Heading to the beach in the dog-days of summer? Taking some time off to unwind and catch up on your reading? Penguin Random House employees never go on vacation without a good book – see below to learn what professional book-people read on their off-time.
Kristen Fritz, Senior Director, Content Marketing, Digital Marketplace
Her vacation read: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
“As I was situated along the shore of the soothing, somewhat eerie, very magical Lake Atitlan in Guatemala for a week last spring, Richard Flanagan’s 2014 Man Booker-winning novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, proved to be the kind of book in which I got deeply lost while silently willing the world to stay away and let me read.”
Lindsay Jacobsen, Senior Coordinator, Consumer Engagement
Her vacation read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
“Sometimes you begin a book on vacation and find that the story doesn’t match your destination. The book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling was the perfect companion on my trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Her sparkly-eyed dreams of fame and materialism seamlessly complement a self-serving Caribbean beach getaway. While hanging out with Mindy, I laughed and I cried. I read out loud to no one. I used the book as protection from the sun. I was so enthralled, I even neglected my piña colada.”
Nancy Sheppard, Vice President, Director, Advertising and Promotions, Penguin Publishing Group
Her vacation read: The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
“Here I am with the great staff at City Lit Books while on vacation in my old neighborhood, Logan Square in Chicago. I was there handselling my favorite vacation read, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, in paperback!”
Check out all our bestsellers to find more vacation-reading inspiration!
Judy Blume’s first book for adults in seventeen years has just come out, and we couldn’t be more excited!
In The Unlikely Event is a multi-generational novel that explores war, love, family and a changing America. The story traces an air-travel tragedy from the 1950’s and follows Miri Ammerman as she reflects back on that time, thirty-five years later.
Since Blume has shaped so many lives over the years, we turned to our employees to reminisce about the Blume books they loved growing up.
I have two daughters now in their twenties. When the younger one was almost eight, she particularly loved Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. When the older one was ten, she loved Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Judy Blume was empowering girls before the word empowering was ever used in the current context!”
-Beverly Horowitz, VP Publisher, Delacorte Press
“I used to imagine myself in the NY city apartment building where Peter, Fudge, and their pet Turtle lived. I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing during “silent” reading time in 3rd grade and giggled in the corner the whole time.”
-Melissa Major, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Random House Children’s Books
“Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was the first Judy Blume book I ever read and my best loved. Even though our circumstances were entirely different, I saw so much of Sally in myself: she was inquisitive, opinionated, and had the most intensely weird imagination of any character I’d ever read. I’m still all of those things and I like to think that Sally is too!”
-Emma Shafer, Community Manager, Blogging for Books
“Coming from a family of three siblings, Superfudge both defined and helped navigate my sibling relationships. As a middle child myself, I completely relate to Fudge.”
-Sonia Nash Gupta, Associate Director of Marketing Random House Children’s Books
Browse through all of Judy Blume’s books here!
For many of us, a love of reading starts at home. For Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate our inspiring moms by sharing a few of their favorite books. Four Penguin Random House employees explain which titles are especially meaningful to them and to their mothers.
“My mother and I have both read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen many, many, many times. I remember discussing the book with my mom when I couldn’t have been more than twelve and again more recently when I read this classic as a woman in my 40s. In our most recent discussion, my mom and I marveled at the subtleties that stand out the more one has lived, details such as how very quickly Elizabeth Bennet’s feelings for Mr. Darcy turn from distain to admiration once she has witnessed the grounds of Pemberley (seriously, no sooner has her carriage pulled up to the front door than she is swooning for the guy!). Also the bigger picture. As a girl I was furious with Mr. Darcy for his treatment of Elizabeth Bennett but, in the final analysis, Elizabeth’s pride was just as vicious as Mr. Darcy’s prejudice. Pride and Prejudice, two big vices to watch out for! I will always treasure the conversations I’ve had with my mom about this favorite book.”
-Sara Carder, Editorial Director of Penguin Publishing Group
Turns out Pride & Prejudice is a popular favorite…
“Every time I read the book or watch the movie it’s something I get to share with my youngest daughter. We both love it so much, we’re always quoting it to each other!”
-Mother of Katherine Stewart, Marketing Coordinator, Penguin Press
“My mum was a teacher and her favorite author was Roald Dahl, which she often read to us as kids. The BFG was my favorite because the main character is Sophie, like me. My mum sadly passed away 6 years ago so she didn’t get to meet two of her granddaughters. But I’m lucky enough to have several of her Roald Dahl books (with her name written inside so they didn’t get lost at school), which I read to my children. It’s a lovely reminder of her.”
-Sophie McNeill, Director, Partnerships and Audience Development for Brightly
“One of my mom’s favorite books is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. My mom is inspired by this true(!) story of Louis Zamperini’s endurance and courage. It’s a miracle that Zamperini survived a plane crash, starvation, and torture—not to mention post-traumatic stress disorder. Just when you think that things couldn’t get any worse for him, they do. But he doesn’t just survive all the terrible things that happen to him, he learns to forgive and live a full and happy life. Zamperini’s story is a testament to the power of grace and forgiveness.”
-Joanna Ng, Assistant Editor, Penguin Publishing Group
Grab a new book to share with the mother in your life!
Before the wildly successful Unbroken hit the shelves, Hillenbrand was best known for her fascinating book on the racehorse, Seabiscuit, and his place in history.
Despite his impressive racing pedigree, Seabiscuit was an unlikely champion – he was small for a racehorse, had crooked legs, and didn’t run particularly well as a young horse. Under the gentle hands of his owner, Charles Howard and his trainer, Tom Smith, he slowly grew into his potential. Read more.
When Seabiscuit started to win races, he seized the American imagination and became an underdog hero. Even when an injury seemed to ruin the horse’s career, Seabiscuit came back to the track, won a legendary race and cemented his hero status. Read more.
“It’s easy to talk to a horse if you understand his language. Horses stay the same from the day they are born until the day they die. They are only changed by the way people treat them.”
Enjoy the Derby!
Hop in the Backlist Time Machine! This feature is where Penguin Random House staff members recommend their favorite backlist titles – instead of the next best thing, these are the best old things. Sometimes we peer into the past on our own, to give a little extra attention to a book that still holds up today.
We asked one of our employees, Linda Cowen: SVP, Associate General Counsel in the Legal department, to share a favorite backlist book. She’s even memorized the first few lines of the book – see what she wrote below.
“The sea is high again today, with a thrilling flush of wind. In the midst of winter you can feel the invention of Spring. A sky of hot nude pearl until midday, crickets in sheltered places, and now the wind unpacking the great planes, ransacking the great planes.”
Why this book/lines?
I love fiction that doesn’t have a straight narrative/chronological plot. For instance, I love books of linked short stories where you don’t realize how the characters are connected until several stories in. Justine is the first book in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, which consists of four linked novels. They all tell a version of the same events from the points of view of four different characters, and in a slightly different style. You can’t get the whole picture unless you read all four, but also each stands on its own. And for Durrell, the city itself was the most important character. It’s quite magical, especially because pre-WWII Alexandria simply doesn’t exist in the same way anymore.
Of the four books Justine is the most lyrical, which makes sense because Justine herself is the most inscrutable character. These books also bring me back to when I first read them, in my early 20s, traveling for six weeks in Greece, a completely improvised trip. Even in the mid-1980s you could still go somewhere not too far away but be very remote, almost like time travel. I like to revisit them every few years, like visiting old friends, and also my own past. With that first line I’m immediately transported. My favorite edition is the Penguin Ink edition, with cover art by Robert Ryan. It’s just gorgeous and so evocative of the time. Just looking at it makes me want to start reading. I have a copy in my office.
– Linda F. Cowen
SVP, Associate General Counsel
Inspired by Justine? If you’re starting to dream of Egypt, Fodor’s has a great guide to Alexandria.