Reading with... Matthew Baldacci

Matthew Baldacci has been the director of business development for Shelf Awareness since 2015. He is proud to say that, way back in 2005 when he was at St. Martin's Press, his team was one of the first to begin advertising with the newly created Shelf. His publishing career includes roles at S&S, S&S Kids, DK, Scholastic and, once very long ago, at the JK Lasser Tax Institute. Recently, he described working with such great authors and people as Jackie Collins, Michael Palmer and Stephen J. Cannell, and his lunch partner (that's you, Brandon Kelley) pointed out that his publishing autobiography will be titled All My Favorite Authors Are Dead. Baldacci lives in New Jersey with his family and Ella the dog. All four Baldacci children took part in multiple "Bring Your Kids to Work" days at publishing houses. None have said they wish to pursue a career in publishing.
 
On your nightstand now:
 
One cough drop, a lamp, some dust and a copy of Ben Stein's The Capitalist Code (it promised to make me rich). Do you want to know what's sitting around my house in various stages of reading? Anatomy of a Miracle and the new Dusti Bowling. I also just finished Tara Westover's Educated and want everyone to read it!
 
Favorite book when you were a child:
 
An easy one! Most Valuable Player by Richard Mullins: a high school baseball team goes to the state championships; the star players (one rich, one poor) struggle to discover real teamwork and earn the respect of the first baseman's sister, Jessie. Written and set in the early '60s, Mullins's book was a refuge, I can't describe it any better than that.
 
Your top five authors:
 
This is the question I always read with trepidation. Should I just name classics so no one gets offended? Top Five authors I've read in the past year? Authors who are really nice? Since you've left this so open, I'm going to list some authors whose books have had an impact on me: Gary Kinder, Kristin Hannah, the Stratemeyer Syndicate (the Hardy Boys series was a passion), Alan Weisman, John Hart and Nickolas Butler.
 
Now I'm wondering how those authors feel about being paired up with a writing factory. Ugh, this really is a difficult question.
 
Book you've faked reading:
 
Everything assigned in eighth grade advanced English. I think these were The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace (but it's entirely possible I did read this. Let's just say I did).
 
Book you're an evangelist for:
 
Right now? The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It's utterly, completely, original. Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap meets Agatha Christie. Yes. Truly.
 
Always? The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Penny gets in your head. You feel manipulated but in a really great way. A masterpiece whether or not you've read the other Inspector Gamache books.
 
Book you've bought for the cover:
 
When I was a teen, I picked up The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler at a beach house because of the cover. Cussler's writing did the rest. Mass market covers used to be awesome--I'd buy any of his early mass titles for the cover.
 
Book you hid from your parents:
 
I never had to hide books from my parents. I'm not sure if they were encouraging, or if it was just that I was the youngest child. That doesn't seem fair to them, so I'll go with Blanche Knott's Truly Tasteless Jokes. I'm sure they would not have approved.
 
Book that changed your life:
 
Have you been reading this? Most Valuable Player. Every book I've ever read has changed my life. One wasn't even a book yet. It was a proposal that we read but didn't offer on. The proposal had such a great idea, though, that St. Martin's president Sally Richardson and I both reached out to each other to tell the other one about it. This experience helped me discover the concept of spreading "good" gossip: instead of telling someone what another person did that was wrong or embarrassing, you tell someone about a great thing another person did. You could even tell the person yourself. It reminded me that we should all be kind.
 
Oh, also Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. An asteroid strikes Earth and sparks my enduring fascination with apocalyptic fiction.
 
Favorite line from a book:
 
From Sarah Vowell's Lafayette in the Somewhat United States:
"I could say something about how being buried near some French papist was probably making Calvinists like Winthrop and Cotton roll over in their grave, but I believe in science." Makes me laugh every. Damn. Time.
 
Five books you'll never part with:
 
How about seven? Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder, Most Valuable Player by Richard Mullins, From Winchester to Cedar Creek by Jeffry D. Wert, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, One for the Money (a galley!) by Janet Evanovich, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron, The Aquarius Mission by Martin Caidin... I could keep going....
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald and illustrated by Mercer Mayer. Lee Boudreaux agrees.
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