Archive for December, 2013

More Fiction Best Books Lists

Monday, December 9th, 2013

As much fun as best books list are, so many more have rolled in since our last roundup that we are feeling a bit of “list fatigue,” as NPR labels it. Theirs is so bad that they claim to not be doing a best books list this year (see “The Top 5 Reasons We’re Taking A Break From Lists“).

Don’t believe them. Despite what they say,  they’ve published a “non-list” of 200 titles from 2013, calling it a “book concierge.”

The NPR “staff picks” of 59 titles looks like a best books list to us, so we’ve added their picks to our latest roundup (downloadable spreadsheet here 2013 — Best Books, Adult Fiction, Version 3).

Here’s the top 5 reason why we’re ignoring NPR’s claim that this isn’t a list:

Cat Sense   9781250014696

5) Their interactive format is fun.

4) They’re the only ones so far to include a book that is surely on every librarian’s to give or to get list, John Bradshaw’s Cat Sense (Basic Books).

3) If dogs are more to your taste, they’re also the only ones to include David Rosenfelt’s Dogtripping (Macmillan/St. Martin’s).

2) Theirs is the 9th pick for George Saunders’ Tenth of December (Random House), sending it to the top of our tally of total picks, allowing us to again quote one of our favorite #libfaves13 tweets, from Andrea Cough, “try one a day for lunch” (even though she used it for a different book of short stories). UPDATE: Just a few hours after we wrote this, USA Today released their top ten, scrambling everything up again. We’re updating the list.

1) NPR’s coverage generates more holds than any other source.

In addition to the NPR Staff Picks, our updated fiction spreadsheet (Version 3) adds the following:

New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2013 (43 fiction)

New York Times Book Review Top Ten (5 fiction)

Slate Book Review Top Ten (6 Fiction)

Time magazine Top 10 Fiction

Time magazine Top 10 Comics & Graphic Novels (7 fiction)

That’s a total of 487 picks for 290 titles, from 14 sources. We’re expecting this to the the final fiction roundup until Booklist and ALA produce their lists. By the end of the week, we will complete the nonfiction update (including the Kirkus NF list just posted today). The updated children’s list will be posted shortly.

Meanwhile, be sure to add your picks to the list of librarian favorites — #libfaves13. And. don’t let “list fatigue” prevent you from  nominating 2014 titles for LibraryReads.

MANDELA Cover by Kadir Nelson

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

mandela-cover-580The upcoming issue of The New Yorker features a cover image of Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson, whose picture book biography of the leader,  Nelson Mandela, (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan) was recently selected as one of the Best Illustrated Books of 2013 by the New York Times Book Review.

Nelson tells the The New Yorker that, for this cover, he chose to portray Mandela as a younger man, “during the time that he was on trial with over a hundred of his comrades … I wanted to make a simple and bold statement about Mandela and his life as a freedom fighter. The raised fist and the simple, stark palette reminded me of posters and anti-apartheid imagery of the nineteen-eighties.”

The Best Preschool and Family Books To Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

Friday, December 6th, 2013


Welcome to the seventh annual best “books to give to kids you don’t know” round-up [links to the previous six years  are available here].

If you don’t recall how we play this game, let me give you a refresher.

Every year librarians and booksellers are challenged with requests such as:

“I need a book for my five-year-old niece who I only see once a year.”

“I always like to give books but now that the kids are voracious readers, I can’t keep up with what they have already read.”

“I want to give a book but this kid isn’t really a reader.”

We accept this challenge, nay we welcome the opportunity to show off our expertise and vast reading insight. Let the games begin.

Please join in. Tell us your favorite recommendations in the comments section below. Remember, titles should meet the criteria of being sure-fire for reluctant as well as voracious readers. To avoid books that are already owned by kids in the latter category, they should be published this year and be less well-known or sleepers (it kills us, but that requirement means we did not include Jerry Pinkney’s gorgeous new picture book, The Tortoise & the Hare).

This post contains titles for the youngest; see the next post for more picture books.

For Families with Toddlers or New Babies

Giggle!Giggle , Caroline Jayne Church (Scholastic)

This interactive board book is complete with a giggle button that is sure to cascade little ones and their grown ups into fits of delight.



Hush Little Polar BearHush Little Polar Bear, Jeff Mack, (Macmillan/Roaring Brook)

A board book reissue of the perfect bedtime story told in gentle rhythm and rhyme. “Hush little polar bear, sleep in the snow, dream of the places where sleeping bears go” will remind readers of the lullaby “Hush Little Baby.” It is irrisistably singable too.

For Twos, Threes, and Fours

Charley Harper's ABCsKnow any hipsters with preschoolers? Ammo Press has produced the lovely Charley Harper’s ABCs by Gloria Fowler with striking graphic mid-century modern images of birds, insects and mammals created by one of the fathers of modern design. (NOTE: Harper’s work was the inspiration for our EarlyWord bird. We wanted to ask him to design our bird, but he passed away a few months before EarlyWord began. In tribute, we named our bird Charley).

Below is a video of Charley Harper talking about his silk screen technique.

Animal OppositesAnimal Opposites, Petr Horacek, (Candlewick, ages 3 and up)
This pop-up concept book by award winning illustrator Horacek contrasts big/ little, slow/fast, heavy/light as well as more complicated opposites like smooth/prickly with lift-the-flap surprises and pop-up wonders.

Turn the pages, lift the flaps and see animals of all shapes and sizes bring to life the world of opposites. From slow snail to fast cheetah, heavy hippo to light butterfly, smooth frog to prickly porcupine, Petr Horacek’s pop-up animals encourage early literacy, language and communication. With its amusing illustrations and interactive pages – learning has never been so much fun!

See how it works here:

.Frog Trouble

Frog Trouble: . . . And Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs, Sandra Boynton, (Workman)

Taking advantage of the rule that rules are made to be broken, I’m including this title, even though Sandra Boynton hardly fits the “sleeper” criteria. There will never be enough awards for this rockstar of rhythm, rhyme and repetition. This  joyous, toe-tapping collection of original songs includes a CD sung by Mark Lanegan (yes, of Queens of the Stone Age) Josh Turner, Fountains of Wayne, Ryan Adams, Linda Eder, and quickly rising country star Kacey Musgraves — all accompanied by Nashville’s finest instrumentalists.

Here is Dwight Yoakam singing, I’ve Got a Dog:

Continues on next post

Best Preschool and Family Books To Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well, Part 2

Friday, December 6th, 2013


(For Part One, link here)

Flora and the FlamingoFlora and the Flamingo, Molly Idle (Chronicle 9781452110066, ages 4 and up)

This wordless interactive lift-the-flap book evokes an unlikely friendship between a little girl in a bathing cap swimsuit and flippers who dances a tentative then joyous pas de deux with a pink flamingo.

See the format in action below (link here to the animated book trailer):

Night night little green monster

If there ever was a book that has been read to pieces by a generations of children, its Ed Emberly’s Go Away Big Green Monster! It is with great pleasure that I introduce the new superstar of the family, Night Night, Little Green Monster, (Little Brown). Half the scary and twice as much fun, these die-cut pages build the visage of a little green smiling face with one little curly hair. As the first star is sighted the little green monster slowly disappears with each page turn until holographic stars shine out from the pitch-black end papers.

[Ten more titles after the jump!]



Friday, December 6th, 2013

Last night’s Royal performance in London of the film adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, (Hachette/Little, Brown; 1994), starring Idris Elba, was overshadowed by the news that Mandela had died. Moments before receiving the dreaded phone call, Mandela’s daughter Zindzi, interviewed on the red carpet, said that her father, although frail, was doing well. She and her sister Zenani asked that the showing continue.

The movie debuted in limited release in the U.S. on Nov. 29.

Tie ins:


Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Hachette/Back Bay
9780316323543, 0316323543
Trade Paperback; $18.00 US / $20.00 Can.
Hachette Audio$30.00 US / $33.00 Can.



Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom: The Book of the Film

Nelson Mandela, Keith Bernstein
Chronicle Books
9781452128412, 1452128413
Hardback; $35.00 US

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, Film Crew Evacuated

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

9780141001821Ron Howard’s upcoming movie In the Heart of the Sea, based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, made news this week when the crew, in the midst of filming in the Canary Islands, was evacuated as flash floods hit the area, causing mudslides and killing five people. Production is currently on hold.

Philbrick won the National Book Award in Nonfiction in 2000 for In the Heart of the Sea, about the Essex, a Nantucket ship hunting whale in the South Pacific in 1819, was stalked and eventually sunk by a sperm whale setting the crew adrift for 90 days.

The movie, starring  Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw, is set to release on March 13, 2015.

#libfaves13, Day Three

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Librarians are answering the call to tweet their favorite books of 2013. Day three wrapped up yesterday with 98 librarians joining the effort (thanks, Linda Johns, for keeping the stats).

You can join, too. The rules:  Tweet your top ten favorites of the books you read this year (not necessarily those that were published this year), countdown style, one per day, Dec. 1 through Dec. 10 (don’t worry if you haven’t started yet, just jump in). Please include authors (last name is fine to save space), so the compilers can identify the correct titles. Writing titles in all caps also helps the compilers. And, don’t forget the hashtag — #libfaves13

An additional EarlyWord request: We love to know why you picked a book, so please include your passionate recommendations.

Below are some that caught our eye.

Brilliant way to sell a book of short stories:



GODFORSAKEN IDAHO, Shawn Vestal, (HMH/New Harvest; Brilliance Audio)

“Excellent short stories — try one a day for lunch

Andrea Cough @AndBookish



Love the thought of this in audio:

THE TAO OF MARTHA, Jen Lancaster, (NAL Hardcover)

“Great on audio” (Dreamscape Audio)



You had us at sidesplitting, (but totally won us over with the rest):


HOW TO BE A WOMAN by Cailin Moran, (Harper Perennial)

“absolutely sidesplittingly, laugh-out-loud, danger-of-wetting-myself hilarious”

Meriel @aislesofwonder




Best Aliteration:

“Befriend, befuddle, betray. Playing the game with my #8 #libfaves13 pick – spymaster Charles McCarry’s THE SHANGHAI FACTOR.

(Mysterious Press; HighBridge Audio)

David Wright @guybrarian

Best Unexpected Crossover Analogy:

Me Before You

“My #8 pick for #libfaves13 is ME BEFORE YOU [Penguin/Pamela Dorman; Thorndike] which I recently described to someone as a grown-up version of ELEANOR AND PARK

Danielle Dreger @DanielleDregerB



In addition, the library marketers began their own countdown this year, #libMKTGfaves13 (thanks Talia Sherer, from Macmillan!). It’s amazing to see that they manage to find time to read books from other publishers in addition to their own, as proved by PenguinLibrary’s pick, INDISCRETION, Charles Dubow (HarperCollins/Morrow) and ChrisTheBookie from Sterling’s A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME, Wiley Cash, (HarperCollins/Morrow).

Click through to see our Storified version of all the picks.



Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Lone Survivor   9780316324106_3a9c7-2

Called one of the best war movies ever by two people you wouldn’t expect to see eye-to-eye, Tina Brown and Glenn Beck, Lone Survivor is based on the long-running 2007 bestseller by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Hachette/Little, Brown). The promo for the movie is bringing new attention to the book, sending it back on to the 12/8/13 NYT Paperback Nonfiction list at #5.

Mark Wahlberg, who plays Luttrell, along with costars Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch, appeared on the Today Show this morning. Directed by Peter Berg (Battleship and Friday Night Lights), the movie opens on Christmas Day in NY and LA only, followed by a nationwide release on Jan. 10.

Official Movie Siie:

Tie-ins were released on November 19:

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

Marcus Luttrell, Patrick Robinson

(Hachette/Back Bay; Trade pbk.; Mass Mkt.; Audio).

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#libfaves13 The Librarians Top Ten

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Let the world know which books were your favorites this year via #libfaves13, organized by Stephanie Chase (BiblioCommons) and Robin Beerbower (Salem P.L).

The countdown began on Sunday, Dec. 1, but don’t worry if you haven’t joined in yet, you’re welcome to jump in at any time. Just tweet your top ten, one per tweet. If you can, encapsulate why you love your choice; it’s great stuff for readers advisors to crib. Our favorite from today:

The top titles yesterday, according to #libfaves13 list keeper Linda Johns are The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (S&S), The Human Division by John Scalzi (Macmillan/Tor), Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (Macmillan/First Second). The title with the most nominations is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin; Listening Library; Thorndike).

What will be librarians’ top favorite of the year? In 2011, it was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (RH/Crown). Last year, the top two titles were Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (RH/Crown; RH Audio; Thorndike) and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, (Penguin/Dutton; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike), followed by Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan, (Macmillan/FSG; Macmillan Audio).

This year, the library marketers, incited by Talia Sherer at Macmillan, have joined in, starting their own hashtag, #LibMKTGfaves13.

James McBride on PBS

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

The author of The Good Lord Bird, (Penguin/Riverhead; Dreamscape Audio; Thorndike), James McBride,  winner of the National Book Award in fiction, appeared on PBS News Hour last night. He talks about why he wanted to write a funny book about John Brown, a man who had “no sense of humor at all,” but a man he grew to love.

The interview continues here.

Adriana Trigiani on The TODAY SHOW

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Supreme Macaroni CompanyIt was a love fest on the Today Show yesterday as Hoda and Kathie Lee hosted one of their “favorite people in the world,” author Adriana Trigiani, whose latest book, The Supreme Macaroni Company (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe), the final in her series featuring Valentine Roncalli, came out last week.

In addition to her new book, she also talked about directing her first feature film, Big Stone Gap, starring Ashley Judd, based on the first novel in her other series, featuring her home town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Currently in the editing process, it is expected to be released a year from now. For more on the shoot, read the account in the local newspaper, The Richmond Times Dispatch.

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Monday, December 2nd, 2013

This Is Where I Leave YouThe film adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, (Penguin/Dutton, 2009) is now set for release on Sept. 12 of next year (via Deadline)

The movie stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne and Kathryn Hahn and is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum; Date Night). Tropper is the screenwriter.

The novel, Tropper’s fifth, topped many 2009 best books lists and was a NYT best seller. About a family coming together reluctantly to sit shiva for their father, Carolyn See praised it in the Washington Post, “This is a beautiful novel about men — their lust and rage and sweetness. Read it — or take it as a gift — when you next go on a dreaded family holiday.”

Tropper’s most recent novel, One Last Thing Before I Go, (Penguin/Dutton, 2012), was acquired by Paramount, to be produced by J. J. Abrams. In April, Mike Nichols was reportedly in talks to direct it (via The Hollywood Reporter).