Because we’re working in our tumblr! Come check it out for up-to-the-minute Harper Perennial news and cat pictures:
Because we’re working in our tumblr! Come check it out for up-to-the-minute Harper Perennial news and cat pictures:
It’s time for the Goodreads Choice Awards!
|Vote now for your favorite books!|
We and our friends at other imprints within Harper have a number of nominations this year, and we’d love it if you’d consider voting for us. I’d especially like to put in a plea for Matthew Norman’s Domestic Violets, up against some big guns in the humor category. It’s our one paperback original on the list! Here’s our hot list:
Favorite Book of 2011:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Mystery and Thriller
Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
History & Biography
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
Memoir & Autobiography
Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd
This is Gonna Hurt by Nikki Sixx
Travel & Outdoors
Fire Season by Phillip Connors
Big In China by Alan Paul
Little Princes by Connor Grennan
Young Adult Fiction
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Twisted by Sara Shepard
Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Congrats to all the authors!
For the history buffs:
Truly epic, Simon Winchester’s Atlantic tells the story of the ocean from its geological origins to the age of exploration—covering the Vikings, the Irish, the Basques, John Cabot, and Christopher Columbus in the north, and the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south—and from World War II battles to today’s struggles with pollution and overfishing. Equally epic is Michael Korda’s Hero, which tells the story of the man known as Lawrence of Arabia. Both books are available today in paperback.
For the historical fiction buffs:
Matt Rees’ Mozart’s Last Aria ponders an intriguing hypothetical question: who murdered Mozart? Tess Gerritsen said that “Mozart, music, and murder seamlessly blend together in this fascinating historical mystery” and called it “a perfect read to go with a crackling fire and a pot of hot chocolate.”
For fans of outsider lit:
The Marbled Swarm is the long-awaited new novel from Dennis Cooper. It’s hard for me to describe this book. All I can say is that it is both grisly and beautiful.
We’re only about three months away from the publication of one of my favorite books we have this winter: Keija Parssinen’s THE RUINS OF US. If you don’t want to believe me about how great it is, believe these people:
“THE RUINS OF US is a stunning debut novel—a love story that spans continents. Writing with kindness and longing about Saudi Arabia and Sugar Land, Texas, Parssinen teaches us that while cultural differences run deep, when it comes to matters of the heart, we are all the same. I was dazzled by this book.”
–Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes
“THE RUINS OF US tells a gripping story about Saudi Arabian princes and bureaucrats, wives and extra-wives, sons and daughters, fanatics and exiles whose appetites and beliefs have been, until now, unavailable to readers of contemporary American fiction. Keija Parssinen uses her first-hand knowledge of the cross-roads where U.S. and Saudi Arabian interests intersect, and sometimes collide, and she directs the human and historical traffic with a maestro’s sense of pace, and a true storyteller’s sense of consequence.”
—Scott Spencer, author of Man in the Woods
“THE RUINS OF US is an arresting story of family and country. Parssinen’s characters are richly conceived and her evocative petrol universe of wealth, privilege, and intrigue is unforgettable. Powerful storytelling that is refreshing and entertaining.”
–Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
“A big, brave novel, Keija Parssinen’s THE RUINS OF US takes us behind the compound walls of Saudi Arabia and into the secret passions that threaten to tear one family apart. Step into Parssinen’s sensual prose and be transported.”
–Anna Solomon, author of The Little Bride
“In THE RUINS OF US Parssinen carries the reader from Texas into the Saudi Kingdom in the grip of a story that is both entertaining and wise. Through an expertly drawn cast of characters and a suspenseful and timely series of events, it poses the universal questions: how much do we really know about the ones we love and how far will that love carry us when the earth below our feet starts to shift? THE RUINS OF US marks the debut of an enormously talented writer who is unafraid to lead us on the greatest adventure of all—into the wilds of the human heart.”
—Lise Saffran, author of Juno’s Daughters
I am the worst read-along participant/organizer ever. I read Further Tales of the City, the third book in the series, almost two months ago and never posted about it. And I haven’t read the rest of them yet! The saddest part is that includes Mary Ann in Autumn, which went on sale October 4th. That’s the only Tales of the City book I haven’t read, and I definitely would have read it months ago if I hadn’t set the goal for myself of re-reading the entire series.
My failure at my goal should not in any way be attributed to the quality of the books. In fact, they’re some of the most fun ones I’ve read this year! I think I might have just aimed a bit too high. I need to face it—read-alongs of multiple books are not my strong suit. While I’ll certainly get to the rest of the series again someday, I think it’s time I skip ahead to Mary Ann and let myself enjoy it.
Have you ever set yourself a reading goal and then completely failed to meet it—even if you really wanted to read the books?
This week is a quiet one—we’ve got two paperback reprints. Enjoy!
Voice of America by E.C. Osondu
If you like African literature, this book of short stories from Nigerian writer Osondu is for you. Get in on the ground floor, because Harper hardcover will have a novel from him in spring 2013.
The Women Jefferson Loved by Virginia Scharff
We all know about Sally Hemmings—but what about the other women in Jefferson’s life? How did they influence him? Find out in Scharff’s fresh history.
My mom is not a big reader. So although she appreciated that I liked to read and understood its value, she wasn’t all that interested in it. She’d give whatever stack I got at the bookstore a cursory glance and that was that…which is how I read Flowers in the Attic in the fourth grade. And I know I’m not the only one who pored over this book of incest and attic imprisonment when I was barely old enough to walk home alone. But there were plenty of other books that I read as a kid that weren’t quite as inappropriate as FITA but still not the kind of thing you’d imagine a junior high schooler getting into.
Until last week, when I read Alafair Burke’s excellent thriller Long Gone, I had completely forgotten about my old obsession with Mary Higgins Clark. Looking back, I think she bridged the gap between young adult and adult literature for me perfectly for two reasons. First, though people very often got murdered in her books, they weren’t gory. Second, they were available in mass market at the local Pathmark drug store, which made them an easy jump price-wise for someone still living on a small allowance.
I still think about the plot of I’ll Be Seeing You every so often, but the others have completely faded from memory. Maybe I should get back into MHC? Have any of you ever returned to an old obsession and found that it held up?
Just one book on sale from us today—all the more reason to give it your full, undivided attention!
Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God is a look at the collision between religion and science by Greg Graffin, who has lectured at UCLA and Cornell in paleontology but is better known as one of the founding members of Bad Religion. He’s also on twitter as DoctorGraffin with a very professorial photo. But the book isn’t just for Bad Religion fans and science geeks. As Popmatters said: ““Whether you’re a believer, an atheist, an agnostic, or anything in between, this is a necessary book.”
Salon asks: Can Harper Perennial reinvent publishing?
Moreso than this actual article, I’ve been pleasantly impressed and surprised by the largely positive feedback on twitter. You like us, you really like us! Or at least you don’t hate us. Though I do wonder if people will now think that we all sit around braiding each other’s hair and being best friends forever. It’s not always all fun and games! But sometimes it is.
So this is something awesome: a group of Canadian photographers read Practical Jean and decided to do a series of photographs inspired by the book! If you’re in Canada, they’ll be on view tonight during Hamilton’s monthly art crawl at the home of Studio 12. If you’re not in Canada, you can check out this video of the works in progress. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to know anything about books before you read them, you could consider this to be a bit spoiler-y. But if you know the book’s about a woman who kills her friends, then there’s nothing here that would ruin the story.
By now, many of you have probably heard about Book Club Girl’s Ebook Bonanza—12 great low-priced ebooks! All are recommended for book clubs, and all have free podcasts featuring interviews with the author. While any of these books would be a great choice, I thought I’d do a little write-up of the ones I’ve read and loved. Make them the winners!
The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
This book, about an American couple attempting to overcome the grief over the death of their child in India, blew me away. Thrity did an amazing job of exploring how two people living in the same house and experiencing the same thing can be so incredibly far apart. If you’re up for a good, cathartic, sobbing cry, this is the book.
Download my interview with Thrity on Book Club Girl on Air here.
Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe
This is the story of a family whose matriarch decides to remarry in her 70s. Chaos—mostly of the emotional variety—ensues. I fell in love with the characters in this book, and if you love stories about families coping with everyday issues of love, marriage, kids, illness, and everything in between, this is the book to read.
Download my interview with Emily on Book Club Girl on Air
In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
If you had told me I would read and love a book about a) a stewardess who marries her captain and then has to be a stepmom to his three kids and b) a book about a virus that decimates America, I would have told you that you were nuts. Neither of those topics are my cup of tea, and yet here they’re married so wonderfully, and written about so beautifully, that I couldn’t resist. Laura Kasischke is a poet, and it shows.
Download an interview (not done by me) with Laura on Book Club Girl on Air
The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
I have made no secret of my love for this book (about a woman coping with the end of her marriage with the help of her family and her animal family) and for Katrina. In fact, just the other day, Katrina’s publicist and I were out to lunch with an ad rep from a magazine, and the subject of authors we love as people came up. We immediately started talking about Katrina, even though her book came out more than a year ago. Seriously, though, if you love animals you should absolutely read this.
Download my interview with Katrina on Book Club Girl on Air
Well, have I convinced you to check any of these out? Are there any other ones on the list that you want to convince me to check out?
We’ve got some really awesome books on sale this week: black comedy, Blake Butler, and an ebook of a fan favorite!
Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia by Blake Butler
Another glimpse inside the dark, twisted mind of Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year—this time in the form of a memoir about his battle with insomnia. Also, the cover glows in the dark!
Practical Jean: A Novel by Trevor Cole
Practical Jean is the story of a woman who kills all of her friends. But it’s funny! If you liked Bad Marie, you’ll like this one—and Bad Marie author Marcy Dermansky did too! (“PRACTICAL JEAN practically blew my mind. Trevor Cole’s twisted novel about Jean Vale Horemash, a friend so devoted she will commit murder, is not only deliciously funny – it is also surprisingly, heartbreakingly poignant.”)
Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World’s Most Mysterious Fish by James Prosek
Over the weekend, I was at the house of a friend who has this book on his shelf. Another person there asked, “wait, is that book actually about eels?” Yes, yes it is, and it’s fascinating.
Hood: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
Dying for more Emma Donoghue after you’ve read Room? We have the cure with this novel, now back in print from us. It has one of my most favorite covers in a while.
On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt
This book is a great backlist book for us, and now it’s available as an ebook! Maybe it’s finally time for me to find out what I’m missing . . .
Do any of these strike your fancy?
I owe a big apology to my BBAW interview partner, Sarah of YA Librarian Tales. We exchanged our interview questions a few days before the interview day, and when I didn’t get a response from her, I made a mental note to email her . . . and then promptly forgot about it. Lo and behold, when I checked my spam folder yesterday, there were Sarah’s answers (along with emails from various bloggers, our author Ben Greenman, and many other people I’ve sent emails to before.) So here is Sarah’s interview! Read it and then go enjoy her blog. I know reading her answers has already made me curious about Kim Harrington—if it’s in the vein of Veronica Mars, that’s something I might have to check out. (And here’s my interview on Sarah’s blog.)
1.How does your job as a librarian influence your blog?
When I’m reviewing, it makes me consider what would make that book a good fit for a library. Is it a strong readalike to an already established YA author? Does it have strong reluctant reader appeal? Heck, is it written by a celebrity that teens will recognize and will want to read and you know it’s just something you need to have. I also like to look at books that may not be a librarian’s first choice to adding to a collection but should be given a second look because there may be something great in there for the teen reader.
2. I was really interested to see that you’re especially into contemporary YA, because sometimes I feel like contemporary YA doesn’t get as much attention as dystopian and other genres. Do you agree? Why is contemporary YA your favorite?
Unfortunately, contemporary YA doesn’t get as much attention as most YA genres. It is one of the things that continues to befuddle me because contemporary YA has by far some of the strongest young adult writers. It is reality, and sometimes that is harsh, so perhaps that is why some readers shy away from contemporary YA. Though I will say, if you hand a teen reader, or heck, any reader, a really great contemporary YA, they usually come back for more. Perhaps contemporary YA doesn’t have the “escape” factor that dystopians or paranormal stories do, but there is much to be said to seeing big decisions play out on the pages of a book rather than having to experience those drugs, that friend dying, or something else, in the real world. It builds empathy and understanding in readers. For me personally, I just prefer contemporary situations. I don’t need an apocalypse or a virus to make my stories interesting. Give me some well written teen angst, parental problems, or friend issues any day of the week.
3. You also focus on romance on your blog—what romances would you recommend to someone who’s never read anything in that genre before?
Right now, Victoria Dahl is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. She is a very funny writer along with being incredibly sexy. Her characters are strong and the women are not meek or willing to have decisions made for them. They go toe-to-toe with their guys. Lisa Kleypas is my perennial historical go-to author because she just writes with such luxurious detail. Her heroes are perhaps too good to be true but they are sexy and will give real life male celebrities a run for their money. Likewise, Elizabeth Hoyt is at the top of her game as a historical romance writer. Lovely, lovely writing and interesting plots. And finally, I cannot recommend Nalini Singh enough. She is the only paranormal romance writer I still read and it’s because she is just a damn fine writer and knows how to keep her stories intriguing. Pick up Slave to Sensation and you’ll never look back.
4. What’s the best real-life experience you’ve had as a result of your blog?
Attending BEA and Book Blogger Convention this past May was really great because I got to meet several bloggers who I have talked with online. Putting faces to names and just being able to really talk face to face about books with these bloggers was wonderful. I have also been able to use blogging as a platform for work, using it for a presentation I gave at the Colorado Teen Lit Conference so it has enhanced my professional career also.
5. What are your favorite and least favorite book covers of the past year?
I’m not as passionate about covers as most readers. They tend not to make a big impression on me for whatever reason. However, I think debut YA author Sophia Flack’s cover for Bunheads is absolutely gorgeous. I think Melissa Walker has a great cover for Small Town Sinners that really speaks to the story, and I think Moira Young’s Blood Red Road is austere enough to match the book, in a positive way. There is one cover I absolutely have loathed this year and that is Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley. It hurts my eyes to even look at it.
6. What book(s) would you make into TV shows if you could?
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, an adult book, would make a great made-for-tv movie or even TV show since those TV people know how to string out a plotline. I can totally see Jason Segal or John Krasinski in the role of Lincoln, the main character. Also, Clarity by Kim Harrington would make a fun teenage detective series in the vein of Veronica Mars. Would love to see Emma Stone as Clare Fern, psychic. Set in Cape Cod, I can see it having an old school Dawson’s Creek vibe to it too.
For anyone not in Brooklyn (or in Brooklyn but living under a rock), yesterday was the Brooklyn Book Festival. There were three things that made this year’s event the best yet for me:
1. It was not 90 degrees or freezing and rainy.
2. I live a 15-minute walk from the festival site now.
3. We shipped our boxes to the festival in advance instead of bringing them there the morning of.
Seriously—why did we ever schlep into the office at 7 am on a Sunday morning to haul boxes to Brooklyn? That was very foolish. Anyway, this year started off a little slow but quickly improved once we started offering a free tote or T-shirt with every purchase. We were visited by some of our authors—Simon Van Booy, Justin Taylor, Adam Wilson, Rachel Fershleiser, Austin Kleon (who happened to be visiting from Texas!), and many more. We sold lots of books—Andrew Shaffer’s Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love was the very first. We tried to be nice to everyone, though my patience was tested by the guy handing out 9/11 bookmarks who tried to guilt me into taking one by saying “the 9/11 whistleblowers have suffered for you” (My response: “That’s great, but I still don’t need that bookmark”) and the guy who tried to sell us the phone number 212-Authors and wouldn’t take no for an answer. But perhaps my favorite moment was when Mark (the online marketing manager for Harper hardcover who was helping out at the table) asked me what I thought the best book on the table was—and then two people immediately wanted to buy it!
I utterly failed in taking pictures of the booth, so we’ll have to use these:
(This photo is totally book-related. See, that’s Zooey, and he works at Donadio & Olsen as an assistant to agent E. Carrie Howland.)
(You can’t see the booth in this one, but it was taken there, and it was in the New York Times!)
All in all, it was a lovely day spent talking about books. What could be better?
It’s the last day of book blogger appreciation week! Though of course here at Harper Perennial we appreciate book bloggers all year round. Today’s blogging topic is about tried and true practices for blogging, so I thought I’d share some tips for what we love to see on book blogs. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule and that these are only opinions—but they are the opinions of someone who has read A LOT of book blogs and who has to think all the time about how to distribute limited numbers of review copies and galleys. Some of these things might seem pretty obvious, but . . .
#1: NO MUSIC!
I can’t stress this one enough. Please don’t have any music set to play on your blog. While I read plenty of blogs at home, I’m also doing quite a bit of blog reading here in my office, and music suddenly blaring from my computer is annoying to everyone. This is the #1 thing for me that makes a blog seem unprofessional.
#2: Keep it simple.
I know that design skills vary, and so do personal tastes. But when in doubt, keep your blog’s design simple. I’m visiting your blog to read your writing, not to see a million buttons or flashing graphics.
#3: Let us know when you review.
If I sent you the book, please please send me a link to your review. If I didn’t send you the book but we’ve emailed before and you review a Harper Perennial book, send me the link. Or tweet it at me. There’s no way I could retweet or post all reviews on facebook, but I try to make sure I do it for most bloggers at least once every so often, and I send ALL the good reviews on to the editor and author.
#4: Don’t just tell me to send you stuff.
This one might be a little less obvious. I’m always very happy to add a blogger to our email list. But please don’t email me and say “I like literary fiction. Send me some books!” (I’m paraphrasing, but I’ve gotten emails not far off from that.) I wish that I had time to read every single blogger’s blog cover to cover, so to speak, and recommend things immediately, but I don’t. Our entire marketing team is two people (yes, that’s two people marketing more than 150 books a year), and it’s just not going to happen. The best way that I get to know blogs and bloggers is by what you request and what you review. If you’ve taken the time to do some research and figure out what we publish that you might like, I’m much more likely to go read your blog and figure out what else you might like. Saying “I’ll review whatever you want me to review!” (and that is an exact quote) only shows me that you don’t have a vision for your blog.
#5: Don’t ask for 100 books in the first email.
This is the opposite of #4 in some ways, but nothing bothers me more than someone who sends me an email with a long list of books (like we’re talking 10 or more books), some of which are Harper Perennial and many of which come from other Harper imprints, asking for all of them. One or two, sure. Even five? Sure. But if you’re asking for more than that, it’s suspicious—especially if I then never see any links from you, or you “review” each book with one sentence on your blog. And while we’re at it, if we’ve got a relationship established, and you see an Ecco book and you email me to ask if I can get it for you, or put you in touch with the marketing person for Ecco? That’s great. If we’ve never worked together before, but you only have my email, and so you acknowledge that some of the books aren’t Harper Perennial but you need some help finding the right person? Fine. But if you’re a book blogger, and you want to be treated like a professional, it makes sense to put some effort into learning about publishers’ different imprints. Does it matter to the average person? Maybe not—but I’m not sending the average person review copies.
I don’t want this entry to seem super negative. The vast majority of the book bloggers I deal with are amazing and have made my job amazing. But there are some bad apples out there, as well as people who just don’t know better, and I think a lot of people are afraid to turn people down or point these things out for fear that someone will take to twitter and complain.