Jul 09

This week: BookVibe, Other People podcast, a literary trip to Russia, short stories from Connie Willis, and Lottie Moggach’s Kiss Me First.

Two Recommendations (that aren’t books):

We recently received an email from the staff at BookVibe telling us about their new service. I tend to be skeptical of “book discovery sites”–it’s a space that many want to try and get into right now, and I’m not sure an algorithm is ever going to do it for me. But BookVibe is a cool site that Michael and I have been having fun playing with. BookVibe parses the people you follow and twitter, and delivers a list of books that those people have been talking about. It’s pretty — the book jackets take center stage — and super easy to use. There are other features that are fun, but mostly, it’s a great way to see what books people are talking about. Check it out!

I also want to recommend a podcast that is new to me — specifically, one episode of a podcast (I’m sure the others are great, too, but I haven’t yet listened). Other People podcast with Brad Listi, Episode #188 features an interview with Ecco Books editor Lee Boudreaux. Lee is an editor that Michael and I both follow closely; she has edited some of our favorite books, including Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Rhonda Riley’s The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope, and most recently, Alissa Nutting’s Tampa. This interview is a great look inside publishing. If you are curious about how books get into bookstores, get buzz, and other insights into publishing, give a listen.


A Literary Trip to Russia: (09:12)

I spent a lovely four-day weekend reading books set in Russia.  I knew at the outset that I would not finish all of them, but my mission was to read a good sample of each. This project was inspired by Elliott Holt’s book, You Are One of Them, which I loved, and which made me want to read more books set during various parts of Russian history.

The books I read (or read part of):

The Age of Ice by J. M. Sidorova – a fantastic historic epic with a bit of magic and a lot of gorgeous prose. And maps! And lists of characters! I talk quite a bit about this book on the actual podcast, so if it sounds like something you’d like, you might want to listen to me prattle on about it.

Stalin’s Barber by Paul M. Levitt – The story of a man who becomes barber to Stalin (and to a number of Stalin impersonators). Fascinating history and absurdist political intrigue.

The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne – Yay, Imperial Russia! I do love the period. the story of Georgy, a young man who was plucked from his village and taken to live at the Winter Palace. John Boyne is a favorite author of mine, and I’ll read anything he writes. Put it in Imperial Russia and I’m sold.

And just to round it out, the first two books in a Young Adult fantasy trilogy that is inspired by Imperial Russia (but really has nothing to do with the actual Russia0: Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. These are so much fun, even if you’re technically not a young adult.


Two Books we Can’t Wait for you to Read (24:25)


The Best of Connie Willis   Kiss Me First

Michael recommends The Best of Connie Willis, a new anthology from one of the masters of science fiction. This volume features ten stories that have all won either the Hugo or Nebula award. “Fire Watch” (which appears in this collection) will be the Short Story Read-Along for July’s Project Short Story. I’ll put up the full read-along post on Friday, but for now, you can read the story here.

My recommended read for this week is Kiss Me First by Lotte Moggach. It’s both a page-turner and an investigation into what happens when someone takes on someone else’s character online. It’s a fascinating subject, and this is an original story that I truly enjoyed. And how can you pass up that cover?

  • Carol Kubala

    I’ve only just begun – to listen to the podcast that is…but would like to second the recommendation for Brad Listi’s podcasts. I’ve been listening to this frenetic guy for quite some time and always enjoy his chat and guests. The episode Ann mentions sounds particularly interesting and I’m going to get right on it!

  • For stories based in Russia, a really good crime novel based in the Stalin-era Soviet Russia is Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith. It is really well done, following a police officer who is trying to stop a serial killer in a country run by people who believe such a thing can’t exist.

  • matthewdicks

    As an author, BookVibe is a little scary…

  • I just listened to the ‘Other people” podcast Lee Boudreux. it was really good and fun to listened to. Thanks for suggesting. And as a fan of Russian literature and books set in Russia, I am looking forward to checking out those books you suggested. Thank you!

  • Jana Navratil

    Has anyone commented on the similarities of the names Jennifer Jones and Samantha Smith? All 3 of my children went to an elementary school named after her (Samantha) and so when I heard the podcast it struck me immediately! It has to be based/inspired by the real girl.

    • Yes, it was inspired by Samantha Smith. I thought I mentioned that in the podcast, but due to technical issues I had to record that section twice, so maybe I forgot to say.

      • Jana Navratil

        You very well may have. I thought I was alert and oriented, but I was listening in the wee hours of insomnia. I loved your Russian adventure!

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  • Slynn

    Another book set in Russia you might like is City of Thieves by David Benioff.

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