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A great new book for your summer reading list!
Jul01

A great new book for your summer reading list!

July always feels to me like the real beginning of summer. And of course you know what summer means to me: summer reading! I just read a terrific new novel I want to share with you. In fact, I like it so well I’ve arranged to have it available to you at a special discount, so you can add it to your summer reading list! The Transcriptionist is Amy Rowland’s debut novel. Rowland is a book review editor at The New York Times. Prior to that, she worked for many years as a transcriptionist for Times, typing up interviews and reporters’ stories. The book centers on Lena, who spends her days in a lonely office at a major New York newspaper called The Record, with the words of others flowing into her ears and out of her fingertips. Lena is beginning to have the sense that, by channeling the words and thoughts of others for so long, she is beginning to lose her own. She rarely talks to other people and, when she does, she is prone to quoting dead authors. What sets off the action of the novel is an article in The Record about a suicide in which a blind woman jumps the fence of the lion’s area at the Bronx Zoo, swims the moat, and is devoured by a lion. Lena realizes that, days before this incident, she had an encounter with this very woman on a city bus. As we follow Lena’s search to learn more about this unknown woman, we learn about Lena’s background and we are also given an inside glimpse into the workings of a beleaguered institution: the major city paper. I greatly enjoyed reading this quirky, thoughtful, unusual and well-written book. I highly recommend you give it a try! You can place an order for a copy with a special one-time only Open Book 25% discount: https://squareup.com/market/open-book/transcriptionist-the Happy...

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Summer Reading Books on Sale!

The Open Book Pop Up Bookstore is having a Pop Up sale this week! It’s your chance to grab some great summer reading! See the books on sale below and email me at lynn@lynnrosen.com to place your order. SELECTED HARDCOVER FICTION ON SALE: Title                                                                                                  Retail   Price/Sale Price We Are Water by Wally Lamb                                                $29.99/$20.95 The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert            $28.95/$19.95 Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips                                          $28.00/$19.00 Signed copies! The Good Lord Bird by James McBride                                $27.95/$18.95 Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi                                       $27.95/$18.95 & Sons by David Gilbert                                                              $27.00/$18.00 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton                                         $27.00/$18.00 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler                                                                     $26.95/$17.95 Orfeo by Richard Powers                                                             $26.95/$17.95 All That Is by James Salter                                                         $26.95/$17.95 Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen                                                      $26.95/$17.95 The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara                    $26.95/$17.95 The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane                                     $26.00/$17.50 The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout                                    $26.00/$17.50 Burial Rites by Hannah Kent                                                      $26.00/$17.50 Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen                $26.00/$17.50 This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash                               $25.99/$17.50 Drift by Jon McGoran  ...

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Magazine Reading
Jun27

Magazine Reading

There are two magazines right now in the magazine rack next to my reading chair. One is Travel + Leisure, and the issue’s theme is “50 Dream Trips.” The other is Better Homes and Gardens, with stories like “Perk Up Your Porch with Color,” and “Perfect Recipes and Party Tips.” It amused me when I noticed that these two were accidentally paired, as it seemed to sum up the struggle I’ve been having all my adult life: am I a nester who wants to build a cozy, beautiful, welcoming home, or am I an intrepid see-the-world type? I want to be both, but being both does not seem doable. At the moment, I am a nester. My husband calls me a “homebuddy.” I like my house, I like to stay home, putter and yes, even clean, and I am always inviting people over. I have parties, dinners, book classes, yoga classes—my door is open to interesting events and activities and my house is a place I like to share. Also, I have young children, which necessitates a strong thread of homebuddy-ness. And yet, I long to see the world. Not all of it. I don’t really want to camp in foreign forests or climb mountains. But there are so many places I long to visit (or re-visit), from cities such as Paris, London, Prague, San Francisco to outdoorsy places like Banff, Costa Rica, and Maine. At the moment, I can’t do all that. Maybe someday. At the moment, I can’t even do all I want to do with house: the repairs and renovations we need are financially out of reach right now. And so I keep these beautiful aspirational magazines around and, for now, they fill the...

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Mona Simpson’s Casebook and The Bechdel Test
Jun10

Mona Simpson’s Casebook and The Bechdel Test

Mona Simpson’s new novel, Casebook, passes the Bechdel test. Last night, thanks to Tamar Granor in my “Hot Off the Press” book discussion class, I learned about the Bechdel test, which comes from Alison Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” Strip. A book or movie passes the Bechdel test if it: Has at least two women in it who Talk to each other and Talk about something other than a man. Bonus points if the female characters have names! Casebook is a story told by Miles Adler-Hart, who is nine at the beginning of the story, and in his early twenties when he is telling the story. Nine-year-old Miles very much wants to be allowed to watch “Survivor,” so he decides to eavesdrop on the conversation his mother Irene (Reen) is having with her good friend Sarah (Sare), to see if they plan to let their sons watch the show. What he learns from this and much subsequent (and complex) eavesdropping is that his parents are planning to get divorced. The book tells the story of the divorce and Reen’s later relationship with another man, Eli, all through Miles’ eyes. Reen and Sare have a very close relationship and rely on each other to get through tough times and thorny issues, and they do occasionally discuss things other than men. Reen also has another friend, Marge, who, like herself, is a brainy mathematician, and they have many conversations about their work; in fact, they wind up working together and winning a major prize. So, Bechdel test? Check! How about the “is it a good book?” test? On that one we’re going to have to go with a “so-so.” Mona Simpson is a terrific writer. I love her language, even if one reader in my class complained that it did not at all sound like it was coming from a teenage boy. I was willing to overlook that because I so admire the way she turns a phrase. Here’s one example: “When we walked in the door that night, my mom looked happy and looser, the way she did around Eli, but our life didn’t feel as pure as it had been last year at this time, the way Christmas wasn’t after you learned it was just your parents, and almost nothing felt as right as at Little League when you were nine and the ball landed hard in your mitt.” In addition to being an excellent writer, Simpson also (and this is completely tangential to the analysis of the story) has a very interesting bio. Her literary credentials are stellar: after getting an undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and an...

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Goliath v. Goliath
Jun09

Goliath v. Goliath

At a party Saturday night, I had a long conversation with a friend about the contentious situation between Amazon and Hachette publishing. This friend is a professor and an author, so these two roles do elevate his awareness of publishing issues, but still, I think this battle is a publishing business issue that has really spilled over into public awareness. It is something that people really care about, because they have a stake in it. Most of us shop from Amazon, so what Amazon does affects us. How are we to feel about the latest move by the online retailing giant, hindering sales of books by Hachette authors? Do we calmly continue to enjoy the convenient free shipping offered by our Amazon Prime accounts or do we learn to shop elsewhere? Even Stephen Colbert is weighing in! With Amazon demanding a higher discount from Hachette on ebook sales and Hachette’s now closely-watched CEO Michael Piestch holding the line, Amazon has fought back by making Hachette books harder to purchase, claiming long waits for shipping, removing discounts, and recommending other titles instead. Many authors, including Colbert and Malcolm Gladwell, have weighed in to say how this situation is affecting them. Gladwell, speaking to the New York Times, explained how, over the years, he has sold millions of dollars’ worth of books on Amazon and therefore made them millions of dollars. “It’s sort of heartbreaking when your partner turns on you,” he says. James Patterson, who, according to New York Times columnist David Carr, has penned one out of every 17 hardcover novels now being sold, railed against Amazon at the recent Book Expo (the annual publishing trade conference), warning that: “Amazon seems to be out to control shopping in this country.” Several authors, however, have weighed in in support of Amazon, and in a story in The Daily Beast headlined “Amazon Is NOT the Vladimir Putin of the Publishing World,”  Nick Gillespie says the fight is really about how much readers, having gotten used to Amazon’s deep discounting, are going to have to pay for books. He says: “It’s really about how much readers are going to be asked to pay for titles coming out of big publishing companies. Amazon’s track record on that score is pretty damn great: It always wants the price to be lower. That sucks for publishers and authors, and maybe even for Amazon’s bottom line. But it’s worked pretty nicely for readers so far.” According to Publishers Weekly, Amazon has captured 40% of all book sales. That’s pretty difficult for any publisher or author to just walk away from. The recent government lawsuit accusing five publishers...

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