Book Riot Live

Unveiling the Book Riot Live Interview

We invited our speakers to tell us a little bit more about themselves in a brief interview, and the answers have started coming in. We can now report that of responding speakers, the majority are very open in their peanut butter preferences, but split down the middle on writing style. Who is the peanut butter hater? Find out here. Don’t have your tickets yet? Get them for $20 off!

peanut butter survey says plot survey says


The Goods

Limited Edition TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Tees!

Atticus told Scout to delete the adjectives and she’d have the facts, so we’ll skip the “awesome” and “rad” this time around and give you just the facts too. Our new limited-edition tees inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird are here, and they are truly limited-run. Get one before they’re gone.


And don’t forget! The next Book Mail boxes will ship out in September. See the contents of previous boxes and join the waiting lists now.

book mail revealed collage email

Book Riot Live

First Look at the Schedule, Last Chance for VIP Tickets

This week is full of Book Riot Live action. We’ve revealed our first batch of panels, and what a fine bunch they are! We’ve got live podcasts and discussions about humor, writing craft, making change, and more. And today is your last shot at VIP tickets. If you haven’t gotten your ticket yet, GO FORTH — you have through midnight tonight, August 31, to grab the VIP passes with all their lovely perks (including first crack at RSVPs to limited-seating panels), and you can get $20 off on top of that using code BOOKNERD.

Book Riot Live: You Want It, We've Got It

This Week In Books

Campaign to Save Langston Hughes’ Home: This Week in Books

Baton Rouge School Library Destroyed in Historic Floods

There are many heart-breaking, jaw-dropping stories coming out of Louisiana in the wake of recent destructive flooding there. As is often the case in these kinds of situations, there is destruction of many kinds and help needed in many ways.

Glen Oaks Elementary lost its entire library collection. The school librarian there, Trey Veazy, is asking for donations to help refill the shelves for the new school year. They’ve set up an Amazon wishlist and are open to receiving mailed books as well:

Glen Oaks Park Elementary School
Attn: Trey Veazey
2401 72nd Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70807


Drive to Turn Langston Hughes Home into Cultural Center

The brownstone where Langston Hughes lived the last decades of his life is a national historic landmark, but that doesn’t mean it is insulated from a still-gentrifying real estate market in Harlem. Worried that his house would be turned into high-end condos, Rene Watson, director of the I, Too, Arts Collective, decided to try to do something about it.

After speaking with the owner of the building, she has launched a fund-raising drive to turn the the townhouse into a cultural center for the neighborhood. Under a lease agreement, the center would renovate and outfit the building for public use and sign an initial three-year agreement. The drive’s goal in $150,000 and there are a few days left in the campaign.


Penguin Random House Opens “Penguin Shop”

Penguin Random House Canada is opening a small (158 square feet, small) store on the first floor of its Toronto office tower. Featuring Penguin-branded merchandise and a rotating selection of about 300 titles, PRH Canada imagines the store as part reader-engagement and part R&D lab.

The store’s concept seems to me part and parcel of other company stores located in corporate buildings (the NBC store in Rockefeller Center comes immediately to mind). These outlets are there to sell stuff, to be sure, but as much as anything they are about establishing a brand and identity. And in publishing, Penguin’s iconic logo and classics series comes just about as close to a real consumer brand as exists.

There are always more books that need buying, so we have another $100 of spending money on Amazon to giveaway. Go here to enter, or just click the image below…



New Books

Ominous Office Ordeals, Young Love in Georgia, and More New Books!

Well, August, it’s been fun. I’m sad to see you go. But the arrival of fall means BFB: big fall books!  On this week’s episode of the All the Books! Rebecca and I talked about some of the books coming out in the last half of 2016 that we are excited about, including I’m Judging You, The Mothers, and Children of the New World. As for this, the second-to-last day in August, it’s exciting because the sequel to An Ember in the AshesA Torch Against the Night, is finally here! And there are these other books I’m going to tell you about it 3…2…1…

portugalThis week’s newsletter is sponsored by Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa.

Comics creator Simon Muchat is struggling to find purpose in his existence. Bitter and apathetic towards everything, he gets a chance to travel to Portugal where the roots of his family lie. After an absence of more than 20 years Simon finds himself rediscovering the sounds and smells of his childhood, the radiant warmth of something forgotten. Having soaked up the atmosphere of his fatherland, and driven by the desire to find out the secret behind his family name, Simon sets on a melancholic quest for identity that helps him rediscover his passion for life.

georgia peachesGeorgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for most of her years in high school. But when her radio evangelist father moves the family to Rome, Georgia, he asks her something unfair: lay low in her new school and pretend to be straight. Though she reluctantly promises, that agreement is tested when she meets Mary, the friend of a sister. This is a fabulous read! It’s a smart, sexy, funny book at queerness and teens and religion, and a refreshing take on what it means to be yourself. More, please.

Backlist bump: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

the nixThe Nix by Nathan Hill

One of the year’s biggest debuts, both literally and figuratively, The Nix is a sprawling, funny (and sad) story about the relationship between a college professor and his mother. Samuel hasn’t seen his radical hippie mother since he was a young boy, but when she shows up in his life, asking for help, he decides to give it to her. Helping her means revisiting both their pasts, and learning things about his mother and himself he never realized. If you love big, occasionally self-indulgent literary fiction (and I mean that in a good way), this is perfect for you!

Backlist bump: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

tell me something realTell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin

At first you think this is a novel about three beautiful sisters helping their sick mother as she is treated for cancer, narrated by the middle sister. BUT THEN IT TURNS INTO SOMETHING ELSE. Explaining it would give it away, so let me just say: READ IT, READ IT, READ IT! This book is another example, like A.S. King novels, where I feel books shouldn’t be labeled as ‘young adult’ but ‘books for humans’ instead. PS – Don’t forget tissues.

Backlist bump: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

the subsidiaryThe Subsidiary by Matías Celedón (author), Samuel Ritter (translator)

When the subsidiary offices of a major company suddenly lose power, the employees are locked inside. But a loud speaker message inexplicably tells them to keep working in the total darkness. One worker uses his rubber stamp to keep a record of the ordeal and the horrors that occur as the days go on and no one comes to rescue them. The book itself is told with a stamp, a clever gimmick. I read that Celedón hand-designed this book with a stamp he bought in a bookstore, but I don’t know if it gave him the idea, or if he bought it to bring the idea to life. I’m soooooo curious!

Backlist bump: Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra (author), Megan McDowell (translator)

YAY, BOOKS! That’s it for me today – time to get back to reading! If you want to learn more about books (and see lots of pictures of my cats, Millay and Steinbeck), or tell me about books you’re reading, you can find me on Twitter at MissLiberty, on Instagram at FranzenComesAlive, or Litsy under ‘Liberty’!

Stay rad!



Audiobooks!: August 25, 2016

Truly Madly GuiltyThis week’s Audiobooks! newsletter is sponsored by Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty.

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? In Truly Madly Guilty, #1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm. This can’t miss audiobook is read by Caroline Lee.

Hello, bookworms! I’ve been all over the map with my listening this summer, and it’s gotten me thinking about the interplay between story and narrator. I’ve abandoned several great stories with ho hum narrators, as well as ho hum stories with great narrators. But then sometimes you hit the jackpot with a spectacular book read by a spectacular narrator, like Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers, read by Prentice Onayemi.

In Behold the Dreamers, it’s 2008 and Jende and Neni have immigrated to New York from Cameroon to grab their little piece of the American dream. Jende gets work as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, and Neni is in night school to become a pharmacist. As Jende and Neni watch Clark’s work and home life start to crack, so too does their idea of what it means to be an American.

As narrator, Prentice Onayemi shows a fantastic range that’s so necessary for this book, seamlessly shifting from Cameroonian chauffeur to wealthy financial executive; Eastern European housekeeper to trust fund hippie; Harlem mother to white church lady. Onayemi nails it, and I’m so excited to listen to more of his work. (I hear AnotherBrooklynhe kills on The Sellout.)

Speaking of spectacular books read by spectacular narrators, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn promises to be another jackpot listen. It’s her first adult novel in 20 years, and this excerpt read by Robin Miles is amazing.

15 Audiobooks That Will Transport You Around the World

VegetarianA few weeks ago we had a little chat here about the need for diverse voices on audiobooks. Listening to different accents, rhythms, music, and soundscapes is such an excellent way to become immersed in someone else’s world. Jamie at Book Riot has rounded up 15 books that do just that — from Mexico to Australia, Nigeria to Korea, these stellar authors and narrators will transport you all over the globe.

Your Brain Doesn’t Get Any Gold Stars for Reading Print Instead of Audio

african female university student listening to music“I’ve been asked this question a lot and I hate it,” writes University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Willingham about whether or not listening to audiobooks is “cheating.” In a fascinating blog post, he unpacks this idea of “cheating” itself: it assumes that the listener got some reward without putting in enough effort. He goes on to explain why, from a cognitive perspective, there’s no real difference in the work it takes to read a book versus listen to it once you become an adult.

Dr. Willingham describes the two basic processes involved in reading: “decoding” (interpreting strings of letters as words that have meaning), and “comprehension” (understanding the context and story). Researchers have known for years that reading comprehension and listening comprehension are highly correlated. The decoding process, on the other hand, is specific to reading print, and is, in fact, an extra step for your brain. But by the time you’re around 10 years old, decoding has become so second-nature that it’s essentially automatic and isn’t any extra “work.”

For more on the science behind why your brain doesn’t get any gold stars for skipping audio, check out this great piece by Melissa Dahl at New York Magazine.

Things You Can Do While Listening to Audiobooks

Scooping the cat litter, drowning out office gossip, repairing fences, showering, playing Pokemon Go — these are just a few of the excuses we’ve found to squeeze in a bit more listening! Sarah D. asked everyone at Book Riot what we do while listening to audiobooks, and she’s put the answers together in a handy rundown. Here’s what we do while listening, what about you?

What's Up in YA

YA Literature’s (Not So) Harmful Impact on Readers

Good end-of-August, YA lovers!

harmony coverThis week’s “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter is sponsored by Harmony from Europe Comics.

One day, Harmony wakes up in an unfamiliar basement having completely lost her memory. All she now knows of the world is the name of her “host,” the mysterious voices in her head and a newly discovered talent for telekinesis. She’s going to have to get her memory back pretty quickly in order to face the dangers that await her. There are so many unanswered questions, and the fight has only just begun…


I know what you’re thinking: she’s going to write about that terrible YA article this week! And you’re right. I am.

But not in the way that you’re expecting.

Instead, let’s talk about what makes literature important, what makes literature leave and impact, and what it is, as a whole, that makes some books “more important” than others.

I’ve pondered before what a YA canon might look like. What are the books which are so important in the YA world that we’ll be reading them forever? That we’ll consider them foundational books in the YA world? What are the books which the teenagers of the next generations will not only read, but will also potentially study in their high school or college classrooms and dissect, seeking out the meaning behind an author’s choice of giving their characters red shoes and green eyes?

Let’s take this a little bit further. We know what books are considered essential, important, and “literary” works — they’re the classics, the bulk of which are written by white guys in history who had the time, the money, the luxury, and the status to write and be published well. Not all of the books we know as part of the canon now were seen that way during their publication, just as there are plenty of books that were wildly popular throughout history that have been forgotten completely.

But those books, regardless of their status as classics in the canon, still left a tremendous impact on culture during the time, as well as long after.

Have you ever heard of the book Trilby by George du Maurier? Published in 1894 in Harper’s Monthly, it was a wildly popular story that sold hundreds of thousands of copies in the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if your initial reaction is never having heard of it. Regardless of being a runaway bestseller in the US and abroad at the turn of the century, it’s a book that is difficult to track down now, as well as a book that’s not read or considered part of the literary canon. It’s not one you’ll likely find in your public library (though it is available in some).

I’ve referenced that book before, and I reference it here again because the power of the book hasn’t left our culture, despite the book itself not being part of the classics/canon. You’ve heard of Svengali, right? If you grew up in a certain era in the Midwest, especially in the Chicago area, you might be familiar with the hosted horror show Svengoolie.  

The lineage of both Svengali and Svengoolie can be traced back to Trilby. (There is, of course, a lot to be said here about the antisemitism of this character, but for the purposes of this newsletter, know that that’s a thing).

It doesn’t end there, though. Surely, you’ve heard of the trilby hat? That, too, can be traced back to Du Maurier’s novel, and it was one of the popular fashion trends for men in the UK; it’s still in production and seen throughout the world even today.

Oh, and Trilby has been credited as a major inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera.

If a book has this much cultural power, even more than a century after its publication, how come it isn’t something we’re studying more closely in literary circles or in our literature courses?

Because sometimes, the power of a book isn’t in its longevity or in its power to be part of the elite “literary canon.”

Sometimes the power is in the cultural impact a book has when it’s published, as well as long afterward.

Where Nutt uses his platform to talk about how today’s teens — especially boys — are being harmed by popular YA literature, what he’s getting at is that he is worried about his place in the literary world as a white guy. While YA isn’t great at being inclusive, the calls for it to become more aware of these faults and fix them is a huge aspect of the YA world right now. YA is where female writers, as well as female characters, have had the chance to have a space, to be heard, to have power, to explore the limits of their worlds.

These are the things that, Nutt argues, are harmful.

And they are harmful precisely because they are not part of the White Male Literary Canon.

YA is a young category of fiction, and it’s one that’s ripe for being picked at, for having think pieces written about, and for being called harmful, shameful, and awful for teen readers. Of course, those arguments come from adult readers, many of whom still reference 10+ year old titles in their quest to sound relevant.

Whether or not YA remains robust and begins to build its own canon of literary masterpieces, what matters today, right now, and what will matter for decades upon decades, is that YA has a social and cultural currency that cannot be argued. How much of our language, how many of our references, and how many of our cultural connections come from YA? How much of our shared understanding of the world around us will emerge from our engagement with books like those found in YA?




Sparkly vampires.

The Feels.

Even if you don’t know where those references come from, chances are you know what they are or you’ve heard them in regular conversations or used them yourself. Phrases like “patronus” from Harry Potter become woven effortlessly into our vocabularies, used in place of highly appropriative phrases that might otherwise be used. You find yourself with a case of “the feels” after a great read or a great movie.

These are things that connect us with one another. These cultural references, pulled from the YA world and YA literature, have as much pull and importance as the books that we consider classics. The importance might not look the same or feel the same, it may not be studied in the same way in classrooms, but it still matters. 

Perhaps there is a reason these titles are so frequently referenced in pieces that argue YA’s value/harm/etc.

Rather than decry another article about how YA is ruining readers, why not instead spend some time reading the incredible journalism, the thoughtful and heart wrenching, the blood-splattered and pain-driven, the joyous and the insightful pieces that pepper the entirety of the YA world, both in the literature, as well as in the blogs, the websites, and from the people who are passionate and driven by this category of books?

I know which matters more in the long run.

100 years from now, even if we don’t see The Hunger Games or Twilight or The Fault in Our Stars or any number of other wildly popular, bestselling YA books in the limited canon (either in the YA world or broader literary world), their impact does not change. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, the call for more inclusivity, the calling out of problems in the YA world, the pointing to these huge books as being extremely white (and the responses to seeing these books not represented that way on the big screen), those things matter and come directly as a result of being able to share in the common interests and passions for literature and good, representative reading.

Instead, it carves a path toward more and more connection, more and more commonality, between us and the world around us.

And that matters, too.


A big, fat round-up of YA news will come your way in the next edition of this newsletter. In the mean time, if you’re still feeling a little worked up over that article, why not pull out YA author and Book Riot contributor Justina Ireland‘s handy little YA article Bingo card and go to town? 

YA Bingo Card

Riot Rundown The Stack

Riot Rundown 090416 The Gentleman (DEV)

the gentlemanToday’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by The Gentleman by Forrest Leo.

A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil–then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her. Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, this debut novel The Gentleman by Forrest Leo is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé’s beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

Book Riot Live Letterhead

VIP Update: Schedule Reveal and Books Books Books!

Hello, VIP ticket holders. As promised, you’re getting the first look at the programming for Book Riot Live 2016, and we are SO EXCITED to be sharing it with you. Seriously, all of the muppet arms are happening! Which is making typing kind of hard! I will have to let last year’s cheering squad do it for me!animated GIF of people from Book Riot Live 2016 cheering

Please feast your eyes upon … drumroll please …. the Schedule page! Wherein you shall find details about this year’s podcasts and discussions about humor, writing craft, making change, and more. This is just the tip of the programming iceberg, so stay tuned: same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

But wait, there’s more. Our partner bookstore WORD has been kind enough to set up convention pre-orders, which means you can have books set aside for you to pick up at Book Riot Live. No more agonizing over how you’ll pack them all into your suitcase! They’ve also agreed to give you a special discount, so use code VIPBRL2016 when you’re checking out — and don’t forget to note that these are for pick-up at Book Riot Live 2016.

The Goods

Quote Totes 25% Off

There are 2 awesome new quote-totes in the Book Riot Store and just 1 day left to get 25% off. Carry your TBR in style!