Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 17, 2009


Delacorte Press: The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

Candlewick Press: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Shadow Mountain: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B Moore

Forge: My Brilliant Life by Ae-Ran Kim, translated by Chi-Young Kim

Shadow Mountain: Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

News

Notes: Bookstore Ghost Town; NetGalley Links with Edelweiss

Is that an indie bookstore opportunity knocking? When the B. Dalton bookstore in Laredo, Tex., closes next month, this city with a population of nearly a quarter-million people will be the largest in the nation without a single bookseller. The closest bookstore is in San Antonio, 150 miles away.

The Associated Press reported that Barnes & Noble "believes a bookstore is viable in Laredo and has identified a location for a large-format Barnes & Noble, but the space will not be available for at least 18 months."

"It's not reflective of the city that they're closing," said Maria Soliz, Laredo Public Library director. "I know this city can support a bookstore."

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Effective in the second quarter of next year, NetGalley services will be integrated with Edelweiss digital catalogues, allowing publishers to provide electronic galleys to retailers, sales reps, reviewers, publicists and other professional readers.

NetGalley publishers will be able to use the service at no extra charge. Publishers who use Edelweiss but don't use NetGalley will be able to buy NetGalley services on a per-title basis through Above the Treeline.

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Cool idea of the day: Skylight Books, Los Angeles, which has been revealing its top-selling titles since 1996 for each section in the bookshop, cleverly saved fiction--"the section that we frankly could not survive without"--for last and has invited patrons to take part in a contest before that list is unveiled.

Skylight's blog notes that "we want to give you, our loyal readers, customers, and fans, a chance to guess our 5 top selling Fiction/Literature titles since 1996. To be fair, one of those 5 is not technically fiction, but we've always shelved it in fiction with the author's other books. We've done our best to aggregate sales so that all editions are included in our numbers: paperback, hardcover, movie tie-in, etc. Audio books are NOT included." The winner will receive two signed hardcovers from authors in our top five and a gift card; two runners-up will get a copy of Skylight's #1 fiction bestseller and a gift card. Patrons can submit their guesses from December 14 until midnight, December 19.

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The perfect gift for the Dickens fan who thought he or she had everything? The Associated Press reported that "an ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens has sold at a New York City auction for $9,150. It was being offered by heirs to the Barnes & Noble family and was up for sale Tuesday at Bonhams New York. The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auction house says the buyer did not want to be identified."

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"While people are busy ranking the hit books of the last 10 years," the Guardian polled publishers, agents and translators to discover their choices for "the decade's best unread books."

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Book trailer of the day: The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel & Friends).

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Former Cincinnati Bengals football player and children's book collector Pat McInally will put several rare early editions of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland up for auction. The books, including a copy that once beonged to 10-year-old Alice Liddell herself, are "expected to fetch up to £90,000 (US$147,416)," BBC News reported.

"I think it is the most important children's book ever written... so finding a book given to Alice by Lewis Carroll was really exciting," said McInally, who is parting with his copies to make room for the real focus of his collecting--Winnie-the-Pooh books.

"I'm hoping to use some of the money I get from this sale on more books by A.A. Milne at a sale coming up soon in London," he added.



Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda


Gift Guides: Everyone's Making a List

In the Atlantic, Megan McArdle wrote: "My reading this year has been somewhat over-concentrated on the Great Depression and financial crises, so I'm afraid that's what you're getting: an eclectic set of books on what happens when money problems get really, really bad on a national level."

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Noting that "part of the fun of choosing books as presents is tucking away a tome or two for yourself as well," entertainment and features writers at the Detroit News picked 13 books they "found particularly inspiring this year."

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For movie fans on your holiday gift list, former Booksmith bookseller and long time silent film buff Thomas Gladysz suggested his "Best film books of 2009" for San Francisco Silent Film Examiner.

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And for music aficionados, the Philadelphia Inquirer's music critic Dan DeLuca featured "Books of note about music."

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"If you look around your home and know you need to make some changes, but don't know where to start, home design and improvement books just hitting store shelves offer fresh ideas and inspiration," observed the San Francisco Chronicle in recommending "8 design books to inspire and guide."

 


Retired Industry Executive is Seeking Partner(s) and Opportunities in the Book Business at bookstorebusinessplan@gmail.com


Holiday Hum: Gift Suggestions Galore at the Bookstore

Charlene Ann Baumbich's novel Stray Affections isn't just a favorite hand sell at the Bookstore in Glen Ellyn, Ill.--it's also the inspiration for a festive window display (photo below). The snow globe scene on the book's cover was re-created as an oversize painting by bookseller Margie White. The work of art is surrounded by snow globes, sparkling ornaments and a copy of Stray Affections and holiday-themed titles.

On Black Friday, Baumbich was the attraction as she took part in a seasonal tradition at the Bookstore: the Holiday Reader in the Window Program. Adults and kids sign up to spend an hour reading in a rocking chair in a store-front window facing out on a main thoroughfare. They even receive a $5 gift certificate for participating. "Customers love it and say it's a great break from their holiday craziness," said White.

To start the season, the store hosted its "First Annual Holiday Gift Idea Night" on November 17. Customers were encouraged to browse at the casual, open house-style event, where there was "lots of book chat," White said. Those who spent more than $100 received a Holiday Survival Gift Bag that included chocolate, peppermint and a small bottle of Schnapps. "Because the contents were a surprise, we had customers spending $100 just so they could find out what was inside," said White.

Attendees were provided with a list of gift ideas, including suggestions for hard-to-buy-for recipients. What do you get a wacky aunt? The Barack & Michelle Obama Paper Doll & Cut-Out Book or Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong. How about Twilight-y teens? The young adult novels Shiver and If I Stay, along with Nightlight, a Twilight parody, all of which have been given thumbs up by the store's teenage staffers. And husbands who don't read? "You have to be sneaky here," White advised. "The secret is to buy a book that looks like it's for him but is really for her." She recommends Malcolm Gladwell's titles, Stephen King's Under the Dome and John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River.

Other employee picks include Women Who Read are Dangerous by Stefan Bollmann and Madeleine Albright's Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box, paired with a brooch from a local jewelry store. For guys, there is The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel and When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. If there's a math geek in the family, White "absolutely loves" The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematics.

White's recent authorial debut is also stirring customer interest at the Bookstore. In The Great Lakes Reader, a collection of essays by booksellers and librarians, she recalls growing up on a Wisconsin lake and sleuthing with Nancy Drew during family boat rides. The book was the brainchild of HarperCollins's Carl Lennertz, inspired by the Ecco title State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America with pieces about each state written by authors. Eight additional Reader volumes are planned (up next is The Pacific Northwest Reader in February), with proceeds benefiting the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. In addition to the philanthropic aspect, said Lennertz, it's "a vehicle to get booksellers and librarians published." (Visit www.GreatLakesReader.com for more information; the book is available from Partners Distribution) The compact trim size of The Great Lakes Reader, noted White, makes it an ideal stocking stuffer.

Shoppers will find no shortage of gift suggestions at the Bookstore, whether for wacky aunts, wee ones or anyone else. Popular children's choices are the pop-up books The Little Prince and In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis. But it's a tiara-wearing glamour girl who is leading the way during a strong December. The store's #1 seller is Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


GLOW: Overlook Press: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi


Image of the Day: Trees from Books

Chicklet Books' window display made for the Princeton Merchants Window Display contest aims to win in the category of "using your store product to its best ability." Owner Deb Hunter explained: "Books are made from trees... and now trees are made from books!" The booksellers at Chicklet, located in the Princeton Shopping Center in Princeton, N.J., also made a menorah out of books.


Beach Lane Books: The Farmer and the Monkey by Marla Frazee


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Act Like a Lady, Argue with Idiots

Tonight on Hannity: Len Berman, author of the children's book The Greatest Moments in Sports (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, 9781402220999/1402220995), who is taking part in the show's Great American Panel.

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Steve Harvey, author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment (Amistad, $23.99, 9780061728976/0061728977).

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Tomorrow night on the Jay Leno Show: Glenn Beck, author of Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government (Threshold Editions, $29.99, 9781416595014/1416595015).



This Weekend on Book TV: Stones into Schools

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, December 19

10 a.m. Nicole Gelinas, author of After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street--and Washington (Encounter Books, $23.95, 9781594032615/1594032610), argues that government interference over the past 25 years has hindered the proper working of our financial system. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.)

12 p.m. Matthew Spalding, author of We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, $26.95, 9781935191674/1935191675), explores how he believes the government went off track and how it can return to its roots. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m.)

2:30 p.m. James Bradley, author of The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316008952/0316008958), recalls the diplomatic mission that President Theodore Roosevelt sent Secretary of War William Howard Taft on in 1905. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.)

8 p.m. Timothy Carney, author of Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596986121/1596986123), contends that the president is a champion of big corporations and Wall Street financial firms. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

9 p.m. Frances Beinecke discusses his book, Clean Energy Common Sense: An American Call to Action on Global Climate Change (Rowman & Littlefield, $9.95, 9781442203174/144220317X). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 a.m. and Monday at 2 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words: Representative Mary Bono Mack interviews Greg Mortenson, author of Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Viking, $26.95, 9780670021154/0670021156). The California congresswoman was an early supporter of Mortenson's work. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, December 20

4 a.m. A panel discussion of Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia (Duke University Press, $27.95, 9780822346876/0822346877) by Ann Dunham, President Barack Obama's mother, who died in 1995. A revised and edited version of her 1992 University of Hawaii dissertation on metalworking industries in Java was recently published. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

 


Movies: The Last Spymaster; Murder in the High Himalaya

Vigorous Pictures has optioned the film rights to espionage thriller The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin's, $6.99, 9780312988777/031298877X) and Jonathan Green's nonfiction work, Murder in the High Himalaya: Loyalty, Tragedy and Escape From Tibet (PublicAffairs, $26.95, 9781586487140/1586487140, scheduled to be published in June 2010). Vigorous, recently formed by Jon Furay, formerly an indie producer and book scout, and James LaVigne, the former v-p of production at Michael Douglas' Furthur Films, told Variety that it has "raised independent financing to launch a company that will focus on transferring true stories to films."

"We're fortunate to have raised development money in tough economic times," Furay said.

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Pulpwood Queen Book Club Books of the Year

Kathy L. Patrick, owner of Beauty and the Book, Jefferson, Tex., and founder of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Clubs, has named this year's recipients of the Pulpwood Queen Book Club Books of the Year:

  • Book of the Year: South of Broad by Pat Conroy
  • Bonus Book of the Year: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Children’s Book of the Year: Poppy’s Pants by Melissa Conroy

The awards will be presented during the Pulpwood Queens' 10th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend Author Extravaganza at the Jefferson Transportation and Tourism Convention Center, January 16, 2010.

The Oxford American Magazine will also be honored with the first KAT Award for excellence in promoting literature and literacy in the media. And the 2009 Doug Marlette Award, given to an individual for a lifetime of promoting literacy, will go to Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Ark.

 


GBO's December Pick: A Happy Man

The December book pick of the German Book Office is A Happy Man by Hansjörg Schertenleib, translated by David Dollenmayer, which was published in November by Melville House as part of its Contemporary Art of the Novella Series ($13, 9781933633817/1933633816).

The "happy man" is named This, a jazz singer living in Amsterdam with his wife and daughter. The publisher calls the protagonist "a smart, interesting, quirky jazz musician... albeit with a wife suffering from depression and a rebellious teenaged daughter. They find his contentedness more and more irritating. And yet This just can't help it--life makes him happy. And the mounting tension that results is beautifully set off by Schertenleib's lyrical prose, the smoky setting of Amsterdam, and the dialogue that's as edgy as that of a noir movie."

Born in 1957 in Zürich, Switzerland, Schertenleib has written for many German-language newspapers and magazines and is the author of seven novels, two collections of poetry, two story collections and three YA novels. He lives in Ireland.

Dollenmayer is professor of German at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the author of The Berlin Novels of Alfred Döblin. Last year he won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize.

 



Book Review

Book Review: Veracity

Veracity by Laura Bynum (Pocket Books, $25.00 Hardcover, 9781439123348, January 2010)



Fans of future shock fiction will find much to enjoy in Laura Bynum's debut novel, a dystopian thriller with an alarmingly credible premise. Playing on the very real fears of our current age, the novel draws from such works as 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale, but with its unusual characters and dreamlike narrative, creates an entirely fresh take on what might be in store.

The main action of the novel takes place a mere 35 years from now, but the defining moment of its world occured in 2012. At that time, "the Pandemic"--a monster virus worse than bird flu, Ebola or any other biological scourge yet imagined--wiped out half the population of the U.S. During this plague, the government was seized by a small group who quickly turned the nation into the Confederation of the Willing, a kind of horrific police state that is all too easy to imagine. Control over the population is achieved in three important ways: publicly provided and sanctioned drugs and prostitution; a police force of Blue Coats who punish infractions with on-the-spot rape and murder; and--most importantly--a computerized device called a "slate" implanted in the necks of everyone over the age of four. The slate records and transmits every utterance, a crucial function, because when a person speaks a forbidden--or Red-Listed--word, the slate delivers electric shocks of varying degrees to its bearer. As well as a centralized computer system, the government keeps tabs on its citizens with the help of Monitors (psychics who can read auras and are capable of astral travel).

Harper Adams is a skilled Monitor whose buried knowledge of the "beforetime" makes her uneasy with her present. That uneasiness blossoms into fear when her best friend is killed by Blue Coats. Then, when her daughter's name--Veracity--is added to the Red List, Harper is tipped over the edge and joins an underground resistance who are guided by the teachings of a fabled "Book of Noah."

Harper is an expertly drawn character whose voice is resonant and authentic. So, too, are Bynum's descriptions of a society deprived of thought and language and controlled by fear. And so many of the details in this story (the revelation of the "Book of Noah," to name just one) are flat-out chilling--especially when one realizes how fine the line is between this book's reality and our own.--Debra Ginsberg

Shelf Talker: A thoughtful, chilling and highly visual dystopian thriller about what can happen when a society is deprived of words and controlled by fear.


The Bestsellers

Chicagoland Bestsellers

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, December 13:

Hardcover Fiction

1. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
4. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
5. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Hardcover Nonfiction


1. Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
2. The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley
3. SuperFreakonomics by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner
4. True Compass by Edward Kennedy
5. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Paperback Fiction

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
3. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
2. Blind Side by Michael Lewis
3. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
4. American Lion by Jon Meacham
5. My Life in France by Julia Child

Children's


1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
2. Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
4. Crocodile Tears by Alex Horowitz
5. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the reporting booksellers and to Carl Lennertz!]


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