31 August 2013

Best Books We Read in August (@BookRiot)

Head over to Book Riot for a full roundup of the best books we collectively read in August.  Some really good stuff there. My choice was:
Turtle Diary Russell Hoban Cover

Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban

If a novel starring a used bookshop clerk and a children’s author doesn’t set off your bookish spidey-sense, I don’t know what will. Hoban (himself the renowned children’s author of Bread and Jam for Frances and others) tells this funny but restrained story about two kindred spirits drawn together by sea turtles in the local zoo. Unable to shake the thought that caged life is keeping the turtles from their greater purpose, the two hatch a plot to return the creatures to their natural habitat.  Perhaps foolishly, the two harbor a secret hope that releasing the turtles will also somehow offer an escape from their own lives of quiet desperation. Originally published in the seventies and recently reissued by the New York Review of Books, the premise may sound a tad hokey, but Hoban is a skillful observer of human nature and draws convincing portraits of two people desperate to find purpose amidst the monotony of modern life.

30 August 2013

Not Just Child's Play: A Fall 2013 Picture Book Preview for The Atlantic Wire

from Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick)

This week I had the opportunity to write a picture book preview for the Atlantic Wire.  Luckily for me, there is an incredible slate of books coming out in the next couple of months, so the challenge was really narrowing it down to a digestible list.

Please CLICK HERE to read the full article at the Atlantic Wire.  The article was kind of aimed toward a broader audience, many of whom might not normally think about children's books.  Which means I didn't go into too much depth.  Over the next little bit I might dive in a little deeper for the kidlit aficionados out there, but in the meantime, here is a list (in alphabetical order) of the books that I included, all of which are worth your time and then some.

  • Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli (Abrams, Aug. 6)
  • Animal Opposites by Petr Horacek (Candlewick, Aug. 6)
  • Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illus. by Matthew Myers (Simon & Schuster, Oct. 22)
  • Boxers and Saints by Gene Yuen Lang (Macmillan/Roaring Brook/First Second, Sept. 10)
  • Cozy Classics - Emma by Jack Wang and Holman Wang (Simply Read, Oct. 19)
  • Crabtree by Tucker Nichols and Jon Nichols (McSweeneys/McMullens, Aug. 13)
  • Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin (Random House, Oct. 22)
  • Emma in Paris by Claire Frossard, illus. by Christope Urbain (Enchanted Lion, Nov. 19)
  • Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder (Abrams, Nov. 5)
  • Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, Sept. 3)
  • The Hole by Øyvind Torseter (Enchanted Lion, Sept. 10)
  • Ike's Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley (Candlewick, Aug. 6)
  • Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick, Aug. 6)
  • The Line by Paula Bossio (Kids Can Press, Sept. 1)
  • The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi (Candlewick, Nov. 12)
  • Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little Brown, Sept. 3)
  • Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Clarion, Oct. 1)
  • My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young, illus. by Catia Chien Candlewick, Aug. 6)
  • Rock-a-Bye Room by Susan Meyers, illus. by Amy Bates (Abrams, Oct. 1)
  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, Aug. 27)

13 August 2013

If Famous Authors Read One-Star Reviews of Their Books (@BookRiot)

This post originally appeared on Book Riot.

It seems like every couple months I see a post go around about Amazon one-star reviews of classic books. Recently there was Buzzfeed’s Depressing One Star Reviews of Classic Literature and earlier this year Book Riot’s own Johann Thorsson compiled some doozies in his post on One-Star Reviews of Beloved Books.
Keep ‘em coming, internet. They never disappoint.
Inspired by Jimmy Kimmel’s always funny Celebrities Read Mean Tweets, I thought it’d be fun to imagine these authors reading their own one-star reviews. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but a bad review can really sting, man.
10 Authors Read One Star Reviews James Baldwin
One Star Review of James Baldwin’s GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN


10 Authors Read One Star Reviews Jonathan Franzen
One Star Review of Jonathan Franzen’s FREEDOM

One Star Review of Flannery O'Connor's WISE BLOOD
One Star Review of Flannery O’Connor’s WISE BLOOD

10 Authors Read One Star Reviews Toni Morrison
One Star Review of Toni Morrison’s BELOVED

10 Authors Read One Star Reviews Haruki Murakami
One Star Review of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84

10 Authors Read One Star Reviews Joan Didion
One Star Review of Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING

One Star Review of Ernest Hemingway's THE SUN ALSO RISES
One Star Review of Ernest Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES

10 Authors Read One Star Reviews Junot Diaz

10 Authors Read One Star Reviews JD Salinger
One Star Review of J. D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

04 August 2013

A is for Achebe: Who Makes Your Author Alphabet (@BookRiot)

This post originally appeared on Book Riot.

A is for Achebe
As a newish father, it sometimes feels like the only organizing principle of my world is the alphabet. From books to blocks to magnets to soup, the alphabet has imposed its will and everything around me now automatically categorizes itself, shuffling obediently into its proper place in this efficient 26 character system.
With the alphabet on the brain (seriously, C is for Cookie is playing in my head as I type this) I thought this would be a fun question to throw out to the book-loving community: Who makes it onto your Author Alphabet?
You can use whatever criteria you want. It could be based on first or last name (or with tricky letters like Q and X, just do whatever the heck you need to do). It can have authors you love or ones that you loathe. You can have read their entire works or have never read a single word. You can try to make your alphabet diverse and representative, or you can fill it exclusively with female authors from the Mississippi Delta.
You get the idea. Anything goes.
Now that we’ve established the ground rules (or lack thereof), I’d like to hear from you all: Who makes it onto your Author Alphabet?
Here’s mine:
A: Achebe, Chinua
B: Borges, Jorge Luis
C: Coetzee, J. M.
D: Díaz, Junot
E: Egan, Jennifer
F: Fitzgerald, F. Scott
G: Galeano, Eduardo
H: Hurston, Zora Neale
I: Ishiguro, Kazuo
J: James, E. L. Johnson, Crockett
K: Kincaid, Jamaica
L: Lahiri, Jhumpa
M: Mitchell, David
N: Nabokov, Vladimir
O: O’Connor, Flannery
P: Pamuk, Orhan
Q: Quentin Blake
R: Rowling, J. K.
S: Saunders, George
T: Twain, Mark
U: Updike, John
V: Vonnegut, Kurt
W: Wallace, David Foster
X: Xingjian, Gao
Y: Yoshikawa, Eiji
Z: Zadie Smith

(Warning: Some of the letters force you into really hard decisions whereas others really make you stretch just to come up with a name. The above list is definitely not set in stone and I reserve the right to change my mind often–that’s the beauty of the “anything goes” rule.)