Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 6, 2016


HarperCollins: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

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

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Quotation of the Day

Ann Patchett on 'the Return of Bookstores'

Ann Patchett

"Booksellers are, generally speaking, a cautious group when it comes to voicing optimism, but I sense a cultural shift coming on: Books and bookstores and reading are the wave of the future.

"I don't credit the booksellers for this change. In my extensive experience with booksellers, they've always been a hardworking, innovative bunch of passionate readers who were in this business for love. I credit the customers, who seem to be collectively waking up to the fact that they are in charge of what businesses fail and succeed based on where they spend their money. If you like your bookstore and want it to stay in your community, then you have to buy your books there, in the same way you must buy your hammer from the guy at the hardware store who always gives you good advice."

--Ann Patchett, author and co-owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., in a Wall Street Journal piece called "Ann Patchett on the Return of Bookstores."

AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


News

Russo's Books Signs New Lease, 'Here to Stay'

From an e-newsletter sent out yesterday by Russo's Books, Bakersfield, Calif.: "We just renewed our lease. We can't predict the future; however, one thing is certain regarding book selling in Bakersfield: Russo's is here to stay. In a rapidly changing bookselling environment, Russo's Books has renewed its 26-year commitment to the Bakersfield community.

"We have just signed a multi-year lease extension and we have upgraded to a state-of-the-art computer system which interfaces with the book industry and all of our vendors. We will also continue to discount ALL titles and provide honest, hometown customer service."

The store had closed for much of 2014 before re-opening in its current location.


Zondervan: To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander


Liberty Bay Books' Pop-Up 'Sticking Around'

Response has been so positive to a holiday pop-up second location opened in October by Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash., that owner Suzanne Droppert "is responding to customer feedback in a great way: the pop-up location of her bookstore is sticking around in Bremerton," the Patriot reported.

"The goal was to see if it could do good business in November and December," Droppert said. "We kept hearing the feedback of all the customers. Everyone asked us to stay, everyone that came in said, 'Please stay.' "

Staff member Kate Daniels agreed: "A lot of people come in just to say that they're glad to have us here, and that they're spreading the word."

Droppert noted that the new location will soon be arranging "book clubs, coloring events, local author events," adding: "We wanted to get through the holidays.... We're trying to have a little bit of everything that's (in Poulsbo)."


PRH Sells Author Solutions Division

Penguin Random House has sold its self-publishing division Author Solutions to an affiliate of Najafi Companies, an international private investment firm that in 2011 had emerged as a potential buyer of Borders Group before withdrawing its bid and from 2008 to 2013, controlled Book-of-the-Month Club, Doubleday Book Clubs and Columbia House. The purchase agreement was completed on December 31, 2015, but financial terms were not disclosed. Pearson, parent of Penguin Group, acquired Author Solutions from Bertram Capital in 2012.

In a brief note to PRH staff worldwide, CEO Markus Dohle wrote: "We thank the entire Author Solutions team for their hard work and dedication during their time as part of Penguin Random House, and we wish them all the best and much success under the new ownership. With this sale, we reaffirm our focus on consumer book publishing through our 250 imprints worldwide, and our commitment to connecting our authors and their works to readers everywhere."

The Bookseller noted that Andrew Phillips will remain CEO of Author Solutions, whose imprints include AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, Wordclay and Xlibris.


New Harbinger Buys Non-Duality Press

New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, Calif., has bought the publishing assets of Non-Duality Press, which was founded in the U.K. in 2004 by Julian Noyce and focuses on the literature on non-duality--a spiritual movement built on the idea of non-separation.

"New Harbinger is making a major commitment to increasing our presence in the spirituality category, and the quality and core spiritual message of Non-Duality Press books makes them a perfect fit for us," said Matt McKay, publisher and co-founder of the New Harbinger. "While not evidence-based in the same way as our psychology books, Non-Duality Press books are grounded in a wisdom tradition that rests at the core of many of the world's religions. These books answer questions about why we are here and what matters that are key to reducing human pain."

"We are extremely pleased to be joining New Harbinger in what promises to be an exciting and rewarding partnership," said Non-Duality Press publisher Julian Noyce, who is staying on as consultant with the imprint for two years. "Our focus on publishing leading-edge communicators and creatives in the area of non-duality both complements and expands New Harbinger's pioneering work and excellent reputation in the field of self-help, psychology, and personal development publishing."

Non-Duality Press will be a new imprint of New Harbinger. Its bestsellers include The Direct Path by Greg Goode, Awake in the Heartland by Joan Tollifson and Falling in Love with Where You Are by Jeff Foster. New titles, which will be released with New Harbinger's Fall 2016 list, include Non-Duality Questions, Non-Duality Answers by Richard Sylvester and The Unfindable Inquiry by Scott Kiloby.


Independent Bookstore Day 2016 Items Unveiled

The 2016 Independent Bookstore Day catalogue and order sheet goes live January 15, and participating booksellers will have until February 1 to place their orders. IBD staff will also have a consultation station at ABA's Winter Institute in Denver later this month to offer ordering guidance. Orders are placed online through the IBD website and fulfilled by Ingram. The 2016 list of exclusive, limited items IBD includes:

  • Draw Me! How to Draw Your Favorite Characters. Plus Treasure Maps, Flip Books and More! with art by Raina Telgemeier, Mo Willems, Tedd Arnold, Lisa Brown, Kazu Kibuishi, David LaRochelle and others (CBD Publishing)
  • Special signed edition of Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale with bound-in mini-essay on the joys of books and bookstores (Candlewick)
  • Bad Citizen stencil reading: Think before you read. READ before you think. --Fran Lebowitz (CBD Publishing)
  • $6 Story: The Care and Feeding of an Independent Bookstore, 3 Instructive Essays by Ann Patchett, signed (CBD Publishing)
  • Literary Tea Towels with quotes from Anna Quindlen and David Mitchell (CBD Publishing)
  • X Is for...  7" vinyl record of an original song based on Rad American Women A-Z, featuring the voices of Angela Davis, Rebecca Solnit, Charlene Yi and many others. Poster and free download included (CBD Publishing)
  • READ with ME Curious George plush toy
  • Signed Bourdain's Perfect Burger print, with art by Giacamo Gambineri (HarperCollins).
  • The Neil Gaiman Coloring Book, with art by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins)
  • Out of Print cotton canvas zippered pouch featuring famous bookstore cats (Out of Print)
  • Duck & Goose limited-edition signed print with pro-reading message from Tad Hills
  • Plus some very cool FREE items to give away on Bookstore Day

In addition, free Independent Bookstore Day bookmarks, sponsored by Candlewick, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and the American Booksellers Association, will be available to all participating stores. Information and order forms will be with the online catalogue, and orders are due February 1. Independent Bookstore Day takes place April 30 this year.


Obituary Note: Lewis M. Dabney

Literary scholar Lewis M. Dabney, "whose doctoral dissertation at Columbia steered his path to becoming perhaps the pre-eminent expert on the life and work of Edmund Wilson," died December 22, the New York Times reported. He was 83. Dabney completed "his exhaustively researched biography, Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature, in 2005. By then he had been immersed in Wilsoniana for more than 40 years," the Times wrote.



Notes

Readers Asked to Recommend Their Favorite Bookstore

In connection with the publication this month of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, translated by Alice Menzies, the #1 Indie Next Pick for January, publisher Sourcebooks Landmark has launched the Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore sweepstakes, asking book lovers to vote for their favorite bookstores. Participants, who are encouraged to get friends to enter, will be eligible for one of eight $50 gift cards. The winning bookstore receives a $3,000 prize, and the two runner-up bookstores receive $637 (the population of Broken Wheel, Iowa, where the novel is set). The sweepstakes began on Monday and runs through February 19.

"Bookstores are the heart and soul of their community and have enormous impact on readers' lives," said Dominique Raccah, founder and CEO of Sourcebooks. "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend inspired us to create a campaign that will not only give back to a few deserving bookstores, but hopefully highlight all the many wonderful bookstores that service communities across the country."

First published in 2013 in the author's native Sweden, the novel is the story of Sara, who has lost her bookselling job and travels from Sweden to down-on-its-luck Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal, Amy--who she learns has just died. Welcomed by townspeople, Sara stays on and opens a bookstore, and the town becomes reinvigorated in a variety of ways. The book's pub date is January 19.


Cool Idea of the Day: Coffee Sleeve Conversations

"It's hard not to appreciate the synchronicity of indie publishing house Coffee House Press employing coffee cup sleeves as a vehicle for literature," the Knight Blog observed in reporting that the publisher will use its Coffee Sleeve Conversations project "to emblazon around 10,000 sleeves with passages of prose and poetry from local writers of color. The sleeves will be distributed to [St. Paul, Minn.] area coffee shops, including Workhorse Coffee Bar, Nina's Coffee Cafe and others."

"We believe fervently that art, in all forms, is a part of daily experience," said Coffee House Press managing director Caroline Casey. "Part of what we've done in our Books in Action programming, which this project is a part of, is to create new literary experiences for people that aren't reading. It makes that everyday presence of art and literature visible, as well as the artists. Artmaking is a particularly human occupation. It deserves celebrating in small and big ways."

The Coffee Sleeve Conversations will include works chosen from an online call for submissions as well as material solicited and curated by Tish Jones, a local poet and activist.

"Our goal with this project was twofold," said Casey. "To give people access to the work that's being done by writers of color in St. Paul with a very low bar to entry--just by buying a coffee you are offered a literary experience. And secondly, to make that interaction a moment when the purchaser gets a glimpse of some of the art that's being made all around them in St. Paul. That in the few square miles surrounding that coffee shop there are writers of color doing exceptional work. That they have been doing it all this time. And the sleeve is a moment for them to connect with that, and appreciate it, and, I hope, engage with the work of these artists in other ways going forward."


Personnel Changes at Crown, Picador

Sarah Grimm has joined Crown as publicist. She was formerly associate publicist at G.P. Putnam's Sons, which she joined in 2013 as publicity assistant. Before that, she was a publicity and marketing intern at Dutton Books. Earlier she was an SEO content writer for GreenTent Design and Marketing and an editorial intern at Movable Type Literary Management. She is also the founder of Powder Keg, an online quarterly poetry journal.

---

At Picador:

Marlena Brown is joining the press as publicist, working on fiction and nonfiction. She was previously at Oxford University Press and, before that, at HarperCollins.

Isabella Alimonti has been promoted from publicity assistant to associate publicist.


Media and Movies

TV: Big Little Lies

Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and James Tupper (Revenge) have been cast as male leads in HBO's limited series Big Little Lies, adapted from Liane Moriarty's 2014 novel and starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, Deadline.com reported. The cast also includes  Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz and Kathryn Newton.


Media Heat: Gretchen Rubin on the Today Show

Today:
Today Show: Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life (Broadway Books, $16, 9780385348638).

Tomorrow:
The Wendy Williams Show: Ellie Krieger, author of You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544579309).

Diane Rehm: Teresa Ghilarducci, author of How to Retire with Enough Money: And How to Know What Enough Is (Workman Publishing, $12.95, 9780761186137).


Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Ed Tarkington

photo: Glen Rose

Ed Tarkington received a B.A. from Furman University, an M.A. from the University of Virginia and Ph.D. from the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Florida State. A frequent contributor to Chapter16.org, his articles, essays and stories have appeared in Nashville Scene, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Post Road, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Southeast Review and elsewhere. A native of Virginia, he lives in Nashville, Tenn. Tarkington's debut novel, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, was just published by Algonquin (January 5, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

Among others, Patti Smith's M Train. I am a huge fan of hers and delighted to learn from her experience that binge-watching crime shows on Netflix is not incompatible with being a literary artist of the highest caliber.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, especially "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," my obsession with which is partially responsible for my unrelenting, pathological fear of snakes.

Your top five authors:

Melville and Faulkner are like the Beatles and the Stones--so essential you just take them for granted. I think Toni Morrison is the USA's greatest living writer, followed closely by Philip Roth. John Irving, Ken Kesey and Walker Percy jumpstarted my own ambitions. I have studied their careers with fanboy obsessiveness.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked having read Joyce's Ulysses for longer than I care to admit. Fearing exposure, I finally read it in secret. Sadly, I couldn't share my excitement without revealing that I'd only just read the book after years of expressing strong opinions about it.

Books you're an evangelist for:

James McBride's The Good Lord Bird belongs on the shelf next to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the canon of essential American novels. My wonderful teacher Elizabeth Stuckey-French turned me on to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, and I've been pushing it on people ever since--so much wicked wit in such a compressed package! Brilliant.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen. A cigarette extinguished in an oyster shell--sold!

Book you hid from your parents:

When I was maybe 13, a friend with more liberal and bookish parents than mine discovered Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin stashed away in the attic. It became quite a notorious bit of literary contraband in my adolescent circle of friends. Very, very naughty, but quite beautifully written.

Book that changed your life:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Favorite line from a book:

"It's the truth, even if it didn't happen." --One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Five books you'll never part with:

Moby-Dick, Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Moviegoer and The World According to Garp.

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

There are so many! Most recently, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I went AWOL from my family for an entire Saturday to finish it and wept with gratitude and admiration as I read the last few pages. When I went to see Ms. Tartt read in Nashville, I asked her to inscribe my copy to my daughters because I can't wait to give them the gift of that experience when they're old enough to read it. On the title page, between their names and her signature, she wrote, "Words are the only real magic there is." Cool, right?


Book Review

YA Review: The Memory of Light

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $17.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9780545474320, January 26, 2016)

The first thing 16-year-old Vicky Cruz thinks about when she wakes from her failed suicide attempt is that she still wants the silence the sleeping pills promised.

Vicky, the privileged Mexican American daughter of a local Austin developer, finds herself in the Lakeview Hospital psychiatric ward with three other teens who are "failures at the thing called living": her roommate, the wild and blunt Mona who aches to find her little sister who's been taken away by social services; sweet, philosophical Gabriel, who mows lawns for his grandfather's business; and hard-talking E.M., a young man with a shaved, "rocklike head" and massive tattooed muscles who works in construction. In their group therapy sessions with the thoughtful but persistent Dr. Desai as well as in their informal daily conversations, the four patients push each other to be both honest and kind with themselves as they go through the process of recovery from their respective mental illnesses.

"Do you want to die?"
The directness of E.M.'s question takes my breath away.
"Maybe that's not the right question," Gabriel says kindly. "Maybe the real question is, do you want to live?"

Depression, Vicky comes to realize, is not so much a passionate sadness as a whole lot of nothingness. She says, "It always feels as if I can be doing more, and the only reason I don't is because I don't want to, because I really, really don't like what I have to do, I don't like anything or anybody. It's all a big not-like."

Her recovery begins with pushing back against her controlling father and stepmother, telling them she wants to stay at the hospital for a while. As she grows more intimately involved with her new friends, Vicky struggles to find her place in her family of bootstrap-pulling overachievers and to confront her guilt about "having everything" but still feeling miserable. It's Gabriel who helps her realize she does like things... swimming and roses and writing, for starters.

Stories and poetry are important here: Vicky's beloved Emily Dickinson offers her poetic perspective, E.M. takes his cues from an ancient Aztec deity and Dr. Desai shares her wisdom through metaphor and fables.

Dr. Desai takes Vicky by the shoulders and tells her that her thoughts are clouds, not her. "You are not the clouds or even the blue sky where clouds live. You are the sun behind them, giving light to all, and the sun is made up of goodness and kindness and life."

What makes The Memory of Light exceptional is the delicate, deft way Mexican American author Francisco X. Stork (Irises, Marcelo in the Real World) handles depression. The characters tease out common attitudes about mental illness. According to E.M., suicide is cowardly. Gabriel sees mental illness as a force more powerful than the person experiencing it. Vicky's father believes the best thing to do after a bout with depression is to get back on the proverbial horse. The young patients bounce off each other as they heal, learning as much from each other as they do from Dr. Desai. One truth begins to come through: life--and death--is messy. When, inevitably, things start to blow up again for the four, Vicky's fragile new self-perception and growing strength are put to the test.

Teen readers who have glimpsed the deadening pain of mental illness, either in themselves or in a loved one, will deeply appreciate Stork's unusually honest exploration of this subject, based, not surprisingly, on his own raw experiences with depression. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Francisco X. Stork offers a nuanced, starkly honest look at adolescent depression and serious mental illness through the eyes of 16-year-old Vicky Cruz.


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