Oprah Picks American Dirt & Reese Witherspoon is Hiring a Librarian-in-Residence

Oprah picks American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins as her next book club title. So does B&N. The controversy over the book has now broken wide. The Edgar Award nominations will be announced today. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes makes Snow the hero. Reese Witherspoon’s HelloSunshine is hiring a Librarian-in-Residence.

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Book Club News

Oprah picks American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron: Macmillan; LJ starred review) as her newest book club title. The announcement came on CBS This Morning. The L.A. Times writes she “wades into … controversy.” Vulture answers the question “Why Is Everyone Arguing About the Novel.” Entertainment Weekly also has coverage. The Washington Post does too. The Guardian features Cummins on its Books podcast.

Last week, and this, reviews have been mixed, largely focused on the debate, but also the reading experience. Today USA Today reviews the novel, giving it 1.5 stars and calling it “problematic” and writing it “positions itself as the great sociopolitical novel of our era. Instead, it reeks of opportunism, substituting character arcs for mere trauma.”

B&N has also picked the novel for its book club. They too have a podcast episode with the author

Reese Witherspoon’s HelloSunshine is hiring a Librarian-in-Residence who will “talk about our book picks with Reese, speak directly with our authors, and have fun and entertaining conversations with our community.” If you are job hunting, here is the link. It is a video process, and, which might be the kicker, you have to be able to dance.


The NYT reviews Processed Cheese by Stephen Wright (Little, Brown: Hachette): “By the time I reached the end ... with its inevitable showdown and reckoning, I felt overwhelmed by both the satire and the violence. All that kept me going was Wright’s sentences, so wonderful, so bizarre, $100 bills pulled endlessly from a canvas bag.” The paper has an excerpt of the novel. Also, Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Hachette): “Simon has given young readers a rare chance to celebrate the extraordinary courage of someone like Sally, and a chance to understand where it comes from.” The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One) by Joseph Elliott (Walker Books: Candlewick Press): “a story fantasy-loving young readers may not even know they’ve been waiting for.” Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi (W.W. Norton): “What work best are the book’s language and the evocation of South India.” The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism by Kyle Chayka (Bloomsbury: Macmillan): “Reading Chayka’s book put me in mind of a longing for less stuff, and a longing for more support.” Lastly, the paper features “New & Noteworthy Visual Books.”

NPR reviews The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg (Hachette): “accomplishes what any good murder mystery should. It shines a spotlight on a nexus of people and a place …  makes the reading experience uniquely thoughtful and introspective. The insights into human nature are the real gritty, good stuff you get from reading a masterful work of journalism like this one.”

USA Today reviews A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (Ballantine: Random House), giving it 3 stars and writing “Allende shows that love is the base of all stories. While debate and policy surround the issues of refugees and immigration, Allende reminds us that these issues, at their core, are made up of individuals and their love stories.”

The Washington Post reviews Followers by Megan Angelo (Graydon House: Harper): “with its terrific writing about terrifying ideas, is destined to be such a talker that you must read it immediately or risk being out of the loop.” Also, Processed Cheese by Stephen Wright (Little, Brown: Hachette): “Nothing else I’ve read is as faithful to the obscenity of these latter days, the consummation of vacuous pop culture and complete social bankruptcy. For readers who can stomach it, “Processed Cheese” is jolting enough to reveal what degradation we’ve become inured to.” The paper also has audiobook picks.

Briefly Noted

Entertainment Weekly excerpts The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press). The hero is Snow.

The Edgar Award nominations will be announced today. They will be posted here.

The André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards are announced.

In forthcoming book news, People reports that Jenna Bush Hager is writing a collection of essays about her grandparents, Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss (William Morrow), due out April 28, 2020. It is already selling well. People also has a report on The Art of Breaking Up by hitRECord (Harper Design), which is co-created by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (Minotaur: Macmillan) will publish on Sept. 1, 2020. It too is already preselling well.

Paste excerpts The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (Wednesday Books: Macmillan).

The Hollywood Reporter writes a new Black Widow comic is coming in April, a month ahead of the film starring Scarlett Johansson.

Entertainment Weekly reports Wonder Woman is getting a super-sized anthology with Wonder Woman #750. There is a report and a visual excerpt. It comes out next week, but a hardcover edition arrives in June.

The Guardian has news that Noel Streatfeild’s children’s classic, Ballet Shoes (which featured in You’ve Got Mail), is getting a modern update by Carrie Hope Fletcher. It will “mark both the 125th anniversary of Streatfeild’s birth and the 80th anniversary of Puffin.” Other projects for the anniversary are in the works too. Bib. info is not yet released.

The NYT features Iliana Regan, Burn the Place: A Memoir (Agate Midway). Also, a profile of Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown (Pantheon: Random House).

The New Yorker profiles N.K. Jemisin.

PEN Ten interviews Tochi Onyebuchi, Riot Baby (Tor.com).

Entertainment Weekly interviews Olivia Hayfield, Wife After Wife (Berkley: Penguin).

The Guardian runs an essay by Stephanie Land, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive (Hachette), about “leading an invisible life in poverty.”

Slate considers The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism by Kyle Chayka (Bloomsbury: Macmillan).

The NYT has news that reporter and author Glenn Greenwald, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Metropolitan Books: Macmillan) has been charged with cybercrimes in Brazil.

Twitter is debating the wisdom of cutting big books in half to make them easier to carry. The Washington Post weighs in and has links. So too does Vox.

Sheila Newberry has died. The Bookseller has an obituary.

Authors on Air

Deadline reports that season two of Altered Carbon will air on Netflix on Feb. 27. The Witcher is toping Netflix’s ratings and there is new information on how the streamer figures out its ratings. The Expanse gets more series regulars for season five. Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. on Hulu gets new voiceover cast members. Author Nick Hornby is writing a new series to star Laura Dern. Bad Robot will develop films and TV shows based on DC’s Justice League Dark universe.

Tor.com writes more about season five of The Expanse.

The Hollywood Reporter has news that Brian K. Vaughan’s comic Ex Machina is getting adapted into a film titled The Great Machine.

The Today show featured Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free by Susan Peirce Thompson, PHD (Hay House: Penguin).

Belletrist Studio Sessions has a new episode, featuring the creative director of Catapult.

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