Also published on this date: Friday, May 4, 2018: Maximum Shelf: Ohio

Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 4, 2018

Random House: Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks

Berkley Books: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Feiwel & Friends: A Venom Dark and Sweet (Book of Tea #2) by Judy I. Lin

Wednesday Books: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrota

Jimmy Patterson: Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

Berkley Books: The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch


Nobel Prize in Literature Postponed Until 2019

The Swedish Academy has decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the intention of awarding it in 2019. In a statement, Carl-Henrik Heldin, the Nobel Foundation's chairman of the board, said that according to the Swedish Foundations Act, the Nobel Foundation "is ultimately responsible for fulfilling the intentions in the will of Alfred Nobel. During the past several weeks, we have pursued a continuous dialogue with the Swedish Academy, and we support Thursday's decision."

Although the Nobel Prize is, in principle, awarded annually, decisions on the award have been postponed on a number of occasions during its history. "One of the circumstances that may justify an exception is when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible," Heldin noted.

This decision was prompted by a crisis involving accusations of assault by 18 women against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to an Academy member, Katarina Frostenson.

In the wake of the accusations, the Academy dismissed permanent secretary Sara Danius, who had severed the group's ties with Arnault and commissioned an investigation of the Academy from a law firm, though she remained part of the panel, the New York Times reported. Some of the Academy's 18 members resigned over Frostenson's continued membership, while others left in protest of Danius's treatment. The group now has 10 active members, too few, under its rules, to elect new members.

Noting that the crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize, Heldin said the decision to postpone the award for a year "underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize. None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories."

The Nobel Foundation "presumes that the Swedish Academy will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken," Heldin added. "We also assume that all members of the Academy realize that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organizational structure must be characterized by greater openness towards the outside world."

Regarding the postponement, Academy member Peter Englund told the Times: "I think this was a wise decision, considering both the inner turmoil of the Academy and the subsequent bloodletting of people and competence, and the general standing of the prize. Who would really care to accept this award under the current circumstances?"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Old Place by Bobby Finger

BookExpo: Len Riggio Is Grand Opening Keynote Speaker

Len Riggio

Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio will deliver BookExpo's first-ever grand opening keynote on Wednesday, May 30, at 9:15 a.m. on the Midtown Stage. He will be introduced by American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher.

Sponsored by Ingram, the keynote aims to complement BookExpo's Leadership Roundtable, featuring CEOs from Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, which takes place the following day, Thursday, May 31.

BookExpo said Riggio "will offer attendees his unique perspective on the bookselling industry and will focus his talk on the importance of brick and mortar stores, serving the modern reader, how bookstores best serve their communities, and the overall changing landscape of book retail today."

Ed Several, senior v-p, BookExpo, commented: "We are transforming BookExpo to be the place where the business of bookselling gets done in North America. With that vision in mind, Len Riggio offers a powerful perspective that will be very valuable for the entire industry. Mr. Riggio will offer insights and key learnings that will shed light on the state of the industry and how we can all make it better."

Blackstone Publishing: Imposter by Bradeigh Godfrey

For Sale: Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colo.

Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo., has been put up for sale. On the bookstore's website, co-owners Andrea Avantaggio and Peter Schertz wrote: "Fear not: Maria's Bookshop, along with independent bookstores across the country, is thriving. In fact, thanks in large part to all of you, we just completed our best year ever in 2017. The future is bright for Independent Bookselling and especially for Maria's Bookshop."

Avantaggio and Schertz said that after 20 years of owning and operating the bookstore, "we are ready to pass the opportunity on to the next shop owner. We have no doubt that with your continued support the next owners will take Maria's Bookshop past the 50-year mark.

"Durango will remain home to our family and we look forward to supporting the bookshop from the other side of the counter with all of you. We appreciate your help spreading the word. If you are interested in becoming the future owner of this cherished local business, please send an inquiry to"

Rough Edges Press: Elm City Blues: A Private Eye Novel (Tommy Shore Mystery #1) by Lawrence Dorfman

Proulx Wins Library of Congress American Fiction Prize

Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx has won the 2018 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which honors an American literary writer "whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something new about the American experience."

The prize ceremony will take place September 1, during the National Book Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

"E. Annie Proulx has given us monumental sagas and keen-eyed, skillfully wrought stories," said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. "Throughout her writing, she succeeds in capturing the wild, woolly heart of America, from its screwball wit to its every last detail. She is an American original."

"This high honor came as a shock to me. My writing has examined the lives of unimportant people--poor people plagued with bad luck, financial and personal troubles," said Proulx. "Not the kind of characters to be graced with notice by the Library of Congress. And yet somehow it has happened. I want to believe the people in my writing will step up with me to receive this award, for they are as real as history." 

Her books include The Shipping News, Postcards, Barkskins and Close Range: Wyoming Stories, which included the short story later adapted into the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.23.22

Chu Stepping Down as NEA Chair

Jane Chu

Effective June 4, Jane Chu will step down as chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a position she has held since 2014. In a statement released by the NEA, she said, "I am so appreciative of having had this opportunity. The National Endowment for the Arts is doing effective and meaningful work to help the arts thrive and connect to individuals and in communities large and small, densely populated, rural, and remote in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and in every Congressional District.

"In my travels to 200 communities in all 50 states--making more than 400 site visits--I have talked with visual artists, musicians, dancers, actors, and writers who are powerfully creating America's culture. Children from all walks of life are expanding their skills artistically and academically through the arts. And arts organizations are not only providing programs for audiences, they are also seen as leaders in their communities because the arts can bring people together. I am personally inspired and impressed by them. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the chair. Thank you for believing so strongly in the mission of the National Endowment for the Arts."

Noting that Chu's statement contained no reference to the uncertainty the NEA has faced since President Trump took office, the New York Times reported that since she was appointed in 2014 by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate, "the agency has doled out more than $400 million in grants in all 50 states. She was on the road often, making hundreds of trips to arts communities all over the country. Her efforts have earned the agency widespread bipartisan support, including from key Republican senators like Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. In the recent $1.3 trillion spending bill, a Republican-controlled Congress actually gave the NEA a slight increase in its budget, a direct rebuff to Mr. Trump."

GLOW: Union Square & Co.: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Obituary Note: Alice Provensen

Alice Provensen, "an award-winning artist who illustrated dozens of popular books for children, often in collaboration with her husband," died April 23, the Washington Post reported. She was 99. Provensen worked for 40 years with her husband, Martin, illustrating works like The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, The Fuzzy Duckling, Katie the Kitten and adaptations of classic literature. The Provensens also collaborated on The Iliad and the Odyssey (1956), and their Caldecott Medal-winning 1983 book The Glorious Flight.

"Some of their books sold millions of copies," children's book historian Leonard S. Marcus said. "There was a kind of lightness and open space in their work. You could project your own imagination into their world."

Many of their early titles were published in the Golden Books series, and "the single most familiar image to emerge from their studio" may have been Tony the Tiger, the advertising symbol of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, the Post wrote, adding that "working at back-to-back drawing boards in a converted barn, the Provensens turned out books based on Aesop's Fables, Mother Goose stories, Bible tales, Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and plays of Shakespeare.... They also produced tales about animals of every description, including several volumes set at Maple Hill Farm, their longtime home in upstate New York."

After her husband died in 1987, Alice Provensen embarked on her first solo project, an illustrated history of the presidents, The Buck Stops Here (1990). Her other books include Punch in New York (1991) and A Day in the Life of Murphy (2003).

Erewhon: Day Boy by Trent Jamieson


1,000-Mile Journey to Complete NCIBA's 'Book Lover Quest'

The winning entry.

Alexia Dawson of Campbell, Calif., has won the Book Lover Quest for Independent Bookstores, organized by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, by traveling more than 1,000 miles to visit 44 bookstores throughout Northern California. Her first place prize comes with $1,000 worth of books, selected and donated by the 57 participating bookstores.

Alexia Dawson, bookstore traveler.

"I just love independent bookstores and had some time on my hands so I went for it," said Dawson, who turned in her stamped quest form on Independent Bookstore Day at Kepler's Books & Magazines in Menlo Park. Dawson visited Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills, Sustenance Books in Murphys and many, many more.

For the Book Lover Quest, readers had one month to visit the participating bookstores. In addition to the grand prize, NCIBA has also given other prizes to five readers who visited 10 or more stores; these winners were selected at random from more than 100 entries.

Vicki DeArmon, the project's coordinator, said "we should probably hold her up over our heads and twirl her around in celebration that such a book lover exists," while Calvin Crosby, NCIBA's executive director, called the Quest "a testament to the strength of the independent bookstore community throughout Northern California and the thousands of readers who appreciate them all year round."

Greedy Reads: 'Bright, Airy, Inviting & Packed with Titles'

"Opening a bookstore in the Amazon age may seem daunting, but Chevy Chase native and publishing industry veteran Julia Fleischaker makes it look easy," Baltimore Style reported, adding that her new Fells Point venture, Greedy Reads, "is a book lover's dream: bright, airy, inviting and packed with titles just begging to be taken off the shelves."

In a q&a, Baltimore Style asked Fleischaker: "Why open a bookstore now, when so many are closing?"

Her response: "They say everybody in publishing wants to write a book or open a bookstore. I had been spending a lot of time in Baltimore, and I liked its spirit and grit, the idea that people are following their passions here. Then I saw the space and that sealed the deal. There were a few years where a lot of bookstores were closing, and I think people really recognized the loss. They realized that if they wanted to keep them around, they had to support them. We've had e-books for a while, but I think the novelty is wearing off. People are realizing that they don't absorb or enjoy or get lost in them in the same way. I think the [physical] book is a pretty perfect invention."

'Authors Recommend U.S. Bookstores Worth Traveling For'

For a feature headlined "11 Authors Recommend U.S. Bookstores Worth Traveling For," Lonely Planet wrote: "Reading material, whether destination-related or just a way to while away the journey, is an essential packing list item. But cozy, well-curated independent bookstores are often trip-worthy in their own right. We asked 11 best-selling writers to tell us which shops are worth a detour for book-loving travelers. Whether you're having a wild weekend in Vegas or planning a road trip down Maryland's Eastern Shore, you won't regret taking time out to see these bookstores."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael McFaul on Meet the Press, Morning Edition

NPR's Morning Edition: Michael McFaul, author of From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544716247). He will also be on Meet the Press on Sunday.

Fresh Air: Mat Johnson, author of Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (Berger Books, $19.99, 9781506705644).

TV: I'll Be Gone in the Dark

HBO Documentary Films has acquired the rights to journalist Michelle McNamara's bestselling book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, to develop as a docuseries. Deadline reported that McNamara, the late wife of Patton Oswalt, "was in the midst of writing the book when she unexpectedly died in her sleep in 2016. The book was completed by McNamara's lead researcher Paul Haynes and a close colleague, Billy Jensen, and framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and afterword by Oswalt, who also executive produces the docuseries."

"HBO taking on this story will advance the passionate pursuit that Michelle shared with dozens of men and women in law enforcement--to solve the mystery of one of California's most notorious serial killers," said Oswalt.

Last month, the Sacramento Sheriff's Office arrested former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo and charged him with a number of the crimes.

Books & Authors

Awards: Anna Dewdney Read Together

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat (Roaring Brook Press) has won the second annual Anna Dewdney Read Together Award.

Sponsored by Penguin Young Readers, the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader, the award is for "a picture book that is both a superb read-aloud and also sparks compassion, empathy, and connection. The award commemorates the life and work of author/illustrator Anna Dewdney, and celebrates her commitment to reading with young children and putting books into as many little hands as possible."

The award comes with a prize of $1,000, given by the Children's Book Council, while Penguin will purchase and donate 250 copies of After the Fall to a school, library, or literacy organization of Santat's choice.

Santa will receive the award at an event at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., tomorrow, Saturday, May 5, that is part of the 99th annual Children's Book Week.

Reading with... John Scalzi

photo: Athena Scalzi

John Scalzi's debut, Old Man's War, won him science fiction's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His other books include Lock In, The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation and Redshirts, which won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel. He has two new books in 2018: the near-future thriller Head On (Tor, April 17, 2018) and The Consuming Fire (Tor, October 16, 2018).

On your nightstand now:

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. (I'm reading a galley copy. It's very good.)

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

Your top five authors:

Mark Helprin, Dorothy Parker, Gregory Mcdonald, N.K. Jemisin, Douglas Adams

Book you've faked reading:

None. If I haven't read a book, I'll tell you.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Grass by Sheri Tepper. It has all the worldbuilding chops of Dune, with a fantastic (and complicated) woman protagonist.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (the text was pretty good, too).

Book you hid from your parents:

None. The rule was "if you can reach it, you can read it." My wife and I used the same rule for our daughter.

Book that changed your life:

Cosmos by Carl Sagan. So much excitement to explore the universe in it. Sagan is one of my heroes.

Favorite line from a book:

"This indiscriminate liquidation of cops must stop." --from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Five books you'll never part with:

Only five? Ha!

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

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Book of yours you're the happiest to hear people say they liked:

Zoe's Tale. It was difficult to write for the point of view of a 16-year-old girl. I'm happy when women tell me I did a good job of it.

Book Review

Review: There Are No Grown-ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story

There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-Of-Age Story by Pamela Druckerman (Penguin Press, $27 hardcover, 288p., 9781594206375, May 29, 2018)

American ex-pat and author of Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman applies her wit and insight to life in one's 40s, the awkward transitional decade when many individuals shift out of their youth but don't quite enter old age yet. The mother of three says, "I've noticed that men only appraise me on the streets of Paris now if I'm in full hair and makeup." And waiters have shifted from calling her "mademoiselle" to "madame." Determined to understand this disorienting stage, she delves into the finer points of being a grown-up as she travels the winding road of a 40-something adult.

In a series of "how-to" chapters--How to Raise Children, How to Be an Expert, How to Say No--punctuated with Jeff Foxworthy-like lists, "You know you're a fortysomething parent when...," Druckerman shares her middle-age life with the reader. At times she turns up the humor, like in her chapter about arranging a three-some for her husband as his birthday gift, which turns into a freelance assignment for an American magazine. "Soon I have a contract obliging me to deliver a 2,800-word essay titled 'Fortieth Birthday Threesome'.... I was planning to have had the threesome anyway. But after I sign the document, I realize that I'm now more or less contractually obligated to go through with it. I'll be paid by the word, and a sexless version, in which I back down, would probably get less space." Regardless of one's views on the ménage à trois, Druckerman's blind leap into the task is lively and amusing.

But There Are No Grown-ups is equally full of heartfelt insights and revelations. Druckerman shares her battle with cancer and celebrates the success of her book. She acknowledges goals she'd like to reach but hasn't quite accomplished yet, such as in her chapter "How to Age Gracefully." She explains, "To be bien dans son âge is to live out the best version of whatever age you're in.... I'm not sure I'm bien dans son âge yet, but I'm working on it. It's an adult act, and I see its value. It requires believing that your particular shape, mind and assortment of qualities--including your age--have a valid place in the world."

Throughout the book Druckerman receives advice and she imparts it. She examines the mysterious decade with sincerity but never takes herself too seriously. And she even manages to uncover some wisdom: "Lately, when I'm confronted with a new situation or problem, a sort of mental index card pops up in my brain. This card contains other, similar situations that I've encountered before and how they turned out. Based on this index card, I have a decent idea of what to do next.... I spend less time paralyzed with doubt and regrets and more time efficiently proceeding with my life."

Candid and spirited, Druckerman takes the fear out of 40. She offers those facing this decade reason to anticipate it positively, and those who are currently experiencing it--or already have--plenty to reminisce over. There Are No Grown-ups assures everyone, "vous allez trouver votre place--you will find your place." --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: Parenting expert Pamela Druckerman tries to make sense out of being 40-something in a book that blends memoir and self-help to come up with humorously astute.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Surprise! It's Small Business Week!

Maybe I'm the only one who missed the memo, but I just realized on Monday that we'd already begun National Small Business Week, which started April 29 and runs through tomorrow. On the other hand, even a cursory glance at #SmallBusinessWeek on Twitter seems to confirm a certain... lack of enthusiasm. The tweets are dominated by local, state and national politicians cashing in some goodwill chips. President Trump and Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon issued proclamations, but in the wake of Independent Bookstore Day excitement, it all seems pretty tame.

Deciding to carpe #SBW18, I did a little last-minute digging anyway. As it turns out, booksellers have gotten some ink this week. In a feature showcasing 15 "cool small businesses," Business Insider noted that Brooklyn's Books Are Magic "is run by novelist Emma Straub and her husband, graphic designer Michael Fusco-Straub.... Why it's cool: There's no getting around it: New York City is running out of bookstores. Straub and Fusco-Straub are among a growing group of entrepreneurs trying to change that, to the delight of bibliophiles in all five boroughs."

Bob Oldfather, Bookmans.

Each day this week, Inc. magazine is spotlighting "a different competitive advantage of local brick-and-mortar companies." As an example of "exemplars of community involvement," Inc. showcased Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, with several locations in Arizona. Company president Sean Feeney said, "The confluence of customers here can be remarkable.... [Founder Bob Oldfather] "had to work there every day so he wanted it to be a cool place to hang out.... We still have a good price and an incredible selection. But now it is more about the environment."

Elliott Bay Book Company was chosen by the Seattle Times as one of "5 Seattle shops to inspire your small-biz week shopping." 

Rachel Wood, owner of Scrawl Books, Reston, Va., told the Connection: "Independent bookstores play a unique role. We are part of the community we serve, and connected to our customers through schools, neighborhoods and common experiences. Our business is built on creating connections and responding to community interests.... I'm happy to see Reston gain recognition as a place that embraces books and reading. I'm grateful for the support Scrawl has received from the publishing community, as well as our local readers and writers."

Indies rule; we already knew that. During my #SmallBusinessWeek explorations, I also noticed that statistics are addicting. 

In its Heart + Hustle: Small Business Summary, payment processing company Square found that 72% of small business owners agree they face more challenges today than five years ago; 65% feel confident they are going to meet their five-year goal; 58% say increased competition from big corporations has motivated them to adapt for the better; and 49% say cash-flow concerns keep them up at night.

Survey results from the Better Business Bureau showed that 84% of consumers trust small businesses most, with respondents citing reasons like wanting to support local businesses (60%), convenience (30%), better customer service (27%), and unique items unavailable elsewhere (24%). The BBB said there are 29 million small businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 57 million people.

For the UPS Store, Inc.'s first annual Inside Small Business Survey, 66% of respondents said they dream of opening a small business, and the primary motivators include being their own boss (38%), believing in the power of their own idea (17%) and creating their next career path (15%).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since the end of the Great Recession small businesses have created 62% of all net new private-sector jobs, Inc. reported. Among those jobs, 66% were created by existing businesses, while 34% were generated through new establishments.

The U.S. Census Bureau tweeted: "DYK there were 5.6 million employer businesses in the U.S. in 2016 that had less than 10 employees?"

Thankfully, stats also show how small business success is tied to its most basic ingredient: people. WalletHub's 2018 Small Business Owner Survey revealed that 38% of respondents said access to a talented workforce was more important than limited regulations (25%), low taxes (21%), easy access to credit (13%), and government incentives (3%).

In an interview with the American Independent Business Alliance, Adriana Paliobagis, owner of Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont., said one of her biggest challenges is "maintaining staff, for an interesting reason. We have an incredible community of well-educated people (actually... I often have incredibly overqualified people working for me) but the cost of living here is really high. Housing is a problem, and I have seen my staff couch-surf and roommate with each other in order to be here. The low unemployment rate in Bozeman is amazing but it also makes competing for good employees really tough, so compared to other independent bookstores, and for the size of our community, we probably pay on the high end. To compete I also offer more benefits than a lot of other independents. The higher cost is worth it. My business wouldn't exist without my employees… these amazing people who love books... without them the Country Bookshelf is not here."

When AMIBA asked, appropriately enough, what book every small business owner should read, Paliobagis recommended Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business by Paul Downs: "I consider this book to be an incredibly honest depiction of what it's like to run your own business. It's warts and all--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unexpected."

I agree. In fact, I'm on record, too. Maybe rereading Boss Life is the perfect way to celebrate #SBW18.

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

KidsBuzz: Schiffer Kids: Big P Takes a Fall (and That's Not All) by Pamela Jane, illus. by Hina Imtiaz
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