June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Best of 2012

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , at 2:51 pm by The Word Jar

I’ll admit it. I cannot keep up with the Literary Joneses. I will never in my lifetime finish my “to read” list, yet I add to it almost daily. I add old books; I add new books. I read old books; I read new books. Yet I can’t seem to get my act together enough to read the “it” books when everyone else does. Case in point: I added The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern to the list when I heard about it during BEA 2011, and I’m just now getting around to reading it. Not that I haven’t been salivating to read it all year, it’s just that other books, equally saliva-inducing, pop up, too. With this disclosure, I offer up my list of the Best of 2012, in no particular order and with no particular guarantee that they will be read anytime soon.

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon–This is the only 2012 book I’ve read so far, and it wouldn’t matter what year it was published in, this would make the list. A collection of ethereal dream-like short stories. Simply entrancing.

The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker by Janet Groth–A tell-all from a receptionist at the New Yorker? I think this sounds better than any Real Housewives of [Fill in the City]. But that’s how this bookworm rolls.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson–A memoir by The Bloggess must be required reading for bloggers, right? I’ve only heard great things about this one, but even if it doesn’t live up to expectations, how can you not love that cover?

What I Did by Christopher Wakling–A story about a little boy who runs into a busy street and the consequences of that action, told from the boy’s POV.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz–I read part of one of the stories in this collection in the BEA Buzz Books from Publishers Lunch (via NetGalley), and the voice was fantastic. With a line like “she treats me like I ate somebody’s favorite kid,” I’m in.

Be sure to let me know what you’ve loved or what you’re looking forward to this year. I’ll be stopping by other Armchair BEA blogs, but the more suggestions, the merrier.

June 4, 2012

Let the Armchair BEA-ing begin!

Posted in Interviews tagged , , , , at 6:15 pm by The Word Jar

Welcome, fellow Armchair BEA-ers, to The Word Jar!

If you happened to land on my blog and you aren’t an Armchair BEA-er, let me explain. In NYC this week there is a wonderful event called BookExpo America, celebrating (and promoting) all things books. BEA is a convention of publishers, authors, reviewers, book industry gurus, and other book lovers. Alas, not everyone can make it to New York for a week, so Armchair BEA was created to help more people participate and catch up on the industry goings-on this week.

Today, we Armchair BEA-ers are to introduce ourselves to everyone else, so let the games begin! (It really feels like I should add, “May the odds be ever in your favor!” at this point, but perhaps that’s a bit much.)

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
My name is Jessica, and I’ve been blogging since 2009. But I’m horribly inconsistent. I can go months without posting (not that I’m not thinking of and writing posts constantly). My problem is that I’m an editor by trade, so I tend to revise an entry to death before I post it. That process becomes lengthy and disheartening, and then I just end up not posting anything. I got into blogging because I wanted a place to post some book reviews and discuss wordy subjects and publishing trends. But instead of being a good poster on my site, I get caught up in commenting on other blogs. It’s just so much easier to compose a short comment than write up a whole meaningful post.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?
I’m currently reading The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m a bit surprised by how much I’m enjoying The Flame Alphabet. My least favorite English course in college was Contemporary Literature. And I have looked forward to reading The Night Circus since BEA 2011. My reading list is kind of long. As for my favorite book of 2012 so far, that would be Stay Awake by Dan Chaon. Fascinating short stories.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.
I’m not only a book nerd, I’m also a golf nerd. I competed in a national junior golf tournament when I was 11. I took sixth place. Please, hold your applause.

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
I really should say that it’s my post about Ghost Burglar (the book I’m currently editing and promoting), but I really enjoy my hard-hitting exposé on house centipedes.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?
I’d have to choose Ernest Hemingway in Havana. He’d have some interesting tales to tell, and I’d love a good Cuban sandwich right about now. Or we could also rendezvous in Key West. He has a pretty awesome house there, and anything made with a key lime is fine by me.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve learned a little about me, and I look forward to visiting other Armchair BEA-ers and learning more about them. Happy BEA!

May 30, 2011

Get Out Your TBR List: Big Books at BEA 2011

Posted in Book Talk, Publishing tagged , , , , , at 10:48 am by The Word Jar

Last week Publishers Weekly ran an excellent article highlighting the books getting the most buzz at BEA. They interviewed several booksellers from independent bookstores around the country to see what upcoming titles they can’t wait to recommend to their customers.

Two of the titles I’m most intrigued by from that list are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. The Night Circus centers around two magicians in a mysterious circus who are in competition, as well as falling in love, with each other. I was already looking forward to this book after reading the publisher’s description, but then I found this mesmerizing book trailer. I could watch it over and over and over.

Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is actually next up on my reading list. This novel is told in the voice of a retired surgeon, Dr. Jennifer White, who is succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Dr. White turns out to be a person of interest when her best friend is murdered, but she has no memory of the incident. Memory, or lack thereof, must be a trend in books right now, because Turn of Mind is one of four books on my reading list that deals with amnesia or Alzheimer’s (the other books being The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty).

As if all of these suggestions weren’t enough, to further add to your reading list the New York Times offers their best bets for beach reads in “Books to Bury Yourself In.”

If you can’t find anything worthwhile to read from these suggestions, you need your library card revoked.

(Of course these lists are enough to keep me in books up to my eyeballs all summer, but I’m always on the lookout for other recommendations. So, I get to keep my library card and still ask, “What books are on your list for the summer?”)

May 24, 2011

BEA Starts Today

Posted in Events, Publishing tagged , , , , at 3:12 pm by The Word Jar

Shh….listen! Do you hear the chatter of the booksellers about the latest bestsellers and upcoming must-read titles? Do you hear the scratching of the authors’ pens as they sign the books that cost them their blood, sweat, and tears to write? Do you hear the hand-wringing of the publishing folks over the latest trends in technology and how they affect the printed book? Now take a deep breath…can you smell the books?

No? Then you must not be in NYC for BookExpo America.

Unfortunately, neither am I. But plenty of publishing people are, and they are celebrating all things “book” right now at the 2011 BEA. Technically it kicked off yesterday with the Big Ideas at BEA Conference and other forums, but today is the day the exhibit hall opens and the author panels take place. Row upon glorious row of publisher booths showcasing their upcoming titles, with a few advance copies to hand out as well. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll get lightheaded.

In addition to the main event, the Book Blogger Convention will be held this Friday after BEA winds down. This convention is “intended to provide support, instruction, and social time for people who blog about books.” It doesn’t get much more wonderful than that!

A week of previewing new titles, meeting authors, learning about the latest publishing trends, and gathering bags of books…that’s the stuff of dreams! For now I’ll content myself with following the action through @BookExpoAmerica and any other updates I can find. And as always, there’s the never consoling consolation….there’s always next year!

Is anyone lucky enough to be at BEA this year? Will you be attending the Book Blogger Convention?