Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 29, 2008


Minotaur Books: The Last Tourist (Milo Weaver #4) by Olen Steinhauer

Arcadia Publishing - Click Here For Your Kit!

St. Martin's Press: A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

Hamilcar Publications: Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Garden and the Golden Age of Boxing by Kevin Mitchell

New Harbinger Publications: Be Mighty: A Woman's Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance by Jill A. Stoddard

Little Brown Books For Young Readers: Please Don't Eat Me by Liz Climo

Grand Central Publishing: Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling

Editors' Note

Quotation of the Day

Michael Rosen: 'Give Children Books, Not SATs'

"One of the things I would do is put the enjoyment and pleasure in books of all kinds right at the centre. You would get teachers sitting round saying, 'Look, here is this massive historical body of books going back 3,000 years, full of stories and knowledge. How can we make the grabbing hold of that stuff absolutely central?' It's not through drawing up a specific curriculum. It's through the teachers working out, with advisers and researchers, how to do that. We've lost the ability to put those processes in place. What we think we have to do is produce directives from central government."--Michael Rosen, the U.K.'s Children's Laureate, in the Independent.

 


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News

Notes: New DIESEL Store Revs Up; Ohio Store Will Rebuild

The branch of DIESEL, A Bookstore that is opening in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles (Shelf Awareness, June 5, 2008) will be in business by mid-September, and the first author event will feature Alan Alda--on Wednesday, September 17.

DIESEL, which has stores in Oakland and Malibu, Calif., and is owned by John Evans and Alison Reid, was approached by developer Jim Rosenfield to open a store in the Brentwood Country Mart, an established mall not far from Dutton's Brentwood, which closed earlier this year. Rosenfield has been deeply involved in the design and construction of the store.

The new Brentwood store will include staff familiar to many in the business: Amelia Cone, Craig Hoover and Diane Leslie, all of whom worked previously at Dutton's; and event coordinator Robyn Kamimura and bookseller Natalie Diaz, who formerly worked at Vroman's in Pasadena. Some of DIESEL's Malibu staff will also be at the new store.

The DIESEL bookstore in Brentwood is located at 225 26th St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90402; dieselbookstore.com.

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Book World, Chillicothe, Ohio, suffered a devastating fire Tuesday night, but owner Brenda Dreitzler told the Gazette that she plans to rebuild.

"We must continue to do business, even though this is a very unfortunate time for us," Dreitzler said. "Some of books can be salvaged, and we will have to use insurance to help cover the books we lost."

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Retailers in Vineyard Haven, Mass., are feeling the loss of Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, which has been closed since a fire on July 4, and are especially wary about the impact the store's absence will have on holiday sales, Martha's Vineyard Gazette reported. A few of the retailers with whom the Gazette spoke are selling books by local authors and staging events to fill the gap, but they are eagerly awaiting the eventual reopening of Bunch of Grapes.

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The Lower Downtown Tattered Cover store has drawn "drastically increased foot traffic" because of the Democratic national convention, and many of the customers are bloggers working at the nearby Big Tent, the Denver Post reported. "We've seen so much more traffic," owner Joyce Meskis told the paper. Several author events also drew large crowds, including one by former John F. Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen, whose memoir published earlier this year is Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History.

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Congratulations to Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., which won the Best Independent Bookstore Award from KC Magazine: Luxury Living & Fine Home Design.

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Bookselling This Week listed the six ABA member stores that opened during July and profiled one of those stores, Light of Islam Bookstore in Webster, Tex., next to Houston, which is holding its grand opening celebration tomorrow.

Ruth Nasrullah founded the nonprofit bookstore because she saw, she told BTW, "a need in the community for a place where non-Muslims, new Muslims, and lifelong Muslims as well, could learn about Islam."

The 1,200-sq.-ft. store stocks books and CDs and devotes half of its space for classes and meetings. Its books include religious, history, social commentary, personal narratives, fiction and cookbook titles.

Light of Islam is located at 409 East NASA Parkway, Webster, Tex. 77598; 832-205-1457; light-of-islam.org.

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Chelsea Green Publishing created a stir earlier this month with its decision to make Obama's Challenge by Robert Kuttner available first through Amazon--via its BookSurge POD service (Shelf Awareness, August 19, 2008). Subsequent press coverage and discussion within the industry has been intense.

This week Vermont Public Radio's Neal Charnoff kept it all within the state's borders when he interviewed Chelsea Green's Margo Baldwin as well as indie booksellers Lynne Reed, co-owner of Misty Valley Books, Chester, and Susan Morgan, owner of the Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock.

"I think the publishers need to treat all bookstores the same, whether they're big box stores or independent stores," said Reed. "That's the issue I think.''

"If their reasoning was to get it out to the delegates ASAP for the convention, I suppose I understand the reasoning,'' countered Morgan, who said she felt her customers would still buy the book from her when it's available.

From this small sampling, Charnoff drew his conclusion that "booksellers in Vermont seem to be divided in their opinions on Chelsea Green."

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Cool Community Cooperation Idea of the Day. To celebrate National Library Card Sign-Up Month in September, used and rare book dealer La Vieille Maison des Livres, Mifflinburg, Pa., will give a free book to all Union County children who bring their new library cards to the bookshop September 2-23.

According to the Daily Item, "owner Linda Estupinan said she wants to reward young readers for taking a big step forward in their learning."

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CSI: Publishing Industry. Anthony Zuiker, creator of the numerous CSI television series, "has made a seven-figure deal with Dutton to create a series of three suspense-thriller 'digital novels,'" according to Variety, which reported that the new venture "is a publishing hybrid that broadens traditional book reading into a multiplatform experience that includes filmed components and an interactive social networking site."

"I want to give traditional crime novel readers a more immersive experience," Zuiker said, noting that the online features give "publishing a chance to catch up with the YouTube generation that has lost passion for reading."

"I personally don't have the attention economy to read a 250-page crime novel from start to finish," he continued. "I realized that the way I'd like to consume a novel is to be rewarded every couple of chapters by seeing something visual that enhances the narrative."

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Michelin will publish a guide for Hong Kong and Macau later this year, "only its second volume for Asia, following Tokyo last November," Bloomberg reported.

"We made a pre-selection of about 1,200 restaurants of maybe more than 15,000 and we dined in more than 800,'' said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the guides. He added that the guide "will follow the same formula as the volumes for Paris and London, including hotels and restaurants, and should go on sale on December 5."

 


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Tucson Festival of Books Makes Its Debut Next March

The Arizona Daily Star, in association with the University of Arizona, is sponsoring a new consumer book fair, called the Tucson Festival of Books, which makes its debut next March. The festival will include lectures, interviews, book signings, poetry readings, panel discussions, writing contests, workshops, children's events and book sales. This public celebration of reading and literacy will benefit nonprofit literacy programs in Tucson that are part of the Literacy Leadership Coalition.

The first Tucson Festival of Books takes place on the University of Arizona campus March 13-15, 2009. More than 300 authors, 200 exhibitors and 50,000 attendees are expected and will appear on 18 stages/venues (each seats between 140 and 2,300 people). The organizers have commitments from 300 authors but are still interested in hearing from other authors wanting to appear. Book author committee and other information can be found at tucsonfestivalofbooks.org.

 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: America According to Connor Gifford

On Monday, Labor Day, on the Today Show: Connor Gifford and Victoria Harris, authors of America According to Connor Gifford (Hargrave Press, distributed by Atlas Books, $24.95, 9780981719504/0981719503), which aims to make sense of the U.S. past through the insights of a young man with Down's syndrome.

 


Movies: Hari Puttar and the Comedy of Terrors

A lawsuit has been filed to prevent the release of a Bollywood film titled Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors because Warner Bros. "claims the movie title hews too closely to their mega-famous boy wizard franchise," according to the Associated Press (via the Denver Post).

"There is absolutely nothing to link Hari Puttar with Harry Potter," countered Munish Purii, CEO of Mumbai producer Mirchi Movies. The AP's brief description of the movie seems to add another yet layer of intrigue to the potentially litigious plot: "The film is not a tale of wizard spells or flying broomsticks, but rather a story of an Indian boy left home alone, who fights off burglars when his parents go away on vacation--a plot more reminiscent of the film Home Alone, starring Macaulay Culkin."

 


Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, author of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar, published by Houghton Mifflin this month, was born in Medford, Mass., in 1941 and published his first novel, Waldo, in 1967. His fiction includes The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, Blinding Light and most recently, The Elephanta Suite. His travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Fresh Air Fiend and Dark Star Safari. He has been the guest editor of The Best American Travel Writing and is a frequent contributor to various magazines, including The New Yorker. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

On your nightstand now:

Calcutta by Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Life of D. H. Lawrence by Jeffrey Meyers, The Chronicles of Clovis by Saki.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson, especially the edition with the N. C. Wyeth illustrations--the terrifying Blind Pew, the lovable rogue Long John Silver.

Your top five authors:

An absolutely impossible question--five! Out of perhaps a thousand! And strangely enough I would have this same problem if I saw 30 beautiful contestants and I had to choose Miss Universe.

Book you've faked reading:

Introduction to Organic Chemistry
(when I was a pre-med student).

Book you're an evangelist for:

Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Venus in Furs by L. Sacher-Masoch. But I must say the book was a huge disappointment.

Book that changed your life:

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. I read this when I was about 17, and he made writing look like great fun, with great freedom, with humor and lots of sex.

Favorite line from a book:

"The past is another country. People do things differently there"--The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Worst Journey in the World by A. Cherry-Garrard.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Concrete Reveries

Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City by Mark Kingwell (Viking Books, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780670037803, August 2008)



Imagine the pleasures of a ramble through a city (Paris, New York or Shanghai) with a charming, witty and knowledgeable companion. Find this in Mark Kingwell's exhilarating series of meditations on what places can mean to us. "Always the city represents hope and desire," he confides in your mind's ear, and you think, "Oh, yes, tell me more!"

For Kingwell, cities are collisions of natural environment, buildings, public spaces and all of us interacting together; in the best of circumstances, we thrive and realize our fullest selves; in less congenial environments, we call the despised places names like Feral City, Panic City or just Pure Hell. Kingwell sees the key to making the most of our opportunities as understanding that our embodied consciousness exists in a particular place, with a vital feedback loop between our lived experience (both inside and outside) and our whole being.

If that concept seems intuitively obvious, Kingwell is quick to remind us that we operate almost automatically within philosophical/perceptual constraints stubbornly ingrained from French 17th century philosopher Rene Descartes. "Cogito, ergo sum," ("I think, therefore I am"), Kingwell feels, models the way we envision our consciousness, the "real" world and our relationship with the world. Skeptical? Just remember that the city grid is one Cartesian legacy, as is architectural modernism with its ideal of the neat, clean and abstract.

Descartes centers all perception in the individual mind, but his self-involved theoretical construct leaves open how one consciousness (in his terms) perceives or is perceived by another. How would Descartes explain the shared consciousness, for example, at sold-out basketball championship games or, God forbid, Carnaval in Rio? Having little time for such mind games, Kingwell simply dismisses the Cartesian framework as outmoded and "our generalized epistemological hangover." At its doorstep he lays our fetishization of interiors (both our homes and our "minds"), as if we can erect an impermeable barrier that keeps us "clean" from the Outside. Better to think along the lines of kindred spirit Frank O'Hara and his poems celebrating serendipity and the sexy thrill of being alive in the moment in cities; then consider Kingwell as a coach to get us all out there and interacting when he says, "Exploring the limits of this strange apparent interior, consciousness itself and its necessary negotiation of inside and outside, is life's main task."--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: Concrete Reveries is an exhilarating trip for lovers of cities, sparking thoughts about everything from usually ignored thresholds to the thrill of crowded avenues and fascinating strangers.

 


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