Barack Obama's Memoir Leads Holds This Week | Book Pulse

A Promised Land by Barack Obama leads holds this week, and audio excerpts read by Obama are available. Kirkus picks the best fiction of 2020. Forthcoming book news arrives about The Other Emily by Dean Koontz, Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, and Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. The 2020 Christy Award winners are named.

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Big Books of the Week

A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Crown: Random House) leads holds this week.

Other titles in high demand include:

Daylight by David Baldacci (Grand Central: Hachette)

All That Glitters by Danielle Steel (Delacorte: Random House)

Piece of My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark (S. & S.)

Unlocked Book 8.5 by Shannon Messenger (Aladdin: S. & S.)

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson (Tor: Macmillan)

These books and others publishing the week of Nov. 16, 2020, are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet.

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

There are four LibraryReads selections arriving this week:

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh (Berkley: Penguin)

"Hot Aussie alert! After a bitter divorce (cheating husband with a pregnant nineteen-year-old mistress), Samira left Australia for L.A. Now her cousin has convinced her to return for 6 months. On a night out, Samira is saved from a weirdo by a cute boy much younger than she is, and she’s in for the surprise of a lifetime with her new Boy Toy. For fans of Ayesha at Last and The Wedding Party." —Afton Finley, Waseca Public Library, Waseca, MN

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Hanover Square: Harper Collins)

"A cafe has something magical—if someone sits in a particular chair and a cup of coffee is poured, they can travel to the past. In this slender story, the lives of visitors and staff intertwine, and four hopeful people sit in the chair. While this book deals with different kinds of loss, it's ultimately warm and uplifting. For fans of The Immortalists and Oona Out of Order." —Julie Graham, Yakima Valley Libraries, Yakima, WA

It is also an Indie Next choice:

"This was the most interesting and wholesome take on time travel I have ever read. Everything in the world is totally normal, but if you sit in a specific seat in a specific cafe in Tokyo, you can travel back in time. There are some rules in order to time travel, but my favorite one? You can only stay in the past for as long as your coffee is warm. This charming and emotional story of four different women teaches about the importance of making the most with the time you’re given." —Lauren Suidgeest, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI

The Burning God by R. F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)

"In this satisfying finale to the Poppy War series, Kuang beautifully weaves in much Chinese history while maintaining a distinct storyline. Rin's similarities to Chairman Mao are fully realized by this third book, yet she remains a unique character with complex emotions of both rage and empathy. For fans of series fantasy such as Chakraborty’s Daevabad trilogy and Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty." —Richard Lawhorn, East Cobb Library, Marietta, GA

It is also an Indie Next choice:

"I knew I was going to be blown away by this book, but I had no idea I was going to be sent into the stratosphere. The Poppy War was already a phenomenal debut, but its successors somehow managed to claw themselves to new heights. The Burning God is no exception. As usual, Kuang holds no punches when it comes to describing the raw horror and consequences of war, drawing her characters to impossibly dark corners where their only escape is through catastrophic decisions. The ending ripped my heart from my chest, but I can’t imagine a more satisfying conclusion for this phenomenal trilogy. A perfect triad of books." —Ava Tusek, Second Star to the Right, Denver, CO

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman (Berkley: Penguin)

"Emilia is a devoted daughter, the second daughter in her family, and second daughters are cursed to never marry. Aunt Poppy, another second daughter, invites her on a trip to Italy promising to break the curse. For readers who enjoyed The Old Drift and It’s Not All Down Hill From Here." —Chris Markley, Kingsport Public Library, Kingsport, TN

It is also an Indie Next choice:

"Three second-born daughters take a life-changing trip to Italy in hopes of breaking the family curse dooming all second-born daughters in their family to never find love. You will just adore these three main characters, who spend this journey celebrating love and family, and you will become fully invested in their stories. I just loved the wisdom of Aunt Poppy, the beautiful setting of Italy, and the family tales. Just wonderful!" —Kathy Morrison, Newtown Bookshop, Newtown, PA

There are six additional titles on the Indie Next list coming out this week:

Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, translated by Julia Sanches (HarperVia)

"This an example of a beautifully translated work with a gripping concept. The main character’s compulsion to eat earth felt visceral, the writing enigmatically lyrical. I couldn’t put it down, yet I had to force myself to absorb this book painfully slowly, so as to not let it pass me by." —Tori-Lynn Bell, House of Books, Kent, CT

Little Wishes by Michelle Adams (William Morrow: Harper Collins)

"I loved everything about this book, including the compact size and especially the cover. In this 50-year love story, the two main characters, Elizabeth Davenport and Tom Hale, are apart for almost all of that time period. But every year on the anniversary of their first kiss, Tom leaves a gift for Elizabeth on her doorstep. When his gift fails to arrive in the 50th year, Elizabeth decides that she must find Tom before it is too late." —Connie Eaton, Three Sisters Books & Gifts, Shelbyville, IN

Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han (Riverhead: Penguin)

"Most anyone who grows up in a suburb knows these neighborhoods are not always what they purport to be. Simon Han, in his dazzling debut, blows the curtains wide open on the actual lives a onetime model home might conceal. Deftly shifting time frames and points of view, he gives a piercing, often funny, and deeply moving account of a Chinese family’s struggle to settle into the lives they think they should be living. It’s a coming of age for all of them, each in their own way and time. Far from nothing happening, so much does." —Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West by Lauren Redniss (Random House)

"Oak Flat is simultaneously an object of mesmerizing beauty and an urgent book of complete necessity. Lauren Redniss tells the tale of the struggle to preserve a site sacred to the Apache people from a copper mining project that would destroy it. Her vibrant illustrations and careful curation of competing voices convey the high stakes while honoring the dignity of the people on both sides, and the dignity of the natural world. This book is an astonishing achievement." —Keith Mosman, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR

The Orchard by David Hopen (Ecco: HarperCollins)

"Evocative of both Donna Tartt and Chaim Potok, The Orchard boldly dives into the depth of teen drama and Jewish philosophy and emerges with a heartfelt story of transformation. Ari is entering his senior year when his parents decide to move from their Orthodox Brooklyn community to a more modern enclave in suburban Miami. His surprising acceptance into an elite clique at his new school has him grappling with questions regarding pleasure and spirituality as he attempts to find his way with his new peers. Straying from the teachings of his youth, he is drawn to investigate his religion in increasingly surprising ways, with unforeseen consequences. An impressive debut!" —Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection by Steve Martin, illustrated by Harry Bliss (Bloomsbury: Macmillan) 

"In this hot mess of a year, what we really needed was a bit of Steve Martin’s humor. I’m not saying that sarcastically at all: A good laugh cures a lot of ills, and this is full of good laughs. Sharp wit, silly observations, clever art — Martin and Bliss offer up not just the perfect holiday gift, but perhaps the perfect antidote to 2020." —Melissa Fox, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

In the Media 

The December issue of Entertainment Weekly arrives. “The Must List” includes The Orchard by David Hopen (Ecco: HarperCollins), A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill: Penguin), the Batman/Catwoman series by Tom King and Clay Mann (DC Comics), and the film adaptations of Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau; LJ starred review) and Nomadland by Jessica Bruder (W. W. Norton; LJ starred review). In the issue as well, interviews with Ernest Cline, Ready Player Two (Ballantine: Random House), and John Ridley, The Other History of the DC Universe (DC Comics), plus a chat between Rachel Bloom, I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are (Grand Central: Hachette), and Michelle Buteau, Survival of the Thickest: Essays (Gallery: S. & S.). Cazzie David, No One Asked for This (Mariner: HMH) shares things that make her anxious. Also, a behind-the-scenes look at Bridgerton, based on the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (St. Martin's Griffin: Macmillan) recommends To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Kenan Thompson recommends How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (One World: Random House; LJ starred review). A look at this year's unusual, all-virtual book awards season highlights Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Grove; LJ starred review), Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco: Harper), and Luster by Raven Leilani (FSG: Macmillan). Also, there's a drink recipe from Jessica Strand, Very Merry Cocktails: 50+ Festive Drinks for the Holiday Season (Chronicle).

People’s "Book of the Week" is The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown: Hachette). I’ll Be Seeing You by Elizabeth Berg (Random House) and No One Asked for This by Cazzie David (Mariner: HMH) are also getting attention. Other coverage includes Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Penguin); Alex Trebek, The Answer Is . . . : Reflections on My Life (S. & S.); Al Roker, You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success (Hachette Go); Debbie Allen, Success Is Easy: Shameless, No-nonsense Strategies to Win in Business (Entrepreneur: Ingram); Barbara Pierce Bush, Sisters First (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Hachette). People "Picks" include The Life Ahead, based on the book The Life Before Us by Romain Gary; Big Sky, based on The Highway by CJ Box., and I Am Greta, which has associated titles.


The NYT reviews Singular Sensation: The Triumph of Broadway by Michael Riedel (Avid Reader: S. & S.; LJ starred review): "...[The book] feels like a gossipy conversation, after a show, at a restaurant in the theater district." Also, its "Books of the Times" columns cover A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Crown: Random House) and Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple by Jacques Pépin (HMH; LJ starred review).

The Washington Post reviews We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper (Grand Central: Hachette): "...the book is more than just a mystery: It’s a meditation on academia, womanhood and the power of storytelling."

NPR reviews A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Crown: Random House): "Whatever one's feelings about this man, they are likely to be brought to the surface by this book. We hear his voice in every sentence, almost as if he were physically present and reading the book aloud." Also, One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen Cooney (Coffee House): "One Night Two Souls Went Walking is a triumph of a novel, and one that arrives at the perfect time — we're all living in an injured world, hoping for some kind of deliverance." Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (Avon: Harper): "A delightful, heart-warming romance, Bellefleur's novel shows eloquently how two characters can fall in love more deeply than either dared to dream."

Briefly Noted

The 2020 Christy Award winners are named.

Kirkus picks the best fiction of the year.

USA Today picks five books for the week.

CrimeReads picks 10 for the week. lists the new horror and genre-bending books out this month.

Parade features new releases about Christmas.

A cover reveal and excerpt from The Other Emily by Dean Koontz (Thomas & Mercer: Amazon) is up at CrimeReads. It's due out March 2021.

Jonathan Franzen will publish Crossroads (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the first in A Key to All Mythologies trilogy, in 2021. Kirkus has details. 

Patrick Radden Keefe's Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (Doubleday) is due out April 2021. Publishers Weekly reports.

Bindi Irwin announced a new book, Creating a Conservation Legacy, about her late father Steve Irwin and their family's conservation efforts, on Instagram. 

The NYT profiles Rachel Bloom, I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are (Grand Central: Hachette). Also, an interview with Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of the Booker Prize-nominated This Mournable Body (Garywolf: Macmillan).

Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (Chronicle), shares her favorite books of the year with Amazon.

The Washington Post speaks with Steve Martin and Harry Bliss about A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection (Bloomsbury: Macmillan).

Susie Yang talks with Parade about White Ivy (S. & S.; LJ starred review).

The Star Tribune profiles Minnesota's own Charles Baxter, The Sun Collective (Pantheon: Random House).

The Atlantic features The Power of Adrienne Rich by Hilary Holladay (Nan A. Talese: Random House).

Marilynne Robinson discusses Jack (FSG: Macmillan; LJ starred review) with the L.A. Times during its Festival of Books.

Vogue interviews Pepe Karmel, Abstract Art: A Global History (Thames & Hudson: W. W. Norton).

Peter Frampton, Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir (Hachette), speaks with Lit Hub.

Salon has a Q&A with Nadiya Hussain, Time to Eat: Delicious Meals for Busy Lives (Michael Joseph).

Entertainment Weekly interviews Cazzie David, No One Asked for This (Mariner: HMH).

Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown (Pantheon: Random House), answers the Book Marks Questionnaire.

The Rumpus speaks with Melissa Faliveno, Tomboyland (Topple: Little A.).

The Guardian interviews Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Book Riot looks at "What Makes Good Jacket Copy."

According to booksellers that use NPD BookScan, James Patterson was the bestselling author of the 2010s. Publishers Weekly reports.

The New Republic wonders "Can Book Publishers Afford to Publish Donald Trump?"

Booksellers that have struggled during the pandemic are hoping President Obama's memoir can turn the tide. The NYT reports.

Authors on Air

NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday interviews Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (Grove; LJ starred review). Its Morning Edition sits down with President Obama; they also have excerpts of his memoir, read by him.

Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half (Riverhead: Penguin), talks with CBC's Writers and Company.

The First Draft podcast features Susan Minot, Why I Don’t Write: And Other Stories (Knopf).

On CBS Sunday Morning Gayle King speaks with Barack Obama, A Promised Land (Crown: Random House). Also, a profile of Leonard Lauder, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty (Harper Business), and pie tips from Lauren Ko, Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design for the Eye and the Palate (William Morrow Cookbooks: HarperCollins).

Anthony Horowitz discusses Alex Rider, which is based on his series, with Amazon.

Jean Hanff Korelitz talks with The Washington Post about The Undoing, based on her book You Should Have Known.(Grand Central: Hachette).

Ruby Bridges, This Is Your Time (Delacorte Books for Young Readers: Random House), is on The View today.

Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights (Crown: Random House), is on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today.

Cazzie David, No One Asked for This (Mariner: HMH), will be on Late Night with Seth Meyers tonight.

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