Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
Nora Ephron was best known for her witty written dialogue in 1989's "When Harry Met Sally."By Charles Sykes, AP
Nora Ephron was best known for her witty written dialogue in 1989's "When Harry Met Sally."Wallflower at the Orgy (Vintage, $15). First published in 1970, this collection of magazine articles and essays was reissued in 1980 with a new introduction by Ephron and again in 2007 after the success of I Feel Bad About My Neck. Wallflower features the young Ephron's profiles of people such as Cosmopolitan magazine's Helen Gurley Brown and Ayn Rand as well as personal essays about food and sex. Because these articles were written in the 1960s, much of the material seems dated and some of the subjects will be unknown to those under 40. But Ephron's introduction about her career as a journalist remains startlingly perceptive today. At the New York Post, she learned to write short, sharp and, most of all, to avoid boring the reader.Heartburn (Vintage, $14). "Everything is copy," Ephron's mother once said, and clearly her daughter was listening. Published in 1983, Ephron's debut novel clearly draws from the infamous breakup of Ephron's second marriage to Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter made famous by Watergate and the father of her two sons. In this roman à clef, Rachel Samstat is a cookbook author and seven months pregnant. Meanwhile, her husband — a man "capable of having sex with a Venetian blind" — had fallen in love with another woman. Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep starred in the film adaptation.I Feel Bad about My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Vintage, $13). Published in 2006, this best-selling collection of essays about aging, food and the death of a friend resonated with older female readers around the country. Though written in her trademark witty tone, Ephron takes no prisoners as she debunks the fantasy that getting older is easy or fun. The book also includes wise parenting advice such as: "When your children are teenagers, it's important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you."I Remember Nothing (Vintage, $14). In his review of this 2010 collection, USA TODAY's Craig Wilson wrote, "Ephron remembers quite a bit in this entertaining collection of stories about her life so far. Her love affair with journalism. Her two divorces. Her devotion to meatloaf, an entree that New York's Monkey Bar named after her. Yep, Nora's Meatloaf. Just don't look for it on the menu these days. It's been taken off, and yes, she feels a bit hurt by this turn of events. She even vividly remembers her childhood back in Beverly Hills, a childhood filled with movie stars, since her dad was in the business."For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to email@example.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
By Lindsay Deutsch, USA TODAY
Here's a look at what's buzzing in the books world today:
--The week's hot books: USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer gives details on the week's top five new and noteworthy releases, including Gold by Chris Cleave.
--'50 Shades,' 23 ways: If you stacked up all copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, the pile would be 51 miles high. Or you could fill 12 Olympic swimming pools with all of the copies sold. Publishers Weekly tackles the best-seller in 23 fun statistics.
--All-American books: Feeling patriotic this July 4th week? The Daily Beast gives Independence Day books suggestions for people of all different viewpoints.
--Barnes on books: The Sense of an Ending author Julian Barnes writes about his bibliomania and defends physical books and bookstores on The Guardian.
--The vest plot: Jennifer Weiner pokes fun at The Marriage Plot author Jeffrey Eugenides and his infamous Broadway billboard vest with an ad for her new book,The Next Best Thing.
--Poet memoir: Pulitzer Prize-winning poet laureate Natasha Trethewey will write a memoir to be published by Ecco in 2014.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Brothers Hank, left, and John Green's first two summer book club selections drew a combined 800,000 YouTube views.By Elyse Marshall
Brothers Hank, left, and John Green's first two summer book club selections drew a combined 800,000 YouTube views.Green, 34, recalls that he liked it "more than most of the books I read for English class that year (including Romeo and Juliet), but that's not saying much. I was one of those students who was predisposed to dislike a book simply because it has been assigned."These days, he's "a much bigger fan of English classes and critical reading," and he's eager to argue that "it's pleasurable to read great literature and to read with care and thoughtfulness."Tuesday around noon ET, John and his brother Hank Green, the wisecracking VlogBrothers who post video blogs, will announce on their YouTube channel that Fahrenheit 451 is this summer's reading for their Nerdfighter Book Club aimed at teens.(Nerdfighters do not fight nerds. "They fight for nerds," Green says, "for intellectualism, for the life of the mind." It must be working: Their channel, youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers, has 231 million views of its weekly vlogs on a variety of topics.)Green, whose novel about teens with cancer, The Fault in Our Stars, hit No. 4 on USA TODAY's Best-selling Books list in January, is looking forward to discussing Bradbury's themes — "the ways context and sustained engagement add meaning to human life in a place (the Internet) that is not exactly known for sustained intellectual engagement." John and Hank Green's new Nerdfighter Book Club pick is the late Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451.'Social networks "are often home to precisely the kinds of factoids and half-truths that Bradbury worries about," he says. But while the Internet "contains a lot of videos of squirrels riding skateboards, it can also be a place that facilitates big conversations about books."John, who lives in Indianapolis, and Hank, 32, a singer/songwriter who runs an environmental website (ecogeek.com) in Missoula, Mont., each will post two vlogs and written comments in response to comments from readers.It's their third summer book club: Their videos about The Great Gatsby in 2011 and Catcher in the Rye in 2010 drew more than 800,000 views combined.Green says they chose Fahrenheit 451 after Bradbury's death last month at 91 when they read that he had sold fewer books in his lifetime than the erotic FiftyShades of Grey trilogy sold in the last month, "which we found sadly funny."For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Saturday, July 7, 2012
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
Today we get our first look at the cover art for The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling, one of the most anticipated novels of the year. Little, Brown will publish the first adult novel by the celebrated author of the seven Harry Potter novels on Sept. 27.
Here's the plot summary for the 512-page novel released by Rowling's publisher: "When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?"
Chances are The Casual Vacancy will be the runaway hit of the year. Rowling's series about Harry Potter, the boy wizard, was published between 1997 and 2007 and has sold over 450 million copies worldwide.
Friday, July 6, 2012
If you've ever wondered where the rabbit comes from when he's pulled from the top hat, we have a book for you. Card tricks and shell games? Ladies sawed in half? All here.
Alex Stone has been a magic geek since the day his dad gave him a magician's kit — wand included — from F.A.O. Schwarz. He was 5. With that he was off to entertain at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. He had found his calling.
"Magic is all about nerds playing god with the universe," he writes. "For me discovering the world of magic was like finding my own island of misfit friends, a place where everyone was special in the wrong way."
Stone, who has a master's degree in physics, takes his readers behind the curtain, so to speak. And along the way he weaves in how psychology, physics — even crime — plays into the world of hand tricks.
Who knew, for instance, there's such a thing as the ultra-secretive FFFF - Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic, the Templars of Magic, the most prestigious group of magicians in the world. Its annual convention is invitation-only. If you get one you've arrived.
You've also arrived if you know when to clap. Most of us applaud at the wrong time, for instance. "Lay people applaud the effects, while magicians clap during the seemingly uneventful moments, when the secret moves occur," Stone writes. "To the untrained eye it's as if the magicians are clapping at nothing."
If you're not that interested in the secretive world of magic, just disappear. But if you're fascinated by odd little corners of society, Fooling Houdini is not only informative, but highly entertaining. Stone has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Janet Groth recounts her experience in 'The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker.'
Janet Groth recounts her experience in 'The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker.'The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker
By Janet Groth; Algonquin, 240 pp., $21.95; non-fictionJanet Groth was a receptionist at the legendary New Yorker magazine from 1957 to 1978. She saw and heard it all.Groth was the one who had to tell J.D. Salinger there was no office Coke machine. She steered Woody Allen to the right floor. Repeatedly.And then, of course, there's humorist Calvin Trillin, cartoonist Charles Addams and the painfully shy E.B. White, who hired her. The magazine's eccentricity was not lost on Groth. Lucky for us.USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Are you a New Yorker magazine groupie? Do you wait every week just to laugh at the cartoons and read Talk of the Town? If so, we have a book for you."Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs
In and Out of the Kitchen|-|
By Alyssa Shelasky; Three Rivers, 260 pp., $14, paperback original; non-fictionWhen New York party girl Alyssa Shelasky moves to Washington, D.C., with her busy celebrity-chef boyfriend (Top Chef's Spike Mendelsohn, who is unnamed in the book), the former kitchen-phobe turns to cooking as "Chef's" career heats up and their relationship fizzles.USA TODAY says *** out of four. "A fresh dining and dating memoir … charming."Hotels, Hospitals and Jails
By Anthony Swofford; Twelve, 276 pp., $26.99; non-fiction By Christa Parravani'Jarhead' author Anthony Swofford tells the rest of the story in 'Hotels, Hospitals and Jails.'After former Marine sniper Anthony Swofford hit it big with Jarhead, his memoir about the Gulf War that became an acclaimed movie, he had to deal with a new problem: too much money, sex, drugs and alcohol, which nearly killed him.USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "Gritty, intense and wrenching."The Red House
By Mark Haddon; Doubleday, 264 pp., $25.95; fictionEight relatives, stuck with one another on an eight-day holiday in the English countryside, offer plenty of drama in The Red House, the third novel by Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time).USA TODAY says *** out of four. "Haddon delivers a story of remarkable complexity, exploring the rich interior lives of his characters."The Seven Wonders
By Steven Saylor; Minotaur, 321 pp., $25.99; fictionIt's 92 B.C., and Steven Saylor's fictional teenage crime-solver Gordianus is on a tour of the Seven Wonders of the World. This is a younger version of Gordianus the Finder from Saylor's mystery series, and here he solves his first cases accompanied by Antipater of Sidon, a famous and real poet.USA TODAY says ***½ out of four. "If you're going to tour the ancient world, you could find no better guide than Saylor."For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to email@example.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, 16, worked side by side on the book, but Picoult "did more of the typing because I type faster."By Adam Bouska
Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, 16, worked side by side on the book, but Picoult "did more of the typing because I type faster."Q: So it was the high school student, not her mom, author of 19 novels, who had the idea for the book?Van Leer: At the end of eighth grade (when she was 13), I was daydreaming in French class. And I got to thinking: What's it like for characters inside a book, and what happens to them when no one is reading the book? What if they had other lives? It was like watching a movie that had popped into my head. So I called my mom.Picoult: I was on a book tour in L.A., stuck in freeway traffic, and I told Sammy, "That's a really great idea." And she said, "Let's write it together." And I said: "All right, but that means we're writing it together. I'm not writing the book for you." Q: So who wrote what?Van Leer: We wrote it together, sitting side by side at the computer, talking back and forth. Sometimes we'd get the same idea at the same time. It was a little creepy.Picoult: I did more of the typing because I type faster, but it was an equal partnership, though I paid more attention to the commas and cleaning up the writing.Q: Why did it take three years?Picoult: Well, Sammy has a day job: She goes to high school. We did it during summers and school breaks. We started writing the summer after ninth grade. We edited it the summer after 10th grade. And now she's finishing 11th grade.Q: Did you disagree?Picoult: A few times. Some arguments she won. Some I won.Van Leer: I imagined Prince Oliver would have blonde hair, not black as in the book.Picoult: And I thought the fairy tale should be told tongue in check. Sammy wanted it to be dark and a bit creepy and scary. I thought we'd try it her way, then revise it. But she was right.Q: In your novel, Delilah, the obsessive reader, believes Prince Oliver, from the fairy tale, "understood me better than anyone in the world." She dreams about meeting him. Have you ever wanted to meet a fictional character?Picoult: Mr. Darcy (from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.) What woman isn't consumed by him — from the novel or the film versions with Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen? When I was a teen, he was the most crush-worthy man I had ever read about. Every time I'm on a book tour in England, I look for him.Van Leer: Peeta (the baker's son in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games), especially if he looks like Josh Hutcherson (who portrayed him in the movie).Q:Any interest from Hollywood in makingBetween the Linesas movie?Picoult: Yes. We're close to having it optioned.Q: And a sequel?Van Leer: We'd like to do one, but first I have to finish high school.Picoult: Sammy's next big writing project will be her essays for college applications.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.