LitLovers Goes to the Movies

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 10:03


We love books, and we love movies. And we REALLY love movies that come from books.

Book clubs tell us, over and over, that a favorite club activity is attending movies based on books—especially if the book is a club selection.

That's why LitLovers has decided to partner with Screen Thoughts.

hollister-otoole1SCREEN THOUGHTS takes the book-to-movie connection a step beyond. They read the book . . . see the movie . . . then create a 20-minute podcast about their impressions.

Hollister and O'Toole, the voices behind the mic, are smart, knowledgeable, and engaging. They review the films and ask the questions we care about:

Is the film true to the book?
Are the actors right for the book's characters?
Do you prefer the book to film . . . or film to book?

Click HERE for Screen Thoughts podcasts—or go the top of the LitLovers homepage. Listen on your own . . . or listen as a group in your book club—they're sure to spark discussion.  Who's right—Hollister or O'Toole? Both? Neither?

Each month you'll find a new book-to-movie podcast. So be sure to listen in.


Leigh Bardugo is C-O-O-L

Thursday, 22 October 2015 12:38


By Molly Lundquist, LitLovers.
Haven't we all, at some point, wanted to be cool? Well, my friends, here's what cool looks like—and what it doesn't.

six-of-crows1I'm a cool wanna be. And just when I deluded myself that I might, after all these years, be getting comes Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, etc.). Now she's got a brand new fantasy novel—Six of Crows, published to rave reviews. Think Oceans Eleven with a bunch of adolescents.

Not only is the book cool, but take a look at the photos of Leigh and friends I found on Instragam. Top row is Leigh. Bottom row? Guess who. Not even close.


Book Club Blues—Kindles allowed?

Thursday, 15 October 2015 08:48

bcblues-kindleThis just in: A Facebook friend wrote asking about the use of Kindles and other e-book devices in her book club. What's a book club to do—allow or not allow?

A good friend and I are starting a book club, and we already have a group lined up. Someone has asked if she could use her Kindle, and although I don't see a problem, my co-founder says, "Definitely not." What are your thoughts? Any advice would help.

It turns out the co-founder's problem with Kindles has to do with local bookstores: her fears that e-readers will put them out of business. So a compromise was reached: use your Kindle at home, but just don't bring it to the book club.

Saving bookstores is a laudable concern. It's easy to feel helpless in the face of powerful marketing forces destroying what we love, so we want to do what we can.

But it seems to me the club's solution—go ahead and use your Kindle, just don't let us see you do it—is like closing your eyes against a tsunami: if you don't see it, maybe it's not happening. And what about Amazon? Will members be buying their books online?

Tough issues—and wanting to do the right thing, to take a stand for something worth preserving, is admirable. But technology is unstoppable; it IS a tsunami and it WILL engulf us...and everything in its path. One need only took to history...
  ♦ the scroll to the book
  ♦ the buggy to the auto
  ♦ the stage to screen
  ♦ the screen to tv
  ♦ the mailbox to our "inbox"... and on and on. When we gain something, we also we lose something.

Bless this book club for its love of bookstores—and its willingness to stand on principle. I admire them. Still, it's hard to see how, in the long run, the tide (or tsunami) will turn. And the Kindle? Confession: I love mine.

Actually, there's room for both—books and e-readers. Scroll down to the blog post right below this one, BOOKSTORES MAY STICK AROUND AFTER ALL. The past five years it seems have seen real growth in their numbers.

So what do you think? Do your book club members use Kindles?


Bookstores May Stick Around After All

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 07:46

phewIt might be time to remove BOOKSTORES and LIBRARIES from the list of endangered species!

Over the past several years, those dealing in print books were preparing themselves for extinction. With ebook sales skyrocketing, it looked as if end times were on the horizon. But that may have changed.

According to the Association for American Publishers (AAP), digital ebook sales have dropped—by about 10%. Okay, that's not a lot, but it's enough to give books-on-shelves some wiggle room...and booksellers some hope.

Adding to the good news, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) says its member bricks & mortar bookstores have increased their numbers over the past five years—from 1,400 to 1,700.

Moreover, some surveys show that young readers, the ones in love with digital devices, still prefer reading on paper.

Not that we readers are leaving our digitial devices behind: it's more like we're becoming "hybrid readers," toggling from hard copies to ebooks. I'm a hybrid—I love my Kindle but also enjoy the feel of a print book. You can read more in the New York Times.

So what about you? Are you a hybrid reader, strictly ebooks, or strictly paper ones?

The 7 Worst Places to Read

Sunday, 13 September 2015 07:39

best-places-read6Ah, Pinterest—all those lists and photos of the BEST PLACES TO READ...inside, outside, in cities around the world. But the novelty's wearing thin.

And that
got us to thinking—perversely—about where you DON'T want to be caught with a book. So we put together our own list. This one is about . . .


1 — at a Job Interview
You've got a terrific resume. Great experience. Top-notch references. And there you are, peering down at a book—all to prove you can multi-task, too! Gee, how could they not hire you?


2 — in a Lunar Landing Craft
You wanna screw this up? Your one big shot at making history? The world is watching, so put the book down—now—and land this baby.


3 — at a Parent-Teacher Conference
You think you're showing off your reading skills—which have rubbed off on your gifted kid. But while you sit there with your nose in a book, the teacher?...well, she thinks differently.


4 — in Speeding Traffic
Eyes on the road; hands on the wheel. Do we really need to explain this one?


5 — at a Tax Audit
That's right, sure—just keep on reading. A ploy of nonchalance implies innocence: Why, sir, what could possibly be wrong? Yep, he'll see right through you.


6 — in a Real Bedroom
This isn't on Pinterest—because this is LIFE. Picture yourself curling up here with a book in your hand and a Pinot by your side. You can't, can you?


7 — at the Empire State Building
You could accidentally drop your book from the Observation Deck—you would see it accelerate at (32 ft. per sec.)2, hitting the ground in 15 sec. at a terminal velocity of 50 mph. And THAT would crack the book's spine—which everyone knows is a crying shame.


So, dear reader, you tell us...what's YOUR worst place to read?


CONGRATS to Medal of Arts winners

Thursday, 10 September 2015 07:19

stephen-king-jumpha-lahiriHardy (or hearty?) congratulations go to STEPHEN KING and JUMPHA LAHIRI, who are to be awarded the prestigious Medal of Arts by President Obama. The presentation will take place at a White House ceremony today.

The National Endowment for the Arts awards medals each year to a wide range of individuals in the arts—actors, authors, dancers, film makers, musicians, and visual artists (painters and sculptors)—recognized for their "outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States."

A (tiny) sampling of previous recipents includes such luminaries as Saul Bellow, Rene Flemming, Clint Eastwood, Earnest J. Gaines, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Bradbury, Jacob's Pillow Dance, Roy Lichtenstein.

Below is what the White House has to say about the choice of King and Lahiri:

Stephen King for his contributions as an author. One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world.

Jhumpa Lahiri for enlarging the human story. In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging.

Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

This year's winners also include theater director John Baldessari, choreographer Ping Chong, actress Miriam Colon, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, actress Sally Fields, visual artist Ann Hamilton, composer and singer Meredith Monk, tenor George Shirley, the University Musical Society, author and educator Tobias Wolff.



Tuesday, 30 June 2015 07:25

rrg-survey We've teamed up with READING GROUP GUIDES to help out with their 2015 Book Group Survey. If you've got some time—we'd love you to take several minutes to answer some questions about your club.

The cut-off date is July 15, 2015. So do take the survey by then. Click on the image to the left...or click HERE.

And to say thank-you for your time, you'll be eligible to win up to $250 to spend at any bookstore of your choice. That's the GRAND PRIZE.

But there are 60 other chances to win. Here's the run-down:

10 First Prizes — $100 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice.
50 Second Prizes — $25 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice.

The survey results will offer us some fascinating insights about the book club world—how you function, what you've read, what you like to do and read...and what you don't. It's a chance for you to tell us about yourselves.

So I urge you to take some time...and take the survey. You'll find the questions pretty interesting, some even thought-provoking.

Celeb Authors On Drugs

Thursday, 30 April 2015 20:37


Top Authors Admit to Drug Use

        Drugs Wreaking Havoc

New York, NY
— Like their peers in the sports world, dozens of celebrity authors have
turned to performance enhancing drugs.

An unnamed source at a major New York publisher said the drugs enable authors to write more words, much faster. "They're  composing longer and longer sentences—without breaking a sweat."

"The result," the source said, "is stupefyingly longer books.

Increased output
Best selling author Ken Fowllett is a case in point. Fowllett said the drugs give him cleaner key strokes and more staying power to keep pounding out sentences. The fourth book in his Century Trilogy now exceeds 2,200 pages.
A question of quality
Yale's Harold Bloom spoke for many when he raised the question of length vs.quality. "Longer is not necessarily better,"he said in his typically cryptic fashion.

Authors defensive
"That's grossly unfair," said best selling author Donna Tartly. We're giving readers more than they ever bargained for. They should consider themselves damn lucky."

Ms. Tartly's latest work, "The Goldfish," came in at over 1,600 pages.

Supersized books
"We used to think of Jim Michener as excessive," said Random Haus CEO Don Doubleknopf. "Now we view his works as mere novellas.

Worried publishers
The publishing world is concerned about the costs of these gargantuan works, as well as a potential public backlash.

"It's ironic," said Barb Thorne, a marketing director at Simon & Shooter. "Books are getting longer just as our attention spans are getting shorter."

"Some of us worry that readers have already parked the car at Twitter," he said.

Zena Macklethorp, special to The Daily News


Raves for The Fortune Hunter

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 09:17

By Molly Lundquist
Daisy Goodwin's The Fortune Hunter just came out in paperback, so given the hype (see NY columnist Liz Smith's review for one) I took a look...and I loved it.

The novel centers on a romantic triangle populated by actual historical characters: an Austrian empress, British heiress, and dashing cavalry captain. Some of Goodwin's story is true, some imagined. Sound like fun? It is.

Young Charlotte Baird is heiress to the Lenox fortune and considered quite a catch during her debut in London. Like many a good heroine, Charlotte defies convention much to her family's dismay. Yet it's that very independent streak that attracts the eye of handsome Captain Bay Middleton.

bay-charlotteUnfortunately, Bay himself catches the eye of visiting royalty: Empress Elisabeth of Austria who has come to Britain for the hunting season. Famed throughout Europe for her beauty, Sisi, as she is known, intoxicates Bay, who is now torn between two women. (Photos left: Charlotte? and Bay)

The story, though, offers more than a standard romance: we get an insider's view of the Victorian class system and the burdens it imposes, not on society's lower rungs but, in this novel, on the upper ones—even on royalty.

empress-sisi For as much as Americans are titillated by all things Downton Abby, Goodwin shows us a darker side. We see the demands for mindless conformity, especially for women. We watch how those not quite up-to-snuff (the untitled) face stinging humiliation by their "betters" (the titled). And we're privy to the tacit understanding that women are mere commodities in a cynical marriage market.

The book holds a particular interest for me. A couple of years ago, I stumbled across a 1962 movie with Romy Schneider (anyone remember her?) as Sisi, the lovely 16-year-old girl who captured the heart of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. (Photo right: Empress Sisi)

The Fortune Hunter picks up 22 years after that romantic coupling to show the toll that royal life—with its sycophantic courtiers and stultifying dullness—has taken on Sisi. That part is true, too, and so is this—unhappy at home, Sisi traveled a good deal to remove herself from the rigid confines of the Austrian court.

This is a delightful, engaging read: and it's an easy one, too. Goodwin has drawn her secondary characters broadly; they're rather cartoonish, but that only makes them more fun to loathe. The author has taken more care, however with her leads, lending them a degree of depth. She also writes in wonderful, rich detail when it comes to riding to the hunt, the new-fangled photography, and the beauty regimes of royalty (which involve slabs of veal...I'll say no more).

Read and have fun. I did. Oh, and don't miss our Reading Guide for The Fortune Hunter, complete with discussion questions.

* This review is sponsored by St. Martin's Griffin, publishers of the Fortune Hunter. The content of the review is an objective opinion by LitLovers.


Author Cathy Lamb's Take on Book Clubs

Monday, 13 April 2015 11:48

We read plenty about what book clubs think of authors (and their books). But here's a twist— author Cathy Lamb tells us what SHE thinks of book clubs . . .

cathy-lamb1aHere is a little secret: I love visiting with book groups.

I chat with women here in Oregon and all around the country. Over the years I've heard some pretty funny comments—here are a few of the more amusing ones:

“My husband is an a--h--. He’s like Slick Dick in The Last Time I Was Me.”

“My husband gets irritated sometimes with how much time I spend with the kids but I say to him, ‘The kids hug me and want me to read them stories but you always want to have sex. Of course I’d rather read stories.’”

“The guys from the fire department came to take care of my husband, AGAIN, but I knew they thought he was crazy. He thought he was having another heart attack. His third that week. They didn’t say it, but I heard it: My husband is anxious about his anxiety. That’s what causes his heart to beat too fast.”

“My daughter shaves her legs too much. Is that weird?”

“Should we take off our tops like they did in Julia’s Chocolates?”

“Pot is now legal in Oregon. Do you think we should get a joint for the next book club meeting?”

“Did you run naked by a river, Cathy, like Jeanne in The Last Time I Was Me?”

“Oh, my gosh. We finished ANOTHER bottle of wine!”

“You know that sex therapist in your book, Cathy? How did you learn all that?”

cathy-lamb2 I visit many book groups during the year. If they’re within twenty minutes of my home, I go to their home. If not, we skype or chat via speaker phone.

I’ve skyped with ladies in New York and Massachusetts, Florida and California, a whole pile of other states, and Canada. If there was a book group on the planet Pluto, I’d skype there, too.

Here’s what I’ve learned: All books groups are fantastically, mightily different from one another.

They all have different goals. Some book groups are very intellectual/literary. I have sat and been drilled about everything from character and plot development, to tone, symbolism, metaphors, pacing, structure, who are my favorite literary writers and why, etc.

Then there are groups who talk about the book half the time and chat and laugh the other half of the time.

There are other groups who read the book, talk about it for fifteen minutes, then dive into their lives. Their book group is a social group. Period. Some of ‘em don’t even hide that anymore.

Then there are groups of women who simply want to meet me, don’t want to talk a whole lot about the book, and did I want more wine? How about a couple more glasses? Beer? Vodka? They have that, too. (I don’t drink, but they do their best to make me happy.)

cathy-lamb3One of my favorite groups only wanted to sit down and have dinner with me. They came in laughing and drank a whole ton of wine. It was a neighborhood book group, no one drove, and they stumbled home singing and chatting. They wanted a nice girlfriend sort of visit. I did not envy them their Book Group Hangovers.

Another book group was the Laughing Book Group. My stomach hurt when I left we laughed so hard. They were all fifty-plus and life was fun.

I once went to a book group that was very, very quiet, almost somber. No one laughed. Not once. They took their reading seriously. I could tell that my book, Julia’s Chocolates, was a wee bit too wild for a few of them. Perhaps they had not liked, Breast Power Psychic Night? Perhaps, Your Hormones and You: Taking Cover, Taking Charge, was a little much? Love scenes too graphic? I don’t know.

cathy-lamb4aSome groups are small, only four or so women, others are thirty – plus. The age range in most of the groups varies from women in their twenties to women in their seventies.

They want to know how I come up with my ideas, (wild imagination) how I write the book, (carefully, obsessively) what my daily life is like (just like theirs), are my characters based on real people (no), etc.

Anyhow, ladies, I’m happy to attend your book groups. Email me through my website, and we’ll set up a time.

Happy reading.

Cathy Lamb is a LitLovers author—4 of her books are listed here. We were delighted when she offered to do a guest post


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