Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Yiannopoulos Book Deal Canceled

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Self-styled “provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos has finally gone too far. His book DANGEROUS (S&S/Threshold Editions; S&S Audio), originally announced for release on March 14, then delayed to June 13, has now been canceled by publisher Simon and Schuster because, reports the NYT, of the release of a “video in which he condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.” Further, states the story, he may lose his position as Senior Editor at Breitbart News.

That doesn’t mean the book will not be published. Yiannopoulos can now shop the book to other publishers.

Roxane Gay, who canceled her contract for future books with Simon and Schuster in protest over the Yiannopoulos book, released a statement that the move does not change her position.

A Lost Southern Cookbook, Rediscovered

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

9780847858422_c9ab1Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook: A Mouth-Watering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes by Pamela Strobel, Matt Lee, Ted Lee (Rizzoli) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings after NPR’s All Things Considered featured the newly rediscovered cookbook. It jumped from #6,945 to #94.

In the 1960s Pamela Strobel was an early version of a celebrity chef. Her NYC restaurant, Little Kitchen, was a such a hit she was featured on TV and published a cookbook. NPR reports the restaurant “was basically a speakeasy. You had to know to ring the bell to be let in.” She did not let just anyone in.

Between then and now, the restaurant closed, Strobel’s fame faded, and the cookbook went out of print.

Now it is back, because Ted and Matt Lee “found a ragged copy at a vintage booksellers.” The Lee brothers are the force behind several cookbooks, including the 2007 James Beard Cook Book of the Year, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners.

They met Strobel long ago when they were starting up their business selling Southern food via mail order. Matt Lee tells NPR:

“we knocked on her door. It said please knock. It was always locked, and she peeled back the curtain and sized us up, cracked the door open. And we gave our pitch, and she was like no, thanks and closed the door. And that was our one experience with the great Princess Pamela.”

After they found her book they spent years working on her story. Where she is now and what happened to her is a mystery. Even a private detective has been unable to locate her or determine what became of her.

She is no mystery to the cooking world, however. Confirming her star power, Carla Hall, Ruth Reichl, and Marcus Samuellson offer blurbs.

The cookbook is the first of a new imprint, the Lee Brothers Library Series, and is published complete with the poetry Strobel included with nearly every recipe.

Yiannopoulos Book Delayed

Friday, February 17th, 2017

9781501173080_e3f72The Breitbart News editor who was banned from Twitter for harassment and calls himself “The most fabulous supervillain on the internet,” is delaying his controversial new book DANGEROUS (S&S/Threshold Editions; S&S Audio), pushing the pub. date back from its original March 14 to June 13.

USA Today reports he has asked publisher for more time so he can include recent events in the book, including the violent protests against his planned appearance at the University of California, Berkeley, which was then cancelled. 

Reactions to the book have been highly charged. Roxane Gay pulled her forthcoming book with the publisher saying “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo.”

As USA Today characterizes it, S&S president Carolyn Reidy “felt compelled to send a letter to concerned authors, which read in part: ‘First and foremost, I want to make clear that we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech.’”

Yiannopoulos told The Hollywood Reporter, “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”

Bill Maher has booked Yiannopoulos on his show for tonight, causing The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill to cancel his own appearance and forcing Maher to defend his actions, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Yiannopoulos has a large social media following and is a master at creating his own PR. His initial book announcement sent the title soaring on Amazon but it has since fallen sharply, although it remains in the top 50 sellers based on pre-orders. Despite his full court press, few know much about the book. USA Today offers a list of what is known, including that S&S won’t talk about the content and “respectfully declined” a request for more details. Libraries are showing low holds ratios.

HENRIETTA LACKS, Premiere Date

Friday, February 17th, 2017

9781400052172_1e7daHBO just announced that their 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.

Oprah Winfrey stars as Deborah Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter and the character through whom the story is told. Rose Byrne (Damages) plays Skloot. Others in the cast include Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) and Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story). George C. Wolfe (Angels In America) wrote the adaptation and will direct.

The book recounts the sad but fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman from Baltimore who died in 1951. Johns Hopkins Hospital removed cancer cells from her body without her permission  They were the first cells to live outside a human body, making them invaluable for medical research. They continue to be used today.

The story is in the news again for reasons other than the HBO series. The Lacks family is suing Johns Hopkins. Lacks’s  grandson explains to The Baltimore Sun “Everyone else is making funds off of Henrietta’s cells … I am sure my grandmother is up in heaven saying, ‘Well, what about my family?‘”

A fixture on best seller lists, the book spent a year on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list and over four on the Paperback Nonfiction list, falling off that list just a couple of weeks ago. 

9780804190107_07eacTie-in: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Tie-In Edition), Rebecca Skloot (PRH/Broadway Books; March 28, 2017; OverDrive Sample).

Finding Pho

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

9781607749585_fca3dA favorite dish from Vietnam has found wide press coverage in the US thanks to The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodle by Andrea Nguyen (PRH/Ten Speed Press; OverDrive Sample).

The NYT highlights the book in Florence Fabricant’s “Front Burner” column, WSJ runs a piece by Nguyen exploring its many variations, and foodie sites such as Lucky Peach, Epicurious, and Chowhound have also featured it.

Nguyen is considered one of the foremost experts on Vietnamese cookery. In a recent interview on San Francisco’s public radio station she shared her philosophy about teaching others to cook, “There’s so much intimidation about this. I try to take a certain Home Depot approach, like ‘You can do it, and I can help!’ As a cookbook author, you’re really just there to coach people along. If they’re happy, I’m thrilled.”

Her book is getting stellar reviews. Food & Wine writes “Nguyen is a master teacher when it comes to Vietnam’s national dish, and in her new book she provides meticulously clear instructions for every imaginable variety—we recommend you cook through every chapter.”

Proving Pho’s entry into the wider foodie culture, Target carries the book.

Hamilton, Meet Grant

Friday, February 10th, 2017

455px-presidents_ulysses_s_grant_by_houseworthHistorian Ron Chernow is moving from the Revolutionary War era to the Civil War era with a biography of Ulysses S. Grant (PRH/Penguin; ISBN 9781594204876) coming October 17, 2017. The book will be massive, running 928 pages.

The Associated Press reports that it will be “the most high-profile effort yet to change the reputation of the country’s 18th president” from what was, as described by the publisher, that of “a chronic loser and inept businessman … whose tenure came to symbolize the worst excesses of the Gilded Age” to being regarded by Ta-Nehisi Coates as a literary hero.

Chernow has had some luck in refurbishing historical figures. His 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin) was the basis for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning sensation. Chernow attributed its success to spurring him on to finish the new book.

Elizabeth Warren Will Not Be Silenced

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

9781250120625Drawing attention to a Senate vote this week to force her to stop talking, Elizabeth Warren announces that she will publish a new book, due April 18, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books).

The Associated Press reports “It will offer a mini-history of the American middle class, from the New Deal of the 1930s to what the publisher calls President Donald Trump’s ‘phony promises’ that endanger it now.”

It will also include, says the publisher, “eye-opening stories about her battles in the Senate and vividly describes the experiences of hard-working Americans who have too often been given the short end of the stick.”

As Fortune points out, potential presidential candidates “often write books about their experiences to burnish their credentials prior to a presidential run. Former President Barack Obama wrote Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote Hard Choices in 2014.” All were bestsellers.

Warren has written other books, including her 2014 title, A Fighting Chance, which became a bestseller.

American Microcosm

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

9781250085801_3099aCalled by Laura Miller of Slate part of “a new and still fairly accidental genre: the on-the-ground Trump explainer,” Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town by Brian Alexander (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press; OverDrive Sample) jumped into the top 100 on Amazon’s sales rankings today.  

Yesterday, Alexander was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air about his book on Lancaster, Ohio and the Anchor Hocking glass factory which powered the city through the 40s, 50s, and 60s. He explains that the wives of the company’s executives “threw themselves into the town … they made sure the sidewalks got repaired, the streets got paved, they attended city council meetings. This was a core of civic leadership.”

Then, in the 1980s, Carl Icahn began a highly profitable move to extract money from the company. As a result, details Alexander, it eventually suffered a hostile takeover. The first thing the new owners did was “fire all of the executives and close down the headquarters … So you’ve taken away the executives, you’ve taken away their wives, their families. … [It was] devastating for the town.”

Miller calls the book part of a genre of nonfiction “illuminating the desperation driving white small-town Americans, as told by a native son. The vanguard title in this pack is J.D. Vance’s surprise success Hillbilly Elegy.”

Glass House she says “is less personal, less tortured, a work of journalism far more willing to indict … This book hunts bigger game … [it] reads like an odd—and oddly satisfying—fusion of George Packer’s The Unwinding and one of Michael Lewis’ real-life financial thrillers.”

The Trump Bump Continues

Monday, February 6th, 2017

fred-douglas best-brightest

Donald Trump may have read fewer books than he has written, but, as we’ve noted before, his administration is having an effect on book sales.  Frederick Douglass’s autobiography got a boost after Trump lauded him this week (although, based on his comments, some question if he has a firm handle on who Douglass was). The number of titles is growing so rapidly that Lit Hub has begun a running list, which includes the Constitution

Trump is not the only one in the administration having an effect on sales. As we noted earlier, a NYT report that Trump senior advisor Bannon assigned David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest to everyone in the cabinet because it shows “how little mistakes early on can lead to big ones later,” caused that book to rise on Amazon’s sales rankings.

There’s no word on whether Trump is reading it.

Cautionary Tale

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Time cover BannonFrom Saturday Night Live‘s opening skit last night, where he is portrayed as the Grim Reaper, to the cover of Time magazine, where he is called “The Great Manipulator,” Trump’s chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon has been all over the media.

He also happens to be behind the current rise of a book on Amazon sales rankings, The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam’s 1972 examination, republished by PRH/Ballantine in 1993, of how, despite having some of the best minds in the country in the cabinet, the Kennedy administration got the country into the Vietnam War.

In a story in the NYT today, sports reporter Marc Tracy writes that, shortly after Christmas, he spotted Bannon carrying the book in an airport and asked if he was reading it. He replied that he’d assigned it to “everyone” on the transition team and that “It’s great for seeing how little mistakes early on can lead to big ones later.”

As Tracy concludes, it’s difficult to know if Bannon puts his latest moves into the category of “little mistakes.”

Unf*ck Your Shelves

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

9781604336610_6fa0aWay back in 2011, the title Go The F@@K to Sleep by Adam Mansbach (Akashic; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) had a certain shock value. After that, the word you still can’t say on TV began to show up on multiple book jackets. Even tidying up got the treatment with the recent Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin), described by the publisher as “Marie Kondo meets Thug Kitchen.” Once swear words hit coloring books, the shock value seems to have worn off.

Not so says the Wall Street Journal, which reports that bookstores face a dilemma about whether to display these titles (subscription may be required to view). Some do, others keep them behind the counter, or make sure they are not displayed at kid-friendly heights.

That may not be an issue for libraries, since books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (HC/HarperOne; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) are still showing holds lists and therefore are not available for display.

Supreme Court Nominee’s Book Rising

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

9780691140971In a high-profile prime-time announcement last night, Donald Trump delivered on his promise to nominate a conservative to the Supreme Court, Neil M. Gorsuch. As a result, Gorsuch’s 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia (Princeton University Press) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings.

As might be expected for a book written primarily for the legal profession, it is widely held in college and law libraries but few public libraries own copies, mostly in ebook format.

In it, Gorsuch argues against laws that allow patients the right to physician-assisted suicide, such as those in Oregon, which gained national attention when Brittany Maynard chose that path. A book on her story was published late last year.

The Washington Post writes of the Gorsuch book:

“The front cover looks almost like a Tom Clancy novel, with purple all-caps block text set against a black background. But the book itself is a deep, highly cerebral overview of the ethical and legal debate surrounding the practices. In it, Gorsuch reveals that he firmly opposes assisted suicide and euthanasia … “

Holds Alert: A MAN FOR ALL MARKETS

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

9781400067961_c8751A memoir from a MIT mathematician who beat the casinos at their own game is building reserve lists in libraries and climbing Amazon’s sales rankings, moving from #424 to within the Top 100.

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market, Edward O. Thorp (PRH/Random House; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) recounts Throp’s life in finance, distilling advice as well as mob-tinged tales.

The Wall Street Journal says the memoir “delightfully recounts his progress (if that is the word) from college teacher to gambler to hedge-fund manager. Along the way we learn important lessons about the functioning of markets and the logic of investment.”

Thorp, says the New York Post, invented the art of card counting, and incurred the wrath of the casino industry, so successfully that he was targeted for harm when he proved he could beat the house at blackjack. His 1962 guide, Beat the Dealer, sold over a million copies and is still in print.

After his careers in academia and the casinos, Thorp started hedge funds and tangled with Rudy Giuliani, who at the time was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Thorp prevailed and continued his successful career making money. 

Holds range from almost 5:1 to 47:1 on modest ordering in systems we checked.

Death of a Spy

Friday, January 27th, 2017

9781101973998_d801aThe author of a true-life espionage tale about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian secret service officer and enemy of Putin, Luke Harding was the guest on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday. He discussed his book on the subject, A Very Expensive Poison: The Assassination of Alexander Litvinenko and Putin’s War with the West (PRH/Vintage; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Due to his reporting on the murder while he was the Moscow bureau chief for The Guardian, Harding was expelled from Russia.

He has also written about Edward Snowden (The Snowden Files) and Julian Assange (WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy). Both books were sources for films, Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone, and The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange.

The book is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings today, skyrocketing from #116,292 to just outside the top 100. Libraries have been slow to order, or have bought in low numbers, perhaps due to a lack of pre-pub reviews.

The full interview also addresses possible Russian hacking of the US Presidential election, fake news, and Putin’s end game.

Sundance Premieres Al Gore’s Second Warning

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

9781635651089_1ec7a An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the follow-up to Al Gore’s Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, got a standing ovation at Sundance when it opened the festival last week.

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.”

Critical reaction to the screening is mostly positive. Slashfilm says “If An Inconvenient Truth was an eye-opening disaster movie, then An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power is the heartbreaking post-apocalyptic follow-up … You can sense Al Gore’s frustration, and he is certainly angrier this time around, but still as passionate as he ever has been.” The Hollywood Reporter adds “this fine film is a match for the first.

Several critics found it tedious, however. The Guardian writes it is “desultory and surprisingly vainglorious.”

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.