Archive for the ‘Reading Trends’ Category

Sic Transit…

Monday, August 30th, 2010

How quickly one goes from literary darling to Jonathan Franzen, the Writer We Love to Hate (Newsweek, 8/26).

One More Time for Amish Romances

Monday, August 9th, 2010

USA Today joins the growing trend of writing about “one of the fastest-growing genres in romance publishing,” novels with Amish settings (Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and the AP have all written about the phenomenon).

Several new and forthcoming titles are cited, including the launch of a new series, from “the queen of the genre,” Beverly Lewis.

The Thorn (The Rose Trilogy)
Beverly Lewis
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House – (2010-09-07)
ISBN / EAN: 0764205749 / 9780764205743


Lydia’s Charm: An Amish Widow Starts Over in Charm, Ohio
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books – (2010-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1602600635 / 9781602600638


Autumn’s Promise: Seasons of Sugarcreek, Book Three
Shelley Shepard Gray
Retail Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Avon Inspire – (2010-08-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061852376 / 9780061852374

Blackstone Audio


Three titles from Harlequin’s Stepple Hill imprint:

The Doctor’s Blessing (Love Inspired)
Patricia Davids
Retail Price: $5.50
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill – (2010-08-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0373876130 / 9780373876136


An Amish Christmas (Love Inspired)
Patricia Davids
Retail Price: $5.50
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill – (2010-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0373876378 / 9780373876372


Courting Ruth (Steeple Hill Love Inspired)
Emma Miller
Retail Price: $4.40
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill – (2010-09-01)
ISBN : 9780373876242

Larger Print; pbk; 9780373815029; $5.00


Amish-themed mysteries are also being released, including the first in a series originally published by Ohio University Press and being reissued by Plume.

Blood of the Prodigal: An Amish-Country Mystery (Ohio Amish Mysteries)
P. L. Gaus
Retail Price: $13.00
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Plume – (2010-09-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0452296463 / 9780452296466


Murder in Plain Sight
Marta Perry
Retail Price: $7.99
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books – (2010-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0373774729 / 9780373774722

Ten Reasons Why

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Wondering why  “This summer belongs to Stieg Larsson”?

USA Today‘s Deirdre Donahue gives ten reasons.

On next week’s NYT best sellers list (8/1), the books show amazing longevity by          topping three of them — hardcover fiction, mass market paperback and trade paperback.

Americans Becoming Less Insular

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The phenomenal success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series in the U.S., has brought attention to other foreign crime writers. According to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal,

The flood of imported crime fiction is striking given American publishers’ longstanding resistance to works in translation. Newly translated books still make up just 3% of titles released in the U.S., according to Bowker…and translated fiction and poetry make up less than 1%. In many European countries, translated books account for 25% to 40% of titles.

Perhaps the best indicator of the trend is the fact that James Patterson has begun partnering with writers in other countries (covered in a separate WSJ story). His Postcard Killers is written with Swedish author Liza Marklund, who wrote a draft in Swedish, based on Patterson’s outline, which was then translated into English for Patterson to edit. The book was released in Europe first, where it did not appeal to Swedish audiences, who prefer more literary crime writing.

The Postcard Killers
James Patterson, Liza Marklund
Retail Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2010-08-16)
ISBN / EAN: 0316089516 / 9780316089517

Patterson is also working on a new Private series, with authors in several other countries.

Minotaur Books, is particularly active in bringing in titles from abroad. The Wall Street Journal says that, until just a few years ago, the St. Martins imprint focused on British imports, but their list now features writers from Iceland, Japan, Nigeria, South Africa as well as Sweden. They are “betting big” this coming February, with a 75,000 copy first printing of The Devotion of Suspect X by Japanese best-selling writer, Keigo Higashino.

This August, Pantheon Books will publish another best-selling Japanese crime writer, Shuichi Yoshida, for the first time in the US. The WSJ says that Yoshida’s 2007 book, Villain, is a “moody narrative [that] unfolds from multiple characters’ perspectives.” Publishers Weekly calls it a “subtle but powerful novel.”

Villain: A Novel
Shuichi Yoshida
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Pantheon – (2010-08-03)
ISBN / EAN: 030737887X / 9780307378873

The WSJ story includes a chart that delineates the characteristics of each country’s crime writers and their appeal to specific reading tastes.

The Death of Fiction

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

On her L.A. Times book blog, Jacket Copy, Carolyn Kellogg refutes the New York Observer story that claims “Fiction has become culturally irrelevant.”

Why Men Don’t Read Books

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

On the Huffington Post, writer and former book editor Jason Pinter argues that, contrary to the prevailing opinion, men will read, they’re just not being provided with the proper manly material (and, those ads for The Nook and The Kindle? They’d make any man run). Based mostly on anecdotal evidence, Pinter says the problem is that there are so many women in publishing (he says it’s “dominated” by women. That may be true in total numbers, but I’m willing to bet that an analysis of the numbers of women in top positions will show a different story. Among the “big six” publishers, for instance, Carolyn Reidy is the sole CEO).

On Salon, Laura Miller responds to the post and amusingly summarizes the 130 comments it brought. She accepts Pinter’s thesis and adds that men are not attracted to publishing because it “…increasingly resembles those ‘caring professions,’ nursing and teaching, where the joy of laboring selflessly on behalf of a noble cause — in this case, literature — is supposed to make up for the lack of profits and respect.”

You can’t help but wonder, though, over half the books on the NYT Fiction Best Seller list are written by men. Have they all been coerced by women editors into writing for the female audience?

Heyday for Bad Parents

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

In a thoughtful essay in Sunday’s NYT BR, children’s editor, Julie Just points out that bad parents (rather than simply absent ones) are making their way in to children’s books,

…some of the most sharply written and critically praised works reliably feature a mopey, inept, distracted or ready-for-rehab parent, suggesting that this has become a particularly resonant figure.

She sees the trend in best selling fantasy series such as  Twilight, Shiver and The Hunger Game and in several well-reviewed YA titles such as,

Once Was Lost
Sara Zarr
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2009-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0316036048 / 9780316036047


How To Say Goodbye In Robot
Natalie Standiford
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press – (2009-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0545107083 / 9780545107082


Laurie Halse Anderson
Retail Price: $9.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Speak – (2010-02-23)
ISBN / EAN: 014241557X / 9780142415573

And younger readers are treated to distracted parents in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.

Fictional parents in current literature  are being presented with very real flaws, making them vivid and believable. That’s one of the reasons I was so taken with Shiver and How to Say Goodbye in Robot.

Loving the Unreliable Narrator

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Sarah Weinman is one of the few people writing thoughtfully about mysteries in the mainstream media these days (as well as on her own site, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind). This week, in the L.A. Times, she explores the appeal of the unreliable narrator, pointing out some classics (Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, Dorothy Hughes’ In a Lonely Place and Patricia Highsmith’s books).

She also chooses two newly-published titles.  She describes Jesse Kellerman’s prose as a “silken sheen covering deep existential skeletons” in his new book The Executioner as well as his earlier works.

The Executor
Jesse Kellerman
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult – (2010-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 039915647X / 9780399156472

Audio; UNABR; Penguin Audio; 11 Hours | ISBN 9781101154779

The second book may have the best title and cover of the season, Hello Kitty Must Die, which refers to the main character’s efforts to escape the stereotype of the well-mannered Asian American girl. A first novel, it’s available in paperback and hardcover from indie crime fiction publisher Tyrus Books, in Madison Wisconsin. It’s been well-reviewed in both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Weinman is a fan, but admits that the book’s audience may be limited to those who,

…cackle and gasp at the book’s opening line — “It all started with my missing hymen” — and are compelled to move on. For those who recoil, well, that’s your loss, but Fiona Yu doesn’t really care what you think or if she’s offended anyone.

Hello Kitty Must Die
Angela S. Choi
Retail Price: $14.95 pbk/ $24.95 hdbk
Publisher: Tyrus Books – (2010-04-01)
ISBN: 9781935562023; pbk/ 9781935562030; hdbk

The Religious Thriller

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Arriving at #28 on the 3/21 Extended NYT Fiction best seller list is Heresy by S.J. Parris, a pseudonym for Stephanie Merritt. It’s her first outing under this name, her first time writing an historical thriller, and her first time on the best seller list. The Washington Post recently pegged Heresy as part of a subgenre they call “the religious thriller”:

If proliferation is a sign of health, then the most vigorous member of the historical novel species must surely be the religious thriller. We know what to expect of these ecclesiastical romps: Sadistic clerics, heroic visionaries, ancient texts, torture chambers and a sprinkling of Latin are guaranteed whether the turmoil being depicted is the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Inquisition or some obscure schism.

Set in the 16th C. the book is about a real-life Italian monk who was excommunicated for believing that the earth revolves around the sun. Escaping to Oxford, he was recruited as a spy for Elizabeth I and become involved in trying to solve some grisly murders. Heresy was acquired as the first in a trilogy

Merritt/Parris recently wrote in the Guardian that she enjoyed writing this book more than any of her others,

The best crime and thriller novels, though they may work within certain parameters, can offer just as much scope for psychological depth, tenderness and a critical perspective on society as “serious” novels, and writers such as Robert Harris and Matthew Pearl prove that you don’t have to compromise on prose style to create a cracking plot.

S.J. Parris
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Doubleday – (2010-02-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0385531281 / 9780385531283

Random House audio; ABR; 9780307714299; $30
ebook available from OverDrive

Let’s Do the Monster Mash

Friday, March 5th, 2010

USA Today asks the burning question of the hour  — with all the literary mashups already published and more on the way, will readers lose interest?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, released last year from small publisher Quirk Books seemed, pardon the expression, like a quirk, but it now has over a million copies in print. Author Seth Grahame-Smith just released his second monster mash-up, this time with publisher Grand Central and using a historical figure, rather than a classic novel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The L.A. Times reviews it today and is wowed, saying that, freed from updating “a revered literary gem, the writer delivers a well-constructed, surprisingly satisfying narrative.”

It was announced this week that Honest Abe, V.H, is on the road to the big screen.

Below is USA Today’s selection of forthcoming titles; several publishers have followed Quirk Books in to the genre, including Del Rey, Pocket and HarperTeen.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (Quirk Classics)
Jane Austen, Steve Hockensmith
Retail Price: $12.95
Paperback: 287 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books – (2010-03-24)
ISBN / EAN: 1594744548 / 9781594744549


Jane Slayre
Sherri Browning Erwin, Charlotte Bronte
Retail Price: $15.00
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket – (2010-04-13)
ISBN / EAN: 1439191182 / 9781439191187


Little Women and Werewolves
Louisa May Alcott, Porter Grand
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Del Rey – (2010-05-04)
ISBN / EAN: 0345522605 / 9780345522603


Little Vampire Women
Louisa May Alcott, Lynn Messina
Retail Price: $8.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen – (2010-05-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061976253 / 9780061976254


Android Karenina
Ben H. Winters
Retail Price: $12.95
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books – (2010-05-26)
ISBN / EAN: 1594744602 / 9781594744600


Romeo & Juliet & Vampires
William Shakespeare and Claudia Gabel
Retail Price: $8.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen – (2010-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061976245 / 9780061976247

Before CSI

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The current edition of my new favorite column, Newsweek‘s “We Read It [So You Don’t Have To]” doesn’t live up to its name. It features The Poisoner’s Handbook and, rather than serving as a substitute for the book, it makes me want to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

In most libraries, that will be a while, since holds are heavy.

By Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, Deborah Blum, The Poisoner’s Handbook is about the dawn of forensic chemistry in New York City in the 1920’s (when, as the author says, “a wealth of modern poisons [created] new opportunities for the clever poisoner.”) Kirkus called it “caviar for true-crime fans.”

The Sunday Washington Post calls it “immensely entertaining.” and recommends it for fans Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Jefferson Bass, and forensic TV shows.

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
Deborah Blum
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2010-02-18)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202435 / 9781594202438

Large Print, Thorndike; 9781410425126; $30.95

Audio; Tantor; UNABR; Available now

Trade; 9781400115501; 8 Audio CD; $34.99
Library; 9781400145508; 8 Audio CD; $69.99
MP3; 9781400165506; 1 MP3-CD; $24.99

Trade 9781400115501 8 Audio CD $34.99Library 9781400145508 8 Audio CD $69.99MP3 9781400165506 1 MP3-CD $24.99

What’s with the Blood Sucking?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Why are vampires so popular right now and what does that say about our culture?

NPR’s Margot Adler set off to answer these questions. As research, she read 75 currently-popular vampire titles (full list, with annotations, on the NPR site, where you can also listen to the full story, which was on All Things Considered on Thursday, 2/18).

Most Literate Cities

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

New York, with the highest concentration of large book publishing houses, ranks way down at #29 on the just-released list of the most literate U.S. cities, below Lexington-Fayette, KY (#15) and New Orleans (#17).

This is the fifth year of the study. Seattle has been #1 for three of those years. It lost out to Minneapolis in 2007 and tied with that city last year.

The rankings are based on the following per capita factors:

  • Number of booksellers
  • Education level
  • Number of internet book orders and visitors to the city’s newspaper Web site
  • Number of libraries, volumes held, circs and library professional staff
  • Newspaper circulation
  • Number of magazine publishers

The top five cities in terms of libraries are:

  1. Cleveland, OH
  2. St. Louis, MO
  3. Pittsburgh, PA
  4. Seattle, Wa
  5. Cincinnati, OH


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Lizzie Skurnick, author of Shelf Discovery, takes a jaundiced and very funny look at the “rush of literary fathers gushing about how to raise their perfect children,” in The Book Beast, focusing on,

Eating Animals
Jonathan Safran Foer
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company – (2009-11-02)
ISBN / EAN: 0316069906 / 9780316069908

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son
Michael Chabon
Retail Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2009-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061490180 / 9780061490187

The essay may send you scurrying to read Skurnick’s book, if you haven’t already. You probably won’t find a copy on the shelves, but you can get a good sample of it with Browse Inside.

Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading
Lizzie Skurnick
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Avon A – (2009-08-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061756350 / 9780061756351

Browse Inside

You can also hear Lizzie in conversation with Nancy Pearl and Virginia Stanley, head of library marketing for HarperCollins, on Library Love Fest.

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.