Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 22, 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.


Ode Books Debuting with Paul Yamazaki's Reading the Room

"We're looking for deeply kind, deeply thoughtful, deeply intelligent people who have devoted themselves to their literary or cultural communities," said Jeff Deutsch, executive director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores and co-publisher of Ode Books, a new publishing venture that will debut April 17 with the publication of renowned City Lights bookseller Paul Yamazaki's Reading the Room: A Bookseller's Tale.

A partnership between the Seminary Co-op Bookstores and Matthew Engelke, professor of religion and director of the Institute of Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University, Ode Books will publish titles that are "enthusiastic tributes or exhortations about books," written in a stylistically interesting way and from a singular perspective. And while the press's first title will come from a bookseller, Ode Books is open to publishing the work of any individual within the trade who can "bring to light the work of bookmaking."

Jeff Deutsch

"Paul is dear to so many of us and a hero to so many of us," said Deutsch. "I couldn't think of a better bookseller to begin this series."

Structured as a series of q&as over the course of 24 hours, Reading the Room is Yamazaki's first book. It explores his childhood in Southern California, his move to San Francisco, his storied career at City Lights Booksellers in San Francisco (for which he was honored at the National Book Awards in November), and many other aspects of the book business. The book, Deutsch added, is as much a tribute to City Lights as it is "to Paul as a person."

Referencing Yamazaki's recent honors, Deutsch said the bookselling world is recognizing that there is something unique that he brings to the world. The question becomes, "how do we preserve that voice for future generations of booksellers?"

Paul Yamazaki

Calling Yamazaki a "mentor," Deutsch noted that he'd never written a book before, and like so many other booksellers, "wanted to be on the other side of the counter." But after a few conversations and "some attempts at persuasion," Yamazaki agreed to do it.

Yamazaki will be a featured author at Winter Institute 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio, next month, and will do a book tour for Reading the Room. While specifics have not been announced, Ode Books will look to "leverage his and our communities," Deutsch said.

Following Reading the Room, the next Ode Books title will be River of Books by Donna Seaman, adult books editor at Booklist. While Seaman has authored a number of books already, Deutsch noted, this will be the first book she's written "about herself and her life." She, too, will do a book tour after publication.

"Donna is someone many of us look up to," Deutsch said. Evident in her writing is a "love of language and attention to style" that is "inspiring." She is "in community with so many of us in bookselling," and part of the "vast network that goes into bookmaking." Her work "makes visible this beautiful community."

In addition to those by Yamazaki and Seaman, Ode Books has plans to publish a book by Sunny Fischer, co-founder and board chair of the National Public Housing Museum, and Katarzyna Bartoszyńska, an academic who teaches comparative literature, has been a judge for the Best Translated Book Award, and has published a book called Estranging the Novel

Remarking that the books will "come when they will," Deutsch said he imagines Ode Books will publish one title per season, though the press is "not tying ourselves to the calendar." Acknowledging that schedules matter much more to publishers than to readers, he added that the team is "finding ways to finance great cultural work."

Asked how Ode Books came to be, Deutsch explained that it grew out of Prickly Paradigm Press. Originally developed and overseen by anthropologist Marshall Sahlins and inspired by the tradition of the pamphlet as a political and rhetorical tool, Prickly Paradigm publishes short, critical works on specific topics. They typically range from 15,000 to 40,000 words and espouse "strident arguments" often coming from anarchist and leftist perspectives.

Sahlins, Deutsch continued, was a "great supporter of the Co-op," and in 2019 he, Deutsch, and Engelke met to discuss a succession plan and the future of Prickly Paradigm. During that meeting, Deutsch shared an idea that would incorporate the form and structure used by Prickly Paradigm but, rather than focus on "screeds against something," would instead celebrate books. Sahlins, who passed away in 2021, "loved it."

"I'm a yay-sayer, not a naysayer," Deutsch said. "I think in bookselling, we prefer to be enthusiasts." --Alex Mutter

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Loyalty Bookstores Moving Its Silver Spring, Md., Location

Loyalty's future home in Silver Spring.

Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., is moving its Silver Spring location in February.

In a message to customers, the store announced that it is "joining forces with Bump 'N Grind Coffee and Record Shop and Analog Market." On February 8, Loyalty will open its store and offices in the Analog Market, on the upper floor and part of the ground floor. The building will be renovated this spring "to expand, including more shop space for Loyalty and other partners, a larger lounge area for those enjoying their coffee, and most exciting for us, an indoor / outdoor event space to host programming all year long. Loyalty Bookstores will be open for our regular store hours throughout the Analog Market renovation and will expand within the space after renovations are complete.

"Loyalty is dedicated to growing our offerings in this new space and we will continue to be a prominent local source for a diverse, thoughtful selection of books, unique stationery and gifts, and innovative programming. Bump 'N Grind's Analog Market is a community-driven hub for makers and vendors like Candles With Attitude and Hello Herren, connected to many small businesses in the Silver Spring area. This new space will connect Loyalty Bookstores with even more of our esteemed neighbors, increase our space for hosting author events, community programming, and support our goals for growth and stability in 2024 and beyond. We can't wait to see you there!"

Loyalty noted that "the bookselling world has changed a lot over the last few years, offering both new joys and new challenges. A huge part of our mission at Loyalty Bookstores is to embrace the challenges--like shrinking profit margins, safety concerns, and the ongoing fight for underrepresented books--fueled by the joy we get from being a part of this thriving community of book lovers."

Late last year, Loyalty Bookstores held a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised $65,000 to create an emergency fund, pay down debts, and make changes at the Silver Spring store to ensure safety for staff and customers.

Book & Bar, Portsmouth, N.H., to Close 

Book & Bar, Portsmouth, N.H., "a downtown hub for book browsers, budding poets and musicians from near and far," will close January 28 after 12 years in business, the Portsmouth Herald reported. Owner Dave Pelletier, who bought the business in 2017 from founders Jon Strymish, John Petrovato, and David Lovelace, plans to keep his long-term lease in place and take time to consider the future for the commercial unit in the historic Custom House. Pelletier is also the co-founder and co-owner of Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in the city. 

"The goal was to have fun, show people a good place and support the arts," he said. "It was a challenge learning the book business. That's an additional facet to it. Selling books, dining, entertainment--it was quite a feat to be able to do that for 12 years between my people and the previous owners. There was a lot of joy in it.

"It's been a lot of fun. With any business there are challenges but there's a lot of joy in it, too. But it's time to move on," Pelletier continued. "At the end of the day I feel really good about what we've done. It's sad to have people be sad, but there's a lot of joy in hearing all their appreciation. I feel like we were successful for 12 years."

Although the Custom House building is currently for sale, Pelletier said the timing of Book & Bar's impending closure is coincidental. "I enjoy having that space," he said of his lease. "I'm going to probably entertain whatever possibilities come down the road, but right now it's the middle of winter, and I'm going to take a break."

A closing announcement on the business' website noted: "For over a decade Book & Bar has been more than a business; it has been a home away from home for so many people: readers, writers, thinkers, drinkers, poets, and performers. We've played host to people from every corner of the world and from all walks of life: for their celebrations and ceremonies, tributes and tribulations, milestones and memories. In short, it's been a wild and wonderful run."

Obituary Note: Lev Rubinstein

Lev Rubinstein, a Russian poet, essayist and political dissident during both the Soviet and Putin eras, died January 14 from injuries sustained after he was hit by a car in Moscow, the New York Times reported. He was 76. Rubinstein "was considered one of the founders of the Russian conceptualism movement, an avant-garde fusion of art and prose that thumbed its nose at the restrictions of the Socialist Realism that predominated in the 1970s and '80s." 

"Note card poems were one of his contributions to the movement, with each stanza printed on a separate card," the Times noted, adding that he "was inspired by the card catalogs he had encountered as a librarian at his alma mater, the Moscow Correspondence Pedagogical Institute, now known as Sholokhov Moscow State University for Humanities. But being subject to censorship encouraged him to search for a different medium."

"I wanted that the text could be an object, a literary object, a theatrical object--all at once," he said in a 2020 interview with the literary magazine Pank.

His work was published abroad and circulated within the Soviet Union as samizdat. After the collapse of Soviet Communism, he continued writing for mainstays of the Russian liberal intellectual press, including Itogi, Kommersant, and more recently the website Republic.

In 1999, Rubinstein received the Andrei Bely Prize, the independent literary prize for writing that eschews censorship, for service to "humanities studies." His novel Signs of Attention won the 2012 NOS prize, a Russian award for a work of prose. Rubenstein's other books include Catalog of Comedic Novelties, translated by Philip Metres & Tatiana Tulchinsky (2004), Compleat Catalog of Comedic Novelties, translated by Metres & Tulchinsky (2014), Here I Am: New Russian Writing, translated by Joanne Turnbull (2001), and Thirty-five New Pages, translated by Metres & Tulchinsky (2011).

"He was a living legend," Boris Filanovsky, a composer who wrote an opera based on some of Rubinstein's works that premiered in 2011, said in a phone interview. "When he read his lectures, it felt like all participants were taking communion." Filanovsky called Rubinstein "our linguistic consciousness.... His texts concern the very matter of language--what we say in Russia now seems to be stolen from Rubinstein's texts."

In recent years, Rubinstein continued to write for independently minded Russian outlets and was an outspoken opponent of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. He also supported opposition politician Aleksei A. Navalny, who has been imprisoned since January 2021 after spending months in Germany recovering from poisoning by a nerve agent.

Among the many tributes to Rubinstein posted on social media, one was from representatives of Russian human rights organization Memorial, which wrote: "Rubinstein was not arrested or tortured, he was not poisoned or persecuted in Russia in the time of war in Ukraine. But his tragic death in January 2024, just on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the catastrophe, seems bitterly symbolic. Today's Russia has no place for free citizens and independent poets. It barrels through them, not stopping at the red light to see them cross the road."

When he was asked last year what advice he would give to Russians living through increasing repression, Rubinstein observed: "In the late Soviet years, my closest friends and I were convinced that this boring Soviet slime would be with us forever. But the opposite happened.... From those times, I can give simple advice: Don't be afraid."


Videos: Fable Hollow Book Shoppe vs. the Frost Wizard

In a series of videos, Fable Hollow Book Shoppe, Knoxville, Tenn., has been chronicling the recent run of frigid winter weather and suspects it may be the work of a force unknown to the Weather Channel: the evil Frost Wizard.

Thursday: "The wizard is cunning. Our parking lot has been heavily enchanted with thick ice.... We will not be opening on this day, but there is always tomorrow. There is always our online shop, if you want to treat yourself and support our campaign against the evil Frost Wizard."

Friday: "There are whispers of the Frost Wizard's powers dwindling on the morrow, but after seeing what wretched curse he has placed on our parking lot, I can't in good faith invite anyone to Fable Hollow."

Saturday: "We will spend this day not mourning, but plotting.... The Frost Wizard cannot break us as long as we have you."

Late Saturday: "This is a tentative new friendship, so our parking lot is still a bit slick. Please be careful if you do venture out tomorrow! We'll be ready for you with warm drinks, comfy chairs, and beautiful stories."

Happy 50th Birthday, Brazos Bookstore!

Congratulations to Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex., which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Founded by Karl Kilian, who sold it in 2006 to a group of Houstonians, the store "has been the place for Houston's literary scene, earning a reputation as a shop with a thoughtful selection and one where Pulitzer Prize winners would often stop for a reading," the Houston Chronicle wrote in a profile.

With the official birthday in April, the bookstore will celebrate all year with special events, partnerships with local nonprofits, and more. The store has also set up an exhibit celebrating its 50 years that includes photos, news articles, and mementos.

One of the first celebratory events occurs this coming Saturday, January 27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., when the store is hosting a technology recycling event. Proceeds from it will go to Easter Seals of Houston, which provides occupational therapy to people with disabilities. Customers who donate an item receive a 10% discount on purchases.

Randi Null, who recently became general manager of Brazos and is a big fan of Easter Seals, explained to the Chronicle: "The thing about an indie bookstore is it reflects our staff, the store itself is a reflection of us. So it makes sense when we're doing activities like this. It's got to be something that we're passionate about."

Personnel Changes at Harmony Rodale; Viking Penguin; Johns Hopkins University Press

At Harmony Rodale:

Odette Fleming is promoted to assistant marketing director.

Jonathan Sung is promoted to marketing manager.

Kelly Doyle has joined Harmony Rodale as publicity manager. She was previously at Harper.


In the Viking Penguin marketing department:

Rachel Wainz is promoted to senior manager, marketing.

Chantal Canales is promoted to marketing associate.


At Johns Hopkins University Press:

Alison Mailloux, formerly associate publicist at Harvard University Press, has joined the press as publicist.

Anthony Blake has been promoted to publicist.

Thalia Barry has joined the press as sales assistant for Hopkins Sales Partners.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Uché Blackstock on Fresh Air

Today Show: Ruby Bridges, author of Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts (Orchard Books, $18.99, 9781338753912). She will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Good Morning America: Jamie Lee Curtis, author of Just One More Sleep: All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait... and Wait... and Wait (Philomel Books, $18.99, 9780593527047).

Also on GMA: Robert Downey Jr. and Thomas Kostigen, authors of Cool Food: Erasing Your Carbon Footprint One Bite at a Time (Blackstone Publishing, $29.99, 9798200962372).

Fresh Air: Uché Blackstock, author of Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine (Viking, $28, 9780593491287).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Common, author of And Then We Rise: A Guide to Loving and Taking Care of Self (HarperOne, $30, 9780063215177). He will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America and the Kelly Clarkson Show.

Good Morning America: Jamie Oliver, author of 5 Ingredients Mediterranean: Simple Incredible Food (Flatiron, $39.99, 9781250319852).

CBS Mornings: Crystal Hefner, author of Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself (Grand Central, $30, 9781538765678).

Tamron Hall: Arlan Hamilton, author of Your First Million: Why You Don't Have to Be Born into a Legacy of Wealth to Leave One Behind (Little, Brown Spark, $29, 9780316507967).

Drew Barrymore: Aliza Pressman, author of The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans (Simon Element, $28.99, 9781668014530).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Brad Meltzer, author of I Am Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Rocky Pond Books, $16.99, 9780593533338).

Movies: Small Things Like These

Small Things Like These, based on the novel by Claire Keegan, will open this year's Berlinale, the Berlin international film festival, on February 15. Deadline reported that the project, starring Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer), "reunites director Tim Mielants (WIL, De Patrick, The Responder) with Murphy. They previously worked together on series three of Peaky Blinders."

Claire Keegan's book Foster was adapted into the Oscar-nominated Irish-language film An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl). The film was financed by Artists Equity and Screen Ireland/Fís Éireann and was co-produced in Belgium by Wilder Content.

"With Small Things Like These, Tim Mielants tells the story of a man of few words, with wide open eyes, as clear as the skies of Ireland," said Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian. "In The Quiet Girl we already had sense of Claire Keegan's skill in portraying small, apparently simple characters and making them unforgettable; here her delicate, rich and yet down-to-earth writing finds a great interpreter in Cillian Murphy."

Books & Authors

Awards: Dublin Literary Longlist

A longlist has been released for the €100,000 (about $109,000) Dublin Literary Award, which is sponsored by Dublin City Council to honor a single work of fiction published in English. Libraries from 35 countries around the world nominated 70 titles. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 (about $81,750) and the translator receives €25,000 (about $27,250).

The shortlist will be announced March 26 and the winner named May 23, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin. Check out the complete International Dublin Literary Award longlist here.

Top Library Recommended Titles for February

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 February titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
A Fate Inked in Blood: Book One of the Saga of the Unfated by Danielle L. Jensen (Del Rey, $29.99, 9780593599839). "We're all used to the Viking stories that center around men. This story features Freya, who has to marry a fanatical chieftain to protect her family and her land. She's been blessed with magical powers, and it's been foretold that she'll be the one to unite the kingdoms. This is a great start to a new series that will appeal to everyone who enjoys nonstop action with a strong female warrior and a steamy love story to boot." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Tex.

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (Del Rey, $28.99, 9781984820709). "In a world where leviathan blood allows people to acquire amazing abilities, a brilliant investigator, Ana, and her sidekick in training, an 'engraver' named Din capable of recalling details with amazing accuracy, work together to uncover the culprit behind the grisly death of a wealthy official. This hugely enjoyable fantasy and mystery blend will leave readers eager for another installment." --Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign Public Library, Ill.

The Book of Doors: A Novel by Gareth Brown (Morrow, $30, ‎ 9780063323988). "Cassie likes her quiet life working in a bookstore in Manhattan. When one of her favorite customers dies in the shop one night, she finds a book in his possession with an inscription to her and the newfound ability that allows her to go through any door and come out wherever she wishes. This fantastical time travel novel has several interesting twists, including the final one." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, N.J.

The Fox Wife: A Novel by Yangsze Choo (Holt, $27.99, 9781250266019). "This wonderful weaving of fantasy and folklore builds on ancient lore that foxes can change form into humans. When a young woman is found dead in the snow, Bao, a thoughtful investigator, is hired to explain her death. Rumor has it that foxes might be involved, and Bao follows clues shrouded in mystery to find the story of her death--and more. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy and whodunits that feature vivid characters and settings." --Mitzi Sherwood, Honey Grove Library, Tex.

The Book of Love: A Novel by Kelly Link (Random House, $31, 9780812996586). "Three teens are newly back from the dead. Endowed with mysterious magical powers, they have to figure out how they died and what to do to keep from returning to the world of the dead. A huge cast of characters from the underworld and from their cute New England seaside town help (and hinder) them. This romantic, sexy, funny, and queer novel is recommended for readers who enjoy mythology and magical hijinks." --Emily Heath, Brooklyn Public Library, N.Y.

The Teacher by Freida McFadden (Poisoned Pen Press, $17.99, 9781728296210). "Eve, a married high school math teacher, has been warned that Addie, a teenage student coping with trauma and alienation from her fellow classmates, could not be trusted. Inappropriate conduct soon occurs. The twists and turns in this psychological thriller will leave the reader with a deep feeling of unease." --Kristin Skinner, Flat River Community Library, Mich.

Wandering Stars: A Novel by Tommy Orange (Knopf, $29, 9780593318256). "Orange's second novel is a stunning achievement, depicting over a century's worth of atrocities against the indigenous people of America, while also being a multigenerational family story full of the richly drawn, fascinating characters first introduced in There There." --Rachel Rooney, Mid-Continent Public Library, Mo.

After Annie: A Novel by Anna Quindlen (Random House, $30, 9780593229804). "The aftermath of grief following the unexpected death of Annie is told through the eyes of husband Bill, 13-year-old daughter, Ali, and best friend, Annemarie. Written with tenderness and raw emotion, the novel lets readers see into the hearts of these characters as they deal with the day-to-day realities of surviving life minus the person they most loved." --Sarah Siegel, Long Beach Public Library, N.Y.

When Grumpy Met Sunshine: A Novel by Charlotte Stein (‎St. Martin's Griffin, $18, 9781250867933). "When Mabel meets ex-footballer Alfie to discuss ghostwriting his memoirs, it doesn't go well. After he convinces her to work with him, the press gets involved, and they decide to pretend to be a couple. Filled with playful banter, embarrassing mishaps, and believable, respectful relationship building, this is great rom-com." --Lea Stapleton, Richland Library, S.C.

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams (‎Grand Central, $29, 9781538726709). "Ricki has been given an opportunity to achieve her dreams. Ezra is looking for an opportunity to be himself. They were destined to meet! With flashbacks to the Harlem Renaissance, this entertaining read is both modern and classic and does not disappoint. (Do yourself a favor and play some jazz in the background while reading.)" --Tonya Pearl, Memphis Public Library, Tenn.

Book Review

Review: The Manicurist's Daughter

The Manicurist's Daughter by Susan Lieu (Celadon, $30 hardcover, 320p., 9781250835048, March 12, 2024)

Susan Lieu had a distinct goal: "I wanted to publish this memoir when I was thirty-eight, the same age my mother was when she died from a tummy tuck." The Manicurist's Daughter debuts one month before Lieu's 39th birthday. Lieu originally made her family tragedy public in 2019 in a sold-out one-woman theatrical show, 140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother. In the memoir, she alchemizes her live performances into print, fortifying it with all the background and backstories to produce a raw, mesmerizing look at paralyzing grief, immigrant identity, and familial dysfunction and redemption.

After five failed attempts to escape Vietnam, Lieu's parents and two older brothers landed in Malaysia in 1981. Lieu's older sister was born during their two years living in a refugee camp while awaiting asylum. "In 1982... the Liễu clan was assigned the most coveted country of all: the United States of America." The quintet arrived in California in 1983 as "boat people." They welcomed Susan, their only U.S.-born child, in 1985. Má founded two nail salons, earning enough to sponsor five relatives from Vietnam, whom she housed and employed. In 1996, Má went into surgery for a tummy tuck, nose work, and chin implant. She was deprived of oxygen for 14 minutes before the doctor called 911. She flatlined after a five-day coma. Má's death, Lieu would learn, "was the result of a negligent white man with a track record of preying on vulnerable Vietnamese refugees."

The extended family quickly imploded. Lieu's father banished her maternal grandmother and aunts. The businesses faltered. Lieu's relationship with her father devolved further. "Má's awful death made us refugees a second time.... We had to rebuild our lives all over again, but instead of doing it together as we had always done with Má at the helm, each of us did it alone in silence." That silence "can make a person do crazy things, like join a cult, track down the killer's family, seek justice through the help of spirit channelers, and put on a touring one-woman show about my family tragedy."

Lieu spent decades chasing answers, trying to understand who Má was--her experiences, decisions, hopes, plans. She lays bare her attempts to "reconstruct" and "resurrect" Má with tenacious honesty and vivid desperation, but also balances this with surprising humor and grace. Lieu's revealing, chatty writing style proves both intimately confessional and undeniably inviting: her own "[s]eeking the truth" becomes rallying encouragement for readers to talk, share, explore, and ultimately forgive in order to live. --Terry Hong

Shelf Talker: Susan Lieu channels decades of grief over her childhood experience of losing her mother into a mesmerizing, raw debut memoir, The Manicurist's Daughter.

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