Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 24, 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: Police Bookers; Devouring Books

COAS My Bookstore, Las Cruces, N.M., and owner Mike Beckett were profiled by the Sun-News. His father, an archeologist who worked at New Mexico State University, opened the bookshop in 1983.

"He would buy other archeologist's libraries to supplement his own and, at the conferences, out of his van, he'd sell what he didn't need," Mike said. "He eventually opened a little paperback exchange and he retired from the university."

Although the book business isn't making him rich, Mike said it has other rewards. "I've got friends that make a lot of money, but a lot of them really don't like what they do. I miss it when I can't be on the floor all the time."


Get Lost Bookshop, Columbia, Mo., should open by April 1. According to the Columbia Tribune, owner Meghan Gilliss "hopes Get Lost--which will buy, sell and trade--will develop into a cozy place where people can browse a wide selection of used books."

Gilliss told the paper: "I'm hoping to start off really simply and respond to what people want. I hope eventually to have a large magazine selection, but I want to wait. My particular interest is in literature, so I would say that's the strongest selection."


It's never too early to start planning your wedding or adding some new titles to your bookstore's wedding section. The Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger offered a "bouquet of wedding books" with advice ranging from extreme nuptial decorum--"If it's against state law, it's generally considered a breach of etiquette"--to cold, hard statistics--"The average wedding cost close to $28,000 in 2006, an almost 100 percent increase from 1990."


How cops "book'em" in the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Times reported on the "by-the-book" habits of five local police officers, who are also voracious readers.

Adrian Diaz, for example, said that the book that changed his life was The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: "It's more about life and how we perceive and how we deal with things surrounding us. I think it helps in the context of my job, just trying to deal with all the different things we face."

History is his preferred genre. "I have gone back into a lot of the historical Roman type books," he said, "kind of the foundation types of leadership. I read a lot about the Spartans and Troy. Things that happen hundreds of years ago will happen today--it's a circular system."

Two of the five said that To Kill a Mockingbird changed their lives.


Another cool idea of the day: as part of its "grand opening on the square" events, Wordsmiths Books, which is moving several blocks to the main square in Decatur, Ga., is hosting the Fifth Annual Edible Book Fest on Saturday, March 29. (Edible book festivals are an international phenomenon. For more information, click here.) Participants make edible art that has something to do with book shapes or content such as a scene or a character from a book, book covers or book structure. All ingredients must be edible, whether they are chocolate, cheese, vegetables, etc. Judges will select winners in a variety of categories, and prizes awarded. All proceeds will benefit Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta. 


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

Image of the Day: Ready for Another Round

Congratulations to Stanley R. Greenfield, owner and founder of Dial-A-Book, whose Chapter One program makes available book excerpts in digital format that are used by booksellers, libraries, wholesalers, online retailers, bibliographers, search engines and others. Stanley recently won third place in the U.S. Squash Racquets Association's national championship in the 80+ division!





Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gene Wilder on The Woman Who Wouldn't

This morning on the Today Show:

  • Susan Pinker, author of The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap (Scribner, $26, 9780743284707/0743284704).
  • Larry Winget, author of You're Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead (Gotham, $20, 9781592403349/1592403344).


Today Dr. Laura prescribes My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You by Dr. Kevin Leman and Kevin Leman II (Baker Publishing Group, $12.99, 9780800718893/0800718895).


Today on Fresh Air: Meg Wolitzer, whose new novel is The Ten Year Nap (Riverhead, $24.95, 9781594489785/1594489785).


Today on Oprah: Katie Lee Joel, author of The Comfort Table (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $25, 9781416948353/141694835X).


Today on PBS's Newshour with Jim Lehrer: Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart (Anchor, $10.95, 9780385474542/0385474547).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Senator Chuck Hagel, whose new book is America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers (Ecco, $25.95, 9780061436963/0061436968).


Tomorrow on the View: Gene Wilder, author of The Woman Who Wouldn't (St. Martin's, $19.95, 9780312375782/0312375786).


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Suze Orman, whose Road to Wealth (Riverhead, $29.95, 9781594489822/1594489823) was just released in a revised edition.


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

Books & Authors

Awards: Hugo Nominees

The finalists for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer are available online here. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Saturday, August 9, during Denvention 3, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention.

As has been pointed out by several people, including Michael Walsh of Old Earth Books and Johns Hopkins University Press and Ron Hogan at GalleyCat, the most striking of the Hugo nominations is of Michael Chabon for The Yiddish Policeman's Union, which has also been nominated for an Edgar and a Nebula.


Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton (Viking, $22.95, 9780670018543/0670018546). "In creating a delightful romp that is both hilarious and heartwarming, Nancy Atherton has done it again! Lori Shepherd, our intrepid heroine, has to face down the possibility that a vampire-obsessed lunatic is watching her sons. Lori is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, defend her children, and, if there's time, arrange for some romance for her lovelorn friends."--Sara Glassman, Little Professor Book Center, Homewood, Ala.

Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land
by Amy Irvine (North Point, $25, 9780865477032/0865477035). "Irvine takes the reader to a land marked by the confluences of religion and heritage, spirituality and ecology, home and isolation. Her passionate prose is a joy to read, whether she's describing the red rock wilderness of southern Utah or the interior landscapes of home."--Catherine G. Weller, Sam Weller's Books, Salt Lake City, Utah.


Have You Found Her: A Memoir
by Janice Erlbaum (Villard, $14, 9780812974577/0812974573). "Janice Erlbaum's memoir of the two years she spent trying to save the life of a young woman she met at a homeless shelter is as fascinating to read as it is frustrating. Erlbaum becomes a friend, a would-be counselor, pseudo-mother, and true co-dependent as she is pulled between her need for emotional distance and her determination to remain faithful and compassionate."--Laura Hansen, Bookin' It, Little Falls, Minn.

For Middle Readers

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson (Greenwillow Books, $16.99, 9780061214509/0061214507). "Good fun and lots of brainteasers. There's a hero you can cheer for who gets help from an interesting assortment of friends, as honesty is rewarded. What's not to like?"--Julie Leonard, Troubadour Books, Boulder, Colo.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Deeper Understanding

Shelf Talk: Lit Lit to Graphic Lit, Best Book Crossovers

As the graphic novel format becomes more popular in the trade book marketplace, there's no shortage of half-hearted attempts to translate books into comics to make them more "accessible." In truth, the impulse is as old as those "abridged" comics versions of classic novels that were around as early as the 1940s. But good book-to-comic adaptations, of course, don't just put pictures with the dialogue--they use the unique aspects of graphic novels to create an entirely new art work, which can lead to new understandings of both classic and contemporary works of prose. Here are some of my picks for excellent comics created from, inspired by or otherwise connected to their prose counterparts.

City of Glass by Paul Auster, adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli (Picador, $14, 9780312423605/0312423608). This black-and-white, starkly psychedelic comic is the perfect medium to reimagine Auster's meta-meta, self-referential classic from the New York Trilogy. The story of a detective who gets mistaken for Paul Auster and gets more lost the more he finds out, this tale becomes even trippier with the artists' clever manipulations. There's also an introduction by the grand old man of literary comics, Art Spiegelman.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, adapted by Peter Kuper (Three Rivers, $10.99, 9781400052998/1400052998). Past master of alienation Peter Kuper captures both the desperate, sweaty terror and the absurdist humor of Kafka's classic tale of Gregor Samsa's transformation. If you've never been able to picture an oversize, humanoid cockroach, this is a big help.

Moby-Dick: A Pop-Up Book by Herman Melville, adapted by Sam Ita (Sterling, $24.95, 9781402745287/1402745281). On a lighter note but still admirably literary, this is a beautiful multi-genre adaptation: it's a comic book and a pop-up. The story is told in panels around central masterpieces of paper arts by Robert Sabuda-apprentice Sam Ita. The text is pure Melville honed down to the essentials, and the delight of watching the Pequod and the White Whale rise from the page is tempered only by the sobering image of the floating coffin in the final layout.

Shakespeare's Hamlet Manga Edition
by William Shakespeare, adapted by Tintin Pantoja (Wiley, $9.99, 9780470097571/0470097574). [Full disclosure: This review was presented in altered form at BookStream's TitleWave.] Manga isn't my favorite sub-genre of comics, as I'm not the target audience--it's made for teens and tweens. But in an exception to the usual rule, it's surprisingly illuminating just to see the text of Shakespeare's plays while you're also seeing the action. I experienced several weird new insights into Hamlet while reading this one. The artwork is garden-variety manga, but the format helps both teens first figuring out Shakespeare and adults looking for a way back in. The other Manga Shakespeare titles from Wiley, all at $9.99, offer similarly de-familiarizing experiences, especially the manga-natural teen romance of Romeo and Juliet:

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Manga Edition (9780470097588/0470097582)
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Manga Edition (9780470097601/0470097604)
Shakespeare's Macbeth Manga Edition (9780470097595/0470097590)

Beowulf, adapted by Chris Ryall and Gabriel Rodriguez (Idea & Design Works, $17.99, 1600101283/9781600101281) and Beowulf, adapted by Gareth Hinds (Candlewick, $11.99, 9780763630232/0763630233). The Old English epic Beowulf has recently received a couple of well-done graphic treatments, which is quite logical since Beowulf may be our first superhero. The Ryall/Rodriguez adaptation is itself adapted from Neil Gaiman's animated screenplay version and rewrites the epic from behind the scenes, imagining Beowulf as a more compromised hero. It's very postmodern (and there's some sex), but tightly plotted and satisfying. Gareth Hinds' version sticks to the original text (lettered in Gothic script) but really shines in the wordless action sequences, and his Grendel is truly scary. Both shed new light on the original: Hinds explores visceral, physical heroism and terror, while Gaiman & Co. probe the political and interpersonal subtleties of the tale.

The Salon by Nick Bertozzi (St. Martin's Griffin, $19.95, 9780312354855/0312354851/) and The Left Bank Gang by Jason (Fantagraphics, $12.95, 9781560977421/1560977426). Not literary adaptations per se, these two highly enjoyable and clever graphic novels are nevertheless inspired by literature: to be precise, the literary scene in Paris in the 1920s. Bertozzi's dual-tone romp puts Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso and others at the center of a supernatural mystery involving absinthe and a means for getting inside paintings. (Do read this one before recommending; the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund went to bat for a Georgia bookseller when he was prosecuted for selling this comic to a child, as it contains several scenes of a naked Mr. Picasso.) Beloved Norwegian cartoonist Jason reimagines Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound and others as struggling comics writers in an alternate version of the famous scene and then gets wacky as the writers decide a bank heist is the only way to make ends meet. Both are great starting places for a discussion of a moment in literary history.

The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Volume 1, various artists (Dark Horse, $17.95, 9781593071714/159307171X)
The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Volume 2, various artists (Dark Horse, $17.95, 9781593071721/1593071728)
The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Volume 3, various artists (Dark Horse, $14.95, 9781593074920/1593074921)
The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan with various artists (Dark Horse, $19.95, 9781593078317/1593078315)

O.K., wrap your head around this one. The indisputable masterpiece of fiction about comic books is Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Picador, $15, 9780312282998/0312282990); his tale of a European immigrant and a pugnacious Brooklynite who find fame with their creation of a comics character called the Escapist captures the energy, passions and limitations of the "Golden Age" of superhero comics in the 1940s. In a strange meta-twist, the imaginary (prose) comics hero has since become a real (comics) comics hero, as great writers and artists have written graphic stories featuring the Escapist and the other characters from Kavalier and Clay's world. Amazing Adventures volumes 1-3 are collections of stand-alone stories from luminaries including Mike Mignola, Dean Haspiel, Will Eisner and Eddie Campbell, ranging from gothic to goofy. The Escapists is Brian K. Vaughan's brilliant sequel to Chabon's book, a full-length graphic novel starring a group of indie comics artists who reinvent the Escapist character and become targets of a big comics company who wants to buy them out. It's a whole world springing out of Chabon's inspired prose concept: that comics are, in the best sense, escapist fiction.

Hope you enjoy these book-inspired comics. If you know some I've missed or have comments or questions about those I've included, feel free to e-mail me. Happy reading!--Jessica Stockton Bagnulo



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