Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category


Monday, July 18th, 2016

9781400052172_1e7daRose Byrne (Damages) will play Rebecca Skloot, starring opposite Oprah Winfrey in HBO Films production of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, reports Deadline Hollywood.

As we noted earlier,  Oprah will play Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter and the character through whom the story is told.

Skloot is the author of the bestselling nonfiction account and her character in the book forms what Deadline calls “a close bond” with the character Oprah plays.

George C. Wolfe (Angels In America) wrote the adaptation and will direct, also reports Deadline. With these critical roles filled, the film is moving closer to full production.

Eating Lies

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

9781616204211_66c42Lobster rolls with no lobster, tuna that is not tuna, olive oil that has only a passing relationship to olives are the subject of a book arriving today that has been rising quickly on Amazon’s sales rankings, Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It by Larry Olmsted (Workman/Algonquin; OverDrive Sample).

The rise coincides with strong media attention across a variety of outlets including the New York Post, Town and Country, Forbes, Outside, and several NPR programs including The Leonard Lopate Show, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered.

Outside says Olmsted shows “readers how to navigate an increasingly complex food system” unveiling the ugly, and harmful, truth about the unregulated food scene, which he calls in his book “a massive industry of bait and switch.”

Kobe beef, for instance, which sells for astronomical prices in the US comes from a breed of cow that lives and is slaughtered in a specific area of Japan and that is fed a diet produced in that same region. A Kobe beef steak sells for triple digits in the US. The rub? Kobe beef is not allowed to be imported into the US by the USDA.

Even worse, as Olmsted reveals in Town and Country, fakes may contain ingredients few would knowingly choose to consume. Such as truffle oil, “The most common source of ‘natural truffle’ flavor in the oil” he says, “is a chemically altered form of formaldehyde.”

Collection Development:
Criminal Justice

Friday, July 8th, 2016

9781595586438_bc0eeThe Marshall Project (named in honor of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) has released a core list of titles on criminal justice.

Not only is the list useful for collection building, the leading title, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander (Perseus/PGW/Legato/The New Press; OverDrive Sample), soared on Amazon, rising to #6 in an impressive leap from #90.

Other titles on the list rose as well.

9780812993547_1f8f9  9780812984965_e80d4

Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates (PRH/Spiegel & Grau; BOT; OverDrive Sample), moved up to #8, jumping from #47.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson (PRH/Spiegel & Grau; BOT; OverDrive Sample) gained as well, bumping up to #95, from #137).

The full list of ten titles is available online, along with a longer list of titles the topic.


Friday, July 8th, 2016

9781250055828_a581dRising on Amazon, moving from #734 to #12, is Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction, Maia Szalavitz (Macmillan /St. Martin’s Press; OverDrive Sample).

The leap to just outside the top 10 coincides with a long interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. Host Terry Gross talks for over 30 minutes with the author, a former addict who became a journalist.

Szalavitz’s book offers a new way to think about addition and treat its sufferers. Part of the conversation centered on the limitations and problems with 12-step programs. Szalavitz says:

“The only treatment in medicine that involves prayer, restitution and confession is for addiction [which] makes people think that addiction is a sin, rather than a medical problem … we need to get the 12 steps out of professional treatment and put them where they belong — as self-help.”

Caught with 2.5 kilos of cocaine at age 20, Szalavitz also talks about not going to prison, and why:

“being white and being female and being a person who was at an Ivy League school and being privileged in many other ways had an enormous amount to do with … why I was not incarcerated and why I’m not in prison now. I think our laws are completely and utterly racist. They were founded in racism, and they are enforced in a thoroughly biased manner.”

Holds are spiking at several libraries we checked.

TARZAN And George?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

MV5BMzY3OTI0OTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjkxNTAwOTE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Amid mixed to downright terrible reviews, and questions about whether it’s possible to make a non-racist version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, the latest incarnation, The Legend of Tarzan is bringing new attention to a fascinating real-life character, 19th C black human rights advocate, George Washington Williams. Played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie, which opens on Friday, he travels with Tarzan to Africa.

Williams actually did travel to the Congo in 1890 (but did not encounter the fictional Tarzan). Appalled by what he saw there, he tried to shame King Leopold of Belgium in a long open letter about the horrors the Congolese were suffering under Belgian rule (more on Williams from MoviePilot).

Both Jackson and director David Yates tell Variety that Williams deserves a film of his own. Unfortunately, however, this movie may not make the best case for it. The LA Times writes, “Part comic relief, part valued ally, Williams is an altogether puzzling script component, and Jackson’s habit of sounding like he just stepped out of Pulp Fiction does not help things.”

For more about Williams and this period, two backlist titles are available:

GWW  9780618001903

George Washington Williams: A Biography, written by the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient John Hope Franklin (Duke UP, 1998)

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild (HMH/Mariner; OverDrive Sample)

An award-winning best seller, it was the basis for a 2006 documentary.

Houston, We Have A Winner

Friday, July 1st, 2016

9780316338929_25c22PBS Newshour just launched Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, Nathalia Holt (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample) into book sales orbit, helping it soar on Amazon from a sales rank of #6,540 to 146.

The dramatic move is due to a segment of the show’s special summer reading series that offers author interviews conducted at book shows around the country. The Newshour‘s Jeffrey Brown sat down with Holt at the Los Angeles Book Festival and the pair talked about women in science during the early years of the space program and today.

Holt says that in the early days of the Jet Propulsion Lab a group of women called “computers” figured out the calculations of the space program, doing math with pencil and paper and some very bulky calculators.

Once computers were introduced, these women became the first programmers.

Her book traces their history and accomplishments and recounts how both NASA and JPL overlooked their achievements as time went by. Case in point, none were invited to the 2008 gala held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Explorer 1 (America’s first satellite), an oversight that is particularly galling since one of the Rocket Girls, Barbara Paulson, figured out the trajectory on the night Explorer 1 launched, working in the control room. Holt says “when the first American satellite is a success, its because of her. She is the one that found out it’s actually in orbit.”

Holt also talks about how 2016 is a “desperate time for women in technology,” largely due to a lack of role models. In 1984, she says “37 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer sciences were awarded to women. And today that number is 18 percent.” While female astronauts are doing astoundingly well, making up half of the current class at NASA, female engineers are seeing their lowest numbers in decades.

Holt hopes reading the stories of the pioneering Rocket Girls and learning what they achieved and overcame, will help change that.

Talese Checks Out Of

Friday, July 1st, 2016

9780802125811_e194aUPDATE: Reversing his decision, Gay Talese now says that he does not disavow the book and that he will promote it. First reported by Roger  Friedman in Show Biz 411, the story has been picked up by many other publications, including the New York Times.

Author Gay Talese has elected to disavow his latest book, The Voyeur’s Motel, (Grove Press) set for publication on July 12 because of “credibility issues,” reports the Washington Post.

Based on journals kept by Gerald Foos, a Colorado motel owner who spied on his guests for years, movie rights to the book had been acquired by DreamWorks, with Sam Mendes attached to directing. An extract of the book was published as a story in the New Yorker in April.

Unfortunately, Talese was unaware that Foos did not own the motel for the entire period he claimed, a fact the Washington Post uncovered. When informed about the discovery, Talese responded to the Post, “I should not have believed a word [Foos] said,” adding, “I’m not going to promote this book. How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?”

It appears the book will still be published. Grove CEO Morgan Entrain notes that most of the events in the book took place before Foos sold the motel, but, says the Post, “the company would consider appending an author’s note or footnotes in subsequent printings to account for errors or missing information.”

Hanks is Sully

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

A trailer has just been released for the movie Sully, based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2009), a memoir by the man who piloted an airplane to safety on New York’s Hudson River after its engines were disabled by a bird strike.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks is in the lead role, with Laura Linney as his wife. The movie will be released on Sept. 9.


Sully : My Search for What Really Matters
Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, III, Jeffrey Zaslow
HarperCollins/Morrow,  August 30, 2016
Trade Paperback
Mass Market

Soon after, Hanks stars in Inferno, based on the book by Dan Brown. It opens Oct. 28th.

Several tie-ins are being released, see our list of upcoming movie tie-ins.

The Summer of Zika

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

9780393609141_bd793On Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross held a 30-minute conversation about Zika with Donald G. McNeil, a science reporter for The New York Times and author of the new book, Zika: The Emerging Epidemic (Norton; Random House Audio).

The two talk about how Zika is transmitted, its odd scale of danger, the Olympics, and the timeline for a vaccine.

McNeil says Zika is a mild infection in 99.99 percent of the cases. Only women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are at risk and the infection carries grave danger in those cases. This year is excepted to be the worst for infections as no one in the US has yet developed antibodies.

McNeil says that the scientific community is split on cancelling the Olympics due to Zika, pointing out that August is actually a low season for the insects.

The best way to prevent bites while sitting outside is simply to have fans blowing, says McNeil, the bugs have to expend a great deal of energy to fly and fans make it even more difficult for them.

The interview makes clear why this is likely to be one of the summer’s major topic of conversation.

High Tech Gossip and Insights

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

9780062458193_b379cTaking off like a hot Internet IPO, Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, Antonio García Martínez (HC/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) is rocketing up Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping over thousands of books in its way to rise from #6,415 to 301, due in part to NPR’s Marketplace, which featured the book yesterday. Host Kai Ryssdal talked with the author, a Silicon Valley insider, about Facebook Exchange, the software that enables ads to follow users from online shopping sites to Facebook. That code has created an income stream which is essential, says García Martínez, because ads “pay for the Internet.”

The book was also recently covered in the The New York Times, in a review that begins by detailing all the reasons not to like it, including the author’s boasting about his own lavish lifestyle, and including a “blizzard of score-settling.”

Then the review turns to the importance of what García Martínez has to say when he is not bragging or bashing, his insights into how the Internet and Silicon Valley work, which raises the book to a level of “a must-read” that is “an irresistible and indispensable 360-degree guide to the new technology establishment.”


Friday, June 24th, 2016

9780062262264_0dc419780380789030_49994Seth Meyers interviewed Neil Gaiman on Late Night yesterday about his first collection of nonfiction [video here] and the upcoming STARZ adaptation of American Gods, set to premiere in 2017 [video here] .

On compiling his nonfiction collection The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), Gaiman admitted he had difficulty locating some of the pieces. In one case. he even had to enlist the help of a super obsessive fan.

Gaiman is interviewed in more depth about the book in today’s L.A. Times.

Anticipation is building for the STARZ series adaptation of American Gods. Today, The Hollywood Reporter offers a get-up-to-speed guide (amusingly, they feel the need to tell their readers that it began life as a book). They also give kudos to the choice of director, Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Hannibal) saying. “His shows lean toward the supernatural and the visually sumptuous, so he’s the perfect person to bring American Gods to the small screen.”


Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

9780670785971_39370Rising dramatically on Amazon, leapfrogging over nearly 1500 titles ahead of it to move from #1,494 to #45 is White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg (PRH/Viking; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The jump coincides with a rave NYT daily review, running today on the front page of section C and also online. In it Dwight Garner calls the book “formidable and truth-dealing” and says Isenberg:

“has written an eloquent volume that is more discomforting and more necessary than a semitrailer filled with new biographies of the founding fathers and the most beloved presidents … This estimable book rides into the summer doldrums like rural electrification … It deals in the truths that matter, which is to say, the uncomfortable ones.”

The book is receiving attention from a wide range of media, including Slate, the WSJ‘s SpeakEasy podcast, and LitHub, which calls it one of “Five Books Making News This Week.” On the trade side, it has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, both of which call it “riveting.”

Holds so far are low in libraries we checked but like Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond and A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, it seems destined to be a title that will spark discussion for months to come and appear on end-of-the year best lists.

Oprah Memoir:
How About A Cookbook Instead?

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Oprah Winfrey’s memoir, The Life You Want, has been postponed indefinitely according to the LA Times. We wrote about the deal, worth eight figures, last December.

The memoir was intended to launch Oprah’s new imprint with Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, a line of nonfiction titles hand picked by Oprah herself. Instead, it will launch with Oprah’s new cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness: ‘On Point’ Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life. It is planned for Jan. 3, 2017 (as yet no cover or ISBN is available).

As the AP reports, Oprah, who is not only the latest Weight Watchers spokesperson, but also an investor, owning an estimated 10% of Weight Watchers stock, said of her new effort:

“In the past several months on Weight Watchers, I have worked with wonderful chefs to make healthier versions of my favorite meals. When people come to my house for lunch or dinner, the number one thing they ask is, ‘How is this so delicious and still healthy?’ So I decided to answer that question with recipes everyone can enjoy.”

519JES09H3L._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_If this sounds familiar, back in the late ’90’s, Oprah co-authored a book with her trainer, Bob Greene, Make the Connection: Ten Steps To A Better Body — And A Better Life.

An instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller, it launched Greene’s weight-loss empire. But in January 2009, a much heavier Oprah was featured on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine with the headline, “How did I let this happen again?”


Thursday, June 16th, 2016

9780805089080_3aeb5Attention is growing for Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books; OverDrive Sample) and while holds have yet to take off, Pulitzer Prize-winning Faludi is known for making a splash. It is a good bet that her memoir will gain steam.

It is a timely story, about  Fluid’s relationship with her father, who had sex reassignment surgery late in life, as well as Faludi’s own relationship with her parent, after an almost complete estrangement.

During NPR’s Fresh Air  yesterday, Maureen Corrigan reviewed the memoir, saying it is “sprawling … a wide-ranging exploration of the concept of identity [that offers] a literary, even Gothic feel.”

As parent and adult child spend time together in a crumbling house, which, say  Corrigan points even has a locked attic, Faludi explores her childhood memories as contrasted to her new reality, seeking to find answers about identity, past and present, Corrigan says the search is “compelling, exhausting, messy and provocative.”

In a review posted online today and set to run on the front page of this coming  Sunday Book Review, The New York Times calls the memoir “rich, arresting and ultimately generous.”

Entertainment Weekly gave it an A- late last week, saying “It’s a gripping and honest personal journey—bolstered by reams of research—that ultimately transcends family and addresses much bigger questions of identity and reinvention.

The Wall Street Journal [subscription may be required] and Elle each offer takes as well while the Guardian ran an illustrated illustrated extract from the book.

GLASS CASTLE: Filming Begins

Friday, June 10th, 2016

glassThe film adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir The Glass Castle, (S&S/Scribner, 2005) is about to begin production in Montreal before moving on to Welch, WVA., reports Collider.

The film stars Brie Larson, winner of the Best Actress Oscar for Room, as Walls with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her dysfunctional, sometimes homeless, parents.

The release date has not yet been set.