The global publishing industry is keenly aware that the National Book Critics Circle Award completes a powerful triumvirate with the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. When an author receives any of them, sales increase dramatically and his/her career skyrockets, at least temporarily.
That’s one reason for the gravitas surrounding the NBCC’s recent announcement of the finalists in six categories for its upcoming awards for the best books of 2013, to be presented March 13 in New York City.
The NBCC describes itself this way: “Founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel, (we are) an organization consisting of working critics and book-review editors … interested in honoring quality writing and communicating with one another about common concerns.”
The categories are fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry and criticism. Let’s pique some interest with this sampling; for the complete list of nominees, go to www.bookcritics.org.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for “Americanah”
Alice McDermott for “Someone”
Javier Marías for “The Infatuations”
Ruth Ozeki for “A Tale for the Time Being”
Donna Tartt for “The Goldfinch”
Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy for “Whitey Bulger: America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice “
Sheri Fink for “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital”
David Finkel for “Thank You for Your Service”
George Packer for “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America”
Lawrence Wright for “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief”
Scott Anderson for “Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East”
Leo Damrosch for “Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World”
John Eliot Gardiner for “Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven”
Linda Leavell for “Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore”
Mark Thompson for “Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kis”
Since its foundling in 1888, the National Geographic Society has devoted itself “to increasing and diffusing geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical and natural resources.” Through its magazine and first-rate books, the NGS has taken readers around the globe.
Two new titles continue that informative tradition. “Women of Vision” showcases the photo-narratives of 11 NG female photographers as they explore the cultures and landscapes in dozens of locales, via 150 images of “defining moments.” With an introduction by NBC news anchor Ann Curry ($30, 224 pages).
“Where the Locals Go,” compiled by the National Geographic Travel Team ($24.95, 287 pages), is a global tour of “neighborhood secrets” off the beaten tourist paths. Take a bike ride in San Francisco, sip a brew at a London ale house, find an empty park in New York City, taste the world’s best ham in Spain, explore islands by boat in Sweden.
• Predictably, the new year brought hundreds of dieting and fitness books to the market, aimed at those whose resolutions include getting in shape. One in particular stood out: “Love Me Slender” by Thomas Bradbury and Benjamin Karney (Touchstone, $25.99, 320 pages). The premise is simple: Team up with your significant other and form a bond of mutual support to lose weight and stay fit.
• “An American Woman in Pakistan” by Irene Aylworth Douglass (Wheatmark, $17.95, 384 pages): The author was thrilled when she and her husband moved to Pakistan in the 1960s – he to work for his company on the Mangla Dam, she to explore the local culture. The memoir is filled with her discoveries and travels.
• “Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal” by Matthew Hart (Simon & Schuster, $26, 304 pages): The author traveled the world to uncover the real stories behind the current boom in gold mining and exploration, “much bigger than the Gold Rush of the 1800s.” Asked why so many people are buying gold today, Hart said, “Fear of stocks and banks. Gold is the oldest asset on the financial menu.” He’s the author of the award-winning “Diamond.”
• “Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure” by Samira Kawash (Faber & Faber, $27, 416 pages): Most of us have our favorite candies – a Kiss, perhaps, or a handful of Jelly Bellys. But there’s much more to it than casual snacking, as this cultural history reveals. Like so many other industrialized foods, it began in the home kitchen and moved into popular culture. When candy first came to market it was “celebrated as a new kind of food for energy and enjoyment.” Then nutritional scientists and food reformers got into the act. Their advice: Have an apple instead.
Upcoming author appearances
• Cindy Sample for her “Dying ...” trilogy, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Cameron Park Library, 2500 Country Club Drive, Cameron Park; (530) 621-5500. Her presentation and book-signing will follow a book sale, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Marian Szczepanski for “Playing St. Barbara,” 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Avid Reader at Tower, 1600 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 441-4400.
• Paul Robins in conversation with Rick Eytcheson, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at Capital Public Radio, 7055 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento (with refreshments); register at www.capradio.org/books. Profits from sales of Robins’ novel, “Did Sid?”, set in Sacramento, will go to two charities. The free event is part of CapRadio Reads, the open-to-all book club of Capital Public Radio, meeting at 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month.
• Mystery authors R. Franklin James for “The Fallen Angels Book Club” and Kathy Asay for “Flint House,” 1 p.m. Feb. 22 at Face In a Book, 4359 Town Center Blvd., El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-9401.
• The Avid Reader in Davis regularly invites readers to free author presentations at 617 Second St., Davis, (530) 758-4040. Check out its February schedule; see more at www.avidreaderbooks.com. All events are at 7:30 p.m., except the Teri Kanefield event at 2 p.m.
Feb. 5: Penny Rosenwasser for “Hope Into Practice”
Feb. 7: Nikki Goth Itoi for “Moon Los Cabos”
Feb. 8: Carol Hess for “Representing the Good Neighbor”
Feb. 9: Teri Kanefield for “Girl From the Tar Paper School”
Feb. 15: Terry Shames for “Last Death of Jack Harbin”
Feb. 21: Thomas Cahill for “Greenhouse Redemption of the Planet Kraal”
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.