Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith


Notes: Bodhi Tree to Close

Sad news: The Bodhi Tree, West Hollywood, Calif., the best-known spiritual and metaphysical bookstore in the country, will close in a year, according to the L.A. Weekly.

In part, the move is a real estate deal: Phil Thompson and Stan Madson, who founded the the Bodhi Tree in 1970 after leaving their careers as aerospace engineers, are selling the building to a real estate owner who leases space to other retailers in the area. Noting that property values on Melrose Avenue, where the store is located, have risen dramatically over the years and that "real estate agents have been circling the Bodhi Tree like vultures," L.A. Weekly wrote: "In the end, selling the property became a much more profitable option than continuing to sell books."

After a long period of growth, in recent years the store had to adjust to a new age: "Twenty years ago we felt like it was an expanding situation," Madson told the paper. "We were concerned the store was getting too big. We had a staff of 100. Publishing was expanding. Spirituality was expanding. But what changed was that the market became widely dispersed." Like feminist and gay and lesbian bookstores, for example, the titles the store stocked that were largely unavailable elsewhere became easily available at mainstream indie and chain stores and then online.

We were lucky enough to see the store again a year and a half ago and will miss the crowded narrow aisles with nook after nook full of interesting books and related products, the trademarked creaky floors, the homemade, solid bookcases--all making for a fine mix of earthy and ethereal.


Cool translation idea of the day: Idlewild Books, New York, N.Y., will host two events in conjunction with Three Percent's Best Translated Book Award. On February 16 at 7 p.m., the fiction shortlist will be announced and a panel discussion held. The winner will be named during a reception at Idlewild on March 10 at 7 p.m.

The Best Translated Book Award 25-title fiction longlist was released last week (Shelf Awareness, January 8, 2010). Three Percent is featuring one of these books each day on its website. Idlewild is showcasing all 25 books in a special display section and offering a 20% discount.


The Morning News's sixth annual Tournament of Books, modeled on the NCAA's March Madness, has lined up its panel of judges and 16 novels, including a graphic novel and short story collection. The literary games begin March 9.


"Why were there no book publishers at CES?" asked author Jason Pinter in a Huffington Post article chronicling his trip to last weekend's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"Authors seem to always be on the cutting edge of technology," he wrote. "They're the ones who convinced publishers that blogs could help promote books. They're the ones who got onto Twitter and Facebook and cultivated and enhanced readerships. Publishers followed suit, of course, but it was always after enough people said, 'Why aren't you doing this?' For once, I would like to see publishing be the vanguard. I would love to see a few booths out west, stocked with publisher representatives and a cadre of authors with fresh ideas and wonderful content and new perspectives."


One of our favorite works of literature has fallen--or risen. The next Quirk Classic, appearing in June, is Android Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters!


Very sad news: Bob Simoneaux, co-owner of Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, Pa., died Monday night after a long illness. We'll have more information about a service in the near future.

Three decades ago, Simoneaux and his wife, Kathy, worked in New York City--he as a sales manager for a publisher, she as a B&N buyer--when they decided to move and buy a bookstore, more at Bob's behest than hers. In 1982, they bought Margaret Alburn Bookseller, which became Chester County Book Company (music was added later).


Legendary literary agent and book editor Knox Burger died January 4 at age 87. The New York Times has an extensive obituary of the man it called "a fierce advocate of writers and writing who didn't suffer pretenders gladly" and "one of the book industry's notoriously crusty personages"--quite a distinction in this biz.


Effective immediately with new releases in February, books by Joy Berry, the child development expert who has written some 250 titles and sold more than 85 million copies of them, will be sold and distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Perseus Distribution.

The books will be available as a branded line and are offered by Joy Berry Enterprises.

Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar

Stone Bridge Press Founder Buys Stone Bridge Press

In the coming full circle department, Stone Bridge Press founder Peter Goodman, who sold the company to Yohan, the Japanese book distributor, in 2005, has bought the company back from its current owner, IBC Publishing of Tokyo, once a division of Yohan.

Goodman, who started Stone Bridge, North Berkeley, Calif., in 1989, has remained an executive at the house, which publishes books with an Asian, mainly Japanese focus. He continues as publisher and editor-in-chief, and the house continues to be distributed by Consortium.

Goodman bought his baby back, he said in a statement, because "money that had been planned for Stone Bridge operations instead got diverted to Cody's Books," the landmark Bay Area bookstore that Yohan bought in 2006 and closed in 2008. The shift left Stone Bridge "with a shortfall just when it was expanding production to grow.

"I was concerned about the company's future," he continued. "These authors are like family; many are my friends; their books are of great value to them personally and to the people who depend on them for information and entertainment. In the end, the best strategy was for me to step in and resume ownership."

Goodman plans to expand into fiction and inspirational writing and beyond Japan and Asia. "A lot of the sensibilities and creative possibilities that drew me to Japan 30 years ago are now visible throughout world cultures," Goodman said. "It's a good time for exploring and stretching concepts of art and taste."

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Soup de Jour

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Gregg Easterbrook, author of Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed (Random House, $26, 9781400063956/1400063957).


Today on Fresh Air: John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (Harper, $27.99, 9780061733635/0061733636).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Stephanie McClellan and Beth Hamilton, authors of So Stressed: The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women (Free Press, $26, 9781416593584/1416593586).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show, demonstrating a pasta e fagioli soup (yum): Giuliano Hazan, author of Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $27.50, 9781584798071/1584798076).


Tomorrow on NPR's Where We Live: Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes (Simon & Schuster, $15, 9781416575658/1416575650).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Jim Wallis, author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (Howard Books, $24, 9781439183120/1439183120).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Tracy Chevalier, author of Remarkable Creatures (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525951452/0525951458).


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Finalists; Cartier Diamond Dagger

The three finalists for the sixth annual Story Prize, honoring books of short fiction, are:

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Norton)
Drift by Victoria Patterson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

The books are all debut collections. This year's judges are writer A.M. Homes, journalist/blogger Carolyn Kellogg and librarian Bill Kelly.

The Story Prize will be presented at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in New York City at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3. At the event, the finalists will read selections from their work, after which Story Prize director Larry Dark will interview each writer on-stage. At the end of the event, Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey will announce the winner and present that author with $20,000 and an engraved silver bowl. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.


Val McDermid has won the Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger award for outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing. The Guardian reported that this recent honor "tops off a year in which the Scottish-born author of 27 novels was inducted into the crime-writers' Hall of Fame and elected to an honorary fellowship at St Hilda's College, Oxford."

"I'm thrilled and proud but also a bit gobsmacked," said McDermid. "The Diamond Dagger is the jewel in the crown for any crime writer, and this makes me a member of a pretty stellar club. But I still think of myself as a young Turk, and it's hard not to see this honour as placing me firmly in the Establishment. I guess I'll just have to regard it as something to defy as well as to embrace!"


Children's Book Review: An Unspeakable Crime

An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank by Elaine Marie Alphin (Carolrhoda/Lerner, $22.95, 9780822589440/0822589443, 152 pp., ages 14-up, March 2010)

On April 26, 1913, Confederate Memorial Day, 13-year-old Mary Phagan is murdered in the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Ga., after picking up her paycheck. The accusations fly. First, the police arrest the company's African-American night watchman, Newt Lee. Next, they arraign the Brooklyn-raised Jewish superintendent of the company, Leo Frank. Detectives also question African-American janitor Jim Conley, but Leo Frank is ultimately charged with murder (questions of sexual violation are also raised, making this book more appropriate for older teens). Author Elaine Marie Alphin, who won an Edgar Award for her novel Counterfeit Son, unravels the details surrounding Mary Phagan's death and its aftermath like a mystery. She describes the mood in the South, the Southerners' resentment toward the Northern industrialists, and the feeling that "while Atlanta's sizable Jewish population was respected, they were still in the minority, and they were considered 'different.' " The appeal to teen readers will be not only the mystery element but also that so many teens worked at the factory, knew Mary Phagan and offered evidence in the case.

Add into the mix the politically ambitious Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey (Atlanta's prosecutor), former presidential candidate Tom Watson (who also owned a magazine) and the media extravaganza that erupted around the murder, and the chance for a fair trial became ever smaller. The one powerful man of conscience in the state turns out to be Georgia's governor, John Slaton. Alphin draws from a wealth of primary source material--personal letters, archival photos, newspaper accounts and Hugh Dorsey's published "Argument... at the Trial of Leo M. Frank." The original trial transcript "mysteriously disappeared from the courthouse," Alphin writes in an author's note. She weighs these details like an impartial judge, though there's a great deal here that will inspire teens to passionate debate about the judicial system, individual rights and what "a fair trial" might look like--because Leo Frank's hearing certainly touches on all of those issues. Alphin's account continues to build suspense about whether Frank will receive a fair hearing, especially considering the emotional and financial support he attracted from outside of Georgia. Because this tale is structured like a mystery, our review won't give away the ending (even if you know the outcome, this is riveting reading)--but suffice it to say that the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan and the founding of the Anti-Defamation League directly resulted from the prosecution of Leo Frank and its aftermath, and details of the case continued to come to light into the 1980s. Alphin used the Leo Frank case as a catalyst for the hero to take action in her novel The Perfect Shot (Carolrhoda/Lerner, 2005), but says she "couldn't forget about Leo Frank." Anyone who reads this book will also be haunted by him and by the suggestion that a fair trial may just require that every honest citizen come forward with the facts.--Jennifer M. Brown


Book Brahmin: Jeffrey Siger

Jeffrey Siger was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa. He practiced law at a Wall Street law firm and, while there, served as special counsel to the citizen's group responsible for reporting on New York City's prison conditions. He left for his own New York City law firm, until he gave it all up to write full time on Mykonos in Greece, his adopted home of 25 years.

His debut novel,
A Murder in Mykonos, was the bestselling English-language book in Greece, and the sequel, Assassins of Athens, published by Poisoned Pen Press this month, is already among the top 10 bestsellers in Greece.

On your nightstand now:

I'm embarrassed. It will ruin my image. I live on a 24/7 Greek party island, which means I should be reading People, Hello or, at most, a steamy bodice-ripper. But I promised to be truthful: Euripides's Alcestis, Medea, The Children of Heracles and Hippolytus; Aeschylus's The Orestia; Nikos Katzentzakis's The Fratricides; and Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. But wait, I have my reasons. I write murder mysteries exploring modern Greek society that touch upon Greece's ancient roots and archetypes. Who better to learn from than playwrights expressing in real time what pleased their contemporary audiences? Now they're helping me welcome Medea, Clytemnestra and Electra to the 21st century in a book I'm about to begin. Katzantzakis, too, is research, for his writings led to his excommunication and so he shows me just how far is too far when involving the church. As for Diaz's gem, finding a Pulitzer Prize winner in English (at least mostly) in my local island bookstore was like finding Playboy in a bottle on a desert island. Which reminds me, there's probably one of those around here, too, somewhere under the nightstand.
Favorite book when you were a child:
After describing my nightstand reading, would you believe me if I said the Bible? Me neither. It was Huckleberry Finn. What choice did I have? I grew up in Pittsburgh, where begins the mighty Ohio River.
Your top five authors:
That's like being asked for my five favorite island bars. Guaranteed to make enemies of all the others. So, I'll hedge. My favorite authors are basically of the playwright sort. I'm hooked on great dialogue and thin things that fit in back pockets: Cormac McCarthy (just re-read The Sunset Limited), John Steinbeck (only a rare play, but fits the thin requirement), August Wilson (his pacing and people are perfect and, besides, we Pittsburghers must stick together), Samuel Beckett (his photo hangs in the only Irish bar on Mykonos, so how could I face him if I didn't include him) and J.M. Coetzee (his prose reads like plays to me).
Book you've faked reading:
I'm still doing it. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I must have bought a half dozen copies in my life. First to impress that I was literate, then to impress that I was cool, and once actually to read it. Even had a friend named John Ga(u)lt. My last effort was at an airport bookstore facing a nine-hour plane ride, but when I left the plane, I left the book. I took that as a sign it's not meant to be.
Book you're an evangelist for:
In my other life I dealt with people facing deep, personal crises. I was amazed at how so many, from the most literate to the virtually never-touched-a-book sort, found comfort in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. Never quite understood why, any more than why aspirin cures a headache, but it does and so I suggest it when the need appears.
Book you've bought for the cover:
All I remember about it was wondering how did she ever get her legs in that position. No, it wasn't that kind of a book. Or maybe it was. Don't know, I never read it, just stared at the cover, unopened through puberty. Then one day it disappeared. I think my younger brother took it.
Book that changed your life:
The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes. I'd hurt my back and was laid up for two months (I'm all better, thank you) and decided to read Victorian prose that came in relatively manageable chunks. Somehow I'd avoided mysteries until then. As the days of reading wore on into weeks, I found myself thinking like Holmes and solving the mysteries along with him. His introduction to the genre is why I write what I do. Thank you, A.C.D.
Favorite line from a book:
I keep forgetting them, but my current favorite is:
"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."--Mark Twain in The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West. It's like a much too rich chocolate cake that you can't eat in one sitting. But you be the Judge.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, January 10:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
3. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
5. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Drive by Daniel Pink
3. Open by Andre Agassi
4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
5. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Paperback Fiction

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
2. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
3. Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vaccariello
4. Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
5. How to Take Over Teh Wurld by Professor Happycat


1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
2. Alex Rider Series #8: Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz
3. Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
5. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the reporting booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

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