Finalists for the Kirkus Prize

The Kirkus Prize awards $50,000 to winners of the fiction, nonfiction, and young reader’s categories.  The Kirkus Reviews is an 81 year old magazine that reviews over 7,000 books a year.  It has been an integral part of the publishing since its founding. is a fabulous source of reviews on brand news books in numerous genres.  Here are this years finalists:


The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Euphoria by Lily King

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science by Armand Marie Leroi

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Young Readers’ Literature:

El Deafo written and illustrated by Cece Bell

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Byrant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza Books) Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

The Story of Owen

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnson

The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual written and illustrated by  Kate Samworth


Ranking Haruki Murakami’s Books

Haruki Murakami’s new book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage  was recently released to wide acclaim.  Murakami is not only recognized as one of the greatest writers of his generation, but also one of the most unique.  To the dismay of Japanese literary critics, Murakami has been strongly influenced by several Western writers including Raymond Carver, J.D. Salinger, Franz Kafka, and Kurt Vonnegut.  Despite his Western influences, Murakami’s books are still strongly influenced by his Japanese heritage.  Matthew Carl Strecher argues that while Murakami is a Japanese author, “he is also a global one” whose works should be seen as “as examinations of questions that concern all humanity.”

Ranking Murakami’s books is a foolhardy task.  Even the worst Murakami book (if there is such a thing) is better than most authors’ best book.  In other words, it is almost impossible to go wrong when you pick up one of his books.

Here’s our rankings:

 1.  A Wild Sheep Chase

 2.  Norwegian Wood (Vintage International)

 3.  After the Quake: Stories

 4.  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

 5.  Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

 6.  Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (Vintage International)

 7.  1Q84

 8.  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

 9.  Kafka on the Shore

 10.  Hear the Wind Sing

 11.  Pinball, 1973

 12.  Dance Dance Dance

 13.  What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

 14.  After Dark (Vintage International)

 15.  South of the Border, West of the Sun: A Novel

 16.  The Elephant Vanishes: Stories

 17.  Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Here’s the link to the Publishers Weekly Rankings of Murakami’s books by Matthew Carl Strecher who has written several books on Murakami, Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Haruki Murakami, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Reader’s Guide, and the upcoming The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami. Slate also has an article where they recommend the five Murakami books you should read first.

Which American Novels Should Have Won the Booker Prize?

2014 is the first year that American novels will be eligible to win the Man Booker Prize.  The Guardian has published a list of books that various writers and critics, such as Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Curtis Sittenfield, Edna O’Brien and Joshua Ferris, believe should have won if they had been eligible.  No, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections did not make the list.

John Mullen – Humboldt’s Gift (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by Saul Bellow (1975)

Julian Barnes – The Easter Parade by Richard Yates (1976)

Colm Toibin – The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (1979)

Elaine Showalter – The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

Jane Smiley – Love Medicine (P.S.) by Louise Erdrich (1984)

Martin Amis – White Noise (Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions) by Don Delillo (1985)

Claire Messud – Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

Philip Hensher – Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard (1992)

Laura Miller – Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (1996)

Joshua Ferris – Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (1997)

Peter Carey – Plainsong by Kent Haruf (1999)

Sarah Churchwell – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (2004)

Edna O’Brien – Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (2012)

John Banville – Canada by Richard Ford (2012)

Curtis Sittenfeld – Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois (2013)



Check the Guardian article to read why these authors picked these books.

Library Reads Top Ten Books for October

Library Reads has published their Top Ten books for October.  Here they are:

Garth Stein, A Sudden Light

Jodi Picoult, Leaving Time

Cary Elwes and with Joe Layden, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride

Alan Cumming, Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir

Jane Smiley, Some Luck

Keith Donohue, The Boy Who Drew Monsters

Allen Eskins, The Life We Bury

Hannah Pittard, Reunion

Keigo Higashino, Malice: A Mystery

Ashly Weaver, Murder at the Brightwell: A Mystery

Check out their site on Tumbr: