What I Learned from Anthony Doerr

Depending on what study you go by, Seattle is the first or second most literate city in America. This is thanks in part to the number of wonderful independent bookstores and civic organizations who bring authors to read.

Last week, Elliott Bay Books partnered with Seattle Arts & Lectures to bring Anthony Doerr to speak. I attended and live-tweeted the lecture. Doerr, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, titled his talk, “Some Thoughts on Artistic Failure in 6 Parts.” Here are some of the highlights:

1.

Doerr once spent all day reworking one paragraph of All the Light We Cannot See. He researched each detail of the paragraph and thought about each sentence, only to cut it down to one small sentence.

2.

It can sometimes be more desirable to fail. That is to say, failure helps artists to play and explore the mysteries of life. If we are so hung up on success, we don’t take risks. Doerr quoted Ray Bradbury, saying “You only fail if you stop writing.” More broadly, we could apply this to any artistic or business endeavor. I was reminded of our first Book of the Month, Mindset, which says much of the same thing.

3.

Getting the facts right is so important to Doerr because he doesn’t want to lose a reader, or break their concentration on the story. He’ll take whole afternoons to make sure he has a word right in order to create a totally immersive experience.

4.

Doerr says he doesn’t have a satisfying answer for why he chose to make Marie-Laure blind in All the Light We Cannot See. Partly it is because his office is near a center for blind people in Boise, Idaho. But it is also because it was a challenge to write using other senses besides sight.

If you have the chance to see Anthony Doerr speak, jump on it! Until then, pick up All the Light We Cannot See!


Did you miss our live-tweeting on twitter? Make sure you are following us!

Book of the Month: All the Light We Cannot See

If you haven’t yet read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, it’s probably on your to-be-read list. And if it’s not, I’m thrilled to be the one to tell you about it.

Set in France during World War II, this novel follows the stories of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl, and Werner, an engineering prodigy who has been sucked into the Hitler Youth. This is one of those tales that manages to be beautiful and heart-breaking, redemptive and exciting all at once. It won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in fiction.

Since it came out last year, it’s also been one of the most talked about books by booksellers, book clubs, and most people I know.

In the clip below, Doerr explains his inspiration and how the disparate pieces fell into place.


All the Light We Cannot See is our Book of the Month and discounted to $14.95 until November 30th

Life After Life

Ursula Todd was born in a blizzard in the year 1910 just outside of London, England. Gone before she can take her first breath, Ursula dies in a complicated childbirth. On the same snowy winter night, she is born a wailing, healthy baby girl, her little fingers grasping for her mother’s embrace. The story unfolds and Ursula dies repeatedly, in numerous ways, with each passing leading to an alternative life.

Kate Atkinson’s dark and poignant novel, Life After Life, captures life’s uncertainties and the power that one moment can have over an entire life’s story. Every one of Ursula’s deaths brings her closer to the tumultuous time of the 1940s where she is faced with myriad choices, myriad paths. Atkinson’s novel captures the fragility of life, the sorrow and power of death, and most importantly the strength everyone possesses over their story.


What would you do-over if you could? Let us know in the comments.


Life After Life - 1

Summer Sales for Summer Reading

Whether you’re going on a long run in the sun or a long road trip from coast to coast, whether you’re digging in the garden or prepping for a big family barbecue, audiobooks are a great companion for summer activities. To help you out, we discounted a few for the month of June. And don’t forget to check out our Book of the Month, Where’d You Go Bernadette.


Showtime

Showtime

By Jeff Pearlman

In Showtime, Pearlman relates the facts, figures, and behind-the-scenes accounts of one of the most-loved (and some might say the most-hated) teams ever: The 1980s L.A. Lakers. Great for those who closely followed the Lakers at the time as well as those who know them by reputation only.


Kill-Switch

Kill Switch

By Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene

Before writing Kill Switch, Baer and Greene produced the wildly popular television show Law & Order. In using a novel format, they are able to tell a longer, more involved story. Claire, a forensic psychiatrist, faces dangerous killers; one is locked up, but the other has been following her for some time.


The-Beautiful-Ashes

The Beautiful Ashes

By Jeaniene Frost

The things Ivy has always seen, the things she has always thought of as hallucinations, are real. When her sister is taken, she teams up with Adrian to find her. Adrian has secrets he’s keeping from Ivy, but they’ll have to face them eventually. But those secrets could lead to a war that would doom them all.


Brothers-Rivals-Victors

Brothers, Rivals, Victors

By Jonathan W. Jordan

In Brothers, Rivals, Victors Jordan tells the story of Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley, whose teamwork, friendship, and leadership led to victory in World War II. Jordan uses the Generals’ own accounts to tell this story as you’ve never heard it before.


Masters-of-the-Air

Masters of the Air

By Donald L. Miller

Masters of the Air is a long but engrossing nonfiction account of the American bomber boys in World War II. With the style and flair of a gifted storyteller, Miller recounts the real turbulence the bomber boys faced in and out of the air.


The-Mission-The-Men-and-Me

The Mission, the Men, and Me

By Pete Blaber

Pete Blaber has used his extensive military training both in and out of combat. In The Mission, the Men, and Me, he recounts stories of survival and teamwork from dangerous war zones to the everyday experiences of modern life.


Dan-Gets-a-Minivan

Dan Gets a Minivan

By Dan Zevin

Marriage, dog, kids, minivan . . . that’s the path that Dan Zevin finds himself on in his memoir Dan Gets a Minivan. His hilarious take on his own life makes for laugh-out-loud fun, and his ease creates a relatability that parents and nonparents alike can connect with.


The-Extraordinary-Dad

The Extraordinary Dad

By Made for Success

It’s often said that children don’t come with an instruction manual. But if you want to raise your children well, this is about as close as it gets. The Extraordinary Dad lays out easy steps for parental success.


Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to hear more about great sales!

April Showers Bring May Book Specials!

May is a fun time. The world wakes back up, and we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. As you dig in your garden, prepare for your first barbecue of the season, or engage in some vigorous spring cleaning, try out an audiobook. As a special offer, we’ve discounted the following audiobooks all month long.


What-It-It-Like-To-Go-To-War

What It Is Like to Go to War

By Karl Marlantes

If you haven’t read Karl Marlantes yet, you’re in for something special. In What It Is Like to Go to War, Marlantes comes to terms—as best as he can—with his experiences in Vietnam, and the effect these experiences have had on his life.


Doughboys

The Last of the Doughboys

By Richard Rubin

In making The Last of the Doughboys, author Richard Rubin tracked down the last living men and women who lived through World War I. Though these veterans have all passed away now, their stories of the homefront and battles overseas live on in this book.


Beyond-Band-Brothers

Beyond Band of Brothers

By Dick Winters & Cole C. Kingseed

Dick Winters commanded his company, the “Easy Company” at the Battle of the Bulge, Foy, and just outside of Munich, where they liberated a death camp. In his book, Beyond Band of Brothers, Winters, with coauthor Cole C. Kingseed, tells his and his men’s tales of World War II.


The-Mexican-American-War

The Mexican-American War

By Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

From Blackstone Audio’s “The United States at War” series comes this examination of an oft-overlooked war. Whether you can’t quite remember what you learned in school about this point in time or if you want to dig into all the details, The Mexican-American War by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel is a great listen.


Ancient-Maya

The World of the Ancient Maya

By John S. Henderson

In The World of the Ancient Maya, John Henderson leaves no stone unturned when exploring the history of the Maya. From their interesting hieroglyphics to their mastery of their hot, wet, jungle environment to their meeting of the Spanish, Henderson covers all the details.


Mexico

Mexico

By Joseph Stromberg

Mexico is a great addition to Joseph Stromberg’s “The World’s Political Hotspots” series. Short and to the point, Mexico centers on what makes Mexico’s history different than its North American counterparts.


Sign up for our newsletter to hear about more great audiobook deals!