Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 21, 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

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookseller One Step Ahead

"You just dance ever faster."--Dana Brigham, co-owner of Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., answering the Boston Globe's question: "So how's a bookstore to stay alive?"


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


Notes: Storyopolis Picked Best of LA; Ordering Books 'Blind'

Congratulations to Storyopolis, named best children's bookstore in Los Angeles Magazine's Best of LA issue. The magazine wrote:

"If you were to mash together the best features of a Barnes & Noble (massive size and selection) and a neighborhood independent (friendliness, staffers who actually read), it might look something like Storyopolis. The beloved Studio City children's bookstore has an enormous story-time room filled with comfortable couches, an art gallery displaying everything from robot sculptures to Gary Baseman prints, and a long wall of kid-lit classics, from Curious George to The Giving Tree. Storyopolis's claim to fame--besides that time Sarah Ferguson came in and did a reading--is its gift baskets, which include a half-dozen or more books (themes range from "pirate adventure" to 'fairy folklore' to Caldecott winners). 12348 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818-509-5600 or"

To celebrate, the store is offering $20 off any online order of $100.


Chestnut Street Books, Stillwater, Minn., held its grand opening this past Saturday, July 19. Pioneer Press described the shop as "a book-lovers' feast specializing in children's and art titles, many of them rare." Store manager Cecilia Loome is the daughter of longtime bookseller Thomas Loome, who recently retired after closing Loome's Antiquarian Booksellers.

The new store is nestled in a 600-sq.-ft. retail space, which makes careful inventory selection crucial: "We sell good new books and good new used books, but no garbage," said Cecilia. "With it being so small, it makes you be picky. I'm very selective about what makes it in there."

Chestnut Street Books is located at 223 E. Chestnut St., Stillwater, Minn., 55082; 651-430-9805;;


"What's hurting us is the attitude that reading doesn't matter," Olga Velez, owner of the Book Rack, East El Paso, Tex., told the El Paso Times in an article about how the region's booksellers are weathering tough economic conditions.

"When gas went up, sales did go down," Velez said. "We went from making a profit to just barely covering costs. . . . In the 23 years that the store has been in business, it has never taken a hit like that. At first, people really started cutting back. But business is steady right now."

Margaret Barber, owner of the Bookery, Socorro, Tex., has begun offering customers the option of picking up books at her house in El Paso as well as the bookshop. "Gas prices have certainly affected me. I'm a bit out of the way," she said. "Certain people tell me they think twice before they go anywhere."


Slate's Explainer column used Christopher Ciccone's Life With My Sister Madonna as exhibit A in an attempt to answer the question: "Why would booksellers buy a title without knowing anything about it?"

The short answer: "Because 'blind' books are almost always big sellers."


The New York Times interviewed author John Casey in Milford, Pa., where he uses "his spartan cabin on the Delaware River . . . as a serene office for his writing, working at a small table in the kitchen." Casey, who won the 1989 National Book Award for Spartina, "is spending much of this summer in his cabin, putting the finishing touches on a sequel."


Pump up the volume. The Guardian reported that Salman Rushdie claims he recently signed 1,000 copies of The Enchantress of Florence in 57 minutes at Ingram's warehouse in Nashville, Tenn., breaking the previous book signing record held by Malcolm Gluck--1,001 copies in 59 minutes.

"Well, if that's true, I'm humbled," Gluck said. "I'm delighted to learn of Salman's achievement. I think it's very funny actually, it's like men boasting about the size of their sexual equipment, it's got nothing to do with any other aspect of their personality. I doubt there will be any women going for this record, this is just such a male thing."

In a letter to the Guardian, Rushdie asserted that Gluck's "record is toast," adding, "among the fastest present-day signers of books are President Jimmy Carter, the novelist Amy Tan, and myself."


"Bookshops are the artfully maintained façades for one of the most cut-throat industries in Britain," according to the Times, which observed that bookselling "is necessarily tough because there are no significant own-brand books or exclusive products so that customers can only be wooed through clever marketing and ruthless price-cutting."


Although many media influences--bands, games, films, televison--are cited as contributors to rising youth crime, Ben Myers wrote in the Guardian's book blog that literature may be getting short shrift here, since a headline you never see is any variation upon "Killer Hid Knife in Paperback of Brothers Karamazov."


As their country continues to dominate newspaper headlines, you may wonder what Iranians are reading. The Tehran Times offered a peek at bookstore bestseller lists. For example, "J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter series, Persian translations of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and A Thousand of Splendid Sun by Mehdi Ghabraii, books written by the American professional speaker Anthony Robbins and Australian television producer Rhonda Byrne are among the bestsellers in a bookstore on Mirdamad Street, located in a wealthy district in Tehran."

The Times also reported that a bookseller in Masjed-e Soleiman felt "book selling is a cultural activity that has its own problems and also that it doesn’t provide sufficient income. He said that he continues his career because of his own interest."


Has Joe Nocera of the New York Times really picked the "Best Business Books Ever?"


Effective immediately, International Publishers Marketing, Dulles, Va., is distributing:

  • Benjamin Street, which is led by Martin Connors, who created VideoHound and Visible Ink Press, and will specialize in books about pop culture, the paranormal, religion, science and politics.
  • Ford Street Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, which publishes high-quality fiction for children and young adults. Titles are selected by children's author Paul Collins.
  • Jonathan Ball Publishers, whose titles celebrate the natural splendor and cultural heritage of southern Africa. Imprints include Jonathan Ball Publishers, which focuses on South African politics, South African history, general books and reference works; Ad Donker Publishers, which publishes South African literature; Delta Books, which focuses on general South African books; and Sunbird, which publishes photographic travel and wildlife guides.


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter

General Retailing: In-Store Sales Slump, Online Climbs

While sales in their stores decline, some general retailers are experiencing significant gains in online sales as "more Americans are trading in their car keys for a keyboard," the New York Times reported on Saturday. Online sales for such stores remain a tiny percentage of sales but are a bright spot during this difficult economic time.

At J.C. Penney, in the first quarter of the year, in-store same-store sales fell 7.4% while online sales rose 8.7%. Mike Boylson, Penney's chief marketing officer, commented, "We see more people turning to online because it's much more efficient in terms of time and money."

Similarly in the first quarter, Victoria's Secrets shed 8% in in-store sales while catalogue and online sales were up 11%. Gap's store sales dropped 11% while online sales rose 21%. A Gap spokesperson said: "Parents don't want to drive to four different stores, two different malls."

Some of the stores, including Target, Kmart, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Bon-Ton, Aeropostale and American Eagle Outfitters, have been offering deals recently on shipping to add to the attraction of online shopping.


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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marriage Facts & Fictions

This morning on the Today Show: Mark O'Connel, author of The Marriage Benefit: The Surprising Rewards of Staying Together (Springboard Press, $23, 9780446581110/0446581119).

Also on Today: Heather Thomas, author of Trophies (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061126246/0061126241).


Today on Fox's Hannity & Colmes: Don Corace, author of Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights--and How We Can Fight It (Harper, $14.95, 9780061661433/0061661430). He appears on the show again tomorrow.


Today on All Things Considered: Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Knopf, $28.95, 9781400043583/1400043581).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: David Giffels, author of All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061362866/0061362867).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Senator Jim Webb, author of A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America (Broadway, $24.95, 9780767928359/0767928350). Webb is also scheduled for the Charlie Rose Show tonight.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Mario Batali, author of Italian Grill (Ecco, $29.95, 9780061450976/0061450979).


Tomorrow on Fresh Air: Michael S. Gazzaniga, author of Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique (Ecco, $27.50, 9780060892883/0060892889).


Tomorrow on the View: Shirley MacLaine, whose Sage-ing While Age-ing (Atria, $14, 9781416550426/1416550429) is now out in paperback.


Tomorrow night on the Late Night with David Letterman: Tony Dungy, coach of the Indianapolis Colts and author of You Can Do It! (Little Simon Inspirations, $16.99. 9781416954613/1416954619).


Books & Authors

Awards: Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penny won Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award, earning £3,000 (US$5,994) and a Theakston's cask of ale. The Guardian called Penny's first novel a two-time surprise winner, since it "had already found acclaim as a work of mainstream literary fiction," having previously won the 2006 Costa Book of the Year prize.

"I feel a bit of a fraud," Penny said, "as it is only my first book, and I don't really feel like a proper crime writer, but I am delighted to have won."

Val McDermid, serving as chairman of the judges, disagreed: "This is a book about a murder and its consequences, and that's a crime novel almost by definition."


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:


House & Home
by Kathleen McCleary (Voice, $23.95, 9781401340735/1401340733). "When Sam loses their home on a 'crazy' invention investment, Ellen, his wife, must come to grips with saying goodbye to her beloved house and with her anger. A timely and thoughtful book."--Linda Vinstra, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

Up for Renewal by Cathy Alter (Atria, $24, 9780743288408/0743288408). "When writer Cathy Alter challenged herself to change her life, she became the guinea pig in her own experiment: to live her life by the headlines of women's magazines. Not only did her journey of self-discovery lead her to the man she had always dreamed of, but she also discovered how to cook a magnificent meal and forged a better relationship with her mother, all the while maintaining clear skin. Funny and endearing."--Holly Nelson, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.


In the Name of Sarah Pogford by Jon Edward Jordan (Permanent Press, $16, 9781579621667/157962166X). "Elda Graf misunderstood a situation in her school 30 years ago and, despite her less-than-complete grip on reality, she is given an opportunity to redeem herself as a substitute teacher. A wonderfully disturbing novel!"--Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark.

For Ages 9 to 12

Moon & Sun: The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle (Orchard, $16.99, 9780545000123/0545000122). "A young girl and her brother have made a deal with an evil dark lord to save their family and village. This is a great story of the twisted dark and the pitfalls we all must face to achieve what is good."--Ellen Perry, Browsing Bison Books, Deer Lodge, Mont.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life

My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life: An Anti-Memoir by Adam Nimoy (Pocket Books, $23.00 Hardcover, 9781416572572, July 2008)

It is to Adam Nimoy's great credit that his memoir does not read like yet another over-privileged, descent-into-addiction, crash-and-burn Hollywood story even though it contains all of those elements. Nimoy manages to avoid the clichés, offering instead a sincere and often humorous account of starting over and self-realization. The author is Leonard Nimoy's son, which is both burden and blessing, something he acknowledges in the book's opening pages. Here, he recounts a desperate meeting with a wolfish literary agent who immediately loses interest when Nimoy pitches a memoir that isn't about being "the son of Spock." Instead, highly unlikely to appeal to the pointy-eared attendees of Star Trek conventions, the story Nimoy wants to tell--and what ultimately became this book--is about how he emerged from a 30-year pot-smoking haze, realized that both his marriage and his directing career were over, and decided to rebuild his life from the ground up. Along the way, he worked very hard to create a good relationship with his teenage son and daughter and attempted to resolve his often fraught relationship with his famous father.

Nimoy realizes that a marijuana addiction isn't the stuff of James Frey-type legend (part of the problem with a pot habit, he says, is that it never allows the user to bottom out and therefore be forced to get help), but once he stops smoking cannabis, he recognizes that he has been using it--successfully--to escape from any kind of emotional discomfort. Some of this came from being in a marriage that hadn't been functional for many years and some came from an unfulfilling career as an attorney and a second, failed, career as a TV director. A much deeper pain came from his father, portrayed here (not unsympathetically) as a mostly absent, borderline alcoholic who had--at best--difficulty expressing affection. But Nimoy doesn't waste time wallowing in bitterness and blame. Once his new sobriety allows him to work out his problems with his father, he uses his new understanding to become a better parent to his own children, both of whom are traumatized when he moves out and divorces their mother. Those passages, where Nimoy describes his sometimes joyful, sometimes heartbreaking conversations with his children, are among the most touching in a book that has many poignant moments. Unpretentious and straightforward, Nimoy's memoir is a surprisingly affecting account of a man who learned to be a good father by understanding who he was as a son.--Debra Ginsberg


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