Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 22, 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

Well Read Books, Elk River, Minn.: Grand Opening on Independent Bookstore Day

Well Read Books will host its grand opening celebration on Independent Bookstore Day, April 27, at 310 Jackson Ave. NW in Elk River, Minn. The Star News reported that the store, owned by Sarah Russell, will offer a mix of new and used books as well as author events, children's story times, book clubs, writers' workshops, and other community-style events.

Sarah Russell's idea to open a bookshop grew after she and husband, Devin Russell, moved their family to Elk River about five years ago, and regularly made trips downtown. "We love all the shops down here and the fact that we get to know the store owners," she said. "We really love the farmers market. It's such a nice place to spend time. You don't get that same feel growing up in the cities as you do here (in Elk River)."

She added that opening a bookstore will tap into her lifelong love of reading: "I have always been a book lover. Elk River has such a cute downtown, but I always felt it was missing a bookstore."

The Russells have renovated Well Read's space by putting in new flooring, painting the walls, and installing bookshelves and furniture. "I want this place to be somewhere people feel a sense of community and bond over books and ideas," she said.

"I think (e-books) are just adding to the interest in books," she said. "I think reading on your own is growing and the market changes are just adding to it. I don't think books will ever be obsolete. There's definitely a different feeling with holding a book in your hands versus a phone or tablet."


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International Update: EIBF, IPA Protest New Hong Kong Security Law; Sweden's World Book Week

Following the adoption of the new Hong Kong Security Law on March 19, the European & International Booksellers Federation and the International Publishers Association expressed concerns about the limits this law will create on the freedom to publish and on bookselling in Hong Kong. At issue are the bill's sweeping provisions and broad definitions. The Guardian recently reported that the impact of the new law on publishers and booksellers has been immediate.

"The steady deterioration of the freedom of expression in Hong Kong is alarming and disheartening," said EIBF co-president Jean-Luc Treutenaere. "The book publishing and bookselling communities are under threat by repressive security laws, which are resulting in vibrant and beloved bookshops shutting down. Any closure, and particularly in current times, is a massive loss to the book world."

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA's Freedom to Publish committee, commented: "The last 10 years have seen publishing and bookselling in Hong Kong decimated. From intimidation to restrictive security laws we must recognize the tools of censorship and resist them."

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Sweden is encouraging readers to read aloud during this year's World Book Week (April 20-28) to stimulate and develop children's reading skills, EIBF's Newsflash reported. 

The Swedish Booksellers Association (Svenska Bokhandlareföreningen) provided booksellers around the country with resources, including a booklet containing tips on how to integrate "read-aloud' sessions into children's routines, along with recommendations for excellent books that can be read to kids. The booklet was developed through a collaboration with 11 children's book publishers.

Maria Hamrefors, chair of the Swedish Booksellers Association, said that reading aloud is especially beneficial for the development of children's reading skills given that they are exposed to books that could typically be too difficult for them to read on their own.

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Fiona Stager

Fiona Stager, co-owner of Avid Reader and Where the Wild Things Are bookshops in Brisbane, is this year's recipient of the Lloyd O'Neil Award, recognizing outstanding service to the Australian book industry. The lifetime achievement honor was recently announced, along with shortlists for the Australian Booksellers Industry Awards, which will be presented May 9 at a ceremony in Melbourne.

"Fiona Stager's dedication to fostering a vibrant literary community in Brisbane is truly remarkable," the ABIA noted. "Through bookstores Avid Reader and Where the Wild Things Are, she has not only provided a platform for local and emerging writers--she has cultivated a space where readers can explore a diverse range of literature, from classics to contemporary works. Fiona has made immense contributions to the Australian literary scene, and her efforts continue to shape and enrich the cultural landscape of the country."

Stager commented: "I was so surprised and overwhelmed when I was told I was this year's recipient of the Lloyd O'Neil Award I cried! The previous recipients are people who have inspired me with their writing, or their publishing careers or bookselling acumen. I love this industry, and to be awarded the Lloyd O'Neil Award means the world to me." --Robert Gray


Warwick's Named Bookstore of the Year; Patricia Nelson Is Sales Rep of the Year

Congratulations to Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif., and to Patricia Nelson, named PW's Bookstore and Sales Rep of the Year, respectively.

Founded in 1896, Warwick's was cited for being "beloved by its community, a host to vibrant literary events for authors large and small, and an anchor business for the Village of La Jolla." The fourth-generation owner is Nancy Warwick, who said, "My parents had a very close relationship and liked working together. Even though they raised us to feel like the store was a family business, they never pressured us to take over."

Nominated by eight people, Patricia Nelson was praised for "her encyclopedic knowledge, intelligence, curiosity, and diligence." She spent many years as a bookseller at the Huntley Bookstore in California and then at the University of New Mexico Bookstore, Living Batch, and Page One in New Mexico. In 1998, she became a rep with University Press Sales Associates. She covers 13 Western states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and said, "I always have felt that life is like a Scheherazade story: there's always another book, there's always another season. It's very hard to stop, because it's so appealing. My personal slogan is, 'What's a day without a bookstore?' "


Obituary Note: Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett, "one of the most widely read and debated American philosophers, whose prolific works explored consciousness, free will, religion and evolutionary biology," died April 19, the New York Times reported. He was 82. "Dennett combined a wide range of knowledge with an easy, often playful writing style to reach a lay public, avoiding the impenetrable concepts and turgid prose of many other contemporary philosophers." In addition to his more than 20 books and numerous essays, his writings were adapted for the theater and the concert stage.

Never one to avoid controversy, Dennett often crossed swords with other scholars and thinkers. An outspoken atheist, he claimed that the human mind is no more than a brain operating as a series of algorithmic functions, like a computer. To believe otherwise is "profoundly naïve and anti-scientific," he told the Times.

Dennett earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Oxford University with a dissertation that began a lifelong quest to use empirical research as the basis of a philosophy of the mind. He taught philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, from 1965 to 1971, then moved to Tufts University, where he was director of its Center for Cognitive Studies.

He attracted widespread scholarly notice with his first book, Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (1978), in which he asserted that "multiple decisions resulted in a moral choice and that these prior, random deliberations contributed more to the way an individual acted than did the ultimate moral decision itself," the Times noted. 

Although he claimed free will--like consciousness--was based on the outdated notion that the mind should be considered separate from the physical brain, he still asserted that free will was a necessary illusion to maintain a stable, functioning society. "We couldn't live the way we do without it," he wrote in From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017). 

Dennett's other works include Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness (1996), Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006), and Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (2013).

A series of interviews with clergy from Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) by Dennett and colleague Linda LaScola became the basis of Marin Gazzaniga's play The Unbelieving, which was staged Off Broadway in 2022. Eight years earlier, Dennett's views on evolutionary biology and religion were the subject of Mind Out of Matter, a 75-minute-long musical composition by Scott Johnson performed in a seven-part concert at a theater in Montclair, N.J. 

Dennett's lectures were often sold-out, the Washington Post wrote, adding: "Consciousness and subjective perceptions--what is called 'qualia,' the awe of a sunrise or the green of greenness--is simply the brain at work, he told audiences. To believe otherwise is 'profoundly naive and anti-scientific,' he said in a 2013 interview."

Dennett also observed: "I'm a robot, and you're a robot, but that doesn't make us any less dignified or wonderful or lovable or responsible for our actions. Why does our dignity depend on our being scientifically inexplicable?''


Notes

Image of the Day: Philip Eil at the Norwich Bookstore

Philip Eil, author of Prescription for Pain: How a Once-Promising Doctor Became the "Pill Mill Killer", is pictured with his editor Chip Fleischer at a recent event at The Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt., which is just across the Connecticut River from the Steerforth Press office in New Hampshire.

Cool Idea of the Day: WORD Bookstores

WORD bookstores, with locations in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., posted on Instagram: "Calling all Swifties and Bey stans! To celebrate the release of #CowboyCarter and #TheTorturedPoetsDepartment this Saturday, we are hiding four cutouts around each store for YOU to find! Come in this Saturday and search the store for your chance to receive a complimentary Little Golden Book of your respective cutout/icon/musical legend. Good luck! Hint: Taylor will be hiding among other tortured poets, while Bey will be riding with the cowboys."


Bookseller Moment: Kindred & Co.

"Your third place. Not your work, not your home, not your school--but a place where kindred souls connect, and new friends are always welcome," Kindred & Co. bookstore, Post Falls, Idaho, posted on Instagram. 


Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Karen Masnica has been promoted to director of marketing and publicity, Sourcebooks Fire.

BrocheAroe Fabian has been promoted to senior marketing manager.

Edward Ho has been promoted to senior performance marketing analyst, Callisto.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ari Berman on Fresh Air

Today:
Good Morning America: Emily Henry, author of Funny Story (Berkley, $29, 9780593441282).

CBS Mornings: April Simpkins, co-author of By the Time You Read This: The Space between Cheslie's Smile and Mental Illness--Her Story in Her Own Words (Forefront Books, $26, 9781637633007). She will also appear tomorrow on Tamron Hall.

Also on CBS Mornings: Matthew Hussey, author of Love Life: How to Raise Your Standards, Find Your Person, and Live Happily (No Matter What) (Harper, $28.99, 9780063294387).

Fresh Air: Ari Berman, author of Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People--and the Fight to Resist It (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30, 9780374600211).

The Talk: Tabitha Brown, author of I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free (Morrow, $29.99, 9780063286115).

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

Tamron Hall: Zibby Owens, author of Blank: A Novel (Little A, $16.99, 9781662516702).

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Susan Page, author of The Rulebreaker: The Life and Times of Barbara Walters (Simon & Schuster, $30.99, 9781982197926).

Good Morning America: Danielle Steel, author of Only the Brave: A Novel (Delacorte, $29, 9780593498439).

Also on GMA: Adam Rubin and Liniers, author and illustrator of The Truth About the Couch (Putnam, $19.99, 9780593619131).

Live with Kelly and Mark: Carleigh Bodrug, author of PlantYou: Scrappy Cooking: 140+ Plant-Based Zero-Waste Recipes That Are Good for You, Your Wallet, and the Planet (Hachette Go, $32, 9780306832420).

The View: Tamron Hall, author of Watch Where They Hide: A Jordan Manning Novel (Morrow, $29, 9780063037083).


On Stage: Crazy Rich Asians the Musical

Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures is developing a musical adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, the 2018 hit film based on Kevin Kwan's 2013 novel. Playbill reported that Jon M. Chu, who directed the film, will make his stage debut directing the musical. A world premiere date has not been announced, though the producers promise that a pre-Broadway engagement is in the works.

Crazy Rich Asians the musical will feature a score by Tony-nominated composer Helen Park (KPOP), a book by Leah Nanako Winkler (Schmigadoon!), and lyrics by Tony-nominated songwriter Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody) and Singaporean songwriter Tat Tong. 

Casting has not been announced, "though it should be noted that Crazy Rich Asians film star Constance Wu recently sang Off-Broadway in Little Shop of Horrors," Playbill noted. 



Books & Authors

Awards: Jhalak Shortlists

Shortlists have been selected for the 2024 Jhalak Prize and Jhalak Children's & YA Prize, celebrating "books by writers of colour in Britain and Ireland." Winners, each of whom receive £1,000 (about $1,245), will be announced May 30.

The shortlist for the Jhalak Prize:
A Flat Place by Noreen Masud
Anansi's Gold: The Man Who Swindled the World by Yepoka Yeebo
Boundary Road by Ami Rao
Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
Self-Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant
Twelve Words for Moss by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

The shortlist for the Jhalak Children's & YA Prize:
Geoffrey Gets the Jitters by Nadia Shireen
How to Die Famous by Benjamin Dean
Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan
Steady for This by Nathaneal Lessore
To the Other Side by Erika Meza
Wild Song by Candy Gourlay


Book Review

Review: The Future Was Color

The Future Was Color by Patrick Nathan (Counterpoint, $26 hardcover, 224p., 9781640096240, June 4, 2024)

The Lavender Scare looms over the events portrayed in Patrick Nathan's exquisite second novel, The Future Was Color, like one of those unspeakable horrors that Hollywood screenwriter George Curtis conjures to threaten the lives of ordinary, freedom-loving Americans in his cheaply made science fiction flicks. Most notable for a film called Death from Above!, George lives a meek existence in the summer of 1956, humbly tapping out new scripts in a sweltering office that he shares with two or three others, depending on who "either quit or disappeared or got blacklisted" in the stifling era of McCarthyism.

Privately, however, George is a quiet sort of renegade. A Hungarian immigrant to the United States, he has witnessed the rise of fascism and the cost of war. He longs to write something of greater political consequence than the black-and-white movies that studios lace with their pro-war propaganda. He also longs for the touch of his colleague, Jack Turner, an impulse George redirects toward a youthful theater attendant. When friend and actress Madeline Morrison invites George to be a writer in residence at her Malibu estate, the opportunities for greater fulfillment begin to unfurl before him...

Nathan (Image Control; Some Hell) writes with the eloquence of a nimble mind working at the height of his powers. Gripping from the first sentence--"We want to burn, to be disintegrated, to watch our creations... bludgeoned and brained, thrown, crushed, but above all burned"--The Future Was Color braves the atomic era with a canny allegiance to human tenderness and connection. George's story is one of resilience, whose stirring legacy becomes evident in its evocative re-telling by the novel's first-person narrator, a companion made much later in life.

The sun reflecting on "the afternoon water was a molten, searing gold." A phallus was "like a roll of wheaty dough warmed up in the heat of one's hands." In short: "Was it any wonder... that so many of them had come to prefer color for color's sake?"

Nathan's Hollywood is sure to dazzle any readers who were captivated by Anthony Marra's Mercury Pictures Presents. Profound, life-affirming, and splendidly seductive, The Future Was Color deserves to become a new lodestar in the ever-expanding constellation of gay literature. --Dave Wheeler, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: The dazzling Hollywood setting of Patrick Nathan's life-affirming second novel pales in comparison to the vibrant legacy of one lowly screenwriter who quietly defies expectations in the McCarthy era.


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