Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Grove Press: Monkey Boy by Francisco Goldman

St. Martin's Press: True Raiders: The Untold Story of the 1909 Expedition to Find the Legendary Ark of the Covenant by Brad Ricca

Jy: Kyle's Little Sister by Bonhyung Jeong

Fireside Industries: Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from Our Favorite Places by Ouita Michel, illustrated by Brenna Flannery

Atria Books: Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey

Minotaur Books: The Madness of Crowds (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #17) by Louise Penny

Editors' Note

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the rest of the week, we're taking a break to give thanks for many things, despite this difficult year, so this is our last issue until Monday, November 30. Enjoy the holidays, and may all booksellers have an excellent Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Indies First celebrations! (Feel free on Sunday to send reports about Indies First, with pictures if possible, to news@shelf-awareness.com.)


Kensington Publishing Corporation: Instamom by Chantel Guertin


News

First-Week Sales of A Promised Land Set PRH Record

At Loganberry Books, Cleveland, Ohio

After setting a first-day sales record for Penguin Random House on pub day, November 17, A Promised Land (Crown), the first volume of Barack Obama's presidential memoirs, has set a first-week sales record for the publisher.

During its first week, A Promised Land sold 1,710,443 units in all formats and editions in the U.S. and Canada, the largest week-one sales total for any book ever published by PRH. On its first day of publication, more than 887,000 copies were sold in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.K. and Ireland, the book sold nearly 150,000 units across formats in its first five days of publication and is the bestselling title in the U.K. in all book categories and formats.

A Promised Land was released a week ago yesterday in 20 languages, with translations in another six languages following soon. The hardcover U.S. edition of the book now has 4.3 million copies in print, following an initial printing of 3.4 million copies. Penguin Random House Audio also published an unabridged audio edition of the book, read by President Obama. A Spanish-language edition, Una Tierra Prometida, is available, too.


Tyndale House Publishers: Chasing Shadows by Lynn Austin


Milwaukee's Lion's Tooth Opening Next Month

Lion's Tooth, a bookstore that began as a small press and graphic novel subscription service, has found a physical location in Bay View, in Milwaukee, Wis., the Milwaukee Record reported.

The new bricks-and-mortar store will be located at 2421 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in a building that Lion's Tooth co-owners Shelly McClone-Carriere and Cris Siqueira have purchased. The bookstore will sell fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels for people of all ages, along with a selection of non-book items like prints, toys and apparel.

Due to the current surge in Covid-19 cases, Siqueira and McClone-Carriere will start with a "tiny, soft, pop-up opening period" as opposed to a grand opening. The store will open in early December, and will offer contactless pick-up for web and phone orders, as well as limited appointments for browsing. To help ensure that the store gets through its first holiday season and survives the pandemic, the co-owners have launched a new Indiegogo campaign. They are looking to raise $20,000 over the next two months.

The owners' plans for the post-Covid era, meanwhile, include turning Lion's Tooth into a community gathering space with book clubs, readings and live music. They also plan to serve beer, wine and an assortment of snacks, and they are looking into building a back patio to expand capacity.

McClone-Carriere and Siqueira founded Lion's Tooth in October 2019. In the spring they launched an initial crowdfunding campaign that raised just over $11,000.


Pantheon Books: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin


International Update: British, French Booksellers to Reopen Soon

British booksellers will be allowed to reopen December 2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of England's temporary Covid-19 lockdown, which went into effect November 5. The Bookseller reported that while the country is returning to a tougher tiered system of restrictions, none of the tiers require shops to close.

"I'm delighted to see bookshops finally reopening," said Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK. "This three weeks before Christmas is such an important period for them to be trading. There are some fantastic books in the market and I hope people get out into the high street and support their local booksellers."

Nicci Rosengarten, manager of Moon Lane Children's Books & Toys in Ramsgate, observed: "I'm sure we won't be alone in feeling nervous knowing that the Covid infection rate is so high in our area. However by taking all the prescribed precautions, together with advice and guidance from the Booksellers Association, December 2 can't come soon enough."

Hazel Broadfoot of Village Books in Dulwich, commented: "We're delighted to be able to open our doors to customers again. We've been very busy through this second lockdown--our local community is showing huge support for local businesses, and we're actually trading above last year's figures. We've done well with click and collect and with our website, but it's a tiring process selling books remotely."

Sue Steel, manager of Simply Books in Stockport, added: "It will be very good to reopen. People don't really linger long in shops and we have all our Covid arrangements in place and it all feels as safe as it can be. Our staff are happy about things too. And, yes, it will definitely help Christmas trading!"

---

Yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron outlined the government's next steps in handling the Covid-19 epidemic, including a three-phase easing of lockdown measures that have been in effect since the end of October, the Connexion reported. As of November 28, all stores, including bookshops and home services, will be allowed to reopen under strict sanitary protocol.

Before Macron announced his new guidelines, Rosalie Abirached, co-proprietor of Librairie De beaux lendemains in Bagnolet, spoke with RFI about the challenges of click-and-collect: "There's a lot more to manage. We're so submerged with e-mails, phone calls and customers coming to pick up orders that I haven't had time to organize."

The Syndicat de la librairie française noted that, after losing 93% of activity during the first confinement, bookshops saw business quickly bounce back and adapted to the health conditions. "Booksellers wanted to be considered essential services," said SLF delegate general Guillaume Husson. "Books were one of the last points of access to culture with theatres, museums, cinemas, concert halls and galleries all closed."

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Cool Christmas Idea: the English Bookshop in Uppsala, Sweden, is featuring a festive option for the holiday season: "ENJOY THE WAIT for Christmas even more this year with The English Bookshop Advent Calendar (by Stina)! FOUR SECRET and numbered gifts, one for every week until Christmas, each containing a book, a 50 gram bag of loose leaf tea and a sweet snack. All books are hand-picked by Stina, teas and snacks provided by Tehörnan Uppsala (www.teshop.se). THREE THEMES to choose between: Comfort & Joy (Feelgood), In the Bleak Midwinter (Mystery) and lastly Winter is Coming' (Fantasy)...."

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HarperCollins Canada shared "an important message from some of our favorite authors. 2020 has been a difficult year for many. We've all faced a lot of change and new challenges, but thanks to bookstore owners and booksellers across the country, books have remained a positive escape for many of us. This holiday, we encourage you to support your local independent bookstores. To help you do that, we're giving you the chance to win a $50 gift card to the local bookstore of your choosing.... Not sure which independent bookstore is in your town? Visit http://bookstorefinder.ca to discover a Canadian Independent Bookstore near you. Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!" --Robert Gray


G.P. Putnam's Sons: When We Were Young by Richard Roper


How Bookstores Are Coping: Thankful for E-commerce; Holiday Optimism

In late January, Hannah Harlow and her brother Sam Pfeifle purchased the Book Shop of Beverly Farms in Beverly, Mass., from previous owners Pamela Price and Lee Simonds Brown, who had owned and operated the store for more than 20 years. The store was closed for a couple of weeks for some renovation before reopening on February 7. The store was open for only about a month, recalled Pfeifle, before having to close because of the pandemic.

One of the first things that Pfeifle and Harlow did after buying the store was install Bookmanager. Initially, their only plan as far as e-commerce went was allowing customers to buy online and pick up in store. They had no intention of "doing any shipping," but that changed as soon as the shutdown began. They began shipping orders, offering curbside pick-up and doing local delivery, all of which are still available, while the store has reopened for browsing. 

Only two parties are allowed in store at a time and masks are required, with hand sanitizer available at the front door. The limited capacity has not been an issue yet, Pfeifle said, but historically the store is extremely busy during the holidays, in some years doing a third of its revenue in December. With the pandemic making it difficult to handle a holiday rush, he and Harlow have been getting the word out that if customers want to shop in person for holiday gifts, they should try to schedule  appointments as early as possible.

Bookhop of beverly farms interiorThe store has been doing virtual holiday book fairs with several local schools, which have been "huge." Customers purchase books through the store's website, which Pfeifle and Harlow then drop off at the schools. The Book Shop of Beverly Farms has also been doing product swaps with some other local businesses, including a mask-maker, a florist's shop and a glass-blower. While these partnerships have not been as lucrative as the book fairs, they've proven to be a great way to find new customers who are already support local businesses.

When it came to ordering for the holidays, Pfeifle explained that they've been focusing on buying large quantities of books they know their community will like, rather than "following Times bestsellers." He noted that Harlow, who previously was executive director of marketing of general-interest books at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, has a "real skill" for finding those titles. They are still worried, however, about availability issues later in the season.

Pfeifle reported that e-commerce over the past week has "been amazing," and customers have been so supportive of the store throughout the pandemic. He added that while Bookmanager's upfront cost was a little "nervewracking," it has "paid off big" and they've been "really thankful" for it.

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Courtney Flynn, vice-president and manager of Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston, Mass., reported that her store has been operating under a "new normal" since the summer. There is limited capacity for in-store browsing, and Trident is still offering curbside pick-up. Online orders continue to be a large part of the business, so operations have shifted to accommodate that. She added that while she and her team are "all pretty used to the new way of business," they are "always bracing" for another shutdown or new regulations.

The shift to online business came "hard and fast" in March, Flynn continued, but the store has since gotten a handle on online bookselling. The pandemic forced Flynn and her team to strengthen their online presence and figure out how to harness their website to drive sales. Now, their processes are much more efficient than they were earlier in the year.

When asked about any bright spots amid the pandemic, Flynn pointed to comments from customers about what the store means to them and how much they miss it. Those have been "buoys on some dark days," and she frequently tells people that they don't know how much those comments mean to the staff.

On the subject of holiday buying, Flynn said she was initially "a little erratic" when it came to orders. On some days she would feel confident and "beef up" a frontlist order, and on other days she would be more tentative and "go lighter." All in all, she was initially fairly conservative and has since been playing catch up by bumping up numbers and chasing titles that she ordered too lightly. She has been ordering in higher quantities in recent weeks and said she is feeling optimistic about the holidays.

Customers seem to have gotten the message about shopping early for the holidays, and Flynn pointed out that there have been no complaints this year about holiday items being put on display before Thanksgiving--usually she hears a "grumble or two" when that happens. The store has seen very strong sales for some bigger titles, and sidelines are moving nicely. She's already chasing a few out-of-stock titles, though, and is anticipating "a rough week or so before Christmas when a lot is out of stock." --Alex Mutter


Biden's Director of National Intelligence Nominee a Former Bookseller

Avril Haines

Among the cabinet picks announced by President-elect Joe Biden yesterday was Avril Haines, who will become the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence if confirmed. The Baltimore Sun reported that Haines had also been the first woman to be deputy director of the CIA and served as former President Barack Obama’s principal deputy national security adviser. She has worked with Biden for more than a decade.

Bookselling is part of her résumé as well. By the time she was 24, Haines had studied physics at Johns Hopkins University after receiving a degree in physics from the University of Chicago, the Sun noted, adding: "In the mid-1990s, tired of studying physics, she opened Adrian’s Book Cafe in Fells Point, an eclectic bookstore cafe at 714 S. Broadway, with her future husband, David Davighi. The store paid tribute to her mother, featuring her paintings." Among the store's events were monthly erotica literature readings, which some media have highlighted. But there was much more, of course: Adrian's Book Café sold classics, popular fiction, magazines, coffee and light fare.

"I picked a professional," Biden said. "A fierce advocate for telling the truth and leveling it with the decision makers.... I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble. Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes and running a bookstore cafe, all in a single conversation--because she’s done all of that."


West Virginia Northern Community College Drops B&N for Online Store

West Virginia Northern Community College, Wheeling, W.Va., has dropped Barnes & Noble College as its official bookseller in favor of Akademos, which in early December will begin operating a "full-service online store for course materials and branded merchandise and apparel," the Weirton Daily Times reported. B&N is in the process of closing its main bookstore on the WVNCC Wheeling campus.

"Partnering with Akademos allows us to expand the offerings and capabilities of our bookstore and to increase convenience and cost savings," said WVNCC President Daniel Mosser. "This decision contributes to our overall mission to educate and empower our students with all of the tools they need to succeed including access to a wider selection of affordable course materials and WVNCC apparel and merchandise."

Akademos CEO Raj Kaji added: "Our technology and comprehensive platform will drive student engagement with everything they need for an exceptional college experience. This will ensure each student can be prepared on day one with both affordable course materials as well as merchandise to show off their school pride."


Obituary Note: John O'Brien

John O'Brien

John O'Brien, founder of the Review of Contemporary Fiction and Dalkey Archive Press, died November 22. He was 75. "A bold, visionary publisher, O'Brien was dedicated to producing, promoting, and keeping in print, experimental works of international literature," noted Deep Vellum Publishing, which will help carry on that legacy. "Dalkey Archive Press was founded with the mission of recovering works that had fallen out of print due to market forces and making them available forever....

"O'Brien's editorial taste was unmatched.... Over its history, the press published 1,000 works of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, and scholarly works, including several Nobel Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics' Circle Award winners, as well as the Best European Fiction anthology series."

O'Brien was awarded the Sandrof lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics' Circle in 2011, and in 2015 was appointed Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts & des Lettres in recognition of his significant contribution to French arts and literature by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France.

Before his death, the Dalkey Archive's board of directors approved an agreement to merge with Deep Vellum, where publisher Will Evans will honor O'Brien's legacy by keeping Dalkey Archive's backlist in print and by signing future titles, with the assistance of editorial consultant Chad W. Post, of Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester. Will O'Brien, John's son and current president of Dalkey Archive's board of directors, will join Deep Vellum's board of directors as part of the merger.

An online memorial service to honor John O'Brien's life and work will be held December 9. Details to follow.


Notes

Indie Booksellers Giving Thanks

In the spirit of a year and a holiday season like no other, many indie bookstores are taking the time this week to give thanks in their own ways. Here's a brief sampling:

Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Maine: "We are so thankful to be located in a place which, even in the midst of a pandemic, continues to support DDG's mission to enrich our community with a shared love of reading and literacy outreach! Thank you all so much for your business. We are still here, 29 Thanksgivings and counting, because of you."

Let's Play Books!, Emmaus, Pa.: "GRATEFUL. A week prior to Cyber Monday, our incredible community members have purchased so many books online over the weekend that all our records have been shattered. These sales haven't been driven by advertising or specials, they are from our regulars, shopping early, and shopping local. Not sure how we will pay it forward, but we will."

Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.: "No matter how you spend Thanksgiving this year, we hope you are in touch with the ones you love. We are so grateful you spend a little time with us each week to share stories and great new books."

Odyssey Bookstore, Ithaca, N.Y.: "Today was our monthly staff meeting--and the timing was just another reminder of how grateful I am every day for Annie and our Booksellers: Aaron, Casey, Cordelia, Hannah and Mian. This section may be called staff picks but their tastes and opinions--knowledge and perspective have influenced and improved every shelf in the store."

Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass.: "We will be closed for Thanksgiving, and open 9-6 the rest of the week (Sunday 10-5). We are so incredibly grateful to all of you!! You have kept our spirits (and our business!) alive this past year. It's all thanks to you that we can open our doors with a smile every day. We hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and that your Monday was not as bad as this Turkey's...."

Duck's Cottage Coffee & Books, Duck, N.C.: "A pre-thanksgiving message from your friends at Duck's Cottage... we are grateful for your loyal and steadfast support."

Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.: "Happy Thanksgiving to all of our beloved customers!"

Midtown Reader, Tallahassee, Fla.: "We are so grateful to be your neighborhood bookstore! And we are also so thankful for all of the members of our Tallahassee community who understand the importance of shopping local!"

The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt.: "Another happy winner during our Week of Gratitude!"

The Toadstool Bookshop, Nashua, N.H.: "With Thanksgiving just days away, have you thought about what you'd like to do after all the turkey and fixings are put away, the last slice of pie is hidden in the back of the frig and you can just relax? How about getting a start on the your holiday cards! Let everyone know how your year of staying home has been!"


Cool Idea of the Day: UNC Press Indie Bookstore Gift Certificate Giveaway

Aiming to "spread the word about North Carolina bookstores and to support their efforts during the special challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic," the University of North Carolina Press is holding a drawing for $75 gift certificates that it purchased from 18 independent bookstores, one for each store, in the state. UNC Press is, it said, giving them away to encourage customers to #ShopIndie, #ShopSmall and #ShopNCBookstores.

"UNC Press loves independent bookstores, and we're very aware of the challenges they face today," UNC Press sales manager Susan Garrett said. "So we are very happy to support them in this way, and hopefully expand their reach and clientele, bringing them new customers not just for this holiday season, but as repeat customers."

The Press added: "Not only are these bookstores essential to the publishing business, but they are also vital community hubs where people can connect, access new ideas, and find books suited to their particular interests. The Press's home state of North Carolina is home to a wealth of spectacular indie bookstores."

Readers may enter as many giveaways as they want, either by sharing the giveaway link with others, visiting the store's website or following the Press on social media. Individuals must enter by the end of the day, Sunday, December 6, for a chance to win. For more information and a list of the stores, see the UNC Press website.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Chang on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: David Chang, author of Eat a Peach: A Memoir (Clarkson Potter, $28, 9781524759216).

Tomorrow:
Tonight Show: Jerry Seinfeld, author of Is This Anything? (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982112691).

Friday:
Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).

Ellen repeat: Chasten Buttigieg, author of I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir (Atria, $27, 9781982138127).


This Weekend on Book TV: Book Festivals

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, November 28
11:05 a.m. Michael T. McRay, author of I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World (Herald Press, $16.99, 9781513805931), at the Southern Festival of Books.

1 p.m. Author discussion on business and capitalism with Rebecca Henderson and Myrian Sidibe, at the Boston Book Festival.

1:46 p.m. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope (Vintage, $16.95, 9780525564171), at the Boston Book Festival.

2:31 p.m. Author discussion on activism and civic engagement with Eitan Hersh, DeRay Mckesson, and Catherine Sanderson, at the Boston Book Festival.

4:10 p.m. Steve Davis, author of Undercurrents: Channeling Outrage to Spark Practical Activism (Wiley, $30, 9781119669234).

7 p.m. Author discussion on the food system in the United States with Alice Waters and Saru Jayaraman, at the Bay Area Book Festival.

7:55 p.m. Douglas Ginsburg, author of Voices of Our Republic (Skyhorse, $24.99, 9781510751576). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

10 p.m. Sally Hubbard, author of Monopolies Suck: 7 Ways Big Corporations Rule Your Life and How to Take Back Control (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982149703). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. David C. Rose, author of Why Culture Matters Most (Oxford University Press, $36.95, 9780199330720). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, November 29
12 a.m. Andrew Cuomo, author of American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic (Crown, $30, 9780593239261).

1 p.m. Author discussion on pathogens and pills with Muhammad Zaman and Peter Kolchinsky, at the Boston Book Festival.

1:32 p.m. Author discussion about Silicon Valley and the future of technology with Ben Tarnoff, Monica Weigel and Dipayan Ghosh, at the Boston Book Festival.

2:16 p.m. Author discussion on women of color in tech with Ainissa Ramirez and Susanne Tedrick and Bridgette Wallace, at the Boston Book Festival.

4:45 p.m. David Vine, author of The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State (University of California Press, $29.95, 9780520300873), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

8 p.m. Author discussion on re-inventing democracy with Eric Liu, Peter Peterson and Hahrie Han, at the Chicago Humanities Festival.


Books & Authors

Awards: Costa Book Shortlists

Shortlists in five categories have been announced for the 2020 Costa Book Awards, recognizing some of the most enjoyable books published in the last year by authors living in the U.K. and Ireland. This year's shortlists feature 10 debuts, four previously shortlisted authors, two all-female category shortlists and author ages ranging from 28-74. 

Category winners, who each receive £5,000 (about $6,620), will be announced January 4, and the £30,000 ($39,715) overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year will be named January 26 at a virtual ceremony. See the complete Costa Book Awards shortlists here.


Reading with... Chris Gooch

(photo: Gabe Clarke)

Chris Gooch is a graphic novelist in Melbourne, Australia. He was selected for a 2016 TRANSIT artist residency at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) and, after publishing many short comics, made his graphic novel debut with Bottled, which received Australia's Silver Ledger Award. His second book, Deep Breaths, was a compilation of short comics, including "Mooreland Mates," which won the Lord Mayor's Creative Writing Prize. At nearly 600 pages, Under-Earth (Top Shelf Productions, November 10, 2020) is his most ambitious graphic novel to date, set in a massive underground prison-city where two pairs of inmates struggle to find connection and build meaningful lives in a broken system.

 




Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 1:

Perestroika in Paris: A Novel by Jane Smiley (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525520351) follows a runaway horse who makes a life with other animals in Paris.

It's Never Too Late: Make the Next Act of Your Life the Best Act of Your Life by Kathie Lee Gifford (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 9780785236641) includes a foreword by Dolly Parton.

Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future by Pope Francis and Austin Ivereigh (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982171865) explores how a better future can be forged from crisis.

Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner (Atria, $26, 9781982152154) is the music superstar's guide to happiness using Buddhist principles.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press, $28, 9781580059510) explores the last 150 years of American history.

Ordesa: A Novel by Manuel Vilas, trans. by Andrea Rosenberg (Riverhead, $28, 9780593084045) is a portrait of a Spanish man in personal turmoil.

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce (Grand Central, $28, 9781538762752) is a psychological thriller about a cutthroat London school.

Essentially Charli: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping It Real by Charli D'Amelio (Amulet, $18.99, 9781419752322) is by a TikTok star.

An Outsider's Guide to Humans: What Science Taught Me About What We Do and Who We Are by Camilla Pang (Viking, $27, 9781984881632) is by a scientist with Asperger's syndrome.

Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick by Jen Sincero (Penguin Life, $26, 9781984877437) looks at how to keep good habits.

Paperbacks:
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (Putnam, $16, 9780593191200).

Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen (Algonquin, $16.95, 9781643750897).

The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell'Antonia (Putnam, $16, 9780593085141).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
The Butchers' Blessing: A Novel by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House, $25.95, 9781947793781). "An extraordinary novel of quiet turmoil, filled with the clash of generations, beliefs, and realities. A beautiful tale of the strife of traditions in a changing Ireland, woven together with the threads of a modern-day mystery. Perhaps the most elegant bit is the underlying story of a girl trying desperately to hold together the traditions of men. Impossible to put down and harder to forget, this novel lingers and feels like fog." --Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories by Danielle Evans (Riverhead, $27, 9781594487330). "I have been holding my breath for Danielle Evans' next book of short stories since Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, and The Office of Historical Corrections was worth the wait. She delivers the same great storytelling, insight, and sharp cultural commentary. Her touch on themes usually associated with older people, such as redemption, reconciliation, and propitiation, moved me. I read the whole collection in two days." --Miesha Headen, Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Paperback
Written in the Stars: A Novel by Alexandria Bellefleur (Avon, $15.99, 9780063000803). "This fake-dating, opposites-attract romance is simply perfect. A social media astrologer is set up with her new business partner's actuary sister. While the date goes terribly, how helpful it would be for both of them to have a date for certain upcoming events. The two leads are wonderful, flawed women with their own baggage and hang-ups (hello, family drama!), and it's a joy to watch them fall in love with each other in spite of everything." --Lexi Beach, The Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Find Fergus by Mike Boldt (Doubleday, $17.99, 9781984849021). "Oh, Fergus. He just doesn't get hide and seek. After hiding among moose, polar bears, and skinny trees, Fergus finally discovers the perfect hiding place. But when it's time for the game to be over, Fergus is nowhere to be found. Oh, Fergus." --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Serena Says by Tanita S. Davis (Katherine Tegen, $16.99, 9780062936974). "I loved watching Serena as she worked toward becoming a YouTuber. She is so brave and put so much effort into making friends even though she's shy. A great read for everyone who is a little nervous to put themselves out there and try something new." --Haley Butler, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash.

For Teen Readers
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao (Simon & Schuster, $18.99, 9781534462458). "Gloria Chao's sophomore novel holds nothing back as it explores the deeply complicated relationship between child, parent, and community. Readers everywhere will see themselves in Chloe as she faces the ultimate decision of living her life with the safety of her parents' approval or risking it all to discover her own path--a path that might even lead to the kind of love she never knew she deserved." --Stephanie Heinz, Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Me.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Children's Review: Milo Imagines the World

Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780399549083, February 2, 2021)

Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson's Milo Imagines the World, like their justifiably celebrated Last Stop on Market Street, centers on a child's regular ride on public transportation to a destination initially unknown to readers. But while Market Street's CJ asks his grandmother why they're going where they're going, Milo Imagines the World's chartreuse-capped, bespectacled young protagonist is resigned to his circumstance and the accompanying agitation: "These monthly Sunday subway rides are never-ending, and as usual, Milo is a shook-up soda."

To pass the time while his older sister is absorbed by her phone, Milo people-watches, using a notebook to record the places he imagines his fellow passengers going after they reach their stops. For a boy wearing a suit and tie, Milo imagines "the clop clop clop of the horse-drawn carriage that will carry him to his castle." For a trio of break-dancers who cavort in Milo's train car and who, like him, aren't white, he glumly foresees that "even after the performances are over, faces still follow their every move. When they walk down the electronics aisle at the department store./ When they cross into the fancy neighborhood."

Robinson is back with his robust paint-and-collage art, which gives the New York City subway system a midcentury-modern dash. Chunky geometric shapes--pink coat, white wedding dress--stand out with brazen brightness against various train stations' determinedly industrial color schemes. To conjure what Milo puts in his notebook, Robinson switches to blunt strokes that look as though they were forged with crayons. After Milo draws a doorman scowling at the break-dancers, he decides that he "doesn't really like this picture, so he puts away his pad and turns to his reflection in the window," but not before he has scribbled on the page.

The break-dancing kids don't deserve the skunk eye from the doorman any more than Milo's mother deserves to be written off because she's in prison--the occasion, it turns out, for Milo's monthly subway rides. Milo, too, comes to understand that he must fight the impulse to judge people by their appearances. The suit-and-tie-wearing boy on the subway? He doesn't go home to a castle: he gets off at Milo's stop and, like Milo, lines up to pass through the prison's metal detector. On the subway, Milo feels "excitement stacked on top of worry on top of confusion on top of love"; readers of Milo Imagines the World will feel compassion stacked on top of heartache on top of humility on top of hope. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: In another heartbreaker from the creators of Last Stop on Market Street, a boy fantasizes about the lives of his fellow passengers as he rides the subway to visit his incarcerated mother.


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