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What I was reading in 2010 [Part I]

Lately when people ask me what I’ve been reading, I tell them not much. It’s perplexing that owning a small, independent bookstore doesn’t free your time for reading the way working a straight 40 at McDonald’s leaves you able to spend the other 128 hours in the week as you wish. Of course, neither the task of balancing the books on your nose nor flipping burgers and having impatient, arrogant, self-important customers angry at you for a 3 minute delay in getting their heart-attack in a bag is really conducive to the sort of mental state I require for reading. Or at least for serious reading. I will freely admit it takes little effort to unlock the best escapist fantasy even though the same book may have a great deal to unlock. Certainly my favourite in this genre for 2010 was Patrick Ness series Chaos Walking. The final book in the trilogy just came out this September past, so for those who need to be certain they can finish what they start there will be no disappointment.

In the past few months, I have recommended this series to dozens of readers, both young adults and those who enjoy excellent science fiction and fantasy.  So far, I’ve gotten no complaints and plenty of raves.  The problem I’ve been having is how to adequately represent the series without giving away key details about the books.  So far, I mainly tell people the books are about a young man whose coming of age puts him on a suspenseful path of exodus and discovery.  It’s set in a world colonized by people who sought a return to mid 19th century farming type communities but have encountered a series of adaptive disruptions, the most crucial, a virus which has apparently killed all the women and made men able to hear each others thoughts.

This is probably, to me, one of the crucial selling points.  Patrick Ness has made telepathy a real burden, a far cry from the traditional scifi view of telepathy as gift. When I say men can hear each others thoughts, I’m not talking about hearing thoughts like one hears speech. Though our brains do interpret thoughts into speech and images as one would expect, the trick is you hear ALL the thoughts.  Every thought comes flowing out in a see of what Ness’s character Todd calls Noise.  For a moment, just imagine all the thoughts you have in a given moment.  Not just the ones that form the words you speak, but all the thoughts that go into crafting that speech.  And add in all the motive thoughts, those underlying desires keeping your brain at work thinking.  Now imagine those thoughts broadcast out for a whole world to hear.  While there are proximal limits to this broadcast, imagine a town where fifty or a hundred souls are all proximate and broadcasting.  This is the horror of Todd’s world.  And the secrets behind it are the driving forces of the story.  So now, I feel I’ve told you nearly all that can be safely told besides a few final tidbits: Animals thoughts can also be heard.  A great deal of what Todd knows about his world is based on lies. And once you start reading, you won’t want to put this down until you’ve uncovered the ever difficult to deal with truth.

The series is fairly morally complex and is quite violent so I recommend only mature young adults be entrusted with it.  While its not filled with the sex occupying the pages of so many young adult novels these days, the emotive elements are powerful and I highly encourage parents to read it along with any children given the books.  Besides, it will be just as fulfilling and entertaining for you as for them.

Martin Clarke to Judge 2011 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

Acclaimed author Martin Clark, who serves as a circuit court judge when he is not writing best-selling novels, will now also judge the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s 2011 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize.

The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize honors internationally celebrated North Carolina novelist Thomas Wolfe. The winner receives $1,000 and possible publication in the Thomas Wolfe Review. Submissions for the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize are accepted from December 1 until the postmark deadline of January 30.

Martin Clark is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Davidson College and a 1984 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. In 1992 he was appointed as a juvenile and domestic relations judge for the Twenty-first Judicial Circuit and currently serves as a circuit court judge for the Virginia counties of Patrick and Henry and the city of Martinsville, Virginia.

His first novel, The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, was a New York Times Notable Book for the year 2000 and a Book –of-the-Month Club selection. His second novel, Plain Heathen Mischief, appeared on both Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s Top 100 list for 2004. His third book, The Legal Limit (2008), was praised by reviewers as “the new standard by which legal fiction should be judged” and “the best courtroom story ever.” He lives in Stuart, Virginia, with his wife Deana.

Entries for the 2011 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize must be no more than 12 double-spaced pages, and must be postmarked by January 30, 2011. Checks must be made payable to the North Carolina Writers’ Network. Submissions should be mailed to –

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

c/o Tony Abbott

PO Box 7096

Davidson College

Davidson, NC 28035

The winner will be announced in April. Please see below for complete guidelines.

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

Postmark deadline: January 30 (annual)

Submissions Accepted from December 1 – January 30

Eligibility and Guidelines

  • The competition is open to all writers without regard to geographical region or previous publication.
  • Submit two copies of an unpublished fiction manuscript not to exceed 12 double-spaced pages.
  • Names should not appear on manuscripts but on separate cover sheet along with address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title.
  • An entry fee must accompany the manuscript: $15 NCWN for members, $25 for nonmembers. You may pay the member entry fee if you join the NCWN with your submission. Checks should be made payable to the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
  • Entries will not be returned.

The winner is announced in April.

Send submissions, indicating name of competition, to:

Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

PO Box 7096

Davidson College

Davidson, NC 28035

Checks should be made payable to the North Carolina Writers’ Network.

# # #

About the North Carolina Writers’ Network

Founded in 1985, the nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the largest statewide literary arts organization in the country. The mission of the North Carolina Writers’ Network is to connect, promote, and lead emerging writers and established writers through workshops, conferences, and other programs and services. The Network builds audiences for literature, advocates for the literary arts and for literacy, and provides information and support services for writers of all kinds and at all levels.

Buy Christmas Gifts Now get FREE books later!

Because you’ve been nice, we are giving you $10 in store credit for every $30 you spend between now and Christmas Eve. It’s that simple. Once again but bigger:

Spend $30 get $10 in FREE books


Spend $60 get $20 in FREE books


Spend $90 get $30 in FREE books



If you’ve been naughty. Well… too bad… Santa’s bring you coal. But you can still get FREE books from us.

The Book Tavern

StoryCorps @booktavern Oct. 25th

Come record your story or the story of a loved one! StoryCorps, the national oral history project, is coming to the Book Tavern for one day only on October 25th. Have your voice preserved on a high-quality recording to keep for posterity, and be part of a national movement of listening.

Appointment slots:

Sign up by Monday, October 18, by emailing or calling 706.826.1940, or send us a message through email, facebook or twitter and include your phone number so we can contact you about availability.

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants.

The heart of StoryCorps is the conversation between two people who are important to each other: a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary. By helping people to connect, and to talk about the questions that matter, the StoryCorps experience is powerful and sometimes even life-changing.

Our goal is to make that experience accessible to all, and find new ways to inspire people to record and preserve the stories of someone important to them. Just as powerful is the experience of listening. Whenever people listen to these stories, they hear the courage, humor, trials and triumphs of an incredible range of voices.

Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

Find out more at

The Unchained Tour Comes to Augusta!

The Unchained Tour of Georgia is coming to Augusta on October 26th! The Book Tavern is supporting Unchained in its mission of generating excitement about book stores through story-telling and music while inspiring people to see their local bookstore as the center of their communities.

One of the ways we are trying to help is by arranging host accommodations for the performers on Tuesday Night, the 26th of October. If you are interested in hosting two or more performers in your home that evening, please contact us via email:

Keep watching here for more info about the Tour and how you can be involved. Or visit their website:

The Unchained Pledge
I promise to be proud of where I am from, even if I have just moved here. I promise to eat home grown whenever I can because a little local flavor makes life sweeter. And I pledge that I will go to my local bookstore, introduce myself to my local bookseller, shake their hand, look them in the eye and tell them “I am Unchained and I buy my books from you.”

Although the Word is common, the many live as if they had a private understanding. - Heraclitus

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