In the News: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

Like so many young people coming of age in the 1970’s this book was hugely influential to me. Thirty years later I learned it wasn’t just a relic of time and place when my 20-year-old nephew found his way to it and we bonded over the still perplexing issues the book takes on– clashing technological and spiritual worlds and cultural divides every bit as deep today as they were a generation ago.

You know by now of author Robert M. Pirsig’s passing. The obituaries have done a great job of contextualizing this uniquely American novel which explores fundamental questions of how to live one’s life.

As USA Today noted in one of last week’s many pieces, “The book was praised as a unique and masterful blend of narrative and philosophy and was compared to Moby Dick by New Yorker critic George Steiner, who wrote that Pirsig’s story ‘lodges in the mind as few recent novels have.’”

Two generations of McCunes are here to agree. Booksellers, now is the right time to give this one another tour on the front tables.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (9780060839871) by Robert M. Pirsig. $16.99 trade paper. Available.

Publicity: Dreaming the Beatles – Rob Sheffield

 It looks like the infectious and electric Mr. Sheffield might have written himself another hit with this look at how “The Beatles” came to transcend being a mere rock band and become an enduring cultural influence. As a USA Today rave review observes:

Four Liverpool chums make a go of it as a group, climb to the toppermost of the poppermost, and break up dramatically at the height of their powers. Then here’s where the story gets really interesting: Everyone on Earth rejects that ending. Somehow, The Beatles just keep getting bigger.

‘Our Beatles,’ the author marvels, ‘have outlasted theirs.’”

First serial is already out in Rolling Stone. A second serial in People should expand interest in the book even further.

Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World (9780062207654) by Rob Sheffield. $24.99 hardcover. 4/25/17 on sale.


May 2017 Indie Next and LibraryReads Picks

Complete Indie Next List here.

  • The Baker’s Secret (9780062369581) by Stephen P. Kiernan. $26.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.
  • Ginny Moon (9780778330165) by Benjamin Ludwig. $26.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.
  • Sunshine State: Essays (9780062434876) by Sarah Gerard $15.99 trade paper original. 4/11/17 on sale.

Now in Paperback

  • Commonwealth (9780062491831) by Ann Patchett. $16.99 trade paper. 5/2/17 on sale.
  • Father’s Day (9780062408952) by Simon Van Booy. $15.99 trade paper. 4/25/17 on sale.
  • Half Wild: Stories (9780062444400) by Robin Macarthur. $14.99 trade paper. 4/19/17 on sale.
  • Larose (9780062277039) by Louise Erdrich. $15.99 trade paper. 4/11/17 on sale.

LibraryReads Picks

#3 Since We Fell (9780062129383) by Dennis Lehane. $27.99 hardcover. 5/9/17 one day laydown.

#5 Ginny Moon (9780778330165) by Benjamin Ludwig. $26.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.

#7 White Hot (9780062289254) by Ilona Andrews. $7.99 mass market paperback. 5/30/17 on sale.

#8 Sycamore (9780062661098) by Bryn Chancellor. $26.99 hardcover. 5/9/17 on sale.

#10 The Jane Austen Project (9780062651259) by Kathleen A. Flynn. $15.99 trade paper original. 5/2/17 on sale.

Publicity: Wait, What? – James E. Ryan

In what has become an annual rite of spring, graduation speeches are turned into gift books and piled on Graduation tables in bookstores nationwide. It’s always hard to handicap which one will be the winner in any given year. For instance, this year I would have put my money on cult director John Waters’ Make Trouble from Algonquin Books.

But it seems that Wait, What? has struck the right cultural chord this year–in part thanks to the CBS This Morning interview below. We instantly sold out last week but have plenty more books landing this week. So order up!

“This compulsively readable book is that rare work that will appeal to … any reader interested in hearing wise advice from a charming (and funny) author, and, most of all, leading a meaningful life.”
— James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions (9780062664570) by James E. Ryan. $19.99 hardcover. 4/4/17 on sale.

Publicity: A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers

Chambers’ sequel to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet has been nominated for the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novel. (Sci fi fans will remember that Long Way was nominated for a James Tiptree Award.) So for stores trying to cultivate a fiction forward sci fi collection, Chambers is looking more and more like someone you don’t want to skip.

Couched in a space opera plot, with a voice that sometimes limns Douglas Adams, there’s a lot more under the hood here. These books are slyly issues-oriented, showing species co-inhabitating and celebrating their differences while also addressing cultural xenophobia and racism. As the Guardian noted of the first book, Chambers writes “[a] quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism.”

“As with her amazing debut, the power of Chamber’s second space opera is in her appealing characters […] Her protagonists might not all be human, but they possess more humanity than most”
Library Journal (starred review)

A Closed and Common Orbit (9780062569400) by Becky Chambers. $16.99 trade paper original 3/14/17 on sale.

Publicity: Unwanted Advances – Laura Kipnis

Kipnis is a well-known feminist cultural critic and in this new book she argues that Title IX is being used on campuses to create an environment of accusation and victimization–a kind of “feminist paternalism.” Needless to say, it’s likely to create a lot of controversy.

There’s strong major media coverage coming: NPR’s Weekend Edition, the New Yorker, NYTBR, New York magazine, Vice, Mother Jones, The Guardian, LA Review of Books, O, The Oprah Magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

 “An argument for how the ‘recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses” are symptomatic of “officially sanctioned” sexual paranoia and hysteria…. As in all her books, Kipnis is consistently provocative and intelligent.”
Kirkus Reviews

 “In this courageous, thought-provoking polemic, Kipnis, a feminist cultural critic and professor at Northwestern University, targets the overzealousness of Title IX investigations on college campuses and shows how they’re undermining academic freedom, free speech, and gender equality…. Without diminishing the gravity of sexual assault, Kipnis’s readable and judiciously reported work illustrates how the ‘sex-as-danger preoccupation on campuses now’ is infantilizing women rather than empowering them.”
Publishers Weekly

Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus (9780062657862) by Laura Kipnis. $26.99 hardcover. 4/4/17 on sale.

Publicity: More on The Women in The Castle

It’s been a great first week for Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle. Initial reviews are raves. (See below.)

Shattuck’s NYT op-ed “I Loved My Grandmother. But She was a Nazi.” went viral over the weekend and was the #1 most-viewed story on the Opinion page

And you can listen to her NPR/Weekend Edition interview Click here.

“Moving… This is definitely not a story of plucky women banding together to fix up a chilly home.  Their recoveries are burdened with unending guilt, and while they’re sharing the deprivations of the present, very often they’re keeping secrets about the traumas of the past, even from one another. Shattuck’s characters represent the range of responses to fascism.  Her achievement – beyond unfolding a plot that surprises and devastates – is in her subtle exploration of what a moral righteousness like Marianne’s looks like in the aftermath of the war, when communities and lives must be rebuilt, together.”
—  The New York Times

“If you love historical fiction, this is your must-read book: It’s captivating, fascinating, and incredibly faithful to the events as they happened, and Jessica Shattuck reveals an entirely new side of what it’s like to be a woman in wartime.”
— Newsweek

“Offers a mesmerizing new look at the aftermath of the war . . . with insight and empathy, The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”
— USA Today

The Women in the Castle (9780062563668) by Jessica Shattuck. $26.99 hardcover. 3/28/17 on sale.