Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 20, 2009
Quotation of the Day
Thames & Hudson: 60th Anniversary of 'Museum without Walls'
Walter Neurath and Eva Feuchtwang "met in London during the war, fell in love, and in 1949, 60 years ago, they pooled their passions, and set up a new art publishing imprint that would straddle the Atlantic. They named it Thames & Hudson, after the rivers of London and New York, and their aim was to publish reasonably priced books on art, sculpture and architecture, in which words and pictures were integrated and accessible to all. They wanted their books to educate, inform and entertain as a 'museum without walls.'"--Joanna Pitman in the London Times.
Notes: Presidential Handselling; Rizzoli Adds Languages
International handselling. Hours after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handed President Obama a copy of Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
by Eduardo Galeano (Monthly Review Press) Friday at the Summit of the
Americas, the English-language edition of the book "rocketed" from
60,280 to 14 on Amazon.com's list of top sellers, according to CNN. It was ranked second by Monday morning.
The Associated Press noted, however, that "an overcrowded presidential nightstand" might prevent Obama from reading the gift any time soon. The president's "advisers cited a long reading list and the fact he doesn't read Spanish as reasons the U.S. leader might not read the book."
Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th Street in New York City, which has long sold Italian-language books, is adding French and Spanish titles as of May 1 and German titles within a few months. The store will stock a range of such books, including contemporary fiction, classics, mysteries, poetry, nonfiction, biographies, children's books and authors in translation.
Marco Ausenda, CEO and president of Rizzoli, noted that the store "serves as a gathering place for the ex-pat community, and New Yorkers and visitors to New York who crave a taste of European culture. By expanding our selection to include books in French, Spanish, and German, we hope to appeal to an even wider group of readers, and to reinforce our niche as the international independent bookstore of New York."
Only a generation ago, on lower Fifth Avenue alone, there were bookstores devoted entirely to Russian, German and French and Spanish titles, among others. Later this year, the Librairie Francaise, which specializes in French titles and has been in Rockefeller Center since 1935, is closing because its rent is tripling (Shelf Awareness, January 4, 2009).
Ken Bowers, director of Stanford Bookstores, Stanford, Calif., since 2005, is retiring, effective in June. He plans to do some private consulting with schools seeking to improve their retail operations as well as volunteer work.
Before joining Stanford, which is managed by Follett Higher Education, Bowers was bookstore and licensing director at the University of California at Santa Barbara for 25 years. He is a past president of the National Association of College Stores, president of the NACS Foundation and a NACS board member.
Thomas A. Christopher, president of Follett Higher Education Group, said that Bowers "has been a tremendous resource to Follett, both in industry knowledge and as an officer of our core values."
APR's the Story host Dick Gordon discussed the bookstore business with Lanora Hurley, owner of the Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis, and Carol Grossmeyer, co-owner of the recently closed Harry W. Schwartz bookstores, one of which was reborn as the Next Chapter.
Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., is hosting a forum tonight to examine freedom of speech issues in the wake of the cancellation of events earlier this month with Bill Ayers. The Daily Herald reported that the controversial author and activist had been scheduled to speak at Naperville North High School as well as the bookstore, but both events were canceled because, "when the community learned of his impending appearances, some residents flooded Naperville Unit District 203 and Anderson's with angry phone calls and e-mails."
"We hope to accomplish that people, no matter how they felt about the issue, maybe we can have a civil discourse on this and realize freedom of speech not only in the country but in Naperville is very important," said Becky Anderson, co-owner of the bookstore. "We're not asking people to change their minds, but maybe understand each other better."
"As the economic downturn lingers, people are turning to used book stores--sellers as well as buyers," the San Jose Mercury News reported in its look at some area bookshops, noting that the evidence was region-wide:
- At Logos Books & Records in downtown Santa Cruz, music buyer Warner Williams has seen people bring in entire collections to sell.
- Bookshop Santa Cruz has seen a dramatic increase in people selling and a new preference for cash over store credit, according to owner Casey Coonerty Protti.
- In Aptos, Bookworks co-owner Traci Fishburn reports "dipping our toes" into the used book market, prompted by donations by longtime patrons after the shop downsized in fall 2007.
Town vs. gown? A recent exchange between student columnists on the opinion page of the Dartmouth focused on the operation of a local bookstore. Jacob Batchelor contended, "As each term draws to a close, many Dartmouth students experience the sickening realization that they have yet again fallen victim to the Wheelock Books buyback scam. Perhaps scam is the wrong word--we do willingly, albeit grudgingly, return our ridiculously expensive books for the slimmest fraction of the original price allowed by human dignity."
Subsequently, Kevin Niparko argued that "Wheelock Books is not the corporate, money-snatching monster Batchelor makes it out to be. Rather, the store is a business venture started by Dartmouth alums who are deeply invested in the community. Wheelock Books is run by six friendly locals who are willing to help a lost freshman navigate through piles of econ textbooks, even though the store is already flooded with customers. And, if you look on their web site, you can find a list of community projects and charities that they support.
"But we shouldn't condemn Wheelock Books just because we don't like their return policy. We as a college need the businesses of Hanover just as much as the businesses need our patronage. . . . Calling for the creation of a book-swap is essentially calling for the execution of Hanover's only independent bookstore, the only bookstore I've ever encountered that is so rooted in its community. Let's not preoccupy ourselves so much with our own economic situation that we disregard the local economy and the community that Hanover provides."
Borders Books was included among the "Twelve Brands That Will Disappear by End of 2010" by the website 24/7 Wall Street (via the Huffington Post).
Penguin Classics will release Vladimir Nabokov's The Original of Laura on November 3. The New York Times reported that author left instructions that this "final unfinished manuscript be destroyed, but his son, Dmitri, decided last year to defy his father’s wishes and publish it instead."
"It was quite emotional for Dimitri because it was a big decision to publish, which took him decades," said Alexis Kirschbaum, an editor at Penguin Classics. The Times added that in 2010, the publisher "plans to release a collection of Nabokov’s poems that have not previously appeared in English."
Ready for a little book magic? Take a peek at Martin Frost's website devoted to fore-edge painting, "where the page block is fanned and an image applied to the stepped surface. If the page edges are themselves gilded or marbled, this results in the image disappearing when the book is relaxed. When refanned, the painting magically re-appears." (Thanks to Thom Chambliss, executive director,
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, for this!)
Obituary Notes: J.G Ballard; James D. Houston
Novelist J.G. Ballard died Sunday. He was 78. The Guardian said that Ballard "has been a giant on the world literary scene for more than 50 years. Following his early novels of the 60s and 70s, his work then reached a wider audience with the publication of Empire of the Sun in 1984 which won several prizes and was made in to a film by Steven Spielberg. His acute and visionary observation of contemporary life was distilled into a number of brilliant, powerful novels which have been published all over the world and saw Ballard gain cult status."
Although his fiction explored a variety of topics, "the label of science fiction writer still stuck, much to Ballard's irritation," the Guardian observed, "partly as a way of 'defusing the threat. By calling a novel like Crash science fiction, you isolate the book and you don't think about what it is,' he explained. He kept the literary world at arm's length, and refused a CBE in 2003, pouring scorn on the honours system as a 'Ruritanian charade that helps to prop up our top-heavy monarchy.'"
James D. Houston, "who captured the promise, the harshness and the sheer beauty of California in novels like Continental Drift and Snow Mountain Passage and in nonfiction works like Farewell to Manzanar," died last Thursday, the New York Times reported. He was 75.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Perfectly Imperfect
This morning on Good Morning America: Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress (Random House, $25, 9781400067312/1400067316).
Also on GMA: Mario Batali, author of Spain . . . A Culinary Road Trip (Ecco, $34.95, 9780061560934/0061560936).
This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Steve Lopez, author of The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music (Berkley Trade, $15, 9781607512035/1607512033).
Also on Morning Edition: Alec Russell, author of Bring Me My Machine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma (PublicAffairs, $26.95, 9781586487386/1586487388).
This morning on the Today Show: Trisha Meili, author of I Am the Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility (Scribner, $15, 9780743244381/0743244389).
Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Monica Seles, author of Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self (Avery, $26, 9781583333303/1583333304). She will also appear today on Fox's Hannity Show and Good Morning America.
Today on Oprah: Dave Cullen, author of Columbine (Twelve, $26.99, 9780446546935/0446546933). He will also appear today on Talk of the Nation.
Today on CNBC's On the Money: Suzy Welch, author of 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea (Scribner, $24, 9781416591825/1416591826). She will also appear today on Fox's Hannity Show and the Charlie Rose Show.
Today on CNN's Glenn Beck: Brad O'Leary, author of Shut Up, America!: The End of Free Speech (WND Books, $25.95, 9781935071099/1935071092).
Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Reza Aslan, author of How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror (Random House, $26, 9781400066728/1400066727).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jean M. Twenge, author of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (Free Press, $26, 9781416575986/1416575987).
Tomorrow on the View:
- Quinn Bradlee, author of A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures (PublicAffairs, $24.95, 9781586481896/1586481894)
- Suzy Welch, author of 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea (Scribner, $24, 9781416591825/1416591826)
- Candy Spelling, author of Stories from Candyland (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312570705/0312570708)
Tomorrow on WETA's Book Studio: Chris Bohjalian, author of Skeletons at the Feast (Three Rivers Press, $14.95, 9780307394965/0307394964).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Emily Yellin, author of Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us: Customer Service and What It Reveals About Our World and Our Lives (Free Press, $26, 9781416546894/1416546898).
Also on Diane Rehm: George Soros, author of The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means (PublicAffairs, $22.95, 9781586486839/1586486837).
Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, author of This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President (Harper, $26.99, 9780061353475/0061353477). She will also appear today on the Today Show.
Movies: Never Let Me Go; Nice
Filming has begun on the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, directed by Mark Romanek from a script by Alex Garland, and starring Keira Knightley, Sally Hawkins, Carey Mulligan and Charlotte Rampling, according to the Guardian.
"From the moment I finished the novel it became my dream to film it," said Romanek. "Ishiguro's conception is so daring, so eerie, so beautiful."
Fox Searchlight acquired the screen rights to Nice by Jen Sacks. Variety reported that the novel, which was published in 1998, "will be developed as a potential star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon. Ben Queen will adapt the darkly humorous novel. Witherspoon will produce with Keri Selig, Gayla Nethercott and Jennifer Simpson."
Variety also noted that the dark comedy--about a magazine writer who accidentally kills her boyfriend and discovers that killing boyfriends is easier than breaking up with them--was originally acquired by Warner Bros. in 1999 "as a vehicle for Helen Hunt. The studio tried to lighten the tone and the project never quite came together. For Fox Searchlight's version, Queen will try to maintain the dark, edgy tone of the book."
Books & Authors
IndieBound: Other Indie FavoritesFrom last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (Viking, $26.95, 9780670020577/0670020575). "Will Bird, a Cree bush pilot, lies in a coma, and his niece Annie has come home to Northern Canada to be at his side. Through Annie's narration, the reader begins to understand the meaning of family bonds, even as Will's voice relates his own powerful story. Filled with wonderful characters and the strength and depth of understanding that exists between them--and written with grace and beauty--I found I just didn't want this story to end."--Sue Richardson, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, Me.
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown M.D., and Christopher Vaughan (Avery, $24.95, 9781583333334/1583333339). "Time to pull out your old Legos! According to Stuart Brown (founder of the National Institute for Play), playfulness is as essential to our individual development as to our evolution as a species. Peppered with anecdotes from the animal kingdom, this book is a delight."--April Nabholz, Grass Roots Books & Music, Corvallis, Ore.
Starvation Lake: A Mystery by Bryan Gruley (Touchstone, $14, 9781416563624/1416563628). "Small towns love their sports teams as much as they love taking swipes at their local newspaper, but they also love their secrets. A secret lies frozen at the bottom of Starvation Lake, and the ice is starting to melt. Dripping with atmosphere and pitch-perfect dialog, Gruley captures the heart and hardships of small-town life."--Matt Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.
For Ages 9 to 12
Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman (Square Fish, $7.99, 9780312535766/0312535767). "Set in 1960s Mississippi, this story of Alice Ann Moxley, newly arrived from Chicago when the FBI reassigns her father, is a great tale with a moral lesson that can be seen in everyday life."--Denise Evans, Pyramid Books, Boynton Beach, Fla.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
Book Review: My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy
My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz (Cleis Press, $14.95 Paperback, 9781573443159, April 2008)
It's her second attempt. She knows the routine. She's purchased the sperm box for $320 with her bank card. She's singing all the way to the clinic. Her partner of six years, unfortunately, has left her six months ago. Fine, she'll do it alone. Then one day it happens--on the pregnancy test stick, two hot pink lines. This is it.
There's nothing Andrea Askowitz wants more than to become a mother, and her no-holds-barred account of that journey, My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy, is the funniest memoir in years, not to mention so upbeat and heartwarming you want to give it to every woman friend you know, pregnant or not. Bursting with laugh-out-loud humor, enriched by the author's deeply touching vulnerability, Askowitz's book utterly belies its title--it has very little misery or loneliness in it. Andrea is surrounded by a delightful cast of big-hearted women who accompany her on her mission toward motherhood.
What a refreshing new voice! The humor is just salty enough, the language crisp, with a nice, honest bite. Askowitz has the expert timing of a stand-up comic but the honesty and sensitivity of a good Jewish girl who has dreamed her whole life of becoming a mother and is not going to let being a lesbian stand in her way. Her single-minded quest is so studded with revelatory, witty delights that the book is a page-turner simply because one funny scene follows right on the heels of another--her diary entries are energetic, bluntly honest and in their own whiny, bitchy way, dang near fearless.
From confronting her liberal but disapproving parents to facing the possibility that she could have two uteruses, her provocative diary entries leave you constantly wiping your eyes from laughter and tears. Accompanied by her hauntingly attractive ex-lover and her gloriously faithful, straight best friend, Askowitz bravely takes you along for the whole confusing, challenging ride of creating another human being, sharing it all with you right up to the minute-by-minute last contractions of the emotionally pitch-perfect ending.--Nick DiMartino
Shelf Talker: A hilarious and heartwarming memoir of a woman's challenging journey through a long-desired pregnancy.