Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 25, 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

'A Blank White Page Can Reflect Who We Are'

"Part of my joy in leaving out a public typewriter is saving all the notes from the thousands of anonymous typists over the years. I keep them in a filing cabinet at home. Every now and then, I grab a huge stack of notes and re-read them. I can't tell who wrote these notes--how old they are, where they were born, what they look like, where they are from, what they believe in. And that's the beauty of it. Because as I re-read the thousands of notes left behind on our public typewriter, I'm always reminded of what binds us together: the overwhelming subject people type about, more than anything else, is love. Wanting love. Missing love. Having love. Needing love.

"I've often said a blank white page can reflect who we are. And I am hopeful, reading all these notes about love, that we aren't so different--not in what we need, what we want, what we miss, what we are."

--Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich., in a Facebook post

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


Lift Bridge Book Shop Seeks Community Support

John and Sarah Bonczyk, co-owners of Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, N.Y., "are making a plea to the community to support local business," WHAM reported. The bookstore recently distributed flyers thanking patrons for their support "and encouraging more shopping at the bookshop." The owners said if business does not pick up they will be forced to close.

"We want to be here. We don’t want to do anything else. We love being here," said John Bonczyk, adding that the store was busier than usual last Sunday, which he credited to word of the flyer spreading on social media.

"Thank you!" Lift Bridge posted on Facebook. "Today was a very busy day at Lift Bridge. To everyone who shared, liked, and commented on social media about our letter, we thank you. To every single customer that came in today to shop and support us, we thank you. This is what we need. If we didn't see you this weekend, we hope to see you in the store soon!"

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

New Owner for The Book Haven in Salida, Colo.

John Cameron, a writer and ski patrol adventurer, has bought The Book Haven in Salida, Colo., from previous owners Jessie and Josh Smith, the Ark Valley Voice reported.

Cameron plans to incorporate more used books into the store's inventory and offer a larger selection of books focused on the Salida area and the outdoors in general. At the same time, he intends to carry more nonbook items such as notebooks, maps and art supplies. And while customers can still buy books from the store's website, Cameron has decided to end the in-store pick-up option.

"I want to be an anchor of authenticity in a world that is so much online and digital," Cameron told the Ark Valley Voice. "Having a place where people can come to browse books and engage in a little bit more of the community of books in literature, print, and magazines."

He also intends to broaden the store's range of events with a weekly Thursday night event that could be anything from a poetry night or writers' group to a storytime session. Longer term goals include a book club and monthly author events.

While Cameron has never been a bookseller before, owning a bookstore is something that he's wanted to do for a long time. Last Thanksgiving, that opportunity finally presented itself when talking with the previous owners. They worked out the details over the next few months, and Cameron's stewardship of the store really began in 2020.

"I have thought about owning a bookstore for a really long time," said Cameron. "It's been an idea that I had for many years."

Third Place Books Hosts Australian Bookseller in Residence

Ellen Cregan

From March 13-20, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Wash., will host Ellen Cregan, a bookseller from Readings in Melbourne, Australia, as part of the Melbourne Booksellers in Residence program.

An initiative of Melbourne City of Literature, the program is sending three more  Melbourne booksellers to bookshops in other Cities of Literature "to observe, to participate and to exchange ideas": The Book Hive in Norwich, England; Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh Scotland; and The Bookcase in Nottingham, England.

Cregan, who handles marketing and events for Readings, will spend most of her residency at the Lake Forest Park location but will also visit Third Place's other stores. In addition to being a bookseller, Cregan is also a writer and editor; her work has appeared in publications such as Kill Your Darlings, the Suburban Review and Feminartsy.

David Ryding, director of Melbourne City of Literature, had the idea for the program after visiting Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa, and wondering how booksellers could create connections and exchange ideas around the world.

Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2008, and was the first City of Literature in Australia. The residency has also been supported by Seattle City of Literature, which was founded in 2013.

Obituary Note: Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson, "one of the finest mathematical minds in the country," who "calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong's history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth," died February 24, the New York Times reported. She was 101. Johnson "became the most celebrated of the small cadre of black women--perhaps three dozen--who at midcentury served as mathematicians for the space agency and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics."

Throughout her more than three decades "in NASA's Flight Research Division--the office from which the American space program sprang--and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name," the Times noted. She "was one of several hundred rigorously educated, supremely capable yet largely unheralded women who, well before the modern feminist movement, worked as NASA mathematicians."

The award-winning 2016 film Hidden Figures, based on Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, chronicled their story. Johnson also wrote about her work and life in Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson.

In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, proclaiming: "Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society's expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity's reach." In 2017, NASA dedicated a building in her honor, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, at its Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

NASA's administrator Jim Bridenstine said Johnson "helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space, even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space."

In the course of researching her book, Shetterly heard Johnson say, repeatedly, "I was just doing my job."


Image of the Day: The Other Mrs. at Page 158 Books

Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, N.C., hosted Mary Kubica in conversation with Carla Buckley to celebrate the launch of Kubica's new thriller, The Other Mrs. (Park Row).

Retailer of the Year: The Silver Unicorn Bookstore

Congratulations to the Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass., which posted yesterday on Facebook: "We are thrilled and humbled to announce that we've been named the 2020 Retailer of the Year by the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce. This is a really big deal for us, and we want to thank MWCOC's awards committee and board of directors for the honor, and congratulate all of our fellow honorees!!!"

Happy 40th Birthday, Revolution Books!

Congratulations to Revolution Books in Berkeley, Calif., which turns 40 this month. The radical bookstore is celebrating its anniversary with a reception this coming Saturday, February 29.

The reception will begin at 6 p.m. Speakers will include Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree; Rafael Jesús González, Berkeley Poet Laureate; Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land; and Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books.

Founded in 1980, Revolution Books follows a mission inspired by the "new communism" of Bob Avakian.

Bookish Dessert of the Day: Keret Cake

Manhattan's Breads Bakery has introduced the Keret Cake. The New York Times reported that the "Proustian moment" that inspired this delicacy was the short story "Crumb Cake" by award-winning Israeli author Etgar Keret: "The cake, a moist, slightly citrusy golden loaf topped with crumbs and bits of dried raspberry, was created by a Breads baker, with input from the writer." Each cake comes wrapped in a copy of the story.

Breads owner Gadi Peleg was inspired by the story, which was published in Keret's 2018 collection Fly Already, and the author jumped on the idea, the Forward wrote.

Peleg recalled that Keret had stopped into Breads' Union Square flagship during a book tour last fall to taste cake samples and choose flavors that would characterize the final product. The Keret Cake will be sold at Breads' Union Square and Lincoln Center locations.

"As a guy who thinks that stories should be out there on napkins, curtains and matchboxes, I was really happy to write a story which will wrap the Keret cake in Breads Bakery in New York," Keret noted. "The cake looks real awesome but I'm afraid I'll have to wait until my May visit to NYC to actually taste it."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Steven Levy on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Steven Levy, author of Facebook: The Inside Story (Blue Rider Press, $30, 9780735213159).


CBS This Morning: Suze Orman, author of The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime (Hay House, $26.99, 9781401959920).

Daily Show: Kiley Reid, author of Such a Fun Age (Putnam, $26, 9780525541905).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Charlotte Alter, author of The Ones We've Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America (Viking, $27, 9780525561507).

Movies: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Greenwich Entertainment has acquired the U.S. rights to When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, based on Judith Kerr's "semi-biographical children's book about how her Jewish family escaped from the Nazis and emigrated to England in the 1930s," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Oscar-winning director Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa) adapted the film, which stars Carla Juri (Blade Runner 2049), Oliver Masucci (Never Look Away) and Riva Krymalowski. It has been a sleeper hit in Germany, where it has grossed nearly $6 million.

"Our heroine feels the effects of tyranny, anti-semitism, displacement and being a refugee and despite these real dangers, somehow manages to keep her innocence and sense of adventure through it all," said Edward Arentz, co-managing director of Greenwich. "Caroline Link has created a new classic film of 20th century childhood in extremis."

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Diamond Dagger

Martin Edwards has won the 2020 CWA Diamond Dagger, which is sponsored by the Crime Writers' Association and recognizes "authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre." He will be honored in October at the Dagger Awards ceremony in London.

In addition to his career as a prolific novelist, Edwards is an editor, reviewer, columnist and writer of nonfiction, as well as a leading authority on crime fiction. He also has a separate career as a solicitor and is recognized for his expertise in employment and equal opportunities law.

Andrew Taylor, chair of the Diamond Dagger sub-committee, said: "Given the range and quality of his work, together with his enormous contribution to the genre as a whole, he is the perfect recipient."

Linda Stratmann, CWA Chair, commented: "Martin Edwards has been honored not only as an award-winning author and editor, but also as a tireless promoter of crime writing. He researches and preserves the history of the genre, and has introduced the modern reader to classics of the past that might otherwise have been forgotten."

Edwards called the Diamond Dagger "special because it's conferred by my fellow authors and because the previous winners are so illustrious. To be part of the warm and welcoming community of crime writers for the past thirty years has been a joy. I fell in love with crime fiction when as a young boy I first discovered Agatha Christie. From then on, my only ambition was to write a detective novel that people might enjoy reading. But I never imagined receiving an accolade like this. I'm truly honored."

Book Review

Review: Recollections of My Nonexistence

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, $26 hardcover, 256p., 9780593083338, March 10, 2020)

There's always been a strong autobiographical current coursing through Rebecca Solnit's politically engaged writing. In Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, however, the prize-winning journalist, critic and activist departs from the piecework of collections like The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness for a more sustained encounter with the events and ideas that have defined her work. In this account--a multifaceted description of identity formation and social commentary--Solnit remains both provocative and eloquent.

Solnit's memoir is rooted in the soil of the 25 years she spent in a small studio apartment in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood. She moved to the predominantly African American area in 1981, at age 19, watching it slowly gentrify in the face of the technology industry's invasion of the region. In that apartment, one in which she says she "was a hermit crab who had crawled into a particularly glamorous shelter, until, as hermit crabs do, I outgrew it," Solnit describes establishing herself as a writer and forging her identity as a woman and a feminist.

It's to that latter subject that Solnit devotes much of her attention. She begins with her writing desk, the gift of a female friend who survived a knife attack. Solnit then expounds on the subject of violence against women, and even the less mortally dangerous ways she experienced altercations that "were about men asserting their sovereignty over me, asserting I was a subject nation," as she indulged her passion for walking the streets of San Francisco. The book's title is based, in part, on her persistent, but sadly necessary attempts at self-erasure as a means of avoiding these and other confrontations.

But Solnit emerges confident and strong in describing how she came to write the essay "Men Explain Things to Me"--the piece that gave birth to the term "mansplaining," which found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014. In telling that story, the ardent feminist explains how "the mild disparagement of having your subject of expertise explained to you by a fool," is on a spectrum, "and that the other end of the spectrum is full of violent death."

Conversant with subjects as diverse as art of the Beat period, nuclear testing or the landscape of the American West, Solnit's expertise is broad and impressive. A writer who's "fond of sentences less like superhighways than winding paths, with the occasional scenic detour or pause to take in the view," she's as capable of writing lyrically about "watching the fog cascade over itself like gargantuan, phantasmagorical tumbleweeds" as she is modest in describing how she's "grabbing handfuls of flotsam from a turbulent river; you can arrange the detritus but you can't write the whole river."

Rebecca Solnit's work suggests what Joan Didion might have produced if she had been, in addition to a compelling writer, a passionate political activist. Whether one agrees or disagrees with her, it's always rewarding to engage with her fertile, thoughtful mind. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In a stirring memoir, Rebecca Solnit unearths key elements of her personal and professional origin story.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Bedroom Experiment by Kendall Ryan
2. Fries Before Guys by Lani Lynn Vale
3. Critical Doubt (Off the Grid: FBI Series Book 7) by Barbara Freethy
4. The Scribe Method by Tucker Max and Zach Obront
5. Iron Master (Shifters Unbound Book 12) by Jennifer Ashley
6. Mission: Guardian Angel by Laurann Dohner
7. Inappropriate by Vi Keeland
8. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
9. The Winter Companion (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 4) by Mimi Matthews
10. Keepers of the Lost Ark (James Acton Thrillers Book 24) by J. Robert Kennedy

[Many thanks to!]

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