Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

The Muse of Music

Bestselling author Taylor Stevens on the music she listens to while writing.

There have been times that music didn’t feature heavily in my creative process, but those have been rare and far between. For the most part, music has been both a muse and a signal to my brain that playtime is over. Flip that music switch and the psyche knows it’s time to go to work.

Unfortunately, music has also been a double-edged sword because, while it has been integral to getting the writing done, it can also be very distracting. When I first started writing, I learned quickly that almost anything I loved to listen to throughout the day was disastrous when putting words on the page. For example, with a few exceptions, songs with lyrics had to get cut from the playlists. Movie soundtracks and classical music—which both seem like plausible alternatives—got the ax, too.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Reading in Transit

Why a Plane Journey Is the Perfect Time to Read

While there’s nothing cozier than curling up in an armchair with a novel and a mug of tea, sometimes a great book can be made even greater with the addition of a stunning view, a cool breeze, or a glass of wine. Books take you on incredible journeys, so why not complement that by literally taking a trip?

On a recent journey, I slipped Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler into my carry-on luggage and set off to the airport.

Novels aren’t really designed for multi-tasking, so it was a bit of a struggle to dive into the world of the characters while keeping one eye firmly on the departures board and trying to navigate through security. I crashed head first into several of my fellow travelers in the process, so I’m not sure I was the most popular person at the airport.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Donating Your Bookshelf: What to Keep and What to Give Away

How to Apply Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to Your Bookshelf

True confessions of a book-lover: one of my favorite genres is self-help. If there is a book out there on becoming more successful, happier, or healthier, I’ve probably read it. So when Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up hit the shelves, I was her ideal audience member. I had accumulated too much stuff, and I wanted to eliminate clutter. I followed all of her advice. I kept items of clothing that I loved and donated what I didn’t. I disposed of old hair products and unused makeup samples and successfully kondoed my jewelry. Easy. But the books were another story…

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

When Your Partner Doesn’t Love Reading

When it comes to love, are books a part of the equation?

I’m married to a wonderful man. He’s clever, he’s funny, he’s pretty much perfect… but he doesn’t love books. I’ve been a bookaholic since I taught myself to read aged 3, and I ended up marrying a man who can’t see the point of fiction.

I’ve lent him dozens of my favorite books; he’s only ever managed to finish one. I read him paragraphs out loud; he remains unmoved. I read the book; he watches the movie. Reading has always been the greatest love of my life, and we just don’t share it.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Enter to Win Out on the Wire, a Fascinating Exploration of the Podcast Phenomenon

“A must-read not just for listeners of today’s great flowering of audio storytelling but for those who want to learn how to do it themselves.”—Publishers Weekly

Go behind the scenes of seven of today’s most popular narrative radio shows and podcasts, including This American Life and RadioLab, in graphic narrative.

With the help of This American Life‘s Ira Glass, Jessica Abel, a cartoonist and devotee of narrative radio, uncovers just how radio producers construct narrative, spilling some juicy insider details. Jad Abumrad of RadioLab talks about chasing moments of awe with scientists, while Planet Money’s Robert Smith lets us in on his slightly goofy strategy for putting interviewees at ease. And Abel reveals how mad—really mad—Ira Glass becomes when he receives edits from his colleagues. Informative and engaging, Out on the Wire demonstrates that narrative radio and podcasts are creating some of the most exciting and innovative storytelling available today.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Literary Fiction Giveaway In the Country

“Remarkable. . . . Each of these nine stories is superb.” —The New York Times

In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s powerful debut collection explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. Deeply compassionate and richly felt, In the Country marks the emergence of a formidable new writer.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Best Literary Mugs

Nothing is more comforting for a bibliophile than curling up with a fun read and a mug of hot tea or coffee. Unless, of course, that mug is particularly bookish as well.

Then, dear reader, you have the ultimate trifecta: a great book, a smart mug, and a contented you. Whether you want to toast your favorite classic or celebrate books of all kinds, the internet has a mug to suit your taste. Check out our round-up of literate liquid vessels to find your perfect coffee cup. You might even find just the right gift for a book-loving friend!

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Art and Science of the TBR Pile

Creating a Set of Rules for Your TBR Pile

I’m sure everyone has their reasons for reading. My personal motives (in no particular order) are: Pleasure, personal growth, and knowledge.

After closing one book, every reader is tormented by the seemingly impossible dilemma: What should I read next? Most likely you have books on shelves, piled on your nightstand, hanging out under your bed, and waiting patiently on every window sill. Take a deep breath. Here’s the formula for how I approach my teetering To-Be-Read pile: