June Thomas of Slate writes about newly released book titles and the world of publishing in The Book Reader.
Here's an idea for anyone who feels guilty about watching TV when they could be curled up with a book: Why not read about television?
In "From Scratch: Inside the Food Network," out now from Putnam, Allen Salkin uses the history of the niche network to tell an enthralling story about the transformation of the cable TV industry, the rise of the celebrity chef, and the blossoming of foodie culture. Some of the book’s characters are so familiar that we know them by their first names—people like Emeril, Ina, Rachael, Giada, and Mario—but in Salkin's retelling, some of the obscure executives and salesmen seem just as fascinating, and perhaps even more important to the network's spectacular success.
Mathew Klickstein's "Slimed," published by Plume, presents itself as "an oral history of Nickelodeon's Golden Age." Unfortunately, though, the format means that it's strictly for superfans of the first children’s TV network. Although Klickstein conducted hundreds of interviews with actors, writers, and producers of shows like "Salute Your Shorts," "Are You Afraid of the Dark," "Clarissa Explains It All" and "The Ren & Stimpy Show," he doesn't provide enough context. Unless you have the names of every Nickelodeon actor and writer memorized, you'll spend half the time consulting the cast of characters at the back of the book.
Look for reviews of more new releases on the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.