Notes from Ann: Philip Roth

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Among his many honors, Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker International Prize and was recognized with the National Humanities Medal, The American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal in Fiction, and the National Medal of Arts. He won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award (both twice), as well as the PEN/Faulkner Award (three times). He died yesterday, May 22, 2018, at the age of 85.

I’m sitting in the airport, feeling terrible about Philip Roth’s death. I’ve been a devoted Roth reader since I was in high school, bought and read each of his books as they were published. I thrilled to them, learned from them, and loved them. The very worst Roth novel was still better than anything published in a given year. When I was 24 I got in terrible trouble in the English department where I was teaching for giving Portnoy’s Complaint to a college freshman. He loved it. His mother did not. Read the rest of this entry »

What Makes a “Great American Read,” Anyway?

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Want to get Americans fired up? Show them a list of “the best” anything. The best colleges. The best burgers. The best movies. Or in this case, the best books. PBS recently announced America’s 100 best-loved novels, as chosen in a public opinion survey. The survey was the first step in The Great American Read, a new PBS series that celebrates reading with a nationwide conversation about America’s most beloved books. The second step, apparently, was everyone talking loudly about the list. Read the rest of this entry »

How SCBWI Helps Launch Careers: A Conversation with Four Authors

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Audiences at our author events are often made up of not only avid readers but also aspiring writers and illustrators. When those folks raise their hands to ask the inevitable questions — “Where did you get your start? What should I do next?” — the answer is commonly a tongue-twisting abbreviation: SCBWI. It stands for the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, an international organization with regional chapters offering conferences, education, and networking for people at all levels of experience in making books for young people. Some of our favorite Nashville writers and illustrators, including Ruta Sepetys, David Arnold, Susan Eaddy, and Jessica Young, credit SCBWI with playing an integral role in their creative development and success. Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: The Basic Self

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Let’s imagine that for each of us there is a basic self and an extraneous self. The basic self is simply who you are, the boiled down version of you, very simple, possibly naked. Say the basic self is represented by your fingerprints, your height, your DNA. The extraneous self is composed of all the optional parts of our personality, the things we love and hate, the things we’re attracted to, the things we try on and cast away. It’s still us, it’s just the more fluid version of us. The basic self is you in the bed. The extraneous self is the bed, the mattress, the mattress pad, the fitted sheets, the top sheet, the light summer blanket, the pillows, the pillowcases, the pajamas. You get the picture. Read the rest of this entry »

What Next? Books to Inspire Graduates (And Anyone Facing a Major Milestone)

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When someone you love is taking a big step — graduating from school, striking out on their own, or making a big life change — it can be tough to know what to say beyond the usual platitudes: Go get ’em! You can do it! (And if you’re a parent, you can’t always be sure you’ll be heard.) That’s why we’re lucky to have books to say important things for us. Read the rest of this entry »

29 Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day (Plus Your Soon-to-Be-Favorite New Books)

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In his autobiography, Mark Twain wrote: “My mother had a good deal of trouble with me but I think she enjoyed it. She had none at all with my brother Henry, who was two years younger than I, and I think that the unbroken monotony of his goodness and truthfulness and obedience would have been a burden to her but for the relief I furnished in the other direction.” If that experience feels a little familiar, let us remind you that Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, May 13, 2018, and Parnassus can help you pay Mom back for all the “relief” she put up with from you. Read the rest of this entry »

Shop Dogs Conduct Annual Employee Reviews in Preparation for Independent Bookstore Day

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Hello, everyone. I, Opie, boss-dog of the shop dogs here at Parnassus Books, would like to thank you for joining me for this important business discussion. Let’s begin by having this year’s canine staff performance review, so that all of our four-legged booksellers can get their game in top form before this Saturday’s big event, Independent Bookstore Day. Read the rest of this entry »