As a child, I read before the sun came up. Today I still remember many of those books like old friends. In the early Seventies, I read A TRACE OF FOOTPRINTS by Ruth Wolff, a book I wanted to read again. It is out-of-print, but one of our readers found me a copy at some point, and after I re-read it I placed it on my bookshelf where I love seeing it along with my current favorite titles. The pleasure of finding a great book like this is why I love running The Book Report Network so much.
My house is filled with books; most are shelved double deep. My older son Greg, who will be a junior in college, thinks these past summers have been terrific because he had no required summer reading and thus he could meander his way through whatever he felt like reading. His interests include ocean liners, shipwrecks, lighthouses and geocaching, which keep him reading a fair share of nonfiction as well as fiction. He has quite a library of books in his room and it's interesting watching what books get carted back and forth from his dorm apartment to the house. He's been working with us for the past six years doing production work and features and he also weighed in on our Teenreads.com Ultimate Reading List.
My son Cory (age 15) never goes anywhere without a book. He's sure to take one when we gets into the car, even for a short trip to the grocery store. In fact, he most often gets in the car twice; the second time he has the book that he forgot the first time. His current favorite authors include Anthony Horowitz, Garth Nix and Eoin Colfer. He has been known to greet me at the door with a list of books that I need to get for him and he has done blurbs for publishers for a couple of the books that he particularly loves including The Hunger Games trilogy. He has interviewed a couple of authors with me and prides himself on his book collection, which now fills five bookcases double deep and trading books with friends. He takes special bookish joy in turning his reluctant reader friends onto books that he thinks they will enjoy. He proves to me day after day that there are GREAT books out there for boy readers.
My husband Tom can sit on a couch reading a book for an entire day and feel no guilt. In addition to thrillers he reads expedition and history titles. He's broadened his reading horizons as our shelves boast a pretty wide range of work these days.
My reading taste spans a wide gamut as I have the pleasure of discovering new authors every day. I love suspense-thriller writers as well as a number of literary fiction and women's fiction authors. I love well-written memoirs. As I look at my shelves it's pretty cool to see how many of the authors whose work is there I now count as friends. There is something wonderful about reading a just-done manuscript or an early reader copy of an author whose work I really love. I also love reading reader comments at Word of Mouth --- there's always a great idea there on what to read.
Before logging onto the Internet for the first time in 1995, I spent 17 years at Mademoiselle magazine in Promotion and Marketing. I relish the online medium for its immediacy --- and for the ability it gives me to work anywhere, anytime, so long as I can log on. Any bets on where I am writing this?
I am enormously proud of the network of sites we have launched that includes www.bookreporter.com, www.readinggroupguides.com, www.graphicnovelreporter.com, www.faithfulreader.com, www.teenreads.com, www.kidsreads.com and www.authorsontheweb.com.
I would love to hear what you enjoy about TheBookReportNetwork.com and what you would like to see more of. Feel free to drop me a note anytime. I appreciate the feedback from our readers --- it's some of the best reading that I do.
Design and Production
When I was a child, neither my parents nor my teachers could understand how someone they saw as intelligent would refuse to read. I was shuffled into remedial reading classes for the first few years of my education. I enjoyed stories, but I hated reading.
All through my grade school years, the hardest thing anyone could get me to read was Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary or Choose Your Own Adventure. In high school something changed. As a freshman, I was told to read GONE WITH THE WIND. I laughed. I, who hated reading, was going to read this giant super-long novel? I started out by skimming, and failed the first quiz. I sighed and read the chapters --- and was amazed that I couldn't put it down! Sure that was a good story, but I wasn't really compelled to read anything independently. Until sophomore year.
My high school handed out suggested reading lists for each grade level. In an attempt to get me to read, my parents pulled all the matching titles from their small collection and put them on a shelf in my room. One fateful day, I was really bored. I had gone through the shelf of books on many occasions, and this time I was determined to read something from it. A title caught my eye, THE HOBBIT. My father would only tell me it was an adventure story.
After I read the book and told my father how fantastic it was, he informed me that there was more. Excited, I asked him for the next book. THE LORD OF THE RINGS did not look as daunting as it did when I was younger. After initially accompanying my father to the neighborhood bookstore, I starting going there on my own.
One of the employees gave me a suggestion: ARROWS OF THE QUEEN by Mercedes Lackey. I ended up joining the fan club after reading this book, and as far as the world is concerned, the rest is history. I have gone through many series, and while I do enjoy stand-alones, I am rarely satisfied by them. I ended up at the bookstore I had frequented, working part-time...for 12 years. I only left to move to New York.
When I walked into the offices of The Book Report Network for the first time in January 2007, I was impressed by the shear volume of books that were in the office. It looked like a smorgasbord and I wanted to dig in. The friendly staff clinched it for me, and I couldn't wait to become a part of it all. When I was hired, I was ecstatic. It combined the best of several things I love --- books, the Internet and friendly co-workers.
I was six when The Book Report Network began in 1996, and I can say that I have been involved with the company in one way or another since the beginning. You see, my mom is Carol Fitzgerald, who co-founded the company. Growing up my life has been filled with books and conversations about the Company.
Early memories include floating in the pool looking at preliminary sketches of Kidsreads.com (quickly becoming illegible by the splashing of my two-year-old brother), a few weekends where our family room became a branch office of the Postal Service when my mom had to get an early mailing out (although I think that postal workers get fewer paper cuts) and then a few summers of working in the New York office. Most recently I have been working as an Assistant Producer on ReadingGroupGuides.com and I weighed in on the Teen Ultimate Reading List on Teenreads.com.
When I was younger, I was often the test audience for the latest kids’ series, from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to John R. Erickson’s Hank the Cowdog. I became exposed early to many future classics, including reading early copies of the first two Harry Potter books just before it became a phenomenon.
Nowadays, my reading interests span many genres. I love suspense/thrillers and literary fiction, with too many favorites to list; I can devour any book on American or maritime history. I also have a tendency to gravitate towards the travel sections of bookstores and spend 15 minutes flipping through Lonely Planets and Rough Guides to offbeat destinations like Belize and Vietnam. And I’m one of the few kids in my AP literature classes who actually enjoyed reading all those 19th-century classics (with the definite exception of MOBY-DICK).
When I’m not reading, I have plenty else to do. I love photography, as our photo-covered refrigerator shows. I’m a huge lighthouse enthusiast and have seen almost 200 in America. I’m also an ocean liner nut, and I spend a lot of time (too much) in the garage trying to figure out why my beloved 1993 Range Rover does not look like the picture in the repair manual.
I’ve been truly lucky to grow up along with The Book Report. I’ve been exposed to so many great authors in ways I never could have otherwise, and I’ve been fortunate to get to meet many of them. Plus, my mom brings books home, and she never hesitates to hand me her credit card to buy more.
Coming from a family of teachers, I grew up surrounded by books. Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, fantasy and historical fiction quickly became --- and remain --- my favorite genres.
I became seriously interested in the book industry in the mid-1990s after a bookstore owner friend introduced me to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's books. After becoming a huge fan and initiating a correspondence with Yarbro, I began assisting with online publicity projects. This eventually led to online publicity jobs for novelists Suzy McKee Charnas and Tamara Thorne and a summer internship at Tor Books.
During all of this I stumbled across The Book Report Network. I volunteered for the company from 1998-2002, first as one of the chat hosts and later as a message board monitor.
The Book Report Network hired me in February 2002. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to do everything from coordinating and promoting editorial roundtables to monitoring reader contests to booking advertisements to editing newsletters. I currently direct outreach campaigns and blog tours for our AuthorsOnTheWeb division.
Wonderful colleagues, supportive family and friends and books. Who can ask for more?
The Book Report Network:
the book report network is an internet company comprised of 5 websites and 4 aol areas that provide a vast array of online opportunities for readers, writers and publishers. the book report network's websites for readers provide original book content including author interviews, reviews and commentary; interactive elements such as polls, questions, and message boards; and reading group guides and other reader resources. Our newest site, AuthorsOnTheWeb.com, offers website design services, website hosting, and various Internet marketing opportunities to authors and publishers. AuthorsOnTheWeb.com also features the AuthorsOnTheWeb Yellow Pages, a directory of author websites and online events.
Established in 1996 and headquartered in New York City, The Book Report Network has drawn enthusiastic approval and critical praise from publishers, authors, educators and librarians. With close to 500,000 unique users and more than 50,000 newsletter subscribers, these sites are recognized by publishers as the catalyst to efficiently and effectively reach audiences to promote books and authors, as well as generate book sales.
Our flagship website. Launched in August 1996, Bookreporter.com provides book reviews, interviews and excerpts on all the latest books as well as special features, polls, and contest about books, authors and reading.
Debuting in July 1997 Teenreads.com, is the younger version of Bookreporter.com, providing teens with an opportunity to read about the books that interest them the most and to share ideas and suggestions with their peers.
Booker T. Worm brings his special brand of fun and reading advice to kids aged 6 to 12.
ReadingGroupGuides.com is the first website built especially for reading groups, providing them with all they need to make their book club experience better than ever.
AuthorsOnTheWeb.com promotes the author websites that the Company builds for authors as part of its web development division. AuthorsOnTheWeb.com is the only website with the sole purpose to spotlight and drive traffic to author websites. The editorial surround on this website is geared toward giving readers a deeper look at the authors that they are reading as well as the writing process.
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by Jess Walter
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