Working at BookPage has a lot of perks, but one of the best, in my opinion, is getting to look at and read great new books before they're even in the stores. This fall will see the publication of plenty of nonfiction sure-to-be-bestsellers. Here are some of the season's highlights:
Laura Hillenbrand, author of the blockbuster hit Seabiscuit, returns on November 16 with a story of adventure and survival during World War II. Unbroken follows young bombardier Louis Zamperini through his incredible ordeal after his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Hillenbrand's long-awaited follow-up to Seabiscuit will not disappoint her legions of fans.
Several excellent new biographies will hit shelves this fall, including Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life (Oct. 5); Jane Leavy's The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood (Oct. 12); Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (Nov. 16); and the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, which goes on sale Nov. 15. Twain left instructions that his memoirs should remain unpublished for 100 years after his death, so that he could feel free to speak his mind frankly. Who knows what revelations those pages might contain?
In other nonfiction news, Bill Bryson is back this season with At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Oct. 5), in which Bryson narrows his focus from A Short History of Nearly Everything to the confines of his own house, while Simon Winchester's Atlantic (Nov. 2) calls itself a "biography" of the Atlantic Ocean, weaving in both historical facts and personal details from Winchester's own experiences at sea. And on Oct. 26, Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia) treads new ground with The Mind's Eye, a collection of essays on the interplay between vision and recognition, reading and communication, and other brainteasers, including Sacks' reflections on his own experience with eye cancer.
And finally, for those looking for a lighter read, Nora Ephron once more taps into the thoughts and concerns of "women of a certain age" with I Remember Nothing (Nov. 9), a follow-up to the major bestseller I Feel Bad About My Neck, while Vicki Myron returns to the subject of her beloved "small-town library cat" with Dewey's Nine Lives (Oct. 12), a collection of stories about and inspired by Dewey.
With so many excellent books to choose from, which one will you read first?
The next few months will bring two books inspired by the life and work of a long-dead French essayist. The first is a straight biography: in How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (Other Press), Sarah Blackwell takes on the literary giant's major question—How to live?—and answers it in 20 different ways based on his work.
Well educated and wealthy, Montaigne retired from society for a long period following the deaths of a daughter (one of six), his brother, his father and a close friend. It was then that he composed his essays in an attempt to understand himself and the world. The witty, intelligent writings had instant appeal and are full of quotable quotes that are still familiar today, such as the title of the second Montaigne biography, When I Am Playing with My Cat, How Do I Know that She Is Not Playing With Me? (Pantheon), coming in March.
Have you read Montaigne? Are you interested?
This expanded version of the popular feature from the print edition of BookPage shares the release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in May. Which May release are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments.
Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush
The highly anticipated memoir from the notoriously
private former first lady. It will also be available as a signed collector's edition.
Tell-All by Chuck Palaniuk
Knopf Doubleday, $24.95
The always edgy author gives his unique take on old Hollywood in a subversive new novel.
Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker
Parker's posthumous Western brings back Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch for some vigilante justice.
Executive Intent by Dale Brown
Morrow, $26.99, ISBN 9780061560859
It’s president against vice president in Brown’s near-future political thriller.
Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson & Peter de Jonge
Little, Brown, $19.99
Patterson and de Jonge pair up for the inspiring story of a man who, at 50, suddenly achieves his life's dream of becoming a professional golfer.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
The final novel in the Millennium Trilogy brings back Lisbeth Salander for more adventure, danger and suspense.
Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Simon & Schuster, $25.99
What happens when normal girls are left behind when their boyfriends hit the big time? They get revenge.
The fall publishing season usually contains at least one blockbuster celeb bio. On the radar for 2010 is Keith Richards' Life, which will be released in October. Little Brown publisher Michael Pietsch calls it "the most exciting memoir I’ve ever had a hand in." He goes on to say
All those encounters and adventures we’ve heard of for decades—Redlands, Morocco, exile in France, Altamont—and the people—Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Gram Parsons, Patti Hansen, Johnny Depp and more—are here in Keith’s own vivid memories. The best news of all is how superbly written this book is. [Richards collaborated with writer James Fox.]
BookPage is proud to present our first video author interview: a Q&A with Thomas Chatterton Williams, author of Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture. His 2007 Washington Post column on the pernicious effects of hip-hop culture on African Americans was based on his own experience, and the book is both personal and universal as it chronicles Williams' youthful struggle between the worlds of street cred and college credits.
Friend of BookPage Stephenie Harrison came up with a few brilliant questions for the Penguin Press publicity department to ask Williams during a visit to their NYC offices. His answers are sure to make you think.
One of the more unusual titles going on sale this week is Three Wishes: A Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Motherhood. Written by three friends, the memoir chronicles their unusual path to motherhood. All three were single and pushing 40. All three had made the decision to go the sperm donor route. And as soon as they did, all three met a man and had a child the old-fashioned way.
Today we're featuring a Behind the Book story from authors Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand, explaining why they felt compelled to tell their tale to readers.
As Goldberg puts it, "They say you write the book you need to read; I was doing that, writing just what I would have liked to read as a single woman facing a harsh biological deadline, looking for role models and inspiration."
Continue reading the story behind Three Wishes here.
Between a whirlwind trip to NYC and her departure for PLA (if you're there, check out BookPage at booth #1100), our associate publisher Julia Steele passed along a book recommendation for Book Case readers: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. "It made me cry. On the plane!" Is there a higher recommendation? (Maybe books that make me cry in the office . . .)
Written with Delphine Munoui, and first published in France, Nujood Ali's story is almost too incredible to be true. With no support from her family, this little girl from Yemen took the money her parents had given her to buy bread and went to to the courthouse to petition for a divorce from her abusive husband, who was more than three times her age. Given the subtitle, it's obvious that Nujood gets her wish, but the convoluted system she must fight to reach her goal makes this a fascinating read. Nujood was, until recently, the youngest divorced person ever, but she has now inspired a handful of girls in similar circumstances to make a bid for freedom. Her story has been told by major news outlets like Time and The New York Times.
Julia's passing the book on to her college-aged daughter next—it would definitely be a great selection for a mother-daughter book club.