Sarah Jean Grimm is an Associate Publicist at Putnam, where she has worked for two years. She also edits on an online poetry quarterly, Powder Keg Magazine. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Brooklyn with her orange cat, Theodore.






We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This is one of the most emotionally intelligent novels I’ve ever encountered. It had me crying in public as I read it on my commute, and I still find myself thinking about its deeply captivating characters. It’s hard to articulate the particular appeal of this novel without giving away some major plot twists, but suffice it to say that Karen Joy Fowler is a master at exploring nuance, collapsing boundaries, and exposing nerves. This book takes an unblinking look at families, forgiveness, science, and language—ultimately uncovering the ways in which they overlap as part of the human (and nonhuman) experience. Devastating and necessary, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves will change you.


On Such A Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

Chang-rae Lee’s dystopian future is that rare imaginative feat that strikes readers as simultaneously alien and impossible—if only it weren’t so likely. Set in the stratified society of a colonized America where urbanites labor for an unseen elite, a young diver named Fan ventures out of her settlement in search of her boyfriend, who has mysteriously disappeared. Lee’s writing is mesmerizing, and the world he creates is so realized and unnervingly familiar. It’s a haunting and absorbing pleasure to discover the details of this future alongside “our Fan,” whose story quickly becomes the stuff of legend.




The Peripheral by William Gibson

William Gibson’s most recent novel completely colonized my brain. Much of The Peripheral is an exercise in cognitive dissonance: the lexicon, technology, and setting are so fresh as to be almost disorienting. But Gibson’s knack for world building is a marvel; his ability to transform recognizable elements into something uncanny is unsurpassed. Add to that a gripping plot, a mystery spanning two timelines, and a cast of compelling characters. The result is hyper literary science fiction that reads like a dangerous blueprint for our own era.




Black Glass: Short Fictions by Karen Joy Fowler

In fifteen short stories, Karen Joy Fowler stretches her wit and showcases her characteristic humor. Originally published in 1998, this book will be reissued in hardcover this summer. It’s a romp through the mind of one of today’s most talented and enchanting writers. Blending the generic conventions of satire, magical realism, science fiction, myth, and more, this diverse collection investigates complex themes with profound acuity. This is immersive storytelling at its finest—a tour de force of intricate plotting, elegant prose, and humor that gives way to unexpected depth.




The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

Told from the alternating perspectives of those closest to the title character, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is a portrait of a visionary filmmaker whose uncompromising pursuit of her art puts her relationships at risk. Sophie Stark uses the lives of those around her as material for her films, and as her career grows, so does the cost of translating life into art. Through a medley of voices, each one vivid and distinct, Anna North examines the nature of ambition and asks to what extent it is possible to truly know someone. You’ll race through this darkly engrossing novel.


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Christine DonougherLes Misérables is a novel whose themes have a universal and very topical resonance, but they are themes that emerge from a narrative that is very specifically related to a particular time and place –post Revolutionary France. My translation attempts to preserve that specificity of time and place, so I was anxious not to contaminate the text, as it were, with a vocabulary or with expressions freighted with connotations from a later era or a radically different environment that would sound inappropriate or jarring.

I was also anxious not to adopt a style that was unduly mannered or artificial, not to create any sense of the ‘costume drama’. I wanted the text to read as if it was written in a living language, but not in an aggressively twenty-first-century idiom.

My approach was to view Les Misérables not from the perspective of the present, as a nineteenth-century classic, but rather to see it as the modern phenomenon that it once was, reflecting, as it did when it was published in 1862, a modern view of recent history, written by an author who was regarded–in literary terms, in his political views, in his own private life–as something of an iconoclast, a radical, a rule-breaker, a trail-blazer, but who also respected more conservative views and values, and who had contrived by the end of his life to become an establishment figure par excellence.

Hugo had a seemingly effortless mastery of French versification and had published a huge body of poetic work by the time that he was revising and completing Les Misérables in the early 1860s. He was steeped in the classics, and he knew his La Fontaine inside out. He lived in a world of political upheaval, of scientific inquiry and technological innovation, and his writing reflects all these elements.

To bring out these aspects of his writing I relied not only on translation but also on footnotes to illuminate textual features of a linguistic nature–puns, quotations in foreign languages, literary allusions etc–and endnotes to explain factual and historical references, and my hope is that this editorial apparatus is not intrusive but supportive. (While I was working on the translation I became aware of the internet community of fans of Les Misérables whose detailed knowledge of Hugo’s text and their readiness to exchange information about it are remarkable.)

I was intrigued, for instance, by Marius’s tribute to Monsieur Maboeuf, to whom he is indebted for telling him about his father: “He removed my cataracts.” The more clichéd expression would be, “He opened my eyes,” but in 1752 the French surgeon Jacques Deviel published an account of his revolutionary procedure of cataract removal, which laid the foundations for the method used right up until modern times.

I was also struck by how Les Misérables seems to have anticipated so many of the now familiar elements of later novels, thrillers and films, from the literary–there are strong echoes of Jean Valjean’s dream in the South American writer Juan Rulfo’s ghost town in his short novel Pedro Paramo, which Garcia Marquez and Borges revered as a masterpiece–to the mass market bestseller–the long, so-called digressions being not very far removed from the detailed background research incorporated into the modern techno-thriller. The chase through the sewers is memorably reprised in Carol Reed’s film noir The Third Man, based on Graham Greene’s screenplay, and the Champmathieu Affair is a forerunner of many later court room dramas.

les-miserables-by-victor-hugoSo, bearing all these considerations in mind, this translation aims to convey as directly and as unobtrusively as possibly the enduring and timeless appeal of Hugo’s great novel.

 Start Reading an Excerpt

credit Fiona Saunders

Seventeen years ago, right out of college and the Radcliffe Publishing Course, I moved to New York and went to work for the charismatic group of editors who founded Riverhead Books. Over the next four years, as an editorial assistant, I would answer phones, make photocopies, mail books and schedule lunch dates in exchange for a master class in the art of being an editor.

I had always wanted to be an editor. I imagined being left alone in a spacious office with a lot of books and papers. It didn’t take a week to realize that the reality of being an editor was very different—and much more exciting—than my fantasy. What I could not have anticipated before witnessing the chaos, the constant interruptions, the endless phone calls and multi-hour meetings around which those editors’ work days revolved, was how captivating the authors would be. I was star-struck by some of them, a little bit in love with others, and scared to death of one or two. But they were never, ever boring, and no two hours, let alone days, with them were alike. I was forced to overcome my natural introversion again and again to find ways to help, to please, to cajole and to befriend these enigmatic creatures.

When I became an editor myself, I realized just how intense and emotional these relationships could be. The authors I chose to work with changed my life. I helped them to make the most of their work, promoted their books both inside and outside the company, and faded into the background when it was their time to shine. I learned a lot by watching them, but I never wished to be one of them. They spent years writing books in private that would become suddenly public, up for judgment. It was exhilarating but terrifying. They nurtured their hopes, but they couldn’t know what publication day would bring.

While I delivered more than my share of good news over the years—got to tell some authors that their books had made the New York Times bestseller list, to enthuse over publicity coups and take them out for celebratory dinners after their Manhattan readings—I felt their disappointment acutely when things didn’t go so well: a bad review, a too-quiet launch, missed flights and poorly attended readings on tour. I loved being their behind-the-scenes support from the relative safety of my office at 375 Hudson Street, where my good friends and I gossiped and celebrated one another’s birthdays with conference room cupcakes.

A writing life would have seemed too messy and risky to the person I was then. I used to tell friends and family who aspired to write books that it was a terrible way to make a living, that if they could imagine doing anything else—ANYTHING—they should go and do that instead. I stand by that advice, and yet my book, That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us, is about to be published by Gotham.

After I‘d been working for Penguin for ten years, my husband and I had the opportunity to reinvent our lives in London—an offer too exciting to pass up. We started a family. I did some freelance editing and ghost-wrote a couple of books. Then I started looking around for a new challenge… and let’s face it, there’s nothing like a couple of little kids to help you get used to mess and risk. When one of my former authors (none other than the brilliant Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) gave me the idea to write a book about the differences between English and American culture through the lens of language, I really wanted to try it.

I spent months doing research and digging up intriguing little stories and bizarre bits of history. It was enormous fun finding my own voice after channeling other voices for so long, but the best part was imagining readers having the same thrill of discovery that I’d felt while working on the book. There are a lot of people out there who love to travel, explore other cultures, and talk about language—this book is for them. It is also for American and English expatriates going through the tortuous process of partial assimilation that I went through (and am still going through). Writing That’s Not English helped me find the humor in this experience.

I could never have imagined how satisfying work could be on the other side of the desk. There are things I miss about being an editor, though—like my colleagues. I want to say that I missed those smart and funny Penguins so much, I just had to work with them again. But the truth is, they rarely call me. Most days I am left alone in the library with a lot of books and papers, nurturing my hopes and wondering what publication day will bring.




American by birth, Erin Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books—including Eats, Shoots & Leaves—for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent.

That’s Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.


Putnam Editor Sara Minnich answers “Three Questions for an Editor” about her work on David Joy’s Where All Light Tends to Go.  This highly praised debut novel is a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption. In the meth-dealing family at the center of the book, killing a man is considered a rite of passage, but when eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely botches a murder, he is torn between appeasing his kingpin father and leaving the mountains with the girl he loves. The world that Jacob inhabits is bleak and unrelenting in its violence and disregard for human life, and having known nothing more, he wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above it.



For a debut novelist, David Joy has a writing style that feels so natural and remarkably assured as he creates an off-the-grid world populated by authentic characters that are bound to cause readers to feel a wide range of emotions.  What were your thoughts and impressions as you read the initial manuscript for the first time?

I was hooked within the first few pages of Where All Light Tends to Go. Both the writing style and the voice of the young protagonist were raw and gritty, utterly real.  After promising opening pages, I was crossing my fingers in hope that the rest of the book would hold up – and it absolutely did.  Shortly into the story things take a shocking and violent turn, and the pace only escalates from there.  Mostly I remember being unable to put it down.  The manuscript needed some work, but I knew from the first read that I loved it and that David was the real deal.


How would you describe the scope of the editor/author process as Where All Light Tends to Go evolved into a finished book?

The first draft that I read was in fairly solid shape in terms of the plot, pacing, and writing.  The element David and I spent the most time revising over the course of three drafts was the relationship between the hero, Jacob McNeely, and his love interest Maggie.  Maggie’s character needed to be fleshed out, and David did a lot of work to find her voice and to help the reader understand the magnetism between her and Jacob.  Their relationship was fundamentally transformed from the first draft to the final book, in a way that brought a lot of heart and hope to a story that is ultimately quite dark.


This novel is not your traditional “book club” book, given the gritty nature of a lot of the stories that unfold in its pages, but it feels like a book that will spark a lot of discussions.  What kinds of readers do you think will be most attracted to Where All Light Tends to Go and why?

The novel falls firmly in the category of country noir, so would be perfect for readers of Daniel Woodrell and Larry Brown.  Fans of shows like “Breaking Bad” or “Justified” would also find much to enjoy – a strong sense of place, characters that leap off the page, a grim and intense story, and a relentless pace.



Start Reading an Excerpt from Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

Barry LIVE RIGHT photo NSNI first got to know Dave Barry about twenty years ago. By that time, he’d already won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and had more bestsellers than half the publishing houses I know, but he’d never tried fiction.

Then the Miami Herald approached him and several other South Florida writers, including Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, to write a serial novel; I bought the book rights; and I loved his chapter so much, I asked if he wanted to write a whole novel. He said, sure, great idea! It wasn’t until he signed the contracts that he realized that meant he actually had to write a novel, with characters and plot and, you know, a lot of words. It was a brutal awakening. I’m not sure he’s ever completely forgiven me….

But I digress. Since then, we’ve done many books together, both fiction and nonfiction, but I have to say I think his new one may be my favorite: Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry.

It’s a collection of all-new essays about what one generation can teach to another – or not. Two of the centerpieces are letters to his brand-new grandson and to his daughter Sophie, who will be getting her Florida learner’s permit this year (“So you’re about to start driving! How exciting! I’m going to kill myself.”). Another explores the hometown of his youth, where the grownups were supposed to be uptight Fifties conformists, but seemed to be having a lot of un-Mad Men-like fun – unlike Dave’s own Baby Boomer generation, which was supposed to be wild and crazy, but somehow turned into neurotic hover-parents. Yet another conjures the loneliness of high school nerds (“You will never hear a high-school girl say about a boy, in a dreamy voice, ‘He’s so sarcastic!’”).


All of them are extremely funny, but they also have the essence of humor: real heart. They make you not only laugh (a lot), but think and feel, and I promise you will be reading a lot of it aloud to people you love, and even to random strangers. Perhaps over a beer. Here’s to you, Dave.

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Ally Bruschi is a publicity assistant at Avery who has a “To Read” list that is 73 books long and counting. She loves to read anything she can get a hold of – cookbooks, political tomes, funny memoirs, and shampoo bottles alike.  She lives in Brooklyn.





Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The only person who I would trust to tell me what to eat is Michael Pollan, because he’s not really telling you what to eat, but how to eat – consciously and simply, to put it briefly. This handy guidebook offers 64 (often pretty funny) guidelines to making your daily diet a little healthier drawn from advice from doctors, scientists  and nutritionists that Pollan has come into contact with over the years.  It’s simple, it’s small enough to fit anywhere, and it gets to the point.  Two of my favorites: “#19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t,” and “#39: Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.”




What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies

At Avery we publish many beautiful cookbooks, but this one has been my favorite from the start- it caught my eye during my first interview and I was delighted when I was allowed to take a copy home with me – I devoured the book cover to cover on my train ride home.  Katie Davies’ stunning photography and mouth-watering recipes captivate you from the second you open the book. And she photographs all of her own food for the book, too! It’s truly a work of art- but not too beautiful that you can resist propping it up next to your stove and cooking your way from start to finish.  You haven’t lived until you’ve tried her Honey-Baked Peaches – trust me.



9 ½ Narrow by Patricia Morrisroe 

I fell in love with this book by its third page, which is a rare occurrence for me.  Patricia  Morrisroe has this unique way of making her own, very personal memoir feel like an everywoman’s story of discovering her true self at every stage of life. Patricia’s hilarious, insightful anecdotes made me reflect on my own fashion mishaps, embarrassing moments, tifs with my mother, and instances of love lost and found. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel glowingly nostalgic about the trials and travails of growing up, you need to get your hands on a copy of this book – and a few more for each of your favorite women in your life.



women-in-clothes-by-sheila-hetiWomen in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton

This is not a book about shopping or fashion or even really clothes in a literal sense. In fact, I’d say it’s more about the women than the clothes. It’s about how the things we wear and keep in our closet can transform us, make us feel  more confident, express our values, and protect us –physically and emotionally – from the sometimes harsh world around us. I’d never encountered a book quite like this before, and loved the way it pulled in conversations between women from all different demographics, levels of fame, and opinions on style. You don’t have to be a diehard fashionista to appreciate this book’s unique perspective and style, and perhaps it might even be better if you’re not one.



Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’m far from the first person to adore this book – Dr. Brené Brown is a bonafide celebrity in the self-improvement world. Daring Greatly teaches its readers to embrace vulnerability and uncertainty for a more meaningful, engaged life. This book inspired me to become more of a go-getter – why let yourself get mired down in the fear of failure and let great opportunities pass you by, when you could be taking active steps to becoming a happier, more self-assured person? If you’re having a bad day where you feel like the world is against you, read a chapter of this book. Or a paragraph. Or the whole thing, twice.



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Anna Romig is a Marketing Coordinator for Putnam Books, where she’s worked for the last two years. She’s originally from Anchorage, Alaska.







Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

When I finished this book, I remember needing to physically walk away from it. It’s rare that I read something that jars me so intensely, but in a great way. David Joy’s novel, which he describes as “Appalachian noir” is a family saga, a love story about child sweethearts, and a crime thriller all at once. The story is told through the eyes of Jacob McNeely, the child of the local drug kingpin who controls the town, the people, and the police. When Jacob’s first love graduates high school and is about to leave their sleepy mountain town, Jacob fights to break away from the position he was destined to be in as his father’s heir and find a new life away from it all.




Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Snow White set in 1950’s New England. Boy Novak escapes New York City and her father, an abusive man who literally catches rats for a living, only to end up in the quite town of Flax Hill. As in all great fairy tales, things are not quite what they appear, and when Boy marries a local man with an enchanting daughter, Snow, things start to slowly fall apart. Without giving away the plot, there IS an evil stepmother in this fairytale, but it’s not who you think.




My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

M.O. Walsh’s debut novel starts with the line, “There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson.” Obviously, this novel was not going to be bright and sunny like the title implies. Instead, it’s a dark and haunting novel set in the suburbs of Baton Rouge. Everyone knows everyone: the victim, and the suspects. As the plot unfolds, the narrator, now an adult, looks back at his ruined childhood and you realize, you never really know anyone. Even if you’re not from the south or a small town, Walsh’s prose makes you imagine yourself in this small town: a glossy picture, where just one crack exposes everything lying beneath the surface.



The Strangler Vine by MJ Carter

The Strangler Vine, the first in a new series that was a huge hit when it was published in the UK last year, introduces us to a new crime-solving duo in a novel that is part historical fiction/part mystery. Think Sherlock and Watson, plucked from London and placed in 19th century British colonized India. William Avery, a by-the-books soldier is tasked with fetching Jeremiah Blake, a secret agent who has gone rogue and run off to live with the local inhabitants, and bringing him back to civilization to find the mysterious Thuggee cult. As they travel through India, they encounter tribal wars, corrupt British government officials, and the problems that come from their own troubled pasts.



Find more books on the Literary Fiction page.

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“Mark wants to write his next book about Atlantis.”

JessRenheim_photoEven though it’s been almost four years now, I remember that moment with remarkable clarity. In the summer of 2011, we had just published Mark Adams’ second book, Turn Right at Machu Picchu. It became both a critical success and a New York Times bestseller, and the book to buy if you planned on visiting Machu Picchu, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. So when it came time for Mark to submit his next book idea, I was pretty much ready to be excited about anything. Mark could write about java script updates and somehow turn it into a smart, funny, and engaging story. But even I was slightly taken aback when the proposal landed in my inbox.

Before reading Meet Me in Atlantis, my cultural reference points for the legendary lost city could be summed up as follows: an island that had sunk beneath the ocean, alien conspiracy theories, and a vague awareness of a tropical resort bearing the same name. It turns out that the actual history and source of the Atlantis story is far more fascinating and surprising.

For starters, everything we know about Atlantis comes from two dialogues written by the Greek philosopher Plato, dialogues packed with details about the sunken island. The information is abundant, but just vague enough that the specific location of Atlantis is never quite made clear. Today, most academics dismiss the tale as pure fiction, but Mark quickly learned that there is an entire global sub-culture of enthusiastic amateur explorers actively searching for the lost city based on the clues Plato left behind. For them, Atlantis was a real place, rooted in history, and waiting to be found.

What begins as one man’s skeptical inquiry into why people believe they can find the world’s most famous lost civilization becomes a full-blown quest that spans the globe to solve one of history’s greatest mysteries. In the process of investigating the top five possible sites where Atlantis might have once existed, Mark introduces readers to irresistible characters and locales. He unpacks an incredible wealth of history, philosophy, math, and myth into an absorbing narrative that sings along and captures the curiosity of even the staunchest of skeptics (I considered myself to be one of them), making you hope that Atlantis once existed beyond the imagination of Plato, that some of history is actually coded in the popular ancient myth, and that Mark Adams—driven by an insatiable and infectious curiosity—will lead you to rediscover a lost world.




Meet Me in Atlantis is Adams’s enthralling account of Mark Adams quest to solve one of history’s greatest mysteries; a travelogue that takes readers to fascinating locations to meet irresistible characters; and a deep, often humorous look at the human longing to rediscover a lost world.

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Maureen is the Academic and Library Marketing Coordinator. When Maureen isn’t reading a book or…wait, let’s face it, Maureen is always reading a book.








In the Woods by Tana French

Ah memories. This is the first Tana French book I picked up but, obviously, not my last. Not only is this book dark and suspenseful but, it has that unhappy European ending too! I LOVE unhappy European endings. I picked this book up, I didn’t put it down until I was done and, when I was done, I was so angry and disappointed with the way things went down. It was perfect! Not everything always goes the way you plan and Tana is a master of realistic mystery and suspense. In the Woods is by far my favorite of the Dublin Murder Squad series.




The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey

Undertakers, sex, people dying while having sex, and the Irish mob. Who could ask for anything more? I read this book from start to finish in…let’s say…about 7 hours. 7 HOURS! And I had things to do that day! I was hooked from the beginning and even got to learn a bit about how to embalm a dead body! I haven’t fact checked yet but I think Jeremy Massey knows what he’s talking about since he really is a third-generation undertaker. HIGHLY recommended.




The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Being somewhat of a WWII buff, I was immediately drawn to this book. It takes us on quite the adventure in Germany during WWII where two British pilots are shot down on enemy territory and, in order to survive, they throw two wounded SS soldiers off a train and take their place. Cut to: Alphabet House. A loony bin for traumatized and wounded SS Soldiers. I was on edge throughout this entire book just waiting for these guys to get caught. Two British soldiers surrounded by SS Soldiers and they can hardly even pronounce their fake names. Good luck, right?




Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez

Clearly you can tell I love European authors and Franck Thilliez gets all the love. I read 10 pages of this book and had no idea what was going on. There was so much science jargon about eyeballs I felt like I was learning how to speak another language. But, I pushed on through the next 4 pages and WHAM! I was hooked. I was now becoming an expert on eyeballs, subliminal messages, and the psyche of freaky children. I read and read and read until it was over and Thilliez has now made my favorite author list (It’s a long list, yes, but I’m very particular).




The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Alex Marwood is an Edgar Award winning author because of this book and I know why. The first things about this book that got me were the writing and the flow of the story…Marwood is a genius! Continue on to the story itself and you can’t help but be fascinated. The Wicked Girls is dark and disturbing and seriously makes you question humanity and the innocence of children. Some children are just plain wicked.




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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-gaskellNorth 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-and-other-newly-discovered-fairy-tales-by-franz-xaver-von-schonwerthThe 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-larsenPassing 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-bronteThe 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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