Also published on this date: Wednesday, August 3, 2016: Kids Maximum Shelf: The Way Things Work Now

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


Bookshop to Open in Narberth, Pa., this Fall

The future home of Narberth Bookshop

This fall, Narberth Bookshop will open in the Philadelphia suburb of Narberth, Pa., at 221 Haverford Avenue. According to owner Ellen Trachtenberg, who has worked in the publishing industry for 26 years and is head of Braintree Publicity, the store will be a new, general-interest bookstore.

The opening of Narberth Bookshop, Trachtenberg added, will be "the realization of a lifelong dream," and she plans to provide "impeccable service and the type of personalized recommending that the best indie booksellers do so well." Narberth Bookshop will have options for membership, special events and community partnerships.

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Oprah's Book Club Pick: The Underground Railroad

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad as the latest Oprah's Book Club Pick. She told the Associated Press "that she knew from the first sentence that she would want to share her passion with her audience, an impulse she has relied on with uncommon success for 20 years."

"I was blown away by it," Winfrey said. " 'Blown away' is an often-used expression, but with this book it was to the point of sometimes putting it down and saying, 'I can't read anymore. I don't want to turn the page. I want to know what happens, but I don't want to know what happens.'"

Although scheduled for a September release, Doubleday moved up the pub date to yesterday for The Underground Railroad "and more than doubled the announced first printing, from 75,000 to 200,000," the AP wrote. The September issue of O, the Oprah Magazine features an interview with Whitehead, and will include a reading guide and Winfrey's comments.

Whitehead said "he swore out loud--while on a plane--when he learned his book had joined Winfrey's pantheon of favorites," the AP noted.

Independent booksellers nationwide were excited by the news and reacted on social media. For example, after the morning announcement, BookCourt in Brooklyn, N.Y., tweeted: "Congratulations to Colson Whitehead! The Underground Railroad is the next Oprah Book Club pick!…" And in the afternoon: "We've got signed copies of @colsonwhitehead 's @Oprah Book Club pick, The Underground Railroad."

From the Facebook page of Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan.: "No one can wait for Colson Whitehead's newest book, and you shouldn't have to either. They moved up the release date for #‎TheUndergroundRailroad to TODAY. We've got some signed copies, and Susan swears this will be one of the biggest books of the year. Here's the The New York Times review. You *need* this book."

And a Facebook post by Square Books, Oxford, Miss.: "Colson Whitehead is sweeping the nation with THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. We have a very limited number of signed first editions for fans of the author or Oprah's Book Club."

Harry Potter & Scholastic's Sales: 2 Million Copies in Two Days

Magic is in the air this week for Scholastic, which published Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two in the U.S. and Canada. Retailer reports estimate that more than two million copies were sold in North America during the first two days after the book was released at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning, an unprecedented performance for a script book, according to the publisher. Scholastic had announced a first printing of 4.5 million copies

"Eager fans of all ages gathered at midnight parties in bookstores and libraries to get their copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, bringing communities together to celebrate the magic of reading and the power of great storytelling," said Ellie Berger, president, Scholastic Trade. "It's an incredible start and all the signs are indicating continued strong sales for this exciting release."

Monroe College Opening B&N Bookstore Downtown

Monroe College plans to open an expanded Barnes & Noble Bookstore in downtown New Rochelle, N.Y., that will feature a café, outside seating, a community events area and other amenities. The 9,000-square-foot store, which is expected to open in New Roc City this fall, will replace Monroe's existing student bookstore at 456 Main Street. B&N College currently manages the day-to-day operations of Monroe's bookstores on its campuses in New Rochelle and the Bronx.

"Once completed, our expanded new bookstore will be a vibrant community space that, in addition to serving our students' textbook needs, will offer local residents a place to pick up a bestseller, meet over coffee, and even occasionally enjoy the talents of local artists and performers," said Marc Jerome, executive v-p of Monroe College. "We think it will be a great complement to the city's downtown revitalization efforts, and look forward to the store's grand opening."

Mayor Noam Bramson commented: "I am delighted to welcome Barnes & Noble College to downtown New Rochelle. The new bookstore and café will bring fresh vitality to the heart of our city and boost our ambitious economic development efforts. Book lovers and coffee drinkers alike can join in applauding Monroe College's outstanding leadership in making this achievement possible."

Kevin Young Named NYPL's Schomburg Center Director

photo: Melanie Dunea

Poet and scholar Kevin Young has been named director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, a division of the New York Public Library "and a leading repository for archival materials relating to African and African-American life, history and culture," the New York Times reported. A professor of English and creative writing and a curator of rare books and archives at Emory University, Young will assume the position in late fall, succeeding Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

"Kevin Young is one of the country's most distinguished curators and writers," said William Kelly, NYPL's director of research libraries. "We're delighted to welcome him."

"The Schomburg has always been this really important place for me and for the community," Young observed. "It's such an interesting time for libraries and archives, given the rise of digital collections and changes in reading. I'm really eager to get down to the nitty-gritty of helping the Schomburg continue its journey into the 21st century."

Staff Promotions at St. Martin's

Andrew Martin has been named senior v-p of St. Martin's Press, in addition to his role as publisher of Minotaur Books. Martin joined the publisher 10 years ago to head the Minotaur imprint. In a message announcing the change, SMP president and publisher Sally Richardson noted that he's "done a wonderful job--expanding the list, garnering many reviews and awards; acquiring major new authors; developing a core team to represent the imprint, which is now generally regarded as a mark of quality and the best in the business. Andy has also contributed much more to SMP. He is responsible for the creation and almost instant success of the Castle Point Books program... and his oversight of the Jeffrey Archer publishing program resulted in Archer as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, fulfilling a longtime Archer goal of being #1 in England, Australia and America at the same time."

In addition, Kelley Ragland, associate publisher & editorial director of Minotaur  Books, has been named v-p. Noting that Ragland began her career with St. Martin's, Richardson said she "has steadily risen to prominence as one of the most successful and respected editors in the mystery/crime/thriller worlds. Kelley has been one of the key players in Minotaur's growth and success, attracting many of the imprint's best sellers over the years."

Obituary Note: Jim Northrup

Ojibwe storyteller and writer Jim Northrup, whose books, plays and poems were widely published and produced, died August 1, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. He was 73. Northrup "embraced his Anishinaabe language and heritage and helped non-Indians understand it through his plays, including a one-man show, Rez Road 2000, produced in 2000 at the Great American History Theatre in St. Paul, and his books, including Walking the Rez Road, Rez Road Follies, Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View from the Rez, Dirty Copper and Rez Salute: the Real Healer Dealer," the Star-Tribune wrote.


Image of the Day: Triple Word Score at Odyssey

Last week Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., and Merriam-Webster, publisher of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (and based in nearby Springfield), co-sponsored a evening of Scrabble, with prizes for all who played. Booksellers who would like to run a similar event are welcome to contact the publisher.

Personnel Changes at Politics & Prose

Margaret Orto has joined the children and teens department at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., as events coordinator. She previously held managerial positions in publicity, marketing and sales at several trade publishers, including Sterling and Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

Cool Idea of the Day: Reel Reads at the Bookworm

The Bookworm in Omaha, Neb., is partnering with Film Streams, a local nonprofit arts organization specializing in film screenings and education, for a new program called Reel Reads. Each Reel Reads film screening is paired with one or more books. Members of the Bookworm's frequent buyer club will receive a $2 discount on the ticket price of a Reel Reads screening, and the Bookworm will offer 20% off any Reel Reads recommended book.

Some of the upcoming events in the next few weeks include: a conversation between Kurt Andersen and Jonathan Alter, for which the Reel Reads titles are All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, True Believers by Kurt Andersen and The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter; a screening of Indignation, an adaptation of Philip Roth's novel of the same name; and a screening of Under the Sun, for which the Reel Reads title is Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim.

Pennie Picks Please Enjoy Your Happiness

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Please Enjoy Your Happiness: A Memoir by Paul Brinkley-Rogers (Touchstone, $25, 9781501151255) as her pick of the month for August. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"From the moment I heard about this month's book buyer's pick, Please Enjoy Your Happiness, by Paul Brinkley-Rogers, I was intrigued. Then I started reading it and was completely knocked off my feet.

"When Brinkley-Rogers was a teenager and stationed in Japan in 1959, he met an older woman, Kaji Yukiko. The two spent hours discussing literature, music and poetry. Their time together was brief before Yukiko disappeared, and it took decades for Brinkley-Rogers to realize that she was the love of his life.

"This memoir is a beautifully moving testament to the power of love. On that note, if you have yet to express your love for someone, I can't think of a better time than now. Can you?"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeffrey Toobin on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385536714).

CNN's New Day: David Cay Johnston, author of The Making of Donald Trump (Melville House, $24.99, 9781612196329).

Diane Rehm: John Dickerson, author of Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History (Twelve, $27, 9781455540488).

Daily Show repeat: Senator Cory Booker, author of United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good (Ballantine, $27, 9781101965160).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Malcolm Gladwell, author, most recently, of David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Back Bay, $18, 9780316204378).

Movies: Rogue Male

Benedict Cumberbatch will star in and produce a film adaptation of Rogue Male, a 1939 English novel by Geoffrey Household about "a hunter who attempts to assassinate a dictator but is caught, tortured and left for dead. When he escapes back home to England, he must hide out in a harsh countryside with the enemy agents as well as the police in hot pursuit," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Household said the dictator was intended to be a stand-in for Adolph Hitler.

Michael Lesslie (Macbeth, Assassin's Creed) will  write the screenplay for the project, which is set up at Fox Searchlight. Cumberbatch is producing the film with Lloyd Levin, Branwen Prestwood Smith and Beatriz Levin of Black Sheep Pictures. Also producing will be Adam Ackland of SunnyMarch, Cumberbatch's production company.

"I am thrilled both as an actor and producer to be working on bringing this most treasured of English novels to the big screen," said Cumberbatch.

Books & Authors

Reading with... Nicole Dennis-Benn

photo: Jason Berger

Nicole Dennis-Benn's debut novel is Here Comes the Sun (Liveright/Norton, July 5, 2016). Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Elle, Lenny Letter, Electric Literature, Kweli Literary Journal, Mosaic and Ebony, among others. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, she teaches writing for the City University of New York and lives with her wife in Brooklyn, N.Y.

On your nightstand now:

Citizen by Claudia Rankine has been on my nightstand for a long time. It's deeply moving, intimate, honest; the subtle irony, searing. I like having it next to me--the way my mother and grandmother used to keep an open Bible above our heads, hoping the luminous pages would either enlighten us or keep spirits at bay. Recently, Citizen has served as just that--a Bible of sorts as I grapple with the untimely and unjust deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Not that the book serves as protection in any way, but it reminds us of the struggle and what's at stake in a society bent on criminalizing black men and women. Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me has been on my nightstand as well. I reached for it out of desperation to make sense of the rage I felt when I realized that the four-year-old daughter of Philando Castile's girlfriend witnessed his murder from the backseat of the car. In his book, Coates proves to us that innocence is a privilege that does not belong to the black child.

I just finished reading Tanwi Islam's Bright Lines. It's such a refreshing book about family, love, identity, acceptance and loss from the perspective of a Bangladeshi family in Brooklyn--which is not usually seen in mainstream culture. I loved Kaitlyn Greenidge's We Love You, Charlie Freeman, and can't wait to read Tracy Chiles McGhee's Melting the Blues and Sanderia Faye's Mourner's Bench. Finally, I've been reading the anthology Why We Write About Ourselves, in which authors such as Edwidge Danticat, James McBride, Cheryl Strayed, Jesmyn Ward and other literary luminaries offer their insights about writing nonfiction and overcoming their fears of revealing too much about themselves and the people they write about. This book is especially important to me now because I've been writing a lot of personal essays lately.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. I read them religiously in middle and high school, the way some kids devour Harry Potter now.

Your top five authors:

Toni Morrison gives me permission to tell the stories that are important to me. Edwidge Danticat and Paule Marshall make me aware of the possibility of telling stories about the Caribbean--our people and our culture--with characters as complex as our post-colonial history. Jhumpa Lahiri, like Danticat and Marshall, documents the immigrant experience--I am especially awed by her intimate portrayal of Indian families adjusting to their new environments. Elizabeth Strout's extraordinary sense of place and characterization in Olive Kitteridge captivates me--I've hungered for new books from her ever since reading this one.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading books in high school. Not that I didn't finish them. I was an avid reader, but a slow one. So I had to pretend for the sake of class discussions. To this day, my high school friends still muse about how I was so "on top of things." To be honest, I don't know how I did it either--how my responses even made sense to the teacher. I enjoyed A House for Mr Biswas by V.S. Naipaul, for example, but it took me a whole summer to read it (after the book report deadline), because I wanted to savor it. I was that kind of a reader--even back then. I was also the type of young reader who questioned why we weren't reading books that were relevant to us as Jamaicans. Not that I didn't enjoy reading William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, Jack Schaefer and others. I just wish that we were assigned books by Michelle Cliff or Claude McKay, too. Perhaps other schools read them, but I didn't know who they were until adulthood.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison holds a mirror up to readers' faces, informing us of the implications of internalized racism.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I have a number of examples: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi has a gorgeous cover; I've been a fan of Selasi's work ever since her story "The Sex Lives of African Girls" appeared in Granta. The beautiful colors on the cover of Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade drew me in--I was happily rewarded with her great stories. Mecca Jamilah Sullivan's Blue Talk and Love has a beautiful image of a woman with an afro on the cover--her lyrical prose and distinct voice won me over. And the cover of Marlon James's A Brief History of Seven Killings, like the story itself, is absolutely stunning; I especially love the hummingbird--Jamaica's national bird--against the bright yellow backdrop.

Book you hid from your parents:

I used to read the short stories in the Best Lesbian Erotica series. I collected the individual books, but when my mother left Jamaica to visit me in college I would hide them inside my tiny room. This was before I came out, so there was great desperation to get rid of them. I ended up throwing out the 2001 issue (the best one!) by mistake.

Book that changed your life:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I learned so much about the importance of perseverance and mindfulness from that book. I read it at a time in my life when I felt hopeless and stuck, unable to visualize ways in which I could achieve the one dream I secretly nurtured--which was to become a writer.

Character you most relate to:

Sula Peace, the main character in Toni Morrison's Sula. She defied the gendered norms of her time, left her hometown to go to school and experience life, and got in touch with her sexuality, about which she was unapologetic. I read Sula at a time when my own life choices were being questioned. Like Sula, I deviate from the gendered expectations in my culture--I'm married to a woman, have waited until my 30s to think about raising children, and live far away from home and family to, in Sula's words, "make myself."

Favorite line from a book:

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back." --from The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Five books you'll never part with:

I've mentioned most of them in the previous questions, but I would like to add White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

All of Toni Morrison's books. I re-read them as though I don't know the ending. It's such a pleasure to experience her lush language.

Book that made you want to become a writer:

Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall had a huge impact on me. It was refreshing to see such a moving, complex story told about Caribbean immigrants. I never saw myself in literature, so Marshall was one of the first to make me realize that I exist--and not just as a caricature. Also Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. I was in awe of the depth Danticat went with her characters, also Caribbean immigrants. She touched on mental health, eating disorders and sexuality--themes I had never seen explored in Caribbean literature. Both books made me realize that I can also tell complex stories with unflinching honesty.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Evil Wizard Smallbone 

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman (Candlewick, $17.99 hardcover, 416p., ages 10-12, 9780763688059, September 13, 2016)

In her entertaining modern-day fantasy set in Maine, Delia Sherman (Changeling; The Freedom Maze) examines whether an evil wizard can also be good; the qualities necessary for success; and the importance of writing one's own story.

After Uncle Gabe locks him in the cellar, 12-year-old Nick Reynaud runs away to avoid the rest of the "larruping" he was promised. Ever since Nick's mother died three years ago, Uncle Gabe had gone "from crabby to mean," viewing his nephew as "a waste of time, space, and Dinty Moore stew." Cold, tired, hungry and blinded by snow, Nick stumbles upon an enormous, sprawling house whose front door opens into the magically sentient shop, Evil Wizard Books. Three-hundred-year-old Evil Wizard Smallbone takes the boy into his strangely cozy lair, deems him "scrawny as a plucked chicken and numb as a haddock," renames him "Foxkin" and forces him into service as his new apprentice (more like minion). Nick refuses to believe "this crazy old dude" is a wizard, and it takes being turned into a spider to convince him it's true. Magic intrigues him, but Nick wonders whether "turning people into things" is any better than "laying into them with a strap."

As Nick competently attends to household chores and looks after the sweet barnyard animals he likes more than humans, he ponders how best to escape yet another bully. Thanks to the magic of Evil Wizard Books, he soon discovers E-Z Spelz for Little Wizardz, and he dives right in. In the book's Aptitude Test, Nick learns that his confidence is a "sometimes thing" and that his control and concentration "both stink." As the months pass, Nick studies hard and winds up learning as much about himself as he does about "fummydiddling with enchanted doo-dads."

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in quaint Smallbone Cove, the nearby coastal town of fishing nets and seagulls, a "practically perfect place" of eerily similar townspeople controlled and supposedly protected by the Evil Wizard Smallbone. A second evil wizard, vile werewolf Fidelou with his gang of shape-shifting were-coyotes on motorcycles, wants in. Fidelou, who came to the U.S. from France 400 years ago, is looking to expand his own territory and gobble up the town. Nick will have to use all of his wits and newly honed magic when the two evil wizards go head to head.

A truly irrepressible hero, Nick has a lot to learn. But armed with important truths learned from his mother before she died, large doses of his own magic, and plenty of stubbornness, he is more than up to the task. The Evil Wizard Smallbone is a terrific middle-grade fantasy from a skillful, witty, always-inventive storyteller. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: Delia Sherman populates her excellent middle-grade fantasy with evil wizards, bloodthirsty were-beasts and a 12-year-old apprentice whose magical pursuits help him find himself.

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