Aug 28

In this episode we talk about the physical size of books and books in which the author does something for a year then writes about it. We also recommend The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle and The Double Game by Dan Fesperman

Does Size Matter?

Why do some books have a smaller trim size (actual dimensions rather than page count/length) than others? Are books at that size more “thoughtful” than larger books? We discuss the smaller format hardcover size, which may have begun its modern incarnation with Bridges of Madison County. What are your thoughts on smaller books? Are they easier to hold and read? Do they convey a different feeling than their larger brethren?

The Year of “A Year of” (6:28)

The arrival of Erin McHugh’s wonderful new book One Good Deed, in which she did something nice, every day for a year, prompted us to consider other books in which someone did something for a full year. One that Ann listened to on audio earlier this year was A.J. Jacobs’ Drop Dead Healthy  in which the author spent a year trying different diets and workout regimes (and Jacobs is a master at doing things for a year, just look at his earlier books). For me, the one that I most want to read is Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, in which the author, for one year, read nothing but books that she already owned, many that she had forgotten she had. Looking to the future, we know the trend will continue with The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier, in which she took every SAT test offered in her area last year, trying out different test prep methods. How about all of you? What would you do for a year and then write about?

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (14:31)


I’m currently reading and loving The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle. It’s the story of Pepper, a man unjustly imprisoned in New Hyde mental hospital, where the patients are hunted by the Devil himself. Ann recommends The Double Game by Dan Fesperman, a tale set in the world of spy novelists and espionage agents, and a book that comes with a reading of more than 200 of the best spy novels ever written.


  • Patricia Snyder

    I have noticed over the past two or thee years that hardcover books under $24.99 are hard to find. Now when I see that the physical size of the hardcover is being reduced as well along with fewer pages, I feel cheated somehow. I realize that publishers are struggling to stay profitable especially with their hardcovers, but don’t try to convince that a cute little size of a hardcover makes it more appealing for me to read. What not just skip the hardcover edition and go straight to soft cover?

  • Yay, thanks for mentioning Dan Fesperman! He’s awesome. We just reissued his first book, LIE IN THE DARK.

  • I loved The Double Game and am so glad you featured it – I need to seek out his backlist at some point. And the discussion on book size was fascinating!

  • Dan Nieman

    You are on to something when it comes to the size of books. I think publishers have fallen in love with a size (25 cm 350-450 pages). I like to see the smaller books, because I think of them as having better quality, because they do not conform to “factory standards”. I also enjoy the (20 cm) paperbacks that are just larger than mass market paperbacks. The font and line spacing is are just a little larger than mass market paperbacks, which makes them much easier on the eyes.

  • Carol Kubala

    The smaller books seem to get lost on my book shelf, over powered by the standard size hardbounds. That being said there’s nothing wrong with being a non-conformist. It would be a dull world if everything were the same. As to content, I never noticed a differance but as BOTNS has brought this to my attention, I’ll have to pay more attention.

  • Carol Kubala

    Just a note to let you both know that I think you do superior book talking making me want to read everything you bring to our attention. I have heard of Dan Fesperman but have never read anything by him but I certainly want to now.

  • DMLuvsPrufrock

    Getting caught up with the podcast, I was caught offguard with joy to hear Michael mention Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s read them. Terrific books for bibliophiles!

  • DMLuvsPrufrock

    Also – I’ve often thought since leaving the board of my local community theatre that a book about a year in that life would make an hysterical, angsty, and fast-paced book. Not quite what you discussed, but an idea. 🙂

  • Jody

    My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock is the author’s memoir of facing a new fear everyday for a year – in honor of Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “Do one thing every day that scares you”. It’s a funny, charming and well written account by the 30 yr old magazine writer and blogger.

  • Pingback: There are Ghosts: Podcast RecommendationsThere are ghosts()

  • Pingback: Books on Books | A Life Among The Pages()

preload preload preload