If you're like me, March Madness is that thing with the brackets that I'm bound to lose money on because I know nothing about basketball, so why bother? But a bracket that pits literary characters against one another? Now that sounds like fun.
Got a book signing, book sale, or some other book-related event going on? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feb. 23 — February 2015 will go down as the month of big book news.
Frank Schembari loves books — printed books. He loves how they smell. He loves scribbling in the margins, underlining interesting sentences, folding a page corner to mark his place.
One of my colleagues enjoys American history. He reads a lot of books about the Civil War and biographies of presidents — material in which I have no interest. He has no taste for the literature I devour either: generous portions of young adult and historical stories, with a side of contemporary novels and just a sprinkling of nonfiction.
We should remind ourselves that when Sophocles wrote the tragedy “Antigone,” the story of the civil disobedience of Oedipus’ younger daughter and her self-sacrifice for a greater moral good, he was drawing on the ancient myths of Greek civilization. He selected and focused specific aspects of the myth for dramatic purposes.
For some people, food is simple. You eat when you’re hungry, you stop when you’re not, then you proceed to the next item on your to-do list.
In the prolific writer John Grisham’s own words: “Shades of Donovan. Shades of Marshall Kofer.” He is referring to two savvy lawyers who share an enthusiasm for winning in the courtroom and become important to Grisham’s storyline.
Dr. Seuss is a staple,
For me, it was just another day at the grocery store. I was a teenage cashier. Boxes, cans, coupons and generally surly people passed through my line. About half an hour into an eight-hour shift, it was all a blur to me, and everything was interchangeable. The store had hired a new guy, who viewed himself as a bit of a philosopher. During the lull in the nonaction, he turned to me and said, “Jason, how many people do you think you’ve waited on who have murdered someone?” The question left me thunderstruck, and it took me several weeks not to view people with suspicion, my mental barometer tuned to potential murderers in my midst.
This story has been told and retold many times to the point where it’s in a dusty archive on the back shelves of an old library. Every few years, the story is exhumed in some blustery speech congratulating the colorblind white general manager and the competitive stoic black second baseman.
I know that headline sounds condemnatory, but I'm serious: Millions of people have bought this book. I know a few people who have read it, not one person who liked it, and I don't know anyone who plans to see it. Perhaps it's a case of birds of a feather flocking together; I don't plan to see the movie either. I haven't even read the series, although I might get round to it eventually. That and "Twilight."
In “Love, Again,” Eve Pell is old and in love as she begins to tell all about her romance in an uplifting memoir that includes the relationship experiences of other old people.
As a former English teacher and runner, I came to “Poverty Creek Journal” by Virginia Tech professor Thomas Gardner with eager anticipation mingled with a little skepticism. The slender paperback felt skimpy in my hands; yet within its few pages lay the promise of lyrical essays Gardner penned after running Virginia trails from January to December 2012.
This week I was reading an old Buzzfeed article that said Beth March died in "Little Women." I scrolled down to the comments and someone said that Beth did not die in "Little Women," but in the following book, "Good Wives." Someone else replied that "Good Wives" is just the second half of "Little Women."
“Factory Man,” Beth Macy’s best-selling book about furniture executive John Bassett’s efforts to save his company’s Galax factory, is the Roanoke Valley Reads selection for this year’s communitywide reading project.
Montgomery County author and illustrator Cece Bell received one of the top honors of children’s literature on Monday.
In these closing months of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, we may expect a last flurry of publications on that monumental conflict, many of them pompous and scholarly, others lightweight and trivial. This one is neither. Thoroughly researched, excellently written and edited, it deserves wide distribution among both general readers and seasoned historians.
The Virginia Festival of the Book began in 1995 with a couple of book lovers and a dream. It grew quickly; now, in its 21st year, tens of thousands of people from around the world have descended on Charlottesville in March to talk about books, hear about books and learn about books.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” “The Great Gatsby.” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” “Harry Potter.” “The Diary of Anne Frank.” “The Grapes of Wrath.” “To Kill a Mockingbird.” “Brave New World.”
Jan. 26 — They say you can't have too much of a good thing. That includes love, your sheets' thread count and books space in The Roanoke Times.
Virginia Woolf provocatively stated in her essay “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1923) that “on or about December 1910 human character changed.” She allows that this date may be arbitrary, but that there was during this period an important cultural shift in England.
I wish I had been with William C. Davis when he decided to write “Crucible of Command.” It must have been a moment of epiphany not unlike those when Newton first understood gravity or Galileo found moons circling Jupiter or Edison’s lab found the right combination to make a functional light bulb — Saul on the road to Damascus.
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale —
How many of us know that Eugene Ely made the first airplane flight in Roanoke on Sept. 22, 1910, at the Great Roanoke Fair along the river in South Roanoke?
“It’s just a house. Bricks and mortar.” Except it isn’t. Rebecca James depicts an Australian mansion that in many ways is the main character of her second novel “Sweet Damage.”
If an event ends in -athon, that usually means you need to eat a protein-packed breakfast and put pants on. Luckily, readathons are exempt from that.
So many great, educational responses to this giveaway. I got lots of e-mails, too, some of them very in-depth. I'm afraid I can't count those as entries, and I'm picking a winner just from the comments -- in this case Dave Hanson. Dave, please e-mail a mailing address to email@example.com and I will get this book to you ASAP. Feel free to come back and tell me if you like it.
Philip Pullman spawned fans and foes with the release of "The Golden Compass," the first in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Readers loved the detailed world, Pullman's stubborn child protagonist Lyra, the novelty of our souls walking beside us in the form of daemons. Critics condemned the series as anti-religious and an attack on Christianity.
In the movie “Throw Momma From the Train,” mystery writer Larry points out to his student, Owen, that the mystery he had just written was easy to solve because it had two people in it and one of them had just been murdered. Although Sarah Graves’ “Winter at the Door” isn’t quite that simple, it does carry with it that veneer of amateurism.
The Raleigh Court Library renovation and expansion will move forward despite construction bids coming $1.5 million over budget thanks to cost-saving changes and money that had been set aside to design fire stations.
Efemelu, a Nigerian who came to the United States to complete her university education, now holds a respected fellowship at Princeton University. Her blog, provocatively titled “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black,” has become something of a sensation. She stands on the train platform on her way to Trenton to have her hair braided. WASPish Princeton has no such shops.
There's just one more week to complete the challenge, so time for an update on the number of books I've read this year. I'll link to reviews as I have them.
THE YEAR IN BOOKS
Dec. 29 -- It's the last Monday of the year.
If you have an interest in the Earth (Home-World) and the universe (All-There-Is), and you can’t quite keep all the arcane terms used by astronomers, here is a small book (with a large import) that will help you make sense of it all.
James Haley’s latest history, “Captive Paradise,” is a narrative history of Hawaii, the 50th member of the United States. He follows the dramatic changes from the 1778 visit by England’s Captain James Cook until it became a state in mid-20th century. In that relatively short time, the island nation moved from a feudal system ruled by King Kamehameha I (The Conqueror) to a democratic society.
Michel Faber’s long anticipated new novel “The Book of Strange New Things” far exceeded my expectations. I am not ordinarily a fan of science fiction or Christian fiction, but this novel, the story of Peter Leigh’s mission to take Christ to an alien race on an imaginary planet, resonates in a deeply human way while avoiding the preachiness and partisanship found in much of today’s religious writing. Vulnerable characters, perfectly paced plot and provocative themes make this novel one of my favorites of 2014.
It's the week before Christmas, you've finished shopping, and you're about to relax on the sofa with a mug of peppermint hot chocolate and "It's A Wonderful Life." Suddenly, you splutter and sit upright. You just realized: You forgot Aunt Fifi/cousin Bill/your best friend's sister's uncle's dad. You had a gift picked out, but you took the kids to see Santa, then you had to bake, and then mail out Christmas cards … you just didn't get round to buying anything.
In times like this, the best gift you can offer is a book. They're easily grabbed at your local bookstore, or you can schedule a delivery date for an e-reader. The Roanoke Times Sunday book reviews offer fertile ground for ideas, and to help you out, I've rounded up reviews of all genres from 2014. The best part? These books have been out for months, making them even more affordable and accessible than new releases.
To get more ideas, scroll through the blog posts at blogs.roanoke.com/backcover. When it comes to books, there truly is something for everyone.
The sports fan:
For anyone who loves going to Red Sox games, dreams of the big leagues, or is just plain interested in America's favorite pastime, "Where Nobody Knows Your Name" will score you a home run. John Feinstein follows players, managers and an umpire as they go from minors to majors and back again. The author covers the business of baseball as well as players' motivations — money, pride, the love of the game. Sports fans are likely familiar with Feinstein's work, but if you're not, this is a good book with which to begin.
Reviewer Mike Ramsey says, "You are likely to enjoy the prose (which is exemplary) and the ennobling stories of triumph, defeat and perseverance in the face of unrelenting professional and personal challenges."
Kathy Shaw likes the original version of "Little Women." Kathy, I hope you like it even more now, because you are the winner of the book giveaway. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a mailing address and I will get the book out ASAP.
Well, I'm sorry that Carol wasn't able to answer your questions, but thank you all for participating anyway. I'm still picking winners, in this case Carla McCurdy Bream and Jodie Jones. Please e-mail email@example.com with mailing addresses so I can get your books out.
Melissa Hobbs Davis, I hope your face lights up with a smile, because you are the winner. Send a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get this book out to you ASAP!
Cancer took Carol Wall’s life, but it did not take her story.
Pajamas? Yes, I love pajamas. Kelly Bigelow VanderMey, congratulations, you are the winner of the giveaway. E-mail a mailing address to email@example.com and I will get this book out to you ASAP!
Every day, Shin Dong-hyuk pulled on the same pants he wore the day before. They never got washed and were stiff from dried sweat and urine. If the teacher was in a good mood, he and classmates might pick the lice from one another’s bodies. If he were lucky, he’d catch a rat or some insects to supplement his meager meals.
Bedford resident Diane Fanning’s new mystery series features a courageous, brilliant young scientist named Libby Clark. “Scandal in the Secret City” finds Libby drawn into the intrigue of the male-dominated world of 1940’s bomb making and murderous mayhem. The strong female characters, plausible plot lines and quick pace make the reading delightful, but the big questions the novel raises make this book a winner.
Thank you for the cute stories about your favorite decorations. The winner who will be traveling to Valentine Valley through this book is Cynthia Cooper. Cynthia, please send a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Marston Thisdell, I don't know if you'll be spending Christmas far from home, but you will be spending it with this book. You are the winner! Please send a mailing address to email@example.com so I can get it out to you ASAP.
I hope you all got some fresh ideas for your holiday playlist, but the reader who'll be singin' when she's winnin' is Joyce Arwood Salyer. Joyce, e-mail a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get this book out to you ASAP.
Anna Di Castello, a sculptor who lives not far from Carrara, Italy, and the emotional epicenter of “The Figures of Beauty,” David Macfarlane’s second novel, believes the universe is ordered, but not in a simple, sequential fashion. Order is a discovery, a network of stories, just as shapes and forms have been revealed by various sculptors for centuries in the magnificent marbles of Carrara.
James Neal (Jim, Chief) Blake, 72, of Roanoke, Va., passed away February 19, 2015. Celebration of Life will be 4 p.m. Thursday, February 26, 2015, at Oakey's Roanoke Chapel, 540-982-2100.
William (Billy) Huffman, 75, of Vinton, passed away Monday, February 23, 2015. Services are private. Arrangements by Conner Bowman Funeral Home, Rt. 220, 62 Virginia Marketplace Dr., Rocky Mount, VA, 540-334-5151.
Audrey Y. Shaver Bryant Brydges, 76, of Baltimore, Md., passed away Monday, February 23, 2015. Funeral Services will be 3 p.m. Friday, February 27, 2015, at Broyles-Shrewsbury Funeral Home Chapel, Peterstown, W.Va., 304-753-4325.
Margaret Boyce Rowland, 91, of Marion, passed away Thursday, February 18, 2015. Mass of Resurrection will be 11 a.m. Saturday, February 28, 2105, at St. John Evangelist Catholic Church, Marion, Va.. Arrangements by Seaver-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory, Marion, Va., 276-783-7107.