Archive for October, 2008

New NYT Bestsellers — 11/09

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Separately, we’ve listed the titles new to the 10/30 USA Today bestseller list. All those titles also appear on the  11/09 NYT  lists. Below are the debuts that appear on the NYT lists, but not on USA Today’s.

Hardcover Nonfiction

#15 Beyond Belief, by Josh Hamilton with Tim Keown, FaithWords, $23.99

Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous

#7 More Information Than You Require, by John Hodgman, Dutton, $25

#10 Spain…A Culinary Road Trip, by Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow, Ecco/HarperColins, $34.95

Companion to the PBS series


Childrens Chapter Books

#5 Free to Be…You and Me, by Marlo Thomas and Friends, Running Press, $19.95

The 35th anniversary edition, with new illustrations.

Loving Madame de Stael

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Carolyn See does it again in the Washington Post; she makes me want to read a book I might not have considered on my own:

Francine du Plessix Gray does a marvelous job in Madame de Staël, filling us in on the French Revolution as though it were (almost) easy to understand, recognizing de Staël’s faults (delusions of grandeur, mostly), while steadfastly commending her talents, her sweet nature, her generosity. I loved this book!

The publisher, Atlas & Co., an independent press dedicated to nonfiction, was founded by author James Atlas, and published their first list this Spring. Previously known as Atlas Books, the company published short biographies by well-known authors under other imprints, such as the Penguin Lives series (discontinued), and the ongoing Eminent Lives with HarperCollins, and Discoveries with WW Norton.

Most large libraries own the book in small quantities.

Madame de Staël

Francine du Plessix Gray

  • Hardcover: $24; 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atlas & Co. (October 9, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1934633178
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934633175

Crisis Reading

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Today’s Wall Street Journal rounds up reader’s recommendations on “What to Read in an Economic Crisis”

Last week, to show what people are actually reading, they pulled together a list of top sellers at Borders and Barnes and Noble on the subject.

USA Today Bestsellers, 10/30

Friday, October 31st, 2008

This week marks the 15th anniversary of USA Today‘s bestseller list. The newspaper celebrates with a roundup of the top 150 for the entire period. Books editor Bob Minzeheimer surveys the list and notes that self-help, religion and spirituality dominate but history is represented by only three titles (Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, and two titles by David McCullough, John Adams and 1776). I don’t think we have to linger on what that says about Americans.

On the weekly list, Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion went to #21 from #96 last week. No surprise;Twilight fans seem ravenous for any news on the movie (even the trailer had a debute — on Entertainment Tonight) which opens Nov. 21.

We’re happy to see that Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, currently at #19, continues to climb the list after five weeks. Checking library catalogs, significant hold lists are building in some areas.

Holds are also heavy for some other recent titles with longevity on the list:

#20 The Love DareStephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick, B&H — highest position after five weeks

#37 Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 7 weeks, down from peak of #6

#43 Cedar Cove ChristmasDebbie Macomber, Mira,  5 weeks, down from peak of #23


Below are titles new to the list:

#5 Extreme MeasuresVince Flynn,  Atria

#13 Against Medical AdviceJames Patterson,  Little, Brown — Patterson’s first nonfiction title

#23 BonesJonathan Kellerman,  Ballantine

#27 My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal JourneyJill Bolte Taylor, Viking — the author’s appearance on Oprah last week put this May title on the list.

#31 Rough WeatherRobert B. Parker,  Putnam Adult

#36 TestimonyAnita Shreve,  Little, Brown

#38 Dark SummerIris Johansen,  St. Martin’s Press

#46 The Road, Cormac McCarthy, Vintage — the release of film version was recently delayed until 2009, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt the tie-in.

#66 Star Wars: Millennium FalconJames Luceno,  Del Rey

#81 The Longest Trip HomeJohn Grogan,  William Morrow

#103 Martha Stewart’s Cooking SchoolMartha Stewart,  Clarkson Potter

#111 The Way I AmEminem,  Dutton

#123 Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying ParodyMichael Rex,  Putnam Juvenile

#134 Children of HurinJ.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien,  Mariner Books (paperback reprint; first appearance on list)

#147 Living with the DeadKelley Armstrong,  Spectra

#149 Fancy Nancy Sees StarsJane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and Ted Enik,  HarperTrophy (paperback reprint; first time on list)

‘Real Sex’ on Oprah

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

According to the publisher, Laura Berman, author of Real Sex for Real Women will be on Oprah on Monday. WorldCat shows it is owned by just a handful of libraries.

Berman was co-author of For Women Only, which is owned widely.


Real Sex for Real Women

Laura Berman

  • Hardcover: $25; 256 pages
  • Publisher: DK ADULT (October 17, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0756639808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756639808

Be Less Insular!

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

If you were stung by the permanent secretary of the Nobel Academy’s assertion that “The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining,” take heart. There are several ways that you can become less insular:

1) By osmosis

Like many insular Americans, Richard B. Woodward hadn’t heard of J.M.G Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel for Literature. until the prize was announced. So, he immersed himself in the author’s work (reading some of it in French, which many of us ignorant Americans cannot do) and reports on the experience in today’s Wall Street Journal. The result? Woodward feels some of the works are dated but all have “passages of gorgeous writing.” 

Woodward also offers some thoughtful counters to the “insular” comments, which you may want to tuck away to refute future accusations.

2) By familiarizing yourself with some contemporary international books

This week’s New York magazine offers a handy guide to five “international literary superstars.” Fortunately, all the books are available in this country (despite the fact that we “don’t translate enough”). Included in the group is J.M.G Le Clézio’s The Prospector, which is recommended as a “buy” (rather than “wait for the paperback”).

Although the book is temporarily out of stock, new printings in both paperback and hardcover are coming this month.

The Prospector

 J.M.G Le Clézio

Hardcover: $24.95; 352 pages
Publisher: David R. Godine
ISBN 0-87923-976-x
Temporarily out of stock: available November 2008

Softcover: $16.95, 352 pages
ISBN 978-1-56792-380-3
Available November 2008

3) By trying just a little (it’s good for you)

The New Yorker magazine published a story by Clézio, “The Boy Who Had Never Seen the Sea” in the Oct 27 issue (unfortunately, not available online).

Fiction editor Deborah Teisman told the AP that they wanted to get a story by Clézio into the magazine “while people still remember his name.”

Maybe we’re not so much ignorant as forgetful.

Playing with Your Food

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the cover of the NYT “Dining & Wine” section, featuring a gorgeous blue cake, radiant with electric lights built into the frosting (the electrical circuit is edible; I’m guessing the light bulbs are not).

It’s from a new book The Hungry Scientist HandbookElectric Birthday Cakes, Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies.

Fortunately, for those who want to replicate these projects, the book is a real manual, with line drawings and step-by-step instructions.


Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature the kind of pretty pictures that the NYT shows. To get the eye candy, you need to go to the hungryscientist,com, or to the sites of fellow mad food scientists,, (currently featuring a truly gross Halloween spread) and (love those edible googly eyes!).

The Hungry Scientist Handbook is owned in small quantities in all the libraries I checked, with comfortable holds to copy ratios.

The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes, Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies

  • Paperback: $16.95; 224 pages
  • Publisher: Collins Living (September 23, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061238686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061238680

Nancy Pearl on ‘Suicide Index’

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Is it difficult to make someone want to read a book on a depressing subject? Nancy Pearl’s new review of The Suicide Index is a great lesson in how to do so (click on link at top right).

Nancy says that she holds on to very few books these days, but this is one she is definitely keeping.

The book was recently chosen as a National Book Award finalist.


Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order

Joan Wickersham

  • Hardcover: $25; 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; (August 4, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0151014906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151014903

People Picks ‘The Memorist’

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

We’ve just posted a full listing of the titles covered in the new issue of People (11/10) in our Weekly Reviews.

The highlights;

In features, an excerpt from Philip Norman’s John Lennon: A Life. It’s on order in moderate quantities in most libraries, with some holds. It was reviewed last week in USA Today.

John Lennon: The Life

Philip Norman

  • Hardcover: $34.95; 864 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (October 28, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 006075401X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060754013

The People pick of the week is M.J. Rose’s The Memorist, the follow up to last year’s Reincarnationist. People says,

the novel nearly collapses from the strain of its many subplots, but Rose raises the stakes for her ensemble until events come to an excruciatingly tense crescendo…Exhausting, but entertaiing, too

The book is also an Indie Next pick for November,  

[Rose] interweaves a multiplicity of themes involving a quest to resolve issues from the past, the music of Beethoven, a secret society, and the threats of terrorism — bringing all the plot strands together for an incredible denouement.

In addition to books, M.J. Rose writes a blog on book marketing, Buzz, Balls and Hype, is the founder of “AuthorBuzz” (you’ve seen their ads on Shelf Awareness),  and teaches authors how to promote their books.

The Memorist

M.J. Rose

  • Hardcover: $24.96; 464 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (November 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0778325849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778325840

Eye on Reviews

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

We’re continuously updating the “Books in the Consumer Media” links (see listings at the right), to give you a convenient overview of titles getting attention. From the recent reviews, the following caught my eye:

Today, in the Washington Post, Patrick Anderson gives a strong thumbs up to Sean Chercover’s second thriller, Trigger City (his first, Big City, Bad Blood just won the Shamus 2008 “Best P.I. First Novel” award. It was also nominated for the Anthony Awards Best First Mystery).

It’s owned in small quantities by most libraries, with heavy reserve to copy ratios in several areas. Chercover lives in Chicago and Toronto.

Trigger City

Sean Chercover

  • Hardcover: $23.95; 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (October 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0061128694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061128691


On Friday, Carolyn See enthused in the Washington Post about Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain, a book she admits may not be to everyone’s taste:

These linked short stories take as their subject the sheer weirdness of the medical profession (mostly as it pertains to neuropsychiatric problems). They provide us with a history of mental ailments in America, how they went in and out of fashion according to the times in which we lived. They also give us a wonderful history of the city of New York, with all kinds of seamy and gruesome details thrown in. And they examine our unrelenting curiosity about what actually goes on underneath our skins.

Carolyn; your cup of tea sounds like mine.

The book is owned in very small quantities in libraries I checked, with light reserves at this point. The author, Kirsten Menger-Anderson lives in San Francisco.

Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain

Kirsten Menger-Anderson

  • Hardcover: $22.95; 290 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 9, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1565125614
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125612


The book that must hold the current record for number of reviews is the new bio. of Emily Post by Laura Claridge. Most recently the New York Times Book Review, covered it, not flatteringly; “Claridge hails from the leave-no-detail-undisturbed school of biography.”

This assessment that was shared by the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Others, such as The New Yorker, were focused on how surprisingly interesting Post’s life was, which may be why library reserve ratios are fairly heavy.

Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

Laura Claridge

  • Hardcover: $30; 544 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (October 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0375509216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375509216


Also receiving wide review coverage (overwhelmingly positive in this case), is Factory Girls by Wall Street Journal writer Leslie T. Chang. The reserves range from People, which gave it 3.5 of 4 stars (current issue; not available online) to the New Yorker which praised Chang’s “fine prose and keen sense of detail.”

The subject, as described by The New York Times, is ” the invisible foot soldiers who made China’s stirring rise possible: the country’s 130 million migrant workers.” Most reviewers also praise Chang’s depictions of her own family’s Chinese background. The Washington Post says, “That story is almost like a book within a book, and it gives a poignant perspective to her accounts of the dislocated migrant workers she gets to know. More than that, it completes her portrait of China.”

The book is owned in small quantities, with high reserves per copy in many areas. Chang lives in Colorado.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Leslie T. Chang

  • Hardcover: $26; 432 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (October 7, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0385520174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520171

Women in Horror

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Terence Rafferty’s horror column reappears in Sunday’s NYT Book Review (dated Nov. 4th, with Updike’s Widows of Eastwick on the cover). The column debuted in June, 2006 and was to appear “every few months.” It’s been quite a few months since the last one appeared, in January of this year (Rafferty has been at work on his day job; reviewing films for the NYT).

Rafferty introduced the first column with this compelling explanation of what attracted him to horror,

When I was a kid, I preferred detective stories because (I now think) they spoke to my belief that with enough experience and knowledge, I’d be able to figure out the world. Since that no longer seems realistic, I’ve become more focused on the ever expanding list of things reason will never satisfactorily answer — and that’s the territory of horror.

Maybe it’s the long absence that explains why he takes on takes on such a large subject for a single column; women horror writers, beginning with Mary Shelley. He manages to narrow the subject by dismissing several popular women writers (e.g., Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephenie Meyer and even Anne Rice) as having nothing to do with what he regards as horror; books that frighten the reader.

Of the women “doing some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre,” Rafferty includes the following (none of which would be found on the new books shelves):


Sara Gran 


  • Paperback: $6.99; 192 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (May 2, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 0425210316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425210314


Alexandra Sokoloff


  • Mass Market Paperback: 6.99; 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks; (December 2, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0312357508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312357504


Sarah Langan

 The Keeper

  • Mass Market Paperback: $6.99; 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch (August 29, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 006087290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060872908

 Sarah Langan


  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (September 25, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0060872918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060872915


Elizabeth Hand


  • Paperback: $14; 300 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books;  (April 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0156031345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031349


Elizabeth Hand


  • Paperback: $14.95; 325 pages
  • Publisher: M Press; 1st M Press Ed edition (December 27, 2006)
  • ISBN-10: 1595820965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595820969


Elizabeth Hand


  • Paperback: $6.99; 206 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Horse; (December 19, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1595820353
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595820358

Tony Hillerman Dies

Monday, October 27th, 2008

USA Today reports that Tony Hillerman died yesterday. He was 83. In addition to his bestselling Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, he wrote a memoir, Seldom Disappointed (which would make a wonderful epitaph) and books on history and the Southwest.

Update: Marilyn Stasio, the NYT BR mystery columnist has just posted an appreciation of the author.

Link of the Week

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Lisa Von Drasek: Early Word Kids

Collection development is not all buying. Time to weed and support teen craft programming!

Check out “How To Make a purse out of a stack of old books.”

CBS Sunday Morning

Monday, October 27th, 2008

The show let us down; in their weekly newsletter, they announced they were going to feature The Oxford Project on Sunday, but it looks like it got bumped.

USA Today Bestsellers, 10/23

Friday, October 24th, 2008

For some reason, the new USA Today bestseller list did not get posted until today, which is why we’re a day behind in noting the new titles to the list. In the meantime, the NYT list for the Nov 2nd issue (list dated 10/24, with sales through 10/11) is now available, so we’ll look at all of them at once.

Two more titles in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series; All Together Dead and Definitely Dead join the three titles already on both lists. Could this be a case of the books doing better than the TV series (HBO’s True Blood)?

No surprise, The Tale of Despereaux reappears on the USA Today list. As our EarlyWord contributor, Lisa Von Drasek points out, there are reasons to expect it to continue to climb list. The movie is coming at Christmas time and it was just selected for “Al’s Book Club” on the Today Show.

My favorite discovery from the lists is ABC-3D, which is #1 on the NYT Childrens Picture Book list. Below is a photo of the book, but to get a real sense of it, you must watch the video; pop-ups have just reached a new level. Only a handful of libraries seem to own it.


Marion Bataille

  • Hardcover: $19.95; 36 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; Pop edition (October 14, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1596434252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434257

New to the USA Today list (dated 10/24, sales through 10/19)

Titles in bold are either owned in small quantities, or are showing particularly heavy holds to copy ratios in the libraries I checked.

#8 The Brass Verdict, Michael Connelly,  Little, Brown — #1 on NYT Fiction list

#16 A Lion Among Men, Gregory Maguire,  William Morrow — #4 on NYT Fiction list

#22 Here’s the Story, Maureen McCormick,  William Morrow — #4 on NYT Nonfiction list

#31 Multiple Blessings, Jon and Kate Gosselin, Beth Carson, Zondervan #5 on NYT Nonfiction list – Some areas are showing over 20 holds per copy

#33 Love Your Life, Victoria Osteen, Free Press — #2 #4 on NYT Hardcover Advice list

#63 A Wallflower Christmas, Lisa Kleypas, St. Martin’s Press — #9 on NYT Fiction list

#84 The Fire, Katherine Neville, Ballantine — #12 on NYT Fiction list

#90 Welcome to the Jungle: The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher, Ardian Syaf, Del Rey/Dabel Brothers; Several libraries do not own

#96 Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion, Mark Cotta Vaz,  Little, Brown Young Readers– #2 on NYT Paperback Advice list

#102 Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin, Portfolio

#122 A Member of the Family, Cesar Millan, Melissa Jo Peltier, Harmony

#127 All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris, Ace (Pbk)

#129 The Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson, Tor Books

#132 Paper Towns, John Green, Dutton Children’s — #9 on NYT Childrens Chapter Books list

#136 Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris, Ace (Pbk)

#139 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick (Re-entry; Pbk)

Unique NYT debuts

#14 Nonfiction — The Shadow Factory,  James Bamford

#13 Trade Paper — The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga, Free Press; The new Man Booker winner; holds running ten to one in some areas.

#9 Hardcover Advice — Mother Angelica’s Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures, edited by Raymond Arroyo, Doubleday

#1 Childrens Picture Books — ABC-3D, Marion Bataille, Roaring Brook; Several libraries do not own it. The Washington Post says this book “does for paper what Claymation did for mud.” Check out the video demonstrating the book on the Roaring Press Web site. It’s also been a hit on YouTube.

#5 Childrens Picture Books — Swing! Rufus Butler Seder, Workman; Several libraries don’t own this one, although many have the earlier title, Gallop!

#10 Childrens Picture Books — Pete and Pickles, Berkeley Breathed, Philomel

#9 Childrens Chapter Books — The Kingdom on the Waves, M.T. Anderson, Candlewick