Archive for February 2011

New Bestsellers Make Authors’ Previous Novels Most Wanted

Water for Elephants tops the 25 Most Wanted for a second week in a row.

The current popularity of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex seem to be spurring readers to rediscover their last novels, Franzen’s The Corrections (2001) and Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides (1993), which came in at 24 and 21, respectively, on this week’s 25 Most Wanted.

Publishers Weekly had this to say about The Virgin Suicides:

“Eugenides’s tantalizing, macabre first novel begins with a suicide, the first of the five bizarre deaths of the teenage daughters in the Lisbon family; the rest of the work, set in the author’s native Michigan in the early 1970s, is a backward-looking quest as the male narrator and his nosy, horny pals describe how they strove to understand the odd clan of this first chapter, which appeared in the Paris Review , where it won the 1991 Aga Khan Prize for fiction. The sensationalism of the subject matter (based loosely on a factual account) may be off-putting to some readers, but Eugenides’s voice is so fresh and compelling, his powers of observation so startling and acute, that most will be mesmerized. The title derives from a song by the fictional rock band Cruel Crux, a favorite of the Lisbon daughter Lux–who, unlike her sisters Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Cecilia, is anything but a virgin by the tale’s end. Her mother forces Lux to burn the album along with others she considers dangerously provocative. Mr. Lisbon, a mild-mannered high school math teacher, is driven to resign by parents who believe his control of their children may be as deficient as his control of his own brood. Eugenides risks sounding sophomoric in his attempt to convey the immaturity of high-school boys; while initially somewhat discomfiting, the narrator’s voice (representing the collective memories of the group) acquires the ring of authenticity. The author is equally convincing when he describes the older locals’ reactions to the suicide attempts. Under the narrator’s goofy, posturing banter are some hard truths: mortality is a fact of life; teenage girls are more attracted to brawn than to brains (contrary to the testimony of the narrator’s male relatives). This is an auspicious debut from an imaginative and talented writer.”

The New Yorker review of The Corrections called it:

A sprawling novel about the diaspora of the modern American family: Enid and Alfred have carved their lives out of the suburban Midwest bedrock—hard work, shrimp cocktail, and silent sex—but their children live in New York and Philadelphia, eat wild Norwegian salmon, experiment with bisexuality, and study Foucault. Franzen gives us a tragicomic portrait of a flawed nation with the equally flawed notion of perfectibility at its heart. 25 Most Wanted

February 21, 2011

1. Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen

2. The Hangman’s Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch

3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

4. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1), by Amanda Hocking

5. Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich

6. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins

7. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

8. Freedom: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club), by Jonathan Franzen

9. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins

10. Torn (Trylle Trilogy, #2), by Amanda Hocking

11. Beck And Call, by Abby Gordon [NSFW]

12. Middlesex: A Novel, by Jeffrey Eugenides

13. He Loves Lucy, by Susan Donovan

14. Trojan Horse, by David Lender

15. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

16. Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich

17. The Red Tent: A Novel, by Anita Diamant

18. Office Threesome, by Madison Madison [NSFW]

19. Where’s My F*cking Latte? (and Other Stories About Being an Assistant in Hollywood), by Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff

20. Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom, by Dayna Macy

21. The Virgin Suicides: A Novel, by Jeffrey Eugenides

22. Full Bloom, by Janet Evanovich, Charlotte Hughes

23. The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, by Francine Jay

24. The Corrections: A Novel, by Jonathan Franzen

25. My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler

Meet the Author Podcast: Matt Mikalatos, “Imaginary Jesus”

Matt Mikalatos’ Imaginary Jesus is a Christian novel that even non-Christians are raving about, a book that seeks to answer the question, who is Jesus, and where is He in the midst of our suffering? But that book description sounds dry and almost dull, and this surprising, hilarious and deeply touching book is anything but dull!

Matt and I talked about so many subjects, including:

The crossover appeal of Matt’s book and the response of non-Christians to the book.

The dangers of taking oneself too seriously.

The Apostle Peter’s early years following Jesus.

Why Matt believes that most of Jesus’ followers, himself included, may sometimes be following an imaginary Jesus of their own.

The autobiographical nature of this novel.

The universality of pain and suffering as a part of the human condition.

Matt’s early work at a comic book store.

Matt and his wife Krista’s overseas experiences as missionaries in Communist Asia.

How the idea for the novel Imaginary Jesus came about, and how Matt wrote the book in five weeks and found a publisher for it.

How the publisher, George Barna of Barna Books, became a character and a caricature in the book.

The decision to make “Imaginary Jesus” free in ebook format during the month of February, and how this is affecting sales (we also touched on ebook lending).

Matt’s upcoming book, Night of the Living Dead Christian.

Here are links for topics we discussed:

Imaginary Jesus in the Kindle Store (FREE for USA customers until the end of February)

Matt’s Blog

Campus Crusade for Christ

Wes Yoder

Tyndale House Publishers

Barna Books and George Barna

Here’s the book trailer for Imaginary Jesus — fantastic illustrations!

Water for Elephants Is This Week’s Most Wanted

Topping our 25 Most Wanted list this week is the New York Times bestselling novel by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants. Here’s the review:

Jacob Jankowski says: “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” At the beginning of Water for Elephants, he is living out his days in a nursing home, hating every second of it. His life wasn’t always like this, however, because Jacob ran away and joined the circus when he was twenty-one. It wasn’t a romantic, carefree decision, to be sure. His parents were killed in an auto accident one week before he was to sit for his veterinary medicine exams at Cornell. He buried his parents, learned that they left him nothing because they had mortgaged everything to pay his tuition, returned to school, went to the exams, and didn’t write a single word. He walked out without completing the test and wound up on a circus train. The circus he joins, in Depression-era America, is second-rate at best. With Ringling Brothers as the standard, Benzini Brothers is far down the scale and pale by comparison.

Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob’s life with this circus. Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused. Jacob, once it becomes known that he has veterinary skills, is put in charge of the “menagerie” and all its ills. Uncle Al, the circus impresario, is a self-serving, venal creep who slaps people around because he can. August, the animal trainer, is a certified paranoid schizophrenic whose occasional flights into madness and brutality often have Jacob as their object. Jacob is the only person in the book who has a handle on a moral compass and as his reward he spends most of the novel beaten, broken, concussed, bleeding, swollen and hungover. He is the self-appointed Protector of the Downtrodden, and… he falls in love with Marlena, crazy August’s wife. Not his best idea.

The most interesting aspect of the book is all the circus lore that Gruen has so carefully researched. She has all the right vocabulary: grifters, roustabouts, workers, cooch tent, rubes, First of May, what the band plays when there’s trouble, Jamaican ginger paralysis, life on a circus train, set-up and take-down, being run out of town by the “revenooers” or the cops, and losing all your hooch. There is one glorious passage about Marlena and Rosie, the bull elephant, that truly evokes the magic a circus can create. It is easy to see Marlena’s and Rosie’s pink sequins under the Big Top and to imagine their perfect choreography as they perform unbelievable stunts. The crowd loves it–and so will the reader. The ending is absolutely ludicrous and really quite lovely. –Valerie Ryan

And of course, the Water for Elephants film is in production, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Here’s the official trailer:’s 25 Most Wanted

Week of February 13, 2011

1. Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen

2. The Hangman’s Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch

3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

4. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins

5. The Inconvenient Corpse: A Grace Cassidy Mystery, by Jackie King

6. Freedom: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club), by Jonathan Franzen

7. Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich

8. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1), by Amanda Hocking

9. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins

10. Running with Scissors: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs

11. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, by Kevin Malarkey

12. Forget to Remember, by Alan Cook

13. Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich

14. The Basement, by Stephen Leather

15. The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan

16. Coders at Work: Reflections of the Craft of Programming, by Peter Seibel

17. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

18. Saving Rachel (A Donovan Creed Crime Novel), by John Locke

19. Calling Home, by Janna McMahan

20. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Wiki content for your Kindle), by AMencher19, AbsoluteGleek92

21. Fourteen Days Later (Romantic Comedy), by Sibel Hodge

22. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert | Summary & Study Guide, by

23. My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler

24. Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, by Jessica Livingston

25. To Tempt A Scotsman, by Victoria Dahl