New Title Radar — Week of 9/26

This week brings an unusual number of big trade paperback releases, the book club format of choice, so we have listed them under their own heading.

Watch List

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (Random House; Audio, Random House Audio and Books on Tape; Large Print, Random House; Audio currently on OverDrive, eBooks available soon) is the author’s third novel. Anticipation is high, as indicated by the fact that it is already reviewed in the NYT and Entertainment Weekly.


Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks, (Ecco; HarperAudio; Large Type, HarperLuxe; ePub, OverDrive); This one comes with Nora’s personal recommendation, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been so involved with a book’s characters that at one point, I shouted, ‘No, don’t!'” About a young man forced into homelessness after being convicted as a sex offender, it’s a book that people will be talking about. Booklist starred it, but Publishers Weekly found it, “Bloated and remarkably repetitive, this is more a collection of ideas and emblems than a novel.”

River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh (FSG; Audio, Brilliance and on OverDrive) is the second volume of a trilogy about the Opium Wars in China that began with the 2008 Booker short listed Sea of PoppiesPublishers Weekly warns, “This crowded novel is in turn confusing and exhilarating, crammed with chaotic period detail and pidgin languages.”

Trade Paperback Originals

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore: A Novel by Stella Duffy (Penguin; Audio, Recorded Books) caught the eye of librarians at BEA’s Shout ‘n’ Share program and was a GalleyChat Pick of ALA. Below, the author describes the book.

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman, (Mira/Harlequin) was a GalleyChat Pick of ALA, a disturbing story about a teacher involved in a sexual relationship with a student. Ripe for book discussions, the trade paperback format makes it even more attractive to book groups.

The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate (Algonquin; ePub and Kindle, on OverDrive) is part of the Algonquin Readers Roundtable, titles published in original trade paperback to appeal to book groups. It was included in Reading Group Guides’ 2011 Hot Fall Titles for Book Clubs. This is the third book by an author that Kirkus calls “A master at portraying the hurdles faced by upwardly mobile African-Americans,” In this case, the novel deals with the effect of alcoholism on a family. Booklist gives it high praise, “With a lyrical style and obvious respect for her craft, Southgate has composed a compassionate, complex, and concentrated novel, tenderly powerful, that explores family bonds that last long after the family is dispersed.” People chose it as one of five fiction titles in their Great Fall Reads preview.


The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers; Audio, Random House and Books on Tape and OverDrive) is a collection of “lost” stories by Dr. Seuss. Earlier this year, All Things Considered explored the story of the book’s origins. On eBay, a Random House art director discovered that a Dr. Seuss-obsessed collector had identified magazines from the ’50′s featuring Seuss stories that had not been published elsewhere.

The Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson, illustrated by John Rocco (Candlewick Press; Audio, Brilliance and OverDrive) is the retelling of a hundred-year-old story by the Newbery Medalist (Bridge to Terabithia) and her husband. It is starred by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, which said, “This timeless, enjoyable retelling is a strong choice for both a read-aloud and an under-the-covers escape.”

Ten Rules for Living with My Sister by Ann M Martin, (Feiwel & Friends) is nine-year-old Pearl’s hard-won rules for living with her 14-year-old sister. Says Kirkus, “Pearl, as narrator, shows herself to be a keen observer of the people around her and mature enough to handle some sticky situations, all with a sense of humor and aplomb.”

Usual Suspects

The Affair by Lee Child, (Delacorte/RH; RH Audio and Books on Tape;  RH Large type) explores the series character, Jack Reacher’s back story (sorry, Reacher fans, the movie version of One Shot is moving along,  with Tom Cruise in the role of the imposing 6′ 5″ Reacher). Janet Maslin already sang its praises in the NYT this week.

Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke (S&S; Audio, S&S; Large Type, Thorndike) continues the story of Hackberry Holland, the reformed drunk who is now a sheriff in a small South Texas border town. Booklist stars it, saying, “As Burke steers the elaborately structured narrative toward its violent conclusion, we are afforded looks inside the tortured psyches of his various combatants, finding there the most unlikely of connections between the players. This is one of Burke’s biggest novels, in terms of narrative design, thematic richness, and character interplay, and he rises to the occasion superbly.”


Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean (S&S; Audio, S&S; Large Type, Thorndike); we’re expecting this to be THE narrative nonfiction title of the fall. An excerpt appeared in the 8/25 issue of The New Yorker. In a video, Susan Orlean chats about her work.

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt, (WW Norton, 9/26) has already been featured twice on NPR, on Morning Edition and Fresh Air (libraries may want to heed the advice that this will bring a spike in the sales of Greek philosopher Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things). More media attention is coming next week.

Worm: The First Digital World War by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly Press; Brilliance Audio) is a true cyber-crime story about the battle against the Conficker computer worm by the best-selling author of Blackhawk Down.

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Holt; Audio, Macmillan Audio; Large Type, Thorndike) the Fox News host joins forces with historian Martin Dugard (who earlier teamed with James Patterson on the nonfiction title, The Murder of King Tut) to retell an often-told story. PW commented dryly, “Well-documented and equally riveting histories are available for readers interested in Lincolns assassination; this one shows how spin can be inserted into a supposedly no spin American story. ”

Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, (Knopf) is a celebrity memoir (Lindsay-Hogg is the son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald and the director of Brideshead Revisited). Kirkus, enthuses, “even those who dismiss celebrity memoirs should enjoy this jaunt through the glitz.”

Movie Tie-ins

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Penguin; other editions available in ePub and Kindle on OverDrive) includes “The Final Problem,” the story that is the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Jr., which opens Dec. 16.

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