Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 8, 2017


Little Brown and Company: An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

Random House: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America's Test Kitchen Kids

Beacon Press: Receive an extra discount on Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

Shadow Mountain: Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Nosy Crow: Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, selected by Fiona Waters

Quirk Books: The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston

Quotation of the Day

Amazon's Australian Opening in Perspective

"The biggest bargain this year is not a product on the Amazon website, it is the tens of thousands of free column centimetres they received from both print and digital media.

"With the fanfare of an Apple launch, one of the great non-events of the retail century took place earlier this week. After all, Amazon has effectively been trading in Australia for more than 20 years. The only thing that is changing is that the distribution centre is in metropolitan Melbourne rather than in the U.S. or U.K. The massive FREE KICK afforded by the print and electronic media over the last couple of months means that a lot of consumers will be looking, but what they are seeing isn't all that exciting. Books appear low on the list, and you need to work your way through the Kindle titles; and prices, especially with postage, are not, at this stage game-changers. Much of the business press needs to take a collective deep breath.

"We pride ourselves on having hundreds of well-stocked bookshops across Australia with highly skilled booksellers who don't need algorithmic formulae to make recommendations, as well as excellent online options for those who prefer to shop in that way."

--Joel Becker, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association, on Amazon's new Australian website

KidsBuzz for the Week of 09.24.18


News

Indies Respond to Southern California Fires

Powerful Santa Ana winds and extremely dry conditions have fueled several major wildfires across Southern California this week, with residents of many inland and coastal communities forced to evacuate. In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire--by far the largest of the wildfires--has grown to 115,000 acres as of Thursday evening, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Posted by Bank of Books

Bank of Books, located along Main Street in Ventura, closed on Wednesday due to the Thomas Fire but reopened on Thursday; its sister store, Abednego Book Shoppe, also in Ventura, did not close. Bank of Books wrote on its Facebook page: "We are so grateful to live and have a business in this resilient community. Our prayers go out to those who have lost homes and with the many displaced due to air quality and no power."

The Thomas Fire also prompted mandatory evacuations in Ojai, a city about 20 minutes north of Ventura. Bart's Books, an outdoor used bookstore dating back to the 1960s, remains closed, but general manager Matt Henriksen reported that as of 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the store was "still intact" and the store's employees, along with their pets, evacuated safely.

Bart's Books in Ojai

While favorable wind conditions Wednesday night and early Thursday morning helped keep the Thomas Fire from spreading into Ojai proper, mandatory evacuations remain in effect, and dangerous wind conditions could resume later Thursday and into Friday, according to the L.A. Times.

The Skirball Fire, which broke out early Wednesday morning along the eastern side of the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles's Bel Air neighborhood, has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and burned close to 500 acres, per Curbed LA.

The Getty Center, which is located on the opposite side of the 405 from the fire and contains the American Booksellers Association member the Getty Store, has been closed since before the Skirball Fire started due to encroaching smoke from wildfires to the north, Bookselling This Week reported. On Thursday the Getty Center announced on Twitter that it would reopen on Friday, writing: "We are grateful to [the Los Angeles Fire Department] and to all the 1st responders and we continue to think of the safety of our neighbors and all the SoCal residents affected by the fires."

Just south of Bel Air in Westwood, the UCLA Store's BookZone, an independent university bookstore, has remained open despite classes being canceled the past two days. Manager Juwon Yang said that the store has been affected by the fire only in that sales have been slow with relatively few staff and students on campus. "We've been getting consistent updates," added Yang. "It looks like we're okay."

John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, a bookstore, reported that DIESEL's Brentwood location stayed open Wednesday and Thursday, though a handful of employees could not make it into work due to the closure of the 405. He described the current situation as one of careful monitoring, with the returning high winds creating a lot of uncertainty. Evans said that since the Oakland fire of 1991, he's always tried to keep the store open as a "refuge for people who are concerned or who have been evacuated," where "people can come and feel comfortable, and not feel alone." --Alex Mutter


Binc Foundation: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookstore-Activists


GLIBA Executive Director Deborah Leonard Leaving

Deborah Leonard

At the end of the year, Deborah Leonard is leaving her position as executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, which she has headed since 2010. She said she is "excited to have the chance to find something that makes my heart sing." She can be reached via e-mail or at 734-272-5983.

The association has begun looking for a new executive director. GLIBA board president Kate Schlademan of the Learned Owl, Hudson, Ohio, said: "Given the changes in the industry, and our membership, we are using this opportunity to adapt the responsibilities within the role to reflect those changes, and are hoping to find a new executive director who, among other tasks, will continue to develop our social media presence, and will travel around the region, meeting and working with our members. We are accepting resumes, will start interviews as of the New Year, and hope to hire someone by the end of January 2018." A full job description will be posted next week. Until a replacement is found, questions may be directed to Schlademan via e-mail.

Before joining GLIBA, Leonard was a sales manager at Cengage Learning and earlier was a national account manager at Scholastic and Simon & Schuster and was a children's book buyer for Waldenbooks. She began her career as a bookseller at Zibart's in Nashville, Tenn., and worked as a bookstore manager for seven years. Leonard is also a board member of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).

Leonard's departure from GLIBA is the third recent change involving regional booksellers association heads. In October, Steve Fischer, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association since 2006, announced he is retiring early next year. In November, Laura Ayrey Burnett resigned as executive director of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, which she had headed since 2010.


Enlighten Up: Divine Dog Wisdom Cards: A 62 Card Deck and Guidebook by Barb Horn and Randy Crutcher, illustrated by Teresa Shishim


Sidekicks Bookbar to Open in Rock Springs, Wyo.

Sidekicks Bookbar will open next month at 507 Broadway St. in downtown Rock Springs, Wyo., thanks to a recent decision by the City Council to approve a satellite winery license application for Jackson Hole Winery, which allows the company to sell its manufactured wine at three locations across the state, according to the Wyoming Business Report.

Owner Lisa Ryberg said she decided to open a book bar because she thought the community needed a place for people to go out for an evening, enjoy wine and read books. "Wine and books complement each other, and together they should make a nice environment," she said, adding that her book selection will cover a variety of subjects, including "pretty much everything you find in a large-size bookstore. My goal is to offer good books that are in demand and the new releases."

Rock Springs Mayor Carl Demshar added: "I think it's a great concept. It will be a great addition for the downtown area."

Ryberg noted that while her business can sell only wine Jackson Hole Winery produces, "they're really wonderful products."


University of Minnesota Press: Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich


Book People in Richmond, Va., Launches Fundraiser

The staff at Book People, Richmond, Va., have mobilized to launch an Indiegogo campaign to save and renovate the popular West End bookseller. When founder Ruth Erb decided to retire, her employees teamed up with several dedicated customers to devise a plan to keep the bookshop open.

"When I opened Book People back in 1980, I wasn't starting a business--I was starting a passion. And I've been sharing my passion for books with Richmonders ever since," Erb said. "I'm happy to pass my shop on to a team that shares my passion for books."

The fundraising campaign is looking to raise the $50,000 necessary to renovate and modernize the 37-year-old store. It will supplement core investment funding from several of Book People's dedicated customers.

Customer and investor Mary Lou Sheridan noted that Book People "is well-known for an abundance of hospitality and hard-to-find titles, and it's a great place to meet local authors, talk to other readers, and attend fun events that you can only find at Book People, like the monthly game of German Scrabble. It's been a gathering spot for the community for decades."


Greystone Books: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst


Obituary Note: William H. Gass

William H. Gass, "a proudly postmodern author who valued form and language more than literary conventions like plot and character and who had a broad influence on other experimental writers of the 1960s, '70s and beyond," died December 6, the New York Times reported. He was 93. Widely credited with coining the term "metafiction," he was one of the form's foremost practitioners.

Beginning with his first novel, Omensetter's Luck (1966), Gass "was one of the most respected authors never to write a bestseller," the Times noted. He wrote two other novels, The Tunnel (1995) and Middle C (2013), as well as many novellas, short stories and essays. His other books include In the Heart of the Heart of the Country (1968); Willie Master's Lonesome Wife (1971), Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas (1998). His many essay collections included Fiction and the Figures of Life (1970), The World Within the Word (1979), Reading Rilke (2000) and On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. His most recent book was Eyes: Novellas & Stories (2015). The William Gass Reader will be published in June by Knopf.

Gass's honors include two National Book Critics Circle Awards for collections of criticism and philosophy for Habitations of the Word (1985) and Finding a Form (1997). He won four Pushcart Prizes, the Pen-Faulkner Prize and a $100,000 lifetime achievement award from the Lannan Foundation in 1997.

Victoria Wilson, his longtime editor at Knopf, said, "Bill was a master writer, thinker, inspirer, and human being. His writing was important and daring. I loved working with him and I loved him."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Waste Tide
by Chen Qiufan
translated by Ken Liu

I first heard about Waste Tide at BookExpo and, weeks later, with my curiosity as piqued as ever, I finally got a copy to read. Chen Qiufan's novel is relentless--a sci-fi blockbuster with mob bosses, robots and a powerful virus. Its twists and thrills kept me gasping, but what's stuck with me long after finishing is its salient depiction of ecological calamity boiling over from a disparaged pocket of the globe. "The issues Chinese science fiction is confronting are issues we're all facing," editor Lindsey Hall told me later, "and Waste Tide feels like an urgent, important read." Those urgent questions of environmental corrosion and dubious financial influences both domestic and foreign make this feel far more than speculative--it's downright prescient. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

(Tor Books, $26.99 hardcover, 9780765389312, April 30, 2019)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER
#ShelfGLOW
Shelf vetted, publisher supported

 


Notes

Cover to Cover's New Owner Readies for Jan. Reopening

The new Cover to Cover under construction

Melia Wolf purchased Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers, Columbus, Ohio, from co-founders Sally Oddi and Randy King last summer. Recently she spoke with Bookselling This Week about her first months as a bookstore owner as she approaches a January reopening of the 37-year-old bookstore in a new neighborhood at 2116 Arlington Avenue in Upper Arlington. Although she hired a full-time manager, Tamara Withers, Wolf expects to be in the shop every day as well as on weekends.

The new space is being renovated to make it accessible to customers with disabilities: "I could have left it the way it was, but by choice I am doing the right thing," Wolf said. "The front door wasn't wide enough for a wheelchair to come in, and the bathroom wouldn't allow someone in a wheelchair to go to the restroom. So, I took down a wall and expanded the bathroom and made the front door so it can open."

Noting that she is relying on Oddi for support and advice, Wolf said, "Sally Oddi is somebody I want to emulate. She is a person who devoted herself to supporting literacy, to supporting teachers, parents and children."

Oddi's influence was also the reason Wolf opted to buy the business rather than open a new bookstore. "I could have easily made up a name, but I want to celebrate Sally and what she did," Wolf said. "I want to emulate her in any way I'm possibly capable of. I want to emulate her work ethic, her love of books and children, her respect for people, and her tireless hard work. She's an amazing person. I would want to be well known, like she is, for having done a good job. She's just a behind-the-scenes, loving, good person who gave her all to her community."

Oddi expressed her faith in Wolf: "We're very happy. My feeling is there are many, many customers for whom the closing was really bad news, and the best thing I could do for them was find someone who cared about the business the way I did and continue it.... I have encouraged her to understand that this is now her store. They will first come based on the name Cover to Cover, but they will continue to come in based on her. That's the important piece."

Wolf observed: "It's exciting. It's alright to take risks and to grow. All of my experiences, having been a preschool teacher at one point, too, will lend themselves to helping me serve other people in this position as a bookstore owner."


Bookstore Holiday Decorations: The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook, Woodstock, N.Y., shared photos of its holiday contest-winning window display decorations on Facebook, noting: "We are so amazed to have won the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Arts holiday open house window contest with Lucia Reale-Vogt gorgeous works of book art. Our town is known for their outstanding original and artistic holiday windows. Please come to town and enjoy them all!"


Personnel Changes at Workman

At Workman Publishing:

Rebecca Carlisle has been promoted to senior director of publicity and marketing. She has also worked at W.W. Norton, Other Press, Bloomsbury Publishing and Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group.

Carlisle replaces Selina Meere, executive director of publicity and marketing, who is leaving the company after nine years to move with her family to the West Coast. Meere will continue at Workman until January 5, working on the transition.

Chloe Puton has been promoted to associate director of publicity. She will manage the publicists and continue to run title publicity campaigns for Workman's lead authors.

Moira Kerrigan continues as director of marketing.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Patrick Phillips on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Patrick Phillips, author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (Norton, $15.95, 9780393354737).

Sunday:
Watch What Happens Live: Tiffany Haddish, author of The Last Black Unicorn (Gallery, $26, 9781501181825).


TV: Old Man's War

Netflix has acquired John Scalzi's Old Man's War, which is the first novel "in a bestselling six-book series and is considered to be one of the best of the genre over the past two decades," to develop as an original film, Deadline reported. Jon Shestack Productions and Madhouse Entertainment will produce. Scalzi also has projects in development with FX and Working Title. 


Books & Authors

Awards: Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer

Sally Rooney is the first Irish winner of the £5,000 (about $6,735) Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award for her debut novel Conversations with Friends. The award is presented annually "to the best work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry by a British or Irish author aged between 18 and 35, either published or self-published," the Bookseller reported.

Andrew Holgate, one of the judges and the Sunday Times literary editor, said: "Choosing this year's winner from five such outstanding writers was immensely difficult, but for line by line quality, emotional complexity, sly sophistication and sheer brio and enjoyment, Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends really stood out. To have produced a novel which nods all the way back to Jane Austen's Emma, while being so thoroughly modern in feel, is quite something, and Rooney proves herself with this debut to be a really worthy addition to the extraordinary list of past winners of the Young Writer Award."

The award is run in association with the University of Warwick, which is offering the winner a 10-week residency, and providing a year-round program of on-campus and digital support for award alumni and the shortlisted authors. The British Council is the international partner of the award.


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular November Books

The two most popular books in November at Reading Group Choices were The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan (Broadway Books) and The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber (She Writes Press).


Reading with... Karen Brody

photo: Judith Rae

Karen Brody is the author of Daring to Rest: Reclaim Your Power with Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation (Sounds True, November 1, 2017). She's also a speaker and the founder of Daringtorest.com, a company offering yoga nidra meditation for women via downloadable products and training. Her work has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and she's a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She's also a playwright.

On your nightstand now:

On the top is For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English. I'm always looking back at this one, reminding myself of why when I think I'm crazy, there's often a historical thread women have been brainwashed to think that this is true. This book reminds me that my crazy is normal. I also keep Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu's The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World in my stack of books to remind me of how to forgive when I really can't let the hurt go. I'm trying to work my way through Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's beautiful novel Americanah. Love her prose and everything she stands for. And Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone is about to go on my nightstand. Can't put it down.

Favorite book when you were a child:

All of Judy Blume's books. Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?, Forever and It's Not the End of the World. They reminded me that everything I felt was okay, and they made me feel proud to be a girl.

Your top five authors:

Abraham Verghese, Anne Lamott, Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Pema Chödrön. I'd pay big money to have tea with them--and I'd head up to heaven to meet Maya Angelou in a second.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm dyslexic so just about every book in high school and college I had to fake read or read the Cliffs Notes to get through it in time. I read Shakespeare this way. (Actually, I love Shakespeare, but reading it feels like pure torture because in every line I want to have a discussion on meaning and metaphor. And sometimes I'm just plain lost.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening by Dr. Rubin Naiman. This is one of the most thoughtful books I've read; it's well-researched and just makes sense. If we all read and applied Naiman's ideas on rest and rhythm, I think we'd solve our exhausting quest for happiness and cut down on the number of sleep, depression and anxiety medication most of America is on.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Never bought a book for the cover. Content over cover--always.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents were so open, they probably hid books from me. I guess Forever by Judy Blume went into a drawer, just because it was the first book I read about having an orgasm, and that felt risky.

Book that changed your life:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman shook me to my core. If you ever want to understand how a woman is driven crazy and women's complicated history with rest, then read this.

I was also deeply changed by the stories in Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Whenever I feel exhausted and defeated, I reread her "Vasilisa" story, and it reminds me how important it is for women to stay connected to our wild, intuitive nature. Without her, a part of us dies.

Favorite line from a book:

Only one? I love this quote from Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick's Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman's Body & Soul:

"I'm brave.
Brave also means
Being nervous."

Woodman is a master at inviting us to hold what she calls "the tension of the opposites" in our lives. This is why I love yoga nidra meditation so much--it plays with opposites and by doing so, you wake up and begin living in the "and/both" instead of the "either/or."

Five books you'll never part with:

My nervous system feels like it needs to be surrounded by all my books; they're family, so I never want to part with any. But if I had to choose, these are top selections you'd have to fight me for:

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. This book reminds me how breakdown can lead to breakthroughs.

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott. I buy this book and a bottle of water for every new mom. Anne Lamott's talent to tell the raw truth about parenting is refreshing and bold.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Ridiculously inspiring and makes me want to be a better human. His life is a manual for fighting oppression.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön. This one is often on my nightstand. It's my bible for just about every moment in life--a health crisis, having a baby and birthing a business.

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

Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone. Gorgeous milky prose. Powerful story. Made me feel intimate with Ethiopian culture and the human experience.

Books you could read over and over again:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Required feminist reading.

Anything by Abraham Verghese. Cutting for Stone, The Tennis Partner and My Own Country: A Doctor's Story. He's my writer-crush.

Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her prose is like butter, and this story is so powerfully told. Couldn't put it down.

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (and the entire trilogy). Felt as if I was transported to Egypt.

I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallmann. Great storytelling, and full of bravery. A modern Out of Africa.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cannot Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Felt like Cain wrote this for me and all the other people who have been told that they're "too sensitive" or "shy," but deep down felt like a quiet leader. 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Ridiculously imaginative. I want Selznick's storytelling talent. Please.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. Breathtaking. I can't wait to read her new nonfiction, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story.


Book Review

Review: The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam

The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam by Max Boot (Liveright, $35 hardcover, 768p., 9780871409416, January 9, 2018)

The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam can, at times, feel like a departure for Max Boot, author of epic, sweeping histories such as Invisible Armies and The Savage Wars of Peace. The Road Not Taken not only focuses on a specific chunk of history but on a specific man: Edward Lansdale, an Air Force officer and legendary CIA operative said to be the inspiration for the protagonist in Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Boot dispels this belief along with many others, rescuing Lansdale's image from those who would cast him as a clueless, bumbling power broker. Instead, Boot argues that Lansdale's diplomatic and counterterrorism ideas were simply ahead of his time, forming the basis for an enormously influential "hearts and minds" strategy that offered both a more ethical and more effective vision for achieving U.S. aims abroad.

As the subtitle suggests, Boot's book centers on Vietnam, where "Lansdalism" met with varying degrees of acceptance and success. Boot focuses on the decision by U.S. diplomats to authorize and push a military coup that overthrew President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. Boot argues that the decision fatally destabilized South Vietnam's already shaky government, with disastrous consequences for the war effort. It could have gone differently if only the right people had listened to a personable former-ad-man-turned-CIA-operative named Edward Lansdale.

For a real-life example of "the road not taken," Boot first takes us to the Philippines in the late '40s and early '50s, where Lansdale found a second homeland and his first tastes of success. Charged with helping to combat a Communist insurgency that threatened the Filipino postwar government, Lansdale started by befriending everyone in sight. A crucial part of Lansdale's effectiveness came through his diligent building of personal relationships and his ability to influence decision-making through persuasion and friendship rather than threats. He was also an immensely capable propagandist, promoting his favored candidate with catchy slogans and even a popular song. Lansdale was no peacenik, but his focus on community relations and minimizing civilian casualties were a far sight from the policies eventually adopted in Vietnam.

After successfully maneuvering his friend Ramon Magsaysay to power in the Philippines and helping defeat the Huk insurgency, Lansdale found initial acceptance exporting his ideas to Vietnam. After developing an important friendship with President Ngo Dinh Diem of the recently created South Vietnam, Lansdale helped to cement Diem's shaky grasp on power in the mid-'50s, navigating complicated political waters that had frustrated French colonialists before him. Unfortunately, Lansdale proved much less adept in the bureaucratic jungles of Washington, D.C., where he struck many powerful people as quaint or hopelessly idealistic. He returned to Vietnam with greatly diminished influence just as U.S. military involvement was escalating. His ideas were ignored and a war lost--Boot strongly suggests that the two are related. The Road Not Taken offers a portrait of Lansdale as well as a foreign policy alternative to the U.S.'s often heavy-handed, militarized approach. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shelf Talker: Edward Lansdale was one of the most controversial figures in U.S. foreign policy, and The Road Not Taken rehabilitates his somewhat tarnished reputation.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: O Bookmas Tree (or Chalkboard)!

He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods--the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn't thought of them as Christmas Trees.

--from Robert Frost's poem "Christmas Trees"

I was in New York City earlier this week for what has become an annual pilgrimage, with a friend, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit our tree, the 20-foot blue spruce decorated with an 18th-century Neapolitan Nativity scene. We also stopped by Rockefeller Center to see its more garish if wildly popular descendant and, finally, for the second year in a row, paid respects to the Christmas tree vendor who has staked out a sidewalk claim on the Upper West Side with a sign of the times: "Gluten-Free Trees!"

I may have mentioned before (actually, just about every year, more or less, for the past decade), that I do not have a Christmas tree in my house. It's a little Grinchy/Scroogey of me, I know. And I'm sure there are many deep-seated psychological reasons for my arbor-less Yuletide habit.

But I've also noted the contradiction that I love other people's Christmas trees. For me, it's a spectator sport. I enjoy seeing them posed fully decorated in houses and store windows; strewn undecorated and for sale across parking lots like pop-up forests; and strapped triumphantly to the roofs of passing SUVs. I've even developed a tolerance for those giant inflatable Xmas tree-shaped lawn decorations being buffeted by icy winds to the point where they appear ready to take flight like blimps.

Bookmas Tree hunting has also become one of my Christmas tree traditions. I love discovering what booksellers and other bookish elves are doing with variations on the Bookmas Tree theme. This year, once again, I've been dashing through the virtual snow in a digital sleigh to find what social media's holiday global village has on offer. Here are a few highlights thus far:

Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.: Owner Connie Brooks shared a pic of the shop's "book-tree-ladder" designed by staff member Heather Boyne.

Murder by the Book, Houston, Tex.: "Our Annual Advent promotion kicks off tomorrow. Each year we pick 24 books to highlight, one for each day of Advent. This year our theme is Edgar award winners and nominees. We’ve also selected 8 books for young readers to represent Hanukkah. All our picks are 20% off. And while you’re in, check out our new holiday decorations."

Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "A book tree glows in Tree Town."

Lake Country Booksellers, White Bear Lake, Minn., shared a photo last month of its holiday season book tree.

Posman Books at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan: "Time to decorate your tree, and your window! Make it warm with these sweater-like ornaments."

Stirling Books & Brew, Albion, Mich.: "Decorating for Christmas!"

ReadWithMe.Raleigh‏, Raleigh, N.C.: "Our #givingtree benefits the Raleigh Rescue Mission's children. Help us to #givebooks this holiday season. Gifts will be delivered Friday so please stop by or email us soon if you'd like to participate. Thanks!"

Katy Budget Books, Houston, Tex.: "While the store is decorated, we do not have a book tree up this year. Do you have one? We want to see them!"

Ink@84 Books & Drink, London: "Wassail! We're celebrating our 2nd birthday this Thu Dec 7th with mulled wine & mince pies from 6-8pm to say huge thanks to all our lovely customers for their fantastic support. Stop by!"

Booka Bookshop, Oswestry, Shropshire: "A BIG BIG thank you to Emily Sutton for creating a fantastic #OneChristmasWish window display today--we love it!"

Gullivers Bookshop, Wimborne, Dorset: "We're open every Sunday until Christmas. Wimborne is lovely place to spend some time at this time of the year!"

Books A Plenty, Tauranga, New Zealand: "Mmm... smell that pine! Thanks Kaimai Christmas Trees."

And taking a chance that this counts under the unwritten Yuletide rules, here are a few seasonal bookshop chalkboard signs (The frames are made from trees, right?) to help set the mood:

Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill.: "To do: Make list, check 2x, find out who's naughty & nice." 

Ferguson Books & More, Grand Forks, N.D.: "It's beginning to BOOK a lot like Christmas."

Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.:‏ "Gifts for everyone on your list (even the grownups)."

Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio: "Dear Santa, How good must one be, exactly, to get ALL the books (asking for a friend.), the Bookstore Lady."

Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, S.D.: "Perfect! We needed just a dash of snow to set of our holiday decorations! #deckthehalls."

Maybe Frost's poem, which I hadn't read in a long time, will be my Christmas tree this year:

A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter.
I can't help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas. 

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

KidsBuzz: HarperCollins: Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff by Andrea Portes
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