Category Archives: Books

A month of best books from Simon & Schuster . . . make the time!

Simon & Schuster’s literary line-up for May is a winner. Here are the best books to read and savor. You’ll even learn a few things!

The Broken Road (May 2, $19.99), the first book in a much-anticipated new trilogy by beloved storyteller Richard Paul Evans, is an engrossing, contemplative story of redemption and grace and the power of second chances. It is an epic journey you won’t soon forget. Chicago celebrity Charles James can’t shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? What is the wailing he hears around him? By day, he wonders why he’s so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted-fame, fans and fortune and the lavish lifestyle it affords him. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he’s dreamed of. But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he’s started to wonder if he’s wanted the wrong things.  Then a twist of fate changes everything. Charles is granted something very remarkable: a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

A timely and relevant look into America’s Doomsday preparedness, Garrett M. Graff’s Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die (May 2, $28) tracks the evolution of the government’s plan for surviving a catastrophic attack on U.S. soil.  The book provides the eye-opening truth about the multibillion-dollar Continuity of Government (COG) program. Used only once—on September 11th, 2001—this complex Doomsday machine still exists but remains out of sight: book coverIt shadows Presidents wherever they travel, tracks the whereabouts of congressional leaders hour by hour, and is ready to be unveiled at America’s darkest hour. Calling upon, for the first time, thousands of pages of recently declassified plans and White House documents, Raven Rock—which takes its name from the Pentagon’s sprawling secret 650-acre bunker complex in the Pennsylvania mountains—is equal parts a presidential, military, and cultural history.

At 27, Lauren Marks had everything she wanted in life: She was pursuing a PhD, she was an actress, a director, a voracious reader, had a dedicated boyfriend and a loving family, and was an extensive traveler. One night, while traveling in Scotland, Lauren suffered a sudden brain aneurysm. Although she was lucky to be alive, Lauren was left unable to write, speak or read. Her identity before the aneurysm now seemed to be crafted around a language she could no longer access, because of a diagnosis she couldn’t understand. A Stitch of Time:  The Year a Brain Injury Changed My Language and Life (May 2, $26) is Lauren’s gripping account of her recovery from the injury and her life with aphasia. Although an uncommon term, aphasia affects 1 in every 250 people, making it more common than Parkinson’s or M.S. Lauren’s loss of language is told through stories of her life before, during, and after aphasia, using the journals she actually kept while in recovery.

Dr. Rock Positano, an internationally renowned foot specialist in New York City, was introduced to Joe DiMaggio by the dean of New York sports writers, Bill Gallo, in 1990. During the time Dr. Positano successfully treated the Yankee Clipper, a friendship slowly developed. book coverThe stories and experiences he shared with Rock Positano comprise Dinners with DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero (May 9, $26), an intimate portrait of one of the great stars of baseball and one of the icons of the twentieth century.

Similar to Saving Private Ryan in the way it reminds us of the strength of family in moments of unspeakable uncertainty, the difference with The Jersey Boys (May 9, $28) is that this story is true. A WWII saga like no other, the tome tells the story of Bill and Benny Mott—both Navy men—who embark on a complex rescue mission to save their youngest brother after he finds himself a POW in the Pacific.
What makes it even more remarkable is that Sally Mott Freeman is the daughter of one of the brothers, which adds a whole separate layer of intrigue and purpose to this important book.

Acclaimed journalists Tom Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie provide a behind-the-scenes, revelatory account of John F. Kennedy’s wily campaign to the White House with The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign (May 9, $28). The most comprehensive account based on a depth of personal reporting, interviews and archives, the book reveals him as a tough, shrewd political strategist who kept his eye on the prize. JFK and his young warriors invented modern presidential politics. They turned over accepted wisdom that his Catholicism was a barrier to winning an election and plotted a successful course to that constituency. They twisted arms and they charmed. This is one of the great campaign stories of all time, appropriate for today’s political climate and the 100th anniversary of JFK’s birth.

From James Dodson comes a funny and nostalgic journey of self and sport in which the author completes his golfing “bucket list.” Dodson recently rediscovered a list titled “Things to Do in Golf” that he’d written when he was 13 years old. Realizing he had yet to complete the list, Dodson (now in his 60s) expanded the list into a golfing “bucket list” of the people and places he had yet to meet and see in the golf world. book coverFrom rounds with John Updike to intimate conversations with Arnold Palmer to scoring a memorable 13 on a hole at St. Andrews, The Range Bucket List (May 9, $25) is an exhilarating armchair adventure.

Many people recognize Sidney Blumenthal’s name as a journalist and political advisor, but what you may not know is he has been formidably building a major contribution to Lincoln scholarship that focuses on Lincoln’s political life. https://catalog.simonandschuster.com/Thumbnails/9781501153785.jpgWith Wrestling With His Angel:  The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. II, 1849-1856 (May 16, $35), Blumenthal vividly and insightfully describes the most decisive period of Lincoln’s political life—after losing re-election to the House of Representatives, Lincoln is exiled back to Illinois to practice law, where he helps create the Republican Party.

From Andrew Pyper, the internationally bestselling author of The Demonologist, comes a radical reimagining of literature’s most haunting protagonists, their most sinister traits found in one terrifying man. Straight from the canon of horror fictions like Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dracula, the monster featured in The Only Child  (Maay 23, $25) tells Dr. Lily Dominick three things: That he is more than 200 years old, that he personally provided the inspiration for those three horror classics, and that he is her father. Fusing the page-turning tension of a first-rate thriller with a provocative take on where thrillers come from, The Only Child will keep you up until its last unforgettable revelation.

We discover two delightful books meant for “young readers” . . . may we add they are also for the young-at-heart!

We came across two books meant for the wee ones, but we simply cannot stop reading them ourselves. No wonder we are young-at-heart!

Carrot and Pea (HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99) is a charming and creative celebration of embracing differences and standing out in a crowd that will teach and remind everyone that our differences make us unique and wonderful . . . and most important, they make us, us.

Colin is tall and orange. He is definitely not a pea. He’s a carrot. He has nothing in common with his friend Lee, a round, green pea. He can’t roll, or bounce. In fact, Colin can’t do any of the things Lee and his pea pals can do. How can Colin and Lee ever be friends?

Morag Hood has written stories and painted pictures since childhood, and this delight is her debut picture book. She also created the nifty artwork, collaged from orange and green plastic grocery bags.

Next up: Frankie is an adorable shelter puppy who has just arrived at his new home. He’s so excited by the things he finds . . . A new home! A new bed! A new ball!

But wait… another dog already lives here. His name is Nico. That’s Nico’s home. Nico’s bed. Nico’s ball.

It’s not easy being the new dog in the house. Will Frankie be able to find his place here too?

Humorous and heartfelt, Frankie (HMH Books for Young Readers, $12.99), the latest from Geisel Honor-winning author-illustrator Mary Sullivan, introduces not one, but two new dogs with big personalities as they struggle to get along and find their places in the pack. The whimsical and wondrous book is based on her real-life experience. Frankie will surely win over fans of Sullivan’s previous books, Ball and Treat, as well as the hearts of dog-lovers everywhere.

Sullivan has donated a portion of sales to the Austin (Texas) Pets Alive,  the shelter that first took (the real) Frankie in and helped him find a new permanent home!

Do we dare: This is the cat’s meow!

 

 

“Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince” is a “cornflake and ham hock” winner

Ben Greeman’s book on Prince is a hot thing. Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince (Henry Holt and Co., $28) is a farewell to the mercurial funk-rock star. It’s also a love letter, a critical study, a personal essay. Yet readers will undoubtedly find it as compelling for what it is not as for what it is.

Dig If You Will the Picture is not is a traditional biography or a conventional critical consideration. It is not filled with gossip and “gotcha” moments. It is not simply a survey of Prince’s greatest hits. Rather, it’s a singular attempt to investigate the whole of Prince’s work and thought, to isolate the meaningful moments in his music, to think about the ways in which he provided the soundtrack for a generation, to define what genius means in pop music.

Greenman brings his encyclopedic knowledge of Prince and his music to the man and the time in which he lived—moving from his own suburban upbringing in Miami to Prince’s history in Minneapolis, from brash early albums like Dirty Mind through breakout classics like Purple Rain to mature complex works like Art Official Age.

In these pages, Prince is considered as a musician, certainly, but also as a gender theorist, an activist, and an independent businessman. Greenman illuminates the hidden corners of Prince’s vast discography: Do you know the mid-’90s manifesto “Style”? Do you know the mid-’80s B side “Shockadelica”? Do you know the outtake “2020”?

You should.

And you will.

As George Clinton raves: “When it comes to funk and words, lyrics and language, there couldn’t be a better pairing than Ben Greenman and Prince. From my experience with both of them, this is the perfect match, like ham hocks and cornflakes.”

Dig If You Will the Picture answers countless questions about one of our most mysterious and misunderstood pop icons, including:

  • What were Prince’s thematic preoccupations?
  • How did he change pop music forever?
  • How did he make so much fantastic work?
  • Did he really do it all himself?
  • Why did he go to war with his record label?
  • What did he think about sex, God, and the difference between them?
  • What were his politics?
  • How big was his Afro when he was young?
  • And what was with that symbol, anyway?

Dig If You Will the Picture meets Prince at his own level, as a pop-culture provocateur, a brilliant manufacturer of meaning, a complex and philosophical man, brooding introvert, singular talent—and a hell of a good time.

The greatest mystery in Arctic exploration history has been solved! Meet Paul Watson and the “Ice Ghosts”

Deep-sea mysteries continue to baffle us. Take the case of Sir John Franklin. For nearly 170 years, the mystery of the lost expedition of Franklin has been the greatest cold case in the history of Arctic exploration. In 1845, Franklin and the crews of the HMS Erebus and Terror set out to discover a path to the Orient through the icy waters of the far northern latitudes. They were never heard from again.

Preserved: The mummified returns of one of the crew members of John Franklin’S 1845 expedition

From 1847 to 1859, no fewer than 36 expeditions set out in search of the vessels. Each effort was met with icy silence. The fate of Franklin and his men remained shrouded in mystery until, in missions that blended new technology and faith in traditional Inuit beliefs, the ships were at last discovered—the Erebus in 2014 and the Terror just last year.

In Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition (W. W. Norton & Company, $27.95), Pulitzer Prize–winning author Paul Watson takes readers on an unforgettable journey into the unforgiving North in search of the vanished Franklin and his crew of 128 lost souls. Watson was on the icebreaker leading the mission that discovered the Erebus in 2014, and he broke the news of the discovery of the Terror in September.

Ice Ghosts achieves what solution to a long-standing mystery does: The nook masterfully weaves together history and contemporary reporting in a full account of these events, which, as Watson reveals, only found success when longtime prejudice against Inuit forms of knowledge was set aside. Watson chronicles how local Inuit contributed to the hunt for the ships and how Inuit lore passed down orally for generations was crucial to making discoveries for the ages.

A riveting mystery story as well as a tale of scientific innovation and relentless pursuit, Ice Ghosts is that rare book that seamlessly marries gripping adventure narrative with intrepid analysis. It is an epic adventure readers will carry with them long after the final page is turned.

 

Craig Shirley’s latest book takes a detailed look at the “under explored” life of Ronald Reagan

So much has been written about Ronald Reagan, some might argue too much, but what remains under explored is the short time between his failure to obtain the nomination at the 1976 Republican convention (his second run for the nomination) and his rise from the ashes just four years later when he was elected president.

What happened in those four years to prepare him in a way in which he was not for 1976? How did he gain so much momentum from failing to winning? Surely, the reason for his popularity was more than just taking on issues, taking on Jimmy Carter, and being present and accounted for. What else was there?

Enter Craig Shirley’s Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980. (Broadside Books, $29.99), to be officially released on March 21. Shirley explores how Reagan, already 65 years old, emerged from defeat to become a more reflective, more thoughtful, more hopeful, and more spiritual leader. Reagan’s movement quickly spread across the country, crossing party lines, and for the first time young people flocked to American conservatism.

As Reagan himself moved forward, redefining American conservatism, shifts in world leadership—Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II—signaled a rising tide for change that aligned with Reagan’s core beliefs. He championed the individual at home, rejected containment and détente abroad, and advocated for the defeat of Soviet communism.

With the emergence of other key conservatives, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp, and Milton Friedman, among them, seminal conservative think tanks began to redefine American policy. By 1980, Ronald Reagan was fully entrenched as the leader of American conservatism and poised to become leader of the nation.

Craig Shirley was the first Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Reagan’s alma mater, where he taught a coursed titled “Reagan 101.” Learn more at craigshirley.com.

 

 

Art appreciation made easy: “Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art?” paints a winner

Can’t tell your ass from a Kandisky?

No worries. Young art professionals Kyung An and Jessica Cerasi knows contemporary art can be baffling, but they have found an answer.  And those answers, cutting straight to the questions that matter, can be found in Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? (Thames & Hudson, $16.95). The book offers concise and pointed insights into today’s art scene. It’s an easy-to-navigate A-to-Z guide examines (among other topics) how artists are propelled to stardom, explains what curators do, challenges our understanding of artistic skill and demystifies the art market.Image result

The authors’ entertaining and thought-provoking explanations draw on key artworks, artists and events from around the globe, including how the lights going on and off won the Turner Prize, what makes the likes of Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei such great artists and why Kanye West would trade his Grammys to be one.

Packed with behind-the-scenes knowledge, written in plain language and fully cross-referenced, Who’s Afraid of Contemporary Art? is the perfect gallery companion both for those totally new to the scene and seasoned exhibition-goers.

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“The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health” is a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition

You can now take charge of your health by understanding the connection between our evolutionary past and our future well-being with The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health (Atria Books/Beyond Words, $26), a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition from distinguished physician Sharad Paul, MD. Save the date: The book releases April 4.

Recognized as one of the best in his field, surgeon, academic and philanthropist (Time has dubbed him “Open Hearted Surgeon”), Dr. Paul combines everyday health with evolutionary biology and explains how to improve your overall wellness by following a diet and exercise plan based on your gene type.

Written in a captivating literary narrative that sets this title apart from the average self-help book, The Genetics of Health starts with our brains and covers everything from skin and muscles to hearts, diets and stress management. Dr. Paul shares key information and provides steps to improve our daily well-being—impacting everything from our energy levels to memory retention to our overall longevity.

Dr. Paul discusses:

· How to eat for your gene type

· Getting your genes tested

· How you can test for genetic dispositions such as laziness and procrastination

· The best types of exercise for your gene type

· How to reduce your risk of dementia

· The surprising benefits of dance and stress on our genes

· How anxiety and being a scaredy-cat can make you live longer

Our evolutionary past and genetic makeup determine how and why the body works the way it does and how it all combines to make us unique individuals. Presenting a compelling blend of medical mysteries, patient stories, and science, Dr. Paul has developed a revolutionary approach to wellness that will result in beautiful skin at any age, a healthier diet for muscle endurance and skeletal strength, a more resilient and efficient heart, better mood and memory balance and more.

 

Harper Design and MinaLima team for a most glorious “The Beauty and the Beast”

Tale as old as time/True as it can be/Barely even friends/Then somebody bends/Unexpectedly . . . 

Harper Design never does anything unexpectedly, but the publisher has bent itself in a most lavish way. They have just released The Beauty and the Beast ($29.99), the third book in a series of illustrated classics, that gets reimagined in a most deluxe gift edition. What a glorious journey . . . the tome features stunning new artwork and nine interactive features from the award-winning design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise, MinaLima. Timed to coincide with Walt Disney Pictures’ film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, this book engages those interested in seeing the musical starring Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline and Ian McKellen.

To add elements of visual intrigue, MinaLima includes:

· A trifold map of the rich French city where the Merchant (Beauty’s father) and his family reside

· A fold out that reveals the interior of the Beast’s enchanted palace

· A series of windows that open to reveal different entertainments to Beauty while in the Beast’s palace

· A dial of the ring Beauty turns on her finger to return to the Beast’s palace after visiting her family

This collectible edition is filled with stunning illustrations of stories that continue to be cherished by readers of all ages. Forget the flowers, chuck the chocolates. The Beauty and the Beast  is a scrumptious wonder.

Need an escape from politics? Here’s a trio of good reads

Feeling exhausted from all the recent headlines?  Need an escape from politics?  Bad weather putting you in a bad mood?  Forget forking over big bucks to go for some R&R . . . you can savor R&R by Reading & Rereading. What better way to escape than reading a good book?

We offer a trio of our picks this month. Drawing you into a world of art and beauty, Alyson Richman’s The Velvet Hours (Berkley, $16) is inspired by the true-life story of a sumptuous Paris apartment that was mysteriously shuttered for seventy years right before the eve of WWII, and once belonged to the elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian.  The novel is a mesmerizing journey of one woman’s reinvention from an impoverished childhood to art collector and muse.

Distract yourself with a glamour and flair with Melanie Benjamin’s Swans of Fifth Avenue (Bantam, $16).  This scandalous, riveting novel about the “New York’s Swans of the 1950’s and the scandalous headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley.

If you’re still looking to journey further, try Dinah Jefferies’ The Tea Planter’s Daughter (Lake Union Publishing, $14.95). Set in ’20s Ceylon, a young Englishwoman marries a charming tea plantation and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences.

Martin Torgoff’s “Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs” is an addictive look at America’s early drug use . . . and the music that went with it

A few pages into this book got us addicted. That’s a good thing. To fully understand national discussions on drugs—whether it’s the legalization of marijuana or the use of Naloxone for heroin overdoses—we must look at how the American drug culture was born: With herbal jazz cigarettes (think joints) at the Savoy Ballroom and the Beats high on Benzedrine in Times Square. In Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs (Da Capo, $25.99), Martin Torgoff explores the early days of America’s drug use and marries it with our counter culture history taking us back to the beginning of the 20th century when modern drug law, policy, and culture were first established, and when musicians, writers and artists came together under the influence.

The narrative of Bop Apocalypse encompasses:

  • the birth of jazz in New Orleans
  • the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger and his “Marijuana and Musicians” file which included Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others
  • Louis Armstrong and Chicago in the ’20s
  • “Reefer Madness” and the Marihuana Tax Act of ’37
  • Kansas City and the birth of swing
  • Bebop and the arrival of heroin to the streets of Harlem in the ’40s
  • the con­joining of principal Beat Generation characters in New York—Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William Burroughs; their journeys and the creation of the three jazz-imbued masterworks (On the Road, Howl and Naked Lunch)
  • the birth, by 1960, of a new bohemian culture in cities and on college campuses across America

    The last known photo of Billie Holiday, snapped during a Verve recording

The juxtaposition of genius and addiction is notable throughout. Billy Holiday’s heroin addiction is discussed candidly with revealing new details from bebop hooker Ruby Rosano who shot up with Holiday’s help in a basement apartment while Charlie Parker played a blues nearby. Other vignettes like the engagement of the Miles Davis Quintet at the Café Bohemia in ’56 introduced John Coltrane’s brilliance to an audience of adoring fans as he spiraled into addiction and Davis reemerged clean.

A book that lays bare the ways in which race, drugs, and music collided to create a culture of both creative ingenuity and, at times, self-destruction, Bop Apocalypse tracks the impact of music’s long love affair with illicit substances.