Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

A Reading Life Revealed

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Pamela Paul who oversees all of the New York Times book coverageincluding the Book Review, was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, ostensibly to talk about her new book My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues (Macmillan/Henry Holt and Co.; OverDrive Sample), but most of the interview focused on her day job.

Explaining the differences between reviews in the daily paper and the Sunday Book Review, she says that the daily reviews begin with the critic, who chooses which books to review. For the Book Review, the editors choose the books, but more importantly who will review them. Trying to imagine who New York Times readers would most want to read on a particular book is the  most creative and “delicious” part of the process, she says, resulting in pairings such as Bill Clinton on Bob Caro‘s fourth book on LBJ, or Michael Lewis on former Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner’s memoir.

As to her own book, it’s based on Paul’s reading diary which she dubbed “Bob,” or “Book of Books.” What titles shaped the most powerful book review editor in the country? A large diet of Nancy Drews and frequent trips to the library to make up for a home not filled with books. As we noted earlier, prepub reviews were strong, with LJ saying, “Titles about reading and books abound, but this memoir stands in a class by itself. Bibliophiles will treasure, but the addictive storytelling and high-quality writing will vastly increase its audience.”

Libraries ordered the title very lightly. All that we checked are showing active holds lists.


Friday, May 19th, 2017

The first trailer was just released for the film adaptation of the bestselling memoir by Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (S&S/Scribner, 2005):

Starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson as Walls with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her dysfunctional, sometimes homeless parents, Rex and Rose Mary, the film opens in wide release on August 11.

The author approves, telling People magazine, “They did a spectacular job bringing to life a complicated story, there’s so many nuances … I wanted Brie Larson to play this role even before I knew who she was. She understands how to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, how you can fight and be scared at the same time … The first time that I saw Woody in makeup and in character, I started trembling and crying … the degree to which he captured my father was breathtaking.”

The memoir spent over 250 weeks on NYT best seller lists, in both hardcover and the trade paperback, where it had its most enduring success. Also a constant in book groups, the memoir is assigned reading in schools, and even has its own Cliff Notes.

A tie-in is forthcoming:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (S&S/Scribner)

GLASS CASTLE Gets Premiere Date

Monday, May 8th, 2017

9780743247542_c87a6The film adaptation of the beloved and bestselling memoir by Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle (S&S/Scribner, 2005), finally has a debut date, set to open in wide release on August 11.

The film stars Academy Award winner Brie Larson as Walls with Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts as her dysfunctional,  sometimes homeless parents, Rex and Rose Mary.

The memoir spent over 250 weeks on NYT best seller lists, in both hardcover and the trade paperback, where it had its most enduring success. Also a constant in book groups, the memoir is assigned reading in schools, and even has its own Cliff Notes.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Lionsgate plans to pitch the film to women hoping to create the kind of appeal and word of mouth power enjoyed by Eat Pray Love, The Help, and Julie & Julia, all of which also had August release dates.

As we have noted, readers have been waiting for some time for the film version. In 2012, Paramount announced plans to adapt the film with  Jennifer Lawrence in the lead, but that project fell through. In 2015, Lionsgate bought the rights and cast Larson in the title role. Director Destin Daniel Cretton, who worked with Larson on her breakout film, Short Term 12, has stayed the one constant in the adaptation’s ups and downs.

Defector’s Story Rises

Friday, May 5th, 2017

9780007554850_026eaThe Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee and David John (HC/William Collins; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) published in 2015 got a sudden boost on Amazon’s sales from a FOX news feature headlined “North Korea defector hails Trump’s tough stance on hostile country.” It is also building a holds list at most libraries we checked.

In 2015 the NYT Book Review included the memoir in a “The Shortlist” feature on North Korean defection books, but did not rate it as highly as other titles, citing an “emptiness at the heart of her story.” StarTribune was more positive, saying “Lee shows the terrible treatment of its people by North Korea’s authoritarian dictatorship. She also shows the price the regime pays for being awful: the loss of people like her who have enormous drive, intelligence and will.” Kirkus summed it up as “Remarkable bravery fluently recounted.”

The British press were more generous. The BBC said, “First-hand accounts of perilous defections from brutal dictatorships aren’t supposed to be funny. But Hyeonseo Lee’s pioneering memoir The Girl With Seven Names contains great humour alongside its shocking evocation of the North Korean regime’s surveillance, torture, privation and propaganda.” The Scotsman wrote “This is a stirring and brave story.” The Guardian featured a long excerpt with photos.

Her TED Talk was hailed by Oprah in O magazine as “The most riveting TED Talk ever.”

My Parents, My Self

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

9780062661883_90d85Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Richard Ford was featured on Fresh Air yesterday, discussing his new memoir, Between Them: Remembering My Parents (HC/Ecco; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample) with host Terry Gross.

In a long, gentle and revealing interview Ford talks about his parents’ lives and how their love for each other shaped his. He tells Gross that his somewhat wild childhood, breaking into houses and stealing guns, may indicate that he is missing the gene for guilt.

And, yet, as an adult, he has regrets. One of the biggest is that, as his mother was dying, he invited her to move in with him, but then told her not to make plans yet. He says he could see the light of hope in her eyes bloom and then die as he spoke to her.

Cheryl Strayed, reviewing it for the upcoming  NYT Book Review, writes that it offers “a master class in character development and narrative economy” and that “In this slim beauty of a memoir, he has given us — the same way he has given us many times in his fiction — a remarkable story about two unremarkable people we would have never known, but for him. Which he couldn’t have written, but for them.”

In the Washington Post author William Giraldi is less enthusiastic, “At just 175 pages, spattered with ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I’m not sure,’ Between Them is a wisp of a book.” However, he ends the review by saying, “[Ford] has attempted a gentle reckoning here, his own exertion of mercy and mourning — his parents breathe in him still — and the attempt alone makes a loving homage.”

PW, Kirkus, and Booklist all starred it, PW says it is vivid and graceful and writes “Every page of this little remembrance teems with Ford’s luxuriant prose.”


Thursday, April 27th, 2017

9781455588220_ced4bMindy Kaling has optioned the rights to Alyssa Mastromonaco’s recently released memoir, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House (Hachette/Twelve; OverDrive Sample) reports Deadline Hollywood. In it, she writes about her time as Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff for operations in the White House.

Plans are in the works to turn it into a TV series with Kaling producing. No word yet on who will star but Jezebel says that it “sounds like it’ll be right up Kaling’s alleyThe Mindy Project minus the doctor stuff with a dash of Veep, a hint of The West Wing, minus any House of Cards Underwood-ian touches.”

The publisher calls the book “less political diatribe than a gossip session with an older sister,” which is fitting as Mastromonaco and Kaling are friends, introduced, says Deadline, by Obama himself.

As we posted, the book spent two weeks on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction list and got attention when it was published last month. People reviewed it, saying it is “brimming with … humorous, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, as well as up-close-and-personal moments with Obama that shed new light on who he is as a leader, man and friend.” New York Magazine ran an interview, as did USA Today.

To Print: Gretchen Carlson

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

9781478992172Gretchen Carlson is at work on a new memoir,  Be Fierce: Stop Harassment And Take Your Power Back (Hachette/Center Street Books), scheduled for publication on September 26. The announcement come amidst media coverage of accusations of sexual harassment at Fox and the recent firing of Bill O’Reilly.

In a statement Carlson said “Make no mistake – sexual harassment is not just about sex. It’s really about power. Sexual harassers feel they can get away with it because they believe they’re the ones holding all the cards. It doesn’t occur to them that the women they’re harassing have power too. We need to encourage women to stop being silent, stand up and speak up and join the movement. Together we can make change.”

Carlson filed a lawsuit against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, leading to his ouster, paving the way for O’Reilly’s exit. She is just one of many at the network to have shared their stories. Her book will gather the voices of others without such a megaphone. According to Hachette Imprint Center Street Be Fierce , will “Gretchen’s experience and powerful stories from the thousands of women who have reached out to her who refuse to submit to intimidation of any kind. Gretchen will also share the wisdom and research of lawyers, psychologists, and other experts helping to confront this problem and advance what has become an international conversation about women refusing to shut up and sit down.”

She may not be able to be completely candid, however. As The Daily Beast points out, she “can’t discuss her former employer under the terms of a $20 million settlement agreement.” She tells the site, “Obviously, I can’t talk about the details of the case, but my goodness, I don’t need to … I can be an advocate for this issue. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I never expected to be the 9780525427452_b818dface of this issue. Who would?”

Carlson’s first book was her PR-ish memoir Getting Real (PRH/Viking, 2015). It hit the USA Today‘s list at #140 and lasted just one week. In it, she presented a more flattering picture of her boss, calling him, “the most accessible boss I’ve ever worked for.”


Thursday, March 30th, 2017

9781476796710_891d2Katey Sagal, the actress famous for her roles on Married with Children and Sons of Anarchy, for which she won a Golden Globe, appeared today on Good Morning America to talk about her new memoir, Grace Notes: My Recollections (S&S/Gallery; OverDrive Sample).

Host Michael Strahan notes that Segal reveals personal details in the book, being frank about her past addictions and life in recovery. Sagal says she began the book as a way to share her life and past history with her children and saw the project as a love letter to her family.

She also talks about her time as a singer and song writer. Expressing surprised at this bit of her history, Strahan marvels that she “opened for Etta James, sang background for Bette Midler, and got fired by Bob Dylan.” She still has a band and says music is a big part of her life.

Sagal as been on a media blitz for the book, already appearing on Nightline and featured in the March 27 issue of People. She will be on The View tomorrow. The book made USA Today‘s list of “New and noteworthy” booksPage Six and the NY Daily News covered some of the book’s revelations. The book has moved up Amazon’s sales rankings as a result and is currently at #518.


Monday, March 27th, 2017

9780812996937_03b5cHolds are growing for Ariel Levy’s attention-getting memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply (PRH/Random; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample).

Levy, a staff writer at the New Yorker, is getting attention from a wide range of media. The NYT highlights the author in a lengthy feature story detailing Levy’s take on what the paper calls her “karmic smackdown” of how she went from pregnant and married to a woman grieving the loss of her baby and watching her marriage dissolve:

“Ms. Levy wanted to interrogate her own responsibility for such a sequence of grim events … That is the intellectual backbone [of the memoir, one that examines the] hoary conceit, the one about women and ‘having it all’ … A thoroughly modern memoir, the elements … seem plucked not from the script of Girls, which has also been exploring reproductive issues of late, but Transparent — even Portlandia.”

Blurbed by some big names, including Lena Dunham, Cheryl Strayed, David Sedaris, Amy Bloom, and Alison Bechtel, it is reviewed by a range of outlets including Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, Mother Jones, O magazine, and Time. Levy was also interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.

The Atlantic says it is a “one-of-a-kind memoir” and that “Levy has the rare gift of seeing herself with fierce, unforgiving clarity. And she deploys prose to match, raw and agile. She plumbs the commotion deep within and takes the measure of her have-it-all generation.”

It is also stirring controversy. The New Republic calls it “Infuriating … a monument to obliviousness” and says it “buys into the myth that feminism promises each woman that she can have whatever she wants … It’s unlikely many Black women or Arab women or undocumented women would presume a similar degree of permission and mobility, regardless of their exposure to Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.”

It is climbing the Amazon rankings, currently at #136, and a few systems we checked are showing holds above 6:1.

The Obama Book Deals Land

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

As expected, both Obamas will publish books now that they have left office. Penguin Random House (PRH) won the bidding war for worldwide rights to their books.

In the brief press release announcing the deal, the publisher did not give details on what the books will cover, but the Associated Press reports that,  “A publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations said that Barack Obama’s book will be a straightforward memoir about his presidency, while Michelle Obama plans to write an inspirational work for young people that will draw upon her life story.” CNN reports the books are projected to be released in 2018.

The NYT reports the heated race to win publishing rights “probably stretched well into eight figures … the opening offers for Mr. Obama’s book alone were in the $18 million to $20 million range.” The Guardian says the deal is a “record sum for US presidential memoirs … By comparison, fellow Democrat and former president Bill Clinton earned $15m for rights to his 2004 memoir My Life after he left office … Republican George W Bush, reaped some $10m from his 2010 book Decision Points.”

It has not been announced which of the many PRH imprints will publish the books. The NYT says that it is likely that two imprints will be involved, to help share the cost of the large advance each Obama will receive.

9780307956026_06d7f9780307237699Crown published the previous books by the Obamas, including Mrs. Obama’s book about the White House garden and both of Mr. Obama’s memoirs, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

The NYT notes “a postpresidential memoir has even greater potential to be a critical and commercial hit. Mr. Obama kept a journal during his time in office, which suggests his memoir could include behind-the-scenes moments that were captured as major events unfolded … frank discussion of his time in the White House, and of issues like race relations in America, could reach an even wider audience, becoming a worldwide blockbuster.”

According to the press release, as part of the deal, PRH will donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to two nonprofits providing access to reading materials for children and the Obamas will donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including to the Obama Foundation.

“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama,” Markus Dohle, the chief executive of Penguin Random House, said in a statement. “With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same. Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.”


Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

9781400067961_c8751A memoir from a MIT mathematician who beat the casinos at their own game is building reserve lists in libraries and climbing Amazon’s sales rankings, moving from #424 to within the Top 100.

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market, Edward O. Thorp (PRH/Random House; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) recounts Throp’s life in finance, distilling advice as well as mob-tinged tales.

The Wall Street Journal says the memoir “delightfully recounts his progress (if that is the word) from college teacher to gambler to hedge-fund manager. Along the way we learn important lessons about the functioning of markets and the logic of investment.”

Thorp, says the New York Post, invented the art of card counting, and incurred the wrath of the casino industry, so successfully that he was targeted for harm when he proved he could beat the house at blackjack. His 1962 guide, Beat the Dealer, sold over a million copies and is still in print.

After his careers in academia and the casinos, Thorp started hedge funds and tangled with Rudy Giuliani, who at the time was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Thorp prevailed and continued his successful career making money. 

Holds range from almost 5:1 to 47:1 on modest ordering in systems we checked.

Writer Carrie Fisher Dies

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

9780399173592_8cf50She may be remembered by many as Princess Leia in Star Wars but Carrie Fisher, who died at 60 on Tuesday, was also known for the sharp writing, raw honesty, and biting humor in her four novels and three memoirs, all of which are still in print.

Her first books were heavily autobiographical novels, Postcards From the Edge (1987),  Surrender the Pink (1990),  Delusions of Grandma (1993), and The Best Awful (2004; S&S Audio) (all from S&S).

But she found her true calling in memoirs, beginning with Wishful Drinking (2008; S&S Audio; Ocvr9781439153710_9781439153710_hrverDrive Sample). As Entertainment Weekly observed of that book, “Fisher’s voice is freer, now that she’s no longer hiding behind the coy scrim of calling her perky howls of pain ‘novels’ … Her stories bubble, bounce, and careen with an energy as loose as the jauntiness in The Best Awful was tight.”

Wishful Drinking was adapted from Fisher’s one-woman stage show, which also became the 2010 HBO documentary. UPDATE: HBO will re-air the show on Jan 1 at 9 pm ET.

postcards-from-the-edge-9781439194003_hrShe died after returning from a trip to London to promote her most recent book, The Princess Diarist (PRH/Blue Rider Press; Penguin/BOT Audio; OverDrive Sample).

It garnered headlines for revealing what many had already suspected, that she and Harrison Ford had an affair during the filming of Star Wars, but it also received positive reviewsThe Guardian wrote that it is “smart and funny. The pages crackle with self-deprecating one-liners, chatty observations and the singular wisdom that comes with being forever immortalised in the minds of teenage boys in a metal bikini and chained to a slug.”

The Princess Diarist is currently #1 on Amazon’s sales rankings, with Wishful Drinking at #7. Postcards From the Edge is right behind it at #8.

Libraries are also seeing demand with holds skyrocketing, passing 15:1 ratios on titles that have been weeded down to just a few copies, such as Postcards From the Edge. Libraries own more copies of the most recent book, The Princess Diarist. Nevertheless, it is showing strong holds, topping a 6:1 ratio at several libraries we checked.

Picking Up the Pieces

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

9781455595747_ecfc1Country music star Naomi Judd just released a memoir about her treatment-resistant depression, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope (Hachette/Center Street; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

As a result of dual appearances on ABC, it  is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings, jumping to #138.

Good Morning America featured the singer in a taped conversation with host Robin Roberts. Nightline offered a more extended conversation.

Roberts says Judd’s book is a “powerful” and “inspiring” story. According to Judd, she was in an “extreme situation,” in psychiatric wards and on heavy doses of medication. She also recounts the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, saying “nobody was there for me … I had to parent myself.”

Estranged from daughter Wynonna, Naomi says she made a lot of mistakes with her and they need a break from each other. She copes with her illness now by practicing “radical acceptance.”




Monday, September 19th, 2016

9781501141515_b00fcBruce Springsteen was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning in a is wide-ranging conversation that opens with Anthony Mason asking about his drive and motivation. Springsteen replies:

“I believe every artist had someone who told them that they weren’t worth dirt and someone who told them that they were the second coming of the baby Jesus, and they believed ‘em both … that’s the fuel that starts the fire.”

Of his breakthrough song, “Born To Run,” Springsteen says he “was trying to make the greatest record you’d ever heard. The record that after you heard it, you didn’t have to hear another record …”

Beyond music, the two talk about important relationships in Springsteen’s life, his wife, father, and Clarence Clemons, the iconic sax player of the E Street Band who died in 2011. Springsteen writes, “Losing Clarence was like losing the rain.”

Of his father he says, “I felt I hadn’t been completely fair to him in my music … I think I left an image of him as sort of this very domineering character, which he could be at different times. And he could be frightening. But he was also much, much more. He had a much more complicated life.”

“I’m still in love with playing,” he says at the conversation’s end, “And my attitude at this point in my life is, this is what I love to do. I wanna do as much of it as I can.”

His memoir, Born to Run (S&S; S&S Audio) will be published on Sept. 27. As we noted earlier, the book is timed to a new companion album release, Chapter & Verse. According to Springsteen’s website, the musician picked the songs on the album “to reflect the themes and sections” of his memoir.

Also part of the feature is a 45 image photo gallery.

A full video has not yet been released, below is an excerpt about writing the memoir:

Page to Screen: LION

Friday, August 26th, 2016

9780425276198_292f1A memoir of an amazing journey of loss and recovery, Saroo Brierley’s A Long Way Home, (PRH/Viking, 2014, trade paperback, 2015) is headed to the silver screen, starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham. They join a cast of actors well-known in India, including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Priyanka Bose, and Tannishtha Chatterjee. The inspirational tear-jerker is directed by Garth Davis (Top of the Lake).

The Weinstein Company film, retitled Lion, will open nation wide on Nov. 25, the Friday after Thanksgiving, not only a prime time to attract families looking for entertainment, but also good timing for awards. Vanity Fair reports the film is “Already on Awards-Season Short Lists.

In the book, Brierley recounts how he was separated from his family in rural India at age 4, when he climbed aboard a train and was carried over a thousand miles away to a city he did not know. He wound up in an orphanage, was adopted and relocated to Tasmania.

Interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered when the book was published, Brierley describes how he tried to find his way home by studying Google Earth looking for a familiar landscape — a river, a waterfall, and a fountain. He says the moment he finally found his mother “was like a nuclear fusion.”

The tie-in uses the film’s title, Lion, Saroo Brierley (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Below is the recently released trailer, followed by Brierley giving a speech about his journey, and the NPR interview.