Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 19, 2011

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron


Where There's Smoke, There's Campfire

The New York Times today offered a recap of DC Comics' deal to have hundreds of graphic novels appear exclusively on Amazon's new Fire and the resulting decision by Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million to pull the printed versions of those titles from their stores. In the Code of E-Silence Department, two points in the article stuck out for us:

  • DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee wouldn't discuss when the titles at issue might be available on other e-readers, "citing the company's nondisclosure agreement with Amazon."
  • Neil Gaiman and Amazon wouldn't comment on Campfire, an event organized by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, "where leading writers and intellectuals gather for three days of fun and discussion." Publishers Lunch had said Gaiman was at the second annual Campfire held last weekend in Santa Fe, N.Mex.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood

St. Mark's 'Will Not Be Fed to the Sharks'

Members of the Cooper Square Committee, which supports the effort by St. Mark's Bookshop in New York City to get a rent reduction on its space from its landlord, the Cooper Union, serenaded the school's new president at his inauguration procession yesterday, according to DNAinfo.

To the tune of "Home on the Range," they sang:

Long life to St. Mark's.
It will not be fed to the sharks.
And if that's your intent,
You will most likely earn high marks.

Other committee members handed out fliers about the situation. The committee has gotten more than 43,000 people to sign a petition in support of the bookstore.

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

San Diego: 'Small, Nimble' Indies Thriving

The San Diego Union Tribune profiled a group of "small, nimble independents--such as Warwick's in La Jolla and Mysterious Galaxy in Clairemont Mesa--that are thriving amid changes in consumers' book-buying habits and fierce competition from and other online booksellers."

Also in the mix is Crown Books, which has opened a number of "pop-up" bargain book shops, "capitalizing on the demise of Borders and B. Dalton in Southern California." Andy Weiss, owner of A&S Booksellers--which owns the rights to the "Crown Books" name--said: "We are the neighborhood people, and we're not going away. It's a great, independent business, but you have to know your market and what people want in a localized area."

Adrian Newel, book buyer for Warwick's, observed that it "has been an interesting couple of years for independent retailers across the board. We're having to think smarter, work harder, come up with promotions and in-store events that benefit the community, and hopefully reinforce our connection to the community, as well as bring in new customers."

Terry Louchheim Gilman, managing partner of Mysterious Galaxy, which just opened a second store, added: "We fill a completely different niche from a Borders store because we specialize in the books that we are passionate about. We love discovering books, especially works from debut authors. We're literally creating a market for some of these titles."

Politico Throws Hat in E-Bookstore Ring

Politico, the political website, has launched Politico Bookshelf, an online bookstore operated by Random House that will sell a range of topical titles by various publishers as well as its own line of e-books, published in conjunction with Random House, that launches at the end of November. Readers will be able to buy titles online from Politics & Prose, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or the iBookstore.



Image of the Day: Puppy Pub Party


Last week, Stephen Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt and Company, hosted a launch party for The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout (Times Books) by Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times. Here from l.: John Sterling, editor-at large at Macmillan; Abramson; and Rubin.


Murakami's 1Q84 Countdown: Launch Day in the U.K.

While the Haruki Murakami 1Q84 countdown continues here in the U.S. (WORD in Brooklyn has a Murakami Read-a-Thon scheduled for next Monday night), booksellers in the the U.K. celebrated the novel's publication in the early hours of Tuesday morning and "were expecting to sell thousands of copies... as excitement built after some stores held special late-night openings," AFP reported.

"The last time we did this was for Harry Potter," Miriam Robinson of Foyles, one of many London bookshops in London opening at midnight for the launch (see a Foyles Murakami queue here), told BBC News. "It's hard to find a book that merits that kind of an event."

Dan Pryce, a bookseller at a Waterstone's in central London, agreed: "There really isn't anyone like him right now, he is completely different.... He does inspire devotion."

Knopf's Paul Bogaards compared the international attention with the hype that can surround serialized teen literature, but "is entirely unprecedented in the case of a work translated into English." BBC News noted that Knopf's pre-pub orders for hardcover copies in the U.S. "overwhelmingly outnumber digital pre-sales by 70% to 30%. The inverse is typical for most books, showing how keen Murakami's readers are to hold the physical volume in their hand."

Cool Idea of the Day: Drop Off Electronics, Pick Up Books

This Saturday and Sunday at the Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass., Ethical Electronics Recycling will be accepting customers' unwanted electronics at $1 per pound, with 5% of the fee immediately given back to them in the form of a gift certificate for use in the bookshop, "AND they will be accepting Kindles at no charge!" according to the bookstore's e-newsletter.

What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur

On Monday night at the United Nations in New York City, nine children's book authors talked about their contributions to What You Wish For (Putnam Penguin) in a discussion moderated by Leonard Marcus. The book is the result of a partnership between the Book Wish Foundation and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Book Wish founder Logan Kleinwaks, who spearheaded the book project, said that 100% of the proceeds will help establish libraries in refugee camps in Chad, on the Sudan border, which are home to more than 250,000 refugees from Darfur, most of whom are children.

These kinds of fund-raising efforts are crucial because, as Udo Janz, director of UNHCR's New York office, explained, most of the budget for the camps must go to maintaining security. Education is "funded almost entirely through voluntary contributions," Janz said.

Mohamed Yahya, a survivor of the genocide in Darfur and co-founder of the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, has helped thousands to flee Darfur. In a moving speech, Yahya said, "Genocide is not just killing my brothers and sisters. Genocide is also erasing our culture, our ideas, and our dreams. They erase your identity. That is how genocide begins." He expressed his thanks to the authors: "What you are doing is not just for the Sudanese but for humanity."

Moderator Marcus highlighted the ways in which What You Wish For pushed many of the contributors in new directions. Newbery Medalist and novelist Karen Hess ("Nell") had never written a short story before and took her inspiration from "The Little Match Girl."

Marcus asked Marilyn Nelson whether there was a place for humor, given her poem "Cautious Wishing," which he called "a cautionary tale leavened with humor." Better known for her more serious-minded works of nonfiction and poetry, such as the Newbery Honor book Carver: A Life in Poems and the Printz Honor book A Wreath for Emmett Till, Nelson said she relishes humor--it keeps things in perspective. "I gave a graduation speech and told the college grads to keep a clown nose in their medicine cabinet. Once on a while, I put on a clown nose and say, 'I'm a fool,' " she said.

R.L. Stine's ("Funny Things") experience was just the opposite. He started out writing joke books. "Scary books were someone else's idea," he explained. But kids love what he calls "safe scare" experiences. "We all like to be scared if we know we're safe at the same time--in the library, in your room," Stine said. Nate Powell ("Conjurers"), the only graphic contributor to the collection, said that he generally subscribes to the Cormac McCarthy (The Road) school: you wait 40 pages for the characters to find a can of peas, and that can bring "contentment in a world so bleak." For this collection, Powell said, he was trying to go with wishes as "hope and promise."

Cornelia Funke ("Rosanna") who joined the group via Skype, is a former social worker who agreed with Marcus's suggestion that fantasy gives kids "a way to talk about things for which there are no words." Like Nelson, Meg Cabot ("The Protectionist"), who also joined by Skype, sees the advantages of humor. She said, "Reading helped me at times when I was sad; it can take you away from your life." Jeanne DuPrau ("Pearl's Fateful Wish"), whose protagonist lives in a near future with nine billion people on the planet, said that her "impulse" was more toward cautionary tale than Utopia.

One of the first to sign onto the project, Newbery Honor and Baby-Sitters Club author Ann M. Martin ("The Lost Art of Letter Writing") helped build a library in Ghana through her foundation, and her Lisa Libraries are helping schools and libraries damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irene to rebuild their collections.

Sofia Quintero, who has written primarily for adults in the past, has always wanted to write for young people. She noted that she grew up during the crack epidemic in the Southeast Bronx, when it was "the international symbol of urban blight." Her safe haven was the library. "If there's any place that's sacred and open to everyone, it's the library."

To find out how to get involved and learn more about the project, check out and Twitter @bookwish. --Jennifer M. Brown

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lauren Myracle on All Things Considered

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Eli Saslow, author of Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385534307).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jill Abramson, author of The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout (Times Books, $22, 9780805093421).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Harold Bloom, author of The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible (Yale University Press, $28, 9780300166835). As the show put it: "We visited Harold Bloom in his apartment to talk about his new book, The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible. Our discussion is officially about the great King James translation of the Old and New Testaments. But when you talk with Harold Bloom, you talk about everything--politics, poetry, teaching, aging, reading and ultimately, respect."


Today on NPR's All Things Considered: Lauren Myracle will talk about the decision by the National Book Foundation to take back its nomination of Shine for the National Book Awards.


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Paul Starr, author of Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle Over Health Care Reform (Yale University Press, $28.50, 9780300171099).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Richard Brookhiser, author of James Madison (Basic, $26.99, 9780465019830).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (Norton, $26.95, 9780393079425).

TV: The Talk to Talk Up Books on New Segment

The CBS daytime show The Talk has launched a book segment called "The Talk Book Buzz," focusing on new nonfiction on a variety of topics, from financial advice to parenting. Books will be announced a month in advance. The first book selection is The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married (Gotham Books) by Iris Krasnow. offers an excerpt from the book and a reading guide, and readers can share their opinions and raise questions via Twitter or Facebook for the upcoming discussion. The author will appear on the show on Friday, November 11, along with some of the women she interviewed for the book.


The Descendants Author: 'So Damn Lucky'

Fox Searchlight film's The Descendants "figures to be a strong contender in the Oscar race, and it closed the New York Film Festival Sunday night," reported. Directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney, the film is adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings (movie tie-in edition: Random House, $15, 9780812982954). It will be released November 18.
"I am so damn lucky," the author told Word & Film. "I thought to myself. This is my first novel; my favorite director, Alexander Payne, has adapted it into a screenplay that compliments and honors my story; George Clooney stars; my friends and family are extras; I've been granted complete access; it's like a perfect storm of luck. Added bonus: The film is fantastic. It beautifully captures the real Hawaii and the color and complications of the King family."

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker Prize

Julian Barnes has won the £50,000 (US$78,284) Man Booker Prize for The Sense of an Ending. Dame Stella Rimington, chair of the judges, said the novel "has the markings of a classic of English Literature. It is exquisitely written, subtly plotted and reveals new depths with each reading."

"Julian Barnes triumphs at last" was the Guardian's headline: three times he was shortlisted for the prize, for Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998) and Arthur & George (2005), but hasn't won.

In Shelf Awareness, we called The Sense of an Ending "a sneaky little hand grenade of a novel... on the nature of nostalgia that will turn the reader back to the very beginning."

Claire Armitstead, the Guardian's literary editor, observed: "At just 150 pages, in two elegantly counterpointed sections, it is one of the shortest-ever winners of a major prize for the novel.... But what it lacks in length it makes up for in depth of philosophical inquiry about memory and the shakiness of the personal identity formed by it....  

"And to those who believe the Booker has gone irreparably downmarket in both its domestic and international incarnations, one can only point to the fact that, despite all the controversy, 2011 will go down as the year of Philip Roth [winner of the Man Booker International Prize] and Julian Barnes."

This year's Man Booker Prize shortlist also included Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman and Snowdrops by A.D. Miller. 

Book Brahmin: Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk's new novel, Damned (Doubleday, October 18, 2011), is "about an eleven-year old girl who wakes up basically and finds that she is in hell and that she's dead." Palahniuk's previous 11 novels include Snuff, Fight Club (which was made into a movie by David Fincher), Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters and Choke (made into a film by Clark Gregg). He is also the author of a nonfiction profile of Portland, Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Anything involving Ellery Queen, I read it. Not so much for the murders, etc. I wanted to know why Ellery never got married. Why did he live at home with his father, Inspector Queen, all his adult life? In book after book, Ellery was thrown together with attractive vulnerable dames, but the sparks never flew.... Yes, Sherlock had opiates to account for his failure to form adult romantic attachments. And Hercule Poirot was simply a Belgian pig. But I wanted to see Ellery Queen find a real job and a lasting significant other. Sigh. I guess I want the same things for myself.

Your top five authors:

Amy Hempel, Joy Williams, Thom Jones, Nami Mun, Denis Johnson.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. I'm Catholic. What can I say? Each Sunday as we left Mass we received the parish bulletin, and that told us which popular new books had received the big "C" from the Church. The "C" stood for "condemned" so, of course, those were the books I immediately ran out and shoplifted. Eventually I rented the movie adaptation of the Bible. I give it two thumbs up, but I don't think I understood the ending.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Chronology of Water, a kick-ass memoir by the young, lovely, brilliant writer Lidia Yuknavitch.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Please see the preceding question. Lidia insisted they put her bare breast on the cover, discreetly masked with a removable belly-band, of course. Scandalous.

Book that changed your life:

Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel.

Favorite line from a book:

It's from The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West. Let's take a deep breath. Here goes: "He pushed his way through a tangle of briars, old flats and iron junk, skirting the skeleton of a Zeppelin, a bamboo stockade, an adobe fort, the wooden horse of Troy, a flight of baroque palace stairs that started in a bed of weeds and ended against the branches of an oak, part of the Fourteenth Street elevated station, a Dutch windmill, the bones of a dinosaur, the upper half of the Merrimac, a corner of a Mayan temple, until he finally reached the road."

I first read that when I was 10 years old--yes, 10--and I never recovered.

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

The 1970 Sears Catalogue. Specifically the Christmas "Wish Book." How did I go from someone who wanted nothing to someone who wanted everything? How did that happen?


Book Review

Children's Review: Which Side Are You On?: The Story of a Song

Which Side Are You On?: The Story of a Song by George Ella Lyon, illus. by Christopher Cardinale (Cinco Puntos Press, $17.95 hardcover, 40p., ages 7-10, 9781933693965, November 1, 2011)

George Ella Lyon (All the Water in the World) and Christopher Cardinale (Mister Mendoza's Paintbrush) make a perfect match for this picture-book homage to a 1931 rallying cry born under duress in Harlan County, Ky.

Cardinale opens with a breathtaking view of the eastern Kentucky mountains. A church sits in the valley not far from a factory with coal cars filled to capacity and lined up on the rails as four children kick a can across the tracks. A turn of the page thrusts readers underground. "My Pa is a miner," says the text inside a burst of flame caused by the explosion that brings forth the coal. "Earns our dinner deep in the mountain blasting and loading coal," the text continues. The artist makes a smooth transition to a scene at the dinner table, where a family of nine passes plates of food; it's clear that no one goes hungry. Yet, they "live in a coal company house on coal company land," and the company pays Pa in scrip that has value only at the company store.

Lyon and Cardinale contextualize the terms so that a young audience can understand "scrip," "strike," "scab" and other ideas. They also do not shy away from the violence unleashed on the narrator's family. The girl explains that her Pa, Sam Reese, is a union organizer, and the company men would like to put an end to his organizing. As the sheriff and his gang shoot through the walls, the children hide under the bed while Ma--Florence Reece--tears off  the calendar page for the month of May and uses it to compose the lyrics to the titular song, "Which side are you on?" Lyon maintains a child's point of view. As Ma sings her song, her children ask the questions that readers will have in mind: "Why don't the sheriff stop them?" and "If Pa gave up the union... would they quit shooting at us?" They provide the levity in a dire situation. Cardinale, too, balances the bullet-ravaged walls with those majestic Kentucky mountains.

In her endnotes, Lyon talks about the enduring quality and adaptability of folk songs: "Singers add their strengths and causes and make their own versions." She attributes her source for this story to Beverly Futrell, who heard it "from Reece herself" at Reece's 85th birthday party. Lyon points out that greed can take hold of both the owners and the unions at various times. She encourages children to "become informed" about issues of social justice, decide what they think and speak out. "We are how change happens." Although this book describes a historical event, it can open a gateway to understanding terms such as "collective bargaining," what that right has meant, and to consider what it means today. More recent versions of the song (performed by Pete Seeger and Natalie Merchant) add "boys" to the chorus ("Which side are you on, boys,/ which side are you on?"), Reese's version did not. Lyon and Cardinale make clear that the miner's entire family risked everything when they chose to stand together, male and female alike. And it's as powerful a message today as it was 80 years ago. --Jennifer M. Brown



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