The Red Bandanna: Welles Crowther, 9/11, and the Path to Purpose by Tom Rinaldi (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, leaping over thousands of other titles to move from #6,305 to #15.
The book recounts the heroic actions of Welles Crowther who worked for an investment banking firm at the World Trade Center. Crowther had planned to leave the firm to join the fire department, finally fulfilling a life long dream.
He was still working for the bank on 9/11, 2001 and he sacrificed his life to save at least five others, leading people out of the tower and then returning to help more. He was identified by the red bandanna he wore as a mask against the smoke.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton, 2015; OverDrive Sample) was a New York Times bestseller when it came out last year. It was also considered one of the best cookbooks of the year by both LJ and Amazon.
Gaining renewed attention, it moved up Amazon’s sales ranking from just outside the top 100 to #4.
Calling it a big, sweeping, Dickensian novel, the Slate critics, Meghan O’Rourke, Parul Sehgal, and Katy Waldman, jump into a conversation about the core of the novel and its message.
While the central character, a woman named Pip, should serve as the novel’s heart, all the participants agree that it is the mothers in the story that power its interest, saying that those characters offer a creepy sensibility that provides “a range of tones from horror to simmer” and become the most fascinating part of the story.
The group also discusses the portrayal of women and the ways the men operate in the novel, accusing Franzen of failing the Bechdel;Wallace test.
Each ends up recommending the novel, despite clear flaws, saying they admire Franzen’s ambition and his ability to identify questions readers need to address. However, they say that this is not the book to start reading Franzen – for that they suggest The Corrections.
Next month the book club will explore Lucia Berlin’s short-story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women, which was featured on a number of the year-end best books lists.
Dr. Sax, who has worked as a family physician for more than 20 years, blames parents, media of all sorts, and cell phones for much of the failure to raise respectful, healthy, and happy kids.
In his CBS interview he says kids used to be told to eat their vegetables but are now begged to eat three bites just three bites of broccoli before getting dessert. He also cites the explosion of kids on medication for behavioral reasons in the U.S., 90 times the number in Italy.
In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sax continues his call to re-vamp parenting and says parents should:
“Require respectful behavior at all times. It’s OK to disagree. It’s never OK to be disrespectful. Prioritize the family. The family meal at home is more important than piling on after-school extracurricular activities. Instead of boosting self-esteem, teach humility. Fight the cultural imperative to be ‘awesome.’ ”
Keying in the season, he suggests New Year’s as a good time to start parenting afresh, going cold turkey and telling kids flat out that things will be different from now on.
Amazon’s sales rankings show that readers are getting ready for New Year’s resolutions. New books on weight loss and regaining focus in a distracting world are doing well as are long-time favorites, such as StrengthsFinder and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Even the NYTBook Review is getting into the act, featuring self-help in the upcoming issue. The cover feature, “You, New and Improved,” offers reviews of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, titles we have covered in earlier “Titles to Know and Recommend” posts (here and here).
Just in time for Sunday’s debut of the final season of Downton Abbey in the U.S., a new biography of one of the show’s favorite stars, Maggie Smith by Michael Coveney (Macmillan/St. Martin’s; Macmillan Audio) is published today.
Like it’s subject, says the Washington Post review, it reveals little about her personal life, but much about her acting career, pointing readers to some of her lesser-known, but “superb” films like A Private Function (1984), the “heartbreaking” The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987) and her monologue, Bed Among the Lentils for the 1988 BBC TV series Talking Heads. Quite different from her role on Downton Abbey, it shares its dry humor.
Booklist enthuses, “a sure bet for Jackson’s popular blend of women’s fiction and suspense,” but PW‘s view is quite different, “Jackson settles for a lot of smoke but little heat in this tepid thriller.”
In a starred review, Booklist says, “this exploration of the human side of war should quickly be recognized as one of Taylor’s best efforts. Comparisons to Vince Flynn and Brad Thor are expected and not inaccurate, but Taylor is now in a class by himself,” but PW disagrees, “Complicated character motivation muddles bestseller Taylor’s unusually introspective ninth Pike Logan thriller.”
Author Butterworth steps out from behind the name W.E.B. Griffin and introduces a new style, also signaled by the change in cover. Kirkus applauds the change from “spy/soldier/police derring-do to … romantic adventure novel fueled by sly, sometimes arch, humor … Butterworth’s good-natured buffoonery and hyperbole work far better than Butterworth-as-Griffin.” Fans may not have caught on, holds are light so far.
Consumer Media Picks
People‘s “Book of the Week” is Amy Cuddy’s Presence (Hachette/Little,Brown; OverDrive Sample), which the magazine says is “a must-read for anyone looking to achieve their personal best.”
The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons (Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer) rounds out the picks. People calls this thriller a “live-wire debut” and says, “The plot is convoluted but not at the expense of its sympathetic, entertaining hero. Hang on and enjoy the ride.”
The “Books” section of Entertainment Weekly leads with a review of Marie Kondo’s next, Spark Joy (see our earlier story), calling it a “superfluous follow-up.” They are much more appreciative of a book that came out in November, Fox Tossing: And Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes, and Games by Edward Brooke-Hitching (S&S/Touchstone; OverDrive Sample), which covers the “world’s weirdest, most dangerous pastimes.”
Vicki Burger, of Wind City Books, Casper, WY, says in her annotation:
“Three brothers return to Hall after World War II to find their beloved home hard-used by military forces and greatly in need of repair. Their efforts are complicated by the introduction of the oldest brother’s fiancé, Edie Rose, whose beautiful voice instilled hope in the British citizenry during the darkness of war. Soon, all three brothers are in love with Edie, but only one will ultimately win her hand. Fast-forward to present times and Edie has just passed away, leaving Fox reeling from his wife’s death and mired in grief. Called upon to babysit his four-year-old grandson one day, he discovers that the lad is a prodigy at the piano with an uncanny ability to impart through his grandfather’s musical compositions the emotions Fox felt when writing them. This novel is a joy to read and fills readers with a hope of restoration in the face of loss.”
Sarah Hinckley, of Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, GA, says:
“Neil Gaiman meets Tana French in this debut thriller that takes place on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. Flora is as independent, vulnerable, and anxious for adulthood yet yearning for magic in all of its guises as any teen you’re likely to meet in literature. It is no surprise that she is drawn into the mystery of a man and his daughter moving into the abandoned Dog Cottage next door. The braiding of Scottish myth into this tale of suspicious disappearances adds a compelling twist to the wonderfully evocative setting and great cast of supporting characters.”
In addition to the tie-in for Revenant, which we covered earlier, also arriving this week is The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias, Casey Sherman (Pocket Books).
The big budget disaster movie from Disney comes out on Jan 29 and stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana.
The film recounts the true-life story of the 1952 Coast Guard attempt to rescue two oil takers caught in a massive nor’easter.
Most of the movies trolling for audiences this holiday weekend have already opened (People offers a guide, complete with appeal factors), but a few debut tomorrow.
The one getting the most media attention is the one that opens inthe fewest theaters. Debuting on just four screens in New York and L..A. to qualify for the Oscars, is Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, getting attention not only for its star, but for its director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won both Best Director and Best Picture last year forBirdman and for the difficulties the cast and crew endured on the film shoot.
It is based on Michael Punke’s debut, his only book to date. Published in 2002, it received little attention, but caught the eye of studios prior to publication and went through several potential directors and stars before landing with Iñárritu.
This should be an exciting time for the author, but as theWashington Post reports in a profile, “as the deputy U.S. trade representative and ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Switzerland, he’s missing out on a lot of the fun” and isn’t even allowed to give interviews.
A tie-in was released earlier, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke (Macmillian/Picador; OverDrive Sample). Copies of the original edition of the novel are showing somewhat heavy holds in a few libraries we checked, with some running a 5:1 ratio right now.
The movie expands to many more theaters on January. 8th.
Opening in wide release tomorrow is Concussion starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who uncovers the extent to which brain injuries affect football players. It is based on a 2009 GQ article, that was recently released as a tie-in, Concussion (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Random House Trade Paperbacks).
People magazine, listis it at #7 of a dozen picks for the week (Revenant is at #1), saying that “Smith effortlessly carries this uneven but revealing drama.” He is also getting Oscar Buzz for Best Actor.
In the film, Smith as Dr. Omalu is warned, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week.” The same could be said of the movie, which the NFL is none too happy about. Hacked Sony emails reveal, according the the New York Times, that the studio “found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game.”
The SheepOver (Hachette/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), a children’s book about the illness and recovery of Sweet Pea the sheep, has turned two Vermont farmers into multi-book contract authors.
Based on the buzzy reaction to their Facebook page updates about their sick sheep, John and Jennifer Churchman decided to write a book detailing the story, illustrated with photographic collage art.
John took the book to his local indie bookstore, the Flying Pig, and owner Elizabeth Bluemle blogged about the unique illustrations – a mix of photos, drawings, and kaleidoscopic layering.
Turns out that Bluemle contributes to PW’s ShelfTalker and wrote the post there (you can see samples of the illustrations in the post).
It caught the eye of agent Brenda Bowen, who contacted the Sweet Pea’s owners and within weeks had netted them a mid-six-figure deal for three books with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
On CBS News, which picked up the story, Bowen called the deal remarkable, saying “I don’t know the degree of rareness that I can get down to. I mean it’s granular level rare.”
Shelf-Awareness picked up the story too, thanks to the indie angle and PW reports it in detail as well.
Now the book is zooming up Amazon’s rankings and is currently out of stock.
Libraries seem to have missed the first wave of interest, with only 19 currently showing holdings in World Cat. With a three-book deal and plenty of farm animals to fuel additional stories, the interest in sheep might not be over for a while.
The slowdown in release of titles continues next week, which is dominated by the Star Wars tie-ins (see previous post). As a result, we can round up the other titles in one short paragraph.
James Patterson publishes the next in his middle-grade series, I Funny TV: A Middle School Story (Hachette/LittleBrown; Hachette Audio) as well as the next in the Manga version sof his YA series, Maximum Ride: The Manga, Vol. 9, (Hachette/Yen Press). In adult titles, the next in James Rollins’s Sima Force series arrives, The Bone Labyrinth.(HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe; HarperAudio).
On Broadway, The Color Purple opened yesterday and is getting kudos from coast to coast. The New York Timescalls it “a glory to behold” and the L.A. Timessays it is“a spiritually transcendent theatricalization of the tale.” The latter reviewalso notes that the production “relies to an extent on the audience having some understanding of the basic story.”
Fortunately, there is a tie-in, The Color Purple (Musical Tie-In) by Alice Walker (HMH/Mariner Books).
.. Two film adaptations open today, including Ron Howard’s long anticipated adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea.(poster at left).
Unfortunately, despite early Oscar buzz, Variety predicts, based on the overseas box office where it opened last week, that it will be “one of the biggest flops of director Ron Howard’s career and will serve as a painful coda to what has been a devastating year for Warner Bros.” Reviews are not helping, exemplified by NPR’s headline, “There’s Entirely Too Much Melville In The Heart Of The Sea”
But unsuccessful movies sometimes bring readers to the books they are based on. The trade paperback edition has been rising on Amazon’s sales rankings,
Tie-ins include one for adults and another for young readers:
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Movie Tie-in), Nathaniel Philbrick (Penguin; Penguin Audio)
Another hotly anticipated adaptation The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s best seller he housing and credit bubble, opens in a limited number of theaters today. Says Variety, “Paramount will try to exploit the empty playing field this weekend by launching The Big Short, a comic look at the financial crisis, in limited release. The subject matter is dense, terms like collaterized debt obligations are bandied about, so it will fall to an all-star ensemble of Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell to bring in audiences. The Big Short debuts on seven theaters before going wide on Dec. 25.”
The NYT is much more positive, calling it “A true crime story and a madcap comedy, a heist movie and a scalding polemic, [that] will affirm your deepest cynicism about Wall Street while simultaneously restoring your faith in Hollywood.”
Hallmark continues its string of Christmas book adaptations on Sunday with Debbie Macomber’s Dashing Through the Snow (RH/Ballantine), the story of two strangers trying to make it to Seattle in the holiday rush.
There is not a specific tie-in edition, but as we noted the book was one to watch when it came out this past October.
In a three-night event the Syfy channel brings Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 novel, Childhood’s End, to the small screen.
A tie-in edition came out in October, Childhood’s End (Syfy TV Tie-in) by Arthur C. Clarke (PRH/Del Rey; Brilliance Audio).
About an an alien invasion, the take over of the planet begins Dec. 14.
Also coming from the Syfy channel is The Expanse, a new space-set series based on the Hugo and Locus nominated book Leviathan Wakes (which is the first book in The Expanse series).
Lines began forming for the 7th installment of Star Wars:The Force Awakens, as early as last Saturday, 12 days ahead of its Thursday midnight opening.
There’s is a raft of Star Wars branded products to occupy them. As the Seattle Times points out, this is the first Star Wars movie “from merchandise-driven Disney.” following their acquisition of Lucasfilm.
You can get Death Star shoes and even Star Wars mascara and, of course, a wide range of collectibles, introduced earlier this year. Lucas film president Kathleen Kennedy comments in brand-speak, “Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the Saga.”
Several Force Awakens branded titles were released in September and a whole new set is scheduled for release next Friday. However, the print novelization is being held off until January, to avoid spoilers (that does not apply to the eBook edition, scheduled for release the same day as the movie).
Other tie-in arriving this week follow the normal pattern of being pubished months in advance of the movies:
Snowden (The Snowden Files Movie Tie In Edition): The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, Luke Harding (PRH/Vintage).
Oliver Stone is taking on the Snowden story in a film set for release on May 15, 2016. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Snowden, along with Shailene Woodley and Nicholas Cage. The script is based on Harding’s nonfiction account, which published as an original trade paperback in the U.S. in February 2014.
For a while there was a duel going on for film dominance.
Sony bought rights to Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Macmillan/Metropolitan Books) in 2014 (see our story here on the rivalry between Harding and Greenwald). However, Greenwald’s own website reports, relying ironically on leaks from the Sony email hack, that the film based on No Place to Hide is likely dead in the water, quoting an email from a Sony executive as saying the Stone film “will beat our Snowden project to market and therefore ours is unlikely to happen … We ended up passing after seriously considering the project.”
The godmother of the mashup genre, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, finally makes it to the screen, beginning Feb. 19 in a film starring Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey and the upcoming BBC adaptation of War and Peace) as Elizabeth Bennett and Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy.
As we reported earlier, many leading ladies have been rumored or announced, including Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Mia Wasikowska and Rooney Mara.
What does a MacArthur Genius Fellow do when he appears on The Late Show? Sing a childrens song in a duet with Stephen Colbert, of course, even though it makes him nervous. As he admits, having to perform in front of the Late Show band is like “having sex in front of porn stars.”
Quotable line from the interview, “Novels are training wheels for empathy.”
George Saunders is currently on tour for the re-release of his childrens book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, illustrated by Lane Smint,(Random House, 11/24/15; originally published in 2006).
The output of titles slows down considerably this week, as stores move into high gear for the big holiday season. Even so, two big-name titles arrive to strong holds lists.
Secret Sisters, Jayne Ann Krentz, (PRH/Berkley)
A People pick this week, called “suspenseful, romantic escape,” LJ picked it as one of the best Romance novels of the year. Booklist stars it, saying, “the doyenne of sophisticated romantic suspense serves up another irresistible combination of sharply etched characters, suspenseful plotting, smoldering sexual chemistry, and wonderfully written dialogue that snaps, crackles, and pops with the author’s distinctive wit.”
Ashley Bell, Dean Koontz, (PRH/Bantam)
Further behind in holds, this is People magazine’s “Book of the Week,” described as “a mind-bender filled with satisfying surprises.” Booklist predicts, “Koontz hits the canny nexus of horror, mystery, and fantasy here, which should drive demand even higher than normal.”
The titles covered here, and several other notable titles arriving next week, are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, EarlyWord New Title Radar, Week of 12/7/15.
Buckley moves his brand of satire from the present back to the Holy Roman Empire in 1517. PW calls the result “part Monty Python and part Ocean’s 11. The clever narrative is filled with laugh-out-loud one-liners but, amazingly, doesn’t stint on the suspense.”
The author is set to appear Dec. 8th on CBS This Morning and Dec. 12th on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
“When I was young, one of my favorite toys was my dollhouse. It looked just like a regular house from the front, but the back was open with all the rooms exposed. That’s what Paradise City reminded me of, with each chapter narrated by a different character, all inscrutable to the people around them, but giving the reader glimpses into their inner lives. Every character is richly detailed and Day’s clear, sharp prose had me relating to their every feeling from wild, unexpected happiness to deep, thudding sadness. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much!” —Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
Starring Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) as Jones, a character with superhuman strength, The Guardian says the show explores “the after-effects of trauma, exploitation and abuse, with smart and subtle things to say about the way guilt affects the lives of the victims, and how exploitation corrupts the exploiter.”
The Disney filmThe Finest Hours, starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. coming Jan. 29th, is based on the middle-grade title, The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman (Macmillan/Holt, 2014)