Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category


Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

9781501145247_4fd79There have been several books about the Notorious RBG, also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The first book written by her, appropriately titled, My Own Words (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample) debuts on this week’s hardcover NYT nonfiction best seller list.

She was the focus of the most recent edition of the NewsHour Bookshelf. Gwen Ifill interviews Ginsburg, opening with a question on how she became a cult icon.

Ginsburg says it has been “utterly amazing” and credits a second year law student at NYU who started the Notorious RBG Tumbler blog, posting Ginsburg’s dissent to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (that post eventually led to a book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, HarperCollins/Dey Street Books, an unexpected hit last year).

Ifill says her reputation as a “folk hero” also has something to do with the way she writes and takes on her colleagues.

Ginsburg also says that until Jimmy Carter’s presidency it was unrealistic that a woman could ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. When she graduated there was not a single woman on any Federal bench. Carter, although he never got to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, changed that by appointing women to the Federal bench, paving the way for Ginsburg.

As we noted earlier, Ginsburg wears a special collar when she is on the dissenting side. The end of the PBS piece reveals she wears a gold lace one when she is with the majority opinion.

Holds to copies are not huge, but some systems are showing spikes of 5:1 ratios.

The Nightmare Behind TRUEVINE

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

9780316337540_bff94Journalist Beth Macy talked about her new book, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample) on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday.

Already listed as a finalist for the Carnegie Medal and the Kirkus Prize and an October Indie Next selection, Variety reports that negotiations are underway to acquire screen rights as “a potential starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio.” The NYT and USA Today offer recent reviews, with Janet Maslin of the NYT‘s calling it an “expert work of nonfiction” and USA Today writing “Macy’s conscientious reporting … and her vigorous storytelling make the saga … even more enthralling than fiction.” The Washingtonian has an illustrated excerpt.

Fresh Air host Terry Gross says the book, which follows the true story of two young black albino brothers, who were exhibited in a traveling freak show, helps explore “a larger story about race, class and entertainment in the first half of the 20th century.”

Macy’s previous book, Factory Man, was also admired by Maslin who said it is “in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers … Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down.” The book was not quite as popular as the comparisons. It debuted at #10 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction Best Sellers list during its first week on sale, remained on the main list for 3 weeks, and continued on the extended list for 4 more weeks.

As we reported earlier, Tom Hanks’s production company, Playtone, had plans to adapt Factory Man for an HBO mini-series, but there has been no news on the project since.


Monday, October 17th, 2016

mv5bmjqxotkxoduyn15bml5banbnxkftztgwntu3ntm3ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Originally scheduled for release in mid-January, the film adaptation Hidden Figures will arrive in theaters earlier, opening in limited release on Christmas Day indicating the producers think it has a shot at the Oscars.

As we earlier noted, the film stars Taraji P. Henson (whose newly-released memoir, Around the Way Girl, S&S/Atria, is making Hollywood news), Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as a group of African American women who worked at NASA in Langley, Virginia on the mission that sent John Glenn into space in 1962. Also in the cast are Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Glen Powell.

9780062363596_b2357Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), hit the NYT Nonfiction list at #7 in September with the paper featuring the author in  “The Story Behind This Week’s Best Sellers,” quoting Shetterly on her experience growing up: “I knew so many African-Americans working in science, math and engineering that I thought that’s just what black folks did.”

The film was the subject of a clever bit of creative marketing during the recent Toronto International Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter, where a special concert with “Pharrell Williams and other performing artists involved with the movie’s soundtrack” accompanied a screening of “exclusive footage” and a Q&A session with the high powered stars.

The book will be released in paperback in December. Two young readers editions, for ages 8 to 12,  are also scheduled, in hardcover and paperback.

She Writes The Songs

Monday, October 17th, 2016

9781501153266_2f05aCBS Sunday Morning featured lyricist Carole Bayer Sager on her memoir, They’re Playing Our Song (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Sager wrote such famous song as Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” Melissa Manchester’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and Dionne Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are For.”

She has been writing hits for more than 50 years and thinks a good lyric “is one that touches me, and therefore I feel it’ll touch you.” Most recently she co-wrote the song “Stronger Together” which closed the Democratic National Convention.

For all her success, which includes a hit Broadway musical, an Oscar, and a Grammy, Sager lived a rocky life, raised by “a domineering mother” and married multiple times, including to the distant Burt Bacharach.

She tells CBS’s Rita Braver that she has finally settled in to a loving marriage and has an appreciative outlook, saying “I do feel so extraordinarily grateful that I got to do what I love to do in this life, and I was rewarded for it … I would have done it for nothing.”

CBS Sunday Morning posts some web exclusives to accompany the profile, including an excerpt from the memoir describing creating the hit theme from the movie Arthur, more on her marriage to Bacharach, and her views on aging.

Separately, New York magazine posts an excerpt from the book that describes writing a son with Bob Dylan.

Vegging Out

Friday, October 14th, 2016

9780062438485_a1d19  9781615192830_eafd2

Vegan cooking got a huge boost yesterday from NPR’s Fresh Air.

The lauded chefs and owners of Philadelphia’s Vedge and V Street restaurants, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, join host Terry Gross in a lengthy interview that sent both of their books, each named after their eateries, soaring up the Amazon rankings.

Their newest book, V Street: 100 Globe-Hopping Plates on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking (HarperCollins/Morrow Cookbooks) rose from #1,703 to #12 while their 2013 title, Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking (Workman/The Experiment), rose from #56,116 to #334.

Gross opens the show by introducing the married couple as “two vegan chefs who are working to redefine cooking with vegetables to make the food exciting and satisfying, even for meat eaters.”

Landau says, “I’ve told people for years it’s not really meat that tastes so good. It’s what chefs do to it that tastes so good. And we’re trying to put that same attention into vegetables.”

Asked about the story behind V Street,”inspired by street food from around the world” Jacoby says they have found “really interesting cultural food experiences that complemented the fine dining” they experienced while travelling. The couple has been drawn to Japanese food, finding it the most seasonal, and also to Moroccan dishes.

Landau says “The flavors were just so amazing. It was kind of like Indian food in the sense that they used all these spices, and yet, you never really tasted one spice in the final dish. You tasted this kind of … great symbiosis of all these spices working together to make one final beautiful flavor.”

The entire conversation ranges from eating vegan on the road, to allergies, to food porn, to the value of creating food you believe in.

Eater gives a sense of the foodie world’s reception to the couple’s approach.

Take Every Road

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

169565Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle (HC/HarperOne; Harper Audio) is an inspirational travel story about a 90-year-old woman facing a cancer diagnosis who took to the road with her son and daughter-in-law in an RV.

It will not be on bookshelves until May 2, 2017 but it is already in Amazon’s Top 100, catapulting up those rankings more than a hundred thousand places to move from #103,745 to #98.

That giant leap coincides with a brief story on All Things Considered about learning to live in the moment.

Shortly after becoming a widow, Norma learned she had cancer. Rather than spend the time left to her in hospitals and treatment rooms, Norma told her doctor, “Nope, I’m not doing any of that,” and spent her last year on a great adventure.

She discovered she loved key lime pie, and traveled to places, even those near by, she had never seen.

The book is born out of blog that her daughter-in-law kept that recounts the travels and character of Norma as she lived her last year to the fullest.

She died last week at 91, celebrated by her family “on the other side of the country from where her RV adventures began.”

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living:
• ISBN: 9780062664327
• ISBN 10: 0062664328
• Imprint: HarperOne
• On Sale: 05/02/2017

All Rise for RBG

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

9781501145247_4fd79The Supreme Court Justice who has become an unlikely cultural icon, complete with her own Rap nick name, the Notorious RBG (also the title of a  best selling book), has published  My Own Words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams (Simon & Schuster; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It is a collection of writings and speeches on a wide range of legal and social issues, such as gender equality, but also her life, such as her love of opera and being Jewish.

Jane Pauley, who just taken over as the hots of CBS Sunday Morning, interviews the justice, calling her life one of “achievement and loss.” Just two days before she graduated from high school her mother died, leaving Ginsburg with advice she has never forgotten, “She said two things: Be a lady and be independent. Be a lady meant don’t give way to emotions that sap your energy, like anger. Take a deep breath and speak calmly.”

Perhaps part of being a lady as well are the collars RBG is so famous for wearing. She shows Pauley a few, including her “dissenting collar — It’s black and grim.”

After graduating first in her class from Columbia law school she got no job offers. She says, quoting another overlooked female law expert, “my dear colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor, put that very well. She said, ‘If Ruth and I came of age at a time when there was no discrimination against women, we would be retired partners in a major law firm.’”

Her achievements are many but her first national test came in 1972 when she wrote the first Supreme Court brief on gender discrimination. She is also remarkably collegial. She calls the Court the most collegial place she has ever worked and is famous for her friendship with the late Antonin Scalia.

A workaholic, she says “I will do this job as long as I feel that I can do it full steam. At my age, you have to take it year by year. So this year I know I’m fine. What will be next year or the next year? I can’t predict.”

Ginsburg will also be featured on CBS This Morning, PBS’s Newshour, and Charlie Rose.

PATRIOTS DAY, First Trailer

Friday, October 7th, 2016

mv5bodyxmdc0ntg2nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjy0ndyzote-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_The film Patriots Day deals with a sensitive subject, the terrorist bombing during the 2013 Boston marathon.

The movie is open to objections that it exploits painful events relatively soon after they took place. As a result, the NYT reports CBS films is to rolling out the trailer with care. Just released today, it is muted, focusing on the collective strength that the Boston police force and the city showed in the face of the bombing rather than the event itself.

9781611685596_f90c1Based on the nonfiction title, Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge (UP New England/ForeEdge), it follows the events of the bombing and the citywide manhunt to find the terrorists.

Directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Lone Survivor) it stars Mark Wahlberg, J. K. Simmons, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon and Michelle Monaghan. The film will open in limited release on December 21, 2016 (qualifying it for the 2017 Oscar race) with a wide release on January 13, 2017.



Thursday, October 6th, 2016

9780544319592_8a3dc“Some Pig” declared Charlotte the spider in E.B. White’s classic children’s book, Charlotte’s Web. Melissa Sweet, a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator, borrows that line to title her new biography of the beloved author, Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White (HMH Books for Young Readers).

The title is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping from #1,275 to #160, the result of coverage on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Sweet, a collage artist, created the booking letters, manuscript drafts, photos, illustrations, and more, offering readers, young and old, layered, detailed, and colorful images to investigate.

All Things Considered calls it “delightful” and outlines how White came up with his two most famous story ideas, “Stuart Little came to him in a dream,” says Sweet, “one he had on a train. He woke up and wrote it all down … The beginning of Charlotte’s Web was because he had a sick pig that died and E.B. White wanted redemption. He wanted to find a way to save the pig’s life.”

The book, which Sweet calls a “176-page picture book biography” earned starred reviews from Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

The NPR page features some of the wonderful illustrations, more can be seen in the book video below and in this feature by PW.


Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

9781476795997_dc7e6Dogs have the ability to create “a picture of the world through smell” says Alexandra Horowitz in her new book Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample). It is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings after a feature on NPR’s Fresh Air, bounding up the charts to #94 from #8,258.

During the program Horowitz discusses how dog’s snouts work, that they can smell what time of day it is, and their work conducting search and rescue, bomb and drug detection, and cancer diagnosis. They can even smell electronics law officers want to locate. So amazing is their ability that they can smell a trace sent at a measurement of a trillionth of a gram.

Horowitz explains that dogs breathe differently than humans and their exhale, through the side of their nose, helps them hold onto scents longer, “It’s like a circular breathing of smelling. It also creates a little puff on the ground, a puff of air that might actually allow more odor molecules to come up toward their nose to be sniffed.”

She also discusses how important dog’s interactions with different smells are, warning, says NPR, “that pulling dogs away from smell-rich environments, such as fire hydrants and tree trunks, can cause them to lose their predisposition to smell.”

When we force dogs away from their smelling time and into the visual world we recognize, Horowitz says dogs “start attending to our pointing and our gestures and our facial expressions more, and less to smells.” She continues:

“I really am trying to counter what I and lots of owners have done our whole lives, which is discourage smelling. In fact, instead I’m trying to embrace it. So on a ‘smell walk,’ I just let the dog choose what we’re going to do, where we’re going to go, and how long we’re going to stay there. … I just let the dog take charge. Sometimes our walks are pretty much standing around, actually, but I think the dog is enjoying himself.”

9781416583431The interview connected with listeners, so much so that an older book by Horowitz also saw a jump. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know (S&S/Scribner; Tantor Media; OverDrive Sample). It  rose from #8,761 all the way to #302 on Amazon’s rankings.

For those who prefer cats, a report published yesterday in the The Wall Street Journal [subscription may be required] says watching cute cat videos makes people feel “significantly happier, more content and more energized … as well as less anxious, less annoyed and less sad.” Do yourself a favor and watch this:

Back to the dogs, here is the Fresh Air interview:


Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

9780060839789_2a833An all-star cast is set to bring one of Simon Winchester’s most beloved nonfiction accounts to the the screen, The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (HC/Harper Perennial, 1998; OverDrive Sample).

Mel Gibson and Sean Penn will star in the film about James Murray, the 19th century professor who compiled the OED.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Gibson will play Murray and that the project is a passion of his. He has been working on getting the adaptation made for “nearly two decades.” Penn will play Dr. W.C. Minor, the “madman” who contributed thousands of entries to the dictionary.

Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four) is set to join the cast and Entertainment Weekly reports that Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) will also feature in the film.

This is another turn in what may count as a comeback for Gibson. He is “fresh off the back of Venice Film Festival hit Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II drama” says Deadline, and he got strong reviews for this year’s Blood Father.

A premiere date has not been announced.


Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

9781101875322_3da0eThe book version of the most popular class at Stanford tops the latest NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous list.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (PRH/Knopf; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) applies the principles of design thinking to the career planning/self-help movement, teaching readers how to solve problems in creative ways and craft a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

The book has received media attention including coverage in the NYT, WSJ, [subscription maybe required], and Forbes. Fast Company offers the most exhaustive report, highlighting the point of view and processes of Burnett (the executive director of Stanford’s design program) and Evans (who has worked at Apple and is a co-founded Electronic Arts).

The magazine reports the goal is to change higher education, as Evans puts it, of “forming you into the person that will go out into the world, effect change, and be a leader. … [inviting ] people to live intentionally, in a generative, thoughtful way, and we give them a bunch of tools.”

Burnett says that class fits the anxiety of our current times very well, “The thing that’s true about design problems is that you don’t know what the solution is going to look like … You can’t know the future, but you can know what’s available and you can prototype different versions of the you that you might become.”

The class is so difficult to get into and so transformational that Evans says “We’ve had students literally teach the class on the side to their friends who weren’t enrolled.”

The same approach seems to be fueling library demand where holds have skyrocketed in some systems, topping 6:1 ratios.

Below is the book trailer:

But the following discussion gives more insight into the authors’ process and thinking:

Cook and Tell

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

9781101885710_dcf1eAlton Brown is still remembered by fans for Good Eats, a cult hit from the early days of the Food Network, currently available for binge watching on Netflix. Now best known for the culinary contest show, Cutthroat Kitchen, he has just published his next book, Alton Brown: EveryDayCook PRH/Ballantine Books).

The tag on the cover, “This time, it’s personal,” is proving a focus for media coverage. Written after his divorce from his second wife, the NYT calls it “a midlife-crisis book.”  In a profile in the WSJ Brown provides a short, sorrowful, summary of his childhood and career.

Described by the NYT as “an eclectic and appealing collection of 70 recipes in Mr. Brown’s regular rotation and another 30 he created to bring the book to a respectable size,” it is on the first two previews of best cookbooks of season, leading the NYT‘s list and also one of  People‘s “25 New Fall Cookbooks That Deserve a Spot in Your Kitchen”

In systems we checked, holds are topping 10:1 ratios where libraries have bought very low and are exceeding orders where libraries bought multiple copies.

Trending: Time Travel

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

9780307908797_9e581“The shelves of every library in the world brim with time machines. Step into one, and off you go.”

So says Anthony Doerr in his engaging and story-filled NYT‘s Sunday Book Review (online now, in print Oct. 2) of James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History (PRH/Pantheon; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Fittingly for a book that considers the concept of time travel, including how it has been imagined and used in literature, Doerr begins his review by sharing his favorite time travel stories (a key one is Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”) and then moves on to Gleick’s history, calling it,

“a fascinating mash-up of philosophy, literary criticism, physics and cultural observation. It’s witty (“Regret is the time traveler’s energy bar”), pithy (“What is time? Things change, and time is how we keep track”) and regularly manages to twist its reader’s mind into … Gordian knots … he employs time travel to initiate engrossing discussions of causation, fatalism, predestination and even consciousness itself.”

Time is a subject bound to be at the forefront this fall. In addition to Gleick’s book there is Now: The Physics of Time, Richard A. Muller (Norton) and a surprising number of TV shows on the subject. So many that it has lead the WSJ to call time a “hot concept” for the upcoming season, writing, “Television networks are consumed with time-shifting in every sense.”

Shows about time travel include Frequency, Legends of Tomorrow, Making HistoryTimeless and Time After Time (adapted from the 1979 novel by Karl Alexander).

Not exactly time travel, more deja vu,  are the many remakes and spin-offs of older shows. WSJ lists “Taken (a prequel to the Liam Neeson revenge movies) and Emerald City (billed as an edgier Wizard of Oz fantasy). Then there are the franchise expansions, with spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption and a fourth (fourth!) addition to the Chicago line of dramas from Dick Wolf (Chicago Justice) … Lethal Weapon (Fox), and Training Day (CBS) … Fox’s Prison Break sequel and a series based on 43-year-old horror classic The ExorcistMacGyver.”

All this led Jimmy Kimmel, WSJ reports, to say: “All your favorite VHS tapes are now becoming shows.” It leads Glamour magazine to point out “The past is a franchise.”

Remembering Maya Angelou

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Coming to theaters Oct. 14, is a documentary about Maya Angelou, titled And Still I Rise.

Deadline reports, “From her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her swinging soirees with Malcolm X in Ghana to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, we are given special access to interviews with Dr. Angelou whose indelible charm and quick wit make it easy to love her.”

The trailer was released last week: