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Epic Updates: January 31, 2022

Hello Insiders, and happy last Monday of January!

– As you’ll see in my “What Are You Reading?” post, I’m pretty excited for February to start, for various reasons.
– And Kelly is FULL OF THOUGHTS (spoilery ones, FYI) about The Great House as the Group Read moves along.

And I’m pretty sure this photoset is the dictionary definition of the heart-eyes emoji, kittens-and-books style, so enjoy.

Stay snuggly,
Jenn

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Epic Update: January 24, 2022

Good morning and good Monday, Insiders! The people (meaning y’all) have spoken, and the next Book Riot Podcast bonus episode will be a Big Book of the Season. What will Jeff & Rebecca pick? Stay tuned… In other Epic news:

– The Epic Group Read of Catherine House continues, with big questions about plasm.
– I’m on a roll finishing books; what about you?

My partner and I finished watching Station Eleven this past Friday and were immediately like “Ok so when do we start our rewatch?” Whether or not you’ve seen it yet, please appreciate the majesty of this (non-spoilery) GIF set, because the visuals are stunning.

Stay cozy,
Jenn

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Epic Update: January 17, 2022

Hello, Insiders, and happy Monday! I’ve got chai and my space heater going, so let’s talk books.

– More specificallly, let’s talk about Catherine House for the Group Read! (Warning for spoilers, so if you’re not done with First Year yet, come back to it.)
– And let’s also talk about what else you’re reading, inquiring minds want to know.
Reminder to vote this week on the Book Riot Podcast’s next bonus episode theme if you haven’t already!

For my fellow fans of Spider Georg: the meme got even better.

Stay cozy,
Jenn

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Epic Updates: January 10, 2022

Happy Monday, Insiders! Here’s what’s cooking this week:

– It’s our first Progress Check-In for Catherine House!
– And it’s time to vote for the next Book Riot Podcast bonus episode theme.
– What are you reading this week?

And finally, please meet the most amazing dog nose in existence.

Stay safe out there,
Jenn

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Epic Updates: January 3, 2022

Hello Insiders, and happy first Monday of 2022! Here’s what’s on this week:
– I share my first books of the year, and can’t wait to hear yours.
– Kelly’s kicking off the Group Read of Catherine House with some thoughts on horror and dark academia.

My partner got me The Sweater from The Big Lebowski for Christmas (!!), so I’m just over here trying to channel some “Dude Abides” energy.

Here’s to a fresh start,
Jenn

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Epic Updates: December 20, 2021

Happy Monday, Epic Insiders! Charity here, with your last (!!) Epic update of 2021. Here are your Insider highlights to kick off the holiday week:

IMO, one of the cutest videos I’ve seen this year…

Here’s to a vibrant ’22!
Charity


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Epic Updates: December 13, 2021

Happy Monday, Epic Insiders! Let’s get to the linking.

– We had a small but excellent group gather to discuss Elatsoe, and the recap is here for those who missed it and want to catch up.
– Which means, it’s time to vote for the next Group Read! Kelly’s in charge and has some options for you. Voting is open until Sunday, December 19th, 11:59pm.
– One more ICYMI — Liberty and Vanessa did a livestreamed ATB recording and you can still watch it if you so desire.
– What are you reading this week? I have some updates (and am looking for suggestions).

And here’s a public service reminder I think we can all use this time of year.

Stay cozy,
Jenn

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I Read a Lot of Parenting Books, Apparently

Amanda Nelson here, back again with your Behind the Scenes shenanigans. As all of you know because I probably never shut up about it, I have a lot of kids. My twin boys are seven and my foster daughter is 17, and because kids are weird aliens taking over my space who I don’t know how to interact with, really, I’ve read a lot of books about it. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson is a brilliant poet and nonfiction writer, and this is a book about her romance with her gender-fluid partner, and her experience with pregnancy. It’s heavy on the literary theory and queer theory, and light on the “miracle of life” stuff that many (most?) nonfiction reads about motherhood are full of.

 

The Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich

Again, this is a book about motherhood that isn’t about developmental milestones or play dates or even really about the baby at all. This is a slow-moving, introspective look at the life of a working artist who also happens to have a newborn. It’s thoughtful and lush, and affirms both the joys and difficulties of having an infant.

Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison

Harrison has three biological sons, two adopted daughters, and has fostered dozens and dozens (sometimes at one time, seemingly) of children in a New England foster system. I’m deeply critical of a lot of her choices as a foster parent (mostly of how she took in more children than she could handle because she felt guilty, which resulted in actual harm more than once to already traumatized kids), but it’s undeniable that she cares. I’m the only foster parent in my family or friend group, so this book satisfies both my voyeuristic need to see how other FPs do it, and also my need to know I’m not the only person out there who cares about these kids.

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) and her husband adopted their three year old daughter out of the California foster care system after 13 rounds of failed IVF treatments and several years of not being matched with a private adoption agency, domestic or international. No one even told her adopting out of foster care was an option (it is!) and that it’s free (it is!), and that there are over 100,000 kids across the country in foster care who already have had parental rights terminated and are just waiting for a home. Vardalos signed up to be a foster parent, got the call one night, and found herself suddenly the mother of a three year old daughter. Vardalos is (unsurprisingly) hilarious, and tells stories about her kid that are just charming and lovely. I recommend this audiobook-she reads it herself and you can feel her frustration, love, and happiness coming out of the speaker.

Hit me with your faves, if you’ve got them! I’m especially interested in memoirs of single parents, queer families, foster parents, parents of color, and dudes! Dudes need to write more parenting books.

-Amanda

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Oops! Update for Insiders Member Survey

Hello, friends! Our survey didn’t have a field for entering your email address, which does put a damper on your entry into the $50 Powells gift card contest. If you filled out the survey before 10am Eastern this morning (10/18), please hit reply to this email and let us know so that we can correctly enter you. We’re on the honor system here, because you’re all that awesome.

If you filled it out any time after 10am, your entry is logged and good to go. If you haven’t yet, please do! As long as you fill it out by October 31, you’re eligible for the giveaway.

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Behind The Scenes: Clint pt 1

Happy October, Insiders! This month, Jenn sat down with co-founder and COO Clinton Kabler, known around the offices as Clint, to talk about how Book Riot has grown and changed since its founding in 2011. But first! A couple notes:

We want to hear from you. Please head on over to our very quick survey about the Insiders program so far. On October 31 we’ll randomly select one (1) responder to win a $50 Powell’s gift card, so go forth and let us know how we’re doing!

Novel and Epic members: there’s a new treat in the Podcast feed, appearing monthly from now on. We hope you enjoy!

And, of course, we’ve got your Insiders-only deal. Accessorize in bookish style! 25% off scarves & socks with code GETINSIDEFALL.

Book Riot Insiders deal collage featuring Poe socks, a library scarf, and socks that say BOOKS all over them


Jenn: Book Riot is now 6 years old! What’s your first thought when you hear that?

Clint: I’m grateful for the group of book bloggers who went along with Jeff’s and my crazy idea. I’m grateful for the staff, who are largely still intact from the beginning, that took a chance on the craziness. And, I’m grateful for all the readers of Book Riot who’ve journeyed with us.

I also think about the way reading Book Riot has helped me read outside of my experience and comfort. I was not a mindful reader, and now I am. More importantly, I’m hopeful that the changes Book Riot brought to my own reading life have extended to Book Riot readers as well as the broader marketplace, contributing in a small way to the economic return that creators from traditionally marginalized groups receive from their books and comics.

Jenn: Unlike most of the staff, you’d never worked in books or a book-related job before founding Book Riot. How did that happen?

Clint: Jeff and I were friends from undergraduate at the University of Kansas, and we both moved to the New York City area to go to graduate school. In 2003, I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. He gave me two books when I left. I still have them — East of Eden and The Things They Carried. (Confession: I’ve never brought myself to finish The Things They Carried. It’s too much.) After I moved to Vancouver, we stayed in touch because I travelled to New York City for work. Also, Jeff started sending out a list of about 10 books he felt were the best from the prior year. I read most of them, and he would get spatterings of my thoughts back. I still hold a grudge for his inclusion of 2666 on that list (which I finished).

From left to right: Clint, Jeff, and Michelle (professional architect and Jeff's partner)

From left to right: Clint, Jeff, and Michelle (professional architect and Jeff’s partner)

By mid-2010, I had spent seven years at a software startup. My travel schedule was gruelling. My wife and I wanted to travel with our first child, so I started paternity that July. While in Guanajuato, Mexico, about a month into the three months we were traveling, I decided I didn’t want to return to my old job. I quit.

When we returned to Vancouver, my wife returned to work while I stayed at home with our daughter. I did some consulting but mostly just enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad. At this same time, Jeff had started a book blog. I was reading and enjoying it. I started reading some other blogs by people he followed like Greg Zimmerman (The New Dork Review of Books), Rachel Manwill (A Home Between Pages, now defunct), Wallace Yovetich (Unputdownables, now defunct), Kim Ukura (Sophisticated Dorkiness), and Amanda Nelson (Dead White Guys, now defunct). I remember waking up one morning with the idea that we could do “TechCrunch for books.” (Cue eye roll.) I talked with Jeff about it. He agreed. I was unemployed. He was underemployed. So, we thought it would be a ~~~great idea to pool money from savings~~~ and start a thing. That was June 2011. We put the infrastructure in place and launched Book Riot on October 3 of the same year. The goal: create an influential place where books and reading could be talked about in the interesting ways book bloggers were talking about books and reading. Jeff and I didn’t get paid anything for the first 18 months… and here we are today. As I was writing this, I went back and opened our first business plan. After two minutes, I closed it because I couldn’t handle past me’s naivety.

Jenn: Tell us one of your favorite stories from the founding days of Book Riot, back when it was just you and Jeff.

Clint: Well first, it was never just Jeff and me. We both had working women who provided for our families so that Book Riot was possible.

Jeff and I were trying to come up with a name for the thing. We had a spreadsheet of the possibilities, and he was convinced it was Book Riot. I wasn’t convinced. He called me the evening of June 15 to try to convince me. I stepped out onto our balcony to argue about the name. There was black smoke over Vancouver. My wife stuck her head out the door and said something about the Canucks losing Game 7 and riots had started (clearly I care about hockey). I don’t know if I took that as a sign, but I capitulated quickly so I could turn on the local news.

Jenn: What has been the most surprising change from Book Riot’s founding to today?

Clint: I don’t know if it is surprising, but it is noticeable. Rebecca and I were in New York City at the end of September and we stayed in a hotel. In our own rooms!

The first year when I travelled to New York to meet with potential advertisers my friends Kahlief and Jill let me sleep on their couch in Brooklyn. A year or so later, we graduated to the cheapest Airbnbs where you’d have to walk through a colleague’s room to get to your sleeping closet. We’ve had various other non-private, perilous arrangements that lacked air-conditioning. Walking into a private room a few weeks ago after a full day of meetings in NYC and immediately depantsing, because I could, was a luxury.

Jenn: What’s your favorite book right now?

Clint: I’m going to pick three. A favorite I enjoyed for the writing: Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. A favorite for the pure enjoyment of the story: Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. A favorite because it is a respite from the chaos of the world: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. Since Jeff doesn’t recommend books much anymore, Book Riot contributor Derek Attig is my go-to for book recommendations.