7 books that shamelessly exploited controversy

Zimmerman juror B37 isn't the only one who's tried to turn outrage into publishing gold

Topics: Books, internet trolls, princeton mom, Tiger Mom, Rod Blagojevich, Jonah Lehrer, fat shaming mom,

The Internet hailed Genie Lauren as a hero for quickly putting an end to what would would have become one of the outrage-baiting books in America: The “inside” story of the Trayvon Martin trial, as told by one of the jurors who found his alleged murderer not guilty. Lauren helped stop the exploitation of a tragic situation this week, but not every controversial figure has met the same fate. Here are seven books that troll:

“The Heavy” by Dara-Lynn Weiss

Weiss fat-shamed her 7-year child and wrote about it in Vogue. A mother who has “not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight,” wrote about how “there have been many awkward moments at parties, when Bea has wanted to eat, say, both cookies and cake, and I’ve engaged in a heated public discussion about why she can’t.” In the face of outrage, Weiss was rewarded with a book deal.

“Smarten Up!: Words of Wisdom from the Princeton Mom” by Susan A. Patton

Feminism takes two steps back with The Princeton Mom, who has been awarded a book deal after her blunt open letter to the Daily Princetonian went viral. “Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out,” she wrote. “Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.” In related news: Women have casual sex.

“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua

With any luck — but mostly hard, rigorous work and never any fun, ever — Chua’s children will be future Princetonians, looking for husbands (maybe Princeton Mom’s grandkids?). But the Tiger Mom, who unhelpfully and problematically claimed that “Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” toned down some of the generalizations in her book after her younger daughter rebelled at 13.



“The Governor” by Rod Blagojevich

Someone gave ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted for corruption and an attempt to auction off President Obama’s vacated Senate seat, a book deal. That is all there is to say about the matter. Moving on.

An as-yet-untitled book about love by Jonah Lehrer

After his outing as a plagiarist and liar and fuzzy thinker, anything Jonah Lehrer writes is guaranteed to be met with outrage. The former New Yorker writer should have become the laughingstock of the journalism world. Instead, he was rewarded with a $20,000 speaking gig, where his plagiarism and lying served as material for an inspirational speech. Now he’s back at the top with a book deal from Simon & Schuster in which he’ll get to make up stuff/steal stuff about “love” — because hey, now he’s infamous.

“The Bag Lady Papers” by Alexandra Penney

There are plenty of thoughtful books about the plight of the poor, but former rich person Alexandra Penney’s is not one of them. Penney, a former magazine editor at Self, lost her riches to Bernie Madoff. Indeed, the amount of wealth she lost is unfathomable to most, but Penney’s troubles of suddenly having to take the subway, or selling her home in West Palm Beach, seem a bit out of touch with the rest of America.

“If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer” by O.J. Simpson

Few writing efforts are as offensive as O.J. Simpson’s — after being acquitted for the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, he wrote a whole book about how he would have killed them IF he had done it. 400,000 copies of the book were published, but after facing predictable backlash, HarperCollins recalled them. As of January, one copy remained — on sale for $250,000.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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