EarlyWord

News for Collection Development and Readers Advisory Librarians

Holds Alert: The Mirror Thief

9781612195148_5ff48Rising on Amazon on the strength of coverage in the NYT’s Sunday Book Review and NPR is The Mirror Thief, Martin Seay (Melville House; OverDrive Sample).

The reviews lavish it with praise. The NYT reviewer, the author Scarlett Thomas, says she “had been planning my glowing review since around Page 150” and that it is “audaciously well written.”

NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, says it is a “thrilling dynamo of a novel [by] a tremendous writer … a startling, beautiful gem of a book that at times approaches a masterpiece.”

What is it about? Neither reviewer wants to say, as too much detail gives away the book’s pleasures and it is a hard book to write about, but Thomas calls it “mystical literary fiction with a hard edge” and offers:

“How could I express that while this novel seems on the surface to be a bit like Cloud Atlas (multiple perspectives, Russian doll structure), it’s more heartfelt, deeper, less of a pastiche? I thought I might describe it as Stone Junction rewritten by David Foster Wallace or Thomas Pynchon with a big twist of William Gibson, Susanna Clarke and Italo Calvino. But I wasn’t sure that would cover it.”

Schaub says it evokes comparisons to Umberto Eco, Saul Bellow, and James Ellroy.

Both agree it is a mesmerizing reading experience. Thomas calling it “demanding, frustrating and oddly enlightening … not The Da Vinci Code for intellectuals. It’s more like Howl translated into Latin and then back again. Over 600 pages. It’s amazing … How this book got published is a complete mystery to me. Not because it is not good enough, but rather because it is too good.”

Schaub says the novel “is as difficult to explain as it is completely original. It’s one of the most intricately plotted novels in recent years, and to call it imaginative seems like a massive understatement. The three stories are as different from each other as can be, and the fact that Seay weaves them together so skillfully is almost miraculous.”

It is also an Indie Next pick for May, with an equally glowing annotation:

“Three stories are linked in this outstanding debut by criminal pursuits and Venice — not so much the actual place, but the idea of that place: in the late 1500s Venice, Italy, a man schemes to steal the most guarded technology of the day — a mirror; in 1950s Venice Beach, California, a thief discovers a mysterious text that seems to have unusual insights about that stolen mirror; and in 2015, a soldier purses the thief in The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to retrieve the book about the mirror. As the stories draw together, Seay’s thrilling novel dazzles at every turn. Unexpected and amazing, The Mirror Thief will leave readers breathless.” —Jeremy Ellis, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

The indie press novel is doing very well in libraries we checked, either topping a 3:1 holds ratio or showing strong circ. where libraries are ahead of requests.

Hitting Screens, Week of May 30

The summer is off to a dismal start for Hollywood. The movie trades are characterizing the holiday weekend box office as “lackluster,” with X-Men: Apocalypse coming in below expectations and Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass considered a flat-out “bomb.” Among the bright spots for adaptations, the much smaller release, Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen-inspired Love & Friendship is continuing to do well after opening earlier this month and is considered an “arthouse crossover” success.

9780306824852_69a4aBeginning tonight, May 30 Roots airs on the History Chanel, simulcast on A&E and Lifetime, over four consecutive nights.

The new version seeks to make the seminal TV event, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alex Haley, relevant to a new generation of viewers (the NYT review is headlined, “Roots for a Black Lives Matter Era“).

The 70’s version was a sensation, opening the eyes of many white Americans to the horrors of slavery and encouraging African Americans to research their family histories, but executive producer Mark Wolper, the son of the original’s EP David L Wolper, told Deadline he realized he had to re-imagine his father’s efforts when his own son refused to watch the 1977 series, saying, “like your music, it doesn’t speak to me.”

The series remake stars Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

A tie-in edition come out on May 3: Roots [miniseries tie-in]: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley, (Perseus/Da Capo Press).

MV5BMTQ2NjE4NDE2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTcwNDE5NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Me Before You opens on June 3. The anticipation is so fevered, as we noted, that just the two trailer releases caused bumps in sales for the book it is based on. The novel’s author, JoJo Moyes, wrote the screenplay and the movie stars Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games) transitioning from worlds of dragons and death matches to life-affirming contemporary romance.

A movie-tie in edition came out on April 26: Me Before You: A Novel (Movie Tie-In) by Jojo Moyes (PRH/Penguin Books).

MV5BMjI0ODQ0MTAyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODIwNzMzNjE@._V1_SX214_AL_Outcast premieres on Cinemax in a 10 episode run starting June 3. It is based the comic Robert Kirkman writes and Paul Azaceta illustrates and stars Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl) and Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) as two characters caught in a web of demonic possession. Wired calls it “a bloody, brutal ride” and reports it has already been renewed for a second season.

Two collected editions are currently in print with a third to follow on June 15.

MV5BMjM4NDQ0NTYyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTIxMjY3ODE@._V1_SX214_AL_Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows also opens on June 3. The blast from the past stars Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, and Will Arnett and is a follow-up to the 2014 film.

This time the turtles wonder if they can become human while they fight new mutants created by their arch enemy.

9781101939192_faa63The leveled reader tie-in, Shell Shock (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), illustrated by Paolo Villanelli (PRH/Random House Books for Young Readers), is now available, but the novelization doesn’t arrive until  June 7: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Deluxe Novelization (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows), David Lewman (PRH/Random House Books for Young Readers; also in paperback). Is it possible that, like the Star Wars novelization, it was held back for fear of spoilers?

USA Today Summer Picks

Reflecting USA Today‘s reduced book coverage, this year’s summer books preview consists of just ten titles, most of them expected. At #1 is Stephen King’s End of Watch (S&S/Scribner, June 7) and at #3 is the summer debut on every list, Emma Cline’s The Girls (PRH/Random House, June 14).

Still, they manage to pick three titles that are not on any of the other previews:

9780316259095_3fd1c 9780316383295_e1319 9781501155772_1b407

#5 Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days by Tavis Smiley and David Ritz (Hachette/Little, Brown, June 21)

#6 The Land of Stories: An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer (Hachette/Little, Brown, July 12), the next in the series for young readers.

#10 Trump Revealed by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher (S&S/Scribner, Aug. 23),  a late addition to summer releases, by  Washington Post investigative and political reporters. USA Today wonders what could possibly be left to reveal about the candidate.

See our catalog for a running list of all summer picks. Links to each of the summer previews are  in the column to the right.

True Life Western Takes Off

9781250069986_6446aSoaring on Amazon due to a glowing review in The Wall Street Journal is Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde, John Boessenecker (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books; OverDrive Sample), which jumped from #5,403 to just outside the Top 100.

Writing for the paper, author Bryan Burrough (Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence), a frequent reader of “biographies of American lawmen and detectives” says that “in terms of sheer action and violence, from close-quarters gunfights to Mexican-border ambushes to face-offs with lynch mobs, I’m hard-pressed to think of one that rivals John Boessenecker’s excellent” account.

He goes on to say:

“What makes Texas Ranger a notable achievement is how thoroughly Hamer has eluded so many would-be biographers. Though he took part in 52 known gunfights and killed at least 27 men—and probably more—he was humble and tight-lipped about his achievements. He left no diaries and granted few interviews. But Mr. Boessenecker, after years mining state archives and yellowed newspapers, finally captures the full life of a man whose exploits could easily pack a dozen Hollywood movies.”

The book is getting a range of local press coverage as well as a vividly illustrated feature in Garden & Gun. The NYT, which is not as glowing, features it as part of their “Adventurers Shortlist” in last week’s Sunday Book Review.

Holds are thus far light on light ordering but this is the kind of book that can take off if there is word of mouth.

Hitler’s Race for the Bomb

9780544368057_6a653Amid the current unease about nuclear proliferation, Neal Bascomb’s historical account of Hitler’s efforts to create atomic weapons, The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb (HMH; OverDrive Sample), is rising on Amazon, on the strength of a riveting review in The Wall Street Journal.

Detailing the efforts and sacrifice of Norwegian, British, and Americans seeking to stop Hitler’s plans, the paper calls the book a “riveting and poignant” account that “metamorphoses from engrossing history into a smashing thriller.”

Holds are mixed at libraries we checked, with some locations showing ratios over 4:1, others showing strong circ on moderate ordering, and others with copies on the shelf. Right now the book is mainly benefiting from local press, but books such as these are perennially popular and Bascomb’s is regarded as the definitive account of an overlooked part of WWII history, making it a core title for many collections.

Beach Reads with Bill Gates

Add Bill Gates to those offering summer beach reads. The philanthropic computer genius offers a list of seasonal reads each year and several are rising on Amazon as a result of his support.

The paperback edition of the bestselling nonfiction title How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample) is just outside the Top 100 while the newly released paperback edition of the bestselling SF novel Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (Harper/William Morrow; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample), is on its heels.

9780143127536_0bd46Gates, clearly invested in the importance of understanding math, says of Ellenberg’s book that the author:

“… explains how math plays into our daily lives without our even knowing it. Each chapter starts with a subject that seems fairly straightforward—electoral politics, say, or the Massachusetts lottery—and then uses it as a jumping-off point to talk about the math involved. In some places the math gets quite complicated, but he always wraps things up by making sure you’re still with him. The book’s larger point is that, as Ellenberg writes, ‘to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason’ —and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time.”

9780062334510_6bb39Returning to a favorite genre, Gates says of Seveneves:

“I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit. You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight—Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research—but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.”

Also on the list:

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The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, Nick Lane (Norton; OverDrive Sample).

The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy, Hiroshi Mikitani , Ryoichi Mikitani (Wiley; OverDrive Sample).

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari (Harper; OverDrive Sampel).

Gates even offers a video promoting each of the titles:

Illustrating Gates’s reach with the news media, his reading list got covered by such diverse outlets as USA Today, Town & Country, Vox, and The Washington Post.

For your use in creating displays, we’ve put together a downloadable spreadsheet of all his selections Gates Summer Reading, 2012 thru 2016.

Below are direct links:

2016
2015
2014
2013
2012

Time for Summer Reading!

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, summer reading previews are arriving. While others can only salivate over the forthcoming titles, librarians can begin reading most of them now, in the form of galleys from Edelweiss and/or NetGalley (see our catalog of all the titles here)

Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Amazon Editors, B&N, Buzzfeed, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (widely syndicated in other regional newspapers) all have suggestions for readers. (EW‘s is not available online, so we’ve put together a downloadable spreadsheet of their picks),

Among the titles getting the most attention 9781594634673_84c55Modern Lovers, Emma Straub (PRH/Riverhead; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), has an impressive showing, making the lists of The New York Times, Amazon Editors, B&N, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It is also gets an A- from Entertainment Weekly this week . 

9781101947135_24878Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is making a splash, partly because of  its $1 million advance, as The Wall Street Journal notes in a profile of the author, adding that the book “is flecked with magic, evoking folk tales passed down from parent to child.” The debut made Entertainment Weekly‘s top ten picks for the season as well as hitting lists complied by B&N, BuzzFeed, and the NYT.

9780812998603_dba8fThe Girls, Emma Cline (PRH/Random House; RH Audio), another debut that’s received advance attention, also impresses the Amazon Editors, BuzzFeed, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and the NYT. It is also the #1 Indie Next Pick for June. Entertainment Weekly says: “This breathtaking novel — about a young woman entangled in a Masonesque cult — is so accomplished that it’s hard to believe it’s a debut. Cline’s powerful characters linger long after the final page.”

9780062359988_2b610Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson (HC/Amistad) is the National Book Award winner’s first novel for adults in 20 years. B&N, BuzzFeed, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and WSJ each take note. BuzzFeed says: “Gorgeously written and moving, Another Brooklyn is an examination of the complexities of youth and adolescence, loss, friendship, family, race, and religion.”

9780399184123_90dfaBut What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past, Chuck Klosterman (PRH/Blue Rider; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample) is on B&N, Harper’s Bazaar, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Entertainment Weekly‘s lists. EW says: “The essayist’s new book scrutinizes seemingly immutable concepts, like gravity and history under the assumption that we could be proved totally wrong about them in the future.”

9780544276000_3e99bIt seems Hemingway still fascinates.  Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, Lesley M. M. Blume (HMH/Eamon Dolan; OverDrive Sample) is picked by B&N, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Wall Street Journal, with the latter saying: “The story behind Ernest Hemingway’s debut novel, The Sun Also Rises, involves the “Lost Generation” and the trip to Pamplona … It also shows how delicately editor Maxwell Perkins of Scribner’s had to handle the manuscript, with its four-letter words, drinking and philandering.”

In addition to these highlights, below are a few more selections from each list.

Entertainment Weekly dives in with a rich collection of activities entitled “99 Ways to Spend 99 Days” – a number of which  include reading. 9781501139888_e9b15 9781455531189_8deb2Featured on their cover is The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer (S&S/Gallery), one of the buzzy books from BEA. EW points out it is not the only book in Schumer-land. The head writer for Inside Amy Schumer also has a book out, You’ll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein (Hachette/Grand Central).

9781338099133_b39eeHarry Potter and the Cursed Child makes the cover too and is set for a big splash. EW highlights both the London play and the script: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition Script): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine).

The New York Times9780062234322_eb406 daily reviewer Dwight Garner likes Emma Cline’s The Girls, but also Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer, Arthur Lubow (HC/Ecco; OverDrive Sample), saying: “Diane Arbus is one of the most important and unsettling figures in the history of photography, known for her pictures of people on the margins — dwarfs, cross-dressers, giants, sideshow freaks. Mr. Lubow’s biography of this pioneering artist …  is the first since Patricia Bosworth’s in 1984, and it looks serious, sensitive and wide-ranging.”

9781631491764_eba46Daily nonfiction reviewer, Jennifer Senior, highlights Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn (Norton/Liveright): “This novel may take place in Jamaica, but do not mistake it for a traditional beach read. It’s for readers who want to know what’s really behind the lacquered smile of the desk clerk at that lovely resort in Montego Bay, and what the pleasant woman at the market is really thinking when she sells tourists her jewelry and trinkets. The answers are often far less pretty than the scenery, but all evidence suggests that this debut deserves its ballyhoo.”

Dark Matter9781250069795_0272eThe Amazon editors offer lists for fiction, beach reads, kids, and YA. In fiction they note, as does Entertainment Weekly, the attention given to Blake Crouch. The novelist is gaining traction based on the adaptation of his books into the Fox studio’s Wayward Pines series. His newest title is Dark Matter (PRH/Crown; RH Audio). Also on the list is Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty (Macmillan/Flatiron Books). It is another impressive choice, making multiple lists including Entertainment Weekly‘s and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

9780316391177_50b5eB&N‘s list includes Invincible Summer, Alice Adams (Hachette/Little, Brown), offering: “This engaging first novel begins with a question posed by one of four close college friends in 1995: “If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?” Two think big, wondering about the meaning of life and what happens after death. Another quips about next week’s lottery numbers. Adams follows the appealing Brits — two artsy types, a banker, and a physicist, split between the sexes — through their ups and downs and the ins and outs of their relationships over the next twenty years.”

9781101902578_75900Also making their list is I Almost Forgot About You, Terry McMillan (PRH/Crown; RH Audio; BOT): “A novel that encourages risk-taking and shaking things up by the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Feeling stuck and dissatisfied despite her relative good fortune, twice-divorced 50-something optometrist Georgia Young decides to quit her job, reinvent herself and – yes – get her groove back.”

9780743288781_d9ab0The Wall Street Journal includes the massive new novel by Annie Proulx, a 700 page tome she spent close to a decade writing. Barkskins (S&S/Scribner, S&S Audio) spans 320 years as it traces the fates of a pair of indentured woodcutters and their descendants through history, as, according to WSJ, “they exploit the forest, and grapple with the ecological consequences.”

9780770437299_49486Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt, Yasmine El Rashidi (PRH/Tim Duggan Books; RH Audio; BOT) gets featured as well. It is a debut that tracks the fall of President Hosni Mubarak during the Egyptian Revolution, placing his story against that of a character readers meet at age 6, as a college student, and as an adult. WSJ says that El Rashidi watched the Egyptian Revolution “unfold in real time, covering the overthrow … in dispatches for the New York Review of Books.” WSJ also has a nonfiction summer preview out.

9781594634888_76c3c9781566894425_f9fd2BuzzFeed leads with The Girls and Homegoing but then highlights another debut, Problems, Jade Sharma (Coffee House; OverDrive Sample), saying: “Bold and honest, Problems is a fresh look at recovery, redemption, and one woman’s increasing nest of problems.” Also on the list of 18 picks is Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel (PRH/Riverhead). BuzzFeed offers: “Filled with humor and heart … a wonderfully whimsical tale of privilege and class and what happens when you lose everything you’ve come to take for granted.”

9781101946619_ffa28Harper’s Bazaar offers a list of 12 titles which includes The Nix, Nathan Hill (RRH/Knopf; RH Audio), a book EW called the “wildest debut.” Harper’s says: “College professor Samuel Andresen-Anderson hasn’t seen his mother, Faye, since childhood, the day she walked out of his life. One day, he recognizes Faye on the news, caught on camera pelting rocks at a presidential candidate. He soon decides to write a tell-all biography of his mother, delving into her personal history as it fits into the rural Midwest in the 1960s to Occupy Wall Street and ultimately to Norway, home of the storied “Nix” that she often told Samuel about as a boy.”

9780544373419_05e97The St. Louis Post-Dispatch complies a long list that includes Marrow Island, Alexis M. Smith (HMH; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). It is Smith’s second novel after the cult favorite Glaciers (Tin House) and marks Smith’s quick jump to a big six publisher. The paper offers a brief summary: “Journalist who left her island home after a devastating quake returns to find it inhabited by an eerie, suspicious colony run by a former nun.”

It is an Indie Next pick for June as well, with the longer annotation:

“After an earthquake destroyed the oil refinery on Marrow Island and killed her father, Lucie Bowen left. Twenty years later, she returns to the Puget Sound and discovers her friend Kate is now living on this toxic island with members of ‘The Colony.’ Set in the Pacific Northwest, Marrow Island is a mystery/thriller that encompasses communal living, natural and man-made disasters, and what can happen when we tinker with the ecosystem and try to play a larger role.” —Tracy Taylor, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA.

See our catalog for a running list of all summer picks. Links to each of the summer previews can be found in the column to the right.

Nancy Pearl Recommends
IMAGINE ME GONE

9780316261357_38751On her weekly radio appearance on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW, librarian Nancy Pearl recommends Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample), calling it a “wonderful, albeit, painful reading experience.”

The novel, told in alternating points of view, explores how depression runs through a family. Nancy says it is centered on the oldest son and progresses forward in time as each character tells their part of the story.

She particularly praised the acuity with which Haslett explores depression, saying she does not think she has ever read another novel that has explored the disease so well. She was also impressed with Haslett’s “amazingly wonderful writing.”

Nancy suggests the novel to readers who like books that explore the human condition and those readers who wish to partake of a character’s life and crises.

She’s not alone in her praise. The novel, Haslett’s second after Union Atlantic and the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, is getting attention.

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, saying Haslett “illuminates not just madness but what it means to witness it, too.”

NPR’s Scott Simon interviewed Haslett on Weekend Edition Saturday and NPR posted a review as well, in which Heller McAlpin offers, “Haslett’s new novel forcefully demonstrates that he is unrivaled at capturing the lasting reverberations of suicide and the draining tedium and despair — along with the occasionally fabulous flights of fancy — that accompany intransigent mental illness. And he achieves this with an extraordinary blend of precision, beauty, and tenderness”

The NYT‘s “Sunday Book Review” assesses the novel as “ambitious and stirring” and adds, “it sneaks up on you with dark and winning humor, poignant tenderness and sentences so astute that they lift the spirit even when they’re awfully, awfully sad.”

Order Alert:
HELPING CHILDREN SUCCEED

9780544935280_e4727A book on an ever-popular topic is rising on Amazon as a result of coverage from NPR and spotlights in the NYT and The Atlantic.

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), a book about teaching and parenting kids for success, has broken into the top 50, rising from #796.

His earlier book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, And The Hidden Power Of Character, was a NYT bestseller and, as NPR says, “probably did more than any other single book to get the wider public thinking about the importance of grit and other noncognitive skills.”

Many libraries we checked have yet to order, perhaps because the only trade review thus far is from Kirkus.

Time to get those orders in. The book’s title alone will bring eager parents and, as NPR puts it, “for the past decade or more Tough has been one of the pre-eminent reporters translating education research for public consumption.” It’s likely to join another book on best seller lists, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio), currently tied at #2 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list with Anderson Cooper’s The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss, (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe).

LibraryReads Title Is
Target Club Pick

9781250055637_607f1Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.22.32 PMThis month’s Target Club Pick brings renewed attention to The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), which
features a librarian as the
main character.

June 2015 LibraryReads selection, it was described by Amanda Monson, of Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA:

“A roller coaster of a read! This is the story of a librarian from a splintered family with a tragic past who is gifted a mysterious book that leads him to dive deep into his family’s history, all while his present life seems to be falling to pieces around him. If you loved Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or Kostova’s The Historian, this is a book for you.”

The pick coincides with the paperback release of the novel, with added features; the short story “The Mermaid Girl,” an author Q&A, reading group guide, and a short essay by the author. Swyler offers images and a list of the new features on her tumblr page.

Order Alert: BEING A BEAST

9781627796330_01b61In a rare advanced review, the New Yorker discusses Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, Charles Foster (Macmillan/Metropolitan; BOT), coming out next month, calling it an “exercise of the sympathetic imagination.”

The natural history memoir recounts Foster’s time trying to live like badgers, foxes, otters, and birds, going so far as to live in a dirt barrow, eat worms, and catch fish with his teeth.

Already published in the UK to glowing reviews, The Guardian calls it “Illuminating and unfailingly entertaining … a tour de force of modern nature writing.”

Libraries have ordered very lightly. There are few holds, but the memoir, which is being compared to H is for Hawk, is likely to get more media attention.

9781616894054_ca634Featured in the same New Yorker article is another book about living like an animal, GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday From Being Human, Thomas Thwaites (Princeton Architectural Press; OverDrive Sample). The author, a designer, writes about his efforts to become as goat-like as possible, even using prosthetic goat limbs, to become a member of a Swiss goat herd. Published last week, it received attention from NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as well as on NPR’s blog coincidentally titled Goats and Soda. Holds too are light on light ordering.

9780393246186_e9740Two recent books suggest that if humans want to live like animals, they need to step up their game. Primatologist Frans de Waal’s new book offers a challenge in the title, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). It is currently at #19 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction list after two weeks.

Genius of BirdsFocusing on a specific species, Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds(PRH/Penguin; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample), released in April, received attention from NPR. The two books were reviewed jointly in the NYT Sunday Book Review.

In an interview with the Washington Post, de Waal offers an explanation for this growing interest, “I think we got tired of behaviorism, which was dominant last century. More and more phenomena are coming to the fore, of animals doing things that couldn’t be explained by simple instinct or by simple associative learning. And the younger generation is much more open to seeing what animals can do on their own terms.”

THUNDER BOY JR. Booms

9780316013727_c7ee8On the strength of an NPR interview Sherman Alexie’s new picture book jumped up Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping from #1,381 to #83.

NPR’s David Greene talks with Alexie about Thunder Boy Jr.,  illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Hachette/Little, Brown), calling it “joyful… funny and sweet.” Words which could also describe Alexie’s reading of the book, which opens and closes the interview.

9780316013680The two discuss the inspiration for the story as well as Alexie’s life, father, and vision of himself, pointing to the dark humor in his National Book Award-winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is also rising strongly on Amazon.

Alexie talks about how reading created the person he is today:

“My life changed dramatically, and started to change dramatically, when I read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I was 4 or 5 on the reservation, and it was the first book I ever read with a brown-skinned character … I reached across the fictional and the real barriers and boundaries to connect my heart to him. And that’s why I’m here now. That one book made me a writer. And I can point to other books throughout my life that did the same thing — that made me who I am. I am constructed of stories that have changed my life.”

Books at Cannes

Jurors for the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped on Sunday, tend to subscribe to the “auteur” theory of film making, so adaptations don’t often make the cut. But this year, a few snuck in, beginning with the premiere of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of  The BFG by Roald Dahl It won a standing ovation.

runawayIn competition was Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s Julieta, based on three of the short stories in Alice Munro’s collection  Runaway (PRH/Knopf), about a Vancouver woman named Juliet Henderson. Almodovar switches the setting to Madrid and the character’s name to Julieta Diaz. The industry site The Wrap calls the result “downright decorous” for the often over-the-top director, but adds, “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and a subdued Almodovar is still a far sight weirder and more intriguing than most directors.” Reviews from Cannes were mixed and it did not win any awards.

the-dinnerThe real business of Cannes is not the red carpet or the premieres, but the deals being made outside the screening rooms. Making headlines, the film adaptation of Herman Koch’s book The Dinner was acquired for distribution, with plans to release it this fall. Directed by Oren Overman it stars Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, and Chloë Sevigny. A hit in Europe, the novel arrived in the U.S. in 2013 to predictions that it would be the next Gone Girl. Although it didn’t achieve that level of popularity, it sold well and was on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list for seven weeks, reaching a high of #7.

9781586420895Bidding was fierce for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, set to star Robert DeNiro. STX entertainment emerged the winner, for a mere $50 million. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brand (Steerforth, 2005), it’s about famed hit man Frank Sheeran (DeNiro), The title comes from the first words union leader Jimmy Hoffa spoke to Sheeran. He wasn’t being ironic. “Paint houses” is code for killing people, resulting in blood stains on the walls. The movie has not yet begun production. Scorsese already has several irons in the fire, including  his long-gestating adaptation of Eric Larson’s The Devil in the White City (RH/Crown, 2003) starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Further afield, the L.A. Times reports that even French economic theorist Thomas Piketty, author of the unexpected best seller, Capital in the 21st Century, was enthusiastically pitching the book’s potential as movie at the show.

Readers’ Advisory: Comics

NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday offers a capsule overview of the state of comics, interviewing George Gene Gustines, of the NYT‘s Arts Beat blog, about the format’s allure, both for readers and for authors.

The brief interview gives insight into the value of all the mixes, mash-ups, alliances, and re-issues for readers and the big-name authors being drawn to the format.

Gustine delineates the current audience for comics, pointing out that all age groups are fans but the sweet spot right now are readers in their 40s who grew up on comics and have followed every significant character evolution and story line. He says that publishers are trying to appeal to kids again with a lot of new material to ensure the format does not age out.

STL001673Gustines also discusses the trend for prose authors to move to comics. As we reported, Ta-Nehisi Coates is topping the charts with his new version of Black Panther (the graphic novel compiling issues #1-4 is forthcoming: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Hachette/Marvel; Sept. 27, 2016; ISBN: 9781302900533; $16.99).

9781401263133_63839Brad Meltzer (bestselling author of thrillers such as The Tenth Justice) had a highly successful turn as well says Gustines, creating a run of the Justice League of America and the comic series Identity Crisis that Gustines says “sold like gangbusters.”

Another thriller author, Greg Rucka, has written dozens of comics for both DC and Marvel including work on Batman and Spider-Man and Michael Chabon created stories for the Casanova comic with Matt Fraction, the Eisner and Harvey award-winning author of such popular series as Sex Criminals and Hawkeye.

9781506700632_97656Due in September is, Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird (PRH/Dark Horse; Sept. 6, 2016; ISBN: 9781506700632; $14.99), the first in an  . The Guardian quotes Atwood, “I have concocted a superhero who is part cat, part bird. Due to some spilled genetic Super-Splicer, our hero got tangled up with both a cat and an owl; hence his fur and feathers, and his identity problems.”

Dark Horse acquiring editor said it will be “a humorous, action-driven, pulp-inspired story … [with] …a lot of cat puns …. a strange mix of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man, and Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s Squirrel Girl.”

All this, of course, on top of what is also a busy market of adapting print only books into comics, such as Paul Auster’s City of Glass, Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels, and both Game of Thrones and Outlander.

BLACK PANTHER Tops Charts

STL001673The top comic in the US, outselling all others with an impressive one-month sales count of over 250,000 copies is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther. That number is likely to be revised upwards to 300,000 once reorder figures are known, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The comic, released on April 6th, is the first of eleven single issues that will be collected into paperback complications, beginning with #1-4, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Hachette/Marvel; Sept. 27, 2016; ISBN: 9781302900533; $16.99).

MV5BMjQ0MTgyNjAxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjUzMDkyODE@._V1_SX214_AL_Part of the demand may be a result of the hugely successful movie Captain America: Civil War  which features a super fast Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’s project was buzzy before the movie hit theaters, with plenty of pre-pub attention, from the NYTWSJ, and The Atlantic (where Coates is national correspondent).

Writing from the UK perspective, The Guardian quotes Kate McHale, comics buyer at Waterstones (the UK’s largest bookstore chain):

“The anticipation about what new angles a brilliant writer like Ta-Nehisi Coates could bring to the character … I think we’re expecting a level of depth and insight that could make this one of Marvel’s most interesting and compelling titles, and one of the must-reads of the year. After a great first issue that looks likely.”

Reviews range from glowing to supportive. Vox writes:

“It’s excellent. Coates and Stelfreeze have created a pocket in the ever-expanding Marvel comic universe that’s daring and wondrous, but also organic and natural — a place and a comic that feels crucial and important to the company’s legacy.”

io9 offers the headline “The New Black Panther Comic Is Off to an Amazing Start” and says:

“By giving us a starting point of T’Challa at his weakest, Black Panther is setting itself on a road that could give us some of his strongest stories in years.”

IGN offers a history of the character for all those trying to catch up: