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  • Miwa Messer 7:15 am on 2018/01/22 Permalink
    Tags: , discover great new writers   

    Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections 

    The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program are always on the hunt for the next great read. Our Spring 2018 picks are a mix of novels, memoir, travel writing, women’s studies, and essays.

    We have the perfect recommendation for readers who loved bestsellers like The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer; The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler; A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara; City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg; Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett; The Son, by Philip Meyer; and Stephen King’s It. There’s a memoir here that had more than one of us holding our breath as we read, and another that made us want to move to India. We loved hanging out (on the page) with Brittney Cooper and Morgan Jerkins, and think you will, too. Some of these books are available now, with more landing in February, March, and April.

    We hope you love them as much as we do. (And just wait until you see what we’re working on for Summer 2018…) 

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions, by Mario Giordano
    Part Auntie Mame, part Precious Ramotswe of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Auntie Poldi is our new favorite amateur sleuth. This spunky, breezy, witty story of death and misadventure is terrific fun, a marvelous escape while we wait for summer to return. 

    Brass, by Xehnet Aliu
    We couldn’t stop reading this beautifully told, often very funny, and always big-hearted story of an unforgettable mother and daughter.  We’re not alone in our love for this novel: Sherman Alexie and Celeste Ng are also fans of Xhenet Aliu’s whip-smart prose and sharp insight.

    The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor
    Sticks and stones will break my bones…
    A childhood game gone terribly wrong jumpstarts this creepy thriller that cuts between past and present. Some of our readers were reminded of Stephen King’s classic novel It, others were reminded of Stranger Things, and the rest of us just didn’t sleep for a week. 

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover’s powerful memoir starts as a searing story of growing up off the grid, and becomes an inspirational story of a young woman who saves her own life through her love of books and learning. (P.S. More than one us held our breath while we were reading, waiting to see what happened next.)

    Eloquent Rage, Brittney Cooper
    We can’t get enough of Brittney Cooper’s often hilarious and always laser-sharp observations about feminism, friendship—and rage, which she argues can be used to drive positive social change. In the words of Rebecca Traister (All the Single Ladies), “Brittney Cooper is a national treasure…this book is just so good.”

    Every Other Weekend, by Zulema Renee Summerfield
    It is 1988 and America is full of broken homes. This melancholic, and often very funny, story of life after divorce is narrated by an irresistible young girl. Our booksellers love this unforgettable debut like they love Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rivka Brunt, and Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    But this story begins where others end: a boy and a girl in love, a wedding, a happily-ever-after. This is a magnetic—and provocative—story of love and obsession, and the complexities of marriage; a map of one woman’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual desires, and the decisions those desires inform.

    The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffman
    Our booksellers were reminded of The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, as we read this beautiful, melancholy, smart story of friendship and growing up. The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are so good we’d like nothing more than to keep hanging out with them.

    Heart Berries, by Terese Marie Mailhot
    This memoir by a First Nation woman wowed us. This is an incredible story of survival, of growing up indigenous and mentally ill in a colonial world, told with grace and deep emotional resonance, in a voice that is wildly funny, enraged, and always, always honest. Roxane Gay and Sherman Alexie are fans, too.

    The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara
    Did you love the emotional intensity of A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara? Are you a fan of City on Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg, looking for another side of New York City? Or do you just want to get lost in a heartbreaking story of love and family and home, told in a voice that is witty, angry, tender, and wise? This debut novel set in the world of the Harlem ball scene is for you.

    The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
    If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? This dazzling novel asks big questions about life and death and love and family. If you loved the fantastic novel The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler, as much as we did, you won’t want to miss this incredible story of destiny vs. choice.

    Love, Hate, and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed
    Being a teenager is hard enough, and being torn between worlds really doesn’t help. This timely novel is full of universal themes about parents and school and real life, but it was the novel’s terrific narrative voice that grabbed us—a voice our readers couldn’t get enough of and definitely won’t forget.

    The Milk Lady of Bangalore, by Shoba Narayan
    On a map, it’s a little more than 8,000 miles from New York to Bangalore, but luckily for readers, this charming story covers that distance and more, as the search for a perfect cow—and the friendship between two women that results—turns into an adventure that is fresh, funny, and unforgettable.

    Only Killers and Thieves, by Paul Howarth
    Discover alum and bestselling author Paulette Jiles (Enemy Women and News of the World) loves Paul Howarth’s debut novel as much as the Discover selection committee readers do. This is a classic story of brothers and revenge, injustice and honor that will remind some readers of The Son, by Phillip Meyer.

    This Will Be My Undoing, by Morgan Jerkins
    Morgan Jerkins writes beautifully and with great honesty, covering universal subjects like body image, home and family, faith, and books. Readers who couldn’t get enough of the essay collections Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay, or The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison, won’t want to miss this fabulous debut.

    Tangerine, by Christine Mangan
    With nods to The Talented Mr. Ripley and the gothic novels of Daphne du Maurier, this debut novel set in Tangier, 1956—a city on the verge of revolution—sent shivers down our spines. Isolated and overwhelmed, trapped in a loveless marriage, this is not what Alice expected from her post-collegiate life…

    White Chrysanthemum, by Mary Lynn Bracht
    More than one of our readers stayed awake deep into the night to finish reading this heartbreaking story of two Korean sisters brutally separated by World War Two. This is the best kind of historical fiction: a thought-provoking story brought fully to life by the voices of incredible characters.

    The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn
    Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time. We love puzzling out stories with unreliable narrators. And we’re not the only fans of this twisty, page-turning psychological thriller: bestselling authors Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware, and Louise Penny have nothing but praise for this riveting debut.

    The post Announcing the Discover Great New Writers Spring 2018 Selections appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 5:00 pm on 2017/12/14 Permalink
    Tags: discover great new writers, fire on the track, , roseanne montillo, the wilderness of ruin   

    Barnes & Noble Reads 2017-12-14 17:00:43 

    The booksellers who sit on the selection committee for our Discover Great New Writers program had a blast reading Roseanne Montillo’s Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women—and that includes booksellers who aren’t runners. Like Seabiscuit and The Boys in the Boat, Fire on the Track is an incredible—and timely—read, a perfect combination of well-researched history and inspirational storytelling.

    We asked Roseanne to take readers behind the scenes of Fire on the Track, and this is what she said…

    After watching figure skater Katarina Witt skating to Bolero during the 1988 Calgary games, I quickly signed up for figure skating classes. But I learned just as quickly that an icy surface, an ungainly figure, and a deep hatred for the cold would bring about the end of my short-lived Olympic dreams. Still, I continued to admire athletes: their discipline, their drive to succeed despite hurdles in their ways, and their devotion to hard work. Despite my lack of athletic ability, I identified with those qualities (in my case, those attributes would have to be channeled elsewhere).

    Eagerly, I tried to impart those same objectives to my students. Although most of the classes I taught were geared toward men and women, one in particular (called Love and Eroticism in Western Civilization) was primarily attended by female students. We mostly discussed works with female protagonists and as such, we talked about the issues that women encountered in literature and in life. Our discussions often spilled beyond the classroom; energized by the themes in our books, the students felt at ease speaking with me about gender and sexuality, misogyny in the workplace, poverty, racial bias, illness, abuse.

    Against the backdrop of these weighty conversations, I was also finishing another book, The Wilderness of Ruin. I was then not searching for a new subject, but looking thorough some archival material, some interesting articles caught my eye. One was from 1928, announcing that the Olympic trials would be held in Newark, New Jersey, during the Fourth of July weekend. It appeared that for the first time, the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, would allow female athletes to participate in Track and Field. The excuses for this lack of participation had been many, from the silly to the sinister. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the modern founder of the games, argued that the Games should be, as they had been originally in Greece, a stage solely for the display of male athleticism. Others had feared that the women’s reproductive organs would drop out of their bodies mid-course, disrupting the race; some even suspected the women would morph into men before the audience’s eyes.

    As I read how these young women were being depicted, not so much for their athletic abilities, but because they were women, I was offended. But just as offensive was the fact that these names were completely unknown to me, that they had been forgotten from most Olympic history. There was Helen Filkey alongside Nellie Todd, both from the Chicago contingent; Anne Vrana, from California; Jean Shiley, from Pennsylvania; Elta Cartwright, also from California and already so well known, she had earned the nickname of “Cinder-Elta.” And Betty Robinson, hailing from a Chicago suburb, a young woman who had been running for only a few short months, but of such exceptional abilities that people expected she would win the title.

    The young athletes shared a great deal of optimism, even after overcoming what seemed like insurmountable odds: from parents who wished their daughters would give up on these so-called masculine sports, to male coaches and teammates who hadn’t wanted them on their teams. In a not-so-subtle way, their concerns, expressed nearly a century earlier, reminded me of the same ones my students expressed. I came to admire the athletes for thinking not only about their own individual skills and future prospects, but their understanding that they were part of a team, working together for other young female athletes everywhere.

    Why hadn’t I heard about these athletes before? They had obviously made great strides for women in sports; why hadn’t I, and my students, been exposed to their achievements or their lives as shining examples of what women could do? Digging deeper, I noticed that part of the issue was that male athletes had been given more exposure in general, whether in newspapers or in magazines, and even when female athletes had been featured, they had been judged not on their scores and achievements (and if they were, they were often compared to the men; reporters were quick to point out how women came up short), but on how they looked. Things only got worse once the athletes got to the Olympics.

    Female athletes were appraised on whether they looked feminine enough in shorts and spiked shoes; whether their faces, in the throes of reaching the finish line, made them look too sexually unappealing; whether one of the medals should have been awarded to the athlete who came in fourth, as her blonde hair and pleasing figure would have made her a better Olympic representative. It didn’t take long for me to realize that these debates were still raging today. They weren’t even confined to sports. A college campus, as I discovered, was just as ripe.

    Fire on the Track is the culmination of my research. The book brings to life the personal lives and achievements of the athletes who paved the way not only in sports, but in other areas, too, empowering women with their strength, resolute character, and fearless determination.

    Fire on the Track is available now.

    The post appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Joel Cunningham 6:30 pm on 2017/10/17 Permalink
    Tags: caroline little house revisited, discover great new writers, LHOTP, , prairie home companion   

    Journey Back to the Prairie in Sarah Miller’s Caroline: Little House, Revisited, a Discover Great New Writers Pick 

    True story: When I was a child, I wanted desperately to live on the banks of Plum Creek*. I’m not the only American kid who wanted the Little House life; Roxane Gay felt similarly, she told me in a recent interview for The B&N Podcast. We all raced to read Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen and The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure, both of which brought modern takes to Little House, but Sarah Miller’s Caroline: Little House, Revisted goes back to the original source material, telling the story of Caroline Wilder—wife, mother to Laura and her sisters, and pioneer.

    The booksellers who handpick the books we feature in our Discover Great New Writers program loved Caroline, and so we asked Sarah to take us behind the scenes of the book, and this is what she told us. – Miwa Messer, Director, Discover Great New Writers

    (*I would have settled for a sod house, if my parents had let me.) 

    Sarah Miller

    How did this story start for you, Sarah? What it a character or a particular moment, or something else?
    I like to blame all this on Cherry Jones—she performed the Little House audiobooks, which hit the market while I was working at a children’s bookstore. The owner of the shop tried one out and came back raving about how great it was, so I tried one. And the next…and the next… As I listened, I began to hear more than what I’d read on the pages as a child. The way Cherry Jones voiced Ma’s words, her tone and inflection — as well as my own adult perspective—made me realize how much Laura Ingalls Wilder had left unsaid, especially where her mother was concerned.

    There’s a moment in Little House on Prairie when Pa is a day late returning from a trip to town, 40 miles away. Laura wakes in the night to find Ma sitting in her rocking chair with Pa’s pistol in her lap, keeping vigil for his return. I can still tell you the intersection where I was sitting when I heard that scene and realized for the first time that for all her outward calm, Ma is barely holding it together.

    That woman was my age, I realized, and not only that, it turns out the real Mrs. Ingalls was pregnant with her third child the year her husband decided to pull up stakes and settle the family in Kansas. Can you imagine? From then on, I couldn’t stop wondering what her life had really been like.

    What do you want readers to know about Caroline?
     Once upon a time, I was a bookseller, too. If I were still, I’d be handing this to anyone who loves historical fiction, as well as folks who gravitate toward stories centered around warm family relationships. (Plus every last Laura Ingalls Wilder fan who walks through the door, of course.)

    How have readers responded to your book?
    Feelings for the Little House series run deep — I thought I knew that knew that going in, but even so, I’m amazed by how readily my Caroline is tapping into those emotions. It’s only been a few days, and already I’ve gotten messages on Facebook from readers telling me that returning to the world Laura Ingalls Wilder created is “a gift.” More than one person has said they loved it so much, it brought them to tears — at the beginning. I’d hoped people might cry at the end, but I never anticipated anyone being so moved by the first chapter or two.

    What surprised you most while you were writing Caroline?
    There was a point when I realized that Caroline Ingalls was not as old-fashioned as she seems at first glance. Somehow, without most of us noticing how she did it, she saw to it that all four of her daughters became educated, capable women. Mary went to college. Laura and Grace taught school. Carrie filed her own homestead claim and worked at the De Smet newspaper. All of them seem to have acquired a notion that it was ok to nudge at the boundaries of what was expected of women at the turn of the century.

    What do you love to read?
    I’m naturally drawn to historical fiction, biography, and memoirs. I’ve also got a soft spot for fairy tales retold. Really though, I’m susceptible to all kinds of excellent books. Didn’t think I liked science fiction…until I read The Giver and Ender’s Game. Didn’t think I cared all that much about suspense…until I read Gone Girl and The Fierce Kingdom.

    Is there an author you find yourself recommending again and again?
    Patricia Wood. At my house, we talk about the characters in her novel, Lottery, like they’re family.

     Was there a book that made you realize you were a reader?
    I don’t remember not being a reader. That said, there’s a small voice in my head insisting that I mention Harriet the Spy. I wanted to BE Harriet. That may have been when I realized that the things you read in books can follow you out into your actual life.

    Caroline: Little House, Revisited is available now.

    The post Journey Back to the Prairie in Sarah Miller’s Caroline: Little House, Revisited, a Discover Great New Writers Pick appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Miwa Messer 4:30 pm on 2017/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , discover great new writers, ,   

    Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner 

    “What was Jacob’s father thinking?” That was the first thing the booksellers who read for our Discover Great New Writers program wanted to know as they read Devin Murphy’s The Boat Runner, an assured, ambitious, harrowing debut about personal redemption and the power of love set during World War II. Like All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Nightingale, or The Book Thief, The Boat Runner, a Fall 2017 Discover pick, immerses the reader in the experience of war, in this case from the point of view of a teenager coming of age. Jacob, a privileged fourteen-year-old, enjoys a quiet life with family and friends, in a small Dutch town where much of the community’s life is centered on his father’s factory. As the book opens, no one is thinking of war, including the boy’s father, who naively sends Jacob and his brother to a Hitler Youth Camp in an effort to secure German business for his factory. After war breaks out, The Boat Runner follows Jacob over the course of four years, through the forests of France, the stormy beaches of England, and deep into the secret missions of the German navy, where he is confronted with the moral dilemma that will change his life—and his life’s mission—forever.

    Recently Murphy spoke about his debut with Kate Quinn, whose latest novel, The Alice Network, is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Summer Reading Pick and a USA Today bestseller, and brings together the story of a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and that of an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. Here is their conversation.

    Kate Quinn: First of all, congratulations on your release! The Boat Runner is a terrific read.

    Devin Murphy: Thank you, Kate. I loved The Alice Network, so it’s an honor to talk to you.

    KQ: There are so many books about both World War I and II published today. My novel The Alice Network follows a secret network of women spies working in France during World War I; I was drawn to that story because it hadn’t been told before. The Boat Runner follows Jacob Koopman, a young Dutch boy who is fourteen years old on the eve of World War II—what drew you to tell that story?

    DM: I loved reading your Author’s Note about discovering the story of the Queen of Spies and how that launched you into your novel. My experience started with a set of pictures of boys at a Hitler Youth camp. These boys were exuberantly jumping over bomb fires to show their bravery, playing tug-of-war with gas masks on, and joyfully saluting the Führer. It was the gleeful look on their faces that horrified me. They were having fun. They believed in what they were told. This made me start to think about how brilliantly manipulative these camps were at indoctrinating a whole generation of boys into becoming Blitzkrieg soldiers. Then I found a picture of the German navy’s secret mission to create miniature, one-person submarines. The idea of being alone in the middle of the ocean in a vessel with orders to inflict such great violence made me zoom in on what it would be like to be one of those boys. At that moment, my novel burst to life for me.

    KQ: I understand you have a family connection to this history—your mother was born in occupied Holland in 1942, and your grandfather was an electrical engineer at Phillips who was forced into hiding to avoid conscription by the Germans. Not too dissimilar from Jacob’s father in The Boat Runner, who owns a lightbulb factory in a small village in Holland just across from the mouth of the Ems River in Germany. How did your own family history end up influencing the novel?

    DM: The story of my grandfather in hiding always fascinated me. There were rumors that he’d sought refuge in a monastery, gone to England, or been captured, but no one ever knew for sure. This meant my Oma, while caring for my mother and her three sisters during wartime, had to go out looking for her husband. Imagining the fear and uncertainty they all must have faced each day led me into their story, and I began to write about the deep complexities of life under occupation.

    KQ: What sort of research did you do when writing The Boat Runner?

    DM: I went to large museums and dozens of small veterans’ collections to feel weaponry and clothing, studied in every library within two days’ drive of me, and read philosophy, fairy tales, music, and mythology. I’ve always liked history, but during the writing of this novel for the first time I learned how to do research as a fiction writer. I stopped looking for facts and details to dress up a description, and instead sought out scenes and events that I could hold up and ask, Does this event reveal what it was like to be alive at this moment for my character?

    KQ: I see that you worked at sea for three years, which brought you to more than fifty countries across all seven continents! That’s an amazing background to bring to the world of novel writing. What was your job like? How did that experience influence the writing of The Boat Runner?

    DM: When I was nineteen I took a job as a deckhand on a small tourist boat in Alaska for a summer. I tied lines, painted the decks, and kept night watch. I’d never been at sea before, but loved it right away and realized that working on ships would let me see the world. I worked as a bartender, deckhand, purser, waiter, steward, assistant hotel manager, and cruise director, and eventually worked my way up to being an expedition leader on small vessels that traveled to the most exotic places on earth. Being so far from home for years left me feeling isolated from friends and family. I longed for some form of connection and found it by delving into my family’s history. Now I see that in many ways those years were a search for stories to write.

    KQ: And finally, for readers who turn the last page of The Boat Runner and need something just as good to read, what are your favorite World War II novels?

    DM: Years ago, my wife and I both read, and loved, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. She offhandedly said I could write something like that if I did some research. I took her words as a bit of a challenge, so that book has a special place for me. I also loved City of Thieves, by David Benioff, and classics like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

    The Boat Runner and The Alice Network are available now.

    The post Authors Devin Murphy and Kate Quinn Discuss Research, Family History, and Murphy’s B&N Discover Pick The Boat Runner appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 4:30 pm on 2017/07/31 Permalink
    Tags: , discover great new writers, ,   

    White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women 

    More than one of us cancelled dinner plans so we could finish reading Jardine Libaire’s White Fur, her gorgeous novel about love and obsession set in gritty 1980s New York. This ferocious and seductive—almost hypnotic—story is absolutely unforgettable. We asked Jardine to tell us what she read while she was working on White Fur, and this is what she said:

    “The female protagonist in White Fur is a woman named Elise, and I got fueled to write about her by entering the consciousnesses of other strong and original women, women who didn’t quite do what they were told. I particularly love to read about these women and their worlds in their own words. Whether they all thought of themselves as feminists is less important to me than the monumental power they demonstrate to be who we want, to write what we want, and to love who we want.”

    Here’s the author to share some of these inspiring books

    Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, by Cookie Mueller
    Right out of the gate, Mueller runs on high-test gasoline, defiantly becoming who she is in high school—teased hair and cat eyes, in love with a boy and with a girl—and never looking back. This is a furious life, full of adventures, mishaps, love, drugs, fun, hitchhiking, friends, art, and burning houses. And no apologies.

    Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
    Reading this is like stumbling through someone’s psychedelic notebook after she handed it to you and warned you not to expect answers or epiphanies. You get messy, exquisite life instead. You get the jewels of data that constitute someone’s daily thought experience.

    Dust Tracks on a Road, by Zora Neale Hurston
    I love this book for many things but largely for the joyful dissidence, the imaginative and creative rebellion. Hurston was not going to be what she was told to be, but she was also not going to be anything that had already been established as an alternative. She would be someone else, someone unprecedented.

    M Train, by Patti Smith
    How do you funnel the drive and the heart that goes into being a young wild bohemian rock star into the years that follow? This book is a pocket guide on staying fierce, on creating rituals (like graveyard sessions in other countries, or having brown bread and coffee every single morning) that help a woman maintain a blueprint of untamed living.

    The Letters of Frida Kahlo: Cartas Apasionadas, by Frida Kahlo
    Kahlo has fascinated me since I was young, and I used to be baffled by how she could be so autonomous, so proud, so strong, and also so attached to a man who gave her (what I thought was) less than she deserved. Now I deliberately respect the whole chaotic truth of her life, because it was her life, no one else’s. And it’s my honor and pleasure to read about it in her words.

    The post White FurAuthor Jardine Libaire Shares Her Favorite Autobiographical Books by Rebellious Women appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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