Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 20, 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

Bookstore Provides Space 'Not Just for the Products for Sale but for People to Trade Ideas'

"One of the driving forces of the Enlightenment in Europe was the spread of the coffee shop, a place where people could gather and talk about ideas big and small. The bookstore serves a similar function in providing space not just for the products for sale but for people to trade ideas. 

"To this end, Alice [Hutchinson, owner of Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn.], also sees her role as a producer of events. 'Books are the arts!' she tells me emphatically, and an author event is a performance. Although Covid restrictions kept these performances away for a while, they are back with vigor, platforming authors and their ideas."

--Rick Magee, a Bethel resident, in an op-ed for CT Insider


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justBook-ish to Open in Boston 

Bing Broderick and Porsha Olayiwola

JustBook-ish, a bookstore and literary gathering space that "seeks to shift the narrative in the publishing world by housing a collection of books by writers whose work often challenges political paradigms," will open in June at 1463 Dorchester Ave. in the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston, Mass. Co-founders Bing Broderick and Porsha Olayiwola have launched a $125,000 gofundme campaign to "fill the space and stock the shelves."

The new bookstore will occupy the ground floor of the new Dot Crossing building, where the "long-anticipated storefront will also function as a performance and community space in the evening and night hours," the Dorchester Reporter noted. 

Olayiwola, Boston's poet laureate, and Broderick, the former director of Haley House, recently gave residents the timeline and an update during an online meeting. "Construction began two weeks ago, so it's happening and happening soon," said Olayiwola.

Broderick added: "It should probably be finished in May, and we would take delivery of 9,000 books and then welcome folks in, probably in June. We've been very successful in raising the money to build out the space as a for-profit, non-profit hybrid."

The for-profit entity would be the bookstore and food sales, with the non-profit community space venture being the overall owner of the venture. "No one is making away with a bunch of money; it is a non-profit," Broderick said.

"We want to be that place that has programming and is a place to go at night; we want to be the place that opens after home.stead [bakery and café] closes and be that third space for folks," Olayiwola said.

Currently the space comprises about 1,250 square feet and would accommodate 39 people at a time, with shelving that could be moved to make room for events in the evenings. "One of the models they have thought about is making the site a place for performances," the Reporter wrote. "In fact, both met years ago when Olayiwola ran poetry slams at the Haley House that brought in a young and energetic crowd. They hope that will happen at justBook-ish, and that the energy will flow to all age groups.

"We're excited about it and the activation," said Broderick. "We look forward to welcoming everyone in."

"When you walk in your eye is drawn to the area by the T with a raised stage that also has a drop-down movie screen and all wired for sound," said Olayiwola. "Whoever has the mic has agency. That's what we're looking for." She also noted that they plan to partner with local food purveyors to offer small bites within the store for food offerings, and they hope to get a beer and wine license, too.

GLIBA Creates Great Lakes Bookstore of the Year Award

The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association is creating a new award, the Great Lakes Bookstore of the Year, which will honor "independent bookstores that have demonstrated exceptional influence, support, representation, and impact within their communities and their fellow bookselling community." The winner of the award will be determined annually by the GLIBA board of directors and will receive a scholarship to GLIBA's Spring Forum in Chicago on April 18, where the award will be presented.

Nominations are now open. People can nominate either their own bookstore or another. March 10 is the soft deadline for 2024 award nominations, but nominations made now will be considered for future years, too. The nomination form is here.

Criteria for the award include:

  • Influence, Representation, and Impact in the Community: Celebrating bookstores that play a pivotal role in their communities by actively contributing to cultural and literary life, fostering a love for reading, and championing diversity and inclusivity.
  • Contribution to the Bookselling Community: Acknowledging bookstores that go beyond the shelves to support their fellow booksellers, sharing knowledge, resources, and fostering a collaborative environment within the independent bookselling community, contributing to the growth and success of the bookselling world.
  • Connecting People with Books: Honoring bookstores that excel in creating meaningful connections between readers, authors, and books, curating diverse and engaging selections, and inspiring a passion for literature. Celebrating bookstores that have made significant efforts to bring literature to diverse audiences, organizing events, book clubs, and outreach programs that promote a love for reading.

Wi2024: Notes from Cincinnati

From the American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute keynote featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin (whose An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s will be published by Simon & Schuster April 16) in conversation with the ABA's Philomena Polefrone, in response to a question about what the country needs in leaders this election year:

ABA's Philomena Polefrone (l.) and Doris Kearns Goodwin

"What we need more than anything in leaders in this country is leaders with character. Character. What does that mean? What it means are people who are willing to acknowledge errors and learn from their mistakes. They have the humility to know that they will make mistakes and they can learn from them. We want leaders who have empathy, who can understand other people's points of view, who listen to other people, leaders who have resilience.

"Ernest Hemingway once said that everyone is broken by life, but afterwards some are strong in the broken places. We need people who've been through troubling times and can somehow come through with wisdom and reflection. We need people who are accountable, people who have a certain ambition that's not for themselves but for the country. We need people who have integrity. That's what character is."


David Wolf of Content Bookstore in Northfield, Minn., was the winner of Binc's Heads or Tails game, sponsored by Arcadia Publishing, which raised $4,593. Pictured: (from l.) Nancy Ellwood (Arcadia), Wolf, Binc's Kathy Bartson, and Megan Petrie (Arcadia). Wolf generously donated his $500 prize back to Binc.

During the ABA open house, CEO Allison Hill asked the booksellers in attendance if the current election year would be good for their store. The only one to raise a hand, to some laughter: Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, co-founder of Solid State Books, Washington, D.C.


Monday lunch keynote speaker William Ury, author of the megabestseller Getting to Yes whose book, Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict, is being published by Harper Business today, spoke in part about bookstores and their role in his life and the country's life:

"When I think about independent bookstores, it brings back a lot of warm childhood memories, browsing for hours, choosing which book to buy, from the Tides bookstore in Sausalito to City Lights in San Francisco, to the Yale Co-op and Harvard Coop, when I was a college student, to Bookshop Santa Cruz and Elliott Bay Book Company, more recently the Boulder Bookstore and Tattered Cover, and many others. I just have a special love for bookstores and books.

"I can appreciate how challenging it's been for you over the last few years, faced with competition from big chains, Amazon, and of course the pandemic. But I also know what a vital role you play in your own communities as a place to gather, as a place to learn, as a place to enjoy."

Using some concepts outlined in Possible, Ury added: "In my vision, your stores serve as a natural balcony. It's a place of perspective, where people can go and see the bigger picture by reading the books. Your stores serve as a natural bridge. They're a place for the community to gather, to mingle, to exchange ideas. Your stores serve as a natural third side. It's a place that stands for the benefit of the whole, of the whole community. I believe you have an important role to play in helping our communities navigate these turbulent times of conflict. It doesn't matter if your contribution may seem small to you at times because you create possiblities, one customer at a time, one book at a time. That's the model of a possibilist. It's humble audacity, high aspirations, no expectations."


Panelists (from l.) (Maysoon Zayid, Miranda July, Danzy Senna, LaDarrion Williams, Anton Bogomazov.

At the featured talk "Beyond the Binary," bookseller Anton Bogomazov of Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., concluded the four-author panel discussion about fiction's ability to blur borders and boundaries with a forward-looking question of what they wish to see more of in publishing.

LaDarrion Williams (Blood at the Root, Labyrinth Road) expressed desire to see bookshelves filled with stories about "Black boys doing cool stuff." Danzy Senna (Colored Television, Riverhead) holds comedy in high esteem and wants to see more of it in fiction about race and identity. Maysoon Zayid (Shiny Misfits, Graphix) emphasized the need for events and virtual outreach to be accessible to people with disabilities and marginalized communities. She added: "You have to amplify authentic voices. The reality is that this room is not as diverse as it could be, so you have a lot of power to amplify voices that are not your own... This year, especially, I want you to look for Palestinian voices to amplify." And Miranda July (All Fours, Riverhead), noting that around the room she saw "women who are not young, not identified by their youth, in a way that I think is really exciting--women who know stuff and run businesses," expressed relief: "For once in my life I feel like you guys are going to do a great job!"

Obituary Note: Tim Hilton

Tim Hilton, the British journalist, biographer of John Ruskin, and art critic who wrote for the Guardian and Independent on Sunday, died January 6. He was 82. The Guardian reported that "in his introduction to the first volume of his defining biography of John Ruskin, he wrote: 'When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s, I was asked to understand that an interest in Ruskin was as foolish as an enthusiasm for modern art.' It is confirmation of Tim's resistance to convention that his life became defined by both subjects."

Hilton led the revival of interest in Ruskin since the 1960s and began work on his biography in the early 1970s. John Ruskin: The Early Years appeared in 1985, but it was not until 2000 that John Ruskin: The Later Years followed.

After graduating from Oxford, Hilton went on to the then small Courtauld Institute of Art in London to begin a PhD. The director, Anthony Blunt, assigned him and a fellow postgraduate, Anita Brookner, to teach a course on art criticism, with Hilton teaching the English tradition and Brookner the French. "After two years he became a freelance critic, and taught in art schools, principally Birmingham, Norwich and St Martin's in London. He loved the talk in art schools and was an inspiring teacher, because he believed artists learned by doing," the Guardian noted.

During the 1960s and 1970s, which were what he called "the anarchic golden age of British art schools," he became close friends with many artists, wrote introductory essays for artist catalogues, and worked on shows for the British Council. His critical mentor was the American Clement Greenberg, "Uncle Clem," with whom he drank vodka in New York and London, and whose Art and Culture (1961) he thought "the best single work of modern art criticism."

Hilton worked long hours in the library of the British Museum. He was not proud of his first-written book, Keats and His World (1971), but the first-published, The Pre-Raphaelites (1970), became very popular. His critical study Picasso appeared in 1976, The Sculpture of Phillip King in 1992.

In the 1980s, he continued his work as a journalist, writing first for the Guardian and then the Independent on Sunday. An avid cyclist, in the 1990s he published One More Kilometre and We're in the Showers: Memoirs of a Cyclist. He also wrote a full-length study of Vincent van Gogh, though a dispute with the publisher over illustrations led to its non-appearance.

He continued to work on Ruskin studies. "To the end he remained what he had always been, a wayward and brilliant critic and scholar, an elegant writer, and one of the last true bohemians, completely unconventional, certain of his views, and who lived his whole life as he pleased," the Guardian noted.


Image of the Day: Wi2024 Melville House Dinner

Melville House publishers Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians hosted a Winter Institute dinner with a number of booksellers and two of their upcoming authors, Jahmal Mayfield and Margaret Juhae Lee.

Bookseller Cat: Poe at Pretty Good Books

On Valentine's Day, Pretty Good Books, LaGrange, Ga., introduced the shop's newest staff member: "Say hello to our newest employee! We picked this fellow up from the LaGrange Troup County Humane Society last week and he's been settling in nicely. Give us your best bookstore/literary cat name options in the comments!" 

A couple days later, the bookshop noted: "The people have spoken. The cat has chosen. His name is Poe."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lucy Sante on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Jamie Kern Lima, author of Worthy: How to Believe You Are Enough and Transform Your Life (Hay House, $27, 9781401977603). She will also appear today on Tamron Hall.

Today Show: Savannah Guthrie, author of Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9781400341122). She will also appear today on Drew Barrymore.

Also on Today: Kwane Stewart, author of What It Takes to Save a Life: A Veterinarian's Quest for Healing and Hope (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063215825).

Fresh Air: Lucy Sante, author of I Heard Her Call My Name: A Memoir of Transition (Penguin Press, $27, 9780593493762).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Kwame Alexander, author of This Is the Honey: An Anthology of Contemporary Black Poets (Little, Brown, $35, 9780316417525).

CBS Mornings: Dr. Lisa Damour, author of The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents (Ballantine, $19, 9780593500033).

Today Show: Sue Varma, author of Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being (Avery, $29, 9780593418949).

Also on Today: Ramani Durvasula, author of It's Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People (The Open Field, $29, 9780593492628).

PBS: Poetry in America, Season Four

Season four of PBS's Poetry in America series begins in April, National Poetry Month. In each episode, a poem serves as a vehicle into a broader vision of America, taking viewers from colonial Boston to the halls of Congress, from Texas Hill Country to Central Park. The eight new half-hour episodes will explore the work of Joseph Brodsky, Martín Espada, Robert Lowell, Frank O'Hara, Sylvia Plath, Kay Ryan, Tracy K. Smith, Wallace Stevens, and Phillis Wheatley. See the trailer here.

In the episodes, guests read the key poems and discuss them with Elisa New, the series creator and host, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, Emerita, at Harvard and director of the Center for Public Humanities at Arizona State University. The executive producer for Poetry in America is Tiffany Khan. Poetry in America is produced by Verse Video Education of Boston, Mass., and Season 4 is presented by Arizona PBS.

New episodes will be broadcast on public television stations nationwide starting in April and continuing through the spring. The series will be available to stream on the PBS app,,, PBS Living, available on Prime Video and Apple TV Channels, as well as available to download on Amazon, iTunes, and Comcast Xfinity.

Books & Authors

Awards: Jane Grigson Trust Shortlist

A shortlist has been unveiled for the £2,000 (about $2,520) Jane Grigson Trust Award, created in memory of the British food writer to recognize "a first-time writer of a book about food or drink which has been commissioned but not yet published." The winner will be named March 19. Runners-up receive £100 (about $125) in book tokens. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Silk Roads Cookbook: Recipes from Baku to Beijing by Anna Ansari 
Sift: The Elements of Great Baking by Nicola Lamb 
Moveable Feasts: Paris in Twenty Meals by Chris Newens 

Chair of judges Donald Sloan said: "This year's entries have been more diverse than ever before, encompassing personal memoirs, culinary travelogues, works of historical enquiry and traditional cookbooks. There is no doubt that many of the nominees will go on to find great success as respected writers who will enrich our understanding of food, drink and culture."

Top Library Recommended Titles for March

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

Top Pick
How to Solve Your Own Murder: A Novel by Kristen Perrin (Dutton, $28, 9780593474013). "It's 1965, and Frances is at a country fair with her friends when she ducks into a fortune teller's tent and is given a fortune that predicts her murder. She then becomes obsessed with figuring out who will murder her. Many years later, when she sends for her great-niece, she starts a race against time for her murder to be solved. This novel is original, witty, and a real page-turner." --Linda Quinn, LibraryReads Ambassador

The Other Side of Disappearing by Kate Clayborn (Kensington, $17.95, 9781496737311). "Four lives collide: two sisters whose mother deserted them 10 years ago to run off with a con man, a podcaster working on the case, and a journalist with a mission. The mystery--where did their mom go?--meshes neatly with the group's clashing goals as they follow the woman's trail across the country. This beautifully written novel is a thoughtful look at the many faces of love." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, N.Y.

James: A Novel by Percival Everett (Doubleday, $28, 9780385550369). "In this superb counterpoint to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, we get the point of view of the enslaved character Jim. Through Jim's eyes, readers experience many of the familiar events from Twain's novel. However, this narrative reveals more details and realities of the horrible state of slavery. With added storylines of Jim's humor and family dedication, this book stands out as an illuminating addition to the American classic." --MarySue Waterman, Westport Library, Conn.

The Mystery Writer: A Novel by Sulari Gentill (Poisoned Pen Press, $16.99, 9781728285184). "This intriguing mystery delves into the world of book publishing. Theo is an aspiring author who meets one of her childhood idols, Dan. As they grow closer, Dan is murdered and Theo becomes embroiled in scandal and conspiracies as she tries to solve his murder and outrun those who mean her harm--before she or someone she loves is next. This novel has a million twists that will keep readers guessing until the last page." --Lauren Maxwell, Geneva Public Library District, Ill.

Everyone Is Watching by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row, $30, 9780778310327). "Five people are brought together to be game show contestants with a prize of ten million dollars. They are to live in tense isolation as the show is broadcast to the world and secrets begin to be revealed amongst them. The show won't end until their secrets are all uncovered. This is a delicious book to be devoured in one binge reading session." --Beth Emmerling, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, Md.

The Great Divide: A Novel by Cristina Henríquez (‎Ecco, $30, 9780063291324). "Set during the construction of the Panama Canal, this novel captures the lives of the people in the canal's orbit: locals, laborers, and a doctor studying mosquito-borne illnesses. An atmospheric and compelling novel filled with characters that leap off the page and into readers' hearts." --Rachel Rooney, Mid-Continent Public Library, Mo.

Bye, Baby: A Novel by Carola Lovering (‎St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250289360). "Longing to reconnect with her best friend, Billie West stalks her on Instagram, and in one desperate moment takes her friend's infant baby, only to return her a few hours later, anonymously. Can she reconstruct her life and live with the consequences of her rash decision, or has she destroyed everything that was good in her life?" --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, N.J.

Happily Never After by Lynn Painter (Berkley, $18, 9780593638019). "Sophie Steinbeck finds out that her fiancé has cheated on her and wants to end the wedding. She hires a Professional Objector, Max, whose whole purpose is to show up and yell 'I object!' When Sophie joins his team, they realize they are attracted to one another. What a funny, sweet, and hot rom-com! Definite stars for Sophie's elderly roommates!" --Joy K., Free Library of Philadelphia, Pa.

Swift and Saddled: A Rebel Blue Ranch Novel by Lyla Sage (Dial Press, $17.99, 9780593732434). "The second book in the Rebel Blue Ranch series is a swoony and sweet small-town romance. Readers who like found family, emotionally intelligent couples, and just overall cuteness will look forward to more in this quick-read cowboy romance." --Yentl Diego, Smith Public Library, Wylie, Tex.

Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera (Celadon, $26.99, 9781250880314). "Lucy murdered her best friend, Savvy--at least, that's what her small town believes. When a podcaster comes along searching for the truth, Lucy finally confronts the past. A cast of morally corrupt characters lead readers on a wild goose chase to solve the murder and the mystery of Lucy's missing memories." --Andrea Galvin, Mt. Pulaski Public Library, Ill.

Book Review

Review: Lotus Girl: My Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and America

Lotus Girl: My Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and America by Helen Tworkov (St. Martin's Essentials, $29 hardcover, 336p., 9781250321558, April 16, 2024)

It took Helen Tworkov until age 80 to write her memoir, but readers of Lotus Girl: My Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and America will be happy that this quietly influential figure in the transmission of Buddhist thought and practice to the West has lived long enough to share her story in this revealing and intellectually stimulating book.

Though her memoir is organized chronologically, Tworkov appropriately has chosen to describe what she calls "my collaged life" in nearly 70 brief, essayistic chapters. She's a graceful writer who possesses well-developed insight and a wealth of stories to share from her encounters with an array of fascinating spiritual teachers and others, including Willem de Kooning, a friend of her well-known artist father, Jack Tworkov, and the composer Philip Glass, who became a close friend.

Tworkov (Zen in America: Profiles of Five Teachers), the child of secular Jewish parents, traces her earliest curiosity about Buddhism to the day in 1963 when she saw a photograph of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc self-immolating in protest against the oppression of his fellow Buddhists in that country. After a six-month sojourn in Japan, she spent most of 1966 in Kathmandu, where an itinerant peddler gave her the nickname that provides the book's title.

Tworkov also describes how, in the United States, she helped cultivate practices like meditation that went from being expressions of the counterculture to mainstream acceptance. In her case, she swung from an initial engagement with Tibetan Buddhism to the practice of Zen under the tutelage of well-known teacher Bernie Glassman in New York City. As she entered her seventh decade, Tworkov returned to her Tibetan Buddhist roots, including collaborating with the prominent lama Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche on his book In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, which describes the more than four-year wandering retreat that almost cost him his life.

Tworkov played an especially important role on the U.S. Buddhist scene beginning in 1991, when she founded the magazine Tricycle. She started the publication, which she managed until 2008, in response to a wave of scandals within Buddhism that involved sexual misconduct, and other forms of bad behavior on the part of highly respected teachers. In addition to educating its readers on Buddhism, it provided an outlet for objective reporting on the scandals and other news of the Buddhist world.

Helen Tworkov's name certainly is not as widely known as some of modern U.S. Buddhism's more visible progenitors. But when historians write its definitive story, she should receive her proper recognition, and this book will help ensure that happens. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In her revealing and long-awaited memoir, a noted U.S. Buddhist describes her circuitous and enlightening life journey.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. Just Stab Me Now by Jill Bearup
4. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
5. The Worst Best Man by Lucy Score
6. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
7. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
8. The Reason I Married Him by Meghan Quinn
9. Ashes of You by Catherine Cowles
10. Requiem of Sin by Nicole Fox

[Many thanks to!]

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