Literary Inmates: Famous Books Written in Prison

At BookBrowse, we believe that books are not an end in themselves but a jumping off point to new avenues of thought and discovery. This is why, every time we review one we also explore a related topic. Here is one such "beyond the book" article by Jamie Samson, originally titled "Literary Inmates" and written in conjunction with his review of Denis Johnson's The Largesse of the Sea Maiden:

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Debut Novels for Book Clubs in 2019

Let us help you get the new year off to a great start by introducing you to five dynamic authors and their debut novels, all of which are recommended for book club discussion.

Historical fiction aficionados should check out Rebellion by Molly Patterson, set in 19th and 20th century China, and rural America. Also, The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst about Hurricane Katrina and the complicated history of New Orleans.

If your group is looking for a change from discussing "literary fiction," then how about mixing things up with a thriller? We recommend Alice Feeney's Sometimes I Lie about a woman paralyzed in a hospital with no idea how or why she got there, and Rhiannon Navin's Only Child about a six year-old boy dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting that killed nineteen of his schoolmates.

And finally, if your group enjoys chewing over contemporary stories while exploring foreign parts, we recommend Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman Zecher, a novel about family and loyalty, Israel and Palestine, and friendships that cross these lines.

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How the Renaissance Shaped Liberal Arts Education

At BookBrowse, we believe that books are not an end in themselves but a jumping off point to new avenues of thought and discovery. This is why, every time we review one we also explore a related topic. Here is one such "beyond the book" article by Rose Rankin, originally titled "The Education Revolution" and written in conjunction with her review of Walter Isaacson's Leonardo da Vinci:

The term "Renaissance man" means a polymath, or someone who excels at many fields. Few people earned that moniker as brilliantly as Leonardo da Vinci, who actually lived during the height of the Italian Renaissance. Making his accomplishments even more remarkable is the fact that he didn't receive much in the way of a formal education. Leonardo was rightfully proud that he didn't "accept dusty Scholasticism or the medieval dogmas that had accumulated since the decline of classical science and original thinking," as Walter Isaacson explains in his biography of the Renaissance master.

But while Leonardo himself was working and discovering, education in the Renaissance was undergoing important changes, ultimately setting the stage for the study of liberal arts that we still recognize today. The program of Scholasticism, a method of study that dominated the Middle Ages, was being swept aside as European societies re-discovered works by ancient Greeks and Romans. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Italy, this evolved into the studia humanitatis, the educational program of the Renaissance. The studia humanitatis consisted of grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history, and moral philosophy based on the reading of classical Greek and Latin authors. In the 1400s both the texts and the purpose of education changed. Writers whose works had been lost to Europeans for centuries were re-discovered, and education became a means to self-improvement. The development of humanism and its emphasis on mankind rather than theology prepared the ground for this shift in the larger purpose of education.

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Reader Reviews You Can Trust

Today, we look back on the incredible selection of books our members have reviewed for our early-reader program, First Impressions during 2018 - 39 titles in total.

Reader reviews abound on the web, but it's difficult to know which to trust, especially when there are businesses who will arrange for glowing reviews to be posted for a fee, and other reviews may be written by family and friends.

BookBrowse's First Impressions program offers you a source of trustworthy reader reviews because only BookBrowse members can post reviews. Members indicate which books they're interested in but cannot prioritize, and copies are assigned by BookBrowse's algorithms. So, while it's conceivable that somebody connected to the book might be assigned a copy, the chances of there being enough people to influence the overall consensus is effectively non-existent.

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The 2018 BookBrowse Award Winners

Dear BookBrowsers

It's that best of time again! The time when we stand still for a minute, turn back around and take a look at what has unfolded over the course of the year. It feels like the blink of an eye, doesn't it? From January until now? Don't you wish you could somehow slow it down?

There's a theory about time passing called the perceptual theory of time which offers that it seems to speed up as we get older because we continually evolve our perception of the world. Specifically (according to psychologist Robert Ornstein), our sense of the speed of time is determined by how much information our minds are absorbing. The more we take in, the slower time seems to pass. This is why children tend to sigh and exclaim Aren't we there YET? over and over again. They are taking in so many details that they perceive the ticking of time as endless. So how do we adults reclaim some of that leisurely pace?

One way is by reading really good books that engage our minds with dynamic story-lines, empathetic characters and fascinating details. Reading a book demands that we sit still and focus because there is so much rich information inside its pages.

And here we are in December. Turned and gazing back at the year. We're sure you've read a bunch of great books over the last 11 months, but if you missed some, if you want to slow down time in this last month of the year, then we suggest you take a look at our best of list.

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A Look Back on BookBrowse's 2018 Book Club Books

There's really no better way to be sure that a book is right for your book club than being a "fly on the wall" at an actual discussion--such as for the fifteen books we discussed in BookBrowse's Book Club during 2018.

What sets our Book Club apart from other online forums is the quality of the discussion. Participants, mostly BookBrowse members, come together with the intent of sharing and learning from each other's views just as they would if they were physically in the same room.

To help you decide which books are right for you and your book club, you can read more about the books and "listen in" to the discussions from our book club discussion page.

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