The Alchemist

It’s late, but I had to finish! The Alchemist was incredible in achieving a profound account of an epic journey through several years of a young man’s life, but all within about 170 pages. I was amazed by the author’s ability to create a vivid setting and rich environment with simple, straightforward description in just a few words. It reads like a parable, but appeals to a wide audience and a variety of beliefs. “Everything is created by the same hand…”

This was a great book to start off the new year!

“Now Read This” Book Club

This book club offers exclusive reviews and history behind some of the best contemporary books around. It’s free and easy to join. You get an entire month to read each selection, and you don’t have to worry about arranging your schedule to make the meetings. Join me and several thousand other new friends in this exciting club! The pick for January is an inspiring, insightful, and haunting work from an awesome author who has won several awards for her work… find out who it is in the links below:

New York Times/PBS book club

Facebook group

New design for our newest bookmarks

We recently changed our bookmarks to create a more durable and finished – looking product. The results have been outstanding. We are so excited for you to try one! We are putting the finishing touches on them now, and they will be available for purchase on our site in about two weeks.

This trivia game is a blast. Someone at work showed it to me. It’s almost impossible, but it’s a lot of fun, and free.

27 Books in 2017 – A Visual Book Review

2017 books graphic

I created this graphic to represent the books that I read in 2017. Larger images represent the books that I enjoyed the most, while smaller images are for works that were more difficult to get through.

I should mention that I really liked and would recommend any of these books, with the exception of the two smallest depicted in the lower right area of the graphic. Since those are probably too small to make out the titles, they are: Nightwood by Djuna Barnes and Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. There were two additional titles that didn’t make the graphic because I could not finish them: Moonglow by Michael Chabon and The Girls by Emma Cline. I only made it 50 – 100 pages into each before I moved on to another work. Moonglow never really caught my interest, and The Girls contained graphic depictions of sexual abuse that I found distasteful.

My favorite books of 2017 were Hisham Matar’s The Return and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. These two books transported me through time and space and showed me a way of life that I was not familiar with. I learned lessons from each of these works that will stay with me.

The Return was the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and a number of other distinguished literary awards. Hisham Matar depicts his journey through a war torn Libya to search for his father, imprisoned for decades under the rule of Qaddafi. Returning to the country of his birth, the author shares his personal story as well as the experiences of several relatives and countrymen who lived under dictatorship and fought for freedom. Use this tool to find The Return at a bookstore near you.

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is a classic icon of American literature. The story of early settlers in California’s Salinas Valley revolves around the hardships and turmoil faced by the Trask family. After their mother abandons them, twin boys Caleb and Aron are left to be raised by their father Adam. It is generally considered one of Steinbeck’s greatest novels. After hearing various acquaintances name East of Eden as the best book they have ever read, I decided to give it a try. I discovered a masterpiece written with a sense of purpose and clarity that exceeded my expectations. I was very surprised to finish 600 pages as quickly as I did. You can use the same tool mentioned above to purchase East of Eden at your local bookstore.

Which books did you love in 2017? Were there any that you didn’t care for?

Grief is the Thing With Feathers

Image result for grief is the thing with feathers

In this short novel by Max Porter, grief comes to a young family in the form of a peculiar and somewhat nasty Raven. He stays with the bereaved father and young children as they face the uncertainty of a future without their mother and wife.

The novel was first published a couple of years ago, but has gained more attention this year. I read it in March, then read it again later in 2017. The analogy of grief as a black, physical, somewhat obnoxious presence is poignant but meaningful.

I read recently that the work will be adapted for the stage in a work starring actor Cillian Murphy set to release in the UK early 2018. Here is an article about the adaptation:

 …the Thing with Feathers adaptation

Grief is the Thing with Feathers was the best use of metaphor that I read in 2017. Find  a local bookstore where you can buy this book:

Buy at a Bookstore near you

How many pages did you read in 2017?

Image result for book pages

I have been looking back at the books that I loved (or hated) in 2017, and the list is pretty amazing compared to previous years. I’ve easily read four times as much this year as I have previously, and more importantly I think that I have made reading a habit.

I was even more impressed (by myself) when I counted up the approximate number of pages from this year:

~6,000 pages! 

While that seems like a lot to me, it is probably miniscule compared to some of your tallies. Try it! Estimate the number of pages in each of the books you completed this year then add them all together. (You can even included the pages you read from books that you couldn’t get through. There were a few of those too.)

How many did you get?

Han Solo Book Club

han solo reading 2

Presenting the Han Solo Book Club! In partnership with Italic Bookmarks our favorite space pirate anti-hero will be sharing some of his favorite books with his dedicated fans. These selections are a perfect way to spend an evening after completing the Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs, or between other intergalactic adventures. Each month Captain Solo will help you explore inspiring stories found between the covers of a great book!

His first pick is the outstanding novel by Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, SingClick here to find it at an independent bookstore near you.

While we recognize that his character was officially killed off in the last installment of the STAR WARS series, we simply ignore that part so that Han, like so many of our favorite literary characters, can live on!

If you have a book that you think Han Solo should recommend, leave us a note in the comments below. 


Zombies love books… they are good for BRAINS!!!

The undead have a well-documented hunger for human flesh but they also crave great literature. They may seem to be wandering aimlessly in the streets but they are usually just searching for new reading material. It is not uncommon to find the walking dead congregating around a public library. Zombies love books and would encourage us all to read more. Everyone knows that books are good for BRAINS!

This is how Arnold gets PUMPED!!!

Arnold reading

Everyone knows that reading is a great way to pass your time… Second only to pumping IRON!!!

If you don’t read regularly, be sure to start light. You don’t want to overdo it if your brain is not used to the work. Gradually increase the number of minutes you spend reading each day and try more challenging material when you feel ready. Before you know it your brain will be massive and beautiful like Arnold’s biceps. You will be admired by everyone around you (at least at book club) and you will feel confidence in your ability to lift heavy things (with your mind). You will find that you can conquer the toughest literary  challenges with ease. Guaranteed!

Remember to read what you like. Find a time that works for you. Set a timer if it helps. Put away your phone and avoid other distractions. Keep your back straight and always lift with your legs. Share this post with your friends who want to get ripped!