Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Algonquin Young Readers: If I Promise You Wings by A.K. Small

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Quotation of the Day

The Incomparable Pleasures of Literary 'Fossicking'

"It is a relief to go into a bookshop and quietly pick up a book. It satisfies my hunter-gatherer vanity. And there's the simple pleasure of judging a book by its cover--which, contrary to popular cliche, is effective and fun. I say that particularly, because--bucking all trends--a new independent bookstore called the Book Hive has recently opened near my house in Norwich and reminded me that fossicking is by far the most pleasant way to find a book."--Sam Jordison in his Guardian Books Blog column "The joys of bookshop browsing."


Apple TV+: Lessons in Chemistry


Notes: B&N's Good E-Book News; An Author's Bookshop

Many owners of Barnes & Noble's nook e-reader continue to buy physical books and the company expects to earn greater operating margins on e-books than physical books, B&N CFO Joseph Lombardi told the Wall Street Journal.

In addition, during a conference call with analysts yesterday following the announcement of third-quarter results (Shelf Awareness, February 23, 2010), B&N CEO Steve Riggio said that despite slipping sales, B&N has expanded its share of the bricks-and-mortar book retailing market to about 18%. In the "exploding" e-book market, B&N's market share in some e-book categories "will soon exceed our market share of physical books in those categories."


"Independent bookstores are the best booksellers, and the Galaxy represents everything that’s wonderful about them," wrote Howard Frank Mosher (author most recently of Walking to Gatlinburg) in a guest post headlined "Why I Always Launch My Book Tours at the Galaxy Bookshop" on the Hardwick, Vt., bookseller's blog. "Chain bookstores tend to all look alike, but indies are all different. The Galaxy, for instance, was once a bank. It still has a vault, not to mention the only drive-by window of any bookshop in the--well, galaxy."

Mosher added that the most important reason for launching his books at Galaxy is "the same reason I buy all my books there. Like independent booksellers from coast to coast, Linda [Ramsdell] and Sandy [Scott] and their staff know and love books the way this clueless storyteller knows and loves the outlaws, living and deceased, of the Northeast Kingdom. Why would I ever buy a book any place else?"


More than 6,500 authors, publishers and literary agents have opted out of the Google book settlement, according to the Guardian, which reported that court documents reveal the list includes Thomas Pynchon, Zadie Smith, Bret Easton Ellis, James Frey, Monica Ali, Michael Chabon, Philip Hensher, Graham Swift, Philip Pullman, Jeanette Winterson, Jeffrey Archer and Louis de Bernières. The estates of Rudyard Kipling, T.H. White, James Herriot, Nevil Shute and Roald Dahl are also among those opting out.

"My feelings were, in the end, that I doubted I would lose out by opting out, whereas I might do by opting in. Also there was the principle that copyright is important," said novelist Marika Cobbold. "It would be like handing over my babies to a babysitter I'd never met, [and] I couldn't understand what was in it for me. I love Google, and in principle making information accessible is wonderful, but things are moving so fast, and authors are losing so much control over what we've done, that my fear was who knows, in five to 10 years' time, how this information could be used?"

Gillian Spraggs has established Action on Authors' Rights, which "aims to bring home to the U.K. government and opposition the well-founded concerns of U.K. authors about the Google book settlement and the Digital Economy Bill, and to have an input into the debate on digitization and copyright in Europe," the Guardian wrote.
Author Gwyneth Jones said she "decided to opt out of the Google book settlement on the advice of my agency, David Higham Associates, and on the advice of Gill Spraggs, who had read the small print. Then I was inspired to read the small print too, and I didn't like what I found."


A tribute to the recently shuttered La Moderna Poesía, Miami's legendary Spanish-language bookstore, was featured in the Herald, which observed that with the closing, "we are losing not only a piece of Cuba but a piece of the mosaic of Spanish-language literary culture in Miami.... La Moderna Poesía is not alone in its misfortune. Fascinating independent bookstores with texts in all sorts of languages are closing their doors all over the country. Every time this happens, it's the community that suffers."

"The decisions that the owners make when selecting books are not commercial but reflect their passions,'' said Mitch Kaplan, owner of Books & Books. "There must be diversity of independent voices in the bookstores, because none of them can sell all the books.''


The cleanup effort at Portland State University Bookstore is still underway from a February 7 incident in which a water-storage tank overflowed and flooded the basement with about 120,000 gallons of water (Shelf Awareness, February 10, 2010).

PSU Bookstore president and CEO Ken Brown told the Daily Vanguard student newspaper that he estimated more than 1,000 textbooks, $4,000 in clothes and $19,000 in merchandise were lost, and that "walls, carpets, machines, computers and many other items were damaged beyond repair."

Brown also praised his staff for being  "wonderful and phenomenal. They have really stepped up."


NPR's What We're Reading list this week includes The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (translated by Laurie Thompson), We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication by Judith Warner and Horns by Joe Hill.


The Huffington Post featured a slideshow of  the "Most Amazing Libraries In the World Part Two" in the wake of strong reader response to part one last month, noting: "We're getting a lot of bad news about libraries recently, as funding drops and major cuts are made, but these buildings and collections remind us of how important libraries are, and how much they are worth saving!"


Writers, take note... or notes. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing, the Guardian asked authors to share their personal rules for writing fiction. A sampling:

  • Margaret Atwood: "You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality."
  • Roddy Doyle: "Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, e.g. 'horse,' 'ran,' 'said.'"
  • Geoff Dyer: "Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire."
  • Anne Enright: "The first 12 years are the worst."
  • Richard Ford: "Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer's a good idea."
  • Jonathan Franzen: "When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it."
  • Neil Gaiman: "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."
  • Jeanette Winterson: "Enjoy this work!"


Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

In Memoriam: Susan Lowry

Susan Lowry, wife of Tom Lowry--owner of Lowry's Books in Three Rivers and Sturgis, Mich.--died yesterday after a long battle with leukemia. Donations in Lowry's memory may be made to one of three Three Rivers organizations--the Domestic Assault Shelter, the Carnegie Center for the Arts or Three Rivers Mentoring--or to Three Cups of Tea Central Asia. Donations should be sent to the Hohner Funeral Home, 1004 Arnold Street, Three Rivers, Mich. 49093-9572.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 09.25.23

Image of the Day: First Tango in Bellingham

Just before Valentine's Day, Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., warmed up for an event featuring Maria Finn, author of Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home, by turning the main floor of the store into a dance floor. Members of a tango class taught by Rebecca Neimeir (in the white dress) danced for and with some customers; Finn joined in. Festivities continued in the Readings Gallery.




Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Your Face Tomorrow

Tomorrow on the Bookworm: Javier Marias, author of Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell (Vol. 3) (New Directions, $24.95, 9780811218122/0811218120). As the show put it: "What if ten minutes of espionage took a hundred pages to fully describe? Here we explore time and consciousness in what will possibly be the greatest trilogy of our new century." This is part two of a two-part interview.


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: the readers' review segment focuses on The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Amy Einhorn Books, $24.95, 9780399155345/0399155341).


Tomorrow on the Book Studio: Howie Mandel, author of Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me (Bantam, $25, 9780553807868/0553807862).


Tomorrow on ABC's What's the Buzz: Jeff Garlin, author of My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World (Simon Spotlight, $25, 9781439150108/1439150109).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Jackie Collins, author of Poor Little Bitch Girl (St. Martin's, $26.99, 9780312567453/0312567456).

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

Television: Sherlock Holmes & Aurelio Zen

Robert Downey Jr. recently gave Sherlock Holmes new life as an action hero, and now BBC Worldwide and PBS's Masterpiece Theatre "will present a 21st-century spin on the classic detective stories" in a series starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement) as Holmes and Martin Freeman (U.K. version of The Office) as Dr. Watson, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

In addition, the BBC/PBS connection announced that a series based upon Michael Dibden's Aurelio Zen novels is being shot in Italy. Rufus Sewell will star as the Italian detective. 


Movies: Peony in Love; True Grit

Fox 2000 has hired Erin Cressida Wilson to write the screenplay for a film version of Lisa See's novel Peony in Love. Producers are Ridley and Tony Scott's Scott Free Productions and actress-producer Giannina Facio. Variety reported that Wilson's screen credits include Chloe, opening in theaters next month, as well as Secretary and Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.


Hailee Steinfeld will play the role of Mattie Ross in Joel and Ethan Coen's remake of True Grit, based on the classic western novel by Charles Portis, Variety reported. She joins a cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. Filming is scheduled to begin next month in New Mexico, with the film scheduled for a Christmas Day opening.


Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner Finalists

Finalists for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction are Sherman Alexie for War Dances (Grove Press); Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (Harper); Lorraine M. López for Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press); Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs (Knopf); and Colson Whitehead for Sag Harbor (Doubleday).

The shortlist was announced by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Susan Richards Shreve and Robert Stone. The winner of the $15,000 prize will be named March 23, and all five authors will be honored during the 30th annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony in New York City on May 8 . 

"I'm delighted by how richly American these books are," observed Rilla Askew, who shared judging duties with Kyoko Mori and Al Young. "Elegant, funny, the pain often embedded in the laugh lines, these works range widely in terms of geography, era and culture; each is rich in story and language, and subtly informed by the author's complex sensibility and mastery of craft."


Book Brahmin: Charles Derber

Charles Derber is the author of Greed to Green: Solving Climate Change and Remaking the Economy, published by Paradigm in January. He says: "I'm an activist professor and writer at Boston College who writes about greed on Wall Street, never-ending oil wars and looming ecological catastrophe. No wonder I tell my students to bring Prozac to class. But unlike many social critics, I focus on solutions and how to make a difference. And I write as if I am conversing with my readers--not preaching to them. In fact, I love talking to readers and nonreaders; I'm on talk radio a lot, and other mass media including shows with loony hosts such as Bill O'Reilly, just because I can't ever give up on the fantasy that most people can be reached."

On your nightstand now:

Some throat lozenges and an entertaining and horrifying book by Loretta Napoleoni called Rogue Economics.
Favorite book when you were a child:

The Wizard of Oz.

Your top five authors:

Noam Chomsky, the most radically enlightening and courageous intellectual in America and, in full disclosure, a friend I treasure; George Orwell; still the best guide to propaganda and war in the modern world; Dave Barry, the comedian who makes me laugh out loud at the stupidest things; Charles Beard, who taught me what I need to know about U.S. history (I might add William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko, too, the historians all Americans should read); Karl Marx and Groucho Marx--Karl taught me about the tragedy of capitalism; Groucho about the comedy of socialism.

Book you've faked reading:

Hegel's entire corpus, in a speech to impress a University of Chicago faculty group when I was a graduate student--it worked. You can certainly fool some very smart people some of the time.

Book you're an evangelist for: 

Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States--a book to be read to children in the U.S. even before they can read--and then required reading each year thereafter. I am deeply grieving Howard's death late January 2010.

Book that changed your life:

C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite. Mills turned me into a radical thinker trying to expose the Masters of the Universe and figure out how to make our democracy more than a ritual of voting every four years
Favorite line from a book:

"It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstacies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation."--Marx on capitalism. (Who has better described the egoism driving us like lemmings over the brink in an orgy of self-gratification and self-affirmation?)

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

Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales--just to be two years old again, when I first read him.

Book Review

Children's Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Dutton, $17.99 hardcover, 9780525421580, April 2010)

This may well be the best novel that either John Green (Paper Towns) or David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, with Rachel Cohn) has written. And it's certainly the best one they've written together (okay, this is their first collaboration as a writing team). The alternating first-person narratives of two characters named Will Grayson (John Green's character) and will grayson (David Levithan's) combine in a seamless whole to describe how their chance meeting in a Chicago porn shop changes both of their lives. In the first chapter, Green's Will Grayson introduces his best friend since fifth grade, the physically gigantic as well as larger-than-life Tiny Cooper, who is not only the best member of their high school football team's offensive line, but is also writing a musical about being gay. Behind all his flash, Tiny just wants to be in love and have that love returned. Then there's Levithan's will grayson, who lives in the suburbs and arrives in Chicago to meet up with Isaac, whom he met online, at Frenchy's, the porn shop.

The two Will Graysons meet in the porn shop because things don't go as either of them had planned. Struck by the coincidence of sharing a name, they confide in each other about their plans gone astray. In a great exchange that they circle back to at several points in the novel, will grayson says to o.w.g. ("other will grayson"): " 'you know what sucks about love?' 'o.w.g.: what?' 'me: that it's so tied to truth.' " Green and Levithan have each explored the idea of unrequited love before. Here they go further: they explore the notion of idealized love. Because so much of adolescence is about discovering who we are, so, too, the objects of our affection are often about who we want them to be. The truth that lies at the core of this novel is that we must know ourselves before we can truly love another.

This is not a novel about gay people and straight people so much as it is an exploration of the qualities of a true friendship and what kind of relationship brings out the best in us. It's also a very funny novel, initially riddled with the self-deprecating humor that teens use as a survival tactic in the cutthroat realm of high school and later infused with a comic sense that stems from self-acceptance (such as a hilarious scene in which will grayson comes out to his fellow mathletes). And both authors could double as lyricists. If the ending is a bit over the top, well, that's just the way Tiny would want it. And it takes nothing away from the big-hearted theme at this inventive and insightful novel's center--that no love is a threat to anyone else's; there's plenty to go around for everyone. --Jennifer M. Brown

Wicked Son: Adam Unrehearsed by Don Futterman
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