Former GE Exec, Beth Comstock, branches out with "Change Makers"

Beth Comstock Facebook

Beth Comstock Facebook

Beth Comstock, formerly GE's CMO and Vice Chair, has had a successful career. She spent more than 20 years with GE and served on the Board of Nike. She's worked for two of the most high powered CEO's in the world and managed the corporate labyrinth, helping to move the industrial company into the digital age.  I've been a "fan" of Comstock for several years and love that she has decided to pursue her side hustle, Change Makers Book Club. 

Comstock reads and interviews authors with current subjects such as innovation, productivity, change, and introversion. It's a great list with some thought provoking interviews.  Check out the list on Medium and her Facebook page for the must current postings.

The British Book Industry Awards Announced

The British Book Industry Awards, which celebrate the greatness of the British book trade and the people behind it – the best books, the best writers, the best bookshops, the best publishers - just announced it's winners.  There are multiple industry categories, so be sure to look into it further on the Bookseller site.  In the meantime, here are the winners for books of the year.

BOOKS OF THE YEAR, in association with Books Are My Bag

Début Fiction Book of the Year - The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley, John Murray
Fiction Book of the Year - A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara, Picador
Non-fiction Book of the Year - Norwegian Wood, Lars Mytting, translated by Robert Ferguson, MacLehose Press
Children's Book of the Year - My Brother is a Superhero, David Solomons, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson, Nosy Crow
Book of the Year - The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley, John Murray

Hemingway's Classic "A Moveable Feast", Homage to the City of (Everlasting) Lights

According to an article in The Atlantic, How Hemingway's A Moveable Feast Has Become a Bestseller in France.  And of course.  Ernest Hemingway's homage to Paris, written at the ripe age of 22, was written in 1964 and has been a perennial seller since. Although book sales in France have gone from approximately 10-15 each day to 500 since the horrific Paris attacks.

So it's time to read or re-read this classic - to appreciate the writer and even more so, our solidarity with our friends in Paris.

Publishers Weekly Picks for Best Books of 2015

So I have to admit to a small panic attack when I read Publishers Weekly list of their chosen top books of 2015.  I haven't read any of them! They range from non-fiction and widely touted, Ta-Nehisi Coates work Between the World and Me to short story collection, Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane and southern mystery Delicious Foods by James Hannaham.

My backlog of "to be read" books are stacked around my place, but at least of few of these will be added to the list. 2015 is almost over and they'll be a whole new wonderful crop in 2016. I better get busy.

What have been your favorites? Let us know!

America's Summer Reading; With and Without "Girl on a Train"

Quartz online magazine does a great job of mapping out the summer's most popular books in 15 cities across the country according to library statistics. The big winners? Girl on a Train and Go Set a Watchman.  Not surprised? Yes, those are the two with the most hype.

A second map Quartz has included are the most popular books that are not Girl on a Train or Go Set a Watchman.  Check it out. It's interesting to see what others are reading.

One of the books is Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, which is reviewed here, as the review for Girl on a Train Come back for a visit to read a review of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Actress Julianna Margulies to Publish Children's Book

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies

According to Publishers Weekly, award-winning actress Julianna Margulies will work with Random House Children's Books to publish her debut children's picture book. The story centers around three sisters whose father takes them to the zoo every week. They are given balloons that take them on magical nighttime journeys.

The story was originally told to Margulies and her sisters by their father, and advertising executive when they were children. After her father's death, a manuscript of the story was found, which is the basis for the picture book. Expected publication date is May 2016.

2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Winner Announced

All The Light We Cannot See.jpeg

The coveted Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been announced, and it's probably not a big surprise.  Although it was a crowded field of worthy works. The 2015 winner is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, set in the second world war and tells the story of a blind French girl and her father who flee Paris upon the German invasion.

The judges describe the book as "an imaginative and intricate novel inspired by the horrors of World War II and written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology".

Nominated for finalists for fiction were Richard Ford for Let Me Be Frank with You, The Moor's Account, by Laila Lalami, and Lovely, Dark, Deep, by Joyce Carol Oates. Find out more about the fiction award and other Pulitzer awardees on their website.

My Literary Soulmates

I’m not gonna lie - the large majority of my favorite books are ones where I see a lot of myself in the protagonist. Call it egotistical, narcissistic, or just plain selfish, but for one reason or another, I love reading about characters that are well... like me! Now, in real-life, I don’t put a lot of stock into the idea of soulmates. I generally think that there are lots of different people we can “click” with at different times of our lives. However, in the literary world, I totally buy into this concept! So, while I am ever-changing and evolving throughout this life of mine, at one time or another, the following characters were like giant figurative mirrors staring right back at me.

Francie Nolan - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Francie Nolan’s difficult and heartbreaking existence really hit home for me. Her mother, very clearly, favored her younger brother and nobody really fully appreciated Francie’s inquisitive mind and intellect. Her family was also extremely poor and the descriptions of the Nolan family’s daily life crushed me. Something about Francie made me want to give her a huge hug and tell her how brilliant she really is.

Ponyboy Curtis - The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

I’ve always had a “thing” for the underdogs, and Ponyboy Curtis definitely qualifies! He is hyper-aware that he, his brothers, and friends are not as fortunate as the preppy socs and despite his tough appearance, he is wise beyond his years.

Adso of Melk - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

I did not actually choose to read The Name of the Roseit was required for a job. However, I felt a huge sense of pride upon completing this novel. Protagonist, Adso of Melk, is the obedient and very curious student of William of Baskerville. I connected to Adso because of the respect that he had for his teacher. He wanted to soak up as much knowledge as his teacher was willing to dispense to him and his unending curiosity really resonated with me.

Netti Sayuri - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I really like Sayuri because she is confident and insecure all at the same time. She never really seems to fully understand how or why she became such a successful geisha, but she also knows how to get exactly what she wants. Her loyalty and dedication to the chairman throughout her life is also worthy of admiration.

Do you have any literary soulmates? Which characters would you love to chat with over a cup of coffee? Let us know!

BBC List of Best Children's Books Triggers Strong Responses

So, the BBC recently released a list of the top 11 best children’s books of all time and needless to say, many people are extremely dissatisfied with the BBC’s choices. Personally, I LOVE the fact that the BBC went out on a ledge and chose “favorites” among an unending ocean of beautiful children’s literature. Why? Because one of the best parts of reading books is talking about them with others. As I browsed the social media sites, and read the offended comments from people who claimed that all of the books were “too old,” I noticed that each person decided to post their own top ten list of favorite books. Then, you can imagine what happened next. People started reminiscing and connecting based on a mutual love for one beloved book or another.

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10 Man Booker International Prize Finalists Announced

For 48 years the Man Booker Prize and its judges have been discerningly selecting what they deem as the best fiction writing. The aim is to promote sales and to promote reading of intelligent works.

Launched in 2005, the Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there are no submissions from publishers. 

The Man Booker International Prize 2015 winner will be revealed Tuesday 19 May 2015. See a list of the finalists here. I haven't read these authors - yet.  Have you?  Please do share and let us know your thoughts.  

Nominees Announced for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards

The world of literary awards is vast, but PEN has been around for 90 years. PEN is an international association of writers known for defending writers throughout the world to support free expression.

PEN just announced their longlists for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards, spanning fiction, nonfiction, biography, essays, translation, and more. The finalists will be announced on April 15. The winners for all 2015 awards will be announced on May 13 and honored at PEN's Literary Awards Ceremony on June 8 at The New School in New York City. 

Take a look at the PEN nominees - there are some wonderful reads here.

Dear Writer of Children's Books, Please Stop Underestimating Your Audience

Any parent who was an enthusiastic reader as a kid has probably noticed that children’s books look a lot different these days. All you have to do is go to the book section geared towards the 7-10 year-old crowd and you’ll see the book-equivalent of a loud cartoon smattered all over neon-colored pages.

Not only do children’s books have way more illustrations compared to years past, but the text is often bolded or broken up into small chunks reminiscent of a mom hiding an extra serving of vegetables in her spaghetti sauce. On top of that, story lines are often fast-paced, repetitive, and have minimal character development. What’s the deal? When did writers start to underestimate a child’s ability to appreciate good literature?

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve purchased a couple of these freakishly frenzied books for my own two kids, thinking they would be enticed to pick these up on their own accord. One of these purchases include the George Brown Class Clown series. True, my kids enjoyed the first two books in the series. They are cute, silly, and predictable. However, by the third book, both of my kids were bored because they were all the same. And no, they never did feel inclined to read these on their own. So I put away the “book candy” and tried to find something more meaningful.

A day later, we started reading a book from my own childhood, The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks. I wasn’t sure if my kids were going to stay engaged in the quiet story about an average boy and his magical cupboard especially since the illustrations were not only sparse, but (gasp!) black and white. But they did stay engaged, in fact, they loved every minute of it and protested each night when I stopped reading. Even to this day, they remember so much about that book and still talk about the characters. Why? Because the story has depth, and real human emotion that even our little ones can relate to. I really hope this trend in children’s books comes to a much-needed end soon enough. Our kids deserve better.

Four Well-rounded Female Characters for Your Daughter

In the past, I’ve had conversations with parents who had certain books they did not want their children to read. By this time, technology was well-ingrained into our everyday society and “too much screen time” was a common phrase used when talking about raising kids. So, it was confusing to me why in the world, parents would deny their children any type of reading at all, regardless of what the character says or does. Isn’t the fact that your child is reading enough? Well, it turns out, I was wrong.

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Unintended Consequences

A San Francisco institution, Borderlands book store, open since 1997 was forced to shutter its doors, only to be saved by the community (for now).  Why? The city raised its minimum wage with much celebration.  However, for small businesses it has unintended consequences, like this one.  

Owner Alan Beatts said profits were slim as it was. This forced him to plan to shut down operations in the Mission neighborhood.  Fortunately for Beatts and the community, loyal customers have stepped in with 'sponsorships' keeping the doors open.  But who knows what the future holds - for Borderlands and other small operations.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle story here.