We only present business best-selling books at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but since we base our blog posts on books, I thought it appropriate to spread the news about two books cited by Barnes and Noble Booksellers as “Great New Writers” and best in their category.
If you are not aware, it is very difficult for new writers to break in to a major bookseller. An agent is a must. Editors are expensive, but essential. Patience through multiple drafts over a long period of time is important. That is why you find some writers self-publish, because they can skirt these three factors. But, their books will never get into a major bookstore.
Jake Whyte has retreated to a remote farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds, with only her collie and a flock of sheep as companions. But something—or someone—has begun picking off her sheep one by one. There are foxes in the woods, a strange man wandering the island, and rumors of a mysterious beast prowling at night. And there is Jake’s relentless past—one she tried to escape thousands of miles away and years ago, concealed in stubborn silence and isolation and the scars that stripe her back. With exceptional artistry, All the Birds, Singing plumbs a life of fierce struggle and survival, sounding depths of unexpected beauty and hard-won redemption.
This is Wyld’s second book, and her first since 2010. She was born in London and grew up in Australia and South London. She studied creative writing at Bath Spa and Goldsmiths University
In non-fiction, the award went to Bryce Andrews. His book is entitled Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West (Atria, 2014). I found this summary on Amazon.com:
In this gripping memoir of a young man, a wolf, their parallel lives and ultimate collision, Bryce Andrews describes life on the remote, windswept Sun Ranch in southwest Montana. The Sun’s twenty thousand acres of rangeland occupy a still-wild corner of southwest Montana—a high valley surrounded by mountain ranges and steep creeks with portentous names like Grizzly and Bad Luck. Just over the border from Yellowstone National Park, the Sun holds giant herds of cattle and elk amid many predators—bears, mountain lions, and wolves. In lyrical, haunting language, Andrews recounts marathon days and nights of building fences, riding, roping, and otherwise learning the hard business of caring for cattle, an initiation that changes him from an idealistic city kid into a skilled ranch hand. But when wolves suddenly begin killing the ranch’s cattle, Andrews has to shoulder a rifle, chase the pack, and do what he’d hoped he would never have to do. Called “an elegant memoir” by the Great Falls Tribune, Badluck Way is about transformation and complications, about living with dirty hands every day. It is about the hard choices that wake us at night and take a lifetime to reconcile. Above all, Badluck Way celebrates the breathtaking beauty of wilderness and the satisfaction of hard work on some of the harshest, most beautiful land in the world.
Andrews was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. He studied at Whitman College and the University of Montana, and has managed several cattle ranches in the West. He lives in Montana.
Sometimes, it is good to get away from the best-seller tables and look at the racks of books from new authors.
I plan to buy and read both of these over the next few months.
An increasing number of consumers now download and read books on electronic devices, such as the popular Kindle by Amazon, the Nook from Barnes and Noble, or the iPad from Apple.
As you survey my blog posts, I have long been an opponent of these devices. I have previously argued why traditional books should be the way to go. I will not repeat those arguments here – they are readily available in our archives.
I think the “show-stopper” will be the investigation and results that come from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of the Federal Government. This watchdog association is notorious for its detailed and long-lasting impact on products that put consumers at risk.
My prediction is that tests will continue to reveal a negative impact on consumer exposure to these devices. An increasing number of reports available on the internet now reveal questions about the effects from reading text with these devices, including eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, and short and long-term vision loss.
To be fair, there are also a number of reports that call these claims “silly,” and there are also available posts that show consumers how to adjust the backlight and contrast in order to make the exposure more suitable for the individual.
All of this is fine, but the reports have brought enough attention where we will see serious, not anecdotal investigations into the effect of these products. You can regularly see recalls of products that the CPSC has deemed unsafe. Their decisions have brought dozens of manufactured products to their knees.
Will the CPSC be bold enough to go forward to apply the standards for safety that they have long used to these electronic devices for reading? What will the scientific investigations reveal? And, regardless of the findings, will enough consumers be scared, and return to the purchase of traditional books? I believe that this will happen. One credible report, with one major recall, that is announced with enough publicity, will be enough to significantly debilitate consumer acceptance of these devices.
In the meantime, what is your own tolerance level for risk? Reports from both sides are available on the internet. Who and what do you want to believe?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
This is the time of the year that we see so many collective lists of the “best of 2010.” In the last few days, we have seen such lists for films, sports accomplishments, songs, architecture, recipes, restaurants, and of course, books.
I want to tell you that I am unimpressed with most of the lists that I have seen that focus on books. As with films, these book lists contain great confusion among quality and quantity. That premise is particularly true when the lists come from booksellers themselves, such as a recent e-mail I received from Barnes and Noble with their “Books of the Year.”
Just like a film, a book is not necessarily good because it sells. Popular, best-selling books are of no greater quality than are popular, high dollar-grossing films. Because people buy a book does not make it good. Nor do I consider it a good barometer for quality.
Consider the terrible film from the late ’70’s, the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” That film grossed millions of dollars and played regularly in theatres on Friday and Saturday nights through the mid ’90’s. It had no redeeming merit and critics panned its quality. Yet, it had a cult-like following, and it played to packed audiences, mostly either inebriated or bored, for many years.
In the recent Barnes and Noble list, I saw one business book for the 2010 year. It was The Big Short by Michael Lewis. I saw no other business books. I believe that was a fine book, but not as good as his previous offering, Moneyball. Why was it on the list? Because it sold. The best books in that list are the best-sellers. But, best-selling does not indicate high quality. I can give you titles of at least a dozen other books this year that were of higher quality than that one, but that simply did not sell as well.
Please remember that we only summarize the content of best-selling books at our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. The number one criterion is that the book must be on a best-selling list somewhere that we find credible. These lists include Business Week, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Amazon.com, among others. I will admit to you that after 13 years of doing this, I have delivered synopses of some books that sold well, but that were simply not very good. Some were not well-written, some were ill-researched, and some were best-sellers just because of the reputation of the author.
Regardless, we will continue to use best-sellers as our basis for book selection at the First Friday Book Synopsis. But, I am telling you that popular does not equate to good. And, there are likely some very good books that do not have the boost of marketing dollars from huge publishers that likely go overlooked. Strange as it sounds, it may not be optimal, but these lists remain the best vehicle available for us to use for our selections. Remember – popular may not be good. And, good may not always be popular.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!