Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 18, 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

A Thanks for an Appeals Ruling Against Texas's 'Sexual Rating' Law

"We are grateful for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' decisive action in striking down this unconstitutional law. With this historic decision the court has moved decisively to ensure the constitutionally protected speech of authors, booksellers, publishers, and readers, and prevent the state government from unlawfully compelling speech on the part of private citizens. The court's decision also shields Texas businesses from the imposition of impossibly onerous conditions, protects the basic constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, and lets Texas parents make decisions for their own children without government interference or control. This is a good day for bookstores, readers, and free expression."

--Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston; Charley Rejsek, CEO of BookPeople, Austin; Allison K. Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association; Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild; and Jeff Trexler, interim director of Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in a joint statement after the federal Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court preliminary injunction against Texas's "sexual rating" law

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!


Bookstore Sales Fall 3.4% in November; Down 0.4% for the Year

In November, bookstore sales dropped 3.4%, to $597 million, compared to November 2022, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates, the seventh monthly loss for bookstore sales this year. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in November were down 4.8% from November 2019. For the first 11 months of the year, bookstore sales have slipped 0.4%, at $6.6 billion, compared to the first 11 months of 2022.

Total retail sales in November rose 4%, to $712.6 billion, compared to November 2022. For the year to date, total retail sales climbed 3.2%, to $7,562 billion, compared to the first 11 months of 2022.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

Browsing Room Bookstore & Café Opens in Cleveland

The Browsing Room Bookstore & Café opened recently at 1301 East 9th Street, first floor, in the Galleria at Erieview Tower, Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland magazine reported that it was "a labor of love" for sisters and co-owners Catherine Kassouf and Jean Khoury, who renovated the location over the past year.

The space had originally caught Kassouf's eye while she was walking with her husband through the building. "I just stopped, looked at my husband, and said, 'There's my bookstore,' " she said. He replied: "What? You have a bookstore?" Kassouf opened her wallet and pulled out an old piece of paper, on which was written "The Browsing Room Bookstore." She had carried that paper for decades, since graduating from Ohio State University.

The retired nurse anesthetist has finally seen her dream materialize, Cleveland magazine observed, adding that inside "you'll find books inspired by her travels to more than 50 countries, where she'd often stop by local bookstores."

"You find these incredible authors translated in English, and reading them, you understand the difference in thought of each person from each country. You realize people think so differently from one another and the way they tell their stories emulates that," Kassouf said. "I want to have a rich section of authors from the world I get to travel in, and also worlds I don't travel in."

The Browsing Room Bookstore's space features "hand-picked cushy living room chairs, along with cups and saucers for beverages, adding small touches to make customers feel more cozy. Kassouf and Khoury got a custom live edge wood countertop from Byler's in Amish Country," Cleveland magazine wrote.

"I wanted it to look like you walked in my house, with my books, and to feel like you're home," Kassouf said. "This is a place to sit quietly, read a book, order books, have a nice cup of coffee, have a little something to eat."

Khoury added: "My passion is helping her. I love her so much. My passion is helping her realize this dream, and it's coming together pretty nicely."

They also hope to create a community gathering space that will host educational talks and rentals for events. "We're trying to make it an open space with the community," Khoury said. 

Ownership Change for Hedgehog.INK! Bookstore in Fort Scott, Kan.

Randi Witt is the new owner of Hedgehog.INK!, a used and new bookstore in Fort Scott, Kan., effective February 1. Fort Scott Biz reported that she will operate the store with the support of her husband, Jordan Witt, and their three children. Jan and Dick Hedges opened the bookshop in 2018, and it was put up for sale in December 2023. Jan Hedges's husband died in 2022.

New owner Randi Witt and family.

"I heard about Jan planning to sell the store, and I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for," Randi Witt said. "Jan and Dick created a magical space that makes you feel good when you walk inside. The store has something for everyone, from books to unique items and gifts."

The Witt family enjoys bookstores. "In college, Jordan and I would frequently visit a used bookstore in downtown Lawrence," she said. "Now we enjoy taking our kids to bookstores. Hopefully, our bookstore can give others the same memorable experience and be a place they want to frequently visit."

The shop's name will remain the same, according to Witt, who noted, "Even though I will be the new owner, I see this as a continuation of the amazing bookstore Jan and Dick brought to our community. I plan to put my own spin on the space and expand our offerings over time. I will continue to accept books for credit or donation. In addition to books, you can purchase journals, art supplies, candy, handmade purses, goat milk soaps, and lavender products. We definitely want to continue supporting local authors." She is also exploring the possibility of expanding store operating hours.

"I will be running the store day to day, and I will rely on help from my kids," she added. "This is definitely a family venture."

David Baldacci Named Pen/Faulkner Literary Champion

David Baldacci

Author and philanthropist David Baldacci has been selected as the 2024 PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion, an annual commendation that recognizes a lifetime of devoted literary advocacy and a commitment to inspiring new generations of readers and writers. Baldacci will accept his award, along with this year's PEN/Faulkner Award winner and finalists, in a celebration to be held Washington, D.C., on May 2.

"David Baldacci, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide, has been a paragon of service to the literary community," said executive director Gwydion Suilebhan. "PEN/Faulkner is dedicated to the idea that fiction creates empathy within and among communities and advances civil discourse, and Baldacci's devoted philanthropic work in promoting literacy has ensured that countless Americans have access to those possibilities."

Baldacci commented: "Like most writers, I was greatly influenced from an early age by books. Books take us out of our comfort zones, and encourage us to see the world from other perspectives. Reading increases empathy--perhaps the finest of all human qualities--and the ability to read is a powerful tool against homelessness, hunger, and poverty. Thus, when someone tells you that books are magical, believe them. I am thrilled and honored to accept this award from PEN/Faulkner, an organization that stands for everything I believe in about the miraculous power of words."

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation created the PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion in 2020, on the occasion of the organization's 40th anniversary. The inaugural recipient, recognized in 2021, was LeVar Burton, followed in 2022 by Oprah Winfrey and in 2023 by Terry Gross.

Obituary Note: Howard Waldrop

Howard Waldrop, "one of our most accomplished and celebrated authors of short fiction, known for his erudite, playful, and allusive work," died January 14, Locus magazine reported. He was 77. Waldrop's best known story, "The Ugly Chickens" (1980), won World Fantasy and Nebula Awards, and was a Hugo Award finalist.

His first work of genre interest was "Lunchbox" in Analog (1972), and he went on to publish scores of stories, including seven Nebula Award finalists and eight Hugo Award nominees. 

His stories were collected in Howard Who? (1986), All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past (1987), Night of the Cooters (1990), Going Home Again (1997), Dream Factories and Radio Pictures (2001), Heart of Whitenesse (2005), The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode in On) / The King of Where-I-Go (2006), Things Will Never Be the Same: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005 (2007), Other Worlds, Better Lives: A Howard Waldrop Reader: Selected Long Fiction 1989-2003 (2008), and Horse of a Different Color (2013). 

Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations (2003) features stories he co-wrote with others, and some of his early work was collected in H'ard Starts: The Early Waldrop (2023). He also wrote the novels The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 (1974, with Jake Saunders) and Them Bones (1984), as well as the novella A Dozen Tough Jobs (1989).

Waldrop was born in Houston, Miss., but spent most of his life in Texas, and much of his writing was set in the American South and Southwest. He was a member of the Turkey City Writing Workshop and taught at the Clarion Writers Workshop. Waldrop was "a beloved and major figure in the Texas writing community, and was famous for his hilarious readings at conventions," Locus noted. In 2021, he received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

In a remembrance, noted that Waldrop "is recognized by many to be one of the best short story writers in SFF," adding that he was also known for Night of the Cooters, a 2022 film short based on one of his stories that Vincent D'Onofrio directed and starred in, with George R.R. Martin producing.

"Most people reading my writing think I'm like a buffoon, you know, blowing off my bazoo just by the writing," Waldrop told the Austin Chronicle in 2017. "I don't use it to hide, but people reading it can probably figure out what I'm about. But I don't set out to do that. Most people write to show off. I write because I don't know anything else."


Image of the Day: Michaelides at Books & Greetings

Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J., welcomed author Alex Michaelides for his new thriller, The Fury (Celadon); more than 200 people attended the launch event. Pictured: Christine Mykityshyn, senior publicity director at Celadon; Michaelides; Books & Greetings owner Kenny Sarfin.

Chalkboard: Wild Sisters Book Co.

(photo: Max Mutter)

Now in its new quarters, Wild Sisters Book Co., Sacramento, Calif., recently offered this chalkboard that asks, "Should you buy a book today? Do you really need a new books?" A yes answer leads to "you should buy a new book." "Nope" leads to "you must be mistaken! maybe one more won't hurt..."

Personnel Changes at Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

In the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group publicity departments:

Kathy Zuckerman is promoted to v-p, executive publicist at Knopf. She has had a 35-year career with the company, starting in editorial.

Michiko Clark is promoted to v-p, senior director of publicity at Pantheon and has been with the company more than 20 years.

Jess Purcell is promoted to senior director of publicity at Knopf. She has been at Knopf for 10 years.

Elena Hershey is promoted to director of publicity at Doubleday. She joined the group in 2020.

Sarah New is promoted to associate director of publicity at Knopf.

Amy Hagedorn is promoted to publicist at Knopf.

Micah Kelsey, who joined the Knopf publicity team as a temp in February 2023, has been hired as a full-time publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Allison Holker Boss on the Talk

Good Morning America: Dr. Jackie Greene, author of Permission to Live Free: Living the Life God Created You For (Thomas Nelson, $27.99, 9781400241859).

Drew Barrymore Show: Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Drunk-ish: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Alcohol (Gallery Books, $27.99, 9781668019412).

The Talk: Allison Holker Boss, co-author of Keep Dancing Through: A Boss Family Groove (Disney Hyperion, $18.99, 9781368092197).

This Weekend on Book TV: Cory Doctorow, Brian Merchant

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.

Saturday, January 20
9:30 a.m. Paul Carter, author of Richard Nixon: California's Native Son (Potomac Books, $36.95, 9781640125605). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, January 21
8 a.m. Andrew Pettegree, author of The Book at War: How Reading Shaped Conflict and Conflict Shaped Reading (Basic Books, $35, 9781541604346). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:50 a.m. Ganesh Sitaraman, author of Why Flying Is Miserable: And How to Fix It (Columbia Global Reports, $17, ‎ 9798987053584). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:50 p.m.)

10 a.m. David Stockman, author of Trump's War on Capitalism (Hot Books, $26.99, ‎ 9781510779327). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Dr. Jeremy Nobel, author of Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection (‎Avery, $28, 9780593191941).

3:05 p.m. Michael E. Mann, author of Our Fragile Moment: How Lessons from Earth's Past Can Help Us Survive the Climate Crisis (‎PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541702899).

4:15 p.m. Bettina L. Love, author of Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal (St. Martin's Press, $29, ‎9781250280381).

5:50 p.m. Cory Doctorow, author of The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation (Verso, $24.95, 9781804291245), and Brian Merchant, author of Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316487740), at Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles.

Books & Authors

Awards: Walter Dean Myers Winners

We Need Diverse Books announced the 2024 Walter Dean Myers Awards and Honor books for outstanding children's literature in two categories: young readers (ages 9-12) and teen (ages 13-18). The award, also known as "The Walter," is named for prolific children's and young adult author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). Titles chosen for the ninth annual award "recognize diverse authors whose works feature diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way." The 2024 Walter Awards will be tentatively held on Wednesday, March 13, in Washington, D.C.

Younger Readers Winner: Remember Us by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books/PRH)
Younger Readers Honor: Grounded by Aisha Saeed, Huda Al-Marashi, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, and S.K. Ali (Amulet/Abrams)
Teen Winner: Saints of the Household by Ari Tison (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Teen Honor: All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr (Amulet/Abrams)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 23:

Random in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel by J.D. Robb (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250289544) is the 58th In Death crime thriller.

Harbor Lights by James Lee Burke (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, 9780802160966) is a collection of seven short stories and a novella.

Dead Man's Hand by Brad Taylor (Morrow, $32, 9780063222052) is the 18th Pike Logan thriller.

No One Can Know: A Novel by Kate Alice Marshall (Flatiron, $28.99, 9781250859914) is a psychological thriller about siblings reunited in the house where their parents were murdered.

Exordia by Seth Dickinson (Tordotcom, $29.99, 9781250233011) is the first sci-fi foray by the author of the Baru Cormorant series.

Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar (Knopf, $28, 9780593537619) follows the orphaned son of Iranian immigrants uncovering family secrets.

Eyes That Weave the World's Wonders by Joanna Ho and Liz Kleinrock, illus. by Dung Ho (Harper, $19.99, 9780063057777) is a companion to Joanna Ho and Dung Ho's 2021 picture book, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners.

Too Much: My Great Big Native Family by Laurel Goodluck, illus. by Bridget George (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9781665911269) is a picture book about a boy trying to shine when surrounded by a big, boisterous family.

You, Me, and Ulysses S. Grant by Brad Neely (Keylight Books, $30.99, 9781684429752) is a humorous, form-defying biography of the 18th president.

And Then We Rise: A Guide to Loving and Taking Care of Self by Common (HarperOne, $30, 9780063215177) is the artist and activist's guide to addressing mental and physical health.

Disillusioned: Five Families and the Unraveling of America's Suburbs by Benjamin Herold (Penguin Press, $32, 9780593298183) chronicles racial inequalities and other issues in the suburbs through five families.

Cool Food: Erasing Your Carbon Footprint One Bite at a Time by Robert Downey Jr. and Thomas Kostigen (Blackstone Publishing, $29.99, 9798200962372) gives ways to reduce individual climate impact through food choices.

5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food by Jamie Oliver (Flatiron, $39.99, 9781250319852) includes 125 Mediterranean recipes.

Forgottenness: A Novel by Tanja Maljartschuk, trans. by Zenia Tompkins (Liveright, $17.99, 9781324093220).

When the Jessamine Grows by Donna Everhart (Kensington, $17.95, 9781496740700).

Mine by J.R. Ward (Pocket Books, $10.99, 9781982180232).

The Breakup Tour by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (Berkley, $17, 9780593638644).

Murder at the Blarney Bash by Darci Hannah (Kensington Cozies, $8.99, 9781496741745).

The Diamond of London by Andrea Penrose (Kensington, $17.95, 9781496744203).

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:

Rabbit Hole: A Novel by Kate Brody (Soho Crime, $25.95, 9781641294874). "Teddy's family fell apart when her sister disappeared. Her father never stopped searching, and ends his life on the ten-year anniversary. Against her best intentions, Teddy falls deep into the same search. A taut story of family and letting secrets go." --Andi Richardson, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

The Age of Deer: Trouble and Kinship with our Wild Neighbors by Erika Howsare (Catapult, $28, 9781646221349). "I loved this rigorous, ceaselessly tender work of natural-cultural history. Through both archival research and immersive reportage, Howsare's gaze remains questing and intimate. A must-read for fans of Robin Wall Kimmerer and Sy Montgomery." --Elisabeth Plumlee-Watson, Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Nonfiction: A Novel by Julie Myerson (Tin House Books, $17.95, 9781959030317). "A beautiful, blistering autofiction about a woman doing what she can, while unable to do very much, to look after a daughter, while reconciling her history with her own mother, her art, and the world. Fans of Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti will love this." --Kelsey Ford, Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.

Ages 1 to 4
Like So by Ruth Forman, illus. by Raissa Figueroa (Little Simon, $18.99, 9781665917544). "This warm picture book shows love through the days shared by a little girl and her grandmother. The simple kisses, kitchen hugs, skies filled with butterflies, moonlit waves, and constellations all reflect the joy of family and nature." --Tim McCarthy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

Ages 8 to 12
The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan (Holiday House, $17.99, 9780823454396). "Brigit's mother is a selkie, born in the sea, and she is half-selkie with webbing between her fingers, which she must hide. Brigit learns hard truths about being a part of two very different worlds. A wonderful novel about fighting for who you are." --Kalli King, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho

Teen Readers
Sky's End by Marc J. Gregson (Peachtree Teen, $18.99, 9781682635766). "This powerful YA dystopian debut is unique and original. In this morally ambivalent morass, Conrad must balance his brutal survival instincts with his braver, kinder spirit if he is to survive the deadly Selection and become a leader worth following." --Jordan Zwick, The Book Seller, Grass Valley, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: How to Solve Your Own Murder

How to Solve Your Own Murder by Kristen Perrin (Dutton, $28 hardcover, 368p., 9780593474013, March 26, 2024)

In How to Solve Your Own Murder, first-time novelist Kristen Perrin delivers a spellbinding cozy mystery layered with so many twists and turns that readers, right up to the last page, will keep changing their minds about whodunnit and why.

The intrigue begins with a chilling scene from 1965 in Dorset, England: three friends, all 17-year-old girls, attend the Castle Knoll country fair. On a lark, they have their fortunes told by an ageless-looking psychic wearing a "tacky silk turban" in the darkness of a tent that "screams Hollywood kitsch." Two of the girls dismiss the psychic's predictions, but Frances Adams takes the warning to heart: "Your future contains dry bones.... All signs point toward your murder." A year later, when one of the trio of girls goes missing, that unsettling prophecy forever changes Frances's future, as she lives for decades with the expectation of her impending death.

Perrin craftily unravels Frances's life story from the perspective of her 25-year-old great-niece, Annabelle "Annie" Adams. An aspiring mystery novelist, Annabelle lives in Chelsea with her "bohemian" mother, once a "quite... famous and successful" artist, now suffering a career slump. The house they share is technically owned by wealthy Great Aunt Frances--a superstitious, "very calculating" and "weird old lady with a huge country house and piles of money" who has been estranged from the family for years.

Annabelle is stunned when she receives correspondence informing her that Great Aunt Frances, whom she has never met, wants to discuss Annabelle's appointment as "sole benefactor of her estate and assets." Just as Annabelle is finally about to meet her long-lost aunt at her Castle Knoll estate, Frances turns up dead. Did she die of natural causes? Or did the long-ago psychic's prediction come true? An investigation reveals a long list of potential suspects that includes estate caretakers, villagers, friends, and family. When Frances's will is finally read, the terms stipulate that whoever can solve the mystery of what she believed was her impending death inherits her estate and fortune.

A cleverly competing test of wills pits characters against each other. Perrin suspensefully braids the past and the present, weaving a tight, intricate web of dubious secrets, motives, and deceits so ominous that readers will be biting their nails anticipating the chilling final reveal. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: Kristen Perrin's debut is a spellbinding mystery that intricately unravels the secrets of a superstitious woman who lives, for decades, with an acute awareness of memento mori.

Powered by: Xtenit