Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month: The Australian Motorlife Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

We’re moving just west of our October Library of the Month in New Zealand to a library built for car lovers: congratulations to The Australian Motorlife Library! Volunteer Librarians Tracy Westall and Brian Wye were kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Australian Motorlife Library is housed in the Australian Motorlife Museum in New South Wales, Australia. It consists of 2,200 general motoring books, a motoring magazine collection of approximately 12,000 volumes, and around 3,000 ephemera items. The library material comprises contemporary and historic items, some of which are unique and rare. The collection integrates and supports the wider museum which consists of historic vehicles, automotive memorabilia, and social history.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

We provide books and material that is niche and usually not available in the public libraries. We have a large technical and reference selection which we make available to the community and car enthusiasts alike, especially to those who are restoring or researching vintage and collectable automobiles.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Our library contains an extensive collection of early and rare motoring books—like the ones pictured above—car repair manuals, and collectable vintage magazines. This enables us to provide a unique service that encourages communication with patrons from all over Australia: equally interesting and enjoyable for us volunteer librarians.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

The library relies totally on donations of collectable material; we have no acquisitions budget which requires us to recycle resources and exercise our creativity and housekeeping skills. This has been the main challenge when establishing an online presence and an operational procedure: to enable the library’s resources to be accessed by the wider community. Another challenge has been to organise and upload our catalogue to TinyCat, for which the steps to achieve this has been further exacerbated due to COVID-19 and its restrictions.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

One of our favourite things is the interface of TinyCat. As many of our patrons are seniors, the similarity of the interface to that of the public library makes it familiar and user-friendly. The online access to LibraryThing and TinyCat has enabled us to achieve our goal of uploading the catalogue in record time while working in isolation from home. The catalogue is easy to use and understand. As for improvements, the only thing that currently comes to mind is having more control over the content of the homepage’s animated cover display.


Want to learn more about The Australian Motorlife Library and Museum? Visit their website at https://www.australianmotorlifemuseum.com/ and check out their TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Win $1,000 in books: LibraryThing Needs a Great Developer

HireDeveloper_3

LibraryThing runs on PHP, in almost entirely non-OO code. We will strongly prefer people with PHP experience, but other, flexible programmers are welcome to apply.

Good to Have

  • PHP. Most of our code is PHP-based, but we also use Objective-C, Python and Java.
  • MySQL. LibraryThing is relational-database intensive. We work directly with the database.
  • JavaScript. We try to do as much as possible on the back end, but JavaScript is a must.

Plusses

  • Library Experience. LibraryThing does a lot of work in the library world and many applicants will likely have that background. An MLS is a definite plus, as is library work and knowledge of library standards and technologies.
  • Book-World Experience. Experience in bookstore or publishing would be a plus.
  • Mobile Programming. This is not a mobile programming job, but if you have mobile experience you could help on one of our apps.
  • Design Experience. This is not a design job, but design experience would be a plus.

Non-Technical

  • Working remotely puts a premium on communication skills, discipline, and internal motivation.
  • We want to hire people who care about books and libraries, and believe in an open and humane vision of the future for both. We live to create technologies that make readers happy and keep libraries vital.
  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-energy, small-team environment. Programming is rapid, creative, and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed and reliability, communication, and responsibility.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with members and/or libraries directly. We believe that “The User is not Broken.”
  • We develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • Interesting, passionate people make interesting, passionate products. Besides loving books, this is the rare job for which a masters in Medieval Irish or a side gig as a jazz bassist would be a plus.

Location and Compensation

This is a remote job open to anyone eligible to work in the US. We’d love to employ people outside the US, but we’ve done it before, and, for a small company, the legal hassles are too great.

All we can say for salary is that we will consider applicants with a wide degree of skills and experiences, the range is as $60-100k, or more. We are looking for the right person, not the right salary.

LibraryThing offers excellent health and dental insurance. We require hard work but are unusually flexible about hours.

Read Before Applying

Before you apply, you should make sure you can do the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, which is something like Jeff Atwood’s “Fizz Buzz.” Our interviews include a simple programming quiz not unlike that. If you object to such things, please do not apply.

How to Apply

Send a cover-letter email and PDF resume to info@librarything.com. Please also include your solution to the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, so we know you took the time to do it. Your cover letter should go through this job advertisement, responding to it. If possible, send us or link us to code samples.

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Did you read this far? Prove you did by making your subject line “Feta Cheese: [Your name].”

Labels: employment

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

SantaThing 2020: Bookish Secret Santa!

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

This year we’re focusing on indie bookstores. The pandemic has been a disaster for independent bookstores, even as it sent Amazon sales to new heights. So we picked five of our favorites indies from around the United States. You can still order Kindle and Nook ebooks, and we have Book Depository for international orders.

» SIGN UP FOR SANTATHING NOW!

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 30th 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 7th at 12pm EST. 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 RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH, BookPeople in Austin, TX, Left Bank Books in St. Louis, MO, King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, UT, and Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.

Once again this year, we’re also offering international deliveries through Book Depository. Kindle and Nook options are available to all members, regardless of location. To receive Kindle ebooks, your Kindle must be registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.). See more information about all the stores.

Shipping

Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $5 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 FOURTEENTH 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 kate@librarything.com.

Happy SantaThinging!

Labels: santathing

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

November Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the November 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 91 books this month, and a grand total of 2,965 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 30th 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 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!

Kaylie Jones Books Akashic Books Entrada Publishing
Unsolicited Press RootstockPublishing Revell
Black Rose Writing Thinklings Books Alcove Press
Crooked Lane Books NewCon Press Flyaway Books
William Morrow Odyssey Books Prufrock Press
Gibson House Press BookWhisperer Gibbs Smith Publishing
CarTech Books Small Beer Press BookViewCafe
ClydeBank Media Red Adept Publishing Ooligan Press
Open Books Candlewick Press Walker Books US
New Vessel Press Blushing Books Inferis Press
Eclipse Press TouchPoint Press Pacific Media Mania
Allium Press of Chicago Coach House Books Scribe Publications
Icon Books Greystone Books BHC Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Friday, October 30th, 2020

TinyCat’s October Library of the Month: The Sustainability Trust Library

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s October Library of the Month looks at a New Zealand-based organization working to make a sustainable lifestyle easy for anyone. The Sustainability Trust’s Volunteer Librarian Marion Llenart was kind enough to field my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Sustainability Trust is a social enterprise that believes sustainable living should be an available option for us all. With a focus on energy efficiency the Trust helps those economically and socially disadvantaged in our community to use energy efficiently in their houses and flats and create healthy homes. The library provides information that helps people reduce their impact on the environment.

Tell us some interesting things about how you support your community.

Our library has books and information which support our sustainable living community programmes such as learning how to compost and making garden containers from pallets, making cleaning products from natural products, making natural face products, and recycling.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

My favourite books include The Natural Home by Wendyl Nissen, which gives practical advice on sustainable living such as making a garden and cooking healthy food. Creating Cohousing by Kathryn McCamant is another favourite as this is a way of the future for those who like to live in sustainable communities. Lastly, Living Big in a Tiny House by Bryce Langston provides another alternative way of living sustainably, and this book gives beautiful examples of very small homey spaces.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

The ongoing challenge for the library is always promotion and making sure people know we have all these resources and information on sustainability readily available and free of charge. As a small library we don’t have a large acquisitions budget so every new item needs careful research.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

TinyCat has provided an online portal to the library. As well as providing access to physical resources, it allows promotion of online resources including films and websites. It has enabled me to promote the library’s Wiki, giving information on second hand shops, places to dispose of waste sustainably and local climate change organisations. It would be great to have the library Wiki developed so it can enable feedback, suggestions and discussion from library users.


Want to learn more about The Sustainability Trust? Visit their website at https://sustaintrust.org.nz/our-story and check out their TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Calling all TinyCat libraries: become TinyCat’s next Library of the Month—just send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Win $1,000 in books: LibraryThing needs a Project Specialist (Remote)

shelfshot

We need to find a great new employee, so we’re offering $1,000 worth of books to the person who finds us one. What would you buy? Everything.

Rules! You get a $1,000 gift certificate to the local, chain or online bookseller of your choice. To qualify, you need to connect us to someone. Either you introduce them to us—and they follow up by applying themselves—or they mention your name in their email (“So-and-so told me about this”). You can recommend yourself, but if you found out about it from someone else, we hope you’ll do the right thing and make them the beneficiary.

Small print: Our decision is final, incontestable, irreversible, and completely dictatorial. It only applies when an employee is hired. If we don’t hire someone for the job, we don’t pay. If we’ve already been in touch with the candidate, it doesn’t count. Void where prohibited. You pay taxes, and the insidious hidden tax of shelving. Employees and their families are not eligible to win.


 

Job Ad: Project Specialist for LibraryThing

LibraryThing is hiring a project specialist (full-time, remote position). Although we’d love someone in Maine, the job is open to librarians and other book lovers throughout the United States.

You Must

  • Love books, love people
  • Write, edit, and communicate clearly and quickly
  • Work well independently and under direction
  • Manage your time effectively
  • Understand What Makes LibraryThing LibraryThing
  • Be organized and detail-oriented enough to read and follow all the directions in this ad

We Want

We will pick smarts, affability, and drive over any skill. And we’ll tailor the job to fit your skills and experience.

An ideal candidates might have some or all of these:

  • Book-world experience
  • Library experience (with or without an MLS)
  • Professional social media experience
  • Familiarity with bookish social media
  • Creativity and enthusiasm to learn new things
  • Excellent computer skills. (We’re a Mac shop.)
  • Technical skills (Excel, HTML, CSS, SQL)

Your duties will probably include:

As a small company, we have few “siloes.” So other duties calling on organization, adaptability, diligence, intelligence, and creativity will pop up, and you must play an engaged and constructive role in company meetings on any topic.

Your job may include occasional travel—once that’s possible again—to meet your coworkers and perhaps to publisher or library conferences.

Compensation

Because we’re willing to consider a wide variety of applicants, we can’t set a salary. But our health insurance is gold-plated. We require hard work and are only looking for full-time applicants, but we are unusually flexible about hours.

How to Apply

Send your resume in PDF format to tim@librarything.com. Your email should be your cover letter. It should show your ability to be persuasive but succinct.

If we interview you, we will ask you to write and edit something “live.” We do this together a lot, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this might not be the job for you.

Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

Remember that part about diligence? Your subject line should be “Brie Cheese: [Your name]” so we know you are diligent.


 

Bookshelves image courtesy Germán Poo-Caamaño (see Flickr), CC BY 2.0.

Labels: employment, jobs

Monday, October 5th, 2020

October Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the October 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 72 books this month, and a grand total of 2,467 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, October 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 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!

Akashic Books Black Rose Writing Entrada Publishing
BookWhisperer TouchPoint Press Allium Press of Chicago
Best Day Books For Young Readers Incubation Press Unsolicited Press
Prufrock Press University of North Georgia Press The Parliament House Press
CarTech Books Meerkat Press Open Books
City Owl Press Ooligan Press Revell
Candlewick Press BookViewCafe Zimbell House Publishing
Emerald Lake Books Coach House Books Icon Books
Scribe Publications Westminster John Knox Press BHC Press
Red Adept Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Author Interview: Anne Helen Petersen on Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

headshot of Anne Helen Petersen

In the past several months, we have been interviewing people in the book world with interesting perspectives on current events. This month KJ talked with Anne Helen Petersen, author of the new book Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. Ms. Petersen is a former academic & professor, now culture writer with two previous non-fiction books and a long tenure writing cultural and political analysis at Buzzfeed. She currently writes “Culture Study,” a newsletter through Substack.

What brought you to the subject of specifically Millennial burnout? Do you think the stressors of COVID-19 have exacerbated or intensified feelings of burnout in this or any generation?

It’s pretty straightforward: I’m a millennial, and I’d been burnt out for years — but didn’t understand what I was experiencing as burnout, because I’d always thought that burning out meant hitting a wall and, like, collapsing. I prided myself on being able to just keep doing the work, no matter my exhaustion and stress. When I finally figured out what was going on, it was only because I was able to expand the definition to describe a feeling that I think so many in our generation feels — the result of great instability/precarity and the feeling of needing to work all the time to counteract it.

COVID has only exacerbated and amplified existing burnout. Everyone I know who was exhausted before the pandemic now feels like they’re barely holding it together — especially parents. I think that before COVID, many had become pretty adept at ignoring some of the larger structural brokenness in society and trying to patch some of the holes in the social safety net. Now there’s no more pretense: something’s very broken, and we have to get pissed off enough to fix it.

In a recent newsletter on your Substack, you examined how the vocational awe affects the essential workers it venerates, specifically in the context of librarians. Earlier this year, we talked with Callan Bignoli, a librarian-activist for front-line workers amidst the stuttered re-opening of libraries. Can you speak to how vocational awe, librarians, and burnout meet?

The short answer to this question is that vocational awe creates an aura of do-goodness around a job that does two pretty crappy things. First, it makes it so that the vocation as a whole becomes reticent to self-critique: it’s so essential, so good, so venerated in society, that there’s not much room to figure out what’s maybe not so good (and causing burnout!) within it. Fobazi Ettarh’s seminal piece does an excellent job of pointing to how vocational awe amongst librarians has allowed the profession to just stick with the status quo of maintaining implicit whiteness (and white standards of behavior, of learning, of speech, whatever) within library-related and librarian-related spaces.

But then it also allows people outside of the profession to dismiss very real demands, on the part of librarians, for things like adequate funding, health care, and support for dealing with the myriad jobs that each librarian is now tasked with performing. If you ask for more, it’s somehow viewed as indicative of a lack of passion, or a lack of appropriate awe for the job. This mindset is preposterous and yet truly ubiquitous.

Much of your work—in print and at your former time at Buzzfeed—has dealt with gender. Did you find a similar focus when researching and writing your newest book?

I think a large percentage (but certainly not all!) of my readership are women, and speaking VERY broadly, women are more willing to elaborate on some of their feelings about various issues. They’re also super angry about persistent inequalities in domestic labor, and I think that really comes through in the millennial parenting chapter. But in general: I’m a feminist, my work is feminist, and I think it’s absolutely necessary to keep drawing attention to the insidious ways that patriarchy makes life (for men and women) more miserable than it needs to be.

How is your personal library organized?

It is a very complex and very sophisticated mix of general subject area and aesthetic. All of my Penguin Classics live together, for example, and all of my academic texts from my PhD. But then, I’ll admit, there are areas that are all relatively new fiction with blue and green dust jackets. It pleases me!

What are some books you’ve read lately that you would recommend?

A few books that have pulled me out of my Covid-related difficulties with reading: Miriam Toews’ Irma Voth, Diane Cook’s The New WildernessBrit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, Niall William’s This is Happiness.

Anne Helen Petersen can be found on Substack, Twitter, and of course her author page here on LibraryThing.

Browse all of our interviews here

 

 

Labels: author interview, interview, Uncategorized

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Author Interview: Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager on The Writer’s Library

Tim interviewed Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, authors of The Writer’s Library: The Authors You Love on the Books That Changed Their Lives. Nancy Pearl is, of course, the Seattle librarian, author of numerous books, action-figure model, and regular contributor on NPR. Jeff Schwager is a writer, editor, producer, playwright—and book lover.

If there is a “LibraryThing book,” The Writer’s Library is it! LibraryThing members may or may not be interested in a given book, but we are always interested in books! The Writer’s Library is, essentially, a whole book going deep on author’s reading history, personal libraries and recommendations. I loved it. I hope you enjoy the interview!

TIM: What sorts of books did you read as children?

NANCY: I grew up in a home that we’d now call dysfunctional, but to me, back when I was a kid, it was just not an easy place to be, so I spent all my time at my local public library – the Parkman branch of the Detroit Public Library system. Miss Frances Whitehead was the children’s librarian, my librarian, and she fed my insatiable need to escape through books. I read, when she met me at about age 8 or 9, only horse and dog books, but she soon expanded my reading into books like The Hobbit, Mary Poppins, The Wind in the Willows, all the Rosemary Sutcliff books, and all of the Newbery Award titles. Of course, I continued reading all the horse and dog books too. It was because Miss Whitehead saved me from total despair that I became a children’s librarian, because, at age 10, I wanted to do for other kids exactly what she did for me: gave me the world of books.

JEFF: From an early age I remember loving mysteries. I read Two Minute Mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown, followed by all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot books.

TIM: Was there a book that made the turn for you into adult reading?

Nancy Pearl

NANCY: The first book I ever checked out from the adult section of the library was Gone with the Wind, and I loved it. Another adult novel I checked out early on was called The Headland, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I remember taking it from the bookshelf because I was familiar with the author, from having read Caddie Woodlawn and Family Grandstand, and all her other books.

JEFF: For me it was a paperback of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald called Babylon Revisited and Other Stories. I started on a rainy afternoon in high school with the story “Winter Dreams,” which is a sort-of early version of The Great Gatsby about idealized and therefore doomed first love. What hit me, other than the heroine, who was a composite of every girl I lusted after in high school, and the hero, who was almost as pathetic as I was, was the beauty of the writing, the amazing musical flow of the sentences. That’s still the thing I respond to most fervently in my reading. 

TIM: You’re both fine writers in different genres. Do you have any advice for other writers?

NANCY: Whenever I’m asked this question, I’m reminded of what Ernest Gaines once said in a talk at the Seattle Public Library when he was asked the same question: “I have eight words of advice: read read read read write write write write.” It’s hard for me to imagine how someone can be a great—or even good—writer without being a reader. And I think that comes through in the interviews in The Writer’s Library. I know when I wrote my first (and probably last) novel, George & Lizzie, I knew exactly what kind of novel it would be, because I was writing it for myself and I knew what kind of books I loved.

TIM: Can you tell me about your personal libraries? Are you collectors, hoarders, or something else?

NANCY: I am not a collector, but there are books that I keep just because I loved them at one time. I have many novels that I read as a young teen (mostly purchased at library book sales), which I will probably never re-read, but that I can’t bear not to have in my personal library. My favorite writer from those years is Mary Stolz. She wrote books for both teens and younger children, but I only love the teen ones. I have re-read some of her teen novels and they actually hold up quite well. Of course they’re long out of print, but if you can find In a Mirror or Second Nature, I’d highly recommend both of them. Other than those teen novels (other than Stolz I have books by Anne Emery, Rosamund du Jardin, and Lenora Mattingly Weber), I’ve kept a lot of my favorite novels and a few nonfiction titles.

JEFF: I am a collector and a hoarder–meaning I have some books I cherish and many, many more that I just can’t bear to part with because I might, just maybe, want to look at them someday. As a collector, I focus on specific authors I love, including Chekhov, Philip Roth, Denis Johnson, Ross Macdonald, Raymond Carver, Richard Yates, and John O’Hara (all dead white men), as well as modern signed first editions (a more diverse lot, including my favorite living writer, Alice Munro, who is a master of compression and manages to get the depth of a novel into each of her short stories), pulp paperbacks, old Random House plays, slipcased editions… the list goes on and on, as does my library, which has taken over my fairly large house like a monster from a ’50s sci-fi movie. 

TIM: I loved hearing authors talk about books as objects, such as Jonathan Lethem collecting books for their cover designers. Do you have books you treasure as objects per se?

NANCY: No, not really – for me it’s always what the books say, what that means to me, rather than as a valuable object.

Jeff Schwager

JEFF: I love books with slipcases, like Folio Society and Limited Edition Club books, as well as clean old books, which have such a wonderful smell. I love beautiful dust jackets–the best ever is the one for the first edition of John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra. I love deckle edged pages. I have some beautiful illustrated Limited Edition Club editions of Isaac Bashevis Singer books—The Magician of Lublin, Satan in Goray, and some short stories–that evoke the shtetls of my ancestors, that I love. Of modern books, I love the design of Dave Eggers‘ McSweeney’s Books–check out Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis and Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon, to name two, which are such beautiful literary artifacts. 

TIM: How did you pick the authors you wanted to interview? Did you fight over who would get to do them?

NANCY: We started out by each making a list of the authors we wanted to interview and discovered, to our relief, that there was some overlap (T.C. Boyle, Charles Johnson, Michael Chabon, Louise Erdrich, Donna Tartt). Then we each had authors who we were passionate about but that the other person wasn’t as enthusiastic about. I won’t say it actually came to fisticuffs, but I believe that voices were raised in the ensuing discussions. And we ended with, I think, a wonderfully diverse collection of writers, so, as Ma says in Little House in the Big Woods, “all’s well that ends well.”

TIM: My favorite interview was with Laila Lalami, an author I have not read but will now. You probably can’t say which was your favorite, but how about one you loved?

NANCY: For me, each interview is special in its own particularly lovely way. I think that’s because we didn’t have a list of questions that we asked each writer—we began each interview by me asking a general sort of question about reading as children, or growing up in a reading family, but after that, we let the interview basically go where the writer took it. I loved the interview with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman because we talked so much about children’s books. I loved the interview with Luis Urrea because of the way his childhood reading was determined by the circumstances of his parents’ marriage. I loved the interview with Madeline Miller because she and I felt the same way about John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. I loved the interview with Jenny Egan because of her story about reading Rebecca. I loved the interview with Amor Towles because he also read a series of mysteries in publication order. I loved the interview with Jane Hirschfield because I love poetry, which she talked about with such precision. I loved the interview with Laila Lalami because I learned so much about the experience of colonialism. I loved the interview with Russell Banks because of the story of his 4th grade teacher and Brazil. And so on.

JEFF: I loved them all of course, but one that stands out was T.C. Boyle, who lives in Montecito, down the street from Oprah Winfrey, in the first house Frank Lloyd Wright built in California. I was really eager to see his home, which was gorgeous, and to talk again to Tom (as he is casually known), whom I had first interviewed when I was a young journalistic pup thirty years ago. He is as funny as his funniest short stories, and also as thoughtful as his most serious novels, including my favorites, World’s End and Drop City.

TIM: In her lovely foreword, Susan Orlean recounts how the dementia and death of her mother was, in a way, the death of a library. More literally, dismantling my parents’ library, which encoded so much of their lives, was a second loss. What will happen to your library—however defined—when you die? 

NANCY: I hope my daughters will look inside all the books and find the ones that are autographed and keep or sell those (especially a book of poetry by Stephen Spender and a beat-up copy of Langston HughesMontage of a Dream Deferred both of which are signed to me personally). Other than that, I’m trying not to care too much about them.

JEFF: I’m leaving mine to Nancy—she walks 5-8 miles a day while I obsess over MSNBC 24/7, so I’m sure she will outlive me!

TIM: I could imagine a series of these books. Would you consider doing another? Anyone you wish you could interview?

NANCY: I’d love to do another collection, so we could talk to more poets, more writers at the beginning of their careers, more science fiction/fantasy writers, more nonfiction writers. But one of the things that makes The Writer’s Library special, I think, is that we’re with the authors in person, mostly in their homes. I don’t want to do a series of Zoom interviews – I don’t think it would be the same.

JEFF: There are so many writers I’d love to interview! If I could interview one living literary writer it would be Alice Munro, but we were told last time she was retired and not doing any more interviews. Otherwise, more poets definitely, and writers in genres we didn’t get to this time, like mystery and sci-fi/fantasy writers and playwrights. Also, I love literate songwriters—especially Bruce Springsteen, whose autobiography was wonderful and who is so well read, and whose songs show the influence of his reading. Call us, Bruce! And the Obamas, whose memoirs are as thoughtful as they are. I can’t wait for his new book. If you’re reading this Barack and Michelle, let us know–we will go anywhere, anytime, anyplace to talk to you!

Labels: author interview, authors, interview

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

September Early Reviewers batch is up!

Win free books from the September 2020 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 87 books this month, and a grand total of 3,115 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 28th 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 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!

Akashic Books RootstockPublishing Revell
Black Rose Writing University of North Georgia Press Unsolicited Press
Allium Press of Chicago William Morrow Cloud Lodge Books
Greenleaf Book Group World Weaver Press Best Day Books For Young Readers
Petulant Child Press Consortium Book Sales and Distribution Science, Naturally!
NewCon Press Real Nice Books Anaphora Literary Press
The Ardent Writer Press Entrada Publishing City Owl Press
Red Adept Publishing Poolbeg Press Scribe Publications
Coach House Books Greystone Books Ooligan Press
Zimbell House Publishing Temptation Press Prufrock Press
Open Books BookWhisperer BHC Press
Book Publicity Services

Labels: early reviewers, LTER