World Book Night is scheduled for April 23, 2012. This fantastic event began last year in the U.K. and has expanded to include the U.S. this year. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author, Anna Quindlen, has been named honorary national chairperson for the US event. The mission of World Book Night is to spread a love of reading and books. The goal "is to get books in the hands of people who are underserved because of income or location or other reasons," says Carl Lennertz, director of the event. The organization also promotes the value of bookstores and libraries to everyone year round through social media and traditional publicity.
Organizers plan to give away 1 million books. How? you ask. By enlisting the help of 50,000 bibliophile-volunteers who will serve as "book givers". The "book givers" will be handing out the books in unexpected places. Ms. Quindlen will be one of the "givers" and says she'll probably head to a Manhattan subway station to give away copies of The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, which she calls "the most resonant book on war." She goes on to say that "if more people read it, the world would be a better place." If you're interested, online applications are being accepted until February 1st to be a "book giver". To be considered you must be: a US resident aged 16 or older, able to pick up 20 copies of your book from your local bookshop or library, committed to giving your books away on World Book Night to non or light readers.
A committee of booksellers and librarians has chosen 30 titles of mostly new and popular fiction that will be distributed. Mr. Lennertz asked that the committee choose titles that they could envision themselves handing out in a public or social services setting, and to imagine that book getting someone excited about reading. This direction has certainly resulted in a fabulously diverse mix. The costs of these paperback special editions will be underwritten by publishers, printers, and paper companies. And all 30 authors have waived their royalties. How great is that?!
The titles that have been chosen are:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands,Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak)
Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alexie's YA debut, released in hardcover to instant success, receiving seven starred reviews, hitting numerous bestseller lists, and winning the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Ballantine)
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger (Da Capo)
Here is a book as joyous and painful, and as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s first memoir, published in 1969 is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” When she journeys at eight to her mother’s side in St. Louis, she is attacked by a man many times her age. Years later, in San Francisco, she learns about love for herself–and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. The kindness of others, Maya’s own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Beacon Press)
Return once again to the timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa--the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going. Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bust path of the oil business. In bad times, the unemployment rate barrels out of control; in good times, its murder rate skyrockets. But every Friday night from September to December, when the Permian High School Panthers play football, this West Texas town becomes a place where dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, H. G. Bissinger chronicles a season in the life of Odessa and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires--and sometimes shatters--the teenagers who wear the Panthers' uniforms.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Tor)
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave (Simon and Schuster)
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
Sarah Summers is enjoying a holiday on a Nigerian beach when a young girl named Little Bee crashes irrevocably into her life. All it takes is a brief and horrifying moment of crisis — a terrifying scene that no reader will forget. Afterwards, Sarah and Little Bee might expect never to see each other again.
Chapter by chapter, alternating between Little Bee’s voice and Sarah’s, Chris Cleave wholly and caringly portrays two very different women trying to cope with events they’d never imagined.
What follows when Little Bee comes back into Sarah’s life is a powerful story of reconciliation and healing, but it is mixed in with a generous helping of satire about the daily difficulties of modern life. This is a novel about important issues, from refugee policy to the devastating effects of violence, but more than that, it does something only great fiction can: Little Bee teaches us what it is like to live through experiences most of us think of only as far off disasters in the news.
Blood Work by Michael Connelly (Grand Central)
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.
Michael Connelly has been attracting fans by the droves with his hard-boiled, edgy thrillers. A former crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Connelly combines a poet's ear for language with a deep understanding of the criminal mind to create dark, dramatic stories that raise the thriller genre to a new level. In Blood Work, Connelly introduces a new character, Terry McCaleb, who was a top man at the FBI until a heart ailment forced his early retirement. Now he lives a quiet life, nursing his new heart and restoring the boat on which he lives in Los Angeles Harbor. Although he isn't looking for any excitement, when Graciela Rivers asks him to investigate her sister Gloria's death, her story hooks him immediately: the new heart beating in McCaleb's chest is Gloria's. As McCaleb investigates the evidence in the case, the suspected randomness of the crime gives way to an unsettling suspicion of a twisted intelligence behind the murder. Soon McCaleb finds himself on the trail of a killer more horrifying than anything he ever encountered before.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (Riverhead); a Spanish-language edition, La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao (Vintage Espanol), will also be made available.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of
all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú – the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican–American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss.
Winner of the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, for Fiction
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (Vintage)
One summer day, Opal goes into a supermarket and comes out with a scraggly dog that she names Winn-Dixie. Because of Winn-Dixie, her preacher father finally tells her ten things about her absentee mother, and Opal makes lots of unusual friends in her quirky Florida town. And because of Winn-Dixie, Opal grows to learn that friendship -- and forgiveness -- can sneak up on you like a sudden storm. Now available in a delightful tie-in edition, here is the original Newbery Honor-winning book that inspired the major motion picture.
The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters:
the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Grove Atlantic)
- A New York Times Notable Book
- An O, The Oprah Magazine Terrific Read of the Year
- A Huffington Post Best Book of the Year
- A New Yorker Favorite Book of the Year
- A Chicago Tribune Favorite Nonfiction Book of the Year
- A Kansas City Star Best Book of the Year
- A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
- An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Decade
Born with no air in his lungs, it was only when Reuben Land's father, Jeremiah, picked him up and commanded him to breathe that Reuben's lungs filled. Reuben struggles with debilitating asthma from then on, making him a boy who knows firsthand that life is a gift, and also one who suspects that his father is touched by God and can overturn the laws of nature.
The quiet 1960's midwestern life of the Lands is upended when Reuben's brother Davy kills to marauders who have come to harm the family. The morning of his sentencing, Davy -- a hero to some, a cold-blooded murderer to others -- escapes from his cell, and the Lands set out in search of him. Their journey is touched by serendipity and the kindness of strangers, and they cover territory far more extraordinary than even the Badlands where they search for Davy from their Airstream trailer.
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (Algonquin)Sprinkled with playful nods to Biblical tales, beloved classics such as Huckleberry Finn, the adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson, and the westerns of Zane Grey, Peace Like A River is at once a heroic quest, a tragedy, a love story, and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.
He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton (Berkley)
What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.
Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)
Back in 1969, young people were hitting the road. More than one of them wound up dead-including the girl in daisy-patterned pants who was found in a quarry off Highway 1, the victim of multiple stab wounds.
Eighteen years later, she's still a Jane Doe-and the cops who found her are still haunted by the case. Anxious to solve it, but no longer in their prime, they turn to Kinsey Millhone for help. But this ice-cold case heats up more quickly than they expected.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (Ballantine)
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father's servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption, and it is also about the power of fathers over sons-their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
The first Afghan novel to be written in English, The Kite Runner tells a sweeping story of family, love, and friendship against a backdrop of history that has not been told in fiction before, bringing to mind the large canvases of the Russian writers of the nineteenth century. But just as it is old-fashioned in its narration, it is contemporary in its subject-the devastating history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years. As emotionally gripping as it is tender, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful debut.
The Stand by Stephen King (Anchor)
John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Perennial)And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (W.W. Norton)
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner)
A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's loneliness.
Leo Gursky is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands full—keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild—she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories.
Jhumpa Lahiri's debut story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, took the literary world by storm when it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Fans who flocked to her stories will be captivated by her best-selling first novel, now in paperback for the first time. The Namesake is a finely wrought, deeply moving family drama that illuminates this acclaimed author's signature themes: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the tangled ties between generations.
The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of an arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Ashoke does his best to adapt while his wife pines for home. When their son, Gogol, is born, the task of naming him betrays their hope of respecting old ways in a new world. And we watch as Gogol stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.
With empathy and penetrating insight, Lahiri explores the expectations bestowed on us by our parents and the means by which we come to define who we are.The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (Mariner)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Perennial)
A classic, life-changing meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling, with more than two-million copies in printDepicting the men of Alpha Company—Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three—the stories in The Things They Carried opened our eyes to the nature of war in a way we will never forget. It is taught everywhere, from high school classrooms to graduate seminars in creative writing, and in the decades since its publication it has never failed to challenge our perceptions of fact and fiction, war and peace, and courage, longing, and fear.
In 1979, Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato -- a novel about the Vietnam War -- won the National Book Award. In this, his second work of fiction about Vietnam, O'Brien's unique artistic vision is again clearly demonstrated. Neither a novel nor a short story collection, it is an arc of fictional episodes, taking place in the childhoods of its characters, in the jungles of Vietnam and back home in America two decades later.
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Atria)
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening—until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds, and people from different continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion . . . and cannot be stopped.
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Picador)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Back Bay)
A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Broadway)
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.
Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
Winner of the National Book Award. In Just Kids, Patti Smith¹s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work‹from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Talk to you soon. Happy reading,