Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama, and Rihanna Make Book News, Oct. 8, 2019 | Book Pulse

Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama, and Rihanna have new titles. The Harvey Awards are announced. James Comey's A Higher Loyalty casts up and heads to CBS. There are new book club picks, and Lit Hub selects the best 10 short stories of the decade.

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Women Rule The Book Buzz







USA Today reports that a book of Toni Morrison quotes is set for December, The Measure of Our Lives: A Gathering of Wisdom (Knopf), with a foreword by Zadie Smith.

Also in big new book news, Michelle Obama will publish a guided journal tied to Becoming, Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice (Clarkson Potter: Random House). USA Today reports. No surprise, sales are already soaring.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Rihanna is out with a “visual autobiography” from Phaidon entitled Rihanna. It publishes on the 10th. Here are more images. Vulture writes about it too, and that there will be four editions, starting at $150.00 and going up to $5,500 (but that “Ultra Luxury Supreme” version has already sold out).


The NYT reviews Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky (Grand Central: Hachette): “Chbosky’s true skill is in turning a book of absolute horrors — both fantastical and real — into an uplifting yarn.” Also, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz (Viking: Penguin): “Marantz’s searching attempt to understand people he describes as truly deplorable without letting his moral compass get wrecked.” Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law by James B. Stewart (Penguin): “there are ample grounds for suspicion that Trump’s well-documented efforts to obstruct justice succeeded.” Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America by Kate Pickert (Little, Brown: Hachette): “should be required reading.” Fever Year: The Killer Flu of 1918 by Don Brown (HMH Books for Young Readers): “His goal is clear — put readers directly into the action and make them part of the events. He achieves this goal in an unexpected way.” Born to Fly: The First Women's Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin, illustrated by Bijou Karman (Roaring Brook Press: Macmillan; SLJ starred review): “makes the Derby pilots’ passion for the sky so contagious, even a white-knuckle flier’s heart can’t help but soar.” Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith (Penguin): “While the collection might not coalesce as a unit, it contains some of Smith’s most vibrant, original fiction, the kind of writing she’ll surely be known for.” How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones (S. & S.; LJ starred review): “devastating.” The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit: Victorian Iconoclast, Children’s Author, and Creator of The Railway Children by Eleanor Fitzsimons (Abrams): “handily reassembles the hundreds of intricate, idiosyncratic parts of the miraculous E. Nesbit machine; but the secret of how she made it all come together and hum remains intact.” Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones by Daniel Mendelsohn (New York Review Books: Random House): “Some of the finest moments in this collection emerge when he examines our misinterpretations.” Marley by Jon Clinch (Atria: S. & S.; LJ starred review): “black as hell, outstripping even Dickens’s remorseless and painful probings of his protagonist’s soul.” Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear (S. & S.). : “at their best describing the chaotic inner processes of the administration. They are less successful when they attempt to describe the effects of the crackdown on actual human beings — or give insight into the perpetrators of the Trump policies. Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church (FSG: Macmillan): “paints a nuanced portrait of the lure and pain of zealotry, though she leaves many questions unanswered.”

The Washington Post reviews The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (FSG: Macmillan): "brilliant.” Also, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books: S. & S.; SLJ starred review): “Reynolds connects his characters to their community — a living world larger than them — in playful, often profound ways.”

In a dual review, Entertainment Weekly considers The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: Penguin), giving it an A- and writing it “returns the vampire novel to popular form, evoking the style of Anne Rice and breathing fresh life into the genre.” Also, Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2) by Victoria Schwab (Scholastic), giving it an A- too and writing “Part paranormal travelogue, part BFF adventure, Tunnel of Bones dips and dives through the streets of Paris to deliver a middle-grade novel far darker and oh-so-French than it has any right to be.”

USA Today reviews Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman Books: Penguin; LJ starred review), giving it 3.5 stars and writing that it is “stellar.”

NPR reviews Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie (Random House): “worth reading if you're interested in some of the bigger questions of the day: elections; data; Russia's involvement in all of this; Steve Bannon's power plays in global politics; the list of politicians who make an appearance at the Cambridge Analytica.” The book jumped in sales.

Briefly Noted

Barnes & Noble picks Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron: Macmillan; LJ starred review) as its October book club title.

Bustle’s book club pick for October is Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey: Random House; LJ starred review), suggested by Fonda Lee.

The Harvey Awards are announced.

The Guardian asked Margaret Atwood and others how to write a Booker Prize contender.

Voting is open for the Not the Booker prize.

Barbara Hoffert has new Prepub Alert posts on LJ.

Lit Hub picks “The 10 Best Short Story Collections of the Decade.”

CrimeReads gathers “5 Psychological Thrillers To Read In October.”

BuzzFeed selects “19 Really Great YA Books You'll Want To Pick Up This Fall.”

Electric Lit gathers “9 Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories about Music.”

Amazon’s Book Review picks “Best science fiction and fantasy of October.”

Entertainment Weekly excerpts The Betrothed by Kiera Cass (May 2020). Also, an excerpt from The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal by Clint McElroy, Carey Pietsch, et. al. (First Second: Macmillan). The latter got a huge boost in sales.

Entertainment Weekly interviews Shea Serrano, Movies (And Other Things): (And Other Things) (Twelve: Hachette).

Shondaland interviews Shamim Sarif, The Athena Protocol (HarperTeen).

The NYT interviews Steven Vogel, Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation (Custom House: Harper).

Electric Lit interviews Lilly Dancyger, editor of Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger (Seal Press: Hachette).

Nylon interviews Natasha Stagg, Sleeveless: Fashion, Image, Media, New York 2011–2019 (Semiotext(e): MIT Press).

Lit Hub asks Thomas Chatterton Williams, Jeannie Vanasco, Steph Cha, Mark Haber, and Alexandra Jacobs to answer its questionnaire.

USA Today features Jimmy Fallon’s This is Baby (Feiwel & Friends: Macmillan).

Book Riot has a reading pathway for comic master Harvey Pekar.

CrimeReads has “A Cultural History of Nancy Drew."

Daniel Mendelsohn, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (New York Review Books: Random House), offers “Five Great Books About Criticism” for Lit Hub. has a report on the standing room only panel at NYCC on The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 guest edited by Carmen Maria Machado (Mariner Books: HMH).

The Guardian writes that a letter from Jane Austen to her sister will be sold at auction. Topics addressed include fashion and the dentist. Also, an exhibit of JD Salinger letters, photographs, and notebooks will open at the NYPL.

Schools are rewarding kids with coins for the book vending machine. details the program.

Amazon makes a Kindle for kids.

BuzzFeed reports that an author is raising issues with Jojo Moyes, stating that there are “disturbing similarities” between her book and Moyes’s newest.

Haaretz writes that Turkey has confiscated more than 300,000 books.

Author and poet Günter Kunert has died. The NYT has an obituary.

Authors on Air

Deadline reports James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty is set for a four-hour mini-series at CBS. Jeff Daniels will play Comey and Brendan Gleeson will play Trump. Also, a focus on the forthcoming comic Undiscovered Country (Image Comics) and news that the adaptation of Aaron Blabey’s The Bad Guys book series is set for 2021.

NPR interviews Susan Rice, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (S. & S.). Also, an interview with James B. Stewart, Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law (Penguin). Stewart’s book is soaring in sales.

Today featured four books yesterday, including  Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World by Cleo Wade (Atria: S. & S.), which got a boost is sales as well.

Book Riot has a list of the books to hit screens this fall.

Whitney Cummings, I’m Fine…And Other Lies (G.P. Putnam), will be on with James Corden. Susan Rice, Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (S. & S.), will feature on The Daily Show. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Letters from an Astrophysicist (W.W. Norton), will be on The View. Jimmy Fallon, This is Baby (Feiwel & Friends: Macmillan), will be on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

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Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ’s readers’ advisory columnist, contributing The Reader’s Shelf, Book Pulse, and Wyatt’s World columns. She is the coauthor of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2019). Contact her at

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