Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Pamela Anderson ...
… And so much more! Pamela Anderson’s memoir Love, Pamela is out today (Jan. 31), timed to the release of her Netflix documentary Pamela, a Love Story. The Baywatch actress and Playboy cover model, 55 — who told NPR that the memoir started as “a 60-page poem” — describes growing up painfully shy on Canada’s Vancouver Island; her tendency to fall for violent, bad men, her Playboy days and, maybe surprising to some, her love for books and devotion to learning.
After reading the memoir, our writer Maria Puente concluded that Anderson “is smarter, more well-read, thoughtful and politically acute than her public image thus far would suggest.” Find 10 notable revelations from the book here.
Yet another guide to better relationships wouldn’t normally turn my head, but 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It and Let It Go (Jan. 31) did. That’s thanks to its author: Jay Shetty, 35, host of the podcast On Purpose and author of the bestselling 2020 book Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day, which I picked up recently, seeking the aforementioned peace and purpose. It was inspiring and thoughtful, offering lessons on living your best life, based on Zen principles that Shetty absorbed living in India as a Hindu monk for three years.
Shetty offers similarly monk-like wisdom in his new book, presenting love as a daily practice, like meditation, that requires effort and attention. Love is not about “creating a perfect relationship,” he writes, but rather “learning to navigate the imperfections that are intrinsic to ourselves, our partners and life itself.” I love that.
Less monk-like, perhaps, the photogenic author is kicking off a world tour called “Love Rules,” to promote the book. The “90-minute experience” will be held at large concert halls in major cities like New York City, Paris and Sydney.
A fun way to hit “pause” on book buying
While I’ve just touted some new releases, the last thing many of us need is yet another hot-off-the-presses book that will be stacked atop our teetering bedside piles or crammed into overflowing bookshelves — only to be forgotten when the next must-read comes along. “Our reading eyes are bigger than our reading stomachs,” notes Suzanne Krohn, a book reviewer and creator of a blog about romantic fiction called Love in Panels. Her solution? Shop Your Shelves Bingo, where players are challenged to read only books they already own, filling in squares like “debut,” “bought it for the cover” or “published before 2020” as they go.
Krohn writes in an email that when she moved last year she was forced to contend with her “absurd” stash of unread books: 689 unread e-books, 361 unread physical books and 458 unread audiobooks for a total of 1,508. “So I decided to challenge myself: no book purchases except gifts for the next three months.” To make it fun, she came up with the Bingo game, and shared it with readers. She’s since made a dent, lowering her TBR stack by about 50 books. She’s posted a new challenge for January, if you want to try to lighten your own literary load.
In case you missed it…
True crime: A book thief is caught
I love true crime tales, and this one’s unique for being set within the usually rather unscandalous world of books. The villain of the story: Filippo Bernardini, an Italian working at Simon & Schuster UK in London who for years impersonated respected book editors at other publishing companies and literary agencies — spoofing email addresses and websites — in order to acquire more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts from authors including Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and Ethan Hawke. He pled guilty to wire fraud and aggregated Identity theft earlier this month.
Many in the industry were aware that there was an impostor in their midst, Vulture reports, noting that when editors first began noticing the phishing attempts, many grew paranoid: “People were suddenly distrustful of colleagues they had worked with for years.” Amateur sleuths in the biz eventually turned to the FBI for help, according to Vulture.
It’s been unclear what Bernardini’s motive was, because he never sold these precious (to some) documents, but Michael J. Driscoll, the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement that Bernardini abused his “insider knowledge … to steal other people’s literary ideas for himself, but in the end he wasn’t creative enough to get away with it.”
As one observer noted on Twitter, “This would make a good book.”
Anne Heche's 'Call Me Anne'
Jan. 24 brought the release of a buzzy new memoir, Call Me Anne, by actor Anne Heche, who died in a car crash in Los Angeles last August, just as she was completing the book. A sequel to her 2001 bestseller, Call Me Crazy, it touches on her childhood sexual abuse, three-year relationship with Ellen DeGeneres, work toward self-love and more — along with exercises for readers to find ways “to amplify the joy” in their lives. Read our excerpt from the book, where she describes the price she paid for opting to go public about her romance with DeGeneres. Hollywood, for one, "blacklisted" her: “I felt like patient zero in the cancel culture,” she writes.
Exploring love (and lust) later in life
And we have another new book about love, in time for Valentine’s Day: Gray Love: Stories About Dating and New Relationships After 60, edited by Nan Bauer-Maglin and Daniel E. Hood. It’s a collection of essays by 45 men and women, ages 60 to 94, about the challenges and joys inherent in making and building romantic connections in their older years.
They offer a wide range of perspectives: One woman describes how she found a partner with the help of a pricey matchmaker, a few are divorced and happy with their independence, and some express exasperation with online dating, while others say they’ve relished even the fleeting encounters it's afforded them (a woman who’s been on 39 first dates over nine years, for instance, writes that she got “something from everyone”).
The contributors also counter what Bauer-Maglin, a professor emerita at the City University of New York, believes is a pervasive misconception about people over 60: “that desire is not part of their life,” she noted in an email exchange about the book. “Some of the Gray Love writers say that they have had the best sex in their life [in their later years]. And they are not embarrassed to talk about it.”
January’s big book club picks
If your book group is debating which novel to pick up next — a contentious decision within some groups, I’ve been told — you might consider what other clubs are reading now.
Bookmovement.com, which tracks thousands of book groups’ choices, reports that their top fiction picks, as of early January, are:
1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: A charming, funny, best-selling debut novel released last year about a chemist in 1960s California who becomes the host of a cooking show and ends up teaching viewers about far more than how to bake a cake. (Available in paperback starting March 2.)
2. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray: A 2021 hit based on the real-life story of Belle da Costa Greene, hired by J.P. Morgan in 1905 to serve as his personal librarian, who hid her Black identity. (Available in paperback.)
3. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles: The 2021 bestseller by the author of A Gentleman in Moscow about two brothers who embark on a cross-country road trip to find their mother — though the journey takes quite the detour. (Available in paperback.)
4. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver: A thick, absorbing 2022 novel inspired by Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and centered on a young man growing up in poverty in Appalachia.
5. Horse by Geraldine Brooks: A 2022 novel by the Pulitzer Prize winner that shifts between three eras, including 1850, where we meet an enslaved groom caring for Lexington, a racehorse based on a famous real-life racehorse from that era.
Grand Masters of mystery
On Jan. 12, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced the two winners of its prestigious MWA’s Grand Master Award: Michael Connelly and Joanne Fluke. The award, which they’ll receive on April 27 at the MWA’s Annual Edgar Award ceremony in New York City, “represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing,” and was established to acknowledge “a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.”
Connelly, of course, is the author of the blockbuster Lincoln Lawyer series and the detective novels featuring Harry Bosch, the Los Angeles police detective who inspired the popular Amazon Prime TV series Bosch and its 2022 spin-off Bosch: Legacy. (You can read an excerpt from his latest, Desert Star, where Bosch teams up with fellow detective Renée Ballard, here.)
Joanne Fluke writes very different mysteries: cozies — mystery novels that forgo the blood and gore of their grimmer counterparts and instead offer a wholesome helping of warmth, humor and, often, baked goods. Fluke’s hugely popular series features an amateur sleuth and bakery shop owner named Hannah Swensen, and includes such delicious titles as last year’s Caramel Pecan Roll Murder and the upcoming Pink Lemonade Cake Murder (Feb. 28). The books have been adapted into five Murder, She Baked Hallmark Channel films starring Alison Sweeney.
If you like mysteries ...
Though it’s not written by a “master,” I enjoyed City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita (Jan. 10), whose debut novel is set in a cold, remote Alaska town where nearly everyone lives in one tall apartment building. (Fun fact: It’s based on a real place, Whittier, Alaska, where most of the 275 or so residents are housed in a 14-story former army barracks.) After a body washes up on the icy shores, an Anchorage detective comes to town to search for answers and finds herself with plenty of colorful, quirky characters to consider as potential suspects. Curl up with it somewhere warm and cozy.
What makes a ‘Good Life’?
It might sound obvious to a thoughtful person: Happiness comes not with fame or fortune but by forging and maintaining positive, meaningful social connections. Though this wisdom has been voiced often enough, it’s wonderful to hear it expressed in a lucid, inspiring way — with loads of scientific evidence to back it up. That’s what the authors of The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness (Jan. 10) have done.
Robert Waldinger, M.D., and Marc Schulz, Ph.D., used data from the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development, which followed the health and habits of a group of people through the decades, to conclude that the key to a good life is good relationships. They “keep us healthier and happier. Period,” they write. The book also includes advice for making and strengthening relationships that affirm and nurture us, and explains why “the most important and enlivening task of midlife [is] to expand one’s focus to the world beyond the self.”
You can read our interview with Waldinger — a Harvard psychiatry professor, Zen Buddhist teacher and director of the study — here.
Prince Harry breaks records
Could there be any more hype around Spare, the family-secret-spilling memoir from the British king’s second son, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex? It’s hard to imagine. Its publisher, Penguin Random House, made headlines months ago by simply revealing the book’s title — an allusion to the saying that a monarchy needs an “heir and a spare” (Harry’s older brother, Prince William, is the current heir to the throne.) On its first day on sale, Jan. 10, the memoir, ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer, sold 1.4 million copies, which the publisher said is an all-time first-day sales record for a nonfiction book. If you aren’t one of the millions who’ve already sprung for Spare, we’ve highlighted its key revelations for you.
The first great novel of 2023?
One of the best parts of my job is having the chance to read books pre-publication, particularly when I land on a stunningly good one. That would be Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor, out Jan. 3 — a complex saga that begins with a tragic traffic accident in New Delhi, then shifts back in time to detail how the three main characters’ lives become entangled. There’s reporter Neda (Kapoor also worked as a New Delhi journalist); wealthy, tortured Sunny, heir to his father’s corrupt business empire; and Ajay, Sunny’s wise, quiet servant. Exploring issues of class, power and morality, this action-packed page-turner should be one of the first breakout hits of 2023.
Find more of the new year’s biggest books, including celebrity memoirs and other nonfiction, through mid-March here.
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Please share your own favorite new (or old) books, upcoming releases you’re excited about, or anything book related in the comments section.
Christina Ianzito is the travel and books editor for aarp.org and AARP The Magazine, and also edits and writes health, entertainment and other stories for aarp.org. She received a 2020 Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 21, 2022. It has been updated to reflect new information.