Tag Archives: Celeste Ng

Debuts out in Paperback

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I often wrestle with when to review a book…when it first comes out, and there is a lot of hype about the title, but it is only available in hardback or via e-book, or later after it comes out in paperback, but when it is no longer being actively reviewed by others.

I know some of you read on Kindle, so for you the price (and weight) of a book is always the same. But if you read a paper book there is a difference between buying a hardback and a paperback. And I’m curious, for paper book readers, do you wait for new releases to come out in paper before you buy them? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

And if you are interested in the history of the hardback – paperback release tradition, I found this article in the Economist.

Debuts from 2014 are coming out in paperback this summer. The paperback release is a second coming for a book, and for those of you in NYC, Julia Fierro is having a party at BookCourt for the paperback release of Cutting Teeth tomorrow night, July 7th. Cutting Teeth is a comical book about a group of parents who go on a long weekend together with their kids. The group will never be the same.

Other debuts out now (or soon) in paper:

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, one of my favorite reads of last year, and made it to the NYT bestseller list.

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, one of my favorite reads of this year, will be out in paperback in mid-August. This book also just won a medal of recognition from the American Library Association.

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton. I didn’t review this one, but it was well received last year. It is set in the 17th century and is about a woman who gets a miniature replica of her home as a wedding gift and real-life dramas get played out in miniature form.

We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas. I also did not review this one yet, mainly because of the heft. At over 600 pages, I was daunted when I picked up the hardcover in the bookstores, but now that it is out in paper it feels more accessible. And it has also been well received. It tells the story of an Irish-American family in post-WWII Queens.

To paperbacks in the summer!

Photo credit: By Frank H. Nowell (California Building), via Wikimedia Commons

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Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

Everything

Everything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng

The Penguin Press, 2014

297 pages

I was pulled into this book with its opening line, “Lydia is dead.” Lydia is a teenage girl who goes missing in the middle of the night in a small Ohio town in the 1970s. She is found dead a few days later. Her parents, Marilyn and James Lee, and their two surviving children, Hannah and Nath, move forward, while struggling to understand how Lydia ends up dead. The book tells the story of the family’s grief, and their search for answers, while also recounting their history—how the parents met, how the family got along, and what Lydia’s life was like growing up. This is a book about loss, but it’s also about difference. James is of Chinese descent and the Lee children are the only Eurasian kids in their Midwestern community. As the story of Lydia’s death unfolds, Ng digs into the extent to which her race, and racial identity, lead to it.

This book is one of my favorite reads of the year. I loved Ng’s writing (detailed, but not overly so) and how she built the mystery around the cause of Lydia’s death. I also felt very connected to the characters and their struggles: Hannah the invisible little sister, Nath the older brother on the cusp of going off to college when Lydia dies, James an academic, trying his best to hold himself together, and Marilyn, a housewife who struggles to come to terms with the loss of her bright and shining daughter. This is a moving story of family togetherness and family alienation.

Amazon named this book the Best Book of 2014. Ng was also recently mentioned in a Buzzfeed article featuring “20 Under 40 Debut Writers You Need To Be Reading.”

Ng lives in Massachusetts with her family. I look forward to her next book!

I bought this book at Book Culture.

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Reading on a Kindle, Part Two

Kindle

As much as I love the Kindle for convenience—the ease of buying a book from my bed at 10 pm on a rainy night and the ease of travel with five or 50 books without added luggage weight—I struggle to read on the Kindle on a daily basis.

I don’t like that the title and author name are only visible when I make the header pop up. I will be deeply engrossed in a book and when I talk to someone about it, I can’t remember the title or the author. That never happens with a print book, as I regularly look at the front and back while I am reading.

But the larger issue for me is that the Kindle makes all books look and feel the same. I love the artifact of the book as much as the ideas contained within the pages. I relish the small physical details, like the paper texture, the font, the cover art, the weight of the book in my hands and the scent of its pages. With the Kindle, all the books weigh the same, there is no unique scent and the page and layout begin to blur into one Kindle look and feel.

The sameness of reading on a Kindle reminds me of how I first felt about email. I loved the ease and speed of email when it debuted, but I missed the personal quality of letter, and for the first few years that I had an email account, I continued to write letters and postcards to friends. But now after almost 20 years with email, I rarely send a letter. The future will only tell if I am willing to let go of the book.

And I might not be alone with my book attachment. The latest Nielson Books & Consumer survey showed that in the first half of 2014, paperback purchases were in the lead with 42% of sales, followed by hardcovers for 25% and e-books at 23%.

How about you? Do you read on a Kindle? Do you like it?

Next week I will write about a book I deeply enjoyed, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. It was recently chosen as Amazon’s Best Book of 2014, and I fully agree with this accolade.

 

 

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