Quick picks for books


"Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Scribner, $35, 1,088 pages; Tuesday): An invisible force field seals off an entire Maine town from the rest of civilization.

THRILLING ENDORSEMENTS: Virtually every novelist in America fantasizes about being picked to appear on Oprah Winfrey's talk show. But now an increasing number of writers have discovered a new champion: Glenn Beck, the outspoken media darling of populist conservatism.

On his radio show and cable television programs, first on CNN Headline News and now on the Fox News Channel, Beck has enthusiastically endorsed dozens of novelists, a majority of them writing in the thriller genre. Beck, who now attracts 9 million weekly listeners on radio and 2.7 million daily viewers on television, often selects authors whose plots or characters reflect political stances that mirror his own. But he also promotes the work of authors who may disagree with many of his views.

"He's our Oprah," said Brad Thor, a writer of political thrillers who has appeared on Beck's radio and television programs several times. "God love him, we're very fortunate."

After James Rollins, the author of "The Doomsday Key," a thriller about a group of Defense Department scientists trying to solve an ancient mystery, appeared this past summer on Beck's radio program and then his television show - on which Beck promised viewers "it will keep you on the edge of your seat" - Rollins met several people at a book signing who told him they had bought the book based on that recommendation, he said.

According to Seale Ballenger, a publicist for William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins that released "The Doomsday Key," the novel remained in the Top 10 of the New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list longer than typical for its type. "It was totally driven by Glenn Beck," Ballenger said.

- New York Times

IT'S ALL ABOUT ME: When browsing online or in a bookstore, one might easily conclude that every third person in the country is actively engaged in writing or reading a memoir.

The rest have it on their to-do lists.

Ben Yagoda, author of the new "Memoir: A History" (Riverhead Books), concurs.

"I worked on the book for three years, and the whole time I kept expecting it to die down a bit," he said in a recent interview. "But even now I get alerts, 15 or 20 a day, announcing the publication of more new memoirs."

The emphasis on memoirs is so strong that autobiography, history and fiction may be endangered. And the reasons for the memoir's popularity may rest in our very nature as Americans: In a land where the majority rules, individuality is exalted and memoir is more befitting the American ideal of resourcefulness.

"When it comes to proving points and making cases, fiction's day is done," says Yagoda, a journalism professor at the University of Delaware.

- McClatchy Newspapers