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  • BN Editors 2:00 pm on 2018/07/16 Permalink
    Tags: , bear town, beneath a scarlet sky, cecelia ahern, , , educated, , franklin graham, , guest posts, helen hoang, , mark sullivan, , , , , the gift, , , , therese ann fowler, through my father's eyes,   

    Cottage by the Sea Author Debbie Macomber Shares Her Summer Reading List 

    Filled with memorable characters and set in gorgeous locales, bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s novels about family, friendships, and love, will help even a staycation feel like an escape. And while her stories are perfect for reading any time of the year (her Angel series and Christmas novels are delightful to cozy up with during the holidays), summer is the perfect time to lose yourself one of her lush, heartwarming stories. In her newest novel, Cottage by the Sea, a woman who has experienced great trauma travels to the Pacific Northwest, a place where she has happy memories from childhood, to recover. There she begins building a new life for herself, despite her grief, discovering her own community and even finding romance—until she finds herself at the crossroads of an important and life-defining decision. Ms. Macomber was kind enough to share her own summer reading list with B&N Reads—and it is filled with fascinating stories, from nonfiction to historicals, that are sure to find their way onto your own summer to-be-read pile! Enjoy her ten picks below (and don’t miss her interview with the B&N Podcast here!).

    Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan
    I’m actually half way through this book about an Italian youth working for the resistance in World War II, which I’m finding to be fascinating. It’s based on a true story and compelling reading.

    Through My Father’s Eyes, by Franklin Graham
    With the death of Billy Graham earlier this year I have this book on my bookshelf and am eager to read about the man himself.  I personally attended two of his crusades and am a great admirer of this godly man.

    The Gift, by Cecilia Ahern
    This is actually a Christmas book that I’ve been wanting to read since the holidays.  If I wait much longer it will be the season so I’ve moved it to my “to-be-read” pile.

    The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang
    There’s been quite a bit of industry buzz about this book.  I found the premise intriguing, an autistic woman who is eager to understand what it is to fall in love.

    The High Tide Club, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Her beach reads are something I look forward to each summer season. This story is full of romance, and even has a surprising twist that I did not expect!

    All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin
    It’s a thought provoking and relatable novel that involves complex social issues we face in today’s society. This is definitely one of her best, and who doesn’t love the cobalt blue cover!

    The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
    Many people know Kristin from her book The Nightingale, but this stand alone is just as amazing! The Great Alone is set in Alaska which is wild in nature. This setting mixed with the dysfunction of the family creates a downfall of events. Each dark moment seems to get darker and darker. This story digs deep, and the character development is incredible. Your heart will be intertwined and invested not only with Leni and her parents, but the community who embraces this family.

    Bear Town, by Fredrik Backman
    The tragedies that befall this community and the families there are much like you’d experience in any small town. When you finish this book, you know there is more to this story. I was thrilled to see the follow up Us Against You was just released.

    Educated, by Tara Westover
    This is a truly gripping story about a girl struggling for an education. It pulled at my heart strings as I read through each page. This book is moving and demonstrates the power in someone’s life that an education holds.

    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Ann Fowler
    With her highly anticipated new book coming out this October, A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts, I decided to reread this one.  It was just as good if not better the second time. It takes you back in time to the roaring twenties and the Jazz era. Re-reading this book made me anxious for her next debut.

    Cottage by the Sea is on B&N bookshelves July 17.

    The post <i>Cottage by the Sea</i> Author Debbie Macomber Shares Her Summer Reading List appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 4:00 pm on 2018/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guest posts,   

    “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting 

    “My daughter took her first steps on the day I was diagnosed—a juxtaposition so perfect, so trite, so filled with the tacky artifice of real life that I am generally too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.”

    Journalist Christian Donlon writes about his MS and his daughter’s development with incredible grace and candor in his memoir, The Inward Empire: Mapping the Worlds of Mortality and Fatherhood, a Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection that’s often very funny despite its serious subject. We asked Christian how he keeps his sense of humor in the midst of chaos and pain, and this is what he said:

    My daughter Leontine, who is now almost five, has just discovered jokes. Well, it is a partial discovery at least. She gets the two-part format of many jokes and she gets the social anxiety involved. (I can tell, after she has said the joke’s opener, that she is filled with tension regarding the closer; she understands innately that getting a joke right is a terribly serious business.) But I don’t know if she knows why the jokes she has learned are funny—why it is funny, say, that the way to get Pikachu onto a bus is to poke him on—and she doesn’t understand that a joke is a bit like a firework: it can only go off once with any particular audience.

    The thing is, jokes are hardly essential with a girl like Leon. She has been making me laugh since she was born, it seems. Since she could express herself I got a sense that here was a girl who saw the world in a slightly different way, who would watch most things out of the corner of her eye and find them ridiculous. Ridiculous and strange. Out walking on the way to school recently, my wife and Leon found one of Leon’s name labels long detached from whatever bag or lunchbox it had once been fixed to and blowing around in the wind. “That’s strange?” Leon asked, more for confirmation of her reading of it than anything else. And then: “I love it when things are strange.”

    I think my daughter’s presence in my life probably explains why people sometimes tell me that I have written a funny book, or rather that my book has made them laugh despite themselves. I am always delighted to hear this, even if it was not entirely my intention. On the surface my book is about fairly serious things: it’s about my diagnosis, shortly after my daughter’s birth, with multiple sclerosis, a maddeningly unpredictable and frequently brutal neurological disease in which the protective coatings of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are accidentally shredded by the immune system. When you have MS, people start to describe you as a sufferer, and so I assumed that I had written a sufferer’s book.

    If I haven’t, it’s because of Leon’s influence. Because of my fantastic, unprecedented, bewildering, and glorious daughter who has grown up alongside my disease, and whose explosion of life and new ideas and new cognitive abilities has been a vital pleasure to me as my own mental equipment has started to falter. I have wanted to mope theatrically at times, but it is hard to mope when you have a daughter who wants you to show them how to draw the really hard parts of a pony – always the back hooves—and who finds your moping hilarious anyway. Even at its worst, when I am stuck in bed with sore legs or muddled vision—the sheer range of things that MS can do is baffling—I can hear her elsewhere in our house, arguing with a cat or mis-singing the latest chart songs with a wonderful scatterbrained innocence.

    Practically, I would say two things about all this. Firstly, while I worry about my own diminishing agency as an MS patient who is also a father of a young child, Leon makes it wonderfully clear what my priorities are, and she gives me the humour I think you need to hold onto when you have been dropped into the bewildering world of neurology, where simple things are suddenly not so simple, and when the entire landscape around you can occasionally feel like a Victorian stage magician’s set filled with trick staircases and tilted mirrors.

    Secondly, I was talking with another MS patient the other day and we remarked on the fact that public understanding of this disease has progressed over the last few years from pretty much nothing to an appreciation that MS is a very complicated thing. Then, public understanding has sort of halted, and perhaps people are tempted to look away from MS because complicated things often make them feel foolish and powerless and sad.

    Humour, though, or at least a certain amount of easy wit, or a willingness to admit that some awful things do have undeniably funny aspects, might be a good way to make people look again at a thing they have already decided they don’t want to look at. A sense of humour—often, more specifically, my daughter’s sense of humour—has not just helped me understand my new world a little more, it might allow other people in, too.

     

    The post “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Melissa Albert 2:00 pm on 2018/07/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guest posts,   

    “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting 

    “My daughter took her first steps on the day I was diagnosed—a juxtaposition so perfect, so trite, so filled with the tacky artifice of real life that I am generally too embarrassed to tell anybody about it.”

    Journalist Christian Donlon writes about his MS and his daughter’s development with incredible grace and candor in his memoir, The Inward Empire: Mapping the Wolds of Mortality and Fatherhood, a Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection that’s often very funny despite its serious subject. We asked Christian how he keeps his sense of humor in the midst of chaos and pain, and this is what he said:

    My daughter Leontine, who is now almost five, has just discovered jokes. Well, it is a partial discovery at least. She gets the two-part format of many jokes and she gets the social anxiety involved. (I can tell, after she has said the joke’s opener, that she is filled with tension regarding the closer; she understands innately that getting a joke right is a terribly serious business.) But I don’t know if she knows why the jokes she has learned are funny—why it is funny, say, that the way to get Pikachu onto a bus is to poke him on—and she doesn’t understand that a joke is a bit like a firework: it can only go off once with any particular audience.

    The thing is, jokes are hardly essential with a girl like Leon. She has been making me laugh since she was born, it seems. Since she could express herself I got a sense that here was a girl who saw the world in a slightly different way, who would watch most things out of the corner of her eye and find them ridiculous. Ridiculous and strange. Out walking on the way to school recently, my wife and Leon found one of Leon’s name labels long detached from whatever bag or lunchbox it had once been fixed to and blowing around in the wind. “That’s strange?” Leon asked, more for confirmation of her reading of it than anything else. And then: “I love it when things are strange.”

    I think my daughter’s presence in my life probably explains why people sometimes tell me that I have written a funny book, or rather that my book has made them laugh despite themselves. I am always delighted to hear this, even if it was not entirely my intention. On the surface my book is about fairly serious things: it’s about my diagnosis, shortly after my daughter’s birth, with multiple sclerosis, a maddeningly unpredictable and frequently brutal neurological disease in which the protective coatings of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are accidentally shredded by the immune system. When you have MS, people start to describe you as a sufferer, and so I assumed that I had written a sufferer’s book.

    If I haven’t, it’s because of Leon’s influence. Because of my fantastic, unprecedented, bewildering, and glorious daughter who has grown up alongside my disease, and whose explosion of life and new ideas and new cognitive abilities has been a vital pleasure to me as my own mental equipment has started to falter. I have wanted to mope theatrically at times, but it is hard to mope when you have a daughter who wants you to show them how to draw the really hard parts of a pony – always the back hooves—and who finds your moping hilarious anyway. Even at its worst, when I am stuck in bed with sore legs or muddled vision—the sheer range of things that MS can do is baffling—I can hear her elsewhere in our house, arguing with a cat or mis-singing the latest chart songs with a wonderful scatterbrained innocence.

    Practically, I would say two things about all this. Firstly, while I worry about my own diminishing agency as an MS patient who is also a father of a young child, Leon makes it wonderfully clear what my priorities are, and she gives me the humour I think you need to hold onto when you have been dropped into the bewildering world of neurology, where simple things are suddenly not so simple, and when the entire landscape around you can occasionally feel like a Victorian stage magician’s set filled with trick staircases and tilted mirrors.

    Secondly, I was talking with another MS patient the other day and we remarked on the fact that public understanding of this disease has progressed over the last few years from pretty much nothing to an appreciation that MS is a very complicated thing. Then, public understanding has sort of halted, and perhaps people are tempted to look away from MS because complicated things often make them feel foolish and powerless and sad.

    Humour, though, or at least a certain amount of easy wit, or a willingness to admit that some awful things do have undeniably funny aspects, might be a good way to make people look again at a thing they have already decided they don’t want to look at. A sense of humour—often, more specifically, my daughter’s sense of humour—has not just helped me understand my new world a little more, it might allow other people in, too.

     

    The post “Wonderfully Clear”: Christian Donlon on MS and parenting appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 6:00 pm on 2018/06/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , guest posts   

    Social Creature Author Tara Isabella Burton on the Person She Invented Online 

    Things happen when Lavinia’s around—and while it seems like Louise has no idea what she’s gotten herself into with her new BFF, she knows she’s having the time of her life…

    Tara Isabella Burton’s wild debut novel Social Creature is Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl, creepy in a good way, and highly entertaining in a can’t-stop-reading-way. We asked Tara to take us behind the scenes of her fabulous, noir novel, and this is what she said.

    I post too much on the internet. I am witty (I hope) on Twitter; I wear extravagantly ridiculous vintage clothing on Instagram.

    I do not know how not to do this.

    I grew up, like many bookish and socially awkward and intensely lonely girls of my generation, extremely online. At ten, I was frenetically posting in the “religion and faith” message board on AOL (RIP). By thirteen, I was narrating my urge to live a poetic life on Livejournal: an impassioned diary I kept for a good decade. All of the writers I admired as a young teenager—Oscar Wilde, Anaïs Nin, Djuna Barnes—lived their lives as works of art, and I wanted this, too. The Internet—expansive, as-yet-uncolonized by the capitalist dictates of #influencers and purchasable followers—was the place on which I felt most at home. Maybe I did not, could not, live (as I longed to) in late nineteenth-century Paris, or the speakeasies of the jazz age, but in this kaleidoscope of pixels, I could pretend to.

    The person I invented online—or, more accurately, the person I grew into online—wasn’t just an alternate version of myself: an outright falsehood. She was a genuine extension of the best of myself—I am better, after all, writing words with care than saying them out loud extemporaneously. She was the person I most wanted to be. My online persona was the best of me.

    St. Ignatius of Loyola famously exhorted those struggling with belief to “perform the acts of faith and the faith will come.” For me, my online life was the means by which I, unsure of who I was but sure of who I wanted to be, first flexed the muscles of my being. I performed, not to transform, but to become.

    In writing Social Creature, I didn’t just want to write an outright condemnation of online culture, or of social media, or of the desire to create oneself, to live, as Lavinia says, with MORE POETRY!!! I wanted to capture both the longing—genuine, transformative, and spiritually necessary—to live “poetically”, and how that longing can play out, in a beautiful way, on social media. I wanted, too, to capture the dark side of this: what it means for two women without a strong sense of internal self to try to define themselves through externalities: through clothing, through Instagram likes, through party attendance, and—most importantly—through one another.

    Writing it required me to take a difficult look at myself and the persona I presented to the world, online and off. At the best of times, I am inherently performative—I like telling stories; I like making people laugh: I like having stories to tell. But telling the story of Louise and Lavinia in Social Creature challenged me to ask questions about myself—how reliant am I on the attention, or the adulation, of others? Who would I be if I were not only not extremely online but not online at all?

    The relationship between Lavinia and Louise—by turns romantic and obsessive, but invariably toxic—is the story of two women. But it’s also the story of what it means to learn to be yourself. It’s a lesson I, personally, have not fully learned. But it’s my hope that, through Social Creature, I have—at least—convincingly faked it.

    The post <i>Social Creature</i> Author Tara Isabella Burton on the Person She Invented Online appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Miwa Messer 2:00 pm on 2018/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , guest posts, , , , , , ,   

    The Immortalists Author Chloe Benjamin Shares 5 Slightly Cracked Love Stories 

    If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? Chloe Benjamin’s dazzling novel, The Immortalists, asks big questions about life and death and love and family. If you loved Erika Swyler’s fantastic novel The Book of Speculation as much as we did, you’ll love this incredible story of destiny vs. choice as much as the booksellers who handpick books for our Discover Great New Writers program do.

    And because we love the way Chloe—and her characters—see the world we asked her to riff on the flip-side of Valentine’s Day. So here are her recommendations for ever-so-slightly-cracked-love-stories:

    I’m always game for a good love story—even better if it’s slightly cracked. After all, love stories don’t feel entirely human if they don’t have a sliver of something else: pain, awkwardness, humor, surprise. These reads are proof that forging a bond with another person isn’t for the faint of heart.

    The Book of Strange New Things, by Michel Faber
    When Faber’s novel opens, pastor Peter Leigh is about to leave his wife, Bea, for the mission of a lifetime: he has been chosen to minister to an alien population on a planet called Oasis, which has been newly colonized by humans via a mysterious company called USIC. What follows is a deliciously imaginative and ultimately heartbreaking exploration of morality and faith—as well as the story of the longest long-distance relationship in human history. The Book of Strange New Things has everything I love in a novel: an epic sweep; an atmospheric setting; creative, clever worldbuilding; and characters you remember long after you turn the last page.

    Fire Sermon, by Jamie Quatro
    Quatro’s second book and first novel burns as brightly as its title promises. The story of an affair that begins in the mind and ends in the body, Fire Sermon is an exquisite, raw and often shocking exploration of female desire and embodiment. Quatro fearlessly explores the dynamics that lead Maggie, a Christian and academic, out of her marriage. Fire Sermon is committed to rigorous inquiry: of God, of our partners, but especially of ourselves.

    Euphoria, by Lily King
    Inspired by the extraordinary life and contributions of Margaret Mead, Euphoria follows a trio of anthropologists in 1930s New Guinea. Don’t be fooled: this somewhat academic premise, which becomes gripping in its own right, belies the novel’s steam and electricity. Soon, a love triangle develops between American Nell; her charismatic but combustible husband, Fen; and successful, fragile Andrew Bankson, who comes unexpectedly into their orbit. King brilliantly illuminates the ethical questions that intensify as the trio becomes embedded with the Tam, a fictitious local tribe—and with each other.

    A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro
    The rise of Galentine’s Day has shown us that romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that deserve celebrating this month. A Study in Charlotte, the first novel in Brittany Cavallaro’s Charlotte Holmes series, charts the complicated friendship between the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes and the great-great-great-grandson of John Watson as they solve crimes at boarding school. It’s delicious crossover YA, perfect for teenage girls who are sick of reading about boy geniuses—as well as those navigating the kind of friendships that challenge our definition of the term.

    A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara
    You might have read this one, as it was one of the breakout books of 2015—but if you haven’t, consider it bookmarked. A Little Life might not seem like the kind of book you read in honor of Valentine’s Day; it is, in part, a brutal and horrific look at the legacy of abuse. But it is also an emphatic celebration of the love that sustains Yanagihara’s four central male characters. InA Little Life, friendship is profound and sustaining, sometimes equal to—but ultimately deeper than—any romantic attachment.

    The post The Immortalists Author Chloe Benjamin Shares 5 Slightly Cracked Love Stories appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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