Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 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

Quotation of the Day

Working in a Bookstore 'Like Being in a Sitcom'

"For a novelist, for somebody who is used to working alone all the time, it's incredible to dip in and out of that world. They are my dearest friends, and it's like being in a sitcom. It's like we're the comedy writers on the old Dick Van Dyke Show, or we're sitting in the coffee shop in Friends or the bar in Cheers. Everybody is kind and everybody is smart and everybody is a good reader, and we have a certain Island-of-Misfit-Toys vibe. It's really dear.

"And to say nothing of the customers, who are also a blast. Walking around with books in a bookstore is like walking your dog--it gives everyone free license to have a conversation. So I can just go around and talk to people." 

--Ann Patchett, co-owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., and author of September's #1 Indie Next List Pick, Commonwealth, in an interview with Bookselling This Week

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


News

The Annapolis Bookstore Relocating

The Annapolis Bookstore is in the process of moving to 53 Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, Md, "108 steps up the street from our previous location," according to owner Mary Adams, who said she is "sharing a large space with the Yarn Basket, which had been my neighbor at my former location. We researched other bookstores that had shared space with yarn shops and decided that it would be a great combination. The two businesses weave--pardon my pun--together wonderfully."

Although the store is "up and running," Adams said they are "still moving books and our amazing piano, into the new location. The temperature and humidity are dropping a bit on Monday and Tuesday of next week so we will be having our book and piano brigade on those two days. Being on the first block of Maryland Avenue, with large windows on the street and this 'partnership of fibers' will allow us to begin our twelfth year of the Annapolis Bookstore in Annapolis." The store's "Fairy Viewing Station" is also open.


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Bridgeside Books in Vt. to Open Bridgeside Home

Bridgeside Books, which is located at 29 Stowe St. in Waterbury, Vt., plans to open "an extension" of the bookshop called Bridgeside Home at 80 S. Main St. by late August or early September. The new shop will feature vintage, up-cycled, one-of-a-kind furnishings ("much of which I've been collecting for years") and new items for the home, including books. Also on offer will be pillows, mirrors, wall hangings, table linens, tableware, candles, soaps, cookbooks, an eclectic collection of cards and stationery and more.

Owner Hiata DeFeo told the Record she has been waiting for the perfect opportunity to expand beyond the literary realm, and while "she plans to tie her two stores together, DeFeo said each will have its own identity."

"I'm excited. It's a block from Stowe Street, but it's a whole different part of town," she added.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


WI12 Bookseller Scholarship Application Form Now Open

The American Booksellers Association's online form for booksellers interested in applying for a chance to win a publisher-sponsored scholarship to the 2017 Winter Institute is now open, Bookselling This Week reported. WI12 will be held January 27–30 in Minneapolis, Minn. The scholarships cover the conference fee; up to four nights plus tax at the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, at the special ABA rate; and transportation costs up to $400.

Booksellers can also submit a business card at the ABA booth during any of the fall regional trade shows for an additional chance to be considered for a scholarship. The scholarship form will remain open until 5 p.m. October 28. Only booksellers at ABA member stores that did not have a Winter Institute scholarship winner in 2015 or 2016 are eligible to apply. Winners will be contacted directly by ABA and announced in November.


B&N College Launches New Stores in Texas

Barnes & Noble College has opened new bookstores on the Collin College campuses in Plano, Frisco and McKinney, Tex., Community Impact reported. In addition to managing the bookstores, B&N College has created and is managing the college's online bookstore website. B&N College operates 751 campus stores nationwide, and Collin College is one of 28 higher education institutions the bookseller partners with in Texas.


Obituary Note: Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson, "a former senior editor at the Advocate for two decades and an editor of a book chronicling its history," died August 10, the magazine reported, noting that Long Road to Freedom: The Advocate History of the Gay and Lesbian Movement "included rare first-person accounts of Stonewall, Harvey Milk's election and death and other major milestones in LGBT history that he helped record as a journalist for the Advocate." Thompson was 63. His books also include a memoir, Advocate Days & Other Stories, as well as the trilogy Gay Spirit, Gay Soul and Gay Body.

Former editor-in-chief Jeff Yarbrough said the Advocate "was fortunate to have Mark Thompson's innate and studied spiritualism at the magazine while it was transitioning from community chronicler to national news platform. Thompson gave voice to a part of gay life and culture that no one else could."


Notes

Image of the Day: Back to School

Luke Reynolds, a former teacher and the author of Surviving Middle School: Navigating the Halls, Riding the Social Roller Coaster, and Unmasking the Real You (Beyond Words) did a book talk and signing at Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Mass., for an enthusiatic group of middle schoolers.


Front Street Books 'Has Got You Covered'

"We have a good store that reflects our personal tastes and what our customers want," Jean Hardy-Pittman told the Texas Standard about Alpine's Front Street Books, which she has owned since 1995. "We, of course, have everything that we can get about the Big Bend whether it's fiction or nonfiction. And when we have a special community event we get a lot of extra traffic--we're always ready for them."

Pittman described the town of 7,000 people as the perfect area for her: "People are friendly, and they're enterprising. The climate's wonderful, we're in the mountains but not in the very high mountains. We're surrounded by ranch land.... It's so Texan here you just want to put on your boots and spurs and cowboy hat--except, I got over that."


Kim Dower Named City Poet of West Hollywood, Calif.

Kim-from-L.A.

Poet and book publicist Kim Dower has been named the next City Poet of West Hollywood, Calif., the City announced. Her nomination was unanimously approved by the City Council after she was selected by a committee comprised of "local residents and staff members from the West Hollywood Library, the Friends of the West Hollywood Library, and West Hollywood City Hall."

Dower is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Last Train to the Missing Planet, was published in March by Red Hen Press. She's well-known in the book business as Kim-from-L.A.

During her tenure as City Poet, Dower will "create a new body of literary work that commemorates the City of West Hollywood's diversity and vibrancy," the city said. "She will serve as the official ambassador of West Hollywood’s exciting literary culture, promote poetry in West Hollywood, stimulate the transformative impact of poetry in the local community, and create enthusiasm about the written word."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Kranish, Marc Fisher on Face the Nation

Today:
Fresh Air: Asali Solomon, author of Disgruntled: A Novel (Picador, $16, 9781250094636).

Sunday:
Face the Nation: Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, authors of Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power (Scribner, $28, 9781501155772).


On Stage: Happy Birthday, Wanda June

Vonnegut's World, a week-long celebration of Kurt Vonnegut-themed special events leading up to the World Premiere of Happy Birthday, Wanda June at Indianapolis Opera, will be held at an array of venues in the city from September 7-14. Presented by Indy Opera in partnership with Indianapolis Art Center, Butler University, Indy FilmFest, Bluebeard Restaurant and Indy Reads, the festival will "explore the many facets of the famed Hoosier and iconic literary figure."

The schedule of events includes an opening reception, panel discussion, film screening, reading, "brunch of champions," special music performances, and final dress rehearsal of the new opera, written by Kurt Vonnegut and composed by Richard Auldon Clark. Vonnegut completed the libretto just two weeks before his death in 2007. Happy Birthday, Wanda June will be performed at the Schrott Center for the Arts in Indianapolis on September 16-18. Directed by Eric Einhorn, the work began as a play by Kurt Vonnegut in October 1971 at New York's Theater de Lys.


TV: Alias Grace; The Witness for the Prosecution

Anna Paquin (The Piano, True Blood) will star in the Netflix/CBC six-hour miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel Alias Grace, which will be written and produced by Sarah Polley (Stories We Tell, Take This Waltz) and directed by Mary Harron (American Psycho), Indiewire reported. Alias Grace began shooting in Ontario on August 15.

"Anna is an incredibly versatile performer who always makes complex, unpredictable and fascinating choices in her work," said Polley. "It's always a marvel to watch her and we're thrilled to have her join the cast."

---

Kim Cattrall (Sex in the City) will star in a BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie's short story "The Witness for the Prosecution," along with Toby Jones and Andrea Riseborough, BBC News reported. Filming began last week in Liverpool for the two-part drama directed by Julian Jarrold (The Girl, Appropriate Adult)


Books & Authors

Awards: PEN International/New Voices

A longlist has been released for the 2016 PEN International/New Voices Award, which "encourages new writing in the countries in which we operate, and provides a much needed space for young and unpublished writers to promote their work. The award actively encourages entries from diverse linguistic regions and communities." The shortlist will be announced soon, with the winner named September 28 during the 82nd PEN Congress in Ourense, Galicia.


Reading with... Angela Palm

photo: Greg Perez Studio

Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf, August 16, 2016) and winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. Palm's writing has appeared in EcotoneBrevity, DIAGRAM, Essay DailyPaper Darts and elsewhere. She lives in Vermont.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta. It's a quirky, artsy, multi-voiced book about women in '70s and '80s film. Right up my alley.

A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros. I've always had an affection for Cisneros's writing, her singular voice. The book has Bible-thin pages. That's probably not a coincidence.

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell. This book explores desire by degrees, gay cruising, and the resulting relationships in Sofia, Bulgaria. It's an indulgent read in the best way--long, block paragraphs without any quotation marks that go on for pages at a time, capturing perfectly the somewhat off-the-record, yet fully realized, nature of the men's interactions. I adore it.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read this as soon as it came out, but it's an important book to revisit. To place next to your bed and keep seeing as you wake. To keep checking yourself against.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Just as Long as We're Together by Judy Blume. It answered questions I was too timid to ask anyone. It was more friend than book.

Your top five authors:

Anne Tyler, because I love the way her characters' personalities drive the plot, rather than the plot driving the characters.

Rachel Kushner, because she writes the way I think. Mostly, I love the way she crafts the relationship between art and politics, between life and creativity.

Don DeLillo for his insights into very specific technological moments in time. His portrayal of the future's infringement on the present is always on point.

Susan Sontag for her critical prowess.

A new favorite is Dana Spiotta. I recently discovered her work and have since read her growing oeuvre with much affection.

Book you've faked reading:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Often described as "readable," the 800-plus-pager is definitely unreadable for me. I can carry on many a conversation about it, though. Also, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I'm sorry.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. It tells a somewhat simple story--a marriage on the rocks after a baby, and then an affair--in an entirely new way, reading like a book-length essay of sorts. I love when nonfiction and fiction can't give each other up. This book is their lovechild.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm not impulsive in this way. I almost always buy for content. But the cover of Jonterri Gadson's new book of poems, Blues Triumphant, moved me in a way that lingers just as much as the poems within its pages. Sometimes I sit and look in wonder at the cover, a portrait of a beautiful black girl wearing white paint on her face and a fancy dress.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't hide books; I hid things in books. I knew my parents would not be likely to open one. I cut out the centers of a few of them and turned them into little boxes for stowing secrets, an idea that I believe came from a Nancy Drew book.

Book that changed your life:

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which I read when I was 16. This was my first real understanding of social activism. It agitated me and ignited me. Mostly, though, it showed me how little I knew about the real world. That there were entire communities and struggles and causes that I had no knowledge of, entire histories that had been glossed over or omitted from my education and my experience. After this book, I became very interested in America's untold stories, its misunderstood populations, its erasures--from the mole people of New York's abandoned subways to Appalachian mountain communities to skid row to communes to prisons.

Favorite line from a book:

"Maps are magic. In the bottom corner are whales; at the top, cormorants carrying pop-eyed fish. In between is a subjective account of the lie of the land.... Fold up the maps and put away the globe. If someone else had charted it, let them. Start another drawing with whales at the bottom and cormorants at the top, and in between identify, if you can, the places you have not found yet on those other maps, the connections obvious only to you." --Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Five books you'll never part with:

Bluets by Maggie Nelson.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.

Song of Soloman by Toni Morrison. This is the first novel, after many years of novel reading, that really blew my mind.

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. My copy is heavily annotated and I like to flip through it and re-read the marginalia, which has preserved the spirit and contemplation of my 20-year-old self.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. This book made me want to write a book. It made me want to live life in all of its messiness and echoed my concerns about the unclear partitions between the roles of lover, mother, artist, intellectual, wife and so forth.

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

Bluets by Maggie Nelson. To have an intellectual and emotional reading experience at the same time is something to be cherished, but you can never re-create that first read, that seismic crack in your brain's tectonics.


Book Review

Review: A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev (Kensington, $15 paperback, 352p., 9781496705747, September 27, 2016)

Acclaimed for combining Indian American life with a touch of Bollywood glamour, Sonali Dev (A Bollywood Affair) dives into the soul-shriveling aftermath of violent crime, with a hero and heroine who find love against all hope.

Ever since thugs from a black market organ theft ring murdered his wife, Jen, in Mumbai, Indian American doctor Nikhil Joshi has been at sea figuratively and literally, working as a cruise ship doctor by day and losing himself to a numbing alcoholic stupor by night. Then Jess Koirala, a gorgeous Bollywood backup dancer, appears on the ship claiming that she received Jen's heart in a transplant and has a message for Nik from his dead wife. Naturally he scoffs, but when she shows him her transplant scar and tells him details that could have come only from Jen, he cannot explain away the connection. Even a man of science like Nik must consider the possibility that his wife somehow lives in this stranger, and that she wants him to bring to justice the men who murdered her. Although the specter of Jen hangs over them, Nik is drawn toward desperate, vulnerable Jess.

All her life, Jess has dodged violent men with mixed success. She knows all of Jen Joshi's most intimate thoughts and secrets, but in truth, powerful criminals pull her strings, using threats to her young son to blackmail her. She would go to any extreme to save her child, but Jess's heart breaks from manipulating the hurting widower as she is gathered into the bosom of his family and begins to fall for his fierce, protective spirit. She never planned to love Nik and knows he'll reject her the second he finds out about her lies--that Jen never sent her and her name isn't even Jess.

Meanwhile, in India, a brutal gangster waits impatiently for the moment he can destroy them both.

Dev walks straight into the fire, building her narrative on an unlikely foundation of wrenching grief, gender discrimination and sexual assault trauma, addressing each issue thoroughly and with incredible compassion. While the challenge of bringing together two people with utterly shattered souls and devastated lives feels insurmountable at first, Dev's power to wrap the reader in her characters' pain and then soothe it is nothing short of exhilarating. Nik and Jess's eventual bond feels organic and gloriously regenerative. A Change of Heart cements this author's standing as not only one of the best but also one of the bravest romance novelists working today. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Sonali Dev makes bold choices in this life-affirming romance that finds its hero foundering after the murder of his wife, and its heroine healing from an abusive past.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Prospecting vs. Prospective Bookstore Owners

"I always dreamed of owning a bookstore," says almost every new bookshop owner to the media once the doors have finally opened. Most of us who worked as longtime frontline booksellers have probably entertained the ownership fantasy, if only briefly. In my case, the dream hit while I was in still college during the early 1970s. When I actually became a bookseller two decades later, the vision was long gone. By then I knew my limitations (and strengths, too, I suppose).

Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting at Greenlight

We've all known colleagues in this business who wanted their own bookshop and eventually realized that dream. For example, I recall meeting two people when their bookstores were still long-term goals, and then watching as they carefully planned and executed those visions--Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner (with Rebecca Fitting) of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn; and Janet Geddis of Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga. From the beginning, they were genuine "prospective bookstore owners." The real deal.

On the other hand, one of my bookselling colleagues long ago had joined the staff to learn the book trade while she scouted for possible locations in New England to open her own bookshop. Less than a year into her research, she decided the dream was not for her, and that decision was also carefully thought out and, for her, absolutely the right call. She was also a genuine prospective bookstore owner.

So I've been thinking this week about the difference between the words prospective ("of a person expected or expecting to be something particular in the future") and prospecting ("look for; search for") as they relate to running a bookstore.

What led me to this Dog Days of August rumination was Kat Kruger's recent piece in Quill & Quire about her tenure as a prospecting bookseller at the Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland. We wrote about the AirbnBookseller concept last year: guests pay a nominal fee and are "expected to sell books for 40 hours a week while living in the flat above the shop. Given training in bookselling from Wigtown's community of booksellers, they will also have the opportunity to put their 'own stamp' on the store while they're there."

I was just a little cynical when I first read this. Bookselling, even in a quaint used bookshop in Scotland, is complicated, and Kruger begins (you guessed it): "Many book lovers, myself included, dream of running a bookstore." Her account is a chronicle of the bookselling fantasy: "After closing most days we'd grab a pint at the local pub, where a cat named Izzy would often sit with us. Then we'd head upstairs to the flat, closing all the room doors to keep the heat in before bundling up next to the faux electric fire. The bookshop holiday didn't deliver the chaos of a rom-com, but the adventure certainly made me pause and appreciate the revisions I've made in my life's script."

Earlier this year, Dan Dalton shared his Open Book experience on Buzzfeed: "Romantic notions of bookselling might not hold up in a national chain or a busy city, but here, in a small Scottish town by the sea, surrounded by the smell of used books, they just might."

He asked Shaun Bythell, who owns the Bookshop in Wigtown and whose parents own Open Books, about the romantic expectations of bookselling versus the reality. "I think people think it'll be sitting in front of a fireplace reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But it's mostly moving boxes," Bythell said.

Librarians Rosie and Liam wrote this on the Open Book's blog in March: "To work in a bookshop for two weeks has been a bit of a dream come true and we will definitely be taking new ideas and a fresh prospective back to our day jobs. Librarianship and book selling are obviously two very close professions. When we think of the fundamentals of librarianship, this has been reflected at some point over our two weeks in the Open Book."

A more recent "proprietor" of the Open Book, Diane Mawhinney, offered a few tips to future prospecting booksellers, including: "Finally, and most of all (besides the amazing hospitality), I will forever remember the first moments of opening the bookshop, the jiggling of the skeleton key, the tinkling of the little bell, the unique scent of the ages-old texts probably combined with the weekly deliveries of fresh shortbread from Nanette (customers would ask, What is that smell, like exotic gingerbread?!), and the fairy-like quality of the lights as the electricity slowly flows from the switch to announce with ethereal music that business is open."

Maybe prospecting booksellers aren't so bad after all. The dream lives on, vanquishing my cynicism.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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