05/07/2012 06:09 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2012

Notes From My (Book)shelf: Week of May 7, 2012

As the owner of an independent bookstore, R.J. Julia, and the founder of the online book service Just the Right Book, my starting point for learning, being charmed or just distracted, is first and foremost, books. Since there is an astonishing amount of information out there, I thought it might be fun to share with you items I have noticed, learned or was curious about in the past week. I hope you find the insights engaging and, in turn, learn something, are charmed or just happily distracted.

Quote of the Week
"Waxing pessimistic is one of the easiest ways to masquerade as wise and there is plenty to be pessimistic about. But permanent pessimism is a substitute for thought." -- Alvin Toffler, Revolutionary Wealth

Book of the Week
Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger. In the last couple of weeks everywhere you turned there was a review of this book -- and for good reason. This quiet but powerful book follows the story of a Bengali woman, Amina, as she emigrates to the U.S. to marry an American she met online, adjusts to life in Rochester and travels back to India to arrange to bring her parents back to the U.S. All seemingly straightforward but as Michiko Kakutani said in her New York Times review "... Ms Freudenberger demonstrates her assurance as a novelist and her knowledge of the complicated arithmetic of familial love and the mathematics of romantic passion." I have been an enormous fan since Freudenberger's debut story collection, Lucky Girls came out in 2003 and with her new novel she continues to hold us in her capable writing hands. She has been a rock star right from the start -- smart, gorgeous and charming -- in fact even if you wanted to resent her you couldn't (Salon)! Treat yourself read Lucky Girls and Newlyweds.

Book Club Selection of the Week

We had a book club soiree this week! Ann Kingman (publisher rep
extraordinaire from Random House and one half of the team that contributes
to and I gave our
top picks and we collected all the book clubs' top book picks. From their
list I would pick as some of my personal favorites -- Catherine the Great by
Robert Massie, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese, Dearest Friend by Lynne
Withey and Tortilla Curtain by TCBoyle. My top pick of a new book for the
night was Art of Hearing Heartbeats and Ann's top pick was History of a
Pleasure Seeker
by Richard Mason. For a full list of books, click here.

Wild Moment of the Week
Watching 1100 woman give a sustained boisterous and heartfelt standing ovation to EL James, author of 50 Shades of Grey. R.J. Julia hosted "Roxanne Coady interviews author EL James" in New Haven. Ms. James is smart, self-deprecating and quick-witted, and she wowed everyone. Despite the push that she is setting the woman's movement back, I would suggest they take a second look -- I think she has sold two million books in 30 days and set off this firestorm because she is introducing Woman's Lib 2.0 -- O standing for orgasm! She is a phenomenon -- seeing a ballroom filled with happy and engaged and thrilled women reading makes for a damned good day!

Question of the Week
When you are at your Book Club gathering, what percent of the time do you spend discussing the book?

Happy Reading and Thinking and Commenting,

Roxanne J. Coady