Scholastic is boasting—and justifiably so—about the news that Suzanne Collins' teen novel Catching Fire is now the best-selling book in the country for any age group, according to bestseller lists just released by USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. This sequel to The Hunger Games is obviously drawing many adult readers, including several in our office who rave about this fast-paced read and its appealing young heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Though she won the Hunger Games, Katniss must face new problems in book two as she begins the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour.
Collins is working on the third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy and has done very few interviews for Catching Fire. We're happy to report that BookPage was one of the lucky few—you can read our Q&A with the author in the September issue.
And speaking of lucky: we have a copy of Catching Fire for one lucky reader. Leave a comment below no later than Monday, Sept. 14, mentioning your favorite heroine in a book, and you'll be entered in the drawing to win!
As the time for Oprah to make her 63rd book club pick draws near (September 18, if you haven't heard), we're digging deeper to try to figure out what the world's most influential reader has chosen.
The audio version of #63 offers some useful clues, if online listings can be trusted. Ingram says it's a 3-CD set. Barnes and Noble goes further, saying the audio is 2 hours and 45 minutes, unabridged. If correct, this short length limits the original Pub Lunch list somewhat—only The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man by Thomas Fink and Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt are anywhere close to short enough to fit on 3 CDs unabridged. We also dug up two other contenders, both published at $23.99 in hardcover by Little, Brown:
Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione
The publisher's synopsis says this guide to achieving inner peace brings an "11th-century Tibetan woman's practice to the West for the first time."
Sway by Zachary Lazar
This loosely plotted novel that chronicles of some of the biggest events in the 1960s (the early days of the Rolling Stones; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers) would certainly be a different sort of pick for Oprah. It's just 272 pages, but audio versions of novels tend to be longer so this might not be a contender after all.
Of these, my money's on The Man Book (which would be a true departure for Oprah, whose previous selections have been as female-oriented as her audience). Think the audio listing can be trusted?
In a long article, the Wall Street Journal investigates the "new" trend of Amish fiction, and the surprising popularity of romances that aren't bodice-rippers:
Publishers attribute the books' popularity to their pastoral settings and forbidden love scenarios à la Romeo and Juliet. Lately, the genre has expanded to include Amish thrillers and murder mysteries. Most of the authors are women.
Christian fiction is expanding its horizons all the time, and typical Christian fiction readers tend to be more conservative and nostalgic, so it's not that surprising that the genre has caught on. And as Sharon Marchese told us last year, perhaps readers "can imagine a 'loftier' romantic story for these people who still travel by buggy."
Any Amish fiction fans out there? Personally, the genre hasn't hooked me yet, despite my childhood love of the Little House books and the esoteric details of pioneer life they contained. Feel free to tell me what I'm missing.
News on the wire today is that James Patterson, blockbuster writer extraordinaire, has signed a multi-book deal with Hachette. How many books, you ask? An astonishing 17...and perhaps the craziest thing about that figure is that those 17 books (11 for adults, 6 for kids) will only take Patterson readers through 2012.
Patterson is one of the authors who taught publishers that putting out more than one book a year doesn't mean over-saturating the market. Writing several series in several genres helps, and I have to wonder: does anyone read everything Patterson writes? Or do you pick and choose series or genres? Patterson fans, let us know in the comments. And don't miss our Patterson reviews and interviews here!
Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger has a new novel on the list for this spring. On May 25, 2010, Weiseberger fans can enjoy the as-yet-untitled story of a woman who supports her rock-star partner until he hits the big time, only to be dumped for a Brazilian supermodel. Not content to go quietly, our heroine meets a group of other women in the same boat—women who, as the catalog copy puts it, have been "dumped for the bitch of success and are hell bent on revenge." I thought Prada was entertaining, but made a better movie than a book, mostly due to the performances of Hathaway and Streep—but this premise sounds refreshingly different from her last two novels, which followed the general girl-wants-boy chick lit formula. How about you?
Julia Steele, BookPage Associate Publisher
Just listened to Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It's a great story set during the gold rush years and takes the reader from Chile to China to the new world full of 'easy gold.' The audio is read by Blair Brown, and she does a wonderful job—I will read or listen to more books by this author. Next I'll be starting on People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks for my book club—I think it will make for great discussion.
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs is on my bedside table —I read a chapter every once in a while when I need a laugh. Jacobs is a journalist who has made his living turning his life into an experiment. In this book he outsources his life to India, poses as a beautiful woman on match.com, tries being “radically honest” at all times, and poses nude—among other things. It’s the perfect book to read in a chunk at a time.
Ok, I admit it—I’ve been a bad BookPage blogger as of late. Trisha thinks our blog readers must miss my voice—I think she’s just trying to flatter me into blogging more. But whatever the case, I’m back on this fine Tuesday because of the Facebook. I am, like most people I know, Facebook friends with a number of people I went to high school with—even if I haven’t seen them since graduation. And today, several high school friends updated their statuses about going out to get a copy of Fading Echoes. What’s this? A book I haven’t heard about?
A quick trip to Amazon.com reveals that Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor by Mike Sielski goes on sale today.
It’s set in my tiny hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and centers on the long-standing Central Bucks East/Central Bucks West football rivalry. Anyone who went to East (like me) will tell you what we lacked in football skills we made up for in academic achievement. Anyone who went to West will tell you it must have been terrible to go to East. But this book isn’t just about football.
From the publisher:
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was home to the greatest high school football rivalry in the state. There was Central Bucks West, captained by senior fullback/ linebacker Bryan Buckley. And there was Central Bucks East, led by senior lineman Colby Umbrell. Bryan and Colby would meet each other as opponents in a game played on a grass field, but their dreams and devotion to their country after the horrific events of September 11, 2001 would lead each of them to the conflict in the Middle East. Only one would return. This slice of small-town American life is the compelling chronicle of two outstanding athletes: their lives, the game they loved, and the separate journeys they would undergo from the football field to the battlefield. But it is also a chronicle of those who helped shape them into the men they became, and the community that watched and cheered as they grew from game-playing boys into fighting men-and witnessed a sacrifice it would never forget.
Library Journal deems it: "A very moving, striking story exceptionally well told; for all readers." I'll have to join the Doylestown Facebook crowd and go out and get myself a copy.
Over the weekend, I went to see The Time Traveler's Wife with my book club. As someone who liked Niffenegger's novel but wasn't enthralled with it, I expected to the enjoy film version—especially since it starred one of my favorite actresses. Unfortunately even Rachel McAdams couldn't save the clunky script. (The guys from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" would have had a ball with this one.) There's a lot going on--jumping through time, marriage, miscarriage, childbirth--but the film never pauses to take a breath and allow the characters to contemplate the questions that loving someone who travels through time (or being the person who travels through time) raises. The few and far-between scenes that do explore Henry and Clare's feelings about their strange lives feel heavy-handed, forced and out of place, especially when supported by the cheesy score.
It didn't help that the darker edges of Niffenegger's novel, like Henry's alcoholism and the real dangers he faces during time-travel, Gomez's politics and Clare's family issues, are all absent. This, I presume, was so that a good 30 minutes of the film could be used to establish that time-travel 1.) is real and 2.) freaks people out, as Henry spends them explaining his impairment to one character after the other in gravelly tones ("I'm a time-traveler") and then deals with their disbelief by slowly dissolving into a puddle of clothing.
My book club also pointed out that while the book tries to be more evenhanded and tell Clare's story as well (it is called The Time Traveler's Wife after all) the film is most definitely all about the time-traveler. Also, Gomez is supposed to be blond.
Have you seen the film? How did you think it compared to the novel?
Daniel Handler, aka "Lemony Snicket," has just signed a deal with the UK's Egmont Press to publish a new four-book, middle-grade series starting in 2012. Snicket commented to BBC News: "I can neither confirm nor deny that I have begun research into a new case, and I can neither confirm nor deny that the results are as dreadful and unnerving as A Series of Unfortunate Events. However, I can confirm that Egmont will be publishing these findings."
According to the New York Times, Snicket has not yet sold the books in the US, but his HarperCollins editor, Susan Rich, has been working with him on the series.
Snicket fans can look forward to the 2010 publication of a picture book, 13 Words, which Snicket worked on with the artist Maira Kalman.
The Series of Unfortunate Events was a publishing sensation, and the first three books inspired a 2004 film starring Jim Carrey.
As a child growing up in the early 1980s, I loved the picture book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and its goofy—but oddly realistic—illustrations of such meteorological events as the floods of orange juice and storms of hamburgers that engulfed the town of Chewandswallow. (My father, who read the book aloud to my brother and me many hundreds of times, was less fond of it, which may explain why I never saw the sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh, until I was an adult.) So I was excited to find out that Sony Pictures Animation has done a movie adaptation of this classic book by husband-and-wife team Judi and Ron Barrett, although its distinctive illustrations have been replaced Pixar-style animation. The movie, which will be released in the U.S. on September 18, includes the voices of such talented and funny actors as Lauren Graham, Neil Patrick Harris, and Bruce Campbell.
Those of us who miss Ron Barrett’s illustrations can see more of them in the Barretts’ newest book, The Marshmallow Incident. This book tells the tale of the towns of Left and Right, and how they are brought together by a marshmallow war that looks more like a blizzard than a military campaign. With its detailed drawings of the two towns and their curious establishments (“Lefty’s: We Proudly Serve Leftovers”), The Marshmallow Incident is a delightful story about how the towns of Left and Right learned right from wrong.