Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 6, 2020


Harper Perennial: Barely Functional Adult: It'll All Make Sense Eventually by Meichi Ng

Berkley Books: In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce

Candlewick Press (MA): Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Scholastic Press:  The Captive Kingdom (the Ascendance Series, Book 4) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Big Picture Press: Maps: Deluxe Edition by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska

Candlewick Press: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Quotation of the Day

'Bookstores Are Essential Because Books Are Essential'

"Why should it be easier to buy marijuana than a good book at a store in Los Angeles during the coronavirus shutdown?... Books are essential goods and that ought to mean bookstores are exempt from shutting down during the coronavirus pandemic. As are bread and milk, gas and aspirin, alcohol and marijuana, books should be available, with safety precautions in place, at the usual places we buy them in our neighborhoods.... We readers can help. Until bookshops fully reopen, we can use our discretionary income to order books directly from independent booksellers. We can buy gift cards to help the bottom line too....

"Finally, we can also let our city, county and state leaders know how much we need bookshops and their staffs as the shutdown goes on, and once it's over. Books provide spiritual nourishment, education, enlightenment, role models, diversion. As Lori Gottlieb, therapist and author puts it, 'One way to feel understood and part of something bigger, less alone, is to immerse ourselves in stories. They help us see ourselves'.... Bookstores are essential because books are essential."

--Author Wendy Paris in a Los Angeles Times op-ed headlined "If marijuana is essential during the coronavirus shutdown, why not books?"

University of California Press:  Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels by Tony Keddie


News

B&N to Renovate Empty Stores; S&S Adds to Bookstore Aid; Libro.fm's Temporary Jobs

At Barnes & Noble, most of its 627 stores are closed to the public "and it seems likely that the few that remain open may shortly be required also to close," CEO James Daunt wrote in a letter to employees on Friday afternoon. "We will offer BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) via curbside pick-up where this is permitted, as is presently the case for most stores. This service is helping a dramatic increase in sales through BN.com. Notwithstanding this success, our revenues have declined in an unprecedented manner."

As a result, as B&N has closed stores, the company has laid off staff with less than six months of employment and furloughed most of the rest, keeping only "a core of booksellers to service BOPIS." The company has also furloughed more than 260 employees in the home office. Daunt called it "a brutal process and something that we hope will be of the shortest possible duration."

The "small silver lining to this calamity," Daunt continued, is that B&N is using the period to renovate most of its stores, a project "we had otherwise intended to work through over the next 18 months to two years." This includes moving bookcases and furniture and "improving visually our stores with better fixtures." In addition, teams of booksellers are being brought back to "work through all our book categories. We aim, to the best of our abilities, to direct an appropriate allocation of space and the best possible backlist assortment. This is an exercise in bookselling curation that is very long overdue and which we hope will improve dramatically the quality of our bookstores."

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Simon & Schuster, which last week launched a partnership with Bookshop.org to help independent bookstores, has made several additions to the program:

For the rest of the year, S&S is donating any affiliate fees earned through sales at Bookshop.org to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).

S&S is working with Libro.fm to include audiobook download purchases in supporting booksellers.

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Aiming to raise $50,000 for its #ShopBookstoresNow campaign, Libro.fm ended up raising nearly 50% more, for a total of $73,000. At the same time, the company is planning to hire temporarily 10 booksellers laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The jobs, which run from April 13 to May 15 and can be done remotely, include children's and YA expert-in-residence, fiction and general trade expert-in-residence, online content & proofreading and publicity outreach. The company added that booksellers can also pitch a job if they have a skill they think could benefit Libro.fm.

Interested booksellers should apply by 12 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday, April 8. For more information, including the 10 jobs and the application form, click here.


GLOW: Erewhon: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk


International Update: Gardners Reinstates Home Delivery; Hive Reopens

After temporarily closing last week due to the Covid-19 pandemic, U.K. book wholesaler Gardners has reinstated its home delivery service, which will allow bookshops to service remote customer orders from their websites or via telephone, the Bookseller reported. At the same time, Gardners has reopened Hive, its indie-oriented online bookselling site. The wholesaler said it had "managed to set a safe working environment for a team of staff, adhering to guidelines previously set out, and working comfortably within current government guidelines." About 80 of the staff of 800 are working; the rest were furloughed.

Customers are being limited to one book per order, "to preserve the safety guidelines surrounding minimal handling of items" and "orders will be restricted to books currently in stock, but Gardners said it had 400,000 lines in its warehouse, alongside its 2.8 million e-book and audio titles," the Bookseller wrote.

In a statement about Hive, Gardners said, "We are delighted to have Hive up and running. It also means we can get back to generating the commission for independent booksellers once again! We are continuing to offer double commissions on books and even further enhanced commissions for selected publisher orders during the ongoing crisis."

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The Reading Agency confirmed that the U.K.'s World Book Night celebrations, scheduled for April 23, will go to a digital format due to Covid-19. The Bookseller wrote that "authors will broadcast excerpts from their books on social media.... The charity has also organized a reading hour, inviting the public to recommend or share a book with a friend using the hashtag #ReadingHour."

This year's Hay Festival in Wales, which had earlier been canceled, will also hold its first fully online edition throughout May, "bringing writers and readers together in webinars, workshops and live social media Q&As," the Bookseller reported. The full schedule of events will be revealed soon, and interest can be registered on the Hay website.

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In Canada, Toronto's Glad Day Bookshop launched an Emergency Survival Fund to benefit LGBTQ2S+ artists, performers, tip-based workers and the bookstore. Quill & Quire reported that the fund has raised more than C$150,000 [about US$109,185] and received 1,400 applicants, "emboldening the bookshop to press towards a C$250,000 [about US$181,975] goal."

Glad Day co-owner Michael Erickson spoke with Q&Q about the fundraiser's genesis: "The bottom had already dropped out of attendance at events and restaurants and bars. We had a party that we thought would have 200 people at it that ended up with about 30 on Friday (March 13). People didn't know what they were going to do in two days much less the kind of [timeline] that we got later."

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Booksellers in the Czech Republic "are reporting a significant rise in online sales of books and board games, following the closure of mortar-and-brick stores due to the coronavirus outbreak," Radio Prague International reported, noting that booksellers cautioned that the surge in online sales cannot cover the loss in physical book numbers.

Book chain Knihy Dobrovský recorded a 15% year-on-year increase in online sales. Marketing director Adam Pýcha said, "We have seen an interesting trend in that customers who have been shopping for decades only in our brick-and-mortar stores are going online for the first time."

Leading representatives of the bookselling industry have appealed to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for full coverage of losses caused by the restrictive government measures against Covid-19. Radio Prague International noted that they contend "a revival of the market will only be possible months after the measures are lifted, and a resurgence in the book market may only came as late as the Christmas season. That could lead to mass redundancies, but also to the end of many businesses active in the sector."

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According to a recent survey by the Printing and Distribution Bureau "of the national body in charge of publishing, 90.7% of brick-and-mortar bookstores in China have suspended their operations," China Daily reported, adding that "most medium-and small-scale bookstores are facing high rents, property fees and labor costs. Some of them have additional problems such as being overstocked and loan delinquency, the survey found. Up to 44% of the bookstores predicted that their revenue will drop by more than half in the first six months of this year even if they reopen soon. The survey predicted that it will take two to three months for customers to return to bookstores after the epidemic ends."

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Australian bookseller Matilda Bookshop in Stirling, South Australia, posted on Facebook Friday: "Crack booksellers @_mollymollymurn_ and @missyklou are in the shop today and ready to chat. (It's like some kind of book telethon). And after 2 p.m. today, in this brave, confusing, weird new world that's it until Monday (in my mind the bookshop is like the Pancake Kitchen, and should always be open)."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Little Threats by Emily Schultz


How Bookstores Are Coping: Daily Recalibration

The Bookloft's current location is closed.

The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass., was in the process of relocating to a new building this spring, but the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed those plans. Owner Pam Pescosolido told her customers: "As I'm sure you can imagine, it's very strange to go into a bookstore that hasn't had people in it for weeks now. The books are missing their opportunities for customers to read and appreciate or even love them....

"It seems at this point that we will be unable to ever again open at our location at Price Chopper plaza. BUT at the new place, renovations are still on track, and when we are allowed to reopen, we will be there with bells on, staff will be happy to greet you, and the books can't wait to be looked at and taken home. We look forward to showing you around the new Bookloft at 63 State Road sometime in May."

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Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore., "is a busy place these days, the Portland Tribune reported, adding: "No one who works there has been laid off because there's plenty of work to be done." As of April 5, the bookstore is no longer offer curbside pickup for orders placed by phone or online, but is offering two options for book ordering going forward: shipping and complimentary delivery (within approximately a three-mile radius).

"In the past few weeks, we've had to constantly revise our way of conducting business, from managing customer browsing then closing the store, to repositioning work stations in order to maintain safe social distancing. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?" said Michael Keefe, publicist and events coordinator. "Our customers are amazing. We've been blown away by their support, both in terms of the number of books they're ordering from us and the wonderful messages of gratitude and encouragement."

Noting that in mid-March, several staff members elected to shelter in place, including store owner Bobby Tichenor, Keefe said, "Fortunately, we've been able to give more hours to staff members who'd previously been working part-time or fill-in while they attended school or worked other jobs. Typically, we have upwards of 20 people on staff. Right now, we have maybe half that many who are working at the store, a couple of staff members (myself included) who are working from home, and others who are on leave."

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Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., posted on Facebook late last week: "Hurray! We received word yesterday afternoon from our City Manager and members of the City Council that we can continue to be your virtual bookstore until this medical crisis is over.

"As you may or may not know, our governor has wisely placed much of our state on a 'stay-at-home order' effective until at least April 30. When we explained to our city officials that we are not allowing the public in our shop at any time, they gave us the green light to continue our virtual business."

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Jeff Martin, founder of Magic City Books, Tulsa, Okla., informed his customers: "The Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce has now deemed bookstores as 'essential' businesses. Quite simply, this is a mistake. We will remain closed. Online and shipping only. As long as it takes. Stay in. Stay safe. Read more."

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Hacked! Eureka Books, Eureka, Calif., posted an update regarding the store's recent challenges: "Hello friends! We wanted to give you a status report on what is happening with us. On March 16th--in the same week we had to close the store due to the outbreak of Covid-19--Eureka Books suffered a major online hack. All our accounts and our carefully built network had to be shut down to avoid further damage. Now, 20 days later, we are starting to emerge from the rubble. We are rebuilding, catching up, and excited to sell books again (even if we must do it from a distance). Thank you to everyone who has helped us get through this.... Thank you also to our amazing customers who have stood by us....

"We've been down but not out, and we are still shipping books! We would be happy to ship orders to you.... We hope you are staying safe and sane during these challenging times. If we can help you get through it with the magic of a book, please drop us a line."

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John Waite, owner of Auntie's Bookstore and Merlyn's Comics in Spokane, told the Inlander that since Washington Governor Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order was issued last week, sales have been mostly nonexistent. While he is deeply concerned about the lasting impacts the pandemic will have on the local business landscape, he remains optimistic.

Asked how much sales are down compared to this time last year, he replied: "It's not really a matter of being behind. There are no sales. What we're doing for mail order is a nice token effort; we want to make customers happy and give them something to read, but the volume is just, it's going to be minimal.... I hope that people can ride this out and remember us, the local stores, when everything gets back to normal, whenever that is. To help now, buy a book online and have it mailed to your house. Merlyn's and Auntie's will be here when it's done and we'll be in a world that can help us. I think that it will be like that again. I'm not a pessimist."


Peachtree Publishing Company: The Candy Mafia by Lavie Tidhar, illustrated by Daniel Duncan


Turner Publishing Launches Keylight Books

Turner Publishing Company has launched a new imprint, Keylight Books, that will publish 12 titles annually with "character-driven stories and compelling perspectives" that are adaptable for film, TV and streaming. Keylight Books will be headed by Stephanie Beard, executive editor at Turner.

The new imprint's first title, to be published September 15, is All the Acorns on the Forest Floor by Kim Hooper. (Turner has published two novels by Hooper.) Beard said of All the Acorns on the Forest Floor: "Kim's books are some of the best upmarket fiction on the available, and are full of the most relatable and interesting characters that actors yearn to play and written with a deep sense of being and a witty humor that brings her characters to life on the page. When I read Acorns, which is a story full of the heartfelt relationships of a This Is Us combined with the drama and intrigue of a Big Little Lies, I knew that it was bigger than the pages it was printed on."

In preparation for the launch of Keylight Books, Turner said, it expanded its film and TV rights program in 2019, partnering with film and TV packager Carey Nelson Burch, founder of My Own Shingle and formerly of WME. In that time, Turner has concluded 10 film and TV deals with producers, including Engage Entertainment, Echo Lake Entertainment, K&L Productions and Sony Television.

Turner Publishing president and publisher Todd Bottorff said of the new imprint, "We strive to bring to life creative and compelling voices and stories and as Turner's new titles are now competitive with the best books being published today, we strive to find the best opportunities for our books and authors. We see this new imprint as a means to solidify our entry into the world of film and TV."


University of California Press: A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, Volume 3 by Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr, Bruce Rinehart


Obituary Note: Patricia Bosworth

Patricia Bosworth
Patricia Bosworth, the actress, biographer, memoirist and journalist, died April 2 from the coronavirus. She was 86.

The New York Times wrote that while she had "some success as an actress"--learning method acting alongside Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe, appearing in some major roles onstage and with Audrey Hepburn on film--"she always wanted to write, and she found material in the many friendships she had cultivated with luminaries in Hollywood, the theater world and elsewhere--Brando, Montgomery Clift and the photographer Diane Arbus among them." And she was a successful journalist: she wrote for a variety of publications and was a longtime contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Her memoirs included Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story (1997), which "centers on her charismatic father, a lawyer who defended two of the Hollywood Ten in the postwar anti-Communist hysteria and saw his career destroyed by the blacklist," the Times wrote, as well as The Men in My Life: A Memoir of Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan (2017), about her coming-of-age and emergence as a writer.

Her biographies included Montgomery Clift: A Biography (1978), Diane Arbus: A Biography (1984), Marlon Brando (2001), and Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman (2011).

Next year, Farrar, Straus & Giroux is publishing her last book, Protest Song: Paul Robeson, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Equality.


Notes

Indie Booksellers Deliver!

Packing up delivery orders at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Fla.

Many indie booksellers have been sharing photos of their stores, where customers no longer roam but book deliveries still arrive and mail order, curbside and direct delivery services are in full gear. Here's a recent sampling:

Tsunami Books, Eugene, Ore.: "Today's orders....  Whew! Thank you."

Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md.: "A day full of Curious Deliveries! Thank you for your continued support! Stay healthy and keep reading."

Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, Berkeley, Calif.: "Remember that you can still buy books with us online!! This is a tough time as a small business, but your continued support means the world and is keeping us going. All books are now being shipped directly from the warehouse to protect the staff, but we hope you all keep buying books with us. You can also buy gift certificates and Little Library subscriptions (great options for gifts for friends or your future self!)."

The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vt.: "Thanks to Omni Reporter for sharing what we've been up to at the bookshop lately!" Co-owners Kristian Preylowski and Kari Meutsch were pictured loading up some books to deliver to customers on Friday.

Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.: You're really keeping us busy! Thank you so much for your online orders, and for your patience as we try to keep up with you.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jason Fung on Good Morning America

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Jason Fung, co-author of Life in the Fasting Lane: How to Make Intermittent Fasting a Lifestyle--and Reap the Benefits of Weight Loss and Better Health (Harper Wave, $28.99, 9780062969446).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Dr. Jennifer Ashton, author of Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss (Morrow, $24.99, 9780062906038).


TV: Tinseltown

Spectrum Originals is developing Tinseltown, based on the 2014 book Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann, Deadline reported. Co-written by Murphy and Mann, the project comes from Mann, The Son executive producer Kevin Murphy, Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment, Tracy Katsky's KatCo and Paramount Television Studios.

"The show centers on four accomplished women filmmakers who get dragged into the grotesque media circus surrounding a murder," Murphy said. "Their careers are upended and they find themselves pushed out of the burgeoning Hollywood studio system, a system Paramount founder Adolph Zukor has been building by strong-arming independent producers and exhibitors ravaged by the Spanish Flu shutdown."

Deadline noted that if the project goes to series, "it will launch on the heels of a global pandemic, the current coronavirus crisis. That would mirror the setting of Tinseltown, which takes place in the early 1920s, immediately after the Spanish Flu pandemic. There are also other aspects that make Tinseltown timely. Some refer to the events in the book--and its adaptation--as the origin story of the #MeToo movement."

Mann said: "I believe this is a story about women in Hollywood and the resiliency of women in Hollywood. We wonder how we got to where we are today, well, this is the origin story of so much."


Books & Authors

The 2020 Spring Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its 2020 Spring Okra Picks, chosen by the region's indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling:

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books)
Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles (Morrow)
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (Hub City Press)
The Coyotes of Carthage by Steven Wright (Ecco)
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith (Blair)
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Gallery Books)
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney (Poisoned Pen Press)
Lobizona by Romina Garber (Wednesday Books)
Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson (Liveright)
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Philomel Books)
A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos (Harper Paperbacks)
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett (Riverhead Books)
The Unwilling by John Hart (St. Martin's Press)


Book Review

Review: Life for Sale

Life for Sale by Yukio Mishima, trans. by Stephen Dodd (Vintage International, $16.95 paperback, 192p., 9780525565147, April 21, 2020)

Two years after the original 1968 publication in Japan of Life for Sale, which opens immediately with a young man's failed attempt to die, Yukio Mishima (Star) led an unsuccessful military coup d'etat that ended with his highly publicized, gruesomely violent ritual suicide. Just 45 at the time of his death, Mishima was a prolific, prodigious author, playwright, poet, actor, film director and model, often rumored to be repeatedly considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Half a century since his passing, he remains one of Japan's most revered literary figures, especially lauded for his semi-autobiographical novel, Confessions of a Mask, and the Sea of Fertility tetralogy. Life for Sale, available for the first time in English translation by University of London professor Stephen Dodd, reads almost like an anomaly among Mishima's oeuvre, distinctly characterized by elusive beauty, erotic obsessions, certain death. While all three elements are present here, this satirical Life's unexpected black-comedy-of-errors veneer will undoubtedly surprise even Mishima aficionados.

Hanio Yamada is a 27-year-old copywriter who "personified the honest, hardworking company employee"--at least until he "consumed a large amount of sedative" before stretching out on the empty seats of the last train of the evening. In hindsight, he considers that reading the "run-of-the-mill" newspaper headlines on November 29 (Mishima's chosen death date was November 25, 1970) might have been the "likely" cause of his "sudden urge to die."

His "complete whim" leaves him convinced "a wonderfully free and empty world opened up before him." He quits his advertising job and takes out a tabloid ad: "Life for sale. Use me as you wish." In case he might encounter walk-bys, he posts his door with a similar sign: "Hanio Yamada--Life for Sale." He has no lack of clients--plural, yes, because he can't seem to die, although the body count grows around him, not to mention his lucrative earnings. An old man hires him to die with his much younger wife; a woman sacrifices him to test a new drug; a son needs a body for his vampire mother; two rival embassies need him to eat carrots.

Still alive, and considerably wealthier, he meets his potential match in a drug-addicted virgin, but the best things never last, and he goes on the lam, severing connections, carving out tracking devices, trying to stay ahead of what might well be the end of his line. Repeatedly threatened, Hanio insists "my life is my own affair"--to protect it, live it, end it--all on his own terms.

Ludicrous situations, farcical exchanges and nonsensical plot twists might easily derail a less accomplished author's narrative, but Mishima embraces the outlandish and bizarre with affecting results. Life for Sale proves to be an almost-morality tale about the immeasurable value of life--and, of course--the elusive unknowability (despite its unavoidability) of death. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: In Japanese literary icon Yukio Mishima's darkly comic Life for Sale, available for the first time in English, a young man reacts to his failed suicide by putting his life up for sale.


The Bestsellers

Libro.fm Bestsellers in March

The bestselling Libro.fm audiobooks at independent bookstores during March:

Fiction
1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Macmillan Audio)
3. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (HarperAudio)
6. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (Simon & Schuster Audio)
8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Simon & Schuster Audio)
10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (HarperAudio)

Nonfiction
1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
4. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Open Book by Jessica Simpson (HarperAudio)
6. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (Hachette Audio)
7. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. The Only Plane in the Sky by Holter Graham and Garrett M. Graff (Simon & Schuster Audio)
9. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (HarperAudio)
10. Save Yourself by Cameron Esposito (Hachette Audio)


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