Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford


Notes: More Faux Memoires; Wordsmiths Squared; Quick Reads

This season's A Million Little Pieces: Margaret B. Jones, the author of Love and Consequences, a memoir of growing up half-white, half-Native American in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child and joining the gang world, is actually, the New York Times reported, "Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in well-to-do Sherman Oaks, in the San Fernando Valley of California, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in North Hollywood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed." So much for truthiness.

Publisher Riverhead is recalling all copies of the book, published last week, and has cancelled the author's tour.

Only last week, Misha Defonseca, who wrote Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, published here in 1997, confessed that rather than having been a small Jewish girl who moved around Europe living with wolves during World War II, "she is not Jewish and spent the war safely in Brussels," according to the Boson Globe.


Wordsmiths Books, Decatur, Ga., which opened in June last year (Shelf Awareness, June 13, 2007), is moving later this month a little more than a block to a building on Decatur Square. The store will close on Tuesday, March 25, and re-open in its new location on Friday, March 28.

In a statement to customers and others, owner Zachary Steele said that the new location "will offer us all the space and room for growth that we will need into the far-reaching future. Additionally, we're nothing shy of a few paces from the very lawn that hosts the Decatur Arts Festival, the Decatur Book Festival, the Beach Party, the Wine Fest, Movies on the Square and a host of many other festive activities that take place on the Square throughout the year."

The store will have a moving party on March 24 that includes the second reading series event, with author Hillary Jordan and music from Wayne Fishell Experiment and Hope for Agoldensummer. There will also be food, drinks, bands and possibly authors on hand.

The store's new address is 545 N. McDonough St., Decatur, Ga. 30030; 404-378-7166;


Quick Reads, a program designed for adults with literacy problems "is improving reading and boosting self-esteem," according to the Guardian. Nine out of 10 of the people who have read the compact titles "told researchers their reading has improved and they feel better about themselves." 

A partnership "between publishers, booksellers, the government, and a range of bodies including the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) and the Trades Union Congress," Quick Reads was launched two years ago. The 10 titles available "include books by bestselling fiction writers Adele Parks, Josephine Cox and Chris Ryan, and autobiographical accounts of winning out against the odds by the rugby player Scott Quinnell, the athlete Colin Jackson, and the master chef Gordon Ramsay."

The books, generally written in the 20,000-word range, "are supposed to consist largely of one- and two-syllable words, short sentences and brief paragraphs. A new "batch of bite-sized books" will be released on World Book Day this Thursday.

[Editors' note: sorry for not summing this up more quickly.]



Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>

B&N: 'Challenging' Year Ahead; Studio Makes Debut

Store sales at Barnes & Noble for the year ended February 2 were $4.6 billion and store sales in the fourth quarter were $1.5 billion. In computing sales gains, B&N excluded "the impact of the extra week during fiscal 2006," making the gain for the quarter 2.8% and for the year 4.3%. B&N will announce full sales and earnings figures on March 20.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.5% in the fourth quarter and rose 1.8% for the year. Using the same previous-year comparison approach, B& sales rose 13.1% to $177 million in the quarter and rose 12.4% to $477 million for the full year.

Consolidated sales were $1.8 billion for the fourth quarter and $5.4 billion for the full year.

Because of two non-operating gains--property insurance and litigation settlements in the company's favor--the company is revising its guidance on earnings for the fourth quarter and full year upwards. Without the settlements, those figures would remain unchanged.


"Recessionary pressures in this uncertain economic environment will make 2008 an especially challenging retail year," B&N also said yesterday. In addition, sales comparisons this year may suffer because of "record-setting" sales of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and "improved hardcover sales, notably Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, which was the best selling non-fiction book and DVD in the company's history."

As a result, B&N said it is "focusing its efforts on managing its expenses and working capital with a realistic view of market conditions, as well as continuing to refine its marketing strategies and grow the Member program to maximize top line growth profitably."

Also, B&N stated it "believes that its strong balance sheet and free cash flow will provide the flexibility to compete effectively in 2008 as well as continue to return value to shareholders through its share repurchase and dividend programs. The company also believes that it is well positioned to take advantage of any upside to its sales forecast should economic conditions or the retail business environment become more positive."

B&N predicted that earnings in 2008 will be the same as 2007. Wall Street reacted swiftly and unhappily. B&N shares fell 4.7% to $26.90 in after-hours trading, and JP Morgan downgraded B&N to underweight from neutral. According to Thomson Financial, Morgan said B&N's prediction that same-stores will be "slightly positively" is "too optimistic" and based "almost entirely" on a fourth-quarter recovery.


Yesterday B&N launched Barnes & Noble Studio, a multimedia area on its website that contains original content about books, readers and writers; showcases web video series and other material about literature; and has contributions from users.

B&N Studio aims to be "the destination for book lovers, a place where readers will go for inspiration and discovery, to view and listen to content and recommend it to other readers who share their literary interests and passions," Mike Skagerlind, v-p and head of digital media for B&, said in a statement. He added that B&N Studio wants to "do for the book what the cooking show did for the recipe."

Skagerlind recently joined the company after spending 12 years at Nickelodeon, most recently as general manager of Nickelodeon Online.

The first two in a series of original productions B&N Studio is offering are Barnes & Noble Tagged! and Book Obsessed. The former is a weekly five-minute show hosted by Molly Pesce, host of shows on Animal Planet and NBC's iVillage Live, with stories about new titles and book news. The show also allows viewers to vote on topics.

Book Obsessed is a weekly, five-minute documentary style series that focuses on passionate readers. The first episode features Laurie Gold of Dallas, Tex., who loves romance novels; the second features Joe Perlman, who has 35,000 books in his New York home; the third features a married couple who met at a mystery novel convention.

B&N Studio also has 16 book channels, each for a genre, that offer B&N videos and audios as well as publisher book videos, author interviews, live performances at B&N stores, readings, book trailers and more. The book channels currently have more than 700 audio and video pieces.


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Media and Movies

Media Heat: More May Pang on John Lennon

This morning on the Today Show: Martin Fletcher, author of Breaking News: A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95, 9780312371180/0312371187). He will also appear tonight on NBC's Nightly News. Fletcher also appears tomorrow on Imus in the Morning and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


This morning on Good Morning America: May Pang, author of Instamatic Karma: Photographs of John Lennon (St. Martin's, $29.95, 9780312377410/031237741X).

Also on GMA: C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers women's basketball team coach and author of Standing Tall: A Memoir of Tragedy and Triumph (Crown, $24.95, 9780307406095/0307406091). She also appears on NPR's News and Notes.


Today on the Rachel Ray Show: Beth Lisick, author of Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061143960/0061143960).


Today on Fresh Air: Jan Egeland, former U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and author of a new memoir, A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity (S&S, $27, 9781416560968/1416560963).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Amy Sutherland, author of What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers (Random House, $18, 9781400066582/1400066581).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Jennifer Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food (Twelve, $24.99, 9780446580076/0446580074).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Michael Farr, author of A Million Is Not Enough: How to Retire with the Money You'll Need (Springboard Press, $24.99, 9780446582230/0446582239).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Robin Wright, author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594201110/1594201110).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Gregory Rodriguez, author of Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780375421587/0375421580).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 11:

Blind Fall: A Novel by Christopher Rice (Scribner, $26, 9780743293990/0743293991) follows a former marine who investigates the murder of his commanding officer.

Another Thing to Fall: A Novel
by Laura Lippman (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061128875/0061128872) is the 10th mystery featuring private investigator Tess Monaghan.

Curse of the Spellmans: A Novel
by Lisa Lutz (S&S, $25, 9781416532415/1416532412) continues the adventures of the Spellman family when they open a private investigation firm.

Deluge: Book Three of the Twins of Petaybee
by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Del Rey, $24, 9780345470065/0345470060) concludes the science fiction trilogy about twins Ronan and Muriel.

Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein (Doubleday, $26, 9780385523974/0385523971) is the 10th legal thriller starring Manhattan assistant district attorney Alex Cooper.

Stori Telling
by Tori Spelling (Simon Spotlight, $24.95, 9781416950738/1416950737) is the memoir of the former Beverly Hills 90210 actress.

Intelligence for Your Life: Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth by John Tesh (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9780849920431/0849920434) conveys practical information from Tesh's weekly radio show.

Stop Whining, Start Living
by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780060838331/0060838337) aims to explain the difference between healthy venting and being stuck in "whining mode."

In paperback next week:

Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share
by Martha Stewart Living Magazine (Clarkson Potter, $24.95, 9780307394545/0307394549).


Awards: Biographer of the Year

John Heilpern, author of John Osborne: The Many Lives of the Angry Young Man (Knopf), was selected as the 2007 Biographer of the Year by the Biographer's Craft, a monthly publication devoted to biographers and biography.

Biographer's Craft editor James McGrath Morris commented: "In writing John Osborne, Heilpern took an enormous chance. He put himself in the story. The result, however, is a deeply engaging and mesmerizing biography that may liberate other biographers to be so daring. Instead of intruding in the biography, Heilpern's presence enhances the narrative and allows the reader to connect with the subject, who by all accounts was a conflicted soul and anything but a nice fellow. John Osborne is a model for writers seeking  to find a fresh way to write a biography."

For more information, which is in the March issue of the newsletter, go to


Book Review

Book Review: The Thing About Life

Thing about Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead by David Shields (Knopf Publishing Group, $23.95 Hardcover, 9780307268044, February 2008)

We're born. We live. We die. What happens to each of us as we race or stumble along that mortal path is the subject of David Shields's quirky, alarming, captivating, ultimately life-affirming new book.

Framed by a mini-memoir of his astonishingly vigorous 96-year-old father, it might be appropriate to think of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead as a sort of GPS to the journey all of us take. Shields, an accomplished freelance journalist and professor of English, stuffs the book with a feast of arcane facts about the aging process, reminding us that the story of life is, irrefutably, one of physical decay. Did you know, for example, that we achieve our actuarial prime of life at age seven, and our risk of dying doubles every eight years thereafter? Or that our bodies begin to weaken after reaching sexual maturity at age 25? There's even an occasional tidbit of helpful advice: If you want to lose weight, the number of calories you consume each day should not exceed 10 times your goal weight.

Shields, age 50, inevitably (and not always favorably) measures himself against his dynamic, maddeningly self-absorbed father--a "survival machine," as he calls him. We learn that Milton, who nearly was electrocuted at the age of nine in the New York subway, has "held more than 50 jobs in journalism and public relations and social welfare, been fired from many of them, been plagued by manic depression for 50 years, been hospitalized and received electroshock therapy countless times, is a genius at loss." Until age 95, he played tennis daily, after surviving a heart attack at the age of 86, when he insisted on finishing a set of doubles before going to the hospital. "He's strong and he's weak," Shields writes, "and I love him and I hate him and I want him to live forever and I want him to die tomorrow."

Without overtly attacking those obsessed with the concept of life extension, Shields subtly undermines their central premise--that the goal of life is to fight for as long as possible our inevitable physical extinction. Instead, he concludes, "The body has no meanings. We bring meanings to it." The Thing About Life will speak most poignantly to Shields's fellow baby boomers, but its lessons, sometimes elusive and often profound, aren't limited to a single generation. This is a book worth pulling down from the shelf for rereading at regular intervals: On one's birthday, perhaps?--Harvey Freedenberg



The Significance of a Single Letter

Oh no. Ojai is the right spelling for the name of the town where Bart's Books, mentioned here yesterday, is located. Our apologies, especially to southern Californians!


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