Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Random House Graphic: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha

Wednesday Books: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Houghton Mifflin: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Quotation of the Day

The Appeal of Graphic Novels

"The next-gen reader has a different expectation when it comes to receiving information. It has to be interesting and it has to compete with the Internet and cell phones. There isn't a lot of patience for books that require a lot of work to get through. As adults we don't have patience for poorly written books. Why should we expect our kids to do the same?"--John Shableski, sales manager, Diamond Book Distributors, in a Q&A in Bargain Book News about graphic novels.


GLOW: Other Press: Serenade for Nadia by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely


Notes: Random Novel Free Online for Three Days

In another publisher experiment making material available at no cost on the Internet, Random House began offering the entire text of Beautiful Children, Charles Bock's debut novel, for free online as of 12:01 this morning until midnight on Friday, Leap Day. Readers will be able to share, e-mail or print the text, which is available as a PDF download at In cooperation with Random,, B&, and are making the file available to their customers.

Beautiful Children, which first appeared in primitive print form at the end of January, concerns the effect of the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy in Las Vegas on his parents and others.

Incidentally last week, Random House Audio announced that it will no longer require that retailers use digital right management (DRM) when selling audiobooks via digital download. The company decided, it said, "that this move will allow for healthy competition among retailers targeting the iPod consumer, without posing any substantive increase in risk of piracy." Still Random can use DRM for authors who want it. 


Author Nora Roberts, and her husband, Bruce Wilder, who runs Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe, plan to rebuild the hotel in Boonsboro, Md., that they were renovating and that burned to the ground last week, the Herald-Mail reported. They are also seeking to give aid to families whose apartments were destroyed or damaged in the blaze.


End of a gritty era: the New Yorker helps Farrar, Straus & Giroux pack for the move from its storied, spartan offices on Union Square in New York City to 18 W. 18th St., in Macmillan Publishers space above the Books of Wonder bookstore.

As far back as we remember, FSG owners reveled in a kind of reverse-snobbism about their digs--and were probably saddened when Union Square and the area around it spruced up.


After a three-year run, the curtains are closing on the Quill Book Awards, founded by Reed Business in an attempt to create an Oscars-style awards for the book world--with all its attendant media attention, TV coverage and trade magazine advertising. Last Thursday, parent company Reed Elsevier put Reed Business up for sale.


Reporting on location from the Rosetta Stone Bookstore, Carbondale, Ill., which sells new, used and rare books, WSIL-TV covered the imminent closing of the 15-year-old bookshop.


What is the novel 1984 about?

  • A) Destruction of the human race by nuclear war
  • B) Dictatorship in which every citizen was watched in order to stamp out all individuality
  • C) Invasion and ultimate takeover of Earth by creatures from outer space
  • D) Man who went back in time and changed history

If B was your response, congratulations (and you can keep your bookselling job). You rank among the 52% of high school students who answered that question correctly for a study released by the American Enterprise Institute. According to USA Today, the report noted that students "still lack important historical and cultural underpinnings of 'a complete education.' And, its authors fear, the nation's current focus on improving basic reading and math skills in elementary school might only make matters worse, giving short shrift to the humanities--even if children can read and do math. . . . In all, students earned a C in history and an F in literature."


Christopher T. Smith has been named director of sales of Spring Arbor Distributors, the Christian distributor arm of Ingram Book Group. Before joining Ingram last year as sales manager, Smith was a national director of sales at Sony BMG Music Entertainment and executive director of special markets and new media for Word Entertainment.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger

Cool Idea of the Day: Brazos Bookstore Field Trip

Sam Houston State University professor Dr. Scott Kaukonen recently took his English 383 Practicum in Publishing class on a field trip to "a shining jewel of literary charm and opportunity"--Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.--"for a lecture on the importance of independent bookstores in America," according to the Houstonian.

In addition to hearing from Jane Moser, manager of Brazos, the students attended a reading by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun, and Dave Eggers, author of What Is the What. The Houstonian called the field trip "a remarkable opportunity for students in SHSU's creative writing department to learn more about writing, literary journals, the importance of independent bookstores in the American economy and the ability to see renowned and emerging writers in American literature."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Deep by Alma Katsu

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marianne Williamson on Oprah

This morning on the Today Show: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time (Free Press, $26, 9781416568186/1416568182).


This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features two interviews:

  • Gary Moore, author of Playing with the Enemy: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, and a Field of Broken Dreams (Savas Beatie, $29.95, 9781932714241/1932714243)
  • Jon Provost, author of Timmy's in the Well: The Jon Provost Story (Cumberland House Publishing, $26.95, 9781581826197/1581826192)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


Today on Howard Stern and PRI's Fair Game: comedian Robert Schimmel, author of Cancer on $5 a Day* *Chemo Not Included: How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $22, 9780738211589/0738211583). Tomorrow night Schimmel will be on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.


Today on Oprah: John Wood, author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children (Collins, $15.95, 9780061121081/0061121088).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Andrew Bridge talks about his memoir, Hope's Boy (Hyperion, $22.95, 9781401303228/1401303226), the story of his childhood spent in abusive foster care situations. 


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Laurent Tourondel, author of Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking (Wiley, $34.95, 9780471758839/0471758833).

Also on the Today Show tomorrow: Tudor Parfitt, author of The Lost Ark of the Covenant: Solving the 2,500 Year Old Mystery of the Fabled Biblical Ark (HarperOne, $25.95, 9780061371035/0061371033).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Dee Dee Myers, author of Why Women Should Rule the World (Harper, $24.95, 9780061140402/0061140406).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Marianne Williamson, author of The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife (Hay House, $22.95, 9781401917197/1401917194).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Eileen Myles, author of Sorry, Tree (Wave Books, $14, 9781933517209/1933517204), and Maggie Nelson, author of Something Bright, Then Holes (Soft Skull Press, $15.95, 9781933368801/1933368802) and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions (University of Iowa Press, $42.50, 9781587296154/1587296152).

As the show described it: "Critic David Lehman has called the New York School of Poetry 'the Last Avant Garde.' Poet and critic Maggie Nelson suggests it might better be considered 'one of the first gay avant gardes,' since its original members included Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery and James Schuyler. We examine the role of women in the New York School: Barbara Guest, Alice Notley, Bernadette Mayer and Eileen Myles. How did these women pave the way for today's women poets, who, like Maggie Nelson, are conscious of gender and its effects on poetry?"


Books & Authors

Image of the Day: Smokin' Book Party

Wildland firefighters team with Sandi Ault at her red hot launch party for Wild Inferno, her second mystery novel, just published by Berkley Prime Crime. The party, sponsored by MacDonald Bookshop of Estes Park, Colo., and the Wild Inferno Incident Management Team (a cadre of nationally-qualified wildland fire managers and firefighters), included a booksigning and an actual conflagration put out by the assembled firefighters. Guests were treated to the experience of arriving at wildland fire camp, complete with fire equipment and apparatus as well as demonstrations of wildland firefighting tools and crews, and a visit to the firecamp chow hall for edibles and potables.

Photo by Kasia Broussalian

Attainment: More Books Out Next Week

Appearing next Tuesday, March 4:

Fear and Yoga in New Jersey
by Debra Galant (St. Martin's, $23.95, 9780312367251/0312367252) features a stressed-out yoga teacher who is dealing with a variety of storms. This March Book Sense pick is from the author of Rattled who is the former New Jersey columnist for the New York Times and co-owner of

Awakening the Entrepreneur Within: How Ordinary People Can Create Extraordinary Companies by Michael E. Gerber (HarperBusiness, $24.95, 9780061568145/0061568147) is by the small business guru and founder of In the Dreaming Room.


Book Review

Book Review: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer Lee (Twelve, $24.99 Hardcover, 9780446580076, March 2008)

Every so often, an obsession can lead to a big payoff. This is certainly true of debut author Jennifer 8. Lee, a New York Times reporter and an "ABC" (American-born Chinese), whose fascination with fortune cookies led her to write this engaging and informative cultural history of Chinese restaurant food in the U.S. Lee (whose middle initial signifies "prosperity" in Chinese) began her research in 2005, when an unusually large group of Powerball winners were revealed to have gotten their lucky numbers from fortune cookies that they'd received in Chinese restaurants across the country. Finding a quirky appeal in the phenomenon, Lee decided to trace fortune cookies back to their origin and soon found herself on a quest that encompassed Chinese restaurants in 42 states and several countries.

Although the food itself is central, Lee trains her focus on the unusual blend of culture, history and custom that make up American Chinese restaurants, individually owned eateries that outnumber McDonald's, Burger King and KFC combined in the U.S. Unfolding her journey much like a Chinese menu, Lee takes several lively and enlightening sidetracks as she follows the fortune cookie trail. For example, she credits the introduction of chop suey, a dish that did not exist in China, as the beginning of American enthusiasm for this "exotic" cuisine and researches the evolution of Chinese take-out. In a similar vein, she offers a short biography of General Tso whose eponymous chicken dish is unknown in his native land and deconstructs the elements of soy sauce at the world's largest producer. In a chapter titled "Why Chow Mein is the Chosen Food of the Chosen People," Lee examines the close relationship between Jews and Chinese food, including a quick review of Jewish dietary laws and a very funny anecdote involving kosher ducks. In more serious but no less spirited sections, Lee examines questions of national identity and the immigrant experience as seen through the eyes of several Chinese restaurant workers and journeys across six continents looking for the best Chinese restaurant in the world.
Ultimately she arrives again at the fortune cookie (not, as it turns out, a Chinese invention) and realizes that her search for the meaning within it has led to a greater understanding of her own culturally mixed identity. Both witty and charming, Lee's book is also surprisingly wise--every bit the treat one finds at the bottom of those familiar take-out containers.--Debra Ginsberg


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