May 20

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Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book, and Gail Caldwell, author of New Life, No Instructions, recorded at Booktopia Vermont.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week

Julian Chapter, R. J. Palacio The Julian Chapter by R. J. Palacio, narrated by Michael Chamberlain, 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

Bruce and Gail in Booktopia (02:57)

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We’re pleased to present the first two author talks from Booktopia Vermont:  Bruce Holsinger, author of A Burnable Book, and Gail Caldwell, author of New Life, No Instructions.

May 13

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 All the Light We Cannot See; Michael shaves his head; Twists and spoilers; We Were Liars

We can’t read this, but you totally should:

 

all the Light We Cannot See

The book that is at the top of my “want to read” list is a book I won’t get to read until my summer vacation. But it’s been getting so many raves and reviews and so much love from booksellers and others that I trust, that I don’t want to wait to recommend it to you. We may do this from time to time, since so many of you love to hear about what’s new and what’s getting buzz. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has gotten amazing reviews, is a #1 IndieNext pick for May, and is much-loved by so many of my bookselling friends.

 audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:48)

Fault in our Stars The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd, is Michael’s pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. While it didn’t make Michael cry, I know many others who did need a tissue or two while listening to this audiobook.

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

 

Michael Shaves his Head at 08:56:

Kids Cancer Buzz Off - Sponsor Michael

This was mentioned in the Audiobook of the Week segment, but I don’t want anyone to accidentally overlook it:  On June 8th, Michael is having his head shaved as a way to raise money for cancer research. If you’d like to donate, check out Michael’s page or Buzzforkids.org before June 8, 2014.

 

Jaw-dropping books: (12:43)

This segment was inspired by a discussion on our Goodreads group: “Jaw-Dropping Books?”. Though the original poster asked for recommendations of “jaw-dropping books’ like Gone Girl, I worry that talking about a “huge plot twist” is a form of spoiler. If I know there’s a big twist or surprise, I keep that in the back of my mind as I read, trying to anticipate or predict what the twist will be.

So we’ve decided to create a short poll:

 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

If you can’t see the survey, please follow this link to answer.

Feel free to share this survey with your book-loving friends. The larger the sample size, the more accurate the data! Thanks.

 

One book we can’t wait for you to read: (18:55)

 

We Were Liars

 

At the end of last year, one of our trusted colleagues at work sent a manuscript to me and Michael saying, “You have to read this.” The book was We Were Liars by E. Lockheart. It’s a book that will appeal to both young adults and to adults, who may or may not like YA books. It’s the story of a young 17 year old who has suffered an accident, but doesn’t quite remember the circumstances around the accident. Now, two years later, she’s returning for the first time to the private island where her very wealthy family has a summer compound, and where the accident happened. We can’t say more. Really. We can’t. Just read it. We think you’ll love it.

Author E. Lockhart will be joining us at Booktopia Asheville in August, and we’ll post her author talk on a future episode of Books on the Nightstand.

May 06

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Reading and writing on trains. Literary magazines. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

On the Writing Side of the Tracks

Ann and I both love reading on trains, and it appears that authors enjoy writing on trains. Based on a comment from one writer, Amtrak has started the Amtrak Writers’ Residency, and they received 15,000 applications! From that massive pool, twenty-four writers will be given sleeper car berths on Amtrak trains this summer. We’ll be sure to follow up as things progress.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:12)

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, Lemony Snicket File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket, narrated by thirteen all-star authors and celebrities, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. It’s also a book that Ann and her family listened to on their recent vacation, and I scooped her.

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 Periodically (10:27)

This week we delve into the world of literary magazines and journals and highlight two in particular:

Tweed's 1cover no UPCTweed’s – A new incarnation of Coffin Factory, the literary journal Ann profiled last year. The first issue is out now and the magazine will be published bi-annually. The first issue includes a wonderful interview with Edwidge Danticat, and their website has many free features and interviews, including one with Linn Ullmann, author of The Cold Song.

Story – Ann was alerted to the resurrection of Story Magazine by a blog post on Melville House’s website. Originally begun in the 1930′s, revived in the 1990′s, it’s back as a bi-annual magazine which will include stories of all kinds, including poems and comics.

Ann mentions Ada Books in Providence as a great place to buy journals.

I, on the other hand, used to subscribe to The New Yorker and One Story, but I started to feel overwhelmed by all of the things to read, so I have not renewed those. Now, most of my magazine reading about books is the review section of Entertainment Weekly. Their newest issue reviews Fictitious Dishes, a book I’d really like to check out.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (22:37)

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Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, is her first novel, and is a charming look at a young woman who comes to work at a venerated food magazine in NY, just before it is summarily shut down. She’s kept on to keep up the magazine’s recipe guarantee, and it’s during these quiet days alone in the offices that she discovers a wonderful trove of WWII-era letters between James Beard and young girl in middle America. I think it’s a perfect gift for Mother’s Day!

Ann recommends The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, but Gabrielle Zevin, a book that seems to feature Ann as a main character! It’s the story of a man who owns a bookstore on an island off the coast of Cape Cod. He’s grieving his wife and the theft of a valuable book when both a baby and a new publisher sales rep come into his life. It’s been the buzz of booksellers all over the country, and now, non-industry folks are reading it and loving it as well!

Apr 29

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Listener questions, a discussion about diversity in publishing, and new books from TaraShea Nesbit and George Saunders.

Accents, and audio quality

We have two questions from listeners this week:

Crystal wants a recommendation for an audiobook version of Macbeth with a narrator who has a Scottish accent. Can any of you help here? I listened to a BBC Audiobooks version a million years ago, but I can’t seem to find the exact record. We’d love to know if you have a favorite audio version of Macbeth. Please leave it in the comments so that others can see your recommendations. (Receiving this by email? To leave comments on this episode, head over to this episode’s show notes at the blog, and click the “comment” link at the top or bottom of the post.)

Terri in Quincy, MA commented that the applause from our live Booktopia author talks is too loud. Honestly, we try to modulate the volume differences, but our equipment at those events is less than professional and it’s very difficult. Still, we’ll work on it for next time, and try a few things to see if we can even out the volume.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:52)

Unbroken Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, narrated by Edward Hermann 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

 

Whitewashing literature (10:45)

There’s been quite a bit of controversy about BookCon this week, especially since two weeks ago we talked up BookCon and encouraged you to go. The recent controversy came in two parts: first, the fact that one of the first announced Young Adult panels consisted solely of white men. Then, as the rest of the schedule was released, it became obvious that every author but one was Caucasian, and the one that wasn’t Caucasian was a cat. This resulted in a lot of concern and discussion about diversity in the publishing industry.

A recent article in Entertainment Weekly, “Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White,” addresses the topic in terms of the diversity in children’s book publishing.

We bring this up because we think it’s important to discuss, even though we don’t have any answers, and we know that it’s not always easy to program a diverse event. However, in the case of BookCon, which is aiming to be a leading industry event, has major publisher support, and is located in New York City, there should be no excuses. Let’s hope the conversation about diversity continues, inside the industry and among readers. As for us, the books we talk about and the events we program, we’ll try to do better, too.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:12)

 

Wives of Los Alamos   Congratulations, by the Way

 

Oh, how I love The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit! It’s written in a very interesting manner — the voice is first person plural (“We…”). The story of the women who were displaced to a top secret location in the desert while their husbands worked on the Manhattan Project is intriguing, and Nesbit’s style makes evident that each woman had her own story while sharing the universal experience that all of these women lived.

Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, by George Saunders, is based on a graduation speech that Saunders gave. It’s a short, inspiring book, slightly expanded from the speech, that Michael knows that he will regularly re-read.  While it’s ostensibly aimed at an audience of new graduates, it’s really a book that everyone should read.

Apr 22

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Reading by mood. Connecting with authors. 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go.

In the Mood… for Reading

Three Hares Publishing in the UK has started publishing books by mood, using what they’re calling a “moodbar,” indicating what sort of state of mind you can expect from a book. It’s a cool idea, and there are several books about reading this way, including The Novel Cure, and 1001 Books for Every Mood.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:46)

World War Z: The Complete Edition, Max Brooks World War Z: The Complete Edition by Max Brooks, narrated by a full, all-star cast, 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

Connecting Beyond the Page (08:19)

Just back from Booktopia, we realize the importance of authors and author events, especially those that feature the author discussing his or her book, rather than just reading. That sort of author experience allows readers to connect with books through the writer.

Every author at Booktopia did a wonderful job of sharing info about their book, whetting appetites for those who hadn’t read the book yet, and even causing those who had read to want to re-read. As always, we recorded the Celebration of Authors, so you’ll get to hear the authors speak.

In the meantime, here’s your assignment for 2014: try to attend an author event, even if it means driving out of your way to do so. We’d love to hear about your event experiences, especially if you haven’t been to one before.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (22:01)

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10% Happier by Dan Harris is the funny, accessible story of his journey to find balance in his life after an on-air panic attack while reading the news on Good Morning America. It’s a skeptic’s guide to meditation, that I’m finding incredibly real and honest.

Ann recommends The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go, one of our Booktopia Boulder authors. It’s the story that moves between World War I, early attempts at summiting Everest, and today, where a man will inherit a fortune if he can prove his connection a WWI soldier who died on Everest.

Apr 15

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BookCon in NY. Negative reviews for prize-winning books. Books! by Murray McCain, and Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead.

A Book Trade Show for Everyone

Ellen asked about book trade shows and if they are ever open to “regular” readers. BookCon is a new event that has grown out of Book Expo America, the largest book trade show in the U.S. It’s open to everyone and ticket prices are very reasonable. There will be authors signing, publishers exhibiting, along with panels about books.

As far as we know, this is the only trade show that now has a consumer component. Of course there are many book festivals around the country, including in LA, DC, and Boston. The Newburyport (MA) Literary Festival is coming up very soon!

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:18)

Flash Boys, Michael LewisFlash Boys by Michael Lewis, narrated by Dylan Baker, 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

Poor Donna Tartt (15:12)

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which is wonderful news, but might actually lead to the book receiving more negative reviews from readers. A recent academic paper called The Paradox of Publicity used reviews from Goodreads to analyze 64 books that either won or were shortlisted for major prizes. They also looked at when books were added to TBR piles, which indicates whether a book was read because of a prize, or not. Whether it’s because of the “snob factor,” or a perceived backlash, the authors of the paper can point to a marked decrease in review ratings.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (31:11)

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While browsing for some books for my kids, I came upon Books! by Murray McCain, with art by John Alcorn. Originally published in 1962 and recently re-released, this is a vibrant and exuberant look at what books are, what they do, and how great they can be.

Ann loved, loved, loved Maggie Shipstead’s new book Astonish Me, even more than she loved Maggie’s first book Seating Arrangements. It’s set in the ballet world, but even if you are not interested in ballet, do not miss this wonderful novel.

Apr 08

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This week, we are pleased to present the final three author talks from Booktopia Petoskey:

lighthouse   supremes   funeral

 

Apr 01

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Ann is in mourning. Studying poetry for National Poetry Month. Plus, new memoirs from Gail Caldwell and Kevin Brockmeier.

Ann is in Mourning

Ann is devastated by the loss of the Readmill e-book app. Though she still prefers paper books, when she did read electronically she much preferred using Readmill. She especially loved that books synced across all devices no matter where you bought the e-books. She also loved the social and statistic features, many of which are available on other apps, but none seem to have all of the features in one app. 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:04)

Bear: A Novel, Claire CameronThe Bear by Claire Cameron, narrated by Cassandra Morris, 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

A Free Ivy League Education in Poetry (14:28)

April is National Poetry Month, and every year, Ann and I try to cultivate our appreciation of poetry. We often fail, but there are a couple ways you can try to increase your knowledge, one you can do now, and one you do this fall. Starting September 6, Coursera will once again be offering its Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, or ModPo, online course.

If you don’t want to wait until the fall, you can view videos of all of the lectures from a a Yale Modern Poetry Course via Open Yale Courses. There are  25 lectures and a final exam. Ivy League courses without the Ivy League cost!

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (24:37)

New Life No Instructions      A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip

Gail Caldwell’s New Life, No Instructions is a wonderful look at period of Gail’s life that saw several changes including a new puppy, and an operation that eliminated her lifelong limp and her recent pain while walking.

Ann recommends (to all of you, but mostly to me) A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip, Kevin Brockmeier’s memoir of seventh grade. It’s a memoir that reads like a novel, and it’s for anyone who had those moments of adolescent awkwardness that often occurred in seventh grade.

Mar 25

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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 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 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.

Mar 18

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Updates on previous topics. Geek Love turns 25. Recommendations for Apple Tree Yard and A Life in Books.

A Few Updates on Previous Topics

Last week, we gave Joe from Buffalo a few ideas of authors to read, considering he loves John Grisham and Dan Brown. BOTNS’ librarian friend Carol rightly pointed out that we forgot to mention Steve Berry, whose first book, The Amber Room, is one that Ann loved.

Following up on the discussion Melissa and I had about books that don’t work so well in e-form, Ann recently found out about Wink Books, a site dedicated to “Remarkable Books that Belong on Paper.” There’s a new one every weekday.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:28)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne   20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, narrated by James Frain, 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

Celebrating a Dark Modern Classic (07:50)Geek Love

It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty-five years since Geek Love by Katherine Dunn was published. It’s a book that took the publishing and bookselling world by storm. Its darkness was something that hadn’t really been seen in books before then. A recent article on Wired.com charts the novel’s history and it’s lasting effect on pop culture, including the works of Karen Russell who said of picking up the book for the first time, “I felt electrocuted when I read that first page. I stood there in the bookstore and my jaw came unhinged.”

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (15:29)

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Ann recommends Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, the story of a scientist named Louise Carmichael, who makes a very bad decision that could doom her legal trial. This psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Tana French.

The main character of Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books is Bleu Mobley, an incarcerated author who is finally telling his life story, complete with the covers, descriptions, and excerpts of all 101 of his books. I’m only a third of the way through this book and I’ve already encountered several of Mobley’s books that I wish were real, so that I could read them.

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