Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

David Brooks Dives Deep

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 8.21.10 AMColumnist and commentator David Brooks’s new book, The Road to Character (Random House; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) is a blend of self-examination and an exploration of what makes a richly fulfilling inner life.

In an interview yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered, he says he began this journey after meeting a group of people who tutor immigrants and realizing that they “radiated gratitude for life,” a quality he found missing in his own life, despite his outward successes.

The Guardian calls the book “a powerful, haunting book that works its way beneath your skin.”

It rose to #2 on Amazon’s sales rankings today, possibly benefiting not only from people on the search for their own roads to character, but from those on the search for interesting (if pointed) graduation gifts. As The Washington Post‘s Ron Charles points out in a story satirizing printed version of famous graduation speeches aimed at that market, it is the season for such books.

A Two-Book Week for Jon Stewart

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Author Fareed Zakaria will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight, and U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens on Thursday.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.43.55 AMCNN host Zakaria, a frequent guest on Stewart’s show (see his post 9/11 appearance here), generally writes about  the Middle East. Last week, he engaged in a heated discussion with Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time about Maher’s views on Islam.

His newest book, In Defense of a Liberal Education (Norton; S&S Audio), addresses a different topic. A short ode to the value of a well-rounded education, it is an argument against the growing focus on vocational training over more traditional subjects.

Zakaria advocates for the importance of learning how to think critically, write well, and communicate effectively, and perhaps most of all, for acquiring the ability to continuously learn over the course of a lifetime, a message well-timed for college graduation gifs.

Eric Greitens, who appears on Thursday, is the founder, chairman and CEO of The Mission Continues. Librarians might recognize his name from his 2011 New York Times bestseller The Heart and the Fist.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.44.51 AMHis newest book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (HMH; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample), is a series of letters (which read like a cross between a pep talk and an essay) written to a fellow solider in need of aid. The central message is the importance of resilience and ways to live a more focused, wise, and strong life.


M TRAIN Cover Reveal

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

M Train Patti SmithThe release of the cover for Patti Smith’s upcoming memoir, M Train (RH/Knopf; RH Audio, Oct. 6) is bringing a raft of media attention, from Rolling Stone to the New York Times and even the Religion News Service (“Patti Smith’s spiritual curiosity on display in sequel to Just Kids“).

Entertainment Weekly claims to have the “exclusive cover reveal,” and describes the cover image as, “a sacred memento for Smith: It shows her at Cafe ‘Ino in Greenwich Village, where M Train begins, and where Smith went every morning for a breakfast of black coffee and brown bread. On the last day before Cafe ‘Ino closed, a passing photographer took the picture. Smith calls it ‘the first and last picture at my corner table in Ino … My portal to where.’ ”

The title of the book refers to the NYC subway line which runs through the Brooklyn neighborhood where she once shared an apartment with Robert Mapplethorpe and in to Greenwich Village. The book itself is described by the publisher as “a journey through eighteen ‘stations.’ It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee.”

Dishing on White House Residents

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015


A new tell-all that reveals secrets from former members of the White House staff, The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower (Harper, 4/7/15), has zoomed up to #7 on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of a confluence of media attention. Featured on the Today Show and Inside Edition yesterday, it is excerpted in Politico and is making headlines like “White House Staff Dishes on Clintons: Hillary Hit Bill With a Book, Crooks Had Open Door,” (The Daily Beast).

While the headlines focus on the Clintons, the book covers presidential families from the Kennedys to the Obamas. In its review, Kirkus indicates that interest in the book will reach beyond political junkies, as it features,  “Anecdotes both touching and hilarious about living and working in the White House … [with] an irresistible, charmingly pell-mell quality to the arrangement of these dishy stories.”

Holds in libraries are growing.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jon Stewart Owns Pigs

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

You may think of Jon Stewart as a city person, but on last night’s Daily Show, he reveals that he owns a couple of pigs, during an interview with Gene Baur, author of Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day, (Rodale, 4/7/15).

Stewart uttered the magic words, “It’s a terrific book … Get it!” causing it to jump to #68 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Candice Bergen’s Double Header

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.47.13 AMOn the Opening Day of baseball season, Candice Bergen had her own double header with appearances on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday to talk about her new memoir A Fine Romance (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Calling the book a “love letter” to her daughter, Bergen writes about her marriage to the French film director Louis Malle, her time on Murphy Brown, motherhood, and her difficult childhood as the daughter of the famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (who, improbably, became a big hit on the non-visual medium of radio).

Bergen tells CBS’s Jane Pauley that her dad cut her out of his will but left a bequest to his wooden ventriloquist’s dummy, Charlie McCarthy.

Bergen’s new book is geScreen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.47.52 AMtting the media attention one would expect for such a well-known actress. She will be interviewed on the Today show, Charlie RoseLive with Kelly and Michael and Ellen, as well as in a range of print publications, from Vanity Fair to AARP Magazine.

A Fine Romance follows her bestselling 1984 memoir, Knock Wood (S&S; OverDrive Sample), which was re-released last July. The title refers to her feelings about her father’s performing partner.

Holds are heavy in some libraries we checked, spiking well over a 3:1 ratio.

Nancy Pearl Moves to Nonfiction

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.44.31 AMAfter months of highlighting fiction on her weekly radio segment, librarian Nancy Pearl has a cache of recent nonfiction titles to suggest, starting with Christian G. Appy’s American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity (Penguin/Viking; Feb. 2015; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Asserting that “we teach history in the wrong way,” Nancy describes Appy’s book as “anything but a dry tome … [it] draws on popular culture, historical facts, everything from the Pentagon Papers to novels about Vietnam … you can see the research that he’s done and yet it all rests very lightly on the prose.”

She adds it would be great book club pick, “It’s going to elicit strong emotions, and I think it’s an important book.” Listen to the segment here.

The Huffington Post agrees, calling it “required reading for anyone interested in foreign policy and America’s place in the world, showing how events influence attitudes, which in turn influence events.”

For readers who want more on the  Vietnam War Nancy suggests Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie and David Halberstam’s The Best and The Brightest.

Nancy talks about a new book each week on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW.

Holds Alert: SHAMED

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

9781594487132_85bbaLike catnip to the entire Internet, Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Penguin/Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), a book on trolls, shaming, and collective attacks, is taking off.

After his bleep-filled appearance on The Daily Show and widespread coverage in media as diverse as The New York Times and the A.V. Club, Ronson’s book is topping hold ratios of 4:1 in most libraries we checked.

The topic has wide appeal and Ronson, a proven bestselling author, is getting high praise. The Boston Globe says his book is

“ … a modern-day horror story: cringe-inducing, anxiety-provoking, and so gripping it’s impossible to put down. Although the stocks and the pillory were outlawed nearly 200 years ago, after our forebears deemed them cruel and dehumanizing, Ronson argues compellingly that the Internet has revived the practice of public humiliation and given it greater reach in recent years.”

While The New York Times claims “Without losing any of the clever agility that makes his books so winning, he has taken on truly consequential material and risen to the challenge.”

However, there is some push back. The Huffington Post says the book’s “bold claims make for delicious reading, but they depend upon the erasure of nuance and the comfortable retreat to smug self-righteousness.”

Ronson’s book is just one of several recent publications on the topic. Jennifer Jacquet’s Is Shame Necessary? (RH/Pantheon) and Shelby Steele’s Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country (Perseus/Basic Books) also address the issue as pointed out in collective reviews by both The LA Times and The Washington Post.

Scott Simon Times Three

Monday, March 30th, 2015

The voice may be familiar, but not the face. Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday began moonlighting as a regular correspondent on yestaday’s CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a busy time for Simon. In addition to radio and TV, his new memoir, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime (Macmillan/Flatiron; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) hits the shelves on Tuesday.

UnforgettableIn 2013 Simon was at his mother’s bedside as she died, tweeting about grief and his experience from the intensive-care unit. It was a vigil that played out on Twitter with millions following along. In this, his third memoir, he writes about his mother’s glamorous but difficult life, his childhood, and witnessing her death. As The Washington Post captures in its glowing review, it is an affecting story.

A Curious MindIn his debut on Sunday Morning, Simon interviews Hollywood powerhouse Brian Grazer, best known for Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and the currently hot Fox show Empire, who is also publishing a  new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (S&S; S&S Audio; April 7) co-written with Charles Fishman. In it, he explores the power of curiosity and open-mindedness in his career, which has also allowed him to conduct “curiosity conversations” with Barack Obama and Eminem among hundreds of others.

Unfortunately, the embed code for the segment does not work; watch it here.

As a result of the show, Grazer’s book rose to #49 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Currently holds are light for both titles but expect demand as the PR machines rev up for each.

J.K. Rowling’s Chamber of Secrets

Friday, March 27th, 2015

9781849669740J.K. Rowling wrote a song for Nearly Headless Nick to sing in The Chamber of Secrets but deleted it during edits; the dementors were less of a threat in the early drafts of The Prisoner of Azkaban; pages from David Guterson’s East of the Mountains hid The Order of the Phoenix from prying eyes.

1357-apr032015_0These are but three of the revelations in J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013, a 544 page scholarly work by Philip W. Errington (Bloosmbury Academic; April 23, 2015; ISBN 9781849669740) with a price tag of $128 that has made the cover of the April 3rd edition of Entertainment Weekly. We’re willing to bet this is the first time an academic book has made the cover (it’s in the burst, just above the photo of a goat eating Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s dress}.

Errington is the director for children’s books at Sotheby’s auction house and has spent five years working on the bibliography, according to The Guardian. It provides full details of each edition of the Harry Potter books, which are numerous due to the varying adult and children’s covers, the UK vs. US texts, and the multiple foreign translations.

Perhaps of most interest to readers will be his account of how the Harry Potter books were revised and edited (which EW excepts in their story), including a secret code and a dead letter drop in a bar to pass along one manuscript, how Rowling got sick of re-reading the books during edits, and the massive efforts to maintain continuity between the series titles which resulted in a detailed file termed “the HP bible.”

Like Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, published by South Dakota Historical Society Press, another academic book that found a popular fan-base, Errington’s book is likely to hold appeal beyond its intended audience of researchers and book dealers.

Based on WorldCat, orders are very light but expect demand. Not every denizen of Rowling’s huge fan base can afford the steep academic price and will turn to their local library for the keys to this chamber of secrets.

It’s a Three Author Week for
Jon Stewart

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart showcases three authors this week.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.45.11 AMMonday started with a bang as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs Reformation Now (Harper), was interviewed by Stewart, who clearly does not agree with her book’s thesis. Excerpted on ABC News, it opens with the assertion that “Islam is not a religion of peace” and goes on to criticize the faith with a broad brush and to suggest five reforms. Stewart pushes hard against the idea that Islam is different in its history of struggle over definition than other religions, pointing out that the Christian Reformation led to over a hundred years of violence triggered by a desire for a purer form of faith. While Hirsi Ali kept to her guns, Stewart was not convinced. The book is rising on Amazon, moving in to the top fifty bestsellers.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.44.39 AMSure to be a much lighter segment, Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead Books; OverDrive Sample), returns to the show tonight. It will be his third appearance with Stewart and based on past interviews the two obviously appreciate each other. Ronson’s book, which will be released early next week, is timely given the current focus on the shaming culture, most centrally highlighted by Monica Lewinsky.
The comic satirist, as Stewart dubs him, has spent years meeting those who have been shamed and those doing the shaming and writes about the fallout on the victims and society as a whole. Ronson’s book was excerpted in the 2/12 NYT Magazine.

By the way, it was recently announced that Scarlett Johanson has signed to star in the film adaptation of Ronson’s earlier book, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. He also wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats (S&S, 2004), which was the basis for the 2010 movie starring George Clooney.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.46.17 AMJohn Hargrove ends the week with his appearance on Thursday. He will discuss Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish (Palgrave Macmillan; BOT Audio).

Hargrove worked for Sea World and was featured in the searing documentary Blackfish. Kirkus calls his account of his years as a trainer and his current advocacy efforts to change laws regarding orcas in captivity “a shocking, aggressively written marine park exposé.” Hargrove was also a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday which sent his book racing up the Amazon charts.

Coming In Print

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Called a “scathing report” by the NYT when it was issued earlier this month, the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Ferguson, Mo. Police Department concluded that  it “had been routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.”

The not-for-profit publisher New Press just announced that they will publish print and eBook versions in July that will include an introduction by Theodore M. Shaw, a former president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. More details available in the publisher’s press release. The ISBN is 978-1620971604.

The 102-page report is freely available online but major findings such as this are often published later in book form. Last December Melville House published The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. Many libraries bought paper copies of that report or provided access via OverDrive and several still have copies in circulation.

One spot of good news about Ferguson was the library’s response. Director Scott Bonner kept the building open, even providing space for classes when the schools were closed. As a result, donations poured in, enabling him to hire a children’s librarian.

Bonner was recently named a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker.

UPDATE: Bonner has also won the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity, announced on March 24th. The prize will be presented by the founder of the award, Daniel Handler and author Jacqueline Woodson at this summer’s ALA annual conference in San Francisco.

RA Alert: The “Captivatingly Creepy” AMERICAN GHOST

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

9780062249210_c3fa3-2 A literary nonfiction ghost story that is part family history, part haunted house story, and part investigative journalism, American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus, (Harper; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) sounds like the kind of book readers devour.

As we reported last week, Entertainment Weekly is hot for the title, selecting it as one of their “20 Books We’ll Read in 2015.” They follow up by interviewing Nordhaus. Calling the book “captivatingly creepy.” they offer this quick, R.A.-worthy summary,

Hannah Nordhaus discovers that her great-great-grandmother, Julia Staab, is New Mexico’s most famous ghost, haunting a Santa Fe hotel called La Posada. Backed by an army of psychics and ghosthunters, a crumbling family diary, and a frontier-sized heap of curiosity, Nordhaus sets out to discover who Julia was—and why her spirit has stuck around for all these years.

American Ghost has earned starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, which enticingly details Nordhaus’s research process.

She consults a variety of self-appointed supernatural experts—psychics, tarot-card readers, mediums, and dowsers—as well as more traditional sources such as newspaper archives, family diaries, and aging relatives. She also visits the settings of her grandmother’s life, from villages in Germany to the deserts of New Mexico where the Staabs lived.

It was featured on Sante Fe’s News 13:

It is also getting attention in print publications, including the Sante Fe New MexicanThe Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Boston Globe (subscription required), and is on Elle magazine’s list of “The 7 Must-Read Books Of March.”

Holds are strong on light orders in libraries we checked.


Sunday, March 15th, 2015

9780805099263_ac285The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Monday features Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harpers magazine and the author of a book about a hot button issue, drone strikes, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, (Macmillan/Holt; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Cockburn also appeared on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week. He explained that the title is a common term in the military, describing the steps taken to identify and eventually hit a target. Drones can shorten the time that takes, but sometimes with unintended and terrible consequences.

Holds Alert: Social Security Demystified

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 8.34.13 AMIt might seem that Social Security benefits are pretty straight forward. Not so, says Boston University economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff who found the 2,728 core rules so confusing that he created a service called Maximize My Social Security. He also put together a book Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). It has become such a success, according to the New York Times, that it quickly rose to #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings and was sold out. Now back in print, it also just broke onto the 3/22 NYT Advice & How Bestseller List.

One of the book’s co-authors, Paul Solmon, is a PBS Financial News Correspondent. He featured some of the secrets from the book on the PBS NewsHour recently.