Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 10, 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.


AAP Sales: Up 1.8% in September; Up 0.7% Year to Date

Total net book sales in October in the U.S. rose 1.8%, to $1.2 billion, compared to October 2022, representing sales of 1,225 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first 10 months of the year, total net book sales are up 0.7%, to $10.6 billion.

Trade revenues in October rose 1.3%, to $975 million.

During October, trade hardcover revenue dropped 2.3%, to $441.8 million, paperbacks rose 5.5%, to $301.1 million, mass market jumped 44.4%, to $10.4 million, and special bindings rose 3.7%, to $25.8 million.

Sales by category in October 2023 compared to October 2022:

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Mondragon Books, Lewisburg, Pa., Is Relocating 

Mondragon Books, a used and new bookstore in Lewisburg, Pa., is relocating from 430 Market St. to 302 Market St., its third location since 2017, the Daily Item reported. Owner Sarajane Snyder said "tons of community members showed up to help move everything" and a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $10,000 to help with the moving costs.

"It was really uplifting, and I'm delighted," she said. "Everyone seemed eager and happy to help. It really made me feel supported and that people love the bookstore a lot."

Cosmetic renovations like painting and lighting are underway, with the goal of opening by February 2, when the Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival starts. A grand opening celebration is tentatively planned for mid-February.

Noting that a different location was needed when a new owner purchased 430 Market St., Snyder said that Shop LOCAL Lewisburg closed down at 302 Market St., presenting the opportunity for the bookshop to relocate into a space double in size and at a busy section of the street.

"We got very lucky," said Snyder. "This space is so awesome. It's a great move for us."

Charles Sackrey opened the bookstore in 2009. Snyder took over ownership for $1 in 2017, and Mondragon moved from its original location to 430 Market St. in 2020.

"Charles was a very community-oriented person," said Snyder. "He was it as a community service. He saw in me that I would carry that forward."

She added that the goal for the new space is to have an increased book and record inventory, vintage stereo and typewriters, book clubs and events. She will also re-create the well-known tree that was in the former location. "I feel like we're leveling up, like we're graduating into something that will be here for a long time. That's my hope." Becoming Reactor

Effective January 23, the science fiction and fantasy-focused online magazine will become Reactor. 

As Reactor, the online magazine will continue to publish speculative short fiction and will expand its coverage to also include romance, horror, and other genres. The rebranding will coincide with the launch of a redesigned website (, and the change will better reflect the fact that is publisher agnostic and independent from Tor Publishing Group.

"We have always been the place to come to for science fiction and fantasy," said Tor Publishing Group president and publisher Devi Pillai, "but with a new name, a new design, we are going to have a magazine that will be more of a pop culture hub for people who love genre of all types. We want to expand the audience and the community that has built over the past 15 years."

Chris Lough,'s director, remarked: "Oh, how we have waited for this day. For the past 15 years we have published discerning yet joyful works of media criticism, along with award-winning short fiction and art. Now, starting in 2024, the look and functionality of our magazine's website will finally match the maturity of our contributors and the needs of our community." was founded in 2008. It has won the Locus Award for Best Magazine for the past seven years.

Binc Adds Three New Members, Introduces Executive Committee Officers

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has added three new board members, and two board members' terms are ending. In addition, the board's new executive committee consists of Chris Morrow, former owner of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as president; author Jonathan Putnam as treasurer; and Calvin Crosby of the King's English Bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah, as secretary. Immediate past president Annie Philbrook, Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., will serve an additional year on the committee as v-p.

"I am delighted to be a small part in the evolution of this incredible organization," said Morrow. "Frontline book and comic sellers are the lifeblood of the industry. Any way we can ease the burden of difficult times for book and comic people is a blessing for all of us. I look forward to learning from this incredible board and to offering my energy to ensure Binc will prosper in the coming years. I am excited to welcome three fantastic human beings to the board: Chriscynethia Floyd, Michael Jacobs and Emma Nichols. They will add significant talent, experience and humanity to the board, and we are very grateful for their time and energy."

Chriscynethia Floyd is v-p and publisher of Our Daily Bread Publishing. Her more than 25-year career spans both secular and Christian publishing; she has served as a vice-president in sales, marketing, and editorial for organizations including Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and David C. Cook. She began her career as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. 

Michael Jacobs is on the board of Abrams Books, where he was president and CEO for almost two decades. Prior to Abrams, he was senior v-p of Scholastic's trade book group. He started his career at Penguin as a trade sales representative, moving through sales and marketing roles. He served as board chair of the Academy of American Poets and the National Coalition Against Censorship and recently joined the board of the Yaddo Corporation.

Emma Kaas (née Nichols) co-owns the Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt., with her husband, Sam Kaas. She earlier worked at Elliott Bay Book Co in Seattle, Wash., and WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y. She has served on the Binc finance committee for more than six years.  

Two board members completed their terms at Binc. Chuck Robinson, co-founder of Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., and a member of several book industry organizations, served six years, most recently as chair of the governance committee. Julia Cowlishaw, CEO of Vroman's of Pasadena and Book Soup of West Hollywood, Calif., served on Binc's executive committee and chaired the development and communication committee during her nine-year tenure. 

"I am grateful for all of the talented individuals on the Binc board who lend their expertise to make certain the Foundation is prepared and ready to help those in need," said Binc executive director Pamela French. "They give generously of their time, and their insights and experience are invaluable."

Obituary Note: Joan Acocella

Joan Acocella

Joan Acocella, a cultural critic and author "whose elegant, erudite essays about dance and literature appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books for more than four decades," died January 7, the New York Times reported. She was 78.

Acocella was the New Yorker's dance critic from 1998 to 2019 and freelanced for the NYRB for 33 years. Her final articles for the Review were a two-part commentary on the biography Mr. B: George Balanchine's 20th Century by Jennifer Homans, her successor as the New Yorker's dance critic.

"What she wrote for us was often mischievous and always delicious--on crotch shots and cuss words, on Neapolitan hand gestures and Isadora Duncan's emphasis on the solar plexus," said Emily Greenhouse, editor of the Review.

Acocella was interested in what made artists like Mikhail Baryshnikov so successful. The Times noted that this was "a search that began when she moved to New York City with her husband, Nicholas Acocella, in 1968 and became friendly with a group of young artists who awed her."

In the introduction to her book Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints (2007), she recalled thinking about their futures. "What will they become?" she wrote, adding: "There are many brilliant artists--they are born every day--but those who end up having sustained artistic careers are not necessarily the most gifted." They were "the ones who combined brilliance with more homely virtues: patience, resilience, courage."

Through most of the 1970s, Acocella was an editor and writer at Random House, where she and two other authors wrote what became a successful textbook about abnormal psychology. Several revised editions produced income for her over the next two decades, the Times wrote. She also wrote extensively about literature for the New Yorker and the Review

In the 1980s, she became a senior critic at Dance magazine, and was later the book review editor at Dance Research Journal and the lead dance critic of 7 Days weekly magazine. In the 1990s, she wrote dance criticism for the Daily News in New York, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

New Yorker editor David Remnick said, "There was no greater experience than going to a dance performance with her and watching the occasional urgent note being taken, and then her mouth agape with wonder, but also the occasional eye roll."

Acocella wrote several books, including Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism (2000) and Mark Morris (1993). A new collection of her writings on literature, The Bloodied Nightgown and Other Essays, will be published by FSG this year.

In an interview with the Review, Acocella said that her literature and dance writing fed each other: "I've written most about 19th and early 20th century literature, and boy, did those people have stories. But ballet, because it is fundamentally abstract, taught me to stay close to style and tone, and not always to be so intent on the story. Conversely, literature taught me to be concerned about the moral life, in dance, too--how people behave toward one another, and what they take from and give to one another."


Image of the Day: 'What a Great Job!'

Speaking yesterday at the New York University Advanced Publishing Institute's panel on book banning, Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, mentioned an early encounter with book banning and his striking reaction:

"My very first day as a bookseller in 1980 at a B. Dalton in Yankton, S.Dak., a woman dragged her embarrassed daughter in. She was waving a copy of Forever by Judy Blume. She said, 'How dare you sell this filth to my daughter!' After a moment of shock, I refunded her money, and then I thought, 'What a great job!!' "

Pictured (from l.): Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs, PEN America; Anderson; Jonathan Karp, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster; and moderator Andrew Albanese, executive editor, PW. --Jenn Risko

Personnel Changes at Astra; Zando; TvS Media Group

At Astra Publishing House:

Rachael Small has been promoted to director of publicity, Astra Publishing House.

Alexis Nowicki has been promoted to senior publicist, Astra House and DAW.

Chelsea Abdullah has been promoted to assistant marketing and publicity manager, Astra Books for Young Readers.


Natalie Ullman has joined Zando as associate director of social Media. She was previously senior content marketing manager at Banza.


Hannah Boardman has been promoted to associate publicist at TvS Media Group. She was previously publicity coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hilton Carter on the Today Show

Good Morning America: Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist (One World, $18.99, 9780525509301).

Today Show: Hilton Carter, author of Living Wild: How to Plant Style Your Home and Cultivate Happiness (CICO Books, $45, 9781800652125).

Live with Kelly and Mark: James Patterson, co-author of Holmes, Marple & Poe: The Greatest Crime-Solving Team of the Twenty-First Century (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316405195).

Also on Live with Kelly and Mark: Dr. William Li, author of Eat to Beat Your Diet (Vermilion, $25, 9781785044465).

Drew Barrymore Show: Damona Hoffman, author of F the Fairy Tale: Rewrite the Dating Myths and Live Your Own Love Story (Seal Press, $29, 9781541602250).

TV: 3 Body Problem

Netflix has released a new trailer for its series 3 Body Problem, based on Chinese author Liu Cixin's science fiction novel trilogy (The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End). Deadline reported that the project, from creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo, will debut on the streamer March 21, nearly four years after first being revealed.

The cast includes Jovan Adepo, John Bradley, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jess Hong, Marlo Kelly, Alex Sharp, Sea Shimooka, Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani, Benedict Wong, Jonathan Pryce, Rosalind Chao, Ben Schnetzer, and Eve Ridley.

Oscar-nominated director Derek Tsang (Better Days) is among the directors for the series, with Benioff and Weiss serving as showrunners and executive produces. Woo co-created the series with Benioff and Weiss and is executive producer and writer. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Crook's Corner Winner

The Old Place by Bobby Finger (Putnam) is the winner of the 11th annual $5,000 Crook's Corner Book Prize for the best debut novel set in the American South. Organizers called the book "a bighearted and moving debut about a wry retired schoolteacher whose decade-old secret threatens to come to light and send shockwaves through her small Texas town."

Judge Wiley Cash said, "Bobby Finger's novel might be titled The Old Place, but its themes of family, forgiveness, and acceptance are as timely as ever. Like truly timeless literature, Finger's novel is populated with small-town characters we all know. In this novel, Billington, Texas is its own distinct place, but thanks to Finger's talented rendering, it quickly becomes a place for all of us to understand ourselves and one another better."

Reading with... Celine Saintclare

(photo: George Chandramani)

Celine Saintclare is of English and Caribbean descent and was born and raised in Buckinghamshire, England. She spent the majority of her early life training to be a ballet dancer, and filling notebooks with stories and poems. Saintclare is inspired to write about the pain and beauty of navigating life as a young woman today, and about people whose lifestyles defy mainstream societal values. Her debut novel, Sugar, Baby (Bloomsbury, January 9, 2024) is a bold look at high-paid sex work in the age of the Internet.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

London. Paris. Miami. Rome. Caribbean upbringing. Religious guilt. Womanhood. Friendship. Beauty. Money. Sex work. Danger. Adventure. Self-realization. You'll love it or hate it.

On your nightstand now:

I'm alternating between The Stranger by Albert Camus and Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. I picked them up from the English book section of a Virgin store in Marrakech.

Favorite book when you were a child:

For years I couldn't fall asleep without listening to The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I loved Jacqueline Wilson: Sleepovers; Best Friends; The Illustrated Mum; The Bed and Breakfast Star; Secrets; Double Act; The Diamond Girls. I could go on and on forever; I had them all. I loved the writing style, the vividness of the characters, and the drama of their worlds. When I was about eight years old, I stayed up late every night reading a series of novels about a little girl who had a magical unicorn. Eventually, my mum had to confiscate the books so I would go to sleep. I wish I could remember what they were called.

Your top five authors:

I've narrowed it down to eight: Anaïs Nin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lisa Taddeo, Bernardine Evaristo, James Baldwin, Oscar Wilde, Angela Carter, Eve Babitz. All formative and influential writers for me.

Book you've faked reading:

Almost everything I needed to read for school. I'd just look them up on SparkNotes before the exams.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Everyone should read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. The interior lives of different women as it pertains to desire, romance, and emotional repression will always be fascinating to me. I was absorbed in this book from beginning to end. I could hear the women's voices in my head and feel what they were feeling as I read each sentence.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I would never buy a book just for the cover, but I am more likely to buy it if it's pink.

Book you hid from your parents:

One of the girls at school had a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and everyone got a turn to take it home for a couple of days. I don't know what all the fuss was about, to be honest with you. It's more funny than it is sexy, but it felt so naughty and forbidden at the time. I think I kept it hidden in my underwear drawer.

Book that changed your life:

Henry and June by Anaïs Nin. Also The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I never related to much of what I read in books until those two. I think they're both very sensual and romantic writers and very introspective. And they search for muses and ideals, just like me.

Favorite line from a book:

"She says she is aware of the irony of being a medical examiner who smokes, but that for all the blackened lungs she's seen, it is more disturbing to open the chest cavity of a veteran and find that it is pristine." I think about this quote from Luster by Raven Leilani a lot. It gives me the courage to drink, smoke, and get tattoos. The idea of leaving a pristine corpse behind is a lot scarier to me than the idea of dying.

Five books you'll never part with:

I have a signed copy of The Guest by Emma Cline, which is pretty cool. It's one of those books I couldn't put down until I got to the end, and I love books that give you that. Other than that, I don't have any physical books I wouldn't part with. I've moved around a lot and left books everywhere I've been. There are a few books I've bought a couple of times over the years because I've lost the original copies. Actually, I wouldn't ever part with my first hardcover copy of my book Sugar, Baby. It's got notes and annotations from where I've taken it to readings. Lots of memories.

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

I was obsessed with the short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald when I was younger. I'd love to discover those for the first time again. My favourite is "The Offshore Pirate." My favourite lines are Ardita's words about courage and faith in herself: "My courage is faith--faith in the eternal resilience of me--that joy'll come back, and hope and spontaneity. And I feel that till it does I've got to keep my lips shut and my chin high, and my eyes wide--not necessarily any silly smiling. Oh, I've been through hell without a whine quite often--and the female hell is deadlier than the male."

Book Review

Children's Review: Wildful

Wildful by Kengo Kurimoto (Groundwood Books, $22.99 hardcover, 216p., 9781773068626, February 6, 2024)

U.K.-based creator Kengo Kurimoto's graphic novel debut, Wildful, is visual storytelling perfection with a bare minimum of text. The plot might seem simple: a girl and her dog meet a new friend on their daily walks. Investing close attention to Kurimoto's exquisitely detailed art, however, will reveal multiple layers of delightful transformation.

Wildful is divided into seven chapters, each of which begins with a similar scene of a girl walking her dog. She's utterly distracted in the first chapter, headphones on, eyes glued to her phone while her dog sniffs, runs, and scares the cat along their path. When the dog sees a fox, it barrels through the opening of a dilapidated fence. The leash slips, and Poppy chases after her pup. She takes a tumble before noticing the otherworldly forested haven surrounding her. The first text appears: "Pepper!!" A wool-capped boy answers with "That way! He went that way!" before wrangling and returning Pepper to Poppy with a parting "Gotta go." "Mum, you won't believe what I just saw!" Poppy announces when she returns home, but her mother is asleep on the couch in front of the TV. The girl gently extracts her mother's teacup, taking it to a kitchen sink piled high with dishes, and gazes out at a ramshackle backyard.

As chapter two commences, headset and phone are still on as Poppy and Pepper set out, but are quickly put away as they slip through the fence. This time, Poppy and the boy reunite to share a wondrous birdwatching adventure. At home, Mum is awake to listen to Poppy's excitement about "the most magical place" she's just shared with her new friend, Rob. The mention of "Gran would have liked him" (past tense) sets up Mum's story to come. By chapter four, Poppy walks Pepper unencumbered by technology. By chapter seven, the sidewalk holds four adventurers: Mum is finally ready to experience the healing enchantments.

Kurimoto uses pen and ink to produce his meticulous sepia-toned illustrations. He's an indisputable master of perspective, giving readers beautiful views: a long shot of Pepper from behind unfurls a forest clearing looking out toward fading light. His insightful precision depicts Poppy's closed-eye appreciation of birdsong and the intricacies of a blooming wildflower as Rob's nostrils flare in olfactory delight. Kurimoto brilliantly manages to thread exploration, memory, renewal, and gratitude throughout his exact, ruler-straight panels. Wildful is a breathtaking, wildly welcoming achievement. --Terry Hong

Shelf Talker: Kengo Kurimoto's stunning debut graphic novel, Wildful, celebrates the wonders of nature in near-wordless visual perfection.  

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in December

The following were the most popular book club books during December based on votes from book club readers in more than 83,500 book clubs registered at

1. Lessons in Chemistry: A Novel by Bonnie Garmus (Doubleday)
2. Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (Dial Press)
3. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Harper)
4. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Ecco)
5. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead Books)
6. Demon Copperhead: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper)
7. Lady Tan's Circle of Women: A Novel by Lisa See (Scribner)
8. Mad Honey: A Novel by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan (Ballantine Books)
9. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (Grove Press)
10. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Penguin Books)

Rising Stars:
Return to Valetto by Dominic Smith (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (Harper)

[Many thanks to!]

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