You’ve certainly heard of Jonathan Franzen’s most famous books, The Corrections and Freedom, but maybe not his terrific but under-read debut novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, now available in a special 25th-anniversary edition from Picador Modern Classics. In honor of his first novel, Franzen talked to EW about some of the other books that impacted him as an author and person — as well as some books and authors he considers overrated. READ FULL STORY
Tag: Book Quiz (1-8 of 8)
Diana Gabaldon’s latest novel, The Scottish Prisoner (out Nov. 29), continues her epic, wildly popular Lord John series. We gave our signature book quiz to the historical fiction author to see which books make her cry, which ones inspired her to write, and which ones she never reads in public.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What book are you reading now?
DIANA GABALDON: I’m actually reading two or three of them right now. I’m reading The Book of Fungi, which is a life-sized guide to 600 species from around the world by Peter Roberts and Shelley Evans, which is extremely good. I’m reading the World Almanac of the American Revolution and Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Those are background research for the book that I’m working on at the moment. For fun, I just finished reading Right Ho, Jeeves, which is a P.G. Wodehouse book.
So you read a mix of nonfiction and fiction, which makes sense for you.
Yeah! In fact, I just picked up Alan Bradley’s brand new book, the fourth Flavia de Luce book I’m Half-Sick of Shadows. I just started that one this morning.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Well, I can’t remember not being able to read. I was told I could read by myself very well at the age of three. The earliest books that I can remember reading myself were Frank Buck’s Jungle books, which are full of rhinoceri and all of that, a couple of the early Oz books, and a picture book, which I remember very, very vividly, the main character of which is a very troglodyte-ish character named Mr. Mixie-Dough, and I don’t remember anything about the story, but I remember the book very vividly because of the images which were very beautiful — sort of primitive but complex images on a black background and vivid colors, and that book just gave me the most intense feeling of beautiful mystery about it. So I always loved it despite the fact that I don’t remember anything about the story itself. It’s called The Baker Man, and it’s actually by Vernon Grant, whose main distinction — other than being a very good artist — is that he’s the person who designed and drew Snap, Crackle, and Pop, the cereal elves. [Laughs] READ FULL STORY
On Wednesday night, Jesmyn Ward joined the likes of William Faulkner and Jonathan Franzen when she won the National Book Award for fiction. Her novel, Salvage the Bones, is a searing portrait of a poor African American family living in coastal Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. Ward took a moment to talk to EW about her big win and share some of her favorite books that inspire her as a writer.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did any part of you think you would win?
JESMYN WARD: Not at all. I did not. [Laughs] You know, I’d written an acceptance speech just in case, because I figured I had a 20 percent chance of winning, but I did not expect to win. Actually, as they were announcing the winners in each category on Wednesday night, I just kept telling myself to breathe. I was mentally preparing myself to smile and clap and be happy for whoever won, and I just knew that was not going to be me. When they read my name aloud, I don’t think it registered until my publicist grabbed me by the shoulders, said my name very loudly, and shook me. That’s when it hit me that I’d actually won. READ FULL STORY
'Wicked' author Gregory Maguire takes the EW Book Quiz: His favorite childhood book, and the classic he's never read
Fifteen years and a wildly popular Broadway musical later, author Gregory Maguire is putting an end — maybe — to his Wizard of Oz-inspired series of books with the publication of the fourth Wicked Years novel, Out of Oz, available now. Before we say goodbye (or see you later) to the Emerald City as Maguire imagined it, EW asked the author about some of his favorite and not-so favorite books.
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Diamond in the Window. It takes place in Concord, Massachusetts, and that’s where I live now. I moved here in part because of that book, both the magic in it and the sense that magic was just a metaphor for a deeper, metaphysical way of thinking about existence. That was such a powerful part of my understanding the world and my understanding of the power of literature that in a way, I fell in love with Concord, Massachusetts because of that book because of that book, and that’s why I live here more than 40 years later. READ FULL STORY
Carl Hiaasen’s latest novel, Star Island, is a hilarious satire of modern fame about a Lindsay Lohan-esque celebrity named Cherry Pye and her body double, who accidentally gets kidnapped by a crazed paparazzo. We gave our patented (not actually) book quiz to the Florida-based author to see what books make him cry, laugh, and feel enough shame to hide behind a magazine.
What book are you reading now?
I haven’t started it yet, but the book that’s on the nightstand is [Karl Marlantes' Vietnam novel] Matterhorn, which by all accounts is supposed to be a pretty incredible book. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but that’s what’s on the bed-stand. For those of us who grew up during that war, it’s still something that I remained intrigued and mortified by at the same time.
It’s kind of amazing that the book was 30 years in the making.
I think I understand it. A lot of great books take time, and I think, if I’m not mistaken, it came from his personal experiences.
Bella who? These days it’s all about Katniss Everdeen, the tough-as-nails 16-year-old star of Suzanne Collins’ hugely popular post-apocalyptic series. When the first novel, The Hunger Games, blazed onto the scene in September 2008, it became an immediate best-seller. Stephenie Meyer wrote on her blog, “I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn’t have to stop reading,” and Stephen King reviewed it for EW, calling it “a violent, jarring speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense.” Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy, was published to equal hubbub in September, prompting Lionsgate to snatch the series’ film rights—though the question of who will play Katniss is still up in the air. Now Scholastic has ordered a massive 1.2 million first printing of Mockingjay, which goes on sale Aug. 24. So it seemed like a pretty good time to give Collins our EW book quiz.
Entertainment Weekly: Which classic have you never read—but pretended you did?
Suzanne Collins: I sort of half read Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. It was assigned in 10th grade, and I just couldn’t get into it. About seven years later I rediscovered Hardy, and consumed four of his novels in a row. Katniss Everdeen owes her last name to Bathsheba Everdene, the lead character in Far From the Madding Crowd. The two are very different, but both struggle with knowing their hearts.
What book would you use to swat a fly?
I try to catch flies in cups and put them outside. After I wrote The Underland Chronicles…well, once you start naming cockroaches, you lose your edge.
Humorist Dave Barry’s life has changed since he retired from his weekly column in 2005. In his latest book, I’ll Mature When I’m Dead – published this week -- he writes about being the father of the groom, what it’s like to get a colonoscopy and how to save the newspaper business (hint: he has no clue). He recently spoke with EW about everything from what fictional character he most identifies with to the best book to read in flight.
What book changed your life?
The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoevsky. I was supposed to read it my freshman year in college, but it’s 18 million pages long and I could never get past the first 43. Nevertheless I wrote a paper about it, and I got an OK grade, which taught me that I could write convincingly about things I did not remotely understand. This paved the way for my career in journalism.
Which book has the best movie version?
The Godfather. I would say Animal House, but I don’t think there’s a book version of that, unless Dostoevsky wrote one.
What’s the best author to read on airplanes?
Chuck Norris. Because when you read a Chuck Norris book, the person in the next seat will not bother you.
Which fictional character do you most identify with?
James Bond, because he is licensed to kill. I am not, technically, licensed to kill, but I am licensed to make really sarcastic remarks.
What’s a classic that you’ve secretly never read?
Crime and Punishment, by Dostoevsky. Some day I am going to buy it and read the first 43 pages.
Who is the author whose next book you always look forward to the most?
Chuck Norris. I keep leaving his earlier book on the plane.
True Blood fans, you have Charlaine Harris to thank for the highly addictive series; it’s based on her wildly popular Sookie Stackhouse novels. The latest edition, Dead in the Family, is out May 4. We gave the Southern native a quick quiz on some of her favorite books — including the one she wishes she could read again and again.
What’s a book you’ve faked reading?
Moby Dick. I gave it a tremendous try, but I don’t think I ever finished. Oh, The Magic Mountain, too.
What was your favorite book as a child?
What’s a book you’ve gone back to and read over and over?
Pride and Prejudice.
What author (living or dead) would you most like to meet?
I know most of the living writers I’d wanted to meet, which is one of the great things about my job. I would have loved to have met Shirley Jackson.
What’s a book you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston.
What fictional character would you most like to marry?
Ha! Hmmm. Mr. Rochester? Darcy? Nope. Oh, I know! Bones, from Jeaniene Frost’s books.
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