Also published on this date: February 26, 2024 Dedicated Issue: Simon & Schuster Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 26, 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.


Author/bookseller Jeff Kinney 'Unveils Ambitious Plans' for Plainville, Mass.

Jeff Kinney
(photo: Tom Struzziero)

Jeff Kinney, Wimpy Kid book series author and owner of An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Cafe in Plainville, Mass., appeared before town's planning board last Wednesday to present plans for redeveloping several properties. The Sun Chronicle reported that the proposals would give downtown "an entirely new look, with a new restaurant and other businesses and a small park." 

Seven old and vacant buildings and homes would be razed to make way for the proposed new uses, which include a possible market/bakery, a beer garden, and food stalls. Reconverted colorful shipping containers could be part of the project, Kinney stated, adding that the park area with a bandstand could be a focal point place for a farmers market, festivals, shows and games.

More than 50 residents turned out for the meeting at town hall to learn about the plans and "those who spoke indicated strong support as did planning board members," the Sun Chronicle wrote. 

"It will make Plainville more appealing for people to visit," said Kinney of the development, adding that it would be "something that looks like it belongs in Plainville, has a lot of charm to it." The designs for the new buildings would complement the bookstore's look and could pay homage to the town's factory past.

"I think it's beautiful," planning board chairwoman Dawn Denizkurt said of the plans. Board member Tom McHugh observed, "It looks like what I was hoping for, what we're trying to accomplish in the center district." Board member Chris Desprez, who serves on the master plan committee that gathered residential feedback, added, "It aligns perfectly with what you are trying to do. This is great news for the town."

Last fall, Kinney had announced the purchase, through his real estate development company Bacon Square Properties, of the additional properties near the bookstore, located at the corner of East Bacon and South streets.

"We can light up the whole downtown square. What we really want to do is make it a full downtown square," said Kinney, who hopes to begin demolition this spring. "We plan on moving fast.... Plainville center is small. We just want to bring it back to life."

He has set up a Plainville Square website and Facebook page to provide residents with information about his plans and solicit feedback. Kinney is scheduled to present the plans to the select board tonight.

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!

In S.C., 2nd & Charles Staff Members Recovering from Stabbings

Three people injured in a knife attack in a 2nd & Charles store in Greenville, S.C., last Tuesday were members of the staff and are recovering.

Scott Kappler, an executive v-p at 2nd & Charles and parent company Books-A-Million, issued a statement last Friday (via WYFF) that read: "The senseless events that occurred this past Tuesday at our Greenville, S.C., location have stunned our team. Several associates were injured during this pointless act, but thankfully received prompt medical attention and are recovering. The outpouring of concern from the community, other retailers and customers has been incredibly supportive and heartfelt. We commend the local law enforcement agencies for their rapid response and thoroughness in providing safety to the Greenville community. Our 2nd & Charles team is resilient. Supporting one another is what we do. Selling books is what we love. We are grateful to have our doors open and serving the community."

Initial reports indicated that the assailant was apprehended by police outside the store and that the three injured people were taken to a hospital.

LBF Lifetime Achievement Award to YoungSuk (YS) Chi

YS Chi

YoungSuk (YS) Chi, chairman of Elsevier and the recently elected chair of the Association of American Publishers, will receive the London Book Fair's 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes "an individual who has made a truly significant mark in the sphere of the global book world." LBF will honor him at a private reception during the book fair in two weeks.

LBF director Gareth Rapley said: "From his remarkable work ethic to his impressive stamina across so many fields, in particular his contributions to copyright, his focus on sustainability and his dedication to the industry, YS is an example of one of the most inspiring individuals working in publishing right now. We are lucky to have him as a speaker on the Main Stage on Day 1, and we are looking forward to paying him a worthy tribute at the Fair, celebrating this incredibly well-deserved honor."

Chi commented: "I am humbled, both by those who nominated me and by the panel that selected me for this tremendous honor. Having entered the book industry unknowingly nearly thirty years ago, I have been incredibly fortunate to learn so much from my peers who have embraced both tradition and innovation. It has truly been a privilege to be enriched by their purpose, dedication, and professional expertise. Being a part of this industry's development has been a remarkable experience, and I'm certain that publishing will continue to thrive with both talent and passion."

Kumsal Bayazit, CEO of Elsevier, noted that the recognition "not only celebrates his remarkable contributions to the publishing industry but also underscores his unwavering dedication to advancing knowledge and fostering innovation. This award is a testament to his exceptional career and enduring legacy, and we extend our heartfelt congratulations on this well-deserved honor."

Maria A. Pallante, AAP president and CEO, added: "YS personifies the qualities that propel the modern publishing industry: a commitment to research, learning, and progress; enthusiastic investment in technology; respect for both the private and public sectors; collaboration across disciplines and cultures; and a work ethic that incorporates indefatigable service to colleagues and industry boards, including the AAP where he is currently serving his second term as chair."

Yale University Press Director John Donatich to Retire

John Donatich
(photo: Andrew Hurley)

John Donatich, director of Yale University Press, will retire on June 30, 2025.

Peter Salovey, president of Yale University, said, "John has served with distinction for over 20 years, and he will be greatly missed. Since arriving at the Press in 2003, John has expanded its award-winning trade list, transformed its scholarly publishing programs, and forged numerous new publishing and distribution partnerships."

Donatich said, "What a privilege and honor it has been for me to lead Yale University Press for more than two decades. I am most grateful for my colleagues' professionalism and excellence; we have fulfilled our primary mission of publishing rigorous and challenging books that display not only scholarly rigor and financial sustainability but that shine with a certain luster, attract critical attention, win prestigious prizes, are talked about and loved, and, as things of beauty, sell prominently. I've always believed that books are a form of activism as well as a kind of charm; each has the power to change the world one mind at a time. I feel so proud and lucky to have been at the helm of Yale Press, taking up that charge every day, and leaving a legacy of publications that matter."

Among Donatich's accomplishments at Yale University Press:

  • Founding the Little History series, built on the success of E.H. Gombrich's A Little History of the World.
  • Acting as founding editor of the Cecile and Theodore Margellos World Republic of Letters, dedicated to bringing world literature into the English language.
  • Conceiving or overseeing Why X Matters and several sets of short, thematic biographies: Jewish Lives, Ancient Lives, and the recently launched Black Lives
  • Partnering with the Windham Campbell Literature Prizes at Yale to publish the annual "Why I Write" lectures.
  • Establishing three Yale-affiliated series: the Henry Roe Cloud Series on American Indians and Modernity; the Yale Drama Series, an annual international competition for emerging playwrights; and the Yale Nonfiction Book Prize, established this year in collaboration with the Yale Review.
  • Expanding the Press's offerings in fashion history, including the popular Catwalk series.
  • Establishing a new sales and distribution partnership with W.W. Norton & Company, which will handle sales and distribution of Yale's list to wholesale, retail, library, and specialty accounts starting in fall 2024.
  • Strengthening the Press's financial footing by spearheading fundraising efforts in excess of $40 million.

Obituary Note: Herman Parish

Herman Parish

Herman Parish, the longtime Greenwillow Books and HarperCollins author of the bestselling Amelia Bedelia books series, died February 10. He was 71. After a stint in the U.S. Navy, Parish had a 13-year career as an advertising copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, and other agencies before launching his career as an author.

He had been in the fourth grade when his aunt, Peggy Parish, created Amelia Bedelia. She went on to write 11 more books in the series before her death in 1988. The interest of educators and the enthusiasm of young readers prompted Herman Parish to continue the character in 1995 with his first book, Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia. In the years since, he added 59 books to the series, including the bestselling Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm; and broke new ground in books portraying Amelia Bedelia as a young girl. 

"She may be little, but she is as literal as ever," he often said. The series includes picture books for the youngest children like Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School and Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine. Young Amelia Bedelia also appears in I Can Read Level 1 beginning readers and in a series of chapter books, starting with Amelia Bedelia Means Business and Amelia Bedelia Unleashed

The Amelia Bedelia books have sold more than 55 million copies worldwide, HarperCollins stated, adding that they "are beloved across all generations and have inspired countless readers on their journeys to literacy. Amelia Bedelia's optimistic attitude and aspirational can-do approach to life have made her one of the most iconic and memorable characters in children's literature."

In a statement, Greenwillow Books wrote: "Many of us at Greenwillow worked with Herman for more than 25 years and we were honored to do so. He cared deeply about bringing Amelia Bedelia to life for young readers and about making the very best book possible. We will fondly remember his snappy bow ties, his anecdotes and stories, his humor and kindness, his vision and fierce dedication to the timeless Amelia Bedelia, and his magic with words. Herman always knew exactly what Amelia Bedelia would do or say in any given situation--he was second to none and he always knocked it out of the park. We will miss him."


Image of the Day: Poisoned Pen Hosts the Hebridean Baker

The Hebridean Baker, aka cookbook author Coinneach MacLeod, was welcomed by a pipe band for a sold-out discussion with Diana Gabaldon of The Hebridean Baker at Home (Sourcebooks), presented by the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Ariz. More than 300 fans from as far away as Canada, some wearing Clan MacLeod tartans, bought books and the Hebridean Baker's (packaged) shortbreads and oaties. (photo: Barbara Peters)

February Spikener Joins the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association

February Spikener

February Spikener has joined the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association as executive coordinator.  The association noted that "February moved to the Chicagoland area from Boston, Mass., in 2023. She studied English and Psychology at Wellesley College, and is currently a candidate for her Master's in Fine Arts from Randolph College. After managing a student-led cooperative for several years, as well as beginning her professional career as an English teacher, February is now a bookseller at RoscoeBooks, and is eager to continue building a career grounded in her lifelong love of reading. Everything you need to know about February can be summarized by the two books that changed her life: Beloved by Toni Morrison and Soft Science by Franny Choi."

Chalkboard: LaDeDa Books

"SHH! Don't tell anyone but this is your place to get banned books." That was the sidewalk chalkboard message at LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, Wis., which noted: "The book banners are becoming more vocal in our community.  To keep people aware of the lack of logic behind many titles on their list, we keep our banned books display up all year. This week we added a punch to the issue with our outdoor chalkboard message."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Charan Ranganath on Fresh Air

NPR's Morning Edition: Kara Swisher, author of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982163891). She will also appear today on the Today Show and Anderson Cooper 360 and tomorrow on the View and CNN This Morning.

The View: Phil McGraw, author of We've Got Issues: How You Can Stand Strong for America's Soul and Sanity (Threshold Editions, $34.99, 9781668061701).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Savannah Guthrie, author of Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9781400341122).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Linda Pistun, author of Linda and the Mysterious Footprints (Tabletop Publishing, $24.99, 9781960638168).

Fresh Air: Charan Ranganath, author of Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold on to What Matters (Doubleday, $30, 9780385548632).

Good Morning America: Tiffy Chen, author of Tiffy Cooks: 88 Easy Asian Recipes from My Family to Yours (Ten Speed Press, $30, 9781984861290).

Today Show: Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, author of JoyFull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly (Simon Element, $35, 9781982199722).

Tamron Hall: Linsey Davis, co-author of Girls of the World: Doing More Than Ever Before (Zonderkidz, $19.99, 9780310749660).

Movies: Wish You Were Here

Actress Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Chosen Family) has wrapped production on her directorial debut, Wish You Were Here, based on the 2017 novel by Renée Carlino, Deadline reported. The cast includes Isabelle Fuhrman (The Novice), Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Jimmie Fails (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Gabby Kono (Magic Carpet Rides), Jennifer Grey (A Real Pain) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier).

The project was adapted for the screen by Stiles, who said she has "been looking for years for the right story to tell" as director, "and finally found it here. Wish You Were Here is a love story that explores what it means to be human, all the laughter and tears that remind us we are alive."

Noting that she watched Stiles write the script while they were working together on horror sequel Orphan: First Kill in 2020, Fuhrman said, "When she called me to be her lead, I was so grateful. Watching her create her own romance film--a genre she knows better than anyone else--has really inspired me."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Translates Winners

Books from 11 regions and 10 languages are among the 12 winners of English PEN's translation awards, which are selected "on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and their contribution to U.K. bibliodiversity." The winners include--for the first time--titles from Montenegro and Switzerland. Check out the complete list of PEN Translates winners here

Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN, said: "In an era in which financial pressures on publishers discourage risk-taking, these 12 books reveal ambition and courage: they show presses--many of them small and new--willing to acquire stylistically and formally inventive work; they champion bold and dissident voices; they invest in major figures and debuts alike; and they represent a remarkable range of language, genre, subject and region. Above all, they are staggeringly good works of literature by staggeringly good writers and translators. We’re excited for English-language readers to be able to read them."

So Mayer, co-chair of the English PEN translation advisory group, called the awards "a fearless feminist list speaking truth to power from across the world, from Yee-Wa Lau’s call to decolonize our tongues to Françoise Vergès’ call to decolonize the museum. Supporting writers in exile and writers critiquing powerful states and state power, this round of PEN Translates salutes the vivid, visceral and vital work of independent U.K. presses, including emerging risk-takers such as Héloïse, Praspar, and Selkies House."

Book Review

Review: The Paris Novel

The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl (Random House, $29 hardcover, 288p., 9780812996302, April 23, 2024)

Ruth Reichl's second novel is a touching story of how a woman who suffered childhood abuse and neglect finds home and purpose. The Paris Novel is also a love letter to a world city.

In 1983, Stella, a New York City copy editor in her early 30s, seems strangely untroubled by the news of her estranged mother's sudden death. Then again, Celia St. Vincent was cold and aloof; "I was not born to be anyone's mother," she always said. A self-made woman who rejected her working-class Italian American background, Celia became a sophisticated personal shopper. She never told Stella anything about her father, but a string of boyfriends came and went, including one who molested seven-year-old Stella.

Celia's sparse will leaves Stella $8,000, with instructions to go to Paris. Reluctantly, Stella complies. On her first day there, she wanders into a dress shop whose proprietress acts as if she's been expecting her and insists she try on a $6,000 Christian Dior. As in a fairy tale, the stars align thus wherever Stella goes. At Les Deux Magots, she meets Jules Delatour, an elderly art collector who becomes her friend and patron. A similar father figure is George Whitman of Shakespeare and Company, who takes her under his wing. Now a "Tumbleweed," she stays at the English-language bookshop in exchange for occasional work. George's plucky daughter, Lucie, is like an alternative version of Stella had she ever experienced parental love.

Reichl (Delicious!) crafts a cozy atmosphere full of lavish meals--escargots, foie gras, ortolans, and fine wines--as Jules educates Stella, who has a fine palate, in classic French cuisine. "You always look for reasons to be unhappy," a character observes to Stella, but she learns to take joy in art, fashion, and food. She also embarks on two quests: to find traces of Victorine Meurent, the muse depicted in Édouard Manet's Olympia, and a painter in her own right; and to locate her own father, allegedly an impetuous chef Celia met on a trip to Paris. The outcome of both is in keeping with the novel's wish-fulfillment mode. Happy coincidences can be forgiven; think of it as the universe making up for Stella's traumatic past.

There are delightful cameo appearances from James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, and other historical characters (detailed in an author's note). Francophiles and armchair travelers alike will relish the chance to tour Paris's famous churches, museums, and restaurants. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Reichl's second novel, an appealing modern fairy tale stuffed full of beautiful art and gourmet food, features a wronged young woman undertaking a Parisian odyssey to find a family and a vocation.

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