All posts by George Cooper

BINC to the rescue!

We’re happy to report that the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) has provided $4,000 in financial assistance to some of our employees who suffered losses from Hurricane Irma. We are very thankful for its help.

This foundation was started for Borders Bookstore employees, but when that chain went our of business, it opened its coffers to all bookstore employees suffering financial duress from problems ranging from natural disasters to medical problems.

Donation to help support the work of BINC can be made by clicking here.

Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend – Cristina de Stefano

A landmark biography of the most famous Italian journalist of the twentieth century, an inspiring and often controversial woman who defied the codes of reportage and established the “La Fallaci” style of interview.

Oriana Fallaci is known for her uncompromising vision. To retrace Fallaci’s life means to retrace the course of history from World War II to 9/11.

As a child, Fallaci enlisted herself in the Italian Resistance alongside her father. Her hatred of fascism and authoritarian regimes would accompany her throughout her life. Covering the entertainment industry early on in her career, she created an original, abrasive interview style, focusing on her subject’s emotions, contradictions, and facial expressions more than their words. When she grew bored of interviewing movie stars and directors, she turned her attention to the greatest international figures of the time: Khomeini, Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, and Kissinger, placing herself front and center in the story. Reporting from the front lines of the world’s greatest conflicts, she provoked her own controversies wherever she was stationed, leaving behind epic collateral damage in her wake.

Thanks to unprecedented access to personal records, Cristina De Stefano brings back to life a remarkable woman whose groundbreaking work and torrid love affairs will not soon be forgotten. Oriana Fallaci allows a new generation to discover her story, and witness the passionate, persistent journalism that we urgently need in these times of upheaval and uncertainty.

It’s Biography Week!

 This week’s new books bring a tantalizing stack of biographies.
— Walter Isaacson (Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein) adds Leonardo Da Vinci to his subjects in a “majestic . . . enthralling, masterful, and passionate” biography.
— David Yaffe brings us Reckless Daughter, an intimate biography of Joni Mitchell, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell and the songwriters she influenced, from Joan Baez to Leonard Cohen.
— Cristina de Stefano’s Oriana Fallaci: The Journalis, The Agitator, The Legend explores the life of  this remarkable woman whose groundbreaking work and torrid love affairs will not soon be forgotten.
— Astronaut Scott Kelly tells his own story in Endurance, from his rough and tumble childhood to his year-long stay in space.
— And not to be outdone by these humans,Nate Blakeslee’s American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West brings us the enthralling story of the rise and reign of O-Six, the celebrated Yellowstone wolf, and the people who loved or feared her.

Time to stop by and pick us some reading about your fellow mammals.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West – Nate Blakeslee

The enthralling story of the rise and reign of O-Six, the celebrated Yellowstone wolf, and the people who loved or feared her

Before men ruled the earth, there were wolves. Once abundant in North America, these majestic creatures were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states by the 1920s. But in recent decades, conservationists have brought wolves back to the Rockies, igniting a battle over the very soul of the West.

With novelistic detail, Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, O-Six, a charismatic alpha female named for the year of her birth. Uncommonly powerful, with gray fur and faint black ovals around each eye, O-Six is a kind and merciful leader, a fiercely intelligent fighter, and a doting mother. She is beloved by wolf watchers, particularly renowned naturalist Rick McIntyre, and becomes something of a social media star, with followers around the world.

But as she raises her pups and protects her pack, O-Six is challenged on all fronts: by hunters, who compete with wolves for the elk they both prize; by cattle ranchers who are losing livestock and have the ear of politicians; and by other Yellowstone wolves who are vying for control of the park’s stunningly beautiful Lamar Valley.

These forces collide in American Wolf, a riveting multigenerational saga of hardship and triumph that tells a larger story about the ongoing cultural clash in the West–between those fighting for a vanishing way of life and those committed to restoring one of the country’s most iconic landscapes.

Reckless Daughter: Portrait of Joni Mitchell – David Yaffe

An intimate new biography of Joni Mitchell, one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century

Joni Mitchell is a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans. In her heyday she released ten experimental, challenging, and revealing albums; her lyrics captivated people with the beauty of their language and the rawness of their emotions, both deeply personal to Mitchell and universally relatable to her audience. In this intimate biography, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs from her youth on the Canadian prairie, her pre-vaccine bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, up through the quintessential albums and love affairs, and all the way to the present and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers, and her friends.

Yaffe has had unprecedented access both to Mitchell and to those who know her, drawing on interviews with childhood friends and the cast of famous characters (Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen, David Crosby, and more) with whom she has crossed paths and influenced, as well as insightful analyses of her famous lyrics, their imagery and style, and what they say about the woman herself. Reckless Daughter tells the story of Mitchell and also of the fertile, exciting musical time of which she was an integral part, one that had a profound effect that can still be felt today on American music and the industry.

Leonardo Da Vinci – Walter Isaaacson

“A powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life….the book is a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it.”–The New Yorker

“Majestic . . . Enthralling, masterful, and passionate.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A monumental tribute to a titanic figure.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

He was history’s most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us?

The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.

Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.

His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.

Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it–to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.

Edurance – Scott Kelly

A stunning, personal memoir from the astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station–a candid account of his remarkable voyage, of the journeys that preceded it, and of his colorful and inspirational formative years.

The veteran of four spaceflights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few have. Now, he takes us inside a sphere utterly hostile to human life. He describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both life-threatening and mundane: the devastating effects on the body; the isolation from everyone he loves and the comforts of Earth; the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk; and the still more haunting threat of being unable to help should tragedy strike at home–an agonizing situation Kelly faced when, on a previous mission, his twin brother’s wife, American Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot while he still had two months in space. Kelly’s humanity, compassion, humor, and determination resonate throughout, as he recalls his rough-and-tumble New Jersey childhood and the youthful inspiration that sparked his astounding career, and as he makes clear his belief that Mars will be the next, ultimately challenging, step in spaceflight. A natural storyteller, Kelly has a message of hope for the future that will inspire for generations to come. Here we see the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the infinite wonder of the galaxy.

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

The instant New York Times bestseller Entertainment Weekly‘s #1 Must-Read Book for Fall * Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Selection * #1 Library Reads Pick * September IndieNext Pick “I am loving Little Fires Everywhere. Maybe my favorite novel I’ve read this year.”–John Green

“I read Little Fires Everywhere in a single, breathless sitting.” -Jodi Picoult “Witty, wise, and tender. It’s a marvel.” – Paula Hawkins

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Crimes of the Father – Thomas Keneally

From one of our greatest living writers, a bold and timely novel about sin cloaked in sacrament, shame that enforces silence, and the courage of one priest who dares to speak truth to power. Sent away from his native Australia to Canada due to his radical preaching against the Vietnam War, apartheid, and other hot button issues, Father Frank Docherty made for himself a satisfying career as a psychologist and monk.

When he returns to Australia to lecture on the future of celibacy and the Catholic Church, he is unwittingly pulled into the lives of two people–a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun–both of whom claim to have been sexually abused by a prominent monsignor. As a member of the commission investigating sex abuse within the Church, and as a man of character and conscience, Docherty decides he must confront each party involved and try to bring the matter to the attention of both the Church and the secular authorities. What follows will shake him to the core and call into question many of his own choices. This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is “the work of a richly experienced and compassionate writer with] an understanding of a deeply wounded culture” (Sydney Morning Herald). It is an exploration of what it is to be a person of faith in the modern world, and of the courage it takes to face the truth about an institution you love.

The Grouchy Historian – Ed Asner

In the tradition of Al Franken and Michael Moore, Ed Asner–a.k.a. Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show–reclaims the Constitution from the right-wingers who think that they and only they know how to interpret it. Ed Asner, a self-proclaimed dauntless Democrat from the old days, figured that if the right-wing wackos are wrong about voter fraud, Obama’s death panels, and climate change, they are probably just as wrong about what the Constitution says. There’s no way that two hundred-plus years later, the right-wing ideologues know how to interpret the Constitution.

On their way home from Philadelphia the people who wrote it couldn’t agree on what it meant. What was the president’s job? Who knew? All they knew was that the president was going to be George Washington and as long as he was in charge, that was good enough. When Hamilton wanted to start a national bank, Madison told him that it was unconstitutional. Both men had been in the room when the Constitution was written. And now today there are politicians and judges who claim that they know the original meaning of the Constitution. Are you kidding? In The Grouchy Historian, Ed Asner leads the charge for liberals to reclaim the Constitution from the right-wingers who use it as their justification for doing whatever terrible thing they want to do, which is usually to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. It’s about time someone gave them hell and explained that progressives can read, too.