Aciman, André. Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere. Farrar. Oct. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780374102753. $25.
Author of evocative fiction (Eight White Nights), as well as genre-defining memoir (Out of Egypt), Aciman here offers linked essays regarding time, place, and memory‚ particularly the memory evoked by the smell of lavender; not for nothing is he editor of The Proust Project. Should be an absorbing read for smart readers; I’m anticipating.

Atwood, Margaret. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Oct. 2011. 208p. ISBN 9780385533966. $24.95; eISBN 9780385533973.
From The Handmaid’s Tale to The Year of the Flood, award-winning author Atwood has purveyed her own special brand of literate and arresting science fiction. In this volume, which collects her 2010 Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature at Emory University, she explores her relationship with sf. The three lectures include Flying Rabbits, which considers her early superhero rabbits and all manner of winged things; Burning Bushes, which assays the Victorian precursors to sf (something she studied as a Harvard grad student); and Dire Cartographies, which contrasts utopias and dystopias. Atwood is loved (she has over 100,000 twitter followers), so there will be interest.

Bellos, David. Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. Faber & Faber. Oct. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780865478572. $26.
An award-winning translator whose Georges Perec: A Life in Words won the Prix Goncourt, Bellos writes about translation as something more than a shift from one language to another; he sees it as a part of how we interpret our world, as another name for the human condition. Not for everyone, but deep thinkers should find this a thought-provoking book.

Bernier, Rosamond. Some of My Lives: A Scrapbook Memoir. Farrar. Oct. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780374266615. $28.
And she has a lot of them. Philadelphia-born Bernier cofounded the premier arts magazine L’OEIL in the 1950s, knew great artists from Pablo Picasso to Leonard Bernstein to Malcolm Lowry, lectures at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was named for life to the International Best-Dressed List. Termed a scrapbook, this work offers bits of her voluminous writings, including diary entries and pieces for L’OEIL. Maybe not the publisher’s biggest October book, but it sounds so fascinating.

David, Joshua & Robert Hammond. High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky. Farrar. Oct. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780374532994. pap. $27.
For those interested in cityscapes, New York’s High Line is an inspiration. A blend of plants, paths, and vistas stretching a half-mile atop an abandoned railway structure on Manhattan’s Lower West Side, it is acknowledged as one of today’s more remarkable reclamation projects. Here, the cofounders of Friends of the High Line, who won the Jane Jacobs medal for their work on the park, tell its story. For any reader interested in urban renewal.

DeGeneres, Ellen. Seriously‚ĶI’m Kidding. Grand Central. Oct. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780446585026. $26.95. CD: Hachette Audio.
The Emmy Award‚ winning actress offers another book, this one on the joys of hosting a talk show and what it was like to sit at the American Idol table. Buy wherever her previous books were popular.

Feinstein, Andrew. The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade. Farrar. Oct. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9780374208387. $27.
Profiling, politicians, weapons manufacturers, underground arms dealers, and the military, Feinstein gives us a picture of the global arms trade, which embraces above-board government-to-government arms trade, illicit arms dealing, and the shady relationship between the two. His credentials? He resigned from the African National Congress when it refused to investigate suspect South African arms deals and is founding codirector of Corruption Watch‚ so he must be a busy man. Important enough to merit a one-day laydown.

Greenwald, Glenn. With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used To Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Metropolitan: Holt. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780805092059. $26.
The rule of law central to America’s self-definition has come under fire, says Greenwald, the author of such best sellers as How Would a Patriot Act? We now have a two-tiered system, one for the political and financial elite and another for everyone else. I thought that had always been the case, but it has evidently gotten worse. Greenwald, called one of the 25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media by Forbes and a blogosphere superstar by Mother Jones, is just the guy to write this book. Not for legalists only.

Hansen, Jonathan M.: Guantánamo: An American History. Hill and Wang. Oct. 2011. 416p. ISBN 9780809053414. $30.
Given the central role Guantánamo Bay plays in current events, a history giving its context would seem like a good idea. Why did Spain neglect it, why did Americans become interested in it (starting with George Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence), how did it end up in American hands, and why is it still ours today? Harvard historian Hansen explains; take a look.

Hawn, Goldie. 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children‚ and Ourselves‚ the Social and Emotional Skills To Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives. Perigee: Berkley. Oct. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780399536069. $24.
Would you let your children give up ten minutes of their day for simple exercises aimed at clobbering stress? That’s the goal of the MindUP‚Ñ¢ program, supported by the Hawn Foundation. I tend to be suspicious of celeb self-help and anything that promises to reduce stress without significant effort, but this is used in schools across the nation and could draw a crowd, given Hawn’s acting rep.

Horwitz, Tony. Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. Holt. Oct. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9780805091533. $28. CD: Macmillan Audio.
A Pulitzer Prize‚ winning journalist and author of such gems as Confederates in the Attic, Horwitz greets the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War by backtracking a bit. Here he reconstructs the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry led by John Brown, a descendant of New England Puritans who saw slavery as a violation of the nation’s principles. Horwitz has the grace to capture this telling moment in American history and its far-ranging consequences; Lincoln called the Emancipation Proclamation a John Brown raid, on a gigantic scale. Expect demand, and look for the author on the Truth or Dare panel at LJ‘s Day of Dialog.

Klam, Julie. Love at First Bark: Dogs and the People They Saved. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2011. 192p. ISBN 9781594488283. $21.95. Digital download: Penguin Audio.
Klam has written for magazines like O and Rolling Stone and earned an Emmy nomination for her work on VH1’s Pop-Up Video, but you’ll know her from last year’s best-selling canine love-fest memoir, You Had Me at Woof. Here she talks about dogs she has rescued and what they have given her, while also recounting stories of other people saved by the dogs they’ve saved, as true dog people like to put it. Can’t miss with the enormous dog-loving crowd; national tour.

Lessig, Lawrence. Republic, Lost: A Declaration for Independence. Twelve: Hachette. Oct. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780446576437. $26.99. Downloadable Audio: Hachette Audio.
A Harvard law professor and director of the university’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Lessig decries untrammeled corporate campaign expenditures (brought on by the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) and the consequences. Americans no longer trust a Congress they think can be bought. A former Obama supporter now critical of the President, Lessig takes on Left and Right as he argues for reform. With a four-city tour to New York, Boston, Washington, DC, and San Francisco; I hope people will listen.

Levine, Robert. Free Ride: How the Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back. Doubleday. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780385533768. $26.96; eISBN 9780385533775.
Information wants to be free, and the Internet lets it happen. But there’s a price, with the newspaper and music industries in freefall, TV losing customers to online venues, and book publishers sweating the ebook phenomenon (with some unfortunate consequences for libraries). Business journalist Levine, recently executive editor of Billboard magazine, charts developments that have left media as a whole feeling cornered and out of control and also suggests remedies. Fine, but I hope he’s not thinking just dollars and cents; I’m less worried about the culture business than I am about culture and larger social implications. Bound to cause fury in some circles and part of a valuable discussion.

O’Reilly, Bill & Martin Dugard. Killing Lincoln: The Assassination That Changed America Forever. Holt. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780805093070. $28. CD: Macmillan Audio.
The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, the country’s top-ranked cable news show, joins with best-selling history author Dugard to reconstruct Lincoln’s assassination; the subsequent manhunt for John Wilkes Booth, led by a former Union spy; and the culminating execution of convicted coconspirators after Booth died in a shootout. Interesting choice for the sharp-tongued O’Reilly, who at least has a B.A. in history; his star power will generate demand.

Osbourne, Ozzy with Chris Ayres. Trust Me, I’m Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock’s Ultimate Survivor. Grand Central. Oct. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9781455503339. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio.
Would you take advice from this man? Maybe not, but what a hoot to read his book, drawn from Osbourne’s columns in Rolling Stone and the London Sunday Times. As Osbourne points out, it’s a miracle that he’s still alive. Millions of fans are, too; buy accordingly.

My Pick
Van Buren, Peter. We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. Metropolitan: Holt. Oct. 2011. 288p. ISBN 9780805094367. $25.
A Foreign Service officer for more than two decades, Van Buren led the State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team in its effort to win over the Iraqis through invigorating social projects‚ like sports murals in violence-wracked neighborhoods and pastry-making classes to help folks supply goods to nonexistent cafés on rubble-strewn streets without water or electricity. Talk about the arrogance of trying to remake a world in our image without even knowing the world we are trying to remake. Billed as bitingly funny, though I’m not sure I’m laughing; an important book from someone who was there.

My Pick
Wolfe, Nathan. The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age. Times: Holt. Oct. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780805091946. $26.
The Lorry I. Lokey Visiting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University and director of Global Viral Forecasting, which tracks the movement of new infectious agents from other animals to us, Wolfe is in the position to tell us how humans and viruses have coevolved and why we are especially vulnerable to global pandemic now. As crucially important as the hard-core science is, there’s more than that to this story. Wolfe routinely undertakes heart-stopping research trips through rough terrain in Africa and Borneo, for instance, earning himself the nickname the Indiana Jones of virus hunters. Since Wolfe’s work appears regularly in venues ranging from Nature and the New York Times to Wired and Seed, I’m betting that he can write well, too. Could be one of the top fall science books.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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.


  1. gabrielle says:

    I heard a great interview with Andre on Radio Open Source. Intelligent and interesting guy. I’ll have to pick up his book of essays.

    Link to the interview for all who are curious: