The Best Book and Song Pairings from Taylor Swift’s New Album, Midnights

Didn’t get a ticket for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour? Don’t despair. Think of all the money you saved when jamming out instead to Midnights along with a good book instead. The librarians at Libby, an app for borrowing ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more that let’s you borrow from your local library for free, went track by track to come up with pairings to go along with the new album,  check out that list here.

The best part? Unlike a $700+ floor seat and hours of Ticketmaster torture, these books are free. So instead of a credit card, just whip out your library card.

Give credit to Joe Skelley (see his bio below) who works for Libby.

Midnights Book/Song Pairings

It Happened One Summer

 Lavender Haze

📚 It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is an Instagram wild child with a trust fund and a penchant for riling up the paparazzi. A lot of people make assumptions about her, including Brendan—at first. Both characters show that there’s more than meets the eye and they don’t give a darn what people think if they’re meant to be together.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

♫ Maroon

📚 The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

No spoilers here but IYKYK—this song fits the bill.


New Moon

♫ Anti-Hero

📚 New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Jokes about Jacob Black and Renesmee aside, this song captures the vibe of the franchise and the era of the books and movies so well. Whether it evokes Bella’s four-month depression (Hello, One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving / And life will lose all its meaning), Edward feeling like “a monster on the hill” and a danger to his love, or truly the “covert narcissism” disguised “as altruism” from just about every Cullen, this song has the Twilight franchise covered.


♫ Snow on the Beach

📚 The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Addie makes a deal with the devil and lives forever, but is forgotten by everyone she meets. That’s until she meets a man who remembers her name. A lot of her life and loves feel like snow on the beach: weird but beautiful and, often, impossible.


I'm Glad My Mom Died

♫ You’re On Your Own, Kid

📚 I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

With lyrics like, I didn’t choose this town, I dream of getting out and I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss down to the repetition of You’re on your own, kid, you always have been, this song evokes so many of the feelings Jennette describes throughout her book: navigating life with her mother, being forced into Hollywood and just doing her best to survive.


The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers

♫ Midnight Rain

📚 The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass

Micah is the “Prince of Chicago.” He runs a popular (anonymous) Instagram filled with drawings of his numerous, imaginary boyfriends. He’s got it all, but knows he’s so much more than that. When Boy 100 turns into his very first boyfriend, he finds that love is so much more than what’s been living in his head. He has to fight the hurt as he tries to make his own name while Boy 100 is chasing the fame.


Along for the Ride

♫ Question…?

📚 Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Auden spends a lot of nights reading or walking around town—basically doing anything but sleep. She runs into a fellow night owl, Eli, and they form a friendship as they both try to work through their stuff. These lyrics match perfectly:

Good girl, sad boy, big city, wrong choices. We had one thing goin’ on I swear that it was somethin’ / ‘Cause I don’t remember who I was before you painted all my nights / A color I’ve searched for since.


Mockingjay

♫ Vigilante Sh*t

📚 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

There are so many strong, powerful and amazing women in literature who could absolutely “draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man,” but from the jump, this song evokes thoughts of sticking it to The Capitol. Whether dressing for revenge, or taking down the corrupt system from the inside, Katniss Everdeen and her crew are up to some vigilante sh*t.


Daisy Jones and the Six

♫ Bejeweled

📚 Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy has a way of capturing the attention of everyone in the room when she walks in. She shimmers and shines, but there’s more to her than meets the eye.


Isla and the Happily Ever After

♫ Labyrinth

📚 Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla is a hopeless romantic who might finally have a chance with Josh, a guy she’s had a crush on forever. But they have a lot of obstacles to overcome in this sweet and intense romance.

I’ll be gettin’ over you my whole life.


It Starts with Us

♫ Karma

📚 It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover

We could totally imagine “Karma” as Lily’s anthem as she navigates the tricky dynamics of her ex, Ryle, and the feelings she has for Atlas as they meet again as adults. Lily deserves her second chance at love despite the others that keep trying to bring her down.


Beach Read

♫ Sweet Nothing

📚 Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read follows January, a romance author who doesn’t believe in love anymore, and Augustus, a literary author who’s a bit of a cynic. A romance, yes, but you’ll need the tissues ready!

All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothin’.


Before the Devil Breaks You

♫ Mastermind

📚 Before the Devil Breaks YouDiviners Series Book 3 by Libba Bray

This is such a magical and spooky series by Bray, filled with love and mysterious powers. There are so many moments in this book that feel like they only happen when all the stars aligned, and the love story of Theta and Memphis is surely one of them. From their chance meeting during the raid of the Hotsy Totsy club in Book 1, to discovering Theta’s past in Book 3, this pair absolutely embodies “the first night that you saw me nothing was gonna stop me.”

After you soak in the new album, head over to the Libby reading app to find the perfect book match.

Joe_Skelley_2.jpg

About the Author

Joe Skelley has always been a lover of reading and passionate about the library. His love of libraries brought him to OverDrive where he works on the Events team, working with the Digital Bookmobile and co-hosts the Professional Book Nerds podcast. Joe loves thrillers, magical realism and the broad spectrum of YA. When he’s not working, Joe loves to listen to audiobooks and podcasts, watch YouTube, get too involved in a DIY project and (most importantly) play with his Boston Terrier, Roscoe.

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Book Riot: Barnes and Noble Announces Their Best Books of 2022 So Far

Book Riot: Barnes & Noble Announces Their Best Books of 2022 So Far. https://bookriot.com/barnes-noble-best-books-of-2022-so-far/

The Top Ten Books So Far

Amazon

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Amazon

 Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama 

“Bob Odenkirk’s career is inexplicable,” writes Danielle Dresser of Anderson’s Bookshop where Oldenkirk will be signing copies of his new book. “And yet he will try like hell to explicate it for you. Charting a “Homeric” decades-long “odyssey” from his origins in the seedy comedy clubs of Chicago to a dramatic career full of award nominations—with a side-trip into the action-man world that is baffling to all who know him—it’s almost like there are many Bob Odenkirks. But there is just one and one is plenty.

Dresser goes on to say that Bob embraced a life in comedy after a chance meeting with Second City’s legendary Del Close. He somehow made his way to a job as a writer at Saturday Night Live. While surviving that legendary gauntlet by the skin of his gnashing teeth, he stashed away the secrets of comedy writing—eventually employing them in the immortal “Motivational Speaker” sketch for Chris Farley, honing them on The Ben Stiller Show, and perfecting them on Mr. Show with Bob and David.

In Hollywood, Bob demonstrated a bullheadedness that would shame Sisyphus himself, and when all hope was lost for the umpteenth time, the phone rang with an offer to appear on Breaking Bad—a show about how boring it is to be a high school chemistry teacher. His embrace of this strange new world of dramatic acting led him to working with Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, and Greta Gerwig, and then, in a twist that will confound you, he re-re-invented himself as a bona fide action star. Why? Read this and do your own psychoanalysis—it’s fun!

Featuring humorous tangents, never-before-seen photos, wild characters, and Bob’s trademark unflinching drive, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama is a classic showbiz tale told by a determined idiot.

From Comedy to Drama with Bob Odenkirk

Actor, comedian, writer, director, producer and Naperville nativeBob Odenkirk will be at the Yellow Box Theater at the Community Christian Church (1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL) on Thursday, March 3rd at 7pm CT, in conversation with Kim “Howard” Johnson, to discuss his new memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. In this “essential” (Entertainment Weekly), “hilarious” (AV Club) memoir, the star of Mr. ShowBreaking Bad, and Better Call Saul opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.

Tickets are now available, with limited quantities available! For more information, please visit https://OdenkirkAndersons.eventcombo.com. Book details are listed below.

Luckiest Girl Alive book review|Lainey Gossip Books

If You’re not following Lainey Gossip, may I suggest that you do. It’s all about pop culture including books, fashion, movies, celebrities, etc. with lots of fun videos including this one of Tom Cruise thanking people for seeing his latest movie Top Gun: Maverick while free falling from an airplane and talking on his way down. It’s all about getting the shot says Lainey, and he sure does.

Here are a couple of posts from her site–and I mean who wouldn’t love a column titled Smutty Book Round-up?

Here’s short bio from her website

LaineyGossip.com is an entertainment news and gossip blog co-founded by Elaine “Lainey” Lui. The primary voice of LaineyGossip.com, she is also co-host of CTV’s daytime talk show “The Social”, and a reporter on CTV’s “etalk”, Canada’s number one rated entertainment news show.

The site started as an email to small group of friends and colleagues in 2003 and spread by word of mouth to thousands of now loyal readers. It launched as a website in December 2004 and has since grown into an immensely popular entertainment destination visited by over 1.5 million monthly unique readers. Generating over 18 million monthly page views, it is now a leading international celebrity gossip source and a must read for well-read, educated females across North America.

Aside from securing hot tips and exclusive party access on its own, the site has benefited from the access associated with Lainey’s role on CTV’s etalk, which she joined in 2006 as a special correspondent. With etalk Lainey has covered the Red Carpet at the Oscars, SuperBowl XLII, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festivals, and other top tier events worldwide.

In April of 2014 Lainey fulfilled a lifelong dream when her first book Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When a Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter to Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) was published (by Random House in Canada and Penguin in the USA).

Bored yet? If not, below is a selection of clippings from a handful of magazines and newspapers over the past few years.

Need more? See the our full bio here (PDF format) or email press@laineygossip.com for more information.
Buzzfeed, April 2021
Perez Hilton And Lainey Gossip Were Famous For Their Mean Blogs. Now They’re Trying To Change.
By Saachi Koul

ELLE

Every day after I came home from high school, I’d run to my bedroom, turn on my enormous, whirring black Dell desktop, and read Perez Hilton — the up-to-the-minute celebrity gossip blog — for hours. Paparazzi hunting young famous women and bloggers updating their whereabouts by the second created the feeling that every It girl in Los Angeles was publicly spiraling… Link to full article
Toronto Star, Jan 2021
TV sensation Lainey Lui’s dogs, Barney and Elvis, may the best-loved beagles in Toronto. You have to meet them
By Jillian Vieira

ELLE

There are dog people, and then there’s Lainey Lui. Along with husband Jacek Szenowicz, she’s pet parent to Barney, 10, and Elvis, 5, a pair of brotherly beagles who The Social co-host, eTalk co-anchor and founder of LaineyGossip.com fully admits are beneficiaries of an ultra-spoiled situation… Link to full article
ELLE Canada, May 2020
15 Inspirational Asian Canadians to Know
By Patricia Karounos and Hannah Zeigler

ELLE

All of our best gossip comes from Elaine Lui – or Lainey, as she is better known. The Toronto-born writer launched her eponymous blog, Lainey Gossip, in 2004 while still working at Vancouver’s Covenant House. Two years later, she quit her job to preside over the site full time, and she’s been a regular fixture in our pop-culture routine ever since… Link to full article
Chatelaine, Sept 2019
Elaine Lui On Aging: Some Women Want To Embrace Their Wrinkles, But That’s Not Me
By Courtney Shea

Chatelaine

I’m on TV several times a week for The Social and etalk, and one of the things I’m constantly hearing from audience members or on social media is, “Cut that hair!”—that it’s too long for my age. First of all: If you had my hair, would you cut it?… Link to full article
The Cut, Nov 2018
How I Get It Done: Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip
Lisa Ryan

The Cut

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who understands gossip better than Elaine “Lainey” Lui, the Canadian maven behind LaineyGossip.com. She’s been running the site for more than a decade, and parlayed it into a career as an entertainment journalist…. Link to full article
BBC News, Sept 2017
Canadian blogger Lainey Lui on why gossip is political
By Jessica Murphy

BBC

Elaine “Lainey” Lui is keeping a sharp eye on Colin Farrell. The Irish actor is a few tables over in the lobby of a downtown hotel being interviewed for a film he’s promoting at the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff). The festival, which runs until 17 September, is a busy time for Lui…. Link to full article
The Ringer, October 2016
Lainey Is Yours in Gossip: How a 12-year-old celebrity blog became essential again
By Allison P. Davis

The Ringer

Elaine Lui has had her back to me for about 20 minutes, typing away on her Surface tablet. We’re tucked into her broom closet of an office in Toronto’s Bell Media complex, where Lui sits amid an immense but well-organized pile of stuff. A heap of designer shoes is stashed in a cubby; the walls are decorated in the style of collage-obsessed 19-year-old – there’s a Slytherin banner on her front door… Link to full article
Slate, July 2016
A Celebrity Gossip Expert Explains the Summer of Taylor Swift
By Heather Schwedel

Slate.com

Taylor Swift is having quite the summer – from her breakup with Calvin Harris to the birth of Hiddleswift to Kim Kardashian’s receipts-apalooza, plus or minus a Nils Sjoberg, she’s been consistently dominating headlines. But what does it all mean? LaineyGossip.com is where many of the smart women I follow online turn for informed interpretation of the latest celebrity scandal… Link to full article
The Walrus, March 2015
IN DEFENCE OF LOW CULTURE: And praise of love, hate, discovery, jealousy, obsession, betrayal, and mean-girling
By Elaine Lui for The Walrus Talks Creativity

walrus-speech-mar15.jpg

Elaine Lui is a Canadian television personality, reporter, blogger, and author. She runs the celebrity-gossip website laineygossip.com, reports for CTV’s etalk, co-hosts CTV’s daily talk series The Social, and wrote the mother-daughter memoir Listen to the Squawking Chicken… Link to see video
Toronto Life, November 2014
Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014
By Toronto Life

toronto-life-nov14.jpg

She’s the quirkiest, funniest and most watchable member of The Social, CTV’s answer to The View, and the active ingredient in its success. The show, now in its second season, reaches 2.4 million viewers weekly (up 300,000 from Season One) and has reeled in such high-watt guests as Katy Perry, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch and Daniel Radcliffe. Her website, LaineyGossip, attracts… Link to full article
FLARE May, 2014
Mother Clucker
By Maureen Halushak

flare-may2014.jpg

In her new “sort of” memoir, Lainey Gossip’s ELAINE LUI divulges her most personal scoop yet: the inner workings of her insanely close relationship with her mom, semi-affectionately known as the Squawking Chicken. Over dim sum, MAUREEN HALUSHAK observes the dynamic. Read on for the full experience, plus an exclusive excerpt… Link to full article

https://www.laineygossip.com/Luckiest-Girl-Alive-book-review/Books/2063

Mindy Kaling, Amazon Publishing, and Amazon Studios Announce Mindy’s Book Studio and First-Look Deal, a New Home for Dynamic Storytelling

Mindy Kaling, Amazon Publishing, and Amazon Studios just announced the launch of Mindy’s Book Studio, a boutique story studio that will publish books selected by Kaling from emerging and established diverse voices.

“I had the best time working on Nothing Like I Imagined, and I am so excited to continue my relationship with Amazon,” said Kaling, about her last book, a collection of essays in which she reflected upon her new role as single mom, the perks of not having a husband, and her struggle with social anxiety. While dealing with all this, Kaling gets Kanye West’d (or should we now say Ye’d) at her best friend’s birthday, thwarts an “only in LA” crime, and learns what it means to have it all.

Starting later this year, Mindy’s Book Studio will be publishing books across genres, from fresh romantic comedies and poignant coming-of-age stories designed to make readers laugh—and cringe—to gripping dramas with unforgettable female protagonists.

Kaling, a multi-talented actress, comedienne, writer, and Hollywood-bruncher, is known for her insightful and hilarious books including Why Not Me and the delightful and upfront personal Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns). She currently has 11.6 million Twitter followers.

The partnership between Amazon Studios and Kaling will adapt material published under Mindy’s Book Studio as feature motion pictures which will exclusively stream on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.  Kaling holds first-producer option on adaptations. Kaling has also signed her debut novel and new essay collection for publication with Amazon Publishing.

“I’m passionate about bringing unique stories to readers and viewers, and I can’t wait to help discover and support talented new voices through Mindy’s Book Studio,” she says.

From best-selling memoirs to some of television’s most beloved shows and characters, Kaling has entertained readers, viewers, and listeners alike for nearly two decades. Building on her relatable and hilarious take on love and relationships—as seen in her Amazon Charts best-selling essay collection Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) and Amazon Studios’ hit film Late Night (which she co-wrote, produced, and starred in)—Mindy’s Book Studio will expand Kaling’s beloved storytelling sensibilities to a new slate of juicy, unforgettable books that readers can access through subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, and in print and audio.

“We are delighted to work with Mindy and Amazon Studios on Amazon’s first-ever book studio,” said Julia Sommerfeld, publisher of Amazon Publishing. “Mindy is brilliant at bringing to life highly entertaining, funny, sharp, and bingeable stories, and we can’t wait to collaborate with her on discovering and championing must-read stories from new and diverse voices.”

“With her visionary voice, trademark wit, and tremendous artistic acumen, Mindy Kaling remains a relentless innovator in the creative community,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “She is a pioneering artist, remarkable role model, and philanthropist who continues to tap into global and cultural zeitgeists as a source for her refreshingly authentic storytelling. We could not be more thrilled to expand our collaboration with her across Amazon to not only showcase her incredible talents but also introduce new, dynamic storytellers to our global customers.”

Kaling is represented by 3 Arts Entertainment, CAA, The Lede Company, and PJ Shapiro. Sommerfeld, Lauren O’Connor, head of IP & literary acquisitions at Amazon Studios, and Carmen Johnson, editorial director of Mindy’s Book Studio, will work with Kaling to find unputdownable stories with the potential to come to life on the screen.

In 2023, Amazon Publishing will also publish Kaling’s debut novel, a comedic and twisty page-turner under Mindy’s Book Studio. In 2024, Amazon Publishing will publish a new collection of personal essays in print, digital, and audio, offering Kaling’s latest reflections on life, motherhood, friendship, and being a boss. Amazon Studios has acquired first-look rights for Kaling’s forthcoming novel and essay collection.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days

         At first Bethany Lu Carlisle can’t believe what she’s hearing. Keanu Reeves, her super crush forever, is getting married in three months. No way, she thinks trying to dismiss the thought before doing a frantic internet search to find out if it’s really true.

         It’s a vulnerable time for Lu. She’s having difficulty with her creative process which is a fundamental problem given that she’s an artist with a show coming up at her best friend Dawn’s New York City gallery. She also is fielding a business offer from a shark-like, uber rich entrepreneur who wants to brand her work. It’s a very lucrative deal but Lu is afraid of losing control over her own work and besides the guy is way too “hands-on.”  Plus, her other best friend, True, the handsome college professor who wrote a definitive and highly praised book on some type of economic theory—Lu hasn’t read it—is getting job offers from West Coast businesses and has an attractive and overly-friendly research assistant. Like Keanu, True has been a serious crush for Lu but she’s never let him know it. We don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to let you know that he’s been crazy over her for the last 20-plus years as well.

         All this calls for a drastic shake-up to get her life back on track and what better way than to track down Keanu and convince him if he’s going to marry, then she’s available.

         Sure, it sounds flaky but remember How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days is a romantic comedy (rom-com) written by USA bestselling author Kwana Jackson under the pen name K.M. Jackson. It’s the latest in the many rom-coms novels she’s authored.

         Jackson, who was born in Harlem, is just as obsessed with Keanu as Lu and it seems to be a real life family trait.

         “I called my mother today like I do every day and she was busy watching a John Wick movie,” she said in a recent phone interview.

         For the five people in this country who don’t know, John Wick is a lethal and ruthless assassin played by Keanu Reeves in a series of movies by the same name. Retired, Wick is forced back into business to track down his adversaries—a seeming endless task that results in a high rate of carnage in each of the four movies.

         The idea for her book started with a fun tweet Jackson posted after realizing the next Matrix movie starring Reeves as well as the newest John Wick film would come out on the same day.

         “When I saw that, I tweeted don’t bring out your next book on Keanu day,” said Jackson who was bombarded with comments about the book she was supposed to write and told by her agent she’d better get to work on it.

         But that really wasn’t a problem for Jackson.

         “I’ve always been an un-ashamed romance book lover and romance has given me a wonderful place to escape into when I need a place to decompress,” she said. “It makes me happy to write a place for people to escape into.”

This review previously appeared in the NWI Times.

Comedian Michael Ian Black “A Better Man”

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them.

Michael Ian Black

A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of 2020, Michael Ian Black‘s new book, A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to my Son (Algonquin Books) is a poignant look at boyhood, in the form of a heartfelt letter from the comedian to his teenage son as he is leaving for college. But more than that, it is also a far-reaching and radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching today’s young men how to give and receive love.

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, A Better Man reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem. “If we cannot allow ourselves vulnerability,” he writes, “how are we supposed to experience wonder, fear, tenderness?”

Honest, funny, and hopeful, Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and gives a touching answer to an extremely important question: How can we be, and raise, better men?

Black, an actor, comedian, and writer, started his career with the sketch comedy show The State, on MTV, and has now created and starred in many other television shows. Movie appearances include Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, and Sextuplets.

He is also the author of several children’s books including the award-winning I’m Bored, I’m Sad, and I’m Worried, and the parody A Child’s First Book of Trump. His books for adults include the memoirs You’re Not Doing It Right and Navel Gazing, and the essay collection My Custom Van. Black also co-authored with Meghan McCain America, You Sexy Bitch.

As a stand-up comedian, Michael regularly tours the country, and he has released several comedy albums. His podcasts include Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Tom Cavanagh; Topics, with Michael Showalter; How to Be Amazing; and Obscure.

Married, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Jen Lancaster Set to Launch New Book with an Anderson’s Bookshop Online Event

Anderson’s Bookshop is proud to welcome back New York Times bestselling author and Chicago-area native Jen Lancaster to celebrate her newest book, The United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic.  Lancaster has visited Anderson’s Bookshop half a dozen times, and each event is special, including this launch program on Thursday, October 1 at 7 pm. Participating fans will be the first to get their hands on her latest title.

Register here and you will receive the Zoom link in your confirmation email. https://www.eventcombo.com/e/virtual-event-with-jen-lancasterthe-united-states-of-anxiety-40870

Anderson’s realizes that this is a challenging time for many families.  We are offering a variety of ticket options so that customers may choose what is the best fit.  Every book ticket will include a signed copy of The United States of Anxiety, and all contributions will go towards supporting our independent small business and our employees.

About the Book: New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster is here to help you chill the hell out.

When did USA become shorthand for the United States of Anxiety? From the moment Americans wake up, we’re bombarded with all-new terrifying news about crime, the environment, politics, and stroke-inducing foods we’ve been enjoying for years. We’re judged by social media’s faceless masses, pressured into maintaining a Pinterest-perfect home, and expected to base our self-worth on retweets, faves, likes, and followers. Our collective FOMO, and the disparity between the ideal and reality, is leading us to spend more and feel worse. No wonder we’re getting twitchy. Save for an Independence Day–style alien invasion, how do we begin to escape from the stressors that make up our days?

Jen takes a hard look at our elevating anxieties, and with self-deprecating wit and levelheaded wisdom, she charts a path out of the quagmire that keeps us frightened of the future and ashamed of our imperfectly perfect human lives. Take a deep breath, and her advice, and you just might get through a holiday dinner without wanting to disown your uncle–or even worse.

About the Author: Author Jen Lancaster has sold well over a million books, with over a dozen New York Times bestsellers. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, Lancaster has made a career out of documenting her attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all – sometimes with disastrous results. Her New York TImes bestselling novel Here I Go Again received three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). She loves bad TV, terrible wine, and will die before she gives up her Oxford comma.

Lancaster can often be seen on The Today Show, as well as CBS This Morning, Fox News and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and her many ill-behaved dogs and cats. Visit her website: jenlancaster.com, Twitter: @altgeldshrugged, Instagram: @jennsylvania, or Facebook.com/authorjenlancaster.

Hear the stories behind Lancaster’s books on The Stories We’d Tell in Bars podcast, available on iTunes, Podbean, Spreaker, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio, among other entities.

About Anderson’s Bookshop: Anderson’s Bookshop is a 6-generation family-run neighborhood independent business with locations in Chicago’s western suburbs. The company includes a toyshop and school bookfair division. Recipients of dozens of honors, Anderson’s Bookshops share a passion and knowledge of books and of building community through great reads. Anderson’s Bookshops are located in downtown Naperville at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. and in Downers Grove at 5112 Main St. For additional questions and information, visit AndersonsBookshop.com.

Finding hope while studying penguins

I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.

A quirky adventure following an unusual heroine, “How the Penguins Saved Veronica” tells the story of wealthy 85-year-old Veronica McCreedy, who lives alone in a Scottish mansion. Feisty, stubborn and at times whimsical, McCreedy decided to use her large inheritance in funding a group of scientists who study penguins in Antarctica.

But all that money comes with one condition — she wants to meet the penguins.

“The main inspiration of my book was a friend of mine who’s obsessed with penguins,” author Hazel Prior said. “When her husband died, she found an extraordinary strategy of coping with her grief: she decided to travel round the world visiting penguins, her aim to get photos of every penguin species in its native habitat. She’s had such fun with her mission. I’ve always felt that the natural world can bring us healing in many ways, but I decided a story about healing through penguins would be extra-special.”

Prior said she decided to make Veronica older because she’s been incredibly inspired by people she knows who have started learning new things, from harp-playing to sky-diving, in their 80s and 90s.

“I love their ‘it’s-never-too-late’ attitude,” she said. “And they have experienced so many changes in their lives. Having an octogenarian as my main character gave me the chance to delve back into wartime history, which is another interest of mine.”

It’s also important for other reasons.

“Our society leads us to believe that it’s better in every way to be young,” Prior said. “It would have us think that at 30 the best part of your life is over, at 40 nobody notices you anymore and from 50 onwards you may as well not exist — particularly if you’re a woman. This is so wrong. I admire people who are hungry for life, who go out and seek new experiences regardless of their age. For example, a friend of mine started learning the harp at the age of 90. And my neighbor’s father took up skydiving in his 80s. These are extreme examples, but we never stop dreaming, learning or having new adventures. Every year that passes adds to our rich bank of experiences. The logical conclusion is that the older you are, the more interesting you are — so wouldn’t an octogenarian be the perfect heroine?”

Speaking of harps, when Prior was a student in Scotland, she found an old broken Celtic harp in a cupboard and decided to learn how to play it, which wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded.

“But the harp has always been a source of magic and wonder for me,” she says. “It’s an instrument with a sound that’s just so evocative and moving. The Celtic harp was the inspiration for my debut novel, ‘Ellie And the Harp Maker.’”

Asked if she has any special take-aways for readers, Prior answered that she would like to highlight the importance of caring for this planet that we share with so much amazing wildlife. Adélie penguins are just one of the many species threatened by climate change.

“But overall, ‘How the Penguins Saved Veronica’ is a fun book,” she said. “Penguins are not only sweet and charming; they also set us a wonderful example of determination, gusto and cheerfulness in the face of hard conditions — a lesson that’s very relevant in our current times. If I could sum up the message of the book in one word, that word would be ‘hope.’”

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