Author Archive

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

May 2021 Batch of Early Reviewers is Live!

Win free books from the May 2021 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 94 books this month, and a grand total of 2811 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, May 31st at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Candlewick Press Akashic Books Kaylie Jones Books
University of Chicago Press TouchPoint Press Black Rose Writing
Revell Flux Rootstock Publishing
Charlesbridge Arrowsmith Press Henry Holt and Company
City Owl Press Flyaway Books West Margin Press
Transformation Media Books Mirror World Publishing Hawkwood Books
Iron Bridge Publishing Heritage Books Frayed Edge Press
Scribner Books Meerkat Press Wise Media Group
CarTech Books Prufrock Press Ooligan Press
Poolbeg Press Vibrant Publishers Highlander Press
BHC Press Bellevue Literary Press BookViewCafe
Red Adept Publishing Nysa Media BookWhisperer

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, April 5th, 2021

April EarlyReviewers Batch Is Live

Win free books from the April 2021 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 109 books this month, and a grand total of 3,307 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, April 26th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many, many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

The Parliament House Press Candlewick Press Greenleaf Book Group
TouchPoint Press University of Chicago Press BOA Editions, Ltd.
wayzgoose press Scribe Publishing Company Revell
BookWhisperer City Owl Press Science, Naturally!
Black Rose Writing Imbrifex Books Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
Prufrock Press Henry Holt and Company Westminster John Knox Press
West Margin Press Red Adept Publishing Odyssey Books
Ooligan Press NewCon Press The Ardent Writer Press
Suspense Publishing Bellevue Literary Press Poolbeg Press
Smoking Pen Press Vibrant Publishers Jolly Fish Press
Flux BookViewCafe Wise Media Group
Crooked Lane Books Meerkat Press Rootstock Publishing
Frayed Edge Press BHC Press Icon Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Welcome Lucy!

Our LibraryThing team just keeps growing! We are excited to welcome Lucy (LT member knerd.knitter, Litsy member KnerdKnitter) to the team as our newest developer.

Lucy will be working primarily on the side of things. Her background is as a Java programmer, so she’s going to start off by getting to know our systems and brushing up on her PHP.

A LibraryThing member since 2007, Lucy saw the job posting first on LibraryThing itself and then at code4lib. In other words, when we asked our members to help us find our next great employee, she found herself! That means, she gets the $1,000 book bounty. Lucy plans to split the funds between bookstores in Omaha, Nebraska where she lives with with her husband, Casey; her daughter, Sara; and her two senior cats, Kupo and Lilith.

Say “hello” to Lucy on her LT Profile or the Welcome Lucy Talk topic.

About Lucy

Lucy has two bachelor’s degrees: English from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and Computer Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has worked in libraries and loves shelving and cataloging so much she has cataloged her own personal library on LibraryThing using the Dewey Decimal system. Prior to working for LibraryThing, she worked as a software developer for 8 years.

She enjoys reading; knitting; playing board games, card games, and video games with her husband; The Simpsons; and semicolons.

Favorite authors: Sandra Boynton, Stephen King, Wally Lamb, J. Robert Lennon, Lionel Shriver, and Mo Willems

LT member: knerd.knitter
Litsy member: KnerdKnitter

Labels: employees

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

National Grammar Day Interview with Martha Brockenbrough

author photo of martha brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough (Photo by Emerald England)

March 4th is National Grammar Day. Established by author Martha Brockenbrough, the day was designated as a holiday in 2008. To celebrate, Meg sat down (virtually) with Brockenbrough to talk about grammar in our world today.

Let’s start with the basics: how do you define grammar and why do you think it’s important?

Oh, this could be a very long answer. Let me start with something fun: grammar and grimoire share an ancestor. A grimoire is a magician’s manual for invoking demons and you could say that grammar can often be the same. What they have in common is magic. There is the good magic that helps us say what we mean to say and understand what is meant by the author. And then there is the bad magic that uses grammar to exclude, humiliate, and subjugate. Grammar is understanding how our language works, how it has evolved, and what can be accomplished by respecting conventions and what can be accomplished by breaking them. The more we know, the more powerfully and humanely we can practice this wonderful art.

You established National Grammar Day in 2008 with the goal of making grammar fun and lively for your students. How has grammar, or the study of grammar, changed in the last thirteen years?

I’m no longer teaching high school students, although I have one at home. I think for some, the study of grammar has changed in some of the good ways that society has changed. We are better now at recognizing white supremacy and the marginalization of certain forms of English. Language has always been a political weapon. English follows a lot of Latin “rules” for this exact reason. Latin was viewed as a superior language, and we were clawing our way upward in modeling certain English rules—e.g. “don’t split infinitives”—on Latin, where an infinitive is a single word and can’t be split.

cover of unpresidented

In America, we just got rid of a president who was incredibly sloppy with language. When his subordinates tweeted under his name, they even copied his irregular spelling and capitalization. I’m being judgmental here. I called him sloppy. But as the parent of a child with dyslexia, I recognize that he might also have this very common learning disability. So my judgment might be unfair even as he played the role of a populist, and part of that role is rejecting the appearance of being conventionally educated. This was, I suppose, his evil genius. He could be born with a golden spoon in his mouth and convince people without his privilege that he understood them.

Part of arming ourselves against future demagogues is, I think, in not using education and knowledge as a cudgel to beat anyone down, but rather, to insist that it is both a gift and a birthright for everyone. I believe in building windows and doors, not walls. If it were easy, we would have done this long ago. And maybe I wouldn’t be so judgmental about the disgraced, twice-impeached, former president’s language. But I do think that’s what we might all work toward.

A lot of our members are at home helping their kids or grandkids with school because of the pandemic. What do you hope adults will convey to young people about grammar?

The best way to learn how language works is to read a lot. When you read, you encounter a much wider vocabulary than you do when conversing, watching TV, or listening to the radio. You also internalize patterns of language that have met a certain threshold of excellence. Everyone ought to read like crazy, and most libraries are still making this possible.

Meanwhile, I think we might do less conveying and more listening. I’m always learning new things about the evolving language from my kids. It was news to me that terminal punctuation on texts conveyed anger to them. To me, it meant I was being careful and consistent. All sorts of new vocabulary comes from young people, and it doesn’t hurt us to learn it and understand it. I do confess to taking delight in using things incorrectly, just to rile my kids a bit. But now it’s a running gag. They stan it. Or something like that.

I still do convey certain things to my daughters, who are now 17 and 20. The language we use in public—on social media and in school—is a lot like the clothes we wear. There are expectations and conventions. There are also power dynamics. A person who is hiring people for a job has power over the applicants, and that’s why we scrutinize our resumes and dress strategically for interviews. That’s a different situation from hanging out with friends (wearing masks, staying six feet apart). Navigating the world is easier when you understand conventions, dynamics, and codes, some of which probably ought to dismantled, but that can be hard to do from the outside.

In addition to being a grammar champion, you write fiction and narrative nonfiction. How does your understanding of grammar impact your creative writing?

I’m reading a most wonderful book right now: A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders, which is a close examination of Russian short stories and how he teaches them. Here we are, reading translations of work, and translating them again through the eyes of Saunders, who is a white man of a certain age with certain experiences. Look at what language can do. Look at what stories can do. They can cross continents. They can travel through time. They can be funneled through the filter of another language twice—and still mean something to the reader. I’m paraphrasing, but one thing Saunders says is that he tries to write sentences that make the reader want to read the next one.

That is a very specific vision of how stories work. If you’ve ever studied storytelling, you no doubt know there are graphs that show us how stories work. That there are “beats.” Narrative structures. Big-picture things that suggest that the shape of the story is more important than its cellular structure.

What Saunders is talking about, I think, is partly the power of grammar. When you encounter a sentence that is right for the story—the right words in the right order with the right rhythm for the emotional moment—you want to know what happens next. This is a way of tying the big picture elements to the very smallest, the way our bodies emerge from our unique double helixes of DNA.

All of which is to say that when I am telling a story, I make the best use I can of every tool possible. Grammar—conventional, unconventional, character-specific—is vital.

Tell us about your home library.

I love books. I have many. Too many. It is badly organized, though it wasn’t always that way. It makes it hard to find specific things but easy to be surprised by treasure. It is a mix of books for young readers and books for grownups, mostly fiction for the former and nonfiction for the latter. On the project list this year are more built-in bookshelves, and we just secured some reclaimed fir for the purpose. I’m giddy with excitement.


cover of unpresidented

Tell us what you’re reading right now.

I just finished David Sedaris’s essay collection, The Best of Me. I’ve been reading him my entire adult life. I’ve seen him live. I’ve read some of these essays before, and this collection felt a bit like a reckoning about family, what is funny, and what fractures us. I am reading A Question of Freedom by Reginald Dwayne Betts, which is his memoir about coming of age in prison. And then there’s the Saunders book. I don’t generally read so many books by men, but sometimes it happens. I just finished the page proofs of my next novel, Into the Bloodred Woods, which is based on the idea that everything you’ve ever read in fairytales is a lie.


About Martha Brockenbrough:

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of two books for adults and numerous books for young readers, including YA fiction and nonfiction, picture books, and a forthcoming chapter book series. Her next book, Into the Bloodred Woods, will be released by Scholastic in November. Visit her website to learn more about her and her books.

Labels: author interview, authors, holiday

Monday, March 1st, 2021

March Early Reviewers Batch is Up

Win free books from the March 2021 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 74 books this month, and a grand total of 2,220 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 29th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more! Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

The Parliament House Press Candlewick Press Walker Books US
Akashic Books Revell TouchPoint Press
Small Beer Press World Weaver Press ThunderStone Books
Black Rose Writing BookWhisperer Literary Wanderlust LLC
Farzana Doctor University of Chicago Press BOA Editions, Ltd.
Wise Media Group Crystal Peake Publisher wayzgoose press
Plough Publishing House Scribe Publishing Company Red Adept Publishing
ClydeBank Media Greystone Books Scribe Publications
Ballantine Books BookViewCafe Poolbeg Press
BHC Press Alaska Northwest Books

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, February 1st, 2021

February Early Reviewers Batch is Up

Win free books from the February 2021 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 57 books this month, and a grand total of 1,819 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 22nd at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more! Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Nandra Publishing, LLC The Parliament House Press Candlewick Press
Walker Books US Black Rose Writing BLF Press
Revell Plough Publishing House ClydeBank Media
Akashic Books TouchPoint Press World Weaver Press
TouchPoint Faith Flyaway Books Greenleaf Book Group
BookWhisperer Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Unsolicited Press
Small Beer Press William Morrow Ooligan Press
CarTech Books Ballantine Books Poolbeg Press
BookViewCafe Red Adept Publishing Tiny Fox Press
Bellevue Literary Press BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Top 5 Books of 2020


Every year we make a list of the top five books read by LibraryThing staff, and we’re not going to let 2020 stop that tradition. You can see past years’ lists here. And you can talk about your reading year on Talk.

What were your top five for this year? We want to know, so we started a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. Note: This is about what you read in 2020, not just books published in 2020.


The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I found this historical fantasy, steampunk London book just completely captivating. It’s a delicate magical mystery, and its sequel The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is just as good.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey. I loved this the way I love a Sarah Waters novel. Gothic and tense and SO tightly written, it unfolded so precisely and beautifully. Perfection.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This book has heart. It is charming and delightful and queer and kind and I want to clutch it to my chest and keep it safe forever.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Magic secret societies at Yale. Need I say more?

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. A quiet and evocative book set in Dublin in 1918, in a hospital maternity ward, in the middle of the Spanish Flu pandemic.


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Funny and provocative, this tightly-plotted novel had me laughing, crying, and cringing. The story begins with twenty-something Black woman Emira being falsely accused of kidnapping the white girl she babysits. Reid uses this set up to tackle questions of race, gender, age, and class. I found myself constantly entertained while also doing some tough self-reflection.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King. It was not that long ago that I was living in Boston writing stories that I worried would never be published. Which is to say, I related very much to King’s latest novel. I actually saw myself so deeply in this book that I wondered if anyone else in the world would like it. People did. In retrospect, there are a lot of differences between my experiences and Casey’s: I never waitressed or went on a writing retreat or dated a much older man. I think it’s a testament to King’s ability to write so specifically about this character and her world that it becomes universal.

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier. The protagonist of Frazier’s debut novel is eighteen and pregnant. She works as a pizza delivery girl and at night, while her boyfriend is sleeping, she sneaks out to her dead father’s shed and drinks can after can of beer. She is lost and the only thing that seems to feel real to her in Jenny Hauser, an older woman who orders pizza with pickles. The two become friends, of sorts. Our heroine fixates on Jenny in a way that can be hard to read, but feels very true. This is a bold book that surprised me at every turn.

The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I won this book from a local independent bookstore right before Thanksgiving. I am normally the pie-baker in the family, and I was feeling sad about not being able to share pies with my parents. A recipe for hand pies solved that problem deliciously. I had less success with my attempt to make the Apple Butterscotch pie: my butterscotch pudding never set. But, I took the whole thing, crust and all, dumped it into the ice cream maker and made apple pie ice cream. I think McDowell would approve.

Quintessence by Jess Redman. Perhaps my favorite trope is a group of unlikely kids coming together to save the world. In this middle grade novel, four mismatched kids must help to return a fallen star to the sky. There’s a mix of magic and science, and a blurring of the line between the two, which is something that I also love very much. What really makes this novel stand out, though, is the way Redman addresses the main character’s anxiety. Alma has panic attacks, but the book isn’t about that. With anxiety on the rise in children, this book offers a nice reminder that all kids can have adventures and save the world.


Annus horribilis! It started in New Zealand, which was lovely, but by March we were fleeing back to the US on the last Hawaian Airlines flight, leaving the only country that would truly defeat the virus. In truth, I could barely concentrate on reading for months. Eventually reading came back, with a special focus on lighter fare, and home schooling and enjoying time with my 14 year-old son, Liam.

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman. Although I studied American History in college, I had never done a deep dive on the Constitution. Beeman provides a detailed narrative reconstruction of the (somewhat vexed) primary sources, with some valuable content and analysis. To understand the Constitution and its origins well is, of course, a corrective to much contemporary political discussion and—shall we say—treasonous shenanigans?

Facebook: The Inside Story by Stephen Levy. This is a comprehensive, well-sourced and engrossing narrative of Facebook’s improbable rise. Unlike Brad Stone, whose The Upstarts, on Uber and Airbnb, utterly missed what was toxic and broken in Uber, Levy sees clearly how Facebook’s culture and reckless early decisions created the dangerous mess it eventually became.

Honorable mention goes to two other company bios I read this year. In the Plex, Levy’s portrait of Google, was great, but didn’t quite match up to Facebook. The topic is interesting, but he does not seem to have enjoyed the same access to top Google people as he had to Facebook people. And Google is simply less of a trainwreck. Lastly, I enjoyed We Are the Nerds by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, about the history of Reddit. As LibraryThing began on the edge of some of the circles involved in that story, it had an element of reminiscence for me.

Red Shirts by John Scalzi. My 14 year-old son and I enjoy listening to science fiction together, but have struggled to find the right books. We ended Dune about a third of the way in when my son proclaimed that it had no funny parts at all. (Honestly, he’s right; Dune takes itself way too seriously.) After Red Shirts we listened to Agent to the Stars, Scalzi’s other humorous book.

Red Shirts takes place in a Star Trek-like universe, where some of the minor characters are beginning to suspect something is wrong with reality. Agent to the Stars imagines that aliens initiate first contact with a Hollywood agent. These books aren’t great literature, but they are fun!

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. I’d read it when young, but on a re-read—holy smokes this is a great book! Douglass is an absolute master of his craft and aims. My son and I were fairly floored by it. If you haven’t read it, you simply have to.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. H. P. Lovecraft was, of course, a racist, and racism is shot throughout his work, but it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that a Lovecraftian exploration of American racism would work. It largely does. I resisted putting it on my 2020 list, but however jagged the story can be, it “stuck”; my mind keeps returning to certain scenes months after I finished the novel. I have not seen the HBO miniseries, but I hear it’s good.


The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. Being emotionally devastated by beautifully written stories is one of my favorite things. I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives and this perfect book.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo What Abby said.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. 2020 was the year of a global pandemic, yes, but also the year of Kate Racculia for some reason. I know so many folks who read and loved this book and rightly so! It is so stinkin’ good! The highest praise I can give this book is that it’s evocative of The Westing Game, but more modern, more fun, and with more heart.

The Searcher by Tana French. Is it even a best books of the year list if I’m not talking about Tana French? My father-in-law and I share an appreciation for French’s books and after reading this one we both had the same reaction/synopsis: there were no major plot points that made any sort of impression, but we loved reading it. The Searcher is said to be French’s take on a western, which is not a genre I particularly like (save True Grit. True Grit is a masterpiece.), but this book proves that I will read and enjoy literally anything that Tana French offers me.

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia. This one was a departure for me as I tend to avoid anything remotely scary, but I’m glad I made an exception. Reader, I wasn’t scared! It was heavily gothic and atmospheric and creepy, and I enjoyed every bit of it.


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Blockchain : the next everything by Stephen P. Williams

21 lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Harari

Yesterday’s son by A. C. Crispin

The rational optimist by Matt Ridley


Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman. Braverman’s coming-of-age memoir is as raw, wild, and visceral as the Arctic. Great read.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. A collection of essays that hits on the big issues in America today. A witty, intelligent, cathartic read. (And yes, yes we are coming.)

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. If you’re looking for a fun, adventurous mystery, and you can overlook a few plot/character holes, this is it. It was a welcomed escape read.

Perfume by Patrick Süskind. Chilling.

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. A nod to my children’s-only genre from last year’s picks, this was one of my favorite bedtime reads with my now 20-month old son Finn. Each animal in the story was given their own voice, of course (in the spirit of Redwall). Looking forward to collecting the series!

Honorable Mention: A Promised Land by Barack Obama. I can’t vouch for the whole book just yet (and I’m “reading” the audiobook narrated by Obama), but it’s been a delightful listen so far. Best described as a nostalgic breath of fresh air.

That’s it!

Come record your own Top Five of 2020 on Lists and Talk.

Labels: top five

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Welcome Meg!

We’re thrilled to welcome Meg (LT member megbmore, Litsy member megbmore) to the team, as our new Project Specialist for

Meg will be running the official social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, writing State of the Thing, and eventually taking over the Early Reviewers program. If it involves writing, she will probably have a hand in it. One of her first projects will be launching a new group for requesting and giving book recommendations. Stay tuned for more details.

Meg learned about the Project Specialist position through State of the Thing, so she gets to keep the $1000 reward. She plans to spend part of it on Jólabókaflóð. In the Icelandic Christmas Book Flood tradition, books are given on Christmas Eve and people spend the evening at home reading. Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the holiday in 2020, especially on a cold winter night in Maine.

Say “hello” on her LT profile or on the “Welcome Meg” Talk topic.

About Meg

Meg grew up in New Hampshire. She left the small town for the big city to attend Columbia University where she received her B.A. in English and Comparative Literature. After a short stint in the Peace Corps and dabbling in television production, she found her calling in libraries. She received her MLS from Simmons and worked in several K–12 libraries in Maine and Massachusetts. She later returned to Simmons to pursue her doctorate in library science with a focus on diversity in young adult collections. At the same time, she began writing and publishing books for children and young adults. Meg is one of our LibraryThing Authors and an alum of the Early Reviewers program. Visit her website or LibraryThing author page to learn more about her work.

Meg lives in southern Maine with her husband, two children, two cats, and a very, very old leopard gecko. She and her family keep bees somewhat successfully and enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, swimming, and skiing. They also enjoy their weekly family movie nights and are always looking for recommendations.

Some favorite authors: Shirley Jackson, Kate Racculia, Rebecca Stead, and Mary Roach.

Recent reads that she can’t stop thinking about: Writers & Lovers by Lily King, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia.

LT member megbmore
Litsy member megbmore

Labels: employees