Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

NOBODY on the Rise

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

The following tweet …

…sent the Pitch Perfect actress/comedian’s book of autobiographical essays rising on Amazon’s sales rankings to #27. Libraries we checked have not ordered it yet.

Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick, (S&S/Touchstone; S&S Audio, November 15, 2016)

Prince Dies

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Just one month after announcing plans to publish his memoirs, the musician Prince has died.

His agent, Esther Newberg told the Wall Street Journal at the time that Prince had already turned in 50 pages of the manuscript for the book, which was to be titled The Beautiful Ones. It was set to be published next year by the Penguin Random House imprint, Spiegel & Grau.

The cause of death has not been announced. Prince was 57.

Not Just Cars and Surfin’

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Brian WilsonThe HBO documentary, Love & Mercy, released last year, looked at the many painful aspects of the life of the co-founder of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson.

Wilson was not involved in the making of the movie, but he called it “very factual.”

He is about to add more facts to the story, in a memoir titled I Am Brian Wilson (Perseus/Da Capo Press, October 11, 2016). The press release announcing the publication  date has been picked up by several news sources, including the New York Times.  A brief  excerpt of the book is on The Rolling Stone Web site.


Friday, February 19th, 2016

9781101902752_e76d6The NYT posted their online review (to run in print in the Feb. 28 Sunday Book Review) of A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. Sue Klebold, Andrew Solomon, (PRH/Crown) on Feb. 15.

Just a few days later the paper felt the need to post a follow-up piece to summarize some of the over 900 comments the review prompted.

That level of engagement with the book is reflected in libraries across the country. Holds are growing and libraries haven’t caught up with them.

We reported in “Titles to Know and Recommend” last week that ABC News was covering the book in a big push, with an ABC Prime Time Special with Diane Sawyer, promoted on Good Morning America. The author also appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air on Tuesday.

The book clearly touches nerves, as indicated by the remarkable number of personal reactions to it from reviewers.

Entertainment Weekly gave the book an A grade, saying:

“This book, which can be tough to read in places, is an important one. It helps us arrive at a new understanding of how Columbine happened—and, in the process, may help avert other tragedies.”

The LA Timess reviewer, responding both to the book and to the ABC coverage, writes:

“I believe Sue Klebold … I feel so sorry for her — I really do. Did you watch 20/20? Her pain is so raw, her vulnerability so extreme. I want to reassure her: One way or another this book will change lives. What it won’t do is bring Dylan back … And what it also won’t do, is my guess, never mind what I believe, is allow Sue Klebold to forgive herself.”

The Washington Post reviewer says:

“Reading this book as a critic is hard; reading it as a parent is devastating. I imagine snippets of my own young children in Dylan Klebold, shades of my parenting in Sue and Tom. I suspect that many families will find their own parallels. This book’s insights are painful and necessary, and its contradictions inevitable.”

The book is currently #31 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

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

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).

Grim Reader

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Based on recent best seller lists, people love to read about death.


NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday examines the trend, prompted by a recent article in The Guardian which, based on the popularity of Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample), offers two explanations: the books present examples of ways to face the inevitable and the seemingly sad subject holds a measure of optimism, because the act of writing a memoir grants a measure of immortality.

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The interview highlights a couple of well-known examples, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow (Hachette/Hyperion, 2008) and Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom (PRH/Doubleday/Broadway, 2002).

9780805095159_a145b9780451492937_0cfcbThere are plenty of newer examples too, including Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Macmillan/Holt; 2014), which has been on the NYT hardback nonfiction bestseller list for over a year and Gratitude by Oliver Sacks (PRH/Knopf, 2015), now in its fifth week on that same list.

New #1 Best Sellers

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

There’s no surer sign of the beginning of a new season than movement on the best seller list.

Two new titles land at #1 on the NYT Hardcover Fiction and Nonfiction best seller lists, breaking through titles that have dominated the top spot for weeks.

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At #1 in nonfiction is one of our crystal ball titlesWhen Breath Becomes Air, (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

A young neurosurgeon’s account of facing his own death, it is followed at #2 by another new best seller, Pope Francis’s The Name of God Is Mercy (PRH/Random House).

In fiction, Elizabeth Stout’s latest, My Name Is Lucy Barton (Random House; Random House Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) breaks through to number one, moving The Girl on the Train down to #3, which has just completed over a year on the list, most of that time in the top five. At #4 is an even greater phenomenon, Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, on the list for 89 weeks.

Big Surprise: Caitlyn Jenner Planning a Memoir

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Set to write a memoir about her transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn, Jenner announced her co-author will be Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Buzz Bissinger.

Bissinger wrote the book Friday Night Lights, which became both a movie and a TV series.

The memoir is set to be published by Hachette/Grand Central, tentatively in spring of 2017. The New York Times reported the story, earlier today followed by People magazine and several other sources.

Jenner tweeted:

The Book

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

Mozart in the JungleThe surprise winner of two Golden Globes last week, for Best TV Comedy or Musical as well as for Best Actor in the same category, was Amazon’s series, Mozart in the Jungle. Amazon streamed both seasons of the series for free over the weekend, bringing new viewers (and taking the opportunity to offer special discounted subscriptions to Amazon Prime).

Even those familiar with the series may not realize that it is based on the 2005 memoir of the same title by oboist Blair Tindal detailing the highs and lows of her adventures in New York’s classical music world. Subtitled Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music it was a gossiped-about book among fellow musicians. Interviewing the author at the time, Entertainment Weekly, referred to it as a “hoity-toity version of VH1’s Behind the Music.” As the NYT writes this week, that fascination has been revived by the show.

With all this attention, expect to hear soon that Mozart has been renewed for a third season.

Season One trailer:

Season Two trailer:


Monday, January 18th, 2016

9780812988406_4079cPoised to  break onto the bestseller lists is Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It begins at the moment the author, a neurosurgeon finally completing over a decade of training, learns that his life, put on hold for so long, might very well end decades sooner than anyone would expect.

On the NYT’s Book Review podcast, Greg Cowles, who oversees the bestseller lists, hints that it is likely to hit the list next week and notes that it has been getting a lot of attention.

Indeed it has.

Janet Maslin, reviewing it for the daily NYT calls it “unmissable” and says:

“Dr. Kalanithi, who died at 37, went on to write a great, indelible book … To paraphrase Abraham Verghese’s introduction, to read this book is to feel that Dr. Kalanithi still lives, with enormous power to influence the lives of others even though he is gone … I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it a A-, remarking that its “unsentimental approach” gives the book its power:

“There’s no redemption here. Kalanithi died before he finished the book, leaving his wife Lucy to write a beautiful but painful epilogue. In the few hundred pages he completed, he chronicles his transition from doctor to patient with an acute clinical eye … Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”

The Washington Post calls it “an emotional investment well worth making” and as we reported earlier, it is an Indie Next pick for January as well. It is also an Amazon Best Book for January, where it is currently holds the #4 spot as the site’s bestselling book list.

Libraries bought it conservatively and as a result holds lists are skyrocketing past a 3:1 ratio with more than one library we checked adding more copies.

Below is a video, posted in The Washington Post, featuring Dr. Kalanithi reflecting on his prognosis (Note: if the video is unavailable below, link to it here, or read Kalanithi’s reflections here).

Crystal Ball: THE SOUND

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

9781250077691_6461eIn what might be one of the easiest ever Crystal Ball calls, we can say the Ruth Wariner’s The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) is headed for best seller lists.

No guessing here. We know because the author announced it herself on her Facebook page.

“Just landed in California and received an unbelievable call from the team at Flatiron Books telling me that The Sound of Gravel is an instant NYT Bestseller. WOW! I can hardly believe it and feel like I might still be daydreaming on the plane right now! Thank you to everyone who has been involved and read my story so far. Thank you for reaching out to say how it has affected you, for recommending it to other readers, and for supporting me in so many ways. I am truly overwhelmed with amazement and gratitude!”

It debuts on the upcoming  NYT Bestseller E-Book List at #13.

Thanks for GalleyChat columnist Robin Beerbower for the alert. She has been an early proponent of Wariner’s  memoir about growing up in a violent polygamous Mormon cult. The book has also received advance media attention.

Pulling out the killer opening line: “I am my mother’s fourth child and my father’s thirty-ninth,” Entertainment Weekly gives it a glowing review and an A grade, saying:

“It’s so wrenching and moving that I lost sleep finishing the book, and then lost even more lying awake ruminating on it—a testament to Wariner’s skill at making painful events from decades ago feel visceral and to her willingness to reopen wounds.”

People has featured the title twice, making it their “Book of the Week” for the Jan 18 issue (which came out last Friday) and earlier featured a long, detailed interview with the author on the Web site, in which they call the memoir “powerful and poignant.”

As we reported earlier, it is a IndieNext pick for January too. Mary Laura Philpott (W), Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN says:

“This is a memoir made extraordinary simply by the fact that the author lived to tell the tale. Wariner grew up in a polygamist cult across the Mexican border, the 39th of her father’s 41 children. Surrounded by crushing poverty and repeated tragedy, little Ruth was taught that girls are born to be used by callous men and an angry God. However, she had just enough contact with her maternal grandparents and the outside world to realize the bizarre practices at home didn’t match up with the rest of civilization. With quiet persistence, she grew into an adolescent and began to consider the possibility of escape. Riveting and reminiscent of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.”

Holds are quickly getting out of control with ratios topping 7:1 on modest ordering in some areas. The author lives in Portland, Oregon and holds in the Northwest are particularly heavy.

Oprah Memoir On the Way

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Oprah Winfrey, who has made the career of many a memoirist, is set to finally come through on the promise of writing a memoir of her own.

Joining with Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, Winfrey is to pen The Life You Want, an inspirational memoir due out in January 2017 (no cover or ISBN yet).

According to her site, the book “reveals never-before told stories from Oprah’s experience and shines a light on how they can inform your life.”

Deadline Hollywood reports the memoir deal netted Winfrey an eight-figure payday.

9781250054050_e10a9It will follow Winfrey’s 2014 What I Know for Sure, a collection of her O magazine columns also published by Flatiron.

The memoir is not the only deal Winfrey has struck with the company.

She is also starting her own imprint and plans to hand-select several nonfiction titles each year.

In a press release quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, Bob Miller, president and publisher of Flatiron Books, said,

“We’re … thrilled to give a home to Oprah’s imprint titles. We all know how extraordinary Oprah’s instincts are when it comes to choosing books, instincts borne of her lifelong love of reading and the power of the written word.”

While these days it takes more than a nod from Oprah to make a book a sensation, her endorsements continues to spur sales, making hers an imprint to watch.


Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The DinnerLaura Linney is in talks to star in an adaptation of The Dinner by Dutch author Herman Koch (RH/Hogarth), reports Deadline.

It was once reported that Cate Blanchett would direct, but it that chair will now be occupied by Oren Moverman.

A hit in Europe, the novel arrived in the U.S. in 2013 to predictions that it would be the next Gone Girl. Although it didn’t achieve that level, it sold well and was on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list for seven weeks, reaching a high of #7.

+-+971582089_140Linney has completed work on another book adaptation, Sully, based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger (HarperCollins/Morrow, 2009), who piloted an airplane to safety after its engines were  disabled by a bird strike.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks will play Sully and Linney his wife. It is set for release some time in 2016.

Afghanistan, with a Dash of Humor

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Will Tina Fey be able to find cinematic humor in the war in Afghanistan? At least one person thinks so, declaring on Jezebel that Fey’s upcoming movte Whiskey Tango Foxtrot “could be the first to succeed where other studio films have flopped.”

Noting that “The whole project is legitimized by the fact that it’s based on” Kim Barker’s “darkly funny” memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the reporter cautions, “I am still wary, since Hollywood is capable of making smart, nuanced stories into broadly offensive blockbusters, but hopeful—if any Af-Pak war comedy has a chance at success, it’s certainly this one.”

Once titled Fun House, now changed to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, itmarrives in theaters on March 4.

The first trailer was released today.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI): Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kimberly Barker, )RH/Anchor, 2/23/16)