Jun 10

Ann goes to BookCon, Ian McEwan archives in Austin, TX, Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, and Archie meets zombies.

 

Michael bald

 

Michael achieved his goal of $1500 and has now shaved his head to raise money for cancer. Thank you to all Books on the Nightstand listeners who supported him!

 Ann goes to BookCon

 

In other news, I report in this episode on my trip to BookCon, which was held in New York City on Saturday, May 31st. It was a day filled with author panels, autographings, and 10,000 book fans — many, many of whom were teenage girls delighted to see their favorite authors like John Green and Veronica Roth. As I said on the podcast, this was a place where it was cool to be a Book Nerd. And though I limited myself to bringing home only 3 Advanced Reading Copies from BookCon, I was so busy that I ended up with only two: Rainey Royal by Dylan Landis, and Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. That led Michael to recommend The Borden Tragedy, a graphic novel by Rick Geary.

Did you attend BookCon? We’d love it if you would call our voicemail line and share your thoughts about it (209-867-7323).

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (15:25)

Eleanor and Park Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. It’s a Young Adult novel that I really loved.

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

 

Archiving Authors (18:50)

 

Inspired by the story that the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin purchased Ian McEwan’s archives for $2 million, Michael and I discuss the appeal of access to an author’s papers, letters, and early drafts of beloved books. In the course of the conversation, we talk about the  extensive literary archives at the Harry Ransom Center and now I want to take a road trip to Austin.

Other books mentioned in this segment:

Building the Monkey House: At Kurt Vonnegut’s Writing Table by Kurt Vonnegut and Gregory D. Sumner (ed).,

The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (27:56)

 

Afterlife with Archie  The Vacationers

 

This week Michael recommends a graphic novel that he believes will have appeal beyond graphic novel fans: Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Francesco Francavilla. In this book, Archie, Jughead and the rest of the Riverdale crew encounter zombies. Definitely not for children, it’s dark and creepy and a lot of fun.

I had a “literary vaction” with Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, a wonderful novel of a family and assorted others who spend two weeks vacationing together on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Straub’s characters quickly came to feel like my own family and friends, to the point where I missed them when I finished the novel. I can’t recommend this more highly to take with you on your own vacation.

Jun 03

A few follow-ups. What makes a classic a classic? And we recommend Marbles by Ellen Forney and My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. 

A Few Follow-ups

We’ve had a wonderful response to BOTNS Bingo. If you haven’t printed your card out yet, check out our original post for instructions, and the link to get your own card.

Ann received a comment about her audiobook recommendation last week. It was a book that featured violence toward women and the commenter mentioned the unfortunate timing with the Santa Barbara shootings. It made us wonder about the difference between violence shown on TV and in the movies, and that portrayed in books. Ann found an interesting article about women who read violent crime fiction. It’s a thorny subject to be sure, but one we will try to be more cognizant of in the future.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (10:43)

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, narrated by Jayne Entwistle, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. Here’s a link to all of Alan Bradley’s books on Audiobooks.com.

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 Makes a Classic a Classic? (13:37)

Shiney, via Twitter, asked what makes a classic classic. There are obviously many different ways to define a classic. Many books that are in the public domain (copyright has expired) are classics, as are the books most often assigned in classes. Some books are a classic work of a certain genre, like 1984 is for dystopia. (Of course, 1984 is widely believed to have been inspired by Russian novel called We - so is that a classic too?) Because of the vast number of books published these days, is it harder for something to become a classic? In fifty years, it’s likely Harry Potter will be considered a classic, but can the same be said of Wonder, or The Fault in Our Stars? It seems that only time will tell.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (26:02)

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I recommend Marbles, by Ellen Forney. Subtitled “Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me” this graphic memoir is an honest, raw, and funny look the author/artist’s bipolar disorder diagnosis, her struggles with medication, and what that did to her artistic drive and abilities.

Ann recommends My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff, which chronicles the author’s time working for a literary agent, during which she clandestinely responded (as herself) to fans who had written J.D. Salinger. It’s a wonderful look at publishing in the 90’s.

May 27

 Spoiler poll results; BOTNS Summer Reading Bingo, Americanah, and Bird Box.

 

 Spoiler: This book has a twist!

 

First, special thanks to Len Edgerly for inviting Michael and me to be guests on episode 303 of The Kindle Chronicles podcast. Len interviewed us about Books on the Nightstand and Booktopia, and the interview was recorded on the final day of Booktopia Boulder.

Next, drumroll please: The results of our poll are in! 57.68% of you think that knowing about a big plot twist is the equivalent of a spoiler. This is an unscientific poll, and perhaps I swayed the voting by stating my beliefs. In any event, we will be even more vigilant about not “overhyping” a plot twist. But as you’ll hear, this makes our jobs more difficult, as we struggle to find the balance. Thanks to all who voted!

spoilerchart

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (08:58):

Field of Prey, John Sandford   Field of Prey by John Sandford, narrated by Richard Ferrone, 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

 

Beach Blanket Book Bingo (13:36):

BOTNS_Bingo__Random__Memorial Day marks the official kickoff to summer here in the US, and got us thinking about summer reading. But we have talked about summer reading every summer. So we decided to try something different. Join us in playing BOTNS Book Bingo! Special thanks to Retreat by Random House for the inspiration!

Just visit the link below and you’ll see a BOTNS bingo card. HIT REFRESH TO GET A NEW, RANDOM CARD. You will also see a link to print the card.

Use this BOTNS Bingo Card in any way you like to enhance your summer reading. You can choose to go after a particular Bingo row and pick the books that fit; you can read as normal and check off books as you read; or write each of your words on a slip of paper and draw randomly, reading until you get Bingo!

My idea for “Free Square” is to watch a movie or television show based on a book I’ve read. Feel free to adopt that strategy.

Michael and I are committed to each getting a BINGO before Labor Day. We’ve started a Goodreads thread to discuss how YOU are going to play BOTNS Bingo.

Play BOTNS Summer Reading Bingo

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (24:31):

 

Americanah   Bird Box

Ann’s pick for this week is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a beautifully-written novel that explores racism in all its forms. It’s an important book, but also a thoroughly entertaining and literary novel.

Michael talks about Bird Box by Josh Malerman, a novel of psychological horror in which the “monsters” are never seen. Michael describes it as a visual plague — if you see the creatures, you will die by your own hand.

 

May 20

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

 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

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

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

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

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

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

lighthouse   supremes   funeral

 

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