Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Random House Studio: Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Shadow Mountain: Graysen Foxx and the Treasure of Principal Redbeard (Graysen Foxx, School Treasure Hunter) by J. Scott Savage


St. Martin's Press: The Hank Show: The Amazing True Story of the Man Who Built the Future But Couldn't Outrun His Past by McKenzie Funk

Tor Books: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Little Simon Chapter Books


Open Books in Chicago Moving into Literacenter

Open Books, the literacy nonprofit in Chicago, Ill., is moving its bookstore into Literacenter, the Chicago Literacy Alliance's three-story, 38,000-square-feet space on West Lake Street in the West Loop area that will open in May. The bookstore will be an anchor tenant.

The Chicago Literacy Alliance, a nonprofit association representing more than 90 Chicago literacy organizations, said that the new space is "the first collaborative workspace in the United States for groups advancing literacy initiatives." Literacenter will provide office space, meeting rooms, lounge and event spaces, back office services and educational programming for Chicago Literary Alliance's member organizations.

Opened in 2009, Open Books is currently located in the River North area.

Broadleaf Books: Before the Streetlights Come On: Black America's Urgent Call for Climate Solutions by Heather McTeer Toney

New England: Sales Slip as Snow Piles Up

At Sheafe Street Books in Portsmouth, N.H.

In a story about the successive snowstorms in the past three weeks that have dumped more than six feet of snow in Massachusetts and caused an estimated $1 billion in lost revenues, the Boston Globe focused on small businesses, including Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, where sales have fallen 25% "during the stormy period." Co-owner Dana Brigham told the paper, "With the snow, people are just worn-out and frazzled. They aren't going out for dinner, a movie, and a browse at the bookstore."

The store has had to cancel signings and readings, booksellers have trouble getting in on time--or getting in--and huge snow banks behind the store make deliveries and garbage removal difficult. "All these ordinary things become much more difficult," Brigham commented. "And it seems like every day, there's another bad forecast."

Last weekend's storm, which dumped another foot of snow and more in parts of Massachusetts, disrupted Valentine's Day, leading Governor Charlie Baker to declare this week "Valentine's Week" and urge residents to patronize local businesses. Now the state is coping with bitter cold and high winds--and another one to three inches of snow are predicted for today in Boston.


In a post on Beacon Broadside, Beacon Press associate publisher Tom Hallock outlined how "the 16" of snow we just received, on top of the 80" we already had--most of which arrived in the past three weeks--has changed the way we live and work. We are experiencing the world we've created by our collective failure to address climate change and invest in public transportation. Our offices have been closed 5 of the past 15 workdays."

At Toad Hall, Rockport, Mass.

Although business continues to be conducted--with the help of conference calls and the Internet--"we are living and working differently, though, adapting to this change in our environment." Staff sometimes work at home and deal with frozen pipes, ice dams, closed daycare and "snow-bound nannies." The Radical King editor "Cornel West had to take a red eye to get to Chicago ahead of a blizzard there, and drew 2,000 people to an event that happened at the height of the storm. A bookseller from Seminary Co-op arrived on skis to handle book sales."

Ever the publisher, Hallock recommended a 1990 Beacon title that "warned us about the world in which we are now learning to live." It's The Greenhouse Trap: What We're Doing to the Atmosphere and How We Can Slow Global Warming (World Resources Institute Guide to the Environment) by Francesca Lyman.

He concluded: "I write this just having spent four hours clearing snow from our driveway and sidewalks where the snow is now shoulder height. We work with neighbors to dig out cars and remove icicles, in one case by using a hair dryer on a selfie-type stick. Now, my wife and I are going to use the roof rake to clear the roof of our house. We learn to use new tools for the new times in which we now live...."

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

BAM to Open Stores in Ohio and Maryland

Books-A-Million will open a 7,800-square-foot store at SouthPark Mall in Strongsville, Ohio, next month. reported that it will be the first bookseller in SouthPark since Waldenbooks closed in 2010. A nearby Borders store shut its doors in 2011. The grand opening of the new BAM store is scheduled for March 7.

"We are extremely excited to bring a bookstore back to SouthPark Mall. It is the No. 1 type of store requested," said Andy Selesnik, a mall spokesman.  


Columbia, Md., will get a new, 9,634-square-foot BAM store at the Mall in Columbia in April, CBS Baltimore reported.

University of California Press: Weed Rules: Blazing the Way to a Just and Joyful Marijuana Policy by Jay Wexler

BEA Sets Adult Author Breakfast Menu

The adult author breakfast at BookExpo America, which takes place Thursday, May 28, 8-9:30 a.m. at the Javits Center, will feature Lee Child, author of Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel (Delacorte); Diana Nyad, author of Find a Way: The Story of One Wild and Precious Life (Knopf); and Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York: The Stories (St. Martin's). The master of ceremonies is Kunal Nayyar (who plays Dr. Raj Koothrappali on The Big Bang Theory), whose as-yet-untitled memoir will be published by Atria in September.

Obituary Notes: Philip Levine; Craig Jones

Former U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine, "whose work was vibrantly, angrily and often painfully alive with the sound, smell and sinew of heavy manual labor," died Saturday, the New York Times reported. He was 87. Levine won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Simple Truth, as well as two National Book Awards (Ashes: Poems New & Old in 1980 and What Work Is in 1991) and two National Book Critics Circle Awards (Ashes and, in 1979, for 7 Years From Somewhere).

In the Times, Dwight Garner observed that Levine's death "is a serious blow for American poetry, in part because he so vividly evoked the drudgery and hardships of working-class life in America, and in part because this didn't pull his poetry down into brackishness." He also noted that Levine "never shed his outsider sensibility, his awareness of class in American life. 'I am now a kind of archive of people, places and things that no longer exist,' he said. 'I carry them around with me, and if I get them on paper I give them at least some kind of existence.' "

From "Our Valley":

You have to remember this isn't your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.


Craig Jones, bookseller at the Reader's Loft, Green Bay, Wis., for 20 years, died on February 11 from liver cancer. He was 65.

Jones "will be missed deeply by those who knew and loved him," the store said. "On any given day, many loyal customers who became friends would find their way to the store to order books, trade stories and ideas, or simply browse the shelves because Craig's gentle nature drew them to the door. He became known as 'the face' of the Reader's Loft due to his articulate, graceful and poised manner of giving interviews or introducing authors.... The family and friends of the Reader's Loft, and the community at large, will deeply miss Mr. Craig D. Jones but are so thankful to have known such an extraordinary, renaissance man." Last year, Jones spoke on C-Span2's Book TV about the Reader's Loft, independent bookstores, trends in publishing and more. See it here.

The Reader's Loft will host a gathering on Sunday, February 22, at 3 p.m., to share stories and pay respects to Jones.


Image of the Day: Scott McCloud

Kicking off the 2015 Rain Taxi Reading Series with a bang: more than 200 people attended a discussion with Rain Taxi editor Eric Lorberer (l.) and comics genius Scott McCloud about McCloud's new 500-page graphic novel, The Sculptor (First Second Books), in Saint Paul, Minn., this weekend. Books were provided by Common Good Books.

Ivy Bookshop's Balancing Act

The Baltimore Sun asked five questions of Ed Berlin, co-owner of the Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, Md. These answers stood out:

"When we started, we looked at it and we decided there were enough customers, a critical mass of customers who were willing to pay to have access to [a knowledgeable staff]. Who wanted not just bare-bones remainder kind of inventory, but a full inventory, all the good stuff. That they were willing to pay retail for that. And I think we were right....

"You're going to lose some people who just can't afford it. I'm all for buying as inexpensively as possible. But I think it was Taylor Swift who said, you know, people have to pay for music. Where does it say that people can just get it for free? It will stop coming to you."

At the same time, Berlin added, "Our biggest challenge is to keep books affordable to the larger part of the buying public. Right now, you go to that table and you buy a hardback book--$27. I don't know about you, but I'm not buying a $27 book. I'm waiting for the paperback. So more and more of the store is paperback."

'Absolutely Not Dumb Questions to Ask a Bookseller'

In a blog post headlined "An incomplete list of absolutely NOT dumb questions to ask a bookseller," the Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, Tenn., noted that "we spend much of our day answering questions posed by you, our customers. Many of those questions are presented almost apologetically, with the implied preface 'I recognize this may be a dumb question, but....' Others are more direct, preemptively begging pardon with a preamble along the lines of, 'this may be a really stupid question, but....'"

The logical conclusion: "[I]n the realm of books, we're magicians."

BAM President's Picks: Dead Wake and Bettyville

Terrance G. Finley, president and CEO of Books-A-Million, has chosen two titles for his President's Picks: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (Crown, $28, 9780307408860) and Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman (Viking, $27.95, 9780525427209).

Concerning Dead Wake, Finley said: "As he has shown in his previous bestsellers, Erik Larson presents an incredibly compelling narrative brimming with strong characters, rich historical detail and emotional punch. We may think we know the story of the Lusitania, but Larson captivates us with a world of suspense, intrigue and drama that is guaranteed to delight readers."

On Bettyville, he commented: "I read George Hodgman's extraordinary memoir in one seamless, glorious sitting. You will want to take your time and savor the experience with this amazing family, this moving story and its timeless lessons. The story is full of love, grace and tenderness. Unforgettable and engaging in its humor and in its heart."

Media and Movies

Movie: The Taliban Shuffle

Billy Bob Thornton and Alfred Molina have been added to a cast that includes Tina Fey, Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman in Paramount's untitled comedy based on Kim Barker's memoir The Taliban Shuffle. The Wrap reported that the project, directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa from a script by Robert Carlock, is currently under production in New Mexico.

Citing "the brouhaha over The Interview," Word & Film noted that the project "currently remains untitled--or rather, it's listed on IMDB as 'Untitled Tina Fey Project.' I say keep it that way; considering the scrutiny this production will be subjected to along the way, perhaps it's wise to stick with the vaguest possible name."

TV: Minority Report

The Fox pilot Minority Report, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, "has recruited a cast member from the Steven Spielberg-directed movie to reprise his role in the series adaptation," reported: Daniel London (playing Wally the Caretaker in both versions) has been cast, along with Li Jun Li. The TV project "is envisioned as a sequel to the movie," set 10 years after the end of Precrime in D.C. Mark Mylod is directing the pilot from a script by Max Borenstein.

Media Heat: David Duchovny on the Talk

This morning on CBS This Morning: Lisa Green, author of On Your Case: A Comprehensive, Compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman's Life (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062307996).


This morning on the Today Show: Mike Lupica, author of The Only Game (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, 9781481409957).


Today on Diane Rehm: David Thomson, author of Why Acting Matters (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300195781).


Today on the Talk: David Duchovny, author of Holy Cow (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24, 9780374172077).


Today on Tavis Smiley: William H. Frey, author of Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America (Brookings Institution Press, $24, 9780815726494).


Today on NPR's Marketplace: Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman, authors of Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781476772295).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress: A Novel (Howard Books, $26, 9781476790220).

Also on the Today Show: Paige McKenzie, author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl (Weinstein Books, $16, 9781602862722), which will be published March 24.


Tomorrow morning on VH1's Big Morning Buzz: Issa Rae, author of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (37 INK/Atria, $26, 9781476749051). She will also appear on MSNBC's Reid Report.


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Anya Kamenetz, author of The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing--but You Don't Have to Be (PublicAffairs, $25.99, 9781610394413).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Stuart H. Smith, author of Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America (BenBella Books, $24.95, 9781939529237).


Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Neil Patrick Harris, author of Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Crown Archetype, $26, 9780385346993).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Andy Cohen, author of The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (Holt, $26, 9781627792288).

Books & Authors

Awards: Kitschies

Finalists have been announced for the Kitschies, which recognize "the year's most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic." The winners of the prizes, sponsored by Fallen London, will be named on March 4.

Book Review

Review: Act of God

Act of God by Jill Ciment (Pantheon, $24 hardcover, 9780307911704, March 3, 2015)

Small moments in ordinary life often escalate into something much larger and unexpected in novels by Jill Ciment (Heroic Measures). In Act of God, the story grows from the discovery of a tiny mushroom that identical twin sisters--64 years old, neither married nor with children--find sprouting in the closet of their deceased mother's rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. The fungus is of grave concern, but so, too, is the closet, as it houses a precious archive of letters their mother wrote for a once-popular syndicated advice column, "Consultations with Dr. Mimi."

Edith--the "white-haired," older twin by 17 minutes--is a staid, retired law librarian, who had lived in the apartment with their mother her entire life. When the sisters first discover the mushroom, Edith is in the process of compiling the letters to submit for exhibit at the Smithsonian. Kat, on the other hand, is a romantic free spirit, a "blond with white roots." She has recently returned to the city after a yearlong vagabond existence with high hopes to secure a book deal for the letters.

Edith sees Kat as her "poor delusional sister" who had always "mistaken irresponsibility for daring, eccentricity for originality, obsession for intimacy." But beyond their differences, they both agree the mysterious, now suddenly spreading, fungus needs to be stopped; Mother's letters are at stake. Edith repeatedly calls the owner of the apartment building, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress on "the kind side of middle age," whose claim to fame is a commercial for the first-ever female sexual-enhancement pill designed for "college-educated woman between forty and sixty whose husbands or boyfriends already took erectile dysfunction pills." Self-important Vida, however, is too busy pursuing her acting career to respond to Edith's repeated pleas for help or even to notice that the closet in her own apartment is being secretly occupied by a Russian teen, the former au pair of Vida's agent and lawyer, who was fired for giving the agent's baby a "tiny chip of Ambien to help him nap."

Rich, quirky characterizations, witty insights into human nature and cruel twists of fate metamorphose the initial absurdity of the narrative into a profound, suspenseful story. The virulent fungus gains strength as calamity spreads beyond the apartment. Ill-equipped hazmat teams try to quell citywide pandemonium while the growing plague wreaks widespread havoc and claims lives in the process.

The story examines how larger-than-life events can strip human beings of everything--especially those steeped in the trappings of the modern world--in order to fill their souls with empathy, compassion and the healing powers of love and forgiveness. Insurance companies ultimately declare the devastating toll of the fungus as an "act of God," and perhaps a higher power had a hand, too, in the unexpected personal transformations of those inhabiting this thoroughly entertaining and unforgettable microcosm that reflects the realities of life. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A mysterious, virulent fungus originating from the closet of a Brooklyn apartment building becomes a calamitous, life-changing force.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in January

The following were the most popular book club books during January based on votes from more than 120,000 book club readers from more than 39,000 book clubs registered at

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
2. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
3. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
4. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
5. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
6. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
8. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
9. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
10. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Rising stars:
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

[Many thanks to!]

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