Nonfiction: January 2012, Pt. 4: From Carly Simon to Nuclear Weapons

Davis, Stephen. I Believe in Love: The True Adventures of Carly Simon. Gotham: Penguin Group. Jan. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781592406517. $27.50. BIOGRAPHY/MUSIC
Drawing on private archives and unpublished interviews with the singer/songwriter herself, noted rock biographer Davis gives Carly Simon the full-scale treatment, from childhood with her publishing-giant father, Richard Simon, through affairs, marriage to James Taylor, stage fright, and two Grammys and an Academy Award. Of course, what everyone wants to know is the real story behind You’re So Vain, and that’s here, too. Hey, rock bios/autobios sell!

Donahue, Heather. Growgirl. Gotham: Penguin Group. Jan. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781592406920. $26. CD: Gotham Audio. MEMOIR
Remember Donohue from The Blair Witch Project, the little indie that could? With her career going nowhere after the outsized success of that film, Donahue cast about for something else to do and ended up leaving town with her new boyfriend and growing pot. In the supportive little community where they lived, the Girls were the marijuana plants‚ she and the other pot wives weren’t allowed to tend the plants. Still, the experience afforded Donohue both comfort and a surprising sense of normalcy. If it’s your cup of tea.

Hudson, Jennifer. I Got This: How I Changed My Ways, Found Myself, and Lost What Weighed Me Down. Dutton. Jan. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780525952770. $25.95. MEMOIR
The Academy and Grammy Award‚ winning actress has had lots of successes and one big loss: she’s managed to ditch 80 pounds. This book has just dropped into the schedule, so I can’t tell you the life story‚ weight loss balance. But it’s celebrity inspiration; need I say more?

Kyle, Chris & others. American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. Morrow. Jan. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780062082350. $26.99. lrg. prnt. MEMOIR/MILITARY ÔøΩ
Called the Legend by fellow navy SEALs, Kyle racked up the most confirmed sniper kills in the history of the U.S. during a ten-year stint covering four deployments. He also earned seven medals, including two Silver Stars, and saw two close friends die as he joined the Race to Baghdad and the battles at Fallujah, Ramadi, and Sadr City. Here he tells not only his story but that of SEAL Team 3, also offering space for wife Taya to reveal the strains of a military marriage. His coauthors include trial lawyer Scott McEwen, who grew up hunting with long-range rifles, and Jim DeFelice, the author of military thrillers and a biography of Omar Bradley.

Lerner, Harriet. Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Jan 2012. 224p. ISBN 9781592406913. $22.50. SELF-HELP
A marriage manual with a difference, from the author of The Dance of Anger, which has 2.75 million copies in print. Clinical psychologist Lerner offers more than 100 rules for a good marriage (or coupling), none more than two pages long. So, succinct and easy-to-grab ideas‚ and up-to-date, too, dealing with stuff like a spouse stuck on technology. Great where self-help is popular.

Rosenblatt, Roger. Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 160p. ISBN 9780062084033. pap. $12.99. MEMOIR/GRIEF
Esteemed journalist/author Rosenblatt won acclaim and New York Times bestsellerdom with Making Toast: A Family Story, which explained how after his daughter’s death he and his wife moved in with their son-in-law to help raise their grandchildren. Here, he reflects on the very nature of grief, something none of us can escape. That alone makes the book valuable, but this will be more penetrating and better written than your standard self-help stuff. To wit: You can’t always make your way in the world by moving up. Or down, for that matter. Boats move laterally. Boats and water. They are two of the three great levelers.

Scroggins, Deborah. Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror; The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780060898977. $25.99. CURRENT EVENTS
Originally scheduled for September 2011 and featured as a Pick in 3/14/11, this workprofiles two very different Muslim women, Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch Parliament, fiercely critical of Islam, and Pakistani-born, American-educated Aafia Siddiqui, reputedly a radical Islamist aligned with al-Qaeda.

Smith, Kevin. Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Gotham: Penguin Group. Jan. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781592406890. $25. CD: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR
Funnyman and film power Smith did good enough to have produced the Academy Award‚ winning Good Will Hunting; he’s also directed a bunch of films and currently cohosts SModcast on Sirius/XM radio. Among the issues he will discuss: the Tenets of Buellerism and why it’s fun to eat but not to be fat. With 500,000 Facebook fans and 1.8 million Twitter followers, he will have readers.

Taubman, Philip. The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest To Ban the Bomb. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780061744006. $27.99. CURRENT EVENTS
Obsessed as we are right now with debt and recession, high temperatures and phone hacking, we tend to forget that one of the biggest threats facing us is nuclear Armageddon via terrorist attack. Taubman, twice winner of the George Polk Award for his journalism, here profiles efforts by a group of Cold Warriors‚ all implicated in the creation of the U.S nuclear arsenal‚ to counter this threat by encouraging the United States and other nations to rethink their strategic policies. The bipartisan and sometimes contentious group includes Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Sam Nunn, Bill Perry, and Stanford physicist Sidney Drell. Important.

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.