Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Setting the Agenda

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

9781630060879_ae04aTimed to the inauguration, Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America by David Horowitz (Humanix Books; Dreamscape Media; OverDrive Sample), published today, is has been rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, quickly moving from outside the top 100 to its current position at #66.

Author Horowitz is the founder of the conservative Freedom Center. His book is being promoted on the Breitbart site where he is a contributor. Today, he tweeted that he is set to appear on several radio shows and on Fox News Tucker Carlson Tonight.

Horowitz’s name came up during recent confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Sessions was questioned about accepting an award from Horowitz’s foundation.

Despite the book’s subtitle, this is not Trump’s plan, which he outlined in a speech in November and on his Web site, but Horowitz’s views on what the plan should be. Fellow conservative pundits are backing the book. Rush Limbaugh calls it “a road map for a winning agenda that conservatives will embrace.” Ann Coulter recommends it as a “brilliant battle plan.”

There were no pre-pub reviews and orders are low across the country.

Oprah’s Cookbook is a Bestseller

Friday, January 13th, 2017

9781250126535_8f394Oprah’s first cookbook and the first book under her new imprint with Flatiron, Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Macmillan/Flatiron; OverDrive Sampledebuts on the new USA Today best seller list at #4.

USA Today says it is “not an official Weight Watchers cookbook” although Winfrey is “a Weight Watchers investor and spokesperson who has been appearing in the program’s commercials.”

Winfrey has been made appearances on several shows to promote the book, including CBS This Morning, Rachel Ray, Dr. Oz, and Stephen Colbert. Many media outlets, such as Parade, are featuring recipes. Eater features it as well, linking it to other celebrity cookbooks.

UPDATE: Oprah is featured on the cover of the new issue of People magazine. The story (not currently available online) focuses on Weight Watchers, but also features her cookbook.

Libraries generally bought in large numbers and holds are hovering at 3:1 ratios or below.

Librarians might remember that the first cookbook associated with Oprah did very well. USA Today points out that In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes, by her personal chef Rosie Daley, “was No. 1 on USA TODAY’s list for a remarkable 16 straight weeks.”

Holds Alert: THE CASE AGAINST SUGAR

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

9780307701640_f0865A book about the toxic effects of sugar is taking off in libraries, The Case Against Sugar, Gary Taubes (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample). Holds queues top 5:1 ratios in most libraries we checked.

In addition to examining scientific studies that show sugar increases many health risks, the book also makes the case that powerful lobbies try to obscure that growing evidence, making sugar, as the publisher puts it, “the tobacco of the new millennium.”

Calling the book “hard-charging” and “game-changing,” NYT, in a review featured on last week’s cover, writes “Here is a book on sugar that sugarcoats nothing. The stuff kills. … [Taubes] implicates scientists, nutritionists and especially the sugar industry in what he claims amounts to a major cover-up.”

The Atlantic says it is “a prosecutor’s brief … fleshed out with four decades’ worth of extra science” and that “Taubes is a clear-eyed zealot for his cause, acknowledging his bias and pressing on for better science.”

Taubes was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s On Point.

 

GENIUS Gets A Trailer

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Just released is the first brief preview of a new series based on the life of Albert Einstein, set to air on the National Geographic Channel in April.

Genius, the first scripted series from the cable network, reports Deadline Hollywood, is part of a planned “anthology drama– telling the stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators,”

The Einstein series is based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe.

Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush stars as Einstein. Johnny Flynn (Lovesick) plays the younger Einstein while Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything) is Elsa, his second wife. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are the series executive producers.

9781501171383_84698The tie-in, with new cover art not yet final, is set for release on April 4th:

Einstein TV Tie-In Edition:
His Life and Universe
, Walter Isaacson
(S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

A Real Life Indiana Jones

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

9781455540006_1130dCBS Sunday Morning features Douglas Preston and his new book The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The book relates his adventures while searching for a legendary lost city in the rain forests of Mosquitia, which spans Honduras and Nicaragua. Preston tells reporter Lee Cowan that on that trip, he picked up  a parasite that requires a painful therapy.

The White City, or, as some call it, the City of the Monkey God, is a sacred place fabled to hold boundless treasure. “The legend is there was a great city in the mountains that was struck by a series of catastrophes, and the inhabitants thought the gods were angry at them, and [they] left, leaving all their belongings behind,” Preston says.

Using advances in laser mapping technology, explorer Steve Elkins and his team, which included Preston, found the city, braving pit vipers, mud, and foliage so thick they could not even see the site once they were upon it.

The team was jubilant, however, after they discovered rare artifacts, including carved figures left by a 16th-century citizenry who, as CBS notes, “fled the city in a desperate attempt to escape European disease and slavery.”

A National Geographic documentary about the expedition is also in the works.

Health Book Gets A Bounce

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

9781455541713_6cc32At this time of the year, with all the new titles released on health and fitness, some of which are based on questionable information, it’s refreshing to learn about one  by a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist and a health psychologist. Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel appeared on CBS This Morning yesterday to discuss their new book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

As a result, the book is racing up the Amazon charts, jumping from #3,292 to #10.

A telomere is like the cap end of a shoelace that keeps it from fraying. Telomeres protect chromosomes and “can help reduce chronic disease and improve wellbeing, all the way down to our cells and all the way through our lives.”

The authors say that specific lifestyle changes, such as eating better, sleeping a bit more, getting exercise, and having a good frame of mind strengthens telomeres. Certain styles of thinking, such as pessimism and hostility, weaken them by exaggerating stress responses.  “Telomeres are listening to your thoughts” and are responding in kind, they say. All manner of toxic situations impact telomeres, from suffering discrimination to exposure to toxic chemicals.

Demand in libraries has not yet caught up with Amazon and holds are generally under a 3:1 ratio.

Explaining America

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Face The Nation hosted a panel of authors on its New Year’s Day episode, illustrating how the news media is turning to books to talk about the divisions within the country.

9780679763888_272bc  Hillbilly Elegy  9781627795272_80c35  9781501159503_db1ac

Four authors took part in the discussion, Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (RH/Vintage, 2011; OverDrive Sample), J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), actor and author Diane Guerrero, who wrote In the Country We Love: My Family Divided (Macmillan/Henry Holt; OverDrive Sample), and Amani Al- Khatahthbeh, Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age (S&S; OverDrive Sample).

Host John Dickerson opened the segment by saying “We’ve gathered four authors who’ve written about the many faces of America, about the differences that divide us, as well as the common experiences that can unite us as one.”

In the personal and heartfelt discussion, Vance, who has been the focus of much of the media’s attempt to explain the anger of many among the white working class and has become a contributing opinion writer for the NYT, says:

“[what] really ties us together is something aspirational about being an American. Right? So whether you’re a black American moving from the rural South or from South America or from an Islamic country, like, whether it’s our parents, our grandparents or even further back, it’s this idea that we want something better for our kids than we have right now … That we’re going to keep getting better. Things are going to keep on improving. And I think, frankly, a lot of the problems we have in our politics are in some ways rooted in different groups thinking that things aren’t continuing to get better. I think that pessimism, that cynicism, is a real problem in our politics and our society more broadly.”

Isabel Wilkerson says “we talk a lot about diversity, but I think we should talk more about commonality. I think we’re very aware of the things that make us different. I don’t think we realize enough what makes us the same and what makes us– our hearts beat the same and the things that we want are so similar.”

The Warmth of Other Suns is rising on Amazon, jumping from #1,226 to #96. Hillbilly Elegy is already at #4. The other two books are farther down (Guerrero at #503 and Al- Khatahthbeh at #787).

The Obscure Revealed

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

What better topic for a New Years Day segment than a book about the strangest places on earth? Featured on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday were the enviable adventures of the pair behind the best seller Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras (Workman, Sept.; OverDrive Sample).

Check your holds. Some libraries are showing heavy ratios.

Writer Carrie Fisher Dies

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

9780399173592_8cf50She may be remembered by many as Princess Leia in Star Wars but Carrie Fisher, who died at 60 on Tuesday, was also known for the sharp writing, raw honesty, and biting humor in her four novels and three memoirs, all of which are still in print.

Her first books were heavily autobiographical novels, Postcards From the Edge (1987),  Surrender the Pink (1990),  Delusions of Grandma (1993), and The Best Awful (2004; S&S Audio) (all from S&S).

But she found her true calling in memoirs, beginning with Wishful Drinking (2008; S&S Audio; Ocvr9781439153710_9781439153710_hrverDrive Sample). As Entertainment Weekly observed of that book, “Fisher’s voice is freer, now that she’s no longer hiding behind the coy scrim of calling her perky howls of pain ‘novels’ … Her stories bubble, bounce, and careen with an energy as loose as the jauntiness in The Best Awful was tight.”

Wishful Drinking was adapted from Fisher’s one-woman stage show, which also became the 2010 HBO documentary. UPDATE: HBO will re-air the show on Jan 1 at 9 pm ET.

postcards-from-the-edge-9781439194003_hrShe died after returning from a trip to London to promote her most recent book, The Princess Diarist (PRH/Blue Rider Press; Penguin/BOT Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It garnered headlines for revealing what many had already suspected, that she and Harrison Ford had an affair during the filming of Star Wars, but it also received positive reviewsThe Guardian wrote that it is “smart and funny. The pages crackle with self-deprecating one-liners, chatty observations and the singular wisdom that comes with being forever immortalised in the minds of teenage boys in a metal bikini and chained to a slug.”

The Princess Diarist is currently #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings, with Wishful Drinking at #7. Postcards From the Edge is right behind it at #8.

Libraries are also seeing demand with holds skyrocketing, passing 15:1 ratios on titles that have been weeded down to just a few copies, such as Postcards From the Edge. Libraries own more copies of the most recent book, The Princess Diarist. Nevertheless, it is showing strong holds, topping a 6:1 ratio at several libraries we checked.

Holds Alert: THE UNDOING PROJECT

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

9780393254594_a5e49Hitting the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction Best Seller list at #2 this week is Michael Lewis’s newest The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Libraries are showing holds as high as 17:1, and generally well above a 3:1 standard.

The book explores the work of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and the question, as the NYT frames it, of “Why do most people, from sports managers to bankers, so often overlook the data and make colossal errors based on gut instinct?”

The two found, “In study after study,” the review goes on, “that when it comes to making decisions, humans are predisposed to irrationality. Their surprising findings have had profound implications for everything from behavioral economics and politics, to advanced medicine and sports.”

Indeed, as Lewis wrote in Vanity Fair, their work, although he did not know it at the time, is behind the ideas explored in Moneyball.

But the reason that people are enthusiastic about Lewis’s book may be due to his ability to bring the emotional to what may seem like a dry subject. Jennifer Senior writes in her NYT review, “During its final pages, I was blinking back tears, hardly your typical reaction to a book about a pair of academic psychologists. The reason is simple. Mr. Lewis has written one hell of a love story, and a tragic one at that. The book is particularly good at capturing the agony of the one who loves the more ”

9780374533557Readers may know one of the subjects of the book, Nobel prize-winner Kahneman for his own bestselling book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Lewis has made many appearances for the book, including the following on CSB This Morning earlier in the month:

Feed The World

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

soup-for-syria-coverSoup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity, collected and photographed by Barbara Abdeni Massed, published last year by indie press, Interlink, is soaring on Amazon’s sales rankings. The jump, from #7,866 to a well-placed #45, coincides with a feature on NPR’s All Things Considered.

An effort by celebrity chefs to help relieve some of the Syrian refugee’s suffering, it’s a foodie version of Live Aid.

Barbara Massaad, a cookbook writer living in Beirut, visited one of the refugee camps and decided she had to help. Along with a friend who runs a farmers market, they started making soups to give away to those in need. “Soup is universal comfort food,” says Massad, “It’s special, soup.”

Deciding to take the project further, she reached out to colleagues around the world, asking for recipes for a fundraiser. Alice Waters sent in one for carrot soup. Anthony Bourdain offers soup au pistou, “with white beans, leeks, fennel and zucchini.” The team behind the popular Jerusalem cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, submitted one as well. Claudia Rodan and Mark Bittman also pitched in.

In addition to the recipes, the book is full of photos of the Syrians living in the camps.

The collection has raised more than $300,000 for food relief programs, “with very little attention or publicity.”

The lack of PR seems to have changed now that NPR has spread the word. The book is temporarily out of stock on Amazon and B&N and is on back order through wholesalers. It is currently shown as available for purchase directly from publisher Interlink.

Libraries have generally bought few, if any copies. Those that did are showing a mix of available copies and moderate holds.

In the News: PRIVATE EMPIRE

Friday, December 16th, 2016

9780143123545The 2012 NYT Bestseller, Steve Coll’s Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is earning a second readership now that Donald Trump has nominated the CEO of that global company, Rex Tillerson, to be Secretary of State.

The book is moving up Amazon’s charts, to land just outside the Top 100 (it is currently #107, up from #2,064) and is temporarily out of stock in paperback at Amazon. The hardcover is selling for almost a hundred dollars a copy, used.

Coll, a staff writer for The New Yorker, is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist. His book received favorable reviews when it debuted.

In his review in the NYBR, Adam Hochschild compared Exxon to the East India Company, and wrote Coll’s book provides:

“a picture of a corporation so large and powerful — operating in some 200 nations and territories — that it really has its own foreign policy … Exxon Mobil has its own armies — and, in these days of outsourcing, also hires those of others … the book assuredly does what it sets out to do: show the inner workings of one of the Western world’s most significant concentrations of unelected power.”

Coll is currently in the news again. He published a story in The New Yorker, and has recently been on PBS’s Newshour and NPR’s All Things Considered.

Holds are strong in a few libraries, steady in others.

Oprah Names Her Imprint

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

“An Oprah Book” will be the name of Oprah Winfrey’s new imprint with Macmillan/Flatiron Books (not to be confused with an “Oprah’s Book Club Selection,” as she styles her sporadic personal selections of books to recommend).

9781250126535_8f394Oprah will select nonfiction titles for the new line with the first to be one of her own, a cookbook entitled Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Jan. 3).

As we wrote in June, it is connected to her role as a Weight Watchers spokesperson as well as her investment in the company.

Oprah picked the cookbook as one of her Favorite Things for gift giving this year, even though it won’t be available until after the holidays (those who preorder it will get “a special note and gift … while supplies last” to wrap). 

The second book will be The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios (as yet no cover, pub. date, or ISBN is available).

According to Bustle, “the microhistory tells the story of 300 black nurses who worked in the tuberculosis ward at Staten Island’s Sea View Hospital, caring for patients few would dare to be around.”

According to the New York Daily News, “Fear of TB was so rampant at the time that the city had trouble hiring nurses for Sea View and ultimately recruited hundreds of black women, many from the South, to fill the ranks.” Oprah says it is a story that needs “to be shared.”

Bustle reports the account will be Smilios’ first book and will release in 2018.

The Associated Press picked up the story, and as the AP is widely syndicated, it is appearing in national as well as local outlets.

Thus far, however, word has not spread that far. A check of holds across the country shows only moderate demand on strong orders for the new cookbook.

HIDDEN FIGURES Goes To The White House

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

9780062363602_4650aThe cast and director of the upcoming film Hidden Figures will be hosted tonight by First Lady Michelle Obama at a special White House screening.

In addition to several cast members, 97-year-old Katherine G. Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson in the film, is also expected to attend. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. NASA profiles her as “The Girl Who Loved to Count.”

Below is the ceremony. Johnson’s award begins at 30:24.

9780062662385_6084fHidden Figures is based on a book that is #5 on Time magazine’s list of the best nonfiction of the year, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly, released as a tie-in last month, (HC/William Morrow Paperbacks; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). 

It is one of the hot films of the season and debuts in a limited, Oscar-qualifying run, on Christmas Day. It will open in wide release on January 6.

Early reviews are strong. The Wrap says the movie:

“not only stirringly celebrates intelligent women of color (and the very idea of science itself), but it also offers a more realistic-seeming portrayal of racism than we generally get in American movies … Hidden Figures is feel-good history, but it works, and it works on behalf of heroes from a cinematically under-served community. These smart, accomplished women had the right stuff, and so does this movie.”

The Post-Election Book Rush

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Publishers are hurrying to get books out in the aftermath of the election, reports PW. At least three new titles are already in the works, each focused on how progressives can respond to the Trump presidency.

In a very fast turn-around, two will be released before Inauguration Day:

img_1529-3-572x402What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America, ed. by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House) continues a tradition for the indie publisher. Melville also issued as similar work following the election of George W. Bush. The essay collection includes pieces from Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and others. Edited by the publisher Dennis Johnson, it offers advice on what upset voters can do during the next four years.

9780062686480_c22e8The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen, Gene Stone (HC/Dey Street Books). Quoting the book’s editor, PW reports it is “aimed at people looking for answers and ways to mobilize following Trump’s victory. In the book, Stone gives a background on the different issues that are at stake over the next four years and provides lists of organizations and resources for promoting progressive action.”

Also in the works  is another collection of essays,  Radical Hope (PRH/Vintage), which the editor says are “socially conscious love letters in the tradition of ‘My Dungeon Shook,’ the first essay in James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.” It does not yet have a release date but is expected in early 2017.

Already signed up are several political books set to make noise in 2017, as PW reports in their Spring Adult Announcements issue (Children’s Announcements are coming Jan 30).Their picks include:

 9780802126191_ef27f  9780691175515_f6bf7

Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, Condoleezza Rice (Hachette/Twelve, May 2.)

How the Hell Did This Happen?: The Election of 2016, P. J. O’Rourke (Atlantic Monthly Press, Mar. 7)

How Liberty Can Change the World, Gary E. Johnson (HC/Broadside, June 13)

#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, Cass R. Sunstein (Princeton Univ., Mar. 28)