Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Staff Picks--Alie

In the past Alie has recommended some really great mysteries: In the Woods by Tana French, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (which is a total suck-you-in and spit-you-out thrill ride that you want to immediately line up for again), Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris (we just got this in paperback today! I can also vouch for this as a really great read.) and Field of Blood by Denise Mina.**

Her new recommendation is for K. O. Dahl's The Fourth Man: "Yet another engrossing and captivating Norwegian mystery. There are so many available in English now--but this one stands out. A wonderful mystery and interesting characters."

**You can read all her recommendations here!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Time To Every Purpose...Including a holiday!

I'm leaving for Detroit tomorrow to spend Passover with my family, but before I go I thought it a good time to mention one of my staff picks for this month--A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew by Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish Studies at Brandeis.

I first read this last autumn, when I was home for Rosh Ha'Shanah. It was in one sitting, on the train between Detroit and Chicago, and now that I think about it I'm surprised by how many of the chapters (each based around a major Jewish holiday or event) I can still clearly remember. Professor Sarna writes in what I would call a wise-but-not-overbearing style (it's a very tricky thing!) and I felt like he was really speaking to me and the exact questions and struggles I've had about what I want to believe and how I want to live and behave as a young Jew in the 21st century--for example, questions about identity, the environment, social justice, and Israel. Stuff like this--meaty and without being didactic--is rare and welcome!

Galley Grab Winners!

Congrats to Melanie and Deb! Come on by to pick up your galleys--they'll be behind the front register.

I do have one more copy of You or Someone Like You if anyone's interested!

And again, I'd love comments or emails about what kind of books you're interested in seeing offered--I aim to please!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Galley Grab!

Hmm, well, as Katie outed me for giving away galleys here on the blog I'd better try to catch my audience while I can. Here are two books that both have to do with reading...something I figure if you're reading my blog then you're, you know, pretty into doing.

You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr describes the life of Anne Rosenbaum, wife of a movie mogul, after she is asked to lead a book group for Hollywood power-brokers. This might sound zany, but in fact it's pretty heavy. Read an excerpt here.

How to Buy a Love of Reading is a debut novel by Tanya Egan Gibson about parents aghast at their daughter's lack of interest in reading who attempt to combat this by hiring an author to write the perfect novel for her (this one is a bit zany). Read more at the book's website here.

Want one? Leave me a comment with your first name so I can put it on hold for you. I have a few copies of the Burr, only one of the Gibson. Small print: First come, first served. One per person, please. If you've just recently won a galley, maybe hold off on this round, ok?

PS--I'll be leaving for Detroit on Wednesday for a bit of a Passover vacation so if I don't get to your comments right away, please do be patient. Thanks!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Poems I Know By Heart

In Sunday's NYTimes Book Review Jim Holt writes about his endeavors in memorizing poetry, which led me to think about the poems I know by heart.

Two are fairly standard: William Carlos Williams's "This Is Just to Say" and Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening."**

Then there are Robert Herrick's poems. Have you read Robert Herrick? Probably not, or if you have it's his carpe diem classic "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time" which you know as "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may..." It's ok, but honestly, doesn't do much for me--what I really love is his, um, more, um, randy stuff. The stuff to Julia (and her legs, and breasts, and clothes--especially love the ones about clothes!). The stuff to Sylvia and Anthea and Electra...ah, Electra.

So, here it is, the poem I know by heart (I think I might be revealing a bit too much about myself with this one, but hey, what else are blogs written for anonymous readers for?):

"The Vision to Electra" by Robert Herrick
I dreamed we both were in a bed
Of roses, almost smothered.
The warmth and sweetness had me there
Made lovingly familiar;
But that I heard thy sweet breath say,
Faults done by night will blush by day;
I kissed thee, panting, and I call
Night to the record! that was all.
But, ah! if empty dreams so please,
Love, give me more such nights as these.

Alrighty then! And if you liked that, check out "The Vine." It makes me giggle and blush in equal measure (which is what I love about Herrick--a fine combination of the erotic and the ridiculous). Herrick never married and claimed he was chaste, but I always have this image of him chasing his maid Prue around the butcher block a time or two.

What poems do you know by heart? Who are your favorite poets? I'd love to hear.

** As I was just talking about Matthew MacFadyen (if you are not watching Little Dorrit, do it now! You can watch online!), and could talk about him a bit more, here's his reading of "This is just to say":