Lynn Reads a Book
This blog reflects Lynn Rosen’s comments on books she’s read and on happenings in the world of book publishing. You can purchase Lynn’s book recommendations at Barnes & Noble (we especially recommend Lynn’s store in Philadelphia!) or at your nearest indie bookstore. Wherever you choose to shop, we ask that you please support a bricks & mortar bookstore. They need your support! Shop local!
I’m reading a YA (young adult) book called The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone. I found out about it when the author was interviewed on NPR. It’s based on the Thorne Rooms, which are a series of miniature rooms created in the 1930s and now housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. The premise is that the kids in the book become miniature and can go in the rooms and have adventures.I bring it up today because I just read a quote I really liked and want to share with you. One of the main characters, a girl named Ruthie, is talking with her father about her friend Jack’s mother, Lydia. Lydia is an artist and Lydia and Jack live in a really cool loft. Lydia is described as being quirky and outgoing. She relates to people easily and in a friendly way, and she’s a great cook. Here’s Ruthie, speaking about her father: “He had often commented that artists like her [Lydia] create their lives rather than letting other people set the rules. Ruthie was beginning to understand what he meant by that: if you want something badly enough, you have to make it happen.” Inspiring...read more
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...read more
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 $24.99/$16.95 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion $24.00/$16.00 Schroder by Amity Gaige $21.99/$15.00 SELECTED PAPERBACK FICTION ALSO ON SALE The George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones 4 Book Set $35.96/$24.95 May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes $16.00/$11.00 A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki $16.00/$11.00 The...read more
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...read more
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 MFA at Columbia, she went to work for The Paris Review. Her many novels have won many prizes, and her first (and I think most popular), Anywhere But Here, was made into a film with Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman. Her parents divorced when she was young and she was raised by her single mother, losing track of her father. It turned out that her parents had had another child before Mona and before they married, whom they put up for adoption. Mona later found and became close with this elder sibling, who turned out to be Steve Jobs. And Mona’s husband, with whom she had two children and from...read more