Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 14, 2017

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

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

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


Snoozy's College Bookstore in Alabama Closing

Snoozy's at UAB, the college bookstore that serves the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is closing at the end of the month, reported.

"We love being part of the UAB community, and have enjoyed growing our business as the university has expanded and evolved into an incredibly special place with amazing students, employees and fans," George "Snoozy" Jones said. "My family and I wish to sell Snoozy's to UAB. We are pleased that the university is interested, and we are in continuing talks to explore that possibility."

Store manager Brad Goggins said Snoozy's at Jefferson State Community College is being purchased by the store manager and will be renamed Oak Mountain Books.

Snoozy's was founded in 1983.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Jennifer Szalai Is New NYT Nonfiction Critic

Jennifer Szalai

Jennifer Ildiko Szalai, a New York Times Book Review editor, has been named the new nonfiction critic at the New York Times, effective in January. In a note announcing the change, Times book coverage editor Pamela Paul wrote that Szalai "joins a stellar team of staff critics that includes Dwight Garner and Parul Sehgal. Like both Dwight and Parul, Jennifer comes to the job directly from her role as an editor at Book Review, where for the past four years, she has been editing literary fiction and nonfiction reviews, as well as 'Bookends,' for which she is also a former columnist, and several of our most high-profile columnists."

Describing Szalai as "one of the most stylish, incisive, original writers on books, politics and culture today," Paul observed that she "is accustomed to negotiating between different viewpoints; she is an independent thinker with a supple, open mind attuned to books on many subjects--politics, foreign policy, government, social sciences, economics, science, technology, business and the arts. We look forward to introducing her to our readers, who we expect will come to rely on her for her thoughtful, clarifying judgments of the most important nonfiction books published today."

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

A Granite State Bookstore Tour, Part 1

In the last of our bookstore tours while he's still executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, last week Steve Fischer and I visited several stores in New Hampshire, the highlight of which was Hillary Clinton's signing at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord. It was a marvelously organized event, with Gibson's booksellers, the Secret Service and Clinton's team working seamlessly. The best part: watching more than a thousand people of all ages meet and speak with Clinton, who for hours was unfailingly gracious, warm and positive. Many customers left the signing table wiping away tears.

We also made a quick visit to Water Street Books in Exeter, winner this year of the Book Publishers Representatives of New England's 2017 Independent Spirit Award, which recognizes a NEIBA bookstore's excellence. We chatted with owner Dan Chartrand, who in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday repeatedly had to break away to serve a string of customers--a happy sign of holiday cheer. As usual, the store looked great, well-stocked and very inviting, the epitome of bookselling excellence.

The first of our pair of long visits was at White Birch Books in North Conway. Owner Laura Cummings, who's also president of NEIBA, gave us a tour of the spacious, inviting store, which is in a free-standing building on the main drag in North Conway, in the heart of Mount Washington Valley and home of many shopping malls. The large store has a deep selection of books, many of which are in distinctive Art Nouveau style bookcases (inherited from a former Globe Corner Bookstore in the Settlers Green mall). Another striking fixture is the store's staff picks section: it's a four-sided Lazy Susan bookcase with signs saying, "Turn me." The store also features the "Pick a Book by the Beginning" section--a display that highlights the opening sentences and paragraphs of selected titles. (One example, from Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Doubleday): "It starts when you pull the lamp chain and light doesn't come. Then you know you will never wake up in time, you will not make it to the end of this paragraph alive.")

White Birch staff picks

White Birch features local titles in a New Hampshire/Maine section that includes many nature, outdoors and hiking books. (A perennial favorite is Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire by Nicholas Howe (AMC Books), which chronicles the many deaths and injuries that have occurred on Mount Washington, famous for its unforgiving weather.)

Among current popular books at the store is Will's Red Coat: The Story of One Old Dog Who Chose to Live Again by Tom Ryan (Morrow), which has sold "gazillions" of copies.

Book beginnings display

The store also has a range of sidelines, including "the best cards in the Valley," which manager Nichole Cousins said some days account for a quarter of sales. Other popular sidelines include geodes--rocks that are sold in solid form and can then be broken up, revealing quartz crystals--and Flipits, gadgets that look like light switches that can be stuck anywhere and when turned on, offer very bright light.

White Birch has been doing more offsite events, "trying not to say no," and prefers to do luncheon or daytime events with authors. "People are so busy," Cummings said. "It has to be a real big thing for us to do an evening event."

White Birch interior

Indies in North Conway, Jackson, Bartlett and Intervale recently created a shop local organization called White Mountain Independents, which celebrated Plaid Friday--the indie answer to Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving. "They mocked me for Plaid Friday in the past," Cummings said with amusement. "But they've changed their tune." The organization also celebrated Small Business Saturday and Cider Monday and is participating in the current Shift Your Shopping campaign. Member stores fly "the blue flag," which features White Mountain Independents' logo.

White Birch is a three-season store, Cummings said, including summertime, fall foliage, the holidays and skiing season. The quietest time comes in late May and early June. Still, White Birch has "a good local following." It must! Cummings said the store has had a good year, with business currently up 25%.

Next up: our visit to Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith, N.H. --John Mutter

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

Obituary Note: Jean d'Ormesson

French novelist, philosopher and journalist Jean d'Ormesson, "who once ranked as the youngest member of the prestigious Académie Française, and who sponsored the first woman to join its elite numbers," died December 5, the New York Times reported. He was 92. A descendant of French nobility, d'Ormesson published about 40 works of fiction, many of them autobiographical, over almost a half-century.

Few of his works were translated, though Barbara Bray's translation of La Gloire de l'Empire (The Glory of the Empire: A Novel, a History) was a notable exception. Winner of the academy's Grand Prix, the book was praised by William Beauchamp, a French literature scholar, in the New York Times Book Review as "one of the most engrossing histories ever written--yet not a word of it is true... Jean d'Ormesson's empire is pure invention; his book, fictional history. If numerous details suggest the real empires of Rome, Persia, Byzantium, of Alexander or Charlemagne, they are devices designed to achieve verisimilitude--the illusion of reality."

When d'Ormesson entered the Académie Française in 1973, at the age of 48, he was the youngest of its 40 members, all of whom were male. In 1981, he sponsored Marguerite Yourcenar to join the academy, and even though "he incurred much criticism and not a few misogynistic jibes for his championing her, she was accepted."


Image of the Day: Eat Like a Rock Star

Mark Bego (left) dishes about Eat Like a Rock Star: More Than 100 Recipes from Rock 'n' Roll's Greatest (Skyhorse) with Sean Sabini during a visit to Barnes & Noble in Hackensack, N.J.

Bookshop Hannukah Display Window: The Ripped Bodice

The Ripped Bodice bookstore, Culver City, Calif., shared a photo on Twitter of the shop's bookish festival of lights front window display, noting‏: "Happy Hannukah (yes all the candles are lit, it just looks better that way)."

First Year: New Canadian Booksellers Reflect on 2017

Six new Canadian booksellers shared experiences from their first year behind the counter with Quillblog. Among the highlights:

Liz Burns of Queen Books, Toronto: "We're getting to know some regulars already, and it's been fun and interesting to see different reading tastes and get to know what works and what doesn't. What's been really nice is that people are so enthusiastic about events, too.... It's been a pretty overwhelmingly positive experience; we really lucked out with the time and place. We've been welcomed with open arms--not just by the community, but also by the publishers."

Sheree Fitch of Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery, River John, N.S.: "Even better than the phenomenal sales we had in nine weeks was the experience of seeing families gather, browse, buy Canadian, then go out and read beneath an apple tree and visit donkeys. It truly was amazing. From teachers to tourists, we had them all--we're on a dirt road, yet they found us. We are still reeling."

Jeff Kirby of Knife Fork Book, Toronto: "The good news is poetry does indeed sell. As I envisioned, it simply requires a marketing strategy: elevating poets/poetry the same (if not more) status we give bestsellers. As we are finding out, poetry has its stars, too, and it also has an intensively engaged, loyal community of readers and writers that thrives on what's current and exciting, as well as the lineage of what informs the new."

Michelle Berry of Hunter Street Books, Peterborough, Ont.: "It's been way better than I hoped. Not sure if it's just a spike because I'm new and everyone is grateful to have an indie downtown, but there are a lot of serious and good buyers in Peterborough. I was hoping to break even but managed to hire staff and make some money this year. Pay off the debts a bit."

Sandy Dunsford & Sarah Kenney of Georgian Bay Books, Midland, Ont.: "We have been in this industry a long time, so having our own bookstore is very rewarding. Kate Hilton was here in the summer to sign her new book and we have been a part of many other fantastic town events. The Midland area has been supportive and we look forward to many more years in business."

Carmela Vedar of the Book Wardrobe, Mississauga, Ont.: "We observed that our bookstore is a destination of purpose. Customers will only go with the conscious intention of buying. We are not dependent on high foot traffic. People who happen to see our sidewalk sign will come in and check out the store out of curiosity, but will not necessarily buy anything. They only come back if they need to make a purchase. The good part, though, is that they are already aware of our presence, and know where to find us. That's a start."

Personnel Changes at Lerner Publishing Group

At Lerner Publishing Group:

Effective January 1, Rachel Zugschwert is joining the company as group marketing director. She was formerly director of marketing at Sparkhouse Family, an imprint of 1517 Media (formerly Augsburg Fortress Press), and has more than 11 years of marketing experience with Consortium Book Sales & Distribution and Simon & Schuster.

Jill Braithwaite is becoming publishing director, trade. She was formerly group marketing director.

Jenny Krueger has been promoted to publishing director, school & library. She was formerly product planning director.

Mark Budde has been named executive v-p, chief operations officer. He was formerly executive v-p, operations.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hillary Clinton on Ellen

CBS This Morning: Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (Scribner, $27, 9781501144318).

Ellen: Hillary Clinton, author of What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565).

Movies: Burial Rites

Jennifer Lawrence will star in and produce Burial Rites, based on Hannah Kent's debut novel, Deadline reported. Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name), the film's producers also include Allison Shearmur and Justine Ciarrocchi, with Gary Ross and Jerry Kalajian executive producing. TriStar Pictures has worldwide rights to the picture.

TriStar president Hannah Minghella, who, with Shary Shirazi, will oversee the production, said, "Luca is a rare talent. His movies capture an exquisite sense of place inextricably linked to the emotional state of the complex characters he creates. I can't imagine a more thrilling partnership than Luca and Jennifer coming together to bring Agnes' beautiful and tragic story to life."

Shearmur added that Guadagnino is "a masterful storyteller who brilliantly captures the nuance of the human condition in his films. I cannot wait for him to bring his original voice to the raw, visceral brutality, and poetry of Hannah Kent's haunting true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland, for the murder of two men."

This Weekend on Book TV: Dan Rather

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, December 16
12 p.m. C-SPAN's Local Content Vehicles tour historical and literary sites in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

4 p.m. Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake (Dutton, $28, 9780525955184), at Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m.)

4:50 p.m. Josh Dean, author of The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History (Dutton, $28, 9781101984437), at University Book Store in Seattle, Wash.

6 p.m. David Neiwert, author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump (Verso, $29.95, 9781786634238), at the Strand in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:45 p.m. Dan Rather, co-author of What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism (Algonquin, $22.95, 9781616207823), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. Keith Koffler, author of Bannon: Always the Rebel (Regnery, $27.99, 9781621577034). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Amanda Lucidon, author of Chasing Light: Michelle Obama Through the Lens of a White House Photographer (Ten Speed Press, $29.99, 9780399581182). (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

Sunday, December 17
12:40 a.m. Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Climate Swerve: Reflections on Mind, Hope, and Survival (The New Press, $22.95, 9781620973479), at Book Culture in New York City. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

4 p.m. A panel of authors discuss "the roots of racism, border issues and sexual assault on college campuses," at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Tex.

6:15 p.m. Stephen E. Strang, author of God and Donald Trump (Frontline, $21.99, 9781629994864), and Corey R. Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, authors of Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency (Center Street, $27, 9781546083306).

7:30 p.m. Reza Aslan, author of God: A Human History (Random House, $28, 9780553394726), at Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif.

11:10 p.m. Paola Gianturco and Alex Sangster, authors of Wonder Girls: Changing Our World (powerHouse Books, $49.95, 9781576878224), at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif.

Books & Authors

Awards: RBC Taylor for Literary Nonfiction

The longlist has been released for Canada's CA$25,000 (about US$19,495) RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction, which recognizes an author "whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style and a subtlety of thought and perception." A shortlist will be announced January 10 and the winning author named February 26 at an awards ceremony in Toronto. The winner will also announce his or her choice for the CA$10,000 (about US$7,800) RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer's Award.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing new Tuesday, December 19:

Valensteins by Ethan Long (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 9781619634336) finds Frank K. Stein is busy making... a valentine!

Once Upon a Winter by Megan Atwood, illustrated by Natalie Andrewson (Aladdin, $12.99, 9781481490498) is the second novel in the middle grade Orchard series.

The Low-FODMAP Diet Step by Step: A Personalized Plan to Relieve the Symptoms of IBS and Other Digestive Disorders--with More Than 130 Deliciously Satisfying Recipes by Kate Scarlata and Dede Wilson (Da Capo Lifelong, $23.99, 9780738219349).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers, foreword by Peter Lovesey (Soho Crime, $19.95, 9781616957759). "Soho Crime publishes a wide variety of consistently high-quality crime fiction, so I expected this collection to be a great read, and it didn't disappoint. Not only does it feature holiday capers from a number of my favorite crime authors (Peter Lovesey, Stuart Neville, Helene Tursten, Mick Herron), it was also a great way to sample other Soho authors I haven't read yet. Even if you're not a fan of Christmas, you'll love The Usual Santas!" --Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, Mich.

Bonfire: A Novel by Krysten Ritter (Crown Archetype, $26, 9781524759841). "In this fast-paced thriller, successful environmental lawyer Abby Williams is brought back to her small Indiana town for work, where Optimal Plastics, a company that has helped rebuild the town and its economy, is under suspicion for water pollution. While investigating the pollution claims, Abby also becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to a classmate who disappeared 10 years earlier after a scandal that left many unanswered questions--a disappearance that has haunted her for years. In both cases, the search for truth leads Abby down a dark path of corruption and secrets. This is a remarkable debut novel and the must-read thriller of this fall." --Rebecca Olson, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich.

I Will Send Rain: A Novel by Rae Meadows (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250145932). As I read I Will Send Rain, I was transported to the West of the 1930s as the Dust Bowl storms began. Annie Bell is struggling to keep her home, body, and family free of the layers of dust that reappear as fast as they are wiped clean. Her husband has constant dreams of rain; her teenage daughter is blinded by love; her young son suffers from dust pneumonia; and now an admirer is forcing Annie to question her own ethics and being. I was moved by the characters, the historical background, the heartache, and the simultaneous longing and complacency that make this a beautiful and powerful story. --Lori Fazio, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $17.99, 9781492654452). "Bartelby doesn't know that his bottom is causing mischief and mayhem throughout the city when he is taken on his daily walk. He is, after all, a very, very, very long dog and just can't tell where his bottom is! But Bartelby has the best kind of friends--they love him just the way he is and are there to help! Readers will love their solution to Bartelby's bottom problem. Author and illustrator Julia Patton's The Very Very Very Long Dog is sure to delight all young readers with its heartwarming story of friendship and unique illustrations. This is an adorable story about an adorable dog and his wonderful friends." --Emily Clare, Purple Tree Books, Cheboygan, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson (Candlewick, $15.99, 9780763695088). "In the vein of I Am Malala and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind comes this fascinating novel featuring a young Cuban girl, a Brigadista, sharing her love of books and reading in Fidel Castro's Cuba. This beautiful, powerful, and surprising book gives insight into a Cuba most Americans have never seen and into the life of a young girl willing to risk everything she has to share her love of the written word with others." --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

For Teen Readers
No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear (Soho Teen, $18.99, 9781616956837). "In 1959, a family of four was murdered on their rural farm in Holcomb, Kansas, and Truman Capote spent weeks in the town afterward in order to write In Cold Blood. Brashear, who grew up near Holcomb, has imagined another telling of this gruesome murder, one told by Carly, an outsider who recently moved to Holcomb. In 1959, when I was living in a rural area with my farm family, the murder of the Clutters had an enormous impact on our community. For the first time, we locked our doors at night, as did our neighbors. Brashear captures the horror that swept through the Midwest following the murder." --Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, Ind.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Lullaby Road

Lullaby Road by James Anderson (Crown, $26 hardcover, 320p., 9781101906545, January 16, 2018)

The winter winds buffet the empty highways of Utah's high desert between Price and Moab where Lullaby Road's loner narrator, Ben Jones, runs his daily deliveries to the outcasts and oddballs that make the place home. A self-described "Indian-Jew, half-breed trucker," Ben first appeared in James Anderson's debut, The Never-Open Desert Diner, as did many of this novel's portfolio of offbeat locals. Founder of publisher Breitenbush Books, Anderson has been around writers and books long enough to know how to augment a somewhat farfetched plot with a delicious cast of colorful characters, startling metaphors and a self-deprecating protagonist with an eye for the absurd.

The second in what will be a trilogy, Lullaby Road kicks off with Ben heading down the highway with an unexpected cab full of kids and a dog. The reclusive and unpredictable owner of the Stop 'N' Gone Truck Stop directs Ben to a four-year-old in a blanket, abandoned beside a pump with a large guard dog for warmth and an attached note asking Ben to take care of them. His duplex neighbor's babysitter calls in sick, and she throws her infant and a diaper bag in his cab so she can make her shift at Walmart. The softhearted, usually live-and-let-live Ben wishes for more than lullabies to shepherd this sudden family through the storms and dangers that often fill his workdays. Surprised at his protective generosity, he reflects: "If I was going over a cliff I didn't need someone to show me the way. I can do stupid all by myself." From experience he knows that anything can happen in the desert "halfway between nowhere and nothing."

As the wind whips his truck and trailer, Ben meets up with the familiar religious wacko preacher at the Ace Hardware First Church of the Desert Cross who daily lugs a large wooden cross along the highway. Diverted when his truck gets side-swiped in the low visibility snow, Ben takes it to an obese repair welder in his stained overalls like "a Carhartt summer sausage." Stopping for gas, he is threatened by the driver of a "rich man's circus train"--a Super-Duty pick-up towing an Airstream and a "chromed flatbed carrying two camo-colored ATVs." He wisely steps back, musing: "You can beat the brains out of someone but it's almost impossible to beat any brains in." Ben's adventures are as amusing as they are perilous, but underneath, he is just a guy raised in foster homes trying to stay sober and cigarette-free while doing right in a desolate but breathtaking land. He gets by "putting one foot in front of the other, my eyes on my boots, and willing myself not to look too far down the road." Lullaby Road is a triumphant mix of landscape, character, wit and sagacity wrapped in a noir thriller. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In the second of the Utah desert trilogy featuring lone wolf truck driver Ben Jones, James Anderson cooks up a canny story with gusto and rich local color.

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