Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon... A Look at The National Book Awards

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Relax, pull up a chair and grab a cup of joe. It's the day of the week where we can relax, get together virtually with our bookish friends to chat about bookish news and what great books we've discovered this week!

This week we've seen some great bargains for your literary plate... Have you read Little Bee by Chris Cleave? How about Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen? Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford? All three are great reads and all are still under $7 at Amazon! Check out my post Great Reads at Bargain Prices to learn more about those books and a few others that are on my "must reads" list. And speaking of must reads, this past monday I hosted the virtual book tour for The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts, which is a charming holiday story filled with family and friendships with a splash of magic. It's the perfect little book to settle down with when life becomes too hectic during the holidays! And if you're into Romance, there's still time to enter the Give Thanks for Great Books November Romance Giveaway! Giveaway ends Nov. 27th, so if you'd like to put add a little fun to your reading, don't forget to follow the link at the top of Chick with Books to enter.

The National Book Awards were announced this week! The National Book Awards, created by The National Book Foundation, is meant to celebrate the best in American literature. It's mission is to "celebrate the best in American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." The first awards were given out in 1950! This year there were 1115 books submitted for the award in the following catagories...

Fiction: 302
Nonfiction: 435
Poetry: 148
Young People’s Literature: 230

Today, I thought we'd take a look at the winners of the Fiction, Nonfiction and YA catagories...

Lord of Misrule by Jaimie Gordon... At the rock-bottom end of the sport of kings sits the ruthless and often violent world of cheap horse racing, where trainers and jockeys, grooms and hotwalkers, loan sharks and touts all struggle to take an edge, or prove their luck, or just survive. Lord of Misrule follows five characters—scarred and lonely dreamers in the American grain—through a year and four races at Indian Mound Downs, downriver from Wheeling, West Virginia. Horseman Tommy Hansel has a scheme to rescue his failing stable: He’ll ship four unknown but ready horses to Indian Mound Downs, run them in cheap claiming races at long odds, and then get out fast before anyone notices. The problem is, at this rundown riverfront half-mile racetrack in the Northern Panhandle, everybody notices—veteran groom Medicine Ed, Kidstuff the blacksmith, old lady “gyp” Deucey Gifford, stall superintendent Suitcase Smithers, eventually even the ruled-off “racetrack financier” Two-Tie and the ominous leading trainer, Joe Dale Bigg. But no one bothers to factor in Tommy Hansel’s go-fer girlfriend, Maggie Koderer. Like the beautiful, used-up, tragic horses she comes to love, Maggie has just enough heart to wire everyone’s flagging hopes back to the source of all luck.

I hadn't really heard much about this book prior to its winning the award, but I'm sure it will be garnering a bit of publicity now. Lord of Misrule beat out some other great books - Great House by Nicole Krauss, Parrot and Oliver in America by Peter Carey, and I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita, which has actually been on my TBR list. (more on that one in another post...) I did pick this book up and read a bit, but it didn't pull me it with the brief time I spent with it. Maybe because my favorite "horse racing" book is Sea Biscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand. Lauren's book though is a true tale, but it flows so beautifully and is so entertaining that it feels like fiction. Read my review of Sea Biscuit , and if you haven't read this book yet put it on your TBR list because it is that good! (even if you know nothing of horses and racing!)

Just Kids by Pattie Smith... In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s 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.

Now this book has gotten a lot of great press. Seems like there are a lot of memoirs this year of musicians, Life by Keith Richards and Composed: A Memoir by Rosanne Cash among them. One of my favorite memoirs in the "musician" category was Wonderful Tonight by Patti Boyd. Patti was the wife of George Harrison and love of Eric Clapton. Her life was so interesting without adding George and Eric, but when she does you get a very different look into the world of rock and roll and the Beatles. Not to mention the origins of some great songs!

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine... In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.

Great buzz about this book! Praised for its' writing and how it sheds some light on a misunderstood disease- Asperger's disease. I also read that the 1962 movie, To Kill a Mockingbird, influenced the book.

Book awards are a way to shine the light on some great writing. Whether or not we agree with the choices really comes down to whether our tastes match the people judging the book and the criteria of the judging. What are your favorite book awards? My favorite book award is The Man Booker Prize. I love following the nominations from longlist to shortlist, and finally learning who the winner is. What are your favorite book awards? Have you read any of The National Book Award finalists? Share your favorites here, because we all love to know about a good book!

Have a wonderful Sunday and a Happy Thanksgiving!


Darlene said...

I'm just getting my review for The Snow Globe ready. I really enjoyed it too. I wouldn't mind reading Mockingbird- it does sound good.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Dar!
I can't wait to read your review of The Snow Globe, it's such a perfect holiday read! And I'm so glad it's getting such great exposure on the blogs!

Anonymous said...

I loved Mockingbird. I reviewed it on my blog. A great character in Caitlin, who wouldn't love her.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Page!
Would love to share your review! Leave a link if you get a chance! I thought I would enjoy it, but now that I know you give it two thumbs up, I'm going out to grab a copy! Thanks for sharing!

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