On Reading (or Not) and Book Awards

Once upon a time, I read books. Mostly, I read books during my bus commute. And when I had to stop commuting, I stopped reading. Sure I read for work and I read for my kids. But I haven't yet managed to find a time in the routine for reading whatever the heck I want.

However, one bit of good news for book lovers is that a pandemic isn't enough to stop book awards from being bestowed. I talked about the Minnesota Book awards here in 2014 and 2017, so now that another three years have passed, the time has come to once again bring up our fabulous literary community. There was, of course, no in-person gathering, but I was watching the livecast as it happened, and thanks to the accompanying chat, the event was surprisingly celebratory and truly did have a feeling of community and mutual support as authors cheered one another on. I even have it on good authority that the brother of a certain WGOM citizen was even in (virtual) attendance. (I kind of loved that cocktail attire was still recommended despite the fact that we were all in our homes.)

You can check out the livecast here if you'd like. And the full list of winners is here.

And, well, there's just one other little thing. I have a rather special connection with one of this year's winning books. And seeing it win may have been a little bit exciting. This particular book meant a lot to all of us involved with it. If you're curious, you can check out the story behind the book.

So what are you reading? Or wishing you had time to read?

36 thoughts on “On Reading (or Not) and Book Awards”

  1. My yoga instructor was nominated in the Memoir and Creative Fiction category. She didn’t win, but was honored to be nominated, of course.

  2. Although I've not been reading books, I did read a fantastic article about how humans need to change how we interact with wildlife in order to avoid future pandemics. I've had it open on a tab for a month because I knew I wanted to share it at some point. One of the reasons I found this article so powerful is because of how well it ties in with Braiding Sweetgrass, which is one of the last books I read when I still read books.

  3. Note my brother's tie. He had gotten it just a day or two before, from yours truly. It's one of Ken Rosenthal's Bowties for a Cause. This is a Cystic Fibrosis ("65 Roses") tie. The baseball and CF connection made it particularly apt for my brother who has CF, loves baseball, and regularly wears bow ties (they're just kind of his thing).

  4. This new book with three different endings sounds bonkers--and fascinating.

    Different versions were sent to different outlets. “For the prizes, they were just given any copy,” McCrae said. “It could be that some judges are discussing the book, but they’re not all reading the same book.”

    1. I believe they did that with the movie Clue. Depending on what theater you went to you could see a different ending. It was very unsatisfying--for me anyway--with Clue as it made the story weaker to allow for three potential perps based on the current evidence. Made it less engaging. At least on the solve the mystery aspect. The acting was delightful.

      1. I will tolerate no complaints about the movie Clue. No one was supposed to be trying to solve that mystery. It was just a fun ride. The funnest ride, really.

        I've heard it suggested that there will be a remake. If they cast anyone but Amy Poehler as Wadsworth, I will be disappointed. She would be perfect in that role.

        1. I watched Clue a bajillion times as a kid and loved it, though as I said to a friend this weekend, I think I'd have to have a talk about homophobia and stereotypes with my kids before I'd be okay with them seeing it. (Boy did that all go over my head when I was young.)

          I recall that the three back-to-back endings on the videocassette were pretty great. I think of that movie much more as camp than as an honest-to-goodness mystery.

          1. If not for the “bajillion times” I was going to say you may be thinking of another Tim Curry movie (that one of my college professors made an event of us all seeing, for the sake of induced discomfort.)

            I thought the back-to-back-to-back(-to back?) endings was an original feature. I didn’t realize there were different versions.

            1. Oh come on now. There's absolutely nothing camp about that other movie...

              1. Well, sure, Sean Connery's Russian accent in Red October is pretty campy....

  5. I finished Because of Winn-Dixie with Honest Abe last night. I think he enjoyed it, but a decent amount was definitely going over his head even though I tried to answer his questions. After we finished last night, I asked him if he could tell me ten things about Sheenie, and he made a pretty good list.

    I also read The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel's conclusion to her Thomas Cromwell trilogy (the first two each won the Man Booker). I thought it was an excellent, fitting conclusion.

    1. what does Honest Abe think about the unfairness he has suffered having been surpassed recently?

  6. Started reading Hatchet with my son. He was super into it, but it was giving him nightmares so he asked to stop. May have to finish it myself as it's been about 25 years for me.

    1. One of my kids really had trouble with that one. She couldn't get over the description of the pilot.

      1. Our school librarian read it to us maybe around 3rd or 4th grade, and I remember being horrified.

        She also emphasized that Gary Paulson was a Minnesota author, and I somehow come to the conclusion that she was only reading it to us because he was from MN. Like it was out of pity for him somehow. (As a kid, I was firmly convinced that I lived in an extremely uninteresting state.)

  7. I'm about 87% done with the Complete Works of Guy de Maupassant on Project Gutenberg. Only 4 more stories until The Diary of a Madman, one of my favorites of his.

    And up to pg 69 in Pynchon's Mason & Dixon. Slow. Going. I've heard from the dude at the Beer Cave that it picks up after Venus crosses the Sun. Only 706 pages to go.

    Above references to MN authors, my favs are: Will Weaver (Gravestone Made of Wheat, Red Earth White Earth), Jon Hassler (The Love Hunter, Staggerford, North of Hope).

  8. I'm 2/3 rds the way through Say Nothing , and it is riveting. I have a predisposition towards anything Irish, but haven't encountered a better researched and written account of the Troubles. As the NYtimes review concludes, I worry that this isn't just a history, but a warning.

    1. That was an absolutely fantastic book. I hate reading on non-eInk screens, but I read this in about a week on my phone because that's the fastest copy available from the library.

      Here's Seamus Heaney reading a bit of the poem from which the title is derived.

    2. I'll put it in the queue at the library. I mentioned a few months ago that I read Milkman last year, so I'm due for another engagement with The Troubles.

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