Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Holds Alert: SHAMED

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

9781594487132_85bbaLike catnip to the entire Internet, Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Penguin/Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), a book on trolls, shaming, and collective attacks, is taking off.

After his bleep-filled appearance on The Daily Show and widespread coverage in media as diverse as The New York Times and the A.V. Club, Ronson’s book is topping hold ratios of 4:1 in most libraries we checked.

The topic has wide appeal and Ronson, a proven bestselling author, is getting high praise. The Boston Globe says his book is

“ … a modern-day horror story: cringe-inducing, anxiety-provoking, and so gripping it’s impossible to put down. Although the stocks and the pillory were outlawed nearly 200 years ago, after our forebears deemed them cruel and dehumanizing, Ronson argues compellingly that the Internet has revived the practice of public humiliation and given it greater reach in recent years.”

While The New York Times claims “Without losing any of the clever agility that makes his books so winning, he has taken on truly consequential material and risen to the challenge.”

However, there is some push back. The Huffington Post says the book’s “bold claims make for delicious reading, but they depend upon the erasure of nuance and the comfortable retreat to smug self-righteousness.”

Ronson’s book is just one of several recent publications on the topic. Jennifer Jacquet’s Is Shame Necessary? (RH/Pantheon) and Shelby Steele’s Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (Perseus/Basic Books) also address the issue as pointed out in collective reviews by both The LA Times and The Washington Post.

Scott Simon Times Three

Monday, March 30th, 2015

The voice may be familiar, but not the face. Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday began moonlighting as a regular correspondent on yestaday’s CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a busy time for Simon. In addition to radio and TV, his new memoir, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) hits the shelves on Tuesday.

UnforgettableIn 2013 Simon was at his mother’s bedside as she died, tweeting about grief and his experience from the intensive-care unit. It was a vigil that played out on Twitter with millions following along. In this, his third memoir, he writes about his mother’s glamorous but difficult life, his childhood, and witnessing her death. As The Washington Post captures in its glowing review, it is an affecting story.

A Curious MindIn his debut on Sunday Morning, Simon interviews Hollywood powerhouse Brian Grazer, best known for Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and the currently hot Fox show Empire, who is also publishing a  new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (S&S; S&S Audio; April 7) co-written with Charles Fishman. In it, he explores the power of curiosity and open-mindedness in his career, which has also allowed him to conduct “curiosity conversations” with Barack Obama and Eminem among hundreds of others.

Unfortunately, the embed code for the segment does not work; watch it here.

As a result of the show, Grazer’s book rose to #49 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Currently holds are light for both titles but expect demand as the PR machines rev up for each.

J.K. Rowling’s Chamber of Secrets

Friday, March 27th, 2015

9781849669740J.K. Rowling wrote a song for Nearly Headless Nick to sing in The Chamber of Secrets but deleted it during edits; the dementors were less of a threat in the early drafts of The Prisoner of Azkaban; pages from David Guterson’s East of the Mountains hid The Order of the Phoenix from prying eyes.

1357-apr032015_0These are but three of the revelations in J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013, a 544 page scholarly work by Philip W. Errington (Bloosmbury Academic; April 23, 2015; ISBN 9781849669740) with a price tag of $128 that has made the cover of the April 3rd edition of Entertainment Weekly. We’re willing to bet this is the first time an academic book has made the cover (it’s in the burst, just above the photo of a goat eating Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s dress}.

Errington is the director for children’s books at Sotheby’s auction house and has spent five years working on the bibliography, according to The Guardian. It provides full details of each edition of the Harry Potter books, which are numerous due to the varying adult and children’s covers, the UK vs. US texts, and the multiple foreign translations.

Perhaps of most interest to readers will be his account of how the Harry Potter books were revised and edited (which EW excepts in their story), including a secret code and a dead letter drop in a bar to pass along one manuscript, how Rowling got sick of re-reading the books during edits, and the massive efforts to maintain continuity between the series titles which resulted in a detailed file termed “the HP bible.”

Like Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, published by South Dakota Historical Society Press, another academic book that found a popular fan-base, Errington’s book is likely to hold appeal beyond its intended audience of researchers and book dealers.

Based on WorldCat, orders are very light but expect demand. Not every denizen of Rowling’s huge fan base can afford the steep academic price and will turn to their local library for the keys to this chamber of secrets.

It’s a Three Author Week for
Jon Stewart

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart showcases three authors this week.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.45.11 AMMonday started with a bang as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs Reformation Now (Harper), was interviewed by Stewart, who clearly does not agree with her book’s thesis. Excerpted on ABC News, it opens with the assertion that “Islam is not a religion of peace” and goes on to criticize the faith with a broad brush and to suggest five reforms. Stewart pushes hard against the idea that Islam is different in its history of struggle over definition than other religions, pointing out that the Christian Reformation led to over a hundred years of violence triggered by a desire for a purer form of faith. While Hirsi Ali kept to her guns, Stewart was not convinced. The book is rising on Amazon, moving in to the top fifty bestsellers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.44.39 AMSure to be a much lighter segment, Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), returns to the show tonight. It will be his third appearance with Stewart and based on past interviews the two obviously appreciate each other. Ronson’s book, which will be released early next week, is timely given the current focus on the shaming culture, most centrally highlighted by Monica Lewinsky.
The comic satirist, as Stewart dubs him, has spent years meeting those who have been shamed and those doing the shaming and writes about the fallout on the victims and society as a whole. Ronson’s book was excerpted in the 2/12 NYT Magazine.

By the way, it was recently announced that Scarlett Johanson has signed to star in the film adaptation of Ronson’s earlier book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. He also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats (S&S, 2004), which was the basis for the 2010 movie starring George Clooney.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.46.17 AMJohn Hargrove ends the week with his appearance on Thursday. He will discuss Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish (Palgrave Macmillan; BOT Audio).

Hargrove worked for Sea World and was featured in the searing documentary Blackfish. Kirkus calls his account of his years as a trainer and his current advocacy efforts to change laws regarding orcas in captivity “a shocking, aggressively written marine park exposé.” Hargrove was also a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday which sent his book racing up the Amazon charts.

Coming In Print

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Called a “scathing report” by the NYT when it was issued earlier this month, the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Ferguson, Mo. Police Department concluded that  it “had been routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.”

The not-for-profit publisher New Press just announced that they will publish print and eBook versions in July that will include an introduction by Theodore M. Shaw, a former president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. More details available in the publisher’s press release. The ISBN is 978-1620971604.

The 102-page report is freely available online but major findings such as this are often published later in book form. Last December Melville House published The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. Many libraries bought paper copies of that report or provided access via OverDrive and several still have copies in circulation.

One spot of good news about Ferguson was the library’s response. Director Scott Bonner kept the building open, even providing space for classes when the schools were closed. As a result, donations poured in, enabling him to hire a children’s librarian.

Bonner was recently named a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker.

UPDATE: Bonner has also won the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity, announced on March 24th. The prize will be presented by the founder of the award, Daniel Handler and author Jacqueline Woodson at this summer’s ALA annual conference in San Francisco.

RA Alert: The “Captivatingly Creepy” AMERICAN GHOST

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

9780062249210_c3fa3-2 A literary nonfiction ghost story that is part family history, part haunted house story, and part investigative journalism, American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus, (Harper; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) sounds like the kind of book readers devour.

As we reported last week, Entertainment Weekly is hot for the title, selecting it as one of their “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015.” They follow up by interviewing Nordhaus. Calling the book “captivatingly creepy.” they offer this quick, R.A.-worthy summary,

Hannah Nordhaus discovers that her great-great-grandmother, Julia Staab, is New Mexico’s most famous ghost, haunting a Santa Fe hotel called La Posada. Backed by an army of psychics and ghosthunters, a crumbling family diary, and a frontier-sized heap of curiosity, Nordhaus sets out to discover who Julia was—and why her spirit has stuck around for all these years.

American Ghost has earned starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, which enticingly details Nordhaus’s research process.

She consults a variety of self-appointed supernatural experts—psychics, tarot-card readers, mediums, and dowsers—as well as more traditional sources such as newspaper archives, family diaries, and aging relatives. She also visits the settings of her grandmother’s life, from villages in Germany to the deserts of New Mexico where the Staabs lived.

It was featured on Sante Fe’s News 13:

It is also getting attention in print publications, including the Sante Fe New MexicanThe Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Boston Globe (subscription required), and is on Elle magazine’s list of “The 7 Must-Read Books Of March.”

Holds are strong on light orders in libraries we checked.


Sunday, March 15th, 2015

9780805099263_ac285The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Monday features Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harpers magazine and the author of a book about a hot button issue, drone strikes, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, (Macmillan/Holt; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Cockburn also appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week. He explained that the title is a common term in the military, describing the steps taken to identify and eventually hit a target. Drones can shorten the time that takes, but sometimes with unintended and terrible consequences.

Holds Alert: Social Security Demystified

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 8.34.13 AMIt might seem that Social Security benefits are pretty straight forward. Not so, says Boston University economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff who found the 2,728 core rules so confusing that he created a service called Maximize My Social Security. He also put together a book Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). It has become such a success, according to the New York Times, that it quickly rose to #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings and was sold out. Now back in print, it also just broke onto the 3/22 NYT Advice & How Bestseller List.

One of the book’s co-authors, Paul Solmon, is a PBS Financial News Correspondent. He featured some of the secrets from the book on the PBS NewsHour recently.


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

After “causing a ruckus at the Sundance Film festival” in January, the documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief  by Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney is set to air on HBO on March 29.

Going ClearThe film is based on the 2013 book by Lawrence Wright (RH/Knopf; RH Audio, BOT; OverDrive Sample) which was called by Salon, “a masterpiece of in-depth reporting packed to the brim with insane details and shocking revelations” and was a National Book Award finalist.

The film features several former high-ranking members of Scientology who allege that the church uses slave labor and abuses those who dare to try to leave. The Church of Scientology struck back with ads in the New York Times.

Below is the HBO trailer.


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.15.35 AMBettyville by George Hodgman (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike; OverDrive Sample) is getting increased attention. The just released memoir by a former editor for Vanity Fair and book editor for Henry Holt who moves from NYC to tiny Paris, Missouri to care for his aging and ill mother, has already been featured in a profile in  The New York Times, which called it,

 “… a most remarkable, laugh-out-loud book … Rarely has the subject of elder care produced such droll human comedy, or a heroine quite on the mettlesome order of Betty Baker Hodgman … For as much as the book works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery), it is the strong-willed Betty who shines through.”

Yesterday, Terry Gross conducted a lengthy interview with Hodgman on Fresh Air. When asked about how he works to make his mother happy, Hodgman shared that they watch Dirty Dancing every week and “I started giving her books to read. We started with Nicholas Sparks. I don’t think there is anybody in this world who is more thankful for Nicholas Sparks than I am.”

The memoir is also People magazine’s “Book of the Week,” saying, “Slowly — convincingly — [Hodgman and his mother] come to terms with each other. You won’t finish their tale dry-eyed.”

Check your holds, some libraries have ratios over 5 to 1.


Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 8.09.04 AM Chris Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, is writing a memoir entitled American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal (HarperCollins/Morrow; Blackstone Audio). Co-written by Jim DeFelice who also co-wrote American Sniper, it will be released on May 4, 2015.

Publicity has already begun. ABC announced yesterday that Robin Roberts will interview Kyle on both Good Morning America and 20/20 on May 1, days before the book’s release.

The LA Times’ “Jacket Copy” reported the news as well, tying the book to Chris Kyle’s own bestselling memoir, pe2015-01-30-recap-thumbwhich continues to dominate best seller lists after the release of Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film version of American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper. Taya Kyle worked with the screenwriter and consulted on the film.

She was in the news last month when she testified at the  trial of her husband’s killer and has been featured in stories in People, US Weekly, and NPR.

Check your orders; some libraries have not ordered it yet and most have ordered it modestly. You can expect to be seeing more of the media savvy Taya Kyle.

The “Savvy Gap”

Monday, March 9th, 2015

9781476769899_07126Robert Putnam one of the co-authors of the influential book on American culture, Bowling Alone, was interviewed on  NPR’s Weekend Edition. about his new bookOur Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,  (S&S). He explains his term the “savvy gap,” saying that widening inequality in the U.S. is partially a result of poor people lacking knowledge of “the opportunities and challenges around them. They lack savvy. They don’t lack IQ, they lack savvy.”

The book is also being reviewed widely, in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post and by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker and moved up Amazon’s sales rankings over the weekend as a result. It’s now at #107.

DEAD WAKE Times Three

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

9780307408860_3b120One of the most-anticipated books of the season, Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, (RH/Crown; RH and BOT Audio; RH Large Print) arrives next week. Known for his skill in spinning a great narrative from dimly-remembered bits of history, Larson tackles the story of the German sinking of the luxury liner the Lusitania, an act that eventually brought the US into WW I.

It gets triple advance coverage including the cover of Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, an early review from Janet Maslin in the daily New York Times and the main review in Entertainment Weekly’s Book Section (not online yet).

Surprisingly, both the Book Review and Entertainment Weekly find most fascinating the villain of the piece, the German U-boat commander who gave the order to torpedo the luxury liner, sinking it in 18 minutes and killing 1,200.

It will hardly matter that both Maslin and the Book Review report that this is a lesser book than the author’s previous titles. As Maslin says, “Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction. In book after book, he’s proved adept at rescuing weird and wonderful gothic tales from the shadows of history.” Check your holds.

NPR also offers an “Exclusive First Read” and and interview with Larson is scheduled for the upcoming Weekend Edition Saturday.

Larson’s video, below, includes archival film of the Lusitania.

More HAWK Flying Your way

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 7.40.38 AMThe sudden attention to Helen Macdonald’s memoir H is for Hawk (Grove Press; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) has resulted in the book being out of stock at many wholesalers.

We’ve checked with the publisher who says a new printing is coming by the end of the week and yet another next week.

Those copies are sure to be snapped up as the media continues its blitz. The New Yorker has a piece on it in this week’s issue (with a headline that puts to shame all our attempts at hawkish puns, “Rapt“), the author was interviewed on NPR’s midday news program Here and Now yesterday and several other sources including Time magazine have stories in the works.

9781590172490Also keep your eyes open for requests another book. The New Yorker describes H is for Hawk as “one part grief memoir, one part guide to raptors, and one part biography of T. H. White, who chronicled his maiden effort at falconry in
The Goshawk, written just before he began work
on The Once and Future King.”

The Goshawk is available from the New York Review of Books Classics.

Jennifer Lawrence,
War Photographer

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.14.02 AMJennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games, Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook) is set to star as a combat photojournalist in an adaptation of Lynsey Addario’s just released memoir,  It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War (Penguin, Feb. 10; OverDrive Sample). Stephen Spielberg is attached to direct.

Warner Bros. won what Deadline characterizes as a “whirlwind auction” for the film rights, adding”The memoir has been the hot title since it was excerpted by The New York Times Magazine, and there were no shortage of bidders for the life of a woman who goes into the most dangerous places in the world in search of truth.”

The book has also been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, Elle, Entertainment Weekly, Time, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and it debuted at #11 on the 3/8 NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list.

Below, Addario appears on The Daily Show: