Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 11, 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


Crow and Co. Opening Soon in Hutchinson, Kan.

Crow and Co., an independent bookstore and cafe in Hutchinson, Kan., will hold its soft opening this Saturday, the Hutchinson News reported. The store, which resides in the same storefront that used to house Bluebird Books, will carry predominantly new books across all genres, along with a smattering of used books in very good condition.

Crow and Co. will also feature a cafe, which will initially sell coffee, tea, sodas and pastries. Owner Sara Crow told the Hutchinson News that by the end of the year she hopes to expand the cafe menu to include more food options.

In addition to books, food and beverages, the store will sell a variety of items made by local artists and craftspeople. There will be greeting cards, jewelry, light switch covers, prints and more.

Crow has wanted to own a bookstore of her own for years. After Bluebird Books closed in April, she found the opportunity to do so. She has hired Cat Connolly as store manager, who has experience working in both coffee shops and bookstores. They rented the space on May 22 and officially took possession on June 1. Since then they've been busy renovating, cleaning and "plotting and planning," much of it with the help of local volunteers.

Given the realities of the pandemic, Crow and Connolly have left lots of open space, with shelves far apart. They've also limited cafe seating to just two high-top tables in the front and one large table in the back. Masks will be required for all customers and staff, and depending on how things go, they might shift to shopping by appointment.

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

The Literate Lizard in Sedona, Ariz., to Close

The Literate Lizard in Sedona, Ariz., will close its physical bookstore when the lease is up in late September. In a Facebook post Sunday announcing the decision, owner Eve Hunter wrote: "Happy #NationalBookLoversDay to all... but we have some sad news to share. After three years of being Sedona's bookstore, we will be closing our doors when our lease is up in late September. We have loved serving you, meeting you, and curating a selection of books to entice you, and your support over these past three years has been wonderful."

Noting that Covid-19 "has been tough, for sure, with our ten week closure, business still lagging since our June reopening, and an uncertain business climate looking forward," Hunter said the bookshop "might have weathered it, but with a variety of other challenges in our life, it is necessary to close at this time. We will continue as an online bookstore... and hope you will support us there for your book-buying needs. Watch this space for more news about the website. Thank you all, and keep reading!"

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

How Bookstores Are Coping: New Focus; Increased Sales

Annie Carl, owner of The Neverending Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash., reopened her store for curbside pickup in May, and reopened for browsing later in the summer--with some caveats. Customers are required to wear masks at all times, and Carl said she's had to use her "mom voice" to scold adults who were wearing masks incorrectly. Only five people are allowed in at a time, and Carl has canceled all author events for the rest of the year. While she does plan to reevaluate that decision in October, she doubts she'll be any closer to having crowds in the shop by then.

Aside from taping arrows around the store to show customers the best way to enter and exit the shop, Carl has not made many physical changes. Usually no more than two people are in store at a time, she noted, and in addition to limiting overall occupancy, she is limiting the number of people who can be in the children's room.

Annie Carl

Carl reported that most people who have come to the shop with the intention of buying books have already been wearing masks and have been good about social distancing. She has had to stop a few people without masks from coming in, and politely but very firmly tell them that they can come back when properly masked. She has also had a handful of people try to use the ADA as a reason for not wearing masks.

"When they realize they're dealing with a physically disabled bookstore owner, they backpedal pretty quickly," Carl said. She added that while she may not know the ADA verbatim, she does know how it applies to the pandemic, and it "infuriates" her when able-bodied people try to use it as an excuse to get out of wearing masks. And for actually disabled people who cannot wear masks, she is still offering curbside pickup and shipping.

When Carl moved from her original location to her current space in 2018, she turned Neverending Bookshop into a genre-focused store. During the quarantine, and in direct response to the protests that began around the country in late May against systemic racism and police brutality, she has pivoted to being a feminist, activist bookstore, as well as a genre bookshop. She's added a human studies section, which is the only nonfiction she carries, and she has drastically reshaped her genre sections to include mainly books written by women, disabled, LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC authors.

As a result, she now carries far fewer books by white and male authors. There has been some pushback from the community, she said, mainly older white men who feel attacked by the books she's brought in or her choice to remove certain books. She noted that she will still order anything a customer asks for, but she has chosen to put her time and energy toward amplifying voices that have historically gone unheard. The bookstore, she continued, now feels like a much truer representation of who she is and what she believes in.


In Zebulon, Ga., A Novel Experience has been open for browsing since July 1, reported owner Chris Curry. Up to four people are allowed in at a time and daily hours have been slightly reduced. All of her staff are back at work, and Curry noted that the store is 3,200 square feet, so there is plenty of room for social distancing.

Curry and her team all wear masks while working, and they ask customers to wear masks inside the store. Only around half of the people who come to the store bring their own masks, but those without masks will put on masks provided by the store "without too much trouble." Noting that A Novel Experience is in a rural part of Georgia where there have been few Covid cases, a sort of "it can't happen here" attitude has developed. Despite that, masks have become slightly more common in recent weeks--Curry guessed that it was because some big retail chains are now mandating masks.

Interestingly, Curry continued, sales are actually higher than normal. Locals have been very supportive of the business and parents have been turning to her to buy resources for remote learning and homeschooling. There have also been a lot of tourists coming from Atlanta and Macon to get out of the city, and they've been buying books, too.

A Novel Experience is located on Zebulon's Courthouse Square, and Curry said she and her team took part in a Black Lives Matter march and program there earlier in the summer, which were safe and very positive. Curry's co-owner is on the board of the local chapter of the NAACP, she added, and they helped plan the event. The store stayed open during that program in case any participants needed to use the restroom or wanted AC-relief, and the team displayed some posters featuring quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., which they usually display in February.

In addition to participating in that event, the store also curated a display of fiction and nonfiction books about race. Me and White Supremacy was the pick for the store's monthly Spirituality Book Group, and for the past couple meetings of the store's monthly Living Room Conversations, Curry and her team have chosen titles on policing and racism. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: James Silberman

James Silberman, "a revered book editor whose meticulousness, intuition and patience helped propel the publishing careers of a distinguished roster of authors, including James Baldwin, Marilyn French, Hunter S. Thompson and Alvin Toffler," died July 26, the New York Times reported. He was 93. Silberman was "a man who knows how to edit a manuscript, to read a manuscript and to publish a manuscript," author Elie Wiesel told the Times in 1991.

Describing his career path as "serendipitous," the Times wrote that after graduating from Harvard in 1950, Silberman enrolled in the Radcliffe Publishing Course (now the Columbia Publishing Course), was hired in the shipping department of The Writer magazine, eventually found an advertising job at Little, Brown, and then became a publicist for the Dial Press in New York in 1953. "When the company's sole editor left to have her second child, he was promoted to replace her and assumed the title that would define his vocation."

After Alfred A. Knopf, Baldwin's first publisher, rejected Giovanni's Room, Silberman picked it up for Dial, and went on to edit Another Country and The Fire Next Time. In 1963, Bennett Cerf lured him to Random House to be senior editor, and later editor in chief and publisher of adult trade books. Among the titles Silberman published were Thompson's Hell's Angels, Toffler's Future Shock, Stewart Brand's The Last Whole Earth Catalog (in association with the Portola Institute), David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest and E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel and Ragtime.

Silberman left Random House in 1975 and joined Simon & Schuster, where he launched his own imprint, Summit Books, and published notable titles like Marilyn French's The Women's Room, Seymour Hersh's The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House and Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

"Jim could see things in what I was doing as a reporter that I did not see," Hersh said, citing his books on Kissinger and John F. Kennedy. "Amidst constant negative pressure from the subjects, he never flinched and had my back all the way."

When Summit Books was eliminated in 1991, Silberman became a v-p and senior editor at Little, Brown until 1998 and established James H. Silberman Books.

In the mid-1960s, Cerf said that "the best one of all for the purposes of great corporate handling of manuscripts is Jim Silberman, who is now being made editor in chief, because he's the one willing to do all of the dirty work of seeing what happens to all of these manuscripts."

August Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for August was delivered to more than two-thirds of a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 177 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 689,993 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy (Flatiron Books).

For a sample of the August newsletter, see this one from Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Lakewood, N.Y.


'Things that Aren’t Awful About the Pandemic'

"The list of 'things that aren't awful about the pandemic' is very short," Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pa., noted, "but unexpectedly having some of our favorite booksellers back in the store, from faraway places, is definitely at the top of that short list. Their disappointment (about various cancellations, etc.) turned into something positive for us, and we are so grateful to them. Now they are moving on again, off to new horizons. Very bittersweet! Stay healthy and safe! We love you, Kenna and Meredith!"

Display Window: 'Happy Shark Week!' at The BookMark

"Happy Shark Week!" the BookMark, Neptune Beach, Fla., posted on Facebook along with a photo of the store's celebratory front window display. "Lots of good books about sharks. I say it's better to read about them and look at the pictures than to actually encounter them."


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular July Books

The two most popular books in July at Reading Group Choices were The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell (Algonquin Books) and The Wedding Thief by Mary Simses (Little, Brown).

Personnel Changes at Scholastic

At Scholastic Trade Publishing:

Liza Baker

Liza Baker is being promoted to v-p, publisher, and will be responsible for the publishing and editorial direction for the young readers' imprints of the trade publishing division, including Cartwheel, Orchard, Acorn, and Branches.

Ken Geist is becoming v-p, publisher-at-large, and will continue to head up the Pilkey Publishing program and acquire new projects as well as work with his established artists and illustrators.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stuart Stevens on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Stuart Stevens, author of It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525658450).

Movies: All Together Now; Rebecca

Netflix has released the trailer for All Together Now, based on the novel Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook), Deadline reported. Directed by Brett Haley, the film stars Auli'i Cravalho and was adapted by Quick, Haley and Marx Basch. The cast also includes Fred Armisen, Justina Machado, Carol Burnett, Rhenzy Feliz, Judy Reyes, Taylor Richardson, C.S. Lee, Anthony Jacques Jr. and Gerald Isaac Waters. All Together Now begins streaming August 28.


Eighty years after Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca was adapted by director Alfred Hitchcock, "filmmaker Ben Wheatley is returning to the source material for Netflix," IndieWire reported. The cast includes Lily James, Armie Hammer, Sam Riley, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ann Dowd. The screenplay is written by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass), along with Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (who together wrote Seberg). The film will be released October 21.

Books & Authors

Awards: Shaughnessy Cohen Political Writing Finalists

The Writers' Trust of Canada has named the five finalists for the C$25,000 (about US$18,390) Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which recognizes "a book of literary nonfiction that captures a political subject of relevance to Canadian readers and has the potential to shape or influence thinking on Canadian political life." Each finalist receives C$2,500 (about US$1,840). The winner will be announced September 23 during a digital edition of the Politics and the Pen gala. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage by Adam Chapnick
Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold R. Johnson
Claws of the Panda: Beijing's Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada by Jonathan Manthorpe
Truth Be Told: My Journey Through Life and the Law by Beverley McLachlin
Canadian Justice, Indigenous Injustice: The Gerald Stanley and Colten Boushie Case by Kent Roach

Book Review

Review: World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, illus. by Fumi Nakamura (Milkweed, $25 hardcover, 184p., 9781571313652, September 8, 2020)

Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Oceanic) stuns with her nonfiction debut, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, delightfully illustrated by Fumi Nakamura. These essays explore the natural world and the human experience, finding parallels, meaning and beauty in the intersections.

"A catalpa can give two brown girls in western Kansas a green umbrella from the sun," Nezhukumatathil begins. This is an apt and representative line: place-specific, beautifully phrased, with reference to some of the identities these essays will explore. They are mostly titled for the plants and creatures they center--peacock, comb jelly, narwhal, dancing frog--with a few exceptions, such as the expressively named "Questions While Searching for Birds with My Half-White Sons, Aged Six and Nine, National Audubon Bird Count Day in Oxford, MS." The red-spotted newt and dragon fruit that title their respective essays receive Nezhukumatathil's attentive study and yes, wonder, but the author's own experience is always a second thread. She brings a poet's ear for language and an eye for commonality and metaphor, both reverent of the natural world and specific in her personal story.

Fireflies, touch-me-nots and flamingoes offer her a way to talk about being a brown girl in a white man's world, growing up in the era of Stranger Danger and feeling disjointed between continents. A young Aimee is asked to draw an animal for a class assignment in Phoenix, Ariz. She responds with a resplendent peacock, India's national bird, but is chastised and asked for an American bird. Her bald eagle wins a prize but causes her shame. Fumi Nakamura's accompanying illustrations are whimsical and warm--who doesn't love an axolotl's smile?--and sweetly complement Nezhukumatathil's prose.

World of Wonders offers a series of brief naturalist lessons, but is perhaps at its best in drawing connections, as between the axolotl's smile and what to do "if a white girl tries to tell you what your brown skin can and cannot wear for makeup." When it goes boom, "the cassowary is still trying to tell us something." "And just like the potoo, who is rewarded for her stillness by having her lunch practically fly right to her mouth--perhaps you could try a little tranquility, find a little tenderness in your quiet. Who knows what feathered gifts await?" Wisdom, wonder and beauty make this slim collection one to treasure. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: World of Wonders is a lovely, thoughtful series of meditations, charmingly illustrated, with love and awe on every page but never shying away from the prickliness of life.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
2. The Rising by Kristen Ashley
3. Searching for Love by Melissa Foster
4. The Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley
5. Summer Beach: Coral Cottage by Jan Moran
6. The Summer Society by Elizabeth Bromke
7. The Rivals by Vi Keeland
8. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
9. Alien Paladin's Redemption (Warriors of the Lathar Book 13) by Mina Carter
10. That Swoony Feeling (Getting Lucky Book 4) by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to!]

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