It won't surprise you to hear I was immediately drawn to THE BOOK OF MY LIVES, Aleksander Hemon's memoir in essays, because of that charming blue alien fellow on the cover. Despite the harsh disappointment I experienced when I found out this was not, in fact, science fiction, I've come back to this book again and again because of the glowing praise it gets from readers with hearts both warmed and broken.
Here are a few quotes from reviews:
"Amuses, informs and inspires—then, finally, rips open the heart." —Kirkus Reviews
"The book culminates with 'The Aquarium,' 28 heart-wrenching pages of powerful prose originally published in the New Yorker, about his infant daughter’s battle with cancer that is nothing short of a tour de force; its terrible beauty demonstrates Hemon’s transformation as a writer and a man." —Publishers Weekly
Barbara Hoffert of Library Journal selected it for her March 2013 picks list and said, "Folded within this narrative, though, is a tale of two cities—Sarajevo and Chicago—and his love for them both, for his family, and for soccer."
And we just found out it will be on the April Indie Next List!
FSG posted a vine of Hemon signing copies of THE BOOK OF MY LIVES in the office. Lookie.Read more
For all the Yogis out there looking for their next yoga memoir fix, look no further than HELL-BENT: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga by Benjamin Lorr.
Benjamin Lorr walked into his first yoga studio on a whim, overweight and curious, and quickly found the yoga reinventing his life. He was studying Bikram Yoga (or “hot yoga”) when a run-in with a master and competitive yoga champion led him into an obsessive subculture—a group of yogis for whom eight hours of practice a day in 110- degree heat was just the beginning.
"Meticulously researched, suspenseful and engrossing." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Backbending and bliss, stretching and sweating, bonding and betrayal have rarely seemed so complementary. Hell-Bent is sure to turn readers' impressions of yoga upside down." -Booklist (starred review)
POSER: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer.
You think it will never happen to you, that it cannot happen to you, that you are the only person in the world to whom none of these things will ever happen, and then, one by one, they all begin to happen to you, in the same way they happen to everyone else.
Thirty years after the publication of his first memoir (THE INVENTION OF SOLITUDE) Auster writes about his mother's life and death. WINTER JOURNAL is a highly personal meditation on the body, time, and memory, by one of our most intellectually elegant writers and it's getting great reviews.
"Auster is startlingly forthright, mischievously funny, and unfailingly enrapturing as he transforms intimate memories into a zestful inquiry into the mind-body connection and the haphazard forging of a self." -Booklist (starred review)
"This is the exquisitely wrought catalogue of a man’s history through his body." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A consummate professional explores the attic of his life, converting rumination to art." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Kirkus Reviews also conducted an interview with Auster. When asked "What's the most important thing you wanted to portray about yourself?" he responds (in part), "I think basically, what I’m trying to do, is to establish some kind of common humanity. With this particular book, the idea was just to throw myself out there so that people might see their own lives reflected in mine."Read more
"Imagine the worst thing in the world."
This is the mantra that runs through the brilliant debut from Fletcher Wortmann, TRIGGERED: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. You might have heard Fletcher’s deeply moving interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently (link). He’s a talented new voice, a recent Swarthmore grad writing about the devil in the details. Forget the whimsical portrayal of Detective Monk. We’re talking "Pure O," a highly debilitating form of the illness, one marked by intrusive thoughts of the darkest and even apocalyptic kind.
But no mere "misery memoir," this. As brutally intimate and honest as TRIGGERED is—an "acid bath of self-revelation," one blurber calls it—what charmed me about this memoir was its quirky balance of the heartbreaking and the hysterical, the profound and the light-hearted. (One of my favorite lines: "If a girl accepts an invitation to help count the tiles on your bedroom ceiling, then she will probably be disappointed when she realizes you were speaking literally.") The experience of reading TRIGGERED is akin to "reading" a Wes Anderson film, if that makes sense. Wortmann’s a unique talent; it’s a rare author indeed who can weave eclectic allusions to David Bowie, Kurt Vonnegut, psychology, Christian comic books, Pokémon, Edgar Allen Poe, the family cat, and St. John of the Cross. As engrossing as this memoir is on the subject of mental illness, fundamentally it’s a universal coming of age story that takes us on a journey through American culture both high and low. (And it’s entirely appropriate for teen readers, as well. My 16-year-old nephew polished it off in a couple days…)
People magazine gave TRIGGERED 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, bestselling memoirist Janine Latus declared "Bravo!" and OCD authority Jonathan Grayson praised its "hip, dark humor" and likened TRIGGERED to "Jack Kerouac’s on the Road for OCD and the twenty-first century."
...Staying on the subject of moving memoirs, I also want to draw your attention to SPARKY AND ME: My Friendship with Sparky Anderson and the Lessons He Shared About Baseball and Life by Dan Ewald.Read more
Aaand we're back with another thrilling issue of Monday Fun Day!
Last week we ran a series of posts on books for reluctant readers of the teen male variety called He's Just Not That Into Books. After you check out the recommendations under the tag "Just Not That Into Books," let us know what other titles have proved successful in grabbing the attention of young men at your library.
Also, if you didn't get your request in for a galley of Patti Callahan Henry's latest, COMING UP FOR AIR, there's still time! We have more ARCs that need good homes. For an advanced copy of COMING UP FOR AIR send your name, library, and full mailing address to Library @ MacmillanUSA.com.
NPR has taken an interest in a few of our more scandalous and dark memoirs. Melissa Febo, author of WHIP SMART (now in paperback), was interviewed about her experiences as a dominatrix in Manhattan on NPR's Fresh Air (the half-hour recording can be heard here).
And in Game On! 5 Winning Summer Sports Books, NPR recommended BASKETBALL JUNKIE, the "exceptional" and "often devastating" memoir of Chris Herren, former Boston Celtics player and raging heroin addict.
We hope you're getting in plenty of good summer reading! Enjoy the sun!Read more
After losing three daughters and a niece to an Israeli tank shell in 2009, Palestinian Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish has no words of revenge, only words of peace for Israelis and Palestinians in his new book, I SHALL NOT HATE.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Elie Wiesel says, "This story is a necessary lesson against hatred and revenge."
Former President Jimmy Carter says, "In this book, Doctor Abuelaish has expressed a remarkable commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation that describes the foundation for a permanent peace in the Holy Land."
We have 10 copies of I SHALL NOT HATE! If you would like a chance to get your hands on one, email your full mailing address to library at macmillanusa dot com (subject: I Shall Not Hate) by this Friday (2/11).*Read more