Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Best Literary Mugs

Nothing is more comforting for a bibliophile than curling up with a fun read and a mug of hot tea or coffee. Unless, of course, that mug is particularly bookish as well.

Then, dear reader, you have the ultimate trifecta: a great book, a smart mug, and a contented you. Whether you want to toast your favorite classic or celebrate books of all kinds, the internet has a mug to suit your taste. Check out our round-up of literate liquid vessels to find your perfect coffee cup. You might even find just the right gift for a book-loving friend!

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Art and Science of the TBR Pile

Creating a Set of Rules for Your TBR Pile

I’m sure everyone has their reasons for reading. My personal motives (in no particular order) are: Pleasure, personal growth, and knowledge.

After closing one book, every reader is tormented by the seemingly impossible dilemma: What should I read next? Most likely you have books on shelves, piled on your nightstand, hanging out under your bed, and waiting patiently on every window sill. Take a deep breath. Here’s the formula for how I approach my teetering To-Be-Read pile:

Bonus Book Content Good for Book Clubs

Read the First Two Chapters of Wilkie Collins

Start reading the biography of Wilkie Collins, an eccentric author who lived a bohemian lifestyle filled with frivolity and plenty of wine.

The peculiar appearance of Mr. Wilkie Collins made him stand out in an “omni,” as the London bus was frequently called. At five feet and six inches he was relatively short even for the 1850s and 1860s. His head was too large for his body; his arms and his legs were a little too short, while his hands and feet were too small and considered to be “rather like a woman’s.” There was a large bump on his right temple as a result of a gynaecological accident; it was sometimes called “a swelling of the frontal bone.”

He was always aware of his oddity and declared that nature had in his case been “a bad artist”; he believed that his high shoulders, and his generally broad body, were “quite out of all proportion” to his large and intellectual head. He was extremely short-sighted, and always wore spectacles. In his thirties he grew a beard, thus lending much-needed symmetry to his face.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

From Author of Corelli’s Mandolin, Introducing The Dust That Falls from Dreams

From the acclaimed author of Corelli’s Mandolin, here is a sumptuous, sweeping, powerfully moving new novel about a British family whose lives and loves are indelibly shaped by the horrors of World War I and the hopes for its aftermath.

In the brief golden years of the Edwardian era the McCosh sisters—Christabel, Ottilie, Rosie and Sophie—grow up in an idyllic household in the countryside south of London. On one side, their neighbors are the proper Pendennis family, recently arrived from Baltimore, whose close-in-age boys—Sidney, Albert and Ashbridge—shake their father’s hand at breakfast and address him as “sir.” On the other side is the Pitt family: a “resolutely French” mother, a former navy captain father, and two brothers, Archie and Daniel, who are clearly “going to grow up into a pair of daredevils and adventurers.” In childhood this band is inseparable, but the days of careless camaraderie are brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of The Great War, in which everyone will play a part.

All three Pendennis brothers fight in the hellish trenches at the front; Daniel Pitt becomes an ace fighter pilot with his daredevil tendencies intact; Rosie and Ottilie McCosh volunteer in the hospitals, where women serve with as much passion and nearly as much hardship as the men at the front; Christabel McCosh becomes one of the squad of photographers sending “snaps” of their loved ones at home to the soldiers; and Sophie McCosh drives for the RAF in France. In the aftermath of the war, as “the universal joy and relief were beginning to be tempered by . . . an atmosphere of uncertainty,” everyone must contend with the modern world that is slowly emerging from the ashes of the old.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Suspense Giveaway: Bull Mountain

“Brian Panowich stamps words on the page as if they’ve been blasted from the barrel of a shotgun, and as with a shotgun blast, no one is safe from the scattered fragments of history that impale the people of Bull Mountain.”—Wiley Cash, New York Times-bestselling author of This Dark Road to Mercy

From a remarkable new voice in Southern fiction, a multigenerational saga of crime, family, and vengeance.

Clayton Burroughs comes from a long line of outlaws. For generations, the Burroughs clan has made its home on Bull Mountain in North Georgia, running shine, pot, and meth over six state lines, virtually untouched by the rule of law. To distance himself from his family’s criminal empire, Clayton took the job of sheriff in a neighboring community to keep what peace he can. But when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shows up at Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down the mountain, his hidden agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and could lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

Why Bradstreet Gate?

Author Robin Kirman reveals the meaning of the title of her crime mystery novel.

A gate is a passage: it takes people from one place and lets them out, in an orderly fashion, in another; in some cases it also serves as a means of selection. The gates of heaven only open for the virtuous, the saved, and permit them into eternal paradise; the gates of our elite universities – and we can think of the whole college admission process as a metaphorical gate — select our nation’s most talented and hardworking youth for positions at the highest levels of society. So we like to think, at least, and the frenzy that accompanies that admission process suggests this is an idea we Americans take very seriously. If our faith in heaven’s gates has wavered, our faith in Harvard’s remains strong — maybe because we need to believe in some sort of system in a time when the path to prosperity feels especially uncertain.

Bradstreet Gate, the title of my debut novel, is also the actual name for the newest gate on Harvard Yard. Commemorated in ‘97, it was named after America’s first published female poet in honor of twenty-five years of women living on the old yard.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Do You Believe in Love at First (Book) Sight?

Reading a book is a lot like falling in love.

The longer you spend together, the more deeply you fall. The better you get to know each other, the stronger you feel about where it’s leading. You go through a lot together: good times and bad times and hard times and happy times.

But before all of that — there’s a spark. There’s that wonderful something that attracts you in the first place: his hair, her smile, his clothes, her laugh, its front cover, the smell of its pages…

What is it that draws you to your next great literary love? Here are a few of the things that draw me in when I’m browsing the bookshelves:

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Slow Down: A Lesson for Readers Who Skip Descriptive Paragraphs

In a world of “binge-watching” readers should slow down.

Like many bibliophiles I know, I like to keep a tally of the books I read. It’s useful, and good for the ego, to keep the list on hand.

Sometimes, I take the number crunching even further. I can tell you, for instance, that, as of May 1 of this year, I’d read 13 books, for a total of 3,698 pages. When I’m speeding through a book, I like to measure my rate. It ranges, on average, from 30 to 60 pages per hour.

It’s probably not hard to see the attraction of such record keeping. When we’re inundated with forms of entertainment (as we most certainly are), reading, watching, listening, and playing can all seem akin to participating in an eating contest. The more we consume, the closer we come to “winning”—to being ahead, in the know, intelligent, savvy.