About Penguin

1weird_thesecretMany people struggle to be creative. We see creative people and their work around us and compare ourselves. We don’t know how to be creative, or worse, we did once, and now we’re feeling blocked, bored or unsure. Tired of this happening to you?

Hi. I’m Adam J. Kurtz, and my new journal, 1 Page at a Time, can help. A daily creative companion, this book will assist in the journey back to your creative self. Through exercises and challenges “proven” to help, you too can harness your mind. You too can feel the guiding light of creativity as it pushes you to accomplish incredible feats of “ART” in the workplace, and in your personal life. You’ll write! You’ll cry!

For a limited time, all this is available for only — say it with me: 1! PAGE! AT A TIME!

The Endless Journey

The Endless Journey

If only it were that easy. A single book that could change everything, a quick fix, a ten-step program that could make the difference. The bad news is that creativity, like most things, is a journey. The good news? You’ve already started. As a living, breathing human being you are already creative. Congratulations! Simply processing the world around you is a creative feat. Getting dressed. Choosing lunch. Everything is creativity, everything is art, and you have everything you need. Your way of looking at things, the way you consume and digest all play a role.

When we think of creative accomplishments, we tend to think of the end result. The completed manuscript, mastered files, or framed piece. We get so caught up in that tangible end goal that we might not even see the creativity itself: the emotions, thinking, sketches and planning that led to that final output.

Creative Switch

Creative Switch

There’s no quick fix because there can’t be. There’s no switch to flip because your creativity is constantly flowing, you just might be letting it slip by. So instead of rushing forward, slow down. Take a deep breath. What are you thinking right now? What is the root of that emotion? Let’s talk about something else. Where have you traveled before? What would you write in a letter to a seven-year-old? Get up and walk away. Staring a problem in the face isn’t going to solve anything. Staring yourself in the face might. Write everything down and look at it. Make a couple of lists. Have some water, swish it around your mouth until it’s lukewarm, then swallow it. Okay, where were we, and where do we stand now?

Harness a small bit of yourself every day. A tiny piece. Something that feels irrelevant or useless. Put it to paper, then come back tomorrow. Our goals can be so daunting that we forget all the good advice we already know. “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” “Slow and steady wins the race!” Take small steps to accomplish your larger tasks. Follow your gut or your heart or whichever parts make your decisions. Remember that nothing really matters, no matter how important it might seem right now. Life moves on. The universe does what it wants. Have a little faith or take the whole leap. Your only job is to keep moving on. That’s creativity. It’s not a painting, it’s continuing to process, progress, and enjoy your life as you make it through.

Build Slowly

Build Slowly

But what do I know? I’m just some guy on the internet.

1 Page at a Time is a lot of things. It’s a diary. It’s a sketchbook. It’s a rulebook, a guidebook, a playbook and a yearbook. It’s whatever you want, with a healthy dose of optimism. And cynicism. It’s human. And it’s going to push you along your creative journey in the same way it helped me on mine.

Photo Credit: Ryan Pfluger

 

Adam J. Kurtz is a graphic designer, artist, and serious person. He is primarily concerned with creating honest, accessible work, including a range of small products and the self-published “unsolicited advice” calendar series. He is the author of no other books.

He currently lives in New York City. Visit AdamJK.com, @AdamJK, & jkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjk.com (or don’t!).


9780399160851_MapleI’m a sucker for trees. Our art department laughs about how many of the picture books I publish feature trees (in a good way!). So when I got the submission for Maple, I was a goner. Here was a book that celebrated a nature-loving, free-spirited little girl whose parents plant a tree in her honor. A little girl who can often be rowdy but who finds peace under the rustling, dancing leaves of her maple tree. Lori Nichols’s art in this enchanting picture book debut is crisp and lush and so inviting. Everyone who reads this falls in love with Maple and her little sister, Willow. And the starred reviews keep coming in!

We were thrilled when Lori told us there were more stories about these charming little girls. 9780399162831_Maple_&_Willow_Together(After all, Lori has three little girls of her own, so there will be many stories to tell!) In Maple & Willow Together, which we are publishing in November 2014, Lori perfectly captures the dynamics of siblings. Maple and Willow do everything together, playing outside come rain or shine. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, because sometimes a big sister can be bossy and a little sister can be frustrating—and get frustrated—and a blow-up ensues. What I love about this story is that Lori shows us that the girls figure out how to solve things on their own. They are the ones in charge in this leafy kingdom – a kingdom that readers will want to revisit often. And good news on that front – more adventures are coming when Maple heads off to big-girl school and Willow is home alone, so stay tuned for Maple & Willow Apart (coming Fall 2015).


photo 3A woman came to my door the other day and said, “You’re the editor of Superstorm, right?”  My assistant has been out on maternity leave and so I’m getting used to people I don’t recognize waltzing into my office.  “Great book” the woman said and so of course she had my attention.  She said she was from Gerristen Beach, a part of Brooklyn that was about 10 feet underwater after Sandy rolled through.  Her family lost the house her father built.  They are still putting their lives back together.  She is a temp working in Operations for PRH at 375 Hudson Street.  She loves this book.  Me too.

We had just had our Halloween party back in 2012 in this building when New Yorkers started to realize the big bad hurricane was coming to get us.  As she was working on Superstorm Kathryn Miles said the storm was like the shark in Jaws—yes, her story is that scary.  Forecasters and their science were unable to make sense of this unprecedented system as it played out; seamen with all their traditional knowledge couldn’t predict what it would do; and the survivors whose lives it all but destroyed are still trying to pick up the pieces.  This story is all about the unforgiving, fearsome power of nature—just when we thought we had it beat.

We meet Chris Landsea, the Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center who had been thinking the 2012 hurricane season was a quiet one—and pretty much over—until he and a colleague noticed what looked like the beginnings of an unusual tropical depression.  But the picture the data delivered was not clear.  Kathryn Miles’ gripping narrative soon demonstrates that we have a national infrastructure emergency that we haven’t yet noticed.  It isn’t just that our bridges and schools are in danger of collapsing, our scientific data gathering, especially meteorological data gathering systems, are an appalling, neglected mess.  Forecasters used to rely on a tool called the quick scatterometer which used microwave sensors to gauge winds speeds near the ocean surface.  Then it broke.  In 2009.  Ever since we’ve been using a vastly inferior European data stream and have no plans to replace it.  This of course is merely one example…

SuperstormThe New York Office of Emergency Management advised Mayor Bloomberg that all was fine on Saturday night, but then by Sunday morning had him calling for the mandatory evacuation of 350,000 people including the families of Gerristen Beach.  Given the state of our forecasting infrastructure, this flip flop is perhaps not so surprising.

Kathryn Miles’ Superstorm is a gripping read, and it is also a necessary one in a time of increasingly unpredictable, deadly weather.

Happy Halloween.

Read more about Superstorm by Kathryn Miles.


playingbig

Tara Mohr’s new book, Playing Big, is a guide for women to find their calling and make practical steps to dream bigger and achieve their goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. What do you think has been missing from the women & work conversation?

A lot! There’s been an oversimplification in the discussion of “internal” vs. “external” barriers to women’s advancement. The usual conversation treats them as totally independent from one another, and also confuses acknowledging the internal barriers (self-doubt for example) with “blaming women” – as if any internal barriers are women’s fault and therefore women’s responsibility. We miss the context: Women grapple with those internal barriers because of cultural and historical factors. Centuries of women’s marginalization and exclusion from professional, public and political life left a societal legacy, but it also left a legacy in us, impacting how we see ourselves. Looking inward to address the internal barriers to our own empowerment is – in my view – a wise response to that legacy. It’s part of the work women in our time need to do to claim our power, and our new freedoms, fully.

2.What compelled you to write Playing Big?

All around me, I saw brilliant women playing small. I was seeing it in my coaching clients, my colleagues, my friends and in myself. We were turning away from sharing our ideas, from truly going for our career dreams. We weren’t playing as big as our ideas, our talents, and our capacity for leadership merited.

3.You say that all contemporary women “have been hired for the transition team” – what do you mean by that?

The past was a world defined, designed and led largely by men. The future – we hope – will be a world defined, designed and led by women and men. The present is the transition. By dint of our birth into this historical moment, we’ve been “hired for the transition team.”

When women can start to see themselves as a part of a global, revolutionary transition team, we can more compassionately and wisely understand what’s not working in our institutions and culture right now. And can be buoyed by the understanding that whatever we do in our communities, companies and families to bring forward women’s voices – including our own voices – is connected to something much larger and much greater, something we are a part of.

4.What are the major blocks women have get in the way of their playing big?

That delusional inner critic voice, and not having the tools to deal with it. Also, paradoxically, often our good student habit and good girl behaviors get in our way. These habits are very helpful up to a certain point in our careers – they help us be good worker bees, solid contributors –but they then get in the way of our leading and shaking up the status quo. Some faulty beliefs also tend to get in our way – that we aren’t expert enough, that we need one more training or degree or a few more years experience. And of course, there are also many external barriers – unconscious and conscious bias, the double-bind, the dearth of female leader role models and mentors.

5. Part of this book is about callings – how can a woman figure out what her calling is?

Yes, I find most women don’t truly feel they are playing big until they play big not just in their careers, but in whatever pursuits they feel most called to. Those pursuits might happen through their jobs, but they might also happen through volunteer work, activism, family life or a creative passion. There are eight common patterns I see in how callings tend to show up in our lives – and usually we can recognize a calling because it meets at least a few of these criteria –

How do you recognize a calling? Look for one or more of these clues:

  1. You feel an unusually vivid pain or frustration around the status quo of a particular issue or topic. You strongly feel or clearly see what’s lacking.
  2. You see a powerful vision–vague or clear–about what could be. That vision keeps filling your mind or tugging at your heart.
  3. You feel inspired or even compelled to act. You have a mysterious, felt sense of “This work is mine to do.” You feel as if you’ve received an assignment, rather than that you chose the particular task or cause.
  4. You find that actually doing the calling is a magical, strengthening process. While your inner critic might show up now and then, and while it’s hard work, you receive energy and a sense of meaning, and rightness, from doing it. You feel a kind of flow while working on it.
  5. Satisfaction comes not when the end goal is achieved, but much earlier – when you give yourself full permission to work on the calling. And… (these are the most important — and most surprising qualities of a calling)
  6. You feel huge resistance. A part of you wants to run the other direction. You feel like the task is huge, and you just couldn’t possibly be up to it. It feels like this upends your plans, and doesn’t quite fit with what is convenient in your life. Keep this in mind: in the archetypal hero’s journey, step 1 is “hearing the call”. Step 2? “Resisting the call.” It’s normal. It’s part of the process. The key is eventually surrendering that resistance and stepping into the calling.
  7. You don’t — yet—have everything you need to have to complete it. It’s not just irrational fear talking. It’s the truth. You don’t have everything you need. There is work to do, resources you will need to gather, and things you will need to make happen. That is a part of the beautiful stretch of the calling.
  8. You aren’t — yet — the person you need to be to complete the calling. It’s true. It’s not just your inner critic. You aren’t quite up to the task. You don’t have all the qualities and strength you’ll need. And you’ll get them by doing the calling. Callings always grow us in some meaningful way. You will have to evolve, develop new capacities, and show up to life in new ways.

I see no evidence that we each get a single calling. Most women experience many over a lifetime, and even many at once. The question isn’t “what’s my calling?” It is “what callings am I receiving right now?” The goal isn’t to find the one final perfect calling and devote the rest of one’s days to it. Rather, the goal is to become a woman more able to recognize her callings and respect them. Often this is where we get stuck – respecting and taking seriously our callings.

6. You talk a lot about the inner critic and the inner mentor – what are those inner voices and why are they so important?

The quality of our lives and the quality of our leadership depends on whether we listen to the wisest part of ourselves or the most fearful part of ourselves.

All of us – women and men – have a vicious and strong inner critic voice, a voice that talks to us about how and why we don’t measure up. When women listen to the inner critic, or think it’s voice is just “who they are,” they get stuck playing small. And yet, one thing that women often get wrong is that they think they have become “confident” – that they have to get rid of self-doubt. We don’t! Our self-doubt isn’t going away. We do, however, need a new way of relating to it. We need to learn how to recognize the inner critic voice, hear it, acknowledge it, but not take direction from it.

One of the most powerful things a woman can do is discover what I call “the inner mentor.” When I was being trained as a coach, I was taught a simple, guided meditation I could use with my clients to help them envision and older, future version of themselves – themselves twenty to thirty years out into the future. What I found was that when people did this guided meditation and truly accessed that vision, it wasn’t just an “older” version of themselves they encountered, but rather a wiser, calmer, more fully expressed version of themselves. I came to call this the “inner mentor” because it functioned like a mentor women could call upon for guidance when they were facing a challenge or dilemma. Its answers were always surprising, profound, and unfailingly wise. Playing bigger from the inside out, is, in larger part, about becoming more and more like that wiser self – growing into her, so to speak.

There’s so much advice today for women to find mentors.  Mentors can be great for support, tactical information, and help navigating a particular company or field, and yet, there are so many instances in which a woman’s best answers will come from within herself – and when only she can know what the right course for herself is.

7.You are skeptical about all the positive hype about girls’ success is school – why?

Of course, it’s not a bad thing that girls are succeeding in school, but I do think we need to look more critically at what they are succeeding at when they do so. Often, the core skills that school teachers are 1) how to adapt to what an authority figure (the teacher) wants 2) how to learn information from the outside (a book, a lecture, etc.) and then memorize or apply it 3) how to prepare well – how to study for a test, or prepare for the next day’s discussion in class. These skills help us in certain ways in our careers, but to lead, to innovate, to be changemakers, and to do work that we find personally meaning in, we need a different skill set:

  • challenging authority and standing in our own authority – not just adapting to authority
  • trusting what we already know – not just learning information from the outside
  • improvising as well as preparing

I think we are kidding ourselves if we think that girls’ success in school is adequately preparing them to be the leaders and change agents we need them to be!

Read more about Playing Big here.

Visit Tara Mohr’s website here


When I was young my parents used to traipse my two brothers, my sister and me around Europe to see the sights – my mother was a historian, and we spent a lot of time reliving the Albigensian crusades, climbing ramparts and re-enacting the fates of kings and heretics. I remember a trip through Normandy when every time we passed a broom bush we would cry out “Plant a Genet” – Geoffrey Plantagenet, the founder of the dynasty that ruled England before the Tudors, used to stick a Theplantagenetssprig of broom in his hat. The Plantagenets controled England and Normandy, and large swaths of France. Their most famous kings – Henry Ist, Richard the Lionheart, Edward I, were heroic rulers, brave on the battlefield and skillful in their stewardship of government. The less appealing among them – “Bad” King John, Edward II, Richard III – were conniving and duplicitous egotists, the famous villains of Shakespeare’s history plays.

All of this was a bit of a blur of fact and myth until I read Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England. Dan’s history is alive – he puts you right there on the battlefield, and inside the thoughts of knights and knaves as they contemplate cunning acts of treachery or meet their gory deaths. He is a natural storyteller – which means that he tells history as it should be told, as a story, with larger than life characters and surprising plot twists. This is history for fans of Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings – with all of the sexual escapades and gory ends –only in this case every word is true.

TheWarsoftheRosesMy son is three and thinks of himself as a knight, and I think there is something deeply appealing about that world, with its code of honor, bravery  and chivalry. Dan Jones’ Plantagenets was a surprise NY Times bestseller for us – everyone in house loved it, and it became a huge sales department favorite. We are about to publish his follow up, The Wars of the Roses, which tells the story of how the Plantagenets essentially clawed themselves apart and were finally replaced by the Tudors. The Tudors are familiar – Henry with his bloody serial monogamy, Elizabeth and Mary, Queens who knew that their power was at once sharpened and compromised by their sex. But how did they come to rule England? It turns out that their grandfather would never in his wildest dreams have imagined that his descendents would one day wear the crown. When Katherine of Valois chose him as her second husband, she did so because she thought he was safe. Little did she know what trouble their children would have in store for them. Dan Jones is so much fun to read that once you finish you want to go right back to the beginning and start all over again.

Start Reading an Excerpt from The Plantagenets and learn more about The Wars of the Roses.


9780399163241_large_Pennyroyal_AcademyPlaying make-believe as a kid, I usually dreamt up that I was one of two people:  “the grocery store checkout lady” or “the guy that cleans your windows at the gas station.” Not on the list: the princess. Maybe because I’d never seen one up close? Maybe I was just exceedingly practical? No, it definitely had more to do with princesses being, to my mind, fine but boring. What do they really do all day? Nothing as cool as wielding a squeegee.

Then I read A Little Princess. And not long after that, The Princess Bride. Suddenly, I’d found two “princess stories” that I would read again and again. They were funny, moving, and a little scary, with princesses I cheered for and loved to spend time with. So it felt a little magical when three years ago, Pennyroyal Academy crossed my desk, a submission that instantly reminded of these cherished books. Only then, it was called Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp. It was hilarious and charming, and we knew immediately that we wanted to publish it.

Then in a twist befitting the best fairytales, something even more magical happened: debut novelist M.A. Larson shaped Pennyroyal’s Princess Bootcamp into the extraordinary Pennyroyal Academy, a novel that’s not only sharp and funny, but is a clever Grimm-like fairytale (starring a heroine Sara Crewe and Buttercup would definitely be proud of). The tongue-in-cheek is still there, but so now, too, is an incredible warmth and heart, and a memorable cast of characters, from princesses and knights, to witches and dragons.

We first meet our heroine, Evie, stumbling through an enchanted forest, wearing a dress made of cobwebs, desperate to make her way to the famed Pennyroyal Academy. For the first time in its long history, the academy has lifted its blood restrictions and all are welcome to enroll at this premier training ground for princesses and knights. The school has no choice. With the threat of witches growing stronger every day, they need all the help they can get. But for Evie, life at the academy means enduring a harsh training regimen under the ever-watchful eye of her fairy drillsergeant, while also navigating a new world of friends and enemies. I hope you’ll have as much fun falling into the world of Pennyroyal as I have–this is a story that is surprising, tender, and inspiring, with the affirming message: “You get to decide what you want to be. No one else.” No matter what your make-believe preference, there’s something here for everyone.

ps. If you have 5 minutes (of course you do, you’re reading this!), check out the Pennyroyal website for our Princess Maker and to discover your true princess name:!


Fall ColorsNothing says fall in New York like the changing of the leaves… well that and apple picking, pumpkin picking, roasted corn, crisp mornings, Pumpkin spiced lattes (or Pumpkin Spiced anything), cider, donuts, the beginning of baking season, sweaters, boots, and scarves! I could go on (trust me) and make a LONG list of all of my favorite fall things, but I will leave you with the abridged version. The short of it is that Fall has arrived in NYC, and while we may still be having 80 degree days, the trees are beginning to tell a different story.

Reading on Deck

To celebrate my love of fall, I took a weekend trip north of the city up to the Adirondacks for a little reading, relaxation, and to take in the changing of the seasons. My first morning I decided to relax on the deck and enjoy the the view. I sipped my coffee and read a bit of the latest book to cross my desk Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Dear Daughter is the Penguin Twitter Book Club Pick of the Month for October. Please join our chat on Tuesday, October 7th and 21st from 2-3PM. You can follow along and ask questions using #ReadPenguin. I am not a big mystery fan, but I am really enjoying this one! Start Reading an Excerpt!

reading lake

After a nice leisurely morning with a cup of coffee and my book, I decided to go for a hike around the lake. I brought my book (naturally), because I don’t go anywhere without one as a rule. You never know when you are going to come across a nice spot to sit and read! Bringing it along turned out to be a good decision, because I think I may have found my new favorite reading hideaway. Not a bad view, don’t you think? It turned out to be less of a hike, more of a walk through the woods. I spent a long time reading on this rock overlooking the lake. Overall I think it was a success.

The rest of the trip was spent apple picking, donut eating, barbecuing, and enjoying a little peace and quiet. It was nice to have a few days away from the city and it gave me a chance to take a deep breath and unwind before jumping back into the work week. October is here and we are busy as ever! New York Comic Con is right around the corner, stop by the Penguin Booth and say hi! We are gearing up for our Holiday promotions and have a number of exciting sweepstakes coming out weekly on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And on top of all of that we have lots of new and exciting books coming out (there never seems to be enough time to read them all!) But enough about me, what are you up to this fall? Any weekend vacation suggestions or favorite Fall activities? We would love to hear about them in the comments!

Happy Fall and thanks for reading! Until next time,

Shelby


walker

Alan Walker is the Director of Academic and Library Marketing and Sales for Penguin. He can also be found on occasion reading Penguin Classics in alphabetical order for his Penguin Classics Marathon.

 

 

 

ofhuman

Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham 

W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece is my favorite novel, and I recommend it to everyone. It follows the life of Philip Carey at the beginning of the twentieth century. Born with a club foot and orphaned at a young age, Philip grows up with his dreary aunt and uncle, is packed off to boarding school in Germany, attempts to become an artist in Paris, and then returns to England to try his luck at medicine and various other careers. During that time he falls for Mildred, a waitress beneath his station, in what turns into a mutually destructive relationship (to say the least!). Maugham’s novel stands the test of time and is unique in how it makes us realize how much alike we are to those who came before us, in our hopes, ambitions, passions and most especially our deepest flaws. Three film adaptations have never come close to doing the novel justice, never capturing the heart and humor of the book. It would make a great HBO or BBC mini-series if done properly! (Michael Fassbender as Philip maybe?)

ageofinnocence

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

Wharton’s novel of the 1870s New York aristocracy is right up there as my all-time favorite read. Newland Archer’s tortured affair with the scandalized divorcee Countess Olenska set against the rigid morals of upper class society is the stuff of literary magic. How Wharton gets so deep into the very soul of Newland’s mind and heart is uncanny. If you’ve ever lived a lie for even a moment Newland is your man! The famous scene when our hero (or anti-hero?) sees Ellen (the Countess) from afar, and decides to go to her if she turns to him is one of the most heartbreaking scenes you’ll ever find in a book.

 

 

ethan

Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

Wharton’s novels were mostly about high society New Yorkers, like The Age of Innocence, but she also wrote two books about the rural poor. The better known of these is Ethan Frome which takes place in a corner of Western Massachusetts and is one of literature’s great love stories. I read this when I was a teenager and plan to go back to it at some point to see how it reads a few years (OK, decades) later.  I admit a personal connection to this book as I too spent early years with friends and siblings sledding down the same steep Berkshire hills as Mattie and Ethan did in their fictional town of Starkfield. Luckily for me though, we did a better job of avoiding the trees.

 

 

a hero

A Hero of Our Time, by Mikhail Lermontov

Ah, the Russians. I think I could list any number of great Russian novels below in my top five black spine recommendations, but for the sake of brevity I have chosen one, which may not be as familiar as some from the long list of great 19th and 20th Century works, from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Zamyatin, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Gogol, Pushkin, etc. That book is Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time starring the dark and moody Pechorin who delights in the misery and downfall of those around him. Pechorin is one of my favorite characters in all of literature, and towards the end of the short novel there is a hilarious dual scene that is worth the price of admission! For anyone interested there is a 1992 French film entitled Un Coeur in Hiver (A Heart in Winter) which is a loosely based modern adaptation of the novel starring Daniel Auteuil.

 

a room

A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster

Speaking of great film adaptations, my last recommendation is E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View.  It’s hard to read this book without picturing all the actors from the great 1985 Merchant/Ivory production reading their lines as you stroll through this very amusing novel, and that is mostly due to E.M. Forster’s brilliant dialogue which was taken practically verbatim from the book for the movie. To quote from my own Classics Marathon Read (link above) I guess I am a sucker for a novel about repressed upper class Brits at the turn of the 20th Century, especially when juxtaposed against the raw passion and beauty of Italy. If you are like me, whether you’ve seen the movie a hundred times or not, Forster’s novel will make you want to ask the great questions and maybe on a future trip to Florence plan a day trip to a nearby Fiesole hillside!

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Saracarder

Sara Carder is Editorial Director at Tarcher / Penguin Random House where she has the great pleasure of working on books that help people lead happier, healthier lives.

 

 

 

meditation

The Power of Meditation, by Edward Viljoen

I heard Edward Viljoen speak recently and was so moved by his talk that I was eager to hear more from him. Once I found a moment to dig into his book The Power of Meditation, I was not disappointed. Edward has the ability to talk about things that are really quite serious (such as, well, sort of a biggie, how to be more at peace in your life!) with such a light touch that the wisdom of what he’s saying creeps up on you like the punch line of a great joke. In The Power of Meditation he takes what can be a very intimidating topic for some –meditation– and makes it so wonderfully accessible. If you are one of those people, like me, who is convinced that you could never “learn” how to meditate, read Edward’s book. The how and why of meditation are beautifully explained in The Power of Meditation. I have decided to give it another go.

foodrules

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan

As a self-help editor I experience no shortage of advice in my life. How can I be a better parent? How can I find a better live/work balance? Or – a biggie – what should I eat? I love this slim little book that tells you all you need to know really about eating healthily. After I read it, I decided I never needed to read anything else on the topic. I was also very happy because I wouldn’t have to deprive myself of delicious food. The rules for eating in this book are truly rules to live by.

 

 

 

failfast

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, by Ryan Babineaux, Ph.D., and John Krumboltz, Ph.D.

Full disclosure #1: this is a book I acquired and edited for Tarcher. Full disclosure #2: when it came to me on submission from a literary agent, I thought “What a great title and I know SOOOO many people who need this book. But I’m not one of them. I know how to fail. I fail all the time and I’m good at it.” Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I learned is that my fear of failure was actually one of the biggest things holding me back in life. Now, after reading this book, when there’s something I feel inspired to do, instead of not doing it because I think I can’t do it well, I tell myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if this doesn’t work?” And I give it a try.

 

attached

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A.

When my son was born I discovered that there were a lot of books out there on “Attachment Parenting.” It’s a pretty good approach to raising kids: form a deep, secure bond with your child and you will set him/her up for a happy life. I devoured these books! Attachment theory as it pertains to the parent/child bond is truly fascinating so when the proposal for this book on how an understanding of Adult Attachment research can help you better relate to your romantic partner, I was eager to read. This fascinating research reveals that, when it comes to romantic love, we are all one of the following types: Anxious, Avoidant, or Secure. And guess what the best type to be is? Secure (of course). This book will show you how to become more calm, contented, and connected in your relationship – whether you’ve found a partner or you’re still looking. This is one of the smartest self-help/psychology books I’ve ever read.

 

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colleen conway

Colleen Conway is the Young Readers Sales Rep covering the Pacific Northwest and part of Northern California. She has worked for Penguin for 15 years and is a coffee fanatic and obsessive jam maker and baker who would rather be at the beach than anywhere else.

 

 

 

 

These are some of my favorite YA and middle grade novels from 2014:

giveyouthesun

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

My favorite book this year, this is a tale of twins who’ve grown apart and need to find their way back to one another. In gorgeous prose, it deals with family secrets, the joys of first love, the pain of growing up and growing apart, the vital importance of art and creativity in our lives and the importance of learning to forgive and move on. You won’t soon forget Jude and Noah’s story; I’ve read it twice already and think it’s a masterpiece. And if you haven’t read it, you should also get Nelson’s first novel, The Sky is Everywhere, which is equally beautiful.

 

 

belzhar

Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer has the same deft, delicate touch in her first YA novel as she has in her previous novels for adults.  Wholly original and unputdownable, this smart, raw look at overcoming trauma and learning to trust again is one teens – and adults- will love, and has an ending you’ll want to talk about with everyone you know. This is a book that should promote many conversations about love, loss and the power of acceptance and would be a perfect book group selection.

 

 

 

pennyroyal

Pennyroyal Academy, by M.A. Larson

To say this isn’t your usual princess and dragon story is an understatement! Evie leaves home when she finds a postcard advertising the Pennyroyal Academy, and soon finds herself being trained by fairy drill sergeants, immersing herself in princess history, learning to fight dragons and making friends for the first time in her life. This is a book about finding yourself and standing up for what it right. I love this line from the end, which I think sums it up well: “You get to decide who you want to be. No one else.”

 

 

 

undertheegg

Under the Egg, by Laura Max Fitzgerald

I haven’t met a narrator quite as tenacious and full of moxie as Theo since I think since I first read Turtle’s story in The Westing Game when I was 10! When her grandfather dies, he whispers to Theo that there is “a letter, and a treasure, under the egg”. While looking under the large egg painting left in their apartment, Theo finds clues that set her off on an adventure and mystery across New York and through generations of history. This is perfect book about art, friendship and not just the families you are born with but those you make, and I think will be a modern classic.

 

 

glass

The Glass Sentence, by S.E. Grove

Maps. Time Travel. Trains. Danger- what’s not to love? I adore fantasy, especially an epic fantasy that takes you to a place you’ve never even dreamt of before, and The Glass Sentence delivers in every way. After ‘The Great Disruption’, time splits itself apart, leaving countries and time periods mixed together. Young Sophia is growing up a century later with her uncle Shaddock, the world’s best known mapmaker, and when he is kidnapped and their secret map room destroyed she wonders if he has found a way to fix the disruption and decides to go after those who took him. First in a trilogy, The Glass Sentence has incredible world building, a tightly woven and continually surprising plot, and a main character that could have come out of a Frances Hodgson Burnett classic with her pluckiness and resolve. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

 

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