Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review: Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster


Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster
Another humorous memoir by the prickly yet endearing Jen Lancaster. In this one, she's on a quest to finally lose some weight and get healthy. We follow her through a gym membership and Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and a trainer. She never loses her sense of humor, or the bulk of her weight, but the important thing is that she also never (completely) loses her motivation. The other important thing is that she understands this is about health, not looks. I love how she talks about her strongs, and how she sees the improvement in her endurance and well-being as the cool benefits of her workouts. Meanwhile, she's snarky, sarcastic, hangs out with her funny friends and long-suffering husband, and is a great companion to anyone trying to become healthier. She can be a little mean, demanding, and ridiculous, but we still love her even in those moments, because she has the guts to do and say those things the rest of us think but never do. Mostly because of propriety, but also a little bit because we're chickens, and Jen definitely isn't that. Her honesty is always refreshing.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? This meme is now hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
Books completed last week:
My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster
Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster
The Story of a Return (Persepolis, #2) by Marjane Satrapi
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Okay, I have got to stop reading books by Jen Lancaster. I love them and am tempted to just charge through and read all 5 at once, but I know from personal experience that I will regret it, as they'll meld together into one big much in my head, and later when I try to recommend one to a friend, I'll struggle to remember which is which and figure out which ONE they would like. I try to not read a bunch right in a row anymore.

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Up Next:
In my effort to feature books from independent publishers on my TBR list, here are some from Algonquin Books:
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review: Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French


Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, illustrations by Bruce Whatley

I like wombats. I spent six months in Australia when I was twelve, and we did visit several zoos and wildlife conservancies, that sort of thing. I always liked wombats. Koalas are cute but really passive. Kangaroos are scary (seriously, if you've ever been around a real one, eight feet tall that can kill you with one kick, you'd understand), and emus are pretty gross. Wallabies are cool because they're like how you picture kangaroos (more reasonably sized) but I liked wombats the most, partly because I'd never heard of them or seen one, even in a book. They seemed relatively harmless, funny, and just plain goofy. I wasn't sure how there could be a picture book about one. They seem to mostly lie around and eat.

And that's precisely what the endearing wombat in this book does! Eating is her goal 99% of the time when she's awake. It very indirectly addresses the encroachment of people on the wombat's territory. People move in nearby, and she discovers they have food. So she eats it. She eats the whole garden, even things she doesn't like. She tries to eat the laundry. The people are trying to dissuade her from eating all their things, but that completely backfires as the lack of easily available food persuades her that she should eat her way into the house. On each page, you see the people's attempted (and futile) repairs as the very determined wombat allows them to feed her and keep her happy. She even trains them to give her treats on demand. In the end, the wombat decides they make good pets. I laughed out loud!

This is a cute, subtle book that can introduce children to a very strange animal from the other side of the world. I think it's important that children know we're not the only ones here. Both to learn about other countries/continents, but also to think about the animals upon whose land we are now living. The adults reading the book will appreciate the exasperation of the people in the story, as well as the tongue-in-cheek nature of the deadpan narration.

Diary of a Baby Wombat comes out in September (so my original assumption that the wombat was a he must have been completely wrong. I have fixed my pronouns.) Looks like Baby helps Mum to dig holes, sleep, and continue to train the family "pets."

Kid Konnection
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster
"Today on the bus a guy called me a fat bitch."
This is a funny memoir about weight loss. And Jen Lancaster is the master of one-liners, hence this one being so perfect. It tells you so much about her and you get her voice and tone immediately.

Book Blogger Hop

WELCOME TO CAROLINE BOOKBINDER!
I am your host, Carin. I post book reviews, a few memes (Teaser Tuesday, Waiting On Wednesday, My Favorite Reads), and on Thursdays I post about jobs in this crazy industry of Book Publishing! Not all of the jobs will be ones you're familiar with, which is exactly the point. (These are also listed in the sidebar to the right.) I've been in the book business for what feels like forever, but really is since my freshman year in college when I was the assistant to the business manager of my college library. Aside from 1 misguided year of bartending and working at TicketMaster, I've been doing it ever since. I love books, and hope you will join the love!

ABOUT THE HOP:
In the spirit of the Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From Manuscript to Printed Book: Production, the Unsung Heroes of Publishing

Sometimes newbies to the publishing industry can be confused by terms and they see the words "production editor" and yet they only see the word "editor". They can be quite surprised to find out what the job actually entails. On the other hand, I know quite a few people who were very happy in this job. It's definitely behind-the-scenes which also means out-of-the-crossfire, and it pays well and doesn't have homework.

When the book has been edited by the editor and author until they are happy with it, then it is sent to production, along with an estimated page count, requested trim size and season or month of publication. The head of the production department will assign it to a production editor and a production manager. As an editor, I worked much more with the production editor, and I was never 100% sure what the production manager did. These jobs always seemed to have a lot of overlap to me, and I'm sure some publishing houses divide them differently, so take my descriptions with a grain of salt:

Production Editor:
First, they make up the production schedule, based on what needs to be done between now the the publication date, which they then distribute. After checking to be sure they have all parts of the manuscript and making copies, they would contract with a copyeditor and send the ms. out for copyediting. When it returns, the copyedited manuscript goes to the editor who gets it to the author to approve or not (stet) the changes. When it's returned from the author, the production editor reviews the changes to be sure nothing unusual was been added/omitted, all pages are still included, etc. Meanwhile, the interior designer has come up with a design concept which has been approved by the editor, and the production editor now send the copyedited manuscript off to be typeset. They apply for the copyright and Library of Congress information. When the typeset pages come back, the production editor send them off to be proofread. While that is going on, all the headers for consistency, spacing, and accuracy, including page numbers. They also check for and adjust "ladders" which is when the first word of 3 or more consecutive lines happens to be the same (two is okay but not great. More than two is bad. It's difficult for the reader to stay on the correct line when they encounter a ladder.) They check all hyphenations (it's preferable to not have a hyphenated word to turn a page. It's okay on an even-numbered page where it continues on the top of the right-hand page, but it's not great to have it continue after you turn the page, from a right-hand page to the left.) If it's a heavily designed book with photos, captions, sidebars, footnotes, glossary, etc., it will be a very involved job for the production editor. They also will send the book off to an indexer and coordinate the index. Most publishing houses do a second copyedit, before the pages are ready to be printed. They make sure the jacket designers stay on schedule, they copyedit the jacket/flap copy, make the jacket routing schedule and be sure that keeps moving through all the stages of sign-offs.

Production Manager:
Responsible for production of final proofs and print-ready / web-ready PDFs and plates, Managing print orders with printers. Maintains records of all volumes in production. Conducts all bidding and consultation with printers. Serves as primary liaison with domestic and international fulfillment houses; ensures book orders that come to office are directed to appropriate distributor in a timely manner; Approves all invoices related to production and passes them on for processing.

Once the Production department has sent off the book to the printer, more stuff happens but that's not a job in publishing, that's a job in printing. Here is a super cool graphic (too big for me to copy here - you'll want to be able to see it full-screen size) that goes through all the steps of printing. It shows the Printer's support reps who price out the job for the publisher's Production team, and who the files go to. Between steps 3 and 4 is when the galleys are produced which the author needs to check those over (see the Editorial Assistant posts), and those are also made into ARCs for review/blurbs. Case is the binding type for the vast majority of hardcover trade publishing. Perfect binding is often used for paperbacks.

Here are some videos of the book printing process:

a little arty but you can see the 16-page pages (I know it looks like 8 but the other 8 are on the back)


A short-run printer, for POD (print-on-demand) projects:



This one is probably the most accurate, although long and a bit boring. Shows a lot of the parts that were in that above link to the huge PDF.


So, that's the production process! Until eBooks take over the world, the most important part of the whole process. And the most undervalued.

This post is part of my Thursday series on Getting a Job in the Book Business. For more info, click on the label below, or a list of the posts is on the right sidebar.

My Favorite Reads: Identical Strangers

My Favorite Reads

Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. May is Jewish-American Heritage Month, so all books I am featuring this month relate to Judaism

Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Summary (from the publisher):

Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn’t until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. What she found instead was shocking: She had an identical twin sister. What’s more, after being separated as infants, she and her sister had been, for a time, part of a secret study on separated twins.

Paula Bernstein, a married writer and mother living in New York, also knew she was adopted, but had no inclination to find her birth mother. When she answered a call from her adoption agency one spring afternoon, Paula’s life suddenly divided into two starkly different periods: the time before and the time after she learned the truth.

As they reunite, taking their tentative first steps from strangers to sisters, Paula and Elyse are left with haunting questions surrounding their origins and their separation. And when they investigate their birth mother’s past, the sisters move closer toward solving the puzzle of their lives.

Why I chose this book:
The writing wasn't spectacular, but it was clear and straightforward, and these woman do have an unusual story and did a lot of research to flesh out the back story of their adoptions and why they were separated. Separated twins are always an interesting story, used in studies about inheritance and nature versus nurture. Seeing how they are similar and how they are different was pretty fascinating. Also it was interesting to see how, when they are reunited, they don't bond instantly as many of us assume would be true of twins, but it was a little awkward with moments of hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review: My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster



My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster

I think this is the first of my WOW posts that I've actually read! My TBR list is long... But how did this one crack through to the top of the pile? Easy! Jen Lancaster came to town! And a co-worker (and fellow WNBA member) is a huge fan and knew about the event and asked me if I wanted to go. And as I should have kept reading the two books I was in the middle of, I tried to ignore this book that promised to be funny and a fast read, which I was totally in the mood for. I could hear it calling to me. I got one of my other books and put it on top of the Lancaster, hoping that would silence it, and encourage me to pick up and finish the half-read one. But funny won the day. I read half Saturday, finished Sunday!

I understand this one isn't as funny as her others and I can see that - it's not the funniest of topics, at least if she's successful. She's found that in the last several years of being first unemployed and then a writer, that she's let the cultural side of things slip, and she's started to feel a bit stupid in certain crowds. But it never bothered her too much until she finally got to meet Candace Bushnell... and felt like an idiot. Time for A Plan. (And time for a book proposal!)

So she decided to stretch her boundaries and go outside her comfort zone. And you know what? She liked pretty much everything! Plays, museums, international cuisine, wine tastings. Meanwhile, she joins a pool (in Chicago!), adopts some feral kittens, and buys a ridiculously large new car (it has a refrigerated compartment!) There were certainly moments when I laughed out loud (particularly when she tried letting her hair - with '80's extensions - go curly, and she thought she looked all Tawny Kitaen, and her husband took one look at her and said, "hon, you look just like David Coverdale!")

Ms. Lancaster is refreshingly honest (even honest about her lack of a filter for all her honesty and how it gets her in trouble) and she never takes herself too seriously. As someone who also loves both High Culture and Dancing With the Stars, I was incensed on her behalf by the guy at the party who had no idea who Jake Ryan was (and in Jen's defense, I didn't see either that her bet was going to end up with the cute guy her friend was talking to having to go and talk to all the other women at the party. Hm. Guess I am not the best wingman either.) And even though I'm happy for her that at the end of the book she can tell Ms. Bushnell that she too has read Baudelaire, I have to say, I think Ms. B was being pretentious mentioning that, even if it's true (which I doubt.) This was a very fun read, I am giving it to my best friend, and borrowing all the rest of her books from my co-worker.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: This Must Be the Place


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:
This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia

from the publisher:

A sudden death, a never-mailed postcard, and a long buried secret set the stage for a luminous and heart-breakingly real novel about lost souls finding one another

The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the four eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife's mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from sixteen years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent. Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story—one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love—how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and how even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together. With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.

Henry Holt is publishing 7/6/2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
I am a big fan of Mr. Bryson. But I guess once, circa 1999, that I had read everything he wrote, I lost steam. When this book came out in 2003, I was excited, but my momentum had left, and given its length, one must have a great deal of momentum. Not to mention as science had never been a particular strong suit of mine, the subject matter also scared me a little. But over Christmas, my step-mother was reading it and loving it, and I'd owned a copy for 9 years (a bound manuscript so I've had it since 2002). Finally, I was going on a 6 day trip to first Phoenix and then Chicago, I'd have 4 flights, a couple of which were long, I needed to squeeze a lot into my suitcase, so space was limited, and I needed a large paperback that wouldn't read too fast so I wouldn't need to worry about finishing it before I got home. I also couldn't worry too much whether I was going to like it. This fit the bill perfectly.
Basically, the book is an entire overview of the history of science. He covers physics, chemistry, astronomy, paleontology, biology, and everything in between. Luckily, as a non-scientist, it is written very accessibly, with occasional humor to keep things lively. Mr. Bryson has a weakness for random, funny facts (as do I), which certainly kept me turning the pages. Each chapter covers a segment of science pretty wholly, so it could be put down for several days and picked back up without losing anything. He's not reverential and so while he certainly has a great deal of respect for science, he also sees that a lot of scientists were wackos and gives you fun details about their crazy experiments, and nuttier theories, understanding that these kinds of fun details are precisely what will intrigue the non-science-inclined and keep us reading. I imagine it wouldn't be appreciated by actual scientists who would find fault with his poking fun, but they're not his market.
It was thoroughly enjoyable, I learned a lot (for instance: "Your pillow alone may be home to 40 million bed mites. (To them your head is just one large oily bon-bon). And don't think a clean pillow-case will make a difference... Indeed, if your pillow is six years old- which is apparently about the average age for a pillow- it has been estimated that one-tenth of its weight will be made up of 'sloughed skin, living mites, dead mites and mite dung.'" Ugh, gross. I really try to not think about these kinds of facts while I'm dusting.) Some was disturbing - estimates vary widely but even the very most conservative admit that humans cause an average of 2 extinctions an hour, some of the worst in the last century were caused by ornithologists themselves! All of it was awe-inspiring from people who had the brain power to figure out things they were centuries away from proving, to the fact that Denver is getting taller every year and no one knows why.
Didn't inspire me to become a scientist but maybe I'll read another book on science this year. This is the perfect refresher course for a layperson.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

"Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth's mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result -- eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly -- in you."

I've no idea the page number since I've been reading a bound manuscript where in each chapter, the page numbers restart from 1, but it's towards the end. Sorry to do same book 2 weeks in a row, but it's a very long book! Still, I finished it last night so it won't happen a third time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This meme is now hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.

Books completed last week:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Okay, only one, but do you know how long this book is? I did not while I was reading it. I was reading a bound manuscript, which is 2 version before an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC or ARE). Yep, this book came out in 2003. I have had this copy since 2002. But what was weird was that each chapter restarted the page count. At one point, I did go through with my cell phone calculator and figured out when I was on page 200, but it was strange to not know where I was in the book. I know that's an issue of a sort with eBooks as well, since "page count" is more amorphous there. I think I will not like that if/when I ever try an eReader. (By the way, it's 544 pages.) I did though have a slight twinge of fond nostalgia on the occasions where there was a copyeditor's mark (they were very few and far between). But I am still glad that I no longer have to read manuscripts. I really appreciate copyeditors and proofreaders!

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson (Translator)

Up Next:
Still supporting medium-sized publishers, and so another week for HMH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt):
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (got a signed 20th anniversary edition!)
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Shark Vs. Train

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, and Tom Lichtenheld (illustrator)

Last weekend I was in Chicago visiting friends, and they have 2 kids, ages 3 and 1. For the last 3 years when I visit her, in lieu of a hostess gift, I bring picture books for her kids, and everyone seems very happy with this arrangement (especially Thomas, the three-year-old.) Unbeknownst to me, Thomas has recently become slightly obsessed with sharks (and whales and dolphins and other large fishy creatures). What can I say - I am very in tune with three-year-olds.
So the wordless bookends set up the "plot" of this book: 2 little boys are pulling toys out of a toy box, and one pulls out a train, one a shark, and away we go! Who is better at...
  • pulling a train?
  • swimming underwater?
  • bowling?
  • selling lemonade?
  • going hot-air-ballooning?
  • sword fighting on a tightrope?
Obviously, the scenarios become increasingly absurd. Which Thomas just loved! I did have to explain to him what is a tightrope and a hot-air-balloon, and why the Shark's lemonade become "watery". But he loved the space exploring and the basketball. As an adult, I loved the funny little jokes such as on the last spread, the protagonists are on motorcycles jumping over several cars and trucks, one of which says on the side: "A. Fonzerelli Leather Jackets" hehe. And I adored the caboose which sometimes made funny little asides and occasionally declined to participate in whatever Train was doing. Thomas seemed to get the arc where the competitions start off ordinary, become silly, then ridiculous, and finally scary and like a good time to stop. That arc is in no way explicitly spelled out, but it's well implied. The illustrations are so terrific that you almost don't even need the words (in fact, after the fifth reading, I made Thomas tell me what was happening instead of me reading the book yet again, and he had zero trouble with that.)
Here is a very short trailer for the book:
And the official one, which shows some interior illustrations:

This book was a huge hit, and the puns and humor helped keep the reader intertained even after multiple readings.
Kid Konnection
This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

I can't believe it's Friday again already! Am I the only person who ends up with the song "Let's go to the Hop" stuck in her head for hours every Friday? Welcome new friends!

ABOUT THE HOP:
In the spirit of the Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.


If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

"Marx has completely changed the way I view the world," declared the Pallières boy this morning, although ordinarily he says nary a word to me.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson
I talked my friend in Chicago into giving me her copy of this (which she has already read). After all, she still has the original in French! Starting off with Marx and talking about philosophy seriously in a novel immediately reminded me of Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, which is also translated.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Favorite Reads: The Year of Living Biblically

My Favorite Reads

Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. May is Jewish-American Heritage Month, so all books this month are related to Judaism.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs

Summary (from the publisher):
From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible.

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.

The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes.

Jacobs's quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations - much to his wife's chagrin.

Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.

Jacobs's extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.

Why I chose this book:
Mr. Jacobs is hilarious. I loved this book. It spoke to a lot of the problems I have with biblical cherry-pickers, who use the Bible as a rulebooks when it's convenient, but not when it isn't. I cracked up at the story when he and his wife were arguing, and she (who was menstruating) sat on every chair in the house which meant he couldn't sit anywhere. I also loved his quandary about stoning a loose woman and his creative and ridiculous solution. I now whip out the rule about not wearing mixed fibers in fabrics when I encounter the Cherry-Pickers. I appreciate having that weapon! As always he's sharp and eloquent and pokes holes in a lot of sacred cows (sorry if that mixed metaphor leaves you with a squeamish feeling but I like it.) I wish he'd write faster!

Subsidiary Rights - What the Heck is That?

In an earlier post about jobs in publishing, I mentioned that one reason not to be quite so convinced that Editor is the only job for you is because there are a ton of other jobs you're not even aware of, and how do you know that one of those might be even more perfect for you? Subsidiary rights is always the department newbies to the industry are least aware of, but it's really cool.

Subsidiary rights sells paperback rights, audio, large print, foreign rights, film rights, reprint rights, and so on. Reprint rights can help get the public’s attention, such as when an excerpt is printed in Vanity Fair or Newsweek. Any foreign rights sale goes a long way towards the bottom line, and can make the difference between a book being profitable or not. The people selling foreign rights get to travel internationally several times a year, usually attending the Frankfurt, London, and Bologna book fairs.

It can be an even more important and exciting job in the children’s side, where the licensing of characters, for toys, on cereal boxes, and TV shows, is much more likely than in the adult world. It make seem soulless, but every time someone buys a Fancy Nancy lunch box or a set of Pinkalicious barrettes, an author gets another check with which to pay her mortgage! And it's never good to tar everything with a wide brush - after all tons of respected classics are licensed widely, from Winnie-the-Pooh to Paddington Bear to the Hungry Little Caterpillar. The licenses allow authors and illustrators to quit their day jobs and really concentrate on their craft.

This job has a more relaxed atmosphere than editorial, takes some patience and persistence and a match-making state of mind, while having very little interaction with authors. As previously discussed, authors aren't always the easiest people to deal with (ah, artists!) It is a mix of sales and agenting. Like an agent, the subrights rep tries to send out a novel to the British editors who are most likely to see the promise and potential. Naturally, there is selling involved (and a little bit of contracts but that's all boilerplate so don't let that detail scare you off.) It can be very creative (I wonder who first thought of making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese into shapes other than elbow macaroni such as Spongebob Squarepants?) I have seen everything from Twilight-inspired underwear and skateboards, to Harry Potter "Bertie Botts" candy, and I'm sure there are crazier licensed products out there (in fact, I also saw some items from Twilight that were certainly X-rated!)

And it can make all the difference in the world between a book being successful or not. When the publisher's sales reps can tell bookstores that a book has already been sold into 16 countries, that is a vote of confidence for the book that helps it get more prominent display and more reviews domestically. Usually the publisher and an author's agent split the rights. So the publisher might get English-language rights while the agent retains foreign language. But they often work cooperatively together, as proceeds are split between the publisher and author (and author's agent). So in this example the publisher would work to sell off the Canadian, UK, and Australian/New Zealand rights. They can also sell English language books in India, Singapore, South Africa, and for European export. The markets for both large print and audio have been growing of late. Audio is mostly due to the success of the iPod as well as lengthening work commutes. Large Print is very directly tied to the aging of Baby Boomers, although LP books are also perfect for reading on the treadmill. It's not that frequent that books get turned into movies or TV shows or plays, but it does happen sometimes, such as with HBO's "True Blood." This is also the department that is contacted when someone wants to reprint an essay or a short story in an anthology or textbook. But really, aren't the keychains, bobble heads, and board games the real fun in this arena? Sound like a department you might consider now? I thought so. (And yes, literary agencies also employ subrights reps.)
By the way, this week's podcast of Books on the Nightstand also talks about getting a job in publishing. This link is to the blog which links to the podcast.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Art Institute of Chicago!

I was in Chicago last weekend and after hearing about the children's book The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone, I really, really wanted to go see the exhibit of the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms while I was there, which is at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Much to my surprise, directly across from that exhibit was a second cool exhibit on picture book illustrators! Including Peter McCarty's Jeremy Draws a Monster, which I brought to my Chicago host's son last year when I visited!

The exhibit is called Everyday Adventures Growing Up: Art from Picture Books. In addition to Mr. McCarty (who I have been in love with ever since Little Bunny on the Move), it also featured works by Nancy Carlson and Timothy Basil Ering (the illustrator of The Tale of Despereaux.) Of course there were pieces of original art on the walls, including a few pieces (not original) stuck down near the floor on transfer paper so children could walk right up to Henry (from Henry in Love) or other characters. There were 3 child-sized tables with 6 little stools around them for each of the three illustrators, and each had 6 books affixed to it (some duplicates) with strong Velcro. I found some fantastic new picture books, and the fun and bizarrely drawn The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone will find its way into my collection very, very soon. Don't Let the Peas Touch! is a message that resonates with me to this day (I have been known to prop up my plate on a spoon or knife to keep the pea juice on its side of the plate). Finn Throws a Fit will be a perfect book for the aforementioned lucky little boy in Chicago who gets books from me (and is currently obsessed with weather, which is featured heavily in Finn.)
So, if any children's book junkies are in Chicago anytime in the next six months, the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms is a permanent exhibit, but the Children's illustration exhibit is up through November 28, 2010.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Other Mothers' Club

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Other Mothers' Club by Samantha Baker

from the original (British) publisher:
Eve has never imagined herself as a stepmother. But when she falls in love with Ian, he comes with a ready-made family of three children. And, to make matters worse, the ghost of his glamorous and well known wife haunts them.
Clare, a teacher and single mother, is Eve's best friend. She is the only person Eve can talk to about how on earth a journalist in her thirties can win round three wary children. But despite Clare's years of practice with her own teenage daughter, it's Lily, her younger sister, who provides the truly sympathetic ear.
Mel is sent along to Eve's so-called 'support group' by a colleague. With a fledgling relationship and a new business to get off the ground, she has a very different set of pressures to the other women.
And Mandy is the stay-at-home mum, who wants more than anything to stitch together a happy family life for herself, her kids and her new step-kids.

As a cup of coffee becomes a bottle of wine, and the get-togethers become a regular fixture, conversations about new families evolve into ones about relationships, life and each woman's deepest hopes and dreams. But the friendship is tested and feelings about lovers, husbands and step-children challenged when the five women are forced to confront new futures as well as unwelcome figures from the past.

This is being published in the U.S. by HarperCollins (Avon A) 6/22/10

PS. Isn't Samantha Baker the name of Molly Ringwald's character in Sixteen Candles?

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This meme is now hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.

Books completed last week:
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Up Next:
TBRs from another smallish, independent press, Algonquin Books:
The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter
Doctor Olaf van Schuler's Brain by Kirsten Menger-Anderson
How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: The Penderwicks


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

What a joy! Reminded me of books from my youth. Four sisters and their father are having a summer vacation in a rental cottage, and the girls befriend the sad little boy who lives in the manor next door, despite his disapproving mother. The girls all have very distinctive personalities and quirks, they have fun adventures and get into scrapes. Even though at one point a computer is mentioned so it's obviously set now, the Penderwicks seem to have a timeless summer vacation. I particularly loved how it reminded me of a time when 3 weeks' of summer vacation seemed like an eternity and hundreds of life changing events could happen in such a short period of time. Charming and adorable, this book will stand the test of time. I'd love to read the sequel.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted on weekends by Booking Mama.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hop Hop Hop Time Again!




It's Friday! Time for another Book Blogger HOP!!


This is for ALL BOOK BLOGGERS (NEW AND OLD) and READERS! Let's make some new friends and have fun! It's FRIDAY!!!

ABOUT THE HOP:
In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-For-Books to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.


If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
"Welcome. and congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize. To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you."
Yes, many more than 1 first sentence, but a book this thick deserved multiple sentences, plus the first couple just don't make sense without context.

Book Review: Sway by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman


Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Okay, I think I need to put a moratorium on behavioral economics books for a while. I did enjoy this, but it felt a little repetitive, although since this book came out in 2008, it's likely the books I read first were following this book, not the other way around. The KLM plane crash I read about in Checklist Manifesto, how "first-date" type interviews are bad was covered in What the Dog Saw as well as the O-ring failure's role in the Challenger Explosion. But the Brafman brothers saw the connections first.

This is a short, quick read. I did learn interesting things. I will totally be recommending the part about decision bias to a friend who is a bad judge of character. My dad (Econ Prof) has totally done the $20 auction (and also never lost money on it.) The Chameleon Effect was fascinating. what was different about this book as opposed to some of the other behavioral economics books, is that in other books I've learned things to do, and this one is more teaching what NOT to do.
If you like these sorts of books as much as I do, Sway is an awesome book. If you've read as many as I have, it might be a bit repetitive (not its fault.) Come on behavioral economics authors! Come up with new material! Pretty please? I really don't want to have to slack off on reading them because I do adore them.