LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Franken, Sidibe, Tambor, & More | Memoir Previews, May 2017, Pt. 4

Falcone, Ben. Being a Dad Is Weird: Lessons in Fatherhood from My Family to Yours. Dey Street: HarperCollins. May 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780062473622. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062473608. MEMOIR
The actor and writer/director of The Boss and Tammy and husband of Melissa McCarthy, with whom he is producing the comedy pilot Nobodies, Falcone shares stories both touching and funny about being just dad at home. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Flynt, Wayne. Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee. Harper. May 2017. 224p. ISBN 9780062660084. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062660107. MEMOIR
Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Auburn, Flynt was inspired to return to his native Alabama after the publication of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and met Lee and her sisters in the 1983. Here he collects the letters he and Lee exchanged from 1992 until her death in February 2016, giving us an intimate look at her later life. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Frank, Michael. The Mighty Franks: A Family Memoir. Farrar. May 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780374210120. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374715960. MEMOIRfrank
From Los Angeles Times book critic Frank: the portrait of a family that’s not like yours or mine. Frank’s Auntie Hankie and Uncle Irving, high-flying Hollywood screenwriters, were doubly his aunt and uncle; brother and sister married sister and brother, and the two families lived blocks away. Childless Auntie Hankie doted on her nephew but eventually shook him to the core by revealing a dark and troubled soul. A big in-house favorite.

Franken, Al. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. Twelve. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781455540419. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455540433. CD/downloadable: Hachette Audio. MEMOIR
Celebrated comedian Franken was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008 by the slimmest margin in history, requiring a nightmarish eight-month recount, and was comfortably reelected in 2014 after doing his job honorably. Here’s how he got from Saturday Night Live to the Senate; with a 325,000-copy first printing.

Graham, Ashley. A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like. Dey Street HarperCollins. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780062667946. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062667960. MEMOIR
Big and beautiful, Graham is a world-famous plus-sized model and body activist who has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Elle UK, and more. She’s got followers; the 150,000-copy first printing says it all.

Johnson, Yvette. The Song and the Silence: A Story about Family, Race, and What Was Revealed in a Small Town in the Mississippi Delta While Searching for Booker Wright. Atria. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 978147675494. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476754963. MEMOIR
In the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait, Booker Wright explained what life johnsonwas really like for African Americans in his segregated state. Thereafter, he was murdered. Johnson, his granddaughter, who was born a year after his death, eventually traveled to her grandfather’s hometown to understand what happened. Originally scheduled for December 2015 and previewed as Surface of the Deep: Searching for Booker Wright and Finding Redemption Along the Way.

Lockwood, Patricia. Priestdaddy: A Memoir. Riverhead. May 2017. 352p. ISBN 9781594633737. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698188396. MEMOIR
The author of two well-received poetry collections, including Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, a New York Times Notable Book, Lockwood has been called the poet laureate of Twitter (@TriciaLockwood) and has a big following ready and waiting for this book. Here, she explains what it’s like to have a married Catholic priest for a father who loves action movies, jams on the guitar, and took her to abortion clinic sit-ins. She’s tried to explain her unexpected background to her rational journalist husband; now she explains it to us.

Marzano-Lesnevich, Alexandria. The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. Flatiron: Macmillan. May 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781250080547. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250080561. CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR
At a law firm one summer, the anti–death penalty Marzano-Lesnevich began working on the retrial defense of death-row convicted murderer and child molester Ricky Langley—and was overwhelmed by the desire to see him die. Her memoir investigates not a crime but how our experiences make us look at crime. Named a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow in creative writing for her work on this book, Marzano-Lesnevich also received a Rona Jaffe Award, a Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference scholarship, and more in support of this book.

Montalván, Luis Carlos & Ellis Henican. Since Tuesday: One Veteran, One Dog, and Their Bold Quest To Change Lives. Hachette. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780316314411. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316314404. lib. ebk. ISBN 9780316314442. MEMOIR
As former, much-decorated U.S. Army Captain Montalván recounted in his memoir Until montalvanTuesday, upon returning home from Iraq he was rescued from severe pain and post-traumatic stress disorder by a golden retriever named Tuesday. That memoir sold 300,000 copies, so expect good things from this new memoir, an account of how he and Tuesday take healing to the larger veteran community. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

Morgan, Jason & Damien Lewis. A Dog Called Hope: A Wounded Warrior and the Service Dog Who Saved Him. Atria. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781476797007. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476797038. MEMOIR
While on an anti-narcotics raid into the Central American jungle, Special Forces warrior Jason Morgan suffered a parachute jump gone wrong and ended up confined to a wheelchair. Then his wife left him and his three young sons. He was at a loss until a black Labrador called Napal padded in to the rescue. Here’s how love and loyalty work.

Nevins, Sheila. You Don’t Look Your Age: And Other Fairy Tales. Flatiron: Macmillan. May 2017. 192p. ISBN 9781250111302. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250111326. CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR
President of HBO Documentary Films, Nevins has produced over 1,000 documentary films for HBO, and the various films she has worked on have been honored with 32 Prime Time Emmys, 37 News and Doc Emmys, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards. You’d think that she would rest on her laurels, but she’s here to share how tough it still is to be a woman in this world.

Sidibe, Gabourey. This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare. Houghton Harcourt. May 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780544786769. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544786905. MEMOIR
An award-winning actress best known for playing the title role in Precious, Sidibe here chronicles a tough upbringing with a polygamous father and a determined mother who supported her children by singing in the subway, assesses a career that began with a first job as a phone sex “talker,” and reflects on issues like friendship, celebrity, haters, race, and weight. Rumor has it that she’s an amazing storyteller. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Tambor, Jeffrey. Are You Anybody: A Memoir. Crown Archetype. May 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780451496355. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780451496379. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR
How did Tambor get to be an Emmy and Golden Globe Award–winning actor and star of tamborTransparent and Arrested Development? Here he shows how he drew inspiration for the characters he’s famously embodied from a patchwork childhood as a self-described fat Hungarian-Jewish kid with a father proclaimed “Don’t celebrate. They’ll take it away from you!” He’s also trademark funny on the subjects of auditions, audience connection, and the colleagues with whom he’s been honored to work. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

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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, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.

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