Category Memoir

…yes, authors are just like us: they too look forward to the summer to finally read the books that have been sitting on their bedside table for weeks.

Now Two Roads has an exclusive (!) look at what some of our writers are reading this summer

Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This (out now)

Bret Anthony Johnston’s summer reading pile

 

I tend to read in the morning before starting a day’s work and then again in the evening before bed, and I tend to read from a different book in each session. Fiction usually comes first, and I’m excited about the fiction I’m reading now or soon to read. Rene Steinke’s forthcoming novel Friendswood, Lea Carpenter’s novel Eleven Days (find out more here), some Chekhov stories, and a collection of strange and beautiful fiction called Nature Stories by Jules Renard. The Renard book might serve as something as bridge between my current fiction and nonfiction tastes, as I’m reading a lot about animals right now. One of the things I’m currently working on is a weird, nonlinear short story involving horses, and this book on horse psychology continues to prove invaluable to me in countless ways. Future projects may include the mythical (or is it?) chupacbra and the siege in Waco, Texas in 1993. This summer I’ve also been spending time with Emily Rapp’s heart-rending memoir The Still Point of the Turning World (find out more here). As for the book on iPhones, well, let’s just say I’ve recently gotten my first one and the transition hasn’t been easy or smooth. That book will probably be the most helpful, and it’s the one I’m looking forward to the least. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

 

Jamie Kornegay, author of Soil (spring 2015)

Jamie Kornegay’s summer reading pile

As a full-time bookseller, my reading tends toward the new and upcoming – a merchant must test his wares, after all – and hence my summer stack is a blend of some of this season’s best, including startling debuts from Smith Henderson and a Mississippi friend, Lisa Howorth, as well as stories from the fiercely talented John Brandon, and what must surely be James Lee Burke’s masterpiece; and forthcoming fall titles, including one of my favorite writers, Richard Flanagan, whose new novel I’m currently loving, along with the reliably strange Michel Faber, history from Hampton Sides, and one of the U.S. South’s most popular writers, Rick Bragg, on one of the South’s most notorious rock-n-rollers. Sandwiched in the middle is something for the writer…

 

Sally Magnusson, author of Where Memories Go: why dementia changes everything (out now)

Sally Magnusson’s summer reading pile

 

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month I’ll be hosting the James Tait Black prize-giving ceremony at the Edinburgh Book Festival, so my holiday in Tuscany is a great time to devour the shortlist. The biographies were a bit large for my suitcase but the four novels are just right. Have just finished Jim Crace’s Harvest – a stunning read. The bottom two books are background reading for programmes I’m doing on the First World War.

 

 

Carrie Snyder, author of Girl Runner (spring 2015)

Carrie Snyder’s summer reading pile

 

Here’s the tour, from bottom to top, starting with the books I keep meaning to read, and do delve into on occasion, but have yet to finish: two library books, The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture, volume 1, and The Girl and the Game: A History of Women’s Sport in Canada (which I’ve already read, ages ago, but figure I should brush up on again in advance of my book coming out). Next is Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. I did intend to become a better person this summer. I regret to say I’ve stalled on step two. But I did read all through Matilda, by Roald Dahl, with my two youngest (ages 6 and 8). We loved it, although did note that Dahl seems to have a strong animus for the imposing female athlete, who is the villain in the piece. I whipped through Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, kept staying up late to read, which is what summer really should be for. Yes, that’s my own Girl Runner, the American uncorrected proof, which I confess I started reading the evening it arrived and just kept on. It’s homework, though. I’ve got a lot of readings booked this fall and I need to find and rehearse sections that would make for good drama. Just above is Anita Lahey’s essay collection The Mystery Shopping Cart, only available in Canada, and a very Canadian book of literary critique. Finally, the book I’m currently marching through: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard, the second in the series; I loved the first, but am finding this one a little less moving, with its focus so far on raising small children while trying to find time to write, which is basically my life and has been for the past 13 years. This is hardly an original observation, but I keep wondering if anyone would be interested had a woman written it instead.

 

Aylet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure (out now)

Ayelet Waldman’s summer reading pile

 

This summer is all about the French Riviera and Hollywood in the 1940s. I have begun work on

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my new novel and by far the most exciting part of that is delving into a new area of research. Research is my joy. It’s the actual writing part that kicks my ass.

 

 

 

 

 

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

After a few months spent on hiatus, the book club gathered once more to discuss the E. M. Forster classic novel Howards End. The meeting was timed with the release of the paperback edition of Will’s The End of Your Life Book Club and although he couldn’t be with us in the Two Roads headquarters, he managed to join in from New York, talking about the book with Lisa, who is in the Big Apple herself: a true transatlantic book club experience!

 

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Will reading HOWARDS END in New York

Surprisingly perhaps, not many people had read Howards End before or even seen the film. The book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century: the Wilcoxes, rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings Margaret, Tibby, and Helen; and the Basts, a struggling couple in the lower-middle class. It explores the underlying class warfare involving these three distinct groups and the source of their conflict – Howards End, a house in the countryside which ultimately becomes a symbol of conflict within British society.

For such an apparently heavy subject, the novel is incredibly engaging (and obviously beautifully written). We found ourselves drawn to some of the most obvious themes (the now famous line ‘Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. was the focus of much discussion) and we were particularly intrigued by the relationship between the highly idealistic Margaret and Henry, the pragmatic defender of social conventions. How could such different characters end up becoming husband and wife?

But most of our conversation revolved around the timeliness of the novel. When it was first published in 1910, E. M. Forster’s book dealt with some of the most profound issues of British society: the relationship between ownership and power, and the huge gap between different social statuses. Most people in the club agreed that Howards End still feels incredibly ‘of the time’ today – class still being a subject worth writing about in these troubled times – but also wondered if Forster would pick a different subject matter (race perhaps?) were he alive today.

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

Zadie’s Smith ON BEAUTY

The discussion turned towards more recent books when someone brought up Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, the Orange Prize-winning novel which is an homage to Forster’s classic. We started talking about the modern ‘reinterpretations’ of the classics, not only in literature but also in films (we spent quite a bit of time analysing how cult film Clueless relates to Emma, the Jane Austen book it is loosely based on): do they introduce the classics to new audiences and ensure their survival? Or is it just a way to exploit some of the greatest works of the past?

In the end we went back to Howards End and we agreed

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to a good 3 out of 4 score. And then we rewarded ourselves with some well deserved cake (check out more pics on Facebook):

The End of Your Life Book Club book club read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Roads Books is literally made up of two roads: Lisa and Fede. Which is why, every once in a while, we are very happy to welcome work experience people to our lovely HQs: they get a better idea of what it is like working in publishing (the fun bits, the exciting bits and the incredibly boring bits) and we get much needed help. Last month we had a student – Jamie – from UCL’s MA in Publishing spending two weeks with us, and we thought it might be nice for him to share his experience and tell you how wonderful we are!

I spent the first two weeks of my UCL Publishing placement with Two Roads and couldn’t have asked for a more useful time. I was made to feel welcome upon arrival with a copy of Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and a de rigour tote bag to carry my possessions around town in. Right from the get-go Lisa and Fede included me in the processes that went into making their books, whether that was allowing me to attend meetings or giving me tasks to do. With any luck there were one or two things I did that they found useful in return!

The majority of my time was spent working with Judy Fairbairn’s memoir Island Wife, which was published during my first week at Two Roads. This involved a mixture of marketing and editorial work. Firstly, I worked with the title on social media platforms, but beyond simply providing information about its release an important element of the work was to develop a community around the title, such

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as with the Vintage Island Wife photoset that added to the greater sense of the book. I was also able to fulfill a couple of editorial jobs and it was great to approach the title from the two angles and see how it all came together.

Published at the same time was Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, which we celebrated with a prohibition themed party, replete with lipstick-stained teacups, pearls and gossip. As the title went through its final stages before becoming an eBook I was tasked with checking translations and prelims. I was also able to sit with Fede as he filled out the eBook conversion form – a task I did not envy him for.

Overall, I’d like to thank Two Roads for making my time with the company both enjoyable and useful. Lisa and Fede were kind enough to regularly explain elements of the business to me, whether that was how the Australian book market differed from the UK’s or some of the finer nuances of the London Book Fair as a myriad of agents, editors, sales and rights workers rushed around us in the Hachette stand.

See? We are nice! Thank you Jamie for your hard work and for always tackling projects with a great deal of enthusiasm, even when they involved Excel spreadsheets!

 

Welcome to

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our blog’s new weekly digest of all things Two Roads! Every Monday morning we bring you the latest updates on our books, authors, events and giveaways.

It’s our own little way of helping you begin each new week with a spring in your step and a positive attitude. Hey: if it doesn’t work there’s always coffee!

Here we go…

 

WEBSITE REFRESH

Our new home page is live! Go to www.tworoadsbooks.com to see a list of upcoming titles and see an updated take on our mantra: stories… voices… places… lives…

Stay tuned for even more changes…

 

FORTHCOMING BOOKS FROM TWO ROADS

Our publishing schedule for the next few months is filled with loads of great books and we want you to be constantly up-to-date with the latest news. So, in strict order of publication:

 

The Stockholm Octavo (out in paperback on February 14th)

The paperbacks have arrived in the Two Roads office and they look fantastic! TCPalm.com run an in-depth Q&A with Karen with some fascinating questions including Karen’s pick for main actor in a film adaptation of her book (we’ll give you a hint: he’s blond, charming and Canadian). Read more here.

 

Doodlemum (out on February 28th)

We are gearing up for the pub date of Doodlemum’s first book. Do check her blog and her Facebook page to see why we are so excited about this celebration of family life in drawings. Here’s an example that pretty much sums up how we all feel during those long, bleak, winter evenings (the message is simple: hug someone!)

 

Until I Say Good-Bye (out on March 14th)

We have just added this beautiful (and definitely emotional) video of Susan and her husband talking about her book on her page: it really captures the essence of Until I Say Good-Bye, and the joy that transpires from every single page of the book. Susan updates her Facebook page herself: have a look and share the journey of this incredible woman. There’s also a great website with more info on the book, pictures and posts from Susan.

 

Island Wife (out March 28th)

Advance praise for the book keep pouring in so keep coming back to her page for more info. And if you’ve always wondered what life on a remote island might be like read Judy’s take on it here.

 

Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (out April 11th)

Many, many different events lined up in the coming months taking full advantage of the Gatsby-mania spurred by the release of the Baz Luhrmann film. Take a sneak peek at the film costumes designed by Miuccia Prada or book your tickets for the stage adaptation coming to Wilton’s Music Hall in London at the end of February.

Also, Sam Baker, editor of RED, tweeted about Z last week (excitement is building already!)

 

The Still Point of the Turning World (out April 11th)

The website page is live and includes wonderful quotes from the likes of Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, and Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story. Have a look!

 

TWO ROADS AUTHORS NEWS

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen keeps making the headlines. She was part of a recent New York Times profile on self-help authors and she is now in her 98th straight week on the NYT bestseller list.

 

TWO ROADS BIRTHDAY!!

Two Roads is turning 2 this month! We are looking forward to celebrating this milestone with you, the readers who make all of this possible, and we will give you more details on a big (no, really: BIG) giveaway we are planning very soon. So keep coming back for more..

That’s all folks for this issue of the Two Roads Monday Blues Remedy.

Have a great week!

 

We are proud to announce a new acquisition for our spring list, UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE: My Year of Living With Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret Witter.

Susan Spencer-Wendel, mango party, BREATHE DEEPLY

Susan and her husband John during a 'mango party' at their Florida home

Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2011, journalist and mother of three, Susan Spencer-Wendel was determined to make every day count with her friends and family. And, as a writer, her response is to write about it, with the support of Bret Witter, of DEWEY fame.

Described as THE LAST LECTURE for women, UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE is both the story of Susan’s determination to make the most of these final days and a series of inspirational reflections. Her end-of-life bucket list has taken her, so far, to the Yukon to see the northern lights; Northern

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California to see her birth mother; Budapest, where she and her husband spent the first two years of their marriage; Cyprus, to connect with her birth father’s family; and New York with her 14-year-old daughter to visit a bridal shop . . . for a future moment she can never share.

Lisa met Susan when she was in London, recently, and listened to Susan’s husband, John, reading out a moving extract from the book. Because of the progression of her illness, Susan’s now writing it all on her iPhone. But her skills as a writer are unimpaired, and her spirit, feisty humour and love of life shine through on every page.

This is a very special project – moving and inspirational – and we’re thrilled to be Susan’s publisher, along with seventeen other publishers around the world. Like THE LAST LECTURE and TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, UNTIL I SAY GOODBYE is sure to touch people and remind them what matters in life, however long or short the time we have.

‘I’m glad people are moved. I’m happy {to} have stumbled, accidently, on something that crystallizes what it means to be a family, to grow up, to dream, to die, but more importantly to live fully and joyfully.’ Susan Spencer-Wendel

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan DidionGuest blogger: Jason Bartholomew, Rights Director

The Two Roads Book Club met last week to discuss Joan Didion’s THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING. The tea was brewed, the pastries were glistening, and the conversation was flowing. Overall, the general feeling was each of us felt a strong connection to Didion’s book. Whether the book conjured up memories of funerals attended in Mexico, time spent working as a grief counsellor where this book was suggested reading for those in mourning, or perhaps that it simply served as a reminder of our own mortality — we all agreed Didion’s book was a moving account but not an easy read.

Personally, I very much enjoyed the book. Didion has written a phenomenal memoir of death, grief, and how life can change in an instant. There is such a sadness to the story, but the richness of the writing is transportive. The book opens with Didion’s husband dying suddenly of cardiac arrest. Didion had been preparing dinner in their apartment in Manhattan, and one moment her husband was alive — sitting in his favorite chair and reading — and the next moment he was dead.

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First-time author, Ashley Dartnell, is our guest blogger this month. Farangi Girl was published in June

‘Just put your anxiety aside and write the book.’

Ashley DartnellThis was the advice my teacher (the writer Blake Morrison) gave me as I spiralled through yet another cycle of self doubt. I was in the second year of an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. I had given up my job to do the course, my husband had just lost his job and my six year old had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. What Blake was referring to was not any of those problems but my chronic unease about the subject matter of my book. This was despite the fact that I had applied to Goldsmiths after twenty-five years of working in business and media explicitly to write this particular book: an autobiographical memoir of my growing up in Iran during the time of the Shah.

What was causing such disquiet, as Graham Greene so brilliantly put it, was ‘the bitterness leaks again out of my pen.’ I was upset and horrified at how much anger, how much bitterness was flowing out of me. Every day, I would sit at my desk in a trance: lost in the sights, sounds and emotions of my childhood. At the end of the day, after I switched off my computer, if anyone asked me what I had written, I had absolutely no idea. The material was coming from some very deep and well hidden reservoir. The next morning I would read through what I had written in a state of anticipation and despair—the scenes of my childhood were so vivid and often difficult and sad.

And, the secrets—so many secrets! All my life I had successfully avoided thinking about the complicated web of secrets my mother had woven. Now I was untangling the strands of deceit and obfuscation and it was painful.

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