Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


Cool Idea of the Day: Daily Poetry Videos

To celebrate National Poetry Month, DIESEL, whose stores are in Oakland, Malibu and Brentwood, Calif., has made 30 videos of booksellers from the three stores reading poems. During April, the videos are being released daily, one per day, on the store's blog and on the National Poetry Month page of its website. The videos in color have been released; the ones in black and white have yet to appear.


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Notes: General Retail Sales Growing

Sales in March at major retailers' stores open at least a year are expected to be up 6.3% when reported tomorrow, according to the Wall Street Journal, "bolstering hopes that consumers are poised to join the economic recovery." Part of the gain is attributed to Easter falling in March rather than April, as it did a year ago.

The paper continued: "The positive indications flow across the board, from discounters to department stores, fueled by Easter spending, some pent-up demand, warmer weather and easier comparisons to soft year-ago figures, when same-store sales fell 5%."

Yesterday the International Council of Shopping Centers raised its sales estimate for March to a gain of 8%-10%, up from 3%-3.5%


The Boston Globe praised the "three AAA-rated independent bookstores left in our reading area": Harvard Book Store, Cambridge; New England Mobile Book Fair, Newton; and Brookline Booksmith, Brookline. The paper added, "Apologies to the excellent Porter Square Books, but five years in business is a whisper on the Buddha's eyelash compared to the track record of your three venerable competitors."

Among the points:

As noted here, Marshall Smith wants to sell Wellesley Booksmith and will eventually sell Brookline Booksmith.

Jeff Mayersohn, who with his wife, Linda Seamonson, bought Harvard Book Store two years ago, said, "Sales are down but not catastrophically. I think there is money to be made in the book business. People are spending a lot of time talking about books, and that can't be all that bad."

Sales at Porter Square Books have leveled off after the early days of double-digit growth but, "It's possible to be profitable and not grow sales," manager Dale Szczeblowski said. "There is definitely an opportunity."


The Alphabet Garden children's bookstore, Cheshire, Conn., has moved to South Main Street, where the store will have "more space and visibility," owner Karlene Rearick told the Meriden Record-Journal. The store had been in the Watch Factory Shoppes for four and a half years.


In a video of three "Retail Stars" from around the world whose "concepts [are] getting it right," included 192 Books in Chelsea in New York City (starting at about 3:20). The store, founded by Holt editor Jack Macrae and his wife, gallery owner Paula Cooper, specializes in new, used and rare art books, literature, children's titles and more, exhibits art and has an extensive reading program.

Patrick Knisley told Monocle: "We're very small and so we can't stock everything. And so we think of our collection as a little curated. So the philosophy is that we want you to be surprised with what you find here, and it happens often."


What's the difference between a children's bookstore and a babysitting service? Some New Zealand booksellers are trying to figure that one out. The Herald reported that Children's Bookshop, Christchurch, "is working with security staff of a nearby tavern and casino over the growing problem of parents leaving children to read while they gamble."

"If a child becomes distressed we will find out where the parent is and return the child to them," said Mary Sangster, the bookshop's office manager. "We work with security people where kids have been left in the shop. We will do our utmost for it not to happen because we are not a baby-sitting service."


At the annual White House Easter Egg Roll Monday, special guest J.K. Rowling read to a small group of kids and said that while "she doesn't plan to write any offshoots of the Potter series, she didn't rule it out 'maybe 10 years from now,' depending on how she feels. But she told one child she does want to write more books," the Washington Post reported.


Obituary note: William Mayne, called by the Guardian "one of the most highly regarded writers of the postwar 'golden age' of children's literature," died March 24. He was 82.


Book trailer of the day: Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind by Binnie Klein (SUNY Press).


Effective April 26, Jeanne Emanuel joins Perseus Books Group as v-p of special and gift sales, a new position. She will be based in the Cambridge, Mass., office.

Most recently she was v-p of sales for Candlewick Press; earlier she was executive director of sales for Adams Media and director of business development and director of sales and marketing for the gift trade at Workman Publishing.

In a statement, president and CEO David Steinberger commented: "We are always looking to invest in new ways to grow sales for our in-house and client publishers, both in physical and digital formats, and we see the specialty and gift channels as a significant growth area."


Effective with the fall list, Bright Sky Press will be distributed in North America by BookMasters Distribution Services.

Bright Sky, Houston, Tex., publishes a range of titles that include classic Texana, regional gardening, history, humor, ranching, social media, body/mind/spirit and children's fiction and nonfiction. The press has a backlist of about 100 and will release 10 titles this fall.


GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Union Pacific

Today on Fresh Air: Frank Meeink, author of Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead (Hawthorne Books, $15.95, 9780979018824/097901882X).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: twin sisters Tracy Raver and Kelley Ryden, photographers whose gift book, Sleeping Beauties: Newborns in Dreamland (Sellers Publishing, $29.95, 9781416205777/1416205772), is the first of a line of books, cards and calendars featuring their portraits of newborns.


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Adam Haslett, author of Union Atlantic (Nan A. Talese, $26, 9780385524476/0385524471). As the show put it: "While Adam Haslett's new novel tracks the underground movements of big money and global management, he still has his novelist's eye on the intimacies, even the perversities, of eccentric individuals. How does a novelist balance the macro and the micro?"


Tomorrow on the View: Lisa Oz, author of Us: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most (Free Press, $26, 9781439123928/1439123926).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: David Frum, author of Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again (Broadway, $15.99, 9780767920322/0767920325).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: New Yorker editor David Remnick, author of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama (Knopf, $29.95, 9781400043606/1400043603).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet (Norton, $15.95, 9780393337327/0393337324).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Stuart Neville, author of The Ghosts of Belfast (Soho Crime, $25, 9781569476000/1569476004).


Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Movies: Dark Life; The Heights

Disney and ImageMovers will partner with the Gotham Group to adapt upcoming young adult novel Dark Life by Kat Falls. Robert Zemeckis will direct. Variety noted that the project "fits in well with Disney's new mandate to create family friendly fare that can be exploited across the company's various platforms and spawn sequels."

Gotham Group won the rights to the book--which will be published by Scholastic in May--earlier this year "after making a preemptive bid to buy the manuscript.... Two books had initially been planned, but could now expand to more installments."


Focus Features acquired the film rights to The Heights by Peter Hedges, who will adapt, direct and produce, Variety reported. The novel is his first book in more than a decade. Hedges also adapted his debut novel, What's Eating Gilbert Grape


Books & Authors

Shelf Sample: The Atlantic Tunnel

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we are choosing poems from some recent collections. This one is from The Atlantic Tunnel: Selected Poems by Paul Farley (Faber and Faber, $25, 9780865479173/0865479178, May 11, 2010).

For the House Sparrow,
In Decline

Your numbers fall and it's tempting to think
you're deserting our suburbs and estates
like your cousins at Pompeii; that when you return
to bathe in dust and build your nests again
in a roofless world where no one hears your cheeps,
only a starling's modern mimicry
will remind you of how you once supplied
the incidental music of our lies.

--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Book Brahmin: Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is the author of Traveling Mercies, Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, as well as six novels, including Crooked Little Heart and Rosie. Her latest novel, Imperfect Birds, is an April 2010 publication from Riverhead. Her column at was named Best of the Web by Newsweek. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lamott lives in northern California.

On your nightstand now:

There is an overweight cat on my nightstand with her head immersed in my glass of water. Also, The Women by T.C. Boyle, who is, for my money, one of America's pure, great storytellers. Also, a book of daily readings by Philip Yancey called Grace Notes. He is my favorite Christian writer--so human and regular and wise and sweet and funny--and has hair just like me, which only eight other people in the world do. (Art Garfunkel is another.)
Favorite book when you were a child:

The Pippi Longstocking books gave me life and hope. What a marvelous creation, this wild independent girl in her one brown sock and one black sock, the horse on her front porch and her monkey, Mr. Nilsson. She was my introduction to feminism, to women and girls being strong and great. Also, all the Encyclopedia Browns--oh my god, each new book was heaven when I was a girl.

Your top five authors:

Charles Portis. My dad, Kenneth Lamott. e.e. cummings. George Eliot. Jane Austen.
Book you've faked reading:

There are way too many to mention. I've never read War and Peace, but nod knowingly when others are talking about the huge impact it had on them in college. Same with The Mill on the Floss, which I pretend to have read, although once I referred to it in fancy company as "The Floss on the Mill," which made it seem more dental. I've never read a whole Pynchon book but please for the love of god, don't tell anyone. Have never read A.S. Byatt, because she was rude to me once on a live radio show on which we were both appearing, yet I still pretend to have read Possession and Angels and Insects, which I can discuss passionately and in depth, having seen the movies, which I insist to listeners are not nearly as good as the books (which I haven't read.)
Book you're an evangelist for:

Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller, which is an astonishing memoir on Christianity without the religion--and it is brilliant, funny, wonderful, everything we love in books. It also makes me less embarrassed to love Jesus, since Don Miller does, too, and he is totally cool. Also, What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen, a memoir about a woman in her mid-40s who is diagnosed as being six months pregnant, having been told her whole life she was infertile--and it is absolutely marvelously funny and painful and wonderful. I just read it last month but have gotten six other women to read it, too.
Book you've bought for the cover:

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America by Robert Hughes. The cover is a photograph of "The Lightning Field in New Mexico," with the 400 stainless steel rods, and the cover is a beautiful desert image, but I actually bought it so I could leave it around and people would think I am much more esoteric and erudite than I am in real life; i.e., that I am capable of reading and tracking this book. Let alone picking it up.
Book that changed your life:

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell, Wallflower at the Orgy and Crazy Salad by Norah Ephron, Speedboat by Renata Adler. I know the correct answer is The Brothers Karamazov, Moby-Dick or War and Peace, but these four books showed me new forms--short, witty, self-contained, but part of something whole and big. Speedboat and the Ephron collections were inspiringly hilariously and helped me figure out what it might mean to be a woman. Evan Connell was a friend of my father's and the first man I wanted to marry. Mrs. Bridge was great literature, done in short and devastating miniatures. Laurie Colwin's book Happy All the Time gave me something as a young writer than I cannot quite put into words--the pure joy in reading something so human and sweet and unpretentious and unbelievably funny.

Favorite line from a book:

"The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."--Song of Solomon
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

My father wrote a great book called Anti-California: A Report from our First Para-Fascist State, about the years when Ronald Reagan was our disastrous governor. I was a teenager when it came out and I remember when the first copy arrived at our house and opening it up, so proud of my father's progressive politics and his elegant writing. If I could open that up again for the first time, it would mean he was still alive.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Dreamer

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic Press, $17.99 Hardcover, 9780439269704, April 2010)

The childhood of a Chilean poet may seem like an unlikely subject for a children's book, but not in Ryan's (Esperanza Rising, When Marian Sang) capable hands. This spare, lyrical story of young Neftalí Reyes will be salve on the emotional wounds of any child who feels misunderstood by his parents, thinks differently than everyone in his town or feels alone in his compassion for the persecuted. Adults will recognize who the poet Neftalí grew up to be, but for young readers, Ryan explains the necessity of the poet's adoption of the name Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)--even as a teenager, he was in grave danger for expressing in his poetry his disagreements with the government and his support of the Mapuche Indians (the indigenous people of Araucania), who were being run off of their land.

From a young age, Neftalí hears the music in the rain ("plip-plip/ plop / bloop, bloop, bloop..."), smells the peppery scent of tiny blossoms in the spring air, and sees in the scales of a pine cone "a carousel of iridescent wings." His father calls him "absentminded," but to Neftalí that makes no sense: "How could he be absentminded when his head was so crowded with thoughts?" The patriarch, "a railroader," uses his whistle to alert his family when he's home and to call them to dinner. He shuns his older son Rodolfo's beautiful singing voice and wants Neftalí to be a doctor or dentist ("Do you want to be a skinny weakling forever and amount to nothing?" Father asks Neftalí). Luckily, Mamadre, Neftalí's stepmother (the boy's mother died two months after his birth), is gentle and kind when their father is on his trips, and he is also close to Rodolfo and Laurita, his younger sister. Ryan's judicious use of events from the hero's childhood charts his development into the thoughtful, upstanding person he would become: a toy sheep given to Neftalí anonymously through a hole in the boy's fence (Neftalí tries to find the giver but never does); a fleeting friendship with a Mapuche on a riverboat; his devotion to a swan near the summer house where he and his family stay; the act of arson that destroys the office of his beloved Uncle Orlando's newspaper, La Mañana.

Ryan also pens original poetry that evokes the work of Neruda (a small sampling appears at the back of the book). Neftalí, about to go with their father on a much-anticipated train trip to the forest, receives from Rodolfo some cautionary advice. In a nod to Neruda's The Book of Questions, Ryan follows the warning with a poem: "Which is sharper? The hatchet that cuts down dreams? Or the scythe that clears a path for another?" Only much later in the book does the meaning of the poem take on its full impact. Sís, master of the symbolic, makes an ideal match for Ryan's narrative, opening each chapter with a triptych of images, and transforming real objects that take on mythic significance to the young poet. Together Ryan and Sís convey the power of poetry--and art--to lift the human spirit, no matter how much others may attempt to confine it.--Jennifer M. Brown

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