Mar 25

Fountain pens, fandom, Sous Chef and The Cold Song …

More questions from the inbox

The Tournament of Books is underway and The People in the Trees is quite the spoiler! I’m watching every round, rooting for Hanya Yanigaraha’s novel which beat Life After Life in round one and trounced The Goldfinch in the quarter-final round. As an addendum to this podcast, which was recorded on March 24th, The People in the Trees has gone on to beat Philip Meyer’s The Son. Please excuse my glee.

After the gloating, we answer two questions:

Andrea in Louisville, KY asks about “rebound books,” the book that you pick up after reading something that you really loved.  We’ve referred to these as “palate cleansers” in the past, and it’s a problem we have often. When you love a book, often the next book just can’t measure up, no matter how wonderful it may be. To get out of these slumps, we watch TV, but we also like genre fiction, thrillers, and things that are “known entities.”

Michelle from Kentucky refers to a recent podcast where I described my love for fountain pens, and she wants the details.  My favorite fountain pen is the Twsbi Diamond 580 and I buy them either direct or from Goulet Pens. And Michelle didn’t ask, but I know that we’ll get emails, so I’ll also share my favorite notebooks (the Rhodia Web Notebook in Dot Grid) to use with my fountain pens. [note: we don’t get any compensation from those links, though if Twsbi or Goulet Pens wants to sponsor the podcast, give us a shout!].


audiobooksAudiobook of the week (12:54)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle   We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne, is my pick for this week’s Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand. allows you to listen to over 40,000 audiobooks, instantly, wherever you are, and the first one is free. Download or stream any book directly to your Apple or Android device. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and free audiobook download by going to


The power of fan-tastic readers (16:33)

We’ve been thinking about “fandom” and how people who are diehard supporters of a book, tv show or movie seem to go to all lengths to demonstrate their love for that property.

This article, The Strongest Brand in Publishing is… by David Vinjamuri, got our attention. A recent study looked at authors and the power of an author’s brand on book sales. They found that, overall, sales of books depended on how loyal the readers for that author were. Awards and reviews were less important. And in fact, they found that among authors studied, the number one brand was Jack Reacher — the main character in the series of books written by Lee Child. This isn’t based on sales, but instead on fan loyalty. Even though more book shoppers are aware of Stephen King and John Grisham, more people list Lee Child as their favorite.

In this segment, we also talk about the fact that fans of movies and TV shows often have identifiable names (Trekkies, Who-vians), but few book properties have such talked about fandoms.  It’s very difficult to demonstrate to the wider world that you’re the fan of a book. We’ll be watching to see what happens with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander when that beloved series comes to Starz this summer. That series has legions of fans, but it will be interesting to see if they demonstrate their love for the book outwardly with costumes, kilts and t-shirts.


Two books we can’t wait for you to read (30:46)


Sous Chef   Cold Song


Michael talks about Sous Chef by  Michael Gibney, which is written in the second person in a style that makes you feel like you’re right in the kitchen alongside the author. It’s nearly 24 hours in the life of a sous chef, what it’s like to feed 400 people in a night, and the stress that the chef is under. Gibney has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, and the style works wonderfully for a book like this.

The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann is the first book in translation that I’ve read this year. Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland, The Cold Song is story of a family, and a family that is not particularly happy. At the center of the novel is the disappearance of the nanny and a luxe vacation home in a village in Norway. This book will be published on April 8th.

  • lindsay

    Last week I listened to Ann’s Book Riot guest-host, and this week you’re talking about fountain pens…maybe a guest spot on The Pen Addict could tie this whole nerdy little corner of the internet together?!

  • JanetS.

    Regarding the timing of the release of the Outlander series on Starz, I heard that it will be June to coincide with the release of book number 8, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

  • Kelley

    Thanks for another great episode.

    Just to let you know, Whiskycast is a good podcast about all kinds of whisky, including bourbon. (BTW, it’s spelled without the “e” because that’s the way it’s spelled for scotch and that’s a focus of the podcast.)

  • Véronique

    Dear Ann, thanks for recommending the TWSBI fountain pen. I had been looking for a good writing fountain pen for a long time and was glad to hear you talking about pens and stationery on the podcast. I managed to find an online seller in Germany who carries these pens and got mine today and what shall I say? It writes like a dream! Would love to hear if you have any other recommendations! Thanks again!

    Véronique from Wiesbaden, Germany

  • Wren

    I just listened to the latest podcast and I got so excited when Ann started talking about fountain pens and notebooks. Two of my favorite things in life! I’ve never tried the TWSBI brand and I think one will be on it’s way to me very shortly. The notebooks look great too. I always prefer grids and not lines, but I never see the ones with the dots. Very excited about this! I love your podcast and keep trying all kinds of books I never would have even considered before. Thanks for expanding my horizons in more than one area!

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