Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

You Could Win a Bag o’ Short Stories (+ This Super Cute Book Tote Bag)

“A good [short story] would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.” ―David Sedaris

It’s our very first Big Bag o’ Short Stories! Enter for your chance to win five short story collections from bestselling authors Charles Baxter, Jonathan Lethem, and more. Our friends at BookPage have shared these super cute book tote bags – 50 lucky RIFers will win one!

We’ve hand-picked five very different and equally engaging short story collections for you: There’s Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter, master of the short story; Lucky Alan by literary superstar Jonathan Lethem; Single, Carefree, Mellow, the charming, funny debut from Catherine Heiney, Get in Trouble by Kelly Link, already on people’s Best of 2015 lists, and This Is Paradise, a beautiful collection of linked stories from Kristiana Kahakauwila.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

It Was Me All Along Is a Must-Read Memoir

“Eating made me forget,” she writes. “Filling my belly stuffed my mind so completely that no space existed for sadness.”

Andie Mitchell had been overweight for as long as she could remember. But cutely plump as a school-age kid became morbidly obese at age 20, when she weighed nearly 300 pounds. Growing up with a depressed, alcoholic father and a mother who worked round the clock to pay the bills, Mitchell grew to view food—any food—as her friend and companion.

It Was Me All Along is the strikingly honest story of one woman’s long journey to self-acceptance. It’s a must-read memoir for anyone who has used food to numb the pain rather than nourish the body.

Meet the Author Good for Book Clubs

Interview with Peter Buwalda, Author of Bonita Avenue

Dutch writer Peter Buwalda is keenly attuned to the ironies of being a successful novelist. “A successful writer is living a paradox,” Buwalda says from to his home in Amsterdam, where he moved after his gripping literary debut, Bonita Avenue, became a bestseller in Holland in 2010.

“Being successful and writing sort of exclude each other. Before I was a real recluse, and now I am an outgoing person. I have to be,” Buwalda says.

Until he was 34, he worked as an editor and journalist and was “a very fanatical reader.” Then he decided to write fiction and “changed like Gregor Samsa in the story by Kafka into a novelist. For me it was late, so I had to try to write a thick, serious novel at once, without hesitating, diving into the deep.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Huan Hsu on Being Half-American, Half-Chinese

There are a lot of books on China being published these days, and many of those books are being written by people who aren’t Chinese.

“There’s nothing wrong with this, of course,” says Huan Hsu, author of The Porcelain Thief. “Some of the writers behind the books I most admire aren’t Chinese.

And Hessler and Gifford and Pomfret wrote fantastic books on China; they likely speak better Mandarin and feel more comfortable in China than I do. But they’re not Chinese. And while books about the Chinese-American experience in America are plentiful, the Shanghai bookstore I visited seemed to indicate that the story of Chinese-Americans in China remains unstudied.”

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

Should You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Simon Kurt Unsworth, author of The Devil’s Detective, speaks at the Lancashire Writing Hub and answers a question from the audience. His answer may surprise you!

“I think you damn well should judge books by their covers,” says Simon Kurt Unsworth.

“I’ll tell you why in this short ramble. I think the first thing I need to do is to differentiate something. When we say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover,’ we often mean don’t judge people by how we see them, the first things that we see about them. I don’t suppose there’s anyone in this room who would disagree that we should not judge people by things like the color of their skin, whether they’re male or female, their age, how they kind of look to us. But I don’t really think that’s what this phrase actually means.”

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Win This Debut Detective Novel … Set in Hell

Debut novelist Simon Kurt Unsworth sends the detective novel to Hell. In The Devil’s Detective, a sea change is coming to Hell . . . and a man named Thomas Fool is caught in the middle.

Thomas Fool is an Information Man, an investigator tasked with cataloging and filing reports on the endless stream of violence and brutality that flows through Hell. His job holds no reward or satisfaction, because Hell has rules but no justice.

Each new crime is stamped “Do Not Investigate” and dutifully filed away in the depths of the Bureaucracy. But when an important political delegation arrives and a human is found murdered in a horrific manner—extravagant even by Hell’s standards—everything changes. The murders escalate, and their severity points to the kind of killer not seen for many generations.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Enter for Your Chance to Win The Porcelain Thief

A journalist travels throughout mainland China and Taiwan in search of his family’s hidden treasure and comes to understand his ancestry as he never has before.

“Huan Hsu’s return to his ancestral Chinese village in search of buried treasure keeps readers turning the pages, eager to see what he finds. The dig turns up more than ancient family valuables, as Hsu meets distant relatives and learns of the turmoil that they endured and that he, as an American-born Chinese, avoided. Part memoir, part journey, and part archaeological expedition, The Porcelain Thief is as suspenseful as any Indiana Jones adventure.” –Michael Meyer, author of The Last Days of Old Beijing and In Manchuria

Author Essays Good for Book Clubs

5 Literary Guests I’d Want at My Dinner Party

I imagine my fantasy dinner as more of a potluck pajama party: lounging on pillows in front of the fireplace, plentiful cups of hot tea rivaling the ample wine, and a smorgasbord of nibbles at our socked feet.

In that setting, I’d love to have these five literary powerhouses together for an open, honest conversation about being childless women in a world where motherhood is the ubiquitous expectation.

I greatly admire each of my dinner party guests for their literary accomplishments and moreover, their exemplary legacy as women pioneers. The idea of having these five together (if even in fantasy) makes me giddy—for the pearls of wisdom being passed from hand to hand. You can bet I’d bring my biggest purse to the feast, gathering gems to take home until the seams split.