Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Forge: Empire of Lies by Raymond Khoury

imon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Becoming Rbg: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner

St. Martin's Press: Cilka's Journey: A Novel by Heather Morris

Park Row: The Ventriloquists (Original) by E.R. Ramzipoor

Henry Holt & Company: Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "the Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman

Other Press: Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

News

Cool Idea of the Day: Celebrating Constitution Day

In honor of Constitution Day, which is today, the UConn Co-op, Storrs, Conn., is hosting an appearance by Harvard Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree, who will sign All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown v. Board of Education before speaking elsewhere on the University of Connecticut campus. The store is also hosting an appearance by media attorney Dan Klau and the Associated Press's Stephanie Reitz, who will discuss the First Amendment as it applies to freedom of the press and journalists, particularly protecting sources. (The appearance by Klau and Reitz is part of a program that the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is sponsoring with the Media Law Resource Center (Shelf Awareness, July 23, 2008). The 23 events, which bring reporters to bookstores to discuss how the Internet is changing journalism, began this summer and continue through November.)

And the Penn Bookstore at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, has a window display highlighting "books about the Constitution and featuring Penn faculty authors," as the University of Pennsylvania Almanac put it. (Elsewhere on campus one professor is talking about Supreme Court decisions and a voter registration drive is being held.)

 


Amulet Books: Minor Prophets by Jimmy Cajoleas


Notes: New Chapter at Book Ends; Frugal Frigate Conference

Book Ends, Mansfield, Mass., closed this week, according to WickedLocal.com, but owner June Moore aims to keep the business alive by continuing the monthly book club, summer reading programs and events, including its role in Attleboro's Big Read program, as well as offering some of the following: online ordering, a delivery service and a summary of reading suggestions and new books.

Moore, who bought the store two years ago from Doreen Tighe, said that the arrival of a Borders nearby and online retailers had hurt the store.

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The Frugal Frigate bookstore, Redlands, Calif., is holding its second annual children's literature conference, on Saturday, September 27, at the landmark Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside, where it held its first conference.

The program, geared to lovers of children's literature, focuses on children's authors and illustrators. Those making appearances include Nikki Grimes, Graeme Base, Sonya Sones, Paul Brewer, Diane Adams and Frank Beddor. Jason Wells, director of marketing and publicity at Harry N. Abrams, will speak on "getting your book published," Frugal Frigate owner Brad Hundman said.

During the conference each author makes a presentation and then has time to visit with attendees and sign books. Hundman called the program this year "a wonderful lineup and lots of fun."

The cost per person is $120 and includes a Mexican lunch and three free books. Hundman said that the event "takes into account the economic times and still helps the children's book industry and literacy and literature."

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Two renovated University of Texas at San Antonio bookstores are being dedicated today, UTSA Today reported. The Follett stores have new lighting, modernized fixtures and accessories, resized departments and a flexible merchandise plan, among other changes.

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Brian Vaccarino has joined Baker & Taylor as an inside sales representative. He will work in the Charlotte, N.C., office and provide sales support to bookstores in upstate New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. He formerly worked for Sauder, Inc., a major wood and moldings distributor.

 

 


One ELM Books: Trevor Lee and the Big Uh Oh! by Wiley Blevins, illustrated by Marta Kissi


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sea Queens

Today on Talk of the Nation: Bob Woodward, author of The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Shakara Bridgers, author of The Get 'Em Girls' Guide to the Power of Cuisine: Perfect Recipes for Spicing Up Your Love Life (Fireside, $19.95, 9781416587767/1416587764).

Also on Today: Carolyn Bernstein, author of The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health (Free Press, $25, 9781416547686/1416547681).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Annie Proulx, whose new book is Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 (Scribner, $25, 9781416571667/1416571663). As the show put it, "Annie Proulx's new collection is a stew of tall tales, romantic sagebrush sagas, and genuinely affecting stories of survival on the range. She finds this same mixture of high and low, of passion and parody in Western ballads. Take Clementine, for instance: 'She is lost and gone forever, and her shoes were number nine.' "

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Christopher Lukas, author of Blue Genes: A Memoir of Loss and Survival (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385525206/0385525206).

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Tomorrow on Fresh Air: Larry C. James, author of Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib (Grand Central, $24.99, 9780446509282/0446509280).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Here and Now: Jane Yolen, author of Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World (Charlesbridge Publishing, $18.95, 9781580891318/1580891314).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth about Cheating: Why Men Stray and What You Can Do to Prevent It (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470114636/0470114630).

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Tomorrow on Live with Regis and Kelly: Ty Pennington, author of Good Design Can Change Your Life (S&S, $25, 978074329474/0743294742).

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Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: publishing veteran Gail Rentsch, author of Smart Women Don't Retire--They Break Free: From Working Full-Time to Living Full-Time (Springboard Press, $24.99, 9780446580915/0446580910).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Bernard-Henri Levy, author of Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (Random House, $25, 9781400064359/140006435X).

 


Ecco Press: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha


Books & Authors

Awards: Giller Prize Long List

The long list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize includes three former winners of the Canadian prize for literary fiction, the Globe & Mail reported. In all, 15 authors were named. That group will be winnowed down to five on October 7, and the winner will be announced November 11.

 


NCIBA & SCIBA: Holiday Catalog


Book Brahmin: Roger Martin

Roger Martin, author of Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again, published this month by the University of California Press, is a retired college president (Randolph-Macon) and university dean (Harvard) who enrolled for five months as a freshman at St. John's College, Annapolis, Md., which emphasizes the classics. Today he is president of the British Schools and Universities Foundation in New York City and works as a higher ed consultant. He lives with his wife, Susan, in Mamaroneck, N.Y., where he can be visited online at rogermartin.blogspot.com. He takes a break from a busy retirement to answer questions we like to ask of authors.

On your nightstand now:

Colin Thubron's In Siberia. It's 90 degrees outside; plus I love reading travel books.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I didn't read much as a child and paid for it later on. But one of my earliest memories is reading Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli, which opened my eyes to history and to the world.

Your top five authors:

Homer, Plato, Herodotus, Plutarch and Aeschylus. Having had very little interest as a student in Greek literature and philosophy, I got to read these authors in my early 60s and only then realized how much I had missed.

Book you've faked reading:

Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics (all 14 volumes), which I was required to read in Divinity School. To impress my professors and fellow students, I went to public places like the university library and pretended to be reading it. But I was actually sound asleep.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Derek Bok's Our Underachieving Colleges. Bok's thinking about higher education in America is quite profound.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics. All 14 volumes sit prominently on my bookshelf at home, and friends and colleagues who visit think that I am very smart.

Book that changed your life:

The Bible. It's not only great literature, but continually inspires me to be a better person.

Favorite line from a book:

A great line in Unseasonable Truths: The Life of Robert Maynard Hutchins, Harry Ashmore's wonderful biography of the fabled president of the University of Chicago, says it all for college presidents like myself: "A university president has at least five constituencies: the faculty, the trustees, the students, the alumni, and the public. He could profitably spend all his time with any one of the five. What he actually does, of course, is to spend just enough with each of the five to irritate the other four."

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

I don't mean to overplay the Great Books theme, but the book I would read again for the first time is Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War. Written almost 2,500 years ago, it is about (among other things) the downfall of Athens when it tried unsuccessfully to impose its political and social values on the rest of the known world. This book is a "must read" for whoever gets elected the next President of the United States!

 


Starscape Books: Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby



Book Review

Book Review: The Watercooler Effect

Watercooler Effect: A Psychologist Explores the Extraordinary Power of Rumors by Nicholas DiFonzo (Avery Publishing Group, $24.95 Hardcover, 9781583333259, September 2008)



Nicholas DiFonzo, a Rochester Institute of Technology professor of psychology, has spent more than 15 years studying, listening to and writing about rumors. That's a tremendous amount of hearsay to sift through (one hates to imagine what his e-mail inbox must look like every morning), but DiFonzo is well up to the task. He neatly packages his research, including the results of several far-ranging studies, in The Watercooler Effect, an informative and highly readable account of the powerful influence rumors have in many areas of our lives.

One of this book's most appealing aspects is DiFonzo's ability to get straight to the point without sacrificing illustrative examples and detail. After defining the word "scuttlebutt" (a 19th-century nautical term for a ship's watercooler), DiFonzo states its fundamental purpose: for humans to connect with other humans and make sense of the world around them. Because we are essentially social creatures, rumor allows us to reach consensus, reaffirm our convictions and confirm that we are not alone. In times of great uncertainty and anxiety, rumors run rampant as people attempt to understand confusing and frightening situations. This type of rumor--a fear or "dread" rumor--is the most common and operates on scales both large (manmade or natural disasters) and small (whether a company is about to fold). Other types of rumors include wish rumors ("I heard that we're all going to receive huge year-end bonuses," for example), product rumors (what really goes into those bottles of Corona beer) and political/propaganda rumors (secret love child plus politician of your choice here).

DiFonzo explains that rumors have a viral quality (and not just on the Internet, which has certainly aided their rapid proliferation), spreading and flourishing within established social networks where they will find the greatest impact. Moreover, there is always an informational quality (however specious) to rumors and this differentiates them from gossip and urban legends (which are more like fully plotted campfire stories). DiFonzo offers a clear--and fascinating--explanation of the complicated cognitive processes we use to evaluate rumors and why we choose to pass them along. Not surprisingly, perhaps, people are generally unwilling to correct fallacious rumors once they've been disproved, which accounts for the staying power of some particularly pernicious rumors.
 
Full of examples familiar to anyone who has ever accessed the Internet or shared a watercooler conversation, DiFonzo's thoughtful book is both entertaining and informative. It's a good read--and you can spread that around.--Debra Ginsberg

Shelf Talker: An intriguing and thoroughly researched study of rumors and why the "grapevine" has always been a vital part of social interaction.

 


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