Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Next Week in the Bookstore: Mao, Armstrong, Shakespeare, and Lemony Snicket

Sure to generate excitement this week is Volume 12 from Lemony Snicket (with "cover art "too awful to show"), plus a number of intriguing biographies: a tyrant, a tech-hero, and a totemic writer. Not to mention a new version of the classic style guide from William Strunk.

Monday, October 17
John Feinstein's Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL chronicles the 2004 Baltimore Ravens' season. "According to the punchy start of this sprawling, in-depth account of the 2004 Baltimore Ravens' season, you can forget about all the other pretenders to the throne: pro football is (at least in and around cities that have a franchise) America's sport... The runup to the first game of the young franchise's ninth season is so assiduously documented, the season itself is almost an afterthought... Feinstein wisely avoids the grandiloquent hyperbole often found in sportswriting; there are no references to deities or Greek heroes here." —Publishers Weekly

Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, reunites the coauthors of Primal Leadership. "Resonant Leadership moves from this initial exposition of problems—management ineffectiveness, and/or burnout—to solutions... three core qualities which they believe resonant leaders must continually cultivate: mindfulness, hope, and compassion... Readers of Boyatzis and McKee's latest—whether already-strong leaders looking to maintain their effectiveness, or burned-out ones aiming to get back in the proverbial saddle—will find this is a thought-provoking read." —Peter Han, review
Note: Although Amazon says Resonant Leadership can be shipped today, it is actually not released until October 17th.

Tuesday, October 18
Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan follows 11 friends from San Francisco on the vacation of a lifetime on the Burma Road, in a story narrated by their murdered friend, who organized the trip. "[T]he travelers turn into ugly Americans in their pursuit of comfort and amusement until a renegade tribal group kidnaps them... Tan, marvelously liberated, attains new heights with her piquant humor and ship-of-fools cast of charmingly cranky characters. Writing with stinging irony about oppression, genocide, culture clashes, religion, media spin, and corruption, she slyly considers the unintended consequences of everything from a thwarted seduction to a war based on lies." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Twelfth (Vol. 12) comes out Tuesday. Fans need wait no longer for the 12th dreadful installment of his Series of Unfortunate Events—although they will need to wait until publication day to learn the book's mysterious title! The image supplied to Amazon simply reads "Art Too Awful to Show." This will be "the last book before the last book" in the series, according to the publisher. Recommended for ages 9-12.

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, a professor at Auburn Univ. and a former NASA historian, is the first authorized biography of the astronaut. "For the first time, the cool, precise, and celebrity-averse Neil Armstrong has authorized a biography. Its readers cannot expect any more access to his emotional interior than the first man to walk on the moon has ever allowed, but they will learn about everything he achieved in aerospace engineering... Quelling apocrypha circulated at the time of Apollo 11 about the all-American boy who dreamed of going to the moon, Hansen follows the empirical arc of Armstrong's interest in aviation... After the Korean War, Armstrong resumed his engineering career, wrote technical papers, flew hotshot planes like the X-15, and stepped irrevocably into history with Apollo 11." —Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans and her historian husband, Jon Halliday, rips the reformer's mask from Mao Tse-tung, exposing him for the bloody tyrant he truly was—a megalomaniacal murderer in the vein of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. "It takes time to get through and more time to digest, but there is no time when its value is not apparent... The first sentence of their startling book underscores the point of view to follow: 'Mao Tse-tung, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one quarter of the world's population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader.'" —Brad Hooper, Booklist

Sara Moulton serves up 200 recipes for the time-starved in Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals, from the Food Network host and Gourmet Executive. "Besides chapters on soup, pasta, meat and so on, there are several revolving around time-saving tips: "Shop and Serve" has recipes like the fast but tasty Tortellini Pepperoni Spinach Soup, and dishes in "Just Open the Pantry" use items from a kitchen stocked with Moulton's long list of recommended staples. "Cooking Ahead," meanwhile, unleashes the gourmet chef in Moulton with lengthier recipes that can be made on the weekend and reheated. ...cooks willing to put in some time in the kitchen each night will appreciate this book's excellent international range as well as its helpful shortcuts. Color photos." —Publishers Weekly

The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez is a legal thriller with a fresh twist on To Kill a Mockingbird, in which a ruthless lawyer finds his heart when he's forced to defend a prostitute charged with the murder of a senator's son. "Gimenez, former partner at a major Dallas law firm and current lone-wolf attorney in a single practice, not only boasts all the right credentials but also delivers an authentically creepy debut novel. A big part of this thriller's appeal is its moral backbone. The hero, former college-football legend and current corporate lawyer Scott Fenney, has struck a Faustian bargain—his whole life for billable hours—the cost of which is encapsulated when he signs an agreement to terminate the tenure of a friend in the firm who has lost his worth by losing a big client... This is a well-calibrated contemporary morality play, set in get-rich-quick Dallas, with tours of country clubs and gated communities, and knowledgeable forays into Darwinian legal tactics... Fast-paced and thought-provoking fare." —Connie Fletcher, Booklist

Nicholas Sparks offers another glimpse into the lives of True Believer sweethearts Jeremy Marsh and Lexie Darnell, with At First Sight, a romantic confection liberally laced with suspense. "Sparks pulls out all the smalltown stops—psychic grandmother, meddling mayor, sullen townie ex, jealous best friends—and offers Mars/Venus commentary on what makes his characters tick. Jeremy's writer's block, instead of heightening the will-they-or-won't-they tension, is as enervating for readers as it is for him. More compelling are the mysterious e-mails Jeremy receives that suggest Lexie may not be telling the truth (about who the father is, for one thing), and the character of Lexie's psychic grandmother, Doris, who has correctly predicted the sex of every child born in the town... Have plenty of tissues on hand." —Publishers Weekly

A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro, a popular lecturer at Columbia University, portrays the Bard's artistic evolution in 1599 along with the year's significant political upheavals. "Like other Shakespeare biographers, Columbia professor Shapiro notes the importance of mundane events in Shakespeare's art, starting here with the construction of the Globe Theatre and the departure of Will Kemp, the company's popular comic actor. Having a stable venue and repertory gave Shakespeare the space to write and experiment during the turmoil created by Essex's unsuccessful military ventures in Ireland, a threatened invasion by a second Spanish Armada and, finally, Essex's disastrous return to court. Shapiro is in a minority in arguing for Shakespeare initially composing Hamlet at the same time Essex was plotting a coup..." —Publishers Weekly

A Day in the Life of the American Woman; How We See Ourselves by Sharon Wohlmuth is a new entry in the Day in the Life series. from the winning team behind the photographic trilogy Mothers and Daughters, Sisters, and Best Friends. It chronicles the everyday rhythms of women's lives in contemporary America. "On April 8, 2005, 50 of the world's most talented female photographers spent 24 hours capturing a "day in the life" of American women. The result is a rich tapestry reflecting the full spectrum of women's lives: their daily challenges, their joys and accomplishments, and their changing roles in the family, the workplace, and the community... From the well-known to the unknown, the women portrayed embody the many incarnations of the American woman. Their stories, conveyed in the intimate, resonant style of Wohlmuth and Saline's Sisters, speak to women of all backgrounds." (Publisher's release notes)
Note: Although Amazon says A Day in the Life of the American Woman can be shipped today, it is actually not released until October 20th.

Thursday, October 20
William Strunk's preeminent guide to English composition (Strunk & White), gets a very contemporary 21st-century facelift in The Elements of Style Illustrated, with the fanciful addition of illustrations by renowned artist and designer Maira Kalman. "Considering that millions of copies have been sold to millions of devotees, you might not think to ask what could enhance this (almost) perfect classic. In fact, the addition of illustrations allows readers to experience the book's contents in a completely new way, making the whole learning experience more colorful and clear, as well as adding a whimsical element that compliments the subtly humorous tone of the prose... While giving the classic work a jolt of new energy to appeal to contemporary readers, Kalman's illustrations are hemselves timeless, designed to sit alongside the ever-enduring manual for another fifty years and more." (Publisher's release notes)

Margaret Cho's I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight mixes rants against war, racism, misogyny, homophobia and various prominent Republicans with confessional ponderings of the comedian's identity as a Korean-American. "The cover photo—comedian Cho posing Patty Hearst–style before a Symbionese Liberation Army emblem—aptly conveys this messy personal manifesto's collision of in-your-face militance and little-girl-lost victimology. The political and the personal are inseparable from the celebrity preening: "I wasn't sure... which I hated more," Cho muses, "my skin color or my talent." When she manages to break from her rage, tears and ego... Cho writes with perception and humor. More often, though, she wallows in screeds against the white male power structure, sprinkled with gangsta-rap posturing..." —Publishers Weekly

Jesus Did It Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments for Christians, by Keith M. Kent, is the third book by the former Harvard student whose writings on doing good despite people and circumstances, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, took on a life of its own more than 30 years ago. "Keith writes his third book on the Paradoxical Commandments, this time relating them to Christian faith and the Bible... Each chapter lists the commandment, then draws on a teaching of Jesus or other figures in the Christian Bible to help explain it... Keith's presentation is simple and straightforward, his links between each commandment and the Bible easy to understand, if a bit obvious. This is a pleasing introduction to the Paradoxical Commandments, as well as an easy-to-swallow introduction to the Christian Scriptures. Study guides for each chapter move into deeper discussion and reflection." —Publishers Weekly

Friday, October 21
The Biggest Loser: The Weight Loss Program to Transform Your Body, Health and Life by The Biggest Loser Experts and Cast with Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, PhD, presents the diet and exercise plan tested by the hit reality show's contestants. "The Biggest Loser was NBC’s surprise hit of the Fall 2004 television season, drawing a passionate audience... With this book, people looking for change can accomplish the same type of radical makeover of their bodies, their health, and their lives that they saw on The Biggest Loser. The book features the food and fitness plans from Bob and Jillian, health advice from the show’s medical experts, and motivational tips from the contestants themselves." (Publisher's release notes)
Note: Although Amazon says The Biggest Loser can be shipped today, it is actually not released until October 21st.

Yes, I'll be buying the new Strunk—but for the articles, not the pictures! I already have my order in for the look at Shakespeare's and Armstrong's lives, and I may even give The Color of Law a spin—I always did like To Kill a Mockingbird.

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