Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 28, 2017


Penguin Press: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Graphix: Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

Hurricane Harvey: Bookstores 'Bent, Not Broken'

photo courtesy PBS

With several feet of rain predicted altogether, Hurricane Harvey, which came ashore Friday night, has caused "unprecedented" flooding in Texas, particularly in Houston, and continues to overwhelm the area. So far local bookstores have been relatively unscathed--staff is well and none of the stores have reported significant damage--but the storm is not over yet, and we wish the best to them and everyone else affected.

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, remained open on Saturday but did cancel the Texas Poetry Calendar event scheduled for Saturday, "our signature poetry event of the year," which would have featured 18 poets. A signing for Michelle Tam's newest cookbook, Ready or Not!, the latest in her Nom Nom Paleo series, was also postponed.

Late yesterday, Blue Willow said on Facebook: "We stopped by the shop, and all is well. We are very lucky. We continue to keep our bookselling friends and community in our thoughts and hearts."

Pre-Harvey, Brazos removed books from the lowest shelves.

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, cancelled its regular Saturday storytime as well as Customer Appreciation Day, noting that "books are best read dry, as it turns out... and we might have to retitle our Saturday event 'Hurricane Appreciation Day.' "

As of late yesterday the store was closed, and general manager Benjamin Rybeck said, "We're gonna play the next few days by ear." Late Saturday the store was in good condition. Store staff is "safe and in good spirits, which is primarily what I care about.... I've received tons of notes from people though--other bookstores, publishers, authors--checking in and wishing Brazos well, which is a nice feeling and speaks to the generosity of our literary community. Maybe it's time for a Winter Institute panel on how to keep your bookstore from floating away!"

Murder by the Book in Houston reported on Facebook that it "has a few damp places where water came in, but it is minimal compared to what we expected" so it plans to open today from noon to 6. "We're happy to provide anyone who comes in with free coffee, charging stations, wi-fi and restrooms," the store wrote. "Please pass this along for those who have lost electricity, or who just need a break from sitting home in the rain."

The homes of all Murder by the Book staff are dry and have power. "We're of course all still watching the weather, and have a few rough days ahead, but so far we feel very fortunate. Stay safe, be kind, and we hope to see you tomorrow."

Storm prep at Galveston Bookshop

In preparation for flooding, Galveston Bookshop in Galveston cleared its lower shelves of books in preparation for flooding, cancelled its Saturday book signing and closed for the weekend.

Yesterday Galveston Bookshop's Paul Randall reported that the store was "dry, undamaged as of Saturday afternoon. Rain flooding is unlikely to cost us more than lost open hours and some mopping. A serious storm surge is what we were concerned about, and that seems much less likely at this point. But it's not over yet."

Richard Deupree, manager of Katy Budget Books, Houston, said yesterday that the store's "primary concern for the last 72 hours has been the safety of our staff (all 27 of them) and our customers. After monitoring the situation, we made the decision to close the store on Saturday and again today. We make these decisions each morning around 6 a.m., based on the latest info from the National Weather Service." The store then notifies staff via text and customers via social media.

Deupree noted that he is 63 and grew up on the Gulf Coast and has been through dozens of hurricanes. "Harvey is about the worst scenario possible. Cat 4 strength, hitting a very populated and low lying area, then stalling, pounding the area with high winds and several feet of rain for days. It's about as bad a set of circumstances as you could get."

There have been some silver linings, Deupree observed: "A crisis like this brings out the best in people. Utility linemen working to restore power in blistering winds and driving rain, risking their lives so others will be more comfortable. People from Louisiana (they call themselves the Cajun Navy) working their way to Houston as we speak, with small boats in tow to help with search and rescue. Neighbors helping neighbors...

"With all the bad news we've seen over the last few months on the national news--Washington politicians bickering and finger pointing--it's rather refreshing to see ordinary people coming together to help one another. Ironic is it not: out of catastrophe comes unity."

His overall message: "Texas... bent, not broken!"


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron


N.C.'s Books Unlimited for Sale

Books Unlimited and Unlimited Books for Kids, both in downtown Franklin, N.C., are for sale. Founded in 1983, Books Unlimited, a general-interest store, sells new and used books. Founded last year, the neighboring Unlimited Books for Kids specializes in books for kids up to age 12. Earlier this year, Unlimited Books for Kids more than doubled in size.

Suzanne Harouff has owned Books Unlimited for 14 years and earlier was store manager for 13 years.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


Amazon: Ohio Warehouse; Reducing 'Butt Brush'; Prime Push

Amazon will open its third warehouse in Ohio, in North Randall, near Cleveland. The 855,000-square-foot facility will handle smaller items such as electronics, toys and books and will offer 2,000 employees "opportunities to engage with Amazon Robotics in a highly technological workplace," the company said. Amazon's other Ohio warehouses are in Etna and Obetz, both near Columbus.

Ironically--or fittingly--the new Amazon site in North Randall is where "the nation's largest shopping mall once stood," said JobsOhio president and chief investment officer John Minor. Opened in 1976, the Randall Park Mall had more than two million square feet of retail space and closed in 2009.

As usual, the company with a market capitalization of some $475 billion received government help. Crain's Cleveland Business reported that in July the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority authorized a $127 million loan package to aid construction of the Amazon warehouse, which is estimated to cost $177 million.

"Words cannot begin to express what Amazon's commitment to the development of its fulfillment center means for the Village of North Randall," said Mayor David Smith. "This is a generational project that not only redefines the future of our community but the future of more than 2,000 Cuyahoga County residents who will be employed at the facility."

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One of the major changes Amazon has made in its Amazon Books book and electronics stores was highlighted in a Geekwire article about the Amazon Books that has just opened in Bellevue, Wash.:

"Mariana Garavaglia, director of stores for Amazon, said the aisles are wider than the University Village store [Amazon Books's first store, which opened in November 2015] thanks to customer feedback. The aisles are about 32 inches in some of the narrower spots, versus 26 inches at the original location, based on GeekWire's rough measurements. That means fewer instances of the 'butt brush' of customers running into each other in skinny aisles. Shelves are also set in further to make it easier to pick out books and make the aisles feel more spacious.

" 'We got a lot of feedback from customers saying they were having a hard time, both because the aisles weren't as wide, but also because it was just harder to see down to the bottom shelf,' Garavaglia said."

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Today marks Amazon's effective takeover of Whole Foods. Reports are that the new owner will reduce prices on many of the most popular items in the stores, including bananas, avocados and ground beef, and will--as at Amazon Books' outlets--offer extra discounts to Amazon Prime members.


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Chuck Robinson Founds Consulting Firm

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson, former longtime owner with his wife, Dee, of Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., has launched a new business, Chuck Robinson Associates, a consulting practice that aims to "deliver results and solutions" for businesses and nonprofits. Chuck and Dee continue their business partnership with this new venture: Dee is an associate of the firm.

In his introductory blog post, Chuck writes in part: "In my experience, small businesses and nonprofits have many things in common, including some problems and frustrations. In this blog I'll share some of my thoughts--and the thoughts of others--on addressing the issues that face both small business and nonprofits.

"Among many topics I'll address are these: recognizing and following your mission; recruiting and developing an engaged staff; building strong community partnerships; attracting resources; time management; reaching more customers or clients; allocating limited resources."

In January, Chuck and Dee sold the bookstore to three employees. At the time, Chuck said he wanted to do business consulting. Both Robinsons have been deeply involved in book and local organizations. Among just a few examples: Chuck is a former president of the American Booksellers Association and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Obituary Note: Réjean Ducharme

Réjean Ducharme, "the 'invisible' author who helped shape Quebec literature and theatre in the 1960s," died August 21, the Montreal Gazette reported. He was 76. Ducharme "found success at 25 with the publication of his first novel, L'avalée des avalés, in France by the prestigious Éditions Gallimard, the third publishing house he had approached. It was later translated into English under the title The Swallower Swallowed."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‏ tweeted: "We have lost a giant of literature--all of us touched by Réjean Ducharme's work mourn his passing and celebrate his tremendous legacy."

A playwright and lyricist as well as an author, Ducharme won the Governor General's Award for L'avalée des avalés in 1966 and was nominated for the Goncourt Prize in France. He earned a second Governor General's Award in 1982 for a play titled Ha ha!. He wrote film screenplays and anonymously wrote the lyrics for multiple songs by Robert Charlebois and Pauline Julien. His last novels, Dévadé, Va savoir and Gros mots, were published in 1990, 1994 and 1999, respectively. In 2000, Ducharme was appointed an officer of the Ordre national du Québec.

Upon its 50th anniversary in 2016, the publication of L'avalée des avalés was designated a "historic event" by the government of Quebec, under the Cultural Heritage Act, "joining a list of significant events in the history of Quebec, such as the arrival of the Filles du roi in New France, the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the Second World War," the Gazette wrote.


Notes

Happy 20th Birthday, Galiano Island Books!

Congratulations to Canadian indie Galiano Island Books, Galiano Island, B.C., which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Read Local BC featured an "Into the Indies" q&a with Lee Trendatue, co-owner of the bookshop that "has been a driving force for arts on the island community." Among our favorite responses:

How did you get started as a bookseller?
I have been working as a bookseller for twenty years. My husband James Schmidt and I opened the store in 1997.... We became interested in bookselling through our daughter, Mary Trentadue. She was interested in opening a bookstore at that time and we started attending national book fairs with her. We fell in love with the industry. We opened our store in the early winter of 1997 and Mary opened her store, 32 Books, in North Vancouver just four months later.... We have always been a family that loved books, many of our holidays were spent in bookstores, always walking out with stacks to carry to the nearest coffee bar.

What makes your community and customers special?
Our community is typical of many islanders, in that it attracts creative eccentric people. People who love nature and the arts. They love to read and they support those who write by buying their books, attending reading events, concerts, and art shows. For an island of only approximately 1,000 permanent residents, it is astonishing that it can support a full service bookstore that is open every day (except Christmas and New Year's Day) throughout the year.

What is your favorite part of being an independent bookstore?
Curating the books for my customers! I love taking a fresh look at my store and beefing up a section that is too thin! I love expanding the depth of a section. This summer, I am doing that with books on philosophy, politics, and international authors (great translations of the best books in a given country). I love supporting new talent in our industry and watching that young writer begin to take off. And of course as an avid reader, having access to books is magic!


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Daily Show

Today:
Sirius XM's Michael Smerconish: Jean M. Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us (Atria, $27, 9781501151989).

The Talk repeat: Maddie Ziegler, author of The Maddie Diaries: A Memoir (Gallery, $21.99, 9781501150661).

Daily Show: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Norton, $18.95, 9780393609394).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Rodale, $25.99, 9781635651089).

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

Tonight Show repeat: Lily Collins, author of Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062473011).


Movies: The Hate U Give; Molly's Game

Common, who is up for an Emmy for his musical work on Ava DuVernay's 13th, has joined Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give, Fox 2000's adaptation of the YA novel by Angie Thomas, according to the Hollywood Reporter. George Tillman Jr. is directing. The cast also includes Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall and Algee Smith.

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STXfilms has released the first trailer for Aaron's Sorkin's Molly's Game based on the book Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom. Deadline reported that the film will have its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival ahead of its November 22, theatrical release. Jessica Chastain heads a cast that includes Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O'Dowd and Bill Camp.


TV: The Shannara Chronicles; Dietland

A first-look trailer for the second season of The Shannara Chronicles, based on the fantasy series by Terry Brooks, has been released. It will premiere October 11 on Spike, "its new home following the move from sister Viacom network MTV," Deadline reported. The cast includes Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero and Malese Jow.

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Joy Nash (The Mindy Project, Twin Peaks) has been cast in the lead role of Plum Kettle for Dietland, AMC's 10-episode straight-to-series darkly comedic drama based on Sarai Walker's 2015 novel, Deadline reported. The project is from Marti Noxon (UnReal), Skydance TV and AMC Studios.

"Joy is everything I hoped we'd find in our leading woman--beautiful, smart and blazing with talent," said Noxon. "When she auditioned the whole room was electrified. I can't wait for the world to meet her 'Plum.' "



Books & Authors

Awards: Kelpies Winner

The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow by Emily Ilett has won this year's Kelpies Prize, which "recognizes the finest new Scottish children's writing for readers aged 8-14." Ilett receives £2,000 (about $2,575) and a publishing deal with Floris Books' Kelpies imprint.


Top Library Recommended Titles for September

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 September titles public library staff across the country love:

Favorite
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press, $27, 9780735224292). "Little Fires Everywhere delves into family relationships and what parenthood, either biological or by adoption, means. We follow the members of two families living in the idyllic, perfectly-planned suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio: Mia and Pearl, a mother and daughter living a less traditional lifestyle, moving from town to town every few months, and the Richardsons, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect suburb... until Izzy Richardson burns her family home down. Ng's superpower is her ability to pull you into her books from the very first sentence!" --Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, Mo.

Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan (MCD, $26, 9780374203108). "Lois works at a company trying to perfect a robot arm, and while she has been eating the 'Slurry,' or nutrient paste, that many use for nourishment, she discovers a nearby take-out restaurant that offers a 'double spicy' along with the most delicious sourdough bread she has ever tasted. The brothers who own this restaurant also briefly enchant her, and before they leave San Francisco they share with her the starter for the bread, which changes her life forever. This delightful tale of food, robotics and microorganisms is filled with charm, magical realism, and science." --Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, Mass.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence (Flatiron, $19.99, 9781250106490). "If you could tell a book how you really feel... this is what the author has done with her collection of love letters to books. Readers (and librarians especially) will appreciate the sly stabs or 'roasting' that the author makes to point out fine and not-so-fine moments of key books that she is contemplating removing from her shelf. She weaves in stories from her life inside a library (which is fodder for chuckles in itself). Perfect for fans of Jenny Lawson." --Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, Calif.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (Kathy Dawson, $18.99, 9780803741492). "A chance encounter with former tutor Kiran Thrash enables Jane, an umbrella-crafter and college dropout, to fulfill a promise to her beloved late Aunt Magnolia--to accept an invitation to visit the mysterious Thrash family home, Tu Reviens. During her visit, Jane reaches a seemingly insignificant moment in time where one action will branch her off into different futures. Each choice results in a different path for Jane that takes her far beyond her previously ordinary life. An ambitious, complex offering with diverse characters from the author of the Graceling series." --Pearl Derlaga, York County Library System, Yorktown, Va.

Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel by Jamie Ford (Ballantine, $28, 9780804176750). "Ford excels at historical fiction, especially set in the Pacific Northwest. In this tale, the reader follows the life of Ernest Young, experiencing the early 1900s in Seattle. He is raffled off in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition. The story then follows adult Ernest as the 1962 Seattle World's Fair opens. Rich with historical detail and touching on a time period not widely known (the wilds of Seattle's early days), this moving story comes together and draws the reader in." --Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, Ill.

The Child Finder: A Novel by Rene Denfeld (Harper, $25.99, 9780062659057). "Who better to find a missing child than one who escaped abduction? Denfeld offers a nuanced treatment of a difficult subject. The narrative switches between the voice of the missing child and the Child Finder, Naomi, as she searches. While Naomi's abduction gave her a unique ability to find missing children, it left her with issues. As she searches for the missing child we see her move toward resolution. Additionally, the glimpse into the mind of the missing child, which shows us the child's view of the situation and the steps she takes to survive, is fascinating." --Joan Hipp, Florham Park Public Library, Florham Park, N.J.

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (Putnam, $26, 9780735214316). "This dystopian novel describes a future in which a tick infestation has driven humanity to barricade itself in a series of safe zones. A thrilling plot involves a group of wealthy individuals on an extreme adventure trip that doesn't go as planned. Through chapters written from their viewpoints, the reader comes to sympathize with and understand the motivations of the people involved. While telling a story involving hostage taking, drug smuggling and the search for a solution to the bug problem, the novel raises the question of what we are willing to sacrifice for safety." --Michelle Geyer, Durham County Public Library, Durham, N.C.

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky: A Novel by Christopher Meades (Park Row Books, $24.99, 9780778328735). "Hanna is a young woman, like any other in the world today, except for one unique thing: she is part of a polygamist community and has just been told, at eighteen, she has to marry a man who is her father's age and has four other wives. Hanna must make the confusing and heartbreaking decision about where her future path lies. Should she stay at home and be obedient to the only family she has ever known, or will she choose her own love and life? A gripping story that would make a great book club selection!" --Kelly Baroletti, Wantagh Public Library, Wantagh, N.Y.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062685346). "This novel retells the story of Little House on the Prairie from the point of view of Laura Ingalls' mother, Caroline. In 1870, Caroline, Charles, and their two young girls leave their home and extended family to travel more than 600 miles in a covered wagon. This is a fresh, deeper look at a much-loved story. Five-year-old Mary is lively and eager to please, and charming three-year-old Laura will still delight Little House fans. The relationship and personalities of Caroline and her husband Charles are more complex and fully realized, making for a wonderful reading experience." --Brenda O'Brien, Woodridge Public Library, Woodridge, Ill.

George and Lizzie: A Novel by Nancy Pearl (Touchstone, $25, 9781501162893). "The daughter of two renowned narcissistic psychologists, Lizzie's problem has always been overthinking everything. George, raised in a very adoring family, comes into Lizzie's life with one goal--to love her completely and forever. Can she relinquish the past to move toward the happiness that could be hers in the future? Relationships, good and bad, past and present, all come together to make a truly wonderful tale of the reality of the struggles of everyday life. Very well-written." --Debbie Wittkop, Southwest Public Libraries, Columbus, Ohio


Book Review

Review: The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Essays on Movies and Politics

The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Essays on Movies and Politics by Jim Shepard (Tin House, $15.95 paperback, 272p., 9781941040720, September 12, 2017)

Most readers familiar with the work of Jim Shepard know him through inimitable short story collections like 2017's The World to Come. But Shepard has another life, at Williams College, where he teaches the course "Hollywood Film" for the English department. In The Tunnel at the End of the Light, a collection of essays published in the Believer magazine during the second term of George W. Bush, Shepard displays a talent for sharp film criticism laced with equally penetrating political insight. These pieces--"mostly about the power and the resilience of the lies we tell ourselves as a collective"--will send some readers to their Netflix lists and perhaps propel others to a protest march.

Shepard is fond of placing a pair of films in opposition to one another to make his critical points. He does that, for example, in an essay that matches two Academy Award-winning movies--Schindler's List and The Pianist--to explore the way Americans "seem to cherish the notion about our country that we're slow to get stirred up, but decisive once resolved to act," an observation that allows an extended reflection on the subject of heroism.

That's a topic that obviously engages his critical interest, as he moves on to consider how the films of The Godfather trilogy "lure us in with their protagonists' heroic qualities." In Shepard's assessment, Francis Ford Coppola's viewpoint contrasts with Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, whose "relentless agenda" is to "demythologize the connections, the loyalties, supposedly inherent" in organized crime.

Shepard's taste seems to run more to the art house than multiplex. He's no fan of Steven Spielberg's blockbusters, as his takes on both Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan make clear. Moreover, he doesn't restrain himself when it comes to expressing his enthusiasm for the Danish film Babette's Feast, in an essay on the category of melodrama Variety called "weepies." Describing the movie's climactic scene--a "sequence of pure enjoyment"--he writes, in a lyrical summary: "Every so often the world's grace allows us a greater glimpse of what's possible, of what we're capable of."

But without sacrificing his artistic sensibilities, Shepard maintains a consistent focus on these films in their social and cultural context. Whether he's denouncing the "perverse omnivorousness of capitalism" revealed in Chinatown, or the "clutch of carrion-eaters in charge of our political and corporate landscape who appear positively ebullient in their rapacity" exposed in Goodfellas, Shepard is as decisive in his judgments about politics as he is about cinema. Amid the thumbs up or down style that dominates 21st-century American film criticism, Shepard's provocative engagement with this art form offers a bracing change of pace. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Jim Shepard's essay collection blends astute film criticism with trenchant political insight.


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