Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dutton Books: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls #2) by Hank Green

HP Piazza: Regain Control of Your Publishing Content - Register Now

Post Hill Press: Personality Wins: Who Will Take the White House and How We Know by Merrick Rosenberg and Richard Ellis

Walrus Publishing: I Will Be Okay by Bill Elenbark

Parson Weems Publisher Services - Click Here!


Notes: Family Bookstore in Chico; Charity Book Sale in N.Y.C.

"I wanted a family business, a place where the kids could come after school," Heather Lyon, owner of Lyon Books and Learning Center, Chico, Calif., told the Enterprise-Record in an interview celebrating the bookshop's fifth anniversary. "I found a book, What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson. It is the stories of people who have made big changes in their lives. The message is that you can find what you love to do while producing a living for yourself. It inspired me to open the bookstore."

She added that Lyon Books is much more than a just a retail store for her: "Family business is the backbone of American culture. It's a tough economy right now and independent book selling is a troubled segment of the retail industry. I always hope that people will think of the small, locally-owned business. It's OK that Wal-Mart is here, but we don't want it to be the only choice."
A Salt Lake Tribune report on Utah's declining job market included a brief interview with Jim Rosinus, general manager of Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore.

"People are just being really careful with their money," he said, adding that while the bookshop traditionally hires some extra help for the holiday season, "I don't think we'll need to do any at all."


Sherlock's Tomes, Bridgeton, N.J., may close early next year. Owners Jim Chiappardi and Linda Durkin Richardson told the Press of Atlantic City that, despite moving into a new space earlier this fall (Shelf Awareness, September 25, 2008), they weren't able to generate sufficient sales to stay in business.

"We have put in as much money into this city as we could comfortably afford," Durkin Richardson said. "We appreciate the customers we've had that have been loyal, but we can't just keep floating the store. We're just realistic."


The event staff of Olsson's, the Washington, D.C., area bookseller that closed in September, has started an offsite book event company called Offsitebooks Inc. Led by Alicia Greene, former marketing director and events coordinator at Olsson's, and Terence K. McCann, former CFO, Offsitebooks plans, it said, to expand the book event business by selling books at a variety of venues, from major institutions and law firms to nonprofits and private parties. It also will pursue business-to-business sales.

"One of the more successful areas of Olsson's was their offsite events," Greene said in a statement. "Our mission is to continue with that great tradition and build new relationships. We believe there is unmet demand in the Washington, D.C., area and we are excited to use our experience and love of books in a new venture."

Offsitebooks has already run events for Kerry Kennedy and Newt Gingrich, among others, and is booking events for this season and into next year.

For more information, contact or 202-321-8451;


Macomb, Ill., is growing, according to the Western Courier--the student newspaper ofr Western illinois University--which singled out a number of new businesses in the town, including "options here that are unavailable in other places. The Square has a new bookstore (Copperfield's), a used book store (the Book Post) . . . And these merchants offer something big-city or corporate merchants cannot: interpersonal relationships with their customers."

--- has named Independent Publishers Group, Macmillan and Random House Publisher Services as Amazon Books Distributors of the Year. The three were cited for "their exemplary work in helping build a world-class customer experience through operational excellence on behalf of their client publishers."

In a statement, Russell Grandinetti, v-p of books for, commented, "By working together, we're able to improve the rate at which their books are in stock on Amazon, lower prices through lowering operational costs and help customers find, discover and buy great books through programs such as Search Inside the Book, Kindle and print-on-demand."

Representatives for the winners noted that working with Amazon had led them to become more efficient and improve operations. As Mark Suchomel, president of IPG, put it: "The exchange of ideas and excellent communication between Amazon and IPG, as well as the high standards Amazon sets for data quality and throughout the supply chain, has helped IPG become a better company overall."


The publishing industry does its part for a charitable cause this coming weekend in New York City. Many publishing  folks, from execs to assistants, will man the tables at the annual Goddard-Riverside book sale, November 22 and 23. All proceeds go to the Goddard-Riverside community programs, which include homeless shelters, college scholarships, day care centers and much more. With city services being cut, Goddard's role on the West Side and in Harlem is more important than ever. Please come out to the book sale and get a jump on some holiday gift book buying for a good cause. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Goddard Riverside Community Center at 593 Columbus Avenue at 88th Street.


The question of the day was asked by Molly Flatt at the Guardian Book Blog: "What were your favourite books before you could read?"


Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Image of the Day: First Chapter for Stories

Last Saturday, customers and friends crowded into Stories to celebrate the Los Angeles bookstore's grand opening; the official opening date is this Friday, November 21. Owned by Elizabeth Garo and Claudio Colodro, who have worked at Book Soup and Dutton's North Hollywood, respectively, Stories is in the Echo Park section, sells new and used books and has "a very deep children's section as well as books on Los Angeles history, pop culture, art, design and crafting. Our fiction section goes deep into catalogue and we will also be focusing on local authors in the next few months." The store has a cafe with a patio section and front window seating area. For the Saturday party, the art collective Hit & Run silkscreened book bags on site. Bookselling This Week had a profile of Stories earlier this month. Stories is located at 1716 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif. 90026; 213-413-3733;


GLOW: Inkyard Press: Come On In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home edited by Adi Alsaid

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Outliers

Today on All Things Considered: Mike Huckabee, author of Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America (Sentinel, $25.95, 9781595230546/1595230548).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Robyn Moreno, author of Practically Posh: The Smart Girls' Guide to a Glam Life (Collins, $18.95, 9780061349461/0061349461).

Also on Today: Betsy Braun, author of Just Tell Me What to Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents (Collins, $15.95, 9780061452970/0061452971).


Tomorrow morning on CNN's American Morning: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316017923/0316017922).


Tomorrow on the View: Rachael Ray, cooking and cookbook maven.


Tomorrow on the Late Show with David Letterman: Bruce McCall, author and illustrator of Marveltown (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.95, 9780374399252/0374399255).


Atheneum Books: Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Marianna Raskin

This Weekend on Book TV: The Ascent of Money

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, November 22

8 a.m. For an event hosted by the Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, Vt., Greg Melville, author of Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-oil-powered Car, and a Cross Country Search for a Greener Future (Algonquin, $15.95, 9781565125957/1565125959), recounts his 3,900-mile trip across the U.S. in a 1985 Mercedes station wagon retrofitted to run on vegetable oil. (Re-airs Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 a.m. and Monday at 6 a.m.)

9 a.m. Marie Arana, editor of the Washington Post BookWorld, and Robert Weil, executive editor at Norton, discuss the current state of the publishing industry and the future of books. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:15 p.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1992, Robert Bartley, author of The Seven Fat Years and How to Do it Again, claimed that the years of recession in the early 1990s were not a result of the greed of the '80s but of economists of the '90s abandoning the practices of the '80s.

7 p.m. Cherie Blair, wife of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, discusses her memoir, Speaking for Myself: My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316031455/0316031453). (Re-airs Sunday at 1:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Monday at 7 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Adrian Wooldridge, Washington bureau chief for the Economist, interviews Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Penguin, $29.95, 9781594201929/1594201927). Ferguson contends that financial systems are responsible for human progress. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, November 30, at 12 p.m.)
11 p.m. Gustavo Arellano, author of Orange County: A Personal History (Scribner, $24, 9781416540045/1416540040, argues that popular culture's image of the region is far different from reality. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

Sunday, November 23

10 p.m. Book TV coverage of the 2008 National Book Awards Ceremony, held Thursday, November 19, in New York City.


Movies: Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

Have you wondered what Johnny Depp might look like as the Mad Hatter since learning that director Tim Burton is filming an adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Shelf Awareness, October 17, 2008)? Well, wonder no more. Variety supplied photographic evidence. You can almost hear Depp posing questions like, "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"


Books & Authors

Awards: National Book Awards; PNBA Book Awards Shortlist

Winners of the National Book Awards, presented last night and covered at length in today's New York Times:

  • Fiction: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen (Modern Library)
  • Nonfiction: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, (Norton)
  • Young people's literature: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic)
  • Poetry: Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems by Mark Doty (HarperCollins)

"I can't say what a wonderful November this has been," said Gordon-Reed. "It's sort of wonderful to have the book come out at this time. People ask me if I planned it this way; I didn't. All of America--we're on a great journey now and I look forward to the years to come."

The National Book Foundation awarded its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Maxine Hong Kingston, and Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.


The shortlist for the 2009 PNBA Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, consists of 12 books written or illlustrated by Northwest authors and published in 2008. They were selected by a committee of independent booksellers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, who will choose the final list of no more than six titles in mid-December. PNBA will announce the winners in January. The shortlist includes:

  • American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella (Spiegel & Grau)
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper)
  • Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs by Buddy Levy (Bantam)
  • The Eleventh Man by Ivan Doig (Harcourt)
  • The English Major by Jim Harrison (Grove)
  • Guernica by Dave Boling (Bloomsbury)
  • The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones (Beaufort Books)
  • Little Hoot, illustrated by Jen Corace (Chronicle)
  • Selected Poems: 1970-2005 by Floyd Skloot (Tupelo Press)
  • Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska by Seth Kantner (Milkweed Editions)
  • Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867-1957 by Terry Toedtemeier and John Laursen (The Northwest Photography Archive & Oregon State University Press)
  • The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life by Floyd Skloot (University of Nebraska Press)

Children's Book Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman (Viking, $19.99, 9780670062270/0670062278, 544 pp., ages 12-up, December 2008)

There will be no spoilers in this review, but there are plenty of surprises in this book. The thoughtfully imagined world and riveting adventure Goodman brought to her debut Singing the Dogstar Blues she now brings to the ancient past in Asia. The author never names the country, but it is ruled by an emperor who derives much of his power from the Dragoneye Council. The Council consists of men who have each joined their Hua ("the natural energy that exists in all things") with one of the 12 dragons, which correspond with "one of the heavenly animals in the twelve-year cycle of power that has run in the same sequence since the beginning of time," the animals of the Chinese zodiac. Each New Year, the cycle begins again, and its corresponding dragon doubles its power for the next 12 months. But there are only 11 dragons. The Dragon Dragon, or "Mirror Dragon," has been missing for 500 years.

The human characters' desire to bend this intricate structure to their own will sets in motion the twists and turns of Goodman's plot. As the book begins, it is the eve of the Rat Dragon's ascension. A dozen 12-year-old candidates prepare for a ceremony--presided over by the Emperor himself--at which one of them will be chosen as the Rat Dragoneye apprentice, who will then be trained by the current Dragoneye, Lord Ido, in order to step into his place. The 12 are trained tirelessly by the Swordmaster to perform the ceremonial Approach Sequence, but it is the Dragon itself who chooses the apprentice and joins its energy with the human's Hua. Only this time, there is a girl among the 12, disguised as a boy. She is a 16-year-old who goes by the name of Eon; her true name is Eona. Eon and her master, a former Tiger Dragoneye, risk death if her gender is discovered. ("Women have no place in the world of the dragon magic. It is said they bring corruption to the art and do not have the physical strength or depth of character needed to commune with an energy dragon.") But if Eon is chosen, the gains are great in both wealth and prestige, for herself and her master. Although Eon is lame in one leg, she is allowed to compete because she is the only one among the 12 candidates who has "full dragon sight." She can see all of the dragons--except for the missing Mirror Dragon.

The mystery of the Mirror Dragon is central to the book, but it is not the only one. In the course of the tale, Goodman brilliantly examines complexities of sexuality. What makes a man masculine? A woman feminine? Some of the Dragoneyes take Sun drug to increase their "Sun" or male power, while Eon takes a "ghostmaker's tea" to suppress her "Moon" or female energy (to keep her from menstruating before the ceremony). The author further explores these questions through the ancient roles of the eunuch, or Moon Shadow, and the Contraire (a woman born in a man's body), prized by some and ostracized by others. Goodman also raises questions of identity bound up in heritage: How much of who we are is given to us by birthright and how much of our destiny do we make ourselves? Every character's journey in this book involves making life-or-death choices. As Eon's master tells her, "You cannot gain the dragon's power without giving something valuable in return." This is the first in what the publisher is calling "a duology," but it is satisfyingly complete on its own. The best way to begin is when you can read it straight through to the end (and then you'll want to start over to see how well Goodman planted the seeds for her many revelations).--Jennifer M. Brown


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Fun Books List Is 'Never Finished'

In the latest issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Philippe de Montebello writes about the Met's recent acquisitions, observing that a "museum is never finished, a collection never fully formed."

The same can be said for a book list because "finished" means more than simply "the end." So this week we'll just say we plan to "wrap up"--a diversionary tactic by any definition--the fun books series.

Though fiction picks were the original quest, nonfiction titles did manage to slip through. Ginny Mortorff, who works in telephone sales for Random House, is one of several Brysoniacs who "couldn't resist being part of the fun by sending in my all time favorite because I didn't see Bill Bryson on the list. A Walk in the Woods, In a Sunburned Country, I'm a Stranger Here Myself and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid are all laugh-out-loud funny."

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan "fits under the 'fun' category, but I tell my staff it's a feel good book," writes Sheryl Cotleur of Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. "I laughed dozens of times as she describes the denizens of her small town in Tennessee who come in to see her father, the town's doctor. There is a more touching note to this memoir in the end, but it's quite Bill Bryson-like for much of the way. All in all it's wonderful."

Susan Weis, owner of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., shared a case of fiction reading meets nonfiction experience: "I really enjoyed Enlightenment for Idiots by Anne Cushman--yoga, India, relationships, gurus and book publishing all in one book! And a happy ending. It was well-written and delightful. I recently took a group to India and one of the women traveling with me brought this book along at my recommendation. She so enjoyed reading it as we drove through the mountains of Northern India. If someone can find enlightenment and joy in a 12-hour bus ride, the book must be fun!"

This has been an entertaining fun read ride. Thanks for all your great suggestions. I'll "finish" with some of the spirited recommendations from reader Ellen Stimson, who admits that "thinking about the fun books I always recommend was actually quite a bit of fun." Her suggestions:

  • Fun for the middle-aged who may have been a little disappointed somewhere along the way--Texasville by Larry McMurtry. One of the funniest American novels ever and particularly timely since it is written during the oil mess in the '70s when everyone in oil country was going broke. It takes regular old daily pathos and beautifully illustrates the humor that's there all the time.
  • Fun for thriller lovers--any of the Gabriel books by Daniel Silva. They are cleverly plotted with likable characters. They move along at a speedy pace and feel exciting the way those Ocean movies do.
  • Fun for women of a certain age--any of the Rhoda stories by Ellen Gilchrist. Rhoda Manning and her clan are a lot of clever happy brash women who rule their messy worlds and their macho men with the sugary charms of the South. These ladies are always thinking up something to do, and they remind women that teasing fun out of life is in our genetic code.
  • Fun for boys 9-12--the Peter Pan prequels by Dave Barry and Ridley Pierson. They and their parents will appreciate the exciting adventure filled with enough grownup humor to keep everybody happy.
  • Fun for young adult women who are always way too serious--the thrillingly trashy Penny Vincenzi trilogy about publishing. They are smart soapy sagas that will thrill your law student daughter the same way silly Aunt Betty's Real Crime! magazines did us.
  • Fun for older ladies--Jon Hassler's Dear James; sweet charming gentle kind of fun.

And my last word on fun reads? Well, maybe they're all fun, depending . . .

Can you say "eyes of the beholder," boys and girls?

A beautiful catalogue I received yesterday from Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., features an introductory note by Raymond McDaniel, who asks, "How long does it take to think a thought? An act of discrete cognition clocks in at just over 300 milliseconds . . . In that brief a period of time, your attention can move anywhere, to anything--given provocation, and occasion. Given ideas to which you can respond, pictures to assemble, people to imagine. Given, say, books--such as those we offer you here."

Sounds like the start of another infinite fun reads list to me.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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