Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 30, 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

Waterstones Owner Exploring Sale, Debt Refinancing

Waterstones, the main bookselling chain in the U.K., may be for sale.

Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire who bought Waterstones in 2011 for £53 million (about $70 million at current exchange rates), has asked N.M. Rothschild & Sons to advise him on strategic options, including a sale of the bookseller for £250 million (about $329 million) or refinancing of its debt, the Times of London reported late yesterday. According to a followup story from City AM, Mamut asked Rothschild to handle the matter during the summer, and the process isn't expected to be conducted in earnest until after the holiday season.

In any case, the matter has been given new impetus by the collapse of Russia's largest private bank, Otkritie, in which Mamut was a major shareholder. Bailed out two months ago and with new management, Otkritie has criticized bank owners for financing their own business deals and is seeking capital to shore up its finances, which are reportedly at least $3.3 billion in the hole. Waterstones has about $100 million in loans from the Russian Commercial Bank, which until recently was partly owned by Otkritie. According to the Evening Standard, Waterstones Holdings also owes Lynwood, a Mamut investment company--the technical owner of Waterstones--£138.7 million (about $182.6 million) and has paid it £9.7 million ($12.8 million) in interest

Waterstones managing director James Daunt, who was appointed by Mamut when he bought the company in 2011, told the Bookseller this morning that a sale by Mamut would be "sensible enough" because the company has become profitable and "that is what he does--buys companies, invests, turns them around and then sells them. If he can get the £200 million plus for us, he will have done very well!"

Daunt dismissed a link between the failed bank and Waterstones and said that the company had relied on funding from Russian sources--based or with operations in Cyprus--because early during his tenure, it couldn't get access to funding in the U.K. because of its weakened condition.

If it's put up for sale, Waterstones is in a better position than it's been for years. When Mamut bought the company, it was the last major bookselling chain in the U.K. and many feared that like its former rivals, it, too, might collapse. But since then, it has revamped operations and staff, renovated many stores, cut returns rates substantially and, last but not least, dropped the apostrophe in its former name--and made its first profit in five years. In the year ended April 30, 2016, sales rose 4%, to £409.1 million (about $538.5 million), and Waterstones had a pre-tax profit of £9.9 million ($13 million) compared to a pre-tax loss of £4.5 million ($5.9 million) a year earlier. Waterstones has about 275 stores in the U.K., Ireland and continental Europe.


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


Boogie Down Books: Pop-up Opens in the Bronx

As part of an effort to open Boogie Down Books, a bookstore for children and teenagers, in her Mott Haven neighborhood in the South Bronx, N.Y., educator Rebekah Shoaf opened a pop-up location on Saturday. It was the first part of Boogie Down Books' Fall into Reading, "a month-long celebration of youth and community literacy" that is being staffed by more than 30 volunteers with funding from the Citizens Committee for New York City, whose Neighborhood Grant program offers micro-loans of up to $3,000 for resident-led community projects.

On Saturday, 200 free copies of six titles were distributed at the pop-up bookshop to young people ages 11-18 and their caregivers. Book clubs about the six titles will be facilitated by volunteer educators on November 4 and 18. The book clubs will be open to the young people and caregivers who received the books as well as to readers of all ages from the New York City area. Authors will join book club meetings both in person and remotely to discuss their books.

To promote Fall into Reading, Boogie Down Books is partnering with local school P.S./I.S. 224, where it held the popup store on Saturday; the Mott Haven branch of the New York Public Library for book club meetings; and the House of SpeakEasy's SpeakUp program, which provided a book truck.

The books, which Shoaf selected because they have "characters representing varied backgrounds and identities" and because they are "connected to New York City, especially the Bronx," include Lilliam Rivera's The Education of Margot Sanchez, Adam Silvera's They Both Die at the End, Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac and D Foster and Tony Medina's I Am Alfonso Jones. Titles in English and Spanish are Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks (Semillas) and R.J. Palacio's Wonder (La Lección de August).


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


New Zealand Bookshop Day: 'So Much Love'

New Zealand Bookshop Day took place Saturday. In addition to hosting nationwide in-store events and receiving love letters from authors, Kiwi independent booksellers celebrated having "fought back from fears their days could be numbered as sales of physical books have stabilized after the launch of e-books," the Herald reported. "And store owners and operators are calling on the new government to help them to keep thriving in the age of online shopping by forcing overseas-based retailers like Amazon to pay GST." But #NZ Bookshop Day was all about the fun. Here are a few highlights:

Hedleys Books, Masterton: Getting ready--"We are in full NZ Bookshop Day outfit now! Please come down this Saturday to support your local indie bookstore and celebrate 110 years of family run business. We are part of the Masterton landscape!"

Time Out Bookstore, Mt. Eden, put together "10 reasons you should visit Time Out this Saturday."

Booksellers NZ‏: "There is so much love for bookshops in Your Weekend, my eyes are watering."

Ekor Bookshop & Café, Wellington (via Mākaro Press): "Little Scandinavia at #ekorbookshop on #NZBookshopDay."

Wardini Books, Havelock North: "The man himself! Donovan Bixley made lots of dreams come true today drawing all sorts for everyone to celebrate National Bookshop Day. And he even got to catch up with some long lost rellies! Thanks so much for joining us Donovan Bixley Author/Illustrator."

Volume: The Space for Books, Nelson: Postcard from some young fans--"Thank you for being kind and getting books we love...."

Unity Books, Wellington: "Dogs love to celebrate #nzbookshopday and tattoos from Chris Riddell's lovely 100 Hugs book."

Vic Books, Wellington: ‏"The amazing crowd at our #NZBookshopDay Storytime Extravaganza!" And: "Singing in the @vicbks bookshop!"

Time Out Bookstore: Before: "It's all happening!" And after: "A #nzbookshopday round up! Thank you all for coming, we're having a wine now." 


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Obituary Note: Iona Opie

Iona Opie, a British folklorist "who collected, codified and published children's rhymes, riddles and street culture," died October 23, the Guardian reported. She was 94. It all began during World War II, when "the publishing company that employed her husband, Peter, was exiled by the London blitz to Bedfordshire in 1943, and there the couple walked by a field of corn. Iona, who was pregnant, picked up a bug and recited 'Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home/ Your house is on fire and your children all gone.' It flew and they were 'left wondering about this rhyme--what did it mean? Where did it come from? Who wrote it?' " the Guardian noted.

The "keeper of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford," discovered the Opies "collecting riddles, and recommended them to the Oxford University Press." Their first publication was I Saw Esau (1947), "a slim precursor of the wide spine" of The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1951) and The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book (1955). Other books include The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959), Children's Games in Street and Playground (1969), The Classic Fairy Tales (1974).

After her husband's death in 1982, Iona Opie continued the work alone, publishing numerous books, including The People in the Playground (1993), Tail Feathers from Mother Goose (1988) and Here Comes Mother Goose (1999) and Children's Games With Things (1997).

The universities of Oxford, Southampton, Nottingham and Surrey, and the Open University, awarded the Opies honorary masters' degrees and doctorates; and they won international literary medals, the Guardian wrote. Iona was made CBE in 1999.


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


Notes

Image of the Day: Halloween Spirit at Phoenix Books Rutland

The bookselling team at Phoenix Books in Rutland, Vt., shared a pic from the city's annual Halloween Parade, which took place over the weekend and "is one of the longest running Halloween parades in the country. Thousands of residents and visitors come to downtown Rutland the Saturday before Halloween to watch or take part in this long-standing tradition. While the parade originated with a super hero theme--and costumed heroes are still to be found every year--current parade entrants are encouraged to use their imaginations. Recent award winning floats have included Wizard of Oz, dinosaur and science fiction themes. Children line the curb along the parade route hoping the crazy characters walking past will stop to drop a goody in their bags. This year, Phoenix Books took part with booksellers dressed up as--what else?--books and Phoenix Books co-owner Mike DeSanto and Phoenix Books Rutland co-owner Tom Huebner driving the store van." 


Bookshop Wedding: The Strand

Brides magazine recently featured "an intimate New York City wedding at the Strand Book Store." The nuptials took place last June between Tom James and Dustin Ngo, whose guests gathered in the Strand's Rare Books Room "for a casual, cozy celebration inspired by a '60s library."

"The Strand embodies all of the things we love about our relationship. It's a warm, intimate space full of stories, knowledge, and adventure," James said.

"Carefully curated stacks of books were topped with arrangements of white blooms, thistles, and greenery," Brides wrote. "The table numbers were fittingly designed to look like vintage library catalog cards."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Daily Show

Today:
Good Morning America: Carl Lentz, author of Own the Moment (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781501177002). He will also appear today on Nightline and tomorrow on CNBC's Power Lunch.

NPR's Morning Edition: Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99, 9781481438254).

Today Show: Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860). He will also appear today on Rachel Maddow and tomorrow on Morning Joe and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Wendy Williams: Jessica Siskin, author of Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats (Workman Publishing, $14.95, 9780761189800).

Daily Show: Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (One World, $28, 9780399590566).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Whitney Cummings, author of I'm Fine... And Other Lies (Putnam, $27, 9780735212602). She will also appear tomorrow on Conan.

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Senator Bernie Sanders, author of Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution (Holt, $16.99, 9781250138903).

Tomorrow:
Live with Kelly and Ryan: Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott, authors of It Takes Two: Our Story (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9781328771476).

The View: JB Smoove, co-author The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool (Gallery, $25, 9781501180712). He will also appear on Conan.

Daily Show: Gretchen Carlson, author of Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back (Center Street, $27, 9781478992172).

Last Call with Carson Daly: Caitlin Doughty, author of From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death (Norton, $24.95, 9780393249897).


TV: The Kingkiller Chronicle

Showtime is developing a television series based on the Kingkiller Chronicle book series by Patrick Rothfuss that is being produced by Lionsgate, with Lin-Manuel Miranda executive producing and John Rogers (Leverage, The Player) as showrunner, Deadline reported. Miranda also will compose music for the project, which is "a subversive origin story set a generation before the events of the trilogy's first novel, The Name of the Wind."

The Kingkiller Chronicle "is a collaborative franchise from Lionsgate that includes a TV series adaption, a major feature film and interactive games all being developed concurrently," Deadline noted.

Miranda said, "Pat Rothruss' Kingkiller series is some of the most exciting storytelling I have ever read."



Books & Authors

Awards: Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

Shortlists have been announced for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Winning authors receive $5,000, with $1,500 going to each of the remaining finalists. The two medal winners will be unveiled February 11 during the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colo. The shortlisted titles are:

Fiction
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Scribner)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random House)
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

Nonfiction
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)
The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg (Bloomsbury)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)


Book Review

Review: Mean

Mean by Myriam Gurba (Coffee House Press, $16.95 paperback, 160p., 9781566894913, November 7, 2017)

Myriam Gurba's Mean is a memoir of growing up queer, mixed-race, Chicana and female in Santa Maria, Calif., in the 1980s and '90s. It is also a crime report, and a fantasy featuring ghosts, saints and martyrs. Race, class, sex, sexuality and sexual assault intersect in Gurba's own life and in the news, especially when the man who attacked her goes on to kill a woman in her community. Surprisingly, though, this is also a book capable of making readers laugh out loud.

The first chapter, "Wisdom," introduces a murder. Then Gurba flashes back to a childhood that confuses English with Spanish, because "I assumed we all had the same words." She takes readers from that childhood, with her growing grasp of the messy concepts of white and Mexican (her parents are one of each), as she matures into a young woman dealing with questions of body and sexuality common to Western teens plus some exclusive to this particular slice of culture. The reader follows Gurba to college in Berkeley and beyond, as she continues to navigate family and other relationships.

Gurba approaches her grave subjects with acerbic humor and compassion, in a style all her own. She plays with form: "I hate found poems," she writes, before presenting her own carefully shaped, visual found poem. Court transcripts and college course records offer various frames for considering a history that is both personal and broad, cultural and political. Formal play is not the point, however; Gurba makes the form follow her unusual story. Unsurprisingly, because she is an artist and a writer, she is concerned with words, appearances and how we make meaning. She is interested in race and class as they show up in food and pop culture; where modern sexual exploration meets Anne Frank; immigration and the visual arts, and more.

The title is important. "Being mean isn't for everybody. It's best practiced by those who understand it as an art form. These virtuosos live closer to the divine. They're queers." Meanness is a weapon, a defense mechanism and a reaction; it is also part of Gurba's art. And yet her story and her storytelling voice are also loving and generous. The complexity of this voice contributes to the appeal of her memoir, which is compelling, suspenseful, both knowable as the girl next door and mysterious. Mean is a multifaceted book for many kinds of readers. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This memoir is remarkable for its unflinching candor, for its humor in the face of tragedy and absurdity, and for its adventurous style.


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