Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Bloomsbury YA: Dreamland (YA Edition): The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

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

Magination Press: Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Central Avenue Publishing: Into Captivity They Will Go by Noah Milligan

Carolrhoda Books: A Time Traveler's Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

Letters

Turning Children on to Reading

In response to a Quotation of the Day in yesterday's issue about "the real, urgent need to connect with children by age nine and turn them on to reading," Dan and Debbie Sullivan of the Book Oasis, Stoneham, Mass., write:

We wholeheartedly agree with this idea, if not younger than nine years old. Every summer we make a large effort to have as many books from as many area summer reading lists as possible. Most of these schools start their lists at 6th grade. It becomes painfully clear every year how many of these children have not read a book since their picture book days. Schools need to assign books from the 1st grade on. Kids also need to see their parents read books on a regular basis and not be discouraged by parents when they choose a book the parent feels is too long (we've actually had parents tell their children they should pick a shorter book).
 

Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


News

Oregon Baby Named After Parents' Favorite Bookstore

This could be the beginning of an interesting trend. Tattered Patterson? Northshire Stevens? The twins Barnes Bigelow and Noble Bigelow?

On October 3, Audrey DeKam and Kevin DeKam became the proud parents of Powell Finley DeKam, an 8 lb., 13 ounce boy who was named in honor of Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.

According to Powell's, "Audrey says nearly everyone they meet simply loves the name.  She writes, 'Conversations usually go like this: "Aw, he's cute. What's his name?" And I answer, "Powell. He's named for the bookstore." Their response, "Oh, I love that place!" ' "

The DeKams decided on the name when they found Powell in a baby name book and learned it means "alert."

Powell's father is a chemical technologist for Hewlett-Packard, and his mother is a freelance writer who has an MFA in creative writing and taught English and writing at Oregon State University. She described her perfect day as consisting of "sleeping in and then getting lost in Powell's Books for hours." But with Powell and his big brother, Elijah, 2, around the house, sleeping in is likely to go the way of the carriage trade bookstore--but surely the kids will enjoy visiting Burnside.

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Baby Loves the Five Senses by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan


Notes: Holiday Expectations; Robin's Retrenching

Isa Ventura, co-owner of the Purple Cow, a children's bookstore in Tooele, Utah, near Salt Lake City, told the Tooele Transcript Bulletin that she expects a good crowd for her store's first holiday season, saying, "We've been getting a lot of remarks that people are thrilled we're here and that they don't have to drive to Salt Lake anymore."

[Editor's note: For a detailed account of one store's approach to the holiday season and tough times, see Deeper Understanding below.]

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In October, online spending grew just 1%, its lowest rate since 2001, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to comScore, the biggest drop in sales online has been from "mid-to-lower income familes that make less than $50,000 a year." Higher-income consumers have increased spending online but not as much as in the past.

The trend "doesn't bode well" for Amazon.com and eBay, among other large online retailers, the Journal added. 

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Robin's Book Store, Philadelphia, Pa., is closing its street-level retail store and ceasing to sell most new books, effective January 31.

But owner Larry Robin, whose grandfather founded the store in 1936, emphasized that he is not going out of business: he will continue to operate Robin's on the second floor of the building "with used books, selected new books, author events, poetry readings and other cultural presentations. I plan on increasing our web presence and continue to arrange author events at other venues. Arrangements have been made with the African American Museum of Philadelphia to present African American authors, Asian Arts Initiative to present Asian American authors, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to present authors of books on history, the Cosmopolitan Club and several other institutions. I have established a Crime Fiction Club with a Sunday brunch at an area restaurant and am working on other 'club' type book events."

Robin is canceling winter spring 2009 orders and accepting shipments only through Christmas. He asked publishers to continue sending catalogues and to keep the store's accounts open.

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Mansfield's Book Loft, Mansfield, N.J., offers "more than the average bookstore," according to the Warren Reporter. Owners Daryl and Anne Zinn "have put all their efforts into attaining, as Daryl puts it, the 'family feeling in a bookstore' that encourages literacy among parents and children."

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Revolutionary Grounds Books and Coffee, Tucson, Ariz., "is not the place for the red state, conservative crowd," the Tucson Citizen reported.

"We are a leftist political bookstore," said co-owner Joy Soler, adding, "We're not trying to bring on a communist revolution in Tucson. We're just trying to improve the world."

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The Pope has a bookstore. Catholic News Service reported that "Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI's top aide, spoke at the Nov. 18 opening of the Pope Benedict XVI International Bookstore just outside St. Peter's Square."

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The Lake County News-Sun showcased Paige Turner Books, Zion, Ill., and owner Donna Flammini, who said that when she and her husband, Frank, founded their business in 2004 at the site of the former Bickett's Pharmacy, "I knew I wanted it to be in that building, on that corner, and it had to be a bookstore."

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Effective next month, the University of Arkansas Press will be the exclusive distributor of Moon City Press, which is an imprint of the Missouri State University departments of English and Art and Design. The Press focuses on arts and letters and Ozarks history and culture. The books are full collaborations between students and faculty.

Spring titles from Moon City Press include For, From, About James T. Whitehead edited by Michael Burns, a collection of pieces about the novelist and poet who died in 2003 whose contributors include Jimmy Carter, C.D. Wright, John Dufresne and Miller Williams; The Panther: Posthumous Poems by James T. Whitehead; and Living and Dying in West Texas: A Postmodern Scrapbook by Jim W. Corder.

 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Media and Movies

Movie: Twilight Dawns; Danish Girl Begins Filming in 2009

Twilight, based on the book by Stephenie Meyer, opens this Friday, November 21. Kristen Stewart stars as a teenage girl who falls in love with an immortal vampire. The movie tie-in edition is available from Little, Brown ($10.99, 9780316038386/0316038385).

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Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron will star in a film based on The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff (Penguin), according to E! Online. Kidman plays Einar Wegener, "the world's first male transsexual," and Theron plays Wegener's wife. The director is Anand Tucker, who directed Shopgirl. Filming begins in March. The novel first appeared in 2000.

 

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Sumokitty by David Biedrzycki


Media Heat: Another FDR Book

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: H.W. Brands, author of Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Doubleday, $35, 9780385519588/0385519583).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Denis Leary, author of Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking, $26.95, 9780670031603/0670031607).

Also on Today: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316017923/0316017922). He appears tomorrow, too, on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 and the Rachel Maddow Show.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594489990/1594489998). As the show put it, "What brought the indomitable Sarah Vowell to write a book about the Puritans? A couple of Thanksgiving episodes of the Brady Bunch and Happy Days, to be sure, but also her admiration for the Puritans' ability to sustain religious difference and still maintain community. It's a conversation about today's world in the guise of one about America's beginnings."

Vowell also appears tomorrow night on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

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Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Stephen Colbert. No book talk scheduled, but this should be amusing.

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Richard Belzer, author of I Am Not a Cop!: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416570660/1416570667). He will also appear tomorrow on the Howard Stern Show.

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and author of Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.95, 9780374166854/0374166854).

 


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum



Books & Authors

Awards: Governor General Winners

Among winners of the Canadian Governor General's Literary Awards are, for English-language fiction, The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci, and nonfiction, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army by Christie Blatchford.

For an account of Ricci's reaction and more, see CBC's story.

 


Book Review: Renegade for Peace & Justice

Renegade for Peace and Justice: Congresswoman Barbara Lee Speaks for Me (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9780742558434/0742558436, September 2008).

In a time of changing political winds, it's striking to read the autobiography of one person in politics--we hesitate to say politician--who has stayed remarkably true to her principles even when it's meant being the only member of Congress to vote against the bill authorizing the use of force following the September 11 attacks. In Renegade for Peace and Justice, Barbara Lee, who has represented Oakland, Calif., since 1998, tells a story that doesn't fit neatly into stereotypes. She had a traditional upbringing in Texas and California, growing up as an army brat in a hardworking, supportive, African-American family, and was raised as a Methodist and educated in Catholic schools (to avoid segregated public schools in El Paso). She has not had an easy life: she married and become a mother early on; she suffered in an abusive relationship; for a time lived on welfare as she raised two children alone; and she has faced what she calls "the twin hurdles of race and gender." But she thrived, inspired by Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Shirley Chisholm and others, becoming a social worker and developing an interest in politics as an arena that allows her to be an advocate for the underprivileged and downtrodden. The Black Panthers, whose hometown was Oakland, also influenced her deeply. (Surprisingly for some, she said that "the Panthers helped me become more loving toward everyone and took away some of my bitterness.") As a congresswoman, she has an approach to policy that is remarkably sensible. For example, she writes, "We need to get real about sex education. We should be teaching young people about abstinence, but that doesn't mean holding back information that can save lives and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies." She explains her prescient war vote: "I owed it to myself and my constituents to caution that we should not let our desire for vengeance lead us down the path of becoming the evil we deplore." In both her public and private life, religion remains her bedrock. She says, "I know that every challenge that God has given me has been a test, and no matter what the obstacle, He has never given me more than He thought I could handle." Lee's story, told in an earnest, almost reticent way, is startling: who would have thought that this person who has at times been vilified as a left-wing radical is trying to live what she was taught by nuns and in her Methodist Sunday school?--John Mutter

Shelf Talker: The surprising story of the Congresswoman best known for her vote against authorizing war after September 11.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Forgotten Patriots

Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War by Edwin Burrows (Basic Books, $27.50 Hardcover, 9780465008353, November 2008)



During the American Revolutionary War, British forces held the vast majority of Americans they captured in improvised New York City "prisons" or on prison ships at anchor in New York Harbor. "As many as 35,000 Americans died in the Revolutionary War of all causes; roughly half of these deaths were in the prisons and prison ships of New York City," Edwin Burrows writes in this examination of appalling abuses of American prisoners of war by the British. Combing through existing records and the popular contemporary narratives of Jabez Fitch, Ethan Allen and others, he finds the causes of the staggeringly high death rate among American prisoners (between 50%-70%): starvation (the British were stingy with limited provisions), inadequate clothing during harsh New York winters and the rapid spread of disease in filthy accommodations.

The British ignored repeated entreaties from George Washington and others for humane treatment for the Americans they held. "Even referring to captured Americans as prisoners of war was out of the question, lest it appear to concede the reality of American independence and the legitimacy of Congress," writes Burrows of the Catch-22 preventing any agreement. British officers regarded the American army as rebels and troublemakers, not fellow soldiers. Mistreatment of American prisoners of war continued unabated. As Burrows emphasizes, the arrogance, cruelty and brutality of the British during the War made Americans even more determined to sever all ties with Britain.

At the end of the war, there remained the tasks of reclaiming the bodies of those who died in British captivity, recognizing their sacrifices for the revolutionary cause and honoring their memories. As readers will learn, that process too was fraught: memorials for the dead were either modest and obscure or very long in coming (Brooklyn's Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument was dedicated in 1908). It is another of many sad stories in this important and harrowing book. Burrows reminds us that young America between 1782 and 1787 strove to negotiate international agreements to "treat future prisoners of war with the decency and humanity never accorded them by the British--that what set it apart from the former mother country was only the commitment to basic human rights." Now, in 2008, with our actions at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay starkly revealed, we have fallen far short of our Founding Fathers' values and goals for our new nation.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: Forgotten Patriots memorably reclaims those who sacrificed their lives in the American Revolution as captives of the British while it also focuses the spotlight on basic human rights for prisoners of war, in 1775 and now.

 


Deeper Understanding

Holiday Hum: Books & Crannies Gets Set for Season

It will be another two weeks before Books & Crannies, Middleburg, Va., is decked in greenery, lights and mistletoe, but behind the scenes co-owner Pat Daly is preparing for the season--devising gift suggestions, gearing up for the town's "Christmas in Middleburg" festivities and planning the store's holiday party.

For the first time, that party will be held offsite, at Barrel Oak Winery in nearby Delaplane. Headlining the event are several area authors, including Ellen Crosby, whose latest whodunit is The Bordeaux Betrayal, the third book in a mystery series set in the wine country around Middleburg, and Marc Leepson, the author of Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History and other historical tomes.

Crosby's and Leepson's page-turners are among the books Daly and her colleagues have included among their gift suggestions in Loudoun Magazine. Northern Virginia shoppers will find a plethora of ideas in the December issue, titles the Books & Crannies staff intends to handsell and display in the store as well. Other books with a local connection are Washington, D.C., baker Warren Brown's CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch, Vicky Moon's Equestrian Style and Susan McCorkindale's memoir, Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl, about her move from New York City to a farm in the Virginia countryside.

For younger readers, Books & Crannies is offering signed copies of T.A. Barron's The Hero's Trail: A Guide for a Heroic Life and is recommending his new fantasy tale, Merlin's Dragon. Robert Sabuda's pop-up book Peter Pan is a favorite as are Nathaniel Philbrick's The Mayflower and the Pilgrim's New World and Fancy Nancy: Let's Get Fancy Together!, a book accompanied by colorful accessories like butterfly barrettes and glittery sunglasses.

For fiction, staffers suggest David Baldacci's latest thriller, Divine Justice, and Katherine Neville's The Fire, the much-anticipated sequel to The Eight. "There's such a great variety coming out this season," said Daly. "Publishers have done a great job timing the release of books as we head into the holiday season."

Although sales have been down slightly this year, Daly is optimistic about the holiday season. "We have a strong community that's very supportive of our bookstore," she said. "They tend to be loyal to local businesses." Books & Crannies was featured in the Middleburg Life as part of the newspaper's coverage of a shop local campaign.

Daly expects holiday shopping to begin late this year, since Middleburg residents--evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats--spent much of the year focused on the presidential election and also are concerned about the economy. Shopping "started later last year than it had in the past, and we think this year will be no exception," Daly said. "Then we're expecting a frenzy. The inevitable is that you have to buy gifts. Books make great gifts, of course, and generally speaking they're not as expensive as many of the things that we all put on our Christmas lists."

This is Books & Crannies' second holiday season in its new location on Middleburg's main street, a move that Daly notes has been a boon for business. "Especially as business drops off because of the economy, we get a lot more traffic than we would have if we had stayed on the side street," she said. Two bay windows will soon beckon browsers with displays of books the store is touting for holiday gifts, one devoted to children's titles and the other a general selection.

To help get the season going, the town holds its annual "Christmas in Middleburg" festivities, which take place on Saturday, December 6, and include two parades, one in which participants are dressed for a hunt in bright red jackets and accompanied by hounds. Books & Crannies offers hot mulled cider and cookies in front of the store to passersby that day.

Throughout the season, the store offers free gift wrapping with a variety of styles and cookies and treats. Those who purchase $200 or more in books can bring them home in a complimentary canvas tote bag with a sketch of the store on it. The store sends personalized thank you notes to its best customers.

This year Daly is stocking less inventory, primarily due to the decision to scale back on school holiday book fairs. The fairs require an extensive variety of titles and substantial amounts of each one, noted Daly, an expensive outlay that necessitates significant use of the store's credit lines. Books & Crannies will be providing select titles for one book fair and donating a portion of the gross revenue to the school.

By contrast, Daly has been steadily increasing business-to-business sales. Books & Crannies uses publisher programs that provide additional discounting if stores order a minimum number of books on a nonrefundable basis and have them drop-shipped to corporate customers. Daly presents proposals to businesses suggesting books for employee gifts and other uses. The store's b-to-b customers include medical practices, which purchase books by the hundreds to give to patients.

Gloom-and-doom predictions about the economy and the retail environment aren't dampening enthusiasm at Books & Crannies. Said Daly, "We're really looking forward to the holidays."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


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