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November 2010 Newsletter November 2010
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Plan to Read This, Unexpected Choices and New Venues

One of the pleasures of my job is that I get to “read ahead.” I am constantly reading with an eye on which of our website audiences in that a title may appeal to. I often choose to share information about books that are not yet published so you can make note of them, pre-order them or reserve them from your local library.

Last weekend I read a book that is coming on January 4th that I want to get on your radar now as I can see book clubs loving it. It’s called Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, who many of you will remember as the author of Still Alice, a favorite book of mine from two years ago. Sarah Nickerson had a busy life --- a husband, three kids (one a baby), a high-powered job and a long commute where she always tried to fit in one more thing. Well, she’s flying down the Mass Pike one morning trying to make a call when she looks up and sees a string of red lights in front of her --- stopped traffic. She cannot stop and rolls her car. When she awakens, she soon realizes she does not recognize the entire left side of her body; something called left neglect, hence the title of the book. Once again Genova has brought readers a compelling story, and I dare you to pick up your BlackBerry while driving once you finish it. Mine’s been buried in my handbag as soon as I turn on the ignition since I started reading it!

To give you the opportunity, like me, to read ahead, this month we have two special contests for readers to preview books that won’t be available until 2011. We have 100 copies of Eleanor Brown’s debut novel, The Weird Sisters, about a trio of sisters --- all named after famous Shakespearean characters --- who return home to care for their ailing mother and Shakespeare-obsessed father. The Weird Sisters won’t be in stores until January 20th, but you can win an advance copy by entering here by Wednesday, December 1st at noon ET.

We also have 100 copies of Meg Wolitzer’s next book, The Uncoupling. The book takes place at a high school that will be staging “Lysistrata,” the comedic play by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with their men in order to stop a war. As the production gets going at the school, many of the women involved --- teachers, faculty and students --- begin examining their own relationships. Meg’s previous novel, The Ten-Year Nap, was a New York Times bestseller, and The Uncoupling is scheduled to hit stores in April. Enter here by Wednesday, December 1st at noon ET for your chance to win one of our 100 advance reader editions.

It’s been a busy, busy fall for my Bets On picks at our other site, I made four picks during October, all of which would be great book club selections. These include Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, The Brave by Nicholas Evans, and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, which was the first Young Adult book I’ve ever named as a Bets On. The fourth selection from October was The Wave: In Search of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey. While The Wave is not the kind of book I would expect a book club to read, I actually know of a group that only reads nonfiction and will be reading it this weekend. We plan to interview them on why they made this selection and have that for our next update. We have the guide here. If your group is reading and discussing one of our featured titles, please let us know. We’d love to have your feedback and possibly arrange an interview. You can also share some details about your group, its history, favorite reads and discussion rituals by completing our interview form here.

One more book I want to shed some light on is The Night Bookmobile, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger. Of course, Audrey is best known for her bestselling book club favorite, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and her latest novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, but fans will want to check out The Night Bookmobile. It’s about a young woman who stumbles across a bookmobile one night and discovers inside is her own personal library, comprised of every book she’s ever read. The story is a special one for any booklover. I found myself trying to picture my own library. I love to see authors take a chance and work outside their usual mediums, and that’s exactly what Audrey does with The Night Bookmobile. You can read an interview with her on here, as well as a review. There's also a special contest where you can win a copy by entering here.

We are also featuring two nonfiction titles I’m really excited about. The first is Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel, which I’ve mentioned here before. Michael teaches a class by the same name at Harvard, which has become so popular that the school has begun webcasting the class to alumni and archiving some lectures as episodes here. There will be a special web event open to the public this Sunday, November 7th that will allow readers to interact with Michael in real time and experience his class. You can get more details about the web event and register here. You can also visit the class’s website here. Justice raises a lot of interesting questions about society and would make for a passionate book club discussion. I’m planning to participate, and I hope some of you do, too!

Our second featured nonfiction title this month is My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Most of you probably know Conroy as the author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini and last year’s South of Broad. In My Reading Life, he discusses all his writing influences over the years, starting from a very young age when his mother used to read to him. I always love hearing and reading about an author’s inspirations, influences and favorite books, and for an author of Conroy’s stature to open up like this will be a real treat.

Conroy will be one of the dozens of authors appearing at the Miami Book Fair International, which will run from November 14th-21st. This is one of my favorite events of the year as it’s a great way to meet authors, learn about new titles and just be surrounded by books and readers! If you live in the Miami area or are looking for an excuse to leave the chilly weather for a week, the Miami Book Fair is a great option. The programming schedule was just announced, and you can check it out here. If you’re planning to attend, you can check out some travel and hotel deals here. There’s quite a lineup of authors with a range as wide as President George W. Bush and Jay-Z scheduled to appear! Other authors include Dave Eggers, Nora Ephron, Jonathan Franzen, Carl Hiaasen, Susan Isaacs, Sebastian Junger, Sue Miller and Walter Mosley. There are also some great first-time novelists, like Heidi W. Durrow and Karl Marlantes, visiting, speaking and signing. You can check out the complete author list here. I will be there for a sixth time this year. If you are planning to attend, drop me a note at

Jonathan Franzen is another author scheduled to appear at the Miami Book Fair. As you all know by now, his bestseller Freedom was the most recent Oprah pick, and likely the last she will make before she changes networks. Oprah will interview Franzen on her November 29th show. This should be interesting, considering their history. Get more information about the show and submit a question here.

Speaking of authors making appearances, I got a note from Mimi who runs The Needle Lady yarn shop in Charlottesville, VA, one of my favorite stores. Tonight they are hosting an event where Kate Jacobs, the author of The Friday Night Knitting Club and Knit the Season (now available in paperback), will be talking via Skype to Kate in a specially convened Friday Night Knitting Club at the store. We will be interviewing Mimi about this event and will have that for you next month. I have not forgotten about my plans for a Read One, Knit Too promotion. Maureen, our Research and Special Projects Coordinator, and I am working on them!

This month we’ve added 24 reading guides, including The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, which was just awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Also, this month we have the guide for Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, which releases in paperback on November 9th. Adriana also has a new hardcover coming out on the 9th called Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons From My Grandmothers. Looking for a great holiday-themed title? Then consider The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry. We also have the guide for The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp, a historical novel about a former top Russian ballerina reflecting on her life in the ballet, which has been getting some great reviews.

This month’s contest book is Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, my first Bets On pick of the year, which is now out in paperback.

The holidays are coming…the holidays are coming. We’re planning something special for our Holiday Cheer Contests on --- featured contests where on select days you may win bonus surprises. I know I am dating myself here, but remember those game shows with things like the Daily Double where suddenly a special prize was awarded at random? Well, that is what we are planning. These contests will not just happen once a week, but rather several times a week. Want to be sure you are aware of the contest on a particular day? Then click here now and sign up for special newsletter alerts about these contests. We’ll also have our What to Give/What to Get guide going up next Friday, and on the 19th we will start sharing a third year of author holiday blogs on

Whew…lots of books for you to consider for group reading, lots of pre-holiday excitement to get signed up for, and before we meet again on this page --- there will be turkey! We’re giving thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving season; thanks for being a part of

Happy Thanksgiving!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Click here to sign up for's Holiday Cheer Featured Book and Contest Alerts.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of THE UNCOUPLING by Meg Wolitzer for Your Group

We are previewing next year’s release of The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer --- a novel from the bestselling author of The Ten-Year Nap about love lives gone awry at a high school --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of the book, which will be in stores April 5, 2011, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, December 1st at noon ET.

More about The Uncoupling:
When the elliptical new drama teacher at Stellar Plains High School chooses for the school play “Lysistrata” --- the comedy by Aristophanes in which women stop having sex with men in order to end a war --- a strange spell seems to be cast over the school. Or, at least, over the women. One by one throughout the high school community, perfectly healthy, normal women and teenage girls turn away from their husbands and boyfriends in the bedroom, for reasons they don't really understand. As the women worry over their loss of passion, and the men become by turns unhappy, offended, and above all, confused, both sides are forced to look at their shared history, and at their sexual selves in a new light.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown for Your Group

We are previewing next year’s release of The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown --- a debut novel about the complicated terrain of sisters, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of the book, which will be in stores January 20, 2011, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, December 1st at noon ET.

More about The Weird Sisters:
The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from --- one another, their small hometown, and themselves --- might offer more than they ever expected.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Now Available in Paperback: JUSTICE: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel

Harvard government professor Michael J. Sandel dazzles in this sweeping survey of hot topics --- the recent government bailouts, the draft, surrogate pregnancies, same-sex marriage, immigration reform and reparations for slavery --- that situates various sides in the debates in the context of timeless philosophical questions and movements.

-Click here to register for a special web event with Michael J. Sandel, taking place on Sunday, November 7th at 5PM EST/2PM PST.
-Click here to learn more about Michael J. Sandel's "Justice" class.


Click here to read the guide for Justice.


Beloved, bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life. Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity.

Click here to read the guide for My Reading Life.

In Paperback November 9th: BRAVA, VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
When Valentine's grandmother begins a new life in Italy, she places Valentine and her nemesis, her brother Alfred, "the Prince," as partners at the Angelini Shoe Company, makers of handcrafted wedding shoes since 1903. A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she unearths a long-buried family secret and finds herself torn between a past love that nurtured her and a new one that promises to sustain her, in this follow-up to Very Valentine.
Click here to read the guide for Brava, Valentine.

THE PERFECT LOVE SONG: A Holiday Story, by Patti Callahan Henry

In The Perfect Love Song, Patti Callahan Henry tells the story of Jimmy Sullivan, who has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and their band The Unknown Souls. The road is Jimmy’s only home and music his only savior until he falls in love with a beautiful girl, Charlotte Carrington. Spending time with Charlotte inspires Jimmy to write a love song for her, which becomes an overnight sensation and is dubbed “The Perfect Love Song.”

Click here to read the guide for The Perfect Love Song.

COMPASS ROSE by John Casey

It’s been more than two decades since Spartina won the National Book Award and was acclaimed by critics as being “possibly the best American novel…since The Old Man and the Sea” (The New York Times Book Review). But in this extraordinary follow-up novel, barely any time has passed in the magical landscape of salt ponds and marshes in John Casey’s fictional Rhode Island estuary. With an uncanny ability to plunge confidently and unwaveringly into the thoughts and desires of women --- mothers, daughters, wives, lovers --- Casey astonishes us again with the power of a family saga.

Click here to read the guide for Compass Rose.



Julian Treslove, a professionally unspectacular former BBC radio producer, and Sam Finkler, a popular Jewish philosopher, writer and television personality, are old school friends. Despite a prickly relationship and very different lives, they've never quite lost touch with each other --- or with their former teacher, Libor Sevcik, a Czech always more concerned with the wider world than with exam results. The Finkler Question is a scorching story of friendship and loss, exclusion and belonging, and of the wisdom and humanity of maturity. Funny, furious and unflinching, this extraordinary novel shows one of our finest writers at his brilliant best.

Click here to read the guide for The Finkler Question. Bets On: THE WAVE, CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER, THE BRAVE and REVOLUTION

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey (September 14th): I read The Wave by Susan Casey about a month ago when it first came out, and thus I am a tad late selecting it as a Bets On. I was not thinking about it for this distinction, but then I realized that I consistently am bringing this book up in conversation when I talk about what I am reading with booksellers, librarians, friends, and okay, just about everyone I come in contact with. What’s been interesting is how this book about waves and where they come from and big wave surfing has led to passionate conversations with folks I never thought would love it, as in people like me who are not going to be jumping on a surfboard any time soon.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about The Wave.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for The Wave.
-Click here to read a review of The Wave.
-Click here to read an excerpt from
The Wave.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (October 5th): Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is the story of two childhood friends whose lives change dramatically after one unforgettable night --- and how the events of that one evening will shape their lives until circumstances plunge them together again.
The book has strong, well-crafted characters who are flawed and imperfect, but will have you rooting for them. The rich descriptions of setting and place, coupled with an honest and well-drawn plot, make this a book you will both savor and remember.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.
-Click here to read a review of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.


The Brave by Nicholas Evans (October 12th): Nicholas Evans has been a favorite author of mine for years. He writes brilliantly about human emotion and the human spirit. While he is best known for The Horse Whisperer, I still am haunted by the story in The Divide, which brilliantly explored the unraveling of a marriage. There are lines he has written there that are brutally honest and refreshingly stark and bold. In each of his books, he treads into relationships that work only because he is brave enough to go there. And thinking of this, I realize how apt it is that his new book is called The Brave.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about The Brave.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for The Brave.
-Click here to read a review of The Brave.
-Visit Nicholas Evans’s official website,

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (October 12th): Revolution is my first Young Adult Bets On selection. At a time when we see more and more adults reading young adult titles, this is one with clear crossover appeal. It’s set in both the present day and the French Revolution. History class is many years behind me at this point, but I found myself getting a wonderful refresher about Paris two centuries ago that made the city during the French Revolution come alive for me through the meticulous research of Jennifer Donnelly, who many of you know from her two adult novels, The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about Revolution.
-Click here to read a review of Revolution.
-Click here to read an excerpt from
Click here to see all the titles is betting you'll love.'s New in Paperback Roundup for November
November’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes U is for Undertow, the continuation of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series, which follows the private eye as she tries to solve the 16-year-old case of a missing girl with the aid of a man’s repressed childhood memory; Rainwater, Sandra Brown’s moving story of a young woman’s struggle to survive the ravages of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression; House Rules by Jodi Picoult, the troubling tale of a boy with Asperger’s syndrome --- and the unique ability to understand forensic analysis --- who suddenly is accused of murder; Brava, Valentine, Adriana Trigiani’s sequel to Very Valentine, which finds her heroine traveling the world in pursuit of a once-in-a-lifetime business venture, only to discover a long-buried family secret; Triple Cross by Mark T. Sullivan, in which a former U.S. special agent tries to save his children from the clutches of a heavily armed paramilitary force that has taken them hostage at an isolated resort for the elite; and The War by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, a compelling, photo-enriched account of 40 individuals whose lives were touched --- and irrevocably changed --- by World War II.
Click here to see's New in Paperback feature for November.

What's New on the Blog

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Book Club Idea: Heroine Chic
-More Award Winning Books for Book Club

-Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark: Read This Next
-What's Your Bookprint?
-Top 5 Mysteries for Book Clubs
-Mary Sharratt: Daughters of the Witching Hill
-Meet Mario Vargas Llosa - Nobel Prize Winner
-Discussing Logicomix: An Epic Search for the Truth
-Top 10 Creepy Books for Book Clubs
-A Book Lovers Calendar

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page. Also, receive updates by email here. The blog is also shared on the Facebook page.

Click here to read the Blog.

New Guides Now Available

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani: Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani returns with her second installment in her popular Valentine series, which finds Valentine on her way to South America.
The Brave by Nicholas Evans: The beloved author of The Horse Whisperer returns to the American West with a filmmaker trying to make amends with his tangled past.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: Pulitzer Prize-winner Stacy Schiff explores the exotic, mysterious life of Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.
Compass Rose by John Casey: John Casey returns to the Rhode Island estuary that was the setting for his acclaimed novel, Spartina.
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson: This year’s Man Booker Prize winner follows three friends as they retrace missteps through their personal lives.
Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley: An intimate look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency and the influence of his wife, Eleanor.
In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide by Nancy Rappaport: A professor of psychiatry at Harvard explores her mother’s devastating suicide and the factors that motivated it.
Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel: Inspired by Michael J. Sandel’s popular Harvard class, Justice raises a number of philosophical and moral dilemmas.
Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner: The lives of two women are linked across centuries when one finds a ring with a strange inscription in modern-day Manhattan.
Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A Memoir by Kaylie Jones: A memoir of growing up as part of the New York City literati.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy: The beloved bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini discusses the books and writers that influenced his life and shaped his career.|
Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love
by Larry Levin: The heartwarming story of Oogy, a badly beaten puppy on the brink of death rescued by Larry Levin’s family.
The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry: A struggling singer writes “the perfect love song” and finds fame and fortune, but not the lady who inspired the hit.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman: A young girl is taken in by her raucos aunt and receives an education from the citizens of a Southern town during the civil rights movement.
Spooner by Pete Dexter: A man and his stepfather try to form a relationship despite their many differences, opinions and lifestyles.
Stronger Than Sin by Caridad Piñeiro: A doctor’s cutting-edge procedure gives an NFL star superhuman powers.
The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp: A former top ballerina in the Russian ballet recounts her life, career, romances and the cutthroat dancing world.
The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer: The love lives of high school students, teachers and faculty are turned upside down when they begin rehearsing a classic play.
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown: Three sisters return home to their ailing mother and Shakespeare-obsessed father to confront each other and their pasts.
The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent: Newlyweds in colonial Massachusetts confront the rugged landscape, woodlands predators and assassins seeking revenge.

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag: An FBI investigator uses controversial methods to stop a serial killer before the killer strikes again.
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown: Dan Brown's follow-up to the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code has symbologist Robert Langdon tracking Masonic codes through Washington, D.C.
Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky: Three teens make a pregnancy pact during their senior year of high school, dividing a small town and garnering national media attention.
Notes Left Behind by Brooke and Keith Desserich: A couple recounts their six-year-old daughter's courageous battle against cancer in emotional detail.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier: A woman's discovery gains attention from the religious and scientific communities, as well as an unlikely suitor.
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova:
A psychiatrist extends beyond his legal and ethical
boundaries while treating a troubled painter.

The following new guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry: The enchanting story of an oddball musician and the guardian angel charged with watching him.
Code Triage: Mercy Hospital Series, Book 3 by Candace Calvert: A desperate act of violence puts the hospital staff on high alert in the third book of the Mercy Hospital series.
Emily’s Chance: The Callahans of Texas, Book 2 by Sharon Gillenwater: A young woman has her sights set on a move to the big city, but not if her cowboy suitor has his way.
Pursuit of Justice: Call of Duty Series, Book 3 by DiAnn Mills: A special agent investigates a murder along the Texas border, only to discover the killer is linked to her past.


This Month's Poll

On average, how would you grade your book club’s discussions?

I’m not in a book club.


Click here to answer our poll.

This Month's Contest Book: SAVING CEECEE HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman

Win a copy of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman for your reading group!

To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the
newsletter by December 1, 2010. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:
Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille --- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town --- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

Click here to read contest details and rules.


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Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald (

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