Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 10, 2020: Kids' Maximum Shelf: The Silver Arrow

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


NYC Booksellers Enter Phase 1 of Reopening Cautiously

New York City, which has been a tragic hot zone for the Covid-19 pandemic, entered Phase 1 of its reopening plan this week, which includes authorizing retail businesses to offer curbside and in-store pickup. The city's indie booksellers are currently exploring their options. Here's a brief sampling:

Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson bookstores, spoke with WNYCs Brian Lehrer about what this will mean for small businesses. She also told the Wall Street Journal: "I've been watching Europe very closely and what they're doing there and it seems like it's very easy to put in protocols that keep things safe. I feel safe personally."

Curbside pickup at Astoria Bookshop

"NYC began Phase 1 of reopening today! What does that mean for us?" Astoria Bookshop asked. "We will continue to offer curbside pickup, Tuesday-Saturday BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. When you arrive at your scheduled time, your books will be on a table just inside the door. You MUST be wearing a mask to come inside. Only ONE person at a time may come in to pick up books.... We can't wait until we can invite you back in to peruse the shelves and gather for book club discussions and attend storytime and author events."

The Strand bookstore is offering store pick-up at the side entrance on 12th St. "Per NY State Law, we also ask that a mask be worn when picking up your order." Strand's communications manager James Odum told NBC News: "There's been an outpouring of excitement. Everyone is excited to have some face-to-face interaction, with social distancing." In an interview with MY9, owner Nancy Bass Wyden said, "I'm so excited to be open even this small step of being able to have a curbside pickup desk in the front.... I think it's going to be a slow progress back to any kind of resemblance of what we were before."

Book-o-Matic at Books Are Magic

At Books Are Magic, "Curbside pick up is live!" (including the store's Book-O-Matic station)

Greenlight Bookstore said (via yesterday's e-newsletter) that it "is preparing for our Phase 1 reopening, which will offer expanded options for online ordering and curbside pickup. We are proceeding with caution so that we can make sure that our staff and customers remain protected and safe, and that we can provide a smooth shopping experience; in the meantime we have suspended curbside pickup while we prepare. Stay tuned for more details later this week! In the meantime, you can still order any titles on this list through, for fast direct-to-home shipping via our supplier warehouse."

The Lit. Bar's owner Noëlle Santos spoke with PIX11's Marysol Castro about "how she's been dealing with the Covid-19 shutdown, preparing for reopening and the ongoing protests against police brutality."

Three Lives & Company had been shipping around the country while the store was closed. "But now for locals, they have the option to swing by and pick it up," said owner Toby Cox, who had about 25 orders waiting for curbside pickup when the bookshop opened Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks "has been closed for almost three months. I've been sending out books by mail and sometimes delivering them by bike. Now, retail stores like mine may offer 'curbside pickup,' which means that I can come outside and pass you a bag with books in it.... I'll continue to be in the shop most afternoons and evenings, and I'll confirm my hours (or make up new ones) if you're coming to pick something up. You'll need to wear a mask, and I'll be wearing one, too. It's a different world now--maybe a much better one if all keep trying to do the right thing."

At Community Bookstore, "We're back next week for prepaid, contactless pick-up! When your books arrive, we'll contact you to arrange pickup starting June 9.... Pick-up will be contactless at the door and will require you to wear a mask. All orders must be prepaid. Thanks for your support." Co-owner Ezra Goldstein told the Wall Street Journal: "You shouldn't underestimate how hungry people are for a little human contact and saying hello."

New Vessel Press noted that "NYC bookstores start reopening today for curbside and in-store pickup and we're thrilled to have New Vessel Press novels back on sale at Book Club Bar in the East Village."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Hay Festival, Guadalajara Book Fair Share Princess of Asturias Award

The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts and the Guadalajara International Book Fair have been jointly awarded the 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities "for representing the most important meeting points worldwide for books, writers, readers and culture."

The prize jury said FIL Guadalajara "has become a universal literary phenomenon. With enormous popular impact and mass participation, it constitutes a major focus for the promotion of the Spanish language. Launched in 1988 in the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, the Hay Festival has brought together readers and writers through its different editions, which have spread to America, Europe and Near East since 2006.

"Both events bring the most varied publics together around Literature and congregate hundreds of thousands of visitors every year with the aim of fomenting the habit of the reading. The Guadalajara Fair and the Hay Festival further contribute decisively to strengthening cultural industries and making them sustainable."

Hay Festival directors commented: "It is an extraordinary honor to receive the Premio Princesa de Asturias. It's humbling to be considered alongside the other laureates and we are delighted to share this honor in Communication and Humanities with our friends at the beloved Guadalajara International Book Fair. From Hay-on-Wye in the mountains of Wales to the great cities of Segovia in Spain, Cartagena de Indias and Medellín in Colombia, Arequipa in Peru and Querétaro in Mexico, and to the global sphere of our digital projects, Hay Festival celebrates and brings writers and readers together to imagine the world. It has never seemed more important to try to understand our crises and our opportunities, to find new ways of connecting people, and to foster a sense of renewal and hope."

Raúl Padilla López, chairman of the FIL Guadalajara, said: "It is an honor for those of us who form part of the Guadalajara International Book Fair Organizing Committee to accept this tremendous recognition, which underpins and consolidates uninterrupted work over 34 years in support of the publishing trade in Latin America, Spanish-speaking readers and intercultural dialogue. We are also honored to share it with the Hay Festival, whose importance is likewise undeniable.... As you will know, FIL Guadalajara was founded by the University of Guadalajara, so this award constitutes the recognition of all the university students who join in this great festival of knowledge each year in a spirit of social commitment. But we also assume this award as a tribute to all the authors, booksellers, publishers, readers and Spanish speakers, to whom the Guadalajara International Book Fair belongs."

This is the third of eight annual awards that the Princess of Asturias Foundation presents annually, each comprising a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolizing the awards, a cash prize of €50,000 (about $56,800), a diploma and an insignia.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

How Bookstores Are Coping: Online Orders Surge, Support for Protests

Last week, Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, Calif., saw such an incredible surge in online orders that co-owners James Fugate and Tom Hamilton had to suspend all website orders. 

On Saturday, May 30, the store received more than 400 orders, Fugate recalled. It was the first time in all of the two and a half months of covid-19 that he and Hamilton could not process all of the store's orders on the same day they were received, and they both went in the next day just to continue working on them. But as they were working on Saturday's orders, they could see Sunday's orders building.

"It reached 1,000, then 2,300," said Fugate. He went to bed Sunday night thinking it was still manageable. The store didn't receive many new orders overnight, but Monday brought well over 1,000 new orders. He first broached the topic of cutting off website orders on Monday, but they decided to keep it going. By Tuesday morning, however, both he and Hamilton agreed that they needed to close it down. As of Friday morning, the store still had a few thousand orders left to process.

At the same time that online sales were spiking, Fugate continued, in-store sales became incredibly busy. Every day last week brought a stream of customers. Several people donated to the store, and a popular author who didn't want to attract publicity bought 110 copies of How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom visited the Leimert Park neighborhood and purchased some children's books and more at Eso Won. "What a way to recover from covid and sales being 70% down," remarked Fugate.

Comparing the George Floyd protests to similar protests in years past, Fugate said this feels "definitely different," like nothing he's seen before. "This is a changing moment for a lot of people. I think they're waking up to the fact that there's more to being a good person than just being a good person. You have to educate yourself about how the other half lives."

Fugate told the Los Angeles Daily News that last week he received a call from publisher W. Paul Coates, founder and director of Black Classic Press and father of writer Ta-Nahesi Coates. "He said every store he's talked to, they're saying the same thing. There's this outpouring of support like they've never seen. Things are going to change. People are going to realize the mistake they made in 2016. I think you're going to see a sea change in people's attitudes."

Eso Won reopened to browsing only a short while ago, and Fugate and Hamilton are requiring customers to wear facemasks. They are also opening the front door for shoppers and asking them to use hand sanitizer at the door. While most customers have been amenable to these restrictions, there was one incident over the weekend of May 30 that Fugate described as "terrible."

"I'm in that age group that this thing seems to like," Fugate said. "At the store, I'm not going to talk to anybody that doesn't take this seriously."


On June 1, Women & Children First in Chicago, Ill., began to bring back some of the store's booksellers who had been either working at home or furloughed for more than two months. Co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck reported that the store is offering contactless, curbside pick-up, and she and her team still have a lot to do before "we reopen our doors to the public in any capacity."

Every bookseller in the store must wear a mask, and although the store is 3,000 square feet, only four or five booksellers are ever working at a time. Hollenbeck and her team purchased "gallon jugs of hand sanitizer" from a local distillery and have been wiping down all workstations frequently.

As protests began in the last week of May in response to the murder of George Floyd, Hollenbeck said, several of the store's neighboring businesses boarded up their stores, but she and co-owner Lynn Mooney decided not to go that route. They changed all of the store's street-facing displays to convey solidarity with the protestors, and community members chalked the store's sidewalks and exterior walls with "Black Lives Matter" and the names of those murdered, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

The store has been distributing BLM buttons during curbside pick-up, and many Women & Children First staff members have joined the protests. Last week, from #BlackoutTuesday through Friday, June 5, they closed their online store and redirected sales to Semicolon, the only Black woman-owned bookstore in Chicago. The store also issued two e-newsletters over the past week, the first of which included a statement affirming that as an intersectional feminist bookstore, Women & Children First stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

On the subject of her staff, Hollenbeck said "there's a lot of heartache and anxiety right now mixed with frustration. In this critical moment, with so much momentum and so much at stake in the fight for racial justice and systemic change, the task of fulfilling online orders can feel small and so passive. We have to constantly remind ourselves of our mission and the foundational role that books can play in a revolution."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Obituary Note: Bruce Jay Friedman

Bruce Jay Friedman

Bruce Jay Friedman, who wrote darkly humorous novels, screenplays and scripts exploring the fears and insecurities of the white middle-class, died last week at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., the New York Times reported. He was 90 years old.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Friedman published his first book, Stern, in 1962. His sophomore novel, A Mother's Kisses, became a bestseller in 1964, and both novels feature "New York Jews exploring an America outside the five boroughs." His first play, Scuba Duba, was a "send-up of race relations" that premiered in 1967 and was an Off-Broadway hit.

In the early 1970s he wrote Steambath, another popular Off-Broadway play that was televised in 1973. He published the novels The Dick, about an urban detective, and About Harry Towns, featuring a "cocaine-addled screenwriter," and, in the latter half of the decade he wrote The Lonely Guy's Book of Life, which began as a series of essays and was later adapted for film. Friedman also wrote short stories, and his story "A Change of Plan" became the film The Heartbreak Kid.

From the 1980s on, Friedman focused on movies, writing the screenplay for Stir Crazy, which starred Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and was directed by Sidney Poitier, and the first draft of the script for Splash, a romantic comedy about an affair between a man and a mermaid that starred Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. He would go on to write more novels, though they never quite reached the same level of popularity or praise as his earlier work.

Reflecting on his career in later years, Friedman wrote: "Stories, quite a few of them, got written and published. If they lacked energy (were less frantic?) I assured myself they were more 'dimensional.' Once I discovered that comforting description, I clung to it like life itself. There were a few books, some plays that still need attention. And quite a few pieces about me in the literary journals, wondering what had happened to me. Where had I gone? I began to feel like the most (fondly) remembered forgotten writer in America."


Image of the Day: Scuppernong's New Veneer

Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, N.C., announced: "WE ARE OPEN (WITH A FLASHY PLYWOOD VENEER)..." The boards feature a quote from James Baldwin and signs urging people to donate to protest bail funds.

The store continued:

1) Making an appointment assures you of a social distanced period in which to browse.
2) We will be admitting browsers without an appointment, if the store is lightly populated. So, if you're in the neighborhood and want to drop by, please do.
3) We'll be limiting the total number of people in the store to 6 to allow for adequate social distancing.
4) Masks are required. Sanitizer is available.
5) Customers picking up orders can come anytime during open hours. You don't need to call ahead.
6) Current hours are Tues-Sat 10-5.
7) We've missed you all."

Out of Stock... In a Good Way

Posted yesterday on Facebook by Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.: "Normally these signs on our bestseller list drive me crazy. Being out of stock of a bestseller is just not good. But this week I rejoice that so many people are buying books about race and racism that the titles are out of stock across the country. We will have them back in soon! Reading is a path to compassion."

Bookshop Hashtag of the Day: #2020amirite

Atomic Books, Baltimore, Md., "had some unexpected excitement last night. A car rammed into our storefront. Don't worry, everyone is fine, even the driver! And we're working on fixing everything up. Depending on how long the plywood will be there maybe we can slap up a cool mural. You may experience some delays with your orders. #atomicbooks #2020amirite."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II on Morning Joe

Morning Joe: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, author of We Are Called to Be a Movement (Workman, $7.99, 9781523511242).

Conan: Nicole Byer, author of #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl's Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini (Andrews McMeel, $19.99, 9781524850746).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House: A Novel (Harper, $19.95, 9780063023390).

Movies: You Should Have Left

A trailer has been released for You Should Have Left, based on the novel by Daniel Kehlmann. Entertainment Weekly reported that the project is written and directed by David Koepp, the screenwriter of Jurassic Park, who previously collaborated with star Kevin Bacon on the horror movie Stir of Echoes. The film will be available in North America on premium on-demand digital beginning June 19.

In You Should Have Left, Bacon plays Theo Conroy, "a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) is shredding at the seams, frayed by her secretiveness, his jealousy, and the shadow of his past. In an effort to repair their relationship, Theo and Susanna book a vacation at a stunning, remote modern home in the Welsh countryside for themselves and their 6-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). What at first seems like a perfect retreat distorts into a nightmare when Theo’s grasp on reality begins to unravel and he suspects that a sinister force within the house knows more than he or Susanna have revealed, even to each other," EW wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which celebrates "the very best in crime fiction" and is open to U.K. and Irish crime authors. The award is produced and curated by arts charity Harrogate International Festivals and is presented in partnership with T&R Theakston, WH Smith and the Express. This year's shortlisted titles are:

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Joe Country by Mick Herron
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee                        

The shortlist will be promoted in an online campaign from WH Smith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival's online community--You're Booked--features interviews and interactive content. This forms part of the Harrogate International Festival virtual season of events, HIF at Home

A public vote is now open. The winner, set to be revealed July 23 in a virtual awards ceremony, receives £3,000 (about $3,800) and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain's last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

Reading with... Sam Lansky

photo: Ryan Pfluger

Sam Lansky is an essayist, journalist and cultural critic. He has written for New York magazine, the Atlantic and Esquire, among others, and is now West Coast editor at Time.  His memoir, The Gilded Razor, was published in 2016. His debut novel, Broken People (just released by Hanover Square Press), is about a young man who meets a mysterious shaman who promises to transform him in three days.

On your nightstand now:

Next up on my queue is The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne, which was highly recommended by Jamie Lee Curtis, who has terrific taste in books. My confession is that I haven't started it yet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I still have a hardcover copy of E.B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan on my shelf--I remember loving it so fiercely as a kid, as a celebration of what makes us different, even if that difference is something the world frames as a shortcoming. Years later, I feel like I'm still exploring those ideas in my own work. (Both off the page and, uh, in therapy.)

Your top five authors:

Mary Gaitskill, Edmund White, James Baldwin, Fran Lebowitz, Mary Karr.

Book you've faked reading:

Too many to count? I'm terrible at keeping up with the big, zeitgeist-defining fiction of the moment, and I'm usually too much of a coward to admit it, but I'll nod and smile when those books come up in conversation, hoping nobody catches me in the lie of omission.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I talk, probably too much, about Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story, which is my favorite book on writing, period, though it's of particular use to writers of personal narrative. It was crucial for me when I was writing my memoir, but even as I've expanded into fiction, I've found myself returning to it: Gornick outlines so clearly the traps writers of memoir and essay repeatedly fall into, and how best to swerve them.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Well before the pandemic made it seem startlingly prescient, I bought Ling Ma's Severance from Posman Books in Atlanta; the cover design was so distinctive that it grabbed me without knowing anything about the book. Now, of course, I'm haunted by it--and worried that if I reread it, I'll never sleep again.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents are both voracious readers with relatively highbrow taste; I think my greatest shame as a young person was the sheer volume of Gossip Girl novels I read while I was in school and should have been reading the classics. (Years later, Janet Malcolm's wonderful essay about the merits of those books for the New Yorker validated my dubious taste.)

Book that changed your life:

Here, again, I fear there are too many to count--why read if it's not going to change your life?--but I have a specific memory of reading John Jeremiah Sullivan's collection of magazine articles, Pulphead, and being just staggered by the fact that journalism could do that. His writing is so detailed, so personal and so perceptive; I think he's one of the modern masters.

Favorite line from a book:

When I was writing Broken People, I returned many times to an essay by Mary Gaitskill titled "Lost Cat," published in Granta in 2009 and reprinted in her 2017 collection Somebody with a Little Hammer. The line that I kept circling over and over again was this: "If you can't see inside the heart no matter how you look, then why not look?" It's a deeply self-interrogating piece, and this line reminds me that the pursuit of greater self-knowledge is its own worthy thing, regardless of what you find.

Five books you'll never part with:

Frank Conroy's Stop-Time
Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life
Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man
Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree

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

Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story is, I think, the most piercing book ever written about addiction; the way the book opens, with an intensely detailed list of the circumstances under which Knapp drank, is so elegant and gripping and propulsive. Every time I read it, I'm reminded of her greatness--and how desperately I wish she'd had the chance to write more books before her passing--but I would love to experience the thrill of reading that first page again for the first time, and the pleasure of recognizing yourself in another writer's words.

Book Review

Children's Review: City of Secrets

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying (Viking Books for Young Readers, $14.99 paperback, 256p., ages 8-12, 9780593114490, July 28, 2020)

Secrets will out in thrilling ways as a wary orphan boy and an adventure-prone heiress face deadly peril in this action-packed first authored graphic novel from Victoria Ying (illustrator of Diana: Princess of the Amazons), a developmental artist whose film credits include Big Hero 6 and Moana

Built in layers like a wedding cake in which the rich live above the rest, the Grand Capital City of Oskars needs a way to keep communication flowing through its levels. Stern Madame Alexander oversees a staff of young women in pristine white aprons and black puff-sleeved dresses, who connect calls at the Switchboard Operating Facility, a fascinating building with six stories of lever-and-gear-operated moving platforms and staircases. When Hannah, the spitfire daughter of the Switchboard's wealthy owner, stumbles across Ever Barnes, an orphan boy hiding in the facility, her efforts to befriend him fail miserably. After the brutal murder of his father and his own narrow escape, Ever is alone in the world but committed to protecting his family's secret: a hidden vault in the Switchboard that supposedly contains a way to protect Oskars. He trusts no one, and he uses his expertise with the Switchboard's mechanical floors to keep Hannah at a literal distance. When she saves his life from another murder attempt, Ever thaws toward the spunky girl. Soon they become allies in an uncertain world where loved ones and switchboard operators alike hide deadly secrets, and only their friendship and ingenuity can stop the city's enemies.

Action comes first in this dazzling maze of spies, secret societies, deadly assassins and steampunk set pieces, culminating in an unpredictable climax with an anime-inspired twist. The story gains its emotional heft from Ever's feelings of having nowhere to turn and Hannah's rebellion against the idea that growing up means trading her personality for passivity. Ying winds the suspense tightly, showing bits of suspicious conversations and actions by secondary characters, then leaving readers to wonder if they're fair or foul. Crimson and gold accents over sepia-washed backgrounds evoke a feel of Victorian luxury in the illustrations, and the youth and energy of her lead characters resonate in her fluid portrayal of motion. Although Ying resolves the immediate crisis, nefarious villains still lurk in and outside Oskars, and hints of further secrets leave her room to pull the lever on a sequel. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library

Shelf Talker A young orphan boy protects the secrets of a clockwork building in this action-packed, steampunk-infused graphic novel.

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