Kakutani writes “Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama.”
He says that reading gave him time to “slow down and get perspective” and provided “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes … [both] have been invaluable to me.”
While in office he turned to the works by Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. He finds knowledge in Shakespeare, the tragedies proving “foundational for me in understanding how certain patterns repeat themselves and play themselves out between human beings.”
He reads biographies of past presidents as well as SF such as The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (Macmillan/Tor Books, 2014), saying “The scope of it was immense. So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!”
It zoomed up to #32 on Amazon’s sales rankings as a result of the Presidential nod.
How did he find the time while in office? He read, says Kakutani, “for an hour or so late at night — reading that was deep and ecumenical, ranging from contemporary literary fiction (the last novel he read was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad) to classic novels to groundbreaking works of nonfiction like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction.”
Kakutani writes that he is hoping to eventually use his presidential center website “to widen the audience for good books,” something he’s already done with regular lists of book recommendations, and then encourage a public “conversation about books.” She also hints that Obama plans to write more books himself.
The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay (S&S/Gallery Books; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is the latest Costco book club pick. Published last year in hardcover, the trade paperback, with a new cover, arrives on January 3.
The January, 2017 issue of COSTCO Connection, summarizes the novel, which is set in 1919 when character Frank Turner is out of work and “his resourceful wife and four daughters take their tumbling act on the road, leaving their upstate New York home to join the vaudeville circuit.”
PW says that the women’s “lively personalities bring to life Fay’s outlandishly enjoyable premise. With humor, affection, ambition, and a talent for weaving in history, Fay brings the world of 1910s vaudeville vividly to life.”
RT writes “Readers who delight in books set around the 1920s or feature the theater will adore Fay’s spunky coming-of-age tale. Told in the alternating voices of two of the four sisters, this wonderfully evocative story charms readers.”
Fay has a direct connection, as the book video makes clear. She is the great-granddaughter of a vaudevillian herself.
The novel has largely flown under the radar since it came out in hardback last June and is the first work of historical fiction from an author better known for her women’s fiction titles such as The Shortest Way Home (PRH/Penguin, 2012).
The Australian-born author of the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire (Macmillan/Picador, orig. pub. date 2003) and the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning The Transit of Venus (PRH/Penguin, orig. pub. date 1980), Shirley Hazzard, has died at age 85.
The AP writes she “wrote of love affairs disrupted and intensified by age, distance and war … of strained and cold relationships and the inevitable search for outside comfort … She was a writer of pre-digital tastes who composed on a yellow legal pad and had no interest in computers or even an answering machine. Her novels, too, had a vintage wealth of detail and introspection that led to comparisons to Henry James.”
The first story she submitted to The New Yorker, “Woollahra Road,” was “fished from the slush pile by the fiction editor William Maxwell and published in 1961,” says the NYT.
The publisher describes the novel as “A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy.”
Holds lists are active at every library we checked some within a 3:1 ratio and others well over, even triggering re-ordering.
This is not the first time a somewhat forgotten work by a highly regarded author has found new readers. After 9/11, E.B. White’s Here is New York, written in 1948, became so popular the publisher issued a reprint.
Revelist says “the show doesn’t have much of a presence at the convention beyond these cryptic bathroom signs. But make no mistake, this is a brilliant way to spread the show’s message directly to its target audience — and in a space that, despite the best efforts of geeky women and activists alike, is still considered very male-dominated.”
The book is “a high class gossip column … a literary gossip column … [Gottlieb] knew everyone and he worked with everyone,” she says, but it is not a book that settles scores and the author comes across as someone you’d like to know.
The audio is not available for download, but can be heard here.
Focusing on Semple’s process, the interview amounts to a brief writing workshop, sprinkled with insights into the new book. She says that rhythm is important to her writing, something she admires in Philip Roth, who she calls “the king of the change up.”
Talking about favorite recent books, she points to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (HarperCollins/Ecco), recently released in a tie-in edition in anticipation of the upcoming film.
From awards contenders to big cookbooks, a raft of picks by librarians and booksellers, and some major tie-ins, it’s one of the heaviest publishing weeks we’ve seen in a while (James Patterson helps by releasing three new titles).
James Patterson has figured out multiple ways to ensure that he continues to publish more books than any other author. In addition to two new titles in his BookShots series arriving on Tuesday, he releases the trade paperback of a title previously only published in the U.K. and Australia. Written with Australian author Kathryn Fox, it is titled Missing(Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). Part of the Private series, which features an international detective agency with offices in different cities, it was originally published as Private Sydney.
One of the two BookShots titles coming next week is by Hilary Liftin, whose novel Movie Stargot attention last year for its veiled references to the Holmes/Cruise marriage. This one, titled $10,000,000 Marriage Proposal(Hachette/BookShots; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Smaple) is about a billionaire who doesn’t want to waste time dating, so he advertises he is willing to pay for the right candidate. The second, French Kiss, Richard DiLallo (Hachette/BookShots; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), introduces a new character, Detective Luc Moncrief, a French officer working in the NYPD. As we noted recently, several new titles have been announced in the BookShots series. See our downloadable spreadsheet, BookShots Oct, 2016 thru May, 2017.
Another old reliable, but one who publishes on the relatively leisurely schedule of one title a year, Nicholas Sparks releases his twentieth, Two by Two (Hachette/Grand Central; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample). Known for his weepy romances, Sparks this time turns to a relationship between a father and daughter. It gets a starred review from Booklist.
Parents, put away Go the Fuck to Sleep. Arriving next week is a follow-up to the book that claimed to guarantee a visit from the Sandman, The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep. The new title features a different animal, perhaps reflecting the political season, The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep: A New Way of Getting Children to Sleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin and illustrated by Sydney Hanson (PRH/Crown Books for Young Readers; Listening Library).
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 9/5/16.
The upcoming season is heralded with the first winter holiday-themed novels (Patterson, of course, is doing one too, but he’s holding that one off until December). One of the pioneers of the genre, Debbie Macomber, has served as the source for many successful Hallmark Christmas movies, including last year’s Dashing Through the Snow. Her new book is Twelve Days of Christmas (PRH/Ballantine; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample). Elin Hilderbrand, known for her summery Nantucket covers, releases the third in her series featuring a different season on the same island, Winter Storms (Hachette/Little,Brown; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).
At just 33, Oliver is #23 on The Hollywood Reporter‘s just-released list of the 25 Most Powerful Authors in Hollywood, based largely on the buzz for the adaptation of her first book, Before I Fall, which arrives in April. This new book approaches a dystopian story in an unusual way, as two novels in one, from two different characters’ points of view (thus the two cover, front and back). In their starred review Kirkus calls it “A reading experience not to be missed — or forgotten” and Booklist predicts, “Teens will line up for this one.”
Several titles from the longlists for the National Book Awards and the Carnegie Medal arrive next week:
A debut, this is one of People‘s three book picks for the week (the others are Bruce Springsteen’s memoir and Maria Semple’s new book, a Peer Pick, below). People writes: “Four girls named Guinevere try to escape the convent of the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration by hiding in a parade float … A wacky, diverting tale.” It received stars from Library Journal and Booklist.
“Readers fortunate enough to meet Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an old ex-soldier who makes a living reading the news to townspeople in 1870s Texas, and Joanna, the Indian captive he is charged with returning to her relatives, will not soon forget them. Everything, from the vividly realized Texas frontier setting to the characters is beautifully crafted, right up to the moving conclusion. Both the Captain and Joanna have very distinctive voices. Wonderful storytelling.” — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
“I went into Today Will Be Different expecting the mockery of Seattle’s ridiculous idiosyncrasies What I got was different, but just as good. Eleanor is sympathetic and the story revolves around family conflicts and disappointments, as well as Eleanor’s awareness of the inevitability of aging and its effects on herself and marriage. Her relationships with those closest to her are also the ones with the most secrets, and with the potential for the most harm and the most hope. I’d recommend this to readers who love family-centric women’s fiction with a sharp eye for the quirks of marriage and parenting.” — Jessica Werner, The Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA
Additional Buzz: It is a People pick, “Eleanor Flood knows her ‘white-people problems’ aren’t dire, but they irritate her anyway. Then every corner of life implodes the same day, exposing her secrets to the world — and herself. Readers who devoured Where’d You Go, Bernadette? will love Eleanor’s wry voice and dark humor.” It is also an Indie Next selection and made a number of Fall Reading lists, including those by Amazon’s Editors, BuzzFeed,Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine, and People.
“Crosstalk is the perfect romantic comedy for the digital age. Briddey works for a cell phone provider that is constantly searching for the next great way to help people “connect” – nevermind that she is already inundated by calls, texts, social media, and unannounced visits from her colleagues, friends, and nosy family. When she undergoes a procedure to telepathically sense the emotions of her seemingly perfect boyfriend, things go awry and she ends up connected to the wrong person. A perfect screwball comedy from a master writer!” — Patricia Kline-Millard, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH
Additional Buzz: It is among io9‘s Fall Reading suggestions.
“A young couple find themselves caught in a web of magic and horror. Kay is an acrobat and goes missing. Her husband cannot believe that she has disappeared and searches the city in vain all the while not guessing that she has been spirited away by a puppet master in the toy shop that fascinated her during their walks. Kay begins life anew as a puppet and soon begins to befriend the other puppets at night when they come to life. Will the evil that has charmed Kay be stronger than her husband’s love? Donohue writes a frightening account reminiscent of Grimm’s fairy tales and it will keep you up reading til dawn.” — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
“The narrative of Aurora Teagarden was thought to be over. In a surprising, but welcome return, All the Little Liars picks up right where we left off with Roe. Newly remarried, Roe is dealing with a plethora of issues. With a missing brother and troublesome father in town, Roe is searching for answers. Pregnancy, family problems, and more make for a suspenseful, fast, and comforting read. Harris’ writing shines best when she portrays the minutiae of small-town lives and the inner workings of families, friends, and relationships. I can’t wait for the next book.” — Mei-Ling Thomas, Rochester Hills Public Library, Rochester, MI
“Aislinn Murray is beautiful, lives in a picture-perfect cottage, and has a boy she’s crazy about. Antoinette Conway is a tough member of the Dublin Murder Squad who knows no one likes her and says she doesn’t care. When Aislinn is murdered, Conway and her partner Steve Moran take the case and start listening to all the stories about Aislinn. Which ones are true? Was she in love and with whom? Are the stories we tell ourselves and others anywhere near the truth? Great read from Tana French.” — Kathryn Hassert, Chester County Library, Exton, PA
“Simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and earnest, The Wangs vs. the World is one hell of a ride. Literally. Join the Wang family patriarch, Charles, as he and his family drive across the country from Los Angeles to New York in shame after his cosmetic company is destroyed by a doomed business investment. Homeless, penniless, yet still fiercely proud, Charles sets out to reunite his children and reclaim the ancestral land of the Wangs from the Chinese Communists. A hilarious, moving, and rollicking tale of family, ancestry, and a worn-out Mercedes station wagon, The Wangs vs. the World is not to be missed!” —Michelle Chen, WORD, Brooklyn, NY
“All That Man Is was recently longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and with good reason. The novel’s parade of characters, ranging from teenagers to a man in his twilight years, when taken as a whole, represents an ‘everyman’ in whom readers can easily see pieces of themselves. With prose reminiscent of Amis, Kundera, and Nabokov, Szalay offers a collection of related stories that speak to the mundane qualities of modern life with a sympathetic tone, a reflection of our struggle to move forward in a world increasingly unfamiliar to most of us, but not without hope.” —Tom Beans, Dudley’s Bookshop Café, Bend, OR
Additional Buzz: As mentioned in the annotation, it is a Man Booker Longlist title. It also made the Fall Reading list of New York Magazine.
“Cruel Beautiful World is a masterful family drama about sisterhood, love, and the dangers of entering the adult world. Lucy is sure that she and her high school teacher are in love. She agrees to run away with William to a rural paradise where they can be together safely until she turns 18. Lucy, however, gets more than she bargained for when her life turns into one of isolation and deprivation. Her sister, Charlotte, never gives up hope that Lucy will return. Their shocking reunion will leave readers riveted to the page and these characters will haunt readers long after the book is finished.” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
Marking Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut comes this adaptation of Philip Roth’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1997 novel, American Pastoral. McGregor stars as well, alongside Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly, Rupert Evans and Valorie Curry.
Unfortunately, it is not getting a positive reception. IndieWire‘s critical roundup reports “Critics have described the film as yet another ill-advised Roth adaptation and more proof that the writer’s work doesn’t translate well to the screen, save for James Schamus’ Indignation released earlier this year.”
Variety adds to the negative take, writing “Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut is as flat and strangled as Philip Roth’s novel is furious and expansive.”
A Monster Calls has been pushed back to give
it a wider running lane but a new tie-in comes out this week. As we noted earlier, it is a “Special Collector’s Edition” that, in addition to the original illustrated YA novel, includes new essays by author Patrick Ness, who worked on the screenplay, previously unpublished early sketches by illustrator Jim Kay, and interviews with the director, cast, and crew.
There is also a new tie-in for Star Wars, The Amazing Book of Star Wars, Elizabeth Dowsett (PRH/DK Children). The image heavy book, designed to introduce very young readers to the franchise, spans a number of Star Wars films.
Woman of God, James Patterson, Maxine Paetro, (Hachette/Little, Brown; Hachette Audio; Hachette Large Print).
The story as described by Kirkus, that sounds very different for Patterson and Paetro, about the “life of physician-turned-priest” who manages to be accepted by the Catholic Church. Kirkus concludes that it is “A high-concept pitch, a potboiler on the page, and a protagonist to cheer for, but the authors do not quite tie it all together.”
Also, this week, ads are promoting the YA title, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, published last week, that feature an arresting quote from Patterson, “The book I wish I had written.” He may not have written it, but he came close. It is published under the “James Patterson Presents” line, from his Hachette kids young readers imprint, Jimmy Patterson.
The Fever Code (Maze Runner, Book Five; Prequel), James Dasher, (RH/Delacorte; Listening Library).
Although it’s Book Five, this is billed as the prequel to the popular YA series. Meanwhile, the future of the Maze Runner series of movies is in doubt, after the injury on set of star, Dylan O’Brien, during the filming of the second movie.
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen, (S&S; S&S Audio; PRH/Vintage Espanol).
Surprisingly, a raft of advance media attention (including the cover of Vanity Fair‘s October issue, a profile on the most recent CBS Sunday Morning, and listed on nearly every fall reading preview) has not brought heavy holds for Springsteen’s autobiography. Reviewed by NPR earlier this week, it also gets the cover of this week’s New York Times Book Review, and is People‘s “Book of the Week,” saying, “It’s like sitting next to Springsteen in the campfire light hearing his life story — you’ll be begging or another exhilarating refrain.” Accompanying the publication is the release of a companion album, titled Chapter and Verse.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton (Workman; OverDrive Sample).
Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto, Tilar J. Mazzeo (S&S/Gallery Books; S&S Audio; OverDrive Sample).
“There have been accounts of men who helped Jews and other victims of the Nazi regime escape the clutches of genocidal pogroms and mass slaughter, but this story is about a woman who courageously smuggled thousands of children to safety. Granted unusual access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist, Irena Sendler used her position to rescue children by various means, sometimes right under the noses of guards. As compelling as any great fiction thriller, Irena’s story will remain with the reader for a long time to come.” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA
“This riveting psychological novel delves into the lives of Donald and Vivian, a married couple whose stability is threatened and ultimately undermined when Vivian, whose former life as an aspiring equestrian was cut short, meets Mercury, a magnificent horse with a tragic history. What unfolds may seem like destiny to Vivian, but to Donald, a staid and deliberate ophthalmologist still mourning the death of his beloved father, it tests everything he’s ever known, including his faculty for navigating the world. A truly remarkable study of human nature and the blindspots that hinder us all.” —Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA
But the film did not face controversy at either the Toronto International Film Festival or its L.A. premiere. As a result, Deadline wrote, “Perhaps audiences – and Oscar voters – will decide that it should be judged on its own merits.”
Based on the story of Nat Turner, the movie was co-written and directed by Nate Parker, who stars in the role of Turner. The film also stars Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Boone Junior, Penelope Ann Miller, and Gabrielle Union. It opens nationwide on 10/7/16.
Poldark’s Cornwall, Winston Graham (IPG/Pan Macmillan). Not a direct tie-in but for those interested in Poldark’s setting. The book offers images of Cornwall’s rugged beauty and picturesque landscape.
Directed by Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn (both of whom worked on various Shrek movies), the animated movies features the voices of Anna Kendrick, Zooey Deschanel, James Corden, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, and Gwen Stefani.
The news proceeded the release of the first trailer for the film Fifty Shades Darker, both events causing the trilogy to rise on Amazon (jumping from #1,520 to #226) and the first Christian point of view book, Grey, to jump from #843 to #378. That pales next to the 3.7 million views the trailer had already received on YouTube.
Variety says that the second film as well as the upcoming third film of the trilogy (which will be shot back-to-back) will be directed by James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, House of Cards). He replaces Sam Taylor-Johnson with whom James clashed during the filming of the first movie.
The screenplays for the final two films will be written by E. L. James’ husband, Niall Leonard.
Fifty Shades Darker is scheduled for release on Feb. 10, 2017. A tie-in edition has been announced:
Mezrich, known for his juicy, edgy, social science books such as Bringing Down the House(adapted as the 2008 movie 21) and The Accidental Billionaires (adapted as the 2010 movie The Social Network) turns away from accounts of college kids making money to focus his attention on a very different type of speculation, whether extraterrestrials exist and the story of a real life alien hunter.
In the interview with CBS, Mezrich says he went into the project as a non-believer, but in the course of investigating the tales of unexplained happenings along what is essential the UFO Highway (a 3,000 mile strip across the middle of the country), he now knows “that at least once something happened that still has not been explained” and that “the impediments to believing have dissapeared.”
He says there is a “enormous amount of evidence” and he hopes readers will consider it.
Like his previous books, this one is already in the process of being adapted into a movie.
Elena Ferrante suggests fellow Italian writer, Elsa Morante, particularly her novel History (translated by William Weaver (Steerforth; OverDrive Sample; Feb. 2000) of which she says “One reads with one’s heart in one’s throat.”
Emily St. John Mandel offers J.M. Ledgard’s novel Submergence (Consortium/Coffee House; OverDrive Sample; Mar. 2013) saying it is a “masterpiece” that “both sings with tension and radiates immense humanity and tenderness.”
Ann Patchett, who, as a bookseller as well as author and, has experience advising readers, suggests Geoffrey Wolff’s “brilliant essay collection and memoir,” A Day at the Beach (PRH/Vintage; OverDrive Sample; Nov. 2013). She says it “offers up tales of daring along with expansive thinking, the bright light of humor, and the dark night of the soul, and delivers it all in writing sharp enough to cut your fingers on.”
Ann Beattie, Amy Bloom, Roxane Gay, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jamaica Kincaid, Miranda July, Lorrie Moore, Mary Roach, Karen Russell, Rebecca Stead, Meg Wolitzer, and Jacqueline Woodson, round out the authors making suggestions.