Hey Classics Challengers: ‘The Good Earth’ is a great gift

So people sometimes ask me, “What’s the point of your Classics Challenge?”

I usually say something like, “It’s important to expand your reading list. You can’t just read the same authors over and over, there are so many great books. You have to explore…” blah blah blah.

Good EarthNow I can boil my argument down to one book: “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck. Continue reading “Hey Classics Challengers: ‘The Good Earth’ is a great gift”

The 2015 Man Booker Prize, Part 2: Some also-rans

First, read all about my mad Man Booker Prize love here then about this year’s winner here.

Caught up? OK, here we go with brief reviews of two also-rans. These books are very different in tone, but have a lot of similarities: Both are about families and the communities they live in and both were bestsellers. There are many differences, though: One is by a first-time author and one by an old pro, one essentially a comedy and one so tragic it could be a comedy. Both are worth a read, but for different reasons.

Continue reading “The 2015 Man Booker Prize, Part 2: Some also-rans”

The 2015 Man Booker Prize: Part 1, The Winner

You may recall last year when I posed a mini challenge to readers to tackle the short list for the Man Booker Prize before the prize was announced. This year, when the long list came out in September, I thought I’d do that again, but life got in the way of reading and I realized I’d never get through those books even if I stopped doing everything I should be doing and devoted myself 24 hours a day to reading. I’ll wait for the short list, I said.

The short list came out and I quickly reserved as many of the books as I could at the library, but when they came, I knew I was tilting at windmills. Real life. Sigh. Continue reading “The 2015 Man Booker Prize: Part 1, The Winner”

The sad truth about ‘Between the World and Me’

This week Ta-Nehisi Coates won the National Book Award for nonfiction for “Between the World and Me,” a heartfelt letter he wrote to his son about being a black man in America today.

coatesI had read reviews of this book and interviews with the author, a national correspondent for The Atlantic where he writes about cultural, social and political issues, usually dealing with race. Earlier this year, he won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for his body of work, which includes this book, a memoir, “The Beautiful Struggle,” and many notable pieces for The Atlantic. Despite this research, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Continue reading “The sad truth about ‘Between the World and Me’”

The Man Booker Challenge

In 1957, my aunt and uncle went to New York City on their honeymoon to take in the Big Apple and see some Broadway shows. There was this little-known musical they passed over because they hadn’t heard much about it and it was new and they didn’t want to waste their money. That’s how they missed seeing the original cast of “West Side Story” early in its Broadway run.

I often wonder what it must have felt like to be in the audience on the opening night of a show that was a huge hit. Would I have known, for instance, that “Death of a Salesman” or “Rent” would hold the place in the American theater canon they do now or would I have been bored or underwhelmed? Continue reading “The Man Booker Challenge”