Are you a book blogger, or do you enjoy reading blogs about books? (If you're reading The Book Case, we hope the answer is "yes"!) Then you have to check out Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which starts on Monday, September 13. (There are giveaways—including a prize from BookPage—guest posts and interviews galore! How fun does that sound?)
To get more information on this celebration of the book blogging community, we invited Amy Riley, BBAW's founder and a blogger at My Friend Amy, to tell us about the history of the week.
In 2008, I discovered the vibrant and lively community of book bloggers. For a lifetime reader, it felt a bit like a dream come true to discover a whole community of people who wanted to spend a significant chunk of their time reading books and talking about them. And I also discovered there were so many books I knew nothing about! Reading my new friends' thoughts on books encouraged me to try books I normally would have thought were outside of my reading taste.
Book Blogger Appreciation Week seeks to connect the existing book blogging community; introduce others to the idea of reading book blogs for book recommendations; and elevate the profiles of book bloggers.
Unfortunately not everyone felt the same way and I noticed some criticism of book blogs by the more established critical blogs. I couldn't understand how enthusiasm for books could ever be a bad thing or what sort of threat we posed by sharing our musings on the internet. And so I decided to turn my frustration with these criticisms into positive action, and Book Blogger Appreciation Week was born.
We are now entering our third year, and the book blogging landscape has changed a lot. New book blogs are popping up all of the time and more formalized relationships are developing among publishers and bookstores, but that's really only a segment of book bloggers. There is no one definition or set of rules for a book blogger; we are as varied as the many books we cover. The only real requirement is a love and enthusiasm for books.
Book Blogger Appreciation Week seeks to connect the existing book blogging community; introduce others to the idea of reading book blogs for book recommendations; and elevate the profiles of book bloggers. It's a sort of retreat for bloggers who work hard all year long and a chance for everyone else to come in and see what we're doing. There are awards, interviews, guest posts, giveaways and more. If you love books or if you're curious about book bloggers, you'll definitely want to check it out! We welcome you with open arms. Friends of books are friends of ours.
When we hear about politicians landing book deals, the book in question is almost always a memoir or some sort of inspirational guide.
So, I was interested to see that former U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida)—also a former governor of Florida—has signed a deal to write The Key to the Kingdom, "a topical and provocative debut political thriller." The book will be published by Vanguard Press, which is part of the Perseus Books Group.
Graham is best known for his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during and after 9/11 (he opposed the Iraq War). He is also known for his "workdays," when he decided to "experience the lives of ordinary Floridians firsthand by working their jobs."
He worked as a teacher, a plumber, a social worker, a shrimper . . . and now he can add "thriller writer."
Will you look out for this book? On a related note, former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace's debut novel, Eighteen Acres, hits shelves on October 19.
A few of our favorite recent posts from the book blog world...
Dispatches from the Decatur Book Festival
Posted by PWxyz
The Decatur Book Festival took place on Labor Day Weekend. If you missed the action, I'd recommend reading the coverage on PWxyz, the news blog of Publisher's Weekly. Their posts include a run-down of Jonathan Franzen's keynote speech; a summary of Orange Prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's talk on storytelling; and notes from talks by fantasy authors Cassandra Clare and Lev Grossman.
Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010
Posted by BBAW
Book Blogger Appreciation Week starts Sept. 13, and the theme is "A Treasure Chest of Infinite Books and Infinite Blogs." This post outlines the blogging topics for every day of BBAW—if you're participating, we'd love for you to post a link to your blog in the comments section of this post. BookPage donated a prize to BBAW, so we hope you join the fun!
Julia Glass: The Not Quite Yes
Posted by Meg Waite Clayton
Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters, posted a link to a guest post by Julia Glass in the comments of our Monday Contest this week, a giveaway of Glass's The Widower's Tale. Since we've gotten so many thoughtful responses to our contest, I thought you all would appreciate the post, in which Glass writes about her long road to publishing Three Junes and the encouragement she felt from every "Not Quite Yes" she got from magazine editors. If you have dreams of publishing some day, this post is worth a read.
What book blog posts did you enjoy this week?
During my Labor Day travels I listened to Victoria Lautman's fall interview with Audrey Niffenegger—and was intrigued by the tantalizing tidbits about her work in progress, which is tentatively titled Chinchilla Girl in Exile.
Apparently the project is no secret, though—Niffenegger has a description posted on her own site:
It is about a nine-year-old girl named Lizzie Varo who has hypertrichosis (she is covered with hair) and her desire to go to school (she’s been home-schooled by her clever and amusing Aunt Mariella) and what happens when she does go to school (things get weird).
Diehard Niffenegger fans have something else to get excited about—to celebrate the paperback release of Her Fearful Symmetry, Niffenegger is giving away a trip to London and a guided tour through Highgate Cemetery and other amazing prizes. There's also a special blogger-only contest! You can enter here.
Click here for our interview with Niffenegger, and reviews of The Time-Traveler's Wife.
This past week has brought us news of two major awards:
Miéville's "The City & The City is a murder mystery, old-fashioned in its way, narrated by a tough-talking police investigator and layered with all the shadow and menace of a film noir." (BookPage, June 2009)
And how's this for premonition? From the September 2009 issue of BookPage: Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl will almost certainly be the most important SF novel of the year for its willingness to confront the most cherished notions of the genre, namely that our future is bright and we will overcome our selfish, cruel nature."
Click here to read the complete list of Hugo winners. What SF&F book would you rank at the top?
The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced on Sept. 7. The Man Booker honors the best novel (written in English) published by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland or Zimbabwe. Here's the shortlist, narrowed down from a longlist of 13:
Peter Carey for Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue for Room
Damon Galgut for In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy for The Long Song
Tom McCarthy for C
Each of these novels is currently available in hardcover, with the exception of The Finkler Question, which is available on a Kindle.
Got any predictions for the award? The big winner will be announced on October 12. (I'll admit that I'm rooting for Room.)
This week's recipe comes from our cookbook of the month, the deliciously titled In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (Hyperion) by Melissa Clark. Sybil Pratt says "the stories that preface each recipe and chapter burble with her love of food, culinary improv and the memories that a dish conjures up"—and I can see plenty of memories being made over plates of the delectable dish described below. Dig in!
8 strips bacon (8 ounces), halved
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
11 or 12 figs, halved or quartered if large
12 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons vermouth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain, but don’t drain the fat from the skillet. Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for 1 minute or so, until the slices are pale golden. Transfer them to the plate along with the bacon.
2. Rinse the chicken legs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Raise the heat under the skillet to medium-high until the fat begins to smoke, and cook the chicken until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown the other side, about 3 minutes.
3. Scatter the figs and thyme over the chicken and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, and stir the vermouth and lemon juice into the skillet, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom (be careful when touching the skillet handle; it will be hot). Place the skillet over medium heat until the juices thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour the juices over the chicken, garnish with the bacon and garlic, and serve.
Recipe from IN THE KITCHEN WITH A GOOD APPETITE by Melissa Clark, published September 7, 2010 by Hyperion. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold. Photo credit Matthew Benson.
Sometimes it seems like every time I turn around I hear about interactive books, like The Amanda Project, which got a lot of press in the fall.
Now Penguin has launched a new interactive project that fantasy lovers will enjoy:
In the six weeks leading up to the publication of Nightshade (Oct. 19, Philomel), a teen novel by debut author Andrea Cremer, readers can watch one of the main characters come to life in 12 webisodes. The character's name is Shay Doran, and he has jumped off the page to communicate with fans via Facebook posts, blog entries, personalized phone texts and webisodes. The first webisode is now live:
By interacting with Shay, fans have a chance at being written into an official prequel to Nightshade, which will be available for free download the week before the novel is published. Pretty cool, huh?
This may sound like a lot of effort on behalf of a debut author, but online buzz shows that readers are excited about Nightshade; just read its page on Goodreads.
Nightshade is the first in a planned series about a young teenage werewolf girl. Will you check it out? Or interact with Shay?
This February, T.C. Boyle returns with "a socially conscious, richly humane tale regarding the dominion we attempt to exert, for better or worse, over the natural world." When the Killing's Done (Viking) is set off the coast of Santa Barbara, and follows a National Park Service biologist who is trying to keep invasive, non-native species from killing off the island's endangered native creatures. Her task is complicated by a local businessman and his folksinger girlfriend, who don't think that the non-native species should be eliminated.
This isn't Boyle's first foray into environmental fiction: his 2000 novel, A Friend of the Earth [read our review] is set in the future (2025, to be exact) in the wake of a massive species extinction.
Boyle fans should check out our coverage of his backlist on BookPage.com.
Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
NAL Trade • $15.00 • First published in 1992
Waiting to Exhale is about Savannah, Bernadine, Robin and Gloria—four successful black women living in Phoenix and looking for love. When it was published in 1992, it was a huge hit. Terry McMillan's website explains the significance of the novel's reception:
Waiting to Exhale took the publishing world by storm. No one predicted the droves of women and black people who would line the streets hoping to hear Terry read and sign their books. Nobody in main stream publishing got the memo that these were demographics who not only read books, but paid good money too.
Here's an excerpt from Waiting to Exhale—which I would recommend if you haven't already read it: it's funny, lively and a page-turner.
Times have damn sure changed.
And I can't lie. Now I worry. I worry about if and when I'll ever find the right man, if I'll ever be able to exhale. The more I try not to think about it, the more I think about it. This morning, I was drinking a cup of coffee, when it occurred to me that my life is half over. Never in a million years would I have ever believed that I would be thirty-six years old and still childless and single. But here I am.
It's also interesting to read an interview with McMillan about her 2005 novel The Interruption of Everything, in which she reflects on Waiting to Exhale more than a decade after it came out:
"Waiting to Exhale alone, that was 13 years ago! I mean, my goodness, I was in my 30s and the concerns I had then . . . I mean, those women make me sick! They seem like such whiners, except for one," she says. "But the thing was, at that time, there were so many women that I knew, myself included, who looked up and realized, gee whiz, what happened to those husbands we were supposed to be getting? Not only husbands, we didn't even have dates! Back then, it was kind of important because we were in it, but then it kind of came and went. But they don't let you forget! My goodness!"
Ape House, the new novel by Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen, came out today—and I know many of you are pumped: Ape House is BookPage's top fiction pick for September and the movie version of Water for Elephants is due out this spring.
BookPage reviewer Deborah Donovan loved Ape House, praising Gruen's exploration of the "mysterious and emotionally powerful human-animal bond." Here's more on the plot:
[Gruen portrays] a group of six bonobo apes housed in the fictional Great Ape Language Lab in Kansas City and the humans who either come to love them or seek to profit from their surprisingly advanced communication skills.
Anyone had a chance to start Ape House?
Also, if you're interested in bonobos, don't miss Vanessa Woods' Bonobo Handshake, which came out in June.