Give the gift of writing! (This week in books)

by | Dec 6, 2019 | This Week in Books | 1 comment

Photograph of the Northern Lights from a plane
The Northern Lights by plane. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!

Writing is one of the most meaningful pursuits life has to offer. And if you’re looking for a gift for a writer in your life this holiday season, consider gifting them some encouragement!

I offer consultations, edits, coaching, and more, and I’d be happy to help your loved one with whatever you think they need most.

Contact me for more information!

(Also check out my not-so-serious holiday gift guide for writers).

Next up: a few more housekeeping items before we move on to all the links I’ve collected over the past few weeks!

  • There’s still time to enter the Amusingly Humorous Book Title Contest for a chance to win $50 to your favorite bookstore!
  • I’m going to be giving a keynote address and a master class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writers’ Institute in March! Check out the website for all the offerings at the conference and please consider attending.
  • Thanks to John T. Shea for pointing out that yesterday was the 10th Anniversary of the Bransforums! Thank you to John for being an amazing spam fighter and for everyone who has participated over the years.

Now then, I stored up quite a few links over the past few weeks, and here they are.

LitHub had a really awesome feature where they featured the 78 best book covers of the year, along with commentary from book designers on what they liked about them.

Where is Barnes & Noble headed under its new leadership? One domino dropped recently as they let all of the freelancers go who wrote for their teen and sci-fi/fantasy blogs (subscription link). CEO James Daunt noted to Publishers Lunch that it’s part of their efforts to empower local booksellers over centralized services.

Here’s an awesome gallery of 10 stunning literary locations in Scotland. Plan your next trip accordingly.

A new movie version of Little Women is coming out soon and Laura Dern is going to narrate an audiobook! (via LitHub).

The New York Times’s acclaimed 1619 Project is going to be adapted as a series of books, published by esteemed editor Chris Jackson at One World.

As I predicted back in 2016, there’s been a wholesale assault on the truth the past few years, and Maris Kreizman argues in Vanity Fair that the publishing industry is complicit.

Two very interesting articles on the future of books and the publishing industry. First, Team WNiP has a post on the effect AI is going to have on the publishing industry, arguing “the impact will be immense,” although don’t expect massive layoffs (via Gotham Ghostwriters). And in the NY Times, Alix E. Harrow imagines a 2039 where books have given way to VR.

It’s best books of the year list season, here are some notable lists:

And congrats to the National Book Awards winners for 2019!

This week in bestsellers

Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):

Adult print and e-book fiction:

  1. The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts
  2. Criss Cross by James Patterson
  3. The Guardians by John Grisham
  4. A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Adult print and e-book nonfiction:

  1. Crime in Progress by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch
  2. A Warning by Anonymous
  3. Me by Elton John
  4. Educated by Tara Westover
  5. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Young adult hardcover:

  1. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
  2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  4. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
  5. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Middle grade hardcover:

  1. The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
  2. Ali Cross by James Patterson
  3. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney
  4. The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
  5. A Tale of Magic… by Chris Colfer

This week on the blog

Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:

In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:

Comment! of! the! week! goes to John T. Shea for his epic response to the holiday gift guide, which you should just check out in full.

And finally, the end of the year is often a time of taking stock of where we are and where we’re going, and I really enjoyed this article on burnout and insecurity among graduates of elite universities (a phenomenon that extends well beyond the Ivies). The solution, as always: cultivating the right friends.

Have a great weekend!

Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!

For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.

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1 Comment


    Thanks for another wide-ranging round up, Nathan. And a great pic of the Aurora Borealis and a wingtip winglet. Also for ten years of the Bransforums. And best of luck with your University of Wisconsin Madison Writers Institute address and master class!


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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