After he appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, Thumb rose from #248 to #43 and Spoon from #886 to #228 on Amazon’s sales rankings.
Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
More media and librarian favorites land next week, as the summer reading season swings into gear. Some familiar names deliver new novels with big potential, including Alan Furst, Mark Haddon, Jess Walter, John Lanchester, and Robert Goolrick. There are also debuts to watch from Claire McMillan, Benjamin Wood, Maggie Shipstead. Usual suspects include Robert Dugoni, Dorothea Benton Frank, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. And in nonfiction, there’s an intriguing look at what humans and animals have in common when it comes to health and healing by cardiologist and psychiatrist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Kathryn Bowers.
Mission to Paris by Alan Furst (Random House; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) is set in Paris in the year leading up to Germany’s 1940 attack, as a Hollywood film star is drawn in to the Nazi propaganda war. It’s on Time magazine’s list of top ten picks for the year so far. In an early New York Times review, Janet Maslin says, “This particular Paris is the spy novelist Alan Furst’s home turf. He has been there many times in the course of 11 soignée, alluring novels. But he has never been there with a Hollywood movie star.”
The Gilded Age by Claire McMillan (S&S) follows a woman who returns to close-knit Shaker Heights, Ohio after a divorce and rehab, to find her next wealthy husband. It led the “women’s fiction” category on USA Today‘s Summer Books preview. Publishers Weekly says that “while the novel tips its hat to House of Mirth, a simple comparison doesn’t do McMillan justice.” More Edith Wharton-inspired novels are out this summer. The Innocents by Francesca Segal (Hyperion/Voice. 6/5/12) recasts Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence in a close-knit North West London Jewish community and BEA Lbirarians Shout ‘n’ Share pick, The Age of Desire by Jenny Fields, Penguin/Pamela Dorman, 8/2/12, is about Edith Wharton’s love affair with a younger man.
The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood (Penguin/Viking; Brilliance Audio) is told by caregiver Oscar Lowe, who becomes entangled with Cambridge students Iris and her brother Eden, who thinks he can heal others through music. It’s the second galley featured in our First Flights program. Booklist says, “this first novel is most notable for its acute characterizations and flowing prose that engrosses the reader as initial foreboding fades only to grow again. Wood is definitely a writer to watch.”
The Red House by Mark Haddon (RH/Doubleday; Random House Audio) is a social novel about a brother who invites his sister, her husband and three children for week’s vacation with his new wife and step-daughter, by the author of the runaway bestseller The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night. Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, saying in a review that sounds more like an A, “The story unfolds from all eight characters’ points of view, a tricky strategy that pays off, letting Haddon dig convincingly into all of the failures, worries, and weaknesses that they can’t leave behind during this pause in their lives.” It’s a June Indie Next pick.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (HarperCollins) is a bittersweet romance that begins when a starlet pregnant with Richard Burton’s baby is whisked from the set of Cleopatra to a tiny Italian seaside village in 1962, where the innkeeper falls in love with her, and looks her up in Hollywood years later. Reviews have begun already, as we noted earlier.
Capital by John Lanchester (Norton) is set in former a working class London neighborhood where property values have skyrocketed, as the 2008 recession sets in. LJ says it “weaves together multiple stories in an uncanny microcosm of contemporary British life that’s incredibly rich and maybe just a bit heavy, like a pastry. Yet definitely worth a look.” It’s also a June Indie Next pick.
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (Workman/Algonquin Books; Highbridge Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the story of a man who returns from WWII to a small Virginia town with a suitcase stuffed with cash and a set of butcher knives. LJ says, “this novel is not a straightforward Southern gothic thriller but primarily a lyrical meditation on the magnified elements of small-town life: friendship, trust, land, lust, and sin.” The author’s previous novel, A Reliable Wife, was a huge seller, especially in paperback. We’re expecting even more from this one. This one is the #2 June Indie Next pick
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (RH/Knopf), a debut novel, is the story of “WASP wedding dysfunction at it’s most hilarious,” as librarian Jennifer Dayton of Darien, CT observed on our GalleyChat. It’s a June Indie Next pick and a B&N Best Book of the Month. Ron Charles in the Washington Post this week calls it “a perfect summer romp” and, “Shipstead’s weave of wit and observation continually delights.”
The Conviction by Robert Dugoni (S&S/Touchstone) is the fifth thriller featuring Seattle lawyer David Sloane, as he tries to spring his adopted son and his friend from a hellish juvenile detention center. Nancy Pearl is a Dugoni fan, as evidenced by this interview from 2011.
Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank (Harper/ Morrow; HarperAudio; Thorndike Large Print) explores how a mother and son rekindle their faith in life after their beloved husband and father is killed in the line of duty as a fireman.
Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (S&S/Atria Books; Wheeler Large Print; S&S/Audio) is the story of a young woman who escaped her unhappy Oklahoma childhood as an adult in New York City, but can’t refuse a request to assist her famous cousin, who proceeds to have a very public unraveling. LJ says, “while attempting to address deeper family bonds, the authors swing wide and miss their mark. The emotional ties never quite shine through.”
Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (RH/Knopf; RH Audio) brings together cardiologist and psychiatrist Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Bowers to make the case that since animals and humans suffer the same diseases, doctors and veterinarians should work more closely together. Booklist calls it “as clarion and perception-altering as works by Oliver Sacks, Michael Pollan, and E. O. Wilson.”
A fascinating look at the fascinating topic of breasts was aired on Fresh Air yesterday, propelling Breasts by Florence Williams to #85 (from # 1,144). Science reporter Williams, after reading that toxins has been discovered in breast milk, had her own tested and discovered that it contained flame retardants (from the foam in her couch) and an ingredient in jet fuel.
Ron Rash’s The Cove, goes on sale next week, but critics have already been vying to review the latest novel from the author of the acclaimed Serena. Two buzzed-about debuts will also arrive: Regina O’Melveny‘s historical novel The Book of Madness and Cures and Patrick Flanery‘s exploration of contemporary South Africa Absolution, plus a new novel from Katherine Howe. Usual suspects include John Grisham, Seth Grahame-Smith and Barbara Taylor Bradford. In nonfiction, there are new books from economist and foodie Tyler Cowen, Brad Meltzer and Edward O. Wilson.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Cove by Ron Rash (Harper/Ecco; Thorndike Large Print) features a love affair doomed by the turmoil of WWI, set in Appalachia. Critics have been competing to review it early: People gives it 4 out of 4 stars, saying “In Rash’s skilled hands, even farm chores take on a meditative beauty” and Entertainment Weekly gives it a straight A. However, the Washington Post‘s Ron Charles expresses disappointment: “Maybe anything Ron Rash published after Serena would seem pale… Only at the very end do these pages ignite, and suddenly we’re racing through a conflagration of violence that no one seems able to control except Rash.” The New York Times‘ Janet Maslin also doesn’t find it as good as the ” dazzling” Serena. In any case, the attention offers readers advisors the opportunity to lead people to the earlier book, which is being made into a movie, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O’Melveny (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel about a female doctor in 16th-century Italy that is one of BookPage’s most-buzzed about releases. As the Boston Globe‘s early review notes: “Women physicians playing the sleuth in hostile terrain have been a burgeoning club in the recent field of fiction, led by popular new works from Ann Patchett and Téa Obreht…. [This] story makes for a confounding hybrid, one that speaks to devotees of high-end historical romance from one side of its mouth and the fan base of Dr. Oliver Sacks from the other.”
Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Penguin/Riverhead) is a debut about a celebrated novelist in contemporary Cape Town, South Africa who believes she betrayed her anti-apartheid activist sister. It’s part literary detective story, part portrait of an uncertain society new to freedom. LJ notes that the author, an American living in London, has been called “the next J.M. Coetzee,” and declares that this “assured, atmospheric novel perfectly reflects the tenuous trust being forged among South Africans as they look to the future.”
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe (Hyperion Books; Hyperion Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is a historical mystery with a romantic twist by the author of the 2009 debut hit The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Set in Boston in 1915, Boolklist says, “it offers a poignant look at spiritualism during the Great War and the comfort it brought to people who had lost loved ones.” LJ recommends it for fans of Tracy Chevalier and Diana Gabaldon.
Calico Joe by John Grisham (RH/Doubleday; Random House Large Print; Random House Audio) is a baseball-themed book timed for the opening of the season. Booklist calls it “a solid baseball story but one that never delivers the emotional payoff readers will expect.”
Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio) is the latest from the “master of the mashup,” as the Wall Street Journal calls him in a long feature today. Not so much a mashup, this new title plays with history, turning the Three Kings into escaped thieves who happen upon the manger and reluctantly help the Holy family escape to Egypt. Entertainment Weekly calls it “a fantasy action-adventure akin to fusing Game of Thrones with the Gospel of Luke…Grahame-Smith’s depiction of sacred figures as flawed humans that makes the book feel like a secret account of events that have been sanitized by legend.” Following in the footsteps of the author’s other books, this one has been optioned for the movies. The 3-D film based on his Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter arrives in theaters in June.
Letter from a Stranger by Barbara Taylor Bradford (St. Martin’s Press; Center Point Large Print; Macmillan Audio) is another of the author’s signature multigenerational novel. PW says, “Gardens, food, clothing, and accessories – everything in Bradford’s world shows taste. If the plot turns simplistic at times, loyal fans will still tear up at the descriptions of enduring friendship and familial love.”
The Calling (Darkness Rising Series #2) by Kelley Armstrong (HarperCollins) is the second installment in a teen fantasy series. Booklist says, “the lightning-fast plot leaves little room for character development, and Armstrong keeps the focus on the motion rather than the emotion while paving the way for the series finale. Fans of the first book, The Gathering (2011), won’t find any reason not to stay on board.”
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (Mysterious Benedict Society Series) by Trenton Lee Stewart (Hachette/LBYR; Listening Library) is a prequel to the popular series, focusing on the backstory of the narcoleptic genius founder of the Mysterious Benedict Society. Booklist says, “The novel is long, true, but many readers will find themselves reluctant to reach the end; and while Stewart leaves an opening for sequels about Nicholas as a child, this invigorating novel stands on its own.”
An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen (RH/Dutton) is a gastronomic treatise by an economist best known for The Great Stagnation. PW says, “Cowen writes like your favorite wised-up food maven, folding encyclopedic knowledge and piquant food porn… into a breezy, conversational style; the result is mouth-watering food for thought.” According to Forbes, Cowen is “America’s hottest economist” (remember when that would have been an oxymoron?). Maybe it’s true; he’s spoken at TED. FastCompany recently listed a few of his intriguing “new rules.”
Heroes for My Daughter by Brad Meltzer (Harper) is a compilation by the popular thriller author, of stories of 55 people who dedicated their lives to improving the world, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank to Randy Pausch, Theodore Roosevelt to Lucille Ball, Rosa Parks to the passengers on United Flight 93. His Heroes for My Son was published in 2010.
The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson (Norton) is the Pulitzer Prize winning Harvard scientist’s answer to life’s big questions; “Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going?” Kirkus says, “Group selection–as opposed to kin selection, i.e., the ‘selfish gene’ a la Richard Dawkins–is the author’s big idea…Wilson succeeds in explaining his complex ideas, so attentive readers will receive a deeply satisfying exposure to a major scientific controversy.”
Jonah Lehrer’s third book, Imagine: How Creativity Works debuts at #1 on both the Indie and the NYT nonfiction best seller lists.
His previous book, How We Decide (HMH, 2009), was on both the NYT hardcover and paperback extended lists.
Media attention, including two interviews on NPR helped raise the book’s profile;
Library holds are very heavy where ordering is light (one large system shows 215 holds on 9 copies).
Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, is enjoying a wide range of media coverage, from the New York Post to the New York Times (in both the magazine and in David Brooks’s column), for his new book, Thinking Fast and Slow (FSG, 10/25). As a result, it has been in the top ten on Amazon sales rankings for the past two days and shows heavy holds in libraries that have ordered it (several libraries have not).
…we could have randomly selected any 3,000-word chunk of it and it would’ve been just as brilliant as the bit we chose. [Kahneman’s] writing style is so charming and amiable that you almost forget that he’s kicking the table legs out from under life as we think we live it.
Forbes takes a narrower view, focused on their own specific interests, “Nobel Prize Winner: Stock Advisors are Worthless,” as does the Wall Street Journal, “Investors, Beware Overconfidence — And Not Just Your Own.”
The New York Post calls it an answer to Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.
Next week holds many riches: Michael Lewis‘s follow up to The Big Short, Susan Orlean‘s much anticipated Rin Tin Tin bio, a new novel from Michael Ondaatje that’s said to be his most engaging since The English Patient, and Jose Saramago‘s final work, plus a new novel from Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright.
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Norton, Thorndike Large Print) is the story of an ill-fated affair that leads to the collapse of two marriages, set in Ireland as the Celtic Tiger wanes into recession. It follows Gathering, Enright’s Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller (for more than five months). Kirkus says Enright “once again brings melancholy lyricism to a domestic scenario and lifts it into another dimension.” It was also a pick on our own Galley Chat.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (Algonquin; Highbridge Audio; Large Type, Thorndike, 9781410445063) is a dystopian take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, in which Hannah Payne wakes up after having been injected with a virus to turn her skin red, punishment for aborting her unborn child. Library Journal says, “Jordan offers no middle ground: she insists that readers question their own assumptions regarding freedom, religion, and risk. Christian fundamentalists may shun this novel, but book clubs will devour it.” It was a GalleyChat Pick of ALA, in which one reader called it a “brilliant, disturbing, unexpected turn. Much more than 1984 meets The Scarlet Letter.”
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf; Random House Audio; Books on Tape) is the author’s “best novel since his Booker Prizewinning The English Patient,” according to Publishers Weekly. It starts with an 11 year-old boy’s voyage from Ceylon to London to live with his divorced mother, getting up to all sorts of mischief with two other children on the ship, in adventures that color his life for years to come.
Night Strangers by Christopher Bohjalian (Crown; Random House Audio; Books on Tape; Random House Large Print) is the story of a traumatized pilot – one of nine plane crash survivors – who retreates with his family to a New Hampshire town, but doesn’t find much peace. Library Journal calls it a “genre-defying novel, both a compelling story of a family in trauma and a psychological thriller that is truly frightening. The story’s more gothic elements are introduced gradually, so the reader is only slightly ahead of the characters in discerning, with growing horror, what is going on.” It was also got some enthusiastic mentions on GalleyChat last July.
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (Scribner) is historical fiction centering on four powerful women, set during the Roman siege of the Judean fortress on Masada. It’s a librarian favorite.
The Lost Stories (Ranger’s Apprentice Series #11) by John Flanagan (Philomel/Penguin) is a collection of “lost” tales that fill in the gaps between Ranger’s Apprentice novels, written in response to questions his fans have asked over the years.
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (S & S Books for Young Readers) is the conclusion to the Hush Hush saga, in which Patch and Nora, armed with nothing but their absolute faith in each other, enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything.
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis (Norton; S&S Audio) is a follow up to The Big Short, in which the bestselling author visits societies like Iceland, which transformed themselves when credit was easy between 2002 and 2008, and are paying the price. As we’ve mentioned, Michiko Kakutani has already given the book a glowing review in the New York Times, which caused the book to rise to #17 on Amazon’s sales rankings. Lewis will appear on NPR, CBS radio and TV, and on MSNBC.
Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (Grand Central; Hachette Audio) is a collection of humorous musings by the afternoon talk show host, that comes eight years after her last bestseller. Kirkus says, “though DeGeneres doesn’t provide many laugh-out-loud moments, her trademark wit and openness shine through.”
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True by Richard Dawkins (Free Press; S&S Audio) finds the master science writer and author of The God Delusion teaming up with a master of the graphic novel to create a new genre: the graphic science book that considers the universe in all its glory, magical without creator or deity. Kirkus says, “watch for this to be mooted and bruited in school board meetings to come. And score points for Dawkins, who does a fine job of explaining earthquakes and rainbows in the midst of baiting the pious.”
The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs (Random House; Random House Audio; Books on Tape) is the blueprint for America’s economic recovery by the well-known economist, who argues that we must restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Kirkus says, “A lucid writer, the author is refreshingly direct—tax cuts for the wealthy are ‘immoral and counterproductive'; stimulus funding and budget cutting are ‘gimmicks’—and he offers recommendations for serious reform.” He will appear on NPR’s Morning Edition and on several TV news shows.
The Descendants: A Novel (Random House Trade Paperback) ties into the movie starring George Clooney, which opens 11/18. A dark comedy about a dysfunctional family in Hawaii, it received raves at the Toronto Film Festival (Variety: “one of those satisfying, emotionally rich films that works on multiple levels.”) By director Alexander Payne, whose earlier movie Sideways increased tourism to Napa Valley, this may do the same for Hawaii; it is also a good opportunity to reintroduce readers to the book, the first novel by Hawaiian Kaui Hart Hemmings, which came out to strong reviews in 2007 (as exemplified by this one in the NYT Book Review). Trailer here.
The Rum Diary: A Novel by Hunter S. Thompson (S&S) is the tie-in to the film adaptation of the only published novel by the gonzo journalist, starring Johnny Depp (who played Thompson in the poorly received Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). The movie, opening Oct 21, has a strong cast, but it’s based on one of Thompson’s weakest works, so it may do more for rum sales than for the book. Trailer here,
Unsurprisingly, that review sent the book up Amazon’s sales rankings, to #65 (from #130), where it is as of this morning. Holds are running as high as 5:1 in libraries.
But serious science trumps literary smut, at least this time. The book that got the biggest boost is The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World, David Deutsch (Viking, 7/21; 9780670022755) which went to #48 from #173. Library orders are light with holds as high as 3:1. The review calls it,
…a brilliant and exhilarating and profoundly eccentric book. It’s about everything: art, science, philosophy, history, politics, evil, death, the future, infinity, bugs, thumbs, what have you…[author Deutsch] is so smart, and so strange, and so creative, and so inexhaustibly curious, and so vividly intellectually alive, that it is a distinct privilege… to spend time in his head.
After a series of laudatory reviews and strong word of mouth, the NYT BR sent Rules of Civility by Amor Towles to #61 from #124. Library holds continue to be heavy.
It also debuted on the 8/14 NYT Print Fiction best seller list at #16 (it’s tied with #15, so it’s on the main list rather than the extended).
Strange animal friendships have already been documented in several children’s books. In a new book for adults, National Geographic senior writer, Jennifer Holland examines 50 such stories, several that are already well known and many that have not been covered before, in Unlikely Friendships (Workman, 6/30). Coming out this week, it was featured in Parade magazine over the weekend and rose to #14 on Amazon’s sales rankings from #314.
Children’s books on the topic include:
Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships, Catherine Thimmesh, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children; (May 23, 2011;) 9780547390109
Suryia and Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship,
Dr. Bhagavan Antle, Henry Holt and Co. BYR. (April 26, 2011); 9780805093162
Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends, Carol Buckley Putnam Juvenile (September 8, 2009); 9780399254437
Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship, Isabella Hatkoff , Scholastic Press (February 1, 2006); 9780439829731
A story in the Science section of the New York Times has propelled a university press book about bird’s nests to #45 (from #1,453 yesterday) on Amazon’s sales rankings.
The article mentions the detailed drawings of construction techniques, such as this spread :
It’s an intriguing image; over 28,000 rubber ducks landing on beaches all over the world after being dumped from a ship in the North Pacific. Journalist Donovan Hohn was so taken with the story that he decided to follow the ducks. The resulting book hardly needs description; the incredibly long subtitle accomplishes that.
Thanks to a controversial video trailer for Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell, the book’s publication date has been pushed up by a week. In the video, the Grand Rapids, Michigan mega-church pastor and bestselling author of Velvet Elvis leans toward “universalism ─ a dirty word in Christian circles that suggests everyone goes to heaven and there is no hell,” as CNN.com’s “Belief Blog” puts it.
On March 14, Bell will be the subject of a New York Times profile, and will appear on Good Morning America and Nightline.
Several libaries we checked did not have copies on order. Others showed holds of up to 10:1 on light ordering.
Other Notable Nonfiction On Sale Next Week…
It won’t be published until March, but Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future is already featured on Good Morning America. No wonder; the author says that in our lifetime, we could see one of five major cities (Los Angeles or San Francisco are on the list) completely destroyed by an earthquake.
The most unusual art book of the season may be Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century. The NYT features it today (complete with stunning slide show on the Web site), saying it is filled with “gorgeous imagery, from the first delicate depictions of neurons sketched in prim Victorian black and white to the giant Technicolor splashes the same structures make across 21st-century LED screens.”
The book was not reviewed prepub and few public libraries own it.
How many people will be interested in reading a 592-page book on a dreaded disease by a first-time author? Scribner is placing a 125,000-copy bet on a “biography of cancer,” The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, arriving next week.
The author and the book are profiled today in the New York Times. Mukherjee explains why he wrote the book,
“I was having a conversation with a patient who had stomach cancer and she said, ‘I’m willing to go on fighting, but I need to know what it is that I’m battling.’ It was an embarrassing moment. I couldn’t answer her, and I couldn’t point her to a book that would. Answering her question — that was the urgency that drove me, really. The book was written because it wasn’t there.”
For a sample, read Mukherjee’s article in the Oct. 31 New York Times Magazine (“The Cancer Sleeper Cell“), which is based on the book.