Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall Preview: A Season of Potential SNS victims

In yesterday's St. Louis Dispatch, the editor of their book section Jane Henderson listed a nice little fall books round-up for September and October. There are, of course, the commercial staples of any round-up of this kind, the ever-popular Stephen King and John Grisham, with a smattering of more literary fiction like Michael Chabon and John Irving. NY Magazine also published their fall preview (Sept.-Nov.), with a lot of books by authors I've persoanlly never heard of with minimal exceptions. The two lists only overlap once with their selection of The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Logically, one would assume that's the book I'm about to discuss here, but since I've never read Margaret Atwood and don't really have anything to say about that, it's not. That NY Mag info was just for food for thought.

Instead, I'd like to discuss the notorious curse of the sophomore publication, AKA "Second Novel Syndrome" or SNS, when bestselling debut authors crack under the pressure of Book 2. Two of the titles on Henderson's list are second attempts by uber-bestselling authors: Audrey Niffenegger and Jeanette Walls. Niffenegger became a household name after the screaming success of her novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, which is currently still raking in the dough after the box office release of its film adaptation.

(For more on the film, my dear friend LG over at Pop-Thoughts posted a nice review of TTW. Read it HERE!)

Walls topped the lists with her The Glass Castle, a memoir about her difficult childhood with an extreme artist mother and alcoholic father. And now, both women's second books are about to pub, Her Fearful Symmetry and Half Broke Horses, respectively.

I never used to be wary of sophomore attempts. But after the crash and burns of so many authors--like Zadie Smith's flop The Autograph Man after White Teeth or Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother following The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime --and after the public acknowledging these lackluster second novels in an actual syndrome, despite the fact that this has been happening since very early on--think about the Classics, my friends--I still can't help but be a little skeptical.

I read TTW fairly recently and absolutely adored it. It was one of the most beautiful books I'd read in a very long time. It was unique, creative, and somehow tremendously realistic in all its unreality. It is a true love story. And it's going to be a very tough act to follow. I am, of course, intrigued by Niffenegger's next novel, to see if she can hold her head afloat and beat the SNS. I hope she can because she is a talented and lovely writer who I'd love to see more from. According to Nan Graham, editor-in-chief of Scribner who snagged the US rights to Her Fearful Symmetry, is optimistic. She says that Niffenegger "has defied custom and written a spectacular second novel, which is one of the hardest things to do in the universe" (Times Online). My hopes are already higher than I'd like them to be for this one.

The Glass Castle is, unfortunately, still sitting on my to-be-read pile (which grows more looming by the day), but I have heard nothing but positives about this powerful memoir from friends, acquaintences, and reviewers alike. It received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and got a front page review in The New York Times Book Review. There's no question that this memoir touched the hearts of millions. But can Walls do it again with a book that's being described as a "true life novel" about her grandmother's days on the frontier? To me, this one has SNS written all over it. Moving from memoir to novel is particularly difficult, partially because the essence of the memoir isn't always in the writing itself but the circumstance and partially because the author is writing from experience as opposed to creating a new and unique vision on paper. It's a big leap to take.

I guess, we'll just have to wait and see...Fall isn't so far away after all.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Books to Film: Feeding the Consumer's Urge to Shop

Film adaptations are the norm these days, as Hollywood seems to have run out of fresh ideas for the most part. So, directors, producers, and screenwriters turn to books. Some choose classics, particularly anything by Shakespeare, and give it a modern twist (i.e. "Ten Things I Hate About You" is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew). Others take newer novels, particularly young adult novels (i.e. the Harry Potter series and "Marley and Me") and just adapt them for the screen. Adaptations don't change much in theory, just seeing each story from a different perspective and using their artistic license to change what they will to fit their new vision.

I personally like to read a book before I see the film adaptation. I don't like to do it the other way around because I feel like my view of it, the imagery my mind will create, is tainted by the vision of the film makers. Once and a while, I'll go see a movie anyway because I have no real intense desire to read the book in the first place. Like "Julie and Julia," which I saw on Friday.
Based on the memoir Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, a young woman living in Queens who on a whim decides to work her way through Julia Child's famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), completing all 524 recipes in 365 days, and then blog about the experience.

Usually an adaptation makes a viewer who hasn't read the book want to go out and buy it. But this film is unique. It didn't make me want to go out and read Powell's memoir (though I am intrigued to check out her blog, The Julie/Julia Project). Instead, it made me want to go out and buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Some could easily argue that the film was based on both Powell's and Child's books, which I suppose would be accurate. (The people involved in the adaptation and in the publication of Child's book certainly thought so--they even put out a movie tie-in edition for the cookbook, which in my opinion, is going a little too far.) But to me as a viewer at the time, I didn't feel like the film was about Child's cookbook, but rather about Child herself and the process of creating the cookbook. Or even more about her book My Life in France.

But despite that, I was happily met with this urge to don my apron and flip the pages of this cookbook with sticky fingers. I'm still fighting it right now in fact, knowing and my first lesson in French cooking is just a click and a couple days shipping away. The only other time I've felt so inclined to read a book that served a role in another book (or adaptation as the case may be), was when I read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. Lucky for me, I was just about to read Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat in a college lit class at the time and my craving could be appeased.

It's not so easy this time. I even made my own Beef Bourguignon last night for dinner, but I had to do it without my own copy of MtAoFC, and with the advent of the Crock Pot. So, since going out to purchase a big, fat, expensive book on French cooking just wasn't in the cards for me, I just had to be satisfied with the tips I learned in the film (tip #1: Don't crowd the mushrooms) and the cookbooks I do have in my possession. Some of which, I absolutely adore:

New Cook Book by Better Homes and Gardens (excellent beef bourguignon recipe. I know this for a fact!)
The Joy of Cooking (of course!) by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker
Chef Jeff Cooks by Jeff Henderson
The Big Book of Wok by Nicola Graimes
Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis

Don't even get me started on desserts...

Friday, August 28, 2009

RIP Reading Rainbow

PBS officials just announced the end of an era, according to Reading Rainbow (1983), the beloved children's reading program, will be airing its final episodes at noon on Monday, August 31 after nearly 30 years of encouraging children to read.

For most children of my generation, Reading Rainbow was an after-school staple like Handisnacks and juice boxes. I, for one, was ecstatic whenever the theme song would begin, my little face lit up in a smile as if someone just shoved Lite-Brite pegs in my mouth (another fantastic and sadly dying pastime).

"Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high,Take a look, it's in a book." — Reading Rainbow

You know the one I mean. That rainbow swept across the screen and made me feel normal for being such a bookworm, even at such a young age. LeVar's adventures gave me confidence to keep turning the pages, to beg my mother to take me to the library yet again, to go through the little Scholastic Book Fair catologs with such determination that you'd think I was taking the SATs. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

NPR's Ben Calhoun spoke with John Grant, the man in charge of programming content for Reading Rainbow's home station WNED Buffalo, to find out just what happened ('Reading Rainbow' Reaches Its Final Chapter').

In a nutshell, "PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read — but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do."

"Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read," Grant says. "You know, the love
of reading — [the show] encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read."

At least Reading Rainbow will still be available to educators, so the groundbreaking show won't be completely forgotten. But it's a sad day either way when encouraging children to read is no longer relevent enough to the media to keep a legendary, educational program on the air. It seems the mentality is to just teach them how and send them on their way. They never have to pick up a book again!

Just Reach for the Rainbow, my friends. Reach for the Rainbow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Celebrities: A New Publicity Tool?

Publishers use all kinds of publicity and marketing tricks to sell books. They toil over their mailing lists to decide which reviwers to solicit to write up something nice about a title, they beg radio and television hosts to interview an author, they even push authors in the direction of key events to get their name out there. But one tactic they don't employ--and perhaps should since it seems to work like a charm!--is to somehow get a celebrity just to casually tote a book around so the papparazzi can get a nice juicy shot of it. See Angelina Jolie above, for example. 

These bookworm celebs vary from week-to-week: Angelina, James Franco, Paris Hilton. But the one celeb who publishers know can make or break a book, and always will have that ability, is Oprah. Her book club is probably the most widely known and trusted book club in the world. If she likes a book, you can bet your boots that thousands of people are going out the very next day to their local booksellers to buy it. Her choices--like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett in 2007--instantly skyrocket in sales and climb their way up the bestseller lists. If Oprah wants it, so does everyone else. 

Add ImageBut it seems she has some hearty competition. In President Obama.

Today, reported that all five books on Obama's "summer reading list" have shot up in gross sales since it was announced:
The Way Home" shot up to No. 328 on's Best Seller list Tuesday
from No. 33,349 when Obama's list was first announced Monday. The others
followed suit. "A Lush Life"? From No. 74,289 to No. 10,295 on Wednesday.
"Hot, Flat and Crowded"? From No. 231 to No. 41 on Wednesday. "John Adams"?
No. 14,301 to No. 7,067 on Wednesday. And "Plainsong" rocketed to to as high
as No. 189 from its Monday position of No. 8,155.
And even though the likelihood of the President reading every page in his summer reading list is slim ("at a collective 2,300 pages, Obama would have to pour through 300 pages a day while on vacation," acording to, people are racing to their computers and clicking away at to read along with the Pres. Just as they did when he was spotted reading The Post-American World by Fareed Zakarie.

Ethical or not, aware of it or not, celebs have all the power when it comes to selling products. Just as Michael Jordan helped Nike sell millions of shoes, familiar faces from the President to Oprah to Angelina Jolie and are helping to sell books like it's nobody's business.

If only us normal folks' opinions were held in such high esteem. 

Book Review: The Spellman Files

Everyone and their brother seems to love this debut novel by Lisa Lutz. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, USA Today, the Baltimore Sun, The New York Daily News, People Magazine. Even Paramount producer Laura Ziskin (Spider-Man) snapped up the film rights. EVERYONE. And this time, The Spellman Files is exactly what the critics claim it to be: a hysterically entertaining mix of mystery and chick lit with a sharp, somewhat self-destructive heroine.

The Spellman Files follows a family of quirky--and at times, just plain crazy--private investigators with the eldest daughter, Izzy Spellman, as the guide. Lutz lays out a vast foundation for her series in this first book, really introducing you to Izzy and her hilarious family members with a wit and cynicism that you can't help but love. Mr. and Mrs. Spellman are parents one can only imagine have been exaggerated but really would take their young daughter down to the basement (aka the Interrogation Room) and question her till she admits to stealing that cookie from the cookie jar. Rae Spellman, Izzy's younger sister, really does make a sport of surveilling strangers, negotiating punishments, and bribing her siblings. David Spellman didn't take to PI work as well as the others though, becoming instead a lawyer--his family needs someone to get them out of their messes, don't they? Uncle Ray, an ex-cop, is a hysterical mess, who spends days groveling over his kidnapped t-shirt (Rae, of course), and his disappearing acts--known fondly to the family as "lost weekends"--are accepted by all involved, if not expected.

Then there's Izzy, our loveable heroine. Izzy's the kind of girl who would slash her parents' tires right in front of them to keep them from tailing her (though they naturally find a way around it), who would smash one of their headlights with a hammer so she could find them in traffic (they'd smash hers back), and who would go to visit her dentist ex-boyfriend #9 at the office just to nap in his comfy chairs and then request to borrow his BMW for a high-speed chase that can only end in destruction of property. Izzy will make you laugh so hard you cry, even while you're crying inside wanting her to love herself as much as we love her, despite her many, many flaws.

This novel is clearly character-driven with its glorious cast of characters, though the Spellmans' adventures throughout are certainly entertaining. The investigation of the Spellmans themselves makes for an interesting contrast for a family always looking through a magnifying glass at someone else, though it was under-developed throughout the first 3/4 of the novel. Izzy's detective work on the Snow case was additionally compelling, though it was wrapped up in a nice little bow by someone else. I'd much rather have seen Izzy actually solve the case correctly. It would not only satisfy me as a reader, but hey, maybe it'd up her minimal self-esteem a little bit, strengthening her character and showing some growth on her part.

I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of cohesiveness of the plot throughout. There is so much going on in was difficult to invest myself in more than just the family itself. I care about the story because I cared about the characters--not a bad thing necessarily, but it made me feel like I was missing a little something along the way. Moreover, rather than weaving the subplots together to make it feel less detached, the action is divided structurally by giving each subplot its own chapter numbers, so the book ends up with multiple chapter 1's. The sections are already jumping around in time, so why give the reader something else to be confused about? It's somewhat minor of a grievance though, as I still found this book to be highly entertaining and thoroughly recommendable.

The last word: A laugh-out-loud, delightfully fun debut that's a little rough around the edges but totally worth a read!

And check out the other books in the Spellman series: Curse of the Spellmans (now available in TP and HC, coming to MM in Feb. 2010) and Revenge of the Spellmans (now available in HC).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whatever happened to value pricing?

The price of books keeps creeping up as time goes on, just like anything else. Mass markets that were $6.99 last year are being upriced to $7.99, hardcovers are as expensive as ever, trade paperback price points are escalating by a dollar or two in places, and even MM value promotions have gone up from $3.99 to $5.99 since my start in the industry. But a 1.12 million dollar price tag? Unheard of!

Until now...

According to CBC news in Canada, Kraken Opus, a fancy UK publisher, recently announced a 850-page wine book that is expected to retail for £640,000--The Wine Opus. The book will discuss the top 100 wineries in the world, a list that will be compiled by the "United Nations of Wine" (who knew?). Sure, consumers will receive six bottles of wine from each of said wineries, but this is just absurd.

So, remember, even though prices are increasing at a rather shocking percentage, it could always be worse!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another book deal for Katie Crouch

I just found out that Katie Crouch's second novel, The Magnolia League, has been scooped up by Poppy over at Hachette Book Group for a Spring 2011 publication. This pleases me to no end as her first book, Girls in Trucks, was an incredibly engaging and hilarious read! The cover caught my attention first, but the meat of this well-crafted novel--which claims to be YA but, in my opinion is more women's fiction--held me in rapt attention for hours and hours until I was done.

If you haven't read it yet, pick it up. It's fantastic. Just be prepared for a quite cynical and imperfect you know, someone relatable.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book Review: Water for Elephants **SPOILER ALERT**

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen has spent weeks upon weeks on bestseller lists around the country. With its unique premise, readers and reviewers alike have raved about "the tatty glamour of Gruen's meticulously researched world" (The Washington Post) and how it "transform[s]a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale" (The New York Times Book Review).

While Gruen fills the pages of this novel with beautiful imagery and richly drawn characters, the hype around this depression-era circus tale is a little overblown. I was, of course, happily ensconsed in the depth of feeling toted around my Gruen's main character, Jacob Jankowski, and I found myself reaching for the next page again and again. Gruen's voice is enchanting and thoroughtly engaging. So, I won't make any claims to have not enjoyed reading this complexly detailed and excruciatingly emotional story. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit. But I do have some qualms about it that I can't seem to shake.

Firstly, I did not view Water for Elephants in the same light it seems as the reviewers from Publishers Weekly do when they say, "With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds[...]." Jacob, of course, had relationships with the animals in the menagerie, but I didn't feel that the book was at all about that bond. He's a vet; of course, he cares about the treatment of the animals. He spends all his working time with them too, so yes, he's going to form some sort of relationship with them. But this book did not hinge on that one bit in my opinion. Instead, Gruen's novel hinges on the personal relationships between the human characters: Jacob, Marlena, August, Walter, Camel, etc. To me, the animal relationships purely influenced the reader's feelings toward the humans. The animals liked Jacob and Marlena and they hated August and Uncle Al--their reactions amplified how I already felt about those characters.

The only potential horse of a different color here is Rosie, the lovable, hilarious elephant who finally gives August what he deserves when she hits him in the head with a stake, causing him to be stampeded. Parade Magazine goes so far as to call her the book's "majestic, mute heroine." But I can't wrap my head around that description, even with Rosie's role as the murdering, lemonade-stealing, Polish-speaking pachyderm. She doesn't even enter the book until more than halfway through, and while her presence in the book is suprememly entertaining and emotionally quite powerful at times (i.e. when August mistreats her and you watch from Jacob's POV), I don't feel like she plays that much of a role thematically. She kind of just does the dirty work for the characters, so the reader's opinion of Jacob (who possibly should have sliced August's throat like he intended to) wouldn't be soured and so there was no legal complications, while providing some comic relief.

I also am a bit bothered by the structural organization of this novel. I am all for flashbacks and parallel storylines when it's done with purpose, but here, I felt it was just done for the sake of doing it. The aging Jacob was reminiscing, sure, but he wasn't sharing the tale with another human, as in Big Fish where the father tells his son of his life in the circus. He was just remembering on his own, which seems a little bit pointless to me, especially given the fact that nothing really happens in the current day part of the story. All Gruen shows the reader here is a sad, lonely old man who has lost all his family (whether to death or to forgetfulness) and who pines after his youth. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if he told the story to Charlie at the circus; then at least it would've given the story a purpose. As it is though, it feels to me like Gruen was trying to use a technique common more often to literary than to commercial fiction, or that she used it purely to accomodate her prologue so she could tease that pivotal scene. Personally, I think the overall story would have been much more powerful without the older Jacob and had stuck to being a depression-era novel about a young man who lost everything and then found himself again in the most unlikely of places.

The other thing I'm struggling with after reading Water for Elephants is understanding why everyone thinks this is such an original novel. I do agree that Gruen did something special when she exposes the seedy underbelly of the circus in such a gritty and realistic way, but it's not as if it's never been done before. It hasn't been done often, granted, but it has been done. Big Fish, which I mentioned previously, is one very specific example. While Big Fish is a much more fantastical story that Water for Elephants, it still has a lot of the same basic plot points--a life-changing romance and an inside look at the circus. Gruen's voice in telling the story is what's so special here. Additionally, this story is more or less a patchwork of real-life events that took place throughout the history of the circus. While I am a firm believer in writing what you know, in researching a topic before you claim to know it, and by incorporating real life anecdotes and such into a piece of fiction, after reading Gruen's Author's Note I was incredibly disappointed that she took so much from fact and turned it into fiction. Almost all of the unique, humorous (and sometimes not so humorous) scenes in the book are based on actual accounts and not, as I had thought, a product of Gruen's imagination. It was a bummer to say the least.

The last word: A brilliantly written, but not-so-brilliantly crafted, and engaging novel with characters who stay with you long after you finish reading--it just could have used a little more editing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The New "Old" Face of Chick Lit

Chick Lit is being redefined--or at least it is according to the August 3 edition of Publishers Weekly. The magazine's cover article, Women's Lit: Chick Lit Gets an Update, focuses on three recently published/upcoming novels that are expected to give the genre a bit of face-lift: Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn, Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich, and Queen Takes King by Gigi Levangie Grazer.

Yet, the stigma "chick lit" has acquired over the years makes even these three writers adamant that their novel not be considered chick lit. Authors, publishers, and agents throughout the industry seem to dislike the term "chick lit" these days. It's become a taboo term in offices throughout the city, with people shying away, claiming that chick lit is dead--but just look at the bestseller lists, though, and you'll see it's alive and well--and that stories about modern women searching for Mr. Right and finding him are unrealistic and unnatural. Some of these authors no longer want to be written off as writing fairytales worthy of a Disney film. But my question is this: when was chick lit ever that way?

Of course, there are a fair share of novels out there where the girl does in fact get the guy, but as far as I've learned and read and been taught working in commercial fiction, that's not the point of chick lit in the first place. My personal definition of "chick lit" is a simple one: "chick lit" is fiction for women where the story revolves around a central female protagonist, often touting a fun and humorous tone. It's a book about the girl. It's not about her conquests or her husband or even their relationship. Chick lit will likely have all those elements somewhere but it's not the focal point of the story. A book centered on a relationship between two characters is a romance novel, not chick lit novel. Whether the protagonist gets the guy or not, who cares? It doesn't matter. Chick lit isn't about that and never has been.

Chick lit has always been more complicated than a formulaic romance novel--which, my friends, don't even think of going there, I work in romance novels and will beat down any one of you start ragging on it. And chick lit has always been "women's fiction," as is romance. They are two sub-genres of a very vast genre that varies in commercial and literary appeal. So all-in-all I'm honestly baffled here about why this topic is even news.

Yes, trends have been happening in chick lit speficially. It's become darker in a lot of ways, the character's have become more self-empowered and confident, some even downright bitchy. Yet, changes like this occur in all kinds of genres. As society shifts and new attitudes and ideas become more accepted, characters in novels are bound to evolve as well. So, who really cares? Characters have changed, I won't deny that. But the heart of chick lit drastically changing?

No way.

Check out some of these "chick lit" favs: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, Pack Up the Moon by Anna McPartlin, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner, Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella, Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fieldging, and The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More from Elizabeth Gilbert? Really?

Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love spread across bestseller lists like wildfire. Critics loved it, calling it "engaging," "insightful," and "brilliant." Publishers Weekly went so far as to claim it as a "cultural and emotional tapestry." Readers went wild for it and booksellers ate up the profits. Even now, nearly two years later, EPL is poised to make another splash in 2011, this time on the silver screen, in an adaptation starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, and Javier Bardem.

And it just keeps coming. Publishers Marketplace announced today that Viking is planning a 1 million copy print run for Gilbert's follow up, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. Expected to be "a memoir of the "tumultuous year" that came after the mega-success of Eat, Pray, Love" (Publishers Marketplace), Committed is bound to hit the lists just by nature of the author's past success.

But do we really need to hear more from Elizabeth Gilbert?
Personally, I say NO (in capital letters no less, especially given her past history of adultry, but that's another story). I was underwhelmed and unimpressed with EPL, finding Gilbert to be a petty, self-involved protagonist with more than her fair share of luck (and money), and quite frankly, I don't think the world needs any more of her toxic energy. Don't get me wrong, I am all for the universal search for identity we all go through, and I am happy to know that Gilbert went on such a soul-searching adventure and hopefully truly did come out of it a changed woman. But we don't all need to shout it from the rooftops. And if we do, such experiences should be shared with tact and grace, with compassion and an understanding that there are people much worse off than you that you need to avoid trampling over with insignificant whining. While her imagery and experiences were unique and even lush at times, I felt Gilbert was lacking that very important quality, and I was unable to sympathize with her situation. Yes, her life wasn't perfect, but in a lot of ways it was pretty damn close, and instead of taking those imperfections and A) working on them, or B) having the self-regard and initiative to rid her life of them if she couldn't deal, she just cast aside the world and went off in her own little la-la land, thinking of no one but herself. As I read, I constantly felt like shaking her and telling her "You got yourself into it, chica, now get yourself out!" Not the reaction I want from an insightful and engaging memoir.

So, please. Keep me far, far away from Committed, or someone will need to commit me.

Keeping the Books Alive

When hard times hit the economy, a widespread panic ensued in the publishing industry, as it did everywhere. People were laid off, companies were re-structured, some even dissolved completely. The growing fear that “books are dying,” especially the ones that are bound and printed old-school style, quickly escalated to dramatic proportions. While there has certainly been a significant decline in book sales, with major buyers cutting their orders, independent bookstores being forced to close their doors, and consumers leaning toward the cheaper and wildly popular e-books, the reaction has been a little out-of-hand in this blogger’s opinion. People love to read, and despite pinching pennies, they’ll always find a way to get their hands on the newest books in the market.

Try used books for starters. It’s been a trend of late to sell back and donate books in good condition to booksellers (like the Strand and HousingWorks in NYC, and the Salvation Army to name a few), where consumers can then purchase books a cost much lower than their price points. Then there are the not-so-well-known book swap websites, such as Paperback Swap, where people all over the country can swap, trade, and exchange books for FREE. Well, minus the cost for postage to mail a book off, but we’re talking minimal fee here, my friends. And if that’s too much for you, remember there are still those little things called libraries.

And then there’s my new favorite—drum roll please—Choose What You Read NY. As far as I know, this program is specific to New York City, but it has great potential to spread to major cities nationwide. CWYR is a non-profit book exchange that’s found its home in and around subway stops in the city. On the first Tuesday of every month, volunteers for CWYR are giving out donated books, just as the MTA gives out free Metros and AM New Yorks. There are three drop boxes in the city for readers to donate a book he or she has just read or it can be returned to the station on the specified date. All CWYR asks is that when you take a book to read, you drop it back off so someone else can enjoy it too!

Books dying? Come on! Just look at the fresh new ways to spread the book love!