USA Today Names ‘In the Garden of Beasts’ One of Top Ten Books to Watch For in May; Amazon Designates it a ‘Best Book’ for May; Erik Won’t Disclose His Birth Certificate Because He Can’t Find It, But is Pretty Sure He Was Born

As the launch date for my new book nears, I continue to look for signs as to how it will be received. The latest sign: USA Today just chose the book as one of its top ten to watch for in May. I was also pleased to learn earlier this week that Amazon named it a “Best Book” for May. And my U.S. publisher, Crown Publishing, reported that in response to rising demand it will now go to a second printing of the book, even before it’s officially out, which is good news indeed.

And by the way, increasingly people have begun referring to the book by its acronym, ITGOB, which sounds frankly a little like something a cat might cough up. And I personally have discovered that if you say ITGOB while growling, you’ll sound very much like the girl in The Exorcist.

Meanwhile, I grow more and more nervous about my upcoming book tour–partly, as I’ve mentioned before, because I hate to fly. My publicist is being very sweet, which is a real change, let me tell you–but yes, she is being very sweet and is emailing me at intervals to ask if certain flights and aircraft are okay to book. I’ve banned early versions of the Boeing 737, especially those with sunroofs, though later versions–namely those with “winglets” at the ends of the wings–are fine. I’ve also nixed propeller-driven Embrauers and biplanes of all makes and models. Blimps are out too, as are hot-air balloons, and all pedal-driven aircraft. For the record, my two favorite airlines are Alaska Air–because I have to believe that pilots experienced in landing and taking off in places like Juno in the dead of winter have to be good–and Virgin America, which adds a fresh twist to routine flying and is the brainchild of a man I very much admire, Richard Branson.

My least favorite airline? Too hard to choose. At the moment too many airlines are vying for my worst-airline rating, so I’ve decided to suspend the competition. One candidate, however, is a famous international airline, newly high on my list because on its flights in continental Europe it serves instant coffee.

Here’s the thing: I’d rather drive four hours than fly ten minutes, even though statistics show that driving is beyond doubt infinitely more dangerous. It’s crazy, I know. I am not alone in indulging this delusion, however. There’s at least one very famous novelist who won’t fly at all, and drives for the entire duration of his book tours. I admire this man, and I also like his books.

Other pressing news: I won’t publish my birth certificate, because I can’t find it. I mean, how many people of my generation CAN find their birth certificates? I was born in Brooklyn, NY, by the way, just like half the world’s population.

Sad news: I was NOT invited to Will and Kate’s wedding. We do, however, possess a commemorative tin of shortbread cookies with Will and Kate on the lid, which my wife picked up in Heathrow airport last week. But I have a question: Does Kate own only that one purple dress?

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Erik Larson is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, which examines how Winston Churchill and his “Secret Circle” went about surviving the German air campaign of 1940-41. Erik’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks, for a feature film. He recently published an audio-original ghost story, No One Goes Alone, which has been optioned by Netflix. Erik lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.

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