Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Bits

by Jocelyn McClurg)

'Real' deal: Heaven Is for Real, a book that saw celestial sales a few years back, is once again ascending USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, thanks to the movie adaptation opening April 16. It's up to No. 13 from No. 25 last week. The story of a little boy who had a near-death experience at age 4 and said he met Jesus in heaven spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 2011. It's been on the list for a total of 138 weeks. In the movie, Greg Kinnear stars as Todd Burpo, the evangelical minister who wrote the book about his son Colton, played by Connor Corum.

All about 'Me': In a 1976 cover story in New York magazine titled "The Me Decade," Tom Wolfe savaged Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) as the most self-absorbed and spoiled generation in history. Perhaps it's coincidence, but "Me" appears in the title of nine books in the top 150. Most are romances. At No. 38 is Bite Me, the latest in Shelly Laurenston's Pride Series, which features an unlikely couple, both shape-shifters. She turns into a honey badger; he's a bear/tiger hybrid. Neither is a Baby Boomer. – Bob Minzesheimer

Sales report: The Association of American Publishers reports that net trade book revenue was $7 billion in 2013. That's down just 1% from 2012, which was a huge year thanks to the popularity of two trilogies: The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey. Also of note: According to reports from 1,211 publishers, e-book sales declined by 0.6% compared with 2012, mostly in books for children and teens. The publishers report that e-books accounted for 23% of their overall sales in 2013 — 27% of adult books but only 11% of children's and young-adult titles. — Minzesheimer

'Mandela' memoir: Viking announced it has acquired rights to Good Morning, Mr. Mandela by Zelda la Grange, the "story of how a young woman had her life and everything she once believed in transformed" by Nelson Mandela, the publisher said in a release. It will be out on June 19. La Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported segregation. But after the end of apartheid, she became a trusted assistant to Mandela, who died in December at age 95.

New Tyler: Knopf announced it will publish a new novel by Anne Tyler in spring 2015. So far untitled, it will be set in her hometown of Baltimore. Tyler's novels include Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and, more recently, The Beginner's Goodbye.

Long live print: Tim Waterstone, founder of the Waterstones bookstore chain in Britain, argues that the e-book revolution will decline, and that print books will survive and thrive. Of course he has a vested interest, but here's hoping he's right. "I think you read and hear more garbage about the strength of the e-book revolution than anything else I've known," Waterstone told an audience in Oxford, England. "The e-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have, but every indication – certainly from America – shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the U.K." (See above item on book sales in the USA.)

What's cooking: I had the chance to spend time in the kitchen at Omar's in New York City with young chef Michael Gibney, author of the new book Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line. Read my profile at and check out Robert Deutsch's photos.

New Voices: USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer chats with Daniel Levine, whose debut novel Hyde is inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Says Levine: "I see Hyde as more than just a mindless monster. He's a vehicle for Jekyll's suppressed libidinal urges."

New in paper: USA TODAY checks out new paperback releases, including The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer; The Returned by Jason Mott, the basis for the hit ABC series Resurrection; and, for baseball fans, Francona, the memoir by the former Red Sox manager who now leads the Cleveland Indians.

New USA TODAY review: USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer reviews New Life, No Instructions, a new memoir by Gail Caldwell about approaching 60 and dealing with the loss of loved ones. He calls it "graceful and reflective" (*** out of four).