Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 15, 2021


Union Square Kids: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston

Tor Teen: Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

Peachtree Teen: Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz and Rob Schwartz

Neal Porter Books: All the Beating Hearts by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Cátia Chien

News

More Plans for Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day 2021, April 24, is just over a week away, and more plans for the annual celebration of bookselling have been set.

The IBD festivities will get an early start on April 22 with a booksellers-only, Zoom-based literary trivia event, hosted by Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of Mental Floss and editor of Mental Floss: The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels & Novelists. The event is described as a tribute to independent booksellers and is scheduled to begin at 7:30 Eastern time on April 22. Booksellers can find more information and sign up here.

In honor of IBD, the Western National Parks Association is running a sale from April 22 until April 26. All books will be 20% off, both at the National Park Store in Oro Valley, Ariz., and online at store.wnpa.org. In addition, all nonbook items will be 15% off at the physical store, while online shoppers will have 15% off the collectibles category. On IBD itself, there will be giveaways, family-friendly activities and a variety of special offers. More information can be found here.

After its cancellation in 2020, the Seattle Independent Bookstore Day Challenge is returning this year with the 10-10-10 Challenge, a hybrid virtual and in-store event. Bookstore customers have 10 days, from April 24 until May 3, to visit the 21 participating bookstores and make purchases either in-store or online. Customers who visit 10 of those stores, fill out their SIBD passports and submit proof of purchase can then receive a limited-edition 2021 SIBD tote bag.

Purchases made through Bookshop.org, Hummingbird and Libro.fm are all valid so long as the receipts indicate the purchase was affiliated with a participating bookstore. Entries can be submitted digitally or by mail no later than May 15 and must be submitted in their entirety. Additional information about SIDB, including the full list of participating stores, can be found here.

Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt., will reopen for browsing on Indie Bookstore Day, after a "long year of operating behind closed doors." The store will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the IBD celebration will coincide with Norwich's first StoryWalk of the year, featuring Even the Smallest Will Grow by Lita Judge, and there will be live music in nearby Norwich Square.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline


International Update: Germany's Covid 'Emergency Brake'; LBF Goes Virtual; U.K. Bookshops Reopen to 'Business with a Bang'

German booksellers could still operate under the federal government's new "emergency brake" amendment to the Infection Protection Act, which would allow the same Covid-19 restrictions to apply nationwide in areas with an incidence rate of over 100, the Berlin Spectator reported. Though the restrictions state that "all non-essential shops must close," bookshops and garden centers may open along with supermarkets, pharmacies, drug stores, hairdressers and gas stations. The Berlin Bundestag and the Bundesrat still have to approve the amendment to the law.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "The 'emergency brake' will not be a matter of interpretation anymore.... The nationwide 'emergency brake' was overdue. Even though it might be difficult to hear it yet again: The situation is serious, and all of us should take it seriously."

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The London Book Fair, which had been scheduled to take place in person at the Olympia June 29-July 1, will be held virtually, the second year in a row it will be digital only. Organizers plan to return next year to an in-person format with the fair's usual spring timing, April 5-7, 2022.

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On Monday, bookshops in England and Wales "experienced a successful first day back after lockdown, with booksellers reporting queues ahead of trading hours and consistent selling across all areas," the Bookseller reported. 

"We had customers waiting outside, which was very heartwarming," said Sue Lake, director of White Rose Book Cafe in Thirsk. "The sun shone and customers started coming thick and fast into our book-café garden.... Lots of well-wishers are saying they are going round all the shops today 'because you need us don't you?'... Everyone leaves wishing us a great day which feels very encouraging. So it certainly is business as usual with a bang!"

Jane Angel of Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne noted: "We're open, it's busy, noisy and our displays have been messed up. It's perfect."

In Wales, Matt Taylor, owner of Chepstow Books, said lots of regulars visited, with the highlight being "a mum coming in with her toddler for the child's first trip into a bookshop to choose a book.... [It's been a] steady stream and expecting it to be a busy week and beyond--we've stayed open behind closed doors throughout the lockdown and have been working very intensely but it so refreshing to be able to let people into the shop to browse and find something they didn't know they were looking for."

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Cogito Books

With bookshops reopening, the Guardian asked U.K. readers "to tell us about the bookshops you are longing to browse." Here's a sampling from their responses:

"My Christmas present this year from my daughters was a year-long subscription to Mr. B's Emporium in Bath," said Taylor Joyce of Fiskerton. "I have been shielding so couldn't go out, but I love reading. I filled in a questionnaire so they could find out my tastes and I have received a book every month. The choices have been excellent, both unusual authors and subjects. I look forward in anticipation each month. It has been a life saver."

Cogito Books in Hexham "has operated a postal and local delivery service for their customers over the past year, working long hours behind closed doors," noted Jane Torday of Hexham. "Competition continues in the time of Covid--Amazon, Waterstones in the town center, another fine independent bookshop, Forum, three miles away. But I nail my colors to the mast of Cogito--I am so glad they are reopening!" 

Londoner Clodagh Hayes said Lutyens & Rubinstein "is a small gem of an independent bookshop. It has a proper neighborhood feel.... I miss popping in almost every day as I just 'happen' to be passing, inevitably leaving with another book or 10; taking my nieces to the shop to choose a book; the book clubs (which luckily we've managed to continue on Zoom); and running into another regular, having a great chat and feeling part of a community. I miss everything about the bookshop. For me, it's 'essential.' "

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Posted on Facebook yesterday by the Book Keeper, Sarnia, Ont., Canada: "Did you know that April 14, 2021 is the International Day of Pink? The 2SLGBTQIA+ community is no stranger to the bullying and violence that stems from hateful beliefs. While progress has been made towards removing these social barriers from our society, discrimination still persists. So, every year, on the second Wednesday of April, people around the world are urged to put on a pink shirt and stand in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We need to keep fighting for acceptance and equity!" --Robert Gray


GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill


Peter Kraus vom Cleff to Become New CEO of the Börsenverein

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

Peter Kraus vom Cleff will become CEO of the Börsenverein, the German book trade association, effective January 1, 2022, replacing Alexander Skipis, who has headed the organization for 15 years, Börsenblatt reported.

Peter Kraus vom Cleff has worked for more than 20 years at Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group divisions, since 2008 as commercial director of Rowohlt Verlag. Since 2012, he's been deputy chair of the publishers committee of the Börsenverein, and last year he was elected president of the Federation of European Publishers.

He commented: "For me, it's a great honor to succeed Alexander Skipis. To continue the rich and successful tradition of the Börsenverein and at the same time to grapple with social-political and technological trends in order to safeguard for the future the cultural heritage of the book are major challenges. It's an agenda that I'm taking on with respect and with trust in fruitful cooperation with the highly qualified team at the Börsenverein and its many volunteer supporters."

Börsenverein chair Karin Schmidt-Friderichs said the organization was very happy to hire Peter Kraus vom Cleff, noting, "With him, we want on one hand to continue a steady course in challenging times and on the other hand find answers to the questions raised by digitalization and the Corona crisis."

She also thanked Skipis for his "longtime, successful" commitment to the organization, adding: "He was largely responsible for making the voice of the German book industry heard nationally and internationally."


Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam


Vanderbilt Univ. Shifts to Follett from B&N

Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., has signed a 10-year contract with Follett Higher Education Group to run its campus bookstore, the Vanderbilt Hustler reported.

The bookstore is changing its name from Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt to Vanderbilt Bookstore, but will remain in the same location. It will close on May 22 and reopen under Follett's management on June 1. Minor physical updates to the space will be made throughout the summer, with all work planned to be done by the start of the fall semester. The bookstore's second-floor cafe will be removed and turned into a multipurpose space, and the store's digital services will be expanded.

"The end of the B&N contract provided an opportunity for the university to take a fresh look at a broad range of options, including the spectrum of operating models, store configurations and bookstore operations," David ter Kuile, Vanderbilt's executive director of business services, told the Hustler. The university began an internal study over two years ago, and made the decision with input from students, faculty, alumni and other groups.

Follett has reportedly made employment offers to current staff members at the B&N store "who have expressed a desire to work at the new Vanderbilt Bookstore."


Weiser Books: Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho by Laura Davila


Obituary Note: Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher, an artist, performer, speaker and author, died last week at the age of 33, just a day after the publication of her second book, Creativity and Gratitude: Exercises and Inspiration for a Year of Art, Hope, and Healing.

Oestreicher's first book, My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful, recounts how, at the age of 18, her stomach exploded the week before her senior prom. She was in a coma for months, and upon waking up she learned she might never be able to eat or drink again. Following 28 surgeries and seven years of surviving off IV nutrition, her digestive system was reconstructed. The book discusses her long recovery and her unexpected flourishing as a mixed-media artist.

Julia Abramoff, publisher and editorial director at Apollo Publishers, which published Creativity and Gratitude, called Oestreicher a "creative powerhouse." The book is filled with a year's worth of creativity prompts but, Abramoff said, "Amy could have offered a lifetime of them. As we celebrate Amy's life, we look to the book to once again hear her voice.

"On its pages, Amy is forthcoming about her health struggles and how creativity saved her. We hope to honor Amy by sharing her inspiring message and creative energy. The world needs more of that. While she has passed, her bright and encouraging words will continue to help others, offering artistic releases and reminders of all that we have to be grateful for."


Notes

Shelf Awareness's Most Clicked-On Ad of the Year

Congratulations to Brandon Kelley, senior director of marketing and operations at Little, Brown, for having the most clicked-on ad in 2020 in Shelf Awareness. We can't wait to buy him a congratulatory drink some day soon!


UJA-Federation of N.Y. to Honor Pennie Clark Ianniciello, John Rubin

Ianniciello
Rubin

The UJA-Federation of New York will hold its 2021 Publishing Awards Celebration virtually on Thursday, June 24, and honor Pennie Clark Ianniciello, who recently retired as book buyer at Costco after a 32-year career at the company, and John Rubin, founder of Above the Treeline and Edelweiss. For more information, click here.


When Bookstore 'Mail Rooms' Become Sales Floors Again

"Look at this beautiful kid's room!" River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Conn., posted on Facebook. "This spot was the heart of River Bend, until it became a box-filled mail room to accommodate web orders throughout 2020. Our booksellers have worked so hard to bring it back to life in the last couple of weeks. We still have some work to do in the main room, but if you have stopped in lately, you will have noticed all the big wire racks are gone, and it is starting to resemble the shop you love.

"Our adult staff have all had our first doses of the vaccine. We are hoping to open the shop to browsing in late May or early June once everyone is protected. I can't thank you all enough for the love and support you have shown to your neighborhood Bookshop and our incredible team of booksellers over the last year. I hope you'll join us on the lawn for Indie Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 24. There is so much to celebrate."


Personnel Changes at Macmillan Children's Publishing

At Macmillan Children's Publishing Group:

Kathryn Deaton has been promoted to marketing coordinator, from marketing assistant.

Elinor Toler has joined as marketing assistant. Previously, she was a marketing and publicity intern.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gabriela Garcia on Good Morning America

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Gabriela Garcia, author of Of Women and Salt (Flatiron Books, $26.99, 9781250776686).

Tomorrow:
Rachael Ray: Jeff Mauro, author of Come on Over: 111 Fantastic Recipes for the Family That Cooks, Eats, and Laughs Together (Morrow, $29.99, 9780062997081).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Elizabeth Nyamayaro, author of I Am a Girl from Africa (Scribner, $28, 9781982113018).

A Little Late with Lilly Singh repeat: Padma Lakshmi, author of Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day (Hachette Go, $17.99, 9780306926044).


This Weekend on Book TV: Anne Lamott

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, April 17
12:05 p.m. James Carroll, author of The Truth at the Heart of the Lie: How the Catholic Church Lost Its Soul (Random House, $28.99, 9780593134702).

2:15 p.m. Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today (Harper, $27.99, 9780062973306). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m.)

3:30 p.m. Alec MacGillis, author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374159276).

6:05 p.m. Jillian York, author of Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism (Verso, $26.95, 9781788738804).

7 p.m. Anne Lamott, author of Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage (Riverhead, $20, 9780593189696).

8 p.m. Jeff Immelt, author of Hot Seat: What I Learned Leading a Great American Company (Avid Reader Press/S&S, $30, 9781982114718).

9 p.m. Ian Millhiser, author of The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court Is Reshaping America (Columbia Global Reports, $15.99, 9781734420760). (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

10 p.m. Lisa Genova, author of Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting (Harmony, $26.99, 9780593137956). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, April 18
4 p.m. Sara Kamali, author of Homegrown Hate: Why White Nationalists and Militant Islamists Are Waging War against the United States (University of California Press, $29.95, 9780520360020).

5 p.m. Davarian L. Baldwin, author of In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities (Bold Type Books, $28, 9781568588926).

7 p.m. Deborah Willis, author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship (NYU Press, $35, 9781479809004).

7:55 p.m. Wendy Lower, author of The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544828698).

10 p.m. Ross Douthat, author of The Decadent Society: America Before and After the Pandemic (Avid Reader Press/S&S, $17, 9781476785257).

11 p.m. Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (The University of North Carolina Press, $24, 9781469661179).



Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting Winners; Jhalak and Sheikh Zayed Shortlists

The 10 winners of 2021 Whiting Awards, which "recognize excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent, giving most winners their first chance to devote themselves full-time to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work," have been announced. Each recipient receives $50,000. This year's winners are:

Joshua Bennett (poetry and nonfiction)
Jordan E. Cooper (drama)
Steven Dunn (fiction)
Tope Folarin (fiction)
Donnetta Lavinia Grays (drama)
Marwa Helal (poetry)
Sarah Stewart Johnson (nonfiction)
Sylvia Khoury (drama)
Ladan Osman (poetry)
Xandria Phillips (poetry)

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Shortlists have been released for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color as well as the inaugural Children's & YA Prize. The winning authors, who receive £1,000 (about $1,375) and a specially created work of art, will be named May 25 at a virtual event in partnership with the British Library in London.

In a new initiative from National Book Tokens, "bookshops across the country will be supporting the shortlisted titles with in-store displays and promotion across websites and social media," the Bookseller reported. NBT managing director Alex de Berry said, "Bookshops have always had a vital role in connecting local readers with new books and especially new authors. Their ability to curate the best books for their communities creates a space for new voices that could otherwise get overlooked. We're immensely proud to be able to support the connections between Jhalak and these communities."

Sunny Singh, director of the award, commented: "There is much that feels precarious, fragile and all the more precious this spring, including any progress regarding equity in publishing. However, despite the challenges, this year's Jhalak judges have selected--with much care and affection--two incredible shortlists that exemplify resilience, rebuilding, community and joy in literature. These are books that ask painful questions, are searingly honest in their confrontation with terrible realities, and courageously shine a light on aspects of human experience that often remains hidden. In doing so they offer much needed solace, inspiration and joy for our times and into the future." This year's shortlisted titles are:

Book of the Year
Antiemetic for Homesickness by Romalyn Ante 
Inferno by Catherine Cho
My Darling From the Lions by Rachel Long 
The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi 
Are We Home Yet? by Katy Massey 
Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez 

Children's & YA
The GA Picture Alphabet by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, illustrated by Avril Filomeno  
When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten 
And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando
Queen of Freedom by Catherine Johnson 
Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence 
A Fox Called Herbert by Margaret Sturton 

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The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, dedicated to celebrating Arab literature and culture, has announced the shortlists in six of its nine categories, and they can be seen here.

Winners will receive prize money of $204,181 (750,000 UAE dirhams) at a virtual ceremony in May. The Cultural Personality of the Year will receive a prize of $272,000 (1 million UAE dirhams).


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 20:

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever (Ecco, $35, 9780062802798) condenses a career of culinary travel into one guide.

The Indispensable Scratch & Sniff Guide to Cannabis by Richard Betts and Rotem Raffe (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22, 9780358129578) is a smelly guide to the world of weed strains.

For the People: A Story of Justice and Power by Larry Krasner (One World, $28, 9780593132920) is a memoir by Philadelphia's progressive district attorney.

Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power by Susan Page (Twelve, $32.50, 9781538750698) is a biography of the Speaker of the House.

The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition by Bonnie J. Kaplan and Julia J. Rucklidge (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780358447108) explores the link between nutrition and mental health.

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci (Grand Central, $29, 9781538719671) is the second thriller with World War II veteran Aloysius Archer.

Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780358418931) follows a true crime podcast host who warms up a cold case.

A Man Named Doll by Jonathan Ames (Mulholland, $26, 9780316703659) follows a private investigator moonlighting as a massage parlor bouncer in Los Angeles.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone (Scribner, $27, 9781982136352) is a psychological thriller about twin sisters, one of whom goes missing.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (Feiwel and Friends, $18.99, 9781250229588) is a YA historical mystery that takes place in 1426 in Joseon, Korea.

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen (Roaring Brook, $17.99, 9781250209153) is a queer YA enemies-to-lovers novel.

Paperback:
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Putnam, $17, 9780525541912).


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 Lost Village: A Novel by Camilla Sten, trans. by Alexandra Fleming (Minotaur, $26.99, 9781250249258). "Hearing this book described as a cross between The Blair Witch Project and Midsommar meant I could not grab it fast enough. This chilling novel, set in a remote village in Sweden, tells the story of a scrappy documentary film crew trying to find out why the entire town disappeared many years ago. The camp they set up in the town square is immediately beset with mysterious happenings that become less and less harmless. Tension mounts as they explore the mystery of where the residents of Silvertjarn went and wonder if they will meet the same fate." --Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

Red Island House: A Novel by Andrea Lee (Scribner, $27, 9781982137809). "Shay, an African American professor married to a brash Italian businessman, is seduced by the beauty and exoticism of Madagascar. The lavish Red Island House her husband builds (supposedly for her but more as a testament to his success) affords Shay a dream vacation home, but as she navigates her role as its mistress, she must also come to terms with the effects of colonialism on the people of this island nation, a people with whom she shares skin color and a legacy. Across 20 years, Lee weaves stories of those who arrogantly deem a paradise for their taking with those left grasping for what is rightfully theirs. This is a provocative tale of magic, power, and identity." --Linda Sherman-Nurick, Cellar Door Books, Riverside, Calif.

Paperback
Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore (Harper Perennial, $17, 9780062913272). "Before starting this book, you should block out the next 24 hours on your calendar because you will not be able to do anything else. Valentine is reminiscent of Disappearing Earth in its multi-voice portrayal of the vulnerability, resilience, solidarity, fury, and tenacity of girls and women in the man's world of oil-booming West Texas in the 1970s. These unforgettable characters are the spiritual sisters of Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights. I was haunted by them, I rooted for them, I've been them, and I won't forget them." --Rebekah Shoaf, Boogie Down Books, Bronx, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
More Than Fluff by Madeline Valentine (Knopf, $17.99, 9780593179055). "Cute, adorable, fluffy Daisy duck just can't take it anymore. Everyone wants to hug her, and all she wants is for everyone to stay out of her personal bubble. When her subtle hints don't quite do the trick, Daisy boldly asks her friends for wing bumps, pinky shakes, and high fives. The perfect choice for those kiddos seeking personal space or just someone needing a little 'me' time, More Than Fluff gives young readers the words to ask for what they need." --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Golden Gate (City Spies #2) by James Ponti (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781534414945). "The youngest spies at MI6 are embarking on another mission. After thwarting a kidnapping attempt on the high seas, Sydney and Brooklyn are at odds. But they'll need to figure it out if they're going to join the other spies on a mission to uncover a mole and maybe find Mother's children. I loved this second entry in the City Spies series! Once again, Ponti has taken a fantastic idea that could end up rather goofy and made it feel possible... and fun and exciting at the same time!" --Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, Ga.

For Teen Readers
Love Is a Revolution by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury, $18.99, 9781547600601). "When Nala Robertson meets the perfect guy at an activism event, she does everything she can to get to know him--including telling a few white lies that slowly but surely spiral out of control. This heartwarming story about honesty and self-love will inspire every young, plus-sized Black woman in the world to own their unique inner strength. Also, the romance is delightfully wholesome and adorable enough to satisfy any fan of the genre!" --Jason Mills, The Book Bungalow, St. George, Utah

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Know About Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages

Mergers and Acquisitions: Or, Everything I Know about Love I Learned on the Wedding Pages by Cate Doty (Putnam, $27 hardcover, 368p., 9780593190449, May 4, 2021)

In Mergers and Acquisitions, Cate Doty's first book, she gives readers a compelling, often irreverent insider's tour of her years writing wedding announcements for the New York Times. Along the way, she muses on the social and political implications of the weddings she covered, shares a few juicy anecdotes (without naming names), and reflects on her journey from hapless girlfriend to contented singleton to (eventually) a woman who suspects she might have found lifelong love.

In some sense, Doty was destined for her job as a society reporter: she harbored a lifelong obsession with weddings, often poring over clippings of family wedding announcements while playing dress-up in her mother's homemade bridal gown. But as a 20-something struggling to kick-start both a journalism career and a relationship with a man who was always walking away, she had begun to question the value of weddings, even though she still loved them.

Doty begins her story with her early days on the Times wedding desk, fielding the ramped-up emotions of politicians and actors, consultants and celebrities, as she fact-checked the myriad details of high-profile relationships. Though she changes names and identifying details, the archetypes are recognizable: the self-important senator, the powerhouse event planner, the heiress, the lawyers. She turns a critical eye on the WASP-dominated, glitzy content of the Times wedding section, acknowledging its limits and self-importance while admitting that, for a wedding obsessive, this job was the most fun she could get paid to have. 

As Doty earns her stripes as a wedding reporter--patiently chasing down the bona fides of her brides and grooms, landing a few assignments for the plum "Vows" column--she also embarks on a relationship with Michael, a colleague at the Times. Still cautious after a previous failed romance, Doty nevertheless begins to believe this guy might be "the one." The thought both exhilarates and terrifies her, especially after spending so many months seeing love (or what passes for it among the modern elite) up close. But as she searches for her true professional calling, she also learns to look honestly at her own heart and take risks (in both cases) that turn out to be worth it.

With self-deprecating wit, wry humor and a keen eye for details both ridiculous and heartwarming, Mergers and Acquisitions is a snapshot of a particular era in both journalism and the wedding industry as well as a thoughtful meditation on love itself. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Former New York Times weddings reporter Cate Doty wryly weaves together the rarefied world of high-society nuptials with her own love story.


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