Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Freebie: Best of Books by the Bed by Cheryl & Eric Olsen and We Wanted to Be Writers by Eric Olsen & Glenn Schaeffer

Congratulations to Will Evans, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: American Dream Machine by Matthew Specktor and The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.

This week's book giveaway is for those of you who haven't been able to get enough of year-end list-o-mania.  Best of Books by the Bed #1 edited by Cheryl and Eric Olsen, is subtitled "What Writers Are Reading Before Lights Out" and it is guaranteed to add heaps of books to your wishlists or maybe it will prompt you to go to your own shelves and pull out half-forgotten books (to be read immediately or added to the always-towering TBR pile).  Based on the popular Books by the Bed blog, this handy guide provides a happy overload of reading recommendations from bookworms with exquisite good taste.  I had a chance to review the book earlier this year and offered this blurb to the editors (repeating it here because I think it sums up my feelings about the book):
Remember those nights when you use to read books under the bedcovers by flashlight after "lights out"? And remember that feeling like warm syrup spreading through your chest when you found a book you truly loved and couldn't wait to tell others about it in the morning? Books by the Bed re-kindles that happy glow of biblio-love through its lists of well-read books enthusiastically endorsed by readers and writers. Reading Books by the Bed is like being able to crawl under the covers with fellow book lovers and come away with a whole stack of new reading material. Flashlights not included.
The contributions from readers is warm and generous throughout.  And besides, it's always fun to peek at someone else's bookshelves, isn't it?  Here, for instance, is book reviewer Harvey Freedenberg listing the books which are within easy reach from his bed:
Ever since I began reviewing in 2005, my bedside table has become the resting place for an ever shifting array of titles that remind me of the deadline-driven reading that lies ahead in the next few weeks. Right now that space is occupied by Canada, the new novel from one of my favorite writers, Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford, commentator E. J. Dionne’s Our Divided Political Heart, an analysis of our pervasive political gridlock, What Happened to Sophie Wilder, a novel by Christopher Beha, and new essay collections from two very smart people—Marilynne Robinson and Jonathan Franzen. I’m saddened to report that worthy volumes of short stories by Deborah Eisenberg, Max Apple and George Saunders have been relegated to a second stack, along with T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and the slim book, Slow Reading, by John Miedema, which seems like a rebuke to the whole notion of a TBR pile.
One more thing: the trim, slim Best of Books by the Bed #1 is perfectly-sized to fit inside a Christmas stocking.  I'm just sayin'....

Along with Best of Books by the Bed #1, you have a chance to win the book which started the website where you'll find BYTB blog posts: We Wanted to Be Writers, by Eric Olsen and Glenn Schaeffer.  Subtitled "Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop" it's the kind of book that's catnip to authors.  Everyone loves to read other writers writing about writing, don't they?  Or is that just me?  Here's more about the book from the publisher:
We Wanted to be Writers is a rollicking and insightful blend of original interviews, commentary, advice, gossip, anecdotes, analyses, history, and asides with nearly thirty graduates and teachers at the now legendary Iowa Writers' Workshop between 1974 and 1978. Among the talents that emerged in those years--writing, criticizing, drinking, and debating in the classrooms and barrooms of Iowa City--were the younger versions of writers who became John Irving, Jane Smiley, T. C. Boyle, Michelle Huneven, Allan Gurganus, Sandra Cisneros, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jennie Fields, Joy Harjo, Joe Haldeman, and many others. It is chock full of insights and a treasure trove of inspiration for all writers, readers, history lovers, and anyone who ever "wanted to be a writer." Jane Smiley on the Iowa writers' workshop: "In that period, the teachers tended to be men of a certain age, with the idea that competition was somehow the key-the Norman Mailer period. The story was that if you disagreed with Norman, or gave him a bad review, he'd punch you in the nose. You were supposed to get in fights in restaurants." T.C. Boyle on his short story "Drowning": "I got $25 for it, which was wonderful . . . You know, getting $25 for the product of your own brain? You could buy a lot of beer in Iowa City back then for that."

If you’d like a chance at winning both Best of Books By the Bed #1 and We Wanted to be Writers, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Dec. 26, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Dec. 27.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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