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Posts Tagged ‘JRR Tolkein’

Stephen P. Kiernan_credit Todd R. Lockwood (2)
This “3 Questions” features Stephen Kiernan author of The Hummingbird and other novels.  Mr. Kiernan’s widely praised debut novel, The Curiosity, was published in 2013 and is in development at Twentieth Century Fox for film adaptation. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop fiction MFA program and holds an MA from Johns Hopkins University. In his 25 years as a journalist, he has won more than 40 awards. He is also the author of the non-fiction books Last Rights and Authentic Patriotism. He lives in Vermont with his two sons.

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Mr. Kiernan will be visiting the Norwich Bookstore at 7 pm on Wednesday, November 11 to discuss his latest book, The Hummingbird. This novel was an Indie Bookstore pick in September 2015, with the review “’The Hummingbird’ is a powerful story about the critical role of human empathy in dealing with two important contemporary issues: hospice care and post-traumatic stress disorder. Kiernan’s characters are well-drawn and give unique perspectives on death, trauma, and providing care in difficult times. ‘The Hummingbird’ is a must-read for all who want to help loved ones die with dignity as well as for those helping veterans achieve normalcy after serving our country.” — Phyllis K Spinale, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA

The event with Mr. Kiernan is free and open to the public. However, reservations are recommended as space is limited.  Call 802-649-1114 or email info@norwichbookstore.com to save your seat.

 

1.What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

I believe reading is the foundation of learning how to write, so a great many books have educated and informed my work. Three with radically different effects would be Pan by Knut Hamsun (for structure and the power of simple language), One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marcia Marquez (because it is a great work of genius and being humbled by a book is always helpful), and Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (because it celebrates rich imagining and demonstrates how a book makes it own internal rules).
2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?
I would choose to have tea, (not coffee, as a proper Brit he would never drink coffee) with JRR Tolkien so I could ask him about turning story into myth, and investing narrative with spiritual purpose.

3.What books are currently on your bedside table?
My bedside table is covered with books about World War II and D-Day, which is in rough terms the topic of my next novel. Typically I read deeply for background and research, then put it all aside and let imagination write the book. This early part of the process is like putting extra logs in the wood stove, banking ideas to keep the house warm all night.

 

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Since in the very near future many, many people across the USA are heading to airports and getting in cars for April school vacations or for Seder and Easter dinners, we thought we would highlight a few great audio books for you to listen to during those long car rides, or to download to your devices for those plane trips. And since one of us always has young children in the mini-van making adult audio fare impractical for her, and the other Lisa’s work commute is too short for audio books these days, we also asked for help from two of our great local booksellers when we searched for audio-books intended for mostly adult audiences.

No matter where the road takes you, we truly hope you enjoy these picks. And yes, each of these picks is good in the printed form as well.

And, if you do not have a reason to listen to children’s literature, please skip to the end where there are picks just for you.

For families with pre-schoolers to 2nd graders in the car

Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne (assorted years) – Seriously, the phrases “Magic Tree House”, or “Jack and Annie”, are magic to the preschool set. These words are all you need to know to entertain pre-schoolers for hours. We promise. We have recommended these to hundreds of parents and grandparents and have yet to receive a complaint. OK we have heard one – the author, at a book a year, does not write and record fast enough. So now a synopsis of what causes all the fuss. In this series, siblings, named Jack and Annie, time travel in a magic treehouse that appears periodically in the woods near their home. While listening to these books, your kids learn a bit about all sorts of historical times and people, all while thinking they are part of an amazing adventure. You, as the adults in the car, get to know your children will not ask “are we there yet” as long as the audio-book is running. Bonus: The written versions make great early chapter books for emerging readers. ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow

For families with elementary school aged children in tow (depending upon the kids, probably best for 2nd grade and up)

Same Sun Here by Silas HouseNeela VaswaniHilary Schenker (2012) – An interesting audio book with alternating narrators reading alternating chapters telling the story of two pen pals — one in NYC and one in rural KY — and the adventures they share via printed page and letters mailed through the US Postal service. Bonus: We know it is shocking that they used pen and paper even though email was available (the novel is set just after 9-11), but maybe you can discuss how you survived the “Olden Days” before email as you listen with children. ~ Lisa Christie


Frindle (1996) or No Talking (2007) by Andrew Clements – Mr. Clements is a former elementary school teacher and principal who truly seems to understand kids, and seems to have a special place in his heart for young troublemakers. Both of these books take place in a contemporary school setting where students cause a bit of a mess for themselves and/or the adults in their lives. Listen and enjoy the humor of elementary school aged students and the adults who work with them. Bonus: If you like these books, Mr. Clements has written many, many more, and someone has recorded them all for you to hear. ~ Lisa Christie

For families needing a good book to appeal to kids in 3rd to 12th grade

The Hobbit (1937) or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1954) by JRR Tolkein – The “oh so British” narrator is superb. The content is both interesting enough for the teens in your car and adventurous enough for the elementary school aged. And since the only visuals are in their head, the plot is not too scary for most upper elementary aged kids. Bonus: You can cross some “classics” off your high schooler’s college prep reading lists. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

For families with teens and above

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama (2003) – The US President won a grammy for his reading of his autobiography.  You will win greater knowledge of his life. Pre-teens and teens can relate to his story of how hard his mother made him work at school.  Parents can ponder his comments about how parenting with his wife Michelle caused him to think hard about divisions of labor in households and the chores that typically fall on women, whether they work outside the home or not. Listen and have fun road-tripping with the President in your ear. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox (2002) – Yes, this choice may seem cheesy at first glance, but his life is full of ups and downs that make great stories (alcoholism, stardom, Parkinson’s). The book is well-written and funny. Yes, we said well-written; and yes, he admits he got some advice from his brother-in-law Michael Pollan. Bonus: Honestly, having his voice in your car is like a lovely conversation with a long lost friend or an intense introduction to someone you would like to know. ~ Lisa Christie

For times when mostly adults are listening


NOTE: These next choices are picked by our friends Liza Bernard and Carin Pratt of the Norwich Bookstore. Both have a long enough commutes to listen to numerous audio-books.

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson and read by Bill Bryson (2013) – Humorist Bill Bryson, tackles the events of 1927 in his latest book. The players include Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone. The New York Times review declares this book “a wonderful romp.” Carin’s review of the audio-book, “well done”. ~ picked by Carin 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (2013) – Carin says, this novel is “one of the best I have read this year. And, the audio version is well read.”  Both Lisas of the Book Jam loved this book about the Chechnya Conflict as well, and will review it in a post soon. ~ Picked by Carin

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibon (2013) – Katie Kitchel, another great Norwich Bookstore Bookseller, picked this novel as her staff pick recently.  To quote her – “Don’t let the slim size of this novel deceive you. It is full of haunting questions, powerful imagery, and the emotion of a mother who has lost a son. This novel seeks to remind us, that first and foremost, Mary was a mother.” Liza is now recommending the audio-book. Since it is read by Meryl Streep, we have no trouble imagining why. ~ Picked by Liza

Department Q Detective series by Jussi Adler-Olsen (assorted dates) – We have sung the praises of this Danish series in its written form. Now Carin, a very well-read woman, has told us they are delightful in their audio-book form, especially the voice of Assad, the main detective’s trusted assistant. ~ Picked by Carin

Jack Reacher Mysteries by Lee Childs (assorted dates) – “Fun, well-plotted mysteries that are well narrated in the audio form.”  Never Go Back is most recent. ~ Picked by Liza

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore.  Their responses are posted on The Book Jam during the week leading up to their engagement.  Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

We are excited to welcome author and friend Lizi Boyd, and her latest work , an enchanting picture book called Inside Outside. Ms. Boyd has written and illustrated many children’s books but her talent doesn’t stop there. She also creates other works of delight such as papers and stationery. She also notes that her dogs, Olive and Zuli, assisted in the making of Inside Outside.  Other reviewers agree with us that Inside Outside is lovely and inspired.  Publishers Weekly says, “The story’s greatest charm is in its portrait of a boy who lives alone and is constantly (yet tranquilly) busy.”  We are proud to note that she lives in our hometown of Norwich, Vermont.

Ms. Boyd will appear at the Norwich Bookstore on March 30th from 10 am to noon.  While the book is geared to preschoolers, all ages will enjoy it and all are welcome during this event.  And, this time, no reservations are required though you can call (802) 649-1114 to pre-order your signed copy of Inside Outside.

 1. What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

I loved books by EB White; Mistress Masham’s Repose, by TH White,  JRR Tolkein and the little books by Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendack.  I was given a collection of poems by ee cummings when I was twelve; short verse and small images were strong influences.  Our house was filled with art books and artists and at 13 I was given a modern Danish desk. The top drawer was filled with small, spiral bound sketchbooks and I’ve been filling little books since then.

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?  I’d like to have tea with Ursula Nordstrom.  She was the director of Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls.  There is a wonderful book of her letters, Dear Genius, filled with her encouragement to many: Sendak, Gorey, C. Hurd, Margaret Wise Brown, EB White and on and on. You can hear Nordstrom’s wonderful voice so it’s as intimate as sharing tea.

3. What books are currently on your bedside table?

I have stacks of books by my bed, so plenty of choices. Winter reading is varied – warming the room, filling it and quieting it too. Diving Belles by Lucy Wood; Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardham; The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny; Winter World by Bernard d Heinrich; The Best of It by Kay Ryan; The Diaries of Paul Klee; Edora Welty.

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