Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Opening This Weekend

Friday, September 19th, 2014

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Adam Driver appears in two movies adapted from books this weekend. Getting the most promotion is the one based on Jonathan Tropper’s comic family novel, This Is Where I Leave You, (Penguin/Dutton, 2009), also starring Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda.

The other, Tracks, is based on the 1980 memoir by Australian Robyn Davidson of her solo trip through the outback. It may not be getting the same level of promotion, but it ranks at #4 in the week’s People Picks, while This Is Where I Leave You  is at #10.

In the film, Mia Wasikowska plays Robyn and Driver, the real-life National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, who took stunning photos of the journey. Smolan talks about that project in the following interview.and how eerie it was to go on set with Robyn, who is still a friend, and watch the actors recreate their younger selves.

Those who remember the heady days of CD-Rom may also remember that Smolan’s 1992 book, From Alice to Ocean included the first CD-Rom for the general public. That book is about to be re-released, with updated technology. Readers can point their smart phones at the photos to see how each scene plays out in the movie.

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Inside Tracks : Robyn Davidson’s Solo Journey Across the Outback
Rick Smolan
Against All Odds Productions (Sterling) October 21, 2014

Davidson’s book, which is still available in trade paperback, has also been released as a tie-in:

Tracks (Movie Tie-in Edition): A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback
Robyn Davidson
RH/Vintage: August 26, 2014

National Book Awards, Nonfiction Longlist

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

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Following yesterday’s announcement of the poetry longlist, the National Book Awards today announces the nonfiction nominees.

The titles include one that hasn’t been published yet, Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, (Simon & Schuster, Oct 7; Vintage Espanol, 11/4; Thorndike, 1/7/15).

The list is dominated by weighty tomes, so it is refreshing that it also includes Roz Chast’s graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA).

Continuing a family tradition, Evan Osnos, son of Peter Osnos, former Washington Post reporter and founder of Public Affairs (now an imprint of Perseus), is nominated for his book, based on his reporting on China for the New Yorker, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, (Macmillan/ FSG)

In this age of large corporate publishing, independent publisher W.W. Norton published 3 of the ten titles on the list, tying with Macmillan.

Links, in the list below, are to the National Book Award annotations.

Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA)

John Demos, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic
(RH/ Knopf)

Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
(Macmillan/Holt)

Nigel Hamilton, The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 – 1942 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster)

John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Norton)

Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (Macmillan/FSG)

Ronald C. Rosbottom, When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944
(Hachette/ Little, Brown)

Matthew Stewart, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (Norton)

Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence (Norton/Liveright)

FACTORY MAN Headed to HBO

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

9780316231435_f1fc7Beth Macy’s nonfiction debut, Factory Man, (Hachette/Little, Brown, 7/15), which received media attention when it was published this summer, is being developed by Tom Hanks’s production company, Playtone, for an HBO mini-series, reports Deadline.

The book’s subtitle outlines the story, How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local–And Helped Save An American Town. It received strong support from the NYT‘s Janet Maslin, who called it “in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers … Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down.”  The author was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air in July (read the first three chapters via OverDrive).

The book debuted at #10 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction Best Sellers list during its first week on sale, remained on the main list for 3 weeks, and continued on the extended list for 4 more weeks.

Playtone is also producing the upcoming Olive Kitteridge miniseries for HBO, to debut Nov. 2, and is set to begin production on another mini series adaptation, based on Stephen E. Ambrose’s book about Lewis and Clark, Undaunted Courage, (S&S, 1997), with Casey Affleck in the role of  Meriwether Lewis.

Holds Alert: WHAT IF?

Monday, September 8th, 2014

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There is a little geek in all of us.  I was a liberal arts major who did the happy dance when that last required physics class was over, but Randall  Munroe’s What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (HMH; Blackstone Audio; 9/2/14) is so laugh aloud funny, I almost did a spit take with my coffee while reading it this morning.

The book is a collection of the most popular answers to crazy science questions posed by readers of Munroe’s XKCD webcomic, with additional new “out of the box” questions.

For example “What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?”

9780544272996_0ceaaMunroe’s answer begins, “Nearly everyone would die. Then things would get interesting,” and leads us through the science of the situation in cartoon format, interrupted occasionally by a wise-cracking stick figure.

Published as an adult book What if? is the very definition of the crossover. I can imagine an 8th grade teacher posing one of these questions a day, using them to lead humorously engaging discussions that help to develop critical thinking.

Check your holds; you will probably find you need more copies.

Note: Cory Doctorow is also a fan and notes on BoingBoing that What If? is available as an audiobook, “which is a weird idea, given how much the explanations rely on Munroe’s charming diagrams. But the book is read by Wil Wheaton, who is, for my money, the best audiobook narrator working today, and it was produced by Blackstone audio and recorded at Skyboat in Los Angeles, who do outstanding work, and they all labored mightily with Munroe to turn the diagrams into spoken word (and there’s an accompanying PDF, which also helps).”

Colbert Asks, WHAT IF?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

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Former NASA roboticist turned webcomic, Randall Munroe is scheduled to get the Colbert bump tomorrow night. His book, What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (HMH; Blackstone; 9/2/14) is also on Entertainment Weekly‘s “Must List” in the current issue, saying Munroe “provides considered scientific explanations (and fantastically funny cartoons) in response to absurd hypotheticals about physics, space, the human body and whether Wikipedia is printable. (Technically, yes).”

UPDATE:

Tonight on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviews Ramita Navai, author of City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran (PublicAffairs, 9/2/14).

ROSEWATER Trailer Released

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

31cover_lores_a_pWith the release of the first trailer for the movie Rosewater,  we now have a glimpse of what Jon Stewart was up to when he went on hiatus from the Daily Show last summer to direct his first movie.

The movie is based on a book Then They Came For Me by Maziar Bahari, (Random House, 2011; Tantor Audio), the author’s account of his imprisionment in Iran, in part because of a Daily Show piece.

Variety gives the film a rave:

“The punishing ordeal of Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari — imprisoned for 118 days on charges of espionage — is brought to the screen with impressive tact and intelligence by writer-director Jon Stewart in Rosewater, an alternately somber and darkly funny drama that may occupy the same geographic terrain as Argo (to which it will inevitably be compared), but in most other respects could hardly be more different.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s reviewer, however, is not so impressed, saying, “if this very same film had been made by an unknown director, it would pass in the night with only scant notice.”

The tables are now being turned on Stewart, as he begins to promote his own film. The Hollywood Reporter is his first stop, with a cover interview (too bad about that review). On his own show on Thursday night, he presented two new clips.

The movie opens in theaters on Nov. 7.

Tie-in:

Rosewater: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival
Maziar Bahari, Aimee Molloy, Jon Meacham (Foreword by)
Random House Trade Paperbacks October 21, 2014

The Real Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

pioneer-girl-ciIt could be the Mark Twain autobiography of this fall.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autiobiography, which was the basis for her Little House on the Prairie books, will be published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press this fall. Titled Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, distributors are showing a Nov. 20 release date.

According to a story by the Associated Press, its “not-safe-for-children tales include stark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk off whiskey.”

See PioneerGirlProject.org for more on the project.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography
Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill
ISBN 978-0-984504176, hardcover, $39.95

On Fresh Air: DOCTORED

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

9780374141394_c2c03The author of a book with an attention-getting title, Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician, Sandeep Jauhar, (Macmillan/FSG) was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday.

Jauhar has some scary things to say about how the current health care system forces doctors  to work too fast, take on too many patients and run too many unneccasary tests.

The book was also reviewed in the NYT yesterday.

Jauhar has written several Op-Ed pieces for the NYT on these subjects.

KINGDOM OF ICE A Best Seller

Monday, August 18th, 2014

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We predicted it would be a best seller, but In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Outside magazine’s Hampton Sides, (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; RH Large Print) exceeded our expectations, debuting on the 8/24 NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list at #3. Library holds are increasing, of course, and several have ordered more copies.

The book, which has already received wide coverage, was reviewed in Sunday’s NYT Book Review, saying, “In the Kingdom of Ice” is a harrowing story well told, but it is more than just that. Sides illuminates Gilded Age society, offering droll anecdotes of Bennett’s [owner of the New York Herald, who financed the trip] escapades in New York, Newport and Europe.”

The audio sample, below, offers one of those droll anecdotes about the “exceedingly wealthy and flamboyant” Bennett. You can also read a sample, via OverDrive:

Best Seller Crystal Ball:
IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

9780385535373_8e8d4Expect to see In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Outside magazine’s Hampton Sides, (RH.Doubleday; RH Audio; RH Large Print) on this week’s best seller lists.

Based on newly-released documents, it tells the story of an ill-fated polar expedition, one that is less well-known than those of the Shackleton or Scott expeditions. Like those stories, says USA Today, “the struggles of DeLong and his crew to survive and work their way out of their dire predicament somehow make an even more compelling story than a hypothetical one of ultimate conquest.”

The book has received a string of enthusiastic reviews, including in The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. The author was interviewed on NPR’s Aug. 2nd Weekend Edition Saturday, causing it to climb Amazon’s sales rankings.

 A book trailer, gives an idea of the story, but for a taste of the writing, listen to a sample of the audio (hint: be sure to listen through to the end).

More On SOLDIER GIRLS

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

9781451668100_c7622As we noted earlier, media attention has been growing for a book that follows the experiences of three women in the military, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War, by Helen Thorpe (S&S/Scribner; Dreamscape audio). Today, the daily New York Times reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, adds her voice,  calling it “compelling” and saying Thorpe “gives us a dynamic understanding of what it’s been like for Guard members who unexpectedly found themselves shipped off to the front lines of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, their lives and plans disrupted, their families thrown into disarray.”

It will also  be available in audio from Dreamscape on Sept. 2 (audio download on OverDrive).

In the Media: SOLDIER GIRLS

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Helen Thorpe’s new book, Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War, (S&S/Scribner; Dreamscape audio), released last Tuesday, examines an under-covered story, women in the military, by following three women who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The book has received a wide range of attention. It’s People magazine’s latest  “Book of the Week,” and is covered in the 8/10 NYT Book Review, among other publications

The author was interviewed in Elle magazine, on yesterday’s Weekend Edition, as well as on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Several libraries are showing heavy holds on light ordering.

P.P. & Z. Back In Play

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Pride Prejudice ZombiesWe’re trying desperately to avoid all the “back from the dead” cliches, but there’s proof that we’ve fallen prey to them in the past.

After several years in development, with multiple actresses announced for the lead (Natalie Portman — who is still attached as a producer — Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Wasikowska and Rooney Mara), the adaptation of the godmother of the mashup genre, Pride Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009) is set to begin filming in September, with Lily James as Elizabeth Bennett, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy and Bella Heathcote as Elizabeth’s sister. The box office disaster of that other mashup adaptation,  Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, put the studios off for a while, but now it seems that the success of various zombie vehicles have made them forget all that.

Below are some other book-to-movie projects that are getting new life:

Philip Roth, American Pastoral, (Houghton Mifflin, 1997) — to begin filming in Pittsburgh in March, starring Ewan McGregor and Jennifer Connelly.

Kevin Wilson, The Family Fang, (HarperCollins/ Ecco, 2011) — finally filming, as proven by shots of Nicole Kidman on the set.

Maziar Bahari, Then They Came For Me, (Random House, 2011) — Jon Stewart took a hiatus last year to direct this adaptation, titled Rosewater. The release date is now set for 11/7/2014.

Joe Hill,  Horns, (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2010) — U.S. release date of 10/31/2014 finally announced (it hit theaters in the U.K. last year), sending the book up Amazon’s sales ranking.

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, (1871) — titled Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to the 2010 live-action Alice in Wonderland, is currently filming and scheduled for release on 5/27/2016, with returning cast, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh, as well as new actors, Sacha Baron Cohen as Time, Rhys Ifans as the Mad Hatter’s father and Ed Speelers as James Harcourt.

For more on upcoming adaptations, check our spreadsheet, EarlyWord, Books to Movies (download and sort by date for the latest stories).

TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, Trailer

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

The trailer for a new adaptation of Vera Brittain’s classic WWI memoir, Testament Of Youth (1933) was recently released.

Alicia Vikander stars as Brittain in the film which is scheduled to open in January in the U.K. (the U.S. date has not yet been set).

Book-to-movie fans will be seeing a lot of Vikander, a Swedish actress, in the future. She has a supporting role in the upcoming Seventh Son (opening Feb. 6, based on Joseph, Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch), stars in Tulip Fever (based on the book by Deborah Moggach, currently filming), and has signed to star in The Light Between Oceans (based on the 2012 best seller by M.L. Stedman), as well as The Danish Girl, (based on the 2002 book by David Ebershoff),

Co-starring is Kit Harington (the heart-throb from Game of Thrones, he will also appear with Vikander in Seventh Son) as Brittain’s fiancé, who dies in the war).

 

Tonight’s Comedy Central Bumps

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

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On The Daily Show tonight, Jon Stewart will feature Helen Thorpe, the author of Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War,  (S&S/Scribner; Dreamscape audio), which follows three women soldiers’s deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and their struggles on returning home. Prepub reviews are strong, with stars from both PW and Kirkus.

The Colbert Report hosts John Dean, a key player in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. In his new book, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It, (Penguin/Viking), he reflects on what he learned by listening to Nixon’s recently-released secret tapes of White House conversations. The book has been widely covered, including in a review in the Washington Post by a person very familiar with the story, Bob Woodward. Along with Carl Bernstein, he broke the story about the Watergate coverup.

Libraries have ordered modest quantities of each.