Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 4, 2008

Del Rey Books: The Violence by Delilah S Dawson

Wednesday Books: Omens Bite: Sisters of Salem by P C Cast and Kristin Cast

Sterling Children's Books: Mango All the Time (Mango Delight, 3) by Fracaswell Hyman

Margaret Ferguson Books: Worser by Jennifer Ziegler

Blue Box Press: The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4) by Jennifer L Armentrout

Hogarth Press: Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso


Notes: Holiday Sales; Newspaper Adds Book Coverage

Holiday sales at independent bookstores polled by Bookselling This Week ranged from up to down to flat. "But if there was one trend among those reporting an increase in sales, it was customers' heightened awareness regarding the importance of shopping locally," BTW added.


Also check out ABA COO Oren Teicher's account of working at Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle, Wash., four days last month, also in BTW. His sojourn continues an annual tradition of ABA staff getting into the trenches with frontline booksellers at the height of the season.


George MacDonald Fraser, author of the Flashman series, died on Wednesday at the age 82. The dozen Flashman books pretended to be the memoirs of General Sir Harry Flashman edited by Fraser. The Telegraph wrote, "This device allowed Fraser to pilot Flashman through a picaresque series of encounters with some of the choicest episodes of Victorian history."

Or, as the Independent put it, "The Flashman series is based on the bully character of Thomas Hughes' Victorian classic Tom Brown's Schooldays grown up and serving as an officer in the Army, fighting, drinking and womanising his way around the British Empire."


Bucking a trend among daily newspapers, the New Orleans Times-Picayune is expanding coverage of books, beginning with its Friday, January 11, issue. Appearing each week on the cover of Friday's Living section, the Reading Life will feature expanded coverage of books and the New Orleans literary scene, expanded bestseller lists and new features devoted to book clubs, reading groups and literary movers and shakers.

The paper wrote:

"Our expanded books coverage is built on a belief that a great many of our readers have a rich and varied reading life, beyond the newspaper. And while some national statistics seem to suggest that reading is on the decline, others make a different case."

It added: "Our area supports an array of lively literary festivals, high-profile visitors, strong creative writing programs and new and antiquarian bookstores, including local independent booksellers that are increasingly rare nationally. And New Orleans' rich literary history also continues to generate, attract and develop a host of talented writers, many of whom use the city and the state as the settings for their tales."


Sidney, British Columbia, is "Canada's bookstore capital," according to the Toronto Globe & Mail, which profiled this town of 12,000 people that boasts nine bookshops.

For more than a decade, bookseller Clive Tanner "has been encouraging booksellers to set up in Sidney, offering to scout locations, even helping with startup inventory. He expects at least one new bookstore to open this year, but his goal is to have 25 bookshops lining the seaside community's short commercial strip." 


USA Today offers a "Winter Books Preview," complete with an interactive, page-turning, bespectacled snowman.

"We haven't seen a strong season like this in a long time," said Carol Fitzgerald of "Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah really resonated with me." 


"I knew this was something I wanted to do, and that it would be fun, but I didn't know how much I would become attached to the customers, and what a joy it would be," Cyndie Kalina, the relatively new owner of Once Upon A Story, Long Beach, Callif., told the Grunion Gazette.

Kalina, who took over the children's bookshop one year ago, added, "It's important to support independent bookstores in the city, so that people can have a unique shopping experience, so that they don't disappear."


Still searching for a novel New Year's resolution? With the "audiobook diet," the Guardian suggested that you can cancel your gym membership and listen your way to literary fitness.


"Bookstore's absence leaves hole in heart of Old Town" was the headline in the Desert Sun for an article about Peppertree Bookstore's short-lived La Quinta, Calif., location, which opened and closed in a six-month period last year.

"I am so unhappy they closed," said Julia Edwards of La Quinta Healing Arts. "We need a bookstore. People who come in are disappointed there's no longer a bookstore."


Soho Press is adding a new imprint, Soho Constable, which will focus on mysteries originated in England by Constable & Robinson. Some of these authors were formerly published in the U.S. by Carroll & Graf.

The first season of 11 titles will be published beginning in April and include a range of mysteries. Authors include Barbara Cleverly, R.T. Raichev and Roberta Kray. The line will expand in future seasons.


Atheneum Books: Room for Everyone by Naaz Khan, illustrated by Mercè López

Brian Baxter Day: Honoring a Veteran Bookseller

The Pioneer Press offers a tribute to Brian Baxter, who is retiring at the end of the month after 30 years as a bookseller. He has owned Baxter's Books, been a book buyer for the B. Dalton Bookseller chain and most recently worked at Birchbark Books in South Minneapolis, Minn.

Birchbark, which is owned by author Louise Erdrich, is hosting a Brian Baxter Day tomorrow. Erdrich told the Press: "Brian is treasured. He rescued my store when it looked like we were going down the tubes." He will continue to consult for the store, as needed.

Baxter said he plans to train for an Ironman bicycle endurance race in April, write "what he thinks might be a memoir" and continue gourmet cooking.

The paper wrote: "Baxter inherited his love of reading from his mother, the late actress Whitney Blake, who encouraged him to read books such as Lysistrata because she thought he was spending too much time with comics. (His sister is actress Meredith Baxter.)

"He was a lonely, dyslexic teenager living in California's Hollywood Hills when he found his way to books and selling.

"'At the bottom of our hill was a Pickwick Book Shop,' he recalled. 'Sitting in the middle of this store at a desk was a guy who everybody asked questions of, and he had all the answers. I wanted that job, and I wanted that desk. At the age of 22, I had them. I was a reorder buyer for Pickwick, which was then a small chain.'"

After Dalton bought Pickwick, he moved to its headquarters in Minneapolis and worked for many years for the legendary Kay Sexton. When Barnes & Noble bought Dalton and moved it to New York, he set up his own store.

His advice about bookselling: "I would tell someone who wants to open a bookstore that they are not going to make money," he told the paper. "But you will feel so fulfilled when a customer comes back and says, 'That was just the right book,' or a kid asks for 'more books like that.' You have an effect on the world when you give someone a book that makes them better, makes them know something more. That's what all human beings want."


University of Minnesota Press: We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World edited by Carolyn Holbrook and David Mura

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Diets, Discussions, Hope

This morning on the Today Show: Chantel Hobbs, author of Never Say Diet: Make Five Decisions and Break the Fat Habit for Good (WaterBrook Press, $19.99, 9781400074495/1400074495).

Also on the Today Show: Steven Pratt, co-author of SuperFoods Rx Diet: Lose Weight With the Power of Supernutients (Rodale, $25.95, 9781594867408/1594867402).


This morning on the Early Show: Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal, matchmaker and TV journalist respectively, as well as a married couple and authors of Why Hasn't He Called?: How Guys Really Think & How to Get the Right One Interested In You (McGraw-Hill, $16.95, 9780071546096/007154609X). They will also appear on the Morning Show with Mike & Juliet.

Today on Ellen, in a repeat: Jenna Bush, a First Daughter and author of Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780061379086/0061379085).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Penguin, $21.95, 9781594201455/1594201455).


Tonight on Larry King Live: Dr. Creflo A. Dollar, whose new book is 8 Steps to Create the Life You Want: The Anatomy of a Successful Life (FaithWords, $19.99, 9780446580700/0446580708).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Alex Roy, author of The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World (HarperEntertainment, $25.95, 9780061227936/0061227935).


Tomorrow on Weekend Today: Dr. Jorge Chavarro, co-author of The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation & Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant (McGraw-Hill, $24.95, 9780071494793/0071494790).


On Sunday on NBC's Weekend Today: Christopher V. Flett, author of What Men Don't Tell Women About Business: Opening Up the Heavily Guarded Alpha Male Playbook (Wiley, $22.95, 9780470145081/0470145080).


Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Penguin Random House is matching donations up to a total of $15,000!

Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: Jeffrey Hantover

Jeffrey Hantover's first novel, The Jewel Trader of Pegu ($21.95, 9780061252709/0061252700), has just been published by William Morrow. Hantover has traveled a winding career path from sociologist to social service executive to art critic to labor rights consultant to writer, where he plans to stay. He lives with his wife in New York City. Visit him online at Here we ask him questions we put to people in the book business:

On your nightstand now:

Irène Némirovsky's Fire in the Blood and Zbigniew Herbert: The Collected Poems 1956-1998. Herbert's alter-ego Mr. Cogito slices through all political blather and personal denial, and I can't wait to read more of Némirovsky after Suite Française.
Favorite book when you were a child:

Jules Verne's Mysterious Island--more for N. C. Wyeth's illustrations than the story.

Your top five authors:

George Eliot, Walker Percy, Michael Chabon, Stephen Dunn, Stanley Elkin.

Book you've faked reading:

I grow silent when my wife and daughter go on about Jane Austen in front of friends.
Book you are an evangelist for:

Walker Percy's The Second Coming. Serious ideas about what it means to be human and the power of redemptive love handled with humor and tenderness.
Book you've bought for the cover:

I was 14 or 15 twirling the book display at the local drugstore. A boy in a strange hat who the cover copy said goes underground in New York for three days. Trapped in the subway--that sounded exciting. Turned out to be The Catcher in the Rye.

Book that changed your life:

Airman's Odyssey, St. Exupery's hardcover trilogy of Wind, Sand and Stars, Night Flight and Flight to Arras that I bought for $1.75 at a Berkeley used bookstore in 1965.  
Favorite line from a book:

"I spent my life like there was a hole in my pocket, and the meaning of life is to live long enough to find something out or to do something well. It ain't just to put up with it."--Stanley Elkin's George Mills.

Book you have re-read:

I don't usually do this, but as soon as I finished them I re-read Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader and Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Everything there is to know about life and the human condition--if I had read it when I was younger, I could have saved four years of graduate school in sociology.  


Book Review

Mandahla: Confessions of a Carb Queen

Confessions of a Carb Queen: The Lies You Tell Others & the Lies You Tell Yourself; A Memoir by Susan Blech (Rodale Press, $15.95 Paperback, 9781594867767, December 2007)

Resolution time. We talk big, but in reality, changes usually need to be done in baby steps. Fix the environment, stop global warming? Start driving 55 mph and turning the water off while brushing your teeth. Lose weight? It takes time and effort and small changes of choosing and attitude. The big change is the desire for transformation.

In 2003, Susan Blech took a huge step to lose weight after she cracked the scales at 468 lbs., by moving to Durham, N.C., to participate in the Rice Diet Program; once there, however, she discovered that changing her life became a series of small decisions, small victories, backsliding, perseverance and a one-day-at-a-time attitude. In Confessions of a Carb Queen, she chronicles her two years in Durham, her struggles with food, with family and with men. She also writes (with her sister) about how she became morbidly obese. In college, she was an obsessive body-builder. Before that, she lived with her father and three siblings, her mother having been institutionalized after a stroke when Susan was one-and-a-half. The usual suspects abound: lack of self-esteem, loss of a parent, the other parent not so nurturing, stemming the loss with food, hiding within the fat--we've heard it before, but not perhaps with the wit, immediacy and honesty that Blech brings to her story. "The embarrassments of obesity are small, never-ending and soul-burning." People glance at her with "that blink of disgust," seatbelts don't fit, she can't sit in a booth in a restaurant, men like her but won't be seen with her. And the sheer loneliness of eating the way she does brings its own sorrows.

Driving to dinner with a friend, she's anxious and needs the chips--"Crunchy, salty--a half-bag of saving grace"--under the front seat, where she hides the evidence of her eating. She vows again to start dieting Monday. After an abstemious dinner of Chilean sea bass and vegetables, she drives home, planning her next courses at McDonald's: a fish sandwich, with extra extra tartar sauce and cheese; a burger, with extra extra cheese and fries (while saying "supersize for both of us," although she's alone); nine cookies instead of 18 because it's late; and diet soda. She starts eating immediately, finishing while parked in front of her apartment. "The faster I eat, the better. I will feel better is the point."

She finally realizes that she has to close the hole in her soul another way. When she gets to Durham, after bingeing for a week, she's unable to get out of her car; she understands that this is her last chance, and if she doesn't heave herself out, she'll die. As she loses weight, astonishing things occur, like relearning how to walk, not waddle. Setbacks happen, like birthday dinner with her family, where she binges on cookies and chips and salsa. She thinks, "I am nothing." But she finally comes to believe that she is something and someone who is proud to be herself. Look past the sparkly pink cover and discover Susan Blech's unsparing, heroic and big-hearted story.--Marilyn Dahl



A Hit, No Runs and an Error

The title of We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson, reviewed in yesterday's issue, comes from a quotation by Rube Foster, rather than Rube Wilson.

Our apologies.


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