My favorite way to discover new books is from independent bookstores. Needless to say, when their organization, the American Booksellers Association, names the best books of the year, I pay attention. The finalist list for the Indies Choice Book Award is announced March 1st. Members of the ABA, bookstore owners and staff, vote for his or her favorite book throughout the month of March. The winners were announced this week.
Adult Nonfiction:Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (Random House) – I haven’t met a single person who didn’t love this book.
Adult Debut:Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly Press and El León Literary Arts) – the buzz at this week’s BEA is about his latest book due out soon, What It’s Like To Go To War
Young Adult:Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) – I always give my daughter a copy of the winner of the Indies Choice YA Book Award, she’s thrilled it’s a book she hasn’t read yet
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Winners:
Middle Reader: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger (Amulet Books)
Picture Book: Children Make Terrible Pets, by Peter Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Picture Book Hall of Fame Inductees (there are always three each year)
Corduroy, by Don Freeman (Viking)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (Philomel)
This is a list that will give you a heads up on what to read this summer.
What is my favorite online literary event of the year? The Tournament of Books! Now March Madness is my favorite time of the year! They always pick 16 interesting well-written books, which sometimes align with the books that have been hyped during the year and sometimes, not so much. The decisions and commentary are intelligent and irreverent. While many of us may think that picking one book over another because it included a chart is insulting (Wolf Hall won a round for that reason last year), I have no doubt that books have won awards for similar reasons, the only difference here is that the decision-making is transparent. The tournament describes itself as “the only book award that admits to its own ridiculousness.” The award? An actual live rooster, what author wouldn’t metaphorically fight to win?
Today’s Tournament of Books Pre-Game Primer contains a search for this year’s theme plus a pat on the back for the gender parity among the authors, and troubled musings about the fact that all the writers are white. Sexual preferences are unknown. All posts allow for comments, so chime in, should they do something different next year to provide for more diversity? That’s the beauty of this award, you can talk back. But remember, this audience is sharp, keep the silly comments for your Facebook page.
So fill in your brackets and play along. The Morning News provided an elaborately decorated bracket that I can’t read because the print is so small when it’s reduced to fit letter-sized paper. For those of us with ‘weaker’ eyes, Hungry Like the Woolf developed an easy to read version. Want to play along for prizes? Enter Hungry Like the Woolf’s contest before 9PM PST today.
First up tomorrow is the battle between Freedom and Kapitoil, I’m picking Freedom for no other reason than I saw Franzen interviewed, badly, and felt embarrassed that he and the audience had to endure it. I love the Freedom to be just as ridiculous as the next guy.
This week President Obama gave the Medal of Freedom to Maya Angelou. The President chooses the recipients of the Medal of Freedom for their “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It is the highest honor the President can bestow upon a civilian. Maya Angelou joins the ranks of 20 other literature honorees, a group she enhances by her inclusion.
I remember standing just beyond the steps of the Capitol building on January 20, 1993, the crowd amped up and excited for the inauguration of President Clinton. I’m sure his speech was terrific, but I doubt many remember. What we all can recall with a note of reverence is Maya Angelou reciting On the Pulse of Morning. There have been a couple of times in my life when secular events have taken on the hue of the sacred and this was one of them. She and her poem overshadowed the entire ceremony. However, On the Pulse of Morning isn’t my favorite Angelou poem, the one I truly love is Still I Rise. In celebration of her well deserved award, here is the poem and a video of her reciting it.
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
We’re so thrilled! We’re one of five finalists in the Best Topical Blog! The Bloggies are the oldest blog award and it is an honor to be noticed by the judges and given a finalist spot. The winners are decided by public voting, so please promote the support of independent bookstores and vote for us before Sunday, February 20th. Click here to vote.
We also recommend voting for The Vacation Gals as the best travel blog. One of it’s founders, Jen Miner, is the woman who started Claire and I on this blogging journey and we love her work.
There isn’t a single book award that comes close to being as fun as the race for the Rooster in the Tournament of Champions. Sponsored by The Morning News, I do back flips every time they issue an announcement about the tournament and this week offered the most important-the short list. Here are the 16 books that will enter the book arena:
I’ve only read two, I own four, but most exciting for me, six of them I don’t know well. That’s one of things I enjoy about the tournament, the opportunity to fall in love with a new book. Sometimes, it’s the insight to skip reading a book which can be just as valuable. For the newbies to the Tournament of Books, you’re in for a treat. Check out a description of the “process” and how the books are picked-the key words are ‘somewhat arbitrary.’ Make sure you vote for your favorite book for the Zombie Round, when two previous eliminated books are given a second chance to compete. I voted for Room. The competition starts on March 7th, but the brackets will be released earlier. Never fear, I’ll be highlighting it.