The good news is that the book industry continues to stabilize - print sales, while flat, have stopped declining, and ebook sales grew less last year than in any year since 2008. Further good news is that for the third year in a row independent bookstores grew in number.
And finally there’s a burst of seasonal good news -a roster of enticing books for the summer season, with topics ranging from the trivial to the profound and every gradation in between.
“Margaret Thatcher: From Grantham to the Falklands,” by Charles Moore. The first volume of the authorized biography, written years ago with the understanding it wouldn’t be published until its subject had died. (June)
“The Astronaut Wives Club,” by Lily Koppel. The story of the Mercury, Apollo and Gemini astronaut wives. Lots of mutual support, lots of PR management by NASA. True fact: the only crew where all the marriages lasted was Apollo 8. (June)
“Double Double,” by Martha Grimes and Ken Grimes. The popular mystery novelist and her husband write a dual memoir about alcoholism. (July)
“The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies,” by Jonathan Alter. The first book out of the post-election chutes in the ever-present sweepstakes to succeed the late Theodore H. White. (June)
“Life at the Marmont,” by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten. The story of the legendary Chateau Marmont Hotel, perched above Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. (June)
“Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations,” by Peter Evans. A busted autobiography by the late movie star and her co-author, who somehow neglected to tell her that he had once been sued by Frank Sinatra. When Gardner found out, the collaboration came to a premature close. What Gardner told Evans is choice, ribald and sad. (July)
“Catastrophe 1914,” by Max Hastings. The distinguished military historian writes of the great unraveling of empires that led to World War I. (Sept.)
“The Silver Star,” by Jeannette Walls. The author of the perennial memoir “The Glass Castle” returns with a novel about children attempting to cope with a mentally ill mother. Fans of “Housekeeping” need not apply. (July)
“All the Dead Yale Men,” by Craig Nova. A sequel to Nova’s 1982 novel “The Good Son,” extends the theme of fathers, sons and generational manipulation into the 1970s. (July)
“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King. Danny Torrence, the little boy from “The Shining,” is now middle-aged and the only one who can save a young child attacked by paranormals. Redrum!!! (Sept.)
“Dissident Gardens,” by Jonathan Lethem. A novel about American Communism that spans the 1930s to the 1950s. (September)
“Levels of Life,” by Julian Barnes. A novel involving ballooning that segues into a story about devastating loss.
“The Counselor,” by Cormac McCarthy. Something different by the 80 year old author of “No Country for Old Men,” and a long list of similarly merciless novels. “The Counselor” is a screenplay about a lawyer who takes on one illicit drug deal in the hopes of setting himself up for life. It all goes irrevocably wrong, but then it’s by Cormac McCarthy. (Sept.)