Author Archive

Wednesday, June 5th, 2024

Author Interview: Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard

LibraryThing is pleased to present our interview with author Joyce Maynard, whose bestselling 1998 memoir, At Home in the World—a subject of controversy in some quarters due to its exposé of the author’s brief relationship with the reclusive J.D. Salinger—has been translated into sixteen languages. An earlier memoir, the 1973 Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties, was Maynard’s book debut. She would go on to pen three other works of nonfiction and twelve novels. Two of her novels, To Die For (1992) and Labor Day (2009) have been made into films—the 1995 To Die For starring Nicole Kidman, and the 2013 Labor Day starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslett. From 1984 to 1990, Maynard was also the author of the syndicated column Domestic Affairs, and she has contributed articles and reviews to numerous publications. Her 2021 novel, Count the Ways, described by Joyce Carol Oates as a “fearlessly candid, heartrendingly forthright examination of the joys and terrors of family life,” won the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine (American Literature Grand Prize). How the Light Gets In, Maynard’s thirteenth novel, and the sequel to Count the Ways, is due out from William Morrow later on this month. She sat down with Abigail to answer some questions about her new book.

How the Light Gets In is a departure for you, in that it is the first sequel you have written and published. Did you always mean to write two books about your main character and her family, or did you find, upon finishing Count the Ways, that there was more to tell? Does writing a sequel differ from writing a stand-alone novel, and was there anything particularly challenging or enjoyable about it?

When I wrote Count the Ways, I never envisioned it as the first of two novels. I imagined, when I reached the last page of that novel, that I would have to say goodbye to the characters in that story. (This is always hard, by the way. My characters become so real to me, over the course of writing a novel, that when I reach the end, I miss them. Even the problematic ones.)

But after Count the Ways was published, I heard from so many readers who wanted to know what happened next. Many expressed concern—even anger—that the main character of Count the Ways, Eleanor, seemed to have spent her entire adult life sacrificing herself for everyone else and putting her own needs last. They wanted to know: When did it get to be Eleanor’s turn?

I thought long and hard about this. As a woman–exactly the same age as Eleanor, and one who has grappled with that same question—I wanted to see Eleanor reach a new stage in her life, as I have in mine, where she is finally able to ask the question “What do I want… for my own life?” And she is finally able to let go of feeling that her role in life is to look after everyone else.

I spent a whole year just thinking about what kind of next chapters I wanted to give to Eleanor. I didn’t begin to write How the Light Gets In until I had a clear sense of what would make a satisfying resolution for this woman I had come to know so well. Almost as well as I know myself.

Of course she encounters many challenges in the new novel. Some very grave. But her perspective has changed with the passage of time. She’s not trying to fix everybody’s problems any more. She knows she can’t do that. She’s made her peace with imperfection. That’s why I gave this new novel the title I did. It comes from a song by Leonard Cohen, with the line, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

This new story is about learning to embrace the messy, difficult, sometimes painful cracks in our lives. And finding beauty in them.

As for the challenges of writing a sequel: I wanted to make sure, as I wrote this book, that a reader would not have to have read Count the Ways to read and appreciate this one. (Of course I recommend that a reader begin with the earlier novel. But it’s definitely not a prerequisite for understanding this one.)

What was challenging: Keeping track of all those different characters—the members of Eleanor’s family, and others—over the passage of time. But I loved that too. I got to spend more time with some characters I love, chief among them Toby, Eleanor’s youngest son, brain injured at age 5. He’s in his late thirties when the new novel opens, and grows into his forties. I love Toby so much. I wanted good things for him. I wanted him to find love. It wasn’t easy, imagining where that might come from.

Between the two books, you cover some fifty years in the life of one family—a life played out against the backdrop of public events. In How the Light Gets In this includes climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the events of January 6th. What connection, if any, do these events have to the lives of your characters? Are they simply the backdrop against which more personal crises unfold, an influence on your characters and their choices, or perhaps some kind of parallel to individual experience?

To me, there was no way to write about the years from 2010 to 2024 without making reference to what was going on in our country at the time. I could no more set a novel in the Trump years—and their aftermath—than I could set a novel in France or Germany in the late 1930’s and early 40’s and not mention World War 2.

I write about relationships, families, what happens in kitchens and living rooms and bedrooms—and at the edge of a waterfall, or a small town bowling alley, or in a school where kids learn to be fearful that a kid with an AK 15 might walk into their classroom. In my mind, there is no way to separate what happens in those places, from what’s going on in our country and the world. I’m not getting on a soapbox when I write, offering my political opinions. I’m trying to portray life in the United States of America as ordinary people live it.

Your book has been described as a family saga, one that addresses “the new American family.” What does this mean to you? What distinguishes the new American family from the old, and what does your story say about the role of family in our lives?

When I was growing up—in a household of many secrets and troubles as well as much creative inspiration—I took my definition of “a happy family” from what I saw on television. Mother/ father, kids. Nobody worried about a father getting drunk, or the mother suffering from depression, or one of the kids addicted to drugs. No divorce. No money problems. No struggles with gender identity.

I carried that picture into my own adult life. When I was divorced from my children’s father, at age 35, I was viewed, the term for where I lived with my children was “a broken home.” At the time my marriage ended, I was supporting our family writing a syndicated newspaper column about raising children, being a parent. Almost half the newspapers who had been running that column chose to drop it, once I announced the divorce. “Joyce Maynard is no longer qualified to write about family life,” one editor at a major newspaper wrote to my newspaper syndicate.

Over the years, my definition of “family” has evolved considerably. So has our national perception, I think. A family can be two women, or two men, or a single parent and her children. Sometimes we make our own families, that have nothing to do with blood connection.

I still know myself to be a person who cares deeply and passionately about “family”. But I know now, there is no one picture of what constitutes a family. And more than one way to be part of “a happy family”. And no such thing as a perfectly happy family, either. What I strive for these days is to accept my flaws and failures, as I do those of others around me. Being part of a family requires compassion and forgiveness. Not perfection.

You have written two memoirs over the course of your career, and have spent time reflecting on the events of your own life. Did your personal life story provide any inspiration when writing about Eleanor and her family?

I want to make this very plain: Eleanor is not me. She’s a fictional character. But I’d be lying if I pretended that her story wasn’t hugely informed by my own experiences of parenthood, love, loss, divorce, and its aftermath. I’ve also been the beneficiary of a huge gift over the years, which has come from nearly thirty years I’ve spent hosting memoir workshops for women.

Hundreds of women—well over a thousand, in fact—have trusted me with their most intimate and often painful stories, over the years. Those are private. I don’t divulge what women tell me in my memoir workshops, unless they specifically grant me the right to do so. But I have learned as much about women’s lives in those workshops as the women have learned, about writing. I carry the stories of those women with me every day of my life. They are always with me when I write.

The figure of the mother is central to both of these books, even when she is missing from the family circle, or estranged from her children. What does your story have to say about the role of the mother? What does a mother owe to her children, and what does she owe to herself?

There’s a chapter in How the Light Gets In called “The Definition of a Good Mother”, in which Eleanor strives to answer the question, “what is a good mother?” And tackles the impossibility of ever being good enough. (In case you want to take a look, it’s on page 259 of my book. I’m pretty sure that when I travel around the country, giving readings and talking about this new novel of mine, I’ll read a few paragraphs from that chapter.)

I could say so much about this question, of what a mother owes her children, and what she owes herself. In many ways, I think this entire novel stands as my attempt to answer those two questions. What I’ll say here, to keep it simple, is that there may be no greater gift a mother can give her children than the model of a woman who—along with providing them loving care, nurturing and attention—also values and respects and cares for herself.

When a mother fails to do those things—when she sacrifices everything for her children—sooner or later she finds herself in Crazyland. (Read Count the Ways and How the Light Gets In and you’ll understand what I mean).

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

Plenty of fiction of course. But also: Art books. Poetry. Children’s books. Books of classic photography. Books about US history. And my collection of the Sears Christmas Catalogue from around 1960 to 1969. Among other things…

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

In honor of Alice Munro, a writer I revered—and one whose work always instructs me—I am trying to reread as many of her short stories as I can this summer. (Last summer I did the same with the short stories of Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus II.)

Labels: author interview, interview

Monday, June 3rd, 2024

June 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the June 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 194 books this month, and a grand total of 3,777 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Tuesday, June 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Meddling with MistletoeThe Blooming of DelphiniumThey Were Good Germans Once: A MemoirDecade of Disunion: How Massachusetts and South Carolina Led the Way to Civil War, 1849-1861Disgusting Critters: A Creepy Crawly CollectionThe Dishonest Miss TakeBane of the WitchThe Thing About My UncleGeneration RetaliationThe Ballad of Falling RockRAPilates: Body and Mind Conditioning in the Digital AgeFalse IdolsHidden FurySaved by the MatchmakerBy Evening's LightOthered: Finding Belonging with the God Who Pursues the Hurt, Harmed, and MarginalizedWhen I Look at the Sky, All I See Are StarsReady for True Love: The Modern Guide for Ladies, Gents, Daters and CouplesMist and Moonbeams: Stories from the Great Lakes EdgeRight Hand of the ResistanceSeenThe Heir of VenusThe Paris Cooking SchoolSleep TightAfter OzProphet's DeathMe, My Father and I: Normandy to Hamburg: A Tankies StoryVoices Carry: A Story of Teaching, Transitions, & TruthsThe AwakeningThe Nonprofit Dilemma: Insights & Strategies for Purpose-Driven LeadersThe Path of RevengeStrong Songs of the Dead: The Pagan Rites of Sacred HarpStructured Madness: New Poems in Traditional FormatsVictors: A Novel of Love, War and JazzSome Things Aren't Meant to BeIn a Flash 2024Fourteen StonesPlease Don't Talk to MeA Life in TalesBlackheart ManNew & Selected PoemsCan Robots Love God and Be Saved? A Journalist Reports on FaithUSS Primis: The First StarshipTechnical Analysis Basics: Stock Market ChartsDon't Want to Be Your MonsterLockjawSomething MoreTo the One I LoveAnimals RisingThe CaricaturistThe Secret BeautifulShardsBusiness Communication Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowTaken by His SwordHealing Magic & PlayboysA Bowl of Friends: Friends Are ForeverDark HeartMy Specific Awe and Wonder: PoemsWhere is Ana Amara?The Righteous ArrowsReady for True Love: The Modern Guide for Ladies, Gents, Daters & CouplesDenial and ExclusionThe Grocer Who Sold McCarthyism: The Rise and Fall of Anti-Communist Crusader Laurence A. JohnsonA Curse for SamhainCatch a CowboySequins, Scandals & Salchows: Figure Skating in the 1980sFarewell PerformanceArtificial WisdomGoode Vibrations of the Wresting PlaceThe WastelanderQuest for SurvivalOne Random Act of ViolenceSpace Cats: Making EnemiesSpace Cats: Making EnemiesKatharine's Remarkable Road TripThe Merchant of Venus: The Life of Walter Thornton: A Trailblazer in Modeling, Advertising, WWII Pin-Up Girls, and Shaping Future Stars of Hollywood's Golden AgeShe Serves the RealmDraw A Hard LineA Quality ManThe First Quarter: Turning Twenty-Five Is a Milestone, But the Journey Is So Much MoreFeral Creatures of SuburbiaPilgrim: Volume 1Lady Cosa Nostra: Victoria's SecretsOut of the Water: The Epic of MosesBurned Over! The Surivival of Montana Firefighter Dan SteffensenWalking with the Good Samaritan: Servant Leadership For A New EraFalling in FlamesThe Fear of FireSparks Fly, Tempers FlareBehind the Wheel TipsUntil The Cold Is GentleThe Snow GamesThe Christmas ProofMemory and BoneUgliestDance Daughters of the Most High!: Amazing Stories of Long Overlooked and Underappreciated Women in the Old TestamentTale of the Unlikely PrinceThe Rabboni: The Lost Mission Journals of St. MatthewGetting to Know YouMaejSomething about LizzyHarriet's EscapeTranquila: A Doctor-Mom Attempts Slow Life in SpainIn Love With Him AgainTrickstersEmergent MarsMissing Monarchy: What Americans Get Wrong About Monarchy, Democracy, Feudalism, and LibertyScarlet and SapphireA Thousand Thousand Petty Phrases: A Collection of Sonnetsbliss is a fitter muse than miseryTree of TruthTable for Two: A Collection of StoriesThe Night Garden: Of My MotherFundamental Mechanics of the Human Thinking MindHelp! My Room Exploded: How to Simplify Your Home to Reduce ADHD SymptomsGilded LiesCremation VacationThanks for Stopping ByParachutes Not IncludedIn Search Of The Perfect Buzz: An 80s Metal MemoirWaxwing CreekCinnamon BeachFinancial Fun from A-ZThe Gift of Journaling: Writing as a Path to DiscoveryEating Our Way Through American History: Pairing Historic Sites With Tasty Bites in and Around PhiladelphiaThe Phoenix and the FirebirdPink EyeThe AcquaintanceTheir Unlikely ProtectorCasey and Parker Find A Forever FamilyWedding BanditsThe Genetic UniverseBudding Lotus in the West: Buddhism from an Immigrant's Feminist PerspectiveI Know You DoCoco Lost in MiamiLifelong Fulfillment: Take Charge of Your Life!The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady IsovarThe Recipient of SecretsOswegatchie Save MeBody on Ice: A Vermont Murder MysteryKeeper of Lost LovesMommy Needs a Minute: From Burnout to EmpowermentGirl Meets Horse: An Easy Introduction to Horse Care and Riding for Kids and TweensDead EgyptiansWhen It All Falls DownHogs Head StewStone CreekGhosts of History: The Temple of AoddaFlames and Frying PansKat GirlHow to Pass Your FAA Part 107 Pilot ExamBetwixt Ice and EmbersThe Sea and other bullshit: Second Edition Revised and UncensoredSonya: Music of the SpheresFrom Young To Wise: The Philosopher's Fallacy and How to Avoid ItFestive Mayhem 4God Unlimited: Why We Believe in GodSonya: Far FutureThe Spy Prince Of BasadeshMIND GAME ChallengeCupcakes Everywhere: One Sweet Tale of Overcoming InfertilityMetavilleFinding the PastThe Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Starting Your Own BusinessFavorite Things: The Far IslandElven BloodSong for Susie EppA Good WomanEffortless Menopause for the Savvy Woman: Simple Science-Backed Solutions For Hot Flashes, Mood Swings, Vaginal Dryness, and More, to Restore Physical & Mental VitalityShorter Than The DayPigs Have WingsLast Day at DyatloveMass ExodusA Curse of Scales & FeathersThe Respian ManSpliced UpKyd's GameTruth HurtsA Dark and Cozy NightHis Two Hidden MasksGambaTough RocksMaplecroftThe Titan CrownWorld's Abyss: A Journey of Exuviation and RebirthRise of the NemesisRexCity Zoo: An Unfairy StoryBlood RougeThe ReentrantMercyThe Reluctant MessiahWinx Thinks - Dinosaurs!Brown vs White

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

5 AM Publishing Akashic Books Alcove Press
Aquarius Press Baker Books Bellevue Literary Press
Bethany House BHC Press Blue Cedar Press
Chestnut Heights Publishing Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press
CMU Press Crooked Lane Books DarkLit Press
Delphinium Books eSpec Books Grey Sun Press
Highlander Press Hot Tree Publishing Köehler Books
LaPuerta Books and Media Love Moderne Milford Books LLC
Owl Club Media Group PublishNation Purple Diamond Press, Inc
The Ravens Quoth Press Revell Rootstock Publishing
Simon & Schuster Toodat Fiction Treasure Bay Books
Tundra Books Tuxtails Publishing, LLC Underworld Amusements
Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Author Interview: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author Eileen Garvin, whose 2021 novel, The Music of the Bees, was a national bestseller, receiving accolades from the Christian Science Monitor, People Magazine, LibraryReads, IndieNext, and many more. Garvin made her debut in 2010 with her memoir, How to Be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism, and her essays have been published in The Oregonian,, and Creative Non-Fiction Magazine, and featured on the Mom’s Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast. Her second novel, Crow Talk, which addresses themes of friendship, hope and healing, all while set in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, was published by Dutton at the end of April.

The natural world plays an important role in Crow Talk, which features three people who have withdrawn to a rural retreat in order to nurse their wounds. What role does nature play in your story, and why did you choose the specific setting you did?

In Crow Talk, nature is meant to be a healing source for my three main characters—Frankie, Anne, and Aiden. I chose to set the story at June Lake—a fictional place—because I’ve always personally drawn solace from the natural world. When I was a child, our family lake cabin was a place of respite for all of us. As an adult I continue to be comforted and energized by woods, water, mountains, and trails. I believe nature is a powerful force.

How did the idea for your story come to you? You’re an amateur beekeeper, which must in some way have influenced the story you told in The Music of the Bees. Do you have a similar connection to crows, or to other corvine species?

Yes, my own beekeeping helped me write The Music of the Bees. While writing the book, I knew early on that my characters would get to know each other through beekeeping. I completed my Master Beekeeper Apprentice certification while I was revising the novel. I don’t have any similar hands-on experience with crows or other birds, but I’m an avid birdwatcher. I love watching the birds in my yard and in the woods around town. I also love to listen to birds and can often more easily identify them through their songs and calls than how they look. This is especially fun during migration, when an old favorite arrives in town, like the varied thrush and the robin.

The idea for Crow Talk came to me during the pandemic. All the trails in my hometown were
shut down and I was longing for the woods. I was able to make a trip back to the family place I mentioned earlier. When I arrived, I felt such relief at being alone and outside under the trees. That’s when I first got this idea—what if I took three wounded people and put them in a setting like the one I loved so much? How might the natural beauty of that place help them connect and heal?

What makes crows and other corvids so special? Did you have to do any research for that aspect of the story, and if so, what is the most interesting thing you learned?

Crows and other corvids are so smart and so interesting! While researching this book, I learned many things. For example, crows can recognize human faces. This means they recall those who have helped them as well as people who have not been so nice—for years! I learned that crows love to play and have been documented doing things like surfing the air on pieces of wood, sliding on snow, and riding an updraft just for fun. They use tools and are incredibly mischievous—teasing dogs and stealing things like windshield wiper blade, cigarettes, lit candles from shrines, cups of coffee. I loved reading about how they care for sick and injured family members too. The books of corvid expert John M. Marzluff were hugely helpful. So were books by Sy Montgomery, Helen MacDonald, and Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

One of your characters is an Irish musician. Are you fond of traditional Irish music? Do you have any favorite performers or pieces of music? (full disclosure: some of my own favorites in this vein include Altan, The Bothy Band, Karan Casey, and the sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird)

Yes, I’m a big fan of traditional Irish music as well as Celtic music in general. I grew up listening to the Thistle and Shamrock and singing older ballads—Irish, Scottish, and English. My great-grandparents were Irish immigrants and everyone in my family sings, though none of us has formal training. Big fan of Altan (Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh—what a voice!), and I love Kevin Burke’s fiddle playing. I think he plays with The Bothy Band sometimes.

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. Is there a particular way you work, a specific spot where you like to write? Do you have the story mapped out in your mind before you begin?

Since I wrote my first book, my process has been fairly consistent. I have small office in the (darkest, coldest) corner of the house. I get up early, make coffee, and start working on whatever project I have underway. Any new writing happens in these first hours. I can revise and answer emails later, but the creative stuff happens early or not at all.

I write all the way through a first draft and never have the story mapped out before I start. When I wrote my memoir, I had loads of old memories and stories, but no sense of how they would hang together. When I wrote my first novel, the opening sentence just came to me when I was in the car one day. With Crow Talk, I got the idea for the setting first—a remote alpine lake—and then the characters came along. It’s been different each time and always a leap of faith.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

My shelves are a mix of poetry, memoir, fiction, and children’s books. I collect fairytales and children’s books—usually those that involve magical animals. I also have a collection of old novels that were my grandmother’s—Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Frances Hodgson Burnett. I cringe now to think how’d I drag those lovely old books up into the woods to read when I was a kid! But I also love that the family culture was “Read! Read everything, anywhere, all the time!”

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

Some recent favorites include the memoir by Scottish comedian Fern Brady called Strong Female Character (featuring her adult diagnosis with autism), James by Percival Everett (a reimagining of The Adventures Huckleberry Finn from Jim’s point of view), and Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama (in which he introduces the poems of others in a similar way that he employs on his wonderful podcast Poetry Unbound).

Labels: author interview, interview

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

May 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the May 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 174 books this month, and a grand total of 3,527 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Tuesday, May 28th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Between the Sound and SeaCounting Bones: Anatomy of Love Lost and FoundBuns Gone BadFuneral Songs for Dying GirlsJuris Ex MachinaThe Big StingThe Space Between You and MeHard LineDocile: Memoirs of a Not-So-Perfect Asian GirlThe Green Baby SwingI'm Afraid, Said the LeafMegabat MegastarOnce upon a SariYour Story Matters: A Surprisingly Practical Guide to WritingThe After Life Meddlers ClubToo Much Too Young, The 2 Tone Records Story: Rude Boys, Racism, and the Soundtrack of a GenerationCocoa the Tour DogA Choice ConsideredMeet Me at the StarlightMeeting Her MatchCold VengeanceWorld War II and Nevada: The Silver State's Contribution to VictoryEchoes of the Divine and Other Steampunk StoriesCamouflage Mom: A Military Story about Staying ConnectedMexicanos HustleThe Shield of the VanirHerman NatureDwarf DaysA Lie for a LieHow to Build a Thriving Marriage As You Care for Children with DisabilitiesRe: Apotheosis - GenesisThe Caterpillar HotelBeyond Words: A Symphony of Passion and ActionReignite The EmbersThe Golden One: A ComedySkull Kingdoms: An Imaginary OmnibusLinesYou Can't Go Home AgainHiding PlacesOf Blood and LightningThe Navigator: PoemsBig Guy: A School Horse StorySolsticeThe Devil's BerriesAnastasia And The Nuclear IncidentHow to Be in BusinessPre-Pulitzer PoetryLet's Run Our Schools TogetherTo Make the SkySwinging Away: A CelebrationBlack Like ElvisFor the Downfall of My Beloved: Volume 1An Introduction to PhilosophyThis Kind of Man: StoriesSavagesA Husband's Take on the Menopause!Laura: Finding Independence in the Highlands of KenyaThe Hedge WitchElephant and CastleHow Children Grieve: What Adults Miss, and What They Can Do to HelpThe Rogue Scholar: The Rogue To VictoryThe Arctic Corsair, Through Hull's Sacred Gates40 Years of MiraclesAlyssa's WishesWildcat: An Appalachian RomanceInto the UnknownA Horse Called NowSky Explorer: A Young Adventurer's Guide to the Sky by Day and NightAfter Dinner Conversation - Nature of RealityAfter Dinner Conversation - Equality EthicsTrue Crime Storytime: 84 Unforgettable & Twisted True Crime Cases Throughout History That Haunted People For DecadesIndia's Road to Transformation: Why Leadership MattersThe KlangarooReady for True Love: The Modern Guide for Ladies, Gents, Daters and CouplesA Thousand Faces: Volume 1Who is Amy Carpenter?HestherSong of Myself: A Gay Man's Odyssey of Self-DiscoveryTrailer Park PrinceNot Without MeThe Black Bird of ChernobylMirror ImageBecoming Brave Together: Heroic, Extraordinary Caregiving Stories from Mothers Hidden in Plain SightPresenters Aren’t Robots: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Fearless and Engaging Public SpeakerThe Corpse in the Trash RoomAlone | All In One: A Solitary JourneyThe Pearl that Lies in the Sea: A Story & A CovenantFinding HomeThe Sigils of the MoorAfter the Game: Bridging the Gap from Winning Athlete to Thriving EntrepreneurFinding Footprints: A Sasquatch SagaThe StatesDraw A Hard LineLearning to Shine: A Guide to Unlocking Your PurposeSonya: Far FutureThe Fink Needed KillingThe Shadow of the Langham HotelSonya: Music of the SpheresFrom Young To Wise: The Philosopher's Fallacy and How to Avoid ItThe Lost Women of Mill StreetLast Day in DyatloveCompanion Planting for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide to Growing a Thriving and Sustainable Garden.Soul Masters: The Hunting GroundsSteady in LoveThere Are No Bibles in Heaven: Walk and Talk with God All the Time, Just like You Will in HeavenThe ReentrantThe Magic Sea TurtleShorter Than The DayJasmineHandcrafted Lunch Meats: A DIY Guide to Delicious, Healthy, and Affordable Creations In Your KitchenChoo! Choo! Choo!: The Train at the ZooThe Fae CrisisSpace Cats: Making EnemiesHeartfeltCo-Parenting With a NarcissistThe Tale of the Little Lonely HedgehogScream of SilenceDebriefing DarlyFarewell PerformanceHunting a Cat in DogtownJourney of SoulsThe AI That Feared DeathShattered by FaithPinch HittingDating Tips for Women: Finding Love the Feline Way with Advice From CatsThe Palestine MuseumTito's Coconut TreeThe Year I Lived TwiceGod Unlimited: Why We Believe in GodThe Magic of DelusionLectures on Weird Fiction: Volume 1Nothing Short of OddThe WastelanderScorched: Burn Me Once...The Black Heart Of BudapestSonya: Fast HorsesUnfix MeThe Pelican TideArtificial WisdomPilots Dawn 2024Under WaterThe Respian ManThe Heir of the DynastyTrue Crime Trivia 3: Test Your Knowledge of Serial Killers, Unsolved Mysteries, Infamous Crimes, Hoaxes & More with 250 Chilling & Fascinating Quiz QuestionsTrue Crime Trivia 3: Test Your Knowledge of Serial Killers, Unsolved Mysteries, Infamous Crimes, Hoaxes & More with 250 Chilling & Fascinating Quiz QuestionsThe Powell ExpeditionsTricked by LoveStolen Introductions!Escaping CircumstancesThe Mad King and the False QueenSpindleheart: Trail of Shadow and SpoolMy Enemy, My PrinceJundiHow To Talk To Your Spirit Guides In Ten Simple Steps: Connect With Your Spiritual Guidance to Receive Unconditional Love, Protection and Support in All Areas of Your LifeThe Refrigerator GhostBio Marty Vita: Life Life LifeThe Dawn of DarknessPhelan's GoldShadow Work Journal & Adult Coloring Book: Unveil Your Inner Strength, Find Peace Through Animal Wisdom And Experience True Transformation Through Art Therapy, Reflection, And AffirmationsThe Phantom EnforcerSilver HeartsThe Legendary Mo SetoMIND GAME ChallengeJeza's Jesus Juice: A Drag Queen's Christian DevotionalSong for Susie EppHide and BeMy Brother, MyselfThese Cruel WatchersPride and PerjuryMoose and the Math FairyWanted Millionaire Spiritual, But Not Religious: 101 Dating Red Flags For The Wise WomanHaimaTruth HurtsEver The Same

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

After Dinner Conversation Inc Akashic Books Alcove Press
Baker Books BDA Publishing Beit Eshel Publications
Bell Jar Books Bethany House Big Ideas Library
Bywater Books Cardinal Rule Press City Owl Press
Fawkes Press Gilded Orange Books Grass Valley Publishers, LLC
Greenleaf Book Group Harbor Lane Books, LLC. HB Publishing House
Highlander Press Hot Tree Publishing IngramSpark
Islandport Press Legacy Books Press Love Moderne
Magpie Publishers NeWest Press Nosy Crow US
Paper Phoenix Press Personville Press Pixie Ink Press
PublishNation Purple Diamond Press, Inc Revell
Rootstock Publishing Sattva Publishing Inc Simon & Schuster
Three Rooms Press Tiny Ghost Press Toodat Fiction
True Crime Seven Tundra Books Tuxtails Publishing, LLC
University of Nevada Press Unsolicited Press Vibrant Publishers
Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, April 19th, 2024

Come Join the TinyCat Birthday Hunt!

April 8th was TinyCat’s eighth birthday, and we’re celebrating with a special catcentric TinyCat Birthday Treasure Hunt!

We’ve scattered a clowder of TinyCats around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a TinyCat. Each clue points to a specific page right here on LibraryThing. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a TinyCat on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have a little less than two weeks to find all the TinyCats (until 11:59pm EST, Tuesday April 30th).
  • Come brag about your clowder of TinyCats (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two TinyCats will be
    awarded a heart badge Badge ().
  • Members who find all 15 TinyCats will be entered into a drawing for some LibraryThing or TinyCat swag. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

P.S. Thanks to conceptDawg for the catbird illustration!

Labels: treasure hunt

Friday, April 5th, 2024

Author Interview: Chad Corrie

Chad Corrie

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author Chad Corrie, whose published work ranges across a variety of genres and forms, from comic books and graphic novels to fantasy fiction. His epic fantasy series for adults, The Wizard King Trilogy, was published in 2020 and 2021 by Dark Horse Comics, which also published The Shadow Regent in 2023, as well as his recent graphic novel, Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard, a 2023 Foreword Indie Award finalist in the Graphic Novel & Comics category. As the Sparrow Flies, the first in Corrie’s new young adult dystopian series, Sojourners’ Saga, is due out from Dark Horse in May.

Set in a dying world, As the Sparrow Flies is a dystopian fantasy with a twist, featuring two young protagonists who must find a way to survive or escape their world, rather than save it. Is this important? Were you simply interested in writing a survival story, or was there a deeper message there, about how the individual might respond to harsh circumstances and apocalyptic events?

A major impetus for Sojourners’ Saga was the desire to do something new. At the time I started writing the series I was working on finishing up more epic fantasy tales with these massive story universes and there was an appeal to actually having a series where the world was dying and things were bleak—a near complete opposite of what I was doing with this other work at the time. Person vs. nature also wasn’t a story type I’d yet explored, further sweetening the pot.

And it would be fair to say I was intrigued with the idea of seeing how I’d be able to write something more survival-based in general. It wasn’t so much an initial theme or concept that drove me to it, just the idea of exploring something different. The idea of fleeing the danger rather than trying to correct it was also something different and a bit of a challenge to myself, I guess, to see what was possible.

Dystopian fiction has become very popular over the last few decades. Why do you think that is? Does it offer something to readers that other kinds of fiction do not?

Dystopian fiction has indeed had a long history from 1984 and Brave New World—and even before that with some of the pulp speculative fiction from the early 20th century, etc. Recent years have seen something different in terms of the intended audience for many of these tales—that is many of the dystopian tales from the last couple decades having a definite YA bent or focus.

This allows for the theme of the younger generation rising up to combat/correct the corruption/failure of the previous generation(s) as well as the classic coming of age tale in a world/place that is far from ideal. The fact that these newer tales were written initially by Gen X authors who already had some skepticism to things and didn’t trust authority or authority figures in general, probably only aided their creation. Add in various challenges from concerns over climate, fear of having less/being worse off than the previous generation, etc. and it only adds more fuel to the fire.

And while I’m Gen X myself, this wasn’t the sort of path I ended up going for Sojourners’ Saga. As you said, the protagonists know they can’t save their world and so have to find alternatives to survival, which end up taking them down very different paths, which soon enough will cause problems and internal crises of belief in said ideas and ideals, not to mention issues and challenges with remaining population groups.

As to what dystopian fiction offers the reader, oddly enough it’s hope. As no matter how bad something is portrayed in a story we can usually step back and say, “maybe we don’t have things as bad as some think, as it could be much worse than this…” And, in most cases (but not all) there’s a silver lining to those dark dystopian clouds. The heroes triumph, the world is improved, etc. And in that, I suppose, it can inspire the reader to not give up hope and look for ways to make the world a brighter place—at least in their own sphere of influence.

What was the inspiration for your book? Did it start with a story idea, a character, or something else altogether?

I usually get “scenes” or “flavors” that inspire me to write a story. Often I’ll view something in my mind’s eye that’s really just like watching a movie. The whole scene will play out and serve as either the foundation or inspiration for some tale. Other times I’ll get ideas for different flavors of a story that would make an interesting mix. Perhaps something like Vikings mixed with anthropomorphic squirrels, which led to the the creation of the Sons of Ashgard graphic novel, for example.

With the Sojourners’ Saga series the desire mainly was to do something different than what I had been doing before, which as I previously mentioned, was more epic fantasy fare. Going from a massively epic setting to something more apocalyptic and human-centric was also a first for me. I was curious to explore a story and world that only had humans as the main population, rather than a roster of varied beings and beasts.

It was only later as I was in the midst of the process that I finally understood the story was supposed to be YA, which was also a few steps removed from what I had been doing before. This would later inform more of how things would be organized by chapter and POV, and actually was an interesting learning experience that forced me to think and re-think things through in ways I might not have if I was writing a more strictly adult story.

This book is a departure for you, in terms of the intended audience and the story type. Were there challenges, or things you particularly enjoyed about writing for a young adult audience? Was there anything different about your writing and storytelling process, in light of the fact that this world was less magical, less fantastic, than some of the others of which you have written?

Obviously, I can’t speak to everyone who writes YA, but for myself I had to consider just what was the best way to convey something that made sense to a younger character’s mind who may or may not have all the additional reference and context that older people would from years of lived experience.

As I said previously, it really had me stopping and considering things in some new ways, and ultimately had me going through and re-writing whole chapters and scenes as I came to better understand Elliott and Sarah, our two main protagonists. Additionally it allowed me to have some fun with the older characters and scenes with more nuance and other elements that older readers will notice: subtle ways things are said, how they come across to the younger character(s), etc.

As far as challenges to the world building, the biggest challenge was in realizing that I’d still have to craft a pretty detailed history and culture for various people even if the world—and the populous by extension—is crumbling around them. I had foolishly thought in the beginning that because things are going to be on their last legs, as it were, it wasn’t really important to get too much into the history and background of things. But I didn’t get too far into the process before realizing I’d been mistaken.

I had to take some time off writing to build the world—crafting things that most folks won’t ever see or know—so I’d have a solid foundation upon which to rest the story. So no matter how much I had tried to get around it the present, it turns out, is very much predicated on the past. That said, I did manage to get in some of that history and background in each of the books in the way of appendices readers can explore if they’re seeking more context and background to certain aspects of the world and/or story.

It was refreshing to get something more “low fantasy” in the mix too. In some ways it made for some more interesting stories as you can’t just have them zap something with a spell or laser to save the day. There’s a level of grit and reality that permeates the narrative space I found intriguing and added some interesting parameters and feeling to the tale.

As the Sparrow Flies is the first in a trilogy. Can you give us any hints about what’s coming next, in the Sojourners’ Saga?

First off, the entire series has been written. I tend to write the whole series of a work before I submit it to publishers. That way we all know what we’re getting into and it allows me a chance to go back and better align the tale so it flows smoothly from beginning to end. Having it finished also helps with readers, many of whom can be leery about approaching a new series. If they know it’s finished from the get go it’s less of a risk in giving it their consideration.

In the two remaining novels (each to be released in May over the next two years) Sarah and Elliott will come to face their beliefs about themselves and what they previously held so dear while also trying to stay alive long enough to reach some perceived better place for them as both their personal worlds along with the planet unravel around them.

There will be action, exploration of more of the world and its history, as well as a bonding between these two unlikely persons who come to see more of the truth that has so long eluded them and others of the world all these years. And, ultimately, there will be some interesting answers and developments that unfold—for both reader and characters alike.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

Not as much as there used to be. Since I’m always working on something—world building, writing, etc.—I haven’t read as much for pleasure as I used to, usually focusing on more non-fiction topics tied to business or writing or other areas I’m seeking to explore for creating worlds, making websites, or something else I’m engaged in at the present.

That said, some recent titles I’ve been able to squeeze in are the new Calvin and Hobbes collection that came out last year, picking up some of the latest Conan comics—Conan the Barbarian Vol. 1, Conan the Barbarian Vol. 2, Conan the Barbarian by Jim Zub Vol. 1—from Marvel before they went to Titan Comics for their new editions, Blood of the Serpent by S.M. Stirling, and the two latest Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Dragons of Deceit, Dragons of Fate). Next on my TBR pile is Winter’s Song: A Hymn to the North by T.D. Mishchke, which talks about winters in the Midwest.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

While I think those with a fantasy-bent to their reading preferences might enjoy the above-mentioned titles, over the years I’ve found myself revisiting some of Robert E. Howard’s writing on occasion. In particular, I’ve rather enjoyed exploring his other characters outside of Conan such as El Borak, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, and Kull.

Now granted, these stories might not be everyone’s cup of tea and some are better than others, but two tales really have stood out to me over the years for different reasons: The Screaming Skull of Silence and The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune.

Both are Kull stories and are rather short, but just have something that inspired me in various ways with my own writing and world building, I guess. But they also, I now realize, are rather part of a dystopian flavor that permeate a good deal of Howard’s work—especially with his Kull stories, which feature a character who was literally ruling over an empire and people in decline. So, in a way, I guess you could argue that these stories (with many others over the years) helped provide some of the initial ideas and atmosphere for Sojourners’ Saga, bringing us neatly full circle to where we started with this interview…

Labels: author interview, interview

Monday, April 1st, 2024

April 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the April 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 175 books this month, and a grand total of 3,614 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Thursday, April 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Until Our Time ComesWhat Does Little Crocodile Say at the Birthday Party?Roy Is Not a DogThe Hypnotic Tales of Rafael SabatiniFair Shake: Women and the Fight to Build a Just EconomyThe Book Censor's LibraryHow the Light Gets InTo & FroBuster: A DogRain Breaks No BonesThe Hudson CollectionBorn of Gilded MountainsRocky Mountain JourneyToward the DawnSetting His CapAfter Dinner Conversation - Crimes & PunishmentsAfter Dinner Conversation - BioethicsWhite Dove, Tell MeNo Charity in the Wilderness: PoemsThe Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing WithoutThe Ghost of Ravenswood HallThe Overlanding Vehicle Builder's GuideQuarter-Mile Corvettes 1953-1975: The History of Chevrolet's Sports Car at the Drag StripBlood and WaterBummer at Luna BeachThe Rising Tides of Beru1988: A Poetic Diary of a Wrexham AuthorThis Kind of Man: StoriesHearts on Thin IceKnee Deep in MurderSo Now I Get It: The Miracle of Soul-Centred CounsellingTimeslayersMétis Like MeAnd Then There Was UsMile End Kids Stories: Colette, Albert and MayaShineFerren and the Doomsday MissionGiant Trouble: The Mystery of the Magic BeansShe Lived UnknownGirls NightBe Kind Always - In All WaysAll Who Believed: A Memoir of Life in the Twelve TribesMarcelo, Martello, MarshmallowThe Secret Candy DrawerL. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 40From Sweetgrass BridgeThe Pheeworker's OathA Tale of Friendship and Health / Una historia de amistad y saludHow to Align the StarsThree Hearts Stitched: Poems about AdoptionInsolventAll the Animals Were SleepingDrawn from LifeThe Search: A Story about a JourneyThe Last LeviathanA Kingdom of Souls and ShadowsThe Other Side of the MirrorSadie Does Not Like SorriesThe Neighbors' SecretI Sleep Around: The Humorous Memoir of a Nomadic WriterA Book Club's Guide to Murder & MayhemBound Across TimeThe Ghost of Loon LakeSocial Media Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowData Analytics Essentials You Always Wanted to Know (2024)The Dinosaur and MeAn Orphan of the LightThe Poppy FieldA Dry Heat: Collected StoriesETA: The Trial of Logan GruverPhelan's GoldThe Anti-Semite Next Door?Kip's Funny Little FeetRed PinesHomeland InsecurityRVMirror ImageA Perfectly Good Fantasy: A MemoirA Perfectly Good Fantasy: A MemoirCensorship from Plato to Social Media: The Complexity of Social Media's Content Regulation and Moderation PracticesJameson Rescues His Best FriendSpliced UpThe Witch HouseThe Demon and the WitchCloser to HomePrey for the DevilJundiVincent's Women: The Untold Story of the Loves of Vincent Van GoghYou're Not Your Job: Going Above and Beyond for YourselfSaviour of BabylonThe Arrival100 Places You'll Find in Heaven: A Non-Biblically Accurate Guide to the AfterlifeUnveiling 11 Relationship Styles: Secrets Nobody Told You: Reinventing Dating and Friendship Apps: Insights from Evolution, Science, and PsychologyRun Away to MarsThe Returnप्रोफेसर साहब : प्रेम, प्रतीक्षा और परीक्षाTalk With the Moon: Silence Between StarsBio Marty Vita: Life Life LifeWant Do Get: A Screenwriter's ManualSpillageThe Pig Patrol: Adventure in SpaceAnxious GirlThe Sun Stone & The Hybrid PrinceDaddy's Little StrangerFamous People Around The World: Learn About Their Personal Life, Career, Legacy, Interesting Stories and Much More (Volume 01A)The Next Run: A UC Berkeley Student’s Rise to Major Pot SmugglerWhat Grows From the DeadInfinitudeEverything No One Tells You about Parenting a Disabled Child: Your Guide to the Essential Systems, Services, and SupportsBreaking Free: Stop Holding Back, Start Being You: Your Guide to Creating the Career & Life of Your DreamsSummoned by the Earth: Becoming a Holy Vessel for Healing Our WorldEarth and Soul: Reconnecting Amid Climate ChaosJudOnce We Were WitchesI'd Rather Be Dead Than Deaf: A Young Woman's Journey With Liver CancerI’m Tired, Not Lazy: Recharge Your Life With The Power of AcceptanceUnder the SkinOlivia Cole and the Legend of the Silver SeedAnvil of GodShelby’s Season of SurpriseTarnished PilgrimSmoke and LightThoughts & Tangents: Musings on Life, Society, and SelfShelby Becomes a Horse GirlSpindleheart: Trail of Shadow and SpoolThe Phantom EnforcerThe Northwest DeceptionUnder Far Galaxian SkiesStone Feather FangSiPEli Elephant Works Through Emotions: Practicing Kindness Along the WayThe Peppercorn Tree and Other Australian PoemsFrannie: Memoir of a FriendshipThe Invisible WarThe Four QueensProof of Life After Death: True Stories of the Afterlife & Spirit CommunicationMilk Before MeatShadow Work Journal & Adult Coloring Book: Unveil Your Inner Strength, Find Peace Through Animal Wisdom And Experience True Transformation Through Art Therapy, Reflection, And AffirmationsThe Guardians of KawtsAlley of Scented RosesFaythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial AmericaGabriel's Tooth Fairy TaleEmergent MarsCreamRascalNovaMIND GAMELeft Wing, Right Wing, People, and Power: The Core Dynamics of Political ActionA Chef on Ice: Living and Working As a Chef in AntarcticaWhy AI? Is Smartest... Is Dangerous... Is DivineBright College Years: (or, If That's Not Life)The Great Escape of Goddess Innana: A Law of Attraction Troubleshooting GuideThe Smooth Fulfillment of the SoulThe Alchemical Book of LilithThe Heron LegacySoundbite with SherlockThe Cultist's WifeAn Element of MagicThe Unbroken QueenPresenters Aren’t Robots: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Fearless and Engaging Public SpeakerThe Infinet DirectivesSinta, Sorceress-DetectiveThe Bear's Black JawAstrology in the Era of Uncertainty: An Astropoetic Exploration of Psyche and CosmosFrom Hitler to Here: The Dolores Wieland StorySonya: Fast HorsesYour True Self Is Enough: Lessons Learned on My Journey Parenting a Child with AutismWhen Nothing is Going Your Way: A Guide to Thriving Through Tough TimesSomething GainedThe Art of Job Hunting: A Dramedy in VerseDave and the Love GunPlease DO NOT GO To ParisGhosts of History: The Temple of AoddaBest Little Marriage Handbook: A Powerhouse Of Great Discussions - The Love Behaviors & 8 Safe Communication Skills That Make Great MarriagesThe Prince of Oregon

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

After Dinner Conversation Inc Akashic Books Alcove Press
Babbly Bellevue Literary Press Bethany House
Bumpity Boulevard Press CarTech Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC
City Owl Press Edufrienz 99 Egret Lake Books
eSpec Books EverImagine Books Galaxy Press
Grand Canyon Press Grousable Books Harbor Lane Books, LLC.
HB Publishing House Hot Tree Publishing IFWG Publishing International
Literary Wanderlust LLC Mirror World Publishing Nosy Crow US
PublishNation Purple Diamond Press, Inc Restless Books
Revell Rootstock Publishing Simon & Schuster
Tapioca Stories Themes & Settings in Fiction Press Tiny Ghost Press
Tundra Books University of Nevada Press Unsolicited Press
Vibrant Publishers William Morrow

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, March 18th, 2024

Translator Interview: Karen Emmerich

Karen Emmerich

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with award-winning translator and scholar Karen Emmerich, an associate professor of comparative literature at Princeton University whose focus is on modern Greek literature and on the theory and practice of translation. Her 2017 study, Literary Translation and the Making of Originals, examines translation as a process which goes beyond the transmission of an original work from one language to another, one which transforms and expands the work into its new language. Her own translations include Good Will Come From the Sea by Christos Ikonomou (2018), Before Lyricism by Eleni Vakalo (2016), The Scapegoat by Sofia Nikolaidou (2015), and Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amánda Michalopoulou (2014), among many others, and she has been the recipient of translation grants and awards from the NEA, PEN, and the Modern Greek Studies Association. In 2019 she won the National Translation Award for What’s Left of the Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos. Emmerich’s new translation of Alki Zei’s 1963 novel, The Wildcat Behind Glass, which follows the story of a family in 1930s Greece that is torn apart by the rise of fascism, and which is considered one of the classics of modern Greek children’s literature, is due out this coming May from Restless Books.

Before we get to issues of translation, talk to us as a reader. What was your reaction when you first read The Wildcat Behind Glass? What makes Alki Zei’s story so powerful that her book has become a classic?

I first read the novel many years ago, as part of my research for a different translation: Amanda Michalopoulou’s Why I Killed My Best Friend, which tells the coming-of-age story of two young girls in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s who are growing into their friendship and also into lives of leftist political engagement. Alki Zei’s The Wildcat Behind Glass, written in the 1960s and set in 1936, is a key point of reference for the two girls in their political awakening. So from the start I understood Zei’s book not only as part of a tradition of politically engaged literature for children, but also as a widely-read “classic” with the power to shape children’s experiences of their current realities. I immediately fell in love with The Wildcat Behind Glass, and I’ve been wanting to translate it ever since.

Zei’s novel has so many things to recommend it: crisp, engaging writing; a story that pulls you in and keeps you moving in unexpected directions; compelling characters; and social and political commentary that feels incredibly important in our current moment, which is witnessing such a distressing erosion of democratic structures. For me, a book for young readers dealing with the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s felt like an important project to undertake.

Can you describe your translation process? Imagine you’re speaking to someone who has never translated a sentence in their life before. Where do you start, and how do you proceed?

I always read a book through a few times first. Then I sit with it for a while and try to think about what kinds of other texts I want my translation to be in dialogue with, and what kinds of readers I hope will find their way to it. What kinds of conversations do I want the book contribute to? What different readerships will it touch? How can I best serve those readers and conversations with my translation? I find that it helps if I imagine really specific readers—actual people I know in the world.

When I have a sense of these general goals, I sit down with the book propped on a bookstand beside me and just dig in. I try to translate all the way through a text as quickly as I can, not worrying too much about the specific choices of particular words or phrases—I’m mostly trying to get a feel for the language I’m going to be using in the translation, the register, the tone, the pacing, the rhythm. Then I revise. All of my translations go through many, many, many drafts. For much of the time, I put away the Greek and focus on the English, trying to make it the best version of itself that I can. Then I pull the Greek back out and make sure I’m keeping my text aligned with what I think the Greek is doing, both in local choices and in overall approach.

Toward the end of the process, I always bring in other readers to let me know how the translation lands with them. With this translation, I was very lucky to get to share the book with a few of my (undergraduate and graduate) students, as well as with my daughter (5 at the time), my nephews (7 and 9), and a friend’s daughter (12), all of whom gave me fantastic feedback about some of my translation choices—feedback I then incorporated during further rounds of edits. It was very exciting to be able to do that, since they were some of the readers I was imagining when I first set out to translate the book.

Most of the books you have previously translated are works of literature for adults. Are there differences between working on a children’s book and working on one for adults, issues that need to be considered when translating for a juvenile audience?

First of all, I would say that I hope this book is widely read by readers of all ages; I don’t think of it as a book that is strictly for juvenile audiences. But yes, I did face many issues when trying to take those younger readers into consideration—and the feedback I got from my young family members, students, and friends was so helpful. For instance, in most of my translations, I use dashes rather than quotation marks to indicate dialogue, as is standard in Greek. It’s a technique that’s not unheard of in U.S. fiction for adults, but my younger readers for The Wildcat Behind Glass found it confusing, so I introduced quotation marks instead. Similarly, I chose to translate honorifics into more standard English terms of address, where I might not have for an older audience. Because it’s a historical novel, written in the 1960s and taking place in the 1930s, I also felt like I was balancing a desire for the book to be comprehensible to a wide range of readers with a desire for it to have some flavor of the past in its language. I wanted the translation to be an exciting read, but also not to feel entirely contemporary, to have a sense of historicity. I hope I got the balance right!

In your study, Literary Translation and the Making of Originals, you look at the translation process as one of transformation, one in which the translator adds something to the work. What do you feel you added to Alki Zei’s work? How will the Anglophone reader’s experience of your translation differ from the Greek reader’s experience of the “original?”

I think what I added to Alki Zei’s work is, quite simply, a new English version that can be read by people for whom English is a more comfortable language to read in than Greek, or than any of the many other languages in which Zei’s novel has been translated. I don’t think there is any single way that Anglophone readers will experience the book, or that Greek readers experience the book, either. That said, the Anglophone reader is probably less likely to come at the book with a sense of it being a “classic,” and with less of a sense of the specific place and historical context in which it is set. I suspect that many younger readers of the book in the Anglophone context might know Greece best from the Percy Jackson books. I hope The Wildcat Behind Glass will open up new conversations among these readers about a place and a history I care deeply about. I also hope it will make them want to get their hands on more of Zei’s books, more literature coming out of Greece, and more translated literature in general.

The Wildcat Behind Glass has been translated into English before. In fact, Edward Fenton’s 1968 translation was awarded the American Library Association’s Mildred L. Batchelder Award, which recognizes the best children’s books translated into English. Was it at all intimidating to approach a work that had already been translated to some acclaim? Did you read Fenton’s translation before beginning your own?

Yes, I did read Fenton’s translation. It was out of print at the time, and even before I considered retranslating the novel, I thought maybe I could simply find a publisher who would want to reprint Fenton’s text. But when I read the translation, I realized I really just wanted to make my own. Fenton’s translation is great—but I also felt like I could create a new translation that would land differently, more vibrantly, with a current generation of readers. I had already made what felt like an importantly different choice in how to translate some key words quoted from the text in Michalopoulou’s Why I Killed My Best Friend—made-up words the two sisters share as a kind of secret vocabulary—and so I knew my tack would be quite different. I also think it’s great to have more than one translation of a work of literature out there in the world: that way readers can compare translations and see more easily what stance each of the translators is taking, the
choices they’re making.

What do you find the most rewarding about your work as a translator? The most challenging?

I love almost everything about the process. I love reading with the close attention to the structures and details of a text that translation requires. I love the research aspect of the job, too, the rabbit holes you can fall down trying to understand certain moments in a text. I love solving language puzzles, and figuring out how to make English do things it might not have done before. I also really love being part of a community of translators working between many different language pairs; it’s an incredibly generous, caring, and mutually supporting community. There are, of course, many challenges, as well, both textual and extra-textual. For instance: trying to advocate for equitable labor conditions for translators, for adequate recognition of translation as both creative and intellectual labor, for increased diversity both in the field of translation and in the realm of translated literature, and for the place and value of cultural products from elsewhere and/or first written in other languages. Because all that is part of the job, too.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

I live in a small NYC apartment, so I’ve gotten about as economical as I can with my books. It’s one reason why I feel very grateful to have access to a great university library, as well as to the amazing Brooklyn public library system: I can read so much more literature than I could ever possibly hope to keep in my home! But I do still have lots of Greek literature, translated literature from other languages (I subscribe to a few presses that specialize in literature in translation, like Archipelago Books, so I get their entire catalogues each year), literary criticism and theory, and books about translation. My daughter is 6 so we also have a pretty huge collection of her books—including tons of great new books in translation, from presses like Elsewhere Editions and Enchanted Lion.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers? Are there specific translators and translations you recommend?

Frankly, most of my recent reading is probably not of much interest to a wide audience! I’m writing an academic book about citizenship and forms of literary belonging in the modern Greek context, so I’ve been reading a lot of scholarly material on legal and political systems of inclusion and exclusion, which I find fascinating but are perhaps a bit off the beaten path for most. As for translators and translations, there are too many beloved texts and translators for me to mention all of them here, so I’ll just stick to a few recent reads. From the Archipelago subscription, two of my recent favorites are Chi-Young Kim’s translation of Cheon Myeong-Kwan’s The Whale and Maureen Freely’s translation of Sevgi Soysal’s Dawn—very different books, neither an easy read, but two incredibly careful and inspiring translations. I also love Sophie Hughes’s recent translations of Fernanda Melchor’s work, published by New Directions. And in the context of the genocide happening in Gaza, I also must recommend Elisabeth Jaquette’s stunning translation of Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail.

Labels: interview, translation

Friday, March 1st, 2024

March 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the March 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 155 books this month, and a grand total of 2,828 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, March 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Her Part to PlayThe Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the ShelleysBlood TornThe Dishonest Miss TakeThe Goat and the Stoat and the BoatExtreme Survival: How People, Plants, and Animals Live in the World's Toughest PlacesThis Is NOT a Dinosaur!The Quickest Bedtime Story Ever!Nein, Nein, Nein!: One Man's Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the HolocaustI Disappeared ThemThe Billabong TrailSecondary TargetFor a LifetimeA Run at LoveThe Sisters of CorinthWith Each TomorrowThe Mother Artist: Portraits of Ambition, Limitation, and CreativityWe Refuse to Be Silent: Women's Voices on Justice for Black MenThe Work Is the Work: Letters to a Future ActivistThe Wildcat Behind GlassThe ImposterIn Excess of DarkKosaThe Demon of Devil's CavernThe Color of SoundCrossing Divides: My Journey to Standing RockFinding Myron: An Adopted Son's Search for His Birth FatherThe Death Project: An Anthology for the LivingHomefront: StoriesFire on a Circle: PoemsFrom the Farm, to Our TableWalk of Ages: A Generational Journey from Mt. Whitney to Death ValleyCircle of Sawdust: A Circus Memoir of Mud, Myth, Mirth, Mayhem and MagicTenderloinFutureFuturoBirdhouse JesusPaws for Thought: Life Through a Dog's EyesHere for the Wrong ReasonsPreacher Stalls the Second ComingBug in a VacuumThe Further Adventures of Miss PetitfourThe Good Little Mermaid's Guide to BedtimeThe Lightning CircleSparkles, No SparklesThe GulfWater, WaterThe Desk from HobokenHoly SmokeLearning to SwimHow to Align the StarsThe Swan HarpHumanizing Classroom Management: Restorative Practices and Universal Design for LearningSamsung Galaxy S24: A Comprehensive Guide to PhotographyPre-Pulitzer PoetryASP. NET Core 8 and Angular: Full-Stack Web Development with ASP. NET Core 8 and AngularAs the Sparrow FliesThe Marble QueenBusiness Communication Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowMarketing Management Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowGRE Analytical Writing: Solutions to the Real Essay Topics - Book 1 (Ninth Edition)The Destiny Book: Rediscovering the Mother of SpiritualityThe Law of Birthdays: A Story about ChoiceTreacheryEmpowerment: A Journey of DiscoveryPoems for Princesses with Peas Under Their MattressesThrough the Veneer of TimeThe East WindMental Exercises for Dogs: Unlocking Behavior SolutionsA LadyFinders Keepers, CowboyDevi's GameCameron and the Shadow-Wraiths: A Battle of Anxiety vs. TrustWhite WhaleCome And Get MeFamous Composers: Lives, Stories, and Legacy (Volume 1)Princess OhletherbeShelby Becomes a Horse GirlThe Last Free DogPrincess Rouran and the Book of the LivingSwimming with Lord Byron: A BiographyPrayer in Time of WarDeath by TheftThe Spirit WellOwn Your Color: How to Unleash Your Limitless Potential with One Secret Tool: M.E.N.T.O.RCo-Parenting With a NarcissistApocalypse Still: StoriesThe Fast: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Promise of Doing WithoutOff SeasonDivorcing a Narcissist Forever: Recover from the Emotional and Narcissistic Abuse of a Toxic Relationship or Destructive Marriage, and Start Co-Parenting the Right WayThe Anti-Semite Next DoorThe ReturnKip's Funny Little FeetStumbling StonesThe ClimbMIND GAMEMe PowerTough Trail HomeCommune of the Golden SunWorlds ApartFinding Designated Ground ZeroArmageddonCloset of DreamsAn Element of MagicShattered Windows: Flash FictionThis Haggadah Is the Way: A Star Wars Unofficial Passover ParodyDaxNight ShadowsWandering from China to America: A Life Straddling Different WorldsThe Assays of AtaRuminations: stories, essays & poemsLet Them TrembleBy the Orchid and the OwlThe Great Escape of Goddess Innana: A Law of Attraction Troubleshooting GuideThe Smooth Fulfillment of the SoulA Seat at the C-Suite Table: Insights from the Leadership Journeys of African American ExecutivesSmoke and LightThe Tale of the Little Hedgehog and the Great FloodThe Last Survivor: Lessons From the Past and the Dying Dream of FreedomAstrology in the Era of Uncertainty: An Astropoetic Exploration of Psyche and CosmosHearts in ClawThese Things HappenFathers and SonsErisThe Get Ready Blueprint: A 52-Week Guide to Changing the Way You Think about MoneyMarriage and HangingBest Little Marriage Handbook: A Powerhouse Of Great Discussions - The Love Behaviors & 8 Safe Communication Skills That Make Great MarriagesSoundbite with SherlockRoot Karbunkulus and the Miist of KalliopeThe Sunny Day Squad: The Quest for the CaringstoneMothersound: The Sauútiverse AnthologyDrawn from LifeLost DistillationRaising Wrenns: A MemoirBlood DebtSwinging Away: A CelebrationThe Story of MadrikaWe Are HuntedThe Emotional Backpack: How to Release Unhealthy FeelingsThe Infinet DirectivesPress Heart to JoinAlone | All In One: A Solitary JourneyA Black and Solemn SilenceDrawn to MurderSavior on the ZenithHow Did Christianity Begin?: Hallucinations? Fabrications? Myths? Resurrection?: A Look at the Evidence.Horse Girl: A Journey HomePlease DO NOT GO to BangkokThe Man with the Butterfly MindTokyo Outdoors: 45 Walks, Hikes and Cycling Routes to Explore the City Like a LocalEntropyThe Ring EternalThe Debate Team - Freshman YearA.I. & YouBlack Phoenix

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Alcove Press Bethany House
BHC Press Blue Cedar Press Broadleaf Books
Bushwhack Books Cardinal Rule Press Dark Horse Books
DarkLit Press Egret Lake Books eSpec Books
Gnome Road Publishing Harbor Lane Books, LLC. History Through Fiction
Identity Publications IngramSpark LaPuerta Books and Media
Lerner Publishing Group Nosy Crow US Packt Publishing
Perch & Pen Books Personville Press PublishNation
Restless Books Revell Rootstock Publishing
Tapioca Stories Tundra Books Twisted Road Publications
Type Eighteen Books University of Nevada Press Vibrant Publishers

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

Come Join the 2024 Valentine Hunt!

It’s February 14th, and that means the return of our annual Valentine Hunt!

We’ve scattered a collection of hearts around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a heart. Each clue points to a specific page right here on LibraryThing. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a heart on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have a little more than two weeks to find all the hearts (until 11:59pm EST, Thursday February 29th).
  • Come brag about your collection of hearts (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two hearts will be
    awarded a heart badge Badge ().
  • Members who find all 14 hearts will be entered into a drawing for some LibraryThing (or TinyCat) swag. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

P.S. Thanks to conceptDawg for the cardinal illustration!

Labels: treasure hunt

Monday, February 5th, 2024

Author Interview: Kristin Hannah

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with bestselling author Kristin Hannah, who has had twenty-four novels published from 1991 through 2021. Trained as a lawyer, she practiced law in Seattle for a time before devoting herself to writing full time. Her best-selling book, The Nightingale (2015) has sold more than 4.5 million copies globally, and has been translated into 45 languages, while her 2008 Firefly Lane was adapted in a popular 2021 Netflix series of the same name. Hannah’s twenty-fifth novel, The Women, which chronicles the lives of women coming of age during the 1960s, is due out from Macmillan this month.

Your new book follows the story of a young woman who joins the Army Nurse Corps, and follows her brother to Vietnam. How did the story first come to you? Did it start with the character of Frankie, or was it the idea of a woman living through these events that came first?

This is actually a book I have wanted to write for more than twenty years. I grew up during the Vietnam era, and even though I was in elementary school, the war cast a huge shadow across my life. A very close girlfriend’s father was a pilot who served and was shot down and was Missing In Action. In those days, we wore silver prisoner of war bracelets that commemorated a missing serviceman. The idea was to wear the bracelet until he came home. Well, my friend’s father never did come home and I wore that bracelet for years, and was reminded of him and his service and war each day. I was a young teenager when the war ended, and I remembered how the veterans were treated when they returned home after their service. It was a shameful time in America and that, too, cast a long shadow. For years, I wanted to write about the turbulence and chaos and division of the times, but it wasn’t until the pandemic, when I was on lockdown in Seattle, confined to my home essentially, and watching our nurses and doctors serving on the front lines of the pandemic, becoming exhausted amid the political division of the time that it all came together for me. That’s when I knew I was ready to write about the women who served in the war and were forgotten at home.

The 1960s was a time of great change and social upheaval, and has been written about extensively, as has the war. What does The Women bring to the table? Do you feel it offers a new perspective, and if so, why is that important?

Honestly, for years and years, the Vietnam War was kind of a taboo subject. The American mood seemed to be that when the war finally ended, no one wanted to talk about it, so I actually think there are a lot of stories out there that need to be told. I hope The Women will encourage other stories. And yes, the novel adds an important element to the war narrative—its the story of the women who served and how they dealt with that service when they came home. It’s about their lost and forgotten service. The nurses who served in Vietnam were tough, resilient, courageous. Their story is one to be remembered.

Tell us a little bit about your process, writing the book. Did you have to do a great deal of research? What are some of the most interesting things you learned about the period? Was there anything you found particularly difficult to write about?

I love doing a deep, deep dive into a time and place, and certainly this time in America and in Vietnam were a daunting task to try and understand. That’s one of the reasons that I focused on my character of Frankie McGrath; I was able to tell a big, epic story in a very intimate way. The most difficult part of this book, in the writing, was the fear I felt that veterans of the war would be reading it, and the seriousness of my ambition to do right by them, to tell their story in an honest, accurate, and unflinching way. I am proud to say that the word of mouth on the book from Vietnam veterans has been the highlight of my long career. I am so proud to shine a light on their service.

Your story centers female friendship, even as it depicts characters whose wartime experiences are suppressed and disregarded, in part because they are women. What is it about this tension, between the private and public lives of women, that makes for such a powerful story?

We are lucky to be living in a time when forgotten and marginalized stories are being celebrated. I think when it comes to women’s stories, it’s just important to put us back in the historical narrative. All too often our service and courage and grit have been overlooked by the people who wrote the history books and taught the classes. I want to ensure that the women coming of age now, and their daughters and sons, will know and appreciate the importance of women’s roles in history. And yes, The Women definitely is a novel that highlights female friendship. For years, we have seen and read about men’s friendships that are forged in the fire of battle, and women are no different. So many women keep up those friendships, lean on them, for the whole of their lives, and I love to show that. The beating heart of The Women, for all it’s wartime drama and peacetime conflict, is really the friendship of the female combat vets.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

Like any book lover, my house is crowded with books on shelves. They are everywhere! I have fiction shelves and non fiction shelves galore. But I do have some enduring favorites that I always recommend: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón; One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez; The Witching Hour by Anne Rice; and The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

Well, at the moment, I am trying to come up with a new idea, which is surprisingly difficult to do. Following The Women will not be easy. My favorite recent reads are: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, All the Colors of the Dark, Demon Copperhead, and The Good Left Undone. Also, there are several Vietnam nurse memoirs that I read in researching The Women that I think are amazing: Healing Wounds: A Vietnam War Combat Nurse’s 10-Year Fight to Win Women a Place of Honor in Washington, D.C. by Diane Carlson Evans; American Daughter Gone to War: On the Front Lines With an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Winnie Smith; and Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Linda Van Devanter.

Labels: author interview, interview

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

February 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the February 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 180 books this month, and a grand total of 3,427 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, February 26th at 6PM EST.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

The Road Before UsThe Swan HarpThe Girl Who Planted TreesFlight of the Wild SwanThe Hebrew TeacherOpposite IdenticalsThe Poppy FieldThe Seafarer's SecretRebel SkiesThe Heavy Bag: One Girl’s Journey Through GriefAlt SagasViewfinderHow to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear: 50 Simple Things YOU Can Do for Our Planet!So You Wanna Run a Country?The Song of Sourwood MountainUnforgivenThe Encyclopedia of Rootical Folklore: Plant Tales from Africa and the DiasporaCultures of Growth: How the New Science of Mindset Can Transform Individuals, Teams, and OrganizationsSugar SandsBlood TornEmily PostsSwimming into TroubleThe Roads We FollowNight Falls on Predicament AvenueThese Tangled ThreadsJoyce Carol Oates: Letters to a BiographerLincoln's Angel: The Rebecca Pomroy StoryKids' Big Questions about Heaven, the Bible, and Other Really Important Stuff: 101 Things You Want to KnowThe Taekwonderoos: Rescue at Rattling RidgeA Dry Heat: Collected StoriesMoulded By MadnessThe East WindHoliday ShiftersIt Was Her New York: True Stories & SnapshotsGrief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating LossUrgent Calls from Distant Places: An Emergency Doctor's Notes about Life and Death on the Frontiers of East AfricaThe Family that Finds UsOnce a Homecoming QueenSeventy-Seven and Counting: The Somewhat Gay Life of BrianFrom Ice to SandStars Beyond RealmsThe Secret of the Sweet Treats KingdomThe First MurderBlack Confetti: My Bipolar MarriageNancy Bess Had a DressRe: Apotheosis - GenesisMattie, Milo, and Me: A MemoirFootball Refereeing in Scotland: A History of its Organisation and Development 1873-2023Affirmation AlchemyBookbound and Other StoriesFord Mustang Restoration: 1964-1/2-1973The Bloodstained KeyButterflies in the StormChildren of TomorrowThe Last PantheonDrive Or Be DrivenIn Excess of DarkKosaThe Demon of Devil's CavernFather ForgivenessMad Mothers: A Memoir of Postpartum Psychosis, Abuse, and RecoveryA Garden Called HomeProfessor Goose Debunks the Three Little PigsThe Destiny Book: Rediscovering the Mother of SpiritualityStonechat: PoemsLost SoulsLearning to SwimIndia's Road to Transformation: Why Leadership MattersGRE Reading Comprehension: Detailed Solutions to 325 Questions [Seventh Edition]The Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the ShelleysThe Prisoner of AcreiPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max: The Complete Photography GuideWhat Happens in MontanaMeditations for the Superhuman MageWitch's Creed: Jesus ProjectTrue Crime Trivia 2: Test Your Knowledge of Serial Killers, Cults, Cold Cases, Mysteries, Organized Crimes & More with 300 Chilling & Fascinating Quiz QuestionsDragon ClassThrough the Veneer of TimeWhat is the Bible?: Understand Its History, Find Personal Meaning, and Connect With Its AuthorAstral Alignment: ApocalypseJohnny Lycan & The Last WitchfinderA Black and Solemn SilenceYour Soufflé Must DieOff SeasonThe J.E.D.I. Leader's Playbook: The Insider's Guide to Eradicating Injustices, Eliminating Inequities, Expanding Diversity, and Enhancing InclusionMy Best Friend, MartyA Curse of Scales & FeathersKatie & Danny in Fairyland with GrandmaSecond ShotL' Air du Temps (1985)The Woodland StrangerThe Woodland StrangerReclaiming Your Roots: A Self-Healer's Guide to Ancestral Healing Through Transformational Spiritual PracticesStill AliveThe Pig Patrol: Adventure in SpaceThirty-Eight Days of RainBreaking Bad Patterns: 60 Ways to Free Yourself from a Life Stuck on RepeatThe EdgeDrawn to MurderBeneath the Gods' TreePrice of VengeanceSwing Strong: Golfing Fitness for SeniorsA Vengeful RealmHow We Became Intergalactic SuperheroesThe Courage to Leave: A Memoir of Escaping and Moving Forward From Spiritual AbuseThe Kelsey Outrage: The Crime of the CenturyTraveling in Wonder: A Travel Photographer's Tales of WanderlustHow Did Christianity Begin?: Hallucinations? Fabrications? Myths? Resurrection?: A Look at the EvidenceYou Are HereReflections: Echoes & WhispersThe UnravellingChildren of the CrossMental Exercises for Dogs: Unlocking Behavior SolutionsLet Them TrembleThe Adventures of the Flash Gang: Episode Two: Treasonous TycoonGrandma's Gone With GodThe Assays of AtaAll Of Us AloneJoey's Road TripThe Christmas HedgehogDecode Connect Dominate: The Unstoppable Guide to Read People Like a Book, Overcame Shyness, Crack the Code of How To Talk To Anyone, Use Psychology and Body Language to Decipher People’s IntentionsThe Further Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron MunchausenHorse Girl: A Journey HomeTarnished PilgrimFinal Video GameTalk With the Moon: Silence Between StarsNavudaan: Revolution of ChangeJourney of SoulsLocked in SilenceBranding Your Practice: A Comprehensive Guide to Building a Strong Brand in Health & WellnessRearranged: An Opera Singer's Facial Cancer and Life TransposedBottles in the Basement: Surviving an Alcoholic: A MemoirAlignment: An Unlikely Road to BethlehemThe Gambler's GameLife in the Childfree LaneNo Matter How FarThe Worlds Behind Her EyelidsThe Worlds Behind Her EyelidsShelby’s Season of SurpriseThe Reluctant UndertakerPlease DO NOT GO to BogotáFreedom: The Case For Open BordersTwisted FateMushroom CloudAylunFinding Designated Ground ZeroArmageddonPersonal Finance for Teens Simplified: 7 Easy-to-Learn Strategies for Conquering Debt, Understanding the Value of Money, and Achieving Financial IndependenceMy Trip to the Hair SalonTransitThe Bloodstained KeyLies and LoveThe SurfacingA Simple Tale of Ink and BindingsA Simple Tale of Ink and BindingsPerilous ShoresFeraldThree Volleys to LoveTexture of Silence: An Illustrated Collection of Prose PoetryIn Helping HandsForest Living: In Central FloridaBeyond the Family Tree: Advanced Tools & Techniques for the Genealogical ExplorerAncestry Standards for Data Integrity: Getting History Right the First TimeSoftware Tools for Genealogy: Digital Tools for Tracing Family HistoryThe Balance Point: Charting America's Fiscal RenaissanceMale Chauvinism: Tripping on Male DominancePrayer in Time of WarWhite WhaleThe Badge And The GunThe Book of Arcane SecretsTime Is HeartlessCruel ProvocationsThe Sapien EmpireBlaze Union and the Puddin' Head SchoolsMaya and Waggers: I Have to Scoop What?Murder Under Redwood MoonA Perfectly Good Fantasy: A MemoirA Perfectly Good Fantasy: A MemoirAlien View: Where Science and Technology Meet Human BehaviorForest Living: In Central Florida

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Beaches and Trails Publishing Beaufort Books
Bellevue Literary Press Bethany House BHC Press
Cardinal Rule Press CarTech Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC
Circling Rivers DarkLit Press Egret Lake Books
Exploding Head Fiction Gnome Road Publishing Grand Canyon Press
Great Plains Press Greenleaf Book Group Hawkwood Books
Heritage Books History Through Fiction Identity Publications
Legacy Books Press New Vessel Press NewCon Press
Nosy Crow US Perch & Pen Books PublishNation
Revell Rootstock Publishing Scorched Earth Press
Simon & Schuster TouchPoint Press Tundra Books
Type Eighteen Books University of Texas Press Vibrant Publishers

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

Janaury 2024 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the January 2024 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 151 books this month, and a grand total of 3,109 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Thursday, January 25th at 6PM EST.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Tunisia, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Someone Is Always WatchingShe'll Be the Sky: Poems by Women and GirlsThe Elusive Truth of Lily TempleSuper Friends!Every Bunny Is a Yoga BunnyUnder a Neon SunThe Bloodstained KeyThe Everlasting RoadThe Pancake ProblemAtlantis SplittingThis Book Will Make You an ArtistTrash: A Poor White JourneyFlannery OConnor's Why Do the Heathen Rage: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at a Work in ProgressUtopiaThe Pollutant SpeaksRouxHappy Healthy Wealthy and Wise: A Daily Companion Guide for Ordinary People Who Want Extraordinary LivesA Vision in CrimsonImmortal SecretsDoes Anyone See My Pain?: For Teenagers Dealing with Anxiety and DepressionUnexpected Weather EventsUlfhildrThe Sun Stone & The Hybrid PrinceUntil the Stars FallQuestions for Kids Travel Edition: Icebreakers and Conversation Starters for Road Trips, Family Travel, Camping, School Breaks, and MoreSugar SandsLove Across the Stars: PoemsThe Bloodstained KeyShared BloodHe Seemed Normal...A Noble SchemeIf the Boot FitsSet in StoneA Love DiscoveredAmerican Imam: From Pop Stardom to Prison AbolitionSea SmilesA Dangerous Country: An American ElegyWould You Rather? Book for Kids 8-12: 350 Challenging Questions, Silly Scenarios, and Hilarious SituationsPerilous ShoresOur Savage HeartElephants in BloomThe Phoenix and the AntNanolandLoose of Earth: A MemoirIce MusicLatencyStones on the Pathway: Writings During Times of UncertaintyMy Vietnam, Your Vietnam: A Father Flees. A Daughter Returns. A Dual MemoirRock Bottom RomanceBarbed-Wire, Barricades & Miss BeckerMum, Why Bother With Jesus?The Word Effect: 7 Simple Words to Create Your Most Beautiful LifeChronic Grace: Prayer, Saints & Thorns That StayWhen The Lights Turn To GreenAsterism: PoemsThree Hearts Stitched: Poems about AdoptionJenny's Life With Encephalitis3 Little Words: Daily Diary SeriesDescending Into DarknessThe Devil's TapestryTrondheimCustom Car Painting on a BudgetNightMARE CrushI Have To Let You GoThe Dark WitchData Analytics Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowPersonal Finance Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowWriting Impressive College EssaysThe Road, To Ruin, And BackFeral NightThe Twilight QueenSecondhand SpacemanLeonor: The Story of a Lost ChildhoodInside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short StoriesInside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short StoriesShelby and the Back-to-School BluesPerestroika: An Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a ToothMeditations For The Superhuman MageAll Body Bags and No KnickersHope: Live in the Surety of the UnseenOn Mr. Darcy's SofaThe Badge And The GunFeraldBreath of Venus: A Tale of SurvivalGuide to Financial Freedom: Discover Money Skills for Teens to Retire Early, Tax Strategies, Budgeting, and Rich HabitsTime Traveling to 1974: Celebrating a Special YearEarly AdopterPrincess OhletherbeThe Forbidden Chef's Love AppetiteLouie the Lynx and Ryan the LionTime Traveling to 1954: Celebrating a Special YearTime Traveling to 1964: Celebrating a Special YearReversal!Jericho Caine, Vampire Slayer: Love, Lust, and BloodWitch’s Creed: Jesus ProjectTrivia Book of Wow: Wonderfully Weird Facts & Whatnot. For the Seriously CuriousESPionage: Regime ChangeThe Fairy of the Enchanted LakePhantom UltraLiam and Ellie: A Brother's Quest to Find His SisterQuestions for Kids Travel Edition: Icebreakers and Conversation Starters for Road Trips, Family Travel, Camping, School Breaks, and MoreHighland BeautyStardust Over the SekrLost and FoundTexture of Silence: An Illustrated Collection of Prose PoetryThe Enemy Within: Why We Black Americans Must Confront OurselvesUntil Our Lungs Give Out: Conversations on Race, Justice, and the FutureFirefaxUnleash Transformational Leadership: Unlock Your Potential to Empower & Inspire Your Organization and Create a Culture of SuccessVegan Keto Cookbook: Quick and Easy Ketogenic Meal PlansThe Big Book of Sudoku Puzzles: Easy to MediumLegacy of the Third WayHarold Heard Butt CakeMidnight ClimaxTitan's TearsPowerful Social Skills for Teens: Overcome Self-Doubt and Social Anxiety to Build Meaningful Friendships, Talk to Anyone, and Date with ConfidenceInto the FireThe Runaway Adventurous CrewThe Climate Misinformation Crisis: How to Move Past the Mistruths to a Smarter Energy FutureAlignment Archive: Guardians of TheiaAstral Alignment: AtlantisChildren of HeavenJudBlaze Union and the Puddin' Head SchoolsSecrets of Castle RowleyA Mirror for The Blind: Reflections of a Digital SeoulReal Men Don't Do Therapy: A Portrait of a Beautiful DisasterStick Taps: An Ode to Hockey's Heartbeats and HeroesTwo Players, One Family: How Gaming Unites UsToxic Feminism: Understanding the Root CausesToxic Misandry: A Deep Dive into DiscriminationFrom Dad Bods to Ab Gods: The Hilarious Truth About Male Beautification in the Age of InstagramThe Green Beer Diaries: St. Patrick, Leprechauns, and a Whole Lot of HopsThe Toadacious Tales of the MeadowLondon LabyrinthsThe PikeEquinoxKiller Dead, Victim AliveAt What Cost?Vegan Air Fryer Cookbook: 50 Quick and Easy Plant-Based Air Fryer RecipesFrank's Bloody BooksHistorical Christianity: The Ancient Communal FaithDouble Down on Your Genius: Own Your Gifts, Align Your Actions, and Flourish in Your CallingHistorical Christianity: The Ancient Communal FaithWar BondsJericho Caine, Vampire Slayer: Love, Lust, and BloodIntro to Indie Publishing: A Newbie-Friendly Guide to the Independent Book Development ProcessI Am Your Connection: Love Poems for Your BelovedBeneath the Gods' TreeMaya and Waggers : I Have to Scoop What?Eve's Apple

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Absolute Love Publishing Akashic Books Alazar Press
Beaches and Trails Publishing Bee Orchid Press Bellevue Literary Press
Bethany House BHC Press Brazos Press
Broadleaf Books CarTech Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC
City Owl Press Egret Lake Books Gnashing Teeth Publishing
Gnome Road Publishing Gorilla House HB Publishing House
NeoParadoxa NewCon Press Nosy Crow US
PublishNation Revell Three Rooms Press
Tundra Books University of Texas Press Vibrant Publishers

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

Publisher Interview: Eye of Newt Books

Eye of Newt Books logo

LibraryThing is pleased to present our inaugural Independent Publisher interview, hopefully the first of a series. We sat down this month with Neil Christopher, one of the publishers of Eye of Newt Books, an independent Canadian press based in Toronto whose small but impressive catalog features works that pair imaginative fiction and folklore with beautiful and striking artwork. An educator, author and filmmaker who taught for many years in the Arctic, Christopher was one of the founders of Nunavut-based Inhabit Media, an Inuit-owned publishing house that specializes in content featuring traditional Inuit mythology and knowledge. He is himself the author of a number of collections of Inuit tales, from Arctic Giants to The Dreaded Ogress of the Tundra: Fantastic Beings from Inuit Myths and Legends.

How did Eye of Newt Books get started? Whose idea was it, how did it all come together, and what is your vision, going forward?

We have been working in publishing in the Canadian Arctic for almost 20 years, and during that time we met many amazing authors and illustrators that sometimes didn’t fit into our Arctic publishing initiative. As well, there were many stories and projects we wanted to do that didn’t fit into the Arctic publishing work. So, we wanted to start a Toronto-based publishing company that could work with these incredible writers and artists and could realize some of these projects.

Danny** was the one who came up with the name, and we worked together to clarify Eye of Newt’s vision. Basically, we want to make quirky books that might not have a home elsewhere. We want to make books for kids that we would have enjoyed; and we want to make books for adults that we want to read.

**Co-founder of Eye of Newt Books, Danny Christopher is Neil Christopher’s brother, and is also an author and illustrator.

Many of your books—Bestiarium Greenlandica (Denmark), Museum of Hidden Beings (Iceland), Hausgeister (Germany), Welsh Monsters & Mythical Beasts (Wales)—were originally published elsewhere, and often in different languages. How did you discover these books, and their authors and artists? What do you look for, when it comes to adding a book to your catalog?

In our work with Inhabit Media, we often come across books from other countries that we want to version in English and make available to the North American market. Most of these books are about folklore or mythology. We are interested in preserving and promoting authentic traditional lore from other countries. Both Danny and I loved that growing up, and now we get to bring it to a new generation of readers.

Now we often receive submissions from other publishers. It didn’t take long for us to get known, and we are always getting amazing book projects submitted to us for English versioning or licensing for our market.

Both Inhabit Media and Eye of Newt strongly feature works of folklore and mythology. Are you particularly drawn to such tales? What makes them important, and why do you think both of the publishing houses you helped to found are centered around them?

That’s a great question! When we started Inhabit Media, we saw that children in Nunavut were not aware of their own cultural stories. Correcting this situation was one of Inhabit Media’s early missions. Through that work, we saw that traditional stories and lore were being lost or forgotten all over the world. Myth and legends were always something both Danny and I loved growing up, so creating books that help gather and protect authentic representations of myths and legends from around the world is important to us. We love new quirky stories, but we don’t want to forget the old stories and ancient magic.

The books in the Eye of Newt catalog are visually striking, with artwork in a diverse range of styles and media. Are the illustrations as important as the text, and if so, why? What are some of your favorite illustrations, from your catalog, and what is it about them that speaks to you?

For Eye of Newt the artwork and illustrations are just as important as the text. Both Danny and I have other work in publishing and filmmaking. Eye of Newt started as a side project, which quickly grew into something larger. Because of this limited time, we are very selective of the book projects we take on. We are really proud of the list of books we have created, and we intend to keep our standards high to only bring unique and beautiful books to our readers.

Some of my own favourite illustrations are from Iris Compiet’s Faeries of the Faultlines and Kamila Mlynarczyk’s I Can Be Myself When Everyone I Know Is Dead… They are starkly different, but I have a soft spot for prolific creators who really pour their heart and soul into their work and create a lot of it.

Are you still involved in Inhabit Media, and if so, how do you balance your work there with your work at Eye of Newt?

Yes. Both Danny and I are still very active owners of Inhabit Media. Eye of Newt was a passion project for both of us and continues to be so. I am sure finding balance for any business owner is a challenging task, and we certainly find it challenging. Eye of Newt has a talented and committed staff team that are moving projects forward when we are away. A lot of the Eye of Newt work for Danny and I happens at night and on weekends. Danny and I also said that Eye of Newt would be our retirement project, it just got started a bit early and now we are playing catch up all the time.

What can we look forward to in the future, from Eye of Newt, and from you?

Our success with our early books has opened doors with many amazing creators from around the world. We are really excited about the books we have lined up. One area to watch for is the fun and unusual children’s books we will be launching in the next few years. This year we released Kyle Beaudette’s The Garden Witch which is a loose folklore retelling with an aesthetic (and naughtiness!) we enjoy. We always wanted to have children’s books as a major part of our list, and our early books slanted more towards mythology and fantasy. Now, we are looping back to children’s books to help round off our list.

Tell us about your own personal library. What’s on your shelves?

If you had a look at my library, you would easily see where some of our inspirations come from. Faeries by Froud and Lee, Gnomes by Huygen and Poortvliet, etc. and tons of strange and fun children’s books. Just like Eye of Newt, you will see books that are beautifully illustrated. As well, both Danny and I collect very old books. A lot of that collection focuses on folktales, history, witchcraft, and shamanism.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

I have been leaning back into my older books lately. Two books I have been enjoying this month are Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin and The World of Kong: A Natural History of Skull Island by Weta Workshop. Two books I consider classics. The World of Kong is very hard to find, as it is out of print, but well worth the hunt!

Labels: interview, publishers

Monday, December 18th, 2023

Come Join the 2023 Roundup Hunt!

The year is drawing to a close, and we’re hosting a special 2023 Roundup Hunt!

This hunt is meant to highlight developments in the bookish world and on the LibraryThing site over the course of this past year.

We’ve scattered a skyful of fireworks around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find some fireworks. Each clue points to a specific page on LibraryThing. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s some fireworks on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have just three weeks to find all the fireworks (until 11:59pm EDT, Monday January 8th).
  • Come brag about your skyful of fireworks (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two fireworks will be
    awarded a fireworks Badge ().
  • Members who find all 12 fireworks will be entered into a drawing for one of five LibraryThing (or TinyCat) prizes. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

P.S. Thanks to conceptDawg for the Kingfisher illustration! The Belted Kingfisher is the 2023 Bird of the Year.

Labels: treasure hunt

Friday, December 8th, 2023

Top Five Books of 2023

2023 is almost over, and that means it’s time for LibraryThing staff to share our Top Five Books of the Year. You can see past years’ lists HERE.

We’re always interested in what our members are reading and enjoying, so we invite you to add your favorite books read in 2023 to our December List of the Month, and to join the discussion over in Talk

>> List: Top Five Books of 2023

Note: This is about what you read in 2023, not just books published in 2023.

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!



cover image for Babel cover image for Glassworks cover image for Hello Beautiful cover image for Happiness Falls cover image for I Have Some Questions for You

Babel, or, The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang. Okay so I haven’t even finished this, but this post will be live by the time I do, and I know it belongs at the top of my top five. Victorian England. Oxford. Magic. Empire and colonialism. Language and translation. It is beautiful and brilliant.

Glassworks by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith. Four generations of messy humans connected in a variety of ways, each failing to understand those who came before them. Gorgeous prose.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. Do you like to be emotionally gutted by words? I do. Read this.

Happiness Falls by Angie Kim. Is it a mystery? A literary family drama? An exploration into language and cognition and philosophy? D, all of the above?

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai. An interesting and unexpected take on a mystery/thriller.

I read a lot of really great books this year, so I want to also give honorable mentions to these (Pick 5, you said? Is this cheating? I don’t care!): Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, Congratulations, The Best Is Over! by R. Eric Thomas, The Fragile Threads of Power by V.E. Schwab, The Stolen Coast by Dwyer Murphy, Yellowface by R.F. Kuang, Vigil Harbor by Julia Glass, Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen, Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls, Sam by Allegra Goodman, and They’re Going to Love You by Meg Howrey.


cover image for Exhalation cover image for Why We Did It cover image for Romney: A Reckoning cover image for The Alignment Problem cover image for Sid Meier's Memoir

Exhalation by Ted Chiang. Ted Chiang is that rare coming-together of a fine writer, a fine storyteller and someone who invents and then works through legitimately interesting science-fiction ideas. I loved his Stories of Your Life and Others, which included the story which became the movie Arrival. The stories in Exhalation are of the same quality. I particularly enjoyed The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, which melds time travel and the narrative conventions of the Arabian Nights, and Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom, which imagines limited communication between branches of a many-worlds universe.

Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell by Tim Miller and Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins. Why We Did It and Romney: A Reckoning both deal with the descent of the Republican party from what seemed a “normal” center-right party to the moral, ideological and policy train-wreck-dumpster-fire of the present day. How did it happen? How did so many normal politicians and staff go along with it? Who ignored the rot that turned into Trumpism and why? Who’s responsible? And what, if anything, can be done about it? Why We Did It is the personal and political memoir of a Republican operative—a gay man who became a “hitman for homophobes”—but finally left, disgusted. Romney: A Reckoning is a more straightforward political biography, reaching back to Romney’s early days, but focused on the last few years. It answers the question how one of the most ideologically “flexible” Republicans became an inflexible opponent of Trump and everything he did to the GOP. Romney gave Cobbins free reign over his emails and personal journals, and as many interviews as he wanted, and the anecdotes and quotes he came back with are solid gold.

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values by Brian Christian. I read a ton about AI this year, especially the problems with it. The Alignment Problem is by far the best, explaining the technologies better and deeper than the others, and going into the problems without being hyperbolic or alarmist. The whole OpenAI debacle sent me to reread Cade Metz’ Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World, which remains the best narrative of the deep-learning book, until Metz writes the story of OpenAI.

Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games by Sid Meier. I love well-done biographies of businesses, such as Steven Levy’s Facebook: The Inside Story, In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives or Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything. This year I also read Jason Schreier’s excellent Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made, which recounts the stories of key games and the companies that made them. Sid Meier’s book is like those, but told from the perspective of the amiable, somewhat doofus-y programmer who made them. Also, the Sid Meier games are basically the games of my childhood. I played most of them, and have (deep in my brain) nuggets of trivia only Meier’s book could have found for me again. Not a book for everyone, but a book for me.

Honorable mention goes to: The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich. Henrich makes a compelling case that the key human capacity is our capacity to learn. It really belongs in my top five, but I didn’t have much interesting to say about it.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells. I enjoyed this first of the Murderbot Diaries. Wells took an interesting idea and a compelling, original narrator and wrote a fine tale. I wish it were longer and I won’t forget it. I even started the second, and then I asked myself “Do I really want seven more helpings of this?” I did not. This says more about me and my dislike of series, franchises, reboots and other episodic and immortal intellectual properties than it does about the book.


cover image for I Have Some Questions for You

Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll. This fictionalized account of women who encountered Ted Bundy and the aftermath of their encounters, was so much more than I expected from Knoll. I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the true crime fascination our society has and this novel brilliantly focuses on the victims rather than the perpetrator.

A Heart That Works by Rob Delaney. I didn’t think anything would make me cry more/harder than When Breath Becomes Air and, well, I was wrong. Delaney’s memoir of the loss of his two year-old son is devastating. But it’s also beautiful, and funny, and hopeful.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful: A Memoir by Maggie Smith. Is there anything Maggie Smith can’t make beautiful? This is a gorgeous memoir on divorce and rebuilding.

My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin. I devoured this book! This is some of the best coming-of-age writing I’ve ever read, but it’s by no means a commonplace story.

I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai. What Abby said. This certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, and I’m definitely not mad about it.


Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. This book was so much fun to read. The kind of book that you simultaneously want to read as fast as possible and read slowly so it never ends!

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I love a great, long book. Despite a lot of this book being about war, which is usually not my favorite thing, Stephenson’s prose made it a joy to read!

Fairy Tale by Stephen King. I love my Stephen King books. A Stephen King book about a boy and his dog on an adventure is something I cannot resist.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. So many things in this book were familiar to me, having grown up in the 80s/90s and enjoying video games and online role-playing games. It’s always fun to read a book where you can relate to the experiences of the characters.

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. One of my daughter’s SantaThing books from 2022, this picture book is so much fun. It has great rhythm, beautiful artwork, and even a page with hidden animals that my daughter always loves to look at!


The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It’s been many years since my last Stephen King read, but it was like riding a bike: a hero, a journey with scary thrills, and a happy ending. I hear they’re making a series out of this—produced by the Duffer Brothers (that’s right, Stranger Things)—and cannot wait to see it.

How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong. A thoughtful and intentional exploration of the modern ways we (in America) build and maintain community, and how some groups in particular are laying foundations. Mia’s storytelling made me reflect about how much awesome, transformative value real community can hold through the most challenging of times. I consider this a strong read for the average American, as modern families embark on the rising challenges of everyday life.

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese. If you’ve ever heard of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this is the fictional story of the woman behind the main character of that book, Hester Prynne. Woven into the fabric of 19th-century Salem, Massachusetts stands Isobel Gamble, a talented seamstress and embroiderer from Scotland, looking to make a life for herself in America. She arrives in Salem about 125 years after the Witch Trials, and is forced to consider her own lineage as she walks the tightrope of status and reputation in Salem society. Isobel goes through many trials and tribulations as she seeks to define love, freedom, and strength: many of those qualities that, if bared too much, garnered a woman to be labeled as a witch herself. I loved the depth of character and history in this tale. Will definitely look out for more of Albanese’s work.

Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains by Kerri Arsenault. Everything is poisoned, paper mills are toxic waste factories, the government is lying (either outright or by omission) to us. Some people like reading tragic fiction, I apparently gravitate towards the real thing. I found this to be a depressing but necessary read, especially being a Mainer. Now please excuse me while I go and Google dioxin…

Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder. My annual nod to my son Finn’s collection this year. This is a great book for parents of curious young minds looking to supplement an honest exploration of all the different types of bodies that exist, and how each one has its own special gift.


Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, illustrated by Alton Raible The first book in Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s classic Green Sky Trilogy, originally published in 1975, Below the Root is an immensely engaging and deeply moving work of fantasy/science fiction for young readers, one which explores the legacy of violence in a future society that has done everything it can to rid itself of this curse. I love pretty much everything about the book, from the world building to the vocabulary and the way it is introduced, the emotional depth of the characters to the story itself. As if all of this weren’t enough, this book is also greatly improved by the gorgeous artwork of illustrator Alton Raible. Although written in the 1970s, and a product of its time in many ways, in other ways the story here feels oddly current, particularly when it comes to the way in which the goal of avoiding or mitigating harm is used as an excuse for suppression. To offer such wonderful storytelling, and to have such powerful social and intellectual relevance, almost fifty years after its publication, speaks to this book’s staying power, and to its brilliance.

Anna Witch by Madeleine Edmondson, illustrated by William Pène du Bois. From beginning to end, I found Anna Witch a positive delight. It was so lovely, in both storytelling and illustration, that I felt I needed to own a copy of my own, and have now added it to my personal library. So many of the little details here, from the physical characteristics of witches in author Madeleine Edmondson’s world to the fact that they always use names that are palindromes, added to my reading enjoyment. The story itself was also engaging, addressing a number of common childhood themes—young people learning at their own pace, children both needing their parents and needing distance from them—in a magical way. The artwork from Newbery medalist and two-time Caldecott honoree William Pène du Bois was every bit as appealing as the story, capturing both the magical charm of the story and characters, and the emotional pitch of each scene.

The Black Riders by Violet Needham, illustrated by Anne Bullen. The first of Violet Needham’s eight-book Stormy Petrel series, The Black Riders is a marvelous Ruritanian romance for younger readers. First published in 1939, it has become something of a cult classic since, offering a rousing adventure story that is also beautifully written, and that features a wonderful cast of characters. I appreciated the fact that, while there are clear factions in the story, and while the young hero cleaves strongly to his side, the opposition is not depicted as evil, and neither is their leader. Indeed, while in some ways the story here is quite naive, in other ways, it is a very sophisticated book, addressing complex moral questions in an intelligent way, and never talking down to its young audience. Needham is considered a master of Ruritanian tales for children, and I look forward to reading more of her work in this vein.

The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman. My list of Top Five books for 2022 included The Thursday Murder Club—the first entry in Richard Osman’s mystery series of the same name—and I commented at the time that one of the strengths of the story was the wonderful cast of characters, who truly came alive on the page. In the course of 2023, I have read the second and third in the series, The Man Who Died Twice and The Bullet That Missed, and found that this was also the case with these books. I am not yet done with The Last Devil to Die, but suspect that it is going to be my favorite of the lot, owing in no small part to my love for the characters. As someone who cares for an elderly loved one with dementia, I was deeply moved by the author’s sensitive depiction of a loving couple whose marriage is being affected by Alzheimers. If Osman found it as heartbreaking to write those scenes as I found it to read them, it is no wonder he has announced that he is taking a break from the series.

Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11 by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Steve Moors. The story of the maritime evacuation of lower Manhattan on September 11th, 2001, in which some 150 vessels and 600 sailors—many of them civilian volunteers—helped to rescue more than 500,000 people trapped on the island, ferrying them away to safety, is told in this immensely poignant picture book. The story, written by Julie Gassman, who herself escaped Manhattan on that day thanks to the maritime evacuation, is simple but powerful, and I found myself tearing up, while reading it. The artwork from Steve Moors, in muted grayish tones that are sometimes relieved by a bright blue, didn’t speak to me at first, but eventually felt just right for the story, capturing the contrast between the gray dust that coated everything and everyone that day, and the sparkling blue of that September sky. My mother escaped Manhattan on 9/11, thanks to the maritime evacuation, so this story had personal significance for me. It has also been of comfort, since the October 7th terror attacks in Israel, and the more recent spate of praise for Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” on social media, to recall this story of good people stepping up in terrible times, and to remind myself that while there are those who respond to the evil of terrorism with celebration or justification, there are others whose response is to rush to help their fellow human beings.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Apocalypse fiction is a genre I tend to really enjoy, and this book was such a treat. It’s very character driven, and I was intrigued by how the storylines entangled throughout the book.

Fungirl by Elizabeth Pich. Fungirl is messy and vulgar and hilarious. Pich’s art style is so whimsical and cute. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much while reading a book.

Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi. Peaces caught my eye because I love magical realism, and Oyeyemi’s wonderful prose and surreal story did not disappoint. It’s set on a majestic old train with an unknown destination. The characters are quirky and mysterious and queer, and there are two cute and rambunctious pet mongooses. I adored this book.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks. I’m actually still in the middle of reading this one, but I feel like I have already gotten so much out of all the wisdom in it. I really appreciate hooks’ definition of love and her thought provoking look at love in our culture and relationships. This is a book I will be thinking about for a long time after I’ve finished reading it.

The Chromatic Fantasy by H. A. This is such a delightful graphic novel! The art is absolutely gorgeous and H.A. is an incredible visual storyteller. The characters are funny and charming and it was such a joy to watch their romance and adventures unfold in such a beautifully illustrated story.


That’s it!

Come record your own Top Five Books of 2023 on our December List of the Month, and join the discussion over in Talk.

Labels: top five

Friday, December 1st, 2023

December 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the December 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 144 books this month, and a grand total of 2,949 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Tuesday, December 26th at 6PM EST.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Never Fall AgainThe Lady with the Dark HairA Full Net: Fishing Stories from Maine and BeyondOf Starlight and MidnightThe Hampton House MysterySand and SecretsPsalms of My People: A Story of Black Liberation As Told Through Hip-HopBlack Women, Ivory Tower: Revealing the Lies of White Supremacy in American EducationDesires of the Heart: The Evolution of an American PsychiatristA Lady's Guide to Marvels and MisadventureOne Wrong MoveWhile the City SleepsChasing the HorizonPermaculture Gardening for the Absolute Beginner: Follow Nature's Map to Grow Your Own Organic Food with ConfidenceHeavy OceansPolyphemusThe Four Relationship Styles: How Attachment Theory Can Help You in Your Search for Lasting LoveIn Search of the Lambs and Other StoriesPlaces To Visit On The Way BackCaptive of the Stolen EmpireMet by MoonlightExplosive ChemistryNot to ScaleCambion's RiseBond CrushedThe Fast and the FuriesUn penique en mi bolsillo: Un libro para niños sobre el uso del dineroA Village Boy's Global Journey: A Story of Defiance, Self Discovery and TriumphMistletoe MagicFanny Fitzpatrick and the Brother ProblemMen Don't Owe Women MoneyThe Red WheelbarrowWomen Who Hate WomenTribuneThe Trade Detective Investigating How to Day Trade for a LivingThe Trade Detective Investigating How to Make Money Online and Live WealthyAmy the Elf Sorceress and Her FriendsSouth of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from SpainA Call from Hell: The True Story of Larry Gene Bell a Small-Town Monster and the Crime that Shook the NationHow to Swap LS & LT Engines into Chevy & GMC Trucks: 1960-1998Over the Influence: Why Social Media Is Toxic for Women and Girls - and How We Can Take It BackServices Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowMacroeconomics Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowSocial Media Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowMountain Offerings: PoemsChildren of Steel: Short Fiction from Our Historic Steel Mill TownsTales from the DarksideThe Fragile Blue Dot: Stories from Our Imperiled BiospherePushing Back the DesertI'm Not AfraidDangerous Lovers: A MemoirSwanna in LoveThe ReservoirAccustomed to the DarkReturn to AlkademahClassic Short Stories by Trailblazing WomenThe Other MurderDead GirlThe Scream: Poems from the Outside and from Within, 2013-2023Tokyo Outdoors: 45 Walks, Hikes and Cycling Routes to Explore the City Like a LocalTokyo Outdoors: 45 Walks, Hikes and Cycling Routes to Explore the City Like a LocalEmo Reality: The Biography of Teenage Borderline Personality DisorderPosey's Problem: A Pony TaleWithout the ThunderDestinyThe Instructor's Guide to Accessible and Equitable Course Design: A Roadmap to Barrier-Free Teaching and LearningA Good Rush of BloodRed VelvetThe Time GeneTeaching with Heart: Lessons Learned in a ClassroomA Deadly GameThe Forest Demands Its DueDu Good: The Journey BeginsThe Devils' CrucibleThe Flirtatious CoupleThe Difficult Life of a Little Brown HoundMother Nature Nursery RhymesTwisted NeurosThe Intended SoulHow to Write a Book: Taking the Plunge into Non-Fiction and Conquering Your New Writer Fears and DoubtsShelby's Horse-Filled SummerAll Of Us AloneThe Art of Job Hunting: A Dramedy in VerseThe Price of RevengeBlood in the Water: An Account of Workplace BullyingReflections: Echoes & WhispersChildren of the CrossThe Teenage Guide to Success: The TICK TOCK Formula for Life, Relationships and CareersUnbound 2: A Threat OnboardingVespertine DreamsRise of the CultOOPS, POOPS: Hysterical Potty Training Stories and MoreSend in the Tort Lawyer$—A Legal FarceAlong the Cobbled PathSecrets of Castle RowleySmokoPrisoner of Consequence: Escape the Ripple of Effect and Rediscover Your Natural State of JoyAll Old People Must Die: The Last GenerationHarold Heard Butt CakeRun Away to MarsReasonableWalking the White Horses: Wiltshire's White Horse Trail on FootShelby and the Back-to-School BluesPrincess Rouran and the Book of the LivingConfronting Power and Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My LifeThe TwinsMore Than TrumpAlice on a Friday NightThe Revival You Want. The Revival You Need!: The Astonishing Account of the Hebrides Revival and the Strategies We Can ImplementKiller Dead, Victim AliveBy Hook or By CrookForgotten SecretHeading NorthMy Mary: A Story of One Barnardo Home ChildSharks Are Our FriendsDecember: The Spicy TaleUnleash Transformational Leadership: Unlock Your Potential to Empower & Inspire Your Organization and Create a Culture of SuccessA Clove NecklaceThe Ebon KnightRivers and CreaksTheo's Missing LullabyPassion Without Tension?Sun & ShadowForever HumanMale Chauvinism: Tripping on Male DominanceTwilight Twists: Boomers' Belly Laughs & BeyondFrom Man Caves to Man-Buns: Your Unofficial Guide to Understanding the SpeciesFrank's Bloody BooksRoots and Branches: Your Starter Guide to Becoming a Family History DetectiveBeyond the Family Tree: Advanced Tools & Techniques for the Genealogical ExplorerSoftware Tools for Genealogy: Digital Tools for Tracing Family HistoryAncestry Standards for Data Integrity: Getting History Right the First TimePiglet to Bacon: Unmasking Male ChauvinismTimeless Treasures: A Voyage Through European BeadscapesEquinoxHunter to Hunted: Surviving Hitler's Wolf Packs: Diaries of a Merchant Navy Radio Officer, 1939-45Analyzing the PrescottsThe Birthday of EternityDeath Pulls the StringsThe Self-Love Proclamation: Affirmations That Nurture Confidence and Self-WorthGrasslandsHow To Recognize a Soulmate: Your Guide to Soul Level AlignmentThe ContraptionThe Human Trial

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Alcove Press All We Need Publishing
Anaphora Literary Press Baker Books Beaches and Trails Publishing
Bethany House BHC Press Broadleaf Books
CarTech Books Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press
DarkLit Press GladEye Press HB Publishing House
History Through Fiction Islandport Press Kakkle Publications
Lighted Lake Press Liz Fe Lifestyle NeoParadoxa
Petra Books PublishNation Purple Diamond Press
Revell Rootstock Publishing Somewhat Grumpy Press
True Crime Seven Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Thursday, November 9th, 2023

An Interview with Liam Graham

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with economist, philosopher and physicist Liam Graham, an active member on our site—find him at thalassa_thalassa—since 2012. After earning a BA in Theoretical Physics at Cambridge and an MA in Social and Political Thought at the University of Warwick, he completed a PhD in Economics at Birkbeck College, London, going on to spend most of the next fifteen years teaching in the economics department of University College London. Leaving academia in 2018, he has returned to his first love, attempting to answer a question that has been with him since his teenage years: do we need more than physics to understand the world? His research in this area has resulted in the publication of his debut book, Molecular Storms: The Physics of Stars, Cells and the Origin of Life, released this month by Springer International.

OK, let’s start at the beginning. No, not the Big Bang, the beginning of your book! What exactly is a molecular storm, and how can an understanding of how it works aid us in considering larger questions about the nature of time, and our place in the universe?

This story starts right down at the bottom, where the small molecules that make up gases and liquids are in constant motion. To larger objects, this motion is a ferocious bombardment made up of trillions of impacts per second. Scaled up to human dimensions, it would be like a 40,000km/h wind blowing from constantly changing directions. This is the molecular storm. It drives pretty much everything that happens at a molecular level: chemical reactions; flows from hot to cold; winds blowing from high pressure to low pressure; the vortex in your bathtub; what goes on in living cells and hence what goes on inside you.

To understand the wider implications, let’s take a system where the storm isn’t important. To do so, we need to step out of our everyday experience, which is a sign in itself of how dominant the storm is. So tune your ear to the music of the spheres and picture planets orbiting a star. Now, if someone played you a video of the solar system, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether it was running forwards or backwards. In either direction, you would see the planets calmly pursuing their elliptical orbits. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether the film showed past moving toward future or future to past. In this idealised world, there is no arrow of time.

Then turn to a system driven by the storm, such as a gas expanding as a tap is opened or our old friend Humpty Dumpty. If you saw a video of these, you could immediately tell whether it was running backwards or forwards. Gases do not spontaneously contract and pour themselves into a tap. The molecules that make up the ground do not conspire in their movements to make Humpty Dumpty leap up and put himself together again. The arrow of time is a result of the molecular storm.

The study of the molecular storm is called thermodynamics. Everyone I spoke to, whether specialists or non-specialists, said this term is so intimidating that I should keep it off the cover of the book. I took the advice, but one of my aims is to show that in fact thermodynamics is by far the most useful part of physics.

There is some discussion on how many laws of thermodynamics there are, but the poet Allen Ginsberg summarised three of them as “you can’t win, you always lose, you can’t leave the game” (though he apparently lifted this from earlier sources). The second law says that disorder always increases: “you always lose”. It was described by one eminent physicist as the supreme law of nature and it can seem like the organising principle of the universe. But the second law itself is a result of the molecular storm.

Let’s turn to humanity’s place in nature. If you throw a pair of dice for long enough, you’ll see every possible outcome. In the same way, the endless bombardment of the storm constantly shakes systems up and so drives them to explore the possibilities open to them. For reasons that are poorly understood, this seems to mean that systems settle into states which dissipate energy at faster and faster rates. Stars dissipate energy faster than the dust clouds from which they formed. Planets dissipate energy faster than stars. Life is the most recent of these states. A back of the envelope calculation shows that per kilogram a human dissipates 7000 times as much energy as the sun. The one-kilogram laptop I am using to write this dissipates 30 times more energy than a kilogram of me.

This suggests a radically materialist meaning of life. While we talk of evolution and survival of the fittest, progress and technological development, free will or consciousness, these are all just metaphors. The underlying process is simply a random search – driven by the storm – for systems which dissipate energy at faster rates. We are its latest product. If you find this bleak, read Sartre and you’ll see that instead it is liberating.

In the introduction to your book you discuss randomness on the molecular level, and the way in which molecular movement seeks patterns and creates what is, to the human eye, order. Is this contradictory? How can randomness create order?

To start off, we’ve got to be careful with the terminology. Our intuitive ideas of order are, like our intuitive ideas about everything, poor approximations to the physics. The formal concept is entropy, but I can’t go into that in depth here. Instead, I’ll carry on using “order” and “disorder”, but in scare quotes.

The second law tells us you can create “order” in one system as long as you create more “disorder” elsewhere. It’s not so much “you always lose” but “the universe always loses; you can win at its expense”. How does this happen, how does randomness create “order”? The key point is that the storm drives systems to explore the possibilities open to them. Sometimes the system will stumble over an “ordered” structure which is stable. Let’s look at some examples.

Soon after the Big Bang, the universe was a roughly uniform cloud of radiation and particles. This looks to a human eye like a state of maximum “disorder”. Yet now the universe is full of “order” everywhere from galaxies to stars to solar systems to planets to the myriad of structures on planetary surfaces (including you). The change from initial to current state is driven by the molecular storm, along with much interesting physics along the way. However, the move from “disorder’ to “order” is only apparent. Gravity – which our intuition is definitely not built to understand – means that clumped matter is actually more “disordered” than diffuse matter. The “disorder” of the universe as a whole has constantly increased since its beginning.

As another example, let’s think about how evolution might kick off. Take a bunch of chemicals being constantly driven by the storm to explore different reactions. If one of these reactions gives a molecule that can reproduce itself, it will come to dominate the mix as it outcompetes other reactions. Then another storm-driven random change might lead to a molecule that reproduces faster, more reliably or using a wider range of components and this will outcompete the original one. More random changes will lead to further improvements. The rest, as they say, is history. Random changes driven by the storm lead ultimately to life.

Finally, remember the story of Sisyphus doomed to forever push a boulder up a hill (I’ve borrowed this analogy from Life’s Ratchet: How Molecular Machines Extract Order from Chaos by Peter M. Hoffmann, also on LibraryThing as yapete). If we reduced him to a small enough scale, the molecular storm would push his nano-boulder sometimes up and sometimes down the hill. All Sisyphus then has to do is to wait until there is a random push upwards and slip a wedge under the boulder to stop it rolling back. Then he waits until another impact pushes the boulder upwards and again moves the wedge. If he continues doing this, the boulder will roll up the hill powered by the storm. All Sisyphus has to do is select the impacts that push the boulder upwards – most of the physical effort is taken out of his punishment. Directional, “ordered” motion is driven by random impacts. It turns out that some of the most important processes in living cells rely on an analogous method of selecting fluctuations from the storm.

All of these examples create “order” at the expense of “disorder” elsewhere: as a star forms, it increases disorder in the surrounding cloud of dust; as chemical evolution starts, disorder is increased in the environment and Sisyphus increases disorder via the information processing necessary to work out when to move the ratchet. These processes – and everything driven by the storm – hasten the universe towards its final state of maximum “disorder”.

In your career as an economist, your focus has been on macroeconomics, and the mathematical study of complex systems. What insights has your economic work provided in the scientific field, and vice versa?

The main thing I learnt is how fundamentally different the two fields are. A basic requirement for science is the possibility of repeated experiments. We can let an apple drop from a tree again and again. To understand its motion, we can vary its weight, the wind speed or the density of the air. We can even make an “apple” of antimatter and see whether it falls up or down.

Macroeconomics is very different. There is effectively no possibility of experiments. I’d have loved to be able to phone up a friend at the Bank of England and ask them to hike interest rates to 20% to create an almighty recession and help calibrate my model. Thankfully, I couldn’t. But even if I could, it wouldn’t tell me much since the structure of the economy and the policy framework are constantly changing. The same change in policy might have a very different effect 20 years ago or 20 years hence. This means that natural experiments are not much use either: the high inflation of the 1970s has little directly to tell us about the high inflation of today. Macroeconomists are faced with a sequence of one-offs rather than the repeated experiments which are a precondition for scientific

What’s worse is that macroeconomic data is extremely limited. There’s not even a century of good quality data and it is often only measured once every quarter, giving at most 400 data points. By contrast, in 2018 the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva generated over a thousand trillion data points. It’s hard to do good science with small datasets.

But that’s not all. Atoms just go about doing their atomic thing governed by laws unchanging across time or space. But the economy is made up of the decisions of people. And people change the way they make decision depending on what’s happening in the economy. So the one-off nature of the economy penetrates to the heart of the decisions which constitutes it. This is a fascinating area which I started to work on before deciding it was far too difficult.

Your book attempts to answer some deep and longstanding philosophical questions, questions that humanity has grappled with for ages, using physics. Are there philosophical questions science can’t answer, and if so, what are they?

Scientific explanations are only descriptions of the world. If you take a child’s approach of responding “Why?” to every answer, at some point a scientist will have to say, “I don’t know” or “If it wasn’t this way, there’d be no possibility of creatures with the capacity to ask why”. From then on, metaphysics takes over.

Philosophy gets left with the unanswerable questions. For the last few hundred years, science has been reducing the scope of such questions, but some will always remain. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why this set of elementary particles? Why four forces? Why these values for the fundamental constants? Physics particularly struggles with these questions because there is no possibility of repeated experiments. As far as we are concerned, the universe is a one-off and will remain so. Even if our universe is one of many, we are unlikely ever to be able to observe the others. Of course, it may be that the answers to some of these questions will drop out of the maths of some future theory. But then you would still be left with the fascinating question of why maths describes the physical world.

As a long-time LibraryThing member—profile page: thalassa_thalassa—tell us a little bit about how you use the site, and what you particularly enjoy about it.

Rarely a day goes by when I don’t visit the site several times. I use it to organise my library and my research with an ever-growing set of tags. When I finish a book I record the date straight away and usually write a few sentences with my impressions (if I didn’t, I’d forget what I read last week). Deciding what to read next is a constant challenge and I have a long wishlist and another tangle of tags to help. For the past decade or so, I’ve bought mostly ebooks and I use LibraryThing to keep track of them. I dream of (and one day might write) an extension which would allow me to click on a title in LibraryThing and open the ebook from the cloud.

I love glancing through other people’s libraries. From time to time, I message users to ask them for recommendations and this has led to some fascinating exchanges. And I do like all the data, though I’ve stopped looking at the author-by-gender chart as it is going to take me decades to make the balance more reasonable.

Intellectually, the most intense year of my life was my MSc in Philosophy. Imagine spending a year working through the Western philosophical tradition from Plato to the 20th century, reading a couple of texts a week, in discussion with a passionate and engaged teacher. This teacher was the philosopher Gillian Rose. I created her Legacy Library on LibraryThing as an act of remembrance and my book is dedicated to her.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

It’s a bit of a mix, really, reflecting the ebbs and flows of my interests over the years. Reading literary fiction is necessary for my sanity and I’m not averse to the odd scifi novel from time to time, though I get unreasonably annoyed when an author plays fast and loose with the science. The thing that never ceases to delight me is the way novels come along and do something entirely, erm, novel. This doesn’t happen often but when it does I treasure it. From the last couple of decades I’d list The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq; A Girl’s Story by Annie Ernaux, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman; Phone by Will Self; Orfeo by Richard Powers and Cher Connard by Virginie Despentes.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading mainly physics while preparing the proposal for my second book. In between, novels I’ve particularly enjoyed are An Impossible Love by Christine Angot; My Husband by Maud Ventura and The Course of Love by Alain de Boton. I’m also re-reading Zola’s 20 volume Rougon-Macquart series, in order this time. There’s nothing quite like the gritty realism of his depictions of 19th century life; Dickens is prissy by comparison. And the plots are often so gripping that I find myself skipping descriptive passages to get back to the action. My favourites so far are L’Assommoir and The Bright Side of Life. It was all going well but now, with 6 still to go, I’m a bit bogged down. It may take the right kick from the molecular storm to get me going again.

Labels: author interview, interview

Monday, November 6th, 2023

SantaThing 2023: Bookish Secret Santa!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the Seventeenth Annual SantaThing is here at last!

This year we’re once again focusing on indie bookstores. You can still order Kindle ebooks, we have Kenny’s and Blackwell’s for international orders, and also stores local to Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.

What is SantaThing?

SantaThing is “Secret Santa” for LibraryThing and Litsy members.

How it Works

You pay $15–$50 and pick your favorite bookseller. We match you with a participant, and you play Santa by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

SantaThing is a joint effort between LibraryThing and Litsy. When signing up, you can opt to give and receive from members of only one community or the other, or either.

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others. Click on an existing SantaThing profile to leave a suggestion.

Every year, LibraryThing members give generously to each other through SantaThing. If you’d like to donate an entry, or want to participate, but it’s just not in the budget this year, be sure to check out our Donations Thread here, run once again by our fantastic volunteer member, mellymel1713278.

Important Dates

Sign-ups close MONDAY, November 27th at 12pm EST. By the next day, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

You’ll then have a week to pick your books, until MONDAY, December 4th at 12pm EST (16:00 GMT). As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

Supporting Indie Bookstores

To support indie bookstores we’re teaming up with independent bookstores from around the country to deliver your SantaThing picks, including BookPeople in Austin, TX, Longfellow Books in Portland, ME, and Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.

And after last year’s success, we’re bringing back the following foreign retail partners: Readings for our Australian participants, Time Out Books for the Kiwi participants, and Kennys for our Irish friends.

And since Book Depository has closed, this year we’re offering international deliveries through Kennys and Blackwell’s.

Kindle options are available to all members, regardless of location. To receive Kindle ebooks, your Kindle must be registered on (not, .ca, etc.). See more information about all the stores.


Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $6 less in books, to cover shipping costs. You can find details about shipping costs and holiday ordering deadlines for each of our booksellers here on the SantaThing Help page.
» Go sign up now!

Questions? Comments?

This is our SEVENTEENTH year of SantaThing. See the SantaThing Help page further details and FAQ.
Feel free to ask your questions over on this Talk topic, or you can contact Kate directly at
Happy SantaThinging!

Labels: santathing, Uncategorized

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

November 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the November 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 207 books this month, and a grand total of 4,309 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, November 27th at 6PM EST.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Croatia, Poland and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

The Irish MatchmakerThe Seafarer's SecretTime Travel for Fun and ProphetWe're Going Home: A True Story of Life and DeathThe Spirituality of Dreaming: Unlocking the Wisdom of Our Sleeping SelvesSouth of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from SpainGreen Mountain AcademyMr. Jimmy from Around the WaySpit and PolishI'm Going to Be a PrincessFatal WitnessSunrise and the Real WorldJust up the Road: A Year Discovering People, Places, and What Comes Next in the Pine Tree StateOf Starlight and MidnightBilly and the Giant AdventureThe Denim Diaries: A MemoirDracula Beyond Stoker Issue 3: The Bloofer LadyPut It on Record: A Memoir-ArchiveGreensideMy Big Fantastic FamilyTributaries: Essays from Woods and WatersThe Plantastic CookbookTrue Crime Trivia 2: Test Your Knowledge of Serial Killers, Cults, Cold Cases, Mysteries, Organized Crimes & More with 300 Chilling & Fascinating Quiz QuestionsA Change in Destiny: Dark ChoicesSuper Natural Family International Cookbook: A Healthy and Playful Global Recipe CollectionDonut Feel Bad About Being SadLittle Things, Complex MattersHouse of Fat Man: Rules in the Golden TriangleEverything Starts from Prayer: Mother Teresa's Meditations on Spiritual Life for People of All FaithsEmbers in the London SkyThe Road To Second ChanceThe Judas Tree - Book 1Champions of the FoxJosie, Johnnie and Rosie and the Ocean Rescue!Sound Switch WonderThe Splish-Splash Puddle Dance!Notes from the Porch: Tiny True Stories to Make You Feel Better about the WorldThe Hampton House MysteryMurtaghThe Ultimate True Crime Trivia Book: A Compilation of Fascinating Facts & Disturbing Details About Infamous Serial Killers, Mysteries, Cold Cases & Everything In BetweenThe Music: New and Selected Poems, 1973-2023Tender HeadedAn Artist Among the Wind Horses of MongoliaMusic Head: A Memoir of PurposeSnapshots of a Life: EssaysPainting the Grand Homes of California's Central ValleyThe Gift Sensitivity: The Extraordinary Power of Emotional Engagement in Life and WorkSpark and TetherHeavy OceansDrag Racing's Rebels: How the AHRA Changed Quarter-Mile CompetitionThe Spartan ChroniclesOur Global Lingua Franca: An Educator’s Guide to Spreading English Where EFL Doesn’t WorkESPionage: Regime ChangeThe Infinite Loop / El Lazo InfinitoPrincess Rouran and the Dragon Chariot of 10,000 SagesChocolate & Wine Cookbook & Party Guide: Your Complete Guide To Chocolate Delights, Decorations, and DestinationsThe Greatest ThingA Change of ReignBlood of GodsThe Foxhole Victory TourUp from Dust: Martha's StoryA Season of HarvestCold ThreatSecrets, Lies and Seagull Cries: Wath Mill AllotmentsLost SoulsTrue or False Mazes: HalloweenTrue or False Mazes: Two Exits - Only One Exit Is RealLeaving Bacon Behind: A How-to Guide to Jewish ConversionCrushThe Christmas DilemmaiPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max: The Complete Photography GuideHollowPolyphemusThe Gardens of ByzantiumThe Wrong Way HomeTrue Crime Trivia 2: Test Your Knowledge of Serial Killers, Cults, Cold Cases, Mysteries, Organized Crimes & More with 300 Chilling & Fascinating Quiz QuestionsThe Butterfly That Learnt to FlyBeautiful Little FuriesThe King's FeatherNo More Happy Endings: Eight Short StoriesThe Pied Pipers Be BraveKevin Wilks and the Mirror of SoulsSolarpunk CreaturesSchool Improvement Planning Made Easy: An AI Guide for School Leaders and Subject LeadersThe Trade Detective Investigating How to Make Money Online and Live WealthyStrange and Twisted ThingsHow to DanceHollywood HustleBad Girls Break BridgesPractice Tests for the Digital SAT (2024)Digital SAT Reading and Writing Practice Questions (2024)Digital SAT Math Practice Questions (2024)It Hurts Every TimeIn Search of the Lambs and Other StoriesAtom Bomb BabyRise and Shine Little Man: Memories of a Seaside ChildhoodBoxes of Time: StoriesThe Trade Detective Investigating How to Day Trade For A LivingPaper & FeathersSelf-Help Simplified!: Insights on Maximizing the Benefits of Self-Help BooksNights RainbowThe Philistine SolutionA Prisoner's LoveThe Chinitz Zion Haggadah: How to Teach the Love of Israel at Your Seder: A Traditional Haggadah with Modern InterpretationThe Condor's RiddleCrude DeceptionEverything Slows Down: My Hidden Life with Depression: How I Survived, What I LearnedUncertain LuckHave It AllCurtains on A Christmas CarolClassic Short Stories by Trailblazing WomenPacific StateHow to Find A Job: 30 Day PlanMindfireThe Wall Pilates Workout Book For Women: 28 Day Challenge Exercises For Weight Loss, Better Posture, Flexibility, Strength, and BalanceThe Morgan Film: A JFK Assassination StoryGrasslandsThe Scream: Poems from the Outside and from Within, 2013-2023Dragon ClassWalking the White Horses: Wiltshire's White Horse Trail on FootDouble Dead MagicProvidencePlanetary Civilization: Why capitalism will never be sustainableShattered RemnantsChallenge AccceptedThe Eternal ExperimentsThe Lazarus KeyFoxholesThe Sea Something...Whispers of the PastThe Journeyer and the Pilgrimage for the Origin of MagicAlice Ravenwood and the Tomb of Saint GeorgeThe Painter's LegacyA Mirror for The Blind: Reflections of a Digital SeoulThe Long NightThat DayMicro Authority: How to Accelerate Your Distinction in a Croweded Market in the Era of SpeedSun & ShadowSeed of VexSpiked: Here's to RevengeSun of the Father: A Story of Awakening to the Light WithinBeware the GrumbleForever HumanInside Harare Alcatraz and Other Short StoriesDark LatitudeThe Harder They FallFifteen Minutes: Bamboozled in BuffaloHow To Recognize a Soulmate: Your Guide to Soul Level AlignmentHunter to Hunted: Surviving Hitler's Wolf Packs: Diaries of a Merchant Navy Radio Officer, 1939-45Song of SpheresShelby and the First RideShelby's Horse-Filled SummerFigures Crossing the Field Towards the GroupStick Taps: An Ode to Hockey's Heartbeats and HeroesTwo Players, One Family: How Gaming Unites UsThe Balance Point: Charting America's Fiscal RenaissancePiglet to Bacon: Unmasking Male ChauvinismToxic Feminism: Understanding the Root CausesToxic Misandry: A Deep Dive into DiscriminationTimeless Treasures: A Voyage Through European BeadscapesFrom Dad Bods to Ab Gods: The Hilarious Truth About Male Beautification in the Age of InstagramChristmas CupidTwilight Twists: Boomers' Belly Laughs & BeyondThe Green Beer Diaries: St. Patrick, Leprechauns, and a Whole Lot of HopsThe Toadacious Tales of the MeadowRoots and Branches: Your Starter Guide to Becoming a Family History DetectiveLondon LabyrinthsFrom Man Caves to Man-Buns: Your Unofficial Guide to Understanding the SpeciesClucked: A Quirky Nautical Tale of Adventure, Misadventure, and Justice ServedDublin City MorgueTrust the TerrierA Clove NecklaceHow to Write a Book: Taking the Plunge into Non-Fiction and Conquering Your New Writer Fears and DoubtsBlackie’s Surprise VisitWild Bolts ElectricEnchanted by the Enigmatic DukePersonal Finance for Teens Simplified: 7 Easy-to-Learn Strategies for Conquering Debt, Understanding the Value of Money, and Achieving Financial IndependenceSuccess Planning for High Schooler: Guiding Towards Bright FutureEmo Reality: The Biography of Teenage Borderline Personality DisorderThe Fae ConspiracyThe Fae ConflictAnalyzing the PrescottsIn the Shadow of the LuminariesThe GamblerThe Liar100 Walls to Be Broken: How to Break the Limits of Your Mind and Your HeartFlourishing Love: A Secular Guide to Lasting Intimate RelationshipsCosmic Egg IncMarlenhBlood for Pearls: The First American GenocideI Have To Let You GoThe Frightful Tales of Louis & LovelyO'shaughnessy Investigations, Inc: The Cases Nobody WantedRivers and CreaksThe Ebon KnightStardust Over the SekrEnglish Grammar: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Learners of English with AnswersToo Little, Too Late?Our Global Lingua Franca: An Educator’s Guide to Spreading English Where EFL Doesn’t WorkChildren of HeavenThe Self-Love Proclamation: Self-Love Affirmations That Nurture Confidence and Self-WorthChasing the Sun: A Complete Guide to Spiritual AwakeningTossed in Time: Steering by the Christian Seasons (Expanded Edition)Secrets Gnaw at the FleshTwelve Past MidnightSorceress for HirePerestroika: An Eye for an Eye, a Tooth for a Tooth

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Alcove Press Aquarius Press
Beaufort Books Best Day Books For Young Readers Bethany House
Beyond Class Books BHC Press Brain Lag
Broadleaf Books CarTech Books City Owl Press
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Crooked Lane Books DarkLit Press
DBS Press Gefen Publishing House Gilded Orange Books
Hawkwood Books History Through Fiction Islandport Press
Kakkle Publications Lerner Publishing Group Lighted Lake Press
Mirror World Publishing Nosy Crow US Perch & Pen Books
Personville Press Petra Books PublishNation
Real Nice Books Revell Revenant Creative Studio
Rootstock Publishing Secant Publishing Somewhat Grumpy Press
True Crime Seven Tundra Books Useful Publishing
Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group World Weaver Press
ZMT Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Come Join the 2023 Halloween Hunt!

It’s October, and that means the return of our annual Halloween Hunt!

We’ve scattered a troupe of jack-o-lanterns around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a jack-o-lantern. Each clue points to a specific page on LibraryThing. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a jack-o-lantern on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have just two weeks to find all the jack-o-lanterns (until 11:59pm EDT, Tuesday October 31st).
  • Come brag about your troupe of jack-o-lanterns (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two jack-o-lanterns will be
    awarded a jack-o-lantern Badge ().
  • Members who find all 12 jack-o-lanterns will be entered into a drawing for one of five LibraryThing (or TinyCat) prizes. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

P.S. Thanks to conceptDawg for the ghostly flamingo illustration!

Labels: halloween, treasure hunt

Monday, October 16th, 2023

Welcome Ganawa!

LibraryThing is pleased to welcome Ganawa (LibraryThing: Ganawa, Litsy: ganawa) to the team, as our new Systems Administrator!

With a wealth of I.T. experience, Ganawa will be working behind the scenes as our systems administrator/reliability engineer, in order to ensure that all of our sites and products—, TinyCat, Syndetics Unbound, and—run smoothly.

Say hello on the Welcome Ganawa Talk topic.

About Ganawa:

Ganawa was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the University of Dallas. He has worked in various I.T. roles, supporting companies large and small in multiple positions, from support to engineering.

Ganawa lives in the rural suburbs outside of Dallas with his wife Lauren, his two sons Joel and Miles, and his three dogs Sammi, Sawyer, and Sophie. He enjoys binge-watching old T.V. shows with his wife, staying involved in his local community, spending time outdoors with a very active toddler, and dabbling with technology in his home lab.

Favorite Books:

The Power of Who: You Already Know Everyone You Need to Know by Bob Beaudine
Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution by Francis Fukuyama
All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer

LibraryThing Member: Ganawa
Litsy Member: ganawa

Labels: employees

Friday, October 13th, 2023

Welcome Molly!

LibraryThing is pleased to welcome Molly (LibraryThing: mice_elf, Litsy: mollyp) to the team, as our Junior Librarian and Developer!

A library person who loves working with people and computers, she will be working across the site, providing technical support to our members, working on bugs and development projects, and helping out with social media. She gets to keep the $1000 book bounty, and is excited to spend it at the Brookline Booksmith.

Say hello on the Welcome Molly Talk topic.

About Molly
Molly was born in upstate New York and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended the University of Vermont, where she completed a BA in Anthropology and enjoyed lots of outdoor adventures and local produce. She discovered her passion for library technology while completing her MLIS at Simmons University in Boston. Molly worked at the Boston Architectural College Library before joining LibraryThing and has a soft spot for architectural history and glossy design magazines.

Molly lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her sister. She loves to spend her time cooking, playing guitar, running, biking, rock climbing, birding, and knitting.

Favorite Authors: Alison Bechdel, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel García Márquez and Mary Oliver

LibraryThing Member: mice_elf
Litsy Member: mollyp

Labels: employees

Thursday, October 12th, 2023

An Interview with Rebecca Renner

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author and journalist Rebecca Renner, a National Geographic contributor whose work has also appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Outside Magazine, Tin House, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and others. A former high school English teacher, she earned an MFA in fiction writing from Stetson University, but will make her book debut next month with Gator Country: Deception, Danger, and Alligators in the Everglades, a nonfiction look at the world of Florida alligator poaching to be published by Flatiron Books.

Set in the Florida Everglades, Gator Country follows the exploits of a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the world of alligator poachers. How did you discover this story and what drew you to it? Did you meet Jeff Babauta first, or did you come across him in the course of researching the broader topic?

The first time I heard the story of Operation Alligator Thief, it came to me as a rumor from one of my high school students. He and I had already been talking about poaching, storytelling, and thornier questions like, “Who owns nature? Is it right for anyone to make that claim?” When this student told me about Operation Alligator Thief, the rumors had blown some facts of the case out of proportion while entirely underplaying others. He described the undercover officer as a shapeshifter who had created a fake alligator farm to catch poachers, like a trap out of a movie. In other words, it all sounded too bizarre to be true. Yet, as Floridians, my student and I knew better: here, the truth is often stranger than fiction.

Wanting to know what really happened, we asked around about the story, but neither of us could find a trace of the officer behind it all. He had disappeared before the sting began, and no one without inside information could find him. In my journalism career, I’ve found that challenges, rather than discouraging me, compel me to try harder, to look deeper. So no matter how many challenges I faced with this story, I could never quite let it go. A few years later, after I had quit teaching to write full-time, a former intelligence operative helped me track Jeff down, and I talked to him on the phone several times before he opened up enough to really tell me his story. It’s almost funny to look back on the days when Jeff didn’t trust me yet, because now he’ll text me out of the blue like it’s no big deal—because it isn’t! That’s fresh in my mind, because he texted me right before I sat down to do this interview.

What makes the Everglades such a special place, and what role does this ecosystem play in your story? If you were writing a tourism brochure for the region, what would you say to emphasize its appeal?

There’s a category of natural landscape that elicits such an automatic reaction of awe that it feels like there’s something more primordial at work than merely a reaction to our own smallness in comparison to their magnitude. Think the Grand Canyon or the magnificent redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. A subcategory of these awe-inspiring landscapes are the ones that don’t really translate to the internet, that pictures seldom do justice, the ones you have to see to believe. The Everglades is one of these places to the point where you can tell when someone has been to the Everglades and taken time to sit and witness them. People who haven’t think that the Everglades are just a swamp or just an infinite landscape of grass and not much else. But people who have experienced the Everglades speak of them with reverence. They are one of nature’s cathedrals, home to myriad ecosystems as varied as the freshwater sloughs and marl prairies you might picture when you think of the Everglades, to hardwood hammocks and cypress domes bristling with orchids and head-high ferns like something out of Jurassic Park. And that’s just the beginning.

The ecosystems in which the story plays out serve as more than backdrops. Among many things, they reminded me of what we have to lose when we choose consumerism over the wellbeing of the planet and of ourselves. In my own part of the narrative, my experience in the landscape of the Everglades led me to an epiphany about the ecosystems I grew up in a little north of there in Central Florida. Similarly, the landscape acted as motivation for Jeff. Many people act like saving nature is a lost cause, and I think part of that is because they don’t spend enough time in nature to realize it’s still there. So there are several scenes in the book when Jeff is standing in awe of the natural world around him, and that helps him remember why he’s doing the difficult things he has to do to complete his mission: If we lose nature, we don’t just lose a habitat. We don’t just lose a playground. We lose a part of ourselves.

In this same vein, I got really lucky with the guy, John Pirhalla, who is the main narrator of the audiobook for Gator Country. While I was still writing the book, I was pulling to do the narration myself. In the past, narrators haven’t done my long-form journalism justice. They have missed not only the appropriate cadence of my words, but I have also felt like the heart in my descriptions has disappeared. I was adamant about not letting that happen with Gator Country, and I didn’t have high hopes for a narrator until I listened to John’s audition. I was mesmerized. I listened to several minutes of that recording, on the edge of my seat, as if I didn’t know exactly what was about to happen. He had the cadence of my words right. He pronounced even the weirdest place names correctly. But most of all, it was the sense of awe that came through in his voice that gripped me and didn’t let me go. I was not surprised, when I finally talked to John on the phone, to hear that he had paddled the Everglades Wilderness Waterway, that he and his wife are avid birders. The Everglades had caught hold of his heart, just like they had for me, just like they had for Jeff. The Everglades has a kind of magnetism: once you fall in love with the glades, it’s part of you forever. You will be drawn back to the place and to the other people who have fallen in love, too.

Alligators (and other crocodilians!) often have a strange fascination for us—part fear, part attraction. Why are they an important species, and are there things people get wrong about them? What is the most interesting thing you learned about them, in the course of your research?

Most people already know or at least aren’t surprised by the fact that alligators are apex predators. But most animals play multiple roles in their ecosystems. Alligators are no exception. They are also ecosystem engineers, meaning that the ways they modify the ecosystem for their own use also benefit other creatures. The holes they dig can become dens or nests for smaller animals. Even by digging and sliding in the mud, alligators can distribute nutrients to surrounding plants, benefitting stationary flora and helping whole ecosystems to thrive. By the same measure, they’re a keystone species. Their nesting activity helps create peat, a carbon sink, among other things. They may even be a sentinel species, animals who indicate the wellbeing of a habitat (and its safety for humans), as their populations are so sensitive to the effects of temperature and sea-level rise. I’m constantly learning new things about alligators, and I wrote a book about them, so it’s safe to say that most people don’t realize how important they are to their ecosystems.

But the most important thing most people seem to get wrong about alligators is how intelligent they are and the depth and breadth of emotion they seem to express. While researching this book, I have seen alligators forge bonds with humans that go so far beyond what you would expect. To me, alligators are fascinating in part because they are so mysterious. For many of us, our cultures have conditioned us to see alligators as terrifying beasts, mythic monsters made mundane by modernity. (Bonus points for accidental alliteration!) But they’re neither. They’re cousins to birds, and perhaps just as intelligent. The largest alligators alive today could be 60 to 70 years old, meaning that they have survived since their species was considered endangered. There is still so much we don’t know about them. Yet the more we learn, the more we understand about their ecosystems and our world as a whole.

That’s a big difference from the animal that’s a subject of zany memes. However, I’ve also learned that we can’t discount the impact of those memes. And I’m not just saying that because the guy who runs the Gators Daily twitter account helped me research part of this book. Recent studies have shown that memes about “unappealing” species positively impact the awareness of and engagement with conservation efforts concerning those species. So I guess the takeaway here is, if you love something, make it a meme? Or in my case, a book that is sometimes funny. That’s one last thing I learned while writing this book: Alligators sure do make humans act silly.

Although the natural world is a key element of your book, the human interaction with that world is also an essential part of the story. One reviewer noted that your book offers an exploration of the ”blurry lines” between poachers and conservationists. What are some of your takeaways, when it comes to the human story of alligator poaching? Were there things you learned which surprised you, or which you found particularly interesting or moving?

I went into this book with a view of poachers that I quickly found did not align with reality. When I pictured poachers, I thought of big game hunters gunning down endangered rhinos. But it turns out that’s not what the typical poacher looks like, and hurting nature is seldom their motivation. While big-game poaching and larger organized smuggling rings do exist and are a big problem, most poachers are either the bottom rungs of larger operations or not part of an organization at all, and they’re breaking the law on accident (more common than I thought, for sure) or to make ends meet using the skills they know best. They know more about nature than most people, and they might even engage in wilderness upkeep activities that they might not even realize fall under the umbrella of conservation. This is true of one of the “mysteries” I investigated down in the Everglades, so I won’t spoil it for you by getting specific. Let’s just say even I was shocked when I came to this particular realization.

When it comes to the human story of alligator conservation, I realized that when outsiders talk about poaching, the poachers often become scapegoats for problems that have affected them rather than ones they’ve created. Habitat loss at the hands of construction—of housing developments, of commercial areas, and even of roadways—has had far more impact on alligator populations than poaching ever could. Some people get mad when I say this, thinking I’m defending crime. The reality is that I’m a stickler for the truth. The raw numbers, the statistics here, are what made me come to this conclusion. In fact, the statistics challenged the beliefs I held when I started researching this story. I’m not even a hunter. I’m just a perennial questioner of authority.

This realization has made me question my perspective and the previous conclusions I’ve read about conservation that I’ve assumed to be true. Now, whenever I see someone blaming hunting as the reason for the downturn of a species, I question it. Sometimes hunting is indeed to blame, but it’s seldom the whole story. Even in the case of the American bison, which many of us have been taught were slaughtered by colonialist powers (which is true), the downturn of the species also happened in part because of bovine diseases that jumped from cattle introduced to the plains by American ranchers. Knowing the whole story doesn’t excuse our impact on nature, and in the cases of the bison and the alligator, the cultures that depend upon those animals. Instead, I believe that when we reveal these nuances, we can gain a new understanding of who controlled the original narrative, why they blamed who they blamed, and what they had to gain from that. It might be different for every animal, but I see some similarities. In the case of the American alligator, deflecting blame for their downturn onto illegal hunting meant that other activities that put pressure on the species, namely construction, could continue unchecked. People who paved, drove through, and lived in the alligator’s habitat would have someone else to blame while being able to ignore their own impact on nature, and the even greater influence wielded by powers such as corporations who benefitted from nature’s destruction.

You are a prolific journalist, publishing numerous shorter pieces in National Geographic and many other publications. Gator Country is your first book-length work to be released. Were there challenges, or things you particularly enjoyed about writing a longer work, compared to some of your shorter pieces?

This is silly, but one of the best (and worst!) things about shorter-form journalism is the more-or-less instant feedback you get on it, first from your editor then from your readers. I’ve had several stories go viral, and that has been scary and exciting, but I think it also conditioned me to want instant praise (or criticism) for my work. The more I think about this, the more I feel like that desire for instant feedback may not be for praise but for human interaction.

Writing, no matter the genre, is a solitary endeavor. As a very young writer, I wrote novels and posted chapters on the internet for friends to read. My best friends in high school, who I thank in my acknowledgements, were avid readers of my work long before it was any good. Writing has always been my main form of self expression and the way I interacted with the world. So, in writing something longer, I had to find a way to keep going without the instant feedback that comes with shorter publication cycles. Luckily, my editor and my agent stepped into these roles so I wouldn’t feel like I was writing into the void. I’m truly indebted to them for that, especially because I wrote this book during the pandemic when all of us were feeling isolated. Needless to say, I’m trying to be more social now, but I’m having the opposite problem. I’ve gotten too used to being alone.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

My shelves are extremely varied. I started off my writing life as a fiction writer. I wrote my first book, a fantasy novel, when I was 15; and no, it’s never going to see the light of day. I always wanted to be a novelist, and I’d written five (I think?) in my teens and 20s I won’t even show to my agent. That doesn’t include a fantasy novel that I’ve written and scrapped several times. I started writing it when I was 19, and now that I’m finally a good enough writer to do it justice, it has almost a decade and a half of world building and just as many years of devouring fantasy novels. These have been as varied as classics like the works of C.S. Lewis and Ursula K. Le Guin, to sci-fi’s golden age heroes like Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Philip K. Dick, to modern superstars like Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novik, and Leigh Bardugo. I could go on and on and on.

Another big part of my library is, of course, nonfiction. When I was a teenager, I thought nonfiction was boring. Then I discovered narrative nonfiction. The very first narrative nonfiction book that I read—the one that made me realize that nonfiction could be just as engrossing and exciting as fiction—was The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. As I got older, I read a lot of narrative nonfiction as research for fiction. Before I knew it, I was devouring just as much nonfiction as I was fantasy. There’s a special place in my heart reserved for narrative nonfiction books about nature. It wasn’t until after college that I read one of my absolute favorites, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. My dad had just died, and I was stuck in my home town and working a dead-end job, down and out in paradise, as I like to say. I remember reading how Outside Magazine had sent him to write the story that would become that book, and I thought, That’s the life I want to live. That’s what I want to do. Six years later, Outside Magazine sent me to the Everglades, and about a year after that, I sold Gator Country. Between those two bookends, I read so much narrative nonfiction. Two of my favorite authors whose work I read in that time are David Grann and Susan Orlean, so I was blown away that my publisher (without me saying so!) chose to compare my book to their work. I guess when you’re a writer, you are what you read.

I also like to read literary fiction, thrillers, classics, and… okay, pretty much everything. But for a while, right after college, I made myself a course of study that I would call the Art of Suspense. I read Time’s best 100 thriller and mystery books of all time and I tried to figure out the best things each of those books did and how I could use those techniques in my own writing. Some of my favorites from that were Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

I’m one of those weird people who reads 50 books at once. Here’s a random smattering of stuff I’m either currently reading or that I’ve just finished.

I’m considering writing a book about dolphins, so I’m digging into that topic, and I’ve run into a problem: Susan Casey already wrote the perfect dolphin book, Voices in the Ocean. Honestly, this is the best kind of problem to have, because now I get to enjoy that book.

I’m also trying to figure out comps for my fantasy book, so my agent and I are doing kind of a buddy read of Babel by R.F. Kuang. While the plot isn’t much like my book, it does share a certain vibe, and the writing is spectacular. I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I definitely recommend it.

A book that I want to read that I think would pair well with Gator Country is Crossings by Ben Goldfarb. I don’t explicitly talk about road construction’s impact on wildlife in Gator Country, but that’s just fine, because Ben has it covered from every possible angle.

Okay, one last one. I’m late to this one, too, but SPQR by Mary Beard. Apparently, I’m not the only one who constantly thinks about the Roman Empire. But the thing I come back to again and again—which SPQR hasn’t mentioned yet—are the insulae, which were essentially ancient apartment buildings. They don’t sound great. They were especially prone to fire and collapse, and I wonder more frequently than I think is normal what it was like to live in one. So I’m looking forward to reading Beard’s new book, Emperor of Rome, even though it probably won’t talk about insulae.

Labels: author interview, interview

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

October 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the October 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 191 books this month, and a grand total of 3,535 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Wednesday, October 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Ireland, Germany, Japan and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Second-Chance Horses: True Stories of the Horses We Rescue and the Horses Who Rescue UsDino Doo Dah: Dino Rhymes for Modern TimesThe Seamstress of AcadieThe Three Little MittensAlis the AviatorPluto Rocket: Joe Pidge Flips a LidThe Tragically Hip ABCThe Doors Unhinged: Jim Morrison's Legacy Goes on TrialArthi's BommaThe Last ImmortalThe First InvasionUnderstanding Basic Electricity: A Non-Technical Introduction for EveryoneSky of Ashes, Land of DreamsThe Godhead ComplexDouble TakeThe Divine Proverb of StreuselA Dugout to PeaceSound Switch WonderWe Are Shadows: An Irish Ghost StoryThe Seaside CorpseFreddie the FlyerHow to Decorate a Christmas TreeThe Only Way to Make BreadA Winter by the SeaCalling on the MatchmakerGreyhowlerEast Jerusalem NoirWest Jerusalem NoirWeave Me a Crooked BasketLittle Red ShadowThe Haunting of BlackwaterWhen They BeckonInfernoFerren and the AngelMy Life As a Prayer: A Multifaith MemoirWild Grace: PoemsAmerica's Best Ideas: My National Parks JournalPilgrims of the Upper WorldThe PalisadesLottery of SecretsThe Adventures of Tommy BonesFatal EncounterA Loss Mum's Journal...BalaclavaThe First Christmas NightFirst Words of ChristmasA Blacksmithing Primer: A Course in Basic and Intermediate BlacksmithingDown the Treacle WellCloud RunnerSelected Verse of Émile Nelligan: Québec’s Great Lyric PoetBoxes of Time: StoriesCamaro Concept Cars: Developing Chevrolet's Pony CarThe Chinitz Zion Haggadah: How to Teach the Love of Israel at Your Seder(IN)SIGHTS: Thirty Years of Peacemaking in the Olso ProcessTales from a Teaching Life: Vignettes in VerseNative Knowings: Wisdom Keys for One and AllCrow Dark DawnDaylight ComesVéronique's MoonPersonal Finance Essentials You Always Wanted to Know-2023Marketing Management Essentials You Always Wanted to Know (Third Edition)Writing Impressive College Essays (2023)With God We BurnDE-173Destiny of Daring: Never ForgetAnne DaresCatfish RollingPine Island VisitorsThe Portal KeeperScaredy Squirrel Gets FestiveSeekers of the FoxThe Little Books of the Little BrontësSupply Jane and Fifo Fix the FlowThe World at His FeetElephant of Sadness, Butterfly of JoyMardi Gras in New OrleansThe Old Gods EndureThe Presidents Did What, Again?EmberHow to Spot a FakeMad DashMad DashBad Luck in LoveDreaming Myself into Old Age: One Woman's Search for MeaningThe Stark Beauty of Last ThingsThe Paladin Chronicles IThe Taste Bud Diet: Harness the Power of Taste to Lose Weight Safely and Keep It Off PermanentlyThe Nowhere RoomOur Global Lingua Franca: An Educator’s Guide to Spreading English Where EFL Doesn’t WorkThe Strongest HeartSword of AudanteiThrough the Summerlands: A Celtic and Catholic Spiritual JourneySmuggler's GuiltThe Prism SocietyJourneys of the Lost: The Saga of CaneEat So What! The Science of Fat-Soluble VitaminsMarlenhBe as Happy as Your Dog: 16 Dog-Tested Ways to Be Happier Using Pawsitive PsychologyLauren in the LimelightAll Body Bags and No KnickersThe Gift of Sensitivity: Extraordinary Power of Emotional Engagement in Life and WorkBeach of the DeadFoxholesAnimals: An Adult Coloring Book with Lions, Dogs, Horses, Elephants, Owls, Cats, and Many More!Who to BelieveMan-KillerKing of the Mountains: The Remarkable Story of Giuseppe Musolino, Italy's Most Famous OutlawThe Prism SocietyThe Committee Will Kill You NowA Bright SummerThe Taste Bud Diet: Harness the Power of Taste to Lose Weight Safely and Keep It Off PermanentlyThe Naga Outcast's Unwanted MateHonorFlourishing Love: A Secular Guide to Lasting Intimate RelationshipsRaven RockFrom Worrier to Warrior: Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Overthinking and Living ConfidentlyClarity of SightChallenge AcceptedThe Rainbow of Life: Soothing, Comforting, Clever and Funny End-of-Life Inspirations for Family, Friends and CaregiversThe Rainbow of Life: Soothing, Comforting, Clever and Funny End-of-Life Inspirations for Family, Friends & CaregiversArtistic Yogi: Journey of a ChangemakerThe Fateful CurseChatGPT Cheat Sheet2024… Your Year of More: Plan Your Goals and Invest Your EffortsA Forest AdventureMagic by Any Other NameThe Billionaires' ClubTetherlessGaspard, dix ans, voyageur du temps.StarlightSacred WitcheryThe PlanetwalkerShelby and the First RideBlood in the Water: An Account of Workplace BullyingNon-Fiction for Newbies: How to Write a Factual Book and Actually Kind of Enjoy ItDid I Really Mean to Buy a Horse? What to Do When Your Horse Is Acting Like a Monster, and When (and How) to Call for HelpThe Last HorsemanMac: The Wind Beneath My WingsThe Last Flame RiderFive Lords of DuskDeathless RepublicDeath Maze Deluxe EditionHelipads in HeavenHow to Find a Job: 30 Day PlanAccidental Immortal: Lost in Another WorldVeil of DoubtA Heart Made of Tissue PaperInto the MarrowLittle Things, Complex MattersLost Present: A Christmas Short StoryThe Lost Souls of GuayaquilStrange And Twisted ThingsIn the Shadow of the LuminariesThe Red CitadelTo Hunt a Holy ManIridesceStrength Training for Seniors: Rewrite Your Fitness Journey Using Simple and Effective Exercises That Help You Improve Balance, Build Confidence and Boost EnergyThe Volunteer's SuspicionChronically in Christ: A Devotional for Those with Chronic IllnessThe Thief and the HistorianPhil, The KillerDancing MountainWords with My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent TimesAngel Girl AwakeningThe Strategist Code: The Timeless System of the Titans of Strategy: How the Heroes of History Exploited the Code to Conquer & Command the World: Napoleon's 16-Factor Framework for Strategic MasteryThe Path of OneCatsitter's CurseHalf a Cup of Sand and SkyClose Encounters in King Edmund's CourtThe Monster Within: A True Story of Bloodthirst, Brutality and Barbaric EvilO'Shaughnessy Investigations, Inc: The Cases Nobody WantedFamiliars and FoesTaking the Alpha KingLoopholeThe Eye of KseraVegan Snack Cookbook: Quick and Easy; Tasty, Fun, and YummyI, AIAt What Cost?Pick An Airport...! Entertaining and Insightful Stories of a World-Weary PhysiotherapistFive WishesHalf a Cup of Sand and SkyAssault on the Spider Necromancer's Lair Deluxe EditionRise of the YBelonging SeasonMy Miles And MeThe Big Book of Sudoku Puzzles: Absolute Beginner to EasyCandy Cane Cookie CrushAugust: The Spicy TaleThe Burning QuestionSummary and Journal: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert OppenheimerTesting the Prisoner

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Akashic Media Enterprises Artisan Ideas
Bethany House BHC Press CarTech Books
Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
Doo Dah Publishing Entrada Publishing eSpec Books
Gefen Publishing House Gilded Orange Books Hawkwood Books
IFWG Publishing International Lerner Publishing Group Marina Publishing Group
Personville Press Petra Books Pioneer Publishing
PublishNation Quiet Thunder Publishing Revell
Rippple Books Slippery Fish Press Soul*Sparks
Susan Schadt Press Tundra Books Tuxtails Publishing, LLC
Type Eighteen Books Underland Press University of Nevada Press
University of New Orleans Press Useful Publishing Vibrant Publishers
WorthyKids Yali Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

Welcome Lauren!

LibraryThing is pleased to welcome Lauren (LibraryThing Lauren-at-LT, Litsy Lauren-at-LibraryThing) to the team, as our newest librarian and developer!

Lauren comes to LibraryThing with over ten years of experience working in libraries and technology. Her technical background includes Java and Python programming, test engineering, web and graphic design, and UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience). Lauren learned about the Developer position on, so she gets to keep the “Finder’s Fee” of $1,000 in books!

Say hello on the Welcome Lauren Talk topic.

About Lauren
After earning her MLIS from Kent State University in 2016, Lauren began her career in librarianship as a Youth Services Librarian. Since then, she has had the joy of working as a School Media Specialist in the K–12 system, and an Academic Librarian.

In 2022, Lauren decided to pursue her longtime interest in coding, and completed technical training to become a Software Development Engineer in Test. She will be working on, as well as our library products, Syndetics Unbound,, and TinyCat.

Lauren lives with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, and painting.

Favorite Authors: C.S. Lewis, J. Kenji López-Alt, Stuart Turton, and Mo Willems
Favorite Illustrators: Lorena Alvarez, Zachariah OHora, Vera Brosgol, and Dan Santat

LibraryThing Member: Lauren-at-LT
Litsy Member: Lauren-at-LibraryThing

Labels: employees

Monday, September 11th, 2023

An Interview with Jarret Keene

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author Jarret Keene, who is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he teaches American literature and the graphic novel. His publications range across a number of genres, from his rock band biography, The Killers: Destiny Is Calling Me, to his travel guide, The Underground Guide to Las Vegas. He has co-edited a number of short story collections, including Las Vegas Noir and Dead Neon: Tales of Near-Future Las Vegas. His latest offering, Hammer of the Dogs, is a dystopian adventure set in an apocalyptic Las Vegas, and was published earlier this month by the University of Nevada Press.

Hammer of the Dogs has been compared by reviewers to such works as The Hunger Games and Divergent—both very popular works of dystopian fiction. Were these books an influence on your story? What were some other influences?

Yes, of course The Hunger Games and Divergent were an influence on Hammer of the Dogs: the books are so fun! But I went back into the past to study the darker, violent influences on these books: Koushon Takami’s Battle Royale, Stephen King’s The Long Walk, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Jack Kirby’s X-Men comics. The best dystopian YA stories tend to explore an intriguing premise: savage yet gifted kids under extreme pressure from corrupt government forces, forced to fight each other and survive lethal threats. Hammer of the Dogs picks up the conceit and cranks it to eleven, with the protagonist, Lash, armed to the teeth and ready to smash the world in order to save her friends and rescue her father.

Dystopian fiction has become increasingly popular in the last twenty years, within the wider world of speculative fiction. Why is that? Is it simply a reflection of our growing concern for the future of humanity and the world around us? What’s significant about this genre of storytelling, and what does it allow the writer to do, that they couldn’t otherwise?

In our teens, we realize that adult life is dystopian. Today the internet and social media amplify the anxiety of youth with “likes” and “comments.” Now young people run a terrifying gauntlet: tech inundation, college debt, unaffordable housing, COVID lockdowns, endless vaccines, school shootings. The reflection is crystal-clear, and the dystopian YA genre allows us to explore the full range of nightmares, and to give solutions if we’re interested. That’s why the genre continues to grow in popularity. Lash’s solution in Hammer of the Dogs is to pick up the deadly tech and refashion her environment. Passivity isn’t an option. Anyhow, it’s fun to wreck and rebuild. As long as you know how to rebuild.

Las Vegas features prominently in your work, both fiction and nonfiction, and is the setting for Hammer of the Dogs. What role, if any, does the city setting, and the wider Nevada landscape, play in your story? What made you choose the Luxor Hotel as the headquarters for Lash’s school? Are there other Las Vegas and Nevada landmarks that make an appearance in the book?

Las Vegas is a sinful, eyeball-seducing playground. Nevada is a frightening military playground. Yet the desert and mountains are gorgeous. Few realize this, and I wanted Hammer of the Dogs to depict Las Vegas in an unfamiliar way, as a site of desert warfare and twisted entertainment. But Las Vegas is also a blank slate of promise. Las Vegas has been this way since its inception, with the media and government masking its true potential. The book’s hero, Lash, eventually sees the city’s mask, and rips it away. So Las Vegas, plus the surrounding valley, is a character all its own. I chose Luxor, because I used to work there in the communications department. For years, I wrote employee newsletters in the bottom of a pyramid, spotlighting sous chefs and Cirque due Soleil acrobats and guest room attendants. Everything I describe in Hammer of the Dogs, from the employee dining commons to the Luxor Sky Beam, is how I experienced it. It was a world within a world, and we competed with other hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip in fundraising efforts, in physical competitions (including hot dog-eating contests), and we were subject to brainwashing by corporate management and the unions alike. It was easy to extrapolate and imagine gangs of teenagers housed in each hotel/casino—Bellagio, CityCenter, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur—plotting to kill all rivals using drone technology. I use everything in Las Vegas—Boulder City, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas Speedway, Fremont Street Experience, the gypsum mines, The Shops at Crystals—as a background against which Lash wages war.

In your work as an educator you explore and teach about the graphic novel format. How has this impacted your writing? Would you say that your storytelling style is a very visual one, or that you have particular images in mind, when writing? What came first, when you were writing this book: ideas, words, characters, images?

Teaching the graphic novel inspires my writing, which is highly visual. I wrote Hammer of the Dogs as a “movie tie-in novel,” the kind that used to be abundant in the 1980s. Every fun sci-fi/fantasy movie (Krull, Tron, The Last Starfighter) back then had a novelization for sale at the mall bookstore. I “saw” the story unfold before I wrote down a word, which helped me accelerate the pacing and maintain the headlong momentum. So Hammer of the Dogs is, in essence, one revved-up cinematic set piece after another, until the very end where I intentionally let the story go off the rails. Lash isn’t patient. She wants to search and destroy, and I did my best to remove the boring parts so that Lash shines and sheds copious amounts of bad-guy blood. She wanted to fall in love with a bad boy, so I helped her with that as well. Lash made this book adventure-packed, fun, easy to write. So yes, images and ideas always arrived first—then character, then words.

As an educator, you work with younger adults, and your novel is aimed at that demographic (among others). What is important, when telling a story for this audience? Does awareness of the audience change how you write?

I wrote Hammer of the Dogs for a younger audience, sure, but I layered in Easter eggs for Gen Ex-ers and Boomers to savor. There’s a nod to postwar popular culture in every page, from Jack Schafer’s Shane to The Empire Strikes Back to Alice Cooper’s Constrictor. There’s a LOT of references to ’80s hard rock and glam metal, with Lash blasting her dad’s music on his old Walkman whenever she needs to get psyched for battle. I think it’s important to NOT condescend to readers by only presenting one generation’s cultural references. Young people are curious, old people are curious. People are curious to learn about pop culture from every era. So I believe it’s important to satisfy a young reader’s curiosity and take them places they’ve never even considered. I also wanted to take young readers on a mythic journey with Lash. That’s the awareness I brought to every sentence in Hammer of the Dogs: I want younger readers, older readers, any and all readers to be swept up in the momentum of Lash’s adventure. I didn’t change the way I write exactly, but I certainly laser-focused on what makes for full-throttle storytelling.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

If you visit my LibraryThing page, you’ll see my favorite books. But my office shelves are loaded with Jack Kirby-rendered comic books, books about Greek and Roman myths and ancient and classical warfare, and various versions and translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Because I teach American literature and world literature, I have so many favorites, including Stephen Crane’s The Black Riders and Other Lines, Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling, Isabel Allende’s Zorro, to name a few. I love the classics, but I get a lot of pleasure from reading comics.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

I recently finished reading and highly recommend the following, especially if you have a taste for alternative, non-corporate literature and writing:

Stephen B. Armstrong’s rock history I Want You Around: The Ramones and the Making of Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (Backbeat, 2023)

Bernard Schopen’s Drowning in the Desert: A Nevada Noir Novel (University of Nevada Press, 2023)

Justin Chin’s poetry collection Burden of Ashes (Manic D Press, 2023)

Chris Mullen’s six-book YA Western series Rowdy (Wise Wolf Books, 2022-2023)

Ryan G. Van Cleave’s YA nonfiction book The Witness Trees: Historic Moments and the Trees Who Watched Them Happen (Bushel & Peck Books, 2023)

Labels: author interview, interview

Friday, September 1st, 2023

September 2023 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

Win free books from the September 2023 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 208 books this month, and a grand total of 4,215 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, September 25th at 6PM EDT.

Eligibility: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, Finland, France and more. Make sure to check the message on each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Coyote StoriesThe Story of Your Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to Designing with Purpose and PersonalityCrowned with Glory: How Proclaiming the Truth of Black Dignity Has Shaped American HistoryThe Andromeda's CrewGeneration AnnihilationWith a Blighted TouchA Dugout to PeaceThe Last ImmortalHer Secret HopeThe Warsaw SistersCharlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics CollidedKnowing YouTo Spark a MatchRocky Mountain PromiseThis Passing HourGlass HouseEverything You Know About Dinosaurs Is Wrong!Time to Move South for WinterTransported: 50 Vehicles That Changed the WorldWe're Going on a Present HuntSanta Claus and the Three BearsA History of the World in 25 CitiesJust a Minor Threat: The Minor Threat Photographs of Glen E. FriedmanSummer of Hamn: Hollowpointlessness Aiding Mass NihilismCrimson WhisperRe: Apotheosis - MetamorphosisTales from a Teaching Life: Vignettes in VerseNative Knowings: Wisdom Keys for One and AllHow to Negotiate with Oracle: Proven Strategies to Help You Maximise Value and Minimise CostsBoobs of Steel - Decoding the AmazonYpHiTime MachinePoker, Politics & Presidents: How Card Playing and Other Games Impacted the Presidency—From George Washington to Joe BidenGhostly Demarcations: New Poems & The Pandemic PapersJust How EmptyDark Feminine: poetry, prose & the in-betweenThe Last Flight Out: New and Selected PoemsNovemberFlash Gardens and Other Short Fiction: Volume OneFlash Gardens and Other Short Fiction: Volume TwoTroubling the Water: The Urgent Work of Radical BelongingFalling from DisgraceFalling from DisgraceChasing Giants: In Search of the World's Largest Freshwater FishDrowning in the DesertBinky's Protectors: Bk II REVELATIONSA Tale of Five Balloons(IN)SIGHTS: Thirty Years of Peacemaking in the Olso ProcessRestaurant Review Travel Guide: Columbus, OH: We Review the Best Restaurants in the CityThe Toxic Female Gaze: Cue the 'Mean Girls' ReferencesThe Problem with the Male GazeWonder Woman 84's Mistaken Message to WomenSolomon's Pond18194 days in the life of a pigmanBoleyn TimeStorm ChaserThe Darkest StarsEarth Magic & Hot WaterCrown of Salt and BoneThe Order of the BansheeSummoned by DragonsDirty Leeds: Don Revie & the Art of WarLet There Be Light - Genesis: The Simple Meaning of the TextThe Prophets of Gentilly TerraceAlmond, Quartz, and FinchThree Adult LivesPocket Full of PoseysWalking on Divided PathsSudoku Stonkers 2When Light Breaks Through: A Salem Witch Trials StoryGemma & LucasUS Security Issues and World War IThe GlasshouseAnything But Yes: A Novel of Anna Del Monte, Jewish Citizen of Rome, 1749The Ones They TookDim Sum PalaceHans Christian Andersen Lives Next DoorHouse of Ash and BoneThe Relaxsaurus Bedtime Meditation Stories for Kids: A Collection of Calming Dinosaur Stories with Positive Affirmations to Help Children Fall Asleep with Beautiful DreamsHow to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy StepsMama's Sleeping ScarfThe SheBladefoot: ApocalypseHow to Negotiate with Microsoft: Proven Strategies to Help You Maximise Value and Minimise CostsNarwhal and Jelly: Super Pod Party Pack!PloofPrincesses Versus DinosaursThe Manor House GovernessMacroeconomics Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowServices Marketing Essentials You Always Wanted to KnowOrdinary People - Or Are They?The Ruffled OwlThe Abundant Life: Practical Theology for Abundant LivingA Mother's Gift: Ten Little ToesI Love You GoogolTen Little FingersSignaturesOne of Us Is GoneThe First UnicornA Footnote to PlatoI Am Changing Careers: Questions to Guide A Job SeekerThe Vanquisher of Kings IA Residue of HopePlease DO NOT Go To LondonPlease DO NOT Go To ParisBittersweet BreadcrumbsWe Used to Be Different: A Collection of Stories and MiniaturesPlease DO NOT Go To BangkokThe Road to MorescoPainting the Grand Homes of California's Central ValleyFar OutA Measure of RhymeThe PalisadesDeath DateKeyholeQueens of MoiraiPersonal DemonsEARTH MOVERS: Determined Kids Battle Evil AliensThe Other Side of the Looking-GlassEmbers in the WindThe Import SlotThe Prophet's Mother TrilogyBuried By SunsetMushroom CloudThe Pirate's Curse: Brigands of the Compass RosePlant-Based Meal PrepRiders in DisguiseJackson Haines: The Skating KingRebecca Reznik Reboots the UniverseBill's BytesJourneys of the Lost: The Saga of CaneConfronting Power and Chaos: The Uncharted Kaleidoscope of My LifeIn River CardinalThe Universal Rejuvenation Program and The Laws of Metabolic EfficiencyOf Light and NightmaresDressing for DreamtimeFirefaxPledgeAwakenedFaraway and Forever: More StoriesCubicle to Corner Office: The Ultimate Survival Guide to Your First Job!Eddie's WarA Heart Made of Tissue PaperMore Than TrumpThe Dayhiker's Guide to the National Parks: 280 Trails, All 63 ParksCoralee - A Mermaid's TaleA Counterfeit of DeathThe Air LoungeThe Road to MorescoSisters of the SoulThe Blizzard's SecretsWords with My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent TimesKindle Paperwhite User Guide 2023: The Perfect Kindle Paperwhite Manual for Beginners, Seniors, and New Kindle UsersSwapThe Book of Annie: Humor, Heart, and Chutzpah from an Accidental InfluencerThe Hand of God: From Oppenheimer to Hypersonics - A Crash Course on Nuclear Weapons and Humankind's Most Dangerous GameOpen for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into AstrologyWar Angel: Korea 1950You Are Not Alone—Understanding And Working Through Postpartum Depression: A Common Condition So Often MisunderstoodThe Well-Mannered Horse: Developing an Ideal Equine BuddyAnywhere for YouHarmonic DissonanceWars of the New Humanity: Collection OneThe Yawning GapThe Pike BoysThe Thief and the HistorianOverthinking Override: An Eight-Step Guide to Master Your Mind, Conquer Stress, and Break Free From AnxietyInconvenienceA Good Rush of BloodPlayin' Possum: My Memories of George JonesThe Mechanics of Changing the World: Political Architecture to Roll Back State & Corporate PowerThe Morgan Film: A JFK Assassination StorySolving the Climate Crisis: A Community Guide to Solving the Biggest Problem on the PlanetOcellicon: Future VisionsStrong in LoveCinders to DustQuantum Reaction8 Essential Steps to Inspire Others & Build A Thriving Workforce: The Servant Leadership AdvantageRide into RomanceEugene J. McGillicuddy's Alien Detective AgencyA Love Story: Ten Sturdy FingersFlames of EaderLiving SecretsThe Dangers of Being Brave & TrueThis Kind Goes Not Except by Fasting and Prayer: Breaking the Invincible Chains Blocking Your BlessingsShadow Work for Women: A Comprehensive Workbook for Self-Discovery, Emotional Healing, and Personal GrowthSacrificial Lamb ClubStrength Training for Seniors: Rewrite Your Fitness Journey Using Simple and Effective Exercises That Help You Improve Balance, Build Confidence and Boost EnergyAbby's FireKisses Don't LieThe Pen Thief and the Division of DestinyBiting Thorns Off RosesBelle and Chloe: Reflections in the MirrorI, AIPoetry for PupsCasting Out Demons for Fun and ProfitPeople Person: How to Talk to Anyone, Improve Social Awkwardness, and Communicate with Ease and ConfidenceThe Repurposed SpyWord PetalsWorkbook: The Silva Mind Control Method: The Revolutionary Program by the Founder of the World’s Most Famous Mind Control CourseThe Stroke Recovery Activity WorkBookThe Stroke Recovery Activity WorkBookFall Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereFall Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereWinter Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereHalf a Cup of Sand and SkyWinter Word Search Large Print for Adults & Seniors: 100+ Autumn Word Puzzles to Stimulate Your Brain and Reduce Stress AnywhereFrom Worrier to Warrior: Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Overthinking and Living Confidently

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

01Publishing Akashic Books Alcove Press
Anaphora Literary Press Beaufort Books Bethany House
BHC Press Bricktop Hill Books Broadleaf Books
Cardinal Rule Press Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC City Owl Press
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Cynren Press FTL Publications
Gefen Publishing House Greenleaf Book Group Hawkwood Books
Legacy Books Press Liz Fe Lifestyle Mint Editions
NeoParadoxa New Wind Publishing NewCon Press
Nosy Crow US PublishNation Revell
Sea Vision Publishing Simon & Schuster Soul*Sparks
Tiny Fox Press Tundra Books Underland Press
University of Nevada Press University of New Orleans Press University of North Georgia Press
Useful Publishing Vibrant Publishers Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

LibraryThing Birthday Sale & Treasure Hunt!

It’s LibraryThing’s 18th Birthday! We’re kicking off the celebration with a sale on everything in the LibraryThing Store through the month of September, and we’re hosting a special Birthday Treasure Hunt!

Sale. Enjoy major discounts on everything in the LibraryThing Store including CueCat scanners and barcode labels for the classroom, laptop stickers, gorgeous LibraryThing and TinyCat enamel pins, and more!

The sale opens today, August 29, on LibraryThing’s birthday, and runs through the month of September.

Treasure Hunt. We’ve scattered a mint of birthday candles around the site, and it’s up to you to try and find them all.

  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find a birthday candle. Each clue points to a specific page on the LibraryThing site. Remember, they are not necessarily work pages!
  • If there’s a birthday candle on a page, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • You have just two weeks to find all the birthday candles (until 11:59pm EDT, Tuesday September 12th).
  • Come brag about your mint of birthday candles (and get hints) on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds at least two birthday candles will be
    awarded a birthday cake badge. Badge ().
  • Members who find all 12 birthday candles will be entered into a drawing for one of five LibraryThing (or TinyCat) coaster sets and stickers. We’ll announce winners at the end of the hunt.

Labels: birthday, events, treasure hunt

Wednesday, August 9th, 2023

An Interview with Joanne Elliott

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with Joanne Elliott, an American-born author who has spent most of her adult life in Belfast, Hong Kong and on Inishbofin, a small island off the west coast of Ireland. The founder of the Kellett School, now the British International School in Hong Kong, she is the author of two books on childhood diabetes, as well as numerous short stories published in British, Irish and South African magazines, has written radio programs for RTE (Irish National Radio), and for seven years ran a local newspaper on Inishbofin. She has also taught at all levels, from preschool to university. Now, at the age of eighty-eight, her novel Love in the Shadow of Mao—the second she has written, but the first to see print—has been published by the London-based Austin Macauley Publishers.

You have said elsewhere that the idea for the story in Love in the Shadow of Mao came to you in 1978, while you and your husband were returning to Hong Kong after a tour of mainland China. Forty-six years later, your book is finally published. Did you work on it throughout this entire period, did you leave and return to it—what does the writing process look like, over the timespan of a few decades? What were the challenges of working on your story for this long, and did it have benefits as well?

The story was in my mind for many years after we left Hong Kong but I did not start writing it as my life was busy, crammed with other writing projects like the island newspaper, The Inishbofin Inquirer, which I started and edited for seven years. I am not an organized writer, have little discipline and tend to throw myself in projects, work frantically at them and then lay them aside for others.

You have described your book as a story of living in two worlds, something which would apply to many of your characters. You yourself might also be said to live in more than one world, marrying across national lines, and settling (multiple times) far from your childhood home. Would you say there was anything autobiographical in your story? What does it mean to live in two worlds, for you and for your characters?

As you say, I also lived in two worlds. Even though I left New York behind almost seventy years ago, when I need to know which way is East or West I imagine myself standing on the corner of 57th Street and 5th Avenue. Then I know where I am.

Some of my characters and incidents are fleeting impressions over many years. When I lived in Arizona in the 50s I once saw a television interview with Hope Cooke, a girl who married a king from a little Himalayan country. The expression on her face struck me and the first note I made for the novel was the line “Julia was hiding.” Actually it was “Rachel was hiding.” I later changed her name because the Chinese have trouble pronouncing the letter “r.” The description of Jen Chiman came from a young oriental man I saw in a church I was visiting in Scotland when I was in Hawthornden Castle in a writer’s retreat working on the China book. Until I saw him, I had little idea how Jen looked. As soon as I saw him in a pew across from me I knew that he was Jen. My daughter who developed diabetes at age eight was, of course, a large biographical element for the character Catherine Lee. At the corner of our street in New York was a Chinese laundry. I never knew the people who owned it but certainly the background was Catherine’s. A man I once danced with at Columbia University’s International House was the image of Ben, recalled some 50 years later. (Warning. Don’t mix with writers. They use everything.)

As you say, I and also my characters lived in two worlds. Perhaps it gives us insight or tolerance and broadens our perspective. It also prevents us from fitting in completely. We are always on the outside looking in.

Your book is set during China’s Cultural Revolution, a time of great upheaval and terrible hardship for many. How much research was needed for the historical and cultural background of your story? What were some of the most fascinating things you learned, and what were the most tragic?

My only real glimpse of the Cultural Revolution was a tour of China taken in 1978. We waited 2 years for permission and saw mostly what we were permitted to see. Occasionally, we caught a glimpse of the truth, a dirty blood spattered jacket on a doctor when visiting the medical building of a commune. A sign saying “We Will Liberate Hong Kong” quickly whisked out of sight. The restaurant Catherine is taken to by Sung in the book is one where we had a feast on the last night of the tour. Since then I have spoken to many people who have toured China. They are all amazed at my stories. Things have changed so spectacularly.

Most of my knowledge of the period is from books, histories, biographies, novels. I have read several hundred of them, starting from Pearl Buck which I devoured as a teenager. I have always been fascinated by the Orient. I spent three years in Japan in the 70s as well as three years in Hong Kong. When I was a child I insisted on eating with chop sticks and cooked minute rice for myself.

The most tragic thing, when researching the Cultural Revolution, was to see how ideals of fairness and decency are impotent against the realities of power and human greed.

Your book is also a story of love. What does your story say about love, especially in difficult times? Does love conquer all?

The love that survives in my book is, of course, the love of Julia for the child, Ping. All other loves, no matter how strong, are dominated by circumstance. Jen was generous in his love because he had been given so much by Lily. I think we are all able to love if we have been in receipt of it.

You’re eighty-eight years young, and have published your first novel. What’s next? Are you working on a second novel, and will it also be a work of historical fiction?

I have been working on an autobiography which is at the moment an amalgam of all the stories I have written over the years. I found, to my amazement that I could follow my life in my own fiction. I wonder what that says about me!

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

My library is the heart of me. I remember as soon as I learned to read my favorite game was playing “library,” arranging my mother’s books, making little cards for each one and giving them numbers. I often recall the day we moved to a different neighborhood and my mother leaving the unpacking and the care of my baby brother to her sister so that she and I could find the local library. When I was about twelve my uncle died and left me his collection of classics from the Greeks and Romans through to Emerson and Thoreau. My father built two large bookshelves to house them and they have followed me around the world. I wouldn’t be myself without them. Since then I have added hundreds of novels, plays and poetry. In my study I have housed history, philosophy and religion, the stairs are lined with shelves of fiction, A to Z starting at the top. In the living room are floor to ceiling biography, autobiography, music and art. The China collection takes up a good deal of the space.

What have you been reading lately, and what would you recommend to other readers?

At he moment, I am reading a fascinating novel by Amy Tan called Saving Fish from Drowning. Yesterday I bought a paperback of Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I had already read this on kindle but I wanted it on my shelves because I will enjoy it again when I can turn the pages. I’m afraid I am out of sync with all this technology and I fear very much for our civilization if reading continues to go out of style.

Labels: author interview, interview