Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts’ 2012 graduating class became a viral hit. Released in book form (HarperCollins/Morrow) this week, it is rising on Amazon.
John Green’s speech to the graduating class of Butler University may not be far behind.
Predating both of them is David Foster Wallace’s speech to Kenyon College in 2005, a viral success later released in book form, This Is Water, (Hachette/Little,Brown). Recently, a short film based on the original was posted to YouTube and has been viewed nearly 5 million times in just ten days.
The “raining-on-the-parade” genre may have begun with a speech that wasn’t actually a speech. It was column by Mary Schmich in the Chicago Tribune in 1997 about what she would say if she had been asked to give a commencement address (which she hadn’t). An urban legend grew up that this was actually a speech given by Kurt Vonnegut at an MIT graduation. Vonnegut ruefully said he wished that were true, but it wasn’t. The column ended up being published as a gift book by Andrews and McMeel as Wear Sunscreen (the one piece of advice that Shmich found irrefutable) and re-released in a 10th anniversay edition in 2008. Baz Lurhmann turned it into a music video “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen.”
Lots of titles to watch next week, including librarian favorites from rising novelists Emma Straub and Tatjana Soli, Spanish sci-fi bestseller Felix J. Palma, and British debut author MorganMcCarthy. Usual suspects include Zadie Smith, James Patterson, Dale Brown and Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry – plus Elizabeth George makes her YA debut.
After dominating news all this week, No Easy Day, the eyewitness account of the killing of bin Laden is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, but the Pentagon has warned that the author is in breach of the non-disclosure agreements he signed when he became a Navy SEAL and that “Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements.”
Christopher Hitchens posthumously delivers his last words on mortality, Gretchen Rubin shares more tried and true advice on cultivated happiness, and NBA superstar Dwyane Wade reflects on his rise as a basketball player and his role as a father.
Breedby Scott Spencer writing as Chase Novak (Hachette/ Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio) is a medical thriller about an infertile couple who transform themselves into parents via reproductive technology, but it has an unexpected side effect, causing them to develop strange appetites that scare their twin children. Janet Maslin gave it an early review in Thursday’s New York Times, in which she calls Spencer the “gently literary author still best remembered for the lush prose of his 1979 Endless Love…[who has] has started writing in a pulpier and more diabolical vein.” She that, while it displays “keen antennas for sensory detail,” it is “a gruesome book, a full-bore foray into the horror genre, so literary loveliness goes only so far. It is probably best avoided by anyone not wishing to know exactly what it’s like to eat a baby pigeon.” The cover sports a blurb from Stephen King, “By turns terrifying and blackly funny, Breed is a total blast.” Entertainment Weekly, however, gives it just a “B,” saying, “Breed is being touted as a modern-day Rosemary’s Baby, but Spencer… delivers the camp better than he does the scares.” A followup, Brood, is in the works.
John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk (Grove Press) is a historical novel set in 17th century England about a boy who’s orphaned when his mother is accused of being a witch. He goes on to become the greatest cook of his generation. PW says, “Known for intellectual prose and complex plots, Norfolk this time out attempts to interweave time and senses, reality and myth, rewarding steadfast readers with savory recipes and a bittersweet upstairs-downstairs love story.” It was a BEA Librarian’s Shout ‘n’ Share pick, and is an Indie Next pick for September.
Norfolk offers a look at the surprising sophistication of English cooking in the 17th C:
The Map of the Sky by Felix J.Palma (S&S/Atria) is the Spanish author’s sequel to his bestselling take-off on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Here, the action begins when a New York socialite challenges her fiance to recreate Wells’ The War of the Worlds, setting off a chain reaction across time and space. LJ says, “Palma has again managed to infuse something very familiar with a new edge and life.” This one also kicked up some buzz on GalleyChat in August, where a librarian said that the novel “brings War of the Worlds to life.”
The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli (St. Martin’s Press; Tantor Media; Thorndike Large Print) was a BEA Shout ‘n’ Share pick for Cuyahoga’s Wendy Bartlett. Here’s her pitch: ”This book opens with a family tragedy that occurs in the first few pages. The rest of this thoughtful book is about how we heal–or don’t–after an unspeakable tragedy. It’s set on a citrus ranch in Southern California. Soli’s first book, The Lotus-Eaters, did very well with our customers, and was really good for book discussion. She reminds me of a young Barbara Kingsolver. Her language is simple but not plain, her characters are extremely well drawn, and the setting is like a movie it’s so easy to visualize.”
The Other Half of MebyMorganMcCarthy (S&S/Free Press) is a paperback original about two siblings who grow up in a dysfunctional aristocratic English family in Wales with secrets that go back for generations. Robin Beerbower, our go-to librarian for scary titles, says this one “is being compared to Ian McEwan’s Atonement, but I’m finding it more compelling than that. The pacing is a bit slow but it features a completely unreliable but fascinating narrator and the gorgeous writing kept me engrossed.”
NW by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is Smith’s first novel in seven years and one of the most anticipated titles of the early fall (it even gets an early review from BusinessWeek). It focuses on three characters who have risen above their childhoods in a Northwest London housing estate in the 1970s, with varying degrees of success. Michiko Kakutani, in the NYT, expresses disappointment, calling it a “much smaller, more meager book” than Smith’s critically acclaimed debut, White Teeth. In the Washington Post, Ron Charles expresses sympathy for the author, who, “Ever since… her dazzling debut in 2000, Zadie Smith has labored under an enviable weight of critical and popular expectations.” He acknowledges that the new novel it difficult, but worth the effort: “At times, reading NW is like running past a fence, catching only strips of light from the scene on the other side. Smith makes no accommodation for the distracted reader — or even the reader who demands a clear itinerary. But if you’re willing to let it work on you, to hear all these voices and allow the details to come into focus when Smith wants them to, you’ll be privy to an extraordinary vision of our age.” Smith spoke out this week to protest the possible closing of hundreds of local libraries in Great Britain.
Zoo by James Patterson (Hachette/Little Brown; Hachette Audio) revolves around Jackson Oz, a young biologist, who witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa that spurs him to heroic action.
The Tombs by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry (Penguin/Putnam; Thorndike Press; Penguin Audiobooks) is the fourth outing with multi-millionaire treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo, who join an archaeologist in excavating an ancient Hungarian battlefield. PW says, “this adventure series stands as one of the crown jewels in the Cussler empire.”
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin/Viking) is the veteran mystery author’s first YA novel, the start of a series about a psychic 14 year-old girl who must fend for herself after her mother runs away from her stepfather. Booklist says, “what’s best here are the characters, both young and adult. There are no stereotypes, and their humanity keeps the story moving, even when the plot is tied in knots.”
Mortalityby Christopher Hitchens (Hachette/Twelve; Twelve; Hachette Audio) is the lauded cultural critic’s look at illness, suffering, cancer etiquette, religion and his own incipient death from esophageal cancer in December 2011. PW says, “Hitchens’ powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them.” 125,000 copies.
A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketballby Dwyane Wade (HarpreCollins/Morrow) is a memoir by the NBA superstar, Miami Heat player and divorced single dad of two sons that charts his upbringing by his drug-addicted mother on Chicago’s South Side. Kirkus says, “ A refreshing chronicle of a fervent sportsman with his head and heart in all the right places.”
Lots of librarian favorites and buzz titles to look out for next week, starting with Francine Matthews‘s alternate history featuring JFK, and Dianne Warren‘s prize-winning tale of small town lives. Little Bee author Chris Cleaves returns with a much-praised third novel, along with fellow Brit Louise Millar’s look into the lives of two London mothers, while Swedish author Lars Kepler is back with another creepy thriller. Usual suspects include Karin Slaughter, Jennifer Weiner and Taylor Anderson. And Cheryl Strayed delivers a collection of her tangy “Dear Sugar” advice columns from The Rumpus.
Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews (Penguin/Riverhead; Thorndike Large Print) explores the premise that President Franklin Roosevelt enlisted a young John F. Kennedy – the son of the ambassador to Britain – to investigate a conspiracy to fix the 1940 U.S. election. Wendy Bartlett at Cuyahoga is betting big on this one, as an easy hand-sell across a busy reference desk. As she puts it, “all you need to say is: ‘There was no CIA in 1939. JFK travels to Europe to research his Harvard senior thesis (which he actually did); Franklin Roosevelt asks him to gather intelligence on what the Nazis are up to.’ ” She believes both men and women will love it, and that it’s a perfect airplane read.
Juliet in August by Dianne Warren (Putnam/Amy Einhorn; Tantor Audio) is a debut novel that follows the residents of a small town on the edge of the vast grassland of Saskatchewan on a single day. The winner of Canada’s highly regarded Governor General’s Award, it was also an ALA Shout ‘n’ Share title, where librarian Wendy Bartlett compared the author to Alice Munro and Jaimy Gordon, saying, “Juliet, it turns out, is a place, not a person… Warren’s description of horses reminds me of Wrobeleski’s wonderful descriptions of dogs in Edgar Sawtelle… Surprise and delight your customers with this one. They’ll thank you, and when it ends up on prize lists, you’ll look smart!”
Gold by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Large Print; S&S Audio) is the story of two friends and close rivals as they train for their last Olympic bike race together and confront the challenges of love, friendship, ambition and parenthood, written by the British author of the runaway hit Little Bee. It’s the #1 Indie Next pick for July and is getting strong early reviews, like this one from PW: “Cleave pulls out all the stops, getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters. The race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling as breathless as a cyclist. From start to finish, this is a truly Olympic-level literary achievement.” It’s most summer reading lists, including People magazine’s, with lots of reviews coming, and coverage on NPR’s Weekend Edition expected.
The Nightmare by Lars Kepler (Macmillan/FSG/Sarah Crichton; Thorndike Large Print) is the sequel to last year’s creepy yet excellent Swedish thriller The Hypnotist, again featuring detective Joona Linna as she looks into an arms dealing case. Booklist says, “ While the plot is overstuffed and the pacing is stiff, Kepler (a pseudonym for husband-and-wife team Alexander and Alexandra Ahndoril) creates a terrific, almost palpable atmosphere, which is sure to please fans of Swedish crime fiction.”
The Playdate by Louise Millar (S&S/Atria/Emily Bestler Trade Pbk Original) is the story of a friendship between two London women who live on the same street, one affluent and the other a struggling single mother whose child has a heart condition. PW says it begins as a “quiet story about neighbors [and] soon builds into a gripping psychological thriller.” 75,000-copy first printing.
Criminalby Karin Slaughter (RH/Delacorte Press; Center Point Large Print; AudioGO) is the fourth installment in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation series, with two disturbingly similar rape cases that take place 40 years apart. PW says, “Slaughter seamlessly shifts between past and present, while her usual attentive eye for character and carefully metered violence is on full display.”
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner (S&S/Atria Books; Center Point Large Print; Simon & Schuster Audio) is the story of Ruth Saunders, who moves in with her grandma in Hollywood and gets a sitcom accepted for production.
Iron Gray Sea: Destroyerman by Taylor Anderson (Penguin/NAL/Roc; Tantor Audio) is the seventh novel in the Destroyerman series about a parallel universe in which the drama of World War II plays out, with Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of USS “Walker” and their allies pursuing a Japanese destroyer in Allied seas.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (Random House) is a collection of columns that appeared on the online publication The Rumpus. Formerly anonymous, the columnist recently revealed herself to be the author of the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, the first in the Oprah 2.0 Book Club. Kirkus says this collection “demonstrates that wisdom doesn’t come only from age, but also from learning from the experiences of others. A realistic and poignant compilation of the intricacies of relationships.”
The subject of the infomercial part is, of course, Steve Harvey’s best seller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man(HarperCollins/Amistad). The source material hasn’t toppled the Hunger Games book trilogy, but it does appear immediately below that series, at #7 on Amazon’s best seller list (a certain other trilogy, as yet not made into a movie, holds the top three positions). The tie-in edition is further down the list, at #635.
This week one more book appeared to add to the shelf of books about how the French dress better, live better and raise their kids better, all while not getting fat. Turns out their kids eat better, too.
Next week, another historical novel arrives that’s well-timed for the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic; Charlotte Rogan’s debut, The Lifeboat. Usual suspects include Christopher Moore, Adriana Trigiani, Anne Tyler, Mary Higgins Clark and Lisa Scottoline. And there’s a TV tie-in to the BBC film adaptation of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks that will air on PBS in April. In nonfiction, there’s a warm reminiscence of Yogi Berra‘s friendship with Yankees pitcher Ron Guildry byHarvey Araton, plus new memoirs from Eloisa James on living in Paris and journalist A.J. Jacobs on living healthy.
The Lifeboatby Charlotte Rogan (Hachette/Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur; Hachette Audio) begins on an elegant ocean liner carrying a woman and her new husband across the Atlantic at the start of WWI, when there is a mysterious explosion. Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. PW calls it “a complex and engrossing psychological drama.” This one was picked by Waterstones as one of 11 debuts expected to win awards and have strong sales in the UK.
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore (Harper/Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) mixes humor and mystery in a romp through the 19th century French countryside when Vincent van Gogh famously shot himself in a French wheat field. Library Journal says, “Don’t let Moore’s quirky characters and bawdy language fool you. His writing has depth, and his peculiar take on the Impressionists will reel you in. One part art history (with images of masterpieces interspersed with the narrative), one part paranormal mystery, and one part love story, this is a worthy read.” Moore will be interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (HarperCollins) begins in the Italian Alps, where two teenagers, Enza and Ciro, share a kiss that will linger across continents and time. Both land in New York City, where Enza makes a name for herself as a seamstress, eventually sewing for the great Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera, while Ciro develops into a skilled shoemaker and rake of Little Italy. Booklist calls it “an irresistible love story.”
The Beginner’s Goodbyeby Anne Tyler (RH/Knopf; RH Large Print; RH Audio) explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances — in their house, on the roadway, in the market. PW calls it ”an uplifting tale of love and forgiveness. By the end of this wonderful book, you’ve lived the lives and loves of these characters in the best possible way.”
The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Press; S&S Audio) follows Mariah Lyons’s investigation of the brutal murder of her father, a well-respected academic, who comes into the possession of an ancient and highly valuable parchment stolen from the Vatican in the 15th century. Mary and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, will both appear on the Today Show on Wednesday. Carol’s book Gypped: A Regan Reilly Mystery, also published by S&S, is coming out on the same day.
Come Homeby Lisa Scottoline (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Thorndike Press; MacMillan Audio) is the Edgar-winning author’s second character-driven standalone thriller with a family saga at its core. LJ says it ”deftly speeds readers through a dizzying labyrinth of intrigue with more hairpin turns and heart-pounding drops than a theme-park ride.”
Sidney Sheldon’s Angel of the Dark, Tilly Bagshawe, (Harper/Morrow; Dreamscape Audio) is the third in the series written by Bagshawe in Sheldon’s style. Says Booklist, “Although clearly aimed at Sheldon’s legion of fans, the book should appeal equally to the broader range of thriller readers.”
TV & Movie Tie-Ins
Birdsongby Sebastian Faulks (RH/Vintage) ties in to the BBC version starring Eddie Redmayne, Clémence Poésy and Matthew Goode, which will air on PBS on April 22 and April 29, 2012. When it was shown in the UK, the British tabloid, The Daily Star, referred to it as a “raunchy adaptation” and an “X-rated hit.” Critics applauded the first episode, but were divided over the second. Audiences, while strong, was not a large as those for Downton Abbey. Check out the trailer here.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits by Gideon Defoe (RH/Vintage) ties into the animated feature by those wonderful folks who gave us Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, with voiceovers by Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek and Jeremy Piven. The first stop-motion clay animated feature film to be shot in Digital 3D, it’s based the first two books in a series by British author Dafoe (collected in this tie-in edition), which has had a stronger following in the UK than here. Treat yourself; watch the trailer. The movie opens on April 27th.
Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift by Harvey Araton (Houghton Mifflin) is the story of a unique friendship between a pitcher and catcher, starting in 1999, when Berra was reunited with the Yankees after a long self-exile after being fired by George Steinbrenner 14 years before. It’s already picking up buzz from the Wall St. Journal, which mentions Houghton’s television ads for the book within the VIP areas of Yankee Stadium, as well as ads during the live game feed, and in the New York Times. The authors will appear on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday as well as on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
Paris in Love: A Memoirby Eloisa James (Random House; Books on Tape) finds the bestselling author of 24 historical romances (who is actually Mary Bly, daughter of poet Robert Bly and associate professor and head of the creative writing department at Fordham University) living in Paris with her family after she survived both cancer and the death of her mother. LJ says, “Not just for Francophiles or even James’s legion of fans, this delectable confection, which includes recipes, is more than a visit to a glorious city: it is also a tour of a family, a marriage, and a love that has no borders. Tres magnifique!”
Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfectionby A. J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster; Thorndike Press; Simon & Schuster Audio) is the fourth book in the One Man’s Humble Quest series, and finds the experieintial journalist trying to become the healthiest man in the world by following a web of diet and exercise advice, most which is nonsensical, unproven, and contradictory. LJ says it’s “engrossing and will have readers chuckling.”
Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dream of the Socialist States of America by Michael Savage (Harper/Morrow; Thorndike Press Large Press; Brilliance Audio) is a rant against “Barack Lenin” by the host of the No. 3 radio program in the nation, heard by nearly eight million listeners a week and syndicated across the United States in over 300 markets. “Not a book to make everyone happy,” says LJ, ”but the 250,000-copy first printing and one-day laydown on April 3 indicates that the audience will be large.”
It’s the lead book review in new issue of People (Feb 20), which gives it 3.5 of a possible 4 stars, and calls it an “engaging memoir-cum-sociological study.”
The NYT is not buying it. Reviewing it yesterday, Susannah Meadows, says “Much of the so-called French child rearing wisdom compiled here is obvious.” She also notes that the amount of support French mothers receive from the government (national paid maternity leave, free pre-school, subsidized nannies) would make anyone more relaxed about parenting.
Several reviewers are comparing this book to last years’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Both were excerpted in the Wall Street Journal. The L.A. Times notes,
Chua’s excerpt, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” almost instantly went viral, whereas Druckerman’s “Why French Parents Are Superior” is trending a little slower. Druckerman’s a bit more circumspect than Chua, a technique that tends not to attract as many eyeballs…while Bringing Up Bébémay wind up a hit, it’s unlikely to be a sensation of Tiger Mom proportions.
Anyone remember when we were urged to call French fries “liberty fries”?
How quickly things change; now it seems everything French is superior. French women don’t get fat and they’re better parents, according to a new book, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Penguin, Feb.7).
Next week brings three debuts to watch – about the Korean immigrant experience, an Alaskan couple longing for a child in 1920, and a Romanian Jewish village in 1939 – plus two well-reviewed thrillers by authors steadily building their audiences, Daniel Palmer and William Landay. Usual suspects include Robert Harris, Kristin Hannah and Shannon Hale - while Elizabeth George delivers a Christian devotional for moms.
Debuts to Watch
Drifting Houseby Krys Lee (Penguin/Viking; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel portraying the Korean immigrant experience from the postwar era to contemporary times. Library Journal says, “Readers in search of exquisite short fiction beyond their comfort zone—groupies of Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth) and Yoko Tawada (Where Europe Begins) — will thrill to discover Lee’s work.”
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Hachette/Little,Brown/Reagan Arthur; Thorndike Large Print) is a debut novel about a couple struggling in their marriage, who arrive in Alaska in 1920. Longing for children, they build a child out of snow that’s gone the next morning, though they glimpse a small girl running through the trees. Kirkus calls it “a fine first novel,” saying ”the book’s tone throughout has a lovely push and pull–Alaska’s punishing landscape and rough-hewn residents pitted against Faina’s charmed appearances–and the ending is both surprising and earned.”
No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel (Penguin/Riverhead) is set in a remote Jewish village in Romania in 1939, as war closes in. At the suggestion of an 11-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: deny any relationship with the known and start over from scratch. Library Journal says “debut novelist Ausubel has written a riveting, otherworldly story about an all-too-real war and the transformative power of community.”
Helpless by Daniel Palmer (Kensington; Brilliance Audio) is the followup to the author’s acclaimed debut Delirious, the story of an award-winning coach accused of murder. (Palmer, by the way, is the son of bestselling author Michael Palmer.) LJ says, “Palmer scores again with a terrific thriller that has it all—murder, drugs, kidnapping, techno-mayhem, romance, manly ex-Navy SEAL exploits, and a burgeoning father-daughter relationship.”
Defending Jacob by William Landay (RH/Delacorte; Blackstone Audio; Thorndike Large Print) is the latest from the author of The Strangler and the award-winning Mission Flats. It features Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber, who is shocked to find his 14 year-old son Jacob charged with the murder of a fellow student. Library Journal raves, “this brilliant novel … is equal parts legal thriller and dysfunctional family saga, culminating in a shocking ending. Skillful plotting and finely drawn characters result in a haunting story reminiscent of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.”
The Fear Index by Robert Harris (RH/Knopf; Random House Audio). Author Harris has successfully moved from alternate history to ancient history to WWII thrillers and contemporary stories and now a techno-thriller about an artificial intelligence project with a mind of its own. Library Journal says this “outstanding thriller… will kindle readers’ minds from the first page. Get ready to enjoy a brilliant integration of fascinating research, compelling themes, and vivid characterization.” It will be in the media next week, including a feature on NPRs “Morning Edition.” A movie is in the works, directed by Paul Greengrass, with Harris writing the screenplay.
Home Front by Kristin Hannah (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Center Point Large Print; Macmillan Audio) is the story of a couple whose growing distance is twisted by the wife’s unexpected deployment to Iraq. Publishers Weekly says “by reversing traditional expectations, Hannah calls attention to the modern female soldier and offers a compassionate, poignant look at the impact of war on family.”
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury) is a sequel to the bestselling Austenland (2007), in which another contemporary American plays Regency heroine at Pembrook Park. PW says, “though a tacked-on romance and some flimsy plot twists strain credibility… Hale provides a welcome, witty glimpse of a side of Austen rarely explored in the many contemporary riffs on her work.” A movie of the first title wrapped filming this summer, with Stephenie Meyer (Twilight Saga) producing.
A Mom After God’s Own Heart Devotional by Elizabeth George (Harvest House Publishers) draws from the author’s bestselling books, radio spots and podcasts, along with scripture, to provide devotionals to guide mothers in parenting.
Given the librarian stereotype, it seems appropriate that a book which praises introverts, Quiet, will be featured at the raucous ALA MidWinter meeting, on Saturday. The book releases this week, along with several novels deserving an RA push and titles by returning favorites, Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Hilma Wolitzer, Margot Livesey and Tim Dorsey.
Bond Girlby Erin Duffy (HarperCollins/Morrow) is the tale of a business school graduate in four-inch heels, set in the financial world, leading up to the tumultuous year of 2008 – it’s billed by the publisher as The Devil Wears Prada meets Wall Street. Library Journal says, “despite financial details that may make your head spin and a workplace that will make your stomach churn, Duffy’s fresh take on the single-in-the-city tale does a terrific job of reviving chick lit.”
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson (Hachette/ Grand Central; Hachette Large Print) is a Southern famiy saga by the author of Gods in Alabama, and follows a young woman’s search for the truth about who her mother really is. In a starred review, Booklist calls it “Jackson’s most absorbing book yet, a lush, rich read with three very different but equally compelling characters at its core.”
Heftby Liz Moore (Norton) is the author’s second novel, featuring a 600-pound former academic and a teenager in crisis who become unlikely allies. PW says, “the writing is quirky, sometimes to a fault, yet original, but the diptych structure is less successful, as the respective first-person narrators are sometimes indistinct. Regardless, Moore’s second novel wears its few kinks well.”
Taken by Robert Crais (Penguin/Putnam; Wheeler Publishing; Brilliance Corporation) is the 15th Elvis Cole novel, involving a wealthy industrialist whose missing son appears to have faked his own kidnapping. “Cole and sidekicks Joe Pike and Jon Stone all get a chance to shine, ,” says PW. “Told from multiple points of view, this installment would make a fine action-packed film with three strong male leads.”
All I Did Was Shoot My Man: A Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley (Riverhead; Penguin Audiobooks) finds Leonid McGill in his fourth outing, investigating a complex case that involves adultery and murder as his own life unravels. ”General readers and Mosley fans will appreciate his characteristically fine writing as well as the internal struggles Mosley inflicts on his protagonists,” says Library Journal.
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer (RH/Ballantine; Center Point Large Print; Audiogo) is about a widowed 62-year-old science teacher who finds himself ambushed by female attention after his stepchildren place a personal ad in the newspaper. Library Journal says, “Wolitzer is surprisingly good at portraying a man’s perspective. Although her writing is not as crisp as in some of her previous novels, this is a breezier tale with a lighter edge.”
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (Harper; Harperluxe) is a modern take on Charlotte Brontë’s classic, Jane Eyre, set in early 1960s Scotland. PW says, “although guardian angels and kind strangers turn up like an army of deus ex machinas, these plot missteps dont detract from Gemmas self-possessed determination. Captivating and moving, this book is a wonderful addition to Liveseys body of work.”
Pineapple Grenade by Tim Dorsey (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperAudio) marks the return of Florida serial killer Serge Storms. He’s finagled his way into becoming a secret agent in Miami for the president of a Banana Republic, and now Homeland Security wants to bring him down. PW says, “though the books formula will be familiar to series fans, neither Dorseys fast-paced prose nor his delight in skewering human foolishness has lost its mischievous sparkle.”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (Random House Trade) is a comic drama about a group of British retirees in a home for the elderly in India. It’s being published in the U.S for the first time as a tie-in to the British film version - starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Billy Nighy, and Dev Patel – which will be released here in May 2012. The original UK novel title was These Foolish Things.
Fallen in Love (Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series #4) by Lauren Kate (RH/Delacorte YR; Listening Library) includes four new stories collected in a new novel set in the Middle Ages.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Crown Publishing Group; Random House Audio) argues that introverts get a bum rap and extroverts should not be held up as the ideal – it even charges, as People says in its lead review this week, that “risk-loving extroverts in the financial industry helped cause the global crisis.” The author wrote the lead essay in the New York Times Sunday Review last week, which attracted many comments. She also appears at ALA Midwinter tomorrow.
Fairy Tale Interrupted by RoseMarie Terenzio (S&S/Gallery Books; Tantor Media) as we noted earlier, this memoir by John F. Kennedy Jr’s personal assistant, publicist, and one of his closest confidantes during the last five years of his life is already grabbing headlines. PW says, “Terenzios captivating story, told with style and grace, chronicles her time with Kennedy within the glorious but often brutal bubble that encircled his world, and what he taught her about living.”
City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Sea by Roger Crowley (Random House) traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga for the first time. It is framed around two of the great collisions of world history: the ill-fated Fourth Crusade in 1202 and the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503. Kirkus says, “an action-packed political and military history that will remind readers of the Italian sea power that prevailed for centuries before Western European nations arrived on the scene.”
The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography by John Matteson (Norton) explores the life of writer and social critic Margaret Fuller (1810–1850), who was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation, but also plagued by self-doubt. LJ says, “the work is well written, easily accessible, and entertaining. Prior knowledge of Fuller is not necessary to enjoy it. A great read for anyone interested in extraordinary women in our literary and women’s history.”
The book is dedicated to her cats for being the “best cats, best friends ever.” Later, she threatens those who bad mouth her cats. “Don’t talk s–t about my cat; I’ll go squirrel monkey on your ass.” Does anyone know what this means?
Below, Snooki shows what goes down at the typical author/publisher meeting:
Several favorites from Book Expo’s Editor’s Buzz Panel will be released next week with enviable media fanfare, including debuts from Chad Harbich and Justin Torres. Plus there’s Simon Toyne‘s debut thriller, which has been sold in 27 countries, and National Book Award winner Lily Tuck‘s new novel. Usual suspects include Jacqueline Mitchard, Christine Feehan and Clive Cussler. And Thomas Friedman tops our nonfiction list with his look at four unresolved problems holding back the U.S. from supremacy, along with WWII historian Ian Kershaw‘s latest and a new memoir from Lucette Lagnado.
Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown; Hachette Large Print) is the tale of a high school shortstop destined for greatness, until he mysteriously starts to choke - a reversal that affects the fates of four others at his school. This title has been on nearly every Fall preview list, helped no doubt by a strong pitch at Book Expo’s Editor’s Buzz Panel. It was also a GalleyChat Pick of ALA - librarians who joined our post-show tweetfest said it’s “phenomenal” and ”not to be missed.” Entertainment Weekly gives it a B+, saying that although the characters feel “underdrawn,” Harbach has “a talent for atmosphere, drawing you into his portrait of campus angst.” It’s also a Oprah Book to Watch for in September, and a September Indie Next Pick.
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber (Norton; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is the story of a damaged family grappling with the implications of the teenage daughter’s decision to run away at age 13. This was another Book Expo Editors Buzz panel book that became a GalleyChat favorite – librarians said it may be Abu-Jaber’s breakout. It’s also a September Indie Next Pick. Early reviews are uniformly positive. PW says, ” Abu-Jaber’s effortless prose, fully fleshed characters, and a setting that reflects the adversity in her protagonists’ lives come together in a satisfying and timely story.”
Sanctusby SimonToyne(HarperCollins; Blackstone Audio Books; HarperLuxe) is the first in a projected trilogy of thrillers in the Dan Brown tradition, about an ancient sect of monks on a mountain near the fictional Turkish city of Ruin, who have been protecting a secret since before the Christian era. Kirkus says, “One hopes for a more tightly structured narrative next time around, but the right ingredients are all here.” The announced first printing is 100,000 copies.
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman (Ace; Blackstone Audio) is a debut horror novel about a college professor-turned-would be author who comes face to face with his past and a violent family secret at his family’s rural Southern estate. Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert was strong on this one in her BEA summary, and the LJ review calls it “a creepy, suspenseful, and well-crafted debut.”
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a wife’s reflections on her 42 years of marriage to her mathematician husband, set on the night of his death. It’s Tuck’s first book since she won the National Book Award in 2004 for The News from Paraguay. Kirkus says, “Does the couple’s mutual happiness provide a Hegelian synthesis? Not quite, though Tuck’s crisp writing is a joy.”
Second Nature: A Love Storyby Jacquelyn Mitchard (Random House; Center Point Large Print; author’s backlist on OverDrive) explores the tumultuous life of a woman whose beauty is lost–then restored–after a fire.
Prey: A Novel by Linda Howard (Ballantine; Random House Audio; Thorndike; author’s backlist on OverDrive) follows rival Montana wilderness guides forced to cooperate against a killer on their trail.
Dark Predator by Christine Feehan (Berkley; Penguin Audiobooks; author’s backlist on OverDrive) continues the supernatural Carpathian series.
The Race: An Isaac Bell Adventure by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott (Penguin; Penguin Audiobooks; Thorndike; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a mystery set in the early days of aviation featuring Bell, chief investigator for the Van Dorn Detective Agency.
Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar Novel by Harlan Coben (Putnam Juvenile; author’s backlist on OverDrive) takes place after Mickey witnesses his father’s death, his mom goes to rehab, and he’s forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools. This is Coben’s first YA novel.
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come BackbyThomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Macmillan Audio; Thorndike Large Print) outlines the four major problems the U.S. is not grappling with: globalization, infotech shake-up, out-of-control energy consumption, and lasting deficits.
Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Emotions So They Don’t Control You by Joyce Meyer (FaithWords; Hachette Audio; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is a Biblical take on managing emotions. PW says, “Meyer focuses on learning to think biblically, speak biblically, and then see lives and emotions transformed. Her many fans will not feel disappointed in her latest work.”
The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw (Penguin Press; author’s backlist on OverDrive) is an examination of the last year of the Third Reich as it struggled to survive the dual challenge of defeating the Soviets coming from the East and the Allies advancing from the West, by one of the foremost experts on WWII, Hitler and Nazism. PW says, “Kershaw’s comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation.”
The Arrogant Years: One Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn by Lucette Lagnado (Ecco) is the author’s exploration of her mother’s upbringing in Cairo and her own in Brooklyn, New York. In a starred review, Booklist said, “Lagnado is spellbinding and profoundly elucidating in this vividly detailed and far-reaching family memoir of epic adversity and hard-won selfhood.” This one was also presented at the Editors Buzz Panel at ALA Annual New Orleans. A section about Lagnado’s mother working in the cataloging dept of Brooklyn P.L. is poignant. In the beginning, the work gives her a liberating new sense of self, but a new supervisor removes all the joy from the job.
The memoir category continues to grow, as proved by the large selection coming next week.
Already making headlines is Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso (FSG), the memoir of the author’s seduction and molestation, beginning at age 7, by a serial child rapist in his 50s, it follows their 15-year relationship. New York magazine reviewed it this week, calling it “an unstable mixture of bildungsroman, dirty realism, and child pornography” and calls it “beautiful and appalling.”
A natural outgrowth of the public fascination with celebrity chefs and their cookbooks is the celebrity chef memoir. Next week brings two with strong backing from their publishers:
Gabrielle Hamilton recently confirmed her chops as a writer with an excerpt in the New Yorker from Blood, Bones and Butter, which recounts her trajectory from a 1970s Pennsylvania childhood that disintegrated in divorce to opening her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune.
…the book is hardly just for foodies. Ms. Hamilton, who has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, is as evocative writing about people and places as she is at writing about cooking, and her memoir does as dazzling a job of summoning her lost childhood as Mary Karr’s “Liars’ Club” and Andre Aciman’s “Out of Egypt” did with theirs.
Grant Achatz, whose Chicago restaurant Alinea was crowned the best in America by Gourmet magazine, also delivers Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat. Co-written by Nick Kokonas, the book has a 75,000 copy first printing. An excerpt in the new issue of People (March 7) chronicles Achatz’s struggle with tongue cancer.
Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews (Ecco) is the story of the 1981 kidnapping and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh—son of John Walsh, host of the Fox TV series America’s Most Wanted—which went unsolved for a quarter of a century. It will get a major round of publicity, including a March 1 Q&A with the authors in USA Today, a March 2 appearance by Joe Matthews and the Walshes on the Today show; and a March 3 segment on Nightline.
Michael Oher, the offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, finally tells his side of his adoption story, which is central to Michael Lewis’s bestseller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and the subsequent film starring Sandra Bullock. He explains on the Huffington Post that he wrote his memoir, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond (with Don Yeager)because “I wanted to talk about some of the questions people have about how I was portrayed in the movie and about my life before I came to live with the Tuohys.”
Kirkus says: “The book is strongest when Oher conveys his hard-won wisdom through specific examples and anecdotes from his life. When he dispenses more generalized advice, the narrative reads like a generic public-service announcement.”
At libraries we checked, orders were in line with modest reserves.
Known and Unknown: A Memoir by Donald Rumsfeld (Sentinel) chronicles the career of the Secretary of Defense during 9/11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani calls it: “tedious, self-serving. . . [and] filled with efforts to blame others — most notably the C.I.A., the State Department and the Coalition Provisional Authority (in particular George Tenet, Colin L. Powell, Condoleezza Rice and L. Paul Bremer III) — for misjudgments made in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the failure to contain an insurgency there that metastasized for years.” On Monday, February 7, Rumsfeld will appear on “World News” with Diane Sawyer at 6:30 p.m. ET and on “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, February 8, he will appear on “Good Morning America” at 7 am ET.
Spousonomics: Using Economics To Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishesby Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (Random) is a quirky and practical look at relationships by, respectively, a front-page editor for the Wall Street Journal and an award-winning New York Times reporter who’s covered Wall Street. Based on the authors’ survey of 1,000 couples, Szuchman explains that the key to a good sex life is to keep it ”affordable.” If couples are tired, “they make it quick. Maybe they don’t even bother to take their shirts off. When one of them is in the mood, they say so,” she says in an essay on the Daily Beast.
The Foremost Good Fortuneby Susan Conley (Knopf) is a memoir of family’s move from Maine to Beijing, only to find that the cultural differences between their two homes pale when the author gets a cancer diagnosis. Booklist calls it, “Beautifully written and insightful on many levels.”
Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli is a memoir of an ex-journalist’s search for wholeness and spiritual renewal in Bhutan, while helping to launch Kuzoo FM, the nation’s fledgling radio station. Kirkus says, “the author’s authentic voice and light, pleasant cultural insights make for a refreshingly uplifting book.”