Archives for category: 2015

The Winners of the National Book Award were announced on November 18. There are four National Book Award categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. From the National Book Foundation: “The National Book Award is one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes and has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing.” Here is the winner, along with the finalists and longlist for nonfiction:


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)


  • Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
  • Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria/Simon & Schuster)
  • Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran
    (Henry Holt and Company)
  • Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf)


  • Cynthia Barnett, Rain (Crown Publishing Group/Penguin Random House)
  • Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press)
  • Susanna Moore, Paradise of the Pacific (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Michael Paterniti, Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays (The Dial Press/Penguin Random House)
  • Michael White, Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir (Persea Books)

Ben Hughes, head of content at Blinkist, has created a great list of “little-known gems” for readers to collect “the tricks and tips that nobody will see coming.” Mr. Hughes draws us in by referring to companies that found an “open secret” (Peter Thiel) “in the intersection between groups who had and groups who needed, connected the two, and struck it rich.” Read the entire post, with descriptions of the titles, Here are the titles:

1. The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder

2. The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler

3. Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

4. Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer

5. Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips

6. How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins

7. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

8. Risk Savvy by Gerd Gigerenzer

9. You Only Have To Be Right Once by Randall Lane

10. Lead With A Story by Paul Smith

Image Credit: Miss Auras, by John Lavery, depicts a woman reading a book, filed under Public Domain.

Image Credit: Miss Auras, by John Lavery, depicts a woman reading a book, filed under Public Domain.

Travel + Leisure’s Melissa Locker, in a recent article, features 12 hotels that are “sure to appeal to wandering bookworms.” A sampling of hotels included in the article:

Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad, India – “There are so many volumes in the Palace library that, as the hotel’s website points out, you would have to read a book a day for more than 16 years to go through the entire collection.”

Sylvia Beach Hotel, Newport, Oregon – “Each room at the literature-themed hotel is inspired by a particular classic or contemporary author including Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, John Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Jules Verne, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Gertrude Stein.”

The Library Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand – “This chic boutique resort boasts a sleek, minimalist library filled with books perfect for reading poolside at the property’s trademark red pool or at the idyllic Chaweng Beach, which is just steps away.”

The Gladstone, Flintshire, North Wales. “The Gladstone is adamantly not a hotel but rather a library that happens to offer accommodation to its patrons.”

The Library Hotel, New York, NY – “Each of the rooms on the boutique hotel’s ten floors is decorated based on different sections of the Dewey Decimal System (think Mythology, Technology, Oceanography, or Love; the latter comes with a selection of books curated by noted sex researcher Dr. Ruth Westheimer).”

Image Credit: Red Rocks - IMG_1283, by Nicola, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license

Image Credit: Red Rocks – IMG_1283, by Nicola, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license

Las Vegas grows on you. For five years now, the Las Vegas area has been my home. The longer I live here, the more I appreciate the richness, complexity, and diversity of its population and the ever-changing beauty of its geography. It’s interesting to read how Las Vegas, with its ironclad branded image, is portrayed in literature. Las Vegas Review-Journal’s John Przybys, writes, that as a canvas, Las Vegas “can be, at the same time, dark and colorful, deep and superficial, serious and downright goofy.”

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, features a significant Las Vegas story line. (This book is an amazing, absorbing read.) Her imagery and depiction of Las Vegas, like all her writing, lingers and stays with you long after you have read the book. Provided below is a sampling of quotes from reviews that cover or mention Las Vegas and Ms. Tartt’s portrayal of the city.

Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Review

“The novel isn’t, of course, all action and suspense. Some of its most memorable moments occur in stillness. Take Theo’s first experience of the desert skies of Las Vegas, after a life spent amid the light pollution of New York. Until now, he has only known the constellations as ‘childhood patterns that had twinkled me to sleep from the glow-in‑the-dark planetarium stars on my bedroom ceiling back in New York. Now, transfigured – cold and glorious like deities with their disguises flung off – it was as if they’d flown through the roof and into the sky to assume their true, celestial homes.'”

Stephen King, The New York Times, Flight’s of Fancy: Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch

“If there’s a Fagin in Theo’s life, it’s his father, who spirits him away to Las Vegas — not the gaudy Strip, but a sinister exurban development where most of the houses are empty, the streets fill with blown sand and Domino’s won’t deliver. Theo regards his new room with dismay. ‘It seemed like the kind of room where a call girl or a stewardess would be murdered on television.’”

Nikki Steele, Book Riot, Literary Tourism: Las Vegas, Nevada

…”if you’ve only read about Las Vegas in books, it’s not only the drug-addled craze of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or the–not drug-addled, but similarly crazed–Las Vegas in The Stand.  I’d say instead that one of the truest depictions of Vegas was in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Tartt found a way to show how the excesses of that city are somehow muted against the wide desert and mountains that surround it.”

Jeff Somers, B&N Reads, Three Things You Missed When You Read The Goldfinch

“Something else people overlook in this book is its careful structure…In fact, the book is ingenious in the way it organizes Theo’s journey by sex. First, the feminine world of New York, dominated by his mother and then Mrs. Barbour, a world of cozy meals, homey apartments, and a wide-ranging social world filled with quasi-siblings and social contacts. Then, the masculine world of Las Vegas that Theo’s father takes him to, a world of drugs and alcohol, gambling and superficial glamour, violence and emptiness, with long stretches of the story just Theo and his new friend Boris (the best character in the book, perhaps the best character of 2013) ambling around an empty desert.”

Todd Peterson, Vegas Seven, The Goldfinch Scored a Pulitzer. But Did It Win at Depicting Vegas?

…”Tartt gets some of it right, and some not-so-right. She hits her stride when measuring the landscape through Theo’s eyes: ‘[T]he improbable skyline dwindled into a wilderness of parking lots and outlet malls, loop after faceless loop of shopping plazas…’ describing Las Vegas’ neighborhoods as ‘what tourists never see.’ Likewise, she does a wonderful job of contrasting Theo’s adjustment from New York’s claustrophobic confines to Nevada’s endless space. For the most part, Theo’s time in Las Vegas is spent acclimating to his new life, and actual depictions of our city are few.”

Boris Kachka, Elle, Why You Should Read Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer prize-Winning Novel The Goldfinch. Now.

“After a stint with a rich schoolmate’s family, he finds himself in Las Vegas in the care of his deadbeat father. (The Goldfinch is lousy with horrible dads.) Also on tap are a drug-dealing stepmother, glue-sniffing petty thief Boris, and an American desertscape of mediocrity that seems to horrify Tartt as much as the bloodbath that led Theo there.”

John Przybys, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Books You Must Read to Understand Vegas

“In the category of serious literature, [author Sally] Denton would recommend ‘The Goldfinch,’ winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, in which author Donna Tartt ‘has depicted a painfully keen Las Vegas, as seen through the eyes of a rootless teenager.’”

Poet In Process, Emilee Wirshing, has designed this simple, yet very helpful introductory guide to Social Media. How marvelous is this? Enjoy!



Maria Popova, Brain Pickings blogger, writes a beautiful post reflecting on her seven years or reading, writing and living and what she has learned about “making choices, of integrating ‘work’ and life in such inextricable fusion.” At the time of the inception of Brain Pickings, she “neither planned nor anticipated that this tiny experiment would one day be included in the Library of Congress digital archive of ‘materials of historical importance’ and the few friends would become millions of monthly readers all over the world.” The tag line for Brain Pickings is: Reflections on how to keep the center solid as you continue to evolve. Here are her seven learned bits of wisdom, directly quoted. Click here, to read the entire post in detail.

  • Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
  • Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  • Be generous.
  • Build pockets of stillness into your life.
  • When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as importantly, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
  • Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
  • “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman.

McKinsey’s Jacques Bughin, in his article, “Taking the Measure of the Networked Enterprise,” reveals two points that stand out in their latest analysis on the “adoption by companies of Enterprise 2.0 tools, a cluster of web-based social technologies first popularized by consumers.” The first finding is that the adoption of these technologies, such as wikis, blogs, social networks, podcasts, and video sharing, “appears to be leveling off after a decade of rapid growth.” The second is that “enterprise 2.0 tools follow power laws.” The companies that McKinsey identified as power users “reported an incremental 5 percent in value added in 2010 and of up to 6.5 percent in 2014…That seems plausible: power laws should naturally skew performance benefits toward heavier users.” They also found “that even incremental use among employees could significantly increase the value added for each technology.”