Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Abrams Press: Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Algonquin Books: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Quotation of the Day

'An Adventure Without Challenges Isn't Interesting'

"Would we change anything? Would we turn back time so that our chance comments about opening a bookshop never happened? Hell, no! Every journey has highs and lows. And an adventure without challenges isn't interesting. We're not out of the woods yet, but we are buoyed by the welcoming enthusiasm of the people visiting our shop, and being surrounded every day by the smell of great books."

--New Zealand bookseller Mary Fawcett, co-owner of Schrödinger's Books in Petone, in a column for Newsroom.

Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books


News

NYC's Drama Book Shop Reopening in 2020 at New Location

New York City's Drama Book Shop will reopen next spring at 266 West 39th St., "in a garment district storefront just a block south from its previous location," the New York Times reported, adding that the bookshop "is a century-old mainstay of the city's theater community, selling scripts and books about the stage." 

The legendary store was purchased last January by Lin-Manuel Miranda and three of his Hamilton collaborators after they learned it would be closing due to a large rent increase. The other partners are Thomas Kail, who directed the musical; Jeffrey Seller, who was the lead producer; and James L. Nederlander, whose company operates the Broadway theater where the it is running.

via David Korins/Twitter

"It was both a destination for tourists and it was also our hub, and so we wanted to keep it close to the theater district," Miranda said. "And, too, we're in the business of creating community, and that's another thing the Drama Book Shop does, and that's incalculable--I can't tell you how many creative teams on theater companies say 'Let's go meet at the book shop and talk there.' "

After closing the store's previous location in January, they "moved its contents into storage, and, with the assistance of city officials eager to preserve an arts-related business in Midtown, looked for a new location," the Times noted.

David Korins, who created Hamilton's set and is the store's designer, said the new centerpiece will be a large, spiral worm-shaped sculpture of dramatic literature, bursting out of the back wall and corkscrewing into the space.

"With a look inspired by European cafes and a reading room atmosphere, it will sell coffee, merchandise and writing materials, along with play scripts, librettos and books about the arts," the Times wrote. A basement level could be used for classes, readings or other gatherings. The new owners also saved the old-fashioned sign and an upright piano from the previous location.

"Early on, Jeffrey sent me an article about European cafes of 100 years ago, and how they were beautiful spaces where people would sip coffee and exchange ideas," Korins said. "We wanted to create a space where we were looking back into the past and into the future, so the space is carved up like a reading room cafe, with a tin ceiling, aged with patinas, and mix and match furniture."

The manager of the former location will helm the new store, with the operation overseen by a Hamilton-related company that already handles another Midtown business--the musical's merchandise shop, the Times reported.

"I'm the old guy in the bodega who is still talking about boxers. I'm an aggressively small-business person," Miranda recently said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York, adding: "We're opening a bookstore in post-Kindle, post-Amazon America!"


Apollo Publishers: Holiday Gift Ideas


Charm City Books Opens in Baltimore, Md.

Charm City Books, a general-interest independent bookstore in Baltimore, Md., has opened in the city's Pigtown neighborhood, Baltimore magazine reported.

The store resides in a two-story building that was once a Baltimore Police Department substation. The first floor features the store's book inventory, which covers all genres and ages from children to adults, and has a particular focus on work from marginalized voices. The bookstore's second floor, meanwhile, is meant to serve primarily as a gathering and events space.

Owners Daven Ralston and her husband, Joseph Carlson, have no bookselling experience, but have worked as actors, musicians and educators throughout the greater Baltimore area. They hope eventually to expand their events program to include a variety of live performances for both children and adults and want the store to become a hub for creatives in the area.

"The neighborhood has a really strong sense of their history, and it's very special," Ralston told Baltimore magazine. "Everyone wants to help each other. You don't get that everywhere."


Grove Press: Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart


B&N Names Inaugural Book of the Year Finalists

Barnes & Noble has announced finalists for the inaugural B&N Book of the Year. The chain's booksellers across the U.S. nominated their top books from 2019, which were then narrowed down to eight titles by a selection committee that included CEO James Daunt.

"The Barnes & Noble Book of the Year is unlike any other U.S. literary prize, as it is selected by booksellers, voting for the title for which they are most proud to be selling," Daunt said. "There is no other rule: no limit by genre, by publication date, by commercial success or anything else. The nominations indeed evidence that no rule has been followed. They include a variety of subjects, from the literary to the culinary, and even one title that had yet to be published when nominated, such was the anticipation for it by Barnes & Noble booksellers."

The 2019 B&N Book of the Year finalists are: 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The Food of Sichuan by Fuchsia Dunlop
Mythos by Stephen Fry
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The finalists are on display in stores and on BN.com. The winner will be chosen by B&N booksellers and announced in early December.

The award is one of the more public examples of Daunt's influence over the company since Elliott Advisors, owner of Waterstones, bought B&N in August and appointed him CEO.

Waterstones has had a Book of the Year Award since 2012, a year after Daunt was appointed managing director of Waterstones, an award that often has had a major effect on sales and visibility for the winner. Like the B&N award, titles are nominated by Waterstones booksellers and chosen by a panel headed by Daunt. This year's Waterstones shortlist includes several titles on the B&N list: The Testaments, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse and No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference. The winner will be announced November 29.

Waterstones also has a Children's Book Prize, which includes several categories and whose overall winner this year is The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf.

Commenting on the B&N award, Daunt added: "As booksellers, we are in the privileged position of being exposed to the full range of new book releases each year, from blockbuster titles by established authors to smaller, more unique offerings.... During my time as a bookseller and bookstore owner, I have found the best recommendations come from other booksellers. This, very often, is for books that have eluded the bestseller rankings. We have enjoyed very much the eclectic eccentricity of many of the titles proposed by booksellers, and believe the shortlist reflects the serendipity of discovery that is a hallmark of a visit to one of our bookstores."


Main Street Books in St. Helena, Calif., Closing

Main Street Books, a 200-square-foot independent bookstore in St. Helena, Calif., will close next Saturday due to declining sales, the Napa Valley Register reported

The store, which opened in 1982, has been in its current location and solely owned by Liza Russ since 1998. Russ told the Register that her landlord has been very generous to the store and is not the reason for the closure. It is St. Helena's only bookstore.

Despite not running events or doing any sort of promotion, Main Street Books has had a dedicated customer base for many years. In June of 2012, when it looked as if the store might close, a "cash mob" made up of community members descended on the store and gave Main Street Books its "best day of business ever."

"I am so glad my children have gotten to grow up perusing the shelves there too," Brooke Casey, the organizer of that cash mob, told the Register. "It was a rite of passage when they got their very own index cards to keep a credit for trading books in and out."


Celebration of the Life of Toni Morrison Set for November 21

photo: Michael Lionstar

A celebration of the life of author, editor and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, who died August 5, will be held on Thursday, November 21, in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue. Speakers will include Oprah Winfrey, David Remnick, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Young, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Jesmyn Ward, Edwidge Danticat and Michael Ondaatje. The service will start at 4 p.m. and is open to the public.


Notes

Image of the Day: Road Trip

Recently, two Consortium publishers, Jennifer Baumgardner (Dottir Press) and Stefan Tobler (And Other Stories) drove from New York City to Nashville, stopping to visit bookstores along the way. At Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., Baumgardner and Tobler ran into translator Sarah Booker. Neither of them had ever met her in person, but she was translator of The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza, which was acquired when Baumgardner was publisher of Feminist Press, and then sold to Tobler at And Other Stories. Pictured: (from left) Stefan Tobler, Sarah Booker, Jennifer Baumgardner and Jacqueline Zeisloft (Dottir Press).


Oprah's Book Club Pick: Olive, Again

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (Random House) as her new book club selection, CBS This Morning reported. Winfrey praised Strout for "taking the simplest of things and turning them into something that feels real to us," and explained why Olive resonates with readers: "I love her because she's so 100% authentically herself. She always says the things that we are always thinking, like when those grandkids came to visit, and she's thinking these bratty kids--everybody thinks it, but you don't say it."

Winfrey's interview with Elizabeth Strout will premiere January 17 on Apple TV+.


Personnel Changes at Workman

Diana Griffin has been promoted to publicity manager for the Workman imprint at Workman Publishing. She was formerly senior publicist. Earlier she was a publicist at Tor/Forge Books and worked in marketing and publicity at Ryland Peters & Small and Abbeville Press.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Aaron Glantz on Marketplace

Today:
Dr. Oz: Hoda Kotb, author of I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By (Putnam, $24, 9780735217416).

Tomorrow:
Rachael Ray: Whoopi Goldberg, author of The Unqualified Hostess (Rizzoli, $35, 9780847866984).

NPR's Marketplace: Aaron Glantz, author of Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream (Custom House, $27.99, 9780062869531).

NBC's A Little Late with Lilly Singh: Jenny Slate, author of Little Weirds (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316485340).


TV: R.L Stine's 'Point Horror' Books

HBO Max is developing a series based on Scholastic's "Point Horror" books by R.L. Stine. Variety reported that the project, currently titled Point Fear, is "described as an anthology series that exposes the horrors of being a teenager."

Although many authors have published "Point Horror" books, the series will focus on those written by Stine, with each episode inspired by a different title and "told for today's audiences but with a nostalgic nod to the 1990s," Variety noted. Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) is in negotiations to direct and executive produce the series. Stine will also executive produce along with Yvonne M. Bernard.


Books & Authors

Awards: Blue Peter Book Finalists

Finalists have been named for the 2020 Blue Peter Book Awards, which honor "amazing authors, imaginative illustrators and the best books for children," as voted for by 400 children from 12 schools across the U.K. The winners will be revealed March 5, 2020 during World Book Day. The shortlisted titles are:

Best Book with Facts
Fanatical About Frogs by Owen Davey
How to Be an Astronaut and Other Space Jobs by Dr Sheila Kanani, illustrated by Sol Linero
Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories by Amanda Li, illustrated by Amy Blackwell

Best Story
Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson
Vote for Effie by Laura Wood
Wildspark by Vashti Hardy


Reading with... Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne

photo: Karen Kelly

Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne grew up reading, writing and shooting in East Tennessee. After graduating from Amherst College, she worked at the Atlantic. Her nonfiction has appeared in the Atlantic and the Boston Globe, among others, and her short fiction has been published in Barren magazine and the Broad River Review. She lives near Boston with her husband and four children. Her debut novel, Holding On to Nothing, was just published by Blair.

On your nightstand now:

Fanny Says by Nickole Brown, a crackling book of poetry about the poet's grandmother, because if you are reading a poem called "Fanny Says How to Be a Lady" and the first entry starts, "Never tell your age," and ends, "You're the doctor here. If you're so f*cking smart, why don't you tell me how old I am?" then you are gonna need to buckle up your seat belt.

Florida by Lauren Groff, because short stories often confound and elude me, but hers are so profound and perfect that they never fail to leave me awestruck and wiser.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, because the conceit of this book is so unusual and also recognizably and terrifyingly possible, and thus, so very heartbreaking.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. Does this need explanation? We live in a world of mansplaining and it is so exhausting. Solnit is so incisively observant about society, reading her words I felt seen and less exhausted.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is so good. There's music on every page and Bri's come up is so heartfelt and all on her own terms. It gave me goosebumps.  

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder! The whole series, but especially the early years when it was just the Ingalls family on their own in the woods and the prairie. My daughter has read them all multiple times, and like her, I didn't care a whit about the calico-wearing pioneer princess part of the books but only about the survivalist aspects. When my daughter turned to me a few weeks ago and said, "Did you know you can make string from the sinew of a bear?" my heart exploded with joy.

Your top five authors:

William Gay--I would take I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down with me as a my desert island book. I'll read any book that James Lee Burke writes, but especially his Dave Robicheaux books. When I read a Lee Smith book, I feel like I'm on a front porch listening to someone tell me a story. She is an incredible writer, and a fabulous storyteller. I'll read anything by Kate Atkinson, because she does dark so well, but always manages to guide you back to the light with justice delivered. And, to be honest, I love me some J.K. Rowling. Those books are such little juicy packages of drama all packed into one year.

Book you've faked reading:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I've tried and tried and tried, but I just can't get into his work. I met him once at a party where I was a waitress and he was one of the honored guests. He spent the whole night by the wall, largely alone, some portion of it making small talk with me, the very lowly waitress. For that moment alone, I want to love this book, but I fear his work isn't for me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel once or twice a week! I love it with an abiding passion. I am obsessed by epidemic books, which is what my work-in-progress book is about, and this is my favorite. It's a master class in creating an uneasy sense of quiet foreboding and drawing out the small connections between the characters' lives. And one more: my friend Kelly J. Ford's book Cottonmouths. Her tag line is: Lesbians. Chickens. Meth. It's so good.

Book you've bought for the cover:

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge. I love the lush green of the illustration and the block print of the title peeking through as if it's imprisoned within and being overtaken by the jungle. Greenidge works on so many levels and while the cover is outstanding, the book is even better!

Book you hid from your parents

I didn't really have to hide books from my parents that I can recall. What I did hide was the fact that I kept How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss so long past its due date in second grade that I racked up a $10 late charge from my school library. It presaged a long history of library fines because I like to keep the books I read!

Book that changed your life:

Kate Chopin's The Awakening. This book is so awash in feminism and also so real about how hard it can be to carve out a self that is distinct from your identity as a mother. The love, pain and heartbreak that swirl within Edna at all moments in that book, but especially in that last walk into the sea, will always be with me.

Favorite line from a book:

"Those people out there may be firsthand familiar with sin, but they ain't studying no guilt." This line from Terry Roberts's The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival perfectly captures the rhythms of speech and the mindset of the people in my part of Appalachia. I could only ever hope to write such a wonderful piece of dialogue as that.

Five books you'll never part with:

My original copy of Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White, which is the one that my dad read from when I was a kid.

Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo, whose use of the omniscient voice and ability to create a lovable unlikable character is spectacular.

My copy of The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is the original version I stole from my parents' bookshelf (maybe this is the book I hid from them!). I love this family saga--so much drama, life, love and just the right amount of sex crammed into its pages.

The cover is falling off my original copy of The Old Man and Lesser Mortals by the hilarious and thought-provoking Larry L. King, which my dad read to me when I was a child and is single-handedly responsible for showing me that my experiences and my voice growing up in East Tennessee were worth writing down and might be worth reading someday.

My dog-eared, tattered paperback copy of Toni Morrison's Beloved because that marginalia proves how fiction, and particularly fiction by Morrison, can blow your mind and change your perspective with a single sentence.

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

Can I pick two? I was a voracious reader when I was a kid and I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee when I was seven. I didn't know what rape was, which, as you can imagine, made for a confusing story. I missed so much of what was happening in that book, but even so, I knew it was something special. I'd love to read that again for the first time and understand what I missed then.

The other is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I dreaded reading it as a college student, but once I started, I fell in love. I'd like to read it again now as a mother and wife. I suspect I might be more forgiving of what I thought of then as Anna's frivolities, but which I know see as her desperately seeking some sense of self in a world that was determined to take that from her.

What books would you like to see more of?

I want more stories set in modern-day Appalachia and more "grit lit" by women, such as Sugar Run by Mesha Maren or The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson. Many of the most successful books set in this region are set in the past. They are incredible, without a doubt, but I'd like to read more set in the current day.


Book Review

YA Review: Reverie

Reverie by Ryan La Sala (Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99 hardcover, 416p., ages 14-up, 9781492682660, December 3, 2019)

Ryan La Sala's debut is a darkly imagined, riveting fantasy that delves into the unlimited potential of getting lost in one's dreams. When Kane wakes in the hospital, he can't remember the accident. Apparently, he rammed his dad's car into an old mill and needed to be pulled from the Housatonic River. The car had "exploded on impact... the mill, and everything within fifty feet of it, was scorched." The police think "the whole thing" was "deliberate and thought out," suicidal even, and they want answers. So Kane, accompanied by sister Sophia, trespasses at the historical site in an effort to clear his name. As Kane wanders, struggling to remember, something "huge and spider-like" emerges and chases them from the mill.

Kane undergoes a psych evaluation, where the dazzling Dr. Poesy warns Kane that his "story takes place within a much larger story"--a story that is bigger than the East Amity Police investigation and potentially dangerous. In fact, a local painter has disappeared and Dr. Poesy strongly hints Kane may be a suspect. Dr. Poesy says they will help Kane as long as Kane keeps a journal in which he must write anything he remembers about his "incendiary" incident.

Back at school, Kane learns that he has a small, close-knit group of friends who call themselves "The Others"; they, like the experience of the accident, have "been cut from his memory entirely." Kane, seeking information, eavesdrops on them debating how to handle him and his missing "powers." Another "reverie" will be happening soon, they say, and it's Kane who has always unraveled them. This time, however, the group agrees they must keep him away. Furious with all the secrets and needing to learn more, Kane seeks out the reverie, finding himself in a "crazy fantasy" involving "a subterranean civilization that worships a god called the Cymo." Kane has to somehow survive until the reverie becomes "unstable" and starts to "collapse," at which point he is supposed to unravel it--if he can remember how.

In East Amity, where dreams actually do become real, readers feel the tangible danger as the "fantastic realities people lovingly [create] for themselves" spin out of control. Like so many others in Reverie, Kane wants to believe he can escape into the "intoxicating potential" of dreams. But, before the end of this thrilling narrative, Kane must either come to terms with fighting "for a reality that fails so many, so often" or, instead, fight to change it. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: After surviving an accident of which he has no memory, Kane discovers it's up to him to save his town from dreams that magically become real.


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