Nonfiction

Bender, Mike & Doug Chernack. Awkward Family Pet Photos. Three Rivers, dist. by Crown. Nov. 2011. 192p. ISBN 9780307888129. pap. $15. HUMOR/PETS
I really wasn’t sure about this book, but then I checked some statistics. Its predecessor, Awkward Family Photos, was on the New York Times best sellers list for 16 weeks, and the blog from which it was drawn boasts two million unique users and 16 million impressions a month. The authors’ new site, AwkwardFamilyPetPhotos.com, was launched last summer and is already getting three million impressions a month, not to mention coverage from the likes of the Today show. So evidently a lot of people want to see other people’s beloved pets dressed up as superheroes or serving as ring bearer in the wedding. Lots of promotion; definitely investigate.

Brokaw, Tom. The Time of Our Lives: Past, Present, Promise. Random. Nov. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9781400064588. $27; eISBN 9780679643920. lrg. prnt. CD: Random Audio. HISTORY
While Brokaw’s super sellers The Greatest Generation and Boom! focused on a particular age group or era, here the multi-awarding-winning news anchor works across generations, recalling his 93-year-old mother’s tales of taking the horse and buggy to town while reflecting on his iPad-eyed grandchildren. Brokaw honors the hard work and thrift of past generations, but he also acknowledges that today’s youth can’t necessarily expect to have a better life than their parents had, as was once the assumption. With a ten-city tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle; eight million copies of Brokaw’s books are out there somewhere, so you’ll likely need multiples.

Clark, Lloyd. The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943. Atlantic Monthly. Nov. 2011. 496p. ISBN 9780802119087. $25. HISTORY
Imagine two million men employing 6000 tanks, 35,000 guns, and 5000 aircraft all meeting at once. That was what happened during World War II outside of Kursk, 280 miles south of Moscow, as the Germans launched Operation Citadel during July 1943 in an effort to patch up their hold on vital Soviet territory after the retreat from Stalingrad. The Red Army was, however, good and ready for them, and its victory was a turning point for both the eastern front and the war itself. Senior academic in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst whose works often end up being main selections of the Military Book Club, Clark was able to use new material released in the 1990s from the Russian archives to bring us what will doubtless be a significant book.

Fenoli, Randy. It’s All About the Dress: Savvy Secrets, Priceless Advice, and Inspiring Stories To Help You Find The One. Grand Central. Nov. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9780446585071. $26.99. FASHION
TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss, and Randy’s Top 10 aredress Nonfiction so hot that they’re seen in 175 countries in 22 languages. So you can bet that there will demand for this guide on what style wedding dress looks good on whom, which accessories to consider, and more. With all the talk about Sarah Burton’s wedding dress for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, not to mention the bridesmaid’s dress for sister Pippa, this should have readership beyond prospective brides and their mums.

Frank, Robert. Who Repo’d My Jet: Our Manic Millionaires and Why They’ll Lead Us to the Next Boom and Bust. Crown Business. Nov. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780307589897. $26; eISBN 9780307589910. BUSINESS/SOCIAL SCIENCE
The author of Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom now takes us to Pooristan, visiting the formerly wealthy who can no longer afford phones, not to mention those titular jets. Apparently, Frank, a senior editor and popular blogger at the Wall Street Journal, isn’t crying crocodile tears. But he’s concerned that in today’s environment, those with any funds at all are feeling gloomy, cowed, and risk averse, to the detriment of the economy. (Maybe the upbeat “boom” in the subtitle is a bit of wistful wishfulness?) Still, this is reputedly funny as well as informed and will be of interest to anyone following the business news.

Gross, Michael. Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles. Broadway. 496p. ISBN 9780767932653. $28: eISBN 9780767932660. SOCIAL HISTORY
Having portrayed New York’s rich and famous in 740 Park and Rogues’ Gallery, which focused on shenanigans at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gross heads west to investigate the wealthy corners of Los Angeles and the rich who settled there throughout the 20th century. A name dropper’s paradise.

Hermes, Will. Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the ’70s. Faber & Faber, Nov. 2011. 368p. ISBN 9780865479807. $30. MUSIC
From punk rock to hip-hop, the salsa of the South Bronx to the jazz scene in lower Manhattan, the work of the Talking Heads and Patti Smith to Grandmaster Flash’s DJing revolution, music was really enjoying itself in New York in the mid-Seventies. Senior critic for Rolling Stone, Hermes was there and heard it all. Music lovers will want.

Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Farrar. Nov. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780374275631. $27. PSYCHOLOGY
Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, Kahneman was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his groundbreaking work with Amos Tversky on decision making‚ the only non-economist to have received that award. His work has been hugely influential, but it’s not known to many of us because he’s published with the academics. Here he sums up his ideas for lay readers, explaining that the machinery of the mind runs on two systems, the first being fast, intuitive, and emotional and the second being slower, more deliberative, and more logical. How they mesh and the kinds of problems they cause are at the heart of this book. Those who read folks like Steven Pinker, Malcolm Gladwell, and Stephen J. Dubner will want.

Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Crown Archetype. Nov. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780307886262. $25; eISBN 9780307886286. $25. CD: Random Audio. MEMOIR/TELEVISION
You know Kaling as actor, producer, and writer of the Emmy Award-winning The Office. Now hear her spill about guys she likes (Sherlock Holmes, NBA players), fashion and dieting, her Office life, and how much she loves her mother. With more than 1.2 million folks following Kaling on Twitter, you bet there’s an audience.

Keaton, Diane. Then Again. Random. Nov. 2011. 240p. ISBN 9781400068784. $26; eISBN 9781588369420. CD: Random Audio. MEMOIR/FILM
We’re told that this is not your standard celebrity memoir; not only can the Academy Award‚ winning star of Annie Hall and Something’s Gotta Give apparently write well but she focuses her life story on her relationship with her mom. With an enhanced ebook including unpublished photos, video, her mother’s diary excerpts, and scripts; six-city tour to New York, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Should be big.

Marley, Bob. Plain and Simple Wisdom from 56 Hope Road. Harmony, dist. by Crown. Nov. 2011. 176p. ISBN 9780385518833. $16: eISBN 9780307952455. MEMOIR/MUSIC
Marley in his own words but not an autobiography, exactly. Pulled from interviews, this book embodies the famed reggae musician’s personal and spiritual beliefs. Edited by Gerald Hausman, a Marley/Rastafarianism expert and publisher of Tuff Gong Books, and bearing an introduction by Marley’s daughter, Cedella, a musician herself and Tuff Gong CEO, the work seems very much a family affair and loving tribute.

O’Neal, Shaquille with Jackie MacMullan. Shaq Uncut: Tall Tales and Untold Stories. Grand Central. Nov. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9781455504411. $27.95. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR/SPORTS
Four-time NBA champion O’Neal, today the association’s oldest player, has also been busy as an actor, record producer, student (he’s getting a PhD), conductor (he’s led the Boston Pops), and reserve police officer. Here, joined by top basketball author MacMullan, he talks about his life, his game, his colleagues, and more. A no-brainer wherever sports are popular.

O’Rourke, P.J. Holidays in Heck: A Former War Correspondent Experiences Frightening Vacation Fun. Atlantic Monthly. Nov. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780802119858. $23. HUMOR
Too old to keep being scared stiff and too stiff to keep sleeping on the ground, as he himself proclaims, O’Rourke quit the war correspondent business and aimed for some kinder, gentler travel with his family. This smart decision took him from the capital’s national mall to a ski vacation‚ in Ohio?‚ to horseback riding in the wilds of Kyrgyzstan (remote even by the standards of outer space). Honestly, I didn’t think this set-up would be that funny, but the excerpts I read had me chuckling. Holiday in Hell fans, you’ll love.

Rice, Condoleezza. Untitled White House Memoir. Crown. Nov. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780307587862. $30; eISBN 9780307952479. MEMOIR/POLITICS
Rice’s memoir of her upbringing, Extraordinary Ordinary People, was so popular that it went through 11 printings. Here she talks about what it was like to serve as President George W. Bush’s national security adviser and then secretary of state. Promotion on conservative radio as well as pitches to political, African American, and academic websites and blogs, which gives you a sense of where interest in this book will likely bloom.

Roberts, Jon & Evan Wright. American Desperado: My Life; From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset. Crown. Nov. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780307450425. $26; eISBN 9780307450449. CD: Random Audio. MEMOIR/TRUE CRIME
I know, I know, it sounds like some far-fetched flick: born into the Gambino family, Roberts saw his first murder at age seven, went on to join an assassination squad in Vietnam, then worked as a nightclub promoter before becoming (with Pablo Escobar) the top supplier of cocaine to this country. Then he formed a secret alliance with the U.S. government. You might know his story from Cocaine Cowboys, a documentary seen by 15 million on Showtime and turned into a DVD that sold three million copies. Now Paramount is weighing a film on Roberts’s life, with Mark Wahlberg in the lead. All of which suggests that you had better buy if you have true crime fans to please. Note that Wright is a Pen/Faulkner and Los Angeles Times Book award winner and author of the best-selling Generation Kill.

Shields, Charles J. And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut; A Life. Holt. Nov. 2011. 544p. ISBN 9780805086935. $30. LITERARY BIOGRPAHY
The biographer of Harper Lee, Shields approached Kurt Vonnegut about writing his biography in 2006 and was gently refused. But he persevered and won access to both Vonnegut and his letters not long before Vonnegut’s death in 2007. For anyone whose eyes were opened by reading Slaughterhouse-Five‚ a good number of us.

Wilson, A.N. Dante in Love. Farrar. Nov. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780374134686. $28. LITERARY BIOGRAPHY
Very British and very opinionated, the noted author of nonfiction (The Victorians) as well as fiction (Winnie and Wolf) moves to 13th-century Florence to profile not simply Dante but his times‚ when nation-states arose, banking was modernized, and Greek and Arabic teachings began changing how people thought in the West. Wilson also explains just what Beatrice meant to Dante and to the rest of us, as her presence in The Divine Comedy has contributed significantly to Western perceptions of love and sex. The publisher sees this as a change to introduce Wilson to a larger American audience and maybe get more people to read the Comedy in its entirety.

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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  1. […] wealthy corners of Los Angeles and the rich who settled there throughout the 20th century,” says Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert in a pre-pub alert. “A name dropper’s paradise.” Publishers […]

  2. […] wealthy corners of Los Angeles and the rich who settled there throughout the 20th century,” says Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert in a pre-pub alert. “A name dropper’s paradise.” Publishers […]

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