Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 2, 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


Judge Overturns Indiana Bookstore Registration Law

A new Indiana law requiring bookstores and other retailers to register with the state and pay a $250 fee if they sell "sexually explicit" material was thrown out Tuesday--the day it was to take effect--by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker.

According to the Associated Press (via the Indianapolis Star), Barker found the law "too broad and said it could be applied against 'unquestionably lawful, nonobscene, nonpornographic materials being sold to adults.'"

In her ruling, the judge, appointed by President Reagan, wrote, ''A romance novel sold at a drugstore, a magazine offering sex advice in a grocery store checkout line, an R-rated DVD sold by a video rental shop, a collection of old Playboy magazines sold by a widow at a garage sale . . . would appear to necessitate registration under the statute." The judge's opinion is available online.

Chris Finan, president of ABFFE, called the deicsion "a resounding victory for the First Amendment rights of booksellers and their customers."

ABFFE, the Great Lakes Booksellers Association, Big Hats Books of Indianapolis, Boxcar Books and Community Center of Bloomington were among plaintiffs in the suit, filed in May (Shelf Awareness, May 7, 2008). They argued that the law would have a chilling effect on the sale of constitutionally protected works. As ABFFE noted, "To avoid being labeled an 'adult' store, retailers would have been forced to suppress the sale of almost all works with sexual content." The plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement for attorneys' fees. The state has 30 days to appeal.

The AP reported that Elizabeth Houghton Barden, owner of Big Hat Books, "said she and her fellow plaintiffs did not want to see lingerie shops opening up next to candy stores, but that was a matter for zoning boards."

''Any time we engage in censorship, we've lost our right to free expression,'' she added.


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

Notes: Out-of-Towners Sink Local Hero; S&S & Chicken Soup

Sadly Local Hero Books, Gifts & Wine-Tasting, Ojai, Calif., is closing this Saturday, July 5, exactly six years after owner Elio Zarmati bought Ojai Table of Contents bookstore and, a few days later, Local Hero, which he later merged.

In a piece he wrote about the closing for the Ojai Valley News, Zarmati said the downturn in sales was not because of local customers, who "have been stellar in their support and so have our local authors who have appeared at our events faithfully." Instead the problem is a drop in tourist traffic. "In the last few years, retail businesses in Ojai have experienced a steady decline," he wrote. "Blame it on the war, the price of gasoline and the cost of living. As Ojai revenues diminished, our City Council in its wisdom shut down the Visitors Bureau, reducing our promotional funds to zero, a penny-wise pound-foolish decision which has dealt a death blow to many of Ojai's retail merchants. It certainly was the coup de grâce for Local Hero."

Local Hero will be replaced by the Casa Barranca Wine-Tasting Room and Zhena's Gypsy Tea, which Zarmati described as "two homegrown businesses which employ local people, feature premium Ojai-made products and will help enhance our economy. My association with Bill Moses started a long time ago when I sought to add his wonderful organic Casa Barranca wines to the Local Hero wine menu, and Zhena Musyka was the manager of Local Hero when she was dreaming of creating over 160 blends of premiums teas--so it is karmic justice that they would pick up the torch and keep the Ojai spirit alive. They will carry a limited line of books for old time's sake."

Zarmati is the publisher of the Ojai Book and Your Wedding Day magazine and is developing "a new national monthly health publication based in Los Angeles."


The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has introduced a new design for the FREADOM gift card that states on it that the participating bookseller is contributing 10% of the value of the card to defending the freedom to read. ABFFE president Chris Finan said the change was made because "we want to make sure that customers know that they are contributing directly to the fight for free speech." Since its launch two years ago, the FREADOM cards have raised more than $20,000 for ABFFE.

For a look at the new design, click here. For more information about the card and to order them, go to The deadline for ordering in time to receive cards for Banned Books Week (September 27-October 4) is July 14.


The Valley Voice profiled Otter Creek Used Book Store, Middlebury, Vt., which is owned by Barbara and Rusty Harding. "Used books are my personality, open it up and know other eyes have been on the pages," Barbara said. "To own a used book store is amazing. I like it when people come in and give me feedback. I feel like customers have taken some ownership of the store."


Harry Potter goes for the green. Books from J.K. Rowling's series may be the priciest recyclables on the market. The Guardian reported that "hectic bidding from around the world . . . saw a Berkshire auction house sell a complete set of Harry Potter first editions for £17,800 [US$35,449]."

Adding to the HP collectible mystique is the fact that these books "were not 'true' first editions, but firsts in Bloomsbury's 'deluxe' range, which the publisher only began printing in 1999 after the Potter spell was already widespread."


"Ask a child what makes a children's book appealing, and she might say, 'It is weird and happy!'" noted, which consulted three kids for their reviews of 10 summer reads.


Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has picked The Condition by Jennifer Haigh (Harper, $25.95, 9780060755782/0060755784), whose pub date was yesterday, as her July pick. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she writes:

"As a big fan of [Haigh's] previous novels, I wasn't surprised to be bowled over by The Condition. The moment I turned the last page, I knew I'd revisit the McKotch family sometime soon--steeping myself in their lives. Much like a film you want to rewatch to catch things missed the first time, this novel is so rich and detailed that I'm sure I'm not the only one who will reread it and love it just as much the second time around."


Effective immediately, Simon & Schuster is handling all new book sales and distribution of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing to bookstores, mass merchants, warehouse clubs, wholesalers and other retail outlets.

In a statement, S&S executive v-p, sales and marketing, Michael Selleck said that S&S will "work very closely with [Chicken Soup for the Soul] to grow their business in all of our channels."

Robert D. Jacobs, Chicken Soup for the Soul president and COO, said that the company will "support Simon & Schuster's work with tens of millions of targeted media impressions every month through our extensive cross promotion program."

Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher Amy L. Newmark added that the publisher has "updated the Chicken Soup for the Soul line with a fresh new look inside and outside, topical titles, and 101 up-to-date stories in every book, all at a great low price."

Since 1992, Chicken Soup for the Soul has sold more than 112 million books in more than 40 languages. 


Effective yesterday, Mary Bisbee-Beek has become publicity and foreign rights director for the Literary Ventures Fund. She was formerly trade marketing manager, publicity and foreign rights director, at the University of Michigan Press. She may be reached at

Literary Ventures Fund is a not-for-profit private foundation that serves as a primary "partner-in-risk" with authors and publishers in advancing works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Parsing Robert Frost's Inner Life

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Christopher Hopkins, author of Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 (Health Communications, $22.95, 9780757306341/0757306349).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Brian Hall, author of Fall of Frost (Viking, $25.95, 9780670018666/067001866X). As the show put it: "Brian Hall takes on a very difficult task: a fictional life of our great poet Robert Frost. Hall wants to write the 'life story of the poems,' so he goes deeply into the consciousness of the poet. Here, we hear how Hall gives language to Frost's inner life."


Friday morning, Independence Day, on the Today Show: John Siceloff, author of Your America: Democracy's Local Heroes (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9780230605336/0230605338).

Robyn Moreno, author of Practically Posh: The Smart Girls' Guide to a Glam Life (Collins, $18.95, 9780061349461/0061349461), will also appear.


On Sunday on NPR's All Things Considered: Martin Atkins, author of Tour:Smart (Soluble, $29.95, 9780979731303/0979731305).


Sunday night on 60 Minutes: Douglas J. Feith, author of War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism (Harper, $27.95, 9780060899738/0060899735).


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

This Weekend on Book TV: Katha Pollitt Live

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this holiday weekend from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Friday, July 4

6 p.m. For an event hosted by the Bookworm Bookstore, Omaha, Neb., Jeff Shaara, author of The Steel Wave: A Novel of World War II (Ballantine, $28, 9780345461421/0345461428), talks about his fictionalized account of D-Day. (Re-airs Saturday at 1 a.m.) 

7 p.m. Walter Borneman, author of Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America (Random House, $30, 9781400065608/1400065607), recounts the tenure of President James K. Polk (1845-1849). (Re-airs Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 2 a.m.)

Saturday, July 5

2 p.m. Arthur Herman, author of Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age (Bantam, $30, 9780553804638/0553804634), discusses the contrasting roles these two legendary figures played in the future of India. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:15 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1994, M. Stanton Evans, author of The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition (Regnery, $18.95, 9780895267184/0895267187), argued that common beliefs about the origins of our country, institutions and freedoms are incorrect and are the product of a "liberal history lesson."

10 p.m. After Words. Washington Times correspondent Rowan Scarborough interviews J. Phillip London, co-author of Our Good Name: A Company's Fight to Defend Its Honor and Get the Truth Told About Abu Ghraib (Regnery, $29.95, 9781596985391/1596985399). London, former CEO and current chairman of the board of CACI, discusses accusations of wrongdoing made against his company. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m. and 7 a.m., and Sunday, July 13, at 12 p.m.)

11 p.m. Kevin Phillips, author of Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (Viking, $25.95, 9780670019076/0670019070), takes a critical look at the U.S.'s economic policies and the financial institutions that dominate the economy. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 a.m.)

Sunday, July 6

12 p.m. In Depth. Katha Pollitt, whose most recent book is Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories (Random House, $22.95, 9781400063321/1400063329), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or e-mailing questions to (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and Saturday, July 12, at 9 a.m.)


Book Review

Mandahla: Reading the OED

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea (Perigee Books, $21.95 Hardcover, 9780399533983, August 2008)

Ammon Shea, collector of words and word books, is not a lexicographer, but he is crazy about words. He knows that his pleasure in reading dictionaries is "inherently Sisyphean" but deems it endlessly satisfying. He had put off reading the Oxford English Dictionary because it was intimidating even to him, and if he read it, he wouldn't have it to look forward to. But he finally capitulated and has created an OED sampler of words he thinks people would like to know about without having to read the OED to find them. Delightful words like all-overish and pot-fury, mothersome and mumpish (not what you'd think), interdespise and fedity.

Each letter of the alphabet is introduced with information about dictionaries in general, dictionary history and Shea's thoughts about his task. Reading the OED is not a straightforward process: "Later in C I discover that Colubriad is defined simply as 'the epic of a snake.' I had no idea that snakes were so advanced that they had gotten around to composing epics, and wonder if they will soon move on to doggerel poetry." Looking further, he sees that this is a title of a work by Cowper, but doesn't have the time to investigate. One morning he wakes up realizing that he knew the difference between Jacobean, Jacobian, Jacobin and Jacobine and is waiting for just the right inappropriate moment to drop that into the conversation.

Herewith, a few choice words:

Conspue (v.) To spit on someone or something with contempt.

I have not yet found any word that defines the action of spitting on someone or something for some other reason other than contempt (can you spit on someone out of friendship, admiration?), and I have a strong suspicion that I will not. One who conspues is referred to as a consputator.

Dyspathy (n.) The antithesis of sympathy.

I suppose that antipathy, a common enough word, fulfils much the same role, but I like the idea of a word whose sole meaning is "the opposite of sympathy."

Scrouge (v.) To inconvenience or discomfort a person by pressing against them, or by standing too close.

For passengers on modern transportation everywhere, this word has tremendous and unfortunate resonance. It falls firmly within the category of words that one wishes one did not have occasion to use on a daily basis but are fascinating nonetheless.

Umbriphilous (adj.) Fond of the shade.

Although this is a botanical word, used to describe things arboreal, I choose to use it to describe myself.

This is an absolutely delightful book, and one that may help you spice up your vocabulary, if you are bold enough to call someone a mafflard. It will happify you.--Marilyn Dahl



Deeper Understanding

Newbery-Caldecott Dinner: Sweet Ladies, Good Gentlemen

It is the night we have been waiting for,
The Academy Awards of the children's book field,
For which hundreds don their finery
And pull up their chairs to large round tables
For the speeches they've been anticipating for nearly 6 months.
Brian Selznick takes the stage in a black shirt that sparkles
Like the stars in the sky
At the opening of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
He speaks of the 70th Anniversary of the Randolph Caldecott Medal.
On two giant screens at either end of the Anaheim Hilton ballroom,
The image of the medal appears:
John Gilpin, one of the esteemed 19th-century artist's characters, astride a runaway horse.
Selznick tells us to peer into a small apartment in Paris where a boy named Hugo sleeps.
Symbols crash, the lights dim,
And the images on the giant screens transport us
Across the Atlantic to the City of Lights,
Rendered in the graphite illustrations we know so well.
We see Hugo asleep in his bed.
The phone rings.
Hugo's eyes pop wide open.
The caller is Karen Breen (Caldecott Chair,
Who holds a phone in a black-and-white photo).
Hugo clutches his head in disbelief
And races out the door, through the streets of Paris.
He calls up to Isabelle's window
And the two head off together into the night.
Their destination: the Air France terminal at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Their pilot: A man with a patch over his right eye.
On the plane, Hugo and Isabelle read
First the Egg, The Wall, Henry's Freedom Box
And Knuffle Bunny Too.
Hugo's eye metamorphoses into the full moon he views out the plane's window.
Suddenly he is on the street in front of the Anaheim Hilton
Where a white-haired man rides out of the mist on horseback.
The man looks familiar.
Could he be. . .
George Méliès?
Yes! But wait. . . .
The image transforms; time stops.  
And George Méliès on horseback suddenly becomes
The image on the Randolph Caldecott Medal,    
To the audible gasp of hundreds of onlookers.
Selznick had spoken before about how much he had loved
As a child Remy Charlip's Fortunately.
About the revelations behind each page turn,
Like a series of doors opening,
And how this technique influenced his own work.
Selznick had spoken before about how much he had loved
Maurice Sendak's wild rumpus
And the wordless dance that allows us to become one
With Max and his Wild Things.
But that night Selznick spoke of a time five years ago when he felt stuck
And of meeting Maurice Sendak
And Sendak telling Selznick that he "showed promise
But [had] not yet done [his] best work."
"Make the book you want to make," Sendak told him.
And that night Selznick also spoke of meeting Remy Charlip,
And Charlip's resemblance to George Méliès,
And Charlip posing for the drawings of the filmmaker in Hugo Cabret.
And then he asked Remy Charlip to stand, present in the audience.
The real and the illusory merged,
As George Méliès stood in our midst.
Nina Lindsay, chair of the committee
that selected Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! took the mic next:
"Has a Newbery winner ever been shorter than the Caldecott winner?" she asked.
The audience laughed heartily but also perhaps a bit nervously, too.
How would Laura Amy Schlitz follow
The cinematic magic of Brian's words and pictures?
We silently rooted for her; we need not have worried.
Rejecting the podium, Laura Amy Schlitz,
In a shawl as blue as the ocean,
An exact match to the color of her eyes,
Stepped to the end of the table and seemed to fill the room, all 5' 2" of her.
She explained "Whenever I've dreamed, as writers do,
Of winning the Newbery, my dream has always ended
With the sad conclusion that I never would.
And then I've comforted myself:
Alright, I'll never win the Newbery,
But at least I won't have to give one of those speeches."
Having won, she reasoned,
"My friends, you deserve a good speech,
Something coherent and profound . . .
But . . . I have a storyteller's mind, a deranged junk drawer
Clogged with memories and metaphors.
I deal in mental pictures . . .
I brood over these images until I divine their stories."
To summarize her stories here would not do them justice.
But even to read her speech in print would not capture
The life she gives the stories when she tells them.
For you see, as she threaded together three anecdotes that "haunted" her,
Into tales involving "playground duty, a kite, and having moles removed,"
She did not read from typed pages, or even notes.
Laura Amy Schlitz had memorized every word,
Every hurried phrase, every pause.
For 17 minutes, we left Anaheim behind.
We were on a school playground with her,
Coaxing a frightened child to a soft landing.
We were in the woods, begging a bear to grant us our heart's desire,
And we were running on the beach, learning to fly a kite for the very first time.
Her gifts as a storyteller reminded us of the power of words fully inhabited.
She held us spellbound.
As we left the Anaheim Hilton
Across from a Disneyland now closed for the night,
We were engulfed by the profound silence that follows
The cries of children riding rollercoasters.
The quiet night sky became the backdrop to thoughts of
A child guided to a soft landing,
An imaginary bear in the deep woods,
A kite airborne above a salty ocean
A full moon illuminating the rooftops of Paris
And wait . . .
What was that?
The clipclop of hooves coming out of the mist?--Jennifer M. Brown


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