Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 15, 2010


HarperCollins: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Johns Hopkins University Ptess: Playboys and Mayfair Men by Angus McLaren / A Year of Writing Dangerously by Keith Gandal

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Quotation of the Day

Gaiman: Libraries Have a ''Wonderful Kindred Spiritry'

"There's a wonderful kindred spiritry of the library, people who like being in libraries, people who are comforted by books, people who like being around the ideas of the departed. And I know that whatever gods or spirits are in libraries, they're my kind of people."--Neil Gaiman in an interview with Book Page's Book Case blog. 

 


AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


News

Notes: Elliott Bay's Capitol Hill Store; Meyer Challenged

Elliott Bay Book Company opened its new Capitol Hill location yesterday "in an old truck-repair facility that is slightly smaller than its former store in Pioneer Square, but seems larger," the Seattle Times reported, adding that the "spacious feel comes partly from the new store having no used-book section, something that took up about 10% of Elliott Bay's old space, and partly from a floor plan so open that most parts of the store can be seen from any other part."

"I miss the old quaintness, but I'm glad the floors still creak," said customer Neil Smith.

Owner Peter Aaron expects more customers on Capitol Hill: "There's a dense residential population base that was completely lacking in Pioneer Square."

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Stephenie Meyer's bestselling Twilight series ranks high on yet another list, rising to fifth place on the American Library Association's annual report of 2009's "challenged books," which was released yesterday, the Associated Press reported.

"Vampire novels have been a target for years and the Twilight books are so immensely popular that a lot of the concerns people have had about vampires are focused on her books," said Barbara Jones, director of the association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

The ALA recorded 460 challenges in 2009, a drop from 513 the year before, with 81 books removed, the AP wrote. 

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Women & Children First bookstore, Chicago, Ill., where "everything feels personalized; an atmosphere of welcome permeates the place," was the focus of the third installment in Poets & Writers magazine's Inside Indie Bookstores series. 

Speaking about community, co-owner Linda Bubon defined her bookshop as a "political gathering place, and a literary gathering place, and a place where we have unpublished teen writers read sometimes. We've developed four different book groups, plus a Buffy discussion group. And if you came on a Wednesday morning, you'd see twenty to thirty preschoolers here with their moms for story time, which I do. I love it. I just love it. It's absolutely the best thing of the week. I have a background in theater and oral interpretation, so it's just so much fun for me."

Looking to future, Bubon called herself "a bookseller, but I'm a feminist bookseller. Would I be a bookseller if I were going to run a general bookstore? I'm not sure. Sometimes I think, 'What will I do if the store is no longer viable?' And I think that rather than going into publishing or going to work for a general bookstore, I would rather try to figure out how to have a feminist reading series and run a feminist not-for-profit. Because the real purpose of my life is getting women's voices out, and getting women to tell the truth about their lives, and selling literature that reflects the truths of girls' and women's lives."

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Mary Cotton and Jaime Clerke, owners of Newtonville Books, Newtonville, Mass., plan to close their children's bookshop, Lizard’s Tale, and move the inventory back into the main location, Wicked Local Newton reported.

"After three years of ownership, it’s easy to see that we just don’t sell enough children’s books to support the space we’ve allotted," Cotton said. "It’s clear by our numbers that we’re just carrying too many children’s books for our patronage."

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In 2009, overall compensation for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "jumped 39%, to almost $1.8 million, as spending on his security increased $500,000" to $1.7 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. Aaron Boyd, a compensation expert for Equilar Inc., noted that the security costs for Bezos "rank him among the highest for U.S. chief executives."

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Karl Rove has run into trouble at some of his tour stops promoting Courage and Consequences: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, including an attempted citizen's arrest by Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans at events in Beverly Hills last month and more recently in Las Vegas. The Colorado Independent wondered whether upcoming events at bookstores in Littleton and Colorado Springs might inspire similar incidents.

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In a perhaps not unrelated note, the Guardian showcased the "return of radical bookshops," observing that in "a sorely troubled time for booksellers, these hubs of campaigning passion are proving surprisingly resilient."

"In the last five to 10 years there has been a massive resurgence in interest in grassroots politics and activism," said Mandy Vere of News From Nowhere bookstore, Liverpool. She cited the anti-globalization movement, the anti-capitalist backlash provoked by the current financial crisis, the recent growth in climate change and green activism, and the re-energised feminist movements as reasons for the upsurge in interest.

"The radical bookshops that have survived will continue to do so because we've carved out a niche," said Vere. "We've built up our reputation over the years, we've got a loyal readership, and while we can't compete in price we can offer something distinctive--knowledge, passion, meaningful books that come on trusted recommendations rather than being pushed by the publishers, and connections with other politically aware people."

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John Schoenherr, a Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book illustrator, died last week. He at 74. The New York Times reported that Schoenherr illustrated more than 40 children’s titles, winning the Caldecott Medal in 1988 for Owl Moon by Jane Yolen), and "had a parallel, equally prominent career as a science-fiction illustrator."

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You may be used to settling in on a couch with a good book, but the New York Times showcased another option from the new film Paper Man, in which a blocked novelist (Jeff Daniels) takes revenge against a floral sofa he despises as well as his failed first novel when he "builds a couch out of his old books, securing them with clear packing tape."

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In what may be an e-sign of the times, CNET featured "a look at five dazzling e-books for kids, starting with an eye-popping rendition of Alice in Wonderland."

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Author Carsten Jensen chose his top 10 seafaring tales for the Guardian: "Given that men have sailed the seas for thousands of years, it's perhaps surprising how few great works of literature have been inspired by the seafaring life. Sailing may have promised adventure, but in reality it was a dangerous profession that attracted only the toughest, few of whom were equipped with a talent for writing. Their yarns remained fixed in the oral tradition, and in general, writers directed their attention elsewhere. But the exceptions are majestic."

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Book trailer of the day: The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam), whose pub date is today.

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Effective April 19, Lottchen Shivers is joining Abrams as executive director of adult marketing and publicity, a new position. She has been head of Lottchen Shivers Communications and earlier was director of publicity and marketing and then executive director of marketing at Holt and worked in publicity at Viking Penguin, Random House and Workman.

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Steven A. Clemente is joining Nebraska Book Company as senior v-p of the retail division and will be responsible for Nebraska's more than 275 college stores. Clemente has been a group v-p at Target Stores, where he has worked since 1995. He replaces Rob Rupe, who is retiring.

 


Zondervan: To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander


February Bookstore Sales Slip 0.7%

February bookstore sales slipped 0.7%, to $1.003 billion, compared to February 2009, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year, total bookstore sales are up 1.1%, to $3.278 billion.

Total retail sales in February rose 4.6%, to $318.1 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year, total retail sales were up 3.6%, to $639.7 billion.

Bookstore sales so far this year have lagged behind the more robust sales reported by publishers and general retailers. For example, AAP sales in February were up 12.2% and for the year rose 4.8% (Shelf Awareness, April 11, 2010).

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: How to Cool the Planet

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Ahmed Rashid, whose Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale University Press, $17.95, 9780300163681/0300163681), has just appeared in a second edition.

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Today on Fresh Air: Jeff Goodell, author of How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780618990610/0618990615).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Sara Moulton, author of Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781439102510/1439102511).

Also on GMA: Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change (Free Press, $26, 9781439125663/143912566X).

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Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Ralph Peters, author of Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization (Stackpole, $27.95, 9780811705509/0811705501).

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Tomorrow on the View: Timothy White, co-author of Match Prints (Collins Design, $40, 9780061689123/0061689122).

 


This Weekend on Book TV: No One Would Listen

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, April 17

10:30 a.m. Book TV features live coverage of the eighth annual Annapolis Book Festival. Guest authors include Mark Kurlansky, Benjamin Wittes, Bruce Riedel, Shane Harris, Peter Singer, Howard Robert Ernst, Orrin Pilkey, William Cohen and Barry Lynn.

3:30 p.m. Ellen Fitzpatrick, author of Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061969843/0061969842), presents a collection of 250 condolence letters sent to Jacqueline Kennedy following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.       

5 p.m. Stephen Fried, author of Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized the Wild West (Bantam, $27, 9780553804379/0553804375), chronicles the life of one of the earliest innovators in the American hospitality industry. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 2003, Brenda Wineapple talked about her book Hawthorne: A Life (Random House, $16.95, 9780812972917/0812972910).

7 p.m. Former Black Panther Party member and death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal talks by phone from prison with Cornel West & Patricia Fernandez Kelley about his book Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. U.S.A. (City Lights, $16.95, 9780872864696/0872864693). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.)

8:30 p.m. Sidney Milkis, author of Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy (University Press of Kansas, $34.95, 9780700616671/0700616675), recounts Roosevelt's campaign for the presidency in 1912 and his leadership of the Progressive Party.

10 p.m. After Words. Nicole Gelinas interviews Harry Markopolos, author of No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller (Wiley, $27.95, 9780470553732/0470553731), regarding his efforts to inform the SEC and media about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. A discussion between Malcolm Gladwell, author of What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316075848/0316075841), and David Grann, author of The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385517928/0385517920). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

Sunday, April 18

8 a.m. Krista Tippett, author of Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit (Penguin, $16, 9780143116776/0143116770), discusses the connections between science and religion.  (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

 


Movie: The Flint Heart; Hugo Cabret; I Am Number Four

The film version of Katherine Paterson's upcoming fantasy novel The Flint Heart will be adapted by "newly minted production banner Bedrock Studios and Arcady Bay Entertainment. Arcady Bay principal David Paterson will adapt his mother's tome as a live-action pic that will be special effects-driven," Variety reported. The book will be released by Candlewick early next year.

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Legendary director Martin Scorsese has opted for 3D technology in his next project, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, based on the novel by Brian Selznick. Variety wrote that the movie, "which will begin lensing in London in June, marks Scorsese's first foray into kidlit as well as his debut 3D film."

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South African actor Sharlto Copley (District 9) is in talks to join the cast of I Am Number Four, DreamWorks's adaptation of the upcoming YA scifi book by James Frey and Jobie Hughes, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Alex Pettyfer will play the title role in the film version of the first of a planned six-book series. 

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Ruth Lilly; Hadada; Commonwealth Writers' Prize

Eleanor Ross Taylor won the Poetry Foundation's $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, presented annually "to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." Taylor will be honored at the Pegasus Awards ceremony in Chicago May 18.

"We live in a time when poetic styles seem to become more antic and frantic by the day, and Taylor's voice has been muted from the start. Muted, not quiet," said Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine. "You can't read these poems without feeling the pent-up energy in them, the focused, even frustrated compression, and then the occasional clear lyric fury. And yet you can't read them without feeling, as well, a bracing sense of spiritual largesse and some great inner liberty."

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Philip Roth received the Paris Review's Hadada prize, given annually to "a distinguished member of the literary community who has demonstrated a strong and unique commitment to literature," the Guardian reported. Roth, who published his first story in the magazine in 1958, was honored for his "lifelong commitment to the literary arts."

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British author Rana Dasgupta's novel Solo won the £10,000 (US$15,485) Commonwealth Writers' prize, the Guardian reported. Judges praised Dasgupta's "innovation, ambition, courage and effortlessly elegant prose," and chair of judges Nicholas Hasluck placed the author "at the cutting edge of responding to the chaos of our times."

The best first novel prize went to Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest, who was praised by Hasluck for her innovative use of magical realism in the Australian outback.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Good Son

The Good Son by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt & Company, $26.00 Hardcover, 9780805091281, May 2010)


 
Michael Gruber is one of an extremely rare breed of writers who can inform and instruct readers on subjects in which they never knew they had an interest, while consistently providing the highest caliber of entertainment. The author of a half-dozen novels, Gruber has chosen as many different areas of focus, yet makes each one his métier. His previous novels have explored and explained Santería, salvia, forgery and a "lost" play by Shakespeare, among other things. In each, he is provocative, deeply intelligent and utterly original. More important, he is also a fantastic storyteller. Since Gruber never draws from the same well twice, it isn't quite accurate to call The Good Son a departure. Yet, while it's as fascinating and involving as his others, this timely novel does have more gravitas. For several reasons, it is also considerably riskier.
 
Sonia Laghari, the lynchpin of this story and one of Gruber's most intriguing characters, is a Jungian analyst and writer with a complicated past. The American-born daughter of circus performers, Sonia converted to Islam when she married into a wealthy Pakistani family. Fluent in many languages and religions, Sonia has long had a fatwa on her head for violating Islamic law by going on the Hajj dressed as a man--and then writing a book about her experiences. Despite this, Sonia has returned to Pakistan to host, of all things, a conference on peace. Before the conference begins, however, Sonia and her group are kidnapped by terrorists and told they will be executed one by one. Not the type to submit without a fight, Sonia begins chipping away at the psyches of her captors using Jungian psychology and dream interpretation.
 
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Sonia's son, Theo Bailey, an ex-Delta fighter who is now part of a secret military intelligence-gathering team, begins mounting a covert campaign to rescue his mother. A former mujahid, Theo was once known as Kakay Ghazan--a warrior who is now the stuff of legends. As Theo begins manipulating the system (and various governments), he attracts the attention of Cynthia Lam, an overly ambitious NSA translator who spends her days searching cell phone and Internet intercepts for terrorist chatter.
 
These are the bare bones of an intricate, complicated plot that, despite its many turns and depth of information, never drags and continues to ratchet the tension and suspense. While not particularly likable (and therein the author's risk), Sonia and Theo are possibly the most interesting and multifaceted characters created in recent memory. In placing them within such a rich, layered and entertaining story, Michael Gruber proves once again that he is one of our most talented novelists.--Debra Ginsberg
 
Shelf Talker: A brilliant and unusual thriller about belief, politics and family from the outstanding Michael Gruber.
 
 


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