Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 1, 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


Book World Closing All 45 Stores in Midwest

Book World, a family-owned independent chain of bookstores located in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Missouri, will be closing all 45 of its locations, WTMJ-TV reported. Book World opened its first store in 1976 in Rhinelander and is currently the fourth largest bookstore chain in the U.S.

Senior v-p Mark Dupont said the company has 320 employees in its stores and at its corporate headquarters in Appleton, Wis. A liquidation sale will begin Thursday at each Book World location, with sales expected to last into January. Book World has hired Yellen Partners to assist with the liquidation process.

"The national shift in the retail marketplace towards e-commerce has triggered the loss of vital mall anchor stores and a downward spiral in customer counts at Book World stores, reducing sales to a level that will no longer sustain business operations," Dupont said.

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

Borderlands' Campaign to Buy Building a Success

Borderlands, the San Francisco, Calif., science fiction, mystery and horror bookstore that nearly closed two and a half years ago, "has secured loans totaling $1.9 million from some 49 individual supporters who are willing to help the bookstore buy a building on Haight Street that will serve as its permanent home," Mission Local reported.

"I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am about this. It truly is a dream come true," owner Alan Beatts wrote to the bookstore's supporters.

The campaign had been launched earlier this month when Beatts, "unable to secure a large loan from a bank... put the question to Borderlands' clientele--would they be interested in funding the purchase for 1373 Haight St? They were. In 18 days, lenders put up $1.9 million," Mission Local noted.

"I learned that I'm the kind of person who can raise close to two million dollars in two and a half weeks, that was a surprise," Beatts said. "I also learned that, if you really want to achieve your goal, you have to pursue every single solution.... I think that we succeeded because we were clear on our goal and willing to consider any ethical way of accomplishing it."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Seattle Designated a UNESCO City of Literature

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared Seattle, Wash., a City of Literature. It was one of 64 cities worldwide to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which now includes 180 cities in 72 countries highlighted for their creativity within seven fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. Other newly named Cities of Literature were Bucheon (Republic of Korea), Durban (South Africa), Lillehammer (Norway), Manchester (U.K.), Milan (Italy), Québec City (Canada) and Utrecht (Netherlands).

Noting that this decision is "the culmination of a years-long process," the Seattle Review of Books reported that "the bid for Seattle as a City of Literature began in 2013 and it has seen wholesale staffing changes, survived four different mayors, and the U.S.'s withdrawal from UNESCO in the intervening years.... Through the whole process, Seattle City of Literature has been promoting the bid."

Bob Redmond, Seattle City of Literature board president, told SRB: "We all know that Seattle is a world-class city, but this underlines it in a new way--especially for people who care about the arts, or books, or words. It matters to everybody here that the world is looking at Seattle as a cultural leader. That should make us feel good.... I feel a mixture of justification and joy. I feel justification because I don't think that the mission of UNESCO and this organization could be more relevant than it is right now: to build understanding through the literary arts."

He added that his happiness at receiving the news was "because so many people have put hundreds of hours of effort into this over the years that it feels really earned. Finally, I'd say Seattle is such a deserving city," with a tradition of literature that extends "all the way back to the oral traditions of the indigenous peoples here," and "to be recognized for this is a tremendous honor.... The city of Seattle has officially, finally, been recognized as a leader in world literature. Now it's time to show the world why we deserve the designation."

Sharjah Publishing City Officially Opens in UAE

The opening ceremony at Sharjah.

Sharjah Publishing City, the new publishing hub in the Middle East, officially opened this week. The Sharjah Book Authority reported that more than 200 international publishers attended a special ceremony featuring His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, ruler of Sharjah and member of the Federal Supreme Council.

"Sharjah was recently named World Book Capital 2019 by UNESCO and the Emirate is widely known as the cultural capital of the Arab World," said Sultan Al Qasimi. "But this is no coincidence. Reading and literacy are the beating heart of Sharjah, and we have launched countless initiatives designed to introduce as many people as possible to the wonder of books. Sharjah Publishing City reflects our ambitions to support the publishing industry, engage with the world, and to become a cultural beacon in the region."

The two-story, 19,000-square-meter complex contains 400 individual office spaces and will be the new UAE home for a range of international publishing houses, organizations and institutions, publishing service providers, distributors and printers. The facility provides tenants with the opportunity to capitalize on tax-free privileges, while giving them strategic access to the Middle Eastern, Asian, European and African markets. It also offers access to major international airports and sea ports on two different coasts.

Sharjah Publishing City will become the new headquarters for the Sharjah Book Authority, alongside a number of the UAE's official publishing organizations, including the Emirates Publishers Association, Emirates Writers Union, Arab Writers Union, Children's Book Association and the Emirates Library Association and Information.

"We are seriously considering the establishment of a Lightning Source print facility in Sharjah Publisher City," said Shawn Morin, Ingram Content Group's CEO and president. "This is an opportunity to reach the Middle East, African and Asian marketplace. Along with our reliable partners in Sharjah, we share the support of a global exchange and the desire to help content reach readers around the world."

Company chairman John Ingram added: "I have been going to the Sharjah Book Fair and the area for years and always expressed my confidence in the Sharjah Book Authority and the royal family to deliver on their commitment to the Publishing City Program. The opportunity to distribute content close to these regional markets is key, since speed is always a consideration when shipping from the U.S. or U.K."

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said the launch of Sharjah Publishing City "is an extremely significant development in the publishing world, one which will have a very positive impact both locally and globally. We have been overwhelmed with the response from publishers, and other companies from within the publishing ecosystem, who are excited by the City's unique proposition and see it as the perfect vantage point to access new markets. I was delighted to welcome His Highness and an audience of international publishers to witness the unveiling of the facility today and I look forward to seeing what the future brings."

Obituary Note: Ruth Goldrosen; William A. Turnage

Former bookseller Ruth Goldrosen died on September 29. She was 96. Goldrosen founded Chart House Books, Hyannis, Mass., in 1979 and operated it until 1994. During her bookselling career, she brought many authors to Cape Cod to participate in the store's Literary Breakfasts. She then moved to Brookline, Mass., and worked at a pr firm, retiring only in 2013, at age 92.


William A. Turnage, environmentalist, former president of the Wilderness Society and Ansel Adams's business manager, died on October 18 He was 74.

Until last year, Turnage was managing trustee of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust and had initiated the enormously popular Ansel Adams publishing program at Little, Brown. Little, Brown executive editor Michael Szczerban recalled that the association between Turnage and Adams "began in the spring of 1970, when Bill was a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry. He invited Ansel to lecture at the university as a Chubb fellow, and they forged a fast friendship. Later that year, having completed his degree, Bill traveled to California to interview with the Sierra Club, and to see Ansel in Carmel. During that visit, Ansel--who was nearly 70, and saddled with an overwhelming workload yet little financial security--proposed to hire Bill as his business manager."

Together they "devised a strategy that would liberate Ansel from his darkroom and finally establish a steady flow of income by emphasizing the publication of books over the making of prints." The publishing program with Little, Brown began in 1976 and has included dozens of titles and the sale of millions of Ansel Adams books, calendars, posters and other products.

Szczerban added: "We are grateful to him for the visionary idea that established our longstanding relationship and the years of creativity that followed. We were lucky to work alongside Bill, and will miss him intensely--as a collaborator, a trusted partner in a vital area of our business, and as a friend."


Image of the Day: SCIBA Booksellers at the Farm

Booksellers from across Southern California gathered at the Farm at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., last Friday evening to enjoy food and refreshments at the opening night reception of the Southern California Independent Bookseller Association's annual trade show. The two-day event featured education sessions that focused on hosting off-site and large events, building genre sections and getting the most out of biographies and memoirs, and on Saturday afternoon SCIBA unveiled its 2017 Book Award winners.

The Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture, and Photography went to Spectacular Illumination: Neon Los Angeles, 1925-1965 (Angel City Press) by Tom Zimmerman and J. Eric Lynxwiler. Brit Bennett won the adult fiction award for her novel The Mothers (Riverhead), Sherri L. Smith received the young adult prize for Pasadena (Putnam), Holly Goldberg Sloan took home the middle grade award for Short (Dial), and the picture book award went to Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrator Kadir Nelson (Dial). The nonfiction award went to Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath (Dey Street), and Don Winslow received the T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award for The Force (Morrow).

World Series: L.A. vs. Houston Libraries

This year's epic World Series battle between the Astros and Dodgers has prompted an "especially interesting rivalry" between the Los Angeles Public Library and Houston Public Library, played out on the fields of Instagram "using book titles (from book spines) to @ one another and root for their respective teams," LAist reported. The LAPL describes this "book spine poetry trash" talk as a "library tradition." 

Brooklyn's 'Independent Bookstore Revival'

Brooklyn's indie booksellers "offer a sense of connectivity that online retailers cannot," the Daily Eagle noted in a feature headlined "The independent bookstore revival in Brooklyn." The piece cited some hard evidence: "Greenlight Bookstore has opened a second location, WORD bookstore is set to open up a children's bookstore, McNally Jackson has opened an offshoot in Williamsburg and Books Are Magic has set up shop in Cobble Hill."

"If you're doing it right, every single bookstore should be unique to its neighborhood," said Hannah Oliver Depp, manager of WORD bookstore in Greenpoint.

Michael Fusco-Straub, co-owner of Books Are Magic, said, "One of the biggest functions of the modern bookstores seems to be a gathering space for community. We knew we couldn't have a bookstore that wasn't in some way a community space."

"Many people now understand that shopping local is a political act," Stephanie Valdez, co-owner of Community Bookstore, observed. "By shopping local, you keep dollars in your neighborhood."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alec Baldwin on the Tonight Show

Fresh Air: Lindy West, author of Shrill (Hachette Books, $16, 9780316348461).

Today Show: Kate Hudson, author of Pretty Fun: Creating and Celebrating a Lifetime of Tradition (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062685766).

CBS This Morning: Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $16.99, 9780393354775).

The View: Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860). He will also appear on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Watch What Happens Live: Jimmy Fallon, author of Everything Is Mama (Feiwel & Friends, $16.99, 9781250125842).

Daily Show: Gabrielle Union, author of We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062693983).

Tonight Show: Alec Baldwin, co-author of You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody) (Penguin Press, $29, 9780525521990).

Movies: Genuine Fraud

"The Girls braintrust has secured its next project," Vulture noted in reporting that Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham will adapt and produce a film version of E. Lockhart's Genuine Fraud. Konner and Dunham are also heading up an English-language adaptation of the German film Toni Erdmann.

TV: H Is for Hawk: A New Chapter

Tonight at 8 p.m., PBS will premiere H Is for Hawk: A New Chapter, a documentary follow-up to Helen Macdonald's hit 2014 memoir H Is for Hawk, as part of the network's Nature series. In A New Chapter, Macdonald attempts to train another goshawk for the first time since the death of Mabel, the goshawk she raised and bonded with after her father's death. The film follows Macdonald as she trains her new goshawk Lupin in preparation for his first "free flight," checks in on the lives of a wild breeding pair of goshawks, and reflects on her lifelong love of birds.

Books & Authors

Awards: Mitchell Prize for Faith in Literature

Winners were announced for the inaugural Ross & Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith in Literature, administered by think-tank Cardus for its Faith in Canada 150 initiative, Quillblog reported. Rowda Mohamud won the poetry category for her collection Please Find Yourself a Space, while Brandon Trotter took the short fiction category for his story "Saint 148." Both authors receive CA$10,000 (about US$7,760). The two runners-up, poet Shane Nielson (for Loss Sonnets) and writer-editor Susan Fish (for "Easter Water"), get CA$2,500 (about US$1,940) each. 

Reading with... Archer Mayor

photo: Margot Mayor

Archer Mayor is the author of two history books and 28 Joe Gunther mystery novels, which the Chicago Tribune called "the best police procedurals being written in America." The series is set in Vermont, features many other geographical settings and follows a fictional major crimes unit. Mayor is also a death investigator for Vermont's chief medical examiner, and over the past 35 years has been a police officer, an EMT and a firefighter. His latest Joe Gunther entry is Trace (Minotaur, September 26, 2017).

On your nightstand now:

Wilson by A. Scott Berg. I'm a history buff. Given some of my other jobs, I tend to avoid reading mystery fiction, although I do love writing it, and have obviously enjoyed and been influenced by many practitioners of the craft (see below!).

Favorite book when you were a child:

Greenmantle by John Buchan (my first exposure to a thrilling tale of derring-do). La Peau de Chagrin by Balzac (for its pathos, sadness, fine writing and insight into human nature). Les Aventures d'Arsène Lupin by Maurice Leblanc (perhaps more derring-do, but from another culture and perspective)--I was brought up overseas (in part) and so had an eclectic early exposure to books.

Your top five authors:

This assumes anyone would, could or should categorize merely five without shortchanging dozens more, but several that spring to mind: David McCullough, Rick Atkinson, Mary Beard, James MacGregor Burns, John McPhee, Alan Furst, Cormac McCarthy, Patrick O'Brian, etc.

Book you've faked reading:

There are too many interesting books out there to fake reading something you think will make you look appealing to others. The question suggests that books are a prop; as I'm sure you'll agree, they should be conduits to enhance your mind.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Killer Angels (Shaara), The Perfect Storm (Junger), An Army at Dawn (Atkinson), The Shipping News (Proulx)--each is an example of extremely good writing, fiction or nonfiction. There are many more of course, but those spring to mind as books that appealed to my mind and my particular taste in language usage. They are elegant, spare, evocative and allow their readers to forget about the authors and vanish instead into what's being written.

Book you've bought for the cover:

None, although I've wondered why people would be attracted by the covers of some of my own early books.

Disclaimer: When I was younger, on the other hand, I ogled the Mike Hammer paperbacks with interest, even though I knew full well that nothing inside those pages would match the alluring artwork. It cut down on a lot of effort to merely enjoy the jackets and NOT make the purchase.

Book you hid from your parents:

Candy by Terry Southern. Golly, I wonder why that was?

Book that changed your life:

No book melodramatically "changed my life," but certainly a few obvious contenders that impressed and influenced me in my own career have been: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the Lew Archer series by Ross Macdonald, and books by Elmore Leonard, John le Carré and Tony Hillerman.

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

Just the other day, I was thinking I ought to reread The Great Gatsby. On the other hand, I also have the new translation of War and Peace staring at me accusingly from my bookshelf. I have thousands of volumes in my bookcases and piled on the floor, and most of them are at least murmuring for another reading.

Book Review

Children's Review: Older Than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth

Older Than Dirt: A Wild But True History of Earth by Don Brown, Michael Perfit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 hardcover, 112p., ages 10-12, 9780544805033, September 5, 2017)

From "a Big Bang" to the existence of humans, Sibert Honor medalist Don Brown (Drowned City; America Is Under Attack) and geologist Mike Perfit boil down more than 14 billion years of planetary evolution in Older Than Dirt, a delightful, informative and engrossing work of graphic nonfiction. Using a brainy groundhog to narrate, Brown and Perfit educate their readers--and the groundhog's worm friend--about the incredible stages of Earth's history.

In an effort to make billion- and million-year time spans accessible to young readers, the work uses a metaphorical 24-hour day, plotting the course of Earth's explosive beginning, through numerous transformations, to the age when humans came into existence. That the arrival of humans occurred at the very final minute of this "day" highlights our relatively new presence on Earth more forcefully than the concept of thousands of years. With a combination of humor and analogies ("Earth's crust cracked like the shell of a hard-boiled egg") that middle graders can relate to, the pair turn highly complex scientific evidence into fun, engaging and memorable content. For example, the groundhog explains the concept of density to her worm pal:

Groundhog: "Plutons float because they are less dense than the mantle."
Worm: "What's 'dense'?"
Groundhog: "Worms, apparently."
Worm: "No really."
Groundhog: "Density is the difference in weight between things the same size. Think of a bucket full of sand compared to the same sized bucket filled with marshmallows."

Interspersed throughout the groundhog and worm's conversation are "Deep Time Comix" sections. Each pair of sepia-color comic book pages presents historical figures who played important roles in discovering information shared by the groundhog: James Hutton, the father of geology; Alfred Wegener, whose fascination with weather led him to the theory of continental drift; and Bruce Heezen and Maire Tharp, the duo whose map of the ocean floor helped make plate tectonics accepted scientific theory.

Brown's powerful illustrations emphasize the extraordinary interactions of nature and the outcomes of those interactions: an image of thriving ocean life next to a sea of fish skeletons, a lush landscape juxtaposed with a scorched earth, a plate collision resulting in extensive mountain ranges. He relates elaborate movement, temperature and energy through basic color, stroke and texture. The small details added to his storytellers, like earmuffs, sunglasses and swimming flippers, inject ticklish humor that adds to their small, witty side comments:

Groundhog: "The restless tectonic plates carried continents here and there... at a few inches a year."
Worm: "Hey, I'm faster than that!"

A small diversion caused by gender confusion between the worm and the groundhog is whimsical and a gentle reminder about assumptions and preconceived notions.

Older Than Dirt is aimed at middle-grade readers but the entertaining illustrations and fascinating information will enthrall audiences of any age. Older readers will likely find learn something new, and it's an excellent book to read together with younger readers.  Older Than Dirt's playful nature and innovative approach make learning science a true joy. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: In this fascinating work of graphic nonfiction, a groundhog, with the help of a worm, relates the entire scientific history of planet Earth, scaled to a 24-hour day.

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