Still, it was nice to see the Los Angeles Times run an article this morning recognizing crossover hits like The Hunger Games trilogy or Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. And any readers who don’t buy the YA trend can’t argue with these numbers: In the first half of 2009, adult hardcover sales were down 17.8%; children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.
YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They're able to have a little more fun, and they're less confined by this idea of themselves as Very Important Artists. That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards.
There’s a lot of fresh content available on BookPage.com this week. Below, we offer a teaser: first lines from new reviews and features you won’t want to miss. Click the book titles to read more. (Don’t get mad at us if you start bursting your budget at the bookstore!)
Were any other New York Times Book Review watchers as surprised as I was to see this week's cover? Their choice of Angelology makes two fiction covers in the last three weeks, which has to be a record. What's more, Danielle Trussoni's first novel is more commercial than not, with a supernatural angle and plenty of action—not the usual NYTBR material.
But hey, maybe they've seen the wisdom in the BookPage philosophy of featuring books that many people will want to read—we also tagged Angelology as a spring standout. In a BookPage.com exclusive, Trussoni wrote about her inspiration for the novel, first in a planned series ("As you can imagine, the places and characters in my book are extremely different from my “real life” as a 30-something mother of two.").
Other BookPage.com highlights this month include an interview with Sam Lipsyte for his new novel, The Ask—a must read for dark humor fans—and a review of Peter Bognanni's "punk-rock-fueled" debut, The House of Tomorrow.
Good news for Robert B. Parker fans: before his unexpected death in January, the author completed at least one more Spenser novel. Our sources at his publisher, Putnam, say that Painted Ladies will be out October 5.
Other posthumous Parker releases include the ninth Jesse Stone novel (Split Image, February), a Cole-Hitch Western (Blue-Eyed Devil, May), and an untitled holiday novel set for a November 2010 publication date.
Earlier this week, the International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the 2010 IACP Cookbook Award finalists. These awards recognize excellence in many categories: American; Baking: Savory or Sweet; Chefs and Restaurants; Children, Youth and Family; Culinary History; Health and Special Diet; International; and more. View the complete list here. The winners will be announced at a gala on April 22.
Here’s what BookPage cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has to say about a few of the selections (click the book titles for more information):
Bottega Favorita by Frank Stitt
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Nominated for “Chefs and Restaurants”
Keller cooks at home! Hard to believe that the high priest of haute cuisine in the U.S. (and author of three cookbooks that are the quintessence of chic, sophisticated armchair cooking) has put together a collection of approachable family meals. Ad Hoc at Home has over 200 recipes that you and I can cook without a battalion of sous-chefs and cutting-edge culinary equipment—a slice of the sublime accessible to mere mortals.
Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl
Nominated for “Compilations”
Besides its encyclopedic collection of recipes, we’ll root for this cookbook for sentimental reasons; our hearts book when Gourmet folded in October.
Got any favorites of the bunch? Or a recommendation for a tried and true cookbook you use all the time?
Related in BookPage: Browse our cookbook archives.
PEN New England and the JFK Presidential Library have just announced that Brigid Pasulka won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True. Pasulka joins the ranks of many BookPage favorites, such as Joshua Ferris and Chang-rae Lee. She'll also receive $8,000 and a one-week residency at the University of Idaho—not to mention a fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.
According to the announcement, Mary Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s wife, founded the Award in 1976 to “honor her late husband and draw attention to first books of fiction.” This year, the Awards were judged by Julia Glass, Michael Lowenthal and Gail Tsukiyama.
At BookPage we’re especially thrilled about this news because we covered A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True in our August Well Read column—an extended review that recognizes the best fiction in a given month, written by Robert Weibezahl.
In her novel, Pasulka tells the love story of Pigeon and Anielica before and after World War II, in Kraków, Poland. Their journey is “consistently magical,” writes Weibezahl, and Pasulka “has an indisputable talent for a tale well-told.”
The two Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award finalists are C.E. Morgan for All the Living and Abraham Verghese for Cutting for Stone. Two honorable mentions go to Mary Beth Keane for The Walking People and Lydia Peelle for Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing.
Abby noted last week that among a field of literary big shots in the finalist pool for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Lorraine M. López stuck out as a pleasant surprise. Since the PEN/Hemingway Award recognizes a debut work of fiction, there are understandably no names with the star power of Barbara Kingsolver or Lorrie Moore—although each of the novels comes from a major publishing house. (López’s book was published by BkMk Press at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.) Are you pleased with the winner, finalists and honorable mentions? What’s the best debut novel you read last year?
We’ve noticed that books (with the exception of political books) get little coverage on network TV, so we were happy to see that Katie Couric covers many authors on her web show @katiecouric.
Just Tuesday, her conversation with Kathryn Stockett, best-selling author of The Help, was posted. During the hour-long interview, Stockett also took questions from book clubs in Ohio and Washington D.C. via Skype, and in a separate segment (without Stockett) Couric interviewed three women from Jackson, Mississippi—the setting of the novel.
If you loved The Help—and I know many of you do, since it was the #1 book in our Best Books of 2009 reader survey—then you’ll be interested to hear about Stockett’s relationship with Demetrie, her own family’s help, and why the author wanted to tell this story.
Watch the interview here:
I was especially excited to hear Stockett mention the movie version of The Help—news to me. A quick online search shows that Tate Taylor (Pretty Ugly People) will direct. According to Variety, “Taylor grew up with Stockett in Mississippi—his mother inspired one of the Mississippi matriarchs in the novel—and was so helpful to the author that she gave him an early peek; an option was made well before the book came out.”
On the @katiecouric website, find interviews with Sapphire, the author of Push (the movie-version, Precious, is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture); Malcolm Gladwell; and other authors.
What authors would you like to see Couric interview? Did you learn anything surprising in the Stockett segment?
By the way, in my Stockett research for this post, I learned on the PenguinUK website that the author is at work on a second novel: “It also takes place in Mississippi, during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. It’s about a family of women who learn to get around the rules, rules created by men, in order to survive.” I can’t wait for this one! What about you?
Related in BookPage: Read our interview with Kathryn Stockett about The Help.
After the huge success of Going Rogue—the memoir has sold more than 2 million copies—Sarah Palin and HarperCollins are partnering again to publish another book. The publisher released a statement announcing that the book will "include selections from classic and contemporary readings that have inspired [Palin], as well as portraits of some of the extraordinary men and women she admires and who embody her love of country, faith, and family.”
I admit that I haven’t read Going Rogue, although I did get a kick out of Slate’s Going Rogue index (the memoir didn’t include one). Apparently Palin drops references to Animal Farm, The Wonderful World of Oz, Pearl S. Buck and C.S. Lewis. Wonder what other books and authors will make book two.
Have you heard enough from Palin, or will you line up to buy her new book? HarperCollins has not yet announced a publication date or title.
Related on The Book Case: See a recent post about new political books, including David Remnick's biography of Barack Obama and Laura Bush's memoir.
I’m a day late on this news item, but it still deserves a mention. Yesterday would have been Dr. Seuss’s 106th birthday—reason for celebration in itself. Since 1998, though, March 2 has also been designated by the National Education Association as Read Across America Day.
Michelle Obama helped kick off the festivities in an event at the Library of Congress, and all week there are events planned throughout the country to celebrate reading. It’s definitely worth checking out the Read Across America website; there are free digital copies of Dr. Seuss books, tips for encouraging your child to read and information about reading events.
If you’re looking for good books for kids, don’t miss the children’s page on BookPage.com, filled with recommendations for books appropriate for toddlers all the way up to teens.
What’s your favorite book to read aloud to a child? A Dr. Seuss book, perhaps? Tell us in the comments.
Roses by Leila Meacham
Grand Central, January 2010
At 600 pages, Roses is the kind of story that you’ll read under your desk, at the dinner table and through the middle of the night until you get to the end. We learn in the opening scene that cotton plantation matriarch Mary Toliver has unexpectedly changed her will at the end of her life. Meacham hooks us by offering no real explanation for this drastic move, and then shifts to the beginning of the 20th century, when Mary first inherits the plantation. The entire saga—filled with heartbreak, betrayal, power struggles and love—spans nearly 70 years. Looking for a good old-fashioned page-turner to gobble up this weekend? Roses fits the bill.
What are you reading today?
He gaped at her, truly shocked. “But, Mary, why?” You’ve had a marvelous life—a life that I thought you wished to bequeath to Rachel to perpetuate your family’s heritage. This codicil is so...” he swept the back of his hand over the document, “adverse to everything I thought you’d hoped for her—that you led her to believe you wanted for her.”
She slackened in her chair, a proud schooner with the wind suddenly sucked from her sails. She laid the cane across her lap. “Oh, Amos, it’s such a long story, far too long to go into here. Percy will have to explain it all to you someday.”
“Explain what, Mary? What’s there to explain?” And why someday, and why Percy? He would not be put off by a stab of concern for her. The lines about her eyes and mouth had deepened, and her flawless complexion had paled beneath its olive skin tone. Insistently, he leaned father over the desk. “What story don’t I know, Mary? I’ve read everything ever printed about the Tolivers and Warwicks and DuMonts, not to mention having lived among you for forty years. I’ve been privy to everything affecting each of you since I came to Howbutker. Whatever secrets you may have harbored would have come out. I know you.”
She lowered her lids briefly, fatigue clearly evident in their sepia-tinged folds. When she raised them again, her gaze was soft with affection. “Amos, dear, you came into our lives when our stories were done. You have known us at our best, when all our sad and tragic deeds were behind us and we were living with their consequences. Well, I want to spare Rachel from making the same mistakes I made and suffering the same, inevitable consequences. I don’t intend to leave her under the Toliver curse.”