Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 26, 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

'Adopt Your Favorite Local Business, Today'

"As the U.S. slowly reopens, each one of us must step up and do our part to bring the pandemic-battered economy back to life.... So here's my plea: Adopt your favorite local business, today.

"Living in the Washington, D.C., area, my partner, Audrey, and I just adopted Busboys and Poets, a community gathering place created by artist, activist, and restaurateur Andy Shallal.... Over a typical year, Audrey and I have 10-20 meals at Busboys and Poets, spending about $1,000 overall. So we e-mailed Andy, proposing that we prepay $1,000--plus encourage our friends to do the same--to help boost his cash flow for reopening. Deliriously happy, he sent us, in appreciation, $1,200 in gift cards. (Though we weren't considering this an investment per se, you can't beat a 20% rate of return.)

"It's not a cliché, or overstatement, to say that local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities.... So whatever each one of us can possibly do, let's do it today. At this moment, let's you and I, and all the rest of us, adopt our favorite local business through pre-purchasing or investment. A little love can go a long way to saving our communities now, when they need our help most."

--Michael H. Shuman, author of Put Your Money Where Your Life Is, in a piece for Fast Company

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


Well Red Coffee, Books & Wine Opens in Auburn, Ala.

Well Red Coffee, Books & Wine opened this week at 223 Opelika Rd. in Auburn, Ala. Crystal and Richard Tomasello, co-owners of the Depot, "created something that, until recently, was absent from the business scene" in the city, an independent bookstore, the Auburn Villager reported.

"A couple of years ago we went to a wedding in Asheville [N.C.] Battery Park bookstore," said Crystal Tomasello. "We saw the unique way they operated and we said to each other that Auburn needs something like this."

Well Red's location has been renovated to combine the best of bookstores, coffee shops and wines. "When we go to dinner, we try to eat out at small business establishments, but go somewhere else for dessert," she added. "That's what we provide here. We have all homemade desserts as well as an in-house baker. It's a great place to relax and study as well as grab some coffee or wine."

Although opening a business during a pandemic was extremely challenging, Tomasello noted some advantages: "It has been crazy because everything shut down so quickly, so you have the issues of ordering things and shipping not coming on time, but you also didn't have to rush. But it gave us time to focus on details. We share the frustration and anxiety with other businesses but it's been nice to slow down."

She added: "Our customers are super special. They have all expressed that they are excited to have something like this in Auburn. People came in the morning for coffee and at night for wine."

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

Odyssey Bookstore Opens in Ithaca

Odyssey Bookstore has opened in downtown Ithaca, N.Y. Earlier this spring, store owner Laura Larson had planned for a soft opening in April, but her plans were delayed significantly by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"A lifetime of dreaming...and today at last the dream came true," Larson wrote in a Facebook post announcing the opening. "Thank you to all the wonderful people who made my dream store possible. I will be forever grateful."

Larson's store sells new books for titles for all ages, with a particularly large section devoted to plays.

Jennifer Enderlin Promoted to President & Publisher, St. Martin's Publishing Group

Jennifer Enderlin has been promoted to president and publisher of St. Martin's Publishing Group. She has been with the company for 27 years, and in 2018 was made publisher after two years of being co-publisher with Sally Richardson. Richardson, who earlier had been president and publisher, continues as chairman of St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Don Weisberg, president of Macmillan Publishers U.S., called Enderlin "an extraordinary editor, publisher, and student of the business whose passion for books is second to none. I have also come to admire her attributes as a friend, colleague, mentor, advisor, and most assuredly as a leader.

"If I asked Jen today what are the reasons for the great success of St. Martin's Publishing Group, she would not miss a beat and say, 'it is because of my team.' She is right. But I would also say it is because of her leadership. It has never been more evident than it has been over the last few months as Jen has led with style and grace, with strength and good humor."

Second Flight Books in Lafayette, Ind., Moving

Second Flight Books in Lafayette, Ind., will move to a new building later this year, the Journal & Courier reported.

Owners Laura and Justin Kendall will move the store from its current spot in the Market Square Shopping Center to a space across from Columbian Park that they are buying. Laura Kendall said she expects the move to be complete by late September or early October.

"We had been looking to buy a building, just because a lot of the most long-lasting bookstores own their own building, and rent would be one less thing to worry about," Kendall explained. "We looked at other buildings, but we fell in love with this spot by the park."

While the new space is about the same size as the store's current space, the layout is different. The interior is more "maze-like," and Laura and Justin Kendall plan to create an outdoor patio to use as an events space. They will also expand the children's section. 

The store will be dog-friendly, and they told the Journal & Courier that they hope to get lots of foot traffic from people walking their dogs around the park.

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Surreal' Opening, Retail Social Distancing

Madison Street Books celebrated its grand opening in mid-March, but had to close two days later.

Mary Mollman and Javier Ramirez opened Madison Street Books in Chicago, Ill., in early March, and closed because of the coronavirus only two days later. Mollman said the past three months have been especially surreal, and she and Ramirez had very mixed emotions when their new store almost immediately became a fulfillment center for online orders.

"We were so very grateful for the orders that were keeping us afloat, but fulfillment versus handsell are two very different things," said Mollman.

Beyond the emotional impact, the sudden closure has had a significant financial impact as well. The store's 90 days of sales for its opening order were during the shutdown, and she and Ramirez have shifted funds from things like signage and paper goods to cover invoices. It has, however, "started to get a bit tricky." While opening a new bookstore is always risky, they thought they would be "starting out on flat ground, not climbing out of a hole."

The store has reopened for browsing, and according to Chicago's guidelines, they can have a maximum of 10 people in at a time, including staff. By law everyone is required to wear a mask, and the store has both hand sanitizer and gloves available for customers. Mollman noted that her preference is gloves, given that people love to touch books while browsing and the store is not large enough to allow for putting touched books on a cart and letting them sit for several days.

Most people, she reported, have been "incredibly grateful" for the precautions they are taking. Community members watched the store come together over the first six months, and then were unable to browse. Now they finally can, and people are very excited, which Mollman said has been great to see.

A little less than a month ago, as protests began in cities around the country, Mollman and Ramirez were unable to get to their store over an entire weekend because of steps the mayor of Chicago took to keep people out of the Loop, so "it was fingers crossed." There are residential units above the store, and they asked their neighbors to keep an eye out. And while there was looting in the neighborhood, the store was not damaged. Subsequently, they boarded up the store and remained closed for a week. They opened for business the following Sunday but kept the boards in place, and did not remove them until the next weekend after that. All told, the store has been open for three weeks and without boards for two weeks.

Mollman said they've affirmed their commitment to racial equality on social media and through in-store displays of anti-racist titles, and over July 4th weekend, the store will donate 10% of its sales to a local community organization promoting racial equality.


Door-side orders at East Bay Booksellers

In Oakland, Calif., East Bay Booksellers has re-opened for front-door service Monday through Friday. Owner Brad Johnson said they are probably still a few weeks away from opening for browsing, as he is very concerned about the increasing rate of hospitalizations in California and "nobody has adequately explained to me why it is not the same sort of problem" that resulted in shutdowns in March. 

In July, Johnson continued, he'll have his full team of booksellers on board again, and there is a great deal of work to be done: there is freight to deal with, some of it dating back to March, inventory to take, returns to ship and returning staff members to train in online fulfillment. He and his team will use the first few weeks in July to figure out the store will look and operate with social distancing guidelines in place.

Looking ahead, Johnson said "social distancing is the key," and noted that just this week they added a third bookseller to their in-store team. He plans to play it by ear over the next few weeks and make sure everybody feels comfortable with the working environment.

Generally speaking, he reported, the store's community is pretty on-board with social distancing and wearing masks. It remains to be seen, however, how on board they are with his "conservative stance on reopening," as more and more businesses reopen in the area. Many people are anxious, while others understand completely and approve of the caution. Johnson has tried to be candid in all of the store's communications with customers, and that will be key going forward.

On the subject of the ongoing protests, Johnson said East Bay Booksellers has been "vocally and actively supportive." A nearby high school was the staging ground for one of the larger protests a few weeks ago, so plenty of people walked by the store on the way to that, and last weekend a march went right by the store.

Twenty percent of the sales from the store's Antiracist Reading List have gone toward bail funds in the East Bay and elsewhere, and Johnson noted that while his store has certainly sold its share of bestsellers of the day, their marketing push has been on university and independent press treatments, which often have a more "radical ideological bone to pick" with white supremacy and police violence.

Obituary Note: Wendy Cooling

Wendy Cooling

Wendy Cooling, the founder of Bookstart, a BookTrust project she "launched 28 years ago which today gives books to over two million children in the U.K. every year," died June 23, the Bookseller reported. A secondary school teacher, she wrote children's series for Puffin in addition to the All the Wild Wonders poetry collection. In 2006, she received the Eleanor Farjeon Award, and in 2009 was made MBE for Services to Children's Literature.

"There are few more beloved people in the world of children's books than Wendy, and her passing will be mourned by authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, teachers and all those colleagues who worked with her on the ground-breaking projects that marked a long and uniquely impactful career," BookTrust noted, adding that she "never ceased to keep breaking down the barriers preventing any child from any background accessing the widest possible range of reading."

BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald observed that she "was, quite simply, a powerhouse who transformed the lives of millions of children."

Tributes to Cooling poured in from the book world, including Jonathan Douglas, CEO of the National Literacy Trust ("Her belief that every child deserved a rich life of reading and books was utterly compelling."), Hilary Murray Hill, CEO, Hachette Children's Group ("Her contribution to children's reading is utterly unique and unlikely ever to be replicated.") and Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls ("A whole generation of readers--and their parents--have Wendy to thank for bringing books into their families.").

Among the authors paying tribute were Michael Morpurgo ("Her knowledge was overwhelming, her warmth infectious. A life so well lived."), Malorie Blackman ("Wendy was passionate about putting books in the hands of all our children. Meeting her made me feel I could have a place and a space as an author in the world of children's books.") and Cressida Cowell ("Wendy was a passionate champion for children's books, and the transformative magic of reading. Her legacy will be far-reaching.").


Image of the Day: Centuries & Sleuths Hosts Grogan

Last weekend, author David E. Grogan signed and discussed his latest thriller, The Hidden Key (Epicenter Press), at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Forest Park, Ill.--the store's first post-shutdown event.

Sales Floor Displays: Novel. Memphis

Posted on Facebook yesterday by Novel. bookstore, Memphis, Tenn.: "We are in love with our new displays--one comprised of adult and YA books and the other of picture books and middle grade titles--featuring works that represent #ownvoices.... Sooooo much good stuff on these displays--dive in!"

Unboxing Video: Jerry Craft's 2020 Newbery Medal

The Association for Library Service to Children shared an unboxing video, featuring Jerry Craft as he got a first, socially distanced, look at his 2020 John Newbery Medal, presented annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, for New Kid (HarperCollins).

Media and Movies

Movies: The Magic School Bus

Universal, Elizabeth Banks's Brownstone Productions and Marc Platt are developing a feature live-action hybrid movie based on Scholastic's The Magic School Bus books by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen. Deadline reported that Banks "will play teacher extraordinaire Ms. Frizzle" and produce with Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions as well as president and CSO Iole Lucchese and senior v-p & general manager Caitlin Friedman of Scholastic Entertainment, along with Marc Platt and Adam Siegel of Marc Platt Productions. Alison Small serves as executive producer for Brownstone Productions.

"We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day," said Lucchese. "We're also extremely excited to be working with such top-tier partners as Elizabeth Banks, Marc Platt Productions, Brownstone Productions, Universal Pictures, and all of the amazing talent assembled for this noteworthy feature film."

The books were first adapted into a PBS animated TV series that aired for 18 years in the U.S. and in more than 100 countries. An animated sequel to the original series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, made its debut on Netflix in 2017.

TV: The Turkish Detective

ViacomCBS International Studios and Miramax will co-produce The Turkish Detective, a crime series set in modern-day Istanbul based on the 21 inspector Cetin Ikmen novels by Barbara Nadel, Deadline reported. Each episode "follows Ikmen and his partner Mehmet Suleyman as they solve a series of crimes, with the stories heavily rooted in the rich culture and history of Istanbul." Production will begin in spring next year.

Marc Helwig, head of worldwide television at Miramax, said, "Barbara Nadel is a terrific writer, and her page-turning novels combine beautifully honed storytelling that is at once captivating, colorful and imbued with a distinctly authentic sense of place."

Books & Authors

Awards: Danuta Gleed Literary Winner

The Writers' Union of Canada announced that Zalika Reid-Benta won the C$10,000 (about US$7,355) Danuta Gleed Literary Award, honoring the best first collection of short fiction, for Frying Plantain. Christy Ann Conlin's Watermark and Terry Doyle's DIG were named runners-up, each receiving C$1,000 (about US$735).

Describing the winning book as "brilliant," the jury said through Reid-Benta's "quiet but unflinching prose, we witness a Black girl's journey into adulthood. Along the way, we meet characters that are by turns lovable and frustrating, stubborn and vulnerable. Reid-Benta writes her characters into existence with great assurance, skill, and tenderness. Frying Plantain is as accomplished as it is delightful."

Reading with... Helen Ellis

photo: Lara Magzan

Helen Ellis is the author of American Housewife and Eating the Cheshire Cat. She was raised in Alabama, and now lives with her husband in New York City. You can find her on Twitter @WhatIDoAllDay and Instagram @americanhousewife. Her humorous essays Southern Lady Code are now available in paperback from Anchor.

On your nightstand now:

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby, Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis, Hotel by Arthur Hailey and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Part coming-of-age/part puberty instruction manual.

Your top five authors:

Hannah Tinti and Ann Napolitano have been my writing workshop for more than 20 years, so they are always at the top of my list. Decades ago, Hannah made me Christmas ornaments of Ann Patchett and Stephen King as Santas. And my husband reads me David Sedaris in bed.

Book you've faked reading:

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. For whatever reason I couldn't finish it, so my friend Patti told me how it ended. Cold Mountain is now a verb in our friendship vocabulary. Whenever one of us can't finish a book, we ask the other to "Cold Mountain it for me."

Book you're an evangelist for:

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson. I think it is a perfect collection of surreal and Southern short stories. Rent-a-Grandma and a Scrabble factory worker? Yes, please!

Book you've bought for the cover:

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. I have two copies of this book because I love the covers. One is a cartoon version of Rosalind Russell and one is straight out of the late '60s, very Megan Draper, Mad Men season 7. I mean, who doesn't want to be this broad?

Book you hid from your parents:

Jaws by Peter Benchley. I snuck it from my grandparents' bookshelf and never admitted to my parents why I was scared to go in a lake or the deep end of a swimming pool.

Book that changed your life:

Carrie by Stephen King. Part coming-of-age/part anti-bullying campaign.

Favorite line from a book:

"I feel bad about my neck" from I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. From the start of this book, she is honest, funny and kind. "Be honest, funny, and kind" is my nonfiction writing motto. And my life motto, too. To boot: the book is a full coming-of-middle-age manual.

Five books you'll never part with:

Animal Crackers by Hannah Tinti, Within Arm's Reach by Ann Napolitano, The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett, Skeleton Crew by Stephen King and Naked by David Sedaris.

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

Scruples by Judith Krantz. This was the first book we read for my Classic Trashy Book Club. I'd read it as a teenager, and it was all the better as a middle-age lady. We've read over 60 "classic trashies" since this one--including two others by Krantz--and I love sinking into big books about women who give themselves a second chance.

Book Review

Review: Paris Is Always a Good Idea

Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay (Berkley, $16 paperback, 352p., 9780593101353, July 21, 2020)

Prolific author Jenn McKinlay (Buried to the Brim) departs from her long-running romance and mystery series and delivers a fun, feel-good, stand-alone novel that will delight readers. Paris Is Always a Good Idea, a bittersweet story, focuses on a disillusioned woman in her 30s who sets off on an exciting world-wide adventure.

After college, Chelsea Martin faces seven years of struggle. Her beloved mother dies, and grief-stricken Chelsea buries herself in work, becoming a corporate fund-raising star for a prominent cancer coalition in Boston. There, Chelsea's nemesis and professional rival, Jason Knightley--a vision of "masculine perfection" who is "all flash and no substance," an "overgrown-frat-boy-slacker"--continually tries to ruffle her professional feathers. Through it all, tough, reliable, hard-working Chelsea keeps everything together and powers on. But then she learns that her "buttoned-down" mathematician father, a widower, has proposed to a woman he's known for only two weeks--a woman who "won" him for $435.50 at a charity auction. Chelsea's younger, twice-married sister is elated by this news, but Chelsea is floored. She suddenly takes stock of her own life, wondering why she isn't happy or in a fulfilling romantic relationship of her own.

Chelsea decides, on a lark, to return to a time in her life when she believed she was happy and carefree--full of love and joy, hope and promise. Taking a much-needed sabbatical from her successful career, she winds her way through Europe to try to recapture the spirit of the woman she once was--retracing a route she traveled after college, long before she became a workaholic. She seeks out and revisits old flames, starting in a quaint, small town in Ireland; returning to the glittering lights of romantic Paris; then on to a vineyard tucked into the rolling hills of Tuscany. By reuniting with lovable old beaus in the hope of rekindling romance in each picturesque locale, Chelsea learns much about herself and what she truly wants from life.

Readers will savor the feisty, adventurous journey of McKinlay's self-deprecating protagonist as she re-examines her past in order to chart her future. Navigating many complications and bumps in the road, Chelsea finds romance and enlightenment over the course of her travels, and discovers how living life can change people--altering destinies, dreams and priorities for the better. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A fun, adventurous story about a 30-something workaholic who takes a sabbatical to rekindle a happier, romance-filled time in her life.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: An #IndependentBookshopWeek Like None Before

By 8 a.m. I am being filmed putting books away and trying to "look natural." When we are properly open there is a small flurry of customers. By 11 a.m. there are extremely polite but awkwardly elaborate dances going on as people try to maintain social distancing, even though no one is really in anyone else's way. Customers apologizing to each other unnecessarily in a small bookshop is probably the most English scene there has ever been. --Tamsin Rosewell, a bookseller at Kenilworth Books, Kenilworth (via the Guardian)

Independent Bookshop Week, the Books Are My Bag campaign run by the Booksellers Association, celebrates indie bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland. Thanks to Covid-19, the 2020 edition of IBW is like none before.

"We couldn't be more delighted by the enthusiasm for Independent Bookshop Week 2020 from across the book trade," said Emma Bradshaw, BA's head of campaigns. "In this immensely challenging time, we hope that book lovers across the country will enjoy the many fantastic online events and exclusive editions on offer from indie bookshops, while remembering to choose bookshops and shop local."

Celebrating at Bookends Keswick.

On Tuesday, the Guardian ran an article headlined " 'We're back in business': U.K. bookshops see sales soar." The accompanying photograph--a POS station in a London branch of Waterstones--was an unfortunate editorial choice during IBW. That said, Waterstones Swansea did tweet amends: "Doors open in an hour. Just to confirm--we are still a bookshop. A few of the details may have changed but, basically, you can buy books from us if you want to. If you can, though, please buy a book from your local independent bookshop, too--it's #IndependentBookshopWeek."

Bradshaw told the Yorkshire Post it was too early to tell if the recent upward momentum in the independent sector could be maintained when the Covid-19 quarantine was over: "I'm sure there will be casualties but so far only one shop has told us they won't reopen. And a lot of people are reassessing their lives and would love to open a bookshop of their own."

Author Damian Barr, who has been on an Instagram Literary Salon Bookshop Tour for IBW, observed: "Indie bookshops do so much for readers and writers--they're the beating heart of publishing. It's a joy to be able to celebrate a different indie every day for a week, in addition to our Indie Bookshop of the Month feature on Salon. I've been desperate for a bookshop browse during lockdown so this will give people a chance to get among the shelves again."

At Beckenham Bookshop, an aquatic-themed protective screen.

Bookshops were allowed to open in England June 15, though not all have yet. Almost nothing is as it was, except indie determination and adaptability. Cogito Books, Hexham, noted: "As we celebrate a rather different #IndependentBookshopWeek to those we're used to, we just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who's come along to buy book, offer words of support or just to say hello at our 'pop-up' counter over the last week and a half; it is, as ever, very much appreciated. Although no one's coming over the shop threshold at the moment, we're still determined to share the book love with some super tempting displays inside."

At the Snug Bookshop, Bridgwater.

For IBW at the Ironbridge Bookshop, Ironbridge, "we usually celebrate more so, but this year I'm just thankful to be open. Tell me about your favorite bookshops! I have always felt at home in a bookshop, no matter where it is, they bring and spread joy to everyone. Booksellers are among the nicest people I've ever met and I feel blessed to be a part of the book world. I wanted to share some pictures of some of my favorite bookshops that I've visited over the years."

Bookshops that haven't reopened yet are missed. When Scottish indie Category Is Books in Glasgow tweeted Wednesday about "booksellers now emerging from holiday! (still working at home and doing deliveries, give us a couple days and we will catch up on orders.)," author Dean Atta responded: "Missing walking into @CategoryIsBooks and immediately being offered a cup of tea, missing LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Yoga on Saturday mornings, missing these two lovely people and the whole community around this bookshop!"

With the future of indies still uncertain at best, Leanne Fridd, co-owner of seven-month-old Bookbugs and Dragon Tales in Norwich, shared a perspective with the BBC that best captures this year's IBW spirit: "We hadn't factored a global pandemic into the business plan, surprisingly.... We're still very far from out of the woods but the bigger fear was that we wouldn't be able to survive--and still is. But we try and be really optimistic and positive and do everything we can. If we don't survive, it won't be because we haven't poured our heart and soul into everything, trying so many different ways to help people feel engaged with us."

Exhale... and maybe tune in to the Bookshop Band later today for a special Indie Bookshop Week live concert edition of the Lockdown Book Show. Yesterday, the band tweeted a picture of their second album, And Other Dystopias (2012), which has taken on new relevance: "Digging up old linocuts--this one seems quite appropriate. Mr. B's @mrbsemporium have revamped the shop and we're all wearing facemasks."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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