Summer Reading List

tim horvath, understories, book, author, writerWell, summer is right around the corner for us New Englanders. The warmer weather gets us outdoors into the parks, onto our brownstone stoops, and to the beaches. Hopefully, if you’re like me, you’ll be bringing a book with you.

Two years ago when I was knee-deep in writing Instant Connections, I was reading a lot of non-fiction books: Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, just to name a few.

This year, as I just started a new challenge––writing a historical fiction book, I’ve been reading and re-reading books in that genre to learn more about how authors tackle plot lines and building interesting and dynamic characters.

So, yeah, I’ve tackled all of Dan Brown’s books. They are easy to read and he tells a good story. William Martin is another favorite of mine. In the last year I have read his books Back Bay, The Lincoln Letter, and most recently Harvard Yard. His approach to writing gets you reading in the present day, in one chapter, and then in the next, you are reading about something that happened back in time.  The story volleys back and forth like this throughout the book.

As for me, I have finished some of the research for my new book and have about 10% of the writing started. For a historical fiction book, most average between 90-120,000 words, so I’ve got a ways to go.

In between my writing this summer, I have added these six books to my Summer Reading List:

The Ocean at The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Understories by Tim Horvath
Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
REMOTE by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
My Life in Heavy Metal by Steve Almond

The first two I’ve had on my shelf for a while, the third book is by a colleague of mine, the forth book I’ve started but need to pick back up, the fifth book I bought and will read because I liked their first book REWORK, and the last book I have also started but need to finish.

What are you reading?

A Game of Baseball

boston red sox, red sox, baseball, stephen sheffield, game of baseball

Red Sox montage by Stephen Sheffield

It’s a full count––three balls, two strikes. You try to remember everything your father told you: “Keep your eyes on the ball. Check your stance. Set your feet. Bend your knees. Get the bat off of your shoulder.” This stuff wasn’t too hard to remember since my dad regularly umpired my Little League games.

The bat was now cocked and ready to connect. It’s a fastball. You swing with all your might. At the crack of the bat, a deep fly ball goes to left field and over the fence. Home run!

That’s how it always happened in my dreams anyway. I never got to hit a home run in real life. If life were like a game of baseball, you would hope for a home run scenario every time. But in reality, there are some curveballs, knuckleballs, change-ups and quite possibly some spitballs thrown into the mix to make things more challenging. But challenges are part of the game, regardless of whether you’re playing t-ball, Little League, or the Majors. Challenges can also take you off-course, but don’t let them. They’re usually building blocks for something greater––something too fast to see when they’re coming at you at ninety miles an hour.

A Game of Baseball, from the book,
Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography by Jason Landry.

Instant Connections featured in Portsmouth Herald

Seacoast native makes ‘Instant Connections’

jason landry, instant connections, collector, book signing, nhaa, portsmouth herald

By Robert Levey
January 21, 2014 2:00 AM

PORTSMOUTH — Jason Landry, a 1991 Portsmouth High School graduate, will sign copies of his recently published book, “Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography,” on Feb. 7 at the New Hampshire Art Association Gallery.

Weaving essays, interviews, quotes and autobiographical stories around a central theme of photography, the book includes a wide range of secondary themes that include how to make connections and build one’s own personal network. It also features interviews with renowned artists such as Vik Muniz, Leonard Nimoy and Harold Feinstein, and quotes from various artists and collectors. Perhaps just as interesting as the book itself, however, is why Landry wrote it.

“When I was in college, there were a lot of critical theory books on photography that I was forced to read,” he said. “I decided to write a book that was anti-critical theory —— a book that shares real stories of a photographer, photography collector and gallery owner.”

Noting that it goes against every book on the subject he has ever read, he said he also wanted to write something that addresses the business end of art.

“Many art colleges don’t teach artists how to market and sell what they create,” he said. “They don’t teach them about building and creating an art network of peers to help them connect to the world, or how to go about creating their personal brand. You could be the greatest artist, but without some of these business skills, you will struggle to go anywhere in the art world.”

As for how Landry has made it in the art world — he is the owner and director of Panopticon Gallery in Boston — he said he was fortunate enough to work in business before earning his art degrees. He said he also received some help along the way.

“Once I left that career behind to walk the path of an artist, I had mentors who guided me down the right paths in order to avoid pitfalls,” said Landry, who noted all of these mentors appear in his book. “Without them, I don’t know if I would have stuck with it.”

In reflecting on what led him to initially develop an interest in photography, he cited his first photography class at Portsmouth High School. From that point on, he said, he was in “hook, line and sinker.”

“I always gravitated toward the arts, but when I was able to develop and print my own images in the darkroom, it was the first time that I felt in control of an art medium,” he said. “I never really felt in control or comfortable with what I drew to what I painted.”

Drawing inspiration from that class, he said his earliest photographs were of Portsmouth and Greenland, as he captured images related to the landscape, apple orchards and friends. He said his most memorable work from his high school days, though, was a black and white photograph he took of “a perfectly planted row of pine trees” in his back yard.

“It was the second image on the first roll of black and white film that I ever developed,” he said. “I have that photograph framed and hanging in my living room amongst my collection.”

In electing to donate 50 percent of all book sales to the NHAA during the reception and book-signing event next month, Landry said it is important he maintain roots in a town that still means a great deal to him.

“My wife and I like to give back, especially to art organizations that we feel are doing great things for their community,” he said. “I know firsthand how hard it is to manage, especially in a economy that hasn’t been so friendly to us over the past couple of years. … It’s great to have an organization like this in Portsmouth and a gallery space that has been around for a while.”

The book-signing event is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at NHAA’s Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery, 136 State St. For information about NHAA, call 431-4230 or e-mail To learn more about Landry or Panopticon Gallery, call (617) 267-8929 or e-mail at

From the Interview with Vik Muniz

“The great challenge is how to make smart, intelligent art that can speak to everybody.” ~Vik Muniz

This quotes comes from the interview that I did with Vik Muniz when he visited Boston a few years back.  It appears in my book Instant Connections. He is one of my favorite contemporary artists. The image below is an original Polaroid 20×24 of Freud’s profile in Ham by Vik Muniz. It is in our personal collection.

vik muniz, artist, photographer, freud

The Boston Globe and Instant Connections

“Jason Landry…an irreverent and irrepressible presence.”

I’m grateful to Jan Gardner and The Boston Globe for featuring my book Instant Connections in their Sunday edition. Someone told me that they almost never review books that are ‘indie’ or ‘self-published’.  Well, for those authors out there that were worried about that……..things are looking up!

boston globe, instant connections, jason landry, book, book review

What will 2014 bring?

jason landry, author, writer, collector“Opportunities will come at the unlikeliest of times. Sometimes they’re because of instant connections.” ~ Jason Landry


The biggest event for me in 2013 was getting my book published. I’m sure you probably figured that out by now. What will 2014 bring? I am not going to bore you with any New Year’s resolutions, rather, I’m going to tell you a few things that I will be doing for certain:

1.) I will be cooking more. Late in 2013, I got the cooking bug. I never really cooked much in our house. Either my wife cooked, or we’d go out. Okay, I would cook pasta once in a while––that’s not that hard. I’m also a master at making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. What I’m talking about is cooking real meals, ya’ll––and desserts too! We just purchased a whole new set of pans and I’m ready to get my chef on! If any of you have any recipe suggestions or good mobile app suggestions to find the best recipes, let me know.

2.) I will be spending more of my time helping others make connections. This is one thing that I learned from the people who have mentored me. They gave me direction over the last couple of years and helped me create the network that I currently have. I wrote about these mentors in my book Instant Connections ––it’s now my turn to give back. It’s not like I haven’t given back. It’s just in 2014, I’m really going to give back. This is something that makes me feel good.

3.) I will begin to write a new book. I have a few ideas brewing, but nothing that I can share with you at this time.

I hope that you all have a great New Year.
Try new things.
Set some achievable goals.
Meet some new people.
Shake some hands.
Break some rules.
Read Books.
Give back.

That’s all.