Books We Are Talking About

Chris Schluep on September 12, 2018
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It probably doesn't need to be stated that part of the Amazon Editor's job is to read, and to read a lot. What might not be as obvious is that we read way ahead of publication. Which means that we don't actually read books most of the time; we read "galleys," also known as "ARCs," which is short for "Advance Reader Copies." Because we are reading in advance, we tend to do it in a vacuum. Will other people like this? Will the media pick up on it? Will it reach bestsellerdom? Nothing is guaranteed.

Since our mission is to connect readers with their next great read, we have to rely on our own taste and experience, as well as our understanding of what other people like, in order to do our jobs well. It's generally a fun job, and when the world starts responding months later, and agreeing with us, then it's really fun. The first book on this list has received responses like, "I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!" (Reese Witherspoon), or "a painfully beautiful first novel" (The New York Times Book Review). For us, reading those words is almost as rewarding as reading the novel itself. Almost.


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Delia Owens, who wrote Where the Crawdads Sing, is an author I remember reading at another time in my life. Years before I knew I could make a career in books, I picked up a bestselling nonfiction account of Delia and Mark Owens' life studying animals in the Kalahari Desert. Cry of the Kalahari was published in 1984. Thirty-four years later, Delia Owens' debut novel landed on our desks here at Amazon, and without much fanfare--but we loved it and chose to put it on our Best Book of the Month list (for August). For me, I was concerned that my nostalgia around reading Kalahari would cloud my judgement of Crawdads. But in the end it got to me, just as it's gotten to so many readers who have connected with this novel. 

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One of the reasons Crawdads has become so popular is undoubtedly the support that Reese Witherspoon has given to it. She is magic for authors (and she has great taste). She also has a book of her own coming out next week. Whiskey in a Teacup is a book that Seira Wilson (Amazon senior editor) describes as "part Southern lifestyle guide, part cookbook, part memoir, and entirely delightful."

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Another one of our editors, Erin Kodicek, has started watching "Sharp Objects." The show is of course based on Gillian Flynn's novel by the same name. And Flynn is of course the author of Gone Girl, which we officially recognize as the book that launched a thousand "girl" books. When we have this conversation, we always factor in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, which started before Gone Girl. But we all agree that Flynn gets the title. By the way, "woman" books are just another name for "girl" books. No judgement; just stating facts. 

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Finally, Amazon senior editor Jon Foro got to talk to Neil deGrasse Tyson on the phone yesterday, and we are all jealous. It was for an interview that will appear on this blog in the near future, so I'll avoid spoiling it by describing what they talked about. Jon says he was really impressed. Who wouldn't be?


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