Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oddest Title of the Year Award

The Bookseller magazine has just award its Bookseller/Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title according to the New York Times. And the winner is.......The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais.

This book is geared to that slender segment of the population that both cares about dairy product cartons and is happy to spend hundreds of dollars to learn more about them. The book is reported to cost about $1,139 and is actually more of a statistical report. It was written by Philip M. Parker, a professor of marketing at the French campus of Insead, the international business school.

The Diagram Prize began in 1978 and publishers are not allowed to nominate their own books, so as to prevent them from giving books willfully odd names. Past winners include Versailles: The View From Sweden, Weeds in a Changing World, and Reusing Old Graves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Evening Book Discussion Group Announces Book Choices

The Adult Evening Book Discussion Group has announced their reading list for the remaining months in 2009. The group meets the fourth Thursday of every month (except for November and December) from 6:30 -7:45 pm in the 2nd floor boardroom.

Here is the Reading List:
New members are always welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Books Into Movies

Coming in April:
The Informers (Apr. 24 in limited release) is based on Bret Easton Ellis' 1994 collection of linked short stories set in early 1980s Los Angeles. Directed by Gregor Jordan, the ensemble cast includes Bill Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, and the late Brad Renfro.

The Soloist (Apr. 24) is based on the 2008 nonfiction book by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. Directed by Joe Wright, this biography of homeless and schizophrenic Juilliard-trained musician Nathaniel Ayers stars Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., and Catherine Keener.

Looking Ahead:
In May, look for Angels & Demons, based on Dan Brown's bestselling 2001 mystery novel about the secret society of the Illuminati. Directed by Ron Howard, this sequel to The Da Vinci Code finds Tom Hanks reprising his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, and also stars Ewan MacGregor, Stellan Skarsgaard, and Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Slated for June is My Sister's Keeper, director Nick Cassavetes' adaptation of Jodi Picoult's 2004 novel about the increasing medical sacrifices a healthy young teen makes for her sister with leukemia. The film stars Alec Baldwin, Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, and Sofia Vassilieva.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Presidents (Past and Present) Sign Book Deals

The Associated Press reports: President Barack Obama, the best-selling author who received royalties of $2.5 million last year, has signed a deal for a youth-oriented version of his published memoir and a nonfiction book after he leaves office.

Obama reached a deal in early January, shortly before his inauguration, for an abridged version of "Dreams From My Father" that would suitable for middle school or young adult readers. Crown Publishing Group is giving him a $500,000 advance plus 15 percent of the U.S. sales price for hardcover book sales and up to 10 percent for the domestic price for paperback sales.

As part of the deal, he also will deliver a new nonfiction book after he leaves office. Obama didn't indicate how much his deal for the new book might be worth. Terms likely would be negotiated at the end of his term. Former President Bill Clinton got $15 million for his book, "My Life."

The AP also reported: Former President George W. Bush who once famously called himself "The Decider," is writing a book about decisions.

Bush's book, tentatively (not decisively) called "Decision Points," is scheduled for a 2010 release by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. It is unusual in a couple of ways.

Instead of telling his life story, Bush will concentrate on about a dozen personal and presidential choices, from giving up drinking to picking Dick Cheney as his vice president to sending troops to Iraq. He will also write about his relationship with family members, including his father, the first President Bush, his religious faith and his highly criticized response to Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Man Booker International Prize

The nominees are in for the third Man Booker International Prize.

The Man Booker International Prize differs from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlights one writer's continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. The award is given every two years.

Some of the contenders are: E.L. Doctorow, Alice Munro, and Joyce Carol Oates. The contenders were selected by a judging panel chaired by Jane Smiley, writer. She was joined by Amit Chaudhuri, writer, academic and musician; and writer, film script writer and essayist, Andrey Kurkov.

Monday, March 16, 2009

National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Winners

Last week the National Book Critics Circle announced the winners of its book awards, covering books published in 2008:
  • Best Fiction: 2666 by Roberto Bolano (A tale of love and violence set within the framework of the fictional town of Santa Teresa, Mexico)
  • Best Non-Fiction: The Forever War by Dexter Filkin (A you-are-there account of bravery, suffering, and insanity as the Iraq war grinds on—a book that both exemplifies and transcends war reporting)
  • Best Autobiography: My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar. (The story of Sabar’s journey to rediscover his father and his father’s homeland in Iraq among the last remaining speakers of Aramaic, a language now almost lost.)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Library Thieves

An article in the Los Angeles Times Book Blog Jacket Copy discusses the recent report of thefts at L.A.'s Central Library. It's not a crime wave, but it is a reminder to keep an eye on your personal belongings.

The author says: "When I'm there doing research, I haul my backpack (as much a drag as it is) with me when I take a break. It's only sensible. If I were at Macy's, I wouldn't leave my purse in the middle of the floor when I ran to the bathroom."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Read It Before They Screen It

On June 26th the movie based on Jodi Picoult's 2004 novel My Sister's Keeper will be released, starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin, according to an article on the USA Today website. But fans of the book need to be warned -- the movie version has a different ending.

Picoult hasn't seen the movie but has read the script: "Having the ending changed would certainly not have been my choice. I wrote the ending very intentionally because I wanted to leave the reader with a certain message. And changing that ending changes that message. However, I am excited to see the movie and to judge it on its strengths."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Brit Book News

An article on the BBC News website ask if there should be a trashy book amnesty. They said:
"We like to pretend to have read great literature to sound clever. But what about those well-thumbed novels we HAVE read, but are less keen to mention? Time to 'fess up."

The impressively well-read John Sutherland (he's knocked off Tolstoy's greatest hit several times) is an author, academic and critic, but even he has a few skeletons in his literary closet. He said: "One would certainly not want to bring this up at dinner parties, but if, for instance, you look at my bedside table right now, there's Robert Crais' Demolition Angel, Sleep With Me by Joanna Briscoe, The Long Rain by Peter Gadol and Nicci French's Killing Me Softly."

Check out the article for more "dirty literary secrets."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Brits Lie About Reading Books

According to an article in The Straits Times: Two out of three Britons have lied about reading books they have not according to a survey published today. The survey said 65 per cent of people have pretended to have read books, and of those, 42 per cent singled out 1984 by George Orwell. Next on the list came War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and in third place was James Joyce's Ulysses. Asked why they had lied about reading a book, the main reason was to impress the person they were speaking to.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Free Books (Digital Only)

Both F+W Media and Random House announced free digital book giveaways, bringing a cash-strapped readership eight more e-books to cope with the deepening recession.

Free science fiction and fantasy titles can be accessed at the Suvudu Free Book Library.

F+W Media will offer a number of free, practical e-books.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominees Announced

The Los Angeles Times Book Awards will be presented April 24th. They honor 45 nominees in nine categories. Here are the selections for fiction (please see the complete list online.)

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
Lush Life by Richard Price
Home by Marilynne Robinson
The Size of the World by Joan Silber
The God of War by Marisa Silver

The Kirsch Award winner was also announced: Robert Alter, a UC Berkeley professor and author of 22 works on the bible, literary modernism and contemporary Hebrew literature. The Kirsch is a lifetime achievement honor named for a past L.A. Times book critic.