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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Meryl Streep's Best Literary Adaptations?


On Donald Trump’s first full day as president of the United States, I thought I’d post an article about Meryl Streep, the actress whom Trump thinks is “highly overrated.”  She has had 29 Golden Globe nominations , 19 Oscar nominations (winning three), and was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Outstanding Contributions to the World of Entertainment. 

Signature recently compiled a list of “Meryl Streep’s 10 Best Book-Based Movie Roles” with this introduction:   “Like many other great actors, Streep’s career has a strong literary underpinning. Adaptations make up a significant portion of her cinematic output. . . . And given that adaptations make up more than half of her Golden Globes nominations (and quite a bit more of her Oscar nods), each of these roles was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.”  See the list at http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/01/meryl-streeps-10-best-book-based-movie-adaptation-roles/?cdi=321A47B09DAD4547E0534FD66B0AE227&ref=PRH24BB520913. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

On Inauguration Day: A Reminder about the Need to Read

On Inauguration Day in the U.S., when Donald Trump is sworn in as the next president, I thought I’d direct readers to a book excerpt included in The Wall Street Journal back in November.  The book in question is Books for Living by Will Schwalbe.  His thesis is that “Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions.”

He argues that books “demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s” and so “increase our capacity for empathy by engaging our imagination as they introduce us to new perspectives.”  Furthermore, “By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you.”

I love his closing which seems so apt considering who has just become president of the United States:  “Books remain one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny—but only as long as people are free to read all different kinds of books, and only as long as they actually do so. The right to read whatever you want whenever you want is one of the fundamental rights that helps preserve all the other rights. It’s a right we need to guard with unwavering diligence. But it’s also a right we can guard with pleasure. Reading isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control and domination: It’s one of the world’s great joys.”

Read the complete excerpt at http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-need-to-read-1480083086. I’m certainly going to be picking up Schwalbe’s book.

This past Tuesday, Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed Schwalbe on CBC Radio's The Currenthttp://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-january-17-2017-1.3937973/make-a-list-of-books-that-changed-your-life-suggests-will-schwalbe-1.3937975.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

President Barack Obama and Reading

On President Barack Obama’s last full day in office, I thought I’d share some articles about him which relate to reading.  It is well known that he is an avid reader.

Back in December, Bustle had an article entitled, “8 Of President Obama's Best Quotes About Reading” (https://www.bustle.com/p/8-of-president-obamas-best-quotes-about-reading-25956).  Considering who is being sworn in tomorrow, my favourite is Obama’s comment that “libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information,” a statement he made in his essay, "Bound to the Word," published in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries.

The November issue of WIRED magazine contained a list of 10 books President Obama recommends for future leaders. Serving as guest-editor-in-chief, the POTUS laid out "the books that shaped him" (https://www.wired.com/2016/10/president-obama-reading-list).  According to WIRED analysts, it would take the average reader 89 hours to make it through President Obama's essential reading list. 
Donald Trump could perhaps make use of this list.

Electric Literature put together "every summer reading list, every Small Business Saturday bookshop haul, every all-time-favorite-list President Barack Obama has put out since taking office back in 2008" (https://electricliterature.com/barack-obama-reader-in-chief-fb1e58791422#.xrph9kff2).

Finally, The New York Times had an interview with President Obama about what books mean to him:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/books/transcript-president-obama-on-what-books-mean-to-him.html?smid=tw-nytbooks&smtyp=cur&_r=0

Get ready for the next president who seems to read nothing that is longer than 140 characters!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

PEN Literary Awards Finalists


The finalists for the PEN Literary Awards were announced today.  Ten awards are given.  The one that most interests me is the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction awarded  “To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2016—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.”

The finalists are
We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott
Hurt People by Cote Smith

To see the finalists in all the categories, go to https://pen.org/2017-pen-america-literary-awards-finalists/.

Winners will be announced on March 27, 2017.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

National Book Critics Circle Finalists


The National Book Critics Circle Awards finalists for the outstanding books of 2016 were announced today.  The Awards are a set of annual American literary awards by the National Book Critics Circle to promote "the finest books published in English."  These are the fiction finalists:

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Swing Time by Zadie Smith

If you are interested in the finalists in the other five categories (Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir/Autobiography, Biography, and Criticism), check out this website:  http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/national-book-critics-circle-announces-finalists-for-2016-awards.

Margaret Atwood will receive the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.  Awarded semi-regularly since 1982, this honour recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to book culture.  This is the first time a Canadian has won.

Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Lost and Found in a Library Book

It’s time for a fun read.  Recently Tin House magazine asked librarians what was the most interesting thing they’d found in a library book.

Food seems to make its way into books frequently.  Read the complete article at http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/45211/ask-a-librarian-whats-the-strangest-thing-youve-found-in-a-library-book.html.

Next time, you’re in your local library, ask your librarian, “What’s the most interesting, memorable, or just plain weird thing you’ve found in a library book?” 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Literary Vacation Idea: Visit the World's Great Bookstores


Yesterday, I wrote about a literary vacation which would allow you to stay in a library.  If that’s not possible, you might consider visiting some of the great bookstores around the world. 

A couple of years ago, The Guardian presented a list of 15 exotic booksellers around the world (https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/gallery/2014/oct/10/weird-and-wonderful-bookshops-worldwide-in-pictures).  Then, last year, they compiled a list of 10 favourite independent bookstores based on readers’ recommendations:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jun/19/the-10-best-independent-bookshops-in-the-world-readers-recommend.   If you want to see all the recommendations from which these top 10 were chosen, go to https://witness.theguardian.com/assignment/5435135ae4b0cd82a095eef9

There are also a couple of books you might want to purchase: Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers by Bob Eckstein and The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell.

So next time you prepare a travel itinerary, include a visit to a bookstore!  Regardless of where your travels take you, there’s probably an interesting bookshop where you can spend an hour or two.