Top Trending: December 8 – 13

It’s December, the best month to curl beside your cozy fireplace while sipping on a mug of frothy hot chocolate—with a great book by your side, of course!

This week’s Top Trending books are magical, mysterious, and mesmerizing—delve into a wild world of beasts, detectives, and unforgettable heroines.

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Bouncing in at number two is J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We’re sure that as you’ve read through the Harry Potter series, a few questions will have popped up—like where does the Quintaped live, for example? Or those adorable purplish-pink Puffskeins, what do they eat? A copy of this book is a necessity in every wizarding household, but now Muggles can join in on the fun, too!

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When Mrs. Quine’s novelist husband goes missing, her first thought was that he was up to his usual fun and games—that he had gone off by himself for a few days as he used to do before. But when he doesn’t return home, she calls in private detective Cormoran Strike, who quickly realizes that there’s much more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist had just finished a manuscript featuring life-ruining pen-portraits of everyone he knows—meaning there are a lot of people who might want Quine silenced. The Silkworm is tantalizingly suspenseful and just happens to be written by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s penname).

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In John Green’s Finding Alaska, silence and safety is all that comes to Miles Pudge Halter’s mind when he thinks about life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and he’s determined to change that. When Miles goes off to Culver Creek Boarding School for a change in scenery, he meets the gorgeous and unforgettable Alaska Young, who embodies everything he wants his life to be: dangerous, unpredictable, a little screwed up, and utterly fascinating.

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Get wrapped up in the fascinating world of the cyberpunk genre in William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, this novel—about a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack— exploded onto the science fiction scene in the 80’s. In fact, only one science fiction masterpiece is to thank for the term “cyberpunk”—a subgenre of sci-fi in a near-future setting, noted for its focus on “high tech and low life”— and that is Neuromancer.

Intrigued yet? Check out the rest of this week’s exciting list of Top Trending books here!

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Twitter: Battle of the Sports Books

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard—who has recently won the U.S. player of the year award—is releasing a new book, The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard this Monday (December 9), to the delight of soccer fans around the globe.

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And this isn’t surprising—people are still reeling from Howard’s spectacular performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including 16 saves in the 2-1 loss in extra time to Belgium in Brazil. He did so well that a plethora of “Things Tim Howard Could Save” memes broke the Internet.

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With all of that in mind, we decided to see what type of sports book is most popular in the Twittersphere. We cast a spotlight on four sports—basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer—and pulled out four books featuring the very best athletes in their fields to determine which inspired the most mentions.

Michael Jordan: The LifeRoland Lazenby

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He shoots…and he scores! From the Shrug to the Shot and Flu Game, Michael Jordan is responsible for legendary moments that are so ingrained in sports history that they have their own names. Basketball journalist Roland Lazenby delves into the complex life of the hoops star, starting all the way back to Jordan’s skinny rookie days.

The Closer: My StoryMariano Rivera

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Follow along with the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera, as he shares his extraordinary story of survival, love, and baseball. The son of a poor Panamanian fisherman, Rivera didn’t even have his own glove when he was scouted by the Yankees—nor did he fly in an airplane or speak English. But with the love of his family and Rivera’s trust in the Lord, he emerges as one of baseball’s most iconic figures.

Mr. Hockey: My StoryGordie Howe

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Get wrapped up in the definitive autobiography from hockey’s greatest living legend, Goldie Howe. Known as “indestructible,” Howe dominated both the sport and record books—over six decades, the Hall of Famer set the record for most records by any athlete ever in any sport.

Why Soccer MattersPelé

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Before Beckham and Messi, there was Edson Arantes do Nascimento—simply known as Pelé, the greatest soccer player of all time. Boasting an unprecedented three World Cup championships with 1,283 goals in his amazing twenty-year career, Pelé has now turned to writing, providing insights into soccer’s role in connecting players around the world.

We’re not going to lie, we honestly thought that Pelé’s book would have the highest amount of mentions, seeing as how soccer is known as the “world’s most popular sport,” and all, but Twitter doesn’t seem all that impressed. The book has a little more than 50 mentions in the past year— the lowest number out of the four books—and was released all the way back in April.

Both Michael Jordan: The Life and The Closer were published at the same time to a decent amount of buzz—Jordan’s book inspired twice as many tweets (almost 400) during their month of release (May), while Howe’s Mr. Hockey only managed to scrape 68 tweets in its October month of publication.

So between the four sports and legendary athletes, baseball and Mariano Rivera emerge as the victors.

Have you read any of these inspiring books? If so, what did you think? If you have a favorite sports book, share with us by leaving a comment!

From Memoirs to Movies

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012) author Cheryl Strayed’s first-person memoir of her 1,100 mile-hike from the Mojave Desert through California, Oregon, and the border of Washington State— has been adapted into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon and it’s all anybody can talk about.

Out in theaters today, the movie is projected to be a smashing success that matches that of the book, which reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and was the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

This made us wonder: What does it take for a memoir to become a movie? Does the book have to be a bestseller before movie executives even consider the purchase of rights for the film?

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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006) chronicles Elizabeth Gilbert’s trip around the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels. The book remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for a whopping 187 weeks, spurring Columbia Pictures to purchase movie rights for a film starring Julia Roberts.

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Journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997) describes what the author’s life is like after a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. The book received phenomenal reviews, sold the first 25,000 copies on the first day of publication, and continued on to become a number one bestseller across Europe. The success prompted a film of the same name featuring Mathieu Amalric as Bauby.

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Clearly, how well the memoirs performed in sales played a big part in their transformation into films, but money isn’t the only factor—Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. The critical acclaim was enough to push for a film to be made, following the anecdotes and stories of the author’s impoverished childhood and adulthood in Brooklyn, New York, and in Limerick, Ireland.

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However, An Education (2009)—journalist Lynn Barber’s memoir of her teenage lover affair with a suave, older man—was not a bestseller, nor did it win any notable awards. Screenplay writer Nick Hornby simply stated that Barber’s story appealed to him because Lynn was “a suburban girl who was frightened that she was not going to get a cut out of everything good that happens in the city,” essentially likening her story to that of “pretty much every rock ‘n’ roll band.” The film version of the same name went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Carey Mulligan.

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Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Placeabout how Ralston was trapped by a boulder in an isolated slot canyon in Blue John Canyon— was also made into a film (starring James Franco) for similar reasons. Director Danny Boyle, fresh from his previous film, Slumdog Millionaire, “wanted to do a film where [he] could follow an actor the way Darren Aronofsky did with The Wrestler, and 127 was [his] version of that.” Boyle wanted a powerful and intimate film, and Ralston’s one-man story resonated with him above all others.

In both cases with An Education and Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the memoirs were chosen not because of their ability to fly off bookshelves, but for reasons far deeper. They are unbearably honest and display the unbreakable strength of the human spirit, proving that it’s not always about the money or accolades—sometimes, a book’s message just has to strike the right emotional chord.   

YouTubers vs. Established Authors

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If you’ve never heard of Zoella, the popular English fashion and beauty YouTuber, then you’ve been living under a rock—because this 24-year-old has recently obliterated records for highest ever first week sales for a debut writer. With 78,000 copies of GirlOnline picked up in its first week, Zoella has outperformed both EL James and JK Rowling during their debuts!

Now that’s impressive.

With a rising trend of publishers throwing book deals at vloggers, we wanted to see whether their efforts for getting fans to post on social media are actually effective. By doing so, we pulled data from four books that have been released around the same time and compared the Twitter buzz generated by YouTubers to those of established authors.

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The Pointless Book: Started by Alfie Deyes, Finished by You is anything but pointless. Filled with fun activities and challenges, it is no surprise that vlogger Alfie Deyes—who boasts over 2.9 million subscribers—and his book were mentioned more than two thousand times on Twitter. A barrage of self-advertising tweets and interviews (along with constant mentions from girlfriend, Zoella––yes, you read right) helped a great deal. Grace Helbig’s (1.9m subscribers) Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up—a tongue-in-cheek handbook for young adults— also derived an impressive two thousand tweets. Helbig’s relentless campaign on Twitter and live launches have done well to promote the guide that is flying off bookshelves.

No surprises there, but when we pulled up tweets for Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat, we were blown away—the Queen of Gothic Fiction’s new novel inspired almost four thousand mentions. We guessed that the continuation of sexy vampire Lestat’s story had something to do with it, but Jodi Picoult’s novel, Leaving Time about a daughter determined to find her missing mother—generated a whopping five thousand mentions!

We’ve got to be honest— we suspected that the YouTubers (who are all in their twenties) would win out, especially over older authors who lack a younger fan base, but we were wrong. Although the graph (below) suggests that The Pointless Book and Grace’s Guide boasted the highest spikes in discussion, Prince Lestat and Leaving Time had the most consistent buzz throughout.

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Make no mistake––although young social media mavens are currently all the rage, veteran authors are still the ones who reign supreme over the literary world.

Top 5 TV Shows Based On Books

From witches, blood-sucking vampires, to privileged teens in the Upper East Side and murderous teenagers, television shows these days are exciting and addictive—all you want to do at the end of an episode is watch another.

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But did you know that many of these TV shows were based off of novels?

Here are five of the most surprising:

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Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris serves as the basis for the hit television drama series, True Blood. The novel details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional town in Louisiana.

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Who would have thought that popular Netflix show Orange Is the New Black—a comedy-drama series about a bisexual woman who is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison— is actually based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison? Kerman details the story of her money laundering and drug trafficking conviction and subsequent year spent in a women’s prison, where she attempts to preserve her individuality in the face of a gray bureaucracy.

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Boardwalk Empire, an American period crime drama TV series, was inspired by Nelson Johnson’s book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. Emmy Award winning screenwriter Terence Winter was inspired after reading about local mob kingpin Enoch L. “Nucky” Thompson and the Prohibition-era mecca of lawlessness.

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Most people are so engrossed with the TV show Dexter that they fail to realize that the show’s first season was derived from Jeff Lindsay’s novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. A forensic blood spatter pattern analyst, Dexter has a unique hobby—in his spare time, he acts as a serial killer who kills rapists, murderers, and other undesirables he believes have escaped the justice system.

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Friday Night Lights is a popular show that is set against the backdrop of Texas and addresses issues facing contemporary American culture including family values, racism, drugs, and school funding. It takes its inspiration from H.G. Bissinger’s non-fiction book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and Dream, which details the 1988 season of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you prefer the TV show adaptation or the novel? Share your thoughts by leaving us a comment!

This Week’s Top Trending Relaxation + Self-Help Books

December is here! Now that NaNoWriMo is officially over, you can relax your poor fingers and let your brain quiet down for a bit. Fortunately, we’ve got just the thing you need: this week’s list of Top Trending relaxation and self-help books. From the art of being “still,” to tips on how to manage stress, we’ve got you and your mental wellbeing covered.

The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness by Barb Schmidt

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 Happiness isn’t easy to acquire—and sometimes, your mind is your worst enemy. It takes training to gain an inner source of peace and with Schmidt’s three-part spiritual discipline, you will learn how to avoid stress and doubt while gaining a higher sense of self-confidence. The tools that you will learn are derived from a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions and are proven to work. Meditate, reflect, and engage in exercises that will inspire and change your life.

Sane New World: A User’s Guide to the Normal-Crazy Mind by Ruby Wax

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Attempt to understand the craziness of modern life with this hilarious and honest book by comedian, writer and mental health advocate, Ruby Wax. So often our minds can drive us up the wall with our internal critics (“You should have,” “Why didn’t you,” etc.) that it’s no wonder that we’re all a little bit bonkers. This is why Wax— by sharing her enlightening life journey— hopes to explain why we sabotage our sanity, how our brains work, and how we can rewire our thinking through often simple techniques.

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer

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 Staying put isn’t as simple as you’d think. The Art of Stillness focuses around the unexpected adventuring of staying still and theorizes that, “the more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.” Pico, a lifelong traveler who has visited everywhere from Ethiopia and Cuba to Kathmandu, draws influence from the lives of well-known monks and his own experiences as a travel writer in rural Japan. Iyer reflects that advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat, and stresses that sometimes “Nowhere” has a lot more to offer than “Anywhere.”

 Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year by Demi Lovato

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 Anywhere you go, you will see singing megastar Demi Lovato’s face plastered on posters and television screens. The former Disney star may seem as if she leads a perfectly charmed life, but she has her own demons to deal with. In Staying Strong, the starlet—who is about to embark on her second season as a judge on X-Factor—commits to helping other young people dealing with issues of self-worth and value. With a powerful 365-day collection of Lovato’s most hopeful insights and quotes, readers will emerge from the pages to be stronger than ever.

Do you have any similar book suggestions or tips on how to wind down? If so, share with us by leaving a comment! Visit here for the rest of this week’s Top Trending self-help and relaxation books.

Black Friday: Books To Look Out For

After you’ve had your fill of delicious Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie, prepare yourself for the event of the year—Black Friday!

We know there are a ton of things to buy, but if you happen to spy any of these books, don’t hesitate to make a purchase—critically acclaimed and recommended by celebrities, they will make great holiday gifts.

I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend Martin Short

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Comedian Martin Short tells the tale of how a showbiz-obsessed boy from Canada transformed himself into one of Hollywood’s favorite funnymen.

MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial FreedomTony Robbins

Tony Robbins has coached and inspired more than 50 million people from over 100 countries. Now, in his first book in two decades—he teaches you how to secure financial freedom for yourself and your family.

Beware of PityStefan Zweig

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In 1913 a young lieutenant discovers the dangers of pity—he had no idea the girl was lame when he asked her to dance. His ensuing courtship relieves his guilt but gives her a dangerous glimmer of hope.

Yes Please Amy Poehler

Comedian Amy Poehler offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex, love, friendship and parenthood in her highly anticipated first book.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club: A NovelGenevieve Valentine

Gorgeous and bewitching, this novel is a twist on the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

The Art of CaptaincyMike Brearley

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Journey alongside Brearley, one of England’s finest cricket captains, as he considers his role on the field and the impact that sporting success can have on other parts of our lives.

Thanksgiving Romances & Mysteries

This season, weave a little romance and intrigue into your Thanksgiving. Experience love blossoming over a pecan pie, a mysterious disappearance, tipsy turkeys, and more with our list of Thanksgiving romance and mystery novels.

ThanksgivingJanet Evanovich

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Bunnies are usually fluffy balls of adorableness—except when they are gnawing on your clothes. When Megan Murphy discovers a floppy-eared rabbit chewing on the hem of her skirt, she intends to give its careless owner a piece of her mind. What she doesn’t expect is that the owner in question, Dr. Patrick Hunter, is too good-looking to stay mad at for long. Before the two know it, they engage in a breathless romance that has them playing house together and making Thanksgiving dinner for their families.

How to Bake the Perfect Pecan PieGina Henning

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Lauren Hauser is home for the holidays and this year, she is tasked with preparing her grandmother’s famous pecan pie. There’s only one problem—Lauren can’t cook to save her life. Whereas her sister would win Star Baker every week, and her mom at least knows a sieve from a spatula, Lauren’s bakes have always been more dangerous than delicious. Still, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without the pecan pie—which is why Lauren finds herself looking for pecans on Thanksgiving Eve, when she stumbles upon a gorgeous stranger laden down with bags of (surprise, surprise) pecans!

Thanksgiving in Connecticut May McGoldrick

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Talented photographer Paige Colman has stayed away from the seaside Connecticut village of Stonington ever since a viral YouTube video capturing her in the buff was released. Now, four years later, Paige decides that it’s time to return—especially since her eighty-six year old grandmother is throwing the mother of all Thanksgivings to celebrate her recent marriage to younger man, Ed Fenwick. But when Paige arrives and comes face-to-face with hometown god and former flame, Stanley Fenwick (grandson of the groom), Paige must now protect her heart as well as retain her sanity.

The Trouble With Turkeys Kathi Daley

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All Zoe wants is a peaceful vacation before Thanksgiving arrives—but when she agrees to help her friend Jeremy with his temporary job at a turkey farm, everything starts to go downhill. From a dead miser to tipsy turkeys and an eclectic cast of edacious heirs, this is one Thanksgiving that Zoe will never forget.

The Thanksgiving Day Murder Lee Harris

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When Natalie Gordon goes to buy a balloon at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and disappears, her desperate husband pleads with ex-nun Christine Bennett to help with the case. What Christine uncovers is that not only are Natalie’s present whereabouts a mystery, but so is her past—even her husband seems to know very little about her. With nothing but a cardboard box of Natalie’s belongings—a few books, keys, some cosmetics—to go off of, Christina engages in one of her most dangerous assignments yet.

Blackberry Pie MurderJoanne Fluke

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Hannah Swensen only has one goal in mind, and that is to focus on her bakery. Unfortunately, life is never really quiet for Hannah—after all, her mother’s wedding is a little over a month away and she is in charge of the planning. Yet when Hannah thinks that her biggest challenge will be whether buttercream or fondant should be used for the wedding cake, she accidentally hits a stranger with her cookie truck on her way to run some errands.

When an autopsy is performed, it is revealed that the mystery man, with a shirt covered in stains from blackberry pie, would have died even if Hannah hadn’t hit him. Now, to clear her name, Hannah will have to follow a trail of pie crumbs to track down exactly what happened.

We hope that you enjoyed our list of Thanksgiving romances and mysteries! What are some of your favorite holiday books? 

Top Trending Food + Wine : November 24 – 30

Thanksgiving is all about hanging out with your family and being thankful—but let’s be honest, food plays a huge part, too. So since we’re suckers for anything and everything that’s delicious, let us present to you this week’s list of Top Trending food and wine books.

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck by Thug Kitchen

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As the title encourages, you should eat like you give a hoot—especially during the holidays! Started from Thug Kitchen’s wildly popular website to inspire others to eat more vegetables, this book features well over a hundred unique recipes that will delight and surprise your taste buds. From Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos to Pumpkin Chili and Grilled Peach Salsa, eating healthy has never been this much fun. Oh, and in case you haven’t already noticed— Thug Kitchen is known for its distinctive voice, so expect some laughs along the way.

Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook is no laughing matter—it’s the real deal. When you see your guests’ looks of utter delight as they sink their teeth into a dazzling variety of vegetarian dishes, you will know why.

An award-winning chef and considered one of the world’s most beloved culinary talents, Ottolenghi is renowned for his unique cooking method that emphasizes spices and bold favors. With more than 150 recipes—including luscious desserts ranging from cakes to flan—Plenty More is a must-have for both vegetarians and omnivores.

Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson

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Whether you’re dealing with a vegetarian, meat-eater, or super picky dinner guest, have no fear—Nigella Lawson has all of your culinary bases covered. Informative and engaging, Lawson offers everything from super-fast exotic recipes for the weekday rush, to leisurely slow-cook dishes for weekends and special occasions. Cook up something for a group of hungry teenagers, or rustle up a quick meal for friends—you’ll always be prepared with recipes such as Asian Braised Beef Shank, Clams with Chorizo, and Guinness Gingerbread Cookies. Gorgeously illustrated, this lively narrative is well on its way to becoming a twenty-first century classic for all lovers of food.

Eating Wildly: Foraging For Life, Love and the Perfect Meal by Ava Chin

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Forget the classic term for “forager”—in Eating Wildly, Chin takes you through the process of “urban foraging,” the new frontier of searching for ingredients. Eat better, healthier, and more sustainably, no matter where you live with this touching memoir about foraging for food in New York City.

Is your stomach grumbling yet? Share some of your favorite cookbooks and click here to check out the rest of this week’s Top Trending list!

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Congrats, 2014 National Book Award Winners!

Congratulations are in order for the winners of the National Book Awards!

We stuck our neck out last week and were a hair’s breadth from predicting two of the winners. Today we’ve been looking back at our data and wondering what signals we missed that would have allowed us to make a correct prediction.

When it came down to it, the race was extremely close: Evan OsnosAge of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, Faith in the New China won out against John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. We had Tennessee Williams ahead thanks to the large number of recent tweets referencing the book (nearly ten times as many as Age of Ambition). However, the eventual winner amassed the most tweets over the course of the year and, crucially, these tweets had extremely high sentiment.

We also plumped for John Corey Whaley’s Noggin in the Young Person category as it had a very strong week on Twitter ahead of the awards and had out-performed the competition over the entire year. Brown Girl Dreaming’s surge to victory, from second in our prediction, may have been foreseeable – it did gather twice as many predictions as Noggin in the month following the announcement of the finalists – a good sign that it had strong momentum.

We’ll take all this on board and tweak our technology so that next time, we’ll be spot on. In the meantime, check out the rest of the National Book Award Winners and learn more about the judges! If you’ve read any of the novels, sound off and let us know what you think—do you agree or disagree with the verdicts?

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