Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category


Thursday, May 5th, 2016

glass If you’ve been rooting for the film adaptation of  Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir The Glass Castle, (S&S/Scribner, 2005), you’ll cheer at the news that the main cast in nearly in place, signaling that the film may finally move forward after having been originally signed four years ago.

Actress Sarah Snook, reports Deadline, is in negotiations to play the sister of Brie Larson who stars as Walls, a role originally assigned to Jennifer Lawrence. Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson will play their parents.

In The Glass Castle Walls writes the harrowing story of her childhood, growing up with dysfunctional, sometimes homeless  parents, to eventually become a well-respected journalist. A best seller in hardcover, it had its biggest success in trade paperback, and was in the top ten on that NYT list for over two years straight, returning many times since, including a run last summer.

Hey Kids: Game On

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

9780374160012_b5555A string of articles, led by The Wall Street Journal, has helped a parenting book zoom up the Amazon charts.

The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can Help You Deal with the Toughest Negotiators You Know–Your Kids by Paul Raeburn and Kevin Zollman (Macmillan/Scientific American/ FSG; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) combines the insight of a father of five with the expertise of an academic to offer ways to help parents game their kid’s most common and exasperating behaviors, such a lying, fighting, and not doing what they were told.

The WSJ piece [subscription might be required] leads a diverse pack of stories, including coverage in Scientific American, Slate, Live Science, and Fast Company.

9781594206276_19101Slate notes this is another example of academics pairing with writers to “create a true crossover offering, one that marries rigorous research and real scholarship with a compelling style and narrative arc that human beings actually want to read on purpose,” citing Jonathan Franzen’s book on Karl Kraus, as well as better example,   Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (PRH/Penguin, 2015), proving once again the “Three Examples Is a Trend” theory of journalism,

Presidential Memories

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

9781476794136_20f2fFollowing a feature on the Today show, Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin (S&S/Gallery Books; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) has risen on Amazon sales rankings to #16.

The memoir, written by the former secret service agent who was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy and threw his body across the President’s on the day of the assassination, offers anecdotes and reflections on his time working with five Presidents and the historical and personal moments he witnessed.

People has been running anecdotes from the book online. One focuses on Elvis’s meeting with Nixon, another on the effect of the death of the Kennedys’ infant son on JFK, and a final feature on JFK’s efforts to protect Jackie’s public image.

Hill’s previous two books were NYT best sellers. Five Days in November spent two weeks on the Hardcover Nonfiction in 2013, debuting at #3. Mrs. Kennedy and Me, 2012, was on for six weeks, hitting a high of #2.


Thursday, May 5th, 2016

9781400052172_1e7daHBO’s adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has some serious star power. It was just announced that Oprah Winfrey, who first signed the book in 2010, will also star in the film.

The book tells the sad but fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks,  a poor black woman from Baltimore who died in 1951. However, cancer cells removed from her body without her knowledge continue to be used in medical research. The book has been a fixture on best seller lists, spending a year on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list and another 2 years on the Paperback Nonfiction list, where it reappears regularly (most recently at #15 on the May 1, 2016 extended list).

People reports that Oprah will play Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter and the character through whom the story is told in the book. According to Variety, “with Winfrey attached to star [the project] has been put on the fast-track with filming beginning this summer.”

Skloot will serve as a co-executive producer and Henrietta Lacks’ sons, Zakariyya Rahman and David Lacks, Jr. and granddaughter Jeri Lacksare, will serve as consultants.

No news yet on when the film is likely to debut.

Math with Taste, Not Tests

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

9780465097678_e1ae6A front page feature in the NYT‘s Science section sent How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics, Eugenia Cheng (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Basic Books) racing up the Amazon sales rankings.

Currently #136 (up from 4,803), the book mixes fundamental mathematical principles with recipes, offering Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies to get things going. Don’t expect a cookbook however; Dr. Cheng is focused on the math, offering an accessible, quirky, and clever tour of how it works.

The NYT‘s feature highlights Dr. Cheng’s mission as a “math popularizer,” pointing out her rising fame – she has been a guest on Late Night With Stephen Colbert and hosts extraordinarily popular online math tutorials – and her conviction that “the pleasures of math can be conveyed to the legions of numbers-averse humanities majors still recovering from high school algebra.”

To get a sense of Dr. Cheng’s culinary chops, the article offers a recipe for Bach pie, a treat to honor the composer mathematicians adore, complete with “an Escher-like braid of four glazed pastry plaits that followed divergent trajectories, never quite crisscrossing where you expected them to.”

The paperback edition of How to Bake Pi goes on sale next week. Libraries we checked are seeing steady circ. on the hardback edition, which came out last year.

For all those going to BEA, Cheng is a participant in this year’s Day of Dialog, a featured author of the Art of Nonfiction panel.

Below, she frightens Colbert:

Cleaning Sweeps Up

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

9781601427960_b52b8Currently in the #12 spot on Amazon’s sales rankings, The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker (PRH/WaterBrook) appeals to fans of the surprise hit, now a trend-setter, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Becker has a ready audience. He runs a heavily trafficked website, Becoming Minimalist. His book appeals to two currently hot topics, decluttering and learning to live with less, but with a spiritual element. Becker describes his approach by saying, “There’s a better way to live life—one that recognizes the empty promises of consumerism and champions the pursuit of living simply, Scripturally, and Jesus-centered.”

Holds in several libraries we checked were running far over a 3:1 ratio on very light ordering while other systems have yet to buy.

GRIT Gains

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016


As a result of a feature on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Angela Duckworth’s  Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio) is rising quickly Amazon sales ranking. At #34 the day before it goes on sale, it’s likely to hit bestseller lists next week. Holds across libraries we checked are strong, reflecting high interest in the subject.

Grit posits that stick-to-itiveness is a fundamental key to success, a topic which Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has also detailed in a very popular TED Talk. On NPR, she describes grit as  “stamina. But it’s not just stamina in your effort. It’s also stamina in your direction, stamina in your interests … Grit is typically about an overarching, generally abstract goal that motivates everything that you do.”

Last month, on NPR’s Hidden Brain program, Duckworth gave a longer interview on the subject and her book was included on the “hot upcoming nonfiction” lists complied by The Washington Post, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal [subscription may be required].

Curious as to your own grittiness? Duckworth has an online quiz.

Order Alert: RED PLATOON

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

9780525955054_cda59Surging up the Amazon ranks on the strength of a CBS Sunday Morning feature is Clinton Romesha’s  Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor (PRH/Dutton; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample), which hits shelves tomorrow.  

The author, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan, writes about the battle for Outpost Keating in 2009, an against-the-odds fight in which eight American soldiers died trying to defend a combat post on the front lines of the war, a place Romesha calls “the most remote, precarious and tactically-screwed combat outpost in all of Afghanistan.”

In their starred review, PW said the account “ranks among the best combat narratives written in recent decades” and that Romesha’s “powerful, action-packed book is likely to stand as a classic of the genre.”

Variety reported in late January that Sony Pictures optioned film rights to the memoir.

Ordering is light across libraries we checked.


James Beard 2016 Award Winners

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

9780544373280_b69fcZahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (HMH/Rux Martin), has won the 2016 James Beard Book of the Year award.

Chef Solomonov is no stranger to the Beard honors. In 2011 he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Now his debut cookbook, which highlights the pleasures of Israeli food and profiles his restaurant and life journey, gets similar accolades.

The James Beard Awards, billed as the Oscars of the food world, are given for 14 book categories (as well as for chefs, journalists, TV shows and more). Zahav also took home the International book award.

9781607745532_35ad0Deborah Madison won the Cookbook Hall of Fame category. Her most recent title is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (RH/Ten Speed).

The very timely Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by Marion Nestle (Oxford UP) won for Writing and Literature while The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook by Chris Fischer with Catherine Young (Hachette/Little, Brown) took the prize for American Cooking. V Is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks — from Artichokes to Zucchini by  Michael Anthony with Dorothy Kalins (Hachette/Little, Brown) won for Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian.

Best seller 9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (Norton) topped the General Cooking category. It won the IACP Cookbook of the Year award earlier this month (see our coverage here).

Other than The Food Lab there are no overlapping winners between the two highly regarded food awards.

The full list of James Beard winners is available online.

SNOWDEN, First Trailer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Director Oliver Stone’s interpretation of the Edward Snowden story, based on
Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, (RH/Vintage; trade pbk tie-in, 8/23/16), titled simply Snowden, is set for release on Sept. 16.

The trailer released today, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, gives a taste:

Also in the movie are Shailene Woodley as Snowden’s girlfriend and Zachary Quinto as journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Curiously,  a rival project based on Greenwald’s  book,  No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Macmillan/Holt/Metropolitan Books; Macmillan Audio) was announced two years ago.

Even curiouser, as we reported earlier, there has also been a rivalry between the authors of the books each of the films are based on. In an interview in the Financial Times, Greenwald dismissed Harding’s as a “bullshit book … written by someone who has never met or even spoken to Edward Snowden.”

Threatened Law Suit
Equals Great Publicity

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

RuthlessA letter aimed at preventing next week’s publication of Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me by Ron Miscavige (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) has caused the book to rise on Amazon’s sales rankings.

The book’s UK publisher, Humfrey Hunter of Silvertail Books tells The Hollywood Reporter, “My plans for the book haven’t changed at all since I received the letter. Full legal due diligence has been carried out on the manuscript, and I am both confident in its integrity and very proud that Silvertail is publishing it. Ron’s story is an important one, and he is a brave man to be telling it.”

The letter sent to Silvertail, reproduced in The Hollywood Reporter‘s story, indicates the US publisher has been contacted as well, “We also trust that St Martin’s Press will have provided you with copies of correspondence from the Church’s US representatives.”

Ron Miscavige will appear on ABC’s “20/20” this Friday.

Megyn Kelly Memoir This Fall

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

13071938_1685157351746730_3986732117481768984_oMegyn Kelly, Fox News anchor and host of The Kelly File, announces on Facebook that she will publish her memoir this fall.

Kelly’s profile has risen lately thanks to Donald Trump’s attacks.

Trump is not sticking to the boycott. In a new twist, Deadline Hollywood reports that Kelly will interview the candidate in her first prime time special, Megyn Kelly Presents, airing during sweeps week on May 17.

The untitled book (Harper: ISBN 9780062494603) is available to preorder through library vendors and will release on 11/16/2015, one week after the presidential election.

According to the publisher the book will detail Kelly’s rise in journalism, her career at Fox, and the 2016 primary.

NOBODY on the Rise

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

The following tweet …

…sent the Pitch Perfect actress/comedian’s book of autobiographical essays rising on Amazon’s sales rankings to #27. Libraries we checked have not ordered it yet.

Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick, (S&S/Touchstone; S&S Audio, November 15, 2016)

The Smartest Animals

Monday, April 25th, 2016

9781594205217_9b364Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds (PRH/Penguin; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample) is taking flight on Amazon’s sales rankings, rising on the strong coverage in The Wall Street Journal [may require subscription], which calls it “a gloriously provocative and highly entertaining book [and] a work of wonder and an affirmation of the astonishing complexity of our world.”

Exploring bird cognition, Ackerman says that we will have to count them among the smartest of animals – so move over dolphins – and humans. As the paper relays, Ackerman has found that even the most common of birds have outperformed humans (even those trained as mathematicians) in statistical tests. Tool-making, impressive memories, bird song, and the ability to plot and plan with the best of them further prove our feathered friend’s intellectual capacity.

Ackerman has also been featured on NPR’s “On Point,” Audubon ran an interview and  Scientific American granted its recommendation.

Holds are strong on light ordering.

Bad-Ass Librarians On NPR

Monday, April 25th, 2016

9781476777405_4f5a6On Saturday’s edition of All Things Considered Joshua Hammer talked about his new book, The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts (Simon & Schuster; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample). As a result, the book soared up the Amazon’s sales rankings.

Hammer talks about the librarian and adventurer, Abdel Kader Haidara, who gathered ancient manuscripts together in a splendid library, why the manuscripts are so critical, and how they were saved from militant Islamists.

He describes a modern day Indiana Jones, traveling “on camels across the Sahara, on riverboats, going to small villages” in search of lost and forgotten manuscripts that “portrayed Islam as practiced in this corner of the world as a blend of the secular and the religious — or they showed that the two could coexist beautifully.”

Once Timbuktu, a city on edge of the Sahara desert, was sized by hardline Islamists backed by al-Qaida the manuscripts, some 350,000 thousand of them were under threat and the bad-ass librarians went to work to smuggle them out of danger.

The LibraryReads pick is getting wide coverage, including from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (which has a photo of the librarian and manuscripts). The National Archives will live stream a program with Hammer on 4/25.

Holds are strong on light ordering across libraries we checked.