Sunday, November 27, 2011

Podcast Spotlight: Books You Should Read

Welcome to a new feature I'm calling (in a highly imaginative fashion) Podcast Spotlight. I spend a good amount of time listening to podcasts throughout the week to keep up with the book biz, stay informed on the world around me, and get ideas for stories. Some of these will be obscure, some of them will be crowd favorites, but all in all, I hope you find some new things to check out.

Also, I'll stick to a 1 - 5 star rating for this section, with 1 being awful and 5 being amazing.

Now onto our first edition...

Books You Should Read

How do you get it?: Listed in iTunes by searching "books you should read"

How did I find it?: Someone mentioned it on the BOTNS Goodreads group, so I looked it up


How often does it post new shows?: Varies; generally there's one every few weeks

Do they spoiler the books they discuss?: Very often

Production quality?: Solid - an occasional echo or imbalance, but nothing too jarring

Can I listen to this with the kids in the car?: Probably not, as there are objectionable words bandied about with pretty high frequency... though even swear words sound classy when they're spoken in dulcet British accents

Should I start at the beginning?: No - the early episodes of this one are pretty rough; Start on Episode 43, which is the first edition of the only worthwhile feature of this podcast, The Book Club

Should I listen to every episode?: No - look for the ones that have "The Book Club" listed at the front (Episodes 43, 47, 50, 57, 61, 65, and 69, to date)

What's awesome about this podcast?: Oh, The Book Club. This feature pops up about once every 3-4 months and it is the redeeming grace of the entire podcast. It's an episode that is dedicated to a group of four sassy Brits who pick a theme and read four books related to that theme. This may or may not sound appealing to you on face value, but let me assure you, this is a hilarious hour of book delight that visibly excites me whenever it appears in my download queue.

What helps is that they have similar enough taste to be able to have productive discussions but different enough taste for there to be disagreements and haranguing of each other for picking certain books. They manage to entertain (because all of them are genuinely witty with good group rapport), as well as have insightful conversations about whatever book or genre they're investigating. I've gotten several excellent book recommendations from this feature, and I generally agree with their assessments of the books I've read that they've discussed. And the bottom line?  Even if I don't agree with their perspective on something or why they do or don't like something, I like them enough as people to keep rolling with them.

What's not so awesome about this podcast?: Any episode not including The Book Club. The new host has helped this one improve a bit, but overall, I have a really hard time listening to any podcast that consists primarily of a single guy monologuing. Some podcasts get away with it by splicing in interviews to break things up (think WTF with Mark Maron) or having a genuinely funny or interesting host (again, see WTF), but this one is just not great when it's primarily the host. He also has this chick who joins him from time to time, but there doesn't seem to be any chemistry. If you see an episode that's themed on one of your pet topics, give it a try and see if you think I'm being too harsh, but I could barely get through an episode of people rhapsodizing about C.S. Lewis, so that should tell you something.

Highlight?: The first episode I listened to was the Books Chicks Should Read, where they read several different forms of chick lit. I innocuously turned it on at work and soon found myself laughing uncontrollably at my desk as they each described the plot of a Harlequin-esque British romance novel series called Mills & Boon. So funny and does a good job at pointing out the problematic ideas that a lot of chick lit is promoting

Overall rating?: For just The Book Club, it's a definite 5 stars... if you're including the rest of the episodes, it's dropped to 3 stars

The long and short of it is that an episode of The Book Club is my favorite thing that happens on podcasting. But it only comes around every once in a while. 

For those who listen to this one, what do you think? Do you like the Book Club feature?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books Like Whoa - How's This Going to Work?

Finally, I am sufficiently caffeinated and focused to give this the attention it deserves. Because this is it, y'all... I am finally ready to dive into some book loving fun!

I've been stewing over having a bit more focus to the content here (rather than only my random thoughts on life) and, considering that I do it on Goodreads anyways, I am going to start sharing my book nerdery here. I'll still be sharing my general musings, life events, etc., but any time you see the tag, "Books Like Whoa," know that some serious bibliophile candy is to follow.

I'm going to play this by ear, but expect book reviews, links to book related awesome, recommendations, event alerts, and anything else that comes to me. I'd love to play a little "book match-making," so if you are looking for your next read, drop me a line and I will try to work some magic for you!

Or, I guess I could try to do a book version of eHarmony... not sure what the results of that would look like. Probably not the best way to find your soulmate. Though, if I found a chap who loved all of my favorite books, I would go on at least one date with him. I digress...

I've got a whole bevy of reviews in the wings that I will be slowly releasing, so *dark, scary movie trailer guy voice* prepare for the storm.

I'm going to go ahead and let you know how I'll be rating these bad boys (you can find this again on the review fine print page):

0 - I couldn't even get through the whole thing
1 - I weep for the trees wasted to create this book
2 - It's bad, with tantalizing glimpses of something worthwhile sprinkled in
3 - Not my cup of tea, but I get why people dig it
4 - I enjoyed it... a solid offering**
5 - It's really good: well written and pleasurable
6 - Why are you still reading this review? Go pick this one up NOW
7 - I will have to seriously reevaluate any friendship or romantic interest that does not like this book: a favorite

**I will put anything I consider to be a guilty pleasure in this bucket (

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Proof that poetry is still alive and well

I appreciate literary criticism in any form and when it comes to this "deeply beautiful" work, I tip my hats to these gents for bringing out the King Lear and Chinese references that I missed on my first reading.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Kicking off the Book Madness...

This is an interesting link that I found the other day - it raises an interesting discussion around actual facts. In light of the high number of female writers and the fact that women have the majority in readership, why are there still so few prominent female authors? Discuss.