The World Is Fat (And The Schedule Is, Too)

9781583333136hLast night, Tara and I got sucked into a reality television show: NBC’s The Biggest Loser — a show which, needless to say, reinforced our recent resolutions to eat less and exercise more (and my own private resolution to watch less bad TV). With the new year already a week old, lots of folks are making — and maybe already breaking — similar resolutions. The new year is also bringing us a new crop of books and bookstore readings and signings. And somewhere in there is a transition to this week’s schedule of events down in North Carolina and up in the D.C. area, because first on my list of things to recommend is an appearance by Dr. Barry Popkin, talking about his new book, The World Is Fat: The Fads, Trends, Policies, and Products That Are Fattening the Human Race. 

Popkin is a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the director of UNC’s Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, and he has written widely on issues of nutrition and obesity for a variety of newspapers of newspapers and magazines ranging from the New York Times to Scientific American. Popkin declared a couple of years ago that there were more overweight people than undernourished people worldwide (1 billion compared to 800 million), and his new book explores some of the causes and consequences of the global obesity epidemic. He’ll be speaking at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, N.C. on Thursday, January 8 at 4 p.m. — the first event of the store’s 2009 reading series.

Other venues are also gearing up the new year’s readings, signings and discussions. See selected highlights below.

North Carolina

coverIn the late 1990s, Sheri Reynolds delivered an impressive trio of books with Bitterroot Landing, The Rapture of Canaan and A Gracious Plenty — the middle of which became an Oprah Book Club pick and earned a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Seven years passed between her third book and her fourth, 2006’s The Firefly Cloak, but Reynolds seems to be back on track, touring now with her latest novel, The Sweet In-Between. Boston Globe review of the new book called Reynolds “a gifted writer with a deceptively simple style and a keen ear for dialogue” and it’s those qualities that make her upcoming Triangle appearances such a draw for readers. The author — a South Carolina native and Virginia resident — will be reading from and signing copies of the new book on Friday, January 9, at 2 p.m. at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village, and again later that day, at 7 p.m., at Durham’s Regulator Bookshop

The same night at 7:30 p.m., NYT bestselling author Kate Jacobs stops by Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books to discuss her latest novel, Knit Two, a sequel to The Friday Night Knitting Club

On Tuesday, January 13, at 7:30 p.m., Quail Ridge hosts N.C. State University professor Rob Dunn, with his book Every Living Thing: Man’s Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys. 

And next Wednesday, January 14, at 7 p.m., the Regulator welcomes Jill Conner Browne with her latest book, American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Preserving Your Assets. (See my review of Browne’s previous Sweet Potato Queens book here.)

Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland

A couple of the authors above are also swinging through the D.C. area en route to North Carolina. Kate Jacobs, for example, will appear at the Borders at Baileys Crossroads on Thursday, January 8, at 7:30 p.m., and Jill Conner Browne visits the same store next Tuesday, January 13, also at 7:30. 

But amidst these and many, many other writers bounding through the area over the next week, it’s a trio of other events I want to call to your attention now.

First, Kyle Semmel, interviewed here just before Christmas, joins fellow staff members at the Writer’s Center this weekend for a reading of their own original poetry and prose. Semmel, for example, will be reading his translation of a story by Danish author Simon Fruelund, and other readers will include Charles Jensen, Carol Cissel, Abdul Ali Abdurrahman,Caitlin Hill, Janel Carpenter, Peter O’Brien, and Sunil Freeman. The reading takes place Sunday afternoon, January 11, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Then, poet Nikki Giovanni — who delighted standing-room-only crowds two years ago at the Fall for the Book Festival at George Mason — will visit Politics and Prose in D.C. on Monday, January 12, at 10:30 a.m. to discuss two new books for children:  Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship and  Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat. (That last one comes with a CD too!)

And riding the Roberto Bolaño wave: P&P also hosts Farrar, Straus & Giroux editor Lorin Stein for a discussion of Bolaño’s overwhelmingly acclaimed  2666. That event takes place next Wednesday, January 14, at 7 p.m.

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