Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 8, 2019


Harper: The Lowering Days by Gregory Brown

Scribner Book Company: Red Island House by Andrea Lee

Shadow Mountain: The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M Eden

House of Anansi Press: Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

St. Martin's Press: Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair by Kim Scott

News

Notes from New York Comic Con

ReedPOP's New York Comic Con, the East Coast's largest pop culture event, took place this past weekend at the Javits Center in New York City. More than 200,000 tickets were sold for the four-day event at which fans of comics, film, television and books attended screenings, walked the show floor, interacted with new products and celebrated their personal fandoms. Like last year, there was an excellent publishing presence, with tons of book-related panels. And those panels were wonderfully diverse. As event director Kristina Rogers noted, she was particularly pleased about having a "representative line-up of panelists talking about topics that are balanced out. I love 'people of color and comics' panels, they're really cool, but what I love more is seeing people of color on all of our panels about comics. And the same with women. And the same with anybody--everybody--else."

Lily Herman, Renée Ahdieh, Sarah Kuhn, Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, Sona Charaipotra and Mariko Tamaki

On Saturday morning, moderator Lily Herman (Refinery29 contributing editor) chatted about the romance genre with creators Renée Ahdieh (The Beautiful, Putnam), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex, DAW), Sona Charaipotra (Symptoms of a Heartbreak, Imprint) and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell and Mariko Tamaki (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, First Second) in a panel titled "Is This a Kissing Book?" The panelists discussed the craft of the romance novel and their own personal experiences writing the genre for teens and adults. Ahdieh suggested that a romance writer is trying to achieve for the reader "that feeling around your heart where something tightens when you read it." "When it's done really right," Kuhn said, "you're tortured by the book." Discussing Happily Ever Afters, Happily for Nows and True Love Always, the group chatted about their personal fandoms and favorite ships, and Tamaki said, "I think everybody who writes should be a nerd." Immediately following this panel, Herman did a one-on-one interview with author Marie Lu, whose Rebel (Roaring Brook Press), the final book in her bestselling Legend series, was recently released.

Tochi Onyebuchi, Ted Caplan, Jenni Hendriks and Max Brallier

Later Saturday morning, authors Tochi Onyebuchi (Riot Baby, Tor, January 2020), Ted Caplan and Jenni Hendriks (Unpregnant, HarperTeen) and Max Brallier (The Last Kids on Earth and The Midnight Blade, Viking) spoke about their experiences writing "From the Screen to the Page." Brallier suggested that he "only figured out how to structure books after [he] figured out how to structure a movie." Hendriks and Caplan, who are both screenwriters, explained that, as Hendriks put it, the main difference between writing for the screen and writing books is that "you can use all the words in a book!" And Onyebuchi left the aspiring writers with a piece of advice he was given that he will never forget: "Fail brilliantly."

Petra Mayer, Sara Holland, Megan Shepherd, Erin A. Craig, Holly Black and Seanan McGuire

On Sunday morning, NPR Books editor Petra Mayer talked about fairies, fairy stories and fairy tales with authors Sara Holland (Havenfall, Bloomsbury), Megan Shepherd (Midnight Beauties, HMH), Erin A. Craig (House of Salt and Sorrows, Delacorte), Holly Black (Heart of the Moors, Disney-Hyperion) and Seanan McGuire (Come Tumbling Down, Tor). McGuire set the tone of the conversation, explaining to the audience that "fairies would straight up cut a b*tch" or perhaps turn a person "into an equal volume of spiders," noting that even Tinkerbell was "a murderous little brat." Taking a deep dive into the how and why of writing about fairies, the panelists discussed origin stories, their attraction to the world of fairies and Faerie itself as "an ecosystem" (Black). McGuire left the attendees with a strong piece of advice: "It is courteous to leave a bowl of milk on the doorstep; it is stupid to set up a fairy door in the nursery."

Kuo-Yu Liang, ReedPOP's global director of business development, noted that "different people come here for different reasons. Some people just want to wander. Some people want to go to artist alley and spend eight hours a day talking to artists and buying art. Some other people may just want manga. Others may say, 'I don't read at all,' and want to only meet movie stars. It's a different show for different people. And we have to provide a road map for all of those people. We've spent a lot of extra effort [to make the show feel more welcoming] this year, too. More multicultural, working with ADA--you'll notice a lot more people in wheelchairs doing cosplay this year. It's great! And every year we ask ourselves how to do it better next year." --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


NEIBA Panels: Merchandising for Inclusion; Books in Translation

Moderator Nicole Brinkley (back left) with (front row) Alexa Crowe, Elizabeth Blueml and (back right) Jessica Wick.

Last week during the New England Independent Booksellers Association fall conference in Providence, R.I., NECBA co-chair Nicole Brinkley from Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, N.Y., moderated the Visual Merchandising for Inclusion panel. The panel included Alexa Crowe from An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Café in Plainville, Mass., Elizabeth Blueml from Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vt., and Jessica Wick of Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, R.I. The booksellers discussed the ways in which their individual stores "use counter space, face-out tables, cardboard displays, window space, and more" to "allow and accommodate people who have historically been excluded... because of their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or ability." Crowe suggested booksellers start by looking at their store through the eyes of a customer and check out the ease of travel around the space--is the store comfortably accessible for strollers? Wheelchairs? Walkers? Wick expanded upon this idea, suggesting booksellers ask their staff to "spot check" displays for inclusive materials: What books are greeting customers? Inclusive displays, Brinkley added, can encourage your customer base while also bringing in new readers. Blueml wrapped up the panel's ideas neatly, saying "every theme should be an inclusive theme" because independent bookstores have the "amazing opportunity to create culture."

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L. to r.: moderator Shuchi Saraswat, Juan Mila, Emma Ramadan and Kathy Wiess.

At the panel on Buying & Selling Books in Translation, moderated by Shuchi Saraswat, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass. (and creator the store's Transnational Series), booksellers and publishers discussed how, as Saraswat put it, "to work books in translation into bookstores in a more meaningful way."

Kathy Wiess, director of sales, marketing and business development at Europa Editions, said that the press wants not only to bring great writers and great writing to the U.S. market from abroad, but also wants to "connect people and create bridges between cultures and build a global community of readers."

She noted that finding the right translators for projects is "one of the biggest challenges," and emphasized that there is a common misconception that "translated literature isn't financially successful.... A lot of books we publish have been commercially successful in and outside of their native countries." One example is Elena Ferrante, and Europa Editions "has indies to thank for her books doing so well."

Juan Mila, executive editor of HarperVia, concurred that translations are growing in visibility and that "many things about translations seem better understood now." He noted that translated books are getting more attention in the prize world, notably with the addition of a translated book category for the National Book Awards. This is beneficial because awards do help sell books.

Like Europa Editions, HarperVia is looking to find books that will resonate and "come with a connection to an international group of readers." Mila emphasized that many translations into English are bestsellers in other languages, and the house can acquire such books "for a lot less money than English-language writers' works" because the English-language translation market is so small and many international writers want to appear in English.

Mila also pointed out that in HarperVia's galleys, there are notes from the translators of the book (almost all of the imprint's titles are translations) in which they share something that was interesting about translating the book--a feature that is proving popular.

Co-owner of Riffraff Bookstore and Bar, Providence, R.I., Emma Ramadan is both a bookseller and translator, and said that the store focuses on small press and translated titles and sells translated books "the same way we do any other books." In fact, emphasizing translations with a special section, for example, makes the sale harder since many readers "are not looking for translations or have a weird feeling about translations."

Ramadan noted that because so few books are being translated into English what ends up in bookstores is "the top of the top.... You can trust that not just anything winds up in translation." She noted that the store has found that the theme of "women in translation" is the most popular of the store's book clubs.

Shuchi Saraswat outlined the Brookline Booksmith's Transnational Series, which started in 2008 as an international reading series with a focus on migration. Over time, works in translation regardless of theme were added "because those stories themselves are migrating." The series has had quite a few author events, but, as Saraswat emphasized, "The problem we run into with international authors is how to get them here." Sometimes international authors visit universities so the store tries to work around those visits, although such events tend not to be coordinated with pub dates.

The store has hosted some events featuring both the author and translator of a title, which work well because there's often a strong bond between the two. Saraswat noted that some authors and translators are uncomfortable speaking in English, and need translators. But many U.S. translators will gladly do events, and "a lot of people are very curious about translators. They love being able to ask both the author and translator about things in a book." --John Mutter and Siân Gaetano


Berkley Books: Dangerous Women by Hope Adams


High Five Books & Art Always Opens in Florence, Mass.

High Five Books & Art Always, a children's bookstore and art studio that share a space, officially opened its doors yesterday in downtown Florence, Mass. 

The bookstore side of the business sells picture books, titles for early and middle grade readers and young adult books, as well as graphic novels. Art Always, meanwhile, offers a variety of art classes for children and also sells art kits and creative supplies.

High Five Books is owned by Lexi Walters Wright, and Lindsay Fogg-Willits owns Art Always. And though High Five Books is Walters Wright's first foray into bookselling, Fogg-Willits has been operating Art Always for the past 18 years.

Walters Wright and Fogg-Willits will host a grand opening on October 18.


Gotham Book Prize: Last Call for Submissions - Due by November 1st


Page 2 Books Moves Across the Street in Burien, Wash.

Page 2 Books in Burien, Wash., has moved to a new space directly across the street from its old store. 

According to co-owner and general manager Jenny Cole, the new Page 2 Books will feature a much-expanded children's section with books, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, education toys and more, as well a better display area for art and artwork by the store's Artist of the Month. Cole added that the bookstore's event space has also been improved.

To celebrate the move, Page 2 Books will host an open house and grand re-opening on Saturday, November 2, featuring prizes, giveaways, music and more activities throughout the day.


University of California Press: Epic Books Make Epic Gifts


Abrams Launching LGBTQIA Graphic Novel Line

In spring 2021, Abrams is launching Surely Books, a line of graphic novels that aims to expand "the presence of LGBTQIA creators and content in the comics world," as part of its Abrams ComicArts publishing program. Surely Books is being curated by author Mariko Tamaki and will feature two to three fiction and nonfiction titles a season by LGBTQIA creators that "highlight the activism, achievements, and struggles of the LGBTQIA community in books that combine strong narratives with stunning illustrations."

Mariko Tamaki

The inaugural Surely Books list will include a biography of Patricia Highsmith written by Grace Ellis; an account of Revolutionary War hero and openly gay General Baron von Steuben by Josh Trujillo and Levi Hastings; and a fictional story about a group of friends who learn a surprising secret one summer by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre.

Editor Charlotte Greenbaum will assist Tamaki in overseeing the editorial process for Surely Books, which will encompass memoir, comedy, fantasy, horror, history and educational titles that focus on activism, social justice and more.

Tamaki is the author of the queer coming-of-age graphic novel Skim, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, and This One Summer, also illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, which was a Printz Honor Book and Caldecott Honor Book, among other honors. Tamaki has also worked with comics series such as She-Hulk, and Archie and Sabrina, and is the author of original stories for the middle-grade fiction series Lumberjanes, based on the BOOM! Studios comics.

She commented: "My partner came up with the idea of doing this line that at first was so intimidating to me. It's still intimidating, but I also think it's an amazing challenge. I am so excited to have this opportunity to take on a new role in the creative process, to learn more with the writers and artists I'm working with, to find new ways to support queer creators and queer stories, new voices in our community."

Andrew Smith, senior v-p and publisher of Abrams ComicArts, added: "For 10 years, Abrams ComicArts has been publishing groundbreaking, acclaimed graphic novels that showcase comics as art. We're thrilled and honored to be working with Mariko Tamaki on this exciting new graphic novel list that will expand our program in new, exciting, and unexpected ways, and we look forward to amplifying the many and varied creative voices within the queer community."


October Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for October was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 146 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 555,756 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books).

For a sample of the September newsletter, see this one from Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.


Notes

Image of the Day: Very Local Author at Brazos

Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Tex., hosted the launch for Mark Haber's debut novel, Reinhardt's Garden (Coffee House Press). Haber (above, left) is a bookseller and operations manager for the store. The event featured a conversation with writer Daniel Peña, as well as a happy hour celebration and reading. Haber was also the inaugural author featured for the launch of #BehindtheBookstore, Brazos's new video series for touring authors. (photo: Adam Newton and Thu Doan).

Update: 27th Letter Books a Finalist in Hatch Detroit Contest

27th Letter Books, Detroit, Mich., which was earlier named one of 10 semifinalists in this year's Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest, is now among the final five. On Facebook, contest organizers posted: "We counted your ballots and it was down to the wire. For the first time, we're turning the vote back to you with five finalist businesses.... Cast your vote in our finalist round through October 10."

Four finalists will battle it out at the annual Hatch Off event on October 17 at the Beacon at One Woodward in downtown Detroit. 27th Letter Books has voting details on its website.


Video: 'A Day in the Life of a Bookshop Owner'

 

In June, Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., wrote in the store's newsletter about the challenges of keeping an independent business afloat--and how important it is for the community to do what it can to support the institutions it loves.

Jessie Blaeser, a former Avid customer, reached out to Geddis and asked her to be the first person/business featured in a new video series by  Tylt, in a video called "A Day in the Life of a Bookshop Owner."


Personnel Changes at Little Bee Books

Matthew Sciarappa has been promoted to marketing coordinator at Little Bee Books. He was formerly executive assistant and earlier was a bookseller at Barnes & Noble.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Christopher Wylie on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Christopher Wylie, author of Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America (Random House, $28, 9781984854636).

NPR's Here & Now: Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything--Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $37, 9781328545435).

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, author of JGV: A Life in 12 Recipes (Norton, $26.95, 9780393608489).

The View: Susan Rice, author of Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501189975).

Wendy Williams: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Letters from an Astrophysicist (Norton, $19.95, 9781324003311).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jonathan Van Ness, author of Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062906373).


TV: A Higher Loyalty

Brendan Gleeson has been cast to play President Donald Trump, opposite Jeff Daniels as James Comey, in a four-hour CBS Studios miniseries based on the former FBI director's bestselling book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, Deadline reported.

Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass) adapted the book and is directing the project, with shooting set to begin next month. CBS executives "will decide later on the air date and whether the mini is broadcast on Showtime, CBS All Access, or both," Deadline wrote.

"It's hard to imagine a bigger acting challenge than playing Donald Trump," Ray said. "You have to have presence, and a singular kind of dynamism. You also have to have the courage and the will to play Trump's psychology from the inside out. Oh, and you have to be spectacularly talented and watchable. Not many actors check all those boxes. Brendan does. I'm ecstatic about this."



Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting Creative Nonfiction

The eight Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant winners, each of whom receives $40,000 to complete their books in progress, are:

Wil S. Hylton, for The Call of Empire: The Midnight Rescue of Evangelina Cosío and the Rise of the American Century (Riverhead)
Channing Gerard Joseph, for House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens (Crown)
Jim Morris, for The Cancer Factory (Beacon Press)
Kristen Radtke, for Seek You: Essays on American Loneliness (Pantheon)
Albert Samaha, for Concepcion: A Family's Journey on the Immigrant Wave That Changed the Face of America (Riverhead)
Damon Tabor, for The Mountain in the Burning Sky (PRH)
Walter Thompson-Hernández, for The Compton Cowboys: A New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban Heartland (HarperCollins)
Ilyon Woo, for Master Slave Husband Wife: An American Love Story (S&S)


SIBA's Fall Okra Picks: 'A Fresh Harvest'

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Fall Okra Picks, "a fresh harvest of great Southern books, Southern voices and Southern stories hand picked by Southern independent booksellers," are:

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (Disney-Hyperion)
Watershed by Mark Barr (Hub City Press)
Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (Soho Teen)
How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones (S&S)
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman Books)
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson (FSG)
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne (Blair)
Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy by Cassandra King Conroy (Morrow)
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons (Tor Books)
Watch What You Say by George Weinstein (Sfk Press)
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint)
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (Berkley)


Book Review

Review: What Burns: Stories

What Burns by Dale Peck (Soho Press, $16 paperback, 216p., 9781641290821, November 5, 2019)

Though he once was best known for a ferocious reviewing style that produced a collection entitled Hatchet Jobs, Dale Peck's literary career hasn't been confined to criticism. What Burns, his first volume of short fiction, explores some of life's darker corners in eight well-crafted tales written over the past 20 years. The stories here are sturdily constructed, suggestive of the "massive wooden joist spanning the house's central axis" in the story "Summer Beam, pt. 1."

In each tale, there's some element that induces unease, and there's often an air of menace lurking over the characters. Peck nudges that quality of strangeness to the foreground, even though all of the stories are contemporary and feel firmly grounded in reality.

In the opener, "Not Even Camping Is Like Camping Anymore," five-year-old Davis insists that he wants to marry Blaine Gunderson, the teenage boy who's responsible for his afternoon care at the unlicensed day care facility run by Blaine's mother. What was "eerie about Davis," Blaine reflects, is that he "talked the way he did and still managed to pick up on what was happening in the part of the world that existed outside his weird little brain." Francis Kaplan Pelton, the ironic narrator of "Sky Writing," spends his inheritance from an ex-lover in a nonstop series of globe-spanning flights. The story recounts his interaction with an attractive young woman he identifies in the story's first sentence as his "latest victim." "Certain elements of this particular flight are a little too familiar, which means that it has already failed in its mission," he tells her, in the middle of their alcohol-drenched journey.

While two other stories feature a paroled murderer who's taken in by the son of his victim, and the murder of a philandering husband by his sister-in-law, Peck reserves the final explosion of mayhem for the collection's closing entries, "Summer Beam, pt. 1" and "Summer Beam, pt. 2." In this pair of stories--the only ones that don't feature a first-person narrator--Peck follows a college professor named Ellen, whose marriage has imploded following her husband's affair. After the summer season, she returns to her family's beach house in Maine for the first time in three years. There she sifts through the debris of a marriage that had "taken six years of internal, invisible erosion before the exterior edifice finally collapsed in on itself," and contemplates a solitary future from the vantage point of her late 30s. What begins as a playful encounter between Ellen and a foursome of teenage surfers moves almost imperceptibly, but inexorably, toward a shocking climax. It's a fitting ending to this disquieting collection. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Dale Peck offers eight portraits of modern life viewed through a dark lens.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. All the Way by Kendall Ryan
2. The Oracle by Jonathan Cahn
3. Kittyzen's Arrest by Addison Moore and Bellamy Bloom
4. Enchanting Sebastian by Kristen Proby
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
6. The True Definition of Beauty by Adam Scheiner
7. My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish
8. Nadine's Champion by Ruby Dixon
9. The Price of Scandal by Lucy Score
10. The Hold Out by Mickey Miller

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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