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December 2014 Newsletter December 2014

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Watch Your Favorite Book

Besides reading, knitting and cooking, I am an avid movie watcher. Once the weekly newsletter update goes out for (our sister site) on a Friday night, I typically find myself watching a movie to unwind. I am back to reading on Saturday mornings. I have a streaming Netflix account, as well as one physical disc to give me an opportunity to watch newer films as well as numerous movie channels on cable. Except over the holidays (Oscar season) and when on vacation, I am not a big fan of going to the movie theater; with my work life so heavily scheduled, I just do not love the idea of having to be at the theater at a given time.

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a screening for Still Alice, which, as you know from our contest last month, is based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestseller of the same name. I loved it, which is saying a lot because I’m usually underwhelmed by movies based on books. It’s a very faithful adaptation, which is lovely as I first read STILL ALICE in manuscript months before it was published. Considering how many books to films have been disappointments, I am happy to share that I would change nothing here.

It’s open now in New York and LA, which is a requirement for films that want to be noted for Oscar consideration and goes wide (how Hollywood am I?) on January 16th. Julianne Moore is brilliant as Alice, and there is a moment close to the end where you really see her acting chops, as well as a look into Alice’s world from her slightly younger self.

I learned it was written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, a married team who, just before starting their work in 2011, were told by a neurologist that “Mr. Glatzer’s increased slurring was not just a mysterious tic, but probably a symptom of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as A.L.S. and Lou Gehrig’s disease.” I think it made their writing of Alice and her family even more empathetic. You can read more about them here.

I finally got to meet Lisa (for years we have had “almost” encounters, missing each other by moments), and I got to tell her how much I am looking forward to sharing her April book, INSIDE THE O’BRIENS with our readers. She was beaming as she introduced the film, which she was seeing for the fourth time. I love moments like this! You can see Lisa above with the movie’s poster.

Keeping in a film vein…we’re celebrating the December 2014 release of the film adaptation by making WILD our “What’s Your Book Group Reading This Month?” prize book this month. Cheryl Strayed’s powerful, blazingly honest memoir about the 1,100-mile solo hike she took when she was reeling from personal catastrophe cut quickly to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and the movie starring Reese Witherspoon already is getting rave reviews. Enter here by Wednesday, January 7th at noon ET for your chance to be one of three lucky groups who will win 12 copies.

How would you like to win 12 books that are coming to the big screen in 2015, as well as a $360 movie gift card (for the theater of your choice)? That is the mega prize package that Word & Film, “a website dedicated to keeping a literary eye on what’s entertaining the world on screens both big and small.” They’re giving readers a chance to win one of five adaptation prize packages that includes and 12 books coming to the big screen in 2015. Click here for more info and to enter the contest; the deadline for entries is midnight ET on Tuesday, January 6th. What a GREAT prize!

Lots of you will be spending time this month with family and friends with young children and grandchildren, thus we wanted to make sure Brightly is on your radar. It’s a new resource devoted to helping parents encourage their kids to read. Founded by parents and booklovers, Brightly seeks to help parents keep their children engaged with reading at every age and developmental stage. The site is just getting started, so we’re asking readers to help them focus their efforts by completing a short survey. Click here to take the survey, and once finished, you can be entered to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, a favorite newish picture book!

December is a slow month for new books that “work” for book groups, thus we have just one new guide for Joshua Davis’ inspiring nonfiction, SPARE PARTS. That said, we know it’s a big month for many book groups to be selecting their reads for the new year. With that in mind, we have THREE of our signature bookshelves to share, where we feature 20 titles based on a theme.

First up is our “Nonfiction Titles to Explore” bookshelf. In our experience, nonfiction books lend themselves to excellent book group conversation, whether because of their relevance, their larger-than-life storylines or just their essential relatability. Click here to see our bookshelf, where we've selected 20 books that run the nonfiction gamut --- from essays to memoirs to history to literary criticism. Many thanks to Emily Hoenig and Lincoln Thompson for editing this feature.

For a slightly different twist on reading, I curated a bookshelf of 20 audiobooks that I’ve spent the last few months listening to. These selections were chosen as I felt that they have good storylines, appealing narrators and gave me a chance to expand my reading horizons as I listened to titles that I have not had time to read in print. Have you thought about listening to your book group’s selection? Click here to check out that bookshelf. Note that not all of these are book discussion worthy, but they all are high on entertainment value!

And while we’re talking about audio, make sure to check out our latest “Sounding Off on Audio” posts. Last week, we heard from Deborah Barrow, a media executive in “magazines, broadcast, the Internet and beyond” who finds herself on the road a lot, where audiobooks come in handy. I worked for Deborah back in my Mademoiselle days, and I love that we've reconnected over the years and that she is contributing to this feature. We also interviewed Jamie Carroll Frisk, who is to date our youngest “Sounding Off” contributor, though her audiobook listening career spans decades. We’ve been running these columns every week since late September. If you are an audiobook aficionado and would like to be interviewed, then drop me a note at [email protected] with the subject line "Audiobook Lover."

Wondering what to cook this holiday season? Or what cookbooks you want to give and get? Then check out our "Fall/Winter Cookbooks 2014" bookshelf, which has 20 cookbook selections that our staff curated for giving and getting --- and cooking and perusing. We all love to cook, and food-related conversation is something we all enjoy! Many thanks to Nicole Sherman for pulling this together from all our spirited suggestions. Click here to check it out.

This also is a good time to remind you that if you find yourself without a guide for a book, something that often happens with older titles, we’ve created discussion questions in 10 genres for you to reference if no guide is available. You can find those here.

To get you in the holiday spirit over at, our annual Holiday Author Blogs are up and running for the SEVENTH consecutive year, and we couldn’t be more excited. From now until the start of the new year, we will be featuring new blog posts from authors every day talking about the books that they have given and received. Thus far we have heard from Lacy Crawford, Jamie Metzl, Hazel Gaynor, Sarah Addison Allen, Camille DeAngelis, Phillip Margolin, Kristin Harmel, Laura Lane McNeal and Katherine Reay. In the days ahead, you can look forward to contributions from Steve Berry, Robin Antalek, Lynne Hinton, Daniel Palmer, Amanda Eyre Ward, Kim Wright, and many more. As always, we so appreciate all the authors who have taken the time to share these wonderful holiday memories with us. And thanks to all of you who have written to tell us how much you are enjoying these pieces.

And also on Bookreporter, our Holiday Cheer contests are still going strong. Last week, we gave away A BUNCH OF PRETTY THINGS I DID NOT BUY by Sarah Lazarovic, LEAVING TIME by Jodi Picoult, THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION by Darcie Chan and UNBROKEN: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. This week’s prizes are THE 13TH GIFT: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, HORRORSTÖR by Grady Hendrix, and SHOPAHOLIC TO THE STARS by Sophie Kinsella. We’ve been sending a special newsletter to announce each day's title; if you’re not signed up yet to receive the Holiday Cheer newsletter, please do so here. If you have problems signing up, please write to John Maher at [email protected], and he will handle this for you.

BIG news! We know you like our dedicated newsletters and contests that are held throughout the year. Thus, in the new year, we are adding "Winter Reading Dedicated Contests" to what we offer in our latest round of daily contests. On select days in January and February, we’ll be awarding new and upcoming releases to lucky readers. Our Winter Reading newsletters will be coming soon, so make sure you’re signed up to receive them so you know what book we’re giving away on each of the contest days. Sign up here, but if you are having trouble doing so, again please send a note to[email protected].

As 2014 begins to wrap up, “Best Of” lists are popping up everywhere, highlighting the “best books” of the year. We do not do our own “Best Of” list, though each month we list the most requested guides of the previous month, and in January we will list the most requested guides of the year. However, we know our readers do enjoy these lists, and for that reason, we have compiled a list of “Best Of” lists of 2014 here so you do not have to hunt them down. We will add to this as more come our way!

And if you haven’t already, make sure to enter our poll! We’d still like to know if you and your group would be interested in attending an event in your community where upcoming book titles are previewed. Let us know by taking the poll here.

For those who have their book groups registered with us, we’ll be back with one brief newsletter later this month. To everyone else, we will see you in January. Here’s to a memorable holiday season and a healthy and happy new year!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

P.S. For those of you who are doing online holiday shopping, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!


"What's Your Book Group Reading This Month?" Contest: Win 12 Copies of WILD by Cheryl Strayed for Your Group

Each month, we ask book groups to share the titles they are reading that month and rate them. From all entries, three winners will be selected, and each will win 12 copies of that month’s prize book for their group. Note: To be eligible to win, let us know the title of the book that YOUR book group is CURRENTLY reading, NOT the title we are giving away.

In anticipation of the December 2014 release of the film adaptation, our latest prize book is the #1 New York Times bestselling WILD, Cheryl Strayed's powerful, blazingly honest memoir of the 1,100-mile solo hike that broke her down when she was reeling from catastrophe --- and built her back up again. Enter here by Wednesday, January 7th at noon ET.

WILD by Cheryl Strayed (Memoir)
At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State --- and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, WILD powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her.

-Click here for the reading group guide.


Click here to enter the contest.

Enter to Win a Movie & Book Prize Pack from Word & Film!
Enter to win free movie tickets and books for a year from Word & Film! You can win one of five adaptation prize packages that includes a $360 movie gift card and 12 books coming to the big screen in 2015: 50 SHADES OF GREY, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, FALLEN, FRANKENSTEIN, IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, THE JUNGLE BOOK, THE MARTIAN, THE MAZE RUNNER, PAPER TOWNS, PETER PAN, STAR WARS: A NEW DAWN and PRIDE & PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES.
Click here to enter the sweepstakes.

Nonfiction Discussion Titles to Explore With Your Group
Nonfiction books are certainly a varied lot, despite being wedded to some version of the truth. Long gone are the days when nonfiction was associated with a lack of imagination --- these books are every bit as riveting (and in some cases, fantastical) as the best fiction out there. Stranger than fiction is right! In our experience, nonfiction books also lend themselves to excellent book group conversation, whether because of their relevance, their larger-than-life storylines or just their essential relatability. We've selected 20 books that run the nonfiction gamut --- from essays to memoirs to history to literary criticism, we've got 'em all. Most of the books have guides, which you can find by clicking on their covers. If no guide is available and you'd still like to discuss the book, we encourage you to click here where we have suggested questions in multiple genres. Here's to great nonfiction and great group discussions!
Click here for our "Nonfiction Discussion Titles to Explore" bookshelf.

20 Audiobook Suggestions to Get You Listening
Whether you have listened to an audiobook before or are thinking of plugging in your headphones for the first time, we have 20 audiobook recommendations that Carol Fitzgerald is making after months of test listening. Before March of this year, she had not listened to an audiobook. Now she is sharing some of her favorites, with brief comments on each title as to what she noted while listening!.
Click here to see our "20 Audiobook Suggestions to Get You Listening" bookshelf.

2014 Cookbooks for the Fall and Winter
Cooking is a year-round hobby for many of us at The Book Report Network...we can "ataste" to our kitchen skills. We eat peaches every which way in the summer and whip up everything pumpkin during the fall --- any time is perfect for sharing delectable homemade creations with friends and family...and hungry co-workers. That's why we are presenting a staff-curated collection of the 20 best cookbooks from the latest season. We checked out some of these books in person, and trust us completely when we say that there truly is a recipe for every kind of at-home cook amongst these culinary gems.
Click here to see our "Fall/Winter Cookbooks 2014" bookshelf.

What to Do When No Discussion Guide is Available
While we have hundreds of reading guides available, and we're adding more all the time, it occasionally happens that no guide is available for the book your group has chosen to read. It can be intimidating when it's your turn to lead the discussion and you've no idea where to begin. In order to aid your discussion and enjoyment of your group's choices, the following lists of questions can be used for those books that have no reading guide (click on the genre for questions).
How Do You Read with Your Kids? Take the Brightly Reader Survey
Do you have children or grandchildren you read with, or who read on their own? If so, we’d like to know more about what’s important to you, and how you encourage them to love reading as much as you do. Let us know by taking the Brightly Reader Survey here. You’ll also have the chance to enter to win a copy of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, the charming children's book written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Plus, sign up to be a charter member of Brightly, a community of parents and grandparents, connected by their love of reading and their dedication to inspiring that passion in their children.
Click here to take the survey.

Announcing's Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature
At, we kick off the holiday season in style with our Holiday Cheer Contests and Feature. This year’s Holiday Cheer titles include books that you want to give and get, as well as a couple of “hot” 2015 titles. The contests kick off at noon ET on select days in November and December, and run for just 24 hours, so you will have to check the site to see what is being featured. As always, we’ll be sending our special Holiday Cheer newsletter on the days when there are contests. Click here to sign up for these email alerts.

This year's featured titles are:
Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.'s Author Holiday Blogs: Authors Write About Their Favorite Holiday Memories of Giving or Receiving Books's Author Holiday Blogs are back for a SEVENTH consecutive year.From now until the start of the new year, we will be featuring new blog posts from authors every day talking about the books that they have given and received.

Thus far we have heard from Lacy Crawford, Jamie Metzl, Hazel Gaynor, Sarah Addison Allen, Camille DeAngelis, Philip Margolin, Kristin Harmel, Laura Lane McNeal and Katherine Reay. In the days ahead, you can look forward to contributions from Steve Berry, Robin Antalek, Lynne Hinton, Daniel Palmer, Amanda Eyre Ward, Kim Wright, and many more.

As always, we so appreciate all the authors who have taken the time to share these wonderful holiday memories with us.
Click here to read's 2014 Author Holiday Blogs.

New in Paperback Roundups for December

December’s roundups of New in Paperback titles include THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, Gabrielle Zevin's love letter to the world of books --- an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love; THE DEATH OF SANTINI, a powerful and intimate memoir in which Pat Conroy and his father, the inspiration for THE GREAT SANTINI, find some common ground at long last; ON SUCH A FULL SEA by Chang-rae Lee, a highly provocative, deeply affecting story of one woman’s legendary quest in a shocking, future America; ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE ASCENDANCY by Eric Van Lustbader, which finds Jason Bourne faced with an impossible mission: he has been hired to impersonate a high-level government minister at a political summit meeting in Qatar, shielding the minister from any assassination attempts; and TROUBLE IN MIND, a dazzling collection of 12 short stories from Jeffery Deaver, who proves once again his genius for the unexpected --- in his world, appearances are always deceiving.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of December 1st, December 8th, 15th and 22nd, and December 29th.


Monthly Feature: Rate Books for Book Groups
Rate the books you have read to let us know if you think they would be good selections for book groups. You can add books that you have read personally or with your book group. Share the title and the author, and please pay attention to proper spelling. Capitalize words as appropriate! All submissions will be reviewed before they are posted on Wednesday, January 7th, thus your post will not appear immediately.
Click here to rate books for book groups.

Monthly Feature: Reading Roundup

We've updated our monthly Reading Roundup feature, which highlights selected titles from Indie Booksellers (Indie Next Picks), Librarians (LibraryReads), Target and Costco. The top picks this month include US by David Nicholls, MORIARTY by Anthony Horowitz, THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin and THE IMPOSSIBLE LIVES OF GRETA WELLS by Andrew Sean Greer.

Click here for the full list of this month's Reading Roundup.

New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on

SPARE PARTS: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream by Joshua Davis
Joshua Davis’s SPARE PARTS is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country --- even as the country tried to kick them out.

WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (Memoir)
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1,100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe --- and built her back up again.

THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt (Fiction)
THE GOLDFINCH is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall (Memoir)
A true story of a unique friendship between two people who had nothing --- and ultimately everything --- in common.

PROOF OF ANGELS by Mary Curran Hackett (Fiction)
From Mary Curran Hackett --- the critically acclaimed author of PROOF OF HEAVEN --- comes an unforgettable novel about hope, renewal and the gift of angels among us.

STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova (Fiction)
STILL ALICE is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, and captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind.

TEMPTING FATE by Jane Green (Fiction)
From the New York Times bestselling author of ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART comes a riveting new novel about the events leading up to one woman's affair --- and its aftermath.

THREE MINUTES IN POLAND: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film by Glenn Kurtz (Nonfiction)
THREE MINUTES IN POLAND traces Glenn Kurtz’s remarkable journey to identify the people in a home movie he found in his parents’ closet --- that had been made by his grandfather during a 1938 European tour one year before the outbreak of World War II.

WANT YOU DEAD by Peter James (Thriller)
WANT YOU DEAD follows Red Westwood, a woman who is stalked by her ex-lover, and Detective Roy Grace who tries to crack the case in this 10th novel in the Roy Grace series.


This Month's Poll
Would you and your group be interested in attending an event in your community where upcoming book group titles are previewed?

My group already attends something like this.
Some of the members of my book group attend an event like this.
My group would be interested in this.
This is not something my group would be interested in.
I am not sure how my group would feel about this.

Click here to answer the poll by Wednesday, January 7th at noon ET.


Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107