Tag: books on the nightstand

Practical Classics by Kevin Smokler

Posted November 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 2 Comments

Practical Classics by Kevin SmoklerTitle: Practical Classics (Goodreads)
Author: Kevin Smokler
Published: Prometheus Books, 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Classics have a lot to say about life, the problem is the ones that are forced upon us during high school are normally hated or forgotten about. Teachers pick books that are designed to teach important lessons as well as develop critically reading skills. Kevin Smokler has decided to reread those classics and try to tell the reader why we should reread them.

Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School is a collection of essays that often remind the reader what these classics have to offer but told in a very accessible and humours ways. I’m not sure where I first heard about this book, I want to say Books on the Nightstand but I can’t be too sure. I’ve always had an interest in classics and what is assigned in English classes around the place.

The only book I remember studying in High School was Romeo and Juliet and I have to admit I never read it, we ended up watching the movie instead; the Baz Luhrmann version was just released. So I never had a chance to learn about the classics and reading critically. These are new skills I’m still developing. When I suddenly gained an interest in reading and education and have often spent time thinking about what books I would want to teach (see this old post where I pick some books to teach).

Out of the 50 books in this novel; I think I only read a small portion of them so Smokler has really destroyed my TBR list with so many more novels. Not that it really is his fault; I will probably read most of them anyway. I’m interested in knowing why some of these books were chosen, I couldn’t work that out at times and really want to learn more about how they pick the books. Kevin Smokler stated that he reread the books he was assigned in high school and then consulted friends, teachers, etc. to get a nice round 50.

This doesn’t help answer the question I had but it was probably the most practical way to pick books. I’m just fascinated in the idea of studying literature and the process behind deciding what to teach. I’m taking the time to work through an English Lit course and I hope it doesn’t squash my passion for the topic to continue further in. I would love to know if there were books that could help satisfy my curiosity; I will continue to search for them.

I wasn’t much of a non-fiction reader for a long time (in fact I’ve only been a reader since 2009), but books about books are my newfound interest. Kevin Stoker’s book really was a fascinating read and I want people to recommend me some more non-fiction books that will help. Stoker mentioned two in his book that I am to pick up and I hope some of the readers of this will give me some more. If you are interested in learning why classics are important, or you are just interested in books about books, this is a nice addition.

My Top Five Bookish Podcasts

Posted June 25, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Top 5 / 0 Comments

top-5There are millions of podcasts out there so I recently decided to listen to more of the literature based ones. Problem is there seems to be heaps of interesting podcasts out there but I found I’m more interested in the ones that banter about books rather listening to people talking about a particular book. The podcast is an interesting medium to talk about books and really helps show people’s passion about different bookish topics. I thought I would suggest some of the book podcasts that I love and my advantages/disadvantages of each series. Hope this gives some good ideas for which book podcasts to check out and maybe get some suggestions for others worth checking out.

The Bookriot Podcast (iTunes, website)

29-05-2014 12-10-52 PMWhile I have some issues with this site, I have to respect what they’ve done in book blogging and just how many pies they have their fingers in. This is a pretty good format based around what has been happening that week in book news but the huge downsides include too American focused, limited show notes and sponsorship.

You Wrote the Book! (iTunes, website)

YWTB!I’m always happy to see Simon Savidge throw his hat into another project. I first discovered Simon via The Readers and then his blog. This is a fortnightly podcast where Simon interviews an author about life as a writer and a reader. Advantage is that it’s nice to know there are more male book bloggers out there and he has a real eclectic taste in books; my only problem with this podcast is that it takes time away from The Readers.

Bookrageous (iTunes, website)

bookrageousBookrageous is a podcast where their hosts, Josh, Jenn and Rebecca just talk about what books they have been reading and banter about those books before moving onto an interesting bookish news piece or a monthly book club pick. Major disadvantage of this show is it airs irregularly and their website doesn’t offer much information other than basic show notes.

Books on the Nightstand (iTunes, website)


Books on the Nightstand state that they strive to bring great book recommendations as well as a behind the scenes look into the world of books. Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman both work in the book publishing industry (Random House) but consider this a personal project to talk all things book. I love the general podcast here but sometimes they do author talks from their many Booktopia events which I mostly skip due to sound quality. I understand they are extremely busy and it would be hard to do a weekly show but I think they are well worth checking out even if you go for weeks waiting for a non-Booktopia show.

The Readers (iTunes, website)

thereadersThe Readers is my favourite out of all the book podcasts I regularly listen to, Simon Savidge (also hosts You Wrote the Book!) and Gavin Pugh are both book bloggers. While they both have very different tastes in book (Gavin more interested in speculative fiction and Simon, literary fiction) every fortnight they come together and just banter about books. I think The Readers Is the only podcast where I have listened to every episode; always entertaining, both are passionate about books and pick interesting topics to talk about. Disadvantage for me is the fact that it went from a weekly to fortnightly show but I’m all for them doing other projects (as long as it doesn’t effect this one). Highly recommend The Readers to book bloggers just for the entertainment and even for some interesting book blogging ideas.

There are so many podcasts out there but I thought I would leave you with five that I regularly listen to. Other interesting podcasts worth checking out include Literary Disco (which talks a book an episode including once a Hardy Boys book) and The Writer and the Critic (covers two books an episode and focuses mainly on speculative fiction). Also a special shout out to fellow Aussie book bloggers Angelya and Philippa who are starting up a YA/Spec Fiction podcast called Tea in the Treetops.

Now it’s your turn, do you listen to podcasts, if so how about bookish ones? I want to know what works and doesn’t work in a podcast. It’s an interesting medium and most of these podcasts that I’ve mentioned do it really well. This has been a little project I’ve been working on, trying out different book related podcasts and I think I’ve come up with a good selection. My next project is to find some interesting book vloggers so please recommend me some if you know of any.

Gatsby and My Hate for Movie Tie-In Covers

Posted May 9, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments


I had a little complaint about book covers changing a few days ago but now I feel the need to comment on something else cover related. Movie tie-in book covers are the worst thing out there, I know they help people recognise the book but they are just so ugly and should never be printed. The New York Times wrote an interesting article called Judging ‘Gatsby’ by Its Cover(s) in which they looked at the iconic Great Gatsby cover with the new movie cover.

Normally books go through different cover changes but when it comes to The Great Gatsby, the original cover is still the most recognised of all its covers. So when you see the movie tie-in cover it is a huge shock; do we really need a cover with Leonardo DiCaprio on it? The article is really interesting because it looks at how the original cover is out selling the movie tie-in and even an independent bookseller who refuses to sell the new cinematic edition. Saying “It’s just God-awful, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a pillar of American literature, and people don’t want it messed with. We’re selling the classic cover and have no intention of selling the new one.”

There is even a little quote by Ernest Hemingway who called the original cover “garish” and wrote in his memoir A Moveable Feast that he was “embarrassed by the violence, bad taste and slippery look of it.” But that is probably a whole new blog post, maybe two (one to look at the complex relationship of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway).

I know I hate movie tie-in covers and go out of my way to avoid them at all cost. I know most people hate them, you can read The Week complain about them, even Books on the Nightstand had a conversation about them recently. But I want to know if there are any good movie-tie in covers out there and what you think about them?

Books Beside the Bed

Posted March 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

While I’ve noticed people write posts about what they plan to read during the week, I thought I might do something similar. I thought rather than make this a regular theme; it will just be something to help break up all the review posts. I like the idea of a post about the books by my bed because I have so many books I want to read, it could be fun to share what I’m currently reading and hope to read soon.

The Son by Philipp Meyer

I don’t know why I was excited to read this book, I’ve not even read American Rust but when I was offered a review copy I jumped at the chance. So far I’m finding this book to be compelling and can see why people hold Philipp Meyer in such high regard.


What it Was by George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos is best known as a writer for The Wire, I will admit I’ve not watched the show in its entirety but I thought I’ll try one of his books. This has a real 1970’s feel to it and so far I’m really enjoying the pulp style. Apparently this is book five in a series but it reads like a standalone novel.


A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

I first heard about this book from The First Tuesday Book Club (now known as The Book Club) and thought it might be a short book for the Literary Exploration challenge’s Erotica pick. This is a library book so I will need to get to this book soon.


Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

Another library book, this book was talked about on the Books on the Nightstand podcast and they described the protagonist as a descendant of Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher and Richard Stark‘s Parker. Then the final nail in the coffin was when the blurb called it “Stunningly dark, hugely intelligent and thoroughly addictive”.


Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

A friend of mine lent me these books; while I’m not really a fan of fantasy I did mention I have enjoyed the fantasy/pulp crossover novels. So now I’ve been told to read Guards! Guards! and if I like it, Men at Arms.  Not sure when I’ll get to these books, but they sit beside my bed waiting for me.


Mimi by Lucy Ellmann

I recently receive this book and I don’t know what it is but I feel drawn to it. Mimi does look intriguing but I’m still not sure what to expect. The novel is described as “Sparkling, polemical, irreverent, slippery, and sexy”.

While I have plenty of other books I plan to read these are the books sitting next to my bed hoping to take priority. This is not always the case, I might put some on my TBR bookshelf but they are all calling for some attention. Do you have a pile of books waiting beside your bed? and if so what are they.