Last week was moving week – which meant all sorts of chaos ensued, including, the moving of many, many, many boxes of books. 32. I counted. It’s probably way too many and I haven’t even gotten them all out of our old apartment. Downside to moving, less time for reading. My new nonfiction book club met mid-week, which meant mid-move, and I was the embarrassed leader who hadn’t finished the book. But I promise, reviews and other bookish wonderfulness to follow upon completion of moving and cleaning! As well as a gorgeous shot of my new bookcase wall!
As spring approaches, I look forward to books that bring not only a smile to my face, but a laugh as well. Below are some of my favorite books that genuinely made me laugh out loud.
As the anniversary of his death approaches, I think long and hard about Robin Williams – he who laughs loudest and longest is usually in the most pain. Tony made me laugh, and I will forever be grateful for that.
I laughed so hard I was crying. Though my laughter here has been tampered a bit by the fact that Allie Brosh has rarely been seen either in public or online for 5 1/2 years now and her second book is indefinitely postponed. Allie, wherever you are, I hope you’re okay.
I didn’t realize the mental health theme here until I started writing these descriptions. One way of combating depression, which each author thus far has always been transparent in discussing, is humor.
After recently finishing her disappointing follow up, I wanted to remind myself why I love Alyssa so much. She truly is a most relatable woman.
Princess Margaret was a very unique character and while her life was clearly sad, the way she handled being the Queen’s little sister offers a great deal of humor.
I alternate back and forth between loving and hating celebrities memoirs. The hate, from the fact that they often are approached by a publisher to write a book, or their agents have very little difficulty finding a buyer for a proposed memoir. Whereas the rest of us aspiring writers have to grind our teeth writing query letter after query letter. The love side, comes from the content. They offer a mostly safe palate cleanser read, best read between heavier books from which one needs to recover. So here are my top choices, in no particular order:
While full of more name dropping than I typically care to endure, it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so hard at a book. I loved Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and will read anything and everything now that Eric Idle chooses to write.
I’ve loved The Princess Bride for most of my life and when my coworker told me how wonderful As You Wish is, and I discovered the audiobook is narrated by almost the whole cast, I was completely hooked.
Part memoir, part self-help, Iliza’s book is both helpful and humorous. I love everything she does and, along with Lucy Knisley, I feel like she’s my big sister author.
More a collection of essays, and not quite a fair assessment of celebrity memoir as it was Tony’s writing that made him famous in the first place, I will love and defend this man for the rest of my life.
When I was first introduced to her on screen, Mindy annoyed me. I think it was mostly her speech patterns on The Office. But I loved The Mindy Project and my sister raved about her books so I figured I’d give them a shot. She really is an inspiring person and role model.
I have always been a collector of books, but a few years ago, when I started working at an independent bookstore, I was introduced to these magical things called…
Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)!
For those unfamiliar with the concept (and I was before attending my first BookCon shortly before starting my job at the bookstore, they are paperback copies of books that are to be released in the next 1 to 9 months pre-bound by the book’s publisher for distribution to booksellers, librarians, and in today’s world, book bloggers and Instagram influencers. While some bloggers blog to get these coveted free books, I am lucky enough to be inundated with them at work. I’m a book blogger to help me keep track of everything I have read.
But now, gentle readers, my husband and I are moving into our first house. Yay! A house! I thought this would automatically mean more room for more books, dream come true, right? Wrong. The house we fell in love with is lacking one major thing that I wanted – a wall that I could easily convert into faux built in bookcases to achieve my dream of a Belle-esque library, complete with sliding ladder to reach the higher shelves.
The lifelong dream of three year old me is not to be. At least not yet. I still hold out hope. But now, what do I do with my
Aside from taking all the extra book boxes from work (which are, of course, perfect for transporting books), what do I do? I’ve already donated some 300 books to various organizations, schools, and charities, my shelves are all double stuffed, and I’m going to have to get rid of one of them due to lack of space… I thought moving from apartment to house would mean more space, but I digress.
While Unf*ck Your Habitat has been a helpful guide in paring down other things and establishing productive cleaning habits, I don’t want to forgo bringing home lots of books! So while I pack and donate those books I no longer have room for and can bear to be parted from, I shall continue to brainstorm ways to avoid bringing more home… three weeks to go!
Now that I am finally in the mood to read fiction again there are a few books that I’ve made decent progress with in the last two years that I will hopefully now finally finish!
1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Reason #1 for wanting to read it: It is a story about ice hockey! No one has written a decent fictional ice hockey story that is still in print – I spent years searching. #2, the world has been raving about Backman for a few years now and I’ve very much wanted to give him a read.
Book format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of time since started book: 2 years.
2. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
I bought the hardcover for this book right when it came out as I was hoping for a good book to break my Sarah J. Maas hangover.
Book format: 1st Edition Hardcover
Length of time since started book: 2.5 years
3. The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
A tale of Viking adventure? That came out right as I was really starting to hit my stride with my own Viking adventure that I’ve been working on now for 6 years? Sign me up!
Book Format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of Time Since Started Book: 1.75 years
4. Jackaby by William Ritter
Touted as a combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sherlock Holmes, I was enthralled immediately – a case of I put it down on day and couldn’t remember where when I was ready to pick it back up.
Book Format: Paperback
Length of Time Since Started Book: 3 years
5. And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
On of my first ARCs, a mix of historical fiction and contemporary, And After the Fire is the dual narrative of two Jewish women tied together by a piece of music by J. S. Bach. The author is local to the area and the writing is beautiful – I took it on a trip and misplaced it upon my return and upon it’s rediscovery, I didn’t feel like reading fiction anymore.
Book Format: Advanced Reader Copy
Length of Time Since Started Book: 3 years
Coming into the holiday book/gift buying season, I like to reflect on the books that brought me joy – very few people want tearjerkers as their holiday read! Below are just a few titles that are on my “holiday recommendations” shelf at the store!
I can’t say enough how wonderful this book is. Equal parts cute and adorable and completely badass, it’s a great compendium of women throughout history who did wonderful and totally rad things!
Another woman who has done, and continues to do, fabulous things, RBG is quickly becoming the hero of the millennials and liberals and we hold our breath every time she takes a spill. Whether you agree with her positions or not, she’s led a remarkable life and this biography of her is worth a read.
I love a fun new adult romance – I read one a year around the holidays. They make me feel cozy and love the Prince Harry inspired Royally Matched for it’s approach to more than just romance – there’s friendship, mental health discussions, all sorts of worthwhile secondary characters – it’s worth judging by more than just the half naked dude on the cover.
A fun, again millennial, story about bookstores and the people who work in them. The bookseller in me adores this book (I even convinced my boss to read it and he loved it), and it’s just a great relaxing read that really allows your mind to explore the Mr. Penumbra’s store in your head – it’s different for everyone and that’s one of the many things I love so much about it.
Jenny Lawson always brings a smile to my face. I bought a copy of Furiously Happy for my cousin-in-law who just started college last year and it has become a favorite gift for me to give to other young women (and men!) in the family.
is the question all book lovers are asked, “Well, which was better? The book or the movie?” And every good book lover knows that the correct answer, 99% of the time, is “The book, of course!” But sometimes, we book lovers must admit that the filmmakers did something well and the movie, is in fact, quite good. Below are some of each – my favorite films and television adaptations, as well as a few that completely missed the mark.
While they are not directly related, the film A Private War is based on a Vanity Fair article, “Marie Colvin’s Private War,” their near simultaneous release dates and identical subjects make them inexorably linked. In Extremis is my favorite book of the year, and continues my great love of war correspondent books. Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin in A Private War and she does an absolutely tremendous job – Oscar worthy in my opinion. I give both book & film two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
When I first sat down to watch the film adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I was so excited – a, it’s practically a Downton Abbey reunion, b, I was super curious about how they were going to adapt the letters into a cohesive narrative, and c, I wanted to see Guernsey. The cast captured the characters almost exactly as I imagined them and it was wonderful. However, on that fateful first watching, I ranted about how the filmmakers changed parts of the story. Which, as a filmmaker, I know you kind of have to when the source material doesn’t give a clear cut narrative structure for drama and tension. So now, I must think of them as two entirely separate entities, and, in that manner, I enjoy them both tremendously.
I was very excited about The Magicians television adaptation, and, well. I hated it. Quentin, oh my Quentin, you are perfectly cast. And Alice, I adore you. But WHY OH WHY DO WE NEED NEW CHARACTERS? And why does Julia have to have such a large role? It’s well done, I give the show runners credit for that. But I feel like the changes made were not wholly necessary. It captured the spirit for the most part, but when you have a cast of characters who are fairly apathetic by nature, it is hard to feel invested in a show. In the books, you can always hold out hope that they’re different in your head and create your own head-cannon.
This is a tricky one – a true purist will tell you that the book is always best, followed by the original adaptation, then the remake. Which, technically, the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo could be considered a remake… but it is far superior to the Swedish adaptation, in style, plot, and depiction of Lisbeth. In my humble opinion of course, but as it is one of my husband’s all time favorite movies, I might be a touch bias.
Some movies are just so bad they’re good. I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film because it’s just so bad. It’s not even a guilty pleasure, it’s just a really good bad movie. It’s funny and enjoyable and, so long as you don’t think too hard about it, a fairly accurate depiction of the book!
At least once a week, someone will walk through the doors of the bookstore, or send us an email, asking us to have an event with them or carry their books because they’re now published! And they’re so excited. And then we ask who their publisher is. And they say Createspace. And we say, sorry, but no.
Those who love to read often enjoy writing. And when they read their favorite author’s works, they often think to themselves, I can do that. I’ve got a book in me. And then they sit down, and they crank out of draft, and are faced with a decision – how do they get their draft in the hands of readers. Three main options exist.
Option 1: Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing means that you send your manuscript out to agents in the hope that one will represent you, in a similar manner to those who are looking to get into the film business. Not sure how to find an agent? Check out The Writer’s Market, an annual publication that spells out the steps needed to get your book from draft to bookstore shelves. If you want to see your book on the shelves of a chain bookstore, Barnes & Noble in the US, Chapters Indigo in Canada, Waterstones in the UK, etc. Traditional publishing is the way to go. In the US, if you are traditionally published, it means that your book is distributed by one of the big publishing houses, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Houghton Mifflin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster or Scholastic. There are a few others that stores work with, but these are the big ones.
Perks of going the traditional route – cost to you – minimal. The publishing house, once they accept your manuscript, you work with their editors, their graphic designers design your cover, the format your manuscript for printing, they promote your book, they make sure that their sales team knows your book is coming, and they in turn inform booksellers about how cool you are/your book is MONTHS before it even hits their shelves so that they can help spread the word that your book is coming.
Option 2: Small Presses
These are the indies of the publishing world and are often distributed by big printer and US nationwide distributor, Ingram. Small and university presses offer some of the same benefits as the larger publishing houses, such as editors, but often don’t have the same resources in house that the houses do. The print runs are going to be smaller, your book may go out of print more quickly, and it might not get any promotional assistance from the publisher. Upside here – if you go into an indie bookstore and ask them to carry it, they probably will. They’ve probably worked with the publisher, or at least Ingram, before. In this instance, you are more likely to see your book on an indie store shelf than a chain store shelf. However, if you want your book to be a major success if it’s published by a small press, you need to be prepared to do a lot of promotional legwork yourself.
A note about small presses and books being carried in a bookstore: Ask what their terms are with bookstores. Most independent bookstores are looking at the 45+% discount they receive from major publishing houses and the 42% they get from Ingram. And they want your book to be returnable to the distributor if it doesn’t sell off their shelves in a predetermined amount of time (most stores it’s anywhere from 12 to 24 months). Familiarize yourself with the term “consignment” and what that means to a local bookstore.
Option 3: Self-Publishing
This should be your last choice if your end goal is to have your book sitting on a bookstore shelf. If you want to publish only e-books, sure. Go for it. Self-publishing, by definition means you did it yourself. You may have conscripted friends into proofreading, or hired an editor, graphic designer, etc. but you fronted the costs. Once you agonize over whether or not your book is ready, you have to make a decision about who you want to print it.
You may entertain the following idea: Oh! Amazon does printing! I’ll publish it through their in house press, Createspace! If you ever want your book in an independent bookstore, DO NOT DO THIS. Indies have been suffering for YEARS because of Amazon’s book selling business practices. Indies will not bring your book in from Createspace because doing so directly lines the pocket of our biggest competitor.
If you insist on doing your own publishing AND having your book carried in traditional book stores, search out other options that aren’t owned by their biggest competitor. You can try Lulu, or one of the other options for self-publishing that exist out there – a basic internet search should help turn up a few options.
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Note from the Sarah: I’m the manager and adult book buyer for a sizable independent bookstore. I get asked to explain the differences between publishing options on a regular basis and have found that the vast majority of those who are self-published didn’t want to put the time and effort into query letters and attempting to be published traditionally. Most of the time, their books are not of the same caliber as those that come in from the major publishing houses. I firmly believe that self-publishing should be a last resort if you want to see your book on the shelves of a bookstore.
So I’ve decided to mix it up a bit in order to keep myself accountable for regular posts and moved Bookish Friday to Tuesday and made it, therefore, Bookish Tuesday! My book journal is pretty epic. As an avid reader, I’ve collected many book journals over the years and have now create my own, based on my favorite topics from all the previous book journals I’ve had. The Table of Contents for the current incarnation is a separate page located here under Bookish Lists, Reviews & How-To’s.
Books That Made Me Cry
The best books are the ones that make you feel. And while most of us don’t love to be brought to tears of sadness in our every day lives, some of the best books as the ones that made use shed many tears. Highlights include: The Nightingale, The Montmaray Journals, and most other WWII novels among others.
Signed Books I’ve Read
I love to go meet authors and hear their stories about how their books came to be. The best part is when I’ve read the book before meeting the author and already love it, but I also love being intrigued by an author and then reading their book and loving it! I’ve decided to include the book pictures below, but for my favorite author encounters, they can be found here and here.
Literary Crushes & Book Boyfriends
Yes, I’m happily married. Yes, I still get excited about a great fictional man. Favorites include: Rhys in A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Henry in Royally Matched by Emma Chase, and Hideo in Warcross by Marie Lu
In my role as assistant manager/adult book buyer at an independent bookstore, I get to meet with sales reps from all the big publishing houses, as well as a number of smaller ones. Below are the books that they, and I, are most excited for this fall!
1. The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher
Publisher: Berkley Books, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: October 2, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction, main character was a real person
I have been enamored with Kick Kennedy’s life for a number of years – I’ve read biographies of her, fiction where she is featured, and now she’s getting her very own historical fiction interpretation. It’s mostly the love story of her early twenties, but also paints a vivid portrait of World War II England and Washington D. C. Well known historical figures make cameos throughout the book, including the rest of the Kennedy clan!
2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House
Pub Date: November 13, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $32.50 list price
She was in the White House for 8 years and is an overall inspiring woman. This book is definitely close to the top of my Christmas wish list and will be a gift that I give to most of the women in my family. Regardless of how you feel about her husband’s politics and policies, Michelle’s approval rating hardly wavered.
3. My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper
Publisher: Scribner Book Company, a division of Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $26 list price
I, like most other female millennials, fell in love with Ellie Kemper of the adorably lovable and naive Kimmy Schmidt. And if you’ve never watched The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you’ve probably seen her in The Office. I can’t wait to hear what stories she has to tell about her life. They’re sure to make me laugh!
4. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Publisher: Harper, a division of Harper Collins
Pub Date: September 11, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28.99 list price
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
When I tell you that this book was everywhere in the UK, it was in the front windows of just about every bookstore my sister and I happened upon in June. The advance copy is still sitting on my shelf at home, but I will get to it soon, hopefully before it’s actual release date here in the States! I always enjoy a good book with some magic thrown in and The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock seems like it would be right up my alley!
5. Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group
Pub Date: October 9, 2018
Format & Price: Hardcover, $28 list price
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
After Lisa Scottoline, Elin Hilderbrand is our bestselling local author. But Sarah, I thought she lived in Nantucket? You’re right, she does. But she grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, where our store is located, and her mother is a regular customer and we do an event with her in some way shape or form each time a new book of hers is released. And for the fact that I’ve met her a half dozen times, I’ve never read one of her books so I figure now is the time to start!