Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's On My Mind: random thoughts occupying my Summer Hours

I’m carrying on with my summer hours - I haven’t posted since Sunday, and I haven’t really had time to compose full-length reactions to a few things I’ve read about recently, so this post will be a bit of a potpourri.

I’ll begin with a personal update, in case you missed it on Facebook or Twitter on Monday: I do believe the Shoulder Saga has come to an end! I originally dislocated my right shoulder just over a year ago, on June 25, 2010; I got it fixed five months ago, on January 21. I had a follow-up appointment with the orthopedist on June 27, and he “graduated” me - my shoulder is Officially Healed. He did an excellent job with the surgery, as did the physical-therapy team with the post-surgical rehab - and I sincerely hope I never have to see any of them again! (However, if you’re in the western San Fernando Valley or eastern Ventura County and need an orthopedic specialist, let me know - I’ve got some recommendations.)

So I won’t have my shoulder to talk about any more, but I always like to talk about blogging and those who practice it - I think a lot of bloggers do, actually. Kim Tracy Prince, who’s been doing this for almost seven years now, had a lot to say about it in a piece she titled “The Cranky Veteran Post.” (I’ve already shared this link on both Facebook and Twitter, but I think it’s a must-read if you’ve been doing this for any length of time.) She’s seen a lot of changes in the blogosphere during that time, and grown increasingly frustrated by a sense that her own place in it doesn't seem to change, while newer blogs with different priorities jump to the forefront.
“I’m a veteran blogger in a time when blogging for a year is considered an accomplishment...I’ve been blogging for seven years, since before brands gave a crap about sending free stuff to bloggers, or inviting bloggers to parties, or sending bloggers on free trips to Kenya. Every so often I bitch about this and I write about how I need to get back to my roots and blog for the same reasons I started blogging in the first place: to tell the stories of my life as a parent. And since I’ve embraced that 'Parent' is one of my many personalities, this blog has become so much more than a 'Mommy Blog.' When people ask me what kind of blogger I am, I’ve been giving a long-winded awkward answer that essentially means 'I like to write about what I think about stuff.' 
"...As the years have progressed and billions of newbies have thrown their hats into the ring and become far more popular than I – more comments, more subscribers, more traffic, more gigs, more cool trips, more free shit, better and higher profile jobs – whether or not they are actually good writers – I have watched and worked and noticed, and their recognition as being SO AWESOME eventually builds up on me and makes me fume. 
"...The thing is, I work hard. I’m good at this. I’ve never considered giving it up. It’s a part of me. But the landscape is so different now. 'Success' in media has always required serious hustle and some kind of unidentifiable X factor. One can suggest that I adapt to keep up with the times, but I really don’t have a desire to change the format, or focus on a niche, or comment on 75 blogs a day, or attend every conference and give out my card and a piece of candy to everyone I see. I’m not going to quit drinking, or quit taking drugs, or describe my post partum depression or my divorce in great detail, or publish photographs of my vagina, or reveal that I am a man.”
Kim’s one of the “original” Mom Bloggers, but I’m pretty sure her feelings aren’t unique to that particular category. I’ve had them myself, and even if you don’t want to own up to it, you probably have too. The landscape HAS changed, and it’s hard to know how to find one’s place in it sometimes. It’s also hard to decide that you want to keep doing it your own way and not play by the new rules, and it can be hard to accept that such a decision means that you may not find yourself with all that much of a place. I think getting to that acceptance is probably part of attaining blogger maturity...and I’m still not very mature sometimes.

Blogging’s not the only landscape that’s changing; those of us who focus our blogging on books are well aware of the struggles in that particular business these days - in publishing, in bookselling, and in promotion and finding readers. Independent bookstores are particularly challenged, and a recent New York Times article discussed some that have begun charging for author events. There’s never been a guarantee that these events would generate enough sales to offset their costs, but some stores have lost sales when attendees browse their stock, make lists of the books they want - and then order them from Amazon (sometimes before they leave the store!). Marie at The Boston Bibliophile has a thoughtful take on this.

I’m not sure most of us, as readers and bookstore customers, can address the “should” of bookstores charging admission to their events; we can only answer for ourselves whether we’d pay, or make a required purchase, to attend them. The discussion, in some ways, reminds me of paying for autographs at fan events like Comic-Con. It’s common practice at these events to have to buy admission tickets and then pay separately for each autograph you want (usually you have to buy a photo to get signed). It's not perfectly analgous, since that money usually goes directly to the "celebrity" signer and not the Con, but I see similarities - and I'd much rather be required to purchase a book than someone's publicity photo!

Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena occasionally hosts off-site author events which require purchase of a ticket - it's usually the price of the author's newest hardcover, which is included. But they also host many in-store readings at no charge and with no purchase required - they don't even mind if you bring in a book you already have (I've done it), and there's usually no limit on the number or type of items signed unless the author has imposed one. However, Vroman's does make backlist books available for purchase as well as the new one the author's promoting at the event, and I'll almost always buy something while I'm there.

Having said all that, I'd pay a cover charge ($5 or so) to attend an author event, but then I probably wouldn't attend unless I already knew the author's work and felt the event would be worth the money.

These are a few of the things occupying my brain’s summer hours - what’s on your mind lately?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Salon: Summer Hours

The Sunday Salon.com

Shortly after returning home from BEA, I remember seeing something about the start of "summer hours" mentioned in reference to the publishing industry.

I'm not sure exactly which "hours" those are, but I did have a job once where we observed "summer flex-time" for several years - employees could work 9-hour days Monday-Thursday and leave at noon on Friday. I was never able to partake, because my child-care arrangements at the time didn't allow for the extended workday four days a week (but as an aside, flextime is a scheduling option that employers should offer year-round, not just in the summer), but I'm inferring that publishers' "summer hours" are something similar - at least the "leave early on Fridays" part, anyway.

I think I've unofficially slipped into "summer hours" in my blogging recently, as I've only managed to post three times in the past week. Part of the lag is due to reviews that I've written but can't post here yet, but there are a couple of other reasons as well. For one, I'm trying to set aside reading time every weekend, and that means I'm not using that time for writing. For another, my own "summer hours" are including increased family-chauffeur duty, and time spent driving isn't available for reading or writing (yes, I know about audiobooks; no I really haven't taken that leap yet.) However, the biggest reason is that I'm just not spilling over with things to say right now - inspiration really only bit me once last week (but granted, it bit pretty hard).

Perhaps it's a sign of where I am as a blogger now, but I think I'm going to embrace the "summer hours" philosophy here and be a little more casual in my posting for a while. Depending on what's going on, posting activity may be near-daily some weeks, and spotty in others. At this point, however, I'm planning to post reviews as I can, and to keep Sunday Salon posts as a constant (and may actually have more to say on Sundays when I post less the week before - who knows?).

So now that I've told you that, you tell me:

  • Will you be taking any breaks from blogging during the summer?
  • What are you excited about reading this summer?
  • Do you listed to audiobooks while driving? Any recommendations for someone who's thinking of giving them a try?

Reviews posted since last report:

Upcoming reviews, via Shelf Awareness for Readers:
Love Child: A Novel, by Sheila Kohler
Kindred Spirits, by Sarah Strohmeyer

New to TBR:

Purchased yesterday, which was Save Bookstores Day:
Dear American Airlines: A Novel, by Jonathan Miles (rescued from the Remainders table)
My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel by Robin Oliveira (from the wish list)
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel by Natasha Solomons (also from the wish list)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to Offend Moms, Non-Moms, Housewives, Women over 50, Teens, & Genre Readers in a Single Sentence

Thanks to Serena for tweeting the link to this item, which got under a large expanse of book-blogger skin on Twitter yesterday, and to Sassymonkey for the tweet that inspired this post’s title.

Daniela Hurezanu shared some not-very-favorable impressions of last month’s Book Expo America on the website for Santa Cruz Weekly - but she provoked some not-very-favorable reactions with her characterization of the book bloggers she met there:
“BEA is a major event for the publishing industry also because there are many other concurrent events that are organized around it. Such an event was the Book Blogger Convention, which took place the day after BEA ended. Book blogging has become a subculture whose members are mostly women between 20 and 50 years old, often known as ‘mommy bloggers’ because they are housewives who blog about romance novels, horror/vampire stories and paranormal novels. Many of them have hundreds of followers on Twitter, and the result is that they have the power to establish new trends. And the publishing industry has started to take them seriously. They receive review copies from publicists, and the authors court them assiduously.

“At the Book Bloggers reception I met many girls in their early twenties who already have hundreds of followers on Twitter. As far as I could tell, I was the only person at the convention who doesn’t tweet. All these 20-year-old bloggers form a community that is replacing the traditional book reviewers; they know each other, read each other’s blogs and blog about the same books. So, in a paradoxical way, this subculture is even more limited in its interests than the mainstream media. Though, in theory, the Internet is a space of infinite diversity, in practice many communities reproduce the patterns that exist outside cyberspace. The main difference between the new book bloggers and the old book reviewers is that the former don’t have any literary ‘prejudices.’ They are children of pop culture and the mass media, and have transferred their interests onto the realm of books. Their electronic chatter will soon cover whatever is left of book reviewing.”
To be fair, there are a couple of things about book bloggers that Hurezanu didn't get entirely wrong:

“...they have the power to establish new trends. And the publishing industry has started to take them seriously. They receive review copies from publicists, and the authors court them assiduously." That was certainly borne out by the strong industry presence at Book Blogger Con.

And she’s not completely off-point in noting that “All these...bloggers form a community that is replacing the traditional book reviewers.” I’m not sure that’s accurate across the board, but in some cases, book bloggers have stepped up to discuss book genres that "traditional" reviewers have traditionally ignored; in others, we’re gaining acceptance among those more traditional reviewers.

But this is where she undermined her case and provoked a Twitterstorm:

“Book blogging has become a subculture whose members are mostly women between 20 and 50 years old, often known as ‘mommy bloggers’ because they are housewives who blog about romance novels, horror/vampire stories and paranormal novels.”

To begin with, Hurezanu should be made aware that while there are women who blog about their kids and their lives (but maybe not their books), many of them take exception to being called “mommy bloggers.” There are also many women who blog about books but do not have children, particularly in the “20-year-old” age bracket she mentions, and they - quite reasonably - take exception to the term “mommy bloggers” too. There are women with blogs (and kids) who blog about books (or other topics) and not about their kids; they’ve made a choice not to be “mommy bloggers,” and so they have their own reasons for taking exception to the term. And even among those women with blogs who blog about books, kids, and whatever else comes to mind, there can be some reluctance to accept the “mommy blogger” label. Being a mom with a blog does not necessarily make you a “mommy blogger.” (But it might make you a Mother(s) of Intention.)

In many circles, including some of those where it might seem to fit, “mommy blogger” is viewed as a belittling, pejorative label - much like “housewife,” come to think of it, but Jennifer has addressed that particular word choice already. It’s a term that can raise hackles even when it is applicable - and in describing the attendees of Book Blogger Con, it’s largely not. And I say this as a book blogger who has “swum in the shallows of the mom-blogger pool” for nearly three years, and has seen less overlap in the spheres than you might expect.

In a recent e-mail conversation, a friend called me a “matriarch of book blogging” - and although she acknowledged it was an odd choice of word, she figured I’d know what she meant.

I think I do. Having been at this for over four years now, I’m pretty sure I’ve entered the ranks of the “elders” of the book-blogging community. While there are blogs younger than mine that have far surpassed mine’s profile and popularity numbers-wise, this one has grown slowly and stayed on a pretty steady course, and I’d like to think it’s built up a fair amount of credibility along the way.

It’s also apt in terms of my own age, not just the blog’s, and that was something that resonated with me during BEA week. I am emphatically not a 20-something. I was undoubtedly one of the older bloggers there, and frequently I was the oldest member of any group I was with. I may have been the only one who noticed, and even if I’m wrong about that, I didn’t get the impression that anyone else particularly cared even if they did notice.

I’ve been a mom for almost 27 years, verging on 60% of my life - so yes, “matriarch” applies to me in more ways than one. True, I’m one blogger’s mother, but when it comes to blogging, we meet as peers. And many of my younger blogging friends have more solid, varied experience - as bloggers, as readers, as writers, as dwellers in the social-media landscape - than I do. Brought together by common interests, we learn and share on a mostly-level field where age really doesn’t seem to be anything but a number, and where there's no educational or professional hierarchy.

And while we do broadly share an interest in books, there are definitely specific differences. There are certainly book bloggers - their age and marital status being immaterial to their reading preferences - who prefer to read and talk about “romance novels, horror/vampire stories and paranormal novels.” I don’t happen to be one of them myself, and I know plenty of others who aren’t either. There are book bloggers whose discussions of literary fiction, nonfiction, classics, and more attract strong followings - and those bloggers were present at Book Blogger Con. It wasn’t hard to find them and talk with them. We are a community of bloggers, but that does not mean we’re a monolith; there’s lots of variation within that community, and a far wider range of interests than Ms. Hurezanu seems to realize. And in my observation, the same applies to mom bloggers, whether or not they are also book bloggers.

Stereotypes often have a grain of truth in them, and like it or not, Hurezanu’s book-blogger stereotype isn't completely fictional. But that truth only applies to a grain-sized portion and should not be extrapolated to the whole - that's when it becomes a stereotype. Speaking as a mother, and a matriarch, I think there’s a lesson here: generalizing can be erroneous, and occasionally dangerous...particularly when it gets out on Twitter.

I’d like to reinforce that lesson with a few words from the Literate Housewife:
“We may now be considered media as a result of the digital age, but we began as readers who love all things books. If we all lived in the same neighborhood, we’d have one hell of an awesome book club. We don’t. Instead, we meet online. We discuss things on Twitter. We consume books. We love them. We support publishers large and small. We spend our money in local bookstores as well as at larger chains. We frequent public libraries. We are not girls. In fact, some of the best among us are men. We are in our teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. In that I could even be wrong. Why shouldn’t there be book bloggers in their 70s and 80s? I think every single one of us would agree that we’ll stop reading when we’re dead. Even then, heaven will be packed full of books.”
And it sounds like Ms. Hurezanu is fighting learning one other lesson, but she said it herself: The publishing world is taking book bloggers seriously. It's time she, and other traditionalists, did too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Talk: *Anthropology of an American Girl*, by Hilary Thayer Hamann (TLC Book Tour)

Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel
Hilary Thayer Hamann (Facebook) (Twitter)
Spiegel & Grau (2010), Edition: Revised, Hardcover (ISBN 9780385527149 / 0385527144)
Fiction, 624 pages
Source: Publisher, via TLC Book Tours in support of the paperback release
Reason for Reading: blog tour, personal wishlist

Opening lines: “Kate turned to check the darkening clouds and the white arc of her throat looked long like the neck of a preening swan. We pedaled past the mansions on Lily Pond Lane and the sky set down, resting its gravid belly against the earth.

“‘Hurry,’ I heard her call through the clack of spokes. ‘Rain’s coming.’

“She rode faster, and I did also, though I liked the rain and I felt grateful for the changes it wrought. Nothing is worse than the mixture of boredom and anticipation, the way the two twist together, breeding malcontentedly. I opened my mouth to the mist, trapping some of the raindrops that were just forming, and I could feel the membranes pop as I passed, which was sad, like breaking a spider’s web. Sometimes you can’t help but destroy the intricate things in life.”

Book description, via the publisher’s website

This is what it’s like to be a high-school-age girl.
To forsake the boyfriend you once adored.
To meet the love of your life, who just happens to be your teacher.
To discover for the first time the power of your body and mind.

This is what it’s like to be a college-age woman.
To live through heartbreak.
To suffer the consequences of your choices.
To depend on others for survival but to have no one to trust but yourself.

This is Anthropology of an American Girl.
A literary sensation, this extraordinarily candid novel about the experience of growing up female in America will strike a nerve in readers of all ages.
Comments: Originally self-published several years ago, Hilary Thayer Hamann’s first (and thus far, only) novel, Anthropology of an American Girl, caught my attention upon its 2010 hardcover publication, and I jumped at the chance to read it for this tour.

Hamann’s personal biography, according to her website, shares a number of details with that of her "American Girl," Eveline (Evie) Auerbach. “...(B)orn and raised in New York. Her parents divorced when she was three and she was shuttled between their respective homes in the Hamptons and the Bronx. She attended Sag Harbor Elementary School, East Hampton High School, and New York University...She was actively involved in the community theater of the East End from age 9 until age 19, participating in the productions of at least 30 plays, including several at Guild Hall...”

Hamann’s bio doesn’t include whether her high-school boyfriend was a gifted musician with a drug problem; whether her first, and defining, love was a drama coach/professional boxer several years older than she was; or whether she was once engaged to a yuppie investment banker who treated her as a prize. While there are autobiographical elements, Anthropology... IS a novel, so the reader hopes that a good chunk of the story really is fiction. Evie’s story should be her own.

And while it is her own, at the same time, Evie’s story isn’t particularly unique - and that’s what makes it resonate. The struggle to define oneself as one emerges into adulthood is pretty universal, and can be especially challenging for young women who have defined themselves in relation to men first. Young love affairs, particularly those which are truncated for one reason or another, have a tendency to assume a consuming, almost tragic, importance in one’s personal history. As she works toward becoming herself as a student, an artist, a friend, and an individual, Evie continues to see herself in terms of her relationship with Harrison Rourke.

A reader’s response to the relationship between Evie and Rourke will probably affect her response to the novel as a whole...and I admit I had issues with it. Part of that comes from my own objections to significant age differences: this relationship starts when Rourke is in his mid-twenties and Evie is seventeen - and at those ages, the difference is significant. (The fact that Rourke was casually dating Evie’s best friend Kate at the time - also a high-school student - is pretty well glossed over, but I think that’s partly a narrative choice in keeping with the self-absorption of an adolescent first-person narrator.) The heightened intensity and romanticizing of the relationship is in character, but it bothered me in part because, as a result of it, I never felt I got a good sense of who Rourke was as a character. I didn’t feel that Hamann made the relationship as profound to me as it clearly was to Evie; I just couldn’t see it as much more than strong attraction. Evie seems to see herself as an object of attraction quite frequently, actually, and that got under my skin as well. (While that may well be a legitimate part of her work to define herself, I’ve rarely seen myself that way and just can’t relate to it, so please be aware that’s strictly a personal reaction.)

Despite all that, I really did like Evie as a character overall, and I found some of the supporting characters quite appealing, particularly Evie’s screwed-up high-school boyfriend Jack and Rourke’s friend Rob Cirillo, the MBA with “family” ties in New Jersey. The story spans the time frame from 1978 to 1984, a period when I was roughly the same age as Evie, which gave my reading of it a specific context and made many of the references click; I thought Hamann’s evocation of time and place was quite effective. The novel is rather sprawling and wanders a bit in the middle; I liked the first and last sections best, and frankly, the whole thing is probably longer than it needs to be. The writing in some places displays some first-novel self-consciousness, but it includes some insightful observations and authentic-sounding dialogue in others.

Anthropology of an American Girl is an absorbing, affecting, imperfect, convention-tweaking coming-of-age novel, and despite its length, it’s worth sticking with to the end - and it will stick with you after that, whether you love it or hate it. While in the midst of reading it, I had both reactions...more than once. But in the end, I think I’m coming down on the “love” side.

Rating: 4/5
Other stops on this TLC Book Tour:

Monday, June 6th: Book Snob
Wednesday, June 8th: A Library of My Own
Friday, June 10th: Well Read Wife
Thursday, June 16th: BookNAround
Monday, June 20th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Monday, June 27th: Books Like Breathing
Thursday, June 30th: The Book Faery Reviews
Wednesday, July 6th: Caribousmom
Friday, July 8th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, July 13th: Teresa’s Reading Corner

Shop Indie Bookstores

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Salon: The Reader's Digest Edition

The Sunday Salon.com

I've been suffering from a case of "can't keep up with anything" this week, so my Salon discussion today is largely a recap of what I have managed to keep up with (with links, in case you haven't been able to keep up either!).

** I did manage to commit to some weekend reading time last Sunday, and I plan to do it again today. While my husband spends part of Father's Day at the movies with his daughter (a second viewing of X-Men: First Class for him, first time for her), I'll be camped out in my reading chair at home, continuing to work my way through Anthropology of an American Girl (I'm in the last third now, but my review date is Wednesday, so time is of the essence!).The real trick will be continuing to D.E.A.R. on weekends when I don't have a 600-pager in my hands, and next Sunday will be the first test of that!

** I'm hoping that we'll be scheduling some D.E.A.R. time during the Great (California Book Bloggers) Escape, which I'm helping to plan for late September! You don't have to be a California book blogger to join us, but we are "escaping" to somewhere within the state, so you do have to be willing and able to travel here! We have a form you can complete if you think you're interested in going - no commitment! - and hope to announce more details during the next couple of weeks!

** I'm giving away a Lifetime Membership to LibraryThing, but before you jump to the entry form, I hope you'll read my love letter to LT. And if you love LT too, please share some of your favorite features in the comments.

** The "Enlightenment for Readers" edition of the Shelf Awareness newsletter launched on Friday, and will be coming to your inbox twice a week with book news and reviews of each week's 25 best new books - subscribe via e-mail (it's free!) so you don't miss anything! (Disclosure: I am a contracted reviewer for the Readers edition of SA.)

One more thing to tell you: The 3 R's Blog now has a Facebook page. I hope you'll Like it!

Reviews since last report
A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller Jr. (Faith and Fiction Roundtable)

Upcoming reviews
Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones (EDIWTB Book Club)
Love Child: A Novel, by Sheila Kohler
Kindred Spirits, by Sarah Strohmeyer

Where You Left Me, by Jennifer Gardner Trulson

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Shelf Awareness READERS' ISSUE is here!

You may have heard of Shelf Awareness, the daily e-mail newsletter with the tagline "Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade," but thought it wasn't for you because...well, you're not in the "book trade."

Well, think again. As of today, that's changed.

Today, Shelf Awareness launches its new "Readers Edition." It will come to you twice each week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

Editor Bethanne Patrick (@TheBookMaven) promises that each edition of the Readers' Shelf will bring you

"...a dozen or so book reviews, along with some content from the daily version of Shelf Awareness that will boost your reading IQ, new consumer-focused content like 'Book Candy' and more readerly goodies.

...Each week we will share the 25 best books available to you right now (emphasis added), chosen by our industry insiders, including reviews editor Marilyn Dahl and children's editor Jennifer M. Brown...You'll find literary fiction, commercial fiction, biographies and memoirs, cookbooks, YA novels, children's books and more. Our terrific corps of reviewers includes booksellers, critics, librarians and authors. In each issue we'll also feature a 'Starred Review,' highlighting an especially worthy title."
The reviews in the Readers' Shelf are for books you can go out and get today. The very first Starred Review is for Kate Christensen's latest novel The Astral, of which the reviewer says:

Discover: The best exploration of a middle-aged man’s psyche since Bellow, all the more brilliant for having been written by a woman.
Here's a sampling of some of the other reviews in the inaugural issue:

  • Mystery/Thriller: 
Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell, reviewed by K.C. Martin, blogger at The Readable Feast
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, reviewed by Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd
  • Nonfiction:
Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex by Erica Jong (editor), reviewed by Rebecca Joines Schinsky, The Book Lady's Blog
  • Biography/Memoir:
I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl by Kelle Groom, reviewed by Kristen Galles, blogger at Book Club Classics
  • Current Events & Issues:
Allah, Liberty and Love by Irshad Manji, reviewed by Hannah Caulkins, blogger at Unpunished Vice
As you can see, book bloggers are part of the Readers' Shelf...and I am excited to be one of them! (I don't have any reviews in the first issue, but as the books I've reviewed for SA approach their publication dates, I hope you'll start seeing them there. And look for other names you may know, too!)

Subscribers to the daily trade edition of Shelf Awareness will automatically receive the new Readers' Shelf edition in their e-mail - and if you blog about books, you are associated with the "book trade" and should be reading the trade edition already.

And if you just love to read and want a great source of book news and reviews, sign up now for your free e-mail subscription to Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers! You'll be glad you did - although your book budget and TBR pile may not be.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things to Know (and Love) About LibraryThing

Inspired by Wallace’s post “How to Get the Most Out of GoodReads” (and a follow-up Twitter discussion with her), I thought I’d tackle my preferred online book site, LibraryThing, in a similar vein. I hope it will be at least half as useful as her GR guide is!

I have a GoodReads account. I have friends on GoodReads through that account. They may wonder why they see so few updates from me there... Here’s why.

When I decided that I wanted to keep track of my books in an online location that wasn’t my blog, I set up accounts on both GoodReads and LibraryThing, figuring I’d try them both and see which worked better for me. It didn’t take me long to determine that, for my goals, LibraryThing was the better choice.
LT vs. GR (getting this out of the way first!)
There are two main reasons I’ve heard from people to explain why they choose GoodReads over LibraryThing; “LibraryThing’s not free” and “LibraryThing isn’t social.” Both are partially true.

LibraryThing accounts are free if you list less than 200 books. That’s insufficient for most avidly-reading, book-blogging types, so LT also offers unlimited listing for $10 per year or $25 lifetime. I have the lifetime membership and it’s been totally worth it. I’ve even done a few gift-membership giveaways here to bring new members into the fold (and it just might be time for another one - see below!).

LT does allow users to add friends and follow “interesting libraries,” and you can see what those contacts are doing via the “connection news” page linked to your profile, but its social functions are admittedly less robust than GoodReads. There are no updates via e-mail, so you actually have to visit the LT site to keep up with your friends there. However, LT does have strong forums and discussion groups; in fact, I know of a few book bloggers who got into blogging in the first place via their activity on the LT boards.
For me, though, the primary reason for using LibraryThing is how easily it lets me catalog my books. Adding books by ISBN is usually most efficient (unless you mis-type their numbers as frequently as I do), but LT will search its many (700+) sources for matches based on ISBN, title, author, or other identifying criteria - and if it can’t find one, you can add the book manually. Once it’s in, the book will automatically be added to a “collection” folder called “Your library,” but you can add it to as many other “collections” as you like. Some collections are defaults (Your library, To Read, Currently reading, Wishlist, and Favorites), but you can create additional collections for your own purposes - for example, I have set up collections for Review Copies and E-books. 

You can further refine how you identify the books within those collections by using tags. Tags are completely user-defined and are sortable and searchable, whether within a single collection or across all of them. Since tags existed on LT prior to collections, I have some redundancies in my own library, but that’s avoidable (and fixable if I ever get around to it). My most-used tags are the source of a book (ARC, book tour), ratings, genre, and the year I reviewed it.

Speaking of ratings, I love the fact that LT’s system allows for half-stars. However, since my own system includes quarter-ratings, I use a tag to refine the rating of a book that falls in between (such as 3.75/5). Collections can be sorted on star ratings. Collections can be sorted on any display field, actually, and can be displayed up to five different ways, styled according to your preference. (Potentially overwhelming options - a blessing of LibraryThing, or another reason to use another site?)

Rating, Reviewing, and Interacting
If you review and/or rate the books you read on your blog, you can easily add that information to your LibraryThing. As already mentioned, books can be rated on a 0 to 5-star scale that functions with half-stars. You can copy-and-paste part or all of your blog review on your LT record for the book, just link back to it, or write a separate review specifically for LT; the text area for reviews is flexibly sized and can accommodate wordiness. You can choose to have links to your LT reviews automatically posted on Twitter and/or Facebook on an per-book basis. (I do this; my aunt, who rarely gets around to reading my blog, finds most of my reviews this way via Facebook, and now I’ve become a source for her book club.)

Posting your own ratings and reviews will help LT’s recommendations algorithm work more effectively in making book suggestions for you; you can also post your own recommendations in “if you liked this, try that” style on any book’s record.

As I mentioned, LT isn’t as overtly social as GoodReads, but it is a community and there are a variety of ways to participate, including editing and updating book information. Most fields in a book’s record can be edited, including publication-related data (note to BookCrossers: there’s an available field for BCID!). In addition, you can add all sorts of interesting facts and trivia related to a book - order in a series, names of significant places and characters, awards, quotes, alternate titles and more - in its Common Knowledge section.

LibraryThing does fall short in easily finding and adding “friends,” but it can be done. Often, however, it’s in a roundabout manner, such as finding a link to someone’s LT profile elsewhere, like on of the discussion groups or via a widget on their blog; unlike more socially-oriented sites, there’s no “search your address book” utility to find connections the site added a "friend finder" that connects with Facebook and Twitter in late 2011. I don’t really do much on the LT boards myself, but they seem to be the hub of the site’s social activity.
Fun Stuff, On- and Off-site
The most popular place on LibraryThing, besides the discussion groups, may well be the Early Reviewers Program page, where members can request free books to review on LibraryThing (in advance/galley, finished, and e-book formats). The books are awarded on a lottery system, but not completely at random. LT does monitor recipients to confirm that a review gets posted; they don’t care whether you love or hate the book, just that you post your thoughts about it. (You can also post them on your blog or anywhere else, but LibraryThing will only count the posting on LibraryThing.) Not reviewing books received through LTER will reduce your chances of having future LTER requests granted. 

A LibraryThing user’s Statistics and Memes page is a great source of entertainment (and potential blog-post fodder). In addition to standard, useful number-crunching - total books, total tags, bar graphs of review dates and ratings - you can get information on the pages, dimensions, and weight of your books (my catalog would fill 2.4 bathtubs and is 0.09 the weight of an elephant); identify all the series in your library; see how your books break down between male/female and alive/dead authors; and more.

One of the first bookmarks I added to my iPhone was my LibraryThing page; it allows me to consult my wishlist while browsing a bookstore and, in theory, I’ll never buy a book I already own again (that problem was what made me decide to start cataloging my books in the first place). LibraryThing does not yet have a full-scale smartphone app (!), and the app it does have is too simplified to be of much use (for me, anyway), so the bookmark is the way to go, for now. However, LT’s “Local Books” app, driven by the community-sourced LibraryThing Local pages, is a handy (and free!) app for iPhone and Android phones that helps you find bookstores, libraries, and bookish events near wherever you are.

I know there are a few LT fans who read The 3 R’s - please share any of your own tips, suggestions, and favorite features in the comments! And if you have questions about LibraryThing that aren’t addressed here, please ask, and I’ll find out what I can!

Want to give LibraryThing a try? Have a lifetime membership on me - enter the giveaway! This giveaway is open worldwide (or to any country where you can access the site), and entries will be accepted for two weeks (closing Wednesday, June 29).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

At the movies: *Super 8*

Mystery/thriller/sci-fi, 2011
Paramount Pictures / Amblin Entertainment / Bad Robot

Plot summary, via IMDb:
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined.
I’ve read about lots of filmmakers who started making movies on their parents’ equipment when they were just kids. If J.J. Abrams - and Steven Spielberg - weren’t a couple of those kids themselves, they must have hung around with some who were, because the group of middle-school kids shooting their own zombie movie for an amateur-film contest feels strongly authentic.

“Authenticity” may seem like a strange adjective to apply to a movie that draws so heavily from genre influences, but it's what resonated for me about Super 8. For one thing, Abrams has both knowledge of and clear affection for the genres he’s working with, and that keeps the film out of self-referential, campy territory. (Note that I appreciate self-referential campiness in its place, but I also appreciate that this movie was not its place.)

The film’s cast, which includes some familiar faces in the “Hey! It’s That Guy!” sense but no real household names, enhances the authenticity. The core of that cast is the group of young actors playing the middle-school-aged filmmakers who are in the wrong place at the wrong time when a train derails just outside their town, and in my opinion, they may be the best group of young actors to carry a film since Stand By Me. They’re not cutesy or smart-alecky or precocious - they’re kids.

And they are, quite convincingly, kids in 1979. That was an element that resonated quite strongly with both my husband and me. We were just a little older than the kids in Super 8 in 1979 ourselves, and the period and setting felt just right to us. I knew those houses, even the one from the seedier end of town; I knew the freedom of riding around on my bike (without a helmet!). The details weren’t emphasized to the point of hyper-awareness of the era, and there wasn’t an overabundance of pop-culture references aside from some of the soundtrack choices - it’s not That 70’s Movie - but they felt like they belonged. (There's an excellent commentary on NPR's Monkey See blog that discusses the knowing use of references in this movie better than I have here.)

The genre elements that propel Super 8 are employed well. There’s real suspense generating real shocks, and while I was sometimes able to anticipate where the story was going, I never felt let down by that. The mystery at the core of the story is quite obviously not drawn from real life, but what happens to the characters around that mystery sells it, and that’s what gave the movie that sense of authenticity for me.

Super 8 is a real-feeling movie about a mostly-unreal situation. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, and I really enjoyed what it delivered. I’d see it again. And if you decide to see it yourself, be sure not to leave before the credits; stay to see the Super-8 zombie movie those kids made for the film contest.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

California Book Bloggers: See You in September?

I’ve had a couple of small disappointments in my social calendar - the one that blends my online social-media life with my admittedly sparse offline social life - this year. I didn’t make it to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April, which has been the site of some great book-blogger meet-ups for the last couple of years (although I’ve heard hardly anyone else made it either, so that reduced any sense of loss). And while I loved seeing book bloggers from all over the country while at Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention last month, not many of my fellow West Coasters made the trip to New York City this year.

Conversations on the theme “We need to have a California book-blogger get-together!” started on Twitter the night I returned from New York. They moved to e-mail soon after, and serious planning is just getting started.

There aren’t many details to report yet, but here’s what Amy, Danielle, Jill (Softdrink), Wallace and I have been talking about:
We propose The Great (California Book Bloggers) Escape to be held one weekend in mid-to-late September 2011. The likely location is the Santa Ynez Valley, north of Santa Barbara, probably in or near Solvang.

The location was chosen because it’s fairly central, but not too remote. The tentative plan is to kick off on Friday evening and end on Sunday. Activities are still being discussed, but are sure to include social time and bookstore outings, as well as a DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) hour or two.

As I said, more details will follow - we’re still getting information together - but at this point we’d like to get a feel for interest. If you’re a California-based book blogger, author, or other bookish person, there’s a form below for you to let us know if the California Book Bloggers Retreat sounds good to you. Your information will only be shared with the Retreat planning team, and completing this form is NOT a commitment to attending - so if you like the idea but aren’t sure you’d be able to go, please fill it out anyway!

In addition to here, this form will also be posted at:

- but it’s only necessary to complete it once!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Talk: *Nerd Do Well,* by Simon Pegg

Gotham (2011), Hardcover (ISBN 1592406815 / 9781592406814)
Nonfiction/memoir (mostly), 368 pages
Source: ARC from publisher, via TLC Book Tours
Reason for reading: Blog tour, known writer (although not known for books), guilty-pleasure genre

Opening lines: “It was never my intention to write an autobiography. The very notion made me queasy. You see them congesting the bookshop shelves at Christmas. Rows of needy smiles, sad clowns and serious eyes, proclaiming faux-modest life stories, with titles such as This Is Me, or Why Me?, or Me, Me, Me.”*
Book description: Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: actor, comedian, writer and self-proclaimed supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having landed on the U.S. movie scene in the surprise cult hit Shaun of the Dead, his enduring appeal and rise to movie star with a dedicated following has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronic, but mostly just plain great.

From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with science fiction, his enduring friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up comedy which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his twelve-year-old classmates, Simon has always had a severe and dangerous case of the funnies.

Whether recounting his experience working as a lifeguard at the city pool, going to Comic-Con for the first time and confessing to Carrie Fisher that he used to kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep, or meeting and working with heroes that include Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino, Pegg offers a hilarious look at the journey to becoming an international superstar, dotted with a cast of memorable characters.
Comments: Those opening lines quoted above are an accurate description of the author’s feelings. When Simon Pegg was offered the opportunity to write his first book, he really hoped to write fiction about a suave, handsome superhero (named “Simon Pegg”) and his robotic butler/sidekick, and was disappointed that his publisher wanted something more real and personal. But he managed to get the book he wanted, too. The opening lines quoted above aren’t actually the lines that open the book. The real opening lines of this book are from the first installment of “Simon Pegg’s” adventures, and that story continues at intervals throughout Simon Pegg’s memoir. It’s a fun device that showcases the work Pegg is best known for.

I’ve enjoyed Simon Pegg’s performances in movies like Hot Fuzz, Paul, and Star Trek, and I knew he’d been involved in creating and writing a lot of the work he’s done. I also knew, largely via his Twitter feed (my husband’s a huge fan), that he was One Of Us - a proud card-carrying nerd. Other than that, I didn’t know much about him before I read this.

The nonfiction portions of Pegg’s book are more traditional autobiography than what we recognize as “memoir” these days, although they’re not presented in a strictly linear chronology and they’re mixed with observations and critiques of nerd-culture touchstones, most notably the Star Wars movies. As a graduate of drama school and a university theatre program, Pegg’s reflections on the production aspects of popular entertainment are well-thought-out and informed; I got the impression he’d shared long, intricate discussions with like-minded friends on some of the topics he analyzes here, as nerds tend to do. Pegg clearly enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about his early life and formative experiences; his affection for those who shaped his path - and those who continue to influence it - comes across. He's less chatty and more " just the facts" when it comes to the more recent stages of his career, and seems to know that when his stories begin to verge on name-dropping, it's time to wrap it up (although he does seem to retain genuine wonder at some of the names his own success has afforded him the opportunity to drop).

I call celebrity memoir my “guilty-pleasure genre,” but it’s much more pleasure and much less guilt when one of the things the celebrity in question is known for is writing (hey, scripts are writing too). Nerd Do Well is humorous and engaging throughout, occasionally poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny in spots; as nerds go, Simon Pegg has done well indeed. And I hope he’ll get the chance to continue writing the adventures of “Simon Pegg” and Canterbury the robotic butler; I’d definitely see that movie.

Rating: 3.5/5

A professional opinion with a similar verdict: Popdose at Kirkus Reviews

This book counts for the 2011 Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge and is eligible for nomination in the 2011 Indie Lit Awards (Biography/Memoir).

*All quotes are from an Advance Reader Copy (uncorrected proof) of this book and may have been changed in the final version.

Other stops on this TLC Book Tour:

Friday, June 3rd: GeekDad
Monday, June 6th: We Be Reading
Tuesday, June 7th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, June 8th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, June 9th: Lit and Life
Friday, June 10th: Nerds in Babeland
Tuesday, June 14th: HeGeekSheGeek
Wednesday, June 15th: Life in the Thumb
Thursday, June 16th: Simply Stacie
Friday, June 17th: GeekMom
Tuesday, June 21st: Total Fan Girl
Wednesday, June 22nd: A Library of My Own
Thursday, June 23rd: Well Read Wife
Friday, June 24th: Acting Balanced

Shop Indie Bookstores

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon: Time Commitments

The Sunday Salon.com

I am seriously considering committing a block of time every weekend - ideally, a couple of hours or so - to reading. And I think I need to commit to starting today.

As it stands now, there is a chunk of time many weekends that is dedicated to whatever book I'm reading at the time - my Saturday-morning "Starbucks hour." But there are weekends when it doesn't happen for one reason or another - I spend that hour with my sister instead of with my book, or I have other things planned for a Saturday morning and don't get that outing at all - and when it doesn't, I feel the loss.

One reason I enjoy participating in the semiannual 24-Hour Readathons is that they exist to provide built-in, committed reading time. And when I finish one - however many hours of reading I actually accomplish during it - I usually find myself thinking that I should have "mini-readathons" for myself on a regular basis. And then it stays in the back of my mind as one of the many "shoulds" I never act on.

This weekend, I started reading Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann for a TLC Book Tour. My scheduled review date is a week from Wednesday, and I'm barely 10% done with this 600-plus-page novel (in hardcover; this tour is to support the paperback release, which has a slightly lower page count). In order to meet my review commitment, I think it'll be essential to make a reading commitment. I have some plans for today already - we're going to the movies to see Super 8 this afternoon, we have last night's Doctor Who on the DVR to watch later, and I seriously have to do some cleaning around here - but I must, and I will, plan reading time as well. And I must, and I will, spend that reading time with my book, and not your blogs...I'm sorry it has to be that way, but I think you can understand why.

This is actually my last tour commitment for a while, since I'm stepping away from those in order to meet my new commitment to two reviews a month for Shelf Awareness' new, biweekly "Enlightenment for Readers" edition (launching this week!). In addition, the commitment implied by accepting books from publishers for reading and review consideration with no date attached remains ever-present.

There are times when I need to think about re-balancing my reading and blogging commitments, and right now, I think it's appropriate to tip the scales further toward the reading side - and by talking about it here, I'm putting that commitment on record.

Do you ever feel the need to make a conscious commitment to your reading? How do you manage that time?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Discussion for *Leibowitz* (Faith and Fiction Roundtable)

The Faith and Fiction Roundtable’s third book of 2011 was the science-fiction classic A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (reviewed here last week). Wait - a “science-fiction classic” for the Faith and Fiction Roundtable?

Science and religion do not have to be opposing forces, although history has shown that they often are. They both offer ways to confront the world’s most complex questions, and the conflicts between them usually arise from a belief that their approaches are mutually exclusive. While that often turns out to be true in practice, I don’t consider that to be strictly necessary myself. Since Miller’s novel follows an order of monks (implied to be some variation of Roman Catholic) that plays a major role in preserving and forwarding secular and scientific knowledge - ultimately becoming involved in space travel - through the centuries following a devastating man-made catastrophe (not stated as nuclear war, but certainly implied), I suspect he didn’t consider the disciplines mutually exclusive either.

The monks in Canticle reminded me of the Jesuits in The Sparrow, although, to be more accurate, it’s likely that Canticle was an influence on Mary Doria Russell’s masterwork, since it was published earlier (in fact, Russell wrote a new introduction to the edition I read). I think Russell blends the science and faith elements more smoothly and I like her characters better, but I could see similarities.

A Canticle for Leibowitz covers a time period ranging from a century to roughly 15 centuries after our own time. A scene early in the novel depicts the discovery of a once-used, now-ancient underground bomb shelter - a reminder that it was originally published in 1959, and clearly informed by the Cold War and the post-nuclear nightmares of the mid-20th century. One of the questions the FnFRT group discussed was whether the story remains timely - several of us think that it does, because as one person stated “The threat that we could destroy ourselves is always there.”

As previously mentioned, Miller’s monks have been charged with the preservation of knowledge in the new Dark Ages that follow the disaster. The friars of the Leibowitz order have become protectors of the Memorabilia - documents that have somehow survived, although their meaning has been lost. Over the following centuries, the technological and scientific knowledge they contain will be slowly re-discovered...as if it is learned for the first time. And because, as the saying goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, the last section of the novel finds the world on the brink of a horror similar to that which preceded the events of its opening third. I think this is another reason for the book’s continued timeliness and relevance. As the pace of life and the flow of information seem to speed up every day, there’s so much to process that people are losing touch with history; and yet, much of the knowledge we’re exposed to really isn’t new. It’s just been forgotten, and we get caught in loops, repeating and re-learning and not remembering.

The science-fiction aspects of the novel seemed strongest to me during its final third, as the world (again) faces potential destruction and a group of the monks are sent away with the Memorabilia, to continue their mission of safekeeping it on a new planet. At the same time, this section also contains some of the strongest faith elements as it explores responses to extreme human suffering. Much of the FnFRT e-mail discussion revolved around this portion of the book.

2011 Member

The discussion of A Canticle for Leibowitz continues on Faith and Fiction Roundtable members’ blogs today:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

BEA/BBC Aftermath: Personal Highlights...and that means people!

This is the last piece of my three-part reflection on conference comparisons. After some consideration of conversations and conference-goers in the previous post, this one gets more personal.

* Some people come for the people, and you see them talking with each other, walking around, and eating together.
There are also events that go on around a conference that have no association with brands at all. They happen when two or three bloggers meet up for coffee or breakfast; when a small group goes out to dinner together; when bloggers team up to make the rounds of the expo floor; and when they decide to take a break from the conference atmosphere and do some sightseeing around the city where it’s being held. They’re sometimes planned well in advance of arrival at the conference, and sometimes planned via text messages five minutes before they happen.

Some bloggers go to conferences primarily to nurture their relationships with other bloggers. They may be meeting people they’ve known for years online for the first time offline, and they’ll probably meet people offline who give them new places to explore online. They may be anticipating their annual meetups with people that they only get to see when they’re at the same conference.

I’ve talked before about the fact that I’m more comfortable meeting people from my online world offline than I am with other introductions, because those people aren’t strangers. We’ve already done a lot of the groundwork of getting to know one another - we’re just picking up the conversation. At dinner after Book Blogger Con, a few of us talked about the nervous reactions some of our family members had to our meeting “people from the internet” in the “real world.” (I don’t hear a lot of that myself; given that my husband and I met through an online dating site, he really can’t say too much.) But our relationships with “people from the internet” are real, even if our communications take place via computers and smartphones 98% of the time. As I commented to the group, “My online friends know me better than the people I work with - and I’ve been at the same job for eight years.”

dinner on Friday night after Book Blogger Con: (clockwise): TeresaColleenAsh, me, KimMelissa (photo via The Betty and Boo Chronicles)
I was very happy with the blogger-to-blogger time I had during my week at BEA and Book Blogger Con; it was the best I’ve ever had during a conference, period. Part of that was because the people I saw during that week are truly my community, my tribe - book bloggers are the ones with whom I spend most of my online time already, and with a very few exceptions, they’ve never been much of a presence at BlogHer’s conferences.

Dinner on Wednesday night: Reagan, Heather (the organizer), Megan, Sheila, me, Michelle, Alison, Ann Kingman, Stacy, Natalie (photo by Natalie's husband Jason, via Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books)
Karen and me (photo via Rhapsody in Books)
The most notable exception to that rule is Karen/Sassymonkey, and I can now say I have yet to attend a blogging conference that she hasn’t been at too. I’m really glad her job as BlogHer.com’s Books editor brought her to BEA and BBC; she was great company for coffee, dinners, morning walks to the convention center, discussions about the exhibitors in the expo hall, and a memorable $1 pizza slice.

Kim’s young enough to be my daughter (and actually younger than my son...but keep in mind that I became a mother at the even younger age of 20), but it never mattered. We’ve worked together on a couple of long-term projects, most notably Weekly Geeks and the Indie Lit Awards, so we’ve gotten to know each other as peers. She was one of my dinner companions on my first and last nights in New York City, and I particularly enjoyed the tour she gave me of her favorite nonfiction publishers in the BEA Expo Hall (which netted me a book I’ve been coveting for months!).

Heather co-hosted last year’s Mary Doria Russell read-alongs with me, and we missed a couple of chances to meet in person last year, so I was glad she invited me to take some time away from BEA to visit the educational and haunting Pompeii exhibit at the Discovery Museum in Times Square. She also organized a fun dinner on Wednesday night, where I had the chance to meet Michelle, Alison, Ann Kingman, Stacy, Natalie (and her husband Jason), Reagan, Megan, and Sheila (all linked in the caption to the photo above). And while I don’t think they met during the trip, she and my son Chris ended up on the same train out of New York City on Saturday afternoon.

Jill was a member of the panel I moderated at Book Blogger Con, and although we kept running into each other in the Expo Hall, we didn’t discover that we were staying in the same hotel till the week was almost over! I had the fun of introducing her and Megan to the Magnolia Bakery one evening in Midtown (and then eating our treats in Rockefeller Center), and I spent a good bit of time with her and Teresa during the last couple of days in the city, including a very enjoyable walk across the Brooklyn Bridge just a few hours before I left for home on Saturday.

My BlogHer’10 roommate Melissa missed BEA, but she made a very long day of it at Book Blogger Con, and it was great to spend the day with her! She was one of my Friday-night dinner companions, along with Kim, her roommate Ash, Teresa, and our NYC-native public-transit guide, Colleen (all linked in the caption in the photo above), and she documented the day in pictures much more fully than I did.

I’d really like to go back to BEA and Book Blogger Con next year. These people - and those I hope to get to know during the time between now and then - are the main reason why.

BookExpo America