Archive for November, 2009

The Next Big YA Thing

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - Fallen Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - Leviathan Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - Vampire Academy

Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - The Forest of Hands & Teeth Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - The Vampire Diaries Article - Donnelly Next Twilight - The Hunger Games

It’s so human to expect that the next big thing will be similar to the last big thing.

The book section of the Daily Beast tries to figure out what will be the next big YA series, suggesting a half dozen titles that may make it (actually, some are already fixtures on the NYT Children’s bestseller list). Most of the suggestions are of the paranormal persuasion.

Our bet is that something entirely new will come along. We just hope that the next big thing is a book.

Coming to the Daily Show

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Jon Stewart returns from the break with new author interviews:

Wednesday, Dec. 2

Comeback 2.0: Up Close and Personal
Lance Armstrong
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Touchstone – (2009-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1439173141 / 9781439173145

Read an Excerpt

Thursday, Dec. 3

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
Michael Specter
Retail Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2009-10-29)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202303 / 9781594202308

Spector recently appeared on a CBS Sunday Morning feature about the safety of flu vaccine. He’s also been interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday and the book was reviewed in the New York Times as well as in the NYT Book Review. Holds continue to be heavy in many libraries.

Gaiman & Sedaris; Audio Fans

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Audiobook sales have dropped this year. On NPR’s Morning Edition today, Neil Gaiman gave the love to the format, supported by David Sedaris also calls himself a “tapeworm,” a habit fostered by his library, and Martin Jarvis, an audiobook reader as well as producer.

It’s worth listening to just to hear all of those great voices.

TR in a Different Light

Monday, November 30th, 2009

On NYT reviewer Janet Maslin’s list of the top ten books of 2009 is The Imperial Cruise, a title about Theodore Roosevelt that PW called “stridently disapproving.” In her review, Maslin calls it an “incendiary new book” that “may at times be overly eager to connect historical dots, but … also produces graphic, shocking evidence of the attitudes that [it] describes.”

The incendiary part is borne out by USA Today‘s review which takes issue with most of the book’s assertions.

Bradley, author of the bestselling Flags of Our Fathers, looked into what led  the US to the war in the Pacific. His research brought him to Roosevelt and a secret treaty with Japan. The book, titled The Imperial Cruise is about a secret diplomatic mission that resulted in that agreement.

The book is rising on Amazon, now at #102. Libraries, however, are showing modest holds.

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War
James Bradley
Retail Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2009-11-24)
ISBN / EAN: 0316008958 / 9780316008952

Hachette Audio; 9781600243950; $39.98
Large Print; Little, Brown; 9780316024617; Hdbk; $31.99

What’s a Picture Worth?

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Thanks to a feature on CBS Sunday Morning, The National Geographic Image Collection, a book of highlights from the National Geographic’s enormous archive, made a precipitous leap from #2,652 on Amazon to #12.

The video is not currently available on the CBS site, but this gives an idea of the book’s appeal:


National Geographic Image Collection
National Geographic, Michelle Anne Delaney, Maura Mulvihill
Retail Price: $50.00
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Focal Point – (2009-10-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1426205031 / 9781426205033

Best Books — The Daily NYT and The NYT BR

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

The NY Times Book Review editors just released their selections of the 100 Notable Books of 2009 (they will appear in print in the Dec. 6 print issue). Meanwhile, their colleagues, the three critics for the daily NYT each named their top ten.

The NYT reviewers see the year in publishing as having been,

…a bit of an off year, and the must-read milestones have been rare. There are fewer towering histories and biographies than usual. There’s more attention to a subject of newly urgent interest: finance.

Despite the “urgent interest” in finance, the only title on the subject that appears on any of the three reviewers’ lists is Liaquat Ahamed’s Lords of Finance. In fact, only two other titles have appeared on any of the lists so far; Carmen Reinhart’s This Time is Different and Justin Fox’s The Myth of the Rational Market.

Other critics do not agree that this has been an off year for biographies; the National Book Award winner for nonfiction was T.J. Sitles’s First Tycoon. Twenty six biographies have appeared on the best lists that have appeared so far, with Blake Bailey’s Cheever appearing on three of them (for a spreadsheet of the 396 titles on lists to date, click on our Bests — All Adult Titles — Spreadsheet).

NYT Book Review‘s editors see a “heartening development,” in the year’s books,

…the resurgence of the short story — and of the short-story writer. Twelve collections made our fiction list, and four biographies of short-story masters are on the nonfiction list.

Fittingly, the cover of the Book Review features Alice Munro’s short stories, Too Much Happiness.

Other lists have been weighted less towards short stories, but consensus is developing for Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, which appears on both the Book Review‘s list and three others so far (for a list of all the titles that have been on three lists or more, check our Bests — Titles Selected by Three or More — Spreadsheet.)

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
Wells Tower
Retail Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux – (2009-03-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0374292191 / 9780374292195

Since PW opened the conversation about the number of women on bests lists (in an odd way, by announcing there are NO women in their Top Ten), we checked to see how many women authors appeared on the new lists (for a list of all the women writers who have appeared on all the lists to date, click on our Bests — Women Authors).

Out of 100 on the NYT BR list, 32 are by women, or 32%. Of the total 30 titles chosen by the daily NYT reviewers, just 8 are by women, or 27%.

Below is an analysis of the percentage of women appearing on lists that have been published so far, from highest to lowest.

  • Library Journal Genre Fiction — 33 titles — 67% women
  • PW Best Childrens Books — 30 titles — 63.33% women
  • National Book Award Finalists — 20 titles — 45% women — None of the winners are women
  • Library Journal Best How-to — 23 titles — 39% women
  • Atlantic Books of the Year — Top Five and Runners Up — 25 in total — 36% women
  • Library Journal Best Books — 31 titles — 35% women
  • NYT BR Notables — 100 titles — 32% women
  • Amazon Top Ten Picture Books, Top Ten Middle Readers and Top Ten Teen — 30% women
  • PW Best Books — 100 titles — 30% women — None of the Top Ten are women
  • NYT Editors –Garner, Kakutani, Maslin — 30 titles total — 27% women
  • Amazon Top 100 Editors Picks — 25% women; without YA and children’s titles, 20% women

Of the 28 titles that were picked by 3 or more of the above, seven are by women (25%):

  • Byatt, A.S., Children’s Book — AZ #88, Atlantic Top Five, LJ Best Books
  • Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall — AZ #3, Atlantic Runner Up, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable
  • Moore, Lorrie,  Gate at the Stairs — AZ #12, NYT BR Notable, NYT Kakutani
  • Munro, Alice,  Too Much Happiness — AZ #30, Atlantic Runners Up, NYT BR Notable
  • Phillips, Jayne Anne, Lark and TermitePW,  NBA Fiction Finalist, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable, NYT Kakutani
  • Reichl, Ruth, Gourmet Today — AZ #11, PW, LJ How-To
  • Walbert, Kate,  Short History of Women — AZ #45, LJ Best Books, NYT BR Notable

There should be more national best book lists coming, from the Washington Post and the L.A. Times (we’re hoping their reduced book sections will not prevent them from choosing the year’s bests), as well as Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, Horn Book and SLJ.

NPR’s Best Cookbooks

Friday, November 27th, 2009

NPR kicks off their listing of the best books of the year, appropriately for the season, with their picks of the 10 best cookbooks.

All the titles are owned by most libraries. NPR couldn’t resist this mouth watering cover and neither can we:

Rose’s Heavenly Cakes
Rose Levy Beranbaum
Retail Price: $39.95
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Wiley – (2009-09-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0471781738 / 9780471781738

Big Titles; Week of 11/30

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Sue Grafton’s U is for Undertow is the clear leader in the number of hold per copy for titles arriving next week, with nearly 4 times the number than the next-highest title, J. A. Jance’s Trial by Fire. People gives it 4 of 4 stars, saying, “expect to be spellbound.”

We’re surprised that Greg Mortenson’s Stones into Schools, the follow-up to his continuing bestseller, Three Cups of Tea (at #3 on the NYT Paperback Nonfiction list after 147 weeks) is showing less than 2 holds per copy on modest ordering. The Amazon rankings show more interest, where Stones into Schools is at #50.

Nonfiction, 12/1

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
Julie Powell
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2009-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0316003360 / 9780316003360

Hachette Audio; 9781600245695; $29.98
Large Print; 9780316053822; pbk; $24.99
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive

You’d think the success of the movie based partly on Julie Powell’s previous title, Julie & Julia would be the perfect setup for her second memoir, Cleaving, but library holds are fewer than two per copy on cautious ordering.

Originally timed to coincide with the release of the movie, the publisher suddenly decided to hold off until December, a move The New York Observer regarded with deep suspicion. Their take was that the filmmakers feared the story of Julie’s “insane, irresistible love affair with one of her close friends,” would turn off potential audiences (right! We only wish that books had such power over movies). The more likely story is that the publisher didn’t want it to compete with their two Julie & Julia tie-in editions.

Will fans of the Julie in Julie & Julia, the book or the movie, be willing to accept a darker Julie who is hurtful to her “sainted” husband Eric? How interested will they be with her turning from an obsession with Mastering the Art of French Cooking to an obsession with mastering the art of blood-and-guts butchery?

In an interview in USA Today, Powell herself predicts that people are “going to totally react very negatively. They’ll find me reprehensible. But to counterbalance the negativism, I hope there will be people who empathize with my experience, who maybe feel the book addresses things they wish they could talk about more.”

Entertainment Weekly gives Cleaving a B -, with kudos for the “gutsy, profane, energetic writer we first met mastering a stew from a recipe,” but put off by the fact that “…here, she’s in a stew of her own making, with ingredients that leave a strange taste.”

Elle magazine is less grudging,

Julie Powell’s follow-up to Julie & Julia paints a visceral, compulsively readable picture of what it looks like when you fully indulge with a fantasy object who isn’t your spouse…. She’s one of those narcissists who can’t be truly alone with herself, and while this fear drives her manic activities and her highly engaging accounts of them, it’s also what keeps a very good memoir from being great…Still, Powell has honed her writing chops along with her culinary skills, and her extended metaphor is dead on: how we can systematically hack each other apart without ever getting to the heart of our desires.”

We’ve included a link to a sizable portion of excerpts provided by the publisher; they prove that Powell has indeed honed her writing skills. Vegetarians be forewarned; there are many scenes of butchery.

Nonfiction, 12/1; continued

Mortenson, Greg,  Stones Into Schools, Viking

Michael F. Roizen, YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner’s Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy, Free Press/S&S

Armstrong, Lance, Comeback 2.0, S&S — Armstrong will appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on 12/2.

Fiction, 12/1

Dunne, Dominick Too Much Money, Crown/Random House

Berry, Steve The Paris Vendetta, Ballantine/Random House

Jance, J.A. Trial by Fire, S&S

Zane, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Atria

Grafton, Sue U is for Undertow, Putnam

More Attention for THE FAMILY

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Jeff Sharlet returned to NPR‘s Fresh Air to talk to Terry Gross about the secretive fundamentalist group “The Family,” which counts among its members influential congressmen and senators. Recent news stories, including those about family members John Ensign’s and Mark Sanford’s sex scandals, have brought new attention to the group.

Sharlet’s book, The Family, came out in hardcover last year; the paperback was released in May.

Holds are heavy in many libraries.

The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power
Jeff Sharlet
Retail Price: $15.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial – (2009-06-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0060560053 / 9780060560058

Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive.

Even MORE on Sarah Palin

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Going Rogue does not have an index, a fact widely reported in the press. Satirist Christopher Buckley provides one (who knew an index could be funny?) in the Daily Beast.

With all the attention the book has received in the press (try Googling “Tired of Palin”), holds per copy have doubled at the libraries we checked since the book was released.

Going Rogue: An American Life
Sarah Palin
Retail Price: $28.99
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins – (2009-11-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0061939897 / 9780061939891

HarperAudio; Abridged; 9780061990731; $29.99; 11/24
HarperLuxe; pbk; $28.99; 11/24

Al Roker, Author

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

It seems a famous name on the cover doesn’t always win over readers.

Al Roker, book lover and Today Show‘s seemingly irrepressible weatherperson, releases his first work of adult fiction today; The Morning Show Murders. Library users are not jumping on it; holds are light. Selectors have also been cautious; the systems we checked ordered just one per large branch, despite strong prepub reviews. PW called it “solid and exciting”; Kirkus, “a crisp puzzler”; Booklist reveals a bit of anti-celebrity prejudice by calling it “surprisingly engaging.”

Of course, Roker can expect to get more publicity than your average first-time mystery author. He is interviewed in USA Today, in a story that gives more ink to how various Today Show staffers feel about the book (even though none of them have read it yet), than the book itself.

He is also featured on the Today Show, but most of the segment is taken up by an odd, not particularly funny, fake book trailer.

Fortunately, mystery maven Sarah Weinman treats Roker like an author in The Daily Beast, delving in to his writing process with coauthor Dick Lochte and the book’s tone (unlike Roker’s on-air personality, his book has its dark moments).

The main character, Billy Blessing, is a chef and restaurant owner, who also does segments on a TV morning show and has just begun filming a reality show. There’s no love lost between Blessing and the show’s executive producer, who inconveniently dies after eating poisoned coq au vin in Blessing’s restaurant.

The book is the first of a planned series. Roker and his coauthor are working on the second one, which is scheduled for release in fall 2010.

The Morning Show Murders
Al Roker, Dick Lochte
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press – (2009-11-24)
ISBN / EAN: 038534368X / 9780385343688

Random House Audio; 9780307577375; $35


Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

If one of the functions of book awards is to bring attention to books that may not have received it otherwise, then the National Book Awards achieved that goal with one of the nonfiction nominees, The Poison King. In the Washington Post, Carolyn See reviewed it, saying,

I read this biography as a layperson, not a scholar, but I can say without reservation that it’s a wonderful reading experience, as bracing as a tonic, the perfect holiday gift for adventure-loving men and women…it’s drenched in imaginative violence and disaster, but it also wears the blameless vestments of culture and antiquity.

Put that in your nonfiction readers advisory bag.

The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy
Adrienne Mayor
Retail Price: $29.95
Hardcover: 472 pages
Publisher: Princeton University Press – (2009-10-18)
ISBN / EAN: 0691126836 / 9780691126838

What Would You Suggest?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I had an interesting reference question today from a school administrator of an inner city school with a high percentage of ESL families.

A generous donor is going to buy a book for every child in the school, K through 5th grade, to take home to keep. The donor wants the books to be hardcovers and something they will treasure for years and perhaps read to their own children in the future. What books would I suggest?

After considering beautifully illustrated classics like Alice in Wonderland or modern classics like Because of Winn Dixie, I thought about what I like to give kids that I don’t know. I often choose poetry, because it is something one can revisit, share and revel in. I also wanted to choose books that would be beautiful to hold.

Here’s what I suggested for each grade. What would you pick?


Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
Retail Price: $21.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2007-02-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0763631418 / 9780763631413

First Grade

Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies
Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2009-10-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0316040495 / 9780316040495

Second Grade

omnibeasts: animal poems and paintings
Douglas Florian
Retail Price: $18.00
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books – (2004-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0152050388 / 9780152050382

Third Grade

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
Retail Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 248 pages
Publisher: Random House – (1983-09-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0394850106 / 9780394850108

Fourth Grade

Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) (Read & Hear)
Retail Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks MediaFusion – (2005-10-18)
ISBN / EAN: 1402203292 / 9781402203299

Fifth Grade

Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (A Poetry Speaks Experience)
Nikki Giovanni
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky – (2008-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1402210485 / 9781402210488

Conflict Over Israeli Bestseller

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The NYT reviews a book that has been a best seller in Israel and France and was recently released in English here and in the UK, where it has sparked heated debate. In The Invention of the Jewish People, by Shlomo Sand, a professor at Tel Aviv University, says the NYT, “resurrects a theory first raised by 19th-century historians, that the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, to whom 90 percent of American Jews trace their roots, are descended from the Khazars, a Turkic people who apparently converted to Judaism…”

The NYT quotes Michael Terry, head of NYPL’s Jewish Division, who says experts have since discredited this theory.

The historian Simon Schama recently reviewed the book in the Financial Times, saying it “…relies on twists of historical logic and strategic evasions of modern research.”

It appears that it was not reviewed prepub; few libraries own it.

The Invention of the Jewish People
Shlomo Sand
Retail Price: $34.95
Hardcover: 332 pages
Publisher: Verso – (2009-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1844674223 / 9781844674220

‘Tis the Season

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Sunday’s NYT features their “Holiday Gift Guide,” which includes a “Books” section (Art and Architecture, Books About Antiques, Gift Books and, for the first time Graphic Novels — another indicator that the genre is now mainstream). Selected New Cookbooks are in the “Dining & Home” section.

In the “Electronics” section, personal tech columnist David Pogue looks at eBooks. He also discusses them with fellow NYT columnist David Carr (also author of  Night of the Gun) at NYPL’s 42nd street library (Carr knows that you can borrow eBooks from the library!)

[Note: Pogue refers to the Sony PRS700, which had a backlight. The new PRS600 does not have the backlight. We’re not sure why he didn’t mention Barnes & Noble’s Nook; perhaps because it is sold out until after the holidays.]