Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 27, 2017

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

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

Quotation of the Day

'Thanks, Amazon! Now Indie Bookstores Are Booming'

"Indies are thriving because of Amazon, not in spite of the Internet behemoth. This is a story of two different types of bookstores: one with vast inventory, low prices and algorithm-driven recommendations, and another that lures customers seeking tightly curated collections and a community of bookworms."

--Kristiano Ang, in a MarketWatch piece headlined "Thanks, Amazon! Now indie bookstores are booming"

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black


Wi12: Welcome to Minneapolis!

Winter Institute 2017 opens officially tonight, and once again there's good news about indie stores to greet booksellers: last year, some 87 independent bookstores opened, including 21 branches or satellites of existing businesses, according to Bookselling This Week. That was a 42.6% increase over the number of store openings in 2015. And in another sign of indie health, during last year, 15 ABA member store were bought by new owners.


Tonight, the inaugural Young Professionals Afterparty takes place from 10-11 p.m. and aims to provide a place for young professionals in bookselling and publishing to meet and network. Several booksellers are in the process of forming Indies Forward, an organization "dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and sustaining the emerging generation of innovators and leaders in the bookselling industry," Bookselling This Week wrote.

The group will focus on "development, networking, and mentorship" and "provide educational programming specifically tailored to new and emerging booksellers, on such topics as personal finance, management, and the economics of bookstores and publishing. The group plans to hold its own events as well events as part of other industry meetings."

For more information on Indies Forward, write to


The Winter Institute's app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.

The app contains a full schedule, a list of attending authors, maps of the hotel and Minneapolis and more. The ABA will use the app also for late-breaking news and schedule changes.

By the way, the list of attending authors is also available here.


On Saturday, tomorrow evening, Reading Group Choices and Milkweed Books, the bookstore that Milkweed Editions opened last September, are hosting "a literary extravaganza," featuring book giveaways, snacks and author speed dating, an event geared toward reading groups but open to anyone, including Winter Institute attendees.

The authors featured are Hala Alyan, Tricia Levensellers, Marina Benjamin, Ashley Shelby, Heather Harpham, Beth Dooley, Deepak Unnikrishnan and Jamie Harrison. The event, which takes place at Milkweed Books, starts at 6 with a reception, continues with speed dating from 6:30-7:30 and signings and shopping from 7:30-8. The event is free, but please RSVP.

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

The Red Door Books Is Relocating to Mebane, N.C.

The Red Door Books & Art, which opened last year in Saxapahaw, N.C., is relocating in March to Mebane. On Facebook yesterday, the bookseller posted: "It wasn't an easy decision at all, but we should let you know that we're moving out of Saxapahaw. Starting in March, we'll be on Clay St. in downtown Mebane. Check out our cozy new space!

"We absolutely love Saxapahaw, and it was our intention to stay forever, but things don't always go according to plan. We'll be open in Saxapahaw through February, and we hope that you visit us in Saxapahaw and in Mebane. Any questions you might have about the move, ask us below and we'll do the best to give you answers. Again, moving from Saxapahaw saddened our hearts, as we have thoroughly fallen in love with the village by the banks of the Haw. But we're making the best of it, and we're looking forward to our new home in Mebane. Stop on by and say hi!"

Independent Bookstore Day Author Ambassador: Emma Straub

Emma Straub(photo by Jennifer Bastien)

The third annual Independent Bookstore Day, which will be celebrated at more than 490 independent bookstores on Saturday, April 29, has chosen as this year's Author Ambassador Emma Straub, the author who is also a former bookseller and soon-to-be bookstore owner.

"Independent bookstores are my first stops in any new city, a quick check of the pulse in any literary community," Straub said. "They are ports in the storm, passageways to magical lands, escape hatches out of bad moods. Even when I don't think I need a book, because the stack beside my bed is teetering toward the ceiling, I always need a bookstore. And then I usually need a book, too."

Straub worked for several years at BookCourt in Brooklyn, N.Y., while writing her first novel. She has since published three novels, Modern Lovers, The Vacationers and Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, as well as the short story collection Other People We Married. When BookCourt's owners decided to retire and close the store late last year, leaving Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood without a bookstore, Straub announced she and her husband would open one in the area called Books Are Magic.

Independent Bookstore Day program director Samantha Schoech said, "Indie bookstores have always been the beating hearts of their communities. And in today's complicated world, indie bookstores offer much-needed welcoming spaces filled with a universe of ideas and stories. The fact that they are not only getting by but actually thriving in the face of online discounters and chain store competition just proves how valuable they are as local cultural anchors. We can't wait to celebrate indie bookstores and the readers who love them on Saturday, April 29."

Ten Speed Serves Up New Cooking and Lifestyle Imprint, Lorena Jones Books

Ten Speed Press has created a new cooking and lifestyle imprint called Lorena Jones Books, which will be overseen by v-p and publisher Lorena Jones. The imprint will release six to eight illustrated and nonillustrated books annually in the areas of cooking, work life and health. The cookbooks will target committed, sophisticated, and style-conscious cooks. The titles on work life are geared to resourceful, independent-minded professionals, and the health publishing will be developed for consumers who embrace self-care ideas that are based on leading researchers' new findings and recommendations.

Lorena Jones

The imprint's first books will appear in April and include Tartine All Day by Elisabeth Prueitt, Peppers of the Americas by Maricel Presilla, Cheers to the Publican, Repast and Present by Paul Kahan, The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business by Elaine Pofeldt and How Healing Works by Dr. Wayne Jonas. Future Lorena Jones Books include a major investigation into the diet industry by journalist Barry Estabrook and the first cookbook from Gabriela Cámara, chef and restaurateur of Mexico City's beloved Contramar and San Francisco's Cala.

Jones spent 14 years at Ten Speed, beginning in 1995, including as editorial director and publisher, before moving to Chronicle Books in 2009 as publishing director. She returned to Ten Speed in late 2015 to develop this imprint.

She commented: "It is incredibly energizing to bring authors I've published and experts I admire to the widest readership in collaboration with Ten Speed and Crown Publishing Group colleagues, who are deeply committed to publishing the best talent in highly creative, strategic, and enduring ways. Building on the critical and commercial success of Ten Speed, I look forward to making a meaningful and distinct contribution to the company's market-leading publishing."

Aaron Wehner, senior v-p and publisher of Ten Speed Press, Clarkson Potter and Harmony Books, said, "We are thrilled to welcome Lorena Jones Books as a major contributor to the Ten Speed Press publishing program. Shaped by Lorena's creative vision, editorial dexterity, and market savvy--along with her sterling reputation as a collaborative partner to authors, agents, and booksellers--her imprint will be a force in the lifestyle space. Ten Speed's publishing and business overall will benefit greatly from Lorena's deep experience, entrepreneurial mindset, and innovative approach to all aspects of her work."

SIBA Offering Publisher Discount to Promote Diversity

In "an effort to expand exposure to its bookstore members and their customers to books by people of color," the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance will offer a 35% discount to publishers who wish to promote their minority authors and illustrators for 2017. The discount, which starts February 1, applies to any book that has been written or illustrated by a person of color and to all SIBA promotions with the exception of its annual holiday catalogue.

"We had a strong call from our members to increase diversity in SIBA programming," said SIBA's executive director Wanda Jewell, "and to work with stores to increase the demand for diverse books," adding that SIBA has already made an internal commitment to promote minority authors and books in its consumer-targeted programs, such as the Lady Banks Commonplace Book newsletter.

"But it is an all-hands-on-deck process. Our booksellers are deeply committed to diversity, and we want publishers to see our membership as an enthusiastic and profitable audience for their minority writers." For more information, contact Jewell at

S&S Sets Broadway Debut of 'Book Club Matinee'

On the afternoon of Saturday, March 11, Simon & Schuster is hosting the Book Club Matinee in New York City, an event geared to book club members that features six authors popular with book clubs. The "lively, book-focused conversation" will take place at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater and include Isabel Allende (The Japanese Lover); Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See); Lisa Genova (Still Alice); Megan Miranda (All the Missing Girls); Lisa See (The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane) and Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10).

The program will include solo talks as well as conversations. Elisabeth Egan, books editor at Glamour and author of A Window Opens, Carol Fitzgerald, president of the Book Report Network, and Leigh Haber, books editor for O, The Oprah Magazine, are among the moderators. 

"We're delighted to bring the excitement of a multi-author live event to an audience of devoted readers," said Liz Perl, executive v-p and chief marketing officer of Simon & Schuster. "Bringing books to Broadway by hosting this unique gathering at the landmark Ed Sullivan Theater, site of the Beatles' U.S. debut performance, home of the Late Show with David Letterman and now that of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, makes this a can't miss event."

Partners for the Book Club Matinée include the Book Report Network, the Library Hotel and Zabar's. Already the event is nearly sold out, according to S&S.

Obituary Note: Harry Mathews

American writer Harry Mathews, "a longtime editor of the Paris Review who was best known for his novels My Life in CIA and The Conversions," and "who helped bring French novelist Georges Perec to worldwide notice," died January 25, the Nation reported. He was 86. Mathews "was also the only American to have been admitted to Oulipo, a celebrated experimental group of French writers and mathematicians who believe constrained writing techniques are the key to invention," the Nation wrote. His many books include Cigarettes; Tlooth; The New Tourism; Journalist; and The Case of the Persevering Maltese: Collected Essays.

The Paris Review noted that, in Mathews, it "has lost one of its most faithful and best-loved contributors, a writer we've worked with for more than 50 years--beginning in 1962, when we ran an excerpt from his first novel, The Conversions. Now, in our new Spring issue, we'll publish an excerpt from the novel he just finished, The Solitary Twin."

In a 2007 interview for the Paris Review's Art of Fiction series, Mathews told publisher Susannah Hunnewell: "I've always said that my ideal reader would be someone who after finishing one of my novels would throw it out the window, presumably from an upper floor of an apartment building in New York, and by the time it had landed would be taking the elevator down to retrieve it.

"I suppose I must have had dreams of greater recognition, but I've always had the audience I wanted, and that was the audience that reads poetry. What I want is enthusiasm among friends and their friends, people who I know are serious readers."


Image of the Day: Dystopian Fiction

Following the presidential inauguration a week ago, dystopian fiction has become so popular that 1984 by George Orwell has jumped to the top of some bestseller lists, is in demand at libraries, and Penguin has gone back to press for another 75,000 copies of the Signet Classics mass market edition of the 1949 novel, which gave the world the phrases Big Brother, newspeak, doublethink and more. Labyrinth Books Princeton, Princeton, N.J., created an endcap display that features 1984 and related titles, including The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, Animal Farm by George Orwell. Out of view are Confidence Man by Herman Melville and The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard.

Labyrinth Books Princeton manager and buyer Stephen Walter reported a picture of the display "has brought by far our largest Facebook response--always comforting to realize just how many engaged readers there are still."

'Most Beautiful' Japanese Bookstore Opens Taipei Branch

Tsutaya, the Japanese retail chain whose Tokyo shop was on Flavorwire's 2013 list of the "20 most beautiful bookstores in the world," opened its first overseas branch, in Taipei, this week, on the 5th floor of the Uni-Ustyle Department Store in Xinyi District, Taiwan News reported. Tsutaya plans to open five branches in Taiwan within three years, with each location featuring "different styles based on the local environment and target audience."

Paul Ingram: Prairie Lights Icon Turns a Page

Paul Ingram

Describing Paul Ingram as "a bastion of good books throughout the country and an iconic voice in the City of Literature," the Iowa City Press-Citizen featured a glowing tribute to the bookseller extraordinaire who recently retired from Prairie Lights after 27 years with the bookstore to "spend more time with his wife of 32 years, Ellen Heywood, their grandchildren and, of course, books."

Jan Weissmiller, co-owner of Prairie Lights and Ingram's longtime colleague, noted that "Paul is uncannily intelligent, charismatic, warm and inimitable. Reading and promoting books has been his life's work. He did that perfectly for 50 years, and the world noticed. He's a whirlwind in both thought and action.... He's a world-class bookseller. His love of human nature in all of its forms allowed him to connect books to readers in a way that seems, in my experience, to be nearly unsurpassed."

Ingram observed that "bookstores are great because you can come and hang out there. People can sit up here for hours and just talk about books or read. It's lively, and it's important for communities to have local places like that."

Guiding customers to great new authors "was one of Ingram's greatest skills for the book lovers of Iowa City, who are always on the hunt for the next great write," the Press-Citizen noted. Iowa Writers' House founder Andrea Wilson said, "From the moment I spoke with Paul, he grabbed my hand, took me over to the shelves and gave me a book of an up-and-coming writer. He told me 'This guy, you have to get him. I love what you're doing, and you're going to need people like this. Before they go big, you want them to teach.' "

Ingram "is confident the bookstore will continue to be a bastion of good books in his absence, though he'll never be away from the store for too many days consecutively," the Press-Citizen wrote. "In the weeks after his retirement, Ingram can still commonly be found at the store sipping coffee, talking books and offering up recommendations."

Said Ingram: "Working at Prairie Lights is such a prestigious job. People who get a job here don't ever want to go. But it's time for me to move on."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Between Dog and Wolf on All Things Considered

All Things Considered: Sasha Sokolov and Alexander Boguslawski, author and translator, respectively, of Between Dog and Wolf (Columbia University Press, $14.95, 9780231181471).

CBS San Francisco: Dan Zigmond, author of Buddha's Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight without Losing Your Mind (Running Press, $16.95, 9780762460465)

Face the Nation: Hugh Hewitt, author of The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting GOP Majority (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781501172441).

Movies: Sophie & the Rising Sun; A Woman of No Importance

A clip has been released for Maggie Greenwald's Sophie and the Rising Sun, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Indiewire reported. Based on Augusta Trobaugh's novel, the film stars Julianne Nicholson, Takashi Yamaguchi, Margo Martindale, Lorraine Toussaint, Diane Ladd, Joel Murray and more. Sophie and the Rising Sun opens January 27.


Paramount Pictures has acquired Sonia Purnell's upcoming book, A Woman of No Importance, and has attached Star Wars' Daisy Ridley to star. J.J. Abrams's Bad Robot will produce. Deadline reported that the book is "the biography of American heiress and super-spy Virginia Hall, who attempted to break into the ranks of the American Foreign Service in the years before World War II. Rejected because of gender and a disability--she lost part of her leg in a hunting accident--Hall worked during the war for the British intelligence unit SOE. She later joined the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA."

Books & Authors

2017 Caldecott Winner Javaka Steptoe: A Labor of Love

"Somewhere in Brooklyn, between the hearts
that thump, double Dutch, and hopscotch

and salty mouths that slurp sweet ice,
a little boy dreams of being a famous ARTIST." --from Radiant Child

photo: Gregg Richards

Javaka Steptoe is an award-winning artist, author, designer and illustrator. His debut picture book, In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall, won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award in 1998, and Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio received a Coretta Scott King Honor. His latest bookRadiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), won the 2017 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and the 2017 Caldecott Medal. Shelf Awareness talked with Steptoe on the phone, hours after these awards were announced in Atlanta on January 23.

Congratulations, Javaka! Everybody wants to hear about "the call," when the American Library Association's awards committees call the winners early in the morning, but you got two calls on Monday. How did that work?

So, I was lying in the bed and I was thinking I may be a contender for these particular medals but, okay, you know... maybe nothing. I'm still on New York time, but I'm in Seattle. The Coretta Scott King committee had Rudine Sims Bishop call me, and I've known Rudine since In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall (Lee & Low Books), so it was just nice to hear her voice and have her be the one who called me. And also she got a lifetime achievement award [Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement], which I found out later on... she said nothing about it.

And then I figured, okay, I got the CSK, I'm happy with that, I better just start my day. So I jumped in the shower and then I got the Caldecott call, and my girlfriend was like, "Javaka, the phone! The phone!" So I was trying to turn my phone on without messing it up from being wet.

What do you think of all this?

This all just made me kind of sit and ponder. It creates a lot of possibilities. It creates a situation where people want to hear what you have to say about things. And so in that way it makes me have to be a better person. Not like you have to be good and make sure you say "hello" to everybody, just, like, who are you? What are you going to say to the world? Not like, I'm just going to fly off and say anything that comes to my mind. Now the question is, what facts do you have behind what you say? Is what you're saying based in reality? How are these things you're saying affecting the world and making it a better place?

How did you decide to create a book about Brooklyn-raised graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)? Was he a personal inspiration to you? Or did you just like his work?

All of the above. I feel like he comes from where I come from, you know? He put skelly boards in his artwork, and I played skelly in the Brooklyn streets. I ran the streets of the Lower East Side and the Village and hung out in the places he hung out at, and I've created art and, you know, it's inspiring as a young African American male growing up to see someone you know who looks like you and he's on the cover of Time magazine for his artwork. It reflects back at me because I see my experiences in his artwork.

Tell me about your relationship with New York and how it manifested itself in Radiant Child--I know you literally used parts of the city in the artwork.

I think when you're an artist, your subject matter is always yourself to a certain extent because it's always centered on something that you find really interesting. And so I really feel like me and my brother and my sisters were a part of New York City. My mother and father weren't together, so we were traveling back and forth from my mother's to my father's house. We have this great knowledge of the subways and different neighborhoods. And New York City is a place where you see, you experience almost anything. You have the richest people, you have the poorest people and everything in between. Riding the trains, I saw the graffiti and the artwork and the culture. Living in predominantly black neighborhoods and also going to the 59th Street Y. It all became food for my art.

How long did it take you to make all that art for the book?

To be honest, the labor-intensive part is more in the thinking. What am I going to do, how am I going to do it. Because it all has to make sense. It's almost like a math equation. If one plus one is not equaling two, then I have to figure out what needs to be changed.

You've been making books for a long time. How did you get your start in children's books?

My first book was In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall, and it's really weird to say I've been doing this for 20 years, but I basically have. I guess I got my start in two ways. I got my start through being the apprentice of my father [award-winning children's book creator John Steptoe]. Some of it through osmosis and some of it just asking, "How do you this, Dad? How do you do that?" And then, meeting up with Lee & Low Books because of Pat Cummings. Pat gave me Lee & Low's information and said, "Go show them your work!" I had a bunch of pictures about fathers--no, actually, they weren't about fathers, they showed men with children. Lee & Low liked those particular drawings the most, and they called me back and said let's do a book about fathers, and the rest is history.

Tell me a little bit about the physical artwork in your book.

Since I'm someone who does collage and assemblage and that type of artwork, I've created a rule for myself: I only keep a certain amount of stuff in my house and after that I have to get rid of it, because if I don't I might have to be on one of those TV shows.... When I'm working on a project, I collect materials. There's a store that sells re-used housing materials, so I got a lot from there and I also went around town--into SoHo, into the Village, the Lower East Side, I found some stuff in a Brooklyn Museum dumpster. I try to keep it as orderly as possible, so I have boxes of stuff.

When I'm working, I go into the boxes and pick out what I need and just put it together. The actual work is on a layer of plywood, which is like 1/8" or sometimes even 1/4" plywood and--just so I knew that each painting was somewhat uniform in size--I would lay down all the different blocks of wood on these plywoods. Each painting, each illustration, had its own feeling to it, so I tried to pick wood that went with that feeling.

Radiant Child is so specific in its setting and subject, but I think any creative child would feel inspired by it.

Thank you. I've been thinking a lot about genius: What is that? I think there are definitely people with special abilities. A few people have the ability to not get caught up in fear. A lot of what happens with people is that they think they can't do it, or they don't know how to do it, they don't want to be embarrassed, they don't want to look like they don't know what they're doing, and so there's this big battle in their head and what happens is they wind up not doing anything. A lot of these people who we call genius, they have a couple of things in common, and one of those things is to not worry about what other people are thinking about them. Not worry about if they sound ugly or look ugly. They do what they do. And they're going to keep doing it. And they find their way.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers of Shelf Awareness?

Only that it was a labor of love. It was something that I really put my heart into, and I appreciate the love I'm getting back in return.

--Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Reading with... Sophie Kinsella

photo: John Swannell

In addition to the Shopaholic series, Sophie Kinsella is the author of the standalones I've Got Your Number, Can You Keep A Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl and Wedding Night. My (Not So) Perfect Life is published by Dial Press (February 7, 2017). Kinsella lives in England with her family, where she is working on her next standalone novel.

On your nightstand now:

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I love her writing--Bel Canto is a real favourite--and I have been looking forward to diving into this.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oh no, impossible to choose only one! I loved anything by Enid Blyton, especially the Malory Towers series, also E. Nesbit for her wit, the Alice books by Lewis Carroll and many books featuring ponies or ballerinas. Or both, as in the case of Veronica at the Wells by Lorna Hill, another favourite. In this series, all the ballerinas ride horses, which seems quite unlikely, now that I think about it, but it worked for me as a child.

Your top five authors:

I will go for Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, David Lodge and Douglas Adams.

Book you've faked reading:

Most of the Booker prize list, most years!

I also bluffed along, pretending that I'd read Middlemarch by George Eliot for years. The title sounded pretty dull to me. When, eventually, I decided to read it, I couldn't believe I'd missed out on such a treat for so long, and now it's one of my favourite books.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. This is such a wonderful book; I've bought it for loads of people. It's a poem-cum-novel, for children but for adults, too. It's about writing poetry but so much more besides. It's deceptively simple; you read it in one sitting and have a tear in your eye by the end.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I just bought a Folio Society hardback copy of The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden for the absolutely beautiful cover. I then read it, discovered it was the most mesmerizing, atmospheric novel, and on the strength of that, have just ordered the DVD of the film adaptation. So that beautiful cover was definitely worth buying for!

Book you hid from your parents:

Lace by Shirley Conran. We passed it around at school and I knew some bits almost by heart!

Book that changed your life:

As a child, I read the copy of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, taken from my stocking on Christmas morning, before my parents had even woken up. That made me realize the power of a good story.

Favorite line from a book:

"It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr Knightley must marry no one but herself!" --from Emma by Jane Austen. I love this line, because we've been waiting so long for it. Finally, Emma realizes what we all knew ages ago!

Five books you'll never part with:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has incomparable wit, observation and romance. Small World by David Lodge is so clever, inventive and funny. It's set in the world of academic conferences and once I pick it up, I can't put it down. Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith is a book I read about once a year and enjoy every time. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll is an all-time favourite, and I will never grow out of the absurd logic and humour. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie is one of my favourite of her novels and, thankfully, I always forget who did it when I come to read it again!

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

Philip's Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy. I read these without knowing anything in advance--I didn't read any blurbs or reviews--so everything felt very fresh. The stories unfolded into this miraculous, fantastical other world, with many issues and philosophical wonderings along the way, and I was utterly gripped.

Book Review

Review: Everything Belongs to Us

Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Random House, $27 hardcover, 368p., 9780812998542, February 28, 2017)

Less a debut and more an arrival, this arresting first novel from Yoojin Grace Wuertz brings to life a South Korea poised on the brink of transformation and the young people caught up in its turbulence.

Childhood friends Namin and Jisun have always managed to ignore their differences, or at least pretended to. As students at Seoul National University in the fading days of the 1970s, though, their friendship may finally fail to survive their divergent paths. Jisun lives in a mansion and stands to inherit her father's wildly lucrative shipping business. Her older brother founded The Circle, the most prestigious and exclusive society at SNU. However, these legacies mean little to Jisun, who rebels against her family by acting as a translator for American missionaries who secretly encourage factory workers to unionize, and by marching in workers' strikes.

Namin, her parents and her elder sister, Kyungmin, share a three-room house with no hot water or indoor plumbing in one of Seoul's poorest neighborhoods. Kyungmin works long hours in a factory, and their parents operate a dilapidated food cart to pay for Namin's education in hopes she will raise the family from poverty. All Namin wants is entry to The Circle, with its assurance of influential friends and a gateway to the success she needs to care for her mentally handicapped brother, who lives with her grandparents to remove some pressure from her immediate family. Though a mutual outsider status at the private girls' school Jisun and Namin both attended in childhood bonded the pair, their growing impatience with each other's differing views of the future damages their relationship. When Sunam, an average student caught up in the possibility of Circle membership, begins dating Namin, he inadvertently walks into a web of drama that could tear all their lives apart.

Inspired by stories of her parents' college days in South Korea, Wuertz evokes a time of change in a country with which most Westerners aren't very familiar. Despite the time gap, readers will easily draw parallels between the South Korean generation pictured here and today's millennials, both groups of young people set to inherit sink-or-swim social orders with huge gaps in wealth. Deep, thoughtful characterizations drive the slow-burning plot; Wuertz's investment in exploring every angle of Jisun and Namin's inner lives pays off in an emotionally rich and resonant final act. Powerful and absorbing, Everything Belongs to Us introduces a new and compelling voice. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Seldom explored in American fiction, South Korea comes to life in this debut following two college students, one rich and one poor, as their lifelong friendship struggles to its close.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: ABA WI01--Once Upon a Time...

It's quite possible that while you are reading this Friday morning, I'm on a flight to Minneapolis, where I'll have the pleasure of covering the 12th annual ABA Winter Institute with several of my Shelf Awareness colleagues.

I've been thinking about how far WI has come in just 11 years, which is probably what sparked that "once upon a time" headline above. On August 8, 2005, Shelf Awareness reported "the ABA will hold its first annual Winter Education Institute on January 26 and 27 in Long Beach, Calif. Free to all ABA members and staff, the Institute will feature education programming ABA put on at BEA and some new sessions; it is for both new and veteran booksellers. The program includes a 'What Are You Reading?' breakfast (its lunch equivalent at BEA is highly popular), a welcome lunch, an evening reception and an independent retailing luncheon."

What were you doing 11 years ago? Maybe you were at the first Winter Institute. I wasn't. In fact, I was still a few months away from joining Shelf Awareness, but this week I found myself time traveling through the archives to explore the origin story of WI01 (though it wasn't called that at the time, of course).

On December 23, Shelf Awareness reported that 260 booksellers from 170 stores had registered for the first Winter Institute. By January 26, 2006, WI01 finally opened "with a striking number of attendees--altogether 360 people have registered for the event," more than double the 150 that then-ABA CEO Avin Domnitz had said the organization would consider a "great amount."

The January 30, 2006 edition of Shelf Awareness featured the first of several pieces on the inaugural conference, under the headline: "Grade for ABA's First Winter Institute: A+." The piece noted that the nearly 400 attendees "had nothing but praise for the event. The mood was relaxed but intense, and many remarked on how easy it was to talk shop and socialize. Several industry veterans went so far as to call it the best bookseller-oriented event they had ever attended."

That's how it all began. In the archives, I found many tidbits that were, after more than decade, intriguing in both prospect and retrospect. Here's a sampling:

• "The seminars, most of which were similar to ones presented at BEA, emphasized business principles, how to increase sales, and such current topics as buy local programs and what independents can learn from independent businesses in other industries...."

• "One of the most striking sessions was the Emerging Leaders late-evening meeting at which many people, young and old, discussed the difficulties younger booksellers encounter. Relatively low wages and a lack of room for advancement at many bookstores were familiar themes. But as expressed by passionate, articulate and intelligent booksellers, the problems took on a more personal, more powerful form. One particularly poignant moment came when a young buyer at a large independent said that at BEA and other gatherings, even her peers at comparable stores don't treat her with much respect. Of course, the problem of who will be 'the next generation' of booksellers is all the more important nowadays because of the attractiveness of careers in other industries, particularly the Internet...."

• "There was no question that booksellers like the Winter Institute and want it to be repeated.... Several ABA staff members said a Winter Institute would likely continue being held in a part of the country far from BEA's location that year. Ironically the ABA may be faced with an unforeseen challenge: how to keep a popular event from growing so big that it might lose its cozy, focused quality."

Avin Domnitz

• "Above the Treeline, the online 'tool in managing inventory that has never existed before,' as ABA CEO Avin Domnitz put it, was the hot, new thing at the Winter Institute for the many booksellers unfamiliar with it. Above the Treeline had nearly 100 ABA member stores signed up before the event; based on bookseller reaction, that number will grow substantially this week."

• "One of the most entertaining and talked-about presentations at the ABA's Winter Institute last week was the panel on the Bookstore as Third Place, which featured Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, whose main store is in Coral Gables, Fla., Philip Rafshoon of Outwrite Bookstore and Coffee House, Atlanta, Ga., and showstopper Collette Morgan, owner of Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn."

• Russ Lawrence, owner of Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont., and v-p/secretary of the ABA, said bookstores "should have websites even if sales aren't high. 'People may not buy online but they use independent store websites to search for books and look up events,' he explained. 'They will find out information and bring it into the store to buy there.' Like store advertising and newsletters, a website should reflect the store's personality and content should be changed regularly. Lawrence commended for 'providing wonderful content to bring people to the site again and again.' "

• Dee Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., "has been involved in a local organization called Sustainable Connections since its founding about four years ago.... Robinson said that 'the public is receptive. The mindset has changed over the years, and now they get it. They understand why buying local is important.' "

In the March 31 issue, Shelf Awareness reported: "Following the colossal success of the first ABA Winter Institute, held this past January in Long Beach, Calif., the association has noted that interest in the next Winter Institute, scheduled for Los Angeles early next year, has grown dramatically even though the ABA is not yet accepting registrations."

And now here we are in Minneapolis for WI12, ready for the next chapter of this pageturner.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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