Martha and Shirley: It's time for our annual look at the year in books You voted the ten best and, as we've done for the last few years, the ten can include a book that came out years before -- one on the list below came out in the 1800s. Before we go further, we want to include this from THIRD's "Roundtable" earlier this week:
Rebecca: Awhile back, we upped book coverage. Community wide. Everyone would take a week where they noted a book.
Rebecca: Thank you. We don't like to repeat but a lot of readers and community members wanted more book coverage. We did some this year in the community newsletters but they wanted something like what we did in 2018. So we're going to do that but with a twist. And I'm tossing to Marcia who came up with the twist.
Marcia: What if, I said, we focused on digital? A lot of us have AMAZON PRIME and watch various films and TV shows and we may also have AMAZON MUSIC and stream music. AMAZON also has unlimited KINDLE where you pay a monthly fee and you get to read some of their digital books for free. So what if that was what we did in 2021? We'd be able to cover books and, at the end of the year, we'd be able to show what you could do with a monthly subscription to the service.
Ruth: And this made it interesting for me. I am always reading anyway. Like Rebecca and Marcia and Stan, I live in cold weather and so winter is sit in front of the fireplace and read weather. I am also biased for print books. So this will get me out of my usual space and let me explore the world of digital books. I sign up next week. I think Rebecca already did.
Rebecca: I did. And let me note that if anyone reading is thinking about sampling the service, I signed up Wednesday and it gave me a two month trial period for free before the $9.99 monthly fee kicks in.
We are thrilled about that news and can't wait for the book reviews to come at various community sites in 2021.
Now, let's look at . . . 2020
1) Stephen Rebello's DOLLS! DOLLS! DOLLS!
The co-author of BAD MOVIES WE LOVE (written with Edward Margulies) returns for a deep examination of the film VALLEY OF THE DOLLS -- filled with new details and insight including that Natalie Wood wanted to play flame-out Neely O'Hara (the studio wanted her in the film but only if she played prim Anne Welles).
Rebecca covered the book in "your feedback on 'dolls! dolls! dolls!'," "1 more time on the book 'dolls! dolls! dolls!'," "valley of the dolls - susan hayward and dionne war...," "patty duke," "poor judy," "i like jude law but ...," "natalie wood could have had another hit film, cand...,' 'valley of the dolls" and "this is the book you have to read this summer"
2) Woody Allen's APROPOS OF NOTHING
The 'controversial' book turned out to have some of Woody's funniest writing in years.
3) Anais Nin's FOUR CHAMBERED HEART.
On the 70th anniversary of the publication of Anais Nin's FOUR CHAMBERED HEART, Ava did a roundtable for HILDA'S MIX focused on the book where Rango is married to Zora but having an affair with Djuna.
4) Suzanne Finstead's NATALIE WOOD: THE COMPLETE BIOGRAPHY.
Finstead updated her earlier book on the late movie star of such films as BOB, CAROL, TED & ALICE, WEST SIDE STORY, GYPSY, REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, THE GREAT RACE and LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER.
Covered by Rebecca "books? (valley of the dolls, natalie wood, joan crawford')" and by Polly for POLLY'S BREW (who asked us to also note "Natalie Wood: The lies that remain repeated (C.I.)").
5) Camilla Pang's EXPLAINING HUMANS: WHAT SCIENCE CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIFE, LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS.
An involving and easy to understand science book.
Betty covered it for HILDA'S MIX.
6) Tom Doyle's MAN ON THE RUN: PAUL MCCARTNEY IN THE 1970S
The Beatles were a rock group consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Paul was the one who announced the breakup of the group (while promoting his first solo album) and he went on to form Paul McCartney & Wings. Tom Doyle chronicles this time period where Paul and his new group had hits with songs such as "Band On The Run," "My Love," "With A Little Luck," "Live and Let Die," "Coming Up," "Jet" and "Silly Love Songs."
Covered in Stan's "New book -- new for me -- on Paul McCartney"
7) Kalynn Bayron's CINDERELLA IS DEAD.
So you grew up wanting to be Cinderella? Really? Find out what the 'dream' actually entails in this syfy novel that picks up many, many years later when the kingdom itself turns into a pumpkin.
Marcia and Beth moderated two roundtables for the gina & krista round-robin on this boo,
8) Alexandre Dumas' THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.
The book was published in serialized from from 1844 to 1846. It's an involving read and remains a page turner to this day and not some stuffy classic you feel you're being forced to read.
Stan led two discussions on this book for the gina & krista round-robin.
9) Rachel Long's MY DARLING FROM THE LIONS.
With her first published volume of poetry, Rachel Long grips you and shakes you awake to the fact that poetry is a living art form.
Ruth and Pru covered the volume for POLLY'S BREW.
10) Michelle Morgan's THE GIRL
Michelle Morgan writes about Marilyn Monroe in this book that has its supporters and its detractors.
Covered by Rebecca "michelle morgan's 'the girl'," Marcia "The Girl by Michelle Morgan" and "One more time on Michelle Morgan's book The Girl" and Ava and C.I. "Media: The hatred of women runs deep -- even at NPR, even in print."
The choices above are selected by community members who vote in our annual poll and we do rank-choice voting. What we haven't done, in the past, is pick a worst book of the year. We never thought of it, actually, and we didn't think of it this year. Last week, as we were tabulating votes, we started getting e-mails from community members noting Ava and C.I.'s "Media: The Jane Fonda Horror Show" and insisting that they wanted a worst book of the year category and that the 'award' should go to Jane Fonda's WHAT CAN I DO? MY PATH FROM CLIMATE DESPAIR TO ACTION. As Miguel noted, "The book is all about inaction filled with fake 'activists' and printed on glossy paper that isn't biodegradable."