All posts by Amy Brinker

Staff Picks and Q&A about Read Ahead: Megan

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below! Megan, Assistant Editor, Audio Megan is the friend who’s reading a book when you show up to dinner and recommends no less than six others over the course of your meal. If you can’t find her in a book or at a restaurant, she’s likely listening to a podcast on her commute or up in the air en route to her next trip. Megan is also a member of Read Ahead’s Junior Board and has been a volunteer for four years. Read Ahead is a charitable organization that matches mentors with children to foster a love for reading and promotes literacy. Read below for Megan’s interview about her volunteer work! RA: What is the most rewarding part of volunteering with Read Ahead? MM: The most rewarding part of my experiences volunteering have been with my student, Yetzibeth. She brings so much excitement and enthusiasm to every kind of book that we read together. We’ve read books that range from Barbie princesses to non-fiction books about bees. It’s incredible to see her excitement grow with each session – she is just so imaginative. When we start to get into a book she really likes, she can’t wait to turn the page and see what’s next. I learn as much, if not more, from her than she does from me. RA: How has your relationship with her grown? MM: We understand each other more as we continue to get to know each other. We aren’t just reading together the whole time. When we first started she would come in and we would sit down and read together, but as we’ve gotten to know each other we’ve become a lot more comfortable, spending more time talking and learning about each other. RA: Is there a book you’ve read together that has been particularly successful? MM: She has such a range of interests – we’re always reading about something new. One book that she really loved was “The Day The Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt – it really is a great story and she was so excited by it.

Staff Picks: Natasha

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below! Natasha, Associate Manager, Consumer Engagement Natasha is a social media person by day and reader by night. She enjoys books that will either inspire her or make her cry — there’s really no in-between. You can probably find her at a bagel store or taking photos of brownstones in Brooklyn.  

Q&A with Camille Perri, author of When Katie Met Cassidy

Camille Perri, author of the delightful new romantic comedy novel When Katie met Cassidy answered a few questions about New York, new love, and more. So much loving detail is given to clothing in this novel – can you tell me a little about how you present your main characters? I like clothes. I like fashion; particularly men’s fashion. Both my father and my grandmother on my mother’s side were tailors, so I think it’s in my blood. In terms of fiction writing, clothing serves as an efficient and fun method of characterization. You can not know a single thing about someone—a stranger who steps into a restaurant, let’s say—but their clothing tells you so much about them before they even open up their mouths to speak. Clothing reveals what a character is trying to project, as well as what they’re giving away about themselves without even realizing it: their socioeconomic class; their confidence level; their vulnerabilities. For Cassidy, the clothing she chooses to wear is of utmost importance because it functions as a reflection of her gender identity. Everything she puts on has been curated. Her clothes are her armor. Katie, on the other hand, is always deliberating about what to wear. Depending on where she’s going and which version of herself she wants to accentuate, her clothing varies greatly. I think of Katie’s many costume changes as a reflection of the way she’s still trying on different versions of herself in this novel. She’s still searching for what feels right, which version of herself is the most authentic. This book is such a joyful, fun depiction of two women falling in love – that’s still pretty rare. Are there any books or movies with romantic relationships that meant a lot to you? My favorite lesbian romance of all time is the 1999 movie But I’m a Cheerleader, starring Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall. RuPaul is also in it, so is the brilliant Melanie Lynskey. It’s a satirical comedy about a cheerleader who is sent to conversion therapy camp to cure her lesbianism. It’s one of the smartest, funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The magic of this film is that it’s so much fun to watch as it tackles the complexity of hetero-normativity and the social construction of gender. Do you have a favorite romantic comedy? Everything Nora Ephron. My novel isn’t called When Katie Met Cassidy for nothing! But shh…my favorite Nora Ephron rom-com isn’t When Harry Met Sally—it’s You’ve Got Mail. What I love about all of Ephron’s romantic comedies though is the way they’re more than just love stories. They also function as reflections of something specific going on in American culture at the time they were made. YGM, for example, is more than a simple feel-good story about two people in an online romance who are unaware that they’re business rivals. It’s also about how romance was changing with advances in technology, and how chains of mega bookstores were putting beloved independent shops out of business at alarming rates. I guess I like a little bit of social commentary with my romantic comedies. And nobody did that better than Nora Ephron. Katie grew up pretty sheltered and has always thought of herself as straight. Why did you want someone new to dating women as one of your protagonists? I liked the idea of someone who has never before been romantically attracted to a woman, and who’s never considered herself anything but straight and “normal,” to suddenly have to rethink her assumptions. Most of us who identify as LGBTQ at one time thought of ourselves as straight, too. That process of opening oneself up to a different path is very interesting to me and ripe for good storytelling. Part of the issue for Katie, too, goes beyond her surprise at her attraction to Cassidy; it’s also that Katie is someone who very much needs to be liked. She yearns to be approved of. It’s difficult for her to risk upsetting her parents, or to accept that if she’s out with Cassidy, some people will look at her differently, in a way that may not be as approving as she’s accustomed to. That’s what I wanted to write about because part of coming to terms with being read as gay is adjusting to the fact that there will be some people out there who aren’t going to like you, no matter how hard you try, solely because of this one aspect of your personhood. You previously worked as a books editor for Cosmopolitan and Esquire – what would surprise the average reader to know about that kind of job? I think the average reader would be surprised by how many Readers with a capital “R” and book lovers work at those magazines. The people behind even the glossiest of magazines are, for the most part, smart and socially aware and many of them are doing their best to provide a service—a social good—even as they’re under a tremendous amount of pressure to put out a product that remains popular and profitable. What novels have you especially loved lately? I’ve enjoyed the recent hardcover releases The Wife by Alafair Burke; Sunburn by Laura Lippman; The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll, and in paperback, Julie Buntin’s Marlena. You obviously have a lot of love for New York – are there any bars or restaurants that feel like home? I’m big on coffee shops. Fortunately I live in Brooklyn where there are many to choose from. When I lived in Williamsburg, I basically lived in a coffee/pie shop called The Blue Stove. That’s were I wrote most of my first novel, The Assistants. I’ve since moved to the Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn area and have set up shop at a wonderful café called Swallow in Cobble Hill. It only took a few months for most of the staff to know me by name. I leave them no choice! Check out When Katie Met Cassidy here:

Staff Picks: Annysa

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below! Annysa, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Career Outreach, Human Resources Annysa works closely with colleagues across the company to develop and advance strategic corporate and divisional diversity and inclusion initiatives. In addition to her husband and baby girl, her true loves include Spoken Word, traveling, home-made Dominican meals, and reading (at all possible times).  

Staff Picks: Kathryn, Marketing

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below!   Kathryn, Marketing Coordinator  Kathryn can always be found with a book (or four) in her bag. She’s on a perpetual quest to find the best dumplings NYC has to offer, enjoys wearing every shade of black, and commutes to read on the subway.    

Romantic Valentine’s Day Book and Wine Pairings from Winc

 Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a romantic partner, a best bud, or with the greatest love of your life (you!), we’ve got you covered.  Winc wine delivery club has chosen some  great book and wine pairings to cuddle up with.  For example… valentines-independent-wine-club-book-pairing-publishing-group
heart The Sweethearts Emma: Jane Austen said, “It’s such a happiness when good people get together.” So, grab your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day and snuggle up with Austen’s classic, Emma, a sparkling comedy of love and marriage. Nothing delights Emma Woodhouse more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. And we bet nothing with delight you more than curling up with this witty, charming novel and an equally complex and delicious wine, like The Independent Zinfandel.
See all the wine and book pairings here!