Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 21, 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

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookstore Is 'Like a Good Restaurant'

"An independent bookstore is somewhat like a good restaurant, where the staff picks are the chef's specials, the stalwart backlist is the delicious and comforting dishes that we know will fill our bellies, and the carefully selected bestsellers are the new menu items that everyone will enjoy. Our staff can walk you through the store in the way a waitstaff can guide you through the menu, describing each item with the care and expertise of an experienced gourmet and reader. At Bank Square Books, we care about what you read and want to help you select just the right book or gift. Our aim is to please and cultivate an understanding and appreciation for the printed word in the form of a real book, just as your favorite restaurant wants to serve you a delicious meal that will resonate with you forever."

--Annie Philbrick, co-owner of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn. (and the soon-to-open Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I.), in a holiday season letter to "loyal friends and customers"

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


AAP Sales: August Down 2.8%

In August, total net book sales fell 2.8%, to $2.2 billion, representing sales of 1,206 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first eight months of the year, total net book sales were down 2.3%, to $10.4 billion.
During the month, trade book sales were down 7%: adult book sales fell 11.3%, and children's/YA books were off 5.8%. Most other categories were down significantly. The few standout categories were religious books, up 41.7%, and downloaded audio, up 47.4%. 
For the first eight months of the year, adult books are down 1.1%. Hardcover book sales are down 7.7%; trade paperbacks are up 12.2%. E-books are down 11%, mainly because children's/YA e-books are down 44.5% for the year; trade e-book sales are off 4.5%.
Sales by categories in August:

Atlanta's Charis Putting Building Up for Sale

Feminist bookstore Charis Books & More and its sister nonprofit, Charis Circle, Atlanta, Ga., are putting Charis's building in the Little Five Points neighborhood up for sale, reported, adding that the decision was made by the Charis Circle board of directors and store co-owners Sara Look and Angela Gabriel.

"This means only that our building is for sale," Charis Circle executive director Elizabeth Anderson said. "It does not mean that Charis Books is for sale or that the store or the Circle are closing.

"The Circle will continue to host and sponsor events that foster sustainable feminist communities; the bookstore will continue to sell books that promote diverse and marginalized voices; and together we will work with individuals and organizational partners throughout the city to fight for a more just world."

Quail Ridge Books in Auto Accident

Customers shopping at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., "got quite the surprise Sunday afternoon when a car plowed into the front of the building," ABC11 News reported, adding that police said the accident occurred when an elderly woman accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes. No one was hurt and the bookshop stayed open, using a back entrance.

Quail Ridge posted updates on Facebook and Twitter:

Earlier this month, Quail Ridge announced that it would be vacating this Ridgewood Shopping Center location in the spring of 2016 and moving to North Hills Shopping Center.

Obituary Note: Jean Matthews

Jean Matthews

Very sad news. Jean Matthews, longtime co-owner of Chapter One Bookstore, Hamilton, Mont., died on Wednesday. She was 58.

"In 1986, she and [her husband, Russ Lawrence] pooled their meager savings and negligible business experience to buy Chapter One Book Store," her obituary read. "They worked side by side to build the bookstore into a community resource. Jean became an advocate for adult literacy, helping to create the Literacy Bitterroot program, serving as its president, and working with adult clients."

In 2009, the pair sold the store and joined the Peace Corps, serving for several years in Peru.

Jean loved to sing and act and travel. And "she reveled in whimsy and high-minded silliness, whether hiking in formal dress to an alpine lake to serve 'High Tea,' or instigating road trips with her friends; that was pure Jean. She loved--really loved--riding her bicycle, was an avid hiker and cross-country skier, and her culinary skills won ribbons at the Ravalli County Fair. If the Mudflaps were playing, she and Russ were dancing."


Image of the Day: Notorious RBG

Alexis Madrigal, editor-in-chief of Fusion, and Irin Carmon, co-author (with Shana Knizhnik) of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Dey Street Books), model their RBG crowns after a conversation at Book Passage in San Francisco's Ferry Building. (Attendees also received RBG temporary tattoos.)

Toad Hall wins 'Awesome Rockport' Grant

Toad Hall, the "venerable bookstore nestled in the old Granite Savings Bank building on Main Street" in Rockport, Mass., won the inaugural $1,000 award from Awesome Rockport, a nonprofit that "funds projects to make the town, well, more awesome," the Gloucester Times reported. The money will be used to launch a new and improved bookstore website.

"We'll have an online store with a shop function," said manager Ardis Francoeur. "We'll add graphics, and be able to send out a newsletter. Right now, the web page is really sad. It's a sad, little page."

Event of the Week: Richard Blanco in Maine

Richard Blanco and Ellen Richmond (photo: Patrick Groleau)

Congratulations to Ellen Richmond, Children's Book Cellar, Waterville, Maine, who reported that she is "still on a bit of an adrenaline high" after two major events--five months in the planning--that featured Richard Blanco, the poet who read at President Obama's second inauguration. In the afternoon last Tuesday, more than 400 engaged students (grades 6-9) in Winslow heard Blanco talk about "poetry, the senses, community, identity, learning." Then, in the evening, at the Waterville Opera House, a crowd of nearly 300 heard Blanco speak for more than an hour, and gave him a standing ovation. Blanco, whom Richmond described as "charming, engaging, serious, funny, and gracious," signed 300 copies of his children's book One Today (Little, Brown), based on his inaugural poem and illustrated by Dav Pilkey, in 45 minutes before the evening event. After the event he spent over an hour talking to people and personalizing books.

Personnel Changes at ARTBOOK / D.A.P.

Effective January 4, Mark Pearson is joining ARTBOOK | D.A.P. as New England book representative, replacing Nanci McCrackin, who is retiring at the end of the year. He will also sell the Prestel list in New England. In addition, he'll sell the ARTBOOK | D.A.P. line (but not Prestel) in the Southeast, including Florida, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Pearson is the former East Coast sales representative for Phaidon and earlier was a book buyer at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass., and began his publishing career at Barbara's Bookstore in Chicago.

Book Trailer of the Day: The World of Vikings

The World of Vikings by Justin Pollard (Chronicle Books), the official companion to the MGM show Vikings, which airs on the History Channel.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Little Shaq on Late Night

The View repeat: Whoopi Goldberg, discusses If Someone Says "You Complete Me," RUN!: Whoopi's Big Book of Relationships (Hachette Books, $26, 9780316302012).

Wendy Williams Show repeat: Dita Von Teese, author of Your Beauty Mark (HarperCollins, $45, 9780060722715).

Tavis Smiley repeat: Dick Van Dyke, author of Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging (Weinstein Books, $25.99, 9781602862968).

Last Call with Carson Daly repeat: Terry Gilliam, author of Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir (Harper Design, $40, 9780062380746).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Andy Cohen, author of The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250078506).

Tavis Smiley repeat: Patricia Cornwell, author of Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062325402).

Conan repeat: Kunal Nayyar, author of Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You (Atria, $26, 9781476761824).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Shaquille O'Neal, author of Little Shaq (Bloomsbury, $9.99, 9781619637214).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Ted Koppel, author of Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath (Crown, $26, 9780553419962).

Movies: The King of Oil

Russell Gewirtz (Righteous Kill, The Labyrinth) has been hired to adapt The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich by Daniel Ammann. Deadline Hollywood reported that the biopic, from Uri Singer's BB Film Productions and based on the life of the indicted billionaire commodities trader, "is steadily moving forward."

"Marc Rich's story feels as relevant as ever, particularly with U.S. on the brink of a presidential election," said Singer. "King of Oil will offer a hard look at the connection between monetary power and government."

Books & Authors

Awards: Irish Book of the Year; André Simon Food and Drink

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill has won the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year 2015, the only prize at the Irish Book Awards that is voted for by the public, the Bookseller reported.


The shortlist has been announced for the 2015 André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards. Winners in each category will be named at a ceremony in London January 28 and receive £2,000 (about $2,980) each. See the complete André Simon shortlist here.

Karen Finley: Reflecting on 25 Years of Art & Activism

Karen Finley is a writer, artist and educator whose controversial work has placed her at the center of America's culture wars for over a quarter century. In 1990, her book Shock Treatment, a collection of poems, essays and drawings, ignited fans and critics with its unflinching depiction of the trauma related to homophobia, misogyny, the AIDS epidemic and cultural close-mindedness. That same year, she and three other artists were denied grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for "indecent" subject matter in their work--a case that went to the Supreme Court but was decided against the artists. In September 2015, City Lights Publishers released an expanded 25th anniversary edition of Shock Treatment with a new introduction from Finley, in which she reflects on creating the work.

What inspired the 25th anniversary edition of Shock Treatment?

The book has remained in print for 25 years, but I realized it was coming to an anniversary and was invited to see about having a new edition. At first I thought "why?" but after reviewing the writings, I was startled at how relevant they are to now. So many of the issues that we're dealing with today, I speak about in the book--issues of the outsider, censorship, sexual abuse, rape, otherness, war, disenfranchisement, relationship with the family, the artist, gay rights.

I think that my process as an artist at that time--as a younger, emerging artist--was to situate myself within the artist as historical recorder. This collection is my participation in the discourse of the artist as historical recorder.

With events like what's happened in San Bernardino, Paris, Lebanon... how do young people relate to these extraordinary world events that are unfathomable? How do we respond? How do we make meaningful content? By looking at the writings I was doing, I'd like to inspire artists and emerging artists to take their pen or brush and record for the future, and the world around them, from the artist's lens. Writing and creating a document is a participation--to make an action, and to be a witness, and to respond.

How have responses to your work changed since its original publication?

[In the past] there were a range of responses; some of the texts in that book were censored by the government for being indecent. Mentions of pro-choice, gay rights, sexual violence were considered inappropriate.

But I still don't get a free ride with my writing. Just yesterday I was confronted by someone who thought, "Why are you expressing so much anger?" There's still misogyny in our culture with regards to a woman's place. Speaking out with passion is considered inappropriate; you can still see that 25 years later in the scrutiny of Hillary Clinton. That's something I'm very, very interested in--women not having to apologize for sticking out. I haven't figured that out yet. But I am thinking about trying to start some support groups for women or anyone speaking out about issues that are not part of a dominant culture. You have a right to be angry. We need to have a place in our society where we can be expressing discomfort and conflict and that's what I'm interested in now.

What do you see as the most significant social changes in the past 25 years?

There's been some progress in terms of gay rights, gay marriage, and that we do see more representation with women and minorities, but not so much that writing [from the 1990s] seems so historical.

Sexting, for instance, wasn't in existence at that time. But people get so bent out of shape about the body and sexuality it's crazy. It's like we could be in 1840, it's so Victorian to me. I feel that there are some aspects of 2015 that are more Victorian than 1990 about sexuality, and also freedom of speech issues. And even with violence. In [Shock Treatment], a lot of these issues are covered. Sometimes, poetic writing can have a human connection that goes beyond a certain era.

As someone who works in so many different mediums--performance art, installation, illustration and so forth--how is writing particularly challenging or rewarding?

The voicing. The speaking out of the writer. It's just pen to paper. There's an economy to it. I feel in some part, the writing can be more powerful than the image. Artwork inserts itself within the economy of the market, so very few own a particular object. But for the writer, it is owned by many. That intimacy you have is not collected or put into a museum. That's the power. We're all writing, we're all speaking all the time. You don't need a studio. The economy for it is just that you need that drive and desire to do it. The fact that these words can change. I want to be part of the revolution. Artwork is always part of a caste system within capitalism, but writing and speaking can exist within an economy that can be supported by not just the lucky. That's what I like about City Lights--it's a system created by a writer and the pocketbook poets. I like being part of that indie community.

Have changes in technology influenced your work?

In some ways technology has made it more difficult. I am a private person, and my art comes out of these moments of privacy, moments of invisibility and deep reflection. For me, as an introvert, my art and my inspiration comes in these spaces--the profoundness comes in deep engagement--and that often comes from another person. That's what's lost in technology. I can do some, but my work is located in an intimacy. I like having social media, but I don't want to forget the intimacy and the profoundness.

A lot of my work comes out of one-on-one conversations. I love human interaction face-to-face; it could be in a taxi or anywhere. A lot of art-making or communication is invisible. A one-on-one moment with someone that is not documented can be very powerful. You don't always need to have proof. At the same time, I think social media is fantastic. There just has to be a balance. Just because you have a car doesn't mean you have to stop walking. --Annie Atherton

Book Review

Review: Poor Your Soul

Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin (Soho Press, $26 hardcover, 9781616956349, January 12, 2016)

Mira Ptacin's Poor Your Soul is an unblinking and moving literary memoir of grief and love by a talented young writer coming to terms with the multiple losses in her life.

At 28, Mira has just moved to New York to begin an MFA program in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. With her first semester behind her, she goes on a blind date with Andrew; three months later, she discovers she is pregnant. She and Andrew decide to marry. Despite her early ambivalence, and the profound loss of control she feels, she begins to embrace her pregnancy, and wedding plans become intertwined with preparing for the baby. Five months later, as the wedding approaches, she and Andrew learn that the baby has severe abnormalities and has no chance of survival outside the womb. She can abort, induce early delivery, or wait and inevitably miscarry. She's the daughter of Polish Catholics and the thought of abortion is terrifying, but her other options are equally bleak.

Poor Your Soul is not only the story of the loss of a pregnancy and of motherhood; it's intertwined with that of Mira's mother, Maria, who left Communist Poland as a young woman, and her younger brother Jules, who was killed in a drunk-driving accident at age 14. It's above all Mira's story of being the daughter of immigrants, trying to find her own way, suffering through a wayward adolescence, and carrying the burdens of family heartache and her own pervasive feelings of guilt.

Ptacin's narrative is episodic, weaving back and forth between her present and her remembered past. There are many lovely moments, like the evening of Mira and Andrew's first date, where she dawdles in a bookstore reading a book about pigeons; the scenes in Mira and Andrew's tiny apartment, where they call each other "assistant"; or many of the later moments with her mother. Yet Mira is not interested in an idealized self-presentation. Raw pain is not likable, and Ptacin brings her grief to life. She strips bare her circumstances to reveal her reactions, even when they're less than generous. Perhaps as a result, Mira's mother and, to a lesser extent, Andrew provide the emotional heart of the story. It is her mother's acceptance Mira seeks, a need no less powerful for being the key to her own self-acceptance.

In the end, Mira's very personal journey through grief is also a universal one. Poor Your Soul is a beautifully written celebration of the love of family, the bonds between mothers and daughters, and the healing that comes after loss. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: This moving memoir about a young woman who must make a tragic choice is ultimately a celebration of the power of family and enduring love.

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