Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Quotation of the Day

'The Internet Cannot Replace Books' in Pakistan

"Science has proved that reading books activates brain cells and hundreds of people are book addicts and the Internet can not replace books as there is no continuity in reading something on Internet. At the same time, reading on the Internet requires electricity, which is a problem in Pakistan, and books have a longer life, so the Internet cannot replace books."--Dr. Muhammad Ali Muhammadi, a physician, quoted in the Daily Times about his love for the 40-year-old Sunday book market in Karachi, which "has no name" and consists of 50 "temporary roadside stalls, set up by spreading books out on sheets of cloth."


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Borders Second Quarter: Sales and Net Loss Drop

In the second quarter ended August 2, sales at Borders Group fell 6.9% to $758.5 million and the net loss was $9.2 million compared to a net loss of $25.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Despite the major sales drop, Wall Street liked the news about the reduction of the net loss: in after-hours trading, Borders stock rose 7.3% to $5.75 a share, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company said that it had improved operating cash flow by nearly $200 million, mainly because of tighter management of inventory and other working capital, and reduced debt by about 37%, mainly because of improved management of inventory and other working capital, lower capital expenditures and proceeds from the sale earlier this year of its Australia/New Zealand/Singapore businesses.

Sales at U.S. superstores open at least a year fell by 8.9%. Excluding Harry Potter sales in the second quarter of last year, comp-store sales would have dropped 5.1% and book sales would have declined 2.5%. Bestselling titles included Breaking Dawn, The Last Lecture, The Shack, Audition and When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and the categories that performed well included bargain and children's. Borders opened four superstores in the U.S. during the quarter and now has 518.

Borders's new online site had sales of $7.4 million, and sales at Waldenbook specialty retail stores open at least a year fell 7%, but only 1.4% with sales of Harry Potter excluded.

Following the sale of stores in the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, Borders's international business mainly consists of Paperchase, which has headquarters in London, three Borders stores in Puerto Rico and the franchise operations in the U.A.E. and Malaysia. 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19

Notes: Bookstore Move; Moore Wants Less Reading

"Laura Carpenter is hoping to start a reverse trend," noted the Flint Journal. Carpenter "is moving her Little Professor Bookstore from Silver Lake Village--a massive shopping center next to U.S. 23--to downtown Fenton [Mich.], with plans to open this week."

"Everybody thought the new retail area was so cool," she said of her previous location. "But I think times have changed. There's more foot traffic downtown. . . . And where we were located, it was hard to see our signs from the road. Our store fits perfectly in downtown. We're so excited. I think it's an evolution. More people are shopping locally. This move will make us more a part of the community."


"In a culture that values newness and efficiency, used book stores are the quintessential embodiment of 'old school,' " according to the Tacoma, Wash., News Tribune, which explored several South Sound used bookshops.

"You go into a used book store, and you never know what you're going to find," said Michele Martin of Culpepper Books.

"It's all about the people," added Mel Michaels of King's Books. "You can get recommendations on Amazon, but you don't get that eye-to-eye interaction.”

Noting that a used book "has taken on something extra because someone has owned it before,” Linda Howell of Park Avenue Books recalled a children's book she saw recently that had the following inscription: "This is my book. Do not touch it. Do not make it dirty. Leave it alone. It's mine."


Does he want us to wait for the movie? Michael Moore--filmmaker, activist and author of Mike's Election Guide 2008--told the Associated Press (via CNN) that he doesn't think people should be reading anything this fall.

"There really is no time for any frivolity," he said. "People are already working two jobs to put gas in the tank, so they can drive from the first job to the second job. People need to spend as much of their free time as possible for candidates. I would rather you go and work for a local candidate than read my book."

His publisher, Grand Central's Jamie Raab, said she might agree with Moore "on the issues, and on the importance of the election. But I don't agree about reading his book. If people are going to vote wisely, they need to understand what's at stake."


Bond. Young, virtual James Bond. Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond Series, "has launched a computer game set in the world of 007 to help address declining literacy standards in young boys," according to the Guardian.

"We think reading is sitting down and reading a novel but there are all sorts of reading," said the author of his new creation, The Shadow War. "Kids can get as engrossed in a football magazine as they can in a history book or novel. We shouldn't be dismissive of other forms of literature--I used to read tons of comic books when I was a kid."


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Obituary Note: Dave Freeman

Dave Freeman, the ad executive and co-author of 100 Things to Do Before You Die: Travel Events You Just Can't Miss, an approach that led to a slew of similarly titled books, died August 17 after falling and hitting his head in his home in Venice, Calif., the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 47.

Published in 1999 by Taylor Trade, 100 Things to Do Before You Die grew out of the defunct travel website that co-author Neil Teplica and Freeman had created. Teplica told the Times that the book's title meant "you should live every day like it would be your last, and there's not that many people who do. It's a credit to Dave--he didn't have enough days, but he lived them like he should have."

The authors visited most of the sites mentioned in the book. According to an NPR interview in 2001, Freeman's favorites were "land-diving"--something like bungee jumping--on Vanuatu and the Las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain, which features huge papier-mache and plaster statues that explode at midnight.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

All Aboard for Susan Wiggs!

Here's autographing event that adds up to a different kettle of fish: Take one commuter crowd at the end of the workday (Thursday, September 4); pour them onto a ferry (the 4:40 p.m.); add a dash of awe-inspiring surroundings (the stretch of Puget Sound from Seattle, Wash., to Bainbridge Island); and one popular local author with a brand new book (Susan Wiggs's Just Breathe). Mix for 30 minutes. Yields a boatload of book lovers, signed book in hand, ready to start the weekend celebration early.
Of course the hope is that a captive audience of passengers who may not already be fans of Wiggs's more than 30 books could well come out the other side of this half-hour sail as converts to the author's work. Marianna Ricciuto, assistant manager of public relations at Harlequin, said that the idea evolved after Harlequin approached the Washington State Ferries about advertising Just Breathe on their vessels, and Trans4Media, the PR agency for the transportation company suggested hosting a signing during the commute. The Harlequin marketing team embraced the idea. "We wanted to create [an event] that captured the feeling of Just Breathe, surrounding [the guests] with awe-inspiring beauty," Ricciuto said.

This is the first event of its kind to take place literally on the Sound, according to Aunie Aubrey, director of administration at Trans4media, who does PR for the fleet. "We are thrilled to have our first book signing on board the Washington State Ferries, featuring Northwest author Susan Wiggs," Aubrey said. The idea immediately appealed to author Wiggs, a Bainbridge Island resident: "It's the best commute there is, on Puget Sound in high summer. I hope Just Breathe is the kind of engrossing, feel-good novel people can relax and enjoy during a ferry sailing."

Passengers and Wiggs fans should board the ferry in Seattle at Pier 52 (801 Alaskan Way). Regular ferry fees will apply. Wiggs will be signing in the passenger cabin of the ferry. Copies of Just Breathe (Harlequin/MIRA, $24.95, 9780778325772/0778325776) may be purchased in the galley, courtesy of Olympic Cascades (which caters the refreshments on board with local business partners). Bon voyage!--Jennifer M. Brown


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Wroblewski on the Today Show

This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., has an interview with Ken Wells, author of The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous: Fighting to Save a Way of Life in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300121520/0300121520), appearing next week.

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Ecco, $25.95, 9780061374227/0061374229).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: a celebration of the work of Swiss writer Robert Walser, who influenced Kafka and inspired Hermann Hesse. Guests are Susan Bernofsky, translator of Walser's The Assistant (New Directions, $16.95, 9780811215909/0811215903), Deborah Eisenberg and Wayne Koestenbaum. As the show put it, "Three writers read, discuss and worship Walser, a writer who is like a mouse that roared--small and fragile but out-of-this-world outrageous."


Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Junot Díaz, whose The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead, $14, 9781594483295/1594483299) is now out in paperback.


Tomorrow on Oprah: Bill Cosby, author of Come On, People (Thomas Nelson, $25.99, 9781595550927/1595550925).


Tomorrow on CNN's Lou Dobbs Show: Andrew Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (Metropolitan Books, $24, 9780805088151/0805088156).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Richard Brookhiser, author of George Washington on Leadership (Basic Books, $26, 9780465003020/0465003028).

Also on Colbert: John McWhorter, author of All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can't Save Black America (Gotham, $20, 9781592403745/1592403743).


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Book Review

Book Review: Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo (Nan A. Talese, $21.95 Hardcover, 9780385525923, August 2008)

You expect the novel's title to refer to a youth who's ravenous for life and experience, and Fenfang is certainly that--but what the girl is really ravenous for is food. Fenfang has a serious hunger problem, so it's no surprise there are plenty of eating scenes in Xiaolu Guo's subtle, delicate Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth. But this is no tale of bulimia or miraculous weight loss. The short novel is a slight, almost plotless sequence of sketches of life in modern Beijing, seen through the eyes of Fenfang Wang, a 17-year-old who gets tired of tending sweet potatoes and runs away from her provincial mountain home in Ginger Hill Village. At the age of 21, she fills out a fateful application form to be an extra at the Beijing Film Studio. It changes her life.

With frequent invocations to the Heavenly Bastard in the Sky, Fenfang wrestles for 10 years with a series of boyfriends, jobs and directors, writes her own screenplay about a simple, ordinary man and struggles against nosy neighbors who label any girl who veers even slightly from the social norm as a prostitute. With an artful simplicity, Fenfang weighs the joys and sorrows of life in this touching little mosaic of swiftly-drawn episodes, and as she lands a string of non-speaking walk-on roles, she grows increasingly independent and endearing.

Though the other characters remain little more than quick sketches, the gritty air and moody dust storms of Beijing unify the various adventures until the city itself becomes almost a character, dominating the story's mood. The novel takes a candid look at Beijing and modern China through the eyes of Chinese youth, as the future is faced by a young woman shaking off the restrictive roles of the past and trying to make her own decisions in the complex, contradictory modern world.

Talented documentary filmmaker Xiaolu Guo's autobiographical novel is so short and pretty it practically begs you to swallow it in a single gulp. The chapter titles are comically crooked, as though typed by a very poor typewriter. The book design is charming. The story is as light as froth but still somehow affecting, in this first novel (the second to be published here) by a young writer who is utterly sincere and mirrors the discontent of a generation.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: This autobiographical novel by filmmaker Xiaolu Guo about life in modern Beijing is subtle and delicate, looking at China through the eyes of a young woman who grows increasingly independent as she makes her way in a complex, contradictory society.


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin


Click Again

Mentioned yesterday in the section about books coming out next Tuesday, September 2, Bill Tancer, author of Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters, is general manager of global research at Hitwise, not, um, Hitline. As eagle-eyed Howard Cohen of Keen Communications/Clerisy Press, noted: "When I was growing up, Hitline was what you called to request bad '70s pop music on WPEZ Pittsburgh. I hope he wasn't responsible for that, too."


KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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