The November Book Sense Picks & Notables Preview

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Here is the full listing of November Book Sense Picks, with booksellers' comments, as well as a preview of the month's Notables. Independent booksellers in the Book Sense program will be receiving their November Picks fliers in the October Red Box.

The November 2007 Book Sense Picks

1. 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS, by Joe Hill (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061147975 / 0061147974) "Reading this collection from the author of Heart-Shaped Box is like driving on hairpin curves: You never know what to expect. Joe Hill seamlessly alternates between making my skin crawl with 'Best New Horror' and my eyes tear up from 'Pop Art.' What a talent!" --Katie Glasgow, Mitchell Books, Fort Wayne, IN

THE CONTRACTOR, by Charles Holdefer (Permanent Press, $26, 9781579621735 / 1579621732) "The Contractor charts the downward spiral of a Gulf War veteran who becomes a highly paid contractor, interrogating prisoners who legally do not exist. His attempts to do right only serve to illustrate the dangers of the consequence-free legal gray area that exists around alleged enemy combatants." --Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC

THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER: A Novel, by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312358334 / 0312358334) "A sex-ed teacher and a Christian soccer coach, the teacher's daughter's soccer coach no less, find themselves on opposite sides of the hot-button issues of abstinence education and school prayer. What could be cheap for another writer turns to grace in Perrotta's hands." --Daniel Goldin, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, WI

FINDING IRIS CHANG: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind, by Paula Kamen (Da Capo, $26, 9780306814662 / 0306814668) "Paula Kamen writes about her longtime friend, writer, and activist Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking, who killed herself in 2004. Kamen creates an intimate and compelling story about an extraordinary woman and her sudden, mysterious death." --Linda Bubon, Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

THE END OF AMERICA: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, by Naomi Wolf (Chelsea Green, $13.95 paper, 9781933392790 / 1933392797) "In this brief pamphlet in the tradition of Common Sense, Naomi Wolf warns us of the methods used by modern tyrants and implores patriotic Americans to hold fast to the strongest tool the founders gave us for our defense: the Constitution." --Harry Payne, Constellation Books, Reisterstown, MD

HOW TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS YOU HAVEN'T READ, by Pierre Bayard (Bloomsbury, $19.95, 9781596914698 / 1596914696) "Since we all occasionally need to sound just a bit more literate than we might actually be (or at least in order to pretend to have read the book everyone is raving about), Bayard has decided to write a primer for us -- and it's a real hoot. This is for the smart person who loves books but just doesn't have enough hours in the day to actually read them all." --Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

THE SOUND OF BUTTERFLIES: A Novel, by Rachael King (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061357640 / 0061357642) "Rachael King's writing makes for smooth sailing for readers of this historical novel about an amateur naturalist whose voyage to the Amazon leaves him a changed man. More tortuous is the journey his wife must take to find the mystery behind his unnerving transformation. Rich in detail and well-researched." --Laura Hansen, Bookin' It, Little Falls, MN

A FREE LIFE: A Novel, by Ha Jin (Pantheon, $26, 9780375424656 / 0375424652) "This is another excellent story by Ha Jin, who immediately draws you into the lives of the Wu family -- father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao -- immigrants from China now in the U.S. The experiences that Nan goes through make him re-evaluate his life, which, in turn, opens readers to a wonderful, introspective read." --Bobbi Brewer, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, ME

A MONK JUMPED OVER A WALL: A Novel, by Jay Nussbaum (Toby, $14.95 paper, 9781592642014 / 1592642012) "Jay Nussbaum is a master storyteller. A Monk Jumped Over a Wall is a heartfelt story of one man's journey of self-discovery, as he searches for his life's true path. Nussbaum's characters are vividly drawn, depicting both human frailty and personal courage. Some books are read and forgotten, this one will long be remembered." --Carol Arnold, Browsing Bison Books, Deer Lodge, MT

A PIGEON AND A BOY: A Novel, by Meir Shalev (Schocken, $25, 9780805242515 / 0805242511) "Meir Shalev has written a romantic and lush story of Israel on the eve of independence juxtaposed against the present. More than anything I have read, in the rhythm of the stories, the romantic longing, and the intense love, this beautiful book reminds me of Love in the Time of Cholera." --Carla Cohen, Politics & Prose Books & Coffee, Washington, DC

DARKNESS FALLS, by Kyle Mills (Vanguard, $24.95, 9781593154592 / 1593154593) "Terrorists have produced a bacteria that eats crude oil. When they manage to infect the largest fields in Saudi Arabia and Alaska, the world is thrown into chaos. As government agents work with top scientist to halt the catastrophe, gas prices soar and life in the civilized world is changed forever. Mills' thriller feels uncomfortably realistic." --Linda Walonen, Bay Books, San Ramon, CA

DEAD MAN IN PARADISE: Unraveling a Murder From a Time of Revolution, by J.B. MacKinnon (New Press, $24.95, 9781595581815 / 1595581812) "An extremely readable political history of the Dominican Republic depicted through a nephew's search for the truth behind his uncle's murder. Very well researched and thorough, and highly recommended." --Julia Green, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX

GOD OF LUCK, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn (Soho, $23, 9781569474662 / 1569474664) "Like thousands of Chinese men who were kidnapped in the 19th century for the little-known coolie trade to the Americas, Ah Lung is separated from his beloved wife as he is enslaved and sent to toil in the guano mines in offshore Peru. Never giving up hope for his freedom, Ah Lung constantly entrusts his fate to the God of Luck. Author McCunn hones her passionate storytelling skills in a spellbinding story you won't soon forget." --Lillian Kinsey, Bohannons' Books With a Past, Georgetown, KY

THE INDIAN CLERK: A Novel, by David Leavitt (Bloomsbury, $24.95, 9781596910409 / 1596910402) "Paul Erdos once asked G.H. Hardy, the noted 20th century British mathematician, to name his greatest contribution to their field. Hardy unhesitatingly replied that it was the 'discovery' of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the great mathematical geniuses in recent centuries. Across the chasm created by color, nationality, education, language, and colonialism, they spoke to each other in the language of pure numbers. Their collaboration plays out in this novel of intellectual history against the clubby atmosphere of British academics, homosexuality, food, and, finally, WWI." --Chris Stier, Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, MI

THE MELANCHOLY FATE OF CAPT. LEWIS: A Novel of Lewis & Clark, by Michael Pritchett (Unbridled, $24.95, 9781932961416 / 1932961410) "High school history teacher Bill Lewis, in the midst of writing a book about explorer Meriwether Lewis, reveals that he shares the historic Lewis trait of depression and madness. Fascinated by the hellish adventures of Captain Lewis, morbidly drawn to the downward spiral of his biographer, I read to the end, as Bill Lewis glimpses a ray of hope for his sanity, his son, and his marriage." --Gina Webb, Tall Tales Book Shop, Atlanta, GA

THE PURE IN HEART, by Susan Hill (Overlook, $24.95, 9781585679287 / 1585679283) "Susan Hills' second foray into the realm of crime fiction is a very British whodunit that unfolds in the cathedral town of Lafferton, with DCI Simon Serrailler back in action. Like Ruth Rendall, the characters are as important as the circumstances, and the result is a psychological thriller, full of sharp detail and finely crafted prose. Very satisfying." --Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, MI

THE RACE, by Richard North Patterson (Holt, $26, 9780805079487 / 0805079483) "This book asks 'Can an honest man become president?' The time period is today, beginning with early primaries and ending up at the Republican convention. The politics are dirty -- full of lies, double-crosses, and manipulations -- and the candidates lining up vary from a shrewd businessman who has his own Christian TV show and theme parks to Corey Grace, a war hero who is brilliant, honest, and forthright. An electrifying page-turner!" --Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM

THE SCENT OF DESIRE: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell, by Rachel Herz (Morrow, $24.95, 9780060825379 / 0060825375) "Since reading Scent of Desire I've noticed myself inhaling more deeply, wanting to capture the smells around me (at a restaurant or florist -- even on the bus). This clever examination of the physiology and psychology of scent will wake you up to the world around you." --Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

I AM LEGEND, by Richard Matheson (Tor, $14.95 paper, 9780765318749 / 0765318741) "In a genre where authors typically employ more gore and violence than plot and character, it is refreshing for a vampire novel to succeed as brilliantly as this one. Robert Neville is, to the best of his knowledge, the only human still alive. As he searches for answers, the story moves beyond the horror genre and into the realm of social criticism. A terrific study of solitude and fear." --Jon Stich, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA

THE THANKSGIVING TABLE: Recipes and Ideas to Create Your Own Holiday, by Diane Morgan (Chronicle, $19.95 paper, 9780811855426 / 0811855422) "Since I was born on Thanksgiving Day, this holiday has been special to me. I tell people that having your birthday the week of Thanksgiving guarantees you'll have at least one good meal near your birthday -- and this is a great book to help you do just that." --Caroline Stoufer, Buckskin Booksellers, Ouray, CO

The November 2007 Book Sense Notables


THE AIR WE BREATHE, by Andrea Barrett (Norton, $24.95, 9780393061086 / 0393061086)

THE CHASE, by Clive Cussler (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399154386 / 0399154388)

THE CHRISTMAS PEARL, by Dorothea Benton Frank (Morrow, $14.95, 9780061438448 / 0061438448)

LIFE OF PI: Deluxe Illustrated Edition, by Yann Martel (Harcourt, $29.95, 9780151013838 / 0151013837)

SAMEDI THE DEAFNESS, by Jesse Ball (Vintage, $12.95 paper, 9780307278852 / 0307278859)

STEPS THROUGH THE MIST, by Zoran Zivkovic (Aio, $23.95, 9781933083100 / 1933083107)

TIPPERARY, by Frank Delaney (Random House, $26.95, 9781400065233 / 1400065232)

WINTERBIRTH, by Brian Ruckley (Orbit, $14.99 paper, 9780316067690 / 0316067695)


BAD KARMA: Confessions of a Reckless Traveller in Southeast Asia, by Tamara Sheward (Academy Chicago, $17.95 paper, 9780897335652 / 0897335651)

CORMAC: The Tale of a Dog Gone Missing, by Sonny Brewster (MacAdam / Cage, $17.00, 9781596920613 / 1596920610)

THE HUMAN, THE ORCHID, AND THE OCTOPUS: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World, by Jacques Cousteau with Susan Shiefelbein (Bloomsbury, $25.95, 9781596914179 / 1596914173)

MARCO POLO: From Venice to Xanadu, by Laurence Bergreen (Knopf, $28.95, 9781400043453 / 140004345X)

PROUST AND THE SQUID: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf (Harper, $25.95, 978-0060186395 / 0060186399)

REEF, by DK Publishing and Scubazoo (DK Publishing / Penguin, $40, 9780756631222 / 075663122X)

THE SIEGE OF MECCA: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of al-Qaeda, by Yaroslav Trofimov (Doubleday, $26, 9780385519250 / 0385519257)


THE ABDUCTION, by Mark Gimenez (Vanguard, $22.95, 9781593154639 / 1593154631)

A KILLER'S KISS, by William Lashner (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061143465 / 0061143464)

THE SECRET CARDINAL, by Tom Grace (Vanguard, $24.95, 9781593154561 / 1593154569)

THE WANDERING GHOST, by Martin Limon (Soho, $24, 9781569474815 / 1569474818)

ZUGZWANG, by Ronan Bennett (Bloomsbury, $24.95, 9781596912533 / 1596912537)

Permanent Press will offer all participating Book Sense stores a 50% discount on orders of five or more copies of Charles Holdefer's THE CONTRACTOR (9781579621735 / 1579621732).  Offer valid through November 30, 2007.

The Toby Press offers co-op advertising to any bookstore that orders 10 or more copies of Jay Nussbaum's novel, A MONK JUMPED OVER A WALL (9781592642014 / 1592642012). E-mail [email protected] for details or call (203) 830-8508.