Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

Born to Sell

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Born to Run SpringsteenAfter yesterday’s announcement that the Boss will publish a memoir in September, the book instantly rose to #1 on Amazon sales rankings, indicating it may be worth the reported $10 million advance.

Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen
S&S, September 27, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1501141515

Parental Aid

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Untangled“Meanness peaks in the 7th grade,” says psychologist Lisa Damour, interviewed yesterday on CBS This Morning about her new book, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, (PRH/Ballantine; BOT/RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

As a result of the interview, the book shot up Amazon’s sales rankings and is now at #8. Holds are rising in many libraries.

The Washington Post‘s reviewer calls it, “the most down-to-earth, readable parenting book I’ve come across in a long time.”

Short Stories and the
SLATE Book Club

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

9780374202392_4fb99This month the Slate Audio Book Club discusses Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample), a book that got a lot of attention very quickly last fall and landed on a majority of the best books lists.

As we reported Entertainment Weekly, O magazine, and The New Yorker we all on board the bandwagon celebrating this under appreciated author’s 400+ page short story collection.

Now Slate critics Christina Cauterucci, Mark Harris, and Katy Waldman take on both the stories and the concept of short story collections themselves.

The most interesting parts of their conversation center on various ways to read short stories. They suggest reading this collection from beginning to end and not skipping around.

Another high note is the way they discuss Berlin ability to put readers right into the heart of the moment. At one point the panelists note that all the stories drop readers directly into the middle of the tale, without the least bit of warmup. At another they discuss Berlin’s economy as a writer, saying that she excels at implication and is masterful about noting what is just outside the reader’s line of sight.

All three enjoyed the collection and recommend it to readers.

Next month the club will discuss Better Living Through Criticism. (PRH/Penguin, Feb. 9), by the NYT‘s film critic A.O. Scott, a book currently receiving wide-spread attention, including reviews in the Atlantic, Slate, and, of course, the New York Times.

Holds Alert: WEST OF EDEN

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

When reviewers differ, how do readers decide? It can all depend on how the book is positioned.

9780812998405_08179A case in point is Jean Stein’s newest oral history, about the Golden Age of Hollywood glitterati, West of Eden: An American Place (Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Janet Maslin clearly did not like it. She writes in her cutting NYT review that is its, “strangely unfocused … chopped into a few chapters about seemingly arbitrarily chosen families.”

However, the review in the LA Times by author Judith Freeman is far more compelling, saying that reading the book is:

“like being at an insider’s cocktail party where the most delicious gossip about the rich and powerful is being dished by smart people, such as Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Arthur Miller and Dennis Hopper. The result is a mesmerizing book … compulsively readable, capturing not just a vibrant part of the history of Los Angeles … but also the real drama of this town, as reflected in the lives of some of its most powerful players.”

Those players include the Dohenys, the Warners, Jane Garland, Jennifer Jones, and the Steins (big figures in movies, money, and real estate), each with a seemingly more grand, outrageous, tragic, or dysfunctional story to tell than the next.

Readers are clearly weighing in on the side of the cocktail party take. Strong demand is driving holds over a 3:1 ratio at nearly every library we checked, which has resulted in several systems ordering extra copies after buying very low.

Tony Bennet’s Collaborator

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Tony Bennett’s untitled memoir coming in August, is one of Entertainment Weekly‘s picks of the “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2016.” So far, it’s not listed on wholesaler or retailer sites, but now we know who will serve as Bennett’s co-write.

On NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, host Scott Simon announced that he is taking a six-week leave to work with Bennett on the book, returning in late March.

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Bennett, who will  will turn 90 in August, published an earlier memoir when he was 72, The Good Life: The Autobiography Of Tony Bennett (S&S/Atria, 1998). The New York Times Book Review called it “as breezy as an evening listening to Bennett himself.”

He also published a book of the lessons he lives by, including anecdotes from his life, Life Is A Gift: The Zen of Bennett, (HarperCollins, 2012).

Holds Alert: ORIGINALS

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Are you reading this through Firefox or Chrome? Your answer, says The Wharton School’s top-rated professor, Adam Grant, indicates how creative you might be. Intrigued?

9780525429562_1412fMany are as holds are soaring on his newest book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (PRH/Viking; Penguin Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Grant, who also wrote the bestseller Give and Take and writes for The New York Times, addresses how to upend the status quo in business and other organizations with creative and new ideas. His research and case study examples offer insight on how to spot an original idea (as well as generate it or champion it), the power of timing in creating buy-in, and methods of working against groupthink.

Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg wrote a forward for the book, which is currently at #20 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

Grant spoke on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, contributing the the surge in demand. Holds are currently very strong, and in libraries that bought few copies, they are far exceeding a 3:1 ratio.

On Most of 2016’s
Most Anticipated Lists

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Just as the book award season ends, the most anticipated list begin to appear, fueling TBR piles and driving up holds queues.

Now that a number of lists have appeared, we can assess which titles fared the best. Looking at seven of the most influential lists, fifteen titles received the most nods.

Spring 2016 Previews — downloadable spreadsheet

A caution, since it’s early in the year, most of the list-makers haven’t yet read these books (Entertainment Weekly makes this clear, headlining their list “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2016“), so they are based on buzz and author reputation, and are not guarantees of success. Also, most of the lists are by critics, so they tend to focus on literary titles and rarely include genre titles destined to become bestsellers.

9781501122729_8f332Innocents and Others, Dana Spiotta (S&S/Scribner; Mar. 8) makes it onto five of the seven lists we checked, with Entertainment Weekly writing“The Stone Arabia novelist’s anxiously awaited new work is about two best friends — both L.A. filmmakers — who tangle with a mysterious older woman who likes to seduce men over the phone.”

Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Blackstone Audio) and Emma Cline’s The Girls (Random House; Random House Audio; June 14) fared well too, making five of the lists.

9780812998603_d74db  9780618663026_49632

As we reported earlier, Chee’s book, published last week, has received significant review attention and is even one of those rarities, a literary author who appeared on a late night talk show.

Cline’s novel was picked as one of the featured titles in PW‘s “Booksellers Pick Their Top Early 2016 Books.” Unlike the critics’ list, which represent titles they expect to review, this one features titles booksellers expect to handsell. Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank Books in Saint Louis, Mo. remarks that Cline’s novel about a murderous cult in the late 1960s (think Charles Manson) offers a “creative use of a historical incident to build a story [that] stays with you.”

Other titles that made the top 15 include two that librarians have been talking about on GalleyChat.

The Nest  9781400068326_8f573

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (HarperCollins/Ecco; Mar. 22) —  GALLEYCHATTER, November 2015, Winter Reading for 2016 Titles. Advance attention seems to doing the trick already, several libraries are developing holds queues.

Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House; April 19) —  GALLEYCHAT, December 2015, Eyes 2016 picks.




Thursday, February 4th, 2016

First BiteIf a woman eats garlic while she is pregnant, her child will be predisposed to enjoying garlic as an adult.

That is just one of the fascinating facts about how we develop taste revealed in Bee Wilson’s
First Bite: How We Learn to Eat  (Perseus/Basic Books) and in her interview today with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air.


Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

American GirlsVanity Fair columnist Nancy Jo Sales set off a tweet storm over the summer with her story, “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’.” In a new book, Sales looks further in to how social media is affecting the lives of girls coming of age today (more specifically, as the publisher puts it, “how it is influencing their experience of adolescence and sexuality, and wrecking their self-esteem”), titled American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, (PRH/Knopf; BOT and RH Audio)

Set for publication on February 23, it’s a last-minute addition drop-in title has not yet received reviews from the pre-pub media.

Below are highlights of confirmed upcoming media coverage:

· ABC-TV, Good Morning America (scheduled for 2/23)
· ABC-TV, Nightline (week of publication)
· Megyn Kelly, Fox News
· NPR, including Fresh Air (airs 2/29)


Monday, February 1st, 2016

Stephen Colbert continues to sneak authors on to The Late Show.

9780316387804_c4316First up is Harvard professor and TED Talk hit, Amy Cuddy, set to appear tonight. She is the author of the bestselling Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). Her book has been featured on the cover of the NYT Book Review and was a People magazine “Book of the Week.” Skeptics will enjoy a recent Slate article that calls Cuddy’s work an “example of scientific overreach.”

Currently t at #3 on the NYT Advice Best Sellers list after five weeks, it has strong holds at many libraries we checked.

9780544387669_be015On Wednesday night Michael Eric Dyson has his turn with Colbert. His newest book (out tomorrow) is The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), in which he explores how President Obama has navigated and responded to issues of race over the last eight years, taking a largely critical stance.

Also on the schedule are several actors promoting FX’s upcoming American Crime Story series on O.J. Simpson, including John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance tonight and David Schwimmer tomorrow. The show debuts tomorrow night and is based onJ effrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. A tie-in edition (Random House) was released in September..


Monday, February 1st, 2016

9780691147727_f2647Paul Krugman’s cover review for this week’s New York Times Sunday Book Review, available online since Monday, is fueling demand for a university press title about how America has changed, and failed to change, since the last age of great invention. The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War by Robert J. Gordon (Princeton University Press) is racking up holds and causing some libraries to add more copies to shore up initial low buys.

Krugman says the book is “a magisterial combination of deep technological history, vivid portraits of daily life over the past six generations and careful economic analysis” and goes on to say it “will challenge your views about the future; it will definitely transform how you see the past.”


Monday, February 1st, 2016

9781771642484On the strength of an article in Saturday’s New York Times, a book on forests and trees soared up the Amazon sales rankings to #22.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben (PGW/Perseus/Greystone Books; ISBN: 9781771642484;09/13/2016) explores the wonders of trees and the ways they communicate with, and care for, each other – through their own version of a social network.

Already a surprise best seller in Germany where it remains atop the German news magazine Spiegel’s nonfiction list sixth months after publication, it has the potential to become a hit here as well, caught not only in the wake of interest in wild spaces in general, but also in books that present personal views of nature such as H Is for Hawk and The Shepherd’s Life and nature/science books such as The Soul of an Octopus.

The NYT’s feature reports how Wohlleben’s book has enchanted and intrigued readers in Germany:

“The matter-of-fact Mr. Wohlleben has delighted readers and talk-show audiences alike with the news — long known to biologists — that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.”

Canada’s Greystone Books (distributed in the US by Publishers Group West/Perseus) will publish an English version in September. It is listed on wholesaler catalogs.

THE FOOD LAB On The Rise – Again

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton, 2015; OverDrive Sample) was a New York Times bestseller when it came out last year. It was also considered one of the best cookbooks of the year by both LJ and Amazon.

Gaining renewed attention, it moved up Amazon’s sales ranking from just outside the top 100 to #4.

The author tweeted he would be on The Chew yesterday:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.42.22 PM

The show did not post the video, but they did post his recipe.

Holds are still strong in libraries we checked.

Order Alert: CURE

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

9780385348157_8487fA new book exploring the scientific evidence of mind/body healing (using such practices as meditation, biofeedback, placebos, and more) is getting a great deal of attention and is rising on Amazon as a result, jumping from #1,177 up to #37.

Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body, Jo Marchant (PRH/Crown; OverDrive Sample) was the subject of yesterday’s Fresh Air conversation with Terry Gross. On Monday, it as reviewed in the NYT. Even Scientific American is getting in on the topic, posting an interview with Marchant.

Gross is clearly fascinated in the topic, especially the biological process of mental healing, the effects of stress, and the ethics of alternative therapies.

NYT’s nonfiction reviewer, Jennifer Senior, is a bit less engaged. She takes issue with some of the topics, saying little of this book is new, but praises Marchant’s writing ability, her solid approach (she says Marchant is “a scientist to her bones”), and her well-chosen subjects – “very moving characters to show us the importance of the research she discusses.”

Libraries we checked generally bought few copies. As a result, holds ratios are high, even though the overall numbers are modest.

Netflix In the Kitchen

Monday, January 25th, 2016

9781594204210Michael Pollan’s 2013 book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin; OverDrive Sample) is about to become a Netflix series.

Set to air on February 19th, the four-episode adaptation offers viewers a mix of culinary travelogue, anthropology lessons and sessions in Pollan’s home kitchen.

Based around elemental cooking methods, the globe-spanning series will focus on fire, water, air, and earth. Eater, one of the leading culinary websites, reports:

“In the ‘Fire’ episode, Pollan will delve into the cross-cultural tradition of barbecue by looking at fire-roasts of monitor lizards in Western Australia and visiting with a barbecue pitmaster; in the ‘Water’ episode, he’ll take lessons from kitchens in India and cover the issues surrounding processed foods. An episode titled ‘Air’ explores the science of bread-making and gluten, while the final episode, ‘Earth,’ looks at how fermentation preserves raw foods.”

Variety says,

“Personalities and places featured in Cooked include … a Connecticut Benedictine nun and microbiologist who makes traditional French cheese; Peruvian brewers who use human saliva to ferment a traditional beverage; and an ancient Moroccan granary powered by rivers.”

Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) is the executive producer of the series. Eater reports a different filmmaker is in charge of each episode.

No tie-in is planned but the book is available in various print editions as well as eBook.