Jane Austen wrote, “How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book,” and her fans surely agree when it comes to the much-beloved Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps your own devotion has led you to read all the books, watch all the movies, and still it isn’t enough. May we suggest enjoying the story in Marvel comic form? That’s right! Graphic Novels for Grown-ups Month is the perfect time to sample Pride & Prejudice as adapted by an award-winning romance author and skilled illustrators. Much of Austen’s language and wit are smartly preserved, and the drawings add insight into the characters’ personalities and foibles. This is a delightful way to revisit a favorite, and don’t forget to enter for prizes after you reach the happy ending!
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Fiction has many gorgeous layers. One layer is that of Latino and Latina authors. Latino refers to male citizens of the U.S. who have Latin American origins, whereas Latina points to female citizens of the U.S. with Latin American origins.
Click here to dive into the depth and diversity of Latino and Latina authors.
In the 1970s and ‘80s activists began to hound banks for redlining – an unwritten rule that banks would avoid putting branches in poorer neighborhoods. By the 1990s, other entrepreneurs stepped into the gap that the banks had left. Pawnshops, check cashing companies, payday lenders, and furniture rental stores filled working poor neighborhoods. In Broke USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc., Gary Rivlin examines the businesses that serve people living paycheck to paycheck. Rivlin begins neutrally, but as a cycle of debt is revealed he pounces on these businesses as predatory in this surprising page-turner. If you like easy-to-read exposés on American economics like Nickel and Dimed, try Broke USA.
Iphiginia Bright is a witty, impertinent woman ready to break free of her role as a staid schoolmistress, but is she equipped to handle her newest role…as the Earl of Masters’ mistress? Amanda Quick’s historical romance Mistress will have you laughing and turning pages to see what happens next.
Denise of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Friendship Bread by Darien Gee:
Friendship Bread is a heartwarming, extremely touching novel on loss, the healing power of friendship, and the tremendous gifts of sharing and forgiveness. The story centers around an Amish friendship bread that makes its way throughout the town of Avalon, Illinois. It changes the lives of five women in various stages of life, all dealing with different issues. You will feel their sorrows, revel in their successes, and love how they come together over tea and friendship bread. This novel is sweet and sentimental with a lovely ending. When you read it, you’ll want to share it with a friend, and don’t forget to add a starter packet of friendship bread!
If there’s any better reading experience than Alan Rickman narrating an audiobook…we don’t know what it is. Or maybe we do. Maybe it is Will Wheaton narrating an audiobook or Nelson Mandela or Bob Dylan or Jeremy Irons. There are so many fabulous, famous narrators!
Click here to check out audiobooks with celebrity narrators.
Want a gritty, dark horror novel? Last Days by Adam Nevill is the leisurely tale of an indie filmmaker shooting a documentary on the cult The Temple of the Last Days, all of whose members were murdered. As the shoot progresses, evil has awoken and people start dying.
How about literary, uncanny short stories? Try Nalo Hopkinson’s anthology of dark fantasy and horror, Mojo: Conjure Stories. Nineteen authors, from Neil Gaiman to Tananarive Due, explore the tricky, powerful, and dangerous nature of magic.
What about an unlikely monster? Brood X by Michael Philip Cash shows what happens when cicadas take over the world. Billions of cicadas wreak havoc on the electric grid, wi-fi, food, and water for Seth and his family in this original, fast-paced read.
Finally, how about something funny? This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong is a small town Armageddon in the form of giant, invisible spiders that only two hopeless, sarcastic heroes can see and fight.
Still not enough horror for you?
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Page Count: 486
Genre: Historical fiction
Tone: Literary, intricate, mysterious
1. What did you think of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? Would you like to explore such a place?
2. Before you began the book, did you have any expectations? How did this meet, exceed, or disappoint them?
3. It is said that each of us reads a different book, because we all bring our own experiences and preconceptions and thoughts to our reading. What book did you read? There’s so much to absorb in this book; what stands out to you?
a. The love story (-ies)?
b. The mystery of Julian Carax?
c. The Javert-like Inspector Fumero?
4. “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” (p. 215) Do you agree? In what ways was this your experience while reading The Shadow of the Wind?
5. Why do you think the novel (and the fictional novel by Julian Carax) is called The Shadow of the Wind?
6. The character of Fermin plays many roles in the course of the story. What are they? How does he impact the plot?
7. In what ways are Daniel and Fermin good for each other?
8. What roles do Daniel’s parents play in the story?
9. What are some of the significant turning points in the book?
10. How did Daniel’s first encounter with Lain Coubert affect him? What did you make of this shadowy character? At what point did you realize his true identity?
11. What is the significance of Victor Hugo’s Mont Blanc pen?
12. How would you characterize Zafon’s use of language?
13. How are women portrayed in the book?
14. How does Daniel’s life begin to parallel Carax’s? How did you feel about this?
a. Though they follow very similar trajectories, one ends in tragedy and the other in happiness. What are the differences that allow Daniel to avoid tragedy?
b. What is the relationship between Carax and Daniel?
15. Did Julian deserve for Miguel and Nuria to lay down their lives for him?
16. How does the setting – Spain under Franco – affect the story? Could the story have taken place somewhere other than Barcelona?
17. How are the sins of the fathers and mothers visited upon different characters?
18. Who would you say is the pivot around which the events of the story revolve: Carax or Fumero?
19. How would you describe the tone of The Shadow of the Wind?
20. How do suspense and humor work together in the novel? Does the existence of one reduce the impact of the other, or is the book enhanced by the use of both?
21. What is the view of evil within the book as a whole? What does it see as evil? What does it see as the solution to evil?
22. Which values and perspectives are encouraged by this book? Which does it discourage?
23. Did the story keep your interest throughout? Did your feelings about it change as you read it?
24. What did you think of the ending, in which Daniel introduces his son Julian to the Cemetery?
25. What are some criticisms of the book? Why might someone not like it?
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s website
Reading Group Guide discussion questions
Buttery Books’ book club party ideas
Telegraph interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Carlos Ruiz Zafón on bookstores closing
Wikipedia entry on the Spanish Civil War
If you liked The Shadow of the Wind, try…
NW by Zadie Smith highlights the paradoxes in human existence. It follows the lives of four London friends who grew up in the same impoverished area of northwest London. Ideas of class and ethnicity are major players in this character-driven, passionate story that keeps you guessing on what comes next.
Ghosts in the graveyard. Knocks at the door when no one is there. Houses cursed with madness. In our experience, horror that is only hinted can be much more terrifying than outright gore. Let the masters add an extra thrill to otherworldly nights with Edward Gorey’s Haunted Looking Glass. Fall under the spell of “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs or of “The Dream Woman” by Wilkie Collins. Stories from none other than Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson will make you think twice about trusting your own eyes and ears. Each gothic chill is prefaced by one of Edward Gorey’s original creepy-cute illustrations. Whether you prefer the odd or the truly frightening, this collection will satisfy your hunger for spooky.