What It Is To Be A Good American

Alex George’s A Good American is a book you may not have heard of yet.  If not, you undoubtedly will.  It is a spectacularly written novel receiving rave reviews, and it continues to pick up steam.  In recent weeks, the book has been named:

  • #1 Pick for Indie Next List, February 2012.
  • Amazon “Best Books of the Month” List February 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, Spring 2012
  • Barnes & Noble Top Staff Pick for Fiction, February 2012
  • Midwest Connection Pick, February 2012
  • #1 “Title to Pick Up Now” for O Magazine, February 2012

Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis Achieves the “Impossible”

Breaking Records

Regular readers of this blog know that I love to study how and why people are able to overcome obstacles and achieve success.  I recently had the opportunity to meet Jennifer Pharr Davis, who is the record holder for traversing the Appalachian Trail.  She hiked the Trail’s 2,175 miles in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, becoming the first woman to hold the record.

Nothing Can Stop A Determined Mind

The list of obstacles she faced on her journey include physical and mental obstacles:

  • She was struck by lightning.
  • Her eyes were frozen shut.
  • She faced everything from insects to wildlife like bears and rattlesnakes.
  • Critics said a woman couldn’t hold the record.  A hiker couldn’t best a runner.

Delivering Happiness — At Zappos and Beyond

I recently visited Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas.  Sitting in his condo in a room lined with hundreds of plants and overlooking the Vegas skyline, we talked about his success and what’s next for Zappos.

Zappos.com is an online retailer with a specialty in shoes.  It has branched out into other clothing lines in recent years.  It is known for its exceptional customer service.

A Very Different Company

Zappos is different in many ways.  Here are three:

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.

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: