Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gotham: To The Letter by Simon Garfield

St. Martin's: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Harper: Cane and Abe by James Grippando

Shadow Mountain: Kingdom & the Crown by Gerald N Lund

Penguin Press: Victoria by A.N. Wilson

Crown: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

 

News

Image of the Day: All Hallow's Read

On Halloween at the Book Works, Del Mar, Calif., trick-or-treaters visited throughout the day. Treats included some promotional books--Love that Dog by Sharon Creech, Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis and more. Owner Lisa Stefanacci noted, "We offered candy too, but we were excited to see that the overwhelming majority of children chose books. Actually, we gave books to the kids who chose candy, too."

 

 

Other Press: The Fall by Diogo Mainardi

Notes: Borders's Fine Print; Michele Filgate, N.H. 'It' Girl


In Daily Finance, Sarah Weinman noted that Borders's new "customer satisfaction initiative" has so many limitations as to make it "another Hail Mary pass that's doomed to fail."

Among those limitations: the "low price promise" match applies only to "a local competitor's advertised, in-store price on items that are in-stock" at Borders. So "if a customer asks for a price-match on a deal that's available only on the Web--say, at Amazon or Wal-Mart online--they won't get the price matched. Likewise, if the low price isn't offered in a printed ad, the match offer won't apply."

Existing Borders discounts won't apply, and "if you're a customer hoping to use the price match program at a Borders Express, one of the temporary stores opening up only for the holidays, you're out of luck. For that matter, you're also out of luck if you want to price match on Thanksgiving weekend, so Black Friday shoppers won't benefit either."

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Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio will kick off the 2011 annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers next March 9 at the Yale Club in New York City.

AAP president and CEO Tom Allen called Riggio "one of the most innovative and dynamic people in the book world... Barnes & Noble's position as a leader in bringing books and readers together, through its brick-and-mortar stores, its online retail operations, and most recently through its family of e-book readers give Mr. Riggio a unique perspective on where we are and where we may be headed."

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Congratulations to one of our favorite booksellers, Michele Filgate, events coordinator at RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., named by New Hampshire Magazine to its annual "it list" for the state. This year's "it list" includes "16 people who have become, at least for now, New Hampshire's face, heart, mind and imagination." The magazine wrote:

"It could be a plot line in a book, though it does stretch credulity a bit. An indie bookstore employee reads a little-known book that becomes her favorite book ever. Soon after she's at a book reviewers workshop and mentions the book (nay, sings its praises) to the workshop leader. It just so happens the workshop leader is the chairwoman of that year's Pulitzer Prize jury in the fiction category. The book wins the Pulitzer. It's a true story--the 2010 prize-winning book is Tinkers by Paul Harding; the bookstore, RiverRun in Portsmouth, and the protagonist, Michele Filgate. She is, indeed, a bookstore employee, the events manager. She's also a young (just 27) writer with a lot of credentials for her age: freelancer, book reviewer, social media maven and a tireless worker in making books hip and relevant."

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Google's famous algorithm for searching web pages can't be applied simply to the titles on Google Books. The Atlantic looked at how Google deals with this problem, particularly Rich Results, which has just been launched.

Rich Results, the Atlantic wrote, is "the latest in a series of smaller front-end tweaks that have been matched by backend improvements. Now, the book search algorithm takes into account more than 100 'signals,' individual data categories that Google statistically integrates to rank your results. When you search for a book, Google Books doesn't just look at word frequency or how closely your query matches the title of a book. They now take into account web search frequency, recent book sales, the number of libraries that hold the title, and how often an older book has been reprinted."

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Book trailer of the day: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina (Pear Press).

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Hachette Book Group will now use NetGalley to distribute digital galleys and digital press kits (including video, audio, tour schedules, author Q&As and photos) to reviewers, bloggers, media, booksellers, librarians and educators. The galleys and kits can be downloaded onto a range of devices, including the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony Readers and desktops.

Hachette hopes to expand its reach into the review and blogger communities, delivering digital galleys to their lists. The first Hachette titles available on NetGalley include new books from Brad Meltzer, Lawrence Block, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Darren Shan, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Don Winslow, Michael Koryta, Tom Holt and Nic Sheff. The catalogue will be expanded in coming months.

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NPR is asking what booklovers really want. It's a year-long project to expand and improve NPR's books coverage. The online survey includes such questions as "What makes a book review worth reading? What type of books should NPR cover more? What do we write about too much? Who are you people, and what do you want?" Here is the survey.

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A Huffington Post slideshow featured "21 of the Coolest Book Covers This Year."

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"What's a good hero without a trusty sidekick?" asked Flavorwire, then offered its choices for the Top 10 Sidekicks in Literature "based on loyalty, friendship, and overall awesomeness."

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Trafalgar Square Publishing, the IPG company that specializes in distribution in the U.S. of U.K. and Australian publishers, has added the following publishers:

Atlantic Books UK, London, founded in 2000 and the British subsidiary of Grove/Atlantic. The press won Independent Publisher of the Year at the 2009 British Book Awards and publishes mainly literary fiction, history, memoir and current affairs. The company includes the new imprint Corvus, the reissued crime fiction series called Crime Classics as well as titles from Tindal Street Press, which Atlantic Books UK distributes. Among titles on the spring list: Yoga for Real Life by yoga guru Maya Fiennes and Last Train from Liguria by Christine Dwyer Hickey.

Peter Owen Publishers, London, which publishes fiction, reissues of modern classics and nonfiction, specializing in bringing international works to the British market. Among titles are The Samurai by Shusaku Endo and Birdbrain by Johanna Sinisalo.

Beautiful Books, London, which publishes Joseph D'Lacey's horror books Garbage Man and Meat in its Bloody Books imprint as well as titles about current events, pop culture, memoirs and historical mysteries.

Bene Factum Publishing, London, publishes biographies, company histories, cookbooks, business, travel and illustrated books, including the photography book Bride Ideas & Frock-Ups: A Book of Wedding Tips & Slips by Susannah Frieze, Sim Canetty-Clarke and Amanda Lockhart.

Elliott & Thompson, London, founded in 2001, which publishes fiction, biographies, history, music and sports titles. Upcoming titles include The Classical Music Map of Britain by Richard Fawkes and The Golf Delusion by Steve Gould and D.J. Wilkinson.

Pitch Publishing, Sussex, focuses on sports titles, particularly golf, soccer, rugby and cricket. The list includes The Golfer's Manual by Paige Warr and Waste of Money! Overspending in Football: A Tragic Loss to a Beautiful Game by Paul Stenning.

 

IPS: Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell

Teaching for Change at Busboys and Poets

The flagship Busboys and Poets at 14th and V in Washington, D.C., has a classy, convivial atmosphere, fare for both carnivores and vegans, a bar that serves libations from cocktails to cappuccinos, comfy couches for lounging, a jam-packed slate of events like film screenings and poetry slams and, one of its most intriguing aspects, a bookstore operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change.

When Andy Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist, activist, restaurateur and former Teaching for Change board member, opened the venue in 2005, he invited the organization to launch the bookstore. (In a double milestone, Teaching for Change celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.)

Busboys and Poets was founded as a gathering place to encourage dialogue on social and political issues, a viewpoint that dovetails with Teaching for Change's aim of "building social justice starting in the classroom," said executive director Deborah Menkart.

Teaching for Change promotes its agenda through publications such as the award-winning Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching, professional development for educators and parent organizing in schools and communities. "The bookstore allows us to focus on all three areas and helps us accomplish our mission. It allows us to promote a progressive perspective through literature to teachers, to parents, to the broader community," Menkart said.

The store carries a wide array of books in keeping with Teaching for Change's mission, ranging from Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, one of the store's current top sellers, to Michele Norris's memoir, The Grace of Silence, to Emma Donoghue's bestseller Room. Be it children's titles or educational resources, novels or biographies, "you can trust that we've screened the books," said Menkart.

Mollie Katzen's The New Moosewood Cookbook is featured on an endcap, and Ben's Chili Bowl: 50 Years of a Washington, D.C., Landmark by Tracey Gold Bennett with Nizam B. Ali sits near the register. A portion of the proceeds from the latter's sales--the eatery is located near Busboys and Poets--benefit Teaching for Change.

"We're looking for progressive authors, social justice themes, multicultural voices and, generally, titles that go deeper than the mainstream media," said publications director Don Allen, who has managed the bookstore since its inception. Even current popular fiction with progressive themes, like Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, is among the store's offerings. "I was impressed with Larsson's pro-feminist approach and his expertise on racist organizations in Europe. Pro-women, anti-racist--sounds like a great fit for us," Allen added.

Sections include Activism, Arts & Culture, Politics of Society and Haitian Stories, Haitian Lives. A robust selection of poetry books is curated by poet-in-residence Derrick Weston Brown who, like the other bookstore staffers, is employed by Teaching for Change. Each of the Busboys and Poets locations--there is a second one in the District and another in Arlington, Va.--has a poet-in-residence. The restaurant's name has a poetic connection, taking inspiration from one-time hotel busboy and American poet Langston Hughes.

Aside from sharing space, the main link between the restaurant and the bookstore is in scheduling and promoting author events. A separate, sizeable room is used to host gatherings, with a stage for headliners and dining tables for attendees who would like to enjoy a meal. In addition to coordinating author soirées for the 14th Street location, Teaching for Change employees often assist in setting up events at the other Busboys and Poets locales. Among the recent author guests were Alice Walker and Edwidge Danticat.

The bookstore is situated in a prominent, street-front section of the restaurant near the entrance. Brand-new signage graces some of the shelves, courtesy of Ad 2 DC, a group of young advertising professionals that lends their expertise to a different nonprofit each year. Laminated signs mounted on wire frames were inserted into holes drilled in the tops of the shelves. Not only do the signs make it easier for shoppers to find specific sections, they alert them that their purchases are supporting Teaching for Change. "A lot of people come in here and don't know the bookstore is operated by a nonprofit," noted Menkart.

Those who contribute $250 or more to Teaching for Change receive special recognition in the bookstore. A colorful, handcrafted plaque made by local multi-media artist, teacher and writer Anike Robinson is created for each benefactor and displayed on the donor wall. Presented with the plaques is a continuously-running slide show spotlighting donors as well as providing information about Teaching for Change and the Zinn Education Project, an initiative that promotes the use of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States in the classroom and with which Teaching for Change is affiliated.

Last year Teaching for Change launched an online storefront, an additional revenue source and a place to spotlight recommended reading and bestseller lists on topics such as Food, Health, and the Environment; Graphic Novels; and History and Politics: Africa. A portion of in-store sales is generated by foot traffic in the popular restaurant, which was packed on a recent Friday afternoon. "We do get a lot of diners but also teachers, members of the social justice and NGO communities, activists, tourists, and the poetry/spoken word community," said Allen.

Teaching for Change's Busboys and Poets Bookstore hit the five-year mark in September and is going strong, something Menkart credits to a specific factor. "The success of the bookstore is the staff," she said. "As manager, Don has hired people who know the book industry and who also really care about the mission and the literature."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 

Princeton Architectural Press: Worn Stories by Emily Spivack

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fly Fishing Montana

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Buddy Valastro, author of Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia (Free Press, $25.99, 9781439183519/1439183511).

Also on the Today Show: Katie Nicholl, author of William and Harry: Behind the Palace Walls (Weinstein Books, $24.95, 9781602861404/1602861404).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Susan G. Baker, author of Passing It On: An Autobiography with Spirit (Bright Sky Press, $27.95, 9781933979847/1933979844).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Misha Angrist, author of Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics (Harper, $26.99, 9780061628337/0061628336).

Also on Diane Rehm: Kevin Davies, author of The $1,000 Genome: The Revolution in DNA Sequencing and the New Era of Personalized Medicine (Free Press, $26, 9781416569596/1416569596).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Brian Grossenbacher and Jenny Grossenbacher, authors of Fly Fishing Montana: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters (No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks, $28.95, 9781892469144/1892469146).

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Tomorrow on the View: Mark Halperin, author of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780061733642/0061733644).

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Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Meghan McCain, author of Dirty Sexy Politics (Hyperion, $23.99, 9781401323776/1401323774).

 

Resurrection House: Rudolph! by Mark Teppo

Movies: The Devil in the White City

Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions is part of a group that has acquired screen rights to The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson. DiCaprio will play serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes. Deadline.com reported the actor "hasn't played a role like this, but has long been interested in the notorious killer. Back in 2003, when Tom Cruise optioned the Larson book with the intention to play the killer, DiCaprio set up a rival project, planning to rely on public domain materials of Holmes's murderous exploits. When the book rights came available, Appian Way and Double Features acquired it from Paradigm on behalf of lit agency Black Inc. They will hire a writer and put together a package before making a deal with a studio."

 

Books & Authors

Awards: ALA Adds Stonewall Children's, YA Awards

The American Library Association is adding the Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award to the organization's Youth Media Awards, the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) reported. The Stonewall prize will honor "English-language works for children and teens of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience," according to the ALA.

"Ours is a very inclusive profession and we represent a wide variety of viewpoints," said ALA president Roberta Stevens. "Millions of children in this country are being raised by gay or lesbian parents. There are young people who are gay and sometimes they feel very alone. This is a real opportunity for youths who may be feeling alone to read about other like themselves."

 

 

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, November 9-11:

Decision Points by George W. Bush (Crown, $35, 9780307590619/0307590615) gives personal insight into the major events of Bush's presidency.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Scribner, $27.99, 9781439192566/1439192561) is a collection of four new horror tales.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, $13.95, 9780810984912/0810984911) continues the popular children's book series.

Hell's Corner by David Baldacci (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446195522/0446195529) is the fifth Camel Club political thriller.

Decision Points by George W. Bush (Crown, $35, 9780307590619/0307590615) gives personal insight into the major events of Bush's presidency.

Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen and Albert S. Hanser (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9780312591076/0312591071) is historical fiction about the Continental Army during the winter of 1777.

The Box: Tales from the Darkroom by Gunter Grass and Krishna Winston (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780547245034/0547245033) explores the childhood memories of eight siblings whose writer father was mostly absent from their lives.

Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices
by Noah Feldman (Twelve, $30, 9780446580571/0446580570) analyzes the composition and decisions of the Supreme Court during the 1940s and 50s.

I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (Knopf, $22.95, 9780307595607/0307595609) is a series of humorous autobiographical essays.

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594487729/1594487723) follows an old man who undergoes a procedure to cure his dementia at the cost of longevity.

 

Book Review

Book Review: World and Town

World and Town by Gish Jen (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95 Hardcover, 9780307272195, October 2010)

 

Gish Jen is a past master at the creation of immigrant literature. Her novels include Mona in the Promised Land, Typical American and The Love Wife, all explorations of blending cultures, in this instance Asian-American. The hybrid created is never seamless, always complicated--and it is in the interstices that her writing shines.

Set in the Vermont town of Riverlake, this novel is, once again, an examination of a cultural collision that seems almost insurmountable because of the disparate backgrounds of all involved. Hattie Kong, Chinese-American descendant of Confucius, retreats to Riverlake after the deaths from cancer of her husband and her best friend in rapid succession. With her three dogs, she settles down to grieve. She joins a walking club comprised of several women of different persuasions; one of them, Ginny, is a born-again Christian, and her influence will have an impact on everyone.

A Cambodian family moves into a derelict trailer down the hill from Hattie: mother and father; teen-age son, Sarun; daughter Sophy (pronounced SoPEE, please); and infant son, Gift. Hattie, out of loneliness and compassion for their situation, offers friendship, cookies, English lessons, Chinese lessons, rides here and there--whatever they need. At first, she is rebuffed, but eventually a wary connection is forged.

Jen explores the realities of our times through these people: What does 9/11 mean to Cambodians who have lost everything, witnessed horrors beyond imagining and are struggling to find a new identity in a strange land? Ginny's church preys upon Sophy's guilt for once conceiving a child, twists her away from Hattie and makes her complicit in an unlawful act. Sarun continues to hang out with his gang, precipitating a showdown with his father that has poignant and far-reaching consequences.

Into this rich concoction walks scientist Carter Hatch, Hattie's former lover. They have their own particular healing to go through. Carter, always the problem-solver, keeps a chain store from moving into town but cannot prevent the cell phone tower from being built. It's all a question of wins and losses, science or faith, old ways or new, rage or forgiveness. Each is given free range as Jen leads the reader to a discovery of what our "world" really is, what family means and how community is formed.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Gish Jen, specialist in immigrant literature, once again illuminates the difficulties and solutions of blending cultures.

 

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