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  • BN Editors 4:00 am on 2020/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: Elizabeth Segran, , guest posts, the rocket years   

    A Survival Kit for the Graduates of 2020 from the Author of The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life 

    Elizabeth Segran, author The Rocket Years joins us to offer helpful advice to new graduates about harnessing their creative energies and using them as a launchpad for the rest of their lives. With humor and a lot of research, Segran’s insightful anecdotes capture all the wisdom you wish you were told and will have you racing to get this into the hands of every twentysomething person you know.

    If you’re a college senior — or happen to have one in your life — congratulations! The last couple of weeks have been rocky and full of disappointments, but you’ve gotten through it. This is not the graduation anyone had in mind, but it doesn’t diminish the incredible accomplishment. Take a moment to celebrate everything you’ve achieved so far.

    Members of the Class of 2020 are coming of age in the midst of a pandemic. I know things look bleak right now, but I believe young people have a lot to look forward to in the years to come. This crisis will eventually pass. And it is this generation that will have the opportunity to pick up the pieces and rebuild the world. They’ll use their talents and passions to launch companies, kickstart social movements, and create the families that will shape the future. During this strange period of self-isolation, they have a moment to pause and ponder what they really want. They can begin charting their course in life.

    I’ve spent a lot of time researching the magical, pivotal post-college decade for my new book, The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch The Rest Of Your Life. Our twenties are the period when we write our own origin stories, figure out who we are and what matters to us, and make crucial decisions. My book lays out the big decisions we confront in these years and provides evidence-based advice about how to navigate them.

    In many ways, this book is the roadmap I wish I’d had as I was muddling through my career and romantic relationships in my twenties. As a millennial, I entered the job market in the wake of the Great Recession. I have a lot of empathy for today’s twentysomethings who are starting their adult lives in another strange, difficult moment in history. But I believe today’s graduates have many reasons to be hopeful about what is in store for them. Here are some insights about what they can do right now to lay the groundwork for their futures.

    • Don’t Give Up on The Dream Job: In the midst of economic uncertainty, it’s easy to give up on a career that aligns with one’s passions and identity. But I urge everyone to keep searching for deeply satisfying work. During recessions, many young people hop between short-term positions and turn to gig work to pay the bills. These can be opportunities to learn what kind of work they enjoy and to build their resume, which can be stepping-stones to that dream job.
    • Deepen Relationships: Our twenties are an important time to build our lifelong network of friends — the people who will support us in the decades to come. Don’t let this period of social distancing derail relationships. It might feel strange to transition from interacting in person to talking over FaceTime, but it’s worth pushing through the awkwardness because this may lay the foundation for a lifelong friendship.
    • Develop Coping Mechanisms: During this incredibly difficult time, it’s crucial to do things that make us happy. It’s a good time to invest in passion projects, whether that’s playing an instrument or knitting or painting. Research shows that hobbies are a fantastic mechanism for coping with stress, so it’s worth focusing on them now. And many young people become more sedentary in their post-college years. Now might be a good time to develop the fitness routines that will last a lifetime. This is a great way to keep both body and mind healthy during this period.

    The post A Survival Kit for the Graduates of 2020 from the Author of <i>The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 4:23 pm on 2020/04/22 Permalink
    Tags: connor knighton, , guest posts, leave only footprints, national parks, ,   

    An Exclusive Guest Post From Conor Knighton, Author of Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey through Every National Park 

    The author of Leave Only Footprints joins us to talk about the inspiration for his ambitious project to travel all of America’s national parks.

    Our national parks have been described as America’s “best idea.” But back when I decided to spend a year exploring them all, I was worried the whole thing might end up being my worst idea.

    At the time, I was recovering from a broken engagement and a broken heart. My friends had told me I could use a change of scenery, but I don’t think they expected me to take their advice quite so literally…

    I gave up my apartment, packed my bags, and set off to visit every national park in the country, from Acadia to Zion. It was the journey of a lifetime—one that I’ve recounted in my new book, Leave Only Footprints.

    When I first sat down to write, I briefly considered grouping my experiences in the parks geographically or chronologically. But what stood out to me most were the thematic threads that tie these wildly different places together. When you look at the Table of Contents, you’ll see chapter titles like “Sound,” “Borders,” and “Home.” Alaska’s remote Kobuk Valley—north of the Arctic Circle—and Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley—twenty miles south of Cleveland—both had lessons to teach me about living off the land (explored in Chapter 19, “Food”).

    At Arizona’s Petrified Forest and Florida’s Dry Tortugas, I found stories of people searching for forgiveness. In the deep blue water of Crater Lake and the murky floodplain of Congaree, I searched for answers to unsolved mysteries. These ancient landscapes opened my eyes to new perspectives on everything from God and love to politics and technology.

    While the parks are full of fascinating history, they also share a fragile future. With Leave Only FootprintsI’ve endeavored to capture what I found so inspiring about these protected places—the common ground we all share.

    Connor Knighton at Canyonlands National Park

    The post An Exclusive Guest Post From Conor Knighton, Author of Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey through Every National Park appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2020/03/16 Permalink
    Tags: , , guest posts   

    An Exclusive Guest Post From Earl Swift, Author of Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island 

    In the summer of 1994 I convinced my editors at the newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, to buy a kayak and let me paddle it in a great circle around the Chesapeake Bay. One breezeless and bright morning, I paddled from my campsite on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and saw the silhouette of a wooded island off to the west, across four or five miles of flat water. My chart identified it as Watts—once home to a fishing village, long since vanished. I decided to have a look.

    Before I was halfway, a rising wind swooped in from the west. The seas sprang to three feet. Two exhausting hours later, I beached the boat and staggered ashore.

    Watts Island was about a mile long, a fat crescent edged in sand, its interior thick with loblolly pine and poison ivy. I walked its beach, detecting no trace of a human past. As I reached its windward side, another island came into view, across another four or five miles of even rougher water. That was my first glimpse of Tangier.

    This is what I saw: steep-roofed houses clustered around the steeple of a church; a rust-streaked water tower hovering above; and just offshore, a dozen small crabbing boats tossing in the storm as their captains pulled up the catch. Most of the island appeared to be treeless marsh. The houses were balanced on the slimmest wafer of green.

    I knew a little about Tangier. Everyone in the Tidewater did. Though only ninety miles from Washington, D.C., it is one of the most isolated communities in the East—marooned from the rest of America by 18 trillion gallons of moody water, so profoundly that its people have their own style of speech, a singsong brogue of stretched vowels, old words, odd rhythms. It was reputed to prefer its solitude. Not that it was easy to visit: Most of the year, the only reliable way on or off was the mailboat out of Crisfield, Maryland, twelve miles away. I’d also heard it was a near-theocracy of old-school Methodists. And it was dry.

    I was sorely tempted to paddle there. But the wind was blowing harder now, and the bay was in chaos. I resolved to visit some other time.

    Five years passed before my editors at The Virginian-Pilot sent me. I was charmed—by its absence of cars, streets no wider than sidewalks, the K-through-12 schoolhouse—and by its utter lack of pretension. This was no postcard-ready New England fishing village. It was a factory town, its industry crabs and oysters. Islanders wasted no time competing for yard of the month.

    The people were hardy, courageous, and uncomplaining. They were also worried.  Their families had lived on Tangier since 1778, sustained by the bay and its bounty. The same water was now poised to erase them. In the time it took for an islander to go from diapers to skippering his own boat, erosion whittled hundreds of acres from their already-tiny home.

    Erosion—that’s what most everyone called it, on and off Tangier. The effects of global warming were plain to scientists in 1999, but they had not yet shouldered their way into the public’s consciousness.

    The newspaper sent me back to ring in the millennium on Tangier—it was a quiet celebration, by the way—and again, islanders spoke to me of the existential threat they faced. I could see there wasn’t much real estate to surrender. High ground was sparse, and  high was relative.

    After that visit, I asked my editors to send me back for a longer stay, and they did. On one memorable afternoon, a crabber took me out to Tangier’s beach to show me where he’d played as a kid. The spot was hundreds of feet offshore. And this had happened fast—he was forty-one years old.

    My stories ran that summer. I planned to go back; I’d met people I liked, and whom I cared about. But other stories came along, and eventually I left the newspaper to write books. The demands of parenting consumed me. I had a yard to mow, bills to pay.

    Over the same years, climate change became a global priority. Sea-level rise entered the lexicon. On the coast in Norfolk, I watched the water climb higher up my yard with each northeaster. I remember one brutal November storm that flooded the city and knocked out my power. As I waded in my basement, struggling to restart the sump pump by flashlight, I had a thought: If things are getting this bad on the mainland, they have to be dire out on Tangier.

    So in the winter of 2015, I finally got around to returning. On the mailboat I sat in the wheelhouse, and on the way kept an eye peeled for Watts Island. We were nearing Tangier when I realized I hadn’t seen it, so, puzzled, I asked the captain where it was. He jabbed a thumb at a knob of land off the port side. It had been easy to miss. It had taken me an hour to walk around Watts in 1994. Now, I could do it in ten minutes.

    A few minutes later we pulled into Tangier’s harbor, and I was horrified to see what fifteen years had done to the place—and what an approaching global disaster looks like.

    Earl Swift is the author of Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island, which is B&N’s Nonfiction Book of the Month for March. 

    The post An Exclusive Guest Post From Earl Swift, Author of <i>Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2020/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: book of the month, , , guest posts, january, ,   

    Guest Post: The Unteachables Author Gordon Korman Shares A Reading List for Unteachable Kids 

    The surprisingly heartwarming story of a classroom filled with misfits, paired with a teacher counting down the days to retirement, Gordon Korman’s hilarious middle grade novel The Unteachables is B&N’s children’s book of the month for January. We asked the author to share a reading list for “unteachable” kids, and he recommended some excellent must-reads for young readers—including a mix of beloved classics and brand new stories.

    The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald
    Okay, it’s pretty old—but so am I! This series proves that you can be a genius and an Unteachable at the same time. 

    New Kid, by Jerry Craft
    Required reading for anyone entering middle school. Also, Jerry Craft and I have been running into each other at book festivals for so long that we qualify as camp buddies at this point.
    (Editor’s note: This title won the 2020 Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award!)

    Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, by John David Anderson
    Just because you’re an Unteachable doesn’t mean you don’t have heart! 

    Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume 
    Believe it or not, I was a fourth-grader around when this came out. It was the first time I really saw myself in the characters of a book. 


    Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
    Thanks to this book, I actually feel deprived because I never wore braces when I was a kid. 

    Heads or Tails, by Jack Gantos
    For my money, the top middle-grade writer of all time. His Jack Henry series is my personal favorite. The characters are as unforgettable as they are Unteachable. 

    Wings of Fire, by Tui Sutherland
    I have never attended a single children’s book festival, with any group of authors, where this series did not receive the loudest cheer of the day. 

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams 
    I get it—it’s not a kids book. But a lot of kids read it. It’s weird. It’s hilarious. It’s out there. It’s worth it. 

    Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz 
    You don’t have to be an Unteachable to believe that a kid can be a secret agent. 

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney 
    Over the years, I’ve ready every book in the series three times—once with each of my kids. I found something new and different to love on each go-through. (Plus I was once a balloon-handler for the Greg Heffley balloon in the Macy’s parade, which was pretty awesome!) 

    The Unteachables is on B&N bookshelves now.

    The post Guest Post: <i>The Unteachables</i> Author Gordon Korman Shares A Reading List for Unteachable Kids appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • BN Editors 3:00 pm on 2020/01/22 Permalink
    Tags: guest posts, , sunnyside plaza   

    The Books We Read as Youngsters Stay with Us: A Guest Post by Scott Simon, Author of Sunnyside Plaza 

    Photo credit: Marcos Galvany

    “Believe me,” I’ve always told my daughters, Elise and Paulina. “The Old Man and the Sea. The Diary of Anne Frank. Those books still bounce in my head. New novels I read last week? I’m already a little sketchy. When we’re young, we pack our minds and hearts for the long trip.”

    A while ago, I mused for the umpteenth occasion over family dinner about the time I’d spent as a young man, working in a home in Chicago for adults with developmental disabilities.

    “First day I walked in,” I’d often told our daughters, “you see people at a folding table, finger-painting. If they were kids, you’d say things I’ve always said about your art. ‘Hey, lookee here, another Picasso! Jackson Pollack!’ But when it’s a fifty-year-old man or woman doing the finger-painting you think, ‘Oh, how sad.’ By the third or fourth day, you’re over your pity. You see them as people. You get to know their humor, talents, the courage it takes to get through the day. I never learned more in my life. Someday, I want to write a novel set in a place like that.”

    “You should make it for kids our age,” our oldest daughter, Elise, finally said one night. “So we’ll remember it, like you always say kids do.”

    Our daughters threw my writer’s hat over the wall. I had to follow.

    I had never written a novel for young readers. But I had loved novels by Jerry Spinelli, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, R.J. Palacio, Jenny Han, Stacy McAnulty, and many others along with our daughters. I had seen how Elise and Paulina immersed themselves into those great books. I wanted a story set in the kind of home in which I’d worked, among people inspired by the ones I had known and hoped it might sink into young readers today.

    I asked Elise, who was then fifteen, and her friend, Adelaide, to be my first readers. Their reactions were crucial. I knew as I began to write Sunnyside Plaza that I would break one of the first “rules” of literature for young readers. The narrator of the story is a nineteen-year-old woman, not a child. Sally Miyake, or Sal Gal, lives in a home for adults with developmental disabilities.

    I knew from our own family how young readers could empathize with someone who had altogether different lives from their own. Our daughters had loved characters like Curzon of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Forge, of a different race and time, and Jerry Spinelli’s Crash, of a different place and personality. But wise editors advised that the central characters in stories for young readers usually, kind of, always had to be a young person, too.

    Yet it was important to me to at least try to ask young readers to connect with Sal Gal through her own heart and mind. I didn’t want to concoct some “adolescent savior” character to guide and learn from Sal Gal. I wanted Sal and her friends in Sunnyside Plaza to entertain and enthrall readers with their own ingenuity.

    I wrote about three-quarters of a first draft. Elise and Adelaide said they liked it. They got a lot of the jokes made by Sal and her friends. They noticed errors in continuity—the shirt that’s blue in chapter three that’s green in chapter six, and that I had given two characters the same name. They suggested a contemporary adolescent profanity to replace the one I had used. They guessed about who might prove to be culprits in the story and told me, “Try not to make your book any longer than The Old Man and the Sea.”

    This is sound advice for any novelist.

    And most of all, Elise and Adelaide registered no surprise or disappointment that Sal Gal wasn’t their age.

    “She’s really interesting,” they told me. “You wonder what she’ll do.”

    I finished my first draft of Sunnyside Plaza and sent it to my young critics. But I included something to read in comparison; three chapters of an “alternative” Sunnyside, in which I made the narrator a fourteen-year old girl who meets Sal Gal.

    I asked Elise and Adelaide which storytelling voice they found most engaging. Within two days they delivered their judgment, writing me from school between classes: “Sal’s point of view is more intriguing. Her point of view is very unique.”

    Who says “unique” shouldn’t be modified? I think their use of the phrase is very uniquely brilliant.

    Our daughters and their friend encouraged me to have Sally Miyake tell her own story in Sunnyside Plaza. Elise, Paulina, and Adelaide helped me have faith that Sal Gal’s unique voice could work its way into the hearts of young readers.

    The post The Books We Read as Youngsters Stay with Us: A Guest Post by Scott Simon, Author of <i>Sunnyside Plaza</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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