Perhaps I should call this Monday Night Media.
This week's Sunday Book Review cover features Class Warfare, Court TV founder Steven Brill's report card on school reform. There's also a review of a book we mentioned last week: Amy Waldman's beautifully constructed The Submission. Thomas Mallon discusses a book that kept me reading late into the night last week. The book is A First-Rate Madness, in which psychologist Nassir Ghaemi posits that it's good to be a little crazy if you want to be a great leader during difficult times. But what really caught my attention was the section on Back to School Children's Books. Being a new parent, I realize not everyone will share my sentiment. That said, there must be at least a dozen reviews of children's books in this section. The review that really stood out for me (even though my young son may never take notice himself) was Caitlin Flanagan's review of books based on better known classics. According to Flanagan, "One of the last places where girls can encounter the romantic stories they crave is in novels, an art form perfect for anyone who wants to spend time alone with her dreams and her imaginings. One of the reasons Twilight has become such a blockbuster is that it tells the ancient tale: the one about passion and restraint. And the reason a story like that could take flight in the popular imagination is that it began not as a movie, but as a set of novels that could be cherished, hidden from parents, whispered about and most of all hidden from the boys." I don't know if this theory is true, but I kind of hope it is.
The LA Times reviews the latest from Baltimore's own best selling mystery writer, Laura Lippman. David L. Ulin describes the book as occupying "the unlikely middle ground between thriller and coming-of-age saga." He goes on to say, "Loss of control is a theme in The Most Dangerous Thing, as it is in many of Lippman's novels, which balance plot and social observation, offering mysteries that comment on the world. That has to do with Lippman's background; a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, she is acute on the shifting social landscapes of her hometown and especially on the fate of newspapers, which come up as a subtext in her work." I am happy to report that the new Senior Editor for Amazon Books, Neal Thompson, used to work with Lippman at the Sun.
NPR Books also reviews A First-Rate Madness, but there were two other reviews this weekend that caught my eye. The first is a book from earlier in the summer, and one I wasn't aware of. It's called Decoding Air Travel, and in it Nicholas Kralev, a former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times who's visited 82 countries and traveled nearly 2 million miles, tells us the secrets of the airline industry and how to get the travel you want at the price you want. The other wasn't so much a review as a round-up of great food memoirs. Excuse me for writing this, but I ate them up.
Right now, there are a number of movies out that are based on best-selling books. The New Yorker's David Denby reports on one of the best-selling of them all, The Help, and his review might surprise some people. He opens by saying, "The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling 2009 novel, is, in some ways, crude and obvious, but it opens up a broad new swath of experience on the screen, and parts of it are so moving and well acted that any objections to what's second-rate seem to matter less as the movie goes on. This is the kind of heartfelt liberal picture that Robert Mulligan ("To Kill a Mockingbird") or Martin Ritt ("Sounder") would have made forty or fifty years ago." Thanks for the assist, Mr. Denby.
In The Guardian it turns out that Pulitzer Prize-winnerJennifer Egan is writing a historical novel about women shipbuilders in Brooklyn, and that she was crazy about a British band of yore.
Forbes has a story on the world's highest paid authors.
BookBeast has a piece on every book President Obama has read since the last campaign.
Finally, Tom Nissley, the original proprietor of this blog (as well as Old Media Mondays) has some truly eye catching photos of his monumental book here.