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  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: Book Nerds, , read it or i will weep,   

    How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read 

    As Gary Coleman once taught us, it takes different strokes to move this world, and that means that people who love to read must work hand-in-hand with people who regard reading as the worst way to spend any amount of free time. In fact, you might even be close friends with (or related to) someone who never, ever reads a book, which means your relationship is limited by the fact that you can’t talk about books endlessly. In some cases, you can get close if there’s a film or TV adaptation they’ve watched, but it’s not exactly the same thing. The ideal would be to convince them to read your favorite books so you can pull them into your insidious Reading Circle.

    But how can you do that if they regard reading as a chore (as if)? It’s not going to easy, but it can be done. Here’s five steps you can take to convince your non-book nerd friend to read your favorite book.

    Shape Your Pitch
    First of all, know your audience. Why are they so resistant? Do they think Harry Potter is for kids, or do they think any story that incorporates magic is silly? Are they contrarians who just refuse to consider anything that’s popular? Start with their reasons for resisting, and shape your pitch for the book to be the equal and opposite force. If they think stories about boy wizards aren’t worth their time, focus on the depth of the characters and the emotional resonance of their travails. If they refuse to read anything popular, point out how many classics were once wildly popular bestsellers.

    Remove the Pressure
    The hard sell won’t work here. You have to keep in mind that the easiest thing in the world is to not do something, and if you push too hard for your book the non-reader will probably just dig in their heels. And if you do manage to pressure or guilt them into reading the book they’ll do so with a surly, negative attitude, and there’s a real risk they’ll decide they don’t like it just because they resent being pushed into reading it. The key is going to be taking a step back and arguing positively for the book experience instead of trying to force the issue.

    Make a Deal
    You’re asking someone to take it on faith that their time will be well spent on this book, and time is the one thing they’re not making more of. Instead of just imperiously insisting that the book will change their lives and they must read it, start a negotiation and offer to experience something they insist is great but you can’t get excited about. Whether it’s a movie they’ve always insisted you should see, or a lifestyle choice you just don’t understand (ugh, jogging, amiright?), or a night at the opera or something, put it on the table: you’ll do theirs if they do yours. That puts skin in the game and makes it a partnership instead of putting your taste above theirs.

    Find Famous Allies
    If you get the sense they’re simply not taking your arguments seriously, it might be time to find some celebrity endorsements to aid your cause. Think about their favorite musicians, actors, or other famous types and see if you can find some that have publicly endorsed the books in question. This doesn’t have to be internationally famous people, either—maybe there are folks in your social circles that your friend respects and looks up to who could be recruited for the cause. In short, swallow your pride and seek reinforcements.

    Get in There
    Okay, you love this book, so you’ve read it sixty-four times and can quote it at length and frequently have entire conversations that are just quotes from it. If your friend still refuses to read it, it might be because you’ve made it feel like a school assignment. Get in there and make it into a more Book Club feel by offering to re-read the book with them, instantly turning a solitary experience (which might be one reason they don’t like to read in the first place) into a shared experience. If you know other superfans who are just as besotted with the books, recruit them to re-read it too, and meet up on a regular basis (like, over cocktails or a fun dinner) to discuss it, making it into a must-attend social event. That’ll make it something they desperately want to be a part of instead of a chore they want to avoid.

    Finally, accept the outcome. If you try everything in your power to convince them to read that book and they still refuse, back off—it’s not worth ruining a friendship over. And, most importantly, if they do give in and read the book and don’t like it, accept that verdict. They did their part and gave it a chance, and it’s totally legit for them to simply not like it the way you do. Sure, they’re clearly wrong, but that’s their right.

    What book do you constantly try to convince people to read?

    Shop all fiction >

    The post How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 3:30 pm on 2017/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: Book Nerds, cat on a hot tin roof, , , darkness and light, , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Gothic Novel Survival Guide 

    So, you’ve found yourself in the 18th or 19th century, stuck in a gothic—or Southern Gothic!—novel. Surrounded by mysterious settings, dangerous characters and a bit of romance, these novels can prove fatal, but nothing you can’t survive, if you follow these instructions:

    1. First, are you in Europe or America?

    The Gothic genre originated in Medieval Europe with The Castle of Ontranto, the story of a man who undoes his life while trying to prevent a prophecy from coming true (think Macbeth meets Oedipus Rex) while Southern Gothic novels like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil are the American response to the popularity of this genre, and deals with the South’s blood-tainted history as a result of slavery. So, depending on where—and therefore, when— you are, you play by different rules.

    2. If you’re in Europe, figure this out first and foremost: if there’s magic, hide on the sidelines.

    Look, I’m not saying Dracula isn’t kind of sexy (especially the Gary Oldman movie version), but in the Gothic genre, magic and mystery almost always spell death. The people who survive are the ones who don’t get mixed up in it. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, wishing for eternal youth has horrific, murderous consequences when a man decides to trap his youth inside a painting, but ultimately damns his soul. (The servants survive though, so probably best to stick to the downstairs parts of the great, gothic houses.)

    3. Are you a woman? Then decide: villain, or victim?

    There are two types of women in gothic literature. There’s the mysterious, often off-the-page villainess (such as Rebecca, in the classic gothic novel about a woman unraveling the truth about her new husband’s dead first wife) and Jane Eyre (whose romantic anti-hero Rochester keeps his mentally unstable wife locked in an attic until she tries to burn their house down). But there are characters like Jane, who is in many ways a victim of circumstance—an orphan, abused, forced into a life of servitude—and Nelly, in Wuthering Heights, the narrator of the story and servant to the family. She isn’t culpable for the tragedy that ensues as a result of Catherine and Heathcliffe’s romance, but she witnesses it, and lives to tell the tale. As I said before: villains usually have a tragic end, but as far as gothic literature goes, they’re usually the most infamous (and interesting) characters.

    4. If you’re in a Southern Gothic novel, outrun your past—fast.

    In books like The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and plays like Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the characters are obsessed with events that happened in the past that they cannot undo. If your past is haunting you, it can be almost as powerful as the magic present in the European gothic novels. For the characters in The Sound and the Fury, three brothers fixating on what happened to their youngest sister, Caddy, caused the ruin of their entire family; and in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Brick’s inability to confront the truth about his sexuality led to tragedy both for his marriage, and a close friend. If you’re going to survive the Gothic South, either make peace with the past, or invent yourself a new one.

    On second thought, these books may be much more fun to read than they are to live through, but with these steps, you’re primed to make it to the 21st century intact. Unless, of course, I’m one of those gothic villainesses haunting you from the shadows of your past, waiting to take you down.

    What tips would you offer someone who’s just trying to live through a gothic novel?

    The post The Gothic Novel Survival Guide appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 7:00 pm on 2017/08/17 Permalink
    Tags: Book Nerds, ,   

    The Book Nerd’s Guide to the Worst Reading Spots 

    Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. For past guides, click here.  

    There are people in this world who are prone to falling asleep just about anywhere, anytime. There is a term for their condition: narcolepsy.

    To my knowledge, there is no term for the chronic condition for which I exhibit symptoms: the tendency to begin reading wherever and whenever, with little regard for situational awareness. I’m sure there’s a German word for the underlying feeling of this book compulsion. There always is. That said, some places are better suited than others for hosting bookworms for extended periods of times. And some reading places, well, they downright suck.

    The Last Table in the Coffee Shop
    As far as reading nooks go, your favorite coffeehouse is pretty much the holy grail. It smells wonderful. There are caffeinated things along with pastries. People tend to be more absorbed in their own worlds and less likely to start book-interrupting conversations with you. And the seating tends toward individual over communal. Basically it’s your house, but with better stuff: you get to feel as if you’re engaging with the world without having to interact with it fully.

    But the worst thing about coffee shops is also the best: they are so good for long-term stationary pursuits that nobody wants to leave, ever. Once the cozy armchairs are taken, they’re dead to you for hours. It’s not like vultures leave prime meat just lying around. For latecomers, all that tends to be left is the table nobody wants. Either it’s directly in the sun on a 100-degree day, or it’s stuffed into the darkest corner, or one leg is several inches shorter than the others, or the last person who sat in the chair died.

    It’s not where you want to be.

    In the seminal Gilmore Girls episode “An Affair to Remember,” plucky and neurotic Rory Gilmore is on edge, this time because her roommates are driving her bonkers and she needs to find a place to study. Hither and thither she goes, trying to find the perfect study spot, forced to wander constantly because of noise or drama or Sookie’s thousands of mini-quiches.

    Finally, she finds the perfect tree on the Yale campus. It’s her tree, perfectly shady and quiet. And then some ruffian ruins everything by claiming the spot the next day.

    This is how most of my attempts to read in nature go. Inevitably, there’s one tree or one shaded spot that’s perfect, but taken, and I wind up accidentally sitting on an ant pile or under a bird bathroom.

    Your Desk
    Who among us has not spent a few hundred lunch breaks hunched over a novel and our sad desk lunch? The problem, of course, is that your workspace at your job is no safe space: you’re fair game for passing coworkers or the incessant pinging of your email. It’s hard to even get through a chapter, especially if one of your hands is occupied with a sandwich. And we haven’t even mentioned the harsh glare of the fluorescent lights overhead. Not only do they make your skin look wan and deathly, they make the small text of a mass market paperback all but indistinguishable from hieroglyphics for everyone not blessed with 20/15 eyesight.

    A Treadmill
    I have the natural grace and poise of a platypus on roller skates. Coordination is not a specialty. Treadmills and other gym equipment tend to require balance and functional motor skills. For me, at least, little of that is possible without concentration. I do find the gym boring, so I’m always tempted to bring a book to prop up on the treadmill or the elliptical machine. But then there’s that pesky coordination and concentration business. I can’t focus on the book and on my legs at the same time, so I either sprain an ankle or have a terrible reading experience. Really, it’s a tough choice.

    The post The Book Nerd’s Guide to the Worst Reading Spots appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 7:00 pm on 2017/08/03 Permalink
    Tags: Book Nerds, ,   

    The Book Nerd’s Guide to the Lies I Have Told 

    Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. For past guides, click here.  

    Forgive me, dear reader, for I have sinned. Many times. Many, many times. I have told many untruths, spread many falsehoods, been overall dishonest about that which I consider so sacred: books.

    It is not with malice that I have committed these misdeeds. On the contrary, most often, they have been intended to shield others from harm or disappointment, or to preserve the credentials I alone believe I possess.

    To atone, I present just some of the myriad lies I have told to perfectly ordinary strangers, to beloved friends and family, and to more than one presumptive coworker. For context, I have added the truths they hide.

    “I’ve never read it all the way through, but I’ve read parts.”
    I have never read that book, but I have seen it mentioned on many best-of lists, and I feel more than slightly ashamed that I haven’t read it. None of this has compelled me to pick up the book, but I have read its cover blurb several times as I’ve added it to then removed it from my online shopping basket.

    “I love [insert author]!”
    Ah, yes, that author is either trendy or beloved and their works have languished in various to-read lists I have compiled and left for dead. I have no idea if I’ll ever read their books, or if I’ll appreciate them, but I recently read a think piece they published that I agreed with, and I follow them on Twitter.

    “Oh, me? I read just about everything.”
    I read several genres, but there are just as many that I either can’t stand or have no interest in determining whether I can stand. I am afraid of alienating you, however, so I’m going to make a blanket statement that is true of virtually no one. Now, please throw out a handful of authors, and I will proceed to tell you if I’ve ever read any of their books. (But see point one: I might lie.)

    “The book was way better than the movie.”
    I have never read the book this movie is based on. Even though I greatly enjoyed this movie, I feel safe enough, after years of similar experiences, in saying the written work is better, even though there is a good chance I will never confirm this sentiment.

    “I don’t know where my copy is. I must have loaned it out.”
    I know where every copy of every book I own resides. They do not leave my house because I trust no one, and I am not about to make an exception for you, no matter how responsible you seem. I have examined your behavior over the last several months and have identified at least three flaws, which I’ve promptly exaggerated in my head and categorized as full-blown psychoses.

    The post The Book Nerd’s Guide to the Lies I Have Told appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 1:00 pm on 2017/07/27 Permalink
    Tags: Book Nerds,   

    7 Ways to Secretly Read on The Job 

    Employers can be so unreasonable; just because they pay you life-sustaining money they think you should devote a full eight hours a day to their needs. But what about your needs? Every week, incredible new books are being published—they talk about Peak TV, but we’ve been living in an era of Peak Book for decades now, and the flood of excellence isn’t slowing down. Even worse, we all know that every job has that dreaded phenomenon of Down Time, periods when you just don’t have much to do, which leads to the equally disturbing phenomenon of Looking Busy. It’s not your fault you’re so good at your job you’re done by 2PM every day—why can’t you read a little until the next assignment?

    Well, you can—if you’re a little creative about it. In fact, using the following 7 tips, we’re willing to bet a few people are reading in your office right now. Here’s how you can get in on this.

    Restroom Reading Room
    If your desk isn’t private enough, you might need to create a retreat for a little reading. Even the most draconian offices still allow employees to go to the bathroom, so stashing a few books in there means you can take several 5-minute reading breaks over the course of the day without being noticed. The atmosphere may not be the best, and if you overdo it people will start to wonder what is physically wrong with you that requires 16 bathroom breaks in the morning alone, but at least you’re burning through that new thriller.

    Audiobooks for the Win
    Plenty of people put in some earbuds and play tunes while working—why not listen to audiobooks instead? If your job is the sort of mindless drudgery that only requires a percentage of your actual attention, listening to a trained voice actor purr and emote their way through a great story will make your workday fly by, and no one needs to know what you’re actually listening to.

    The Secret Conference Room Book Club
    In all things, it takes a village. You probably aren’t the only person on the job who wishes very much that they could read more without risking their paycheck, so band together and pool resources. Reserve a conference room for an hour every day, give your meeting a project code name, and gather with your books, NOOKs, or smartphones and get to reading. If anyone notices you’re away from your desk, it’ll be obvious you’re “in a meeting.”

    Find a Job That Pays You to Read
    Of course, despite your most creative efforts you might be thwarted in your desire to read more on the job—so why not make your job reading? It won’t be easy, but it’s possible, because such jobs do exist. For one, you could find work as a book reviewer for blogs, websites, or print publications (which has the extra bonus of free books). For another, you could become what’s known as a “freelance reader,” which is where literary agents and publishers pay you to read manuscripts and offer succinct reviews as to whether they’re worth pursuing. Is it worth re-jiggering your whole career to get paid to read? Obviously.

    Now that you have a solid strategy for reading more on the job, you can double your reading list for the year! Did we miss any strategies to increase your reading time?

    The post 7 Ways to Secretly Read on The Job appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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