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  • Jenny Shank 5:00 pm on 2018/04/02 Permalink
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    Why Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion Is the Ideal Book Club Pick 

    Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion is a great, big bear hug of a feminist novel, a book to linger over and lose yourself in. It’s a book that touches on so many issues and emotions for people in all stages of life that you’ll want to discuss it with someone as soon as you’ve finished it. That’s why we’ve made it the first selection of the new Barnes & Noble Book Club, meeting at stores across the country on May 2.

    This engrossing novel follows the trajectory of Greer Kadetsky, a smart, ambitious young woman who lost her chance at attending Yale because her pot-smoking parents didn’t fill out the financial aid forms correctly. Instead, she finds herself at Ryland, her safety school, when glamorous, famous feminist Faith Frank (“a couple of steps down from Gloria Steinem”) comes to give a talk to the students. Shy Greer screws up her courage to talk to Faith afterward. Faith gives Greer her business card, and with it a possible path forward toward a professional future.

    Meanwhile, Greer tries to sustain her romance with her charming high school boyfriend while he studies at Princeton, and makes a fast friend in Zee, a young woman who has always thrown herself into political causes, including feminism. Although part of the fun of book clubs can be arguing over who liked the book and who didn’t and why, The Female Persuasion is as close as it gets to a guaranteed crowd pleaser. We hope you’ll pick up a special book club edition of the book—including a Reading Group Guide and an essay by the author—and sign up now to join us in stores on May 2. Here’s why we think it’s the perfect pick for a great conversation…over coffee and cookies, of course.

    It’s timely

    In light of our nation’s growing focus on social justice causes and the power of protest—in particular around issues centering on women, among them the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements—Wolitzer’s book is certain both to spur chatter and to advance conversations you may already be having. And tracking Greer’s path from innocence to experience, from stars in her eyes to a weary understanding of the fallibility of even the idols among us, is a theme that will never grow old.

    It’s sharp

    Read this one with Post-Its: you’ll want to flag something on every page. Wolitzer’s evocative, specific prose includes lines like this one, on the kind of nasty cocktails imbibed by undergrads since time immemorial: “It was the pastel pink of bug juice, but immediately had a muscular, slugging effect on Greer Kadetsky.” Or this line, perfectly evoking that post-college moment when new graduates are feeling their way toward what the future may hold: “Jobs made you sit up straighter and scheme, trying to think of any connections you had ever made and could now use.”

    It’s delicious

    Appropriate for a book that starts out in college, more than one of its scenes take place around pizza (“Pizza would be their consolation prize, two girls alone late at night with the soft solace of warm dough”). It evokes the self-consciously fancy finger foods of upscale feminist seminars (“gemological tuna tartare slicked with yuzu gelée”). And it pokes fun at the food that, via Big Advertising, has become synonymous with packaged feminine actualization (“the international symbol of female food: yogurt”). It’s a good thing book club attendees will get a free coffee and cookie at B&N Cafés: this book will make you hungry.

    It’s inspiring

    The Female Persuasion‘s focus on women’s empowerment and its characters’ quests to make a difference in the world might inspire you and your fellow attendees to engage in some group activism. Don’t let the conversation stop at the bookstore doors: take up a collection for a charity that helps women, or write postcards together to support a cause people care about. Though you’ll be a little wiser, perhaps, in where you put your energies after following Greer on her journey.

    The post Why Meg Wolitzer’s <i>The Female Persuasion</i> Is the Ideal Book Club Pick appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 7:45 pm on 2018/02/14 Permalink
    Tags: , love sweet love, , , ,   

    7 Lines from Classic Literature for Incurable Romantics 

    If you’re looking for the perfect sentiment about love for Valentine’s Day, and greeting cards and conversation hearts just aren’t cutting it, why not turn to classic literature for some insights on romance? Here are seven timeless quotes on love.

    “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” –Aristotle, derived from The Symposium, by Plato
     Ever since people have been people, they’ve been thinking about love. Witness this idea, which Aristotle said was sparked by his mentor, Plato, in his work, The Symposium, a fictional dialogue between Socrates and his buddies about love written more than 2300 years ago. This philosophical dinner party banter is credited with inspiring the idea of “soul mates.”

    “If you wish to be loved, love.” Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, by Seneca the Younger
    In this collection of 124 letters that Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC–AD 65) wrote late in life, he quotes this sage and simple love advice, which he attributes to stoic philosopher Hecato of Rhodes. Two thousand years later, it still rings true.

    Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs/ Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes.” –Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
    However lovelorn a teen might be, there’s no way he’s as lovelorn as Romeo and Juliet. Here’s a line in which Romeo muses about the nature of love while chatting with his cousin Benvolio.

    “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.” –Pensées, by Blaise Pascal
    Seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician, and inventor Blaise Pascal was big on logic and reason, but as one of the most famous lines in his Pensées suggests, he threw logic out the window when it came to love.

    “It is best to love wisely, no doubt; but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all.” –The History of Perdennis, by William Makepeace Thackeray 
    Thackeray was a British novelist during the Victorian era, best known for his novel Vanity Fair, first published as a serial from 1847 to 1848. He followed it up with another serial, The History of Perdennis (18481850), which includes this nugget of wisdom.

    “Love flowers best in openness and freedom.” –Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey
    Edward Abbey is best known as a cranky defender of nature, not a writer given to pondering love, but this line from 1968’s Desert Solitaire is as mushy as they come. Abbey’s rep remains intact, though—he was talking about desert plants, not people. The full quote: “The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”

    “Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” –Jazz, by Toni Morrison
    Toni Morrison shows she knows a thing or two about love—forbidden, brutal, sweet, selfless, and otherwise—in her many fine novels. Forbidden love turns violent in this unforgettable novel set in Harlem in the 1920s.

    The post 7 Lines from Classic Literature for Incurable Romantics appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 4:00 pm on 2018/01/26 Permalink
    Tags: awayland: stories, back talk, danielle lazarin, , don't miss them, dreadful young ladies and other stories, , heads of the colored people, kelly barnhill, laura elizabeth woollett, nafissa thompson-spires, , , , the love of a bad man   

    6 Splendid Short Story Collections for 2018 

    In December, people on the Internet lost their minds over a New Yorker short story about contemporary courtship—yes, a short story!—called “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, an author yet to publish her debut book. As a debate about that story raucous enough to make Chekov blush raged on Twitter, Roupenian scored a seven-figure, two-book deal. Her collection won’t hit bookstores until 2019, but whether your interest in the short story form was piqued by the “Cat Person” furor, or if you’re an old short story head who can name the last three editors of the Best American Short Stories without Googling, there are lots of fantastic collections to look out for this year. Here are six notable collections that will hit bookstores during the first half of 2018.

    The Love of A Bad Man, by Laura Elizabeth Woollett
    Melbourne, Australia-based writer Laura Elizabeth Woollett lets her imagination roam across history and the globe, lingering especially in the darkest places, in a collection she describes as “fictional imaginings of the real-life wives and girlfriends of notorious ‘bad’ men.” Her narrators include Eva Braun and Myra Hindley, the wife of a British murderer, once called “the most hated woman in Britain.”

    The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, by Denis Johnson 
    Speaking of the Best American Short Stories, the title story of this collection by acclaimed fiction master Denis Johnson appeared in the 2015 edition, and it was a stunner. The dreamlike tale contains a series of vignettes involving an older gentleman reflecting on his life, incorporating folklore and unexpected humor. “This morning I was assailed by such sadness at the velocity of life—the distance I’ve traveled from my own youth, the persistence of the old regrets, the new regrets, the ability of failure to freshen itself in novel forms—that I almost crashed the car,” Johnson writes. Johnson died in May of 2017, but left this last book for his many fans to relish.

    Back Talk, by Danielle Lazarin (February 6)
    Danielle Lazarin’s debut collection features stories of marriage, families, love, and loss that emit a vibe so low-key and unrushed at the outset that they startle when their depth of characterization, insight, and feeling dawns. Take “Appetite,” about fifteen-year-old Claudia, who has just lost her mother to lung cancer, and meets an infinitely charming young man, George, at a party. George beguiles her by getting every word and gesture precisely right during the time they spend together—like some teenage Cary Grant whose uncle owns a New York City diner—and yet Charlotte knows she can’t hold on to him. “I lay claim to George for a little while,” she explains, “and then I let him go because I think it’s good practice for the rest of my life, because I think the longer you love someone the more it hurts, the more you have to imagine them in places they’ll never be again.”

    Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, by Kelly Barnhill (February 20)
    Kelly Barnhill enchanted young audiences with her Newbery Medal-winning 2017 novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon (as well as several prior middle grade fantasy novels). Now she’s set to conquer readers of adult literary fiction who enjoy fantastical stories with her debut collection Dreadful Young Ladies. If you’ve ever wanted to see a widow pursue romance with Bigfoot (“Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch”) this is the collection for you. It includes Barnhill’s World Fantasy Award-winning novella “The Unlicensed Magician.”

    Awayland: Stories, by Ramona Ausubel (March 6)
    Ramona Ausbel’s second short story collection continues to prove her a surprising, funny, and deft fabulist. In “Freshwater from the Sea,” Ausubel tells the story of a mother who gradually dissolves into mist after returning to her home country, Lebanon. It captures the feeling of displacement and longing for a homeland—as well as the yearning for connection with one’s own unknowable family members—more precisely than a strictly realistic account ever could. Even when Ausubel is at her most playful, as in “You Can Find Love Now,” told from the perspective of a Cyclops as he fills out an online dating profile, the bizarre and fantastic elements of her stories heighten that sense of connection-seeking common to all humans—and apparently Cyclopses. “Everyone has had good times,” Cyclops insists. “Everyone has a picture of himself in front of a pinkening sunset with a glass of white wine. Choose them if you want to. Choose me if you want someone to hold you above his head in the moonlight, bite your wrist until the first rust comes out.”

    Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (April 10)
    Thompson-Spires’ debut delves into the lives of contemporary black women in witty, up-to-the-minute social satires featuring YouTubers, anime cosplayers, and people who eat only fruit. This book comes recommended by master short story craftsman George Saunders, who wrote, “Vivid, fast, funny, way-smart, and verbally inventive, these stories by the vastly talented Thompson-Spires create a compelling surface tension made of equal parts skepticism towards human nature and intense fondness of it. Located on the big questions, they are full of heart.”

    Which short story collections are you looking forward to reading?

    The post 6 Splendid Short Story Collections for 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 7:00 pm on 2018/01/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , green, halsey street, , meghan kenny, mick kitson, naima coster, new and noteworthy, sal, sam graham-felsen, the driest season, the ensemble   

    6 Debut Novels to Watch for in 2018 

    Many readers love the fall, when new novels by well-known authors are apt to appear in bookstores. But some of us prefer the first part of the year, when first-time novelists make their debuts. Here are six notable debut novels to watch for in the first half of 2018.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    Jamie Quatro follows up her New York Times notable story collection I Want to Show You More with her debut novel, Fire Sermon, in which a middle-aged writer named Maggie whose marriage has gone cold sparks up an affair with a poet named James, with whom she bonds over their shared interest in Christian mystics. Quatro cycles back to Maggie’s past, exploring how her faith led her to marry her husband Thomas when she was 21.

    Halsey Streetby Naima Coster
    In Halsey Street, Coster explores gentrification in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn she grew up in through the character of Penelope Grand, who dropped out after a year of college at the Rhode Island School of Design and tried to make a go of it as an artist in Philly before returning home to care for her injured father, Ralph. He once ran a record store, but as the neighborhood turned over and business dwindled, he closed the place, which is now an organic grocery store. Penelope’s mother, a Dominican immigrant named Mirella who worked as a housekeeper, left Brooklyn years earlier, but seeks to renew her connection with Penelope in this engaging debut.

    Green, by Sam Graham-Felsen
    Sam Graham-Felsen, who once worked as the head blogger for the presidential campaign of President Obama, drew on his experiences growing up for this funny, heartfelt coming-of-age tale that follows narrator David Greenfield as he begins attending an almost all-African-American middle school in Boston in 1992. David seeks to gain some credibility and friends who will make his adolescence bearable.

    The Driest Season, by Meghan Kenny (February 13)
    The fate of a Wisconsin family farm in 1943 turns on the actions of a fifteen-year-old girl named Cielle in the first novel by Meghan Kenny. Kenny, who previously published a collection of stories, Love Is No Small Thing, expanded a prize-winning story into The Driest Season. When Cielle discovers her father has hanged himself, she must help the community’s efforts to portray it as an accident so they won’t violate their loan conditions and lose the farm. You’d think that would be enough for Cielle to tackle in one slim, spare book, but she also faces her first stirrings of love, and must say goodbye to a beloved neighbor who enlists for World War II during this momentous summer.

    Sal, by Mick Kitson (May 8)
    Readers who enjoyed My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent should love this novel of the resourceful, 13-year-old Sal, who escapes an abusive home in Scotland with her ten-year-old sister Peppa to live in the wilderness, armed with knowledge gleaned from YouTube survival videos. Author Mick Kitson gives narrator Sal an endearing, unique voice.

    The Ensemble, by Aja Gabel (May 15)
    Some of the best novels offer an immersion in an intense subculture, and Aja Gabel’s debut about the young members of a string quartet promises to offer such an insider’s view. Gabel played the cello for two decades, and in this novel she follows the members of a string quartet as their relationships evolve, their careers take off, and the drama between them intensifies as they rely on each other yet are pulled in different directions.

    What 2018 debut novels are you excited about?

    The post 6 Debut Novels to Watch for in 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jenny Shank 7:00 pm on 2017/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    10 Can’t-Miss Fiction Reads for Fall 

    Beach reads are fun, but when the air turns crisp, many of us look forward to the rush of literary fiction hitting bookstores. Here are ten books to savor as the days grow shorter.

    My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (August 29)
    This literary debut by a young writer who grew up on the Mendocino coast is an intense psychodrama about a sturdy, isolated 14-year-old girl named Turtle with an abusive father. The survival and shooting skills her father taught her, however, come in handy when she takes to the wilderness to try to escape him. Tallent leavens difficult-to-read scenes of abuse with lush descriptions of nature and comic interludes with Turtle’s newfound teenage friends.

    Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, by Venita Blackburn (September 1)
    If you’re the kind of reader who wants to pick up something completely different, take this indie short story collection for a spin. Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, is Venita Blackburn’s promising debut. Blackburn’s prose dazzles in these tales that include stories of everyday people who find themselves with superhuman abilities.

    Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward (September 5)
    Those blown away by Ward’s unforgettable, National Book Award–winning novel of Hurricane Katrina, Salvage the Bones, are eagerly anticipating Sing, Unburied, Sing. It tells the story of the members of a Mississippi family with an incarcerated father, who are haunted by ghosts of the past.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (September 12)
    Believe the advance hype about this engrossing novel by Ng, whose debut, Everything I Never Told You, became a bestseller in 2014. When a free-spirited artist moves to Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland where the lawns and children are perfect, she threatens to disrupt the town’s carefully ordered existence. Ng’s storytelling voice will win you over immediately and keep you hooked through the fiery end.

    The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott (September 19)
    McDermott fans will love this story set in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in Brooklyn in the early 1900s, where the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor call the shots. As the book opens, a young, newly pregnant woman’s husband kills himself. Sister St. Saviour swoops in to save the day, offering the woman a job working in the convent’s laundry. As her daughter grows up among the bleaches and detergents, McDermott explores the nature of sin, redemption, and good works with her tender, funny, and honest approach.

    Five-Carat Soul, by James McBride (September 26)
    National Book Award winner McBride is back with a riveting, timely collection of stories. Expect the unexpected from this contemporary master of voice as he shows off his range by incorporating characters including Abraham Lincoln, teen funk band members, and a boxer who resembles Muhammad Ali fighting the devil to spare five souls from damnation.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan (October 3)
    Early reviews of Jennifer Egan’s follow up to her NBCC and Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit From the Goon Squad suggest prize judges might have a new Egan novel to laud. Drawing on years of research into the lives of women who worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Egan has crafted a compelling mystery saga about a character named Anna Kerrigan, who becomes the first female civilian diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during World War II.

    Fresh Complaint, by Jeffrey Eugenides (October 3)
    Fresh Complaint is Eugenides’ first collection of short stories, which just might win over new fans to the genre. Fans of his novels will want to check out the collection for the stories “Air Mail,” which features a character from The Marriage Plot, and “The Oracular Vulva,” which delves into material related to Middlesex.

    Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado (October 3)
    For a season this packed with new books by prize-winners and bestsellers, this debut story collection is getting an incredible amount of buzz. Across eight innovative tales, Machado muses on the female body, stretching the boundaries of imagination as she does so.

    Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich (November 14)
    Erdrich often ventures into the past for fictional material, but this time she journeys two months into America’s future, when evolution is beginning to reverse, resulting in six-foot dragonflies. The borders with Mexico and Canada are sealed, and all pregnant women must report to birthing centers, including Erdrich’s young Ojibwe protagonist, Cedar Hawk Songmaker.

    The post 10 Can’t-Miss Fiction Reads for Fall appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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