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Books (143 posts)
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today...
By Maxine Swann
Why we loved it: One single American divorcée, two new mysterious friends to go out with, an entire city of handsome, sexy, endlessly interested Argentine men.
What made us want to move to Buenos Aires: "Flamboyant, the Buenos Aires trees bloom not once but at several seasons. The jacaranda tree has pale purple blossoms that fall off long before they're withered, littering the ground with pale purple trumpets; the palo borracho has pink blossoms, hand-sized, the whole tree flames up with them; the small yellow flowers on the tipa trees give off a dizzying scent. ... On the lawn that falls down from the Plaza San Martin, people lie out to sunbathe or sleep, exhausted in the middle of day. ... In the evenings, in darker spots, near where there are trees, you could practically make love, and people do."
The bigger picture: Does living in a foreign country—far from friends and family—help you discover who you already are? Or help reinvent you into the person you've always wanted to be?
The guilty pleasure: Traveling through the aristocratic, glittering cocktail parties of the Argentine elite, where Europeans and Americans are elevated—for better or for worse—to the status of semiroyality.
The authentic surprise: Nobody tangos.
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today, the paperback version of the quiet, heartbreaking sleeper novel:
by Michael Knight
The story only a novelist could think up: Van, the fastest U.S. Army typist in the occupied nation of post–World War II Japan, becomes the babysitter to the young son of General MacArthur.
The blurb says it all: "This book awed me." — Elizabeth Gilbert
The words that capture recovering Hiroshima, circa 1947: "A scrap of metal. A hunk of concrete. A man alone. Difficult to imagine that anything had ever existed in this place until you noticed the scorched and gutted hulks of buildings big enough to survive the blast rising like weird barnacles on the landscape."
The astonishing event that takes place in that same landscape: A football game, the Tokyo Giants versus the Hiroshima Bears.
The reason to read: Quirky, must-be-true historical details pop up throughout the book, but the straightforward narrator makes us question difficult, universal concerns, like, How can you possibly take care of the people you love who seem to be unable to love even themselves?
Looking for a good book? Try these 27 sizzling summer reads.
"Why people read what they read is a great unknown and personal thing," Sara Nelson once told The New York TImes. Today, O's celebrated book editor —and reader extraordinaire—tells us about her connection to the witty, wonderful jazz-era novel Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles.
"Rules of Civility is to books what the great classic movie, An Affair to Remember is to film. It's salty and funny and so wise about class, ambition and love in New York. Part of what makes the novel work, in my opinion, is that the city is, itself, a character in the book; the author has clearly done his research (but its seams don't show!) about the provenance of certain buildings and jazz clubs in the late 1930s. Most of all, however, I loved the book because I loved Katey Kontent, its protagonist—a tough-talking but tender dame."
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale this Saturday:
by Robert Olen Butler
The quiet heartbreak that anchors the novel: The day Michael and Kelly Hayes are supposed to finalize their divorce, they separately mourn—and long—for their shared past.
Where you'll travel: From the French quarter in New Orleans to a hoop-skirted historical ball on a Mississippi plantation.
What not to expect: The usual patient, slow unfolding of a story about marriage. This little novel is a page-turner—right up to the last page.
The sentence that had us at hotel: "They look at each other steadily for a long while and then somewhere about her eyes she shows the tiniest moon-ascension increment of a threshold smile, but it too holds and persists without pushing on and he does not have to deal with it, does not have to smile as well or be forced not to smile in return, it is a simple thing with no demands on him and his chest and arms and shoulders go quiet, his mind goes quiet, he knows he can be good with this woman and she can be good with him."
Our complete review of A Small Hotel
The Irresistibles: 45 lyrical, luscious reads
20 unputdownable love stories
The big decade birthdays are confusing to all of us. When you're turning 30, 40, 50, 60, or up are you supposed to throw a huge bash and embrace the moment with joy? Or are you supposed to throw a huge bash and pretend you're embracing the moment with joy? Or are you supposed to slink off into the night with a good friend and a bottle of champagne? There are my questions. My last milestone birthday went a little dimly. Slinking off is never as much fun as you want it to be.
Thankfully, one spunky woman at the outer edge of 49 has given me a completely new view on how to celebrate the next 0-birthday. Quite frankly, I'm not sure if it's her or her cause that is more inspiring. But I'm definitely going to to tune in to see if she shaves her head to celebrate!
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: The websites that enhance our reading experience.
Are you, like O's books editor Sara Nelson, lucky enough to read at your desk in the middle of the day without anyone flinching? No? For those of us who must remove our noses from our favorite books when duty calls, the these three sites are a great way to get your literary fix online.
1. Forgotten Bookmarks
Everyone knows used bookstores are packed with treasures just waiting to be discovered, but what we don't think about is that sometimes the best items are inside the books. This site collects the, yes, forgotten bookmarks, ranging from "oh, neat!" retro like cardboard game pieces (fittingly found inside a vintage copy of Swiss Family Robinson) to the breathtakingly personal: wedding photographs inconspicuously stashed within Pamela Wayne's Ann's an Idiot.
2. The Book Inscriptions Project
In that same vein, The Book Inscriptions Project chronicles handwritten messages readers come across in hand-me-down or borrowed books. Love letters, poetry, and the most down-to-business notes all provide a totally compelling peek into strangers' lives.
3. Slaughterhouse 90210
"Kurt Vonnegut, meet Brenda Walsh" is the tagline for this Tumblr which pairs high-minded literary quotes with stills from TV shows. Snooki and Charlotte Bronte? Lisa Simpson and Raymond Chandler? Unlikely bedfellows, sure, but matches made in heaven all the same.
Personalized Reading Recommendations from Sara Nelson
Summer Movies Inspired by Some of Our Favorite Books
An Ode to the Humble Paperback
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: the hidden life of bookstores.
Do you remember the fairy tale where little elves popped out of the woodwork at night and helped the cobbler repair his shoes? Personally, I've always imagined similar creatures living at my local bookstore—tiny, luminous Tinkerbells restocking the picture books, surprisingly silent giants transporting boxes of dictionaries and atlases, a very organized troll in charge of the whole operation from the cashier's counter.
Turns out I was wrong. People set up bookstores. People who move very, very, very fast—as Galley Cat proved to me in this silly, surprising video of a bookstore built in one minute, 17 seconds.
I love a book by cramming it into a handbag even when it clearly doesn't fit, by holding it close to my chest when I'm sopping wet from a swim, by eating my dinner over it (I said mostly between my plate and my mouth), by turning the pages with so much enthusiasm that they have been known to rip. I can't help it, but I also cannot blame my mother for flat out refusing to lend me anything she hopes to reread in the future.
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: Ann Patchett's new bookstore.
All of us have wondered, at one time or another, what it would be like to try a different profession—maybe without giving up the one we've already got. This week the Los Angeles Times reported that writer Ann Patchett—the genius behind this summer's beloved and bestselling novel State of Wonder—has just announced she's opening up her own bookstore in her hometown of Nashville. "I see this as a gift to the city," Patchett said. "Not as an investment, not as a smart business move, but really as somebody who loves Nashville..."
We chatted with Patchett about the nitty gritty of owning a store—from managing two careers to interviewing in-store pets.
Oprah.com: What kind of books do you want to feature: the classics? Modern fiction? Do you have something unexpected or quirky that you'd love to put on that front table or in its own section?
Ann Patchett: I'm an equal opportunity bookseller, though I will admit I despise furious political nonfiction built on rumors and mean-spiritedness. I'd like to not sell any of those. I certainly will want a little table of books I love and love to recommend, like Edith Pearlman's short stories, and Jeanette Haien's tiny and utterly perfect novel, The All of It, and, of course Moss Hart's autobiography, Act One. I'm just broken-hearted that I've already read Act One. It makes me feel better to think that other people are reading it.
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today, a paperback that's required reading for anybody whose battled tragedy—without surrendering to the emotional monsters and muck. If you missed it in hardcover, please, please don't let it slip you by at the bookstore.
by Karen Russell
The genius plot: A 13-year-old girl tries to save her family's Florida alligator park while her sister communes with swamp ghosts and her brother works at the competing mega-attraction the World of Darkness.
The twist: Expect the heartbreaking and true, not just the wacky and possibly paranormal.
The riveting opening scene: "Mom swam...the entire length of the lake. People screamed and pointed whenever an alligator swam into the spotlight with her, a plump and switching tail cutting suddenly into its margarine wavelength, the spade of the monster's face jawing up at her side."
The moment that changes everything: "Hilola Jane Bigtree, world-class alligator wrestler, terrible cook, mother of three died in dryland hospital bed in West Davey on an overcast Wednesday March 10, at 3:12 p.m."
The bit of reptilian trivia we'll always remember: Alligators can run faster than Arabian horses on land.