Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 5, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Quotation of the Day

'Browsing Independent Bookstores Is Always My First Port of Call'

"The first bookstore I went to was an independent store. It was in my hometown, Nicosia, Cyprus. And I went there throughout my childhood, with my mother. Browsing independent bookstores is always my first port of call in any city I visit. And it's the only way I really find new authors, by physically scanning the shelves. I find it hard to enjoy the process as much online.

"As a writer, I didn't really appreciate the full importance of independent bookstores in terms of my career until fairly recently.... I was astounded to see how much handselling and re-ordering simply comes down to the individual taste of a bookseller. They like a book and so re-order it, and encourage customers to read it. It sounds so obvious but I didn't appreciate it on a human level until I started meeting booksellers face to face. I'm glad I get to look them in the eye and shake their hand and say thanks. I certainly owe them all a great debt of gratitude."

--Alex Michaelides, whose novel The Fury (Celadon Books) is the #1 Indie Next List pick for January, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week.

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The Atlas Collective, Moline, Ill., Hosting Grand Opening Tomorrow

The Atlas Collective, a bookstore and coffee bar in Moline, Ill., is hosting a grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow, OurQuadCities reported.

Store owner Kara Taghon and her team carry a wide-ranging selection of new and used books along with a variety of stationery and other gifts. The coffee bar menu includes coffee, tea, energy drinks, and more.

Taghon told OurQuadCities: "The Atlas Collective is my passion project, and I am so excited to see it come to fruition. TAC offers a cozy, safe, joyful place where people of all walks of life can gather and grow."

Since 2022, Taghon has worked toward creating a cozy, inclusive third space for the Moline community. Atlas Collective is located at 1801 5th Ave. in Moline.

2 Dandelions Bookshop Expanding in Brighton, Mich.

2 Dandelions Bookshop in Brighton, Mich., is expanding into an adjacent building, the Livingston Daily reported.

Store owners Jeri Kay Thomas and Jeanne Blazo are purchasing the building next door and will expand into it, effectively doubling the size of the bookstore. They plan to have the expansion complete in the spring, with Thomas noting the building they acquired is more than 100 years old and "lots of things need to be worked out."

While many of the exact details are still undecided, Blazo and Thomas plan to use the extra space to bring in more books, particularly in nonfiction categories like history, biography, science, nature, and cookbooks. They'll also have the room to host larger events, and there is potential to create a large back patio for the bookstore.

For the past 20 years, the building belonged to Dan and Liz Gadwa, who used it as the offices for their business Concord Mortgage, and it was Liz Gadwa who reached out to Thomas and Blazo about buying the building.

"I didn't want to give my baby to just anyone," Gadwa told the Daily. "I know everybody loves the bookstore. All the events they have gather so many people, and we just became friends being neighbors downtown."

Blazo and Thomas founded 2 Dandelions in October 2019, and in 2020 they moved into their current home at 428 W. Main St. They'd started to consider expanding again when Gadwa approached them.

"Our community has supported us," Thomas remarked. "I think Brighton was ready for an independent bookstore. So, we feel very fortunate and thankful every day. It's been a great ride."

Namrata Tripathi Now President and Publisher of Kokila

Namrata Tripathi

Namrata Tripathi has been promoted to president and publisher of Penguin Young Readers imprint Kokila, effective immediately. 

Previously, Tripathi was Kokila's senior vice-president and publisher. She has been with PYR for 10 years and founded Kokila five years ago. The imprint publishes socially conscious titles for children and young adults from creators with diverse backgrounds. Under Tripathi's leadership, Kokila has published bestsellers, won American Library Association and other awards, and doubled the size of its staff.

Jen Loja, president of PYR, wrote that Tripathi and the Kokila team have "brought new creators into the publishing world, built new models for our publishing culture, and set a new standard of fantastic selling titles that have changed the way we consider comps for diverse titles. This has ultimately broadened the scope of what we can and will publish in the children's book market as a whole."

Some of the imprint's major titles include Hair Love, written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison; Born on the Water, written by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson and illustrated by Nikkolas Smith; Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi; and Payal Mehta's Revenge Romance Plot by Preeti Chhibber.

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

This past Wednesday, December 27, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to nearly 960,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 957,276 customers of 241 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features 11 upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, January 31. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of the December pre-order e-blast, see this one from The Press, Valparaiso, Ind.

The titles highlighted in the pre-order e-blast were:

The Women by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's)
End of Story by A.J. Finn (Morrow)
Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange (Knopf)
JoyFull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly by Radhi Devlukia-Shetty (Simon Element)
The Teacher by Freida McFadden (Poisoned Pen)
Float Up Sing Down by Laird Hunt (Bloomsbury)
The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo (Holt)
Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg (Random House)
Ours by Phillip B. Williams (Viking)
Ten Little Rabbits by Maurice Sendak (HarperCollins)
Waverider (Amulet #9) by Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix)

Obituary Note: Bill Granger

Bill Granger

Bill Granger, an chef and writer "who combined an easy Australian manner with a talent for making simple food sing, selling the world on the infinite potential of breakfast," died December 25, the New York Times reported. He was 54. Granger was the frontman, originator, and head chef of a Sydney corner cafe called Bills, which eventually expanded to nine outlets across three countries, as well as an offshoot, Granger & Co., with five locations in London.

Though he wrote about a dozen books, Granger became best known for two dishes in particular: a zesty avocado on toast, which his cafe is often credited with being the first to serve, and scrambled eggs with luxuriously creamy curds. The Times noted that the avocado toast "would take on a life of its own, becoming an international food trend."

Jane Morrow, his publisher at Murdoch Books, said that in many respects, Granger exemplified the very best of his country's national attitude: warm, open, and generous, with an understated commitment to excellence: "He reflected that back to Australians themselves, and then he sold that to the world--and that gave us, as Australians, confidence."

In his most recent book, Australian Food (2020), Granger wrote: "I had no formal training as a chef, and I've always said that, ironically, this was a great training. I wasn't tied down by any rules about food and fine dining. I didn't even know the rules I wasn't supposed to be breaking. It puts me on a parallel with the Australian way of eating: joyfully lacking in fixed assumptions or strict culinary history."

Granger's other books include Bill's Food (2002), Bill's Open Kitchen (2003), Simply Bill (2005), Bill Granger Every Day (2006), Holiday (2009), Bill's Basics (2010), Bill's Everyday Asian (2011), Bill Granger Easy (2012), and Bill's Italian Food (2014).

A HarperCollins spokesperson told the Bookseller: "HarperCollins was proud to publish two books with Bill--Bill Granger Easy and Bill's Italian Food--which captured his relaxed and joyful approach to food, which worked as well on the page as it did in his restaurants. We are terribly sorry to hear of Bill's death, far too young, and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."


Reese's January Book Club Pick: First Lie Wins

The January pick for Reese's Book Club is First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston (Pamela Dorman Books), which Reese Witherspoon described this way: "This fast-paced read has everything you could want in a thriller: secret identities, a mysterious boss and a cat & mouse game that kept me guessing the whole way through. I did NOT expect that ending...."

Personnel Changes at Candlewick Press

Sofia Elbadawi has been promoted to marketing coordinator at Candlewick Press. She was previously marketing and publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Vanessa Chan on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Vanessa Chan, author of The Storm We Made: A Novel (S&S/Marysue Rucci, $27, 9781668015148).

TV: Slow Horses

Following the season three finale of Slow Horses, Apple TV+ has already ordered a fifth season of the hit TV series based on the Slough House novels by Mick Herron. The five-time BAFTA Award-nominated series stars Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, who was recently honored with a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as Jackson Lamb. 

In season five, adapted from Herron's novel London Rules, "everyone is suspicious when resident tech nerd Roddy Ho has a glamorous new girlfriend, but when a series of increasingly bizarre events occur across the city, it falls to the Slow Horses to work out how everything is connected. After all, Lamb knows that in the world of espionage, 'London Rules' should always apply," Apple TV+ noted.

The Slow Horses ensemble cast includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Jack Lowden, Saskia Reeves, Rosalind Eleazar, Christopher Chung, Samuel West, Sophie Okonedo, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Kadiff Kirwan, and Jonathan Pryce.

The series is produced for Apple TV+ by See-Saw Films and adapted for television by Will Smith, who's an executive producer alongside Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Douglas Urbanski, Gail Mutrux, Julian Stevens, and Graham Yost. The director for season five has not yet been announced.

Books & Authors

Reading with... Maud Woolf

Maud Woolf is a speculative-fiction writer with a particular focus on horror and science fiction who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has appeared in a variety of online magazines. She's worked a number of jobs, including waitressing, comic book selling, sign-holding, and as a tour guide at a German dollhouse museum. She is the author of Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock (Angry Robot, January 9, 2024), a feminist satire on celebrity and the multiple roles into which women are forced to squeeze their lives.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

The 13th clone of famous actress Lulabelle Rock was created for a singular purpose: to hunt down and destroy all 12 of her predecessors.

On your nightstand now:

I have a bad habit of dipping in and out of multiple books at the same time. At the moment, I'm obsessed with solarpunk, so I'm reading A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers and Glass and Gardens, an anthology of solarpunk stories edited by Sarena Ulibarri. Those have both just been abandoned in favour of The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, a science-fiction classic influenced by the author's own experiences in the Vietnam War. I usually avoid military sci-fi, but it's completely consumed me.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I first cut my teeth on science fiction reading the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. They were so gripping, so dark and imaginative. The first character I ever truly fell in love with was Tobias, a tragic teenage figure trapped in the body of a red-tailed hawk. I think I once wrote a long and gushing letter to the author telling her this but never got up the nerve to send it.

Another answer would be any book in the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine. I was banned from reading these because I kept having nightmares, but I had a secret hoard under my bed. Say Cheese and Die! was a favourite.

Your top five authors:

Shirley Jackson; Kurt Vonnegut; Sarah Waters; Kazuo Ishiguro; and, above all (I know everyone says this), Ursula K. Le Guin.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading the third book in the IQ84 trilogy by Haruki Murakami. I had to physically force myself to finish the first two, and when I realised there was a third one, I gave up.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I'm obsessed with getting people to read this book. It's so atmospheric, so romantic, so twisty and engaging.

One of the happiest moments of my life was when my girlfriend announced that she had (unprompted!) started listening to it on audiobook to see what I was talking about.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales. It was a white cover with flowing black script and these terrifying and beautiful illustrations. I particularly remember a woman with a snake for a body and two people sitting inside the belly of a whale. The hardback edition had this red ribbon placeholder and every time I opened it, I felt like it was some kind of magical tome. 

Book you hid from your parents:

When I was 10, I found a fantasy romance novel on a book-exchange shelf: Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan, in which Princess Xylara is given to warlord Keir of the invading Firelanders. Looking back, most of the sex was implied and very tame, but at the time it felt like I was smuggling contraband. Me and my friends would pass it around at school in a brown paper bag so no one would see the cover.

Book that changed your life:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. An experimental novel, it's constructed in strange scraps and is, as such, very often difficult to navigate. (A friend of mine described it as a Matryoshka nesting-doll of a book.) I read it fairly young, and I remember very clearly thinking that it pushed the limits of what and how a story could be.

Favorite line from a book:

"[N]o emotion is the final one." --from Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.

Five books you'll never part with:

Honestly, I'm a hoarder so it's hard to answer. But for a start: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut; and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin.

I love Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges. More of a collection than a single work, but each story is like a perfect puzzle or a painting. Finally, The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. I stumbled across this in a charity shop last year and fell in love with it from the first line: "It was Napoleon who had such a passion for chicken that he kept his chefs working around the clock."

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Rumo and His Miraculous Adventures by German children's author Walter Moers. For two months, this was my bedtime read and I've never slept better since.

When someone recommends a book to you, the points they would have to mention to catch your attention:

This is stupid but I hate it when people try to recommend novels to me by talking about themes. Don't tell me it's about found friendships or the human condition, etc., because I'll glaze over. I like a good hook and a strong premise. Tell me it's weird or written in a really unique way--and I'm in.

Book Review

Review: Housewife: Why Women Still Do It All and What to Do Instead

Housewife: Why Women Still Do It All and What to Do Instead by Lisa Selin Davis (Legacy Lit, $30 hardcover, 320p., 9781538722886, March 5, 2024)

Contrary to the popular myth of the quintessential American family built on independence and self-reliance, Housewife: Why Women Still Do It All and What to Do Instead by Lisa Selin Davis offers a compelling, well-researched counter-narrative of the United States as a country built in fact on interdependence between families and government, as well as community, institutions. In the process, Davis unravels the powerful archetype of the American housewife and follows her through history to the present day where lack of childcare options, caregiver compensation, and supportive community institutions has resulted in tremendous inequities and hardship for women as mothers, workers, and wives.

Davis (Tomboy) is a New York author and journalist for whom the jarring reality of juggling her writing career with raising children brought into stark relief the lack of structural support and the isolation women in the U.S. face as working mothers. Without a community network to count on or universal child care, families are expected to fend for themselves. And yet, it wasn't always that way. In colonial times, she writes, couples didn't raise their children alone. Instead they took support from civic, political, community, and government institutions, without which early settlers would never have survived. Frontier families who moved out west in the 19th century were heavily subsidized by government assistance and community-created institutions that supported their monetary and emotional needs.

Eventually the notion of interdependence as necessary for a family to thrive came to be seen in the United States as shameful. Nuclear families succeeding without assistance, with a breadwinning father and domesticated mother, became the ideal. The chapter "Medicating the Housewife" illustrates in fascinating detail the fallout from the "unattainable housewife ideal" that subsequently shaped the hopes and dreams of many women, leading invariably to disappointment and dashed expectations. Davis documents how thousands of housewives suffering from depression or hysteria underwent lobotomies or became addicted to medication in an effort "to perform womanhood and motherhood the way others thought they were supposed to."

Through interviews with women from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, Davis articulates a clearly defined set of policy proposals and social system reforms, backed by a cultural shift toward interdependence that could, over time, offer the sort of support families need as they navigate post-pandemic work and schooling in the United States.

Provocative and skillfully written, Housewife is a clear-eyed cultural appraisal of "women's work," and the high a price women pay as working mothers. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: A journalist unravels the powerful archetype of the American housewife and suggests policy proposals and social reforms to alleviate the inequities women face as mothers, workers, and wives.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookstore Reading Resolutions--'We Can't Wait to Read Alongside All of You in 2024'

How many good resolutions did I make at the commencement of the year now flown, merely to break them and to feel more than ever convinced of the weakness of my own resolutions!

--Emily Dickinson (letter to Abiah Root, January 12, 1846)

At the Bookworm, Bernardsville, N.J.

How many books have you read so far this year? Too soon to ask? This week I finished two books I'd started in December: Christian Wiman's Zero at the Bone and Paul Auster's Baumgartner. Would those count on a reading goal list for 2023 or 2024?

Doesn't matter. I didn't have a list, but as each new year dawns, the thoughts of many readers turn to reading resolutions and goals. I would be terrible at it, I'm sure. By nature and temperament, I've always been a slow reader. Before shattering my readerly innocence by accepting a bookseller's job in the early 1990s, I was a lingerer over pages, paragraphs and sentences in the books I loved. I underlined and committed excessive marginalia. 

Not only was I slow, but I was practically monogamous when I read. I could spend a month with a book, six months with an author. I lived with them for long periods, then moved on, as if strolling a narrow garden path rather than weaving through rush hour traffic.

At Commonplace Reader, Yardley, Pa.

By necessity and job description, that changed during my bookselling days. Suddenly I had to speed up my reading game without sacrificing concentration, comprehension and pleasure. My customers fell prey to the illusion that I was a reading machine. They would sometimes ask, with unmasked awe, "How many books do you read a week?!" The answer was, as you know, complicated. I cheated. In a world of stacks upon stacks of guilt-inducing ARCs waiting for their turn, I often succumbed to the 50-pages-and-out strategy. The relevant question from my customers should have been: "How many books do you finish a week?" 

Now, years removed from the bookshop sales floor, I still often I have three, four or five books going at once, and continue to cast my eyes with longing at the endless stream of new, tempting titles that pile up on my desk. But I don't set goals. My lack of resolution pre-empts New Year's reading resolutions.

Fortunately, there's plenty of indie bookstore inspiration out there for readers who do want to set goals for 2024. 

On New Year's Day, the Bookstore at Fitger's, Duluth, Minn., noted that it was "closed today so our Booksellers can work on all of our New Year's Resolutions and Reading Goals. So whether you're spending today watching football, packing away holiday decorations, or just enjoying the start of the new year, we hope you take some time to read a good book."

The Bookworm, Bernardsville, N.J., observed: "New year, same old habit of having way too many books in our to-be-read pile. Thank you to our community for shopping local this holiday season! We can't wait to read alongside all of you in 2024." 

In an e-mail this week, RJ Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., promoted the shop's Just the Right Book! subscription service: "Readers know that long winter months, with their short, dark days, provide the perfect excuse for diving deep into a new novel, with a hot cup of tea in hand. These slower months are a great time to try a new genre or work on your 2024 reading goals--and we're here to help!"

Subterranean Books' resolution board

Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo., posted on Instagram: "We've got our New Year's resolution board up, but we all know resolutions... they're just waiting to be broken. What can we call them instead? Realistic Goals? Like learning to cook a new meal when you have energy and time. Reminders? To show yourself and others more compassion. Slowing down? Take the time to look out your window and notice the birds and trees and sky."

Welsh bookseller Book-ish in Crickhowell posted earlier this week: "Loved the enthusiasm for reading more as a New Year's resolution in the shop today! Some saying they have quit social media and were buying books to read instead."

Other booksellers are featuring reading challenges for 2024, including Betty's Books, Webster Groves, Mo.; Storybook Cove, Hanover Mass.; Grit City Books, Tacoma, Wash.; and the Bluestocking Bookshop, Holland, Mich.;

At Gibson's Bookstore

Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., wins the reading resolution perspective prize, bookseller cat style: "Happy #MeowMonday! Rufus wishes you a happy TBR pile for the year, which he is confident means 'To Be Relaxed-on.'--Elisabeth."

Stacks Book Club, Oro Valley, Ariz., wins the award for most understanding reading goal philosophy: "Whether you read one or one hundred books this year--you're a reader."

In the years since I reclaimed my role as bookstore customer rather than bookseller, I've also regained the ability to slow time in the presence of a wall of books; see the whole; move in for a closer look at the spines; scan titles with that signature head-tilt; pull a book from the shelf and examine it; sit in a nearby chair and read a passage before returning the book to its place; step back and see the broader canvas again. Consider my options, then buy more books.

For 2024, I am, once again, without resolutions or goals--#JustReading

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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