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  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2019/07/12 Permalink
    Tags: , B&N, , book club readalikes, , , , , , , , emily giffin commonwealth, , , , little fires everythwere, , , , , swing time, the female persuasion, , ,   

    9 Books to Read If You Loved Mrs. Everything, June’s B&N Book Club Selection 


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    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for June, Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, opens in 1950s Detroit with the Kaufman family living in a house that could have been pulled from the pages of sisters Jo and Bethie’s Dick and Jane books. But life for rebellious tomboy Jo and traditional good girl Bethie turns out to be far from storybook perfect as they endure loss, trauma, and tragedy.

    In an engrossing story that unfurls against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and women’s liberation, Weiner beautifully explores the complicated relationship between these two sisters, who are on very different paths, and how they ultimately find common ground. But what is a reader to do after finishing Mrs. Everything and discussing it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on July 16 at 7 p.m.? Well, we’ve rounded up your next nine reads to keep you busy until next month. Check out our readalike picks for Mrs. Everything.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Like Weiner’s Mrs. Everything, Lombardo’s stunning debut novel spans the decades, following one family through the many seasons of their complicated lives and loves. David and Marilyn fell in love in the 1970s and had what their daughters—Violet, Wendy, Liza, and Grace—saw as a perfect partnership filled with passion and affection. But in 2016, the four Sorrenson offspring are all struggling to replicate the relationship their parents had as they find their lives filled with tumultuous complications—addiction, an unwanted pregnancy, lies, self-doubt, and more. As the sisters uncover secrets about each other, they also begin to learn that perhaps their parents’ union wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. In the same spirit of Mrs. Everything, The Most Fun We Ever Had navigates the complexity of family dynamics in a rich page-turner that Weiner’s fans won’t be able to put down.

    Summer of ’69, by Elin Hilderbrand
    For readers who loved taking a step back in time with the Kaufman sisters in Weiner’s latest, Hilderbrand delivers a perfect warm-weather read with her new novel set against the backdrop of an iconic American summer in 1969 Nantucket. The four Levin siblings have always looked forward to spending summers at their grandmother’s house, but like everything else going on around them in America, the only constant for the family seems to be change. Blair, the oldest sister, is pregnant with twins and stuck in Boston; civil rights activist Kirby has taken a summer job elsewhere; the family’s only son, Tiger, has been drafted and sent to Vietnam; and 13-year-old Jessie is the only one at the Nantucket home with her disconnected grandmother and worried mother, who’s taken to drinking. Like Weiner, Hilderbrand weaves an intriguing tale of finding strength in siblinghood.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” muses Gilbert’s City of Girls protagonist Vivian Morris. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.” The same sentiment could well have come from either of Weiner’s strong female leads in Mrs. Everything, and readers will be similarly drawn into Vivian’s tale, which begins in 1940 when she’s just 19 years old and follows her all the way to 89 years old, now reflecting on her life. When Vivian is expelled from Vassar in 1940, her parents send her to live in New York with her Aunt Peg, who owns a rundown theater. It’s against this backdrop that free-spirited Vivian begins to explore her own independence and sexuality, eventually becoming embroiled in a professional scandal that will impact her for years to come in Gilbert’s striking new work.

    The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer
    Writing about female power and the exploration of women’s role in society is nothing new for Wolitzer, but her latest read is especially timely and incredibly compelling. Like Mrs. Everything, The Female Persuasion deftly takes on some difficult topics like sexual assault and how these horrific events shape her heroine. Greer Kadetsky is a college freshman when she is groped at a party by a repeat offender, and in the aftermath, a friend takes Greer to see a speech by famed feminist magazine editor Faith Frank, who alters the course of Greer’s life in unimaginable ways. Wolitzer’s book about ambition, power, and what it means to be a woman in an ever-changing world is filled with complex female characters that will have readers quickly turning the pages, yet not wanting the book to end.

    First Comes Love, by Emily Giffin
    Giffin is a master when it comes to crafting tales of romance, family, and friendship, and the case is no different with First Comes Love. Much like Weiner’s Kaufman sisters, Josie and Meredith Garland had a loving relationship growing up, but following a family tragedy, their bond fractures. Now 15 years later, the anniversary of their shared loss looms, and the two women, now both in their 30s, are on very different paths. Single Josie feels like she’s done with dating but desperately wants a child. Meredith has a picture-perfect life on the outside—successful career, husband, and a 4-year-old daughter—but inside she feels restless and dissatisfied. As secrets begin to surface and the women are forced to confront the issues that pulled them apart, they also find the courage to listen to their own hearts about what’s really important.

    Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
    Drawing on her own life story, Patchett has crafted a memorable tale of the aftermath of a drunken kiss that ultimately destroys two marriages. After Bert Cousins and Beverly Keating leave their spouses to be with each other, the six Cousins and Keatings children form a lasting bond over their shared disillusionment with their parents while spending summers together in Virginia. In her 20s, one of the siblings, Franny, shares the family’s story with a prominent author, and suddenly, the Cousins’ and Keatings’ story—including a tragic shared loss—is no longer their own. Patchet’s nonlinear timeline and rotating cast of characters show how the differing points of view affect how events both major and everyday are remembered, lending even more depth to a story sure to be loved by fans of Mrs. Everything.

    Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
    Smith expertly weaves together moments of the present day and of memories from the past in her extraordinary book about two girls who dream of being dancers—but only one has the skills to make it. Tracey, who has a white mother and a black father, is an incredible tap dancer, while her good friend—the unnamed narrator—is hampered by her flat feet. The two have a close but complicated childhood friendship, which comes to a sudden end in their early 20s, the effects of which continue to reverberate for many years to come. Readers who were enthralled with the complex relationship between the sisters in Weiner’s Mrs. Everything will love Smith’s Swing Time.

    Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
    Those who couldn’t put Mrs. Everything down will likely find themselves staying up into the wee hours to finish Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. In the compelling drama, free-spirited artist Mia moves with her teenage daughter, Pearl, to a home owned by the Richardson family in Shaker Heights, an affluent Cleveland suburb where everyone is expected to follow the town’s social status quo. Mia quickly befriends Elena Richardson and her family, who are all drawn to the enigmatic single mom. So when Mia opposes the Richardson’s family friends’ controversial custody battle for a Chinese-American baby, Elena Richardson turns against her, determined to uncover Mia’s closely held secrets at all costs.

    The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    Lots of families have dysfunction, but the Plumb family in The Nest really kicks it up a notch. The author expertly infuses dark humor into the tale of the now-middle-aged Plumb siblings—Leo, Beatrice, Jack, and Melody—who are awaiting the division of their trust fund, or “the nest” as the foursome call it, that their father left them following his untimely death when the kids were adolescents. The nest has been growing ever since, to be divvied up when the youngest turns 40. All of the siblings are desperate to get their hands on their share of the money, only to learn that it’s now in jeopardy thanks to the medical bills of a young woman who was badly injured when a drunk and high Leo crashed his car with her as the passenger. Beatrice, Jack, and Melody all prepare to confront their brother, fresh out of rehab, in this intoxicating story of how family has the power to both let you down and pull you back up, which will surely appeal to those who have just finished Weiner’s latest read.

    What books would you recommend for readers who loved Mrs. Everything?

    The post 9 Books to Read If You Loved <i>Mrs. Everything</i>, June’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • BN Editors 6:00 pm on 2019/06/17 Permalink
    Tags: a woman of of no importance, B&N, best of 2019, black leopard red wolf, , , every man a hero, , furious hours, , land of the ozarks, , midnight in chernobyl, must read list, , , , supermarket, the border, , , the lost girls of paris, the matricarch, the moment of lift, , the second mountain, , , , women rowing north   

    The Best Books of 2019… So Far 


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    The year isn’t over, but so many fantastic new books have already been published, that we would feel amiss if we didn’t stop to recognize some of our favorite reads thus far. Divided in separate lists of fiction and nonfiction, here are 30 books that have amazed and inspired us in 2019.

    Fiction

    Ask Again, Yes, by Mary Beth Keane
    Readers will immediately feel pulled into this absorbing story of two families whose lives are forever entwined. As next-door neighbors in a New York suburb, and colleagues at the police department, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope first met in the 1970s. The two men were never exactly friends, but in the ensuing years, their children Peter and Kate have grown up together and are quite close. When a shocking act tears the neighbors apart, can either family find a way back from the depths of trauma? Will Peter and Kate’s now-forbidden relationship overcome their parents’ misgivings? Keane’s new book is tender and wise, literary fiction of the highest caliber.

    How Not to Die Alone, by Richard Roper
    Years ago, Andrew made a split-second decision to pretend he was a family man in order to secure a job. His seemingly benign lie has come back to haunt him when a new employee and mentee, Peggy, enters his life and his heart. Like the rest of Andrew’s colleagues, Peggy assumes Andrew is married with two daughters, so how can he come clean after all this time? Each moment of his career feels like a glimpse into his own future; as an administrator in the U.K.’s Death Council, Andrew is responsible for going through the belongings of people who have died alone. If Andrew doesn’t make some changes, he may very well share their fate. Don’t miss this clever, poignant read.

    Sunset Beach, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Drue Campbell’s life isn’t going the way she expected. Once a gifted athlete, an injury has ended that dream before it began. She’s jobless and unmoored, and when her estranged father shows up at her mother’s funeral, having recently married her high-school frenemy, things seem to go from bad to worse. But then she finds out she’s inherited her grandparents’ beach house, and her father offers her a job at his personal injury law firm, which she takes in desperation. Fielding phone calls isn’t very exciting—until she stumbles into a murder mystery that leads her to an old cold case involving a missing person that might be connected to her own family. Drue’s life is still not going the way she expected, but she’s certainly not bored. A sharp, fast-paced novel with a quirky, unconventional protagonist, this one is an unforgettable beach read with bite.

    The Border, by Don Winslow
    After losing everything but his career in the war against drug kingpin Adán Barrera, Art Keller finds himself at the top of the DEA, with Barrera defeated. But the war on drugs has come home in a flood of cheap heroin that’s killing Americans at a record pace. As Keller moves to block this deadly invasion, he finds himself fighting not Mexican drug cartels, but his own bosses in Washington. Politically motivated enemies are one thing, but Keller begins to suspect the shocking truth—the incoming administration is actually partnered with the very cartels he has spent his life fighting. Winslow concludes his bloody, operatic trilogy delving into the chaotic war on drugs with a suitably intense final act.

    The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sara Collins
    Set in the early 19th century, this story follows Frannie, a slave owned by John Langton, who is given to George Benham in London. Benham has Frannie spy on his wife, Meg, whom he suspects of scandal, but Frannie and Meg become lovers. When George and Meg are found murdered, Frannie is arrested—but claims she cannot remember the events leading up to their deaths. This breathtaking novel combines all the pleasures of a historical romance and a murder mystery, made all the more complex and tragic by Frannie’s status as a slave.

    The Unhoneymooners, by Christina Lauren
    Olive Torres has found herself at a bit of a low point. She’s just been laid off, for one, and now she has to spend her twin sister’s wedding attached to best man Ethan Thomas, who just happens to be her nemesis. Then something rather horrible but also rather wonderful happens: Everyone in the wedding party gets a bad bout of food poisoning. Ethan and Olive, however, are not afflicted, which means they get to go on the honeymoon that the bride and groom can no longer enjoy. The two form a temporary truce and head off to Maui, where they soon realize they have more in common than they’d ever imagined. This witty, heartfelt, enemies-to-lovers romance will leave you utterly charmed.

    City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Gilbert serves up a frothy mixture of period piece, salacious gossip-girl drama, and coming-of-age energy as she tells the story of 19-year old Vivian Morris. Vivian, kicked out of Vassar, is sent to live with her Aunt Peg in New York City as World War II boils over across the ocean. The move suits Vivian just fine, as she finds working at her aunt’s disreputable theater, drinking and flirting in nightclubs, listening to jazz music and falling in love with an actor to be the best possible way to spend her time. As Vivian is slowly forced to face the consequences of her actions and her adventures, she also becomes aware that her privileged existence is in sharp contrast to the horrors unfolding around the world as Gilbert expertly ramps up the psychological complexity in this gorgeously told story.

    Supermarket, by Bobby Hall
    This first novel written by Bobby Hall—a.k.a., rap star Logic—is a dense, dark thriller that will keep surprising you. Flynn is a depressed young man who takes a job at a supermarket because he needs something—anything—to give him a reason to get out of bed in the morning and leave his mother’s house. At the store he journals, observing the weirdos and freaks he works with, the customers, and the adorable coworker he’s falling for. When a horrible crime is committed at the supermarket, everything changes, and Flynn begins questioning his reality. It’s no surprise this sublimely creative breakout novel became an instant bestseller.

    On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
    This nonlinear roman à clef debut from a critically lauded poet is written as though from a son to his illiterate mother. It depicts a family history of intergenerational abuse mixed with fierce love. The letter writer, known as Little Dog, feels like an outsider in a variety of ways. As a teenager, he emigrated to America from Vietnam with the three women who make up his world: mother, grandmother, and aunt, each traumatized by the Vietnam War. As a young gay man, and the first of his family to attend college, he attempts to reconcile the violence of the past with a future that won’t hold still or accommodate narrative conclusions. In short, it’s like real life: messy, tragic, lovely, and painful all at once.

    The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides
    Six years ago, artist Alicia Berenson painted a psychologically dense work based on a Greek myth, then allegedly tied her husband, Gabriel, to a chair and shot him in the face. Alicia hasn’t spoken a word since, spending her time in a drugged daze at the Grove, a secure forensic facility in North London. Theo Faber is the wounded, gifted psychotherapist who convinces Alicia’s doctors to let him try to get her to speak. Theo’s work with the silent patient is interspersed with excerpts of Alicia’s diary leading up to the day of Gabriel’s murder. As the clues about what truly happened begin to fall into place, Theo’s personal and professional worlds blur dangerously, leading to an explosive conclusion.

    The Sentence is Death, by Anthony Horowitz
    The second novel in the addictive Daniel Hawthorne series features Hawthorne’s investigation into the murder of a famous divorce lawyer—found bludgeoned to death with a very expensive bottle of wine. But the victim wasn’t a drinker. And what’s to be made of his enigmatic last recorded words: “You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…”? Horowitz’s famously recalcitrant detective is accompanied once again, in a brilliantly meta twist, by novelist/author Anthony Horowitz, whose inexperience in the arena of crime solving is made up for by his enthusiasm. This elegantly written series is full of shocking twists and manages to feel at once like a crime fiction classic, and a fresh, modern take on the genre.

    The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff
    An abandoned suitcase discovered in Grand Central Terminal in 1946 contains the photographs of twelve female spies. The owner of the suitcase has been killed and now it’s up to young war widow Grace Healy to uncover what happened to the women who were sent behind enemy lines, never to return. Grace is joined by her late husband’s best friend, Mark, as she digs for the truth about the group’s leader and its most vulnerable spy, a young mother named Marie who worked as a radio operator sending covert transmissions out of Paris. Perfect for fans of Resistance Women and Lilac Girls.

    A Bend in the Stars, by Rachel Barenbaum
    With the real-life solar eclipse of 1914 as its inspiration, this heartpounding historical drama set in WWI-era Russia depicts the Abramov siblings at the most pivotal moment of their lives. Raised by their matchmaker grandmother, physicist Vanya and surgeon Miri (who is stigmatized because she’s a woman) have grown up to become formidable game changers in their respective fields. In fact, Vanya’s work could end up proving or disproving Einstein’s theory of relativity. But amid the outbreak of war, Vanya disappears and Miri must risk her life to locate him.

    Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips
    In this intense, original, must-read debut, two sisters vanish from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, and over the course of twelve chapters (each representing a month in the year that follows), readers will come to know the female denizens of the isolated, shoreline community as they respond in very different ways to the crime. From the girls’ mother, to witnesses, detectives, and other possible victims, every character is vividly rendered, as are the locations and histories that wind around the story like vines.

    Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
    This novel is a deeply literary work, bordering at times on the poetic in its imagery, but it is also enormously fun, with imaginative worldbuilding and a plot that is both measured and propulsive. The Black Leopard is a mercenary able to shape-shift into a jungle cat, and the Red Wolf, also called Tracker, is a hunter of lost folk, with an incredible sense of smell that enables him to hone in on his quarry from vast distances. Sometimes with Leopard and sometimes alone, Tracker works his way across Africa in search of a kidnapped boy, moving through a beautiful, densely detailed world of violence, storytelling, dark magic, giants, and inhuman entities.

    Non-Fiction

    From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, by Tembi Locke
    In this vibrant and poignant real-life story of love, loss, and Sicilian cooking, actress Tembi Locke describes three summers she spent in Italy with her daughter, Zoela. Locke met her future husband, Sara, on a street in Florence—his traditional Sicilian family didn’t approve of the courtship with a black American who was also an actress. The two ultimately married and created a life in Los Angeles, before a devastating cancer diagnosis changed everything. Reconnecting with her husband’s family, Locke comes to find solace at the table of her mother in law, and discovers the healing power of family, community, and food. The book concludes with a large selection of the recipes that she describes, rounding out the experience of reading her moving story.

    Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, by Adam Higginbotham
    The HBO series has provided a much-needed revival in interest in the 1986 accident in what was then Soviet Ukraine. Of course, there’s a great deal more to such a significant story then even a very well done miniseries can offer, so Higginbotham’s definitive, years-in-the-making chronicle is perfectly timed. The author spent over a decade conducting interviews and researching documents, some available for the first time, to provide a detailed accounting of not just the disaster, but of its context: of the time and place, of the carelessness and lies that made it seem almost inevitable, and of the difficult aftermath. This new accounting tells of Chernobyl through the stories of people who lived through it, making it both compelling history and a timely reminder of the costs of carelessness.

    Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age, by Mary Pipher
    A daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, caregiver, clinical psychologist, AND cultural anthropologist, Pipher is uniquely qualified to discuss the challenges and joys of aging for women in the modern world (more than two decades ago she similarly analyzed the difficulties of being a teenaged girl in the media age). Ageism becomes more prominent with each passing year, and misogyny never goes away, but Pipher also shows that older women can, and often do, turn their experiences and struggles into a reserve of wisdom and gratitude that can serve them well and lead to lasting happiness. Pipher doesn’t just offer platitudes, but real, sensible advice on things like life-centering exercises, finding friends and community, avoiding isolation, and even navigating end-of-life care in the face of loss. It’s an essential book for women stepping into old age (and those who hope to get there someday), but also for the loved ones of those women.

    Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America, by Bill Geist
    Author and recently retired CBS News correspondent Geist was popular for over three decades for his lighthearted, wonderfully corny human interest segments covering some of the weirder corners of American life. In his latest, the baby boomer looks back to his own childhood in the midcentury American midwest. Specifically, he revisits the middle-class summer vacation hot spot, Lake of the Ozarks, and the eccentric personalities who influenced Geist’s life and career. It’s a charming, often very funny, portrait of a bygone era.

    Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land with Barbara Ehrenreich
    In her already acclaimed new memoir, Land recounts the years of her early adulthood, when a summer fling became an unexpected pregnancy, derailing (for a time) her hopes of college and a journalism career. In order to provide for herself and her child, the single mother worked maid service jobs by day while attending college classes at night, all the while writing about her experiences. She recounts her story here, shining a bright light on the stigma that attends being one of the working poor—of the judgement and dismissal by employers and government aid workers, and of the impossibility of sustaining a family on a minimum wage. The book is compassionate, but also honest and unflinching about what life is like for the people who often work the hardest for bare subsistence wages.

    Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
    At some point, the king of shock jocks became true radio royalty with a career spanning over four decades and success across multiple mediums. His first book became a hit movie, and his second was also a bestseller—but that was over 20 years ago, and much has changed in the life of Howard Stern since, from hisdeparture from terrestrial radio, to his mega-bucks deal with SiriusXM, to shakeups in his personal life. It’s clear in this memoir that he has plenty of new stories to tell about his life, his celebrity encounters, and his perspective on the ever-changing realities of the radio business.

    Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep
    In the 1970s, one Reverend Willie Maxwell was accused of killing five of his family members for insurance money. After he had given the eulogy for the stepdaughter he’d allegedly murdered, he himself was shot by another relative. The same lawyer who defended the Reverend secured an acquittal for the vigilante. No one was more intrigued by the sordid story than Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, who spent years working on a never-published true crime work to rival that of her friend Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. In this fascinating new book, Casey Cep explores both the original crime and Lee’s obsessive, ultimately futile work to craft it into a powerful work of non-fiction.

    The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, by David McCullough
    David McCullough, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, returns with an in-depth study of the settlement of the Northwest Territory, telling the stories of the hardy and fearless pioneers who traveled into the unknown determined to enlarge and enrich our country with their bare hands and at risk of their very lives. The movement west began sooner than most people realize, with the first settlers—veterans of the Revolutionary War—arriving in Ohio in 1788. McCullough tells the story of the town they carved out of the wilderness through the eyes of five historical figures, who becomes characters in a story about bravery, tragedy, diplomacy, and the conquest of a wilderness that wanted nothing more than to sweep them aside.

    Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-to Guide, by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
    Kilgariff and Hardstark helm the immensely popular podcast ‛My Favorite Murder,’ and here offer a combination memoir and self-help book that crackles with their easy banter and personal chemistry. You might think self-help and true-crime—even the humorous kind of true crime the podcast trades in—would be an odd combination, but Kilgariff and Hardstark effortlessly link the two, showing how many of their own mistakes put them into vulnerable positions that wouldn’t be out of place as the introduction to an unsolved assault or murder. In the end, their message is simple and powerful: stop being polite and start advocating for yourself. That message is delivered with warmth and wit, making this a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the messy lives of two very interesting people.

    A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II, by Sonia Purnell
    “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” That was the message sent out by the Gestapo in 1942 regarding Baltimore socialite Virginia Hall, who had escaped to London from Vichy-controlled Paris and joined up with the spies at the Special Operations Executive. Referred to as “the limping lady” because of her prosthetic leg, she returned to France to coordinate the underground resistance effort. Her cover blown, she then escaped on foot to Spain before venturing back into France again to lead guerrilla forces in advance of the Normandy landing. Hall’s is an incredible true story, and its told like never before in this book by celebrated journalist and historian Sonia Purnell.

    Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War, by Ray Lambert and Jim DeFelice
    The number of individuals who can recount firsthand their experiences during World War II is sadly dwindling, but that doesn’t mean there are no new stories left to tell. Ninety-eight-year-old Ray Lambert was a combat medic and among the first wave of Allied soldiers to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Lambert grew up on a farm in Alabama during the Great Depression before he and his brother enlisted for service that took them to some of the war’s most important and harrowing battles. Timed for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, Lambert’s memoir is a powerful addition to the library of works about the greatest and most terrible conflict in history.

    The Second Mountain, by David Brooks
    Part of what makes finding meaning and purpose so difficult is there are so many ways we can seek to do it: we might do deep personal work. We might grow a family. We might lead a city through a crisis or head up a classroom. Everything from writing a book to praying in solitude can bring meaning to our lives and the wider world. Writer and commentator David Brooks has thought deeply about how to blend these commitments into a coherent whole that feels personal and full of purpose. In The Second Mountain, he encourages readers to understand their calling in life and engage with their world. His words will resonate with everyone from graduates to grandparents, but his real aim goes beyond individual readers. He hopes to infuse our entire society with more meaning and purpose. There is a powerful image in Brooks’ description of two mountains. Those who are striving for fame, security, or validation are on a mountain they’ll never stop climbing—if they do reach the top, they’ll realize the accomplishment feels hollow. Life is really about climbing off that mountain and onto a different one, built decision by decision, the shape of a meaningful life, full of days driven less by outer markers of success and more by how we can serve others. On that second mountain, we begin a quest to focus on others through work, faith, family, and service to the community.

    The Moment of Lift, by Melinda Gates
    No one can say Melinda Gates hasn’t had an impact on the world; she’s devoted much of her life to serving in powerful ways. In The Moment of Lift, she argues that if we lift up women, we will lift the entire world, including the people most desperately in need. As she details the issues women around the world face, including everything from child marriage to harassment, it’s impossible not to feel inspired to take action. If you’re not sure where to get started, Gates offers issues that will call to those on the second mountain. She encourages readers to join the movement in her new book; part manifesto, part memoir, and part call to action. We don’t need to be perfect to begin. We don’t need to become bodhisattvas to find purpose. We need simply to reflect, focus on what matters, and when the path curves, swerve toward meaning, service, and connection.

    The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynastyby Susan Page
    Even before publication, this memoir of the former first lady made headlines for its candid observations about the current state of presidential politics, but journalist Page covers the entirety of Bush’s life, informed by extensive research, personal diaries, and interviews with family, friends, and Mrs. Bush herself during the last six months of her life. Sometimes controversial and frequently underestimated, Barbara Bush molded herself into the powerful head of a family that produced two United States presidents while navigating he rrole as a prominent woman across generations of change.

    The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, by Rick Atkinson
    Rick Atkinson, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning works on World War II, steps further back  in time to chronicle the first two years of the American Revolution. This is the first book of what will be a trilogy covering the entirety of the war. With an incredible level of detail and benefittingfrom new research (including access to materials only recently made available), Atkinson begins with the battles at Lexington and Concord and focuses on the lives of the extraordinary individuals who play key roles in the country’s founding and the subsequent, seemingly unwinnable conflict. This isn’t a whitewashed look back: the author considers the British perspective on the war and isn’t shy about exploring the hypocrisy of the slave-owning American leaders.

    What’s the best new book you’ve read in 2019?

    The post The Best Books of 2019… So Far appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2019/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , ann patchet, B&N, , , grange house, hotel new hampshire, , , , , , sarah perry, , the essex serpent, , , , the ninth hour, the postmistress   

    12 Books to Read if You Loved The Guest Book, May’s B&N Book Club Selection 


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    The Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for May, Sarah Blake’s The Guest Book, opens in 1935 with the story of Ogden Milton, the head of a wealthy and privileged American family at the height of its power. When tragedy strikes, Ogden purchases an island in Maine in an attempt to help his wife Kitty overcome unspeakable loss. It quickly becomes a place of central importance to the family, one that bears witness over the years as three generations of Miltons struggle through the decline of their social status and the erosion of their family fortune. A lush novel, filled with secrets that are slowly revealed as Blake moves back and forth through time, The Guest Book is filled with incisive observations about wealth, systemic racism, and the lengths a family will go to in order to conceal the dark and unpleasant truths behind its legacy. Once you’ve read The Guest Book and discussed it at your local B&N Book Club meeting on June 11th at 7pm, you may find yourself adrift, looking for your next great read and wondering what could possibly follow in the footsteps of this haunting and evocative novel. That’s where we come in. Here are twelve books to read once you’ve (regretfully) finished The Guest Book.

    The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake
    If you loved The Guest Book, your next stop is Blake’s intricate, thought-provoking 2011 novel The Postmistress. Set during World War II, the story is anchored by three very different women—Iris, the straitlaced postmistress of the Cape Cod town of Franklin; Emma, the young, lonely wife of newly-arrived doctor Will; and Frankie, a self-reliant journalist covering the Blitz in London. Blake follows the lives of these women as Will, crushed by a tragic mistake, heads to London to make himself useful and meets Frankie, leaving a very pregnant Emma behind to wonder about his fate. All the threads come together when Iris, normally a fierce defender of the sanctity of the postal system, confiscates a letter, setting events in motion she can’t possibly predict.

    Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
    If your sweet spot in The Guest Book was the inexorable ripple-effect of unintended consequences that come from even the smallest of choices, imagine a book about a girl who experiences all the alternate lives she might have led. In 1910, Ursula Todd is stillborn—and then she is born again, managing to live just a little longer before dying. And then she is born again—and again, each time retaining vague hints about her previous existence, hints she can use to avoid tragedy and to potentially change the course of human history. Atkinson’s novel is a story about how our decisions affect both our own lives and those of everyone around us, and she makes the burdensome secrets of the past feel as real and consequential as Blake does. As an added bonus, the story of the Todd family is continued in Atkinson’s book A God in Ruins, which tells the story of Ursula’s younger brother, Teddy.

    The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott
    McDermott is a National Book Award recipient for Charming Billy and a multiple Pulitzer Prize finalist. The Ninth Hour, set in Brooklyn in the 1940s and ’50s, tells the story of a family impacted by terrible, tragic decisions that reverberate throughout their lives. Tended to by an elderly nun after her husband commits suicide, a young widowed mother and her newborn baby are brought into the fold of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor. In a time and place that was unforgiving at best toward families overcoming scandal, the young mother discovers that the worst moment of her life is best not mentioned. The consequences of her husband’s act will affect generations to come, but so will the loving friendships she makes with the nuns’ help.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
    Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From the Goon Squad, and fans of Blake’s novels will enjoy this evocative period novel, which features a less-experimental but just as moving story set in New York City during the Depression and World War II. Manhattan Beach follows the struggles of Anna Kerrigan, first as an adolescent idealizing her beleaguered father, and later at 19, after his disappearance, when Anna is charged with supporting her sister and mother by working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard as its sole female diver. A chance encounter with her father’s mobster boss begins to shed light on the truth about Anna’s dad, landing squarely on similar themes to The Guest Book: how the actions of our loved ones can change our lives with unintended consequences. You may want to have tissues on hand for this beautiful, detail-rich novel.

    The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving
    This charming, eccentric novel has all the sprawling and strange family history a fan of The Guest Book could want, telling the story of Win and Mary Berry and their five children (and dog, Sorrow) as Win struggles to attain the sort of great life he always assumed he’d lead. A teacher at his second-rate alma mater in New Hampshire, Win buys the girls’ school when it closes and transforms it into the doomed Hotel New Hampshire, then later uproots the family for Vienna to run a hotel owned by a near-magical figure from Win and Mary’s past. There’s tragic death, tragic love, and dark comedy to spare; if you loved the epic family entanglements in The Guest Book, this one is a must-read.

    Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
    One of the great pleasures of a novel like The Guest Book is the complicated trips through time that give you glimpses of a family’s grand story as it slowly coalesces into clarity. Franzen is a modern master of the ambitious family saga, and this novel is a family study told through layered flashbacks and various voices and points of view, tracing the slow, graceful arc into disappointment of the Berglund children as they realize the idyllic life promised by their parents’ own seemingly ideal lives isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be—nor is the freedom they possess to make their own choices and their own mistakes. As in The Guest Book, the various pieces of the Berglund’s story slowly come together into a whole, revealing secrets and illuminating the patterns they find themselves trapped in, the power of this story builds.

    Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
    Patchett drew on her own life story to craft this memorable tale of the aftermath of a drunken, stolen kiss that detonates two marriages. In the wake of the divorces that follow, a new relationship is forged, one that will impact the children of those broken marriages for decades to come. Anchored by a core mystery, Patchett follows the fates of Bert and Teresa’s children as they’re brought together by their parents’ affair and second marriage, examining their relationships with each other, and observing the influence of their childhood experiences on their adult lives, which are marked by dysfunction and unexpected tragedy. If you were on the edge of your seat flipping pages to find out the secrets at the center of The Guest Book, you’re going to love Commonwealth.

    The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo
    Lombardo’s debut novel slots perfectly into a Blake-inspired reading list, following the Sorenson family—David and Marilyn and their daughters Violet, Wendy, Liza, and Grace—from their 1970s childhoods to their 2017 crises. Though their parents’ marriage was a seemingly ideal pairing of passion and affection, the daughters struggle miserably in their own relationships, and find that their adult lives are nothing like what they expected. The sisters uncover secrets about each other, meddle in each other’s lives, and continue to learn how to live on a near daily basis, while Lombardo teases out the slightly-less-than-perfect truth about their parents’ union. The end result is a delightful exploration of family that will reverberate deeply with readers.

    Grange House, by Sarah Blake
    Fans of The Guest Book will be delighted to discover that Blake’s debut novel explores many of the same themes of family secrets, with the added pleasures of a Victorian gothic twist and a shivery ghost story. Set in Maine in the summer of 1896, the titular house was once the grand home of the Grange family, but now only spinster Miss Nell Grange remains, living simply while a small staff runs the estate as a hotel. A young girl named Maisie Thomas spends every summer there with her family, and becomes obsessed with Nell, an author, who inspires her to dream of writing a book. Maisie’s relationship with Nell prompts the old woman to offer ominous hints about past events, and Maisie loses herself in the old woman’s story as her own life becomes less and less real. All the threads come together in a gripping, emotionally powerful ending.

    The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
    Maybe what really drew you into The Guest Book was the sense of a lost and tarnished family legacy—which makes this frightening tale an ideal chaser. Set in a crumbling estate in Warwickshire after World War II, this novel combines classic Gothic ingredients—a once-great house gone to seed, a family in dire straits, inexplicable illnesses, haunting spirits, encroaching madness—into a modern, meaty, character-driven story. The dwindling Ayers family struggles to survive in the dilapidated, crumbling family estate known as Hundreds Hall as the world outside, transformed by war and technology, becomes less and less familiar. Waters tells the story from the point of view of a brilliant doctor from humble roots, who has fond memories of Hundreds Hall from his childhood, which makes his determination to explain everything with science and logic all the more unsettling.

    The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sara Collins
    If you want more of the secrets, the mysteries, and the sense of dread inspired by having an incomplete picture of what really happened found in The Guest Book, look no further. Set in the early 19th century, this story follows Frannie, a slave owned by John Langton, who is given to George Benham in London. Benham has Frannie spy on his wife, Meg, whom he suspects of scandal, but Frannie and Meg become lovers. When George and Meg are found murdered, Frannie is arrested—but claims she cannot remember the events leading up to their deaths. This novel combines all the pleasures of a historical romance and a murder mystery, made all the more complex and tragic by Frannie’s status as a slave.

    The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
    Perry’s novel, set in 19th century England, focuses on Cora Seaborne, an intelligent and restless woman pushed into a society marriage at the age of 19. When her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her with her young son and his nanny, Martha, Cora is glad to be free again. She travels to the country to enjoy freedom and privacy, and finds herself drawn to a local legend about a magical serpent, blamed for a recent death. A naturalist, Cora decides she will prove superstition false and perhaps discover a new species, and meets William Ransome, the local vicar, who seeks to do the same for different reasons. Their relationship is at the heart of this dark, magical story of love, mystery, and seeming opposites who can’t seem to resist each other. If you loved Blake’s nuanced female characters, Cora Seaborne might be your next favorite fictional heroine.

    What readalikes would you recommend to readers who loved The Guest Book?

    The post 12 Books to Read if You Loved <i>The Guest Book</i>, May’s B&N Book Club Selection appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 1:43 pm on 2019/04/30 Permalink
    Tags: B&N   

    Barnes & Noble #TheSunIsAlsoAStar Sweepstakes Official Rules 


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    OFFICIAL RULES

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING

    The Barnes & Noble #TheSunIsAlsoAStar Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc. (“Sponsor”), 122 5th Ave, 7th floor, New York, New York 10011.

    ELIGIBILITY: Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 16 years old at the time of entry. Eligible Entrants who are under the legal age of majority in their state of primary residence (a “Minor”) must get their parent or legal guardian’s permission to participate in the Sweepstakes. A Minor Entrant will be required to provide parental consent in a form satisfactory to the Sponsor before he or she can be declared a winner and any prize can be awarded under the terms of these Official Rules. Employees of Sponsor, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. (“WBEI”), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. (“MGM”) and each of their respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies involved in this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members (parent, child, spouse, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and/or those living in the same household of each, whether or not related, are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply.

    START/END DATES: Sweeps begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (“EDT”) on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 5, 2019 (the “Entry Period”).

    HOW TO ENTER: Entry does not require a payment or a purchase of any kind. To enter the Sweepstakes, an Entrant must have a Twitter account. If you do not have a Twitter account, you may create one for free by visiting www.twitter.com. By submitting your information and creating an account, you agree to the terms of use and privacy policy of Twitter. If you do not agree to such terms of use and privacy policy, you cannot create an account or participate in this Sweepstakes. Sponsor may not receive Entries from Twitter users with “protected” updates (i.e., Entrant has set his or her account so that only people the Entrant has approved can view his or her updates.) If Entrant is using his or her mobile device to enter charges, including message and data rates, may apply. Entrants should consult their wireless service provider regarding its pricing plans.

    Follow Sponsor’s Twitter account at https://twitter.com/BNBuzz  and respond to any Sweepstakes offer posted by Sponsor on its Twitter page at https://twitter.com/BNBuzz by “Re-Tweeting” or otherwise responding in the manner and time period set forth in the offer during the Entry Period.

    Limit one (1) entry per unique Twitter account and per person during the Entry Period. Any Entrant found to use multiple accounts to enter will be ineligible to win. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, as are entries that are illegible, garbled, incomplete or that contain errors. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. No other entry method will be accepted.


    WINNER SELECTION:
     Twelve (12) Winners will be selected by random drawing from amongst all eligible entries received on or about May 6, 2019.  Proof of transmission is not proof of receipt.  Sponsor’s computer is the official time-keeping device for the Sweepstakes and determines the order of receipt of entries.  All decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes.).

    WINNER NOTIFICATION/ VALIDATION: The potential Winners will be announced on Sponsor’s Twitter feed (“@BNBuzz”) and notified by Direct Message on Twitter by May 6, 2019 and the potential Winners may be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability/Publicity form (where legal) within seven (7) days of date of attempted notification. Noncompliance within this time period, or with these Official Rules, or the return of any prize/prize notification may result in disqualification and, at Sponsor’s discretion, time period permitted, an alternate potential Winner may be selected. The prize will be fulfilled within 1 week after winner validation. Any Winner later determined to be ineligible may be required to return his/her prize.

    PRIZE AND ODDS: Twelve (12) Winners will each receive four (4) electronic tickets to an advance screening of the feature film THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR in one of the following twelve (12) cities at the listed theaters only:

    Atlanta, GA

    Date: 5/15/19

    Time: 7:30PM

    Theater: Regal Atlantic Station – 261 19th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30363

    Chicago, IL

    Date: 5/13/19

    Time: 7:00PM

    Theater: AMC River East 21 – 322 E. Illinois St., Chicago, IL 60611

    Dallas, TX

    Date: 5/14/19

    Time: 7:00PM

    Location: Angelika Mockingbird – 5321 E Mockingbird Ln Suite 230, Dallas, TX 75206

    Houston, TX

    Date: 5/14/19

    Time: 7:00PM

    Location: Edwards Marq*E – 7620 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

    Los Angeles, CA

    Date: 5/15/19

    Time: 7:30PM

    Theater: Pacific Theaters at The Grove – 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90036

    New York, NY

    Date: May 14

    Time: 7:00pm

    Theater: Regal Ewalk – 247 W. 42nd St. New York, NY 10036

    Philadelphia, PA
    Date: 5/13/19

    Time: 7:30PM

    Theater: Landmark’s Ritz East – 125 Sansom Street Walkway, Philadelphia, PA  19106

     

    San Francisco, CA
    Date: Monday, May 13, 2019

    Time: 7:00pm

    Theatre: AMC Metreon – 135 4th St Suite 3000, San Francisco, CA 94103

     

    Washington, D.C.

    Date: May 13
    Time: 7:00pm

    Theater: AMC Mazza Gallerie – 5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC

     

    Boston, MA

    Date: 5/13/19

    Time: 7:00PM

    Theater: AMC Boston Common – 175 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111

     

    Denver, CO

    Date: May 13

    Time: 7:00pm

    Theater: Harkins Northfield 18 – 8300 E. Northfield Blvd., Denver, CO 80238

     

    Miami, FL

    Date: May 13

    Time: 7:30pm

    Theater: AMC Sunset Place 24 – 5101 SW 72nd St. #300 S. Miami, FL 33143

     

     

    Tickets are non-refundable and not redeemable for cash or credit. Tickets may not be sold to a third party. Tickets are subject to certain terms and conditions as specified by issuer.   All expenses not described herein as being awarded, including, but not limited to ground transportation, meals, gratuities, souvenirs, and any other costs and expenses not mentioned herein as being awarded are the sole responsibility of the Winner. Winner is solely responsible for any local, state, or federal taxes on any prize. If for any reason any portion of the Prize does not occur or cannot be accepted as stated, such portion will be forfeited with no compensation being paid in exchange therefor. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of stated prize except by Sponsor who reserves the right to substitute a prize (or portion thereof) of comparable or greater value, in its sole discretion, if the advertised prize becomes unavailable.  All prize details are at the sole discretion of the Sponsor.  Odds of winning depend on number and timing of entries in each Sweepstakes.  Sweepstakes is open to over 100,000,000 internet users in the United States.

    GENERAL RULES: Acceptance of prize constitutes permission to the Sponsor and its designees, including Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (“WBEI”) and each of its and their respective parents, divisions, affiliates, subsidiaries, agents and advertising agencies to use winner’s name, city, state, likeness, voice, biographical information and statements for purposes of advertising, promotion and publicity in any and all media, now or hereafter known, throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation, notification or permission, unless prohibited by law. By participating, entrant (i) agrees to release and hold Sponsor, WBEI, MGM and each of their respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies, and each of their respective directors, officers, employees and assigns (collectively, the “Released Parties”), harmless from and against any and all claims and liability arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, out of participation in the Sweepstakes or acceptance, possession, misuse, nonuse or use of any prize awarded in connection with the Sweepstakes (including any travel or activity related thereto); (ii) waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental and consequential damages, attorneys’ fees or any damages other than actual out-of-pocket costs incurred to enter; and (iii) agrees to be bound by these Official Rules. Released Parties are not responsible for incomplete, lost, late, damaged, inaccurate, illegible, misdirected, garbled, delayed or undelivered Entries; or for technical hardware or software malfunctions or failures of any kind, lost, unavailable network connections, or failed, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmission, which may limit an individual’s ability to participate. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel, suspend or modify the Sweeps or to disqualify any implicated entrant(s), (and their Entries) if any fraud, virus, actions by entrants, technical or other error or problem, or any other occurrence corrupts or affects the administration, integrity, security, or proper play of the Sweepstakes, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. In the event of cancellation, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to award the prize in a random drawing from among all eligible, non-suspect Entries received up to the time of the event or action warranting such cancellation. In the event this Sweepstakes is cancelled prior to the stated end date, a notice will be posted at www.twitter.com/BNBuzz. CAUTION: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes is a violation of criminal and civil laws, and should such an attempt be made, Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such entrant to the fullest extent permitted by law, including criminal prosecution. Released Parties are not responsible for any technical, mechanical, printing, typographical, human or other error relating to or in connection with the Sweepstakes, including, without limitation, errors which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes, the processing of Entries, the announcement of the prize or in any Sweepstakes-related materials; or for any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participating in, or accessing or downloading information in connection with this Sweepstakes.

    WINNERS’ NAMES: Names of winners (first name/city) will be posted on Sponsor’s Twitter account when available.

    NO WARRANTIES: Sponsor makes no warranties regarding any prize furnished as part of this Sweepstakes. Any prize, and all materials furnished as part of or in connection with this Sweepstakes are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including without limitation the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose.

    PRIVACY: Any information submitted to Sponsor, including all Entries will be governed by the terms of Barnes & Noble’s User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

    GOVERNING LAW: All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules or the rights and obligations of any entrant, Sponsor, and/or any of the Released Parties shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York. All actions, proceedings, or litigation relating hereto will be instituted and prosecuted solely within the State of New York, County of New York. The parties consent to the jurisdiction of the state and federal courts of New York with respect to any action, dispute, or other matter pertaining to or arising out of this Contest.

    NO IMPLIED ENDORSEMENT: The names of individuals, groups, companies, products and services mentioned herein, and any corresponding likenesses, logos and images thereof reproduced herein, have been used for identification purposes only and may be the copyrighted properties and trademarks of their respective owners. The mention of any individual, group or company including Twitter, Inc, or the inclusion of a product or service as the prize, does not imply any association with or endorsement by such individual, group or company or the manufacturer or distributor of such product or service and, except as otherwise indicated, no association or endorsement is intended or should be inferred.

    Warner, MGM, and each of their respective parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are neither sponsors nor co-sponsors of this Sweepstakes.

     

    // End of Official Rules //

     

    The Sun Is Also a Star

    © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    The post Barnes & Noble #TheSunIsAlsoAStar Sweepstakes Official Rules appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2019/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , alex michaelides, B&N, , , ,   

    Agatha Christie, Sleight of Hand, and Psychological Complexity: An Interview with The Silent Patient Alex Michaelides 


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    There’s no shortage of excellent thrillers to read in the modern world, but every now and then a book comes along that rises above the rest and becomes that book that gets passed from person to person like a virus, accompanied by breathless endorsements and the sort of giddy joy only book lovers recognize. Well, we have our first bona-fide phenomenon thriller of 2019, the twisty, buzzy The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides.

    The Silent Patient has the bones of an old-school mystery, fused with a modern energy similar to The Girl on the Train or Gillian Flynn’s novels. It’s the sort of book you immediately want to recommend to your book club or best friend or, you know, strangers on your morning commute, just so you’ll have people to discuss it with. And then we thought, wait a sec, we’re Barnes and Noble, we can excitedly discuss the book with the author. So we reached out and sat down with Alex Michaelides himself to fanblog all over him, chatting about Agatha Christie, working as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, and, of course, the genesis of his remarkable debut novel.

    You obviously have a deep love for old-school mystery-thrillers like the works of Agatha Christie or Patricia Highsmith. How did those old-school cool novels influence The Silent Patient?

    Well, I grew up on the tiny island of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean. It was before the internet, and there was nothing to do in the summers except read. I was thirteen when I discovered Agatha Christie, and devoured all of her novels over one summer at the beach. It was probably the happiest reading experience I ever had, and it made me into a reader—and, I suspect, a writer. So later on, when I began thinking about writing a novel, I knew I wanted something to replicate that experience I’d had on the beach. And the plan was to take a Christie-style plot and marry it with a deeper psychological complexity. I tried to imagine what Christie might be writing now, if she were alive and had my life experience. Of course it’s not just Christie—I’m a huge fan of Patricia Highsmith, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers, all women actually! There is something so satisfying about encountering a story that works on one level and yet when you reach the end you realize you have been looking at everything the wrong way up. I think that sleight of hand, like a magician’s trick, is what appeals to me the most.

    Like all magic tricks, at its core writing is all about process. They say write what you know, and you drew on your experience working at a therapeutic community to write The Silent Patient. How much ‘real life’ is in the story?

    I was pretty messed up as a teenager, neurotic, anxious, depressed—and I had a lot of personal therapy for many years. I also studied it a couple of places at a postgraduate level—but never finished my studies, as I felt strongly that I was a writer not a therapist. As part of my studies, I worked at a secure psychiatric facility for teenagers. It was one of the most formative experiences of my life, and certainly the most humbling. It was incredible, helping kids heal and get well—and it went a long way to healing the messed-up teenage part of myself. I didn’t know I was going to write The Silent Patient then, but later on when I knew that I wanted to write a Christie-style book, I needed an enclosed location—the kind of thing she does so brilliantly—and I suddenly thought of the psychiatric unit. And instead of a detective, I could have a psychotherapist. Everything went from there. I didn’t use any of the people I encountered at the unit, but I did use the atmosphere and the emotions that I felt while I was working there. I kept notes at the time, and that helped me a lot when I came to write the book.

    Many have noted the symbolism of a woman who doesn’t speak, combined with the themes of Alcestis in The Silent Patient, which ties into what’s going on today with #MeToo and other movements. Was this intentional?

    You know, it wasn’t intentional, as I wrote The Silent Patient before the #MeToo movement began. But there was a synchronicity there, for sure. When they were bidding for the movie rights, I had many producers, male and female, comment on the fact that Alicia does not speak and asking me how I felt it related to #MeToo. It was quite clear to me that when a person is imprisoned, and not believed, not being heard, then her only recourse is not to speak. So silence in my thinking is a last resort; the last weapon available, when everything else has been taken away from you. That was what interested me about Alicia—as well as the silence in the Greek myth of Alcestis. Alcestis dies to save her husband, and yet when she’s brought back to life at the end of Euripides’s play, she refuses to speak when confronted with her husband. Why? Is she overjoyed, overcome with emotion? Or is she deeply furious, angry with him, betrayed and hurt that he let her die? The refusal to conclude, the refusal to supply a definite answer, is so powerful, and has been haunting me my whole life.

    We hear you’re adapting your own novel for a film version—are there any special challenges to turning your own work into a different medium? Did you think about a film version as you were writing it?

    I think writing for screen and for novels is very different. A friend of mine is a critic, and he always says something I find very helpful—that screenplays are about contraction, and novels are about expansion. Meaning that for a movie you try to keep everything going, keep the plot ticking along. Whereas in a book you can slow down and go into someone’s thoughts and spend a day with them as they walk round the park or think about their life. And discovering that transformed me as a writer. I feel very much that I’m more of a novelist than a dramatist. I never really imagined it as a film. And I think the silence will be extremely challenging. Having said that, making the film is an incredible opportunity. It will be very exciting to take the book apart and put it together again for another medium. I am very pliable these days. I think you have to be, if you’re going to succeed as a writer. It’s never good to get stuck on ideas or lines or bits of dialogue.

    What’s harder—writing a novel or getting a movie made?

    I would say each is hard. The motivation to keep writing every day, for months at time, is a big part of writing a book. But it’s much harder—as in emotionally more painful—to make a movie. I personally have found film-making to be a soul destroying process. A movie with a decent script and a great cast can be derailed by production problems that are nobody’s fault. It’s heartbreaking. So the decision to write The Silent Patient was a last ditch attempt to try and be in control of the creative process from start to finish, and get away from movies. So the irony I am now writing the screenplay is not lost on me. I have a feeling it’s going to be different this time, as I’m working with some amazing people.

    Speaking of writing, The Silent Patient contains a DefCon-5 kind of plot twist that has people’s heads spinning, yet it works perfectly. Did you start with the twist, or did you start with the premise or the characters and find the twist as you outlined? What’s your position on ‘spoiler etiquette’?

    It was rather a magical moment, the way it happened. As I have said, the various strands came together—Greek Mythology, Agatha Christie, psychotherapy—and the idea was born in one moment, as I was walking through the park near where I live. I was trying to imagine a psychological detective story about a woman who doesn’t speak and the therapist trying to help her. I was trying to come up with an ending—and I remember asking myself, ‘what would Agatha Christie do?’ And then suddenly, I saw it. I sat down on the nearest bench and pulled out my phone and wrote down the whole plot, which I still have on my phone. The details changed of course, but the general movement of the story and the twist have remained the same. It was a really good day, that day.

    Regarding spoilers, I will always remember going to see The Mousetrap in London, when I was a kid. At the end of the performance, one of the actors steps forward and asks the audience not to reveal the ending to anyone else as it would spoil their enjoyment of the play. So I think it’s just good manners, don’t you?

    We do! So we’re not going to spoil The Silent Patient, we’ll just encourage everyone reading this to buy a copy immediately so we can all discuss it freely. Thanks, Alex, for taking the time to talk about your book with us!

    Shop all thrillers >

    The post Agatha Christie, Sleight of Hand, and Psychological Complexity: An Interview with <i>The Silent Patient</i> Alex Michaelides appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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