Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 16, 2015

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


In Paris, Shakespeare & Co. 'Refuge from Atrocities'

Our hearts go out to the victims and friends and family of the ISIS attacks in Paris on Friday.

Livres Hebdo reported that two young editors died in the attacks: "Lola Salines, 29, a children's book editor in the Edi 8 department at Gründ, which is part of the Editis group, and Ariane Theiller, 23, who worked at Rustica Hebdo, which is part of the Média Participations group." Both were at the concert at the Bataclan. (Via the Bookseller.)

Friday night, iconic Shakespeare & Co. became a refuge for at least 20 people as the store embodied its own prominent sign, a verse from the Bible: "Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise."

On Friday night, Harriet Alida Lye, a Canadian writer-in-residence living above Shakespeare & Co., wrote to the Guardian about the mood in the store: "We are safe in a bookshop, with the windows blacked out. There are about 20 customers with us who've been sat here for hours calling home. I haven't seen anything but police cars go by, and people stumbling out of bars in central Paris who clearly have no idea what is going on. We are all taking breaks between calling people and checking the news. We're saying it feels like this must be part of something bigger, like we are being senselessly attacked. It feels really close to home, because Paris is just so small and the attacks are all over the city. There are sirens constantly and going in every direction. The lights of Notre Dame have been turned off, which never happens at this time of night."

Noting that Shakespeare & Co. has a long tradition of acting as "a place of safety for many, as a warm retreat from reality," Rose Alana Frith, a bookseller at the store, told BuzzFeed that the store's role as "a refuge from atrocities" Friday night will be something "many will be unable to forget--coloured by a series of devastating news reports, lack of sleep, and hours of blue siren filled light. People have spoken of these events as a potential dividing line between what was before and what will come; surrounded by a medley of familiar and previously unknown faces in the darkened stairwell, as events unfolded, I felt comforted. Kindness endures. On my way home, after being awake for 22 hours, I stopped at a florist shop on the corner of my street, open in despite of what had occurred, and bought four sunflowers. 'Some light in all that darkness,' the florist said."

Shakespeare & Co. remained closed on Saturday.

Yesterday, in an essay in the National Post, Harriet Alida Lye reflected:

"All weekend, people have been asking me whether this means I'll leave Paris for good. Friends have offered their spare rooms in London and Amsterdam, and my parents have said they'll get me on the next flight back to Toronto if I want.

"I don't know what I'll do. I don't know what’s best. It's hard to know where to go from here. Maybe, for now, it's enough to have spent the weekend quietly surrounded by books.

"I believe in the power of art to transform and make sense of things; I also believe it's possible to make something powerful, even beautiful, from something tragic. The collective unity and outpouring of love coming from all corners of the world in response to these attacks is beautiful, but the artists who will make sense of it all in their own, lasting way will need a lot longer to process what has just happened, what is still happening."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day

Saturday, December 5, is the sixth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Founded by novelist Jenny Milchman, TYCBD has grown from 80 stores participating in its first year to 700 this year across all 50 states, Canada, Europe and Australia. Milchman was inspired by taking her own young children to bookstores: "Did all children know the pleasure of spending time in a bookstore? I wanted to begin a holiday that would expose as many kids as possible to this joy."

Each store plans their own events, a mix of everything from story time, giveaways, children's author visits and even a few canine companions for kids to read to. Participating stores can be found on this interactive map.

In early 2016, TYCBD will sponsor a trip for an at-risk pre-K class in New York State to Mysteries on Main Street, Johnstown, N.Y., where each child will receive his or her own book. "In some cases," said Milchman, "the very first she or he has ever owned." Afterward the kids will celebrate with pizza next door.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Pearson May 'Consider' Sale of PRH Stake in 2017

Pearson likely "will consider" selling its 47% share of Penguin Random House in 2017, CEO John Fallon said at a Morgan Stanley conference on Wednesday, as quoted in the Bookseller.

Fallon said the company intends to wait to consider the matter because consolidation and restructuring won't be complete for another year and because "we've seen across the industry negotiation of e-book terms and what implication that will have of e-book sales over the next six-12 months--so I think from our point of view, it makes sense to allow both of those issues to become clear before we look at any discussion with PRH because clearly we'd be giving away value if we didn't let those issues play through first."

In August, Thomas Rabe, CEO of Bertelsmann, which owns 53% of PRH, said, "We could imagine raising our stake in Penguin Random House in steps." He added: "It is up to Pearson whether they want to sell or not."

Under the merger agreement between Pearson and Bertelsmann that created Penguin Random House in October 2012, each owner must hold its stake for three years and thereafter has the right of first refusal.

Obituary Note: Charles C. Tillinghast III

Charles C. Tillinghast III, publisher and co-founder of Advanced Marketing Services, died on November 5. He was 78.

As recalled by the Idaho Statesman, while working for Boise Cascade, Tillinghast was in charge of divesting the conglomerate's CRM division in 1973 and stayed on as president when the textbook, education film and magazine publisher was purchased by Ziff Davis. He founded his own children's book company, Oak Tree Publications, in 1975. In 1982, with Loren C. Paulsen and Craig Shafer, he founded AMS, which became one of the country's largest book wholesalers and specialized in supplying warehouse clubs. He retired as president and CEO at AMS in 1996, well before accounting scandals helped push AMS to declare bankruptcy in 2006. In an effort to rebuild the company, he returned as CEO in 2003, and then fully retired the following year.


Image of the Day: Maguire's Evening of Whimsy

in Winston-Salem, N.C., celebrated the 150th anniversary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with an "Evening of Whimsy" that included croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs, riddles, Alice-inspired food and drinks, interactive photobooths and an impromptu singing of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Gregory Maguire, whose new book is After Alice (Morrow). Here, Maguire with the winner of the costume contest.

Road Trip: '11 Beautiful Bookstore Photos'

"It's been just over a year since we featured our first #ThisIsMyBookstore submission on Instagram," the Chronicle Books blog wrote, noting that it has "experienced a whirlwind of snapshots featuring colorful shelves, stacks of books from floor to ceiling, and clean, innovative spaces dedicated to the enduring magic of books." To celebrate, Chronicle featured "11 beautiful bookstore photos from around the world."

Energy Update: Indies Reflect on Going Solar

Bookselling This Week featured an update on two independent bookstores at opposite ends of the country that "transitioned fully to solar energy systems for their electricity needs" in 2011, noting that each has "seen decreased energy costs while continuing to make additional strides toward helping the environment."

"I always assumed it would be too expensive," said Trudy Mills, co-owner of Antigone Books, Tucson, Ariz. "It happened that I asked at the exact moment when the state and federal governments had lots of solar credits and grants available. We were lucky in that respect." BTW noted that "beyond utilizing solar power as part of its goal to be kinder to the environment, Antigone Books has also installed an electric vehicle charging station and sells bus passes at no profit to encourage the use of public transportation."

MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, N.H., went 100% solar at the end of 2011. Co-owner Katharine Nevins said, "The decision was easy, as it connects to our longtime commitment of moving from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy." She added that having the solar initiative visibly present on Main Street "serves as a working demonstration of this needed change to solar energy.... We have a nifty read-out running in the store that shows, with a pie-chart, how much electricity the building is currently using, and how much energy is coming in through the solar panels."

Personnel Changes at Parson Weems, Little, Brown

Jason Kincade has joined Parson Weems Publisher Services as New York City sales rep. He was formerly East Coast operations director of Pacific Beach Vinyl, an independent online record store and earlier was social media and marketing strategist at Inkwell Management, a senior marketing manager for Random House International, manager of new media for Knopf and Pantheon and worked in online marketing and web development at Penguin. Earlier in his career, he was a buyer at Tower and Alexander Book Company.


Maggie Southard has joined the Little, Brown publicity department as a publicist. She formerly worked in publicity at Knopf and at ICM.

Media and Movies

Movies: Allegiant; Carol

A new trailer has been released for Allegiant, the third installment of Veronica Roth's Divergent novel series, reported. Directed by Robert Schwentke, the movie's cast includes Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels, Octavia Spencer, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort and Ray Stevenson. Allegiant appears in theaters March 18, 2016.


Two clips are out for Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt and directed Todd Haynes. Indiewire noted that the movie "has been a force to reckon with since premiering to acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Nearly half a year later, awards buzz for the film is stronger than ever." Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol opens in select theaters on November 20.

Media Heat: Burt Reynolds and But Enough About Me

Good Morning America: Burt Reynolds, co-author of But Enough About Me: A Memoir (Putnam, $27.95, 9780399173547). Tomorrow he will be on Live with Kelly and Michael, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Entertainment Tonight.

Diane Rehm: Ted Koppel, author of Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath (Crown, $26, 9780553419962).

Ellen: Khloe Kardashian, author of Strong Looks Better Naked (Regan Arts, $26.99, 9781942872481). She will also be on the Today Show tomorrow.

Rachael Ray: Graham Elliot, co-author of Cooking Like a Master Chef: 100 Recipes to Make the Everyday Extraordinary (Atria, $30, 9781476796512).

Sirius XM's Maggie Linton Show: Sister Souljah, author of A Moment of Silence: Midnight III (Emily Bestler/Atria, $27.99, 9781476765983).

Watch What Happens Live: Drew Barrymore, author of Wildflower (Dutton, $28, 9781101983799).

Last Call with Carson Daly: Judah Friedlander, author of If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons (Hachette Books, $16.99, 9780316306959).

The Today Show: Katie Workman, author of Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You! (Workman Publishing, $17.95, 9780761181873).

Imus in the Morning: Jeanine Pirro, author of He Killed Them All: Robert Durst and My Quest for Justice (Gallery, $27, 9781501125003).

Diane Rehm: Jason Mark, author of Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man (Island Press, $28, 9781610915809).

The Late Late Show with James Corden: Ethan Hawke, author of Rules for a Knight (Knopf, $18, 9780307962331).

Books & Authors

Awards: Cervantes Winner; Waterstones FInalists

Mexican writer Fernando del Paso won the €125,000 (about $134,655) Cervantes Prize, given for an author's entire body of work. The New York Times reported that he was honored "for his contribution to the development of the novel and for work that combines tradition and modernity and recreates key moments in the history of Mexico." Del Paso's works include News from the Empire, José Trigo and Palinuro of Mexico.


Finalists for the Waterstones Book of the Year award have been named. The chain's booksellers across the U.K. were invited to nominate books they considered "show-stoppers, the books that will make you sit up, take notice, then fall over as you get so lost in them that you forget whatever else you are doing... The pulse-quickeners, the heart-stoppers, the mind-racers." The winning title will be announced December 1. The shortlisted titles for Waterstones Book of the Year are:

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
SPQR by Mary Beard
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Book Review

Review: Concussion

Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Random House, $16 trade paper, 9780812987577, November 24, 2015)

Concussion is the story of former Pittsburgh Steeler "Iron Mike" Webster's brain and the Nigerian-born forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, who studied it to discover the cause of Webster's post-football dementia and death at age 50. The seventh child of a village elder in a southern Nigeria Igbo town, Omalu excelled at school and dreamed of living in the United States--described in his journals as "the land of perfection and excellence... where mankind is at its best." After graduating from a top Nigerian medical school, Omalu immigrated to the U.S. in 1994, where he worked his way through a half-dozen additional degrees before settling on a neuropathology sub-specialty and landing in Pittsburgh as understudy to the flamboyant Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht.

When Mike Webster's corpse was randomly assigned to Omalu's autopsy table, Wecht gave him the unusual approval to study further the football star's superficially normal brain. Omalu's relentless curiosity about complicated brain damage, along with dogged persistence, led to his breakthrough insight that Webster's death was caused by repeated concussions from playing football--a published scientific conclusion that brought the weight of the NFL down him. The shy Omalu--who reveled in bespoke suits and his Mercedes E350--found himself up against "an $8 billion per year American success story.... Bigger than TV. Bigger than music. Bigger than Hollywood.... The hits were part of the fun. Fans loved them.... The NFL sold 'Greatest Hits' videotapes at Kmart." Had there been a Las Vegas line on this uneven match, the NFL's winning spread would have been off the charts.

Coming off her rich study of unusual macho occupations in 2012's Hidden America, GQ correspondent Jeanne Marie Laskas is the ideal author for this deep-dive into a messy David and Goliath, black immigrant–versus–white power story of subterfuge, lawyering, politics and seasonal Sunday afternoon obsession. With a slam-bam, boffo style buttressed by strong research and interviews, Laskas doesn't miss a thing. She describes Pittsburgh's odd decision to move its 1929 morgue a hundred yards by "mysterious men who specialized in heave-hoing and moving huge buildings"; graphically captures Webster's job after the snap to "explode into other guys, head first, smashmouth football, the sound of helmets crashing, grunting, howling"; and explains the futility of a helmet when "the brain sloshing around inside that skull was going to bash into the skull walls no matter how much padding you nestled the head in." She even catches Omalu's wonder on first arriving in the United States to find "that shopkeepers didn't post DO NOT URINATE HERE signs everywhere; people in America seemed to know intuitively not to pee in public." Concussion is such a well-told story that it is the basis for a forthcoming film starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu. Smith will have his work cut out to bring Omalu's story to life better than Laskas already has. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Laskas thrillingly builds the autopsy of a former pro football player into a dramatic showdown between the mighty NFL and the Nigerian-born pathologist Bennet Omalu.

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