Archive for August, 2009

The Season of Bated Breath

Monday, August 31st, 2009

“Names, names, NAMES!”

If you were a fan of Absolutely Fabulous, you may remember Edina’s highest praise for an event — it was filled with names, names, NAMES! If Edina liked books (doubtful), she’d LOVE the Fall ’09 book season.

But, even more than being chock-a-block with names, this is a season when the words “highly anticipated” will dominate review coverage. Many authors are releasing their first book in several years and others are following up on an enormous, sometimes surprise, success.

Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, out now, belongs in the first category. We are also looking forward to books by Lorrie Moore (eleven years since her last), E. L. Doctorow, Margaret Drabble, Jill McCorkle, A.S. Byatt, John Irving and Barbara Kingsolver’s first novel since 2000 (her 2007 title, Animal, Vegetable Mineral, was nonfiction).

Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol is the major example of a book that follows on the heels of an enormous success, but there are many more:

Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees) and her daughter team up on a memoir:

Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story
Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Kidd Taylor
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2009-09-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0670021202 / 9780670021208

Diane Ackerman follows her surprise hit, The Zookeeper’s Daugher, with a book of personal meditations.

Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
Diane Ackerman
Retail Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. – (2009-09-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0393061736 / 9780393061734


Scribner has a lot riding on their $5 million bet on Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel after The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel
Audrey Niffenegger
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Scribner – (2009-09-29)
ISBN / EAN: 1439165394 / 9781439165393

Jeannette Walls, follows the huge success of her memoir, The Glass Castle, with a “true-life novel” about her grandmother.

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel (True Life)
Jeannette Walls
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scribner – (2009-10-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1416586288 / 9781416586289

Mary Karr, one of the pioneers of the ongoing craze for memoirs, publishes her third memoir after Liar’s Club and Cherry.

Lit: A Memoir
Mary Karr
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2009-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0060596988 / 9780060596989

Greg Mortensen, publishes a sequel to Three Cups of Tea.

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Greg Mortenson
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2009-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0670021156 / 9780670021154

Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up to Eat, Pray Love arrives in January (while most of us don’t think of January as the Fall, publishers do).

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Elizabeth Gilbert
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult – (2010-01-05)
ISBN / EAN: 0670021652 / 9780670021659

Elizabeth Kostova made history in 2005 with The Historian. It’s the only debut novel to hit the NYT bestseller list at #1 during its first week on sale.

The Swan Thieves: A Novel
Elizabeth Kostova
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2010-01-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0316065781 / 9780316065788

To help you keep it all straight, we’ve put together a spreadsheet of the big names coming this fall, click here to download it.

We are also adding links to other previews of the season as they appear (see “Books of Fall ’09 — Previews” at right).

Serena Williams; Missing in Libraries

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Coming out tomorrow, to coincide with the US Open, is Serena Williams’ memoir, On the Line.

Some libraries we checked have not ordered it (it appears it was not reviewed pre-pub).

On the Line
Serena Williams
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – (2009-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0446553662 / 9780446553667

UPDATE: The audio is planned for next year, simultaneously with the paperback.

  • Unabridged edition (September 15, 2010); ISBN-13: 978-1600248573; $34.98; Hachette Audio

And, as a downloadable eBook from OverDrive.

Holds Alert: AWAIT YOUR REPLY

Monday, August 31st, 2009

The reviewers’ darling this week is Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply, the author’s second novel after two collections of short stories. Large libraries are showing heavy hold ratios on modest ordering; as high as 80 on 11 copies. The book went to #190 in Amazon sales rankings over the weekend.

In the Washington Post, Ron Charles warned,

Don’t read anything (except this) about Dan Chaon’s mesmerizing new novel…You need to step into this work of psychological suspense completely unprepared for what lurks in here. If somebody starts telling you what they liked best, put your fingers in your ears and sing: “La, la, la, la!”

He then, of course, goes right on to say what he liked best

People gave it a perfect four out of a possible four starts, which is rare for them. They are liberal with 3.5 stars, but give four-star ratings rarely.

LA times, compares Chaon favorably to other horror novelists,

…what separates his novel from the latest Stephen King tome is that he never resorts to supernatural shenanigans. He locates the source of terror within his characters’ misguided dreams. He also writes with an eloquence rarely seen in the world of page-turners, whether he’s describing “the faint scent of some mildly floral businesslike perfume” or the sensation of hope tightening within someone “like a warm, soft fist.”

Await Your Reply: A Novel
Dan Chaon
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 0345476026 / 9780345476029

Much of the pleasure of the book resides in the reader’s attempts to figure out how these disparate stories fit together.

Also downloadable from OverDrive.

And, in audio from Phoenix Books:

  • ISBN: 978-1-59777-277-8;
  • 9 CDs UNABRIDGED; $32.95 ; September 2009

CATCHING FIRE

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Topping the list of highly anticipated books for this week is a YA title, Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire, which comes out tomorrow. Large libraries are showing orders as high as 86 copies, with holds reaching 465.

Lev Grossman covers it in Time this week,

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire expose children to exactly the kind of violence we usually shield them from. But that just goes to show how much adults forget about what it’s like to be a child. Kids are physical creatures, and they’re not stupid. They know all about violence and power and raw emotions. What’s really scary is when adults pretend that such things don’t exist.

Grossman does not compare the two books, but Entertainment Weekly does, finding the second one a “decidedly weaker sequel,” despite having some “great stuff” in the second half and giving it a C (Stephen King reviewed the first book for EW, giving it a solid B).

Stephenie Meyer begs to differ. Earlier this summer, she said on her blog that Catching Fire “surpassed her expectations.”

Lionsgate purchased the movie rights to Hunger Games back in March. Last week, Publishers Weekly reported that Collins is writing the final Hunger Games installment, to be published in the fall of 2010, and will then begin work on the screenplay.

If you haven’t gotten your hands on an ARC, the following readings by the author will give you a taste:

From Chapter 2:

From Chapter 11:

The Point System

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Librarians often have to confront the refusal of a book recommendation because it doesn’t have enough points or because it’s a brand-new book for which there is no test. In the NYT BR this week, Susan Straight, a writer, reader and mom expresses my concerns in a passionate, articulate essay; Reading By the Numbers.

SHUTTER ISLAND No Longer a Fall Movie

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Originally scheduled for Oct. 2nd, the movie Shutter Island, based on the Dennis Lehane novel, has been moved to Feb 19th, effectively taking it out of the 2009 Oscar race (the LA Times already had it on their list of contenders).

The tie-in is scheduled to release this week. Should you cancel your orders? Probably not; remember that the tie-in to The Road became a bestseller last year, even though the movie ended up being rescheduled to Oct 16 of this year.

Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane
Retail Price: $7.99
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2009-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061703257 / 9780061703256

Shutter Island tie-in: A Novel
Dennis Lehane
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 0061807400 / 9780061807404

Why was Shutter Island moved? Reuters makes this stab at figuring out the logic of Hollywood (which also happens to involve a movie based on a book),

…the hidden reason for the shift could be a wild card in the late-season landscape: writer-director Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, co-written by Sheldon Turner. Air, which premieres at the Toronto Film Festival … has a tentative December 4 release date. Early buzz on the movie, and star George Clooney’s performance, is strong, so Paramount might be tempted to parlay whatever bounce the film gains in Toronto into an earlier fall release, with a push for awards recognition.

Up in the Air, about a corporate downsizing expert, is based on the novel of the same title by Walter Kirn. Random House is releasing a tie-in (no cover yet):

Up In The Air (Movie Tie-in Edition)
Walter Kirn
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Anchor – (2009-10-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0307476286 / 9780307476289

Speaking of George Clooney in movies based on books, the trailer for The Men Who Stare at Goats has just been released. The movie is scheduled to open Nov. 6.

No tie-in listed yet. It is based on a true story.

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Jon Ronson
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2006-04-04)
ISBN / EAN: 0743270606 / 9780743270601


The Cake Mix Doctor Returns

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

A new Cake Mix Doctor is making house calls beginning 9/24; most libraries we checked do not have it on order yet. Although it won’t be published for three weeks, it is currently at #50 on Amazon.

The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!: With 160 All-New Recipes
Anne Byrn
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 502 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company – (2009-09-24)
ISBN / EAN: 0761129618 / 9780761129615

The BIG Title of THE Big Fall

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The biggest title of the upcoming big season is almost upon us; Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol arrives on 9/15. It’s in the lead in number of holds at libraries as well as number of copies ordered. Orders in large libraries range from 80 to 725 copies, while holds range from 500 to 1,250. Holds are also strong on the audio and the large type editions.

The book that may catch some libraries by surprise is Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, which shows holds at over 7 per copy in several libraries.

Moore is featured in New York Magazine’s Fall Preview issue as are Jonathan Lethem (Chronic City), Stephen King (Under the Dome; holds on it are not crazy yet, but it’s not due until November), Barbara Ehrenreich (Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America), and a month-by-month listing of The Season in Books.

A Gate at the Stairs
Lorrie Moore
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0375409289 / 9780375409288

Also available in audio from BBC Audio:

  • Narrator: Mia Barron
  • 10 CD Audiobook 12 Hrs
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7927-6838-8; Sept; $94.95

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

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THE Big Fall Season

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

We heard it at BEA. Now get ready to hear it over and over again; this will be a huge fall book season. Nancy Stewart, Ingram’s lead buyer says that, in thirty years in the business, she hasn’t seen “such a dazzling lineup of quality fiction in a season.”

You can’t help but hope, as Leon Neyfakh speculated in The New York Observer a few weeks ago, that this great lineup “has the best chance of any in recent memory to redeem the industry after one of its darkest years,” a theme echoed by the  AP in yesterday’s overview of the season.

But readers are not likely to have more time on their hands this fall. Will the enormous choice actually reduce the size of the audience for each title?

For libraries, this plethora of titles by big-name authors would be a challenge in the best of times. How are you coping? Are you ordering fewer copies of each title than you normally would? Where are you placing your bets?

A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore
Homer and Langley, E.L. Doctorow
Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
The Pattern in the Carpet, Drabble
An Echo in the Bone, Diana Gabaldon
Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
Spooner, Pete Dexter
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby
Generosity, Richard Powers
Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger
A.S. Byatt, Children’s Book
Sherman Alexie, War Dances
Chronic City, Jonathan Lethem
Book of Genesis Illustrated, R. Crumb
Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk
Last Night in Twisted River, John Irving
Angel Time, Anne Rice

Senator Ted Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The big news of the day is Senator Ted Kennedy’s death yesterday. Amazon’s book blog, Omnivoracious, has an excellent run down of books about the Senator.

Kennedy’s own memoirs are coming in a little over two weeks from Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central. Editor Jonathan Karp writes about the experience of working with the Senator on the Twelve web site,

For the past two years, I’ve had the incredible opportunity of asking Senator Kennedy every question I could think of – and receiving answers that deepened my understanding of national politics and took me inside one of the most heralded families in America. His book will be a revelation, an international event, and a lasting contribution to American history.

True Compass: A Memoir
Edward M. Kennedy
Retail Price: $35.00
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Twelve – (2009-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0446539252 / 9780446539258

Nancy Pearl on NPR

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

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In case you missed it, Nancy Pearl was on NPR’s Morning Edition on Thursday, talking about mysteries you might have missed.

Listen and/or read it here.

Blogging Leads to HOMER’S ODYSSEY

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Launching today is Homer’s Odyssey, a book about a remarkable blind cat, written by her human companion, Gwen Cooper.

Homer’s Odyssey got its start on Open Salon, a “social content site” created by Salon. Users create the content, which is rated and commented on by other users.

Through her agent, Gwen Cooper had been shopping a book about her cat Homer to publishers, but there were no takers.

So, she put a sample chapter on Open Salon. The author says in her post today, “it went viral with a speed and scope that even those of us who believed in Homer’s Odyssey were unprepared for.”

Publishers took a second look, she got a book deal and, ten months later, the book is a reality.

To read the post that started it all, go to “Night of the Hunter.”

Homer’s Odyssey
Gwen Cooper
Retail Price: $20.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 038534385X / 9780385343855

Let the Guessing Begin!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Now that Oprah has announced that she will announce her next book club pick on Friday, Sept. 18th, speculation about what the pick will be is running rampant.

On Twitter, there are dozens and dozens of requests for people to sign a petition to Oprah to choose Kathy Griffin’s forthcoming memoir.  It’s uncannily timed to come out one week before the pick is announced. But, really, fat chance it’s the pick; just the title, Official Book Club Selection, would put Oprah off.

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin
Kathy Griffin
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books – (2009-09-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0345518519 / 9780345518514


The most credible speculation is around the blind ordering information that the indy bookstore, Newtonville Books in Newton MA, put on their site:

OPRAH’s 63rd Book Club Selection is a Little, Brown and Company book!
Orders due: Tuesday, 8/25
Announced 1st print: 500K
Trade Paperback
978-0-316-08637-0
$14.99/$16.99 Can.
Carton qty: 20

Putting together the information on publisher, price and format, Twitter speculators have come up with:

Say You’re One of Them
Uwem Akpan
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Back Bay Books – (2009-07-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0316113956 / 9780316113953

Akpan, a Nigerian Jesuit priest, who lives in Zimbabwe, studied writing at the University of Michigan so he could tell the stories of Africa’s troubled children. The fiction-based-on-truth stories explore such subjects as child prostitution in Gabon. The book was on many 2008 best lists. Entertainment Weekly‘s reviewer gave it the utmost praise, saying the stories are “so ravishing and sad that I regret ever wasting superlatives on fiction that was merely very good.”

Besides having the correct publisher, price and format, the book is about one of Oprah’s hot-button issues.

What about Oprah’s comment that she’s “never made a selection like ‘this'”?The Twitter speculators point out that it would be her first selection of a book of short stories, which doesn’t seem THAT big of a departure.

Another intriguing guess comes from YA author Mitali Perkins, who suggests The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It’s also a Little, Brown book, but from the Young Readers division. Unfortuately, it doesn’t fit the price criterion:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
Retail Price: $8.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers – (2009-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0316013692 / 9780316013697

We’re going for the Akpan title.

Oprah’s Next Book Pick

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

OK, that’s an unfair headline. We don’t know what Oprah’s next book club pick is, but we know when it will be announced. The AP has a story  in the current USA Today about this tweat from the Queen of Book Clubs:

Oprah Twitter Page

Hey all you BookClubbers. Tune in Friday, September 18th to find out what my new book club pick is–never made a selection like “this”.

Any guesses?