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Movers & shakers | David Sedaris | First Reads | Trivia | Jackie Collins | Steven Pressfield | Events near you | New features | Poem of the month

Movers & shakers

Goodreads can tell you what's hot! These books have been racing up our most popular charts in the last month.

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
New York publicist Sloane Crosley's essays about her desperate attempts to please her boss (she bakes a cookie in the shape of her superior's face) and bouts of vegetarian guilt are evocative of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell with every mercurial sentence. Goodreads member Jeffrey says, "Throughout this collection are true comic gems that forced me to laugh out loud." Natalie sums it up, "She had me at Oregon Trail."

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Faced with terminal cancer, professor Randy Pausch delivered a final lecture to his students that was captured on video and became an Internet phenomenon (over 6 million views). Julia describes his book about life post-diagnosis as "a poignant and uplifting look at what is important in life...and the manner in which he uses death as a positive experience is amazing." Pausch is still sharing his health updates on his blog.

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
Ellen seems like a happy newlywed until she bumps into an old flame. Next thing you know, she's questioning every decision she's ever made. Karina says Giffin's story has "emotional depth, that messiness that you cringe at but can't look away from or stop reading." And Elyse calls it "a good choice to read at a beach, but it won't make you feel vapid the next morning."

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
What would you do if, at age 32, you met your childhood imaginary friend — in the flesh? Emily says, "Patterson has this way with fantastical elements where he doesn't try to explain how or why this is happening, but you totally believe it because you want to." Meghan thinks Patterson has created "yet another magical story that you want to pass around to everyone you know."

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
In Chabon's "plausible but entirely bizarre alternate universe" (Alan), President Roosevelt established a Jewish homeland in Alaska in 1941 (for the "Frozen Chosen"). Sixty years later, a hard-on-his-luck police detective in the community struggles to solve the murder of a former chess prodigy. Anne says, "Chabon manages to write a top-notch piece of mystery-detective-novel-noir that simulatenously parodies and celebrates the genre."

"In Bed" with David Sedaris

Looking for a book that keeps you reading into the wee hours of the morning? Bestselling humorist David Sedaris has a few recommendations. Of course, he recommends his brand-new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames (win a copy!), as well as some of his other masterpieces — Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim — but did you know that he's reading The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton? Sedaris says, "How good it feels to throw back one's head and howl with a great comic novel. The 'burial tuck' alone should make The Bible Salesman a classic." Here are the five books stacked on David's nightstand.

The Bible Salesman
by Clyde Edgerton
(win a copy!)

Jenny and the Jaws of Life
by Jincy Willett

Birds of America
by Lorrie Moore
Among the Thugs
by Bill Buford
Random Family
by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc.

First Reads — win prerelease books from Goodreads!

Win a copy of David Sedaris's new book When You Are Engulfed in Flames and be the first to get your hands on the book he's reading now — The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton. Everyone else has to wait until August!
Sign up to win these two books! »

Geography of Love: A Memoir by Glenda Burgess
If love is a leap of faith, memoirist Glenda Burgess leapt over a chasm when she fell in love with her future husband, a twice-widowed man, who some suspected of murder. Readers say this love story persuades you to trust your gut, and it reveals why a bold action may be worth the risk.
Sign up to win an advance copy of The Geography of Love! »

The Never-Ending Book Quiz

Think you have a mind like a steel trap? Play the The Never-Ending Book Quiz and see how you stack up against your friends!

featured trivia question

What town do Huck and Jim try to escape to in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn?
Play the never-ending book quiz »

10 Questions for Jackie Collins — Goodreads Exclusive

It's been 40 years since Jackie Collins' first bestseller, The World is Full of Married Men, gave readers an insider's view of an extravagant Hollywood lifestyle. After writing 23 New York Times bestsellers, Collins shows no signs of slowing down and has just published her latest novel, Married Lovers. True to form, she serves up her signature dish of saucy heroines and delectable men, along with generous helpings of money, sex, and scandal. Collins talked with Goodreads about her long career, life in Hollywood, and what she's writing next.

Goodreads: Many of your fans probably picture you traveling in luxury on private planes, but right now you are touring America in a bus! How is life on the road treating you?

Jackie Collins: I love how life on the road feels. My tour bus is incredible, with a queen-size bed, several large-screen TVs, and all other luxuries. It's a blast!

GR: You describe Cameron Paradise, the heroine of your new novel, Married Lovers, as "five feet, eight inches tall, with a well-toned body, flawless skin, high cheekbones, and dirty blond hair worn short and spiky, with long bangs that drifted sexily above her pale green eyes." Certainly a physical ideal, even a fantasy. Off the page in real life, what makes a woman sexy?

JC: Attitude! A self-confident look at life and a well put-together appearance. Also a sense of humor, long legs, and a feeling she can do anything!

GR: Your first novel, The World is Full of Married Men, was published in 1968 and was promptly banned in several countries because of its sexual content. Not many authors, let alone female authors, were writing about sex at that time. How did this early controversy influence you?

JC: It made me stronger. It made me more determined to succeed. It made me want to prove that women can achieve plenty, and as a school dropout at 15, it was a real challenge to ignore the criticism and keep writing.

GR: Your books often spoof the lives of the rich and famous. So what happens when you actually interact with the rich and famous at dinner parties and events in Hollywood? Are they scared to talk to you, knowing you'll immortalize their stories in the pages of your next novel?

JC: Ah...but I change their names to protect the not so innocent! My readers love playing the guessing game, and it's fun for them to try to identify the real-life characters I write about.

Read the next six questions »

10 Questions for Steven Pressfield — Goodreads Exclusive

Steven Pressfield is a modern-day Homer, a writer interested in epic struggles, bloody battles, and legendary warriors. A former U.S. Marine, Pressfield fought his way through 17 years of odd jobs until he earned his first paycheck as a writer. He is now an established author of historical fiction, with notable expertise in the ancient world. Gates of Fire, his best-known work, transports the reader to the battlefield of Thermopylae, where a small Spartan army famously held its ground against an immense Persian force. His newest novel, Killing Rommel, leaps forward a few thousand years to World War II. Pressfield told Goodreads what inspired this change of scene.

Do you have a burning question for Steven Pressfield? The author will be available in July to answer all your questions and talk about his new book — join the Q&A discussion group!

Goodreads: You've tackled a broad range of subjects. You've explored ancient fables and taken a close look at the nuances of golf. Your lastest book, Killing Rommel, is set in North Africa during World War II and follows a British book publisher who is assigned to the Long Range Desert Group. This battalion of soldiers is charged with eliminating the legendary German commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, a.k.a. Desert Fox. What inspired you to tell this particular story?

Steven Pressfield: I was researching Alexander the Great. I wanted to know about his cavalry tactics. Unfortunately, the most recent ancient source for Alexander was written 400 years after his death. So I started researching modern cavalry tactics, figuring they probably haven't changed very much. This led me to Frederick the Great, to Napoleon, to U.S. Civil War generals — and to Erwin Rommel. It turns out armored tank tactics are not so different from horse cavalry. I got hooked on Rommel. Then when I heard of this British commando outfit called the Long Range Desert Group who fought against him using unarmored Chevy trucks and Jeeps, I fell in love with the name and with the swashbuckling nature of the behind-the-lines desert war that they fought. That was it!

GR: With the exception of The Legend of Bagger Vance, all your previous novels have taken place in the ancient world: the Spartans in 480 B.C., Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., Alcibiades in 450 B.C. Is there more pressure when you tell a story that lives on in people's memories (like World War II)? How is the research process different?

SP: A lot more pressure! In fact, I just got an e-mail from a reader ten minutes ago, citing all the historical mistakes I made in Killing Rommel. People remember — and they can check up on you, which is a lot harder when the period is two thousand years ago. So yes, the research had to be much more diligent. I spent three or four times the hours on Killing Rommel as on any of my books set in the ancient past.

GR: Tell us about your movie-style trailer for Killing Rommel. You actually went out into the desert to shoot a short film about your book, and now that clip is on your website, YouTube, and Goodreads (watch it!). How has getting the word out changed since your previous novels? Is it working?

SP: There's a crisis for writers these days. No more book reviews. Newspapers have cut back drastically. How can a writer get the word out that his book even exists? I decided to do a video and get it up on YouTube, link it to WWII sites, etc. I went a little crazy. I have some good friends who are filmmakers back East. They came out to the California desert, at Dumont Dunes, where dune buggies and sandrails go on weekends; we had real WWII re-enactor vehicles driven by the Long Range Desert Group Preservation Society. We acquired WWII stock footage and spent three days shooting in the desert, a sort of mini-History Channel doc with me as the on-camera host. Then weeks in the editing room after that. The shooting was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was writing my own lines one minute, memorizing them the next, then doing them on-camera right after that. The whole thing cost me a fortune, but it was worth it just to be active and not passive. Just as I had feared, we had only three mainstream reviews: USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and the Washington Post. The video made up for all of that. We cut it in three lengths — 30 seconds, 3 minutes, and 10 minutes. The 30-second we used as a commercial on the Military Channel. The others we plastered on the Web. One result is I've been slated to do a full-hour History Channel show, as the host, on Rommel later this year. And sales have been excellent. Without these videos, the book would have had no way to announce its presence. It would have sunk without a trace.

Read the next seven questions »

New features

We love hearing your suggestions! Tell us what you would like to see happen on Goodreads by visiting the Goodreads Feedback Group. Here are some of our latest additions.

Shelving made easier!
Need to put one of our movers & shakers on your to-read shelf? We just made it a whole lot easier with our revamped drop-down menu for shelving. Don't stop at the to-read shelf — add these hot books to your new-fiction, fantasy, and rainy-day shelves all at once!
New widget: the book montage!
Make a crazy quilt of covers with our new book montage widget. You won't be able to look away from this collage of book covers, and because you can make it as big or as small as you want, you can put it just about anywhere on your blog or website.
New event features — Are you invited?
We've spiffed up our events section with all sorts of useful tools. Now you can keep track of crucial event details, see who's invited and who's coming, and easily send reminder e-mails.

Poem of the month

Learning the Characters (Yue Liang — The Moon) by Koeeoaddi

My hand,
stiff as horsehair
falters and balks.
"The moon," he tells me
and draws the lines.

Listen to me.
I grind the ink,
look into the wet black slab
but see no sky.
I worry my hand
across the page
the sun fastened tight
to obstinate dusk.

he insists.
His lesson forms
in rock and light.
I retrace his strokes,
and he smiles —
my crude moon
climbs a crumpled sky.

But later
alone at my desk,
I sketch the spiny shadow
of the asparagus fern,
a cat on the sill
looking into the night

And the moon
blooms like an orchid
my astonished brush.

Read more poetry »

With love,

Jessica, Elizabeth and the Goodreads Team

ps. Goodreads is hiring developers!

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