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, February 2, 2020

The Sunday Salon and the Winner is... Oscars in the World of Reading...

This week I rented Parasite by Bong Joon Hon. It's up for the Best Picture Oscar and Best International Feature Film. It is a Korean movie with English Subtitles. I enjoy movies, I'm not obsessed, but I do think it's fun to see if any of the movies I've seen win any of the Oscars. I do love foreign films though! And Parasite really intrigued me. The trailers for it just didn't help me understand what the movie was about, but it had won a few Golden Globes, so I wanted to see it. I have to say, I was blown away by it. It was not what I was expecting and the ending was so twisted. The story subtley paints and builds up a picture of the division of the wealthy to the poor, and it does it in an amazing way. I can't see it winning the Best Picture, just because I think 1917 will be doing that and I'm not sure a English Subtitled movie would actually win the "Big One", but I can see it definitely winning Best International Feature Film. I haven't seen the other Best International Feature Films though, and I can't compare it, but I do think it really deserves recognition. Not all the nominated movies are out on Dvd, so I'll be waiting on some of them, but all this Award talk and emails about books winning awards this week got me thinking about what books have gotten awards for 2020...

So, for todays Sunday Salon let's talk about a few "Oscar" winning books... (oh, and BTW, I think I would love to read the book that the movie Parasite was based on, but there is no book. BUT in June sometime, there is suppose to be a graphic novel published using the storyboards that Bong Joon Hon used to make the movie! I think that might be an interesting read.)

One of the divisions of the American Library Association is RUSA. The RUSA, The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association serves all types of libraries in reference, user services, adult readers advisory and collection development as well as resource sharing, genealogy and archives, business reference and reference technology." The RUSA also creates an annual best-of list comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers, and called The Reading List. Those 8 genres are Adrenaline, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Relationship, Romance, and Science Fiction. Here are a few of the winners. You can find the list of all winners and runners up at  2020 RUSA Book and Media Awards.

Adrenaline Winner... The Passengers by John Marrs, published by Berkley and imprint of You’re riding in your self-driving car when suddenly the doors lock, the route changes and you have lost all control. Then, a mysterious voice tells you, “You are going to die.” Just as self-driving cars become the trusted, safer norm, eight people find themselves in this terrifying situation, including a faded TV star, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man. From cameras hidden in their cars, their panic is broadcast to millions of people around the world. But the public will show their true colors when they are asked, "Which of these people should we save?...And who should we kill first? Published by Berkley and imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Historical Fiction Winner... The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott, a Borzoi Book published by A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice--inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago. At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world--using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents. The Secrets We Kept combines a legendary literary love story--the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara--with a narrative about two women empowered to lead lives of extraordinary intrigue and risk. Published by 
Alfred A. Knopf.

Science Fiction Winner... Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia : In Jazz Age Mexico Cassiopeia’s dull life takes an adventurous and life-changing turn when she must help a Mayan death god vanquish his brother and regain his throne in the underworld.  Published by Del Rey an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Horror Winner... “The Twisted Ones” by T. KingfisherBrimming with spookiness, paranoia, and a single-minded bloodhound, this devilishly wicked tale of folkloric horror set in the woods of North Carolina is inspired by Arthur Machen’s “The White People.” Published by Saga Press an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Mystery Winner... The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair: In post-World War II London, Iris Sparks (perhaps a wartime spy) and Gwendolyn Bainbridge (a society widow) have teamed up to matchmake singles with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. When one client is accused of murdering another, Iris and Gwendolyn decide the police have the wrong man and start investigating. Published by Minotaur Books.

Another Book Award by RUSA is The Sophie Brody Medal is given to encourage, recognize and commend outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. Works for adults published in the United States in the preceding year are eligible for the award. Another award I had never heard of, but the winner and an Honorable Mention book both sound like interesting reads...

Winner of The Sophie Brody Medal... The Nightingale’s Sonata: The Musical Odyssey of Lea Luboshutz by Thomas Wolf, published by Pegasus Books:
This meticulously researched and highly readable biography/family memoir spans continents and generations in telling the story of a once-celebrated violinist whose life was a microcosm for the experiences of many Jewish immigrants from the Pale of Settlement to America. Written by the subject’s grandson, it illuminates the life of a remarkable Jewish woman while weaving together such disparate elements as the Russian Revolution, fear of pogroms, immigrant life, and twentieth-century women’s issues, with lovely music as the backdrop.

Honorable mention goes to The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman, published by Simon & Schuster:
In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked. Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

Let's not Leave Out the Kids...

2020 Newbery Medal Winner is awarded to the book with the most outstanding contribution to children's literature. This years winner is New Kid written by Jerry Craft, and Hey, it's a graphic novel! The book is illustrated by the author. New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft. Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds―and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself. Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. 

Other Awards announced by the ALA, American Library Association... 

Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: The Undefeated written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults... Dig written by A.S. King. The book is published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

Will You Read a Book Because it Won an Award?

Last week's Sunday Salon was about reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, a book about a Mexican family fleeing Mexico and heading for the border. So much controversy over it because Jeanine is not a Mexican writing this story, which also drove the conversation of inequality of money paid to minority writers after the money Jeanine received for American Dirt was revealed. The controversy still continues and has escalated to threats of violence towards Myriam Gurba and the person who originally wrote a scathing review of the book. All of Jeanine's book tours dates have been canceled and town halls are planned now to fascilitate an open discussion about the book. 

As a result of all this controversy, there have been countless alternative recommendations that are suppose to be more "authentic". One of those books recommended was Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. It is a true story based on the authors life. I started reading it this week and am finding it a well written book that pulls you in from the beginning. I highlighted the book this past week in Memoir Monday. Follow the link for Memoir Monday to read more about that book.

That's about it from cold but sunny South Carolina! What interesting books have you found this week? Share them here because I just love to hear about great books! And in meantime, have a great week!

Happy Reading... Suzanne


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'm fascinated with good movies. Now you have added Parasite to my list of movies to try to see. It sounds like a movie I'd like to see and talk about. I've been hearing a lot about 1917. I will look for both of these.

The Oscars of books! Yes! The ALA is definitely the group to choose these. I wish ALA would share more literary fiction, but often that comes across as elitist. I've read most of the children's books. I'm a huge fan of New Kid and The Undefeated. Everyone should read The Undefeated. The words. The art. Beautiful.

I'm still thinking about American Dirt. I'm not sure what I should do. Very confused.

You've given me a lot to think about from this post.

Harvee said...

Going to discuss American Dirt the idea, with book club. Cultural appropriation, etc. But didn't Pearl Buck write lots of novels about China and the Chinese?

Athira said...

I actually do like reading award winners, mostly because I do have good success with them but also to see if I will like them as much. Thanks for sharing Children of the Land - it sounds very good.

Bryan said...

I"m a week behind in my blog commenting -- obviously, but here I am now. :) I checked out Parasite from the library but didn't get to it...yet. I just wasn't in the mood for dark satire. I don't mind subtitles, though.

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