Archive for November, 2007

Reading a book versus listening to the audio

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

At work today there is circulating a very nice article from Natalie Kidd, a sixteen-year-old high school junior from California. The article appeared in the Sant Rosa Press Democrat on November 27, 2007. Natalie’s article is entitled, “Changing technology has yet to beat the book.” Click here for the link.

Natalie mentions electronic books and audiobooks on CD. She prefers the traditional book for the tactile and sensory experience of holding and opening a new book. Most interesting to me, she prefers to read a book rather than listen to it. She says,

“For $31.95 I could buy the unabridged version of ” ‘Tis” by Frank McCourt, one of my favorite books.

But while I do enjoy the deeply accented voice of McCourt, letting my own inner voice narrate books I read has always been a personal preference of mine.”

For myself, the two experiences, listening to an audiobook and listening to my own inner voice while reading a book for myself, are so significantly different that they can be enjoyed equally, each on its own merit. The audiobook narrators are often skilled actors, whose voices bring nuanced interpretations to the book you might otherwise miss on your own. The audiobook becomes a work of art separate from the book. Authors often want to read their own books for this reason, or have a say in the choice of reader.

The book group I belong to encourages its members to listen, if they wish to, to the audiobook of the title they are discussing. Sometimes it is hard to get hold of a copy of the actual book. Sometimes with long commutes it is hard to find time to actually read. In any case, the artistic features of the audiobook often lead to interesting discussion. Sometimes the narrator brings out aspects of the characters, for instance, that no one else has seen.

For a bit of a change for one meeting, why not encourage each person to pick a title, and to both read and listen to it? At the meeting each person could discuss the differences they found between the book and the audiobook.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Monday, November 26th, 2007

My Sister’s Keeper – Breaking Film News from Jodi Picoult’s Website: Dakota and Elle Fanning have been cast to play Kate and Anna Fitzgerald in the movie adaptation. They’re younger than in the book – but so is Cameron Diaz, who’s been cast as Sara. Cameron Diaz will star in the New Line Cinema adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper – and filming will begin early next year!

At the request of a couple of the ladies, the Abingdon Lite at Nite Book Group read My Sister’s Keeper for our November discussion. About half of us had previously read the book, but even after a year or so it was still a great book to reread for the discussion it engendered. If you haven’t read this novel, it is intense, thought-provoking and has a shocker of an ending.

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School – Anna was genetically engineered to be a perfect match for her cancer-ridden older sister. Since birth, the 13-year-old has donated platelets, blood, her umbilical cord, and bone marrow as part of her family’s struggle to lengthen Kate’s life. Anna is now being considered as a kidney donor in a last-ditch attempt to save her 16-year-old sister. As this compelling story opens, Anna has hired a lawyer to represent her in a medical emancipation suit to allow her to have control over her own body. Picoult skillfully relates the ensuing drama from the points of view of the parents; Anna; Cambell, the self-absorbed lawyer; Julia, the court-appointed guardian ad litem; and Jesse, the troubled oldest child in the family. Everyone’s quandary is explicated and each of the characters is fully developed. There seems to be no easy answer, and readers are likely to be sympathetic to all sides of the case. This is a real page-turner and frighteningly thought-provoking. The story shows evidence of thorough research and the unexpected twist at the end will surprise almost everyone. The novel does not answer many questions, but it sure raises some and will have teens thinking about possible answers long after they have finished the book. – Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

“Expect to be kept up all night by Picoult’s latest novel, but it’s much more than a page-turner; it’s a fascinating character study framed by a complex, gripping story… Told in alternating perspectives by the engaging, fascinating cast of characters, Picoult’s novel grabs the reader from the first page and never lets go. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, controversial, and honest book.”
—Starred Review, BOOKLIST

To read an interesting interview with Ms. Picoult, go to

The December choice of our book group is Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison.
Four women share their secrets and their hopes and become friends through their passion for shoes.

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I visited my local shopping mall the day before yesterday and found that Santa had already arrived, the mall was decorated for Christmas, and Christmas songs and carols were playing over the public address system. I felt a fleeting regret that the retail world at least is not taking the time to enjoy the moment and celebrate Thanksgiving first, but that regret was quickly superseded by anticipation of the fun of compiling a list of recommended reading to help you get in the mood for the winter holidays. The following is a list of fiction with themes from the holidays of Christmas, Hannukkah, or Quanzaa. Leave a comment if you have other winter holiday titles to recommend.

Winter Nights: Round Midnight\Until Christmas\Kwanzaa Angelby Donna Hill Published 2004 Find this book in our catalog.
The Frost-Haired Vixenby John Zakour Published 2006
Find this book in our catalog.
Haunted Holidaysby Martin Harry Greenberg Published 2004
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On Strike for Christmasby Sheila Roberts Published 2007
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Christmas Lightsby Christine Pisera Naman Published 2007
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Christmas Letters (Large Print)by Debbie Macomber Published 2007
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Till Morning Is Nigh: A Wortham Family Christmas Novellaby Leisha Kelly Published 200
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A War of Gifts: An Ender Storyby Orson Scott Card Published 2007
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It Happened at Christmasby Penny Jordan Published 2007
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Mistletoe Bayby Marcia Evanick Published 2007
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Finding Father Christmasby Robin Jones Gunn Published 2007
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The Christmas Pearlby Dorothea Benton Frank Published 2007
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I’m Your Santaby Lori Foster Published 2007
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Kissing Christmas Goodbyeby M. C. Beaton Published 2007
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All Through the Night: A Troubleshooter Christmasby Suzanne Brockmann Published 2007
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An Irish Christmasby Melody Carlson Published 2007
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Sweet Revenge (Large Print)by Diane Mott Davidson Published 2007
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Where Angels Goby Debbie Macomber Published 2007
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A Christmas Beginningby Anne Perry Published 2007
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Mistletoe and Mollyby Janet Dailey Published 2007
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Naughty or Niceby Eric Jerome Dickey Published 2003
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Incidentally, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Living in a Foreign Language: a Memoir of Food, Wine, and Love in Italy by Michael Tucker

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry, stars of the long-running NBC TV show, L. A. Law, were also partners in a long-term and successful marriage and entirely consumed by their busy professional and family lives, when one night they inadvertently overheard plans to cancel their show. Suddenly dumped from stardom, they moved to northern California and, having safely seen their second child off to college devoted themselves to each other, their marriage, and finding out what would come next. Despite all their self-realization courses, they had still really not found what would make them completely happy when, having been invited to a birthday party in Italy, they stumble across an old stone farmhouse in the Spoleto valley in Umbria. They buy it and discover they have found what they have been looking for – home. The couple are carried through most difficulties and hardships by the strength of their relationship. Michael Tucker obviously thinks he is a very lucky man. His love of life comes across in this light-hearted book and in his ingenuous and relaxed writing. Though the book describes a rich and leisured lifestyle it does not seem at all pretentious. Lovers of all things Italian will enjoy the descriptions of Rome and the countryside. Michael describes things quintessentially Italian like the prosciutto maker, the pasta shop, or an antiques market in Rome. Lovers of good food will enjoy all the descriptions of fabulous meals. Tucker says that in Italy, food functions as metaphor for the good life, but its superior quality also is tangible. He contrasts Italian food, which is always fresh and local, to the long hauled food in a U.S. supermarket. For Tucker, food also does not have to be pretentious to be good. He says, “I don’t fuss too much, I buy something good and cook it right. Cooking is 90 percent shopping — or picking, if you have a good garden.” For Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry, the Italians have much to teach Americans about the good life.

Conversation Starters:
What do you think about the pretentiousness or not of this book? Contrast it with Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, which I thought was a bit name- and place-dropping. I think the preference I have for Michael Tucker’s book might be because of his ingenuous tone. He comes across to me as a naughty boy who can’t believe his luck.
What were your favorite scenes in the book? I think mine was the pizza-bake at the ancient oven. The oven to me is its own character in the book. It is a monolithic, sleeping presence all through the book, and then finally it is awakened. When they finally bake in the oven it is as if Italy has accepted them.
What did you think of Michael’s and Jill’s friends? I thought Michael brought them to life very well. I thought he did their conversation just right. I am guessing he is good at observing people because he is an actor.
What did you think of Michael’s and Jill’s relationship as revealed in the book? One can infer a lot, but it seems a bit one-sided in the book. Is this OK because it is Michael’s book and he is writing about other things too?
Other similar books you could read:
The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena di Blasi
Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House by Sally and Carl Gable
French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew by Peter Mayle