Also published on this date: Thursday, August 31, 2017: Maximum Shelf: What I Found in a Thousand Towns

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 31, 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

Hurricane Harvey Update: Bookstores Slowly Recover, Make Donations

The sun shone in the Houston area for the first time in nearly a week, and bookstores were able to conduct business with some normalcy, although the effects of widespread flooding will last for a long time.

Yesterday, Murder by the Book in Houston was open its regular hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and continued to offer "coffee, tea and snacks"--and shelter. And from 3-4 p.m. Divisi Strings played classical and pop favorites.

Brazos Bookstore in Houston was also back to normal hours and is donating 20% of its sales this week to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, created by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner to provide financial assistance for flood victims.

Divisi Strings performed at Murder by the Book yesterday.

Galveston Bookshop in Galveston was seeking a dehumidifier, after "lots of puddles" and "a few drowned books."

Katy Budget Books in Katy is doubling the amount it has available on its teacher credit accounts so that teachers are able to replenish classroom libraries. In addition, the store is asking customers who have come through the storm unscathed "to come in and purchase $25 gift cards for us to donate to various districts." Contributors can designate a particular school; otherwise the books will distribute to area districts, which can determine where need is greatest. Gift cards can be ordered online here.

"We know this incredible community is searching for ways to help those who are suffering, and we just want to give you a way to contribute to rebuilding our phenomenal education system," the store said.

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Interabang Books in Dallas, Tex., is "standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Houston" by donating 20% of its weekend sales, including both in-store and online sales, to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Interabang, which opened in Dallas earlier this summer and is managed by Jeremy Ellis, is following the lead of Brazos Bookstore (above), where Ellis was previously manager.

In a newsletter, Interabang Books offered a message of support to Houston indies, saying "we are glad to hear all bookstores remain above water and our thoughts remain with them and the rest of the city as relief efforts continue."

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In September, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y., will donate all funds from its poetry gumball machine to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

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The Diesel bookstore in Oakland, Calif., that officially becomes East Bay Booksellers tomorrow will donate 20% of its opening weekend sales to Hurricane Harvey relief. New owner Brad Johnson called it the store's way of "honoring its history as a progressive cultural hub."


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


B&N Education: Sales Way Up; Net Loss Increases

Consolidated sales at Barnes & Noble Education in the first quarter ended July 29 rose 48.7%, to $355.7 million, while the consolidated net loss rose to $34.8 million from $27.9 million in the same period last year. The sales jump comes from the inclusion of revenue from MBS Textbook Exchange, which B&N Education bought earlier this year.

Wall Street didn't like the loss, which was larger than anticipated: yesterday, B&N Education's stock fell 17.7%, closing at $5.61 a share, in higher than usual volume on a day most stocks rose.

In the quarter, sales at B&N College stores open at least a year fell 2.5%, representing some $5.5 million in revenue. The company attributed the decrease primarily to textbook sales, which were down 8.5%, partially offset by an increase in general merchandise sales of 3.3%, especially by branded apparel and gift sales. General merchandise represented about half of all sales in the quarter for B&N College.

During the quarter, B&N College opened 24 new physical stores, bringing its total to 781.

MBS Textbook Exchange opened 10 new virtual stores, bringing its total to 714. MBS is also one of the largest textbook wholesalers in the country, selling new and used textbooks to more than 3,700 physical college bookstores, including Barnes & Noble College's 781 campus bookstores.

Executive chairman Michael P. Huseby said, "We are well prepared for the fall rush period for course material and general merchandise sales both in store and online. We are well positioned to broaden and deepen our partnerships with schools to support student success. In addition, our agreement with the major publishers to enhance and formalize procedures to combat counterfeits and assure authentic content has placed us in a better position to negotiate expanded and mutually-beneficial commercial relationships with them."

The company predicted that B&N College sales will decline during the fiscal year in the "low- to mid-single digit percentage point range year over year." The company also expects consolidated sales to be in the range of $2.25 billion to $2.35 billion "before intercompany eliminations."


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


Encore Books Reopens in Yakima, Wash.

Encore Books in Yakima, Wash., has reopened in its new location, at the corner of Walnut and 5th Avenue. The store was closed earlier this summer while it moved from its home of 16 years to the new space, which is closer to Yakima's downtown and is a bit larger. According to general manager Brett Lamb, there is still some renovation work to be done but the store has opened and is welcoming customers. A space within the store has also been set aside for someone to do coffee or food service, but no partnership has been finalized. A grand opening event will be held at Encore Books on September 9.


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


Massive Tehran Book Garden Opens in Iran

A nearly 700,000-square-foot complex called the Tehran Book Garden opened in Tehran, Iran, earlier this summer, Travel and Leisure reported. The complex includes not only several bookstores catering to different age groups but also a theater, display halls, research halls, an art gallery, a prayer room, a restaurant and a robotics club. The Tehran Book Garden will additionally be home to book festivals, author signings, painting workshops and more cultural and artistic events.

The project was envisioned as a "year-round alternative" to the annual Tehran International Book Fair, and during a ceremony celebrating the opening of the Tehran Book Garden, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said it "aims to teach our children to be active and creative through modern methods and equipment." It is one of about 1,500 bookstores left in the country; according to the World Economic Forum the decline in bookstores was brought about by the Iranian government's strict censorship of writing and literature.

The Book Garden is so large it may also be in the running for the Guinness World Records title of largest individual bookstore in the world, if it is eligible, Travel and Leisure noted. The previous record holder was the now-closed flagship Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York City that was 154,250 square feet.


Obituary Note: Susan Vreeland

Susan Vreeland, author of novels exploring about art and artists, died on Monday. She was 71.

Perhaps her best-known novel was Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999), about an alleged painting by Vermeer and its various owners over the centuries. Other works included The Passion of Artemisia, focusing on the inner life of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi; The Forest Lover, a fictionalized account of the life of Canadian painter Emily Carr; Life Studies, stories about Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters from the points of view of people who knew them; Luncheon of the Boating Party, about Renoir and his world as he creates his masterwork; and Clara and Mr. Tiffany, about Clara Driscoll, who conceived and designed Tiffany Lamps.


Notes

Image of the Day: Mean Pizza Happiness

Once Upon a Time in Montrose, Calif., hosted Jennie Palmer, whose debut picture book is The Wompananny Witches Make a Mean Pizza (Abrams). The event drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 enthusiastic listeners, all eager to learn how to make that pizza. Storytime, sketching, cookies and spotting of the store cat, Pippi Longstocking, were crowd favorites. Pictured: Palmer (2nd from l.) with booksellers (l.-r.) Mallory Hill, Michael Alvarez and Jack Festoon.


Happy 40th Birthday, the King's English!

Congratulations to the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, which celebrates its 40th birthday on Saturday, September 9, with a 25% discount on most everything in the store and a variety of events, including several author appearances, a pup parade and readings of work submitted to the store's creative arts contest.

Deseret News has a long birthday profile of the King's English. Among our favorite parts:

Co-founder and co-owner Betsy Burton explained the appeal and strength of bricks-and-mortar indie bookstores this way: "People actually like to go browse and turn the pages.... We want customers when they come in to feel like they've been invited into somebody's living room. We really reach out to our customers and try to make them as happy as we possibly can."

Concerning online competition, Burton noted, "We never said, 'Never shop at Amazon.' We said, 'Think before you spend. Make your decisions thoughtful.' "

And about being a bookseller for 40 years: "When we talk over time to people about books, in some ways you get to know them better than even your really close friends. We now have three and even starting four generations of people who came in very young when I was starting the store who then grew up and had kids, who then grew up and had kids--it's pretty amazing."



Media and Movies

TV: Fahrenheit 451; Condor

Martin Donovan (Ant-Man), Andy McQueen (Jack Ryan) and Grace Lynn Kung (Mary Kills People) have been cast in supporting roles opposite Michael B. Jordan in Fahrenheit 451, HBO Films's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic novel. Deadline reported that Donovan will play Commissioner Nyari, McQueen is Gustav and Kung Chairman Mao. Previously announced cast members include Michael Shannon as Beatty, Sofia Boutella as Clarisse and Lilly Singh as Raven. Ramin Bahrani (Noruz Films) is directing and co-writing the script with Amir Naderi.

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Mouna Traoré (Murdoch Mysteries) and Ellen Wong (GLOW) "are set to recur opposite Max Irons in Condor, AT&T Audience Network's 10-episode straight-to-series drama produced by MGM Television and Skydance TV, Deadline reported. The project was inspired by Sydney Pollack's 1975 film Three Days of the Condor, which had been adapted from the book Six Days of the Condor by James Grady. Condor, which is being written by Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg, "follows Joe Turner (Irons), a young CIA analyst whose idealism is tested when he stumbles onto a terrible but brilliant plan that threatens the lives of millions." William Hurt, Bob Balaban and Mira Sorvino also star.


This Weekend on Book TV: The National 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, September 2
10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. Live coverage of the 17th annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Highlights include:

  • 10 a.m. David McCullough, author of The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781501174216).
  • 11 a.m. Sidney Blumenthal, author of Wrestling With His Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. II, 1849-1856 (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501153785).
  • 11:45 a.m. Open phones with J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546).
  • 1:50 p.m. Open phones with David McCullough.
  • 2:15 p.m. Thomas Friedman, author of Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374273538).
  • 3:15 p.m. Open phones with Leland Melvin, author of Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances (Amistad, $25.99, 9780062496720).
  • 3:40 p.m. Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594).
  • 4:40 p.m. Open phones with Thomas Friedman.
  • 5:05 p.m. Condoleezza Rice, author of Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom (Twelve, $35, 9781455540181).
  • 6:05 p.m. Ben Macintyre, author of Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War (Broadway, $16, 978101904183).
  • 6:45 p.m. John Farrell, author of Richard Nixon: The Life (Doubleday, $35, 9780385537353).

9 p.m. Angela Dodson, author of Remember the Ladies: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box (Center Street, $26, 9781455570935), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

10 p.m. Mark Levin, author of Rediscovering Americanism: And the Tyranny of Progressivism (Threshold Editions, $27, 9781476773087). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Alex Ryvchin, author of The Anti-Israel Agenda: Inside the Political War on the Jewish State (Gefen, $19.95, 9789652299147). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

Sunday, September 3
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Eric Metaxas, author of Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (Viking, $30, 9781101980019). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

10 p.m. John Nichols, author of Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America (Nation Books, $17.99, 9781568587806).


Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 5:

The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf, $60, 9780307700254) is a companion to the upcoming Ken Burns documentary.

Stephen Colbert's Midnight Confessions by Stephen Colbert (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501169007) brings a popular Late Show segment to book form.

Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander (Knopf, $26.95, 9781524732738) explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a wide cast of characters.

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, $26, 9781501126062) follows an impoverished family in rural Mississippi.

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen (Random House, $30, 9781400067213) chronicles America's long history of irrationality.

Enemy of the State by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills (Atria/Emily Bestler, $28.99, 9781476783512) is the 14th Mitch Rapp thriller.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter and Stacy Innerst (Abrams, $18.95, 9781419725593) structures for young readers the facts of the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a court case against injustice.

Good Me Bad Me: A Novel by Ali Land (Flatiron, $25.99, 9781250087645) follows the daughter of a serial killer.

Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle S. Allen (Liveright, $24.95, 9781631493119) explores the fate of the author's cousin, who was tried as an adult at age 15 for an attempted carjacking.

The List by Patricia Forde (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, 9781492647966) features a young woman who uncovers a sinister plan in a fantasy world in which everyone must speak List, a language of only 500 words.

Paperbacks:
Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry OBSESSED! by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin's Griffin, $21.99, 9781250087256).

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501141522).

Movie:
It, based on the novel by Stephen King, opens September 8. This adaptation, starring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, covers only the childhood portion of King's book (with a second movie planned for the adult half). A tie-in version (Scribner, $19.99, 9781501175466) is available.


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
Home Fire: A Novel by Kamila Shamsie (Riverhead, $26, 9780735217683). "One finishes reading Kamila Shamsie's extraordinary Home Fire completely stunned. She has written a brilliant story about two families who share geography and become linked by fate--one that has known exile, death, and family mystery, and another that has adapted to the so-called mainstream. Family, religion, the politics of media, various forms of seduction, and present-day devices all bring themselves to bear in utterly telling form. The U.S., London, Karachi, Syria, and Istanbul all figure into this book, which is of this time and age and beyond. One of the finest writers at work in English today, Kamila Shamsie has written her most heartbreaking, beautiful, necessary book yet." --Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

The Half-Drowned King: A Novel by Linnea Hartsuyker (Harper, $27.99, 9780062563699). "A fast-paced and harrowing saga of a sibling pair, both trying to do what is right for the other while navigating the physical and political terrain around them. Ragnvald and his sister, Svanhild, are our protagonists, and the book contains alternating chapters about each of their adventures. One fights a war on the battlefield while the other fights a war in the bedroom, and, fighting internal conflicts, each grows into adulthood quickly in this harsh environment. Rich with battles, love stories, and the breathtaking landscapes of Norway, The Half-Drowned King is a must-read for fans of literary fiction, adventure tales, and well-paced storytelling." --Giovanni Boivin, The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass.

Paperback
Mr. Eternity: A Novel by Aaron Thier (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781632860958). "Clever, smart, and brilliantly comic as it deals with our humanity, our resilient spirit, and the tremendous challenges that demand our cooperative attention, Mr. Eternity is a delight. Who can resist the tale of a 560-year-old American man named Daniel Defoe, who has much wisdom to offer the world and its people. This genre-bending page-turner is a blast to read!" --Ed Conklin, Chaucer's Books, Santa Barbara, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, 9781626725072). "Goldfish Ghost begins with the ghost of a goldfish being 'born' upside down above his bowl. He floats around the vacation town of Cape Cod looking for friendship and a place to fit in. It's hard for him to find his new place in the world, but the old lighthouse proves to be a beacon of hope. Goldfish Ghost is heartwarming (despite it being a ghost story), and the illustrations are so beautiful they're easy to get lost in." --Frostie Russell, Books & More of Albion, Albion, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
Posted by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, $16.99, 9780062338204). "John David Anderson must have a pipeline straight to the brain of adolescent boys, because he is masterful at writing the day-to-day life of the average middle-grade kid. The tribe that Frost has created with his three best friends is infiltrated by a strange and confident girl named Rose at the same time as his middle school creates a new rule about cell phones, and suddenly his closely guarded friendships are threatened. With warmth and laughter and tremendous depth of character, Posted is a novel that shows with specificity and rare truth the ways that kids grow within and beyond their early relationships." --Jamie Thomas, Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill.

For Teen Readers
The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99, 9781484717165). "It is both wonderful and heart-wrenching to be back in the mind of Julie, one of the two stalwart protagonists of Code Name Verity. The stakes may be a bit lower in The Pearl Thief but there is no doubt that Julie will pursue the mystery of an unknown attacker, a mysterious body, and missing pearls with just as much zeal. Themes of recognizing your privilege, figuring out who you love, and coping with family change will resonate with young readers." --Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery

The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James, Rachel McCarthy James (Scribner, $30 hardcover, 480p., 9781476796253, September 19, 2017)

Bill James is a savant of baseball statistics and probabilities. The annual Bill James Handbook (since 2003) uses his innovative sabermetrics to analyze strategic baseball trends (e.g., the infield shift, batter swing angles, pitch count management, etc.) to predict next year's winners and losers. When he stumbled upon the unsolved 1912 axe killing of a Villasca, Iowa, family of eight, the lifelong Kansan began to comb newspaper archives for similar crimes in the southern Midwest. One unsolved grisly murder led to another until James put aside baseball to enlist his daughter's help to research every remotely similar case.

The Man from the Train is the story of their work mapping historical crimes and logging the key repeating elements of the murders. Working backward in time from 1912, they uncovered almost 100 killings that fit the pattern. They statistically categorized and tracked the incidents from Texas to Nova Scotia, convinced that the slaughters were the work of one man who traveled by local trains to and from the scenes. And they were confident that modern tools of forensics coupled with the Internet's deep data, statistical analysis and their persistence would turn up the identity of the serial killer. Remarkably, they were right. Despite the best efforts of early 20th-century rural law enforcement, the angry emotions and vigilantism of neighbors, and voluminous newspaper reporting, only the James partnership got their man.

As one might expect from someone who has built a career out of replacing anecdotal baseball scripture with statistical analysis, James chronicles crime scene after crime scene with a methodical storytelling flair. He cites eyewitness newspaper reporting and police records noting the killer's pattern: using the blunt side of the axe, burning down the house or locking it up after the carnage, stacking bodies, avoiding any theft of valuables, and always slipping out of town when the train came through. Each murdered family has its own story, and James digs into the aftermath of the crime and the gossip about the victims--the rumors of infidelity and greed. Some cops are diligent, some merely grab the closest drifter to take the rap. Innocents are jailed. Families are torn apart. The man from the train leaves more than corpses in his wake.

With reportorial objectivity, James tells their stories. His work is more Joe Friday--"Just the facts, ma'am"--than Truman Capote, although James is not above a few Columbo-like winks and asides to the reader. As he ends an early chapter, "I will explain what I believe happened and why I believe that, and you can decide whether you agree or disagree. Perhaps, until then, you will be kind enough to suspend judgment? Appreciate it." As readers follow along with the authors' true-crime sleuthing, they're apt to become convinced--just like the Red Sox were convinced to hang onto aging "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Baseball analyst Bill James and his daughter use their research skills and statistical knowhow to expose an early 20th-century serial killer.


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