Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Order Alert: For Fans of SERIAL

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

9781250087102_f6366The many fans of the podcast SERIAL may not have realized they owe thanks to Rabia Chaudry, a woman who has worked tirelessly to free her friend Adnan Sayed from prison. Believing he was wrongly accused of murdering his high school girlfriend, Chandry approached Sarah Koenig of This American Life in hopes of bringing more attention to the case. The result was the podcast, which became a huge success.

SERIAL did not arrive at a definitive conclusion on Sayed’s innocence or guilt. He is still imprisoned and Chaudry has not given up. She will publish a book  in September, Adnan’s Story: Murder, Justice, and The Case That Captivated a Nation (St. Martin’s Press). Entertainment Weekly reports  it is being written with Syed’s cooperation, quoting him from a press release, “As someone connected to me, my family, my community, my lawyers, and my investigation, there is no one better to help tell my story, and no one that I trust more to tell it, than Rabia.”

Available for pre-sale now on Amazon, it is already #17 in the True Crime Biography category.

The Roots of ISIS

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

www.randomhouse.comAuthor and reporter Joby Warrick appeared on PBS Newshour last night to discuss the Paris attacks and this history of ISIS. In September, he published Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (PRH/Doubleday; BOT; OverDrive Sample). It rose to #220 on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of the show.

During the interview, Warrick explained the roots of the terrorist group:

“…to a lot of people … ISIS seemed to come out of nowhere last year. And the truth is, there is a very long and complicated story behind this organization. It’s quite different from al-Qaida. It’s always been a different stripe, but its story goes back into prisons in Jordan in the 1990s and with individuals who became radicalized and became very different from this message of al-Qaida about sort of driving out their Western powers from the Middle East.”

The Washington Post selected Black Flags as one of their 10 Best Books of 2015. In libraries, holds vary widely with large local spikes in some systems and steady circulation in others.

Bill Gates Reviews

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Thing ExplainerTrade reviews skipped over Randall Munroe’s newest book, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (HMH; OverDrive Sample), but Bill Gates steps in, posting on his blog a glowing endorsement of Munroe’s mix of illustrations and information.

Gates calls the detailed and over-sized drawings accompanied by clear explanations using common words a “brilliant concept” and “a wonderful guide for curious minds.” He goes on to say that Munroe reminds him “of Sal Khan of Khan Academy, or the novelist and Crash Course host John Green … polymaths who not only know a lot but are also good at breaking things down for other people.”

Thing Explainer is already in Amazon’s Top 100 (at #82). Munroe’s previous book, What If? (HMH, 2014) was on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list for over 40 weeks, and debuted at #1 during its first week of publication.

Holds are not strong yet for the new book. but expect them to grow. Monroe is getting attention, including a profile in the Wall Street Journal where he says that his favorite research technique is “googling a few search terms plus ‘pdf.’ It’s amazing what’s buried in old, poorly digitized PDFs hosted on some random professor’s website.”

The entire interview is likely to have readers googling – it is full of curiosities, including strange cloud formations and an odd animal that looks like be a cross between a cat and a lemur.

A Literary Tribute

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

moveable_feastErnest Hemingway’s memoir of his time in Paris, A Moveable Feast, is fast becoming a testimony to the city he loved and is being used, along with flowers and candles, as both a token of mourning and as a symbol of defiance in the face of terrorism.

The memoir’s title in French is Paris est une fete — or “Paris is a party.” NPR reports that the memoir is being used as a memorial on the one week anniversary of the recent terrorist attacks, because it celebrates “Paris as an exciting place of ideas, a nexus of people who love life and the arts. The book is set in the 1920s, as Paris recovered from the oppressions of World War I.”

It is flying off the shelves in bookstores in Paris and, according to Bloomberg Business, is “the fastest-selling biography and foreign-language book at online retailer Daily orders of the memoir … have risen 50-fold to 500 since Monday, according to publisher Folio.”

Closer to home, US readers are following suit, checking out the book in sufficient quantities that a small holds list is growing in many libraries we checked.

To support readers’ needs to mark the tragedy and re-discover a city and country unmarred by terror, librarians are putting together multi-media displays on Paris, including audiobooks and film, as Katie McLain, Reference Assistant at the Waukegan Public Library, shared in the most recent CODES Conversations hosted by the Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee of RUSA/CODES (see the searchable archive on the sign-up page).

Holds Alert: SPQR

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

9780871404237_71430Featured on the cover of the NYT’s Sunday Book Review, Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Norton/Liveright; OverDrive Sample) is racing ahead of copies ordered, with holds ratios raging from 6:1 on the low end to over 16:1 on the high end in libraries we checked.

Beard, perhaps better known in the UK where she is a classics professor at Cambridge University, is similar to Neil deGrasse Tyson here – a noted expert in a field many people are interested in but don’t know as much about as they would like.

Beard does for ancient Rome what Tyson does for space, offering an accessible and fascinating history that grips readers through stories, arguments, and contrary opinions (Cleopatra likely did not commit suicide via snake bite).

In the NYT’s author Ferdinand Mount heaps praise on Beard and explains the title, saying:

In SPQR, her wonderful concise history, Mary Beard unpacks the secrets of the city’s success with a crisp and merciless clarity that I have not seen equaled anywhere else. (The title comes from the Roman catchphrase Senatus Populusque Romanus — the Senate and People of Rome.)

The Guardian reviews it as well, under a headline that calls it “vastly engaging,” and The Atlantic says it is “magisterial.” Dwight Garner, reviewing for the daily NYT‘s said Beard is “charming company” and suggested this book might be her breakout moment in the US.

Both Time and Smithsonian offer interviews. Beard, rather a gadfly in the UK, answers a question from Time about in which era she would most like to live throughout history with this:

“I would not pick any. I’m a woman! It’s just about conceivable to me that a man might be able to find someplace, but it would all be a hell! There’s no political rights, death in childbirth, and no aspirin! Never. I like now.”

ME BEFORE YOU Release Date Moves, Again

Friday, November 20th, 2015

9780670026609-1Fans of Jojo Moyes can celebrate. The release date for the film adaptation of her novel Me Before You (Penguin/Pamela Dorman) is being moved –  once again.

This time, however, the film sill arrive in theaters earlier than expected, on March 4 rather than the previously announced June 3.

Deadline reports the change is designed to “hook women, particularly those off from college and high school on spring break.”

Starring Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games), it is directed by Thea Sharrock. This will be her first feature film, after directing the BBC miniseries The Hollow Crown and Call The Midwife. Moyes wrote the screenplay.

As we wrote in May, this is the not the first release date adjustment for the film. The June 3 date was major delay from its original Aug. 21, 2015 release date.

According to Deadline, the move puts the film into direct competition with several other anticipated movies, including Tina Fey’s untitled war comedy based on Kim Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan (in her review of this “darkly funny” war reporter’s memoir, the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani presciently called the author a “sort of Tina Fey character, who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to the adrenaline rush of war.”)

A movie-tie in edition of Me Before You is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2016:

Me Before You: A Novel (Movie Tie-In) by Jojo Moyes
Penguin Books
On Sale Date: January 26, 2016
ISBN 9780143109464
$16.00 USD, $21.00 CAD


Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

9781400067657_373ddAn embargo prevented pre-pub reviews for Jon Meacham’s newest Presidential biography, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush (Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).The media managed to get their hands on the book, however, and the story that the elder President Bush called Dick Cheney an “iron-ass” became the talking point of last week’s 24-hour news shows. As a result, holds are generally topping 5:1 in places we checked, with local spikes running much higher.

Now that the book has been released, reviews have begun to appear. The newest daily NYT reviewer, Jennifer Senior, calls the biography “absorbing” and “artful” and says that Meacham is “clearly possessed of the same judiciousness and diplomatic skills as his subject.”

But Senior pulls no punches when Meacham “turns a blind eye to unflattering events,” offering a number of examples including the following about  the fallout after Katrina:

“Forget whether this blistering attack was justified. What’s interesting here is the incident Mr. Meacham does not mention: that the former first lady Barbara Bush, after touring the Houston Astrodome and seeing thousands of evacuees living in squalor, told NPR, “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.” How could he have left that out?”

Jim Kelly reviews the book for the NYT’s Sunday Book Review saying:

“Meacham’s access and lack of ideological fervor allow him to paint Bush the man in unusually subtle colors … Destiny and Power reflects the qualities of both subject and biographer: judicious, balanced, deliberative, with a deep appreciation of history and the personalities who shape it. If Meacham is sometimes polite to a fault, Destiny and Power does not suffer for it. His kinder, gentler approach succeeds in making George H. W. Bush a more sympathetic — and more complex — figure.”

We highlighted the title in Books to Know and Recommend the week of Nov. 9.

Holds Alert: DEAR MR. YOU

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

9781501107832_b8888Mary-Louise Parker’s debut, Dear Mr. You (S&S/Scribner; Simon & Schuster Audio), a memoir in letters addressed to the men of her life, is generating large hold queues, with some libraries we checked spiking as high as 8:1.

No surprise,Parker has been getting a great deal of media attention. From a New York Time’s profile to a glowing review in both that paper and on NPR, under the headline “Dear Mary-Louise Parker, You’ve Written A Great Book.”

In the NYT’s review Janet Maslin wrote:

“The book is written in a smart, beguiling voice that is inextricably entwined with qualities that Ms. Parker radiates as an actress. There’s as much flintiness as reckless charm. Flirtation and mischief are big parts of her arsenal. So is the honest soul-searching that gives this slight-looking book much more heft than might be expected.”

We highlighted it in Books to Know and Recommend the week before last and it is a November Indie Next Pick and a LibraryReads selection:

“Parker has created a unique and poetic memoir through a series of letters–some of appreciation, some of apology, some simply of acknowledgement–to the men in her life. Ranging from a taxi driver to a grandfather she never knew, each man has left an imprint and shaped her into the person she has become. Full of feeling, growth, and self-discovery, Parker’s book has left me longing to write my own letters.”
 PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC.

Parisian Street Life

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

9780393242379_471a9The celebrated outdoor life in Paris, in its cafes and markets, is just one of the many victims of the recent attacks. A book about one of the quintessential areas for such activity, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs (Norton; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample), is moving up Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping from #3,339 to #255, spurred by the author’s interview on NPR’s Fresh Air and perhaps by a sense that buying the book is a way of showing solidarity with the people of Paris.

In what amounts to an enlightening social studies lesson, author Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, talks with Terry Gross about Paris and the terrorists’ attacks of last week, sharing insights about the political, cultural, religious, and historical landscape of her adopted city.

In her view, there are several reasons the city was attacked:

“First, [Paris] is home to the largest Muslim population and the largest Jewish population of any country in Europe. It has been very forward-leaning in terms of using military to attack Islamic extremists in Iraq, now in Syria, before that in Mali… Also, physically it is very easy to get from France to Syria. You just go to the edge of Paris, and you take a bus to Istanbul and then cross over land into Syria, so it’s like kind of like summer camp for terrorism training.”

Gross and Sciolino do not spend a great deal of time on her book. For more on it, The Miami Herald reviewed it earlier this month and Sciolino adapted part of the book for a story in Travel and Leisure, complete with wonderful photographs.

It’s touching that it’s not a book about politics that is rising as a result of the attacks, but a book that celebrates daily life in Paris. Holds are strong in libraries we checked.

Holds Alert: RBG on the Rise

Monday, November 16th, 2015

A book with an unlikely beginning, as a Tumbler blog about an unlikely subject, a Supreme Court Justice, is now an unlikely hit.

9780062415837_589bf Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Harper/Dey Street Books; OverDrive Sample), is on the rise, reaching #52 on the Amazon rankings.

Holds are well beyond a 3:1 ratio in many libraries we checked as well, with at least one spiking over 7:1.

A collection of images of Ginsberg, The New York Times describes it as “cheery curio, as if a scrapbook and the Talmud decided to have a baby,” but one with a serious start and a serious heart:

Notorious RBG began in 2013 as a saucy Tumblr blog by Shana Knizhnik, then a law student, shortly after the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, which discarded a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act. (For the hip-hop unlettered, Notorious RBG is a play on the Notorious B.I.G., the rapper who was murdered in 1997.) Justice Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, which in the genteel, marbled universe of the Supreme Court, is most unusual — the equivalent of shaming your spouse in front of dinner guests.”

Coverage of the title was widespread upon release and is still going strong. Sunday’s NYT featured Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem in an interview about women’s rights, starting the conversation with the book (curiouslyhe piece leads the “Fashion & Style” section) and New York Magazine listed it as one of the “9 Books We’re Reading Right Now.”

The Trailer

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

The first preview of Miracles from Heaven, a new movie starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah has been just been released

9780316381833_fc723Based on the book Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing by Christy Wilson Beam (Hachette; OverDrive Sample), the film is highlighted in a People magazine online spread. It tells the story of a young girl who “survived a 30-ft. fall from a tree and told her parents she had visited heaven – then was inexplicably cured from her terminal digestive disorder.”

The new issue of People magazine, on newsstands this Friday, features the story in full and includes “additional photos from set and more from Jennifer Garner.”

The film’s release date is March 18, 2016. The Sony producing team behind the 2014 movie Heaven Is for Real is also heading this one.

Although the book title sounds like a several  bestsellers, this one did not hit any of the lists and was not reviewed pre-pub. It was written by the girl’s mother, played by Garner in the film, and is her first book.

Two tie-in editions are forthcoming in February.

9780316311373_2cc88Miracles from Heaven — Trade pbk. ISBN: 9780316311373
Miracles from Heaven — Mass Mkt. ISBN: 9780316355322

Note: Tie-in cover art is forthcoming

Closer to Screen:

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

glassDescribed as an “instant classic,” Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir The Glass Castle,(S&S/Scribner), tells the amazing story of her childhood with dysfunctional, sometimes homeless  parents. In 2012, it was set to be adapted as a film starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Plans have changed and now Brie Larson is in talks to star, as is Woody Harrelson, reports Deadline. Larson is currently enjoying Oscar buzz for her star role in another book adaptation, Room (she was interviewed about it on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday).

Glass Castle‘s Director Daniel Cretton has worked with her before, on the well-received movie Short Term 12.

Jail Cookery

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

9780761185529_743d6Step aside, Thug Kitchen, here’s the real deal.

In an affecting interview on NPR’s The Salt, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez talks about his new cookbook Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars (Workman; OverDrive Sample).

Alvarez spent over a decade behind bars and explains that those cheap packs of dehydrated noodles are everything to prisoners seeking some control over their meals, “maybe a guy has a bag of chips — that’s all he has to his name. And this other guy is blessed to have a couple of soups. Well, they get together, they make an interesting meal.”

His book is a mix of recipes and stories. It begins with the basic instructions for cooking the noodles without a pot or open flame. It goes on to offer advice for surviving hard time.

When asked who might use his book, Alvarez replies:

“I know some college kids might attempt to cook some of these. And quite frankly, I’ve had a few of them direct message me and say that they were awesome. They’ll go, ‘Man, these are great. I saved some money. It only cost me a couple dollars.’ Cool. And then I’d like others to read it and be humbled by the stories. And maybe, you know, they’ll have a friend of a friend or a family member — somebody that’s made a mistake and is doing some time. And they can probably share the stories with them, and hope it can teach them something. Maybe learn from my mistakes and others not to make these stupid decisions.”

NBC To Tidy Up

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Can a quirky nonfiction book on cleaning sustain a half-hour comedy show? Deadline  reports that NBC is willing to find out.

9781607747307_9d11aThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, (Ten Speed Press; Tantor Audio) by Marie Kondo will serve as the inspiration for a new show.

The cult hit racked up long holds lists and sat atop bestseller lists for nearly a year. It is currently holding tight to the #2 spot on the NYT Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list. So popular is Kondo’s message, she was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2015.

Writer Erica Oyama (Burning Love, Schooled) and Greg Malins (Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Will & Grace) will work on the project, which “centers on a young woman in a moment of crisis who attempts to get her messy life in order.” Note to neat freaks, it sounds like the show will be very loosely based on the book, basically just using the title as a launching point.

The group behind the project and is also, as we noted earlier, working on Josh Schwartz’s horror dramedy Horrorstör for Fox TV. It is based on Grady Hendrix’s faux-IKEA catalog/horror story, Horrorstör (Quirk).


“Explosive” Interview

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

9781101886960_28aaaActress and former Scientologist Leah Remini appeared on ABC’s 20/20 on Friday and reaction to her hour-long interview has skyrocketed her memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology (PRH/Ballantine) to #3 on Amazon.

The LA Times calls her conversation with ABC’s Dan Harris, in which Remini dishes the dirt on Scientologist Tom Cruise and his ex-wife, Katie Holmes, “explosive” and reports on the fallout, which was still going strong yesterday as Remini appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Much of the Good Morning America segment covered the Church-based “reprogramming” of Remini due to Church reports filed against her by Cruise and Holmes after they became displeased with her in the run up to their wedding.

leah-remini-cover-768x1024Remini is also featured on the cover of the Nov. 16 issue of People magazine (on newsstands this Friday) and is scheduled  for an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN.