Zest Weekly Roundup

ZestWeeklyRoundupFrom the new David Foster Wallace biopic to LEGO¬†literature, DigiTours to coffee spill masterpieces, here are this week’s must-see links!¬†

If you don’t know Brain Pickings, a great introduction would be Maria’s feature on Amelia Earhart, specifically on Amelia’s¬†letter to her little¬†sis on sticking up for herself.

Your favorite books as LEGOs! Why is it books and legos seem to go so well together?

Mental_Floss explains how A Wrinkle in Time changed the sci-fi genre. #plotted

Flavorwire reviews the new David Foster Wallace biopic.

Friendship bracelets are back in style. Which is great for many reasons, not least of which is that August 2 is International Friendship Day. #friends&frenemies

Teen¬†Vine and YouTube sensations¬†tour the¬†country like any other pop stars, except there’s less singing and a lot more selfies: the DigiTour.

Popular authors take to Twitter to share things you shouldn’t say to writers.

This artist transforms coffee spills into works of art. The results are startling, and beautiful.

And in our small corner of the web:

photoIn late August‚ÄĒjust in time for back to school‚ÄĒwe’re releasing a book called¬†Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward. Middle¬†School friendships can be a source of great joy one day, then pain and anxiety the next. This book by Jen Castle and Deborah Reber¬†examines the complexities of friendship and helps readers start building communication tools that will last a lifetime. Zest sat down with Jen to talk about just their new book: jump here for the interview.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week!

Friend . . . or Frenemy?


In middle school we start¬†developing¬†what becomes one of the most crucial skills we’ll gain in life: communication. That’s where Jennifer Castle and Deborah Reber come in. They’ve written a book vital to tweens and early teenagers:¬†Friends and Frenemies¬†is a back-to-school must-have that examines¬†the complexities of friendship and helps readers start building communication skills that literally last a lifetime. Zest recently sat down with Jen Castle to talk about the good, the bad, and the awkward of making friends.¬†

Zest: What inspired you to write this book?

Jen: I spent many years producing “It’s My Life,” the PBS Kids website that covers “life skills issues” for tweens. One of my favorite elements of the site was something we called “You Said It.” Every few weeks, we’d put up a new question and invite kids to send in their responses for us to post on the page. We’d ask things like, “What’s the coolest thing your Mom’s ever done?” or “Do you feel like you fit in at school?” The most popular “You Said It” questions were always the ones about friendship. “How do you make new friends?” “What do you like most about your BFF?” “Have you ever felt like your friends were ignoring you?” “What types of things do you and your friends fight about?” Often, these pages were filled with kids not just sharing their experiences, but also asking for help and offering advice. It was proof to me that everyone’s confused about how to navigate the stormy waters of friendship‚ÄĒit’s an area that can bring you great joy and fun and support, but also terrible pain and turmoil. We can weather a lot in life if we have strong friendships to rely on, and creating a guide for tweens with practical, real-world advice on how to create those friendships seemed like something that would help a lot of people. (Also, during the process of researching and writing, Deborah and I learned a lot about how to handle grown-up friendship troubles‚ÄĒit’s true, you never truly outgrow them!)

Zest: Why do you think friendship troubles are so prevalent during the middle school years?

Jen: Middle school is pretty much the sweet spot for everything that’s raw and confusing about growing up.¬†School itself is more high-pressure, both socially and academically.¬†Your mind and body are changing at warp speed and at the same time, so is everyone else’s around you. (Yikes!) You’re feeling not-so-fun things like insecurity and anxiety at a much more intense level than before. With all that going on, it’s easy to let emotions and impulses control your interactions with friends, while positive forces like communication and openness suddenly seem more challenging and risky. The whole mix is a recipe for disaster!

Zest: What’s your favorite piece of advice from the book?

Jen: The recurring theme in the book is COMMUNICATION. If you can communicate honestly and positively with the people you care about, you’ve mastered the hardest part of friendship. So I think the most useful advice we offer is the “I-Messages.” It’s something I use myself! We’re often eager to assign blame when we’re in conflict with another person: “you did this so I did that!” “If you hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have gotten mad!” It might feel good to say that stuff, but it’s not likely to get the result we want. “I-Messages” (which use the template of “I feel BLANK when you BLANK because BLANK) force us to examine our emotions, then present them in an honest and positive way without making someone defensive. It helps you own your feelings. “I-Messages” take a bit of practice, but I really hope readers latch on to them and try them out in their own lives. It’s a communication tool that will really last a lifetime and come in handy in all sorts of situations.

Zest: What was the hardest chapter to write?photo

Jen: Hands down, the chapter “Opposite Sex Friendships.” We knew we wanted to address the topic, because it’s an important one. But it was also a tricky area, because it covers sensitive topics such as gender stereotypes and crushes. We wanted to make our advice practical and universal, and both of those were challenging. We also wanted to be inclusive and address the subject of same-sex friendships turning into crushes. In the end, I love the way we handled this chapter. Sometimes, simply acknowledging that a situation is painful and confusing, and calling attention to why it’s that way, is advice in and of itself.

Zest: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

Jen: I hope kids will read the book and think over and over again, “YES! I have experienced that! That sounds exactly like what I’m dealing with!” I hope they try the journal exercises and quizzes, too, so the book feels more interactive to them. I’d love for readers to keep this book on their desk or nightstand and refer to it whenever they need some reminders or specific help with something. And, of course, it’s my hope that parents, educators, and caregivers will also enjoy the book and engage in dialogue about it with the young people in their lives. Maybe, like me, they’ll find that the advice applies to them as well!

Friends and Frenemies releases on August 28,
but you can preorder a copy of this back-to-school must-have TODAY. 

Preorder Now!

Zest Weekly Roundup

ZestWeeklyRoundupA lot happened this week. From Obama’s new app that brings books to low-income homes¬†to insanely detailed maps of literature’s¬†road trips, these are the links you need to see.

So, without further¬†ado, Zest’s¬†weekly roundup of links:

Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. “How LGBT Assimilation is Hurting Our Community’s Most Vulnerable.”

Atlas Obscura maps out the most epic road trips from American literature. And in crazy detail. #plotted

Mental_Floss features 62 of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Book Riot lists feminist fiction for young adults.

The Obama Administration is making an app for low-income families that’ll provide them with free e-books: First Book.

Social media affects the mental health of college students, for better and worse says HuffPo.

Lena Dunham launches a e-newsletter in which there’s no such thing as too much information: Lenny.

Live stream all of Newport Folk Festival‘s¬†concerts this weekend.

And in our small corner of the web:


Property of Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham holds our Alice + Freda Forever, says¬†she’s “digging it” because of its gorgeous cover¬†and “you can never go wrong with some fiction about a renegade woman!”

And in other bookish news, Mental_Floss features more of our maps from Plotted.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week!

Zest Weekly Roundup

ZestWeeklyRoundupThis week the¬†book world¬†was pretty consumed with Harper Lee’s new novel. We’ve consolidated some reviews of Go Set a Watchman¬†from around the web,¬†but you’ll also find Star Wars bookends, coloring books for adults, and more below.

So, without further¬†ado, Zest’s¬†weekly roundup of links:

The New Yorker gets it: adults love coloring books too.

Slate profiles one of the most interesting YA authors of all time: the original ghostwriter behind Nancy Drew.

A NYU student launched a campaign, #BetterSexTalk, to¬†call attention to sex shaming and bullying. One of our own authors, Emily Lindin, is part of the same movement with her UnSlut Project. We’re publishing Emily’s real middle school diaries (with her modern-day reflections) this fall: UnSlut: A Diary and a Memoir.

Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham give advice for young writers over at Flavorwire.

Many have responded to the¬†Atticus Finch portrayed in Harper Lee’s sequel to Mockingbird,¬†Go Set a Watchman. Spoiler, he turns out to be a big racist. Is this a problem? NPR reflects.

For for an aggregated list of critics’ thoughts on Watchman, head over to Electric Literature.

Huffington Post busts nine common myths about college, from the freshman 15 to whether or not you’ll be working in a coffee shop when you graduate.

Book Riot¬†has some pretty sweet bookends for your kids’ rooms (or your own office). Spoiler: there are legos.

And in our small corner of the web:

UnSlut1Read an excerpt from UnSlut by Emily Lindin and watch a video about The UnSlut Project.

“I started The UnSlut Project by blogging my own diary entries from when I had been sexually bullied in middle school so the girls who are currently suffering would know they weren’t alone.”

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week!

Define Slut

There’s no¬†denying the¬†imbalance and misuse of power¬†in our¬†culture of sexual bullying and harassment. The manifestations may vary depending on environment (e.g., a college dorm or the TV set of a wildly popular early 90s family sitcom), but the repercussions for the victims are always the same, always devastating.

Ask any woman and chances are she can not only list all the times she’s experienced unwanted comments, touching, aggression, bullying, or¬†worse, but she can probably tell you how young she was when she first¬†encountered said experiences. She was probably very young.

Here at Zest, though we like to keep readers apprised of forthcoming books, we usually keep most of the work under wraps until we get closer to publication date. There’s a few reasons for that;¬†one is to¬†accommodate for any last minute changes. However, due to the timeliness and urgency of this issue, we want to introduce you all to Emily Lindin, founder of The UnSlut Project and author of our December release, UnSlut.

When Emily was eleven¬†she was branded a slut by her classmates, a reputation that followed her¬†for years, that broke her sense of self worth and led her almost to suicide.¬†Zest is honored to publish Emily’s¬†heartbreaking and revealing diaries from that time in her life, alongside her present-day reflections.

UnSlut1It’s unfortunate that it takes an eleven-year-old’s diary to prove both the ubiquity and¬†ruin wrought by shaming and bullying, but Emily’s voice is also one of strength, demanding our attention to an issue of critical importance.


UnSlut: A Diary and a Memoir
by Emily Lindin
Coming December 2015
Preorder Now!