Most scientists agree that there have been five mass extinctions in Earth's history. Kolbert, a respected environmental journalist, believes we're on the verge of number six, the first since the dinosaurs were wiped out more than 50 million years ago. What does this mean for the planet? We'll find out when The Sixth Extinction appears sometime next year.
From our archives: a review of the audio version of Kolbert's previous book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe.
Veterans Day has been an official holiday in the United States since 1938. Our November issue has a roundup of new titles to remember the soldiers who fought in battles past and present, but there are plenty more in our archives—so we've compiled a list of some memorable military histories. Do you have a favorite?
20th Century Battlefields by Peter and Dan Snow
Medal of Honor by Peter Collier, photography by Nick Del Calzo
The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw
The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam
Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham
Now the Drum of War by Robert Roper
Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour by Joseph Persico
11 Days in December by Stanley Weintraub
Jarhead by Anthony Swofford
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Today at the Book Case, we're welcoming author Sara Morgan, an entrepreneur who explains how readers can achieve success on their own terms in a new book, No Limits: How I Escaped the Clutches of Corporate America to Live the Self-Employed Life of My Dreams. Today she shares her top 10 tips for successful self-employment with Book Case readers. Give your own in the comments, and you'll be entered to win a free copy of No Limits!
Top 10 tips for successful self-employment
I have been self-employed for the past four years, and in that time I have learned a few things about what to do and what not to do. The following are what I consider to be the top 10 tips for finding your way to successful self-employment.
#1 – Do something you are passionate about. Without passion, it will be very difficult for you to deal with the inevitable problems that will arise. Don’t pick a business just because it promises a lot of money. I think many small businesses fail because the person running the business did not really love what they were doing.
#2 – Don’t wait till the last minute to consider things like taxes. Schedule a consultation with a CPA if you need to, but don’t put it off until the end of the year unless you enjoy facing stiff penalties.
#3 – Use an accounting program to get organized—I recommend the online version of Quickbooks. It is very affordable and easy to use. Don’t make the mistake of trying to manage your finances with a pen and paper. You may quickly become overwhelmed.
#4 – Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. This includes not only your family, but people in your community as well. You may be surprised to find out how helpful people really are.
#5 – Consider having multiple streams of income to ensure that you are able to survive financially, even in the event of a downturn or unforeseen circumstance. Just be careful not to take on too much. You do not want to compromise your primary business by putting too much on your plate.
#6 – Trust your instincts. Too many times we ignore our instincts, but research has shown that our instincts are typically correct.
#7 – Become a feedback machine. Get advice from everyone you can before starting out on your own and even after you are established. Don’t think of it as criticism, but rather a source of valuable information.
#8 – Schedule breaks and stick to them. It is very easy to let things get away from you when you own your own business. Resist the urge to over work yourself. You will not be doing your business or family any favors if you are stressed out from working too much.
#9 - Never give up. Most often people fail because they gave up too soon. Running your own business can be hard, but it can also be very rewarding. Hang in there, even during the tough times.
#10 –Don’t forget to have fun. Your business and life should be fun. If you’re not having fun, then it just ain’t worth it.
Last night I went to a book release event for a new book about America's relationship with energy—a subject near to my heart after spending the last few (unseasonably cold) weeks without heat in my apartment. The book is Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells—Our Ride to the Renewable Future, by Amanda Little, a journalist who's been covering energy and the environment for over 10 years. In the book, Little sets out to learn about the history of energy in America and the way it affects every aspect of our lives.
Little read from a few different sections in the book, took questions from the audience, and told several stories about her adventures in writing the book. At one point she found herself on an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, being dared to go up to the crown—the highest point on the rig, about 270 feet in the air. The elevator ride to the crown took several agonizingly slow minutes, and when she asked about rescue procedures in case of elevator failure, she was told that she'd have to shimmy down the rig!
Little concluded the evening by talking about the future of energy in America, remarking that she had been amazed by the ingenuity she had witnessed everywhere from that oil rig in the Gulf to a newly constructed house in New Orleans that was built to be essentially a house-sized thermos, keeping in heat or cool air as needed. With the skills and creative minds currently working both within and outside of the energy industry in America, Little believes the future is bright. (And as for me, well, it's much easier to be optimistic now that I have heat at home!)
This morning brought news of this year's National Book Award nominees. It's an eclectic list that contains a couple of surprises (such as American Salvage). We're rooting for Colum McCann or Jayne Anne Phillips for fiction (fun fact: the same reviewer who wrote about this year's Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall, for BookPage also covered Lark and Termite—does that mean Jayne Anne's a shoo-in?), and my personal nonfiction pick is the fascinating Fordlandia.
David Small's Stitches seems like the obvious front-runner for Young People's Literature, given its crossover success and starkly powerful images, though we wouldn't rule out Charles and Emma, a moving exploration of the Darwins' marriage. We'll find out whether we're right when the winners are announced on November 18.
Full list of nominees after the jump! Who's your favorite on the list? Is there a book you thought should have made it that didn't?
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W. W. Norton &
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Judges: Alan Cheuse, Junot Díaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, Lydia Millet
David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search
for the Origins of Species (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press)
T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)
You can find more information about the awards on the site for the National Book Foundation.
As a new addition to the BookPage staff, I'm trying to familiarize myself with as many new and recent books as I can. One of the books that caught my eye is an advance copy of Robyn Okrant's Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Live as TV's Most Influential Guru Advises (to be released in January 2010). Based on Okrant's blog, Living Oprah, the book chronicles the year she spent trying to "live her best life" as Oprah intends. From reading Oprah's book club selections and cooking Oprah's recipes to trying to love shoes as much as Oprah does, Okrant takes Oprah's instructions to heart, and carefully observes the effects, both positive and negative, her project is having on herself and the people in her life.
A recent book with a similar structure is Colin Beavan's No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process (the accompanying documentary is now in theaters). This book also sprang from a blog (No Impact Man) and is about the year that Beavan and his family gave up everything in their lives with a negative environmental impact. Plastic, television, air-conditioning, even toilet paper was forbidden in their household for a year. Although the rules Beavan followed were radically different from Okrant's, it's a fair bet that they both learned something interesting about the way that many of us live our lives today.
And they're not alone. In the last few years, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of books like these. From books about food (Julie & Julia, of course, which according to Amazon is now subtitled My Year of Cooking Dangerously) to books about religion (A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically) to books with a social or political agenda (Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine), my-year-of memoirs are everywhere these days.
So it should come as no surprise that at least one enterprising blogger has put his own twist on the topic: Dave Holmes (My Year of Everything) plans to read one my-year-of book every week, and then write a book about his experience. As he puts it: "After 12 months of blogging, I’ll have my own book that will teach you how to be a better person, a better cook, a better lover, and literally everything else. How convenient!" I just hope for his sake that this publishing trend lasts long enough for him to land a deal.
Dear reader: if you could get your own book deal, what would you want to spend one year doing?
As the time for Oprah to make her 63rd book club pick draws near (September 18, if you haven't heard), we're digging deeper to try to figure out what the world's most influential reader has chosen.
The audio version of #63 offers some useful clues, if online listings can be trusted. Ingram says it's a 3-CD set. Barnes and Noble goes further, saying the audio is 2 hours and 45 minutes, unabridged. If correct, this short length limits the original Pub Lunch list somewhat—only The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man by Thomas Fink and Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt are anywhere close to short enough to fit on 3 CDs unabridged. We also dug up two other contenders, both published at $23.99 in hardcover by Little, Brown:
Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione
The publisher's synopsis says this guide to achieving inner peace brings an "11th-century Tibetan woman's practice to the West for the first time."
Sway by Zachary Lazar
This loosely plotted novel that chronicles of some of the biggest events in the 1960s (the early days of the Rolling Stones; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers) would certainly be a different sort of pick for Oprah. It's just 272 pages, but audio versions of novels tend to be longer so this might not be a contender after all.
Of these, my money's on The Man Book (which would be a true departure for Oprah, whose previous selections have been as female-oriented as her audience). Think the audio listing can be trusted?
Julia Steele, BookPage Associate Publisher
Just listened to Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It's a great story set during the gold rush years and takes the reader from Chile to China to the new world full of 'easy gold.' The audio is read by Blair Brown, and she does a wonderful job—I will read or listen to more books by this author. Next I'll be starting on People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks for my book club—I think it will make for great discussion.
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs is on my bedside table —I read a chapter every once in a while when I need a laugh. Jacobs is a journalist who has made his living turning his life into an experiment. In this book he outsources his life to India, poses as a beautiful woman on match.com, tries being “radically honest” at all times, and poses nude—among other things. It’s the perfect book to read in a chunk at a time.
Ok, I admit it—I’ve been a bad BookPage blogger as of late. Trisha thinks our blog readers must miss my voice—I think she’s just trying to flatter me into blogging more. But whatever the case, I’m back on this fine Tuesday because of the Facebook. I am, like most people I know, Facebook friends with a number of people I went to high school with—even if I haven’t seen them since graduation. And today, several high school friends updated their statuses about going out to get a copy of Fading Echoes. What’s this? A book I haven’t heard about?
A quick trip to Amazon.com reveals that Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor by Mike Sielski goes on sale today.
It’s set in my tiny hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and centers on the long-standing Central Bucks East/Central Bucks West football rivalry. Anyone who went to East (like me) will tell you what we lacked in football skills we made up for in academic achievement. Anyone who went to West will tell you it must have been terrible to go to East. But this book isn’t just about football.
From the publisher:
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was home to the greatest high school football rivalry in the state. There was Central Bucks West, captained by senior fullback/ linebacker Bryan Buckley. And there was Central Bucks East, led by senior lineman Colby Umbrell. Bryan and Colby would meet each other as opponents in a game played on a grass field, but their dreams and devotion to their country after the horrific events of September 11, 2001 would lead each of them to the conflict in the Middle East. Only one would return. This slice of small-town American life is the compelling chronicle of two outstanding athletes: their lives, the game they loved, and the separate journeys they would undergo from the football field to the battlefield. But it is also a chronicle of those who helped shape them into the men they became, and the community that watched and cheered as they grew from game-playing boys into fighting men-and witnessed a sacrifice it would never forget.
Library Journal deems it: "A very moving, striking story exceptionally well told; for all readers." I'll have to join the Doylestown Facebook crowd and go out and get myself a copy.
The year isn't over yet, but in early July Amazon posted their "top 10 books of the year . . . so far" in several categories. This got me wondering: what are my top 10 books of the year so far? In no particular order, some favorite new books from the year. Links will take you to the BookPage review.
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The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Not exactly an original choice, but there's a reason for the good word-of-mouth on this novel. Tremendously moving and unexpected.
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Like Henry James in Turn of the Screw, Waters leaves the "poltergeist or disturbed protagonist" decision up to the reader, but draws a compelling portrait of Britain's changing class system after World War II.
The Believers by Zoe Heller. Though this one wasn't as much of a page-turner as Notes on a Scandal, I appreciate a writer who's not afraid to make her characters less than likeable. Plus, I envy her Bahamas/NYC lifestyle!
Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick. Perusing this collection of essays dedicated to the teen reads of my childhood was a fun trip down memory lane. It will be especially enjoyed by anyone in the 25-35 age range.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I know this isn't on sale yet. Does it make you feel better to know that I'm still in a state of anticipation -- this time for book #3? Sequels are often disappointing, but this one lives up to the standard set by The Hunger Games. (Watch for our interview with Collins in the September issue.)
A Day and a Night and a Day by Glen Duncan. I'd never heard of this British writer before galleys of Day crossed my desk, but I'm now on the lookout for his earlier works.
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert. The lives of four generations of women are captured in just 300-0dd pages that have the heft of a much bigger book. It reminded me in some ways of The Stone Diaries, which I just read (and loved).
Little Bee by Chris Cleave. A talked-up novel that deserved the buzz it got, Cleave's portrait of a Nigerian refugee with a startling connection to a well-to-do British woman and her husband is a moving, honest story of immigrant life and the ties that bind us all.
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. I've long read and loved Wizenberg's blog, Orangette. Her memoir is written in the same friendly voice, but goes deeper into the stories behind the recipes. It is heartfelt, but not sentimental, and told with honesty -- so I'll be completely honest here and admit to staying up too late to read the whole book in one gulp and actually wiping tears more than once.
My Abandonment by Peter Rock. This novel about father-daughter survivalists who live off the grid was inspired by a true story and takes an unexpected turn.
What's your top 10?