Go Ahead and Learn This Writer’s Name: Smith Henderson

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photo by Rebecca Calavan

Photo by Rebecca Calavan

If you’ll indulge a goofy metaphor for a moment: Imagine a bunch of books are at a party. All the novels by famous and established authors are mingling in the center of the room, air-kissing and whatnot. First novels, when they arrive at a party like this, often linger near the door or find a seat by the wall or nervously stir a cocktail, waiting to be noticed. But this first novel is different. It walks into the party, changes the music, grabs the host’s girlfriend, and swipes a bottle of booze right off the bar, leaving all the other books wondering, “Who was that?” That was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning the Ropes: A Shop Pup’s First Day on the Job

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IMG_8252 Hi. It’s me, Opie, the dog of the store manager. I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Eleanor Roosevelt. ^ That’s her. She used to be the “special correspondent” of our shop dog team, but now that she’s not a baby anymore, it’s finally time for her to start work at the store. That’s where I come in. As senior store-hound, it’s my job to teach the junior store-hound how everything works. Here’s how the first day went. Read the rest of this entry »

Realistic YA Fiction Is Here to Stay (Then Again, It Never Went Away)

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As the manager of our books for young readers section, I could not be more delighted with all the ink being devoted lately to the topic of young adult fiction. Specifically, I’m thrilled at the focus on contemporary realistic YA books. One of our favorite authors, John Green, has been widely credited for this surge in demand for stories that don’t involve dystopias, zombies, or vampires. The only part of this flurry of attention I take issue with is the idea that realistic fiction for young readers is “new.” (See, for example, “How Reality Became the Hot New Thing in YA.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Planning Ahead

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Okay, okay, I know I said I was retreating from the book reports, but all I meant was that I was freeing myself from my own sense of obligation. I’ll still write them when there’s a book I want to talk about, which happens to be the case. Read the rest of this entry »

Ready to Ditch Your Day Job? Author Tracy Barrett Offers Some Advice

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photo by Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash

It’s hard to beat the excitement of a book launch party at Parnassus when the author is a member of the Nashville community. While plenty of folks in this town and beyond know her as “Dr. Barrett” — their Italian professor at Vanderbilt — we know Tracy Barrett as an author, and we’re thrilled to be hosting the launch event for her new novel, The Stepsister’s Tale. Barrett (who holds a Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature — smartypants) is the author of both contemporary and historical fiction and nonfiction for middle-grade and YA audiences. Here, she talks with Musing about how she made the brave move to leave teaching behind and transition to a full-time writing career. Read the rest of this entry »

How This Indie Bookstore Stocks Its Shelves (Algorithm-Free)

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Did you see Stephen Marche’s recent blog post for Esquire — How to quit Amazon and shop in an actual bookstore (and why you damn well should)? We did, and we couldn’t agree more:

A good bookstore isn’t just a place to buy books. The really good ones are bespoke tailoring for your narrative impulse . . . The real problem with Amazon isn’t that it’s strong-arming Hachette; it’s that it leads readers to buy books that they’ve already heard about. When you pick out a summer novel for yourself online, you’re going to pick the book that everybody else is reading, almost automatically . . . A good seller in a bookstore is infinitely superior in every way to a personalization algorithm. Even by entering a bookstore, you’re faced with literally a thousand choices that you’ve never been faced with before. Somewhere in there is something that’s entirely fresh to you, and will reward your soul by exposure. That’s what good books do, and good bookstores, too. They let you step out of your algorithm.

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David Sedaris: “I’d rather go to an actual shop. I want beauty in my life. I want charm.”

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Photo by Hugh Hamrick

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, the latest essay collection from humorist David Sedaris, is now out in paperback. As we stacked it on the shelves last week, we remembered how much fun we had with Sedaris during his visit to Parnassus last year. We decided it was time to catch up with one of our very favorite authors. Read the rest of this entry »