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Tag: What I'm Reading (1-10 of 15)

Halloween: Scary book picks from EW staffers

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Though no zombie or Kim Kardashian costume could be more frightening than Hurricane Sandy, a terrifying book can give you a dose of fun-scary before Halloween. I asked some of my esteemed colleagues at EW to name some of the books that gave them nightmares. Of course, some old standbys came up, including some by horror master Stephen King, but others were a little unexpected.

Click through for some bone-chilling recommendations!

FIRST UP: Books editor Tina Jordan chooses a novel by the author of “The Lottery”

Will Schwalbe discusses his affecting new memoir 'The End of Your Life Book Club'

When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, she didn’t want to slow down. A tireless advocate for refugees around the world, Mary Anne didn’t stop striving to build a library in Afghanistan — or continuing to discover new literature with her son Will. In his engrossing, deeply moving new memoir The End of Your Life Book Club (EW grade: A), Will Schwalbe writes about his mother’s last days through the prism of the things they read together. He took the time to talk to EW about his mother’s inspiring legacy and the transformative power of books.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your mother Mary Anne was clearly an exceptional person with very impressive accomplishments and passions — but in a way, I felt like she was every great mom, and you were like every child of a great mom who wanted to give her the tribute she deserved.
WILL SCHWALBE: There’s no reaction that could make me happier than that reaction. I’m very proud of my mother. But when she died, there was no obituary in the New York Times. She wasn’t famous. In fact, I don’t think her name was ever in the New York Times, and that’s true of most people’s moms. I like to think of her as an extraordinary, ordinary person. There are so many extraordinary, ordinary people across the country — people who are fantastic mothers and adore their children, and their children adore them, and do incredible things in their communities. I was in publishing for 21 years, and I saw a lot of really wonderful memoirs by people who had very difficult times with their mothers. In fact, it’s almost a kind of genre, yet there are a lot of people who have great mothers. In some ways, I feel like this is a celebration of moms. READ FULL STORY

Read this book! Rebecca Harrington on her Harvard-set novel 'Penelope'

Penelope is one of those novels that’s more than entertaining enough to take to the beach but can still dazzle you with its wit and razor-sharp intelligence. In person, Rebecca Harrington, the 26-year-old author who wrote Penelope, conveys a similar mix of bubbliness and literary geekiness: Our conversation over craft beers and truffle fries covered everything from Kristen Stewart’s messy personal life to contemporary adaptions of classical Greek theater.

Harrington doesn’t appear to have much in common with her titular character. In the novel, Penelope O’Shaunessy arrives at Harvard completely blindsided by the pretentiousness and bizarre social behaviors of her classmates. Like a cypher, she shows up to every student event she’s invited to, quietly (and hilariously) observing the goings-on — a ludicrous student production of Caligula, endless pre-gaming sessions for parties that never happen, a literary magazine meeting that will have you laughing out loud — while engaging her surroundings with mostly one-word responses like, “Yeah” and “Sure.” “She thinks that if she’s agreeable, she’ll somehow be seamlessly accepted into some kind of group,” says Harrington of her deadpan, painfully awkward heroine. “But really, nobody seems to care.” READ FULL STORY

'New York' Grub Street editor Alyssa Shelasky on 'Apron Anxiety' and the allure of dating a chef

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Grub Street editor Alyssa Shelasky is the ideal dinner partner. She’ll never bore you with a discussion of in-season ingredients or the best cuts of pork belly. She’d much rather talk about reality TV — “American Idol makes me hate humanity sometimes” — or about dating and sex. Her food philosophy is simple: “Food is what I eat when I’m hungry. I prefer it to be nice food and hopefully from a farm where good, healthy things are happening.”

I met Shelasky at Tertulia, a busy Spanish taverna in the West Village, for an early dinner to talk about Apron Anxiety, her new memoir based on her blog of the same name. It’s one of those recipes-sprinkled-through-the-narrative books, which could be grating if it weren’t so disarming and fun. Shelasky’s story begins with her upbringing in suburban Massachusetts and moves on to her booze-soaked 20s, during which she mingled with celebrities (including a pre-Giselle Tom Brady) while working as a New York-based reporter for US Weekly and People magazine. Her enviable lifestyle slowed down when she turned 30 and moved to Washington D.C. with her new celebrity chef boyfriend (referred to as “Chef” in the book, but you can figure out his real identity with a simple Google search). Her quieter life didn’t turn out to be the lovefest she was hoping for. Chef was working 16-hour days opening a new restaurant, and Shelasky struggled to find a place in his food-obsessed existence. Her usual joie de vivre and self-confidence faded, and this avowedly undomestic girl turned to cooking to fix her broken psyche. READ FULL STORY

'My Week with Marilyn': How the book stacks up to the movie

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Marilyn Monroe was such a big star at her height that one young man’s brief encounters with her spawned not one but two memoirs, which in turn inspired a feature film that’s currently generating Oscar buzz. The two books by the late Colin Clark both document the author’s experiences at the age of 23 as the third assistant director — or really, as an errand boy — on the conflict-ridden, six-month-long shoot of The Prince and the Showgirl starring Monroe and Laurence Olivier. His first book about the shoot, The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me (1995), consists of his day-to-day, fly-on-the-wall journals of his on-set observations. The second book, My Week With Marilyn (2000), takes a deeper look at a magical nine-day period (mentioned just briefly in the first book) in the middle of that six months in which Monroe lured Clark into a semi-romantic affair. While the two books — published only five years apart — take a markedly different stance on Monroe as a person and an actress, My Week With Marilyn the movie, as the title would suggest, adheres very closely to the book of the same name, although it draws some expository details from the first book as well. Weinstein Books, the publishing arm of the studio that produced the film, has released the two books in one volume for the first time. Whether you have or haven’t seen the movie, is the book worth reading? (Minor spoilers ahead). READ FULL STORY

Shelf Life Confessional: Which books have made you lose it in public?

During the weekends, New York City is a hectic, overcrowded, energetic place to be. Throw in some great fall weather and additional out-of-town marathoners and you’ve got one even more hectic, overcrowded, energetic place to be. During these sort of weekends, a quiet moment in this city is about as reasonable a thing to expect as finding an affordable apartment.

So don’t ask me why I opted to read Mindy Kaling’s quirky, sweet new book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in a busy, bustling park and assumed my giggle fits would go unnoticed. (They didn’t.) I knew I was in trouble when even the introduction made me laugh heartily in a public setting and I only continued to do so through her funny, relatable brand of storytelling. READ FULL STORY

Hot new calendar features male librarians for every month of the year

The male librarian is not as rare a specimen as you might think. In fact, there are enough of them to fill out every month of the year. With the 2012 Men of the Stacks, which is sort of the book world’s answer to sexy firemen calendars, we get photos of a diverse group of men — who also happen to be librarians — in their natural habitats, which isn’t always the library! My favorites are Mr. January (in a pose that’s very, very mildly NSFW), Mr. September, and Mr. December, who’s pictured on the right. Who’s your favorite sexy shusher?

'Moneyball': Love the movie? Read the book by Michael Lewis

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Even if you already saw and loved Moneyball this weekend, it’s still worth your time to read the book by author and financial journalist Michael Lewis. The movie does a great job constructing a narrative from what appears, on first glance, to be a somewhat un-cinematic story, but the source material drives home some of the thematic points in ways that the movie can’t. Reading the book after the movie doesn’t feel like a retread, but rather a closer look at Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) and his Oakland A’s.

People who, like myself, hate baseball will be surprised by how much there is to enjoy in this book (see also: The Art of Fielding). Moneyball isn’t just about baseball; it’s about baseball statistics. On the surface, there’s no worse hell imaginable than having to stare at a page of player facts and figures (I just had to remind myself via Google what “RBI” stands for), but it’s a testament to Lewis’ reporting and writing that the chapter I found most riveting, even inspiring, was about Bill James, the Baseball Abstract author and statistician who inspired Beane’s seemingly counter-intuitive player recruiting philosophy. READ FULL STORY

Jennifer Close, J. Courtney Sullivan, Sloane Crosley: Chick authors who avoid the 'chick-lit' stigma

For some smart, young female novelists, having their books branded “chick lit” is the worst imaginable insult. On Friday, author Polly Courtney wrote about her decision to drop her publisher, HarperCollins, after it tried to “shoe-horn” her latest non-chick-lit novel into a “frilly, chick-lit” package. When the pastel-hued cover doesn’t reflect the work inside, she writes, everyone is disappointed: “the author, for seeing his or her work portrayed as such; the readers, for finding there is too much substance in the plot; and the passers-by, who might actually have enjoyed the contents but dismissed the book on the grounds of its frivolous cover.” No surprise, Courtney’s complaints drew ire from those who have more nuanced views on chick-lit, and this debate will undoubtedly pop up again and again.

But isn’t the term “chick-lit” itself a bit passé, very pre-2006? READ FULL STORY

Justin Torres Q&A: Author of 'We the Animals' speaks to Shelf Life

At a slim 128 pages, We the Animals by 31-year-old first-time novelist Justin Torres makes an unforgettable impression. It’s a story about a difficult childhood and adolescence, but it’s not without flashes of joy. The narrator, who goes unnamed, is the youngest of three boys. He tells of growing up with a fragile white mother and an unpredictable Puerto Rican father. Writing in visceral yet elegant prose, Torres proves to be an author to watch – – he depicts the violence and messiness of young boyhood with incredible authenticity and takes the novel to unexpected, startling places. Having recently been published in The New Yorker, Torres took a moment before embarking on a national book tour to talk to me about We the Animals and what’s coming next. [Spoiler alert]

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So I know your novel is partially autobiographical, which is something a lot of fiction writers seem to look down upon because it’s seen as being less imaginative, perhaps — what’s uniquely creative about fictionalizing real life? READ FULL STORY

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