Articles on this Page
- 01/12/15--12:40: _Beginning Knitting:...
- 01/12/15--13:00: _Best of 2014
- 01/13/15--10:45: _Five Must-Read LGBT...
- 01/13/15--13:15: _How Do You Spot A R...
- 01/14/15--06:00: _7 Science Fiction A...
- 01/14/15--07:59: _The Dignity of War:...
- 01/15/15--06:58: _Crime and No Punish...
- 01/19/15--08:04: _A Chance Affair—A L...
- 01/20/15--06:37: _Make Good Cooking G...
- 01/22/15--06:00: _The Best Spots to R...
- 01/26/15--07:09: _Twelve Books That S...
- 01/26/15--07:52: _Six Books to Take Y...
- 01/27/15--03:00: _International Holoc...
- 01/28/15--03:00: _Five Things to Know...
- 01/28/15--06:00: _Eight Science Ficti...
- 01/28/15--11:56: _Super Bowl Menus fo...
- 01/28/15--12:00: _How Five Writers Su...
- 01/28/15--14:48: _Five Books About Bo...
- 01/29/15--13:34: _Read-A-Likes for Be...
- 02/01/15--05:00: _Book Club Guide and...
- 01/12/15--12:40: Beginning Knitting: Dealing with UFOs (Unfinished Objects)
- 01/12/15--13:00: Best of 2014
- 01/13/15--10:45: Five Must-Read LGBT Coming of Age Books
- 01/13/15--13:15: How Do You Spot A Regency Romance?
- 01/14/15--06:00: 7 Science Fiction Authors Who’ve Been Arrested
- 01/14/15--07:59: The Dignity of War: Sloan Wilson’s Novels on Military Life
- 01/15/15--06:58: Crime and No Punishment in Prohibition-Era New York
- 01/19/15--08:04: A Chance Affair—A Life in Literature
- 01/20/15--06:37: Make Good Cooking Great with Jacques Pépin
- 01/22/15--06:00: The Best Spots to Read a Book in Brooklyn
- 01/26/15--07:09: Twelve Books That Show Destiny Who’s Really In Charge
- 01/26/15--07:52: Six Books to Take You Inside Space Travel
- 01/27/15--03:00: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
- 01/28/15--03:00: Five Things to Know About the Challenger Disaster
- 01/28/15--06:00: Eight Science Fiction Books that Crush Gender Stereotypes
- 01/28/15--11:56: Super Bowl Menus for Every Party Style
- 01/28/15--12:00: How Five Writers Survived Turbulent Childhoods
- 01/28/15--14:48: Five Books About Books About Books (And That’s Not a Typo)
- 01/29/15--13:34: Read-A-Likes for Bestselling Children's Books
- 02/01/15--05:00: Book Club Guide and Recommendations Series: February Sale
When your New Year’s resolution involves knitting or crafting, you know what must come next: A frank discussion of your languishing unfinished projects. If you are like me, you probably have shapeless unfinished objects, or UFOs, lurking in the crannies and nooks of your home, moaning like zombies, calling from closets and shouting from shopping bags: “Finish me!” For example: the “halfghan” you have stuffed in the back of the closet, or the sleeveless sweater moldering on the shelf.
Well, the day of reckoning has come. It’s time to frog it or finish it. Let’s not go into 2015 with this kind of emotional baggage dragging us back. In fact, if we establish a Knitting Hygiene Pact (KHP?), we could vow that we will evaluate our portfolios on a yearly basis. Could this lead anywhere but up?
Let’s line up our projects from January 1 to March 15, 2015, and decide what to finish, what to frog.
Exhibit A: An intricate cable sweater in a size I may never see again. It was the procrastination on this very sweater that led me to write a book proposal—one that was accepted and became the reference book, Knitspeak. Instead of finishing the poor old relic, maybe I should frame the fragment as if it were an archeological find or the bone of a saint. Or I could take pictures of it and then mercilessly frog it. What say you?
Exhibit B: The completed hoodie that needs Extension Surgery to lengthen the bottom. Proposal: If no 3” extension materializes by March 15, perhaps it could go to someone it would fit.
Exhibit C: The halfghan (credit to my father for teasing me with this term). This project must be completed by the time the intended recipient finishes college, so the decision is easy: one more pattern repeat and I’m in the home stretch. Verdict: Keep going.
Just think of how much better we’ll feel come the Ides of March when we have a clean knitting slate. Together we can clear our closets of the UFOs lurking in the shadows. Are you with me? Send a picture of the item in question with your thoughts: finish or frog?
Andrea Price is the author ofKnitspeak(on sale for just $5.99 in celebration of new knitters in 2015)
Today is Edmund White's birthday, and last month marked the ebook debut of Edmund White’s classic A Boy’s Own Story. To celebrate this release, we’re recommending five can’t miss LGBT coming of age books for you to add to your New Year's resolution reading list.
Of course it’s on the list. The novel was just released as an ebook, and it’s the Grandaddy of them all. Originally published in 1982, it was one of the first books to frankly portray homosexuality in teens.
Our unnamed narrator struggles with his emerging sexuality. Embarrassed by his desire for male affection in the heternormative and homophobic 1950s, he retreats into his own imagination and a purely physical relationship with his young neighbor.
The most interesting part? The novel is a largely autobiographical account of White’s own childhood and initial struggle to embrace his identity.
2. Maurice by E. M. Forster
Though written in 1914, the book wasn’t published till 1971. Like A Boy’s Own Story, it was quite ahead of its time. It describes the life of a normal young man named Maurice who happens to be homosexual. It follows his life from teenage- to adulthood as he struggles to find happiness in a time when loving men is far from accepted.
3. Fun Home by Allison Bechdel
This graphic novel memoir covers Bechdel’s life from childhood through college as she navigates life as a lesbian with a gay, but closeted father.
4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This book is one of the newer additions to this genre, but it already boasts a host of awards and a big fan following.
Aristotle(Ari) and Dante are both loners, but they meet and discover they have a lot in common. As they grow closer, Ari struggles with his strong feelings for Dante and the realization that he might want to be more than friends.
5. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Another LGBT classic published in the same era as A Boy’s Own Story:
Jeannette is adopted and raised by her fundamentalist mother for the purpose of being a missionary. As she grows however, she begins to have some differences of opinion with her mother’s church. After she falls for recent convert Melanie, they begin an affair. Though Jeannette is able to reconcile loving both God and Melanie, her church is less understanding.
Derived from the work of Jane Austen, Regency Romances are a subgenre of romance novels, set in the time period of the British Regency during the early 19th century. Regencies are a distinct genre with their own stylistic conventions influenced by works like Pride and Prejudice,Emma and other works of fiction known as novels of manners. Want to know how to spot a Regency Romance? Here’s our checklist:
Historical accuracy and detail are a must. From dress to manners to daily activities—all must be accurate.
Social season activities run rampant. Typical events that occur in a Regency Romances include carriage rides, morning calls, operas, fancy dinners and lavish balls.
Marriages of convenience are common. Even though these stories are romances, many of the women are placed in marriages based on benefits or are avoiding such pairings.
Differences in social class are extremely common. Picture the rich Mr. Darcy and the poor Elizabeth Bennett.
Outfits are essential. The dress of the time, both for men and women—ball gowns, dinner dresses, riding get-ups and suits—all mirrored wealth and status.
Common plotelements occur. Keep an eye out for mysteries and farces. Maybe false engagements. There might be some mistaken identity.
For more Regency Romances check outthe immensely talented Elizabeth Mansfield, known for her wide variety of Regencies!
The worlds of science fiction can be pretty unruly (we’ve even written a post about drug use in science fiction books)—but what about the real trouble science fiction authors have gotten themselves into over the years? Here’s to some of the most famous science fiction writers and publishers who spent more time than they would like with the police—and no, these writers were not there to sign autographs.
Hugo Gernsback (Investigated 1905)
Hugo Gernsback was one of the founders of science fiction. (This is the man that the Hugo Award is named after.) He was also once investigated by the police for fraud—for selling inexpensive radios. Gernsback was a radio pioneer who sold his radios so cheaply that people began to think that he must be a fraud and complained to the police. Eventually, however, Gernsback was proven innocent.
Ray Bradbury (Arrested 1943)
Ray Bradbury is perhaps best known for his socially critical science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451. But in 1943, before Bradbury wrote this novel about burning books, he was instead burning ties with the U.S. military by getting arrested for not registering for the draft. What’s more, Bradbury, an actively dissident voice against some U.S. policies, was investigated by the FBI throughout the 1960s for possible Communist ties—though nothing came of those investigations.
Cleve Cartmill (Investigated 1944)
It began when author Cleve Cartmill wrote a science fiction short story called “Deadline” for the science fiction magazine Astounding… and ended with a Counter-Intelligence Corps investigation of both the editor and writers of this science fiction magazine. What brought on all this hubbub? Cartmill’s “Deadline” happened to give very accurate instructions on how to make an atomic bomb—instructions that seemed suspiciously too accurate to investigators considering that the atomic bomb was still being secretly tested when the story was published! Luckily for Cartmill, however, he was soon found innocent of leaking classified information once it was realized that Cartmill and his editor truly had thought up their idea for an atomic bomb all on their own.
Philip Wylie (Arrested 1945)
Cleve Cartmill was not the only author who got mixed up in atomic bomb paranoia. For instance, award-winning author Philip Wylie (whose novel The Gladiator was an inspiration for the character of Superman) was temporarily put under house arrest for his book The Paradise Crater. Wylie’s book told of an apocalyptic world where an atomic bomb explosion causes a tidal wave that wipes out Japan. Incredibly, the book was written over a year before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and, well as one can see, the government can be suspicious of authors who accidentally manage to predict the future.
L. Ron Hubbard (Arrested 1948)
L. Ron Hubbard is known for something a little bigger than his science fiction (cough, Scientology, cough), but in fact he did write some well-regarded science fiction for pulp magazines. He also managed to get himself arrested in 1948: for attempting to pass a fraudulent $500.00 check.
Isaac Asimov (Investigated 1944 and 1960)
From “I, Robot” to The Foundation series, Isaac Asimov is a science fiction visionary. Unfortunately for Asimov, however, the U.S. government was a big reader of his as he was involved in not just one, but two government investigations. Isaac Asimov, along with famous science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, were also investigated during the Cleve Cartmill atomic bomb fiasco since he was a close friend of Cartmill’s and had worked with atomic copper. Also, like Ray Bradbury, Asimov was investigated in the 1960s by the FBI for possible Communist ties. Asimov was found to be innocent in both investigations.
Harlan Ellison (Arrested 1960)But look, I’m 79 and one of the Great Assholes of the World. I admit to it”? Well, one time Ellison wanted to write a book about juvenile delinquency and so, to really immerse himself in the culture, he literally joined a gang. From that experience, along with an intimate knowledge of gang culture, Ellison picked up a few souvenirs: a six-inch stiletto, brass knuckles, and a .22 revolver. A neighbor called in the police on Ellison’s collection and Ellison ended up spending a day in jail, before being released on bail.
As they always say: Write about what you know. Sloan Wilson, author of the classic The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, turned this into a science.
Though his most famous work portrays his experiences learning conformity and hypocrisy in the post-war workplace, Wilson also published three novels about his time spent in World War II.
Military service brought “a certain sense of dignity” often lost in civilian life of suits and suburbia.Ice Brothers, based on Wilson’s service in the Greenland Patrol, is dedicated to his fellow veterans of the patrol:
“Forgotten now and little honored then, but still
They’ll never have to wonder if they’re men.”
Wilson was an executive officer and later commanded a navy trawler as the US Coast Guard watched the arctic for Nazi ships. His experiences with blizzards, icebergs, and searching for Nazi weather stations are fictionalized in Ice Brothers, about which Wilson claims, “I have presented Greenland exactly as I remember it.”
Pacific Interlude, Wilson draws on his time in the Pacific theater, where he commanded a supply boat and later a gas tanker. He dedicates the novel to his children and grandchildren, saying, “When I think that none of these people would have been born if my gas tanker had blown up, I am more grateful than ever for the great good luck of surviving World War II.”
During his time in the Pacific, Wilson received a combat star for his work during a Japanese attack, experiences that he describes in great detail in Pacific Interlude. The work is fiction, but Wilson writes that the novel “is the war as [he] saw it.”
Voyage to Somewhere, Wilson’s debut novel, narrates his war experiences near the end of the conflict. It deals with the absurdities of war, such as delivering a shipment of pineapples to Hawaii and the boredom that comes between bursts of action. The assortment of close calls is based on Wilson’s experience as a commander of a supply ship in the Pacific.
Wilson’s exciting turn in World War II represents the excitement, duty, and purpose lacking in the civilian life he returns to in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Get your taste of adventure with Ice Brothers, Pacific Interlude, and Voyage to Somewhere.
Everybody Goes to Jimmy's author Michael Mayo writes about prohibition in New York.
I’ve always been interested in the Prohibition period simply because it was so stylish and smart, “smart” in the period sense of the word—the cars, the clothes and the snappy patter, all of which owe more to Warner Bros. movies and Damon Runyon than reality.In 2005, I went to work on a non-fiction book, American Murder: Criminals, Crime and the Media
. The idea was to look at the most famous criminal cases and examine the difference between what really happened and how those crimes were treated in popular culture.
At the time, I was living in New Jersey, a short train ride from Manhattan, and I realized that many of the places where the major events of the Prohibition years occurred were still there. Yes, the city has changed, but some of the “old” New York still exists if you look closely. You can stay in the hotel where Arnold Rothstein was gunned down. The drug store where Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll was killed is now a pet store but the address is the same.
Visiting these sites made the people involved in the crimes seem more real, and I simply wanted to know more about them. For openers, I was surprised to realize how young these guys were. Meyer Lansky was a teenager when Prohibition began. Charlie Luciano, later “Lucky” Luciano, was 23. They started out as street kids and by the time Prohibition was repealed, they were wealthy men who controlled large criminal enterprises.
Meyer Lansky Lucky Luciano
We often see photographs of these two taken from sullen mug shots. These pictures came from their later years, Charlie (left) in 1949; Meyer (right) probably in the 1960s or 50s. Unlike many of their contemporaries, both men lived into their sixties and died of natural causes.
From the very beginning, men and women in the booze trade attracted a lot of attention, and they were very careful about how they were portrayed. They were happy, even eager to talk about their involvement with alcohol and gambling, but they seldom had much to say when it came to the drugs or prostitution,in which many of them traded, not to mention the raw violence that was part of it all.
They made themselves out to be the good guys, and there were plenty of writers and broadcasters who were happy to help them. The mass media—national magazines, radio, newsreels, motion pictures—were new then, and even more established and responsible newspapers were interested in building circulation through sensational stories. Simply setting out facts didn’t cut any ice, and it didn’t work for me, either. I wanted the freedom that fiction allows to tell my version of those days. The approach also gave me the excuse to do more research on the places and people who made those days so “smart.”
That’s what I’m going to write about in this blog.Coming up in our Prohibition New York series: Arnold Rothstein, who brought Meyer and Charlie into the business, photographer Berenice Abbott, the “forgotten” gangster Longy Zwillman, painter Reginald Marsh, legendary madam Polly Adler, and the famous Chelsea Hotel.
Michael Mayo is the author of the Jimmy Quinn mysteries set in Prohibition-era New York. His second book in the series, Everybody Goes to Jimmy’s, was released this month. He has also written several books about film.
Most of us don’t have the courage to visit our heroes (Though perhaps even more of us just don’t know where they live…) But in the summer of 1949, young writer Joan Williams did just that.
She had recently read William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and was shocked by its contents, so she and a few friends decided to pay him a visit.
This chance meeting with Faulkner led to an unlikely five-year relationship that allowed Williams to learn from the best. And she was the only one—the only author ever to have been mentored by Faulkner.
Hundreds of letters passed between them as they swapped thoughts on writing and life as a writer. During this interlude, Williams published her the story “The Morning and the Evening” which would later turn into her first novel.
Despite this emotional setback, Williams was inspired to new heights.The Morning and the Evening received positive reviews from greats such as William Styron and Robert Penn Warren and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also received a rather passive aggressive blurb from Faulkner.
Her second novel, Old Powder Man continued to garner praise for Williams, this time from Joyce Carol Oates and Doris Betts.
Eventually, she came back to the affair and the man who had mentored and loved her so early in her career. Though fictionalized, her novel The Wintering is based on her famed affair with the literary giant, detailing the familiar story of a young woman swept up in a love affair with an older writer.
Open Road Media is proud to present both this novel and all of William’s acclaimed literature. Explore the rest of her work here.
The month of January guarantees a long list of promises to live better and eat healthier. Whether that means incorporating more salads into the routine, “souping” up your menu, or focusing on lean meats and power grains, diet changes are a tried and true method of kick-starting the New Year. But when you make the most of every meal, we believe cooking can be both healthy and satisfying! This year, hone your skills and master the fundamentals that make good cooking great.
Maneuver with Confidence and Precision
Before you can make your meal sing, you need to learn the ins and outs of using your instruments. Save yourself some time—and save your fingers some grief—by mastering these basic techniques.
1. Holding Your Knife to Chop Vegetables
“Handling your knife properly is your first concern. Hold the item to be cut with fingertips tucked under, so the blade ‘rests’ and slides directly against the middle section of your fingers or against your index finger, if it is more comfortable. The knife follows, in fact, ‘glued’ to the fingers and slides up and down the fingers at the same rate all the time. The speed at which the fingers move back determines the thickness of the slices.”
2. Gently Folding Ingredients for Airy Batters
“Use a wooden or rubber spatula, or even a metal one, and slide it gently on top of the mixture. Then, cutting side down, go through the mixture and straighten out the spatula underneath it.”
Make Egg-cellent Meals
Eggs hold the coveted position of simultaneously being the simplest and most daunting ingredient for the average cook. Bobby Flay has been known to task his interviewees with making a flawless omelet—the test of a true culinary master. And while scrambled eggs make for an unquestionably simple-but-delicious morning meal, the perfect poached egg is hard to beat. The trick is being able to do either at a moment’s notice. Because really, what burger hasn’t benefitted from a fried egg on top?
1. Poaching Eggs
“Pour 3 quarts of water and ¾ cup white vinegar into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; then, reduce to a simmer. Break one egg at a time, open it with both thumbs and let it slide into the water. Drop your eggs at the simmer so that they don’t stick to the bottom.
As soon as all the eggs are in the water, drag a large slotted spoon across the surface of the water to move the eggs about a bit and keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Large eggs take approximately 4 minutes to cook. Check the eggs by lifting them, one at a time. The whites should be set, but the yolks soft to the touch. As soon as an egg is cooked, transfer it to a bowl of iced water.
Lift each egg from the water and trim off the hanging pieces. To use hot, place in a strainer, lower into boiling water for approximately 1 minute, drain, and serve immediately.”
2. Flipping an Omelet
“Place the butter in a non-stick skillet and melt over high heat. Swirl the butter in the pan and, when foaming, add the eggs. Holding the fork flat, stir the eggs as fast as you can while shaking the pan with your other hand. Continue shaking and stirring without stopping so the eggs coagulate uniformly.
Incline your pan forward so most of the eggs gather toward the far end of the pan as they set. Now stop stirring while the eggs are still moist in the center.
Using your fork, bring the near lip over toward the center of the omelet.
Press the fold into place. Note: this motion should create a roundish edge.
Run your fork between the edge of the pan and the far lip of the omelet to loosen it. Using the palm of your hand, tap the handle of the pan gently to shake the omelet and make it lift onto itself, so the far lip rises above the edge of the pan.
Fold the far lip back toward the center of the omelet, meeting the other lip. Press with the flat of the fork to make sure the omelet comes to a point at each end. Then, invert the omelet onto the plate and serve immediately.”
Bulk up more fundamental kitchen skills and take your cooking to the next level with Jacques Pépin’s Complete Techniques,available now for $1.99.
Think you might like Slow Motion Riot? Then give it a go in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Find a spot beneath the park’s sprawling trees or awe-inspiring architecture, and get lost in a world of high crime and dark characters.
Give Red Hook a read in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Its grassy knolls provide perfect seating under a jaw-dropping view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
While not necessarily dark, The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is fantastic. Grab Ellin’s book and head over to Washington Ave, where the bright, beautiful Botanic Gardens will perfectly juxtapose the dark, twisted tone of The Dark Fantastic.
Looking for a good spot to read The Specialists? Why not check out Coney Island? Ditch subway carts in favor of sandy shores, and dig in to a gritty Brooklyn novel in the city’s most famous beach.
Well, of course Little Odessa is a book best read in “Little Odessa” itself - aka Brighton Beach. Grab some Russian cuisine, find a spot on a beach blanket and get lost in Little Odessa.
Find a spot on the Brooklyn Heights’ Promenade and give Sanders’ First Deadly Sins a read while taking in a breathtaking view of the Manhattan Skyline. Just try not to get too distracted by the glow of the city lights and the sweet sounds of the Hudson.
Although not technically Brooklyn, The Staten Island Ferry is a great place to read in transit. Hop on a free ferry and ride over the Hudson while sinking your teeth into Palmer’s Staten Island-based mystery.
Fort Greene Park is a scenic spot for reading and relaxing in Brooklyn. Nestled deeper in the borough and farther from the Hudson, Fort Greene Park offers benches for reading as well as incredibly built monuments for gawking at.
Havemeyer Park isn’t your typical green, grassy park, but it is situated right by the Williamsburg Bridge and reflects Williamsburg’s funky, eclectic spirit - making it the perfect place to settle down and read Solomita’s Williamsburg-based crime novel.
Though its interior is comprised of fine art and rich history, the exterior of The Brooklyn Museum is a beautiful spot to sit and read. Find a seat on one of the grassy steps that lead to the museum’s entrance and make sure to take a trip inside the museum, too (once you finish your book, of course).
There’s discovering your destiny—and then there’s grabbing destiny by the shirt, punching it in the nose, and making it say sorry for messing with your life. From memoirs to the paranormal, here are awesome books about men and women who let destiny know who’s really in charge.
Imagine destiny taking your lunch money—and then took your home, your career, and your little Chihuahua dog. That’s probably how female pilot Beryl Markham felt when Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean before her. So what did Markham do about? She decided to become the first woman to fly the Atlantic anyway—in reverse, that is, from Africa to North America—and went on to become famous in her own right in West with the Night.
Robyn Davidson wanted to do something with her life. So she did. 1,700 miles of “did,” to be exact. Tracks, now a major motion picture, is the story of Robyn and her epic walk through the country of Australia that changed her life.
You know destiny’s being obnoxious when you have a heart attack and post surgery complications, and then are placed in the very same hospital unit where your late husband died. But never bet against Martha Weinman Lear in Echoes of Heartsounds.
There’s nothing like a nuclear apocalypse to let you know that you’ve failed miserably at saving the world. But that can’t stop ace pilot Hawk Hunter from fighting for the little bit of the world that’s left in Wingman by Mack Maloney.
You would know humanity’s hit a low point if earth’s temperature is always below zero. And you know destiny has a cruel sense of humor if the only way for humanity to survive is to literally go even lower: by living underground and resorting to feudalism. But one subterranean samurai, Ronin, has had enough and he is going up—and taking the fate of humanity with him in The Sunset Warriorby Eric Van Lustbader.
In Don Pendleton’s War Against the Mafia, Mack Bolan didn’t just survive the war in Vietnam—he got 95 kills. And so, when Mack finally makes it home only to discover that his father went mad, killed his family, and then committed suicide, all because of pressure from a Mafia gang, Mack doesn’t just survive—he gets revenge.
When your family survives on landfill scraps, on a dried-up lake, on a land where a civilization once failed, you learn that it’s the little things in life that count: and in Blood Red Road by Moira Young,Saba holds her twin brother Lugh dearest of all. But when her brother is kidnapped, Saba leaves all she’s ever known to go find him—and those kidnappers had better watch their backs.
All Alenna did was fail a test. Of course, as luck would have it, it was kind of an important test. And she might have failed because the test indicated she had a high capacity to be violent, which is probably true given that her parents were taken away by police when she was little. But of course, the same government that took away her parents gave her the test, and now they are putting her to die on an island of would-be criminals. The correct answer: life is unfair. But Alenna is not looking for correct answers anymore: she’s determined to escape the prison, and she’ll cheat if she has to in The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse.
Some days are grey, dreary days. But in The Giver by Lois Lowry, every day is like that for Jonas and he’s tired of it. He’s ready to unleash light into the dark secrets of his supposedly utopian world, and see things for what they really are—and he’s not afraid to find out the truth.
The Groupby Mary McCarthy is the story of the lives of a close group of college friends, all women, and what happens to them in the years following college. It is a story about how they are brought together once more, not by destiny, but by the powerful choices that each woman makes—choices that greatly affect the other members of the group, both for better and for worse.
Ever heard of Lord Byron? Oscar Wilde? Amelia Earhart? James Joyce? You’ve probably heard of all of them before. But how about Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter? Oscar Wilde’s niece? Amelia Earhart’s rival? James Joyce’s daughter? All all these characters and more get a chance to break out from the destiny of their more famous counterparts in these fact-based, imaginative short stories from author Megan Mayhew Bergman in Almost Famous Women.
Unlike the other characters on this list, Cheryl Glickman in The First Bad Man by Miranda July is an eager, incredibly committed believer in destiny who blindly believes in love at first sight, among other things. But once 21-year old Clee comes into her life, Cheryl is forced to find her un-destiny and truly find herself.
January 27 marks the anniversary of the Apollo 1 disaster that killed three astronauts in a test run in 1967. The Apollo anniversary is followed one day later by the anniversary of the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Despite these tragedies, space exploration and travel has exceeded all expectations in the past few decades. Here are six books to see how far space exploration has come and how far we still have to go:
Challenger: An American Tragedy
On January 28, 1986, all eyes were on the Challenger space shuttle as it launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The nation watched in shock as the space shuttle became engulfed in flames only 73 seconds after launching. Hugh Harris, “the voice of launch control,” reflects on the tragedy of the Challenger with an insider’s view.
Two thousand miles from earth and hours away from the third lunar landing in history, Apollo 13 suffered an explosion that badly damaged the spacecraft. Faced with freezing temperatures, ill crewmembers, and compromised engines, the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were almost certainly doomed. Miraculously, the astronauts and ground crew were able to safely land the ship back on earth. Thirteen brings to life the harrowing and shocking story behind the Apollo 13 mission.
Moon Shot is the revised edition of the New York Times–bestselling account of NASA landing 12 men on the moon. In 1957, after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, NASA burst into action, putting together a crew of test pilots to be sent to the moon. Told by the men who lived it, Moon Shot chronicles the missions from the first flight of Alan Shepard to 12 men victoriously walking on the moon.
The Phoenix Mars mission was the first man-made probe ever sent to Mars. Phoenix discovered a frozen ocean deep beneath the north pole of Mars, sparking NASA’s creation of the Curiosity rover. Andrew Kessler spent the summer of 2008 in NASA’s mission control during the Phoenix mission. His story is a fascinating and humorous look inside the world of NASA.
Genius is an illuminating portrayal of renowned physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project where he was part of the start of the Atomic Age. Feynman later contributed to finding what went wrong with the Challenger mission. Genius shows the life and mind of one of the greatest physicists of the modern day.
Encounter with Tiber
In this novel by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, engineering student Chris Terence dreams of the day space exploration will return to the forefront of scientific focus. After years of hoping, Chris finally has the opportunity to walk on the Moon. When he discovers evidence of the Tiber alien civilization that visited Earth’s satellite thousands of years earlier, Chris and his son embark on a journey to discover the truth about the universe.
January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. The UN urges member states to honor and reflect on the lives lost to the horrors of the Holocaust and to develop educational programs to prevent future genocide.
In observance of this important day, we have collected moving and inspiring works on the subject:
When Hilter came to power in 1933, approximately one hundred sixty thousand Jews were living in Berlin. By the end of the war, there were only one thousand left. Leonard Gross’s brings to life the shocking, true stories of twelve of the brave Jewish men and women who spent the final years of WWII hiding in Berlin.
In 1943, 1,000 European refugees set out on a journey for asylum in America. With the backing of the United States government, Ruth Gruber was tasked with escorting the refugees across the Atlantic to safety. Gruber recorded the stories of these refugees and their journey to freedom.
Anna Elisabeth Rosmus began digging into the past of her Bavarian hometown of Passau to uncover its role in World War II. What she found was an appalling involvement of the citizens of Passau in the imprisonment, forced labor, and death of many Jews and Eastern Europeans. Rosmus uncovers the tragic and suppressed past of the city.
The War Against the Jews
In her controversial groundbreaking work The War Against the Jews, Lucy S. Dawidowicz argues that genocide was as central a goal for the Nazis as conquering Europe was. She examines the full history of Hitler’s “Final Solution” and suggests a different look at the ultimate goal of Hitler’s regime.
William Styron’s stunning novel based in Brooklyn in the wake of World War II has become a true classic. The lives of Stingo the aspiring novelist, Nathan the Jewish neighbor, and Sophie the Auschwitz survivor become intertwined revealing painful secrets and the true depth of human connection.
The Red Magician
Kicsi dreams of adventure and travel far from her small European village, but when the local rabbi curses her school for teaching lessons in Hebrew, Kicsi’s hopes are dampened. When a magician’s assistant arrives telling stories of foreign lands and warns of Nazi threat, Kicsi must learn that the greatest magic trick of all is survival.
For more information on Holocaust Remembrance Day, please visit: http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/
On the morning of January 28, 1986, thousands of people had their eyes on television screens awaiting the launch of the Challenger space shuttle. Just 73 seconds after liftoff, the spacecraft disintegrated, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The Challenger disaster has impacted the way space travel is conducted.
1. Human error AND nature both played a role in the disaster.
The morning of January 28 was colder than anticipated with temperatures dipping below freezing. The mission had already been pushed back a number of days due to unpredictable weather. Ignoring the warning from engineers that the shuttle had not been approved to launch in such low temperatures, the Challenger launched anyway.
2. Richard Feynman was able to demonstrate the problem NASA had failed to address with a glass of water.
One of the most well-known members of the Rogers Commission was physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman demonstrated on television how the O-rings had caused seal failures due to the cold temperatures by simply submerging a sample of the material in ice water. Feynman threatened to have his name removed from NASA’s report unless his observations were added.
3. Thiokol, the contractor that produced the motors, was aware of the O-Ring malfunction.
The engineers were wary, knowing the cold temperatures could cause the O-Rings to not seal properly. The dangerous power of “groupthink” and pressure from NASA led to the launch of the Challenger despite the engineers’ warnings. Unfortunately, the engineers were correct and the O-Rings failed, causing the rocket to disintegrate.
4. The Challenger launch would have been the first time an average American citizen was sent to space.
Christa McAuliffe won a spot through the NASA Teachers in Space program. She was planning to give lessons to classes of school children across the country from space. After the Challenger disaster, plans to send civilians to space were halted for two decades. Barbara Morgan, McAuliffe’s backup was aboard the Endeavor space mission in 2007.
5. The disaster had a lasting effect on future missions.
After the Challenger disaster, NASA halted the shuttle program for 32 months. NASA redesigned the space shuttle’s boosters and created the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance in hopes of preventing future oversights and error.
Ready to hear an insider's account of the Challenger disaster? It was Hugh Harris "the voice of launch control" whom audiences heard counting down to lift off. Read his story in The Challenger: An American Tragedy.
Science fiction and fantasy books are all about widening horizons and exploring new worlds. But sometimes, in that rush to explore, one of the biggest worlds of them all is overlooked: our own sense of self. Here are some science fiction and fantasy books that explore not just the stars outside, but internal gender identity.
The Gender-Bender: Sex Change
All Larque Harootuninan’s problems are inside her head—the bigger problem, however, is that they don’t stay there. Larque has an ability that she can’t control: she turns her thoughts into real life manifestations. Soon, Larque discovers that only when she changes herself into a gay man is she finally able to come to grasp with who she is.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Gender-Bender: Androgynous Humans
Genly Ai is sent to the planet Winter to request that they join the conglomerate of worlds called the Ekumen. But Winter is a planet unlike any Genly has ever seen, where the people are neuter most of the lives, and can interchangeably become male or female, but only at specific times. And Genly must learn to trust them if he wants to survive.
Every Day by David Levithan
The Gender-Bender: Transgender Spirit
A lives just like everyone else—but no one else lives like A. Each day, A unwillingly enters the body of another person—whether a man or woman, drug-addict or priest—and becomes them for the day. But A doesn’t mind. That is, until the day he meets Rhiannon, a person he wants to spend the rest of his life with—if only she can return the love for someone who changes every day.
The Gender-Bender: Multiple Gender Identities in One Person
Jack is frightened: he’s woken up in a hotel room without his memory and already he’s killed two men. But worse, he has memories of other people inside him: a cheating wife, a priest, a vicious mob man, a timid child, and many more. They are memories that he can’t turn off, memories that threaten to take over who he is—that is if he can ever understand who “he” really is.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Gender-Bender: Gender Neutral Spaceship-Human
Breq comes from a world where she is both human and also part of a larger collective AI that ran the spaceship Justice of Toren. Breq doesn’t even think in terms of gender for herself or anyone else. She calls everyone “she” merely for the sake of convenience. But what she is thinking about is answers to who she was—and who she needs to kill.
Mission Child by Maureen McHugh
The Gender-Bender: Cross-dressing
Janna is a refugee from a once lost colony of Earth. But soon, Janna (a woman) disguises herself as Jan (a man) in order to find work. Lost and unsure in this new world she has entered, Janna becomes unsure of who she really wants to be: Janna, or Jan?
The Gender-Bender: Pregnant Men
Humans and insect-like aliens called the Tlic live together in this future. But Tlic do more than just live with humans: they impregnate human males, placing their eggs inside them to grow their Tlic offspring in a process the human males don’t always survive. It is a process that the young boy Gan might learn more about than he ever wanted to know.
Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
The Gender-Bender: Multiple Gender Identities in One Person
Andrew Gage has never been the same since his father murdered for him. Andrew’s soul died in the aftermath, and was split into hundreds of derived personalities from Aunt Sam the artist to Adam the teenager that all live inside Andrew Gage’s head. When Andrew Gage meets Penny Driver, another person full of multiple souls, their many souls decide to help one another—and discover a wholeness they no longer have.
First Down Diet
If your waistline is still recovering from the holidays, the Super Bowl can be a tempting day to break your diet. Try these twists on unhealthy snacks. They cut down on fat while helping keep up the energy you need to cheer.
Icing the Chef
Chill out! Take it easy and set out treats at room temperature to let your guests graze. These sweet and spicy offerings are easy to toss onto the coffee table so you can focus on the game.
Karen Edwards's Warm Potato Salad with String Bean from Home Cookingby Laurie Colwin
Are you the host with the most? Love elevating comfort cuisine to the next level? Prefer Barefoot Contessa to Betty Crocker? These recipes are simple, yet have foodie cred in spades.
In many ways, our experiences during childhood come to shape the rest of our lives, influencing the people we become and the way we see the world. Those of us who experienced difficult childhoods can draw strength from the shared experience detailed in a memoir, and those of us who did not are able to feel empathy and gain insight into the lives of others.
The writers of these five memoirs survived tumultuous childhoods and came to the often-painful realization that their parents are more than just caretakers: they are flawed human beings.
After reading Heartland, you’ll have a better understanding of how Neil Cross was able to create the intensely psychological crime drama Luther. Neil’s stepfather Derek Cross showered him with the love and attention he craved, and introduced him to books, movies, and music that helped form his artistic tastes. But behind the attentive family man is a racist, adulterer, and con man who is much more complicated than he seems.
The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls’s 2005 memoir recounts a childhood spent in poverty and confusion with her idealistic and unconventional parents, moving from place to place like nomads before settling down in a West Virginia mining town. This astonishing memoir is permeated by the family’s intense love and loyalty, amidst massive dysfunction.
When Patricia Bosworth was growing up, the FBI kept a dossier on her father, Bartley Crum, lawyer to the blacklisted “Hollywood Ten.” Bosworth recounts a childhood with a father who was frequently absent, stubbornly principled, and heartbreakingly self-destructive.
Set in post-WWII Britain, Lorna Sage details a turbulent childhood with a depressive mother, a philandering, drunk grandfather, and a resentful grandmother. Sage brings to life the 1940s and 1950s as she escapes from her small village and struggles to find her place in a changing world.
What is a Bibliomystery?
Picture this: you’re sitting in a room reading a book. The character in the book that you’re reading is also reading a book. And the character in the book that that character is reading is also reading a book too!While that may seem like an odd (ok, maybe even insane) scenario to you, such moments of books within books (or even books within books within books) are not as uncommon as they may first appear. In fact, many books have followed this kind of Inception-style plot long before Inception was made into a movie—and perhaps no type of book uses this technique as prolifically, or as successfully, as the bibliomystery, “a mystery story set in the world of books.” Here are but a few interesting examples from some very interesting authors.
R. L. Stine
Check Out: The Sequel
Check Out: The Scroll
Check Out: S
Isn’t J. J. Abrams the guy who’s producing the new Star Wars movie? Yes, he’s the guy. He’s also the guy who once wrote a book with Doug Dorst that just happens to be a bibliomystery. The premise of S. is simple enough, two students trying to uncover the hidden secrets of a long dead writer. But what if you only know these two students from the notes they happened to write to each other in a book? And what if that book happened to be the book of the long dead writer whose secrets they are tying to uncover? And what if that book whose secrets they are trying to uncover is in fact the book that you yourself are reading, complete with handwritten notes between the two protaganists? Talk about books within books within books!
Joyce Carol Oates
Check Out: Mystery, Inc.
Joyce Carol Oates has been writing award-winning books for over 65 years from winning the National Book Award to being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In Mystery, Inc., Charles Brockden doesn’t just collect books—he collects bookstores. And he’s willing to commit murder to get them. So what if the title reminds you of the Mystery, Inc. van from Scooby Doo? Just be honored that Joyce Carol Oates thought to indulge you with a bibliomystery of her own. After all, she’ll probably just revolutionize the bibliomystery genre, make a bibliomystery classic that will be remembered aeons later, and win a few more awards while at it. You know, just the simple things that every writer does.
Carlos Ruis Zafón
Check Out: The Shadow of the Wind
To add a foreign flair, you can read a bibliomystery from the well-regarded Spanish author Carlos Luis Zafón’s. His book, The Shadow of the Wind, will take you through the streets of 1940s Barcelona. There you will find Daniel Sempere, a book dealer’s son, who’s had a pretty rough life—until he finds a book called—any guesses?—The Shadow of the Wind. But Daniel soon discovers that someone is secretly destroying all copies of his beloved book, and he is determined to find out why. This international bestselling book truly has it all: betrayal, love, murder, and, of course, lots of mystery.
Bonus!Check Out: These classics
From titles like The Book with the Iron Clasps, Dewey Death, and The Mystery of the Human Bookcase take a look at some of these zany older bibliomysteries (some over 150 years old!) that once kept the genre going.
Made your way through the bests sellers and looking for the next book? Here's a hand-picked selection of Read-A-Likes that will surely satisfy fans of these current New York Times® best sellers.
Best Picks for Book Club Discussions: Book to Film
Welcome to our series on book clubs! At the beginning of every month, we’ll present our top recommendations for your club, as well as tips on how to shape your discussion and fun extra stuff to keep the conversation going. Many of us here belong to book clubs, and Open Road even has its own employee reading group. We love nothing more than book talk. So tune in, and read on!
The 87th Academy Awards is on February 22nd this year. As we all predict who will take home the most coveted prizes in the movie industry, we thought we’d get in the spirit of the awards season and share our favorite books that have been turned into award-nominated films.
So read on, watch some clips, and then buy the ebooks—which are all on sale from $0.99 and up.
The Book: Winner of the 1980 National Book Award, Sophie’s Choice is William Styron’s classic novel of love, survival, and regret, set in Brooklyn in the wake of the Second World War. The novel centers on three characters: Stingo, a sexually frustrated aspiring novelist; Nathan, his charismatic but violent Jewish neighbor; and Sophie, an Auschwitz survivor who is Nathan’s lover. Their entanglement in one another’s lives will build to a stirring revelation of agonizing secrets that will change them forever.
The Film: Starring Meryl Streep as the eponymous Sophie, the movie achieved international acclaim upon its release in 1982. Streep won an Academy Award for her performance, and the term “Sophie’s Choice” is now a well-known term for a no-win decision. Watch a clip from the film here.
The Book: For Joanna and Ted Kramer, building a life in New York City is tough but full of joy thanks to their lovely little boy, Billy. Or so it seems, until one day Joanna walks out, unable to manage the burdens of family life and her own unfulfilled ambitions. Alone with Billy, Ted begins to navigate the challenges of single parenthood and forms a bond with his son that no one can break—except the courts. When Joanna suddenly resurfaces and decides she wants Billy back, Ted must fight for the right to hold on to everything he holds most dear.
The Film: Adapted in 1979, the film stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. The film received a whopping five academy awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor (Hoffman), and Best Supporting Actress (Streep). Watch a clip from the film here.
The Book: A wildly successful first novel made Grady Tripp a young star, and seven years later he still hasn’t grown up. He’s now a writing professor in Pittsburgh, plummeting through middle age, stuck with an unfinishable manuscript, an estranged wife, a pregnant girlfriend, and a talented but deeply disturbed student named James Leer. During one lost weekend at a writing festival with Leer and debauched editor Terry Crabtree, Tripp must finally confront the wreckage made of his past decisions.
The Film: Released in 2000, the film is filled with big Hollywood names, including Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, and Frances McDormand. This film also went on to win and Academy Award, but for a very different category. Bob Dylan won the award for Best Original Song, “Things Have Changed.” Check out the video for the song here, which features clips from the movie.
The Book: Marine Colonel Bull Meecham commands his home like a soldiers’ barracks. Cold and controlling but also loving, Bull has complicated relationships with each member of his family—in particular, his eldest son, Ben. Though he desperately seeks his father’s approval, Ben is determined to break out from the Colonel’s shadow. With guidance from teachers at his new school, he strives to find the courage to stand up to his father once and for all.
The Film: Released in 1979, the film did poorly at the box office but was critically well received. Roger Ebert stated, "Like almost all my favorite films, The Great Santini is about people more than it's about a story. It's a study of several characters, most unforgettably the Great Santini himself…There are moments so unpredictable and yet so natural they feel just like the spontaneity of life itself." Robert Duvall and Michael O’Keefe were both nominated for Academy Awards for their roles in the film. Watch a clip here.
The Book: Seventeen-year-old David Axelrod is consumed with his love for Jade Butterfield. So when Jade’s father exiles him from their home, David does the only thing he thinks is rational: He burns down their house. Sentenced to a psychiatric institution, David’s obsession metastasizes, and, upon his release, he sets out to win the Butterfields back by any means necessary.
The Film: Endless Love has the distinction of being made into a film twice. The first version, released in 1981 and starring Brooke Shields, was a moderate success at the box office but was panned by critics. It did receive an Academy Award nomination for the aptly titled song “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie. The film was adapted again in 2014, and was similarly panned by both Spencer and the critics. Watch a scene from the 1981 version here.
The Book: Former British consul Geoffrey Firmin lives alone with his demons in the shadow of two active volcanoes in South Central Mexico. Gripped by alcoholism, Geoffrey makes one last effort to salvage his crumbling life on the day that his ex-wife, Yvonne, arrives in town. It’s the Day of the Dead, 1938. The couple wants to revive their marriage and undo the wrongs of their past, but they soon realize that they’ve stumbled into the wrong place and time, where not only Geoffrey and Yvonne, but the world itself is on the edge of Armageddon.
The Film: Filmed on location in Mexico and released in 1984, Albert Finney was praised for his performance as Firmin and received an Academy Award nomination. Watch a powerful scene from the film here.
The Book: The gripping story of a man’s desperate obsession and scandalous love affair. He is a man who appears to have everything: wealth, a beautiful wife and children, and a prestigious political career in Parliament. But his life lacks passion, and his aching emptiness drives him to an all-consuming, and ultimately catastrophic, relationship with his son’s fiancée.
The Film: The 1992 film was not a critical success, but the performances by both Jeremy Irons and Miranda Richardson were praised. Richardson was nominated for both an Academy Award and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. Watch the trailer for the film here.
The Book: In this collection of stories, Toole gives readers an unprecedented look at the gritty life around the ring. He tells of a cutman with a sweet tooth, young fighters with dreams of celebrity, and a talented boxer who goes to Atlantic City for his biggest bout, only to be humiliated by the prejudices of a callous promoter. In “Million $$$ Baby,” the inspiration for the Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood film, an aged trainer takes on a female fighter, guiding her through disappointment, pain, and tragedy.
The Film: A box-office hit in 2004, the film was also met with some backlash for its controversial subject matter. Despite this, the film won four Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Actress for Hilary Swank, and Best Supporting Actor for Morgan Freeman. Watch a scene from the film here.
The Book: In August of 1942 the first American marines charged Guadalcanal, igniting a six-month battle for two thousand square miles of jungle and sand. For that gruesome stretch, sixty thousand Americans made the jump from boat to beach, and one in nine did not return. James Jones fought in that battle, and The Thin Red Line is his haunting portrait of men and war.
The Film: Called the "the greatest contemporary war film I've seen" by Gene Siskel, the film was released in 1998 and was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and boasted a large all-star cast that included Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, and George Clooney. Watch a scene from the film here.
The Book: Max Klein suffers from many anxieties—including a terrible fear of flying—but after surviving a plane crash his worries vanish and he suddenly believes himself invincible. Back home, a psychiatrist puts him in touch with Carla, a victim of the same crash who lost her infant son and suffers from a morbid, debilitating depression. Now Max and Carla begin a relationship that is sometimes intimate, sometimes painful, and perhaps the only path to recovery for both.
The Film: Released in 1993, Yglesias also wrote the screenplay for the film. It was well received, and Jeff Bridges starring role in this film has been called one of the best performances of his career. Rosie Perez was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role. Watch a scene from the film here.
The Book: The son of a freed slave, Solomon Northup lived the first thirty years of his life as a free man in upstate New York. In the spring of 1841, he was offered a job: a short-term, lucrative engagement as a violinist in a traveling circus. It was a trap. In Washington, DC, Northup was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years on plantations in Louisiana enduring backbreaking labor, unimaginable violence, and inhumane treatment at the hands of cruel masters, until a kind stranger helped to win his release.
The Film: The most recent film on this list,Twelve Years a Slave called best film of 2013 by many critics. Directed by Steve McQueen, the film went on to be a major box office success and award winner. At the Academy Awards, the film won Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. Watch a scene from the movie here.