November 2010

thanksgiving book report

  • About the author EB
  • November 30, 2010

As you may recall if you’re a regular reader of this blog, before Thanksgiving I asked for suggestions on what book to read over the holiday. The clear winner was Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, with nearly double the votes of its nearest competitors, Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad (which our marketing director, Amy, took home over Thanksgiving instead.)

The praise for Never Let Me Go poured out of people, and so I eagerly opened it on the bus to Rhode Island. And it was good . . . and that’s it. I enjoyed reading it, it held my attention on the bus ride (always a feat for any book), I was inspired to go back to it the next day, and I added the movie to my netflix queue, but if I saw it on someone’s TBR shelf, it’s not the book I would insist he or she read.

In a way, it reminded me of my reaction to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: a book that I enjoyed reading, but not nearly as much as everyone else did (particularly Carrie Kania, our publisher, who may fire me now that I’ve basically said that one of her favorite books is “good.”) It’s possible that my reactions to both these books were affected by reading them years after they were first published; maybe if I had felt that sense of discovery, I would have been more invested in them.

What books have you found to be just okay that everyone else you know went nuts for? And I’m not just talking about huge hits like The Help; I’d love to hear what lesser-known book all your friends love and you’re very “meh” about.

thanksgiving literary idol, or, what should erica read over thanksgiving?

  • About the author EB
  • November 22, 2010

I have a rule about holidays and vacations, and that rule is that I don’t do any work reading. This Thanksgiving, though, I’ll be breaking my rule to read Wally Lamb’s Wishin’ and Hopin’ for our blog talk radio show on December 2. I’ll also be bringing a twitter friend’s manuscript in progress (we met at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn and agreed to exchange manuscripts, and I am very much looking forward to reading hers.)

In all likelihood, I won’t get to more than three books over the weekend (though I will probably bring four just in case.) Which makes my next selection all the more special, and yet I can’t seem to make up my mind. So I ask you, olive reader readers, to make the choice for me. Below are pictures of my TBR shelf. I removed any work books from it, so everything is a possibility. I promise to bring whatever book gets the most votes to the fine state of Rhode Island with me this weekend! So help!




bloggers’ favorite chains!

  • About the author EB
  • November 22, 2010

In my most recent pitch email to bloggers, I decided to add a fun category to the google form that I ask people to fill out with their requests. I did this to make filling out the form a little less dry but also mostly to amuse myself, and I made answering the question optional. Believe it or not, the question was not about cats. Instead, I asked people to name their favorite chain restaurants. I thought about making a fancy graph or chart to show the results, but let’s face it, I do have actual work to do, so instead you get this very nice list:

The Favorite Chain Restaurants of Book Bloggers Who Requested Copies of The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, Hating Olivia, and Crossing the Heart of Africa:

Ankar’s Hoagies
Burger King
Cheeburger Cheeburger!!!
Cheesecake Factory (four votes!)
Chili’s (four votes!)
Chipotle (six votes!)
Five Guys
Flying Burrito
Giordano’s Pizza
Golden Palace
Grill Fire
Joe’s Crab Shack
Macaroni Grill (three votes)
Olive Garden (seven votes!)
Outback Steakhouse
P.F. Changs
Panera Bread (four votes!)
Phillip’s Seafood
Pizza Express (two votes)
Pizza Hut
Red Lobster (two votes)
Red Robin
Ruby Tuesday (two votes)
Taco Bell (three votes)
Texas Roadhouse
Wendy’s (three votes)

And the winner is . . . Olive Garden! Not my fave, but a worthy choice. This list also highlighted many chains I have never, ever heard of: Amerigo, Ankar’s Hoagies, Flying Burrito, Giordano’s Pizza, Golden Palace, Grill Fire, Joe’s Crab Shack, Licks, Mimi’s, Phillip’s Seafood, Pizza Express, and Viena. Any of those any good?

happy friday cat videos

  • About the author EB
  • November 19, 2010

I have a new obsession: the sweetfurx4 youtube channel.

I was first introduced to this youtube channel when I saw this video of a persian cat dressed as a banana split eating a banana:

But this cat, Cooper, isn’t the only animal in the sweetfurx4 family. There are four cats—one of whom is named Pancake!—and two dogs. And over the past week they have each made my brain explode from cuteness at least once.

Here’s one that features one of the dogs:

Happy Friday!

e-readers! a newbie’s view

  • About the author EB
  • November 16, 2010

I now have an e-reader. It’s a Sony that was bestowed upon me by the benevolent harpercollins gods after I made my case that it would help me read manuscripts even faster than I already do. I’m not much of an early adopter when it comes to technology, and if I didn’t work in publishing, you’d probably see me getting one sometime ten or twenty years from now.

Here are the reasons I was reluctant to get one:

1. I like reading books. Why mess with a good thing?
2. I have terrible luck with gadgets. I dropped my phone in the toilet just days after getting it.
3. I stare at screens all day. Would I really want to stare at a screen on the train and at home too?

And now . . . it might be just a little too soon to tell, but I think I’m a convert! Right now I’m reading Sex at Dawn, which we’re publishing in paperback next summer, and I’m liking it for the following reasons:

1. It’s a hardcover, and it’s way easier on my back and shoulders to carry an e-reader.
2. It’s a harper book, which means I wouldn’t have had to buy it anyway, which means I didn’t have to make any decisions about where to buy e-books.

I don’t know that I’ll read paperbacks on it, but for hardcovers (and of course for manuscripts), I think I’m sold. What about you? Do you read different types of books on your e-reader? Do you want one for Christmas? Will you never, ever get one?

reliable authors

  • About the author EB
  • November 15, 2010

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):

Louise Erdrich
Tana French
Kate Atkinson
Isabel Allende (only read two of her books, but she’s on her way to making the list)

kate gosselin loves harper perennial!

  • About the author EB
  • November 09, 2010

Here is the evidence of Kate Gosselin’s imprint love from this week’s Life & Style:


Kate, if you’re having money trouble, paperbacks are the way to go.

this year’s olive editions

  • About the author EB
  • November 08, 2010

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!

cats reading books

  • About the author EB
  • November 04, 2010

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!




Feel free to link to more in the comments!

read this next!

  • About the author EB
  • November 02, 2010

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?

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