Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

The Megyn Kelly Bump

Monday, June 12th, 2017

When Megyn Kelly left FOX News some in the media obsessed about how well she would do in a less heated environment, but she is currently drawing her own heat for an upcoming segment on her new NBC magazine show, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly which will give air time to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Indicating it may not be entirely positive, Jones has his own complaints about the taped interview.

Last night’s show created a bump for a book on a far different subject,  A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg (HMH; OverDrive Sample). It is soaring on Amazon’s rankings after being featured on the show.

The book moved from #1,191 into the Top 10 sellers, sitting at #10. It is the first bump Kelly has ever generated, putting aside her promotions of her own titles.

The segment focuses on one of the authors, Jennifer Doudna, a professor in the Chemistry and the Molecular and Cell Biology Departments at the University of California, Berkeley. She is one of the inventors of CRISPR, a gene editing process that allows scientists to edit DNA strings in a manner she says is similar to fixing a typo. The technology will change evolution and can be used to cure deadly illnesses and wipe out disease but could also be used to create engineered babies and super soldiers.

Doudna is the go-to expert for the invention and talks about it in multiple formats. Here she gives a TED talk explaining how CRISPR works:

Alone And Adrift

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

CBS Sunday Morning featured A Speck in the Sea: A Story of Survival and Rescue by John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski (Hachette/Weinstein Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) as their cover story this week.

In this harrowing but ultimately triumphant story, John Aldridge falls off his boat in the early hours of the morning while fishing in the Atlantic. After surviving sharks, cold, and twelve hours in the open ocean, the Coast Guard spotted him clinging to a rope. The rescue pilot told him they never find men alive, they just find bodies.

The story was widely reported, most notably in a 2014 NYT Magazine cover story. The Weinstein company bought both the book and the film rights.

The book came out in late May. Publishers Weekly calls it “hair-raising” and a “page turner.”

No word yet on when the film will premiere but it has some big names attached on the production side, including the producers behind Moneyball and Paranormal Activity.

Driving While Female

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Terry Gross talks to author Manal al-Sharif on Fresh Air about restrictions on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Sharif has just written Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening (S&S; S&S Audio).

She was filmed while breaking a long held prohibition on women driving. The video went viral, leading to her arrest and was only released after worldwide protests. She has since moved to Australia.

Saudi women are assigned to a male guardian, she says, who must give permission for almost anything, including leaving the house. As women grow older, their guardianship simply changes from one man to another. It’s no wonder she wanted to tell Ivanka Trump to “just be quiet” when she praised Saudi for their progress on equal rights, while women sit in jail for trying to further those rights.

LJ gives it a starred review, writing it is “a striking, nuanced memoir of what it means to ‘drive while female’.”


Friday, June 9th, 2017

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown riveted the nation with his humane response to the mass police shootings in his city last July.

Brown’s memoir, Called to Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is getting strong media attention.

NPR’s All Things Considers has an interview in which he reflects on the lessons of his life and says the solution to the nation’s problems is “not yelling and screaming, but ‘let’s sit down and listen to each other and invite someone home for dinner.'” A notable touchstone from his own life occurred when a white student in his newly integrated grade school invited him home for dinner.

On The View he talks about people working together for a common aim, putting skin in the game if you want things to change, and the police officers who are not suited to do the job.

Brown has appeared on other ABC shows, including Good Morning America and Nightline. In November 2016, as he retired from the police force, Brown became an ABC News contributor. He has also been on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

No Recipes Necessary

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

NPR’s The Salt features a book of photographs that chronicles the ways food has been consumed, styled, and presented since the 1800s. Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography by Susan Bright (Aperture) includes a wide range of images, from day-glow Jell-O designs to food in fashion and high art.

The NYT featured the book in the May 18th issue of T Magazine, discussing specific photos with the author and the editor, including one for the cover of a Crisco cookbook that grows “slightly sinister the more you look at it.”

While the book has been featured in sites such as the NYT and the British Journal of Photography, it was not widely reviewed and few libraries have purchased it.

Given the wide interest in food photography on social media, book is likely to  find a ready audience.

In the video below, Aperture editor Denise Wolf, previews of the book, making that point that, with the advent of digital cameras and social media, photography is now a part of the dining experience, making this a great time to look at the history of food photography.

Sea Stories

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

As part of NPR’s “The History of Our Time” series, retired Admiral James Stavridis talks about his new book, Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans (PRH/Penguin; RH Large Print; Penguin Audio & BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It has leaped up the Amazon rankings as a result, now well within the Top 50 at #33, up from its still respectable #193.

The series, says host Steve Inskeep, investigates the big trends “driving our history” and Stavridis says the seas are an crucial to our future. “The nation that profits the most from a peaceful global commons, from oceans upon which 50,000 ships can sail in a given day moving cargo, is the United States.”

While Syria and the South China Sea are tactical hotspots now, he says the next will be the Arctic, “the ice is melting rapidly. It will open up shipping lanes. It will fuel territorial disputes.”

To Shelves After All: DANGEROUS Gets a Pub Date

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

In the wake of his lost book deal, the self-styled right-wing “provocateur” Milo Yiannopoulos is self-publishing his book Dangerous. It is due out on July 4 as a hardcover and an ebook.

It is listed on Amazon where it instantly became a best seller and is currently at #2. In typical fashion, Yiannopoulos claims it is “the most controversial book of the decade.” The cover is now the banner on his facebook site where over 2 million have liked his page.

Simon and Schuster cancelled the book deal in February when, as the NYT reported, a video was released in which Yiannopoulos “condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.” He also lost his position as Senior Editor at Breitbart News in the uproar.

The self-publishing route had been predicted by book insiders according to EW, with one publisher telling the magazine, “with the hoopla around this book that might frighten a traditional publisher, I think if he wants it out, he’ll have to do it himself. He’s a marketing machine, albeit a negative publicity machine. But the question is: Will booksellers carry it?”

That remains an open question. Publishers Weekly reports that it is “unclear if Yiannopoulus has found a distributor to get the print edition of the book into brick and mortar retailers.”

RBG Gets Ripped

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s workout is becoming a book, The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong . . . and You Can Too! by Bryant Johnson (RBG’s trainer), illustrations by Patrick Welsh (HMH, Oct. 3).

Illustrations show RBG doing her exercises in her court robes and wearing purple leggings. The Associated Press reports “Johnson, an Army reservist whose day job is as a court clerk in Washington, has been training Ginsburg since 1999.” He now also trains Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

Politico Magazine has a story on the workout and Johnson. Entertainment Weekly and Time both report the book news.

Justice Ginsburg is proving a popular subject. In addition to My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams (S&S, 2016) and Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Harper/Dey Street Books, 2015), there are two children’s books, I Dissent by Debbie Levy, Elizabeth Baddeley (S&S Books for Young Readers, 2016) and the forthcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Stacy Innerst (Abrams Books for Young Readers, Aug. 2017).

Mark Bowden Returns To Battle

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Soaring up the Amazon sales charts prior to its release on Tuesday is Mark Bowden’s Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam (Atlantic Monthly Press; OverDrive Sample), hailed by a strong review in the Wall Street Journal, which says it makes “brilliant use of contemporary records and of previously untapped archives.”

Bowden’s first battle book since the 1999 award-winning Black Hawk Down details the bloodiest engagement of the Vietnam War, one that lasted nearly a month and which was the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive.

The BBC writes that Bowden not only follows the military units, but “gives voice to dozens, including … President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland … and reporters David Halberstam, Michael Herr, Gene Roberts, Walter Cronkite and others who changed the way Americans perceived the war.”

Screen rights have already been sold for an 8-10 hour miniseries to be produced by Michael Mann (Heat; The Last of the Mohicans) reports Deadline Hollywood. Mann, who recently established his own imprint with HarperCollins, calls the book:

“a masterpiece of intensely dramatic non-fiction. Bowden’s achievement is in making “them” into us … There are no background people; people abstracted into statistics, body counts. There is the sense that everybody is somebody, as each is in the actuality of their own lives. The brilliance of Bowden’s narrative, the achievement of interviewing hundreds of people on all sides and making their human stories his foundation, is why Huế 1968 rises to the emotional power and universality of For Whom The Bell Tolls and All Quiet On The Western Front.”

Booklist and Kirkus star it, with Kirkus writing “One of the best books on a single action in Vietnam, written by a tough, seasoned journalist who brings the events of a half-century past into sharp relief.” It is excerpted in Vanity Fair.

Ghosts of Leaders Past

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is featured in this week’s NYTInside the List” column, as the book debuts at #10 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list, driven by both the author’s reputation and media attention.

The NYT reviews, calling it “highly enjoyable” and a “page turner written with great brio.” The Los Angeles Times reviews as well, writing that the book “finds the iron core of both men.”

Terry Gross interviews the author on Fresh Air, saying “The theme that unites [the two leaders] is standing up against totalitarianism, Hitler and fascism, Stalin and communism. Ricks says their writings have a lot of resonance today.”

Of that resonance, the NYT points out that “Critics have been generally shy about linking Ricks’s subject to today’s political climate.” Not so for the author. Pulitzer Prize-winning Ricks (who is now the NYT Book Review ‘s military history columnist) makes no bones about how the two men would view our current president. He details some of that in the Gross interview, but, as the NYT points out, he was far more blunt in his twopart podcast with Foreign Policy magazine.

Holds are topping 3:1 in several libraries we checked.

Off Life Support: KILLING, the TV series

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Just two days after the announcement of the next title in Bill O’Reilly’s book series, Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence (Macmillan/Holt; Sept. 2017), comes the opposite news about the next in the National Geographic channel’s adaptations of the series. The network just announced that a planned four-hour series based on Killing Patton, has been scrapped.

The press release made no reference to O’Reilly’s recent firing from Fox, reports Deadline, citing instead production difficulties.

It’s not clear what is happening with the Fox News series, Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Civil War. A companion book is scheduled for release next week, but we were unable to find a date for the debut of the TV series.

O’Reilly’s March title, Old School: Life in the Sane Lane (Macmillan/Holt; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample) has been sliding down best seller lists since the cancellation of his show. It is #112 on the most recent USA Today list, after debuting at #2.


Thursday, June 1st, 2017

An interview on NPR’s Morning Edition has sent Richard Reeves’s forthcoming book, Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It (Brookings Institution Press, June 13), soaring on Amazon. It is now ranked #27, up from a lowly #53,949.

The episode is part of the show’s “The History of Our Time” series. Steve Inskeep describes the series as investigating, the big trends “driving our history.” He interviews Reeves who says that the upper-middle class, those making six figure incomes and above, dominate the best schools, live in the best homes, and pass on the best futures to their children, at the cost of everyone else.

He calls this “opportunity hoarding.”

Reeves, now an American citizen but originally from the U.K., contends that the American class system is even worse than the system of royalty that rules his birth country. In the UK, they make no bones about the privileges of the aristocracy while in the US, we “have a class system that operates every bit as ruthlessly as the British class system but under the veneer of classless meritocracy. There isn’t even a self awareness.”

In the end, Reeves says, the upper-middle class have created a dangerous separation of themselves from the rest of society and that divide is ruinous, “They are also disproportionately powerful and the fact that they are not only separate but unaware of the degree to which the system works in their favor strikes me as one of the most dangerous political facts of our time.”

The book was not reviewed prepub and many libraries have not yet to ordered copies.

Holds Alert:

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

The author of one of the season’s most heavily anticipated new cookbooks, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (S&S; OverDrive Sample), Samin Nosrat was featured yesterday on NPR’s food show The Salt. Libraries are seeing holds ratios well over 3:1 for the book, in one case 8:1.

Nosrat became known as the chef who taught Michael Pollan to cook after he featured her in both his book Cooked and his Netflix show of the same name. In turn, she learned her craft under the eagle eye of legendary cook Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse.

She tells The Salt that “The key to good cooking … is learning to balance [salt, fat, acid, and heat] and trust your instincts, rather than just follow recipes.”

In this, her first book, she seeks to revolutionize standard cookbook formats, Saving all of the recipes for the end, the first half teaches readers the basics of cooking so they can learn to trust their own senses. Nosrat also uses illustrations, rather than staged photographs so readers won’t “feel bound to my one image of a perfect dish in a perfect moment and feel like that was what you had to make … I didn’t want you to feel like you had to live up to my version of perfection.”

Reviews attest to the success of her approach. Cooking Light says it “amounts to an incredibly engaging master class that helps free you from recipes so you can improvise like a pro.” The Atlantic‘s reviewer calls it the book he is “most likely to recommend to a beginning cook.”

In addition to the NPR audio (below), Nosrat has released several videos, including the following:

A Reading Life Revealed

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Pamela Paul who oversees all of the New York Times book coverageincluding the Book Review, was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, ostensibly to talk about her new book My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues (Macmillan/Henry Holt and Co.; OverDrive Sample), but most of the interview focused on her day job.

Explaining the differences between reviews in the daily paper and the Sunday Book Review, she says that the daily reviews begin with the critic, who chooses which books to review. For the Book Review, the editors choose the books, but more importantly who will review them. Trying to imagine who New York Times readers would most want to read on a particular book is the  most creative and “delicious” part of the process, she says, resulting in pairings such as Bill Clinton on Bob Caro‘s fourth book on LBJ, or Michael Lewis on former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s memoir.

As to her own book, it’s based on Paul’s reading diary which she dubbed “Bob,” or “Book of Books.” What titles shaped the most powerful book review editor in the country? A large diet of Nancy Drews and frequent trips to the library to make up for a home not filled with books. As we noted earlier, prepub reviews were strong, with LJ saying, “Titles about reading and books abound, but this memoir stands in a class by itself. Bibliophiles will treasure, but the addictive storytelling and high-quality writing will vastly increase its audience.”

Libraries ordered the title very lightly. All that we checked are showing active holds lists.

Bill Gates: Summer Reading

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Add the billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft to those with summer reading recommendations.

Bill Gates posts five picks to his blog, gatesnotes, saying that “The books on this year’s summer reading list pushed me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed.”

He offers an animated tour of each pick, detailing its pleasures:

As happened with his summer reading list from last year, several of the books are rising on Amazon as a result of his attention. Just a few weeks ago Gates took to Twitter to push Steven Pinker’s 2010 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, and it soared to the top of the Amazon sales charts.

The five picks:

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (PRH/Spiegel & Grau; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample). Gates says “I loved reading this memoir about how its host honed his outsider approach to comedy over a lifetime of never quite fitting in.” It has jumped from #275 to #67 on Amazon.

The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample). Gates admits he primarily reads nonfiction, but was very glad his wife gave him this novel about a heart transplant and all the lives it connects. He says “what de Kerangal has done here in this exploration of grief is closer to poetry than anything else.”

J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). Used as THE book to explain the 2016 election, Gates writes it also explains the impact of a chaotic childhood and says “the real magic lies in the story itself and Vance’s bravery in telling it.” Already doing just fine, the Gates mention moved it from #18 to #10 on Amazon’s rankings.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (HC/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample). Calling it “provocative … challenging, readable, and thought-provoking,” Gates says he does not agree with everything Harari says but thinks it is “a smart look at what may be ahead for humanity.” Another rising title on Amazon, it moved from #354 to #125.

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter (S&S; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample). Gates writes that this presidential memoir “feels timely in an era when the public’s confidence in national political figures and institutions is low.”