Today’s release of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s second book following the American staple of literature To Kill a Mockingbird, signifies a landmark in a widely considered “dying” industry of book publishing. In the book world, this “new” novel is comparable to any hit summer blockbuster movie.
Underneath the fans’ passion lies a heap of controversy and ethical question marks. Among them are concerns over Harper Lee’s health and whether she actually agreed to publish this book, years after vowing to never publish again. Lots of Lee’s close friends point the finger at her lawyer, Tonja Carter, citing she’s taking advantage of Lee in her old age. In a savvy PR move, Carter provided her story in an op-ed to the Wall Street Jounal of how Watchman went from being stuck in a safety deposit box to being made available to millions of excited fans today.
The public may never know the true story behind Lee’s change of heart or if Carter is telling the truth, but we recognize a valiant effort by Carter to take control of her message in hopes to set the record straight.
With summer season upon us, it’s always a great time to catch up on a new book. Our colleagues are voraciously consuming new, non-fiction, best sellers and best-beloved books.
If you’re looking for a good book to while away the hours until Labor Day and beyond, you might find some inspiration here:
Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf 2013)
Kendra says, “Americanah covers race, relationships and identity. It pulls you into the politically complex world of Nigeria at the turn of the 21st century and the love story of Ifemelu and Obinze. It takes an interesting approach to storytelling that is direct, but still descriptive. You feel the energy and emotion of the characters and fall in love with their process of discovery. My sister made the recommendation and gave me her copy of the book. She thought I’d enjoy it.”
Maryliz Ghanem, Vice President
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer (Doubleday 2015)
Maryliz says, “Krakauer reports on a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana. He shares the stories of the victims, the accused and law enforcement in a beautiful narrative that brings to life this serious issue. This isn’t an ‘easy’ summer read but anything Krakauer writes is brilliant. He’s an amazing storyteller, even when he’s reporting on such a tough subject. He draws you in, makes you question everything and leaves you wanting more. This book was recommended for me on GoodReads.”
Theresa Piti, Office Manager
1Q84, Haruki Murakami (Knopf 2011)
From the cover blurb: “A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —‘Q is for ‘question mark.’”
Theresa says, “It’s a dual narrative story and as of yet, I’m not sure where it will converge. I’m a fan of Japanese fiction. A friend recommended it and off I went.”
Scott Berwitz, Vice President
Inferno, Dan Brown (Doubleday 2013)
Scott says the book involves “a famed Harvard professor who wakes up in a strange hospital after having survived an attempt on his life. He has to make sense of his predicament while being hunted down by his would-be killers – a task made ever more difficult by the short-term amnesia he suffers from the attack. What results is a fascinating journey through Florence and the underworld depicted in Dante’s Inferno. It’s sort of a cerebral thrill ride, a really exciting read. I’ve loved other books by this author such as, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.
Claire Higgins, Account Executive
The World According to Garp, John Irving (1978, republished 1999 by Ballantine)
This story chronicles the life of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of a feminist, following him from infancy through all the pivotal moments in his life. Claire says, “It’s very long, and a little long-winded, but John Irving is a favorite of mine so I had to pick it up and am determined to finish it. Once I hit the most climatic moment in the story, I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s very realistic, heartbreaking at times, and dryly and subtly funny, which I like. I liked John Irving after reading A Prayer for Owen Meany (William Morrow 1989), but both were recommended to me by my aunt and grandma. Irving is a fave of theirs, too.”
Some of our clients recently shared what they’re reading this summer, so we decided to investigate the reading lists of our own PR mavens… In a job where you’re reading the press all day, every day, it’s great to see the DGC team delving into a broad variety of written words. Inspiration can come from anywhere!
- Sam DiGennaro, CEO and Founder, says her attention span after a long day’s work is short so she’s reading short stories by Italo Calvino and Raymond Carver. The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh also helps soothe the soul.
- Melanie Wells, Managing Director, Chief Content Officer, has Storytelling in Business: The Authentic and Fluent Organization by Janis Forman on her night stand as well as Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. A North Carolina native who now lives in Brooklyn, Melanie is also interested in learning about The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream is Moving by Leigh Gallagher. It’s scheduled for release August 1.
- Kendra Peavy, General Manager, Director of Development, has delved into The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin; The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha; and How to be Interesting (in 10 Simple Steps) by Jessica Hagy.
- Like Melanie Wells, Marni Raitt, Vice President, has on her list, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, even though Marni herself isn’t an introvert. She’s also enjoying Jeffrey Eugenides’s latest book, The Marriage Plot: A Novel.
- Kathleen Sampey, Vice President, is on a non-fiction binge and just finished reading Life After Death by Damien Echols, who, as a member of the “West Memphis 3” spent 18 years on death row in his native Arkansas for the murder of three 8-year-old boys in the 1990’s. All three of the accused were tried as teenagers and have maintained their innocence. They were released in 2011.
- The Life of Pi, as told by Yann Martel, is Gemma Pollard‘s, Vice President, latest book conquest after she picked it up at a friend’s house to accompany her July 4 vacation.
- Lee Lubarsky, Account Director, has a non-fiction book, Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring by Philip N. Howard and a work by Stephen King, 11/22/63: A Novel.
- Account Director, Meg McMahon, can’t get enough of the biz so she’s reading Truth in Advertising by John Kenney, calling it “a quick easy read that paints an amusing picture of the ad industry.”
- Senior Account Executive, Christine Perez-O’Rourke, is enjoying Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain.
- Jordan Katz, Senior Account executive, describes A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke as “a modern-day Holden Caulfield story” and is loving it.
- Account Executive Kaitlin Vangura has picked up The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, an author she likes quite a bit after having read his more recent book, Outliers.
- Not many people would consider Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers to be a summery beach read, but if you knew office manager Theresa Piti, you’d understand.