Digital Lending Is Here!

For me, books are like crack. I will seriously consider buying less food if there is a new title out that I want to read.  And having a Kindle makes it all too easy to have instant gratification.

At first I thought I was safe. After all, Kindle allows you to “sample” any book you are thinking about purchasing before actually doing so. I typically do opt for the free portion before buying, but rarely do I not click “Download Now.” In under a minute, I have added another digital notch to my bookshelf.

However, roughly a third of the time I select a title, I have some buyer’s remorse. And as many Kindle owners know, those regrets can add up financially. That’s why I was pleased to learn that Kindle has added “library lending” to its services.

Just like a title you purchase, your library selections allow you to annotate, highlight, and use bookmarks. If you choose to buy it or check it out again, those notes will still be there.

Right now, 11,000 libraries around the country are participating in digital lending.

Here  is how it works:

  • Visit the website of a U.S. library that offers digital services from OverDrive.
  • Check out a Kindle book (using a valid library card).
  • Click on “Get for Kindle” and then sign in to your account to have the book delivered to your Kindle device or reading app.
  • Your book can be delivered to your device either directly or via USB.

Happy (free!) reading!!!

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced

This past Saturday, the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced.  Among the finalists are  Johnathan Franzen for Freedom and Siddhartha Mukharjee for The Emperor of All Maladies.

Along with the Pulitzer Prize (2010 winner, Tinkers by Paul Harding) and the Man Booker Prize (2010 winner, The Finkler Question by Harold Jacobson), the NBCC Award is among the most coveted of literary prizes.

The first NBCC award was given in 1974 at the historic Algonquin Hotel in New York City, where literature’s illuminati gathered in the 1920s. The goal of the NBCC is to extend that intimate conversation of the Round Table into a “national conversation.”

There are six categories for which the prize is awarded: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The winners are selected by critics, of course. There is an additional award called the “Balakian” which “honors working critics.”

Here is a full list of 2010’s finalist nominees:


A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (FSG)
To the End of the Land by David Grossman (Knopf)
Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson (FSG)
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Faber & Faber)


Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (Random House)
Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne (Scribner)
Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans (Random House)
The Emporer of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner)
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)


Half A Life by Darin Strauss (McSweeneys)
Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)
Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird (Scribner)
Autobiography of An Execution by David Dow (Hachette)
Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve)
Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (Feminist Press)


How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Questions and Twenty Attempts at An Answer by Sarah Bakewell (Other Press)
The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham: A Biography by Selina Hastings
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yuente Huang
The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers
Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends by Tom Segev


The Posessed by Elif Batuman (FSG)
The Professor and Other Writings by Terry Castle (HarperCollins)
Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West by Clare Cavanagh (Yale)
The Cruel Radience: Photography and Political Violence by Susan Linfield (Univ. of Chicago)
Vanishing Point by Ander Monson (Graywolf)


One With Others by C.D. Wright (Copper Canyon)
Nox by Anne Carson (New Directions)
The Eternal City by Kathleen Graber (Princeton)
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes (Penguin)
The Best of It by Kay Ryan (Grove)