Reading Group Roundup – August 2013

Left Bank Books hosts reading groups that are always welcoming to new members! If you have any questions or think you’d like to register your book group with Left Bank Books, please drop Jonesey a line at jonesey@left-bank.com. Here’s what our groups are reading this month. Pick up a copy for 20% off at either store, and join in the fun!

The Sex Lives of CannibalsSunday, August 11th, at 2pm in the Downtown store, join Jonesey and Reading the World as they discuss The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Maarten Troost: At the age of twenty-six, Maarten decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. This is his hilarious story.

Vermont PlaysMonday, August 12th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), Shane and his group, Read This Play, will be discussing The Vermont Plays by Annie Baker: “Circle Mirror Transformation,” which takes place in a summer acting class and alternates between theater exercises and moments between classmates, shares the 2010 OBIE Award for Best Play with “The Aliens,” which explores weighty topics of love and death through the easy banter of the slackers behind the local coffee shop. Also included is “Body Awareness,” set during Body Awareness Week at the local college, and “Nocturama,” in which a twenty-six-year-old Brooklynite returns to live with his mom and video game obsessed stepfather.

ValenciaThursday, August 15th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), the Lesbian Reading Group will be reading Valencia, Michelle Tea’s fast-paced account of her search for love and high times in the drama-filled dyke world of San Francisco’s Mission District. There’s the knife-wielding Marta, who introduces Michelle to a new world of radical sex; Willa, Michelle’s tormented poet-girlfriend; Iris, the beautiful boy-dyke who ran away from the South in a dust cloud of drama; and Iris’s ex, to whom Michelle turns when Iris breaks her heart.

Daughter of TimeTuesday, August 20th, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), Shakespeare Festival Reads will discuss The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to one of history’s most heinous villains – a king who killed his brother’s children to secure his crown? Grant determines to find out once and for all what kind of man Richard was and who, in fact, killed the princes in the tower.

Unreal LifeThursday, August 22nd, at 7:30pm in the CWE store (downstairs), the Gay Men’s Reading Group will be discussing The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov by Paul Russell, his novel based on the extraordinary life of the gay brother of Vladimir Nabokov: his stuttering childhood in the shadow of his brilliant brother, his opium-fueled evenings with his sometimes lover Cocteau, his troubled love life on the margins of the Ballets Russes and its legendary cast, and his isolation in war torn Berlin where he will ultimately be arrested, sent to a camp and die in 1945.

Bel CantoWednesday, August 28th, 12pm, in our Downtown store, Kris and the Novel Ideas reading group will discuss Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of a powerful businessman. It is a perfect evening – until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

Elizabeth CostellSaturday, August 31st, 4pm, in our Downtown store, the Writers Read group will be discussing Elizabeth Costello by JM Coetzee: After eight novels that have won, among other awards, two Booker Prizes, and most recently, the Nobel Prize, JM Coetzee has once again crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Told through an ingenious series of formal addresses, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman’s life as mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling.

This Week @ LBB: Summer Reads, School Shopping, Star Wars, and Sparks

Sisterland
Own a signed copy yet? We still have some available!

Happy August! No doubt you feel like summer’s winding down already, but it’s never too late to book that last minute vacation. You’ll need something to read, of course, while you soak in those rays, and you’re in luck: Publishers Weekly just released their Best Summer Books of 2013, with St. Louis’s own Curtis Sittenfeld making an appearance on the fiction list for her novel, Sisterland. A personal favorite of mine, the third volume of Russ Kick’s Graphic Canon series, was touted as the “most beautiful” book of 2013, and I couldn’t agree more. The series gorgeously and creatively illustrates classics from The Faerie Queen to Great Expectations all the way up to Infinite Jest, and can give you a fresh perspective on the familiar stories you “suffered” through in your high school English classes.

Summer Reading
See something on your list? Give us a call and we’ll put it on hold for you.

Speaking of English class, does your child or teenager have a summer reading list? Did they just tell you about it now? They haven’t even started yet? Never fear! Many customers have come in with just this dilemma, so we’ve devoted space in our YA and children’s sections to books on local summer reading lists. Give your kid a nudge about their own list, and don’t panic if they’ve conveniently “forgotten” about it until now. We’ve got you covered.

Jabba the Puppett
May the Force be with you, and the kids of McQuarrie Middle School.

We have some awesome kids’ events lined up for August. For your little Star Wars fans, Tom Angleberger will be at our Downtown store next Thursday (the 8th) at 2pm for the newest book in his Origami Yoda series, Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett. The Origami Yoda series is a staff favorite, and Tom’s presentations are always fun and interactive, with crafts, doodling, and (you guessed it) origami. Plus, Tom covers a lot of great issues in his books, from children with different learning styles to the importance of an art curriculum in schools, and the The Strange Case of Origami Yoda was one of our picks for reluctant readers. Read a review of the series from our own children’s buyer, Sarah, here.

Nicholas SparksTickets for our event with Nicholas Sparks on October 9th went on sale yesterday, and his fans showed up in full force. We sold over 200 tickets in less than eleven hours, beating the record previously held by David Sedaris for fastest tickets sales at Left Bank. Tickets for the main auditorium at the Central Library are sold out, but you still have a chance to hear about The Longest Ride by buying tickets for the Creative Experience area, which will have audio and video of Nicholas Sparks’s presentation, and you will still get a pre-signed book, a meet & greet opportunity, and a chance to participate in the Q&A!

Billy Lynn
“Wild, emotional, semi-political, and amazingly well written,” says Shane.

If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, Shane has a new staff pick: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. An extra incentive: Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Queen of America, recommended this book to Shane when he visited the CWE store this past winter. That’s a bookseller recommendation and an author recommendation! Doesn’t hurt that it was nominated for the National Book Award, either.

Gatsby Shirt
Aisha Tyler’s new book gives it a thumbs up!

And, new in Sidelines That Lauren Has To Own (And Probably Already Does): Out of Print T-shirts! I’m sure you’ve looked at your favorite book cover and thought, “I’d really like to wear that.” (Just me?) Well, now you can. I bought the Pride and Prejudice one, but there’s also The Great GatsbyA Clockwork Orange, as well as The Very Hungry Caterpillar in children’s sizes, to name only a few. Now, if they just made a Les Miserables one…

A sneak peak at next week’s events: Apart from Tom Angleberger, we have Victoria Christopher Murray on Monday, the 5th, at the Carpenter Library, and Julie Garwood on Wednesday, the 7th, at the Central Library. Can’t wait to see you there!