Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

The Oprah of Audio

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

9781328683786_afbafFollowing an appearance on the Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda this morning,  Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss (HMH; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings. It hits shelves Dec. 6 and is currently #20 on the bookseller’s Best Seller list.

Ferriss calls himself a “serial entrepreneur” and hosts a self-help podcast which has been downloaded over 80 millions times, earning him the title the “Oprah of Audio.” He is perhaps best known for The 4-Hour Work Week (PRH/Harmony, 2009) which was a #1 New York Times bestseller.

His newest book is a collection of outtakes from his podcast interviews with well-known figures such as Glenn Beck, Margaret Cho, Jamie Foxx, Malcolm Gladwell, and Cheryl Strayed. In the publisher’s description, Ferriss calls the book his “ultimate notebook of high-leverage tools” and goes on to say that it has “changed my life, and I hope the same for you.”

With a massive social media presence, Ferriss is his own PR machine and holds for the book are topping 4:1 ratios at several libraries we checked.

Linguistic Evolution

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

9781627794718_2f2faA new book and an academic study on shifts in language investigate how it evolves over time.

Salon interviews Columbia University linguist John McWhorter on his book Words on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally) (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample), asking him to explain current shifts in word choices and meaning – and why we are so resistant to those alterations.

Oddly enough, part of the answer lies in reading. He says, 

“we think of language as what’s on the page. That’s the real thing; speaking is just an approximation … [when] we hear new things … they’re processed as vulgar and as broken. We don’t understand that no language could ever sit still … It’s so hard to perceive this but the way Old English became this English is the same thing that’s happening to this English now. We wouldn’t have wanted those changes not to happen, so why do we want those changes not to happen now?”

 

In the video below McWhorter explains how reading, print books, and spoken language have evolved and challenge each other.

Proving the topic is in the air, The New York Times also reports on the use of language changing over time, specifically how it shifts based on the national mood. A new study finds evidence that the use of positive words such as “awesome,” “pretty” and “grace” “may change depending on objective circumstances, such as war and poverty, as well as subjective happiness.” The study looked at terms used in “1.3 million texts in Google Books and 14.9 million New York Times articles.”

Kelly and Sanders
Prove Politics Sells

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

9780062494603_df2feThe Fox News host and political touchstone Megyn Kelly lands at #1 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Sellers list this week with her memoir Settle for More (HarperCollins/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample).

The book got a boost beyond her own built-in audience with the news that she writes about Donald Trump’s bribery attempt to bribe her as well as others in the press. As we have written previously, Vanity Fair‘s headline on the story asserts, that, by holding this information until after the election, Kelly “Blew The Goodwill She’s Built,” as an “improbable feminist icon” and one of the strongest voices standing up to Trump during the election.

Adding to the publicity, USA Today reports that Amazon has deleted “several politically motivated negative reviews … after a flood of one-star ratings drew media attention.” Writing that “This scary phenomenon essentially means that a small, angry, vocal group can flood a space with fringe views that masquerade as majority opinion,” Slate reports that “a whopping 76 percent of the [reviews] were one-star.”

9781250132925_2fc19On Kelly’s heels is the new political call to arms from Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). It debuts at #3.

The Wall Street Journal writes that both books are selling, reporting that “In the first six days on bookstore shelves, Ms. Kelly’s memoir sold 64,000 copies, while former Democratic presidential contender Sen. Sanders’s book sold 45,000 copies.” The article goes on quote Sanders’s publisher as saying “He’s been waiting nearly his entire life to give this message to huge audiences … Happily, they’re buying books.” As for Kelly, one independent book store owner told the paper, “People are interested in her book because she was right in the middle of everything.”

First Trailer for
ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

The film adaptation of The Zookeeper’s Wife the true story of the valiant couple who rescued 300 Jews from the Nazis by hiding them in the bombed Warsaw Zoo (see the NYT review of the book here), is set for release on March 31, 2017.

The first trailer was released today.

It stars Jessica Chastain who wrote in an essay in The Hollywood Reporter‘s special “Women in Entertainment” issue, that although women make up only 20% of the crew of The Zookeeper’s Wife, that’s “way more” than any film she’s ever worked on. As a result, she said, “You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated.”

A trade paperback tie-in will be released in February

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story
Diane Ackerman
(Norton;  February 7, 2017)

Black Deaths Matter

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

9780316312479_e13eeGrabbing media attention, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), is a debut book by Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, part of a team who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for WP‘s coverage of police shootings.

The NYT review says it is “electric,” in part “because it is so well reported, so plainly told and so evidently the work of a man who has not grown a callus on his heart.”

It is a book, says the paper, with “a warm, human tone” that details the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray; explores racial conditions, in the wake of all the police shootings and the Barack Obama’s presidency; and introduces “a new generation of black activists” and the black reporters who cover them and the events they are protesting.

Lowery was on NPR’s Morning Edition yesterday talking, in part, about the implications of the election:

“One thing that was remarkable about the election of President Obama was that he did so with a rhetoric and with an ideal that we were not a divided America. It’s fundamental to his ideology of American exceptionalism. What’s been remarkable is that Donald Trump ran on an ideology and a platform that we are in fact a divided America, that there is an us vs. them, that we need to take something back from people who have seized it from us.”

Expect more attention. It is on multiple most anticipated lists including New York Magazine‘s and is getting coverage in newspapers from coast to coast, including the Boston Globe (subscription may be required), Chicago Tribune, which calls it a “behind-the-scenes narrative” of the “black death beat,” and the Seattle Times. Even other countries are taking notice, such as Macleans in Canada and the BBC in the UK.

Holds Alert: OUR REVOLUTION

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Bernie SandersSenator Bernie Sanders’s book, releasing today, is #1 on Amazon and is racking up holds in libraries, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan Thomas Dunne Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample),

Holds ratios are topping 5:1 in libraries that have ordered copies while others have yet to place orders, perhaps due to a lack of pre-pub reviews. Sanders, who is emerging as the leader of the Trump opposition, is getting high profile media coverage, which is driving sales and holds.

He was on CBS This Morning yesterday and his appearance there is currently the #1 trending video on YouTube:

He also sat down with Stephen Colbert last night (the full interview spans two clips):

NPR’s All Things Considered featured Sanders as well (see below for audio). He has also recently been on The View, Face the Nation, and many other network and cable news shows.

As we wrote earlier, the book recounts Sanders’ primary fight and offers a call to arms to continue his revolution.

More Books to Understand
the Election

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Following our post yesterday on election-related titles rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, the NYT published an article “6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win.” Those titles are now rising on Amazon as well.

The following are in the top 200:

Hillbilly ElegySales rank: 2 (was 5)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample)

At the top of nonfiction best seller lists since August, the NYT calls it, “a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion.”

9781620972250_2d0ceSales rank: 26 (was 279)
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, (The New Press, 2016; OverDrive Sample)

A finalist for the National Book Awards, to be named next week, the NYT says the author “takes seriously the Tea Partiers’ complaints that they have become the ‘strangers’ of the title — triply marginalized by flat or falling wages, rapid demographic change, and liberal culture that mocks their faith and patriotism. Her affection for her characters is palpable.”

White TrashSales rank: 65 (was 404)
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg (PRH/Viking; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample)

NYT best seller for several weeks this summer, reaching a high of #8, is described by the NYT as  “an analysis of the intractable caste system that lingers below the national myths of rugged individualism and cities on hills. ”

9780374102418_d256aSales rank: 81 (was 3,196)
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample)

Winner of the National Book Award in 2013, the NYT says that even though the book is now 3 years old, it is possibly the one “that best explains the American that elected Donald J. Trump”

9781627795395_ad7ff-2Sales rank: 129 (was 1,678)
Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? , Thomas Frank.  (Macmillan. Metropolitan Books, 2015; Macmillan audio; ; OverDrive Sample)

Rather than blaming the alt right for the disaffection of the white working class, this book argues that liberals should look at themselves, “Too busy attending TED talks and vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Frank argues, the Democratic elite has abandoned the party’s traditional commitments to the working class.”

The more academic book on the list is currently at #553.

9780997126440_25083The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, John B. Judis, (Columbia Global Reports, 2016)

Argues that Trump is not a fascist, but a “nasty nationalist,” resembling “the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the buffoonish media baron,” rather than Mussolini.

Turning to Books to
Understand the Election

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

9780399594496_ac64d  Hillbilly Elegy  9781620972250_2d0ce

On the day after the election, Amazon’s sales rankings indicate people are turning to books to make sense of the Trump win. Trump’s own book from 2004 , Trump: The Art of the Deal (PRH/Ballantine) rose to #65. Trump’s co-writer on the book, Tony Schwartz, is now a Trump critic and says he regrets the role the book played in building the Trump image.

Already a best seller and widely regarded as the book that helps explain what fuels the anger of many among the white working class, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) moved from #13 to #3.

An examination of the Tea Party, the National Book Award finalist, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild, (The New Press, 2016, NYT review) also shows a significant uptick.

We can expect to see many more books on the subject in the upcoming months.

Voting for Cake

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

9781623365431_3656aWhat is the perfect election night dessert? NPR’s The Salt suggests it could be American cake, rather than the more expected American pie.

The foodie site focuses on Anne Byrn’s American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes (Macmillan/Rodale; OverDrive Sample).

Byrn is best known for her Cake Mix Doctor baking books but here turns her attention to the history of American cakes and the way their flavors and ingredients reflect the changes in our history.

The Salt turns that culinary history lesson into a moment to celebrate not just cakes, but their presidential role and the way they reflect our immigrant foundations.

Calling the book a “a coast-to-coast trail of crumbs,” the site says “American Cake takes the reader on a flour-dusted, chronological journey from the era of colonial gingerbread to today’s over-frosted towers. Byrn makes for an expert guide, deftly folding history, literary trivia, Americana and origin stories for 125 iconic cakes, while providing modernized recipes for each of them.”

Byrn says “Cake is an icon of American culture,” and The Salt ends the story with a listing of favorite presidential treats. Bill Clinton loves carrot cake while Andrew Jackson favored Blackberry jam cake (Byrn has recipes for both).

Some presidents liked pie best. Abraham Lincoln enjoyed peach while Barack Obama turns to nectarine (sadly, Byrn follows the current political divide and provides no recipes for pie).

Readers are voting with holds. At every library we checked, all copies are in circulation and reserve lists are present, some topping 3:1 ratios.

Medicare Hacks

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

9781501124006_512c9With open enrollment commercials prompting seniors to consider their Medicare choices for the upcoming year, Get What’s Yours for Medicare: Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs, Philip Moeller (S&S; OverDrive Sample) is getting attention and rising on Amazon.

USA Today says Moeller, a research fellow at the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College and a contributor to PBS, “aims to demystify a confusing system and help consumers make smart choices” and offers a brief interview.

The Washington Post offers an interview as well, starting with a request to explain the options in Medicare.

Forbes also pushes the book, in a short piece written by Moeller’s co-author on the NYT bestseller Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (a book that had such an impact it led to changes in Social Security rules).

The book has jumped over 700 other titles on Amazon, rising to #155 from #901. Libraries we checked are in a good position for holds but demand is likely to increase once the election ends and seniors turn their attention to the looming enrollment deadline for key parts of the plan.

The Wonders of Technology

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

9780226381039_fdcd5Why the Wheel Is Round: Muscles, Technology, and How We Make Things Move, Steven Vogel (University of Chicago Press) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, reaching a high position for a university press science book. It is currently ranked #228, up from #1,227.

The big jump coincides with a glowing review in The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required) that says Vogel’s posthumous last book (he died in 2015), is “wonderful … in the literal sense of the word, full of wonders of nature, human invention, history and the sheer joy of looking at the world through the eyes of a keen—and amiable—scientific observer.”

Reviewer Stephen Budiansky, author of Code Warriors: NSA’s Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union, continues, calling the work “intriguing, insightful and revealing … [a] marvelous and frequently entertaining exploration of the science of everyday things, illuminating why many of the things (both living and man-made) that we take for granted are the way they are.”

97802261047759780393319903_300While none of the libraries we checked have yet ordered Vogel’s newest (it appears that there were no pre-pub reviews), interest in his other works mentioned in the article, The Life of a Leaf (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and Cats’ Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People (Norton, 2000; OverDrive Sample), is clear. As an example, in one library we checked, every copy of The Life of a Leaf is either currently checked out or on hold.

Post-Transition Publishing

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

Regardless of what happens on election day, several people are set to win big book contracts.

The Wall Street Journal reports that everyone from Vice President Joe Biden to Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway have the opportunity to write books for large payouts (subscription maybe required).

Of course, the big prize authors are the President and First Lady.

97803072376999781400082773_4e504The President has already proven his writing chops with The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream and Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (both from PHR/Crown). He still has one book left under his contract with Crown. WSJ reports it is “not clear” whether that third book will be his hotly anticipated presidential memoir and the publisher declined to comment.

That leaves open the slim possibility of a bidding war for the Presidential memoir. Based on Obama’s previous efforts, it is likely to be a more interesting book than any that have come before, just as his pre-election Dreams from My Father was not a typical candidate biography.

One editor told the paper “This is a book that will be read in 100 years.”

9781250132925_2fc19Bidding wars will have to wait until his term has concluded however, and others, such as Conway, have their hands full until after the election.

In the meantime, a new book by Bernie Sanders comes out on Nov. 15, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne) and Former Attorney General Eric Holder has already sold a book project, Pursuing Justice, for seven figures to PRH/One World.

The NYT Genre Round-Up

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Eighteen genre novels get featured in a series of three new overviews in this week’s NYT book section.

9780393292329_f9284The novelist Charles Finch takes on thrillers, casting a critical eye over some of the offerings but deeply enjoying The Fall Guy, James Lasdun (Norton; OverDrive Sample), about two men caught up in a competition over a woman, one of whom is destined to fulfill the title.

Finch calls it “exceptionally entertaining … a cross of literary fiction, thriller and mystery” that reads like “early Ian McEwan or late Patricia Highsmith.”

He says that Lasdun cleverly crafts the story, “His clues never seem like clues until they bind tightly around one of the three leads” and that the novel is “exactly what a literary thriller should be: intelligent, careful, swift, unsettling.”

It is also a November Indie Next pick.

tf_cover_sm-400x600Reviewing six Horror titles, film critic Terrence Rafferty (who wrote a piece on Thrillers featuring killer women in June) very much likes  the small press offering The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde), the story of two grief-burdened fisherman who cast their lines in possibly magical waters.

He calls it “superb” and says that Langan “manages to sustain the focused effect of a short story or a poem over the course of a long horror narrative.”

Rafferty continues that the novel is “unusually dense with ideas and images” and full of “elegant prose.” In the end, he says, readers feel a “sad urgency on every page” of this “strange and terrifying” tale.

9781681772400_77f74In her largely non-committal survey of six True-Crime offerings, Marilyn Stasio picks The Thieves of Threadneedle Street: The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England (Norton/ Pegasus; OverDrive Sample), Nicholas Booth as a good bet.

It is the tale of a masterful 19th century forgery case that Stasio calls a “jaunty caper” led by a man who was no stranger to international long cons.

How To Rule The World

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Two professors of politics at New York University have written a hot title, The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith (Perseus/PGW/Legato/PublicAffairs; Tantor Media; OverDrive Sample).

The cynical and insightful guide to ruling was first published in 2011, but is gaining new attention thanks to a video that has gone viral:

The new exposure has caused the book to make an astounding leap on the Amazon rankings. Like a corrupt wanna-be ruler, it has conducted a coup on the list and moved from #63,499 to #2 yesterday. It is now at #40.

In their 2011 review, WSJ compared it to Freakonomics and called it “lucidly written, shrewdly argued.” [subscription may be required].

RBG On PBS

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

9781501145247_4fd79There have been several books about the Notorious RBG, also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The first book written by her, appropriately titled, My Own Words (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on this week’s hardcover NYT nonfiction best seller list.

She was the focus of the most recent edition of the NewsHour Bookshelf. Gwen Ifill interviews Ginsburg, opening with a question on how she became a cult icon.

Ginsburg says it has been “utterly amazing” and credits a second year law student at NYU who started the Notorious RBG Tumbler blog, posting Ginsburg’s dissent to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (that post eventually led to a book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, HarperCollins/Dey Street Books, an unexpected hit last year).

Ifill says her reputation as a “folk hero” also has something to do with the way she writes and takes on her colleagues.

Ginsburg also says that until Jimmy Carter’s presidency it was unrealistic that a woman could ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. When she graduated there was not a single woman on any Federal bench. Carter, although he never got to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, changed that by appointing women to the Federal bench, paving the way for Ginsburg.

As we noted earlier, Ginsburg wears a special collar when she is on the dissenting side. The end of the PBS piece reveals she wears a gold lace one when she is with the majority opinion.

Holds to copies are not huge, but some systems are showing spikes of 5:1 ratios.