Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sharjah Book Authority: Publisher's Conference

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

Candlewick Press (MA): Better Than We Found It: Conversations to Help Save the World by Frederick Joseph and Porsche Joseph

Parallax Press: How to Live: The Essential Mindfulness Journal (Mindfulness Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh, illustrated by Jason Deantonis

Shadow Mountain: Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together by Tara Teaspoon

Berkley Books: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

MIT Press: Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger


Image of the Day: Jim & Fred

On Monday, James Patterson filmed a segment for AOL's "You've Got" series in the Strand Book Store's children's department, not long after publishing two books--Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and Now You See Her--on the same day. Here is Patterson (l.) with Strand co-owner Fred Bass.

Camcat Books: Armadas in the Mist: Volume 3 (The Empire of the House of Thorns) by Christian Klaver

Notes: Borders vs. Landlords; No More B&N Suitors?

In papers filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, Borders attempted to address complaints from landlords who accuse the bankrupt chain of keeping them in the dark regarding the future of their leases. Borders "called for flexibility from the roughly 20 landlords who objected to its proposed auction plan on grounds that the plan gives insufficient notice on whether Borders' eventual buyer will be able to make lease payments," Reuters reported.

"The sale simply cannot take place in the timeframe required if there are any further delays in the schedule," Borders said, noting that terms of its bankruptcy loan require completion of the sale by July 29 to avoid default. "If the sale does not occur on a going concern basis, landlords stand to recover significantly reduced amounts."

A hearing on Borders' proposed auction procedures is scheduled for tomorrow before Judge Martin Glenn, "who questioned the schedule at a June hearing, saying it was possible the bidding procedures would not be finalized in time to accommodate objection deadlines," Reuters wrote, adding that the landlords also contended the plan "gives too little notice for objecting to the fate of leases." The current deadline for objections is tomorrow at 4 p.m., six hours after the hearing.


Barnes & Noble "likely will settle" for Liberty Media's $17 per share, $1 billion offer, which initially sent shares up after the May announcement "on the belief that a true auction was underway and other suitors would emerge," Reuters reported. A person familiar with the situation said if another bidder were going to emerge, they would have done so at this point, since it has "been a very open process for a year now." The source also suggested the possibility still exists that Liberty Media may raise its offer a bit "to get a solid endorsement from Barnes & Noble's board and to placate some shareholders," Reuters wrote.


Analyzing Amazon's call for a referendum to overturn California's new online sales tax law (Shelf Awareness, July 11, 2011), Slate's Farhad Manjoo confessed that "millions of Californians, myself included, love shopping at Amazon because it's cheap and convenient."  

But he also observed that "this isn't an argument between two equally reasonable positions. It's an argument between reason and emotion, between your brain and your gut. Amazon has no intellectually sound arguments against collecting taxes from residents--by all ethical and civic standards, its position is unsound. Instead, Amazon is counting on our emotions prevailing--on loyal, tax-savvy customers like me lashing out at our price-hiking legislators. I worry that there's a good chance Amazon--and people like me--will prevail.... The reasons for Amazon's tax battle are obvious. It's not that it can't institute a sensible tax collection regime, but that it won't, because it has no incentive to do so. Amazon's position may be indefensible, but it has a trump card. Raise your hand if you want higher prices. Yeah, that's what I thought."


The UConn Co-op plans to open a bookstore in the Storrs Center mixed-use development in the center of Mansfield, Conn., according to Mansfield Today. The new store will include a children's section and a café, host author signings and be a venue for musicians and other performers. The UConn Co-op store on campus will continue in operations.

Co-op president and CEO Bill Simpson said that the new store, billed as a "flagship anchor" store by the developer, will serve as "both a destination store at Storrs Center and an expansion of the retail service we already offer the university and the general community."


PopSugar's "Best NYC Bookstores" slide show recommended "11 places to go full summer lit bookworm" and suggested that during the summer heat wave people can "cool down the super-intellectual, old-fashioned way. Read: go to a bookstore. Soak up the AC, sip on an iced coffee, people watch, catch up on some light reading (like Kant's Critique of Pure Reason or whatever you have in that summer tote of yours), and embrace your bookworm status."


Watch the new Half Price Books location in San Antonio, Tex.--which opens tomorrow--come to life at high speed in the time-lapse video "How to Build a (New) Bookstore." GalleyCat called the video "inspiring footage for all book lovers," and the Half Price blog observed: "We are opening our 113th store on Thursday, and may we just say how grateful we are to be opening stores and not closing them (a thousand thank yous to our customers). To celebrate, we put together this fun video demonstrating all that goes into building and opening a new bookstore--a rare sight these days."


The secret bookstore. Paris Review Daily featured a video about Brazenhead Books, "a secret bookstore that's been tucked away in Michael Seidenberg's apartment on the Upper East Side ever since the rent for his original retail space in Brooklyn was quadrupled."

"This would have not been my ideal. I wouldn't have thought I want to have a bookshop in a location no one knows about," Seidenberg said, adding, "I don't know if it's my familiarity with failure. I find ways to survive without it making enough money to be what you would call a successful business. If it's all about money, there's just better things to sell."


In an essay for Time magazine, to be published next Monday, July 18, Jeff Kinney confesses that he didn't know he'd written Diary of a Wimpy Kid for kids. (He thought it was for adults who were "feeling nostalgic for their middle-school days." Hmmm.)


At this week's the Telegraph Ways with Words Festival, novelist Penelope Lively offered up some fightin' words regarding digital books: "I have an iPad but I wouldn’t dream of reading a book on it. There are two points at which I might use a Kindle: when traveling, though I don’t do much of that any more, and when in hospital, which is quite likely to arise at some point. So that could be very useful. But as a general way of reading books, no. It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd."


The Watsons, an unfinished novel manuscript by Jane Austen, will be auctioned tomorrow by Sotheby's and is expected to sell for $330,000 to $490,000. Jacket Copy noted that the novel was "begun, then abandoned, by Austen in 1804, after she'd drafted Sense and Sensibility but seven years before its publication. Austen got about one-fourth of the way through the manuscript of The Watsons before abandoning the manuscript."

Bidders and non-bidders alike can read a digitized version of the manuscript here.

---'s Amy Edelman recommended "5 best summer indie beach reads" in the Huffington Post, and asked: "[W]hat if you're tired of reading the same thing everyone else has stuffed in their design beach bags? What if you're more of a pioneer? Someone who gets a kick out of discovering something new? Where's your list of great books to read whilst you tan?"


Flavorwire's vivid and bookish imagination turned to "classic celebrity memoirs and their contemporary counterparts."


Highlighting the discrete charm of battered books, the Guardian has invited readers to contribute photos of well-loved books in their best "ripped, torn, stained with tears and coffee and beer and falling apart" condition to a new Flickr group.  


Book trailer of the day: Humiliation by Wayne Koestenbaum (Picador), which will be published August 2. The New York Observer called this series "the mother of all book trailers." (Koestenbaum will humiliate himself by doing a Book Brahmin for Shelf Awareness in several weeks.)


She Writes Press: Canaries Among Us: A Mother's Quest to Honor Her Child's Individuality in a Culture Determined to Negate It by Kayla Taylor

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Wise on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Chris Adrian, author of The Great Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 9780374166410). The show called The Great Night a "revisionists' Midsummer Night's Dream. In this interview we explore the need for enchantment and magic, in these often, dark times. Adrian, a pediatric oncologist and novelist, talks about how his need to tell and hear stories has helped him through his difficult work with children."


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: David Wise, author of Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War with China (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780547553108).


Tomorrow on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Bristol Palin, author of Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far (William Morrow, $25.99, 9780062089373).

CamCat Publishing: The Darker the Skies (Earth United) by Bryan Prosek

Movie Trailer: The Adventures of Tintin

The Hollywood Reporter featured a newly released trailer for Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which will be released December 23. The movie "looks like a swashbuckling, globe-trotting, planes-trains-and-automobiles-packed adventure yarn that aims for the same kind of all-ages thrills provided by Spielberg movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark. The performance capture animation (done by producer Peter Jackson's WETA digital) is bright and graphic--a far cry from the gauzy, uncanny-valley-approaching style of something like 2004's The Polar Express," THR noted. 


Barefoot Books: Save 10%

HP7.5 Countdown: Rowling 'Writing Hard'; Aussie Release

Rowling at work. The Guardian reported that J.K. Rowling was quite open about her work in progress during this week's New York City premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow, Part 2. She told MTV News that she is "writing, and I've done quite a lot since finishing Harry Potter." She offered more details to BBC News: "I think I always felt I didn't want to publish again until the last film was out because Potter has been such a huge thing in my life. I've been writing hard ever since I finished writing Hallows, so I've got a lot of stuff and I suppose it's a question of deciding which one comes out first. But I will publish again. In a sense it's a beginning for me as well as an end."


Devoted fans are preparing for their post-Potter lives. "I have grown up in the Harry Potter generation, it's a limbo state after this," 18-year-old Rhyss Bowen Jones told the Guardian. "We've grown up in the Harry Potter generation--I read the first book when I was five so now it's weird that it's coming to an end, like the end of childhood."


Yesterday was the official Australian release date for HP7.5. The Hollywood Reporter noted that distributor Roadshow Films said the movie "will have the widest opening of any film ever in Australia at 748 screens," 138 more than Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.


PopSugar offered "6 ways to get into the wizarding spirit," noting that "for a lot of us wannabe wizards, these fanciful movies and the recognizable trio to go with have been in our periphery for more than 10 years. Despite any hangups you may have about the world of wizardry, I think a decade of Harry Potter is deserving of a butter beer toast and six New York-ified ways to celebrate all things awesomely magical. You're never too old to get a little silly."


If the Harry Potter film series ever becomes part of the distinguished Criterion Collection, the DVD boxes might look something like this.


A Hindustan Times blog post headlined "Harry Potter and India’s deathly shallows" used the release of HP7.5 to take the country to task for what the writer perceived as a national creative deficit: "Harry Potter’s phenomenal global success points to the importance of nurturing, developing and financing original content in the creative industries--something we have singularly failed to do in India. Actually this gap goes well beyond the creative industries. Outside of music and film, in science and technology too we get by simply by copying what others do."


Buzzfeed showcased the Harry Potter Maize Maze created by farmer Top Pearsy, who paid homage "to the wizard by carving Harry's face (twice!) into his corn fields."


Candlewick Press (MA): The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman

Books & Authors

Awards: Frank O'Connor Shortlist; COVR Visionary Winners

Finalists have been named for the €35,000 (US$48,930) Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the world's richest prize for a short story collection. The winner will be honored September 18 during the Cork International Short Story Festival. This year's shortlist includes:

Gold Boy by Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod
Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien
Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca
The Empty Family by Colm Tóibín
Marry or Burn by Valerie Trueblood


The 14th annual Visionary Awards, sponsored by the Coalition of Visionary Resources and honoring various New Age/metaphysical products and services, were celebrated last month at the International New Age Trade Show. Winners included:

Book of the Year: DailyOM: Learning to Live by Madisyn Taylor (Hay House)

Retailer of the Year: Kim Perkins and Lea Semple, Elysian Fields, Books & Gifts for Conscious Living, Sarasota, Fla.

For other winners, go to COVR's website.

GBO Picks Ruby Red

The German Book Office as picked Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier as its July book of the month. Ruby Red was translated by Anthea Bell and published May 1 by Holt Books for Young Readers.

GBO described the YA book, in part, this way: "When we meet 16-year-old Gwen, she is living with her extended--and eccentric--family in a present day, exclusive London neighborhood. She's had a relatively normal life so far, in spite of her ancestors' peculiar past. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped Gwen. So it comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden leaps into the past. Gwen is totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century."

Ruby Red, the first of a trilogy, has "the perfect combination of romance, intrigue, time travel, and humor."

The German Book Office and the Goethe Institut are hosting a cocktail party for Kerstin Gier to celebrate her U.S. debut. (Ruby Red is a bestseller in Europe.) Open to the public, the party will be held Monday, July 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at 72 Spring St., 11th floor, in New York City. RSVP to Elizabeth Kerins at

In addition, fans can win a copy of the book on the GBO's Facebook page.

Book Brahmin: Doug Edwards

Doug Edwards, the author of I'm Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 12, 2011), was the director of consumer marketing and brand management at Google from 1999 to 2005. He was responsible for setting the tone and direction of the company's communication with its users. Before he joined Google, Edwards was online brand group manager for the San Jose Mercury News. Edwards will be donating his share of the profits from the book to local food banks.


On your nightstand now:

American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips has been gathering dust, bookmarked at page 49, for several months. My wife is reading The Formation of Muscovy 1304-1613 by Robert O. Crummey, and I felt the need to balance her weighty tome with one addressing an equally serious subject. Meanwhile I've been hiding Dark Star by Alan Furst under the covers and reading it by flashlight.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was irresistibly drawn to McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss. The idea that all the world's wonders could be accessed from one's own backyard enthralled me and, I believe, predisposed me to sympathetically embrace the Internet when I first encountered it in 1993. I envisioned accessing all the world's knowledge as easily as Marco caught exotic Eskimo fish.

Your top five authors:

If you dropped me on a desert island, I'd probably pick the Riverside Shakespeare, the collected Dashiell Hammett, the unabridged works of Mark Twain, the Martin Cruz Smith Arkady Renko anthology and Crime and Punishment for sentimental reasons (I named my epileptic dog Raskolnikov, but we called him Rascal for short).

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce. The irony of an English major who has read War and Peace but not Joyce and being married to a Ph.D. in Russian History who has read Ulysses but not War and Peace never ceases to amuse me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser. If I had known about this book earlier in my life, I would have required everyone who communicated with me via the written word to read it before sending me as much as an e-mail or an overdue library book notice.

Book you've bought for the cover:

John Hodgman, The Areas of My Expertise. How could you not once you started reading the brilliant copy on the cover that continues as the text of the book itself?

Book that changed your life:

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Until I read Eliot's poem in high school, I had no idea that poetry could be as compelling as prose. It opened a new world for me. 

Favorite line from a book:

"I am haunted by waters." --from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. It's the perfect coda. You feel the whole story settle into place with that final line, as if he has quietly and methodically tucked in the edges of a blanket carefully laid upon a sleeping child.

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

Shane by Jack Schaefer. I read it when I was 12 and still remember how I whipped through the pages to find out how it would end. I've enjoyed better books since then, filled with suspense and passion and complex human emotions, but reading that story was like losing my virginity. It was fast and furious and left me struggling for breath. I surrendered to the narrative and let it have its way with me.

Book you selflessly read so that no one else will ever have to read it again:

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. I read all of it. All 1,248 pages of Elizabethan court poesy. I'm warning you, don't wade in there. It will curdle your brain and suffocate you in an airless world of affectation and adjectives. The Tale of Genji's not much better, but at least my face wasn't numb when I finished it.


Book Review

Children's Review: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier (Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 hardcover, ages 10-up, 9781419700255, August 2011)

Anything can happen in debut author Jonathan Auxier's fantastical world. Even kids who read widely and suspect from the beginning that blind, orphaned Peter Nimble is destined for great things will be caught up in the suspenseful doings and surprise twists. And this book may well convert those who don't consider themselves readers.

The 10-year-old hero, discovered as a baby bobbing in a basket by some drunken sailors, and named by some magistrates "after a misremembered nursery rhyme," overcomes many challenges--including blindness and abject poverty--to earn the title "the greatest thief who ever lived" by story's end. And what a story it is! An omniscient narrator who can perceive things that Peter cannot adopts a wry tone (by way of explaining Peter's talents, he says, "There is an old saying about how easy it is to 'take candy from a baby.' This saying is utterly false"). Auxier's captivating narrator remains mindful of Peter's handicap while extolling the virtues of the hero's highly attuned remaining four senses. He paints Peter as a boy who must steal in order to survive, but who also possesses a heart of gold.

The turning point for Peter occurs when he meets a haberdasher who can read his mind, and who plants a box with an impossibly difficult series of locks to protect the "fantastic eyes" of the title--knowing full well that Peter can't resist a challenge. Each pair of eyes possesses a magical trait that leads to a series of farflung adventures, including a chance meeting with Sir Tode, a human-kitten-horse hybrid under a hag's spell, a desert full of thieves, a vanished kingdom, a giant dogfish named Good Ol' Frederick who helps defeat a school of sea serpents, ravens that could be good or evil, and talking apes on a Night Patrol that chain up children as slaves--among them a princess. To Auxier's credit, he ties all of these together--they don't feel extraneous or (too) over-the top. Amid the humor and battle scenes, he also raises some searching questions, such as whether modern reason has overridden the ancient need for magic, and what qualities define a true hero.

The narrator lets readers in on enough clues to put some pieces together before Peter and Sir Tode click all the facts into place. Kids will love being on the inside track and watching how the action unfolds. But most of all, they will root for this reluctant hero and hope for his return. --Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas during the week ended Sunday, July 10:

1. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
4. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
5. Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
6. The Greater Journey by David McCullough
7. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
8. Bossypants by Tina Fey
9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Book Cellar, Lincoln Square: Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Book Table, Oak Park: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Books & Co., Oconomowoc: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee: Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw
57th St. Books, Chicago
Lake Forest Books: French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Next Chapter, Mequon
Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock
Seminary Co-op
Women and Children First, Chicago: The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

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