Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

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


Our Best Adult Books of 2017

You'd think it would be difficult to narrow down the year's best books. And it was. We promise, though, that no Shelf Awareness staffers were injured in the making of this list, so enjoy! (Click here to see our reviews in today's Shelf Awareness for Readers.)

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Knopf)
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Morrow)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead)
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House)
Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Amethyst Editions/Feminist Press)
So Much Blue by Percivel Everett (Graywolf Press)
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny/Random House)
South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (Picador)
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf)
The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Del Rey)
The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
The Year of the Comet by Sergel Levedev (New Vessel Press)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nnneka Arimah (Riverhead)
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Knopf)

A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison (Grove Atlantic)
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt (Univ. of Minnesota Press)
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (Little, Brown)
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury USA)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers (Hachette)
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams ComicArts)
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central)
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)

Don't miss our Best Children's Books of 2017 on December 19!

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Ananda Church to Keep East West Bookshop

After trying for a year and a half to sell East West Bookshop, the New Age bookstore in Mountain View, Calif., the Ananda Church has decided to keep the store. As part of that decision, David Gamow, a longtime Ananda member and former manager of East West, is returning to the bookstore. Current manager Brahmachari Tandava will take a new role at the Ananda Church.

David Gamow

The store, which was founded in 1980, said there had been interest from potential buyers, "but we hit roadblocks along each new path. It became clear over time that something else was 'trying to happen,' and after some other puzzle pieces falling into place," the Ananda Church decided not to sell.

Last year, East West Bookshop emphasized that while the store was for sale, it was not closing. The owners, the store said, "firmly believe in the importance of East West as an institution and as a service to the community of spiritual truth-seekers in the Bay Area and beyond. We feel it should absolutely continue to exist, whether or not it is owned specifically by the Ananda Church."

Kentucky Campus Store Closing

Kennedy's Wildcat Den, the textbook and fan merchandise store that has operated near the University of Kentucky campus in Lexington since 1950, is closing this month, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

"Sales have gone down, down, down," Carol Kennedy Behr, 92-year-old general manager and daughter of founder Joe Kennedy, told the paper. "This is just the time."

The paper noted that "Internet merchants have been taking an increasingly bigger bite out of the new, used and rental textbook market. Kennedy's other mainstay, U.K. logo apparel and merchandise, is now widely available online and in other stores."

At the height of the company's success, the family owned six college stores and fan shops in Kentucky and nearby, and ran Transylvania University's bookstore. Kennedy's has one other business, a U.K. fan merchandise store in London, which will continue operating for now.

The university has a bookstore that is currently managed by Barnes & Noble Education. Kennedy's had operated it from 2001 to 2006.

U.K.'s Bonnier Zaffre Expanding to U.S.

Bonnier Zaffre, a division of Bonnier Publishing UK that was founded in 2015 and focuses on titles by Wilbur Smith and Lynda La Plante, is expanding into the U.S. Effective immediately, Bonnier Zaffre will be distributed by Simon & Schuster as part of Bonnier Publishing USA's distribution agreement with S&S. Valentina Rice is being hired as Bonnier Zaffre's v-p of sales, marketing and publicity; she will work in Bonnier Publishing USA's offices in New York.

Rice was previously v-p of international sales and marketing for Penguin Group (USA), where she spent 15 years before launching her own business, an e-commerce site for artisanal food helping small-batch producers get national distribution.

Bonnier Zaffre CEO Mark Smith said: "This is a natural next step in the development of Bonnier Zaffre. We look forward to building on the success our authors have previously enjoyed in this market, and bringing new focus to building brand names in commercial fiction."

Lynda La Plante said: "I am delighted that Bonnier Zaffre will be my publisher for the U.S. and Canada. I look forward to working with their brilliant team in New York, starting in March with the publication of the Tennison series of novels, followed by Widows later in 2018."

Dial and Pilsen: A Tale of Two Bookshops

When Mary Gibbons and Aaron Lippelt opened the Dial Bookshop last month in Chicago, Ill., it marked the second independent bookstore they've opened in less than two years. The pair met while working for a literacy nonprofit in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, which sold books to raise money for its programs. Lippelt and Gibbons eventually opened a pop-up bookshop of their own, and the informal store proved popular with residents. Before long they decided to make the jump and give their store a permanent home.

"We would just say, if we had a real bookstore, we'd do this, we'd do that," she recalled. "We talked about all the empty storefronts on 18th street, and said, why not do that? Why can't it be us?"

Gibbons and Lippelt opened Pilsen Community Books in a storefront on Pilsen's 18th Street in February 2016. They hired experienced bookseller Manuel Morales y Méndez, formerly of Howard's Books in nearby Evanston and several other indies in the Chicago area, to run the store on a day-to-day basis. The 1,500-square-foot shop carries mostly used books and a selection of merchandise, including tote bags and T-shirts. A major focus of Pilsen Community Books is Pilsen Reads!, a literacy program that donates books to local schools. So far, the store has given more than 1,700 books to students in 28 classrooms in the Pilsen area. Any Chicago teacher can apply online to receive books, though teachers at Pilsen schools are favored. The store also runs literary programming for customers in store and students in schools.

It was actually Morales y Méndez who led Lippelt and Gibbons to opening a second bookstore so soon. Morales y Méndez, who has been a bookseller for 20-plus years, knew the owner of Selected Works Used Books & Sheet Music, an art- and music-focused bookstore in the landmark Fine Arts Building on South Michigan Ave. The owner was retiring, and Morales y Méndez quickly reached out to Gibbons and Lippelt, encouraging them to open a bookstore in the space formerly occupied by Selected Works.

"We didn't know if we could afford Michigan Ave.," Gibbons said. "We didn't know if the building wanted us." To their surprise, they found that the owner of the Fine Arts Building was something of a patron of the arts. He keeps rents deliberately low so that artists can afford studios in the building, and he loves the building's artistic and literary history--the transcendentalist literary magazine The Dial, edited by Margaret Fuller, was founded in the building in 1840. The owner was excited about the prospect of another bookstore moving in to fill the gap left by Selected Works, and Lippelt and Gibbons decided to make the jump. "We were not planning on expanding that fast," remarked Gibbons. "But we didn't think we'd have another opportunity like this."

As they did with Pilsen Community Books, Gibbons and Lippelt have hired an experienced bookseller to manage things day-to-day at the Dial Bookshop: Kelsey Westenberg, who previously worked at RoscoeBooks in Chicago. Like Pilsen Community Books, Dial Bookshop sells predominantly used books.

Though the store has been open only a short time, Lippelt and Gibbons have noticed differences in what sells. At the Pilsen store, there is a strong focus on poetry and sociology, while at Dial Bookshop there are a lot of books pertaining to fine arts and architecture. New books, Gibbons noted, also sell noticeably better at the Dial store, which may lead them to expand that part of the inventory. "We're still figuring things out," said Gibbons. "We really tailor what our store does to the expertise of our staff and then to our customers."

Gibbons, Lippelt and Westenberg hosted the Dial Bookshop's grand opening on a frigid Friday night. While they were initially unsure of what the turn-out would be, they were thrilled to find the store completely packed. "It was very, very heartwarming to see so many people come out for a bookstore opening," Gibbons said. Guests included customers and friends from their first store, residents in the Fine Arts Building, other Chicago booksellers and more. "It's so good to see that bookstores are still such a draw for people." --Alex Mutter

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Chicago Cocktails and Cash Mob

Last week, Chicago's Publishing Cocktails crew welcomed the new Dial Bookshop (see story above) with an hour-long cash mob, after which they adjourned to a nearby bar to talk books and ring in the holiday season.

'Innovative Holiday Marketing Tips' from Indies

" 'Tis the season when indie booksellers are donning festive sweaters, whipping up batches of hot cocoa, and unwrapping their seasonal marketing strategies to attract customers during the final weeks of the holiday shopping season," Bookselling This Week noted in showcasing a number of creative ideas independent booksellers shared with one another during the American Booksellers Association's most recent online marketing roundtable discussion.

"We've been really pleased with the participation in the marketing roundtables," said IndieCommerce director Phil Davies said. "The holiday marketing tips from our last meeting were great and typical of the type of info that is being shared by participants."

The holiday marketing tips include:

  • Invite local nonprofits to wrap gifts
  • Promote gift cards online
  • Tap into nostalgia for backlist children's books
  • Count down to Christmas with a giveaway
  • Invite customers to make a wish list
  • Find creative ways to celebrate Hanukkah
  • Create a festive live event
  • Make promotions fun (and even a little silly)
  • Dress for the season

Personnel Changes at Midpoint Trade Books; Legato/Ingram

Annette Hughes has joined Midpoint Trade Books as director of national accounts. She most recently managed the national accounts group at Scholastic, a position she held for nine years. She began her career at Little, Brown as a sales assistant, and moved from inventory to promotions to business manager and back to sales. After 10 years as a field rep in the New York/New Jersey area, she moved to HarperCollins, working in national accounts.


Mark Hillesheim is no longer with Legato/Ingram Content Group and may be contacted via e-mail.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joy Mangano on Harry

Harry: Joy Mangano, co-author of Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501176203).

Watch What Happens Live: Teresa Giudice, author of Standing Strong (Gallery, $26, 9781501179198).

Also on Watch What Happens Live: Michael Rapaport, author of This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501160318).

Last Call with Carson Daly: Coyote Peterson, author of Coyote Peterson's Brave Adventures: Wild Animals in a Wild World (Mango, $19.95, 9781633535770).

Daily Show: Satya Nadella, co-author of Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone (HarperBusiness, $29.99, 9780062652508).

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper: Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860).

Movies: Ready Player One; If Beale Street Could Talk

Warner Bros. revealed its first full-length trailer for Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player OneDeadline reported that the author "debuted the trailer at an event at the Alamo Drafthouse in his hometown of Austin which was live streamed with a Q&A afterward." The movie, which opens March 30, was written by Cline and Zak Penn. The cast includes Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T. J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.

Cline's description of the film: "If Willy Wonka was a video game designer instead of a candy maker and he held his golden ticket contest inside the worlds greatest video game--that's the essence of what the story is."


Emily Rios (Breaking Bad, Snowfall) has landed the role of Victoria in If Beale Street Could Talk, based on James Baldwin's novel and directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Deadline reported. The project also stars KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Colman Domingo, Brian Tyree Henry, Dave Franco, Ed Skrein, Pedro Pascal and Regina King. Jenkins wrote the script and is producing under his Pastel label with Annapurna Pictures and Plan B. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones, Blackwell's Books of the Year

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One, Philip Pullman's first installment in a new series, was crowned Waterstones Book of the Year, the Bookseller reported. The shortlist was drawn from bookseller nominations, with the winner selected by a panel headed by Waterstones' managing director James Daunt, who said books like La Belle Sauvage "excited" retailers: "Booksellers influence readers, and are guided in turn by the enthusiasms of their customers. It is the happy warp and weft of our profession, and very few books indeed excite this process quite like La Belle Sauvage. This is a winner that is going to bring a lot of pleasure to an ever-widening audience and we could not be more pleased to play our part in its success."

To mark Pullman's win, Waterstones is selling a special edition of La Belle Sauvage featuring an exclusive cloth jacket, enhanced by gold foil and embossed finishes; a gold ribbon marker; gold endpapers with London and Oxford skylines; and one of six Ex Libris daemon bookplates, featuring key daemons from the text.


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo has been named Blackwell's 2017 Book of the Year, the Bookseller reported. The U.K. bookstore chain's employees were asked to nominate and then vote for their winning title from a shortlist of four. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was the children's book category winner.

Katharine Fry, the trade buying manager at Blackwell's who organizes the Book of the Year prize, observed that Good Night Stories was her "personal favorite," adding: "We plan to promote the book in all our shops and use it as a centerpiece for similar inspirational books and events including Blackwell's vote 100 campaign in the New Year (celebrating the act that gave women the vote for the first time). We are all very excited."

Favilli and Cavallo commented: "Booksellers, along with our backers have helped us make Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls a success. Just as we took pleasure in spending a day at our favorite bookshop as young girls, we are delighted to hear from young girls and boys who discovered Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls at their local bookshop and will carry its message of determination and rebellion wherever they go."

Book Review

Review: Oliver Loving

Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block (Flatiron, $26.99 hardcover, 400p., 9781250169730, January 16, 2018)

Set in a wasted West Texas township between artsy Marfa and sleepy Marathon, Stefan Merrill Block's third novel (after The Storm at the Door and The Story of Forgetting), Oliver Loving, ruminates on the consequences of a seemingly random shooting at a high school homecoming dance. Sixteen-year-old Oliver Loving (named for the 19th-century Texas cattle baron revered by his grandmother) took a bullet during the bloodshed. For 10 vegetative years he has been on life support in "Bed Four" at Crockett Assisted Living Care Facility, among the aged and Alzheimer's victims.

Broken but still hopeful, his fragile mother, Eve, visits vigilantly. She shoplifts Tolkien novels and Dylan music to try to reach him with familiar pleasures. His father, Jed, a failed artist and former high school art teacher, moved to a garage shack in Marfa to sculpt desert trash and drink George Dickel. His younger brother, Charlie, escaped Presidio County for Brooklyn, where he cruises gay bars and half-heartedly scribbles a journal about Oliver that he hopes to sell. Conscious or unconscious, Oliver is at the center of Block's narrative, but the real story is the Loving family's dissolution and buried resentments swirling among the landscape's raw emptiness. With pinpoint accuracy and rich metaphor, Block's prose equally captures the psychological nuances of loss and the desolate West Texas "headshop aroma of sun-cooked creosote." It's hard to know which is worse. Each exacts a heavy toll on the Loving family.

The medical uncertainty of Oliver's consciousness drives Eve's refusal to disconnect his life support. An optimistic speech pathologist ("a Jesus-loving lady who wore makeup in operatic proportions, her piney perfume like some chemical weapon attack, her hair teased up to the heavens") translates an experimental MRI result into new hope for Eve. Periodically, Block interrupts his third-person narrative to speculate in the second person as to what might be going on in Oliver's head. His family didn't know of his teen infatuation with a local girl who survived the shooting, and who suffered abuse from her father and pedophiliac theater teacher. They didn't realize that Oliver knew that the young shooter had also been defiled by the teacher. Only Charlie knew of Oliver's rudimentary poetry and his publishing ambitions. Medically alive, and perhaps "locked in," Oliver is unable to communicate the complexity of his life--nor choose to end it. As a voice reminds him, "the machines stubbornly circulated the business of your heart, bladder, and bowels. You had no choice. Oliver, you had no choice but to live."

The driving mystery of Oliver Loving may be the why of the shooting, but Block's story gets its powerful depth from his eloquent exploration of what he frequently refers to as the before and after of it. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Stefan Merrill Block marries a what-happened mystery with a what-do-we-do-now study of a family dealing with a high school shooting.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. The Anthology Part 1: Limited Edition by Garth Brooks
3. Millions by Pepper Winters
4. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo
5. Surprise Package by Kira Blakely
6. A Shade of Vampire 53: A Hunt of Fiends by Bella Forrest
7. The Cabin by Alice Ward
8. Crank (The Gibson Boys Book 1) by Adriana Locke
9. Three Trials (The Dark Side Book 2) by Kristy Cunning
10. Lead Dragon by Terry Bolryder

[Many thanks to!]

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