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March 2010

Big exciting book news!

Nowreadthis Okay, well, not all that big or exciting. But I am excited! As of today, my new reader's guide, Now Read This III: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction (co-authored with Nancy Pearl), is finally available! It can be had through either Libraries Unlimited (the publisher), or Amazon. I fully realize it's a big chunk of change for any individual to spend, but I would be honored if you would suggest that your local library purchase a copy for their collection. It's been a long time in the making and I'm pretty proud of it, and I hope that it is useful to readers' advisors and readers.

Last week I got asked by some librarians with senses of humor* if I was going to have a big book release party, but the answer to that one is, I've already had it. It consisted of way too many milano cookies and a beer (a strange combination, but it worked for me) when I sent off the manuscript. We each celebrate in our own ways!

If you're wondering what the book looks like inside, I can give you a sampler. Pearl and I considered fiction titles (mainstream, or literary, ones; other guides take care of the genres) from the past 5-10 years and organized them according to what readers might find most appealing about them: their setting, their characters, their story, or the language and writing style of the author. Then we annotated each title and provided "related reads" for it. A sample entry looks like this:

Cleave, Chris.
Little Bee. Simon & Schuster, 2009. 271 pages. ISBN 9781416589631.
Although the jacket copy implores those who have read this novel not to tell their friends the story (because “the magic is in how the story unfolds”), what can be divulged is that it is the story of two women, from different parts of the globe, whose lives collide once, violently, on a beach in Africa, and then come together a second time as a result of that first meeting. The narrative follows the exploits of Little Bee, a young woman from Nigeria, who makes her way to Great Britain, and through no little amount of ingenuity, ends up on the doorstep of Sarah O’Rourke (and her family, although Sarah’s husband Andrew commits suicide—seemingly just days before Little Bee’s arrival).

Subjects: Africa; Book Groups; British Authors; Family Relationships; First Person; Great Britain; Immigrants and Immigration; Marriage; Men Writing as Women; Multicultural; Multiple Viewpoints; Parenting; Quick Reads
Now Try: Cleave has written another novel centering on current political events, Incendiary. Critics have compared this novel to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner (primarily for its moving characters and plot, which make it a solid book club choice); other novels about moral choices and unforeseeable events might also be offered to these readers, including William Styron’s classic Sophie’s Choice and Anne Tyler’s somewhat lighter but still thoughtful Saint Maybe. Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone also follows a character from one continent to another; another formidable female character can be found in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. Also of interest might be nonfiction titles from Africa, particularly Ishmael Beah’s memoir of his time as a child soldier, A Long Way Gone, or Helene Cooper’s The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, about her youth in Liberia and how she had to flee the country during its civil war (leaving behind an adopted sister).

The book will also be available for your inspection at the Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO boothat the upcoming Public Library Association conference, held at the end of March, in Portland, Oregon (and I think they usually offer purchase deals there too). Last but not least, Nancy Pearl will be doing a book signing for the book on Thursday, March 25, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.!

*My very favorite kind of librarians.