Intro: [00:02] Welcome to The Readerly Report. Your hosts are Gayle Weiswasser and Nicole Bonia. We hope you enjoy our candid book conversations, recommendations and observations on the reading life. Thanks so much for joining us.
Nicole: [00:20] Welcome to another edition of The Readerly Report. Today, Gayle and I are coming to you to discuss our gift guide. We figured we’d get it out there a little early so you have some time to think about some things and what you might want to get for the bookish people in your life. So what we did was we came up with a couple of categories that we’re going to have in common. Gayle and I of course did not share what it is that we will be picking, so there will be an element of surprise for us. Yeah, so we didn’t share all of our picks. Actually, I think we did list some and then there’s a couple of categories where we just went rouge and came up with our own things that we thought that would be a good gift for you or a good gift for a friend in your life. So I think that’ll be fun.
Gayle: [01:15] Yeah.
Nicole: [01:18] So we’ll also do our regulars like what we’re reading, we’ll have a little bit of book news, our backlist books and then we will just get into it.
Gayle: [01:28] All right. Have
Nicole: [01:29] So what have you been reading?
Gayle: [01:30] So what have I been reading? Okay, I finished The Giver Of Stars finally and it is completely as expected. It was entertaining.
Nicole: [01:41] It was all that you planned for it to be?
Gayle: [01:43] Yes, and no more and no less, so that’s good. Then I also started a new book. Okay, so I’ve never read any Elin Hilderbrand, have you?
Nicole: [01:56] Yes.
Gayle: [01:57] Okay. Are you a fan?
Nicole: [01:58] I mean, I like her. She could be reliably expected to come out with a book a year. It’s usually set on some– I think it was– Which Island is hers? Is it Nantucket that she loves?
Gayle: [02:11] Yes.
Nicole: [02:12] So it’s usually set on Nantucket, someone’s usually fleeing some kind of relationship setup, or will discover that their husband has been up to something shady and they kind of go there to recover and regroup. And yeah, that’s like her happy place. I think they’re fine. I wouldn’t read a ton of them in a row but I think to have one come out a year is–
Gayle: [02:36] Yeah, well, I’ve never read any by her but this latest one totally caught my eye because of what it’s about. It’s called 28 Summers, and it’s based on the movie, Same Time Next Year. So it’s about this woman, she’s 51, she’s dying of cancer, and her son finds this note that’s like, “Call this number.” So he calls the number and the person who answers the phone is this guy. This all happens on page one, so I’m not revealing anything. The person who answers the phone is basically the Doug Emhoff of the book. He’s the husband of the woman who’s running for vice president. And it turns out that his mother has been having this one weekend a year affair with him.
[03:26] And it goes back in time to 1993 and it traces every year of their relationship, I guess. So in fact, I’m now in 1994 maybe, and they haven’t even met yet. But what I love about it is each year, she opens it with like, “What were we talking about in 1993?” and she lists all the things that [were] big in 1993. And I am the same age almost as the protagonist, so when she goes back to 1993 when she’s like 24 years old, that’s exactly how old I was in 1993. So I was like, “I have to read this.” So I think it’ll be a good page turner-y read. And I’ve gotten some of my best friends from college to do a buddy read with me on it because it’s like their lives too. So, anyway, I’m reading–
Nicole: [04:16] So is it bringing back memories of 1993? What were you doing in 1993? whatever.
Gayle: [04:21] Yeah. When it opens, she’s living on the Upper West Side and that’s where I was living.
Nicole: [04:28] In 1993?
Gayle: [04:29] Yeah. I mean, she quickly moves to Nantucket, but at least for the first like, five pages, she was in New York. So yeah, so it’s going to be fun, I think. And then on audio, I don’t know, I’m in a historical fiction mood, I’m reading the latest book by Christina Baker Kline called The Exiles, and it’s about three women in mid-1800s in Australia. And one of them has ended up there because she was sent there because she was a prisoner in England, which is how they kind of colonized Australia is they sent all these prisoners there. So I’m not very far into that one either, maybe like the first 30 pages or something, but it’s seems good. I don’t know why historical fiction seems good to me right now. It’s transporting the out of 2020. Although I will say, today is Sunday, the eighth, and I will say 2020 just got a little better after yesterday, so it’s not as bad as it was.
Nicole: [05:36] Yeah, I was out. New York was very excited yesterday. I ventured out to have a congratulatory cocktail with a friend and we stayed out for dinner and just kind of walked around, and people were just randomly cheering and bursting into song and it was a very fun atmosphere. We were over in Washington Square Park for a while.
Gayle: [05:58] Oh nice.
Nicole: [05:59] And then we were over at Stonewall.
Gayle: [06:03] Nice. DC was just completely electrified yesterday. It was great.
Nicole: [06:10] We were at Stonewall, and I think that they spliced together audio of Trump saying “You’re fired” from all of his episodes of The Apprentice, so we’re walking by and you just hear, “You’re fired. You’re fired. You’re fired.”
Gayle: [06:25] That’s awesome.
Nicole: [06:26] Just like “What is going on over here?”
Gayle: [06:30] That’s awesome. My husband took my kids to the White House yesterday and it was just packed. I mean, it wasn’t great for social distancing. But it was very exciting. The crowd was just very, very excited, like two blocks from the White House. You can’t get that close to the White House anymore because he’s barricaded the whole thing up, but it was pretty cool.
Nicole: [06:53] Yeah, Stonewall is only about two blocks from where I am so I had to walk by that big crowd. And a lot of people had masks on, but there were a few who would pop up and there weren’t any masks, which is problematic for if you aren’t social distancing, but at least it was outside. It was a nice day.
Gayle: [07:15] Yeah.
Nicole: [07:17] I posted a story from down there, and my comment was, “This is great. Love the weather except global warming.”
Gayle: [07:26] God I know.
Nicole: [07:26] It was like 70 degrees. I had a jacket on because I was thinking, “Okay, maybe it’s going to be in the 60s. The sun’s going to go down. It’s going to get cool.” It was so warm.
Gayle: [07:37] Yeah. What are you reading?
Nicole: [07:40] I finished a book, Gayle.
Gayle: [07:42] Oh my god. Congratulations.
Nicole: [07:46] We’ve totally switch places.
Gayle: [07:48] Was it Addie?
Nicole: [07:49] It was Addie LaRue. The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue. I think you will really like it because there is that magical element but like I said, it’s not a massive part of the story. It has this element where she goes, like, past and present, you know, you’re kind of alternating. You’re in the present and you’re seeing her story unfold, and she’s telling you these things that she’s learned about her the situation and her curse, like what are the limitations and how she has to live her life. And we go back, and we see her at these different points in history, usually on the same day, which I think you’ll like as well, just because this is when she will usually have a catch up with the God who has granted her this existence, which in a lot of ways is much like a curse. And you kind of get to see the progress she’s made and whether she’s going to give in and give him her soul at the moment, or if she’s going to continue to live on. And she finally meets a young man who’s able to remember her when she goes to this bookstore. So there’s a cat named book in it. So there’s just lots of things to like in there and it was a really good story.
Gayle: [09:05] Does it go all the way to the present day?
Nicole: [09:10] I think present day for them might have been 2014.
Gayle: [09:14] Okay, but modern like this century?
Nicole: [09:16] Right, yes.
Gayle: [09:17] Okay. I have the book in the house now.
Nicole: [09:19] Oh, you swapped for it?
Gayle: [09:21] I swapped, or I bought it, I can’t remember. I’m in a lot of swap threads and then also people selling books, which are usually like 12 bucks. So I do a lot of that too. And I don’t have to worry about do I have something they want? I can just Venmo them $20 dollars.
Nicole: [09:36] Get what you want.
Gayle: [09:37] Yeah, and they send it. Actually, somebody was selling a huge stack of books. And I was like maybe the 50th commenter on her thread, and I was like, “Is Addie still available?” I couldn’t believe it would still be there. And she texted me right back. She’s like, yes, no one has bought it yet.” So it’s like, “Oh my god. Sign me up.” So yeah, I have it in the house, so I’ll try to get to it before the end of the year.
Nicole: [10:03] What thread is that? I need that thread because there’s things I could sell.
Gayle: [10:06] I’ll send it to you. Yeah, it’s great. It’s Book of the Month plus, so BOTM+ buy/sell. So what that means is–
Nicole: [10:18] So these are books that don’t necessarily have to be Book of the Month.
Gayle: [10:21] Yeah. They don’t have to be Book of the Month picks, they could be anything. A lot of them are Book of the Month picks, but many of them are not. But you cannot sell arcs because you can’t sell arcs in general.
Nicole: [10:33] Right? So they abide by that.
Gayle: [10:34] So they have to be finished copies. Right. So if you have an arc, that’s much better to go on the swap sites. So there’s BOTM Swap. Plus I’m in Spivey Swap. They’re both great. They’re both very active. And I would say 70% of my Facebook feed is swap posts.
Nicole: [10:48] Wow, you have a problem.
Gayle: [10:54] I have a problem? Oh my God, you don’t even know.
Nicole: [10:57] When we can travel, when we can safely visit again, I’m coming, staying for a weekend.
Gayle: [11:03] But yeah, the thing is, these are all current, good books. Like you would look at them and be like, “Oh, yeah, that’s supposed to be good. Like that’s supposed to be good.” My problem is no longer the old arcs. I still read some of those but now these are all hardcopy of good, current books that I would really like to read, that I’ve swapped for or bought for $12. And they’re just, I mean, proliferating is an understatement. They’re like mushrooming.
Nicole: [11:29] By the time they get to you, it will be a problem, because that’s a problem for me. I did a purge. This man who lives in my building, his daughter is a teacher. And I guess they don’t have a lot of books in their library. And I’m just like, “I have so many bags of books that you could take.” So I gave him those and I think he may have gotten some arcs that I thought were particularly good. And then the rest I recycled because there’s just not enough places to put them.
[12:01] But that’s my problem is that every book that I have is a book that has survived many purges and that I legitimately would love to read, but at the same time, books are still always coming in and this has really put a dent in my– Because I had on my Goodreads list that I was going to read 104 books this year, which normally would not be a problem. It would be two books a week between my commute and just my early Saturday morning before brunch, anything, knock out a book, but that just did not happen this year. I mean, I don’t think I finished anything in October. So I’ve just finished Addie LaRue and there’s a couple of more things I want to finish. Plus we’ve decided to read Anne of Green Gables together to discuss this. So I don’t know, it’s like, Goodreads says I’m 55 books behind. I may edit my–
Gayle: [13:00] I think you should just cancel the challenge. On Goodreads, yeah.
Nicole: [13:02] Right. Or edit it down to 40 books so I can feel good about myself.
Gayle: [13:08] All right, we should probably get into the gift guide or the book news.
Nicole: [13:13] Let me see. Let me see if the book news is something because I definitely want to get to everything. But I’m also still listening to The Meaning Of Mariah Carey and still really liking that. So The Secret is going to be a movie, to do some book news. It’s going to be starring Katie Holmes. As with everything in Hollywood, whenever they make these nonfiction books, they’re usually about romance. Eat Pray Love was, but Eat Pray Love actually had a narrative that I think lent itself to being made into a movie. If you remember What to Expect When You’re Expecting, they made that into a movie which they made it about couples and stuff, even though that is a nonfiction, literally what to expect when you’re expecting guide book.
Gayle: [14:04] Yeah. That’s stupid, I’m sorry.
Nicole: [14:06] So The Secret, they have made into a movie with Katie Holmes. She’s going to be starring as a widowed mother of three children, I guess, who’s going to be looking for love or something. And I guess she will be using the principles of The Secret to do so. So last week, we discussed that the Bridgerton Series is going to be on Netflix and that Shonda Rhimes is doing it. Buzz is building around it. They are comparing it to Gossip Girl and saying it’s like a throwback Gossip Girl. And the Amazon Book Review is rushing out these best of 2020 books as recommended by celebrities. So, so far, Stephen King, Hoda Kotb, Lili Reinhart, Natalie Portman are celebrities who have shared their lists.
Gayle: [15:01] So Amazon is just rushing out the lists?
Nicole: [15:04] Well, I’m saying they’re kind of rushing them out. I mean, it’s end of October, early November.
Gayle: [15:08] Oh I see. So they’re just getting the list out there so people can start their holiday shopping.
Nicole: [15:12] Right. And I guess were doing our gift guide right now so maybe we’re all on the same page with that. But I think those lists in the next week will start popping up because we always comment that there’s still six weeks in the year left, but they will be out.
Gayle: [15:28] Well, my independent bookstore that I go to, and actually, every year I wrap books during their holiday season. So I go a couple times and do the gift wrapping, which is a fundraiser for the Washington Literacy Council because people pay $1 for every book that gets wrapped. And then the bookstore donates the wrapping paper, and the volunteers do it so that it makes money. But they’ve moved their members’ sale up, like three weeks. It’s usually the first week of December and now, I think it’s next week. So everyone seems to be backing up the holiday stuff with the expectation that people are going to start earlier and that they may not want to be in stores or malls in a couple weeks.
Nicole: [16:10] And probably too, I think that so many people, so many businesses are just really depending on the Christmas season, which is not expected to be as it was in previous years. Lots of stores make 50 to 75% of their income during the holiday season. So I think a lot of places are possibly trying to make it through a little bit on life support. So maybe as soon as they get those sales or have some indication of what it’s going to be like, they can make decisions that they need to make.
Gayle: [16:41] Mm-hmm.
Nicole: [16:44] Kirkus announced their Book Prize winners. Each winner got $50,000. So Luster, one for fiction, which is a book that I’m in the middle of, I find it so depressing, but well written. Their nonfiction pick is something I haven’t heard of by Mychal Denzel Smith. It’s called Stakes is High: Life After the American dream. And in their young readers’ literature, I Am Everything Good, which is illustrated by Derrick Barnes. So I’ll link to this list that has all of the also what the rest of the nominees were for in each category because I want to be sensitive to our time. But two of the books that were on fiction that I will just mention because we’ve talked about them are Deacon King Kong by James McBride and The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante.
Gayle: [17:44] Nice. Okay.
Nicole: [17:47] I think that does it for the book news. So let’s get into our gift guide and then we will save the backlist books for the end of the show if we get to it because I feel like with the gift guide, I know I have a couple of books that I will mention that are backlist.
Gayle: [18:09] Okay. All right. So, like Nicole said, we’ve each got some categories. They’re not necessarily the categories that you would hear about on other book lists. We try to do something a little different on this show. And we’ve each come up with categories and at least one or two things. They’re not all books. They’re all kind of book adjacent, but they’re not necessarily all books. And we’re just going to go through and say who the recipient is, and then some recommendations for that recipient.
Nicole: [18:41] All right, Gayle start us off.
Gayle: [18:43] Yeah, so book to get your best friends. I think I do this category every year. So for this, I always try to find something that you will want to talk about, that you will share and that may come up in conversation again later and that you will enjoy having shared the reading experience with. So I have two books on that. Actually, one is a trilogy and of the trilogy, I’ve only read one. But it is, and I know it talks about this all the time, it is the Plainsong trilogy by Kent Haruf. I’m spacing these out. I have the second one after Plainsong; I think it’s called Eventide. And I haven’t started it yet because I know I’m going to really like it and I want to savor it. But I recommend this series all the time. They’re just these beautiful, understated books about this small town in Colorado called Salida and I just think they’re so good. I did Plainsong on audio and I’ve got Eventide coming up. These are definitely backlist. I think they came out in the 2000s, maybe even before 2010. I don’t even know. It’s a while ago.
Nicole: [19:59] Do they have a male or female narrator? Do you remember who the narrator is?
Gayle: [20:03] For Plainsong, it was a male narrator, and he was fantastic. I can’t remember his name. But it’s not all male characters. It sounds kind of masculine like the cover, and it’s a male writer and it’s in Colorado. It sounds rugged and male. And it’s not. I mean, there’s plenty of male characters, but there’s also good female characters, and he seems to get them pretty well. So I don’t know who narrates the ones in the next series, but I thought the guy who did Plainsong was fantastic. I mean, like most men, his female voices aren’t perfect. I think sometimes male authors or male narrators do use a falsetto when they do female characters. It drives me crazy. It makes the women sound silly. But I just remember really liking that audio. And these books are not terribly long. They’re very manageable. So that’s the first one.
Nicole: [21:01] The first review I see, it says, “Grim living in a small town.”
Gayle: [21:05] Grim living– Well, I mean, if I’m recommending it so–
Nicole: [21:07] And then the second one was “A bleak book about small town life” but I’m interested.
Gayle: [21:12] This is for which one? For Plainsong?
Nicole: [21:15] This is for Plainsong.
Gayle: [21:16] Yeah. Well, if it’s coming for me, it’s going to be depressing. That’s just how I am. Although I have sunnier fair on this list this year. But yeah, I mean, they’re sort of sad. They’re kind of about loneliness and connection but there’s hope throughout. Like, they may be sad–
Nicole: [22:35] Our Souls at Night was about the same thing and it was beautiful.
Gayle: [22:39] Yep. Hope and connection, right? Or loneliness and connection. So yes, Our Souls at Night is also great. And I would add Our Souls at Night. Basically, anything by Kent Haruf you can’t go wrong. And then my second book for a book to read with your best friend is nonfiction called Craigslist Confessional by Helen damn, I forgot to get the author’s name. I’ll link to it. I forgot what her last name is, or how to pronounce it. But this is a book about her anonymous interviews, or interviews with anonymous people, that she sort of recruits through Craigslist, who all have something interesting to say about their lives, whether it’s an experience they’ve had or a secret they’re hiding or something that happened to them. It’s kind of like imagine a “Humans of New York” type thing but it’s anonymous with no pictures or anything like that. And it’s really good. And I think this would be a nice book to read with someone else so that you could talk about it. And as you go through the stories, you can kind of reflect on them. And because the stories are short, you can extend the life of them by discussing them with someone else. So Craigslist Confessional and the Plainsong trilogy as a book for your best friend.
Nicole: [23:00] Maybe I will check out Craigslist Confessional. One of my friends was living in Brooklyn but gave up her place at the beginning of the pandemic so now she’s in Pittsburgh. So we talk a couple of times a month but usually one of those times, each of us take turns picking books, and talking about them because we would meet all the time when she lived here and when we could meet and discuss and swap books, and I sent her a bunch of books. So that’s another great gift idea for people. Media mail is super cheap. I think I sent her eight or nine books, and it was $6 or something. So if you have some books, and you have some friends that you haven’t seen, and you have some books that you wouldn’t mind letting go of, or you think that they would enjoy, that is a great gift because books can be expensive. So that might be a good thing for us to check out because even to just read that and kind of discuss the stories that grabbed us most.
Gayle: [24:04] Yep.
Nicole: [24:07] All right. So on my list, I have an author that I tried to read last year, whose book I did not like but this one is really jumping out at me. It’s The Guest List by Lucy Foley. And last year, I read The Hunting Party. This is, I just found out, The Hunting Party was her first crime novel, but she has written other novels. She’s written this novel called The Invitation, and she’s also written The Book of Lost and Found. So I think I thought that she was a new author and I just felt like I don’t know, The Hunting Party, I felt like the characters were derivative. She does this thing where there are these people on the periphery. It’s about a party who spends New Year’s Eve together each year. So there’s a bunch of friends who have gone to this lodge that is just cut off from all the services. It starts to snow, and they’re kind of stuck there and someone dies. And so she has these people who are on the periphery of the party, which you kind of wonder, do they have anything to do with it or not. But I just felt like all of the people who went were just kind of stereotypical people, there was not a lot of depth. She had a lot of characters, but not too much depth with any of them.
[25:33] But she’s written this novel called The Guest List, about a wedding that takes place in some small Irish town or Island, and someone does not like that they’re getting married, or there’s something around this couple and someone ends up dead. So I mention this book because I had gone with my aunt to the bookstore and I kind of looked at it. I’ve been giving it the eye for a while because, you know, when you read a book by someone, it wasn’t like the first book was completely terrible. And the second book, I just feel like maybe there’s an opportunity for growth. So she’s kind of interested into– It was a Reese Book Club pick so I feel like there might be things in this one that have improved from the last one. People say it gives them classic Agatha Christie vibes.
Gayle: [26:34] Yeah, sounds like it.
Nicole: [26:35] So there was this other book that I had picked that was Agatha Christie like, it was called, They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell, but it got such bad reviews that I took it off the list. But I’m in the middle of reading it and actually, my friend is reading it too. So I will report back if it is indeed terrible.
Gayle: [26:34] Okay, not gift guide worthy though.
Nicole: [26:37] Right. So I don’t know. I mean, maybe I will find that it is, and I’ll revise, but for right now, no, it’s not on there. So my other book is The Meaning of Mariah Carey. I think similar to the book that you mentioned at the top of the show, The Elin Hilderbrand book, this book is kind of good to read with your friends. I think a lot of us– I was listening to an interview with Trevor Noah, and he interviewed Mariah Carey, and he talked about how her music was just the soundtrack to so many breakups or relationships, or you would hear them when you were out places, the remixes. And I think it’s a fun story to listen to with a friend. Not fun in some aspects because she did really have a tragic life. And I feel like a lot of people look at her and think she– She’s had a very privileged adult life, but she had an abusive husband. She had a lot of abuse going on in her family as she was growing up. And then you just kind of get to see what the moments that were really behind all of these songs that you love. And there’ll be a song you come across, and you realize it’s by Derek Jeter, so there’s a conversation.
Gayle: [28:10] Is the abusive husband, Tommy Mottola, that guy she was married to for a long time?
Nicole: [28:14] Yes.
Gayle: [28:15] Okay.
Nicole: [28:18] So that’s my pick for that.
Gayle: [28:19] Okay, so that was picks for the best friend.
Nicole: [28:20] So our next category, right, is a man in your life. A man in your life, so I guess this could be husband, boyfriend, brother…
Gayle: [28:32] Father
Nicole: [28:33] …Father.
Gayle: [28:35] Okay, so I’ve picked a book here I haven’t read because it’s not out yet. It’s A Promised Land by Barack Obama or boyfriend. I haven’t read it. I’m sure it’s really good. A lot of guys I know seem to like presidential memoirs, so that seems like a no brainer.
Nicole: [28:55] Maybe it’ll be a musical.
Gayle: [28:58] Exactly. But even Lin Manuel had an advanced copy, and he’s already working on it. And then the other thing, and I talked about these on the show last week, so I won’t spend a lot of time on them, but I mentioned that my hair dry book, which I’m getting to the end of after like a month, is called The Works by Kate Ascher. And it is the book about all of the infrastructure that makes New York City possible, from garbage and sewage to electricity to streetlights and fire hydrants and everything. And I think it’s fascinating. I just absolutely love this book. So I don’t know why I’m stereotyping that only men are interested in this because clearly, they’re not, but I think a lot of men would find it interesting. And then I mentioned a book last week on our November book show, I have not read it or even seen it physically, but it’s called A Walk Around the Block. And it is a similar book in that it’s about the things in your neighborhood that you don’t notice, that you don’t think about but that are there and making our modern life possible. So though that pairing–
Nicole: [30:04] Did she mention manhole covers for that one?
Gayle: [30:08] Manhole covers is in The Works for sure.
Nicole: [30:10] Okay.
Gayle: [30:10] It explains like there’s a difference between the manhole covers that lead to electrical work stuff versus sewer stuff. I just learned this yesterday. The sewer ones have slits on the top to A) release odors, which is great, and also to prevent pressure from building up and explosions which would be nasty.
Nicole: [30:33] Yeah, you don’t want that. Right.
Gayle: [30:35] Right. But the ones that are used for like telephone wires under the street or electricity, those do not have slits on them. And it shows you what it looks like when you lift the manhole cover. Like what’s under there? So I mean, it’s just a fascinating book. I love it. I think you would really like it, Nicole.
Nicole: [30:53] Hopefully not Pennywise.
Gayle: [30:56] Yeah, hopefully not. Doesn’t mention anything about clowns.
Nicole: [31:01] Killer Clowns?
Gayle: [31:02] Yeah
Nicole: [31:04] I think about the runoff. Another thing that people probably don’t think about is when you have the curb, and it’s raised, so the water runs off and Pennywise clown lives in there.
Gayle: [31:13] I just read about that, too.
Nicole: [31:14] Okay
Gayle: [13:15] The runoff and how like, now they’ve got these things– Because what would happen is the runoff that would go into the sewer would then have all kinds of trash in it, because it was stuff on the street that would just slide down the curb, like styrofoam containers from take-out food or water bottles, whatever. And then that stuff, the runoff water would get dumped into the Hudson River somewhere and it would have all of that trash in there. So now they’re putting these filters to prevent the runoff from having all that trash in it. Anyway. Okay, your turn.
Nicole: [31:53] So I have Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, which I read last year. Bitcoin just doubled in value again. It had kind of gone up and went down, and now it’s supposed to be one of these investments that is going to be around. So this book is about the Winklevoss twins who originally linked to Mark Zuckerberg, and supposedly, they had the inspiration for him building Facebook. He was actually supposed to work on a project for them but then he took their idea, and I guess took their preliminary designs and made it into Facebook. And I think they did a settlement with him, they got some money, but they are not a part of that. So then they kind of set out to lick their wounds, and they got interested in Bitcoin. So it’s all about them investigating this new type of currency.
How it originally started was of interest to criminals, basically, in order to move product and it was attached to the Silk Road. So they get invested in it and try to figure out how they can make it a legitimate money enterprise that regular people will use, that banks will be involved in and that they can regulate. So I think the title is Bitcoin Billionaires because they became the first billionaires from Bitcoin and it’s like, I guess, their revenge comeback story that they have built this cryptocurrency, which of course, Facebook, I think, was trying to do one called Libra, which ultimately failed. But I think it’s an interesting thing. It’s kind of still in the news so you will have some basis to understand it without it getting super technical. Like they do explain some of how Bitcoin is created, how it’s counted, how you need multiple people in order to process transactions, but it is too, a little bit of a good narrative nonfiction read.
The other one that I would recommend that I thought was really good is Know My Name by Chanel Miller, which, of course, was about Chanel Miller’s, I guess, a survival of the sexual assaults that she suffered back in 2013 I believe. This is the one involving the swimmer from Stanford, and just how his life was so much more valued as hers, and she wrote this very impactful victim impact statement that went viral, and that just helped so many people. And then she decided to come forth and just tell the story about it and just how she hid it for so long, how she finally was able to come forward. So it’s just about her journey, and I think that’s an important story for men to read.
Gayle: [35:02] My daughter has been trying to get my husband to read that for like a year.
Nicole: [35:07] See?
Gayle: [35:08] Yep. Okay, next category. Okay, our next category is books for people who love page-turners about smart women. And there’s a lot to choose from this year. So I have three books in this category. I’ve talked about them relatively recently, so I won’t spend too much time on them. The first is The Boys’ Club by Erica Katz, which is a high octane read about the first year at a big New York law firm written from the perspective of a female associate, who joins the M&A team, which is the most intense, and long hours, masculine, sort of testosterone-fueled group within the firm. And she’s definitely a smart woman and she’s kind of dealing with a bunch of men.
[36:05] The second book is The Golden Cage by Camilla Lackberg. And that is kind of a revenge fantasy of a woman whose husband treated her terribly and how she gets back at him and brings him down. And that book I had a very hard time putting down. And then the last one is a book I read early in the year which still really stands out to me, Long Bright River by Liz Moore, which is about a woman cop in Philadelphia who’s dealing with the disappearance of her sister who is a drug addict. And so she’s trying to find her sister and then she’s also trying to solve a series of murders of prostitutes in this particular neighborhood within Philadelphia. This book I got, I could not put this book down. And there’s a lot of twists and turns and surprises. And sometimes the protagonist does some things that are dubious like her judgment is sometimes a little off. But she’s still a smart woman. I wouldn’t call her not a smart woman. And this is just–
Nicole: [37:17] Smart women do dubious things.
Gayle: [37:19] You’re right. Smart women are not perfect, they’re just smart. So this is a thriller but it’s kind of on the edge of literary fiction, too. And I literally could not put this book down. I remember I was traveling when I read it and I was in this hotel room just reading. I was supposed to be at some cocktail reception for work and I’m like, “I have to return more pages of this book.” It’s really good.
Nicole: [37:48] Yeah, I would posit that it is literary fiction that leans thriller-y because I think that if some people have issues with this book, it could be– It is very intricate. The pacing is a little slow. It is a page-turner, but you do get a lot of background and detail into how these sisters grew up, what goes into their relationship, commentary on the society. It’s like a slow burn page thriller. It’s really good so you want to know what’s going on. But I think if you have someone who is just more into page-turners, I’m not quite sure that this would fit the bill.
Gayle: [38:26] Okay.
Nicole: [38:27] So I also put Know My Name by Chanel Miller in this category, just because I thought it was a page-turner. She goes into what her family was like, and the dynamics of her family and how it affected her, her relationship with her sister, the different ways that she tried to heal. You know, she moves away with her boyfriend, she starts taking art classes, she does stand-up comedy, there are just many paths to her healing and it was fascinating. Such a good book. My other one is A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star by Sanam Maher, and I listened to it on audio, so it was read by Deb de Gupta. And it’s about a woman who they called the Kim Kardashian of Pakistan.
[39:23] Her name was Qandeel Baloch. And so she had just built a social media following of selfies, kind of like pouty videos that she would post for people and she was murdered by her brother. Now, her murder was the one that fast-tracked a bill against honor killings. And I think in 2016, they actually closed a loophole with honor killings because I think it was something like if your parents said it was okay or someone in the community condoned it, then you did not have to be prosecuted for it if they didn’t want to. But her parents actually wanted her brother to be past prosecuted, even though there was some controversy on whether they changed their minds or not. But it was all about her, how she was married off very young to a husband who was abusive, how she had to leave her son with him, and just how difficult it was for her to make a living. I think she would ride on buses and serve tea to men.
[40:28] So it just talked about how difficult those women had in establishing a life for themselves. She was trying to go to school, how difficult that can be. So just a lot of things in the society that she was up against, and how this law changed those things. It’s about her life, but it’s also about the culture in Pakistan that supports this and, I guess, the legal battles and how some women are striking out, even though they don’t have the permission of their families and getting an education and being lawyers and, and changing the legislation that affects them.
Gayle: [41:09] Okay, next category is for your friend who likes to be on top of new releases, and always wants to know what’s coming out. I have two recommendations there. The first is a subscription to Book of the Month. Now Book of the Month is not without controversy. Book of the Month this summer, took a lot of heat for two things. One, not featuring enough diverse authors, and then two, for on social media, they were deleting some comments that were made about the lack of diversity. So the second issue obviously, cannot be fixed. It happened. I’m assuming they fired their social media person and started over with someone else. The first one, I do think that they have made an effort to include more diverse voices and I think they’re really trying. And so I’ve had a subscription for a while at Nicole’s suggestion, and a lot of people canceled their subscriptions and went elsewhere or just decided they were done. I stuck with it. I’m glad I did because again, I do think they’re making an effort.
[42:21] And I like being part of Book of the Month because I get a new book every month and it’s cheaper than it would be if I were buying it retail. Sometimes they are advanced, so if you’re part of Book of the Month, sometimes you get them before they’re actually released to the public. It’s a fun community to be part of, like I said, the Book of the Month Swaps the Book of the Month Spoilers page, these are all accounts on Facebook that I’m on where people are either selling or swapping the books they have, or they’re conjecturing about what the next one is going to be. And I do learn about books I wouldn’t otherwise know, and it’s just fun when that blue box shows up at your house. So you can buy gift subscriptions have like three months or six months. You go on their site, and they’ve had a couple of promotions so far this year, like 15% off. So I think it’s a great gift because it’s something that comes every month, and it’s something to look forward to.
Nicole: [43:13] I found someone, or a couple of people make comments that they would prefer to stay with Book of the Month, and work within the system in terms of when their pick com to kind of vote with their pick and to pick a book that is by a diverse author or something different than what they would normally be exposed to, to also encourage Book of the Month to seek these out because it’s also profitable for them. So that’s a perspective I have seen. The interesting thing about Book of the Month is I had quit it in the beginning of the year. And Gayle when she asked why I said that there were some books that I read that I really enjoyed, but I think Book of the Month books are different. Like if you want to sell them to a used bookstore like Powell’s or something, they won’t accept a Book of the Month version of the book. And I do think that is because of the quality. And I have come across books that I’ve really loved and would like to have, but the paper quality is so thin or I just know that in a few years’ time, it’s easy to tear the paper, it’s going to yellow. So a lot of the books that I pick were books that I had a feeling that I would enjoy and want to have around, so I stopped for just the quality issue. But I think definitely if you’re just going to read it and it’s on to the next person, like if you don’t keep books then it’s definitely something you should check out.
Gayle: [44:45] Yeah, my second recommendation and I think I’ve made this recommendation before, I subscribe to a magazine called BookPage, which is a monthly magazine that previews books for the next upcoming month. And they have great reviews, they have a big fiction section, a big nonfiction section. They also have book clubs section, audiobook, cooking lifestyle, self-help, all that. They’ve got interviews with authors. It’s a great publication, and I really enjoy it. I learn a lot about upcoming books that way, as well. It’s one of the myriad sources I use to find out what’s going on. And I can’t remember how much it is per year, maybe 30 bucks a year. So I’d like to support them and I just enjoy it. I get a paper version of it. I wonder if there is possibly also a digital subscription if you don’t want to get paper magazines in your house. I used to get this for free at the library. I think the library had stacks of them. And that’s how I found out about it. And I was always enjoyed getting them and then I think they stopped providing that. So that’s when I decided to subscribe. So that is BookPage.
Nicole: [45:55] All right, so my book, adjacent things, two I’m going to mention right now would be beverages. I’m a big, “fix myself a cup of tea” person or get a glass of wine. So I have two things that I’ve discovered, The Wall Street Journal has a wine subscription. I had been doing different things for wine. Of course, it’s a little bit harder to buy wine now because the wine store in my neighborhood is so small. So it’s one of those you kind of have to go and hope that no one else is there because a lot of stores are limiting the amount of people who can be in there at a time. If it’s really small, you can’t have a bunch of people in there so it’s more by appointment. And I used to do a wine class that was in Brooklyn that you meet, and you get to taste a bunch of wines, and they would actually give you information on them. So I wanted to kind of continue my wine education and have something nice to drink when I sit down to read my book. So I discovered this, I really like it. It’s the introductory. I think you get a case of wine, plus, they put two extras in there, and they give you two wine glasses, and it’s $99. And then I think thereafter, it’s 160. I think you get a case quarterly, and plus the shipping. So I think by the time you do that, it comes about to 15 or $16 a bottle, but the wines that they give you are sometimes worth a lot more. And they’ve all been delicious so far. I think I like wines from Portugal, I’ve discovered.
Gayle: [47:41] Nice.
Nicole: [47:42] So that’s that. Great gift for a friend or for yourself. So I’m testing them out, and as I test others out, I’ll let you know if I find something that’s just as delicious and a better deal. But so far, I’m really happy with them. So my other selection is something that I discovered one year when we were at BEA. I think they were giving out samples of tea. And it was Bluebird tea, and they had this Earl Grey Cream Tea that I really loved. So it’s the leaves plus, I guess, whatever cream they use. If you’re looking for a teabag, then this is not the tea for you. But it was so delicious. I’ve been hanging on for this little packet because I guess it was a sample, but the sample size gives you a pretty decent amount of cups of tea, maybe six or seven. And so I had been hanging on to this bag so that I could get more tea, and I went on and ordered some the other day. So that’s my beverages.
Gayle: [48:48] All right, so moving on. This is stuff for your book club. So if you’re in a book club, and you want to get a gift for the people in your book club, I have two recommendations. The first one is actually free. It’s called the Bookclubz app. My book club uses it, not to its full potential but you can do a number of things with it. You set up a book club, invite everyone and you have everyone download the app. And then you can use it for scheduling, you can keep track of the books you’ve read, you can take polls on what book to read next, and there are just all kinds of little ways to keep track of things. So we don’t use it much for scheduling, we tend to just resort to a text thread, but it has been helpful for polls. So we’ll have a couple of books that we’re choosing between and then everyone goes on and votes. So I like the Bookclubz app, it’s free. And that’s Bookclubz with a “Z “at the end.
[49:44] And the other thing is, sometimes you leave book club and you’re kind of full of thoughts about the book because you’ve just had these discussions with people and you know, different viewpoints and things you hadn’t thought of, and then the next month you’re like, “Wait, what did we read last month? I don’t remember.” So If you have a little journal that’s just dedicated to book club where you can kind of jot down your thoughts either before or after the meeting, and then it becomes a nice little memory of what you’ve read and what you guys all thought of it and what you discussed. And sometimes at the end of the year, it’s nice to look back and say what was your favorite and then you just don’t even remember what the book was. So if you don’t use Goodreads, or you don’t have a blog, or bookstagram, or some other way of keeping track of books, I think this would be a nice gift for your book club.
Nicole: [50:30] All right, so my next pick is something that I have used this year to organize my TBR, and also to keep track of what it is that I am buying, is a floating bookcase. It is one of those, it’s deceptive. It looks like it’s just your books floating but of course, there is a metal frame behind it that’s sturdy. And I think holds, like mine holds about I would say 60 to 65 books, depending on what kind of books you have. It’s right by my bed and I use it as my TBR kind of nightstand. Like I will have a couple that I have that are right by my bedside on a table, which was Addie LaRue lately, and also They All Fall Down. But this one, I made rules about what can be on it because I want to see how many books I’m buying and whether I’m reading what I’m buying. So on this shelf, I put all the books that I’ve actually bought, nothing that anyone has sent to me or no ARCs. It’s all books that I have bought this year and what to read. And if it’s filled, then that means that I should think about not buying anymore. So far that hasn’t really helped but that’s what I say in my head. So if you need a way to organize, like if you’re keeping piles of books by your bedside, and you want to get that a little under control, then this is a nice little skinny bookshelf, bookstand that you can put by your bed. The base is a little bit big, but the rest of it is kind of skinny.
Gayle: [52:12] Will you send me a link to that so I can put that in the notes where they can see the exact one that you have?
Nicole: [52:18] Of course.
Gayle: [52:19] Okay, so a couple of other good book adjacent gifts. I found on Amazon, this book scratch-off poster. So it’s a poster that has I think it’s like 100 good books to read, everything from classics to more current stuff. I think there may even be some young adult stuff on there. I don’t know, I haven’t seen the list of all the books because I think that that comes with the poster. But if you are someone who likes to complete things, or have a challenge, or a goal, especially during the pandemic, this would be a cool gift. And it is a poster, so when you scratch off the books you’ve read, I think there’s a really nice image underneath it. So it’s pretty, and it’s interesting, and then you can look back on it and see the ones you’ve read and which ones you have to go. It comes with a list of the books so you can see which books they are and then you scratch them off when you finish. But the reviews on this one were really high so I will post a link to that in the show notes. It’s from Amazon.
Nicole: [53:34] So there was this gift on Etsy, and I have to see if I can find you with the link. But I wanted to get it last year, and it is this woman who will make a jar, and she will do little slips – and I guess you could make this yourself if you wanted to, but hers was really good and I wasn’t going to spend the time to make one myself. But she will give you a jar that you could have like your hundred best books. Or if you had a TBR and you wanted to send it to her and get it so that you can actually pick out a slip, and you can pick out a slip and it’ll have the book of your choice on it. I guess you could do this with anything but, of course, my mind just immediately went to “Oh, I would love a little jar full of slips of different books that I could just kind of pick out at random.”
Gayle: [54:29] So then it tells you what you’re going to read next.
Nicole: [54:32] Right. What you’re going to read next. Yeah.
Gayle: [54:34] Nice.
Nicole: [54:35] Kind of like a to-do list of books. I was looking at this last year and I think she does it by she will only do so many. So I think at the time I was looking at it, she only had one or two and I just didn’t feel like making a list of 100 things to give her at that point. But I will look to see if I can find what it is because I think it’s so cool.
Gayle: [54:57] That’s cute.
Nicole: [54:57] Also an Etsy, I think there are lots of, I’ll link to some ideas, but lots of people do wonderful art where you can get a nice little picture of someone reading. There’s one that I really like of reading in the bathtub. I may get a few of these for my bathroom, I think is what I was thinking about. Framing a few of these for my bathroom. But I think that those would also be a good gift. They are really cute drawings of people doing bookish things. You can get them with a dog in the picture or a cat in the picture. I’m sure you can probably even commission some. And sometimes they will send it to you, just depending on what kind of artist it is, they’ll send it on a canvas, but sometimes they just send it to you to frame. And just be careful whichever one you’re looking for that it’s something that they will send you because there are some that are just digital versions. I think they’ll tend to be less expensive. They’ll be like five bucks, but you have to print those yourself. And of course, if you want to, you can take them to, I guess, a Kinkos or Staples or something to print them, or if you have the capability of printing them. But just something to be aware of because I definitely do not want to print anything, I want you to send it to me.
Gayle: [56:12] I have this idea for a gift. So I think I mentioned to you and I even said it on the show that I like to read a book while I dry my hair. And one of the challenges of that is how to keep the book open while I’m reading because my hands are busy and it’s on the counter in the bathroom. So I’d go through this complicated thing of trying to weight it down with a toothpaste tube or compact of some sort, makeup or something like that, and it’s hard. So I found this thing, it’s a bookmark weight page holder. So it holds the book open and it’s flat. And so you can just move it up. If it’s covering text that you’re trying to read, you can just move it up and it keeps the book flat and open, hands-free. So this is on Amazon, and I think that would be a great [gift]. I think I might get one of these for myself because I definitely need it for the bathroom read.
Nicole: [57:07] Kind of similar to that, when I was home after my accident, my book club sent me a bath tray that will hold your book or Kindle Nook, your wine, it has space for a little candle. So I’ll link to that as well. That’s nice. You have to have the right kind of bathtub for it because it does perch over the side. So I can use it because my bathtub, it can’t hang over there but there’s like a piece of wall in the bath or the actual ledge of the bathtub that I can put it over. But you have to check it out because it might not be for all bathtubs, but definitely, when I remember to use it, it’s so nice because usually I just have a pile of things on the floor by the bathtub.
Gayle: [58:00] Okay, so my last thing on our list is another little clever item for people who like to read. It is a clip-on reading glasses light, but it doesn’t clip to your book, it clips to your glasses. So while you’re reading, you put these little lights that go on either side of your frame of your glasses and it aims the light at the book. So you don’t have to have one of those flimsy book light clips that falls over or doesn’t work with a paperback or anything like that. And it just aims the light and it’s very concentrated, so it won’t disturb if there’s somebody else in the room. So I will link to that as well from Amazon.
Nicole: [58:41] Someone mentioned this the other day and you just reminded me of this so I will look for this to send you, is that some people use a clip-on reading light that is red so that like if you want to read before bed but you don’t want a bright light shining on you, you want something that you can possibly, you know, if you get a little sleepy, it’ll be easy to just lie down and go to sleep. So they make these red reading lights that will give you enough light but are less invasive and supposedly better for your eye health. So I will link to that. So I think we discussed enough backlist books that we will save our backlist book discussion for next week because we already have quite a lengthy show and we know you can’t spend the whole day with us so we’re going to wrap it up.
Gayle: [59:29] All right, well, we’ll still be talking about other good books through the remainder of 2020, so if you need more gift ideas, just keep tuning in.
Nicole: [59:37] Yeah, and if we have other adjacent things, too.
Gayle: [59:40] Yes, other things, we’ll make sure to include them. All right, well, until then, happy reading.
[59:47] We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Readerly Report. You can find all of our shows on iTunes or at thereaderlyreport.com. Please join our Facebook group, Readerly Report Readers, where you can talk to other listeners about their reading life. You can also find Nicole at nicolebonia.com, and me, Gayle at everydayiwritethebookblog.com. Finally, we’d love it if you left us a review on iTunes and told your book-loving friends about us. Thanks.