2017’s Award Winning Books: The First Half

The literature prizes of the second half of the year are about to start announcing winners.  Before we get into those, here’s a recap of some of the big winners from the first six months of 2017.

La Rose by Louise Erdrich

2017 NBCC Prize Winnerlarose-by-louise-erdrich

North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.
The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.
LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister,” Maggie, welcomes him as a co conspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal.
But when a vengeful man with a long-standing grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.” (GoodReads)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

“Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.
As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.” (GoodReads)

And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile

2017 Etisalat Literature Prize Winner

“During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.  In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.  And After Many Days introduces Ile’s spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new.”  (GoodReads)

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

2017 PEN Faulkner AwardBehold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

“Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.” (GoodReads)

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel

“On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.
The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together. “ (GoodReads)

The Fisherman by John Langan

2016 Bram Stoker Award for Best NovelThe Fisherman by John Langan

In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.  (GoodReads)

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

2016 Nebula Award for Best NovelAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

A novel about the end of the world–and the beginning of our future.
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.” (GoodReads)

The Power by Naomi Alderman

2017 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
(GoodReads)

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (trans. Jessica Cohen)

2017 Man Booker International Prize Winner

In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of stand-up. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as an awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies.
Gradually, as it teeters between hilarity and hysteria, Dov’s patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood: we meet his beautiful flower of a mother, a Holocaust survivor in need of constant monitoring, and his punishing father, a striver who had little understanding of his creative son. Finally, recalling his week at a military camp for youth–where Lazar witnessed what would become the central event of Dov’s childhood–Dov describes the indescribable while Lazar wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s story of loss and survival.
Continuing his investigations into how people confront life’s capricious battering, and how art may blossom from it, Grossman delivers a stunning performance in this memorable one-night engagement (jokes in questionable taste included).” (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these yet? Let me know which were your favourites.

Reading List: A Journey Through The Spanish Speaking World

If you’re interested in world literature and Spanish culture specifically, this reading list is for you.  As every reader knows, reading is to travel far and wide where we cannot physically go.  I hope this list guides you on a wonderful journey through the Spanish speaking world.

Since the Spanish speaking world includes so many countries, I’ve decided not to organise this list by country but by publication date.  This list includes some of the best of Spanish literature in English translation with entries from the majority of Spanish speaking countries.

Miguel de Cervantes > Don Quixote < 1605

“Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.””  (GoodReads)

Jorge Luis Borges > Ficciones < 1944

“The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his scepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.”  (GoodReads)

Continue reading Reading List: A Journey Through The Spanish Speaking World

Reading List: A Journey Through The Portuguese Speaking World

If you’re interested in world literature and Portuguese culture specifically, this reading list is for you.  As every reader knows, reading is to travel far and wide where we cannot physically go.  I hope this list guides you on a wonderful journey into the lusophone world.

While selecting titles for this list, I had the English reader in mind so you’ll only find the English translation titles listed.  The Portuguese speaking world includes countries around the world but I’ve decided to organise them not by country but by publication date.  There are a few works from prior centuries but I’ve tried to focus on 20th century literature.

Luís de Camões > The Lusiads < 1572

“First published in 1572, The Lusiads is one of the greatest epic poems of the Renaissance, immortalizing Portugal’s voyages of discovery with an unrivalled freshness of observation.  At the centre of The Lusiads is Vasco da Gama’s pioneer voyage via southern Africa to India in 1497-98. The first European artist to cross the equator, Camoes’s narrative reflects the novelty and fascination of that original encounter with Africa, India and the Far East. The poem’s twin symbols are the Cross and the Astrolabe, and its celebration of a turning point in mankind’s knowledge of the world unites the old map of the heavens with the newly discovered terrain on earth. Yet it speaks powerfully, too, of the precariousness of power, and of the rise and decline of nationhood, threatened not only from without by enemies, but from within by loss of integrity and vision.”  (GoodReads)

Camilo Castelo Branco > Love of Perdition < 1862

Perhaps the height of Portuguese romanticism, Amor de Perdição (Love of Perdition) is a Portuguese Romeo and Juliet. Simão Botelho and Teresa are hopelessly in love, but their families are rivals in Viseu. When Teresa’s father, Tadeu, discovers their love, he shuts her in a convent. But, while trying to see his beloved, Simão kills Baltasar, and eventually condemned to death. The sentence is commuted to 10 years of service in India, but before the sentence is executed, both Teresa and Simão die of broken hearts.” (GoodReads)

Machado de Assis > The Alienist < 1881

“A classic work of literature by “the greatest author ever produced in Latin America.” (Susan Sontag)
Brilliant physician Simão Bacamarte sacrifices a prestigious career to return home and dedicate himself to the budding field of psychology. Bacamarte opens the first asylum in Brazil hoping to crown himself and his hometown with “imperishable laurels.” But the doctor begins to see signs of insanity in more and more of his neighbors. . . .
With dark humor and sparse prose, The Alienist lets the reader ponder who is really crazy.”  (GoodReads)

Continue reading Reading List: A Journey Through The Portuguese Speaking World

Reading List: A Journey Through World Literature

Have you ever contemplated embarking on a reading journey through literature’s most celebrated novels?  If you’re interested in getting lost in some of the greatest books of all time, then this reading list is for you.

The first half of this list comes from the undergrad Lit Department of the San Jose State University and offers you one noteworthy fiction novel per author.  The second half of the list comes from the Princeton undergrad Lit Department and offers a few novels per author. Take your pick.  The Princeton list does have some books in common with the San Jose list but also offers a lot more novels from notable authors from around the world as opposed to mainly from the US and UK.  Included in this list are just the novels but for more genres; Epics, Dramas, Non Fiction, please follow the links at the end of each list for further reading.

Continue reading Reading List: A Journey Through World Literature

TBR Chronicles #14

April has had no shortage of good reading recommendations with all its shortlists and awards.  In addition to these discoveries I’ve been reminded of two classics which I have for a long while intended to read.

The first is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius which is renowned for being a profound read and with all the insightful quotes you may have come across on the internet it’s hard not to see this book as a ‘must-read-before-you-die’ kind of book.

The other is Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman which, in the same vein, is a book of poetry of great life wisdom from which no shortage of inspiring quotes has been taken. 

New to my TBR is a collection of short stories published earlier this year.  An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao just sounds too interesting not to read.

“An Unrestored Woman explores the fault lines in this mass displacement of humanity: a new mother is trapped on the wrong side of the border; a soldier finds the love of his life but is powerless to act on it; an ambitious servant seduces both master and mistress; a young prostitute quietly, inexorably plots revenge on the madam who holds her hostage. Caught in a world of shifting borders, Rao’s characters have reached their tipping points.”

Have you read any of these?  Share your thoughts about them.

TBR Chronicles #13

Some months I barely add to my TBR and others I seem to find endless new books that pique my interest.  March has definitely been the latter but I’ve selected just five of my most anticipated to share with you which I think will be great reads.

forty rooms - Olga GrushinThe first on my March list is a novel published this year entitled Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin internationally acclaimed author of The Dream Life of Sukhanov.  It is described as “totally original in conception and magnificently executed” and the idea of the novel is that every woman will inhabit forty rooms in her lifetime.  I’m very interested to read this and since it is also said to “outshines even that prizewinning novel” (The Dream Life of Sukhanov) I’m betting it’s a good read.

Another newly published novel is second on my list from an author who I the high mountains of portugal yann marteladmire for his incredible book The Life of PiThe High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel is set to be completely different from his other famous novel but it has as its centre the characters of his story and this is an element of Martel’s writing that I enjoy so I’m excited for this book.

the yoga of maxs discontent karan bajajThe final fiction novel on my list this month is set to be published in May and from an author completely new to me.  I’ve chosen The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj because the blurb sounds interesting and in general I tend to enjoy books which involve both physical and inner journeys as this one does.

I recently finished Mark Schaefer’s  The Tao of Twitter a concise and the content code mark schaeferinteresting book which has led me to his latest book The Content Code by Mark Schaefer.  I found Tao very useful and I enjoyed both Schaefer’s voice and style of sharing information so I expect to find this book equally as useful.

APE guy kawasaki shawn welch APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch is last on my list and another non fiction book writers looking to self publish should find helpful and which is a recommended read if you intend to self publish your novel or ebook.

Have you read or want to read any of these?

TBR Chronicles #12

A Pale View of Hills ishiguro

I recently finished The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which I enjoyed so I’ve added to my TBR list his first novel A Pale View of Hills which I hope to be an equally good read filled with his beautiful writing and keen insights.

Originals How Non Conformists Move the World adam grant

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant was published this month and it looks to be a very interesting read.  Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favourite authors, wrote: “Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world.”  Obviously, I am now sold on reading this book.

Wired to Create_ Unraveling the Mysteries - Scott Barry Kaufman

Another non fiction book which caught my eye is Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire.  I have enjoyed reading about creativity recently and GoodReads describes the book as being “Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people.” I’m intrigued.

Among the Missing - Dan Chaon

I confess I haven’t read very many short story collections but this book comes recommended by Austin Kleon (author of Steal like an Artist & Show Your Work).  Among the Missing by Dan Chaon sounds very interesting and is highly rated on GoodReads as well as being  a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction in 2001 so I figured I’d give it a go.

The Man Without a Shadow_ A Novel - Joyce Carol Oates

The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates was published in January this year and as her latest novel I was naturally interested in it.  It turns out that this new novel is about a neuroscientist and an amnesiac who cannot remember anything beyond 70 seconds.  I’m quite excited to read this one.

The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mosteghanemi

My final addition to February’s TBR is a fiction novel to be published in April.  The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mosteghanemi and translated by Nancy Roberts has been earmarked as eligible for this year’s Man Booker International Prize.  Set in Algeria the GoodReads blurb describes it as “A poignant tale of secret lovers brought together and pulled apart as they navigate Algeria’s changing political landscape–from the heady, bright peaks of independence to the dark depths of corruption and disillusionment–this is a sweeping epic and an arresting ode to a once-great country.” 

 

TBR Chronicles #11

This month’s TBR list begins with a book I hope will guide me on the beginnings of the journey I described in New Year, New Goals to teach myself Photoshop.  There are bucket Adobe Photoshop CS6 on Demand by steve johnsonloads of resources available out there from books to online tutorials to help with this but I’ve decided to start with Adobe Photoshop onDemand by Steve Johnson which covers basic to advanced Photoshop skills and can be used as preparation or the Adobe Certification exams.

I am currently reading Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi which I am enjoying thoroughly and so I will definitely be reading theirSuper Genes chopra tanzi follow up by Super Genes.  I have really enjoyed the mixture of science and self help advice in Super Brain so I expect Super Genes to be equally interesting.

This next book has been  on my TBR list for a while but it was only when I heard a reference to the uniqueness of 100 years of solitudeColombian magical realism while watching the Netflix series Narcos that One Hundred Years of Solitude by G. G. Marquez popped back into my mind.  I hope to get to this one this year.

A friend of mine gave me her copy of The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho.  I’m a fan of Coelho’s and I haven’t read this novel yet so I was pretty thrilled.  On GoodReads the blurb says: “How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of whom we are?”.  Mission accomplished, I am intrigued. witch of portobello

The last book on this month’s TBR chronicles is a photography book.  It is Negatives by Xu Yong and is Yong’s collection of negatives taken in 1989.  I sa y collection of negatives because they are printed in negative form and you have to use a phone app, held over the negative, to view the photograph which I thought xu yong negativeswas a very interesting concept.  I found out about this book from the article The Best Photo Books of 2015 By Teju Cole from which I took this excerpt:

“Xu Yong had a camera with him on June 4, 1989, during the protests in Tiananmen Square. He took many photographs that day, but he did not print or publish them. But what makes the appearance of these images in book form remarkable is hinted at in the title, “Negatives”: Xu has presented the photos in the form of enlarged negatives. (The photos can be viewed as positives through the camera of a cellphone, with “invert colors” switched on in the phone’s settings.) The negatives have a ghostly tinge, and effectively introduce a distance into our viewing of the events of that still-resonant day. Though Xu himself is careful to disavow any political intent, the long wait to publish the book, as well as the fact of its being published in Hong Kong, makes clear the ongoing censorship faced by the Chinese pro-democracy movement.”

Cole talks about elements of the publication of this book pointing to censorship and I felt that the unique concept of printing this book in the form of negatives instead of processed images may also be part of this.  I would love to see a copy of this book.

That’s it for this month.  I hope you found some inspiration or if you have read any of these I would love to hear about them.  Share your thoughts.

 

TBR Chronicles #10

 

As the end of the year swiftly approaches, it’s got me thinking about my reading challenge and whether or not I’m going to manage to complete it in time.  For this reason, I went over the shorter novels on my TBR list in the hopes of knocking out a few novellas to get my numbers up.  I know that many of you have had no problem whatsoever reading far beyond your reading goals, congratulations to you!  If any of you, like me, are missing those last few books then I recommend a few novellas!

Here are a few of the short novels I have earmarked for reading:

The Fall by Albert Camus

The Fall

I picked this one because many readers say that it is in fact The Fall that is Camus’ best novel and not The Stranger so I’m intrigued.  At 92 pages you’ll have no problems finishing this one quickly.

“Jean-Baptiste Clamence is a soul in turmoil. Over several drunken nights he regales a chance acquaintance with his story. From this successful former lawyer and seemingly model citizen a compelling, self-loathing catalogue of guilt, hypocrisy and alienation pours forth. “The Fall” (1956) is a brilliant portrayal of a man who has glimpsed the hollowness of his existence. But beyond depicting one man’s disillusionment, Camus’s novel exposes the universal human condition and its absurdities – and our innocence that, once lost, can never be recaptured.” (GoodReads)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

I’ve always wanted to read this classic and at 96 pages there’s no reason not to.

“Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego.” (GoodReads)

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha

This is another classic I’ve been meaning to get to.  This one is 160 pages but still doable if you’re short on time.

“In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life—the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.” (GoodReads)

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities

This sounds a fantastic read and at 165 pages you’ll be through it in no time.

“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” — from Invisible Cities

In a garden sit the aged Kublai Khan and the young Marco Polo — Mongol emperor and Venetian traveler. Kublai Khan has sensed the end of his empire coming soon. Marco Polo diverts his host with stories of the cities he has seen in his travels around the empire: cities and memory, cities and desire, cities and designs, cities and the dead, cities and the sky, trading cities, hidden cities. As Marco Polo unspools his tales, the emperor detects these fantastic places are more than they appear.”  (GoodReads)

Identity by Milan Kundera

Identity

This book is new to my TBR and the concept of identity is interesting to me so at only 168 pages it seems worth it to give it a go.

“There are situations in which we fail for a moment to recognize the person we are with, in which the identity of the other is erased while we simultaneously doubt our own. This also happens with couples–indeed, above all with couples, because lovers fear more than anything else “losing sight” of the loved one.  With stunning artfulness in expanding and playing variations on the meaningful moment, Milan Kundera has made this situation–and the vague sense of panic it inspires–the very fabric of his new novel. Here brevity goes hand in hand with intensity, and a moment of bewilderment marks the start of a labyrinthine journey during which the reader repeatedly crosses the border between the real and the unreal, between what occurs in the world outside and what the mind creates in its solitude.  Of all contemporary writers, only Kundera can transform such a hidden and disconcerting perception into the material for a novel, one of his finest, most painful, and most enlightening. Which, surprisingly, turns out to be a love story.” (GoodReads)

 

Have you read any of these already?  If so, share your thoughts with us.

TBR Chronicles #09

This month has been a bit of a quiet month for new additions to my TBR list.  I have only one new book; The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, which looks interesting. The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science

“In The Happiness Hypothesis, psychologist Jonathan Haidt exposes traditional wisdom to the scrutiny of modern science, delivering startling insights. We learn that virtue is often not its own reward, why extroverts really are happier than introverts, and why conscious thought is not as important as we might like to think…” (GoodReads)

Ultimately it is about happiness coming from within rather than without and as the end of the year approaches I figured I’d try read some books to realign or affirm my mindset for the new year.

Other than this book I’ve just been focusing on which fiction books from my TBR I wanted to read in the final stretch of the year.  I had a couple of false starts at the beginning of the month but I’ve settled on Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo TrilogyPalace Walk is the first novel, which I’ve started reading, followed by Palace of Desire and Sugar Street.

Palace Walk introduces us to his gentle, oppressed wife, Amina, his cloistered daughters, Aisha and Khadija, and his three palace walk cairo trilogy 1 naguib mahfouzsons—the tragic and idealistic Fahmy, the dissolute hedonist Yasin, and the soul-searching intellectual Kamal. The family’s trials mirror those of their turbulent country during the years spanning the two world wars, as change comes to a society that has resisted it for centuries.” (GoodReads)

palace of desire cairo trilogy 2 naguib mahfouz“The novels of the Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence. In Palace of Desire, his rebellious children struggle to move beyond his domination, as the world around them opens to the currents of modernity and political and domestic turmoil brought by the 1920s.” (GoodReads)

Sugar Street brings Mahfouz’s vivid tapestry of an evolving Egypt to a dramatic climax as the agingsugar street cairo trilogy 3 naguib mahfouz patriarch sees one grandson become a Communist, one a Muslim fundamentalist, and one the lover of a powerful politician. Filled with compelling drama, earthy humor, and remarkable insight, Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy is the achievement of a master storyteller.” (GoodReads)

And that’s it for October.  Do you have anything specific you want to read in preparation for the new year?

 

TBR Chronicles #08

This month Margaret Atwood’s new book, The Heart Goes Last, was published.  I really enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale and have a lot of her other books on my The Heart Goes LastTBR so it just makes sense that her latest offering goes on the list.

Another new release coming next month is David Mitchell’s Slade HouseSlade House is the novel which follows the highly The Bone Clocksacclaimed The Bone Clocks which I have also earmarked for reading.  I have quite a few David Mitchell books on my TBR too so these two new releases were not only exciting but also a kick in the rear to get said rear into gear and get through some of these great books.

This month I added a John Steinbeck book to my TBR.  The truth is that Slade Housedespite being aware of his books’ status as classics of literature I have never really found myself all that interested.  Probably because Grapes of Wrath is the one everyone raves about and it doesn’t seem to pique my interest.  East of Eden, however, I am now very interested in because Steinbeck is said to have spoken of East of Eden with pride:East of Eden

“It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years.” He further claimed, “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” (Read the article)

The final addition to my TBR list this month comes from Italo Calvino but not in the form of his fiction.  Why Read the Classics?Calvino’s Why Read The Classics came to my attention as I have been working on creating my own list of novels to include in Lilolia’s Friday Book Feature post series which used to follow some popular book lists.  I read an article on Brain Pickings with excerpts from this book about how to classify classics and there were some points I agreed with and so I was convinced to read this book.

 

Have you read any of these?  I’d love to hear what you thought.

TBR Chronicles #07

Recently, the movie version of Lisa Genova‘s novel Still Alice came out.  I am very interested in the story and only just came aug still aliceto know of Genova’s novels upon discovering the movie’s book beginnings.  So, before I watch the movie I’d like to read the book. (GoodReads)aug rework

I read an article on Forbes in which founders picked their best startup book and the one that caught my eye was Rework by Jason Fried & David Hanson.  I’m looking forward to this one as its blurb on GoodReads has it as a very different business book from the norm. (GoodReads)

aug this is how you lose herI’m just about done reading The Brief & Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz which I have deeply enjoyed.  One of this book’s characters is the protagonist of Diaz’s new book This Is How You Lose Her.  I will definitely be reading this one.  Keep an eye out for my review of Oscar to hear more about the awesome stuff of Junot Diaz. (GoodReads)aug nothing is true

Earlier this month the Guardian 1st Book Award announced the 2015 longlist and from it I have 3 picks I’m hoping to be able to read.  The first is Nothing is True & Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev which looks very interesting. aug shore(GoodReads)

The 2nd is The Shore by Sara Taylor which spans 200 years and follows a family from the past into an apocalyptic future.  I’m dying to see what it’s all about.  It has been compared to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas so that really sold me on it. (GoodReads)aug grief

The 3rd and final book is Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter.  A story about a family and their grief after losing their mom/wife.  This one just spoke to me personally and I do love Ted Hughs so hoping to read this one. (GoodReads)

See anything you fancy?  Read any of these? Share your thoughts with us.

An Unnecessary Woman Literature References Reading List

Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman tells the story of introverted literature translator, Aaliya.  It is a moving novel I enjoyed immensely (read my review).  It is an especially wonderful book for literature lovers because it is brimming with references to and quotes from many wonderful works of fiction, poetry, and some non fiction.  I mentioned in my review that as I was reading I couldn’t help but note down the works mentioned in An Unnecessary Woman.  Here is a reading list compiled of the works of fiction mentioned in this wonderful novel.  It is an interesting and diverse list from which I think you’ll find some reading gems.  This list, as long as it is, is but a crumb of what Alameddine gives us in his novel about the literature referenced.  I highly recommend you read An Unnecessary Woman to read his comments on these and other works as well as specific authors.

Austerlitz (2001) by W G Sebald
The Emigrants (1992) by W G Sebald
2666 (2004) by Roberto Bolaño
The Savage Detectives (1998) by Roberto Bolaño
A Heart So White (1992) by Javier Marias
Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me (1994) by Javier Marias
Your Face Tomorrow Trilogy (2002-2007) by Javier Marias
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens
Invisible Cities (1972) by Italo Calvino
Cinnamon Shops (1934) by Bruno Schulz
The Conformist (1951) by Alberto Moravia
Lolita (1955) by Vladimir Nabokov
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) by Mohsin Hamid
The Shipping News (1993) by Annie Proulx
The Magic Mountain (1924) by Thomas Mann
100 Years of Solitude (1967) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez    [my review]
The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis (1984) by Jose Saramago
Murphy (1938) by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot (1952) by Samuel Beckett
Death of a Travelling Salesman (1936) by Eudora Welty
Giovanni’s Room (1956) by James Baldwin
Corydon (1924) by Andre Gide
Sepharad (2001) by Antonio Muñoz Molina
Sophie’s Choice (1979) by William Styron
Nightwood (1936) by Djuna Barnes
The Leopard (1957) by Guiseppe Lampedusa
Kaddish for an Unborn Child (1990) by Imre Kertész
Fatelessness (1975) by Imre Kertész
Crime & Punishment ((1866) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Brothers Karamozov (1880) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Madame Bovary (1856) by Gustave Flaubert
The Waves (1931) by Virginia Woolf
Mrs Dalloway (1925) by Virginia Woolf
Anna Karenina (1877) by Leo Tolstoy
The Book of Disquiet (1888-1935) by Fernando Pessoa
The Fall (1956) by Albert Camus
The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969) by John Fowles
Metamorphosis (1915) by Franz Kafka   [my review]
The English Patient (1992) by Michael Ondaatje
Dubliners (1914) by James Joyce
Herzog (1964) by Saul Bellow
Hills like White Elephants (1927) by Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) by Ernest Hemingway
The Encyclopaedia of the Dead (1983) by Danilo Kiš
Ransom (2009) by David Malouf
The Colour Purple (1982) by Alice Walker
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen (1947) by Tadeusz Borowski
Alice in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll
The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) by Samuel Johnson
Flight Without End (1927) by Joseph Roth
Hunger (1890) by Knut Hamsun
A Book of Memories (1986) by Péter Nádas
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) by Muriel Spark
A House for Mr Biswas (1961) by V S Naipaul
Midnight’s Children (1981) by Salman Rushdie
Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) by J M Coetzee

6 Books for Aspiring Copyeditors

Having a working knowledge of copyediting can’t hurt; it can only make you a better writer.  With that in mind, this book list is for aspiring copyeditors, freelance or otherwise, but it is also for anyone in the world of words from publishers, editors, and proofreaders, to writers, authors, and bloggers.  It’s for anyone who writes and wants to improve; anyone who works in written communication.  Here are my 6 choices on copyediting with blurbs from GoodReads:

The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller

subversive copyeditor“Each year writers and editors submit over three thousand grammar and style questions to the Q&A page at The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Some are arcane, some simply hilarious—and one editor, Carol Fisher Saller, reads every single one of them. All too often she notes a classic author-editor standoff, wherein both parties refuse to compromise on the “rights” and “wrongs” of prose styling: “This author is giving me a fit.” “I wish that I could just DEMAND the use of the serial comma at all times.” “My author wants his preface to come at the end of the book. This just seems ridiculous to me. I mean, it’s not a post-face.”  In The Subversive Copy Editor, Saller casts aside this adversarial view and suggests new strategies for keeping the peace. Emphasizing habits of carefulness, transparency, and flexibility, she shows copy editors how to build an environment of trust and cooperation. One chapter takes on the difficult author; another speaks to writers themselves. Throughout, the focus is on serving the reader, even if it means breaking “rules” along the way. Saller’s own foibles and misadventures provide ample material: “I mess up all the time,” she confesses. “It’s how I know things.”  Writers, Saller acknowledges, are only half the challenge, as copy editors can also make trouble for themselves. (Does any other book have an index entry that says “terrorists. See copy editors”?) The book includes helpful sections on e-mail etiquette, work-flow management, prioritizing, and organizing computer files. One chapter even addresses the special concerns of freelance editors.  Saller’s emphasis on negotiation and flexibility will surprise many copy editors who have absorbed, along with the dos and don’ts of their stylebooks, an attitude that their way is the right way. In encouraging copy editors to banish their ignorance and disorganization, insecurities and compulsions, the Chicago Q&A presents itself as a kind of alter ego to the comparatively staid Manual of Style. In The Subversive Copy Editor, Saller continues her mission with audacity and good humor.” (GoodReads)

The Copy Editing And Headline Handbook by Barbara G. Ellis

copyediting and headline handbook“Everyone in the newsroom agrees that copy editors are the unsung heroes in the business who, until now, have never had a succinct and authoritative guide for on-the-job use. From counting the headline to line breaks, from decks to jumps, from editing numbers and photo captions to editing for organization, The Copy Editing and Headline Handbook is the complete source of essential information for the copy editor. Whether copy editing on a computer or on the printed page, for a newspaper or for a magazine, Barbara Ellis shows how to clean, organize, and proof copy like a pro. With special sections on libel, captions, forbidden words, job hazards, and head counts, as well as a section of the most commonly used symbols in copy editing and proofreading, the Handbook is essential for every copy editor’s bookshelf.” (GoodReads)

The Fine Art of Copyediting by Elsie Myers Stainton

fine art of copyediting“Many stylebooks and manuals explain writing, but before the release ten years ago of Elsie Myers Stainton’s “The Fine Art of Copyediting, ” few addressed the practices and problems of editing. This handbook has guided users through the editing process for books and journals, with tips on how to be diplomatic when recommending changes, how to edit notes and bibliographies, how to check proofs, and how to negotiate the ethical, intellectual, and emotional problems characteristic of the editorial profession. Now featuring solid advice on computer editing and a new chapter on style, as well as more information on references, bibliographies, indexing, and bias-free writing.  Complete with helpful checklists for the manuscript, proof, and index stages of book production, as well as an excellent bibliography of reference works useful to the copyeditor, “The Fine Art of Copyediting, Second Edition” is an indispensable desk reference for writers and editors confronting a host of questions each day. Why use the word “people” instead of “persons?” What precautions are necessary for publishers to avoid libel suits? How can an editor win an author’s trust? What type fonts facilitate the copyediting process? How does computer editing work? For experienced and novice copyeditors, writers and students, this is the source for detailed, step-by-step guidance to the entire editorial process.” (GoodReads)

Butcher’s Copy-Editing by Judith Butcher

Butcher's copyediting“Since its first publication in 1975, Judith Butcher’s Copy-editing has become firmly established as a classic reference guide. This fourth edition has been comprehensively revised to provide an up-to-date and clearly presented source of information for all those involved in preparing typescripts and illustrations for publication. From the basics of how to prepare text and illustrations for the designer and typesetter, through the ground rules of house style, to how to read and correct proofs, Copy-editing covers all aspects of the editorial process. New and revised features: up-to-date advice on indexes, inclusive language, reference systems and preliminary pages a chapter devoted to on-screen copy-editing guidance on digital coding and publishing in other media such as e-books updated to take account of modern typesetting and printing technology an expanded section on law books an essential tool for new and experienced copy-editors, working freelance or in-house” (GoodReads)

The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn

copyeditors handbook“The Copyeditor’s Handbook is a lively, practical manual for newcomers to publishing and for experienced editors who want to fine-tune their skills or broaden their understanding of the craft. Addressed to copyeditors in book publishing and corporate communications, this thoughtful handbook explains what copyeditors do, what they look for when they edit a manuscript, and how they develop the editorial judgment needed to make sound decisions.  This revised edition reflects the most recent editions of The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.), and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.).” (GoodReads)

Developmental Editing by Scott Norton

developmental editing“Editing is a tricky business. It requires analytical flair and creative panache, the patience of a saint and the vision of a writer. Transforming a manuscript into a book that edifies, inspires, and sells? That’s the job of the developmental editor, whose desk is the first stop for many manuscripts on the road to bookdom—a route ably mapped out in the pages of Developmental Editing.  Author Scott Norton has worked with a diverse range of authors, editors, and publishers, and his handbook provides an approach to developmental editing that is logical, collaborative, humorous, and realistic. He starts with the core tasks of shaping the proposal, finding the hook, and building the narrative or argument, and then turns to the hard work of executing the plan and establishing a style.  Developmental Editing includes detailed case studies featuring a variety of nonfiction books—election-year polemic, popular science, memoir, travel guide—and authors ranging from first-timer to veteran, journalist to scholar. Handy sidebars offer advice on how to become a developmental editor, create effective illustration programs, and adapt sophisticated fiction techniques (such as point of view, suspense, plotting, character, and setting) to nonfiction writing.  Norton’s book also provides freelance copyeditors with a way to earn higher fees while introducing more creativity into their work lives. It gives acquisitions, marketing, and production staff a vocabulary for diagnosing a manuscript’s flaws and techniques for transforming it into a bestseller. And perhaps most importantly, Developmental Editing equips authors with the concrete tools they need to reach their audiences.” (GoodReads)

Have any other recommendations for us?  I’d love to hear them.

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TBR Chronicles #06

This week the 2015 Man Booker Prize Longlist was released.  This is my most anticipated lit prize of the year and you can be sure that the longlist will have a few gems on it.  This year I’ve picked two books from the list that I expect to be really good.

The Fishermen by chigozie obioma

The first is The Fisherman by Chigozie Obioma.  This novel stood out for me because of what Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries and Man Booker Prize winner, said about it: “Awesome in the true sense of the word…Few novels deserve to be called ‘mythic,’ but Chigozie Obioma’s The Fisherman is certainly one of them. A truly magnificent debut.”  I’m sold.  If that’s not enough for you then how about the New York Times saying: “Obioma truly is the heir to ­Achebe.”  I must read this book! (GoodReads)

The Chimes by anna smaill

The second novel I chose from the MB longlist is The Chimes by Anna Smaill.  This novel is set in “a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.  In the absence of both memory and writing is music.”  Yes, please!  The rest of the longlist will no doubt be taken apart by my fellow book bloggers so I’ll wait to hear what you all have to say before I pick anything else. (GoodReads)

VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography by david duchemin

New to my TBR is Visionmongers by David duChemin.  This book comes highly recommended for those who want to take their photography into a more commercial direction.  duChemin is said to be very readable; with a writing style that is both informative and enjoyable to read.  Looking forward to this.  (GoodReads)

This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking john brockman

I recently became aware of the books of John Brockman, publisher of edge.org, who poses a question to some of the greatest and most influential minds of our time and their answers become the subject matter of his books.  The truth is I want to read them all.  Check them out on GoodReads and you’ll see what I mean – interesting stuff!  The book that makes this list is This Will Make You Smarter edited by John Brockman.  The question Brockman poses for this book is “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” with contributions from Daniel Kahneman, Jonah Lehrer, Richard Dawkins, Aubrey De Grey, Steven Pinker, Daniel C. Dennett, Matt Ridley, and Brian Eno to name but a few. (GoodReads)

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything ken robinson

The last addition to my TBR this month is The Element by Ken Robinson.  An oldie (originally published in 2000) but apparently a goodie for those looking to read into creativity and self-fulfillment.  This book is about finding the point where your natural talent and personal passion intersects – finding your element.  (GoodReads)

What are your thoughts?  Have you read any of these?  I’d love to hear about it – you might save me some time.

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6 Reading Picks for Bloggers

Today is the 6th Anniversary of my blog, Lilolia!  I created Lilolia after having just moved to a new country where they speak a different language and I needed a creative outlet.  A book blog was a natural choice for me since I’ve always loved reading but I also have a tendency to dive deep into reading when times get a bit stressful.  To put all this reading to good use I embarked on blogging.  It has been a wonderful learning experience.  My content has ebbed and flowed over the years but to all of you who read my words and to those that even return for more, THANK YOU!

I’ve put together a list of 6 books for bloggers and those looking to start blogging.  There’s a little something on writing, on my favourite social media, the mechanics of blogging, and creating content.  As always, if you have any other books to add I would love to hear about them.  All blurbs are from GoodReads.

Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho & Meg Mateo Llaso

Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community joy cho

“With roughly 95,000 blogs launched worldwide every 24 hours (BlogPulse), making a fledgling site stand out isn’t easy. This authoritative handbook gives creative hopefuls a leg up. Joy Cho, of the award-winning Oh Joy!, offers expert advice on starting and growing a blog, from design and finance to overcoming blogger’s block, attracting readers, and more. With a foreword from Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge plus expert interviews, this book will fine-tune what the next generation of bloggers shares with the world.”

GoodReads

Born to Blog by Mark Schaeffer

Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time

“Launch a business and ignite a movement with a powerhouse blog! “Born to Blog” is filled with practical, street-smart techniques and ideas to help you create and manage a winning business blog. Learn how to attract a loyal following, promote your blog, and write powerful content that generates new business.”

GoodReads

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

“Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing? Why should any of us care?  In The Sense of Style, the bestselling linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker answers these questions and more. Rethinking the usage guide for the twenty-first century, Pinker doesn’t carp about the decline of language or recycle pet peeves from the rulebooks of a century ago. Instead, he applies insights from the sciences of language and mind to the challenge of crafting clear, coherent, and stylish prose.  In this short, cheerful, and eminently practical book, Pinker shows how writing depends on imagination, empathy, coherence, grammatical know-how, and an ability to savor and reverse engineer the good prose of others. He replaces dogma about usage with reason and evidence, allowing writers and editors to apply the guidelines judiciously, rather than robotically, being mindful of what they are designed to accomplish.  Filled with examples of great and gruesome prose, Pinker shows us how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right.”

GoodReads

The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan

The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?

“Anyone can write a blog post, but not everyone can get it liked thirty-five thousand times, and not everyone can get seventy-five thousand subscribers. But the reason we’ve done these things isn’t because we’re special. It’s because we tried and failed, the same way you learn to ride a bike. We tried again and again, and now we have an idea how to get from point A to point B faster because of it.”  Three short years ago, when Chris Brogan and Julien Smith wrote their bestseller, Trust Agents, being interesting and human on the Web was enough to build a significant audience. But now, everybody has a platform. The problem is that most of them are just making noise.  In The Impact Equation, Brogan and Smith show that to make people truly care about what you have to say, you need more than just a good idea, trust among your audience, or a certain number of fol­lowers. You need a potent mix of all of the above and more.  Use the Impact Equation to figure out what you’re doing right and wrong. Apply it to a blog, a tweet, a video, or a mainstream-media advertising cam­paign. Use it to explain why a feature in a national newspaper that reaches millions might have less impact than a blog post that reaches a thousand passionate subscribers.”

GoodReads

What the Plus! Google+ For the Rest of Us by Guy Kawasaki

What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us

“You are ninety minutes and $2.99 away from mastering Google+. That’s all it takes. But don’t take Guy’s word for it. Here’s what three experts have to say about What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us:
“We didn’t expect over 100,000,000 people to join Google+ so quickly. If we had, we might have written a tutorial like this one. Lucky for us, Guy has written this wonderful introduction to Google+. Highly recommended!” Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice-President, Social, Google
“What The Plus is the G+ motherlode! Guy’s book will make you fall madly in love with Google+ and never look back!” Mari Smith, author The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day
“People ask me why I like Google+ better. I struggle to find the words, but Guy Kawasaki not only figured it out but shows you how to get the most out of this new social network.” Robert Scoble, Rackspace videoblogger”

GoodReads

The Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaeffer

The Tao of Twitter, Revised and Expanded New Edition: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time

“You’re busy and you don’t have time to decipher the confusing world of Twitter. In less than two hours, Mark Schaefer’s bestselling book will show you how to connect and start creating meaningful business and personal benefits right away!  Behind every Twitter triumph is a well-defined success formula. This is “The Tao of Twitter” a path that holds the potential to improve your daily life at work and at home . . . if you know the way.  Through real-life examples and easy-to-follow steps, acclaimed marketing expert Mark Schaefer teaches you: Secrets to building influence on Twitter The formula behind every Twitter business success 22 ways to build an audience who wants to connect with you Content strategies, time savers, and useful tips 20 ways to use Twitter as a competitive advantage.”

GoodReads

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10 Top Books about Our Minds

Every now and then I love a good Non Fiction book and I seem to enjoy the books about our minds and how they work the most.  I’ve put together a list of 10 top picks to read about our minds from what I’ve read and what I want to read.  I’d love to hear what you thought of any of these books and share any other recommendations you may have.  All blurbs are from GoodReads.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

I thoroughly enjoyed Blink as many have and I can’t recommned it highly enough.

“Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant–in the blink of an eye–that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?”  (GoodReads)

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Another of Gladwell’s books which I found incredibly interesting.  Definitely a must read.

“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.  Gladwell introduces us to the particular personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends, the people who create the phenomenon of word of mouth. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children’s television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious, and visits a religious commune, a successful high-tech company, and one of the world’s greatest salesmen to show how to start and sustain social epidemics.”  (GoodReads)

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

I loved this book!  Shocking and insightful, it’ll have you looking at the world a bit differently.

“They say one out of every hundred people is a psychopath. You probably passed one on the street today. These are people who have no empathy, who are manipulative, deceitful, charming, seductive, and delusional. The Psychopath Test is the New York Times bestselling exploration of their world and the madness industry.  When Jon Ronson is drawn into an elaborate hoax played on some of the world’s top scientists, his investigation leads him, unexpectedly, to psychopaths. He meets an influential psychologist who is convinced that many important business leaders and politicians are in fact high-flying, high-functioning psychopaths, and teaches Ronson how to spot them. Armed with these new abilities, Ronson meets a patient inside an asylum for the criminally insane who insists that he’s sane, a mere run-of-the-mill troubled youth, not a psychopath—a claim that might be only manipulation, and a sign of his psychopathy. He spends time with a death-squad leader institutionalized for mortgage fraud, and with a legendary CEO who took joy in shutting down factories and firing people. He delves into the fascinating history of psychopathy diagnosis and treatments, from LSD-fueled days-long naked therapy sessions in prisons to attempts to understand serial killers.”  (GoodReads)

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I’ve just finished this book and I found it personally extremely helpful and self-affirming.

“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.  Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.”  (GoodReads)

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

How the Mind Works

“In this extraordinary bestseller, Steven Pinker, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists, does for the rest of the mind what he did for language in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct. He explains what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life. And he does it with the wit that prompted Mark Ridley to write in the New York Times Book Review, “No other science writer makes me laugh so much. . . . [Pinker] deserves the superlatives that are lavished on him.” The arguments in the book are as bold as its title. Pinker rehabilitates some unfashionable ideas, such as that the mind is a computer and that human nature was shaped by natural selection, and challenges fashionable ones, such as that passionate emotions are irrational, that parents socialize their children, and that nature is good and modern society corrupting.”  (GoodReads)

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

“In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.  Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.  At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.”  (GoodReads)

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnman

Thinking, Fast and Slow

“In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.  Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.”  (GoodReads)

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

“For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.  The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a “smart pill” that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a “brain-net”; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.   Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about “consciousness” and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.  With Dr. Kaku’s deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force–an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.”  (GoodReads)

The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot

The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain

“From one of the most innovative neuroscientists at work today, an investigation into the bias toward optimism that exists on a neural level in our brains and plays a major part in determining how we live our lives.  Psychologists have long been aware that most people maintain an often irrationally positive outlook on life. In fact, optimism may be crucial to our existence. Tali Sharot’s experiments, research, and findings in cognitive science have contributed to an increased understanding of the biological basis of optimism. In this fascinating exploration, she takes an in-depth, clarifying look at how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails; how the brains of optimists and pessimists differ; why we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy; how emotions strengthen our ability to recollect; how anticipation and dread affect us; and how our optimistic illusions affect our financial, professional, and emotional decisions. With its cutting-edge science and its wide-ranging and accessible narrative, The Optimism Bias provides us with startling new insight into the workings of the brain.”  (GoodReads)

Sleights of the Mind by Stephen Macknik

Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions

“This book doesn’t just promise to change the way you think about sleight of hand and David Copperfield—it will also change the way you think about the mind.” —Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was A Neuroscientist
“Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, the founders of the exciting new discipline of neuromagic, have convinced some of the world’s greatest magicians to allow scientists to study their techniques for tricking the brain. This book is the result of the authors’ yearlong, world-wide exploration of magic and how its principles apply to our behavior. Magic tricks fool us because humans have hardwired processes of attention and awareness that are hackable—a good magician uses your mind’s own intrinsic properties against you in a form of mental jujitsu.  Now magic can reveal how our brains work in everyday situations. For instance, if you’ve ever bought an expensive item you’d sworn you’d never buy, the salesperson was probably a master at creating the “illusion of choice,” a core technique of magic. The implications of neuromagic go beyond illuminating our behavior; early research points to new approaches for everything from the diagnosis of autism to marketing techniques and education. Sleights of Mind makes neuroscience fun and accessible by unveiling the key connections between magic and the mind.” 
(GoodReads)

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TBR Chronicles #05

Last month (May) was a slow month for my TBR so I decided to wait until I had a post-worthy amount of books to talk about.  Over the years of writing this blog I’ve noticed that come mid-year my reading verve dies down a bit.  I have no idea why this happens but it’s a time when I tend to read slower than the rest of the year.  I’m in the southern hemisphere so it might have something to do with it being Winter.

On PhotographyI’ve been thinking a lot about photography recently.  More specifically about the theory side of it.  One of the books I featured on my A Photographer’s Theory Reading List post was On Photography by Susan Sontag.  A few people have mentioned this book really changed their perspective of the art of photography so this one makes the TBR list. (GoodReads)

I’ve read a couple of Louise Erdrich‘s novels and The Plague of Doves is next for me.  It is about the same family featured in The The Plague of DovesRound House which I enjoyed so I’m keen to revisit them.  I expect to enjoy this book as I have the others. (GoodReads)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain has been on my TBR for a while.  I consider myself quite introverted and so was drawn to the book.  I find the world can be a little too noisy for my liking sometimes so I’m intrigued as to what the book has to say. (GoodReads)

Juno Diaz has been on my radar for a while but I always seem to forget I want to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waosomething by him when I’m picking my next read.  I read an excerpt recently from The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao and found the writing so beautiful that I knew this would be the one. (GoodReads)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldLast but not least is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.  Murakami is another author I’ve been dying to get into but I couldn’t figure out where best to start.  This post on Book Oblivion helped me decide to go with this one because it was recommended as the first one of his books dealing with the unconscious  to start off with.  (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these?  What did you think? Any other similar recommendations?

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A Photographer’s Theory Reading List

The Photosmudger did a great post on the books photographers should read to get insight into the critical theory side of the art.  I want to share with you the top three books on his list that he’s convinced me to read.  To see the rest of the reading list and to be convinced, as I was, why you should delve into critical theory head over to the photosmudger post.

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

Ways of SeeingThis, according to the photosmudger, is “the grand-daddy of them all” and required reading.

The GoodReads blurb: John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.” By now he has.

On Photography by Susan Sontag

On Photography

This one comes highly recommended by many so it’s worth taking a look at.

“First published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being “In Plato’s Cave”, make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.” (GoodReads)

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyThat epic line about looking on eyes that looked upon Napoleon is from this book.  Need I say more?

“This personal, wide-ranging, and contemplative volume–and the last book Barthes published–finds the author applying his influential perceptiveness and associative insight to the subject of photography. To this end, several black-and-white photos (by the likes of Avedon, Clifford, Hine, Mapplethorpe, Nadar, Van Der Zee, and so forth) are reprinted throughout the text.” (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these?  Share your thoughts with us.  Do you have any more suggestions for photographers?

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Write Great Fiction with this Book Series

The wonderful Write Great Fiction series is published by Writers’ Digest Books and consists of 5 titles.  The books are written by different authors and each one focuses on a key area in the construction of great fiction writing.  I’ve been meaning to get to these books for myself and I think they are a very good place to start if you’re looking for books to read to get you onto the path of skills development for your writing.  The authors of these books are all accomplished writers and in particular James Scott Bell and Nancy Kress have written other popular books on the craft of writing.  Here are the five books that make up the Write Great Fiction series with blurbs from GoodReads:

Dialogue by Gloria Kempton

dialogue“Craft Compelling Dialogue.  When should your character talk, what should (or shouldn’t) he say, and when should he say it? How do you know when dialogue—or the lack thereof—is dragging down your scene? How do you fix character who speaks with the laconic wit of the Terminator? Write Great Fiction: Dialogue by successful author and instructor Gloria Kempton has the answers to all of these questions and more! It’s packed with innovative exercises and instructions designed to teach you how to: Create dialogue that drives the story; Weave dialogue with narrative and action; Use dialogue to pace your story; Write dialogue that fits specific genres; Avoid the common pitfalls of writing dialogue; Make dialogue unique for each character.  Along with dozens of dialogue excerpts form today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Dialogue gives you the edge you need to make your story stand out from the rest.”  (GoodReads)

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

plot“The second book in the Write Great Fiction series, Plot and Structure offers clear and concise information on creating a believable and engaging plot that readers can’t resist. Written by award-winning thriller and suspense author James Scott Bell, this handy instruction guide provides: Easy-to-understand techniques on every aspect of plotting and structure, from brainstorming story ideas to building scenes, and from using subplots to crafting knock-out endings; Engaging exercises, perfect for writers at any level and at any stage in their novel; Practical and encouraging guidance from one of the most respected writers publishing today; Full of diagrams, plot brainstormers, and examples from popular novels, mastering plot and structure has never been so simple.”  (GoodReads)

Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

characters“Create Complex Characters.  How do you create a main character readers won’t forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?  Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to: Choose and execute the best point of view for your story; Create three-dimensional and believable characters; Develop your characters’ emotions; Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes; Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story.  With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint provides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they’ve finished your book.”  (GoodReads)

Description and Setting by Ron Rozelle

description“Build a Believable World. How essential is setting to a story? How much description is too much? In what ways do details and setting tie into plot and character development? How can you use setting and description to add depth to your story?  You can find all the answers you need in “Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting” by author and instructor Ron Rozelle. This nuts-and-bolts guide – complete with practical exercises at the end of each chapter – gives you all the tips and techniques you need to: Establish a realistic sense of time and place; Use description and setting to drive your story; Craft effective description and setting for different genres; Skillfully master showing vs. telling.  With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, “Write Great Fiction: Description & Setting” gives you all the information you need to create a sharp and believable world of people, places, events, and actions.”  (GoodReads)

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell

revision“Spot and Fix Manuscript Missteps.  Don’t let the revision process intimidate you any longer. Discover how to successfully transform your first draft into a polished final draft readers won’t be able to forget.  In Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing, James Scott Bell draws on his experience as a novelist and instructor to provide specific revision tips geared toward the first read-through, as well as targeted self-editing instruction focusing on the individual elements of a novel like plot, structure, characters, theme, voice, style, setting, and endings. You’ll learn how to: Write a cleaner first draft right out of the gate using Bell’s plotting principles; Get the most out of revision and self-editing techniques by honing your skills with detailed exercises; Systematically revise a completed draft using the ultimate revision checklist that talks you through the core story elements.  Whether you’re in the process of writing a novel, have a finished draft you don’t know what to do with, or have a rejected manuscript you don’t know how to fix, Revision & Self-Editing gives you the guidance you need to write and revise like a pro.”  (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

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