Archive for the ‘Today’s Random Book Gossip’ Category

Oprah's Latest Pick

Posted: October 5, 2007 in Today's Random Book Gossip


I’m not usually one to comment much on Oprah, though not because I don’t like her or anything. It’s nothing personal. I’ve looked on while she’s been doing her book club thang, but I’ve just not really been too pulled in by it all. But these last couple choices she’s made, for her book club picks, have caught my attention.

I’ll admit it, I did participate in her Faulkner read, back in the summer of 2005. After I finished choking from shock she’d chosen not one but three of his books, I hung out on her message boards, doing my best to help out and explain Faulkner to the befuddled. I converted a few readers, too, or at least they told me so, possibly in order to shut me up.

As a Mississippi native myself, I considered it a sacred duty helping the masses to understand one of my triad of literary icons (the other two being Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens). I’m very familiar with Faulkner and his works, so it was also just a darn good opportunity for me to acutally use that somewhere in the real world. That it helped others appreciate him more was the icing on that cake.

But aside from that experience, I’ve really had little true interest in Oprah’s book club endeavor. And that’s not just because I’m a bit of a book snob, though I do have my moments. I respect what she’s doing, especially now that she’s off her dysfunctional family trend and onto some really good, valuable literature. That other stuff wasn’t to my taste. Some of it may have been perfectly good to read, but frankly, getting beaten over the head with one, single theme of sorrow and tribulation gets a little old. I can get that much at home, thanks.

Now, though, she’s taken her club to a higher level altogether. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a monumental writer. It hardly gets any better than him. Plus, now her themes actually vary, from read to read. That’s a good thing, too. It keeps you from the urge to pull an Anna Karenina, a potential byproduct of reading a constant diet of misery.

I may actually try to squeeze in Love in the Time of Cholera, and read along with Oprah and her crowd. It all screams of conformity, and that really does give me the shudders, but you know, this is one of the better uses of conformity. If I had to choose between Oprah-conformity and going back to that 80s fashion trend of wearing leggings, I think it’s better I go with Oprah. On many levels.

And of course I encourage everyone else to jump on the bandwagon with me. Conformity, after all, loves company.


Already the best selling author in history, J.K. Rowling’s about to get a whole lot richer.

Check out this article in the London Times.


Great bookish article in the Guardian this morning about the reading habits of the British public. “Unputdownable” summer reading books is the topic, and here’s their list:

1: The Island, Victoria Hislop. Has she got news for him? Wife of Private Eye editor eclipses husband’s media career with book in which Anglo-Cretan Alexis, fleeing man trouble on island of Plaka, uncovers family secrets involving leprosy. Infectious story.

2: My Best Friend’s Girl, Dorothy Koomson. Kam and Adele are best chums until Kam has sex with Adele’s Nate. Flash forward to Adele revealing to Kam that she has terminal cancer and Nate’s child. Can Kam bring herself to bring up the bastard’s bastard? Mother of all shlock.

3: The Righteous Men, Sam Bourne. Guardian political columnist mounts conspiracy to steal Dan Brown’s audience, using easily cracked pseudonym and less easily cracked plot about global murders linked to the Kabbalah. Da Vinci clone.

4: The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova. A young woman discovers ancient papers relating to the Dracula legend. A novel that tries to alchemise The Da Vinci Code, Possession and The Name of the Rose into one bookstore-entrancing potion. Long, slow bite.

5: Perfect Match, Jodi Picoult. Just the thing for when you’ve finally got the kids down. An assistant district attorney handling cases of abuse is forced to apply her skills closer to home when her five-year-old son is discovered to have been molested. Earnest importance.

6: The Abortionist’s Daughter, Elisabeth Hyde. George Bush claims to have read Camus’ L’Etranger this summer but might have been happier with this. A pro-choice champion is murdered in Colorado, leading to her daughter and husband becoming suspects. Sad to terminate.

7: Making Your Mind Up, Jill Mansell. There have been many reports of the death of chick lit, with crime fiction wanted for questioning. But the gags-and-shags genre survives in Mansell’s 17th novel: 30-plus divorcee lusts after office hunk despite the disapproval of her young children. Small minds only.

8: End in Tears, Ruth Rendell. The only veteran on a list filled with new writers. Chief Inspector Wexford overcomes media scepticism to solve the murder of a young girl in a case that touches on love, drugs and the anger of modern society. Same from Dame.

9: On Beauty, Zadie Smith. The novels of EM Forster and the paintings of Rembrandt are transferred to the email age in the third bestseller from a writer who has barely turned 30. Faster Forster.

10: The Devil’s Feather, Minette Walters. In the 12th book by the female pretender to Rendell and PD James’s crime-queen title, a foreign correspondent, exiled to England from Africa, dangerously uses herself as bait to catch a serial killer. Cool chills.

While I haven’t read a single one of these titles, I have read some of the authors. Ruth Rendell is my very favorite mystery writer of all time. She also writes, equally well, as Barbara Vine. I’ve never read a bad book by Rendell/Vine. I’d recommend them all, but Master of the Moor is a “thumping good” gothic.

Speaking of authors with pseudonyms, I can’t figure out why an author writes under two names, especially when (s)he puts both names on the book covers. Why do they do that? Rendell/Vine doesn’t, but many authors do. Defies any explanation I can think of, unless they have a big reputation under one name and want their readership to also read their “other” books, but that seems more than a bit schizophrenic to me.

I bought The Historian months ago, after the reviews started coming out. Still haven’t worked it to the top of the reading pile. I’ve heard mixed things about it. It’s one of those love/hate books.

Finally, Jodi Picoult. I read her The Tenth Circle for review several months ago. I thought it an ambitious task to model a work of fiction on Dante’s Inferno, but in some ways Picoult did a nice job with it. At times I wanted to hit myself over the head with a heavy object from the 3/4 point through the end, due to extreme improbability of plot and some rather tedious writing, but still overall it had some promise. I don’t read graphic novels but I thought she used that element well in this book. I won’t read Perfect Match, though. One was really enough for me.

Interesting to see what they’ve been reading this summer in the U.K. I half expected it to be a bit more highbrow than here in the Colonies, and the Guardian article has some really interesting insight into that. Give it a read if you have a moment.

And God Save the Queen.


Phew, that’s annoying. Three times I’ve typed in long-winded posts, and three times they’ve disappeared POOF! into thin air.


(Note to self: find SAVE button.)

Anyway, have you been following the news about Harry Potter # 7? JK Rowling’s reportedly done writing this last installment, and the gossip is not one but TWO main characters will die… More disturbingly than that, she’s hinting one of them may be (prepare yourselves) HARRY…


I will admit I had a hard time with the loss of Dumbledore in Book 6. I’m still hoping he’ll make like Lazarus and pop back up again, somehow, in Book 7, but I’m in the minority as to people who believe that could happen.

But hope springs infernal.

In other news, there’s a new book-themed game! Shockingly, I’ve already ordered one for myself:


The premise of the game is that each player will write an authentic-sounding first sentence for a particular work of literature, after being given the title and a brief description. The moderator will then read the real sentence along with the fake ones, and the objective is to choose the real first sentence. It took me about five minutes to decide this game was an absolute necessity.

Weirdly, though, the game was developed by actress Daryl Hannah, who impressed herself on my memory for her portrayal as a mermaid in _Splash!_ I can’t think of her without recalling her weird dolphin-like noises, yet I’ve just bought something literature-related from her.

Not sure it gets stranger than that, though it’s also true Kate Moss (the coke-snorting supermodel who can fit between the pickets of a fence with room to spare) has also signed a deal to write her autobiography. Bizarro world.

What may be most shocking of all, though, is the price of the game, yet these specialty games never do come cheap. That statement, accompanied with a gesure of resignation, will be my response when the credit card bill comes in next month. It may not get me anywhere, but I firmly believe it’s important to have a plan.

(I’m taking all reasonable suggestions on how to claim a purchase from SimplyFun as a “household expense,” by the way.)

My family won’t indulge me in playing this game with me, I can already tell you that. This is the same family that won’t make eye contact with me when I pull out the Trivial Pursuit game. They’re oddly put off by my penchant for gleefully (they call it “maniacally,” but I protest their usage of that word) jumping on all the brown wedge questions (literature, in case there was any doubt), and worse by my tendency to not only get the answers right but to do so in a rather “condescending manner.”

I may grant them the use of “condescending.”

Ah, well. There’s still room in the corner of the game closet where Booktastic sits, gathering dust. Maybe someday (she said, with a hopeful look out of the corner of her eye).

And that is all I have to say about that for today. I’m not recreating this for a FIFTH time!

P.S.: If you’re reading this it means I did, indeed, find the SAVE button.