Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 26, 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: Indiana Censorship Law; Harry Potter in Academe

One of the stranger censorship laws we've heard about, signed into law last week by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, requires mainstream bookstores in the Hoosier State to register with the government if they sell "sexually explicit materials." As is often the case with these kinds of laws, "sexually explicit" is defined so broadly as to apply to mainstream novels, work with any kind of sexual content and educational books about sexuality and sexual health.

One of the bill's sponsors told the Indianapolis Star that the law is aimed at "helping counties that do not have zoning ordinances track businesses selling sexually explicit material, including videos, magazines and books," especially adult stores that open along interstates in the southern part of the state. And a spokesperson for the governor told the Star that the law applies only to new businesses, those that relocate or businesses that begin offering "sexually explicit" material after the law goes into effect.

But many booksellers and legal experts disagree. "This lumps us in with businesses that sell things that you can't even mention in a family newspaper," Ernie Ford, owner of Fine Print Book Store in Greencastle, said in the Star.

In a statement, ABFFE president Chris Finan said, "It is un-American to force booksellers to register with the government based on the kinds of books they carry. It is also unconstitutional, and we intend to do everything we can to challenge this violation of the First Amendment rights of Indiana booksellers and their customers."

The Great Lakes Booksellers Association, 15 independent bookstores and Borders Group sent a letter to the governor before he signed the bill. But a statement from the governor's office indicated that he had not received the letter and that "no complaints were brought to our attention."

Now the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is asking the Media Coalition to challenge the new law.


We hear that several people in marketing and buying, including Patsy Jones, senior v-p of merchandising, were let go recently from American Wholesale Book Company, Books-A-Million's book wholesale and distribution company.


Earnings interest. In 2006, Senator Barack Obama received nearly $507,000 in royalties from The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father, according to CNN, which looked at tax returns filed by the Senator and his wife that were posted on his campaign's website yesterday. In 2005, he earned more than $1.2 million in royalties. 


Harry Potter and the hallowed halls of academe. reported that J.K. Rowling's series is becoming a popular staple of college classrooms: "Drawing on their expertise in theology, children's literature, globalization studies and even the history of witchcraft, professors have been able to use Harry Potter to attract crowds of students eager to take on a disciplined study of the books."

Danielle Tumminio, the instructor for Yale's Harry Potter course, "Christian Theology and Harry Potter," said, "It was a struggle for me as I put the class together, because I knew if I didn't construct this really well . . . that a lot of what I was doing would be missed or misconstrued. I certainly didn't want to come across as someone trying to indoctrinate my students. I also wanted to make it clear that it was a critical endeavor, and that it wasn't . . . that you'd sit around all day talking about how great Luna Lovegood was."


From the Square Books, Oxford, Miss., newsletter:

"We are all atwitter at the upcoming marriage of two of our favorite people--Cody Morrison, the store's book buyer and all-around book expert, and Katie Snodgrass, former manager of and inspiration for Square Books, Jr."



Effective April 21, John Tagler joins the Association of American Publishers as v-p and executive director of the professional and scholarly publishing division. He will work in the AAP's New York office and succeeds Barbara Meredith, who retired last year.

Tagler had a 30-year career at Elsevier, beginning as a library sales rep and most recently v-p, customer marketing, academic and government libraries.


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

Page & Palette's Colorful Year

Page & Palette has been a fixture in Fairhope, Ala., for four decades--a milestone the store is celebrating this year. "We're lucky enough to be in a place that embraces businesses like this one," said Karin Wilson, who purchased the book and art supply store from her grandmother in 1997. "People see the value it has in the community."

The exact date Page & Palette opened its doors to Fairhope residents in 1968 is unknown. "No one can remember," said Wilson. As a result, she has decided to celebrate the store's anniversary on August 5, the day she too turns 40 (as does her twin sister, who owns a frame shop next door to Page & Palette).

Wilson has created an anniversary logo with the tagline "Forty years at the heart of Fairhope," and festivities will take place throughout the year. One of those events will occur in conjunction with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) trade show in late September, which is being held in Mobile, near Fairhope. In a twist of serendipity Wilson has assumed the role of SIBA's president. "None of it was planned," commented Wilson. "It all just lined up perfectly."

The fête will be part fundraiser for SIBA, with ticket sales benefiting the organization, and part celebration for Page & Palette, which will sell books. "My goal is for publishers to send big-name authors who we know will get people to turn out," Wilson said. "They can back that up with an up-and-coming author they want to push, kind of like a concert with an opening act." Both Wilson and SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell hope the bash will become an annual fundraiser for the organization, with a different store hosting each time in conjunction with the trade show.  

Also on the calendar this year is Page & Palette's "Dancing in the Streets" extravaganza, which "will be a big party for us," Wilson said. The annual event takes place the Saturday before Halloween and benefits the Page & Palette Foundation, which Wilson launched three years ago. The store hosts several fundraisers each year, and to date more than $140,000 has been donated to local educational and charitable organizations. "The foundation is nonprofit, but it's a business for fundraising and complements the store," said Wilson. "To me it's another way that bookstores can be important in the community."

Since taking ownership of Page & Palette, Wilson has grown the business to include a coffee shop called "Latte Da," a children's section, art classes, stationery and an inspirational area dubbed "The Living Room." The ground floor of the two-story building houses 5,000 square feet of retail space, and a 3,000-sq.-ft. upper level has a reading room and space for art classes. "Books are a little over half our business," Wilson noted. "We're pretty well diversified with other things."

Although Wilson began helping out at Page & Palette at age 10, she never intended to follow in her grandmother's footsteps. It wasn't until she was living in Colorado years later and expecting her first child that the longing to return to Fairhope--and the family business--took hold. "I had absolutely no desire to go into this business growing up," said Wilson, "but it all worked out."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Page & Palette is located at 32 South Section St., Fairhope, Ala. 36532; 251-928-5295;


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ding Dong!

This morning on the Morning Show with Mike & Juliet: Cindy Pierce and Edie Thys Morgan, authors of Finding the Doorbell: Sexual Satisfaction for the Long Haul (Nomad Press, $14.95, 9780979226854/0979226856).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Pico Iyer, author of The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (Knopf, $24, 9780307267603/0307267601).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Brian Fagan, author of The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (Bloomsbury Press, $26.95, 9781596913929/1596913924).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Don Van Ryn, author of Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope (Howard Books, $21.99, 9781416567356/1416567356).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: William T. Vollmann, author of Riding Toward Everywhere (Ecco, $26.95, 9780061256752/0061256757). As the show put it: "William Vollmann decided to spend as much time as possible viewing the stars from the flatbed of a moving train. He's a 'fauxbo' not a hobo, and he movingly describes his need to find freedom by hopping a train--without any destination in mind."


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: James Gustave Speth, author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (Yale University Press, $28, 9780300136111/0300136110).


Tomorrow on WNYC's Leonard Leopate Show: Susan Choi, author of A Person of Interest (Viking, $24.95, 9780670018468/0670018465).


Tomorrow on the View: Helen Mirren, author of In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures (Atria, $35, 9781416567608/1416567607). She will also appear today on the Charlie Rose Show.


Tomorrow on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a repeat: Senator Arlen Specter, author of Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95, 9780312383060/0312383061).


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

Book Review

Book Review: The Man Who Made Lists

Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus by Joshua Kendall (Putnam Adult, $25.95 Hardcover, 9780399154621, March 2008)

It's tempting to sprinkle a review of this impressive biography of Peter Mark Roget with an assortment of obscure words, if only to demonstrate one's acquaintance with his creation--a work that occupies a prominent place on the shelf of every professional writer. Resisting that urge, it's sufficient to say that Joshua Kendall's book provides a deeply satisfying glimpse into the life of a fascinating man who made contributions to human knowledge far beyond the volume that bears his name.

Roget completed the first draft of his Thesaurus in 1805 at age 26 but did not publish the first edition until 1852. By the time he died in 1869, the book had been through 28 editions; over time, it has sold some 40 million copies. From the mere 15,000 words of the original draft, it has ballooned to 375,000 words in one 2002 edition. Much more than a catalogue of synonyms, as it's commonly viewed, the book instead reflects Roget's ambitious attempt to classify all knowledge into six broad categories, from "Space" to "Matter" to "Intellect."

Kendall effectively portrays Roget as a man at the center of much of the fertile medical and scientific life of the 19th century. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, an accomplished medical lecturer and a participant in many experiments with British scientific luminaries. He even wrote a survey of physiology cited by authors as diverse as Emerson and Poe.

It's also startling to learn that Roget invented the slide rule scale that until recently enabled generations of math and science students to find powers and the square roots of numbers. He produced a scientific paper on the functioning of the retina that led to the development of early moving picture machines. And the hair-raising tale of his escape from Switzerland in 1803, barely eluding capture by Napoleon's army, is a thrilling adventure story.

As impressive as was his professional life, Roget was dogged by family tragedy. His father died when the boy was four years old, both his mother and sister experienced bouts of depression and mental illness and an uncle who was a prominent politician committed suicide. For Roget, Kendall concludes, the dogged list-making that produced the Thesaurus allowed him to maintain his sanity in the face of the emotional turmoil around him.

The Man Who Made Lists is an example of popular biography at its best--thorough and yet readable, entertaining and informative. In a word--outstanding.--Harvey Freedenberg

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