About Penguin

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Fall has fallen, and that means… book season! This Monday kicked off the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is a great series of events for readers, librarians, publishing professionals, etc. For me, it meant going to this Opening Night party, where I gawked at famous internetty book people, saw friends, and watched the Knausgaard Mad Libs.

If you’re in the New York area, swing by on Sunday to learn about book design, ebook reading, creativity and how to write. Here’s the full list of events.

This week, I got to explore Blue Rider and Portfolio‘s Book Room! It’s often important to have backlist copies of books in the office – at any given point, each imprint has about twenty copies of their book list. It’s a part of book publishing one might not necessarily see or know about, so I was glad to check it out and get to share with you all.

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Lastly, I have some exciting news: the official Penguin Tumblr has launched. Follow us for behind-the-scenes office tours, posts about cover art design process, vintage ads and photos and much, much more.

What would you like to see more of? My favorite series so far is First Line Fridays. The first lines of books we love are often particularly memorable, set a tone, or reveal something about the author. Just look at this one from The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

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Do you have any first or last lines memorized? Any one you’d particularly like to see on tumblr?

It’s been a busy week, readers. Hope you’ve got lots of exciting plans for the weekend! Enjoy.

 

 


LauriHornik_photoHere’s the sneaky thing about books for young kids: They give those kids quite a lot of power over you the reader. The kids get to choose the book you’ll read to them, and then . . . whatever the words on the page say, you as reader HAVE to say. Out loud. Even if those words are tremendously silly and embarrassing and make you seem completely and utterly preposterous.

That’s the sly, ingenious, irresistible premise of B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures. You probably know B.J. as Ryan Howard on “The Office,” or as a supporting actor in the movies “Saving Mr. Banks,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” I hope you know that he was also a writer of “The Office”; and if you’re lucky, you have already read his excellent, acclaimed short story collection One More Thing.

But none of us knew B.J. Novak as a child whisperer—as one of the rare class of grownups who understand what makes young kids giggle. Boy, does he understand! I had the pleasure of watching him read his book aloud to a group of first graders. They didn’t know him from his acting roles, but he knew them—he knew what they found unbelievably funny. Words like blork and bluurf and badoongy-face. Hearing an adult forced to talk in a robot-monkey voice, and to sing a song about eating ants for breakfast, all the while protesting that “this isn’t the kind of book I wanted to read.” I still have that roar of first-grade laughter in my head.

You don’t need to be a comedian like B.J. Novak to read this book successfully, though. I’ve tested it with lots of my colleagues and friends and family. Everybody is funny when reading this book. Deadpan, singsong, completely over the top goofy . . . doesn’t matter. It always works. And I am especially fond of B.J.’s hidden agenda: to teach young kids—through this hilarity—that words are exciting.  That words are powerful. This picture book, you see, doesn’t have a single picture in it, not even a jacket-flap picture of the author himself. Just words—goofy, nonsensical, wonderful words!

TheBookWithNoPicturesBonk. (I didn’t want to say that. The kids made me do it.)

 

This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)


diaryofamaddivaWords can’t really express how surreal it feels knowing that Joan Rivers has passed away. It’s simply hard to believe. Salacious and sharp from Johnny Carson to the Fashion Police, Joan’s quick wit truly made her eternal. She knew the key to a brilliant life is to laugh. Never take anyone or anything too seriously. Laugh at the world and, most of all, laugh at yourself. She was groundbreaking, she was hilarious, she was fierce…and she was part of our big Penguin family.

“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Joan Rivers

Our thoughts are with Joan’s daughter Melissa and her grandson Cooper, her family and friends, and all of those around the world who were touched by her humor, her big heart, and her extraordinary generosity of spirit.

joanriversJoan has two books with us, the New York Times bestseller  I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me, and the newly published Diary of a Mad DivaI must admit that as someone who thought she would live forever, I’ve yet to read these and now plan to immediately. Her legacy will forever live on through television, film, web, and literature. Let’s not forget all the zingers comedians will pass on in her name. My friends and I have tickets to The Comedy Cellar tonight, and we’re looking forward to all the touching yet hilarious tributes ahead. Because in the end, how can anyone who cherishes comedy go easy on the ultimate roasting legend?

lena

While we’re on the subject of awesome people that happen to be Penguin Random House authors, Lena Dunham posted an Instagram photo of the book Women in Clothes. I’ll let the overview quote itself: “It is essentially a conversation among hundreds of women of all nationalities—famous, anonymous, religious, secular, married, single, young, old—on the subject of clothing, and how the garments we put on every day define and shape our lives.” Just in time for New York Fashion Week, this book will be a staple for women everywhere who acknowledge that appearance gives us confidence and connects our personalities to those around us.

Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl is on sale at the end of this month, 9/30. She did a reading at Book Expo America this year. Maybe I’m biased…Okay, I’m definitely biased, but this book will be hilarious. Much like her usual self-deprecating humor, Lena’s personal musings kept the event hall roaring with laughter. Even in a moment of tongue twisting, she broke out of her narrative to rewind and reread in a bit of improv. Lena, much like Joan Rivers, enjoys poking at herself probably more than others do. She is certainly a “creative wonder” as quoted by Judy Blume.

In other influential and culturally relevant news, check out our CEO, Markus Dohle, who participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. He, in turn, nominated author Dan Brown. Fingers crossed he’ll pull through. If you wish to donate to ALS, click here.

Have a lovely weekend, and don’t forget to laugh.

-Lindsay


Max Reid works in Penguin Books Editorial, where he can be found talking at length about how much he loves New York.

 

 

 

 

ceremony

Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko

I first read Ceremony for a Native American Religion course my freshman year of college.  I expected bows and arrows and trips to the museum- I didn’t think for a second we might actually be talking about Native Americans today. Ceremony focuses on the loss of identity so many Native Americans have experienced in the 21st century, and shows better than anything else I’ve read that Native American culture is not just history.

 

 

 

we

We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin

As a citizen of the world I’m happy to report I had a healthy phase of dystopian fiction that sufficiently scared the hell out of me.  This one hits particularly hard – a nation built entirely of glass, allowing secret police to watch your every move. Yeah. 1984 and it’s many protégés find their way to most school reading lists, but if you haven’t read We, you’re missing out – Zamyatin was a dissident in the early Soviet Union, so he knows what he’s talking about.

 

 

 

chocolate

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl 

You’re not going to find a bigger fan of the Gene Wilder / Mel Stuart film adaptation, but really, if you haven’t read Roald Dahl’s masterpiece (one of many, in my opinion) you’re missing out on a trip through a world even more vibrant than Technicolor could offer. Try as you might, Tim Burton, but there’s just no replicating Roald Dahl’s imagination.

 

 

 

 

whitenoise

White Noise, by Don DeLillo

After 100 pages of living with the Gladney family, you’re part of it too, whether you like it or not.  DeLillo is sneaky about it – you may not even realize you love these characters until things start to unravel, as they always do.  DeLillo looks behind the façade of the modern American family, and finds the fears we all share.

 

 

 

 

different

On Being Different, by Merle Miller

Clocking in at 96 pages (that’s with the introduction and afterword), this is one of the most eye opening and powerful books I’ve read.  Merle recounts his experience growing up homosexual in a world that wasn’t welcoming, to say the least.  It’s heartbreaking, and unsettling that some of what he recounts was happening on a large scale only a few short decades ago.  I’d love to see this on more high school reading lists.

 

 

 

Find more books on the Penguin Classics page!

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Becca Cloyd pic

Becca Cloyd is a Digital and Social Media Marketing Coordinator at Penguin Young Reader Group. In her spare time she can be found either swimming in the ocean or counting down the days until the beaches are warm again.

 
 
 
 
 

devil

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Tucholke

Creepy, wonderful, and totally weird, this book is a fav that I’ve returned to three times already since its publication last year. It’s hot, too – literally. Set in a sweltering summertime coastal town, pick this one up if you’re looking for a page turner that will let you hold on to summer for just a little longer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

was true

What I Thought Was True, by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Another coastal town, another hot summer. This one swelters for a reason aside from the weather – the romance. Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of my favorite authors to take with me on vacation over the summer, and I always find myself reaching for her books when September hits and I’m trying to hang on to those beachy August days.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

inland

Inland, by Kat Rosenfield

This one is disorienting, with a mysteriously unwell protagonist and disconcerting family history. Callie and her father have lived far from the coast for nine years, and as soon as they return she finds she can finally breathe easier. Are you sensing a theme yet?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

atlantia

Atlantia, by Ally Condie

Looking ahead to fall, I can’t WAIT for the rest of the world to read Ally Condie’s newest tale, Atlantia. Set just where it sounds like, Atlantia is an underwater city from which Rio longs to escape. Ally will draw you in with the descriptions of Rio’s underwater world, just like she did in her wonderful Matched series.

 
 
 
 
 
 

camp
Since I work with picture books much of the time, I’d be remiss not to let you in on one of my favorite picture books we published this year. Molly Idle’s art is hilarious and heartfelt as we follow dinosaurs on a camping trip. It’s my second favorite summer activity after swimming in the ocean, and Molly captures it perfectly, right down to the s’mores. Plus, she’s got Sea Rex, a beach adventure, coming next summer.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Find more books on the Young Readers page!

See Staff Picks for all our categories! 


Mary_Stone
Mary Stone is the Assistant Marketing Manager for Putnam and Riverhead Books. Originally from Florida, she’s currently mourning the near-end of summer, because reading on a warm sunny beach is so much better than reading inside a snowed-in apartment.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

lastletter
I’m a huge Jojo Moyes fan: Me Before You had me in (admittedly!) ugly tears just a few pages in, The Girl You Left Behind completely transported me to World War 1 Paris – and made me never want to leave – and One Plus One had me thinking a long car ride with a handsome stranger might just be a great adventure. After reading those three, I knew I needed more, so this summer I picked up Jojo’s earlier novel, The Last Letter from Your Lover. Suddenly I was deep into another perfectly heartbreaking love story I just couldn’t quit – and the letters! Oh, just have tissues handy.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

overseas
Overseas was the first book I officially read for work when I started at Penguin three years ago, and one colleagues still remember my instant – and persistent – passion for! When the worlds of a modern day NYC city slicker and a oh-so handsome World War 1 captain collide with a dabble of time travel, the result is a guiltily perfect romantic ride that will have you swooning with every page.  Since then, Beatriz Williams has followed up with last summer’s New York Times bestseller, A Hundred Summers, and this year’s beach read favorite, The Secret life of Violet Grant both highly recommended as well.

 
 
 
 
 
 

savethedate
While this is by no means a romance novel – it is in fact, a wonderfully funny memoir – I think it’s a read all romance fans will adore. It brings to light what romance, love and happily ever after really means in today’s world – and how my fairy tale ending might just be very different than yours, and that’s OK.   
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

on the island
If you’re looking for a book that is just pure escapism, I invite you to take a trip On the Island in Tracey Garvis Graves’s bestselling novel. (Truth: I enjoyed this book so much that I dressed up as the lead female, Anna Emerson, for Penguin’s annual Halloween party; see photo above.) A shocking plane crash brings Anna Emerson and her student, T.J. Callahan, to a deserted island – and in to the arms of one another. The island heat isn’t even the hottest part of this book…  enjoy!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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Meaghan Wagner is an Assistant Editor and has been with Penguin since 2010. She is definitely the MVP of the Penguin Random House Downtown softball team, despite rumors you might have heard to the contrary.

 

 

 

 

 

wherelight

Where All Light Tends to Go, by David Joy

Admittedly this is more of a story that has crime and thrills in it, rather than your more traditional thriller, but since it is hands down the upcoming title I am most excited to see coming up, I must include it. David Joy so beautifully etches out the internal struggle between family loyalty and the personal hope for something better against the evocatively etched backdrop of the North Carolina meth trade.

 

 

 

 

naked

Naked in Death, by J.D. Robb

So this whole series really could go in here, but I figure it’s best to start at the beginning. This is the first series I obsessively collected – starting with the first 10 at a library book sale in 8th grade. I immediately fell in love with tough-as-nails Eve Dallas (and even contemplated getting a copycat tattoo of her famous rose) and her bad-boy Roarke. Robb (the alias for Nora Roberts) has a way of keeping every case fresh and fun and I look forward to the new book’s release *every* year.

 

 

 

doubleplay

Double Play, by Robert B. Parker

Double Play has everything about a classic Parker- snappy, clever dialogue, great characters, villains you love to hate, intricate mystery – but set around baseball and, of all people, Jackie Robinson.  The plot crackles and seeing Jackie fictionalized is endless fun for a baseball fan like me. With great flashback interludes, it one of the best-written Parker novels I’ve ever read (and that, my friends, is saying something).

 

 

 

 

loyalty

Loyalty, by Ingrid Thoft

This book has a special place in my heart – it was the first one I recommended Putnam acquire that we actually bought. After years mired in submission after submission, getting acquainted with Thoft’s tough-but-tender P.I. Fina Ludlow and her unbelievably dysfunctional family was a breath of fresh air. The second book in the series – Identity- came out this summer and the third will follow in 2015. Keep a lookout for Fina!

 

 

 

 

Find more books on the Mystery & Suspense page!

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MJ_Penguin Blog Picks

Megha Jain is an eBook Production Editor for Berkley and NAL’s InterMix imprint. She likes cats, Netflix, and misanthropes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

discovery

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

Dr. Diana Bishop is no ordinary historian. As the only child of two gifted witches, she possesses a power so great that all creatures—human, faerie, daemons—are automatically drawn to her. Diana suppressed her powers after she was orphaned at the age of seven. But now, two decades later, strange forces (and a very attractive vampire) will compel Diana to face who and what she really is.

Deborah Harkness transforms the sleepy, dreamy city of Oxford into a magical place filled with supernatural beings and otherworldly adventures. Danger stalks Diana through the ancient streets as she tries to grapple with dark creatures and her power. Thankfully, that very attractive vampire is along for the ride too. Fun, sexy, and a little scary, A Discovery of Witches is a thrilling start to an amazing series.

necromancerThe Necromancer’s House, by Christopher Buehlman

Razor-sharp wit and creepy suspense make The Necromancer’s House an incredibly fun ride. Our flawed protagonist and the fantastic supporting cast of creatures face off against Baba Yaga, an ancient Slavic creature, using modern magical warfare in a fight to the death. Along the way, you’ll be sucked into these unique characters’ backstories, all of which are richly drawn and provide layers of detail that you’ll be obsessing over long after you’ve completed this book.

The Necromancer’s House isn’t easy to classify—and that’s a good thing. It’s by turns romantic, suspenseful, horrific, and hilarious. If you are looking for a tale that will occupy your imagination to such an extent that nothing else will get done, this is the book for you. Just be prepared to sleep with the lights on.

american

American Supernatural Tales, by various authors

The stories are collected by ST Joshi, a hardcore atheist who has made weird literature his life’s work. He’s got good taste, that’s for damn sure. It’s called American Supernatural Tales because all of the authors are American. In fact, this book could easily be the only required text for any high school course on American literature. And why not? The quality is superb and the fears expressed and surprises uncovered reflect the wonders and anxieties of the authors’ times.

I strongly recommend this book for fans who prefer their entertainment weird. There’s more to ghost stories than shitty Blair Witch knockoffs and torture porn. It’s high time people remember good horror is good art.

 

movement

The Movement of Stars, by Amy Brill

The book is inspired by Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to spot a comet with a telescope. The main character, Hannah Gardner Price, has almost all the same traits: Quaker astronomer, learned from her father, earned a reputation as a comet hunter through hard work. Unlike Mitchell, Price has significantly fewer siblings, only one, and she falls in love with a whaler seeking to improve his own station. The endless waiting (to hear from her brother, to hear from the whaler, to spot a comet) drives her. The adults’ need to control her drive them.

There’s a line that really got me: “Altair, Deneb, Vega. Eagle, Swan, Lyre. Three constellations any child could pick out of the night sky.” About the time I was reading this, those stars were bright in the western sky, but the rest of the constellations were hidden—hazards of city-living. Well over 100 years separate us from the main character, but we can still see what she saw. I didn’t read that, I felt it, and it felt amazing.

Great book for the budding astronomer. It should quickly relieve them of the idea that this lifestyle is easy. I believe it’s the author’s first book; hopefully it won’t be her last.

stilllife

Still Life with Shape-Shifter, by Sharon Shinn

Melanie Landon has spent most of her life trying to keep her sister Ann’s shape-shifter secret safe from the world. But when Ann goes missing for months and a writer shows up on Melanie’s doorstep looking for information about Ann—and shape-shifters—their fragile existence shatters. Shinn weaves in a second story about Janet, a human who falls in love with a shape-shifter, while exploring love and loss in a moving and heartbreaking way.

This is one of those books that may cause uncontrollable sobbing in public places, like on the subway. You’ve been warned.

 

 

Find more books on the Science Fiction / Fantasy page!

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Linda Cowen staff pick photoI’ve been a publishing lawyer for over 20 years, and at Penguin since 2008. I love to taunt other lawyers by saying things like, “Why yes, I do get paid to read novels all day.” Actually most of my novel reading gets done after hours, on the LIRR. Here are some recent faves:

 

 

 

9780143125242MLena Finkle’s Magic Barrel, by Anya Ulinich

Who says graphic novels have to be about super heroes (although some of us may regard Lena Finkle as one)? This wonderfully immersive story lets you experience what Lena’s life just as she does—saying one thing out loud and thinking something else at the same time. In this age of multi-media, it’s a pleasant surprise to see how “interactive” two dimensions can be. Best enjoyed in paper.

 

 

 

 

theoryA Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins

Did you like the movie “Her?” Do you worry about whether/how much we can be replaced by robots? Do you believe in reincarnation? If you ponder any of these questions, this book is for you. It juxtaposes our most human hopes and fears alongside the possibility of the most advanced technology. Technology marches inexorably toward us, but the human heart beats on.

 

 

 

 

9780142180822MWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler

If you can, get someone to rip the cover off this book before you read it (or advance your ereader past the cover page) and don’t read a single thing about it. I read this after it was announced as the winner of the 2014 Pen/Faulkner Award with no other knowledge about it. At first I thought I’d “gotten” it right away. Then it took a turn I didn’t see coming and I had to take a break and send copies to my two best friends so that they would read it along with me.

 

 

 

shirleyShirley: A Novel, by Susan Scarf Merrell

Who among us lovers of literary fiction has not imagined what it would have been like to hang around with our favorite authors of the mid-20th Century? You know, when authors were revered, and their lives were private. Susan Scarf Merrell took it one step further. After mining archives including letters and journals, she re-creates the world of author Shirley Jackson and her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman, inserting a fictional couple into their life.  Step inside this novel and see what happens when a writer asks herself “what if…”

 

 

 

9781594205712MEverything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

Where can a book that begins with tragedy go?  A teenage girl is dead; it’s not a place I really want to visit. And yet Celeste Ng captivates page by page. She’s never maudlin or melodramatic. Instead she unfolds this sad story in such a way that makes us appreciate her characters and want to see how they will make sense of what’s happened. Even though you know the ending won’t change the beginning—this isn’t a book about miracles—you will not want to abandon this family.

 

 

 

 

goodlordThe Good Lord Bird, by James McBride

I want to make a special plug for the audio version of this one. This book is full of outrageous characters speaking in dialect circa the 1850s, and hearing it brings it to life in a way that most of us can’t possibly create in our 21st Century minds. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that there can be a new way to tell an oft-told tale, but this narrator tells us story of John Brown’s fight against slavery in a way that makes the whole story completely fresh and new. This is neither middle school social studies nor “costume drama” historical fiction—it is vital, moving, thought provoking and raucous. Listen to it and you will see the story unfold in your mind’s eye as if you were watching the year’s Best Picture.

 

Find more books on the Literary Fiction page!

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AllisonPrince

Allison Prince is the advertising and promotion coordinator for Gotham and Avery where she has the pleasure of designing ads, promo materials, and seasonal catalogs. She loves nature, books, folk music, and Brussels sprouts.

 

 

 

 

marblesMarbles, by Ellen Forney

Graphic novels have the unique power to get people who don’t consider themselves “readers” to pick up a book. With this comes great responsibility. Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir bravely shows her struggles with bipolar disorder, and delivers a larger imperative message: Mental illness—like any other illness—is a disease, not a case of choosing to feel sad, or something to just “get over.” In the wake of Robin Williams’s passing, we need more brave people like Forney to come forward and share their stories of living and thriving by seeking help on those darkest days.

 

 

 

stitchesStitches, by Anne Lamott

One of my favorite lines of Stiches is “Beauty is a miracle of things going together imperfectly.” Anne Lamott’s incredible meditation on loss and transforming sad situations in life into hope and healing uses the metaphor of sewing and stitches throughout, showing that each “tear” in our fabric helps to make us who we are. It’s hard to adequately describe this book in a few lines, so I recommend reading it and finding solace in it yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

lostdogsThe Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant

As a huge dog lover, I was horrified when I heard about Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring. Despite the atrocities they faced, almost every dog saved was able to recover from the trauma and receive a loving home. Here’s another reminder that no dog (no pit bull!) is fundamentally rotten; it was probably a human who made it that way. It is heartwarming to know these dogs will receive all the snuggles and love they deserve for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

Run, Don’t Walk, by Adele Levine rundon'twalk

Adele Levine’s memoir about working as a physical therapist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious. Adele herself is a hero for helping our heroes. Despite the horrors these veterans faced, and continue to face which each surgery and painful rehabilitation, they still find chances to laugh. Laughter can be excellent medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

notfadeNot Fade Away, by Rebecca Alexander

Since first hearing about the proposal, I was in love with Not Fade Away, a memoir from a psychotherapist, athlete, and volunteer, who also has the rare and incurable Usher syndrome type III, which is making her gradually lose her hearing and sight. But Rebecca’s story isn’t about what she’s losing; it’s about how she lives each day to the fullest. She counts every day as a gift, and reading her story reminds me to do the same.

 

 

 

 

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