Category Archives: General

BEA 2016 Wrapup

Life has gotten busy the last few weeks, but I was able to spend 36 hours in Chicago last week for BEA 2016. The annual publishing industry conference has been in New York for the last several years, but they decided to move it to Chicago this year to make it easier for booksellers located outside of NY to attend. As a result, there were fewer people, fewer parties, and fewer books at the show, but it was still a good time.

I missed the first half-day, but landed early on Thursday and made it to the conference center before the floor opened. I spent most of Thursday and Friday running around picking up galleys, getting autographs, attending sessions, and generally obsessing over books. Nicole of Readerly and I made a spreadsheet beforehand of the books we wanted and the times they were coming out, so we were pretty organized and got almost all of the books on our list, thanks to some teamwork and coordination.

We also went to a Sourcebooks party at the top of the John Hancock building on Thursday night. The views were unbelievable.

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Here’s my haul.

Adult books:

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Middle grade books:

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I also got new books for my almost 4-year old son from his favorite authors – Carson Ellis, David Shannon and Rosemary Wells. He was very happy when I brought them home for him.

I am most excited about Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony, Brit Bennett’s The Mothers, Noah Hawley’s Before The Fall, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Uaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. (But they all look pretty good.)

All in all, I thought that the quality of the books coming out this fall was very high. Lots of highly anticipated titles from big names as well as debut authors. There wasn’t as much wattage at the show in terms of celebrities, but the books look great. And that’s what we were there for!

So that’s where I’ve been. Over the next few days I have a middle grade book to review, a Curtis Sittenfeld Q&A to post, and hopefully a book (The Heart) to finish.

First Book: 2016

Happy New Year!!

Sheila at Book Journey is continuing her tradition of hosting First Book of the Year: 2016. Click through to see what other people are reading on the first day of 2016.

As for me, I am reading Joyce Maynard’s upcoming novel, Under The Influence. It is one of the saddest books I have read in recent memory, but I am having a hard time putting it down. She is an excellent storyteller. Under The Influence comes out in February and I’ll likely review it later this week.

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Happy reading to everyone in the new year!

2015 Reading Year In Review

2015 was not my best year in reading. Life just got the better of me. My daughters’ bedtimes (too late!) and the proliferation of tempting screens all over the house didn’t help me find more time for reading either. I tend to read in spurts, when I’m out of my routine on vacation and can enjoy guilt-free hours where I am not expected to do other stuff. Work trips when I don’t spring for airplane wi-fi also provide nice pockets of time. But in general, finding time to read is becoming more and more of a challenge. In 2016, I will do better!


I also found myself in reader’s rut a few times. I have so many books surrounding me that sometimes I didn’t know where to turn. I need to be more methodical about reading books that are recommended (and get over my bias against books that everyone else has read and loved). There is so much top quality fiction out there that there’s no need to read mediocre books.

Or maybe the problem is what Hugh McGuire expressed in this San Francisco Chronicle article: I am so addicted to the quick hits of social media and my iPhone that I have lost my ability to concentrate on long form media like books. How depressing is that?!

In 2014, I read 48 books, which I was bummed about because I wanted to hit 50. This year was even worse! I only made it to 44 books. 2016 (again!): I will reach 52! A book a week!

Here are my standout reads from 2015:

Best audiobooks were Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce (read by Scott Aiello) and Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (read by Mozhan Marno).

Most disappointing book: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

Most creative read goes to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

For the last three years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists have been impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2015: refusal to give dying child life-changing treatment, loss of a child, teacher in a coma, disappearing daughter, prison camp, apocalypse due to ravaging flu, infidelity, depression, suicide, the Communist revolution in China, 9/11, death of spouse, oppression of caged animals, plane crashes, Scientology, soulless startup, divorce, post-partum depression, mental illness, murder, adult autism, middle grade autism, rape, death of family in a fire, the whole second half of Fates and Furies, murder/suicide by child, disappearing mothers (x6).

The breakdown:

  • 36 fiction, 8 non-fiction
  • 7 repeat authors during 2014: Ian McEwan, Jane Smiley, Polly Dugan, Judy Blume, Hilary Liftin, Jean Kwok, Eli Gottlieb
  • 12 audiobooks
  • 11 male authors, 33 female authors

How was your 2015 in reading? What were the highlights?

Talking with Robin Kall from “Reading With Robin”

Last Friday, I was on Robin Kall’s “Reading With Robin” radio show. We had a great time talking about Halloween, Fates and Furies, recent fall reads and our plans for BEA this year. Give it a listen! (It’s about 25 minutes.)

Literary Fiction for Summer

I have a post in the most recent issue of Readerly Magazine about some rewarding literary fiction picks for summer. If you’re looking for something substantive, you might enjoy these books from some of my favorite authors.

Disappearing Kids in Fiction

I have a blog post up today at Readerly about the theme of disappearing kids, and why it’s so common in literary fiction. Check it out!

Summer Reading: A Crowdsourced Recommendation List

Summer is already a few weeks in, so I am a little behind, but here is a list of summer reading suggestions collected from my Facebook friends and people who follow the EDIWTB Facebook page. There’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction, new and not-as-new, and even some YA and poetry thrown in. Wherever I’ve read the book that was recommended, I’ve linked to my review too.

Enjoy, and happy summer reading!

Fiction

All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

Big Little Lies and The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Liane Moriarty (see my reviews of other Moriarty books What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret)

The Circle, Dave Eggars

Attachments, Rainbow Rowell

A God In Ruins, Kate Atkinson

Elena Ferrante’s Naples series, starting with My Brilliant Friend

The Sound Of Glass, Karen White

The House of Hawthorne, Erika Robuck

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

The Shore, Sara Taylor

The Collected Stories, Breece D’J Pancake

The Sunlit Night, Rebecca Dinerstein

Movie Star By Lizzie Pepper, Hilary Liftin (on sale 7/21) 

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli 

The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin

Some Luck and Early Warning, Jane Smiley (reviewed here and here)

The Girl On The Train, Paula Hawkins (reviewed here)

The Children Act, Ian McEwan (reviewed here)

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

The Narrow Road To The Deep North, Richard Flanagan

Euphoria, Lily King

The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (reviewed here)

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Redeployment, Phil Klay (reviewed here)

Fourth Of July Creek, Smith Henderson

Beach Town, Mary Kay Andrews

Summer Secrets, Jane Green

The Daddy Diaries, Joshua Braff

The Cake Therapist, Judith Fertig

Girl Of My Dreams, Peter Davis

The Secret Of Magic, Deborah Johnson

A Court Of Thorns And Roses, Sarah Maas

Star Craving Mad, Elise Miller (out 8/4)

Nonfiction

Destiny Of The Republic: A Tale Of Madness, Medicine And The Murder Of A President, Candice Millard

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania, Erik Larson

The Skies Belong To Us: Love And Terror In The Golden Age Of Hijacking, Brendan Koerner

All The Truth Is Out, Matt Bai

The Real Thing: Lessons On Love And Life From A Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, Ellen McCarthy

Paper Love: Searching For The Girl My Grandfather Left Behind: Sarah Wildman – non-fiction

An Invisible Thread: The True Story Of An 11-Year-Old Panhandler, A Busy Sales Executive, And An Unlikely Meeting with Destiny, Laura Schroff

The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo (reviewed here)

Devil In The Grove: Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, And The Dawn Of A New America, Gilbert King

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip, Peter Hessler

The Three-Day Promise, Donald Chung

Young Adult

I’ll Give You The Sun, Jandy Nelson

The Stellow Project – Shari Becker

One Thing Stolen, Beth Kephart

 

Poetry

The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Jeannine Hall Gailey

Ohio Violence, Alison Stine

Banned For Life, Arlene Ang

Vessel, Parneshia Jones

Classics

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Peyton Place, Grace Metalious

The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury

The Age Of Innocence, Edith Wharton