PW reports cookbooks and SciFi were biggest gainers in recent retail sales figures (Cooking and Sci-Fi Are the Hot Print Segments This Year So Far by Jim Milliot).

Also of note is a 10% increase in Western sales (genre extinction again delayed) and slight declines in biography, art and architecture, and crafts.  Cooking and entertaining were up 21% and self-help up 12%.  Romance was down 16%, which given its success in e format might be understandable.

Some of you have noticed I’ve been a bit cuckoo for cookbooks this year and nothing tells me to stop, but I am really trying to dial it back on some other new non-fiction categories going forward after an initial influx from an allocation increase this year and a need to stock two new demonstration branches.  I’m going to take it easy on biographies, especially of social media stars whose book following is unknown, and well-reviewed titles of quality but maybe not needed quantity.  I welcome feedback on relative investment in non-fiction from what you observe on your shelves.


A Library Journal ARC on offer.  They are asking for comments and blurbs on these so if you have any let me know.  I’ll be posting the fiction ones soon.  This was an interesting read, due in November, about rulers from Merneith to Hatshepsut to Cleopatra and will soon be in the catalog. Comment to claim.

Cooney, Kara. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt. National Geographic, November.

When Women Ruled the World

Nicely avoiding the mire of technical details and information, When Women Ruled the World is instead replete with vivid descriptions of the life circumstances and political realities of the handful of ancient female pharaohs that truly ruled ancient Egypt. The lightly touched appeal to hard evidence demonstrates the Egyptologist author’s bona fides, while honest but plausible speculations invite the reader to consider different scenarios and their application to contemporary issues around female leadership. The central insight, that while female “kings” ultimately relied upon and actually sustained patriarchal power structures, they nonetheless demonstrated unique styles of wielding power as women that could serve as a stabilizing and effective model in any society, is massaged in with gentle persuasion throughout. This is a digestibly substantive and intriguing book with multiple appeals to today’s readers.

Comment to claim.  The Ali book is an interesting and highly visual presentation, in many places resembling magazine article formatting. I’m only now ordering this but wondered if someone out there would be in to sports related ARCs.  While on the subject of daughters writing about fathers, I wanted to mention the upcoming title Small Fry: A Memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs.  The word at Day of Dialog was that this portrays a highly unconventional and sometimes severe upbringing by a late tech icon, but expressing admiration all the same.  I’m starting with 15 copies which will be in the catalog soon. Sorry no ARC of that.

Arthurs, Alexia. How to Love a Jamaican. July 24th.

How to Love A Jamaican

“In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them shine.”–Zadie Smith

Named one of Entertainment Weekly ‘s “Hot Summer Reads of 2018” and BuzzFeed ‘s “Summer Books to Get Excited About”

Tenderness and cruelty, loyalty and betrayal, ambition and regret–Alexia Arthurs navigates these tensions to extraordinary effect in her debut collection about Jamaican immigrants and their families back home. Sweeping from close-knit island communities to the streets of New York City and midwestern university towns, these eleven stories form a portrait of a nation, a people, and a way of life. In “Light-Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands,” an NYU student befriends a fellow Jamaican whose privileged West Coast upbringing has blinded her to the hard realities of race. In “Mash Up Love,” a twin’s chance sighting of his estranged brother–the prodigal son of the family–stirs up unresolved feelings of resentment. In “Bad Behavior,” a couple leave their wild teenage daughter with her grandmother in Jamaica, hoping the old ways will straighten her out. In “Mermaid River,” a Jamaican teenage boy is reunited with his mother in New York after eight years apart. In “The Ghost of Jia Yi,” a recently murdered student haunts a despairing Jamaican athlete recruited to an Iowa college. And in “Shirley from a Small Place,” a world-famous pop star retreats to her mother’s big new house in Jamaica, which still holds the power to restore something vital.


Brennan-Jobs, Lisa. Small Fry: A Memoir. Grove Atlantic, Sept. 4th.

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents—artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs—Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.


Ali, Hana.  Ali on Ali. Workman, 2018.

Ali on Ali

The Greatest—in his own unforgettable words. This collection of quotes is accompanied by family photographs and the stories behind the sayings by Ali’s daughter and biographer, Hana Ali. A book of inspiration, humor, and Ali’s inimitable way with words, it’s a unique look at a unique and beloved person.

This is the latest from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who is at least the Carl Sagan of our time if not even more of an ambassador for cutting edge science. Compared to previous bestselling titles this one seems more in-depth and yes has a strongly detailed military component. The historical appreciation for the role of military motives in spurring science and discovery is all the more compelling coming from a rationalist cosmopolitan who would have us move in a more Vulcan direction.  Especially interesting is the discussion of the potential militarization of space and the actual international agreements that no one is supposed to spike a flag on the moon or planets and claim them.

Tyson, Neil DeGrasse. Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military. Norton, September.

Accessory to WarIn this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. “The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions,” say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a “curiously complicit” alliance. “The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds,” they write. “Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology–which is more or less the same technology for both parties–nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage.”Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

A recent NEA study indicates significant increased poetry reading by American adults, especially by diverse youth but generally.  One likely contributing factor is social media, an unpredictable positive coming out of new technology.

From the article:

Nearly 12 percent (11.7 percent) of adults read poetry in the last year, according to new data from the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2017 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). That’s 28 million adults. As a share of the total U.S. adult population, this poetry readership is the highest on record over a 15-year period of conducting the SPPA, a research partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.


There seems to be a resurgence of interest here at Sno-Isle as well. Indian-Canadian Instagram poet Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers have respectively 10 and 11 copies with continued holds queues. These titles have topped paperback bestseller lists as well.  American poets of note and popularity include Robert Drake, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, and Rickey Laurentiis, among others.


The Sun and Her Flowers  Milk and Honey - Kaur, Rupi  Black Butterfly  Boy With Thorn - Laurentiis, Rickey  Nepantla The Rain in Portugal

BEA ARCs Clearout

June 7, 2018

Non-fiction seemed to be the name of the game at BEA, with BookScan data to the effect that adult non-fiction is a growth area in general and in print, going from 240 m private individual consumer unit sales to over 280 in last five years.  In keeping with that, I have several relevant non-fiction selections below.  Rampage, in particular, is getting effusive praise and promotion. Comment to claim.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony.  The Lies that Bind.  Norton, August.

book coverFrom the best-selling author of Cosmopolitanism comes this revealing exploration of how the collective identities that shape our polarized world are riddled with contradiction.

Who do you think you are? That’s a question bound up in another: What do you think you are? Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. Such affiliations give contours to our sense of self, and shape our polarized world. Yet the collective identities they spawn are riddled with contradictions, and cratered with falsehoods.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Lies That Bind is an incandescent exploration of the nature and history of the identities that define us. It challenges our assumptions about how identities work. We all know there are conflicts between identities, but Appiah shows how identities are created by conflict. Religion, he demonstrates, gains power because it isn’t primarily about belief. Our everyday notions of race are the detritus of discarded nineteenth-century science. Our cherished concept of the sovereign nation—of self-rule—is incoherent and unstable. Class systems can become entrenched by efforts to reform them. Even the very idea of Western culture is a shimmering mirage.

From Anton Wilhelm Amo, the eighteenth-century African child who miraculously became an eminent European philosopher before retiring back to Africa, to Italo Svevo, the literary marvel who changed citizenship without leaving home, to Appiah’s own father, Joseph, an anticolonial firebrand who was ready to give his life for a nation that did not yet exist, Appiah interweaves keen-edged argument with vibrant narratives to expose the myths behind our collective identities.

Scott, James M. Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila. Norton, October.

book coverThe definitive history of one of the most brutal campaigns of the war in the Pacific.

Before World War II, Manila was a slice of America in Asia, populated with elegant neoclassical buildings, spacious parks, and home to thousands of U.S. servicemen and business executives who enjoyed the relaxed pace of the tropics. The outbreak of the war, however, brought an end to the good life. General Douglas MacArthur, hoping to protect the Pearl of the Orient, declared the Philippine capital an open city and evacuated his forces. The Japanese seized Manila on January 2, 1942, rounding up and interning thousands of Americans.

MacArthur, who escaped soon after to Australia, famously vowed to return. For nearly three years, he clawed his way north, obsessed with redeeming his promise and turning his earlier defeat into victory. By early 1945, he prepared to liberate Manila, a city whose residents by then faced widespread starvation. Convinced the Japanese would abandon the city as he did, MacArthur planned a victory parade down Dewey Boulevard. But the enemy had other plans. Determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

The twenty-nine-day battle to liberate Manila resulted in the catastrophic destruction of the city and a rampage by Japanese forces that brutalized the civilian population. Landmarks were demolished, houses were torched, suspected resistance fighters were tortured and killed, countless women were raped, and their husbands and children were murdered. American troops had no choice but to battle the enemy, floor by floor and even room by room, through schools, hospitals, and even sports stadiums. In the end, an estimated 100,000 civilians lost their lives in a massacre as heinous as the Rape of Nanking.

Based on extensive research in the United States and the Philippines, including war-crimes testimony, after-action reports, and survivor interviews, Rampagerecounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of Pacific war history.

Begos, Kevin.  Tasting the Past. Algonquin, June 12th.

Tasting the Past

“When journalist Kevin Begos sets out to discover the origins of wine, he finds a whole world of forgotten grapes and meets the archaeologists, chemists, and botanists who are deciphering wine down to molecules of flavor”– Provided by publisher.

Entertainment Weekly gives some back story to Oprah’s Summer Book Club selection The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton.  The non-fiction account of  a man enduring death row for a murder he didn’t commit is timely in the wake of Alice Marie Johnson’s commutation by the president of her draconian sentence, as well as other ongoing campaigns for criminal justice reform and improvement.  It currently has over 30 holds on 8 copies.  For good measure I’m including a link to the Innocence Project, which through volunteer effort and the latest forensics has uncovered countless other cases of wrongful prosecution and conviction. From the EW article:

“There was a time I thought I’d never see the sun again,” Ray Hinton said in a statement, of Oprah selection his book. “I really believe my mother prepared me, and she always told me to keep the faith. I worked really hard and tried to make a book that would inspire people to do better, learn how to forgive one another and move on. What happened to me, I don’t ever want to happen to anyone else. I’m just trying to be a little tiny light in God’s world.”

The Sun Does ShineSt. Martin’s summary: In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. It was a case of mistaken identity, and Hinton believed that the truth would prove his innocence. Sentenced to death by electrocution, he spent his first three years at Holman State Prison full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death.He resolved to find a way to live on Death Row., and for the next twenty-seven years he transformed not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates. After winning his release in 2015, Hinton shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.