Fewer authors are touring these days, and fewer are reading from their work on the stage or on audio. The idea is that we should read books in the privacy of our own home and ask the author – when we have the pleasure of meeting him or her – about her writing habits, where he gets his ideas, and how she came up with this character or that. When we pop in an audio book, we more often than not hear the voice of a movie star or stage actor reciting the author’s prose.
But after stumbling this week across this wonderful 1959 recording of Flannery O’Connor reading from A Good Man is Hard to Find at Vanderbilt University, I’m reminded of how – like poetry – some writing is best read out loud in the author’s own voice.
Listening to O’Connor read dialogue especially (pausing for the audience laughter in some places) with her wonderful Southern drawl and her gift of perfect intonation and timing, I find myself eager to listen to more by-author recordings. I want to know how Patricia Highsmith sounded reading Strangers on a Train, or Carson McCullers reading from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.
While traveling to and from Florida for Summer visits to see our grandmother as a kid, I remember listening with my brothers and mother in the car to a recording of Jim Lovell and others reading from his book, Lost Moon. While the story needs no embellishment to be gripping, hearing it told in his own raspy, distinctive voice is what made the book stay with me for as long as it did.
Two books I’ve been meaning to read, and am told are excellent as audio, are Andre Dubus III’s reading of Townie and David Sedaris’ classic Me Talk Pretty One Day (I’ve heard Sedaris tell his Christmas stories enough times on NPR – doubling over laughing every time he recounts his threat to a mother waiting in line with her child to sit on Santa’s lap – that I’m shocked I haven’t yet taken in the latter).
Better yet – I hope to catch some authors when they next pass through my city later this year on book tour, authors like Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue) and Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior). If those don’t suit you, find out when Jamaica Kincaid (See Now Then), Martin Amis (Lionel Asbo), Paul Auster (Winter Journal), Irvine Welsh (Skagg Boys) and Naomi Wolf (Vagina: A New Biography) will be in your area. Don’t miss the chance – if you love their writing – to hear your favorite authors read from their work, live and in-person.
Have you stumbled upon a clip from an author reading, or author-read audio book, that you love?
It’s awards season (for movies, this time)… but of course, the Oscars and the Golden Globes are about books, too. Among this year’s nominees are movies based on outstanding books including The Help, My Week with Marilyn, The Descendants, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Coming in the next year we are excited to see films/TV adaptions of The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, Great Expectations, Life of Pi, The Borrowers, World War Z, and others.
A few of my all-time favorite movies-based-on-books are:
The Princess Bride, based on The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman. This is one of those movies that I’d seen several times and never even knew it was based on a book until I saw the book in a library one day.
Julie & Julia, based on Julie and Julia by Julie Powell and on the delicious, heartbreaking, and hilarious My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. What I knew about Julia Child was based mainly on occasionally watching re-runs of her cooking show, and reading her autobiography made me appreciate her for her wit, her kindness, her sass, and for lack of a better word, her awkwardness. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are utterly lovable in the movie as Julia and Paul.
The Sound of Music, based on Maria Augusta von Trapp’s memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. It’s a classic.
I could go on… there’s also The Virgin Suicides; Girl, Interrupted; Water for Elephants; any number of movies based on comic books, The Wizard of Oz; etc., etc.
What are some of your favorite movies based on books? Which books do you think should be adapted for film? Which have been adapted but really shouldn’t have been? Which movies ended up being better than the book? (I have a strong vote for one of those: The Devil Wears Prada)
This is my last post on the Just the Right Book blog – but our new blogger, Whitney, will be taking over soon. Welcome, Whitney!
Hey, you! Yes you, with your nose stuck in a book! The deadline to sign up for World Book Night has been extended to February 6th! So what are you waiting for? Sign up today to spread the joy of reading and help give away a total of 1 million books across the U.S.!
Here’s a little more guidance on which books to choose…
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
TO CELEBRATE A DIVERSITY OF CULTURES:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Absolutely True Diary of Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Go to www.worldbooknight.org for the full list of books and to sign up!
The deadline to sign up for World Book Night is rapidly approaching (February 1st!). Here’s a little help if you’re having trouble deciding which book you’d like to give out.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Bloodwork by Michael Connelly
The Stand by Steven King
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
You know that feeling when you love a book so much that you just want everyone you know to read it, too?
Here’s a chance to give your favorite book* to 20 people – for free! World Book Night started last year in the UK, and this year the U.S. is involved, too. Here’s how it works: You sign up to be a volunteer book giver (sign up here by Feb. 1st). You choose a book from the approved list of 30 books, answer some questions, and, if you’re approved, the World Book Night people will ship you 20 copies of your chosen book (books will be shipped to bookstores and libraries throughout the country, so you’ll have to go pick up your books at one of your local establishments… but you were already going there anyway, weren’t you?) On April 23, 2012, you take your books to a public place and hand them out, spreading the joy of reading!
What for? From the WBN website: “It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks. World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.”
I can’t think of a much better way to encourage people to read and to remind them of the value of the printed book than to actually put a copy of a book in someone’s hand and say “Read this book. It will make you [laugh/cry/think, etc.]” While World Book Night is being actively promoted through social media, it in and of itself is almost the anti-social media–or perhaps the original form of social media: people going outside and talking, face to face, with other people.
Now the hard part is picking which book to give! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite books from the World Book Night list. But for now, don’t forget to sign up by Feb. 1st!
*Choose your favorite book from the list – but it’s an extensive list, with something for nearly everyone, and there’s a good chance your favorite book might actually be on it! If not, maybe you’ll find your second-favorite book instead.
Many of us here at Just the Right Book have recently enjoyed The Time in Between by Maria Duenas. This is the perfect kind of novel to sink your teeth into this time of year–it’s long (624 pages), has a strong, likable protagonist who you’ll root for, and an engaging, compelling story–set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and then World War II. The sense of time and place is vivid–you’ll be transported to Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia in the 1930s and 40s and immersed in the culture, the landscape, and the fashions of the time. The Time in Between is the author’s debut novel, a bestseller in Spain, and was translated from Spanish.
Learn more about the book in these two videos of the author discussing her book:
In a book club, or want to discuss this book with friends? Here are some questions to get you started.