawthorne, B horror films, and historiography as major life influences.

Garrison Spik is the 26th grand prize winner of the contest that began at San Jose State University in 1982.

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

You can read other cringe-worthy entries at the Bulwar-Lytton website.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Have a laugh

Two NYTimes articles tickled my funny bone this past Sunday...maybe they'll tickle yours as well.

Mary Roach, author of the macabe, but weirdly fun and fascinating book Stiff, writes a droll review of a new book called Traffic. A subject ripe with comic potential, and Mary Roach totally makes hay with it, exploiting many of the book's fun facts to hilarious effect.
Slow-Moving Vehicle

Traffic jams are not, by and large, caused by flaws in road design but by flaws in human nature. While this is bad news for drivers — there’s not much to be done about human nature — it is good news for readers of Tom Vanderbilt’s new book. “Traffic” is not a dry examination of highway engineering; it’s a surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels. An alternate title for the book might be “Idiots.” (Link to article.)
The second article that gave me a chuckle explores the disease gout and its literary connections. The last paragraph is priceless.
My Literary Malady
So, it has come to this. It’s official. My doctor has confirmed what I had suspected for some time, that despite some “nonstandard presentation” and my solid belief that this sort of thing happens only to other people, I have gout. I am a member of that shadowy, shameful group, the “gout community.” (Link to article.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Talk about convenient, finish one book and then grab another from your chair's armrest. Cool!

Picture "borrowed" from BookDaddy blog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

NYTimes: R U Really Reading?

There's a heated debate among educators, academics, and others about how literacy is evolving in our digital age. They are trying to determine if and how people's reading ability and comprehension (not to mention our thought processes) are adapting to the nearly constant distractions of text messages, blogs, cell phones, YouTube videos, etc. This long, but very interesting New York Times article explores the issue from several vantages...and to my mind, is a bit more positive than other articles I've read.
Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

...As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.

But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount. The Web inspires a teenager like Nadia, who might otherwise spend most of her leisure time watching television, to read and write.

Even accomplished book readers like Zachary Sims, 18, of Old Greenwich, Conn., crave the ability to quickly find different points of view on a subject and converse with others online. Some children with dyslexia or other learning difficulties, like Hunter Gaudet, 16, of Somers, Conn., have found it far more comfortable to search and read online. (Link to entire article.)

Readers Roundtable Meeting: Saturday, August 1

We're meeting tomorrow to discuss Madhur Jaffrey's memoir Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India.

Since much of the book revels in the flavors and aromas of India, we're having a potluck, featuring food from India. A couple people have indicated that they'll attempt to prepare a recipe or two from the back of the book, while others said they may pick up something from an Indian restaurant.

I'm going to get an assortment of appetizers and breads from Favorite Indian Restaurant, located in Hayward. So, there should be enough food for everyone to enjoy at least a taste of India.

Feel free to bring an Indian dish if you like...or not. This is an OPTIONAL potluck. So, if you just show up with critical insights into the book and a healthy appetite, that's perfectly fine.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Early Entries for My Top Ten Covers 2008

This cover will definitely make my top ten list for the year. So witty.

And this one will make it for its graphic impact and evocative lettering...not to mention its uncanny ability to make me crave a plateful of Oreos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Patron's Picks & Pans, 2008

Check out what what your fellow patrons are reading. The newsletter Patron's Picks & Pans is a selection of book comments penned by members of the Summer Sleuths, the summer reading program for adults.

You view it here:

And you can have new issues delivered to your mailbox by signing up here:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Steinbeck Festival

Here is a link to the schedule for this year's Steinbeck Festival -- "Steinbeck & Mexico" will take place August 7th through 10th in Salinas. This four-day event features all sorts of talks, tours, screenings, and visual and performing arts.

Photos from Chinatown Trip

I've posted pictures from our Chinatown trip on Feel free to download any you'd like to keep. Kudos to the photographer Bill Sherwood for remembering to bring his camera and for taking such fine photos!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Reminder: Chinatown Tour Sign Up

Just a reminder that I'll be taking signups for the Chinatown tour on June 21 at tomorrow's (May 3) Roundtable meeting. The trip fee is $25 per person and includes bus transportation, 2-hour walking tour, book and museum fee, as well as a dim sum lunch. (FYI: The Friends of the San Leandro Library are generously chipping in to help cover the costs of this trip.)

The Chinatown Tour has generated a lot of interest, but Readers Roundtable members will get first crack at signing up. Tour registration opens to the general public on Monday, May 5.

Discussion: Dancing to Almendra

This Saturday, May 3 at 2pm, the Readers Roundtable book group will discuss Mayra Montero's novel Dancing to Almendra.

Note that we're back in Conference Room B on the second floor (yeah!), but check the meeting room monitor in the lobby just in case they switch us.

Also, we're going to select the books to read in September, October and November. I'll bring my file of recommendations that members have suggested in the past 6 months or so. (I didn't lose it after all.) I think they're some very good suggestions in there.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. So many projects, so little time.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's that time again...

...time to select new titles to read and discuss.

In the next Readers Roundtable meeting on Saturday May 3, we'll be selecting the titles we'd like to read for our September, October and November meetings.

Please bring your book ideas to the meeting, or email me with your suggestions and I'll add them to my list. Remember, the books must to available in paperback two to three months before we read them.

So many books, so little time!

SF Chronicle: Bookstores bracing for the next chapter

In the 1970's my parents investigated opening a neighborhood bookstore, but they reluctantly gave up this pipe dream when they saw how unlikely it was that they'd ever break even, let alone make a profit.

If anything, the economics are worse today, yet independent bookstores still manage to hang on. I can't help but wonder how...but I'm so grateful they do. Browsing the shelves in my neighborhood bookstore is one of my favorite past times.

In his latest column, SF Chronicle columnist John King examines the strategies some local independents are using to keep the lights on and the shelves stocked.
Bookstores bracing for the next chapter
Only a few years ago, bookstores helped define neighborhoods. They were physical and cultural markers on the landscape - showcases of what mattered, there and then.
Now, instead of perking up when I step through the doors of a good bookstore, I wonder morosely how long it will last.

"It's an antiquarian business model in a changing world," admits Melissa Mytinger, manager of Cody's Books in Berkeley. (Link to article.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

18 Sexy Trips to the Stacks

Entertainment Weekly pays tribute to sexy (& not so sexy) movie scenes that occur in libraries.,,20190897,00.html

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Whatever happended to...

...the Whitbread awards?

Linda, longtime RRTable member, sent me an email saying that they had "morphed" into the Costa Awards. In Britain, the Whitbreads were second only to the Booker award in terms of prestige. They were founded in 1971 and sponsored by Whitbread Breweries and administered by the Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland. They were renamed Costa, after its new sponsor (a coffee company), in 2006.

There are five Costa/Whitbread genre prizes each year--best novel, best first novel, best biography, best book of poems, and best children's book--from which one is chosen as book of the year. Authors who have lived in Great Britain or Ireland for over three years are eligible. Category winners receive £5000; the overall winner, for Book of the Year, receives an additional £25,000, one of the richest of all literary awards.

Here's a link to the winners:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Reminder: Book Discussion Sat., April 5

This Saturday, April 5 at 2pm, the Readers Roundtable book group will discuss Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun. We're scheduled to meet in the Trustee's Room on the first floor, but check the meeting room monitor in the lobby just in case they switch us.

There's a good website on this book and author that you may want to check out before coming to the meeting,

There's also a website listing discussion questions:

Finally, please note that there are two other events happening this Saturday.
  1. The Friends of the San Leandro Library spring booksale opens it's doors to members at 9 a.m. and to the general public at 11 a.m. There's a terrific selection of books at terrific prices, so you may want to build in some shopping time before or after our book discussion. (Hopefully, you won't get so engrossed in the sale, that you forget to come to the book discussion.)
  2. If you're signed up for Baby Boomer Focus Group, you'll be meeting at 12:30 in rooms B & C.

NYTimes: It's not you. It's your books.

Forget about money or looks. According to this New York Times essay, us literary types judge our romantic partners by the books they read.
Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!”

We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. Link to article.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Were you born between 1946 & 1964?

Are you a Baby Boomer? Were you born between 1946 and 1964? If so, tell us what you want at the library!

What do you want to read?
What do you want to learn?
What do you want to achieve?

Your participation in a Library Focus Group will help us get a state grant that will fund library programs for your generation--the Baby Boom generation!

Join us at one of these two focus groups.*

Focus Group 1: Dinner & Jazz Concert
Enjoy a complimentary light dinner, have a conversation with us, and experience an exciting concert featuring the Midnight Sessions.

Friday, April 4, 6 to 9 PM
San Leandro Main Library

Focus Group 2: Lunch
Enjoy a complimentary lunch and have a conversation with us. (Note too that this focus group occurs just before our next book discussion.)

Saturday, April 5, 12:30 to 2 PM
San Leandro Main Library

Get your free focus group tickets by calling or stopping by the Main Library’s Information Desk, 577-3971. You can bring one adult guest (who may or may not be a Boomer).

*Sponsored by San Leandro Public Library and funded by the Library Services Technology Act

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Edgar Awards: 2008 Nominees

Since I'm a big fan of the mystery genre, the annual list of Edgar nominees is one of my favorite sources to consult when I'm looking for a good book to read. (The Edgars recognize the best mysteries of the year in various categories.) The 2008 nominees were announced a few weeks back to very little fanfare. In case you missed it (like I did), click here for the nominee list. The winners will be announced at the awards dinner in New York City on May 8. Local mystery writer Bill Pronzini will be honored as Grand Master.

Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures

The library just received a lovely, oversized book, featuring very small books that are fascinating works of art. I'd love to share some of the photos with you here, but I don't have a scanner. However, if you're interested, has some nice page shots.

Click here if you interested in finding the book at the library or putting it on hold.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Website: Garfield minus Garfield

"Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Quill Book Awards Ended

The sponsor of the Quill Book awards, Reed Business Information, has shut down the Quill Book Awards. These awards were the publishing equivalent of the People's Choice Awards, but I don't think they ever caught on despite all the celebrity endorsements, glittering award shows and literacy programs.

Sponsor Shuts the Book on Glitzy Quill Awards

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. book award program created three years ago to bring glamour to the world of publishing and promote literacy has been shelved, its primary sponsor Reed Business Information said on Tuesday.

In a statement on, the publishing company gave no reason for its decision to end support for The Quill Literacy Foundation and the accompanying black tie Quill Awards, which were televised every year by NBC. (Link to article.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

People DO read!

Finally, someone has something positive to say about reading! In a New York Times blog called Opinion, author Timothy Egan rebuts Apple CEO Steve Jobs' comment saying that "people don't read anymore." While Egan praises Jobs' product innovations, he scolds him for his inability to see another market opportunity. After all, 40% of the population DOES read. Jobs has revolutionized the music industry, so why not the book industry? This is a witty and thoughtful piece.
Opinion: Book Lust
Every now and then, someone who is brilliant says something stupid — often the result of spending too much time riding a jet stream of high praise. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc., did such a thing last month when he all but declared the death of reading.

Asked about Kindle, the electronic book reader from, Jobs was dismissive. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is,” he told John Markoff of The Times, “the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” (Link to blog.)

P.S. Even though I'm both a book worm and gadget geek, I'm not really lusting after a digital book reader. However, I would be very tempted to buy a book reader that was designed and manufactured by Apple (the iRead?) because it would probably be the easiest to use, have the best features, and look the coolest.

One feature that would absolutely cinch the deal for me would be the ability to both read and listen to the book. For example, let's say I'm on the couch engrossed in a good mystery, but have to leave for an appointment. So when I get in my car, I'd just plug my iRead into the car's speaker system and pick up the story where I left off...but I'd be listening to the book instead of reading it. How cool would that be?!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

America's Most Literate Cities of 2007

San Francisco is once again in the top ten of the most literate cities in the United States, according to the annual study conducted by Central Connecticut State University:

If you check previous years, you see that San Francisco has been moving up the list. I wonder why.
The website says that the " focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources. I wonder if one particular indicator is boosting S.F.'s literacy or if it's a combination of factors.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guardian's Top 10 Romances

The Guardian's top 10 lists are always fun, but I found this one especially amusing. The synopsis for each of these top 10 romances may be wittier and more insightful than the book it describes. Here's one sample. If it's your cup of tea, check out the other nine!

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
If Defoe can be revered as the godfather of the romp, his spunky protagonist, Moll, is the godmother of feisty literary heroines. The pace is frenzied and the plot outrageous. Our heroine marries every eligible male between Lancashire and Virginia - including her brother. She's a very modern icon - whatever befalls her, she picks herself up, dusts herself down, rearranges her cleavage and rampages off again.

Coen Brothers to film Michael Chabon novel

For fans of Coen Brothers films or of Michael Chabon novels, here's some intriguing news that I found on The Guardian's website. It sounds like a great match-up.

Coens take on tale of alternate Alaska

The Coen brothers are to take on Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union, about an alternate-reality Alaska.

The siblings, who have scored their most commercially successful movie with the Oscar-nominated No Coutry for Old Men, will adapt and direct Chabon's book, which centres upon a private detective who is called upon to investigate the present-day killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy in the frozen US state. (Link to article)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blog: Book By Its Cover

Book By its Cover is a blog that features books that are little works of art. The blogger, Julia Rothman, is a pattern designer who, along with some guest writers, features distinctive looking books she's come across. There are all sorts of books, loosely organized by categories such as childrens, design, comic, fine art, etc. If you like books that are a feast for the eyes, check out this blog.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Book for May 2008

I had to switch the book we planned to discuss in May because I couldn't get ahold of enough copies from our vendors. So, selfishly, I chose a book that I'm eager to read from the New York Times 2007 List of Notable Books. It sounds fun! See what you think.

BTW: It will be available at the Readers Roundtable meeting of February 1 and at the Main Library's Reference Desk after that.

Dancing to the Amendra
By Mayra Montero

Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber’s chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquín Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, instead finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo’s death and the mobster’s when a secretive zookeeper whispers to him that he “knows too much.” In exchange for a promise to introduce the keeper to his idol, the film star George Raft, now the host of the Capri Casino, Joaquín gets information that ensnares him in an ever-thickening plot of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love.

The love story is, of course, another mystery. Told by Yolanda, a beautiful ex-circus performer now working for the famed cabaret San Souci, it interleaves through Joaquín’s underworld investigations, eventually revealing a family secret deeper even than Havana’s brilliantly evoked enigmas.

In Dancing to "Almendra," Mayra Montero has created an ardent and thrilling tale of innocence lost, of Havana’s secret world that is “the basis for the clamor of the city,” and of the end of a violent era of fantastic characters and extravagant crimes. Based on the true history of a bewitching city and its denizens, Almendra is the latest “triumph” (Library Journal) from one of Latin America’s most impassioned and intoxicating voices.

Book Discussion: Philadelphia Fire

Just a reminder that the Readers Roundtable will be meeting tomorrow, February 2 at 2 pm to discuss the book Philadelphia Fire.

The meeting is scheduled to meet in the Trustee's Room which is on the 1st floor, located on the Estudillo Ave side of the building. (The same room where we met in January.)

I'll not be able to attend tomorrow because of family business. Another librarian, Patty will moderate the meeting in my absence. She also loves to read and I think you'll like her.

Below I've added links to a few news stories about the Philadelphia incident in case you want to learn more about the it.

Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, May 13-A state police helicopter this evening dropped a bomb on a house occupied by an armed group after a 24-hour siege involving gun battles. A 90 -minute shootout this morning came after a week of growing tension between the city and the group, known as Move. Residents in the western Philadelphia neighborhood had complained about the group for years. The only known survivors from within the house were a woman and a child. The fire spread to 50 to 60 other houses in the neighborhood, said the Fire Commissioner, William Richmond. He declared the fire under control about 11:40 P.M.

Philadelphia MOVE Bombing Still Haunts Survivors
Twenty years ago, Philadelphia's Osage Avenue was the site of a stunning use of force by city police. After a long standoff, police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of a radical group called MOVE, sparking a fire that gutted a neighborhood and left 11 people dead. Five were children.

Philadelphia, city officials ordered to pay $1.5 million in MOVE case
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- Eleven years after police dropped a bomb on a row house occupied by the anti-government group MOVE, a jury has ordered the city of Philadelphia and two former city officials to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two members of the group who died in the subsequent fire. [Note link to essay by Alice Walker]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Robert Frost's Home Vandalized

A few weeks ago, some local teenagers decided to hold a raucous party in a Vermont farmhouse previously owned by poet Robert Frost. They did considerable damage, but stopped short of burning the place down. The New York Times columnist Dan Barry has written a lovely meditation about the incident titled A Violation of Both the Law and the Spirit. It's accompanied by an audio slide show that's narrated by a local college professor and filled with beautiful photos of Frost's home, nestled in the snowy woods he made famous.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Feeling Witty Today?

Drawing by Mick Stevens

Then don't delay! Enter the New Yorker's Cartoon Caption contest. Here's the scoop:
Each week, we [The New Yorker] provide a cartoon in need of a caption [see drawing above]. You, the reader, submit your caption, we choose three finalists, and you vote for your favorite. Finalists for this week's cartoon will appear online Monday, February 4th, and in the February 11th & 18th issue of The New Yorker. Any U.S. resident age eighteen or older can enter.
There's a new contest every week. So if this drawing doesn't inspire you, maybe next week's will. Or, if you're wit-deficient like me but appreciate it in others, you can vote for your favorite captions and have some laughs browsing past winners.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NYTimes: Great Adaptations

Linda found another thought-provoking article in the New York Times.
Great Adaptations
By: Sophie Gee
Instead of dumbing down the classics, mass-market popularizations sometimes make them even better.

The History of Sweeney Todd

Did you know that the Sweeney Todd tale may date back to the 1700's? Or that the first actor to portray him on film was named Tod Slaughter? (How's that for typecasting?)

The Guardian newspaper investigates the origins of Sweeney Todd and attempts to resolve the mystery: Did he really exist or is he simply a manifestation of man's darkest impulses? A fun and fascinating read.
On a Knife Edge
As Tim Burton's new film version of Sweeney Todd is released, Louise Welsh looks back at the Victorian 'blood and thunder books' in which the demon barber first captured the public's imagination. (Link to article)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Destination Bookstores of the World

The Guardian newspaper has posted its list of the 10 Best Bookshops in the World. The excellent blog Bookdaddy questions whether the honor is based more on decor than on the quality of the bookstock. But given the splendid beauty of some of these bookstores, who cares? I probably couldn't read the language anyway. I think it would be fun to compare the book covers and displays to what I'm used to seeing in the USA. I also think that soaking in the aesthetics of a beautiful, but less touristed space would be pleasant detour from the usual traps.

Pictured above is the Livraria Lello in Porto. With that glossy red staircase, it looks like a set from the movie Pan's Labrynth. Very surreal.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Destination Bookstores

Linda forwarded me this Seattle Times article of distinctive, unique bookstores in various cities throughout the U.S.

Take a literary tour of unique U.S. bookstores
"When is a bookstore worth a tourist's time? When it's more than just a place to buy books.A destination bookstore can make you feel like you're part of the community, whether you're grooving on the laid-back vibe at Powell's in Portland, or tuning into the Beltway buzz at Washington's Politics and Prose." (Link to article.)

Pictured is the Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle. It looks like the perfect spot for book browsing and latte sipping.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Redroom: MySpace for the literary set

Redroom is an ambitious new social website for writers. According to a January 8 article in, called Literary Web site Redroom a new chapter for authors, book lovers:
"It features 150 authors (with 400 more to come), ranging from Amy Tan and Salman Rushdie to Edinburgh Castle Pub owner Alan Black; Graham Leggatt, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, who moonlights as a sci-fi writer; and local mystery writer Cara Black."
Authors, both fledgling and famous, are given their own webpage and blog, where they can post their book tour schedules, promotional materials, reviews, reading list, influences, etc. as well as share their thoughts & have online conversations with readers. The site is targeted to both the public and members of the book industry.

So check out Amy Tan's blog or seek out your favorite author's webpage or blog. I think it's a great idea, and the site seems well-designed and easy to navigate. I hope it will become a popular online destination for booklovers like you and me since it looks like a potentially great resource.

Friday, January 4, 2008

NYTimes: "A Year of Books Worth Curling Up With"

Linda forwarded me a fun New York Times article, revealing what books their critics consider to be their favorite reads of the year. According to the article, these books "meet criteria that any reader will recognize. These are the books that are disappointing only because they have to end. They’re the ones we [NYTimes critics] mention to friends. They’re the ones worth taking on vacation, and they are well executed, whatever their genre or subject matter." (Link to article.)

Maybe you'll find a title or two here that you'd like to nominate for Readers Roundtable summer reading list....

Book Discussion: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Just a reminder that we'll be meeting tomorrow, Saturday Jan 5, at 2 p.m. to discuss the book Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I'll be interested to see what you all think about the book. (I'm still racing to get through the last 100 pages. This is a long one!)

Meanwhile, if you want to see what the critics say, has a good collection of reviews.

Penguin Books also has a nice reading guide for the book, including an interview with the author Marisha Pessl as well as a set of discussion questions.

Looking forward to seeing you. And don't forget: We'll be selecting the summer books, so if there are any books you'd like to nominate, please speak up!