Archive for the ‘2008 — Fall/Winter’ Category

Pluto Rises

Friday, January 30th, 2009

When Jon Stewart really likes a book, there’s a special sparkle to the author interview. This week, he gave the love to astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Stewart describes him as “the man who killed Pluto.” 

As a result, the book rose on Amazon sales rankings from #174 to #89. Some libraries are showing holds. It’s also available in audio, which few libraries own.





The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet
Tyson, Neil deGrasse

  • Hardcover: $23.95; 224 pages
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (January 26, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0393065200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393065206


  • Unabridged Audio: Blackstone
  • Read by: Mirron Willis
  • Playaway: 1-4332-5643-1 $54.99 NA
  • 1 MP3CD: 1-4332-4410-0 $19.95 NA
  • 4 CD: 1-4332-4407-0 $50.00

‘Bright Young People’

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Today’s New York Times coverage of Bright Young People by D.J. Taylor, adds to a growing number of enthusiastic reviews. Library ordering is light and so are reserves. This is a title to consider buying extra copies for your readers advisors.

NPR, in its “Books We Like” column, describes the book as being about the “Young, Idle And Terribly Jaded In The Jazz Age.”  Add “British” to that string of adjectives and you have to wonder why this would appeal to Americans facing what is nicely termed “the current economic downturn.” The NYT Book Review tries to answer the question by saying it “…may be the ideal escapist fantasy for these sober economic times.” And the Wall Street Journal, after dithering that we should care because many of the Bright Young People,

…came from the aristocracy and families prominent in government …[and] they were part of what decades later would come to be termed the “establishment.”

finally admits, “It is simply interesting to know what they were getting up to.”

Carolyn See, who is generally able to zero in on a book’s appeal, in her review in the Washington Post, comes up with as good a readers advisory line as any by saying it’s,

Jampacked and delicious, crammed with a cast of selfish, feckless, darling, talented, almost terminally eccentric, good-looking men and women.

Not all the reviews are completely positive, however. The NYT BR reviewer, while cleary captivated by the book, carps,

Taylor, a novelist and the respected biographer of Thackeray and Orwell, is so intent on his “morality play” that he nearly loses sight of why his characters were a source of fascinated delight and sniping in the first place….[but] His moralizing tone is lightened by the book’s beautiful design, laced with mordant period quotations and delicious satiric cartoons from newspapers and magazines.

The book offers an opportunity to recommend some older classics. Every review mentions Evelyn Waugh’s “hysterical” 1930 novel, Vile Bodies, which is based closely on actual Bright Young People (Waugh was one of them). The WSJ also mentions that,

V.S. Naipaul lived for some time at Wilsford, the estate of the effete Stephen Tennant, one of the last surviving bright young people, who is portrayed in Mr. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival.

Anthony Powell’s twelve volume, Dance to the Music of Time also portrays the period.



Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age

Taylor, D.J.
  • Hardcover: $27; 384 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0374116830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374116835



Vile Bodies Waugh, Evelyn 

  • Paperback: $14.99; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 1999)
  • ISBN-10: 0316926116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316926119



The Enigma of Arrival, Naipaul, V.S. 

  • Paperback: $15.95; 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 12, 1988)
  • ISBN-10: 0394757602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394757605

The twelve volumes of Dance to the Music of Time have been collected into four. Below is the bibliograpic information on the first volume.


A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement, Powell, Anthony 

  • Paperback: $24; 732 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 31, 1995)
  • ISBN-10: 0226677141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226677149

‘Still Alice’ Self-Pub to Bestseller

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

In the new Time magazine (2/2), critic Lev Grossman gives his view of the future of publishing. No particular revelations here, even though he claims that book publishing is “evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it’s done.”

He kicks the piece off with the story of how Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, went from self-published, to traditional publishing and then debuted on the 1/25 NYT bestseller list.

#5 NYT Paperback Trade Fiction, 1/25
#79 USA Today, 1/22, after two weeks — up from #95 last week


Still Alice, Lisa Genova

NYT annotation: “The story of a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s.”

  • Paperback: $15;  320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1439102813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439102817

Heavy Reserve Alert — ‘Animals Make Us Human’

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

In today’s New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews  Animals Make Us Human which follows up the authors’ earlier book, Animals in Translation, a book that

…occupies a special place among the animal books of the last few decades. Ms. Grandin’s autism gives her a special understanding of what animals, whether house cats or cattle, think, feel and — perhaps most important — desire. There is a revelation on almost every page…

Although Garner feels that the new book rehashes material from the earlier one, “If you liked the first one, you’re going to like the second.”

Garner goes on to describe some of the author’s provocative ideas and sums it up with, “We’re lucky to have Temple Grandin.”

Library ordering is light, perhaps because of Library Journal‘s much less enthusiastic response to the book,

…unfortunately, there is a definite sense of uncompromising bias in favor of the authors’ ideas, mitigating any sort of objective study or research that differs from their own conclusions. Those who work with animals will balk at some of the discussions as it’s possible to find examples in which what the authors write isn’t necessarily the case.

On the other hand, Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review.

The book debuted on the 1/25 NYT Nonfiction list at #13. 


 Animals Make us Human
Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

  • Hardcover: $26; 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;  (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0151014892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014897

‘Bases Loaded’ in the News

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Getting attention in the sports pages is a dispute over claims in a coming out next week about steroid use in the major leagues, Bases Loaded.

Of seven large libraries I checked, five have it on order. Reserves are light.

Among today’s stories are the following;

New York Times,  For Second Time in 2 Days, Mitchell Disputes Part of Radomski’s Book

USA TodayRadomski backs former Clemens’ trainer McNamee in new book

Sporting NewsRadomski sides with McNamee over Clemens


Bases Loaded: The Inside Story of the Steroid Era in Baseball by the Central Figure in the Mitchell Report

Radomski, Kirk

  • Hardcover: $25.95; 256 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press (January 27, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1594630569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630569

Obama in the Sunday Reviews

Monday, January 19th, 2009

The Sunday book reviews feature the Inauguration. The LA Times Book section’s “Special Inaugural Issue” asks six writers, including Jane Smiley, “What might the presidency of Barack Obama mean for literature and culture?”

The Washington Post Book World offers an odd take, featuring three books of Americana, including Barack Obama: 44th President, by Avery Krut (Whitman, $49.95), calling it,

Not so much a book as a cupboard between hard covers, it is full of tickets, bumper stickers, reprints of speeches, penciled letters from admiring kids and all sorts of other electioneering byproducts, each tucked into its own envelope-like slot.”

The NY Times Book Review examines books on important topics for the next administration, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, Presidents who took command during difficult times, and even, The Case for Big Government

The NYT BR also sorts through recent titles on Obama, “written and published (with great speed) before or just after the election…” as well as an earlier book by incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Reviewer Alan Brinkley, Columbia University history professor recommends the following:

The most impressive, “for sheer speed and competence” 


A LONG TIME COMING: The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama
By Evan Thomas

  • Hardcover: $22.95; 256 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs, (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1586486071
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586486075


The “most interesting of the recent policy books” (it appeared right after the 2006 Congressional elections)


THE PLAN: Big Ideas for Change in America
by Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed

  • Paperback: $13.95; 224 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; Reprint edition (January 5, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1586487604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586487607


A “particularly valuable guide to what the progressive left hopes to see in the Obama presidency”


OBAMA’S CHALLENGE: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency
By Robert Kuttner

  • Paperback: $14.95; 224 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (August 25, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1603580794
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603580793

Unsworth Rising

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Barry Unsworth’s new novel, Land of Marvels, was featured on Saturday’s All Things Considered and in the NYT Book Review. It rose in Amazon’s sales rankings to 319 from 1,075.

The book is owned in small quantities in large libraries (one each for the largest branches). Reserves are heavy where NPR is influential.


Land of Marvels

Unsworth, Barry

  • Hardcover: $26; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0385520077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520072

Poe Celebrated

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. The New York Times presents a slide shows about the author, based on images from the New York Public Library:

New York TimesEdgar Allan Poe at 200

and the Wall Street Journal offers an assessment of his influence:

Wall Street JournalPoe at 200 — Eerie After All These Years

Sarah Weinman writes in the L.A. Times about the five cities who claim him:

Los Angeles TimesWho owns Edgar Allan Poe?

and  about the books that have just been published to honor Poe:


Poe: A Life Cut Short

Ackroyd, Peter

  • Paperback: $14.99; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0061690422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061690426



In the Shadow of the MasterClassic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe and Essays by Jeffery Deaver, Nelson DeMille, Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, and Thirteen Others

Edited by Michael Connelly

  • Hardcover: $25; 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (January 6, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0061690392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061690396



On a Raven’s Wing

Stuart M. Kaminsky (Editor) , James W. Hall, Thomas H. Cook, Mary Higgins Clark, Don Winslow

  • Hardcover: $21.95; 224 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (January 20, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 038550800X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385508001

Heavy Reserve Alert — ‘How to Live’

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Reviews have been piling up for How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People by New Yorker contributor, Henry Alford. Publishers Weekly even jumped the gun and named it a “Best Book” of 2008, although it’s technically an ’09 book (pubbed Jan 2).

Probably all you need is the title and that clever cover to know this could be a hit. But if the title leads you to expect the usual clichés, Time magazine counters,

With its self-helpish title, How To Live might easily be mistaken for a book full of aphorisms and life lessons — a Chicken Soup for the Non-Elderly Soul. Thankfully, Alford is smarter than that, and his book is impressively understated in its desire to actually impart wisdom.

Consistent throughout the reviews (conveniently rounded up on the author’s Web site) is a comment you might not expect — the book’s profiles of older people are often “hilarious.”

Check your holds. One large midwest library currently shows 133 holds on 4 copies.

Alford’s upcoming appearances include LAPL ‘s “Aloud” series and “Live from NYPL” with Paul Holdengraber.


How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People 
Alford, Henry 

  • Hardcover: $23.99; 272 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve (January 2, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0446196037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446196031

Heavy Reserve Alert — ‘Disquiet’

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Attention has been growing quietly for the brief (128 page) November original trade paperback, the second novel by Australian author, Julia Leigh, Disquiet.

Liesl Schillinger, regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review, told the Huffington Post that it was one  of two books she most wanted to “gift” at Christmas, calling it,

…a dark jewel of a novella…about a woman who returns (uninvited) to her mother’s French chateau, children in tow, fleeing her brutish Australian husband (I wish Edward Gorey were still alive to illustrate the story–it cries out for sinister animation)

Entertainment Weekly picked it as one of their ten favorite fiction titles of the year, saying ” Leigh’s memorably creepy novella is as potent as it is petite.”

Reviews continue to appear, two months after publication date (USA Today reviewed it last week. The New Yorker reviews it this week; one of the few dissenting voices, but it’s significant that they felt they had to cover it).

Libraries own it in small quantities (one copy for the largest branches) and reserves are building (eight to one in some cases).


Leigh, Julia 

  • Paperback: $13; 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (November 25, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 014311350X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143113508

Buzz for Charlie Huston

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Following on the heels of Janet Maslin’s strong review in the NYT of Charlie Huston’s crime novel, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, Patrick Anderson in today’s Washington Post says,

Charlie Huston has for several years been one of the best-kept secrets in American fiction; this novel might move him into the mainstream…[it] had me laughing out loud many times, but of course, like all the best comic fiction (Catch-22 and Portnoy’s Complaint come to mind), at bottom it is deadly serious. Life is violent, messy and all too short, and laughter is the best revenge.

Anderson warns that readers need strong stomachs and a tolerance of frequent profanity to enjoy the book.

Black humor meets the mystery novel? Sounds a bit like another January title with building buzz, Beat the Reaper. Find us a third one and we’ll call it a trend.

Mystic Art

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
Charlie Huston

  • Hardcover: $25; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 13, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 034550111X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345501110
  • Audio Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks,  (January 13, 2009)
  • 5 Tape LIBRARY 1-4332-5750-6 $44.95
  • 1 Playaway LIBRARY 1-4332-5758-2 $59.99
  • 1 MP3CD LIBRARY 1-4332-5754-4 $29.95
  • 6 CD LIBRARY 1-4332-5751-3 $60.00 

‘Songs for the Butcher’s Daugher’ Rises on Amazon

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

First novel, Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter by Peter Manseau, got quite a boost in sales on Amazon (rising from 304,505 to 313) after being featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, somewhat belatedly (it was published in early September). Manseau has written three works of nonfiction, including the well-received memoir, Vows.

About a young man who befriends the last living Yiddish poet (one of the “sweat shop poets”), it is inspired by Manseau’s stint as a book collector for a Jewish cultural institution. As a result of that job, Maseau, a Catholic from Boston, fell in love with the Yiddish language. He now teaches writing at Georgetown University.

Large libraries own it in small quantities (a single copy each for just the largest branches), with some holds.


Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter
Peter Manseau

  • Hardcover: $25; 384 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 9, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416538704
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416538707

Hot Debut Reviewed

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

The WSJ  predicted  that Josh Bazell’s Beat the Reaper will be THE debut novel of January and the American Bookseller’s Association’s Indie Next list picked it as their top selection for the month.

Looks like it’s a hit with reviewers, anyway. This Sunday, both the NYT BR and the Washington Post Book World give it raves in their Jan 11 issues.

Ron Charles, a senior editor for the Book World, calls Beat the Reaper a “reader’s dream” and a “comic thriller.” The narrator of the novel is Dr. Peter Brown, formerly a member of the mafia, who escaped witness protection to become an ER doc in a rundown Manhattan hospital. As Charles describes the plot,

Beat the Reaper opens with a mugging, followed by sex in a hospital elevator with a cute drug rep, and then it races along for eight manic hours in what looks like the last day of Peter’s career — and perhaps his life.

He sums it up,

Bazell has sutured together Alan Alda’s Capt. Hawkeye and James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano, and so long as he keeps everything operating fast enough, it’s too much fun and too much gore to take your eyes off the page. Beware the risk of dependency: This is the first of a planned series, and movie versions aren’t far behind. 

The last reference is to the fact that Variety announced this week that Leonardo DiCaprio has bought the screen rights, and plans to star in it.

Variety notes that there was a major publishing auction for the book and Bazell, a doctor, “was in his hospital scrubs on the night shift as publishers waged a seven-figure fight for his first novel.”

The author is scheduled to appear on the Today show on Jan. 13. 

Libraries have ordered it in modest quantities, with holds in some areas. 

Beat the Reaper

by Josh Bazell

  • Hardcover: $24.99; 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (January 7, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0316032220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316032223
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; $29.98
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; (January 7, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1600244327
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600244322
  • Also on OverDrive
  • Paperback: $24.99; 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (January 7, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0316037559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316037556

‘People’ Picks Debut Novels

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Two major debut novels (“major” meaning that both received significant advances and are being heavily promoted by their publishers) get admiring attention in the 1/19 issue of People.

The People Pick is The Piano Teacher, by Janice Y. K. Lee, garnering four of a possible four stars. Set in 1950’s Hong Kong, this “shattering, immensely satisfying debut” focuses on a romance between an English piano teacher and a chauffeur  “whose tragic love for [a] mercurial Eurasian socialite a decade earlier is the heartbreak that haunts the novel.”

The book is getting attention in the January editions of the many of the monthly magazines — O, Good Housekeeping, Body + Soul, Marie Claire — rounded up very conveniently on the author’s Web site. Read the one in Body + Soul; it will make you want to grab the book.

The author is also interviewed in this month’s Elle, where she was once the book editor. 

Most libraries have ordered in modest quantities (one per branch or less), with some holds.


The Piano Teacher

Lee, Janice Y. K.

  • Hardcover: $25.95; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (January 13, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0670020486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020485
  • Audio CD: Unabridged; $39.95
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio (January 13, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0143144413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143144410
  • Audio: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio (January 13, 2009)
  • Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
  • 8 Tape: 978-1-4332-5669-1 $65.95
  • Playaway:  978-1-4332-5677-6 $59.99
  • 1 MP3CD: 978-1-4332-5673-8 $29.95
  • 9 CD:  978-1-4332-5670-7 $90.00

Tiffany Baker’s debut novel, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County gets 3 of 4 stars. The People review amounts to a short description,

Consigned to a reomote farm after she’s orphaned at age 12, Truly Plaice — whose huge girth repulses her rural New york neighbors — later becomes caregiver to the town doctor’s only sons. It’s in cruel Dr. Morgan’s home that she reversers her fortunes, cleverly decoding a quilt embroidered by a 19th-century witch. Truly’s complicity in her own mistreatment is hard to synpathize with, but her newfound powers inspire hope for her future.

In Sunday’s Washington Post Book World, senior editor Ron Charles practically gushes over “this gothic tale of murder, revenge and redemption.” He says the author,

…knows how to spin an alluring plot, and she tells this emotional story in a lush voice that’s spiked with just a taste of self-pity. She has a good sense of the dark comedy of melodrama, too, even if Truly’s words of wisdom are sometimes a little too — forgive me — heavy-handed.

All libraries I checked have ordered in modest quantities (one per branch or less), with some holds.


The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Baker, Tiffany 

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 8, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0446194204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446194204
  • Audio 
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks.; Unabridged edition (January 8, 2009)
  • Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie
  • 9 Tape: 1-4332-4693-7; $65.95
  • Playaway: 1-4332-5648-6; $59.99
  • 1 MP3CD: 1-4332-4696-8; $29.95
  • 10 CD: 1-4332-4694-4; $90.00
  • Large Print, Hardcover: $32.95; 547 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press, (March 4, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1410413756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410413758

Heavy Reserve Alert

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

The next title in the Eat This, Not That franchise hit the Amazon Top Ten shortly after it was published and is now at #13. The libraries that have ordered it are showing heavy reserves (9 to 1 in one large system).


Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution 

David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books, (December 30, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1605298387
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605298382

In the Ultra series, The UltraMind Solution is now at #3 on Amazon. Most libraries aren’t showing it on their catalogs.


The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First 

Mark Hyman

  • Hardcover: $27.50; 464 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner, (December 30, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416549714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416549710