Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 16, 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


Harvard Book Store Reopens for In-Store Shopping, Curbside Pickup

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., which closed temporarily to the public on Wednesday after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19, has reopened for in-store shopping and curbside pickup services, the store said. Online services, including the virtual warehouse sale, continued uninterrupted.

In-store shopping hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, "with limited capacity, a no-exceptions mask policy, air purifiers, and other safety protocols in place." Curbside pickup services are open for contactless pickup of online orders, daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

The store noted that that staff members who recently shared a shift with the affected person are not returning to work until they test negative.

The store thanked customers "for all your recent thoughtful well-wishes, and for your continued patronage."

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

Cousins' Books Pops Up in Pa. Sandwich Shop

Christopher Kardambikis and his mother, Patty Kardambikis, have created Cousins' Books, a pop-up bookstore in Bill's Sandwich Shop, which is owned by Spiros Kardambikis, the bookstore owners' father and husband, respectively. The store is in New Castle, Pa., near Youngstown, Ohio, and was featured by New Castle News.

Christopher, Spiros and Patricia Kardambikis

Christopher has been binding books by hand for nearly two decades. In 2016, he joined the faculty of George Mason University as an assistant professor. Patty recently retired as a public school administrator and is now an adjunct professor at Westminster College.

Christopher commented: "We're both book lovers and avid readers. It's always been a dream of mine to open a bookshop. Once my mom, Patty, retired as a school administrator, the timing worked out where we could both tackle a new project. We're looking forward to being able to hold community events, including book clubs and readings with visiting authors, either in person or online, when we are able."

Each month, the owners will have "cousins" recommend new titles for the shop. "This keeps our book selections fresh and surprising, and cultivates a dynamic set of interests," Christopher said, adding, "We have a broad understanding of the word 'cousin' that recognizes the importance of our chosen family and our growing community."

Books can be purchased in person, online and through the sandwich shop's drive-thru window. "If you see a book you want (online), you can call Bill's Sandwich Shop and pay for your new book at the drive-thru window along with your order of chili cheese fries," Christopher said.

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

Virginia Beach's Read Books Must Relocate

Read Books, Virginia Beach, Va., which "opened roughly nine months ago, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, and has been trying to stay afloat since," is now facing an additional challenge, WVEC News reported. 

"It's the uniqueness that brings a lot of people in," said owner Kristin Hildum. "Our landlord received a notice of violation that indicated that our aesthetic and structure--which is an Airstream trailer--did not meet shopping frontage guidelines for this area. The store would need to be removed within 30 days, and that falls on Thanksgiving."

City council member Guy Tower said additional concerns include the site being ADA compliant and the bathroom accessible: "Both of those need to be taken care of, I'm not sure they exactly can be because it's an Airstream.... I'm a big fan of the ViBe District and a big fan of bookstores. This is something I really hope the parties can work out, if I can have any role in that I'd be happy to do that."

Hildum countered that the bookstore has remodeled a ramp to the shop, building an additional handrail, and received permission to use the restrooms at the nearby Prosperity Kitchen and Pantry. She has also launched an online petition. "We wanted to know if a further investment of our time and resources was warranted.... It's very worrisome. I think the city wants a positive outcome, but I'm just not sure we can change what we are."

On Saturday, Read Books posted on Facebook: "The @cityofvabeach stands by their decision that our Airstream #bookstore does not meet the standards for 'shopping frontage' in its current location AND furthermore a bookstore may not operate in an #airstream trailer.  Finally, the date we must leave by still stands, Small Business Saturday 2020. We will not fight this decision any further. Your support through kind words and signatures helped us in ways that don't seem apparent by this decision. But, your [love] gives us the courage, as a family, to seek a new path for Read Books. Thank you and please stay tuned!"

How Bookstores Are Coping: Opening in a Pandemic; Ready for Online

In San Antonio, Tex., Nowhere Bookshop was set to open to the public for the first time on April 1. General manager Elizabeth Jordan--former CEO at BookPeople in Austin--had submitted her opening inventory orders to her sales reps the week of March 9 and was working toward hiring a full staff. By that Friday, she was calling the reps to cancel her orders, as it was clear the store wouldn't open for at least a few weeks. She had hired two full-time booksellers by that point, and has been able to keep both of them employed.

The store has been doing a robust online business that began in October 2019, selling bookstore merchandise and books signed by store owner and author Jenny Lawson. Last December, the store launched a subscription club called the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, which has 2,700 members and is "the bulk of what's keeping us afloat at the moment."

Jenny Lawson

In March, Jordan and the team set up a page, and that helped sustain things until May, when they made the decision to work toward a June 1 soft opening date. They ordered books, filled the shelves and made plans to hire and train more staff, but Texas opened up too quickly. When they saw the resultant spike in Covid cases, they pulled back on opening plans once again. In June, Nowhere Bookshop started offering curbside pick-up and online shopping of the store's full inventory, which has been the business model ever since.

When Jordan and her colleagues noticed they weren't selling many of their children's items, they launched a House Cat Kits box. It has been "really successful" and has allowed the team to "shop our own shelves for online customers." It also lets them stretch their "handselling muscles," which Jordan said "honestly feel a bit atrophied" at this point. They are toying with the idea of offering appointment shopping for the holidays, but Nowhere Bookshop is operating mostly as a warehouse at the moment. The thought of reconfiguring it into a retail space is "daunting."

Jordan reported that the store has had great support locally and internationally, and, thanks to the subscription club and steady stream of online orders, they can be "as conservative as we want to be when it comes to deciding whether to let the public in."

Jordan said she imagines that the store will continue to offer curbside pick-up even after the doors are finally open to the public. She and her team have also put a big focus on preorders this year, which have been "wildly successful," so they will continue that. They've also put as much of their non-book inventory onto their website as possible. They plan to continue doing that as well, though it "takes a bit of effort."

For the holidays, Jordan tried to be as cautious with ordering, knowing that it was likely that the store wouldn't be fully open to the public. The team focused instead on things they know will appeal to their online customers. Jordan added that they are still getting a feel for what local customers want from the store.

When asked whether they're emphasizing early holiday shopping with their customers, Jordan said they've been so busy that at times they've had to "go quiet" on social media just to catch up on orders. Holiday orders are starting to come in anyway, though, and everyone seems to have gotten the message that "this is going to be a holiday season like no other." She noted that election week was "super quiet," but after Saturday, orders started flowing in again. She hopes that bodes well for the rest of the year, and pointed out that the store is partnering with two local elementary schools for virtual holiday shopping fairs.


Deborah Day

Before the pandemic began seriously to disrupt normal life in the middle of March, Ashay by the Bay in Vallejo, Calif., held frequent outdoor events and educational conferences. Owner Deborah Day reported that that, of course, has changed, and now Ashay by the Bay focuses primarily on online sales. She added that the store's school business is still going, which has created a "major portion of our revenue."

At the store, Day and her team are doing curbside-only for now. She and her staff wear masks, wash their hands frequently, especially after handling shipments, and sanitize work spaces on a regular basis. When asked about any bright spots amid the pandemic, Day said she's always had a home office and she's been selling books online for almost 20 years. She is especially thankful now that she had her home business already set up.

On the subject of holiday buying, Day said the store has stocked up and they are encouraging people to shop early. "It's a must if we want to deliver on-time." --Alex Mutter

International Update: BA's Halls Named FutureBook Person of the Year

Meryl Halls

Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, has been named 2020 FutureBook Person of the Year. The award recognizes "individuals making a real difference in their sectors," the Bookseller noted, adding that Halls is credited with "working tirelessly for booksellers and bookshops during the pandemic, which included a three-month shutdown of bookshops' high-street stores."

"Meryl stood tall when the industry needed it; she and her colleagues at the Booksellers Association worked tirelessly to keep booksellers informed, motivated and visible during a terrible period for high street bookshops," said Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, which runs the annual FutureBook conference. "She's the deserved winner this year, but as Meryl will be the first to say, it is what she represents as well as what she does that has mattered this year."

Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books and the BA president, said: "Meryl is an inspirational m.d. and it has been a privilege to experience her tireless work to combat the effects the Covid crisis has had on bookshops. From the moment this crisis hit, she has been totally focused on what could best be done to help create an environment in which booksellers could survive and flourish.... She has been utterly brilliant."

Halls observed that "the award is something that wouldn't have been possible without the group of people I work with. The team at the BA, obviously, who work so tirelessly for our bookshops, and are a fantastically creative and mutually supportive group of colleagues, but most importantly our members. Without them, the BA wouldn't exist, and without the inspiration and energy they bring to us, we wouldn't be able to deliver what we do for the sector. So, thank you so much for the accolade; I appreciate it and feel energized and inspired anew by what it represents, which is that bookselling is regarded with the respect, affection and support it deserves."


The worldwide A Promised Land momentum was on display in New Zealand, where Beattie & Forbes Books & Post in Ahuriri, Napier, posted on Facebook: "When they say embargo they really mean it. Barack Obama's biography is out on Wednesday."


Bestselling French author Alexandre Jardin (Le Zebre, Fanfan) said yesterday that writers are prepared "to bail out rebel bookshop owners fined for opening in defiance of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown," AFP reported (via Barron's). Some bookshops in the country "have openly flouted the shutdown, backed by writers, literary critics and tens of thousands of bookworms who argue that books are essential to well-being."

Jardin told Europe 1 radio that Prix Goncourt winner Didier van Cauwelaert had offered to cover any penalty imposed on a bookshop in the city of Cannes. "The next bookshop will be me, and the next somebody else," he said, declaring that "no state has the moral right to close bookshops."

In a letter to President Emmanuel Macron, van Cauwelaert warned that restricting access to culture posed a threat to France's "precious freedom of speech."

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex raised the possibility that some shops might be allowed to reopen in December if current trends showing a decline in new infections continue. --Robert Gray


Bookseller Moment: Fairytales Bookstore and More

"Goodnight, little bookshop," Fairytales Bookstore and More, Nashville, Tenn., posted on Facebook. "We'll be open tomorrow from 11-5. Former Disney artist Keith Donaldson will be cutting silhouette portraits outside from 12-4 and we have a couple appointments still available. Please text the shop to reserve your time at (629) 777-6323. See the link in our bio for event info and Covid precautions."

Personnel Change at the Bookman

The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., reports on "new staff":

"Our most recent addition to the Bookman team--Sitka--may not be able to read, but she's cute as a button and chews like a pro! She works the 4-7 shift Monday through Wednesday and dispenses free kisses or nips, depending on her mood. (But we may be cutting her hours back as she's been known to sleep on the job.) If you're in need of a smile, Sitka's your girl."

'So Kids Get Can Have Their Own Book Over the Holiday Break'

"Isn't this a beautiful sight?!" asked Cincy Book Bus, Cincinnati, Ohio, on Facebook. "The truck is loaded down with 20 boxes filled with over 650 books equaling more than $3,000. This happy delivery will be making its way to the Cincinnati Rec Centers where they will be distributed so kids can have their own book over the holiday break. I love getting books into the hands of kids who need them most. Don't you?! Thanks to all my loyal customers! I couldn't do this without you."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barack Obama on Here & Now

Good Morning America: Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, author and illustrator of A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection (Celadon, $28, 9781250262899).

Also on GMA: Michael J. Fox, author of No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250265616). He is also on the View tomorrow.

Ellen: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134). He is also on the Today Show.

The View: Ruby Bridges, author of This Is Your Time (Delacorte, $15.99, 9780593378526).

NPR's Here & Now: Barack Obama, author of A Promised Land (Crown, $45, 9781524763169).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Cazzie David, author of No One Asked for This: Essays (Mariner, $17.99, 9780358197027).

Today Show: Dolly Parton, co-author of Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (Chronicle, $50, 9781797205090). She will also appear on Entertainment Tonight.

Good Morning America: Elizabeth Holmes, author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style (Celadon, $35, 9781250625083).

Drew Barrymore Show: Jamie Oliver, author of 7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week (Flatiron, $35, 9781250787576).

TV: Waiting to Exhale

"So, Waiting to Exhale is going to be a TV series," author Terry McMillan revealed on Twitter, adding that the project will be produced by Lee Daniels and directed by Anthony Hemingway, with Attica Locke and Tembi Locke writing the adaptation.

Deadline confirmed that the project "has long been in development at 20th Television, where Daniels currently has an overall deal in place. Hemingway will also serve as an executive producer with Richard Abate, Jermaine Johnson, and Will Rowbotham of 3 Arts. The information McMillan provided is limited and the timeline for this project is unclear."

Waiting to Exhale was previously adapted into the 1995 film directed by Forest Whitaker and starring Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon and Loretta Devine. McMillan wrote the sequel Getting to Happy, as well as How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which was adapted into a film starring Bassett and Taye Diggs.

Books & Authors

Awards: Christy Winners

The winners of the 2020 Christy Awards, honoring "the year's best in Christian fiction" and sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, are:

Debut, General Fiction and Book of the Year: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes (Bethany House)
Contemporary Romance: Now and Then and Always by Melissa Tagg (Larkspur Press)
First Novel: A Long Time Comin' by Robin W. Pearson (Tyndale House)
Historical: The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale House)
Historical Romance: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson)
Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker (Revell)
Short Form: A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall (WaterBrook)
Visionary: Hidden Current by Sharon Hinck (Enclave Publishing)
Young Adult: The Means That Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg (Bellflower Press)

Also during the virtual event, authors Tamera Alexander and Steven James were inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame.

Book Review

Review: The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief

The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief by Liz Tichenor (Counterpoint, $26 hardcover, 336p., 9781640094062, January 5, 2021)

It's been said there is nothing worse than the death of a child. When Liz Tichenor and her husband, Jesse--both in their late 20s--experienced the devastating loss of their son, Fritz, when he was just 40 days old, that idea was compounded and made even more shatteringly profound.

"There was no making sense of what was before me," Tichenor writes in The Night Lake: A Young Priest Maps the Topography of Grief, as she painstakingly traces harrowing details that begin on a cold day in January 2014. Baby Fritz begins exhibiting symptoms of an unspecific nature that seem, at first, benign. The young family of four--Liz, Jesse, their inquisitive two-year-old daughter, Alice, and infant Fritz--share a tiny cabin in Camp Galilee, a remote Episcopal retreat center located on a sloping hill just east of beautiful Lake Tahoe. With medical care miles away, Liz drives Fritz--crying excessively and expelling a small amount of bile-colored spit-up--to the closest urgent care facility.

There, the attending physician examines Fritz and runs some tests. When all return basically normal, the doctor largely dismisses the baby and gives Liz the impression she's just an overtired mother of a restless newborn. Mother and baby return home, unsettled--then, five hours later, Fritz stops breathing right in the presence of Liz and Jesse.

This launches the harrowing story of Liz's immense difficulty grappling with being an inconsolable wife and mother and, at the same time, a freshly ordained Episcopal minister, "someone professionally and academically trained to be present at heartrending times." Deepening the traumatic impact is the fact that Liz was already mired in grief, still trying to deal with her mother's suicide--she was a long-term alcoholic--18 months before Fritz's death.

Tichenor's courageous memoir is an exquisitely crafted, painfully beautiful chronicle of loss. She articulates the immensity of her feelings and emotions with unbridled candor that, at times, is difficult to read, but ultimately evokes hard-fought rebirth, resurrection and the presence of God.

For five years, Tichenor travels a rocky path toward perspective and healing, until the ravaging devastation of loss ultimately fuses into the landscape of her life. Navigating as a bereft wife and mother, a pastor, a friend and a daughter orphaned because of her mother's helplessness, Tichenor discovers that pain, joy and sadness can prove enlightening, buoying her with hope and eloquent moments of grace. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A devastatingly beautiful memoir by a young mother and newly ordained Episcopal priest who is forced to reconcile the loss of her newborn son.

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