Also published on this date: Wednesday Januay 30, 2024: Maximum Shelf: Wandering Stars

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 30, 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.


It's Official: City Lights Recognizes Union

City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, San Francisco, Calif., has recognized the union formed by staff, which has affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World. In a statement, City Lights welcomed the City Lights Workers Union, saying, "From the very beginning in 1953, City Lights has been committed to providing a fulfilling, humane workplace. This has been a guiding principle for 70 years, as much of a priority as anything else we do here.

"And for 70 years it's been a work-in-progress. Now, our staff has come together to form the City Lights Workers Union (CLWU) under the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and this is a pivotal, exciting moment for us.

"City Lights deserves the best possible stewardship to ensure its success and longevity. We're looking forward to implementing the tools brought to us by the CLWU in our work to create a better, more sustainable future for everyone who dedicates themselves to the project of City Lights!"

The union welcomed management's recognition and said, in part, in a general announcement, "Given founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti's legacy, it is entirely consistent with the institution of City Lights to have a unionized workforce. City Lights workers believe wholeheartedly that the best way forward will be collaboration and mutual respect between workers and management. The reputation of City Lights Books as a bastion of radical bookselling since 1953 has always been tied to the devotion and love of its workers, and they are unionizing to create a community center where workers are respected and treated well. They believe this will lead to long-term sustainability for a beloved literary landmark.

"City Lights deserves to be a safer, more equitable work environment. Their key concerns are fairer wages, clearer communication, and a more democratic work environment. Their pay has stagnated despite rapidly rising costs of living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States, with many workers earning minimum wage and living precariously.

"The best way for you to support the City Lights Workers' Union right now is to come to City Lights, buy a book, and tell the staff how excited you are that they've unionized! You can also spread the word--tell your friends! Follow the union on social media! @CityLightsUnion

"City Lights Workers' Union are a coalition of booksellers, editors, and everything in between. Some of them have worked at the historic bookselling institution for decades, some for just a few months; but they are all committed to maintaining City Lights as a space for radical bookselling."

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Grand Reopening at New Location for Oklahoma City's Nappy Roots Books

Nappy Roots Books recently hosted a grand reopening celebration for its new location in the Northeast Town Center Shopping Plaza at 3621 N. Lottie Ave., Oklahoma City, Okla. City News OKC reported that the afternoon festivities included an event featuring visual artist Willie Mae Brown, author of My Selma, True Stories of a Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement; as well as Southern-style refreshments and live blues entertainment and civil rights anthems provided by guitarist Cherryl Seard and percussionist Manny Brooks. The event was themed "Honoring Our Past, Building Our Future."

"We were excited to welcome Willie Mae Brown and have her share stories of her childhood during this critical time in our nation's history," said Camille Landry, the shop's owner and director. "Our bookstore's mission is to honor our past and build our future by providing books, programs, and services to our community. This is how we honor our past and build our future."

She added that the bookstore's mission "is to bring literature that reflects the culture and interests of African people to our community at affordable cost. We also host book discussions and cultural events. Check us out and get your read on."

In a November Facebook post, Landry had announced that the bookstore, which opened in 2017, had been evicted from its previous location "because the new landlord wants to gentrify the area. But we are determined to continue to serve our community!"

The Storybook Shoppe, Bluffton, S.C., Searching for New Home

Sally Sue Lavigne, owner of the Storybook Shoppe in Bluffton, S.C., is "desperately seeking" a new space for her children's bookstore, the Island Packet reported.

The bookstore has had a month-to-month lease for its space at 41 Calhoun St. for years, but on January 5 the bookstore's landlord notified Lavigne that the bookstore would have to move by February 10.

Lavigne plans to hold pop-up sales in Bluffton until she finds a new space. She told the Packet that even though it feels like a "gut punch," she hopes to use the move as an opportunity to "pivot" in a new direction. She added that she was disappointed that her landlord did not even discuss options for staying in the space.

Lavigne purchased the bookstore from previous owner Nancy Beaupre in 2015. Her landlord, Peter Palladino, bought the building in 2016. Palladino also gave notice to another small business in the building, in order to make room for a new tenant that will occupy the entire commercial space.

Deadtime Stories, Lansing, Mich., Victim of 'Flash Mob Robbery'

Deadtime Stories bookstore, Lansing, Mich., was the victim of a what it called a "flash mob robbery" last Thursday. In an Instagram post, owner Jenn Carpenter wrote that around 2:30 p.m., a van pulled up to the corner of Washington and South St., and five teenagers wearing backpacks, carrying a big black trash bag, got out and entered the bookstore, where they remained for approximately 15 minutes. 

"During this time, they took turns asking me questions and keeping me occupied on the bookstore side of the shop, while the rest of them stuffed their backpacks with over $1,300 worth of merchandise," she continued. "The black trash bag was left at the front door when they entered--they said it was full of cans that they were taking to return. I believe it was used to transfer the stolen goods into from their backpacks when they left, as they then went across the street to Vintage Junkies and stole another $700+ worth of merchandise. This was not simple shoplifting, but a coordinated attack that seems to have been orchestrated by someone behind the scenes."

Carpenter told WILX she had no idea the theft had occurred until another store owner asked her to check her security footage: "The very first clip that I pulled up was them stuffing hundreds of dollars of merchandise in backpacks. We lost more yesterday in stolen than we made in sales. This brazen like an entire group of people coming in and just stuffing hundreds of dollars' worth of merchandise in their bags and leaving.... I've never seen anything like it."

Deadtime Stories has received a number of solid leads, all of which have been forwarded to the Lansing Police Department, which is actively investigating. On Sunday, WLNS reported that "this spree of thefts may be coming to an end. Carpenter said an official from a local school identified the teens and passed the information to the police."

Obituary Note: Marc Jaffe

Marc Jaffe

Marc Jaffe, a longtime book publisher who "oversaw a boom in paperback publishing that began in the 1960s, putting out hitmakers from The Catcher in the Rye to Jaws," died December 31, the New York Times reported. He was 102. 

Among Jaffe's many successes was coaxing J.D. Salinger into publishing The Catcher in the Rye with Bantam in the early 1960s "by promising to produce the book with no illustration on its cover (Salinger would have preferred that it be produced in mimeograph form, as Mr. Jaffe told Kenneth C. Davis, author of the 1984 book Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America)," the Times wrote. "The novel had first appeared in 1951 in hardcover, under Little, Brown, and then as a Signet paperback, whose illustration the author loathed."

"Marc was the epitome of a great editor," said Alberto Vitale, former chairman of Random House, who worked with Jaffe at Bantam for a time. "He had a great nose for fiction and for nonfiction, and he had a great nose for what sells."

Recalling the success of Peter Benchley's Jaws in paperback, Vitale noted that Jaffe worked hard to promote the book around the world, though there was a bit of pushback from Bantam's subsidiaries in England and Australia. "The Brits said, 'But we don't have sharks.' The Australians said, 'We have plenty of sharks, but we don't like them.' " Nonetheless, Jaffe prevailed, Vitale said, and "the damn book sold another million and a half copies in the Commonwealth."

The author whose work was closest to Jaffe's heart, and who sold more books for him than any other writer, was Louis L'Amour, with whom he published more than 100 titles.

In 1948, Jaffe was in New York City, working first for the men's magazine Argosy and then for New American Library, editing writers like Mickey Spillane and Gore Vidal. By 1961, he was editorial director at Bantam Books, where he stayed for nearly two decades at the forefront of the mass paperback revolution, beginning after World War II and lasting through the 1980s. 

Jaffe and Bantam president Oscar Dystel were responsible for publishing an extraordinary list, which brought them to the top of the paperback industry. During those years Jaffe was personally responsible for a number of important commercial bestsellers, led by William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. At the other end of the spectrum were many titles in the Bantam Modern Classics series, and the unique text and design work by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, The Medium Is the Massage. When asked what he considered his most important publishing contribution, Jaffe would offer his initiation and continuing support for Bantam's series of foreign-language dictionaries.

He worked next at Ballantine Books and then founded Villard Books, for Random House, in 1983. By 1986, he had launched another imprint, under his name, for Houghton Mifflin, where he published an eclectic mix of titles. Jaffe left Houghton Mifflin more than two decades ago to work as a freelance editor with his second wife, Vivienne (Sernaqué) Jaffe, who survives him. He was still working at his death.


Image of the Day: SRO for Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler kicked off her tour for Have a Beautiful, Terrible Day! (Convergent) with several events, including this one hosted by Blue Willow Bookshop at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Houston, Tex. More than 600 people showed up to hear Bowler in conversation with Beth Moore.

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins; Adams Media

Wendy Ceballos has joined HarperCollins in the newly created role of director, retail marketing, and will oversee account marketing strategy for all titles published by the general books, Harlequin, and children's books divisions. Ceballos worked for 19 years as a bookseller at Third Place Books in Seattle, Wash., then, in 2017, joined Abrams in the new role of indie ambassador, where she provided concierge support to independent bookstores nationwide.


At Adams Media/Simon & Schuster:

Gia Manalio-Bonaventura has joined as senior marketing manager.

Lydia Rasmussen has joined as senior publicist.

Maria Orlandi has been promoted to publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jonathan Blitzer on Fresh Air

Here & Now: Tim Alberta, author of The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism (Harper, $35, 9780063226883).

Fresh Air: Jonathan Blitzer, author of Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis (Penguin Press, $32, 9781984880802).

Today Show: Julie Schwartz Gottman and John Gottman, authors of Fight Right: How Successful Couples Turn Conflict into Connection (Harmony, $30, 9780593579657).

Drew Barrymore Show: Sharon Brous, author of The Amen Effect: Ancient Wisdom to Mend Our Broken Hearts and World (Avery, $29, 9780593543313).

The View: Clay Cane, author of The Grift: The Downward Spiral of Black Republicans from the Party of Lincoln to the Cult of Trump (Sourcebooks/One Street Books, $26.99, 9781728290225).

Sherri Shepherd Show: Tabitha Brown, author of I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free (Morrow, $29.99, 9780063286115).

Also on Sherri Shepherd: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, author of Far Beyond Gold: Running from Fear to Faith (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9780785297994).

Movies: Dog Man

Universal Pictures has unveiled Dog Man, an animated feature adaptation of the book series by Dav Pilkey, the author-illustrator best known for his Captain Underpants graphic novel series, Deadline reported. Dog Man has been slated by the studio to open January 31, 2025.

Emmy winner Peter Hastings (The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants) is the movie's director, with Karen Foster (Spirit Untamed) serving as producer. 

Scholastic's Dog Man series, which launched in 2016, currently consists of 11 books, with 12th entry, Dog Man: The Scarlet Shedder, scheduled for release in March. The series has been translated into 45 languages, selling more than 60 million copies in print and inspiring a spinoff, Cat Kid Comic Club, which topped global bestseller lists when it debuted in 2020, Deadline noted.

Books & Authors

Awards: AJL Jewish Fiction Winner

James McBride won the Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award for his novel, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store (Riverhead Books). The prize includes $1,000 and an invitation to attend AJL's 2024 conference next June in San Diego, Calif.

Two other titles won honor awards: 
Kantika by Elizabeth Graver (Metropolitan Books) 
Once We Were Home by Jennifer Rosner (Flatiron Books)

Award committee chair Paula Breger said of the winner: "The unflinching descriptions of the hardships faced by the Chicken Hill residents are tempered by moments of humor and acts of compassion and reconciliation. James McBride has woven a vibrant tapestry of pre-World War II life and the struggle for survival by those on the margins of society. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store is at once a searing commentary on injustice in America and a celebration of community, the power of love and friendship, and tikkun olam, repairing the world."

Book Review

Review: Fifty-Seven Fridays: Losing Our Daughter, Finding Our Way

Fifty-Seven Fridays: Losing Our Daughter, Finding Our Way by Myra Sack (Monkfish Book Publishing, $27.99 hardcover, 266p., 9781958972250, April 2, 2024)

Fifty-Seven Fridays is a candid, intimately courageous memoir that details how the terminally ill baby daughter of first-time author Myra Sack and her husband, Matt, left an indelible mark in the world--defining the fragility of life and the sacred nature of love.

In 2011, Myra, a "Philly girl," met Matt, a "Cali boy" and the older brother of her college roommate, in San Francisco. The years of their romance--falling in love, moving to Boston, and marrying in 2016--culminated two years later when, on September 4, 2018, they welcomed their first child, a "beautiful. Perfect, actually," baby daughter, Havi, into the world. Amid the joy and adulation of the birth, no one could foresee how, a year later, Havi's health would drastically change the focus and meaning of the family's existence.

At a routine annual check-up, Myra conveyed her worries and doubts to the pediatrician. Myra felt that Havi was not meeting "normal milestones" for children of her age, such as making sounds and crawling. The doctor allayed these fears as "nothing to worry about," developmental delays easily countered by physical therapy. This later gave way to a full evaluative work-up and a course of action designed to bring Havi up to speed. However, after various orthopedic and neurological interventions, Havi was ultimately diagnosed with Tay-Sachs, a progressively debilitating, terminal neurological disease in children that destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Knowing Havi's time on earth was limited--children with Tay-Sachs live only two to four years--heartbroken Myra and Matt vowed to squeeze every "ounce of beauty and love" into Havi's short life. The couple became determined to show Havi as much of the world as they could. Relying on Jewish tradition, Myra and Matt also decided to celebrate every sacred Friday night sabbath, also known as Shabbat, as a joyful birthday party or "Shabbirthday" for Havi, family, and friends.

These weekly gatherings proved life-affirming and gratitude-producing. Slice-of-life episodes and meditative journal entries oozing with raw emotion detail myriad aspects of the family's profound, grace-filled journey through grief, sadness, and loss. Sack's inspirational narrative beautifully preserves and pays tribute to Havi's short life and the love that continues to endure--and ripple out to others--in her wake. -- Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: This profound, inspirational memoir by the mother of a baby who suffered from Tay-Sachs disease, chronicles the way her baby's brief presence on Earth defined the sacred nature of life and love.

Deeper Understanding

Curated by Leonard Marcus, 'Building Stories' Opens in Washington, D.C.

An architecturally extraordinary and immersive new exhibition, "Building Stories," curated by children's books scholar Leonard S. Marcus, opened this month at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibit, which is projected to have a 10-year run, was constructed in partnership with the Portland, Ore., exhibition and experiential design studio Plus and Greater Than.

"Building Stories" features classic and modern literature as well as interactive and original artwork. The exhibit is inspired by the connection between picture books and the worlds--both real and imagined--that humans design and construct around them.

The exhibit, spanning four galleries and 4,000 square feet on the museum's ground level, reveals delights at every turn. The first gallery, "Building Readers," welcomes visitors with the sounds of stories. A three-dimensional wall showcasing abecedaries suggests the alphabet as the building block of stories; letters are presented in parallel with concepts of shape and form in construction. Displays focus on architectural models and maps, and include pop-up books and wall didactics that prompt onlookers to consider book-making and design.

Leonard Marcus

When asked what object in the entire exhibition visitors shouldn't miss, Marcus led visitors to a rare dummy of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd's Goodnight Moon, the only color version in existence.

To access the second gallery, "Your Home, My Home," one chooses among imposing archways inspired by the building materials of the Three Little Pigs. A round theater dominates this space and alternates multimedia projections of stories in which place plays a character, including Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The room's selections raise thoughtful questions about home--and its loss or absence--in cultures and communities around the world. Visitors feel the global scope of the collection here; the show's 150 books on display represent 28 countries on five continents and span more than 200 years of bookmaking. Young people and adults also pick up exhibition passports in this gallery and can keep the journals as a souvenir.

A particularly effective tapered tunnel beckons next, through a portal that evokes Alice in Wonderland's "Eat Me" moment. Visitors feel as if they're changing size in the passage, then emerge in the third gallery, aptly titled "Scale Play," where perspective and perceptions of the world through children's literature come into focus.

David Macaulay at work on the exhibit.

Cathy Frankel, the National Building Museum's deputy director for interpretive content, recalled that legendary artist and author David Macaulay came up repeatedly as she shared the vision to develop an exhibition about books and the built environment. Macaulay was offered an entire room and, Frankel said, "The results are spectacular." Macaulay (Cathedral) hand-painted a Roman archway and provided sketches revealing the creative process behind his 1997 architectural book, Rome Antics. In exposing his complex creative process and daunting "Clouds of Doubt," Macaulay lends a sense of possibility to aspirational amateurs. Maybe writing or illustrating a book is something they can do, too? Additional interactive gallery highlights include magnets to rearrange a house design, audible story snippets piped in via a tube, and a touchable model of the White House.

The final gallery, the lavender-hued "Wider World" inspired by the work of Oliver Jeffers, stands in contrast to the bold, largely black-and-white iconography that precedes this area. Frankel said the museum "worked closely with Jeffers and his studios to create the calming and inspirational space that is part of a call to action for all of us to work together to create a better world." Visitors can construct towers using pillows printed with Jeffers's words and phrases, to forge tiny architectural feats, telling stories that reflect our built world in exploratory and personal ways.

Visitors to Marcus's 2013 exhibition "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter" at the New York Public Library may recognize familiar themes. While multimedia elements and innovative architectural designs here will engross and transport patrons, books remain the core focus. Open shelves in three galleries allow visitors to peruse many books on display and encourage thematic thought beyond the curation. Initially of the mindset that the exhibition would feature "books about building buildings," Marcus invited museum staff to contribute books to those gallery collections. This crowdsourcing led organizers to narrow the focus to how books help us find our place in an engineered world. "We're not just about the physical structures around us," Frankel said. "We're about how those structures affect us, and how we impact them."

The National Building Museum plans extensive programming around the exhibit. Dispelling the myth that picture books are solely for children, the organizers emphasize the exhibit's multi-generational attraction and various access points. "While there's a lot in the show which is designed for children, there's a lot here for everyone," Marcus said. --Kit Ballenger

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
2. The Worst Best Man by Lucy Score
3. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
4. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
5. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
6. Twisted Lies by Ana Huang
7. Damaged Goods by L.J. Shen
8. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
9. The Bride's Runaway Billionaire by Pippa Grant
10. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose

[Many thanks to!]

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