Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ballantine Books: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

St. Martin's Press: Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Rodale Books: Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche

Beach Lane Books: Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Counterpoint LLC: The Elephant of Belfast by S Kirk Walsh

Shadow Mountain: Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Quotation of the Day

The Book is a Reflection of Its Owner

"The book is warm. The book is handy. The book is handsome to the eye. The book occupies the shelf of the owner and is a reflection of him or her or, actually, me. The book is always there, to be reached for, to be thumbed and, too often I admit, to wonder about: Why did I buy this? My bookcase is full of mysteries. . . . I asked a bookseller in New York to recommend a brilliant but unheralded book, and he went through his shelves and picked out several, none of which I had ever heard of. Her Privates We was one of them. The Hemingway blurb sold me. No digital anything can do that."--Columnist Richard Cohen in the Washington Post.


Sourcebooks Casablanca: The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod


Notes: Books for Drugs Plea; Rushdie Libel Threat

Edward Stephen Koster, owner of David's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., pleaded no contest to felony charges of buying and reselling stolen textbooks.

The Ann Arbor News reported Koster "was accused of hiring drug addicts to steal textbooks from competitors that he later sold. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Koster pleaded no contest to receiving and concealing stolen property shortly before opening arguments were to begin at his trial in Washtenaw Circuit Court, court officials said. He also pleaded no contest to an added count of conspiracy involving less than $20,000, and prosecutors agreed to drop one count of conspiracy exceeding $20,000 at sentencing Sept. 24."

The shoplifters, charged as co-defendants, "are expected to testify about 'shopping lists' Koster gave them, officials said. Court records allege Koster bought the books for $20 each and that the scheme helped feed their heroin habits for about six months."


John Blake Publishing has delayed publication of On Her Majesty's Service by Ron Evans after Salman Rushdie threatened legal action over the memoir by a former Special Branch officer who had served on a special detail protecting Rushdie.

According to the Guardian, Evans "claimed that the security guards protecting Rushdie during the fatwa against him 'got so fed up with his attitude that they locked him in a cupboard under the stairs and all went to the local pub for a pint or two.' Evans also claimed that the guards nicknamed Rushdie Scruffy, which Rushdie said was untrue."

The publishers' managing director, John Blake, said, "If anyone should be defending freedom of speech it should be him . . . I can't believe that he'd really want to ban a book because it says that detectives named him Scruffy--in a way that's almost affectionate."

Rushdie told the Guardian he is "not trying to prevent him from publishing his stupid book but if they publish it as it is there will be consequences and there will be a libel action."


Obama bestseller backlash? The Associated Press (via USA Today) observed that going negative against Barack Obama is now "a good formula for selling books. Three anti-Obama releases were in the top 20 of's best-seller list on Tuesday, despite little critical attention or mainstream media coverage. . . . Until recently, the most widely read narrative of Obama's life was written by Obama, in the million-selling Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. The new releases, like McCain's campaign ads, attempt a counter-narrative."


Books by Sebastian Faulks are the most popular summer reading list picks by British critics this year. The Guardian reported that, "among more than 600 reading recommendations from books pages, Faulks was the summer's most recommended author overall, chosen seven times in total for his new James Bond novel Devil May Care and his older titles Birdsong and Engleby."


Approximately 150 medieval and Renaissance books that were once in the possession of English monarchs will be placed on public display for the first time at London's British Library in 2011, according to BBC News. The exhibition will be culled from "almost 2,000 manuscripts donated to the British Museum by King George II in 1757."


The Truth About Hunting in Today's Africa, and How To Go on Safari for $690.00 (1963) is just one of Slate's "10 oddest travel guides ever published."


Effective next Monday, Jeff Leonard will join Baker & Taylor as executive v-p and chief financial officer. He was formerly v-p, finance, and treasurer of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Before that, he worked for seven years at Hughes Supply, the construction supplies distributor, most recently as v-p of operations, finance. He has also worked at Planet Hollywood and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Thomas I. Morgan, who was named chairman and CEO of B&T last month (Shelf Awareness, July 7, 2008), was president and CEO of Hughes Supply.


In October 2009, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in San Antonio, Tex., in the Alon Town Centre at 11503 Northwest Military Parkway.


GLOW: Greystone Books: Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden by Marc Hamer

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Story of a Marriage

Tonight on The Bev Smith Show: Garen Thomas, author of Yes We Can: A Biography of Barack Obama (Feiwel & Friends, $6.99, 9780312537098/0312537093).


Tomorrow on the Today Show: Diane Levin, author of So Sexy So Soon (Ballantine, $25, 9780345505064/0345505069).


Tomorrow on the KCRW's Bookworm: Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Story of a Marriage (FSG, $22, 9780374108663/0374108668). As the show put it: "A wonderful young novelist, Andrew Sean Greer, writes about enormous and basic truths that his characters choose to conceal. Matters of race, sexual preference--facts of life--become the basis for mystery. Here, he tells us why."


Tomorrow night on the Charlie Rose Show: David Carr, author of The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life--His Own (S&S, $26, 9781416541523/1416541527).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Thomas Frank, author of The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (Metropolitan Books, $25, 9780805079883/0805079882).


Berkley Books: The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

Movies: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, based on the series by Ann Brashares, opens today. Sanaa Hamri directs this sequel about four girls who have been friends since birth and is based on the fourth novel in the series, Forever in Blue. The tie-in edition is published by Delacorte ($9.99, 9780385736473/0385736479).



One World: My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Book Review

Book Review: The Anglo Files

The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall (W. W. Norton & Company, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780393058468, August 2008)

In the mid-1990s, New York Times writer Sarah Lyall married a Brit and moved to England from her native New York. Now, after more than a decade in her adopted country, Lyall has compiled her impressions in The Anglo Files, a sharp, bone-dry and tremendously amusing study of all things British. Although an avid quaffer of tea and mother to two "proper English girls," Lyall is solidly American at heart--not actually an Anglophile at all. She tips her hand early on when she recounts a country picnic with an earl, which turned out to be . . . well, no picnic. Traveling in an ancient jalopy filled with the offal of dead birds, they drove to a decrepit barn and dined on canned tomato soup in the freezing cold. But why worry about excessive luxuries like heat? Or dental care? Or, for that matter, a written constitution? The British, Lyall says, certainly do not. Cricket, however--a game that can take whole seasons to play and whose byzantine rules defy explanation--can really get the Brits riled up. And then there are hedgehogs and badgers, for which so many protection agencies exist there are umbrella organizations to manage them all.

Lyall takes on the English class system, weather and love of the drink but makes the greatest hay out of Parliament. Her essays about the House of Commons and House of Lords read like Monty Python sketches gone mad; there are Elizabethan outfits, shouting, rampant sexism and name calling--and that happens before Earl Grey and Earl Sandwich enter the building. Less wacky but no less entertaining are Lyall's descriptions of the lack of sex education in England (let's not forget Prince Charles's amorous desire to be reincarnated as a feminine hygiene product) and the (until recently) deplorable state of customer service in almost every arena. Lyall credits the famous British stiff upper lip and willingness to "get on with it" to the deprivations of World War II, which still loom large in the national consciousness. An economic boom has spurred improvements in the service industry and Princess Diana's death prompted an uncharacteristic--and cathartic--outpouring of grief, but the British, Lyall reports, still cling fast to their eccentricities. Fortunately, the British also have a deeply ironic sense of humor that, combined with their love of silliness, allows them to laugh at themselves even if that laughter takes the form of a very dry chuckle. One assumes therefore that they will enjoy Lyall's affectionate skewering as much as American readers are sure to do.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: A clever, sharp and very witty account of all things British, written by a staunchly American transplant.

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