John le Carré Dies at 89 | Book Pulse

John le Carré, author of Cold War thrillers such as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, died of pneumonia on Saturday at the age of 89. NYPD Red 6 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp leads holds this week. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett tops LibraryReads' Voter Favorites 2020 list, and more of the year's best-of lists are out from USA Today, BuzzFeed, Autostraddle, and others. The NYT examines fiction published between 1950 and 2018 to investigate just how white the book industry is. Plus, adaptation news about The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan and Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War by Ken Adelman.

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John le Carré Remembered

Author John le Carré died of pneumonia on Saturday at the age of 89. Best known for Cold War thrillers including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, he began his writing carreer after working as a British intelligence officer, an employer who would not allow him to write under his own name, which was David John Moore Cornwell. 

He is remembered with obituaries in multiple outlets, including the NYT, The Washington Post, Variety, the L.A. Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, and NPR. Also, CrimeReads recommends a TV interview with him from 1965, and Vulture republished a piece that provides a useful starting point for those who've never read his books before.

Big Books of the Week

NYPD Red 6 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Grand Central: Hachette) leads holds this week.

Other titles in high demand include:

A Hanging at Dawn: A Bess Crawford Short Story by Charles Todd (Witness Impulse: HarperCollins)

Dream Chaser by Kristen Ashley (Forever: Hachette)

Garfield Goes Hog Wild: His 70th Book by Jim Davis (Ballantine: Random House)

The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston (St. Martin's: Macmillan)

These books and others publishing the week of Dec. 14, 2020, are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

There are no LibraryReads or Indie Next selections coming out this week. However, the LibraryReads Voter Favorites 2020 list is up. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Riverhead: Penguin) tops the list of ten best books voted on by librarians across the country:

"Centering on two twin light-skinned black girls who grew up in a strange town in the Jim Crow south, this book explores racism, colorism, sexism, and familial relationships through the interweaving storylines of vivid and complicated characters. For fans of Red at the Bone by (Woodson)." —Pamela Gardner, Medfield Public Library, Medfield, MA

In the Media

People "Picks" features best-of 2020 lists, which include The Queen's Gambit, based on the book by Walter Tevis; I'll Be Gone in the Dark, based on the book by Michelle McNamara; Normal People, based on the book by Sally Rooney; and The Baby-Sitters Club, based on the series by Ann M. Martin. People's best books of the year are also available to view online. Hawa Hassan, In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean (Ten Speed: Random House), and Talia Pollock, Party in Your Plants: 100+ Plant-Based Recipes and Problem-Solving Strategies to Help You Eat Healthier (Without Hating Your Life) (Avery: Random House), share recipes.


The Washington Post reviews Salt Wars: The Battle Over the Biggest Killer in the American Diet by Michael F. Jacobson (MIT): "...the book both sounds an alarm and presents an analysis of why so many of us remain content to consume too much salt every day." Also, A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers (The Unnamed Press; LJ starred review): "...a macabre banquet of a suspense novel, serving up carnal and gustatory surprises." The Book of Moods: How I Turned My Worst Emotions Into My Best Life by Lauren Martin (Grand Central: Hachette): "...if you’ve found yourself, like she has, stewing for hours over a single rude encounter, or disproportionately exasperated by a flight delay, you might choose to buy into her premise and take from it what you can." A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas (Yale): "...gripping." 

The NYT reviews Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic edited by Alice Quinn (Knopf: Random House): "It makes American poetry seem as if it is dazed and sated, in critical care and intubated."

Book Marks rounds up "The Best Reviewed Mystery and Crime Fiction of 2020."

Briefly Noted

USA Today selects the top 13 books of the year.

BuzzFeed lists its 20 favorite books released this year.

Vulture updates its list of "The Best Books of the Year (So Far)."

Booklist rounds up all its starred titles published this year.

Autostraddle offers "67 of the Best Queer Books of 2020."

The editors of Wired share the best books they read this year.

The NYT picks "The Best Poetry of 2020."

Kirkus selects the best YA books of the year.

CrimeReads has the best noir fiction of the year, and looks at 5 new books out this week.

Smithsonian magazine chooses the year's best photography books.

EarlyWord’s GalleyChat for December is posted. lists the horror and genre-bending titles out in December.

Gina Homolka shares her favorite books of the year with Amazon.

Publishers Weekly interviews Talia Hibbert, whose 18th novel, Act Your Age, Eve Brown (Avon: HarperCollins), is due out in March 2021. 

Entertainment Weekly's "What's in a Page" column features Jean Kwok, Searching for Sylvie Lee (William Morrow: HarperCollins).

This ideal library in the NYT includes a "librarian appreciation banquet." 

Datebook interviews Gene Kahane, who has been posting poetry to trees in Alameda, CA during the pandemic.

Lit Hub is counting down the biggest literary stories of 2020. Today, stories 50 through 31.

The NYT investigates just how white the book industry is, finding that about 95 percent of English-language, widely read fiction books released between 1950 and 2018 by major publishing houses were written by white people.

Publishers Weekly reports on several Black booksellers who dispute the way the sale of Tattered Cover Bookstore has been framed.

Jerrold M. Post, a C.I.A. analyst and author of 14 books, has passed away. The NYT has an obituary. The paper also has a memorial for sci-fi author and editor Ben Bova, who died last month.

Authors on Air

Actor Anne Winters will produce an adaptation of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan (William Morrow: HarperCollins). Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz will star in a limited series adaptation of Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War by Ken Adelman (Broadside). Deadline has details on all.

CBS Sunday Morning profiles Brandon Stanton, Humans (St. Martin’s Press: Macmillan). Also, a celebration of Nancy Drew at 90.

NPR's Code Switch discusses some underappreciated books of the year.

On NPR's Fresh Air, Rachel Maddow talks about Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House (Crown: Random House; LJ starred review).

Nik Sharma, The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained in More Than 100 Essential Recipes (Chronicle), explains "flavor is a full-body experience" in a chat with NPR's Short Wave.

The Keen On podcast interviews Julian E. Zelizer, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party (Penguin).

HuffPosts' And THAT’s That! podcast features Zerlina Maxwell, The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide (Hachette).

Rick Perlstein discusses Reaganland: America's Right Turn 1976-1980 (S. & S.; LJ starred review), his final volume on the history of the modern conservative movement, with Vanity Fair's Inside the Hive podcast.

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