Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 19, 2016


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

News

Point Reyes Books in California for Sale

After 14 years owning Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Kate Levinson and Steve Costa are putting the store up for sale.

In a letter, they wrote in part, "While we're not totally sure what's next for us, we do know we want to have more time to be in nature with family and friends, and we want to put our energies toward building a better future world for all, including our three grandchildren. We want to grow our spiritual lives, serve the poor, and explore the world outside of West Marin. Steve wants to continue to create events and retreats through our newly established Black Mountain Circle, and Kate wants to expand her work with women's emotional relationship to money and work on another book." (She is the author of Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money, published in 2011 by Celestial Arts.)

They said, too, that the experience of owning the store has "enriched our lives far more than we could have anticipated when Steve had the crazy notion of purchasing an existing bookstore in 2002. We were retail novices then, without even a basic knowledge of how to operate a small business. As we've learned and grown, we have indeed felt blessed....

Steve Costa and Kate Levinson

"We have tried to weave Point Reyes Books into the fabric of everyday life here--making connections between people, supporting local nonprofit organizations, being part of the downtown business network, and nurturing new ideas. We are very proud of what we've been able to accomplish."

Those accomplishments include hosting more than 800 author readings and conversations, raising more than $550,000 for local nonprofits at benefit events, co-publishing the West Marin Review literary journal and presenting six Geography of Hope literary conferences.

They praised the store's "incredible" staff, including Dawn Steiner, Helen Strodl, and Lisa Doron, who have "lovingly taken care of the store and us, and have contributed as much as we have to its ultimate success."

Levinson and Costa said that they want Point Reyes Books "to continue to serve the community and carry on the lineage of independent bookstores that has been part of downtown Point Reyes Station for decades. We intend to undertake a very thoughtful process to find a new owner." Interested parties can visit the store's website for more information or contact the owners at ptreyesbooks@gmail.com.


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


Brenda Marsh to Head Abrams & Chronicle Books in London

Effective June 27, Brenda Marsh, currently v-p, director of business development at Abrams in the U.S., will become managing director of Abrams & Chronicle Books, the sales and marketing joint venture of Abrams and Chronicle Books, the Bookseller reported. A&CB has headquarters in London, a staff of about 20 and distributes the Abrams and Chronicle lists as well as those of other fine illustrated publishers in the U.K. and international markets.

For almost 15 years, Marsh was an executive at Barnes & Noble, where she worked in author relations, merchandising and content for B&N's website. Earlier she held sales and marketing positions at HarperCollins, Penguin and St. Martin's Press. She joined Abrams in 2014.

Abrams president and CEO Michael Jacobs called Marsh "a proven leader, an inspirational boss, and a superb mentor as well as a seasoned professional who is admired throughout the publishing industry. We look forward to her leading our successful and growing U.K.-based joint venture."


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Texas's Book Spot Needs Cash

The Book Spot, Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, is fighting to stay open, or, in its case, to reopen the front door. The store is still technically running, but, because of a financial dispute with the landlord, the Book Spot's owners cannot access their retail space, though it is still holding events outside the shop, at libraries, schools and book festivals.

The trouble began 18 months ago, when the owners divorced. In the last few months, the store has fallen behind on rent payments, leading to the current lockout. The store is up for sale to the right buyer, but the community, and the current owner, are hoping raise enough money to reopen the retail space. A group of dedicated customers has created a GoFundMe page with a $6,000 goal.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Obituary Note: Fritz Stern

Fritz Stern, a refugee from Nazi Germany who became a historian and Columbia University professor, died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 90.

Stern came to the U.S. in 1938 and in his studies and books focused on German history in the 19th and 20th centuries and the rise of Nazism. As he wrote in Five Germanys I Have Known, "Though I lived in National Socialist Germany for only five years, that brief period saddled me with the burning question that I have spent my professional life trying to answer: Why and how did the universal potential for evil become an actuality in Germany?"

His other books included Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder and the Building of the German Empire, Einstein's German World, The Failure of Illiberalism and Dreams and Delusions. He wrote No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State with his wife, Elisabeth Sifton, former senior v-p of Farrar, Straus & Giroux and editor-at-large at Hill & Wang.

In 1999, Stern received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Yesterday, according to the Times, in a message of condolence to Sifton, German President Joachim Gauck called Stern "a historian of great erudition and a wise, great person."


#BEA16: Notes from the Floor

Among attendees last week at BookExpo America in Chicago was a familiar face to veteran booksellers: Bernie Rath, executive director of the American Booksellers Association from 1984 to 1997, who hadn't attended the show in many years. Rath, who lives in Florida now, came in part because he has published two books in the past two years. (Google "Florida Gunkholer," he said, "if you're interested in water, nature, islands, beaches and outdoor adventures and funny things.")

Bernie Rath: life after ABA

Commenting about the show, he wrote: "I applaud the organizers for having been able to navigate the metamorphosis of the tradeshow to provide something for everyone from an increasingly fractured industry. They provided and facilitated at a reasonable price a venue for interaction, as well as education for professional booksellers, publishers, printers, authors, bloggers, indie authors, indie publishers, data service providers, technology companies, book readers and fans. More than 20 years after Chuck Robinson and I, with the full support of the ABA leadership at the time, engineered the sale of this event to Reed exhibition companies, I am more convinced than ever that it was clearly in everyone's best long term interests to do so. It is also clear that the income from the endowment that the sale provided allows for ABA to continue to provide leadership and support to the art of retail bookselling, and that is a good thing."

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"If you are a children's publisher and not publishing to a diverse audience, you are missing out on a huge audience," said Kempton Mooney, senior director at Nielsen, during a talk he gave at BEA called Beyond the Obvious: Uncovering Some of the Most Under-Recognized Book Markets in the U.S. Children's publishers who do not sell books to diverse audiences, he continued, are in fact failing to sell books to 51% of children's book buyers in the country.

"If you're not selling books to all ethnicities in the United States, you are missing huge chunks of revenue," Mooney continued, adding that this will affect publishers more and more in the future.

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In a session called The Post-Digital Book Landscape: Print and the Importance of the Physical Shelf, Peter Hildick-Smith, president and founder of Codex Group, said that despite earlier industry projections, e-books have failed to lead the book industry while print books continue to dominate. "We're really looking at a mature device market," he observed, adding that if current trends continue, "we can easily see e-books dropping by 20% or more in the next three years,"

In a recent survey, Codex found that 45% of respondents who purchased books in April described reading books as a "personal passion," compared with social networking (7%) and watching movies, TV series and videos (18%). "We think because it's such a part of their lives they are looking at it differently," Hildick-Smith observed.

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Panelists Konrath, Turow and Freethy

A panel on Authorship in the Digital Age featured Joe Konrath, Scott Turow and Barbara Freethy, offering words of wisdom and caution to aspiring writers. "I do think that everyone has to be conscious of the fact that no one cares as much about your books as you do.... You're never going to be able to just say, 'Oh, you guys just take care of it,' " said Turow.

Konrath observed: "You have to get lucky, and you have to keep at it.... A lot of luck is being prepared for it.... Don't confuse goals with dreams. Self-publishing is a goal. Writing a thousand words a day is a goal. Wanting to be Scott or Barbara is a dream."

"Indie publishing is a lot of work. I know we talked about a lot of luck, but it's also a lot of work," Freethy noted, adding: "The glory days are always somewhere else.... My goal is just to stay flexible."

The session concluded with pointed advice from Freethy ("Don't be scared.... You're in charge."), Turow ("I don't know anyone who has succeeded in the arts... without taking a punch.") and Konrath ("Don't write sh*t.")

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Graphic novels as the gateway to a reading life was one of the topics addressed during the session Kids Graphic Novels: How the Industry Has Changed (and Continues Changing). Eric Kirsammer, owner of Chicago Comics, said, "It's more accepted now.... I don't know how many customers come in and say that's how they started reading." He added that on the recent Free Comic Book Day, "we got a lot of families.... There were literally lines of people waiting to get into the store. Totally awesome day."

Cathy Berner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., agreed: "We're really positive about graphic novels as a way to get kids reading.... I think we'll see more growth in the segment and increasing quality."

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Smashwords founder Mark Coker's presentation on the Top 10 Trends Shaping the Future of Publishing included this observation about a certain online retailer: "Amazon is not evil, and I've never said they are. They're an amazing company. They are the smartest players in this game. Yet their business practices are radically different from any other player in the business. They view everyone as their competitor. And we're fast approaching the time where all of us become tenant farmers to Amazon, fully dependent upon Amazon, tilling Amazon soil. And we all need to admit that we all fed this beast--authors, publishers.... You know, they're the pet tiger that started as a cute kitten. You knew what it was going to grow up into. You knew that it would want to eat our flesh if given the chance. And so it grew up into this predator and we're acting surprised. Yet we continue to feed it."


Notes

Image of the Day: So Close to Home

Pegasus Books hosted a launch party at the John Hancock Tower in Boston for So Close to Home: The True Story of an America Family's Fight for Survival During World War II by Michael Tougias (The Finest Hours) and Alison O'Leary. Proceeds from the event benefited the Greater Boston Food Bank. Pictured (l.-r.): Tougias; U-boat torpedo survivor Ray "Sonny" Downs (whose family's story is featured in the book); Downs's friend Lynne; John Hancock legal counsel Jim Hoodlet; Roy Sorli Jr. (son of the Merchant Mariner who saved Downs's 11-year-old sister, Lucille); and O'Leary.


Battenkill Books: A 'Thriving & Very Beautiful' Indie

On his BedlamFarm.com blog, author Jon Katz profiled Connie Brooks, owner of Battenkill Books, a "thriving and very beautiful independent bookstore right in the middle of my small town, Cambridge, N.Y."

Katz noted that one reason for the recent comeback of independent bookstores nationwide is people like Brooks, who "are a new kind of bookstore owner. They understand business as well as literature, they make good decisions and keep an eye on the cash flow as well as the bestsellers. They love books, but they also learned from Amazon: customer service is not just about having books in the store, it is about knowing customers, treating them well, making them feel safe and comfortable and giving them what they want....

"Connie's staff is gracious and helpful and patient. They are happy to talk with people. Community lives, so does the small and independent bookstore, even in the face of the great corporate tsunami sweeping America. Connie Brooks has helped to save them."


Personnel Changes at Parallax Press, Sourcebooks

At Parallax Press, both new positions:

Steven Low has joined the publisher as media relations and operations director. He has spent 16 years in the social and environmental justice fields, focusing on communications and resource development, and has experience doing event management and fundraising.

Earlita Chenault has joined the publisher as publicist. She has 12 years of book publishing experience and has worked with New Harbinger and Counterpoint Press.

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Shane White has joined Sourcebooks as business development manager, special markets. White was formerly national sales manager at Harvest House Publishers.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bethenny Frankel on Meredith Vieira

Tomorrow:
Bloomberg's With All Due Respect: Steve Case, author of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $26.95, 9781501132582).

NPR's Science Friday: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene: An Intimate History (Scribner, $32, 9781476733500).

Meredith Vieira: Bethenny Frankel, author of I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have to: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After (Touchstone, $16, 9781451667424).


TV: Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) will star in one episode and serve as executive producer of Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick, a new anthology series from Sony Pictures Television and Britain's Channel 4. Deadline reported that Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex) are writing the series that "will celebrate and illustrate Philip K. Dick's distinctive vision, with a seminal back catalogue of work."

"This is an electric dream come true," said Cranston "We are so thrilled to be able to explore and expand upon the evergreen themes found in the incredible work of this literary master."


This Weekend on Book TV: Gaithersburg Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend 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, May 21
10 a.m. Live coverage of the 2016 Gaithersburg Book Festival at City Hall in Gaithersburg, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. The awarding of the 2016 J. Anthony Lukas Prize, given by the Nieman Foundation and the Columbia University School of Journalism to nonfiction books on an American topic. (Re-airs Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Deirdre McCloskey, author of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World (University of Chicago Press, $45, 9780226333991). (Re-airs Monday at 4:45 a.m.)

10 p.m. Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison (Convergent Books, $26, 9781101907290). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Andrew Bacevich, author of America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (Random House, $30, 9780553393934). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)


Sunday, May 22
9:15 a.m. A panel discussion on writing about war with Christina Lamb, author of Farewell Kabul: From Afghanistan to a More Dangerous World (William Collins, $17.99, 9780008171520), Janine di Giovanni, author of The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria (Liveright, $25.95, 9780871407139), and Kim Barker, author of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Anchor, $15.95, 9781101973127), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

7 p.m. Richard Zacks, author of Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour (Doubleday, $30, 9780385536448), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. A panel discussion on economic growth with George Gilder, author of The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does (Regnery, $27.99, 9781621575757), Steve Forbes, co-author of Reviving America (McGraw-Hill, $26, 9781259641121), and Mark Skousen, author of The Making of Modern Economics (Routledge, $47.95, 9780765645449).



Books & Authors

Awards: Chautauqua; RBC Taylor Emerging Writer

Off the Radar: A Father's Secret, a Mother's Heroism, and a Son's Quest by Cyrus Copeland (Blue Rider Press) has won the 2016 Chautauqua Prize, honoring "a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts."

As Chautauqua said, "Off the Radar is a story only Copeland could tell--that of his American father arrested in Iran for spying at the time of the 1979 hostage crisis, then put on trial for his life in a Revolutionary Court. Off the Radar is a memoir and mystery, a spy story and a tale of the relationship between father and son. The book is 'an intriguing story well told,' Chautauqua readers said, lauding it as being an 'outstanding' work of 'timeless and timely material.' "

Copeland wins $7,5000 and travel and expenses for a week-long residency at Chautauqua in August.

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Adnan Khan has been named the recipient of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award, which was created "to promote emerging talent in nonfiction writing." Khan, who was chosen by Rosemary Sullivan, winner of this year's RBC Taylor Prize for Nonfiction, will receive a C$10,000 (about US$7,670) cash prize and the opportunity to be mentored by the 2016 RBC Taylor Prize winner.

Sullivan commented: "Charged with the onerous, if delightful, responsibility of selecting an emerging writer, I began to look for a young writer who wrote elegantly, was clearly a reader, and was engaged with significant obsessions. Adnan Khan, having already crafted his own voice, and so ready to interrogate himself and our culture, seemed the perfect choice."


Sophie Egan: Nutrition Frenzies, Cheffing and Brunch

photo: Cristin Young

Sophie Egan is director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Culinary Institute of America. She's also a contributor to the New York Times's Well blog, and has written about food and health for KQED, WIRED and Sunset magazine, where she worked on The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast. She holds a master's of public health from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on health and social behavior, and a bachelor of arts with honors in history from Stanford University.  Egan's new book is Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies--How What We Eat Defines Who We Are (Morrow, May 3, 2016). It's a well-researched, fascinating and witty discussion about food and American culture.

You write about the correlation between productivity and the number of hours worked. How has this shaped our eating habits?

We have a "more is better" approach to work, especially in tech. The floodgates have been flung open as to what is a reasonable time spent working. There used to be more time for other things, but now we think that if you can work, why wouldn't you? You have Internet access, you have more to be done--so we don't focus on food during the day. We spend the least amount of time of all OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries in preparing food. We spend about an hour and 20 minutes a day eating, half an hour less than in those countries. We're using food as fuel.

But we still want it to taste good.

We do, right. We've always been a culture to eat on the run, but now there's a greater availability than ever of portable, delicious snack foods, and that is enabling the heightened emphasis on extreme working.

We want things easier tomorrow than they are today; we want meals that microwave in three minutes instead of four. We want things to taste good, but we will absolutely compromise on freshness and some percentage of deliciousness for convenience and speed.

America has an obsession with protein; we think we need more than we actually do.

The Paleo diet, and men, are driving this a lot, particularly with meat. Grams of protein is one of the top things people look for on labels. It's a response to our previous low-fat obsession--all these foods had fat stripped out, which was replaced by additives and sugar and salt. So people were basically eating refined carbs. When people discovered that eating, say, a handful of nuts made them feel full for a while longer, they thought protein was the answer to getting through a crazy hectic day, instead of the instant energy from a cookie and the subsequent crash. And, as a culture, we have this tendency to jump on whatever the new nutritional darling du jour is. Now it's protein's turn. We have a fitness-focused culture and people are into muscle building and leanness. Athletes need more protein for sure, but now people think they need outrageous amounts compared to what they actually need.

Is there a downside to focusing on protein?

Some of the concern is that you don't store protein. So you are putting excess stress on your kidneys, but we don't know yet what that level is--what's optimal, what's harmful. But it has set up an entire industry--I just saw "protein water" in a store! That cracked me up. And so many products that already have protein now are advertised as "protein-packed," like peanut butter. Or Cheerios with added protein. Well, the difference between that and regular Cheerios might be half a gram per serving, but it costs more.

It's concerning to me the ways nutrition frenzies cause us to always jump to the extreme.

I liked the chapter about "cheffing"--adding something extra to personalize your meal, while denying the reality of processing and preparation.

Absolutely. That's why so many of these make-it-your-own/fast-casual concepts, like Subway, are just going gangbusters. People want their food fast and they want it at a good price. But they want to feel like someone made it for them, like at Starbucks where they call your name out for a drink that was specially crafted for you. We feel we deserve our food to be special. We will pay a small premium to meet these desires--to add tomato to a sub--and to have food delivered.

Brunch--in your words, our secular church--has become a time for community, a time to relax. And a time to eat a lot of food you wouldn't normally eat--a "free day."

I really enjoyed that chapter. Initially I wondered if it was just a San Francisco thing, or a Seattle thing [Egan is from Seattle], and it's really not. It's widespread, and what does fascinate me is the way that it's a craving for community. It used to be a normal way of eating but now represents a large gulf in people's lives around social, even guilt-free, eating. There's so much denial-based eating, but on Sunday you can have chicken and waffles and gravy and it doesn't count.

Would you explain the concept and the success of selling absence?

This is where food companies label foods based on what the foods don't have: gluten-free, low fat, reduced calories, non-GMO, etc. It very much plays into our lack of food literacy. In my view, it's about the way in America where we default to the latest nutrition study. We don't really know what's in a certain cereal or nutrition bar, but we know we want to avoid something. So we look to those labels to tell us what a food's value is, a signal that it's safe to proceed. And "natural" has come to mean the absence of stuff we don't want in our food.

One of the things we miss when we focus on what is taken out is what is put in. When fat is taken out, sugar and salt are added for flavor.

Absolutely. We definitely overlook that. Michael Moss, in Salt Sugar Fat, goes into that in great detail. It's happening now with a lot of gluten-free products. If you look at the ingredients list in a gluten-free pastry, it takes up most the page--whether for texture or for shelf life, there's got to be something in the pastry to take up the slack.

Or take Cheerios. The label says "no GMOs." But oats aren't GMO grains. A lot of foods that never had gluten to begin with say "gluten-free."

Exactly. It illustrates two things about American food culture. There's an enormous amount of fear-mongering that happens, and it keeps us in the grasp of the food companies, because if we don't understand food, then we are relying on their labeling and their health claims. And then there is the ongoing outsourcing of food preparation and creation. But this is very American: on the positive side, we welcome new foods and food experiences; the flip side is that we don't have the common sense, the core familiarity with food that can be carried on from one generation to the next. No stability. It leaves us at the whimsy of the latest health freak-out and corresponding food labeling.

Instead of cooking, we are outsourcing our food more and more. What are the consequences?

One consequence is the growing distance from the origin of food and what is in it. The grocery store has more and more space for prepared foods, it's harder and harder to have a reason to cook. We are going to be further dependent on whatever new flashy things come out of the industry, we aren't really in the driver's seat. Also, from a food and culinary literacy standpoint, it means we aren't passing down some of the muscle memory you get from using a knife, beating eggs. If you learn these things from an early age, you have skills, you have empowerment for life--you can throw together whatever is around and make an omelet. It's concerning to think about a future where people don't have these skills or that knowledge, or an ease with feeding yourself.

You note that the Vatican consumes more wine per capita than anyplace else. And that here, our wine capital is Washington, D.C. That explains so much....

Well, House of Cards....

--Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 24:

Sweetbitter: A Novel by Stephanie Danler (Knopf, $25, 9781101875940) follows a waitress who moves to New York City in 2006.

The City of Mirrors: A Novel by Justin Cronin (Ballantine, $28, 9780345505002) concludes the post-apocalyptic Passage trilogy.

This Too Shall Pass: A Novel by Milena Busquets (Hogarth, $24, 9781101903704) follows a 40-year-old woman searching for meaning after her mother's death.

Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Patriots by David Fisher (Holt, $35, 9781627797894) is the companion book to a Fox News special.

The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan by J. Kael Weston (Knopf, $28.95, 9780385351126) is a former State Department official's look at the country's ongoing wars.

Paperbacks:
The Girl in the Spider's Web: A Lisbeth Salander Novel by David Lagercrantz (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $16.95, 9781101872000).

Cross Justice by James Patterson (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781455585120).

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright (Gallery, $16, 9781501100789).

The New England Seafood Markets Cookbook: Recipes from the Best Lobster Pounds, Clam Shacks, and Fishmongers by Mike Urban (Countryman, $19.95, 9781581573244).

Movie:
Alice Through the Looking Glass, very loosely based on the book by Lewis Carroll, opens May 27.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
The Versions of Us: A Novel by Laura Bennett (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544634244). "A lovely debut that swept me along with the story of two people destined to be together. One chance meeting in college then takes three different roads and readers see the next decades played out through the couple's eyes. Each story is different, yet with the same players, and each does not turn out as expected. This is a thoughtful and touching novel about love, expectations, and forgiveness." --Kelly Estes, Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky.

Father's Day: A Novel by Simon Van Booy (Harper, $24.99, 9780062408945). "Van Booy's delicate touch is turned to the relationship between orphaned Harvey and her uncle, Jason, a man no one could expect to be the right choice as guardian. Van Booy uses the plot structure of a series of Father's Day gifts given to Jason from the now adult Harvey to reveal more than either of them realized about the life they have shared as adoptive father and daughter, as well as the heartbreaking truth of how they came to be a part of each other's lives. Father's Day is Van Booy at his most poignant, showing how redemption can arise from heartbreaking circumstances." --Don Luckham, the Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, N.H.

Paperback
Speak: A Novel by Louisa Hall (Ecco, $15.99, 9780062391209). "This is an amazingly complex novel that explores humanity, time, memory, communication, love, and the fear of losing what once was. Introducing five different narratives that at first seem unconnected, Hall creates a shimmering spiderweb of a story: delicately crafted, fragile, and infinitely beautiful, uncovering humanity's most elusive and abstract thoughts. Hall impresses upon the reader the importance of speaking not just in order to move forward, but also in order to retain the past: 'They are all in me, in the words that I speak, as long as I am still speaking.' " --Nancy Solberg, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
Bloom by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99, 9781442406209). "This is an amazing retelling of the adage, 'If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.' Of course, it takes a female commoner to seek out the fairy to learn how to make bricks and mortar to fix her crumbling castle. Hurrah for the girl who is not against getting her hands dirty and learning something new!" --Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books, New Orleans, La.

For Middle Grade Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763679224). "Carolina is not happy about spending the summer before junior high with a grandfather she has never met, helping her parents move him into a home for people with dementia. But as the summer drags on, Grandpa Serge's fanciful stories of the past grab hold of Carolina and she finds herself questioning what is real and what is true, and how those two things are not always the same. A beautifully written, magical book." --Drew Sieplinga, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The End of Fun by Sean McGinty (Disney Hyperion, $17.99, 9781484722114). "Put M.T. Anderson, Cory Doctorow, Andrew Smith, and Hunter S. Thompson in a blender and you will get Sean McGinty's brilliantly funny debut. It is a coming-of-age novel like no other. McGinty has expertly crafted what is sure to become a cult classic for the tech generation." -- Caitlin Baker, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: The Way to the Spring

The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine by Ben Ehrenreich (Penguin Press, $28 hardcover, 9781594205903, June 14, 2016)

Ben Ehrenreich's The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine is a work of nonfiction journalism written with the lyrical passion of a novelist. His two previous books were novels--Ether and The Suitors; for his first nonfiction book, Ehrenreich spent three years embedded with Palestinian families living in the West Bank. In the introduction, he writes: "I do not aspire in these pages to objectivity. I don't believe it to be a virtue, or even a possibility. " He aspires, instead, to "something more modest than objectivity, which is truth." The Way to the Spring is unapologetically on the side of the Palestinian people, marshalling facts, history, anecdote and personal experience in order to persuade the reader to the author's point of view. That does not mean, however, that Ehrenreich's book is interested only in proving rhetorical points. Instead, The Way to the Spring functions primarily as an extraordinary love letter to a people that, through everything, persist.

Ehrenreich has a good eye for the absurdities that emerge under occupation; he catalogues them in interludes under the title of "Occupation Cabinet of Curiosities." In one "exhibit," he depicts a Palestinian house in the town of Mas'ha that was in the path of a wall being built between Israeli and Palestinian sectors. The owner refused to move, and Israeli authorities responded by building both the wall and fencing that left the family "caged in and cut off from the rest of the village." Ehrenreich also writes about the absurdities brought about by the massive inequality that afflicts Palestine. A few top members of Palestinian society have managed to profit off of the occupation, giving rise to luxurious high-rise apartment complexes where apartments would sell for "between $75,000 and $140,000, which sounds reasonable until you remember that the average wage in the West Bank was just over $25 a day."

The heart of The Way to the Spring, as in a novel, is in the characters it introduces. Bassem Tamimi lives in a tiny village called Nabi Saleh. Every Friday, he helps organize and lead a march to the contested spring of the title. Every Friday, Israeli soldiers stop the march with an onslaught of rubber bullets and tear gas. His wife, Nariman, is just as brave, and so is Mariam, a young woman caught up in the Kafka-esque hell of the judicial system. We meet a few settlers, zealots like Baruch Marzel, who describes his community's relationship with its Palestinian neighbors as "Corrective. When someone wants to kill, we'll kill him first."

We get only a peek into the settlers' worldview, however, because Ehrenreich's goal is not objectivity and he doesn't attempt to give anything like equal time. Instead, he analyzes the current situation as seen through Palestinian eyes: the complicated history that lead to the current moment, the hidden mechanisms of subjugation and the vast reserves of hope and bravery that insure the Palestinian people will continue marching to the spring. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Shelf Talker: The Way to the Spring is a work of embedded reporting on par with Katharine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, documenting Palestinian suffering and resistance in the occupied West Bank.


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