Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 14, 2017

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

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

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

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

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

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

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

Quotation of the Day

Ruebén Martinez: 'A Century of Languages & Cultures'

"This is what I pass on to young people today. That passion, that caring, that giving, that participating, that listening... I tell them, 'Did you know that almost 56% of Americans only speak one language, and you've been speaking two since you were in kindergarten?' This 21st century that we live in is a century of languages and cultures. I say, 'Be proud of your parents, be proud of your grandparents, be proud of your first language....'

"I have the opportunity to go on a national level and talk about books in Spanish, and it's happening in my 70s... I'm never going to retire. It's too late for me. I'm at the point of no return."

--Ruebén Martinez, founder of Libreria Martinez and winner of this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prize Innovator's Award for his work promoting books and reading within the Latino-American and Spanish-speaking communities

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


Bird Cage Book Store Launches in Rapid City, S.D.

Bird Cage Book Store and Mercantile recently opened in the Racing Magpie space located at 406 5th Street, Rapid City, S.D. Native Sun News reported that the store will feature Native American book titles of the Northern Plains, including children's books, women's literature, print on demand books, Native American classics, local Native American authors and more.

"We are dedicated to preserving our stories by carrying literature of our Indigenous writers and making sure our people and others have access to these stories and books," said owner Lily Mendoza.

Bird Cage Book Store and Mercantile also carries Fair Trade products, including canned goods from the Cheyenne River Youth Project, book bags made by a local Lakota woman and Julie Boucher Fry Bread Mix. "We will continue to add products, to support our local and regional artisans," Mendoza noted.

The Racing Magpie space "will allow Bird Cage Book Store to organize community book clubs and discussions, children's activities, such as story times. A place to gather community around literacy," Native Sun News wrote. 

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Firefly Bookstore Opens in New Space

Firefly Bookstore has opened its new location at 271 W. Main St., Kutztown, Pa., the Reading Eagle reported, adding that the business, which had occupied a smaller Main St. storefront since 2012, needed to expand.

"It was a great location, but only about a third of the size we're in now," said co-owner Matthew Williams, who noted that shelves were double-stacked with books and the store was unable to act as a venue for its events. "We crowded out the space we reserved for that."

The new 3,000 square feet of space was designed with the community in mind and includes a children's section to "encourage shoppers with its amphitheater shape and varied selection," according to co-owner Rebecca Laincz. "When you find anything that's fun for them, it turns them into a reader. Kids, these days, are readers." The front section of the store will provide a flexible area to play board games or conduct author events, as well as a lounge area with comfortable seating for book clubs or meetings.

"The community has been very responsive," Williams said. "The downtown is definitely evolving. There are more places staying open later. We're finding more and more things for nonstudents.... It was very important for us to have the entire community find something of value here."

Update: Charis Books & More's Relocation Pics, Plans

Charis Books' future home

Last December, Feminist bookstore Charis Books & More announced plans, in partnership with Agnes Scott College, to begin relocating from Little Five Points in Atlanta, Ga., where it has been a fixture for 42 years, to Decatur. This week the bookstore offered "first looks" at its future location.

"We're excited to share the first photos with you of our future location at 184 South Candler St.," Charis noted. "We think this new house looks pretty great as is (especially since she was built in 1900!), but we're working with an architect, contractor, and a team of amazing folks from Agnes Scott to ensure that this new home feels as welcoming, warm, and inspiring as our current space in Little Five Points. In addition to working with the college to renovate for accessibility, we're also using the years of feedback we have received from all of you to design this space for maximum comfort, beauty, and connection."

Charis said it has signed a lease to remain in the current building at 1189 Euclid Ave. NE in Atlanta through February 2018: "We will celebrate one more November birthday in Little 5 Points and one last holiday season before moving over to Decatur in late winter/early spring 2018. We are excited for the opportunity to celebrate our current home and our beloved Little 5 Points neighborhood for the rest of this year and to honor this space which has been a gathering ground for so many."

Pearson & Chegg Partnering on U.S. Textbook Rentals

Pearson will partner with Chegg, the online textbook rental company, "to make its higher education textbooks more affordable to use, as part of a new 'rental-only' model," the Bookseller reported. Effective this fall in the U.S. market, print and e-book versions of approximately 50 editions of "high-volume" Pearson titles will be available to rent through Chegg.

Tim Bozik, president, global product at Pearson, said the program, "along with Pearson's other affordability initiatives, provide faculty and students with quality Pearson materials at an affordable price point."

Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig said the partnership will "accelerate our ability to make high quality education resources accessible to every student. We applaud Pearson's recent moves to focus on the financial needs of students while also embracing the new and innovative pricing models and channels that meet the needs of today's students."

Obituary Note: Teddy Getty Gaston

Teddy Getty Gaston, "who wrote an unflinching memoir about her marriage to J. Paul Getty," died April 8, the Los Angeles Times reported. She was 103. Decades after Getty died in 1976, she chronicled their relationship in the 2013 memoir Alone Together: My Life with J. Paul Getty, "a story of glamour and pain in early 20th-century America that pulled back some of the mystique from one of America's best-known billionaires."


Happy 25th Birthday, Saturn Booksellers!

Congratulations to Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich., which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an unusual promotion: for two weeks, every 25th book it rings up will be free.

As owner Jill Minter explained to customers: "Because we wouldn't be here without you, our fabulous customers, we want to share the joy and thank you all at the same time. So... from Monday, April 17th, through Saturday, April 29th, every 25th book purchased at the store or on our website will be FREE. Yep, FREE!  And you won't know if you've bought the 2nd or 18th or--surprise--25th book until you've checked out. We can hardly wait to surprise customers over and over as, after someone buys the 25th book, we'll just go back and start counting with #1 again. All day, seven days a week, from the 17th through the 29th."

In addition, Saturn is giving away three $25 gift certificates. Anyone who helps "spread the word" by liking and sharing the store's Facebook post for the next two weeks will be entered into a drawing for the gift certificates.

Personnel Changes at Workman; HCCP

Kate Travers has been named executive director, digital operations for Workman Publishing, where she will oversee the company's digital business, including web operations, title and asset management, and e-book distribution and promotion.


Beth Ryan has been promoted to senior director of sales for ministry services at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In 1981, she started with the organization as special projects secretary under Royal Publishers, then a division of Thomas Nelson. Since then she has served in various positions in the ministry sales team.

Media and Movies

Media Heat:

The Chew: Clinton Kelly, author of I Hate Everyone, Except You (Gallery, $24.99, 9781476776934).

NPR's Weekend Edition: Olivia Sudjic, author of Sympathy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544836594).

Face the Nation: David McCullough, author of The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781501174216).

60 Minutes will air a feature on Drs. Sanduk Ruit and Geoffrey Tabin, cofounders of the Himalayan Cataract Project and the subjects of Second Suns: Two Trailblazing Doctors and Their Quest to Cure Blindness, One Pair of Eyes at a Time by David Oliver Relin (The Experiment, $16.95, 9781615193622).

Jude Law Is Younger Dumbledore in Next Fantastic Beasts

Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Young Pope) will play the role of Albus Dumbledore "long before he became Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry" in the second film of the Fantastic Beasts series, Pottermore announced, adding that the character "is the wizarding school's Transfiguration professor and a contemporary of Gellert Grindelwald--the Dark wizard we met in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, played by Johnny Depp."

Five films are planned for the franchise, with David Yates returning as director. Filming begins this summer on the sequel to Fantastic Beasts, which is scheduled for release November 16, 2018.

"Jude Law is a phenomenally talented actor whose work I've long admired and I'm looking forward to finally having the opportunity to work with him," Yates said. "I know he will brilliantly capture all the unexpected facets of Albus Dumbledore as J.K. Rowling reveals this very different time in his life."

TV: The Mist

A trailer has been released for Spike TV's upcoming 10-episode series The Mist, based on a story by Stephen King, Deadline reported. The project stars Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney, Danica Curcic, Okezie Morro, Luke Cosgrove, Darren Pettie, Russell Posner, Dan Butler, Isiah Washington, Jr. and Frances Conroy. The Mist, which premieres June 22, was reimagined for television by executive producer and writer Christian Torpe and produced for Spike by TWC-Dimension Television. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse

A shortlist has been released for the 2017 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, the Bookseller reported. The winner, who will be announced just ahead of the Hay Festival, receives a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, a complete set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection and a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after the winning novel. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Bridget Jones's Baby by Helen Fielding
To Be Continued... by  James Robertson
Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe
Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe 

Reading with... Kim Dinan

photo: Brian Patton

Kim Dinan is the author of the travel adventure The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World (Sourcebooks, April 4, 2017). Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Parks and Recreation, Northwest TravelTrailer LifeGo Explore and OnTrak. She has backpacked to more than 25 countries on five continents and called India, Mexico and numerous campgrounds around the U.S. home. She lives in Ohio with her husband and daughter.

On your nightstand now:

At the moment I'm reading Diana, Herself by Martha Beck and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a book I'm particularly interested in, having grown up in Ohio with parents from Appalachia. I've also got A Year with Rumi, which I read each morning before leaving bed. Stacked nearby are The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks (I'm on a Rumi kick), The Places That Scare You by Pema Chödrön, The Writing Life by Marie Arana, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and about 14 children's books.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I lived for There's a Nightmare in my Closet by Mercer Mayer. Something about the dark, moody illustrations and the idea that a terrifying beast could be lurking behind every closed door. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised I didn't grow up to write horror. Later I obsessively read every single book in the Baby-Sitters Club series, and in high school I read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, which started my lifelong obsession with the Appalachian Trail.

Your top five authors:

That's a hard one to answer but I'll read anything by Joan Didion, Jon Krakauer, Paulo Coelho, Cheryl Strayed and John Irving.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok, which got me kicked out of AP English in high school. I felt so guilty for so many years that I bought it as an adult and tried it again but still couldn't get through it. I guess that one just wasn't meant to be.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The first book I ever really loved for its beauty was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. But the books I continuously recommend are Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, a book so funny that my husband and I still talk about it weekly, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, which just sticks with me for both its simplicity and the way Joyce captures the joy and clarity that comes from taking really, really long walks.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I do this all the time, especially if the book is on the sale rack. Basically if it has mountains, bears or any kind of foreboding wilderness scenery on the cover I will buy it.

Book you hid from your parents:

The only book I hid from my parents was my angsty teenage diary--and they found it anyway.

Book that changed your life:

One evening many moons ago I picked up a book called U-Turn: What if You Woke Up One Morning and Realized You Were Living the Wrong Life by Bruce Grierson off of the sale rack at Powell's. I read it on the bus back and forth to my desk job and it gave me heart palpitations. I was living the wrong life and I knew it, but the thought of changing my life felt way too scary. In the book, Grierson chronicles over 300 people he calls "U-turners," who risked everything to "answer a sudden wake-up call." That book made me believe that maybe I could make a U-turn, too. A few years later I sold my house and all my stuff, quit my job and left on a three-year journey around the world, which I eventually chronicled in The Yellow Envelope.

Favorite line from a book:

I have notebooks full of my favorite quotes so this is an impossible task, but I'll pick three at random:

"You don't have to live forever, you just have to live." --Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt 

"Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living." --Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

"Of course I wanted to know. I was a writer. I wanted to know everything." --Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Now that I'm reading those quotes at the same time I can see they perfectly sum up my relentless desire to do everything at once.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Polar Express, a book that I read as a child every night on Christmas Eve, and that I now read to my daughter each year.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I buy at least five copies of this book every year to mail to any creative person I know who's stuck in a rut.

Otherwise, I've parted with all of my books at one time or another. I love having books around, but I'll also happily give them away. Great books should be shared.

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

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. When I'm traveling, I like to read books that are set in that place or written by an author from the area. When I read The Snow Leopard for the first time, I was on a month-long trek in the Himalayas, and Matthiessen's book was the perfect companion--it's beautiful, reverent and filled with yearning. I can't think of my time in those mountains without also thinking of that book. I've read the book again since, and I know I'll be back in the Himalaya someday, but I'll never get to do both again for the first time. It was complete magic.

Book Review

Review: On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety

On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety by Andrea Petersen (Crown, $27 hardcover, 320p., 9780553418576, May 16, 2017)

Anxiety disorders don't discriminate. As Wall Street Journal science and health reporter Andrea Petersen learned as a student in college, the debilitating fears that paralyze about 40 million adults in the United States, and the racing heart and strangled breaths of panic attacks, don't care about socio-economic status, race or sexual orientation. While women are more likely to suffer from the disorder ("There is no greater risk factor for anxiety disorders than being born female"), men are vulnerable to it as well. Even the young aren't safe from anxiety; in fact, the rate of diagnosis among college students is on a startling rise.

In On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety, Petersen shares her experiences battling panic attacks and fears as she explains the biological and psychological research underlying current treatments of the 11 anxiety disorders recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). For more than two decades, Petersen has tried many of the therapies she highlights in the book, both drug- and nondrug-related. In plain English, she explains data, scientific rationale and overall success rates, and then includes her personal reactions to them. Petersen has tried a wide array of yoga, including Kundalini yoga, which she describes as "a yoga rave." She was traumatized by acupuncture but fared much better with meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy. She's most often combined these treatments with medication, cycling through various types over the years. She illuminates their pros and cons, with a special focus on those safest to use while pregnant. In addition, Petersen demonstrates that "anxiety disorders almost certainly have multiple causes--from genetics to childhood trauma to how your parents interact with you." This comprehensive and accessible approach to the topic provides a clear understanding of a murky yet widespread problem.

Readers who, like Petersen, deal with the daily struggles of anxiety--and recognize that there is no cure--will find both similarities and differences between their experiences and Petersen's. The disorder encompasses a wide spectrum of symptoms and is closely tied to other afflictions, such as depression. But despite divergences, those who can identify with any of the evils of anxiety will discover solid research that offers options, understanding and hope. They'll even find some humor. On Edge can even help those who are fortunate enough to elude the irrational fears of anxiety. Petersen quotes Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry Jordan Smoller: "People underrecognize the toll that [anxiety] takes on people's lives." For those with a family member, friend or employee who is battling with this invisible demon, On Edge can shed light down the dark cavern and help them support their loved ones when "uncertainty far too easily morphs into inescapable catastrophe." --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: A Wall Street Journal science and health reporter takes readers inside the world of anxiety disorders using the most current scientific research and her own journey to a healthy life.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #ScrabbleDay--That's Not Even a Word!

"I'd like you to play a game of Scrabble with me," he says.
I hold myself absolutely rigid. I keep my face unmoving. So that's what's in the forbidden room. Scrabble!

--from Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale

The game is almost 80 years old. It has long been a sidelines staple for indie booksellers and a lure for community gatherings in bookstores and cafes (though a bookshop selling letters could seem a bit like a bakery that sells flour, eggs and sugar). It takes up floor space at Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington, N.C.; covers the bar at Toronto's Famous Last Words; and appears in this mural at the Last Word bookstore in Lahore, Pakistan. It has not only found extended, perhaps eternal life online, but also inspired too many virtual imitators to tally. (Let's be nice and say they're paying tribute to an elder.) It is probably even stashed away somewhere in your home.

There's an eight-letter word for it: SCRABBLE.

Scrabble floor at Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington, N.C.

Maybe you don't know this (I didn't), but #Scrabble Day is celebrated annually on April 13, the birthday of Alfred Mosher Butts, the game's inventor.

As someone for whom reading and writing have been a lifelong obsession, I have to admit that when it comes to letters, words fail me. I'm a terrible Scrabble player. You could beat me.

"Unlike most serious Scrabble players, I don't have the patience to study all the possible three and four-letter words, for example, but still, I am extremely competitive. It's an awkward combination," Roxanne Gay observes in her essay on competitive Scrabble, "To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically" (collected in Bad Feminist). I get that.

And yet, my outsider's fascination with the game still prompted me to celebrate Scrabble Day by reading and thinking about letters and words--what we do with them, and what they do for and to us. Words are as trustworthy and untrustworthy as lovers, though we want to trust the words we read. We want to believe we "understand" meanings. We want clarity. We want definition. Yet we struggle constantly with a want of clarity, a want of definition.

What can a word possibly mean? How do you spell it? ("That's not a word!" screams my imagined Scrabble opponent.) And if we can't understand a single word, how can we hope that stringing tens of thousands of them together will make things clearer? As writers and readers, that is precisely what we do hope.

We may not be able to quantify words, but we do know the value of letters, thanks to Mr. Butts, an unemployed architect who invented the game in 1938 (though it didn't acquire the name Scrabble until a decade later). You have to wonder what would motivate a man to count the number of times individual letters were used on a single page of the New York Times and then assign relative numerical values to them. One hundred tiles, two of them blank.

What kind of a player was the Father of Scrabble? Butts told the Times in 1981: ''Not the best.... I like to play for fun, so I've never been in the tournament-player class. In fact, my late wife used to beat me at my own game.'' After his death in 1993, the Times couldn't resist rubbing it in: "Alfred Butts, a New York architect who died this week, wasn't much of a speller."

At literary-themed watering hole Famous Last Words, the bar is covered in Scrabble tiles.

During my Scrabble Day reading celebration, I learned it is estimated that at least 30,000 games are started every hour and there are more than a million missing tiles. That's from a recent Country Life article in which Jeremy Taylor took on world Scrabble champion Brett Smitheram. Their game was played at Peter Harrington Rare Books in London, "mainly because the shop has an intimidating collection of dictionaries that could prove a distraction," Taylor wrote. "However, I'm going to need more than luck. Even a watching group of well-read staff is bamboozled as Mr. Smitheram reveals his letter mixology: 'I won last year's title scoring 176 with braconid, which is a type of parasitic wasp.' "

Bamboozled, indeed. 

I remember reading, many years ago, a poignant local newspaper story about the closing of a small Vermont factory that had manufactured Scrabble tiles out of maple boards for more than two decades. The production had been "outsourced" overseas and a domino effect ensued for the area--no more sawdust from the Scrabble tile factory to be used as bedding for local dairy cows, and the wood-fired ovens of the town's bakery could no longer burn rejected tiles, which the baker said were ideal. They knew the value of words. What is the exchange rate for letters?

Even on Scrabble Day, I just had to take letters and words as they came to me, for what they're worth, and make the best of them. Like these words about words from a love poem, since this is also Poetry Month:

Want a laugh? Look us up in the dictionary now
since they changed that old illustration.
We look stunned by all of this hesitant pleasure
and sweet, sweet pain. Words get in our eyes.

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

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