Also published on this date: Wednesday, July 8, 2020: Maximum Shelf: Group

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 8, 2020

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Quotation of the Day

'Bookshops Are Part of the Soul of Our City'

"There's nothing quite like an independent bookshop.... In this digital, screen-obsessed world we live in, books matter and bookshops matter too. In all corners of our city, there are wonderful bookshops giving you the chance to get lost in literature. Shops that may look small from the outside, but inside are a treasure trove for our imaginations. Shops that offer us what online stores don't--a conversation with a real person, a sense of community and belonging.

"Over the last four months these gems on our high street have had to temporarily close their doors due to the pandemic. They've played their part in fighting the spread of the virus at a time when we've needed them the most. Independent bookshops have been hit hard, but--now they're slowly reopening--it's time for us to make sure they survive.

"So what can you do? Support the bookshops on our Pay it Forward platform and get behind our #LondonIsOpen campaign, venture out onto your high street with your mask, grab a coffee and buy a book from your local independent bookshop. Bookshops are part of the soul of our city and their future is in our hands, so let's get out and support them."

--Justine Simons, OBE, London's deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries and chair of the World Cities Culture Forum (via Harpers Bazaar)

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships


Copper Dog Books in Beverly, Mass., Expanding

Copper Dog Books in Beverly, Mass., is expanding. Co-owners Meg Wasmer and Julie Karaganis will be taking over an adjacent storefront, increasing the store's size from 1,000 sq. ft. to just about 1,800. The store will be under construction for a month, and given that the two storefronts used to be one space, Karaganis and Wasmer are hoping for an "easy wall removal."

Wasmer and Karaganis, who bought the store, formerly known as Cabot Street Books & Cards, last August, have been dreaming of this possibility for a while. Prior to the pandemic, they imagined using the extra room to create a high-quality event space and wanted to add more education seminars to the store's programming. Now, they're looking forward to being able safely to accommodate social-distancing guidelines and meet more than the bare minimum of ADA requirements. They'll also be expanding the store's sidelines offerings.

While they've wanted to do this for years, they realized last November that their store could not be "the store we knew we wanted" without an expansion. In February, Copper Dog's previous neighbors started talking about moving their business, and Karaganis and Wasmer began crunching the numbers. The pandemic has made the expansion a bit of a scary prospect, they said, but their community has been very supportive, so they decided to go ahead with it.

Nubble Books in Biddeford, Maine, which is in the process of closing, is the source for most of the fixtures that Copper Dog will be adding, while An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Mass., is providing an old cash-wrap fixture.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Black Garnet Books Coming to the Twin Cities

Black Garnet Books, the only Black-owned bookstore in the Twin Cities, will debut as an online bookstore before opening as a pop-up store later this summer, CBS Minnesota reported.

Owner Dionne Sims plans to sell YA and adult books written by Black and racially diverse authors. She wants to eventually open a bricks-and-mortar location and, to that end, will launch a crowdfunding campaign in the near future. And once she has a bricks-and-mortar store, Sims also plans to have a community space available for activists.

Dionne Sims

The plan for Black Garnet Books was set in motion in mid-June, in response to the protests that began after the murder of George Floyd and the surge of support for Black-owned businesses. Sims pointed out on Twitter that Minnesota does not have a Black-owned bookstore, and she said it was her "new dream" to open one.

Even though this is an uncertain time for small businesses, Sims believes her store will be successful, and that the current wave of support for Black-owned businesses, and in interest in Black authors and Black stories, will continue.

"We're going into this with the mindset that things are different now," Sims explained. "My hope is that with this bookstore we can try to keep people thinking about it."

How Bookstores Are Coping: Parking Challenges, Safety Precautions, Tourist Influx

Zandria Senft, events coordinator at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, Del., reported that the state is still in Phase 2 of its reopening plan due to a recent spike in cases. As such, the store is still operating at limited capacity, face masks are required and hand sanitizer is available at the entrance, among other health and safety precautions.

Bethany Beach is a major summer destination, and Senft said that it is "open for business," albeit with restrictions. Masks are required in all downtown areas, except for on the beach, and the town has decided to make the vast majority of parking spaces available only for people with a Bethany Beach address. While the town has done this to try to minimize the chances of out-of-town visitors spreading the coronavirus, the restrictions have put a "huge strain" on local businesses and restaurants. Senft added that both visitors and locals are so frustrated with the parking situation that a lot of people are refusing to come into town because of it.

On the subject of summer visitors, Senft said there have not been many issues with people refusing to wear masks or choosing not to follow social distancing protocols. "Most of the summer visitors understand and, frankly, it is now the norm to wear masks."

Senft said all of the town's usual July 4th events were canceled, including the parade, a concert and fireworks, but the beach was still packed and many people were still strolling through town in the evening. Many locals and visitors also took it upon themselves to launch fireworks of their own.


A recent protest outside Northshire Books.

According to co-owner Chris Morrow, both Northshire Bookstore locations have been open for over a month now. Morrow and his team have made changes to the store in Manchester Center, Vt., and the store in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to make things safer for customers and staff. 

They've created some one-way traffic flows, put hand sanitizer stations at the entrances and in other places, and installed plexiglass shields at the registers. There are "fancy" air purifiers on every level, and the staff cleans the store routinely. Face masks are required, and Morrow said that while they've had to deal with "the occasional bonehead," people are mostly respectful and on board with social distancing.

Morrow added that his store was not directly affected by the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that began in late May, except "to be heartened by the national discussion and realization." Northshire has prominent displays in both stores regarding race, and the store has put together the beginnings of an antiracist book list.


At Island Bound Bookstore on Rhode Island's Block Island, co-owners Susan Bush and Laura Parsons have reopened on a gradual basis per state regulations. They are currently in Phase 3, meaning that masks are mandatory; customers must sanitize their hands or wear gloves; and only one person is allowed in store per 100 square feet of space. For Island Bound, that means no more than 12 people at a time. And for those who still don't feel comfortable entering the store or being with other customers, Island Bound is offering curbside pick-up and private shopping appointments.

Bush and Parsons reported that while the locals are on board with all of the safety practices, there are now hundreds of visitors in town and "too many of them" refuse to wear a mask even though it is required. Despite that, the store has only had a couple of issues with people insisting they have a medical condition precluding them from wearing masks; those shoppers were still not allowed in. The store's regular customers, however, "self-select and tend to be reasonable people."

They added that while their store has not been affected by the ongoing protests, the community holds a weekly silent march. Parsons and Bush have also set up a social justice display of around 20 titles that are relevant to the issues the country is facing.

International Update: Canada's Frankfurt Spotlight Moves to 2021, #LoveYourBookshopDay Set

Canada's Guest of Honor role at the Frankfurt Book Fair will be postponed until 2021, according to Canadian Heritage, which cited the desire for "our creators to have the largest stage possible on which to shine" as a primary reason for the decision. Three Guest of Honor countries--Spain, Slovenia and Italy--scheduled for the following years have agreed to postpone their own country spotlights each by a year.

Canada continues to plan for its presence at the recently modified 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair, and will be inviting guests to select virtual programming over the course of the event. Canadian titles will also remain on display and featured throughout the 2020 fair.

"With this postponement to 2021, our Canadian creators will be able to fully benefit from the many opportunities offered by this distinction," said Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian Heritage. "I wish to thank our Spanish, Slovenian and Italian counterparts for their understanding and flexibility in allowing us to refocus our efforts into 2021. We look forward to making next year's event even more special. In the meantime, we are eager to share our Canadian creativity through virtual content for the audience of the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020."

Frankfurter Buchmesse president Juergen Boos also expressed gratitude to the countries that postponed their appearances, adding: "At the same time, we are looking forward to all the digital activities to be presented by our Canadian partners during the 2020 Frankfurter Buchmesse. This year has presented us all with major challenges, and we've seen the international book community come together in response. This cooperation between Frankfurter Buchmesse's confirmed Guest of Honor countries is just one of many examples."


The Australian Booksellers Association said Love Your Bookshop Day will still be held this year on Saturday, October 3: "While this year's Love Your Bookshop Day may look a little different than previous years we still feel there is plenty to celebrate and maybe even more so--we are still here and we feel loved!

"The resounding message we received from bookshops around Australia over the last few months is the overwhelming love and support you received from your communities. This year Love Your Bookshop Day will be an opportunity to say thank you to your customers, book lovers and book buyers.

"Let's celebrate your resourcefulness and achievements--the many ways you have created and supported your communities. Home deliveries and phone sales to provide escape and solace, online book clubs and storytimes to keep your communities connected and entertained, virtual author events to continue promoting local authors and publishing and of course, the way you have supported each other through the sharing of ideas and words of encouragement."


Image of the Day: Through-the-Window Story Time

BookTowne, in Manasquan, N.J., hosted its first Through-the-Window Story Yime, featuring author Beth Ferry, who read her picture book Swashby and the Sea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The store set up a microphone and speaker so the kids gathered outside the store could hear. 

B&N's July Book Club Pick: Florence Adler Swims Forever

Barnes & Noble has chosen Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland (Simon & Schuster) as its July national book club selection. The book will be the focus of a live event on B&N's Facebook page featuring Rachel Beanland in conversation with novelist Ann Hood on Tuesday, August 4, at 7 p.m.

"Florence Adler Swims Forever is a nuanced multi-generational story of love, secrets and family," said Jackie De Leo, v-p, bookstore. "The booksellers at Barnes & Noble all really enjoyed this debut novel that is based on a true story from the author's family."

"Before I went back to graduate school, I was a member of not one but two book clubs, and I am so thrilled to have my novel selected as the July pick in the Barnes & Noble Book Club," said Rachel Beanland. "I cannot wait for our virtual event on August 4. I believe there's nothing better than that moment at book club when the room, or in this case the chat, erupts in conversation, everyone so excited about the book that they're talking over each other, and I hope Florence Adler Swims Forever inspires that level of discussion."

S&S Distributing Z2 Comics

Simon & Schuster is handling worldwide sales and distribution for Z2 Comics, which publishes music-related graphic novels from current top acts as well as legacy artists from Gorillaz to the Grateful Dead.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sarah Posner on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Sarah Posner, author of Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump (Random House, $28, 9781984820426).

Ellen repeat: Ali Wong, author of Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life (Random House, $27, 9780525508830).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Patrisse Khan-Cullors, co-author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250171085).

Apple Inks Overall Deal with Maurice Sendak Foundation

Apple has entered into a multi-year agreement with the Maurice Sendak Foundation to reimagine new children's series and specials based on Sendak's books and illustrations, which will premiere all over the world exclusively on Apple TV+.

Apple will work with writer, director and longtime Sendak collaborator Arthur Yorinks through his Night Kitchen Studios to develop each project inspired by Maurice Sendak's stories and pictures.

"We are delighted to be collaborating with Apple to bring the work of Maurice Sendak to screens around the world," said foundation president Lynn Caponera. "Though most know him through his iconic books, Sendak’s legacy also resides in theater, film and TV, and this partnership with Apple will further the awareness of his unique genius."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter Winner

Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded the PEN Pinter Prize 2020, honoring "a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.' "

He will receive the award October 12 in a digital ceremony co-hosted by the British Library, where he will deliver an address. During the ceremony, he will announce his co-winner, the International Writer of Courage 2020, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient is an international writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty.

"Once we had laid our nominations on the table, it took all of two seconds to agree that we had a clear and outstanding winner for the PEN Pinter Prize 2020," said judge Claire Armitstead. "Linton Kwesi Johnson is a poet, reggae icon, academic and campaigner, whose impact on the cultural landscape over the last half century has been colossal and multi-generational. His political ferocity and his tireless scrutiny of history are truly Pinteresque, as is the humor with which he pursues them."

Judge Max Porter observed: "I can think of few people who more clearly embody the power of poetry to enact change. Few post-war figures have been as unwaveringly committed to political expression in their work. He has been fearless, and relentless, but tragically his message is now more important than ever, given the Windrush scandal and the ongoing systemic demonization of the immigrant population and racial minorities in the U.K."

Judge Sharmaine Lovegrove commented: "I feel I came into the world with the sound of political and cultural activism from Linton Kwesi Johnson work ringing in my ears. His powerful words and energetic passion have guided me and many others to always interrogate and push forwards against the status quo. It's been a honor to judge the PEN Pinter Prize this year and a greater honor to be part of the collective awarding the prize to a living legend."

Reading with... Legna Rodríguez Iglesias

photo: Laura Rodríguez

Legna Rodríguez Iglesias was born in Camagüey, Cuba. Her work includes the poetry books Mi pareja calva y yo vamos a tener un hijo, Miami Century Fox and Transtucé; the story collection La mujer que compró el mundo; and the novel Mi novia preferida fue un bulldog francés, released in English as My Favorite Girlfriend Was a French Bulldog (McSweeney's, July 14, 2020, translated by Megan McDowell). Among her awards are the Centrifugados Prize for Younger Poets, the Paz Prize, the Casa de las Américas Prize in Theater and the Julio Cortázar Ibero-American Short Story Prize. Spinning Mill, a chapbook of her work, was recently published in English translation by CardBoard House Press (translated by Katerina Gonzalez Seligmann). She lives in Miami, where she writes a column for the online journal El Estornudo.

On your nightstand now:

I don't have a nightstand. I have a crib next to the bed with a baby inside. A flesh-and-blood learning book. A love book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I can list a long list of favorite books that I read as a child. But I am going to simplify it to two unforgettable titles, which are already classics of children's literature:

Momo by Michael Ende
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Your top five authors:

I'm not sure if those authors must be alive or dead, so I will say five living authors, constantly changing:

José Kozer
Herta Müller
Elfriede Jelinek
Tana Oshima
J.M. Coetzee

And then five dead authors, who also change:

Georges Bataille
Thomas Bernhard
Samuel Beckett
William Faulkner
Yasunari Kawabata

Book you've faked reading:

The Magic Mountain, too fat for my 18 years old.

Book you're an evangelist for:

When you read Faulkner novels, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. novels and Carson McCullers novels, for example, you spend a lot of time thinking about those stories, not because of what they tell, but because they are written in such a way that characters could be yourself. Light in August, Breakfast of Champions and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, they could be enough to spend a good part of my life thinking about them. Then another good part of my life talking about them. Not interpreting them, but talking about all the rash, all the sputum, all the wonder they caused.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I remember the opposite, having stopped buying very good books from Cuban authors in ugly Cuban bookstores, for some horrible cover. I hope that thanks to the cover of my book, everyone buys it (joke).

Book you hid from your parents:

My books.

Book that changed your life:

Almost all, the moment I read them, they change it for me. Never forget the way my mind changed, my body, everything, while reading The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter or Light in August, for example. I became someone else and everyone knew it.

Favorite line from a book:

Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, 'I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.' --from Light in August by Faulkner

Five books you'll never part with:

I hope to be able to keep with me each of the books of all the aforementioned authors--each and every one crossed the Caribbean Sea with me when I left Cuba. In each of my foreign moves they have accompanied me; they are my curse.

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

I can think of many, but right now, due to its validity and currency, I would like to read Breakfast of Champions for the first time, by Kurt Vonnegut, another of my top authors.

Book Review

Children's Review: Ikenga

Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Books for Young Readers, $16.99 hardcover, 240p., ages 10-14, 9780593113523, August 18, 2020)

Hugo and Nebula Award winner Nnedi Okorafor (Binti; Binti: Home) seamlessly blends southeast Nigerian culture, fantasy elements and contemporary themes in her first middle-grade novel, Ikenga, a comics-like adventure grounded in reality.

After 12-year-old Nnamdi's father, the police chief of a southeastern Nigerian town, is murdered, Nnamdi feels hopeless and angry. His mother now has to sell tapioca to make ends meet, the crime rate in the city is rising and Nnamdi hasn't avenged his father's death. If only Nnamdi could be more like his favorite superhero, the Incredible Hulk, so he could "dive into danger when it was at its worst and win."

On the one-year anniversary of his father's death, Nnamdi is visited by his father's spirit. His father gives Nnamdi an "Ikenga," an ebony figure that, the spirit explains, in Igbo means "a place of strength" and can be used as a guiding force only if Nnamdi remains calm and stays focused on the tasks at hand. With the Ikenga, Nnamdi is able to become the Man, a being "tall like an iroko tree... very strong" and "black-skinned, as if he were stitched from the night." In his new persona, he thwarts criminals--like his "father 2.0"--but he has minimal control over his powers, and Nnamdi is soon seen by the townspeople as a violent vigilante. With the help of his best friend, Chioma, Nnamdi has to learn to manage his anger so he can use the power of the Ikenga for good.

Corruption and power are two prevalent themes throughout Ikenga: criminals are treated like "Nollywood movie stars" and the town's local newsletter thrives on "embellished overblown stories." Okorafor makes these heavy topics accessible to middle-grade readers by showing them through the eyes of a kid superhero and his equally young sidekick. Nnamdi not only ticks off every box on a classic superhero's profile--dead parent, seeks vengeance, enemies with odd calling cards (such as "Bad Market... known for causing a bad smell after he'd 'collected' from people in the market")--he's also a sympathetic, vulnerable person who seeks justice yet struggles with how to achieve it. "Outspoken, upbeat, and playful" Chioma is the perfect balance to Nnamdi, who has "always been on the quiet and intense side." Her friendship, with its ups and downs, compels Nnamdi's transformative journey as she helps him learn the importance of responsibility and how to keep anger from ruling his life.

With its enduring themes, charismatic characters and exhilarating events, Ikenga powerfully shows spiritual and fantastical elements confronting real-world problems. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: In her first middle-grade novel, author Nnedi Okorafor deftly explores grief and corruption through an original southeast Nigerian Igbo superhero origin story.

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