Category Archives: General

Book Expo 2018 Wrapup

Earlier this month, I attended Book Expo 2018 in New York City. As always, the two-day conference was jam-packed with author signings, book giveaways, industry panels and lots and lots of walking. Here are my impressions of the show and some highlights of the books I picked up while I was there.

First, the show seems to shrink every year – smaller booths and fewer people. The lines were long, but they didn’t seem as insane as in previous years. This is probably due to the evolving publishing industry and smaller marketing budgets. Second,there weren’t any standout celebrity author signings. I saw the Michelle Obama book cover but no Michelle Obama. Overall the wattage seemed a little dimmer than in previous years.

Also, there were lots of memoirs and fiction dealing with difficult, of-the-moment issues like race, poverty, loss and addiction. These themes are getting a lot of attention and seem to be hitting a chord. I saw fewer light, women’s fiction-y books, and fewer lifestyle titles.

OK, onto the books. The first session I went to was the Editor’s Buzz Books 2018, which is where editors submit the book they are most excited about, and out of many submissions, a panel chooses the 6 they want to highlight. This event happened the day before BookExpo, and it was packed. Here are the 6 Buzz Books selected:

  • Maid by Stephanie Land (Hachette Books; December 26, 2018) – nonfiction about a single mother working as a maid to make ends meet while living under the poverty line
  • Ohio by Stephen Markley (Simon & Schuster; August 21, 2018) – novel set in post-industrial, post-9/11 Rust Belt about four former classmates returning to their hometown
  • She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore (Graywolf Press; September 11, 2018) – a novel telling Liberia’s history through three different characters
  • Small Animals by Kim Brooks (Flatiron Books; August 21, 2018) – non-fiction exploration of “fearful parenting”
  • The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (Ecco; September 11, 2018) – the real-life kidnapping story on which Vladimir Nabokov based his famous novel
  • There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald (Riverhead Books; October 2, 2018) – a coming of age story dealing with race and class and the new American dream

I also attended the annual Book Blogger Speed Dating session, where publicists rotate to tables and pitch their books to bloggers and book clubs. That’s where almost a third of my books came from.

Here are photos of my book haul. There are a lot! Under each pic, I’ll note the ones I am most excited to read.

That Kind Of Mother by Rumaan Alam is our next book club pick. Vox by Christina Dalcher looks dystopian and disturbing, a la The Handmaid’s Tale. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is picking up steam too (see Ron Charles’ review from today here).

Sold On A Monday by Kristina McMorris is historical fiction set during the Depression. The Martin Chronicles by John Fried is a coming-of-age story told from a boy’s perspective in 80s Manhattan.

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood is a novel retelling the same kidnapping story that Lolita is based on. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is a murder mystery with an element of Groundhog Day thrown in.

Left by Mary Hogan is a novel about a woman slowly losing her husband to dementia. A Cloud In The Shape Of A Girl by Jean Thompson is a multi-generational family saga about three women living in a small college town.

I’m very excited to read The Dreamers, written by Karen Thompson Walker, who wrote The Age Of Miracles (reviewed here). Gone So Long is the latest novel from Andre Dubus III, and his first book in a decade. (He won the award for friendliest and chattiest author at BookExpo.)

I have it on good authority that Gary Shtegyngart is extremely entertaining, so I am hoping to get to Lake Success soon. The Other Woman by Sandie Jones also looks really good – there’s a menacing Other Woman in the picture, but this time it’s a mother-in-law.

Unsheltered is a new Barbara Kingsolver (I haven’t read her for decades). Ordinary People by Diana Evans follows two London couples facing stress in their marriage.

There There by Tommy Orange got a glowing review from Ron Charles in The Washington Post the day before I got to BookExpo. Cherry by Nico Walker is a tough novel set in the opioid crisis.

In The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon, a suburban family contends with a missing father after a terrorist attack in New York City.

Now here are the memoirs I picked up. Notably, ones from Steve Jobs’ daughter; Megan Mulally and Nick Offerman; the mother of an opioid addict; and a grieving daughter.

Here’s the non-fiction pile:

A few YA titles I picked up for my daughters:

And a few extras: a graphic novel and a teaser for a Nutcracker popup book.

I didn’t include the board books/middle grade fiction that I got for my son and his elementary school library, but there are some pretty cute books in that pile.

Whew! Long post, lots of books. Let me know if there are any you want more information about!

 

First Book 2018

Every year on January 1, Sheila at Book Journey hosts First Book at her blog. She posts photos of readers from around the world and the books that they are starting off reading in the new year. Check out her blog today to see the photos that people have sent in and what everyone else is excited to read.

Here is my first book of 2018: The Leavers by Lisa Ko. It has been on my TBR since it came out and I’ve moved it up to the top of the list.

To all of my EDIWTB readers: Happy new year!! I hope it’s a happy and healthy one, filled with lots of books and time to read them.

2017 Reading Year In Review

I made it! I read 52 books this year, same as last year. That was my goal, and despite falling way behind in March, I managed to catch up. Here is my 2017 Reading Year in Review.

I did stick to my resolution of reading only books I wanted to read this year. They weren’t always great, but I chose them for no reason other than that I wanted to read that particular book at that time. My mother-daughter book club ended after 7 years, but I started a new adult book club this fall, and we’ve gotten two books under our belt so far.

Next year, my goal is to read more non-fiction. I read only 3 this year. Next year I am going to try to get to 10.

Here are my standout reads from 2017:

Best audiobooks were What Happened (read by Hillary Rodham Clinton), Stay With Me (read by Adjoa Andoh), Our Short History (read by Karen White) and Perfect Little World (read by Therese Plummer).

Most disappointing book: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.

Most creative read goes to Every Day by David Levithan.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2017: WWII, orphans, cults, killing a lover, high school, giving up children, incarceration (especially when wrongly accused), terminal cancer, Indian reservation, death of sibling, horrible husband, drug addiction by parent, wife beaten into coma, the whole book 1984, horribly abusive mother, children lost in South America, racism, infertility, technology run amok, THE 2016 ELECTION, dead spouses, communicating with dead people, dog maiming, middle school. (This list seems actually less depressing than in previous years!)

The breakdown:

  • 49 fiction, 3 non-fiction (ugh!)
  • 14 repeat authors during 2017: Sarah Dunn, Jami Attenberg, Lauren Grodstein, Anita Shreve, Curtis Sittenfeld, Carolyn Parkhurst, Caroline Leavitt, Ann Hood, Catherine Heiny, Tom Perotta, Siobhan Fallon, Celeste Ng, Michelle Richmond, Sarah Pekkanen
  • 19 audiobooks
  • 13 male authors, 39 female authors

How was your 2017 in reading? What were the highlights?

2017 Summer Reading List

One day before the last day of spring… and here is the annual EDIWTB Crowdsourced Summer Reading List! I asked my Facebook community to recommend their favorite books from the past year, and once again, they didn’t disappoint. Here’s the what they came up with.

I’ve put ** next to those that were recommended by more than one person. When it’s a book I’ve read too, I’ve included a link to my EDIWTB review.

The Library At Mt. Char by Scott Hawkins

The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor

**The Girls by Emma Cline (reviewed here)

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

**Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (reviewed here)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

**The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

**Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (reviewed here)

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

**News Of The World by Paulette Jiles

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

**The Nix by Nathan Hill

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

**Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (reviewed here)

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The End Of Eddy by Edouard Louis

The Girls In The Garden by Lisa Jewell

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

**A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Untangled by Lisa Damour

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Marlena by Julie Buntin

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Sapiens and Homo Deus by Yuval Harari

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

**My Name Is Lucy Barton (reviewed here) and **Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

**The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal (reviewed here)

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

**When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

**A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry and Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi

Golden Son/Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

**Kitchens Of The Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (reviewed here)

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

Crazy Rich Asians and Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Elena Ferranta Neopolitan Series

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

**Before The Fall by Noah Hawley (reviewed here)

The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee (reviewed here)

The Improbability Of Love by Hannah Rothschild

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve (reviewed here)

**City On Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

What The Lady Wants by Renee Rosen

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

The Secret History Of  Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

The Imagination Gap by Brian Reich

Heat And Light by Jennifer Haigh

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

**Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff (reviewed here)

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close (reviewed here)

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill

4-3-2-1 by Paul Auster

Kill Process by William Hertling

**A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

Love, Africa by Jeffrey Gettleman

The Shape Of Mercy and Secrets Of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

The Marriage Of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (reviewed here)

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (reviewed here)

**Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (reviewed here)

City Of Thieves by David Benioff (reviewed here)

**Under The Influence by Joyce Maynard (reviewed here)

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan (reviewed here)

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (reviewed here)

Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson (reviewed here)

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

The Book Of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea by Barbara Demick

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics And The Sterilization Of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen

Sons And Daughters Of Ease And Plenty by Ramona Ausubel

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Beautician’s Notebook by Anne Barnhill

Louise’s War by Sarah Shaber

The Darcy Monologues by Joana Starnes & others

Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

Will Your Way Back by James Osborne

 

Happy Summer Reading! Report back and let me know what you picked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My BEA Haul

Amazingly, my 2 huge, heavy boxes from BEA showed up on Monday, just one business day after I packed them up in NY. I couldn’t believe it. I finally unpacked them today and took photos of the haul. I tried to be judicious this year, but as you can see, I didn’t succeed.

Here they are!

Fiction (mostly):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction/cookbooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YA:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids’ books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there they are. I am most excited about some of the fiction titles, including:

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perotta

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by Hendrik Groen

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks

But I am sure there will be a lot of surprises and hidden gems as well.

June Is Audiobook Month Blog Tour and Giveaway

It’s June! My favorite month because of the long days, the glorious weather, and the promise of summer ahead. It’s also Audiobook Month, the annual celebration of all things related to audiobooks.

I’ve been very vocal here on EDIWTB about my love of audiobooks. I got hooked when I started listening about 8 years ago. I always have an audiobook going in the car, and listening has not only allowed me to add many more books to my list each year, but it has given me a whole new appreciation for the genre. I am obsessed with audiobooks – how they are cast, produced and performed. Writing this blog has luckily given me the opportunity to get to know some narrators, and I think they are some of the coolest people on the planet.

So I was very excited when I was asked to participate in a blog tour for June Is Audiobook Month. First, check out five awesome audiobooks below, if you’re looking for a new listen. Second, check out the other posts in the tour, which will continue throughout June with many more audiobook recommendations from other bloggers. And finally, leave me a comment below with the name of a favorite audiobook to enter into a contest to win an awesome giveaway: three free downloads from Audiobooks.com and a pair of headphones!

5 recent audiobooks that I loved:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal is my favorite book so far of 2017, and the audio was just as good as the print. Authentic Minnesotan accents and empathetic narration beautifully matched this treasure of a book. I recommend it to anyone who will listen to me! Give it a try on audio. Narrators: Amy Ryan and Michael Struhlbarg.

The Risen by Ron Rash. This is a haunting story, simply and beautifully told, and the audio version is just perfect. The narrator wonderfully captured the troubled, dreamy Southern protagonist and brought this story to life. It’s a short listen and totally worth it. Narrator: Richard Ferrone.

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters. Don’t confuse this book with Underground Railroad, which came out at the same time. This one imagines a United States where slavery was never abolished. It’s a thought-provoking, dystopian thriller performed by an excellent narrator who expertly conveyed a wide range of emotion. Narrator: William DeMerritt.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. I thought the narration of this unforgettable Iraq War novel was just perfect. So many accents, emotions, sound effects – all nailed by the audio. I didn’t love the women’s voices, but that’s a minor quibble. Pick this one up. Narrator: Oliver Wymer.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. If you haven’t read this book yet, give it a try on audio. The narration of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning World War II novel is calm and even, despite its many tense and horrific moments. The audio is long, but it goes quickly as the suspense ratchets up. Narrator: Zach Appelman.

Leave me a comment below with your favorite audiobook to be entered into the contest, and be sure to check out the other blog posts on the tour!

Podcast: Memorial Day Weekend New Releases

I am a little behind on reviews – have two to write. I’ve been reading, just not reviewing! Soon to come: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt.

If you’re looking for new books for Memorial Day weekend, Nicole and I have a brand new Readerly podcast out with lots of irresistible new releases. Check it out (and if you like what you hear, please subscribe and/or leave us a review!)

 

Catching Up On The Readerly Report

Nicole Bonia and I have increased the frequency of our Readerly Report podcast episodes… have you checked the show out recently? Last week we posted an episode about the most disturbing books we’ve ever read, and each month we also discuss new releases that have caught our eye and books we’ve recently finished. Please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and if you like what you hear, leave us a review. If you have ideas for future episodes, we’d love to hear those too!

Thanks, and happy listening!

First Book 2017

My first read of 2017 is one that I didn’t get to last year, despite being written by one of my favorite authors: Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh. Check out Book Journey to see what other people are reading on this first day of 2017.

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2016 Reading Year In Review

I made it! Finally, I read 52 books in one year. That was my goal, and despite a serious post-election slump, I managed to get there. Here is my 2017 Reading Year in Review.

9780307268129I read a lot of great books, and a lot of forgettable ones too. (If only we had the hindsight of a wrap-up post to know which books would fall into which camp BEFORE starting them.) I worked hard to overcome the draw of the iPhone and really focus on reading whenever I could – no easy feat. Listening to audiobooks definitely helped get my numbers up, thanks to a longer commute starting last March and the ability to listen on my iPhone instead of only in the car.

My goal for 2017: reach 52 again, and read only books I want to read for no other reason than because I am in the mood for them (with the exception of mother-daughter book club books). No guilt!

In 2016, as usual, I tended toward fiction over non-fiction and women writers over men. Some things never change.

Here are my standout reads from 2016:

Best audiobooks were The Risen (read by Richard Ferrone); After You (read by Anna Acton); Not Dead Yet (read by Phil Collins), Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (read by Oliver Wymer) and Underground Airlines (read by William DeMerritt).

Most disappointing book: The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton.

Most creative read goes to Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters.

For the last several years, I have tracked the Depressing Themes of the books I read, and the lists are always impressive. Here are some of the depressing subjects covered by the books I read in 2016: the plight of poor white America, murder, divorcing parents, alcoholism, the challenge of raising autistic children, death of a brother, unrequited love, car accidents, Brooklyn ennui, the Holocaust, the collapse of the real estate market, dead husbands, miscarriage, dystopia, the Iraq war, PTSD, evil psychopath husbands, cancer, plane crash, slavery, cadaver organ donation, death of best friend, infidelity, Chinese orphanage, emotionally distant parents, kidnapped children, loss of custody. Phew.

The breakdown:

  • 45 fiction, 7 non-fiction
  • 13 repeat authors during 2014: Joyce Maynard, Jane Smiley, Elizabeth Strout, Curtis Sittenfeld, JoJo Moyes, Emma Straub, Jennifer Close, Carolyn Parkhurst, Ann Patchett, Noah Hawley, Jane Hamilton, Leah Stewart and Marcy Dermansky.
  • 19 audiobooks
  • 14 male authors, 38 female authors

How was your 2016 in reading? What were the highlights?