Archive for September, 2009

What’s That Title?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Get ready for scrambled title requests.

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Whatever the title, libraries that have ordered the book (it is now listed on wholesaler’s databases) are already showing holds


Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In this season of literary bounty, Julia Glass reached all the way back to January of 2008 to pick a title for her  “You Must Read This” segment on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Glass, the 2002 NBA winner in fiction for Three Junes, chose Love Warps the Mind a Little, a novel by John Dufresne, saying,

Rarely have I laughed so often while reading a book or, coming to the end, cried so hard. Love Warps the Mind a Little is a masterpiece of the genre that writers call the “funny-sad novel,” where humor both defies and gives shape to grief. It is rich entertainment, sheer lunacy, moonshine for the wounded heart.

Her comments lifted the book from #335,327 in Amazon sales rankings to #86.

Love Warps the Mind a Little: A Novel
John Dufresne
Retail Price: $13.95
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. – (2008-01-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0393330958 / 9780393330953

Two Noteworthy Debuts

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In the midst of all the big fall books, don’t overlook these two first novels, which have been gathering strong reviews of their own.

The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim has up to 30 holds in the libraries we checked, all of which have eight or fewer copies.

In the Washington Post, veteran critic Sybil Steinberg praises the book for its sensitive portrayal of Korea from 1915 to 1945, during the country’s collision with modernity under Japanese occupation, and of a woman’s experience “from idyllic childhood through harrowing adulthood,” which is based on Kim’s mother’s life. Though Steinberg finds the ending “somewhat rushed,” she says that “overall this is a satisfying excursion into empathetically rendered lives.”

The Dallas Morning News adds, “because Korean history is not well-known in the United States, Eugenia Kim’s debut novel feels particularly fresh.”

Up-and-coming book blogger S. Krishna especially enjoyed getting to know the protagonist.

“I loved how strong she was, yet how flexible she had to be in order to deal with whatever was thrown at her… I also sympathized with her plight, especially when she was at the house of her in-laws. Kim really makes the reader emotionally involved in Najin’s life.

Publisher’s Weekly‘s “Fall Firsts” feature offers some insights into author Kim’s influences and background.

The Calligrapher’s Daughter: A Novel
Eugenia Kim
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. – (2009-08-04)
ISBN / EAN: 0805089128 / 9780805089127

Also available from Tantor Media

  • CD: $79.99; ISBN 9781400143542

Downloadable audio from OverDrive


Swimming by Nicola Keegan has up to 50 holds on 20 or fewer copies in libraries we checked.

Influential Washington Post critic Ron Charles loved this novel about a Kansas girl who swims her way to the Seoul Olympics.

“Keegan has a keen sense of how different it is to be a female athletic prodigy, particularly in the 1970s. Any boy who swam like this would be courted by coaches, adored by peers. But at 6 feet — and growing! — Pip is a middle-school freak, a “universally unpopular . . . sloppy-shouldered, small-breasted, strong-jawed, tall girl” whose strict Catholic school can’t begin to nurture her.”

The New York Times Book Review also covered Swimming in a roundup, adding that Keegan is “less interested in anatomizing championship swimming than in surveying the emotional landscape of her singular participant, which she maps with gorgeous technique and a life-giving quotient of snark.”

On, it got an average rating of 3.3 and 31 reviews.

Nicola Keegan
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-07-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0307269973 / 9780307269973

Unabridged audio available from Simon & Schuster Audio

  • CD: $39.99; ISBN 9780743597579

Downloadable eBook from OverDrive


Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

We’ve written here before about the strong reviews and library holds mounting up for Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply.  The latest to fall under  the book’s spell is USA Today‘s Bob Minzesheimer, who calls it an “oddly mesmerizing suspense novel.”

It was also called a “literary thrill ride”  on the Today Show’s “Books of the Fall” segment on Saturday.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The book trailer gives a sense of the book’s atmosphere.

Await Your Reply from jamieson on Vimeo.

Await Your Reply: A Novel
Dan Chaon
Retail Price: $25.00
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books – (2009-08-25)
ISBN / EAN: 0345476026 / 9780345476029

Also available on Phoenix Audio

  • CD: $32.95; ISBN 9781597772778

Downloadable eBook and audio from OverDrive.


Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

The New Literary History of America first caught our eye when book critic Alex Beam gave it a waspish review in the Boston Globe. Beam called it “wacky” because the volume doesn’t stop at discussing the Declaration of Independence and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, but also explores an unexpected array of cultural items, including Alcoholic Anonymous’s Big Book, movies, museum exhibits and music with words in it.

Now, other reviewers have weighed in – and most are enthusiastic about the idiosyncratic 1,100 page doorstop with more than 200 essays by contemporary writers and academics, including novelist Walter Mosley writing on what it means to be “hardboiled,” novelist Mary Gaitskill on why Norman Mailer moves her, and humorist Sarah Vowell on “American Gothic” and kitsch. Reserves are even creeping up into the high teens at libraries we checked, which have around three copies each.

According to New York Times, the book’s editor at Harvard University Press told Sollers and Marcus, “This is not an encyclopedia, but a provocation,” and to fashion the book accordingly.

Wes Daniels’ lively and erudite review in the Wall Street Journal does the best job of explaining why Marcus was the right person to create this book: as the author of Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, he helped explode the boundaries that traditionally separated literature, history and popular culture and “helped change American attitudes toward popular culture even as he transformed himself from rock critic to cultural critic.”

Writing in Salon, book critic Laura Miller calls the book, “not so much a history of our literature as it is a literary version of our history.” She adds,

“Instead of feeling obligatory or rote, the entries sing with the living, breathing engagement of individual voices and points of view. In the age of Wikipedia, a reference book like this needs more than just the facts; it need to tell us what the facts mean, and “A New Literary History” does just that.

And Entertainment Weekly adds, “You could read this 1,000-plus-page book forever and never use up its revelations and its pleasures.”

A New Literary History of America (Harvard University Press Reference Library)
Retail Price: $49.95
Hardcover: 1128 pages
Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press – (2009-09-23)

Larry David As a Kid…

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

…that’s how Jeff Kinney describes Greg, the hero of The Wimpy Kid books. For the movie adaptation, currently being filmed, Kinney tells USA Today, he “pushed for him to be a likable jerk. One of my favorite things is Greg doesn’t learn his lesson all the time.”

The eleven-year-old actor who is playing the Kid has gotten the message, he says Greg “always thinks everything revolves around him. He thinks the world is just about him.”

The movie is scheduled to open April 2, 2010.


[20th Century Fox promo photo]

Making Different Cases

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Two books released on the same day, make quite different cases; the atheist Richard Dawkins makes the case for evolution in The Greatest Show in Earth, while Karen Armstrong makes The Case for God.

Armstrong’s book was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered last night; Dawkins is scheduled for the Colbert Report tomorrow night.

Both are showing heavy holds (Dawkins is running ahead of Armstrong) on light ordering.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Richard Dawkins
Retail Price: $30.00
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Free Press – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 1416594787 / 9781416594789

Unabridged Audio:
Simon & Schuster Audio; 9780743579278 $ 39.99; 9/1/09


The Case for God
Karen Armstrong
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0307269183 / 9780307269188

Unbridged Audio:

  • Random House Audio; 9780307702371; $50.00; 9/1/09
  • Books on Tape; 9780307702395; $100; 9/22/09

Large Type:

Thorndike Press; 9781410421531; $ 32.95; 11/1/09

Downloadable audio and eBook from OverDrive

Palin Memoir in Nov.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Sarah Palin’s memoir, originally scheduled for the spring, will be released early, according to the AP.

Palin completed the book in record time; a mere four months after the book deal was signed. It will now be released on Nov. 17th, in time for holiday sales.

The 400-page book is titled Going Rogue: An American Life. Harper is planning a first printing of 1.5 million copies.

Going Rogue: An American Life
Sarah Palin
Retail Price: $28.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper (2009-11-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0061939897 / 9780061939891

Coming to The Colbert Report

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This week, Colbert features several authors who are sure to set him off.


Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2009-09-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0307267148 / 9780307267146

Audio from Highbridge: ISBN: 1598879286 $ 34.95; September 10, 2009
Downloadable eBook from OverDrive

We issued a holds alert on this title a few weeks ago; holds continue to mount; as high as 148 on 11 copies.



Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor
Matthew Latimer
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Crown – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0307463729 / 9780307463722

Unabridged Audio from Books on Tape: 9781415966075; $100
Downloadable eBook and audio from OverDrive

Few libraries own this one (it seems there were no prepub reviews); where it is on order, hold ratios are heavy (59 on 13 copies in one large library)

It’s been receiving press attention in the last week:

Washington Post —  Ex-White House Aide Burns Bridges With Insidery New Book

… the former Pentagon and Bush White House speechwriter gives withering assessments of almost everyone he ever worked with — big names to little-known insiders. Suffice to say, he’ll probably never work in this town again.

The memoir, released Tuesday, made headlines last week when GQ ran an excerpt claiming George W. Bush casually dismissed Sarah Palin with “What is she, the governor of Guam?” — a slap that comes near the end of the 279-page book. But there’s so much more!

Wall Street Journal OpEd Page; When Speechwriters Kiss and Tell

As the senior staffer who brought Matt to the White House, let me start by adding some perspective. In a memoir that takes us from Matt’s childhood in Michigan through all the morons and phonies he worked for in Washington, only Mr. Rumsfeld gets the full gush. Left unmentioned is that Matt is on Mr. Rumsfeld’s payroll, working on the former Defense Secretary’s memoirs. Not that Mr. Rumsfeld need fear. If this book is any guide, an employer will read how stupid Matt really thought he was only after he’s no longer being paid.

NPR interview; Matt Latimer, Struck ‘Speech-Less’ By The D.C. Noise



The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Richard Dawkins
Retail Price: $30.00
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Free Press – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 1416594787 / 9781416594789

Holds are building on the book about the evidence for evolution.


Monday, September 28th, 2009

Introducing her interview with the co-authors of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, on Monday’s Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer said, “If you do nothing else, join us now to hear the story of a young man…who had nothing around him except a dream…”

What followed was the amazing story of William Kamkwamba, who managed to create a windmill from what he had available — tractor parts, a pair of flip flops, and a bicycle wheel — to bring electricity to his impoverished village in Malawi.

You can take a moment to watch the story here.

The authors are also scheduled to appear on the Diane Rehm Show (10/1) and CBS Sunday Morning (date not yet set), as well as live events in Chicago, Seattle (including the Public Library), San Francisco and Boston.

The book was a librarian favorite at BEA.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow – (2009-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061730327 / 9780061730320

Downloadable eBook from OverDrive.


Monday, September 28th, 2009

Holds are still heavy in many libraries on the fiction Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge, a year and a half after publication ; one library is showing 429 holds. The trade paperback is now at #15 on Amazon.

Olive Kitteridge: Fiction
Elizabeth Strout
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks – (2008-09-30)
ISBN / EAN: 0812971833 / 9780812971835

Holds on the audio and large print editions are also high.

Unabridged Audio: Brilliance; Read by Sandra Burr

  • CD 9781423350040; $97.25
  • MP3-CD; 9781423350064; $36.95

Large Print; Center Point Large Print; 9781602852815; $33.95

Downloadable eBook and audio from OverDrive.


Monday, September 28th, 2009

NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host, Scott Simon, spoke to Will Grozier, “London’s most well-read cabbie” this weekend. He recommends Booker Prize nominee, Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, calling it,

…a very well-crafted story of a dysfunctional family in the post-war austere era in Great Britain that gulls you into believing that you’re reading a historical novel until about the hundredth page, when you suddenly realize that you’ve become sucked into a suspense thriller…It’s the story of a little girl who comes back to haunt a family and progressively wreaks destruction on the family, and the thing that anchors it is the very staid and sensible doctor who’s a very logical man, fights tooth and nail against all this irrationality.

Several libraries are showing heavy holds, as high as 198 on 18 copies. It will be released in large type on October 1.

The Booker Prize winner will be announced on October 6.

The Little Stranger
Sarah Waters
Retail Price: $26.95
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover – (2009-04-30)
ISBN / EAN: 1594488800 / 9781594488801

Unabridged audio:

  • Books on Tape; Read by Simon Vance; 9781415965115; $129
  • Penguin Audio; Read by Simon Vance; 9780143144809; $39.95

Large Type; Thorndike; 9781410419590; Oct 1; $30.95

Downloadable eBook and audio available from OverDrive

Milton Meltzer Dies

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Bread Meltzer3

Milton Meltzer, who wrote an impressive number of nonfiction books for children, died a week ago Saturday. He was 94.

EarlyWord Kids contributor, Lisa Von Drasek describes his influence in the New York Times obituary,

Meltzer was one of the first in a new wave of nonfiction writers who brought lively and passionate writing, grounded in original source material, to middle-grade students and young adults, without talking down to them

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

Monday, September 28th, 2009


Launching this week (and featured on All Things Considered on Saturday), is “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.” It’s described on the Corpse’s Web site,

Ever heard of an Exquisite Corpse? It’s not what you might think. Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud.

Our “Exquisite Corpse Adventure” works this way: Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has written the first episode, which “is pieced together out of so many parts that it is not possible to describe them all, so go ahead and just start reading!” He has passed it on to a cast of celebrated writers and illustrators, who must eventually bring the story to an end.

Every two weeks, there will be a new episode and a new illustration. The story will conclude a year from now.

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a project of the Center for the Book and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.

O’Connor In the Lead

Monday, September 28th, 2009


I just voted for The Best of the NBA’s, which gave me the opportunity to see how the voting is running. So far, Flannery O’Connor is in the lead, with 34% of the votes.

The short list was selected by writers associated with the National Book Foundation. The Chicago Tribune‘s Literary Editor, Elizabeth Taylor comments, “It’s a funny list — none of the usual suspects, like Roth, Bellow, Updike. And, very interesting — of the six books, four are story collections.” Now that Oprah’s become a believer in short stories, maybe it’s a trend.