If you are a book lover, you probably love everything about the reading process: buying your next favorite book after hours of scoping out the latest selection at your local bookstore, hugging said book to your chest for a solid hour before finally diving in.
But if you’re also an Instagram fanatic, you are most likely a member of the bookstagram community. This means that you are probably overjoyed at the sight of a bookshelf shot, a coffee and book in a coffee shop, or just a gorgeous book stack. We are right there with you, but we want to know what your favorite thing about this amazing online community of book lovers is! Take our poll and let us know!
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In 2006, I had one of the most fortuitous lunches of my editing career with Faith Hamlin, an agent at Sanford Greenburger. We sat at the now-closed Steak Frites in Union Square and near the end of the lunch, she handed me a project in a manila envelope, telling me I should take a look at it when I was back at my desk.
That project was a one-of-a-kind Moleskine mockup of Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, a magnificently and quietly subversive little book that we bought three days later, and that went on to sell several million copies worldwide, leading to eight subsequent books and legions of devoted Keri Smith fans.
In the ten years since, I’ve shared with Keri ideas and prompts for dream projects. However, in true subversive fashion, Keri always politely acknowledges them, then sends back completely different ideas that are more genuine and amazing than anything I could come up with on my own.
So it should have come as no surprise to me that when I asked Keri to consider writing a creativity manifesto—a way to share the integrity that drives her work—she came back to me with a manifesto actually written by someone else: a secret group called The Wander Society.
But it did surprise me, and in the most delightful ways imaginable. Because after signing up the book, I started receiving mysterious letters in the mail—strange musings typed on a real typewriter, an envelope of maple tree seeds, a small, badge with hand-embroidered with a lightning bolt.
The Wander Society was reaching out to me, inviting me to join—the lines between reader and editor and author and member starting to blur.
And so this summer I found myself on the shore of Lake Michigan, tying a small Wander Station filled with the society’s pamphlets around a tree. This fall, on my sabbatical in Paris and London, I left behind stickers of Walt Whitman, the patron saint of the Wander Society. A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon wandering through the Lower East Side, ambling down streets I’d never explored before.
I don’t know who exactly The Wander Society is, but I know that Keri’s a member now, and I am too. I know that the regular practice of wandering has opened me up to the possibility of surprise, newness, and the joy that come from discovering new places.
Turns out, I really like the freedom of not knowing exactly where we’re going next—whether it’s a literal journey or a publishing one.
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Explore New York City with us this summer! In celebration of the 80th Anniversary of Penguin Books we have put together an 8-week scavenger hunt!
Each week we will post 3 clues to Instagram, one per day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday pointing to a New York City location that is linked to one of the Penguin Books 80 Bestsellers! You will have until the Sunday of that week to decipher the clues and post a photo of the location. Each week one winner will be selected from all participants. All weekly participants will be entered into a grand prize drawing. Happy hunting!
Can you decipher the mystery NYC location from Week 5?
Join the #Penguin80Sweepstakes #ScavengerHunt! Week 5, Clue 1: Grab a blanket and a book and find yourself a nice little nook, somewhere in the grass and below the trees, where you can sit and enjoy the summer breeze. Come back on 8/5 & 8/6 for the next two clues. Solve the clues and post a photo of the mystery location for a chance to #win!
Join the #Penguin80Sweepstakes #ScavengerHunt! Week 5, Clue 2: Manhattan may be an island, but there aren’t too many places where you will find a boat, but here you can rent one and go out for a little float. Out on the water and surrounded by green, lean back while your companion paddles and take in the scene. Have you figured out where this weeks location is yet? The third clue will be posted tomorrow 8/6. Solve the clues and post a photo of the mystery location for a chance to #win! Details in the link in our profile.
Join the #Penguin80Sweepstakes #ScavengerHunt! Week 5, Clue 3: One of the first structures built here amongst the trees, from this terrace there is quite a lot you can see. If you walk to the water’s edge and look to the right, this weeks location will be perfectly in sight! Post a photo of this weeks location by the end of the day on Sunday, August 9th for your chance to #win! Details in the link in our profile.
Can’t wait to get started? Sign-Up for our Newsletter to receive all 3 clues at once rather than waiting for them to be posted each day on Instagram!
Penguin 80th Anniversary Sweepstakes Official Rules
Enter for a chance to win: A copy of one of the following books, or the Grand Prize of all eight books, including A Discovery of Witches, The Omnivore’s Dilemma; The Lords of Finance; Death of a Salesman; The Rules of Civility; In the Woods; Moby-Dick and The Boys in the Boat (ARV = $14.00-$26.00 each or $145.00 for all). No purchase necessary. Entry is limited to U.S. or DC residents aged 18 and above and who have a public Instagram profile. Sweepstakes begins July 6, 2015 and ends at 11:59:59 PM Eastern Time on August 31, 2015. Winners will be selected at random weekly and on September 3, 2015 for the Grand Prize. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited by law. For the Full Rules click here.
Katherine Stewart is the Marketing Coordinator for Penguin Press. Being from Maine, she loves the outdoors and stays healthy by walking her dog and riding her horse!
Moody Bitches by Julie Holland, M.D.
Women are meant to be moody—embrace it! In this book Julie Holland explains why moodiness can be a strength, not a weakness, which is so refreshing to hear. Her tips about hormones, medication, diet, exercise, and mood are helpful for women of ALL ages and will show you why you need to embrace your inner bitch. This can be an awkward topic but the frank/funny style of this book makes it so approachable.
The Good Gut by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg
Gut bacteria sound disgusting, and while that may be true, they’re also very important! I didn’t realize how much they affect our health until I read Michael Pollan’s article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.” The article discusses the Sonnenburg’s work and how the microbes that reside in our gut affect everything from our immune response to our weight, allergic reactions, aging, and emotions. Who knew? While you may not be hungry after reading that, The Good Gut has delicious recipes that will encourage microbial health.
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
My grandfather used to play a memory game with us. He would put 30 random objects on a tray and would give us one minute to look them over. Then he would cover them up and whoever could remember the most objects would win (I never did). My sister has a great memory and won every time. Moonwalking with Einstein will not only help you improve your memory, it also makes for a fascinating read. I’m betting that I’ll win next time we play!
SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal
Don’t hate me but this title isn’t coming out until September. Make sure it’s on your to-read list though because it’s amazing. You may remember Jane from her first book Reality is Broken but if not, she’s a game designer. In 2009, she suffered a severe concussion and had trouble healing. Afraid of never recovering, she decided to turn healing into a game. I’m not a big fan of gaming (other than Mario Kart), but I’ll play SuperBetter any day. So far 400,000 people have played SuperBetter, including Oprah. Look out for this one in the Fall!
To find Health & Self-Improvement books, click here
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Andrea Lam is a Publicity Assistant at Viking / Penguin Books / Penguin Classics, where she is the in-house champion for tall ships, world mythology and folklore, and Anne Brontë.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite Victorian novelists, and North and South is easily my favorite of her novels. Gaskell wrote candidly and compassionately about class differences in British society, particularly as they applied to the heavily industrial North of England. In North and South, Southern Margaret Hale is forced with her family to move up to Milton-Northern (modelled after Manchester), where she comes into repeated conflict with mill owner and native Northerner John Thornton. As Milton-Northern’s mill workers increasingly agitate for rights, Margaret and John must come to an understanding both personally and politically, but their path is far from smooth. A bonus: the 2004 BBC series based on the novel is a wonderful adaptation, and I recommend both to just about anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.
Spunyarn by John Masefield
I usually credit my deep love for tall ships and the Age of Sail to having read the entire 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian when I was twelve years old, but I’m sure that I encountered John Masefield’s poetry some time before then. Though I know intellectually that I’d not survive the physical toil of daily life on a merchant mariner or naval warship, Masefield’s ‘Sea-Fever’ makes me long for the far-ranging view from the bow of a ship running free, and moves me like few other poems do each time I read it.
The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth and translated by Maria Tatar
I’ve been passionate about world mythology and folklore since I was very young, and when I read the news in 2012 that a cache of previously unseen German fairy tales had been discovered, I jumped to follow the story. Imagine my surprise two years later when, shortly after I started working for Penguin, I learned that not only was Penguin Classics publishing a selection of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth’s tales, the tales were to be translated by the inimitable Maria Tatar! I’ve long admired Tatar’s scholarship, and I’m so pleased that her translation of Schönwerth’s tales are now available to the reading public and fellow fairy tale enthusiasts like myself.
Passing by Nella Larsen
Nella Larsen’s short novel Passing is a poignant, painful exploration of race and racism in the Harlem Renaissance that deals with issues of racial identity formation, cultural assimilation, and self-presentation. Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry’s respective struggles with life as mixed-race women in a racist, male-dominated society still ring true today. Larsen’s other novel Quicksand, published a year before Passing, deals with related issues and is also well worth reading.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
Jane and Emily are both well and good, but Anne is my favorite of the Brontë sisters and—I feel—the most under appreciated. Anne published only two novels, the other being Agnes Grey, and in both her straightforward depiction of casual male chauvinism stands in contrast to that of her sisters’ in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. For readers accustomed to the exploits of Edward Rochester and Heathcliff, Tenant’s Arthur Huntingdon may come as a shock. Given that popular culture through history has a deleterious tendency to gloss over abusive behavior, I appreciate Anne Brontë’s refusal to do the same.
The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe
If you thought you know about witches, think again. The Penguin Book of Witches is a well-selected collection of historical accounts (all primary-source documents) of accused witches and witch-hunters in North America and England that ably demonstrates that the history of witches is the history of legalized persecution of marginalized groups. Katherine Howe’s explanatory essays and notes are both intelligent and accessible, and help to contextualize the varying time periods in which the documents were written. Witches are a popular trope in fiction for good reason, and The Penguin Book of Witches is a great look at the history behind the fiction.
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I have a confession to make: reading isn’t my favorite part of being an editor.
As much as I love discovering a wonderful manuscript, my favorite part of this job isn’t the books—it’s the authors. I relish getting to know such a varied range of talented, creative people. And they never fail to surprise me with their insights, their perspective, and the stories behind their stories.
Karen Bao intrigued me before I even met her. I had just read Dove Arising, her debut young adult novel, and was struck by its preternaturally confident voice.
I had so many questions. Had this chilling vision of the future really been woven by an eighteen-year-old? How did she write a book this sophisticated—and during her senior year of high school, no less? I’d been told she was also a concert violinist and was now at an Ivy League college studying biological sciences. The book takes place on the moon, and I couldn’t help but wonder, Where in the universe did this teenage, hyper-achieving, deft writer come from?
But when I first met Karen, it was clear she had both feet firmly planted on Earth. Though she continued to shock me with her accomplishments (You wrote Dove Arising while waiting to hear back from colleges to take your mind off the anxiety? This summer you read Anna Karenina for fun?), she was clearly, in many ways, a typical college student—hoping to get a good housing assignment, worrying about exams, and hanging out with her friends.
And the better I got to know her, the more I got to peek behind the curtain and see the inspiration for the book. Set on the moon a few centuries from now, Dove Arising is filled with technology and scientific principles pulled directly from Karen’s academic studies. But the connection between real life and fiction goes even deeper than that.
Dove Arising is the story of an introverted girl who gets thrust into the spotlight when her mother is arrested by the moon’s oppressive government. Karen told me she drew inspiration for the government of the Lunar Bases from her mother’s stories about her father, Karen’s grandfather. When her mother was a young girl in China, her father, an academic, was sent to Mao Zedong’s “reeducation” camps for several years. He came home a different man, and it forever changed their family.
Karen’s mother shared this with her when Karen was a teen, and the story made a lasting impression. And, as so many powerful emotions often do, it found its way into her fiction.
This story moved me as much as the book itself. And I thought, what an incredible tribute to Karen’s grandfather, for her to share his story in this fictitious format—to express herself in a way he was never permitted to, and use this novel to honor the very real-life battles that so many people have fought against oppression in our world.
Hearing authors’ stories is a privilege, one that makes me feel so grateful to have this special job of being an editor.
I’m thrilled to see Dove Arising take flight, but right now, Karen and I are focused on what’s next for us both: editing the sequel!
Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. When her mother is arrested, the only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider. Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble…
Start Reading an excerpt from Dove Arising!