Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 4, 2017

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Quotation of the Day

HBG to Continue to Publish Books for the 'National Discussion'

"We have had a lot of conversations about the recent presidential election and what it means for HBG and our business. We will continue, as we always have, to publish books that contribute to our national discussion. This will include books on all sides of the spectrum--a robust discussion that is also good business. Freedom of speech is the foundation upon which publishing is built, and we will be vigorous in publishing books that exercise that freedom, while also being vigilant to uphold HBG's culture of respect, openness, diversity, and fairness."

--Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group, in his annual New Year's letter to staff.

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships


At Shelf Awareness, Marilyn Dahl Retiring, Stefanie Hargreaves Joins Staff

Stefanie Hargreaves

After more than a dozen years at Shelf Awareness, Marilyn Dahl is retiring as editor of Shelf Awareness for Readers, a major, happy move for her, but sad for us. At the same time, we're delighted to announce that author, editor, bookseller and reviewer Stefanie Hargreaves has joined Shelf Awareness as editor of Readers.

Stefanie, who has more than 20 years of book industry experience at Ballantine Books, Girl Friday Productions, HarperCollins, and Book Page, among others, commented: "Shelf Awareness produces enlightening, entertaining, and expert newsletters that both inform and inspire. My professional life has been devoted to books, and I've loved (almost) every minute. But this? Well, I've just won the job lotto. I simply could not be happier, and look forward to working with the outstanding Shelf Awareness team."

Stefanie officially joined the staff yesterday and will work at the Shelf Awareness office in Seattle. She may be reached at


Marilyn Dahl with Vik

Marilyn Dahl began working at Shelf Awareness in 2005, our founding year, initially writing, in exchange for a bottle of wine and access to galleys, one mystery review a month. As she remembers, "that lasted a nanosecond." Soon she was reviewing many books a month, and in 2007 hired four more reviewers. By 2011, Shelf Awareness for Readers was launched, and she was overseeing a large stable of reviewers, editing four Pro reviews and 20 Readers reviews a week, editing and writing editorials and author interviews and q&as. She also was in charge of the weekly Maximum Shelf. For the past several years, she's worked closely with Dave Wheeler, who's taken on many of her review duties and who, we're pleased to say, will work with Stefanie.

Marilyn has been a delightful colleague, with a sparkling personality and an eclectic range of interests that are familiar to readers of her reviews and editorials. She is as comfortable writing about food (particularly bacon!) and football as she is about beautifully written novels. She has a wonderful eye for what delights readers--and what sells--regardless of genre or format. We wish Marilyn well and are very happy to report that she will continue writing reviews for Shelf Awareness. During much of the month of January, she will be helping Stefanie with the transition.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Memphis's Booksellers at Laurelwood to Close

Sad news from Memphis, Tenn.: the Booksellers at Laurelwood is closing in February, the Commercial Appeal reported. Owner Neil Van Uum told the newspaper that the store had had "a slight decline in traffic every year for the last five years. We adjusted our mix [of products]. Brought in used books. Went after more school orders and book fairs. But there was just a slight erosion of traffic over the last five years."

He added that at 25,000 square feet, the store is "just too big" and has four years left on its lease at the Laurelwood Shopping Center. The bookstore and its restaurant, Booksellers Bistro, have about 50 employees; many booksellers have worked at the store and its predecessor for decades. The closing will leave Memphis with just a few independent bookstores, including Burke's Book Store and South Main Book Juggler.

The Booksellers at Laurelwood began as a Davis-Kidd Booksellers outlet and became part of Van Uum's Joseph-Beth Booksellers, when Joseph-Beth bought Davis-Kidd's stores in 1997. In 2010, Joseph-Beth went bankrupt and most of its stores were bought by other parties. Van Uum, however, bought the Memphis store and kept it open as the Booksellers at Laurelwood. Van Uum also owns the Booksellers, which has two stores in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Eddie Burton, manager of the Booksellers at Laurelwood, who has worked for it and Davis-Kidd for 32 years, said that a smaller store, "maybe structured a little differently," is "very viable," adding, "There's too good a group of core customers and a staff that is second to none. We'd be interested in talking to anybody, any backer, anybody locally who would be interested in seeing this in another incarnation."

HarperCollins Takes Full Ownership of HarperCollins Brasil

HarperCollins has bought out Ediouro, its partner for the last 10 years in the HarperCollins Brasil joint venture. At the same time, HarperCollins Brasil is moving its headquarters to Rua da Quitanda in Rio de Janeiro's financial center.

"While we have enjoyed a successful relationship with Ediouro, we are very pleased to take full ownership of HarperCollins Brasil," said Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. "We see Brazil as an area of growth both for titles from our global imprints being published into the region, as well as for local authors. We are excited about this new structure and the new home for the organization."

In 2006, Thomas Nelson Brasil and Harlequin Brasil combined with Ediouro's commercial trade publishing list and personnel to create a joint venture that in 2015 was renamed HarperCollins Brasil. The company has more than 2,500 titles in print and publishes books from HarperCollins trade, children's, Christian and romance imprints around the world as well as books by Brazilian writers. HarperCollins Brasil will continue to share warehousing and logistics operations with Ediouro.

Since HarperCollins's purchase of Harlequin in 2014, the company has consolidated, rebranded and/or bought out partners in many European countries and Japan, creating, among others, HarperCollins France, HarperCollins Germany and HarperCollins Spain.

Obituary Note: John Berger

John Berger, an artist, Booker-prize-winning novelist "and visionary writer who helped transform the way a generation looked at and perceived art," died January 2, the Guardian reported. He was 90. Berger "had a profound effect on how visual art was appreciated with his book Ways of Seeing and the 1972 BBC television series on which it was based."

Actor and director Simon McBurney, who collaborated with Berger on several projects over the years, tweeted: "Listener, grinder of lenses, poet, painter, seer. My Guide. Philosopher. Friend. John Berger left us this morning. Now you are everywhere."

Although Ways of Seeing was Berger's "apotheosis as a popularizer," the Guardian noted that in the same year he also won "the Booker prize, the James Tait Black Memorial prize and the Guardian Fiction prize with his novel G, and also published, with his frequent collaborator the photographer Jean Mohr, A Fortunate Man, a sensitive documentary account of a country doctor on his daily round in Gloucestershire. These three books began to sketch out the areas of Berger's lifetime enterprise."

Berger's many books include Landscapes: John Berger on Art; Portraits; About Looking; Bento's Sketchbook; Shape of the Pocket; Selected Essays; To the Wedding; and the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours.

The New York Times noted that Berger "returned again and again to the essay, the bedrock of his reputation, whose underlying theme was almost always the impossibility of disentangling the aesthetic from the moral: A 1992 piece described the annual task of mucking the pit beneath his outhouse, an odious job but one that offered many of the same lessons that great art had taught him."

In a tribute to Berger posted in the Verso Books blog, Andy Merrifield wrote: "John's whole life represents a species of eternity; his art lies beyond duration, beyond space. A lightness of touch, resembling the 'geometrical' deftness of Spinoza's Ethics, lies everywhere in his work: the culmination of all those years of restless activity, of writing and thinking, of drawing and riding, of meeting and discussing. The finally-achieved 'blessedness' and mortality of Spinoza's 'third level of knowledge,' knowledge that John spent 90 years searching for."

Penguin Books U.K. editorial director Tom Penn, who worked closely with Berger for many years, told the Bookseller: "With John Berger’s passing, we have lost one of the great storytellers of our times, one of the most vital voices in British, European and international culture of the last half century. His work--sharply attentive, pungent, sensuous, constantly questioning--seems to share a secret with us, the secret of the human condition itself. It’s difficult to find words to say how much we’ll miss his warmth, his openness and his friendship. His work will remain our companion, inspirational and full of hope."


Happy 40th Birthday, Griffon Bookstore!

Congratulations to the Griffon Bookstore, South Bend, Ind., which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Tribune reported that owners Ken Peczkowski and Sarah Bird "have seen their business continue to improve during its 40-year existence."

"I hoped we would be in business for a long time," said Peczkowski, though Bird admitted: "I never thought it would be. I thought it would be just five or 10 years, that it would be our project. I wanted to have fun, and I wanted to be happy.... Ken had sensed that there was no place for kids to go. If you were a little odd or geeky, you had no place to go back then. We opened a game room."

In October, they hosted GriffCon 40, "a combined gaming convention and celebration for the store spurred by the enthusiastic Facebook group Fans of the Griffon Bookstore," the Tribune noted. The convention drew nearly 500 people.

Peczkowski said the key to survival has been how they treat customers: "I'm continually blown away by how kind people are. I've never liked the feeling of taking advantage of customers. We know you can get games online. It's so cheap that it's sometimes below our wholesale price. But there's something about walking into a store and finding something you didn't know you wanted."

Tattered Cover's Joyce Meskis Looks Forward and Back

Westword spoke with Joyce Meskis, who will retire July 1 after the transfer of ownership of the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., to Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan is concluded. Among our favorite q&a's:

What will you be doing once the transition is complete in July?

Reading more books and discussing them with my husband; encouraging my grandchildren and other youngsters in their reading and writing; and perhaps other endeavors yet to be identified.

Looking back, what are you most proud of when it comes to the Tattered Cover?

The many dedicated booksellers, in every aspect of that definition--whether it be receiver, truck driver, buyer, IT guru, accountant, marketer or manager--who have devoted their professional lives to this community of readers we have served for more than forty years.

Twelve Titles for the President-Elect

In December, noting that President-Elect Trump has said he doesn't read much, Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah, asked customers to suggest titles that the store could include in a presidential library. About 75 titles were nominated, and the store narrowed them down to a dozen, which are being shipped to Trump Tower in New York City next week. The box will include the following titles:

Ignorance: How It Drives Science by Stuart Firestein
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
A Great Aridness by William deBuys
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Marking the Sparrow's Fall: The Making of the American West by Wallace Stegner
Mad Farmer Poems by Wendell Berry
Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth by Craig Childs
Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Islam and the Future of Tolerance by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz

Personnel Changes at Penguin Young Readers

Debra Polansky has been appointed v-p, director of sales, Penguin Young Readers. She previously was publishing director, Studio Fun International, a division of TMBI.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Omar Saif Ghobash on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Omar Saif Ghobash, author of Letters to a Young Muslim (Picador, $22, 9781250119841).

Movies: Tough as They Come

Sylvester Stallone will direct and star opposite Adam Driver in a movie adaptation of Travis Mills's memoir Tough as They Come. Deadline reported that "Fox is acquiring a package that includes the memoir, and the life rights of Mills and his father-in-law, Craig Buck." Driver will play Mills, and Stallone his father-in-law. Susan Carlson, Eric Carlson and James Keach will produce.

Stallone "just made news just before the holiday when he was courted by President Elect Donald Trump to take a top post in the NEA," Deadline wrote, adding that he "turned down the job and said he wanted to spend his time bringing national attention to returning military personnel and shining the light on the challenges of reintegrating into society."

Books & Authors

Awards: Costa Winners

Winners have been named in the five Costa Book Awards categories. Each author receives £5,000 (about $6,120) and is now eligible for the £30,000 ($36,700) Costa Book of the Year prize, which will be announced January 31. This year's Costa category winners are:

Novel: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
First novel: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
Biography: Dadland: A Journey into Uncharted Territory by Keggie Carew
Poetry: Falling Awake by Alice Oswald
Children's: The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Reading with... René Kirkpatrick

René Kirkpatrick got her bookselling start at the University of Oregon Bookstore in 1978. At first she worked part-time while getting her degree in elementary education, and then she went full-time, becoming the children's book buyer in 1985. In 1992, she and her husband moved to Seattle, where she worked with Chauni Haslet as manager and buyer for the beloved children's bookshop All for Kids Books and Music. When All for Kids closed in 2007, Kirkpatrick spent the next nine years at Third Place Books, Mockingbird Books and then Eagle Harbor Book Company. She started her job (and sixth inventory system) as children's book buyer at University Book Store on July 5, 2016. She loves reading children's books for all ages, but has a special place in her heart for a well-written science fiction space opera. 

On your nightstand now:

Is it okay if that nightstand spills out onto the floor and under the bed? There is an easy sudoku and an easy crossword puzzle book for when I can't sleep and it's after midnight. Also: Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer; Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco; Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky; Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys; Exo by Fonda Lee; Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton; Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter; The Useful Book by Sharon and David Bowers; Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance; Moonglow by Michael Chabon; The Cities That Built the Bible by Robert R. Cargill; Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato.

Favorite books when you were a child:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle; To Dance, To Dream (biographies of famous ballet dancers) by Maxine Drury; and Casper the Friendly Ghost comics

Your top five (adult book) authors:

Madeleine L'Engle, Larry McMurtry, Pete Fromm, Ray Bradbury and John Steinbeck. These are the authors whose books I would actually buy. I'd quote them, too, if I could remember any damn quotes. I never have a Post-it when I need it. These are the authors I read and re-read. I never get tired of the worlds they created and the people they invented. I could move into their books and live happily just watching it all go 'round.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Almost any book with the artwork featuring Daniel Dociu--there's something so exciting and BIG in his cover art. (He did the covers for the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey.) And I had to buy a new hardcover copy of Dune when it was released with the new cover art: all in black with a sliver of desert with travelers offset from the center. Exquisite. (I have tried to find the designer for this one but was unsuccessful.)

Book you hid from your parents:

I never had to hide any book from my mom. She was pretty sure that if I couldn't handle it, I'd stop reading, and if I could, then I was old enough. I think I was 17 before I read anything racy. It was The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry, and it was so amazing that I read it over and over again, the pages in my little orange copy from the '70s coming loose from the binding. I had to rubber-band it together. All the boys in the choir were reading it, carrying it in their back pockets, sneaking pages in between classes; I just had to read it, too.

Book that changed your life:

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl. The main character is an archeologist on a trip to another planet. She isn't from Earth, but I think they land here early in our history. Just enough romance and intrigue to completely entrance me, but what I took away from the book was that girls can be scientists. 

Favorite line from a book:

"It was a dark and stormy night." Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It's also the only line from a book I can remember.

Five books you'll never part with:

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey; Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; A Wrinkle in Time; the Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake; Dune by Frank Herbert.

Book you've faked reading:

I was very lucky that all my high school teachers had pretty darned good books to choose from and that I was naïve enough to read all the books assigned. I was way too nervous a student to try and fake my way through a book.

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

If I have to pick one, it would probably be Dune. It's a big book so it takes time to read, and the world-building is unparalleled. It's packed with such great stuff--politics, love, space travel--every time I re-read it I discover something else I didn't see before.

Book Review

Young Adult Review: We Are Okay

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Dutton, $17.99 hardcover, 240p., ages 14-up, 9780525425892, February 14, 2017)

This intimate story begins very much inside a college girl's head. Marin Delaney is alone in her dormitory at Christmastime, having decided to stay on campus in New York for a month-long semester break after Gramps, her only family, died back home in San Francisco. Her roommate Hannah asked if she was sure she'd be okay on her own... and the staff gave her the groundskeeper's number in case anything went wrong. It's obvious that a lot has gone wrong already for Marin--but the reader is in the dark at first, left to discover Marin's history in flashbacks to her life with Gramps in California.

Anyone who has ever fantasized about spending an entire month completely alone will appreciate Marin's vivid descriptions of a cleared-out dorm, surrounded by snow, so quiet she can hear the heat come on. She makes lists of things she'll do: read the New York Times online, make soup, read about solitude, meditate, watch documentaries, find new music. From her emotional depths, she wonders how she'll act when Mabel--the beautiful friend she used to "practice kissing" with, until neither one was practicing anymore--flies 3,000 miles to visit her: "I don't know what I will do with my face: if I will be able to smile, or even if I should." Will a three-day visit be too long, or too short? Will they be able to talk about Gramps? Will Marin love Mabel like she used to?

All the awkwardness and emotion of Mabel's visit are wonderfully portrayed, as the two young women do a delicate dance of friendship and love, hurt and healing, mostly inside an eerily empty dorm. In the hands of Nina LaCour (Hold Still; The Disenchantments; Everything Leads to You; co-author of You Know Me Well), the story of a grieving girl and her profound sense of loneliness is bittersweet and hopeful. Some readers will be rushing to dig up their Emerson collection ("Tomorrow is a new day") or reaching for their copy of Jane Eyre (a story Marin loves because Jane is lonely but "so strong and sincere and honest"). Others will be reminded of how humans balance the pain of knowing with that of not knowing, how thin the line between sanity and insanity can be, or how honeybees and deciduous trees remind us we are "a tiny piece of a miraculous world."

Marin is not alone, and in LaCour's poetic, skillfully crafted story, lonely teens may see it's possible that they aren't, either. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In Nina LaCour's YA novel, a grieving student with no family decides to spend winter break alone on her college campus in New York.

The Bestsellers

Top 10 Christian Titles of 2016

The top 10 Christian bestsellers of 2016, as compiled by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, are:

  1. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (Thomas Nelson)
  2. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
  3. Jesus Always by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)
  4. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (Moody)
  5. Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (B&H Publishing Group)
  6. Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst (Thomas Nelson)
  7. Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliott (Revell)
  8. Shaken by Tim Tebow (Waterbrook)
  9. Whatever Is Lovely: Adult Coloring Book (Waterbrook)
  10. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (Thomas Nelson)

For the top 100 Christian bestsellers of 2016, click here.

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