Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 23, 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


Three Indies Team up to Create Books in Common NW

Independent bookstores Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Ore., Madison Books in Seattle, Wash., and Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., have teamed up to host a virtual speaker series called Books in Common NW. The inaugural event, on July 2, featured mystery writers Elizabeth George and Iona Whishaw in conversation, and every Thursday since, Books in Common NW has hosted a new author talk.

The event series grew out of conversations between Lane Jacobson, owner of Paulina Springs Books, Ariana Paliobagis, owner of Country Bookshelf, and James Crossley, manager of Madison Books, who are all on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association board of directors. 

Crossley explained that going into 2020, he had planned to make a much bigger foray into author events. His store, which opened on Iindependent Bookstore Day last year, is only around 400 square feet. In order to host larger events, he began working with other venues, and he'd lined up an event with Canadian mystery writer Iona Whishaw, who is a "rock star" in his store but otherwise not especially well known. The week that Crossley would have officially announced that Whishaw was coming to his store was also the week when it became clear that "no one would do anything like this for a while."

Crossley had the idea of doing a virtual event with Whishaw instead, and began talking with Paliobagis and Jacobson about ways he could try to bring Whishaw to the widest audience possible. From there, Jacobson said, things evolved quickly, with all three stores sharing resources.

"Pooling the audience base was a big motivation for me," Jacobson continued. If he tried to do these sorts of events himself, he said, he could drive himself crazy learning the necessary skills and then have only 10 people attend. With all three stores involved in promoting and hosting the events, the expected turnout is generally around 50-60 people. "It makes a lot more sense this way."

As soon as the three stores started working together, the scale of what they could accomplish changed. A lot of the authors they've been able to schedule for these events, Paliobagis said, are those who in the past would "never have come to my store." And many of the events involve multiple authors, which would also have been difficult for her to arrange normally.

Crossley pointed to an August event with Jeff VanderMeer and Catherynne M. Valente and noted that in the "old world," those authors would almost certainly not have done events at his store, even if they did travel to Seattle for a tour. Jacobson added that this series has also been a boon for authors who probably would not have been budgeted for a conventional book tour.

The bookstore trio has authors lined up for the rest of July and August, and are busy putting together events for the fall. There are things in the works that will coincide with Bookstore Romance Day; the release of the anthology Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort During the Time of Covid-19; and more.

Crossley, Paliobagis and Jacobson reported that they've received great feedback from their customers as well as from authors involved. The first event with George and Whishaw drew around 100 viewers, and both authors "got a kick out of it," Crossley said. Paliobagis added that she has customers who have already registered for every single upcoming event, regardless of the author, and Jacobson noted that some of his customers have said they're very happy with the events, especially some older folks who can now attend author talks from the comfort of their own homes.

"I would love to encourage other stores to band together and do this," said Paliobagis. "None of us are big stores. Find some people you work well with." --Alex Mutter

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

Monkey See, Monkey Do Becoming Pop-Up Bookseller

Monkey See, Monkey Do... Children's Bookstore, Clarence, N.Y., is closing its storefront and becoming a pop-up bookseller, effective September 1, the Clarence Bee reported.

Owner Kim Krug commented: "We reimagined our business and we're ready to start this exciting new chapter of MSMD. Our books, services and programming will still be available, just expect MSMD to 'pop-up' in more areas throughout Western New York. The time to do more together and creatively collaborate with our community is now."

The store's services this fall for both children and adults will include author events/virtual book fairs, Western New York book talks, literacy programs and princess tea parties.

Founded in 2009, Monkey See, Monkey Do... Children's Bookstore won the WNBA Pannell Award in 2012 and launched Children's Book Expo in Western New York in 2014.

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

International Update: BA Conference Re-rescheduled, IPA on Hong Kong Book Bans

The Booksellers Association Conference and Gardners Trade Show, which had previously been postponed from September to November, has been rescheduled for spring 2021 "following internal discussions and conversations with members," the Bookseller reported.

BA managing director Meryl Halls said the conference is "a fantastic chance for booksellers to network and come together as a community, and we had hoped to offer that opportunity this year. However, in the current landscape, and in line with feedback from our membership, it is clear that moving the conference to Spring 2021 is the right decision, and will be a better time for booksellers to come together and take stock. We continue to focus on supporting bookshops as they reopen and look forward to meeting in the spring to share experiences and ideas, while celebrating the consistent resilience and passion of booksellers."

Nigel Wyman, sales and marketing director at Gardners, added: "We really hoped to be able to put together a great Gardners Trade Show off the back of the success of 2019’s very well-attended event. It was with a heavy heart that we came to this decision as we know that booksellers and publishers alike have been starved of the direct interaction that makes bookselling so enjoyable and rewarding. However, we do believe this was the right decision based on the current landscape and we looking forward to welcoming you all in spring 2021 for a bigger and better event in a new venue."


In a statement, the International Publishers Association said it is "extremely concerned" by reports "that books by prominent protester Joshua Wong and Hong Kong politician Tanya Chan have been removed from public libraries and bookshops as the new Chinese Security Law is implemented in Hong Kong."

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, said: "Banned books are a worldwide problem, but these reports suggest that the impact in Hong Kong of the new Security Law will be felt immediately. It is extremely concerning. We stand with publishing colleagues anywhere who are affected by book bans and call on governments around the world to protect the right to publish freely in their countries."

IPA previously expressed concern about the situation for publishers in Hong Kong in connection with the now-closed bookshop and publishing house co-owned by Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong publisher who was the 2018 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate. Gui is currently in jail in China. The IPA continues to call for his release.


Encouraging customers to mask up is an international challenge for retailers. This week, Canadian bookseller the Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ont., posted on Facebook: "We have made the decision to make mask-wearing mandatory while shopping in the store starting Wednesday, July 22. This decision was made with the intent to protect our customers and our staff and our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you do not have a mask when arriving, we would be happy to provide you with a disposable mask or you can purchase one of our cool, awesome, fashionable reusable masks that we sell here at the store. We are happy to accommodate everyone while shopping so if you would prefer curbside pickup or delivery, we still offer those options. We hope this will encourage you to shop safely! Thank you for understanding!" --Robert Gray

B&N College to Operate Jamestown CC's Bookstore

Barnes & Noble College will manage Jamestown Community College's bookstore on the Jamestown, N.Y., campus, the Olean Times Herald reported. B&N College operates more than 770 campus bookstores and the school-branded e-commerce sites for each store.

"The changes in collegiate retailing over the last 10 years have made it difficult to retain an independent bookstore at JCC," said Ellen Ditonto, executive director of JCC's Faculty Student Association, which operates the bookstore and other auxiliary services at the college. "Our lease agreement with BNC ensures the ability of JCC's students and faculty to enjoy the buying power of a large company focused on the college market and take advantage of innovative programs that help control costs for textbooks and course materials."

Obituary Note: Susan Sizemore

Susan Sizemore, author of many romance and science fiction titles, died on Monday, July 20. She was 69.

In 1991, when she turned 40, Sizemore won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, presented to a previously unpublished author. Three days later, she sold her debut novel, a time-travel romance called Wings of the Storm. Later, she was asked to write a tie-in novel based on the TV series Forever Knight, which resulted in Forever Knight: A Stirring of Dust, which was the first time she wrote about vampires. She then began her vampire romance series Laws of the Blood and the Primes series, for which she was best known.


Image of the Day: Jack Carr Supports Local Bookseller

Author Jack Carr (The Terminal List, True Believer, Savage Son; S&S) put out a call on social media before Father's Day that he would sign/personalize books ordered through his local store, Dolly's Bookstore in Park City, Utah. Carr never put an end date on the offer, so, more than 1,600 books later, he's still signing.

B&N's August Book Club Pick: The Pull of the Stars

Barnes & Noble has chosen The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown) as its August national book club selection. The book will be the focus of a live event on B&N's Facebook page featuring Donoghue on Tuesday, August 8, at 7 p.m.

"The Pull of the Stars is an unexpectedly timely novel bringing readers to the maternity ward of a Dublin hospital during the height of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic," said Jackie De Leo, v-p, bookstore. "It is a story of war, death, birth, family traumas and independence that will leave our Book Club readers wanting to talk about it. We hope everyone is able to join us for the virtual event in September to discuss."

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Wal-Do It Yourself' Event

"In the spirit of self-distancing, but with a nod to fun," the Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C., "is hosting a Wal-Do it yourself ongoing event. Customers are welcome to take pre-printed Waldos and create their own Where's Waldo search. Pictured here is the Wal-Do it yourself Station by the cash wrap. Everyone looks forward to welcoming Where's Waldo local back in 2021!"

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Margaret Coffee has been promoted to director of sales--schools, libraries, and independent bookstores at Sourcebooks.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Trump on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mary Trump, author of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982141462).

The Talk: D.L. Hughley, co-author of Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062953704).

This Weekend on Book TV: Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, July 25
1:45 p.m. Peniel E. Joseph, author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (Basic Books, $30, 9781541617865), at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass. (Re-airs Monday at 1:55 a.m.)

4 p.m. Jacob Soboroff, author of Separated: Inside an American Tragedy (Custom House, $29.99, 9780062992192).

4:55 p.m. William Davidow and Michael Malone, authors of The Autonomous Revolution: Reclaiming the Future We've Sold to Machines (Berrett-Koehler, $26.95, 9781523087617). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

6:50 p.m. Martha Saxton, author of The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780809097012), and Craig Shirley, author of Mary Ball Washington: The Untold Story of George Washington's Mother (Harper, $29.99, 9780062456519). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

Sunday, July 26
12:40 a.m. Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke, authors of Grandstanding: The Use and Abuse of Moral Talk (Oxford University Press, $19.95, 9780190900151).

4:30 p.m. Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author of Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own (Crown, $27, 9780525575320).

9 p.m. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, author of Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman's Guide to Politics and Political Change (The New Press, $27.99, 9781620971437). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11:10 p.m. Howard Blum, author of Night of the Assassins: The Untold Story of Hitler's Plot to Kill FDR, Churchill, and Stalin (Harper, $29.99, 9780062872890).

Books & Authors

Awards: Macavity Shortlists; First Novel Prize, Crook's Corner Longlists

Shortlists in five categories have been released for the 2020 Macavity Awards, which are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends of MRI. The winners will be announced at opening ceremonies at the Virtual Sacramento Bouchercon. Check out the complete Macavity shortlisted titles here.


The Center for Fiction has announced the longlist for its 2020 First Novel Prize, consisting of 27 titles that can be seen here. Shortlisted titles will be selected in the fall, and a winner celebrated in December.


Co-sponsored by Crook's Corner, the Chapel Hill, N.C., restaurant, the Crook's Corner Book Prize Foundation has announced the longlist for the Crook's Corner Book Prize, recognizing the best debut novel set in the American South. The shortlist will be revealed in September and the winner in January 2021.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing in hardcover next Tuesday, July 28:

Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America's Biggest Mass Arrest by Lawrence Roberts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328766724) explores huge antiwar protests in spring 1971 and resulting mass arrests.

1st Case by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316418188) is a thriller about an FBI computer programmer. (July 27)

You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success by Al Roker (Hachette Go, $28, 9780316426794) is a memoir of the Today Show co-host.

When She Was Good by Michael Robotham (Scribner, $26, 9781982103637) is the second thriller with forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven.

Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life by Bill Perkins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358099765) advocates saving less money and spending more.

A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J.B.S. Haldane by Samanth Subramanian (Norton, $40, 9780393634242) is the biography of a visionary British scientist.

Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls by Jax Miller (Berkley, $27, 9781984806307) investigates a cold case from 1999 in Oklahoma.

This Is My America by Kim Johnson (Random House, $17.99, 9780593118764) is a YA exploration of racism in the U.S. justice system.

Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb by Veronica Chambers, illus. by Rachelle Baker (Dial Books, $18.99, 9780803730892) is a picture book biography about the first Black woman in Congress.

The Virus in the Age of Madness by Bernard-Henri Lévy (Yale University Press, $14, 9780300257373) is a philosophical exploration of the coronavirus pandemic.
[Editor's note: Lévy is donating the proceeds from the U.S. edition of this book to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.]

The Memory Police: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder (Vintage, $16, 9781101911815).

Would I Lie to the Duke: The Union of the Rakes by Eva Leigh (Avon, $7.99, 9780062932426).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Fresh Water for Flowers: A Novel by Valérie Perrin, trans. by Hildegarde Serle (Europa Editions, $25, 9781609455958). "Valérie Perrin's Fresh Water for Flowers is gorgeous. Reading it was almost like being baptized by Violette's presence as a cemetery keeper, in its comfort, stability, and floral surroundings. Perrin takes us into the pool of Violette's melancholic past, from first loves to devastating losses. It truly gripped each and every one of my emotions, from fear and sorrow to elation and sentimentality. Whatever I can write as a review, this book is still so much more. I'm so thankful to have read it and can't wait to share it with readers." --Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, Fla.

The Lost and Found Bookshop: A Novel by Susan Wiggs (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062914095). "This is an absolutely splendid novel that spoke volumes to me. You have a girl who experiences a tragedy that leads to a better life, despite issues and hardship along the way, and a guy right in front of her who is perfect for her though she assumes he is not. I highlighted so many passages in this book to savor and remember. This is a perfect story for bookstore lovers and lovers of books." --Patty Reed, Ferguson Books & More, Grand Forks, N.D.

The Secrets We Kept: A Novel by Lara Prescott (Vintage, $16.95, 9780525566106). "This perfect historical novel is made of the most alluring ingredients. First, a divine and doomed love affair between Russian author Boris Pasternak and his muse and secretary, Olga Ivinskaya, a woman immortalized in Pasternak's epic novel Doctor Zhivago, which was banned in Russia for more than 30 years. Second, two American women typists working for CIA and their forbidden love story in the midst of the Cold War and the witch hunt against homosexuals. Lara Prescott brilliantly portrays how a timeless novel like Doctor Zhivago can change course of history. After I finished reading The Secrets We Kept, I pressed the book against my chest, as if I could hear the lovers' hearts still beating." --Aggie Zivaljevic, Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep: Baaad Hair Day by Eric Barclay (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062677396). "Sheep Sheep finds sidesplittingly funny ways to avoid shearing day even though Sheep Dog assures her it's for the best. A hilarious follow-up to the laugh-out-loud funny Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep. 'Water chickens' may be the best thing ever." --Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12
Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone (Putnam, $17.99, 9781984816436). "After her friend gets unfairly targeted for a dress code violation, Molly Frost decides to start a podcast… and ends up starting a revolution. In her crusade to eliminate the school dress code, she and her friends discover what true friendship is all about. What an incredibly timely and important book! Firestone perfectly captures the problems of enforcing a strict dress code on young people, from stressing over the expense of school-appropriate clothing to being targeted for wearing normal clothes while having a developed body. This should be required reading in schools." --Rachel Copeland, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

For Teen Readers
Hard Wired by Len Vlahos (Bloomsbury YA, $17.99, 9781681190372). "You think you've got problems? Try imagining you're a sentient supercomputer, the first of its kind, suddenly realizing what or who you are. That's what Len Vlahos does with cleverness, suspense, and wit in Hard Wired. The result is a provocative, entertaining, fast-paced novel that explores not just the complex relationship between man and machine but what it means to be human." --Bradley Graham, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus's Wife by Ariel Sabar (Doubleday, $29.95 hardcover, 416p., 9780385542586, August 11, 2020)

If turning scraps of ancient papyrus into an enthralling true-crime escapade takes a miracle, consider Ariel Sabar a miracle worker. In September 2012, Harvard Divinity School professor Karen King shook the foundations of the Christian church when she announced the discovery of what she called "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife." Sabar, who had been following the story first for Smithsonian and then for the Atlantic, was the only journalist in the room for the presentation. The most impressive biblical scholars from around the world had gathered in Rome for an annual conference that began unassumingly and ended in a media firestorm.

The discovery had the potential to unravel millennia of church dogma surrounding sex and gender. If Jesus had been married, then the celibacy of Catholic priests would be unnecessary. Furthermore, King's reading of the torn, nigh illegible text suggested that Jesus valued women's leadership far more than his church has. But as soon as the bit of inked papyrus saw the spotlight, its provenance drew far more scrutiny than its original proponents could handle. Clumsy handwriting, horrid syntax and unsubstantiated dating set off a chain reaction of queries, criticisms and suspicions of forgery, spurring Sabar to dig far deeper than he might have imagined when he first took the assignment.

The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of My Father's Paradise transforms top-notch research skills into riveting suspense. And even as he closes in early on his prime suspect, method and motive prove to be the more baffling questions, at increasingly bizarre turns. Sabar scales mountains of primary documents, wades through hours of interviews, uncovers intrigue in East Germany during the Cold War and falls through a startling looking-glass, to find a cuckold-fetish porn franchise with mystical notions about itself, all on his uncanny search for the truth about Jesus's alleged wife.

Engrossing as the forgery thread becomes, the underpinnings for why a respected historian such as King, and a fair few of her colleagues, would so audaciously pursue a flimsy excuse for authentic scripture drive at a far more unsettling conclusion. "For as long as Christians have found God in the written word," Sabar portends in the third chapter, "the written word has given forgers the means to play God." Veritas, Latin for truth and inscribed on the Harvard seal, is an extraordinary and mind-bending adventure into ancient traditions with modern consequences. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: A revolutionary artifact and suspicions of forgery have flabbergasting implications in this shocking double-helix of history and suspense.

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