Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 9, 2009

Harper: Black Girls Must Have It All (Black Girls Must Die Exhausted) by Jayne Allen

Berkley Books: Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler

Berkley Books: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Quotation of the Day

'Doing the Same Thing'

"What keeps us going is doing the same thing--having books that we think people in this kind of market are interested in, having books that we are enthusiastic about and books that we can recommend to readers with a genuine sense of enthusiasm. We feel like we will continue to have a relationship with customers built on trust."--Richard Howorth, co-owner of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., in a Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal story (via


Arcade Publishing: A Mysterious Country: The Grace and Fragility of American Democracy by Normal Mailer, edited by Michael J. Lennon and John Buffalo Mailer


Notes: Nook Cornered; 'Schwartz Kids' Fighting

Demand for Barnes & Noble's Nook is so great that people ordering the $259 e-reader now won't receive it until after December 11, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Demand for the product in our stores and online has surpassed our expectations," Mary Ellen Keating, a B&N spokeswoman, said.

Customers who had ordered the Nook in October have been told their orders will ship November 30. A second wave of customers were told their orders will ship December 7.

A la Amazon and its Kindle, B&N has declined to release unit sales figures.


The opening of Open Book bookstore in a former Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Shorewood, Wis., over the weekend has caused some conflict with the two former Schwartz staffers who have already opened stores in former Schwartz locations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

As Lanora Hurley, owner of Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis., put it: "It's like we've been through a bad divorce, and the kids are all fighting. It's heartbreaking."

She and Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, have said the new store is improperly targeting their customers. There are also questions about whether Open Book, which is managed by former Schwartz staffer Lisa Zupke, has improperly called itself a cooperative--it's acutally an LLC--and whether there is a conflict in the store having received a $35,000 low-interest loan from the village of Shorewood, which employs as a part-time consultant the chair of Open Book.


CBS's 60 Minutes had to redo part of its segment last night on Andre Agassi, whose memoir, Open: An Autobiography, is being published today by Knopf, the New York Times reported. The cause: a leak on Sports Illustrated's website noting that Agassi revealed in the book that he used crystal meth. Originally Katie Couric had not asked Agassi about crystal meth, which led her to take a trip late last week back to Las Vegas, Nev., Agassi's home, to retape part of the interview.


Cool non-book video of the day: John Nese, owner of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, Calif., talks with passion about his store, which stocks only independent-made sodas, now about 500. Take a sip of his inspiring story here. (Thanks to Mark Kaufman of Paz & Associates!)


Publisher website of the day: Just in time for the runup to the third Quirk Classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, Quirk has launched


Congratulations to Gene Ambaum, half of the team, who has quit his day job as a librarian to devote himself fulltime to "Unshelved, writing projects and other things that are important to me," as he put it on the website.


Delaware is the latest state to be heard from as independent booksellers react to the book pricing wars. The News Journal called indies "one group of business owners that seems to be either incredibly resourceful, incredibly resilient or incredibly unlucky--or all three."

"Every once in a while things go haywire, and make no sense whatsoever," said Jack Buckley, owner of Ninth Street Book Shop, Wilmington.

Between Books, Claymont, "has survived for 30 years by keeping a tight focus on sci-fi, fantasy and graphic titles, building a reputation among the cognoscenti as a place to find the hard-to-find and a place to see what's hard to see," the News Journal wrote.

"We do a lot of signings," said owner Greg Schauer. "Just anything to get people into the store.... A good bookstore should be a community center. We kind of have the feel of the old-timey bookstores where people come in and hang out, discuss."

Rebecca Dowling of Hockessin Book Shelf has joined forces with Mark Eastman, owner of the Chef's Haven gourmet store "to offer customers an added attraction of sorts--in the 'Eat Drink Read' program, a cookbook purchase gives customers an opportunity to learn recipes from it at Eastman's nearby shop," according to the News Journal.


Independent booksellers "are filling niches and emphasizing service as they fight to stay in business," the Miami Herald wrote in its examination of local indies as the Miami Book Fair International kicked off its annual celebration over the weekend.

Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach, specializes in autographed editions by Florida authors. "It's a very, very narrow niche, but we are the experts in it,'' said manager Joanne Sinchuk, who noted that a third of her business comes form online sales of these titles.

For the Downtown Book Center, Miami, the "wholesaling of Spanish-language books has come to account for three-quarters of [Raquel] Roque's business. Clients range from small shops in Little Havana to Barnes & Noble and Amazon," according to the Herald.

At Chosen Gift & Bookstore, Kendall, sidelines have gradually overtaken Jewish-interest books, said owner Molly Ben-Chetrit, adding that the "books she does sell are hard to find and are largely in Spanish."

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books stores in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands, told the Herald "the key to success for independent bookstores is showing customers that value isn't all about discounts. His stores hold 700 to 1,000 author appearances and other events per year. His staff members know their business and can offer recommendations to match customer tastes. These features make independent shops more than just a business, Kaplan said. It makes them a cultural resource for the communities they serve."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

The Rise of the Texas Reading Rock Stars

The "Keep Austin Weird" movement in Texas may have been at the forefront of the nationwide "Shop Local" campaign, but now another Austin-based initiative could well be a blueprint from which other states can benefit: the Reading Rock Stars program.

Launched 10 years ago as "Author! Author!," the program began in conjunction with the Texas Book Festival in Austin to bring children's book creators to underserved schools in the area. "We had all these authors coming into town for the festival that we could also invite into the schools," said Blair Newberry, director of outreach for the Texas Book Festival, which was held October 31-November 1. "A few years ago, we changed the name to Reading Rock Stars--that's what authors are to the kids."

The authors read to the children, then sign copies of their books, which are donated by local foundations such as One Sky, ECG, the Meadows and Wright Family Foundations, as well as corporate sponsors like HEB (a grocery chain) and Scholastic, which has donated the books for its featured authors. More than 100 authors have participated so far, and books have been given to more than 25,000 students. For some of them, it's the first book they've ever owned.

Jon Scieszka, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, participated this year and was so impressed that he has offered to be a spokesman for Reading Rock Stars. "We had spent most of the day at the school and stopped into a couple of classrooms to say, 'Hi,'" said Scieszka, who was visiting Joslin Elementary School with author Mac Barnett. "We saw a line of kindergartners going to lunch, and three or four of them were still holding their books! They still couldn't believe it was theirs, like they thought it might get lost or end up in the library. That's the piece that's been shown in a lot of research--what really makes a difference is for kids to have their own books."

Three years ago, the Texas Book Festival began working with UT Pan-Am in Edinburgh, Tex., in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley. "We just went into five little towns and six different schools in the valley. They call it 'Festiva,' and the college has an open door to their community," according to Newberry. "We bring in authors from all over the state." Many of the pre-K to second-grade students there are ESL (English as a Second Language) children. Newberry said the festival makes a three-year commitment to each school. "Hopefully we are working with the same librarian and volunteers in the school. The goal is to leave them with a template of how to set up an author visit for their school," she explained. Last year, they took the program into two Title One elementary schools in San Antonio, funded by Target. Volunteers from Target came to the school, brought in art supplies and helped the students create posters for the event.

Scieszka believes encouraging sponsors to attend the event is another key component to the program's success. "I was pleased that the financial supporters stopped by the school to see where their money was going," he said. "If they're in oil or banking and they come out to the classroom and see those fourth- and fifth-graders riveted and asking great questions, it makes a big difference. It makes a great community connection, too. They can see how big a difference their contributions make."

The Texas Book Festival was founded in 1995 by Laura Bush, First Lady of Texas at the time. "She's a librarian and a University of Texas graduate, and she wanted to find a way to fund our library system because we were 47th out of the 50 states in per-capita funding that we give to our libraries," Newberry said. Barnes & Noble is the festival's official bookseller, and a percentage of sales go back to the festival. "So far we've awarded $2.3 million in grants to libraries," said Newberry. "Almost every library system in Texas has received a grant from us."

This year, for the first time, a children's book writer was among the authors invited to speak at the gala for the Texas Book Festival: Jon Scieszka. "After claiming to be a Texan and imitating the guys before me--I said I was a T.C.U. [Texas Christian University] grad--I read them "The Really Ugly Duckling" [from Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man] to get them started," Scieszka said with a laugh. He also used the opportunity to plug for Reading Rock Stars. "Five hundred people in black tie are a tough crowd. But nobody's tougher than a mess of kindergartners," he said, "or eighth graders."--Jennifer M. Brown


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Crane Husband
by Kelly Barnhill
GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

In this imaginative retelling of a Japanese folktale, Kelly Barnhill's second novel for adults, a pragmatic Midwestern teenager must grow up fast to protect her family. On the outskirts of what was once her family's farm, a girl raises her younger brother and manages the household while her artist mother weaves tapestries. But when her mother brings home a sharp and foreboding six-foot-tall crane who has ensnared her heart, the girl becomes desperate to bring her mother back to reality and snap her out of her obsession. For Tor editor Jonathan Strahan, Barnhill's singular novel stands out for its compelling depiction of one teenage girl facing "a world becoming less and less understandable, where the rules seem to change." There are three words to describe this fierce and evocative book: passionate, powerful, beautiful. --Alice Martin

(Tordotcom, $19.99 hardcover, 9781250850973, February 28, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Media and Movies

Media Heat: 20 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

This morning on the Early Show: Sandra Brown, author of Rainwater (Simon & Schuster, $23.99, 9781439172773/1439172773).


This morning on the Today Show: Michael Groover, author of My Delicious Life with Paula Deen (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439159996/1439159998), and Paula Deen, author of It Ain't All About the Cookin' (Simon & Schuster, $14, 9781439163351/1439163359). Both authors will also appear today on the Joy Behar Show.


This morning on Good Morning America: Bob Greene, author of The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416588382/1416588388).


This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Romesh Ratnesar, author of Tear Down This Wall: A City, a President, and the Speech that Ended the Cold War (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781416556909/1416556907). He will also appear today on Hardball with Chris Matthews.


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Kati Marton, author of Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416586128/1416586121).


Today on NPR's Coast to Coast: Michael Belfiore, author of The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs (Smithsonian, $26.99, 9780061577932/0061577936).


Today on NPR's Here and Now: Michael Meyer, author of The Year that Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall (Scribner, $26, 9781416558453/1416558454).


Today on the Bonnie Hunt Show: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge (Free Press, $26, 9781439141632/1439141630).


Today on Fox News's Hannity: Carrie Prejean, author of Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, and Political Attacks (Regnery Press, $27.95, 9781596986022/1596986026). Tomorrow she appears on the Today Show, Fox & Friends and the View.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Senator Kit Bond, co-author of The Next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam (Wiley, $25.95, 9780470503904/0470503904).


Tonight on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Denis Lehane, author of The Given Day (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780380731879/0380731878). 


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Stephen King, author of Under the Dome (Scribner, $35, 9781439148501/1439148503).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Michael Groover, author of My Delicious Life with Paula Deen (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439159996/1439159998). Also on Fox & Friends: Paula Deen, author of It Ain't All About the Cookin' (Simon & Schuster, $14, 9781439163351/1439163359).


Tomorrow morning on Imus in the Morning: Patrick Carlin, son of George Carlin, will discuss his father's memoir, Last Words (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439172957/1439172951).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jessica Amason and Richard Blakeley, co-authors of This Is Why You're Fat: Where Dreams Become Heart Attacks (HarperStudio, $9.99, 9780061936630/0061936634).


Tomorrow on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Tony Hendra, coauthor of George Carlin's Last Words (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439172957/1439172951).


Tomorrow on the Joy Behar Show: Paul Mooney, author of Black Is the New White (Simon Spotlight, $24.99, 9781416587958/1416587950).


Tomorrow on the Tyra Banks Show: J. Alexander, author of Follow the Model: Miss J's Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power (Simon Spotlight, $22.99, 9781439149904/1439149909).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Max Cleland, author of Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439126059/1439126054).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Serena Williams, author of On the Line (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446553667/0446553662).


Movies: The Danish Girl

Gwyneth Paltrow has joined Nicole Kidman in the cast of The Danish Girl, a film adaptation of David Ebershoff's novel. Variety reported that "Thomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) is directing a script by Lucinda Coxon. Gail Mutrux, Anne Harrison and Linda Reisman are producing, along with Kidman and Per Saari."


Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


The Financial Lives of the Poets: A Novel
by Jess Walter (Harper, $25.99, 9780061916045/0061916048). "In Jess Walter's best yet, feckless financial reporter Matt Prior has lost his job, is six days away from losing his house, and suspects his wife is courting an affair. Walter's own obvious empathy for the human condition will have you pulling for Prior and his screwy, shady, last-chance scheme for solvency. A laugh-out-loud serio-comic masterpiece!"--Ranae Burdette, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
by Rhoda Janzen (Holt, $22, 9780805089257/080508925X). "Poet Rhoda Janzen has an intriguingly honest and witty way with language, and a personality and unique story to match. This insightful memoir is simultaneously humorous and touching--a rare combination you certainly don't want to miss."--Kerry Hartwick, the Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop, Fort Atkinson, Wis.


The Gray Man by Mark Greaney (Jove, $9.99, 9780515147018/051514701X). "Former CIA operative Court Gentry is not your typical sympathetic figure--he kills people for a living, after all, but you can't but feel for the 'Gray Man' as a nonstop storyline keeps you turning the pages to figure out what tragic event will befall him next. Will grab you from the first chapter, and an interesting twist at the end of the novel leaves readers wanting the next installment!"--Chris Burcky, Cover to Cover Bookstore, Arlington, Tenn.

For Young Adults

Bug Boy by Eric Luper (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99, 9780374310004/0374310009). "Jack is an up-and-coming jockey at the Saratoga Racetrack who will have to find a way of dealing with the unsavory underbelly of the glamorous sport in order to make it big. This great book for reluctant teen readers, set in the 1930s, has a bit of everything: history, romance, conflict, and lots of action."--Kelley Drahushuk, the Spotty Dog, Hudson, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Book Review: Jerusalem

Jerusalem by Goncalo Tavares (Dalkey Archive Press, $13.95 Paperback, 9781564785558, November 2009)

Mylia is a schizophrenic who can see into people's souls. She's in constant pain, prone to violent tantrums, and has two years to live--so she says.

Her doctor at the clinic disagrees. Theodor Busbeck, 10 years her senior, a prominent mental health researcher, appears to be an intelligent, saintly man. He's convinced Mylia is healthy, falls in love with her and marries her. He spends the rest of his time researching his obsession, the predictability of torture and genocide in history, trying to understand the pattern between suffering and causing suffering.

After eight years of marriage, he commits Mylia to a mental institution, where another patient impregnates her in front of the other inmates.

Mylia's illegitimate son, Kaas, a boy with abnormally thin legs and a speech impediment, lives with his adoptive father, Busbeck, until the terrible morning when he's convinced his father has abandoned him. Kaas sets out alone to find him, into the dangerous city where Hinnerk Obst, a mentally damaged war veteran, spends his time watching children on the playground through binoculars while aiming an unloaded gun. Hanna, the prostitute who lives with Hinnerk, has an appointment with--Dr. Busbeck.

What a crew. They're all about to collide in a tangled, tightening Gordian knot of unrequited loves and violent deeds. The reader just doesn't know how, and that's what keeps the pages turning. The plot of this slender Portuguese novel, revealed scattershot, is never straightforward, and figuring it out is half the fun. It's delivered in a rapid-fire assembly of short narrative fragments following these characters through their interactions and intersections, leaping back and forth in time. The novel isn't perfect. It takes itself a tad seriously. It's not entirely free of occasional artsy-fartsy intellectual showmanship--soliloquies by the asylum inmates or philosophical passages read from a mysterious book. The title is a biblical reference: "If I should forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither." Which means what? Just another mystery to gnaw at the back of your mind as you rush to discover how it will all turn out, the shocking poetic justice of this convergence of fate-lines and destinies. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A convoluted tale of unrequited loves and violent deeds--showy, mysterious and sometimes baffling.


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