Nonfiction Previews, Apr. 2012, Pt. 2: Oklahoma City and Loung Ung's Life After the Killing Fields

Cowen, Tyler. An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Dutton. Apr. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780525952664. $26.95. FOOD/ECONOMICS
Get ready for a shock: local food may taste better, but it’s not necessarily better for the environment. And food that is cheap is not necessarily bad for you. Probably no one knows this better than Cowen, author of the New York Times bestselling e-book The Great Stagnation, the big economics blog Marginal Revolution (small steps toward a much better world), and the foodie blog Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide (all food is ethnic food). Lots of interesting topics, e.g., why packed restaurants serve iffy fare, and who can complain about better-tasting, cheaper, more environmentally friendly food? There’s an audience.

Dratch, Rachel. Girl Walks into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781592407118. $26. MEMOIR
Those who like to laugh know Dratch for her work as a Saturday Night Live cast member, her turn with the Second City comedy troupe, and her numerous stage and theater roles. But this is not a celebrity tell-all; it’s an account of some personal ups and downs, remedied by an unexpected and untraditional motherhood. For fans and anyone who loves untraditional mothers.

Faber, Urijah with Tim Keown. The Laws of the Ring. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9780062112408. $25.99. MEMOIR/SPORTS
Headliner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Former featherweight champion of World Extreme Cagefighting. Branded purveyor of a clothing line and numerous sponsorships. In case you didn’t know, Faber (aka the California Kid‚ he’s from Sacramento and looks like a surfer) is a mixed martial arts superstar with a 100,000 Twitter followers to his name. This book is part life story, part Zen-like meditation on attaining self-awareness, and part self-help‚ who knows, maybe Faber’s insights will help the rest of us in our out-of-the-ring fights. But probably best directed to MMA fans, who are legion, as the 100,000-copy first printing suggests.

Finland, Glen. Next Stop: A Son with Autism Grows Up. Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399158605. $25.95. PSYCHOLOGY
Finland, a former reporter with an MFA from American University, chronicles her sometimes touching, sometimes funny experiences raising autistic son David and what life is like now that he’s grown and still living with her and her husband. So many books address the autistic child, but fewer consider the next stop, so strongly consider this book.

Gumbel, Andrew & Roger Charles. Oklahoma City. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780061986444. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CURRENT EVENTS
Gumbel has been writing about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing for over ten years. Charles was a consultant for ABC’s 20/20 1996‚ 97 coverage of the bombing. Both are award-winning investigative journalists, and Charles is also a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. So we should pay attention when they argue that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone but were part of a disaffected antigovernment militia. To make their case, the authors draw on exclusive material from Nichols, unreleased tapings of neo-Nazi leaders, and confidential informant reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. With a 100,000-copy first printing and likely of considerable import; I hope people will listen.

Hampton, Kelle. Bloom Finding Beauty in the Unexpected: A Memoir. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780062045034. $24.99; eISBN 9780062045058. MEMOIR
After giving birth, Hampton realized immediately that little Nella had Down syndrome. But it’s a wise parent who knows that you love the child you get, and Hampton overcame her fear and pain to become an advocate for Nella‚ and for all individuals with Down syndrome. Since 2007, her award-winning blog, Enjoying the Small Things (, has had more than 15.4 million page views and more than 6.8 million unique visitors, attracting visitors from almost 200 countries. Hampton doesn’t repeat her blog posts but instead revisits her first year with Nella. There are parents out there who will need this, and other readers who should be interested and moved. With a 75,000-copy first printing; a good purchase.

Humes, Ed. Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781583334348. $26. SOCIAL SCIENCE
Humes, a Pulitzer Prize‚ winning journalist whose 11 nonfiction titles range in coverage from Wal-Mart to juvenile court to the GI Bill, here takes on‚Ķgarbage? In fact, there’s a whole science to how we get rid of stuff we don’t want and a whole bunch of cultish folks fascinated with the process. Sure this could get readers; think of all those Mary Roach fans.

James, Eloisa. Paris in Love. Random. Apr. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9781400069569. $25; eISBN 9780679604440. MEMOIR
By day, James is actually Mary Bly, daughter of poet Robert Bly and associate professor and head of the creative writing department at Fordham University. By night, she’s the New York Times best-selling author of 24 exquisitely written historical romances. This memoir, which grew out of a series of tweets (who says Twitter is ephemeral?), discusses the year James spent with her family in Paris after she survived both cancer and the death of her mother. James is a smart and exceptional writer in any genre, Paris is the dream city for escape, and this should be excellent.

Lawson, Jenny. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir). Amy Einhorn: Putnam. Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9780399159015. $25.95. MEMOIR/HUMOR
She’s famed on the Internet as the Bloggess (like Mother Teresa, only better) and also writes an (I hope) tongue-in-check parenting column and a self-styled satirical sex column that must be sizzly because my office computer denies me access. Here, Lawson revisits her rural Texas childhood‚ basically like Little House on the Prairie‚ but with much more cursing. With lots of media attention expected and comparisons to Chelsea Handler and the Sedaris siblings, this book is one to watch. And see if you can get into that column.

Prager, Dennis. Still the Last Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values To Triumph. Broadside: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780061985126. $25.99; eISBN 9780062097811. CURRENT EVENTS
Heard on 120 stations nationwide, Prager plumps for American values‚ liberty, natural rights, and the melting-pot ideal of national unity‚ which he sets against four basic alternatives: Islamic totalitarianism, European-style democratic socialism, state-run capitalism (as in China), and chaos. Those who remember the controversy surrounding Prager’s accusations regarding Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (did he swear an oath on the Qu’ran?) will wonder about this book. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Roberts, Geoffrey. Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov. Random. Apr. 2012. 448p. ISBN 9781400066926. $30; eISBN 9780679645177. BIOGRAPHY
Anyone even faintly acquainted with World War II history knows the names Eisenhower, Patton, and Montgomery, and Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov’s name belongs with theirs. In fact, some scholars argue that Zhukov‚ marshal of the Soviet Union as of 1943 and hence a key player at the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk, which decisively stopped the German drive forward‚ effectively won the war for the Allies. Roberts, a history professor at University College Cork who has written extensively about the war in Russia, should deliver a thoroughgoing biography for lay reader and scholar alike.

Rolls, Barbara J. The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9780062060648. $27.50. DIET
The Volumetrics diet cuts down on calories but not on portions, so desperate dieters still feel full. It must work; three previous titles have all been New York Times best sellers, and the diet itself has been ranked among the top programs around by venues as various as Consumer Reports and the Daily Beast. This latest (though how can it be ultimate, as there will be more) offers 105 recipes within 35 food categories so that dieters can personalize their intake. All we need is the motivation; with a 100,000-copy first printing.

Samuels, Allison (text) & Meg Hess (illus.). What Would Michelle Do? A Modern Day Guide to Living with Substance and Style. Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781592407088. $23. STYLE
When Michelle Obama was at Princeton, and then at Harvard Law School, and then doing her law-firm and city-government work, I wonder if she knew that she would be a fashion and life-style icon to millions. This is an idea book showing how you can make the First Lady’s sense of style all your own. Fruitfully read with Mikki Taylor’s Commander in Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady, coming from Atria in November.

Savage, Michael. Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama’s Dreams of a Socialist America. Morrow. Apr. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780062083975. $26.99. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. CURRENT EVENTS
Host of the No. 3 radio program in the nation, heard by nearly eight million listeners a week and syndicated across the U.S. in over 300 markets, Savage continues his rant against Barack Lenin. Not a book to make everyone happy, but the 250,000-copy first printing and one-day laydown on April 3 indicates that the audience will be large.

Schonwald, Josh. The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food. HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780061804212. $24.95. FOOD
From Alice Waters’s microfarm to bioengineering and nanotechnology‚ seen by some as a way to eliminate hunger‚ Schonwald’s book explores how we’ll be eating tomorrow. Not one to see bioengineered food as a bad thing, Schonwald might be kicking up a bit of controversy here. Read with Tyler Cowen’s An Economist Gets Lunch, this book should give you much, ahem, food for thought.

Schuler, Lou & Alwyn Cosgrove. The New Rules of Lifting For Life: An All New Muscle Building, Fat Blasting Plan for Men and Women Who Want To Ace Their Midlife Exams. Avery: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781583334133. $28. FITNESS
I flunked my midlife exams, but never mind. The New Rules for Lifting books having been doing nicely, selling in the 80,000-plus range each, and this fourth in the series aims to help aging lifters who will hurt themselves if they work too hard and get all fat and flabby if they don’t work hard enough. Wherever you have a population in need.

Ung, Loung. Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing, and Double Happiness. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. Apr. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780062091918. pap. $14.99. MEMOIR
Ung concludes the heartrending trilogy begun with First They Killed My Father, a 2001 Asian/Pacific ALA Association Award winner that relates how she lost most of her family to Cambodia’s killing fields. Lucky Child continued the story with her experiences as a refugee in Vermont, and this new book captures her college experiences and move into adulthood‚ and some tentative happiness. Ung has been featured in all the top media, and you’ll be hearing more about her; she’s contributed her story to 10×10, a documentary film conceived and directed by Academy Award‚ nominated director Richard E. Robbins that chronicles the lives of ten girls from ten countries. Check out the film and the related social action campaign; LJ book reviewer and Smithsonian BookDragon blogger Terry Hong serves on the advisory board.

Williams, Vanessa & Helen Williams. You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other). Gotham: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2012. NAp. ISBN 9781592407071. $27. MEMOIR
The former Miss America and Desperate Housewives star speaks up about work, love, and life with mom. Refreshingly not a Mommie Dearest; buy for your celeb followers.

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.