Your Reading Life

Good for Book Clubs

We RIFers are voracious readers and we love to tell a good story. Your Reading Life features personal essays, reader reviews — anything that embraces our literary lifestyle. Pull up a mug of your favorite cozy beverage and join in on the conversation.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

National Book Critics Circle Announces 2014 Finalists

Your TBR pile just got bigger. You’re welcome.

The NBCC (National Book Critics Circle) announced its 30 finalists in six categories – autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction, and poetry – for the best books of 2014.

Considered by many the most prestigious of literary prizes, NBCC awards are juried by working critics and book-review editors.

We love checking out the NBCC lists because they invariably include books we haven’t read yet – or even heard of before! These are the critics’ darlings, and there’s always a little-known gem to discover.

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.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

And the Best Book Title in Translation Goes To …

L’extraordinaire Voyage du Fakir Qui Etait Resté Coincé dans une Armoire IKEA. Translation? The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe. Maybe the best. book. title. ever.

It’s definitely going on our Books That Would Win ‘Best Title’ bookshelf.

When you’re a fakir (Indian con artist), cruising Paris with only one goal (IKEA), your life is full of surprises.

This is a fable set in our super-connected global economy, filled with equal parts biting satire and heartfelt observation. Different than anything we’ve read before, and beautifully translated from the French by Sam Taylor.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

16 of the Best Book Covers of 2014

“Judging books by their covers is seriously underrated,” says Amy Smith, author of All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane, “and any book nerd who claims never to have done it is probably lying.”

We totally agree. So we gave our bookshelf a good once-through and pulled out the covers with the most pizzazz. Of course we want to hear about your favorites, too!

They’re beautiful, they’re puzzling, they’re arresting. Literally arresting – they’ll stop you in your tracks when you pass them on the shelf … they may even invite you to crack open the first page and begin reading. They’re the Best Book Covers of 2014.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

RIFers Can’t Wait for Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread

RIFer Lala57 says, “I devour her novels – they’re gourmet reads!”

When we hosted our Read It First giveaway last week, we got dozens of comments about all the reasons RIFers love Anne Tyler. We thought we’d share some of these insightful comments. Sure makes you want to pick up an Anne Tyler novel, doesn’t it?

RIFer Edith says, “What a treat it would be to immerse oneself in the world of an Anne Tyler novel on a winter evening in front of the fireplace!”

According to RIFer Teresa, “Books could be written about Anne Tyler’s writing style. Clear, crisp, concise. Her words paint pictures in my heart. I cannot wait to read this new work!”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins Will Make You Laugh (and Cringe a Little If You’re an American)

Do you think a writer – like Irvine Welsh, who is from the U.K. writing about the U.S. – has a different perspective on American culture?

It’s always interesting to get the perspective of someone from another country, especially when it comes to our own popular culture. Things that we take for granted are thrown into stark contrast for someone who didn’t grow up here.

That’s certainly the case with The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh. He’s the author behind the iconic book and film Trainspotting – he now lives in the U.S. and has turned his comic wit on American culture. As the Financial Times pointed out, “the excitement of Welsh’s writing derives from the perverse glee he takes in our lowest obsessions.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Why I Go to Facebook to Decide What to Read Next

For me, choosing my next read is an exercise fraught with equal parts trepidation and eager anticipation.

Thing is: I’ve usually just finished reading something I loved and am feeling deeply satiated yet slightly maudlin over its ending, which makes the selection of a new book read feel very weighted.

Unfortunately, I rely increasingly less on traditional reviews in all the places I used to go, like The New York Times, for instance. It’s not because I don’t still value them; it’s just, sadly, a lack of time. The continual flow of recommendations Amazon sends me based on algorithms developed by what I download on my Kindle are very hit or miss. And I don’t keep up on Goodreads in the way that I used to as much either. Who has time for Facebook and yet another social media hub?

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Help Us Build the Best Holiday Books List Ever

RIFers, you asked for holiday book recommendations, and we decided to have some fun with it. We’ve gathered some of the most unusual holiday books we could find.

Awkward Family Holiday Photos and Scared of Santa will give you a giggle with images of holiday cheer gone wrong. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies is just what it sounds like. And so is The Physics of Christmas: From the Aerodynamics of Reindeer to the Thermodynamics of Turkey. Fascinating! We had to include one of our all-time favorite holiday books for kids: The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story.