Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Music City Word Beat: Most Popular and Bestselling Books in Nashville, August 2014

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 8:31 AM


The official end of summer is here, and it's already time for our monthly look at the most popular books around town, courtesy of Nashville Public Library and Parnassus Books. It's a fun way to take a look at reading, literacy and literature in the area, and we call it Music City Word Beat.

This is our second look at popular titles, and we have a few repeats from last month, including John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. These substantial examples of fiction are staying in the news because they're still selling like crazy — a hopeful sign that the world's interest in data doesn't have to eclipse its interest in knowledge. As Mr. Pink predicted last month, Memphis author Hampton Sides' harrowing account of an 1880s polar expedition, In the Kingdom of Ice, did indeed become a bestseller following Sides' Salon@615 appearance. Other new entries include local authors of note, like Tony Earley's short story collection Mr. Tall and Julie Danielson's Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature.

Take a look at past months here, and if you have a recommendation on a good book, tell us in the comments!

Without further ado, the full list:

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die Book Party Tomorrow at Howlin' Books

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 3:15 PM

100 Things To Do In Nashville Before You Die Book Party
Where: Howlin' Books, 1702 Eighth Ave. S.
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27

AAN Award-winning Vodka Yonic editor and troublemaker-about-town Abby White has added "book writer" to her already impressive list of accomplishments with the just-published Music City guidebook 100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die. Join her tomorrow at Howlin' Books for a celebration.

From the book's description:

Nashville has been called many things: ''Music City,'' the ''Athens of the South,'' or even ''It City.'' (Thanks for that last one, New York Times.) But many of us just call it home, and while we're grateful that a bunch of travel and food magazines think we're awesome, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves. Whether you reside in the 615 or just like to visit, there is a lot to eat, drink and experience here. Perhaps you were a karaoke star at Santa's Pub way before Jimmy Buffet and Toby Keith filmed a music video there, but have you washed down a Donkey Leg with a Donkey Punch at Donks? Meat and three at Arnold's is indisputably fantastic, but what about the Italian meat and three at Savarino's? Everyone knows that you can get a superb cocktail at Patterson House or City House, but do you know which bar has the best Bushwacker? Maybe it's been a while since you hit the honky tonks on Lower Broad, so you might want to know which one is the best one for dancing with a stranger, and which one is filled with frat boys. Whatever you're looking for-hiking trails, arthouse theaters, record stores, shopping malls, hot chicken — this city has it, and this book will help you find it.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Tony Earley Author Event Tomorrow at Parnassus Books

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 8:15 AM


Tony Earley
Where: Parnassus Books
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26

From Ed Tarkington's story in this week's Scene:

"Well, since you're so damn curious, let me tell you the secret to a long marriage," writes Tony Earley in "Haunted Castles of the Barrier Islands," the first story in his new collection, Mr. Tall. "If you want to stay together, then don't leave." This epiphany arrives courtesy of "a desiccated old woman with skin the color of nicotine" — one half of an elderly couple who own the Wade 'n' Sea, a deteriorating Outer Banks motel on the verge of being submerged in the Atlantic thanks to the erosion of the coastline. Afterwards, the other half of this odd couple — an invalid in a wheelchair — delivers his own insight: "Your car," the old man says, "is shit." This gem of a scene sums up much of what makes Mr. Tall such a small miracle of a story collection: pathos and insight juxtaposed with a moment of pure comic absurdity.

The broader context of "Haunted Castles" establishes the central theme of Mr. Tall: the perils of negotiating life's second acts. Darryl and Cheryl, small-town newspaper publishers who have taken early retirement when their paper gets bought out by a conglomerate, arrive in Wilmington, N.C., to surprise their daughter, a freshman at the university, on her birthday, getting their own surprise when they interrupt the girl in the midst of an afternoon rendezvous with "a scrawny wannabe surfer" in "temporarily indecent board shorts." After a brief and awkward effort to engage their annoyed and aloof progeny, Darryl and Cheryl sulk away to the Outer Banks, where Cheryl hopes a chance to look at the ocean will soothe them through the troubling experience of discovering that their child is growing away from them. There they meet the elderly proprietors of the Wade 'n' Sea, whose very existence embodies the tension between risk and reward inherent in the passage of time.

Read the full story here.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deadly Deeds Underway at Killer Nashville Downtown

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 12:05 PM


Typically when you put several hundred people in a confined space with murder on their minds, you get … the hell outta there as fast as you can. But organizer Clay Stafford has turned Killer Nashville, Music City’s annual conference for the writing, researching and publishing of crime fiction, into a veritable Grand Ole Opry of literary skulduggery.

Following in the bloody footsteps of previous visitors such as Peter Straub and C.J. Box, this year’s guests of honor have made their killings on the bestseller list: William Kent Krueger, creator of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, who published the stand-alone novel Ordinary Grace last year to acclaim; and Lisa Jackson, the specialist in serial-killer thrillers who’s left bodies strewn from Savannah to San Francisco. Today's guests include Boston investigative reporter and award-winning crime novelist Hank Phillippi Ryan (The Wrong Girl).

For those wanting to get in on the ground floor of gore for profit, there’ll be more than 60 sessions as well as manuscript critiques, networking opportunities, wine tastings, roundtables with editors, agents and publishers, the presentation of the annual Claymore Award for the best first 50 pages of an unpublished work, and even the chance to investigate a mock crime scene … or is it? Now there’s an idea for a book.

The event runs through Sunday at the new Omni Nashville downtown. Day passes range from $118-135; a three-day pass is $230, with other events extra. The full release is below. Click here for more information.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Salon@615's Fall Season Starts with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Connie Britton, Sept. 20

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 11:35 AM

On Saturday, Sept. 20, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand kicks off the fall season of Nashville Public Library's Salon@615 series with an appearance at Belmont's McAfee Concert Hall. She'll discuss Off the Sidelines, the forthcoming print version of her online campaign to encourage women to take active roles in policymaking, an issue on which she puts her PAC's money where her mouth is. She has plenty of experience to distill: In 2008, New York's governor David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat left vacant when President Obama made Hillary Clinton Secretary of State, a seat which Gillibrand won on her own in a 2010 special election and again in 2012. Since then, she's been an active presence on Capitol Hill — a phrase you don't hear often these days — advocating for issues like marriage equality and protection for victims of sexual assault in the armed forces.

Since Belmont hosted the second 2008 presidential debate, you could say this isn't the school's first rodeo with national political figures, but is the stately campus ready for Raynamania? The Q&A with Gillibrand will take the form of a conversation with Connie Britton, who you may remember from the TV series Friday Night Lights and American Horror Story but you definitely know from her role as Rayna Jaymes on ABC's Nashville (which happens to kick off its third season the following Wednesday, Sept. 24).

Each $32.50 ticket includes a copy of Off the Sidelines.

This event is the first in a solid season of Salons, including visits from novelists Jodi Picoult and Carl Hiaasen. Take a look at the full schedule below.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jon Scieszka Author Event Today at Brentwood Barnes & Noble

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Jon Scieszka Discusses Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor
When: 4 p.m. Aug. 19
Where: Brentwood Barnes & Noble

From Tracy Barrett's story in this week's Scene:

Jon Scieszka is the author of more than 50 books for young readers, starting with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (illustrated by Lane Smith) and continuing through several popular series and stand-alone titles. In 2008 he served as the first U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor is the first book in a new series focused on science whiz-kid Frank Einstein and his Grampa Al. Frank creates two robots to help him make an antimatter motor in hopes of winning a science prize that will earn enough money to pay Grampa Al's mortgage, but his nemesis, T. Edison, is determined to thwart him.

Scieszka grew up with five brothers and is dedicated to writing books that all children, both boys and girls, will read. In 2001, concerned that boys tend to read less and less starting in middle school, he founded Guys Read, a Web-based literacy program intended to keep boys reading. He recently answered questions about the program — and his own writing — via email.

Your books are noted for their humor. Do you have to work for that humor, or does it come naturally?

I have a harder time not writing humor than writing humor. If people aren't laughing, it makes me nervous. But contrary to what a lot of people think, it is not easy to write humor. It is the same kind of ditch-digging as writing anything. To make it really good you have to write and rewrite and rewrite some more.

I have been having all kinds of fun writing the Frank Einstein series. Robots, chimpanzee CFO, crazy inventions — but in the middle of Book 1, about the fourth or fifth or 28th rewrite, I realized again, like I always do, that writing is a very hard and very anti-social job. You have to hide yourself away, and get that story in your head down on paper. One. Word. At. A. Time. Excruciating!

Read the rest of Barrett's interview with Scieszka, and watch a video of Scieszka discussing his work in a Random House Audio video after the jump.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Scott Turow to Receive 2014 Nashville Public Library Literary Award

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Scott Turow
  • Scott Turow

We have not received any kind of official announcement, but it would appear that the 2014 Nashville Public Library Literary Award will go to Scott Turow. He's been listed on the author page for the library foundation's annual gala.

Perhaps best known for his best-selling novel Presumed Innocent, Turow has written plenty since and besides, including nine novels and two non-fiction books.

In recent years, as president of the Writers Guild, Turow has publicly discussed the evolving book market. In 2012, he sent "grim news" to guild members:

Publishing shouldn’t have to choose between bricks and clicks. A robust book marketplace demands both bookstore showrooms to properly display new titles and online distribution for the convenience of customers. Apple thrives on this very model: a strong retail presence to display its high-touch products coupled with vigorous online distribution. While bookstores close, Apple has been busy opening more than 300 stores.

The news was even more grim by 2013, when Turow penned "The Slow Death of the American Author" for The New York Times:

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mark Your Calendars: Mountain Goats' John Darnielle to Discuss Wolf in White Van Sept. 24 at Parnassus

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 4:53 PM


As the leader (and sometimes sole member) of the Mountain Goats, John Darnielle's name has become synonymous with some of the most gripping, literate songwriting of the past 25 years. He's made dozens of records rooted in folk music — sometimes spare, sometimes lavishly if tastefully appointed, but always filled with rich and subtle character studies and an eye for unnerving detail that you might compare to an author like Cormac McCarthy or a director like Guillermo del Toro.

Darnielle has previously published one book, the 33 1/3 volume on Black Sabbath's Master of Reality, but his first work of fiction is due next month from Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. Wolf in White Van introduces us to characters and wraps us in a plot that could be right out of one of Darnielle's songs. Sean Phillips is the creator of a text-based role-playing game called Trace Italian whose players correspond by snail mail — a long-distance game of Dungeons and Dragons, if you like, in which player characters navigate a dystopian future America. Two teenage players lose the boundary between the game world and the real world, with disastrous consequences, and Phillips is held responsible. The story unfolds, shifting back and forth in time until until arriving at the very beginning: the accident that left 17-year-old Phillips disfigured for life, leading him to create the immersive Trace world that has caused so much heartbreak.

Darnielle will be at Parnassus Books for a discussion and signing on September 24, starting at 6:30 p.m.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Visit to Poetry Sucks! at Fond Object Records; Language Lessons Now Available

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Poetry Sucks!/Language Lessons curator Chet Weise

While the First Saturday Art Crawl was happening in The Arcade, Wedgewood-Houston and elsewhere last Saturday night, local rocker and literature booster Chet Weise hosted the latest installment of Poetry Sucks! over at Fond Object. The irregular live music and poetry series recently went physical: Weise co-edited Language Lessons: Volume I, the poetry/art/music anthology published Tuesday by Third Man Books (as a special surprise, copies were available at the show, a few days ahead of time). Due to another commitment, I rolled into Riverside Village about 8:30 — two hours after the event began — and frankly missed quite a lot. PS! is a free event, but what I did get to see would've been worth paying a cover charge.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nashville Public Library Announces Fine Amnesty Week August 16-23

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM


If you're like me, you have a tendency to forget things when you get busy. As far as my brain is concerned, certain birthdays, anniversaries and names of distant relatives may as well be coated in olive oil. I doubt you'll be surprised to learn that the balance of overdue fines on my account is pretty stout. That's why I'm excited that Nashville Public Library has announced Fine Amnesty Week August 16-23.

To be eligible to have my overdue fees waived during that period, all I have to do is participate in this year's Summer Challenge, a free-form program designed to encourage everyone (especially kids) to read, write and participate in other mind-expanding activities, like visiting museums (including the awesome Watch Me Move animation exhibit at the Frist!). I just have to register, track the points I earn for each activity, and turn them in at a local library branch before the Summer Challenge ends on August 15.

I'm a little late to the party, but there's no specific point count I have to reach, thanks to the efforts of a ton of busy Library patrons: Since May 1, over 20,000 Summer Challenge participants have collectively logged over 750,000 points, well beyond the 500,000 point threshold set by the Library staff to unlock Fine Amnesty Week. You can visit your local library branch for more details, or learn more about the Summer Challenge and Fine Amnesty Week (and the other prizes available in the program) on the Library's website.

Now, where did I put my library card?

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