Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 23, 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

Letters

Rep and Two Others Open RiverRead Books

Penguin rep Connie Barnes, one of the owners of the new store RiverRead Books, writes:

RiverRead Books is a 1,600-sq.-ft. store on the banks of the Chenango River in Binghamton, N.Y. We are in a college community that has an abundance of authors, artists, musicians and playwrights as well as scientists, environmentalists, philosophers and of course, us plain folk. There are three owners--Patricia Hutchinson-Day, Jane Stuart-Andrus and Connie Barnes--all moms who met when our daughters were in middle school. Those girls (and all of our other children) have now graduated from college, and we have time to spend on the store. All three of us have been very active in the community for many years and wanted to embrace what we hope is a resurging downtown district. We each have our own area of book and business expertise and complement each other nicely. It took us a year to plan and design the store and the community has responded with many thank yous all day long.
 
We opened on October 3 with an author event and art exhibit. (We designed the store with plenty of gallery space so that we could feature a new artist every month during the community's First Friday gallery walk.) We offer our space to book groups, writing workshops, community groups and more. We will feature author events, book symposiums, literary, poetry and dramatic readings, family story hours and children's events. We will also have hobby groups. The store includes a lower level of the same square footage and we hope, by next year, to build an office and a large meeting room on that level.

Another thing that makes us stand out is that we tried to be as environmentally conscious as possible with our design and thinking. The library lights are all compact fluorescent, any track and can lights are on dimmers, etc. We rarely have to turn the furnace on because we have lots of wonderful sunlight and will be installing shades to draw after closing to hold the heat in. In addition, we will offer coffee, tea and cold drinks. We decided not to have any disposables so one of the partners, Jane, and her potter friends made 100 mugs for the store. We also wanted to encourage people to bring their own shopping bags. The first 100 readers who signed up for our loyalty program received a handmade cloth shopping bag with our logo sewn on. (The fabrics came from our sewing closets, and several people from the community volunteered to sew the bags). We also sell cloth bags from Envirosax. We rarely offer a paper bag, although we do have some (but never plastic!)
 
As in Danny Meyer's book, Setting the Table, we have done just that and the community is responding!

 


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


News

Notes: Jeffery Amherst Bows Out; Book Group Expo

Jeffery Amherst Bookshop & College Store, Amherst, Mass., is closing its doors in the next few weeks. Howard and Joy Gersten, who have owned the store since 1978, are retiring and were unable to find a buyer.

The store was founded in 1937.

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This coming Saturday and Sunday the third annual Book Group Expo takes place in San Jose, Calif., "part literary salon, part marketplace, and part marvelous party." Besides the literary salons and author book signings, the show has a marketplace that features wine tasting, chocolate, gourmet treats, art, jewelry, specialty juices and book accoutrements. Among the 75 expected authors: Julia Glass, Terry McMillan, Ann Packer, Andre Dubus III, Marisa de Los Santos, Garth Stein and more.

At the show, Qlubb, which designs "Web solutions for real-life groups," is launching a free template for book clubs that includes online calendars, group e-mail, message boards, file sharing and more.

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In a front-page story, the New York Times discovers that urban fiction, which it calls "not the kind of fare usually associated with librarians," is a major draw in urban public libraries.

After getting over stereotypes, the paper notes that "urban fiction's journey from street vendors to library shelves and six-figure books deals is a case of culture bubbling from the bottom up."

In the early days of the phenomenon, some librarians bought the books on the street as readers began to ask for them. Joanne King of the Queens Library in New York City, commented: "If there's some cultural phenomenon going on out there and it's not in here, we want to know why."

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The Women's National Book Association is asking for nominations for the award formerly known as the Lucile Micheels Pannell Award and now known as the WNBA Pannell Award, which honors a general bookstore and a children's bookstore for working "within the community to instill the love of reading in young people." Each winner receives $1,000 and a framed piece of original art by a children's book illustrator; the awards will be presented at BookExpo America next year in New York City.

Those wishing to nominate a bookstore, even their own, should send the following by January 15 to mary.james@ingrambook.com: name of store, address and phone number of the store, contact person at the store with e-mail address and a sentence or two about why the store deserves the award.

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Judy Smith has joined BookSite as general manager. As BookSite put it, "independent bookselling is in her blood." Her father, George Gaylord, opened a Little Professor in Columbus, Ohio, in 1970 and at one point had 10 Little Professor stores in Ohio. John Gaylord, her brother, created the first Little Professor superstore and recently Liberty Books and News, Columbus, which has closed. (His Empire Books & News in Huntington, W.Va., continues in business.) Smith began working in the Gaylord stores when she was 15. She may be reached at 614-754-8852 or judy@booksite.com.

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"Many bookstores have displays devoted to politics," observed USA Today's Book Buzz section, "but not one book by or about the presidential candidates is among USA Today's top 50 best sellers less than two weeks before the election."

Swing state bookseller Shilough Hopwood of the Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., said, "Voters seem as polarized as they were four years ago, but that's not showing up in book sales. People may think it's all been talked out on the Web and other media."

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French author and Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio was code-named "Chateaubriand" by judges during their deliberations this year. The Telegraph reported that the "reputations of the Nobel Literature Prize judges have suffered a blow after the panel was revealed to have used a series of juvenile codenames to refer to the authors in contention for the accolade. . . . The judges avoid naming the writers during their deliberations, instead choosing bizarre titles including 'Little Dorrit' for the author Doris Lessing, and 'Harry Potter' for the playwright Harold Pinter."

 


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter


Amazon Sales, Income Rise; Forecasts Lowered

At Amazon.com, net sales in the third quarter ended September 30 rose 31% to $4.26 billion and net income rose 48% to $118 million.

The biggest news had to do with the company's prediction of future sales: it lowered estimates of net sales for the full year to somewhere between $18.46 billion and $19.46 billion from earlier estimates of between $19.35 billion to $20.10 billion.

Amazon also estimated that net sales in the fourth quarter will range between $6 billion and $7 billion. Earlier it had forecast sales of slightly above $7 billion.

As usual, the company gave only limited information about its operations. For example, while continuing not to divulge unit sales figures for the Kindle e-book reader, it said, "Kindle titles already account for more than 10% of unit sales for books that are available in both digital and print formats."

And book sales remain murky. Worldwide media, which includes books, music and movies, grew 19% to $2.49 billion.

 


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


Cool Idea of the Day: Blue Willow Helping School Libraries

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., is becoming "command center" for a nationwide book drive to replace books in three local school libraries that lost most of their collections because of damage caused by Hurricane Ike. Owner Valerie Koehler said that booksellers, publishers and others are helping the effort, which she is making with her staff, area student organizations and scout troops. She hopes to collect more than 1,000 books by December 1 to deliver to Anahuac High School, Alief Hastings 9th Grade Center and Brazosport Intermediate School.

For more information, including needed titles and how to help, see the bookstore's Ike Relief page.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Whoopi and Her First Sugar Plum Ballerinas Book

Today on Good Morning, America and Live with Regis and Kelly: Whoopi Goldberg, author of Sugar Plum Ballerinas: Plum Fantastic (Disney/Jump at the Sun, hardcover $14.99, 9781423111733/1423111737; paperback $4.99, 9780786852604/0786852607). The book will also be mentioned on the View, where Goldberg is a host.

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Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Paul Krugman, Nobel economics prize winner.

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Naomi Wolf, author of Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries (S&S, $13.95, 9781416590569/1416590560).

 


This Weekend on Book TV: The Limits of Power

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, October 25

10 a.m. Best of the Best from the University Presses. Five librarians from across the country discuss their favorite recent books published by university presses.
 
12 p.m. Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton, $35, 9780393064773/0393064778), profiles the lineage of the family of Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's mistress.

5 p.m. William Phelps, author of Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.95, 9780312376413/0312376413), recounts the life of the captain in George Washington's army who spied on the British during the Revolutionary War. (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1992, Paul Brace and Barbara Hinckley, co-authors of Follow the Leader: Opinion Polls and the Modern Presidents, discussed the effect of opinion polling on the Oval Office.

7 p.m. For an event hosted by Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., David Moore, author of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls (Beacon Press, $23.95, 9780807042328/0807042323) and formerly with Gallup, talks about the flaws in our polling system. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)
     
10 p.m. After Words. Ivan Eland interviews Andrew Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power (Metropolitan Books, $24, 9780805088151/0805088156). Bacevich argues that the U.S. is headed down the road to ruin because of its willingness to live beyond its means and to engage in endless war to preserve power. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m.)

Sunday, October 26

11 a.m. Charles Jones, author of Red, White, or Yellow?: The Media and the Military at War in Iraq (Stackpole, $24.95, 9780811704021/0811704025), examines motivations and biases in the media's coverage of the Iraq War. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Australia-Asia Literary Award Long List

Among the 12 books on the long list of the inaugural $110,000 (US$73,942 ) Australia-Asia Literary Award, Australia's richest book prize, are J.M. Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year, Janet Turner Hospital's Orpheus Lost, David Malouf's The Complete Stories, Haruki Murakami's After Dark, Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Michelle de Krester's The Lost Dog, Rodney Hall's Love without Hope and Alex Miller's Landscape of Farewell.

"The award is open to any book-length work pushed electronically or in print," according to the Australian, and "authors must either reside in Australia or Asia or set their work in Australia or an Asian country, either write or have their works translated into English and have been published in the last year." A six-book short list will be released October 30.

 


Children's Book Review: Here Lies Arthur

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve (Scholastic, $17.99, 9780545093347/0545093341, 352 pp., ages 12-up, November)

Just when you thought the world possessed more than its share of Arthurian legend retellings, along comes Reeve's (the Mortal Engines series) take, a skeptical view well suited to our troubled times. His Merlin, here called Myrrdin, is no sorcerer; Myrrdin derives his powers as a bard. He remakes Arthur's bloody exploits as acts of bravery--he is a medieval spin doctor. Arthur travels about the countryside extracting "tributes" in treasure or livestock, as payment to ward off the threat of the Saxons (who have posed no threat in these parts for quite some time). We meet the narrator, Gwyna, after the farmer to which she is indentured has been killed and the farm destroyed by flames when her master repudiates his debt to Arthur. After Gwyna's impressive escape, swimming for a prolonged distance underwater, Myrrdin fancies her for a scheme he's cooking up, and Gwyna finds herself as (what Arthurian aficionados will recognize as) the Lady of the Lake, handing Arthur a sword from watery depths so he may charm a band of Irishmen. Even Arthur believes it was magic. Myrrdin, pleased with his trick, disguises his accomplice as a boy named Gwyn and keeps her as his assistant.

With that, the scales fall from her eyes, which makes Gwyna an ideal chronicler of events: she relates famous tales of the Round Table devoid of glitter and with the force of gravity. But Gwyn also gets swept up in Myrrdin's tales, "For a moment, the real Arthur and the story Arthur are one and the same, and we know that we are all part of the story, all of us." As Gwyna's true gender begins to show itself, Myrrdin finds a way to have her return to Arthur's lands as a girl, and once again, her experiences inform her incisive observations: "I remembered the way that [they] had talked about girls. How hard they thought of girls' bodies and how little of their feelings. . . . They respected horses better." Gwyna's plight is not easy; she is used as a pawn by those who'd once been kind to her. Ever after, she recognizes when others trump up circumstances to puff up Arthur's stature ("Not even a real war, but one made up to serve Arthur's purposes, a needless, reasonless war, spun out of lies," she observes at a crucial juncture). Reeve's retelling of an ancient tale imparts myriad modern-day lessons. Every once in a while Gwyna notes to readers that she is the one telling this story, the novel itself, as we watch her take the reins from Myrrdin. Most of all, she reminds us that facts exist to be bent to the will of the best storyteller, and to be ever mindful of what larger purpose the story may serve.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Seeking Venture Capital for FunReads Bookshop

With more than a hundred recommendations received thus far here at Fun Book Central, our list has become impressively long-tailed (with apologies to Chris Anderson). So if anybody wants to pony up some venture capital in this thriving economy, have I got a niche bookstore concept for you--FunReads Bookshop.

The clear leader (the head of the long tail, as it were) at this point is author Christopher Moore. Sue Gazell of BookMan, Nashville, Tenn., calls him "my pick for fun fiction, hands down. He's a scream. My favorite is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal."

Exclamation points flying, Alice Meyer of Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, Iowa, is just one of many readers who agree: "Christopher Moore! Especially, after I get 'a sense of the wind and the water', Lamb."

Angela Cozad of Lafayette Book Store, Lafayette, Calif., adds, "Here are a couple of titles that I like to promote as fun: Christopher Moore's Lamb and Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. They are only by coincidence a religious theme but they are hilarious. Definitely laugh out loud. Another fun book is Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. Lots of fun!"
 
While conceding that, "as you said, it's all subjective, this idea of a 'fun' read," PGW sales rep Cindy Heidemann recommends "any Christopher Moore." Her list also features The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar, Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

And Aaron Curtis of Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., offers the following "faithfuls": "Christopher Moore's Lamb, if they don't take religion too seriously; Carl Hiaasen's Sick Puppy, if they don't take animal rights and environmentalism too seriously; Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series--seriously. If they really want to be just silly about the whole thing, then I'll recommend Mario Acedvedo's X-Rated Blood Suckers . . . if they don't take porn and vampires too seriously."

If Moore is at the top of the list in terms of popular vote, perhaps the dark horse candidate is Jonathan Tropper, whose novel, The Book of Joe, has been cited by many, including Carol Schneck of Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich. She calls it one of "two that never fail," along with Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo.

Come to think of it, where is Russo? That's what author Linda Urban (formerly of Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.) wonders: "Nobody has yet mentioned Straight Man by Richard Russo? My all-time favorite funny book. Still plenty of depth and literary showmanship, but at the gut-level a flat-out hilarious read."

Urban reminds us not to forget "middle grade novels for a good laugh! Many are written with as much depth and insight as novels for grown-ups, but young people's writers are some of the best at mixing in the humor. Two of my favorites are Sue Stauffacher's Donuthead and Gary Paulsen's Lawn Boy. (There's a little lesson in the stock market for Lawn Boy readers that may make it especially timely--although maybe a little less funny.) For even younger readers, Sara Pennypacker's Stuart's Cape is filled with the sort of surreal humor that grown-ups love in Terry Pratchett, while Christopher Paul Curtis's Mr. Chickee series is sure to be a hit with dads and sons who bond over a good joke."

Speaking of Pratchett, he's been getting plenty of attention here as well. Deborah Andolino of Aliens & Alibis Books, Columbia, S.C., says "his books are wonderful--and laugh-out-loud funny. Pratchett's audience is growing in the U.S., which I am happy to see."

Read "just about anything in the Discworld," suggests Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press. "If readers are willing to give this a shot (and after the Lord of the Rings films we know that millions of people know who elves and dwarfs and so on are), they'll find rich characters facing a challenging and changing world. Filled with one-liners."

Suzanne Schwalb, editor at Peter Pauper Press, concurs: "How about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books? They make me laugh out loud. Some of the most fun I've had reading (or listening to them in audio form) since giggling over Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a child."

Perhaps giggling over books is a good prescription for readers of any age. Another Pratchett fan, Stephanie Anderson of the Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem Pa., adds that "if YA counts here, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is easily one of the top three funniest books I read in the last few years. I had to keep putting it down so I wouldn't lose my place when I was laughing!"

Imagine opening a bookstore just for laughs. Funny money indeed.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


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