Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 12, 2024


Crown Publishing Group (NY): Here One Moment Liane Moriarty

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Quotation of the Day

'Indie Bookstores Are Vital Community Centers'

"I'd hoped that publishing a book would help me build relationships in publishing. What I didn't anticipate is the way it would connect me to booksellers! These are my people! It's been such a joy to share my work with them. A long time ago I worked at a bookstore--Shakespeare & Co. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan--because I wanted to spend my days with people who loved books. I remember when authors would come in to sign copies. I thought their lives were so glamorous, and I dreamed of being able to do that someday.

"Honestly, being an Indies Introduce and an Indie Next author means the world to me. Indie bookstores are vital community centers, and if indie booksellers are passionate about this book, that's more success than I hoped for. I've teared up after hearing from booksellers who were early readers of Women! In! Peril!, and I'm so happy to think they're spreading the word and putting this book in the hands of readers who might like it."

--Jessie Ren Marshall, whose book Women! In! Peril! is a Winter/Spring Indies Introduce adult selection and April Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Shame on You: How to Be a Woman in the Age of Mortification by Melissa Petro


News

Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis., Re-opens After Renovations

After four months of extensive renovations, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis., has reopened to in-store shoppers. The bookstore had to close temporarily earlier this year for structural repairs on the 1870 building, which was showing its age and needed foundation work done, as well as new floors upstairs and in the basement. 

Nancy Baenen, shop manager and children's book buyer, said, "Our construction crew did an amazing job of building bespoke displays while also paying tribute to the history of the building by repurposing original beams and uncovering a post that has been supporting the building for 150+ years. Prior to housing the bookstore, this building was a flower shop, a grocery store, a paint store and the village's post office; the groove worn in the floor by the postmaster has been preserved. We are grateful to our loyal customers for their support and enthusiasm and gratified knowing this building will stand for another hundred years."

In the most recent issue of the Arcadia Books e-newsletter, Baenen wrote: "I don't think the grins have left our faces since we reopened the store on Friday morning. There was a little celebration each time the door opened and an old friend stepped inside, from preschoolers to octogenarians. We can't wait to see you all and show off the upgrades and special touches we've added. For example, the wood trim on the counters came from a roughhewn beam that held up the store for a hundred years. We are now ready to be here for a hundred more!"


Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno


Another Look at IBD Plans

With Independent Bookstore Day 2024 just over two weeks away, here is another look at what indies around the country have planned for the annual celebration of bookselling.

Libro.fm's golden ticket promotion is returning this year. 500 tickets will be hidden for customers to find at participating partner bookstores, with each ticket good for 12 free audiobooks from Libro.fm. At the same time, a plethora of bestselling audiobooks will be available for $5 or less from April 22 until April 28.

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Beginning on April 20, indie booksellers in Brooklyn, N.Y., are teaming up for the Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl. Passports are available at any of the 25 participating bookstores, and gathering at least five stamps earns customers a 25%-off coupon good at all participating stores. There will be a Bookstore Crawl Afterparty at 5 p.m. on April 27 at Brooklyn's Center for Fiction, featuring festivities and an additional prize raffle.

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The inaugural Houston Independent Bookstore Crawl kicked off on April 5, with 18 indies throughout the Houston, Tex., area participating. Customers can pick up a passport at any participating store, and once they collect 10 stamps they can submit their passport for entry into a prize raffle. Every stamp collected after the first 10 will earn an additional entry in the raffle. A map of participating bookstores can be found here.

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For the second year running, bookstores across the state of Utah are partnering for the Fellowship of the Indie Bookstores map and scavenger hunt. Readers can collect maps on IBD and have one year to visit all 30 participating stores. Those who acquire all 30 stamps will receive a bundle of gift cards from each store.

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In southeastern Virginia, 15 indie bookstores are teaming up for the Hampton Roads Bookstore Crawl. Beginning April 19, customers will have a little over a week to visit as many participating bookstores as they can around Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Chesapeake, and other parts of the Hampton Roads region. Customers who complete their passport will be entered to win a prize raffle that will be drawn the week after Independent Bookstore Day.

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Five indie bookstores in Little Rock and North Little Rock, Ark., are joining forces for the Rock City Book Crawl. Readers are invited to grab a passport at a participating store and visit as many of the others as they can before the end of the day. The participating stores are: Beautywood Books, the Book Store, Paper Hearts Bookstore, Pyramid Art, Books, & Custom Framing, and WordsWorth Books.

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At the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, IBD festivities will include four storytime sessions beginning at 11 a.m. and running until 12:30 p.m., followed by appearances by local authors Emily Cox & Nicole Allen (The Other Side of Together) and Mariclaire Norton (The Book of Tara). There will also be a pop-up appearance by Rita's Traveling Bookstore, a new bookstore coming to Midway, Utah.

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In St. Petersburg, Fla., Tombolo Books will begin the celebration with a storytime session with Natalia Sylvester, author of A Maleta Full of Treasures. In the afternoon, the Sparks Collaborative Ensemble will perform an interactive storytime of When the Tuba Shows Up, It's a Party, written by Sheila Cowley and illustrated by Creative Clay. There will be a children's and teen book sale throughout the day, as well as a gelato pop-up in the store's courtyard.


ABA Board Election: Nominees Sweep

In this year's ABA board elections, members voted in favor of the nominees, a mix of new and returning board members, Bookselling This Week reported. The results:

Kathy Burnette, Brain Lair Books, South Bend, Ind., who was appointed to the board last May, was elected to a first term;
Danny Caine, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., elected to a second term;
Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, Solid State Books, Washington, D.C., elected to a second term;
Christina Pascucci Ciampa, All She Wrote Books, Somerville, Mass., elected to a first term.


Obituary Note: Don Choffel

Don Choffel

Don Choffel, owner and co-founder of Dickson Street Bookshop, Fayetteville, Ark., has died. In a Facebook post announcing his death, the bookstore noted: "The impact of his loss is impossible to measure, especially to those of us who were lucky enough to know him well. But also to countless people who never had the good fortune of knowing him. His effect on Northwest Arkansas and around the world is simply awe-inspiring. Anyone who knew Don would tell you that he was the kindest, most humble, intelligent, generous, funny, and loving man you could hope to meet."

Dickson Street Bookshop, the post continued, "is Don's baby. He worked tirelessly seven days a week for the last 45-plus years to ensure our continued success, including in the event of his passing. He planned well for this day because he wanted the bookshop to always be here, serving the local community, and that is exactly what we will do. We aren't going anywhere, and we will continue to uphold and honor his work, values, wishes and the lifeblood he selflessly poured into the bookshop."

Noting that there will be a small private service for Choffel, the bookstore encouraged "anyone who is inclined to donate in his name to programs that promote literacy."


Notes

Image of the Day: Book Culture Hosts Housing Discussion

Book Culture in New York City hosted Jennifer Baum for the launch of Just City: Growing Up on the Upper West Side When Housing Was a Human Right (Fordham University Press/Empire State Editions). Baum was in conversation with Manhattan Borough Historian Robert W. Snyder, author of Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City (Three Hills/Cornell University Press), and was introduced by Cody Madsen, Book Culture's v-p of operations. (photo: Fred Nachbaur)

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

Kathryn Libertini has joined Chronicle Books as sales, marketing & publicity assistant.



Media and Movies

Movies: The Running Man

Writer/director Glen Powell has been cast in Paramount's The Running Man, based on Stephen King's 1982 novel that was published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Deadline reported that Edgar Wright will direct and produce with his producing partner Nira Park and Simon Kinberg. The Running Man was previously adapted into a 1987 feature film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Powell most recently starred alongside Sydney Sweeney in Sony's romantic comedy and international box office hit Anyone But You. He will next be seen in director Richard Linklater's upcoming action comedy Hitman, which Powell also co-wrote and co-produced. 


On Stage: The Lord of the Rings--A Musical Tale

The Lord of the Rings--A Musical Tale, which opened last year in the U.K., will stage its U.S. debut in Chicago this July. Deadline reported that the production, based on the books by J.R.R. Tolkien and directed by Paul Hart, begins performances July 19 at The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, running through September 1. An international tour will follow, with venues and dates to be announced in June.

"I can't wait for this next step in the epic journey of The Lord of the Rings as we craft this new staging for the U.S. premiere production with Chicago Shakespeare Theater for Chicago audiences," Hart said. "We loved creating this version which was retold from the perspective of the Hobbits at The Watermill and will now be expanded far beyond those horizons. It will be thrilling to share with new audiences internationally as part of this next stage."

The production features book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus and original music by A.R. Rahman, Finnish folk band Värttinä, and Christopher Nightingale. (An earlier iteration was staged at London's Royal Drury Lane in 2007.)


Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting Winners; RNA's Romantic Novel Shortlists

The 10 winners have been selected for the 39th annual Whiting Awards, sponsored by the Whiting Foundation and recognizing "excellence and promise in a spectrum of emerging talent, giving most winners the chance to devote themselves full time to their own writing, or to take bold new risks in their work."

The winners, each of whom receive $50,000, comprise six women and four men, and significant ethnic and geographic diversity. Four were born outside of the U.S.--in Korea, India, El Salvador, and Botswana. The others are from Maryland, Philadelphia, Ohio, Washington, D.C., the Bronx, N.Y., and Texas. They are:

Aaliyah Bilal (fiction)
Yoon Choi (fiction)
Shayok Misha Chowdhury (drama)
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (drama)
Elisa Gonzalez (poetry)
Taylor Johnson (poetry)
Gothataone Moeng (fiction)
Charif Shanahan (poetry)
Javier Zamora (nonfiction and poetry)
Ada Zhang (fiction)

For more about the award and about the winners, click here.

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The Romantic Novelists' Association released shortlists in 10 categories for this year's Romantic Novel Awards, which "celebrate excellence in romantic fiction in all its forms." The awards are judged by readers, without input from industry professionals. Winners will be named during the RNA's Romantic Novel Awards ceremony, set for May 20 in London. See the complete RNA shortlists here.


Reading with... Myriam J.A. Chancy

photo: N. Affonso

Myriam J.A. Chancy's novel What Storm, What Thunder was named a Best Book of 2021 by NPR, Kirkus, Library Journal, the Boston Globe, and the Globe and Mail. She is also the author of several academic monographs, including Harvesting Haiti: Reflections on Unnatural Disasters and Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women. Her most recent novel is Village Weavers (Tin House, April 2, 2024), a story of two girls from Port-au-Prince, spanning decades and continents.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Village Weavers travels to Port-au-Prince, Paris, Florida and more to uncover the divide between two girlfriends and their journey back to each other decades later.

On your nightstand now:

The Girl Before Her by Line Papin (translated by Adriana Hunter and Ly Lan Dill); Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks; Evil Eye by Etaf Rum; Ocean Stirrings by Merle Collins. Papin's book is a translation from the French about Vietnamese girls, following them from childhood to adulthood as they live through the Vietnam War and emigrate; it's written in lush, evocative prose. The other three novels provide insight into Caribbean and Palestinian lives. Merle Collins's novel is an epic retelling of Malcolm X's mother's story, from her great-grandmothers' lives down to her own; it does new things with the novel form and challenges me to think in new ways about what I'll do next in my own work.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. I just came across a box set of the Farley novels in a little library in my neighborhood and it just made me smile and remember how I couldn't wait to get to the next volume in the series as a young reader. It also made me think about how to put stories together back then, wondering how Farley did it and how I might do it too someday.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin, for writing complex novels that were far ahead of their time. Toni Morrison, for how she breaks the line. Paule Marshall, for writing that is timeless. Miriam Toews, for writing that it is both fine and full of humor in face of tragedy. M. NourbeSe Philip, for knowing how to speak to the dead.

Book you've faked reading:

Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time)--there are so many references to Proust's "madeleine" and mnemonics in literary fiction that it's hard to avoid having fake-read Proust but I do intend to read it (in the original) one day!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Gloria Naylor, Mama Day. How Naylor breaks linear time and the divide between the life of the spirit and the "everyday" is remarkable.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Black Food, edited by Bryant Terry, and pretty much any cookbook I own.

Book you hid from your parents:

Books by Judy Blume because everyone in junior high whispered about them.

Book that changed your life:

Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, which led me to read the works of Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Virginia Woolf, and Zora Neale Hurston when I was a teenager growing up in the prairies of Canada, meaning, in virtual isolation from other people of African descent.

Favorite line from a book:

"Is? My baby? Burning?" --Toni Morrison, Sula

Five books you'll never part with:

Giovanni's Room, James Baldwin; Praisesong for the Widow, Paule Marshall; Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston; A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid; The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.

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

Ava by Carole Maso. It's a novel written in a song cycle, telling the story of a dying woman's life. What Maso does with the idea of song, sound, the poetic line, and white space is unmatched in this novel.

Book you think more people should know:

The Marvellous Equations of the Dread by Marcia Douglas. Douglas's experimental novel might seem, on the surface, to be about Bob Marley's death and legacy, but it is, in fact, about the women and children of Jamaica, Rastafari women, and the legacy of reggae, dub, and other forms of resistance created from the Tainos to the Maroons, to the creators in Trenchtown; Leena, the main character, is a deaf woman. I teach it almost every year and never tire of reading it: the book resonates with love and is written in such a way that there is always more to discover. It's also a student favorite so I think more people should know about it.

A recent book more people should read:

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. The surprising way in which Atwood closes out The Handmaid's Tale is surprising and pitch-perfect.


Book Review

Review: This Earthly Globe: A Venetian Geographer and the Quest to Map the World

This Earthly Globe: A Venetian Geographer and the Quest to Map the World by Andrea di Robilant (Knopf, $30 hardcover, 272p., 9780307597076, June 18, 2024)

With This Earthly Globe: A Venetian Geographer and the Quest to Map the World, Andrea di Robilant takes a convoluted but purposeful journey through history as well as geography to follow a remarkable achievement: the publication in the 1500s of an unprecedented three-volume collection. Navigationi et Viaggi, or Navigations and Journeys, was the life work of Giovambattista Ramusio, a career civil servant in Venice, but his name was not at first attached to "this remarkable collection of travel narratives, journals, private letters and classified government reports." Humble and hardworking, Ramusio spent a lifetime compiling documents and notes from an impressive assortment of travelers. He found an early version of Marco Polo's travel writings, corresponded with contemporary European explorers, and nurtured sources for long-secret documents; he was a dedicated editor, translator, and collector responsible for "one of the great publishing feats of the sixteenth century. It played a vital role in the final emancipation from a vision of the world still anchored to antiquity and became an indispensable source for the great cartographers of the second half of the sixteenth century."

The world travelers whose notes, journals, drawings, and maps informed Ramusio's work provide most of the color for di Robilant's lively history. Ramusio's own life is described, but it is Marco Polo, al-Hasan ibn Mohammad al-Wazzan, Antonio Pigafetta, Andrea Navagero, and many others whose adventures brighten these pages. Di Robilant (A Venetian Affair, Chasing the Rose, Face to Face) recounts their stories in vibrant detail. Marco Polo, in the region of present-day Afghanistan, saw "the landscape... stark against the deep blue sky: steep barren mountains, silvery green poplars along the banks of the river, the occasional mud village, and always a few flocks of sheep here and there nibbling at the rocky terrain." Al-Wazzan, a "careful observer and diligent note taker... amassed a wealth of information on everything from the price of grains to particular weaving techniques to the quality of local wines in the places he visited." He and Ramusio shared a "notion of what geography should be: not just maps and place-names but a more encompassing description of territory that might include observations on local crops, on manufacture, on trade patterns, on systems of transportation, irrigation and communication, on the social and political organizations of villages and towns, on religious practices."

Di Robilant unfolds centuries of history, a dizzying array of characters, and a wide world of geography and culture in an easy storytelling style without falling into a dry recitation of facts and dates. This Earthly Globe offers a broad, accessible narrative about a publication that changed the world as it helped define it. Obviously for fans of history and geography, this sparkling story will also please general readers. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This romp through history relates the lives and adventures of many travelers whose stories were compiled by a self-effacing Venetian civil servant in an extraordinary publishing feat.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Watch and Read--Bingeing History

I don't know much about history, but I know what I like. That's not quite true. Though I'm no historian by any definition, I do read history books occasionally, and am addicted to film and TV adaptations. In fact, I've been on something of a historical viewing binge lately 

(courtesy AppleTV+)

The most recent example is Franklin, premiering today on Apple TV+ with the first three episodes, to be followed by one new episode every Friday through May 17. Starring and executive produced by Michael Douglas, the eight-part limited series is based on Stacy Schiff's book A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America. The creative team includes writer and executive producer Kirk Ellis (John Adams) as well as writer and executive producer Howard Korder (Boardwalk Empire).

Although I tend to be an anti-binge-watching TV traditionalist (patience is an underrated viewing pleasure), I've already seen the complete series thanks to the small miracle of advance screeners. Franklin is a great ride, and Douglas brings just the right blend of wit, intelligence, charm, mischief, and susceptibility to temptation to the role. A tip of the chapeau as well to one of my favorite actors, Thibault de Montalembert (Call My Agent!) as the shrewd comte de Vergennes.

As far as the ages-old book vs. screen adaptation debate goes, I've never been a fan. Franklin is in fact a case of a series actually prompting my interest in reading Schiff's book, not to decide which is better but for further details. That's a good thing. 

(courtesy AppleTV+)

The series begins in December 1776, when the already legendary Franklin embarks on a secret mission to France at the age 70. Without any formal diplomatic training, he is tasked with convincing King Louis XVI to underwrite America's troubled revolution against England. The eight-year mission eventually leads to the Franco-American Alliance of 1778 and the peace treaty with Great Britain in 1783, but in the TV series, the long journey to those monumental results plays out on a deceptively smaller canvas of back room negotiations (albeit très élégant back rooms), personal betrayals, frustrating stalemates, and ongoing seductions (political as well as romantic).

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell
(courtesy Playground Television UK)

Traveling back in history a couple of centuries, PBS Masterpiece has just released first-look pictures for Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light, based on the final novel in Hilary Mantel's trilogy, as filming comes to a close. One of my all-time favorites, the series--both books and TV adaptations--brings back the incomparable Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis as King Henry VIII. The series will air on PBS Masterpiece next year. 

Not long ago I rewatched the first two seasons of Wolf Hall and was reminded of how my perception of Cromwell has been a curiously organic one, affected initially by the novels and then by the TV series. 

It all started at Manhattan's Frick Collection during the late 1990s. The first time I entered the Living Hall, I was immediately drawn to Hans Holbein's painting of Sir Thomas More, who seemed noble, keen-eyed, brilliant. My reaction was certainly influenced by Utopia, one of my favorite books, as well as Peter Ackroyd's 1998 biography, The Life of Thomas More.

Damien Lewis as Henry Tudor
(courtesy Playground Televion UK)

On the same wall, Holbein's portrait of Cromwell had the opposite effect. I saw him as uptight and staid, like a grouchy uncle at a family reunion. He glared across the fireplace at More with envy and scorn. Or so I believed.

Then I read Wolf Hall in 2009. The next time I visited the Frick, Cromwell had altered dramatically, his expression radiating subtlety, mischievousness and wisdom, while More seemed a bit... dyspeptic. I knew who was to blame. Mantel had completely disarmed my longstanding--and admittedly irrational--prejudice against Cromwell through her brilliant fictional portrayal. Rylance sealed the deal.

As fate (and theatricality) would have it, just after the curtain had come down on another BookExpo America in 2015, I saw Wolf Hall, Part II: Bring Up the Bodies, the Royal Shakespeare Company's brilliant stage adaptation of Mantel's work, at the Winter Garden Theatre. Curiously, I was reminded at the time of a 2013 Globe Theatre production on Broadway of Twelfth Night, in which Olivia was brilliantly played by Thomas Cromwell (oops, I mean Mark Rylance). It's the character Fabian, however, who says, "If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction."

I do sometimes worry about how much of my historical perspective is shaped by the "improbable fiction" of film and TV adaptations, especially in an age when imagination, for the better but also too often for the worse, is running rampant. 

And yet, I found myself this week rewatching HBO's 2008 limited series John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti and adapted from the bestselling book by David McCullough. The screenplay was written by Kirk Ellis (Franklin, as mentioned before).

I was prompted to watch John Adams again because I was curious about the uneasy relationship between Franklin and Adams during the time they were both in France. In Franklin, Adams is played by Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan), and I wondered how this portrayal stacked up against Giamatti's. As it turns out, they're a good match. 

Again, I'm no historian but I know what I like: Franklin prompting me to consider reading Schiff's book; two portrayals of John Adams perhaps sending me back to the pages of McCullough; maybe even a return to Cromwell's world through the keen lens of Mantel's novels. 

Watch and read, folks. Maybe bingeing's not so bad after all. 

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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