Sometimes a prickly exterior hides true refinement, and young Paloma suspects this may be true of Madame Michel, the concierge of her family’s luxury apartment building. This intrigues Paloma, and that’s unusual, especially since she is already weary of life’s pretensions and thinking of ending her life on her twelfth birthday. While she documents her final weeks and the empty hypocrisy of those around her, she realizes that Madame Michel may be a kindred spirit. The arrival of a new tenant, a Japanese gentleman, surprises both with new possibilities and deeper understanding. Based on the exquisite novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Hedgehog is a gentle, bittersweet ode to the treasures of the soul.
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Hunter S. Thompson was known to shoot typewriters. Dorothy Parker drank more than she wrote. Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin’s relationship was equal parts eros and literature. There are even rumors that the Marquis de Sade wrote a manuscript in blood.
Click here for movies on the strange and passionate lives of famous writers.
The Modern Library listed Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, as the fourth best novel of the twentieth century. It explores a romance between Humbert, our middle-aged narrator, and a possibly sexually precocious pre-teen named Dolores.
Here’s Nabokov being interviewed on Close-Up, a Canadian Broadcasting Coroporation show, about his controversial novel.
Just in time to highlight great listens for summer reading, the winners of the 2012 Audie Awards have been announced! Honoring the year’s best recordings in a rich mix of categories, these awards are a perfect source of listening suggestions while traveling on vacation, basking in the sun, or making everyday routines more exciting. Try one of the most recent winners below or sample past Audiobooks of the Year. Need more incentive? Don’t forget that listening to an audiobook counts as reading in our Summer Reading Program!
Audiobook of the Year: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Biography/Memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Humor: Shatner Rules by William Shatner with Chris Regan
Literary Fiction: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Multi-Voiced Performance: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Mystery: Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
Narration by the Author: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Personal Development: Prime Time by Jane Fonda
Romance: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb
Thriller/Suspense: The Nightmare Thief by Meg Gardiner
“The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, stole its main character from a Dickens novel. Jack London was an adventurer in the Yukon before he was the writer of The Call of the Wild. Treasure Island’s Long John Silver was based on the real life, one-legged, big-hearted poet William Ernest Henley, and Sherlock Holmes was based on a doctor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s acquaintance. In Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway, Celia Blue Johnson relates the stories and inspirations behind fifty famous works of literature. Each miniature history is a clear, concise account that usually takes no more than five-ish minutes to read. It’s great for curiosity’s sake or for cocktail party fodder.
“You owe it to yourself to read this book,” wrote Library Journal, and the judges emphatically agree. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn West is the newly announced winner of the National Book Award for Fiction. In this powerful story, a pregnant 14-year-old living in dire poverty tells of her family’s struggle to prepare their rural Mississippi property for a hurricane that happens to be called Katrina. Stephen Greenblatt took top Nonfiction honors for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again won in the Young People’s Literature category. Click here for a complete list of finalists and interviews with the authors.
“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.” If your ears itch for fast-paced, witty dialogue and a dash of romantic intrigue, you can do no better than the L.A. Theatre Works production of The Importance of Being Earnest. One of the most adored plays in the English language is brought to vivid life, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a misplaced handbag. James Marsters leads a cast of nimble voice actors in the story of Jack and Algernon, who both pretend to be named Ernest in order to enjoy double lives. Laugh out loud with the play that best showcases Oscar Wilde’s scathing humor.
Dorothy Parker was a notorious wit, wisecracker, poet and writer. She was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table (as portrayed in the movie Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle). Parker was a New Yorker regular, a Hollywood screenwriter and an O. Henry Award winner. She was active in politics as early as 1927, where she was arrested for “loitering and sauntering” at a protest. Later, throughout the 1940s and ’50s, the F.B.I. created a 1,000 page dossier on her activities. For a taste of Parker’s hilariously belligerent, bittersweet work, try her Complete Stories or the collection of her “lost” poems, Not Much Fun.
Hero and Claudio are to be wed in a week. To pass the time, they conspire to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love. Beatrice would “rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves” her and Benedick, well, he’d prefer to go pale with “anger, with sickness, or with hunger” than with love. While the snarky sweethearts are hilariously occupied, other conspirators are up to much more nefarious activities in Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean adaptation, Much Ado About Nothing.
And remember, A Midsummer Knight’s Read, the Summer Reading Program, has officially started! If you watch, read or listen to anything by or inspired by William Shakespeare, you can get up to five bonus raffle tickets.
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost
The Andreas sisters are named for three wildly different Shakespeare heroines, and the one thing they have in common is that their lives are messy. Bianca has just been fired and is swimming in debt. Cordelia gives up her semi-nomadic life when she discovers she’s pregnant. Rosalind had already been living at home in order to care for their ailing parents, and the tension of her upcoming wedding isn’t helping. In Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters, all three end up back under the same roof, and the curtain rises on a masterful blend of drama and lightness that would make the Bard proud.