Looking for a way to give your summer reading a little structure? Or for books your reading group might want to consider in the fall?
Here’s a complete, print-and-save list of readers’ guides available on One-Minute Book Reviews. Each title is followed by a one-sentence review of the book that inspired the guide and a link to the longer, original review. If a link doesn’t work, you can find all of these guides saved in the “Totally Unauthorized Reading Groups” category on the site. Most readers’ guides appeared on the same day that the review of the book was posted, usually in the post just below it. Some of the earliest guides appeared later and, in those cases, the links to both the guide and the review appear below.
Books for Adults
Summer at Tiffany (Morrow, $14.95). By Marjorie Hart. A lovely memoir of Manhattan in the weeks just before and after V-J Day, written by one of the first female pages at the famous jewelry store. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/07.02/.
The Manny (Dial, $25). By Holly Peterson. A rich Park Avenue wife and television producer hires a male nanny for her son — and gets more than she bargained for — in a glorified romance novel with some of the year’s the worst sex scenes. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/.
The Empty Nest: 31 Parents Tell the Truth About Relationships, Love, and Freedom After the Kids Fly the Coop (Hyperion/Voice, $23.95). Edited by Karen Stabiner. Recent studies have shown that the “empty-nest syndrome” is mostly a myth, so this collection is a bit of a throwback to the 1950s with a few good essays — most notably, from Ellen Goodman, Charles McGrath and Roxana Robinson. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa (Little, Brown, $24.99). By Peter Godwin. A journalist writes about the terrors that Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has inflicted on his family and others in one of the great memoirs of the year. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/.
No, I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year (Viking, $24.95). By Virginia Ironside. In this semi-autobiographical comic novel, a well-known British agony aunt argues that the great thing about getting old is that there are so many things you can’t do. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/.
Fat, Forty, and Fired: One Man’s Frank, Funny and Inspiring Account of Leaving His Job and Finding His Life (Andrews McMeel, $19.95). By Nigel Marsh. The CEO of Leo Burnett Australia gives a breezy account what happened when, after losing his former job, he took time off to pursue goals that included losing weight, overcoming his alcoholism and becoming more than “a bit player” in his family. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/17/.
Acceptance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton, $23). By Susan Coll. Coll send sends up the college admissions race in a tart novel that has many funny lines but also digressive subplots and point-of-view problems. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/13/.
Serpent in Paradise (Anchor, $12.95). By Dea Birkett. The true story of an award-winning English travel writer’s frightening experiences on Pitcairn Island, the refugee of the Bounty mutineers, in the 1990s. Older and harder to find than some books on this list, but one of the most unusual travel memoirs you’ll ever read. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/.
Stuart: A Life Backwards (Delacorte, $20). By Alexander Masters. A charming biography of an “ex-homeless, ex-junkie psychopath” that has won or been short-listed for several major literary awards. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Simon & Schuster, $12, paperback). By Eric Hodgins. Illustrated by William Steig. The classic satire of the modern lust for property that has inspired two movies, Mrs. Blandings Builds His Dream House and The Money Pit. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/.
Infidel (Free Press, $26). By Ayaan Hirsi Ali. A memoir by the Somali-born former member of the Dutch Parliament who writes about events including her circumcision and opposition to Muslim extremism. Readers’ guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/04/03/. Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/04/03/.
The Second Child: Poems (Random House, $19.95). By Deborah Garrison. Rhymed and unrhymed poetry about the intersection of work and motherhood, including classic forms such as the sonnet and sestina. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/12/deborah-garrison-finds-poetry-at-the intersection-of-work-and-motherhood/
Born Twice: A Novel (Vintage, $13.95, papeerback). By Guiseppe Pontiggia. One of the great recent novels about fatherhood, which won Italy’s highest literary award, the Strega Prize. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/08/.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton, $22). By Ishmael Beah. A young writer’s story of his experiences as a fighter in the government army during the civil war in Sierra Leone. Readers’ guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/o3/05/. Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/.
The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival (Putnam, $24.95). By Stanley N. Alpert. A former federal prosecutor’s account of being kidnapped on a Manhattan street and held for thugs who showed a gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight ineptitude. Readers’ guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/04/.Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/01/30/stuart-alperts-25-hours-in-hell-with-a-turkey-sandwich/
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughs on Being a Woman (Knopf, $19.95). By Nora Ephron. Witty and trenchant essays by the author of Heartburn and the script for When Harry Met Sally … . Readers’ guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/20/. Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/ms-ephron-regrets/
Books for Children
The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures (Scholastic, $22.99, ages 9–12). By Brian Selznick. A much-admired children’s author gets and A+ for the art and a C for the writing in this bestselling novel about an orphaned thief who lives in a Paris train station early in the 20th century. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/04/21/.
The Higher Power of Lucky (Atheneum, $21.99, ages 10 and up). By Susan Patron. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. Ages 10 and up. The controversial winner of the 2007 Newbery Medal that has the word “scrotum” on the first page. Readers’ guide: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/. Review: www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/19/that-scrotum-book-for-children/
Books by Janice Harayda
The Accidental Bride (St. Martin’s Griffin, $13.95, paperback). A comedy of Midwestern manners about a Cleveland reporter who decides at the last minute that she wants to bail out of her break-the-bank wedding. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/.
Manhattan on the Rocks (Sourcebooks, $14, paperback). A comedy of New York manners about a 25-year-old writer who leaves Ohio and takes a job on a glossy Manhattan magazine run by a talk-show-host-turned magazine editor who hopes to become the next Oprah. www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/.
Most reading group guides on the Web were compiled by publishers or by people paid by publishers to write them. They are not “objective” guides (any more than the two guides I wrote for my novels are “objective”). They are part of a marketing plan designed to sell books. The reading group guides on One-Minute Book Reviews offer an independent evaluation of books and possible discussion questions, written by Janice Harayda www.janiceharayda.com, an award-winning critic who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. The reviews and guides on this site are not influenced by marketing concerns.
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.