The top comic in the US, outselling all others with an impressive one-month sales count of over 250,000 copies is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther. Thatnumber is likely to be revised upwards to 300,000 once reorder figures are known, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The comic, released on April 6th, is the first of eleven single issues that will be collected into paperback complications, beginning with #1-4, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Hachette/Marvel; Sept. 27, 2016; ISBN: 9781302900533; $16.99).
Part of the demand may be a result of the hugely successful movie Captain America: Civil War which features a super fast Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’s project was buzzy before the movie hit theaters, with plenty of pre-pub attention, from the NYT, WSJ, and The Atlantic (where Coates is national correspondent).
Writing from the UK perspective, The Guardian quotes Kate McHale, comics buyer at Waterstones (the UK’s largest bookstore chain):
“The anticipation about what new angles a brilliant writer like Ta-Nehisi Coates could bring to the character … I think we’re expecting a level of depth and insight that could make this one of Marvel’s most interesting and compelling titles, and one of the must-reads of the year. After a great first issue that looks likely.”
Reviews range from glowing to supportive. Vox writes:
“It’s excellent. Coates and Stelfreeze have created a pocket in the ever-expanding Marvel comic universe that’s daring and wondrous, but also organic and natural — a place and a comic that feels crucial and important to the company’s legacy.”
io9 offers the headline “The New Black Panther Comic Is Off to an Amazing Start” and says:
“By giving us a starting point of T’Challa at his weakest, Black Panther is setting itself on a road that could give us some of his strongest stories in years.”
IGN offers a history of the character for all those trying to catch up:
When Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, only two of her books were available in English in the US. That is slowly changing. Arriving this week is Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, translated by Bela Shayevich (PRH/Random House; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample), her fifth book first published in Russia in 2013.
On the strength of the NYT‘s profile on Saturday, the author’s Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets, translated by Bela Shayevich (Random; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) is rocketing up the Amazon sales charts, close to breaking into the top 100.
The NYT‘s calls the oral history:
“An intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to capitalism in the 1990s plunged it into existential crisis … Tolstoyan in scope, driven by the idea that history is made not only by major players but also by ordinary people talking in their kitchens … With every page, the book makes clear how President Vladimir V. Putin manages to hold his grip on a country of 143 million people across 11 time zones.”
All four trade review journals gave it a star with Kirkus calling it “Profoundly significant literature as history” and PW saying: “Alexievich’s work turns Solzhenitsyn inside out and overpowers recent journalistic accounts of the era. Readers must possess steely nerves and a strong desire to get inside the Soviet psyche in order to handle the blood, gore, and raw emotion.”
Holds are running roughly 2:1 on light orders in libraries we checked.
Librarians can look for more to come. The NYT reports that, in 2017 and 2018, Random House will issue translations of Alexievich’s previous work by the powerhouse team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (who brought new life to War and Peace). The paper also reports that Alexievich has plans for new collections, on aging and on love, and is planning a cross-country trip around the former Soviet Union to conduct interviews.
Of her books in English translations, the two that have been published here are Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (Norton; 9780393336863; 1992) and Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (hardcover, Dalkey Archive Press; trade pbk Macmillan/Picador, 2006), which won the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award.
Title output slows down next week, in anticipation of the Memorial Day weekend, traditionally a busy time in stores.
Two best-selling series wrap on Tuesday. The final book in Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave series,The Last Star (Penguin/Putnam Books for Young Readers) and on the adult side, Justin Cronin’s The City of Mirrors (PRH/Ballantine).
Several consumer media and peer picks offer fodder for readers advisors (see below).
People magazine’s “Book of the Week,” described as, “Adrift after dementia and then death have stolen her mother, 40-year-old Blanca heads to … a Spanish coastal village … As she tries to ease her grief with sex and drugs, she turns the lives of those around her upside down … both poignant and funny.”
It is also picked as one of the more literary-minded Lit Hub‘s “Five Summer Reads,” — “Somehow she mixes a heady aperitif of a book that combines quirky, sexy, and gloomy in perfect measures as protagonist Blanca faces losing her mother and her mojo on a Spanish beach.”
Tribe : On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger, (Hachette/Twelve; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Type)
The author of The Perfect Storm, is sure to get major media attention for his book about our returning troops. In an early review in the daily NYT, Jennifer Senior say Junger “writes, simply … After months of combat, during which ‘soldiers all but ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon,’ they return to the United States to find ‘a society that is basically at war with itself. People speak with incredible contempt about — depending on their views — the rich, the poor, the educated, the foreign-born'” and therefor has ” accidentally written one of [the Presidential campaign’s] most intriguing political books. All without mentioning a single candidate, or even the president, by name.”
Food and lies are the topics of this week’s peer picks.
Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler (PRH/Knopf; Random House Audio; BOT)
“At her new job at one of NYC’s posh restaurants, Tess falls for a mysterious bartender and negotiates the politics of the service industry while building a social life. Danler drew from her own experience and the writing is vivid and stimulating. I’m always interested in a story about a girl trying to find her place in the world and her adventures, but anyone who appreciates writing that pulses with life will drink this down.” — Sonia Reppe, Stickney-Forest View Public Library, Stickney, IL
“In an alternate historical London, people who lie reveal themselves by giving off smoke but the rules of how this works are complicated. There are some people who can lie and not trigger any smoke and this lends an interesting element to the story. The rules we are given are changeable. The setting lends itself well to the story. The writing is descriptive, and the tone is atmospheric. Similar authors that come to my mind were Neil Gaiman and China Mieville. This is a dark, delicious tale.” — Jennifer Ohzourk, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO
Smoke is also getting media attention. It’s featured in the Wall Street Journal [may require subscriptio]. The author will be interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered on Tuesday. Reviews are scheduled for upcoming issues of the Washington Post, the daily New York Times and the New York Times Book Review.
Wrapping up the week is another Indie Next pick, Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship, Isabel Vincent (Workman/Algonquin).
“Dinner With Edward is the charming story of the author’s friendship with her friend’s widower father. Vincent does a wonderful job evoking the sensuous details of the meals they shared, but this is more than just a foodie memoir: it is an exploration of the nature of friendship, aging, loss, and how we define our identities as the world changes around us. Despite the sadness of some of its topics, Dinner With Edward is ultimately a warm, feel-good story.” — Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI
The big tie-in news this week is, well, giant, as in BFG. There is both a book version and an audio version in anticipation of Steven Spielberg’s film, opening on July 1, The BFG Movie Tie-In, Roald Dahl (Penguin/Puffin Books; Paperback; $7.99; Audio tie-in, Listening Library; OverDrive Sample).
As we wrote earlier, a new trailer was recently released, as well as the news that the film got a 4-1/2 minute standing ovation at the Cannes film festival when it premiered last Saturday.
Familiar faces from the earlier Alice film return, including Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. Tim Burton produces the film but does not direct this time, leaving that to James Bobin, known for his work on the recent Muppets movies. The film opens May 27.
Tie-ins came out in April: a novelization of the film, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Kari Sutherland (Hachette/Disney Press); a “choose-your-own-path” story, Alice Through the Looking Glass: A Matter of Time, Carla Jablonski with illustrations by Olga Mosqueda, Vivien Wu, Richard Tuzon, and Jeff Thomas (Hachette/Disney Press); and the re-issue of the novelization of the earlier film, Alice in Wonderland (Based on the motion picture directed by Tim Burton) (Hachette/Disney Press).
AMC hopes to continue the success they had with Robert Kirkman’sThe Walking Dead comic book series with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’s Preacher(DC Comics, Vertigo) The 10-episode series, begins this Sunday. No tie-in has been announced.
Season 2 of Fox’s Wayward Pines begins on May 25. Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, the mystery/science fiction series is based on the Blake Crouch novels (Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town).
Matt Dillon stars as Ethan Burke, a U.S. Secret Service agent trapped in a small town while also searching for two fellow agents who have disappeared in the same area.
Previously released tie-ins of the first and last book in the series are available: Pines, Blake Crouch (Thomas & Mercer; May 5, 2015) and The Last Town, Blake Crouch (Brilliance/Thomas & Mercer; July 15, 2014).
What does a painting smell like? Not the canvas or frame but if you were inside the painting, what would it smell like?
That is a question Amy Herman asks when she trains police officers to be better observers. She shares her lessons on optic acuity and awareness in Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life (HMH/Eamon Dolan).
NPR host Ari Shaprio asks Herman about the uses of learning to see more precisely:
“If you remember a small detail about a patient’s life, you remember a small detail about a suspect’s family where they said they go. If you remember small details about your clients, it can really bring the big picture together.”
She goes on to point out that learning how to see more fully helps in every day life, from being able to notice what is happening with your children to observing the details of a job process.
The NYT offers an example of how Herman uses paintings in her work, using “Vermeer’s exquisitely ambiguous “Mistress and Maid,” a 1666-7 portrait of a lady seated at a table, handing over (or being handed) a mysterious piece of paper”:
“There are so many different narratives … The analysts come away asking more questions than answers — ‘Who’s asking the question? Who’s doing the talking? Who’s listening?’ The cops will say, ‘It’s a servant asking for the day off.’”
Herman’s TED talk and the full NPR interview are below:
On Feb. 11 of this year scientists proved Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves. It was an idea many thought could never be tested, much less proven, but an intrepid group of scientists worked for decades to do just that.
Yesterday, on the PBS NewsHour Bookshelf conversation, Levin explains that scientists were actually able to hear gravitational waves and “like mallets on the drum. They rang space-time itself.”
In what is a science adventure book, Levin details how a small number of determined and insightful researchers bet their careers on the concept that the waves not only existed but could actually be heard. She witnessed the process of building detector machines, the rivalries and jealousies of those involved in the project and “realized that this could actually read like a novel. And if you followed these characters, you could understand not only the process of science, but the internal ambitions and the drives.”
No one thought the project would work as well or as early as it did, she continues, “and then it struck. It came from 1.3 billion years ago. It struck Louisiana. About 10 milliseconds later, it crosses the continent and hits Washington state and rings that machine. It is a spectacular detection.”
Summing up the meaning of the discovery Levin says,
“You know, Galileo was just looking at the moon and Saturn. He didn’t foresee that there were hundreds of billions of stars in collections called galaxies, or that there were quasars powered by black holes … what a lot of us hope is that the future will be so vast, beyond what we have even imagined, that there are dark sources out there that will ring these detectors, they will record the sounds of space, and there will be things we have never even predicted before.”
Reception to the book is mixed. A front page NYT “Sunday Book Review” states, “Taking on the simultaneous roles of expert scientist, journalist, historian and storyteller of uncommon enchantment, Levin delivers pure signal from cover to cover. … what makes the book most rewarding is Levin’s exquisite prose, which bears the mark of a first-rate writer: an acute critical mind haloed with a generosity of spirit.”
The daily NYT nonfiction reviewer, Jennifer Senior, however, is far less generous, writing “Awkwardness is everywhere … Editors. Where are they.”
But readers are not bothered. The book is currently ranked just outside of Amazon’s Top 100 and libraries are showing strong holds on light orders with several locations we checked tipping over a 3:1 ratio.
A succinct explanation of gravitation waves below:
Following her best seller, Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham is releasing a surprise new title, in a move characterized by BuzzFeed as “Beyoncé-style,” referring to the singer’s surprise release of the album Lemonade.
Three-star Michelin chef, author of four cookbooks, familiar to many from his appearances on various cooking shows, including his own, Avec Ripert, was feted on yesterday’s CBS This Morning for his new book, a memoir, 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line, (PRH/Random House; RH Audio).
Libraries are showing heavy holds on very light ordering.
When it was published in 2012, Jeanne Ryan’s debut YA novel Nerve, about a teen girl who is seduced into joining a dangerous online game, was compared to The Hunger Games, but with a near-future setting. Lionsgate, in the midst of the success of the Hunger Games adaptations, scooped up the rights.
Starring Julia Roberts niece, Emma Roberts, the trailer for the movie, set to debut on July 27, has just been released.
Unlike many other dystopian YA novels, this one is billed as a stand-alone, but a review on the A.V Club site notes, “the ending openly invites a sequel or series.” At the time of publication, trade reviews were mixed, praising the ingenuity of the plot, but unimpressed by its characterizations (for example, the Kirkus review).
Slate critics Susan Matthews, Laura Miller, and Katy Waldman offer glowing praise, calling it “wonderful” “beautiful” and “endearing” and saying it is already one of the 10 best books of the year, comparable to H is for Hawk and to the work of Oliver Sacks.
Beyond the style of the memoir and its tone, the Slate critics centrally appreciate the detailed insider look at what it is like to “do science.” They also appreciate the way Jahren approaches science as not about getting the world to tell you what you want it to, but listening to what is really happening.
They conclude the conversation by saying the book should be required reading.
Readers seem to agree, holds are strong at libraries we checked with spikes well above a 3:1 ratio at some locales.
Books on public speaking rarely hit best seller lists, but TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson (HMH; Brilliance Audio; OverDrive Sample) is not your usual how-to, drawing on lessons from the popular series of dynamic speeches. It debuts on the NYT‘s Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous, landing at #3.
Written by the organization’s president, the book details how to give a talk worth listening to. It got a push from Forbes which called it “extraordinary reading.”
The three titles that got knocked off the the main list were Spark Joy by Marie Kondo, which fell to #11 on the extended list after 17 weeks in the top 10; Fascinate: Revised and Updated by Sally Hogshead; and The Startup Checklist, David S. Rose, both of which fell out of the top 15 completely.
Women lead in holds this week. Nevada Barr is in first place with Boar Island (Macmillan/Minotaur; Macmillan Audio), the 19th in her Anna Pigeon mystery series, That is followed by Mary Kay Andrews’s The Weekenders, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s) with an appropriate cover to welcome in the summer. It is also an Indie Next pick (see below).
Four Peer Picks hit shelves this week. One is a big name from the May LibraryReads list (which also made the June Indie Next List). The other three, all Indie Next selections, include the return of a reader and librarian favorite.
Both a LibraryReads(and Indie Next title is The Fireman, Joe Hill (HC/William Morrow; HarperAudio).
Mary Vernau, of Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX offers an introduction:
“The Fireman is a novel that will keep you up reading all night. No one really knows where the deadly Dragonscale spore originated but many theories abound. The most likely is that as the planet heats up, the spore is released into the atmosphere. Harper Willowes is a young, pregnant nurse who risks her own health to tend to others. This is her story and I loved it! This is one of the most creative takes on apocalyptic literature that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended for all Hill and King fans.”
The Indie Next pick is DiSclafani’s sophomore outing after 2013’s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. That novel was one of our Penguin First Flights titles.
“The real star of The After Party is the novel’s setting: 1950s Texas, where wealthy housewives and Junior League debutantes rule the social landscape. At the center is Joan Fortier, an unconventional bachelorette who is not content to sit on the sidelines — or to stay in Houston. Joan’s attitude causes conflict with her childhood best friend, CeCe Buchanan, and their relationship falters, exposing insecurities in both women. Fans of DiSclafani’s first novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, will not be disappointed by this well-written, engaging new work.” —Annie B. Jones, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA
“This book is perfectly named. The title describes the characters in the story and also recommends it be read during a relaxing weekend on the beach, by the pool, or curled up on the couch at home. True to her roots, Andrews serves up a mystery complete with a dead body and lots of secrets, many of which don’t get revealed until the very end. And to add a touch of urgency, there’s a hurricane. What could be better?” —Rona Brinlee, The BookMark, Neptune Beach, FL
“Abby and Gretchen are the best of friends. They have navigated through all the adolescent pros and cons that came with growing up in the late ’80s: zits, big hair, getting the nod from senior class heartthrob Tommy Cox, and — demonic possession? Written in Hendrix’s unique, darkly comedic, and slightly twisted voice, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is that quirky and satiating page-turner that fans of Horrorstör, have been salivating for.” —Angelo Santini, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI
As expected, Captain America: Civil War opened big last week, earning more than $200 million in domestic receipts alone in its first week. Forbes reports it is the 5th fastest movie to ever do so. In the process it knocked The Jungle Book off its top perch.
One film with book connections (a flock of tie-ins) opens Friday, May 20.
Angry Birds is a 3D animated comedy based on the popular video game of the same name. It explores why the birds in that game are so angry and features an all-star cast, including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage.
Early reviews range from mixed to lackluster. The Guardian gave it 3 out of 5 stars, saying: “This movie is driven by a naked commercial imperative … Yet there is a kind of pleasure and fascination, mixed with exasperation, in seeing how the game has been mangled and bent into the shape of the conventional animation narrative.”
Calling it “a fast, fizzy and frenetically entertaining” film, Variety largely agrees, continuing: “While not quite as inspired or subversive as The Lego Movie, it’s a comparably cheering standout in the generally cynical gallery of product-inspired product.”