Amazon's Sara Nelson shares her favorite fall books
Amazon's Sara Nelson says Sept. 2012 is offering both serious literary titles and also some strong ‘commercial’ picks.
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Another book that’s definitely not homework is “Sutton,” by J.R. Moehringer, a book that much of Nelson’s team fell in love with, based on the life of America’s most successful bank robber, Willie Sutton. “It’s a novel that reads like nonfiction – that reads like a novel,” says Nelson, laughing. Moehringer captures Sutton’s rhythm perfectly, she says, making “Sutton” a “fascinating... walking tour of his life.”Skip to next paragraph
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One trend Nelson says she is seeing in publishing this fall is a slight pivot toward nonfiction, especially politically-oriented books and books about war.
One such book is “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” by Kurt Eichenwald, a gripping chronicle that recounts the first 500 days after 9/11. At 640 pages, it’s a far-reaching account that spans events from the White House to Guantanamo Bay to al-Qaeda training camps to torture chambers in Egypt and Syria, including “never-before-reported details about warrantless wiretapping, the anthrax attacks” and more, according to Amazon.com.
“We’re seeing a wave of literature about the wars,” says Nelson, including “Yellow Birds: A Novel,” by Kevin Powers. Nelson calls it a “poetic novel about two soldiers during the war.”
“You can tell he was a poet, each word is carefully chosen, and the book is not about the politics of war, it’s about two guys, about their relationship.
“It doesn’t attempt to be this giant book about war,” adds Nelson. “This is not that. It’s more in the vein of 'The Things They Carried,' or 'Dispatches.'”
Nelson says she expects Zadie Smith’s “NW: A Novel,” about class and identity in multicultural, working-class Northwest London, to continue getting rave reviews, all well-deserved.
Another book with a strong sense of place and culture is “This is How You Lose Her,” by Junot Diaz, a collection of nine stories about love.
She’s also keeping her eyes on “My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays,” by Davy Rothbart.
“’My Heart Is an Idiot’ is a book I didn’t think I would necessarily get,” says Nelson. “He’s a young man and this is an essay collection about his messed-up romantic life. I took it home, thought, ‘Well, everyone else likes this, so let me take a look.’ I was laughing out loud.”
A final fall treat on the “Best of Month” list is “Every Day,” by David Levithan, a tale about ‘A,’ who wakes up in a different person’s body and a different person’s life every day. “Don’t you wish you could do that?” says Nelson. “It’s a brilliant conceit.”
Amazon's September "best of" recommendations come together to create "a really hard-won list," says Nelson. "It’s a very busy, big time of year [in publishing], a great time of year for readers.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.