Also published on this date: Monday, August 21, 2017: Maximum Shelf: A Plague of Giants

Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 21, 2017


Clarkson Potter Publishers: This Is Me, Period by Philip Cowell, illustrated by Caz Hildebrand

Workman Publishing: Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven by Raquel Pelzel

Running Press Book Publishers: Life Is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star by Tim Federle

Scholastic Press: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

News

Toad Hall in Rockport, Mass., to Close

Toad Hall bookstore, Rockport, Mass., which was founded in 1972, operates as a nonprofit, sells new and used books and has had financial problems in recent years, is closing this fall, according to the Gloucester Times.

Rae Padilla Francoeur, a member of store's board, cited online competition, a decline in tourism in Rockport and the problems of operating in a seasonal economy as reasons for the closing.

"The board's No. 1 goal is to pay the bills, which I think we'll do," Francoeur said. "The No. 2 goal is to do anything possible to keep a bookstore in Rockport, because it's just devastating to think there won't be one."

A future store would likely not be in the same location, the 1926 home of the Granite Savings Bank that is owned by the family of the late Buck Robinson, who founded Toad Hall. (The family had helped the bookstore by giving it a break on rent.) "As iconic as that structure is, it's very hard for people to go up and down those spiral stairs, and it's dark in there," Francoeur said. "It wouldn't be the place a new business owner would choose to have a bookstore."

In an announcement about the closing, the board noted that Toad Hall has given more than $120,000 in grants over 45 years to many projects initiated by Cape Ann schools. Toad Hall has "played a key role in the region's cultural life," added board president Robert Buchsbaum.

Toad Hall celebrated its 45th anniversary earlier this year with a party and fundraiser.


Running Press Book Publishers: Waltz of the Snowflakes by Elly MacKay


Stirling Books & Brew Opens in Albion, Mich.

Earlier this month, new owners Jim and Staci Stuart reopened the former Books & More in Albion, Mich., as Stirling Books & Brew, despite an accident during renovations in April that left Staci paralyzed from the waist down. MLive.com reported that the Stuarts "have stayed positive. Jim and Staci believe she will walk again someday, they said. She is doing physical therapy in Rockford."

"This whole thing has been weird and surreal," Jim said. "But I told (Staci) we can still do the things we love to do. She can still work here at the shop, we can go out and listen to music, go out to eat and travel."

They envision a business that reflects who they are. "We like to do stuff," he noted. "We'd go wherever something was going on. But we thought we needed more of those types of places in Albion."

Staci added: "We want to stress diversity. We want to reach all the demographics in Albion. We want the college kids and the retired people in town--really try to get different people involved."


Conari Press: Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann


ABA, Ingram and Gardners Bringing U.K. Titles to U.S. Indies

The American Booksellers Association, Ingram Content Group and Gardners, the U.K. book wholesaler, have created a program that will bring a range of British titles to independent bookstores in the U.S., Bookselling This Week reported.

Under the program, many British titles are available through Ingram's iPage. Titles ordered will be delivered to stores along with regular shipments or will be delivered directly to bookstores' customers through Ingram's consumer-direct fulfillment service. (The offered titles can be sold in the U.S. without rights issues.)

ABA's IndieCommerce is working with Gardners and Ingram to make the titles available for purchase on IndieCommerce and IndieLite sites. Through the IndieCommunication newsletter, the IndieCommerce team will keep booksellers up to date on the progress of integrating these titles. Booksellers who have questions about the new partnership can contact their Ingram sales representative.

Gardners head of international sales development Aidan Lunn said "both Ingram and the ABA have a fantastic relationship with independent bookstores throughout America, and everyone at Gardners is thrilled to be working with them to help bring British books to those stores and their customers."


Avery Publishing Group: The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen


HCCP Launches Elm Hill Imprint

HarperCollins Christian Publishing has launched Elm Hill, a self-publishing imprint, in collaboration with Accurance, which provides a variety of production, promotion and content management services for publishers. Elm Hill will offer sales, marketing, promotion and distribution assistance through HCCP, featuring six tiers of packaged publishing services. All tiers include a combination of services: the editorial, marketing and production resources of Accurance, the opportunity for books to be featured and distributed through HCCP's sales channels, and a technology platform powered by FastPencil.  

"The partnership between HCCP and Accurance will offer a one-of-a-kind experience and publishing path for self-published authors," said Pete Nikolai, publisher of Elm Hill and director of publishing services for HCCP. "Elm Hill authors will gain access to best-practice services, many never available before to self-publishing authors, to help polish their manuscripts, distribute their books to readers, and advance their publishing careers."

Jon Fitch, general manager of Elm Hill and president of Accurance, added: "After 18 years in the self-publishing industry, we know this is a revolutionary opportunity for authors."


Obituary Note: Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory, "the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s, then veered from his craft for a life devoted to protest and fasting in the name of assorted social causes, health regimens and conspiracy theories," died August 19, the New York Times reported. He was 84. Gregory's conviction was that "within a well-delivered joke lies power. He learned that lesson growing up in St. Louis, achingly poor and fatherless and often picked on by other children in his neighborhood," the Times noted.

"They were going to laugh anyway, but if I made the jokes they'd laugh with me instead of at me,” he wrote in his 1964 book nigger: an autobiography (with Robert Lipsyte). "After a while, I could say anything I wanted. I got a reputation as a funny man. And then I started to turn the jokes on them."

One of his best-known jokes involved, the Times recalled, "a restaurant waitress in the segregated South who told him, 'We don't serve colored people here,' to which Mr. Gregory replied: 'That's all right, I don't eat colored people. Just bring me a whole fried chicken.' "

He also ran for president in 1968 as a member of the Peace and Freedom Party.

His fasting led to a keen interest in nutrition and he became a fervent health-food advocate,  sharing his philosophy in the book Dick Gregory's Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin' With Mother Nature. Other books include Callus On My Soul: A Memoir (with Sheila P. Moses); The Shadow That Scares Me (with James R. McGraw); and Dick Gregory's Political Primer.


Notes

Image of the Day: Signing Marathon

At Algonquin's Wisconsin warehouse, author Gabrielle Zevin signed 2,000 copies of Young Jane Young (on sale tomorrow) in three hours. The pallet of books here is only 1,000 of the 2,000 copies that she signed.

'Your Guide to Memphis Bookstores'

Noting that the city "has a ton of wonderful independent bookstores and libraries for book lovers of all generations, with varying interests," the I Love Memphis blog compiled Your Guide to Memphis Bookstores.

"Sure, downloading an e-book is convenient... but it lacks the cerebral, emotional and sensory experience of being surrounded by printed books in a bookstore or library," the blog noted. "There are the valuable human exchanges with knowledgeable librarians and booksellers. Then, there's the feel of the pages on your fingertips, and that alluring scent--a fragrance so beloved by bibliophiles, you can purchase paperback-scented perfumes and candles."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Candice Millard on Fresh Air

Today:
Good Morning America: Anna Kendrick, author of Scrappy Little Nobody (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501117206).

NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered: Brian K. Vaughn, author of the graphic novel series Saga and Paper Girls (Image Comics).

Fresh Air: Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill (Anchor, $17, 9780307948786).

Harry repeat: Michael Psilakis, author of Live to Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316380133).

The View repeat: Adriana Trigiani, author of Kiss Carlo: A Novel (Harper, $27.99, 9780062319227).

Daily Show: Joshua Green, author of Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin Press, $27, 9780735225022).

Jimmy Kimmel Live repeat: Caitlyn Jenner, author of The Secrets of My Life (Grand Central, $30, 9781455596751).

Tomorrow:
The Real repeat: Kevin Hart, author of I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons (Atria/37 INK, $26.99, 9781501155567).

Harry repeat: Charlamagne Tha God, author of Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781501145308).

The View repeat: Condoleezza Rice, author of Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom (Twelve, $35, 9781455540181).

Also on the View: Ashley Graham, author of A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062667946).

Conan repeat: Nick Offerman, author of Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop (Dutton, $35, 9781101984659).


Books & Authors

Awards: St. Francis College Literary

The shortlist for the St. Francis College $50,000 Literary Prize, a biannual prize for "mid-career authors who have recently published their third to fifth work of fiction," is:
 
Amina Gautier, for The Loss of All Lost Things (Elixir Press)
Mohsin Hamid, for Exit West (Riverhead Books)
Adam Haslett, for Imagine Me Gone (Little, Brown)
Selah Saterstrom, for Slab (Coffee House Press)
Dana Spiotta, for Innocents and Others (Scribner)
Deb Olin Unferth, for With Till You See Me Dance (Graywolf Press)


Book Review

Review: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen (Random House, $30 hardcover, 480p., 9781400067213, September 5, 2017)

Kurt Andersen's comprehensive history of American bunkum and balderdash, Fantasyland, is the work of a man with a particular picture to paint and a willingness to follow wherever the bizarre facts lead him. As he says, "I enjoy having my mind boggled." A versatile, funny guy born and raised in heartland Nebraska, Andersen left for Harvard to write for its Lampoon, co-founded the satirical magazine Spy, wrote three novels (including 2012's True Believers), and is host of NPR's Studio 360. While it may have been sparked by the presidency of Donald Trump, Fantasyland puts the latest political pandemonium into the broader context of the origins of the United States--a country built from scratch "where all citizens were officially freer than ever before to invent and promote and believe anything. So Americans promptly began believing almost everything."

A longlist of religious sects, out-there beliefs and fruitcake leaders kicks off Andersen's history, and he rolls out their appearances with both facts and farce decade after decade. Anne Hutchinson, Joseph Smith ("American Christians from the start tended toward the literal and hysterical and collectively self-centered. Joseph Smith met that bid and raised it a million"), Mary Baker Eddy, Norman Vincent Peale, Billy Graham, L. Ron Hubbard, Deepak Chopra: it's amazing how many of these outliers have commanded the attention and adoration of Americans. Although Andersen is a fan of neither mainstream nor backwater religion ("there are degrees of misguidedness"), he dutifully chronicles both camps.

When Fantasyland hits his own early years in the 1950s, however, Andersen's range and depth of examples of American delusions grows exponentially. The border between real and unreal disappears in the minds of those endlessly in "pursuit of happiness." Access to broadly disseminated media makes every tangent seem like a big deal. Andersen mines this mother lode--including the Gold Rush, patent medicines, Disneyland, beatniks, hippies, drugs, yoga, motorcycle gangs, shopping malls, fantasy sports, internet porn, Civil War reenactments, cosplay and LARP, adult coloring books and on and on. He is indifferent to the political origin of these fantasies, whether noting, for example, that John F. Kennedy was the first media-manufactured president (not Ronald Reagan), or that university intellectuals have gone "squishie" and seem afraid "to tell people they're full of shit when they are."

Still, it was the 2016 election that prompted Fantasyland, and after all his research, Andersen concludes that "Donald Trump is a pure Fantasyland being, its apotheosis... a stupendous Exhibit A." If centuries of American hogwash are too frightening, Andersen attempts to leave us with some indication that the pendulum may soon swing back to sanity: "The good news, in other words, is that America may now be at peak Fantasyland. We can hope." Whether this forecast proves accurate or not, his look back is one of the most audacious and entertaining American histories on any bookshelf. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: With wit and a large helping of research, novelist and satirist Kurt Andersen explores the background of America's penchant for believing the craziest of fantasies.


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