Mar 04

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Sales conference recap. E-books vs. e-books. Recommendations for Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, and FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by Simon Olive and Robbi Rodriguez.

Many thanks to BOTNS friend Melissa Klug for filling in while Ann is sick with the head cold from hell.
The sound quality of this episode is not up to our usual standards because it was recorded over the phone. There are a few places where the sound drops out for a moment, and I seem to have a slight echo throughout the podcast, but I hope it won’t interfere with your enjoyment of the episode!

Sales Conference Recap

Ann and I are both just back from sales conference, and it was a particularly wonderful week, where we heard about books coming out September – February. We also got to hear Carl Hiaasen, Jodi Picoult (her new book, Leaving Time, is wonderful), Nicholas Kristof, and Sheryl WuDunn speak. There are so many wonderful books coming this Fall/Winter, I couldn’t possibly mention them all, and I especially didn’t want to tease to books that aren’t coming out for nearly a year. So, a few books I’m particularly looking forward to are:

  • Neil Patrick Harris’ Autobiography (watch for a big title and cover announcement by mid-May)
  • Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix, a haunted house story set in an IKEA-like megastore.
  • The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskins, a stunning debut mystery set in Minnesota.
  • Make It Ahead, a new Barefoot Contessa cookbook from Ina Garten

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:52)

Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow Washington by Ron Chernow, read by Scott Brick, is Melissa’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

e-books vs. E-books (10:42)S interior

In this case, the “E”s refer to electronic books, and what we’re calling enhanced physical books. There are many ways to consume a book these days: physical, electronic, and audio, and more and more publishers are using each form to its fullest extent. S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is a physical book with a conversation between two people written in the margins, along with physical maps, notes, and letters that have been inserted between the pages for the reader to discover. Night Film by Marisha Pessl includes many images that add much to the spooky feeling of the book. It seems that both of these would lose something in the translation to audiobook. However, audiobooks can add so many layers of their own, with voices, multiple narrators, and/or music as was done with the audio of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. Riverhead Books created a very special, limited, and expensive edition of Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, with a three-dimensional slipcase. This video shows you how it was made:

And finally, on the lower end of the price spectrum are special editions of books done simply with nicer cover stock, deckle edges, french flaps, and other distinctive physical elements. Melissa mentions the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (20:46)

7199282     18373305

Melissa recommends Provenance:How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. It’s a book that she’s had on the shelf for some time. She found it completely fascinating and was sucked in, despite the fact that she rarely reads non-fiction, and has no particular interest in the art world.

In a shocking move, I recommend a graphic novel: FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez. Imagine a world where physics doesn’t always follow the rules. Wormholes appear at random. Time moves more slowly in some places. A localized gravity failure leads to the creation of a bubble universe. It’s a fun, complex, political graphic novel, perfect for fans of the TV show Fringe.

Feb 25

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This week, we’re pleased to bring you the Booktopia Petoskey talks from Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife, Jamie Ford, author of Songs of Willow Frost, and Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc.

aviator     willow     doc

 

Feb 18

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The case of the disappearing paperbacks. Books you may be watching soon. Recommendations for Wake by Anna Hope, and Wondrous Beauty by Carol Berkin.

Disappearing Paperbacks?

Tiffani from California wondered if books are ever released in paperback, then the paperback is pulled from sale, and only the hardcover remains in print. We discuss a couple of different scenarios where it may seem that a book was out in paperback, but then is not, but in every case we think there’s a good explanation. As far as we know, publishers don’t ever pull an existing paperback edition and revert to hardcover only in print.

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:12)

  Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan, read by the author, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. Kelly is one of our Booktopia Vermont authors.

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 You May Be Watching Soon (11:55)

So many books are getting the movie or telelvision treatment in 2014. We give you a quick rundown of many of them in this episode. The titles below link to Goodreads. The movie or TV indication links to more info about the production.

What book-based movies or TV shows are you most looking forward to?

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (28:23)

17829483     18007502

Wake by Anna Hope, is a debut novel that simply blew me away. It’s the story of three women whose lives, in London two years after the end of World War I, intersect in unexpected ways. I found the writing to be beautiful and the story incredibly well-constructed.

Ann has been on a little bit of a history-reading phase lately, and raves about Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin. It’s the story of the belle of nineteenth-century Baltimore, who married Napoleon’s younger, slacker brother. Despite Napoleon’s best attempts, Betsy was a strong-willed woman who would not be cast aside easily.

Feb 11

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Do audiobooks count as reading (redux), Literary elitism and self-congratulations, Dept. of Speculation and The Martian.

 

Levels of Engagement

Kristy in St. Louis disagrees with our opinions that listening to an audiobook counts as reading. She wants to know how listening is any different from watching a movie based on a book. Michael and I talk about our views. What do you think?

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (06:00)

One More Thing  One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak, read by Novak and a cast of narrators including Emma Thompson, Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Katy Perry, and a bunch of other people, 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 Psychology of Literary Opinion (09:09):

 

The discussion that Michael and I had when recording this episode is impossibly to summarize. We started with a discussion about two articles we read, and then it evolved into a philosophical discussion on the psychology behind recommending books, and a host of other rather disjointed thoughts. If you listen (and please do), we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Our topic was sparked by an article in Salon written by Laura Miller titled “Is the Literary World Elitist?“. It got us thinking. Miller references a piece by author Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries). Catton’s piece was a reaction to a reader’s complaint that a Paris Review article used an unfamiliar word (crepuscular) and was therefore “elitist.”

Catton asks: ” If a reader doesn’t understand a poem, who is at fault — the poem, the poet or the reader?”

Miller’s article points out that the person who complained about the unfamiliar word was not angry that the article was elitist, but was rather frustrated because it made the reader feel ignorant. Miller’s take on “literary insecurity” also includes those who put down popular fiction, even though they haven’t read it.

We also wonder (aloud) why people review books on sites like Goodreads. Is it to help others, or for our own validation?

I hope our discussion makes sense. Honestly, it was very fun to talk about these topics and I enjoyed it while we were recording.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (24:11):

 

Dept. of Speculation   The Martian

 

Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation is a read-in-one-sitting powerhouse of a novel, full of emotion and gorgeousness. It’s a look at a woman who is suffering a crisis in her marriage, written in the form of letters that read like journal entries. This isn’t an easy book to describe, but it’s a novel that works on many different levels and is quite unique in style.

Michael has been dying to talk about The Martian and today’s his chance. Andy Weir has written a book that Michael describes as “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” or “Apollo 13 meets Castaway,” and that “the pages turn themselves.” Full of scientific detail, it’s the story of a man who is left for dead on Mars, waiting for the next mission which is not scheduled for four more years.  It’s set slightly in the future, but will appeal even to readers who don’t read science fiction.

Feb 04

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Retiring a few books. Finding more time to read. And recommendations for The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon and One More Thing by B. J. Novak.

We’re Retiring… a few things

It’s time to say goodbye to the three Books on the Nightstand books we published through Northshire Bookstore’s publishing program. But, you’ve got one more chance to order.

Because Northshire now outsources their printing, a minimum of 25 copies is needed to keep prices reasonable. Between now and March 15th, head on over to the Books on the Nightstand author page at Northshire.com, for your last chance to order Two Books I Can’t Wait for You to Read, Living in Booktopia, and Two Books I Can’t Wait for You to Read, Volume 2. Any book that has orders of at least 25 copies by March 15 will be printed, and ready for pick-up or shipping on Booktopia weekend, April 11-13. Money will be refunded to anyone who orders a book that does not get reprinted. I know of a few folks who gave some of these books as gifts last holiday season. Order now if you’d like to do the same!

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (05:19)

time machThe Time Machine by H. G. Wells, narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, 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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Stealing Minutes to Read (08:12)

In “14 Books You Could Read in the Time it Takes to Watch the Super Bowl” NPR writer Kristin Miller discussed… well, the title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Ann took it a step further, and, using Forbes magazine’s statistics of an average reading speed of 300 words/minute, and an average 250 words/page, figured the following:

  • You can read 702 pages instead of watching a 13-hour season of a TV show
  • You can read 216 pages instead of going to the movies (travel, and refreshment purchasing time included)
  • If you’re the passenger on a 24-hour drive (factoring in sleeping and distractions from bickering kids in the back seat) you can read 1296 pages
  • If you take the day off from work you should be able to read a 432 page book.

This put me in mind of the blog post Ann wrote six years ago (!) called “10 Ways to Find More Time for Reading.” Those ten reasons are all still valid today so check that out as well.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (18:56)

winterpeople     one more thing

I recommend The Winter People by Booktopia author Jennifer McMahon. It’s a creepy tale set in a small town in Vermont, where some people are unable to say goodbye to their loved ones who have died. You’ll never look at a snow-shrouded forest the same way.

Ann raves about One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak. You may know Novak best from his role as Ryan on the US version of The Office, but he also studied creative writing at Harvard, and is a real writer whose stories are funny and moving. This collection is earning him critical acclaim. You can read, and listen to, several of the stories via this NPR page.

Jan 28

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A listener asks if we find ourselves recommending our favorite books over and over. We talk about old things. And we tell you about an amazing memoir and a noirish novel of the Jazz Age that is based on a true story.

Recycling recommendations:

New listener Emma asks: “Do you have a section of your bookshelf that you find yourself recommending again and again? I think my friends must be sick of hearing me talk about Still Alice (by Lisa Genova), Unbearable Lightness (the Portia de Rossi autobiography), The World According to Garp (John Irving), We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lionel Shriver), and Haruki Murakami’s entire works. I have my staples I keep passing around, but I’m worried that the more I talk about them, the less-inclined others are to give them a go. How do you go about recommending books without putting people off with your enthusiasm? Which are the books you’re constantly lending out?”

We love this topic! Michael finds himself recommending:

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Ann’s usual recommendations:

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

We’d love to know: what are the books that you recommend over and over? Let us know in the show comments. Thanks!

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:16)

Don't Breathe a Word Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon, narrated by the Lily Rains, is my pick for this week’s Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week. We’re excited that Jennifer will be joining us at Booktopia Vermont for her new novel, The Winter People.

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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

A conversation about old things (09:53):

Michael recently re-read Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock, a book that was first published in the 1990s and slated to be a film. Ann received a gift membership to the Boston Athenaeum, a wonderful private subscription library. What do these two things have in common? We don’t really know, but it inspired a conversation about the preservation of old things and traditions. You can listen by clicking the link included in this blog post, or, (if you receive this post by email) downloading the file included in the email. Don’t forget that you can listen to every episode of Books on the Nightstand on your computer or smartphone by subscribing through iTunes, Stitcher, Instacast, or any other podcast listening program.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (22:52):

 

The answer to the riddle is me    The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

Michael recommends The Answer to the Riddle is Me, a memoir by David Stuart MacLean. When the author was on a fellowship in India, he woke up one day standing in the middle of a train platform with no idea where he was or who he was.

This week I chose The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon, a novel based on the 1930s disappearance of a New York City judge. Set in the jazz age and told from the perspective of three women, it’s delicious and mysterious.

Jan 21

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 The 2014 Tournament of Books contenders have been announced! Disliking a book that everyone else loves. Recommendations for Kids These Days and The Scar Boys.

The Rooster is Back!ToB-2013

Every year it seems that we talk about the Tournament of Books sometime late in March just as it’s ending. Not this year! The full list of titles has been announced, and we know that some of you are hoping to read along. We discussed several of the titles, so be sure the click the above link to see them all.

Who’s your favorite horse in this race?

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (07:21)

train dragon How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, narrated by the David Tennant, is Michael’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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

When You’re the Only One (09:41)

An email from Sarah asked if there were ever times when we disliked a book that everyone else loved, and have we ever been judged to be an uncaring person for not liking a book everyone else loved. To the first part of that question, yes, of course. We’ve always said that we would only talk about books we loved here on the podcast, but, for the first time we each admit to a book we didn’t like and didn’t finish. For Ann, it was Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, and for me, it was The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt.

Moving on the second part of Sarah’s question, Ann admits to not having liked The Bridges of Madison County, a book that swept the nation in the 90′s, and was loved by many for its romantic story. But she was never judged to be uncaring because of that (that she knows of). Sarah’s questioned stemmed from several people judging her for not liking the writing of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, even though she thought the book covered an important message. Honestly, judging someone’s character based on what books the like or dislike is just not right.

This brings to mind a recent announcement from the new editor of Buzzfeed Books, who said they would not be running negative reviews. It caused a bit of controversy. In our opinion, it all comes down to a simple question: are you running book reviews, or book recommendations? For us, it’s the later. Because honestly, when’s the last time you asked a librarian or bookseller to tell you about the books they hated?

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (19:56)

kids these days     scar boys

Over the winter break, Ann read Kids These Days by Drew Perry, a book she describes as a cross between Jonathan Tropper and Carl Hiaasen. It’s the story of Walter and Alice (who have a baby on the way), who are forced to relocate to Florida for a free place to live, and a new, shady, job for Walter.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, a coming of age story starring Harbinger “Harry” Jones. Set in the 80s, The Scar Boys follows Harry’s life from a bullying incident at age 8 that leaves his face badly scarred, and him addicted to painkillers, through his last year in high school when he and his band-mates embark on a hastily-thrown-together tour that tests their loyalties to each other.

Jan 14

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This week, a special episode answering all of your questions about audiobooks! Thanks to all of our listeners who submitted questions. I hope our answers make sense!

We tackle such tough questions as:

  • Do audiobooks “count” as actually having read the book? (Michael and I disagree on abridged audios, though).
  • How do you decide what you’re going to read and what you’re going to listen to?
  • What do we think of “performed” accents in audiobooks?
  • Is it possible to like a book better on audio than in print?
  • How do the number of listening hours relate to the number of pages in a book?
  • Can we play snippets of audiobooks on the podcast when we talk about our Audiobooks.com audiobook of the week? (Short answer: no, but we always link to a sample in the show notes for each podcast episode).
  • Who are the best fiction audiobook readers?
  • How are footnotes included in audiobooks?
  • How do you listen to audiobooks when other people are around?

Specific audiobooks that we mention in this episode:

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (35:24)

The Swerve The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt, read by Edoardo Ballerini,  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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Jan 07

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I was very honored to be able to interview Charles Duhigg on the publication day of The Power of Habit in paperback, out today, January 7.

habit

We discuss the genesis of the book, how to instill good habits in your children, the best habit for readers, “reward salience,” and the new afterword included in the paperback edition.

Thank you again to Mr. Duhigg for taking the time to speak with me!

 

full sea     keep

For our “Two Books” segment, Charles recommends On Such a Full Sea, by Chang-rae Lee, a novel set in a near-future America whose labor-class is Chinese people forcibly relocated from an environmentally ravaged China. He also recommends The Keep by Jennifer Egan (author of A Visit from the Goon Squad).

Lately, Charles has been reading feature length articles via Longreads.com. Two other sites that offer this kind of content  are Longform.org, and Byliner.com.

Audiobooks.com Audiobook of the Week (26:52)

habit auNot surprisingly, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, narrated by Mike Chamberlain is 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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

Dec 24

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Our reading plans and goals for 2014, and some of the gifts that we put under our trees this Christmas.

 

Our 2014 reading plans:

Michael is not making any reading resolutions for 2014.  Instead, he’s given himself permission to read whatever he wants, because he’s felt too restricted with reading plans and resolutions.

My plan for 2014 is less intensive than 2013′s Project Short Story: I am going to focus on literature in translation this year. My goal is to read 10 books of literary fiction that have been translated from another language. I’m not going to put further restrictions on it than that. My first book in this category will be Jose Saramago’s Blindness.

My other goal this year is to read classics aloud together with my daughters. We’ve started with Great Expectations, and it’s been a lot of fun.

If you have any reading plans or challenges for 2014, let us know!

 

audiobooksAudiobook of the week (09:24)

Parasite Parasite by Mira Grant, narrated by Christine Lakin,  is Michael’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 7-day trial and free audiobook download by going to www.audiobooks.com/freebook

 

Books we wrapped: (12:12)

 

Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Jane Arsenault

Ann and Nan are Anagrams, the sequel to Mom and Dad are Palindromes, both by Mark Shulman

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2014

1001 Golf Holes You Must Play Before You Die by Jeff Barr

What Does the Fox Say? by Ylvis

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diana Muldrow

 

Michael and I are taking next week off, so there will be no episode next week. We hope you find time to read a book or two, and maybe listen to an audiobook. Thanks for all of your support this year. We’ll be back in January!

 

 

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