Dec 16

Ann and Michael each pick their Top 5 Favorite Books of 2014!

 

audiobooksAnn’s Audiobook of the Year (02:24)



Miniaturist: A Novel, Jessie BurtonThe Miniaturist by Jesse Burton, narrated by Davina Porter, is Ann’s pick for Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Year. (You’ll get my Audiobook of the Year next week)

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Our Favorite Books of 2014 (05:31)

As always, it was incredibly tough to pick our favorite books of the year, but we managed to do it. We loved so many books this year, but here are our Top 5 each, in no particular order:

Ann’s Top Five Books of 2014

The Book of Unknown Americans     Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Michael’s Top Five Books of 2014

Dec 09

A TV show that we’re both hooked on, National Readathon Day, and two books we can’t wait for you to read.

 

Michael and I are now hooked on a TV show, Black Mirror, which is a UK show that has just come to Netflix (it’s also on YouTube,  and Not Safe for Work or for children). To keep this book-related, Michael says it reminds him of the work of George Saunders, especially the second episode, Fifteen Million Merits, which reminds him of “Escape from Spider Head” that is in  Tenth of December.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:42)

 


Brown Girl DreamingMichael’s pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week is  the National Book Award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodsoon, read by the author.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

National Readathon Day — Join our team!

 

National Readathon Day

 

Need time to read? We have a proposal for you!

National Readathon Day is Saturday, January 24th, 2015. This is a new initiative put together by Penguin Random House (our employers), The National Book Foundation, Goodreads and Mashable. On that day, all are being encouraged to read from 12noon – 4pm (in your own time zone). Schools, libraries and other community places are encouraged to host reading parties and other events. We’d like Books on the Nightstand to come together as a community and participate. Are you in?

National Readathon Day is also a fundraiser for the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to expand the audience for literature in America. The NBF is dedicated to promoting literacy and reading through programs like the National Book Awards, BookUp, 5 Under 35, and the Innovations in Reading Prize.

We’ve put together a team on the National Readathon Day Fundraising page, and we’re asking you to join our team. If you can make a donation, great! But there are other ways you can participate, too. The easiest thing is to block off the time on your calendar and spend the four hours reading. But if you want to do more, reach out to your local bookstore, school, library, coffee shop or other venue to see if they want to host a Reading Party. Or host a party for your friends and family. Whatever you choose to do, if you are reading or helping to get others to read, you’re automatically part of our team.

For more information on National Readathon Day, see the official website.

If you’d like to make a donation as part of the Books on the Nightstand team, you can do that at bit.ly/botnsreadathon — the money that you donate or raise will be aggregated together under our team and it will show on the leaderboard.

Any questions? Leave them in the comments or send us an email. We’ll be talking more about our plans for National Readathon Day in upcoming episodes.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read

 

Masterful Marks   Strange Library

 

 

Michael recommends Masterful Marks: Cartoonists who Changed the World by Monte Beauchamp, a book of short graphical biographies of cartoonists. Each biography is drawn and put together by contemporary graphic artists. This book is in the Books on the Nightstand 2014 Holiday Gift Guide.

My pick this week is The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, a fantastical story of a boy who is trapped in the basement of the library. It’s imaginatively designed by Chip Kidd and heavily illustrated. This is a book for adults, especially fans of Murakami, but might also appeal to teens who like dark and somewhat disturbing stories.

Dec 02

Download the Books on the Nightstand Holiday Gift Guide! Revisiting the concept of book polygamy. We recommend Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers and How to be both by Ali Smith

 

A reminder that the 2014 Books on the Nightstand Holiday Gift Guide is available now. It’s sure to make your holiday shopping easier, and your gift recipients more appreciative! You can download it by clicking here, or on the image below.

BOTNS Holiday Gift Guide 2014

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:48)


You, Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana, is Ann’s pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Revisiting Book Polygamy (08:49)

Way back in episode 114 I discussed the concept of book polygamy and how I was really enjoying reading multiple books at a time. These days, I’ve been reading six or more at a time. I’m enjoying them all, but I still seem to be jumping around between them, and seemingly not giving each enough time to hook me. Ann plays “book therapist” and diagnoses several possible reasons why I’m having this first-world problem.

During this conversation we mention that the New York Times has announced their 100 Notable Books of 2014. It turns out that they do choose their Top 10 from the 100 Notable, which does not seem to bode well for Station Eleven, which makes us angry…

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (23:56)

20821124     23164913

This week I recommend a book from the Holiday Gift GuideOnce Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers. Many first learned about Oliver Jeffers when he illustrated The Day the Crayons Quit. In Jeffers’ new book, each letter of the alphabet gets a story filled with alliteration and crazy antics. Other Oliver Jeffers books we love (and that I mention) are Stuck and The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

Ann has been dying to tell you about How to be both by Ali Smith. It’s a book with two seemingly-disparate narratives presented one after another. However, which order you read them in will be entirely up to fate, as the publisher is printing two versions of the text, so each half of the story gets a chance to go first. The two versions will be indistinguishable from each other. Ann recommends this as a great book group discussion, allowing members to talk about how their perceptions of the story differ based on the sequence of the story.

 

Nov 25

Lots of book recommendations in this episode geared toward gift-giving! 

#GiveABook

 

#GiveABook

 

Our employer is ready to donate books to children in need. Can you help us? Simply use the hashtag #GiveABook on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, and for each post using that hashtag, Penguin Random House will donate one book to Save the Children, up to 25,000 books and through December 25th, 2014. We’d love it if you used the post to share a book you are giving as a gift, or a book you’d love to receive as a gift. Many authors have created videos — maybe you’ll want to create a video about the best book you ever received as a gift. Whatever you choose to do with your post, don’t forget to include the #GiveABook hashtag. Thank you!

 

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:27)

Yes, pleae Michael has chosen Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, narrated By: Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Mike Schur, Eileen Poehler, and William Poehler,  for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

Books to Give (08:11):

 

LIfe-changing Magic of Tidying UpPGCM5-penguin-christmas-set-covers-1200   Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen     Ed Emberley   Here   Battlestar Galactica VaultSaveur The New Classics

 

Our Annual BOTNS Holiday Gift Guide went live at 12:01am on Friday, November 28th. We hope you’ll enjoy our new format, where we each hand-picked twelve titles.

Of course, that meant that we couldn’t include everything. So in this episode, we talk about a few that we left off for one reason or another.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Penguin’s set of Christmas Classics

Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen by Alison Walker

Ed Emberley by Todd Oldham

Here by Richard McGuire

The Battlestar Galactica Vault by Paul Ruditis

Saveur The New Classics

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (30:54):

 

A Christmas Memory   All About Me.

Michael chose A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, an autobiographical tale that is a touching look at the important things that should be focused on during the holidays: family, friendship, and caring.

I chose All About Me, a fill-in-the-blank book that makes it all about you! Give as a gift, or fill it out yourself and give as an extra-special gift to a friend or loved one.

 

Nov 18

A book to read if you’re obsessed with the Serial podcast; we answer several of your questions; and two (uh, three) books we can’t wait for you to read.

 

As a follow-up to our recent discussion of the Serial podcast, I want to call your attention to The Journalist and the Murder by Janet Malcolm. This book should appeal to Serial listeners, as it looks at the ethical issues of journalists and writers covering true crime cases and, in many cases, getting close with suspects.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:13)

The Organized Mind The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin, narrated by Luke Daniels, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

The Crowd-sourced episode (10:21):

 

This week, we tackle some of our questions, including “can I spam you?” (No.) Please feel free to submit your own questions, and listen for our answers on a future episode. Thanks to all who sent in questions!

Other topics include bookstores’ staff recommendations sections; publishers and imprints we follow (list below); books with too little information on the jacket; sequels, trilogies and series; what to read for a readathon, and how to find time to read when you have young children.

 

Small presses mentioned:

E-short prequels to Jodi Picolut’s Leaving Time; currently, these are in ebook only:

 

 

 

Two Three books we can’t wait for you to read (32:54):

 

sit like a buddha     Mindfulness on the Go     Family Furnishings

Michael continues his journey into mindfulness and meditation with two recommendations (he justifies it because they are small):  Sit Like A Buddha by Lodro Rinzler and Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays.

My recommendation this week is Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014  by Alice Munro, a collection of 24 selected stories from Munro’s past six collections.

 

Nov 11

Book Meccas: places you love to visit, or are dying to see. And, we recommend Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher and The World of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin, Elio M. García Jr., and  Linda Antonsson.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (02:49)

Coming Clean, Kimberly Rae MillerComing Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller, narrated by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

What’s Your Book Mecca? (06:44)

When I was in NYC last week, I spent much of my free time wandering the floors of The Strand, a bookstore I just love. When Ann was a child, every year on her birthday she got to go to The Strand to buy books. Other book meccas we mention

Eventually, we settle on the distinction that a book mecca should be a place you visit occasionally or even once in a lifetime. What are your thoughts on what a book mecca should be and what are some of yours? In the comments below, we’d love for all of you to tell us about your Book Meccas, and also about great bookish places, or events that are local to you. Let’s try to create a huge list so that no matter where you travel, there will be a great book place to visit!

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (23:11)

19288259     17345242

Ann recommends Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members, a novel told in letters of recommendation. What happens when Professor Jason Fitger tires of writing letters of recommendation for students and colleagues? And what happens when he starts telling the truth in the letters that he writes?
As the publisher quipped, “Finally a novel that puts the ‘pissed’ back into ‘epistolary.'”

Fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire books and the HBO series Game of Thrones will definitely want to find The World of Ice & Fire wrapped for them this holiday season. Think of it as the gorgeously-illustrated history book for everything that’s happened in Westeros and beyond, before the books began.

 

Nov 04

Reading (and listening to) a lot of non-fiction. Reminding you of two older books 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:55)

Red Book, Deborah Copaken KoganThe Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan, narrated by a large cast,  is Ann’s pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Reading the Real World (07:32)

Ann and I both seem to be in a non-fiction reading mood. Even more specifically than non-fiction, we are reading or interested in reading books that pertain to our respective current life situations. Books that in the past might have been called “self help.” We like to think of them as “big idea” books:

We’ve both been doing a fair bit of non-book, non-fiction listening. We’re hooked on Serial, the new weekly podcast from the creators of This American Life. It follows the story of a 1999 murder, and the man who was convicted of the crime. The podcast seeks to uncover the truth about the case, but, since this is real life, we may never know the full truth.

Don’t You Forget About Me (21:59)

The Brief History of the Dead     The Book of Joe

In The Brief History of the Dead, Kevin Brockmeier manages to create an afterlife that is unlike any I’d encountered before (or since). A virus is systematically wiping out humanity; but what will that mean for those who have already died, and can only linger in “The City” as long as someone alive remembers them?

Ann recommends The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but mostly you’ll be thankful that you’re not the main character – a bestselling author who has to return home to face the community that he skewered in his novel. This is the book that Ann recommends to anyone who wants a funny novel; fans of Nick Hornby will love this.

Oct 28

Getting ready for the holidays. Ambiguous and unresolved ending. We recommend The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.

The Holidays are Here!

Ann and I spent much of last week traveling around to tell bookstore customers and staff about the big books coming out for the holidays. Ann has started making her gift list and I’ve already started shopping. It truly looks like it’s going to be an amazing year for books as gifts.

This year, we’ll be doing something a little different for the BOTNS Gift Guide. It will be smaller, with personal blurbs from Ann and me. We’re calling it Books on the Nightstand’s 12 Books* of Christmas, and it will be published no later than Friday November 28th.

     *each (so that will be 24 personally selected titles)

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:15)

Haunting of Hill House, Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, narrated by Bernadette Dunne,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Wait… What Just Happened?! (08:48)

In one of my book presentations I described a book as having an ambiguous ending, and Ann noticed that a member of the audience wrinkled her nose. She knew right away it would be a great discussion. I immediately wanted to differentiate between two different kinds of endings (which I think might often get confused): ambiguous endings, where the author leaves some, or much, of the story’s end to the readers’ imaginations; and unresolved endings, in which you know exactly what happens to their characters but the story doesn’t fully resolve the issues raised by the plot. Ann and I both agree that ambiguous endings, that are done well, can enhance and extend the experience of the book. Unresolved endings may seem frustrating but, because lives are rarely tied up neatly, they are more realistic.

Another thing we discussed was the importance of discussion in helping some readers “come to terms” with ambiguous or unresolved endings. These types of books make for great book group selections. And online groups, like those on Goodreads, can serve that purpose for those not reading as part of group.

Some of the books we discussed:

We welcome your comments about ambiguous and unresolved endings both in the comments below, and at the thread we’ve started on our Goodreads group discussion board. We think spoilers should be allowed in these discussions, but please do put SPOILER ALERT at the top of your comment if you’re truly giving away a plot point, and not just the fact the book has an ambiguous or unresolved ending.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (25:16)

The Secret History of Wonder Woman     The Book of Strange New Things

I’ve converted Ann! She recommends a book about comic books!! (Not really, but close) Historian Jill Lepore has written what Ann calls a “general book of awesomeness.” In The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Lepore looks at the creation of Wonder Woman, the life of the man who created her, and the role of feminism in the 20th-century.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is a nearly impossible book to describe. At its heart it is the story of a man whose two most vital relationships, the one with his wife, and the one with his faith. Both of these relationships are being tested as never before. A recent article in the New York Times gives a wonderful look at Michel Faber, the writing of this book, and the tragic events that both informed this book and led to him saying that this will be his last novel.

Oct 21

This week we catch up on questions from our inbox. Have a question for us? Use our Google Form to ask.

But first…

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:25)

The Lottery and Other Stories

 

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson, narrated by the four different readers,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.
Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

 

 

Questions and Answers

Jeffrey asks when the next book in Justin Cronin’s trilogy that started with The Passage would be coming out. There’s no announced date yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can. Jeffrey also asked for recommendations of other books that he might enjoy, either similar to Justin Cronin,  The Strain series by Guillermo del Torro and Chuck Hogan, Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver, or young adult dystopian. Michael and I came up with the following:

We know there are many, many more recommendations for Jeffrey out there. Have some? Leave them in the comments so that he can see. Thanks!

 

Other questions asked include:

  • Have we ever recommended books that we haven’t quite finished and then been disappointed in the ending?
  • Is there such a thing as a “book hangover?” (Yes, and for some strategies to get over it, see BOTNS episode #209.)
  • What are some ways to read and understand short stories?
  • Is it helpful to read an author’s books in the order that he or she wrote them, in order to better get to know the author?
  • How do you ensure that you accurately rate a book? Do you go back and adjust if your feelings change over time?
  • What is the value of introductions, and if they contain spoilerish information, why are they printed at the beginning of the book?
  • How do you read a graphic novel? What do the images provide that the text does not? (Check out this pdf from Getgraphic.orghttp://www.getgraphic.org/resources/HowtoReadaGraphicNovel.pdf). In answering this question, Michael recommends Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, which is a graphic novel with no words.

 

 

Oct 14

Creepy book recommendations for October. Hardcovers and paperbacks. And we love Some Luck by Jane Smiley and Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.

Note: Apologies to those on our mailing list who received an e-mail containing several podcasts. It was a glitch that shouldn’t be repeated.

Creepy Reads for October

Emily from Los Angeles, asked, back in September (sorry for the delayed response!), for a creepy read for her book club to read in October. Here are some suggestions for books we loved and a book I’m planning to read in October:The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:25)

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin DoughtySmoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, narrated by the author,  is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week.

Special thanks to Audiobooks.com for sponsoring this episode of Books on the Nightstand.

Audiobooks.com 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 www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Hardcover, Paperback, When Does It Matter? (15:14)

This week, we have a discussion about the differences in hardcovers and paperbacks. Last week I referred to a book as a “trade paperback original.” That means a book that was published first as a paperback; something that didn’t have a hardcover release. Trade paperbacks are the larger size of paperbacks, and tend to be of a higher physical quality than mass market paperbacks which are the smaller paperbacks you’re likely to find at a supermarket or newsstand.

There are many promotional reasons for publishers to choose to do a book as a paperback original, and recent statistics from the Nielsen company show that paperbacks still outsell hardcovers, and we can point to several book success stories that can possibly be attributed to the fact that they were released as paper originals.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (30:14)

Some Luck     Leaving Time

Ann recommends Jane Smiley’s Some Luck, the first in a trilogy that will cover 100 years in the Langdon family of Denby, Iowa. This book spans 1920-1953 (each chapter covers one year) and features the voices of several of the family members.

Jodi Picoult’s new book Leaving Time was the first of hers that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. The story of thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf and her search for her missing mother is wonderful on its own, but is enhanced even more by all of the incredible background on elephant emotions, specifically grief.
For further non-fiction reading on elephant emotions, check out When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and Elephant Memories by Cynthia Moss.

preload preload preload