Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 21, 2017


One World: We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy Ta-Nehisi Coates

Beach Lane Books: The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Houghton Mifflin: Lights, Camera, Cook! (Next Best Junior Chef #1) by Charise Mericle Harper

Soho Press: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

Greenwillow Books: Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

News

New Children's Store Planned for Bay Area

Shoshana Smith and Marian Adducci have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund Flashlight Books, a children's bookstore they plan to open in Walnut Creek, Calif. So far, they've raised more than $8,000 toward their goal of $50,000, which represents a quarter of what they say they need to open a 1,300-square foot-store. The rest of the funding will come from them and through loans.

Flashlight Books, they write, will be "dedicated to promoting a love of reading in children--particularly in their teen and pre-teen years, when they most need the messages of empathy and the diverse viewpoints that books provide. We want to create a space that is community-focused and celebrates curiosity, passion, and learning. In addition, we will host events, create a tutoring space, and run programs for kids and teens.... We want to go one step further than merely selling books in a store. We want to share our genuine passion for stories, for the written word, with our clientele." Flashlight Books will also carry toys, plush, games, stationery and other gift items, as well as bargain books.

The store's name relates to an image both had of "a girl in her pajamas, covers pulled up over her head, flashlight lit as she reads late into the night."

Smith has more than five years of experience in children's bookstores, and was assistant book buyer and events coordinator at The World's Only Curious George Store, Cambridge, Mass., and book buyer and manager at the Reading Bug, a children's bookstore in San Carlos, Calif. Adducci has been an assistant manager at the Reading Bug for six years. The two have experience in inventory management, book ordering, customer service, general management and store organization, and say they "both still feel completely unfit for anything else."

Flashlight Books aims to hold three storytimes a week; host a variety of book clubs; partner with assisted living facilities and hospitals to start book cart programs; offer author visits and other events; have open mic nights; offer tutoring; and provide a place where creative arts can be performed, displayed and sold.

Noting that Amazon plans to open an Amazon Books books and electronics store in Walnut Creek, Flashlight Books said, "We strongly believe there will be no real overlap or conflict between our store and theirs. Amazon bookstores focus on bestsellers, as well as their tech: Kindles, etc. They also do not specialize in children's books. While we will carry popular children's books, we will also have a focus on backlist (that is, books released before the last few years), and in general our selection will be more thoughtfully curated. We also will be focused on events, community, and connecting with local schools and other institutions, which is not something Amazon Books has involved itself in."


National Science Teachers Association: When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz


Patterson to Donate $1.75 Million to School Libraries in 2017

James Patterson

James Patterson will donate another $1.75 million to school libraries this year, the third installment of his School Library Campaign. Working in partnership with Scholastic Reading Club, the 2017 program focuses on teachers: 3,500 individual recipients will receive grants of $500 to enhance and supplement their classroom libraries. The grants will be awarded on a rolling basis throughout the year. All teachers in grades pre-K through 12 in U.S. schools can apply. Patterson hopes that teachers and students will share their experiences in their communities using #pattersonpledge.

The Patterson Pledge program was launched in 2015 as part of an ongoing effort to keep books and reading a priority for children in the U.S. Scholastic Reading Club will administer funding questionnaires to its network of 800,000 teachers and will match each dollar with "Bonus Points," which can be used to acquire books and other materials. Questionnaires must be submitted by July 31 and can be found here: www.scholastic.com/pattersonpartnership. To date, the bestselling author has donated $3.5 million to school libraries.

The Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education revealed that, regardless of school poverty level, 31% of teachers have fewer than 50 books in their classroom libraries and more than half of teachers (56%) use their own money to purchase books. Most-needed types of reading materials for classroom libraries are culturally relevant titles; books published in the last 3-5 years; multiple copies of popular titles; high-interest, low-reading-level books; and magazines.

"I'm thrilled that this year's round of grants recognizes teachers, who play such a vital role in student development," said Patterson. "Many kids rely solely on their classroom bookshelves for reading material, particularly in those schools without a library. And while it's been incredible to see the overwhelming response to my school library grants over the past two years, I'm excited to expand the reach of the program, and make a positive impact on teachers who are working with students all day, every day, in every school in the country."

Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Reading Club, observed that during the past two years, Patterson's "generosity has helped to support more than 900 school libraries nationwide, and Scholastic is proud to once again be a partner in this important program with a new round of grants to create more robust classroom libraries. Teachers know the importance of having rich classroom libraries that encourage more independent reading with the books kids choose for themselves. These grants will make an enormous difference in the reading lives of kids nationwide."


DK: 100 First Words - Download Your Free Activity Kit


Politics & Prose's Lissa Muscatine to Write Book About Hillary Clinton

Lissa Muscatine

Lissa Muscatine, best-known in our world as co-owner of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., since 2011, is writing a book called Hillaryland, to be published by Penguin Press, "exploring the 25-year journey of Hillary [Clinton] and her closest advisors at the intersection of politics and gender dynamics, and detailing their story through the lens of the ongoing struggle for women's progress."

Ann Godoff, president and editor-in-chief of Penguin Press, which bought world rights to Hillaryland, commented: "Lissa Muscatine has intimately witnessed events that define who we are culturally and politically in a changing America through her close association with Hillary Clinton for the last quarter century."

During the Clinton administration, Muscatine served as a presidential speechwriter, chief speechwriter to the First Lady and, later, as Hillary Clinton's director of communications and deputy assistant to the president. During the Obama administration, she was director of speechwriting and senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She also was co-collaborator on then-Senator Clinton's White House memoir, Living History, and was a senior adviser on Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and an unofficial adviser during the 2016 campaign.

Earlier Muscatine was a journalist for 15 years, including at the Washington Post, where she was a reporter and editor on a variety of beats.

Muscatine told the Post that although her parents and her husband, Politics & Prose co-owner Bradley Graham, have all written books, this is her first and "a significant step" for her. "I promised myself long ago that I would never write a book of my own unless I had something meaningful to say."

Spurred by the "devastating" election, she added, "After years of writing in someone else's voice, I just felt absolutely compelled to write this book. I hope that by telling this story in my own words, I can offer insights into an important slice of history--a window into Hillary's world, and how that world is a mirror back on ourselves, our nation and our times."


Poisoned Pen Press: The Countess of Prague by Stephen Weeks


Amazon to Launch Retail Operations in Australia

Amazon plans to "establish the first of many fulfillment centers in Australia, in a move that's sure to disrupt the local market," the Sydney Morning Herald reported, noting that the company is actively looking for a warehouse with floor space of up to 93,000 square meters (about one million square feet). The initial facility's location has not offically been announced, though the most likely contenders are Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

In a brief statement released yesterday, the company noted that Amazon Web Services launched an Australian region in 2012, a Kindle store debuted on amazon.com.au in 2013 "and we now have almost 1,000 employees in the country. The next step is to bring a retail offering to Australia, and we are making those plans now.... We are excited to bring thousands of new jobs to Australia, millions of dollars in additional investment, and to empower small Australian businesses through Amazon Marketplace."

While no timetable has been revealed thus far, "Amazon's assault on local retailing will be on a platform of 'low prices, vast selection, and fast delivery.' The concept of one-hour delivery through Amazon Prime Now will be in Australia soon," the Morning Herald noted.

In a piece for the Age headlined "Amazon's arrival: how small businesses can compete with a retail Goliath," Chris Tantchev, co-founder of personalized book subscription service Bookabuy, wrote that "small businesses have the advantage of being able to develop a much more intimate relationship with their customers; a genuine relationship that doesn't rely on data gleaned from technology."


Soho Press: The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry - Now a major motion picture


Obituary: Johann Christoph Arnold

Johann Christoph Arnold, an "internationally known peacemaker and trusted advocate for children and family," as well as the author of "a dozen books, with over two million copies in print in more than 20 languages," died April 15. He was 76. Paul Winter, the elder of the Bruderhof, for which Arnold was a pastor for more than four decades, reported his death on the community's website.

In a tribute, Plough Publishing House editor Sam Hine wrote: "Christoph led Plough's publishing efforts in the 1960s, and we became his publisher in the 1990s when he turned to writing books to share wisdom and stories gleaned from decades of peacemaking around the globe and of pastoral service at Woodcrest, the Bruderhof community he called home for over half a century....

"Those of us privileged to work alongside Christoph will never forget how he challenged us to have more faith: to believe in redemption for the most depraved, hope for the most intractable conflicts, an end to every injustice. He taught us to speak plainly to the widest possible audience, using the power of stories to open hearts and minds--true stories of amazing people he knew and had befriended."


Notes

Image of the Day: Milkweed Books, 'Small but Mighty'

Minneapolis's Milkweed Books was named "Best Bookstore" in City Pages' Best of the Twin Cities issue. The magazine wrote: "Milkweed Books... is small, but mighty, with a curated collection featuring fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and young-adult selections from Milkweed and other small presses.... Milkweed Books is a welcome addition to a bustling, literary neighborhood." The Readers' Choice winner in the category was Magers & Quinn.

Milkweed told Shelf Awareness, "We are thrilled and grateful for the recognition, especially since we have only been open for seven months." Pictured: the entire staff of Milkweed: (l.-r.) manager Hans Weyandt; Daley Farr, bookseller and events coordinator; Celia Mattison, bookseller and warehouse manager; and Berit Freed, bookseller.


Mobile Bookstore 'Turns Heads in Baghdad'

photo: Iraqi Bookish/Facebook

Ali al-Moussawi's mobile bookstore "is the latest in a series of efforts by the 25-year-old to share his passion for reading and revive a love for books in Baghdad, which was once the literary capital of the Muslim world but is now better known for bombs than poems," the Associated Press reported. He started in 2015 with the Facebook group Iraqi Bookish, and then organized book clubs, contests, signings and writing seminars held at cultural centers and cafes.

"I adore reading," said al-Moussawi. "I have long wanted to meet people like me, so I was thinking of creating something where all readers could gather at any time, regardless of where they are."

Eventually he opened a bookstand in a Baghdad mall, offering a delivery service, and that led him to "steering a bookstore on wheels through Baghdad's snarled traffic, past its checkpoints, barbed wire and blast walls. Security forces often insist on searching his truck, fearing it contains explosives, and parking can be subject to prolonged negotiations," the AP wrote. While al-Moussawi's business brings in up to $4,000 monthly income and he has hired four paid workers, "he must swap out his offerings depending on where he goes in the city."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Peggy Orenstein on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape (Harper Paperbacks, $15.99, 9780062209740).

Tomorrow:
NPR's Weekend Edition: Kate Moore, author of The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (Sourcebooks, $26.99, 9781492649359).


Movies: The Beguiled; Wakefield

A new teaser trailer has been released for The Beguiled, which was adapted by writer/director Sofia Coppola from Thomas Cullinan's novel. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Emma Howard and Addison Riecke. After The Beguiled has its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival, Focus Features will release the film in select cities on June 23, expanding to more theaters on June 30.

---

IFC Films has released the first trailer for Wakefield, based on E.L. Doctorow's short story, IndieWire reported. The film is written and directed by Robin Swicord, who directed The Jane Austen Book Club and co-wrote Oscar-winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The cast includes Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Garner, Jason O'Mara and Beverly D'Angelo. Wakefield opens in theaters May 19.


Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International Shortlist

Finalists have been announced for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, which "celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world." Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000 (about $1,280), while the £50,000 (about $64,070) prize is divided equally between author and translator of the winning entry. This year's winner will be named June 14 in London. The shortlisted titles are:

Compass by Mathias Enard (France), translated by Charlotte Mandell (U.S.)
A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel), translated by Jessica Cohen (U.S.)
The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), translated by Don Bartlett (U.K.) and Don Shaw (U.K.)
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark), translated by Misha Hoekstra (U.S.)
Judas by Amos Oz (Israel), translated by Nicholas de Lange (U.K.)
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), translated by Megan McDowell (U.S.)


Reading with... Gayatri Patnaik

photo: Bob Kosturko

Gayatri Patnaik, previously an editor at both Palgrave Macmillan and Routledge, has been at Beacon Press nearly 15 years; her list of authors includes Cornel West, Kate Bornstein, Marcus Rediker and Mary Frances Berry. As editorial director, she acquires in U.S. history with a focus on African American history and race/ethnicity/immigration, and began Beacon's "ReVisioning American History" series. Patnaik also signs up memoirs; began Beacon's LGBTQ series "Queer Action/Queer Ideas" (edited with Michael Bronski); and developed books in "The King Legacy" with Joanna Green, a series about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Among her notable acquisitions are The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis (winner of the 2014 NAACP Image Award) and An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which was a 2015 American Book Award winner.

On your nightstand now:

Karan Mahajan's The Association of Small Bombs.
Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I had recently come to the U.S. from India and was astounded by how familiar the book felt to me. I constructed a raft in our overgrown yard by tying a few logs together with twine, stuck a garbage bag on top of a tall stick as my sail, and off I went.

Your top five authors:

Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Joyce Carol Oates, J.M. Coetzee and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Book you've faked reading:

I have to confess it was Gandhi's autobiography.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life. I found it an exceptional exploration of trauma that also packed an emotional punch. It was a visceral experience for me and, I think, many readers.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami in hardcover. More recently Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid. 

Book you hid from your parents:

The Illustrated Kama Sutra!

Book that changed your life:

When Bad Things Happen to Other People by John Portmann. This book, which explores the concept of schadenfreude, changed my life because it was the very first book I acquired and published as a young editor. I was so proud when it came out and knew then that I'd found my bailiwick.

Favorite line from a book:

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." --from Dante's The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used variations of this quote in his speeches as well.

Books you'll never part with:

I've slowly had to relinquish an entire shelf to the writers in my family; at last count there were five: my grandmother Sheela Sharma, my aunt Gita Mehta, my uncle Naveen Patnaik, my cousin Bhakti Mathur and uncle Arvind Sharma.

I'm not the most practicing of Hindus but The Bhagavad Gita and Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi will always be on my shelf. I have a sentimental attachment to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and also can't seem to part with about 15 books I read for my Master's in cultural anthropology from the New School--including Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and a number of Michel Foucault's books.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Perhaps Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels because they were absorbing and vivid and thoroughly enjoyable.

Book that came alive for you because of a teacher/professor:

My college professor Mary Bender and I read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway together in an independent study class, and I was flabbergasted when she told me that not only was it the 23rd time she was reading it, but also that each time she found new things to appreciate. Bender opened my mind and let in the light, and I'm indebted to her.

Book you loved on audio:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah. Adichie's a remarkably astute writer, and the audio, which brought the story to life evocatively, made it an unbelievably rich listen.

A book you think every American should (re-)read and discuss:

Since the election I've been thinking about Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Arendt's analysis of Eichmann was that he was actually rather pedestrian and a careerist--and that we shouldn't assume that it takes someone obviously or stereotypically evil to cause profound and lasting harm.


Book Review

Review: White Fur

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (Hogarth Press, $26 hardcover, 320p., 9780451497925, May 30, 2017)

The character descriptions in Jardine Libaire's second novel, White Fur (after Here Kitty Kitty), are so pithy and bona fide that she could have wrapped her stormy 1980s love story into a tight narrative verse. But then we would miss her talent for building the slowly intensifying, steamy relationship between two New Haven kids from divergent backgrounds. Chiseled Jamey Balthazar Hyde (third-generation heir to investment bank Hyde, Moore & Kent) lives in an off-campus townhouse, one of those princes "raised in a pod, incubated in the thick and slippery gel of legacy," whose Christmas holidays in Southampton meant "caviar and Veuve Clicquot, black velvet, giant fir trees and eggnog, Labradors with red ribbons around their necks, tangerines in stockings." Behind the townhouse, in a bare squat where "the fridge door is scaled in decals," lanky Elise Perez watches Jamey day and night. She's "a greyhound, curved to run, aerodynamic, beaten, fast as f**k, born to lose... half-white and half-Puerto Rican, childless." They meet on a beer run, and before long, the privileged Jamey and raw, risky Elise dive into an edgy, rugby scrum of a sexual relationship. This can go only two ways: one, an Elise fantasy of a forever love that her single mom, "a ghetto Mae West," never had--or two, the other way.

To her credit, Libaire doesn't let this Romeo and Juliet tale follow a predictable wrong-side-of-the-tracks lovers path. Instead, Elise carries the novel with her fresh impetuosity and fragile sensibility in the face of a world she's never tasted--nor much wants. Their relationship heats up and Jamey drops out of Yale to whisk Elise off to Manhattan's East Village. In her ever-present white fur ("knee-length rabbit coat with its vinyl belt, the Esther stitched in violet in the taffeta lining") which she got in a swap for a can of Pringles on a Greyhound bus, Elise roams the streets and bodegas with her stray dog, Buck, smoking and stopping to shoot baskets in empty courts while Jamey works an intern job at Sotheby's. Until he up and quits. Legally renouncing his inheritance, Jamey grabs a gumball ring and takes Elise to the courthouse. When the Hydes get wind of it, Jamey's stern father and grandparents Binkie and Bat bring on the power of old money to try to bust up the impassioned lovers. In their own ways, neither can escape the family and lives that made them who they are. Libaire's White Fur is a love story with raunch, obsession and heart, told with frothy originality. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Libaire's zesty second novel wraps two improbable lovers together like sticks of dynamite--and lights the fuse.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 10 Poetry Month Writing Prompts for Booksellers

We're looking for some composed and composing booksellers (and bookstore fans) as National Poetry Month enters its final stretch. After weeks of hosting poetry events and handselling collections, you may be ready for a little personal creativity. Below you'll find 10 poetry writing prompts, along with sample opening lines, to get you started. We invite you to share your creations with us.

1. Mending bookshelves: Take a poem you love and rewrite it from the perspective of a bookseller. Maybe William Carlos Williams's "The Red Wheelbarrow" (so much depends/ upon/ a red dust-/ jacket) or "This Is Just to Say" (I have borrowed/ the ARC/ that was on/ your desktop). I chose Robert Frost's "Mending Wall," as reimagined by a children's bookseller.

Something there is that doesn't love full shelves,
That tempts the children's fingers into them;
And spills so many books upon the rug;
And makes the gaps where no books can be sold.
The work of mothers is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one book by a book,
But they would have one title from hiding,
To please the yelping kids. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But after story-time we find them there...

2. This book is...: Write a poem about staff shelf talkers, using blurb clichés.

This book is
a stunning page-turner
that kept me up all night;
a lyrical, haunting
and compelling tale
that reads like a suspense novel
even as it transcends
the genre with sweeping prose
that is at once
timely and unputdownable...

3. Bookstore haiku: Compose a haiku about reading in a bookshop.

In bookshop armchair;
murmurs, novel, coffee, jazz,
then street noise... Shut up!

4. Handselling blind date: You just spent 20 minutes of fully engaged handselling with a new customer who was looking for "something good" to read. They leave empty-handed, saying, "Thanks for your help, but nothing really sounds like me, y'know?" Write a poem about handselling connections deferred or deflated.

Sometimes handselling
is like a bad blind date
that catches you by surprise.
It starts so well, the cheerful greeting
exploratory chat, shared interests,
then gives way, like thin ice,
to awkward silence, rushed parting,
maybe next times...

5. Author non-event: Write a poem about an author event that drew a sparse audience.

That terrible moment when
it's all too clear
no one else is coming.
The author shuffles his feet,
while you give the introduction
from a podium
to chairs...

6. Limerick: Create a limerick about bookstores or bookselling.

In a used bookstore called Books Just a Buck,
Locating titles took patience and luck.
In every section I delved,
Too many books were mis-shelved.
I guess the owners just don't give...

7. Confessional bookselling poem: Seems like a natural for booksellers, who must keep their emotions, even when borderline homicidal, professionally... under wraps.

They demand all their stuff
be giftwrapped so neatly,
too neatly. They watch me,
impatiently.
I pause, then focus
intensely
on the table, the tape,
the festive red paper,

the newly sharpened scissors...

8. Words found on the sales floor: Write a found poem using things you overhear from customers during the course of a single shift on the sales floor.

They sure have a lot of books here.
Where's the nonfiction?
Did you read this one? It's great!
Have you seen the birthday cards?
Can I have this, mom? No!
Can I...? No!
Read me a story, let's get lunch,
look at those comfy chairs.
You almost done here?
We have to go!
I'm coming back tomorrow.
Wish we had a store like this at home.

9. Ode to a Bookstore Cat: Write a... well, you know.

Flashing her Cheshire grin
from deep within the stacks,
our bookstore cat can read
the tone of customers' words,
the subplot of their movements,
the character of their nature,
like prey...

10. Independent Bookstore Day: Consider the poetic implications.

Not on our turf, you don't.
Indies Unite, you have nothing to lose
but the chains and Amazon do,
their customers
to you
on Indie Bookstore Day
and after, and before.
Taking it from the shelves
to the streets...

Verse up, booksellers, and anyone else who loves bookstores. We'd love to see your creations. Send your poems to rgray@shelf-awareness.com. (Disclaimer: An amazing assortment of prizes is not at stake.)

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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