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We’re in full swing for the holidays, with over 300 Penguin employees working hard making personal book recommendations on the Penguin Hotline!

As John said last week, we were delighted and amazed by the huge enthusiasm you all showed for this service.

I’ve been plugging away, sending out the emails from our employees to you. I’ve even gotten some good gift ideas just from reading the recommendations.

Just to give you an idea of how thoughtful and thorough our employees are, here’s an excerpt from one of the emails, sent by our own Farin:

Happy Holidays! Thank you for contacting the Penguin Hotline. I’m so excited to pass some great book recommendations your way!

I love knitting as well and swear by Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Halverson – the patterns are easy and beautiful and don’t take a million years to finish.

To satisfy your reader’s non-crafting reading interests, though, I highly recommend the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. It combines all the great elements of fantasy: supernatural beings (in this case, a witch and a vampire – but not the Twilight kind), time travel, a twisted villain, and a great love story. It’s one of my absolute favorite series. And if your reader loves Doctor Who, you will love Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – she actually took inspiration for her leading male character from a Highlander who appeared with the Second Doctor.

Finally, for historical fiction, there is no one better than Beatriz Williams, in my humble opinion, so I would definitely pick up The Secret Life of Violet Grant, which captures both 1960s New York and Berlin in 1914.

Happy reading and shopping!

Farin, Marketing

I’ll quit bragging about the Hotline now… and let a few other people do it for me! Look at the lovely things people have been saying on twitter:

 

There’s still time to ask for a personal book recommendation from the Penguin Hotline! The page is up until 12/23, for all you last minute shoppers. Let us dish about the books we think you and your giftees will love!

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Penguin_Hotline_Personalized_Facebook_Post2When I was told I was assigned a project for the President of Penguin, scenes from The West Wing immediately flooded my head.  Would we be meeting all hours of the day and night? Did I have to perfect my walk and talk skills? Was Penguin’s President, just like President Jed Barlett, a master of the jacket flip?  If you get none of these references, then you need to immediately stop and search YouTube for “Jed Bartlett Jacket Flip” and “West Wing Walk and Talk”.  Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

All caught up?  Great.  Anyway, my first actual thought was “What is this big project?”  I soon found out: the Penguin Hotline.  Madeline McIntosh, the new President of Penguin Publishing Group, envisioned a service akin to the Butterball Turkey Hotline made so popular during the holiday season.  For more than three decades, Butterball has been answering calls — and lately tweets and e-mails — from amateur cooks who need advice about their turkeys. Why not bring that same kind of service to book selection questions, Madeline wondered?   Why struggle with the research and uncertainty involved in deciding what book to get someone when you could instead have a book publishing professional offer you a tailor-made set of recommendations?

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Well, I’m proud to say that after weeks of hard work, the vision is complete and underway.  Penguins from across the company (317 Penguins, to be precise) banded together from all corners of the office.  Not just marketers, editors, sales people and publicists, but also colleagues from administration, legal, operations, copyrights, managing editorial, design and more—every department joined in.

With the volunteers in place, the site built and the advertising ready, only one question remained:  would they come?  We had built it, but would people use it?  Would we be recommending tons of books each day or would we be sitting around, quoting the West Wing (which, coincidentally, a lot of us can do at the same time)?   Well, I’m happy to report that after a week of the Hotline being open for business, it is most assuredly the former.   We have been flooded with (over 1,500!) requests from book lovers asking us to recommended books for them, their children, spouses, parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, neighbors, coworkers and more!

So, what are you waiting for?  Don’t know what to get the friend who loves New Girl and likes to read historical fiction?  Stumped about the cousin who hasn’t picked up a book in ages?   Concerned about what to get your neighbor who has a penchant for firearms AND baking?  Well, c’mon and ask the Hotline!  The Penguins are waiting for you.

www.penguinhotline.com


NYComiccon2WELCOME TO THE ONE AND ONLY New York Comic Con. Walking into the Javitz Center off 11th Avenue, I was not prepared for the plethora of fans bouncing off each other with pure adoration. The aura of Con was beaming with contagious excitement. From the moment I stepped in, I heard “can I take a picture with you?” This question was asked frequently with great admiration for all the costumes, fandom, and creativity. This question, of course, was never directed at me, as I was dressed in boring work attire. At one point, I bumped into someone and he turned and said “Sorry!” I looked at him to say, “don’t be silly, it was my fault.” When he looked me in the eyes, I jumped back. Those white-eyed contacts were jarring, especially with an endearing smile that revealed bloody fangs. Conclusions: Comic Con is another universe. Comic Con is cool, so cool. And Comic Con is the definition of togetherness. I couldn’t help but flip through my thoughts on what I would have dressed up as, and how I wish I had. Sailor Moon? Zelda? Daenerys? Maybe next year…

The first day, I was able to interview James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner for the Beaks & Geeks podcast. I must admit that I fangirled super hard as we chatted by the press lounge. Our interview went well, as did the others. Between Thursday and Sunday, we were able to speak with James, Daniel José Older, Amber Benson, Romina Russell, Myke Cole, and Patrick Rothfuss. Check it out, the playlist is embedded below!

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Last sunday was such a lovely fall weekend. My boyfriend and I strolled around Park Slope, enjoying the crisp mid-October weather. After a cozy brunch, complete with French press coffee, we went looking for a place to watch the football games. On the way, we found the farmer’s market. Dog and cat adoption trucks lined 5th Avenue in what had to be the cutest display of large vehicles I’ve ever seen. As obsessive animal lovers, we remained there for an unreasonable amount of time before heading into the market for some fresh pickles. Down the road I stumbled across this beautiful scene: autumn colored balloons caught in one of the trees lining the street. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the moment as much as we did.

Until next time.

Cheers,

Lindsay


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.

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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!

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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


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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.

 

 


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?

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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


The leaves have started falling

The leaves have started falling

Summer is official coming to an end and we are feeling it in the office. It has been a rather quiet August at Penguin, with everyone jumping to take their last summer vacation before we all take a deep breathe and hunker down into our desks for the Fall publishing season.

There have been dozens of beach photos filling our Facebook feeds, endless alfresco dinning after work, and a steady stream of picnic, boating, kayaking, brunch, and rooftop pictures overwhelming Instagram. Summer is coming to an end and we are sending it out in style by cramming as many outdoor things into the small amount of time that is remaining.

Across publishing, but definitely in my department of Consumer Marketing, we have a noticeable slow down in our workload during the summer months as less books are being published and more people are off enjoying vacation. But with “Back-to-School” now literally just around the corner, there is no ignoring the fact that our casual and relaxed summer work days are at an end. Fall is fast approaching as evident by the ever surprising piles of fallen leaves littering the sidewalks of New York City, the cool (and getting cooler) breeze that meets me as I leave my apartment in the morning, and the fleet of food trucks that slowly at first and now in force have been returning to our corner of Manhattan.

IMG_0867While most people I know are dreading September, I have been looking forward to it since the very first day of summer. (I am not a summer person.) I am relatively new to Penguin and to the adult work world. This is only my second Fall as a full-time employee and I am just as surprised now as I was then, that being an adult doesn’t mean your calendar year changes. Publishing (at least in my experience) follows the academic school year, which makes sense as that is when a significant percentage of the population is reading.

Over the last month we have begun making Fall site and digital marketing plans. We been gathering information from departments across the company, making Fall digital marketing plans, reviewing the Fall book list, and sitting quietly at our desk, knowing that this is in fact the lull before the storm. The wave of work is just around the corner!

Wandering the West Village

Wandering the West Village

As someone who not so long ago was in college, I can’t help but see the similarities between school and work. Gathering up your things to move back to campus, making plans to see your friends, back-to-school shopping, and reviewing the syllabi. It is amazing how similar the feeling of nervous excitement and anticipation that I have now is to back then!

We have a solid Fall coming with our plans hashed out for the next few months and are gearing up to start our winter planning (because you can never be too prepared!). It is going to be a busy and a fun one and I cannot wait, because Fall really is New York City’s best season! And if you don’t believe me I will defer to one of my favorite quotes:

 

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils…” – You’ve Got Mail

What are your favorite places to go and things to do in the city during the Fall?


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This week has been a little quiet – lots of people are out on vacation, reading their books on the beach or another idyllic location. Well, I may be in the office, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a beachy environment – with a little help from our stuffed penguin.

As you can see, work is very serious and buttoned-up and no fun at all.

 

 

 

 

Speaking of vacation, I got to interview the wonderful and hilarious Emma Straub for the Beaks and Geeks Podcast. We talked about road-trips, cold beaches, weird Americana … and even her novel.

I loved hearing about the different types of vacations families take – are you a road-trip, national-park-visiting, camping-and-hiking vacationer or a stay-in-a-hotel, relax-poolside, easy-breezy vacationer?

In other news, First to Read, which lets one read new Penguin books before they are released, just hit 20,000 members last week! It’s such a wonderful program, headed up by our very own John Mercun – who you may remember from his Staff Picks. If you’re not already signed up, hop to it! There are some exciting titles coming up.

Hope you have great weekends, readers!

-Amy


This has been an exciting time for our podcast. After posting my interview with Damien Echols and Lorri Davis last week, the Beaks & Geeks Soundcloud page more than doubled in track plays. Listeners from all over the world were excited to hear the happily married couple talk about the West Memphis Three case, relationship advice, and moving to New York City.

A Huffington Post article this morning listed 5 Books That Will Rip Your Heart Out (In a Good Way), which features our titles: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I interviewed Jean on the Beaks & Geeks podcast a few weeks ago for her new novel, Mambo in Chinatown, and she could not have been a more excellent guest. She’s intelligent, funny, and sweet, and it’s no surprise that her novels are heartwarming. fireisland Amy’s interview with Jojo Moyes will launch soon, so keep an eye out for it.

Can you believe a week from today will be August 1st? Wow, the end of summer really snuck up on us there, didn’t it? Time for last minute sick days, I mean vacation days to the beach. I haven’t even made a dent on all fifty seven thousand summer reads I planned on finishing. After two beach trips, one to Spring Lake, NJ and another to Fire Island, NY (pictured right) you’d think I’d have made it through more than two books…. Can someone please teach me how to speed read?

I’m super excited to finally get my hands on a copy of Paper Towns by John Green. After reading both Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, I’ve wanted to read more of his work. Paper Towns is set to be the next movie by the renowned author, starring TFIOS actor, Nat Wolff, as Quentin Jacobsen. We even share a last name, so he’s clearly a fascinating guy. PaperTownsimageQ has an appealing, familiar voice, just as the protagonists in Green’s other great novels. Green is a master of creating a nostalgic story for the reader while also conveying insightful and compelling quotes that capture your heart. I don’t think a John Green novel is incapable of producing quirky quotes. Just listening to him ramble on about wearing makeup was enough for me to transcribe his one liners for my own amusement. One of my favorite quotes so far in Paper Towns:

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.” –John Green, Paper Towns

Are you enjoying your beach books? I’m interested to hear what you’re reading so maybe I can jump on the bandwagon with you this summer. Also be sure to comment and let me know if you have any speed reading tips. Ah, the woes of being surrounded by books. Life is good.

Thanks everyone, enjoy the rest of July! Stay cool.

-Lindsay


It is officially summer in New York City! And with that comes ice cream as a perfectly acceptable choice for lunch, iced coffee with breakfast, lunch and dinner, long searches for the best beach book, stay-cations and vacations alike, and all of the other wonderful things that the warm weather brings.

I hope everyone had a lovely July 4th, and while it was raining on Friday out on the North Fork of Long Island (where I spent the weekend) the rest of the weekend was beautiful and filled with BBQs, the beach, and wine tasting–as all good weekend should be! We were in a little bit of a World Cup fever in the office the week before and while I am not a soccer person I did watch both games while I was stuck inside listening to the game on July Fourth and am both happy and sad to report that soccer made a fan out of me right at the very end! But back to work…

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.22.06 AMOn Tuesday I ran a twitter author chat with Jean Kwok, the author of Mambo in Chinatown. She is a very interesting woman and had a lot of very thought provoking and deep things to say about class and social standing and her experiences growing up. Plus, she has a great sense of humor! I recommend reading the chat thread here and joining us next week at 1PM on Tuesday, July 15th. What I enjoy most about these chats is that every one I do is so different. Sometimes when you are reading a book you forget there’s an author who’s thoughts and experiences brought the story to life. It is nice to be reminded of the person behind the page and hear what they have to say. Often times they have great writing tips too!

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I also attended author Celeste Ng’s reading on Wednesday night at the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. I was interested in the book to begin with but after listening to her reading I just needed to get my hands on it! Lucky for me the book was waiting for me on my desk the next morning. I can tell you right now that Everything I Never Told You will be coming home with me this weekend!

Rather than describing the book myself I thought I would let Celeste. During Wednesdays reading she said that,

“Everything I Never Told You on the one hand it is about the things that people sort of deliberately keep from each other, the secrets that they choose not to tell because they are afraid, because they are ashamed, or because they are embarrassed. But I think it also speaks to the things that often go unsaid just because we don’t realize that other people want to hear them.”

dartsTo round out the week a few of us from the office decided to have a friendly darts competition last night. Amy and I won the first round. By the second round, there was as much tension as the World Cup, even though we lacked the skill to back up our trash talking. However all of our collective competitiveness came to a grinding halt when Sarah, one of our Web Designers, stood up and casually hit a lucky bulls eye, silencing the group and putting us all to shame.

I am not the only one who gets competitive during friendly games am I? If you have a story I would love to hear it! Have a great weekend and talk to you soon!

-Shelby