Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Simon Pulse: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!

Bunim & Bannigan Ltd: David Lazar by Robert Kalich

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Quotation of the Day

World Book Night: 'It's About More than Books'

WBN givers at Liberty Bay Books

"World Book Night is a day for books. But it's about more than books, too. It's about talking to strangers and sharing something you love. It's about connection instead of connectivity.

"So, we're doing World Book Night again. It's a little crazy, to be sure, and maybe it seems like our world is now too wired in and disconnected for a bunch of people wandering around handing out free books to make any difference, but if you think about it, it doesn't take much. It's only a couple of seconds, an abbreviated motion of the wrist and hand, a couple of shared words. Each book given on World Book Night, and each book received, is an instance of simple, profound connection in a world where it's all too rare."

--from the store blog of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.

Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino


News

Books & Books Bal Harbour on the Move

The Books & Books in Bal Harbour Shops, Bal Harbour, Fla., is in a temporary location for several months while its new site in the mall is under construction. The new location will be the same size as its old spot, which another tenant is expanding into. The Bal Harbour Shops have one of the highest levels of sales per square foot in the country.


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


Slovakia Wants Amazon Warehouse Rejected by Czech City

Slovakia "has taken initial steps" to launch talks with Amazon about building a warehouse after the Czech city of Brno rejected the development earlier this month. Bloomberg reported that Slovak economy ministry spokesman Stanislav Jurikovic said the talks may concern the location and "eventual" state aid.


New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen


Obituary Note: Walter E. Freese, Jr.

Walter E. Freese, Jr., who was a Doubleday executive for more than 40 years, died last Friday. Among his survivors is Rich Freese, president and CEO of Recorded Books.

Shortly after World War II, Freese joined the accounting department of Doubleday Publishing's Garden City office and rose up through the ranks, ultimately becoming CFO and executive v-p of Doubleday Publishing. He retired in 1988, after advising Bertelsmann after its acquisition of Doubleday.

His most enjoyable position was v-p of sports and being on the board of the New York Mets, particularly in 1986, when the team won the World Series. He had been a loyal Mets fan since their start in 1962, and it was a dream come true to be involved in professional baseball and to become the proud owner of the World Series ring.

Services will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, 1-2 p.m., at the Shelter Island Funeral Parlor, Shelter Island, N.Y.


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Phyllis Cohen's Homecoming at Berkeley Books of Paris

"After some years away from the shop, it became clear that my heart was still in it," said Phyllis Cohen, the owner of Berkeley Books of Paris, an English-language bookstore in the French capital. She helped get the store up and running with two friends in 2005, and then spent several years away from bookselling to work for the United Nations in the Hague. Now, she's bought the store, relaunched its website and jumped back into bookselling.

"I realized that I'm something of a born bookseller," she said. "I just couldn't stay away from it for more than a couple of years, even though my work at the U.N. was beyond fascinating." Her bookselling career began on another continent, when she was just 20 years old; she spent her "cub bookseller" days at a long-since closed store in New York City called Chapter and Verse, before working at Posman Books in Greenwich Village. By the time she was 24, she was managing the store.

Cohen first traveled to Paris in 1999 as an exchange student, where "contrary to all nay saying," she immediately landed a part-time job at an American used bookstore called San Francisco Book Company. She returned to the U.S. to finish college, and bought a one-way ticket back to Paris immediately after her graduation in June of 2000. After her return to Paris she worked again at San Francisco Book Company, where she met Phil Wood and Richard Toney, with whom she started Berkeley Books in 2005. Wood financed the starting of the store and was its principal owner until Cohen purchased the store this year.

Today, Berkeley Books of Paris is an approximately 322 square foot general-interest used bookstore, packed with some 10,000 English-language volumes. It resides in the Sixth Arrondissement, which Cohen called the city's "cultural heart."

"The neighborhood is a real stunner if you happen to be a bookshop," she said, describing her community as one made up largely of professors and students, with about a 65% to 35% split between locals and tourists. Philosophy, literary fiction, vintage pocketbooks and poetry typically do well. "The streets are alive with literary history from the 1920s onward. Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier had their bookshops just around the corner. The Jardin du Luxembourg, where the young Hemingway hung out with Gertrude Stein, is just up the street."

Cohen's first major change since taking ownership was completely rebuilding the store's website, and she has a long list of further changes to make. She plans to get rid of the store's "chaff" and shape the inventory into a "lovingly curated collection of vintage and rare books." She also wants to begin introducing new books to the store.

"While it's not really in the DNA of used bookstores, there are far too many excellent new books and inspired publishers out there to limit ourselves to serendipity, to just buying the best used books that come in the shop," she elaborated. "I really want to turn people on to Melville House, to the NYRB classics series, to Believer magazine, to small press poets."

Beyond that, Cohen intends to make community events, such as readings and author visits, her top priority. She's going to retake the reins of a "fledgling poetry reading series" that she started before leaving for the U.N., and has already reached out to Hawthorne Books in Portland, Ore., about hosting coordinated readings in store. She also plans to invite Melville House and McSweeney's, among other publishers, a little further down the line.

Cohen, Wood and Toney are the only employees, and Cohen, in fact, is still in the process of leaving the U.N.--her move-in day for Paris is March 8.

"It's a bit like the army, in that it's harder getting out than it is getting in," she said of the U.N. "And it's none too easy getting in." --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: SF/F Extravaganza at Housing Works Bookstore

As part of its annual "Geek Week" celebration, Housing Works Bookstore Café, New York City, hosted an evening with four science fiction and fantasy authors making their debuts with Tor/Forge Books. Rather than read from their novels, though, James L. Cambias (A Darkling Sea), David Edison (The Waking Engine), Brian Staveley (The Emperor's Blades) and Ramona Wheeler (Three Princes) took part in an improvised storytelling session, making up a tale that incorporated audience suggestions such as "Lake Michigan," "a guitar" and "Prince Harry."


Nicola Rooney Wins Community Book Award

photo: Doug Coombe

Congratulations to Nicola Rooney, owner of Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., who has won the 2014 Community Book Award, sponsored by the Kerrytown BookFest and awarded to the person in the Greater Ann Arbor area who helps create and retain "a vital book culture," according to Robin Agnew, president of the BookFest and owner of Aunt Agatha's Bookshop.

"Rooney was recognized for her commitment as a bookseller for more than 20 years in Ann Arbor," Agnew said. "Her store is a big reason, even with the closing of stores like Borders, that the area has remained a city with an active book culture, and one with a busy and varied schedule of visiting authors from every part of the literary universe."

Nicola's, which is for sale, hosted or sponsored more than 200 events last year, serves schools at book fairs, provides books for library events in the area and hosts book clubs, writer's groups and Master Gardeners' lectures, among other things. Rooney serves on the board of the Ann Arbor Book Festival, is a sponsor and partner of Kerrytown BookFest and has served on the board of Washtenaw Literacy for 10 years.

The Kerrytown BookFest will honor Rooney on BookFest Sunday, September 7, at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, the kickoff to the 12th annual day-long celebration of books that features more than 40 authors and illustrators and 100 exhibitors and booksellers. She will receive a handmade framed certificate and take part in a booksellers' panel along with some of her staff.


Cool Idea of the Day: Amtrak's 'Writers' Residencies'

Authors and trains? It's a natural fit. Amtrak has begun offering "writers' residencies" in the form of "long roundtrip rides aboard Amtrak trains dedicated solely for the purpose of writing," the Atlantic Wire reported, adding that the company plans to "turn the writers' residencies into an established, long-term program, sending writers on trains throughout its network of routes."

The genesis of the idea was a remark made by Alexander Chee in a Pen America interview, where he said, "I still like a train best for [writing]. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers." Jessica Gross tweeted her support for the concept, and "though such lofty fantasies often die unrealized, by the grace of some transportation-and-prose-loving god, Amtrak actually responded to Gross on Twitter, and liked the idea," the Wire wrote. She was offered the first "test-run" residency, traveling from New York City to Chicago and back.

"I've seen a billion tweets (#AmtrakResidency) from other writers saying 'I want one of these,' " Gross said.

Julia Quinn, social media director for Amtrak, confirmed there has been "overwhelming demand" from people interested in the program--part of the reason the company is intent on turning this into a regular operation. And what about the guy who started it all? Chee tweeted he had set up his own test run.


Distribution: University of New Orleans Press, Blue Apple Books

Effective May 1, Hopkins Fulfillment Services will distribute the University of New Orleans Press, which is currently distributed by National Book Network.

Abram Shalom Himelstein, the press's editor-in-chief, commented: "In the coming months we will be publishing work by Tom Dent, Clementine Hunter and FiYiYi Mardi Gras Indians. We will be exploring brass bands and horse tracks and Creole history. This work is more than a business to us, and the people at Johns Hopkins understand that."

Hopkins Fulfillment Services manager Davida Breier said, "The spirit and scholarship behind UNO's list makes them a natural partner for HFS."

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Effective June 1, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution will distribute Blue Apple Books in the United States and Canada.

Founded in 2003 by Harriet Ziefert, Blue Apple Books, Maplewood, N.J., publishes 40 titles per year for children under the age of 10. Titles include Broadway Barks by Bernadette Peters, Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea and illustrated by Tom Slaughter, Jessie Hartland’s Museum series, books by DwellStudio and Deborah Zemke's Doodles for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner placemat series. It has also just launched the Jump-Into-Chapters line.

David Steinberger, CEO of the Perseus Books Group, commented: "Harriet Ziefert's passion for bringing children books they not only need, but will also enjoy, is unsurpassed. She's a treasure in the world of children's publishing and the independent publishing community."



Media and Movies

Oscar Preview: 'Adaptations Continue to Shape the Conversation'

With the Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, Word & Film explored the power of book-to-film adaptations and "how films based on written source material have fared in the Best Picture competition, noting that during Oscar's 85 years, 54 Best Picture winners "officially have been derived from novels, nonfiction books, newspaper articles or stage dramas. For you numbers-crunchers, that's 63.5%. Since comic books and pop fiction also now account for half of the highest-grossing films of all time, the literary world clearly has a major impact on both the box office and the awards circuit."

In 2014, four of the nine Best Picture nominees are "officially book-based": The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, Philomena and 12 Years a Slave. Word & Film observed that while Alfonso Cuaron's blockbuster Gravity "is certainly exerting a strong pull on voters, 12 Years is a more comprehensive powerhouse.... Steve McQueen and John Ridley's compelling statement makes an excellent case for collecting a bunch of statuettes, including the big one, when the envelopes are opened March 2."


Media Heat: Blum and Bloom

Today on Fresh Air: Howard Blum, author of Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America (Harper, $27.99, 9780062307552).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Lisa Bloom, author of Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (Counterpoint, $25, 9781619023277). She will also appear on CNN's Piers Morgan and MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, readers review Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury, $15, 9781608196265).


12 Years a Slave Added to High School Curricula

Beginning this September, director Steve McQueen's Oscar-nominated film 12 Years a Slave, which was adapted from Solomon Northup's book, will be incorporated into high school curricula across the U.S. The Film Stage reported that the National School Boards Association has teamed with New Regency, Penguin Books and the filmmakers to provide copies of the movie, book and a study guide to public schools.

The driving force behind the initiative was Montel Williams, who called 12 Years a Slave "one of the most impactful films in recent memory, and I am honored to have been able to bring together Fox Searchlight and National School Boards Association to maximize its educational potential. When Hollywood is at its best, the power of the movies can be harnessed into a powerful educational tool. This film uniquely highlights a shameful period in American history, and in doing so will evoke in students a desire to not repeat the evils of the past while inspiring them to dream big of a better and brighter future, and I'm proud to be a part of that."

McQueen observed that since first reading Northup's book, "it has been my dream that this book be taught in schools. I am immensely grateful to Montel Williams and the National School Boards Association for making this dream a reality and for sharing Solomon Northup's story with today's generation."


Books & Authors

Awards: B.C. National for Canadian Nonfiction

Thomas King won the $40,000 British Columbia National Award for Canadian Nonfiction for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, the Globe & Mail reported. The jury praised the winning book as a "wry, iconoclastic and important book that challenges us to think differently about both the past and the future." The Inconvenient Indian was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and is on the short list for the RBC Taylor Prize.


Book Review

Review: The Headmaster's Wife

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $24.99 hardcover, 9781250038944, February 25, 2014)

The Headmaster's Wife begins on an early winter morning, with a man walking into New York City's Central Park. He is trying to remember a time when he and his wife and son were in this same place. The memory is elusive; he can’t quite recapture it. He takes off his hat, then all his clothes, including his shoes, and continues his walk. He is taken to a police station and asked what happened. He says he must begin at the beginning, and he does.

Arthur Winthrop is the headmaster of Lancaster School, an elite Vermont prep school, like his grandfather and father before him. His son, Ethan, chose not to follow the family plan, not to go to Yale, not to become head of the school. Instead, he joined the army right out of high school. Arthur's wife, Elizabeth, is drifting away from him, interested only in tennis and sitting in Ethan's room, worrying.

Arthur tells the police about his obsession with a student, Betsy, their sexual encounters and her leaving him for Russell Hurley, a handsome basketball player her own age. Arthur plants alcohol under Russell's dorm bed, arranges a room search and has him expelled.

At this point, the policeman interviewing Arthur brings in a man he introduces as an attorney. Arthur hasn't asked for one, but the man says he is Russell Hurley--and everything turns upside down.

The reader knows from Thomas Christopher Greene's clever foreshadowing that something monumental has happened--but only midway through do we learn what it is. When the story turns, it is as if a new book is being written, but such is not the case. We slowly understand what really happened and why, and all the questions about how Arthur could be so foolish about a student are answered, among many more important things.

The story behind The Headmaster's Wife is unusual. Greene (Envious Moon) began writing it in a neonatal care unit when his second daughter was born prematurely, and the book is dedicated to her memory. At the same time, Greene was in the process of founding the Vermont College of Fine Arts; the loss of a child and a close association with a school provide the backdrop for a story that examines grief, love, marriage, madness and hope. Before you pick up this book, clear the decks--because you will read it in one sitting. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Greene (Envious Moon) has written a straightforward-seeming narrative about a headmaster making foolish choices that morphs into something entirely different, poignant and eloquent.


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