Weekly Roundup – April 18, 2015

This is a weekly roundup of literary news, great magazine articles, and other reading-related stuff. Not all if it is new. 

The New York Times talks about how The Dictionary of American Regional English will probably be shut down due to lack of funds – unless you have about $500,000 to donate to them? 


Mental Floss ponders 10 Awful Words and the People They’re Named For. 

Newsweek speculates on Why Vinyl Has Made a Comeback

The New York Review of Books asks if Agatha Christie influenced John le Carré in The Art of Deadly Deception

The New Yorker explains The Bizarre, Complicated Formula for Literary Fame.

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You 
Author: Jojo Moyes 
Format: Kindle 
Year Published: 2012 
Source: I purchased this book. 

Jojo Moyes’ novel Me Before You has been labeled a romance novel or chick-lit. 

However, the book tackles some very serious issues: What if your life is irreparably changed in an instant? What if you suddenly have no control over any aspect of your life? 

Louisa Clark gets a job as a caregiver for a quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Will was a man who lived big – he was a financial wheeler-dealer, he climbed mountains, jumped out of planes, and loved traveling the world. All that changed when he was hit by a speeding motorcycle and his life was changed forever. 


At first Will and Louisa don’t like each other. Will is understandably bitter – the former daredevil now only has very limited use of one arm. He needs care 24/7 and is completely dependent upon others.

Will was a corporate type and Louisa is more of a free spirit, at least in the way outrageous ways she wears clothes, but is far more careful in her personal life where she prefers things to be simple and safe, due to a traumatizing personal incident that happened years earlier. 

But as they get to know each other, Will and Louisa learn to understand each other more than they thought they would. Will is intrigued by her kooky dress sense and her warm spirit. Louisa gets to know the charming, playful side of Will that he rarely displays to anyone anymore. They grow to care for each other and depend on each other. But is it enough? 

What I Liked: Even though the subject matter is so sad, I thought that the book was well written and was completely immersed in it right from the start. I was curious to see how the book ended. I liked Louisa very much – she’s spunky and fun, but she does need to expand her horizons. 

What I Didn’t Like: At first I didn’t like Will very much. He is very, very bitter, which is completely understandable in his case. He has made a certain decision that will not be changed by anyone else. He also never really tells her how he really feels until the very end. 

His mother is rather cold, but that may just be her way of handling trauma. We all have different ways of handling stress and tragedy in our lives, and that just may be her way.

Also, as some feminists have pointed out, why does Louisa need a male figure to expand her horizons for her? Can’t she do it herself? 

However, because of the dark incident in Louisa’s past, she needs to learn to get past that fear and learn to live again – to live big. Will helps her to do just that.

Conclusion: I believe that this book is worth reading. It does raise serious issues that need to be discussed, which is why I believe this book is a favorite of book clubs.

Musing Mondays (April 13th)

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme, hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm, that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Who, in your life, are you best able to share your love of reading with?


Answer: I used to share my love of reading with my mother, but she passed away last year. We shared a deep loving of reading and would read the same books at times (not always!) and discuss them thoroughly.

I also used to talk about books with my mother-in-law, but she really can’t read books anymore. My husband doesn’t read the same books I do, nor is he as obsessed with reading.

That is one of the reasons I started a book blog: to share my love of books. However, I really want to be able to discuss books face-to-face, too! I now intend to join at least one book club in my area. I can’t wait!

Celebrate Drop Everything and Read Day!

Today is Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R.)!

Why was April 12th chosen for this honor? It is because Beverly Cleary, possibly the most beloved writer in America, was born on April 12, 1916.

Beverly Cleary turns 99 years old today!

Cleary first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. She was inspired by some schools celebrating reading during the month of April. Since she wrote about it in that book, it has become a nationwide movement to celebrate it on her birthday.

Here she is in 2006 when she was a mere 90 years old! 


Even though today is the official day, the celebration is meant to last for the entire month of April. 

Now we can have an excuse to not clean the house, not go to the mall, and not watch television. 

We can read! 

You can read more about it here.

Weekly Roundup – April 11, 2015

This is a weekly round up of book news, great reads, and other literary related stuff. Not all if it is new. 

The Millions this week published an article (adapted from a January New York Times article on love) about falling in love with a reader


The New Yorker has interesting articles about James Merrill, the poet, and Chris Krause, the novelist. 

Editor and Publisher wonders: Is the Party Over for Social Media?”

The New York Review of Books has a blog post by Charles Simic about reading late at night

The New York Times has an article about why “Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A.” by Cecilia Capuzzi Simon.

Also, Atticus Lish has won the prestigious Pen/Faulkner Prize for his first novel “Preparation for the Next Life.” This book was published by a small independent press, Tyrant Books. Mr. Lish expresses his disbelief in winning the award in a New York Times article.

Friday Finds: April 10, 2015

Friday Finds is a weekly blog meme hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm.

I recently scored great books at area book sales.


From top to bottom of the stack:

  • An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden
  • Dear Life by Alice Munro
  • Collected Stories of John O’Hara
  • Literary Brooklyn: The Writers of Brooklyn and the Story of American City Life by Evan Hughes
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  • Shore Chronicles: Diaries and Travelers’ Tales from the Jersey Shore 1764-1955 edited by Margaret Thomas Buchholz
  • The Story of Cinema by David Shipman
  • The Illustrated Brontes of Haworth by Brian Wilks
  • The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to Great Britain and Ireland edited by Dorothy Eagle and Hilary Carnell

Some of these books I have read before (McCullers, Knowles, Sinclair) but not for a long time. The Oxford Guide I have wanted for awhile, and the Illustrated Brontes is interesting because I own the DVD of the British series of the same name, and the Brontes are a fascinating family.

You Can Now Turn Your Books Into Kindle Books

Amazon has now introduced a new tool, the Kindle Convert,  that you can use to turn your physical books into Kindle e-books.

You can read about it here.


You can download the software by clicking the badge below:


In other e-books news, 3 of E.B. White’s classic children’s books,  Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, will  be released in e-book form on March 17.

You can read about it here.

Harper Lee to Publish To Kill A Mockingbird Sequel

Harper Lee‘s “new” book will tell us what happens to Scout and Atticus Finch and the other beloved characters many years after the original book. It is called Go Set A Watchmen. It focuses on Scout as an adult and her relationship with her father.

Well, actually it’s an old book. I’m not exactly sure that you can call it a sequel, either.

After all, Lee apparently wrote this book before To Kill A Mockingbird. Her editor became interested in the backstory of the characters, which were told in flashbacks, and encouraged Lee to write a book on Scout as a child. That story became To Kill A Mockingbird and has since sold about 40 million copies and become an American classic.

The original manuscript for Go Set A Watchmen was considered lost, but was discovered by Lee’s lawyer. It was attached to an original manuscript of To Kill A Mockingbird.

It will published in July 2015 with a first printing of 2 million copies, as Harper Lee wrote it, with no revisions.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/harper-lee-published-july-28687808

Book Review: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by John O’Dowd

Title: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story 
Author: John O’Dowd
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Film
Format: Paperback
Year Published: 2007
Source: I purchased this book.

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story by John O’Dowd is the very sad true story of how a beautiful actress who once co-starred with big stars like William Cagney and Gregory Peck ended up as an alcoholic street prostitute on Skid Row.

Barbara Payton seemed to have it all in 1951. She was starring in a film with James Cagney, she had youth and beauty, and she had a string of lovers. She didn’t care what people thought of her, but flaunting her complicated private life in the staid 1950s didn’t win her many supporters in the movie industry. She paid far more attention to her love life than her career, and people in the movie business did not take her seriously.


Here is the trailer for her best film, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, in which she is touted as an emerging star:


Her apparent inability to contain her private life is what did her in. She had a compulsive nature and a perverse wish to destroy herself. Both of her parents were alcoholics, and Barbara’s eventual severe addictions to drugs and alcohol ruined her career and drove her into prostitution on Skid Row and eventually killed her at age 39. She may also have suffered from an undiagnosed mental disorder, which would explain some of her most self-destructive tendencies, in addition to a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.

The book was meticulously researched and well written. The author goes into incredible detail about Barbara’s life. What I like best is that he shows both sides of the story, not just the self-destructive side, and you get to know Barbara had many good qualities, too.

If you are interested in Old Hollywood, you might be very interested in this book. It is extremely well done.

You can read more about the book here

Book Review: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Title: The Devil in the White City 
Author: Erik Larson 
Genre: Non-Fiction 
Format: Audiobook 
Year Published: 2003
Source: I purchased this audiobook

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America is Erik Larson’s account of The world’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893. There are so many intersecting storylines that happened during that unusual event – including a serial killer who lurked in Chicago at that time.

So many events coincided with each other – The World’s Fair was a difficult project to bring off for the architect Daniel Burnham. The project included construction of many temporary buildings – “The White City” – and included the first Ferris Wheel.

Also part of the story is the first modern serial killer in H.H. Holmes, the killing of Chicago’s mayor by an assassin in the last days of the Fair, and a deep economic depression (The Panic of ’93). 


H.H. Holmes, a trained doctor, apparently committed between 27 and 200 murders during this time period. He even built a special hotel for his victims, including a gas chamber and crematorium! Holmes’ crimes are quite gruesome and very sad. We will never know how many victims he had. Larson really makes you feel as if you know the victims (most of whom were women, but some were men and he even killed children).

I never got around to reading this book, but listened to the audio version of the book on a long trip. It is interesting to realize how different it is listening to the book, since I find reading so visual. It was a little confusing at first, because the narrative jumps around to many different characters, and I had to keep them clear in my head (in a physical book it is easier).

Tony Goldwyn has a fine speaking voice and his narration is excellent. Larson’s story is well done considering how many different personalities are involved. It is indeed amazing how so many events happened concurrently. Larson did an excellent job explaining the complicated sequences of events as they occurred.