Monday, August 1, 2016

Four-for-You (#44U): A Twist on Austen

Here is a Four-for-You list for your August reading pleasure.

At the beginning of each month there will be a new post with four titles connected by some kind of theme. The titles are offered as once a week reading choices and explore a general theme for that month.

The guiding theme for this month is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, although the titles are not simply continuations or spin-offs on Miss Austen's tale. The four titles below offer a different twist on the story of Pride and Prejudice and cross over into a variety of genres: horror, mystery, historical fiction, and contemporary women's fiction. 

Set aside some time each week in August for ... 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Graham-Smith (2009) - the mash-up combining classic literature with horror, that kicked off the mash-up craze.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James (2011) - six years after their happily ever after, all is not well for Elizabeth and Darcy when the relatives come to visit and a murder occurs.

Longbourn by Jo Baker (2013) - looks at the downstairs life of the Bennett family servants during the time of events related in Pride and Prejudice.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (2016) - a fun, 21st Century re-envisioning of the classic with all the same characters in modern day roles and situations.

Give these a try and see if you don't look at Miss Austen's classic in a whole new way. Enjoy! :-)

Twitter hashtag: #44U or #4-4-U

Friday, April 8, 2016

LibraryReads Shout-Out!

LibraryReads is an monthly initiative developed and used by librarians to help connect their favorite books with as many readers as possible!

But before I get to the May 2016 LibraryReads list, I wanted to give a Shout-Out! to a fellow Gateway area librarian in recognition of her annotation being included in the current Top Ten listing!

Smoke: A Novel

by Dan Vyleta

Published: 5/24/2016 by Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385540162

“In an alternate historical London, people who lie reveal themselves by giving off smoke but the rules of how this works are complicated.There are some people who can lie and not trigger any smoke and this lends an interesting element to the story. The rules we are given are changeable. The setting lends itself well to the story.The writing is descriptive, and the tone is atmospheric. Similar authors that come to my mind were Neil Gaiman and China Mieville. This is a dark, delicious tale.”    
Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO

Jennifer is Senior Subject Specialist at St. Louis Central Library's Center for the Reader. Through her posts on SLPL's Center for the Reader blog, she provides "information ... about Central's different book group discussions, author information, book awards, reading lists, and much, much more."

CONGRATULATIONS, Jen! In anticipation of a rush of requests from the customers at St. Charles City-County Library District, I placed a reserve on Vyleta's Smoke for myself!

The compete list for May 2016 can be found at LibraryReads.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Audiobook of the Month

Narrators and library staff got together in Denver this month during the 2016 Public Library Association (PLA) conference. As I was not attending the conference, I have been following it on Twitter using the #PLA2016 hashtag.

According to a Books on Tape (BOT) tweet posted during the Audio Publishers Association (APA) dinner, audio narrator extraordinaire George Guidall used the term "a vocal portrait" - narrators create paintings for the galleries of your mind.

With that quote my April audiobook of the month was chosen. :-)

Check the For Listeners tab to find this month's audiobook and scroll down the page to discover other suggestions for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

RA Tip: Finding Time to Read!

Have seen similar lists before although a few words to the wise on ways to encourage reading are always welcome reminders! Check out this post from Mashable with 11 tips and tricks to make yourself read more.

I practice numbers 1 (usually more than one), 2 (most of the time), 4 (this can be hard, though make myself do it), 5 (whenever/wherever happen to be waiting in line), 7 (sometimes), 8 (one of my favorite pastimes), and 10 (my family knows to leave me be when am ensconced in my rocking chair with a book). :-)

Need to work on 3 (used to do this but fell out of the habit), 6 (have plans to combine this with my audiobook listening), 9 (does listening to one and reading another count?) and while I'm not a whiskey drinker, I must find the wherewithal to follow number 11!

Give some (if not all) of the tips and tricks a try, you just might like it! :-)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Oddest Book Title of the Year

What is the oddest book title you've ever seen? Did you know there is an award given each year for just that distinction? And you can help pick this year's winner!
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is administered by The Bookseller, one of the United Kingdom's longest standing magazines having been the business magazine of the British book trade since 1858. The magazine has awarded this humorous honor 38 times since it was first conceived in 1978 as a way to avoid boredom at the Annual Frankfurt Book Fair. :-)
Consider these this year's list of unique titles and vote for your choice before the poll closes on March 15th. Neither the content of the text nor the cover of the book matter, the award is given simply for the title the the book -- the oddest title of the year.
The 2015 nominations for the Diagram Prize are:
  • Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton
  • Paper Folding with Children by Alice Hornecke and translated by Anna Cardwell
  • Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus by Jonathan Allan
  • Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh
  • Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig
  • Too Naked for the Nazis by Alan Stafford
  • Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe

Vote on your choice of oddest title now! The winner will be revealed in The Bookseller on March 18. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Literary Book Award Nominees Announced

This is one of those weeks when multiple awards nominees are announced or anticipation is building for winners to be declared. My previous post covered the 2015 Nebula Award nominees and this coming Sunday will be the Academy Awards ceremony when the Oscar winners are announced. The finalists for this year's Los Angeles Times BOOK PRIZES were announced Tuesday, February 23rd.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes,first awarded in 1980, honors literary excellence and celebrates the community of readers in Los Angeles. The prizes "... are judged by working writers, so in a very real sense they express the admiration of a community of peers. But even more, they tell us that reading is important, an essential way of connecting with, and understanding, the world in which we live."

The Book Prizes cover ten categories including Biography, Current Interest, Fiction, Graphic Novel/Comic, History, Mystery/Thriller, Poetry, Science & Technology, First Fiction (Art Siedenbaum Award) and Young Adult Literature. Other awards presented are the Robert Kirsch Award that recognizes the career and body of work of a living author whose work focuses on the West. Since 2009, an Innovator's Award has been given "which recognizes the people and institutions that are doing cutting edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future.

The 36th annual ceremony will be held during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The Book Prize winners will be announced on Saturday, April 9 at Bovard Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2015 Nebula Award Nominees Announced!

Another literary award announcement and this is one of my favorites! I am a big fan of speculative fiction and always enjoy finding out what titles from the previous year have been nominated by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

"The Nebula Awards ® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. ... Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Award for Best Script was added in 2000. An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year. The Nebula Awards® Banquet, which takes place each spring, is attended by many writers and editors and is preceded by meetings and panel discussions."

The nominees for novel:

And for those interested in Young Adult science fiction & fantasy titles, here are nominees for this year's Andre Norton Award:

The full list of SFWA 2015 nominees can be found at 2015 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

Winners of the 50th Annual Nebula Awards will be announced during the SFWA Nebula Awards Banquet on May 14th, 2016 in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hilton hotel.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Loss of Two Literary Icons

On February 19, 2016, the world learned of the passing of Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Lee was 89 and Eco was 84.

As with many others I am a big fan of To Kill a Mockingbird although having been too young when it was originally published, I did not read the book until I was an adult. Up until I was about thirteen my mother, a grammar school teacher, despaired off my ever picking up a book. Once I did begin to read though, she couldn’t get me to stop and then despaired of getting me out of the house. :-) What I still cherish today from my initial reading was ‘hearing’ the Southern accents come alive in the dialogue. Then came the story itself with all those lovely characters. Atticus Finch and his defense of Tom Robinson. The Finch children, Scout and Jem along with their friend Dill. And their mysterious neighbor Boo Radley. Oh my, how that book got to me! 

Being an Alabama girl, I am also a huge fan of the movie based on Lee's novel. While I did not realize it at the time, I have a small personal connection to the motion picture. Along with hundreds of other mother’s and their young daughters, my Mother took me to an open casting call for the role of Scout. I was just a kid with no interest in acting so had no clue what was going on. And perhaps to keep me from being nervous my Mother did not appraise me of the situation either, which is probably just as well. Suffice it to say I did not get the part, it went to a Birmingham girl by the name of Mary Badham. :-)

Another personal connection I have is with Umberto Eco's debut novel. The Name of the Rose is my favorite mystery title and another of my all time favorite books. The novel appeals to me on many levels. The history major in me is drawn to the time period -- 14th Century Italy during the political and religious conflict of the Papal Schism, when three men simultaneously claimed to be Pope. Then there is the setting, a Benedictine abbey renowned for it’s library. The librarian in me is always in heaven at just the thought of visiting such a place! Then there is the protagonist, William of Baskerville, Eco’s tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Due to it’s setting, most of the characters are Catholic monks who tend to speak in Latin, a language in which I am poorly versed. While entire passages of dialogue are in Latin, this did not deter me from reading the book. I just went with the flow and skimmed those portions of dialogue, gleaning what I could from base words. Another fan of the book who does read Latin, later informed me that many of the red herrings common place in mystery novels appeared in those segments! Imagine my surprise. In the long run though, it did not make any difference to my enjoyment of the story and may have enhanced it because I didn’t have all the clues to help me solve the mystery before the climax. :-)

In honor of their passing I have pulled my copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Name of the Rose off the shelves to re-read and treasure once again.

If you are likewise inclined to explore these author’s and their works, here are some suggestions for consideration:



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Audie Award Finalists for 2016 Announced!

The Audie Awards recognizes distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Formed in 1987, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) is a not-for-profit trade association that advocates the common, collective business interests of audio publishers. The APA consists of audio publishing companies and allied suppliers, distributors, and retailers of spoken word products and allied fields related to the production, distribution and sale of audiobooks.

The finalists for the 21st annual Audie Awards have been announced for 25 categories. Some of the highlights from the categories are:


  • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, narrated by John Malkovich
  • Classic Love Poems by various authors, narrated by Richard Armitage
  • Dead Wake by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick
  • The English Spy by Daniel Silva, narrated by George Guidall
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, narrated by Scott Brick

A Press Release (PDF) with the complete list of 2016 finalists is available here.

The winners of the 2016 Audies will be honored on May 11 during the Audies Awards Gala at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February Audiobook of the Month

Keeping Valentine's Day in mind, the February selection is a Historical Fiction novel with a touch of romance. Hope you like it! :-)

Check the For Listeners tab for new audiobook suggestions each month. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

2016 PEN Shortlists Announced

The PEN Literary Awards are sponsored by PEN America. PEN confers an annual monetary award to some of the best writers currently working in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.

In concert with their international colleagues, PEN American Center works “to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.”

The shortlist for this year's PEN/Robert W Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction are:

The complete set of shortlists can be found at PEN Awards 2016 Shortlists Announced 

Except in five fields, all winners of the 2016 awards will be announced on March 1. The Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, Literary Science Writing, and PEN Open Book awards along with the PEN/Fusion Prize will be presented on April 11 during the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony at The New School in New York City.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Films, Films, and More Films!

Are you a film buff? Do you like independent films? Or do you just like keeping up with film awards in general?

If you answer to any of these questions is Yes, then this is your time of year!

The Golden Globe Awards were held on January 10, followed by announcement of the Academy Award nominees on January 18. Though the Oscar ceremony will not be held until February 28th, the Screen Actors Guild Awards will be broadcast on January 30th.

As if those three were not enough, the Sundance Film Festival 2016 is running this week from January 21-31, 2016 in Park City, Utah. Click here for a schedule and listing of submissions for this year's film program. 

Care to speculate which of the submissions might be among the nominees (or winners!) for the 2017 Golden Globes, Oscars, or SAG awards?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

National Book Critics Circle Announces 2015 Publishing Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974 with the purpose of supporting book criticism and literary culture. According to the mission statement, the NBCC "honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature." 

The National Book Critics Circle Awards have been presented in March since 1975, honoring the best literature published in the United States during the previous year. The awards are made in six categories: Autobiography, Biography, Criticism, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

The NBCC finalists for publishing in 2015 were announced in a Critical Mass blog post on January 18, 2016: National Book Critics Circle Announces It's Finalists for Publishing Year 2015


  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake by Leo Damrosch
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Tóibín
  • The Nearest Thing to Life by James Wood

  • Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
  • How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
  • Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón
  • Parallax and Selected Poems by Sinéad Morrissey
  • What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford by Frank Stanford
Winners will be announced at the NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception to be held March 17, 2016 at The New School in New York City, NY

Monday, January 11, 2016

More Book and Media Award Announcements

Sunday evening, January 10th, I monitored Twitter from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM CST while the Book and Media Awards Ceremony was held in Boston as part of the American Library Association's (ALA) Midwinter conference. I followed up by watching for the official press releases to be put online. (See yesterday's post for information about the Louis Shores Award and the List List)

I found there was representation from my library and other systems in the St. Louis area on a number of committees and have listed them with the pertinent award. Perhaps you know some of these folks? :-)

And now ... here are the rest of RUSA's 2016 Book and Media Awards:. :-)

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction - recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year
  • Fiction: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • NonFiction: Hold Still: A Memoir in Photographs by Sally Mann

Reading List - an annual best-of list comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers. (I am particularly fond of this award as I had the honor of serving on the inaugural committee in 2007 (and again in 2008). What a great way to expand your genre reading!)
  • Adrenaline: Pretty Girls by Karen Slaughter
  • Fantasy: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • Historical Fiction: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
  • Horror: The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp
  • Mystery: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
  • Romance: Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl
  • Science Fiction: Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • Women's Fiction: Re Jane by Patricia Park

Notable Books - makes available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader (Also share a fondness for this award as served on this committee in 2009. A fabulous way to experience literary fiction and nonfiction reading!)

  • Delicious Foods by James Hannaham
  • In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar
  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Maara
  • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty
  • Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
  • Black River by S.M. Hulse
  • Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
  • A Little Life by Haanya Yanagihara
  • The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine
  • This is the Life by Alex Shearer
  • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
  • Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard
  • The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World by Joel K. Bourne Jr.
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell
  • Give Us the Ballot: THE Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman
  • Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon
  • The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
  • M Train by Patti Smith
  • Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan
  • Bastards of the Reagan Era by Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems by Joy Harjo

Dartmouth Medal for excellence in reference - honors the creation of a reference source of outstanding quality and significance
[Serving on committee: Patricia Gregory, Saint Louis University]
  • Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law

Sophie Brody Medal - given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature
  • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard

Zora Neale Hurston Award - honors an ALA member who has demonstrated leadership in promoting African-American literature
[Serving on committee: Sue K Dittmar, St. Charles City-County Library District. Glad to see a co-worker on an award committee I also served on in 2009 and again in 2011.Volunteering for a RUSA committee is fun and a great way to learn more about the association!]
  • Dr. Florita Bell Griffin for creation of the Little Flower® literacy project

Other awards announced: 

Outstanding Reference Sources
[Committee chair: Annie Fuller, St. Louis County Library; serving on committee: Kara Krekeler, University City Public Library]