Friday, October 28, 2011

My Biggest Book Nerd-Out

Over at Book Riot, we're running a book blogger appreciation contest. For all you bloggers, just write about your biggest book nerd moment and you'll be entered. Full details here. I'm not eligible (naturally), but I wanted to participate. So here's my non-entry entry.
On Christmas eve, 1997, I camped out for Toni Morrison. It was the publication day of Paradise, her first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in 1993, and the promised final installment in a trilogy beginning with Beloved and Jazz.

So it was a major release by a major writer, but it was also a rite of passage for me. About six weeks earlier, I had decided to change majors, from pre-med to English. For me this was more than a change in required courses or even career path, it was an acknowledgement of who I was and who I wanted to be.
I was a book person and wanted to spend my life in books. 
So I went down to my local Borders (now gone like all the rest), and waited for the doors to open at 7am. There was a crowd of holiday shoppers there, but as I zipped to the new hardcover section, no one followed; I was the only there for Paradise. For some reason, I thought there would be others. 
I was disappointed. This was no opening weekend of a blockbuster movie or first day of the baseball season. It was just me. 
But then I looked around and saw the frantic, last-minute shopping around me. It wasn’t that these people weren’t interested in books; they were buying them by the armful. But they didn't care about them as I did, didn’t live for them as I did (and still do.) And that made me feel good about me. 
I couldn’t start reading Paradise that day; the holiday hustle was in full swing. But the afternoon of Christmas day, familial cheer activities fully discharged, I took my gifts up to my room, piled them in the corner, and shut the door. Then, for the next nine hours, I read. 
And I haven’t stopped.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Well, Book Riot survived it's first week. For those of you who haven't checked it out yet, can I interest you in a run-down of what we wrote about last week?
Sometimes, you just need a handbag made out of dictionaries.

I like cheap books almost as much as I like sports novels.

I'm a lit snob, so I'm going to try these YA books. Apparently, there's a lot you can learn from that stuff.

Snooki wrote an embarrassingly bad novel (and has a deal for her next one), but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy real books and the Jersey Shore at the same time.

A lot of people "like" books on Facebook, but some people like books about plucky lady journos better.
A book can be an ideal travel companion, that is unless you can't stand it and chuck it.

People can't seem to leave perfectly good books alone. They are either needlessly modernizing them ormaking terrible movies out of them.

There are a lot of books about hapless white dudes out there. Which is exactly how I would not describe Toni Morrison.

A lot of people put money on who would win the Nobel Prize. Though the announcement day favorite didn't win, there's a good case to be made that Bob Dylan should have.

And if you want to share any of these posts, you can retweet them without fear of reprisal from the language police.
Thanks to all of you that have taken a look; as for the rest, give us a shot, won't you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Announcing My New Blog Project: Book Riot

You may have noticed that things have slowed down here at The Ape of late. And there's a reason for that: for the past few months I've been hard at work on a new blog project that is launching today: Book Riot.

Some of you may have seen mention of it floating around (especially on Twitter), but let me tell you a little about it. Book Riot is a book news and commentary site that slots somewhere between your higher quality book blog and a mass market site like The Huffington Post (but, you know, good). The goal is to write about books in the accessible, entertaining way that bloggers do but with the goal of breaking through the blogosphere bubble by being a little more professional and a little more consistent. Our target audience is someone who likes to read, but wouldn’t read an individual book blog (probably there is someone in your life who does like to read, but isn’t a nut about it like us).

As for my role, well, I'm co-founder (along with my friend and business partner Clint) and will be serving as Editor-in-Chief. In short, I'll be doing a bunch of writing (considerably more than I ever did here), recruiting writers and bloggers (more on this below), and working with our writers to do entertaining, educational, and otherwise engaging writing about books and reading.

So far, we have a stable of thirteen writers, many of whom are bloggers that I've met through doing this humble little blog (Rachel from A Home Between Pages, Greg from The New Dork Review of Books, Amanda from Dead White Guys are all writing and all have been regular commenters here).

In the coming weeks, we are going to be looking for more contributors and I hope some of you will consider joining us. I'll post more about that when we are ready for more, but one of Book Riot's goals is to bring the best of what book bloggers do to a wider audience.

The Reading Ape will still be around, though likely in his current leisurely pace. I do hope you will check out Book Riot---if we do it right, I think it'll become a regular stop on your internet route.

Thanks so much for reading here; my experience writing The Ape led directly to this new venture, and I hope you'll come along as well.

Many thanks,

Jeff O'Neal