Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 13, 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


Paragraphs Bookstore in Texas Is Closing

Paragraphs bookstore in South Padre Island, Tex., will close February 29 as co-owners Joni Montover and Griff Mangan have decided to retire. The Monitor reported that for "the past decade, this full-service independent bookstore has been a hub for visitors in search for a variety of new and used books."

"Business has been wonderful. We're still busy every day and we enjoy it," Mangan said. "It's just that we're getting older and it's time that we get to enjoy what we have to offer here and things like that so we're happy."

Calling it a bittersweet decision they have contemplated for a while, Montover said in a Facebook post that running Paragraphs had been both rewarding and absorbing: "It has given us a great deal of satisfaction and I am very proud of the contribution we have made to the community. But after much thought, we have decided it is time to retire and go fishing, travel together, enjoy the beach and just figure out what comes next."

"We're known world-wide and have made some very good friends that enjoy themselves when they're here," Mangan told the Monitor. "That was how Joni designed the store, so people can come in and be comfortable.... Being part of the community was important to us and I think we've done a pretty good job of that without hurting myself by patting myself on the back, but we've always been supportive. We feel sort of responsible being a community member."

They will keep the building. Paragraphs "was built to have the bookstore and a patio that connects the business with Joni and Griff's house," the Monitor noted.

"The books are all paid for so they're going to just stay here and they'll be part of my library so it does give us a little bit of an option," Mangan said. "Maybe come fall or something like that if we want to open a little bit at a time or something we would have some stock.... Right now, the best thing is to stop, enjoy ourselves and get organized. Then, four or five months down the road, if we want to do it again or differently, but we'll go ahead and see."

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

Rochester, N.Y., Black Bookstore Closing--and Reopening

Mood Makers, the African-American bookstore in Rochester, N.Y., owned by Curtis and Marie Rivers, closed on Friday, but a new bookstore with the same focus will open in the same spot in July, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The new store will be owned by Ronnie White and be called Don't Believe the Hype, after the song by Public Enemy. White's father, Tony King, worked as chief of security for Public Enemy in the 1980s.

Don't Believe the Hype will offer books and gifts, host events with a cultural focus, and generally emphasize literary art for under-served populations, according to the newspaper.

Founded 27 years ago, Mood Makers Books became a literary hub for Rochester's African-American community by hosting book signings, book clubs, writing groups and poetry readings. The Rivers plan to continue working in the arts, particularly for the Sankofa Festival.

"It has been a joy sharing African-American culture and history as well as an honor partnering and serving with the Rochester community on many valuable projects, workshops and events," Mood Makers posted on Facebook. "Thank you, Rochester, for all of your support over the years."

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

Proposed San Dimas, Calif., Development Includes a New Vroman's

Pioneer Square, a proposed retail, housing and hotel development in San Dimas, Calif., would include a branch of Vroman's, whose main store is in Pasadena, about 20 miles west, according to the Daily Bulletin. Vroman's would be an anchor in the center of the development because, as Michael Dieden, president of developer Creative Housing Associates, said, "We wanted to add intellectual and cultural vitality to the mix."

Pioneer Square would be next to Pioneer Park and near the future Gold Line Metro stop and include a boutique hotel, apartments, restaurants, and a "high quality organic grocery store."

Last month the city council approved the developer for a design that "draws on European influences with paseos and courtyards throughout, as well as pop jet fountains in one area," the newspaper wrote. Dieden added, "Our vision was to create a western gateway to the city's downtown." Creative Housing Associates specializes in "transit-integrated neighborhoods."

Dieden said that if plans are approved, most of the year will be spent on planning; construction wouldn't begin for "about 18-24 months."

De Reza to Head PRH DCs in Indiana and Nevada

Lori de Reza

Lori de Reza, v-p of operations for Penguin Random House's distribution center in Crawfordsville, Ind., is adding responsibility for the day-to-day running of PRH's new distribution center in Reno, Nev., and is being promoted to senior v-p, Crawfordsville and Reno operations.

She began her career with the company at the Bantam Doubleday Dell Distribution Operation in Des Plaines, Ill., as a temporary warehouse employee, in 1992. She quickly was promoted but didn't relocate to Westminster, Md., in 1998, when operations were consolidated and instead joined the Golden Books Operations Center in Crawfordsville. When Random House bought Golden and decided to make it the children's book distribution center and returns operation, de Reza rejoined the company and led the doubling of the facility's size and quadrupling of its work force.

In announcing the promotion, Annette Danek, executive v-p, supply chain, at Penguin Random House, commented: "From a temp employee hired almost two decades ago on Christmas Eve to help us ship booksellers their year-end orders, to now overseeing some 1,000 employees across two facilities, Lori, with her great skill set and work ethic, and her natural gift for people-management, is one of the great Penguin Random House success stories."

Danek added that de Reza "has been a crucial contributor to the PRH U.S. Diversity and Inclusion Council, representing the interests of the operations centers. Lori's voice and sensitivity have been vital to the design of programs we have introduced throughout our organization. She is a trained facilitator on 'Uncovering Bias,' and helped develop the video content for the population outside of New York. Lori's input further extends to global supply-chain topics through her participation in major teamwork in Spain for PRH."

Obituary Note: Baba Ram Dass


Baba Ram Dass

Baba Ram Dass, "who epitomized the 1960s of legend by popularizing psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary, a fellow Harvard academic, before finding spiritual inspiration in India," died December 22, the New York Times reported. He was 88. Born Richard Alpert, he went to India in 1967 and returned "as a bushy-bearded, barefoot, white-robed guru, Ram Dass," who "became a peripatetic lecturer on New Age possibilities and a popular author of more than a dozen inspirational books."

His first title, Be Here Now (1971), was originally issued by the Lama Foundation as loose pages in a box, but its published version went on to sell more than two million copies "and established him as an exuberant exponent of finding salvation through helping others," the Times noted. 

By the 1980s, Ram Dass had shaved off his beard but left a neatly trimmed mustache. The Times wrote that he "tried to drop his Indian name--he no longer wanted to be a cult figure--but his publisher vetoed the idea.... He continued to turn out books and recordings, however. He started or helped start foundations to promote his charities, to help prisoners and to spread his message of spiritual equanimity. He made sure his books and tapes were reasonably priced."

His other books include Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying (2000); Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita (2004); Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart (2010) and Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart (2013), both with Rameshwar Das; Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service (1991) and Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying (2018), both with Mirabai Bush.

"As Ram Dass, Alpert spread the word that turning inward was far more powerful than just turning on," the Los Angeles Times wrote. "A nimble communicator who was articulate, funny and self-effacing, he became a central figure in the movement to make Eastern mysticism understandable to Western minds."

"He was the voice for applied spirituality--his life was the model," self-help author Wayne Dyer once said.


Image of the Day: Yuyi Morales

Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator Yuyi Morales (Dreamers/Sonadore) was a speaker at the annual EBMA (Educational Book and Media Association) conference in Puerto Rico last week and made a visit to Saint John's School in San Juan.

Bookseller Bob Lingle's Word of the Year: 'Empathy'

In a conversation with the Post-Journal near the second anniversary of his purchase of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Lakewood, N.Y., Bob Lingle noted that he has chosen a word of the year for 2020: empathy. "It is his desire that both he and his store, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, will foster empathy in the coming year," the paper wrote.

Lingle said that an important source for his business plan was the work of Ryan Raffaelli, an assistant professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School, who will be speaking next week at Winter Institute 2020 in Baltimore, Md. He particularly likes Raffaelli's "3 C" reasons for the resurgence of independent bookselling: community, curation and convening.

In his first year of ownership, Lingle met his goal of reducing costs, and in the second year, he increased sales 25%.

Before buying Off the Beaten Path, Lingle had some bookselling experience, including a stint at Barnes & Noble and then at two college bookstores--as a course materials manager at Canisius College and manager of the Medaille College bookstore.

For those hungry to learn more about Lingle, the profile includes six recipes, including pepparkakor slices, date bites, pepperoni bread, vegetable garbage bread, Greek quinoa salad and poucha.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Zucchino on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: David Zucchino, author of Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy (Atlantic Monthly Press, $28, 9780802128386).

Watch What Happens Live: Suzanne Somers, author of A New Way to Age: The Most Cutting-Edge Advances in Antiaging (Gallery, $28, 9781982110949).

Today Show: Colin O'Brady, author of The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice--Crossing Antarctica Alone (Scribner, $28, 9781982133115).

Daily Show: Rick Wilson, author of Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump--and Democrats from Themselves (Crown Forum, $28, 9780593137581).

Movies: The Mad Women's Ball

Melanie Laurent, the French actor (Inglourious Basterds) and filmmaker (Galveston), will write and direct The Mad Women's Ball, a period thriller based on the novel by Victoria Mas, Variety reported. Alain Goldman's Legende Films is producing, with Laurent writing the adaptation.

"It will be a powerful, cinematic and engaging thriller about the injustice that these women faced during that time," said Goldman, adding that audiences will be "rooting for this strong character who sets herself free."

Laurent is the ideal filmmaker to turn the book into a character-driven and visually strong movie, Goldman told Variety.

Books & Authors

Awards: NBCC Finalists

The National Book Critics Circle has named 30 finalists in six categories--autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry--for the outstanding books of 2019. The awards will be presented on March 12 in New York.

Also, NBCC announced that Naomi Shahib Nye will be honored with the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement; Sarah M. Broom won the John Leonard Prize for Best First Book for The Yellow House: A Memoir (Grove); and Katy Waldman is receiving the 2019 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson on Parenting: How to Show Up Predictably (Not Perfectly)

Together, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., have co-authored three other parenting books: The Whole-Brain Child; No-Drama Discipline; and The Yes Brain. With their latest book, The Power of Showing Up (Ballantine Books, $27), they combine scientific research with no-nonsense guidance to reassure readers that "There's no such thing as flawless child-rearing" and that ideal parenting--creating secure attachment relationships--can be as simple as applying the "Four S's": making a child feel Safe, Seen, Soothed and Secure.

How does The Power of Showing Up vary from your previous titles, and what makes it such a good introduction to the other three?

Daniel J. Siegel: The reason we wrote this new book was to offer parents a solid foundation in the art and science of attachment--the ways in which research across cultures reveals the foundations of a parent-child relationship that leads to a child flourishing. It's a fun and grounding book that can serve as the framework for our other works as well.

Tina Payne Bryson: The first three books emphasize many powerful and effective ways caregivers can provide experiences and opportunities, things we can do or teach, to build kids' brains and minds, allowing them to thrive. The Power of Showing Up is also about experiences that build their brains and minds, allowing them to thrive, but it's focused on relational experiences--how we can be as parents, on the quality of our presence, and our relationship with them. It focuses on the one thing our kids need most from us--that we show up--and this book walks with parents to explore how to do that.

Dr. Daniel Siegel
(photo: James Reese)

As the mother of a young toddler, I can certainly speak to the never-ending list of concerns about raising children the "right" way. What is it about the experience of parenting and how we care for our children that makes it such a universally recognizable and sympathetic one?

Siegel: Attachment is how our young become shaped by what we do as parents. Because of this innate human legacy, the universal experiences of parenting involve deeply embedded neural circuits of connection which in turn make it possible to deeply see our kids, have them feel soothed, keep them safe and build the security they need. There is no such thing as "perfect parenting" and so what we try to offer are science-based strategies that are both practical and reflective of the reality that no one ever "gets it right all the time" and that repair is possible so long as we are aware and intentional about it. In fact, it is this kindness toward ourselves that can mobilize our capacity to make a repair more readily. These mismatch-repair-realignment sequences are not only inevitable, but they are what builds resilience in our kids and in our selves.

Tina Payne Bryson
(photo: Darrell Walters)

Bryson: As a mom to three, and as a therapist who has listened to many parents, I agree that, at least in our culture, there's a fairly universal experience of fearing we're "not enough" or that we're messing them up, and then that's compounded by the fear and anxiety that come with trying to do it "right." Simply, I think we feel these things because we care so darn much and we want to do right by our children. We know our parents failed us in certain ways, and we want desperately to be the best parents we can be.

One of the reasons I love attachment science is that the research indicates that there is quite a bit of room for parents to be flawed and that we can make a lot of mistakes, but as long as we help our kids feel safe, seen and soothed most of the time, their brains wire to securely know that if they have a need we will see it and show up for them. And when we do that predictably (not perfectly), they learn how to find friends and mates who will show up for them (they come to expect it!), and they learn how to show up for themselves.

Parenting styles and popular methods seem to change with each generation, and many parents worry about too much sensitivity resulting in kids who are "soft" or spoiled. How do you respond to caregivers who worry about spoiling their children or giving them unreasonable expectations of the world?

Siegel: Attuning to our kids involves being able to sense their inner life and respond with compassion and care. The research is quite clear, however, that such attuned connections--coupled with repair of ruptures--builds resilience, not weakness as some may be understandably concerned it might. What we can say to parents is that when a child is seen, safe, soothed and secure, they know themselves well--they don't expect the whole world will be that way for them. This inner knowing, then, has built the capacity to have mutually rewarding relationships, the emotional awareness and equilibrium to take on challenges, have the patience and persistence to move through them and to have a "growth mindset" knowing that the effort they put into something can determine the outcome of their pursuits. That's the stuff of strength, not weakness or being spoiled.

Bryson: The two most heavily researched topics in the childrearing literature are 1) limits/boundaries (also referred to as demand/control) and 2) emotional responsiveness (also referred to as warmth/nurture). Many parents don't know that parenting in sensitive, emotionally responsive, warm and nurturing ways can and should go hand in hand with setting clear, predictable limits and boundaries. We can tune into our child's internal experience and communicate connection and empathy while holding a limit or boundary.

The bottom line is that if you want to raise a kid who is hearty and tough, you should soothe them any chance you get. When you do that, it gives their brain practice going from a reactive state into a regulated state so they can do that for themselves and can handle the hard things that life will inevitably bring. The research doesn't show that kids can get spoiled or become fragile from too much attention or love or affection or nurturing. The research shows that where kids can get "spoiled" is when there are not rules and boundaries that are enforced and they don't get practice respecting limits.

How has technology and the seeming increase in screen time and device usage affected modern-day parenting and relationships?

Siegel: The challenge for all of us is to maintain our face-to-face time of connection and communication. With so many distractions in this digital, mobile age, if we lose these important sources of belonging and understanding in relationships, the art of conversation and the need for self-awareness can become compromised. One big concern is that this impairment in the growth of emotional and social skills will itself produce relational thinness that will make anxiety, depression and despair more prevalent at a changing time in our society when resilience is needed more than ever before.

Bryson: The technology we use can be great and even help us stay connected better if we use it in thoughtful ways. My biggest concern is that we unconsciously reach for [our devices] so often that they pull us away from being present. We are modeling what we value by what we give the most attention to, and my fear is that we're modeling that we value our devices more than our relationships. Our devices can enrich life in certain ways, but I think we can do a much better job of using them as little as possible when we are providing care to children, particularly young ones. One time a stay-at-home mom told me that she worried that she was on her phone too much while she cared for her toddler and asked me, "How much is too much?" I asked her, "If you had a nanny who was caring for your child and he or she was on their device as much as you are, would you feel good about the care your child was receiving?" Her eyes widened and she said, "I'd fire her."

It's important that we are thoughtful about how, when and how much we are on our devices and that we're honest with ourselves regarding how much it interferes with being present with our kids.

You place a significant emphasis on the importance of empathy in child-rearing, both in understanding a child's motivations and in relating one's own experiences to theirs. What are the implications of increased empathy and "showing up," beyond personal relationships, for the next generation as world citizens?

Siegel: The term "empathy" can be defined in many ways. For us, the scientific view of empathy--having at least five interrelated facets--is how we use this term: emotional resonance, perspective-taking, cognitive understanding, empathic joy, and empathic concern. These serve as the gateway in turn for compassion and kindness--compassion being the way we sense suffering, imagine how to reduce that suffering and then take actions to alleviate that suffering. Kindness can be seen as a positive intention to be of benefit to others without expecting anything back in return, a way of being in which we honor and support one another's vulnerabilities. For world citizens, providing an early experience of caregivers who "show up" is the basis for cultivating empathic skills, compassionate states of mind and kindness. Also, moving beyond a solitary sense of self and realizing the importance of the inner self's relational interconnections with other people and with nature--with the planet--may be the crucial shift that the world needs as we move forward as a species.

Bryson: Beautifully said, Dan. I'd just like to add that when we show up empathetically for our children, we are doing something much more than just being nice, more even than regulating their nervous system in the moment to help them calm down. We're stimulating the growth and development of their integrative prefrontal cortex, which allows them, as development unfolds over time, to have greater capacity for problem-solving, insight, empathy, morality, mental and emotional flexibility, creativity, curiosity, decision-making and much more. These qualities of social and emotional intelligence, of wise discernment and of strong executive function to plan and solve are all essential for the world citizens of the next generation. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor

Book Review

Review: The Resisters

The Resisters by Gish Jen (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover, 320p., 9780525657217, February 4, 2020)

On the list of passions that are as American as apple pie, the game of baseball occupies a prominent place. That's what makes its presence at the heart of Gish Jen's clever dystopian novel The Resisters so meaningful, and so disquieting.

In the middle of the 21st century in the country now known as AutoAmerica, Jen (World and Town) vividly imagines a world that's been transformed into the ultimate surveillance state through the pervasive AutoNet (dubbed "Aunt Nettie" by its detractors), a powerful amalgamation of artificial intelligence, automation and the Internet. Teenager Gwen Cannon-Chastanet lives in a 3-D printed AutoHouse (think Alexa on steroids, whose running commentary on daily life never fails to remind users that their "choice is on the record") with her father, Grant (the novel's narrator), once a teacher, and mother, Eleanor, a former immigration lawyer turned activist who bears the scars of a three-year prison sentence for some unspecified subversive activity.

Gwen and her parents are among the benighted segment of AutoAmerica known as Surplus, who subsist on a government-supplied Basic Income and the produce they grow in their backyard. Their role is to consume the output of the technologically useful and economically productive remainder of the population called the Netted. Taking a cue from the country of ChinRussia, the Surplus are implanted with a microchip at birth, so DroneMinders and EnforcerBots are able to police conduct of the kind that landed Eleanor in jail. Some offenders must endure the ultimate penalty of being Cast Off onto the seas of the waterlogged earth.

But it's Gwen's preternatural talent at pitching a baseball--once a banned sport, but now designated an Official National Pastime--that lands her a spot at Net U, an institution otherwise barred to those of her social caste. In the lengthiest of the novel's four sections, relying heavily on messages that pass between Gwen and her parents (some of them transmitted by carrier pigeon in an attempt to evade Aunt Nettie's snooping), the family experiences the tension arising from her new life among the Netted. They ponder whether her exposure to its allure will induce her to Cross Over into that privileged social stratum.

Jen revels in creating a fully realized world that's sufficiently recognizable yet infused with enough alien elements to qualify as frighteningly realistic speculation on a potential future. There, ubiquitous surveillance approaches its apotheosis and climate change doesn't lag far behind. Blending realistic family drama with sly social commentary turbocharged by its author's eerie vision of the future, The Resisters raises a host of provocative questions about what a ruthless combination of omnipresent technology and economic inequality might look like. George Orwell would be proud. And scared. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Along with her family, a young woman with an outsized talent for pitching a baseball struggles for survival in an America where technology drives economic inequality.

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