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Weird Science


What if everyone on earth aimed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time? What if you could drain all the water from the oceans?

"We Should Have Brought More Pemmican." (Polar Voyages Gone Wrong)


August 2014 marks 100 years since Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out in the Endurance on the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition," a mission to trek 1,800 miles from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea on the far side of the continent, crossing the South Pole on the way.

Kill Your Darlings: The Art of Jacket Design


Peter Mendelsund, over a long and influential career as a book jacket designer, has added his deft touch to many volumes--many of which would be recognizable to any book lover.

MacGyver Your Food


My family jokes that I can make always make somethin' out of nothin' in the kitchen, but what I usually  come up with is pretty pedestrian.

YA Wednesday: Talking to Chris Weitz and Jennifer Smith


Earlier this year I had the great pleasure to sit down with two delightful YA authors to talk books.  Chris Weitz, best known for his work in film including the movie adaptations of The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Golden Compass,  just released The Young World, a dystopian novel (the first in a series) set in New York that is also one of our August Best YA Books of the Month.   Jennifer E.

Smoking Gun: 5 Crime Novels Elmore Leonard Might Have Loved


A year ago, we lost a legend of American crime and suspense writing. Elmore Leonard died on this day at the age of 87, after a six-decade career that produced dozens of crime novels, westerns, and short stories, many of which found their way to big and small screens (Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Justified).

Matthew Thomas Is Going to Carry That Weight


Every year, a handful of books are singled out for big advance buzz months in advance of the fall season: debuts and "break-out" titles carrying the weights of hope (the author's) and expectation (the publisher's).

How I Wrote It: Karen Abbott, on Maverick Women and the Civil War


While sitting in Atlanta traffic years ago, Karen Abbott noticed the bumper sticker on the pickup truck in front of her: "Don't blame me, I voted for Jeff Davis." She realized that many southerners not only felt residual pride for their long-ago Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, but that they were "still fighting the Civil War down here." From those origins comes Abbott's new book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, the story of four female spies, two from each side, including one who disguised herself as a male soldier in the Union army.

Even More End-of-the-World Books: Customer Picks


Last week I wrote about a few doomsday books out this summer, including Emily St. John Mandel’s forthcoming Station Eleven, Edan Lepucki’s California and Ben Winters’s World of Trouble.

Daniel Levitin on Getting Organized, Choosing Priorities, and the Importance of Daydreaming


Daniel Levitin's The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload is a comprehensive look at the evolution of information, the neurobiology behind how we think, and how we can become better organized in a world of distractions.

"Crusty Pandy" and the Art of Modern Taxidermy


There is something going on. Four years ago, we selected Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy as a Best Book of the Month for March 2010.

Graphic Novel Friday: Gilbert Hernandez's Big Year


At the end of July, hard-working and prolific artist and writer Gilbert Hernandez won the Eisner Award for Best Short Story (“Untitled” in Love and Rockets: New Stories #6), to which he stated, “The biggest surprise was the story they chose; a wacked-out fantasy that I didn’t think anyone would take seriously.

Chip Kidd, on Designing Haruki Murakami's 5-Fingered Book Cover


“You know, in a sense we were the perfect combination, the five of us. Like five fingers.” So declares Ao Oumi--better known as Blue--to Tsukuru Tazaki, otherwise known as Colorless.

How I Wrote It: Ben Mezrich, on His New Novel, "Seven Wonders"


Ben Mezrich is best known for his bestselling geeks-to-riches nonfiction stories, particularly Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires, both of which became major motion pictures.

Amazon Music Book Club: Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy on Self-Help Books & Graphic Novels


Thanks to our friends at the Amazon Music Notes blog for this "Book Club" Q&A with Travie McCoy, frontman for Gym Class Heroes, discussing self-help books and graphic novels.

YA Wednesday: A Picture is Worth...


When I heard the premise of The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone I was intrigued. I figured it would be really good or really bad with not much wiggle room in between.  So I sat down to read a chapter or two and didn't get up until I was finished.  Author Adele Griffin has written a memoir of the life and mysterious death of Addison Stone, a young artist-turned-celebrity, as told by her fans, friends, and enemies.  The book comes with photographs of the beautiful, petulant Stone and her art.  Addison Stone has a mesmerizing story.

YA Wednesday Sneak Peak: New Maze Runner Movie Trailer


  The Maze Runner movie is coming out next month (in theaters 9/19) and I'm already bugging the publisher to see if there are going to be any early screenings here in Seattle.   From the trailers I've seen, and early buzz, it looks like the film adaptation will do cinematic justice to this brilliantly imagined book that is truly one of my favorites.  Another nod to doing it right is the movie tie-in cover on the book.  Often, these do not turn out well.  Really almost never, in my opinion.  But the new Maze Runner cover that you see here--pretty great, right?

Rick Riordan: The Weirdest Myth


Percy Jackson's Greek Gods releases next week (8/19) and this Best Book of August is a look at Greek mythology as only the demigod Percy Jackson can do.  We already know author Rick Riordan is an avid mythology reader but wondered what myth he's run across that was more bizarre than all the rest (because, let's be honest, a lot of mythology is really strange).  Here's Riordan's take on the weirdest myth: The Weirdest Myth While writing Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, I came across a lot of weird myths.

Dystopian Fiction: 8 Doomsday Books and "No More Avatars"


A flight from Moscow to middle America. Passengers carry a flu virus that explodes “like a neutron bomb over the surface of the earth.” In a blink, the world looks like this: “No more ballgames played under floodlights.

Get Ready for...Shark Week


Shark Week started on the Discovery channel back in 1988 and has steadily gained momentum in the years since.  Sunday officially kicks off Shark Week 2014 with host Rob Lowe and we thought we'd celebrate with a selection of books, both fiction and nonfiction, for all those shark-loving kids who will be tuning in.


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