Nonfiction Previews, Jan. 2013, Pt. 4: Tracy Kidder, Michelle Rhee, Ali Smith, and More

Beller, Rachel. Rachel Beller’s Eat To Lose, Eat To Win: Skinny Done Right‚ Shop To Drop Pounds with the Nutritionist Who Gets It. Morrow. Jan. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780062231819. $24.99; eISBN 9780062231826. NUTRITION
Nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, former director of Nutritional Oncology Research and Counseling at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, and coprincipal investigator in the national Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (so, yeah, lots of experience), Beller here takes a show-and-tell approach to her subject. Instead of lists of healthy things to buy, she provides visuals of what’s best so that shoppers can grab and go. With a 75,000-copy first printing and name recognition to boot.

Chomsky, Noah with David Barsamian. Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Metropolitan: Holt. Jan. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780805096156. pap. $16. CD: Macmillan Audio CURRENT EVENTS
Winner of the Lannan Foundation’s 2006 Cultural Freedom Fellowship and the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, Barsamian has been interviewing Chomsky (and other, usually left-leaning thinkers) over several years, which has resulted in books like Occupy the Economy and Class Warfare. Here Basmarian probes Chomsky on current hot-button issues‚ e.g., the future of democracy in the Arab world, the implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the European financial crisis‚ in a way guaranteed to set Tea Partyers’ teeth on edge.

Deen, Bobby & Melissa Clark. From Mama’s Table to Mine: Everybody’s Favorite Comfort Foods at 350 Calories or Less. Ballantine. Jan. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9780345536631. pap. $22. COOKING
Having worked with mama Paula Deen and written three cookbooks with brother Jamie that together have sold nearly 800,000 copies, Deen strikes out on his own. Here he offers 120 recipes, each under 350 calories, featuring Southern-inspired comfort food. The proof of the pudding is that he’s lost 30 pounds munching these treats. Exercises, menus, color photos, and high-fat, low-fat swaps, too. Not just for fans of Deen’s hit TV show, Not My Mama’s Meals, seen on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.

Fisman, Ray & Tim Sullivan. The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office. Twelve: Hachette. Jan. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9780446571593. $26.99. BUSINESS
The logic of the office? One’s initial reaction might be to argue with Fisman, Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise and research director of the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School, and coauthor Sullivan, executive editor of Harvard Business Books. Their aim, though, is to explain not only how corporations work, including inevitable tradeoffs and the various the roles played by everyone from the mail guy to the CEO, but how they ought to work, so that the mail guy, the cubicle gal, and more will see how they can effectively influence the Org.

Heat-Moon, William Least. Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road. Little, Brown. Jun. 2013. 432p. ISBN 9780316110242. $29.99. TRAVEL
Since the publication of Blue Highways, Heat-Moon has been our go-to guy when we want to travel the back roads of any country. This retrospective gathers his best short-form travel writing, taking us from Long Island and Arizona to England, Italy, Japan, and more. Check out if you’ve got armchair travelers.

Kidder, Tracy & Richard Todd. Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction. Random. Jan. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781400069750. $26; eISBN 9780679604723. WRITING
When Pulitzer Prize winner Kidder was writing his first assignment for the Atlantic Monthly in 1973, he met Atlantic editor Todd, whose job was to make the writing better. From that grew a close friendship (even now, they don’t live far away from each other) and, ultimately, this book on how to craft good prose. Not just a style guide; the narrative goes deep into the principles of the thing while bringing in discussion of both authors’ careers. Ha, bet I could use this!

Leverett, Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett. Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic. Metropolitan: Holt. Jan. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780805094190. $28. CURRENT EVENTS
This book was originally scheduled for December 2011, but I guess so much keeps happening that relentless adjustment must be made. Esteemed Middle East analysts who have worked in both the Bush and the Clinton administrations, the authors argue that since Iran is a linchpin in the Middle East and a stable regime supported by much of its population, working with it (going to Tehran) rather than against it would be sound policy. Thought-provoking work from an imprint that handles political issues gleamingly.

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781594487156. $26.95. BUSINESS
Never mind that one in nine Americans actually work in sales, we’re all selling all the time, whether we’re promoting our ideas to the boss, the virtues of studying to our kids, or ourselves to a hot date. The author of the New York Times best-selling Drive and A Whole New Mind wants to make us better at selling whatever we’ve got, arguing that in today’s climate glibness and stretched truths are out. Has he sold you on reading this book?

Prescott, Townes. Total Frat Move. Grand Central. Jan. 2013. 220p. ISBN 9781455515035. $18.99. HUMOR
Originally scheduled for September 2012, this book draws on the raucous website and Twitter feed of the same name and celebrates just how raunchy, lowdown, and, ahem, unstudious frat life has become. Prescott is the (rather glam) pseudonym for a self-described hard-partying rich boy who was among the three Texas State grads who founded the site. Said to make Animal House look quaint; your (total frat) move.

Rhee, Michelle. Radical: Fighting To Put Students First. Harper: HarperCollins. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780062203984. $27.99; eISBN 9780062204004. EDUCATION
From inner-city school teacher, to chancellor of the Washington, DC, school system, cover of Time magazine, and Oprah appearances, to founder of the advocacy organization StudentsFirst, Rhee has risen far and fast, courting controversy all the way. (Earlier this year, the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General began investigating whether Washington school officials cheated to raise standardized test scores during Rhee’s reign.) Here, Rhee tells her story while outlining ways to improve our educational system‚ and, given the importance of the issue, it’s worth reading the book, whatever we think of Rhee. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Shore, Marci. The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe. Crown. Jan. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9780307888815. $27. CURRENT EVENTS
An associate professor of intellectual history at Yale who has spent much of her adult life in Eastern and Central Europe, Shore takes us from Berlin to Moscow, Prague to Bratislava, Warsaw to Bucharest, and Vilnius to Kiev to show us how citizens of formerly Communist regimes have fared in the post-Communist world. It’s not all roses as Communists and dissidents, interrogators and interrogated sort through past trauma and reconcile themselves to a brave (and often equally traumatic) new world. A crucially interesting topic, and since Shore’s Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism won eight prizes, here’s betting that this book will be good. Another book I can’t wait to read.

Smith, Ali. Artful. Penguin Pr: Penguin Group (USA). Jan. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781594204869. $25.95. LITERATURE
Whitbread Award winner for The Accidental, Smith is an outrageously original novelist who here turns outrageously original thinker in a series of ruminations originally given as the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, in February 2012. Both fiction and essay, the book features a narrator haunted (literally) by a former lover who once wrote a series of lectures on art and literature. In a dialog between the two, Smith examines storytelling in all its manifestations, moving from cave paintings to Dickens to movie musicals. Really exciting for the culture hungry; can’t wait to read.

Stockman, David. The Great Deformation: How Crony Capitalism Corrupted Free Markets and Democracy. PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jan. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781586489120. $29.99. BUSINESS
Director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan years, supply-sider Stockman helped give us Reaganonics. Today, he’s critical of folks on both sides of political divide who have interfered with the economy. Discussing his book with Bill Moyers, he described crony capitalism as the aggressive and proactive use of political resources, lobbying, campaign contributions, influence-peddling of one type or another to gain something from the governmental process that wouldn’t otherwise be achievable in the market. Definitely not a believer that anything is too big to fail, then, and not writing for knee-jerkers of any persuasion.

Wilentz, Amy. Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti. S. & S. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9781451643978. $27. CURRENT EVENTS
While reporting on Haiti, Wilentz‚ author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, among other books, and winner of the Whiting Writers, PEN Martha Albrand Non-Fiction, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal awards‚ fell in love with the place. Here she reports on its struggle to rise after the devastating 2010 earthquake, profiling a remarkable cast of characters that include a musician running for president, movie stars who become aid workers, aid workers who go off the rails, and more. Even the title is mesmerizing.

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.