When Books Fly: Lessons from Lessmore

One of the most creative, and inspiring short films I have ever seen is “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.”  I’ve seen teenagers cry and toddlers mesmerized when watching this fifteen-minute film.  Adults barely contain their sense of wonder.

There are so many messages from this short film to consider.  If I were an English professor, I would assign this film as an essay question just to see what students would write.  What makes it so powerful is not only the emotion it evokes, but also the different lessons everyone takes away.

Here are a few:

Shifting Gears: Ann Patchett from Writing to Selling

Avid readers know the name Ann Patchett.  Her work—from Bel Canto to State of Wonder as well as many other books—has won numerous accolades and awards, and she regularly tops the New York Times bestseller list.

When Nashville recently lost its bookstores, Ann decided to do something about it.  She opened Parnassus Books, an independent store, with partner Karen Hayes.  I was there for its grand opening and watched the crowds swarm in to celebrate the return of a local bookstore.   The excitement over Parnassus quickly spread beyond the city’s borders—in fact, a bestselling author opening a bookstore landed Ann not on the book page, but on the front page, of the New York Times.

Ann recently gave an inspiring keynote address for booksellers in New Orleans.  I sat down with her to talk about her success as a writer and her new career as a bookseller.

Ree Drummond: A Pioneer in Every Sense of the Word

Photo courtesy Ree Drummond

Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s list of accomplishments is long and impressive: hugely popular blogger and winner of the Weblog of the Year Award in 2009 and 2010, New York Times bestselling author, Food Network star, one of Forbes’ Top 25 Web Celebrities—and to think it all began several years ago when she decided to start a blog to keep her mother updated on family and life.

She has a new cookbook—her second called The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier—coming March 13.  I recently asked her questions ranging from her recipe taste testing to the phenomenal success of her blog.

The Magical World of Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern debuted as an author last year with a most creative book, The Night Circus (it’s also one of my favorite book covers of 2011).  In addition to receiving numerous rave reviews, the book was recently awarded the Alex Award by the ALA, which is given to the top ten adult books that also appeal to young adults.

As I talked with Erin about her achievement, I was struck by three success themes:

How Many Vlogging, Nerdfighting, Bestsellering Authors Do You Know?

Only a few weeks ago, I knew very little about John Green.  I was told he was a huge Vlogger, but that didn’t help since I had never heard of that either.  Vlogging, it turns out, is video blogging.  John Green and his brother, Hank, run an unbelievably popular video blog with over seven million views per month!  Years ago, they decided to give up all textual communications and launched a video conversation that soon went viral.  They also have an entire community of “Nerdfighters,” dedicated to fighting what they call “world suck” (apparently anything in the world that is the opposite of awesomeness.)