Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


After Fire, AK Press Seeks Help

AK Press, the anarchist publishing and distribution collective in Oakland, Calif., suffered extensive water and smoke damage on early Saturday morning after a fire in an adjacent building. On its website, AK Press wrote, in part, "We still aren't sure the exact amount of stock that is ruined, or how long our business will be disrupted while we work hard to get back on our feet. But we do know that we've lost a lot, and even in the best of times, we always need your support. Especially now when we aren't able to carry on with our normal day-to-day business, every bit helps."

The press is suggesting that people who want to help can join the Friends of AK Press, a monthly subscription service whose members receive every book that AK Press publishes. People can also make donations to the press and to other businesses and individuals affected by the fire, including 1984 Printing.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Scholastic Buys Interest in Interactive Kids Publisher

Scholastic has bought a "minority equity interest" in Make Believe Ideas, the U.K. publisher of books for babies and children that encourage creativity and promote learning.

The companies' first co-branded books for early learners from newborns to age 5 will be unveiled next week at the Bologna Children's Book Fair and will have a global English-language release this fall. The list features brightly colored, interactive books that encourage activity-based learning in multiple formats, including lift-the-flap, finger tracing, sound-enriched, touch-and-feel, write-and-wipe, as well as books with press-out models and sticker activities.

"Make Believe Ideas' focus on early learning and creativity and its engaging product line extends our publishing program and fits seamlessly into our distribution channels at Scholastic," said Ellie Berger, executive v-p, Scholastic, and president, trade publishing.

"Make Believe Ideas has worked closely with Scholastic for many years now," said Jo Bicknell, founder of Make Believe Ideas. "And we could not be more delighted to be going into a more formal partnership with the biggest children's book company in the world."

ABFE Children's Art Auction Honors Judy Blume

The annual Children's Book Art Auction, to be held during BEA on May 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (aka Hotel ABA), will honor Judy Blume, whose children's and young adult novels have courted controversy by exploring sex and other mature topics. "It took great courage to open children's literature to the discussion of the problems that face kids in the modern world, and Judy Blume continues to inspire us to fight the efforts to censor what kids want to read," said American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) director Chris Finan.

The auction supports anti-censorship initiatives by ABFE, including the Kids' Right to Read Project and Banned Books Week. Co-sponsors include ABA's ABC Children's Group and Random House Children's Books.

ABFE has asked artists to contribute sketches or finished pieces to the auction. General pieces can be submitted by May 1, with an extended May 15 deadline for pieces honoring Blume. A FAQ and donation form are available online.

Papercuts J.P.'s First 100 Days: Taking Inventory

David Goldberg, whose day job is sales and marketing director at David R. Godine, Publisher, reports on Boston's newest bookstore.

Papercuts J.P., opened on Small Business Saturday 2014 to great fanfare (and more than 2,000 likes on Facebook). In just over three months, the 500-square-foot shop has discovered its community and--in spite of record snow--piled up impressive sales while hosting authorless events, music and community conversations, as well as "untimely" readings by local authors William Martin and Celeste Ng.

Located just off bustling Centre Street in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Papercuts has filled a void, connecting books and readers--many of whom, like the "super-supportive" duo of Gareth and Amanda Cook, work in publishing or are writers themselves.

"People have been enthusiastic that we're here," owner Kate Layte said. "It's blown my expectations completely."

Although she's quick to give credit to the New England Independent Booksellers Association, other shops and wholesalers, Layte noted "Local publishers have been amazing, even hand-delivering books," including Layte's top seller, Dirty Old Boston: Four Decades of a City in Transition by Jim Botticelli (Union Park Press).

In addition to more predicable favorites like Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon (Dey Street Books), Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial) and Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf), Layte highlights brisk sellers from Philip Pullman's and Megan Abbot's backlists along with a series of 12-page zines discovered by Layte's husband--How to Talk to Your Cat About Evolution and How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety.

Good design matters to Layte, who previously worked in production at Little, Brown. The sole book currently displayed at the register is What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund (Vintage), which Layte offers less as an impulse buy than as an opportunity to talk aesthetics with her customers. "I love to point out [that he's the associate art director at Knopf] when someone buys a book he designed."

Like neighboring businesses, Layte locally sources as much as possible, filling the walls and shelves with hyper-local sidelines from artists she's discovered during neighborhood open studios.

The most important lesson from Layte's first 100 days seems to be that change is good--and that more is sometimes, but not always, better. Expanding her children's section, she's keen to present titles that aren't generally sold at neighborhood toy stores, opting for books that are more "under the radar." She commented: "To display books well is really important, and I've had to figure out how to do that here, using every inch of space and rethinking things as I go."

Running an intimate boutique like this is almost like offering up one's own personal bookself, and the warm welcome and early success is obviously gratifying. When asked how she handles receiving without any storage or back office, Layte doesn't hesitate to say, "Quickly."


Image of the Day: Kazuo Ishiguro at the Strand

Kazuo Ishiguro visited the Strand Book Store, New York City, last week for a lunchtime signing event for his newest novel, The Buried Giant (Knopf). More than a hundred fans came to meet him, among them Strand owners Fred Bass and Nancy Bass Wyden (pictured above with Ishiguro).

Cool Idea of the Day: Parnassus Readers Retreat

Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., is organizing its first readers' retreat, to Rivendell House in Sewanee, Tenn., home of the Rivendell Writers' Colony, from Friday, April 17, to Sunday, April 19. Readers are invited to "bring that stack of books you've been meaning to get to" for an all-inclusive weekend of gourmet meals, wine pairings, a guided nature hike, "a surprise or two," and, of course, plenty of reading time.

Rivendell House is located on a bluff overlooking the historic Brinkwood property, once owned by novelist Walker Percy. The manor has five guest rooms, a third-floor suite, two dining rooms, two kitchens, a veranda, an observation deck and a great room with a fireplace. The guest rooms (four of which bear author names: Hemingway, Faulkner, Thoreau and Percy) offer various views and amenities and have private bathrooms. Prices--which include six meals and wine--range from $650 for single-occupancy rooms to $950 for double occupancy.

E-mail Karen Hayes (co-owner of Parnassus Books, with writer Ann Patchett) or call the store at 615-953-2243 to make reservations. A 50% deposit is due within 24 hours of reserving a room. The program is limited to 10 guests.

Personnel Changes at Grand Central Publishing

At Grand Central Publishing:

Andrew Duncan has been promoted to director, online marketing. He has been associate director, online marketing.
Linda Duggins has been promoted to senior director of publicity. She has worked at Grand Central for 13 years, most recently as director of publicity.
Jimmy Franco has been promoted to senior director of publicity. He has worked at Grand Central for more than 20 years, most recently as director of publicity.
Fareeda Bullert has been promoted to associate publicist.

Paul Samuelson has been named deputy director of publicity, Twelve. He joined Twelve in 2013 as publicity manager.

Book Trailer of the Day: The Island of Dr. Libris

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books for Young Readers), from the author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Readers Review All the Light We Cannot See

Tomorrow on Fox Business Network's Opening Bell: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner, $18, 9781439170915).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: readers review All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, $27, 9781476746586).


Tomorrow on the View: Nicole Polizzi, author of Baby Bumps: From Party Girl to Proud Mama, and all the Messy Milestones Along the Way (Running Press, $15, 9780762458004).

TV: Three Days of the Condor; Game of Thrones

David Ellison's Skydance Productions, producing in partnership with MGM and Paramount TV, "is currently shopping" a remake of Sydney Pollack's 1975 movie Three Days of the Condor to networks, "though it's still too early to tell if it will be a miniseries or something with more legs," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. The original film was based on James Grady's novel Six Days of the Condor. Jason Smilovic (Lucky Number Slevin) and Todd Katzberg are writing the new project.


HBO has released two new videos from season 5 of Game of Thrones. The Wrap reported that in the first clip, "Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) asks Varys (Conleth Hill) why the 'Master of Whisperers' freed him from the Red Keep at the end of Season 4," and in the second clip, "Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) seems to be trying to convince Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) to swear fealty to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane)."

Books & Authors

Awards: Folio; Guggenheim-Lehrman; Books for a Better Life

Akhil Sharma won the £40,000 (about $59,870) Folio Prize, which "aims to recognize and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the U.K. during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author's country of origin," for his novel Family Life.

Chair of the judges William Fiennes praised the winner's work as a "lucid, compassionate, quietly funny account of one family's life across continents and cultures, emerged as our winner. Family Life is a masterful novel of distilled complexity: about catastrophe and survival; attachment and independence; the tension between selfishness and responsibility. We loved its deceptive simplicity and rare warmth. More than a decade in the writing, this is a work of art that expands with each re-reading and a novel that will endure."


Alexander Watson has won the second annual Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, honoring the year's "best book in the field of military history," for Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I (Basic Books). The prize carries an award of $50,000 and was presented last night in a ceremony at the New-York Historical Society. Funding for the award is provided by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and by author Lewis E. Lehrman, co-founder of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History.

"This extraordinary book analyzes the first world war from the perspective of the Central Powers, something that is rarely, if ever, done," judging committee chairman Dr. Andrew Roberts said. "In his excavation of 20 archives in five countries, Alexander Watson forces us to re-examine the whole war from a startling angle."


Winners of the Books for a Better Life Awards, sponsored by the New York City-Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, are:

Childcare: The Price of Silence by Liza Long (Hudson Street Press)
Cookbook: Ikaria by Diane Kochilas (Rodale)
First Book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau)
Green: The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson (Rodale)
Inspirational Memoir: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Motivational: Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen (Viking)
Psychology: The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel (Little, Brown)
Relationships: Beyond Addiction by Jeffrey Foote, Carrie Wilkens and Nicole Kosanke (Scribner)
Spiritual: Bulletproof Spirit by Captain Dan Willis (New World Library)
Wellness: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (Metropolitan)

Midwest Connections April Picks

From the Midwest Booksellers Association, three recent Midwest Connections picks. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal:

A Reunion of Ghosts: A Novel by Judith Claire Mitchell (Harper, $26.99, 9780062355881). "A compulsively readable literary masterpiece, A Reunion of Ghosts is the shared confessional of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves at the end of the 20th century, honoring the dark legacy that has haunted their extraordinary family for decades."

Listen & Other Stories by Liam Callanan (Four Way, $17.95, 9781935536543). "The new collection by the acclaimed author of novels The Cloud Atlas and All Saints demands that readers do just what its title asks them: to Listen, as the book crosses the country-and decades-to uncover secrets characters never thought they'd share."

In Mary's Garden by Tina Kugler and Carson Kugler (HMH Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780544272200). "Milwaukee Natives Tina and Carson Kugler present an inviting picture book biography of Wisconsin artist Mary Nohl."

Book Review

Review: Where the Bird Sings Best

Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky, trans. by Alfred MacAdam (Restless Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781632060280, March 31, 2015)

Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean filmmaker who in 1970 wrote, directed and starred in the groundbreaking El Topo, is also a superb novelist. Where the Bird Sings Best follows three generations from both sides of the author's Jewish family--beekeepers on one side, lion tamers on the other--in one gloriously readable, fantastical autobiographical novel.

The saga begins in the Ukraine, when his grandmother's first son tries to escape on a wooden chest from a flooding river. He doesn't realize it's weighted down with the 37 tractates of the Talmud, and drowns. Outspoken grandmother Teresa storms into the synagogue, cursing her religion and giving God a piece of her mind. She never forgives Him, and decides the only thing deserving of her love are fleas--so she begins training seven of them to perform circus acts.

Teresa is just one of the larger-than-life relatives who dominate this deliciously far-fetched, multigenerational saga. With the author's grandfather, an impractical and saintly man, she immigrates to Chile, where he becomes a shoemaker. After his right hand is caught in machinery, he begins to work miracles with the dead hand. Soon he is accompanied by a disembodied, floating rabbi, who offers constant advice. Teresa and the shoemaker's son will be the author's father.

From the other side of the family Jodorowsky introduces Alejandro Prullansky, a gigantic male dancer with long golden curls. He trains in Moscow for ballet until he becomes aware of the pain in the world and goes to work in a brutal meat-packing plant. His daughter, who sings while her father sets himself on fire for one last leap, becomes the author's mother.

One outrageous set piece follows another with an exhilarating density of imagination as Jodorowsky juggles tale within tale with Arabian Nights agility. His enormous cast includes a lion tamer who eats raw meat and sleeps naked with his lions, a dwarf prostitute, an infant of prophecy who inhabits both sexes, an Indian sorcerer who demands a molar from each person he helps as payment and thousands of mine workers marching in demonstration against nightmarish conditions.

"In memory, everything can become miraculous," says Jodorowsky. "The past is not fixed and unalterable. With faith and will we can change it, not erasing its darkness but adding light... to make it more and more beautiful." Exuberant, unrelentingly creative in its folkloric style of heightened reality, the book serves as one gigantic prequel to 2013's The Dance of Reality, his first film in 23 years and a visually dazzling masterpiece in which Jodorowsky re-creates his childhood with his parents. A master of both film and fiction, he expertly harnesses boldly surreal images to capture the gorgeous, brutal essence of life. --Nick DiMartino, Nick's Picks, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

Shelf Talker: Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky tells the fantastical multigenerational saga of his Jewish immigrant family.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
2. The 20/20 Diet by Phil McGraw
3. Falling for My Best Friend's Brother by J. S. Cooper and Helen Cooper
4. The Club (The Club Trilogy Book 1) by Lauren Rowe
5. Soaring (The Magdalene Series Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
6. Fierce by Various
7. The Deal (Off Campus Book 1) by Elle Kennedy
8. The Italian's Twin Surprise (The Hart Sisters Trilogy Book 2) by Elizabeth Lennox
9. One Night Stand by J.S. and Helen Cooper
10. Easy Love (The Boudreaux Series Book 1) by Kristen Proby

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