Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 16, 2015


Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero by Patricia McCormick, illustrated by Bruno Iacopo

Workman Publishing: Hog Wild!: A Frenzy of Dance Music by Sandra Boynton

Other Press: For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian

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

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

News

Fifty Shades of Grey Returns to College Bookstore

The Boston College Bookstore has returned E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Gray to the shelves, according to the Boston Globe. Last week, the Heights, the student newspaper, reported that the Follett store had pulled James's books after a complaint was made to the store and school administration requesting that the books not be sold.

Boston College spokesperson Jack Dunn told the Globe that after Follett decided to pull the books, the school urged Follett to reconsider its decision, keeping in mind "the inappropriateness of banning books at a university."

Follett rep Elio DiStaola told the Globe that when complaints are made, "we pull the book, have a conversation, and make a determination. In this case, we put it back on the shelf."

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Fifty Shades of Gray is in the news in North Carolina, too. The Gaston Gazette reported that the series is highlighted in a Books-A-Million display in the Franklin Square store in Gastonia under a sign reading, "It's Easter. What we recommend."

Several customers, including Christian blogger Barry Simmons, don't like the pairing of the Christian holiday with the series. BAM has said that corporate policy is to display bestselling items beneath seasonal signs.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.22.17


New Owners for Our Town Books, Jacksonville, Ill.

Jim and Sally Nurss, who founded Our Town Books, Jacksonville, Ill., in 2011, are selling the store to Andy and Jennifer Mitchell, effective June 1, according to the Journal. Jim Nurss told the paper: "We're going to try retiring again [and] see if we can get it right this time."

Our Town Books sells new and "good-quality" used books in a historic building in downtown Jacksonville. Strong categories include contemporary fiction, children's books, Civil War history and "books with a local flavor."


AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


James Patterson Donating New Book to First Book

Nice move! A week after announcing that he is giving $1.25 million to school libraries this year, James Patterson is partnering with First Book to donate 100,000 copies of his new middle-grade book, Public School Superhero--being published tomorrow by Little, Brown--to under-resourced schools and youth programs.

Patterson said he made the donation after recognizing "a large and underserved community of children who don't see themselves portrayed in dynamic, entertaining stories often enough." Those children inspired Public School Superhero, co-written by Chris Tebbetts and illustrated by Cory Thomas, which is about an African American sixth-grade chess devotee named Kenny Wright who lives in an inner city.

"Books are windows that allow kids to explore new worlds and mirrors that reflect and validate their lives," said First Book president and CEO Kyle Zimmer. "We believe all kids should have the opportunity to see themselves in the books they read regardless of their circumstances--and we're thrilled that James Patterson is making that possible through his writing and his donation of Public School Superhero."


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Fantasy Sports 3: The Green King by Sam Bosma


Brilliant's Book of the Month Club Changing Name

Brilliant Books' manager Jack Hannert selecting titles for the program.

Brilliant Books, Traverse City, Mich., has been told to stop using the phrase "Book of the Month Club" for its personalized book selection service. Bookspan, owner of BOMC, has demanded Brilliant "cease and desist" using of the term by the end of the month.

Store owner Peter Makin said, "We were stunned. We had no idea this wasn't terminology in general usage. 'Book of the Month' is a common term used by bookstores, libraries and reading groups across the country. It seems as absurd as us trying to stop folks using the adjective 'brilliant' when describing literature."

Makin added that the cease-and-desist order is especially frustrating because the program has done well and gotten a lot of publicity. "We were poised to launch a new marketing campaign based on that good press, and all those plans are scuppered. We apparently can't even cite those articles as they contain words we can no longer use."

(One of those stories with the offending phrase, which appeared a month ago in Shelf Awareness, can be found here.)

Despite his objections to the objection, Makin has decided to change the name. The temporary moniker is Brilliant Books Monthly Selection Service. The store has asked on social media for suggestions for a permanent name and will let fans vote on a new name in the coming weeks.


International Crime: Pushkin Launches Pushkin Vertigo

In September, in the U.K. and North America, Pushkin Press is launching Pushkin Vertigo, an imprint that will feature crime classics from around the world by international masters from the 1920s to the 1970s. The authors are well known in their original countries, and some have been translated into English previously. The company noted the popularity of international crime on TV and in books and said its Pushkin Vertigo titles have been "carefully selected by Pushkin's editors to feed the needs of those addicted to crime literature--the 'binge' readers."

Stephanie Seegmuller, co-editor of Pushkin Vertigo, commented: "The Pushkin Vertigo books are truly for everyone who loves classic crime, from Agatha Christie to Robert Chandler."

Daniel Seton, also a co-editor, called the imprint "very much a natural continuation of Pushkin Press's mission to unearth international literature's hidden gems--these stories are enjoyable, gripping and classy."

Pushkin Vertigo is releasing six titles this year:

Vertigo by Boileau-Narcejac, the pen name of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (the book was the basis for Hitchcock's movie--and the name of the new imprint)
She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac
The Disappearance of Signora Giulia by Piero Chiara
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
Master of the Day of Judgment by Leo Perutz
I Was Jack Mortimer by Alexander Lernet-Holenia

Another 14 titles will be published next year. The books feature jackets designed by Jamie Keenan that are graphic and set the imprint apart from other Pushkin titles.


Obituary Note: Brian Sutton-Smith

Developmental psychologist and author Brian Sutton-Smith, who "was one of the first people to bring the study of play into the academic arena, and for more than half a century he was considered the field’s foremost scholar," died on March 7, the New York Times reported. He was 90. Sutton-Smith was "the author of a spate of books," including Toys as Culture and The Ambiguity of Play.


Notes

Image of the Day: Pam Munoz Ryan Catches the Reading Bug

Author Pam Munoz Ryan was welcomed by scores of enthusiastic fans at The Reading Bug in San Carlos, Calif., where she made two in-store presentations to celebrate the publication of her new book, Echo (Scholastic). Pictured: Ryan (c.) flanked by Scholastic executive director of publicity Charisse Meloto (l.) and Reading Bug owner Lauren Savage.


'10 Tips for Surviving Your First Year of Publishing'

"Now that now you've landed a paying job at a publishing company... and all your dreams are coming true," Bustle offered "10 tips for surviving your first year of publishing, because getting the job is just the beginning." One of our favorites:

Visit Bookstores and Libraries Wherever You Go
What better way to stay informed of what is happening in the publishing world than looking at the trends in the places where books are interacting with the public. Check out the employee picks to see what titles are popular, or look at the event calendar to see what authors are out touring.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barney Frank, Andrew Cockburn, Cornel West

Today on Fresh Air: Barney Frank, author of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374280307).

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Today on Diane Rehm: Frank Bruni, author of Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania (Grand Central, $25, 9781455532704).

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Today on the View: Nick Cannon, author of Neon Aliens Ate My Homework: And Other Poems (Scholastic, $14.99, 9780545722810). He will also appear this morning on Good Morning America.

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Tonight on the Daily Show: Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins (Holt, $28, 9780805099263).

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Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Cornel West, co-author of Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807003527).

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Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, authors of ISIS: The State of Terror (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062395542).


On Stage: Lottery Winner Backs Roberto Bolaño's 2666

A five-hour stage adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's 900-page novel, 2666, will be part of the 2015-2016 season at Chicago's Goodman Theater, thanks to an unexpected grant from an "actor and stage manager turned Episcopal monk who pledged last year to give away much of his $153 million Powerball jackpot to support the performing arts," the New York Times reported. The Roy Cockrum Foundation will underwrite the production, which is to be directed by Robert Falls, the Goodman's artistic director, and playwright-in-residence Seth Bockley.

Cockrum cited a London production he had seen of Nicholas Hytner's adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials as inspiration for the gift: "There was a huge cast, a score from start to finish, special effects every five minutes and a very enthusiastic young audience on the edge of their seats.... I knew that the lack of government support made such productions all but impossible in the United States. I made a mental note that if I ever got some dough, I would try to do what I could to support nonprofit theaters being able to do that level of production."


Books & Authors

Awards: BIA Shortlists; New England Society Shortlists

The shortlists in 18 categories of the Bookseller Industry Awards have been announced and can be seen here. Winners will be honored at a ceremony on May 11.

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The shortlist for the 2015 New England Society Book Awards, honoring books of merit that celebrate New England and its culture and sponsored by the New England Society in the City of New York, consists of:

Fiction:
Alena by Rachel Pastan (Riverhead)
The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway (Grove)
The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner (Norton)

Contemporary Nonfiction:
Return of Old Maine Woman: Tales of Growing Up and Getting Older by Glenna Johnson Smith (Islandport Press)
Wide and Deep: Tales and Recollections from a Master Maine Fishing Guide by Randy Spencer (Skyhorse Publishing)

History & Biography:
Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves (Oxford University Press)
The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (Gotham)

Specialty Titles:
Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge by David R. Foster et al. (Yale University Press)
The New England Kitchen: Fresh Takes on Seasonal Recipes by Jeremy Sewall, photography by Michael Harlan Turkell (Rizzoli New York)

Winners will be announced May 13.


Book Review

Review: What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas (Scribner, $24 hardcover, 9781476785059, March 24, 2015)

If Abigail Thomas (A Three Dog Life) put the experiences that she writes about in her memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It into a piece of fiction, readers might find it difficult to believe the story. However, as incredible as they may seem, Thomas did live through a bizarre series of events, which began when she discovered her long-time friend Chuck, a man she'd known and worked with off and on again for 35 years, was having an affair with her daughter, Catherine. To add to the strangeness, she waited a month to tell her husband and, a week after that, he went to walk the dog, was hit by a car, suffered traumatic brain injuries and never recovered. Not only did Thomas lose her spouse, but she no longer had her best friend Chuck to turn to in her grief, or any sense of connection to her daughter throughout that difficult period.

Time did eventually soothe the anger and betrayal she felt toward Chuck. Their subsequent reconciliation after her husband's death, based on their enduring friendship, plays a large part in the narrative Thomas so eloquently and honestly reveals.

These snippets of prose are full of love, humor, anger and a certain amount of uncertainty as Thomas ponders what life really is all about and what happens after one dies. Long after the affair is water under the bridge and she has reconnected with Chuck and her daughter, Thomas approaches Chuck for wisdom on how to live with uncertainty. She writes, "'I'm afraid of people I love dying before I do. I need to find a way to live with that. I need to come to some conclusion. Words to live by or something. A mantra."

"Death is both a certainty and an unknown," Chuck says. "It's hard to get a grip on it." These happen to be just the words that allow something to click inside Thomas, who has struggled all her life with indecision and a variety of vices, including smoking and alcohol.

Intertwined with these reflections on living life and facing the unknown are commentaries on painting on glass using oil-based paints, Thomas's interactions with her dogs and the grief she felt when they died, and the range of emotions she felt when Catherine was diagnosed with a serious illness.

Although most of these passages are very short and read almost like journal entries, the overall picture Thomas conveys is that of the deep, soul-level relationships that exist between her and her family and with Chuck, connections that make all the highs and lows of life livable. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Shelf Talker: Short essays from the author of A Three Dog Life reveal the variables of living a life full of love, laughter, heartache and pain.


AuthorBuzz: Surviving Cyril by Ramsey Hootman
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