Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth StroutYet more acclaim for Robert Bolano‘s 2666.

It made the National Book Critics Circle‘s list of finalists for its 2008 awards.

The other titles rounding out the finalists in the fiction category are Marilynne Robinson‘s Home; Aleksandar Hemon‘s The Lazarus Project; M. Glenn Taylor‘s The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart; and Elizabeth Strout‘s Olive Kitteridge.

Noticeably absent is Toni Morrison‘s A Mercy, which received lots of buzz last year — including a spot on both The New York Times‘ and The Washington Post‘s lists of top 10 books for 2008.

Click here for the rest of the finalists in the categories of poetry, criticism, biography, autobiography, and nonfiction.


barack_obama_reading1In the spirit of the inaugural celebration, here’s a post devoted to President-Elect Barack Obama’s love of reading. He himself has written two critically-acclaimed books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, attesting to his appreciation of the power of words.

Culled from a variety of sources (see some articles on the topic at the end of the post), here’s a list of some of the books that Barack Obama has voiced his appreciation for:




And Barack Obama himself is no stranger to being a widely-read and renowned writer; his books spent time at the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list and a signed first edition copy of Dreams from My Father sold on for $5,500.

To read more about Barack Obama’s literary tastes, read “Barack by the books” at and “From books, new president found voice” at New York Times.

A History of ReadingIt may sound silly, but I really enjoy reading about reading. Perhaps I enjoy these types of books because they introduce the pleasure of reading through someone else’s eyes, or they push me to approach reading in a different way. Or maybe I just like the books because I love the subject so much.

Regardless, here are three very interesting reads on reading, and books.

On Writing and Reading

  • Aspects of the Novel, by E.M. Forster — gleaned from Forster’s series of talks on such aspects as “The Plot” and “The Story,” the survey of novels is widely considered to a best nonfiction work of the 20th century
  • Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books…, by Francine Prose — she uses thought-provoking passages from Austen, Dostoevsky, le Carre, et al. to identify the elements that make great fiction
  • A History of Reading, by Alberto Manguel — a treasure trove of tid-bits related to the subject of reading throughout the ages, including personal stories and historical illustrations; a delight for any serious reader

Have any to add?

I try to keep up with book reviews when I have time, but it’s rare that I do find the time. That’s why I love year-end lists — book editors distill the thousands of titles published each year into a list of what they think are the titles most worthy of attention.

Here’s a collection of some book editors’ picks of the best of 2008.

The New York Times



The Washington Post



NPR has an extensive guide to the best books of 2008 — broken down into categories such as crime and mystery novels, litterary letters, and foreign fiction.

Publisher’s Weekly also has a great list, in accessible categories such as fiction, nonfiction, mystery, and mass market.

Historical fiction is my favorite genre of literature. There’s nothing better than reading a great story while soaking in some of the culture and events of a place removed both in time and space. I’ve read a lot of the stuff, and these ten titles round out my favorites. I’m always looking for new suggestions; if there’s something you think I should read, leave a comment!

It’d also be nice to get first editions of these novels, but for some of them — like Gone With the Wind — that just ain’t happening.

  1. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  2. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
  3. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
  4. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
  5. The Eight, by Katherine Neville
  6. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden
  7. Jubilee Trail, by Gwen Bristow
  8. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  9. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  10. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

Every time I considered starting my own blog, I realized I didn’t have much to say. My life is fine enough, but extemely boring compared to the offerings of reality TV.

Lately I’ve picked up a new hobby — book collecting. I’ve read some books about book collecting, and spent the requisite hours prowling the aisles of cramped and musty used bookstores. And it occured to me — why not blog about it? So here it is: A blog about buying books, having books, and reading books. Pretty simple.

I am by no means an expert. In fact, I’m a complete “noob” in Internet lingo, so if you have any knowledge, share what you know! And if you don’t, we can learn together.