Job Title: VP of Book Buying & Promotions
On your nightstand now: Too many books to list here (seriously, it’s out of control).
Favorite book when I was a child: 1 book? I was not a 1 book child…When I was really little, I coveted these 2 oversize Golden Books at the bookstore near my house: Whales and Dinosaurs. When I finally got them, I read them cover to cover and tortured my family with repeated recitations. Artie and the Princess by Marjorie Torrey was a favorite title that I could read only when visiting my grandparents. It became a valued heirloom throughout our extended family. Marguerite Henry, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin, and Judy Blume all played important roles in my reading life.
My top five authors: This is impossible. William Faulkner, Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Sy Montgomery, Ursula LeGuin. I could go on for pages.
Book I’ve faked reading: Way too many of the assignments in my AP English class. I can’t remember what they all were now, and I must have been a good faker because my grades were good. But, I recall lots of guessing at answers from the context of discussions, and skimming paragraphs in class. Oops!
Book I am an evangelist for: That depends on the day you ask me. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of working at Hudson. There are so many fabulous books out there that deserve a bigger readership. Right this minute, I am keen on spreading the word about The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Book you’ve bought for the cover: Possession by A.S. Byatt. Ok I am dating myself, but I remember this cover really stood out in the bookstore when it came out in hardcover. And I loved the book too!
Book that changed my life: In the American Grain by William Carlos Williams. I read this as part of a college seminar, which has to be one of the best ways to read any book: presented in context and explored through discussion. It was a revelation in its beautiful, unclassifiable nature, a trait that describes many of my favorite books. It is poetry, history, novel, and remarkably evocative of the author and his time and place.
Book I most want to read again for the first time: Jane Eyre
Book I’d take with me to a desert island: Moby Dick
Song that has played the most on my MP3 player: This is really hard too. I have almost as much music as books. Ok I’m too lazy to look up the answer, but I think it might be a Ben Harper song.
Best way to spend a weekend: Riding horses with my daughter, playing music with my husband, sitting on the beach watching dolphins. Yes – all in one week-end. I’m a little crazy that way.
Favorite vacation destination: Hawaii
Window or Aisle: Aisle. Don’t fence me in!
What is the first giveaway that a book is going to be good: It doesn’t feel like anything I have read before.
Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book: maybe it’s the phrasing of the question, but the first one that comes to mind is Adaptation, from The Orchid Thief.
Sara's Recent Reviews
The Rabbit Hutch is an awfully hard novel to simply and adequately describe. It covers a lot of territory, from climate change to capitalism, social media to power dynamics. But mostly it is about Blandine, who is “not everything. Not exactly. She’s just the opposite of nothing,” a bold and brilliant eighteen year old, a martyr, a mystic, a girl. It is about endless connections and the limitations of those connections, as the story radiates outwards from Blandine to her fellow building residents, her town, beyond, and then back again to answer: What happened in apartment C4 on that morning in July? This is an artful, compelling, and thought-provoking novel.
I love this book. It is just so beautiful. It is unique, entertaining, smart and thoughtful. A talented young man in 18th century India is recruited to help craft a tiger automaton for the Sultan. What follows plays out across decades, continents and even at sea, a grand and ambitious stage that James somehow meaningfully compacts into less than 300 compulsively readable pages, gloriously illustrating the inanities and cruelties of colonialism, prejudice and globalization while still celebrating the invaluable outcomes of societal and personal collaboration such as art and science, or love and life. Loot vibrates with the same indomitable spirit and creativity of its main character, Abbas, and delivers a novel that is easily as spectacular as his tiger.
Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia is short, smart, provocative and fun. It’s an intellectual feat of revisionist history and detective work, making a persuasive argument about 18th Century Madagascar that challenges our assumptions about pirates, the Enlightenment, “Western”-centric thinking, and potential societal structures. It’s an exploration that gleefully reinforces the idea that history is fluid, wildly subjective, and that we do well to intelligently question the stories we inherit.
I loved Fiona Macfarlane’s last novel, The Night Guest, and this one even more so. Her writing has a weightless beauty, with a spirit that feels generous, pragmatic and hopeful all at once. She has a lovely way of subtly invoking and questioning the ineffable forces that act upon us and which cause us to act in turn. The Sun Walks Down is a novel about a young boy, lost in the Australian Outback in a windstorm, and those who search for him. The stakes are high, and the pages fly but the drama is never overplayed, a restraint that paradoxically is more engaging, and leads us to extrapolate the wider significance of events. Featuring a large cast of intriguing characters, with dramas of their own, from indigenous trackers to artists, farmers and priests, The Sun Walks Down is, if you will forgive me, stellar.