Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

LATE NIGHT Gaiman

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.”

WHITE TRASH Rising

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?”

Crystal Ball: IN THE DARKROOM

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.

Hot Dudes Reading

Friday, June 10th, 2016

The books are hot, too:

The book:

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Hot Dudes Reading
S&S/Atria
April 26, 2016

And, coming in July,

the Wall Calendar, (Chronicle)

Readers’ Advisory:
THE VIOLET HOUR

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

9780385343596_d7d4aDuring her weekly radio appearance on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW, librarian Nancy Pearl recommends The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End, Katie Roiphe (PRH/The Dial Press; OverDrive Sample).

Nancy says that it is a “fascinating” exploration of how five different writers, Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, Maurice Sendak, and James Salter, approach death and “how their impending death affected their life.” She calls it a collection of “mini biographies” that make readers interested in the writer’s work, even more than each subject’s ending.

When it came out last March, the book received a flurry of media attention.

The LA Times connected it to the current in interest in books on death and dying, associating it with recent titles by Oliver Sacks and Paul Kalanithi, as well as older titles by Calvin Trillin and Joan Didion.

USA Today said the book contained “subtle brilliance” and gave it 3.5 stars out of a possible 4. It was a People magazine pick, reviewed in the daily NYT and in the Sunday Book Review, where reviewer and author Olivia Laing said “The intensity of these passages — the depth of research, the acute sensitivity for declarative moments — is deeply beguiling.”

Political Tell-All Tops Amazon

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

9781455568871_0fa23Another in a line of books aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton received attention yesterday from the Drudge Report. The exclusive sent Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses His Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate, Gary J. Byrne (Hachette/Center Street; 6/28/16) racing to the top of Amazon’s sales rankings (jumping from 48,237 to #1).

Byrne, a former Secret Service officer assigned to the White House, offers a tell-all about what he saw during the Clinton years, including what he observed of Monica Lewinsky and his take on Hillary Clinton.

The book has been embargoed but Drudge has the exclusive, claiming that the book is “causing deep concern inside of Clinton’s campaign” and quoting Byrne as saying “What I saw in the 1990s sickend me … I want you to hear my story.”

The UK conservative tabloid, Daily Mail, also has the story and Politico included it in their “Playbook” section of what is driving the day in D.C.

Byrne made news back in the late 90s, getting attention in the NYT‘s for his reporting to the White House deputy chief of staff about Lewinsky’s appearances in the West Wing without, he believed, authorization. The Lewinsky story was originally broken by the Drudge Report, bringing it to national attention.

As a result of the embargo, there were no prepub reviews and, as a result, only a few libraries we checked have ordered copies.

Costco Joins the HAMILTON Party

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

9781594200090_4ee8fThe newest pick from Costco book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello is far from new, but it is certainly all the rage: Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton (PRH/Penguin, 2004).

In making her choice Ianniciello says:

“From mentions on podcasts to small talk at the salon, that name is on many people’s lips. So, I thought I’d go back to the book responsible for all the hubbub … What I love most about the rekindled popularity of this book is that its brains and newly found street cred make it a book the whole family can enjoy.”

In a feature  in the Costco Connection, Chernow recounts his meeting with the Broadway sensation’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, saying he was “flabbergasted” when Miranda told him “that as he was reading my book, ‘hip-hop songs started rising off the page.’ ”

Chernow also describes what it is like to live in the wake of the Broadway hit: “Every time I see the show and these enormous crowds, I pinch myself with wonder that I somehow triggered off this Hamilton mania.”

The award-winning historian (who trained as an English major) has been experiencing that wonder often, as we wrote earlier, he told the The Wall Street Journal “I never dreamed that I would be autographing Playbills … [this year has been] a biographer’s wish-fulfillment fantasy.”

9780743288781_d9ab0Also featured this month is Annie Proulx’s Barkskins (S&S/Scribner, S&S Audio), which Costco calls “her magnum opus, a literary force majeure.”

The glowing review tracks the long germination of the novel, begun 30 years ago and mulled over and researched for decades. The writing of it, according to The Wall Street Journal, took close to a decade as well. The end result is, says the Costco reviewer,a “novel that howls, grieves, lilts and erupts with urgency, authority and something that looks a lot like hope.”

It is also the pick of several summer reading lists, catching the eye of Amazon’s Editors, B&N, BuzzfeedSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, and USA Today. Canadian librarians agree, selecting it as the #1 title in their June Loan Stars picks.

True Life Western Takes Off

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

9781250069986_6446aSoaring on Amazon’s sales rankings due to a glowing review in The Wall Street Journal is Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde, John Boessenecker (Macmillan/Thomas Dunne Books; OverDrive Sample), which jumped from #5,403 to just outside the Top 100.

Writing for the paper, author Bryan Burrough (Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence), a frequent reader of “biographies of American lawmen and detectives” says that “in terms of sheer action and violence, from close-quarters gunfights to Mexican-border ambushes to face-offs with lynch mobs, I’m hard-pressed to think of one that rivals John Boessenecker’s excellent” account.

He goes on to say:

“What makes Texas Ranger a notable achievement is how thoroughly Hamer has eluded so many would-be biographers. Though he took part in 52 known gunfights and killed at least 27 men—and probably more—he was humble and tight-lipped about his achievements. He left no diaries and granted few interviews. But Mr. Boessenecker, after years mining state archives and yellowed newspapers, finally captures the full life of a man whose exploits could easily pack a dozen Hollywood movies.”

The book is getting a range of local press coverage as well as a vividly illustrated feature in Garden & Gun. The NYT, which is not as glowing, features it as part of their “Adventurers Shortlist” in last week’s Sunday Book Review.

Holds are thus far light on light ordering but this is the kind of book that can take off if there is word of mouth.

Hitler’s Race for the Bomb

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

9780544368057_6a653Amid the current unease about nuclear proliferation, Neal Bascomb’s historical account of Hitler’s efforts to create atomic weapons, The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb (HMH; OverDrive Sample), is rising on Amazon, on the strength of a riveting review in The Wall Street Journal.

Detailing the efforts and sacrifice of Norwegian, British, and Americans seeking to stop Hitler’s plans, the paper calls the book a “riveting and poignant” account that “metamorphoses from engrossing history into a smashing thriller.”

Holds are mixed at libraries we checked, with some locations showing ratios over 4:1, others showing strong circ on moderate ordering, and others with copies on the shelf. Right now the book is mainly benefiting from local press, but books such as these are perennially popular and Bascomb’s is regarded as the definitive account of an overlooked part of WWII history, making it a core title for many collections.

Beach Reads with Bill Gates

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Add Bill Gates to those offering summer beach reads. The philanthropic computer genius offers a list of seasonal reads each year and several are rising on Amazon as a result of his support.

The paperback edition of the bestselling nonfiction title How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample) is just outside the Top 100 while the newly released paperback edition of the bestselling SF novel Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (Harper/William Morrow; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample), is on its heels.

9780143127536_0bd46Gates, clearly invested in the importance of understanding math, says of Ellenberg’s book that the author:

“… explains how math plays into our daily lives without our even knowing it. Each chapter starts with a subject that seems fairly straightforward—electoral politics, say, or the Massachusetts lottery—and then uses it as a jumping-off point to talk about the math involved. In some places the math gets quite complicated, but he always wraps things up by making sure you’re still with him. The book’s larger point is that, as Ellenberg writes, ‘to do mathematics is to be, at once, touched by fire and bound by reason’ —and that there are ways in which we’re all doing math, all the time.”

9780062334510_6bb39Returning to a favorite genre, Gates says of Seveneves:

“I hadn’t read any science fiction for a decade when a friend recommended this novel. I’m glad she did. The plot gets going in the first sentence, when the moon blows up. People figure out that in two years a cataclysmic meteor shower will wipe out all life on Earth, so the world unites on a plan to keep humanity going by launching as many spacecraft as possible into orbit. You might lose patience with all the information you’ll get about space flight—Stephenson, who lives in Seattle, has clearly done his research—but I loved the technical details. Seveneves inspired me to rekindle my sci-fi habit.”

Also on the list:

9780393352979_0b5c79781119000600_7cf679780062316097_25eb4

 

 

 

 

 

The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, Nick Lane (Norton; OverDrive Sample).

The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy, Hiroshi Mikitani , Ryoichi Mikitani (Wiley; OverDrive Sample).

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari (Harper; OverDrive Sample).

Gates even offers a video promoting each of the titles:

Illustrating Gates’s reach with the news media, his reading list got covered by such diverse outlets as USA Today, Town & Country, Vox, and The Washington Post.

For your use in creating displays, we’ve put together a downloadable spreadsheet of all his selections Gates Summer Reading, 2012 thru 2016.

Below are direct links:

2016
2015
2014
2013
2012

Order Alert:
HELPING CHILDREN SUCCEED

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

9780544935280_e4727A book on an ever-popular topic is rising on Amazon as a result of coverage from NPR and spotlights in the NYT and The Atlantic.

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), a book about teaching and parenting kids for success, has broken into the top 50, rising from #796.

His earlier book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, And The Hidden Power Of Character, was a NYT bestseller and, as NPR says, “probably did more than any other single book to get the wider public thinking about the importance of grit and other noncognitive skills.”

Many libraries we checked have yet to order, perhaps because the only trade review thus far is from Kirkus.

Time to get those orders in. The book’s title alone will bring eager parents and, as NPR puts it, “for the past decade or more Tough has been one of the pre-eminent reporters translating education research for public consumption.” It’s likely to join another book on best seller lists, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success by Angela Duckworth, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio), currently tied at #2 on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list with Anderson Cooper’s The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss, (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe).

Order Alert: BEING A BEAST

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

9781627796330_01b61In a rare advanced review, the New Yorker discusses Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, Charles Foster (Macmillan/Metropolitan; BOT), coming out next month, calling it an “exercise of the sympathetic imagination.”

The natural history memoir recounts Foster’s time trying to live like badgers, foxes, otters, and birds, going so far as to live in a dirt barrow, eat worms, and catch fish with his teeth.

Already published in the UK to glowing reviews, The Guardian calls it “Illuminating and unfailingly entertaining … a tour de force of modern nature writing.”

Libraries have ordered very lightly. There are few holds, but the memoir, which is being compared to H is for Hawk, is likely to get more media attention.

9781616894054_ca634Featured in the same New Yorker article is another book about living like an animal, GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday From Being Human, Thomas Thwaites (Princeton Architectural Press; OverDrive Sample). The author, a designer, writes about his efforts to become as goat-like as possible, even using prosthetic goat limbs, to become a member of a Swiss goat herd. Published last week, it received attention from NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as well as on NPR’s blog coincidentally titled Goats and Soda. Holds too are light on light ordering.

9780393246186_e9740Two recent books suggest that if humans want to live like animals, they need to step up their game. Primatologist Frans de Waal’s new book offers a challenge in the title, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (Norton; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). It is currently at #19 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction list after two weeks.

Genius of BirdsFocusing on a specific species, Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds(PRH/Penguin; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample), released in April, received attention from NPR. The two books were reviewed jointly in the NYT Sunday Book Review.

In an interview with the Washington Post, de Waal offers an explanation for this growing interest, “I think we got tired of behaviorism, which was dominant last century. More and more phenomena are coming to the fore, of animals doing things that couldn’t be explained by simple instinct or by simple associative learning. And the younger generation is much more open to seeing what animals can do on their own terms.”

Stars Align for Nobel Winner

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

9780399588808_d3819

When Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, only two of her books were available in English in the US. That is slowly changing. Arriving this week is Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, translated by Bela Shayevich (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample), her fifth book first published in Russia in 2013.

On the strength of the NYT‘s profile on Saturday, the author’s Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, translated by Bela Shayevich (Random; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) is rocketing up the Amazon sales charts, close to breaking into the top 100.

The NYT‘s calls the oral history:

“An intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to capitalism in the 1990s plunged it into existential crisis … Tolstoyan in scope, driven by the idea that history is made not only by major players but also by ordinary people talking in their kitchens … With every page, the book makes clear how President Vladimir V. Putin manages to hold his grip on a country of 143 million people across 11 time zones.”

All four trade review journals gave it a star with Kirkus calling it “Profoundly significant literature as history” and PW saying: “Alexievich’s work turns Solzhenitsyn inside out and overpowers recent journalistic accounts of the era. Readers must possess steely nerves and a strong desire to get inside the Soviet psyche in order to handle the blood, gore, and raw emotion.”

Holds are running roughly 2:1 on light orders in libraries we checked.

Librarians can look for more to come. The NYT reports that, in 2017 and 2018, Random House will issue translations of Alexievich’s previous work by the powerhouse team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (who brought new life to War and Peace). The paper also reports that Alexievich has plans for new collections, on aging and on love, and is planning a cross-country trip around the former Soviet Union to conduct interviews.

9780312425845Of her books in English translations, the two that have been published here are Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (Norton; 9780393336863; 1992) and Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (hardcover, Dalkey Archive Press; trade pbk Macmillan/Picador, 2006), which won the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award.