Mar 12

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We’re just back from our sales conference, so we tease you with two books coming out late summer; we discuss the VIDA count; new books The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat and Salt Sugar Fat.

 

Two books we can’t wait to tease you with

Michael and I are just back from our sales conference, where we heard about new books that will be published in the late summer and fall. Guys, there are so many great books coming out! We challenged each other to choose just one book to tease you with. I hope you don’t mind…

Michael talks about the new book from Marihsa Pessl, who you may know from her previous novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Pessl’s new novel is called Night Film. The main character is a disgraced investigative journalist who is drawn into reinvestigating the story of a famously-reclusive film director. Night Film will be published on August 20, 2013.

I haven’t been able to stop talking about Alex by Pierre Lemaitre, which will be published by Quercus/Maclehose Press, an independent publisher in the UK that is launching a US office.  Alex will be one of their first titles to be published here. If you are a fan of Stieg Larsson, you are in for a real treat. And if you found Larsson to be a bit slow going at the start, you will not have that problem with Alex. When we meet Alex, she is being kidnapped, but from there the book takes a turn like no thriller I’ve ever read. It is out now in the UK, and will be out in September here in the US.

 

The VIDA Count 2012 (09:38)

 

VIDA, an organization for women in the literary arts, has released its third annual report on gender bias in several major publications. They looked at the number of books authored by men and women, the number of male and female book reviewers, and the number of bylines (published articles).  According to the report, in the general media there appear to be more reviews of books written by men, and there appears to be more male book reviewers. But if you listen to the discussion that Michael and I have on the podcast, it’s really more complicated. We speculate about some of the reasons that may be behind this perceived bias, and while we don’t come up with an answer, I think we had a great time discussing.

One book that I think could be relevant to this discussion, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, talks about how sometimes women don’t put themselves forward. One of the questions I have in relation to this VIDA discussion is how many books are published by women each year? How many are submitted? Does the bias begin at that level, rather than at the reviewer level?.

I thought it only fair to look at our numbers here at Books on the Nightstand. We never discuss if the books we feature are written by male and female, so if there is a bias, it is an unconscious bias. I did a non-scientific count of the final 6 months of 2012 — I did a manual count, and I counted every book listed in our index whether it was a book we talked about or whether it was recommended by a listener call-in. Our numbers: we talked about 135 books written by men (54%), and 114 written by women (46%). I’m sure there is a substantial margin of error, but Michael and I feel pretty comfortable with them. Michael also points to the most popular books on Goodreads in 2012, most of which were written by women. But, the fact that book-related social media is used primarily by women, means that those numbers are skewed too.

 

Two books we can’t wait for you to read (26:20)

 

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat   Salt, Sugar, Fat

I can’t describe how much I love The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore. It’s the story of three women in Indiana who in the 1960s were dubbed “The Supremes” by Earl, the owner of the diner where the three hang out. We meet them forty years later when they are gathered in celebration of Earl’s life after he passes away. Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean, along with Odette’s mother Dora, are characters that you won’t want to leave, and that you won’t forget after the book has ended. This is a feel-good book that just made me happy. Check it out.

Michael takes on a nonfiction book this week: Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. Michael (our Michael, not the author) compares it to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, because the inconvenient truth is that heavily processed convenience food is not healthy. While many already know this on an intellectual level, this book goes into great detail about the lengths that the major food corporations use salt, sugar and fat to make us crave and buy more. This is not a dry, statistics-heavy book; it’s entertaining, filled with stories of people who once worked within the food corporations, and it’s incredibly readable. This book made Michael angry and it may want you want to take action.

  • Emily

    I love the new cover on The Supremes book–much more appealing to the Fannie Flagg crowd with the new design. I look forward to trying it!

    • http://www.booksonthenightstand.com AnnKingman

      Thanks, Emily!

  • http://www.booksonthenightstand.com AnnKingman

    I neglected to include the explanation from Tin House about how they were taking steps to better their male/female numbers: http://flavorwire.com/376951/it-isnt-rocket-science-tin-house-and-granta-editors-on-how-to-run-a-publication-that-isnt-sexist

  • Sue

    Thanks for including the VIDA discussion – good to keep in mind the bias in what gets reviewed and by whom. But you neglected to give yourselves credit for the great BOTNS stat: reviewers F 50%/ M 50%!

    • http://www.booksonthenightstand.com AnnKingman

      Ha! Good point, Sue! Consider our backs patted. Thanks :)

  • Toni Clark

    I’m a little late (am catching up on back podcasts), but another excellent book, along the lines of Salt Sugar Fat, is David A. Kessler’s The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite. I listened to the audiobook and it was very well done, totally engrossing. Kessler is a former head of the FDA. Besides detailing the ways that the food industry hooks us on unhealthy products, Kessler discusses his own battles with food and fat. (I’ve never again been able to walk past one of those Cinnabon places without feeling nauseated.) More recently, Kessler published Your Food Is Fooling You: How Your Brain Is Hijacked by Sugar, Fat, and Salt (2012). I haven’t read this one.

  • Susie

    I am behind on my podcasts and trying to make my way through my “to be read” list and finally got to The Supremes at Earl’s All You Can Eat. I am 100 pages in and I love it! I actually saw Ann at the Book Club Soiree at my favorite indy bookstore in CT this past spring and she mentioned The Supremes, so I added it to my list. Thanks, Ann and BOTNS for all the great suggestions.

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