Carolyn Offers Up her Fourth Annual
Giving out awards is not as easy as I once thought!
Do you know how many books
one must read to find a single award-winner? Particularly an award-winner
that fits within my guidelines of books that show excellence in
use of the English language, present themes or premises that might
help even one reader recognize and curtail bigotry and/or explore
the human condition. Never mind. Don't try to answer the question.
Try not to even think about it!
I read a lot but I also like to have
time to write and to promote. I have more sympathy for those who
give out awards since I started this column four years ago. You
know that old saying about walking in some other guy's shoes? That
process of slopping around in shoes bigger than your feet is a humbling
Originally I set up this award in
a bit of a pique because Oprah had abandoned her calling to find
fine literary books by unlauded authors and had resorted to a faded
reprint of choices made by Publisher’s Weekly and the New
York Times Bestseller List. It seemed the real Nobel Prize had been
making choices that neglected Americans and women (see past Januarys'
“Back to Literature” columns in the MyShelf archives
for more on these subjects). All the while, I was in the throes
of trying to get This is the Place reviewed and had a taste
of how hard it is for fiction writers to get any recognition, let
alone any respect. I was sure I would be able to find at least a
dozen fantastic books and I did--primarily because I had years of
reading to draw from.
Then Oprah gave up on modern authors
all together in favor of the classics. Now she--apparently--is back
to considering living authors' works. That means the need for my
little "Noble" is not as great. Still, there are so many
good books and so little recognition going around. There is also
so little time! Wail!
Those of you who follow this column
know that I asked my daughter-in-law to help me last year. She is
a good judge of literary work, has a law degree from Stamford, and
her input adds an extra dimension to my picks for she tells me she
chooses books not from the bestseller lists but from reviews--even
reviews in obscure journals. I, of course, glean mine from the books
written by my UCLA students, books my editors assign me to review,
and even a few that I pick up in second-hand book stores.
So here are my choices for “Carolyn’s
Noble Prize for Literature. That’s “Noble,” not
“Nobel,” though at least one of these should have been
considered for the Nobel but wasn’t. These are books that
I believe deserve your consideration. You might consider two heads
better than one, even accept Leigh and me as your Noble committee
Carolyn’s 2005 Noble
for Reading in 2006
These are numbered for ease of reading but are in
no particular order.
1. Christopher Meeks for his collection of previously published
stories The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea published by White
Whisker Books. If taken to heart, these are stories that may influence
you to live your life differently. My review of this title can be
found right here on Myshelf.com. You can learn more about the author
The ISBN is 1411647610
2. Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of Never Let Me Go. Leigh
says "he also wrote The Remains of the Day which I also loved."
Published by Knopf, its ISBN is 1400043395.
3. Leora Skolkin-Smith wrote Edges: O Israel, O Palestine.
set in pre-1967 Israel. The author makes the reader feel--even smell--the
foreign places she describes so well. It was published by Glad Day
Books and edited by Grace Paley. The author's Website is www.leoraskolkinsmith.com
and its ISBN is 0930180144.
4. Sean Wisley is the author of Oh, the Glory of it All.
A first book, this is a memoir of growing up in wealthy, eccentric
family. Leigh says it is "very funny and sad" and that
her husband (my son) read it and enjoyed it, so it may be a consideration
for Valentine's Day or Father's day in 2006. Published by Penguin
Press, its ISBN is 1594200513.
5. Caroline Leavitt is the author of Girls in Trouble
published by St. Martin's Griffin. In my review for MyShelf I say,
"Certainly every woman has not lived the life of the protagonist
Sarah Rothman…but every woman knows she might have."
The ISBN is 0312339739 and you can learn more at www.carolineleavitt.com.
6. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is also a memoir.
Leigh said, "I read it several months ago and still think about
it." Published by Scribner, its ISBN is 0743247531.
7. Suzanne Lummis for In Danger, a book of poetry that
reads like prose and smells of street grit. Published by Roundhouse
Press its ISBN is 0966669118.
Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a
tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books
or a sapphire among the newly-published.
book THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER.
WON'T is now the winner of two awards. Last year it won USA
Book News’ “Best Books 2004” award in the
professional category and this year the Book Publicists of
Southern California honored it for the frugal promotion campaign
in waged for itself, using its own advice. I believe strongly
that reading it would be the best thing for any author--published
or about to publish--could read. Find it as an e-book at http://starpublish.com/starbooks.htm
or as a paperback at www.Amazon.com.
as you are ordering books that will aid your writing, take
advantage of Amazon's free shipping with orders over $25 and
get a book that should be on anyone's desk, be she author
or letter-writer: Roget's Descriptive Wordfinder: A Dictionary/Thesaurus
of Adjectives by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D, a Writer's
Digest Book, ISBN:1582971706.
Tip: Find lots of good reading lists at Amazon. Anyone
can share their reading preferences with a Listmania. It's
fun to make them to share with others and it's a good way
for readers to get reading ideas on a particular theme. I
now have 75 Listmanias published at Amazon (no kidding--I've
been doing them for some time)! Many of my lists are on the
craft of writing or the art of promoting books but I also
have lists of biographies, lists on books about politics and
even a list of family sagas. Some of them are books I read--and
liked--but didn't find their way to this Noble list. Find
them at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/listmania/byauthor/
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