The art really is in isolating yourself and letting as few things into your head as possible. To only admit those things into your head that come from a direction where no one else ever looks. That is the difficult thing.
One of my favorite authors, Lionel Shriver, is up for a National Book Award for her latest novel, So Much for That. Though I immediately obtained a copy when the hardcover came out last year (a copy I ended up giving to a good friend), I haven’t read it yet. It seems like a no-brainer—your favorite author releases a new book, and you go right out and buy it and devour it as soon as you get home. But I’ve started to notice that for me, it’s a bit different. There aren’t all that many authors out there who I can really, really depend on. But when one of them publishes something new, a part of me wants to save it for a day that I really need to read something awesome, when I want to be completely engrossed.
I’ll be getting to Lionel soon (though a part of me wonders if I should save a book that relates to our health care system for after my doctor’s appointment later this week.) But for now I want to know: who are your reliable authors? The other ones for me are (and I’m sure I’m missing some):
Isabel Allende (only read two of her books, but she’s on her way to making the list)
Last fall and the fall before, we published some of our harper perennial classics in smaller, limited-edition packages. This year, we’re doing it again! Our new olive editions are Their Eyes Were Watching God, Bel Canto, and Brave New World:
All three go on sale next Tuesday (preorder here, here, and here) but in the meantime, it’s time for a contest! I’ll give away one complete set of the three olive editions to one commenter. Just tell me which book you think should get the olive treatment (I’ll count it as two entries if you pick a harper perennial book).
And remember, these books will only be available in stores for a limited time!
Before lunch, I tweeted that I was having a serious case of blogger’s block. Alberto, our esteemed publicity director (who blogs himself at Our Crafty Home), said: “think about kittens reading Chekhov.” So dear readers, you have him to thank for the below photos of cats reading. Thanks Alberto!
Hey look! It’s our first guest post from Harper Paperbacks marketing coordinator Mary Sasso!
One great thing about working in publishing is the endless supply of new books and recommendations from fellow book-lovers. It’s like having a continually updated college syllabus, or being in a book club that meets every day at work.
Read This Next by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark is the kind of book that brings this reading obsession to the next level. With over 500 book recommendations, Read This Next features lesser-known or rarely recommended books—all of which were carefully vetted and approved by two book-lovers with great taste. Aka, a dream for a book-lover like me.
Take One Hundred Years of Solitude. Okay, so I know this is everyone’s favorite book. Like many, I read it for the first time in college and have continued to pack up my treasured, dog-eared and underlined copy from apartment to apartment every time I’ve moved in the past five years.
So for all you Márquez fans out there, here are some great recommendations from Latin American authors, courtesy of Read This Next:
• Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges: “None of his literary progeny have matched the sheer ingeniousness of his idea-driven confections.”
• Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar: “Fascinating characters, beautiful language, and intellectual challenge.”
• Three Trapped Tigers by Guillermo Cabrera Infante: “The wordplay seethes and scintillates, as does the pre-Castro Havana nightlife that is its subject.”
If you grew up reading Agatha Christie, then try this murder mystery:
• The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson: “One of the greatest of all books where the narrator is the killer.”
And if you’re a Flannery O’Connor fan, here is another Southern Gothic tale:
• The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb: “One of the greatest thrillers ever written, starring one of the most vicious priests ever written.”
Click here to browse inside Read This Next. If you’ve got some great rarely recommended or alternative favorite reads of your own, then tweet your recommendations using the hashtag #readthisnext, or comment here. What are your rarely recommended favorite books?
This past weekend, we took a road trip to Boston and sold books at the Boston Book Festival. It was super fun (except for when we had a purse stolen out of our booth), and in lieu of a “and then this happened, and then this happened” recap I thought I would present you with some interesting things that people asked us or said to us over the course of our eight hours at the booth:
Do you have any lesbian authors? (cue frantic viewing of the table, trying to remember the sexual orientation of every author)
Does Harper Perennial have an office in Boston? (sadly, no, especially considering how excitedly this question was asked every time)
Do you have any books that men would like? (I sold her Manhood for Amateurs and Predictably Irrational)
Would this be good for a book club? (said while holding up Jason Mulgrew’s Everything is Wrong with Me. yes, if your book club isn’t easily offended)
Do you have any of that Amish romance? I want to buy it for my preteen son. He’s really into Twilight, but I want to steer him in the right direction. (um, huh?)
And of course, there were many people who wanted us to publish their manuscripts, even once we explained that we were all from marketing, not editorial, and that the best way to get your book published by us is to get an agent. One man in particular really, REALLY did not want to believe that.
All in all, though, we had lots of fun and will most likely be back next year! Yay Boston!
(from left to right: Jen aka Book Club Girl, marketing director Amy, harper paperbacks marketing coordinator Mary, and me (Erica, marketing manager.) Photo taken by the lovely Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books.
So, we know it’s somewhat short notice, but we’d really like it if all of you came to our very special fifth anniversary party next thursday, october 21st, at housing works. There will be beer (and wine. and most likely cupcakes.) And singing. And fire-breathing dragons.
Seriously, EVERYONE is invited. The more the merrier, and all that. Tell your friends!
That’s what A Cineaste’s Bookshelf called Voltaire’s Calligrapher in this review. “Smart, sharp and dry—like a fine cheese. It leaves you wanting more, but with the knowledge that it is perfect as it is.” That’s pretty high praise, and now we have this awesome video from the book’s translator, Lisa Carter, to further pique your interest:
Delayed at the airport on Monday, with one book finished (The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan, so excellent), and another started and not liked very much (and so it shall remain nameless), I headed to the bookstore to pick out something new. I had been up since before dawn and wanted something engrossing yet not emotionally heavy, something that would keep me awake until I got home.
I picked out Sophie Hannah’s The Dead Lie Down, and I haven’t regretted it so far. I hate to call a book “unputdownable” because a) it’s not a real word and b) you can put anything down if you have to, but this one comes pretty close. If you like Kate Atkinson, Laura Lippman, Tana French, etc etc, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like it. (and as a side note: aside from Lippman, who are some other American female authors who write books like this? I would love to know, because I will read them.)
One thing I noticed on the cover of the book was tiny print telling me that in the UK, The Dead Lie Down was published as The Other Half Lives. I can understand why they changed it—I’m not sure if the phrase “how the other half lives” is used as much in the UK, but it would be the first thing anyone thought of here, and that’s not the meaning that the phrase has in the book. But looking on Sophie Hannah’s website, I can see that her US publishers have changed other titles of hers too. A Room Swept White will be The Cradle in the Grave. The Point of Rescue became The Wrong Mother. Hurting Distance became The Truth-Teller’s Lie. So I started wondering why the changes, and tried to think of other novels whose titles had changed, either between UK and US publication or between hardcover and paperback. Can you think of any?
We here at Harper Perennial are happy to do our part to help cats in the publishing community find homes. And so:
A missive from editor Michael Signorelli:
I have learned of two wonderful cats who need a new home. Their names are Chicken and Waffles. If I wasn’t allergic, I might consider helping out myself. But knowing that readers of the Olive Reader are generous and big-hearted (and that Erica has quite a thing for cats herself), I thought this would be an appropriate venue to ask for help. Please see the details from the owner below.
Chicken and Waffles are two delightful cats that we are fostering that need to find their forever home. They are brothers, about 5 years old, and as cute and snuggly as can be. Chicken is the bigger one with the black nose and chin, and some of his favorite activities include sitting in the window and rolling over to get tummy rubs. Waffles is as sweet as syrup with a pink nose and a slight overbite (looks like he’s smiling!), and he likes to chase cat toys and be held like a baby. We’re sad we cannot keep them forever, but our apartment is not made for two cats and we would very much like to see them happy and settled with someone else. They have had all their shots and have been fixed. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to meet them!