Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 11, 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

'Vital Role of Books' in 'a Pivotal Year'

"This coming year is a pivotal year for the wider world in many ways, with nearly half of the population of the planet headed toward very consequential elections in many countries that we operate in. Books have a vital role to play in these times--readers will turn to books to inform and educate themselves... and also to find joy and adventure in stories and a world different from their own. Books are a force for good, instrumental in creating empathy and bringing people closer together, and we will continue to publish and bring as many as possible to our readers."

--Nihar Malaviya, Penguin Random House CEO in a new year's message to staff

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!


Flood Damage at Innisfree Bookshop's Laconia, N.H., Store

Because of a blocked roof drain during yesterday's snow and rain storm, Innisfree Bookshop's Laconia, N.H., location was flooded and is closed. Innisfree's Meredith, N.H., store remains open.

In an e-mail, owner Casey Gerken indicated that three inches of water fell onto the books and floor overnight. She asked that any shipments to the Laconia store (but not the Meredith store) be delayed until next week.

The store posted a video of the main part of the store on Facebook.

N.J.'s Labyrinth Books Owners Voluntarily Recognize Union

In advance of a union election next week, the owners of Labyrinth Books in Princeton, N.J., have chosen to voluntarily recognize their employees' union, reported.

Late last month, workers at Labyrinth Books filed a petition to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union and, initially, store owners Cliff Simms, Peter Simms, and Dorothy von Moltke had intended to await the result of a union election scheduled for January 19. Instead, they are now voluntarily recognizing the union.

"We as owners of Labyrinth Books have decided to stand with our staff and recognize their choice to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union," they wrote in a statement. "Since they announced just before Christmas that they wanted to unionize, we have been in a process of deep reflection and conversation, especially with our management team.

“The past two weeks have convinced us that the majority of the staff that’s eligible to vote is in favor of unionizing. By voluntarily recognizing the union, we are stating our sincere intention to use this organizing moment as an occasion to listen to everyone, make positive changes, and form a united Labyrinth that can do all the work we do better together.”

Judge Rules Suit Against Florida School Board over Book Banning Can Continue

Federal district court judge T. Kent Wetherell II ruled yesterday that a lawsuit filed by Penguin Random House, PEN America, five authors, and seven parents against Florida's Escambia County school district over book bannings in school libraries can continue.

The ruling came after the school district tried to have the suit dismissed, arguing that "it has authority to decide what books will be allowed in schools and that a new state law--Florida HB 1069, which establishes statewide practices and policies surrounding the content of school library books--helps shield it from the allegations," the Pensacola News Journal reported.

In response, the judge said that "while the school board reserves the power to remove books from the district for legitimate reasons, they cannot remove them because they do not align with their moral beliefs. While the school library should be diverse in the 'marketplace of ideas,' it is ultimately up to the parents to decide what is appropriate for their own family, he said."

Filed last May, the lawsuit argued that the actions of the school board in pulling books from school libraries violates the First Amendment and 14th Amendment. The judge denied a claim under the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, but said that the First Amendment applies.

At a press conference after the ruling, Katie Blankenship, director of PEN America Florida, said, "All in all, for the case in Escambia County today, this is a major win. This is a major win for the students in Escambia County. This is a major win for the professionals that are hired and the media specialists to determine what books are age appropriate and best for our children, and it is a good day for the Constitution and democracy. So we are really thrilled to see that our complaint is going to continue as it should be."

PEN America has noted that the school district continues to remove books from its schools' shelves, often because of GLBTQ content, including The Bluest Eye, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Kite Runner, along with a range of picture books and YA titles. This week PEN America released a list of more than 1,600 titles pulled in the school district, compiled by the Florida Freedom to Read Project. The list includes five dictionaries, eight encyclopedias, The Guinness Book of World Records, and, most tellingly, Ripley's Believe It or Not.

S&S's Liz Perl to Retire

Liz Perl

Liz Perl, executive v-p and chief marketing officer at Simon & Schuster is retiring, effective February 2.

In an announcement to staff, S&S president and CEO Jonathan Karp praised Perl's contributions to the company, saying, in part, "It will be hard to imagine our marketing meetings without Liz, and I know we will miss her great sense of humor and her enthusiasm for our work. She has been an inventive marketer, an excellent manager, and a great all-around colleague....

"In every area, she has built great teams that have worked hand in glove with our publishers, sales, and other departments within the company to the benefit of our books and authors. She has consistently driven innovation and growth across our various marketing platforms, whether it be our direct-to-consumer outreach and the tremendous growth in our email marketing, direct e-commerce, video production, social media presence and performance, new tools and platforms for author support, metadata and discoverability initiatives, and she has led our efforts to collect and utilize consumer intelligence and data. During her tenure, she has also piloted innovative programs including data-driven publishing, online learning, and a unique Paramount studios IP partnership."

Perl joined S&S in 2008 as senior v-p, marketing, for the adult division and a year later added corporate marketing to her responsibilities. In 2014, she was promoted to her current position. Earlier she was v-p and publisher of Rodale Books and Rodale International, held several senior positions at Penguin Group, and began her career as a bookseller in New Orleans, La.

Karp added that Perl "looks forward to sailing and traveling with her husband and spending more time with family and friends."

We at Shelf Awareness will miss her and wish her the very best.

Binc Opens Denver Publishing Institute Scholarship Application Process

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and the Denver Publishing Institute, has opened the application process for a scholarship to attend DPI, the four-week-long summer program (July 14-August 9) at the University of Denver. Classes are taught by industry professionals who work for trade, university, textbook and independent publishers throughout the country.

The application process--administered through DPI--is open to booksellers who are currently employed (full- or part-time) at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, with a tenure of at least 90 days, and are employed by the bookstore at the time of the program. The scholarship, worth up to $7,000, includes tuition, room, and board, and up to $2,000 to cover travel and lost wages. Applications will be accepted through February 9.

"The DPI program has a very special place in the hearts of everyone at Sourcebooks," said Todd Stocke, Sourcebooks senior v-p and editorial director. "I've been fortunate enough to go every year to share what I know about the publishing industry with the attendees, and I can't begin to express how rejuvenated and excited I feel each time I get to interact with these incredible folks. It is an absolute joy to continue working with our dear friends at Binc on this joint scholarship. We love creating opportunities for more booksellers to participate in this important initiative that's guiding the future generation of the industry."  

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Binc and Sourcebooks through the Denver Publishing Institute Scholarship," said DPI director Jill Smith. "Every summer, like-minded book enthusiasts flock to Denver (and online) to learn about the publishing industry from the inside out. We look forward to greeting the next outstanding bookseller who is awarded the scholarship in 2024."

Booksellers can find out more details and apply here

Clover Daydreams Comes to Tacoma, Wash.

Clover Daydreams, a new and used bookstore with an emphasis on diverse and inclusive titles, has opened in Tacoma, Wash., the News Tribune reported.

Located within a thrift store called Black Sheep Resale, Clover Daydreams carries fiction and nonfiction for all ages with an emphasis on historically marginalized voices, along with a selection of zines and stickers. Owner Clover Tamayo also offers audiobooks and delivery, and print books range from $5 to $35.

Tamayo told the Tribune that they were not an avid reader as a child, and they realized later in life that it was "because I didn't have the books I wanted. When you have stories that really connect with who's reading them, that is the big difference. Just to be able to see yourself and see joy, or some sort of shared self or shared identity…it's really uplifting to have that."

Though Clover Daydreams had its grand opening inside of Black Sheep Resale earlier this week, the bookstore actually debuted last year as an online and pop-up store. Tamayo noted that South Tacoma did not have a small, independent bookstore of its own, and providing books to that community "is super important."

Tamayo plans to operate Clover Daydreams inside of Black Sheep Resale for at least the rest of 2024.

Obituary Note: Joshua 'Harold' Makanoff

Joshua "Harold" Makanoff

Joshua "Harold" Makanoff, owner of Main Street Books, White Plains, N.Y., died on January 9 at the age of 92. He was reportedly in good health until contracting Covid-related pneumonia late last year.

The company posted on Facebook, "It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our founder, leader and hero, Mr. Joshua 'Harold' Makanoff at the age of 92. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him, because to know him was to love him. Please keep Harold and his family in your prayers. Main Street Books will be closed Friday, 1/12/24 as we say our final goodbyes to this honorable man."

Founded by Makanoff in 1965, Main Street Books bookstore evolved into one of the largest children's book wholesalers in the New York metropolitan area. As his family noted, "The book business was his passion for six decades. He loved the book business and was proud to supply books for children through schools and book fairs."

Funeral services will be held tomorrow, January 12, at 10:30 a.m. at the Riverside Memorial Chapel, 100 Saw Mill River Rd., Hawthorne, N.Y. 10532.

Makanoff lost his wife, Norma, and sons David and Richard to Marfan Syndrome, a genetic, connective tissue disorder. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Marfan Foundation in memory of Harold, Norma, David, and Richard Makanoff.


Cool Idea of the Day: The Stacks Writing Corner

The Stacks Bookstore, Savannah, Ga., shared photos on Facebook highlighting one of the store's features: "Meet the Stacks Writing Corner! Don't let anyone tell you different: writing is HARD and impostor syndrome is real. So come by anytime to write from The Stacks writing desk, peer inside the mirror for a little extra boost, soak up some inspiration from a change of scenery and the window view. We'll be here to cheer you on as you build and create every word!"

Chalkboard: Read Between the Lynes

Brr! It's cold! Cozy up with a book." That was the sidewalk chalkboard message outside Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill., which noted: "We're back in the shop! We invite you to visit us! It's warm and toasty here at Read Between The Lynes. Our shelves are brimming with books, and our cafe team would be happy to make you a specialty warming beverage."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular December Books

The most popular book club titles at Reading Group Choices in December were All the Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow (Algonquin) and Unfinished Woman: A Memoir by Robyn Davidson (Bloomsbury).

Personnel Changes at Viking Penguin; Workman Publishing

Julia Rickard has been promoted to senior publicist at Viking Penguin.


Alyssa Cuevas, formerly publicity assistant temp at HarperCollins, has joined Workman Publishing as publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kat Ashmore on Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall: Kat Ashmore, author of Big Bites: Wholesome, Comforting Recipes That Are Big on Flavor, Nourishment, and Fun: A Cookbook (Rodale Books, $35, 9780593580158).

This Weekend on Book TV: Rachel Slade on Making It in America

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Sunday, January 14
8 a.m. Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-author of #SayHerName: Black Women's Stories of Police Violence and Public Silence (Haymarket Books, $17.95, 9781642594522). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. Rachel Slade, author of Making It in America: The Almost Impossible Quest to Manufacture in the U.S.A. (And How It Got That Way) (Pantheon, $28, 9780593316887). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Brendan O'Brien, author of Homesick: Why Housing Is Unaffordable and How We Can Change It (Chicago Review Press, $19.99, 9781641609692).

4 p.m. Arthur Milikh, author of Up from Conservatism: Revitalizing the Right after a Generation of Decay (Encounter Books, $32.99, 9781641772907).

6 p.m. Cara Fitzpatrick, author of The Death of Public School: How Conservatives Won the War Over Education in America (Basic Books, $32, 9781541646773).

7 p.m. Andrew C. McKevitt, author of Gun Country: Gun Capitalism, Culture, and Control in Cold War America (The University of North Carolina Press, $24.95, 9781469677248).

Books & Authors

Awards: Writers’ Prize Shortlists; Philip K. Dick Nominees

Shortlists have been announced for the 2024 Writers' Prize (formerly the Rathbones Folio Prize), which recognizes literary excellence and is open to all works of literature, regardless of form, published in the English language in the U.K. in 2023. The awards are nominated and judged by the Folio Academy.

Writers' Prize category winners and the overall Book of the Year will be named March 13. The winner in each of the three categories--fiction, nonfiction and poetry--receives a £2,000 (about $2,540) prize; the overall winner receives an additional £30,000 ($38,100). This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright
The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Thunderclap by Laura Cumming
Doppelganger by Naomi Klein
A Thread of Violence by Mark O’Connell

Self-portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant
The Home Child by Liz Berry
Bright Fear by Mary Jean Chan


Nominations have been made for the 2024 Philip K. Dick Award, sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and honoring the best science fiction published in paperback original form in the U.S. in the previous year. The award ceremony, sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society, will take place March 29 during Norwescon 46. The nominees:

Danged Black Thing by Eugen Bacon (Apex Book Company)
The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman (Tin House)
Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey (Orbit)
Wild Spaces by S.L. Coney (Tordotcom)
Where Rivers Go to Die by Dilman Dila (Rosarium Publishing)
These Burning Stars by Bethany Jacobs (Orbit)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 16:

The Fury by Alex Michaelides (Celadon, $28.99, 9781250758989) is a thriller about a former movie star and her friends stuck on a private Greek island.

Hero: A Novel by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press, $27.95, 9781613164778) follows a private security agent in Los Angeles who becomes a hitman's target.

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett (Del Rey, $28, 9780593500194) continues a fantasy series about a scholar of faerie folklore.

Only If You're Lucky: A Novel by Stacy Willingham (Minotaur, $29, 9781250887931) is a thriller about a college friendship gone wrong.

The Curse of Pietro Houdini: A Novel by Derek B. Miller (Avid Reader Press, $28.99, 9781668020883) is an art heist tale set in Italy during World War II.

To Challenge Heaven by David Weber and Chris Kennedy (Tor Books, $29.99, 9781250907394) is book three in the Out of the Dark sci-fi series.

Rick Riordan Presents: A Drop of Venom by Sajni Patel (Rick Riordan Presents, $18.99, 9781368092685) is a YA remix of Medusa with Indian mythology.

Come Hungry: Salads, Meals, and Sweets for People Who Live to Eat by Melissa Ben-Ishay (Morrow, $35, 9780063299276) includes over 100 recipes focused on fresh greens.

I Survived Capitalism and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt: Everything I Wish I Never Had to Learn About Money by Madeline Pendleton (Doubleday, $27, 9780385549783) is the memoir of an entrepreneur practicing a compassionate alternative to capitalism.

The Life Brief: A Playbook for No-Regrets Living by Bonnie Wan (Simon Element, $27.99, 9781982195502) is a guide to navigating life decisions and stagnation.

The Allure of the Multiverse: Extra Dimensions, Other Worlds, and Parallel Universes by Paul Halpern (Basic Books, $30, 9781541602175) explores popular and scientific fascination with the multiverse theory.

Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are by Rebecca Boyle (Random House, $28, 9780593129722) chronicles the immense impact of Earth's closest companion.

Midnight Ruin: Dark Olympus Book 6 by Katee Robert (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $16.99, 9781728262796).

Love, Me: A Novel by Jessica Saunders (Union Square & Co., $17.99, 9781454950790).

Machine Vendetta: The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies Book 3 by Alastair Reynolds (Orbit, $19.99, 9780316462846).

This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer (Quirk Books, $18.99, 9781683693680).

The Lily of Ludgate Hill: Belles of London Book 3 by Mimi Matthews (Berkley, $17, 9780593337189).

The Cartoon Guide to Geometry by Larry Gonick (Morrow, $26, 9780063157576).

Best Horror of the Year, Volume Fifteen by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade, $19.99, 9781949102727).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Yours for the Taking: A Novel by Gabrielle Korn (St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250283368). "With multiple narrators with diverse backgrounds and ideas, this book kept me guessing. This story is all about how different decisions one makes (as well as society), no matter the intention, can negatively harm what follows." --McKenna Moran, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville, Ill.

Welcome Home, Stranger: A Novel by Kate Christensen (Harper, $28.99, 9780063299702). "Rachel lives an independent life. When her mom dies back home in Maine, Rachel's return opens up wounds that she might finally be able to examine and heal. Complex, insightful and real, this moving story of lifelong relationships is resonant." --Beth Mynhier, Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, Ill.

Second Chances in New Port Stephen: A Novel by TJ Alexander (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $17.99, 9781668021965). "I can't stop talking about Second Chances in New Port Stephen! Such a beautiful, fun love story, and the ways queerness and transness are just simply accepted are so important. There is so much packed into this sweet romance--it's a miracle!" --Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y.

Ages 0+
Hippos Remain Calm by Sandra Boynton (Boynton Bookworks, $18.99, 9781665938532). "We can always use more Sandra Boynton and more of her Hippos, especially reading their Hippoetry! A great read-aloud with multiple tangents and distractions--and of course, music." --Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo

Ages 8 to 12
Tasty: A History of Yummy Experiments by Victoria Grace Elliott (Random House Graphic, $13.99, 9780593425312). "Tasty is a sweet, fun way to get kids interested in learning history! There are so many things to learn in this book; even I learned new stuff as an adult. The art style is perfect, and the humor and storyline will keep kids hooked!" --Olivia Hoover, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.

Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
That's Not My Name by Megan Lally (Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99, 9781728270111). "That's Not My Name is binge-worthy. 50 pages in, I knew I wouldn't be sleeping until I figured out who Mary Boone is! Incredible characters, intriguing twists, and bombshell revelations…you are not prepared for this--that's what makes it so great." --Molly Olivo, Child's Play, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People

To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People by Noah Feldman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $32 hardcover, 416p., 9780374298340, March 5, 2024)

There's a popular expression among Jews that sums up the diversity of Jewish belief and practice: "Two Jews, three opinions." Without doubt, Noah Feldman's well-informed, incisive To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People will elicit a variety of clashing responses as it surveys some of the most critical issues in the Jewish world, not least because it arrives at a time of crisis brought on by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Feldman, a law professor at Harvard and noted public intellectual, brings to the project a substantial grounding in Jewish sources and a life experience that began with 13 years at a Modern Orthodox parochial school in his hometown of Cambridge, Mass. While maintaining a critical distance from his subject, he undeniably approaches it with deep respect and even love, with the goal of showing "the beauty and nobility of all the currently available modes of Jewish life, even as I point out their limitations and contradictions."

In his book's three well-documented sections, Feldman addresses a trio of expansive and daunting topics: Jewish perspectives on God, Israel, and the notion of peoplehood. Rather than considering these contentious subjects from the perspective of the prevailing movements in organized Jewry--Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist--he prefers to recategorize Jews into broad segments he calls Traditionalists, Progressives, Evolutionists, and Godless Jews.

These approaches differ largely in their view of the immutability of the laws laid down in the Torah. In Feldman's taxonomy, Traditionalists are convinced of the Torah's unerring dictates that, for them, are as relevant today as they were when first transmitted by God; Progressives are inspired by the Torah's moral teachings to work for social justice; Evolutionists acknowledge the ultimate authority of Jewish law while seeking to adapt it to modern conditions; while the Godless (or what Feldman calls "bagels-and-lox Jews"), consider themselves Jewish even in the absence of belief or practice. 

To Be a Jew Today is a deeply serious work that's aimed primarily at a knowledgeable, or at least curious, Jewish audience, but is one that's accessible for any reader who wants to know more about the challenges, contradictions, and richness of Jewish life. It poses profound, respectful questions that don't admit of easy answers, particularly when it comes to the future of the nation of Israel once the current conflict has ended. There's much here that's likely to please or unsettle anyone who engages seriously with what it means to be Jewish in the contemporary world. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Harvard scholar Noah Feldman leads readers on a stimulating intellectual journey through the world of contemporary Jewish belief and practice.

Powered by: Xtenit