Works by two contemporary best-selling authors and a classic re-issue top this week's paperback releases:
By Michael Lewis
Norton • $16.95 • ISBN 9780393351590
Lewis provides an eye-opening account of the revolt by a group of Wall Street rebels who decided the financial markets were rigged and set out to expose the chicanery.
The One & Only
By Emily Giffin
Ballantine • $16 • ISBN 9780345546906
Shea has a crush on the football coach in her college town; unfortunately, he's also her best friend's father. In Giffin's hands, this story of football heroes and unexpected romance offers an insightful look at a young woman finding her way.
The Power and the Glory
By Graham Greene
Penguin Classics • $18 • ISBN 9780143107552
If (like me) you've always intended to read Greene's masterpiece but haven't gotten around to it, here's your chance: This 75th anniversary edition includes an introduction by the late John Updike. Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 best novels of the past century, Greene's book chronicles the struggles of a Mexican Catholic priest persecuted by government authorities.
Take a guess (without peeking) which book soared to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list this week. The Girl on the Train? The latest from James Patterson? Erik Larson’s gripping narrative about the sinking of the Lusitania?
Nope. The hottest seller on Amazon is a financial advice book by an economics professor and two journalists—Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security. The surging demand for the book stems from two factors: the complexity of Social Security benefits and the swelling tide of aging Americans, all determined to “get what’s coming to them,” in other words, the most they can possibly collect in Social Security benefits.
The book’s three co-authors packed its 300-plus pages with crucial strategies to follow, details on when to begin taking benefits, advice for the married, the divorced and the widowed, and helpful lists like “25 Bad-News Gotchas That Can Reduce Your Benefits Forever.” All three authors have credentials to back up their recommendations: Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University, Philip Moeller is an award-winning financial journalist and Paul Solman is economics correspondent for “PBS NewsHour.”
The idea for the book sprang from a chat between tennis buddies Larry (Kotlikoff) and Paul (Solman). As recounted in the book’s first chapter, Solman thought he had a solid plan for maximizing benefits for himself and his wife. But Kotlikoff suggested a different route (taking spousal benefits), which eventually led to almost $50,000 in extra benefits for the couple. Shouldn’t everyone have a chance to do what Paul and his wife did? Why, yes, they should, the authors argue, and that’s why they set out to share what they’ve learned about Social Security and its arcane rules.
Though the hardcover edition of Get What’s Yours is currently sold out on Amazon, it’s still in stock at some other vendors; eBook and audio versions are also available.
Last week, the National Book Critics Circle honored six authors for their excellent books published in 2014. The committee of book critics voted on the best books of the last year, and these are the results:
Fiction: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
General Nonfiction: The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis
Autobiography: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Biography: Tennessee Williams by John Lahr
Criticism: The Essential Ellen Willis by Ellen Willis
Poetry: Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Additionally, the John Leonard Prize for excellence in first books was received by Phil Klay for his debut, Redeployment, and Toni Morrison was honored with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for her significant contribution to the literary world. And, because this is a critics' award after all, Alexandra Schwartz won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
History buffs and thrill seekers will both find something to like in this week's paperback releases:
By Hilary Mantel
Picador • $16 • ISBN 9781250077585
This new tie-in edition of Mantel’s award-winning Tudor novel marks the April 5 debut of a six-part TV adaptation on PBS.
When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-44
By Ronald C. Rosbottom
Back Bay • $18 • ISBN 9780316217439
What was it really like to live in Paris while German forces occupied the city? Rosbottom, a professor of French at Amherst, gives a riveting portrait of the occupied and the occupiers in this meticulously researched account.
The Burning Room
By Michael Connelly
Grand Central • $16 • ISBN 978145552419
The latest entry in the acclaimed Harry Bosch series follows the LAPD detective and his rookie partner as they investigate a perplexing murder case in which the victim died nine years after being shot.
By Daniel H. Wilson
Vintage • $15.95 • 97803458043891
The sequel to the best-selling sci-fi thriller Robopocalyse asks the important question: Can the human race overcome a robot uprising?
Big news for Fall 2015: Jojo Moyes will publish a sequel to her blockbuster 2013 hit, Me Before You, on September 29. After You (Pamela Dorman) continues the story of Lou Clarke, a working-class girl whose unlikely romance with wealthy, wheelchair-bound Will Traynor changed her life forever.
Moyes credits her work on the script for the film adaptation of Me Before You (due in 2016) for her continued interest in the characters' lives, adding, "It has been such a pleasure revisiting Lou and her family, and the Traynors, and confronting them with a whole new set of issues. As ever, they have made me laugh, and cry. I hope readers feel the same way at meeting them again."
Moyes' British publisher has posted a brief trailer here, complete with a specially commissioned song. Are you looking forward to this one?
On the eve of her wedding, a young woman wonders if she's ready to commit to her picture-perfect fiancé.
A lonely, overweight 20-something is working a dead-end job as an advice columnist when someone unexpected enters her life and shakes things up.
These may sound like stories you've read before. But this summer, two fearless debut novelists are pushing the boundaries, releasing female-centered stories that blend dark twists and searing social commentary.
Lily Wilder, the narrator of Eliza Kennedy's I Take You (Crown, May), is doubting her decision to marry—but not for the reasons you'd expect. Lily, a successful lawyer, isn't afraid that the ceremony won't be perfect, that she's not good enough for Will or that he'll run out on her: She's worried that marriage will cramp her not-exactly-monogamous lifestyle.
And Plum Kettle, the overweight protagonist of Sarai Walker's Dietland (HMH, June)? The person she meets who changes her life isn't a man, but a mysterious young woman who initiates the virtually housebound Plum (who is planning on having bariatric surgery) into a secret society of guerrilla fighters who are committing terrorist acts against the patriarchy. (No surprise, The Sun's page 3 is among the targets.)
Both Lily and Plum are heroines who lie outside the social norms. Lily loves her fiancé, Will, but she also loves sex—lots of it. She isn't sure if she can change that about herself, or if she even wants to, even though by accepting his proposal she's signed on to try.
Likewise, Plum is not conventionally beautiful–and maybe not even unconventionally beautiful, although it's hard to tell since Plum is only ever described through her own very critical eyes. All her life, Plum has defined herself by her weight, spending years on thankless diets waiting for her skinny self—whom she calls Alicia—to emerge so she can finally start living.
Still, it's not entirely unusual for stories to start out with women who don't conform to the norms. After all, that's why their lives aren't perfect, right? As the pages turn, you're waiting for the moment when Lily and Plum transform, become what society expects—which makes you realize just how well-trodden the tropes of women's fiction can be. But as Dietland and I Take You approach their very different but equally satisfying conclusions, it becomes clear that this isn't the point. Plum and Lily aren't the ones who need to change—the world is.
These two daring debuts introduce authors who have something to say.
It's still early in 2015, but at least one unknown female author has already rocketed to the top of bestseller lists (we're looking at you, Paula Hawkins!). Which other women will join her this year? Here's our list of the top 10 candidates.
THE FAIR FIGHT
Riverhead • April 14
Fans of authors like Sarah Waters and Michel Faber will thrill to Anna Freeman's debut, The Fair Fight, an exciting historical novel set in the little-known world of women's bare-knuckle boxing. Yes, in 1800s England, women—at least, some women—were allowed to escape the confines of the home to fight for prizes that were twice the annual salary of a housemaid (one of the few occupations for women at the time). But Freeman, who is a poet and lectures in English at Bath Spa University, goes beyond the blood splatters and missing teeth to take a broader look at the limitations of class and gender, encouraging readers to ponder who (if any) among her characters is given a fair fight.
Thomas Dunne • April 21
An artful mix of suspense, fantasy and social critique, Emily Schultz's The Blondes puts a feminist twist on the dystopian stories that have been crowding fiction shelves for the last several years. It's the near future in New York City, and grad student Hazel is pregnant after an affair with a married man. She's also confined to the house thanks to a mysterious virus that is turning blonde women into cold-blooded killers (luckily, Hazel is a natural redhead). Now blondes are no longer the butt of jokes but the world's worst nightmare. Schultz's work has been praised by the likes of Margaret Atwood and Stephen King (who gave an unwitting bump to her first novel, Joyland, when he published a book by the same name)—look for The Blondes to be embraced by an equally diverse group of readers.
Pamela Dorman • May 5
Retellings of Jane Eyre are not exactly thin on the ground (see 1 2 3 4), but Queens-born writer Patricia Park takes a fresh tack in her debut, Re Jane. She casts the quiet but strong-willed heroine as a mixed-race Korean orphan living with relatives in 2001 Flushing—and that's just the first twist Park puts on her decidedly 21st-century, girl-power take on the beloved classic, which sends its heroine from Brooklyn to Gangam and back again. Park, a Korean-American who spent time in Seoul on a Fulbright scholarship and has studied under the novelist Ha Jin, expertly details the cultural divides facing her heroine, adding another dimension to a tale that might otherwise seem too familiar.
GIRL AT WAR
Random House • May 12
It's impossible for those who have not experienced civil war to truly know what it's like—and that's one of the themes of 28-year-old Sara Nović's sensitive debut novel, Girl at War. Moving back and forth between 1991 Croatia and 2001 New York City, the story follows main character Ana as she survives a dangerous childhood and attempts to transition to a new family and culture in the United States. Nović's descriptions of Ana's wartime childhood convey how war can be both shocking and mundane as violence becomes part of everyday life. Girl at War was acquired and edited by Random House's David Ebershoff, who knows his talent: He was the editor of not one but two of the 2013 Pulitzer winners (The Orphan Master's Son and Embers of War).
Amistad • May 26
Novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez's 2010 debut, Wench, was a word-of-mouth hit with readers and explored a lesser-known corner of American history: the resorts where plantation owners would vacation with their enslaved mistresses. Her long-awaited second novel, Balm, takes an equally unflinching look at America's past and should bring this talented writer to an even bigger audience. Set in post-Civil War Chicago, it follows three strangers—a widowed white woman, a freeborn black woman from Tennessee and a former slave whose wife was sold away from him before the war—who move to the city for a chance to start over but are unable to completely shed their pasts.
THE BOOK OF SPECULATION
St. Martin's • June 23
Erika Swyler's debut, The Book of Speculation, is a bookish mystery with a supernatural twist. In a dilapidated house on Long Island Sound, librarian Simon Watson presides over a crumbling family legacy—until the day an old book arrives on his doorstep. It's the journal of a carnival owner, and it's connected to the drowning death of Simon's mother. Can he solve the mystery before his sister meets the same fate? Swyler, who has written short fiction and worked as a playwright, probes the bonds of sibling love and loyalty with the same authenticity she brings to the book's more magical elements, giving the novel surprising depth. Fans of family sagas with a touch of the fantastic should flock to it.
Harper • July 28
TV producer and author Lissa Evans is well known in her native England (fellow Brit Paula Hawkins is a fan), but this summer she's being published for the first time in the U.S. Crooked Heart is her fourth novel, and her second for an adult audience. Set during World War II, it follows a 10-year-old orphan who's a crime novel aficionado. He's evacuated during the Blitz and rehomed with Vera Sedge, a down-on-her-luck single mother with a penchant for money-making schemes, and the two form an unlikely bond. Their odd-couple friendship will appeal to readers of books like Lost & Found, and Evans' authentic period tone evokes the subtle charm of midcentury classics like I Capture the Castle.
Touchstone • August 18
Susan Barker made the 2008 longlist for the Dylan Thomas Prize with her second novel, The Orientalist and the Ghost, but she's hovered just below most readers' radars. That just might change with the release of The Incarnations, a suspenseful tour through Chinese history and folklore that was described as "China's Midnight's Children" when it was published in the U.K. last year. In modern-day Beijing, Wang, a taxi driver, is being stalked by someone who claims to be his soul mate. As letters appear in his taxi telling the stories of their past lives over the last 1,000 years—all of which end in tragedy or betrayal—Wang's paranoia about his watcher's identity increases, and he begins to wonder if history will repeat itself.
St. Martin's • August 18
Celebrity authors may strike seven-figure deals without breaking a sweat, but for unknown writers, having a book snapped up at a price like that is a little less common. That is just one of the things that makes New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford's first novel, Everybody Rise, a standout. Set in 2006 New York City, the book plumbs the unfailingly popular literary trope of the young and privileged in Manhattan, as seen through the eyes of an imposter in their ranks. The film rights have been secured by Fox 2000.
FSG • October 6
OK, so maybe it's a little sneaky to put an author who's already a bestseller on a list like this. But Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There'd Be Cake) is making a transition from humorous essays to fiction—and I for one am intrigued about how she'll do it. The Clasp is described as "a comedy of manners," which is a novelistic genre that's a perfect match for Crosley's talents. Other intriguing elements include the exploration of how college friendships start to change in your late 20s, a madcap search for a missing family heirloom and a nod to Guy de Maupassant.
Check out our track record by viewing past women to watch lists here.
It looks like July 2015 will be a big month in the publishing world! First, Harper Lee announced that her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, will be out in July, and Random House Children’s Books just revealed that they will publish a newly discovered book from Ted Geisel, aka beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, on July 28.
The book, What Pet Should I Get?, follows the siblings from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish as they try to decide (as the title suggests) what pet they should get. The completed manuscript and illustrations for the book were discovered in fall 2013 by Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel, and his secretary and friend, Claudia Prescott.
Audrey Geisel states, "While undeniably special, it is not surprising to me that we found this because Ted always worked on multiple projects and started new things all the time—he was constantly writing and drawing and coming up with ideas for new stories.”
Cathy Goldsmith, Vice President and associate publisher at Random House Books for Young Readers, worked with Geisel before his death in 1991 and says, “We believe that he wrote and illustrated What Pet Should I Get? somewhere between 1958 and 1962—as the brother and sister in the book are the same as those in his bestselling Beginner Book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish which was published in 1960.” Read more about the book and its discovery here.
Following the opening weekend of Fifty Shades of Grey, we're busy thinking about which book to film adaptations we're most excited to see next! Here's a list of the biggest books coming to screens this Spring.
Next up in theaters is a hilarious and all-too-honest adaptation of YA hit The Duff by Kody Keplinger. Coming to screens on February 20, the cast includes Parenthood star Mae Whitman as Bianca Piper, the awkward "designated ugly fat friend" who is often overshadowed by her traditionally beautiful, skinny best friends . . . until she meets Wesley Rush at a party.
Headed to the screen on March 13 is the adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea. Directed by Ron Howard and sporting an all-star cast that inlcudes Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Wishaw, this terrifying and true account of the sinking of a New England whaling ship in 1820 is sure to be one of the year's biggest films. The attacker, an enraged sperm whale, and the aftermath later served as inspiration for Herman Melville's classic novel, Moby Dick.
The sequel to Veronica Roth's best-selling YA novel Divergent is coming to theaters March 20. Starring Shailene Woodley—whom you may recognize from other hit film adaptations such as The Decendents and The Fault in Our Stars—as Tris Prior, Insurgent is sure to deliver plenty of heart-stopping sci-fi action as her life in a dystopian Chicago is further shaken by an escalating war between her society's factions.
Fans have been waiting a while for Ron Rash's historical Appalachian epic Serena to make its screen debut, but the film finally has a solid release date of March 27. Starring the highly-lauded acting pair of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as George and Serena Pemberton, this film is sure to deliver smoldering romance and a shocking quest for revenge.
What could be better suited for a big-screen treatment than an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery set in Stalin's Russia? Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 hits theaters April 17, with Tom Hardy at the helm as civil servant Leo Demidov who is doggedly investigating a serial killer. The problem is, how is Leo supposed to get to the bottom of an investigation of a crime Stalin refuses to admit even exists in his perfect society?
When was the last time you heard of a more perfect casting than Carrie Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, the brilliant and independent heroine of Thomas Hardy's classic romance, Far From the Madding Crowd? The lush and beautifully directed film will be in theaters May 1. Prepare to have your box of tissues at the ready!
What do you think, readers? Which adaptations are you most excited to see in theaters?