Also published on this date: Monday, November 10, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Room

Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 10, 2014

Algonquin Young Readers: If I Promise You Wings by A.K. Small

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Quotation of the Day

Making Sure 'My Bookstore Will Stick Around'

"To me, books will never die. Humans are tactile, so there will always be those who love real books. I love selling books because I believe they open the mind to possibilities, to empathy, and inspire you to be a better person. So I will make sure that even after I'm long gone, my bookstore will stick around."

--Kenny Leck, co-founder of Singapore indie bookstore BooksActually, from a piece he wrote for the A List.

Apple TV+: Lessons in Chemistry


Books 'N' More in Ohio Closes

After 18 years in business, Books 'N' More, Wilmington, Ohio, has closed its 2,000-square-foot storefront, WYSO reported. Owners Dan and Marla Stewart will continue in business online. On the store's website, they said, "We will continue to support our community and provide both books and e-books, support author visits to our area, and provide books for schools and other group organizations."

Asked about their favorite moments, Dan Stewart remembered when Glenn Beck appeared and signed more than 1,000 copies of his book. Marla Stewart remembered the store's Happy Potter events, particularly in 2007 when "we probably had about 10,000 people."

Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley told WYSO that "it's horrible to lose Books 'N' More. They've been like an anchor in the downtown. If you go to a shopping mall, a strip mall, there's always an anchor store. Well, Books 'N' More has been the anchor of the downtown area. They've been it for so long. I can't tell you how many times we've blocked Main Street down because Books 'N' More was having a celebration. And there would be literally thousands of people.... Books 'N' More has been the heartbeat of downtown at times. We're going to miss them, miss them something terribly."

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Amazon: Big Loss at Little A; Best Books of 2014

Ed Park

Ed Park, hired as a senior editor by Amazon Publishing in 2011 when it aimed to become a house to rival the big New York houses, is joining the Penguin Press as executive editor, the New York Times reported. It called the move "the latest setback for Amazon's publishing aspirations."

Although the publisher has 15 imprints, it has been most successful publishing genre fiction.

Park, "a fixture of New York's literary scene for 20 years," was given his own imprint, Little A, and published, among other titles, Actors Anonymous by James Franco and Godforsaken Idaho by Shawn Vestal, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

But, according to the Times, Park found it difficult to acquire the books "in a publishing ecosystem that largely views the online retailer as a rapacious competitor." Park said this wasn't the main reason for his move, but said, "I will not miss those obstacles."

He added: "There were times when I felt like what I was doing was a bit of an outlier. To Amazon Publishing's credit, any book I felt strongly about, they let me pursue, and that kind of autonomy was rare in that climate."

Other departures from Amazon Publishing's New York operations have included its head, Larry Kirshbaum, and Julia Cheiffetz, who hired Ed Park and left Amazon in July and is now executive editor of Dey Street Books.

Amazon indicated that Little A will be led by Tara Parsons, former head of Harlequin Mira.


Amazon's editors have picked the 100 best books of 2014. The best book of the year is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press), which senior books editor Chris Schluep described this way: " 'Lydia is dead.' From the first sentence of Celeste Ng's stunning debut, we know that the oldest daughter of the Chinese-American Lee family has died. What follows is a novel that explores alienation, achievement, race, gender, family, and identity--as the police must unravel what has happened to Lydia, the Lee family must uncover the sister and daughter that they hardly knew. There isn't a false note in this book, and my only concern in describing my profound admiration for Everything I Never Told You is that it might raise unachievable expectations in the reader. But it's that good. Achingly, precisely, and sensitively written."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 09.25.23

Courtney Muller, Former BEA Exec, Joins Urban Expositions

Courtney Muller

Courtney Muller, who for many years oversaw BookExpo America, most recently as senior v-p at Reed Exhibitions, has joined Urban Expositions as executive v-p. She will be responsible for much of the day-to-day management of the company, new acquisitions, launches and partnerships. At Reed, besides BEA, Muller oversaw trade shows in a range of industries.

Urban Expositions runs 21 gift, decorative accessory, souvenir, and resort merchandise trade shows and has expanded recently into food service, art, gaming and aviation.

Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin

Obituary Note: George E. Slusser

George E. Slusser, "whose determination to develop the study of science fiction as an academic discipline led to the growth in size, scope and international reputation of University of California, Riverside's Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy," died November 4. He was 75. Slusser was widely known for his scholarship in the field, writing or editing nearly 40 books.

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

The Book Boom in Oakland, Calif.

Luann Stauss at Laurel Book Store
Luann Stauss at the new Laurel Book Store.

Oakland, Calif., a place that has long welcomed creative citizens and businesses--partly due to its location across the Bay from a city with some of the highest rent prices in the country--is enjoying a book boom. Laurel Book Store, which had been in the city's Laurel district for 13 years, recently moved to a new location in downtown Oakland, into a space four times the size of the original store. It was time to expand, said owner Luan Stauss, and the store's new landlord, the city of Oakland, could not have been more welcoming, offering six months' free rent and a dollar-for-dollar match on the $30,000 capital improvements the store made to renovate the former bank space. Laurel Book Store re-opened at the end of October in a flatiron-style building on Frank Ogawa Plaza, across from City Hall and on the BART transit line.

Across the Plaza, another book neighbor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, moved to an expansive, open-space top-floor office suite from the wood-paneled space it had occupied in downtown San Francisco for much of its 22-year-history.

Justin Carder at E.M. Wolfman
Justin Carder at E.M. Wolfman

Around the corner, across from the iconic Oakland Tribune building, a 700-square-foot boutique called E.M. Wolfman General Interest Small Bookstore, with an emphasis on small press titles and an art gallery space, opened in April. Wolfman owner Justin Carder, former SF bookseller and director of publishing for the writing-tutoring nonprofit 826 Valencia, said he was excited to have new book neighbors. "The more the merrier," he said.

Oakland elected a new mayor last week, but many credit the revival of its downtown to Jerry Brown, who, as mayor in the late 1990s, instituted the "elegant diversity plan" that was designed to bring in more than 10,000 new residents to support more businesses. It has been more than 20 years since downtown Oakland had a bookstore selling predominantly new books, and Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, sees the recent openings as "the story of two revivals."

The Oakland boom, Landon pointed out, is an example of the independent bookstore renaissance across the country in recent years. "Part of it"--as was the case with Laurel Book Store--"is that landlords are saying, 'yes, an independent bookstore is a viable business I want to give a lease to.' " And, Landon noted, Stauss has a solid bookselling track record in Oakland.

The view from Berrett-Koeler's new offices.
Laurel Book Store is out of the picture, to the right, across Frank Ogawa Plaza.

John Evans, co-owner of Diesel, a Bookstore, which celebrated its 25th birthday this fall at a lavish party in the store it has occupied in the Rockridge section of Oakland for 20 years, has watched several of the city's neighborhoods blossom with independent businesses. "Ideally, you end up with a great bookstore in every neighborhood," he said. Rockridge--which is also home to Pegasus Books--is about to welcome an independent hardware store on College Avenue. "These are the kinds of businesses that really create and ground the neighborhood," Evans said.

Elsewhere in Oakland, more bookstores have flourished. Up in Montclair Village--a section of the city tucked just under the famous hills--A Great Good Place for Books has firmly established itself as an anchor in the shopping district. And in the Grand Lake area--named for a historic movie theater near the city's Lake Merritt--Walden Pond Books has added substantially more new books to its mostly used inventory. There is also a brand-new, one-day Oakland Book Festival in the works for next May; the organizers are reaching out to booksellers and other literary organizations to participate.

Back in the city center, Stauss is happily discovering that she still sees many of her Laurel district customers who work downtown, and is meeting locals eager to browse both her larger general bookstore and Wolfman's small shop. Laurel is planning a lunchtime event series and Wolfman just started an after-work book club.

About the only thing Oaklanders do not like about the cultural boom is the media's insistence on comparing Oakland to another city across water from a literary giant. But Evans flipped the comparison on its head, as befits the proud resident of a city with a strong history all its own: "I've always said Brooklyn is Oakland East." --Bridget Kinsella


Image of the Day: Vroman's Walk of Fame

Over the weekend, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., celebrated its 120th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, Vroman's invited author Lisa See to be the first to inscribe her name and handprints in cement on the Author Walk of Fame outside of the  store.

Tattered Cover: Denver's Top Place to Shop for the Holidays

Yelp ranked the Tattered Cover Book Store #1, based on its users' preferences, among Denver's "top 10 places to shop for the holidays," the Denver Business Journal reported.

"Denver businesses are overflowing with tons of amazing local gift ideas," said Yelp community manager Frances Grinsfelder, adding: "One of the reasons for Denver's growing popularity is the civic pride found in everything from the local breweries to the locally-made goods, which are all proudly supported and sold at local shops."

Cool Idea of the Day: Role Reversal for These Cat Pics

Molly Bloom wearing her petcam.

Annie Bloom's Books' (Portland, Ore.) furriest employee recently captured a new angle on cat pics: Molly Bloom wore a lightweight camera set to snap photos at regular intervals, giving a feline-eye view of the store and its customers. The camera was lent by Princeton Architectural Press, publishers of PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends ($14.95, 9781616892586). Tech-savvy Molly also has her own Facebook page and book recommendations.

Personnel Changes at Holt

At Holt:

Tracy Locke has joined the company as publicist at large. She was formerly associate publisher at the Penguin Press.
Caroline Nitz has been promoted to publicist. She was formerly an associate publicist.

Media and Movies

PBS to Livestream Miami Book Fair International

PBS will stream live coverage of three days of the Miami Book Fair International, which takes place November 16-23. The New York Times reported that Jeffrey Brown, culture correspondent of PBS NewsHour, and author Kelly Corrigan will host. The live streaming will occur Friday-Sunday, November 21-23, the key part of the fair. Coverage will be archived and made available on demand through PBS's video apps,, local station websites and, among others.

Fair co-founder Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books told the newspaper that the fair "jumped on it" when approached, adding that organizers want to work with the American Booksellers Association to make some coverage available for ABA members' websites.

Rich Fahle, executive producer of the PBS coverage and a former Borders executive, said that the book industry hasn't "always been as aggressive about creating a media opportunity around their business. We were looking for something a little bit different, with more energy." He said the fair provided "an amazing collection of people and stories in one place."

Detroit Public Television had the idea for the coverage and is producing it.

C-Span's Book TV has provided live coverage of many book fairs, including the Miami Book Fair International, but focuses on political and historical books and the book industry.

Media Heat: Presidents Bush on Today

This morning on the Today Show: George W. Bush, author of 41: A Portrait of My Father (Crown, $28, 9780553447781). He will also appear on tomorrow's show alongside George H.W. Bush.

Also on Today: Anjelica Huston, author of Watch Me: A Memoir (Scribner, $27.99, 9781476760346).


This morning on Fox & Friends: John McCain, co-author of Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476759654). He will also appear today on the O'Reilly Factor and tomorrow on CNN's New Day, Fox Radio's Kilmeade & Friends and Imus in the Morning.


This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Margarita Carrillo Arronte, author of Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon Press, $49.95, 9780714867526).


Today on Marketplace: Kim Zetter, author of Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon (Crown, $25, 9780770436179).


Today on the Alan Colmes Show: Eric Metaxas, author of Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525954422).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Margaret Atwood, author of Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (Nan A. Talese, $25.95, 9780385539128).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Bruce Springsteen and Frank Caruso, author and illustrator of Outlaw Pete (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501103858).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Andy Cohen, author of The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (Holt, $26, 9781627792288). He will also appear on the Today Show and tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Stephen King, author of Revival (Scribner, $30, 9781476770383).

Also on Today: Bella Thorne, author of Autumn Falls (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780385744331).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Bill Nye, author of Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250007131).


Tomorrow on NPR's Here & Now: Patrick K. O'Donnell, author of First SEALs: The Untold Story of the Forging of America's Most Elite Unit (Da Capo, $25.99, 9780306821721).


Tomorrow on WBUR's On Point: Yochi Dreazen, author of The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War (Crown, $26, 9780385347839).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Chuck Todd, author of The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316079570).


Tomorrow on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Jimmy Page, author of Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page (Genesis Publications, $60, 9781905662326).


Tomorrow on the View: Jorge Rodriquez, author of The Diabetes Solution: How to Control Type 2 Diabetes and Reverse Prediabetes Using Simple Diet and Lifestyle Changes (Ten Speed Press, $24.99, 9781607746164).


Tomorrow on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live: Dick Cavett, author of Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks (Holt, $26, 9780805099775).


Tomorrow on Access Hollywood: Diane von Furstenberg, author of The Woman I Wanted to Be (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451651546). She will also appear tomorrow night on the Colbert Report.


Tomorrow night on Late Night with Seth Meyers: Senator Elizabeth Warren, author of A Fighting Chance (Metropolitan Books, $28, 9781627790529).

Movies: The Shack; Interstellar Reading List

Stuart Hazeldine (Exam) is directing a film adaptation of William Paul Young's novel The Shack, scripted by John Fusco and produced by Gil Netter through Netter Productions and Brad Cummings. reported that Lionsgate acquired the book last year and described it as "a strong fit for producer Netter as he came off the Ang Lee-directed adaptation of the Yann Martel novel Life of Pi, as well as The Blind Side and Marley & Me. All three of these were tough adaptations of personal stories, and this one is no different."


"Interstellar Reading List: What's on the movie's big bookshelf?" asked Yahoo, noting that in the newly released film, "which takes place at an unspecified point in the future after an environmental disaster has upended our civilization, we spend a fair amount of time in the book-lined bedroom of young Murphy (played as a child by Mackenzie Foy and as an adult by Jessica Chastain), the daughter of intrepid astronaut–turned–farmer–turned–astronaut again, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). Though they may appear to be set decoration at first, those dusty tomes end up playing a key role in the film, one that an e-reader definitely couldn't fulfill. While you'd have to have freeze-frame capabilities to see every book on those shelves, here are the titles that jumped out at us in theaters."

Books & Authors

Awards: Swiss Book Prize, Barbara Jefferis Winners

Koala by Lukas Bärfuss (Wallstein Verlag) has won the Swiss Book Prize, which carries an award of 30,000 francs (about $30,935). The judges praised the book for connecting in a bold way "great themes like suicide, colonialism and meritocracy."

The runners up, who each won 2,500 francs ($2,575), were:

Schlafgänger by Dorothee Elmiger (Dumont Verlag)
Der beruhigende Klang von explodierendem Kerosin by Heinz Helle (Suhrkamp Verlag)
Unger üs by Guy Krneta (Der gesunde Menschenversand)
Panischer Frühling by Gertrud Leutenegger (Suhrkamp Verlag)


Margo Lanagan's Sea Hearts and Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest were joint winners of this year's $50,000 (US$43,190) Barbara Jefferis Award, which recognizes "the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society." The judges praised Sea Hearts as "a tale that is both intensely of its time and moment, but also explores idealization, history, miscegenation and loss"; and The Night Guest for being "brilliantly original, and perfectly achieved."

Book Review

Review: The Laughing Monsters

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 hardcover, 9780374280598, November 2014)

It's a long way from the life of a railroad worker in the western United States of the early 20th century to the world of double-crossing double agents in contemporary Africa. Denis Johnson's ability to make an imaginative leap of that magnitude from his Pulitzer Prize-nominated novella, Train Dreams, to The Laughing Monsters is further evidence of his versatility and talent.

"Since nine-eleven, chasing fairy tales has turned into a serious business. An industry. A lucrative one." That comment--addressed to Roland Nair, the half-Danish, half-American NATO operative who's traveled from Amsterdam to Sierra Leone to reconnect with Michael Adriko, an African-born, American-trained mercenary and former ally--aptly sums up the flavor of this novel. It's a story that enmeshes the two men in schemes involving the sale of valuable government secrets and enriched uranium, their attempted execution alternating between the comical and the deadly.

As Nair and Adriko traverse the continent, accompanied by the latter's American fiancée, the alluring (especially to Nair) Davidia St. Claire, their roles shift from pursuers to pursued. Along the way, they encounter a host of dangerous characters that include Mossad agents, United States Special Forces and members of local militias. Johnson keeps readers guessing about who is playing whom, and wondering whether this uneasy friendship can survive the plots, counterplots and the pressures of the hostile environment. "Information was an onion, to be peeled back in layers," says Nair. That same metaphor could be applied to Johnson's narrative, which relies on Nair's smart, but occasionally bewildered, voice.

Johnson's terse, propulsive dialogue recalls Elmore Leonard, while the atmosphere he creates is reminiscent of a John le Carré novel. Whether he's describing the frequent power outages and sudden, violent downpours in Freetown, where "nothing gets dry but the bread," or the desperation of a dying Congo village ruled by a woman who's enthroned high in a tree, Johnson succeeds in creating a vivid sense of place.

"Reality is an impression, a belief. Any magician knows that," Adriko reminds Nair as he draws him deeper into the thicket of intrigue. There are no good guys or bad ones in the shadow land inhabited by these often-desperate men, and Johnson resists rendering moral judgments on their audacious intrigues. Instead, he's content to create a world few of us would want to inhabit permanently but will be more than happy to live in for the few hours it takes to read this clever, diverting novel. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Two men scheme for riches in the complex and dangerous world of modern-day Africa.

Wicked Son: Adam Unrehearsed by Don Futterman
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