Lynn Reads a Book
This blog reflects Lynn Rosen’s comments on books she’s read and on happenings in the world of book publishing. You can purchase Lynn’s book recommendations at Barnes & Noble (we especially recommend Lynn’s store in Philadelphia!) or at your nearest indie bookstore. Wherever you choose to shop, we ask that you please support a bricks & mortar bookstore. They need your support! Shop local!
A selection for my Spring 2020 “Hot Off the Press” book discussion class. The class enjoyed reading this book by a writer whose debut novel, The White Tiger, won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. Here’s a quick plot summary: Danny—formerly Dhananjaya Rajaratnam—is an illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia, denied refugee status after he fled from Sri Lanka. Working as a cleaner, living out of a grocery storeroom, for three years he’s been trying to create a new identity for himself. And now, with his beloved vegan girlfriend, Sonja, with his hidden accent and highlights in his hair, he is as close as he has ever come to living a normal life. But then one morning, Danny learns a female client of his has been murdered. He thinks he knows who the murderer is, but turning him in means exposing his own illegal status. Click HERE for my video...read more
I’m always attracted to books about writing and books about publishing, since I inhabit those worlds, and this book promised both. It’s one of several I plan to read about women who wish to write, since I am one of those as well, and I am also writing a novel about a woman who is struggling to write. This book is set mostly in 1987, at which time I actually was working as an editorial assistant in a New York publishing house, so there was that to compel me to read the book as well. In the end, it wasn’t really a book about a woman who wanted to write. Well, she did express plenty of desire to write, and told of writerly insecurity and many thwarted attempts at composing short stories, but really it was more a book about literary hobnobbing. The protagonist finds herself becoming part of the world of a New Yorker writer and his poet wife at their Cape Cod summer house, and becomes enmeshed in their lives in a salacious (and dare I say predictable?) way. One thing leads to another leads to a great big sloppy drunken exposé leads to consquences, corrective action (where possible), and then finishes with strong hints that the protagonist will wind up with the boy you thought she was going to wind up with in the first place, despite detours. And does she wind up writing? Sure. But that didn’t seem to be what the book was really all hot and bothered...read more
It’s hard work being an author. You probably think I’m referring to the work of writing books, don’t you? It’s true that writing a book is hard — it’s time-consuming, solitary work. I know many writers whose first novels took years, or even a decade or more to write (especially since most of them were holding down demanding full-time jobs and writing in any pocket of time they could find – instead of sleeping!). But I’m actually talking about what happens once a writer finishes a book, and is lucky enough to have it published. You’d think the hard work would be finished then, and it would be smooth sailing and merely a matter of collecting accolades. But post-publication life is far from that. Post-pub is when another phase of really hard work begins for a writer. And it’s difficult to tell sometimes which is more challenging: writing the book or marketing it! On March 13th, Open Book partnered with Philadelphia Stories magazine to hold The 2nd Annual Writers at Work Conference. The purpose of this conference is to offer writers ways to manage their career (what we call the write/life balance), along with really useful and practical information about marketing, publicity, events, building an author platform, and more. Yesterday’s event was a great success. My fabulous event partner Christine Weiser and I are so grateful to all of our speakers (listed HERE) and to the many writers who joined us at the lovely Manor House in Blue Bell, PA. Thank you for being there! Here’s just a taste of what I learned yesterday: *If you want to prepare to be a good speaker, have a friend or someone else interview you. That way you’ll get a sense of what the most interesting things are that you have to talk to an audience about. (That tip from Andy Kahan, director of events at the Free Library of Philadelphia.) *Pitch yourself as a guest blogger for book sites. Make fun videos (I’m going to do that one!). (These tips from Jennifer Kasius of Running Press and literary agents Clare Pelino and Eric Smith.) *What do booksellers have that Amazon doesn’t? Booksellers do community outreach, and bookstores offer the possiblity of serendipity. (From Kat Meyer of the Book Industry Study Group.) *The term “read-a-likes.” This refers to books an author might compare their book to, one with similar style, subject matter, and/or readers. (Learned this from author Donna Galanti.) *I met a new local bookseller, Ashley Montague, co-owner of Penn Book Center, and had a great time bonding and sharing ideas with her and with Cathy Feibach, owner of Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr. We three booksellers did some brainstorming on ways we can work together and support each other. It’s so nice to be part of the supportive indie bookseller community! What a...read more
One of the joys of owning a bookstore is choosing the books we sell. As those of you who’ve been in the Open Book Bookstore know, we make our selections very carefully – we carry only good books at our store! And we like to direct our customer/readers toward new discoveries. We do a lot of research before we stock a book, and we’ve read many, if not most, of the books we carry. One fun challenge for us is exploring and learning about new genres. I’m particularly proud these days of the wonderful new children’s picture books we’ve recently added to our collection. Recently we celebrated this collection with an event for adults. Our amazing guest speakers, Heather Devlin Knopf and Julia Way Rix, both artists and children’s book illustrators and authors, shared the process of making a children’s book. Fascinating! Below are listed some new books in our collection – come check them out for your kiddies and grandkids! An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton – My thanks to our friend and customer Amy Brantz Bedrick for telling me about this book. It celebrates just what is awesome about life, and encourages us to share this awesomeness with those who may be missing out on it. This book brought tears to my eyes. i carry your heart with me – a beautiful setting of a poem by e.e. cummings illustrated by Mati McDonough. The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz – Thanks to Emily Chen for steering me to this fun retelling of the fairy tale where the pig who triumphs in the end is the sister pig who has been paying attention during her karate lessons and practicing. She is prepared for that wolf! Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi, who really is Gandhi’s grandson. A great story accompanied by stunning art. We have these and so many more books with lively stories, meaningful messages, and gorgeous illustration. Come and...read more
In January, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee called for a boycott of the Academy Awards because so few black actors were nominated. They also called for emcee Chris Rock to step down from his position. I’m glad he didn’t. Last Sunday night in the Oscar ceremonies Chris Rock tackled the question of African-American representation in the film business head on, addressing it in his trademark irreverent way. You may or may not have liked Rock’s approach, but I thought this was a great way to use his platform to confront an issue rather than to give it up. This made me think of a recent situation in Philadelphia. As reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, some students at local high school Friends’ Central were offended by the use of the “n” word in the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Students and faculty took a vote and decided not to have students read the book. What a lost opportunity! What a chance this would have been for teachers to use this as a springboard for a meaningful discussion of racism and race relations, how things have changed over the years, and how things are represented in literature. I say, use the platform you have to talk about making change. Kudos to Chris Rock for taking on an important issue with courage and humor. One of the best novels I’ve read recently that tackles the issue of racism and does so in great literary form is Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson. It’s out in paperback now, and the Open Book friends to whom I’ve recommended it have all come back to tell me how much they like it. If you read and liked it, post a comment in my blog (click HERE). And of course we have it, as well as Huck Finn, available for sale at the Open Book Bookstore. Finally, I’m happy to share some great recent press for Open Book… An article in the Huffington Post and… An article about how many new bookstores opened last year, including us! Tomorrow at the Open Book Bookstore we a great event for adults about the art and technique of creating great children’s picture books. It’s a free event at 7pm – come on by! Details HERE. Check out other events too, including Writers at Work Conference, Genre Mix ‘n’ Match Writing Class, Dinner and Lunch with a Book, and our fun St. Patrick’s Day...read more