Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 19, 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.


Grand Opening Tomorrow for Shared Stories in Caldwell, Idaho

Shared Stories will host a grand opening celebration tomorrow, Saturday, April 20, at 106 S. Kimball Ave. in Caldwell, Idaho. BoiseDev reported that a love for books inspired George Decker and his wife, Jocele Skinner, to start their first business venture in the 1,250-square-foot space that now offers new books, cards, gifts, candles, puzzles, and more.

Many of the nonbook items on offer are made locally, including soaps and candles from New Plymouth. Even the shelves were made in Middleton at Brick Barn Furniture, and Skinner, "who had an idea of what she wanted the shop to smell like, sourced the scent locally as well," BoiseDev noted.

"We have our own candles that we went next door to Lit&Co and spent a couple of hours getting the scent just right," Decker said. "My wife, Jocele, wanted the smell of reading a book while in a rainstorm in the Owyhee Mountains, and I think we got pretty close."

Shared Stories, which had its soft opening last week, has long been a dream of Skinner's. "We're book nerds," Decker said. "Have been forever. I remember one of the first conversations that I had with Jocele when we were dating back in 2003, and she said her ultimate dream is to either run, work in, or have something to do with a bookstore. And well, it's been 20-plus years, and it's come true."

The bookstore's website notes that the goal for Shared Stories is "to build a community through books and shared experiences. Our store is a place for book lovers and enthusiasts who enjoy reading and literature. It’s the power of storytelling and shared stories that bring us all together."

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Adam Ridgway New London Book Fair Director

Adam Ridgway has been named director of the London Book Fair, succeeding Gareth Rapley, who took the spot in 2022. Rapley had earlier worked in the energy sector for RX (Reed Exhibitions), owner of the fair, and will return to the energy sector with a promotion to portfolio director. He will work with Ridgway for two months to help in the transition.

Adam Ridgway

Ridgway has 36 years of experience working for conference and exhibition organizers on both consumer and business events in a variety of industries. He commented: "I'm excited to be stepping into the role of LBF director and want to pay tribute to what Gareth has achieved over the past couple of years. This year's fair received some incredibly positive feedback from both visitors and exhibitors, with attendance growing to over 33,000. I know there is still work to be done as the Olympia redevelopment continues apace until its conclusion in 2026, which will present many opportunities for the future of the fair. I look forward to meeting colleagues across the industry, keeping dialogue open and understanding more about how we can deliver even better value for the industry year on year."

Rapley said, "It has been a fantastic two years as director of LBF, in which time it has been a privilege to be a part of the book industry and meet many of the incredible champions of reading and literacy from around the world, that make the industry such a unique and creative place. I leave LBF knowing that it is in a strong position, having continued to bounce back strongly after the pandemic. I have worked with Adam for several years and I know that he will bring a huge amount to the role."

Passport Challenges and Bookstore Crawls Gearing Up for Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day 2024 is just over a week away, and all around the country bookstore crawls and passport challenges are already in progress or waiting to begin.

In Seattle, Wash., 28 indie bookstores are taking part in the Bookstore Day Passport Challenge, but this year, customers will have from April 27 to May 6 to visit all the stores. Readers can pick up their passports on IBD, and those who turn in a completed passport by May 6 will earn a Bookstore Day Champion Stamp Card, good for a one-time 25% discount at each participating store. Those who collect at least five stamps will receive a single 25%-off coupon to use at any one of the participating stores. The list of participating stores can be found here.


Five indies near South Charleston, W.Va., are teaming up for the area's first ever Bookshop Hop. Shoppers have April 27 & 28 to visit the participating stores and get their passports stamped at each, and turning in a completed passport will earn a special, commemorative T-shirt. The participating stores are: Plot Twist Books, Cicada Books & Coffee, the Inner Geek, Booktenders, and Broadway Books.


In southeast Nebraska, the second annual Lincoln & Seward Independent Bookstore Crawl has begun. Readers have been able to pick Bookstore Crawl postcards at participating stores since April 14, and they have until the end of the day on April 27 to collect stamps from as many as possible. Those who complete the crawl will have a chance to win a variety of prizes, and participating stores include: Sower Books, Elleinad Books, A Novel Idea Bookstore, Indigo Bridge, Francie & Finch Bookshop, Chapters Books & Gifts, and Badger's Bookshop.


From April 27-29, 13 indies will be participating in the San Diego Book Crawl. Readers can receive a passport with a purchase of at least $10 at any participating store. Purchases of the same minimum amount will earn them passport stamps at other stores, and shoppers will receive prizes based on the amount of stamps they've collected. On Independent Bookstore Day itself, the Book Crawl will also offer shuttle buses with three options: stops at  six stores, nine stores, or all 13 stores. The shuttle buses are being supplied by UC San Diego, and all shuttles will begin and end at UCSD.


Five bookstores in Vermont and New Hampshire are working together once more for the Upper Valley Indie Bookstore Crawl. On April 27, readers will be able to pick up an Indie Bookstore Crawl map at any of the participating stores and have until the end of the day to collect every stamp. Completed maps will be entered into a drawing for a prize package. The participating stores are Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, Vt., Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, N.H., Left Bank Books in Hanover, N.H., Cover to COVER Books in White River Junction, Vt., and the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt. Jenna Shepard, bookseller at Yankee Bookshop, drew this year's map.


In Edmonton, Alberta, 11 indies are joining forces for the first-ever Edmonton Book Crawl. Book lovers have the weekend to visit participating stores and get their passports stamped; those who collect every stamp will be entered to win a "Fantastic Hamper of Bookish Goodies," filled with prizes from every store.


The Buffalo Bookstore Passport went live on April 13, with 12 stores in the Buffalo, N.Y., area taking part. Readers have until the end of Indie Bookstore Day to collect all 12 passport stamps, and if they do, they'll be entered to win a $25 gift card from each participating store, for a total value of $300. Four stores in the greater Buffalo area are also participating as bonus bookstores, with their stamps counting as additional prize entries.


The third annual Lakeland Book Crawl will begin on April 22 and run until Indie Bookstore Day. Seven stores around Lakeland, Fla., are participating, and each day leading up to IBD will feature a special promo at one or two of the seven stores. Throughout the week, customers will be able to scan QR codes at the stores and be entered to win a pair of custom bookends created by a local artist.

Half Price Books Closing Mesquite, Tex., Store

Half Price Books will close its bookstore at the Market East Shopping Center in Mesquite, Tex., just east of Dallas, on May 5 after its current lease is up, WFAA reported.

"We've been in Mesquite since 1994 and have great customers in the area," said company spokesperson Emily Bruce. "But due to a decline in customer traffic, we made the decision to close at the end of our lease.... We hope to see our customers at our other DFW locations, including our nearby stores in Rockwall and Garland."

Half Price Books operates about 120 locations in 19 states, including about 40 in Texas.


Image of the Day: Eddie Ahn's Advocate at Green Apple Books

Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, Calif., hosted author Eddie Ahn and professor Russell Jeung for the sold-out launch event for Advocate: A Graphic Memoir of Family, Community, and the Fight for Environmental Justice (Ten Speed Graphic).

Bookstore Window Display: Anderson's Bookshop

Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill., shared a photo of one of the bookseller's latest front window displays, inviting readers to "Wander through a good book."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Katie Stutz has been promoted to associate marketing manager, Bloom Books and Casablanca.

Madison Nankervis has been promoted to associate marketing manager, Bloom Books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jordan Mechner on Here & Now

NPR's Here & Now: Jordan Mechner, author of Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family (First Second, $29.99, 9781250873750).

TV: Down Cemetery Road

Emma Thompson and Ruth Wilson will star in Down Cemetery Road, a thriller series for Apple TV+ based on the 2003 book by Mick Herron. Deadline reported that "the project comes to Apple following the streamer's work with Herron on Slow Horses, its hugely popular espionage drama based on his Slough House novels."

A writer on that series, Morwenna Banks, will serve as lead writer and executive producer of Down Cemetery Road. In addition to Banks, exec producers on the project include Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, and Tom Nash of 60Forty Films, as well as Thompson and Herron. Natalie Bailey (Audrey, Bay of Fires) will serve as the show's lead director.

"Down Cemetery Road has all the hallmarks of Mick Herron's funny and acerbic writing, and I'm delighted we will be bringing it to life for Apple TV+ with such a stellar cast," said Jay Hunt, Apple TV+'s Creative director, Europe. "Emma Thompson and Ruth Wilson will make it an unmissable companion piece for Slow Horses on our service."

Books & Authors

Awards: Jackson Poetry Winner; Young Lions Finalists

Fady Joudah has won the $100,000 Jackson Poetry Prize, which recognizes "an American poet of exceptional talent" and is sponsored by Poets & Writers and funded by the Liana Foundation.

Joudah is the author of six collections of poems, most recently […], published by Milkweed Editions earlier this year. His other collections are The Earth in the Attic (Yale University Press, 2008); Alight (Copper Canyon Press, 2013); Textu (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (Milkweed Editions, 2018); and Tethered to Stars (Milkweed Editions, 2021). He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic and is the coeditor and cofounder of the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and Prize. A winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007, Joudah has received a PEN USA Literary Award, a Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, the Griffin Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Arab American Book Award. He lives in Houston, Tex., where he practices internal medicine.

The judges commented: "The Jackson Poetry Prize celebrates Palestinian-American poet Fady Joudah's significant and evolving body of work, distinguished by his courage to speak in the face of the unspeakable, in poems of lyric concision and intensity. 'I write for the future,' Joudah tells us, 'because my present is demolished.' From the epicenter of that devastation, Joudah resists via the potent image, the senses, and the network of feelings, conjuring the smile of a child rescued from a bombed-out home, and two siblings who liberate their fish 'from the rubble of airstrikes'--speaking of and from the 'collaterals' of war. Joudah's diction is slippery, elucidating the instability of language in bearing what cannot be borne. This slippage echoes, as well, the fragility of selfhood, and of love, in the face of such annihilation. He demands love poems from a world so adept at withholding love. The current historical moment gives Joudah's most recent poems particular urgency, though his body of work has consistently explored mortality, the poem's capacity to archive the living and the dead, and to transform borders into thresholds. Joudah's lyric gift generates a transcendence into unity, 'From womb / to breath, and one / with oneness // I be: / from the river / to the sea.' "


Finalists have been selected for the $10,000 Young Lions Fiction Award, honoring the work of American authors who write novels or short stories and are age 35 or younger. The award is sponsored by the New York Public Library; the winner will be named June 13.

The finalists:
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah for Chain-Gang All-Stars
Monica Brashears for House of Cotton
Eskor David Johnson for Pay As You Go
E. J. Koh for The Liberators
C Pam Zhang for Land of Milk and Honey

Celebrating Ezra Jack Keats Winners

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, gave the awards to this year's winners at the Kaigler Children's Book Festival last weekend. The annual EJK Awards celebrate exceptional early career authors and illustrators for portraying the multicultural nature of our world in the spirit of Ezra Jack Keats. The full list of winners is here. Pictured: Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez (Illustrator honor), Sarah Gonzales (Illustrator winner), Anne Wynter (Writer winner), Kim Rogers (Writer honor).

Reading with... Paul Yamazaki

photo: Marissa Leshnov

Paul Yamazaki is the principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers, the famed San Francisco bookstore and publisher, and was the recipient of the National Book Foundation's 2023 Literarian Award. Reading the Room: A Bookseller's Tale (April 19, 2024) is Yamazaki's love letter to the work of bookselling and engaged life of the mind. Reading the Room is the inaugural publication from Ode Books, a new imprint of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Reading the Room is the distillation of many hours of conversation with friends about the pleasures, perils, and joys of 54 years of bookselling.

On your nightstand now:

Blue Ruin by Hari Kunzru
Weird Black Girls by Elwin Cotman
There's Always This Year by Hanif Abdurraqib
Collected Essays & Memoirs by Albert Murray
Exhibit by R.O. Kwon
Colored Television by Danzy Senna
Sparks: China's Underground Historians and Their Battle for the Future by Ian Johnson
In Praise of Good Bookstores by Jeff Deutsch
Creation Lake by Rachel Kushner

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and illustrated by Ernest Shepard

Your top five authors:

Trying to define what top means and to limit that to five authors is impossible for me. If I rephrase the question to the most influential authors, I could come up with a list that I would probably revise if asked the same question in another instance. Here's my response to that question right now, the authors are in no particular order: C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Walter Benjamin, and Amiri Baraka. These authors are instrumental in shaping my curiosities which are at the foundation of how I acquire titles for City Lights.

Book you've faked reading:

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil. The Sophie Wilkins-Burton Pike translation runs about 1,800 pages in two volumes. I've made two serious attempts to read this amazing novel but have never managed to get beyond 700 pages. I hope to make a third attempt and complete this decades-long goal before time runs out.

Books that you're an evangelist for:

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

These novels are a very good introduction to authors who have a substantive body of work that I treasure. If I could find two or three months in a high desert cabin in the American Southwest or Rajasthan in northeastern India with a sufficient quantity of scotch and mezcal, I would love to read in chronological order all the books that Yamashita and Kunzru have written.

Book you've bought for the cover.

By Its Cover: Modern American Book Cover Design by Ned Drew and Paul Sternberg

Book you hid from your parents:

Another Country by James Baldwin

Book that changed your life:

See all of the above.

Favorite line from a book:

"My eye frees what the page imprisons" --Ibn 'Ammar, from the poem Reading, translated by Cola Franzen from Poems of Arab Andalusia

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

See all of the above.

A suggestion:

If you, dear reader, are interested or curious about Reading the Room, I would suggest you read first In Praise of Good Bookstores by Jeff Deutsch. There is no better book on the joy and craft of bookselling.

Book Review

Review: The Dallergut Dream Department Store

The Dallergut Dream Department Store by Miye Lee, trans. by Sandy Joosun Lee (Hanover Square Press, $21.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781335081179, July 9, 2024)

With The Dallergut Dream Department Store, Miye Lee explores the nature and power of dreams, the possibilities created by choosing them, and human nature itself. Whimsical and sweet, this debut novel translated from Korean by Sandy Joosun Lee will leave any reader musing and looking forward to a good night's rest.

"For centuries, Penny's hometown has been famous for its sleep products. Now it has evolved into a metropolis.... The locals, including Penny, who grew up here, are used to seeing outsiders roaming around in sleepwear." Penny is terribly excited to interview at the Dallergut Dream Department Store, the crown jewel in a town devoted to sleepers' needs. She has studied the mythology and history, but meeting Dallergut himself is intimidating. However, he turns out to be nothing but nice, forgiving her learner's errors and prioritizing the sale of the right dream to the right customer, even over profits. Penny fangirls over the greatest dreammakers, whom she gets to meet in her new job: Nicholas, who specializes in seasonal dreams; Babynap Rockabye, who creates conception dreams; Maxim, who does surprising work in a dark back-alley studio; and Bancho, who cares for animals.

Penny has so much to learn, from bank deposits to the Eyelid Scale, not to mention the power of precognitive dreams. Purchased dreams are paid for only after they have had an effect on the sleeper, and payments come in the form of emotions experienced, so no one pays in advance or for a dud. Dreammakers can get fabulously rich and famous, but their best reward is helping people (or animals). Nap dreams differ importantly from longer ones. "Bad" dreams may serve a purpose, too. And there is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an important link between dreams, in the sense of aspirations and ambitions, and dreams as in the images and sensations that visit sleepers.

Penny is an innocent, wide-eyed disciple of Dallergut and his good works, as well as the celebrity dreammakers. Through her perspective and her refreshing tone, readers encounter an appealing, absorbing, imaginative world with rules for who designs experiences for whom. In her translator's note, Sandy Joosun Lee calls The Dallergut Dream Department Store "a story that is both fun and deep... unpretentious yet full of life," and keeps Penny's observations disarmingly enthusiastic and earnest. The pleasing tale, while simple on its surface, asks questions about self-determination and the mysterious power of nighttime imaginings to impact one's daily, "real" life. With a Calm Cookie or a Deep Sleep Candy, or just the right dream, all things are possible in Lee's captivating world. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Sleepers shop for dreams at a very special department store, where dreams may come true not only for customers but for employees as well.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Author Events Study: Live Literature in Australia

Australia Reads has released Live Literature in Australia: Understanding the Landscape of Author/Illustrator Events in Schools, Libraries and Bookstores, a joint research project between Australia Reads and the University of Melbourne investigating the ways the country's authors and illustrators connect with communities through live literature events. 

A not-for-profit collaboration of the Australian Library and Information Association, Australian Publishers Association, Australian Society of Authors, and BookPeople (the Australian booksellers association), Australia Reads works with members of all four organizations to promote the experience of meeting an author through talks, interviews, workshops, readings and performances in bookshops, libraries, schools, and online.

The research project surveyed and interviewed a range of event organizers to better understand the processes, considerations and barriers to hosting live literature events in Australia in settings other than major literary festivals. 

"Speaking with booksellers about the notion of fostering a reading culture prompted responses about the readers and book buyers in their local community," the report noted, adding that "there was a distinct sense that bookstores and booksellers act as a bridge between readers and the literary sector, making authors available to readers but also making engagement with literary culture less intimidating. The booksellers we spoke with were keen to establish a space for readers to come and discuss books and reading."

One participating bookseller said, "We try to, by every means possible, make sure that all the authors presenting, but also all of the people attending events, feel that they are as much a part of what's happening.... [And] sometimes we get a combination of more experienced authors reading alongside quite new authors so we try not to make any distinction between all of these people and just kind of give everybody kind of equal attention and equal care."

The launch of The Glass House by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist at Avid Reader, Brisbane.

The majority of bookseller respondents in the survey reported they are most likely to contact authors directly, primarily via e-mail, if they have worked with them in the past. With authors they have not worked with in the past, 70% said they would contact the publisher in order to organize an author or illustrator event in their store, but more than 77% said that being directly approached by the author/illustrator influenced decision-making when arranging author events.

As might be expected, participating booksellers noted that they do not typically make a profit from events, particularly when labor, time and overhead costs are factored in. This is a significant factor in 93% of bookstore survey respondents saying they did not pay authors and illustrators for event appearances. When asked if they would be open to compensating writers at the Australian Society of Authors suggested rate, more than 65% of the participating booksellers said they wouldn't, with around 27% opting for "maybe."

Event hosts reported a variety of models employed to lessen the financial burden on them--like ticket prices that might include the book--though many who had not ticketed their events previously cited the desire to keep them accessible across socioeconomic groups as a reason.

One bookseller noted: "There's no non-controversial way to assess what any one particular event costs us. But it's somewhere in the space of... A$500 [about US$320]  to put on an event... that's if it's in the shop where we don't have to pay for additional venue benefits. And so the overriding consideration is always [cost]."

Launch event for Winnie Dunn's Dirt Poor Islanders at Better Read Than Dead, Newtown.

More than 90% of bookseller survey respondents chose engaging with customers, publicity for authors, and fostering a reading culture as the key benefits of author and illustrator events. One inner city bookseller said: "We organize them for a couple of reasons, but I think the main one is because it does create an incredible sense of community and if you choose the right events for your customers... they just love it so much and it's like when you go to a writers festival and it's really exciting to hear people talk, it's just a very different experience."

For booksellers responding to the survey, attitudes toward more inclusive programming ranged from a conscious decision to include more authors of color, to a desire to have an inclusive program of authors, without any conscious effort or strategy. The report noted "both scholarly and industry research into the pervasive and rigid whiteness of the Australian publishing sector indicates that without explicit and sustained efforts to include more authors of color in programs, the dominance of white authors in these spaces will remain."

The Live Literature in Australia report concluded with the following recommendations for the country's book industry to improve the organization of author and illustrator events:

  1. Develop direct relationships between authors, publishers and event hosts.
  2. Make it easier for event hosts to get in contact with authors.
  3. Create informational packages that give event hosts a clear and practical sense of what authors/illustrators can offer as part of their events.
  4. Bookshops, schools and public libraries should consider partnering locally and sharing resources to facilitate author visits to local council areas.
  5. Regional event organizers, in particular, should consider collaborating locally.
  6. Coordinate marketing strategies between authors, publishers, and event hosts (particularly bookstores and public libraries).
  7. Support regional Australia through further investment by governments, literary organizations, and publishers.
  8. Improve the diversity of authors and illustrators featured in live literature programs through strategic planning by event organizers, tied to measurable targets.

Australia Reads also noted that the results from the project "demonstrated that additional research into the positive impact meeting an author has on a person’s life and desire to read--as well as on author’s sales and income--would be beneficial in order to campaign for support of these events."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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