Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 16, 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.

Editors' Note

Presidents Day

In honor of the Presidents Day holiday, this is our last issue until Tuesday, February 20. See you then!


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News

Wi2024: Worker-Owned Cooperatives

On the second day of Winter Institute 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio, two booksellers and an expert in cooperative businesses convened to discuss worker-owned co-ops.

Cullen Nawalkowsky, a co-founder and worker-owner of Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore, Md., and Talia Whyte, worker-owner and board president of Rozzie Bound Co-op in Boston, Mass., made up the panel, while Ellen Vera, co-founder and co-owner of Co-op Cincy, a nonprofit that supports worker-owned businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area, moderated the discussion.

Vera explained that more than 90% of co-ops in the United States are consumer co-ops, where member-owners are customers of the business. This includes credit unions, food co-ops, and retailers like REI. Worker co-ops, where member-owners are workers, constitute only about 1% of co-ops in the country. Vera described it as a "nascent space," and said there are about 10,000 workers in worker co-ops throughout the U.S.

Cullen Nawalkowsky, Ellen Vera, and Talia Whyte

Touching on the structure of co-ops, Vera noted that in Ohio, there is a specific corporate entity called a cooperative, which many states do not have. However, LLCs or corporations can still be structured as co-ops through their operating agreements and bylaws. Also, many states and especially municipalities have resources specifically intended for co-ops.

Businesses are either founded as co-ops or transition to a co-op structure, and on the subject of transitions, Vera said the businesses that are good fits for the change tend to have retiring or exiting owners who "care about legacy," strong underlying fundamentals, and low staff turnover, among other qualities. Generally, small- to medium-sized businesses tend to make the switch most often.

Rozzie Bound, Whyte reported, is both a worker-owner co-op and a consumer-owner co-op. Per the store's bylaws, new hires start out as sales associates and can acquire an ownership share after working at least 2,000 hours in the bookstore and making a $1,000 payment. Any community member, as long as they live in Massachusetts and are over 18, can become a consumer-owner for a one-time fee of $100. In return, they get access to special sales held four times per year and can attend shareholder meetings.

Currently, there are 235 consumer-owners, and Whyte said most of the consumer-owner share money was used to help build out the store's bricks-and-mortar space, which was leased in 2023, and to buy initial inventory and equipment.

There is a board consisting of all of the worker-owners as well as three elected consumer-owners. The worker-owners meet once per week, and the store's bylaws have instructions for everything from hiring and firing to what happens if a board member leaves or if one of the worker-owners dies. Beyond the things stipulated in the bylaws, Whyte said the bookstore operates "the same way as any other business."

Asked about benefits and drawbacks to the co-op model, Whyte said the single biggest benefit was that it "gave me the ability to own a bookstore." Opening with a single owner model would have been impossible, but being a co-op lowered a lot of barriers. All of the store's worker-owners, she added, have full-time jobs. On the subject of drawbacks, Whyte remarked that co-ops by nature attract a lot of people with backgrounds in activism and community organizing, but a co-op is a "business like any other business. It's not an activist meet-up. It's not a hobby."

Nawalkowsky explained how Red Emma's grew out of an older anarchist bookstore in Baltimore called Black Planet Books. At first, Nawalkowsky and a few others tried to transition Black Planet Books from a single owner model to a cooperative, but for a variety of reasons, including resistance from Black Planet's landlords and significant debts with publishers and distributors, it was untenable. They decided to make a fresh start and do something a "little broader," and founded Red Emma's nearly 20 years ago.

He noted that while there was "beauty" in the volunteer-run model, he and the other founders deliberately chose to move away from it. They wanted to make something "more long lasting," and something "people could do as a job." He added that the volunteer model would attract "only people who could afford to work for free," and the founding team wanted to avoid that.

On the subject of drawbacks for the model, Nawalkowksy said they "hopefully aren't as present" now as when he and his colleagues founded the store. At that time, there was a lot of "flailing about" because in Maryland, co-op laws were based entirely around farm co-ops. The founding owners also made the mistake of putting everybody on the LLC, which "was not a good idea." It meant every financial decision had to be signed off by everyone, and it became "really tricky" after a while.

Nawalkowsky remarked the cooperative model was greatly beneficial during the pandemic, as it allowed the Red Emma's team to "decide for ourselves" at what scale and what pace it wanted to reopen. --Alex Mutter


Balzer + Bray Moves to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Alessandra Balzer
Donna Bray

Alessandra Balzer and Donna Bray will move their imprint, Balzer + Bray, from HarperCollins to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, effective April 15. They will be senior v-ps and co-publishers, and their imprint "will pursue vibrant, groundbreaking titles--from picture books to middle grade, to young adult fiction, and graphic novels," according to MCPG.

"The only word is thrilled," said Jen Besser, MCPG president & publisher. "Balzer + Bray has been an inspiration in the world of children's publishing. As a team, Donna and Alessandra are formidable. They have a passion for finding stories that resonate with readers, and their books have been enriching my own reading life for years. I could not be more excited for them to bring their talents to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group." 

Since launching in 2008 with HarperCollins, Balzer + Bray has published more than 50 New York Times bestsellers and launched the careers of many notable authors and illustrators. 

In a joint statement, Balzer and Bray said, "We're incredibly excited to move our imprint to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, whose high-quality, award-winning list we've long admired. At Macmillan, we plan to continue Balzer + Bray's mission of publishing bold, innovative books that appeal directly to kids in a fresh way, inspire conversations, and reflect a wide breadth of experiences. We are grateful to our brilliant authors and illustrators, as well as our beloved colleagues at HarperCollins, who have contributed so much to B+B's success over the years."


Narrative Bookshop to Open in Somerville, Mass.

Narrative Bookshop will open in March at 387 Highland Ave., Somerville, Mass., "filling a Davis Square void and owner's dream," Cambridge Day reported, adding that when owner Mila Hossain "landed on Long Island at 11 years old, having just immigrated with her family from Dhaka, Bangladesh, she dealt with isolation and loneliness as she struggled to find her place in a new country. Her refuge? Books. Twenty years later, she's opening her own bookstore."

Mila Hossein

Hossain, who moved to Somerville last March from Denver, had been working in event planning and sales in corporate hospitality until the pandemic hit. Her team was eventually furloughed, then let go, which inspired Hossain to make a change.

"I was facing a lot of turmoil between losing my job and my dad's recent passing, and it made me reflect on my life and what I wanted to do with it," she said. "At the same time, in this period of grief and depression, I kept finding myself gravitating back toward books."

Hossain has spent recent months renovating the 600-square-foot space, acquiring bookshelves and furniture and tackling what she called her "most difficult but most fun task": choosing what books to stock. The store will include new and used books, with an emphasis on works that uplift minority and marginalized voices. She is also taking into consideration what residents of Davis Square and the surrounding communities might like to see, conducting polls and seeking advice from experienced booksellers and others.

"Since it's a one-woman show, I want to focus on really curating the stock and being able to provide what [people] need in a more personal way," Hossain said. "It's really important to me to make this bookstore personal to the community and be able to provide a community hub for everyone."

The bookstore's name was inspired in part by that desire: "The narrative is such an important aspect of our lives: the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we grow up hearing inform who we become and how we connect to each other and the world around us. But also, we're in control of our own narratives. Starting this bookstore is me taking control of my narrative, as well as my attempt to be a positive part of the narrative of this town.... Integrating myself into this community is an important aspect of feeling like this is home. I'm hoping the bookstore will help me do that."


Blurred Words, Fort Collins, Colo, Launches Fundraiser Ahead of Opening

Blurred Words, a 1920s-themed bookstore and speakeasy bar in Fort Collins, Colo., that is anticipating a March or April opening, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help cover some renovation costs for its Campus West location at 1205 W. Elizabeth St, Unit I, the Coloradoan reported.  

Owner Liz Sanders, a former English professor who has been a near-lifelong book lover, said she wants to make her bookstore a late-night business with a bar element: "It's a dream of mine that's been in the works for years."

Sanders signed a lease for the West Elizabeth Street space last summer. After some permitting delays, renovation work "is currently underway as crews build the bar, put up walls, install flooring and transform the space with art deco decor," the Coloradoan noted.  

The future home of Blurred Words

The approximately 1,800-square-foot space will feature a bookstore in the front and a speakeasy-style bar behind a partition wall in the back half of the building. Sanders said the speakeasy will serve craft cocktails and packaged snacks that can be enjoyed both in its speakeasy lounge or in the shop's front bookstore space. Anticipated hours will be from 4 p.m. to midnight.

The Blurred Words website describes the vision for the business as a place that "transports visitors to the bygone era of the 1920s and 30s at the height of prohibition, art deco designs, swinging jazz, and The Great Gatsby. At first glance, it's just a bookstore featuring a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction books and gifts. Further exploration leads to a speakeasy bar with specialty cocktails and snacks. An ideal place for book club gatherings and live music events, Blurred Words is a gathering place for time travelers and vintage enthusiasts... a place where intellect and entertainment merge to create a fun experience for visitors and patrons."


National Book Awards Eligibility Criteria Expanded

The National Book Foundation has expanded the eligibility criteria for the National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. In addition to authors who hold U.S. citizenship, authors who maintain their primary, long-term home in the U.S., U.S. territories, or Tribal lands will now be eligible for consideration. The updated criteria will go into effect on March 13, when submissions open for the 75th National Book Awards. For more on the updated eligibility criteria, click here.

"The foundation is eager to take this key step towards ensuring that the National Book Awards are welcoming to all writers living and working in the United States," said Ruth Dickey, NBF executive director. "As we reflect on the rich 75-year history of the National Book Awards and look to the future, we believe that the National Book Awards must celebrate the widest possible array of voices and stories published in the United States in order to continue bringing essential works to readers and communities across the country."

The new criteria will end the petition process for non-U.S. citizens instituted in 2018, which expanded eligibility in all categories to include authors actively pursuing, or unable to pursue, U.S. citizenship. The National Book Award for Translated Literature, first introduced in 2018, has never had a citizenship requirement for author or translator. While the petition process marked a necessary and important step away from the long-standing citizenship requirement, the foundation said it recognizes the importance of removing procedural hurdles for non-U.S. citizens.

"The fundamental mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature published in the United States, and to ensure that books remain at the forefront of our vibrant culture," said David Steinberger, chair of the NBF board of directors. "We believe in the value of all stories, and it is our hope that by further opening our existing submissions process, the National Book Awards will be more reflective of the U.S. literary landscape and better able to recognize the immense literary contributions of authors that consider the United States their home."

When submissions for the 2024 National Book Awards open on March 13, this year's judges will also be announced. The judging panel will select 50 longlist titles, 10 per category, which will be released in mid-September, followed by 25 finalists on October 1. Winners in all five categories will be named November 20 at the National Book Awards ceremony. 


B&N Introduces New Nook 9" Tablet Designed with Lenovo

Barnes & Noble has introduced the Nook 9" Tablet, built in collaboration with Lenovo. The new device, which has May release date, is available for preorder in stores and online, starting at $149.99.

"The partnership between Barnes & Noble and Lenovo has continued to create elevated user experiences for our customers, and the new Nook 9" tablet is our most exciting development yet," said Susan McCulloch, senior director, Nook. 

Marc Godin, v-p and general manager, commercial smart devices solutions group, Lenovo, commented: "Our continued collaboration with Barnes & Noble and the development of the newest and most advanced Nook tablet demonstrates our commitment to customers and placing smarter technology in the hands of consumers."


Notes

Cool Idea of the Day: The Playreaders Club

American Theatre Wing is partnering with the Drama Book Shop in New York City to launch the Playreaders Club, a monthly event that will offer both in-person and virtual programming to engage the theatre community across the U.S., Playbill reported.

"With the American Theatre Wing's focus on supporting and uplifting artists and creating experiences for the theatre community, and the Drama Book Shop's established history in hosting community events to promote readership and scholarship of theatre texts, the club aims to unite enthusiasts, professionals, students, and educators alike to read and discuss published theatrical works," Playbill noted.

Each play will be selected by a committee of theatre artists, experts and industry members from the American Theatre Wing Board and advisory members, including Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Kimberly Akimbo), Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), Tony Award-winning costume and scenic designer Clint Ramos (Once on This Island), theatre journalist and producer Ayanna Prescod (Pass Over), Tony Award-winning director Leigh Silverman (Violet), journalist and author Patrick Pacheco, and talent agent Ben Sands.

There are three tiers of membership, beginning at $5 a month, for access to the title of that month's play and the virtual monthly meeting hosted by the Wing, plus exclusive Wing content. The $15 a month tier offers access to everything on Tier 1, plus admission to the in-person monthly meeting at the Drama Book Shop, with special guests. The $35 a month top tier offers access to everything on the other tiers, plus a physical copy of that month's play.


Bookshop Engagement: The Literary 

"We have the googliest heart-eyes today because our beautiful friends Mikey and Jackie got ENGAGED at The Literary on Sunday!" the Literary bookstore, Champaign, Ill., posted on Instagram. "We feel so honored that they chose to get engaged at The Literary and we wish them a lifetime of books under the covers and morning coffees with a view! Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!"


Chalkboard: Sundog Books

"Turning the page to new perspectives. #SundogBooks reminds us that every story begins with facing the first chapter," Sundog Books, Seaside, Fla., posted on Facebook, along with a pic of the shop's outside chalkboard message, from James Baldwin: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."



Media and Movies

Movies: Kiss the Future

A trailer has been released for Kiss the Future, a documentary film based on Bill Carter's 2005 memoir, Fools Rush In. Directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain, with story by Carter and Cicin-Sain and screenplay by Carter, the doc was produced by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Sarah Anthony. It will open in select AMC Theatres nationwide on February 23. Kiss the Future had its world premiere in 2023 at Berlinale and opened the Tribeca Film Festival. 

Featuring Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Christiane Amanpour, and Bill Clinton, Kiss the Future is the story of defiance amid the 1990s siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. It focuses on a vibrant underground community, who used music and art to effect change and garner global attention by ultimately inspiring Carter, who was volunteering as an aid worker at the time, to reach out to U2 to help raise awareness of the devastating conflict. 

Kiss the Future follows the band's promise to perform a post-war concert, with U2 ultimately playing to more than 45,000 local fans in a liberated Sarajevo. Schaffner Press will release a new paperback edition on May 7 to tie in with Paramount+'s streaming of the film later this year.


Books & Authors

Awards: Women's Prize for Non-Fiction, Yoto Carnegie Medal Longlists

The longlist has been selected for the inaugural £30,000 (about $37,760) Women's Prize for Non-Fiction, open to "all women writers from across the globe who are published in the U.K. and writing in English." The shortlist will be announced March 27 and the winner June 13. The longlist:

The Britannias: An Island Quest by Alice Albinia
Matrescence: On the Metamorphosis of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Motherhood by Lucy Jones
Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World by Naomi Klein
How to Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir by Safiya Sinclair
Intervals by Marianne Brooker
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles
Wifedom: Mrs Orwell's Invisible Life by Anna Funder
Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century by Joya Chatterji
Code Dependent: Living in the Shadow of AI by Madhumita Murgia
Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon
A Flat Place: A Memoir by Noreen Masud
Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in the Philippines by Patricia Evangelista
Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life & Sudden Death by Laura Cumming
The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary by Sarah Ogilvie
Vulture Capitalism: Corporate Crimes, Backdoor Bailouts and the Death of Freedom by Grace Blakeley
Young Queens: The Intertwined Lives of Catherine de' Medici, Elisabeth de Valois and Mary, Queen of Scots by Leah Redmond Chang

---

Longlists have been released for the 2024 Yoto Carnegies, which celebrate outstanding achievement in children's writing and illustration and are judged by children's librarians, with the Shadowers' Choice Medals voted for by children and young people. A total of 36 books have been recognized this year, with 19 selected for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing longlist and 18 for the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration. See the complete longlists here.

Shortlists will be announced March 13 and winners named June 20 during the awards ceremony. Winners each receive a specially commissioned golden medal and a £5,000 (about $6,315) Colin Mears Award cash prize. The winners of the Shadowers' Choice Medals will also be presented at the ceremony and receive a gold medal and £500 (about $630) worth of books to donate to a library of their choice.


Reading with... Ellen Baker

photo: Kim Fuller Photography

Ellen Baker worked as a museum curator, and as a bookseller and event coordinator at an independent bookstore in northern Wisconsin before her first novel, Keeping the House, was published in 2007, followed by I Gave My Heart to Know This in 2011. Her third novel, The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson (Mariner, February 20), is a saga of family secrets and one woman's determination to survive. Baker lives on the coast of Maine.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A sweeping historical novel of love, loss, and the families we make, involving surprise DNA results in 2015, and a 1930s traveling circus.

On your nightstand now:

Two books I'm in the middle of and loving: Horse by Geraldine Brooks and Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. Two books I recently finished that both knocked my socks off: Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh and The Night Parade by Jami Nakamura Lin. And three I'm about to start: Democracy Awakening by Heather Cox Richardson; Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald; and an advance copy of A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke. Also: a whole stack of old Ross Macdonald paperbacks that I'm hoping to reread. It's been long enough since I last read them that I don't think I'll remember how they turn out.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. I remember loving everything about this book and feeling it so viscerally--Louis's pain at not being able to speak, the impact of the father swan crashing through the window to steal the trumpet, the moment when Louis's webbed foot gets sliced so that he can operate the trumpet's valves, the watercress sandwiches at the hotel. I haven't read this book in decades, and these moments still stick with me.

Your top five authors:

An impossible choice! But here are five that come immediately to mind that I really admire: Amy Bloom, Dani Shapiro, Elin Hilderbrand, Wally Lamb, and Beatriz Williams.

Book you've faked reading:

One of my characters in I Gave My Heart to Know This had read The Complete Works of Shakespeare and was always quoting lines from it, but I haven't actually read much Shakespeare myself.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Since it came out in 2005, I've read and listened to this book at least six times. I think it is the most beautiful, haunting, meaningful story, and I love the way it's crafted. I made my new book club read it recently, and they loved it, too.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand in 2019 based on the cover. I hadn't read any of her books before that, and I loved it so much I immediately read almost all of her other novels (at least 20 of them, I think) over the course of the next three months or so. I think she is a genius, and of course, I'm yearning to visit Nantucket now.

Book you hid from your parents:

I can't remember needing to hide any books from my parents, exactly; although, I do remember my mom and I had a complicated collusion about Forever by Judy Blume. When I was about 11, I secretly read most of it (or, the really interesting parts) while at the library, and I must have been too embarrassed to check it out, but maybe I mentioned to her that I had discovered a new book by Judy Blume that I wanted to read (having read and loved all of her others, of course). I was probably laying the groundwork and trying to pass it off as simply another innocent Superfudge. Then, a short time later, I received a gift certificate to a bookstore, and when my mom asked me what books I was going to buy with it, I said I was going to buy Forever. She seemed a bit alarmed, then confessed that she had already bought it for me, "but I thought you were too young for it!" She went straight to her dresser drawer, though, and pulled it out from where she'd hidden it and gave it to me. I never told her that I had already read all the really interesting parts.

Book that changed your life:

It's hard to pick just one, and the changes to my life weren't dramatic as much as incremental. Chronologically, I would say: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart by Joyce Carol Oates, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, and Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. The feeling I had when I read each of these--the first when I was about 8 and the last when I was about 19--was of being absolutely transported and so, so intrigued by how the author had accomplished that using only words on a page. Each time I had that feeling, I would think, I want to learn how to do that. And finally, as a result, I ended up becoming a novelist.

Favorite line from a book:

"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering." --from The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Mentor Book of Major American Poets, Zen Heart by Ezra Bayda, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, The Cider House Rules by John Irving, and Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner.

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

As I work my way through the old Ross Macdonald paperbacks, I'm hoping I'll find the one that kept me, at age 19 or so when I last read it, in suspense until the very last page. I remember the feeling of being so surprised at the ending, which I hadn't seen coming at all, and how satisfying the experience was, because the instant you learned what the answer was, everything in the book made absolute sense for the first time. While I remember being so amazed, and appreciating his genius so much, I don't remember what the title is, or what happens in the book, so I think and hope I have a good shot at being surprised all over again in the same way!


Book Review

Review: Real Americans

Real Americans by Rachel Khong (Knopf, $29 hardcover, 416p., 9780593537251, April 30, 2024)

Three generations of a Chinese-American family grapple with identity, expectations, and whether family equals destiny in Real Americans, the imaginative and expansive, yet intimate, second novel from Rachel Khong (Goodbye, Vitamins).

On the eve of Y2K, Lily Chen meets Matthew at her employer's office party. Lily--daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, unpaid intern, and flat broke in New York City--couldn't be more different from Matthew, the effortlessly attractive heir to a pharmaceutical empire. Their connection is undeniable, though Lily struggles to reconcile their difference in status. They fall in love, but Lily's mother, a dedicated geneticist, acts strangely resistant to the idea of Matthew. When a surprising truth comes out, everything Lily thought she knew about her parents and her relationship is rocked.

Sixteen years later, Lily and her teenage son, Nick, live on a remote island in Washington State. Nick doesn't know the identity of his father or why he left them, nor why Nick presents as white when his mother is Chinese-American. When he asked Lily about his father a few years ago, "[s]he didn't let me see her cry, but later, I heard it through our thin walls, muffled and alien." Nick invests in a DNA test when his best friend pressures him to learn more about his family. He's shocked when it leads him to his father, who invalidates the story of abandonment Lily has told Nick. At the root of everything lies the story of Lily's mother, Mei, her desperate escape from 1960s China, and the scientific discoveries that would impact the Chen family for generations.

This family saga shines as both ambitious and wholly unpretentious, with a sweeping scope that spans continents and eras, and an immediacy of emotion that maintains a sense of intimacy between the reader and its multiple protagonists. Khong aptly illustrates the ways in which family stories ripple through generations even when left untold. Traces of science fiction and magical realism give additional texture to the realistic storyline, all combining in an exploration of fate versus choice. The concept of fortune arises repeatedly, both in the context of the luck Lily feels she lacks and in the context of predestination through the biological and emotional imprints ancestors leave on their descendants. Real Americans is a profound, riveting, and loving journey of betrayal and forgiveness, of words left unsaid, that will provide rich food for thought for book clubs and independent readers alike. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Three generations of a Chinese-American family grapple with identity, destiny, and forgiveness in this expansive yet intimate saga that moves from 1960s China to the 21st-century U.S.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #WinterInstitute2024--'We're Going on a Book ADVENTURE!'

Many of the indie booksellers who gathered in Cincinnati this week for #WinterInstitute2024 were sharing highlights of their bookish adventure on social media. Here's a sampling:

Mclean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.: "We're going on a book ADVENTURE! Join us on our social channels this week as booksellers Zach, Kelsie and Maris embark on the journey of a LIFETIME. They will be taking Cincinnati by storm while attending the American Booksellers Associations annual 19th Winter Institute."

Merritt Bookstore & Toy Store, Millbrook, N.Y.: "And yes, we did watch the #superbowl!! At @omalleyssports pub day 2 of @americanbooksellers #wi2024 and we are thrilled to be surrounded by friends from all over.... Learning a lot and see you soon."

The Green Dragon Bookshop, Fort Dodge, Iowa: "I have the pleasure of being at American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute, a conference for booksellers across the U.S. to come together, meet publishers, talk (book)shop, and listening to amazing panels (of which I am on one). Today, we started with a tour of bookshops in Cincinnati! Thank you to the amazing bookshops who hosted us!"

Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.: "Here's what Mary has been up to at Winter Institute. The morning of Day 2 of Winter Institute has been incredibly informative and engaging.... Exploring the galley room, great education sessions, a rep picks round (hearing about exciting forthcoming titles), and running into Sandra wrapped up the morning.... So much more fun to come!"

The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, West Acton, Mass.: "Twenty-four hours in Cincinnati! Downtown Cincy has a lot of really great, building-sized murals.... It's awesome. Public art!"

Spoke & Word Books, Milwaukie, Ore.: "This week is Winter Institute, the biggest gathering of booksellers in the US!... I'm taking notes and can't wait to bring back new knowledge and skills to Milwaukie! So grateful for the generosity of the American Booksellers Association and my fellow booksellers. The community and joy I'm finding here is amazing. Book people truly are the best people."

Read Between The Lynes, Woodstock, Ill.: "Hi friends! We have an update from our annual booksellers conference. Arlene and Liz were so jazzed to visit fellow indie bookstore Book Bus Depot (Cincy Book Bus)! They also met up with and hung out with other bookish friends they don't get to see very often. So fun!"

Bliss Books and Wine, Kansas City, Mo.: "Day 2 of the @americanbooksellers #ABAWinterInstitute was a blast. From keynotes to educational sessions, publisher chats, happy hours, author signings and networking, it was a jammed packed day beyond measure! Can I just say, the galley room was A-MA-ZING!! A book lover's paradise (I'm still coming down off of that high). Looking forward to what tomorrow brings! Now off to bed!"

Green Feather Book Company, Norman, Okla.: "Galley room chaos this morning at #abawinterinstitute but the first box is on its way home to Oklahoma!"

Good Neighbor Bookstore, Lakewood, N.Y.: "It's always great meeting other booksellers, and today I finally had a chance to meet the general manager of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore in Colorado! For those of you new to our store, Off the Beaten Path used to be our name too! It was nice to meet in person to reminisce about the multiple times customers confused us online, and publishers sent our orders to the wrong store."

Dungeon's Gate, Ankeny, Iowa: "Represent. Look who's here! Iowa Indie Booksellers at #ABAWinterInstitute. We love Book-Loving People!"

Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.: "We swarmed the author reception at Winter Institute and all we got were these incredible galleys! Winter Institute Day 3, let's get reading!"

Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, New Orleans, La.: "Candice here! I'm at Winter Institute, our national bookselling conference! It's a time to learn, grow, gain new perspectives, see all my bookselling friends, plan exciting things (just wait for the next big announcement very soon!), and of course, discover new books. I'm so excited about the conversations I'm having, the relationships and community I'm growing, and the amazing books I can't wait to tell y'all about."

Comma, a Bookshop, Minneapolis, Minn.: "Something a little different today. Store owner Victoria is at the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute. Last night was a dinner with @melvillehouse authors Jahmal Mayfield and Margaret Juhae Lee. Look for their books in the store soon!"

The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: "Winter Institute days two and three! Our booksellers have had some great educational sessions and have listened to many great speakers so far at the book conference! Of course, they went a bit crazy in the gallery room to bring back exciting upcoming books for the staff to read."

The Next Chapter Bookstore, Hermiston, Ore.: "Am I breathing? Just happened to sit and chat with THE @rainbowrowell at #abawinterinstitute. I adored Attachments and Landline, and obviously we [love] Simon Snow. Best day!!"

Tombolo Books, St. Petersburg, Fla.: "BOOKS are my Valentine. Some of our crew attended the @americanbooksellers annual #abawinterinstitute in chilly Ohio this week to share ideas with other indie booksellers and to learn about all the new books coming out this spring and summer. We're so excited to welcome Candice and Katherine home and to read ALL THE BOOKS that they're bringing back for us!"

A Likely Story, Midway, Ky.: "We’ve spent the last few days in Cincinnati at #ABAWinterInstitute learning and getting new ideas to bring to the bookstore! Our creative juices are flowing and we can’t wait to implement some of these new plans to make your experiences at A Likely Story even better."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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