Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, June 14, 2016


HarperCollins: Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

From My Shelf

W. W. Norton & Company: Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson

Algonquin Books: Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein

Bookstore Literary Tours

Many bookstores offer travel trips to regional literary sites, and a few have been making treks abroad. France, Italy and the U.K. are popular destinations, and even South Africa is on one store's itinerary.

Glenapp Castle, Scotland

Next week, Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan., which has earlier traveled to England and Italy, is embarking on its third summer Literary Tour. Accompanied by store co-owners Roger Doeren and Vivien Jennings, 14 book lovers will visit Scotland from June 19 through July 2. The group will see Eilean Donan Castle and Balmoral Castle, stay in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the "palatial" Glenapp Castle Hotel, and make excursions to literary destinations such as the home of poet Robert Burns and a four-night stay at Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel, where J.K. Rowling finished writing the Harry Potter series.

Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., which has had a formal travel program for about five years, is offering three larger group trips, two heading to Italy's Tuscan region in the fall and the third to South Africa in January, plus a program for smaller groups to visit Paris with more flexible itineraries.

South Africa in January

The trip to South Africa is scheduled for January 8-15 and includes cultural and historical sightseeing in Cape Town, a day at South African wineries, a cable car ride up Table Mountain, and visits to botanical gardens and nature reserves. Participants have the option of staying on an extra three days at a private game reserve in the countryside.

From September 22-26, BookPeople of Moscow, in Moscow, Idaho, is planning a writing workshop with author Kim Barnes (In the Kingdom of Men; A Country Called Home) and poet Robert Wrigley (Beautiful Country; Lives of the Animals) at Spannocchia, a working sustainable farm and historic estate in Tuscany. Barnes and Wrigley, who are husband and wife, will teach workshops in creative nonfiction and poetry. Bookpeople of Moscow co-owner Carol Spurling has been to Spannocchia and says, "It was even better than I hoped. The food was delicious, the people who work there and run its programs are wonderfully hospitable and their mission is so important."


Indiana University Press: What My Last Man Did by Andrea Lewis


Book Candy

Most Poetic Cities in the World

Infographic of the day: My Poetic Side explored its considerable data, gathered from more than 10,000 events and almost 250 poets in around 1,250 places, to create a chart of the "most poetic cities in the world."

---

"Traveler Tips: A trip to Winterfell would have been more pleasant before the War of the Five Kings." Tor paid tribute to George R.R. Martin, travel agent, with a list of the "best and worst vacation spots in A Song of Ice and Fire."

---

Public Books screened "15 great book-to-TV adaptations to watch this summer."

---

London design studio MinaLima, which "is behind all of the graphic art in the eight Harry Potter films," is offering wizards and muggles alike "an up-close look at their work in a brand new exhibition," Mental Floss reported.

---

Quirk Books featured "bookish jewelry: library edition."


The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves

by The Arbinger Institute

"United we stand, divided we fall." We've all heard this proverb, but how many of us understand how to create a unity of trusting collaborative synergistic relationships? The Outward Mindset from the Arbinger Institute explains how the most effective and lasting improvements in unifying any group are driven not by imposing behavioral changes, but by changing the mindset that drives people's behavior.

The Arbinger Institute is a global leadership consulting company founded in 1979 and based in Utah, with two acclaimed books (The Anatomy of Peace; Leadership and Self-Deception) on organizational and personal change. Unlike the Institute's previous works, which conveyed their ideas in fictional form, The Outward Mindset is a straightforward nonfiction work that illustrates its points with well-told case studies. These include a Kansas City SWAT team that earned the trust and support of its community, a successful debt-collection agency that helps debtors find jobs, a steel distributor, Ford Motor Company, an NBA team, an elementary schoolteacher, and individuals who have applied this approach in their personal relationships. The stories are absorbing, and the ideas are relatively simple; they may seem mostly obvious to some, completely counterintuitive to others.

Why do you like your favorite people, ask the authors? Because they make you feel heard and seen. You feel that you matter to them. When people feel this way, when they are not micromanaged but trusted to make decisions and plan their own work, they are more invested in their group, more helpful to each other, and more productive.

The key to achieving this is what the Arbinger Institute calls an "outward mindset." In this approach, individuals consider the needs of their group as a whole, and work to be responsive, helpful and collaborative, even with those they may have considered their antagonists. Rather than perceiving other people as mere objects--tools for achieving ends, obstacles, or irrelevant--they argue that to be most effective at work and in life, we should view all others as human beings. "Seeing people as people rather than as objects enables better thinking because such thinking is done in response to the truth: others really are people and not objects."

The opposite approach is an "inward mindset" in which people are blind to the needs of others and of their group, focusing only on their personal goals, an approach that wastes time and energy through misdirected efforts and lack of collaboration. Not caring about others often requires self-justification through demonizing them. An inward mindset can also make people less assertive than they need to be. "Wanting others to think well of them (a common inward-mindset motivation), people often indulge, pacify, or placate others when direct actions would be more helpful." They also describe what they call an "Outwardly Nice Inward-Mindset Style": people who feel as if they do good things for others all the time and experience themselves as being outwardly facing, while never considering what others truly need and want from them.

Attempts to change behaviors without addressing the underlying mindsets are likely to fail. "When people see situations that need to change, the temptation is to immediately apply a behavioral solution. That seems like the fast approach. But if mindset is not addressed, it is usually the slow approach to change." They point to research by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company that said those "who attempt to effect change by concentrating on changing mindsets are four times more likely to succeed than those who focus only on changing behavior."

The Arbinger Institute asserts that the role of leaders is to empower others to plan and carry out their own work. They should examine how any special privileges they enjoy are dividing them from their co-workers, and make transparency and truth-telling safe for employees so that they can come forward with their difficulties and collaborate on solutions. The Institute also recommends the elimination of inflexible forms of measuring success that may drive people toward an inward focus out of self-defense. They provide guidelines for implementing their ideas regardless of one's position in a given group or organization, and discuss the challenge of responding with an outward mindset to people driven by an inward one. They emphasize the importance of not waiting for others to make the first move, but to focus on what one can do to change oneself. Even so, they say, "without a guiding result that requires all employees to pull together on behalf of others, outward-mindset cultures are difficult to sustain." The full commitment of leadership is required to transform an organization, and "those who persist with an inward mindset ultimately won't be able to stay with such an organization because their staying would not be helpful to them, the organization or their customers." No matter what their situation, any reader is likely to find in The Outward Mindset an inspiring guide to creating organizations and personal relationships that are greater than the sum of their parts. --Sara Catterall

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $16.95, paperback, 9781626567153

James Ferrell: Seeing Beyond Ourselves

James Ferrell is co-founder and managing partner of the Arbinger Institute and its training and consulting arm, Arbinger Training and Consulting. He has authored or co-authored multiple bestselling books, including the Institute's Leadership and Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace and the forthcoming The Outward Mindset (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, June 13, 2016).

How was the Arbinger Institute was founded? What was (and has been) the basis for its ideas? How has it evolved?

The Arbinger Institute was founded by a scholar, Professor Terry Warner, who studied what is known as the self-deception paradox [when self-deceivers intentionally convince themselves to hold a belief they know to be false]. He and a team of scholars worked on the self-deception problem throughout the 1970s. In 1979 Terry created a corporate entity called Arbinger in order to handle an opportunity to help a particular company, Tubular Steel in St. Louis, Mo. The impact of that engagement on the company, which we write about in chapter 10 of The Outward Mindset, was profound. Terry continued his scholarly work, including an important period as a visiting scholar at Oxford University.

In the early 1990s, another company (a large telecom called U.S. West--now known as XFINITY) approached Terry about helping them. From that experience Terry began shifting his focus away from purely academic exploration to practical applications for people and organizations.

At this point he got in contact with three of his former students to see if they would be interested in joining him to build an organization that delivers these ideas to the world. I was one of these three students. I was practicing law at a large law firm in California but left to join Terry and the other two partners to build what is known today as the Arbinger Institute.

We spent the last half of the 1990s making the scholarly work around the solution to the self-deception problem more accessible, and honing the abilities of our people to effectively help people and organizations to transform their approaches.

Our first book, Leadership and Self-Deception, published in 2000, became a significant and ongoing bestseller with over 1.5 million copies sold to date, both accelerating our work with organizations and pulling us around the globe. Our second book, The Anatomy of Peace, published in 2006 with over 500,000 copies sold, boosted our growth further.

How would you say this new book differs from your previous ones?

This third book adds to our prior books in two very significant ways. First, over the years since our prior books, we have learned that the most effective way to help people avoid the problems associated with self-deception is to help people shift from what we call an inward-mindset orientation to an outward-mindset orientation. The Outward Mindset details how to make this shift. Secondly, whereas the first two books focus on how to resolve the problem of self-deception at the individual level, The Outward Mindset details how to help other people shift from inward to outward mindsets and how to shift the prevailing mindsets of teams, groups, and entire organizations.

When I've tried to describe this book to people, I've been struck by how the nearly universal first response has been that an outward mindset would be a naive and vulnerable approach--that if they habitually concern themselves with understanding others and looking for ways to be helpful to them, they will become doormats and victims, particularly when faced with aggressively self-centered individuals.

An outward mindset doesn't make one naive or stupid; it simply makes one aware. Having one's head down, narrowly focusing on oneself, is what puts people at risk. You might think of the way people use their mobile phones in public as a metaphor for this. Terrorism experts say that one of the best things people could do to keep themselves safer would be to put away their phones while they are in public and stay aware of what is happening around them. Having one's attention focused on one's phone is, metaphorically, what an inward mindset is like, while staying aware of one's surroundings is, metaphorically, what an outward mindset is like.

An outward mindset does not sublimate one's own wishes or objectives to those of others, it simply contextualizes one's own wishes and objectives within the other-filled reality that is a person's life. All of us are people surrounded by other people. An outward mindset keeps us clear about this. An inward mindset, on the other hand, closes me off from the equal humanity of those I work and live with, and the negative consequences that come from this kind of inward focus are severe.

Although it is true when I have an outward mindset that I am alive to and aware of others' objectives, I can still disagree with those objectives, even vigorously. For example, in an extreme case, someone might have an objective to kill or injure me. Having an outward mindset doesn't mean that I must therefore help them to do that. On the contrary--when my mindset is outward, I am best positioned to avoid harm to myself precisely because I am more aware of what others are up to. A person whose mindset is inward is too preoccupied with his or her own objectives to fully grasp what others might be trying to do. This is why we count among our clients the Navy SEALs, law enforcement officers and large segments of the military--their very lives depend on having and maintaining an outward mindset.

In addition to its impact on personal safety, one's effectiveness also depends on maintaining an outward mindset, for two main reasons. The first is that an inward mindset in one person provokes unnecessary resistance in others. Just think of how you may feel motivated to respond when you encounter someone you feel is just out for themselves. By contrast, an outward mindset greatly reduces resistance. A second reason is best illuminated in an organizational context: When my mindset is outward at work, I am focused on helping the organization to achieve its overall collective goals--after all, this is what I am being paid to do. Part of doing this is doing my work in a way that helps my work colleagues also to achieve their work-related objectives. I can do this only if I am alive to and aware of the objectives of my colleagues. So within organizations, a company's ability to achieve its collective results depends on its people both achieving the results they each are responsible for achieving and doing so in ways that help their colleagues to do the same.

One of the things that excites me the most about our work is the degree to which it is helpful in the most difficult of situations--when others are being difficult, seem out to get me or may even be dangerous. This is one of the reasons we start the book with the experience and results of a SWAT team engaging with an outward mindset. The completely natural response in situations like those encountered by SWAT teams is to respond with an inward mindset, because it seems that one would be hurt or disadvantaged if one doesn't. As that story illustrates, however, the reality is just the opposite: an inward mindset actually escalates problems and dramatically increases the likelihood of harm--personal and organizational--while an outward mindset positions one to see with clarity and to act with wisdom given the circumstances. It may seem counterintuitive at first, which is evidence of how fully people remain trapped within inward mindset assumptions. However, throughout the book we look at many real-life situations, many of them quite challenging, and show how various people and organizations have been tremendously helped by shifting to an outward mindset approach. --Sara Catterall


Shelf vetted, publisher supported.


Great Reads

Rediscover: Big Russ and Me

For 16 years, Tim Russert was the moderator of NBC's Meet the Press, the longest tenure in the show's 69-year history. He was a senior vice-president and Washington bureau chief for NBC News, hosted a CNBC/MSNBC talk show, was a correspondent on other NBC programs and did special reports during the 2008 presidential election. That same year, Time magazine named Russert one of its 100 most influential people in the world. 2008 was also the year Russert died of a heart attack while preparing an episode of Meet the Press at NBC's Washington, D.C., office. He was 58.

Russert was the son of a World War II veteran, nicknamed Big Russ, who worked two jobs throughout Russert's childhood in Buffalo, N.Y. In 2004, Russert wrote Big Russ and Me, Father and Son: Lessons of Life (Miramax Books), a mix of autobiography and tribute to the paternal teachings Russert credited with his professional success. Russert received 60,000 letters in response to the book. In 2006, he shared these stories in Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons (Random House), which rose to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Luke Russert, Tim's son, was a recent graduate of Boston College when his father died. Luke has gone on to establish his own journalism career and, for the 10th-anniversary edition of Big Russ and Me (Weinstein Books, $15.99, 9781602862623), contributed a lengthy introduction about the legacy of his father and the values passed on from his grandfather, all fitting lessons for this coming Father's Day. --Tobias Mutter


Titan Books: Relics by Tim Lebbon


Book Review

Fiction

Vinegar Girl

by Anne Tyler


Vinegar Girl is the third in Hogarth Shakespeare's line of retold classics by the Bard (The Gap of TimeShylock Is My Name). Anne Tyler's delightful, clever novelization sets The Taming of the Shrew in present-day Baltimore, Md., holding faithfully to Shakespeare's plot and concept but presenting far more complex characters, with absolutely charming results.

Kate is 29 and lives with her absent-minded microbiologist father, Dr. Battista, and her younger sister. She serves as housekeeper and chaperone, not that they appreciate her efforts. Her real passion is gardening. As Vinegar Girl opens, Dr. Battista faces a problem: his gifted foreign assistant, Pyotr Cherbakov, is in the U.S. on an extraordinary-ability visa that's about to run out. Dr. Battista feels sure he's on the verge of a breakthrough, but he needs Pyotr to be able to stay a little longer. The reader realizes well ahead of Kate that what her father has in mind is an arranged marriage. The prickly Kate feels she's been taken advantage of long enough; she finds Pyotr pushy, and she isn't looking for a husband, anyway.

Vinegar Girl's modern setting and language enliven a classic tale of controversy and gender politics. The novelistic form illuminates the inner workings of Shakespeare's characters, revealing attractive nuances. Readers unfamiliar with The Taming of the Shrew will have no problem enjoying this novel, which is funny, fun loving and uplifting. Those who know the original well will be intrigued by Tyler's riffs. In either case, the surprising ending, which deviates from Shakespeare's in important ways, makes for a heartwarming conclusion to a quirky, timeless tale. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Anne Tyler reinterprets The Taming of the Shrew in a modern, pleasingly nuanced novel.

Hogarth Shakespeare, $25, hardcover, 9780804141260

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat


Walking the Dog

by Elizabeth Swados


"The freedom is exhilarating. The disappearance of gates is terrifying." In Walking the Dog by composer, writer and director Elizabeth Swados (My Depression), Carleen Kepper is out on parole from a life sentence she received at age 18. She is now 43, with a dog-walking job in downtown Manhattan.

Before prison, Carleen was Ester Rosenthal, a celebrated multimillionaire artistic prodigy and a spoiled uptown drug addict with a love of theft that escalated to a deadly gang heist of a jeweler's truck. The merciless violence of prison exacerbated her mental illness, and a conjugal visit with her ex-husband resulted in a daughter she doesn't know. While in prison, she was forced to make art for others but eventually found a new calling as a gifted dog trainer. "I stayed in the motion of dogs, and I found a permanent boundary between my hellish impulses and what was good for animals." With the help of a glamorous Hebrew tutor, Carleen begins to connect with her mistrustful 11-year-old daughter, both of them lurching between curiosity and revulsion. Clients attempt to befriend her, an old artist friend insists on reconnecting, and she begins to piece together a new life.

Swados is an eloquent, unsentimental writer with a dry, black sense of humor. She has a sharp eye for human and canine character and an excellent sense of dramatic pacing, moving between Carleen's present and past, developing her relationships, unfolding her memories and delusions, exposing deeply layered emotions. This is a rich, complex novel and may be one of the best of the year. --Sara Catterall

Discover: A 43-year-old artist on parole from a life sentence remembers her past and fights her demons while working as a dog walker in downtown Manhattan.

Feminist Press, $17.95, paperback, 9781558619210

Yearling Books: Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar


The Space Between Sisters

by Mary McNear


Poppy and Winona both loved the golden summers they spent with their grandparents at Butternut Lake when they were kids. But that's about all the two sisters have in common these days. Free spirit Poppy, who's never had a serious job or a stable relationship, suddenly shows up at Win's door one night with a strange man in tow. Uptight Win, who has become a bit of a recluse since her husband passed away and she inherited her grandparents' cottage, is annoyed, but can't turn her sister away.

Over the next few weeks, Win and Poppy will learn some surprising and occasionally shocking truths about each other, as the gentle pace and kind people of Butternut Lake weave their magic again. Along the way, each of them encounters a chance to find love, if they can be brave enough to grasp it and to forget the tragedies of the past.

Mary McNear (Up at Butternut Lake, Butternut Summer) has mastered the art of the quiet romance. With funny characters, a charming Minnesotan setting and a pleasantly predictable plot, The Space Between Sisters will appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah or Susan Wiggs. Those familiar with McNear's Butternut Lake trilogy are sure to be happy revisiting the town's memorable faces and places.

Readers looking forward to making some summer reading memories of their own, or eager to reminisce about the golden summers of their youth, need look no further than The Space Between Sisters. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: Two sisters fall in love during a beautiful summer at Butternut Lake, Minn.

Morrow, $15.99, paperback, 9780062399359

HarperCollins: Curiosity House: The Fearsome Firebird (Curiosity House #3) by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester


Mystery & Thriller

Charcoal Joe

by Walter Mosley


After 13 Easy Rawlins mysteries (most recently Rose Gold), Walter Mosley has honed his many characters to a crisp edge. A well-read African American with a taste for jazz and fine clothes, Easy moves just as comfortably in the offices and restaurants of West L.A. as he does in the barbershops and bars of Watts. When useful, he consults with both Ju-Ju seers and high-ranking police friends. As he describes himself, "I'm 90 percent pragmatist and the rest superstition." He also carries a gun.

Charcoal Joe features many of Easy's broad swath of friends, including Raymond "Mouse" Alexander ("one of the most dangerous men alive"); his right hand, Fearless Jones; industry executive Jackson Blue; and LAPD's Melvin Suggs. Mouse asks Easy to take a case helping notoriously powerful criminal Rufus "Charcoal Joe" Tyler. Easy owes Mouse and takes the case even though a bartender friend warns him off: "[Joe] don't play according to our rules.... If you after him--stop. If he want somethin' from you then give it up and move on." Bartenders are rarely wrong. Before long, Easy's persistent digging leads him to mob hitmen, money-laundering schemes and a string of corpses across the sprawl of Los Angeles. More insidious are the racial roadblocks put in his way by low-rent diner servers, high-rise security guards and belligerent traffic cops. He hates it but understands where the prejudice comes from: "I was a black man in a brown suit asking directions that would take me into the middle of a white neighborhood." Charcoal Joe is another winner in Mosley's long string of Easy Rawlins triumphs. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: In Walter Mosley's 14th Easy Rawlins mystery, his dogged detective fights crime lords, hired thugs and ever-present racism to solve a murder case in 1968 Los Angeles.

Doubleday, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385539203

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Greatest Story Ever Told--So Far: Why Are We Here? by Lawrence M. Krauss 03.21.17


Science Fiction & Fantasy

League of Dragons

by Naomi Novik


In the ninth and final volume of the Temeraire series, Naomi Novik (Blood of Tyrants) gives a satisfactory sendoff to one of the most thrilling and immersive fantasy series on today's shelves.

Honorable Captain Will Lawrence of the British Aerial Corps and his Celestial dragon Temeraire have come to the end of a long road. After their defeat of Napoleon in Russia, both the French and Allied forces suffered grave losses in the bitter winter. Both sides scramble for a weapon or alliance that could end the war once and for all. Temeraire and Lawrence learn Napoleon has stolen a priceless object from their friend, the Crown Prince of China--an egg that holds the offspring of Temeraire and the fire-breather Izkierka. However, the heroes will find rescuing an egg from French clutches child's play compared to facing a young dragon with shifting loyalties, other British aviators' continued hatred for them after their noble but treasonous actions in Empire of Ivory, and Napoleon's most dangerous gambit yet, a concord that could change the face of the dragon/human power balance across Europe.

Novik packs in plenty of what made this series a hit in the first place, particularly acutely imagined battle scenes, high-stakes decisions and snappy dialogue from those delightful dragons, who have as much or more intelligence as humans, coupled with the innocent self-interest of the average cat. Newcomers should begin with His Majesty's Dragon, while fans will take the slightly open ending of League of Dragons as hope Temeraire may fly again someday. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: League of Dragons is a thrilling swan song for Novik's draconic alternate history of the Napoleonic wars--provided you've read the preceding eight books.

Del Rey, $28, hardcover, 9780345522924

Biography & Memoir

I'm Just a Person

by Tig Notaro


Stand-up comedian, writer and actress Tig Notaro's slim, harrowing and unashamedly emotional memoir, I'm Just a Person, focuses on a series of devastating blows she was dealt over a four-month period in 2012--beginning when she was hospitalized with clostridium difficile colitis (C. diff), a bacterial infection that is often fatal. Days after leaving the hospital, Notaro discovered her mother had fallen, hit her head and was now in a coma, being kept alive just long enough until she and her brother could fly home. A few weeks after the funeral, Notaro was diagnosed with invasive stage II breast cancer and told she needed a double mastectomy.

Nine days after her diagnosis, Notaro (who's appeared on Inside Amy Schumer and Transparent) was back on stage at a comedy club. Instead of doing her familiar material, she decided to talk about her cancer. Fearing it could be her last stand-up, she asked a friend to record it. The next morning, she was trending on Twitter and Rolling Stone magazine wanted to interview her. Comedian Louis C.K. convinced her to sell audio downloads of her show on his popular website. It earned her a Grammy nomination. "I certainly never imagined that success would arrive in tandem with stress, mourning, and a deadly disease," she writes.

Artist Tony Achilles provides excellent illustrations throughout the book, but there are few laughs in Notaro's memoir about grief, mortality and unexpected success. Her writing, however, is so concise, thoughtful and revealing, readers won't miss them any more than they did in Steve Martin's Born Standing Up or Joan Rivers's Enter Talking. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Comedian Tig Notaro delivers an observant and emotional memoir of the year she battled profound grief and a stage II cancer diagnosis at the same time her career skyrocketed.

Ecco, $26.99, hardcover, 9780062266637

History

The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire

by Karl Jacoby


A history book hits home when it offers judicious research and clear writing, along with a focus on events and people that reflects their own times and resonates in ours. Columbia University social historian Karl Jacoby (Shadows at Dawn) touches all the bases in The Strange Career of William Ellis. Born in 1864 near the end of the Civil War, Ellis was a light-skinned African American slave on a cotton plantation in the small southern Texas town of Victoria. He grew up bilingual in an area where property-owning Mexicans were more accepted than recently emancipated slaves. As an ambitious freedman, Ellis left the fields to work for a small trading company brokering cotton and leather across the Mexican border. He then moved to San Antonio, changed his name to Guillermo Enrique Eliseo, and set up his own business.

Still reeling from war, and absorbing free blacks after slavery's demise, both Mexico and the United States were on the cusp of the Gilded Age when the smooth-talking Ellis parlayed his ambiguous racial and national identity into enough wealth to move to New York to found what would later be recognized as the first African American brokerage on Wall Street. With his "carefully waxed mustache, impeccable tailoring, ostentatious jewelry, and lavish distributions of Cuban cigars and Mexican leatherwork," he could play an aristocratic Mexican, Cuban, African, even Hawaiian as needed to close a lucrative deal. In Ellis's story, Jacoby has found the perfect manifestation of that point in American history when race, language and class evolved to become the complicated issues with which we still struggle today. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Karl Jacoby tells the amazing story of a man born a slave in Texas, who becomes a millionaire businessman in Mexico--where he blends in as Mexican--and then sets up the first African-American brokerage on Wall Street.

W.W. Norton, $27.95, hardcover, 9780393239256

Political Science

The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine

by Ben Ehrenreich


Ben Ehrenreich's The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine is a work of journalism written with the lyrical passion of a novelist. For his first nonfiction book, Ehrenreich (The Suitors) spent three years embedded with Palestinian families living in the West Bank. "I do not aspire in these pages to objectivity," he writes, instead invoking "something more modest than objectivity, which is truth." The Way to the Spring is unapologetically on the side of the Palestinian people, marshalling facts, history, anecdote and personal experience in order to persuade the reader to the author's point of view. That does not mean, however, that Ehrenreich's book is interested only in proving rhetorical points. The Way to the Spring functions primarily as an extraordinary love letter to a people that persist.

Ehrenreich has a good eye for the absurdities that emerge under occupation. In one example, he depicts a Palestinian house that was in the path of a wall being built between Israeli and Palestinian sectors. The owner refused to move, and Israeli authorities responded by building both the wall and fencing that left the family "caged in and cut off from the rest of the village."

We get only a peek into the settlers' worldview, however, because Ehrenreich's goal is not objectivity and he doesn't attempt to give anything like equal time. Instead, he analyzes the current situation as seen through Palestinian eyes: the complicated history that leads to the current moment, the hidden mechanisms of subjugation and the vast reserves of hope and bravery that insure the Palestinian people will continue marching to the spring. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Discover: The Way to the Spring, a work of embedded reporting, documents Palestinian suffering and resistance in the occupied West Bank.

Penguin Press, $28, hardcover, 9781594205903

Psychology & Self-Help

Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness

by Lee Gutkind, editor


"In any given year, more than 50 million people in this country [the U.S.] have a diagnosable mental illness, and 15 percent of those can be considered seriously mentally ill," writes Lee Gutkind in his introduction. In Show Me All Your Scars, 20 people dealing with mental illness as well as the stigmas, the fears and isolation that go along with such a diagnosis tell their stories. The diseases run the gamut from suicidal depression to bipolar disorder, PTSD and psychosis.

These 20 essays feature vibrant writing that plunges readers deep into the world of the mentally ill. They are not easy to read--descriptions of attempted and successful suicides, of neglect, of cutting of arms and thighs and other compulsive behaviors--yet they are important. Gutkind writes, "I believe that one of the most important tools we have for combating stigma--by making it clear that mental health difficulties are not so unusual, and by fostering empathy and understanding and helping people appreciate others' experiences more fully and compassionately--is telling true stories." These stories place a spotlight on the emotional and physical battles millions with diagnosed mental illness face on a daily basis, allowing readers to gain deeper understanding and empathy about this commonly taboo subject. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Twenty personal essays highlight what it means to live with mental illness.

In Fact Books, $15.95, paperback, 9781937163259

Travel Literature

The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World

by Steve Hely


When television writer (30 Rock, The Office) and novelist (How I Became a Famous Novelist) Steve Hely decided to leave Los Angeles to "go south," he didn't mean San Diego or even Cabo. No, this footloose funny guy, who had already circled the globe to write The Ridiculous Race, decided to go all the way south--down through Mexico along the Pacific coast of South America to "the bottom of the Western Hemisphere." With marginal Spanish-language skills ("Immersion is the best way to learn anyway"), Hely flew to Mexico City, spent three days walking in the giant metropolis, flew to Oaxaca to look at Mayan ruins and the "world's widest tree," and that was that for Mexico. His first steps into Central America, however, launched him into the meat of his journey and the serendipitous travel diary he calls The Wonder Trail.

Hely introduces readers to both locals and fellow travelers (like the four Australian vagabonds who take him in as they toot and drink their way across Colombia). He narrates archeological hikes, a boat ride down the Panama Canal, rickety bus travel on precarious mountain switchbacks, surfing the El Salvador coast, sailing to Galápagos, climbing up Machu Picchu and more. While he drops in many historical asides, cocktail napkin maps and background cultural context, there is no attraction here that can't be found in his trusty Lonely Planet guides. Instead, The Wonder Trail is a captivating road trip tale as much about Hely as about the road--even though, at 35, he admits he is on the raggedy edge of being too old for this stuff. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Funny man Steve Hely's travelogue tracks his good-time journey down the Pacific coast of Latin America with enough history and culture to give it heft.

Dutton, $27, hardcover, 9780525955016

Children's & Young Adult

Painting Pepette

by Linda Ravin Lodding, illus. by Claire Fletcher


"Josette Bobette and her rabbit, Pepette, lived at #9 Rue Laffette, Paris." So begins Painting Pepette, the irresistible story of a girl who is so attached to her stuffed rabbit she's convinced her portrait deserves a spot in the family gallery along with "grand-mère and grand-père."

She takes Pepette to Montmartre, to the famous Parisian square "where the best artists in Paris painted." A man who is Picasso (identified inside the front cover and in the author's note but not in the story itself) spots her beloved rabbit and exclaims, "THOSE EARS!" Amusingly, he proceeds to paint Pepette with two noses and three ears. The three-eared portrait is hilarious... and not to Josette's taste at all... "And Pepette had to agree." A man with a bicycle-handlebar moustache stops to gaze at Pepette: "Please, I must paint the very essence of her rabbitness!" This is Dali. His portrait of the rabbit shows her draped bonelessly over a block, and is too "droopy" for Josette... "And Pepette had to agree." Chagall paints a flying-cloud rabbit (but Pepette is scared of heights!) and Matisse makes her too... pink. In the end, Josette knows just what she needs to do to capture her rabbit's "wonderfulness," her soft gray, listening ears and heart-shaped nose. She has to paint the portrait herself: "And Pepette had to agree."

Claire Fletcher's comical, endearing pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations have a shimmering-melting quality that enchantingly enhances Linda Ravin Lodding's deliciously told story, a brilliantly accessible take on the nature of artistic interpretation. As Matisse tells Josette, "But through art we can see the world any way we want." Not to be missed. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A Parisian girl wants a portrait of her rabbit, so she heads to Montmartre to find the right artist to paint it.

Little Bee Books, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781499801361

Every Single Second

by Tricia Springstubb, illus. by Diana Sudyka


Tricia Springstubb (What Happened on Fox Street; Moonpenny Island) has written a philosophical, often poetic, remarkably spot-on novel about universalities--growing up, family, friendship, honesty, faith, death, time and race--set in the context of the big, important preteen years of a present-day Italian American "skyscraper of a girl," 12-year-old Nella Sabatini.

Until a few years ago, life in Nella's Little Italy neighborhood strolled along steadily: the "Sacred Scent of Doughnuts" from Franny's shop; the familiar cemetery where her dad works; her Catholic school; the clamor of "the barbarians," aka her endless supply of younger brothers; her best-friendship with "secret sister" Angela DeMarco; and her quiet worship of Angela's older brother Anthony. It's third grade when Nella starts questioning everything, especially about right and wrong, good and evil. Can those who do bad things still be good people? Nella's questions about Angela's scary, angry, PTSD-stricken dad take on broader relevance as the girls grow, and grow apart. When Anthony is arrested for killing a black man, Nella's questions about judgment and redemption come even faster and more furious.

Springstubb alternates chapters identified as "now," "then" and a few variations on "What Jeptha A. Stone Would Say if He Could," the latter being the silent orations of a long-dead man in the neighborhood cemetery who watches over all in a blustery, self-righteous and ultimately lovable manner. Nella is authentic as a child who is emerging from her own age of innocence into a world of almost unbearable complexity and ambiguity. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: In Tricia Springstubb's philosophical coming-of-age novel, 12-year-old Nella Sabatini grapples with shifting relationships and life's biggest questions.

Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, $16.99, hardcover, 368p., ages 10-13, 9780062366283

--- SPECIAL ADVERTORIAL OFFERINGS ---

Kids Buzz

Star-Crossed

by Barbara Dee

Dear Reader,

Here's Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted) on STAR-CROSSED: "Star-Crossed delighted me! Barbara Dee has a light touch and a pitch-perfect middle school voice." And Donna Gephart (Lily and Dunkin): "Star-Crossed takes...Romeo and Juliet and transforms (it) perfectly to the middle school stage."

STAR-CROSSED is a gentle comedy about a girl crushing on the girl playing Juliet.  Kirkus Reviews calls STAR-CROSSED "a sweet story of young love amid middle school theatrics."

Email Barbara@BarbaraDeeBooks.com to enter to win a free copy!

Happy reading!

Barbara Dee

 

Buy this book

KidsBuzz: Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

PUBLISHER: Aladdin

PUB DATE: March 14, 2017

AGE RANGE: 9 to 13

TYPE OF BOOK: Middle Grade Fiction

ISBN: 9781481478489

PRICE: $16.99

 

Powered by: Xtenit