Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
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Books are the best gateway drugs

World Book Night US is upon us and soon 500,000 books will be given away in cities and towns all over the US. In that mix will be 50,000 copies of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet that my publisher has donated (and I waived all royalties).

The idea is for volunteer givers to pass out books to under served communities--everything from homeless shelters and prisons, to college campuses and starving college students (because honestly, if you're paying $275 for a textbook can you actually afford books to read for pleasure?)

Plus, this is an opportunity to just give books away, to share the joy of reading, to promote literacy. Speaking of, I had the privilege of meeting three students (from the US, Syria, and Romania) in an adult literacy program for whom Hotel was the first book they had ever read. How cool is that! It was an honor beyond any bestseller list.

So to do my part, I'll be at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle tomorrow with fellow author, Maria Semple, as we kick-off this wonderful, beautiful, crazy thing. And then on Weds I'll be at the Panama Hotel at 11:00am, giving away books, while they last. And some fine folks from the Wing Luke Asian Museum will be giving away books later that afternoon on the actual corner of Bitter & Sweet. Which is actually the corner of 6th & Main (which didn't sound quite as sexy as Bitter & Sweet, as far as book titles go).

Have a great World Book Night!


Operation: DEXTER

Lately our intrepid dog, Dexter, also known as "The World's Best Shelter Dog of All Time" has been pulling a Houdini and somehow sneaking out of the backyard. So, to figure out his tricks I hooked him up with a GoPro camera. This is what we discovered this week. (No animals or mailmen were injured in the making of this video).


And on a non-canine note, I'll be in Seattle next week for World Boook Night US and giving away books on the corner of Bitter and Sweet, otherwise known as 6th and Main (at the Panama Hotel). More on that this weekend.


A very sincere form letter from the heart

World Book Night US is next week! Which means that volunteer givers have been receiving boxes of books and assorted goodies.

One of these givers, Kalpana of New Orleans, asked if I would write a special note that she could add to the books she'll be passing out. I said "yes" of course, but why let Bourbon Street givers have all the fun?

So here's a letter that you can include as well, if you're so inclined. Either way--thank you for volunteering, thank you for giving, and stay safe!



Hi there,

If you’re reading this note, that means that (giver name) has given you a copy of my book, Hotel on the Corner of You Know What, and for that I’m as happy as a 2nd grade girl with a truck-load of Hello Kitty pencil toppers.

Seriously, I’m that happy.

Because not only did someone publish my book (that someone being Random House), and not only has it been translated into 34 languages (c’mon Estonia, the pressure’s on), but best of all, my novel has been chosen to be given away for FREE on World Book Night—to YOU! And for that, I'm thrilled.

So, where do you fit in to all of this? Well, I hope you read it. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope it’s a literary gateway drug to other interesting, entertaining, and enlightening books. And I hope you share it with others.

And if you really, really, REALLY enjoy it, I hope you’ll hit me up on the usual social mediums, like Twitter. I’d love to hear from you when the glitter settles.

Happy reading and happy World Book Night!

Your pal,



P.S. The best way to thank your giver is to become one yourself (next year!)


And for those of you reading this in the Seattle area, I'll be at the Elliott Bay Book Company next Tuesday for a World Book Night kick-off event with Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) See you there!


The peculiar birth order of books

Lovely Bones and Almost Moon. Water For Elephants and Ape House. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons. The Historian and The Swan Thieves. The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

What do all of these sibling books have in common? They were wonderful breakthrough novels and the book that followed, struggled, and in some instances succeeded in escaping the enormous shadow cast by the previous book.

The follow-up that had the most success was Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which, interestingly enough, was originally woven in as part of The Kite Runner. A problem in the beginning that proved to be an incredible advantage? Perhaps.

With Song of Willow Frost I tried to give my second book its own time in the spotlight. But is that even fundamentally possible? Or will Willow Frost always be the Jan Brady of my books because of its unfavorable birth order? I'm still waiting to figure it all out. Occasionally I get an email from a reader who loved SONGS but hasn't read HOTEL, so you never know. But more often it's the opposite.

And as I'm fortunate enough to be reading Garth Stein's new novel A Sudden Light (his follow up to his prodigious bestseller The Art of Racing in the Rain) I'm struggling not to compare the two. His new book is utterly captivating. In fact, I'm eager to finish this post so I can get back to the book.

But when I close that final page, will I be able to forget Enzo? We'll see...