Archive for October, 2008

‘Oxford Project’ on CBS Sunday Morning

Friday, October 24th, 2008

A few weeks ago, we mentioned The Oxford Project, a book of portraits of the members of one small town, today and as they were twenty years ago, plus stories of what happened to them in the intervening years. The gallery of some of the photos demonstrates just how fascinating the result is (warning; if you go to the gallery, you may find yourself poring over these images for quite some time). 

CBS Sunday Morning is fascinated by the result, too, and will feature the project on this week’s show. Here’s how they describe the segment:

If you have ever gone up to the attic or searched in a closet and found a treasure trove of old photos, you probably have sat in amazement looking at family and friends from years earlier.  When you see them today, it almost seems as if they have traveled in a time warp. And that is exactly what the people of Oxford, Iowa, experienced after a university professor came to town in 1984 and took individual snapshots of them. He returned 20 years later to see how things have changed with the town folk. Needless to say, as correspondent Josh Landis finds out, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.


The Oxford Project
Stephen G. Bloom and Peter Feldstein

  • Hardcover: $50; 264 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Books (September 16, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1599620480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599620480

NBA — Young People’s Literature

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Early Word Kids

Two of the National Book Award Finalists for Young People’s Literature are November titles that many librarians hadn’t read yet (The Spectacular Now and What I Saw and How I Lied). I missed them, too, but got my hands on copies right after the announcement; my takes on all the titles are below.

A distinguished panel of children’s and young adult book authors selected these titles. Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket chaired the committee.  Judging were Angela Johnson whose First Part Last won both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Michael Printz Award, bestselling fantasy writer Holly Black whose recent Valiant garnered the Andre Norton Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, Carolyn Mackler, writer of contemporary young adult fiction with fabulous titles like Guyaholic and Newbery Award winner (Dicey’s Song) Cynthia Voigt.

Having been on the Newbery Committtee, I know how difficult the process is (especially since this list represents ALL of childrens literature for the year; it would be great if there were separate NBA lists for fiction, poetry and nonfiction), so I won’t second-guess on specific titles. However, in a year of amazing fantasy books for kids (The Graceling, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Otherside of the Island, Hunger Games and Little Brother), it’s surprising that the genre wasn’t represented.

As in years past, this list skews toward books for older readers; no true middle grade book for ages eight to ten has made the list.

Even so, the short list is a diverse one. My favorites are Chains for its specificity, historical accuracy and unique point of view;  The Underneath for its epic storytelling and regional flavor as well as kid appeal;  What I Saw and How I Lied brought alive the post WWII years viscerally from the scent of perfume to the lipstick colors; and Frankie Landau is a compelling and exciting read.

Chains,  Laurie Halse Anderson,  (Simon & Schuster)

Ages 12 and up

Set during the American Revolution, Chains explores the true meaning of the freedom from the point of view of an enslaved girl of African descent. Isabel is recruited to spy for the Patriots on her Loyalist master with the assurance that she and her younger sister would be emancipated.  Anderson creates a strong sense of time and place- heartbreaking and gripping, we are captivated by Isabel’s struggle for freedom.

  • Hardcover: $16.99; 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (October 21, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416905855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416905851
  • Audio CD; $29.99; Unabridged
  • Reader: Madisun Leigh
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio  (October 21, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1423367308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423367307


The Underneath, Kathi Appelt,  (Atheneum)

Ages 10 and up

My colleague Elizabeth Bird said it best in her blog Fuse 8,

Appelt in her debut novel has somehow managed to write a book that I’ve been describing to people as (and this is true) Watership Down meets The Incredible Journey meets Holes meets The Mouse And His Child. If that doesn’t make any sense to you it is because you have never read a book quite like this.

The narrative has a hypnotic epic storytelling voice that compells the reader into this dark Texan world of an old hound dog and two calico cats.

  • Hardcover: $16.99; 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum (May 6, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416950583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416950585
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 5 CD’s
  • Reader: Gabra Zackman
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; (May 6, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0743572084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743572088

What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell, (Scholastic)

Fifteen-year-old Evie, doesn’t think of herself as beautiful. Not like her mother who could double for Lana Turner. Evie is anxious for the days when her curves will appear and she can as they say, “fill in a sweater.” Evie’s voice is sharp and crisp as we experience her confusion and discovery in this lyrical coming-of-age story set in the post WWII era.

  • Hardcover: $16.99; 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (November 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0439903467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439903462

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart; (Hyperion)

Ages 15 and up

Frankie is a high-school sophomore whose dad has been telling stories for years about his prep-school days. As a girl, she is excluded from the school’s secret society yet anonymously Frankie takes on the established order at her exclusive private boarding school.

  • Hardcover: $16.99; 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; (March 25, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0786838183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786838189
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 6 CD’s, $60.97
  • Reader: Tanya Eby Sirois
  • Publisher: Brilliance; (June 20, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1423366808
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423366805
The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp,  (Alfred Knopf)
15 and up
Tharp takes the unreliable narrator to new heights as we see the last few weeks of senior year through the eyes of an out-of–control, self-centered manipulative teen who is never without his flask of Seagram’s V.O. to doctor an extra large convenience store 7-Up.  The narration is bursting with young adult slang and expletives lending an air of authenticity
  • Hardcover: $16.99; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (November 11, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0375851798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375851797

EarlyWord Kids

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

I’m delighted to introduce Lisa Von Drasek as the EarlyWord Kids contributor. Many of you know Lisa already. As librarian for New York’s Bank Street College of Education, she has experience working with children of all ages as well as with those who are in training to work with kids and parents. As a reviewer for many publications, including Nickelodeon and the Barnes and Noble Review, she gets an early look at new books. Lisa’s contributions will appear on this blog and soon there will also be a special section on EarlyWord where you can access all her posts in one place. You’ll be able to identify her posts by this “badge”;

Lisa Von Drasek: Early Word Kids

Now, over to Lisa:

Breaking News

We can officially call this “the Season of DiCamillo”. Not only will the animated movie version of The Tale of Despereaux  open in time for Christmas (the trailer is available now), but today, Al Roker announced that the book is this month’s “Al’s Book Club” pick. Now’s the time to check what shape your copies are in and consider buying more.  In addition to the regular editions, there are several movie tie-ins (see our Upcoming Movies — with Tie-ins. A downloadable teacher’s guide is also available).  

  • Hardcover: $17.99; 267 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (August, 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 0763617229
  • ISBN-13: 9780763617226
  • Paperback: $7.99; 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (April, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 0763625299
  • ISBN-13: 9780763625290


Newly Relevant Backlist

In these trying economic times making sense of money is too much for many of us and kids are wondering what all the fuss is about.  Alvin Hall, a financial educator provides clear, easy-to-understand explanations for ages seven and up, from the very simple, “What is money?” to “What is the global economy?” He builds neatly on each concept assisted by a colorful graphic format that clears up any confusion a reader might have.  Just why is money valuable? As Hall explains,

If you were on a desert island, no amount of money would help you survive — you couldn’t eat it, drink it, use it to build a shelter, or to keep away wild animals. So why is money valuable? The answer is simply that everyone has agreed it is.

Alvin Hall, currently living in New York City is a frequent commentator on financial matters for National Public Radio.  

Show Me the Money: How Money Affects You and Your World Alvin Hall

  • Hardcover: 96 pages; $15.99
  • Publisher: DK Publishing (July 21, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0756637627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756637620


Heads Up

One of my favorites of the upcoming season is North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headly. Terra, a teen with a bold port-wine stain covering half of her face finds unexpected companionship with handsome, goth Jacob. American children adopted from China who are just coming of age will be fascinated to read about Jacob’s journey back to the orphanage where he was found. An engrossing, page-turning read, Headly has a talent for creating characters who are unique and believable as well as a well-tuned ear for dialog.  

North of Beautiful

Julia Chen Headley

  • Hardcover: $16.99;384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (February 1, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0316025054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316025058

The Cookbook Season

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

A Platter of Figs is shaping up as THE cookbook of the season. Both today’s New York Times and the new People magazine (11/4) include it in their seasonal cookbook roundups. It was also featured in the LA Times list of standouts in what they call a “dazzling season” of cookbooks.

Julia Moskin, NYT  “Dining” section reporter, calls it the “most alluring and useful” of all the books discussed (or coming out this season, it’s not entirely clear). 

The book went from #862 on Amazon to #117. Several libraries have not ordered it; those that do own it show reserves.


A Platter of Figs

Tanis, David

  • Hardcover: $35
  • Publisher: Artisan (September 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1579653464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579653460

Several books from high-profile chefs are out this season, some with high-end price tags to match (but, at $250, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook still costs less than a meal at London’s Fat Duck restaurant). Recognizing that most of these books are beyond the skills of even the best home cooks, Moskin says you should think of them as “art books, deluxe professional manuals and creative memoirs that happen to be in recipe form.” After all, you wouldn’t expect to be able to paint a masterpiece after reading a Jackson Pollock memoir.

Of the high-end books, Moskin says she would choose Alinea, from the award-winning Chicago restaurant (tasting menu, $125), because of the book’s “relatively reasonable” price and “seductive photography.” 

It rose from #209 to #126 on Amazon. It’s owned in small quantities by some libraries and is showing holds.



Achatz, Grant 

  • Hardcover: $60; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (October 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1580089283
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580089289
Other than Platter of Figs, People‘s list of seven “Great Cookbooks for Fall” does not overlap with the Times list. People features Martha Stewart’s Cooking School (which managed to help the reviewer achieve her goal of making a pie crust without crying; something many of us can relate to).
Of the seven titles, the only one not owned widely in libraries is from one of my favorite Brooklyn bakeries, Baked. It went from #5,653 on Amazon to #280.
Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito, and Tina Rupp
  • Hardcover:  $29.95; 208 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1584797215
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584797210

‘Speaking Treason’

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

The subject of race is obviously major in the current election, but most commentators back off discussing it (other than a few references to the “Bradley Factor”). Not so anti-racist activist and writer Tim Wise, who feels it’s crucial to deal with the issue head on, especially now. His essay “This is Your Nation on White Privilege” appeared on nearly a thousand web sites in the past few weeks and has drawn heated response. The author appeared on the Tavis Smiley show last week, NPR’s News & Notes (check it out; it’s powerful stuff) the week before, and on All Things Considered this summer.

Wise’s most recent book is a collection of essays Speaking Treason Fluently, owned by just a few libraries. Its only prepub coverage was in PW‘s web-exclusive reviews, where it was described as “bold and bracing.”


Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male

by Tim Wise

  • Paperback: $16.95; 352 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (September 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1593762070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762070
Of Wise’s earlier memoir (owned more widely by libraries), PW said,
Wise works from anecdote … to recount his path to greater cultural awareness in a colloquial, matter-of-fact quasi-memoir that urges white people to fight racism “for our own sake.”
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
Tim Wise
  • Paperback: $14.95; 176 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; 2nd edition (December 28, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1933368993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368993

Wise has a huge speaking schedule coming up. I’m posting it here (sorry for the length), since it doesn’t seem to be available online. If he’s going to be in your area, you may need to stock up on copies of his books:

10/21/08: Northampton, MA  Smith College
10/22/08 – 10/23/08: Philadephia, PA  St. Joseph’s College
10/26/08: Minneapolis, MN  Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church
10/27/08: Duluth, MN  University of Minnesota
10/28/08: San Marcos, TX  Texas State University
11/1/08: Chicago, IL  Target Area Conference
11/6/08: Akron, OH  Mt. Union College
11/7/08: Green Bay, WI  University of Wisconsin
11/8/08: Milwaukee, WI  Call To Action Conference
11/10/08: Louisville, KY  University of Louisville
11/13/08: Lincoln, NE  Nebraska Wesleyan University
11/17/08: Nashville, TN 
11/18/08: Memphis, TN  Rhodes College
12/1/08: Farmington, CT  Miss Porter’s School
12/13/08: Nashville, TN  Harambee Institute Training – Scaritt Bennett Center
01/13/09: Edina, MN  West Metro Education Program
01/19/09: Evanston, IL  Northwestern University
01/21/09: Williamsport, PA  Penn College
01/27/09: Bethlehem, PA  Moravian College
01/28/09: St. Louis, MO  Maryville University
01/30/09: Chattanooga, TN  McCallie School
02/3/09: University Heights, OH  John Carroll University
02/5/09: Williamstown, MA  Williams College
02/10/09: Worcester, MA  Clark University
02/11/09 – 02/12/09: Boston, MA  Berklee College of Music
02/11/09: North Easton, MA  Stonehill College
02/13/09: Chicago, IL  Independents Schools Association of the Central States
02/16/09: Towson, MD  Towson University
02/17/09: Overland Park, KS  Johnson County Community College
02/18/09: Moraga, CA  Saint Mary’s College of California
02/19/09: Oakland, CA  SPEAK OUT Public Event
02/26/09: Baltimore, MD  Towson State University
02/28/09 – 03/1/09: Greencastle, IN  DePauw University
03/5/09 – 03/6/09: Washington, DC  Georgetown Day School
03/10/09: Reseda, CA  Cleveland High School
03/11/09: Salt Lake City, UT  University of Utah
03/13/09: Gary, IN  Indiana University-Northwest
03/20/09: Toledo, OH  State of the State Conference
03/28/09: Waco, TX  Baylor University
03/31/09: River Falls, WI  University of Wisconsin
04/1/09 – 04/4/09: Memphis, TN  White Privilege Conference
04/7/09: St. Paul, MN  University of St. Thomas
04/14/09: Boston, MA  Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation
04/17/09: Palatine, IL  William Rainey Harper College

New Nancy Pearl Reviews

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

In the need of a pick-me-up? Listen to Nancy Pearl’s new show on KUOW (see link at the upper right of EarlyWord home page). Not only is her enthusiasm for reading contagious, so is her laugh at the beginning of the show. You’ll want to put it on a loop.

Nancy describes two very different books. The first is owned by only a few libraries. It sounds like something libraries should have, if only for staff development.

The Best of Technology Writing 2008

Edited by Clive Thompson


  • Paperback: $17.95 272 pages
  • Publisher: Digital Culture Books; Revised edition (August 22, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0472033271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472033270


The Ginseng Hunter

Jeff Talarigo

  • Hardcover: $21.95; 192 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; Nan A. Talese; (April 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0385517394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385517393

On Oprah Today

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

The reserve lists for My Stroke of Insight are about to get even longer. The author is scheduled for a full hour on Oprah today.

Most libraries do not own the audio or the large print editions.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

Jill Bolte Taylor

  • Hardcover: $24.95; 192 pages
  • Publisher: Viking;  (May 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0670020745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020744
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; 5 CD’s $29.95
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio; (July 3, 2008)
  • Read by the author
  • ISBN-10: 0143144006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143144007
  • Large Print, Hardcover: $31.95; 291 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; (October 3, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1410410498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410410498

‘The Longest Trip Home’

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

John Grogan’s The Longest Trip Home, his memoir of life before Marley, releases on Tuesday. Sister publications Entertainment Weekly and People (both owned by TimeWarner) have diametrically opposing views of the book:

Entertainment Weekly — gives it a “C.” The reviewer liked Marley, but says this one‘”feels more like an uneventful 334-page back-jacket author bio than a book.” Ouch! That comment makes the “C” rating sound like “grade creep.”

People (reviews not available online) — on the opposite end of the spectrum, People gives it four out of four possible stars; “As he did in Marley, Grogan makes readers feel they have a seat at the family dinner table.”

Library ordering and holds are surprisingly light for the followup to such a major bestseller. Orders for four major systems total just 61 copies in all formats, with 113 holds (one of the systems hasn’t ordered it at all). In contrast, these libraries have over 500 copies of Edgar Sawtelle, with reserves totaling over 2,000 at one point.

Also surprising, the book not among Amazon’s most popular pre-orders or in its Top 100 (it’s currently at #436 in Amazon’s sales ranking, which is respectable, but doesn’t indicate a blockbuster).

The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir
John Grogan

  • Hardcover: $25.95; 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (October 21, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061713244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061713248
  • Audio: Unabridged, $34.95
  • Pub. Date: HarperCollins; October 21, 2008
  • Read by: John Grogan
  • ISBN-13: 9780061726293
  • Large Type, Paperback: $25.95; 496 pages
  • Pub. Date: HarperCollins, October 21, 2008
  • ISBN-13: 9780061728204

‘Marley’ — A New Trailer

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I loved the first trailer for the movie of Marley & Me, but I guess it was too conceptual (and at least one online site called it “lame.”) So now, there’s a new more linear one; essentially a series of scenes of Marley acting up. It reveals that Owen Wilson has an unfortunate way of pronuncing “dog” and he’ll surely use the word a LOT in this movie, which also stars Jennifer Aniston as Grogan’s wife.

And, hey, is that Kathleen Turner as a scary dog trainer?

The movie comes out on Christmas Day.  John Grogan’s next book, The Longest Trip Home, his memoir of life before Marley (as People describes it this week, “You’ve, met the wife and the dog, now meet the parents”) releases on Tuesday (for more about it, see next post).

No twilight for ‘Twilight’

Friday, October 17th, 2008

The Twilight series has dominated the top spots on the Amazon bestseller list for so long, that it’s stunning to see a new title hit at #1 today.

It may be new, but it’s still part of the Twilight phenomenon. It’s the “movie companion” to Twilight, coming out Nov. 11 (the trailer will be shown in some theaters this weekend). The pub date for the book is 10/28, but Stephenie Meyer said on her blog today that Amazon is already beginning to ship copies. The libraries that have it on order are showing heavy reserves.


Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion

Mark Cotta Vaz

  • Paperback: $16.99; 144 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers (October 28, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0316043133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316043137
Meyer is also promoting the soundtrack on her blog, which is now #1 in music on Amazon:
Twilight Soundtrack
  • Audio CD: $18.98
  • Original Release Date: November 4, 2008
  • Label: Chop Shop/Atlantic
  • ASIN: B001ED7C58
  • Sales Rank: #1 in Music 
Also available are two guides to the series; one’s “official,” written by the serie’s author, Stephenie Meyer
The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide
Stephenie Meyer
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: $21.99; 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers; (December 30, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0316043125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316043120
  • Sales Rank: #23 in Books
The other is “unauthorized”
The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide
Lois H. Gresh
  • Paperback: $12.95; 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; (October 28, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0312387059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312387051
  • Sales Rank: #630 in Books

A Pitch for ‘The White Tiger’

Friday, October 17th, 2008

USA Today‘s Dierdre Donahue talks about how much she loves recommending books in a column yesterday,

In the past, I have accosted friends, family — even physicians in midexam — to rave about Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Edward P. Jones’ The Known World.

For the last five months, she’s been recommending the just-named Man Book Prize winner, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

This is her pitch,

It’s like The Godfather‘s Vito Corleone had a love child with Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. And he grows up to be a wildly successful Indian entrepreneur!

That may be a bit too breathless to actually work, but her brief, enthusiastic column sure does. I’m off to get a copy.

The newly-released trade paperback edition is now at #10 on Amazon.

The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

  • Hardcover: $24; 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press;  (April 22, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416562591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562597
  • Paperback: $14; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (October 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416562605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562603
  • Audio CD;  Unabridged; 7 Audio CDs (Library Binder Pkg), $55.99
  • Publisher: Tantor Media; (April 22, 2008)
  • Narrator: John Lee
  • ISBN-13: 9781400136650

‘Secret Life of Bees’ Opens Today

Friday, October 17th, 2008

As you undoubtedly already know from the many ads you’re seeing, the movie of The Secret Life of Bees opens today (it’s People magazine’s “Critic’s Choice” this week). The movie tie-in, which has been on bestseller lists for over a month, continues to rise (it went to #15 on yesterday’s USA Today list).

Opening in fewer venues is Sex Drive, a comedy that gets just two stars in this week’s People (“Everything that a hormonal 14-year-old boy could want in a movie.” That will have to be someone’s inner 14-year-old boy, since the movie is rated “R”). The headline for the NYT review reads, “Public Displays of Hormonally Charged Desperation.”

OCT 17

Movie title: The Secret Life of Bees


Dakota Fanning — Lily Owens

Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo — the beekeeping sisters

Jennifer Hudson — Lily’s nanny

Based on: The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

Movie tie-in:

The Secret Life of Bees

Sue Monk Kidd

  • Paperback: $15.00
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (August 20, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0143114557
  • ISBN-13: 9780143114550


OCT 17

Movie Title: Sex Drive

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: James Marsden, Josh Zuckerman

Based on: Sex Drive by Andy Behrens

Movie tie-in:

Sex Drive 

Andy Behrens

  • Paperback: $7.99; 224 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (October 16, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0142412600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142412602

USA Today Bestsellers, 10/16

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The sleeper title (but not to us; we told you to look out for it) on the new USA Today bestseller list is I Can Has Cheezburger? landing at #91. We hear that it will also appear on the 10/26 NYT list. In fact, the USA Today list is a good predictor of the NYT list, which is why we examine it each week.

Last time we checked, libraries hadn’t ordered Cheezburger. Don’t let Monorail Kitteh pass YOU by.

Below are the hardcover and original paperbacks new to the list:

#24 THE PIRATE KING, by R. A. Salvatore. (Wizards of the Coast, $27.95)

#38 A MOST WANTED MAN, by John le Carré. (Scribner, $28)

#39 GRACE, by Richard Paul Evans. (Simon & Schuster, $19.95)

#43 WHO, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. (Ballantine, $24)
When you think about it, it makes sense this book is doing well; with so many people looking for jobs, those who are hiring need help sorting through all those candidates.

#57 KILL BIN LADEN, by Dalton Fury. (St. Martin’s, $25.95)

#62 THE BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD: An Insider’s Guide, J.R. Ward, NAL original trade pbk

#87 TED, WHITE, AND BLUE, by Ted Nugent. (Regnery, $27.95)

#88 THE WORDY SHIPMATES, by Sarah Vowell. (Riverhead, $25.95)

#91 I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?, by Professor Happy cat and (Gotham, $10)

#124 PAULA DEEN’S MY FIRST COOKBOOK, by Paula Deen with Martha Nesbit. Illustrated by Susan Mitchell. (Simon & Schuster, $21.99)

NBA Finalists: Nonfiction

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

The National Book Critics Circle’s blog, “Critical Mass” has a handy rundown of all the nominees, with annotations for each title and backgrounds on the authors.

We looked at the critical reaction to the fiction finalists yesterday. So far, no questions have been raised about the nonfiction finalists.

Checking holdings in four large library systems, Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side has the greatest number of reserves and is also owned in the greatest quantities, followed by Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello and Drew Gilpin Faust’s Republic of Suffering. Unabridged audio is available for all three titles; many libraries do not own the audio versions.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

Jane Mayer

  • Hardcover: $27.50; 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (July 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0385526393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385526395
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; $34.95
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; (July 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 073937592X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739375921


The Hemingses of Monticello 

Annette Gordon-Reed

  • Hardcover: $35; 800 pages
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (September 17, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0393064778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393064773
  • Audio CD: Unabridged, 25 Audio CDs (Library Binder Pkg); $95.99
  • Publisher: Tantor Media (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 140015975X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400159758

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War 

Drew Gilpin Faust

  • Hardcover: $27.95;368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (January 8, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 037540404X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375404047
  • Audio CD:  Unabridged; 10 CD’s; $90
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks, Inc.; (April 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1433233428
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433233425
  • Hardcover: $31.95; 645 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press (August 20, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1410408310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410408310


The other two finalists are owned in small quantities, with some holds pending:


Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives 

Jim Sheeler

  • Hardcover: $25.95; 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; (May 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 159420165X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201653
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; 5 CD’s; $29.95
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio; (May 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0143143255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143143253

Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order

Joan Wickersham

  • Hardcover: $25; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; (August 4, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0151014906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014903


NBA Fiction Finalists

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Well, that feels strange. Just a couple of hours after I wrote a post mentioning Carolyn See’s review of Telex from Cuba, the book is one of the surprise National Book Award finalists for fiction (but every book on the list is regarded as a surprise of some sort).

At least initially, the fiction nominees seem to have raised the most eyebrows, so we’ll look at them first.

Who was overlooked? Toni Morrison (whose A Mercy comes out in a few weeks, but falls within the time period for the nominees), John Updike (The Widows of Eastwick) and  Philip Roth (Indignation).

Ron Charles, in the Washington Post Book World‘s blog, “Short Stack”, said, “I’ve come to expect a strange, disappointing fiction list from the National Book Awards, and this year is no exception.” He feels that the omission of Roxana Robinson’s Cost is enough to make him question the entire endeavor. I agree; it is one of the books from this year that lingers in my mind long after reading it.

Telex from Cuba received many strong reviews, including a NYT BR cover review (unusual for a debut novel) and a People Pick.

Libraries own it, in modest quantities and are still working through reserves. It’s also available in audio from Tantor; half the libraries I checked own the audio version.

Telex from Cuba 

Rachel Kushner

  • Hardcover: $25.00
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 141656103X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416561033
  • Unabridged CD: 11 Audio CDs (Library Binder Pkg), $69.99
  • Reader: Lloyd James
  • Pub. Date: July, 2008
  • ISBN-13: 978140038340

The other first novelist nominee is even more of a surprise. Salvatore Scibona’s The End received little attention from critics. It got a strong review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (the book is set in Cleveland in the ’50’s and the author grew up there), which said its “atavistic ambition is off-putting and breathtaking.” It was starred by Publisher Weekly, who called it a “literary tour de force.”

The large libraries I checked own it in small quantities (unsurprisingly, Cleveland area libraries have the largest number of copies and reserves).
The End
Salvatore Scibona
  • Hardcover: $24; 320 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (May 13, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1555974988
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555974985
Even though Peter Matthiessen is no stranger to the National Book Awards (he won for his nonfiction title, The Snow Leopard in 1979), the nomination for Shadow Country was a surprise, since it is a reworking of three previously published books, “The Watson Trilogy”; Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man’s Legend, and Bone by Bone. The New York Times BR called it
…not a restoration of the original version but a substantial revision and the kind of rendering done in slaughterhouses, a reduction of the trilogy’s 1,300-plus pages to a more easily consumed 900 or so.
Peter Matthiesen
Shadow Country
  • Hardcover: $40; 912 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (April 8, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0679640193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679640196
Nominee Aleksander Hemon got the nod for his second novel, The Lazarus Project, which was widely reviewed. The NYT BR called it a “…remarkably entertaining, chronicle of loss and hopelessness and cruelty..”
Libraries own it in greater quanities than any of the previous titles.
The Lazarus Project
Aleksandar Hemon
  • Hardcover: $24.95; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead (May 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1594489882
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489884
The nomination of Marilynne Robinson’s Home is questioned by some critics who felt her previous book, Gilead (which did not receive a nomination when it was published but did win the Pulitzer Prize that year) was a better book than Home. The redoutable James Wood, in the New Yorker, called Gilead, “the most unconventional conventionally popular novels of recent times.” Unlike several other critics, Wood sees the two novels as equally important.
Home is the most widely reviewed of all the titles, and generally owned by libraries in greater quantites than any of the other nominees. It also has the largest reserve lists.
Marilynne Robinson
  • Hardcover: $25
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0374299102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299101
  • Audio CD: Unabridged edition; $44.95
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio;  (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1427205108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427205100
  • Audio CD: 10 CD; Unabridged; $94.95
  • Narrator: Maggi-Meg Reed
  • Publisher: BBC America
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7927-5634-7    
  • Large Print, Hardcover: $34.95; 525 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (September 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 141040742X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410407429