Also published on this date: Thursday, September 26 Dedicated Issue: Random House Graphic

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 26, 2019

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


Kelly Link, Gavin J. Grant Buying Easthampton, Mass., Bookstore

Author Kelly Link and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, who run Small Beer Press, Easthampton, Mass., are buying White Square Books, also in Easthampton, and will rename it Book Moon, Bookselling This Week reported.

The move is funded at least in part by Link's receipt last year of a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. (See below to learn more about some of this year's Grant recipients.) She told BTW: "Years ago, in Northampton, we made an offer on a used bookstore. We actually thought it was unlikely that we would be able to afford to start or take over a bookstore. But last year I got a MacArthur Grant, and when we were talking about different things we could do with some of that money, White Square Books came up for sale."

Link and Grant will acquire White Square's stock of about 9,000 titles, and will carry new and used titles and feature local writers. "We'll do our best to carry books that will be of interest to the community that are small press titles," Link said. "And we'll carry a lot of books that we love that are carried by other presses."

Grant added: "Small Beer is an indie press. Our books are distributed by Consortium. We have tried to be as independent as possible for the past 18 years that we've been publishing. We're not a huge fan of the conglomerate voices in publishing, and by that I mean more of the retail aspect than the publishers."

Link and Grant have a shared bookstore connection: the two met while working at Avenue Victor Hugo Books in Boston, Mass. "We worked together off and on for about four years, and at various times each of us was the new book buyer or the used book buyer," Link said.

She also worked at B. Dolphin Ltd., Books for Kids in Greensboro, N.C. He is a former American Booksellers Association staff member.

Link's books include Pretty Monsters, Get in Trouble: Stories, Stranger Things Happen: Stories and Magic for Beginners.

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

Thank You Books Opening in Birmingham, Ala., Next Month


Late next month, Laura Cotten and Kristen Iskandrian will open Thank You Books, a 1,300-sq.-ft. independent bookstore, in Birmingham, Ala. The store will sell general-interest books for all ages, with an emphasis on literary fiction and poetry.

In addition to books, Thank You Books will carry high-quality paper products, stationery and journals, along with pens, assorted store-branded merchandise and a host of "cute extras." Plans for events are extensive, including author readings and signings as well as book clubs, storytime sessions, community-centered readings, editorial panels and the occasional live music performance. Cotten and Iskandrian said they expect to get the event programs going after the holiday season.

Iskandrian (l.) and Cotten at the future Thank You Books.

Both Cotten and Iskandrian have backgrounds in books, though they worked on separate sides of the industry. Iskandrian is an author, and in 2017 Twelve/Hachette published her debut novel, Motherest, while Cotten has been a bookseller at Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham as well as Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga. 

Both women attended the University of Georgia, and while Cotten was working at Avid Bookshop, Iskandrian frequently visited the store, but they didn't meet until a few years later in Birmingham, where they were both involved with a nonprofit arts organization called Desert Island Supply Co. The pair hit it off, with Cotten recalling: "We trusted each other, we made each other laugh, and we had many of the same interests."

In 2017, Iskandrian posted on Facebook about wanting to open a bookstore of her own in Birmingham. At the time, Cotten and her husband had moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., but she commented that she would move back to Birmingham if Iskandrian really did open a store and wanted help. A few months later, after Iskandrian continued to mull over the idea, she reached out to Cotten, asking if her offer was genuine. It turned out that at the same time, Cotten had been working on an e-mail stating her intentions.

"It might sound hokey but it's true," said Cotten. "We have always been on the same page, and we have always felt guided by some benevolent force."

While Iskandrian and Cotten are still in the midst of building out their space, their plans have already been met with a great deal of excitement. They reported: "We have been touched and overwhelmed by people's enthusiasm."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Toadstool Moving Milford, N.H., Store to Nashua

Toadstool's store in Milford will be moving next month.

The Toadstool Bookshops, which has stores in Keene, Peterborough and Milford, N.H., is moving its Milford store to a larger location in Nashua in October. The Milford store, opened in 1989, will close soon, and its café has already closed. Nashua is about 10 miles southeast of Milford and with a population of 90,000 is the second largest city in New England north of Boston.

In an announcement to customers, Toadstool noted that the new space in Nashua, in the Somerset Plaza on Route 101A, "will have space for more books and for you to browse in a roomier, more comfortable environment. We can't wait to invite you in!" It added that over the past 30 years in Milford, it has "seen a generation of readers grow up. We are very grateful for all the support you have given us over the years and can only hope you will enjoy visiting us in the new location."

Among many other things, Toadstool is known for having started Cider Monday in 2013, which owner Willard Williams saw as a local, homey, bricks-and-mortar response to Cyber Monday, the frenetic online shopping occasion on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The holiday is celebrated by a range of booksellers and other retailers.

Md.'s Flying Camel Opens a Bookstore


The Flying Camel Literary Cafe and Piano Bar, a jazz club, cafe and bar in downtown Hagerstown, Md., has opened a new and used bookstore in its lobby, the Frederick News-Post reported.

"This is kind of a long-running dream come true," owner and manager Julie Castillo told Herald-Mail Media last year, prior to the club first opening. "I have had this idea kind of percolating in my head for close to 25 years."

The bookstore part of the business is located in the building's lobby and sells a selection of new titles, along with used books, CDs from musicians who have performed at the Flying Camel, buttons, art prints and other sidelines. On Saturday, September 21, Flying Camel held a grand opening party for the bookstore that featured steel drum music during the afternoon, a jazz performance in the evening, and free light snacks and $3 sparkling wine all day.

The cafe, which has been in business since last October, serves beer, wine and a host of cocktails, in addition to salads, wraps, paninis and a different type of nachos for each day of the week.

MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship Writers

The 26 recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants--$625,000 paid out over five years to people "who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction"--include these writers:

Elizabeth Anderson, philosopher, for "employing pragmatist methods to examine the ways that various institutions, policies, and social practices serve to promote or hinder conditions of democratic equality."

Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry, graphic novelist, cartoonist and educator, for "inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication."

Danielle Citron, legal scholar, for "addressing the scourge of cyber harassment by raising awareness of the toll it takes on victims and proposing reforms to combat the most extreme forms of online abuse."

Annie Dorsen, theater director and writer, for "pioneering a new genre of theater that dramatizes the ways in which nonhuman intelligence is profoundly changing the nature of work, culture, and social relationships."

Saidiya Hartman, literary scholar and cultural historian, for "tracing the afterlife of slavery in modern American life and rescuing from oblivion stories of sparsely documented lives that have been systematically excluded from historical archives."

Valeria Luiselli

Valeria Luiselli, writer, for "challenging conventional notions of authorship in fiction, essays, and inventive hybrids of the two that pose profound questions about the various ways we piece together stories and document the lives of others."

Kelly Lytle Hernández, historian, for "challenging long-held beliefs about the origins, ideology, and evolution of incarceration and immigrant detention practices in the United States."

Jeffrey Alan Miller, literary scholar, for "shedding light on how the writing practices of Renaissance scholars shaped foundational texts of modern Christianity, philosophy, and literature."

Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong, poet and fiction writer, for "marrying folkloric traditions with linguistic experimentation in works that explore the effects of intergenerational trauma, the refugee experience, and the complexities of identity and desire with eloquence and clarity."

Emily Wilson, classicist and translator, for "bringing classical literature to new audiences in works that convey ancient texts' relevance to our time and highlight the assumptions about social relations that underlie translation decisions."

Obituary Note: Jean Edward Smith

Jean Edward Smith, a political scientist and renowned biographer "whose works helped restore luster to the tarnished reputations of underrated presidents," died September 1, the New York Times reported. He was 86. Smith had been praised by political commentator George Will as "today's foremost biographer of formidable figures in American history."

Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize for his book FDR (2008), he was perhaps best known for biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, "presidents who at times received low approval ratings from historians," and of Chief Justice John Marshall, "whose legacy had seemed to have been lost in the flood of attention paid to the nation's founders," the Times noted.

"Before Smith wrote [John Marshall: Definer of a Nation], there was a dearth of material interpreting his life and his legacy in the modern day," said Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy at Marshall University. "If you read books by other historians on the founding period, you see they all cite Smith when talking about Marshall."

Grant (2001) was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in biography, which went to David McCullough for John Adams. Smith's other works include Eisenhower in War and Peace (2012), The Defense of Berlin (1963), and Bush (2016), "a scathing indictment, starting with this blunt opening sentence: 'Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush,' " the Times wrote.

Smith's last book, The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light (Simon & Schuster), was published this summer. The Times reported that at a celebration for the book, Montserrat Miller, executive director of the John Deaver Drinko Academy, an arm of Marshall that promotes civic engagement, said the book shows "how three individuals with much that divided them could each choose to do the right thing." Their example, she added, "gives us hope and offers us promise at a time when too many have embraced cynicism and despair."


Image of the Day: Guts Celebrated in San Francisco

Book Passage, San Francisco, Calif., hosted more than 800 attendees at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre to celebrate the release of Raina Telgemeier's latest graphic memoir, Guts (Graphix). Pictured: (l.-r.) Book Passage staffers Mari and Zack; co-owner Elaine Petrocelli; Telgemeier; staffers Jess, Clare, Bella and Amanda.

Bookseller Moment: Curiosa

Canadian bookseller Curiosa, Toronto, Ont., shared a rainbow-hued photo on Facebook, noting: "When your customers take time to e-mail you the magic moment they captured on their way out of the shop! Thanks Kati!"

Frankfurt Book Fair New York Picks Can You Hear the Trees Talking?

The Frankfurt Book Fair New York has selected Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Shelley Tanaka (Greystone, $17.95, 9781771644341) as its September Book of the Month.

The organization described the book this way: "With his groundbreaking, internationally bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben established himself as a global advocate for forests and our relationship with trees. Now, Peter shares his famous imagination and storytelling style with children, asking surprising questions about trees with exciting quizzes, photographs, and hands-on activities to help even the most reluctant learners discover the answers."

Peter Wohlleben is the author of The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals and The Secret Wisdom of Nature. He lives in Germany, near a forest.

Shelley Tanaka is a writer, editor and translator who teaches an MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Personnel Changes at Abrams

Marti Malovany, director of museum sales & distribution, is retiring tomorrow after 42 years at Abrams. Malovany began her career in 1977 in the editorial department and, after 25 years, moved into sales in 2002. For the past two decades, she has overseen Abrams distribution, working with such major museums and publishers as Vendome Press, Tate Publishing, V&A Publishing, the Museum of Modern Art, Cameron + Company, Lucky Spool, and Getty Publications. "Watching Abrams grow from a small, prestigious art book publisher into a much larger company has been exciting and fulfilling," Malovany said. "I've worked with wonderful people over the decades and look forward to following the company's continuing growth with interest."

Also at Abrams, Megan Evans has been promoted to marketing coordinator in the marketing and publicity department of the children's books division. She was previously marketing & publicity assistant.

Gabriella Paez has joined Abrams as marketing & publicity assistant in the marketing and publicity department of the children's books division. She recently completed New York University's Summer Publishing Institute.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tom LoBianco on Fresh Air

NPR's Here and Now: Brian Rosenwald, author of Talk Radio's America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674185012).

Fresh Air: Tom LoBianco, author of Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062868787).

The View: Bobby Flay, co-author of Bobby at Home: Fearless Flavors from My Kitchen: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780385345910).

Jimmy Kimmel Live repeat: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316478526).

This Weekend on Book TV: Sidney Blumenthal

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, September 28
4:15 p.m. Stanley Greenberg, author of RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans (Thomas Dunne, $29.99, 9781250311757), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

6:35 p.m. James Verini, author of They Will Have to Die Now: Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate (Norton, $27.95, 9780393652475), at Politics and Prose.

7:45 p.m. April Ryan, author of Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9781538113363), at Mahogany Books in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

8:45 p.m. Mary Lane, author of Hitler's Last Hostages: Looted Art and the Soul of the Third Reich (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781610397360).

10 p.m. Paul Tough, author of The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544944480). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Andrew Pollack, co-author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created the Parkland Shooter and Endanger America's Students (Post Hill Press, $27, 9781642932195). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:50 p.m.)

Sunday, September 29
12:10 a.m. Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime (Dutton, $29, 9781524743017).

3 p.m. Sidney Blumenthal, author of All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. III, 1856-1860 (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476777283).

4:15 p.m. Azadeh Moaveni, author of Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS (Random House, $28, 9780399179754), at Solid State Books in Washington, D.C.

6 p.m. Gary Marcus, co-author of Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust (Pantheon, $28.95, 9781524748258).

6:45 p.m. Mary Gray, co-author of Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9781328566249).

10 p.m. Gordon Chang, author of Losing South Korea (Encounter, $6.99, 9781641770682).

11 p.m. Josh Campbell, author of Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI (Algonquin, $28.95, 9781616209506), at Politics and Prose.

Books & Authors

Awards: Goldsboro Books Glass Bell; RNA's Joan Hessayon

London bookseller Goldsboro Books has chosen Christina Dalcher as the winner of the £2,000 (about $2,470) Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award, which recognizes " a compelling novel with brilliant characterization and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized," for her dystopian debut novel Vox (Berkley). In addition to the cash prize, the winner receives an engraved glass bell.

The award was judged by Goldsboro Books founder and managing director David Headley and his team at the bookshop. Headley said: "Hard-won rights sometimes feel like a luxury that we can never take for granted, and Vox is an urgent and timely reminder of this. A terrifyingly plausible yet dazzling thriller which prompted passionate discussions during the judging, it's a story about the importance of communication, the power of language and a lesson that freedom is continually being fought for around the world. I set up the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award to celebrate stories like this--which challenge us, frighten us and stimulate us."


Lorna Cook won the £1,000 (about $1,235) Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award for new writers for her debut novel The Forgotten Village. RNA chair Alison May said the book "is an engaging, moving and ultimately life-affirming story that casts light on a fascinating moment in history."

Sara-Jade Virtue, one of the judges, commented: "Rich in mystery and passion, The Forgotten Village had me gripped from the first page, and didn't let me go till the final conclusion. I was completely swept away by the heartache of Veronica's story, and rooting for Melissa all the way through. Brilliantly researched, excellently executed, I absolutely loved it!"

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 1:

The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501178412) looks at pioneering women.

Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth by Rachel Maddow (Crown, $30, 9780525575474) explores the destructive impact of international oil interests.

Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062200679) contains new short stories, including two co-written with Stephen King.

The Shape of Night: A Novel by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, $28, 9781984820952) is a ghost story set in coastal Maine.

Troubled Water: What's Wrong with What We Drink by Seth M. Siegel (Thomas Dunne, $29.99, 9781250132543) distills a nationwide problem of unsafe drinking water.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky (Grand Central, $30, 9781538731338) is a horror story about a little boy with a voice in his head.

A Mrs. Miracle Christmas: A Novel by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $20, 9780399181399) is the latest Mrs. Miracle story.

How to Cook Everything--Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $37, 9781328545435) updates a classic cookbook.

Why? by Adam Rex, illus. by Claire Keane (Chronicle Books, $17.99, 9781452168630), uses that favorite of children's questions--"Why?"--to take down a supervillain.

Rebel by Marie Lu (Roaring Brook Press, $18.99, 9781250221704) is an exhilarating addition to the Legend trilogy.

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 Whisper Man: A Novel by Alex North (Celadon Books, 9781250317995, $26.99). "A creepy, sinister, can't-put-it-down story of a town that survives and then relives the crimes of a child serial killer. For those who love psychological thrillers (with the absence of gore but plenty of plot twists and turns), The Whisper Man is a grand ride into the minds of those who kill and those who are victims. You'll find yourself looking over your shoulder when reading this book. Don't stand too close to an open window..." --Helen Gregory, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.

The Dearly Beloved: A Novel by Cara Wall (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781982104528). "The Dearly Beloved follows two couples as the men navigate the social and personal turbulence of leading a New York City congregation while the women struggle to find their places and define their relationship to each other. This novel grabs you and brings you in deep right from the start. Through decades of war and protest, success and failure, love and loss, we grow to care about each of these complex characters. Along the way, we also get a glimpse into 1960s New York City and the ways place can so irrevocably impact lives. This is a book that will resonate long after you put it down." --Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y.

Waiting for Eden: A Novel by Elliot Ackerman (Vintage, $16, 9781101971567). "I was completely captivated by this intensely emotional yet compact novel. Both of Ackerman's previous novels were acclaimed by readers and critics alike, but Waiting for Eden proves something more. In less than 200 pages, the intersecting lives of three people and the consequences of their choices are revealed in an astounding manner. It's a love story, a ghost story, a horror story, a war story, and, ultimately, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I don't want to tell you much more as I don't want to spoil it, but urge you to read this powerful and important work of literature." --Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

For Ages 4 to 8
This Book of Mine: A Picture Book by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780374305468). "Dreamy and enchanting for bookworms of any age, This Book of Mine is one to be read aloud, to read together, or to read after carefully inhaling the scent of magic that clings to its pages (for those of you who don't know, magic smells like books). This book had me hooked with its lovely images and kept me there with its bookish sentiment. I can't wait to gift this book to my youngest family members or any child in my immediate vicinity, but there will also be a copy just for me on my shelves." --Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey (Roaring Brook Press, $16.99, 9781250202864). "It's impossible not to love this story full of heart and a touch of magical realism. Foster kid Ruby wants nothing more than for her mom to overcome her addiction and act like a real mother. After some time, she learns to trust the Grooves, her foster parents, and grows attached to the giant tortoise in their petting zoo. As Ruby struggles to cross off all the impossible things from a list she and her late grandmother made, she learns the true meaning of family. A beautiful, forceful book. Ruby will bowl you over." --Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.

For Teen Readers
The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250168481). "Feeding off the marvelous and vicious world established in Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young has delivered another powerful and phenomenal book featuring amazing illustrations and personable characters. Inspired by the Vikings and Norse mythology, this is a story of coming together to fight for what you love, even against the odds. The characters are flawed and well-developed; the battles and fights are realistic and emotional. This book proves that old wounds can heal and enemies can put aside their differences. Young has a way with words--they are powerful, raw, and filled with emotion. You will not regret getting sucked back into the wonderful world from Sky in the Deep!" --Anna Rose Carleton, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World

Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World by David Owen (Riverhead, $28 hardcover, 304p., 9780525534228, October 29, 2019)

When considering the deaf-versus-blind conundrum--which would be worse?--take it from Helen Keller: the correct answer is "deafness." In Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World, David Owen reports that at age 20, by which point Keller had had about 18 years of personal experience with both disabilities, she wrote, "Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus: the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of men."

And yet people have traditionally done a shabby job at protecting their ears. Owen, a 60-something tinnitus sufferer with mild hearing loss, recalls of his childhood, "We had been warned that slingshots and BB guns and darts and arrows and gym towels could blind us if we aimed them at each other's faces, but I have no memory of being similarly advised about the dangers of sound."

Volume Control is Owen's look at how society has historically treated (in both senses) the deaf, and what we are doing now to solve the problem of hearing loss. A staff writer for the New Yorker who has written more than a dozen books on a host of topics, Owen dutifully metes out the basics about the auditory system, but it's Volume Control's human-interest angle that enthralls. He discusses the ongoing controversy within the deaf community regarding surgical cures; one of Owen's many interview subjects, a tinnitus researcher with a hearing-impaired daughter, explains that some who consider their deafness part of their cultural identity believe that "cochlear implants are unnecessary--that they are solutions to a problem that doesn't exist." And Owen offers a heartbreaking riff on how military men and women, whose ears have always taken a beating, are even today given the message from higher-ups that wearing ear protection and complaining of hearing loss are signs of weakness.

Although Volume Control is inevitably cautionary--"Our ability to deafen ourselves with ordinary daily activities has never been greater than it is now"--the book is not a scold. That's because Owen's curiosity rather than an agenda powers Volume Control. His wide-eyed wonder is shared by some experts: one scientist who studies hearing tells Owen, "If you stop and think about how hearing works, it seems insane." Something that will suddenly seem insane to anyone who reads Volume Control: operating a vacuum without wearing earplugs. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This fascinating social and cultural history of hearing problems and solutions sounds notes of both caution and hope.

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