Our first book club pick of 2012 is Gary Shteyngart’s novel, Absurdistan. It tells the story of Misha Vainberg, a young Russian immigrant whose hopes of a U.S. visa are dashed by his father. Forced to leave New York, Misha moves to Absurdistan, a tiny, oil-rich nation where he finds, among other things, civil war, corruption, and love. Get your copy today and start reading this slapstick satire, which the New York Times named one of the 10 best books of 2006!
Ruth Reichl joins us the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club! She’ll talk about her memoir Comfort Me with Apples. It picks up in 1978, when Reichl sets out on her career as a restaurant critic, which takes her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles. She shares stories of cooking and dining with world-famous chefs, includes some of her favorite recipes, and also writes of the dissolution of her first marriage, the start of a second, and motherhood at the age of 40. It’s about love of food and family, and is the perfect read for the holiday season.
Ruth Reichl, author of our December Leonard Lopate Show Book Club pick Comfort Me with Apples, invited the Wall Street Journal into her upstate kitchen. She spoke about her custom-designed kitchen, her favorite dishes to make for friends, and the meal that changed her life. Read the article here.
Tune in Monday at 12:30 to hear Ruth Reichl on the Leonard Lopate Show. Read the book and submit your questions!
We’re nearing the end of the year, the season of best-of lists. The Leonard Lopate Show staff loves books and we read a lot of them! Here are some staff picks for the best books we’ve read this year—many of them were published in 2011, but some are older and worthy of attention.
What were the best books you read this year? Let us know by leaving a comment!
Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff joins us to talk about Cleopatra: A Life. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra is remembered in history for all the wrong reasons. Relying on classical sources, Schiff separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death brought forth a new world order. She recreates the world that Cleopatra lived in, rich in political and sexual intrigue, and draws a vivid portrait of her as a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. She had children with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day—and she and Antony attempted to forge a new empire, an alliance that spelled both their ends.
Nathaniel Philbrick was on the show this week to talk about one of the greatest American novels, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick.
"I think of all the classics, Moby-Dick is the most reluctantly read. It is so long, it is digressive. Just when you think you're figuring out where it's going, Melville throws in a short chapter about something completely different. And it's a real challenge," Philbrick explains. "It's a book I find, later in life, when you have some life experiences to bring to the book, you begin to see it in a different light."
The digressions are about things like the whiteness of a whale, and ambergris (which is whale vomit), and chowder—Melville even includes a recipe for chowder!
Salman Rushdie joins us for the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club! We’re talking about his 1981 novel, Midnight’s Children. It tells the story of Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947 – the moment that India became an independent nation. His health and well being are tightly tied to his country's, and he is magically, telepathically linked to the 1,000 other children born during India's first hour of life. Salman Rushdie will answer your questions about his magical realist book, which was awarded the 1981 Booker Prize and the James Tait Prize, and it was voted the "Best of the Booker" in 1993 and in 2008.
His most recent novel, Luka and the Fire of Life has just been released in paperback.
Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel show "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" just won an Emmy award for "Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming." The award went to Zach Zamboni and Todd Liebler, Directors of Photography, for this season's episode on Haiti. The show earned four nominations. Congratulations!
Recently, HarperCollins Publishers' imprint Ecco announced that it is giving Bourdain "an eponymous line of books." Bourdain will acquire books that reflect his eclectic tastes, and Ecco will publish three to five titles a year. Find out more about what Anthony Bourdain's eclectic tastes are here!
Anthony Bourdain joins us for the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club! We’re talking about his latest book, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, the follow-up to his hit book Kitchen Confidential. It’s an account of Bourdain's unexpected voyage from journeyman cook, to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, to father. Bourdain offers rants and raves, investigations and interrogations of some major figures in food, and he pays homage to the hard working men and women behind the scenes in every restaurant
The Washington Post writes of Medium Raw: “When you read Bourdain, you never quite know what’s going to happen in the next sentence, but you can be sure you’re in for a treat, a shock, a surprise…Anyone who starts this book is liable to lose all control and simply gobble it right up.”
You can watch him travel the globe on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel!
Novelist Jennifer Egan, whose 2001 book Look at Me was the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club's July selection, talks about her favorite writers, favorite words, her writing rituals, and why her copy of Look at Me is so beaten up!
Jennifer Egan joins us to talk about her novel, Look at Me, the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club’s July selection. Look at Me, published in 2001, was a National Book Award finalist, and it explores the American obsession with image and self-invention. A fashion model named Charlotte Swenson suffers injuries in a car accident that leave her face so badly shattered that it takes 80 titanium screws to reassemble it. She is still beautiful but is oddly unrecognizable. Egan intertwines Charlotte’s narrative with the stories of other casualties of our infatuation with image—a teenaged girl starting a dangerous secret life, an alcoholic private eye, and an enigmatic stranger preparing a staggering blow against American society.
We hope you've been reading it! Participate in the conversation! Leave a question for Jennifer Egan below!
The idea for the new novel "The Tragedy of Arthur" came to author Arthur Phillips when he was walking down the street and thought to himself: "I wonder if I could write a Shakespeare play." His book is in the form of a memoir that serves as the introduction to an undiscovered play by William Shakespeare.