Best of the Bookternet: February 2016

Though it is the shortest month of the year, February was full of exciting bookish news, reviews, and celebrations. Award nominations, Black History Month, book blogger extravaganzas and more dominated our news feed this month. Here are some of the best articles, blog posts, and announcements that were on our radar.


Audies - Wide

Audies Award Finalists

The short list in each of the 2016 Audie Award categories have been announced. Many of the categories have fierce competition, but perhaps none more so than “Best Narration by the Author,” which includes Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew, I Must Say by Martin Short, and Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann.

Via Audiofile Magazine


Nebula - Wide

Announcing the 2015 Nebula Award Nominees

Speaking of awards, the shortlist for the Nebula Awards were also announced. The Nebula Awards are for various categories in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, and are chosen by the professional organization Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Best Novel nominees this year include The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu, and Uprooted by Naomi Novik, among others.

Via Tor.com


Fragile Things - Wide

Instruction in the Event You Find Yourself in a Neil Gaiman Story

What to do if you should wind up in a twisty, fantastical, nothing-is-as-it-seems Neil Gaiman story? The folks at BookRiot offer some neat advice, including “Expect angels, but expect nothing of them. They have their own jobs to do.”

Via BookRiot


Octavia E. Butler - Wide

Read Octavia E. Butler’s Inspiring Message to Herself

Some of sci-fi mastermind Octavia E. Butler’s journals have recently surfaced, including this powerful note, scribbled on the back cover of one. It reads in part: “My novels will go onto the above lists whether publishers push them hard or not, whether I’m paid a high advance or not, whether I ever win another award or not.” Go read the rest and get inspired!

Via Electric Literature


Alison Bechdel - Wide

Alison Bechdel: Top Ten Books

One Grand Books has a tradition of asking famous authors for their ten favorite books. This month, they turned to graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, who included The Dharma Bums, The Night Watch, and Harriet the Spy, among others.

Via One Grand Books


Books - Wide

Bookstore Sales Had First Gain in Eight Years in 2015

Good news, everyone! Bookstore sales increased 2.5% last year. Remember to #ChooseIndie to help keep the trend going strong.

Via Publisher’s Weekly


Bars - Wide

Welcome to the World of Literary Bars

Next time you’re in the mood for an adult beverage, stop in at one of these bookish bars. Settle down in a leather chair, pull some Hemingway from the shelf and order yourself a mojito.

Via Paste Magazine


Get Info - Wide

Get Information

Unless you’ve taken a vow of internet abstinence, you’ve undoubtedly heard all about Beyoncé’s new song and video “Formation.” Whether you’re tired of all of the think pieces or on your thousandth view of the video, this excellent post from independent bookstore The Strand sheds a bookish light on the song.

Via The Strand


Girl - Wide

The ‘Girl’ in the Title: More than a Marketing Trend

What’s up with titles like, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train? Is it just a coincidence, or is it all about marketing the book? NPR examines the trend.

Via NPR


Blogger - Wide

Book Blogger Day 2: Interviews

Book Blogger Appreciation Week was this month, in which we all take a moment to thank bloggers, who supply endless bookish resources. One of the traditions of BBAW is the blogger interview, in which bloggers interview each other. It is a great way to find out about the world of blogging and pick up a few more titles for your to-be-read list.

Via Estella’s Society


All throughout the month, we’ve been tweeting recommendations for Black History Month. In March, we’ll do the same for Women’s History Month. Make sure to follow us at @librofm to hear all of our suggestions!

Best of the Bookternet: January 2016

By all accounts, 2016 is off to a great start. This month has been chock-full of interesting articles, exciting news, and passionate advice. Here are some of our favorite essays, blog posts, and lists since the first of the year.


British

Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories

The Atlantic makes a case for imagination and fantasy over morality in children’s lit. What do you say? Huck Finn or Narnia?

Via The Atlantic


YA

The Time My Grown-Up Novel Was Marketed as Young Adult

Speaking of children’s literature and genre, Lit Hub digs deeper into how these labels affect marketing and ultimately, sales. Kate Axelrod explains the complications that lead to mislabeling her book.

Via Lit Hub


Gene Luen Yang
Photo: First Second Books

The War Over Comic Books Is Nearly Over, and Kids Are Winning

Like audiobooks, graphic novels (AKA comic books) have recently risen in popularity and received critical acclaim. In fact, Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Via NPR


Shakespeare

Infographic: Analyzing Shakespeare’s Characters

Not interested in YA? All right then, this one is for you. This infographic explores the relationships between characters in Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Via Electric Literature


Neil Gaiman
Photo: Huffington Post

The Gaiman List

Author (and fantastic narrator!) Neil Gaiman makes a case for his favorite audiobooks, including Bleak House, Bag of Bones, and, of course, The Art of Asking.

Via HarperCollins


Leech

Author Amy Tan “Thrilled” By Bloodsucking Leech Named in Her Honor

A new species of leech, Chtonobdella tanae, has been named for author Amy Tan. Leeches feature prominently in her book, Saving Fish from Drowning, and she is reported to be tickled by the homage.

Via Gizmodo


Classic-Characters

Classic Characters You May Not Remember from Children’s Literature

OK, OK, one last kid-lit article. Check out this satirical post on TheToast.net, rounding up characters such as Sarah who lives in Heidi’s shadow and Mary Poppins’s creepy sister.

Via The Toast


Politcs-Prose

Going Places

Did you know that Washington, D.C. bookstore Politics & Prose double as travel agents? For years they’ve been curating travel in France. This year, they’re expanding to Tuscany, Cuba, and more.

Via Politics & Prose


PW

Finalists Named for 2016 PW Bookstore of the Year

More great indie bookstore news! Publisher’s Weekly has released their finalists for bookstore and sales rep of the year. Bookstore nominees include Village Books, Greenlight Bookstore, and more fantastic indies.

Via Publisher’s Weekly


Hard-Truths

25 More Hard Truths About Writing and Publishing

Attention writers! Zeroes author Chuck Wendig dishes out the facts about writing, publishing, and marketing books. Most surprising? Just how much influence your Twitter following does or does not have in selling books.

Via TerribleMinds.com


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Amanda Palmer on Recording Her Audiobook, the Weird Places She Writes, and Fear

If you already follow Amanda Palmer, author of The Art of Asking, on Twitter, then you probably know that lately she’s been busy grieving, battling Lyme Disease, recording with her father, and preparing to have her first baby with her husband Neil Gaiman. So we were incredibly pleased that she took time out from her nonstop, go-go-go life, to answer a few questions for us via email.


[Judy Oldfield] My understanding of the way audiobooks are made is that narrators—even when it’s the author narrating their own work—are given a script that they can’t stray from. It’s hard for many authors. Was it hard for you?

[AP] No, it wasn’t hard. It was actually really helpful to be in the recording studio at that exact moment. I was in New York for three straight days of recording and the book itself was in final editing stages, which meant that I was sitting there with a pencil, changing lines, scratching out repetitive words, saying things like, “Wait . . . that doesn’t actually makes sense, does it?” And I’d stop and ask the audio engineers, “Does that makes sense?” And they acted as editors along with me.

So in a sense, I was still finishing up the script, and lucky for me. Because reading aloud brings new problems into light that silent reading just doesn’t highlight. And it also really solidified my own personal relationship with the book, to just sit there for three days and read the whole thing, in front of an audience, even if the audience was just audio engineers and a rep from the publisher. It was like doing a live performance and seeing how the emotional arcs actually hit me, and hit the people listening. Truth be told, there were two or three times I looked out the studio into the control room and made sure they were crying . . . or at least close to crying. I choked up at least three times.

[JO] In The Art of Asking, you wrote about needing a lot of privacy in order to create. What’s the most unusual place you’ve written something (be it blog posts, your book, or music)?

[AP] Ha. Well—I’ve written in a lot of strange places, especially since getting a phone and being able to leave myself notes and voice memos anytime. Bathrooms everywhere. Friends’ homes. Subways. Closets at parties. One of my favorite birth-spots for a full song was in a keg room of a nightclub in Portland, OR, where I wrote “Astronaut”. I held a gun to my head that night because the guy I was writing it about was in the audience for one night and one night only. And so I just did it. An immediate audience has often been my mother of invention.

[JO] People have very strong opinions on you and your work. I have a friend who says that listening to your former band The Dresden Dolls got her through her divorce. But I’ve also read critics who’ve dismissed you for anything from your appearance to your mistakes (real or perceived). Any idea why you provoke such strong responses from people?

[AP] Sure. I think people with strong emotions elicit strong emotions. It used to bother me more, but I’ve come to realize that it’s just part of the game of life. It’s especially true when you’re a woman, and the more of the world I see, the more I see people being fearful of women who live out loud, mistakes or no. And I figure my job is just to get on with it, and not to cower, and not to try to please people.

[JO] Your TED Talk has 7 million views. Your book, The Art of Asking, is a bestseller. What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened to you because of the talk or the book?

[AP] The most surprising? Honestly the most surprising thing is when I’m walking down the street in New York and a super bad-ass looking hoodlum-esque teenager passes me on the street, takes his headphones off, and says, “Wait, are you that TED girl? I just saw your TED talk and I loved it. That asking shit is dope.” That’s happened multiple times. And I’m always astoundingly happy.

[JO] You’ve recently gone back to crowdfunding, though in a newer, more sustainable way. How has Patreon helped you as an artist?

It’s liberated me. There’s 5,500 people currently entrusting me with their credit cards basically saying, “Go ahead and make art, and charge as needed, forever,” which feels like a massive relief and responsibility at the same time. It’s like I got access, suddenly, to a magic highway spur that bypasses the entirety of the mass media, the music industry, and the entire establishment.

But there are moments when it just feels surreal to be so far off the grid, with absolutely nobody in the “real world” paying attention to the madness that is going on outside the city.

But then again, that’s the modern world. There’s always so much going on nowadays that you don’t know about. Sometimes it feels like me and my fans live in a cave, and I worry that we need more air.

[JO] Libro.fm is a new company. We’re the independent bookstore for digital audiobooks. As a writer, an entrepreneur, and an advocate of independent bookstores, what advice do you have for us?

[AP] Don’t let Amazon and Audible get you down.

[JO] What challenges or fears are you facing right now? What are you doing to overcome them?

Oh dear lord . . . nice timing. I’m eight months pregnant. I have NO IDEA what is about to happen to me, I feel like I’m about to fall of an existential cliff, and I’m just bracing myself for an unknown reality over which I will have little control. And what am I doing to overcome them? Nothing, really, except trying to put every piece of zen wisdom I’ve ever lean red into practice. There is only now, now and now. And now. Whatever happens: birth, death, change, catastrophe . . . it will still be now, and it will still be fine. There is never ever any space for regret or fear. It’s poison.


The Art of Asking is our Book of the Month. Use the code WeLoveAmanda at check out to get 25%.

Book of the Month: The Art of Asking

Each month, the Libro team selects a book that we believe will spark dialogue and discussion for our listeners. Our goal is to create an open space for our audiobook listening community to ponder ideas, pick minds, and talk about what we love most: books. This month we’ve chosen The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer.

I was initially drawn to this novel after hearing about Amanda Palmer’s fascinating life story, one that wanders down many paths but ultimately ends in the single realization that asking is a key component of success in life. Frozen as a living statue, Amanda Palmer posed in a wedding dress asking passersby for their pocket change. As a musician, she asked for the literal support of her audience as she flung herself into their arms crowdsurfing. And when Palmer asked fans to support her independent album, she was met with the world’s most successful music Kickstarter. Amanda Palmer is a singer-songwriter, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker, who is definitely not afraid to ask for help. Her TED Talk, on which this book is based, has more than seven million views.

In her memoir, Palmer delves into a paralyzing fear so many people face, that of admitting to needing and asking for help, and how it affects their lives and relationships (including her marriage to novelist Neil Gaiman). Through her revelations, she discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of asking for help.

The Art of Asking will inspire its readers to rethink their ideas about asking, giving, art, and life. There is a piece of advice for everyone here—something to take away, apply, or learn from. Not only do her ideas have practical applications in real life relationships and day-to-day situations, but also in career and business decisions. I loved her thoughts on building community. In asking for help we allow others to support us. Moments like this are the foundation for relationships, communities, and life. Palmer tells us of the value in taking risks by asking for what we want and need, a skill most people shy from. Palmer flips the idea of asking as “weakness” on its head, calls it strength, and shows her audience that some of the best creations are those that are built together.

I also absolutely loved the music this audiobook features. It’s a special addition not found in most books. Hearing both her songs and writing allowed me to grasp the entirety of all that is Amanda Palmer, to see her from all sides as a musician, performer, speaker, and writer.

This is a book that speaks for itself. Amanda Palmer has a unique perspective full of valuable, applicable, and unparalleled ideas on life. Palmer’s story is just plain interesting, so it’s no wonder that her words spring to life and make for a tremendously entertaining listen.


The Art of Asking is our August Book of the Month. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join our month-long conversation.