Book trailer: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)

This Is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press | 9780763655990 | $15.99 | Oct 2012

There was no other book I sold this summer that was more anticipated than Jon Klassen's follow-up to last year's insanely funny breakout book, I Want My Hat Back.

Some of my more patient and tolerant buyers even let me read the F&G of This Is Not My Hat aloud as though our appointment was storytime. (Thanks, guys!)

Here's a taste of what is coming:


Shelf Awareness gives Laura Amy Schlitz's Splendors And Glooms a starred review (Candlewick)

I loved Splendors And Glooms more than any previous book from Laura Amy Schlitz, and when I was talking about it with bookstore folks this summer, I described it as even more captivating than her earlier long YA novel, A Drowned Maiden’s Hair.  

I’m probably violating some bookselling covenant by slighting her book that actually won the Newbery Medal (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!), but that’s just me. I loved A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, and I loved Splendors And Glooms immediately.

Yesterday, Shelf Awareness published their starred review in their “For Readers” edition. An excerpt:

The author entwines the fates of a 70-year-old witch named Cassandra; a girl named Clara Wintermute, who's the only surviving child of a rich physician and his wife; and the wizard Grisini, who doubles as a gifted puppeteer. Grisini keeps his two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, on a string as tight as those of his extraordinary marionettes. Clara catches sight of Grisini's puppet show in Hyde Park and decides that this should be the entertainment at her 12th birthday party. Schlitz weaves together the individual chapters, which move smoothly among the third-person viewpoints of each character, into an edge-of-your-seat tale.  


Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick Press | 9780763653804 | $17.99 | Aug 2012

More, elsewhere:

Other starred reviews for Splendors And Glooms:
Publishers Weekly
Booklist (login required)

PW’s Q&A with Laura Amy Schlitz 

Fall 2012 Preview: The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s (Norton)

With training camp wrapping up, here's a little something to remind us all of the way things used to be in the NFL. Out now from W.W. Norton: Kevin Cook's pull-you-right-in-and-kick-you-around chronicle of the birth of the modern NFL - and the beginning of modern sports as we all know it today: The Last Headbangers. 

The Last Headbangers: NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless '70s
by Kevin Cook
W.W. Norton | 9780393080162 | $26.95 | Sept 2012 

My review from Goodreads, posted moments after I finished reading the manuscript back in April:

"The new book from the author of Titanic Thompson (seriously, just go read that one first, okay?), the unofficial but totally legit history of the wild and crazy 1970s in the NFL - the decade when football finally graduated from post-war doldrums and transcended its prior existence as second-runner-up to collegiate football to America's highly-paid, sensationalistic, kick-ass sport. Particularly recommended if you were a fan of the Steelers or the Raiders in that era - or hated those teams with a passion."

More from the book's page at Norton:

Between the Immaculate Reception in 1972 and The Catch in 1982, pro football grew up. In 1972, Steelers star Franco Harris hitchhiked to practice. NFL teams roomed in skanky motels. They played on guts, painkillers, legal steroids, fury, and camaraderie. A decade later, Joe Montana’s gleamingly efficient 49ers ushered in a new era: the corporate, scripted, multibillion-dollar NFL we watch today. Kevin Cook’s rollicking chronicle of this pivotal decade draws on interviews with legendary players—Harris, Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Ken “Snake” Stabler—to re-create their heroics and off-field carousing. He shows coaches John Madden and Bill Walsh outsmarting rivals as Monday Night Football redefined sports’ place in American life. Celebrating the game while lamenting the physical toll it took on football’s greatest generation, Cook diagrams the NFL’s transformation from second-tier sport into national obsession.

You can read an excerpt at ESPN's site.

Fall 2012 Preview: Instant: The Story of Polaroid (Princeton Architectural Press)

Book trailer for INSTANT: THE STORY OF POLAROID by Christopher Bonanos from Princeton Architectural Press on Vimeo.

If you're like me, you will no doubt find it impossible to watch this book trailer about the upcoming history of the Polaroid company and not want to learn more. In fact, I actually missed about 30 seconds in the middle of the trailer while I left the room in search of my ARC of the book.

From the book-making wonders at Princeton Architectural Press, and Christopher Bonanos from New York Magazine, comes the richly illustrated history of the visionary founder Edwin Land and the phenomenon of instant photography.

Instant: The Story of Polaroid
by Christopher Bonanos
Princeton Architectural Press (dist. by Chronicle Books) | 9781616890858 | $24.95 | Oct 2012


"Pictures in a minute!" In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, Polaroid was the hottest technology company on Earth. They were an innovation machine that cranked out one irresistible product after another. It was even the company after which Steve Jobs is said to have modeled Apple, and the comparison is true. Jobs's hero, Edwin Land, Polaroid's visionary founder, turned his 1937 garage startup into a billion-dollar pop-culture phenomenon. Instant: The Story of Polaroid, a richly illustrated, behind-the-scenes look at the company, tells the tale of Land's extraordinary and beloved invention.


More, elsewhere:

Christopher Bonanos: twitter | blog
Princeton Architectural Press: twitter | blog | tumblr

Fall 2012: Don Lattin's Distilled Spirits: Getting High, Then Sober, With A Famous Writer, A Forgotten Philosopher, and A Hopeless Drunk (University of California Press)


Distilled Spirits: Getting High Then Sober with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk
Don Lattin
University of California Press | 9780520272323 | $29.95 | Oct 2012

In 2010, longtime San Francisco Chronicle religion reporter Don Lattin published The Harvard Psychedelic Club – a book that explored the little-known history and connections among Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (now better known as Ram Dass), Huston Smith and Andrew Weil at Harvard in the early 1960s. His thesis was that their explorations into psychedelics created the primal conditions for what we now recognize as “The Sixties” to come into being.

From the NY Times review of The Harvard Psychedelic Club:

The earliest years of the 1960s were a heady time to be in and around Harvard. … And, thanks to Leary, heady things of a different sort were brewing, too. In the fall of 1960 he had returned to Cambridge after ingesting psilocybin mushrooms in Mexico, an occasion he called “the deepest religious experience of my life.” He began to spread the word.

Leary immediately set up what would become known as the Harvard Psychedelic Project, experimenting with psilocybin and later LSD in tests he and others thought would revolutionize psychology and change the world. … 

Mr. Alpert, Dr. Weil and Mr. Huston all fell, at least briefly, under Leary’s spell. So did scene makers like Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts and William S. Burroughs, all of whom began spending time at Leary’s sprawling home. There were late nights, new drugs, unhinged libidos. A version of the 1960s was being invented, one dazzling trip at a time.

Now, Lattin is back with a prequel of sorts that continues the vein of group biography and exploration of the spiritual and psychedelic expansions of the mind in the 20th Century. This time, it’s with a twist. His new book’s subtitle says it all: "Getting High, Then Sober, With A Famous Writer, A Forgotten Philosopher, and A Hopeless Drunk”.

Huxley2 Heard Orange BillW B
(left to right, Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Bill Wilson)

In Distilled Spirits, Lattin begins further back in time – at the end of the 19th Century – with the birth of the titular famous writer, Aldous Huxley, in 1894. We are soon introduced to Gerald Heard, the forgotten philosopher, born in 1889, and Huxley’s best friend and mentor. And then along comes Bill Wilson, the hopeless drunk, born in 1895, who survives his alcoholism to grow into his role as “Bill W” of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Like Leary, Alpert, Smith and Weil at Harvard, these three earlier travelers through the worlds of spiritual investigation and psychedelic experiences have surprising connections. And their mutual journeys are a big part of this book.

But the other part is the fourth subject of Distilled Spirits, also hinted at in the book’s subtitle: “Getting High, Then Sober”. Lattin is his own fourth subject. The reader discovers that this investigation into Huxley, Heard and Wilson, is also a journey back into the formative years of Don Lattin’s life and through his years of addiction and ultimately, his twelve-step-aided recovery.

I would argue that it’s this new element that makes Distilled Spirits an even more compelling read. The previously little-known connections among his other subjects are fascinating, and well-drawn. Huxley’s career and personal life, Heard’s formation of a proto-Esalen retreat center called Trabuco College, and Bill W’s creation of Alcoholics Anonymous with his wife and other colleagues form the prologue to their mutual exploration of LSD and other psychedelics ahead of Timothy Leary’s own discovery of them.

Lattin’s journey is just as compelling as the three larger-than-life figures he’s writing about and he draws their ultimate connections to each other and to his own life into an illuminating portrait of their times and ours.

Huston Smith has already provided a review of the book:

This remarkable book deserves the widest readership it can get, for more clearly than any other book I know it shows the depth to which the human spirit can descend and still rebound. Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard were close friends and my most important mentors, and I spent one memorable afternoon with Bill Wilson. Don Lattin's astonishing book brings their life stories alive. It is carefully researched and disarmingly honest.

Further reading & research:

Don Lattin online: web site  |  blog  |  twitter

Aldous Huxley: wikipedia

Gerald Heard: web site

Bill Wilson: wikipedia