Notes from Neil

By Neil Rajala

A Look Ahead

Thursday, Jan. 2 — If you're a consumer of various types and genres of media like me, we're probably thinking along the same lines - enough with the Best Of 2013 lists already! I've decided to take the opposite approach this week and look ahead at some of the books our staff and sales reps are most excited about for the first part of 2014. I've already read some, the rest are waiting in my to-read pile. Here's what we'll be reading:

Upcoming 2014 Fiction:
(Please note - the release months shown are the best info I have right now. Some may change without notice.)

The Kept by James Scott.
The year's first significant novel arrives next week. A late 19th century revenge story that packs an emotional wallop. (January)

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson.
A lawyer from Thurgood Marshall's office, a civil rights case in Mississippi and a reclusive children's book author weave a tangled web in the post-World War II south. (January)

Kids These Days by Drew Perry.
This one's being pitched as a cross between Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen so expect some laughs. Impending fatherhood, life spiraling out of control and Florida as a backdrop. (January)

The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton.
An adventure/love story set in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. (January)

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
There's a lot of excitement already for this first in a planned trilogy about a future where nature is reclaiming its territory. The names Kubrick and Lovecraft are being tossed around as comparisons. (February)

This Dark Road to Mercy
by Wiley Cash.
The author's previous book, A Land More Kind than Home, was one that generated buzz as well as sales. His enthusiastic fan base is ready and waiting for this one. (February)

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick.
Always a critical favorite, the movie adaptation of Mr. Quick's The Silver Linings Playbook has the reading public waiting anxiously for this one. (February)

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler.
The advance copies of this one were numerous and early, so you already have a lot of Schuler booksellers ready and waiting to tell you about this marvelous debut novel. (March)

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger.
An early sales rep favorite, this historical thriller is being compared to the work of Umberto Eco and Iain Pears. (March)

The Intern's Handbook by Shane Kuhn.
An exciting, fast-paced thriller about a highly trained assassin who isolates his crooked corporate targets by working as an intern in their companies. (April)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.
An emotional and moving story about the life crises of a man who owns a bookstore. You know every one of us here will read this. (April)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
World War II, the occupation of France and the chance meeting between a blind French girl and a young German soldier. The novel was ten years in the making and by all accounts worth the wait. (May)

Upcoming 2014 Nonfiction:
(Please note - the release months shown are the best info I have right now. Some may change without notice.)

The Empire of Necessity
by Greg Grandin.
The author of the best-selling Fordlandia returns with a gripping true story of slavery, deception and rebellion in the early 1800's. (January)

What Should We Be Worried About? ed. by John Brockman.
The next installment in the groundbreaking science series by the founder of (February)

Mother of God by Paul Rosolie.
Mr. Rosolie explores the extreme western tributaries of the Amazon, specifically the region known as Madre De Dios, Earth's greatest ever wellspring of life, now facing grave threats. (March)

American Cornball
by Christopher Miller.
A sociological history of the things that have made us laugh, and what they reveal about us. (March)

The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff.
Focusing on San Francisco in the 19th century, Mr. Tarnoff introduces us to Twain, Harte, Stoddard and Coolbrith; four writers who shook off our European baggage and created a new uniquely American version of literature. (March)

Bourbon by Dane Huckelbridge.
An entertaining history of this truly American spirit. (April)

John Wayne by Scott Eyman.
Billed as the definitive biography of the man and the legend, Mr. Eyman uses interviews he conducted with the actor shortly before his death. (April)

There Goes Gravity by Lisa Robinson.
A no-holds-barred memoir from one of the key reporters of (and participants in) the rock music scene of the 70's and beyond. (April)

Congo: The Epic History of a People by Dave Van Reybrouck.
I'm especially anxious to dive into this one. Several hundred years of history of one of the most devastated countries on Earth, and one I confess to knowing very little about. (April)

Supreme City by Donald Miller.
Manhattan in the Jazz Age of the 1920's. All of the big names, monumental changes and sweeping history in one epic-sized book. (May)

The Fixer by Ira Judelson.
I almost passed on a copy of this one until I read a few pages. The author is New York City's foremost bail bondsman, "fixer" to the rich and famous, and this promises to be a wild story. (June)

So you know what I'm looking forward to in the coming months. How about you, folks? What 2014 titles are you waiting anxiously to read?

Until next week,


NeilNeil Rajala is Currently Director of Community & Business Services for Schuler Books, Neil's decade with the company has included the wearing of many different hats - and lots and lots of reading.