Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

Dog Finds Man

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

A stray dog nabs herself a multi book and movie deal.

A tiny but hardy pup, approached ultra-marathoner Dion Leonard during a long distance race in China across part of the Gobi Desert. She stayed with him, running nearly 80 miles. Leonard named her after the desert.

Her story, and his, gets even more dramatic. Once the run was over Gobi disappeared in a Chinese city while Leonard was raising funds to adopt her and take her back to his home in Scotland. An international effort launched on the Internet helped find her, hurt but ultimately OK.

He says that he has no idea why she came to him in the wilderness, “whether it was my smell — we don’t shower during the week in these races — or whether it was something else, whether it was a past life connection. It was definitely fate and I’m so glad that she chose me … she’s brought lots of joy to people around the globe with our story.”

That story is captured in Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart by Dion Leonard with Craig Borlase (HC/Thomas Nelson, June 13; Thomas Nelson Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Coming August 9 are YA and children’s versions:






Finding Gobi: Young Reader’s Edition: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard, adapted by Aaron Rosenberg (HC/Thomas Nelson).

Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart by Dion Leonard, illustrated by Lisa Manuzak (HC/Thomas Nelson).

A board book comes out in early 2018, Gobi for Little Ones: The Race for Home by Dion Leonard, illustrated by Lisa Manuzak (HC/Thomas Nelson).

Twentieth Century Fox is developing the movie. Variety reports the studio “has preemptively acquired the film rights to the book.”

A portion of the proceeds from Leonard’s book will go to help other dogs in China.

Sedaris On His Compulsion

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

PBS Newshour interviews humorist David Sedaris.

His new book, Theft by Finding (Hachette/Little Brown; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is based on his diaries. Keeping a diary, he says, is something that people regard as disciplined, but for him, it’s a compulsion, something he does when he “should be out doing things.”

The book is currently #4 on the New York Times Hardcover Non-fiction list, after debuting last week at #3.

Telling His Story

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

In his just-released memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (Hachette/Little, Brown; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample), Sherman Alexie writes about growing up in poverty and enduring violence so severe that he still suffers from PTSD. Discussing the book with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, he begins by reading a passage bout trying to escape a family holiday party full of violent and dangerous people.

Yet, he says, “despite all my past and current mental illnesses, despite any pain that I have, that my life … is something amazing, and I’m grateful for that.”

The book made a strong move on the Amazon charts as a result, jumping into the Top 100 at #38, up from #410.

Claiming Space

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Roxane Gay talks with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air about her new book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (HC/Harper; HarperAudio; OverDrive Sample), proving the least interesting thing about her is her much-noted size.

In a smart and candid talk she tells Gross it is a book that felt necessary to write for the very fact it was the book she wanted to write least, “I was just dreading writing the book” she says, “while still feeling like this was a necessary book to write.”

Through the book she offers readers a story of her body as it is now and “what her body had endured” when she was young; she was gang raped at 12, betrayed and set up for a planned attack by a boy she trusted and a group of his friends.

She goes on to talk about her life now, about being fat, and the ways society is threatened by what she calls an “unruly body.”

Reviews are very strong. USA Today calls it “a thing of raw beauty” and writes “This wrenching work … is a yearning to be unburdened of secrets … Gay takes us on a journey in which we learn what it is to exist in a society that accuses you of taking up too much room, even as it refuses to yield a place for you.”

Literary Hub‘s Book Marks rounds up more reviews, many are raves such as the LA Times, which writes it is “a bracingly vivid account of how intellect, emotion and physicality speak to each other and work in tireless tandem to not just survive unspeakable hurt, but to create a life worth living and celebrating.”

The Atlantic says the book is “arresting and candid. At its best, it affords women, in particular, something so many other accounts deny them—the right to take up space they are entitled to, and to define what that means.”

It is currently #28 on Amazon’s Top 100 and has been moving upwards since its publication date. Holds are high in a number of libraries we checked, some topping 5:1.

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.