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Articles Tagged “book recommendations”
Jun 25, 2018 Random Notes

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.

 

Jun 7, 2018 Random Notes

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).

 

May 17, 2018 Random Notes

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Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below!

Sarah, Digital Sales

Sarah is a metadata manager whose personal library exceeds her shelf space. She lives in Brooklyn, where she can often be found teaching yoga and telling corny dad jokes.

 

Apr 27, 2018 Random Notes

Web

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month. Browse below!

Christine, Director of Online Marketing

She loves reading fiction, young adult, and fantasy books and has read books while traveling to six continents (Antarctica, you’re next!).

 

 

Mar 28, 2018 Random Notes

Web

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.

 

 

Mar 28, 2018 Random Notes

Web

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month.

Liz, Social Media Manager

When she’s not tweeting, pinning, or posting about all things literary, Liz can be found in a museum, at a play, or stuck on the Second Avenue Subway.

 

Mar 28, 2018 Random Notes

Web

Who better to give book recommendations than the bookish experts? Penguin Random House employees are sharing their favorite reads every month.

Amy, Marketing Manager

Amy reads excellent books and watches terrible movies. In her free time, you can find her biking around Brooklyn, lolling in a park, or wandering a museum. 

 

Mar 23, 2018 Blog

Read it Forward is pleased to introduce Read it Forward Book Recs, a chatbot that quickly and intelligently recommends your next great read via a conversational interface.

The bot can be accessed via RIF’s Facebook page on desktop or mobile. Once launched (via the Send Message button on RIF’s Facebook page Book-Recon desktop or by searching Read it Forward in your Messenger app on mobile), you can select several different pathways to finding your next book: Author I Like; Book I Like; Genre I Like; Surprise Me; Bestsellers; and Award Winners. After a series of additional questions designed to further narrow the selections, you are then presented with up to 18 book recommendations matching your interests. In certain instances, you are able to drill down even further into the themes of specific books or, in the case of the “Surprise Me” button, you can take a quicker path that serendipitously serves up books at random. Once you have received a set of recommendations, you are invited to look at a summary of the book, learn more about it on PRH.com, add the book to a Goodreads shelf, and share the recommendation with a friend. After the first interaction, the bot will ping you to remind you to continue discovering great books and also to encourage you to share the bot with friends. And if you choose to opt into formal notifications, you can also receive alerts when authors you like are releasing a new book, learn about author appearances in your area, and other relevant book-centric information.

Now it’s your turn! Click here to launch the chatbot and please let us know what you think. Questions, comments and any troubleshooting requests can be sent to Chatbot@Readitforward.com.

Sep 7, 2016 Writing Tips

We know readers tend to be writers too, so we feature writing tips from our authors. Who better to offer advice, insight, and inspiration than the authors you admire? They’ll answer several questions about their work, share their go-to techniques and more. Now, get writing! 

How would you recommend creating and getting to know your characters?

The absolute first thing I do is decide my main characters’ names. I feel like I need to know someone’s name before I can start to know him or her. My favorite place to figure out first names is the Social Security popular baby names website, where you can view name popularity by birth year (back to 1879) to see what common and (uncommon) names were in the year your character was born.

After I decide names, I’ll start to make notes of other things, like birthdays/age or relationships to other characters, quirks, where a character lives, or things he/she likes or dislikes. But I start drafting pretty soon into this process. I mostly learn and get to really know my characters as I’m writing the first draft, thinking about what they do and how they react and speak when I put them in different situations. So I think the best way I get to know my characters is to write them. By the time I get to the end of the first draft, they’re often different than what I started with (and I know them much better). But then I go back and revise.

After developing an idea, what is the first action you take when beginning to write?

The first line of novel is really important. It sets the tone for the entire book. I want it to show what the book is ultimately about, but also to be interesting and hook the reader. When I first start thinking about and developing an idea I always start thinking about first lines. I jot down ideas, often for weeks or months. But, I don’t wait for the perfect first line before I start drafting a book. I begin with the first one that comes to me and then I keep writing from there to get my first draft going. So just the act of getting words and ideas down on the page is the most important action I take in order to actually start writing. I set a goal for myself – usually 3-5 pages a day – and I make myself sit down and write something, make some progress in the draft, even if it’s ultimately terrible and will all be changed in revision.

Most of the time the first line that appears in the final draft of the book is not at all what I started with. I keep thinking on that first line, even as I keep writing the first draft. Usually I don’t understand enough about the story myself until I finish or get most of the way through a first draft. So I start writing at the beginning, but 9 times out of 10 that beginning changes by the time I make it to the end!

Is there something you do to get into a writing mood? Somewhere you go or something you do to get thinking?

I always write at home, and I need quiet to write. I negotiate my writing schedule around my kids’ schedules so I usually write while my kids are at school during weekdays, or very early in the mornings on the weekends or during the summer when my kids are home – really, whenever I can find uninterrupted quiet each day. I have an office in my house where I can shut the door, and I do write there, but when no one else is home I also write at my kitchen table.

I like to drink coffee while I write, and that always helps to get me thinking. Or when I get stuck, I’ll exercise. Taking a long walk, run, or hike, often helps me work through a plot a point I was stuck on or figure out a problem in my story.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received?

The best advice, and I got this from a writing professor in grad school, is simply, “butt in chair.” As in, just sit down and force yourself to write something, no matter what it is or how terrible you think it is. The hardest part is making yourself sit down to do it. So I don’t let myself make excuses – I put my butt in the chair every morning and write something.

What are three or four books that influenced your writing, or had a profound effect on you?

I read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott in the first fiction writing class I took, and I still have a copy on the shelf in my office. I love what she writes about first drafts and I feel like it’s still important to give myself permission to write something terrible the first time around as long as I write something. I’m a big believer in the importance of revision! Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite novels, and the first I read by her. I come back to it, and her novels, again and again, because I feel like I learn so much about sympathetic character development from her. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I first read in college, always makes me think about writing characters in a world different from our own today (which is applicable for writing historical fiction as well) and the fact that characters still need to first be inherently human and relatable, no matter how different their world is from the one we know.

Learn more about the book below!

Aug 11, 2016 Random Notes

Read below –  Deanna Raybourn, author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries gives advice for plunging into Christie’s intimidatingly large catalog; 

A few weeks ago a Twitter pal shyly confessed that she’d never read Agatha Christie before and was asking for advice on where to begin. And I admit, I had to sit down until the excitement passed. I never thought I would find a reader who hadn’t read Christie, and it was wildly thrilling to contemplate all the pleasures she had in store. I envied her deeply. There are few joys in life more simple and complete than discovering a new writer—a profoundly prolific new writer. (Christie’s career spanned the better part of five decades and few years went by without a new publication.) My Twitter friend could read for years and still have new Christie novels to discover, and because of this, I thought it might be a kindness to compile a sort of “Agatha 101” to steer her reading as she embarks. But that brought me to the thorny question of where to begin?

Of course, that’s a subject that has been known to end in bloodshed. There are the Poirot purists, the people who believe fervently that the natty little Belgian detective is Christie’s best and most accomplished sleuth. They are firmly and vehemently opposed by the adherents of Miss Marple, the well-beloved and dithery amateur detective from the tiny village of St. Mary Mead. Miss Marple spends her days in gardening and gossip and is just as concerned with the disappearance of a gill of picked shrimps as with unmasking murderers. You almost could not find two detectives with less in common. Poirot is urbane and sophisticated, a professional detective with a cosmopolitan lifestyle, committed to justice and able to command hefty fees for his services. Miss Marple is a fluttery spinster with maid troubles, too many shawls, and a mind like a sink, according to her nephew Raymond. Unlike Poirot’s rather more cerebral approach, she invariably solves crimes by invoking the village parallel on the grounds that human nature is much the same wherever one goes.

So how to choose between them? The answer is that you simply cannot. In order to appreciate Christie in her full glory, you have to read both and there is no middle ground. One might argue that Christie is at the height of her plotting powers with Poirot while Marple gives her complete scope for developing characters, but that would be splitting an abundance of hairs. Both detectives’ adventures are deeply satisfying.

For the inaugural book, I always suggest the delectably atmospheric Death on the Nile. This was the first proper “grown-up” mystery my grandmother ever gave me—I was ten at the time–and for that reason alone it holds a special place in my heart. I also remember picking it up to reread during my honeymoon cruise which is deliciously ironic when you realize that the entire plot centers around the murder of a bride on her newlywed cruise…But it stood up to that rereading and half a dozen since. The combination of exotic setting, unforgettable characters, and Poirot at the height of his powers is irresistible.

Since I propose starting with a Poirot adventure, it is only fair that Miss Marple gets equal time with Murder at the Vicarage. It is almost a crapshoot for me, choosing from amongst the Marple books, but I particularly like this one as it is set squarely in St. Mary Mead, and the spinster is best appreciated in her natural habitat. There are domestic disturbances and hidden scandals aplenty with lots of red herrings nicely sautéed and served up with a flourish.

Deanna Raybourn

 

My next Poirot pick will be controversial because I would, admittedly with hesitation, plump for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The wailing you hear is everyone who just realized I have overlooked Murder on the Orient Express. But we had an exotic crime with a twisty solution inDeath on the Nile; in Ackroyd we have Poirot in what passes for exotic to him—a small English village. Seeing him in Miss Marple’s usual milieu is vastly entertaining. I propose it simply because the solution is one of the cleverest conjuring tricks Christie ever pulled off. It is a master class in plotting, and reading it was the first time I understood and appreciated precisely how brilliant Christie could be. (Of course, Orient Express has its own brilliance which is why it is a classic and you must read it too. So there, two for the price of one.)

What about a further adventure for Miss Marple? I would have to choose The Tuesday Club Murders, a collection of short stories, less for their innate Marpleness (she’s a minor character here, often narrating more than acting) than for the fact that these clever little stories show off Christie’s inimitable talent for creating perfectly-realized characters with just a few strokes of the pen. Craving something longer? Then by all means, A Murder is Announced is what you want. It is a “small” book with a murder in a private house with a limited number of suspects, but it is a splendid example of how Christie played fair with readers, but just barely.

And when you have finished with the canon—did you meet the charming Tommy and Tuppy? Ariadne Oliver? Parker Pyne? Harley Quinn?—and you are in the mood for some nonfiction, Christie has something to offer there as well. Come, Tell Me How You Live is a memoir of her time as the wife and occasional assistant of esteemed archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. Christie accompanied him on numerous digs to Syria, recording life as she saw it in luscious detail. Her experiences there inspired her to write Murder in Mesopotamia and Appointment with Death, both Poirot mysteries.

Of course, pondering Poirot has made me wonder how I could have forgotten Evil Under the Sun! Well, best add that to the list along with The Moving Finger and The Body in the Library because you can never have too much of a good thing. And Agatha Christie novels are a very good thing indeed. So, my advice to my Twitter pal is to brew a pot of good strong Darjeeling or pour a stiff cocktail and settle in. She’s going to be there for awhile…

Check out Deanna Raybourn’s books below:

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