Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 25, 2017

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Quotation of the Day

'I Have a Career Because of Indie Bookstores'

"I have a career because of indie bookstores. When my first novel came out, nothing really happened with it; none of the chains really liked it or noticed it, but independent booksellers all over the country started hand-selling it like crazy. Because of that wave of hand-sellers who were, for a whole year, putting it in the hands of readers, I have a career now--I'm on my eighth book.

"It started there, and it's always been that way. That's how my readership has stayed and grown, because independent bookstores keep saying, 'Oh, this Joshilyn Jackson book, you've got to read this one!' That kind of support, where booksellers are responding to my book in that way and helping it find the right readers, is incredibly validating as a writer. It just makes you feel like you've really been heard. The way I feel about independent bookstores is that they are what allows me to feel heard."

--Joshilyn Jackson, whose novel The Almost Sisters is the number one Indie Next List Pick for August, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week


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Activist Investor Campaigns for B&N Sale

The first step in the latest campaign to get Barnes & Noble to sell itself--and boost its stock price--has begun. Activist investor Sandell Asset Management, which says it is among the top 10 investors in B&N, is issuing a public letter today, first reported on in the Wall Street Journal, "arguing the bookseller needs an owner who can invest in its beleagured operations," as the newpaper put it.

"Even though physical bookstores have declined in popularity in the U.S. in the internet age, Sandell reckons they aren't going away and that Barnes & Noble's status as the only national chain could attract a well-heeled private-equity firm or another retailer."

Sandell maintains B&N could attract a bid of more than $12 a share, nearly double its closing price yesterday of $7.10 a share, which puts the company's market capitalization at $515 million. The company's stock, down 60% in the past two years, is close to its 52-week low of $6.25 a share. In the fiscal year ending April 29, B&N sales fell 6.5%, to $3.9 billion, and it had net income of $22 million compared to a net loss of $24.4 million in the previous year.

As the Journal noted, there have been several attempts to sell the company since the great recession, which included a potential effort to go private by chairman Len Riggio. Jana Partners, G Asset Management and Yucaipa Companies at various points urged the company to sell itself or made offers or both. Liberty Media Corp. made an offer for the company, but ultimately bought a share of the company for $204 million. In 2015, B&N spun off its college operations, creating a separate company, Barnes & Noble Education.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Prego!: Italian-Language Store Pops Up in San Francisco

Libreria Pino, an online Italian-language bookseller founded in 2011, has opened a pop-up store in San Francisco's North Beach section, which has a sizable Italian population, Hoodline reported.

"We are so excited to have this opportunity to have a physical presence in the neighborhood," owner Joseph Carboni told Hoodline. "We are looking forward to meeting our neighbors, letting people browse our products, and speaking Italian with our customers."

The pop-up, at 1412 Grant Avenue, will stay up until December. Carboni said he has wanted to open a bricks-and-mortar store since founding the company, and hopes to stay in the space or find another one.

The store sells books, music and film, aiming "to provide easy access to Italian literature and entertainment with a customer-centric approach," Carboni said. The store's book inventory ranges "from easy-readers to Dante; from Elena Ferrante to Luigi Pirandello; and from Francesco Tullio Altan to Gianni Rodari," Carboni added.

Carboni said he decided to start Libreria Pino when his son was studying at La Scuola International School and he found it difficult to find Italian-language books in the U.S. "Given the increasing popularity of the Italian language and the thousands of Italian speakers living in in the States, there should be enough customer demand to support a specialized bookstore," he noted.

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

House Named U.K. Publishers Association's Deputy CEO

Emma House

Emma House has been promoted to deputy chief executive of the Publishers Association in the U.K. "as the trade body continues its reshuffle following the departure of its director of policy and communications Susie Winter," the Bookseller reported. House has been director of publisher relations at the PA for more than eight years.

"Emma is an absolute cornerstone of the Publishers Association and so I'm delighted that she has accepted this new role which is very much deserved and a recognition of her talent and commitment," said CEO Stephen Lotinga. "She has first class insight and knowledge of the publishing industry both in the U.K. and abroad, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to provide the best possible service to publishers."

House said she is "looking forward to playing an integral role in continuing the work we do, with a fantastic team in place and with the support of our members."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Indie Push Keeps A Gentleman in Moscow in Demand

Ten months after its release in September 2016, Amor Towles's second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is still going strong. The story of a deposed Russian count sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel in 1922, the book was #3 on the Indie Bestseller List for the week ended July 16; #8 on the New York Times hardcover fiction list for the week ended July 8; and at #1 on five regional indie bestseller lists. It has been on the NYT bestseller list for 33 consecutive weeks and recently passed 500,000 copies sold; according to Viking, the paperback edition has been postponed indefinitely due to strong and consistent demand for the hardcover. Since publication, support from independent booksellers and word of mouth have been critical factors to A Gentleman in Moscow's success.

"For us as a publisher, it was a huge priority to reconnect Amor with so many indie booksellers who were huge champions of Rules of Civility [Towles's debut novel]," said Lindsay Prevette, Viking's director of publicity. Towles's pre-pub appearances included four cocktail parties hosted in cities around the country, where he got to meet booksellers, librarians and members of the media, and an appearance at NEIBA's All About the Books luncheon. And in the months since publication, he's done more than 70 events in 25 states and has 20 more scheduled through February 2018.

Remarked Prevette: "He said for Rules he was doing events and bookclub chats for two years, and he was ready to do it all again."

Between its two locations in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Northshire Bookstore has sold upward of 350 copies. Rules of Civility was popular at both stores and, according to buyer Stan Hynds, Gentleman was an easy handsell for anyone who had read Towles's debut. Many of Northshire's staff have also read Gentleman; it's consistently had bookseller recommendation tags attached to it and has been featured in the store's bestseller section for a long time. And though Hynds noted that Gentleman started out strong last September, it began to dip a bit before seeing a remarkable resurgence in May.

"That I don't know how to account for," said Hynds. "It sold double in May what it did in April and it sold even more in June."

On Nantucket Island, Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner recently had a visit from Towles for the Nantucket Book Festival in June. Tim Ehrenberg, who handles public relations for the sister stores, reported that while Gentleman was initially popular, it was during the winter on Nantucket Island that the book reached a new level of demand. Starting in January and taking off in February, Mitchell's and Bookworks could hardly keep the book in stock, and during that time Gentleman also had the longest wait list of any book at the Nantucket library. Ehrenberg suggested that around that time, the stores reached a sort of critical mass of enough staff members having read and loved the book, while Nantucket's all-year residents were looking for something to occupy their time.

"We were really starting to talk about it," recalled Ehrenberg. "The owner loved it, and it trickled down from there."

At Wellesley Books in Wellesley, Mass., sales of A Gentleman in Moscow are approaching 600 copies, already outpacing combined hardcover and paperback sales for Rules of Civility. Bookseller Betty Sudarsky attributed the success to a variety of factors: Rules was quite popular at Wellesley, selling 400-plus copies, and customers were interested in a followup; Towles did an event at the store very soon after publication that brought in more than 80 people; and almost all of Wellesley's staff have read and loved the book.

Sudarsky reflected: "I guess the magic here is that a book that has some weight to it, an unusual premise and some very strong writing hit just at the right moment." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Brothers at Burke's

The Tillinghast brothers, Richard and David, did a joint reading and signing at Burke's Book Store, Memphis, Tenn., earlier this month. Richard signed his travel memoir, Journeys into the Mind of the World (Univ. of Tennessee), and David signed his new book of poems, Sisters, Cousins and Wayward Angels (Texas Review Press).

Bookbar Chalkboard of the Day: Famous Last Words

Inspired by the Game of Thrones' new season, Famous Last Words bookbar in Toronto posted on Facebook Sunday, before the series' second episode that night:

"Who's your favorite dragon? We have a drink inspired by each of them! Come by for a pre-game...or a post-game recap (but no spoilers for @ontariobourbon!)

Philip Yancey on the 'Death of Reading'

"The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around," wrote Philip Yancey, author of The Jesus I Never Knew and What's So Amazing About Grace, in a post on his Reading Wars blog that was reprinted in the Washington Post last week. "When I read an online article from the Atlantic or the New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article's length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links."

Yancey describes how his reading habits have changed since the advent of social media: where he used to dedicate time to read difficult, demanding and rewarding books, he now finds himself finishing fewer books or even online articles and succumbing to the temptations of clickbait. The explanation for this, he related, is that "when we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush; functional-MRI brain scans show the brain's pleasure centers lighting up." E-mails, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can all supply this dopamine rush, and it is the constant pursuit of that fleeting pleasure that is responsible for Americans reading less and less.

"Deep reading," the sort of reading that "requires intense concentration, a conscious lowering of the gates of perception, and a slower pace," demands more than just willpower, Yancey wrote. One has to build a "fortress of habits," with "walls strong enough to withstand the temptations of that powerful dopamine rush while also providing shelter for an environment that allows deep reading to flourish."

Yancey continued: "I'm still working on that fortress of habit, trying to resurrect the rich nourishment that reading has long provided for me. If only I can resist clicking on the link 30 Amish Facts That'll Make Your Skin Crawl...."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lily Collins on Live with Kelly and Ryan

Hannity: Thomas Jackson, author of Policing Ferguson, Policing America: What Really Happened... and What the Country Can Learn from It (Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99, 9781510719767).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Lily Collins, author of Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062473011).

NPR's Marketplace: Josh Lauer, author of Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America (Columbia University Press, $35, 9780231168083).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Rodale, $25.99, 9781635651089).

TV: The Haunting of Hill House

Carla Gugino will play one of the lead characters in Netflix's 10-episode straight-to-series modern re-imagining of Shirley Jackson's classic 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, Deadline reported. She joins Michel Huisman in the untitled horror drama series from Mike Flanagan (Ouija: Origin of Evil, Oculus, Hush), Steven Spielberg's Amblin TV and Paramount TV. The Netflix version of the novel "draws from the original classic ghost story while expanding on the mythology of the Crane family," Deadline wrote. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Great Lakes, Great Reads

The winners of the Great Lakes, Great Reads awards, honoring "writing by authors from, or having ties to the Great Lakes region" and voted on by members of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Adult Books: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Girls by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks)
Adult Books: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (HarperCollins)
Children's Books: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Children's Books: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (Abrams)

The awards will be presented at the Book Awards Dinner at the Heartland Fall Forum on October 11 in Lombard, Ill.

Top Library Recommended Titles for August

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 August titles public library staff across the country love:

Young Jane Young: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781616205041). "Aviva Grossman was involved in a relationship with her boss, who just happened to be a member of Congress. She becomes ostracized as her name is associated with scandal and reinvents herself as Jane Young. She has a daughter, Ruby, who decides to run away to look for her father. Ruby learns things are not always what they seem. I loved Zevin's engaging style. The characters are flawed and real. You are rooting for them until the end." --Audra Bartholomew, Bossier Parish Library, Bossier City, La.

Glass Houses: A Novel by Louise Penny (Minotaur, $28.99, 9781250066190). "A new threat arises in Three Pines as a mysterious masked figure stands watch on the village green. 'It' refuses to communicate in any way, which is just the start of another thrilling adventure in this long-running series. Gamache is still trying to restore the Sûreté du Québec back to what it was before it was corrupted under the previous regime. Choices are made that will forever change our hero in ways we can only begin to imagine. The next book can't get here fast enough." --Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, Ohio

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry (Pamela Dorman, $25, 9780735223493). "When Emilia's father dies, she returns to her small English village, takes over his beloved bookshop, and begins working through both her grief and the myriad renovations and changes the store needs. The author weaves stories of multiple village residents and their romantic travails and triumphs. I admired the well-crafted nature of this story, with the interwoven storylines offering wide variety without becoming scattered or straining to remain believably interrelated. All in all, just lovely." --Carol Reich, Hillsboro Public Library, Hillsboro, Ore.

If the Creek Don't Rise: A Novel by Leah Weiss (Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, 9781492647454). "It is 1970 and pregnant seventeen-year-old Sadie Blue is trapped in a marriage with her horrific moonshiner husband Roy in an Appalachian mountain town. Their friends and neighbors live stark, gritty lives that are written with vivid and captivating detail. Hope and strength shine through in bits and pieces in this terrific debut about Sadie's struggles. Weiss's fresh voice captivates the reader as this tale spins from several perspectives that draw the reader into Sadie's world. A terrific debut that will keep you riveted until the last page." --Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, N.Y.

Reincarnation Blues: A Novel by Michael Poore (Del Rey, $27, 9780399178481). "A witty and fascinating look at reincarnation. Milo has been reincarnated more than any other human. He's been enjoying his lives and grown wise without quite achieving perfection, the ultimate goal. He is absolutely in love with Death, who'd rather just be called Suzi and ultimately would like to settle down and run a candle shop. Unfortunately, he comes to find out there's actually a limit on how many chances you get at perfection. A moving and lovely story about love, meditation, the journey of life, and becoming the best person you can be." --Jessica Trotter, Capital District Libraries, Lansing, Mich.

Morningstar: Growing Up with Books by Ann Hood (Norton, $22.95, 9780393254815). "Morningstar is Hood's account of growing up in a family and a town that did not value books and learning to love them anyway, finding them a gateway into 'a big, beautiful world.' Her taste in literature runs the gamut from Dickens to Jacqueline Susann, Frost to Rod McKuen, and Hood makes a powerful case for what each contributed to her life. Give this to avid readers; it will likely send them off to reread old favorites and maybe inspire curiosity about titles they missed. Fascinating reading." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, N.Y.

The Address: A Novel by Fiona Davis (Dutton, $26, 9781524741990). "In New York City in the 1880s, Sara Smythe emigrates from England to manage a new apartment building, the Dakota. She soon becomes the lover of the architect, Theodore Camden. After Sara murders Theodore, she is sent to an insane asylum which is infiltrated by journalist Nellie Bly. A second story line also takes place at the Dakota, but this time in 1985. Bailey is hired to renovate the apartment after she gets out of rehab and uncovers mysterious secrets and her personal connections to Camden. This suspenseful book provides a fascinating look at the history of New York during this period." --Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, North Attleboro, Mass.

Emma in the Night: A Novel by Wendy Walker (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250141439). "One night, Emma and her sister Cass go missing. Three years later, Cass returns home without Emma and tells the story of a couple who held the girls hostage and kidnapped the child to whom Emma gave birth. FBI Special Agent Abby Strauss is brought in to interview Cass with the hope of finally finding Emma. The more answers Cass gives, the more questions Abby has, and she knows that beneath all of Cass's stories lies the truth. This thriller, with many unreliable characters, will keep readers off-kilter and uncertain, even after one final twist." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, N.J.

The Burning Girl: A Novel by Claire Messud (Norton, $25.95, 9780393635027). "Julia and Cassie were once inseparable, but once they start middle school, things unexpectedly change. Cassie has found new friends, and it is clear Julia is not welcome. Julia doesn't understand how Cassie could just forget how close they were and leave her to navigate a new school alone. When things start to go wrong for Cassie, Julia steps in to help but is left to wonder how close they really were. Messud really captures the anguish of the early teen years, when friendships are heartbreakingly intense and can change in an instant. Beautifully written and moving." --Pamela Wiggins, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, N.C.

The Clockwork Dynasty: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385541787). "When an inventor, employed by Peter the Great, creates two human-like clockwork automaton robots using anima discovered near a stream, he has no idea about the history behind those anima, nor could he imagine his creations' future. Weaving through the present and the past, this book creates a world where humans co-inhabit alongside a group of powerful automaton robots. Fun, intriguing and nearly impossible to put down! I loved reading this book." --Katherine Rose, Edwardsville Public Library, Edwardsville, Ill.

Book Review

Review: The Red-Haired Woman

The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk, trans. by Ekin Oklap (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover, 272p., 9780451494429, August 22, 2017)

This excellent English translation of Orhan Pamuk's novel The Red-Haired Woman casts a powerful spell of fate and sorrow.

Pamuk (My Name Is Red) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. He's a heavy hitter in international letters and is fascinated by the myriad ways myth and real life interact. The Red-Haired Woman takes place in his native Turkey, outside Istanbul. At first, the story is narrated by a young boy named Cem, whose father, a leftist dissident, is taken to prison. Desperate for money, Cem finds a job as an apprentice for a renowned well digger, Master Mahmut, in the small town of Öngören. The two work together on a barren plateau to find water for a client. Relying on the master's experience and instinct, they begin a well that becomes an ordeal. They hit rock, they go over schedule, yet Mahmut urges his apprentice to keep the faith. The two become like father and son, and at night they visit the town for supplies and leisure. That's where Cem meets the alluring "red-haired woman," who is part of a traveling theater troupe. As he falls in love, his obedience to his master and the well wavers, precipitating a tragic accident that follows him into adulthood and ultimately shapes his destiny.

Pamuk writes with the lean, archaic simplicity of parable, gradually adding moral weight to his tale with each successive chapter. Cem and Mahmut's search for water takes on mythical qualities. "According to Master Mahmut, the deeper we dug, the closer we got to the sphere of God and His angels," Cem says, noting the irony of looking for heaven in the ground instead of in the sky. Pamuk uses geology, the earth's layers and veins, to produce a number of memorable images and metaphors, suggesting human fate lies in the nature of the soil. As a counterpoint to this, he characterizes the red-haired woman as a galvanizing, liberating force. Cem's first experience with love is nothing short of rapturous, "astral," as he describes it. This interplay between "the language of the stars" and "the language of the soil" creates interesting tension.

Nowhere is this tension more prominent than in the power struggle between father and son, in this case Mahmut and Cem. Throughout his novel Pamuk draws attention to Oedipus the King and Shahnameh, two classics about patricide and filicide, respectively. These stories parallel his, which breaks open in a tug-of-war between obedience and a traditional sense of duty and the individualism of secular modernity. In the red-haired woman's narrative section, she comments on this ancient battle: "Whether it was fathers killing their sons, or sons killing the fathers, men always emerged victorious, and all that was left for me to do was weep... the logic of the universe turns on the tears of mothers."

The Red-Haired Woman is a novel of uncommon moral power. It blends myth and life, fatalism and freedom, into a harrowing literary experience. It's the work of a master writer. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: In this novel from Turkish author and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, a young apprentice must contend with the forces of love and fate.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos
2. For the Birds by Denise Grover Swank
3. Can't Take My Eyes Off of You by Bella Andre
4. The Greatest Challenge of Them All (Cynster Next Generation Novels Volume 7) by Stephanie Laurens
5. The Knocked Up Plan by Lauren Blakely
6. Because of Lila by Abbi Glines
7. Shameless by Lisa Renee Jones
8. Survival Instinct by Janie Crouch
9. Checkmate: This Is Love by Kennedy Fox
10. Bad Boys After Dark: Carson by Melissa Foster

[Many thanks to!]

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