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Happy Book Birthday to Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard!

Happy Hour

featuring

Susan Dennard

StrangeandEver jkt hi-res

We’re celebrating over here at Pub Crawl. It’s not every day one of our members completes a trilogy, and today, Susan Dennard’s Strange and Ever After, the final installment in the Something Strange and Deadly series, hits shelves!

I (Erin) have loved this series since I got my hands on book one ages ago, but I have to admit: Strange and Ever After tops them all. Susan brings Egypt to life with ease (how is she so skilled at setting?!), but the journey Eleanor and Co. have to make is not easy at all. Packed with action and surprises, SaEA had me frantically turning the pages until the very end. And speaking of endings… this is one of the most pitch-perfect trilogy conclusions I’ve read. Bittersweet and moving. The last few lines (heck, most of the last chapter) was downright magical.

Oh, and if you’re an existing fan of the series, don’t miss the Something Strange and Deadly series recap Epic Reads has on their blog, complete with top 5 moments from each book. You should also sign up for Susan’s newsletter. Like, right now. Not only is it inspiring and packed with helpful writing information, but it sometimes includes bonus scenes from her novels!

Anywhoo, if all my gushing hasn’t sold you yet, here’s the official synopsis for Strange and Ever After:

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

Goosebumps, right?

In honor of Susan’s release day, I’m giving away one copy of Strange and Ever After (hardcover if the winner lives in the US; e-book if the winner lives internationally)! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and be sure to wish Susan a happy release day!

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Congrats again, Sooz! I’m so darn happy for you and proud of you and thrilled to see your series conclude with such an explosive bang. You’ve created a world readers are going to want to revisit many times over! <3

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Guest Interview: Heather Marie

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Kat Zhang

(featuring Heather Marie)

Kat Zhang

 Heather-AuthorPhotos-3-WEBSIZEHey guys! Kat here today with Heather Marie, author of the upcoming YA book THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME. It’s her debut, and it’s releasing on August 25th with Curiosity Quills, so I invited her on Pub Crawl to chat with us a little about her publishing journey :)

Before we begin in earnest, I asked Heather to summarize GATEWAY for me in one sentence, and she said:

Seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz is a Gateway for the dead, who discovers that sending the dead away can be easy—but stopping them from coming back is a whole other story.

Read until the end for the book’s full summary, as well as a chance to win a copy!

So, Heather, tell us a little about your writing/publishing process with GATEWAY!

Where do I start? Well, I wrote Gateway during NaNoWriMo in November of 2012. At that time I was on submission with another YA supernatural about a girl haunted by the ghost of her half-sister. After only a few months, I pulled that manuscript and parted ways with my agent for personal reasons. This happens more often than you think, but it really leaves you feeling pretty jaded about publishing.

It was a rough road picking myself back up from there. I went through a lot of ups and downs, but eventually I pushed myself to finish Gateway, which was my sixth manuscript. (The one that went on submission was my fourth.) I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever get back on track. After you go from having an agent to not, you start to question your writing and publishing in general, because so much changes at once.

But I’ve dreamed of being an author since I was a kid—books have been a huge part of my life—and I just couldn’t allow myself to give up that easily. So after going through querying, and several revisions with Gateway, I was ecstatic to find out that Curiosity Quills Press wanted to sign me. As they say, it was a dream come true.

That’s really great! The road to finally getting a book published can definitely be rough, and I always love a happy ending :) What has working with Curiosity Quills been like? Any challenges you’ve faced as a debut author?

As a writer, I think we all know how important it is to market ourselves. Even those with Big 5 publishers have to get themselves out there, because no one is gonna do the work for you. However, having a big name backing your book is definitely a huge help. Going into my contract, I realized that it would mean working a little harder on the marketing front for myself. I’d like to think I’m okay as far as that goes, but I always worry that I’m pushing it too much. Maybe we all feel that way, because it’s weird to talk about yourself all the time, or to try and promote something without being pushy. That has been my biggest challenge.

When it comes to CQ as a whole, I have nothing but good things to say. They have been incredibly supportive and easy to work with. I love that I can go to them with questions or concerns or pretty much anything. I’m one of those writers that tends to need a little more attention because I’m constantly worrying, or I have some new idea that I want to share, and they always back me up. My experience with them has been wonderful.

I’d have to say what I find most unique about working with a small publisher is the time and attention they provide. From what I hear, I’m pretty lucky when it comes to this, because I’m more in-the-know than most writers with their publishers.

I think marketing as a writer is always tricky. That line between “I feel like I’m talking about myself all the time!!!” and “No one even knows I write books” is oddly weird to walk sometimes.  But the most important part of being a writer, of course, is the actual writing! What’s your process like? Panster or Plotter? (or, as GRR Martin said once: “Architect” or “Gardener”)

I rarely ever outline. In fact, if I do outline it’s usually when I’m halfway through the story. Even if this happens, I only write about a page or two of random notes that bring the story together. Ideally I prefer the pantser method. I enjoy learning along with my characters what’s going to happen next.
With that being said, I tend to write the first draft fairly quick. I work on this with my critique partners for a while and rarely ever start a new draft with all the changes. The only time I start collecting more and more drafts is during the editing phase with my publisher. I can’t even tell you how many drafts I have of Gateway. My “Gateway” folder is a train wreck.
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Sounds like my folders for the Hybrid Chronicles, lol. I literally had files titled “Hybrid 1″ through something like “Hybrid 8″ before I even sold the trilogy! 
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Thanks for coming on Pub Crawl to chat with us today, Heather :) Before you leave, tell us:  What are your future writing plans?
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I keep setting the bar higher and higher for myself with each manuscript. To keep writing Young Adult is definitely my main plan—I love it too much to write anything else. My biggest thing is hopefully finding another agent with my next manuscript. I miss the security of having someone on my side that is experienced in the publishing world. People keep telling me I’m doing great without one, but I don’t want to limit myself as a writer. Agents are there to help us grow in our craft and in publishing—I’d hate to deprive myself of that experience and knowledge.
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That sounds fantastic :) Everyone should check out GATEWAY when it releases, and in fact we’re giving out an ARC today! 
gateway
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To seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control. With the threat of the Dark Priest’s resurrection, and his plan to summon his demon brothers from hell, Aiden is left to discover his identity before the Dark Priest’s curse infecting his blood consumes him, and before the world as he knows it succumbs to the darkness of hell on earth.
(Sorry international readers, the giveaway is US only!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Heather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back.

Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional–the former allows for better souvenirs, but the latter allows for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. Her novel WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a girl struggling to survive in an alternate universe where people are born with two souls, and one is doomed to disappear. It is the first book in a trilogy and was published by HarperCollins in September of 2012.  Book 2, ONCE WE WERE, released September 2013, and Book 3, ECHOES OF US, will come out September 16, 2014. You can learn all about Kat at her site, or listen to her ramblings on twitter.

Posted in Writing Life | Tagged | 2 Comments

Logistics

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By

Biljana Likic

biljana new picStories often begin with a lone kernel of an idea. Mine tend to begin when a few characters appear in my mind and don’t want to leave me alone. A single interaction between them can cause an entire book to be built around it. Generally, that’s how I plot, too. My process is basically just me figuring out how to construct a story around scenes that must happen.

But when I first started writing seriously, it would trip me up. I’d be writing the scene I’d been waiting a year to write, and all would be great. I’d create a setting in which the interaction would take place and go nuts pounding out the words that had been living in my head for so long. It’d be done before I knew it and after a night of sleep and letting it rest I would come back to it and realize I’d made a grave, grave error.

My characters would be so influenced by my neurotic imaginings of their interaction that they wouldn’t at all be influenced by the actual environment in which they were. Outside the sky would be heavy with clouds but they would still squint against the sun to see things better. Loud music would be playing but soft conversations from across the room would still be overheard. The room would be so dark only silhouettes should’ve been clear but for some reason the colour of the wallpaper would be discernable.

It was a result of the scene not evolving in my mind along with the rest of the story. I would have strong plot reasons for it to be a very cloudy day, but because the scene in my mind had always been an arbitrarily sunny one, I would subconsciously impose a completely different kind of weather. It was an issue of continuity.

Since becoming aware of the issue, I came up with a way to resolve it. It’s juvenile in its simplicity.

Keep a list of logistics. These can include light quality, temperature, weather, sound, and architecture.

Here’s an example. First, the wrong way to do it.

Cold rain came down in sheets, gathering on the leaves above and falling in big fat splotches onto his head. He was soaked in seconds. He fled, deafened by the sound of the storm around him and blinded by the darkness. He tripped and tumbled to the ground with a grunt of surprise. He heard her approach quietly behind him.

“Are you alright?” she whispered. She was probably afraid they’d hear her. “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” he said.

She hurried to him and helped him up before he could stop her. Prompted by an ingrained memory of his strict mother, he automatically brushed dirt off his knees.

“Leave,” he said.

He went to keep going but was stopped by her tugging on his sleeve. His breath caught at her beauty. Tears streaked down her flushed cheeks, and her dark hair billowed and flowed in the breeze. Before he could change his mind, he shook off her grip, and ran.

There are a number of problems here. Taking the first paragraph where I describe the environment, these are our logistics: it’s a dark forest, it’s wet, and the pouring rain is loud and cold. So how does he hear her approach quietly? How does he hear her whisper when she’s nowhere near close enough to be heard through the storm? How can he brush dirt off his knees when he was soaked in seconds? It’d be mud and it would seep into his clothing. When he sees her beauty, how can he see? He’s blinded by darkness. On that note, how does she even see him fall? And why is her hair billowing and flowing when it should be slick against her head? How does he know those are tears on her face when it could just be rain?

These are the kinds of continuity errors that come up very often in first drafts, but they’re easily avoidable. All you have to do is keep in mind the main aspects of the environment. It’s a dark forest, it’s wet, and the pouring rain is loud and cold. Add occasional lightning to the storm and suddenly you have a source of light. It does nothing to change your actual story; the weather’s already bad. If she approaches him quietly, have her surprise him with a hand on his shoulder while he’s still on the ground. Now she’s close to him, which means he’d be able to hear her even if her voice isn’t very loud. When she helps him up, have him wipe his muddy hands on his pants and cringe at his mother’s memory instead of trying to respect it.

Cold rain came down in sheets, gathering on the leaves above and falling in big fat splotches onto his head. He was soaked in seconds. He fled, deafened by the sound of the storm around him and blinded by the darkness. He tripped and tumbled to the ground with a grunt of surprise. Lightning flashed weakly and the forest floor glowed, tangles of vines and roots glistening.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and jerked away. He stilled at the familiar voice by his ear.

“Are you alright?” she whispered, voice carrying over the din of the rain, her warm breath puffing against his skin. She was probably afraid they’d hear her. “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” he said.

She hooked an arm under his and helped him up before he could stop her. He wiped his muddy hands on his wet pants with a grimace and a silent apology to his mother.

“Leave,” he said, raising his voice to make sure she could hear.

He went to keep going but was stopped by her tugging on his sleeve. Lightning forked across the sky and his breath caught. Even with her hair plastered to her head, cheeks wet with what he told himself was only rain, she was beautiful. Before he could change his mind, he shook off her grip, and ran.

Fundamentally, the scene hasn’t changed. All I did was tweak a few actions to make it plausible. But another thing you’ll notice is that the scene was actually made more intimate. He heard her whisper above the rain because she was so close to him, which wouldn’t have had to be true if it hadn’t been raining or if, as in the first attempt, I hadn’t followed the rules of the logistics I’d set. What I’m left with is a scene that not only takes into account the environment so it can play out naturally, but also gave me an opportunity to flesh out a more meaningful interaction.

And it doesn’t stop there. This scene could be even more tellingly intimate. Again, it comes down to logistics.

The rain is cold. She puts a hand on his shoulder. Her hand is warm. Instant awareness. Even if he jerks away, maybe the warmth could be familiar. Of course, warmth in and of itself isn’t only applicable to humans, but having him think of a certain someone in the moment of that warmth tells quite a bit about his psychological state of mind. When she’s that close to him, does he really want to run? What is he remembering when her breath is puffing into his ear? When she hooks an arm under his to help him, that human contact in a time of desperation would maybe be comforting. When she tugs at his sleeve, do her fingers graze the skin of his wrist?

We know how the environment affects him. How does she affect him? How do her actions impact his state of mind?

Cold rain came down in sheets, gathering on the leaves above and falling in big fat splotches onto his head. He was soaked in seconds. He fled, deafened by the sound of the storm around him and blinded by the darkness. He tripped and tumbled to the ground with a grunt of surprise. Lightning flashed weakly and the forest floor glowed, tangles of vines and roots glistening.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. It was nearly hot in contrast to the rain. In the split second before he instinctively jerked away, he thought of her. He froze when she spoke into his ear.

“Are you alright?” she whispered, voice carrying over the din of the rain, her warm breath puffing against his skin. She was probably afraid they’d hear her. She’d always been afraid they would hear. He shivered when she spoke again and blamed it on the wind. “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” he said and quickly bowed his head away from her.

She hooked an arm under his and helped him up before he could stop her. The contact made his knees weak with longing. He needed comfort, wanted heat, and at that moment he felt she was the only thing that could banish the damp from his bones. He stepped away and wiped his muddy hands on his wet pants with a grimace and a silent, desperately out-of-place apology to his mother for dirtying his clothes.

“Leave,” he said, raising his voice to make sure she could hear. He hoped she hadn’t heard it crack, too.

He went to keep going but was stopped by her tugging on his sleeve. Lightning forked across the sky and his breath caught. Even with her hair plastered to her head, cheeks wet with what he told himself was only rain, she was beautiful.

The night succumbed to darkness once more and his only awareness of her became the brands that were her fingers brushing against the skin of his wrist. Before he could change his mind, he shook off her grip, and ran.

The people around your main character are also part of the environment. So now, your new logistics are: it’s a dark forest, it’s wet, and the pouring rain is loud and cold. He is greatly in love with the woman, and she keeps touching him.

Keeping all this in mind is how you go from point A to point B. What was at first a rough draft passage, a bare-bones scene, has turned into a psychologically important event necessary for the growth of the main character. All just by considering where things are, why they’re there, what the weather’s like, and how he feels about it.

Biljana Likic is working on her fantasy WIPs and just completed her BA, soon to be starting her MA in September, where she can’t wait till she’s done so she’ll finally have all the time in the world to write. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Guest Post: The Contemporary Comeback

Industry Life

by

Kelly Fiore

Kelly Fiore, author of x

Kelly Fiore, author of Taste Test and Just Like the Movies

Don’t call it a comeback!

Okay, fine. You can.

However, I’m a little inspired by my main man, Prince, who, when Justin Timberlake busted out “Sexy Back,” just shook his head and said, “Sexy never left.”

Contemporary never really left, either. Some of the greatest contemporary YA books I’ve ever read were written right at the height of the Paranormal/Dystopian boom. Stephanie Perkins’ first two books, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door came out around the same time as Mockingjay and Divergent, respectively. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson all found success in the wake of Twilight. So, contemporary never really left. I think it’s just speaking a little louder these days.

In dystopian, and particularly post-apocalyptic, storylines, I think there is a considerable draw to a world that has collapsed in on itself and has to start all over again. The idea that a person or group of people need to rise up and become a force to be reckoned with. As readers, we like underdogs – of course we do. Essentially, there is nothing better than a comeuppance.

But, sometimes, the end of the world is all about perspective. What we feel is a crisis might not look that way from the outside – a good contemporary novel can delve into that idea and can explore that inner implosion. In dystopian or paranormal genres, you often watch the world literally fall apart. In many contemporary novels, the world can fall apart and no one ever sees a thing. From the outside, a character will look “perfect.” That’s the way we, as humans, can disguise our truth.

Amy Reed does a wonderful job of this sort of inner implosion in her novel, Clean, which uses an alternating narrative of five different characters in a rehabilitation facility. By studying the inner monologues of these characters, we’re able to see the trials and missteps that brought them to where they are and that made them who they are. There is less world building, less focus on setting. But there is a heavy reliance on narration that enlightens the reader, that sparks empathy and sometimes frustration.

So, when the call to arms is internal – and the only war is against one’s self – a writer has no choice but to explore the insides more than the outsides. There isn’t a world war, but there are battles to be waged. They’re just a little quieter and often have more room for emotional baggage.

I think this is part of the reason why The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has become such a phenomenon; it slips right into the space vacated by explosions and good vs. evil and creatures that are created to destroy our race. Cancer, while treatable in many cases, is a far more poignant and unavoidable reality in our world than werewolves or cyborgs. Looking at the struggle of Hazel and Gus, watching love bloom in a place where, admittedly, there isn’t going to be a happily ever after, is gut-wrenching. But, isn’t that, too, an illustration of the aspects we love in YA literature? The idea of people banding together and rising up against a force that is bearing down on us. How is Hazel and Gus fighting against their disease different than Katniss and Peeta fighting against the Capital?

So, is contemporary having a comeback? Maybe. Maybe we’re all just opening ourselves up a little to the vulnerabilities of what’s immediate or true. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are beautifully written dystopian or paranormal novels, books that are eye opening and life changing and can completely wreck you. Moreover, there are dozens of books with touches of otherworldliness that are contemporary in most ways, but add just a dash of something else – something that seems a bit more magical. Sometimes, that’s the way we add hope.

Here are a few of my favorite novels that I feel are contemporary, but also include subtle and successful touches of paranormal, magic, or dystopian themes*.

  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • Going Bovine by Libba Bray
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • The Freedom Maze by Rebecca Sherman

*Just to clarify, it is purely my opinion that these novels have undercurrents of something more than a mere contemporary label.

Kelly Fiore has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA. Her second book, Just Like the Movies, launches July 22nd college composition in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and son. Kelly teaches college composition in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and son.

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Who Can Recommend a Good Book?

by Julie Eshbaugh

~~~

Julie

I’m fascinated by lists of “recommended reading” - not only do such lists help us discover great books, but they also reveal quite a bit about the person who created the list. (For example, someone over at LibraryThing.com has cataloged the contents of Marilyn Monroe’s personal library. Reading through the list reveals a lot about the private interests of such a public person.)

Recently, while searching for lists of “favorite books” or “recommended reading,” I stumbled upon a very cool site - OpenCulture.com. Clearly, someone there enjoys reading lists as much as I do, because the site includes a fantastic sidebar titled “Reading Lists by…” Here you can find reading lists compiled by some well-known and fascinating people.

Reading over the lists, I noticed, with regret, a lack of diversity among the recommended books. Other than that common problem, however, I was surprised by how little overlap the lists contained. Below is a sampling of a few lists I found interesting. Others included on OpenCulture.com are by F Scott Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Christopher Hitchens, Joseph Brodsky, WH Auden, Donald Barthelme, and Carl Sagan.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

ndgt

In an “ask me anything” feature on Reddit.com, popular astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked, “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?” The following list, along with short explanations of each choice, was his response:

1.) The Bible - “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”

2.) The System of the World by Isaac Newton – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”

3.) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin - “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”

4.) Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”

5.) The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine  – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”

6.) The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith - “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”

7.) The Art of War by Sun Tsu - “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”

8.) The Prince by Machiavelli - “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

Tyson clarified that he chose these books because, “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”

David Bowie

david-bowie

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London created an exhibition called “David Bowie is…” The exhibition, a retrospective of Bowie’s career and influence on the arts, is currently touring internationally, and includes a list of Bowie’s 100 favorite books. Here’s the (long) list (clearly influenced by his love of music):

The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz, 2007

The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard, 2007

Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage, 2007

Fingersmith, Sarah Waters, 2002

The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens, 2001

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler, 1997

A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes, 1997

The Insult, Rupert Thomson, 1996

Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon, 1995

The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, 1994

Kafka Was The Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard, 1993

Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C. Danto, 1992

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia, 1990

David Bomberg, Richard Cork, 1988

Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick, 1986

The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, 1986

Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd, 1985

Nowhere To Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey, 1984

Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984

Money, Martin Amis, 1984

White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1984

Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes, 1984

The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White, 1984

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, 1980

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole, 1980

Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester, 1980

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler, 1980

Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess, 1980

Raw (a ‘graphix magazine’) 1980-91

Viz (magazine) 1979 –

The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, 1979

Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz, 1978

In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan, 1978

Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed. Malcolm Cowley, 1977

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes, 1976

Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders, 1975

Mystery Train, Greil Marcus, 1975

Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara, 1974

Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich, 1972

In Bluebeard’s Castle : Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner, 1971

Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky, 1971

The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillete, 1970

The Quest For Christa T, Christa Wolf, 1968

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn, 1968

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967

Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg, 1967

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr. , 1966

In Cold Blood, Truman Capote, 1965

City of Night, John Rechy, 1965

Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964

Puckoon, Spike Milligan, 1963

The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford, 1963

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea, Yukio Mishima, 1963

The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, 1963

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962

Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell, 1962

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961

Private Eye (magazine) 1961 –

On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding, 1961

Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage, 1961

Strange People, Frank Edwards, 1961

The Divided Self, R. D. Laing, 1960

All The Emperor’s Horses, David Kidd,1960

Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse, 1959

The Leopard, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, 1958

On The Road, Jack Kerouac, 1957

The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, 1957

Room at the Top, John Braine, 1957

A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno, 1956

The Outsider, Colin Wilson, 1956

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949

The Street, Ann Petry, 1946

Black Boy, Richard Wright, 1945

Ernest Hemingway

ErnestHemingwayAn aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson traveled to Key West in 1934 and knocked on Ernest Hemingway’s front door, seeking writing advice. During their conversation the following day, Hemingway asked Samuelson if he’d ever read Tolstoy’s War and Peace. When he said he hadn’t, Hemingway offered to write out a list of books he felt the aspiring writer ought to read. The list includes two short stories by Stephen Crane and 14 books:

“The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane

“The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Dubliners by James Joyce

The Red and the Black by Stendhal

Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Hail and Farewell by George Moore

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Oxford Book of English Verse

The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson

The American by Henry James

And lastly, for those of you who believe that the task of comparing one book to another is too subjective, here’s a brilliant quote from Virginia Woolf, from her 1925 essay, “How Should One Read a Book” :

VirginiaWoolf“The only advice … that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. If this is agreed between us, then I feel at the liberty to put forward a few ideas and suggestions because you will not allow them to fetter that independence which is the most important quality that a reader can possess. After all, what laws can be laid down about books? The battle of Waterloo was certainly fought on a certain day; but is Hamlet a better play than Lear? Nobody can say. Each must decide that question for himself. To admit authorities, however heavily furred and gowned, into our libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value to place upon what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is the breath of those sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound by laws and conventions — there we have none.”

 

So what do you think? Do you enjoy book recommendations and lists of “Best Books”? Do you find any merit in the above lists? Do you agree with Virginia Woolf that we should not “admit authorities” to tell us “what to read”? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

 ~~~

Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults. She is represented by Adams Literary. You can add Julie on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

Virginia Woolf

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