Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank You Booksellers For Making Our Award-Winning Books a Success!

St. Martin's Press: Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina by Chris Franz

Walker Books: The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One) by Joseph Elliott

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha


Notes: A Rare Shop; Charlotte Bookstores and the Economy

Dragon Books, Bel Air, Calif., is "the kind of place you'd never expect to find in a strip mall--a lavishly decorated, uniquely-stocked rare books store," according to the Examiner. "Whether you're a collector looking to add to your stash or simply curious to see what a bookstore not named Borders or Barnes & Noble looks like, Dragon Books is an unexpected and inspirational experience."


Charlotte Creative Loafing sounded out booksellers in the North Carolina city about the current business climate and found that while they are struggling, those offering used books are faring somewhat better.

David Friese, co-owner of the Bookmark, said business is "crummy, and that's putting it mildly. . . . Things have to turn around. They might not have to turn around tomorrow, but they have to turn around soon. We certainly can't hold out for two more years. I don't know if we can hold out a year."

"These are the toughest economic times I've ever been through," said Sally Brewster, co-owner of Park Road Books. "It was a little rough after 9/11, but nothing like what's happened this time around, because this affected every aspect of the industry. The credit crunch has hit everybody." Brewster, who has hired an additional staff person for the holiday season, believes great service will help the shop succeed: "At our store, you know that people have selected the books, they know the books, and they're more than willing to give recommendations. Sometimes you have to shut us up, in fact. We're not just clerks ringing up an item." She also offered high praise for the city, saying, "Charlotte's been wonderful to us, and we want to stay here."

For used booksellers, however, the news is a bit less dire. "When times get a little hard, people come here rather than going to Borders," said Richard Rathers of Book Buyers. "So we're almost recession-proof. I've heard that, and our sales basically support that."


Operating on the theory that "reading a book starts with a single page," Charles Chatmon is chasing his dream of opening a bookshop by taking his mobile bookstore to the farmers market in downtown Vallejo, Calif., every Saturday, the Times-Herald reported.

"We want a permanent space for book discussions and workshops," said Chatmon, "We just want it to be exciting in Vallejo."


Barnes & Noble has signed a lease agreement to open a new location, in the Christiana Mall in Newark, Del. The store is expected to open in November 2009.


The art of naming your celebrity child:

Seen by intrepid reporter Jenn Risko: in the US magazine with President-elect Obama and his wife on the cover, "the new celeb baby name of the week" is Enzo.

Congratulations to the parents--and Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, Enzo's story.


A "huge election bounce" has given President-elect Barack Obama's two books new life on the bestseller lists, according to USA Today, which reported that "Brookings Institution analyst Stephen Hess can't think of another president-elect to hit the bestseller list."

"Obama's books, especially his memoir, stand apart," said Hess. "Books by candidates usually have a short political life, not a literary life."

USA Today's bestseller list, which will be published in Thursday's edition, shows:

  • The Audacity of Hope, his 2006 book on politics and faith, is No. 8, up from No. 43.
  • Dreams From My Father, Obama's 1995 memoir, reissued in 2004, is No. 9, up from No. 56.



G.P. Putnam's Sons: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Books as the Best Gifts: Three Campaigns

Great minds gift alike.

Several groups and people in the industry--from Random House to a range of bloggers--are concluding that, as M.J. Rose, author most recently of The Memorist, puts it on her blog, "we need to shout that books are still reasonably priced as gifts rather than whisper it. We can't just hope consumers get the message."

In Rose's case, she aims to put into effect two lessons she learned in advertising: that 1) "no one can buy something if they don't know it exists and no one can adopt a new idea if they aren't exposed to it," and 2) "while word of mouth is the most effective advertising tool there is you need to advertise to get the early adopters to know about the product/idea so they can try it and then spread that word." Thus, through, she is creating a holiday campaign to run for a month, starting right after Thanksgiving, that will "deliver a half a billion impressions across some of the most popular blogs and reach over 10 million people."

Altogether 24 books will be featured, appearing on the blogs on a rotating basis and be highlighted in a variety of ways such as under the theme "perfect gifts for under $19." Anyone can run the ads or a generic version of "buy books." Rose plans to adopt the campaign to other holidays.


Several book bloggers have started a movement to buy only books as gifts for the holiday season. Postings on include book recommendations, excellent cheerleading about the value of books, a pledge to buy only books as gifts, a signup section and more.


Last but not least, Random House is launching a "books=gifts" campaign that will run in a range of consumer publications such as the New York Times Book Review and the New Yorker as well as on its own websites and in ads on Facebook and YouTube and in e-mail blasts to various lists, including Random House's Special Offers list, among other vehicles.

Authors including Bill O'Reilly, Dan Brown, Deepak Chopra and Chris Paolini will be part of the campaign. Dean Koontz will say, "Books make great gifts because your friends and family need something thrilling to read other than their 401(k) report." Maya Angelou's message is: "Books make great gifts because they're a celebration of family and friendship."


Running Press: Thank You! Now on Instagram!

Media and Movies

Movies: Quantum of Solace and Slumdog Millionaire

Quantum of Solace, based on the short story by Ian Fleming, opens this Friday, November 14. Daniel Craig stars as the newest incarnation of British secret agent James Bond, and Judi Dench plays M. Penguin has the movie tie-in edition ($15, 9780143114581/0143114581).


Slumdog Millionaire, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup and directed by Danny Boyle, opens today. There are two versions: the movie tie-in, called Slumdog Millionaire (Scribner, $15, 9781439136652/1439136653), and Q&A (Scribner, $15, 9780743267489/0743267486).


BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH

Media Heat: Alex & Irene Pepperberg

Today on Fresh Air: Irene Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process (Collins, $23.95, 9780061672477/0061672475).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: John Updike whose new book is The Widows of Eastwick (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307269607/0307269604).

The show also offers a tribute to the late Michael Crichton.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: T. Boone Pickens, author of The First Billion Is the Hardest (Crown Business, $26.95, 9780307395771/0307395774).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jose Andres, author of Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307382634/030738263X).

Also on the Today Show: Jon Meacham, author of America Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House (Random House, $30, 9781400063253/1400063256).


Tomorrow morning on Live with Regis and Kelly: Don Rickles, author of Rickles' Letters (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416596639/1416596631).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: An American Bookworm in Paris, Part IV with Grégoire Bouillier, author of The Mystery Guest: An Account (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $12.95, 9780618959709/061895970X) and Report on Myself (Mariner, $13.95, 9780618968619/061896861X); Olivier Cadiot, author of Colonel Zoo (Green Integer, $11.95, 9781933382548/1933382546); and Marc Cholodenko, author of Mordechai Schamz (Dalkey Archive). As the show put it: "Finally at ease in Paris, the Bookworm encounters three French novelists and attempts to navigate the tangle of philosophy, artifice, intertextuality and hilarity that exemplifies the art of the new French novel."


Tomorrow on the Tavis Smiley Show: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D.-Calif.), author of Renegade for Peace and Justice (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9780742558434/0742558436).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Bill O'Reilly, author of A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity (Broadway, $26, 9780767928823/0767928822).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger

Books & Authors

Awards: Giller Winner

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden has won the $50,000 (US$41,600) 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's major literary prize. The novel is Boyden's second.

The book is set in both northern Ontario and "the Ecstasy-fuelled modelling world of contemporary Manhattan," the Globe & Mail said. "The book has two alternating narrators--Will Bird, a Cree bush pilot (and the grandson of Xavier Bird, introduced in Three Day Road) who's in a coma in a hospital in Moose Factory after being pummelled by drug dealers, and Bird's niece, Annie, who until recently has been searching for her missing sister, Suzanne, a model in New York."

Boyden told the paper, "What I'm most excited by is being allowed to give voice to a segment of the first nations population that I'm so impassioned by and so in love with and so a part of." He said some of the prize money may go to creating "a fellowship for young students in Moose Factory and the Georgian Bay area, native students, to help them get into university."


Book Brahmin: John Addiego

John Addiego was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area among a large, extended Italian-American family. He's spent most of his adult years in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where he lives now with his wife, Ellen, and daughter, Emily, where he went to school--at the University of Oregon--and where he teaches high school students with special needs. His novel, The Islands of Divine Music, is being published on October 28 by Unbridled Books.

On your nightstand now:

So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger; Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (which I was reading until I got Enger's book and couldn't put it down); The New Kings of Non-Fiction edited by Ira Glass; A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong; Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Babe Ruth, Baseball Boy. I don't remember the author.

Your top five authors:

This is so hard. I guess my all-time favorites would be James Joyce, Saul Bellow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino and Ian McEwan. I'd put Joyce on the mound, McEwan at short and the other three in the outfield chasing the deep, lofty drives.

Book you've faked reading:

Finnegans Wake by Joyce. Started and abandoned it twice.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Essential Whitman selected by Galway Kinnell. Whitman has often been my refuge in the worst of times, and this particular selection by Kinnell among the various editions is transcendent.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Cosmic Engineers by Clifford D. Simak, written in 1950. Actually my daughter bought it for me because we are aficionados of a certain type of science fiction. The cover with the lizard man holding a pistol is noteworthy.

Book that changed your life:

Raintree County by Ross Lockridge. Read it in my youth when I was recovering from a knee injury, and somehow it changed everything.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm going with the first line from One Hundred Years of Solitude: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

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

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.


Book Review

Mandahla: Photography Gift Books

Equus by Tim Flach (ABRAMS, $60.00 Hardcover, 9780810971424, October 2008)

This could be the most stunning book of horse photography available: 200 full-color illustrations, ranging from photographs taken in the wild to studio settings, of familiar breeds like the Arabian or Appaloosa to the more exotic, like the Rajasthani Marwari--known as the warrior horse, its lyre- or scimitar-shaped ears can rotate more than 180 degrees. The blond and caramel Austrian Haflinger is photographed against Tyrolean clouds and peaks, looking mythical and starkly romantic. The Norwegian Fjords, whose brush-cut silver manes are marked with a center dark streak, forage in belly-deep snow. A close-up of a French Poitou donkey grooming her shaggy, matted hair looks eerily like a dreadlocked lion. A dark Arabian colt nursing from its snowy mother, an American Paint colt emerging from its placenta, a white-lashed black Arabian eye, horses tossing Rapunzel-like manes, the white-marble sculpture of a Holstein's arched neck with braided mane--the images are powerful, delicate and mysterious.

The Last Polar Bear photographed by Steven Kazlowski (Braided River/Mountaineers, $39.95, 9781594850592/1594850593, February 2008)

The subtitle of The Last Polar Bear is Facing the Truth of a Warming World, and the message truly is urgent; scientists say that by the end of this century polar bears will be the first mammals to face extinction due to global warming: with the rapid weakening of edge ice, bears are finding themselves stranded on land or on ice floes miles out to sea. The magnificent photographs are supplemented by text from seven authors and the photographer's journal and include the Arctic panorama of a white arctic fox leaping into the air against lavender-colored snow; Iñupiak hunters on a gray sea; aqua blue pack ice forming a crystalline landscape. But the polar bears dominate, from the first shot of a cub on its back, playing in the peach-colored sunset, to a sow and her cub sliding on the ice in perfect tandem, to bears braving the wind (which "sounds as though the skin of the earth is being pulled off"), to a male guarding his meal of a bowhead whale carcass, beautifully, brutally red in the soft light of a sunrise.

Time Wearing Out Memory: Schoharie County photographed by Steve Gross and Susan Daley, foreword by Jeffrey Lent (Norton, $49.95, 9780393066449/0393066444, May 2008)

This "rediscovery of an American landscape" was, like The Last Polar Bear, published early in the year, but also deserves a place on your Fall gift book table. Haunting black-and-white photographs of Schoharie County, in central New York, depict an agrarian area that is the oldest continuously farmed community in the state. Much of the area is in decline. The Breakabeen General Store's Greek Revival porch sports an incongruous Corona banner; the 1815 Dutch reformed Church looks close to collapse; magnificent trees with wide branches seem to protect the decaying buildings; an overgrown porch window in Patchin Hollow waits for a ghostly face to pull back a curtain. The evocative black-and-white format gives each picture a stormy, brooding-sky look; even when lit by sunlight, they seem to be negative images. It's the perfect way to capture the melancholy and elegance of the place--in the eloquent words of Jeffrey Lent, "the determined yet weary lines of the houses and barns."--Marilyn Dahl


Deeper Understanding

Opening Doors on Q

Do you remember where you were when you first heard Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon"? Did you grow up listening to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? Do you watch the Oprah Winfrey Show? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your life has been touched by Quincy (aka "Q") Jones.

This holiday season, you can sift through his scrapbook, The Complete Quincy Jones: My Journey & Passions (Insight Editions, $45, 9781933784670/1933784679), published yesterday. A self-proclaimed pack rat, Mr. Jones allows readers to peek at his report card (nearly all A's) from the Schillinger House in Boston (later renamed the Berklee College of Music), which he attended on scholarship in the 1950s, to sample recording dates and accounting entries from his years as a producer (yes, amounts are included!), and to see the final vocal takes for "We Are the World," with a lyrics sheet marked for who would sing which phrases, as well as a facsimile of an invitation to the 1994 inauguration of Nelson Mandela, autographed by many of the attendees (including then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, Congressman John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Jackson and General Colin Powell). The memorabilia charts his rise from a gifted trumpet player getting his start in Seattle, Wash., to a global humanitarian.

Quincy Delight Jones, Jr., was born on the South Side of Chicago on March 14, 1933. His mother suffered from dementia and was institutionalized when Jones was seven years old. His father, Quincy D. Jones, was a skilled carpenter who was denied work because of racist practices. After turning to black gangsters for work, the carpenter found himself having to flee Chicago abruptly when his "employers" were run out of town by Al Capone. Jones's father plucked his boys from the barber shop chair and took them to the bus stop They were soon bound for Seattle, which at the  time was a hotbed for jazz musicians. Jones formed what would turn out to be many lifetime friendships there, with the likes of Ray Charles, Clint Eastwood, and the great Lionel Hampton, as well as many of the musicians that would come through Hampton's band.

Extremely well read, Jones scatters potent quotations throughout his life's narrative. One of them is his advice to young people, words he took to heart from the book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: "The statute of limitations has expired for all childhood traumas." Jones then adds, "Get over it and get on with your life . . . Some of our most successful people have had some terrible childhoods." Most of the developments in his career were direct results of serendipity. Breaking into a recreation center with a gang of teenage friends seeking some lemon meringue pie, he discovers a piano in the supervisor's office, which eventually leads him to the trumpet. Years later, stranded in Europe after taking his band there and trying to get all the musicians back home, Jones had to get an advance against his royalties and go to work for Mercury Records in 1961--which started him on his path to producer. And, after not one but two aneurysms in the brain in 1974, Jones was told never to play the trumpet again. "Although I miss playing, you have to keep going," he told Shelf Awareness.  "I remember my doctors telling me after I had started to recover from the operations to get right back to work. And that's exactly what I did." He went on to produce Michael Jackson's Off the Wall and Thriller, the film The Color Purple (for which he cast Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey); and has founded Quincy Jones Entertainment, Qwest Broadcasting, Vibe magazine and the Quincy Jones Foundation. He has won nearly as many humanitarian awards as he has prizes for his musical and production achievements.
France, which Jones said kept jazz alive when the U.S. was not yet ready for an African-American-led sound, awarded him its highest accolade, the Legion d'Honneur Commandeur, on March 26, 2001. Jones adopted France as his country for several years in the late 1950s, studying with renowned music teacher Nadia Boulanger, from whom he learned the importance of music's history. "There's twelve notes, that's all," Jones writes. "And Nadia Boulanger says, learn what everybody's done with those twelve notes, 'cause they're the same notes.' " The same could be said of human history writ large, as far as Jones is concerned. Jones includes a letter in his book written by Alex Haley, with whom Jones collaborated for Roots, describing what Haley felt the duo's role is in "Phase III of the Struggle (Phase I having been the survival through slavery and what followed; Phase II the 1960s.) Current Phase III's needs include that we as a people begin producing the kinds of things, of various natures, which--via media in your and my case--will influence the rest of the world's people toward improving their private views and imagings of Black people . . . which will start to open more of the doors that are yet subtly kept closed."
Today as the United States stands ready to inaugurate our country's first African-American president, the doors seem to be springing wide open. "There will never be enough words to explain the mountain of emotions that Barack Obama's election elicits," Jones told Shelf Awareness. "No one can really fathom how far we've come, how much blood has been spilled, how much mental and physical pain has been endured, unless you lived through it. There are so many people who I wish could've seen this day, especially my father.  I think Whoopi Goldberg summed it up best when she said 'I've always felt like an American, but I finally feel like I can put my suitcase down now.' "--Jennifer M. Brown


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