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Six Debut Novels for Book Clubs in 2018

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 20:34
As we settle into 2018, here are six of the best debut novels to read and discuss during the year. If you love books about place and community, Golden Hill, The Big Dry and If the Creek Don't Rise all transport readers to the streets of small towns and big cities and into the hearts of the people who struggle to make their lives there. Secrets are held – and readers' attentions are held too! – in both The Second Mrs. Hockaday and The Mothers. And, finally, readers can't help but root for quirky, clever teenager Ginny Moon even as she resists the loving family that finally wants to bring her home. All of these debuts are sure to spark emotion and conversation and are great bets for your book club! Read on for information on each... [More]
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American Reading Habits Infographic

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 12:35
There's nothing quite like that feeling of getting a brand-new book from the bookstore, taking it home and spending hours absorbed in its pages.

People used to talk about the imminent death of reading. The internet, it was thought, would kill the book industry. But old habits die hard, and the trusty American novel continues to give readers many hours of escapism. In fact, according to Global English Editing's infographic on American reading habits published below, we're reading almost as much as we ever have. [More]
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Honest Book Reviews From Real Readers

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 14:36
Today, we look back on the incredible selection of books our members have reviewed for First Impressions during the year - 45 titles in total. Reader reviews abound on the web these days but it's difficult to know which to trust, especially when there are businesses who will arrange for glowing "reader reviews" to be posted and other reviews may be written by well-meaning family and friends. BookBrowse's First Impressions program offers you a source of trustworthy reader reviews because only BookBrowse members can post reviews. Members indicate which books they're interested in but cannot prioritize, and copies are assigned by BookBrowse's algorithms. So, while it's conceivable that somebody connected to the book might be assigned a ... [More]
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2017 Book Club Discussions

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 14:08
What better way to be sure a book is going to be right for your book club than being a fly on the wall at a real discussion - such as for the fifteen books we discussed in BookBrowse's Book Club during 2017 (with more than 3500 comments posted), or any of the approximate one hundred books that we've discussed over the past few years! [More]
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The 20 Best Books of 2017, and Our 4 Award Winners

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 13:58
Dear BookBrowsers, It's hard to believe that another year has gone by filled with great literature. The number of books we fit into our daily lives and the ones we add to our to-read pile has us endlessly lament "too many books, too little time." BookBrowse's annual Best of the Year awards are an excellent barometer of great reading. The awards are particularly noteworthy because voting is only open to BookBrowse subscribers - so no vote stuffing by rabid fan bases; and instead of just voting for a book (which favors the most widely read books) subscribers rate each book they've read that is on the shortlist, and the winners are the books with the highest overall rating. Such considered selection results in truly outstanding bo... [More]
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Young Adults as Unreliable Narrators

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:20
In How to Set a Fire and Why, Lucia claims to not remember exactly what occurred during an argument with her aunt's landlord, leaving her exact reasoning and motivation somewhat mysterious. In writing Lucia as an unreliable narrator, Jesse Ball draws from an established tradition. An unreliable narrator lies, expresses uncertainty or bias, or seems to have a misunderstanding of situations that occurred. The author may employ an unreliable narrator to intentionally mislead the reader or as a means of characterization. Part of the pleasure in encountering such a narrator is parsing out what is true and what is not. Teen and young adult narrators are some of the most obvious and well-known examples of the trope, and this makes logical sen... [More]
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Climate Fiction: A Glimpse into the Growing Genre

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:12
In Midnight at the Electric, it is the year 2065, and teenager Adri is part of a carefully selected group departing Earth forever to live on Mars. Although the story takes place less than 50 years from now, massive planetary destruction has already taken place. As Adri puts it early on, "there's no Miami and hardly any Bangladesh and no polar bears…and they're paying billions of dollars to start a colony on Mars because humans need an exit strategy." Considered by some to be a sub-genre of science-fiction, and by others to be an entirely new genre, climate-fiction highlights climate change and its potential ramifications. Although books exploring man-made climate change date back to the '70s, it was only in 2007 that journalist Da... [More]
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The Origins of the Kashmir Dispute

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:42
The Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan occupies center stage in Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. For readers unfamiliar with the dispute here is some background (this piece first ran as the "beyond the book" article for Roy's long awaited book): The conflict in Kashmir traces its roots back to the partition of India and Pakistan (see our Beyond the Book article for An Unrestored Woman). When the British left India in 1947, Kashmir was not an Indian state, but was instead one of hundreds of smaller independent princely states. each with their own rulers, who swore loyalty to the British empire. As the British Raj withdrew, these princely states had to make the complicated decision as to whether to become a pa... [More]
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Women who Scheme: The Female as Villain in Greek Tragedies and Beyond

Mon, 10/23/2017 - 11:23
The story of Clytemnestra is told in bits and pieces across several play cycles from the Classical period, and before. At the end of the House of Names, the author Colm Tóibín notes that, while the majority of the novel's events are not related to any source material, the overall shape of the narrative and the main characters are taken from The Oresteia by Aeschylus, Electra by Sophocles, Euripides' Electra, Orestes, and Iphigenia at Aulis. Clytemnestra, as well as Electra, make appearances in other plays and art forms throughout history, but are rarely humanized in the way that we see in Tóibín's book. In fact, the way in which House of Names is perhaps most subversive is how Tóibín humanizes these c... [More]
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What is The Bardo?

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 08:08
Yesterday, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in The Bardo. So you might be wondering what the bardo is! Find out in our "beyond the book" article. You can also read our review and browse an excerpt. The word bardo comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and means "in-between." It refers to a transitional state when one's awareness of the physical world is suspended. According to Spiritualtravel.org the concept is an "umbrella term which includes the transitional states of birth, death, dream, transmigration or afterlife, meditation, and spiritual luminosity...for the dying individual, the bardo is the period of the afterlife that lies in between two different incarnations." Most of the characters in Lincoln in the Ba... [More]
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All About Fredrick Backman and His Books

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 10:22
I've read all of Fredrik Backman's works that have English translations. In fact, I was lucky enough to be one of the first early readers of his debut novel, A Man Called Ove. I realized then that I was witnessing the birth of an amazing talent and, to date, he hasn't ever let me down. Unfortunately, it's tough to find a whole lot out about Backman. A New York Times article notes that before he published Ove, he was a college dropout (where he studied religion), and it took him a while to become the "overnight success" he is today. He was a freelance writer for a Swedish magazine while working "as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so that he could write during the day." He's married, has two children, is... [More]
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Best Books for Book Clubs in 2018

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 12:56

We know. Among the many hundreds upon thousands of books that are published every year, it is difficult to select just a few that will make worthy additions to your book club lineup. So we've done the legwork for you. These fourteen books offer engaging and powerful stories and plenty to discuss. We have included a good mix of fiction and nonfiction and tossed in a mystery and a thriller while while we're at it. After all, variety is the spice of life -- and of any respectable book club. If you've got suggestions to share, please do post at the bottom!
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The World's First Cookbook

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 13:38
In Crystal King's Feast of Sorrow, Apicius and his slave, Thrasius, develop their own cookbook. A quick search into Roman history reveals that Marcus Gavius Apicius actually did publish such a book (or rather a series of them), which most historians consider the first cookbook ever written. However, nowhere in the 450-500 recipes in this eponymously titled tome is there a reference to a slave by name. King made this literary leap, jumping to the conclusion that it was highly likely that a slave invented and/or produced recipes for the Apicius household, and not the master himself. The fact that several sources I found note that the language used in these books was more "vulgar" than "classical" Latin would also support this idea – even... [More]
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