Last week we talked about the Trump books. Here’s another trend that won’t quit: the f*ck books. The f*ck books hit prime time with Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Released in 2016, it was an immediate bestseller and Manson remains, almost three years later, in the Amazon top ten sandwiched between Rachel “Wash Your Face” Hollis and Jordan “Wash Your Penis” Peterson.
In the wake of Manson have come the advice books UnF*ck Yourself, F*ck Your Feelings, Calm the F*ck down, Grow The F*ck Up, and Zen As F*ck. In the relationships vein are F*ck Marriage, F*ck Love, and F*ck Him! For business and career readers we have Busy as F*ck, F*ck Motivation, F*ck Content Marketing and F*ck This Job. On the wellness shelf are The F*ck It Diet, Healthy As F*ck and F*ck Cancer. Fiction readers have a choice of Small-Town F*ck Club, A-List F*ck Club, and Hate F*ck (part of the Forbidden Bodyguards series).
On it goes. For parents: Go the F*ck to Sleep. For homemakers: Tidy The F*ck Up. For foodies: F*ck That’s Delicious. The inevitable F*ck Trump. And my personal favorite, What The Actual F*ck, which is some kind of personal planner.
(The image above is what you get when you search for Manson’s book on Amazon. Fans of the genre are loyal to the genre.)
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Pro tips from Toronto’s most beautiful bookstore
On your behalf, I asked my friend Ben McNally, the great Toronto bookseller, to recommend three non-fiction new releases:
Moneyland: The Inside Story of the Crooks and Kleptocrats who Rule the World, by Oliver Bullough. It’s also an Economist book of the year.
Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War, by Tim Bouverie. Hard to believe but this book appears to have broken new ground on one of the most discussed topics of the last seventy-five years.
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib. “A poignantly told memoir about a life fiercely lived,” says Kirkus.
Never mind the obits: Morris was brilliant
The biographer Edmund Morris died of a stroke at the age of 78 a couple of weeks ago and I’m having trouble letting go, in part because his obituaries were dreadful.
The New York Times, the world’s most narcissistic newspaper, quoted its own reviews of Morris’s books, which including a great Teddy Roosevelt trilogy, and Dutch, the one-volume authorized biography of Ronald Reagan. Like the NYT, the L.A. Times and Washington Post gave a ridiculous amount of space to the brief controversy over Morris’s perfectly legitimate and transparent device of occasionally resorting to a fictional narrator to convey ideas about Reagan that he could not express in a traditional non-fiction narrative.
You come away from these pieces thinking all Morris managed to do in life was offend a handful of obstinate (spiteful?) academicians. All of his books aspired to more than a recitation of lived facts. They were meticulous, probing character studies – elegant works of literature -- and the Roosevelt books (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Colonel Roosevelt, and Theodore Rex) are as good as any written about any American president, ever. Highly recommended.
A book idea up in flames
Speaking of the NYT. The spire of Notre Dame Cathedral burned on April 15. The fire was barely out when French president Edouard Philippe announced an international architectural competition for the design of a replacement spire. Within two weeks , Penguin Press announced that it had signed the Times’ chief architecture critic to write a book on the rebuilding. It promised to “bring readers into the workshops, vaults, and towers of the giant church that has been a magnet for centuries and the epicenter of Europe.” All good until this week when the French Senate legislated that the spire be built exactly as it was. Same shape. Same materials. No competition. No story.
This week in coincidences
On May 1, the very day Sutherland House released Conrad Black’s The Canadian Manifesto, Counterpoint Books (which a decade ago published the U.S. edition of my Hearst book, The Uncrowned King), announced it had signed radio host Bob Garfield to write American Manifesto for publication next year. It will look at history, politics, economics, sociology, “and even evolutionary biology” to devise a formula to unfragment America. The Canadian Manifesto was meanwhile Amazon’s best-selling political book this week. (The illustration above is a detail from the book’s endpapers, designed by Lena Yang.)
How to negotiate like Putin
I’m not sure what to make of this but I don’t think I’ll be able to ignore it. The Kremlin School of Negotiation has been translated and released in the English language, in hardcover and on Kindle, by Canongate Books. The author is Igor Ryzov, a Russian business coach. He tells you how to deal with someone who simply won’t give in, who is uncompromising, who is manipulative. For what it’s worth, Ryzov won a PricewaterhouseCoopers award for best Russian business book in 2016.