October 2009

since the nyc marathon is on sunday . . .

  • About the author EB
  • October 30, 2009

We here at Harper Perennial have a friend: Baker. Baker began as a friend of our art director Robin, and now he’s practically part of the team. He even comes to events! But while Baker loves us and our books, what he loves more is running. As he says when asked why he runs, and why he started his site, Beyond Defeat:

“I was inspired watching the 2007 NYC Marathon from a non-runner perspective. It was at that moment I decided to set out to conquer a marathon. After competing in the 2008 NYC Marathon I became hooked on running. I started running every race I could enter, getting better at each time. With each race I had funny stories, wether they were related to my activities the night prior, or directly after the race. Friends started becoming interested, so I thought to start putting them online for all to read. Now they serve a few different functions. Although many can be humorous, I like to try and use these running stories to inspire others.”

So, in honor of this weekend’s marathon, we’re paying tribute to our own favorite runner. Baker, we love you!


Shelf Discovery: our list!

  • About the author EB
  • October 29, 2009


Argh, don’t you hate when you accidentally post something before it’s ready? That last post should have had our Shelf Discovery Challenge book list, so here it is. All of these books are super tentative and subject to change based on our whims/us thrusting our copies of certain books in each other’s hands and begging each other to read them. Participating will be me (Erica Barmash), AB (our Harper Perennial marketing director Amy Baker), and our Harper Paperbacks marketing team: CS (Cathy Serpico, who blogs here as well) and SS (Stephanie Selah, appearing on the olive reader for the first time!) We’re each doing one book we’ve read before and one book someone else recommended. And our beloved Book Club Girl will be doing her own challenge on Bookclubgirl.com.

So, the books (in random order) with our comments:

Are You There God – “I read it when I was too young to understand some of the nuances of what was actually going on.”
My Darling, My Hamburger – I suggested this to Stephanie as her “book I’ve never read before.”

Wolves of Willoughby Chase – “It’s like an Edward Gorey world, but for kids.”

Erica and Cathy
Flowers in the Attic
Erica: “Who doesn’t love incest and kids being hidden in attics?”
Cathy: “I remember my brother’s girlfriend telling me about that book and I said “Is that like Flowers for Algernon?”

Ring of Endless Light: Book Club Girl was simply appalled that I had not read this one.

Stranger with My Face: “Do you know how many times I tried to astral project after reading this?!”
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t: “Why don’t people talk about wet dreams anymore? That’s all we used to talk about when I was 11. Do guys still have those?”

AND, I still plan to host a Christopher Pike mini-challenge, and will be forcing Christopher Pike books on these ladies who have shockingly never read them since I own all of them.

We’re joining the Shelf Discovery challenge!

  • About the author EB
  • October 29, 2009


For the first time ever, we here at the Olive Reader will be participating in a blog challenge—Booking Mama’s Shelf Discovery Challenge! And we’re not just doing it because Shelf Discovery is one of our books, we’re doing it because Shelf Discovery is awesome, as is the classic YA lit it features.

more spelling!

  • About the author EB
  • October 29, 2009

Here’s some video from Monday’s CLMP spelling bee, courtesy of Vanity Fair. Sadly, our Ben Greenman (you know, THE WINNER) isn’t featured, but you can see him stand up to take his turn after James Frey gets out, and you can get a good look at the judge, Oxford English Dictionary editor-at-large Jesse Sheidlower, who basically made the night.

I also enjoyed this anecdote from the Wall Street Journal site about Ben:

“After the event, Greenman was standing outside when a passing beggar asked for change. Greenman obliged, walked away, then stopped and contemplated giving the man his crown, too. Then he thought better of it, since the crown was only tin-foil, not silver. Also, Greenman said, ‘How do I know that he’s a good speller?’”

Harper Perennial Pets Presents . . . Gummo and Zeppo!

  • About the author EB
  • October 28, 2009


Not many people know this, but cats are integral to the editing process at Harper Perennial. For example, here we have Gummo and Zeppo, the felines belonging to editor Peggy Hageman, hard at work:


No word on what book they were working on. Perhaps The Enthusiast, one of my personal favorite PH-guided titles?

CONTEST: the most BADASS book of all time

  • About the author CS
  • October 27, 2009

If you want to give yourself a case of the giggles… erm, I mean… an education of history’s most bone-crushing badassery – check out Ben Thompson’s BADASS, on sale today! Based on Ben’s hilarious blog, BadassoftheWeek, (this week’s badass is Stephen Colbert, and yes Ben, I totally agree) BADASS is an ass-kicking compendium of muscle, brawn, and insane bloodlust and bravery. My favorite line may be:

“The rule of Ramses the Great was a golden age in Egyptian history, and his name was passed on for generations, much like that of Julius Caesar in Rome, except there’s no such thing as a Ramses salad (but there really should be — it would be romaine lettuce, dates, and goat cheese, and when you order it the cashier punches you in the face).” Who’s hungry?

To win a copy of BADASS, leave a comment of who your favorite badass is, and why you think they’re so skull-smashingly great. And check out the trailer – it’ll put some hair on your chest.

HP hearts CLMP

  • About the author EB
  • October 27, 2009


CLMP, in case you don’t know, is the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, which helps literary magazines and presses do all the great things that they do to keep literature alive and well. But to do that, they need money. And to make money, they have a spelling bee! A spelling bee that was held last night at the Diane Von Furstenberg Studio and won by none other than Harper Perennial author Ben Greenman! Now that he’s won the coveted foil crown, his book of short stories, What He’s Poised to Do (out summer 2010) will surely be a bestseller.

I have to say it was one of the most fun events I have ever attended under the auspices of work, and I recommend you attend next year. You can see some photos from contest Tayari Jones here.

contest winner: Nicole!

  • About the author EB
  • October 23, 2009

At our recent Fall Ball at the Slipper Room, blogger Nicole Bonia of Linus’s Blanket won the truly awesome prize of a profile here on the olive reader. So, without further adieu, here she is!

Favorite books (classics edition): I love a lot of books that are pretty old—Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen; Beloved, by Toni Morrison; Kindred, By Octavia Butler; Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (I have to say that I love the first book way more than the second, in the second book Alcott does a host of things with the characters that just annoys me); I remember adoring The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas but I wonder if I would enjoy it as much today. The same with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. I love the food mentioned in that one even though I read it in the fifth grade. I think I would still like that part today.

Favorite books (future classics edition): Some recent faves are We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. She is such an amazing writer. I was so stunned by this book and it affected me so much that I didn’t know if I could handle reading anything else by her, but up next for me is either Double Fault or Post Birthday World. Run, by Ann Patchett ( I made so many people buy that book), The Heretic’s Daughter by Katheleen Kent & The Book of Night Women by Marlon James. I also read a lot of books about places and events this year like City of Refuge, by Tom Piazza; 9 Lives, by Dan Baum and Columbine, by Dave Cullen. It’s difficult to call books on such heavy topics favorites, but they were amazing books.

(note from the olive reader: yes! lionel shriver! WNTTAK is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but Double Fault is still my favorite of hers. PBW is excellent, too, and I think her most accessible. Did you know she has a new hardcover, So Much for That, out in March? City of Refuge is also a fave of ours here at harper perennial.)

Keep these books away from Nicole!: I really dislike Catch-22, by Joseph Heller and The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, and maybe I shouldn’t say this since I only made it halfway through, but Lolita irks me as well. One of these days I plan on reading the whole thing, and I might change my mind then, but I just didn’t think it was all that.

Nicole as a reader, then and now: The first books that I remember are Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Bears. I’m assuming that I read them. I also had a book called My Book of Bible Stories- that might be my first real read. I remember getting peel-off nail polish on it. My mother says I thought God was a big meanie for always smiting people down. (olive reader note: haha.)

I have always loved to read and read pretty widely as long as the quality of writing is there. For a long time I only read literary fiction, and then I started blogging at Linus’s Blanket and found so many blogs that offered great quality reads in all different genres, so I have slowly been branching out over the past year. Being that I track my reading now I have notice a strong tendency toward historical fiction. But I love all the variety that I enjoy now. Having eclectic tastes means that there are even more books out there for me to enjoy.

Thanks for sharing, Nicole!

why you should follow booksellers on twitter (cat-related!)

  • About the author EB
  • October 21, 2009

Because they link to miracles like this (at least if they’re Arsen Kashkashian of the Boulder Bookstore.)



Pilot, navigator, engineer, doctor, scientist—ship’s cat? All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats have become highly prized crew members. Thomas’s carefully bred progeny, ably assisted by humans—Cat Persons—with whom they share a deep and loving bond, now travel the galaxy, responsible for keeping spacecraft free of vermin, for alerting human crews to potential environmental hazards, and for acting as morale officers.

Even among Barque Cats, Chessie is something special. Her pedigree, skills, and intelligence, as well as the close rapport she has with her human, Janina, make her the most valuable crew member aboard the Molly Daise. And the litter of kittens in her belly only adds to her value.

Then the unthinkable happens. Chessie is kidnapped—er, catnapped—from Dr. Jared Vlast’s vet clinic at Hood Station by a grizzled spacer named Carl Poindexter. But Chessie’s newborn kittens turn out to be even more extraordinary than their mother. For while Chessie’s connection to Janina is close and intuitive, the bond that the kitten Chester forms with Carl’s son, Jubal, is downright telepathic. And when Chester is sent into space to learn his trade, neither he nor Jubal will rest until they’re reunited.

But the announcement of a widespread epidemic affecting livestock on numerous planets throws their future into doubt. Suddenly the galactic government announces a plan to impound and possibly destroy all exposed animals. Not even the Barque Cats will be spared.

With the clock racing against them, Janina, Jubal, Dr. Vlast, and a handful of very special kittens will join forces with the mysterious Pshaw-Ra—an alien-looking cat with a hidden agenda—to save the Barque Cats, other animals, and quite possibly the universe as they know it from total destruction.

grocery store musical

  • About the author EB
  • October 21, 2009

In the wise words of publicist Joseph Papa, “why isn’t life more like this?”

*If you like this, you might want to check out Causing a Scene, the Improv Everywhere book. Just saying.

take a page from my book . . . gown!

  • About the author EB
  • October 19, 2009

In addition to being gifted writers, many of our authors have other special talents. Myrlin Hermes, author of the upcoming The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet, for example, is quite a craftswoman. For the Text Ball, a literary-themed costume party that’s part of Wordstock, Portland, Oregon’s annual book festival, Myrlin decided to go all out.


As she says in her Craftster post on the project, which I recommend you read to get the full details, “I was watching Project Runway’s paper dress challenge when it came to me—I should make my Text Ball costume out of the pages of my own book! It semed like a creative and fun way to promote the novel at the festival. I would invite people to pluck a page at random off my skirt to keep and read!”


For more craftiness from Myrlin, you can also check out her Dollar Store Bridal Gown, and don’t forget to check out The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet! After all, if this is what Myrlin can do for a party, imagine how creative her novel is!

Harper Perennial Pets Presents . . . Molly!

  • About the author EB
  • October 15, 2009

So, I said we’d be doing this on Wednesdays, but it seems as though I lied. Oh well!

Meet Molly:


Molly is the companion of G. Xavier Robillard, author of Captain Freedom: A Superhero’s Quest for Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves. Molly, whose full name is Molecule, is seen here in the Red Rock desert west of Las Vegas in 2007. Molly likes to sit on the front porch with her favorite author, drink coffee and scare off the mail carrier. Please also note that she is touching her nose with her tongue, which delights me even though I know all dogs can do it.

the totally killer launch party was indeed totally killer

  • About the author CS
  • October 14, 2009

Here we have Greg Olear, author of Totally Killer, having a meta-moment at his launch party, as his lovely wife Stephanie (of the band Mimi Ferocious) looks on. Does a universe implode when an author’s hand touches his own photo on the back of his book? Thankfully this did not happen on Friday.

Meanwhile, Erica and I modeled what is apparently the Olive Reader uniform.

reading isn’t dead (at least if you’re a dog)

  • About the author EB
  • October 13, 2009

I really want to be skeptical about the skills of this dog who can read. I do. But it’s just too awesome. And it makes me think maybe I could teach my cat to read, too . . .

unintentionally funny books

  • About the author EB
  • October 12, 2009

Our lovely associate publisher (you may know her as Book Club Girl) shared this awesome blog with me the other day: Unintentionally Funny Books. And if the title doesn’t explain it well enough for you, I hope this, my favorite book featured, will:


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