Guest Post – Emily Simonson (Class of 2017)

January 3rd, 2018 § 0

Just before Thanksgiving, I got a job offer. Starting next week, I’ll be the publishing assistant at Simon and Schuster. I’ll be working most of the time for the publisher, Jonathan Karp, and the rest for a senior editor, Sean Manning. I had such a great experience interviewing there (part of their process is to have you compile a list of contemporary books you wish you’d had a part in publishing) and was largely chosen based off my list. I attached it, in case you’d be interested to see what I came up with.

I’m very excited for the position. Simon and Schuster publishes a mix of fiction and nonfiction (they’re the original publisher of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, but more recently Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and Hillary Clinton’s What Happened), but I was chosen for my interest in fiction.

It’s been an interesting first few weeks with the holidays, not to mention HRC and her staff paid a visit to the office last week. Books were signed! Retired secret service crowded the halls! I even gave a book recommendation to Huma Abedin (apparently she’s quite the reader).

Ten Books – Emily Simonson

  1. ON TRAILS by Robert Moor (Simon and Schuster) – At the risk of seeming like I’m appealing to imprint pride, ON TRAILS tops my list of books I wish I had worked on. This book originally spoke to me because it’s about the outdoors, a nebulous entity I find endlessly fascinating, but more importantly because it’s a book about movement. Specifically, about what we choose to pursue and why. Moving across the country is a definitive type of movement, and this book was a comfort as I charted my course.
  2. LIMBER by Angela Pelster (Sarabande Books) – LIMBER is a collection of essays about trees, but really a collection of essays about what trees reveal about human life. Pelster reminds me of Annie Dillard, in both her appreciation of the natural world and her simultaneous irreverence of it.
  3. POND by Claire-Louise Bennett (Riverhead) – I loved this book so much that it formed the basis of my senior thesis. A loose collection of sketches about one woman’s life on the coast of Ireland, POND challenged my conceptions of formal writing and of female solitude. I’ve never read anything else quite like it, and for that reason alone I would have loved to publish it.
  4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown) – I grew up in Washington state, where Sherman Alexie is a point of local pride. This memoir captures the complex, contradictory relationship Alexie had with his mother and is abundant in every way; it made me think about my own mother, about what it means to tell the truth, how family dynamics both uphold and confine us, and what it means to love someone in words if not necessarily in actions.
  5. THE SPINNING HEART by Donal Ryan (Steerforth) – I wish I had been the one to discover Donal Ryan, but I console myself by reading him. Since THE SPINNING HEART was published in 2012, he’s written two other novels and one collection of short stories, though to call this book a novel is to underestimate how it manages to be both succinct and comprehensive as it tells the story of a town devastated by the Irish economic collapse of 2008.
  6. SIX OF CROWS and CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt) – Leigh Bardugo’s first collection came out when I was a teenager and, years later, I continue to pick up her books. I would love to work with her because she’s one of the most solid writers I’ve ever encountered, due to her formal training as a screenwriter. This duology has drawn comparisons to Ocean’s Eleven and other famous heist movies, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a movie deal in the next few years.
  7. WHITE TEARS by Hari Kunzru (Knopf) – This book was a pleasure to read and a terror when seriously considered. I agree with Publisher’s Weekly that it’s one of the best books of the year.
  8. THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS by Karan Mahajan (Viking) – I grew up in an era where terrorism was a part of my vocabulary from a very young age, as is the case for many young people in other parts of the world. Mahajan starts with the detonation of a small bomb in a New Delhi market, and expands to consider each person affected by a terrorist attack: the bombmaker, the parents of two dead children, and the child who survives. This unique and humanizing perspective provided a much-needed balance to the narratives of terrorism I’ve heard thus far. Also, it would be personally satisfying to work on a book that was shortlisted for the National Book Award.
  9. BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau) – I have BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME on audiobook, and sometimes I turn it on just to hear Coates’ commanding and convicting voice. I think that this book came out at a pivotal time in our country’s history, and I look forward to reading Coates for years to come.
  10. TENDER by Belinda McKeon (Lee Boudreaux) – I’m fascinated by books that use language to craft a specific voice, and in this case McKeon perfectly executes the voice of a young, insecure college student trapped in her own mind. The writing feels claustrophobic and intimately uncanny, like McKeon was somehow writing my thoughts, instead of me reading hers. I would love to work on a book with such intentional writing — and such a beautiful cover.

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