Chris Pavone, Helen Oyeyemi, & NYU Professor Conley’s Take on Parenting | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2014, Pt. 4

Conley, Dalton. Parentology: Everything You Wanted To Know About the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted To Ask. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476712659. $25. PARENTING
Conley stars in two disciplines, sociology and biology, and has three appointments at NYU: in the sociology department and at the School of Medicine and the Wagner School of Public Service. He’s also chair of the Children and Youth Section of the American Sociological Association. So when it came to raising his own children, he wasn’t about to listen to the tiger moms of the world, instead relying on scientific studies with some unusual results. For instance, he gave his children offbeat names because evidence suggests that it would teach them impulse control (they’d learn not to react to teasing) and skipped the ADHD medicine the school anxiously prescribed for his son because placebos were shown to have virtually the same effect. In the end, Conley argues that what matters most is engagement rather than rules. Heartening, think-outside-the-box stuff that all parents could use.

Gabaldon, Diana. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. Delacorte. Mar. 2014. Dec. 2013. 1008p. ISBN 9780385344432. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780440246442. HISTORICAL FICTION/TIME TRAVEL
When this book was bumped from December 2013, fans were in an uproar. (I already featured it a few months back.) It’s finally set, with readers getting to time-travel to revolutionary Philadelphia, where Jamie Fraser joins wife Claire Randall as the redcoats march into town—a doubtless unnerving sight for our Scottish hero. Going strong after 20 years—Outlander, the initial title, still sells more than 4100 copies a month—this series is getting a big boost with ongoing backlist promotion, the development of a television series for Starz, and the fall release of an ebook bundle featuring the seven previous Outlander novels.

Goldstein, Rebecca. Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away. Pantheon. Mar. 2014. 464p. ISBN 9780307378194. $29.95. PHILOSOPHY
A philosopher, MacArthur Fellow, award-winning novelist (e.g., the Whiting Writer’s Award for The Dark Sister), and an award-winning author of nonfiction (e.g., the Koret International Jewish Book Award for Betraying Spinoza), Goldstein is all those things and more, always delivering something exciting for inquiring minds. Here, she imagines Plato brought to life in the 21st century, hashing out challenges from Fox News on religion and morality, keeping Freudians and tiger moms from coming to blows, and wondering why crowdsourcing trumps experts. C’mon, philosophy is fun, and it sells. Think Daniel Dennett, Alain de Botton, Jim Holt, Tom Cathcart and Daniel Klein (Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar)….

Hussey, Andrew. The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and Its Arabs. Faber & Faber. Mar. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780865479210. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780374711665. HISTORY
Since Napoleon cast his eyes beyond the Mediterranean, France has had a complex and sometimes painful relationship with the Muslim world of North Africa; the descendants of the Empire’s many subjects now crowded into the banlieus of rich French cities protest a continuing legacy of oppression and discrimination. Dean of the University of London Institute in Paris, Hussey blends in personal experience while giving us an important lesson that’s relevant beyond France. In fact, it’s astonishing that this book hasn’t been written before. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Korelitz, Jean Hanff, You Should Have Known. Grand Central. Mar. 2014. 448p. ISBN 9781455599493. $26. POP FICTION/FAMILY LIFE
Enthusiasm has been building steadily for this new work from the author of Admission, basis of the Tina Fey film. Happily married counselor Grace Reinhart Sachs is about to promote her relationship book advising women to listen more closely to their mates when she’s thrown by the murder of a school mum outside her social circle and the inability to reach husband Jonathan, who’s away on business. Has she been failing to listen to Jonathan? A standard setup, perhaps, but Korelitz aims at both mystery and psychological study. With a 75,000-copy first printing.

Oyeyemi, Helen. Boy, Snow, Bird. Riverhead. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781594631399. $27.95. LITERARY FICTION
One of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists and a 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award winner for her most recent novel, Mr. Fox, Oyeyemi here rethinks the Snow White fairytale. Just don’t expect anything like Kristen Stewart’s The Huntsman. In winter 1953, a New York lass named Boy lands in small-town Massachusetts and marries a local widower with a lovely daughter named Snow Whitman. When Boy’s own daughter, Bird, is born, she has dark skin, revealing that the Whitmans are African Americans passing as white. How will the family deal with mounting prejudice, and is Boy an evil stepmother? Big in-house excitement for another original novel from Oyeyemi.

Pavone, Chris. The Accident. Crown. Mar. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780385348454. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780385348461. lrg. prnt. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. THRILLER
Literary agent Isabel Reed has a manuscript that’s fired up a pretty big crowd: her assistant, looking to shine; a rights director, looking for one last golden opportunity; a grandiose film producer; an uncertain publisher; a star editor who is Isabel’s oldest, dearest friend; and a ruthless CIA operative in Copenhagen, who’s determined to suppress the manuscript. Its author is a Zurich expat wanting to make amends, and the secrets spilled include some about Isabel. Pavone’s debut, The Expats, was a New York Times best seller and an Edgar Award winner. A repeat performance?


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. Karl Helicher says:

    I met Dalton Conley about a dozen years ago at a BEA when his excellent memoir, HONKY was gettting a lot of good press. He has come a long way. He looked like Opie Taylor and I enthusiastically told him “that for such a young snot, he wrote a good book.” He still autographed my copy.