Ep 13: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Ep 13: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Lindsey Lee Johnson’s debut novel, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth tells the story of a group of students and how they maneuver through the social politics of their high school. Just the Right Book recently caught up with the former high school teacher to talk all about the book the New York Times called “an alarming, compelling, and coolly funny debut novel.”  Lindsey also dishes about her next novel and explains why her friends call her “cheerleader Lindsey.” Also in this episode, we hear from renowned media scholar and MIT professor Sherry Turkle on her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.

Books in this episode:

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle


Ep 12: Jo Malone, The English Scent Maverick

Ep 12: Jo Malone, The English Scent Maverick

English scent maverick and founder of several London-based fragrance brands, Jo Malone opens up to Roxanne on her inspiring success story, battling breast cancer, and writing her new autobiography, Jo Malone: My Story. Having established a nose for business with her coveted brand, Malone turns her attention to the creation of a new fragrance line, Jo Loves.

Also in this episode, our next installment of “What’s on the Front Table,” with Harvard Book Store General Manager Carole Horne.

Jo Malone: My Story By Jo Malone

The Hundred-Foot Journey By Richard C. Morais

Drunks: An American History By Christopher Finan

Oz: The Complete Hardcover Collection 5 Volume Set By L. Frank Baum

Little Women By Louisa May Alcott

Darwin By Adrian Desmond

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales By Oliver Sacks

Beloved By Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America By Ibram X. Kendi

A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women’s Rights in Early Mormonism, 1835-1870 By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

March (Trilogy Slipcase Set) By John Lewis

Kindred By Octavia Butler

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale By Art Speigelman

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood By Marjane Satrapi

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story By Douglas Preston

Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White By Michael Tisserand

Harvard Bookstore


Ep11: Book Riot and JTRB Add to Your 2017 TBR List

Ep11: Book Riot and JTRB Add to Your 2017 TBR List

You’ve probably heard Rebecca Schinsky hosting the popular podcast “Book Riot- “The Podcast” with Jeff O’Neal or know her from her other popular Book Riot show “All the Books” with Liberty Hardy. As the executive director of product and e-commerce for Riot New Media Group, Rebecca has her finger on the pulse of the literary world and teamed up with Roxanne to give YOU the books to add to your TBR list in 2017. Plus, you’ll hear what books the readers in our offices are looking forward to this year.

Show Notes:

Book Riot Website

Rebecca Schinsky’s Twitter

Books in this Episode:

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Origin by Dan Brown

This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression by Daphne Merkin

When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams

South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion

Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island by Linda Greenlaw

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami



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Ep10: “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”

Ep10: “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”

Dr. Gina Barreca is a humorist, author, feminist writer, speaker and professor at UConn. Her latest book, If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?: Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times is a collection of fun, feminist-infused essays. The feminist humor maven stopped by Just the Right Book ahead of the now historic Women’s March to chat with Roxanne about feminism today and women’s empowerment books that we all need to read.

Show Notes:

Gina’s site: http://ginabarreca.com/

Books in this episode:

“If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”: Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times  By Gina Barreca

The Second Sex  By Simone De Beauvoir

The Golden Notebook  By Doris Lessing

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo  By Mary Douglas

How Institutions Think  By Mary Douglas

The Powers of the Weak  By Elizabeth Janeway

We Should All Be Feminists  By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman  By Robert K. Massie

Cleopatra: A Life  By Stacy Schiff

Personal History  By Katharine Graham

She  By H. Rider Haggard

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind  By Scott Stossel

Pretty Is  By Maggie Mitchell

In Praise of Folly  By Desiderius Erasmus


Ep 9: “Books on the Nightstand”

Ep 9: “Books on the Nightstand”

Michael Kindness set the gold standard for book podcasts as the former host of the popular show “Books on the Nightstand” and is the “hand-seller to book-sellers” for Penguin Random House. Michael joined Roxanne in the studio to talk about being a sales rep for the publishing powerhouse and shares his recommendations to help YOU kick 2017 off right! Also in this episode, more from our interview with Just the Right Book’s FIRST guest, Amy Bloom. Plus, rate & review us on Itunes to be entered to win the book of your choice from today’s episode!

Sadly, “Books on the Nightstand” has ended but you can listen (or re-listen) to all the episodes here: http://booksonthenightstand.com/

Follow Michael Kindness on Twitter

Books in this episode:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, his Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich  

Little Sweet Potato by Amy Bloom

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom  


Ep 8: Al Capone: Lover or Cold-Blooded Killer?

Ep 8: Al Capone: Lover or Cold-Blooded Killer?

Deirdre Bair, a National Book Award winner and author of five award-winning biographies, joins the podcast and talks with Roxanne about how she came to write the first complete biography of legendary gangster Al Capone. Also in this episode, we chat with fans of RJ Julia Bookstore and ask them what they are reading. Plus, we find out what’s on Roxanne’s nightstand.

Show Notes:

Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend by Deirdre Bair

Ulysses by James Joyce

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

Calling it Quits: Late Life Divorce and Starting Over by Deirdre Bair

The Sympathizer: A Novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien


Ep 7: Kidnapped and Displayed as Circus Freaks in the Jim Crow South

Ep 7: Kidnapped and Displayed as Circus Freaks in the Jim Crow South

New York Times best-selling author Beth Macy dishes with Roxanne about the film buzz surrounding some of her most popular books and catching the attention of one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men. Beth’s book “Factory Man” is now in development to become an HBO mini-series produced by Tom Hanks. Her latest book “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South” is already generating film buzz. Also in this episode, RJ Julia’s General Manager stops by to tell us just what it takes to become a bookseller.

Show Notes:

Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Born a Crime:  Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

News of the World by Paulette Jiles


Ep 6: Looking for Your Next Read? We’ve Got you Covered!

Ep 6: Looking for Your Next Read? We’ve Got you Covered!

Matthew Dicks is the ultimate Renaissance Man, an international bestselling author, elementary school teacher, blogger and podcaster, just to name a few. Mathew cleared his busy schedule to sit down with Roxanne for conversation about writing, reading, and their top book recommendations.

Matthew’s Blog: http://www.matthewdicks.com/

Books in this episode:

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend By Matthew Dicks

Nutshell By Ian McEwan

If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”: Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times By Gina Barreca

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives By Tim Harford

Today Will Be Different  By Maria Semple

The Nix By Nathan Hill

My Name Is Lucy Barton By Elizabeth Strout

You’ll Grow Out of It By Jessi Klein

Born to Run By Bruce Springsteen

Upstream: Selected Essays By Mary Oliver

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders By Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry


Ep 5: Jacques Pepin brings “Heart & Soul” to this holiday season

Ep 5: Jacques Pepin brings “Heart & Soul” to this holiday season

Jacques Pepin is a world-renowned chef, a former columnist for the New York Times and the author of more than two dozen cookbooks. The world’s most famous cooking teacher stopped by RJ Julia to share HIS best holiday cooking tips and you’ll never believe what he tells Roxanne about his own cooking mistakes. Also in this episode, hear some of Roxanne’s picks for the best books of 2016.

Show Notes:

Books by Jacques Pepin in this episode:

Jacques Pepin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

A French Chef Cooks at Home

Cuisine Economique

Short-Cut Cook: Make Simple Meals with Surprisingly Little Effort

Jacques Pepin’s The Art of Cooking

Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My Way

Jacques Pepin: More Fast Food My Way

La Methode: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Cooking

Roxanne’s Recommended Books in this Episode:

The Underground Railroad By Colson Whitehead

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City By Matthew Desmond

The Association of Small Bombs By Karan Mahajan

In the Darkroom By Susan Faludi

Do Not Say We Have Nothing By Madeline Thien

Nutshell By Ian McEwan

Upstream: Selected Essays By Mary Oliver

Check out this episode!

Ep 4: Maria Semple Thinks “Today Will Be Different”

Ep 4: Maria Semple Thinks “Today Will Be Different”

Maria Semple stops by Just the Right Book to chat about her new best-selling comic novel, “Today Will Be Different.” The screenwriter-turned-author tells Roxanne why her daughter calls her “mad mommy” and dishes on the rumored A-list actress who might play one of her characters in a movie. Also in this episode, some books Roxanne is loving right now.

Listen to the episode!

Show Notes:

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

The Corrections by Jonathan Frazen

The Red Car by Marcy Demansky

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

Did You Ever Have a Family  by Bill Clegg

fates and furies by Lauren Groff

A Child’s Anthology of Poetry By Elizabeth Hauge Sword


Ep 3: It’s Beginning to Book a Lot Like Christmas

Ep 3: It’s Beginning to Book a Lot Like Christmas

Liberty Hardy, one half of the dynamic duo that makes up the popular Book Riot podcast,”All the Books,” teamed up with Roxanne Coady to help you choose the best books for everyone on your holiday list! Hardy, a vivacious, self-proclaimed “velocireader,” also gives Roxanne her best tips and tricks of the podcast trade in this must-hear interview.

Check out this episode!

Show Notes:

Bunnicula By Deborah Howe and James Howe

The One-in-a-Million Boy By Monica Wood

Crooked Heart By Lissa Evans

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders By Julianna Baggott

Do Not Say We Have Nothing By Madeline Thien

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders By Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton and Joshua Foer

Dorie’s Cookies By Dorie Greenspan

Phoebe and Her Unicorn By Dana Simpson

10,000 Things You Need to Know: The Big Book of Lists

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy By Heather Ann Thompson

The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters By Laura Thompson

Jellicoe Road By Melina Marchetta

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil By Melina Marchetta



Ep 2: James Patterson Tells Us Why We Should Give Please a Chance

Ep 2: James Patterson Tells Us Why We Should Give Please a Chance

James Patterson may hold the Guinness world record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers, but it’s his latest passion project that has him buzzing. The New York native came straight to Just the Right Book Podcast! to tell Roxanne all about the latest books on his children’s imprint Jimmy Patterson.

Also in this episode, another installment of “What’s on the Front Table” with RJ Julia’s Head Book Buyer, Andrew Brennan.

Show Notes:

Give Please a Chance By Bill O’Reilly and James Patterson

Word of Mouse By James Patterson

Forever Words: The Unknown Poems By Johnny Cash

At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life By Thich Nhat Hahn

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate Discoveries from a Secret World By Peter Wohlleben

Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting at Christie’s

The Secret History of Twin Peaks By Mark Frost


Episode Transcript

This is a transcript of episode two of Just the Right Book Podcast, “James Patterson Tells Us Why We Should Give Please a Chance”
December 14, 2016

Beginning of Recorded Material

James Patterson:       You know, years ago I ran into George Lucas, and —

Roxanne Coady:         Just ran into George Lucas, Jim?

James Patterson:       Yeah, the Star Wars guy, yeah, and I was asking him about how he survives out in Hollywood, and he said, “You know, I just keep pushing that wheel up the hill. I just keep pushing it, pushing it, pushing it inch by inch by inch,” and it’s the same thing.

Roxanne Coady:         I’m Roxanne Coady, and welcome to Just the Right Book, a podcast for enthusiastic and engaged readers that will help you discover new books in all genres, give you unique insights into your favorite authors, and bring you up to date with what’s happening in the literary world. One of my favorite parts of being a bookseller is introducing books to kids because they really are the original wide-eyed reader. And what you particularly love is when you have the reluctant reader and their parents say they don’t really like to read, or that they’re not finding the right book. When you do find that book for them, and you sort of open that window to that world and then see that kid come back in just bursting with enthusiasm and energy wanting to get the next book, I just don’t think it gets any better than that.

All the research is showing that if we start reading to our kids from zero to age three that literally will change the development of their brain. That will make them ready for school. They don’t have to start school being able to read, but if they’ve heard the vocabulary, if they’ve been read to, they are going to be well-equipped to start to learn to read. Speaking of kids’ books, coming up is an author that needs really no introduction. I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with James Patterson, who called his current passion project the best things I do, and you’ll find out what that is. Later in the show another installment of “What’s on the Front Table.”

My guest today has sold over 350 million books worldwide.

James Patterson:       And that’s just this year.

Roxanne Coady:         He holds the Guinness World Record for the most number one New York Times bestsellers. He has won the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the 2015 National Book Awards. He’s won two Emmys, the Edgar Award, a Children’s Choice Award for Author of the Year. He is a tireless champion of the power of books and reading, as exemplified by his new book in print. Jimmy Patterson, and I know this personally, has given millions of dollars to bookstores and libraries. He has donated more than one million books to students and is tireless, tireless in his commitment to books and reading.

James Patterson:       Yay, we like him. What’s that guy’s name?

Roxanne Coady:         Who is this guy?

James Patterson:       Who is it?

Roxanne Coady:         I think his name is James Patterson.

James Patterson:       Oh, okay.

Roxanne Coady:         Have you heard of him?

James Patterson:       A little bit. He looks at me in the mirror in the morning.

Roxanne Coady:         Oh, jeez.

James Patterson:       It’s bizarre.

Roxanne Coady:         So your new book, Give Please a Chance, has an unlikely pairing of authors.

James Patterson:        Yeah. Yeah, totally. It’s Bill O’Reilly and myself. You know, years ago there was a picture on the cover of Time magazine. It was Bill Clinton and George Bush, and both being presidents, they had decided to get together and just do good things.

Roxanne Coady:         Right.

James Patterson:       With Give Please a Chance, which there’s three good things about this book in my opinion. One, it really is a treat for parents to read because it’s about everything. They’re all illustrations, and every illustration basically ends with please, so it teaches kids to say please and be polite and civil, which is a wonderful, wonderful gift. The first one, it’s a little kid, and he’s about four years old, and he’s holding a dog that’s bigger than he is, and says, “Mom, can I keep him? Please.” So that notion of reading a book with your kids and your grandkids that’s really fun to read and fun to look at with all these illustrations, teaching them to say please, and giving them a great experience with a book. As I said, we’re sort of on the opposite sides of the left and the right, whatever that means, but I thought it would be good to reach out to his audience. I called him up. I told him the idea, and he said, “I’m in.”

Roxanne Coady:         You know what I love about the book, Jim, is for one the illustrations are all by different artists, and they’re quite wonderful and make you smile. I love the one where the kid’s asking if they can dress themselves and their clothes are on.

James Patterson:        Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah.

Roxanne Coady:         All funny, but the other thing I like about it is there are things that great picture books do. They give you a lot of context for more conversation, and I think that this book does it with the illustrations? When wouldn’t you say please? There’s lots of ways to have the conversation.

James Patterson:        Right, and each illustration really is a story. It gives you a sense of that kid, and even though you never see the parents or the siblings or whatever, you just get a little sense. One that I like, it’s a little kid. He’s wearing a cowboy hat and he’s on the potty, and there’s no toilet paper on the roll.

Roxanne Coady:         I saw.

James Patterson:       He said, “I need some help here, pleeease,” you know the magic word, which is great. So it’s a lot of fun, and I like doing it. I like reaching out to the left and the right, especially in areas where we ought to be able to agree on things.

Roxanne Coady:         Simple things.

James Patterson:        Yeah. You’d like that it would happen in Congress, that there’s a certain point people would just get in there and say, “Okay, we got a lot of stuff we need to do, so let’s figure out what we agree on and get that stuff done.”

Roxanne Coady:         Well, and I hope this is a first step in doing that. Now, this is under a new imprint that you have called Jimmy Patterson.

James Patterson:        Jimmy, yeah. We’re basically, Jimmy. I guess legally I have to say Jimmy Patterson, but it’s Jimmy books.

Roxanne Coady:         And you also have Read, Kiddo, Read. I’ve got to put in a plug for parents checking that out. The content on there is spectacular, encouraging kids to read and figuring out the books that even reluctant readers will want. Jim, tell us about Jack, your son, and how that inspired you for Read, Kiddo, Read and Jimmy.

James Patterson:        Yeah, you know when Jack was eight or so, he wasn’t a big reader, but he was a bright enough guy, and Sue and I, my wife and I said, “Well, you know, this summer you’re, you’re going to read every day and that’s going to be the deal.” And he said, “Do I have to?” I said, “Yeah, well unless you want to live in the garage. We, we read in our house,” but I said, “The good thing is we’re going to go out, and we’re going to get you a bunch of books.” So we went out to the bookstores and a little bit to the libraries and we got him about a dozen books which ranged from Percy Jackson to A Wrinkle in Time, to one of my books, et cetera. By the end of the summer, he had read a dozen books, and he was a reader. I mean, in his case he went from that to when he took his SATs and got an 800 in reading, which is a perfect score, and now he’s at Brown.

Roxanne Coady:         I can’t believe he’s already at college.

James Patterson:        Yeah, I know. Neither can I. He’s 6’1 and you know, he’s a really good reader and really loves it. And he reads very broadly, which is a nice thing.

Roxanne Coady:         You also have another new … We could talk about your books for an hour. I know you only had a little bit of time, but tell us about your middle reader book called —

James Patterson:        Word of Mouse

Roxanne Coady:         Word of Mouse

James Patterson:        Right.

Roxanne Coady:         I love the title.

James Patterson:        Really, you never know when you start a book whether it’s going to turn out well or not. This turned out great. Word of Mouse is about a blue mouse who escapes with his family initially from a laboratory, so he and his family are being experimented on, and then suddenly he loses track of his family, and he’s alone in the world and he’s never experienced, like kids, he’s never experienced anything that’s in this world. It’s very exhilarating at times and scary at times. He gets into what seems to be a perfect household because the people are so sloppy and they’re kind of piggy and whatever, and there’s food all over the place, so that seems delightful for him at first.

Then he meets a girl who lives next door. It starts that he scares her a little bit, and he talks, and he writes, so he’s learned some things at this laboratory. Where it came from is one of the local churches here, they have these bless your animal days when you bring in your pet, or your cat, and your mouse, and your llama or whatever, or your lion, or whatever you have at home, and they bring them all into the church, which is kind of cool. But I was thinking it would be so weird, everybody’s bringing in their pets, and if a mouse got loose in the church they’d all be like jumping up in the chairs and stuff, you know?

So the poor little mice, and mice are actually quite wonderful, and you’ll learn about them. Kids will learn about them and that they’re very clean and very loyal, and they can actually sing. So we have Isaiah, who’s the blue mouse. He meets a girl mouse and he just falls in love with her because she’s singing, and she has this delightful voice, so it’s a really, I think, a really neat story. I can’t imagine any kid not really getting a kick out of the book.

Roxanne Coady:         Or grownup. I mean, it has a real energy. I mean, as I read it, it just made me smile. It was a fun way to take a break from lots of things going on, and obviously it’s for a middle reader and obviously I’m a woman in my late 60s, but it makes you smile. One of the things that I think great middle reader books do, which I think this one does, is they’re straightforward stories and they remind you about the sort of basic things in life, about finding people who are different like you, or finding people who care, or getting over being scared. There are very common elements told with this funky energy of these mice.

James Patterson:        I don’t give people any extra credit for making a story hard to follow.

Roxanne Coady:         Yeah, no.

James Patterson:        Some people do. They go, “Aren’t I smart? I actually followed that.” Well, yeah that’s okay. That’s all right, but I’m not really giving extra credit for that.

Roxanne Coady:         How about just a great story that you have fun reading?

So Jim you’ve done so much for the world of publishing, and book selling, and literacy. What’s been the most satisfying element of the work that you’ve done?

James Patterson:        Well, I think the kids’ books. That’s really my passion now. I actually think they’re the best things I do. We just had the movie “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,” which I thought turned out really well. I was very happy with the movie. Word of Mouse I really like. I’m proud to do Give Please a Chance with Bill O’Reilly and to spread the word left and right. The whole notion of getting kids reading when they’re already pretty good readers, is getting them reading more broadly so that they’re better critical thinkers and they can really come to grips with some of the problems that we have now when they don’t come up with the easy answers. Like we just did with the election, or didn’t do.

Roxanne Coady:         Yeah.

James Patterson:        More important, are the kids who are kind of at risk and not very good readers, because I really think we can get, not all of them, but we can get most of them to become competent readers. I went to Vanderbilt for graduate school, and I have a program there, this is like the fifth year, and we bring in kids from six different middle schools in Nashville, Tennessee, and they’re all kind of at-risk kids. What’s happened in the schools, and the schools didn’t expect this, even though we’re only bringing 10 or 15 kids from each school, is the whole school’s reading scores have soared because what happens is these kids come back and the teachers go, “Wow, can’t believe how well you’re reading,” and the other kids go, “Wow, can’t believe how well you’re reading.” It works.

Roxanne Coady:         You and I have had many conversations over the years with the work that we do at Read to Grow, and I know you’ve been involved and generous with really focusing on teaching parents of children from birth to three about the importance of those kids hearing words. Books are the pathway and just that step, just that step of reading to their kids, will immediately make them ready.

James Patterson:        You can keep it going, even kids that are a little behind the eight ball. You can still get kids reading when they’re seven, eight, nine, ten. You can still. They can, in a half a year, go from troubled to being competent readers. But parents, and grandparents too, need to understand that it’s your job. That’s what you signed up for. That’s what you signed up for. How dare you send your kids out into the world as incompetent readers and go, “It’s not my fault. They don’t want to read.” It is your fault. You’ve got to make them read.

Roxanne Coady:         Well, you’ve given them plenty of ammunition.

James Patterson:        Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Fun stuff.

Roxanne Coady:         You have books in every shape and size. Jim, on behalf of booksellers and literacy activists, the difference you have made, your generosity, and the books that you’ve written that are so much fun, whether you’re zero or a hundred, have really made a difference in the world.

James Patterson:        Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Roxanne Coady:         I really want to thank you for that.

James Patterson:       You know, years ago I ran into George Lucas, and —

Roxanne Coady:         Just ran into George Lucas, Jim?

James Patterson:       Yeah, the Star Wars guy, yeah, and I was asking him about how he survives out in Hollywood, and he said, “You know, I just keep pushing that wheel up the hill. I just keep pushing it, pushing it, pushing it inch by inch by inch,” and it’s the same thing.

Roxanne Coady:         I really want to thank you for that, and really thank you for taking the time to be with us on Just the Right Book.

James Patterson:        You’re welcome.

Roxanne Coady:         Enjoy the day.

James Patterson:        Yep, you too. Bye-bye.

[Music plays]

What’s on the Front Table? with the Staff of RJ Julia

Roxanne Coady:         It’s now time for our segment “What’s on the Front Table?” I’d like to welcome a very special guest to Just the Right Book. Andrew Brennan is the head book buyer for RJ Julia. Andrew, thanks for stopping by.

Andrew Brennan:       Thank you for having me. It’s good to be here.

Roxanne Coady:         Well, thanks. Andrew, as you know we’ve been talking to our listeners about the decision of what to put on a front table at an independent bookstore is one that is very independent. Nobody’s telling you what to do, and sometimes we can’t even tell Andrew what to do. Andrew, as the head buyer, knows all the books that are coming out from all the publishers, which we call in the industry our front list. Andrew starts planning what he thinks ought to be on the front table, so what we’re going to ask you to do Andrew is tell us what’s on RJ Julia’s front table and why you put it there. What’s your first book?

Andrew Brennan:       Well, my first book is Forever Words by Johnny Cash. It’s the unknown poems. This time of year what goes on the front table is mostly gift stuff, but this is really the perfect book for the Johnny Cash fan. His wife, June Carter Cash, found just troves of information, paper, notebooks, poems, and songs that he never got around to finishing. A lot of the best have been edited here by Paul Muldoon, who is chair of poetry at Princeton University. This is really cool stuff. It’s very much in keeping with his song lyrics. I think fans are really going to like it. I have one poem that I could read.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay. I’d love to hear it. But I have a question before you read it, Andrew.

Andrew Brennan:       Sure.

Roxanne Coady:          Are these lyrics that are poetic-like, or did he actually write poems?

Andrew Brennan:       Well, I think he wrote them as poems. He didn’t write them with music on the paper. You can certainly hear the music in the background when you read these poems, which is why I think the fans are really going to like them. You can imagine any of them as a song, but they were not written to music per say.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay.

Andrew Brennan:       This is a particularly good one.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay, great.

Andrew Brennan:       It’s called “Forever.”

“You tell me that I must perish like the flowers that I cherish, nothing remaining of my name, nothing remembered of my fame, but the trees that I planted still are young, the songs I sang will still be sung.”

Roxanne Coady:         Nice.

Andrew Brennan:       You know, so there’s a lot of them that are narrative. There’s prison ballads, and gun ballads, and girlfriend ballads, and everything that the typical fan is used to in here, but some of them are very much just poems, and maybe like a piece of a song he never got around to.

Roxanne Coady:         Maybe, I mean I’m a Johnny Cash big, big fan. I’m an even bigger Rosanne Cash fan, who had written a memoir. I wonder if it’ll be of interest to non-Johnny Cash fans? It’ll be interesting to see if there’s some curiosity because they do seem to stand on their own, whether you’re a Johnny Cash fan or not, and if you hear the music, how fun for you, right?

Andrew Brennan:       Yeah, I mean, I feel like the musical artists of that era, we can see Bob Dylan just won a Nobel Prize. I think the musicians of that era are really being reexamined, and that’s part of the reason that books like this are coming out. They’re being examined simply as writers.

Roxanne Coady:         Yeah. Pretty cool. Okay, your next book.

Andrew Brennan:       My next book is called At Home in the World by Thich Nhat Hanh. Now, most people have heard of him. He has been teaching Buddhism in his homeland in Vietnam, in Tibet, now in France for 70 years. He looks like he’s about 30, so he must be doing something right.


Roxanne Coady:         Right.

Andrew Brennan:       I, of course, had never read any of these books until very, very recently. I don’t know why. It’s just kind of one of those people that I thought was kind of going to be a little too touchy-feely for me, but this is —

Roxanne Coady:         — as a good Irish boy.

Andrew Brennan:       Oh, yeah. Yeah. This is definitely the best thing I’ve found. There is one passage I want to read.

Roxanne Coady:         Great.

Andrew Brennan:      I’ll try not to make too much noise as I turn the pages. Okay. Here it is.

“Our true home is the present moment, whatever is happening right here and right now. Our true home is a place without discrimination, a place without hatred. Our true home is the place where we are no longer seeking anything, no longer yearning for anything, no longer regretting anything. When we return to right here and right now with the energy of mindfulness, we will be able to establish our true home in the present moment.”

Roxanne Coady:         Andrew, I’m loving what you’re bringing here today. This is good.

Andrew Brennan:       This book is very much out of the box for me.

Roxanne Coady:         Out of the box, I’d say out of this planet for you!

Andrew Brennan:       Well, yeah.

Roxanne Coady:         I like the evolution though, Andrew. I like the movement here.

Andrew Brennan:       Poetry. Buddhism.

Roxanne Coady:         This is good. [Laughs] This is all good. We’ve ruined you.

Andrew Brennan:       Well, it’s stuff that sounds great to read on the radio, right?

Roxanne Coady:         Exactly. Okay.

Andrew Brennan:       These are essays collected about his life, so it’s not kind of strictly the teaching stuff. This is also about as close as we’ve gotten so far to an autobiography from him, so it really covers a lot of ground for his fans.

Roxanne Coady:         I have read him, and I started reading this once you pointed it out to me, and it feels memoir-ish, but it is saturated with his kind of selflessness and his ability to be present, which I think then makes the reader present, right? Then you’re feeling, you’re in that with him. I think he talks about in one of the essays about eating slowly, like taking 45 minutes to eat something, and it does make you think about how sometimes all of us are in a rush and sucking our food down without really savoring that we’re getting to do that. Or he talks about cleaning a toilet, like how lucky to get to clean the toilet and have a toilet, which most of us in the United States don’t think about, Wow, lucky me. I’ve got a toilet! I think he opens our eyes to different ways in which to be present, so I’m excited and I found that book on our front table in my own store. What else do you have on the front table?

Andrew Brennan:       The third book I have is called The Hidden Life of Trees. This is by a German author named Peter Wohlleben. I think I’m pronouncing that correctly. Anyway, he started out his career very much in the commercial logging industry, so he would look at trees as how much is this one worth to cut down? What can I get for this one from a very […] He looked at it from a very commercial standpoint. Later in his life, he went more to the ecological side and really started to study the fact and discover the fact, the reality, this is an emerging science, that trees are a social network. They feed each other. They have children that they take care of. There are huge fungus networks that transfer food in between trees. There are stumps that have been kept alive by the trees next to them for hundreds and hundreds of years. We tend to look at most plants as individuals, and it’s just not that way. It’s very, very readable. You get to learn a lot about all the different types of trees. This is a runaway bestseller in Europe, and it’s doing fantastic here.

Roxanne Coady:         Why’d you pick that for the front table, Andrew?

Andrew Brennan:       Because it’s a great nature-lover gift. It’s readable, but it’s emerging science, and it’s not too long. And it’s about trees.

Roxanne Coady:         And it’s a nice trim size.

Andrew Brennan:       Exactly.

Roxanne Coady:         I always think about trim size. I like smaller books.

Andrew Brennan:       It’s true. It’s true. I mean, he’s concise.

Roxanne Coady:         Whenever you put books on the front table do you think of their jackets at all?

Andrew Brennan:       Absolutely. It’s a factor in every single aspect of my job, what the jacket is, unfortunately.

Roxanne Coady:         Isn’t that weird?

Andrew Brennan:       It’s not weird at all.

Roxanne Coady:         If people respond to that, right? It makes them pick it up or not.

Andrew Brennan:       Absolutely. Absolutely.

Roxanne Coady:         Since you’re not there hand-selling every book to every customer walking in, that’s the only way you can talk to them.

Andrew Brennan:       You have to judge the book by its cover, right?

Roxanne Coady:         I know, that’s a little sad, Andrew. What else do you have?

Andrew Brennan:       One of my, I’ll call it, this is my favorite art book of the year. It’s called Going Once, and it’s put out by Phaidon Press, and they make just fantastic art books every year. This is Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting at Christie’s, so Christie’s wrote this book and it highlights some of their most important sales ever. One of the most interesting to me was they auctioned off the first printed Bible, the first Bible that was ever printed in the United States, and it happened to have been translated into Massachusett, which was the Wampanoag Indian language, so the first Bible printed in the US was printed for the Wampanoag Indians. You get a lot of art in here. You get a lot of culture in here, but it’s always tied to history. These aren’t museum pieces. These are pieces that usually have come from and are going to a private collection. They’ve sold everything from famous houses to Napoleon’s hat, to ¾

Roxanne Coady:         So they all have stories attached to them?

Andrew Brennan:       Exactly, exactly. Yeah, and in the very end, there’s like this timeline that ties together all of these Stradivarii and Pele’s shirt from when they won the World Cup. They tie it to specific events in history, so you can see kind of where you are in the chronology for each one of these things.

Roxanne Coady:         It’s a very cool book. Whenever I see books like this I think, “Wow, why didn’t somebody put this together before? It’s illogical.”

Andrew Brennan:       Well, you know Phaidon does this type of thing really well. It’s one of those books that I think you’re right, that you’re kind of like, “Why didn’t someone do this?” Because it’s really, really hard.

Roxanne Coady:         Andrew and I are both Phaidon fanatics. We love their books. They’re beautiful. They’re brilliantly printed and published, and they’re just gorgeous books. Okay, now your last book is going to be a departure, huh?

Andrew Brennan:       Well, this is the book that I was actually listening to on the way over to the studio, and I am a huge Twin Peaks fan, and this is a book ¾

Roxanne Coady:         Now remind us what Twin Peaks is.

Andrew Brennan:       Twin Peaks is a television show that came out in about 1990, I think. It is the brainchild of David Lynch. The other co-creator is Mark Frost. I consider it one of the top five television shows ever made. It’s certainly one of the most groundbreaking. It has lots of fans still to this day.

Roxanne Coady:         Should I tell you I’ve never seen it?

Andrew Brennan:       That doesn’t surprise me.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay.

Andrew Brennan:       It doesn’t surprise me at all.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay. I won’t go into that.

Andrew Brennan:       Anyway, it’s a great television show that to this day, people go on vacation to the Pacific Northwest to see some of the locations where the show was shot. Next year David Lynch and Mark Frost, the two creators say it is coming back. Kyle MacLachlan’s going to be in it, most of the major stars, but what this book is —

Roxanne Coady:         New scripts?

Andrew Brennan:             Absolutely. It’s a new show. Yes. I mean, it’s a continuation, but it’s all new content. What this book is, is it’s written by Mark Frost, who wrote the bulk of the original series. It is kind of an explanation for all of the supernatural happenings that happen in Twin Peaks. He goes all the way back to Lewis and Clark with their first contact with the local Nez Perce tribe and all the way up through the modern day, so you’re getting more history and tidbits from your favorite places and characters, all in a format of this mysterious dossier that was discovered at a crime scene. You’re looking at fake historical documents, you know, fake CIA ¾

Roxanne Coady:         What a beautifully […] Wow, that’s crazy.

Andrew Brennan:       It’s very [inaudible 00:27:59].

Roxanne Coady:         Andrew, did you put that on the front table because you’re a Twin Peaks fanatic and you’re hoping to find converts, or because there-

Andrew Brennan:       Absolutely.

Roxanne Coady:         That’s it. That was the reason.

Andrew Brennan:       Sometimes I just have to force things on people.

Roxanne Coady:         Yeah, yeah. Well —

Andrew Brennan:      But this book has been selling. It’s something that the big fans are going to know about, but casual fans might not.

Roxanne Coady:         So sometimes Andrew when you’re deciding what’s on the front table are you kind of leading the witness and trying to shape what’s going on? Is that possible?

Andrew Brennan:       Yes, but I feel like if I didn’t do that a little bit, I wouldn’t be doing my job.

Roxanne Coady:         That’s right. That’s right, and you are brilliant at your job. You know, we’ve been lucky to have Andrew in the store. He always figures out, he finds the little gems that are not necessarily the books that everybody’s talking about, and it makes a big difference. We like having that front table look enticing and making people want to stand there and pick up every book, and have one just tickle their fancy and think, “Boy I didn’t think I wanted to read about Twin Peaks, or I didn’t necessarily want to read about the hidden life of trees, but now I do.”

Andrew Brennan:       Well, that’s the point. It’s to show people books that they’ve already heard of and that they might not have heard of but they should.

Roxanne Coady:         Yeah, so Andrew I really want to thank you for being on our Just the Right Book podcast. I hope we’ll get you back for you to keep telling us what’s on our front table.

Andrew Brennan:       Anytime. We’ve got new books coming in every week.

Roxanne Coady:         Okay. Thank you.

Andrew Brennan:       Sure.

Roxanne Coady:         For a complete list of all the books we’ve talked about today, including what’s on RJ Julia’s front table and James Patterson’s Give Please a Chance make sure you head to bookpodcast.com, and of course make sure to subscribe to Just the Right Book podcast on iTunes, and email us at info@justtherightbookpodcast.com. Just the Right Book is produced by Collisions, a division of CRN International. Original music was created by Mark Berman and many thanks to our producer, Christina Torres, and our sound engineer Pat Keogh. Thank you all for listening.

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