Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 23, 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.

Editors' Note

Ocean's Godori by Elaine U. Cho

We at Shelf Awareness are extremely proud of associate editor Elaine U. Cho, whose debut novel, Ocean's Godori, is being published today by Hillman Grad Books/Zando.

Ocean's Godori is an Indie Next Pick and an Indies Introduce selection. For Indies Introduce, Stephanie Skees at The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo., wrote this about Ocean's Godori: "Taking everything you love about the genre and crafting it into her own wholly original story, Cho has burst onto the sci-fi scene with this story of a Korean space pilot navigating murder, love, and tech politics. As you're immersed into a journey that explores the themes of colonialism, familial duty and racial identity, you will find yourself endlessly rooting for these characters."

Indies Introduce also published a great q&a about the book between Elaine and Devon Overley, Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio.

As we noted in our own review, "Beneath her inviting, absorbing writing are interrogating levels of introspection--confronting what-ifs, choices, and consequences. Cho showcases a narrative agility, rare in debut authors, dexterously providing various paths of engagement: audiences can choose to quickly consume Ocean's Godori as pop entertainment; others might respond more deeply, examining the novel's intricately intertwined cultural, historical, and philosophical layers."

Congratulations, Elaine!

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Leviathan Bookstore Making IBD Debut in St. Louis, Mo.

On April 27, veteran booksellers James Crossley and Amanda Clark will unveil their new bookstore, Leviathan Bookstore.

While they plan to open a permanent bricks-and-mortar location in St. Louis, Mo., before the end of 2024, Leviathan Bookstore will make its debut as a pop-up shop within Dunaway Books, a rare, used, and out-of-print bookstore located near Tower Grove Park that has been in business since 1965.

The Leviathan pop-up will encompass about 250 square feet within Dunaway Books and feature a "representation" of what Crossley and Clark plan to offer. Leviathan will sell all-new books for all ages, with a "little bit of everything for every taste," with Crossley noting that, personally, he likes "a lot of small press, translated fiction," and other titles that are "a little off the beaten path." He remarked that the plan is to be very "book forward," with minimal sidelines.

The pop-up will run through at least the end of the summer, and Clark and Crossley have a book cart trailer they plan to bring to farmers' markets and other destinations around St. Louis. They've talked with the Dunaway Books team about using their space for events, and they're up for doing off-site events as well.

James Crossley and Amanda Clark

In the meantime, the pair will be looking for a storefront to call their own. Asked if they were looking in any particular neighborhoods, Crossley said they were "open to everything," but being in the city itself has "the most appeal." He noted that there's a "city-county divide" in St. Louis that "once you're on the ground, you feel conscious of all the time," and they want to be in "the heart of the city."

On the subject of the store's name, Crossley explained that they liked it because of the "strong literary connections" as well as its connection to local history. In the early 19th century, a man named Albert Koch opened a museum in St. Louis featuring something called the Missouri Leviathan. Purported to be the remains of a truly massive prehistoric mammal, it turned out to be a work of fiction, with scientists eventually coming to the conclusion that Koch had "jammed multiple mastodon skeletons together."

Despite "this minor error in judgment," the pair wrote, "Koch is an inspiration for the scope of his vision, his eagerness to please the public, and yes, his chutzpah. That's why we're rolling up our sleeves, using what we find, and creating something we know will be truly grand...."

Together, Crossley and Clark have decades of experience in bookselling. Clark was a frontline bookseller and events and marketing manager for the Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, Mo., before founding a tour company called Renegade STL and becoming a public historian and tours manager for the Missouri Historical Society. Crossley, meanwhile, began his bookselling career in Seattle, Wash., more than 20 years ago and most recently was the founding manager at Madison Books.

The pair met in 2018 while attending BookExpo, and what began with "trading bookselling tips" turned into a "cross-country relationship." Over the course of many visits, Crossley "got to really like St. Louis the city," and he became acquainted with Dunaway Books first as a customer.

Clark recalled stopping by Dunaway one evening to discuss the plans for Leviathan Books with Dunaway's owners Claudia Brodie and Kevin Twellman. When she and Crossley mentioned they were interested in launching as a pop-up before opening a permanent bricks-and-mortar location, "Claudia and Kevin immediately jumped in with what the next step would be, and it wasn’t long before the four of us had planned Leviathan's pop-up grand opening on April 27."

The IBD celebration, which will feature live music and refreshments from 5-7 p.m., will mark not only Leviathan's debut but also Dunaway's anniversary.

Crossley called St. Louis a "good bookstore town" with "room for more," and with Leviathan Bookstore, he and Clark hope to "make it an even better bookstore town." --Alex Mutter

Secret World Books Coming to Highland Park, Ill.

Secret World Books, a new and used bookstore and hobby shop, is scheduled to open at 1774 2nd Street, Highland Park, Ill., on Independent Bookstore Day. The Record reported that co-owners Gayle and Michael Brandeis named the store after a story she wrote, "The Secret World," while a student at Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston.

"Secret World is meaningful in that way," Gayle Brandeis said. "And I also feel that each book holds a secret world inside of it and each person holds a secret world. And the store can be a place to explore those secret worlds."

Secret World Books in progress.

She called the bookstore a dream come true--though she didn't think the dream would be realized so soon, noting: "The opportunity arose out of the blue. The perfect space opened up in downtown Highland Park. The dream is coming true way earlier than we could have anticipated. Our intentions were for down the road, but we are really excited."

An essayist, poet and educator who released her first novel, Self Storage (Ballantine), in 2007, Brandeis has published eight more books, including her latest work, Drawing Breath: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Loss (Overcup Press).

The co-owners moved to Highland Park in 2022. Michael Brandeis had begun collecting comics for an eventual retail venture, but the couple jumped at the opportunity when 1774 2nd St. opened up.

Gayle Brandeis noted that they loved the built-in bookshelves and the building's mid-century style, adding: "The store feels like it could be annexed to our house. It's even the same stone. It feels like it was meant to be in that way."

She said Secret World's inventory will likely be used books to start, while they acquire new titles (the store is currently selling through The books "will lean literary in style with a focus on diverse and underrepresented voices and small presses, as well as products from local authors and artisans," Brandeis said. 

They will have a comics and hobby section, including tabletop games, headed by Michael Brandeis. Secret World will also host community events, including writing workshops, book clubs, and gaming nights.

B&N Opening New Orleans Store Tomorrow

Barnes & Noble will open a new bookstore with a café tomorrow, April 24, in the Elmwood Shopping Center at 1200 S. Clearview Parkway, New Orleans, La. The grand opening features a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Walter Isaacson, who will also sign copies of his latest book, Elon Musk (Simon & Schuster).

"This will be the first Barnes & Noble to open in New Orleans in over 20 years," said B&N CEO James Daunt. "We are so pleased to bring this beautiful new Barnes & Noble to the neighborhood, complete with a B&N Café, and look forward to becoming a hub for readers in this community."

Drag Story Hour's Jonathan Hamilt on Bomb Threats, Safety Tips

Around the country, growing numbers of independent booksellers are finding themselves the targets of anti-LGBT harassment, with bomb threats proving to be an increasingly common tactic.

In recent weeks, Loyalty Bookstores in Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, N.Y., and Mosaics in Provo, Utah, have all been targets of bomb threats related to drag storytime programming. Sadly, they are not alone, and the numbers only continue to rise.

Per the nonprofit Drag Story Hour, there were nine documented incidents of bomb threats targeting official DSH events in 2023. In 2024, there have already been at least 12 such incidents, with the number growing almost every weekend.

DSH executive director Jonathan Hamilt noted that bomb threats represent only a small fraction of the harassment directed at LGBT communities and LGBT-inclusive gatherings. In 2023, there were more than 60 documented cases of harassment targeting DSH or adjacent programming; the figure more than doubles when including anti-drag incidents in general.

Hamilt called it "deeply disturbing" that adults are choosing to incite violence and intimidate children, parents, and storytellers at family-oriented events while claiming to want to protect children.

Despite what the public perception may be, Hamilt continued, Drag Story Hour is "not scrambling." The organization is nearly 10 years old and its efforts are "very organized." Anti-LGBT harassment is nothing new, though sometimes it takes different forms, and the organization is "working on getting through this."

(photo courtesy Drag Story Hour)

To that end, Hamilt offered some advice to booksellers looking to host drag storytime events (whether directly affiliated with DSH or not), or events featuring guests or performers from any vulnerable group. He also advised reaching out to, saying, "We have best practices that we don't want to gatekeep."

When it comes to advertising drag events, or any event that might be similarly targeted for harassment, Hamilt emphasized that typically, most harassment comes from parties who are not local and often not even in the same state. Keeping event advertisements in-store and off the Internet can go a long way in cutting down on attacks: "If you don't need to put it on social media, don't."

It is also important to "be on the same page with everyone when law enforcement is involved." In the event of protestors appearing at the store, calling law enforcement may not be necessary or, depending on the circumstances, even desirable. In the event of a bomb threat, Hamilt said, "law enforcement will show up or need to be called," and there should be a plan in place.

Bookstores should also consider "who are you putting up front" when dealing with law enforcement or protestors. Instead of putting the most vulnerable staff members, whether queer, trans, or from a historically marginalized background, in the most exposed position, put the "cis, white allies in front."

On the subject of allies, Hamilt brought up the various ally and defender groups that sometimes offer to help at events. Making sure they're all on the same page as the store is essential, as sometimes these groups can be confrontational, combative, and prone to escalate situations. "These are children's events," Hamilt said. "We don't scream back. We de-escalate."

Hamilt pointed out that it is also worth being clear about terminology. People often use the term hate crime in the vernacular, but "there is a strict, lawful definition," and hateful speech doesn't equate to a hate crime. Keeping documentation of any harassment, as well as any communication with law enforcement, is valuable too.

Drag Story Hour is working with the Southern Poverty Law Center on a report detailing anti-LGBT harassment, and Hamilt said DSH will be at Children's Institute in New Orleans, La., in June. The organization will host an interactive workshop that will include discussions of floor plans of fictitious bookstores, employee capacities, de-escalation plans, and more. He reiterated that the information from these sessions "could go for anything, not just drag events." --Alex Mutter


Happy 35th Birthday, McIntyre's Books!

Congratulations to McIntyre's Books at Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, N.C., which will celebrate its 35th anniversary this coming Saturday, Independent Bookstore Day.

In honor of both its birthday and IBD, McIntyre's Books will donate 35 cents from every book sold that day to Chatham Reads, a local organization that promotes literacy and reading to all county residents. Special events include an outdoor storytime at 10:30 a.m. with Johanna Banana and Billy Sugarfix; a reading at 11 a.m. by Brian Panowich from his latest novel, Nothing but the Bones (Minotaur Books); and giveaways every hour of bags packed with books and McIntyre's merchandise. The store will also offer anniversary cookies made by the Fearrington House.

Founder Keebe Fitch said, "At the heart of McIntyre's Books is its people--the readers, authors, and our truly amazing team. We're a dedicated group of readers and handsellers. Between Pete, Johanna, Sarah, Beth and myself, we bring over 135 years of combined bookselling experience to help our readers find that perfect volume. McIntyre's Books thrives not just because of one person but because of our beloved community of book enthusiasts. We are invested here for the long haul."

Image of the Day: Bookworks Launch for D.J. Green

D.J. Green, a bookseller and partner at Bookworks Bookstore in Albuquerque, N.Mex., launched her debut novel, No More Empty Spaces (She Writes Press), at the store. Pictured: Bookworks staffers (l.-r., first row) Emily Bratkovic, co-owner and managing partner Nancy Guin, D.J. Green, co-owner and managing partner Shannon Guinn-Collins; (back row) Robert Flippo, Aly Bratkovic, Nancy Stender, Rome Puente.

Bookseller Cat: RIP Otis at Loganberry Books


"It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our beloved shop cat, Otis," Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio, posted recently on Instagram. "He found us as a loud, scrawny kitten, enjoyed exploring all reaches of the store, greeted customers with cordial aplomb, loved children and enjoyed joining them in play. In short, he was a feline bookseller non pareil. He made national news when he retired in 2022. He died 04/07/2024 from complications of diabetes/pancreatitis/kidney failure, and he will be missed by so many.

"Because Otis was a dedicated bookstore employee, we have chosen @thinkingbinc as a worthy donation recipient for those who wish to commemorate his life. Please honor booksellers with a contribution in tribute to Otis. He'll mew extra special loudly just for you. To donate scan QR or use the link in our bio!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jim Sciutto on the View

Today Show: Emily P. Freeman, author of How to Walk into a Room: The Art of Knowing When to Stay and When to Walk Away (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780063328822).

Also on Today: Holly Gramazio, author of The Husbands: A Novel (Doubleday, $29, 9780385550611).

Good Morning America: Newt Nguyen, author of Newt: A Cookbook for All (Harvest, $30, 9780063304772).

CBS Mornings: Deesha Dyer, author of Undiplomatic: How My Attitude Created the Best Kind of Trouble (Legacy Lit, $29, 9781538741696).

The View: Jim Sciutto, author of The Return of Great Powers: Russia, China, and the Next World War (Dutton, $30, 9780593474136).

Movies: City on Fire

Sony's 3000 Pictures has hired Justin Kuritzkes (Challengers) to adapt City on Fire, the first of a bestselling novel trilogy by Don Winslow that is being developed as a star vehicle for Austin Butler. Deadline reported that Butler is producing along with David Heyman of Heyday Films and Shane Salerno of The Story Factory. 3000's Elizabeth Gabler and Marisa Paiva are overseeing the City on Fire project for the studio, and Drew Reed was instrumental in tracking the book series.  

Winslow's trilogy, which also includes City of Dreams and City in Ruins, "is a modern retelling of the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid and Greek tragic dramas set in the world of contemporary crime," Deadline wrote. "Kuritzkes will start at the beginning, a struggle between two criminal empires--one Irish, the other Italian--that control all of New England, until a modern-day Helen of Troy tears them apart and starts a brutal war. Butler will play the main character, Danny Ryan, who is forced to grow from a street soldier into a ruthlessly efficient leader to protect his friends, his family and the home he loves. Fighting the Mafia, the local cops, the feds--everyone--Danny is determined to build a dynasty or will die trying."

Books & Authors

Awards: Griffin Poetry Shortlists

The Griffin Trust has released a shortlist for the Griffin Poetry Prize, which aims "to raise the profile of poets and poetry in Canada, and internationally, for works written in, or translated into, English." The winner, who will be named June 5, receives C$130,000 (about US$94,670), while the other finalists will each be awarded C$10,000 (about US$7,280). The shortlisted Griffin titles are:

A Crash Course in Molotov Cocktails by Amelia M. Glaser (U.S.)
and Yuliya Ilchuk (Ukraine), translated from the Ukrainian written by Halyna Kruk (Ukraine)
To 2040 by Jorie Graham (U.S.)
School of Instructions by Ishion Hutchinson (Jamaica)
Door by Ann Lauterbach (U.S.)
Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence by George McWhirter (Canada/Northern Ireland), translated from the Spanish written by Homero Aridjis (Mexico)

The Griffin Poetry Prize Readings, to be held in Toronto on June 5, will include readings by the 2024 shortlisted poets; C25,000 (about US$18,205) Lifetime Recognition Award recipient Don McKay; and the C$10,000 (about US$7,280) First Book Prize winner--to be announced on May 29. The event will also feature a recitation by one of the 2024 Finalists of Poetry in Voice/Les voix de la poésie, a Canada-wide school recitation competition.

Reading With... Christi Furnas

Christi Furnas

Christi Furnas is a queer cartoonist, illustrator, oil painter, and disability rights advocate who has exhibited in galleries across Minnesota and in New York City. Her comics reflect her experience with schizophrenia. In 2016, she was awarded an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to start her debut graphic novel, Crazy Like a Fox: Adventures in Schizophrenia. It is available now from Street Noise Books.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

This graphic novel about my coming-of-age with schizophrenia follows Fox Foxerson and uses humor and fun critters to entertain, educate and fight stigma.

On your nightstand now:

This is a trick question for me. My brain works visually. Before I decided to take on writing and drawing a graphic novel, I was an oil painter. I coined my work "figurative expressionism." I have a lot of coffee-table art books. I look at the pictures. I don't collect books on my nightstand because the later in the day it gets, the more symptoms I have. It makes it difficult to focus. Reading is impossible. Having said that, I do have one book next to the bed; Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems. My wife, Ruth, reads it to me on nights when I'm having trouble with hallucinations or paranoia. It helps me focus and makes me laugh every time we read it together.

During the day I'm currently reading the graphic novel anthology Comics for Choice. I'm also revisiting Silence, Full Stop. by Karina Shor. I first read Karina's graphic memoir in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. Now I'm going back to study the illustrations.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I think I really loved the rebellion and freedom that Ralph felt when he jumped on the bike. I also liked reading the noise of the motorcycle out loud. And Choose Your Own Adventure books for obvious reasons.

Your top five authors:

Art Spiegelman, David Sedaris, Roz Chast, Alison Bechdel, Edward Gorey.

Book you've faked reading:

Little House on the Prairie books as a child.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Maus by Art Spiegelman. This should be required reading for everyone, especially people who think graphic novels are beneath them.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. The illustrations are by Ian Falconer. Creepy, lovely, a splash of humor and delicately beautiful.

Book you hid from your parents:

Wifey by Judy Blume. I had read all of her children's books, so puberty suggested that I sneak a peek at her soft dirt novel for grown-ups. And my mom probably knew. She knew everything. And we went to the library since I was an infant, so I would not hesitate to guess that she approved of me reading adult literature like Wifey.

Book that changed your life:

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I thought that as long as I could capture thoughts with illustrations I might fancy myself a poet someday. Ha! But honestly, as a child I found it really inspiring and entertaining, reading it again and again, as children do. As a young adult, when I was introduced to Maus, it gripped me. I didn't understand the impact it had until much later.

Favorite line from a book:

"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you." --from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Five books you'll never part with:

1. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
2. My grandmother's Holy Bible. It has her notes in the margin.
3. There's a Monster at the End of This Book by Grover from Sesame Street. I love breaking that wall between reader and the page.
4. We Are on Our Own by Miriam Katin. This is a graphic memoir about her escaping the Nazis with her mother when she was a child. I was in an art exhibit with her in New York City in 2017. I have a lot of admiration for Miriam. What a wonderful human.
5. My wife, Ruth, has a memoir that has yet to be published and I've read a million drafts. It's beautiful and hilarious; it's about us.

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

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. So funny. It had me in tears and I wish I could read it and experience the full belly laughs for the first time.

Book Review

Review: Another North: Essays

Another North by Jennifer Brice (Boreal Books, $17.95 paperback, 240p., 9781597099363, June 25, 2024)

Along with poetry and short stories, extended personal essays occupy a place on any list of underappreciated literary works. In the 12 fresh, candid, and often emotionally resonant pieces that compose Another North: Essays, however, Jennifer Brice reveals how the almost limitless flexibility of the essay makes it such an appealing vehicle for a writer of her skill.
Brice (Unlearning to Fly), who teaches contemporary literature and creative writing at Colgate University, wrote these essays over 25 years, and admits they are arranged solely "in a way that makes intuitive sense to me." As a result, she often circles back to familiar themes, among them family, her romantic life, and how she navigates the world as a woman. Many of the essays draw on her roots in Fairbanks, Alaska, the farthest-north city in North America and the place to which she returned after graduating from Smith College in 1985. It's a locale that for her is "simultaneously home/not home," but one that indisputably has shaped her identity.
Among the most memorable essays in a book that touches on subjects that include cooking, selecting the perfect white T-shirt, and losing things, is "Playing Bridge with Robots." In it, Brice traces the arc of her long friendship with a fellow writer, Sherry, that once was a "fire at which I warmed myself," before it fell, inexplicably, into a silence that lasted 20 years. "I know what it's like, that partial eclipse of the sun. Such a surprise. So chilling." Another standout piece is "My Essay on Flowers and How Things End," a mini-memoir that focuses on Brice's checkered love life. She calls it her "weird abecedarian essay," in which each section begins with the name of a flower in alphabetical order and stands for a different personality trait.
Brice's mother, Carol Ann, is a recurring and consistently fascinating figure. The elder Brice, who grew up in New York as the daughter of a surgeon and his socialite wife, arrived in Alaska to work as a public health nurse. She returned to school for a master's degree that led to a career as a family therapist and a prominent role advocating for the state's families and children, one that earned her a Fairbanks building named in her honor. In 2006, she was diagnosed with dementia, and in several essays Brice touches on how that illness complicated the existing challenges of their relationship.
Anyone who appreciates the work of writers like Rebecca Solnit and Mark Slouka will find a kindred spirit in Jennifer Brice. As revealing as these essays are of her life, readers shouldn't be surprised if they spark meaningful reflections of their own. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer
Shelf Talker: Jennifer Brice surveys aspects of her life in a refreshingly candid collection of personal essays.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Wild Love by Elsie Silver
2. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
3. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
4. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
5. One by One by Freida McFadden
6. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
7. When the Moon Hatched by Sarah A. Parker
8. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
9. The Ritual: A Dark College Romance by Shantel Tessier
10. A Touch of Chaos by Scarlett St. Clair

[Many thanks to!]

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