How Do We Read in 2020? NEA Has Some Answers | Book Pulse

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben (Grand Central: Hachette) leads holds this week. The National Endowment for the Arts has issued their 2020 “How Do We Read” report. David Lagercrantz is going to write a modern Sherlock Holmes series. More Ursula K. Le Guin work is set for the Library of America. Lin-Manuel Miranda releases a never-heard song from Hamilton.

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Big Books of the Week

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben (Grand Central: Hachette) leads holds this week.

Other titles in demand include:

Hit List by Stuart Woods (G.P. Putnam's Sons: Penguin)

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs (Scribner: S. & S.)

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs (Ace: Penguin)

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday: Random House)

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

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

Two LibraryReads titles publish this week, one is also on the Indie Next list:

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian (Doubleday: Random House)

"In the aftermath of her boyfriend’s disappearance in contemporary Vietnam, a New York ER doctor discovers the shocking truth about his secret life. This is an exciting edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you reading well into the night.” —Marion Sheehan, Canterbury Public Library, Canterbury, CT

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (Berkley: Penguin)

“Terrific psychological suspense based on an actual case where a mother deliberately made her daughter sick for years. The story is told in alternating perspectives from the points of view of Rose Gold and her mother, Patty, complex characters who are masterfully drawn, seeming sympathetic at some points and unsympathetic in others. For readers who liked The Silent Patient and The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.” —Alice Kober, Arapahoe Library District, Englewood, CO

It is also an Indie Next pick:

“Rose Gold’s mother is being released from prison and has asked her daughter for temporary shelter. Despite having been the target of her mother’s abuse, Rose Gold decides to give it a try. Has she really forgiven her mother for past crimes? This is a roller coaster of a story! Loved it!” —Marcia Vanderford, Vanderford’s Books & Office Products, Sandpoint, ID

Two more Indie Next selections publish this week:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Tor Books: Macmillan)

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a heart-swelling wave of sweetness and hope. Mild-mannered government caseworker Linus Baker is sent on a secret assignment to an island orphanage he’s never even heard of. The astonishing inhabitants he gets to know there will change his life and make him reassess everything he thought he knew. This book will leave you believing in the good in everyone — even those society has given up on — and contemplating how huge changes have to start somewhere.” —Haley Stocking, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (Bloomsbury: Macmillan)

Beheld is a story of the Pilgrims and Puritans, the beginning of the Plymouth colony, and the first murder that occurred there. It’s a fascinating look at family, love, the importance of friendship, corruption, and human behavior. I have not read many books that take place during this time period but this one, which is primarily told from the voices of two women, is just fantastic!” —Kathy Morrison, Newtown Bookshop, Newtown, PA

In The Media

The April issue of Entertainment Weekly is out. There is a story about American Dirt and “Publishing’s Reckoning,” that details the meeting with #DignidadLiteraria and Macmillan as well as listing the past year’s key literary scandals. Also in Books (and already online) a piece on The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt: Macmillan; LJ starred review) as well as reviews of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf: Random House; LJ starred review), which gets an A- and the line: “The plotting marks a master in her prime.” Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (The Overlook Press: Abrams), earning a B-: “Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s writing is crisp, but the story she tells can be muddled.” The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (Hub City Press), nabbing an A-: “weaves between resentment and redemption in its unvarnished portrait of ignorance and cruelty.” Godshot by Chelsea Bieker (Catapult; LJ starred review) also earns an A-: “Fiercely written and endlessly readable.” Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore (Harper) lands a B+: "a monument to a sort of singular grace, and true grit.” Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin: Workman; LJ starred review) gets a B: “The author doesn’t break any new ground but does settle into a deeply poignant groove.” In the “Books of My Life” column Miranda July, Miranda July (Prestel: Penguin), “Talks Kid Lit, Queer Romance, and More.” N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became (Orbit: Hachette), features in “The Making of the Book” column. On “The Must List” are Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby (Vintage: Random House; LJ starred review), I Know This Much is True, No Time to Die (but it has been moved to November). Chrissy Teigen has her own “Must List.” It includes People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry (FSG). In the film section there is a feature on Black Widow and Mulan. In TV the focus is on Little Fires Everywhere, Riverdale, The Walking Dead, My Brilliant Friend. There is a recipe from The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray (Weldon Owen: S. & S.).

People’s Book of the Week is Untamed by Glennon Doyle (The Dial Press: Random House). Also getting notice are The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (Harper; LJ starred review) and The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt: Macmillan; LJ starred review). There is a Q&A with Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, author of Manners Begin at Breakfast: Modern Etiquette for Families (Vendome Press: Abrams). Rounding out the issues, and on the “Picks” list, are Little Fires Everywhere, The Plot Against America, and Stargirl.


The Washington Post reviews The Adventurer's Son: A Memoir by Roman Dial (William Morrow: Harper): “a beautiful and tender book.” Also, Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back To Save Democracy by David Daley (Liveright: W.W. Norton): “While these citizen-led initiatives were reaffirming, Daley is far from optimistic about where America is headed in 2020.” The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland (Abrams): “an entertaining and impressively comprehensive field guide to the rapidly evolving world of genetic testing. Strap on your seat belt, because this is not your gray-haired father’s harmless hobby.” Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism by Elizabeth Tallent (Harper): “a brave and complex memoir — though a sometimes heavy-going read.” Operation Chastise: The RAF's Most Brilliant Attack of World War II by Max Hastings (Harper): “a remarkable book, well in keeping with the impressive track record that Hastings long ago established as an astute chronicler of the human dimension of 20th-century conflict.” Lastly, a gathering of books about “Blaming the poor for their own condition.”

USA Today reviews Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (Bloomsbury: Macmillan), giving it 3 stars and calling it “compelling.”

The NYT also reviews Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (Bloomsbury: Macmillan): “The novel is most successful where it allows itself to stray from historical fact and plot — to invent and to play with language, to give itself imaginative time and space. Nesbit is brilliant in those moments, and captures a paradox of historical writing — that it’s in the invention and improvisation that the past feels most pressing and most real.”

Michael Polland reviews Coffeeland: One Man's Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick (Penguin) for The Atlantic, writing “his literary gifts and prodigious research make for a deeply satisfying reading experience studded with narrative surprise.”

Briefly Noted

The National Endowment for the Arts has issued their 2020 report “How Do We Read.” It is based on 2017 data and compares how adult readers vary between those who read “print only, who read books electronically, and who listen to audiobooks.” There is both a full report and an excerpt of the key findings.

USA Today picks five books for the week. Also, five books for St. Patrick’s Day.

Paste has “The 10 Best Audiobooks of March 2020.”

The Atlantic has a new short story by Souvankham Thammavongsa, “Edge of the World.” More with Souvankham Thammavongsa here.

HuffPost features Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title by Leslie Gray Streeter (Little, Brown: Hachette; LJ starred review). Also, a piece on My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow: Harper; LJ starred review).

Elle also has a story on My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (William Morrow: Harper; LJ starred review).

People features Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John, Daniel Paisner (Currency: Random House).

The NYT has a piece about “Gothic Horror Fiction, Old and New.”

Time interviews N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became (Orbit: Hachette).

The NYT interviews Paul Lisicky, Later: My Life at the Edge of the World (Graywolf: Macmillan).

The Guardian interviews Annalena McAfee, Nightshade (Knopf).

David Lagercrantz is going to write a modern Sherlock Holmes series. It will begin in 2021. The Bookseller has details.

More Ursula K. Le Guin work is set for the Library of America. has details.

Vogue asks Zadie Smith and Sheila Heti about writing “for Rachel Comey's Multidisciplinary New Zine,” RC.

The NYT reports on Writers Bloc, the LA reading series.

In coronavirus news: The NYT writes about the NYPL’s 42nd Street reading room as it closes due to the virus. Related, Electric Lit offers a piece by author Amy Klein, “What It’s Like to Promote a Book in the Middle of a Pandemic.” Canada Reads 2020 has been postponed. CBC reports that news. The sping issue of Publishing Perspectives magazine looks at “Publishing in Times of Crisis.”

Betsy Byars, Newbery Medal-winning children’s author, has died. The NYT has an obituary.

Allen Bellman has died. He worked on the Captain America comics during the Golden Age of the industry. Deadline has a remembrance.

Authors on Air

NPR interviews Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Hachette; SLJ starred review).

Lin-Manuel Miranda releases a never heard song from Hamilton. It features Hamilton asking Washington for advice. Town & Country has coverage.

Vulture features Lost Girls, based on the book by Robert Kolker. Esquire also has a story.

Disney releases early editons of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (digital home video) and Frozen 2 (on Disney+), so they can be watched at home. Deadline reports on Star Wars; has the Frozen news.

NPR’s Fresh Air considers HBO’s adaptation of The Plot Against America.

True History of the Kelly Gang gets a trailer. It debuts on April 24. It is based on the novel by Peter Carey.

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