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Obama's bookshelf

Thursday, May 28, 2009 by kate

President Obama has been staying up late with Joseph O’Neill’s novel Netherland, he told the NY Times Magazine.

The story follows a Dutch financial analyst living in NY who rediscovers his love of cricket after separating from his wife. "It's fascinating,” Obama told Newsweek. “It's a wonderful book, although I know nothing about cricket."

When does the president find time to read? “I usually have about a half hour to read before I go to bed … about midnight, 12:30 a.m. – sometimes a little later,” he said.

Netherland, which has been compared to the Great Gatsby, won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
So if you want to feel more presidential, or you're just a night owl like Obama, pick up a copy of Netherland and learn a thing or two about cricket.

In related news, the Obamas plan to host the ninth National Book Festival Sept. 26 on the National Mall. The daylong event was started in 2001 by former first lady Laura Bush, a retired teacher and school librarian. It’s free and open to the public and will feature about 70 award-winning authors, poets and illustrators.

Previous Post: The Road Home

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The Road Home

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 by kate

Rose Tremain’s lackadaisical writing style is perfect for laid-back leisure reading. At first I had a hard time getting into her detailed voice, but a 5-hour flight across country last week gave me all the time I needed to devour all 411 pages.

The Road Home is a winding story about a middle-aged Russian who loses his job and his wife and must leave his daughter to travel to England in search of work. Mixed up in a society he doesn’t understand, Lev struggles to find his place in his new country, overcoming homelessness, loneliness, heart break and naïveté without becoming cynical.

Tremain gives insight in immigration and puts a face on a foreigner while treating readers to simple, vivid descriptions.

“The cola seemed to pinch at his teeth.”

“with moles like splashes of mud on her face”

“daylight pale as milk”

“It was a street of choky little houses.”

While some overly descriptive books come across contrived, Tremain succeeds in opening up a world foreign to most readers. Bring this book on a long car drive or vacation. You’ll feel just a little empty when you come to page 411, and you’ll have a new appreciation of immigrants.

Previous Post: fierce fashion guru’s guide

fierce fashion guru’s guide

Thursday, May 14, 2009 by kate

Brimming with sass and style, Project Runway winner Christian Siriano is sharing some of his secrets in the new book Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self, written with People magazine's Rennie Dyball.

It's "design heavy," Siriano told USA Today. It also has tips from the people Siriano has dressed: Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Williams and "normal, everyday people like my sister and mother."

Siriano splashed onto the scene with asymmetrical bangs last year as the youngest winner of Project Runway at 23 years old. Since then, he showed two collections in NYC and has designed for the likes of Victoria Beckham, Heidi Klum, Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga, Tori Spelling and Vanessa Williams.

“The book actually did come very quickly after the win of Project Runway,” Siriano told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “ The book is very funny and kind of kitschy. It is supposed to be entertaining and not so serious, serious fashion; kind of having style and coming into your own. It is very picture heavy and very visual.”

Fierce Style will be out in October. And if “hot mess,” “ferosh” and “trannie” aren’t a part of your daily vocab, don't worry – there’s also a glossary in there.

Previous Post: bringing a legend back to life

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bringing a legend back to life

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 by kate

Every time I have salad, salsa or cereal, I think of Paul Newman. The actor-turned-entrepreneur died last fall, and though I missed most of his acting career, I know him well for founding a company that donated all its profits and royalties to charity.

Shawn Levy, an Oregon reporter, has come out with a new book about the American icon’s life – his affinity for Coors beer, his love of racing and the loss of his only son from an accidental overdose.

While Levy tried and failed to get an interview with the very private Paul, he pieces together Newman’s life through others’ stories, old quotes and a vast film career.

Paul Newman: A Life is for anyone looking to see the man behind the salad label.


Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 by kate

Even though you’ve known her for a while, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to buy your mother. So we’ve compiled a list of books your mom might like to take a break with.

Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages from Home
by Doree Shafrir, Jessica Grose
Sweet and nagging e-mails from mothers to their adult children.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them
by Amy Dickinson
"Ask Amy," columnist talks about the women in her family who helped raise her daughter after Amy's husband left. “A moving testament to the many women who have led small lives of great consequence in a tiny place.”
by Lyss Stern, Julie Klappas
100 ways moms can spend their time when they have 10 minutes to themselves.

Life With Mother
by the Editors of LIFE Books
Photos of celebrity and everyday mothers.

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews The former Mary Poppins shares her journey from a hard life in war-torn Britain to America stardom.

When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror
by Carol Leifer
A former writer for Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show and SNL, Leifer recounts coming out, a breast-cancer scare and adopting a newborn son at age 50.

When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
by Sandra Martz (Editor)
Essays and photos depicting the beauty, humor and courage of women living in their later years.

Previous Post: revealing the Ramones