Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Memoir Monday... The Man Behind the Nose by Larry "Bozo" Harmon

The Man Behind the Nose: Assassins, Astronauts, Cannibals,
and Other Stupendous Tales... by Larry "Bozo" Harmon

Do you remember that famous clown with the flaming red hair? I came across this interesting book and was caught by what I read. Bozo the Clown was an American icon and thus people might forget that there was a man behind the nose. To Larry Harmon that wasn't a problem, because he loved portraying the happy clown - he WAS Bozo. And this memoir, which you might first expect to be the "other side of the nose", telling us how awful life as the happy clown was, looks to be far from that. Here's how the publisher describes it...

Did you hear the one about when Bozo the Clown ran for President and two assassination attempts were made on his life?

How about the time Bozo flew into the perilous jungles of New Guinea to see if he could not just survive but actually bond with dangerous cannibal tribes?

Well then, you must know about the time his size 83 AAA shoes saved him from being swallowed whole by a giant, murderous python in Thailand, right?

Then I guess you might not know as much as you think about the world's most famous clown. Sure, you know the giant shoes, the red bulbous nose, the big ruby smile, and the twin shocks of red yak-hair bursting from the sides of his head. And obviously you know the many clowns inspired by him, from Ronald McDonald to Krusty the Clown.

So perhaps it's time you learned about Bozo, and the man behind the nose. Because the wild, inspirational stories in this book are all true. As real as the nose on your face.

One day, Larry Harmon, a World War II private harboring dreams of becoming a doctor, met the most famous entertainer of the time, Al Jolson. After seeing the young man on stage, Jolson told him he shouldconsider a career change.

"Being a doctor of medicine is honorable," Jolson advised. "But you'll touch so many more lives as a doctor of laughter!"

A decade later, Jolson's prophecy came true when Larry Harmon, trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood, auditioned to portray a character named Bozo the Capitol Clown.

The character spoke so much to Larry that he simply became it—overnight. He soon turned Bozo into a cultural icon, creating one of the biggest children's television franchises in the world. But that was only the beginning.

In this unputdownable book, which Harmon completed just before his death at age eighty-three, are far more incredible stories of astronauts, cannibals, celebrities, assassins, and deep-sea divers—all encountered in full Bozo regalia, and with photos to prove it.

Not only is Harmon's life by turns incredible and hilarious, it's also an inspirational testament to the power of one man's positive attitude, dedication, and work ethic—and how he changed the world.

Looks to me like Larry Harmon is still bringing smiles to people's faces with these wonderful tales of an extraordinary life. I remember Bozo the Clown as a little girl, and with a career that spanned 50 years, Bozo and Larry touched many peoples lives. I look forward to reading these larger than life, but true, tales! How about you? Do you remember Bozo the Clown?!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sunday Salon... The Dog Days of Summer and Then Some!



The Dog Days of Summer make a landing at Chick with Books this week. What are the "Dog Days of Summer" anyway? Summer is typically referred to as The “Dog Days” of Summer because it’s so hot that it’s not fit for a dog. But where did the phrase really comes from? Well, the Dog Days refers to the period of July 3 through Aug. 11 when the Dog Star, Sirius, rises with the Sun. As a result, the ancients felt that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the Sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) were responsible for the extreme heat that is experienced during the middle of summer....

The Dog Days of Summer have come and gone, but great books with a doggish theme don't follow the stars, they follow the hearts of the authors who write them and today's Sunday Salon is about some great books with a "doggish" theme.

Oogy by Larry Levin... In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home. Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

When I read about Oogy it brought tears to my eyes. Animal abuse is a topic that really affects me. Oogy is definitely one of the lucky guys who beat the odds. I'm looking forward to reading this heartwarming story of Oogy and his amazing ability to love after all that he had gone through. Watch the YouTube video of Oogy and see for yourself what an amazing guy he is, and what a wonderful family the Levin's are for adopting him. This book will be released Oct.12th, 2010. *P.S. This Book will be Kindle Ready!

To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn... This is the third book in the Chet and Bernie series featuring a lovable and wise dog narrator, Chet, and his P.I. owner, Bernie. This time the pair "go under the big top to solve the most unlikely missing persons (and animals!) case ever." Here's an short sample of Chet & Bernie from To Fetch a Thief...

We were outnumbered, some big number against two. When it comes to numbers, two is as far as I go, but it's enough, in my opinion. . . .

"Sit," Bernie said.

I sat. Bernie would think of something—he always did. That was one of the things that made the Little Detective Agency such a success, except for the finances part . . .

Chet has smelled a lot of unusual things in his years as trusted companion and partner to P.I. Bernie Little, but nothing has prepared him for the exotic scents he encounters when an old-fashioned traveling circus comes to town. Bernie scores tickets to this less-than-greatest- show-on-earth because his son Charlie is crazy about elephants. The only problem is that Peanut, the headlining pachyderm of this particular one-ring circus, has gone missing—along with her trainer, Uri DeLeath. Stranger still, no one saw them leave. How does an elephant vanish without a trace? At first there's nothing Bernie and Chet can do— it's a police matter and they have no standing in the case. But then they're hired by Popo the Clown, who has his own reasons for wanting to find out what has become of the mysteriously missing duo. After Chet takes a few sniffs in Peanut's trailer and picks up her one-of-a-kind scent, he and Bernie are in hot pursuit, heading far away from the bright lights of the traveling show and into the dark desert night. Some very dangerous people would prefer that Chet and Bernie disappear for good and will go to any lengths to make that happen. Across the border in Mexico and separated from Bernie, Chet must use all his natural strength and doggy smarts to try to save himself—not to mention Bernie and a decidedly uncooperative Peanut, too.

With a wry sense of humor, Spencer Quinn gives us a great mystery with some doggie sensabilities. The Chet and Bernie mysteries are a mix of thrill and light-hearted fun, and I look forward to reading this latest entry into the series. The first book, where we first meet Chet and Bernie is Dog on It, and the second book is Thereby Hangs a Tail, which is coming out in paperback Sept.7th. (Both of these books are Kindle Ready!) To Fetch a Thief will be released Sept. 28th, and will be Kindle Ready!

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt... From the Publisher, Attorney Andy Carpenter is about to represent an adorable Bernese mountain dog puppy, whose owner was brutally murdered, in a custody fight. Few can rival Andy's affection for dogs, and he's determined to keep Waggy from falling into the wrong hands. But this playful pup possesses a valuable secret that some people will resort to violence to obtain. It will take more than Andy's usual courtroom theatrics to save Waggy, including help from the lawyer's golden retriever, Tara. Andy soon discovers that everyone around him is in danger, including his longtime girlfriend, Laurie--and only some high-risk new tricks will save those he cherishes most.

I have never read David Rosenfelt before, but after hearing so much great buzz about this latest book of his, I had to take a second look at the author. New Tricks is David Rosenfelt's 7th book in the "Andy Carpenter series" which are books featuring the defense attorney, Andy Carpenter. Dogs seem to play a part in books one through five, but it looks like book 6, Play Dead, and the latest book, New Tricks, features Andy coming to the actual defense of a particular dog, which eventually leads into a courtroom thriller. New Tricks was published earlier this month, and I look forward to cracking the spine on this book. *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

A Favorite book of mine with a great doggie narrator that I HIGHLY recommend (If you haven't read it yet!)...

The Art of Racing in The Rain by Garth Stein is a wonderful book! All told thru the eyes & nose of Enzo a dog who is part philosopher, part social worker and who on the eve of his death recalls all that he and his family have been thru. His family is Denny, the up and coming race cardriver who is his master, friend & hero, Denny's wife Eve, and little Zoe their daughter. A heart wrenching and yet laugh out loud story that has Enzo learning most of his 'philosophy' from watching TV but is amazingly more human than some people. If you are a 'dog person' you will love this book! Enzo teaches us what the meaning of loyalty, love and hope is. Read more at Garth's Website! And remember that box of tissue's before you start to read!

Other Bookish News this week... Kindle 3's have officially made it into the hands of anxious readers! Initial reports throughout the blogosphere is that it's "love at first sight"! Len Edgerly whose weekly podcast, The Kindle Chronicles, which covers all things Kindle, has a great podcast this week including some great Kindle 3 info. You can follow the link to TKC Episode 110 to listen. (*BTW, my DH Paul provided the Kindle 3 tech tip this week on Len's show!) And I'll be posting my thoughts about this cute little eReader too, which I received yesterday. My first impression is I Love It! Although I had a defective power switch, Amazon immediately issued a replacement and sent it overnight at no charge to me. Now that's great customer service!

Is Nook your preferred eReader? Then check out my Saturday Post about Barnes & Nobles Classic eBooks that are FREE this week for the Nook! This weeks theme is Tales to Read Under the Covers, and includes such classics as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and The Invisible Man by H.G.Wells.

BTW, next month Banned Book Week comes to Chick with Books! Here's the American Library Associations list of Banned & Challenged Books from 2009-2010. From Sept. 25th - Oct. 2nd I'll be highlighting "Banned Books" and cracking the spine on one to express my freedom of choice. Last year I read Catcher in The Rye, this year I'm leaning towards another coming-of-age story - The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Read any good Banned Books lately? Share them here!

Cat Person instead? Stop by Saturday, Sept. 4th when author Helen Brown stops by Chick with Books with a guest post about her insights into dealing with the devastating death of her nine-year-old-son, Sam. Her Book, Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family, is her memoir about the death of her young son and how a small black kitten helped to hold her family together following the sudden accidental death of Sam.

Hope you've found something good to sink your teeth into! Speaking of sinking your teeth into something... this week my "First Lines" post, which is where I share the first lines of great books, came from Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian. It's the first book in a new vampire mystery series (a fang-in-cheek mystery) coming out in Sept. Us bloggers just love comments, and we always read what you have to say, so what a thrill and a treat I had when under the comments section Sue Ann Jaffarian left a thank you with a little surprise for her readers! Here's what she wrote:

Thanks so much for plugging Murder in Vein!! I really appreciate it.

Here's the first paragraph from the 2nd book in the series, just to tease you a little:

"The body floated face down in the pool like an inflatable joke, something meant to scare people at parties and on Halloween. But to Madison Rose’s eye, it didn’t look like some plastic gag. It looked real. Dead real."

Thanks for sharing some top secret writing with us Sue Ann! Love the first lines! And can't wait to read the second book! I'll be reviewing the first book for everyone here soon!

So, whether you prefer dogs or vampires, hope you found something great to read today! What are you reading?! Share it all here, I always love to discover new books and authors! Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tales to Read Under the Covers... This Weeks Theme for Barnes and Noble Freebie Nook eBooks!

After Dark... Tales to Read Under the Covers is this weeks theme for the Barnes & Noble free eBooks for your Nook promotion! So where does "After Dark" take us? From Hell in Dante's Inferno to the future found in H.G. Wells Time Machine... We meet a certain headless horseman in Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and travel with Captain Nemo to wondrous places in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. What better way to experience these reading adventures than with these great classic editions from Barnes & Noble and free to download for your Nook! You can find the current available downloads at Barnes & Noble, and in the meantime Here's What's Available This Week...


  • Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction by Joseph Conrad
  • Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
  • Time Machine and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
  • Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Writings by Washington Irving
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
These Barnes & Noble Classics are not just a rehashing of what you could also possibly find at Project Gutenberg. Barnes & Noble has gone the extra mile to make an affordable and well rounded book. Here are some of the features of the B & N Classics from their website:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
  • All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
And BTW, Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is thought to be the first real detective story, and one of the greatest mysteries ever written... Happy Reading!

Friday, August 27, 2010

First Lines...

"Madison had been in Los Angeles just over two years when she found herself facedown on the ground in a wooded area. Her clothes were in tatters. Duct tape held her hands. A filthy rag muffled her screams. Fear coursed through her battered body, scraping and tearing with jagged edges as she fought to maintain control of her slippery mind. It was the only weapon she had left."

... Murder in Vein by Sue Ann Jaffarian (a Fang-in-Cheek mystery coming Sept. 2010!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Memoir Monday... Let's Take The Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

Let's Take The Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

There's something special about women's friendships. They can be intense, emotional, fulfilling. A common thread can link us together and sustain a friendship through long separations, careers, and men. Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp found that common thread. Let's Take the Long Way Home is Gail's homage to that friendship. A friendship that was the perfect recipe, except that Caroline was diagnosed with terminal cancer... Here's what the publisher writes,

It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”

So begins this gorgeous memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell, a testament to the power of friendship, a story of how an extraordinary bond between two women can illuminate the loneliest, funniest, hardest moments in life, including the final and ultimate challenge.

They met over their dogs. Both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story, became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol, to their relationships with men and colleagues, to their love of books. They walked the woods of New England and rowed on the Charles River, and the miles they logged on land and water became a measure of the interior ground they covered. From disparate backgrounds but with striking emotional similarities, these two private, fiercely self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen.

The friendship helped them define the ordinary moments of life as the ones worth cherishing. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this moving memoir about treasuring and losing a best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is a celebration of life and of the transformations that come from intimate connection—and it affirms, once again, why Gail Caldwell is recognized as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

I've got my box of tissues ready, because I'll be reading Let's Take the Long Way Home this week. It's gotten a lot of praise from the reading community, and I look forward to reading it even though I know that ultimately it's a sad tale...

The Sunday Salon... What's it All About Alfie?... Or Modern Day Love Stories


Have you heard of that song What's It All About Alfie? Burt Bacharach wrote that song about love and life. It is meant to have us look inside ourselves and our hearts and question... What's it All About? "Is it just for the moment we live?" Today's Sunday Salon is just about that- Books with Buzz that deal with love. They're modern in their own right, and definitely show us the different paths to love people take.

One Day by David Nicholls... From the Publishers, It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives-lives very different from the people they once dreamed they's become. And yet unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

I love the idea of following a love story over the course of 20 years on just one particular day. It's like fast forwarding through the commercials. We are able to take a peek at how two people fall in love as idealistic college kids, grow up as adults and move on, but yet hold on to that idealistic love they felt for each other. Will they find each other again? And can the spark that ignited their love still burn outside of their heads as it has inside? Lots of great buzz about this book! AND I just had to pick up a copy of this to read! *P.S. This book is Kindle Ready!

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart... Here's what the publishers write: In a very near future—oh, let’s say next Tuesday—a functionally illiterate America is about to collapse. But don’t that tell that to poor Lenny Abramov, the thirty-nine-year-old son of an angry Russian immigrant janitor, proud author of what may well be the world’s last diary, and less-proud owner of a bald spot shaped like the great state of Ohio. Despite his job at an outfit called Post-Human Services, which attempts to provide immortality for its super-rich clientele, death is clearly stalking this cholesterol-rich morsel of a man. And why shouldn’t it? Lenny’s from a different century—he totally loves books (or“printed, bound media artifacts,” as they’re now known), even though most of his peers find them smelly and annoying. But even more than books, Lenny loves Eunice Park, an impossibly cute and impossibly cruel twenty-four-year-old Korean American woman who just graduated from Elderbird College with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness.

After meeting Lenny on an extended Roman holiday, blistering Eunice puts that Assertiveness minor to work, teaching our “ancient dork” effective new ways to brush his teeth and making him buy a cottony nonflammable wardrobe. But America proves less flame-resistant than Lenny’s new threads. The country is crushed by a credit crisis, riots break out in New York’s Central Park, the city’s streets are lined with National Guard tanks on every corner, the dollar is so over, and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Undeterred, Lenny vows to love both Eunice and his homeland. He’s going to convince his fickle new love that in a time without standards or stability, in a world where single people can determine a dating prospect’s “hotness” and “sustainability” with the click of a button, in a society where the privileged may live forever but the unfortunate will die all too soon, there is still value in being a real human being.

There has been such a great marketing campaign for the release of this book. Lots of great buzz to go along with it too! So, I decided to get a sample chapter to read on the Kindle. That's all it took- Gary Shteyngart is funny. His writing drew me right in and I know I'm in for a fun ride with this book. Gary Shteyngart made the top "20 under 40" fiction writers as chosen by The New Yorker magazine. These are writers The New Yorker believes will be the "It" writers of their generation, and their writing will endure over time. Irony and Satire are Shteyngart's tools and I look forward to reading Super Sad True Love Story. It's on my Kindle right now! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti... Benny's a Swedish farmer, a country boy in his 30's with 24 milk cows and followers (followers are the babies...) plus a few sheep. He orders his clothes from a catalog...

Shrimp's a widowed Swedish librarian, in her 30's living in a sterile apartment with a white sofa. She eats vegetarian and dresses in beige...

He wants a farmers wife... She wants someone to go to the opera with...

They meet in a cemetery and fall in love... Benny mourning the loss of his mother; Shrimp mourning her husband. Detesting each other at first because they are forced to share what they feel should be a private moment alone on a bench in the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. Every day they make the same trip... Loneliness hangs off them like the morning dew, but a chance smile between them one day starts to melt their mistrust... Benny & Shrimp is an offbeat, fun, romp in the hay love story! I absolutely loved this book! In alternating chapters Benny and Shrimp each take turns telling their story from their own perspective. And it is a hoot at times...

This is part of what I wrote about Benny & Shrimp when I read & reviewed it back in July of last year. Here's the LINK to my review if you missed it. This book immediately came to mind as I was thinking about today's post on Relationships. It is charming and at 224 pages a quick, but enjoyable read. And if you haven't read it I would definitely put it on your TBR list! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Speaking of love... Are you ready for the much anticipated release of Mockingjay?! Suzanne Collins' final book in the Hunger Games trilogy will be released this coming tuesday (Aug. 24th). Plenty of midnight release parties too! Have you read The Hunger Games & Catching Fire? It's the YA dystopian world created by Suzanne Collins, where in the first book, The Hunger Games, "every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants must fight to the death." The I have both of those books in my TBR pile, so I guess I better get to them!

Recap of the week... Barnes & Noble is offering a selection of free classic eBooks every week until Sept. 14th. These eBooks can be read using any of the Barnes & Noble eReader Apps, and of course on your Nook! Here's the Link to my post on it. Plus get ready for your communities Big Read! My Community will be reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, check the NEA BIG READ Website to find a participating community near you and see what you could be reading! Small town murder came to Chick with Books last week when Irene Ziegler stopped by on her book tour to promote Ashes to Water! If you love reading novels in small town settings, where everyone's life is practically an open book, and great writing, check out Ashes to Water! Annie Bartlett is the girl with guts in Ashes to Water and makes for a great heroine. Irene Ziegler's previous book of short stories , Rules of the Lake, follows Annie Bartlett as she grows up in "Florida before Disney". Irene just sent a copy of Rules of the Lake my way and I can't wait to read more about Annie Bartlett and experience more of Irene Ziegler's fine writing! Read my review of Ashes to Water.

Hope you found something here to grab your attention! What are you reading this week?! And what modern day relationships have you been reading about?! You can share it all here! I would love to hear!

Have a great week! And don't forget Memoir Monday is back tomorrow! Bring a box of tissues... Suzanne

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Women Who Inspired Us... This Weeks Theme from Barnes and Noble eBook Promotion


A Little Nook News...

This weeks theme for the Free Classic eBooks from Barnes & Noble is Women Who Inspired Us. And what a great selection it is... there's Alexandra Bergson, "a fiercely independent young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her fathers farm in Nebraska A model of emotional strength, courage, and resolve, Alexandra fights long and hard to transform her father s patch of raw, wind-blasted prairie into a highly profitable business." from Willa Cather's O Pioneer. And Socialite Lily Bart who "falls in love with lawyer Lawrence Selden, whose lack of money spoils their chances for happiness together. Dubious business deals and accusations of liaisons with a married man diminish Lily s social status, and as she makes one bad choice after another, she learns how venal and brutally unforgiving the upper crust of New York can be." from Edith Wharton's House of Mirth. These eBooks are part of Barnes & Nobles "Build Your Own Library of Classic eBooks" Promotion. Each week until Sept. 14th, Barnes & Noble will make available 12 different Barnes & Noble Classics eBooks for Free and for downloading on your Nook. You can find the current available downloads at Barnes & Noble, and in the meantime Here's What's Available This Week...
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf
  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte
  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  • Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  • Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Daisy Miller and Washington Square by Henry James
  • Nana by Emile Zola
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Lines...

"The wierdest part about dying is that nothing really changed.

I mean, you'd expect a big change, right? Because dying--well, let's face it, it's pretty dramatic stuff. They write songs about it, books and screenplays too. Heck, it's even a major theme on Saturday morning cartoons. But the thing is, it's nothing like you see on TV."

..."First Lines", Chapter 2, Radiance by Alyson Noel (Release date: Aug. 31st)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Big Read! Are You Reading with People from YOUR Community?!

Bringing a Community Together by Reading a Good Book!

Are you reading with your community this fall? Since 2006 The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest has provided grants to 800 not-for-profit organizations to organize and promote Big Read events. This year 75 non-profit organizations including arts & cultural organizations, libraries and universities will share in a $1 million grant to host Big Read events between Sept. 2010 and June 2011. For me, nearby Ridgefield, CT. is playing host (thanks to Ridgefield Playhouse applying for and being awarded part of the NEA grant) and that's the community I'll be joining (along with my reading group) to participate in this years Big Read. What's our Big Read? The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck! We'll be reading The Grapes of Wrath, but the book will also serve as a stepping stone to learning more about the period of history the book takes place- in this case the depression era. There will be lectures, book discussions, film screenings, and exhibits, and in "my community" even a concert by the local orchestra including music composed during the same time period as The Grapes of Wrath.

Who chooses "The Books"? "A distinguished group of writers, scholars, librarians, critics, artists, and publishing professionals" recommends the books for the Big Read. This year there are 31 choices which include classics, international authors, poets, and a short story collection. You can find the full list of books at the Big Read Book Page. There are links on the book page for each book's brief description, reading guide, teachers guide, and a link to a radio show where the book is discussed. You can listen to the radio show right from the book page, or you can subscribe in iTunes for free.

Want to know if your community or a community close to you is participating?! You can learn more about The Big Read and use the search engine at the NEA Big Read Website to find a participating community. Even if there isn't a Big Read event near you, you can still enjoy reading one of the great books and find great resources to expand on what you've read.

I'll be cracking the spine on my copy of The Grapes of Wrath soon! Have YOU read The Grapes of Wrath? On Sept. 22nd, my reading group will be attending the first Big Read Event at the Ridgefield Library where "Dr. Mark Schenker, Associate Dean at Yale, will present a scholarly background lecture on John Steinbeck and "The Grapes of Wrath." Let me know if you're reading something for The Big Read!
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