What kind of work do you do at Penguin? Do you have a crowning achievement, or memorable experience from your time here?
I have a very fun job, which is to oversee all the Penguin adult publishing imprints (meaning: imprints that publish books for grownups, not to be confused with other connotations of “adult” publishing). It probably doesn’t count as a crowning achievement, but one of the most memorable experiences of the past year was launching the Penguin Hotline in 2014. I love that what began as an off-the-cuff idea for a holiday ad developed into a way that brings the Penguins together with each other and with readers across the globe. Working on the Hotline reconnects us each with why we got into this business to begin with – we love books, and we love other people who love books.
When you aren’t busy at work with books, do you have a hobby? Do you have any book recommendations related to this hobby?
It probably wouldn’t sound right to list my 11-year-old twin sons as a hobby, but they come to mind in this case because the three of us continue to pick books for me to read out loud, even though they’re well into their own reading lives. It can be surprisingly hard to find books that appeal to older kids but which also work well as read-alouds. A few of my own favorites from the past year were Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm trilogy. Right now, we’re reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore. The boys love the adventure story. I love that they love this adventure centered around a kickass female lead character.
The other hobby-who’s-not-a-hobby is our dog Wally, a very goofy chocolate labradoodle. One of the best things about dog people is how easy we are to buy presents for – any books with dogs in them usually work. Two of my all-time favorite dog books are photo collections by Jim Dratfield: The Quotable Canine and Underdogs. There are some great new dog books this fall and winter: Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman, A Dog Named Jimmy by Rafael Mantesso, and Dog Love by Ann DeVito [out in February 2016]. And for anyone who’s about to get a dog, I think the very best dog training book is The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete.
Which books are you most excited about gifting this year?
I have been recommending Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff for months, but there are still some people left I can give it to. The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik is perfect for several people on my list. My foodie friends will get Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov. And for everyone else: Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford.
What is your favorite holiday read of all time?
This isn’t very original, but I’m a sucker for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
What’s your favorite part of working the Penguin Hotline?
I love receiving a request that goes beyond my area of expertise, since then I reach out to the hive mind, either here at Penguin or to friends elsewhere in the industry. I end up with suggestions that work not only for the person who’s written in, but that I want to read, too!
Check out the Penguin Hotline for custom book recommendations!