Saturday, October 25, 2014

On My Radar:

Food: A Love Story
Jim Gaffigan
Crown Archetype
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

“What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.” 


Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has made his career rhapsodizing over the most treasured dishes of the American diet (“choking on bacon is like getting murdered by your lover”) and decrying the worst offenders (“kale is the early morning of foods”). Fans flocked to his New York Times bestselling book Dad is Fat to hear him riff on fatherhood but now, in his second book, he will give them what they really crave—hundreds of pages of his thoughts on all things culinary(ish). Insights such as: why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question “which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Available Now:

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Ann Patchett
Harper Perennial
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of  Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto, examines her deepest commitments—to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband—creating a resonant portrait of a life in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett’s life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.


As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Nashville Songwriter: The Inside Stories Behind Country Music's Greatest Hits
Jake Brown
BenBella Books
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Fans of American country music love the personal, relatable stories artists share through their songs. For a country music enthusiast, singing along with a favorite track is more than just jamming to a catchy tune – it’s a way of connecting with the singer’s journey.
Nashville Songwriter gives readers the first completely authorized collection of the true stories that inspired hits by the biggest multi-platinum country superstars of the last half-century – recounted by the songwriters themselves. Award-winning music biographer Jake Brown gives readers an unprecedented, intimate glimpse inside the world of country music songwriting.
Featuring exclusive commentary from country superstars and chapter-length interviews with today’s biggest hit-writers on Music Row, this book chronicles the stories behind smash hits such as:
  • Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind”
  • Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying,” “Southern Voice,” and “Real Good Man”
  • George Jones’s “Tennessee Whiskey”
  • Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and “Cowboy Cassanova”
  • Brooks & Dunn’s “Ain’t Nothin’ Bout You”
  • Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night” and “Just a Kiss”
  • Brad Paisley’s “Mud on the Tires,” “We Danced,” and “I’m Still a Guy”
  • Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind of Night”
  • The Oak Ridge Boys’ “American Made”
  • George Strait’s “Fool Hearted Memory,” “Ocean Front Property,” and “The Best Day,”
  • Rascal Flatts’s “Fast Cars and Freedom,” “Why Wait,” and “Take Me There”
  • Kenny Chesney’s “Living in Fast Forward” and “When the Sun Goes Down”
  • Ricochet’s “Daddy’s Money”
  • Montgomery Gentry’s “If You Ever Stop Lovin’ Me”
  • The Crickets’ “I Fought the Law”
  • Tom T. Hall's “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “A Week in the County Jail”
  • Trace Adkins’s "You’re Gonna Miss This”
  • David Lee Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle”
  • Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” and “Fly Over States”

And many more top country hits over the past 40 years! American 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books
Azar Nafisi
Viking Books
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her million-copy bestseller, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which told the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, she taught The Great Gatsby and other classics to her eager students in Iran. In this exhilarating followup, Nafisi has written the book her fans have been waiting for: an impassioned, beguiling, and utterly original tribute to the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society. What Reading Lolita in Tehran was for Iran, The Republic of Imagination is for America.


Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her in Seattle, where a skeptical reader told her that Americans don’t care about books the way they did back in Iran, she energetically responds to those who say fiction has nothing to teach us. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favorite American novels—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Babbitt, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, among others—she invites us to join her as citizens of her “Republic of Imagination,” a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Good Dog: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty
David DiBenedetto and the editors of Garden & Gun Magazine
Harper Wave
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Garden & Gun magazine’s aptly named Good Dog column is one of the publication’s most popular features. Now editor in chief David DiBenedetto and the editors of Garden & Gun have gathered their favorite essays as well as original pieces for this must-read collection of dog ownership, companionship, and kinship. 
By turns humorous, inspirational, and poignant, Good Dog offers beautifully crafted stories from such notable writers as P. J. O’Rourke, Jon Meacham, and Roy Blount, Jr. From the troublemakers who can’t be fenced in to the lifelong companions who never leave our sides, this one-of-a-kind anthology showcases man’s best friend through all of his most endearing (and maddening) attributes.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

In My TBR Stack:

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
William J. Mann
Harper Books
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

The Day of the Locust meets The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in this juicy, untold Hollywood story: an addictive true tale of ambition, scandal, intrigue, murder, and the creation of the modern film industry.

By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America’s new favorite pastime, and one of the nation’s largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood’s glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies—including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now.

In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him—including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet. And overseeing this entire landscape of intrigue was Adolph Zukor, the brilliant and ruthless founder of Paramount, locked in a struggle for control of the industry and desperate to conceal the truth about the crime. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime—a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.


A true story recreated with the suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a storyteller at the peak of his powers—and the solution to a crime that has stumped detectives and historians for nearly a century.

Friday, October 17, 2014

On My Radar:

Even This I Get to Experience
Norman Lear
Penguin Press
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

In my ninety-plus years I’ve lived a multitude of lives. In the course of all these lives, I had a front-row seat at the birth of television; wrote, produced, created, or developed more than a hundred shows; had nine on the air at the same time; founded the 300,000-member liberal advocacy group People For the American Way; was labeled the “no. 1 enemy of the American family” by Jerry Falwell; made it onto Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List”; was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton; purchased an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and toured it for ten years in all fifty states; blew a fortune in a series of bad investments in failing businesses; and reached a point where I was informed we might even have to sell our home. Having heard that we’d fallen into such dire straits, my son-in-law phoned me and asked how I was feeling. My answer was, “Terrible, of course,” but then I added, “but I must be crazy, because despite all that’s happened, I keep hearing this inner voice saying, ‘Even this I get to experience.’”

Norman Lear’s work is legendary. The renowned creator of such iconic television programs as All in the Family; Maude; Good Times; The Jeffersons; and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Lear remade our television culture from the ground up. At their peak, his programs were viewed by 120 million people a week, with stories that dealt with the most serious issues of the day—racism, poverty, abortion —yet still left audiences howling with laughter. In EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE, Lear opens up with all the candor, humor, and wisdom to be expected from one of America’s greatest living storytellers.

But TV and politics are only a fraction of the tale. Lear’s early years were grounded in the harshness of the Great Depression, and further complicated by his parents’ vivid personalities. The imprisonment of Lear’s father, a believer in the get-rich-quick scheme, colored his son’s childhood. During this absence, Lear’s mother left her son to live with relatives. Lear’s comic gifts were put to good use during this hard time, even as they would be decadeslater during World War II, when Lear produced and staged a variety show for his fellow airmen in addition to flying fifty bombing missions.

After the war, Lear tried his hand at publicity in New York before setting out for Los Angeles in 1949. A lucky break had a powerful agent in the audience the night Danny Thomas performed a nightclub routine written by Lear, and within days his career in television began. Before long his work with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (and later Martha Raye and George Gobel) made him the highest-paid comedy writer in the country, and he was spending his summers with the likes of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Movies followed, and soon he was making films starring Frank Sinatra, Dick Van Dyke, and Jason Robards. Then came the ’70s, and Lear’s unprecedented string of TV hits.


Married three times and the father of six children ranging in age from nineteen to sixty-eight, Lear’s penetrating look at family life, parenthood, and marriage is a volume in itself. A memoir as touching, funny, and remarkable as any of Lear’s countless artistic creations, EVEN THIS I GET TO EXPERIENCE is nothing less than a profound gift, endlessly readable and characteristically unforgettable.