Category Archives: Book News

Mayor of Failure

too many books.


Book Banter: The Body Reader

body readerTitle: The Body Reader

Author: Anne Frasier

Genre: Mystery/thriller

Length: 329 pages

Where Bethany’s copy came from: ARC from the author

Plot Basics: Minneapolis Detective Jude Fontaine manages to escape the brutal captivity she’s been in for three years after an abduction. While no one thinks it’s a good idea, Jude goes back to work for the police with her new partner, Uriah Ashby. When a young woman turns up dead, they must learn to trust each other to stop another killer.

Banter Points: Frasier delivers a fantastic new book. The starting point (Jude escaping) is unique in the set-up of unstable detective. I found myself turning pages because I wanted to know if Jude was strong enough to continue to endure all the things Frasier was throwing at her.

Bummer Points: Jude isn’t the most likeable character, but that’s a deliberate choice. Frasier makes her sympathetic enough to want to see how she turns out but not a new-best-friend sort of a fictional friend way.

Word Nerd Recommendation: This is a 2016 beach book. Sometimes, I classify books as “beach books” as a belittling term (this is only fun if you’re distracted on a beach,”) but that’s not at all how I mean it. It’s a consuming mystery that makes for perfect summer entertainment.

2015 Tournament of Books

roosterThe Rooster has returned for 2015!

Forget basketball. The one bracket I’m glued to in March is The Morning News’ Tournament of Books.

I’ll let you in on my secret: This is my annual literary fiction cheat sheet.

Literary fiction is good stuff just like mystery books are good stuff, though for totally different reason. Literary fiction is just not my genre of choice and the ToB helps me catch up.

Last year, I loved reading why the judges advanced Philip Meyer’s “The Son,” Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life,” and James McBride’s “The Good Lord Bird.” When I’ve thought about reading them, I feel satiated from the ToB write-ups.

With Monday’s launch of the 2015 ToB, I get a good helping of why David Mitchell’s “The Bone Clocks” is so good. Should I try to carve the time to read it for myself. Sure. But will I? Unlikely, because ToB gives me enough to hold my own at a cocktail party and talk about it with a level of false authority. Really, Bone Clocks is OK until that chapter 5 and then, I was out.

I’ve said it before about ToB. It lets me be a literary poseur.

Every year, I have a good intention to read the winning book, at least. I’ve yet to pick one up. Maybe 2015 will be the year. Or maybe I’ll have another host of great books to talk about without having cracked the cover open on any of them.


The Big Read

TBR-Logo-BWLast January, during the mega snow-and-cold event, I was working from home on a grant to the National Endowment for the Arts to host The Big Read at The Indianapolis Public Library.

The event launches next Wednesday, March 11, and I’m excited to be part of the team that made it happen here. We are one of 77 libraries or nonprofits around the country that were selected to participate during 2014-2015.

Join us at Central Library in Indy at 10 a.m. on 3/11 for a media event, or at 6 p.m. for the opening reception and event kick-off.

Check out this full list of event happenings, grab your copy of the book and read along!

Perhaps the Best Potter Movie Yet

snapeI only watched the first couple of Harry Potter movies, after deciding to stand by my long tradition of not watching movies when I had already read the book.

But this compilation at Dorkly was by far the best and makes me reconsider my stand on the later movies.

Severus Snape is a complicated chatacter, leading a double life for many years, risking more than many others in the Fight against Voldemort. His story is really one of heart ache and love, not fear and hatred. Since it is told from Harry’s point of view, we too feel as Harry does and learn to hate Snape. By the end, we see Snape for what he truly was and this video really brought it home.  It’s a bit long, less than 15 minutes, and worth it.

Thanks to @longshotauthor for tweeting this one.

Book Sale

booksale panoramaFor the Word Nerd readers in Indianapolis, a reminder that the Indy Library Store August Book Sale kicks off on Friday with Friends of the Library night from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The sale continues this Saturday and Sunday and next week on Thursday-Saturday.

Hardbacks are $2, juvenile hardbacks are $1, paperbacks are $.50.

If you aren’t in Indy, make sure you find out if and when your Library or Friends of the Library group has a used book sale. The profits go back into Library programs and help libraries do something useful with material they discard from their collections.

Come find some new-to-you reading material!


My March brackets

If you want a post about basketball picks, this isn’t it.

This is the post where I declare my love for geeky brackets like The Morning News’ Tournament of Books and WHYY’s NPR v. PBS bracket. For people who like actual brackets, they’ve got them for both: Tournament of Books and Public Media.pbsmadness_brackets

I stumbled on ToB last year because of work. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was in the running. Since Mr. Green was the 2012 Indiana Authors Award National Author winner, I was keeping tabs on the competition to follow his tournament bid. (He didn’t win).

But along the way, I read a lot of great reviews of other books.

The ToB last year didn’t really inspire me to ever pick up any of the titles. The winner was a book about North Korea and I will admit to being an escapist reader to the point where a book like that sounded too… much.

I can’t promise I’ll read this year’s winner… depends on what it is. “Life After Life” is in the tournament, as is “Eleanor & Park.” “Eleanor & Park” is in my library hold list and the concept of “Life” intrigues me. My prediction is that E&P won’t do well… try a first-round elimination. It’s no TFiOS, from what I’ve gleaned online.

Thanks to @NPRGenListen, I found WHYY’s Public Media Persona bracket which pits PBS regulars (Bert and Ernie, the Dowager Countess and Mister Rogers, etc) and NPR regulars (Garrison Keillor, Click and Click and Scott Simon, etc). On the NPR side, Scott Simon, Peter Sagal and Kai Ryssdal all have good Twitter followings, so that could definitely sway things to their advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the three of them up against the Dowager in the finals. Nostalgia could sway the PBS side though, with entrants like Lawrence Welk and Carl Sagan. And then there’s wild card Bob Ross.

These brackets are my childhood and my morning/evening listening pitted against each other, really. While other cheer on basketball teams, I’ll be cheering on these brackets.


NoiseTrade Books

noisetradeNoiseTrade — the music sampler site — has now launched a division for books.

It’s the same idea, authors can put partial or full books (just like partial or full albums for musicians) on NoiseTrade. People like me then come and search and download the things we’re interested in. If we’re feeling flush, we might leave a tip.

I’ve found some great tunes through NoiseTrade, so I decided to kick the tires of the books site.

I was thrilled to see the first book in Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga… except when I sent myself the download code, I saw it was really an excerpt. Next (and unsurprisingly) were Cory Doctorow titles I’ve had my eye on. I heard him speak twice (three times?) at ALA 2013, about YA books and maker spaces and net neutrality. That he’d made his work available here gave me a good feeling at first about the idea. I downloaded both “Little Brother” and “Homeland.” “Little Brother” worked just fine, but “Homeland” wouldn’t open. (Strike two for a technical glitch.)

I perused the catalog and recognized only one other title — a self-published work that a friend gave me because he’s college friends with the author.

The whole concept leaves me a bit on the fence. I don’t know how NoiseTrade curates the music, or now books, that it’s putting up. I get that self-published authors have work that they want to promote. I really hope there’s a set of guidelines that NoiseTrade is using for its selection, that the things they are giving away are quality to make the whole enterprise work better.

Mostly, I’m wondering for me about the over-saturation of this idea. I have a NetGalley account and general steer clear, because I get sucked down the rabbit hole of “oh, look at this book” and then never read it. I’m not sure that’s helpful for anyone… the writer or me.

Do service like NetGalley or NoiseTrade help you find books you want to read, or do you download for the sake of “someday I’ll read it?”

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2013: A reading success

Last year – 2013 – was a banner year for The Word Nerds.  Each of us topped 100 books, a first for Bethany and a first in a long-time achievement for me.  In my typical fashion, I had several books in progress towards the end of the year, which positions me well for a grand total in January, but that’s a bit preemptive for today.

In 2013, I read 102 books or 36,648 pages.  Two series topped 13 books each – Sookie Stackhouse and Reacher.  Mercy Thompson and The Parasol Protectorate were a close finish at 7 and 5 books each.

I’ve been itching to re-read the Dresden files.  I LOVE Harry Dresden (sorry, honey, he has a larger than should be spot in my heart.  Especially since he is a fictional character.) Book 15 in that series is scheduled for 2014 and I can justify it that way.

I believe I need to re-read the Potter series.  My 10-year-old finally picked these up and is reading through them at a good clip.  He is currently on Goblet of Fire, after 3 or 4 months of reading.  Like his mom, he usually has a couple of books going at once.

Last week, I declared that I would start listening to audio books instead of podcasts.  I found a new series to listen to for that activity:  Kate Wilhelm’s Barabara Holloway series which is a legal thriller.  And, as always, my TBR is packed full of titles that I will be turning to as well.

2014 will also mark the reading of 500,000 page (yes, listened to books are counted in that stat.  There’s a long discussion around this and I fall into the metric side where my metric is page count and book count.)  The end of 2013 was as 484,077 pages.  I figure I should cross 500,000 in May.  If I’m ahead, it will be April.

What reading goals to you have for 2014?  What should I be adding to that TBR? After all, I am going to shrink it this year!


1,000th Book

bookshelf fullOne-thousand books.

The next book is the 1,000th book on my ongoing Books I’ve Read list. (The “my” here belongs to Bethany… I swapped days with Stacie specifically for this post.)

I started it in 2002 when I was a senior in college. Since then, I’ve been dedicated to this habit. I keep the initial list in my journal and then transfer it to one giant Excel spreadsheet. In Excel, I track pages read and average count and other geeky statistics.

A few weeks back, I mentioned on FB that I was getting close to 1,000 books and somebody suggested a poll. I was reluctant, thinking that I’d get stuck with something I had no interest in reading.

At first, I thought I’d let book 1000 just come up naturally in the Eight-Up sequence. Eight-up is all things I want to read, why do anything different for this title?

But… the 1,000th book. That’s a milestone. That deserves care and attention, not just random probability.

I thought about titles that I really like, books that are special or that I’ve wanted to read or reread for a while. Because I like the bit of randomness (and because I would agonize over this choice) I decided a poll was the right way to go after all.

Here’s an explanation of my choices and then you can vote. December 10 is my cut-off for the vote, I expect. If I’m ready for book 1000 sooner than that, whichever book is in the lead at that time will win.

The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien: I reread Fellowship earlier this fall and I want to keep going with the series. The reason for Tolkien should be obvious.

The End of the Affair, Graham Greene: I love Greene’s work, particularly his Catholic novels, of which this is one. I’ve been meaning to reread this for years and just haven’t yet, so on the list it goes.

Idlewild, Nick Sagan: I love this series. I stumbled on to it on a New Books shelf in the Oshkosh Public Library. Nick was then one of my first Author Answers posts back when Word Nerds was first getting started. I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while.

A Long Day’s Dying, Frederick Buechner: I read half of this book at the Library of Congress when I was a student in DC. It was the only copy I could find at that point in any library I knew of. I never finished it. Later, I asked for a copy for Christmas, received it, and the book is still unread on my shelf. Buechner is a favorite and the only book on the Eight-Up list that I’ve added to the poll.

The poll randomizes the choices and my list shouldn’t be an indication of how I want you to vote. It’s just a list.