Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 5, 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.

News

B&N CFO Allen Lindstrom to Become S&S CFO

Allen Lindstrom

Allen Lindstrom, the longtime CFO of Barnes & Noble, has been named executive v-p, CFO, of Simon & Schuster, effective April 22. He will also become a member of S&S's Executive Committee.

S&S president and CEO Jonathan Karp said, "Allen is an experienced manager with a keen financial mind and a collaborative spirit. As Simon & Schuster grows, Allen will work alongside executive vice president, chief operations officer Dennis Eulau and me to determine the best ways to invest in our company, control costs, and analyze acquisition prospects. We will benefit from his vast understanding of bookselling and the book business. I am confident that, as he has done for others, Allen will help Simon & Schuster become an even more valuable company."

Lindstrom joined B&N in 2007 and was principal accounting officer and corporate controller before becoming CFO in 2013. Earlier he was CFO at Liberty Travel and held financial roles at the Museum Company, Toys "R" Us, and Adidas.


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Young Heart Books and Toys, Johnstown, Pa., Reopens Under New Ownership

A ribbon cutting was held this week to celebrate the grand reopening under new ownership of Young Heart Books and Toys, at 828 Diamond Blvd, Suite 1 in Johnstown, Pa. WJAC reported that owner Renee Saylor took over the shop in December and has been remodeling during the past few months.

"My goal for this store is to create kind of a community hub, so I want to have unique books and toys and gifts for people of all ages," she said. "I want to bring in gifts from local artisans, showcase all of the great crafters that we have in our community. I'm also looking to build a community hub so we can have classes here in terms of art or reading, story times, things like that to involve the community."


The Literary Loft Debuting Soon in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

The Literary Loft, a new and used bookstore in Fort Atkinson, Wis., made its debut as an online store and pop-up on April 1, the Daily Union reported.

Owners Kaytlynne Null, Kendra Null, and Yazie Reezes hope to open a bricks-and-mortar location, but for now will sell books online and host pop-up appearances in the area. Their plans also include delivering local orders themselves and organizing book clubs.

"I'd love for us to have a brick-and-mortar, and a lot of people are hoping we do open up a brick-and-mortar because people want a bookstore," Reezes told the Union. "They want to buy from local people, they don't want to go all the way up to Madison."

Their general-interest inventory focuses on contemporary fiction, particularly the titles and genres that are popular on BookTok, as well as manga and children's books. All used books, save any rare books or collectibles, sell for no more than $7.50. The co-owners also plan to partner with local independent authors to sell physical copies of their books.

The co-owners are all related: Kaytlynne and Kendra Null are sisters, and Reezes is their cousin. They decided to open a bookstore together in December and have been working toward that goal since.

"We talk each other out of bad ideas, we talk each other up for good ideas," Kaytlynne Null said.

"I don't think we could do this if we weren't all three together," Kendra Null remarked.


International Update: The Canadian Book Market 2023 Released; Bookseller of Kabul Revisited

BookNet Canada has released The Canadian Book Market 2023, a comprehensive guide to the market with in-depth category data. For the first time, data on the circulation of library books in Canada is also included. This year's edition includes:

  • Consumer data from BookNet's Canadian Book Consumer survey panel, including insights about book buying, discoverability, purchasing behavior, and more.
  • French Canadian trade book market sales data from the Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF).
  • A section featuring insights into the sales of books by Canadian contributors and Canadian-owned publishing houses.
  • English Canadian trade book market sales data by subject from BNC SalesData for more than 50 subject categories, including total value and volume of sales; percent change from the previous year; the subject's share of the total market; weekly sales analysis; market shares by volume for the top 10 ranked publishers and distributors; and more.

In 2023, BookNet Canada tracked sales for 847,477 unique ISBNs, which translated to 48,791,765 physical books sold at a total value of C$1,102,387,350 (about US$815,043,695).

Combined, sales of juvenile and YA subjects accounted for the majority of the market share, at 40%. Nonfiction was in second place at 30%, with fiction third at 28%. In the French-Canadian market, juvenile & YA also had the biggest portion of sales throughout 2023, accounting for 44% of the trade market. Books by Canadians made up 12% of print book sales in Canada in 2023.

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Shah Muhammad Rais first opened his bookshop in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1974, and became famous in 2003 when Åsne Seierstad's bestselling book The Bookseller of Kabul was published. The Guardian recently spoke with Rais, who fled to the U.K. after the Taliban stormed Kabul in 2021. Last December, the Taliban raided the bookshop, locked the doors and ordered the employees to hand over all the passwords for the website and catalogue, before destroying the archive he had been building since he first opened the shop.

"When I heard what had happened I couldn't talk, I was frozen. My mind was not working," said Rais. "For two weeks after this happened I wanted to end my life. But suddenly I got my energy back." 

Rais resolved to rebuild his collection from scratch. The Guardian noted that because his online business was global, he already had many contacts in countries such as Iran and Pakistan and across central Asia. He signed a deal with an Indian IT company to create a new website, Indo Aryana Book Co., and new books are being printed in India from pdfs and mailed into Afghanistan.

Whatever book-banning edicts the Taliban issues, Rais said, a population thirsty for books is finding ways around them. He described himself as a "proud Muslim" but said he abhors all forms of extremism and believes that people from all faiths and cultures can live together in harmony: "Books are a good, cheap weapon to fight against extremism.... If you destroy my bookstore a hundred times, I will rebuild it."

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In the latest The Spinoff Bookseller Confessional, Melissa Oliver, New Zealand book buyer at Unity Books in Wellington, shared thoughts on her chosen profession. Among the highlights: 

Best thing about being a bookseller
Getting to recommend and share books you love is the best part of being a bookseller because then it means you get to share your joy and passion with others. My favourite thing is when customers return and tell me they love the book I recommended, or I hear on social media that someone picked up a book because of something we posted. It fills my little bookseller heart with joy that people are loving and enjoying what I or my co-workers recommend. 

Worst thing about being a bookseller
You are always half finishing books! I read a lot each year but I hardly ever finish as much as I start. I really try to finish books but there are always new and interesting things coming in or books you have to read and get a sense of because they are being talked about. Plus all the reading, listening and watching you do around bookselling (i.e: reading The Spinoff, listening to RNZ, Booktok time)--I just can't keep up. The number of books I've "read" and actually only half finished, that's another question entirely. --Robert Gray


Obituary Note: Bob Beerbohm 

Bob Beerbohm, one of the earliest comic book retailers and a comic historian who "contributed significantly to comic history and early art preservation," died March 27, Bleeding Cool reported. He was 71. Beerbohm was also the author of Comic Book Store Wars.

He began buying, selling, and trading comic books as a teenager in California during the late '60s, then co-founded Comics & Comix Store #1 near the UC-Berkeley campus in 1972 with Bud Plant and John Barr. The shop went on to host comic conventions, and become the first comic book chain store, Bleeding Cool wrote. 

Best of Two Worlds was Beerbohm's first solo comic bookstore, opening in 1976 and later expanding with other partners. The company went out of business in 1987 due to the massive flooding of its central warehouse in Emeryville, Calif., a year earlier. He also bought and dealt in original art.

In recent years, Beerbohm wrote for Bleeding Cool, and was still posting about comic book history on the day that he died. Many colleagues and friends in the comics word shared their memories, including: 

"Well, one of my personal Comic Dealer Gods has passed away," said Harry Knowles. "I've known Bob Beerbohm all 52 years on planet Earth that I've existed. He was friends with my Dad way back in the earliest days of San Diego and Berkeley cons. Back when Leonardo DiCaprio was in diapers crying in the shop."

Paul Gravett recalled: "His was a life of passion in pursuit of the deeper history and knowledge of comics, not least the discovery of America's first comic book, Rodolphe Töpffer's The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck. What contributions he made--and yes, he was a descendant of the renowned British cartoonist Max Beerbohm. He also founded the Platinum Age List, which continues to this day and also at Platinum Era Comic Books & Periodicals... we all stand on the shoulders of giants and Bob was truly a giant himself."

"I found Bob to be an amazing source of information about the earliest days of comics retailing, and he had fascinating stories to tell about so many of comics' greats," Cliff Biggers said. "I am thankful he shared as much as he did while he still could, and I will miss seeing his informative and provocative posts here."

Dennis L. Barger Jr. observed: "If you did not have the fortune to meet, know, follow and read the amazing comic history contained in the mind of Bob Beerbohm, you have truly missed out, much like the ones that did are missing him today. Rest well, sir, your work here is done. I can only imagine what stories we will never hear and are lost to time."


Notes

Image of the Day: Horror Authors at Astoria Bookshop

Astoria Bookshop, Queens, N.Y., hosted Jennifer Thorne (right) for her new horror novel Diavola (Tor Nightfire). She was in conversation with Nat Cassidy (center) author of Nestlings, and when fellow horror writer Clay Chapman (What Kind of Mother) turned up in the audience, they couldn't resist some post-event shenanigans. (photo: Emily Giglierano)

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular March Books

The two most popular books in March at Reading Group Choices were Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Square Fish) and Weyward: A Novel by Emilia Hart (Griffin).


S&S to Distribute ECW Press

Simon & Schuster is handling U.S. and open market print sales for ECW Press, effective September 1.

ECW Press, Toronto, publishes about 50 literary and commercial books each year, with an emphasis--as its initials indicate--on entertainment, culture, and writing, including fiction, poetry, crime fiction, SFF, biographies and memoirs, music, TV and film, popular science, the environment, wrestling, and sports.


Personnel Changes at Interlink; Little, Brown; Knopf Doubleday

Hannah Moushabeck is joining Interlink Publishing Group in a newly created role handling marketing, publicity, and special projects for the company, the oldest Palestinian-owned publishing company in North America, founded  in 1987 by Moushabeck's parents, Michel Moushabeck and Ruth Moushabeck. She has been independent retail marketing manager for Simon & Schuster and earlier worked at Chronicle Books and the Quarto Group. Her first day at Interlink will be June 5.

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At Little, Brown Books for Young Readers:

Kelly Moran has been promoted to publicity manager. She was most recently senior publicist.

Hannah Klein has been promoted to senior publicist. She was most recently associate publicist.

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At the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group:

Demetri Papadimitropoulos has been promoted to publicist at Pantheon. He joined Knopf five years ago as a publicity assistant.

Elka Roderick has been promoted to associate publicist at Knopf. She joined the company in 2022.

Ciara Tomlinson has joined the company as an associate publicist at Pantheon. She has spent the past two and a half years on the publicity team at St. Martin's Press and earlier held internships at FSG and the Ayesha Pande Agency.


Media and Movies

TV: Family Reservations

Universal TV has acquired rights to Liza Palmer's latest book, Family Reservations, which it will develop at NBC with writer/executive producer Ilene Chaiken (The L Word) and Keshet Studios, Deadline reported. 

"Liza Palmer's delicious book brings together the very things I love most in the world--food and family drama!" said Chaiken. "I'm thrilled and grateful that she has entrusted us with the television adaptation."

Palmer added: "Family Reservations is a labor of love that was written every morning from 5:30 to 8:30 during cancer surgeries and day-job headaches. Over those long months and years, the Winters became family to me. I've ugly cried more times than I'd like to admit because I now know my little complicated family are in the best of hands with the brilliant, creative teams at Universal Television, Keshet Studios and NBC. Having these precious, complex women in the capable hands of Ilene Chaiken is truly a dream come true." 



Books & Authors

Awards: Stella Shortlist; Sheikh Zayed Winners

A shortlist has been released for the A$60,000 (about US$39,395) Stella Prize, which celebrates Australian women’s writing by choosing an "outstanding book deemed to be original, excellent, and engaging." The winner will be named May 2. Each of the finalists receives A$4,000 (about US$2,625). This year's finalists are:

The Swift Dark Tide by Katia Ariel 
Body Friend by Katherine Brabon 
Feast by Emily O'Grady
Hospital by Sanya Rushdi 
Abandon Every Hope: Essays for the Dead by Hayley Singer
Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright 

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Winners have been announced in seven categories for the 18th annual Sheikh Zayed Book Awards, organized by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre under the auspices of the Department of Culture and Tourism--Abu Dhabi, and recognizing the winners' achievements and supporting their ongoing literary work and academic endeavors. Winners will be celebrated on April 30 during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair; each receives a prize of 750,000 UAE dirhams (about $204,200).

The winners in seven categories, including the new "Editing of Arabic Manuscripts" category, are:
Literature: Al Halwani: The Fatimid Trilogy by Egyptian author and scholar Reem Bassiouney
Arab Culture in Other Languages: The Formation of Post-Classical Philosophy in Islam by German scholar Frank Griffel
Translation: Tunisian Italianist Dr. Ahmed Somai for his translation of the classic Italian philosophical text The New Science by Giambattista Vico
Editing of Arabic Manuscripts: Egyptian musician and musicologist Dr Mustafa Said for a study of the manuscript Safinat AlMulk waNafisat AlFulk (The King's Ship and the Psychology of Astronomy (Shehab al-Din)--Muwashah and Arabic-speaking Maqam Music between Theory and Practice), a mediaeval treatise on Arab music and poetry
Young Author: Tunisian academic Dr. Houssem Eddine Chachia, for his work, which examined how the history of the Morisco expulsion in 17th Century Spain has affected Spanish culture in the centuries since, particularly in the modern day
Development of Nations: the Emirati pioneer of National Spatial Data Infrastructure Dr. Khalifa Alromaithi for his study of historical place names in the Emirates
Publishing & Technology: Bayt Elhekma for Creative Industries--China for their work in building cultural bridges between China and the Arab world

Dr. Ali bin Tamim, secretary-general of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, said: "These authors have significantly contributed to enriching Arab cultural, literary, and social landscapes through their remarkable works. The global reach of this year's winners exemplifies the profound influence of Arabic literature on the world stage and reinforces the Sheikh Zayed Book Award's position at its centre, as a source of both recognition and ongoing support. I believe that through our efforts, and those of the authors and organisations whose work we recognise, we will continue to see a flourishing of Arab culture in the years to come."


Reading with... Daniel Khalastchi

photo: Barry Phipps

Daniel Khalastchi is an Iraqi Jewish American. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he is the author of four books of poetry--most recently The Story of Your Obstinate Survival (University of Wisconsin Press, March 12, 2024), which collapses genre and upends narrative convention with dazzling wordplay and thrilling imagery. Khalastchi lives in Iowa City, where he directs the University of Iowa's Magid Center for Writing. He is also the cofounder and managing editor of Rescue Press.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is narrow and has no drawers. There's just enough room for a lamp and a pile of books, which means it holds everything I need. At the top of the pile are my two current and favorite reads of the year--Nam Le's 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem and Benjamín Labatut's When We Cease to Understand the World (both of which are stunning in a way that could itself be the subject of this entire q&a). Beneath them are the following: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (which my wife received as a gift after graduating law school, and which I promptly pilfered); Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt (which I need to return to its owner--sorry Jim!), Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo (I hope people are still reading this book); Ghost Worlds by Melba Goodwyn (bookmarked at a chapter entitled "Hauntings, Past and Present"), The Candy House by Jennifer Egan; and The Truth About the Sun by Jamie Cooper (which ends--spoiler alert--with a killer poem and these words: "You are the commander of many storms. Inside, you drag the demon out into the light"). Under all these books, there's a Moleskine-like notebook with some musings on James Merrill and then, below that and resting flat against the top of the nightstand, is a disposable hand towel, folded in thirds and monogrammed with the names of my grandparents--Shirlee and Jim Marcovis--which I took when cleaning out their house last year after their passing. Apparently, even now, they are reminding me to read, think, and also to keep tidy.

Your top five authors:

There's just no way to narrow it down, but I can give you five authors who have recently blown me away: Jonathan Escoffery (If I Survive You absolutely captivated me from start to finish), Jane Huffman (everyone: go read Public Abstract), Madeline McDonnell (whose debut novel, Lonesome Ballroom, we are putting out via Rescue Press next fall, and which I've been rereading/editing this month), Timmy Straw (their debut collection of poems, The Thomas Salto, is a full-on knockout), and Chris Stuck (Give My Love to the Savages should be required reading).

Book you're an evangelist for:

There are a lot of books I evangelize. Recently, anyone who has asked for a book recommendation from me has likely gotten a slightly overstimulated, breathlessly enthusiastic suggestion to purchase (ideally from Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City) Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson and/or All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews. These novels dropped me sideways and left me looking at the world from new angles. But if you're asking what's the book I think every human in the world should read (and if we're jumping over Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson because we are assuming everyone else in this series has also mentioned it), then you'll have to be patient as I speak at length about The Collected Stories by Leonard Michaels. From the first line in the first story ("Manikin") to the closing of its last (the masterful "Cryptology"), every single part of every single sentence on every single page that make up this 403-page masterpiece is, well, perfect. I know. It sounds hyperbolic, but I guess read it and tell me if I'm wrong. I'll wait.

Book you've bought for the cover:

In Israel this past summer--during an intense heatwave--my wife and I stumbled into an artists print and bookshop that was fabulously curated. Maybe it was the wandering-in-the-desert-ness of the day, or maybe it was the cool hum of the air-conditioning guiding us to the back of the store, but for whatever reason we both gravitated toward a beautiful, clothbound hardcover Passover Haggadah. The cover's generic white background is quickly flooded by wood-cut images of pyramids and mountains awash in a sandstone palette--corals and sea blues, greens and mustard yellows--and its elegant details (heads of flowers, the outline of vases, the moon and sun) spark to life and shimmer in delicate gold foil. The title itself (all in Hebrew) is debossed and foiled, and holding it now, in this Midwestern March afternoon sunlight on the couch in my living room, its elements are so striking it appears as if the cover itself is animated--somehow in a state of motion even though it's still, the gold foil pulsing like fish in a river. I have long been drawn to Haggadot and their translations, but I certainly wasn't looking for one that day. The book now lives on our coffee table to the right of our front door. It will be with us forever.

Book that changed your life:

When I was in high school, I liked to announce myself as a poet, mostly because I listened to a lot of Dylan and Springsteen and the Velvet Underground but knew I didn't have the guts to call myself a musician. I loved language and the way that words, when placed together in a specific sequence, could unfold an emotion inside its audience like nothing else could. I wrote a lot and mimicked what I heard in songs I loved, and eventually, because I had taken all the creative writing classes my high school had to offer, I was given the chance to enroll in a college-level poetry class at Drake University. In a small, stuffy, oddly configured classroom, I opened our class textbook on a mid-January early evening and began, for the first time, to encounter the writers, voices, and artistic inventiveness that would go on to shape (to make this sound dramatic) the rest of my life. The book was an anthology called Contemporary American Poetry, edited by A. Poulin Jr. Imagine coming across all these writers at one time: Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Louise Glück, Robert Hass, Richard Hugo, Donald Justice, Philip Levine, James Merrill, W.S. Merwin, Mark Strand, to name a few. My mind was eviscerated--in the best way. I know, without a doubt, I would not be answering these interview questions right now if that book hadn't found its way into my hands.

Favorite line from a book:

"You think God doesn't have a tractor?" --James Galvin, "Show-and-Tell" from X


Book Review

Review: Soldier Sailor

Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy (Scribner, $26.99 hardcover, 240p., 9781668051801, June 4, 2024)

Claire Kilroy (The Devil I Know) explores the highest highs and lowest lows of motherhood in Soldier Sailor, a searing portrait of the early years of parenting written as a kind of confessional from an unnamed mother to her son.

"I hadn't had an unbroken night's sleep since you'd exploded onto the scene--I love you, but Jesus wept," she says, before launching in the kind of what-if and if-only bargaining any sleep-deprived parent knows all too well. "If I could just have had six uninterrupted hours to myself, maybe none of this would have happened. Four. I'd take four. Three." Within the sleeplessness, she finds a love for her child she never thought possible, but also a deep-seated rage: at her husband and the patriarchy, at the failure of community to care for young mothers, at the impossibility of motherhood, the tedium and the joy of it all as she slides into something akin to insanity. Because what other force could compel a mother to abandon her child? Could make a midnight walk into the ocean with a stroller sound like a good idea? Could suggest that a family trip to IKEA would ever end in anything but tears?

These questions, large and small, feel central to Kilroy's incredible novel, which candidly explores the tiresome and infuriating reality of mothering a small child. "This was freelance motherhood: struggling to contain your screams while struggling to contain my own, which were louder and angrier and scared us both," the mother notes while envying her husband's office job that takes him away from the house. "It was all about killing the days when you were small, getting them over and done with. Before you were born, it was all about living them," she reflects as she wonders how and when she became this spiteful version of herself. And yet Soldier Sailor itself never comes off as bitter, as Kilroy beautifully brings the novel back time and again to the desperate love this mother has for her exasperating, exhausting, perfect child. "Loving you was the easy part. Loving you was the only easy part."

In finding that balance, Kilroy succeeds in offering readers a glimpse into motherhood that feels as primal as it is poetic, a brilliant reflection of how impossibly enormous all emotions become in the transition into motherhood. Raw and honest, Soldier Sailor will leave readers--and especially those who are mothers themselves--white-knuckled at the end of an emotional roller-coaster of anguish and joy alike that perfectly encapsulates the extremes of becoming a parent. --Kerry McHugh

Shelf Talker: This searing and candid exploration of the extremes of early parenthood captures a mother's rage, joy, anguish and love as she mourns the loss of the woman she was before having a child.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Varieties of Bookseller March Madness Bracketology

The NCAA College Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness, is a traditional sign of spring, and this weekend's Final Four games for both women's and men's teams are top flight. With March Madness comes the passionate art of bracketology, a popular and generally fruitless attempt to guess which teams will make it through the competitive cauldron and land at the spot where we now sit, just a day before the big weekend starts.

Bracketology also infiltrates the world of bookselling every year, and has been in full swing for a month now. 

"Dribbling through the pages of literary madness here," Plenty Bookshop, Cookeville, Tenn., posted in early March, touting its Plenty of Book Madness challenge and inviting customers to "discover the winning stories that will steal your heart!... Not sure what this book tournament thing is about? It's a free bit of bookish fun! You are trying to guess which book of the 64 listed will be the ultimate crowd favorite. If you are the most correct in your guesses, you win!... We've selected our top sellers from this past year--half are fiction, and half are nonfiction. We'll play four rounds, with a championship at the end. And anyone is invited to vote each round!"

Comma, A Bookshop, Minneapolis, Minn., posted: "Here's where things stand in the Comma Book Lover's Bracket as we narrow down what Comma's favorite book of our first 18 months has been. You all have great taste!... Be sure to vote in our Instagram stories. What has surprised you the most on the bracket? Is one of these contenders a Cinderella story? Which are you cheering for?"

The Thinking Spot, Wayzata, Minn. asked: "Do you have a favorite Genre at The Thinking Spot? Now's your chance to vote for it and make it win! Cast your vote for your favorite section at The Thinking Spot. Each week the winning Genre/Section in each bracket will move to the next round....  This is it folks, Final Round--It's Nature vs Fiction! They've been neck and neck in the votes they've been getting so far. Make sure you vote to give your favorite section a boost! The final result will be announced on April 5th!... Start voting for your favorite and may the best section win!"

"We're jumping in on all the March Madness fun with our own book themed bracket!" All Good Books, Columbia, S.C., noted. "Popular book series will go head to head in this literary challenge. Swipe to learn the rules and find out how to make your very own bracket. Voting will occur every weekend on Instagram story polls! The winner will receive a $50 gift card to AGB."

Women's History March Madness was the bracketology theme at Dragontale Books, Menomonie, Wis., which posted: "We have four matchups now. Pick one from each matchup to advance to the final four. We only have a week so fill out the form soon. We have some in the store as well....Women's History March Madness is almost over. Championship is April 8. We are down to the final four and there is a quick turnaround so write in the title of your overall winner. Viola vs Virginia and Eleanor vs Valiant Women."

A bracket alert from BookPeople, Austin, Tex., warned: "It's the Final Countdown on our March Madness tournament! From the Horror Conference, we have Christopher Buehlman's Between Two Fires, a 'genre-bending Southern horror' described as 'graceful and horrific,' and from the History Conference, A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage, 'a cogent crash course in ancient, classical and modern history.' Which one will immortalize their name as a champion? Make sure to pick up your copy to bring your team closer to victory!"

Some winners have already been announced: 

Meet Cute Bookshop, San Diego, Calif., which featured a March Madness Trope Bracket, posted: "What are some of your favorite marriage of convenience and love potion reads? Remember to submit your bracket to events@meetcutebookshop.com by March 8th! Find a blank one at the l!nk !n our b!o.... And with that, the 2024 Trope Tournament comes to an end! Congratulations to our winner, a number one seed, fake dating!"

Emerging from the Final Four at the Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., was Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, "your Champion of our Book Bracket! Thank you all so much for your participation and engaging with us over the course of the month--it's been a joy to celebrate 50 years of books with you #MarchMadness style." 

My bracket winner this year is Hanif Abdurraqib's recently published There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension, which I'm reading now. Gary Lovely of Prologue Bookshop, Cincinnati, Ohio, said: "Hanif Abdurraqib is at the top of his game with this one. Using basketball as a vehicle for reflection on east Columbus's history and personal memory, There's Always This Year is a triumph of contemplative, emotionally rich writing that will have you wiping tears and sitting on the edge of your seat."

And David Hollabaugh, co-owner of Bookery in Cincinnati, noted that "in the heart of March Madness, and with NBA playoffs around the corner, it's a perfect time to read this book. But it's also a story to read (and re-read) any time of year. I left the copy in these photos at this court for someone to find.... My hope is whoever finds this book connects with it the way I did."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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