If you follow Lori at TNBBC (The Next Best Book Club) then you’ve already heard the news!  We will be co-hosting an in-person, face-to-face, mano y mano, non-virtual, everyone-in-the-same-room-talking-about-literature book club. Our first meeting is being held at the Moravian Book Shop, located in historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Thursday, September 1st at 6:30 PM.

You may have figured out from the HUUGGE picture above – we’ll be discussing the novel Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.  If you’re from (or just in) the area we’d love for you to join us.  Want to RSVP or stay informed of the latest One Book, Two Blogs news? You can send us an email at, follow the hashtag #1B2B on Twitter or just continue watching our blogs for updates.

Hope to see you soon!

BookSexy vs. Book Club: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Last Summer I attempted to join my first book club.  Perhaps you remember this post?  And then this one?  And then nothing?  Infinite Jest was probably not a good first choice for me – particularly since I can’t stand David Foster Wallace’s fiction.  It might have gone better if I’d actually bought the book (Full Disclosure: I never got past downloading the sample onto my Kindle)… but there’s no point dwelling.  Onward!

Fortunately, the Philly Summer Book Club (as I like to call them) has forgiven me my transgressions (of which, admittedly, they didn’t know the full extent) and invited me back.  This Summer we’ll be reading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. By complete coincidence this is also a challenge on Goodreads, so I’ll be doubling down on this one.  The reading is broken up into 5 parts and we’ll be meeting in a private forum – either on Google or Goodreads, it still hasn’t been confirmed – once a week to discuss our progress.  There will also be a few physical get-togethers in the city.  I know from the time I spent lurking on the forums last Summer, pretending I was only a little behind in my reading, that the group is well run and filled with smart & funny people.  Let’s just hope I can keep up.

I’ll be posting semi-regular updates through the Summer to let everyone know how I am enjoying the book and the club.  And if anyone has a Book Club story of their own, please do share!

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Going Down to the Crossroads to Sell My Soul to David Foster Wallace

June 21st to September 22nd, 2010. Maybe some of you know the significance of those dates. If not,  I won’t keep you in suspense.  Yes, yes, I’m taking part in Infinite Summer 2010.  Perhaps I should sound more enthusiastic, but the reality is I’ve never been a Wallace fan.  But you can avoid the white elephant in the middle of the room only so long – and much like Moby Dick Infinite Jest has an indisputable spot in the American canon, making it required reading.  All 1104 pages of it.

So here is the website, and I assume you can find the Facebook page on your own.   Of course, you don’t have to join in.  No pressure.  You can always just check in periodically for updates on my progress…. and occasionally point & laugh.

Is This the Future of the Book Group? I sure hope so!

The Guardian posted an interesting article that I recommend taking a moment to read, particularly if you think of reading as a social activity (that’s what BookSexy is all about!).  The author was invited to take part in a Book Swap.  He and another writer were instructed to bring along a book to discuss, and eventually swap, with the audience.  The creative mind behind this is Scott Pack, described as one of the mavericks of the British book trade. He hosted the first event in his hometown and according to the article it was incredibly successful at creating a lively discussion/exchange between the attendees.

Pack’s idea is that a  Book Swap would be an alternative to literary festivals or author book tours.   But I could easily imagine swaps taking the place of the ubiquitous book clubs that have started to become a bit stagnant in my opinion.  Whereas I could see a swap being attractive to a more diverse audience – younger, hipper, both men and women – rather than niche groups interested in only the one author, genre or book that these events usually feature.

Here are a few benefits I see of a Book Swap over a traditional Book Club:

  • Rather than reading a specific title, you could pick a theme for the meet-up: works by a specific author, from a specific time period,  hold a poetry or art book night, bring along your favorite Pulitzer Prize winner, etc.
  • Let’s face it, everyone’s free time is limited these days. The beauty of a book swap is that no one will be obligated to read a  book that they are not interested in.  Even if someone is having a particularly hectic month, they can still take part with a book they’d read in the past.
  • The group wouldn’t be dependent on the same people showing up for every meeting. Attendance at the prior event wouldn’t be necessary, so swapping people in and out wouldn’t be disruptive
  • The atmosphere would be more cocktail party and less AA meeting.  The added bonus is it makes it more difficult for that one person (you know who I mean) to take over the floor and use the get together as their own personal therapy session.

Click here for a description of the original event hosted at a renovated & re-purposed fire station in Pack’s hometown. It gives a glimpse into his intentions and pointers on how to put together an invitation/advertisement to hold your own.

And because I want to give credit for a fabulous idea where credit is due, here is a link to Scott Pack’s blog.

The Magic of Podcasts (Redux)

The next best thing to reading a book is reading about books. Fact. But let’s face it: there are only so many hours in the day. Thankfully there are the Podcasts. (Seriously, what is sexier than an Ipod?) I subscribe to a few different ones on a variety of topics. Below are a few of my favorite literary podcasts. Needless to say (we are in a recession) they’re all free to download.

The Penguin Podcast – Beware! There are both British & American versions. My personal favorite is the British and it’s not just because of the nifty accent. Its has been a great source for new books and authors that haven’t yet made the leap across the pond. Luckily, even we Yanks can order from AmazonUK. All the books featured are published by Penguin (and eventually its American affiliates). Additional value comes from good quality production, entertaining readings by the authors and rather catchy music mixes featuring quotes from books in the Penguin library. Average time: 15 minutes per episode, with new episodes about 1-2 times a month (though lately they seem to be updating less).

Slate Audio Book club – Young, terminally hip and bordering on unacceptably smug… this podcast conforms to the Slate brand identity. The NYC group of three usually discusses a book that falls squarely into the critically acclaimed bestseller category. (Lately they’ve been reading a lot of recently deceased authors such as Updike and Wallace). Keep in mind that this is a discussion group, not a reading and not a review, so major plot points are revealed. There’s the added frustration of listening to people express opinions you don’t agree with and can’t respond to. On the plus side, it’s always informative, and a great resource for current fiction and non-fiction. Each episode lasts 1 hour.

World Book Club (The BBC) – I love the BBC (that accent again). This podcast features author interviews done in front of a live audience – doing a quick question and answer with the host and then taking audience, call in and emailed questions from readers. The authors featured are always at the top of their game. Toni Morrison, David Guterson, Iain Banks, Armistead Maupin and Michael Ondaatje are some examples. Overall the podcast is very entertaining, informative, with the added bonus of hearing the audiences’ responses, laughter and applause. Each episode lasts approximately 1 hour.

KCRW Bookworm – This is National Public Radio – kickin’ it OLD SCHOOL! Here is your chance to experience the classic author interview, done by an erudite NPR host. Expect obscure questions and inferences into the text that even the author has trouble following. Marvel at the strange emotional intonations and inappropriate pauses for emphasis as the interviewer goes on lengthy tangents that no one understands. And always expect to be faced with the age old question – who is REALLY the expert on this book? – The author or the NPR host/critic? Bookworm is a weekly radio program (more of an institution) out of California, so scheduling is consistent, shows 1 hour in length, and features a steady stream of relevant & established contemporary authors.

Short Stories (for those awful and unfortunate times when you can’t read):

The New Yorker: Fiction – The podcast features short stories from the archives of the New Yorker. The stories are guaranteed to be well written and well read. The stories are selected and read by a contemporary figure (writers, actors) – and always feature an insightful (or at least interesting) interview as to why the story was chosen. Each episode averages about a ½ hour, and they come out monthly. These are great on headset for doing chores, running errands, walking the dog or commuting to work.

PRI: Selected Shorts – Fabulous reading from members of the American Theater at the NY Symphony Space (broadcast by NY Public Radio). Each episode lasts about 1 hour and consists of a variety of short readings. One program I listened to included a short story by Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, a fairy tale and readings from Capote letters. The readers are equally as impressive, featuring the likes of John Lithgow (my personal favorite). Recommend listening while making dinner.