Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 23, 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

Editors' Note


Ida's Bookshop Opening in Collingswood, N.J., Next Month

Ida's Bookshop in progess

Ida's Bookshop, a Black-owned independent bookstore focused on women authors, artists and activists, is opening soon in Collingswood, N.J., the Courier Post reported

Named for journalist, activist and early civil rights leader Ida B. Wells, the store is the sister store to Harriett's Bookshop in Philadelphia, Pa. Owner Jeannine A. Cook, who opened Harriett's Bookshop in February 2020, hopes to have Ida's Bookshop open for business on Mother's Day, May 9. Furniture has started to be delivered and Cook has her fingers crossed that it all arrives in time.

Most of the books at Harriett's are by Black women authors. The inventory is arranged around themes that Cook and her team change each month, but customers can order whatever they like. Things will operate the same way at Ida's, and Cook noted that the missions of both her bookstores are "sisterhood focused." In particular, she pointed to the many Black women who are "doing whatever they can do" to help out herself and her store.

Cook told the Post that Collingswood--which is in Camden County across the Delaware River from Philadelphia--"represents the kind of community that's ready for what Ida's is and what it represents." The bookstore is "very much mission-driven," and Cook and her team are actively thinking "about how to implement these ideas that these women committed their lives to when they were here on this planet."

When it came to naming the store after Wells specifically, Cook said Wells's legacy seemed especially relevant "because of what we're seeing with state-sanctioned lynchings. Her mission around lynching continues to inspire. Her mission to use journalism and the written word as a tool for social change continues to inspire me. I think it's going to inspire a whole generation."

In an ideal world, Cook continued, there would be a similar bookstore in every state named after women such as Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks and Toni Morrison. "There's no shortage of amazing Black women who have done work that I think that needs to be and gets to be recognized."

GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

I've Read It in Books Opens in Charlotte, N.C.

I've Read It in Books, a bookstore specializing in "classic literature and radical ideas," has opened in Charlotte, N.C., the Charlotte Observer reported. Located inside of Charlotte's Tip Top Daily Market, the bookstore debuted in October as a few shelves of books inside the record store Premium Sound.

Owner Rob Banker, who has spent the last 25 years as a software developer, began thinking of opening a bookstore or record store of his own roughly 10 years ago, following his 40th birthday. While he wasn't in the right place to do it at the time, the idea was always in the back of his mind. Last year, with much more free time thanks to the pandemic, Banker finally took the plunge.

"It was a month and a half between conception and opening," Banker told the Observer. Having no prior experience in retail, he decided to start small, with just a couple of shelves in an established store. "I always had this idea that it wasn't going to work, but I wanted to try it anyway."

When it came to stocking those shelves, he pulled titles from his own collection, asked friends and neighbors for suggestions, drew inspiration from other independent booksellers and ordered some bestsellers as well.

Banker has also launched the Mobile Free Bookstore, which provides free books for unhoused people in the Charlotte area. He most frequently set up the free bookstore at a now-cleared encampment in Charlotte.

"I can't not be involved now. I made so many connections. I don't feel like I have a choice anymore--in a good way," Banker said. "I'm not saving anyone with books, but it opened the door to finding out what they really need and getting involved."

Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam

Under the Umbrella Bookstore Coming to Salt Lake City

Kaitlyn Mahoney has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help fund the opening of Under the Umbrella: A Queer Little Bookstore, which she "envisions will be filled with books by queer authors or containing queer characters and where people's pronouns are respected and their identities are celebrated," the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Under the Umbrella will be "straight friendly, but it's queer specific," said Mahoney, who also sees the future bookstore as a way to build the LGBTQ community in Salt Lake City. She plans to create partnerships with groups like Drag Queen Story Hour and organizations that provide books to people who are incarcerated; to host queer book clubs and poetry nights; and intends to sell items like candles, stickers, pins, artwork and more made by members of the queer community.

In addition to the crowd-funding campaign, which will raise the money needed to build an inventory of several thousand books for the store, Mahoney has "received a small loan and plans to invest $70,000 of her own savings into the bookstore to pay for furniture, rent, licensing and marketing costs," the Tribune wrote.

"I knew that we needed this space just personally," Mahoney said. "But as soon as I went live with this, the response that I got from other people was overwhelming--how many people reached out and said how excited they were for a space like this to exist and how much we need it here."

As soon as she can find a location "that checks all her boxes--including a storefront accessible to people with disabilities," Mahoney is ready to go. She told the Tribune that she is "optimistic" the bookstore will be able to open by June, just in time to celebrate Pride month with the community.

"Right now, we have all of these bills going on trying to keep trans people out of sports and limiting their access to health care," Mahoney said. "It's scary. And having a place where you can go and know that anyone who's in there--as much as I can provide, right?--that they support you.... I can't even imagine having a space like that myself. I'm so excited to help create that."

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

N.Y. Comic Con Plans October Show with 'Very Limited' Attendance

New York Comic Con will return to the Javits Center October 7-10 as an in-person event with "very limited" attendance, according to parent company ReedPop. The Wrap reported "more details are still to come on how the event will work with new safety precautions in place, but for now, ReedPop has said the show will be running at 'reduced capacity' with 'very limited' attendance, face coverings will be required at all times, temperature checks upon entry, there will be increased sanitization and cleaning in the facility and enforced physical distancing, and there will be a 'firm no handshake, no high-fives, no hugs' policy."

"You're probably wondering what the heck a photo op may look like and how panel seating will work," said Kristina Rogers, U.S. comic portfolio director. "We'll be sharing more information in the months leading up to our shows, and we are committed to being as transparent as possible."

In addition to in-person events, ReedPop will run virtual programs through The company is also hosting an all-virtual "Metaverse" event June 7-13. The New York convention will take place one month before San Diego Comic-Con International's "edition" convention over Thanksgiving weekend. 

Noting that ReedPop's "number one priority is the wellbeing of the people that come to our shows," Rogers said, "We will be running all our shows with reduced capacity. With our new safety precautions in place, attendance and badges will be very limited so that we can ensure physical distancing. We're working closely with each convention center to determine how many people are permitted in the building every day and at a given time."

Binc's Survive to Thrive Applications Now Open


The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has opened applications for its Survive to Thrive grant program, which is designed to provide substantial grants to as many as 200 independent bookstores and comic shops. Applications will be accepted until May 10 at 5 p.m. Eastern, and grants will be awarded to the selected stores in early June. Fundraising for the grant program is still underway, with a goal of $2 million by the end of May. Stores can apply here

The Survive to Thrive grant program is open to bricks-and-mortar bookstores and comics shops in the U.S. and U.S. territories "that can demonstrate economic harm due to the pandemic and a solid recovery plan moving forward. The goal is to help stores that have found ways to continue meeting their communities' needs and that are overcoming the burdens created by the pandemic, helping them to thrive," Binc noted.

Judey Kalchik will manage the application process, working with a team of independent reviewers that includes Fletcher Chu-Fong, Nicole Magistro, Erica Rodriguez Merrell, Michael Tucker and Lori Tucker-Sullivan.

Binc executive director Pamela French said: "Independent bookstores and local comic shops are always adapting to changing community interests and needs. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen stores introduce creative ways to continue operating safely, jumping into online sales and virtual events almost overnight, offering home delivery and new subscription options and many other ways of staying connected to their customers and community. We have made the application as streamlined as possible. I encourage stores to apply.”

The Survive to Thrive fundraising campaign has raised more than $1 million to date and is seeking authors and comics creators to help build a pool of matching funds for the next stage in the campaign. 

Obituary Note: Susan Richman

Susan Richman

Susan Richman, longtime publishing publicity executive who was also deeply involved in the Goddard Riverside Community Center, died on Monday, April 19. She was 80.

After graduating from Cornell University, Richman began her career as a clerk typist at Charles Scribner's Sons, working her way up to senior v-p and director of publicity for the Scribner Book Companies. She also held publicity positions at Macmillan, Turner and Warner Books (which was bought by the Hachette Book Group and renamed Grand Central Publishing). She retired from Grand Central in 2009. The authors she worked with included Alan Paton, James Merrill, C.P. Snow, Reynolds Price, Leticia Baldrige, Donald Westlake, Jerry Lewis, P.D. James, Patricia Cornwall, Jack Welch and Margaret Maron.

A long-serving member of the board of directors of Goddard Riverside Community Center, Richman established and coordinated the non-profit's Meet-the-Author dinners for more than 25 years. She became involved with Goddard Riverside more than 30 years ago when her friend Nancy Kahan invited her to join a group of Crown colleagues who had decided to support the community center on the Upper West Side through a book fair. "It was one of the best things that ever happened to me," Richman recalled. "The people who make up the Goddard Community from the staff and clients to the board, committee members, dinner hosts and volunteers have enriched my life. And an added bonus was that I was able to continue to work with a wide-ranging group of wonderful authors through organizing the Meet the Author dinners."

She was also a past president of the Women's Media Group and the Publishers Publicity Association. She served on the board of Slice literary magazine, and her writings include an article on the poet John Hall Wheelock in the North American Review.

Richman loved the arts and the theatre, including movies, Broadway and opera, and found great joy in spending time with her family and many friends and colleagues. She will be greatly missed.


Image of the Day: Copperfield's Petaluma Highlights Local Graduates

In anticipation of two major events--Independent Bookstore Day and local high school graduation--Copperfield's Books in Petaluma, Calif., listed the names of every graduating senior (nearly 1,000 names) in the front window, along with an old school desk, books for graduates, and a stack of adhesive gold stars. High school seniors have been coming in, posing for pictures in the window, and putting stars next to their names on the wall.

"It's a bittersweet time," said Copperfield's kids specialist Patty Norman. "Most of these kids have spent hours in our store throughout their childhoods; we thought it only appropriate to honor them after this very odd and bumpy senior year."

Pictured above: Wally and Vivian, two of the graduating seniors who have worked at Copperfield's throughout the pandemic and, as Norman put it, "have literally helped keep us open," found their names highlighted in yellow.

Window Display: Books Are Magic

Posted on Facebook by Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.: "As Horace Mann wrote, a house without books is like a room without windows. This Indie Bookstore Day we're celebrating having lots of both! Inspired by our very own store windows, this new design is *clearly* a winner. We just made these new pieces live on our website for the ordering or swing by this weekend and grab one! Many thanks to our model Serena!!"

Chalkboard Redux: Avid Bookshop

"Our doors are staying closed for your safety and ours. We're shipping books daily." Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., recently shared a photo of its sidewalk chalkboard from "almost exactly a year ago. Alas, the caption... is still pretty much the same, though now of course we are offering contactless curbside pickup in addition to shipping. We know many of y'all are more than ready to resume in-store shopping. The urge is probably even stronger if you're fully vaccinated now. We get it. The thing is, it's not time yet. But that doesn't mean we haven't been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to plan for the future.

"I truly appreciate your patience as Rachel, Luis, and I continue to do what we think is right for our booksellers, our customers, and the community at large. We do want to reopen--none of the booksellers got into this gig because they wanted to work at an online bookstore. Nope, we're here because we value face-to-face connection with readers of all ages. Please trust me when I say that we are working thoughtfully and deliberately to get back to being a bookshop that's a dream to browse. A bookshop where you can get the book you came in to find along with a few that caught your eye and called out to you. A bookshop where you can meet authors, bond with strangers over shared interests, and encounter a book you'd never heard of that will end up changing your life."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

In the Sourcebooks marketing department:

Cristina Arreola has been promoted to marketing manager for Sourcebooks Landmark.

Stefani Sloma has been promoted to associate marketing manager for Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Tiffany Schultz has been promoted to assistant marketing manager--retail marketing & creative services.

Media and Movies

Movies: Field Notes on Love, Along for the Ride

Dove Cameron (Powerpuff, Descendants) and Jordan Fisher (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) will star in the Warner Bros/HBO Max movie Field Notes on Love, based on Jennifer E. Smith's 2019 YA novel, Deadline reported. Co-adapting are Smith and Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls). Appian Way's president of production Jennifer Davisson and Phillip Watson are producing. Fisher is executive producing.


Screenwriter Sofia Alvarez (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You) will reteam with Netflix to write and direct a film adaptation of Sarah Dessen's YA novel Along for the Ride, Deadline reported.

The project, which marks the directorial debut for Alvarez, stars Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Kate Bosworth, Laura Kariuki, Andie MacDowell, Dermot Mulroney, Genevieve Hannelius, Samia Finnerty, Paul Karmiyran, Marcus Scribner and Ricardo Hurtado.

Books & Authors

Awards: Stella Winner; International Booker Shortlist

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld has won the A$50,000 (about US$38,620) 2021 Stella Prize, sponsored by the Wilson Foundation and "celebrating Australian women's writing."

Organizers described The Bass Rock, published in the U.S. by Pantheon, as "a novel that weaves together the lives of three women across four centuries. It explores the legacy of male violence and the ways in which these traumas ripple and reverberate across time and place for three central female characters. Each woman's choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life."

Chair of judges Zoya Patel said, "The Bass Rock is a consuming and perplexing book, one that forces the reader to think and engage with the unique narrative structure, but in a way that feels effortless, so engaged are you by the story. This is a novel that demonstrates the author's versatility of style, with the separate narrative parts each having an individual voice. And yet, at no point does the book feel disjointed. Instead, it is as though Evie Wyld has chosen each and every word with precision, building a novel that is a true work of art."

The winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award and the European Union Prize for Literature and nominated for many others, Wyld is part owner of Review, a small bookshop in London.


The shortlist for the International Booker Prize, honoring books translated into English and published in the U.K. or Ireland, has been announced. The winner will be announced June 2; the £50,000 (about $69,400) prize money will be divided equally between the winning author and translator. The shortlist:

At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop, translated by Anna Moschovakis from French
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell from Spanish
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut, translated by Adrian Nathan West from Spanish
The Employees by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken from Danish
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale from Russian
The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard, translated by Mark Polizzotti from French

Reading with... Will Thomas

photo: Justin Greiman

Will Thomas is the author of the Victorian historical series featuring Scottish detective Cyrus Barker and his Welsh assistant, Thomas Llewelyn; the series includes Some Danger Involved, Fatal Enquiry, Old Scores, Blood Is Blood and Lethal Pursuit. His 12th Barker & Llewelyn novel, Dance with Death, was just published by Minotaur. Thomas lives in Oklahoma.

On your nightstand now:

The Dark Heart of Florence by Tasha Alexander. She loves the Victorian era as much as I!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. The concept of creating your own world as you like it has stuck with me ever since.

Your top five authors:

Charles Dickens, Robert B. Parker, George MacDonald, Rex Stout and Jane Austen. I started reading Dickens in middle school and he's the reason I wanted to become a writer. There are few things I love more than the gumshoe world of Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin. And I devour each Parker book in a sitting or two.

Book you've faked reading:

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. I've tried a dozen times to read it, but I always lose the thread in the middle, even though I enjoy Conrad's other works.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I've seen Sherlockians savage this book, the final in the series, when according to them Doyle's faculties were failing. I think it's marvelous and the canon would be poorer without it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Leslie S. Klinger. When you put the three books together, the spines form a portrait of Holmes.

Book you hid from your parents:

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. There's a woman on the cover wearing nothing but gold paint!

Book that changed your life:

The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft by George Gissing. Gissing was such a melancholy writer, but he inspired me enough to try a character like this of my own, a certain Thomas Llewelyn.

Favorite line from a book:

"If they but knew it almost all men to some degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings toward the ocean with me." --Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Five books you'll never part with:

The Virginian by Owen Wister. It's almost a primer for manhood.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. Proves by itself that the Victorians had a sense of humor.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. I'm obsessed with this book, left unfinished by Dickens.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I must have read this 30 times, but I always enjoy it.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. When you realize what sort of life they would have had, this family in Regency England, it changes the whole book.

Book you want to read again for the first time:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling. I read it at the insistence of a friend. Now I wish I could start it again fresh and new.

Something more fun than collecting books:

Absolutely nothing!

Book Review

Review: A Peculiar Combination

A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver (Minotaur, $26.99 hardcover, 304p., 9781250780485, May 11, 2021)

Electra "Ellie" O'Donnell has always been proud (if a bit conflicted) to be part of her family's safecracking operation. She knows it's morally questionable work, but it helps augment the earnings from her uncle's locksmithing business, and she enjoys the challenge of conquering a tricky lock. But when Ellie and Uncle Mick are caught robbing a house one night, she suspects they've been set up. Ashley Weaver begins an intriguing mystery series with the first of Ellie's adventures, A Peculiar Combination.

Weaver (A Deception at Thornecrest) keeps the English setting of her Amory Ames series, but moves to a different era: 1940, when most Londoners are waiting to see if the Nazis will invade their homeland. Ellie's cousins, Colm and Toby, are both off doing their bit for the war, and Ellie and her uncle are keeping busy with work (both upfront and illegal). When they're apprehended after a seemingly routine jewel theft, Ellie is surprised to be offered a job in exchange for her freedom: helping Major Ramsey, a British intelligence agent, retrieve a set of crucial documents and switch them out for fakes. She doesn't have much of a choice, since the major is using her uncle as leverage, but Ellie's pride and patriotism motivate her to say yes to the assignment and to keep going after the initial retrieval doesn't go as planned. Weaver builds a satisfyingly tricky plot while sensitively exploring the complex motives driving both Ellie and the major to do their work.

Ellie is a sharp-eyed, witty narrator, fiercely loyal to her family and proud of her skills not only in safecracking but in survival. Weaver drops a few clues to Ellie's history, setting up a larger narrative arc for future books: Ellie was born in Holloway Prison, but her story is more complicated than simply having a criminal mother. Similarly, although the case involving this particular set of sensitive documents wraps up in the end, Ellie suspects (and rather hopes) she hasn't seen the last of Major Ramsey and his intelligence operation. Readers who love period dramas, romantic tension and whip-smart heroines will hope not, too.

Filled with vivid historical details, late nights under a London blackout and characters from all classes who aren't quite what they seem, A Peculiar Combination is a sparkling addition to Weaver's oeuvre and a highly enjoyable start to a new series. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Mystery novelist Ashley Weaver's series launch set in 1940s London features a whip-smart safecracking heroine and satisfyingly tricky plot.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Happy Interdependent Bookstore Day!

Now what kind of an attitude is that, these things happen? They only happen because this whole country is just full of people who, when these things happen, they just say these things happen, and that's why they happen!"

--Mrs. Marcus (Ethel Merman) in the 1963 movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I don't need to tell you that tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day in the U.S. and Canada. And that's not all. Today is UNESCO World Book and Copyright day as well as World Book Night. It's a big weekend for booklovers. 

"Covid-19 and the various lockdowns it has necessitated, have reminded people how valuable books can be in providing lifelines from one person to another, in creating human connections when those connections have been threatened in our regular day to day lives," Jamie Byng, WBN founder and Canongate CEO, observed in a recent blog post. "So anything that can foster further connections, that can short-circuit the process by which a book is placed in the hands of a new reader, feels like something we should all be encouraging."

Canadian bookseller Hilary Atleo, co-owner of Iron Dog Books, Vancouver, B.C., told the Sun that Canadian Independent Bookstore Day "is really important as an idea. As an idea of how much bookshops contribute to our communities and how much we are places of organization, of gathering and networking with each other, and of ideas.... What I love about Independent Bookstore Day is it isn't about I'm an independent store, you should shop with me. It's about saying independent bookstores are a part of the community. Part of the heart of our communities and we should support all of them."

Cathy Jesson, owner of Black Bond Books, Surrey and Canadian Independent Booksellers Association board director, said: "Beyond their support of the Canadian literary ecosystem, independent bookstores are pillars of their local communities. They offer inclusive space for important dialogue and cross-generational community engagement. And, when this is over, they will be a place for coming together once more."

Words are our business. I like literary ecosystem. It goes well with independent. If you own a bookshop, or work in a bookshop, or sell the books you've written in bookshops, or even--may Gutenberg's ghost bless you--buy books from bookshops, you've been using that incantatory term independent for a long time. We really love the word; it's literally how we define ourselves. An independent bookseller is not just a concept or wish. It is a statement. 

And yet, over the past year we have also been reminded once again that indie booksellers are members of a vulnerable community who somehow find strength in their ability to adapt to circumstances and help one another when times are tough. Under the lethal threat of Covid-19, bookstores have survived by using tools both old (the bicycle, USPS) and new (upgraded online sales tools, Zoom). They've found a "new place" to complement their temporarily off-limits physical "third place." And they continue to communicate frankly with customers and colleagues about the ongoing challenges of staying in business. 

A literary ecosystem has certainly helped sustain bookselling life during the pandemic. Independence is a wonderful concept, and IBD/CIBD a great way to celebrate it. For a long time, however, I've thought we should give equal weight to the word interdependent when talking about bookshops. 

Independence and dependence are dual forces that make the book world work only when they are in harmony. Independent booksellers depend upon their patrons. People wanting to--choosing to--buy books directly from indies is no small miracle these days. Of course, booksellers would love to have even more of them make that choice regularly, and continue to search for strategies, even during troubled times, to encourage such habits. That is a key part of the job description.

Booksellers also depend on colleagues and friends throughout the book trade, nationally and internationally. These connections have been invaluable during the past year, the literary ecosystem thriving on mutual sustenance.

So, we celebrate another Independent Bookstore Day tomorrow. It will be better than last year because booksellers know a lot more about what they are up against and have many reasons for a momentary sigh of relief. But while independence will be justifiably highlighted this weekend, I'd also like to raise a glass to toast interdependence. As Black Bond's Jesson told the Sun, "Everyone rallying together on one day is a powerful reminder to carry the support through the rest of the year."

In this mad, mad, mad, mad world, a single book moving from one pair of hands to another still seems like a miracle. Despite the fervid belief Mrs. Marcus had in establishing personal control over fate when "these things happen," our individual superpowers are limited. Independent may just be too small a word to encompass what tomorrow's festivities symbolize, but we'll celebrate (masked-up or online or outside or whatever it takes) anyway. Happy Interdependent Bookstore Day.

--Robert Gray, editor

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