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Jan 31, 2017


On this episode we becomes best friends with Amy Stephenson, Events Director at Booksmith in San Francisco and co-creator/host of Shipwreck, a competitive literary erotic fan fiction live show.

This episode is sponsored by Books & Whatnot, the newsletter dedicated to books, bookselling, and bookish folk. We were too excited about hosting Books on the Nightstand to mention Books & Whatnot on air, but you should definitely check out the newsletter archive here. Follow Books & Whatnot on Twitter at @booksandwhatnot.



In Which We Discuss Sad Sociology Books and Amy’s Twitter Life Coach, and Furiously Take Notes On the Books We’re Recommending Each Other (but oh wait look, show notes!)

We’re drinking Manhattans—Amy’s go-to, “I’m fancy on a Friday night” drink—and making jokes about robotripping.


We’re Reading:

Amy is reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (and Kim & Emma are SO excited) and Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin.


Kim is reading Necessary Trouble by Sarah Jaffe, The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis, and The Revenge of Analog by David Sax—which is her favorite book of 2016.


Emma is reading My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (out from Fantagraphics Feb 14) and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. 


Also mentioned: Shirley Jackson’s memoir(ish) essay collections Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons and the new biography on Jackson, Shirley Jackson: a Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. She recommends all the Shirley Jackson book. Because Shirley Jackson is a #bosswitch


Emma’s favorite book of 2016 is Trainwreck by Sady Doyle. Amy’s is Evicted by Matthew Desmond (paperback out Feb 28). If Kim were allowed to pick two favorites, her other favorite would be While the City Slept by Eli Sanders (paperback out Feb 7).

We’re Excited About:

Amy is looking forward to so many books in 2017, but, when pressed, narrowed it down to these six:

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (out March 7)

All the Lives I Want: Essays about My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey (out Feb 7)

Alana Massey is Amy’s “Twitter life coach,” so you should probably follow her too: @alanamassey

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn (out April 11)

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki (out May 9)

And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz (out May 2) 

Dana Schwartz is also the creator of Guy In Your MFA. Amy says, “She’s so talented it makes me angry.”


Emma is excited about

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (out Feb 14)

Seriously. Read this book. It’s his debut novel and it’s amazing. Or listen to the record-breaking audiobook.

What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump's America edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians 

shout out to Melville House for putting this out with a quickness.

Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller

the cover is done by the amazing painter Lee Price.


And Kim is looking forward to The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker because she’s pretty sure it’s queer.


Chapter I [19:50]

In Which We Discuss How Kids Book Authors Write The Best Erotic Fan Fic, Dick Jokes, and Shipwreck in Seattle

Amy works at Booksmith in San Francisco, California. She is their Events Director, does all their social media, and is their de facto HR dept. Because bookstores. 


Booksmith recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and they’re opening a new store called The Bindery—a sort of wine bar/living room space/events annex—across the street.

Amy is also the co-creator and host of Shipwreck, “a competitive literary erotic fan fiction live show,” which began in June 2013 and runs once a month at Booksmith (and sometimes travels to Comic Cons). They record ALL the shows so you can enjoy crazy dick jokes from the comfort of your own headphones.


They were inspired by the competitive reading series Write Club, which also has  a podcast!

Shipwreck is such an amazing concept, that Grand Central Publishing wanted to collect the stories in a book: Fanfiction Parodies of Great (and Terrible) Literature from the Smutty Stage of Shipwreck edited by Amy Stephenson and Casey A. Childers


Hey, Seattleites, does this sound awesome? You too can enjoy live erotic fan fiction at Emerald City Comic Con this year on March 2nd.


The line-up includes: 

Seanan McGuire (whose most recent book is Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day and who wrote for the very first Shipwreck)
Peter Mountford (author of The Dismal Science)
Scott Westerfeld (who has a graphic novel called Spill Zone coming out May 2nd) 
Matt Fraction (who writes Sex Criminals, so you know his erotic fanfic will be excellent). 

They’ll be writing fan fiction for Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics. And their San Francisco performer, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, will be reading for both shows.

Buy tickets here. There will be two shows, one at 7pm and another at 9:30pm. BONUS: we, the Drunk Booksellers, will be there selling books and representing Elliott Bay Book Co.

Chapter II [40:00]

In Which We Reveal Bookseller Secrets and Are Super Supportive of Each Other

The book description guaranteed to get Amy reading is: “strong female character written by a women involved in a murder somehow and you won’t believe the twist… bathtub gin reading.”

If you need a gateway mystery, Amy recommends Tana French, specifically The Likeness.


Her desert island pick is The Comedians by Graham Greene because she already reads it every year.

Her Station Eleven pick (aka the world is falling apart, which it kind of is) is Erich Fromm: The Sane Society (NOTE: this is still in print, despite what we say in the episode) and On Disobedience by Eric Fromm


Her Wild pick: something Didion “because Didion teaches you how to see the world.” 

Bonus bookseller confession: neither Kim or Emma have read Didion. So where do you start with Didion?

Amy’s bookseller confession: she can’t get into Ferrante

Go to handsells:

The book Amy wants to champion to other booksellers: Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Griffin, which she describes as “a modern, feminist telling of Frankenstein, sort of”


Chapter III [50:40]

In Which Our List of Bookstores to Visit and Sites to Check Out Grows Almost As Long As Our List of Books to Read

Bookstore Crushes

Favorite Literary Media:


  • Book Riot—“I think they’re doing the lord’s work out there.”



Epilogue [56:39]

Amy can be found on the internet as @losertakesall​—a Graham Greene reference, in case you were curious.

You can also follow Shipwreck on Tumblr and Facebook. And keep up with ALL the hilarity and eroticism by subscribing to their podcast. Having a bad day? Listen to an old episode. Mood = instantly transformed.

You can find us on Twitter at @drunkbookseller and everywhere else as DrunkBooksellers (plural).

Emma tweets @thebibliot and writes bookish things for Book Riot.

Kim tweets occasionally from @finaleofseem, but don’t expect too much.