Over the past two Sundays, we compiled samplings of fiction and nonfiction titles for the fall/winter, the busiest season for publishers. Some of the new titles are out now, others are coming. As they do, we’ll continue with samplings.
Let’s start with my pick for this fall’s top nonfiction title, “The Big New Yorker Book of Cats,” with a foreword by New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane (Random House, $40, 352 pages). One need not own cats (or do cats own their owners?) or even be a pet lover to savor this feline-focused offering of archival articles, essays, short stories, poems, humor, cartoons and reproductions of cat-centric New Yorker magazine covers. Among the contributors: T.C. Boyle, Margaret Atwood, Roald Dahl, Jamaica Kincaid, James Thurber, John Updike.
The good times are organized into four acts – “Fat Cats,” “Alley Cats,” “Cat Fanciers” and “Curious Cats.” Cartoons are scattered throughout the book, such as this one: The scene is a corporate office high in a skyscraper. Sitting in a chair behind a massive desk is the CEO – in this case, a dog in suit and tie. Standing in front of the desk is a dejected-looking employee – in this case, a cat, his long tail sticking out from his suit. It appears that the CEO is firing his employee, because the caption says: “I’m not worried about you, Henley. You’ll land on your feet ...”
“Inside Mad” by editors and contributors (Time Home Entertainment, $29.49, 256 pages; on sale Oct. 29): Mad magazine is a media icon that debuted in 1952. Over the decades, Mad’s staff satirized everything on the cultural landscape, and readers couldn’t get enough. Mad’s monthly circulation was 2 million-plus in its heyday in the 1970s. Here, celebrity fans write essays about the role Mad played in their younger lives, and contributing artists and writers choose their favorite content from past issues. Contributors include Roseanne Barr, Ken Burns, Whoopi Goldberg and David Lynch. Funny stuff, if your sense of humor goes that way.
“The Gods of Guilt” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $28, 400 pages; Dec. 2): Though the A-list novelist is best known for his 18-title Harry Bosch series, this fifth entry in his “Lincoln Lawyer” series finds iconoclastic defense attorney Mickey Haller a suspect in the murder of a former client.
“Evil Eye” by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press, $23, 224 pages): The super-prolific, controversial (“Rape: A Love Story”) creative-writing professor calls herself “a serious writer, as distinct from entertainers.” Still, much of her output is dark and viewed as popular fiction with literary bents. Here she presents “four novellas of love gone wrong,” one of her specialty themes.
“The Best American Nonrequired Reading,” edited by Dave Eggers, introduced by guest editor Walter Mosley (Best American, $15.95, 512 pages; on sale Tuesday): Journalist-editor-novelist Eggers, founder of McSweeney’s publishing company in San Francisco, offers an eclectic and diverse assemblage of fiction and nonfiction from novelists, journalists and bloggers. A-list novelist Mosley has appeared for the Bee Book Club.
The 50th anniversary edition of “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” by John Le Carré (Penguin, $15, 240 pages): Though “Spy” was Le Carré’s third book, it was the one that established his career as the master of the espionage thriller. Publishers Weekly magazine, the bible of the book world, named it the “best spy novel of all time.” The plot: During the Cold War, a disgraced British intelligence agent is persuaded to pretend to defect to East Germany to disseminate false information that may convince the Germans that one of their own agents is a double agent. Got that? The 1965 movie starred Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Oskar Werner. Burton was nominated for a best-actor Oscar.
“Route 66 Treasures” by Jim Hinckley (Voyageur Press, $30, 64 pages; Oct. 21): The fascinating book promises “rare facsimile memorabilia from America’s mother road,” and delivers with postcards, maps, ads and menus (Rocky Mountain rainbow trout was $2 at Rod’s Steak House way back when). Plus, vintage color and black-and-white photos capture the landscape of what America used to be.
“Killer Weed” by Michael Castleman (MP Publishing, $14.95, 216 pages): In the fourth Ed Rosenberg thriller, the unemployed journalist is hired to research the history of the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, site of the 1967 Summer of Love. He ends up following a cold case involving the 1968 murder of a young woman who was dealing pot.
“The Knight’s Temptress” by Amanda Scott (Forever, $8, 400 pages): The second entry in the “Lairds of the Loch” series involves a daring rescue, plenty of swordplay and dangerous treks across the moors. Romance writer Amanda Scott of Folsom is a meticulous researcher known for her historical and geographic accuracy. Visit her at www.amandascottauthor.com.
The British newspaper the Guardian conducted a survey among 2,000 of its readers, asking: “What (well-known) books have you claimed to have read, but haven’t?” The responses:
1. “1984” by George Orwell
2. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
3. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
4. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
5. “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster
6. “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R Tolkien
7. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
8. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
9. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
10. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
Friends book sale
The Friends of the Sacramento Public Library will host a sale of 70,000 “gently used” books, videos, records and audiobooks (50 cents to $2), 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the warehouse at the rear of the “Book Den” store, 8250 Belvedere Ave., south Sacramento; (916) 731-8493.
Upcoming author appearances:
• Professor-authors at the UC Davis campus, at various venues, all starting at noon. Information: (530) 752-9072.
Tuesday: Amber Boydstun for “Making the News: Politics, the Media and Agenda Setting”
Thursday: Paul Knoepflerv for “Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide”
Oct. 15: Alan S. Taylor for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832”
• R. Ira Harris for “Island of the White Rose,” 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Avid Reader, 617 Second St., Davis.
• Jack L. Parker for his four-title “Adventure” series, 11 a.m. Saturday at the Orvis Store, 1017 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; (916) 783-9400.
• Glenda Carroll for her mystery “Dead in the Water,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Avid Reader, 617 2nd St., Davis; (530) 758-4040. The author is an open-water swimmer.
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe