Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 22, 2011


Houghton Mifflin: The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong . . . and You Can Too! by Bryant Johnson

Timber Press: Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman

HarperCollins: Laura's Album: A Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson

Other Press: What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home by Mark Mazower

Chronicle Books: This Book Is a Planetarium: And Other Extraordinary Pop-Up Contraptions by Kelli Anderson

News

Image of the Day: Air Kiss

 

Earlier this month at the Upper East Side Barnes & Noble in New York City, Claudia Sternbach, author of Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses (Unbridled Books) was introduced by Jonathan Franzen.

 

 


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Notes: Literary Map, Borders Update, Store News


Borders Group is seeking at least $50 million in financing beyond its $505 million debtor-in-possession loan as "sales trail expectations and publishers demand cash in advance," Bloomberg reported, based on comments from "two people who have seen the chain's plans to reorganize."

Borders considers the current loan sufficient for "the next few months," the sources said.

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NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams recently profiled Open Books, the nonprofit literacy bookstore in Chicago, Ill., focusing on Open Books's literacy programs and its unusual business model. See the news here.

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Cool new sideline: the Literary Gift Company, Reading, England, is now distributing a literary map of the U.S. to U.S. booksellers at a wholesale price of $10 each, including the cost of shipping across the pond. The map is an original hand-lettered design, measuring 33.5" x 21.7". The company makes a range of interesting book-related products.

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The Los Angeles Times profiled Sylvia Whitman, daughter of George Whitman, the 97-year-old longtime owner of Shakespeare & Company in Paris. After growing up apart from her father, Sylvia, who is now 30, decided to spend the summer of 2002 at the store in order to get to know him better--a visit that never ended.

Sylvia slowly learned about bookselling from her legendarily passionate, knowledgeable and difficult father. "There were scenes of screaming at each other in the shop, and making all the customers feel awkward," she told the paper. "And then there were other moments of really having laughing fits, and buying books together.

Now as the store's manager, she seeks "to preserve the essence of the place" while making changes that have included founding a literary magazine, establishing a €10,000 (about $14,200) prize for unpublished writers and holding readings, concerts and a few literary festivals.

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Lorelei Books is "a small, cozy space" in historic downtown Vicksburg, Miss., and owned by Laura Weeks, who has occasional, part-time help, Bookselling This Week reported.

Weeks moved to Vicksburg in late 2006 after visiting several times. "There were antique shops, gift shops, art galleries, but no bookstore," she told BTW. "And an independent bookstore is such a cornerstone to a downtown area."

On Saturday, April 30, Weeks celebrates National Poetry Month with a night of poetry co-sponsored by the local library and a writing group. The event features a reading and a panel discussion by scholars Darrell Bourque, Ann Fisher-Wirth and Murray Shugars.

Two weeks ago Weeks launched the store's IndieCommerce site. "One woman in particular brought her iPad into Lorelei Books asking to be the first one to purchase a Google eBook from the store," BTW wrote.

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For Earth Day: Fulcrum Publishing editorial and production manager Haley Berry has written a post on the company's blog that discusses some of the history of "green printing" and the environmental impacts of e-books vs. printed books. Berry wrote in part: "These days, sustainability concerns have been pushed into the background by an economic downturn and the rise of digital content and e-books. But on Earth Day 2011, I would like to think that sustainable practices and green concerns haven't been sent to the landfill or shelved in the archives. The publishing industry remains a greener place than it was less than 10 years ago. Green is still here; it's just like the firstborn child who's feeling left out after the new baby comes along."

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Book trailer of the day: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens (Mira).

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Great reading in the Garden State. Barista Kids noted that "an entire body of children's literature about our fair state may be found in our local bookstores," and explored Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, and Words Bookstore, Maplewood, for examples of New Jersey reads for young adults and children.

"I think it's really important for kids to know that where they live can be the basis for an exciting story," said Margot Sage-EL, Watchung's owner.

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When his current lease expires in June, Richard Cook, owner of Sunrise Books, Berkeley, Calif., plans to get out of the business after 37 years. The Contra Costa Times reported that Cook "has spoken to a couple of people interested in buying the store but if he can't put together a deal, Sunrise Books will probably close."

"Our heydays were definitely in the late '80s and on into the early '90s," Cook said. "Then things started to get a little tougher. First the chains discovered the literature and began to sell it more prominently. Then Amazon made it increasingly a challenge. Any store that wants to stay in business has to sell on the Internet and we do. There are just a lot of forces that are at work that weren't at work before."

Acknowledging that there has been "an overall slow decline in sales," he added, "Someone could make a go of it if they can put the energy into it. I can't put the energy into it."

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Tina Fey's approach to author events while promoting her book Bossypants is, as might be expected, just a little bit different. TV.com reported that Fey has "been prone to signing other names entirely onto Bossypants cover pages (like Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa), and in at least one instance, writing, 'Help, I'm stuck in a Korean Tina Fey autograph factory!'--a spin on the classic fortune-cookie meme that predates the Internet by approximately 5,000 years."

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"Confusion about the nature of the so-called information age has led to a state of collective false consciousness," wrote Robert Darnton in his Chronicle of Higher Education essay looking at what he calls the 5 Myths About the "Information Age":

  1. The book is dead.
  2. We have entered the information age.
  3. All information is now available online.
  4. Libraries are obsolete.
  5. The future is digital.

"I mention these misconceptions because I think they stand in the way of understanding shifts in the information environment," Darnton observed. "They make the changes appear too dramatic. They present things ahistorically and in sharp contrasts--before and after, either/or, black and white. A more nuanced view would reject the common notion that old books and e-books occupy opposite and antagonistic extremes on a technological spectrum. Old books and e-books should be thought of as allies, not enemies. "

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Robert Irwin, author most recently of Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties, picked his top 10 quest narratives for the Guardian.

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Flavorwire paid tribute to the deaths of our favorite secondary characters in literature, noting, "We all grieve when the protagonist of a novel dies, but how about when we mourn over characters who aren't as prominent?... From the unexpected deaths to the horribly slow ones, we offer you ten secondary characters who passed too soon but who will not be forgotten."

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"The literary clock is ticking." The Guardian asked readers "to help us build 24 hours of fictional time using lines from literature."

 


DK Publishing: Star Wars Coding Projects by Jon Woodcock


Cool Idea of the Day: Book Giveaway at 35,000 Feet

In the days of Don Draper, "Coffee, tea, or me?" was what airline passengers expected when they stepped on board. Times have changed, and so have in-flight offers. No, we're not talking about pretzels versus peanuts or even the SkyMall catalog: we're talking books. Algonquin has teamed up with Great Lakes Airlines to offer 1,000 copies of the novel Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West to 1,000 ticketed passengers traveling with the carrier over this Easter holiday weekend. The giveaway is part of Great Lakes Airlines' "Reading Makes Time Fly" program.

Blind Your Ponies is based on the true story of a Montana town brought together by its boys' basketball team. Chosen as the 2011 One Book Montana, West's novel, called by some fans "the little book that could," shows how the hamlet of Willow Creek is inspired by a motley team and its devoted coach. Originally a self-published book that sold more than 40,000 copies, Blind Your Ponies was released in January by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 09.18.17


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Plastiki

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: David de Rothschild, author of Plastiki: An Adventure to Save Our Oceans (Chronicle Books, $27.50, 9781452100029).

Also on Morning Joe: Vince Bugliosi, author of Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (Vanguard Press, $26.99, 9781593156299).

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Sunday on CBS' Sunday Morning: Michael Farquhar, author of Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain (Random House, $15, 9780812979046).

 


Berkley Books: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


Movie: The Bang-Bang Club

The Bang-Bang Club, a movie about four young photojournalists, called the Bang-Bang Club, who documented the last, bloody days of apartheid in South Africa, had its U.S. premiere last night at the Tribeca Film Festival and opens today in New York City, Chicago and Southern California and next week in more cities across North America. Written and directed by Steven Silver, the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach. See the trailer here.

The tie-in book is The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots From a Hidden War by João Silva and Greg Marinovich, the two surviving members of the quartet (Basic Books, $16.99, 9780465019786). Yesterday Fresh Air spoke with Silva, who lost both legs in a landmine explosion in Afghanistan last October while on contract for the New York Times and is now recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Marinovich, who has been shot four times while covering conflicts around the world. Marinovich appears tomorrow evening at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in Manhattan in Pen to Paper, a conversation with Steven Silver.


 


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Television: The Little Leftover Witch

Chris Colfer (Glee) has written a pilot that the Disney Channel is about to shoot, Deadline.com reported. The Little Leftover Witch, based on Florence Laughlin's children’s book, is "about a little witch who was taken in by a family after crash-landing from her broom. The book was originally optioned by Rick Fine, the husband of Colfer's Coast to Coast agent Meredith Fine, who brought the property to Chris to adapt."

 


Owlkids: Letters to a Prisoner by Jacques Goldstyn



Books & Authors

Awards: PubWest Book Design Award

The Publishers Association of the West has announced the winners of the PubWest Book Design Awards, recognizing excellent design and outstanding production quality of books from independent publishers. To see them, go to pubwest.org. Winners will be honored at PubWest's national publishing conference November 3-5 in Henderson, Nev.

 


Book Brahmin: Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly barely needs an introduction--his books have sold 42 million copies worldwide and been translated into 39 languages. A former newspaper reporter who worked the crime beat at the Los Angeles Times and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Connelly has won many awards for his journalism and his fiction. He's written 23 novels and one work of nonfiction. His latest, The Fifth Witness, a Lincoln Lawyer novel, was just released by Little, Brown.

 

On your nightstand now:

Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I think any Hardy Boys story. My brothers and I motored through them pretty quickly.

Your top five authors:

The five who made me want to write were Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Joseph Wambaugh, Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Harris.

Book you've faked reading:

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (in college, still got a B).

Book you're an evangelist for:

Miami Purity by Vicki Hendricks. I've always loved that book for what's in it and for the risks the author took in writing it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I discovered the work of James Lee Burke simply because I was drawn to the cover of Neon Rain. This was fortuitous because I later sent my first novel to Burke's agent Philip Spitzer, and he took me on.

Book that changed your life:

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. I was a casual reader of genre fiction. This book made me want to write it.

Favorite line from a book:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."--first line of Neuromancer by William Gibson

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. It's a book that teaches as well as it entertains.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $26.95 hardcover, 9780670021048, May 3, 2011)

 

Geraldine Brooks has a canny knack for unearthing a piece of history, bringing it to light and engaging us with it. She did so in Year of Wonders, a novel of the 17th-century plague, and in March (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), bringing to life the Civil War through the absent father of Little Women. Most recently, People of the Book (2008) retraced the journey of the Sarajevo Haggadah. On the nonfiction side, her Nine Parts of Desire told the story of Islamic women long before it was in the headlines.

She has done it again in Caleb's Crossing. Caleb (born Cheeshahteaumauck) is the younger son of Nahnoso, the Nobnocket sonquem (leader). His "crossing" takes place as he leaves his Wampanoag heritage and crosses over to the Puritan Christians in the late 1600s on Martha's Vineyard. Sonquem is just one of the many Wampanoag words Brooks incorporates, inviting the reader to learn what they mean in context. Her use of that vocabulary is part of her artful way of putting the reader exactly in the picture. The sonorous cadences and formal style used at that time, both in writing and speech, are the perfect vehicle for telling the story in an authentic and compelling way.

The narrator is Bethia Mayfield, 12 years old when the story begins. She is growing up in Great Harbor, a small settlement of pioneers and Puritans led by her father, the minister. She meets Caleb on the island and they form a secret friendship. Bethia is intrigued by a ritual that she witnesses; it is the beginning of her tolerance of different ways of worship. Three years later, Caleb comes to live in Bethia's home, invited by her father, who has converted him and now wishes to educate him, first at Cambridge School and then at Harvard College. This part of the story is based on fact: in 1665 a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Brooks marches forth on this slender historical snippet, creating a story of faith, love, hardship and loss.

Bethia longs for education, denied because of gender. Her brother, Makepeace, a dullard and a bully throughout most of the story, attends Cambridge because Bethia is indentured there to pay his fees. She works in the scullery, listening through windows and doorways to every lecture she can, thereby educating herself. When Makepeace is finally released from the hated bonds of academe, he becomes a real person and a friend to Bethia. Caleb is there at the same time, distinguishing himself as a scholar. His heritage is never left behind completely, however. Caleb's uncle, the powerful shaman Tequamuck, figures prominently in the story. His magic is brought to bear as revenge for the conversion of Caleb.

The outcome for all of these people--Caleb; Bethia and Noah, the man she is supposed to marry; Joel, Caleb's Wampanoag classmate; Bethia's parents; Samuel, son of the man to whom Bethia is indentured--is an altogether absorbing story by this masterful author of historical fiction.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: An absorbing story set in the 1600s on Martha's Vineyard, by a masterful author of historical fiction.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Booktopia' at the BOTNS Readers' Retreat

Sometimes an event that seems fresh and innovative when you are in the middle of it gradually loses luster afterward. Not this time. It has been almost two weeks since I attended the Books on the Nightstand Readers' Retreat in Manchester, Vt., and left energized by the atmosphere Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness fostered there (Shelf Awareness, April 15, 2011). My enthusiasm has not waned.

I've asked myself why. The answer seems too simple and yet inevitable: If you spend a considerable amount of time obsessed with the past, present and future of the book, you occasionally forget about readers as individuals. The BOTNS retreat was an excellent refresher course.

For example, Linda Johnson and a friend drove from Ohio to participate. In the Springfield News-Sun, she wrote, "The attendees are still communicating online about how wonderful the weekend--christened 'booktopia'--was. All are eager to do it again. Others who could not attend want to next time."

She also told me about something she'd overheard at the retreat: "Someone commented that most of us were probably introverts (true in my case), but how outgoing we were. My realization was that I don't often know how to get involved in 'small talk,' but books I can talk about. So, if outside the retreat I talk to someone who doesn't read much, we don't have anything in common to generate the talk. At the retreat, we were like-minded and could discuss our passion."

Those casual conversations among readers played a central role in creating booktopia, and the author sessions offered participants a chance to peek behind the book industry's curtain--or between its pages, perhaps.

At one session, Katie Henderson, an editor at Other Press, and author John Milliken Thompson discussed their work together on his novel The Reservoir, which will be published this June.

"Pretend that we're 20 people at a dinner party with a great author and a great editor," Ann said in her introduction. "I thought it would be really fun to talk with an author who is in this process right now."

And it was. Readers don't meet editors every day. On receiving an ARC of John's novel, one audience member said, "I've never read an ARC before. Can you tell me the difference between that and a final copy?"

It was a good question, which they answered. There were many other great questions, particularly for Katie: Do you still read for pleasure? Do you ever read something and wish you could steal that author? How can we follow an editor like you and learn about your next books? Could you name a book you've edited that was successful, and one that didn't reach the pinnacle you wished for it?

"Two things really stood out to me," said Katie. "First, the feeling of camaraderie among the attendees and authors was almost immediate. If there was ice to be broken, it was long gone by the time I got to the welcome reception on Friday night. Ann and Michael have built a community using their podcast and website that already understands how to interact. We all just take our cue from our hosts, who are--effortlessly, tirelessly--friendly, intelligent, and enthusiastic. If you respect and appreciate Ann and Michael enough to come to Vermont with a bunch of strangers and talk books, you're already okay with me.
 
"Second, I felt incredibly lucky, as an editor, to be able to mingle with so many wonderful readers. As a group, editors tend to spend the majority of their book chat on each other, talking to other publishing folk and of course reading reviews. The occasional cases when we get to witness a book club meeting over one of our books or spy on a particularly meaty Goodreads discussion are invaluable, but all too rare. I loved talking to the readers at the retreat, and it made me want to work twice as hard to find books they’ll love and get them into the best possible shape."

Although John has written several nonfiction books, he said that, as a debut novelist, he had "never been to anything remotely like the BOTNS retreat, so the bar has now been set unrealistically high. My book comes out in two months, and I can't imagine a better, more congenial, more stress-free setting for launching a book promotion."

He added that one of the things that made the retreat "especially appealing was its spontaneous feel: Katie and I were drinking wine at the Manchester Inn on opening night, mingling with book lovers and other authors, and then we found ourselves heading out in a caravan with Ann Kingman, her Australian friend and two young teachers to a boisterous tavern called the Perfect Wife, where we stood around talking, then sat down to platters of meatloaf and barbecue (yes, in Vermont), while talking about Dickens and J.K. Rowling and e-books vs. real books. And Matt Dicks and his lovely wife entertained us with hilarious stories about their book group. "

As I mentioned in last week's column, telling the BOTNS retreat story requires time and space. Next week, we'll conclude with a few thoughts from some of the other writers, including Matthew Dicks's intriguing last-second decision at the Saturday night Authors Celebration "to forgo speaking about my work in favor of encouraging the audience to write."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


The Bestsellers

In Demand: Most-Ordered Nonfiction Hardcovers

The following were the most-ordered upcoming spring/summer nonfiction hardcovers on Edelweiss during the last 60 days. The listings include links to the titles on Edelweiss and links to the publishers' e-catalogues:

  1. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Crown, May 10) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  2. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steve Tyler (Ecco, May 3)  HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
  3. The Maine Summers Cookbook by Linda Greenlaw (Penguin/Studio, June 30)  Adult Hardcover Summer 2011
  4. What? by Mark Kurlansky (Walker, April 26) BLOOMSBURY WALKER ADULT SPRING 2011
  5. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper, April 26) HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
  6. Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich (Doubleday, July 12) *Random House Adult Green Omni, Su11
  7. The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria (Norton, May 31) Norton and Affiliates Spring 2011 Combined
  8. Alphabetter Juice by Roy Blount, Jr. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 10 2011 FSG ADULT - SPRING 2011
  9. Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe (Holt, April 26) HOLT ADULT - SPRING 2011
  10. The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum (Crown, April 26) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11

 

[Many thanks to Above the Treeline and Edelweiss!]

 


Feiwel & Friends: The Principal's Underwear Is Missing by Holly Kowitt
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