Also published on this date: Wednesday, February 19, 2020: Kids' Maximum Shelf: A Wish in the Dark

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

Forge: Mr Katō Plays Family by Milena Michiko Flašar, translated by Caroline Froh

Ballantine Books: The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Island Press: The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature's Hidden Rules by Tim Blackburn

Berkley Books: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Books: The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Quotation of the Day

Julia Fleischaker on Bookseller Reading

"12 P.M. In the Weeds. Meet with a publisher's sales rep to go over my order for the upcoming season. I heard a bookstore owner joke once that opening a bookstore means you stop reading books and start reading catalogs. That's not entirely, or even remotely, wrong."

--Julia Fleischaker, owner of Greedy Reads, with two stores in Baltimore, Md., in a Baltimore magazine article "All in a Day with Julia Fleischaker"

William Morrow & Company: Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs


Sarah Crichton Named Editor-in-Chief, V-P at Holt

Sarah Crichton

Sarah Crichton has been named editor-in-chief and v-p at Henry Holt, effective April 6. In announcing the appointment, Holt president & publisher Amy Einhorn wrote: "I have admired Sarah from afar for many years so I am truly overjoyed to finally have the chance to work with her. Her keen intellect is evident in everything she does. Gifted in both fiction and nonfiction, she is a natural leader, and, most importantly, a passionate advocate for her authors."

During her 25 years in book publishing, Crichton "has cultivated the kind of eclectic list all publishers dream of," Einhorn added. As the publisher of Sarah Crichton Books, her list included Ishmael Beah's bestselling A Long Way Gone; Matthew Quick's The Silver Linings Playbook; Cathleen Schine's The Grammarians; Pulitzer Prize winner David Finkel's The Good Soldiers and Thank You for Your Service; Jason Goodwin's Edgar-winning mystery series The Janissary Tree; and Angie Kim's hit debut Miracle Creek.

Prior to having her own imprint at FSG, Crichton was the publisher of Little, Brown, where she published Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and George Stephanopoulos's All Too Human. She has co-written several books, including A Mighty Heart with Mariane Pearl. She is the daughter of Judy Crichton, author of America 1900: The Turning Point (1998), and of Robert Crichton, author of The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1966) and The Camerons (1972).

William Morrow & Company: A Death in Denmark: The First Gabriel Præst Novel by Amulya Malladi

Tattered Cover's Matt Miller to Retire After 42 Years

Matt Miller

Matt Miller, chief operating officer of Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., where he began work in 1978, is retiring on June 30. Katie Rothery, Tattered Cover general manager, who has been with the store for 16 years, will assume many of his responsibilities.

"Matt has been a stalwart member of the Tattered Cover family for most of the history of the store and is directly responsible for much of our success," said Tattered Cover co-owner and CEO Len Vlahos. "His keen strategic insights and his ability to build consensus and stay calm in the face of crisis will be sorely missed."

Joyce Meskis, longtime former owner of Tattered Cover, added, "In his more than 40 years with Tattered Cover, Matt Miller has been a treasure. From helping us move and open new stores, with all the complexity that entails; to giving tours to endless groups of school children and then later training some of those same children to work in the store; to his unwavering dedication and commitment to the First Amendment, making sure our customers and neighbors have unfettered access to the books they want, Matt has done it all. Matt is dearly loved and much appreciated by fellow staff. He will be missed."

Miller worked in several positions at Tattered Cover as it grew from a small general bookstore, when he started 42 years ago, to a large store with four locations. He has also been active in the wider bookselling world: he's a former board member and former president of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association; served six years on the board of the American Booksellers Association; and was on the board of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression from 2002 to 2011.

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in South Florida and the Cayman Islands and ABA president during Miller's time on the board, added, "There's no nicer, smarter, more generous bookseller anywhere than Matt Miller. I've watched him up close and personal, both on the ABA board, where we served, and off, and I've learned so much from him over the years. I thank him for his friendship and all his many contributions to independent bookselling."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 02.06.23

Barbara's Bookstore Changes Village Center Location

The Barbara's Bookstore shop in Burr Ridge, Ill., hosted a grand re-opening last Saturday to celebrate changing spaces within the Village Center, moving from 810 Village Center Drive to its new address at 770 Village Center Drive. The Chicago Tribune reported that store manager Dan Gibas said the move made sense because prior to the opening in 2010, the old location had been a women's fashion store and the space included--and still has--dressing rooms and a large backroom storage area, which weren't being used.

"There are multiple reasons for the move, but mainly the space we're in now is more appropriately sized for our independent bookstore," Gibas noted. "There were a couple of areas in the old store where there was too much open space." The new location, by contrast, is "brighter and the we had a designer on staff who came up with the color pallete.... It definitely feels more like an independent bookstore. It's very quaint and homey. And we love the hardwood floors here too."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

New England Mobile Book Fair Looking for New Home

In the face of high rents and slumping sales, the New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, Mass., is once again looking at an uncertain future as it searches for a new location, reported.

Tom Lyons, owner of the 65-year-old bookstore, bought the bookstore from its original owner in 2011, when the store still resided in a warehouse and was the largest independent bookstore in New England. In 2017, he had to downsize, and found a temporary location that he could stay in while the property was slated to be redeveloped. Now, with construction looming, he's on the hunt once more. "We are looking for a place to go that has a lot of traffic," Lyons said. "And affordable rent."

Lyons told that he's looking at spaces in Newton and  surrounding communities, and added that he has his eye on a spot in Davis Square in Cambridge. Should he find a likely place and amenable landlord, he plans to start a GoFundMe campaign to help rebuild the store's inventory.

When the bookstore had to move in 2017, he had to let go 32 employees, and now has only four. Around the same time, he changed the store's business model to include more author events and established deals with several nearby school districts. All told, that has allowed him to cut his debt in half, but it's still not enough.

"My mind spins constantly on: How do I make this work?" Lyons said. "We may be here, or maybe after 65 years it goes away."

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Obituary Note: Charles Portis

Charles Portis, author of True Grit and "a short list of other novels that drew a cult following and accolades as the work of possibly the nation's best unknown writer," died February 17, the New York Times reported. He was 86. Portis was a reporter at the New York Herald Tribune in 1964, when he decided to turn to fiction full time, a decision that "astonished his friends and colleagues at the paper, among them Jimmy Breslin, Tom Wolfe and Nora Ephron.... But he said he was heading home; he was going to move into an Arkansas fishing shack and write novels."

Within two years Portis had published his first novel, Norwood, which set the pattern for his "use of misfits, cranks and sly humor in his fiction," the Times wrote. Two years later, True Grit was released, spent 22 weeks on the Times bestseller list, sold millions of copies and was turned into a movie twice--in 1969, with John Wayne in the Rooster Cogburn role (for which he received an Academy Award), and in 2010, starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Between 1979 and 1991, Portis published three more novels, The Dog of the South (1979), Masters of Atlantis (1985) and Gringos (1991). All were reissued in paperback in 1999 and 2000 by the Overlook Press after Esquire magazine ran an article by Ron Rosenbaum proclaiming Portis America's "least-known great writer."

Jay Jennings, an Arkansas writer and friend, compiled a collection of Portis's work, Escape Velocity (2012), that included excerpts from his newspaper reporting on civil rights during the early 1960s, as well as a short memoir, Combinations of Jacksons, and a three-act play, Delray's New Moon.

The Times noted that Portis "shrank from the attention his more celebrated novels attracted. He steadfastly refused to be interviewed, although he made himself available to talk about his life for this obituary. When drawn into public gatherings, he dodged photographers. But he didn't like to be called a recluse or compared to the likes of J.D. Salinger. He pointed out that his name was in the Little Rock phone book."

Veteran Arkansas journalist Ernest Dumas, who worked with Portis nearly 60 years ago at the Arkansas Gazette, told Arkansas Business: "He had an almost Jonestown-like following." Dumas added that fans should know that to read Portis's books is to experience something very close to spending time with the author. "He was an amused observer of the eccentricities of ordinary people, like each of us. He turned it into an art form."

Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano


Image of the Day: YA Authors at Indigo in Ontario

Indigo Books in Barrie, Ontario, hosted YA authors (r.) Joanna Hathaway (Storm from the East, Tor Teen) and Nicki Pau Preto (Heart of Flames, Simon Pulse).

Great Group Reads Sought

The organizers of National Reading Group Month, sponsored by the Women's National Book Association, have called for publishers to submit titles for inclusion in the 2020 Great Group Reads program. The program, in its 12th year, provides book clubs, reading groups, libraries and bookstores with a valuable resource for book selections and recommendations.

The selection committee is looking for literary fiction and memoirs published in the U.S. between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, with a bent toward titles from independent presses and midlist releases from larger houses that may have gone overlooked. Books should be catalysts for "lively conversations about an array of timely and provocative topics, from the intimate dynamics of family and personal to major cultural and global issues." The committee's reading period will run from February to July. Final selections will be made in late July, with a formal announcement in September.

Titles should be submitted via e-mail to Great Group Reads selection committee manager Kristen Knox by April 17, and submissions are limited to two per publisher or imprint.

Bookstore Wedding Pics: Weller Book Works

"Just beautiful. We're honored to be part of such a special moment!" Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, Utah, noted in highlighting a Facebook post by Belle Bodas and Events: "Happy Valentine's Day to all of our lovers out there! For everyone that's been dying to see this shoot, be sure to watch our stories today to see more! PS These two beautiful babes met in a library, hence why we chose to do this photoshoot in this cool book store in downtown SLC!"

Cool Idea of the Day: Writers Advice Booth

Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala., has teamed up with author Sonny Brewer (The Poet of Tolstoy Park) for an in-store initiative. Page and Palette noted that Brewer "and his pal, Bobby, are often seen around town and Bobby has become almost as popular as Sonny. Sonny has recently opened a Writers Advice Booth in which he offers advice to beginning or advanced writers for a nickel. He is available every Wednesday from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. and follows Page and Palette's already very successful general advice booth open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He gives really good advice as he has been an editor in the past and knows of which he speaks."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Enrich on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: David Enrich, author of Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction (Custom House, $29.99, 9780062878816).


Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, authors of A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America (Penguin Press, $30, 9781984877499).

Conan repeat: Jenny Slate, author of Little Weirds (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316485340).

Movies: The Stars at Noon

A24 has purchased the North American rights to The Stars at Noon, based on Denis Johnson's 1986 novel, Variety reported. Directed by Claire Denis, who co-wrote the screenplay with Lea Mysius and Andrew Litvack, the film stars Robert Pattinson and Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). RT Features and Curiosa Films are producing The Stars at Noon.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ripped Bodice Romantic Fiction; SoA Translation

Winners have been announced for the inaugural Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction, which were launched last year by Leah and Bea Koch, co-owners of the Ripped Bodice bookstore in Culver City, Calif., and sponsored by Sony Pictures Television. Chosen by a panel of industry experts, each honoree receives $1,000 plus a $100 donation to the charity of their choice. The winning titles are:

Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole
One Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole
An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole
American Love Story by Adriana Herrera
Trashed by Mia Hopkins
The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker


Literary translators shared £20,000 (about $26,095) in prizes at the Society of Authors' annual Translation Prizes. In a ceremony sponsored by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society at the British Library's Knowledge Centre, eight awards were presented for translations from the Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish and debut translations from any language. See the complete list of winners here.

Reading with... Tola Rotimi Abraham

photo: Carole Cassier

Tola Rotimi Abraham, from Lagos, Nigeria, lives in Iowa City and is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has taught writing at the University of Iowa. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Catapult, the Des Moines Register, the Nigerian Literary Magazine and other places. Black Sunday (Catapult, February 2, 2020) is her first novel.

On your nightstand now:

This is not the easiest question to answer. I'm always reading two or three books at a time. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. Right now, I'm savoring Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. I think this is her least fungible work yet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Definitely Animal Farm by George Orwell. When I was growing up, Nigeria was under a brutal military regime. I remember being so stunned when I read Animal Farm, I could see quite clearly many connections between my country and the farm. I also liked that when adults sometimes said, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," I knew what they were referencing.

Your top five authors:

Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, Tessa Hadley, Helen Oyeyemi, Teju Cole.

Book you've faked reading:

The Great Gatsby. We had to read many classic texts as secondary school students in Nigeria, but I hadn't heard of that book until I got to college, and I still haven't had the time to pick it up. 

Book you're an evangelist for: 

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. There's such a gentle prodding wisdom on every page, the prose is irresistible. I don't know anyone who doesn't like Gilead. I went back to it several times whilst writing Black Sunday, it's the book that opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities of the novel as a form.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My favorite book cover is the U.K. cover of Kelly Link's Get in Trouble. I am very drawn to solid shapes and forms, so the upside-down house is a visual delight. I don't actually own a copy because it's the U.K. version, of course.

Book you hid from your parents: 

Everything that wasn't the Bible. My parents did not tolerate idling. Or being worldly. So, I hid the Ebony magazines, John Grisham, James Hadley Chase.

Book that changed your life: 

Without a doubt, Beloved by Toni Morrison. It's the Black writers' Bible in a way, the seminal book on Black interiority. 

Favorite line from a book: 

I'm such a lover of sentences so I have favorites lines in all my favorite books. The best novel opening lines I think are the first sentences in Ben Okri's The Famished Road:

"In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry." 

You think it will be this origin story filled with allusions to the Bible but Okri pleasantly disappoints.

Five books you'll never part with: 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott--it's cliché to call it a classic but it is, and I read it regularly for its luminous simplicity. Niagara Falls All Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken and Little Boys Come from Stars by Emmanuel Dongala. Also, definitely include Beloved by Toni Morrison and Robinson's Gilead.

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

I have a deep admiration for everything Edwidge Danticat writes. Claire of the Sea Light is that book for me. The sea, the town, the townspeople, the mysteries, the food all living breathing characters on the page. It is such a splendid book.

Book Review

Children's Review: We Are Water Protectors

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-6, 9781250203557, March 17, 2020)

Flowing words by Carole Lindstrom and lush art by Michaela Goade appear in immaculate synchronicity on every page of We Are Water Protectors. A young girl, instructed by her wise Nokomis--grandmother--acts as the story's guide, creating a beckoning entry for even young children to become conscious of the plight of Mother Earth.

"Water is the first medicine," the girl repeats Nokomis's lesson, "It nourished us inside our mother's body. As it nourishes us here on Mother Earth." Despite humanity's irrefutable dependence on water, the man-made perils of the modern world are an expanding global threat. "My people talk of a black snake that will destroy the land," the girl cautions. What was thought to have been something far away, something that might have transpired in a distant future, is undeniably happening now: "the black snake is here" wreaking poisonous destruction. "TAKE COURAGE!" the girl demands, gathering her people: "We stand/ With our songs/ And our drums./ We are still here" becomes her rallying cry as she promises to "fight for those/ Who cannot fight for themselves." As united stewards of Mother Earth, "We are water protectors," she claims. "WE STAND."

Like their brave young protagonist, Lindstrom (Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle) and Goade (Encounter), too, are Indigenous water protectors: Lindstrom is Anishinaabe/Métis and tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe; Goade identifies as Tlingit and is enrolled with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Both their ancestral identities are intimately woven into their affecting collaboration, with Ojibwe, Tlingit and Lakota words imbedded in the text and a glossary at book's end. Goade further incorporates Lindstrom's Ojibwe culture into her stupendous illustrations by including Anishinaabe/Ojibwe clan symbols and floral designs throughout. Every double-page spread is a richly hued, intricately detailed visual feast. Goade artfully, ominously hints at what Lindstrom's black snake represents, manifesting the environmental threats by turning living beings into partial skeletons. For humans, she emphasizes "We are all related" with a showcase diversity of ages, genders, distinctive physical characteristics, clothing and accessories.

"Humans have been mistreating Mother Earth for millennia, and Indigenous Peoples have long acted as stewards of the planet, giving a voice to our silent home," Lindstrom writes in her afterword. "This is not just a Native American issue," she reminds, "this is a humanitarian issue." Author and artist press for action with a thoughtful final-page pledge waiting to be signed and dated: "I will do my best to honor Mother Earth and all its living beings, including the water and land." This urges early awareness, inviting even the youngest readers--from all backgrounds--to be stewards of our shared planet. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: To combat growing threats against Mother Earth, Indigenous creators Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade inspire young readers to become the newest generation of water protectors.

AuthorBuzz: Berkley Books: Lemon Curd Killer (Tea Shop Mystery #25) by Laura Childs
AuthorBuzz: Nonlinear Publishing LLC: Moral Code by Lois and Ross Melbourne
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