Apr 26

Litsy, Book Awards,  plus, don’t you forget about 84, Charing Cross Road and Nobody’s Fool.

Ann and I are both on Litsy, a new photo-focused book-based social media app (usernames AnnKingman and mkindness). The one problem we’re encountering is posting about a book that we’re reading electronically in manuscript form; they’re not very photogenic!
So, check out Litsy and let us know what you think!

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:17)

Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha HuntMr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt, narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Emily Woo Zeller, 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 100,000 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 New Batch of Book Awards (07:42)

Unlike movie awards, awards for books seem to be given out throughout the year. Recently announced were the Indies Choice Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards for 2016, both of which were voted on by Independent Booksellers around the US. The full list of winners and honor books can be found here. Below are the winners we mentioned on the podcast.

Congratulations to all the winners and the runners-up!

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (18:36)

 

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Within the past few weeks, posts from two different book lovers wrote statuses that showed in my Facebook feed. They had each read, for the first time, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. It’s something that all book lovers should read, and a book I only read myself a few years ago.

Though it’s an older book, Ann only recently read Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo. On paper, Donald “Sully” Sullivan doesn’t seem like a character you’d fall in love with. He’s a drinking, gambling, womanizer who lives in a dying town in upstate New York. But Ann says he’s a character that you’ll long remember.

Apr 19

This week, we bring you three authors from Booktopia Petoskey (September 2015), each of whom gives a short talk about their work (or other things).

These are always very entertaining, so please do listen and check out these wonderful authors’ books. Many thanks to our authors and to the fabulous McLean & Eakin Bookstore for hosting us.

 

Lauren Fox   

 

   

   Official author photo of Jim Ottaviani, who says, “More serious author photos than this self-portrait are available, as are print-ready images from any of our books — please contact us for more information. But I’m fond of this one, and hope you’d at least consider using it, since it’s the closest I’ll ever get to the moon.”

 

   

 

 

Apr 12

“April Showered” with listener questions. Plus, we recommend Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh, and Geek Parenting by Stephen H. Segal and Valya Dudycz Lupescu.

Thanks to all of you who commented on episode 375 with suggestions for adult books that can be ready by a precocious 9-year-old. And, in a follow-up to episode 376, listener Mitzi shared info on a local library’s seed library.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (04:38) 


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan StevensonJust Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson, 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 60,000 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

 

Showered with Questions (08:12)

Marchelle A.D. asked about book trailers, and why they exist. Some people think they’re pretty awful, but there are a few that we think are funny (B.J. Novak/Mindy Kaling, Gary Shteyngart) and some are viral and don’t even mention the book.

Jessie from Montana asked if the reading we do for work happens during work hours or during evenings and weekends. We definitely do our work reading in off hours, and that’s the case for most of the publishing and bookstore industry.

MaryAnne from Oceanside CA asked if either Ann or I write or wanted to be a published author. Ann did want to be an author, until she started working in publishing, and realized how hard it would be! As for me, other than an extremely derivative short science fiction story in grade school, I’ve never really enjoyed writing. I much prefer to read!

Elenor H heard about James Patterson’s generosity toward bookstores, booksellers, and libraries, and wonders if author philanthropy common. Ann found a listing from 2012 of top-earning authors and where they donated funds.

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (30:06)

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Ann recommends Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh, calling it one of the strangest and most intriguing books she’s read in a long time. The main character, Eileen, is an unlikable, terrible person, and she seems to enjoy telling us exactly how awful she is. Yet Ann found the writing compelling and irresistible.

I recommend Geek Parenting by Stephen H. Segal and Valya Dudycz Lupescu, a collection of parental advice brought to life via exceedingly memorable examples from pop culture:

  • “Inheriting dad’s pointed ears does mean a kid is just like dad. That is illogical.”
  • “If they’re creepy and they’re kooky, then you’re the one who’s lucky.”
  • “We should savor life’s sweetness, with or without a golden ticket.”
  • “If you always harp on what they’re doing wrong, you’re teaching them to focus on the dark side.”
Apr 05

We’re thinking about summer, trying not to be book snobs, and raving about The Caped Crusade and Lab Girl.

 

It’s time to start thinking about summer (even though there is snow out my window right now). Specifically, we’d like you to help us create the categories that will appear in this year’s Books on the Nightstand Bingo cards, which will go live sometime around Memorial Day (end of May). You may add your suggestions to the Google form. Before you add your categories, please do check our existing categories to see if you idea has been taken. This will help us not have to filter through a lot of duplicates. Thank you for your help.

 

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:39)

The Nest The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney read by Mia Barron 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 60,000 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

When a friend discovers the joy of reading, but you don’t like her taste (08:16)

We received this email from a listener:

A friend–not a close one, but a long-term one–has JUST discovered books (at 63!). She read a whole series and got so excited about how HILARIOUS they are that she mailed all three books in the series to me and is now dying to have me read them AND REPORT!

I’m thrilled she’s reading–truly I am–but when the books arrived and I began dipping into them, I immediately recognized they are NOT MY CUP O’ TEA!… I am skimming so I can talk about them with her–clearly what she desires–but I can hardly bear the thought of saying anything to her about them.

I may be (am) a book snob, but I surely do not want to be discovered as such, and I sure don’t want to rain on her new reading hobby. What shall I do? What would YOU do??

Our listener also posted this question on Goodreads and had a number of good suggestions, including helping the new reader to find a book club with similar tastes, and telling the friend that you’ve been reading so long that you like more “experimental” fiction. Michael and I firmly believe that the main thing is to not make the new reader feel judged, but we’re not exactly sure how best to do that. I’m in favor of asking the new reader what she liked about the book series, and then finding similar books to recommend. Michael worries that the new reader will infer that you want to read them together. It’s a tricky spot, but we love that our listener wants to encourage her friend to keep reading.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (20:30)

 

Caped Crusade   Lab Girl

Michael recommends The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon. It’s a cultural and sociological history of Batman, organized by “eras” of Batman.

I can’t wait for you read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, a book that is part memoir, part love letter to science and plants. You’ll never look at a tree the same way again.

Mar 29

Three mini topics. Plus, don’t you forget about Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon.

In addition to candy, my kids got books for Easter. Later that day, Friends came over and we gave their daughter a late birthday gift: a signed copy of Demon Dentist by David Walliams. At one point during the sugar-fueled antics of the day, I looked into the living room to see my son and their daughter reading quietly. It was wonderful!

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:44)

Turner House, Angela FlournoyThe Turner House by Angela Flournoy, narrated by Adenrele Ojo, 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 60,000 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

 

Ten Books, a Whale, and a Library Farm (11:44)

A few different mini topics this week:

 

Don’t You Forget About Me (27:07)

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Ann recommends an older book that’s new to her: Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, the story of a terrorist attack on a gala birthday party in an unnamed South American country. Ann calls it brilliant and wonders why no one forced her to read it earlier!

Since Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon was first published in 2007, the concept of locavorism has exploded into the mainstream consciousness. Though many people are unlikely to go to the lengths of these authors (eating only food from a 100 mile radius of their home for a full year), readers today will get much information (and entertainment) from this book.

Mar 22

A new podcast; an audiobook narrated by the creator of Hamilton, and questions from the mailbag.

 

This week Michael tells us about a new podcast, This is the Author, published by the audiobooks division of Penguin Random House. It features short conversations with authors who are in the studio narrating their audiobooks. During the course of that discussion, we also talk about In Other Words, the new book by Jhumpa Lahiri which she narrates in both English and Italian.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:43)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz and read by Lin-Manuel Miranda 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 60,000 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

More from the virtual mailbag (11:14)

This week we answer (or try to answer) several listener questions:

Jen from Boston asks:

“My kids and I often listen to the barefoot books podcasts which are essentially folk and fairy tales. Are there any “adult” version of this? Like a podcast that is a short stories being read out loud? I am looking for like 10-15 minute story rather than an entire audiobook. Thanks so much!”

Some ideas for Jen:

Mary from Byfield writes:

I am a retired librarian from a private school in MA. One of my former students contacted me recently and asked for book recommendation for her advanced 9 yr old reader(female).This child wants to read adult books. I listen to your Podcasts and wonder if you have ever considered doing a show on adult books for young readers. Or if you and Michael have any personal recommendations for this query. Thanks for any help…a loyal listener and a die hard reader. Ann…thought you’d like to know the next book to be read on my nightstand is A Little Life…

We were a little stumped on this one, so we’re looking to our listeners for ideas. A few thoughts we had:

  • Michael immediately thought of Uprooted by Namoi Novik
  • I think this is a great time to introduce classics, because kids of this age aren’t yet intimidated by classics. In our house, we started with reading aloud Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, and then my daughter moved on to books that interested her, like Les Miserables, after she had seen the movie.
  • Have your friend take her daughter into a library or bookstore and let the experts work with the child to figure out what she might like.

 

spancho asks:

Is there a single resource for keeping abreast of author lectures and signings? I’d like to hear Hanya Yanagihara but she doesn’t seem to have a website… I’m so pleased with the 2016 TOB authors and I’d like to hear from as many of them as possible!

We don’t know of one, though that’s a great idea! We recommend that you go to Library Thing and click the “Local” tag (free membership required). That should give you a list of author events near you. Other options are to subscribe to newsletters from bookstores and libraries near you, and to check out author festivals. You may have luck with a particular author by looking at the publisher’s website to see if a tour is listed.

Pat8 inquires:

I’m trying to remember where I heard recommendations for novels that revolve around book sellers/bookstores. Len at The Kindle Chronicles thought he’d heard something like this several years ago as well. I’ve asked over on the Goodreads group as well. Do you remember a list of recommendations like this from a podcast of yours?

In BOTNS #138, we talked about Books About Books, including The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai, which is about a children’s librarian, and 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

Goodreads has a list of Books about Bookstores, including Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.

Other titles discussed:

Two books we can’t for you to read (31:06)

 

   

Michael recommends The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, which is a wonderful collection of short stories. The title story is about a young man and his mother who makes origami animals. Please do check out this collection; Ken Liu is a brilliant writer who transcends genre.

I fell in love with The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this past year but will be published in the US on March 29th. It’s the story of 3 young men who immigrate illegally from India to England, and what they go through in order to make a better life for themselves and their families.

 

Mar 15

Defining literary and commercial fiction. We recommend Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg and All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage.

 

I’ve just gotten over a reading slump. For a few weeks, I couldn’t get into any books or audios. All I wanted to do was watch TV (I binged the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil. Dark and violent, but oh so good!). I eventually broke the slump by continuing to try things, and I didn’t feel bad about not reading.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (03:06)


Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel GilbertStumbling on Happiness
by Daniel Gilbert, 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 60,000 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

 

Commercial vs. Literary Fiction (07:34)

We tackle the difficult task of trying to define literary fiction and commercial fiction. Before getting into those subjects, we define genre fiction which is the term used to describe romance, mystery, and science fiction & fantasy.
Throughout our discussion we mention several times that the defining characteristics of these fiction types are generalizations and they can easily apply to both fiction categories. Also, none of these properties are meant to imply that one of these categories is better than the other.

Commercial Fiction
  • A heavy reliance on plot
  • Less interior character development
  • Page-turner
Literary Fiction
  • Much of the action comes from internal character development (“Nothing happens.”)
  • More ups and downs from emotions than events
  • More complex writing needed to imply emotional states

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (27:32)

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Smarter Faster Better is the newest book by Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, which I loved. Diving into the research surrounding productivity, Duhigg presents things that were discovered by telling the stories of people and teams encountering problems and solving them. The book’s appendix shows how to put the research and finding to work for you.

Ann recommends All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, which she says is both literary and commercial (!). A farm in upstate New York is the setting for a murder in the present, and an apparent suicide in the past. How are these events connected and what led to murder?

Mar 08

Authors Steve Himmer and Mary Doria Russell, speaking at Booktopia Vermont 2015.

Fram   Epitaph

Michael and I are at Sales Conference this week, learning about books that Penguin Random House will publish in the fall of 2016. In place of our usual episode, we’re thrilled to share with you two author talks from Booktopia Vermont in May, 2015. Please do listen to these very entertaining talks. Fram and Epitaph are two books we can’t wait for you to read.

We’ll be back next week with a regular episode.

Mar 01

Diverse books for a diverse reading population. We recommend What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell, and Evicted by Matthew Desmond.

 

I recently discovered The Setup Wizard, a Tumblr-based fan fiction about a Muggle who is the first ever IT person at Hogwarts. It’s hilarious, and you should definitely read it from the very beginning! And, coming on July 30, you’ll be able to read, in book form, the forthcoming play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:07)

Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel, Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, 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 60,000 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

 

We Need Diverse Books (08:31)

After the lack of diversity in this past weekend’s Academy Awards, this seemed like a good time to examine publishing’s similar problem. In 2014, author Ellen Oh and 21 other children’s book authors and industry professionals began using the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks in response to an all-white, all-male panel of children’s book authors at a major book convention. The social media campaign has gone worldwide and has grown into the We Need Diverse Books movement that’s bringing this issue to the attention of publishers and readers.

Lee & Low Books, the largest multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States, recently released the results of a survey they conducted, which shows that the lack of diversity in books and authors published might be exacerbated by the lack of diversity among publishing employees and book reviewers.

Thankfully, the discussion of these issues is leading to some small changes, such as more diverse participants on author panels, and even the creation of Salaam Reads, a new Simon & Schuster imprint that will publish children’s books featuring Muslim characters and stories.

Ann mentioned an article about the difficulty of getting an agent in Hollywood if you’re a person of color, and wondered if that’s an issue with literary agents as well.

Then, there’s the story of Marley Dias, an 11-year-old girl from New Jersey who was sick of reading books about “white boys and dogs.” Where were the books starring black girls like her? She set out to collect 1,000 books with black girls as the main characters. She quickly blew past that goal, thanks to the help of Twitter, and others. Her quest is serving to educate people, including teachers and librarians. Way to go Marley!

 

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (29:16)

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Ann recommends What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell, which is getting much critical praise lately. The unnamed main character, an American teacher, meets Mitko in a Bulgarain public bathroom and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again in this gorgeous, uncomfortable novel that Ann said felt like a literary masterpiece from the first page.

In the vein of Just Mercy, Ghettoside, and Between the World and Me, I recommend Evicted by Matthew Desmond. A difficult, but vital look at the eviction process and how, once caught in it, it can be so hard to escape. This is one the most important books you’ll read this year.

Feb 23

Hi all, Ann here.

Episode 371 was accidentally published with the incorrect audio file (episode 317 — you can see how it happened).

I’ve fixed the file so that if you received it via email or find it through the website, you’ll have the correct file. But if you’ve already updated your iTunes/podcatcher file, you may have received the wrong file. So this is a fix. The correct file is attached to this post, and here is a link to the show notes in the original episode.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

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