Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 11, 2010


Zondervan: The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Algonquin Young Readers: All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

Disney-Hyperion: It's Shoe Time! (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!) by Bryan Collier and Mo Willems

Beach Lane Books: The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Tarcherperigee: Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy

News

Image of the Day: Picture for an Exhibition

Painter Max Ferguson takes a photo of Strand co-owner Fred Bass holding Ferguson's painting Strand Book Store, 2010, which will appear in an exhibition called "Urban Intimacy" at the Gallery Henoch in New York City, beginning today.


Columbia Global Reports: Another Fine Mess by Helen C. Epstein / Nollywood by Emily Witt / Pipe Dreams by Erin Banco


Notes: Kindle Book Stirs Controversy; NYT E-Book Bestsellers

To ban or not to ban. Online reaction was swift and angry yesterday when a new self-published Kindle book, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure by Phillip Greaves, was offered for sale at Amazon.com. Customers piled up hundreds of one-star reviews and called for Amazon to remove the title. The backlash was strong on Twitter and Facebook as well, with calls for an Amazon boycott until the company stops selling the title.

TechCrunch reported that Amazon responded to the outcry by saying the company "believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions." By late Wednesday, however, Amazon had apparently removed the book from its website.

The Associated Press (via NPR) noted that this "isn't the first time Amazon has come under attack for selling objectionable content in its store. In 2002, the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, threatened to sue Amazon for selling Understanding Loved Boys and Boylovers. That title is still available through Amazon. In 2009, Amazon stopped selling RapeLay, a first-person video game in which the protagonist stalks and then rapes a mother and her daughters, after it was widely condemned in the media and by various interest groups."

CBS News reported that Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, "said that Amazon has the right under the First Amendment to sell any book that is not child pornography or legally obscene. Finan said Greaves' book doesn't amount to either because it does not include illustrations."

The question of censorship was also a substantial part of the online discussion. In a post titled "Crossing a Line: Is Banning Books Ever OK?" a Book Smugglers blogger observed: "My first reaction was that of revulsion and I not only RT the link with a 'I have no words' attached to it, I also wrote and I admit it, without thinking about what I was saying: Seriously @Amazon? YOU NEED TO REMOVE THIS FROM YOUR SITE. Which is of course an attempt at book banning. Needless to say, madness ensued and we got hundreds of @ replies who shared the feelings of disgust and who retweeted the request to pull the book off Amazon.

"There were also quite a few replies who questioned the request on the grounds that censorship should never be encouraged even if the content of a book is disgusting and reprehensible. The ensuing conversation was not only interesting but also eye opening. Because I have always, always seen myself as someone who would never EVER condone book banning or censorship on any grounds, there I was facing a very uncomfortable truth about myself: a line I never ever thought I would cross and yet I did, in a heartbeat."

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Acknowledging the dramatic increase in e-book sales and digital publishing's influence, the New York Times said it will feature e-book bestseller lists for fiction and nonfiction beginning early next year. The lists will be compiled using weekly data from several sources, including publishers, chain bookstores, independent booksellers and online retailers.

"We’ve had our eye on e-book sales since e-books began," said Janet Elder, editor of news surveys and election analysis for the Times. "It was clear that e-books were taking a greater and greater share of total sales, and we wanted to be able to tell our readers which titles were selling and how they fit together with print sales."

RoyaltyShare, which tracks data and aggregates sales information for publishers, will work with the Times to "provide data and offer an additional source of independent corroboration."

Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the Book Review, observed: "To give the fullest and most accurate possible snapshot of what books are being read at a given moment you have to include as many different formats as possible, and e-books have really grown, there’s no question about it."

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Working with the National Book Foundation, the Association of American Publishers' Young to Publishing Group is hosting the inaugural House Party: A Celebration of the National Book Awards, 7-11 p.m., next Wednesday, November 17, at Random House at 1745 Broadway in New York City. A live feed of the ceremony will be shown.

An auction will be held to benefit Literacy Partners. Robert Redd will host an interactive literary game. The House Party will also have a Green Room for the media.

The House Party is open to all book lovers and not limited to AAP members. For more information, go to youngtopublishing.com.

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Is Amazon about to revolutionize the re-gifting tradition? The Telegraph reported that Amazon "has been granted a patent application that will make it easy for them to request a different item in place of the gift ordered by a friend or relative." The patent--"System and method for converting gifts"--lists Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as one of the inventors.

"As in other gift-giving situations, it sometimes occurs that gifts purchased online do not meet the needs or tastes of the gift recipient," according to the patent. "The gift giving experience through network shopping services would be improved for both senders and recipients if enhanced systems and methods were provided for converting gifts."

But would etiquette experts take a dim view of this option? TechFlash reported that KIRO Radio went right to the logical source, asking Anna Post, Emily's great-great-granddaughter, for her verdict: "Dishonest, is the blunt answer.... A gift is expressing a much bigger sentiment behind it. To cut someone short before they can complete that process is the ultimate interruption."

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In a New York Press piece headlined "Raging Skull," Adam Rathe recounted "the sordid history of New York's firebrand independent book publisher," Soft Skull Press, which closed its New York office last week (Shelf Awareness, November 4, 2010).  

"The two rooms that Soft Skull inhabits sit at the end of a hall in the offices of a commercial art firm, and today both are almost empty," Rathe wrote. "It's essentially the end of the line for a company born in 1993 at a Kinko's just below Union Square that has, over the years, been one of the most provocative, daring, loved and hated independent presses in New York."

"Every day was like an episode of a public access show," said Cat Tyc, Soft Skull's director of publicity from 1998-2001. "You never knew who was going to walk in, whether it was a Left activist or a famous actor or a writer... and seeing these worlds interact while publicizing these books and making them, it was crazy but it was really exciting. It's too simplistic to call it punk rock, because beyond music and literature, there was hip-hop culture and activist culture. My job became being a diplomat to all of these worlds because they weren't worlds that would intersect. But because of Soft Skull, they came together."

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Electric Literature has launched a new venture, Electric Publisher, designed to be "an affordable way for publishers and authors to create iPad/iPhone apps for a single book or their entire catalog."

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The Storybook Shoppe is scheduled to open at its new Bluffton, S.C., location November 26 after moving from Beaufort. The Island Packet reported that while owner Nancy Beaupre is closing the Habersham Marketplace location near Beaufort, she "will have an office and a small collection of books at 30 Market St., Habersham Marketplace, that will be open by appointment."

The new store is located at 41A Calhoun St. Bluffton, S.C. 29910; (843) 846-6786; e-mail storybookshoppe@aol.com.

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Algonquin's Booksellers Rock series featured Tom Campbell, co-owner of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., who answered the question "What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome?" by saying: "They still put up with us after all these years. And Durham is becoming so cool these days, we hear Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is thinking of becoming Algonquin Books of Durham."

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"No place in the world I'd rather be sitting," wrote the Southern Pines, N.C., Pilot's Steve Bouser regarding the Country Bookshop. The Pilot will officially take over the bookstore later this week (Shelf Awareness, November 1, 2010). "What a wonderful, friendly, soul-nourishing place this little store is to have right here in the middle of our beloved Southern Pines."

New co-owner David Woronoff has also "forged a partnership with Nancy Olson, of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, one of the best such stores in the country, who will help with things like bringing notable authors to town," Bouser wrote. Woronoff said Country Bookshop is "a 57-year-old institution, and we're a 90-year-old institution. It's appropriate that we're together. We want to keep it as a cultural hub for the community."

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Cummings Books, a 14-year-old used bookstore in Minneapolis, Minn., will close at the end of the year, the Pioneer Press reported. Owner Jim Cummings said, "I'm still making money, still selling books, but there's been a gradual decline of interest.... It used to be that people who lost their jobs would still buy an $8 used book. This time, people aren't. Customers used to come from towns where they had no access to a collection like mine and they'd buy a couple boxes of books. Now they seem to have stopped traveling."

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Walking Off the Big Apple showcased "25 New Books for New York, New York" in which "the city appears as the culmination of creative success, a troubled dystopia, the place of theatrical dreams, a crime scene, a sports venue, or in the case of the last five books, a really good place to start a restaurant."

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Anna Shevchenko, author of Bequest, chose her top 10 novels set in Moscow for the Guardian and observed that she "chose the books where Moscow is more than a setting--it shapes the characters and their actions, almost becoming a character itself. I was always intrigued by the way the cityscape can influence the mindset: Moscow, for example, can be seen as a chaotic cluster of villages, a cobweb of streets or as a grid."

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To mark the upcoming 100th anniversary of Leo Tolstoy's death, Flavorwire featured "The Many Covers of Anna Karenina: A Brief Visual History"

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Book trailer of the day: Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan (Prospect Park Books).

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Langenscheidt Publishers is closing by the end of the month. The company has sold its map and atlas business and is winding down its distribution services and is now distributing only the Hammond Atlas, Mobil Travel Guide book lines and the Fluenz CD-ROM line.
 
Yesterday was the final day for ordering the titles of these three product lines. Tomorrow, November 12, is the final day for shipping. November 22 will be the final day for returns. Langenscheidt will accept no returns of any imprint other than these three lines.

For orders or information on Insight Guides, Berlitz or Langenscheidt Dictionaries, please contact the new distributor, Ingram Publisher Services.

 


Running Press Book Publishers: 36 Questions That Changed My Mind about You by Vicki Grant


AAP Sales: E-Books Soar Again

Net sales of books fell 12.1%, to $1.1 billion, as reported by 88 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, net sales of books have risen 3.8%, to $8.4 billion.

Sales in most categories fell, except for e-books, which rose dramatically again, up 158.1% to almost $40 million. Sales of e-books for the year so far have risen 188.4% to $304.6 million.

 

CATEGORY

SALES

% CHANGE

E-books

$39.9 million

158.1%

Downloaded Audiobooks

$7.7 million

73.7%

Univ. Press Paperback

$6.3 million

10.6%

Higher Education

$416.7 million

2.2%

Professional Books

$58.8 million

0.7%

 



Children's/YA Paperback

$53.3 million

−1.6%

Religious Books

$66.1 million

2.5%

Univ. Press Hardcover

$5.1 million

4.8%

K-12 El-Hi

$351.5 million

10%

Adult Paperback

$111. Million

15.8%

Children's/YA Hardcover

$76.6 million

17.4%

Adult Mass Market

$67.8 million

23.6%

Adult Hardcover

$180.3 million

40.4%

Physical audiobooks

$11.6 million

42.6%

 

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dick Cavett on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Deborah Cadbury, author of Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586488208/1586488201).

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Today on Talk of the Nation: Lynda Barry, author of Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book (Drawn and Quarterly, $29.95, 9781897299647/1897299648).

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Today on the Curtis Sliwa Show: Pat Cooper, author of How Dare You Say How Dare Me! (Square One Publishers, $24.95, 9780757003639/075700363X).

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Tomorrow on the Today Show: Mike Lupica, author of Hero (Philomel Books, $17.99, 9780399252839/0399252835).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Gerald Blaine, co-author of The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence (Gallery, $28, 9781439192962/1439192960). He will also appear today on Hardball with Chris Matthews.

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Tomorrow on Greta Van Susteren's show: George W. Bush, author of Decision Points (Crown, $35, 9780307590619/0307590615).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Greg Fitzsimmons, author of Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439182697/1439182698).

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Tomorrow night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Dick Cavett, author of Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets (Times Books, $25, 9780805091953/0805091955).

 


This Weekend on Book TV: George W. Bush Live

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 13

12 p.m. Dana Milbank, author of Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385533881/0385533888), argues that Beck is a showman whose political arguments are akin to entertainment. (Re-airs Saturday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 9 a.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

12:30 p.m. Timothy Nenninger, author of The Way of Duty, Honor, Country: The Memoirs of Charles Pelot Summerall (University Press of Kentucky, $35, 9780813126180/0813126185), discusses the chief of staff of the U.S. Army from 1926-1930 and president of the Citadel for 20 years. (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

1 p.m. Pauline Maier, author of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (S&S, $30, 9780684868547/0684868547), presents a history of the ratification process of the U.S. Constitution. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Thursday, November 25, at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

2 p.m. Nora Titone talks about her book My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth that Led to an American Tragedy (Free Press, $30, 9781416586050/1416586059). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, November 21, at 11 p.m.)

3 p.m. Julian Zelizer, author of Jimmy Carter (Times Books, $23, 9780805089578/0805089578), recounts the former president's difficulty in maintaining support from Congress. (Re-airs Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 12 a.m.)

4 p.m. Jonathan Soffer, author of Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City (Columbia University Press, $34.95, 9780231150323/0231150326), examines the mayor's tenure from 1978 to 1989. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

7 p.m. P.J. O'Rourke, author of Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802119605/0802119603), questions the government's fiscal discipline and weighs in on many other political issues. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Thursday, November 25, at 10:15 a.m. and 10:15 p.m.

10 p.m. After Words. Janet Langhart Cohen interviews Ron Christie, author of Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 9780312599461/0312599463). Christie explores the history of the disparaging term "acting white." (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, November 21, at 9:30 a.m.)

11 p.m. Iranian journalist Houshang Asadi, author of Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran (Oneworld Publications, $24.95, 9781851687503/1851687505), talks about his years of imprisonment following the Iranian Revolution. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.)

Sunday, November 14

4 p.m. Book TV features live coverage of former President George W. Bush discussing his memoir Decision Points (Crown, $35, 9780307590619/0307590615) at Miami-Dade College. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m., Monday at 5 a.m. and Sunday, November 21, at 7 a.m.)

 


Theater: Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can, the Broadway musical version of the book--and film--Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale (with Stan Redding), now has its cast in place for a spring opening. The New York Times reported that lead roles will be played by Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal) as "an FBI agent and a charming scoundrel." Other cast members include Tony nominees Tom Wopat (Annie Get Your Gun) and Kerry Butler (Xanadu), as well as Linda Hart, Nick Wyman and Rachel De Benedet.

Preview performances for Catch Me If You Can are scheduled to begin March 7, 2011, at the Neil Simon Theater, with an April 10 opening. The show is directed by Jack O’Brien and choregraphed by Jerry Mitchell, with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman.

 


Movies: The Eagle Trailer

Focus Features released a trailer for The Eagle, adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff's novel The Eagle of the Ninth, part of her Roman Britain Trilogy. Deadline.com reported that the film, which opens February 25, 2011, is directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and stars Channing Tatum "as a Roman leader who heads off into the wilds of Scotland to discover what happened to his father, who vanished along with the legion he commanded."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Galaxy; Wilfred Owen Poetry; Arabic Fiction Longlist

Category winners for the 2010 Galaxy National Book Awards include Terry Pratchett and Martin Amis for Outstanding Achievement, and surprise winner Stephen Fry (The Fry Chronicles), who won the "hotly contested" biography award over a field that included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Bookseller reported. You can check out the complete list of category winners here. The overall Galaxy National Book Award winner will be named December 13.

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Jon Stallworthy, who has published several poetry collections and edited Wilfred Owen's Complete Poems and Fragments, has won the 2010 Wilfred Owen Poetry Award, which honors a poet "for a sustained body of work that includes memorable war poems." Stallworthy will receive his prize this Saturday in a ceremony at Wolfson College, Oxford.

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The longlist for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2011, which honors "excellence in contemporary Arabic creative writing," includes 16 titles from across the Arab world and may be seen here. The shortlist will be announced December 9, and the winner March 14.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Instructions

The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney's Books, $29.00 Hardcover, 9781934781821, November 2010)

 

Gurion Maccabee is a 10-year-old "Israelite" (don't even think of calling him Jewish) in Chicago who's already being heralded as having the potential to become one of this century's greatest Torah scholars, and perhaps even more--and, as Gurion himself says, "a person who suspects he is his generation's potential messiah is not necessarily false, or crazy." But he's already been tossed out of one Hebrew school for throwing a stapler at a rabbi's head, then another for teaching his fellow students how to make pennyguns to arm themselves against anti-Semitic attacks, and then a public school for bullying. So now he's locked in "the Cage" at Aptakisic Junior High School with a bunch of other troubled students and, over the course of four days, he's going to rally them and other classmates to The Side of Damage and bring everything crashing down to such a spectacular degree that, years later, Gurion is writing his memoirs (or "scriptures," as he prefers to call them) as a terrorist in exile.

Adam Levin's narrative is sprawling: In addition to Gurion's scholarship, his mother is a mental health professional and his father is a trial lawyer, so just among themselves they know how to pick apart every nuance of a situation. And everybody in The Instructions conducts their conversations at that granular analytic level, so even the simplest conversations can wind up running on for pages and pages. Levin's dialogue also tends toward a highly stylized posturing; you have to accept that this is a universe where teenagers are both hyperaware of sociological power relationships and capable of making statements like, "I'm a colorless canvas flag atop a mile-high pole and I don't move a single fucken fiber but for when the wind flaps me see."

If you're willing to accept Levin's initial conceits, however, you'll soon find yourself on one of this year's most dazzling literary rides. Gurion's voice is like Alex's in A Clockwork Orange, with even more intense layers of introspection, able to turn from hilarious to chilling in a single line--Levin even creates a new vocabulary that, for example, turns "chomsky" and "kenobi" into adjectives. Some of the set-pieces, like Gurion's detailed memories of how his kindergarten class reacted to 9/11, are so stunning in their virtuosity that it's worth working your way through whatever you think might be the slow bits in the first half. (The momentum in the second half is virtually relentless.) Be sure, too, to keep an eye out for the literary in-jokes... and not just the obvious one where Gurion's single demand to the authorities after seizing the school is a phone call from Philip Roth.

By combining adolescent fantasies about lashing out at "The Arrangement," the nebulous social structure that inspires feelings of alienation, with a methodical counter-insurgency built on psychological and anthropological principles--and, yes, an aura of messianic grandeur--Adam Levin has delivered a genuinely disturbing debut novel.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: "What's your favorite Palahniuk?" asks one of Gurion's classmates, and that's as good a reference point for prospective readers as you can get; Levin also studied under George Saunders, and shares his gift for investing the absurd with emotional realism.

 

 

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, November 7:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Confession by John Grisham
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
4. Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carre
5. X'ed Out by Charles Burns
 
Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Life by Keith Richards
2. At Home by Bill Bryson
3. Earth (the Book) by Jon Stewart
4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 by Mark Twain
5. Dylan's Candy Bar by Dylan Lauren
 
Paperback Fiction

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide by Ntozake Shange
4. Saving Ceecee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
5. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
 
Paperback Nonfiction

1. The End of Overeating by David Kessler
2. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
4. The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley
5. Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
 
Children's

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
3. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
5. Big Nate: In a Class By Himself by Lincoln Peirce

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

 


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