Posts tagged ‘bel canto’

January 31, 2012

World Book Night 2012

Sign up by February 6th!

World Book Night 2012We have some excellent news!

The Book Cellar has been chosen to be an official store for World Book Night 2012. They are looking for 50,000 volunteers to hand out 20 copies each of their favorite books. That’s one million books!

What? You haven’t heard of World Book Night? Here’s the scoop from their website:

World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread a love of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. It will see tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to spread the joy and love of reading by giving out free World Book Night paperbacks.
World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.
Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night will also be celebrated in the U.S. in 2012, with news of more countries to come in future years. Please join our mailing list for regular World Book Night U.S. news. And thank you to our U.K. friends for such a wonderful idea!
Additionally, April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book Day, chosen due to the anniversary of Cervantes’ death, as well as Shakespeare’s birth and death.

Volunteer to give books out in your community. Maybe at a food pantry or shelter. The organizers of World Book Night will provide the books–free of charge–and you can pick them up here in April.

They have chosen 30 amazing books across all genres to represent World Book Night, including Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.

The Book Cellar book club has had fascinating discussions about many of the books on the list. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks looks at the early days of medical ethics (or the lack thereof). We unanimously enjoyed Stephen King’s The Stand even though it took us almost two months to finish. And The Glass Castle and Bel Canto both provoked vigorous debate.

You can sign up to be a volunteer for World Book Night. Go to their official page to sign up. We’d love to see you for the World Book Night reception on April 16th.

Let’s share. What book–it doesn’t have to be on the World Book Night list–has moved you so much you wish you could give out a million copies, and why?

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March 1, 2011

Book Club Round-up: Bel Canto

Bel CantoThe Book Cellar book club discussed Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto on February 9. Bel Canto won, among others, the PEN/Faulkner award in 2002, putting Patchett in the company of John Updike (The Early Stories 1953-1975), Michael Cunningham (The Hours) and Philip Roth (The Human Stain and Everyman). High honors. (Our book club has also discussion 2010 PEN bridesmaid Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Lacuna.)

Personally, I didn’t like the book. It took an Atlas-esque feat of strength to hold up my suspension of disbelief.  I caved about 1/3 of the way into the book. In an unnamed South American country, terrorists storm the mansion of its vice-president, taking dozens of hostages. The revolutionaries soon discover that that president isn’t even there. They lack a back-up plan and scramble to come up with ideas. As the terrorists and the hostages mingle over the next four months (really, the “crisis” lasts at least a third of a year), they all realize they like life better now. If only they could stay in this mansion forever!

Part of me bought into the fact that the terrorists had it better in the mansion. They came from the jungle. Most of them are teen soldiers. In the mansion, they have running water, food, basic comforts of home that the rich hostages took for granted. But the visiting dignitaries? Why are they so content with losing their freedom? Why aren’t they plotting to escape?

A book club member brought in some interesting information: Bel Canto is loosely based on real events. In 1996, the Japanese embassy (or, more specifically, the Ambassdorial residence)  in Peru was invaded by the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. They took hostages for 126 days. At the end of the crisis, despite reports that many of the insurgents surrendered, all the revolutionaries were executed, and one hostage lost his life in the crossfire.

Click here for more information on the 1996 crisis.

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