Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 2, 2020

William Morrow & Company: Polostan: Volume One of Bomb Light by Neal Stephenson

Shadow Mountain: The Legend of the Last Library by Frank L Cole

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Elements of Marie Curie: How the Glow of Radium Lit a Path for Women in Science by Dava Sobel

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Quotation of the Day

Chevalier's Books: 'Happy Reading in 2020'

"Holy crap. We're 80 years old!

"In 2014, before re-opening, we didn't know if Chevalier's was going to survive the year, much less the decade. Yet, here we are.

"2019 was an amazing year for us--quite possibly the best we've ever had. Thank you to our owners, to our staff, and, most of all, our dear customers. People love to say no one reads books anymore; let's keep proving them wrong.

"Wishing you happy reading in 2020."

--Chevalier's Books, Los Angeles, Calif., in Monday's newsletter to customers

Running Press Kids: Your Magical Life: A Young Witch's Guide to Becoming Happy, Confident, and Powerful by Amanda Lovelace


Holiday Hum: A Busy Finish to a Short Holiday Season

The holiday season ended solidly, according to a sampling of booksellers around the country, who noted a range of bestsellers--but no single blockbuster--trouble with late shipments, particularly via FedEx, a short holiday season following a late Thanksgiving and a growing appreciation of shopping local by customers.

At DIESEL: a bookstore, Brentwood, Calif., sales were "about flat" with last year, which was a good year, "so we're not complaining," said co-owner John Evans. The late Thanksgiving didn't have as much of an impact as expected, but "it's always tricky when Christmas and Hanukkah are close together."

Cookbook suggestions from Diesel

DIESEL expected some delivery and supply problems, "which is not a good sign," and missed Baker & Taylor. Evans gave a special shout-out to Penguin Random House and Macmillan's MPS for their "outstanding" turnarounds of orders.

There were few surprise titles, although Evans said that DIESEL "wasn't ready for" The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, which went out of stock quickly.

DIESEL's new store in San Diego, which opened in November, has been "welcomed with open arms and enthusiastic support, with greater sales than we had anticipated," Evans said, noting that customers appreciate the store in and of itself but also as "an alternative to Amazon, who they have become very uncomfortable with, especially with regard to books."

The mood of customers was high, Evans added, "because the stores are a refuge, a relief and a revelation."

At Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., customers "seemed happy, and most made a point to say shopping with Fountain was a deliberate choice," said owner Kelly Justice, adding that the short season "made everything seem concentrated and hectic, but it also made everything more fun." The store had fewer customers making larger purchases, and wrapping, including Hanukkah wrapping, was more popular than in previous years. Operations manager Carl Kranz added that customers' comments about shopping at Fountain were a sign that "the public is becoming more educated on how they spend their money and where it goes."

Fountain had delivery problems: "Virtually everything delivered by every shipping method from most companies had delays this year," Justice said. "Some were extreme."

Staff picks outsold major bestsellers, and history titles were in demand, Kranz said, and these included two staff picks: Vicksburg by Donald L. Miller and Hymns of the Republic by S.C. Gwynne. "2018 had a couple clear winner big-ticket books that we had no connection with but, in general, people seemed to be a lot more willing to be led around the store and more likely to go with staff recommendations," he added.

A strong regional title was a revised edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Richmond by Phil Riggan. Fountain also sold "a tremendous amount of gift items," including temporary tattoos for adults by Tattly and "Bless Your Heart" stickers from Good Southerner, as well as Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan and Drink Like a Geek by Jeff Cioletti as stocking stuffers.

Michael Herrmann with favorite current and upcoming books.

At Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., sales were "solidly flat, and we'll count that as a win," owner Michael Herrmann said. He attributed the results to a relative lack of events in November and December compared to the same period in 2018. The compact season made the store more vulnerable to bad weather, which included "rain from start to finish" on one key Saturday. Still, Herrmann reported, "the mood of shoppers was good. People were out and about and they were not stingy."

There were no surprise bestsellers or runaway bestsellers like Michelle Obama's Becoming in 2018. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett was "the clear winner for fiction, with Erin Morgenstern's Starless Sea a strong second." Richard Powers's The Overstory did very well for a paperback. "It's pretty hefty and gorgeous to look at, so it played the role of a hardcover gift for many shoppers," Herrmann noted. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Educated by Tara Westover had "surprisingly strong second Decembers." A strong regional title was New Hampshire's 52 with a View: A Hiker's Guide by Ken MacGray.

The most popular nonfiction titles were Bill Bryson's The Body and Running with Sherman by Chris MacDougall. "Malcolm Gladwell underperformed maybe by a little but was still in the expected range of sales, and ended in a tie with David McCullough, which is pretty good in any year," Herrmann said.

Popular non-book items included several Trump-related items from the Unemployed Philosophers' Guild, especially its "impeach-mints."

Herrmann described the in-stock situation this holiday season as "better than in recent memory. Even the titles we had the most trouble getting were in stock for something like 22 of the 24 days in December, including The Overstory and Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds by Ian Wright." But, he emphasized, deliveries were a problem. "FedEx was consistently two to three days behind on Ingram shipments for most of the month, and that made it very difficult to keep promises on special orders and to predict what would be need to be ordered every morning. We did okay, but the anxiety level was pretty high." He added a sentiment that many booksellers would likely applaud: "We hope that Ingram's discussions with their carriers will be breathtakingly vivid and frank."

At Prince Books, Norfolk, Va., deliveries were a problem early in the holiday period but improved, owner Sarah Pishko reported. "After the two Ingram/FedEx hiccups in early December, we had no more problems with the Hagerstown FedEx facility."

She noted, too, that in general, "Ingram did a pretty good job of staying stocked with the popular titles." Still, Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman was difficult to obtain, and The Dutch House and Blue Zones Kitchen by Dan Buettner ran out. Pishko praised Simon & Schuster and Ingram for "staying on top" of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat (which was hard to find a year earlier), saying "we sure sold a lot of copies of that the week before Christmas." --John Mutter

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile

Brookline Booksmith Plans Major Expansion

Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., will undergo a major expansion, adding a 4,000-square-foot space two doors down from its current location. The Boston Globe reported that in addition to an expanded children's section, a cookbook area and a section devoted to the store's Transnational Series, the new space will include a restaurant with a full liquor license. Brookline Booksmith will take over the space in the summer, with plans to open next fall.

"We're a bookstore first. A place for social discourse, conversation, discovery," said Booksmith president Jed Smith, adding that the expansion will allow the community "to continue the conversation and provide a comfortable place to talk."

Booksmith's holiday pop-up at a former coffee shop on the block "proved there was an appetite in the community for an expanded offering," the Globe noted. Co-manager Lisa Gozashti described the new space as "an opportunity to reflect back to the community who they are. Brookline is global, and our customers show us who they are with what they buy, and this new phase will be a deep reflection of what they've asked us to be." She noted that the space would be defined by warmth and companionship, "an intimate space with no affectation" with a "tremendous amount of heart in it."

At the recent meeting before the Brookline Board of Selectmen regarding Brookline's liquor license, "an ovation greeted its unanimous approval," the Globe wrote. Smith said his lawyer told him that he'd never heard an ovation for a liquor license before.

Spirit of '76 in Marblehead, Mass., Closes

The Spirit of '76 Bookstore and Card Shop in Marblehead, Mass., has closed, marking another closure or sale of bookstores by HugoBooks, which now has just two shops, both in Andover, Mass.: the Andover Bookstore, one of the oldest bookstores in the country, and Campus Collection, which focuses on Phillips Academy and town clothing and gifts.

The Spirit of '76 Bookstore was founded in 1965 by the late Bob Hugo, who with his son, owner John Hugo, bought and founded a group of other bookstores north of Boston. These included the Book Rack in Newburyport, which closed in September; Cabot Street Books & Cards in Beverly, which was sold this summer to Meg Wasmer and Julie Karaganis, who have renamed it Copper Dog Books; and the Spirit of '76² in Swampscott, which had a brief run, opening in 2011 and closing in 2013.

The original Spirit of '76 Bookstore was 500 square feet. In 1969, the store moved into its longtime location, which had 3,000 square feet. According to the Salem News, stock at the store had been diminishing in the past several months. A sign posted over covered windows reads: "The Spirit of '76 & The Hugo Family THANK YOU FOR 54 YEARS 1965-2019 OF BOOKSELLING IN MARBLEHEAD."

Obituary Note: Sonny Mehta

Sonny Mehta

Sonny Mehta, renowned editor-in-chief of Knopf and chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, died December 30. He was 77. In a statement, Penguin Random House said Mehta's "contributions to the world of letters and publishing are without precedent. His exacting standards--in editorial, production, design, marketing, and publicity--were a beacon to the book industry and beyond. He was a friend to writers, editors, and booksellers around the world. Mehta was also a gentleman, uniquely so, who cared deeply about his colleagues and the work with which he entrusted them. He was a beloved figure at Knopf, working at the only career he ever wanted. He lived a life in books, of books, and for books and writers."

Mehta began his publishing career in London in 1965 at Rupert Hart-Davis. He joined Granada Publishing in 1966, where he co-founded Paladin Books, before moving on to Pan Books in 1972, where he helped relaunch the Picador imprint.

During his London years, Mehta worked with an impressive roster of authors, including Douglas Adams, Bruce Chatwin, Jackie Collins, Germaine Greer, Michael Herr, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Robert Stone, Graham Swift and Edmund White.

In 1987, he moved to the U.S. when he was named president and editor-in-chief of Knopf, becoming only the third person--after founder Alfred A. Knopf and Robert Gottlieb--to lead the imprint in its 104-year history.

Under Mehta's leadership, six writers published by Knopf were awarded Nobel Prizes--Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, Orhan Pamuk, Imre Kertész, V.S. Naipaul and Toni Morrison--and dozens of others won major literary honors. At Knopf, Mehta published world leaders, acclaimed historians and a long and enviable list of fiction and nonfiction writers as well as poets. When Knopf and Doubleday were united to form a new publishing group in 2009, other notable writers came under his direction.

"I'm not sure my friends outside the writing world believed me when I told them I had the finest editor in the world. But I did," said Omar El Akkad in a New York Times piece that gathered memories from some of Mehta's writers. "More than anything I have achieved or ever will achieve, those rare afternoons spent in Sonny's office listening to him dissect the inner workings of a novel will always be the fondest memories of my career. He came to literature from a place of love, and that love is evident in every book he ever touched."

In a tribute, Chiki Sarkar, founder of Juggernaut Books and former head of Penguin Random House India, wrote of her mentor: "Sonny Mehta was regarded as the world's best publisher. What did that mean? It meant he published Michael Ondaatje, V.S. Naipaul, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Haruki Murakami and Gabriel García Márquez. It also meant--and this is the great lesson he taught me--he published the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, the Millennium series and Jurassic Park. He published the latter as seriously, as passionately and as imaginatively as the former....

"In the West, you rarely get to do Fifty Shades alongside Kazuo Ishiguro. So, Sonny--and the Knopf he shaped--was unusual. The Sonny hallmark was outstanding design and strong marketing alongside the selection of books--yet another lesson he taught me. Whenever I hear a publisher say I care only about the books, sales and marketing don't count, I think to myself, you're no publisher. Great publishers love marketing and sales and all the other stuff that makes up the selling of books.... We all wondered if he was ever going to retire. He'll die on the job, said most of us. And he did, he went just the way he wanted to go. Goodbye, dear Sonny. I'll miss you."

In 2018, Mehta received the Maxwell E. Perkins Award for lifetime achievement from the Center for Fiction. In remarks he delivered when accepting the honor, Mehta said, "Reading has been a constant in my life. I have always found comfort in the confines of a book or manuscript. Reading is how I spend most of my time, is still the most joyful aspect of my day. I want to be remembered not as an editor or publisher but as a reader."

A viewing will take place tomorrow, Friday, January 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel at 1076 Madison Ave. (at 81st St.) in New York City. Plans for a memorial service will be announced.

KKR Buys OverDrive from Rakuten

KKR, the huge private equity firm once known as Kravis Kohlberg Roberts & Co., has bought OverDrive from Rakuten, the Japanese online retailer that also owns Kobo. Rakuten purchased OverDrive in 2015 for $410 million. In its announcement of the sale to KKR, Rakuten said that it would record a profit of about $368.1 million from the sale in the first quarter. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

OverDrive is the main digital reading platform for some 43,000 libraries and schools around the world, offering e-books, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media. CEO Steve Potash, who founded OverDrive in 1986, commented: "OverDrive is very excited to work with the world-class KKR team due to their track record of accelerating digital media and technology businesses in global markets. This provides access to an extraordinary network of capabilities to empower our institutional partners for the benefit of the communities and readers they serve."

KKR owns related companies, particularly RBmedia (formerly known as Recorded Books), Epic Games, AppLovin, Pandora, WebMD, UFC, Leonine, BMG Rights Management, Next Issue Media, and Nielsen.

Ted Oberwager, managing director at KKR, commented: "At a time of accelerating digital adoption throughout libraries and schools, OverDrive offers its growing user base a best-in-class technology platform and reading experience--something we're excited to be a part of. We look forward to working with the company to further grow its portfolio and network, and continue to build on its status as a recognized leader in the digital content space."


Image of the Day: Buttigieg at Brilliant Books

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chastan, stopped by Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Mich., to browse while visiting family in the area for the holidays. He signed a copy of Shortest Way Home, and they posed for a photo with store owner Peter Makin. Pictured: (l.-r) Pete Buttigieg, Peter Makin, Chasten Buttigieg).

Caitlin Marsh, the bookstore's marketing manager, noted, "While we're no strangers to celebrity sightings in-store, this is the first time we've played host (albeit briefly) to a candidate in a presidential race."

Personnel Changes at Independent Publishers Group

Sharon Shell has joined Independent Publishers Group as director of library & education sales. Shell formerly was at Scholastic.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marie Kondo on Kelly Clarkson

Good Morning America: Kathy Ireland, co-author of Fashion Jungle (Van Dyken Enterprises, $15.99, 9781733668071).

Ellen repeat: Robert Iger, author of The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company (Random House, $28, 9780399592096).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Marie Kondo, co-author of Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship (Crown Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780525646266).

Today Show: David Zinczenko, author of Eat This, Not That (Revised): The Best (& Worst) Foods in America! (Ballantine, $22, 9781524796709).

The View repeat: Cameron Douglas, author of Long Way Home (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525520832).

Dr. Oz: Laura Lynne Jackson, author of Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780399591594).

TV: To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

A trailer has been released for Netflix's To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, a movie sequel based on the second book in Jenny Han's trilogy. Entertainment Weekly reported that the "footage for this next rom-com, returning stars Lana Condor as Lara Jean and Noah Centineo as Peter, shows the two teen love birds promising not to break each other's hearts. But can anyone really make that promise with any type of assurances?... Enter John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher." To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You will premiere on Netflix February 12.

This Weekend on Book TV: Sebastian Gorka

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, January 4
6:10 p.m. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (University of North Carolina Press, $30, 9781469653662).

7 p.m. Wilfred McClay, author of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story (Encounter, $34.99, 9781594039379).

10 p.m. Steven Greenhouse, author of Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor (Knopf, $27.95, 9781101874431). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. And 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Brian Fitzpatrick, author of The Conservative Case for Class Actions (University of Chicago Press, $32.50, 9780226659336). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:40 p.m.)

Sunday, January 5
1:20 a.m. Jodie Adams Kirshner, author of Broke: Hardship and Resilience in a City of Broken Promises (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250220639). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Sebastian Gorka, author of The War for America's Soul: Donald Trump, the Left's Assault on America, and How We Take Back Our Country (Regnery, $28.99, 9781621579403). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, author of Barrio America: How Latino Immigrants Saved the American City (Basic Books, $32, 9781541697249).

Books & Authors

Awards: Bookish U.K. New Year's Honors List

Author Rose Tremain was made a Dame for services to writing, and Jackie Kay, the Scots Makar, received a CBE for services to literature in the 2020 U.K. New Year's Honors list, the Bookseller reported, adding that Sir Elton John, author of autumn memoir Me, was made a Companion of Honor for services to music and charity.

OBEs went to artist and author David Shrigley for services to visual arts; former Reading Agency CEO Sue Wilkinson for services to literature and writing, and author and cook Nigel Slater.

Receiving MBEs were literary agent Felicity Bryan for services to publishing; Daisy Christodoulou of ed-tech company No More Marking; author Dreda Say Mitchell for services to literature and to work in prisons; author David Burns for services to children and young people with autism; and Carol Boswarthack, head of Barbican and community libraries in the city of London.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 7:

The Street by Ann Petry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $15.99, 9780358187547), first published in 1946, follows a single mother in 1940s Harlem. This edition includes a new introduction by Tayari Jones.

The River Murders by James Patterson and James O. Born (Grand Central, $29, 9781538700754) includes three thrillers about a private eye.

Naked Came the Florida Man: A Novel by Tim Dorsey (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062796004) is the 23rd humorous mystery with Serge Storms.

Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling (Grand Central, $27, 9781538732960) is satire about a future run by a supposedly infallible algorithm.

You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy (Celadon, $26, 9781250297198) looks at how to better listen to other people.

Martha Stewart's Organizing: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routines by Martha Stewart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328508256) catalogues ways to stay organized.

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E.J. Koh (Tin House, $22.95, 9781947793385) is the memoir of a Korean American woman and her mother.

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (Crown Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9781984892973), about a boy and grandmother who take a Travelers' Green Book-aided road trip across the United States, is the popular author's first work for middle-grade readers.

This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell, illus. by Aurélia Durand (Quarto, $14.99, 9780711245211) is, as its subtitle states, "20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work."

The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson (Forever, $12.99, 9781538701348).

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 Sacrament: A Novel by Olaf Olafsson (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062899873). "The Sacrament is a thoughtful, atmospheric, and quietly intense novel about how our choices have effects that must be felt our whole lives, and how we grapple with those consequences. I loved settling in with this novel." --Catherine Bock, Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.
Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635570106). "This book has completely consumed my life for the past few days! Secondhand takes us on an adventure through the world of recycling and reuse culture. This is an honest look at how the things that clutter our homes don't just disappear when we bring them to a secondhand store or recycling center. This book wants us to be a part of the reuse movement, to take notice of fast fashion, single-use items, and easily replaced electronics and make conscientious decisions as consumers. I hope many people read Secondhand and, in the spirit of the book, pass it on to others." --Alexa Ochocki, Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.
The Wicked Redhead: A Novel by Beatriz Williams (Morrow, $16.99, 9780062660329). "There has been a rash of then-and-now novels recently, but Williams weaves together two time frames so skillfully that the reader doesn't feel a bit discomfited by the time and narrator-switching in successive chapters. Williams is a skillful storyteller who keeps the reader intrigued by how it will all pan out." --Susan Thurin, Bookends on Main, Menomonie, Wis.
For Ages 4 to 8
Bear Is Awake!: An Alphabet Story by Hannah E. Harrison (Dial, $17.99, 9780399186660). "Creative, original, and with a whole new take on the alphabet book, Bear Is Awake! is remarkable. Hannah E. Harrison's fun-filled tale of a little girl and a bear, along with her fabulously expressive illustrations, will entice the reader to devour this captivating book over and over again. An engaging and entertaining treat for the whole family." --Kathy Neff, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.
For Ages 9 to 12
Sisterland by Salla Simukka, translated by Owen Frederick Witesman (Crown, $16.99, 9781524718787). "Sisterland is gorgeous, lush, and dreamy, with the atmosphere of the fairy tales we all know and love. It's Alice Through the Looking Glass, but for this generation. A beautiful exploration of friendship and the way children forget, of bravery and the beauty of remembering." --Megan Szmyd, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo.
For Teen Readers
Reverie by Ryan La Sala (Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99, 9781492682660). "A joyfully queer fantasy thriller! Kane has no memory of what led up to the accident at the old mill or why he would have done the things the police are accusing him of. As he tries to figure out what's going on (with the help and hindrance of three classmates claiming to be his friends), the world starts dissolving into dreams called reveries. And someone is benefiting from them. Can Kane and his maybe-friends figure out how to keep that someone from destroying the world? Exciting, romantic, and truly original." --Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Small Days and Nights

Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi (W.W. Norton, $25.95 hardcover, 272p., 9781324005230, January 21, 2020)

A woman, spiritually and emotionally adrift, uncovers family secrets and struggles to find her purpose in the perceptive and graceful novel Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi (Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods). Grace Marisola, desperate to give up an unsatisfying life in the U.S., returns to her childhood home in India after her mother's death to find that she's acquired both a secret house and an unknown older sister. This shock leads Grace, who longed for siblings as a child, to realize that "it is perfectly possible to exist in the world without being aware that someone close to you, someone of your flesh and blood, is moving about in the same air as you." This image of people simultaneously nearby and remote, close and yet unknowable, recurs throughout.
Grace's mother secretly owned a house on isolated property near the sea in Madras. This is where she hoped one day to retire with her oldest daughter, Lucia, who was born with Down syndrome and was moved to a residential facility as an infant. Her mother left no information behind, and Grace can barely process this news. She says, "My grief is filled with anger because she has overwritten every memory with a kind of deception." Grace believes that bringing Lucia to the Madras house, and living together as sisters and adults, will be a way for her to throw off the apathy that so far has marked her life. She looks forward to "the hush of the sea. It's the most peaceful sound in the world. Womb noise."
Grace, unsurprisingly, is unprepared for the reality of living with Lucia in a remote, sometimes dangerous area, with only a housekeeper for assistance. The challenge of living with and caring for a woman with special needs taxes Grace, who hasn't always taken good care of just herself. Somehow, Grace believed that she could re-create the sibling bond she acutely missed. But, she realizes, "Our childhoods are consigned to a kind of captivity, forced to exist in two compartments separate from one another." And although Grace's sense of loss has lifted, "other heavy things have come to settle" on her mind. She's constantly reminded, for example, that danger from bandits is a reality for women living alone, and land-hungry businessmen are interested in her property. As she faces her dubious plans and inadequacies, her patience with Lucia snaps, and the resulting violent action undermines her struggles to be worthy of Lucia and the independent life she imagines. Grace finally realizes, "I do not need the freedom I imagine I need." This willingness to ground herself for the first time allows her to merge "the life we desire and the life we were born to."
Doshi is from Chennai, formerly known as Madras, and is a poet and dancer as well as novelist, garnering awards in both dance and writing. This novel, perfect for fans of Lauren Groff and Kate Atkinson, is awash in poetic language, sensory-rich scenes and fully formed characters. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.
Shelf Talker: When a woman returns to India after her mother's death, she discovers a sister she never knew she had and is forced to change her perceptions about family and sacrifice.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in December

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during December:
1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Macmillan Audio)
5. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Macmillan Audio)
7. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Audio)
9. Circe by Madeline Miller (Hachette Audio)
10. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (HarperAudio)
1. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
2. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (Hachette Audio)
3. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Dear Girls by Ali Wong (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Only Plane in the Sky by Holter Graham and Garrett M. Graff (Simon & Schuster Audio)
7. Know My Name by Chanel Miller (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Calypso by David Sedaris (Hachette Audio)
9. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (HarperAudio)

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