Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 12, 2021

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen


N.Y.'s Golden Notebook Opens Children's 'Store Within the Store'

The Golden Notebook Bookstore, Woodstock, N.Y., has opened the Little Golden Notebook, a children's bookstore, on its second floor.

The 500-square-feet space features books, activities and toys. The store also will offer a full range of kids' events, including story hours, reading clubs and author events. The space begins with a gate at the top of the stairs that, the store wrote, "opens to a secret garden, a celebration of childhood dreams. [Children] can search for picture books on their own, sit down and read, or share them with friends, beneath a canopy of the moon, stars and Overlook Mountain out the window and across the second floor."

The remaking of the space, once used as an office and for events, was a community undertaking. A feature of the space is a mural of local wildlife done by Will Lytle, a Hudson Valley artist and illustrator of Thorneater Comics. Myoshin and Kevin O'Brien of the Kevin O'Brien studio helped with interior design.

Scott Risdal of Risdal Homes built the shelves and banquets and "even managed to straighten some of the uneven lines of our uniquely Woodstock building. But have no fear, we maintained a few of those crooked lines we love. They're part of the Golden Notebook's history, after all."

And Dennis O'Clair and his team at Joyous Home Handyman helped with painting, carpet laying, bookshelf hanging--"even crystal ball polishing."

The store noted that in 2010, when the Golden Notebook almost closed, the building that housed the specialty children's store, the Golden Bough, was sold in a separate sale. Gaela Pearson, the manager and creator of that space, stayed as the Golden Notebook's children's buyer and has done "so much more since then," the store noted. "The Little Golden Notebook is most capably stocked with 40 years of her valuable book buying experience."

The second-store space became available when the Golden Notebook opened a pop-up store several miles away in Nancy's Artisanal Creamery, a coffee and dessert space at the Bearsville Music Complex, where it intended to move all its events--just as the pandemic started. The Golden Notebook began hosting events at the music complex this past weekend.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Too Fond of Books Opens in Tahlequah, Okla.

Valerie Reece and Tom Jefferson have opened Too Fond of Books, a new and used bookstore with titles for all ages, in Tahlequah, Okla. The store, which has 1,200 square feet of selling space and carries around 70% new books, officially opened on June 25.

Too Fond of Books has a particularly strong emphasis on books for children and teens, with a special board book room and custom shelving for books for pre-readers. Beyond that emphasis on children's literature, Jefferson and Reece plan to rely on community feedback and requests to help them build the store's inventory. They are also committed to having affordable options at the store, including used books.

"We felt like the community really needed us to be cost conscious," said Jefferson. "We were very interested in the bookstore not as a source of income but as a resource for the community."

Jefferson noted that he is a big fan of poetry, while Reece loves British historical murder mysteries, and as the store grows they'd like to expand those collections. Reece, meanwhile, has led the charge on sidelines, sourcing a variety of book-related greeting cards, bookmarks and mugs from the website Faire.

Reece and Jefferson also plan to follow the community when it comes to planning events. They own a lot adjacent to the bookstore, which Jefferson said would "work nicely for outdoor readings or concerts." The idea is to "have the community identify needs that we can help fill."

While Jefferson and Reece are both lifelong readers, they are physicians by trade. They first started thinking about opening a store in 2018 after purchasing a commercial building in Tahlequah. With apartments upstairs and "half of the downstairs left over," they were trying to figure out what sort of business would make sense. Many people in the community suggested things like bars or boxing gyms, but Jefferson and Reece felt that wasn't the best idea given the residential units in the building. Said Jefferson: "We basically realized it would be really fun to sell books."

The children's section

In February 2019 they attended a Paz & Associates boot camp, and after doing more research and meeting others who were also interested in bookselling, they "felt like it was still where we wanted to go." They began to get the store ready while still working their day jobs, gradually bringing in bookshelves, renovating and decorating the space and creating signage and a logo. They moved full time to Tahlequah, where Reece grew up, in late 2019. In early 2020, however, "walk-in businesses went to Hades in a handbasket" with the start of the pandemic.

After that they "really backed off," feeling they were not sufficiently prepared to start the bookstore as an online-only business. For most of 2020, they simply bided their time, but started to acquire inventory toward the end of the year. As the pandemic began to ease in the spring, they felt they needed to start.

"Folks had been waiting a couple years very patiently," said Jefferson, laughing. "We weren't sure if their patience would wear out."

Despite the long wait, the community has been very supportive, and both Reece and Jefferson have been "pretty darn impressed" by the response. One of the first people to stop by on the store's first day was a member of the creative writing faculty at nearby Northeastern State University, who inquired about partnering with the store to host events.

Tahlequah happens to be the capital of the Western Cherokee Nation, and the store also received a visit from a Cherokee author who writes books in both English and Cherokee. The author inquired if Jefferson and Reece were interested in carrying any Cherokee language books, which they very much are. Looking ahead, they'd love to find ways to help support the Cherokee Nation's language preservation programs. Said Reece: "We want to be part of that solution if we can, if they need it."

Jefferson stressed that the "really important" thing is letting the community guide their efforts. "We don't want to lead the community but follow their interests and the community's growth." --Alex Mutter

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

Blackstone Creates Multimedia Division Headed by Brendan Deneen

Blackstone Publishing is creating a new multimedia division and hired Brendan Deneen as director of media, TV & film to head it, Deadline reported. He will be in charge of "mining Blackstone's backlist and creating new IP for both publishing and adaptation opportunities."

Deneen was mostly recently president of literary and IP development at Assemble Media, and earlier was an executive editor at St. Martin's Press and Tor Books, where he also created and ran the parent company's book-to-film division, Macmillan Entertainment. Before Macmillan, he was a book-to-film executive for Scott Rudin and at Miramax/Dimension Films. He started his career at William Morris, working for literary agent Owen Laster.

Blackstone CEO Josh Stanton said, "We are fortunate to have someone of Brendan's experience, successes and stature join our company. Especially at this time in our evolution as we expand from a role as a traditional publisher to a media company that encompasses publishing, printing, manufacturing, film and TV, video games and other forms of entertainment, Brendan's expertise, contacts and knowledge will go a long way to propel us into those areas more quickly and fully."

Deneen called Blackstone "a forward-thinking company that understands the value of IP, in both the publishing and multimedia industries. This new position will allow me to combine all of the skills I've honed over the past two decades--editor, producer, author, agent--into a single focused role within an extremely versatile publishing company."

At Assemble Media, Deneen developed and sold multiple books to publishers, and set up many book-to-film and TV projects. In his new role, he will continue his relationship with Assemble, including a new short story magazine, Artifacts, produced by both companies. (Several of the stories in the first issue have already been optioned.)

Blackstone's catalog has more than 13,000 audiobook titles, and the company publishes for Disney, Marvel, and the James Bond franchise, among others. Its print and e-book imprint releases more than 80 titles a year by both new and established writers.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Obituary Note: Sue Lubeck

Sue Lubeck

Sue Lubeck, founder of the Bookies Bookstore, Denver, Colo., died July 8. In a Facebook post, the bookshop said: "The depths of our despair at sharing this cannot be imagined. Last night, surrounded by her family, our founder Sue Lubeck reached the end of her long story. Sue was a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and author of every good thing the Bookies ever was. She leaves behind a world that was richer for her having been in it. A world where countless children learned to love reading. A world filled with more laughter and joy than it will have without her in it. We will never stop missing her and will remember that the greatest joy she found was in all of our happiness. Goodbye Sue."

In 1971, "when the youngest of her three children, Rob, went to kindergarten, Sue set out to determine what she wanted to do next with her life," Westword reported. "Knowing the Denver area needed a children's bookshop, she decided to found that store in her basement. Soon her offerings began to take over the family's entire home."

"She was definitely a trendsetter and independent woman back in the early '70s," said Rob Lubeck. "For a woman to be an entrepreneur without a business background was pretty revolutionary."

Sue Lubeck ran the shop out of her home for years, but after zoning inspectors shut down the operation, she moved the Bookies to Sixth Avenue and Ogden Street. From there, she also launched a bookmobile, but within a few years the shop outgrew its space.

The Bookies eventually relocated to its current space at 4315 East Mississippi Avenue, "where it's been for decades, inspiring children with a vast selection of books, along with a wild array of educational gizmos, toys and board games," Westword wrote. "She would pair books and stuffed animals and find 'out-of-the-box' ways to market her store, recalls Rob. If a customer came in searching for a hard-to-find book, she would spend hours making calls around the world to find it."

"It was all about the employees and the customers, at equal levels," he added. "She put her heart and soul into the Bookies for 50 years, and created a unique shop experience.... Her philosophy was that you can do anything you put your mind to, and she taught that to myself and my two brothers as well. She was very caring and pushed us in the right ways and pushed the education and the drive, but not in a super hard way."

The loss comes as the store is preparing to mark its 50th anniversary August 15 with "a string of special events, including the sale of some of Sue's personal collection of antiquarian books," Westword noted, adding that the family will hold a public memorial service for Lubeck in September. 


Image of the Day: Worzalla's Magical Mural

Wisconsin book printer Worzalla teamed up with CREATE Portage County's Paint the County program and local artist Stephon Kiba Freeman to make a 90-feet-long by 20-feet-high mural on the side of Worzalla's new addition. The mural depicts a young girl standing on a stack of books surrounded by settings from the books she reads, including scenes from space, the ocean depths, tropical islands and more.

Last year, Worzalla completed Phase II of its modernization and expansion, which included an addition of 50,000 square feet to its headquarters in Stevens Point.

"Worzalla is deeply invested in the Portage County and Stevens Point community, so when I learned about the Paint the County program, I knew that our new building expansion would be a great location to be the home of one of these murals," said Worzalla president and CEO Jim Fetherston. "I'm glad we could give Stephon a platform for this talent and support the local arts community all while brightening up our neighborhood. The result is beautiful and highlights the joys of reading."

Obama's Summer Reading List 2021

Once again Barack Obama has released his summer reading list. On Facebook, he wrote, "Whether you're camped out on the beach or curled up on the couch on a rainy day, there's nothing quite like sitting down with a great book in the summer. While we were still in the White House, I began sharing my summer favorites--and over the years, it's become a little tradition that I look forward to sharing with you all. So without further ado, here are some books I've read recently. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did."

At Night All Blood Is Black by David Diop
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen
Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Patti LaBelle on Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall: Patti LaBelle, author of LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About (Gallery/13A, $30, 9781982179083).

A Little Late with Lilly Singh repeat: Melinda Gates, author of The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250257727).

Tamron Hall repeat: Chad Sanders, author of Black Magic: What Black Leaders Learned from Trauma and Triumph (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982104221).

Ellen repeat: Jake Tapper, author of The Devil May Dance: A Novel (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316530231).

TV: Dependency

Director-writer duo May el-Toukhy and Maren Louise Käehne (Queen of Hearts) are re-teaming with Nordisk Film Production on Dependency, a four-part series based on the autobiographical novel by Danish author Tove Ditlevsen, Deadline reported. El-Toukhy will be the project's conceptual director and Käehne the lead writer. 

"Tove Ditlevsen's life constitutes, in all its devil-may-care complexity, a fascinating and inspiring material for us as filmmakers," said Käehne. "She wants it all--career, children, love, freedom--but is still constantly drawn towards destroying any kind of harmony and joy. Tove's existential division between life's conflicting desires and dreams resonates with today's audience and with us as storytellers. She is both an identifiable and enigmatic personality you never get tired of exploring and her experiences balance on a delicate line between recognition and unpredictability, which make them unrivalled dramatic material to unfold in a cinematic interpretation."

Books & Authors

Awards: Molson Winners

Poet, essayist, novelist and playwright M. NourbeSe Philip was named winner of the humanities category in the 2021 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, which annually presents C$50,000 (about US$40,190) to distinguished Canadians--one in the social sciences or humanities and the other in the arts. Psychologist and mental health researcher Gordon J. G. Asmundson won the social sciences category. The prize "encourages recipients to continue contributing to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada."

NourbeSe Philip's published works include Harriet's Daughter, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence, and Zong!. She is a Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellow (Bellagio), and in 2020 she was the recipient of PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

Book Review

Review: Songbirds

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri (Ballantine Books, $27 hardcover, 336p., 9780593238042, August 3, 2021)

With Songbirds, Christy Lefteri (The Beekeeper of Aleppo) shines a light on social issues through the story of one woman's disappearance. The central character is absent from the beginning and remains a mystery until the novel's final pages.

"One day, Nisha vanished and turned to gold." Nisha is a Sri Lankan immigrant to Cyprus, where she works in the capital city of Nicosia as maid to Petra, a widow, and her nine-year-old daughter, Aliki. Petra's upstairs tenant Yiannis is Nisha's secret lover (maids are not permitted lovers). This absorbing novel opens after Nisha has gone missing, and is told in chapters that alternate between Petra's and Yiannis's points of view as they mourn and search for Nisha.

Nisha is representative of numerous migrant worker women in Cyprus, largely from Vietnam, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. Petra observes, "The maids here did everything--they were hired and paid (lower than the minimum wage) to clean the house, but ended up being child-carers, shop assistants, waitresses." Also: "I had started to see the rhythm of these women with new eyes--how the whole neighborhood pulsed with their activity. They had been invisible to me before Nisha had gone missing."

Although her neighbors are quick to write off the disappearance as abandonment, with the assumptions of casual racism, Petra knows this is out of character. Nisha is devoted to Aliki, and besides she's left behind her passport and most precious possessions, relics of her late husband and her own daughter in Sri Lanka. The police won't help. Petra mounts her own investigation, eventually teaming up with a distraught Yiannis, who is facing challenges of his own. He feels trapped by his involvement in the criminal poaching of songbirds, and especially conflicted because he'd grown up feeling so close to nature.

Lefteri deftly weaves Yiannis's pain at his illegal work and the loss of his love with Petra's growing realizations about her own culture and Aliki's attachment to her missing caretaker. Nisha, "a dark and beautiful shadow, who rattled around in old sandals and with fire in her eyes," is the center of this story, but an absence; the two speaking characters triangulate the third, and readers don't hear Nisha's own voice until the very end. Moving human characters and careful depiction of natural spaces contribute to a contemplative tone. Songbirds is quietly urgent in its treatment of Nicosia's maids, lyrical in its descriptions, and thoughtful, compassionate and important. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Set in the old capital city of Cyprus, this is a beautiful, sad novel about human relationships and hard choices, who is seen and unseen.

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