April 2010

the classic books we haven’t read

  • About the author EB
  • April 30, 2010

The other day, the office was shocked (shocked!) to discover that Book Club Girl had not read Little Women. But we were also inspired to list the books we haven’t read on the office whiteboard (actually, it was Carrie’s idea. She inspired us.)


As you may or may not be able to see in the upper right hand corner, all participants are required to read these books over the summer and share a book report here on the olive reader. That may or may not happen (though I WILL read P&P). On the other side, there’s a quote from one of our cover designers, Milan:

“I’m an immigrant. I haven’t read any of these.”

Strange but true. I know this question gets asked a lot, but what classics have you never read? Bonus points if you explain why, like with Book Club Girl, it’s especially surprising that you in particular haven’t read that book.

world’s largest bunny

  • About the author EB
  • April 29, 2010

This one’s not in any way book-related, but my desire to rescue this bunny from his clearly loopy owner is so powerful that I had to post:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

where’s waldo as if read by werner herzog

  • About the author EB
  • April 29, 2010

Where’s Waldo is a book, so it’s totally book-related.

einstein, the smallest horse in the world

  • About the author EB
  • April 27, 2010

We should do a book about extremely small animals:

the worst biz jargon ever

  • About the author EB
  • April 26, 2010

In Teddy Wayne’s Kapitoil, the main character, Karim, is a young financial wizard who arrives in New York City from Qatar in 1999. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly the smoothest transition—though it is quite hilarious. Imagine being dropped into your current job from a completely different world. Aside from learning to actually do your job, one of the hardest things might be, as it is for Karim, learning the utterly bizarre business jargon of the corporate world. Just here at Harper Perennial, which is not even as corporate-y as many places, we have mysterious acronyms like POS and ISIS and DAM and CTB. Other examples, used in complete sentences, include:

What will the cost delta be if we’re engaged further?

I’ll be OOP [out of pocket] tomorrow, so if folks on the line have any questions, they should query now.

Do any parts of the project dovetail given the tight timeline?

So, in celebration of both the ridiculousness of corporate America and Kapitoil (and Teddy’s participation in the McSweeney’s reading in LA tonight and his reading in SF on thursday), we’re running a contest! Please comment with the most arcane, absurd, and utterly useless business jargon you’ve ever heard in your office. Make sure to tell us what it means (I can’t decipher some of this stuff on my own). The ones that Teddy and Harper Perennial think are the most bizarre will win their authors signed copies of Kapitoil as well as some other Harper Perennial books to be determined later, as well as a post on this blog extolling their glory. Go to it!

harper perennial on tour: week of april 26

  • About the author EB
  • April 26, 2010

Harper Perennial authors on tour this week:

Teddy Wayne, whose debut novel is Kapitoil

Monday April 26: McSweeney’s 34/The End of Major Combat Operations party / reading with Nick McDonnell / music by the Blasting Company
826 LA East / Stories Books & Cafe (combined location), Los Angeles CA
Thurs April 29: Books Inc Opera Plaza, San Francisco CA

Willy Vlautin, whose newest novel is Lean on Pete

Tues April 27: Powell’s, Portland OR
Weds April 28: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA

Minrose Gwin, whose debut novel is The Queen of Palmyra

Sat May 1: McIntyre’s, Pittsboro NC

bookstore shopping in tokyo

  • About the author EB
  • April 21, 2010

As you may or may not know, I recently returned from a trip to Tokyo. While there, I of course needed to visit some bookstores!

John Grogan representing!

This bookstore, located in Shinbashi, had a small English-language section. The one Harper Perennial book included? Doris Lessing’s Alfred & Emily. Good choice.

Awesome Japanese take on One Hundred Years of Solitude, which we publish here in the states.

Less awesome (in my opinion) Japanese take on Brave New World

A random selection (love that Lolita cover!)

There was also a Japanese dog version of Maus called Waushwitz, but we don’t need to get into that.

Who else feels the need to visit bookstores on vacation no matter where they go?

harper perennial on tour: week of april 20

  • About the author EB
  • April 20, 2010

A day late this week due to my extensive jet lag . . .

Weds, April 21
Willy Vlautin will be promoting Lean on Pete
279 Harvard St Brookline, MA 02446

Sunday, April 25
Zoe Heller will be promoting The Believers
85 East 4th Street New York, NY 10014

The Algonquin Hotel Gets Frenchy with Us; or, From Books to Food and Back Again

  • About the author CS
  • April 14, 2010

Our pals at the Algonquin Hotel (whom we love dearly for having a resident kitty) are teaming up with our reprint of Specialities de la Maison, a charming little French cookbook composed of recipes by noteworthy writers, Hollywood and Broadway celebrities, renowned socialites, royalty—and even a couturier and restaurateur or two, that was originally published in 1940. Starting April 19, the hotel is going to feature a rotation of recipes each week from the book — so it’ll almost be like you’re eating with Katharine Hepburn (Chicken Burgundy Style), Tallulah Bankhead (Southern Fried Chicken), Robert E. Sherwood (Maine Fish Balls), and Charlie Chaplin (Sour Cream Hot Cakes.) To be added to your bucket list accomplishments of drinking with the spirit of Dorothy Parker!

I think I am hoping beyond hope that a recipe will be featured including ‘eau de Poe’, as I think that translation means ‘Poe Water.’ But how fun to say.

To get your rez on, you can channel your inner 1940’s Hollywood bigwig through your rotary phone at 1-866-363-9011, or visit the Algonquin’s website.

advice from a pessimist

  • About the author EB
  • April 07, 2010

Sometimes, we all need a little advice. Ariel Leve, author of the delightfully, realistically pessimist new essay collection It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me, is here to help. (And if you comment with your own questions, next week she could help YOU!)

Dear Ariel,

My best friend just got engaged, and she’s thrilled. But now all she wants to do is talk about her wedding, and she expects me to be just as excited as she is! I’m happy for her, but not THAT happy. What do I do?

-Bridezilla’s BFF

Dear Bridezilla’s BFF,
What’s wrong with your friend? It’s bad enough that all she wants to do is talk about her wedding. On top of that she’s expecting you to match her enthusiasm? There’s something wrong. She’s not really considering the impact her cheerfulness is having on your psyche, is she? Also, consider this: wedding planners exist for a reason. Tell her to call one.

Dear Ariel,
My boss has been acting weird around me lately, and I think I might lose my job. What should I do?

-Fear of Firing

Dear Fear of Firing,
Assume the worst. I know people say don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet but why not? It will motivate you to take precautions. Take steps. For instance, you can begin to practice for what your life will be like when you’re unemployed and poor. Wake up, get out of bed, realize you have nowhere to go and nothing to do, return to bed, and go back to sleep. Test this out on weekends. Also practice in front the mirror how you will say, “Nothing” with dignity for when people ask you what you do. Then imagine them walking away after you say this. Especially if you live in New York City.

I don’t know about you guys, but I would certainly rely on advice from a pessimist when making my life decisions. So remember to comment with your own questions below, and if you like Ariel’s attitude, browse insider her book!

english 101: next month’s pick

  • About the author EB
  • April 06, 2010

News alert: we are switching around the order of the picks for english 101: the harper perennial modern classics book club due to circumstances beyond our control. So, April’s pick will be . . .



An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi’en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.

The timing works out perfectly, since our friends at Harper will be releasing Isabel Allende’s newest hardcover, Island Beneath the Sea, on April 27.

I’ve got five copies of Daughter of Fortune to give away! To win, just tell me why you want to read it. (“Because it’s free” is a totally acceptable response.) Go!

harper perennial on tour: weeks of april 5 and april 12

  • About the author EB
  • April 05, 2010

This week you get two in one, since I’ll be spending next week in Tokyo, far from the Harper Perennial offices!

Tuesday April 6
Malena Watrous will be promoting If You Follow Me
STE 200 1010 El Camino Menlo Park, CA 94025

Weds April 7
Zoe Heller will be promoting The Believers
Joes Pub 425 LAFAYETTE ST New York, NY 10003

Saturday April 10
Malena Watrous will be promoting If You Follow Me
51 Tamal Vista Blvd Corte Madera, CA 94925

Tuesday, April 13
Austin Kleon will be promoting Newspaper Blackout
603 N Lamar Austin, TX 78704

Ariel Leve will be promoting It Could Be Worse, You Could Be Me
163 Court St. Brooklyn, NY 11201

Willy Vlautin will be promoting Lean on Pete
895 East 13th St. Eugene, OR 97403

Jo Nesbo Winners!

  • About the author CS
  • April 02, 2010

Casual Jo wants to congratulate the winners of our fantasy life contest! Now everyone come to the front of the class and share your dreams before we send you your books (which mysteriously have evolved into 5 sets instead of 3… how did that happen?)

Andrew Broussard would be the artistic director of a theater company
Marie would be a jazz singer and hang out with the likes of the Rat Pack
Kristen Crippen would travel the world via Orient Express and steamer ships
Christine would run an animal rescue program and cure the world of pet homelessness!

and perhaps my favorite —

Bartholomew would be an ideas-man rollercoaster visionary/delegator.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contest, and while we’re at it, Happy Good Friday.

my favorite new book trailer

  • About the author EB
  • April 02, 2010

This trailer has convinced me more than ever that the key to a good book trailer is good music:

win stuff! not books!

  • About the author EB
  • April 01, 2010

This is Austin Kleon. Doesn’t he look nice?


This is his book, Newspaper Blackout. Doesn’t it look nice?


In case you can’t read that quote on the cover, it’s “instead of starting with a blank page, poet Austin Kleon grabs the New York Times and a permanent marker and eliminates the words he doesn’t need.” That pretty much sums up Newspaper Blackout. It’s creative, it’s innovative, and it’s fun. We’re publishing it on April 13, but before that, there’s a contest!


The prizes: prints like the one you see above
What you need to do: Preorder Newspaper Blackout, sign up for Austin’s mailing list, reblog Austin’s post on Tumblr, or tweet with the hashtag #newspaperblackout on twitter (or all four!)

With all those ways to win, how can you NOT enter?

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