Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 14, 2014

Shambhala: Wait: A Love Letter to Those in Despair by Cuong Lu

Other Press: Nuestra América: My Family in the Vertigo of Translation by Claudio Lomnitz

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton


Thriving Indies in New York and Seattle

In the wake of the closing on Friday of Rizzoli Bookstore and the New York Times's recent article about the effects of high Manhattan commercial rents on bookstores, New York magazine noted that the "familiar tale [is] not about the end of reading, but about New York real estate." In "6 Independent Bookstores Are Thriving--and How They Do It," Boris Kachka and Joshua David Stein profiled two Manhattan and four Brooklyn stores: McNally Jackson Books, Greenlight Bookstore, powerHouse Books, Three Lives & Company, Community Bookstore and BookCourt.


Photo: Matthew Ryan Williams/NYT

For its part, the Times went far afield for a positive story on indies, offering a feature on how Seattle bookstores are thriving despite--and in a few cases because of--Amazon's presence in the city. "As Amazon has exploded with growth, hiring thousands of tech workers at its downtown headquarters and helping bolster the Seattle economy, local bookstore owners have seen a surprising new side of the company they loved to hate: Many Amazon employees, it turns out, are readers who are not shopping at the company store," the paper wrote.

The story went into detail about Jeopardy! champion and former Amazon books editor Tom Nissley's purchase of Santoro's Books, which he is turning into Phinney Books. (See our interview with him here.)

Aftershock Comics: Kill a Man by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Alec Morgan

Marcus Books Fundraiser Misses Target

After their effort to raise $1 million brought in only $250,000, the owners of Marcus Books, who are seeking to buy back their building in San Francisco, Calif., held a town hall meeting at the store on Saturday, the Examiner reported.


Although Karen and Greg Johnson "likely face the eviction of their shop, as well as their daughter and her family, who still live in one of the units in the building," the paper said, they are not giving up. Grace Martinez, a community organizer for the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said that the Johnsons are "trying to figure out what legally they can do. They're still talking to investors. But they want to fight and take it to the end."

Marcus Books' troubles began when Blanche Richardson, daughter of Marcus Books founders Julian and Raye Richardson and manager of the Marcus Books in Oakland, filed for personal bankruptcy. (The family had taken out a $950,000 loan on the building in 2006, and monthly payments rose to about $10,000 a month by 2009.) A co-owner of the San Francisco building, she could have been bought out by her sister, Karen Johnson, and Karen's husband, Greg Johnson, who operate Marcus Books in San Francisco. But the Johnsons were not able to do so, and the building was sold to Nishan and Suhaila Sweis.

After buying the building, the Sweises tried to have the Johnsons and the bookstore evicted and, at one point, wanted at least $3.2 million for the building.

Western Community Services has offered a loan of $1.65 million of the new $2.6 million purchase price; the Johnsons have been seeking to raise the other $1 million.

GLOW: Beacon Press: Boyz n the Void: a mixtape to my brother by G'Ra Asim

Michael Palin's Book Tour Will Support U.K. Indie Booksellers

Author, world traveler and Monty Python legend Michael Palin will promote the latest volume of his diaries, Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998, with his first one-man tour across England. The Bookseller reported that at "each of the 21 venues of the tour, a local bookshop will be selling signed copies of Palin's books in the foyer of the theatre." Travelling to Work will be released in September.  

"The link up is to give them [local bookshops] a little more coverage and visibility," Palin said. "I think there is something that the bookshop represents which is the heart of community life. Bookshops are a way of bringing people together. There is a feeling when you go into one, an idea that this is a good place to be. People talk to each other more. They take their time. I love bookshops because they allow you to browse much more easily than online. I love physical books, the look, the color."

Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto

Kiwi Indies 'Have Reason to Celebrate'

The recent success of New Zealand's independent booksellers "is following trends in the U.S. that saw independent bookstores increase their sales by 9% in 2013," Unlimited magazine reported, adding that when Auckland's the Women's Bookshop "celebrated its 25th birthday last week with a roaring party at Ponsonby Central, it sent a clear message to the publishing world--Kiwi independent bookstores have reason to celebrate."

''Almost the entire book trade was at our party," said owner Carole Beu. "It was a buoyant feeling in the room that the book trade is in good health, the independents in particular.... We had the best Christmas last year that we've had in 25 years and 2014 is going strong.''

Even the store's digital strategy is working. Approximately 10% of sales at the Women's Bookshop come from its online store. ''People are politically aware and many think that to support [tax exempt] Amazon is an unethical act," Beu said, adding: "We can often get our books out to customers faster on a courier."

Jenna Todd, manager of Time Out Bookstore in Mt. Eden, said: "Our customers come in and say, 'Jenna, I loved that book you recommended to me last time, what's the next book I should read?' It's about making it a really personal experience."

In January, Todd attended the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in Seattle after receiving a scholarship from Booksellers New Zealand and Kobo. ''In the U.S. there's so much enthusiasm about shopping locally. People really want to spend money in their community,'' she said. ''One of the things I have focused on since I got back is emphasizing our 'localness.' Our paper bags have been reprinted and they say: 'Here's what you just did' and it lists 10 points on the bag about how they have supported the local community.''

Indies First Storytime Day: 'Top 10 Reasons to Participate'

"People, oh my people! (all you glorious and talented authors and illustrators) Have you signed up for Indies First Storytime Day yet?" asked Kate DiCamillo, who is spearheading this year's event, in Bookselling This Week. She offered her "top 10 reasons why you should volunteer a few hours of your time to your local indie bookstore on May 17, support small business and celebrate Children's Book Week." Two of our favorites:

#5. You can help draw attention to your local indie bookstore and help generate foot traffic and book sales. Help them spread the shop local message.

#6. You can stand in the shoes of a hardworking bookseller for a brief time and appreciate what they do to connect, and handsell, and create reading communities. Thank them for their work as well as for being the face of your book to inquiring customers day after day. A little piece of advice, load up on caffeine. These people are hard workers and you need to keep up!

Obituary Note: Harold Adams

Mystery author Harold Adams died April at age 91. He was a three-time finalist for the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Award and won for The Man Who Was Taller Than God, which also won a Minnesota Book Award. The St. Paul Pioneer Press had a lengthy obituary.


Books & Books: An 'Essential Miami Shopping Experience'

Racked 38's spring "list of Miami's most vital, most crucial, most imperative shopping experiences" included Books & Books, Coral Gables: "When an author comes into town for a book tour, you can bet she'll be signing pages at Books & Books. The store has shelves upon shelves of any book imaginable, but we believe their coffee table book collection is the best thing you could venture in here for. Well, besides the cappuccinos and sandwiches at the cafe."

'Beautiful Vintage Photos of Bygone Bookstores'

In its "Beautiful Vintage Photos of Bygone Bookstores" slide show, Flavorwire invited readers to "indulge in some literary nostalgia and appease your book-beauty tooth (you know you've got one) with these lovely old photos of old bookstores (in some of which you could, at one time, find old books). And all right, not all are complete bygones--some, improbably, wonderfully, are still standing--but they don't look quite like this anymore, and so the vintage-photo-ogling endures."

'A Portlander in Paris' Finds English-Language Bookshops

"A Portlander who doesn't speak French might find herself pondering illiteracy and yearning for Powell's," wrote Karen Pate in her Oregonian piece headlined "A literary journey in Paris--a Portlander's search for English-language bookstores."

In addition to the must-see "historical institution" Shakespeare and Company, Pate recommended visits to the Abbey Bookshop ("owner Brian Spence characterizes Abbey's stock as 'new, used and rare: eclectic, literary, thoughtfully hand-picked' ") and used bookstores San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris.

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Allison Renzulli has joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the newly created position of culinary digital editorial director. She will work from the New York office with the HMH culinary marketing, editorial, and digital teams to oversee multiple digital initiatives. She was formerly senior marketing manager at Clarkson Potter.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Calipari on Players First

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Susan Shillinglaw, author of On Reading The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin, $14, 9780143125501).


This morning on CBS This Morning: John Calipari, co-author of Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out (Penguin, $28.95, 9781594205736). He will also appear tomorrow on CNBC's Squawk on the Street.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities (Scribner, $35, 9781451681796).


Today on the View: Claire Shipman, co-author of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know (HarperBusiness, $27.99, 9780062230621). She will also appear on Good Morning America.


Today on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports: Scott Helman, co-author of Long Mile Home: Boston Under Attack, the City's Courageous Recovery, and the Epic Hunt for Justice (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525954484).


Today on Bloomberg's Taking Stock: Marlo Thomas, author of It Ain't Over... Till It's Over: Reinventing Your Life--and Realizing Your Dreams--Anytime, at Any Age (Atria, $27, 9781476739915).


Tonight on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: For Graduates (Knopf, $24.95, 9780385353670).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Tabatha Coffey, author of Own It!: Be the Boss of Your Life--at Home and in the Workplace (It Books, $24.99, 9780062251008).

Also on Today: Maya Van Wagenen, author of Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (Dutton, $18.99, 9780525426813).


Tomorrow on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live: Holly Peterson, author of The Idea of Him: A Novel (Morrow, $14.99, 9780062283108).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life: A Novel (Norton, $23.95, 9780393060058).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Daily Show: Pelé, co-author of Why Soccer Matters (Celebra, $26.95, 9780451468444).


Tomorrow night on Coast to Coast AM: Kelly A. Turner, author of Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062268754).

Movies: The Giver; Hateship Loveship

New footage from The Giver, with commentary by Lois Lowry, has been released offering viewers "a short look inside the film," Buzzfeed reported. While the initial trailer disconcerted some fans because it "was entirely in color rather than black and white as in the novel... much to the pleasure of viewers, some of this new footage depicts the utopian (dystopian?) world of The Giver as it is in the novel: colorless." Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites, the film is scheduled to be released August 15.


In a new clip from Hateship Loveship, the film adaptation of Alice Munro's story, "we see the secrets unearthed in the household, carrying the weight of the past," Indiewire reported. Directed by Liza Johnson, the movie stars Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte. It is available on VOD and in limited release.

TV: The Librarians

For fans of bookish action heroes, TNT has greenlighted 10 episodes of The Librarians, a series based on an earlier TV movie trilogy called The Librarian and slated to air in late 2014, Entertainment Weekly reported. Noah Wyle (Falling Skies, ER) will executive produce and return in the lead role "as the big cheese librarian," while Rebecca Romijn will play "a sexy counter-terrorism agent who's in charge of protecting the librarians."

TNT's plot synopsis for the new series includes this description of Wyle's character: "Prior to taking the job, he was a bookish nerd with 22 academic degrees and absolutely no social skills. As Librarian, however, he managed to use his extraordinary knowledge, successfully recovering ancient artifacts and, in the process, saving the world from unspeakable evil on more than one occasion. Over the last decade he's gone from bookworm to dashing swashbuckler, one of the secret heroes of the hidden world. As great as Flynn is, the job of Librarian has become more than one person can handle."

Books & Authors

Awards: L.A. Times Festival of Books, SAL Winners

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books annual book prizes have been awarded:

Biography: Marie Arana for Bolivar: American Liberator (Simon & Schuster)
Current Interest: Sheri Fink for Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Crown)
Fiction: Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being (Viking)
The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur Books)
Graphic Novel/Comics: Ulli Lust for Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life (Fantagraphics)
History: Christopher Clark for The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (HarperCollins)
Mystery/Thriller: J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, for The Cuckoo's Calling (Mulholland Books)
Poetry: Ron Padgett for Collected Poems (Coffee House Press)
Science & Technology: Alan Weisman for Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? (Little, Brown)
YA Literature: Gene Luen Yang for Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)

Susan Straight, "a tireless supporter and creator of Southern California literary culture," won the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. The Innovator's Award, which spotlights "cutting-edge business models, technology or applications of narrative art," was presented to writer and activist John Green.


The inaugural Sherry Prowda Literary Champion Award, sponsored by Seattle Arts & Lectures, has been presented to Lee Soper and Book-It Repertory Theatre. Named for Sherry Prowda, who founded Seattle Arts & Lectures in 1987, the award honors Prowda's "vision of a future in which imaginative acts such as reading, writing, and creative thinking are indispensable to a curious, engaged, democratic society, and her leadership as a champion of the literary arts."

Lee Soper, who is 90, was head of the University Book Store, a founder of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and longtime board member of the University of Washington Press. The organization cited him for nurturing "the careers of many writers as well as numerous others in publishing and bookselling. His work helped establish the culture that has made Seattle the literary-loving city we know today, and he was a key advisor for Sherry Prowda when she launched Seattle Arts & Lectures' first season in 1988."

Book-It Repertory Theatre was cited for its dedication "to transforming great literature into great theatre through simple and sensitive production and to inspiring its audiences to read. The company has been championing national and local writers for 24 years."

Book Review

Review: Baudelaire's Revenge

Baudelaire's Revenge by Bob Van Laerhoven, trans. by Brian Doyle (Pegasus Books, $25.95 hardcover, 9781605985480, April 15, 2014)

For some readers, the last time they heard the name Baudelaire may have been when Lemony Snicket created his amazing Baudelaire orphans and the series of unfortunate events that plagued them. For poetry lovers, the name has different--but still dark--connotations: the flowers of death and brooding poems of French writer Charles Baudelaire. For Belgian novelist Bob Van Laerhoven, the poet's work and life provide a rich, atmospheric background for Baudelaire's Revenge--his first novel to be translated into English from his native Flemish, and winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Fiction (2007).

It's 1870. The Franco-Prussian War (which France will eventually lose) has just broken out and Paris is in chaos. Middle-aged police inspector Paul Lefèvre, on his way to visit one of his favorite cocottes, hears a scream coming from a brothel. There he finds the body of a man with an unusual tattoo. Near the dead man is a sheet of paper with handwritten lines by Lefèvre's favorite poet, Charles Baudelaire--who himself died three years prior. Having once attended a reading by the "deathly pale poet," who signed a book for the detective, Lefèvre recognizes the handwriting as Baudelaire's own. The brothel's female concierge tells Lefèvre an "extremely beautiful" hooded Ursuline nun, with the face of a "porcelain doll," had visited earlier to pray for the souls of the women. The game is afoot.

A second man, decapitated, is found in a catacomb. He was a writer. The body was luridly, horrifically augmented after death to give it a female physical appearance. Another piece of paper with Baudelaire's verse is found nearby, in the "handwriting of a dead man"--Baudelaire again. When a third victim is found dead on Baudelaire's grave, Lefèvre has no choice but to believe the killer has a personal motive. It seems impossible, but could it be that the dead poet is seeking revenge?

Letters and journal entries inserted in the narrative help gradually fill in the gaps as Lefèvre closes in on the killer. Although rather lurid and a bit hard to stomach in places, this gritty, detail-rich historical mystery novel involves the reader in a subtle narrative web. Van Laerhoven weaves in some of this historical period's favorite supernatural elements--magic, exotic poisons, séances and ghosts--to create an eerie, fin-de-siècle atmosphere worthy of Poe, Joris-Karl Huysmans and other "decadent" writers of that era. --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: This complex mystery from an award-winning Belgian author joins history and literary history to create a sly, smart revenge tale.

Powered by: Xtenit