Tag Archives: Goodreads

So You Want to Be In Publishing

2 Jul

Intern

One of my former interns made this for me on her last day of the internship at the publishing house. Isn’t it so cute? I was really touched. I don’t know that I taught her everything about a career in book publishing, but hopefully I gave her a good foundation.

I thought I’d share a few tips on careers in book publishing and being a businessperson in a creative field:

What’s your favorite piece of advice?

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Two Love Stories Inspired by Jack Kerouac

14 Feb

“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk- real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.” ~Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Happy Valentine’s Day! I just want to take a moment on this sappy holiday to say how thankful I am for each and every one of you who reads my blog, leaves comments, and forwards it to friends. The life of a writer can be quite solitary at times, as we hole ourselves up in a room with our notebook or computer, and I’m so thankful for the community I’ve made through writing, researching, giving readings, and social media. Maybe I’m a big old nerd for spending so much time in front of a computer, but through blogging, I met my coauthor and made friends along the way so that has to count for something!  Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to read and support my writing!!

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day read this weekend, here are two great love stories inspired by On the Road.

 

Beatitude by Larry Closs

 

Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez

Will you be my Valentine?

Salon Wonders: Is “On the Road” a Classic?

3 Feb

salonOh, hey, that’s an ad for my book on Salon!

What makes a book a classic,” wonders Laura Miller in Salon.

Wouldn’t you know it, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road gets a mention, amongst works by Seamus Heaney, Kurt Vonnegut, David Foster Wallace, Daphne du Maurier, P.G. Wodehouse, Toni Morrison, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Alexandre Dumas. Miller writes:

And what about “On the Road” which to the same reader might seem like an incontestable classic at age 17 and sadly or sentimentally jejune at 45?

Her question in regard to Kerouac’s most famous novel raises some questions of its own:

  • Does our definition of “classic” change with our age?
  • Is On the Road definitively insignificant after age 45?
  • Does content matter more than literary style even for the classics?

But let’s go back to the discussion at hand for a moment to build some context. In her article, Miller points to an interesting discussion on Goodreads:

A fascinating Goodreads discussion on this topic shows participants tossing out all the most common defining characteristics of a classic book. It has stood the test of time. It is filled with eternal verities. It captures the essence and flavor of its own age and had a significant effect on that age. It has something important to say. It achieves some form of aesthetic near-perfection. It is “challenging” or innovative in some respect. Scholars and other experts endorse it and study it. It has been included in prestigious series, like the Modern Library, Penguin Classics or the Library of America, and appears on lists of great books. And last but not least, some people define a classic by highly personal criteria.

She also references an essay by an Italian journalist, translated by Patrick Creagh in 1986:

Perhaps the most eloquent consideration of this question is Italo Calvino’s essay, “Why Read the Classics?,” in which he defines a classic as “a book that has never finished saying what it has to say,” among a list of other qualities.

So does On the Road fit these contrived attributes of a classic?

  • Has On the Road stood the test of time?
  • Does On the Road hold eternal truths?
  • Does On the Road capture its era, the 1940s and ‘50s?
  • Did On the Road have a significant effect on the 1950s?
  • Does On the Road have something important to say?
  • Does On the Road achieve some form of aesthetic near-perfection? Side question: Is aesthetic near-perfection something we can define or is it subjective??
  • Is On the Road challenging? Side question: Does challenging mean from a reading-level standpoint? From a philosophical standpoint?
  • Is On the Road innovative?
  • Has On the Road been included in a prestigious literary series?
  • Has On the Road appeared on a list of great books?
  • Does On the Road fit your own personal criteria of classic?
  • Has On the Road ever finished saying what it’s had to say?

Okay, many of these can be objectively answered as “yes.” One can point to numerous sources that show that Kerouac’s road novel rocked the era in which it was published and continues to be discussed by scholars and pop culture alike today. A few seem debatable, but I would argue that anyone knowledgeable of literary history and criticism would agree—from a literary standpoint—that On the Road is innovative (read Burning Furiously Beautiful for in depth analysis of Kerouac’s literary style) and therefore challenging in both style and content. It also speaks to eternal verities (notably the search for it, for meaning) and therefore has something important to say and continues saying it afresh to new readers. The two questions that remain because they are the most subjective are:

  • Does On the Road achieve some form of aesthetic near-perfection?
  • Does On the Road fit your own personal criteria of classic?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on wrestling with these questions. Is On the Road a classic?

One thing that struck me—hard!—when I was reading Miller’s thought-provoking article is that I immediately agreed that David Foster Wallace’s work is a classic, but was put off by J. R. R. Tolkien being included. While this shows my own personal bias, if pressed I would concede that Lord of the Rings is “a classic” but not “a Classic.” It is, after all, fantasy—genre fiction. And in my mind, as in many other people’s mind, there is a distinction, a dividing line in literature. For some reason, I can concur that magical realism can fall under the category of classic but have a more difficult time with fantasy. Yet, if I hold Lord of the Rings up to the same questions as On the Road, I’m hard-pressed to deny it’s a classic. So what is a classic? What standards should we agree to when defining a work as classic? Are there classics and Classics?

And why do Lord of the Rings nerds get a free pass for liking Tolkien well into their adult years while society derides Kerouac as a novel just for teenagers??

Sneak Peek at My Goodreads To-Read List

8 Aug

GraceNotes

If you’ve been following along for a while now, you know I’ve been doing a blog series on Goodreads. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite Goodreads features.

I like that I can keep track of what I’ve read in the past (though I’m sure there are lots I’ve left off), but even better is that I can compile a list of books I want to read. So often I’ll hear about a good book and then forget about if I don’t get to the library or bookstore right away or if another book comes along that I want to read. A couple books on my to-read list right now are:

  • Brian Doyle’s Grace Notes. I heard him speak at the Festival of Faith & Writing in 2012 and loved his mix of humor, sentiment, and humanity.
  • Melinda MoustakisBear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories. I came across her name when she was nominated in 2011 as a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 fiction writer. On the one hand, she’s a young, female, Greek American author so I feel a kindred spirit; on the other hand, she’s from Alaska, which seems more foreign than Greece to me, yet, given my interest in the Lapland, intriguing.
  • Michael SimsThe Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic. My love for literature bloomed when I read Charlotte’s Web, so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. I just haven’t gotten to it yet….

As you can see, I have very eclectic taste.

I’ve found a few books on Goodreads that I’ve added to my list, but mainly the books on my to-read list have come from stories I’ve heard on NPR, mentions on lit blogs, and random encounters with the authors.

Have you ever found a great book on Goodreads? How do you usually find out about books? What should I add to my ever-growing list of to-read books?

Shameless plug alert: If you’re looking for a book to add to your to-read list, perhaps you want to add Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

I Am One in 20 Million

30 Jul

goodreads_logo072413

I just read in Shelf Awareness that Goodreads has reached 20 million readers. While that number itself is impressive, even more astonishing is the fact that in this past year alone they had doubled their numbers.

I joined Goodreads a while back after someone at a Mediabistro party raved about it as a great way to find out about books and connect with others in the publishing industry. What I like about Goodreads more than reading other people’s reviews is connecting with people who have like-minded literary interests. There are groups for people interested in the Beat Generation and for those interested in travel literature, and, although I’ll admit I don’t check in too frequently (so many social media sites, so little time…), I do enjoy connecting with readers and authors on the message boards.

I also have an author’s page up, where readers can find and review the books I’ve written or contributed to. It’s been encouraging to see people put one of the books I’m working on on their to-read list even before the book has been published! It motivates me to make the book worth their time.

If you’re on Goodreads, will you please add my book to your to-read list? Also, if you’re an author, let me know in the comments below how I can find your book to add to my to-read list.

Recap to the Kickoff Party for Mediabistro’s Literary Festival (with links to pics!)

25 Jul

Headed over to mediabistro.com‘s kickoff party for its first-ever Literary Festival last week and had such a wonderful time catching up with friends in the industry and meeting new people! It was great chatting with Carmen Scheidel, who is so knowledgeable about the industry and great at connecting people with mutual interests. (She also happens to rock a great hairstyle!)  She co-hosted the event along with Gretchen Van Esselstyn, whom unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk to this time around but who happens to be the person who turned me on to Goodreads.  I don’t want to embarrass anyone who may be shy about having their names mentioned in a blog, but let’s just say I met designers, memoirists, world travelers, writing instructors, and freelance writers, all of whom had a love for the literary arts.

The party was held over at the Bubble Lounge in Tribeca (228 West Broadway), which had such an intimate atmosphere to it.  It was all exposed brick walls, candle light, and art that transports you to another time.

Ayaz Sayeed captured it all on camera. You can see photos of me here and here.

Goodreads Page for Burning Furiously Beautiful

7 Jun

We’re on Goodreads!  Now you can add Burning Furiously Beautiful as a to-read on Goodreads.