Category Archives: Book Talk

SJBC – Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

A few month’s ago the internet birthed a funky cool little group reading big important thought provoking books. You can click over to Entomology of a Bookworm and get the whole back story of the Social Justice Book Club (who doesn’t love an origin story?).

This month the Social Justice Book Club is reading Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped and I’m all in. I have my copy and ready to get started. I have no idea what to expect, but based on the SJBC’s past picks, this will be a worthwhile read.

Men We Reaped

Most of the folks reading Men We Reaped are doing an introductory post. So I hope this post qualifies.

1. Where do you plan on discussing this book the most?
I’ll probably be the most chatty here on my blog, though I am on Twitter and follow the #sjbookclub hashtag there. Also, I will definitely find a conversation and talk about it on LibraryThing.

2. Where in the world are you reading?
I am in Birmingham, Alabama.

3. Why did you decide to join in on the reading and/or discussion of this book?
This is the first SJBC choice that I have not already read and I’m ready to give it a go. Most of the ‘social justice’ books I pick up tend to be analytical and history driven. Not dry, just rooted squarely in cause/effect and pattern issues. Men We Reap sounds to be a very personal story, which is a welcome change from what I’ve been reading.

4. What, if anything, are you most looking forward to about this book?
I can say with 100% certainty that I would not have picked up this book browsing on my own. Ward’s experience sounds horrific and I want to hear her first-hand account of what’s happening around the country.

Stumbling Upon a Treasure Chest

I’ve never made a list of all the reasons I feel fortunate to live in the neighborhood I do, but I am certain that the Little Free Libraries would be in the top 5.

Last night, I ran across this little birdhouse of books perched above the sidewalk. It’s fantastic.

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I am not sure who the little librarian is, but they’re doing good work. It was a mix of kid’s and adult books inside. All in good condition. I grabbed one that I think I’ll enjoy. I’ve seen it around. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

This Friday morning, I think I’ll stop by again and donate a couple of books after dropping the kids off at school. The trick is to pick the right two books. Definitely a hardback, I think. These Little Free Libraries are always more fun when it’s not just the dregs found inside.

I hope you’re fortunate enough to be in a place that has things like this nearby. Bookish folks really are the coolest, aren’t they?

Man Booker 2016

This is one of my favorite Man Booker short lists in recent years. Such a great crop of authors and books. The Man Booker Podcast is also back up and running this season. I always look forward to it and it’s usually worth a listen. Also, The Guardian has a good write up with the authors of the books, if you want more. These six books make a great lineup:

  1. Paul Beatty (US) The Sellout 
  2. Deborah Levy (UK) Hot Milk 
  3. Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) His Bloody Project 
  4. Ottessa Moshfegh (US) Eileen 
  5. David Szalay (Canada-UK) All That Man Is 
  6. Madeleine Thien (Canada) Do Not Say We Have Nothing 

I have just started Szalay’s All That Man Is and haven’t read enough to form an opinion yet.

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The only one I have read all the way through is Beatty’s The Sellout. I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Satire is one of the hardest things to write and Beatty nails it! Every single page is dripping with it. But be warned – it is not for the faint of heart. It’s brutal in so many ways. I think you’ll be better off reading where Beatty is coming from before you start reading the book. So Google around a bit.

The only downside is that I read an interview with Beatty that said he was a little disappointed the humor was so well received, as he felt it distracted from the message he was trying to get out there. The message is certainly there and will slap you in the face. But it can be a rough read folks.

Two of the six, in the Man Booker Shortlist, are from Penguin-owned imprint/publisher Johnathon Cape. They have more Man Booker wins under their belt than any other publisher. So it’s another good run for them.

It doesn’t always work, but I think that the award’s opening to a global pool of entries has paid off. I usually prefer when things specialize, but for some reason this really really works.

The final winner of the Man Booker Prize 2016 will be announced October 25, 2016.

Have you read any of these books?

 

FREE Rare Book School Lectures

There is one thing readers enjoy almost as much as reading and that is talking about books. And if the topic is rare books, then all the better. There’s something about the study of preservation and the hope of an amazing find at a used book store that stirs reader’s hearts at a deep level. This is why the Rare Book School exists.

The folks at the Rare Book School readers’ and book collectors’ hearts all too well. I’m sure it’s part of the reason they have made 100+ lectures available for FREE online. Most are audio-only and play in your browser, but some link to YouTube videos where you can see the lecturer and artifacts. All of the sessions last around an hour.

The oldest lecture is from 1973 and the Rare Book School just added another class session from August 3, 2016. Just click through and check out the lecture topics. It’s amazing how specialized the roster of speakers are.

The topics are very very focused and toe the line of strictly academic every second. I happen to think this makes them all the more valuable and interesting. These are real lectures by practitioners and researchers in the fields of preservation, biography, collecting and antiquities. It’d be fun to hang around after one or two of these classes and see what everyone talks about.

Rare Books SchoolIf this kind of thing strikes your fancy then I’d also recommend Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Barry. I just picked it up and am only a couple stories into, but it’s a fun collection of stories. They are all in the “that time a Hemingway 1st edition was found at a yard sale for $1” vein of wishful thinking. Dare to dream.