Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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

WI8 Book Buzz Part II: Indie Presses, Sleepers & Nonfiction

One of the great things about Winter Institute is the opportunity for independent booksellers to exchange enthusiasm for forthcoming books. This is especially true of the gems that independent book publishers will be presenting this week in Kansas City.

Before anyone boarded a plane for Winter Institute 8, booksellers who got their hands on early galleys of David Rhodes's Jewelweed (Milkweed Editions, May) were telling their book buyer friends about it. "I've been hearing about that one, and I'll be hunting it down," said Geoffrey Jennings at Rainy Day Books in Kansas City. While it's always hard to pick favorites, Sheryl Cotleur from Copperfield's in Petaluma, Calif., said Rhodes's new book is one of her top two books she read before Winter Institute (Brewster by Mark Slouka, from Norton, is the other). Jewelweed, Cotleur said, is set in the same community as Rhodes's Driftless, with a new cast of characters. She described Jewelweed as "not just a feel-good story--because there's lots of grit to go through while you get there."

Many booksellers are excited about meeting Rhodes at the Winter Institute because they read his fiction published in the 1970s, before he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, and welcomed his return to fiction with the publication of Driftless in 2008. Milkweed created this video with booksellers praising Driftless and looking forward to Jewelweed.

It's always fun when someone in the book business becomes an author, and while Matt Bell, senior editor of Dzanc Books, has published stories and a critically acclaimed novella, in June Soho will publish his first novel, In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods. In a starred review, Library Journal said, "Bell puts the fable in fabulism." Bell has been compared with Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges.

Many booksellers arrive at Winter Institute with specific indie presses to target in their galley gathering. "I love books by Other Press," said Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn. "I'll be looking for them." Other Press's Paul Kozlowski suggested two books that the company will highlight in Kansas City: Cécile David-Weill's novel The Suitors, a "rather wicked look at how the nouveaux riches are infecting the precincts of old money, specifically a big pile on the Cote d'Azur," by an author who knows everyone from Isaac Mizrahi to Ina Garten; and Edoardo Nesi's Story of My People, a memoir about how globalization and the "tentacles of the Chinese economic octopus," forced him to sell his family's textile manufacturing business, written by the Italian translator of American authors as varied as Stephen King and David Foster Wallace.

Europa Editions--a long-time favorite of indie booksellers, known for its urban noir titles--is presenting its World Noir Reader, a primer for a series of books set in various locales, including Jean-Claude Izzo's Total Chaos (set in Marseilles), Benjamin Tammuz's Minotaur (Europe) and Gene Kerrigan's The Rage (Dublin). "The Rage is already selling really well for us," said Bill Cusumano at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor, Mich. "My 20- and 30-year-old employees are excited about [World Noir Reader]," said Gayle Shanks, from Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz. "I've heard them talking about it in the break room."

Philbrick from Bank Square Books said Sourcebooks has recently been on her fiction radar; she had high praise for The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier. "She sort of wraps you around this small town in Maine and brings you in," Phlibrick explained. It's a place where some people stop to let others pass on the one-lane bridge and others do not. "It's not the whole story, but it sets it up."

A couple of indie presses are fairly new to the scene: Prospect Park Press (Consortium) and MP Publishing (PGW). Prospect Park--named for founder Colleen Dunn Bates's Pasadena, Calif., neighborhood, and not the park in Brooklyn, N.Y.--released Helen of Pasadena, the debut by Lian Dolan (one of syndicated radio's "Satellite Sisters"), as its first fiction title in 2010. Prospect Park is bringing Dolan to Winter Institute 8 for her second novel, Elizabeth, the First Wife, about a community college Shakespeare professor. Sherri Gallentine from Vroman's in Pasadena, Calif., had this to share: "Lian Dolan has been a great supporter of Vroman's over the years, and one of the joys of independent bookselling is being able to have wonderful relationships between authors and our store. We are looking forward to another bestseller."

Galleys for MP titles were not available beforehand, but there will be ample copies in Kansas City for Aesop's Secret by Claudia White, about siblings with the ability to metamorphose, and Horse Latitudes by Morris Collins, a modern gothic set in Central America. Mark Pearce, MP's founder, is making the trip of from the Isle of Man to attend and mingle with booksellers.

Two Dollar Radio is bringing Bennett Simms, an Iowa Writer's Workshop graduate whose fiction has appeared in Zoetrope and Tin House, to talk about his philosophical novel, A Questionable Shape, which is supposed to turn zombie literature on its head.

Winter Institute has also become a good place for publishers to showcase authors they hope will gain an even bigger readership than they already have; e.g., Philip Kerr, whose ninth Bernie Gunter novel, A Man Without Breath, will be highlighted by Putnam. Others present sleepers--titles they hope booksellers will latch onto and sell to book clubs--like Frances and Bernard, a debut epistolary novel by memoirist (Not That Kind of Girl) Carlene Bauer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Gayle Shanks admitted that she is not overly keen on novels told though letters, but she completely fell for Frances and Bernard. "It's based on Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell," said Shanks. "It reminded me of On Agate Hill [by Lee Smith]." Frances and Bernard opens in 1957, when the two meet at a writer's colony.

While Winter Institute might be best known for fiction breakouts, it is not without its nonfiction standouts. Kenny Brechner at Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, is high on Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper, April). "It's a great nonfiction title about B-52s that were lost in Greenland and how they were found last year," he said. And Jennings recalled how last year's Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and a Love Reclaimed by Leslie Maitland (Other Press) went on to be a big indie bookseller bestseller after its introduction at Winter Institute.

Tomorrow: YA and children's book buzz.  --Bridget Kinsella

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Correction: We incorrectly quoted Cathy Langer about her enthusiasm for two young narrators in two buzz books yesterday: Devi in On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman (Graywolf) and Darling in We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown). Langer's blurb for On Sal Mal Lane reads: "Devi reminds me of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Swede from Peace Like a River, small girls who make very large impressions, and I'm sure that On Sal Mal Lane will join their ranks as a new perennial favorite of booksellers, librarians and of course, readers." While she was also deeply affected by Darling in We Need New Names, Langer clarified, "they are very different little girls." We regret the error and hope it does not confuse anyone looking forward to meeting these girls on the page this season.

Also, We Need New Names is NoViolet Bulawayo's debut novel.

Other Press: The Fall by Diogo Mainardi

New BAM Store to Open in Michigan

Books-A-Million plans to open a bookstore in the Corners Shopping Center, Beverly Hills, Mich., at the site of a former Borders location, the Detroit Free Press reported in an article exploring how new tenants are transforming big-box spaces left behind by now-shuttered Circuit City and Borders stores.

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

Amazon's Seattle Complex Construction Begins in June

Excavation is scheduled to begin this June in Seattle for the first phase of Amazon's three-block high-rise complex in Denny Triangle, with the buildings anticipated to be finished by late 2015 or early 2016, the Seattle Times reported. Jeff Giuzio, development manager for Seneca Group, said the timetable for the second and third blocks is uncertain and "dependent on future Amazon head count growth." The first block scheduled for development will include a 37-story tower and "a low-rise meeting hall seating up to 1,800."

Princeton Architectural Press: Worn Stories by Emily Spivack

Anthology Book Co. to Close

Anthology Book Co., Loveland, Colo., will close this spring after 25 years in business. Co-owners Stephanie and Mark Stauder plan to remain open through May 15. On the shop's Facebook page, the Stauders expressed "sadness" for having to make the decision as well as gratitude to their customers.

"Bookselling is not the same business it was 10 years ago when my husband, Mark, and I purchased Anthology," said Stephanie. "Amazon.com was still cutting its teeth, and e-readers simply didn't exist. Last summer, when we decided to reinvest in Anthology, I knew it was our chance to either 'Go big, or go home.' "

A major renovation, including a new coffee shop and cafe, did not ultimately counterbalance the decline in book sales. "You can't run a bookstore if you're not selling books," she added. "So for me, it's time to 'go home.' I have three young boys, all under the age of 5, and it's time to invest myself in my family, not this business anymore."

Resurrection House: Rudolph! by Mark Teppo

18,000 Miles on the Road: A Tour of America's Readers and Bookstores

Jenny Milchman has embarked on what may be the longest author tour ever. This is the first installment of her notes from her trip:

On February 1, my husband and children and I set out on the first leg of a bookstore-to-bookstore odyssey across America. The reason for the tour is the release (after a 13-year journey of its own) of my debut novel, Cover of Snow (Ballantine). Seven months on the road is a long time, though, and there is more to it than the publication of just one book. We are also celebrating a cultural resource: bookstores and the people who are keeping them alive.

During the tour, we are "car-schooling" our first- and third-grade children. Part of their education will be seeing the landscape change as the bookstores do--and maybe the bookstores change the landscape. I believe that bookstores are a force with the potential to shape the industry during this time of upheaval and change, even as they are shaped by it.

Here's the thing about the tour so far.

Every single day has been different.

At Otto's, a Booklover's Paradise, in Williamsport, Pa., I was seated at a table that customers could come up to. Our conversations ranged from the bitter cold outside (12 degrees) to why I wrote my book. But the most unusual and personal aspect of the night was that after the signing we spent the night in the bookseller's own quaint Victorian home. Paradise, indeed.

Jaimie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books

Another early event was hosted by Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., but held at the Washington Club, which wanted to offer a roster of literary events for its members. The bookstore hosted a dinner, preceded by cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, in the historic mansion that houses the club.

I was joined by authors Allison Leotta and Anthony Franze to discuss balancing work, writing and everything else. Some of the attendees were emerging writers, others were readers out for a night on the town. The conversation flowed as generously as the wine. Authors, guests and booksellers Sarah Baline and Liz Hottel all felt like dear friends by the end of the night. It was like a wedding, but with books.

There was a Barnes & Noble in Greensboro, which proved that booklovers inhabit the biggest of the big box stores. Two nights later was a small, intimate event at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, where I met the sales rep from my own publishing house. 

The Throne Room and Wall of Fame at Quail Ridge Books

At Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, 60 people turned out to see a hometown debut novelist named Lee Mims who was kind enough to pair with me for a joint event. As a new novelist, there's little like addressing a large crowd where you don't know a single person. Or getting to be in the lofty company of all the authors who have come to this bookstore--and who are on display in the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom.

Pete Mock of McIntyre's in Pittsboro took the two-writers format a little further, choosing to interview me and a self-published author named Nora Gaskin about the pros and cons of publishing with a major house or on your own. 

At Park Road Books in Charlotte, the booksellers are human "you might also like" buttons. One customer told me that she found my book on the shelf after the bookstore owner told her about it. "And if Sally says something, I know it's true," this woman added, demonstrating that handselling is still one of the most powerful ways to discover a book.

Here are three takeaways from the trip so far:

  • Bookstores are finding ways to support local authors, even as the authors support them, in a perhaps unsurprising symbiosis.
  • Publishers working with booksellers can put an author on the map in a way that isn't done virtually.
  • People keep asking me if answering the same questions is getting boring, and I can honestly say that even when the question is the same, the audience and the response are totally different.

Our last stop in North Carolina was Malaprop's Bookstore Cafe in Asheville, and that's where I discovered the real meaning of the tour so far. This event was a small one, perhaps six people in the audience. But two of them were writers I'd known virtually for years, who had traveled all the way from South Carolina so we could meet in person. Another was a woman I hadn't seen since high school. One was a stranger, one a colleague of my husband. And there was a bookseller named Virginia, whose passion for books was surpassed only by her love of readers. By the end of the night, this wildly disparate group of people had come together over a talk about writing and struggling toward your dreams. If connections like these can keep being made, then I know that every single mile will be a meaningful one.

Hope to see you somewhere on the road!

Obituary Note: Donald Richie

Donald Richie, one of the most prominent American writers on Japan "who wrote prolifically not just on film and culture, but also on his own travels and experiences living in a nation that he watched rise from the wartime ashes to high-tech affluence and then stumble again," died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 88.

Notes

Image of the Day: 'A Boat to Carry You Across Oceans'

An exceptional shelf talker--written by Casey O'Neil of Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash. Many thanks to eagle-eyed photographer George Carroll.

Bookstore Video of the Day: 'Kobo vs. Kindle'

The "e-team" at Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., created this video to explain why the store likes Kobo e-readers. Tag line: "Friends don't let friends buy Kindles."

From BEA's Kitchen: 'Have Your (Cup)cake and Read it Too!'

Yann Martel's Life of Pi provides the culinary inspiration for the first "Have Your (Cup)cake and Read It Too" video in a new series from BookExpo America's blog, Book Bliss, in association with HuffPost Books.

For each video, Book Bliss blogger Cassandra Lobo and HuffPost Books associate editor Zoë Triska will choose a book to read, then Lobo will create a recipe and cupcake reflecting the book's themes.

For Life of Pi, Lobo noted that she "created a cupcake with many layers to reflect the many 'layers' that are revealed as you read deeper into the book. The base of the cupcake is a twisting mesh between dyed-orange French vanilla and chocolate cake to resemble Pi and Richard Parker's intertwined fate. The frosting was prepared with the color orange in mind--a symbol of hope and survival--and interlaced with crushed biscuits which sustained Pi throughout the book and also the anchor of the cupcake."

BinC Launches 2013 Scholarship Program

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BinC) is now accepting applications for this year's scholarship program, which will offer awards of up to $100,000 to 35 bookstore employees, bookstore owners, former Borders employees or their dependents in need of financial assistance for higher education.

The scholarship program has given more than $1 million in awards to nearly 500 people since its creation in 2001. Selection criteria include financial need, academic success, work experience, leadership capabilities and more. This year the awards process will be handled by Scholarship Management Services.

BinC began in 1996 as the Borders Group Foundation, providing assistance to Borders employees across the country who were in dire financial straits. Since Borders's bankruptcy in 2011, the organization changed its name and expanded its mission to include employees of all bricks-and-mortar bookstores across the United States.

More information on the BinC's scholarship program can be found here. The deadline to apply is April 18.

Personnel Changes at Lonely Planet

Leslie Davisson has been promoted to director, trade channel marketing and national accounts for Lonely Planet, overseeing channel marketing for all physical retail accounts and responsible for Canadian sales. She was formerly senior print marketing manager.

Rana Freedman has been promoted to senior manager, consumer marketing and communications, for Lonely Planet. She will manage PR, partnerships, market research, corporate communications and digital marketing in the Americas. She was previously the public relations and communications manager.

Book Trailer of the Day: Steampunk Magic

Steampunk Magic: Working Magic Aboard the Airship by Gypsey Elaine Teague (Red Wheel/Weiser), from the branch head of the Gunnin Architecture Library at Clemson University.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: George Saunders on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on CNN's Starting Point: Nell Beram and Carolyn Borris-Krimsky, authors of Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies (Amulet Books, $24.95, 9781419704444).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Gesine Bullock-Prado, author of Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 9781617690136).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: George Saunders, author of Tenth of December (Random House, $26, 9780812993806). In this second part of a two-part interview, "George Saunders delves further into the dark-comic twists and turns of his recent short story collection, Tenth of December. Saunders talks about the place of humor and irony in his writing, and ways fiction can respond to the current degraded state of life in America."

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Amity Gaige, author of Schroder: A Novel (Twelve, $21.99, 9781455512133).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Sam Parnia, co-author of Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062080608).

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Tomorrow on the Dr. Oz Show: Marla Heller, author of The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution (Grand Central, $22.99, 9781455512799).

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Tomorrow night on Charlie Rose: Clive Davis, author of The Soundtrack of My Life (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476714783).

TV: War & Peace

An "epic," six-part television adaptation Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace will be written by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Little Dorrit, Bleak House) and broadcast initially on BBC One. The Telegraph reported that the "lengthy philosophical elements of the book will be left out, with the show focusing on the human relationships, romance and family struggles instead." Davies hopes to cast an unknown as Natasha, with Pierre and Andrei played by more experienced actors.

"These people are just like us; their emotions are so recognizable," he said. "The characters are so natural and human and easy to identify with and Natasha Rostova just beats Lizzy Bennet as the most lovable heroine in literature. In a way, I think it will be quite manageable, because quite a lot of the book is taken up with Tolstoy's theories on history and his account of why Napoleon was defeated in the Russian campaign. But at the heart of the book, it is a story of four families and the interaction between them, with certain characters we get to care about and love very much. It's a very intimate story, despite the fact it involves armies of thousands. People found the book so enormous. This will be a way of doing it."

Books & Authors

Awards: Duff Cooper Shortlist

Finalists have been named for the £5,000 (US$7,731) Duff Cooper Prize, given annually for a "work of history, biography, political science or (very occasionally) poetry, published in English or French." This year's Duff Cooper shortlisted books are:

Bertie by Jane Ridley
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer
Darwin's Ghosts by Rebecca Stott
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane
Strindberg: A Life by Sue Prideaux 

Book Brahmin: Melanie Shankle

In July 2005, in need of a creative outlet, Melanie Shankle began writing a blog called The Big Mama. Since then, her blog readership grew beyond her wildest dreams. In addition to her own blog, Shankle is a regular contributor to several others, including The Pioneer Woman. Her debut book, Sparkly Green Earrings (Tyndale House, February 8, 2013), recounts personal tales of motherhood. Shankle lives in San Antonio, Tex., with her husband and daughter.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and it will stay with me forever. Deeply moving. And now I've moved on to the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins because I felt like the last person on the planet who hasn't read them yet.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I don't know how I could pick just one. I was that kid who turned my closet shelves into a library and let my friends check out books. A few that come to mind are The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, the entire Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and anything that Judy Blume wrote. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was the first book I read that made me laugh until I cried.

Your top five authors:

How do I choose? I have such a deep respect for anyone who knows how to put words together. Kelly Corrigan, Anne Lamott, Erma Bombeck, J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis. How's that for a mixed group?

Book you've faked reading:

Other than maybe Beowulf for a high school literature class, I can't think of a book I've faked reading. And for the record, I don't regret not reading it. It's kind of like Algebra II; I've never needed it in real life.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. It is beautifully written and will make you laugh and cry on the same page.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Honestly? I don't know that I've ever bought a book for the cover. I'm more of a read the back cover and decide if it sounds interesting kind of girl.

Book that changed your life:

I would have to say One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Not only did it make me want to be a better writer, it made me look at every day with gratitude for every gift I've been given by God.

Favorite line from a book:

I actually keep a notebook filled with my favorite lines from books so it's hard to narrow it down. But here are two that immediately come to mind: "If you want one thing too much, it's likely to be a disappointment. The healthy way is to learn to like the everyday things, like soft beds and buttermilk--and feisty gentlemen." --from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." --from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

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

Probably Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I wasn't prepared for how hauntingly beautiful and deeply spiritual it would be and, even though I've read it again, there's nothing like discovering it the first time and the amazement at how the story weaves together. But I also loved The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I've read them several times, but there is nothing like discovering them for the first time. It's pure storytelling magic.

Book Review

Children's Review: Hoop Genius

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, illus. by Joe Morse (Carolrhoda/Lerner, $16.95 hardcover, 32p., ages 7-11, 9780761366171, March 1, 2013)

John Coy (the 4 for 4 series) here blends his demonstrated knowledge of sports with a fascinating picture-book history of basketball.

Following in the footsteps of two failed teachers, James Naismith hopes that three's the charm when, in December 1891, he takes on a "rowdy" gym class in Springfield, Mass. The first day, Naismith tries indoor football, the next day, indoor soccer, and, on the third day, he tries his favorite, lacrosse. Every one of these activities is too rough. Naismith will not give up. He sees himself in these boys who are "energetic, impatient, and eager for something exciting." But how can Naismith avoid serious physical contact (judging by the bandages in the illustrations)? He'd come up with a whole new game. 

Coy shows how, for Naismith, necessity is the mother of invention. The teacher thought of a game from his childhood in Canada, "Duck on a Rock," for which "accuracy was more valuable than force." Then Naismith got the idea of a goal that required "an arcing throw." On December 21, 1891, he used a soccer ball and two peach baskets provided by the building's superintendent, posted the rules, and promised the class that if it didn't work, he wouldn't try further experiments. Joe Morse's (Casey at the Bat) illustrations in a limited palette of burgundy, cornflower blue and sepia tones stay true to the era in style and detail, yet also convey the unbridled enthusiasm and kinetic energy of the players. Readers will quickly see why the young men couldn't wait to teach their friends and neighbors the new game of basketball during their Christmas vacation, and why the game caught on. Naismith was also ahead of his time in permitting women to play the game (and it paid off--one of them later became his wife).

The copious author notes and bibliography attest to Coy's thorough research, and a reproduction of Naismith's original rules of the game on the endpapers make this a terrific story to share with basketball fans of all ages. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: This handsomely designed picture-book history of the game of basketball, invented by a desperate gym teacher for his "rowdy" students, will appeal to fans of all ages.

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