Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category


Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

The trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power has been released:

As we posted earlier, the sequel to Gore’s Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival where it received a standing ovation. It is now gearing up for its wide release, beginning with the politically pointed trailer.

Variety says the film depicts the “dire consequences of a warming earth — from flooding in Miami and the Philippines, to the worst drought on record in Syria, bringing human suffering there that predated the ongoing civil war, to air pollution so bad in some parts of China that life expectancy has declined by six years.”

A companion book will be published in May, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore (Macmillan/Rodale Books).

The documentary will open in theaters on July 28, 2017.

The High Cost of Lower Ed

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

9781620970607_ceeb9For-profit colleges are examined on NPR’s Fresh Air via an interview with Tressie McMillan Cottom author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (Perseus/PGW/Legato/The New Press).

Designed to make money for shareholders and company owners, rather than to transform students’ lives, she says, for-profit end up compound students’ “poverty and risk factors.”

The NYT reviews the book, calling it “revelatory” and writing it is “the best book yet on the complex lives and choices of for-profit students.”

The book has also been featured on Marketplace, MotherJones, The Leonard Lopate Show, and the Chicago Tribune.

Most libraries we checked have bought few copies or none at all.


Monday, March 27th, 2017

9780812996937_03b5cHolds are growing for Ariel Levy’s attention-getting memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply (PRH/Random; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Levy, a staff writer at the New Yorker, is getting attention from a wide range of media. The NYT highlights the author in a lengthy feature story detailing Levy’s take on what the paper calls her “karmic smackdown” of how she went from pregnant and married to a woman grieving the loss of her baby and watching her marriage dissolve:

“Ms. Levy wanted to interrogate her own responsibility for such a sequence of grim events … That is the intellectual backbone [of the memoir, one that examines the] hoary conceit, the one about women and ‘having it all’ … A thoroughly modern memoir, the elements … seem plucked not from the script of Girls, which has also been exploring reproductive issues of late, but Transparent — even Portlandia.”

Blurbed by some big names, including Lena Dunham, Cheryl Strayed, David Sedaris, Amy Bloom, and Alison Bechtel, it is reviewed by a range of outlets including Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Mother Jones, O magazine, and Time. Levy was also interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

The Atlantic says it is a “one-of-a-kind memoir” and that “Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”

It is also stirring controversy. The New Republic calls it “Infuriating … a monument to obliviousness” and says it “buys into the myth that feminism promises each woman that she can have whatever she wants … It’s unlikely many Black women or Arab women or undocumented women would presume a similar degree of permission and mobility, regardless of their exposure to Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.”

It is climbing the Amazon rankings, currently at #136, and a few systems we checked are showing holds above 6:1.


Monday, March 27th, 2017

9781250121462_c1182The film version of David Finkel’s Thank You For Your Service opens on October 27, 2017. As Variety reports, the release date is timed for awards season.

Oscar-nominated Jason Hall (for Best Adapted Screenplay, American Sniper) wrote the script and makes his directorial debut. Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Haley Bennett (The Girl on the Train), and Miles Teller (War Dogs) are among the large cast.

The book follows a group of soldiers as they try to adjust to civilian life after returning home from fighting in Baghdad. A critical success, it was reviewed by the NYT, Washington Post, NPR, and The Guardian, shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award and selected as a NYT‘s Notable Books of 2013.

tie-in edition (Macmillan/Picador; Macmillan Audio) comes out in September.

Look It Up

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

9781101870945_9cd32Rising on Amazon, currently at #72, and building holds is Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory Stamper (PRH/ Pantheon; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

The NYT ran an illustrated feature in today’s paper and online yesterday, saying that Stamper is a word-nerd cult figure, with a joyful and invested following on social media. Of they book the paper writes it:

mixes memoiristic meditations on the lexicographic life along with a detailed description of the brain-twisting work of writing dictionaries [it] describes [Stamper’s] own initiation into the art of lexicography, which involves wrestling with the continuous evolution of language. She walks the reader, chapter by chapter, through different aspects of a definition, including grammar, pronunciation, etymology and more.”

The Atlantic says it is an “eloquent love letter to letters themselves … a cheerful and thoughtful rebuke of the cult of the grammar scolds.”

Sites as diverse as the A.V. Club and The Economist weigh in as well.

The majority of libraries we checked have strong holds on very light orders or have not purchased at all.

Below is a sample of one of Stamper’s popular videos:

DARK MONEY Fills The Swamp

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

9780307947901_fddd1Jane Mayer’s 2016 best seller, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (PRH/Doubleday; RH Large Print; RH Audio/BOT; trade paperback; OverDrive Sample) is back in the news, and rising again on Amazon, jumping from #468 to #48, after the author published a new piece for this week’s The New Yorker entitled “The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency.”

Mayer was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday about the subjects of the story, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, who have “been major backers of Breitbart News and Steve Bannon’s other projects for years, and they were influential in getting Bannon and Kellyanne Conway into leadership positions in the Trump campaign.”

Dark Money was one of The New York Time’10 Best Books of 2016 and is currently a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, which recognizes a “book of extraordinary originality and lasting influence.” The winner of that award will be announced on Monday.

Most libraries we checked still have holds queues.


Sandberg Leans In to OPTION B

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

9781524732684_e51e2Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer and bestselling author of Lean In, is set to publish s new title next month, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT), co-written with Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.

The book is based on personal experience, as Sandberg writes on Facebook:

“A few weeks after my husband Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil Deutch about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan for someone to fill in so my son would not have to miss out. I cried, ‘But I want Dave.’ Phil put his arm around me and said, ‘Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.’ That became my mantra, and for the past two years I’ve tried hard to find meaning and happiness in the wake of our despair.”

On the strength of that post, picked up by Bustle and InStyle, which headlines their story, “You’ll Definitely Want to Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Empowering New Book,” it soared up Amazon’s sales rankings, and is currently at #9.

Thus far, library holds queues are light. Keep in mind, however, that Lean In got off to a slow start.

Dancing Up The Sales Charts

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

9781455596300_932fbMisty Copeland, the first African American woman to be a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, has published a new book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You (Hachette/Grand Central Life & Style; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It is rising on Amazon’s rankings thanks to an appearance on CBS This Morning, jumping from #920 to #36.

A clearly admiring panel of hosts talked with Copeland about the mental and emotional strength it takes to be a star athlete and dancer, calling the book “inspiring.”

It is Copeland’s third book, after her memoir Life In Motion and the children’s book Firebird. This time she stresses understanding health as a long journey, discovering what works for each person, and creating an individual version of a healthy image.

Franklin Fascination

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

9780393249385_b3036Rising on Amazon is a nonfiction account of a fabled sea-faring mystery, Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson (Norton; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), about the sad fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew aboard the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. The book not only details the doomed Arctic expedition seeking the Northwest Passage, but also the historic search for the lost ships and the modern discovery of their find. It leaped to #79 on Amazon’s sales rankings after the author appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.

In a brief, but wide ranging conversation, Watson details some of the search, telling NPR that Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane, was “extraordinarily assertive” and forced the Royal Navy to search for her husband and even lured the United States into looking for him.

The book is also getting newspaper coverage.

The Seattle Times calls it eloquent and “more valuable than most of what comes from the cottage industry of Franklin books.”

In an illustrated story, the Dallas News says that Watson “handles the complexity of the search admirably well.”

Watson has a much longer segment on Think, a program on the public radio station KERA in North Texas. Below is the Morning Edition segment:


The Holy Trinity of Trap

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

9781501165320_fce57Gucci Mane, who The New York Times calls “one of hip-hop’s most prolific and admired artists” is releasing his memoir, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane (S&S, Sept. 19, 2017).

Given his large social media presence (over 3 million followers on Twitter alone), his announcement of the book and its arresting jacket sent it climbing on Amazon where it is now in the Top 100 (at #100).

The publisher says “In his extraordinary autobiography, the legend takes us to his roots in Alabama, the streets of East Atlanta, the trap house, and the studio where he found his voice as a peerless rapper. He reflects on his inimitable career and in the process confronts his dark past—years behind bars, the murder charge, drug addiction, career highs and lows—the making of a trap god. It is one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of music.”

For those unfamiliar with “trap music,” the Guardian described the Atlanta-based genre last year, calling Gucci Mane one of the “holy trinity of trap”

The announcement was covered by Billboard and New York Magazine, along with a number of pop culture and music sites.

New Focus on Mental Illness

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

9780316341172_5cccaNo One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America, by Ron Powers (Hachette; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon after the author talked with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. It moved from #9,883 to #54.

Powers was  the co-author of Flags Of Our Fathers, about the men who were featured in an iconic WWII photo as they raised the America flag on Iwo Jima. A long-running best seller, it was also the basis of a film directed by Clint Eastwood.

Powers’ new book, says Gross, “is both a memoir about his sons and a history of how the mentally ill have been treated medically, legally and socially.” Both of Powers’s sons suffer with schizophrenia, one of them committed suicide and the other attempted it.

The intimate and warm interview mixes personal story with medical explanation and the social history of the illness.

Spring Cleaning with Kondo

Monday, March 20th, 2017

9781607747307_9d11aAfter spending over two years (and counting) on the NYT bestseller list and building months long holds queues in libraries (some systems are still working through their lists), Marie Kondo is back atop the Amazon sales rankings thanks to a feature on CBS Sunday Morning.

It seems there are still a few people who haven’t discovered Kondo. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, moved back up to #1, after dropping to #34 and her second book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (both from Ten Speed Press), is #15, after falling to #1,320.

Life-Changing Magic is a global sensation. It has been translated into 40 languages and has sold over 7 million copies. NYT ran a feature about her last July, writing her “name is now a verb  … [her] life has become a philosophy.” The Wall Street Journal even applied her methods to digital life.

As an aid to those facing spring cleaning, CSB Sunday Morning offers a short profile of her system, including her special ways of folding clothes so they can be stacked upright in drawers. They also note she is working on a smart phone app and training a horde of cleaning consultants.


Monday, March 20th, 2017

9781101875681_5fe86When he was in his 20s Christopher Thomas Knight became a hermit, living in self-imposed isolation in the Maine woods for close to 30 years. His story, and that of his arrest for a string of robberies, is the subject of the new book The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It debuts on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction best seller list at #11 this week, having been both a LibraryReads and an Indie Next pick and is receiving some belated critical attention.

The NYT reviews it, saying it will have “mass appeal … It’s campfire-friendly and thermos-ready, easily drained in one warm, rummy slug. It also raises a variety of profound questions — about the role of solitude, about the value of suffering, about the diversity of human needs.”

The Atlantic says that Knight “avoided humanity with the guile of a samurai … He entered the woods like a suicide, leaving his keys inside the car. He had no destination, nor a map; he carried a tent but had never spent a night in one before. Most of his family members and friends assumed he had died. In one sense they were right.”

USA Today gives it three out of four stars and writes it is an “intriguing account of Knight’s capture and confessions, and while it amasses the inventive details of Knight’s solitary life, it can’t quite explain the man himself. Knight is opaque — more than a loner, hardly a lunatic.”

The 2014 GQ story that launched the book is the magazine’s most-read story ever. They now offer an interview with Finkel.

The Guardian runs an illustrated extract.

Holds vary widely across the systems we checked, with a high of 8:1 and a low below 1:1. However, if the GQ article is any guide, this is the kind of book that grows an audience over time.

Adichie’s Nonfiction Best Seller

Friday, March 17th, 2017

9781524733131_bfaa3The Nigerian-born novelist and feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the novels Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, is on the bestseller lists again. Her short nonfiction guide to raising children, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample), just landed at #4 on the NYT Nonfiction bestseller list.

The author is profiled by both The New York Times and The Washington Post. She tells the Post that she wrote the book “to help create the world my daughter will love.”

She was recently been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, saying that girls are raised to be likable. forcing them to “mold and shape what [they] do and say based on what [they] imagine the other person wants to hear.”

The Guardian writes “In the new book, Adichie’s advice is not only to provide children with alternatives – to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single way to be – but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichie’s point. She is not writing for other feminist writers.”


Thursday, March 16th, 2017

HBO’s adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s long-running bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will begin airing on Sunday, April 22 at 8 p.m. The first trailer was released yesterday.

Expected to be a major show for the cable network, the release is being heavily covered by the entertainment media. Jezebel says “it looks like it might do Henrietta’s story justice.” Elle says it “is certain to be compelling.” Slate, Entertainment Weekly, and RollingStone (which was the first to report Lacks’s story, in 1976) also covered the news.

Oprah Winfrey stars as Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter. Rose Byrne (Damages) plays Skloot. Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) plays Henrietta and Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) plays con artist Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield. The Broadway superstar and Tony winning George C. Wolfe (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk) wrote the screenplay and directs.

A tie-in comes out at the end of the month: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition), Rebecca Skloot (PRH/Broadway Books; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample; March 28, 2017).