Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Author Events

Hi all,

Last night, Joni, Rich, Leslie, and I went to see Robert Crais.  He is promoting his 17th novel and is on a book tour.  We saw him at the Belmont Library for an event sponsored by one of my favorite independent bookstores, M is for Mystery (in San Mateo).  It was a great event.  It followed the normal pattern.  The author starts at 7:00, speaks for a bit about the book, reads a passage or two, answers questions, and, then, at about 8, he signs books.  The bookstore sells the latest book and, usually, a few of the earlier ones.

Crais was very interesting, as most of them are.  I saw 11 authors last year, and I liked every one of them, except for one.  That was Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame.  She was a bit arrogant and didn't have much to say.  I might have felt that way because I was 1 of about 5 men in a large audience of women and felt awkward.  Oh, wait.  Actually, I didn't feel awkward at all, but I still didn't like her.

My point (yes, I have one) is that the author events are very cool.  They all give different insights into the publishing industry, and they all tell a different story about how they write, how they got into the business, and how many rejections they had before they were picked up by a literary agent and, subsequently, a publisher.  It is really fascinating stuff.

Let me give you a couple of anecdotes that I know many of you have already heard.  The first involves Richard North Patterson.  Joni and I saw him a couple of years ago.  He was promoting a book called Eclipse which told the story of a fictional African country and how one man stood up to a dictatorship that was centered on its country's oil - based on a true story that took place in Nigeria.  The book was  good, not great.  However, at the event, he also talked about his book from the year before, called Exile.  This was an excellent book (and on Josh's 2011 book list).  It tells the story of a Jewish male attorney that defends a Palestinian woman that he had an affair with in law school.  the story takes place quite a few years later.  In one incident in the book, the protagonist travels to Palestine and has an audience with a rebel leader who has to move every 24 hours to avoid the Israelis.  Patterson and his wife actually visited this man.  He said that it occurred to him while he was talking to the rebel leader (flanked by men with AK-47s), that if the Israelis found him right at that time, then he and his wife would be collateral damage.  How spooky is that?

The other anecdote involves an author that Rich and I particularly like, by the name of Sheldon Siegel.  His stories center on an attorney in San Francisco (Sheldon is also an attorney) who is partners with his ex-wife.  Each book is a murder mystery and a courtroom drama.  They are really entertaining.  A couple of months ago, Joni, Rich, and I went to see Sheldon at M (he lives in Marin County).  There were a total of 5 of us there, including our 3!  After he finished the program and the book signing (that didn't take him long!), we said to him that we were going out to dinner a couple of blocks away and would he like to join us.  He said yes, and we spent an hour and 15 minutes with him.  Besides being a good guy, it was fascinating to get some inside details about the publishing industry.  It was a memorable night for the 3 of us - and, of course, for him too!

I can go on and on about these author events.  I can tell you about seeing Ken Follett at Keplers and feeling like I was in the presence of a rock star.  I can tell you about seeing such luminaries as Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn, both New York Times bestselling authors.  The list goes on and on (as do I, evidently).  I strongly encourage you to try one of these events.  If you like it, let me know.  If you don't , keep it to yourself.

At the end of each blog, I will list upcoming author events and the venue.  I will only mention the authors that I like or that I think most of you will like.  There are millions of these events every year, so I've got to limit the listings.  You can always go to the websites of these bookstores and get on their emailing lists.  I think you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

completion of blog

Okay, all, because of my computer ineptitude, I sent a blog that was incomplete.  In fact, I may have sent the incomplete blog twice.  Those of you who know me are not the least surprised.  Here are the last 2 paragraphs of the blog:

"Other than Hayhurst, who is a lightweight, I would recommend all of these books to anybody who enjoys a well-constructed, oftentimes exciting, and always interesting action story.

P.S.  Marshall sent a comment about getting recommendations from some of you.  Please send along your choices for authors.  Since a great many of the books I read come from Bob and Rich, I know they will be able to add to the list."

First of all, let me thank you for your suggestions for future blogs.  Marsha suggested discussing independent bookstores in the Bay Area.  Torrey’s idea was to talk about authors and books to avoid.  Joni thought it would be interesting to talk about chick-lit books that even men would enjoy.  These will definitely be topics that I’ll address.  Today, though, I want to talk about book lists.  One of my very favorite aspects of book world is recommending specific books to specific people.  This is one of my pure pleasures.  I especially enjoy it when the person reads the book and reports back that he/she liked it.  If that person loved it, I’m in literary heaven.  Toward the end of last year, my son, Josh, asked me to pick his books for 2011.  This was a task that was so much fun, that I was sorry when I was done.  Josh likes books with action.  He doesn’t mind a story with an intricate plotline, but he doesn’t want Oprah.  Here is the list I came up with – in the order I suggested he read them.

John Jakes – The Bastard
Dan Brown – Angels and Demons
Lee Child – Killing Floor
David Baldacci – The Camel Club
Sheldon Siegel – Special Circumstances
Nelson DeMille – The Charm School
Stuart Woods – Chiefs
James Swain – Midnight Rambler
Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harlan Coben – Deal Breaker (or Drop Shot, if you’ve read Deal Breaker)
Jeffrey Archer – Prisoner of Birth
Tom Rob Smith – Child 44
Vince Flynn – Transfer of Power
Brian Haig – Secret Sanction
Tami Hoag – Night Sins
Steve Berry – The Templar Legacy
Richard North Patterson – Exile
Alex Berenson – The Silent Man
Daniel Silva – The Unlikely Spy
David Benioff – City of Thieves
Brad Thor – The Apostle
Nick Hayhurst – Bullpen Diaries

Although all of these books are exciting and action-filled. I tried to bring variety to his reading and introduce him to new (for him) authors.  So, for example, many of these books are book 1 (or book 2, if he already read book 1) of a series:  Jakes, Brown, Child, Baldacci, Siegel, Swain, Larsson, Coben, Smith, Flynn, Haig, Berry, Berenson, and Silva.  Some are simply outstanding stand-alones:  DeMille, Woods, Archer, Hoag, Patterson (definitely not James), Benioff, Thor (part of a series, but it doesn’t seem to matter if you read them in order, or not), and Hayhurst (not outstanding, but a light-hearted and light-reading non-fiction baseball book).

They run the gamut from a serial killer to a KGB officer to a British prisoner to a CIA agent to a Swedish computer hacker to a secret American POW camp at the outskirts of Moscow to a, seemingly, homeless park caretaker across from the White House to a Palestinian woman accused of a terrorist act and defended by an American Jewish attorney.  Even though I enjoyed every one of these books – a lot - some of them stood out:

Patterson (not James!)

Other than Hay
hurst, who is a lightweight, I would recommend all of these books to anybody who enjoys a well-constructed, oftentimes exciting, and always interesting story.

P.S.  Marshall sent a comment about getting recommendations from some of you.  Please send along your choices for authors.  Since a great many of the books I read come from Bob and Rich, I know that they will be able to add to the list.


Sunday, January 16, 2011


Greetings to all you book lovers.  This the first blog for The Book Sage.  My goal is to create a dialogue with those of you who want to talk books.  I hope that we will all learn about new authors and new books and that more reading is the end result for everybody.  I know that our mutual love of books (whether they be in hardcover, paperback, or on an ereader) and this give-and-take will lead to more people reading more of the time.  If you're looking for any intellectual discourse or deep philosophical discussions, you've come to the wrong blog.  This blog is for the readers who want to enjoy their books.  I don't want it to feel like a school assignment.  All of us have to make time to fit our reading in, and it should be enjoyable.

In the coming posts, I will discuss different genres and some of my favorite books from those genres.  I will want to know what your favorites are too.  Everybody benefits from these lists.  Let's start by hearing any comments that any of you may have about the direction you would like to see this blog go.  Although I have no problem with (trying to) impose my will on everybody (and it is, in fact, my blog!), I would actually prefer to make it more interactive.  Your comments will always be welcome.

Let the games (and books) begin.