Also published on this date: Monday May 13, 2024: Maximum Shelf: A Song to Drown Rivers

Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 13, 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.

Quotation of the Day

'These Are Spaces to Be Protected'

"Just because there's not so much of a desperate 'use it or lose it' situation, which was so pertinent during the pandemic, it's still important to keep in people's minds the value of bookshops and all that we do. Because it's not just the bookselling and the transactional element of buying and selling, it's the amount of events that happen in bookshops, something which seems to grow and grow because it's about enhancing a reader's experience around a book; we have a culturally important position. These are spaces to be protected."

--Fleur Sinclair, incoming president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland and owner of owner of Sevenoaks Bookshop, in an interview with the Bookseller

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Wandering Raccoon Books Arriving in Grimes, Iowa, in July

This summer, pop-up bookstore Raccoon River Press will open a bricks-and-mortar store in Grimes, Iowa, and change its name to Wandering Raccoon Books, Axios reported.

Owner Jena Best is aiming to have Wandering Raccoon Books open at 250 West 1st St. in July. She founded Raccoon River Press in 2021 after leaving her previous career in the sciences. "A biologist by training," Best wrote, "I took a leap of faith to leave the laboratory and pursue my passion for all things literary!"

The store sells new titles for all ages across a wide array of genres. The name change, Best explained, is meant to reflect the store's time as a mobile and pop-up bookstore.

Cape Cod Book Festival Making Debut in November

The inaugural Cape Cod Book Festival will be held November 1-3 at the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit, Mass.

Founder and author Lois Cahall is also the founder and director of the Palm Beach [Fla.] Book Festival, which is now in its 10th year. Cahall said, 'The Cape Cod Book Festival promises to be a new cultural footprint in Massachusetts for locals and 'washashore' alike--a magical place where charitable minded readers can rub elbows with great writers and thinkers."

Also on the board of directors is author and Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff, while the board of advisers includes Edith Vonnegut, John Buffalo Mailer, Sebastian Junger, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Imani Perry, Leigh Haber, and Kwame Alexander.

The festival will "explore books that take us on a magical journey--history, mystery, thriller, romance fiction, and nonfiction--written by New York Times bestselling and celebrity authors who tell their stories in dynamic, irresistible voices." Specific authors will be announced Labor Day.

Indigo Shareholders to Vote at Special Meeting May 27 on Taking Company Private

Indigo Books & Music has scheduled a special meeting of shareholders on Monday, May 27, to discuss and vote on the proposal by majority owner Trilogy Investments, Trilogy Retail Holdings, and related shareholders (controlled by founder and CEO Heather Reisman and her husband, Gerald Schwartz) to buy the 39.4% of the company that they don't already own and take the company private. For approval of the deal, at least two-thirds of all Indigo shareholders and 50% of shareholders excluding Trilogy and related shareholders need to vote in favor. A special committee of the Indigo board of directors composed of independent directors has unanimously approved the deal.

In February, Trilogy offered C$2.25 (about US$1.65) a share for the part of the company it doesn't own. Later, it boosted the offer to C$2.50 (US$1.83), which it emphasized was 69% higher than the company's share price of C$1.48 (US$1.08) the day before the purchase announcement.

Obituary Note: Shirley Conran

Shirley Conran, best known for her "notorious domestic manual, Superwoman," and Lace, "the first British success in the then new sex and shopping genre," died on May 9 at the age of 91, the Guardian reported.

Conran, whose first husband was designer and retailer Terence Conran of Conran's and Habitat fame, wrote Superwoman (1975) in "response to a request from a recently divorced male publisher for a household manual," the Guardian observed. "Conran understood that 'men saw housework as a background to life, and women saw it as their responsibility,' and compiled a guide that came out of the postwar era then just ending, when middle-class wives had been required to be clever and sexy while managing a home with almost no help from paid staff, or husbands." The book included the famous line "Life is too short to stuff a mushroom."

Lace, the wildly popular "bonkbuster," appeared in 1982. The Guardian noted that Conran meant Lace to be in part "a sex education manual for girls, certain to be forbidden and therefore eagerly read behind the bike shed. (When it was republished 30 years later, she reinserted the censored word 'masturbation.') For Conran, the shopping mattered even more than the sex, because 'the only thing women are supposed to do with money is spend it, not to make it, talk about it or save it; what counts is money, because it gives you power.' Female rights depended on money, and reliable money on equally paid work. At the least, thought Conran, money 'could make unhappiness more endurable.' " In 1984, Lace was adapted into a miniseries in the U.S. starring Phoebe Cates. In it, she uttered the sentence that TV Guide called the greatest line in TV history: "Which one of you bitches is my mother?"

Conran's other novels included Lace 2 (1985), which was also made into a TV miniseries starring Phoebe Cates, Savages (1987), Crimson (1992), Tiger Eyes (1994), and The Revenge of Mimi Quinn (1998).

Conran had a long journalistic career. She was the first women's editor of the Observer magazine and was women's editor of the Daily Mail, where she created the Femail section, the newspaper's first dedicated women's section. She also wrote columns for Vanity Fair.


Image of the Day: Kaliane Bradley and Fans at Bank Square

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., hosted Kaliane Bradley, author of The Ministry of Time (Avid Reader/S&S)--one of only three in-person bookstore stops for the author in the U.S. Bradley (in blue skirt) is pictured with most of the store's staff, who've read and loved the novel, which is also the May Good Morning America book club pick and #1 Indie Next pick.

Michelle Obama's Stealth Visit to the King’s English

While she was in Salt Lake City, Utah, for an event last week, former First Lady Michelle Obama shared on Instagram: "I'm going to go check out some books, leave some secret signings, and hopefully no one recognizes me, because I have my trusty dusty disguise.... So, let's see how this goes." Clad in a black jacket and leggings, with sunglasses and a baseball cap, Obama strolled into the King's English Bookshop, where she signed copies of the paperback edition of her book The Light We Carry.

According to the Deseret News, "The bookstore's co-owner, Anne Holman, was the only one who knew of the first lady's plans ahead of time.... During her 15-ish minute visit, Obama checked out [silk] robes, signed some copies of her latest book, said hello to some customers, who were fans, got recommendations from one of the booksellers and browsed through the fiction section before making a handful of purchases."

"Got some great reading for my upcoming trips, a beautiful robe. Consider that a very successful adventure," Obama said. "See you next time."


B&N's May Book Club Pick: Real Americans

Barnes & Noble has chosen Real Americans by Rachel Khong (Knopf) as its May national book club pick. In a live virtual event, on Tuesday, June 4, at 3 p.m. Eastern, Khong will be in conversation with Lexie Smyth, category manager for fiction at B&N, and Miwa Messer, executive producer of Poured Over, the B&N podcast.

Smyth commented: "Real Americans is a sweeping narrative spanning three generations of a family across multiple continents. This is a book that asks big questions: what makes us who we are? Is it predetermined, or can it be changed? If you could give your child an advantage, would you? I know that Real Americans will inspire many rich discussions among our Book Club readers. I have been waiting to get this into their hands, and I couldn't be more excited that the time is here."

For more information, click here.

Personnel Changes at Crown

At Crown:

Stephanie Davis has been promoted to brand director.

Brianne Sperber has been promoted to associate marketing director.

Chantelle Walker has been promoted to assistant marketing director.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kathleen Hanna on Fresh Air

Today Show: Poppy Harlow and Laura Jarrett, authors of The Color of Love (Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9780593527108).

CBS Mornings: Harlan Coben, author of Think Twice (Grand Central, $30, 9781538756317).

Fresh Air: Kathleen Hanna, author of Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk (Ecco, $29.99, 9780062825230).

The Talk: Rocco DiSpirito, author of Everyday Delicious: 30 Minute(ish) Home-Cooked Meals Made Simple (Rodale, $32.50, 9781984825230).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Whoopi Goldberg, author of Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me (Blackstone, $28.99, 9798200920235).

The View: George Stephanopoulos, author of The Situation Room: The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis (Grand Central, $35, 9781538740767).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Amor Towles, author of Table for Two: Fictions (Viking, $32, 9780593296370).

Books & Authors

Awards: Minnesota Book Winners; Maine Finalists

The winners of the Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and presented by Education Minnesota, are:

Children's Literature: Beneath by Cori Doerrfeld (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
General Nonfiction: Lessons on the Road to Peace by John Noltner (self-published)
Genre Fiction: Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs (Morrow)
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction: Half-Life of a Secret: Reckoning with a Hidden History by Emily Strasser (University Press of Kentucky)
Middle Grade Literature: Shannon in the Spotlight by Kalena Miller (Delacorte Press)
Emilie Buchwald Award for Minnesota Nonfiction: Making the Carry: The Lives of John and Tchi-Ki-Wis Linklater by Timothy Cochrane (University of Minnesota Press)
Novel & Short Story: A Council of Dolls by Mona Susan Power (Mariner Books)
Poetry: Wail Song: or wading in the water at the end of the world by Chaun Webster (Black Ocean)
Young Adult Literature: The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be by Shannon Gibney (Dutton Books)

Kay Sexton Award: Bao Phi
Book Artist Award: Vesna Kittelson for her painting Letters to AmeriKa


Finalists have been chosen for the 2024 Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Winners will be announced May 30. To see the finalists in 17 categories, click here.

Book Review

Review: Alexander at the End of the World

Alexander at the End of the World: The Forgotten Final Years of Alexander the Great by Rachel Kousser (Mariner, $35 hardcover, 416p., 9780062869685, July 16, 2024)

Classicist Rachel Kousser (The Afterlives of Greek Sculpture) explores the definition of greatness and the power of evolving through failure in Alexander at the End of the World: The Forgotten Final Years of Alexander the Great. This action-heavy, suspenseful biography focuses not on Alexander's early series of wildly successful military victories but rather his turbulent later years, as the young king pushed himself, his army, and his entire empire to the breaking point.

In the summer of 330 BCE, Alexander attained victory over the Persian Empire. He could have returned to his homeland of Macedonia in triumph, or ruled his empire from Persepolis. Instead, "[h]e wanted to reach the literal ends of the earth, to see the Ocean that he believed encircled them." His men were ready to return home after four years away at war, but Alexander chose to continue east. He and his forces moved farther into the Middle East toward India, learning along the way that strategic brilliance would not always guarantee an easy victory. Alexander faced near-mutiny, guerrilla fighters, grievous physical injuries, and punishing weather conditions without losing his thirst for conquest. His life reads like a summer blockbuster, complete with epic battles against cunning foes, death-defying escapes, and opulent celebrations. Death and failure stalked him amid the grandeur; his hubris led him to put his forces in harm's way, with disastrous consequences, and his impulsiveness led him to murder. Alexander's many victories left him with a large fledgling empire to rule, one that now included non-Hellenic cultures. The military genius "had to compromise, to integrate... so that in the empire he had created, the conquered had a stake as well as the conquerors."

Kousser posits that Alexander's brand of imperialism had a different flavor than that of later European empires. He promoted his defeated enemies' subordinates to positions of power within his own bureaucracy and left a legacy that saw integration among the Greeks and the conquered. At the same time, she does not shrink from describing his flaws, mistakes, and brutality. She gives depth to Alexander's army and the lives of the women around him as much as source documents will allow. Her careful deconstruction of his successes and failures at governing backs up her assertion that Alexander's final years are well worthy of notice. Her alchemy of cultural context, political machinations, and heart-stopping fight scenes makes them engrossingly entertaining into the bargain. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This action-rich, thought-provoking biography explores Alexander the Great's ignored final years, his triumphs and failures, and their lessons.

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