Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 26, 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


Ballyhoo Books Opening in Alma, Mich.

Ballyhoo Books will open at 111 W. Superior St. in downtown Alma, Mich., on Independent Bookstore Day, August 29. Because of Covid-19 state-mandated restrictions on retail businesses, founder/proprietor Dawn Daniels is postponing a "grand opening" celebration gathering until a future date when it is safer to host a public gathering.

Describing herself on the store's website as "a native Michigander and unrepentant bibliophile," Daniels noted that the bookshop's "mission is to build and sustain a fiercely independent, creative, and consciously curated bookstore dedicated to the cultivation of community through the provision of safe space for both public dialogue and personal exploration.... ​Beyond books (and extended family & friends), her passions include theatre art, music, and community building. Ballyhoo Books is the realization of a life-long imagining."

In the inaugural Ballyhoo Books e-newsletter, Daniels wrote: "What a wild ride this has been! It seems an eon has passed since the seemingly crazy seed idea was planted on January 24, 2020, by John and Dawn Hall of Treasures Resale Shop (my amazing retail space partners and co-conspirators) that I consider doing more than rent a small booth-space from them to sell some of my own books. While owning and managing a bookstore was something I had often fantasized about (what true-blue bibliophile hasn't?), it was not at all the direction I thought I was heading at the time. But here we are... and I'm over the moon happy to have had the opportunity to take yet another creative leap in my vocational life."

She told the Morning Sun: "I think every booknick's fantasy at one time or another is to own their own bookstore. But I kind of just walked into this. It just kind of blossomed and all came together very quickly."

Although a deal was struck near the end of January and work on the new bookshop began, "things changed quickly when the Covid-19 pandemic struck putting everything on hold," the Morning Sun wrote.

"It was pretty intense," said Daniels. "The pandemic put a pause on everything especially during March and April. Starting a small business is risky at any time. You can plan and plan but still have no guarantee of success." She had hoped to open during the annual Highland Festival over Memorial Day weekend, but it was canceled. "That was probably a blessing in disguise. This is my first venture into entrepreneurship and it gave me time to slow down, do more research and get the business lined up better."

In her e-newsletter, she observed: "We want very much for Ballyhoo Books to become an enduring presence in this community and region. We all know the value of this enterprise--a business that seeks to serve and build community. In this fear-filled and fractured time we live in, it seems even more essential."

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

Glendale's Abril Bookstore Moving

Abril Bookstore, an Armenian bookstore and cultural center in Glendale, Calif., is moving to a new, smaller location, the Mirror-Spectator reported. Owner Arno Yeretzian will be moving the bookstore from its home of more than 20 years to a 1,100-square-foot space in a shopping center filled with other Armenian businesses. Because of the reduction in space, the store and cultural center will no longer have an attached art gallery.

Abril Bookstore dates back to 1978. It grew out of Abril Printing and Publishing, which Yeretzian's parents founded in 1977 as Abril, the first Armenian-language magazine in Los Angeles. The bookstore opened a year later in an adjacent storefront on Sunset Boulevard. Abril was known for importing Armenian titles from the Soviet Union and became a community center for L.A.'s Armenian population. In 1998 the bookstore moved from Hollywood to Glendale.

In 2019, Abril Bookstore and the attached Roslin Gallery became part of Yeretzian's Siramarg Cultural Center Foundation. Prior to the pandemic, Abril hosted weekly movie nights and music nights in addition to other events. After reopening following the mandatory shutdown, Yeretzian said he was heartened to see a lot of new customers stop by.

"That gives me a hope, a purpose to continue to work," he told the Mirror-Spectator. "I can still have a healthy business, but not with that rent in this building."

In the last few weeks before the move, Yeretzian will hold a clearance sale.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

International Update: Philippines Chain NBS Denies Mall Store Closures; New Pearson CEO

In the Philippines, chain bookseller National Book Store strongly denied a social media post that has been circulating, claiming the company would be "closing branches in expensive malls. Only stand-alone shall stay. Going online."

In a statement posted on the company's Facebook page Monday, NBS wrote that it "would like to assure all our partners and customers that this story is not true. Despite the significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, National Book Store is working tirelessly to adapt to the difficulties posed by the current situation and continue providing every Laking National with books and supplies. In fact, the support given to us by our mall partners, especially Ayala, Robinsons, and SM, in whose malls most of our stores are located, has given us a chance to focus our energies in trying to overcome this crisis and continue to serve our customers and communities."

Conceding that "a small number of non-performing locations" might be evaluated for closure or downsizing as part of the company's normal course of business, NBS said "the vast majority of stores nationwide will remain open."


Andy Bird

Andy Bird, most recently president and chairman of Walt Disney International, has been appointed CEO of Pearson, subject to shareholder approval, the Bookseller reported. A non-executive director at Pearson, Bird was appointed to the board May 1. Current CEO John Fallon, who joined in 2013 and announced his departure last December, will step down from the board when Bird assumes the position on October 19, but is expected to stay on as an adviser until the end of 2020.

"We are delighted to have secured someone of Andy's caliber, after an extensive search and selection process," said Pearson chair Sidney Taurel. "Andy brings a wealth of international consumer experience, as well as significant expertise in building brands, transformational change and driving digital innovation. He is an inspirational and dynamic leader with an excellent track record of growth."

Taurel also thanked Fallon for his "outstanding contribution spanning over two decades with Pearson."


Photo gallery: Xinhua shared pics of readers at a bookstore during the South China Book Festival in Guangzhou, which opened to the public on August 21 and runs until August 31. --Robert Gray

How Bookstores Are Coping: Difficult 'Daily Ritual'; The 'Toughest Time'

Family Book Shop in DeLand, Fla., offered curbside pick-up, home delivery and shipping throughout April and May and reopened for browsing in June. Since then, co-owner Kerry Johnson and his team have maintained a capacity of no more than 10 people in store at a time. He noted that the store is 6,000 square feet, so it has been easy to allow for social distancing, and he and his staff clean frequently. 

Johnson said there have been no real problems with mask-wearing, as those who have forgotten to bring their own have accepted the store's disposable masks. There are many senior citizens in the area and quite a few still opt for curbside pick-up. He added that the store will be hosting in-store events for Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday, and he is hoping to keep the crowd small and to make sure that everyone enters and exits the store smoothly.

One silver lining of the pandemic, Johnson said, is that people do seem to be reading more, but the store still faces the "daily ritual" of customers comparing prices and delivery when the store doesn't have a particular title in stock. And while it does help that the store carries new and used books, he is still "at the whim of publishers, distributors and delivery services" when he runs out of titles like Stephenie Meyer's Midnight Sun or Mary Trump's Too Much and Never Enough.

When asked about ordering for the fall and holiday season, Johnson said they still have to get through the election season first and added that he hopes the store can get enough product in a timely manner. Lately the store has had problems getting recent titles back in stock and, combined with postal delays, it's becoming difficult to satisfy customers. That, of course, leads to them looking at "giant online retailers."

After protests swept the country in late May and early June, Family Book Shop set up a display of books pertaining to social justice and race relations. Johnson noted that these titles have sold very well in the past month or so.

Johnson also wanted to give a shout-out to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation for all the support and help that it provided.


In San Jose, Calif., Hicklebee's has gone from being open seven days a week to five, with a maximum of six customers allowed in store at a time. Co-owner Valerie Lewis said the store has had to cut back the number of in-store staff by about two-thirds. No more than two or three staff members are working with customers at a time, while there are four ordering and receiving staff who stay in the back of the store while maintaining distance. All employees and customers wear masks, and spray disinfectant bottles are spread throughout the store.

There have been no problems with mask compliance or resistance to social distancing, Lewis added. Her customers have been supportive and they appreciate that the store is open.

On the subject of the wildfires burning throughout Northern California, Lewis said it's been very smoky, which has kept customers indoors. Several of the bookstore staff live in the Santa Cruz Mountains and have been standing by, "cars filled with what we can evacuate." Things look more promising yesterday than they have the past few days, she noted.

When it comes to her plans for the holiday season, Lewis said she's going to have less of a title spread in store compared to past years. She and her team hope to "hone in" on an inventory that covers customers' needs, and they plan to create book bundles to recommend as gifts. Lewis said the store's social media accounts will be major parts of these plans.

"It's been the toughest time I remember in the 41 years we've been in business," said Lewis. "But it has also forced us 'out of the box,' to come up with ways to serve our customers during a pandemic."

Obituary Note: Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy, "the journalist, commentator and pop sociologist whose bestselling book Passages helped millions navigate their lives from early adulthood to middle age and beyond," died August 24, the Associated Press reported. She was 83. Published in 1976, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life "immediately caught on with a generation torn by the cultural revolution of the time, sorting through mid-life struggles, marital problems, changing gender roles and questions about identity."

"It occurred to me that what Gesell and Spock did for children hadn't been done for us adults," Sheehy wrote. "It's far easier to study adolescents and aging people. Both groups are in institutions (schools or rest homes) where they make captive subjects. The rest of us are out there in the mainstream of a spinning and distracted society, trying to make some sense of our one and only voyage through its ambiguities."

While Passages "helped set off a conversation that lasted for decades," Sheehy was criticized for overgeneralizing and focusing too closely on affluent professionals, the AP wrote, adding that the author "acknowledged shortcomings, notably that there was much to say about life after age 50." Her subsequent books included Silent Passage: Menopause; New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time; Understanding Men's Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men's Lives; Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence; and a 2014 memoir, Daring: My Passages.

The New York Times noted that Sheehy, who was "a lively participant in New York’s literary scene and a practitioner of creative nonfiction, studied anthropology with Margaret Mead. She applied those skills to explore the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and ’70s and to gain psychological insights into the newsmakers she profiled.... She was a star writer at New York magazine and later married its founder, Clay Felker, who encouraged her to write 'big' stories."

Sheehy's honors included the National Magazine Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a citation from the American Psychological Association. A Library of Congress survey named Passages one of the 10 most influential books of modern times.

In a 2016 commencement speech at her alma mater, the University of Vermont, she said, "Whenever you hear about a great cultural phenomenon--a revolution, an assassination, a notorious trial, an attack on the country--drop everything. Get on a bus or train or plane and go there, stand at the edge of the abyss, and look down into it. You will see a culture turned inside out and revealed in a raw state."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Remember You Will Die
by Eden Robins
GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Despite the title, Eden Robins's Remember You Will Die is a joyously enlivening masterpiece. Only dead people inhabit the pages of this novel, their stories revealed predominantly through obituaries ranging from deeply soulful to hilariously delightful. As Christa Désir, editorial director for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks, promises, it's "a book about life and art and loss and being human and messy." By 2102, the singularity has long happened, and an AI called Peregrine learns that her 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, is dead. Unraveling this requires a three-century excavation of relationships, cultures, science, history, and brilliantly sourced etymology. Désir predicts "a cult classic" that readers will want to "immediately pick back up... to find more Easter eggs and clues." Eden Robins could have the singular bestseller of the year. --Terry Hong

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 9781728256030, 
October 22, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


The Alabama Book Store in National Register of Historic Places

The Alabama Book Store, currently operating as Bamastuff, in Tuscaloosa, is one of three properties in the state that are now part of the National Register of Historic Places, WTVY reported. The Alabama Historical Commission stated that the bookstore was established in 1938 and opened its University Boulevard location in 1942. The property was nominated for its local significance as the longest-operating collegiate bookstore in Tuscaloosa. According to the nomination, written by Gene Ford, the business "has been an integral part of the educational experience at the University of Alabama" for more than 80 years.

The Alabama Book Store was also recognized for its architectural significance, WTVY noted. The building was designed by Alabama architect David O. Whilldin and is described as an "excellent example of Depression Modern architecture in Tuscaloosa."

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Tishana Williams has joined Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in the newly created position of brand manager, novelty & licensed publishing. Williams has held positions in Disney's Consumer Products Group, where she focused on Disney Licensed Publishing, and, most recently, at Authentic Brands Group.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eden Grinshpan on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Eden Grinshpan, author of Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780593135877).

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

TV: The Essex Serpent

Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) will star in an adaptation of Sarah Perry's novel The Essex Serpent for Apple TV+, which has ordered the project to series from See-Saw Films (The King's Speech, Top of the Lake), Deadline reported.

Directed by Clio Barnard (Dark River, The Selfish Giant) and written by Anna Symon (Mrs. Wilson), the project is exec produced by Knightley, Barnard and Symon alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Patrick Walters, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Andrea Cornwell will serve as producer.

Books & Authors

Awards: Christopher Winners

Eleven books for adults and young people, along with nine winning TV/cable programs and feature films, were celebrated as winners of the annual Christopher Awards, which honor writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose works "affirm the highest values of the human spirit." This year's winning book titles are:

Grace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes (St. Martin's)
No Surrender by Chris Edmonds (with Douglas Century, HarperOne)
The Second Mountain by David Brooks (Random House)
What Is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander (Tyndale Momentum)
When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan (Grand Central)

Young people
One More Hug by Megan Alexander, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata (preschool & up, Aladdin/S&S Children's Publishing)
Sergeant Billy by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Kass Reich (kindergarten & up, Tundra Books)
Gittel's Journey by Lesléa Newman, illustrated in period style by Amy June Bates (ages 6 & up, Abrams Books for Young Readers)
The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young (ages 8 & up, Wendy Lamb Books)
Crushing the Red Flowers by Jennifer Voigt Kaplan (ages 10 & up, IG Publishing)
A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese (YA, Scholastic Press)

Reading with... Helen Macdonald

photo: Bill Johnston Jr.

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, illustrator and naturalist, and an affiliated research scholar at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of the award-winning H Is for Hawk, as well as a cultural history of falcons, titled Falcon, and three collections of poetry, including Shaler's Fish. Macdonald was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, has worked as a professional falconer, and has assisted with the management of raptor research and conservation projects across Eurasia. She now writes for the New York Times Magazine, and her latest book is Vesper Flights (Grove, August 26, 2020).

On your nightstand now:

There's always a huge pile; more than once I've been woken by it toppling onto me. Right now, among others, there's an advance reader's copy of Eley Williams's novel The Liar's Dictionary; Ted Chiang's Exhalation: Stories; Colson Whitehead's Nickel Boys; Omar Sakr's poetry collection The Lost Arabs;an ancient paperback of Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar; Gregg Mitman's Reel Nature; and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing's The Mushroom at the End of the World

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was a solitary, nature-obsessed child, and adored Brendon Chase by Denys Watkins Pitchford, who wrote under the pen name BB. It's a children's novel from 1944, the story of some posh schoolboys who run away from home to live in a forest, and I desperately wanted to be one of them, despite being not posh, not a schoolboy and having a happy life at home.

Your top five authors:

This is the hardest question. In fact, an impossible question, and I don't think I can answer it. Apart from Shakespeare, because Shakespeare. But perhaps I can answer it this way: some writers have a very peculiar effect on me: after reading them I always want to sit down and start writing. Among them are W.G. Sebald, Henry Green, Tommy Pico, Phil Klay, Jeff VanderMeer, Marilynne Robinson.

Book you've faked reading:

I've pretended to read a lot more Dickens than I actually have. A lot.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Elena Passarello's Animals Strike Curious Poses. I think it might be the best book on animals I've ever read. I'm constantly giving it to people.

Book you've bought for the cover:

It's a modern paperback edition of Rex Warner's The Aerodrome, published by Vintage UK. The novel is a fable about the rise of English fascism, so disturbingly relevant to our historical moment. This edition has a rendition of an aircraft propeller on the cover, and the book comes with a striped plastic insert sheet that sets up interference patterns if you move it over the cover image--it makes the propeller move and rotate. It's magical.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't hide any books from them. But I don't think I owned any that would have disturbed them. Like most of my teenage friends, I used to search out literary erotica at other people's houses while on babysitting duties. I have friends my age from Australia and America who did this too: it was clearly an international phenomenon in the 1980s.

Book that changed your life:

Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara started me writing poetry. William Gibson's Neuromancer turned me into a teenage sci-fi nerd as well as a nature nerd. David Matless's monograph Landscape and Englishness changed my thinking about the ways in which culture, history and nature coincide. And of course, T.H. White's Sword in the Stone, which I read very young, started me on the path that ended with writing H Is for Hawk. 

Favorite line from a book:

I have lots of favorite lines, but only one that I've had by heart ever since first reading it. It's the opening of Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett: I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-headed mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called a shirt a shoit. Yes, I read a lot of hard-boiled fiction at university when I should have been reading 16th-century poetry.

Five books you'll never part with:

R.F. Langley, Collected Poems
Frank O'Hara, The Collected Works of Frank O'Hara
Elena Passarello, Animals Strike Curious Poses
John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney and Dan Zetterström, Collins Bird Guide

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

Douglas Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture blew me away when it came out in 1991. Reading it with all the self-absorption of youth, it felt, back then, as if it had been written just for me. But perhaps I don't want to read it again for the first time, so many years later, the world the way it is. It'd be hellishly poignant and I'd probably burst into tears. 

Book Review

Children's Review: Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It

Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Brian Pinkney (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardcover, 224p., ages 8-12, 9780316536776, September 29, 2020)

"So name it what you want. Call this oration. Truth-talking. Preaching. Speechifying. Testimony. Recollection." Indeed, Loretta Little Looks Back, the vivid tale of one Black family's multi-generational experience living as sharecroppers in Mississippi, feels distinctly more aural than written. Coretta Scott King Award winner Andrea Davis Pinkney (Martin Rising) uses three vignettes to recount chronologically the triumphs and tribulations of Loretta, Roly and Aggie B. Little.

The opening scene is told by Loretta, who sets the tone for the struggling family of poor Black folk living on white people's land. Her adopted brother, Roly, follows, his perspective providing an amiable yet stoic bridge between Loretta's harrowing tale and that of his tenacious daughter, Aggie B. The book draws to a close with the three reunited and resolute to continue the fight for equality.

The lyricism Pinkney infuses into each character's monologue-like exposition well suits a middle-grade audience, presenting in an age-appropriate format difficult subject matter such as the violence surrounding the civil rights movement. Aggie B. describes activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who "showed what Billy-Club Bully brutality can do. Testified about hatred and pain. Spoke for so many of us. Described the tangle of emotions that had gotten all knotted-up inside me." Pinkney expertly weaves other historical events of the 1950s and 1960s--such as the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the 1968 Democratic National Convention--into the storyline.

The book also contains extensive backmatter--an author's note, an artist's note, "real-life notables" mentioned in the book, and explanations of "The Dramatic Form" and "Sharecroppers in the American South." Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winner and Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney (the artist for Martin Rising), says he "drew inspiration from the gels used in theatrical lighting" and used opaque watercolors and India inks to enhance the dimension and emotion in the characters. His illustrations provide an artistic levity to the intense subject matter, gently reminding readers that there is beauty to be found while navigating life's hardships.

Pinkney's theatrical staging of the three narratives in concrete yet separate points in time results in a book that reads at times like a collection of one-act plays knit together through a genealogical stream of consciousness. The Littles never downplay the injustices they and other African Americans in the South face daily, but a striking element of this evocative tale is the fierce love they share for the state they call home. --Rachel Werner, Hugo House and the Loft Literary Center faculty

Shelf Talker: Historical fiction is presented in lyrical form in this middle-grade read about Black sharecroppers navigating the repressive Jim Crow laws.

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