yonahlosseeI was nine years old when my friend Emily took me to Bar-B-Ranch.  I had no other barn to compare it to, so Bar-B-Ranch felt like a paradise, but now I understand that it was shoddily run, with horses that no one else wanted and a motley assortment of bridles, saddles, and teenagers who taught us.  The way that it worked seems unfathomable to me as an adult:  day camp, held every Saturday, officially started at 8:00 in the morning, but the first kid there got to choose any horse she wanted.  And so I was always the first kid; we would leave the house at 5 AM (that what was my parents’ limit) and arrive at 5:20; then my dad or mom, whoever drew the short straw that day, would wait in the car until the sun rose, and then drive away.  I would sleep in my breeches the night before.  But I could barely sleep—the anticipation felt so acute it was almost painful.  The next earliest child arrived at 7, and so I was always first, except for one time, when an eager girl with curly hair, a little older than I, beat me by fifteen minutes.  It did not happen again.

After you chose your horse (I always chose CJ until a beautiful white mare EPSON MFP imagenamed Crystal came along).  CJ was old and grouchy but he was fast, and had a smooth gait.  You chose your style of riding for the day:  English, Western, or bareback.  I chose bareback, or English .  Then the teenagers would herd the two dozen children and their horses into a big field, and we would ride for hour, culminating in a race back to the barn, which is, I know now, an awful, dangerous idea.

For lunch we all piled in the backs of two pick-up trucks and went to McDonald’s; we came back and re-saddled our horses and went on a trail ride, which usually meant that we alternated between walking slowly and galloping wildly through the woods behind the ranch.  Then our parents would come to collect us, and I always hated this moment, because it meant another six days between me and a horse.

EPSON MFP imageThere were so many ways that a child could have gotten hurt:  I could have so easily fallen from CJ on the race back to the barn, and been trampled beneath the other horses’ hooves.  Or been hit by a low-flung branch while galloping through the densely wooded trails.  At every other barn I rode at my parents had to sign a release form, and I had to adhere to so many safety precautions that I learned to be cautious around horses.  It seems impossible that no child was ever seriously injured at Bar-B-Ranch.  Yet no one ever was, at least to my knowledge, and the place’s continued existence seems proof that nothing horrible ever happened.   It was a place where you could do anything on a horse—you could jump bareback, you could ride backwards, you could even win a race against twenty other horses—and do all of this fearlessly.

barchestertowersName:  Sue Grafton, author of Kinsey and Me

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author:  Any of the novels of Anthony Trollope.
Why do you love this Penguin Classic?   I’m a fan of Anthony Trollope in part because we share a birthday, though his, I feel compelled to report, came well before mine.  I admire his work ethic, his industry, and the easy style with which he writes.  He wrote his novels between 5:00am and 8:00am each day before reporting for his full-time job as a postal worker.  His treatment of women is lovely and I’ve learned a great deal about story-telling from reading his many novels.  I started with Barchester Towers and I believe at last count, I’d read sixteen or so of his books.

What should I read next?  I’d be hard-pressed to decide where a reader should start with his works.  Pick just about any of the novels and you should be able to tell if Trollope suits you as he’s suited me all of these years

secretgarden2Name: Sarah Jio, author of The Last Camellia

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Why do you love this Penguin Classic?  When I think back to the books that have influenced my writing, and also my spirit, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden is at the top of the list. Like many young readers, I devoured this book as a child, and the story has remained with me ever since. It teaches us about the beauty that lies beneath the thorns, and reminds us that when all seems lost, and when the weeds are high, in our gardens and in life, hope still abounds.

What should I read next? I get nostalgic about Christmas (and yes, I admit to listening to holiday music way before one should turn it on; ahem, in October) and so it delights me to turn to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol each season. This year, I’ll be reading it aloud to my young sons.

portraitofaladyName: Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

Why do you love this Penguin Classic?  It is not merely my favorite Penguin Classic; it is my favorite novel of all time, period. I care more about the life of Isabel Archer than I do about most figures in history — living or dead, real or imagined. I read this book every few years and watch Isabel grow and transform in my own imagination, as I get older and see her differently with time. She only ever fascinates.

What should I read next? Middlemarch by George Eliot. I long for Dorothea Brooke and Isabel Archer to meet, to befriend each other, to make each other’s lives better.

tortillaflatName: TC Boyle, author of San Miguel

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck

Why do you love this Penguin Classic?  This is both hilarious and charming, a tale about a group of friends who shirk society (and, especially, work) in order to lie up in the sunny weeds and drink wine.  It reaches mythical proportions.  The characters–all of them, from Danny, the hero, to Torelli, the wine merchant, to the Pirate and his dogs—shine on forever inside of me.  This is a book to read and re-read.  And love.

What should I read next? Stick to California.  Stick to Steinbeck.  I’d pick Of Mice and Men.  According to my daughter, when she was a child and I read it aloud to her, she saw me break down and sob for the first and only time in her life.  Oh, that ending!

Excerpt (19)
Excerpt The Interestings Meg Wolitzer (Riverhead)
Excerpt The Cool Impossible Eric Orton (NAL)
Excerpt Archipelago Monique Roffey (Penguin)
Excerpt The Last Camellia Sarah Jio  (Plume)
Excerpt The Names of Our Tears P. L. Gaus (Plume)
Excerpt Up Hilary Tindle (Hudson Street Press)
Excerpt Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse  Alida Nugent (Plume)
Excerpt Choke Point Ridley Pearson (Putnam Adult)
Excerpt Eleven Rings Phil Jackson (Penguin Press)
Excerpt The Broken Places Ace Atkins (Putnam)
Excerpt We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood Books)
Excerpt Heart of Obsidian Nalini Singh (Berkley)
Excerpt The Tao of Martha Jen Lancaster (NAL)
Excerpt No One Could Have Guessed the Weather Anne-Marie Casey (Amy Einhorn Books)
Excerpt Loyalty Ingrid Thoft (Putnam Adult)
Excerpt The 9th Girl Tami Hoag (Dutton)
Excerpt Until She Comes Home Lori Roy (Dutton)
Excerpt Gameboard of the Gods Richelle Mead (Dutton)
Excerpt An Atheist in the FOXhole Joe Muto (Dutton)

Podcast (1)
Podcast The World’s Strongest Librarian Josh Hanagarne (Gotham)

Reading Group Guide (13)
Reading Group Guide Life After Death Damien Echols (Plume)
Reading Group Guide And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide Cascade Maryanne O’Hara (Penguin)
Reading Group Guide Help, Thanks, Wow Anne Lamott (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide God’s Hotel Victoria Sweet (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man Nick Dybek (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide The Memory of Love Linda Olsson (Penguin)
Reading Group Guide Appointment in Samarra John O’Hara – Author; Charles McGrath – Introduction by; Neil Gower – Jacket Illustrator (Penguin Classics)
Reading Group Guide A Sense of Direction Gideon Lewis-Kraus (Riverhead)
Reading Group Guide A Map of Tulsa Benjamin Lytal (Penguin)
Reading Group Guide Looking for Me Beth Hoffman (Pamela Dorman Books)
Reading Group Guide We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood Books/Putnam)
Reading Group Guide The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead)

Video (3)
Video  The 5th Wave Rick Yancey (Putnam Juvenile)
Video The Third Coast Thomas Dyja (The Penguin Press)
Video Blowback Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett (Blue Rider Press)


trueThe number one question I get asked in interviews these days is “What is New Adult romance?”

The short answer is that it’s a romance that features a heroine between the ages of 18 and 25.

The long answer is that it fulfills not only the age gap between YA and adult romance, but it delves into the pivotal life choices that females make at this age without the presence of parents, and with friends and romantic relationships as the strongest influence.  It’s a time of great freedom and exposure to new people, but it always means new responsibilities and messy mistakes.  Wince-worthy mistakes.  Hey, they don’t call them beer goggles for no reason.

Personally, I find the intensity and the passion of that age awesome and fascinating.  I remember staying up all night at Denny’s talking about how we were going to change the world and attending protests against human trafficking and rallies for Green Peace.  I also remember choosing to go out for Backbeat Night at the club instead of studying for an exam and totally sleeping right through it the next morning.  Which would fall under the category of Poor Choice.  But the friends I made in college are still some of my best friends and I think I matured more in two years than in the previous six before that.

So I enjoyed revisiting those years in writing True, my first New Adult novel.  Rory is the silent observer at college, a pre-med student, the sidekick to her more vivacious roommates.  When they introduce her to Tyler, a charming bad boy with tattoos and a dysfunctional family, she finds his interest puzzling, but is willing to ignore the red flags in order to experience her first sexual experiences.  What she doesn’t expect to do is fall in love with him.  Tyler doesn’t either, and he realizes that he has made a huge mistake in involving Rory in his life, which includes a drug addicted mother and a father in prison.  Will logic win out over love?

I hope readers will have fun (and maybe cry) reading True and if you bump into my mother, let’s not mention to her that I skipped class because I was hungover, ‘kay?  Thanks. :)



mobydickName: Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Bunker Hill

Favorite Penguin Classic Title/Author: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Why do you love this Penguin Classic?  I like it because it contains the meaning of life, it’s our American Bible.

What should I read next? Next read is Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast edited by the inimitable Thomas Philbrick.

BEA_Cover_2013-2The Penguin Book Truck was inspired by several things. Back in 2010 when we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Penguin Books, we acquired and designed the Penguin Car, a Mini-Cooper, painted Penguin Orange, with our famous brand all over it. The car was a great hit, visiting some of our most prominent authors in their hometowns across the U.S., and hosting anniversary celebrations at their local bookstores. As I said, everyone loved the car, loved the use of our famous brand, but being that it was a small car, there wasn’t much room to hold books!

After that, we noticed a big increase in the presence of Food Trucks around the office, and throughout New York City. Some are quite big, all are brightly branded and of course they are mobile, eye-catching and visible. We thought, a truck, in the spirit of the prominent Food Trucks, or the idea of the retro Bookmobiles, would be a great way to promote our iconic brand and wonderful books by, as we like to say, “Bringing the writer to the reader”,

The final thing that inspired us was our colleagues in the UK. They had created a wonderfully designed and branded pushcart, to use for promotion and sales in London. We were inspired to do the same thing, but wondered “How would we deliver our U.S. version of the Penguin Pushcart to events?” This brought up the idea of going forward with the Penguin Book Truck, which had been on the back-burner for a while, as literally a vehicle (no pun intended) to store and deliver The Penguin Pushcart, and be a marketing and sales vehicle in itself.

Follow the Penguin Truck around the country, at www.penguintruck.com

John Fagan is the Vice President & Director of Marketing at Penguin Books/Plume/Hudson Street Press and the Executive Director of Academic Marketing & Sales.