Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


And Now Amazon vs. Connecticut

Amazon threatens another state--this time, Connecticut, whose legislature is considering a bill that would require Amazon to collect sales tax on purchases by people in the state.

According to Tech Flash, Amazon v-p for global public policy Paul Misener wrote two days ago to the general assembly committee considering the bill to say that Amazon will stop doing business with its associated businesses in the state if the bill is enacted.

Like similar laws in New York and other states, the Connecticut measure would be based on the e-tailer's connection to its associates.


Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Notes: Unbridled's Subscription Service; Effective Booksellers

Unbridled Books is offering a year-long subscription service called Great Reads to Your Doorstep: the publisher will send six new releases for $100 or three for $60 to recipients. The first three featured titles are An Unfinished Score by Elise Blackwell, Captivity by Deborah Noyes and Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari. Subscribers also receive a free backlist title as thanks, a twice-a-year e-mail newsletter and 25% off all Unbridled Books.


"We get to know people. People get to know us." That was how Harvey Finkel, owner of the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., explained the secret of the store's 35-year run to the Hunterdon County Democrat.

In addition to author events, Clinton Book Shop "sponsors two book clubs, updates customers using Facebook and Twitter, has an e-mail letter that reaches 3,500 people, and each staff member has a cultivated following among customers who rely on them for new book recommendations," the Democrat added.

Manager Rob Dougherty observed that the store's social media presence communicates with "a group we may not traditionally reach out to"--younger readers. And as Facebook has evolved, older readers are also being drawn to the bookstore. The Democrat noted that the "'hook' on the Facebook page may be a discount coupon, word of an exciting new release, or just an update that the staff has cleared snow and reopened after a storm."


"Book fans in northern Dutchess County can check out what's going on in the world of literature close to home at Oblong Books and Music," advised the Poughkeepsie Journal in a piece about the popular author events schedules at Oblong Books locations in Millerton and Rhinebeck, N.Y.

"We have a good mixture of kids who come in with their parents or just parents who come in to meet these authors because their kids think the books are great, especially at the Millerton store, where we have a lot of customers come in for kids' events," said manager and co-owner Suzanna Hermans.


"What's the Word?" In this video from Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo., bookseller Shay Lopez explores the word "coruscate" and, not coincidentally, handsells The Bone People by Keri Hulme.


Borders Group is encouraging book groups to meet in its stores. "We're encouraging stores to reach out to the public to say, 'We're here,' " spokesperson Mary Davis told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a way to drive traffic to the stores."

Earlier the company had hosted book groups led by its booksellers.


A novelty sideline carried by many bookstores has run into controversy in Melbourne, Australia, where customer Katie Robertson was "outraged after discovering a Borders book store was selling a 'control a woman' remote," according to ABC (Australian Broadcasting Co.) News. Lauren Thompson of Borders said the store also carries a "control a man" remote that had sold out and "they will not take it off the shelves on the basis of one complaint."


ReadHowYouWant is partnering with Thomas Nelson and Zondervan to create accessible formats for some of the publishers' titles, and is simultaneously launching a website to market the accessible editions from all of its Christian publisher partners.


This Sunday, March 21, 10 a.m–5:30 p.m., the Midwest Booksellers Association and American Booksellers Association are holding a spring meeting at Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo. Nearly 50 booksellers are planning to attend.

The program includes an MBA education and information session; an ABA education session on online website promotion and ABA Forum; a rep pick of the lists; Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle, who is the featured lunch speaker; and a reception with five authors.

For more information, go to


Also this coming Sunday, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is sponsoring a NAIBAhood Gathering at Chicklet Books in Princeton, N.J. Owner Deb Hunter will show off the store and discuss her unusual businesses. The Gathering begins at 11:30 a.m. at 301 N. Harrison St. in Princeton; 609-279-2121. RSVP to NAIBA at


The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association and ABA are sponsoring Schmooze Cruise II on Wednesday, April 14, 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m., on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Program includes a session on growing sales with businesses and schools; an ABA session on online website promotion and an ABA Forum; and SCIBA's annual meeting.

RSVP to Jennifer Bigelow at


One of our favorite bits of cover copy, from the 2000 book The Jumbo Duct Tape Book by Jim Berg, Tim Nyberg and Tony Dierckins (Workman):

"Forget everything you may have read or heard about duct tape. Compiled from a lifetime's obsession, The Jumbo Duct Tape Book is a magnum opus of nuttiness. If you duct tape your hands to the front and back covers of this book, you'll find it almost impossible to put down!"

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Image of the Day: Pattinson!

A star in the new film Remember Me, directed by Allen Coulter, is Robert Pattinson, who plays Tyler Hawkins, who happens to be an employee at the Strand Bookstore, New York City. Here is Pattinson in a still taken during filming this past June at the store. The last time the Strand was featured in a film was in Julie & Julia, Nora Ephron's 2009 movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.


Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doomsday, Peril and John McPhee

Tomorrow on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Norton, $27.95, 9780393072235/0393072231).


Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Anna Pavord, author of Bulb (Mitchell Beazley, $39.99, 9781845335328/1845335325).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: David Albright, author of Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America's Enemies (Free Press, $27, 9781416549314/1416549315).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: John McPhee, author of Silk Parachute (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374263737/0374263736). As the show put it: "Our nation's premier essayist--the man who helped raise creative non-fiction to an art form--speaks about the intricacy of his writing process. In much the same way that his work on geology incorporates a study of excavation and the earth’s upheavals, John McPhee's drafts involve the strata and prose formations of a highly demanding stylist."


Movies: Breaking Dawn's Mystery Director Hunt

Summit Entertainment "has reached out" to three high-profile directors regarding the possibility of directing the final installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. According to Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch, Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) have been contacted.

"These aren’t the sort of directors you’d associate with the term '3D,' so fans who are against the technology being used for the final film(s) might have reason to breathe a little easier," EW added. 


TV: Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

Perfect match.

The Discovery Channel has begun taping a series based on The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht (Chronicle) that is hosted by Bear Grylls of the Man vs. Wild series.


Books & Authors

Awards: Lambda, Orange, Florida, Hans Christian Andersen

The 112 finalists in the 23 categories of the 2009 annual Lambda Literary Awards have been announced. Winners will be honored at the 22nd annual awards, to be held May 27 in New York City at the end of BEA.


The Independent has the Orange Prize for Fiction longlist here. The shortlist will be announced April 20. Awards will be presented June 9.

By the way, Miss Daisy's blog has an interesting Orange Prize list of its own: sales of each of the titles, which shows that Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall sold more copies than the rest of the list combined.


The seven gold medalists and other winners of the Florida Book Awards can be found here.


The shortlist for the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Awards, given to an author and to an illustrator whose "complete works have made lasting contributions to children's literature, consists of:


Ahmad Reza Ahmadi from Iran
David Almond from the U.K.
Bartolomeu Campos de Queiros from Brazil
Lennart Hellsing from Sweden
Louis Jensen from Denmark


Jutta Bauer from Germany
Carll Cneut from Belgium
Etienne Delessert from Switzerland
Svjetlan Junakovic from Croatia
Roger Mello from Brazil

The awards are given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 23, at the Bologna Children's Book Fair.



Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 23:

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly Press in association with El León Literary Arts, $24.95, 9780802119285/080211928X) follows a group of Marines in the very northern part of South Vietnam in 1969 and is by a decorated veteran. See our dedicated issue on the book here.

Paul and Me: Fifty-three Years of Adventures and Misadventures with My Pal Paul Newman by A.E. Hotchner (Nan A. Talese, $26.95, 9780385532334/0385532334) chronicles one man's friendship with the famous actor.

Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore (Morrow, $23.99, 9780061779725/0061779725) is vampire story with many humorous twists.

Fragile Beasts: A Novel by Tawni O'Dell (Shaye Areheart Books, $25, 9780307351685/0307351688) follows two teenage brothers who move in with a wealthy neighbor after their father dies.

Warriors: Omen of the Stars #2: Fading Echoes by Erin Hunter (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780061555121/0061555126) is about a tribe of cats with human-like personalities.

Out in paperback:

Suze Orman's Action Plan: New Rules for New Times
by Suze Orman (Spiegel & Grau, $9.99, 9780812981551/0812981553).

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (Vintage, $15.95, 9780307454553/030745455X).

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Jane Austen and Steve Hockensmith (Quirk Books, $12.95, 9781594744549/1594744548).

The Ghost Writer
by Robert Harris (Pocket, $7.99, 9781439130476/1439130477).



Shelf Starter: I Thought You Were Dead

I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson (Algonquin, $23.95, 9781565125971/1565125975, April 13, 2010)

Opening lines of books we want to read:

Two of Them Going Nowhere

In the winter of 1998, at the close of the twentieth century, in a small college town on the Connecticut River, on the sidewalk outside a house close enough to the railroad tracks that the pictures on the walls were in constant need of straightening, not that anybody ever straightened them, Paul Gustavson, having had a bit too much to drink, took the glove off his right hand, wedged it into his left armpit, and fumbled in his pants pocket for his house keys....

"I'm home," Paul said, letting himself in and closing the door to keep out the cold.

"I thought you were dead," the dog said. Her name was Stella, and she was a mixed breed, half German shepherd and half yellow Labrador, but favoring the latter in appearance. Fortunately, she'd also gotten her personality from the Labrador side of the family, taking from the Germans only a certain congenital neatness and a strong sense of protectiveness…

"Once again, I'm not dead."

"Joy unbounded," she said dryly.--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Book Brahmin: John Vorhaus

"I was born in the middle of the last century, and that's exactly as long ago as it sounds. In the long arc of my career, I've been an advertising copywriter, singer/songwriter, sitcom and screenplay writer, nonfictionalist and now novelist, which is what I'll be when I die. I've written 10 books on poker, including one on strip poker. I got lucky and wrote a how-to comedy book called The Comic Toolbox, which still sells its butt off, thanks largely, I think, to its attractive pink cover. My debut novel is The California Roll, published yesterday by Shaye Areheart Books. I've also spent 20 years traveling and teaching overseas, which has washed me up on some pretty strange beaches. Lately I've been working in Moscow, running the writing staff of the Russian version of Married… with Children. I have a wife and a dog who love me for, I suspect, very different reasons."

OTHER INFORMATION: The ideal temperature range for a snake mite is 75 to 85 degrees.

On your nightstand now:

The latest issue of Funny Times. Three remote controls, none of which I can operate with any degree of competence. An empty coffee cup I should've brought to the kitchen hours ago. A flashlight (I live in earthquake country). And Columbine by Dave Cullen. Fascinating read. It turns out that the media got the story of that tragedy almost 100% wrong. And not just Fox!

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster. It took me away, as intended, to a whole 'nother world. I loved the illustrations by Jules Feiffer, and traced Milo and Tock's route on the map in the back of the book. In Magic Marker. For which my big sister beat me up. In fairness, it was her book.

Your top five authors:

The estimable J.R.R. Tolkien. The visionary Robert Heinlein. The lovely Tom Robbins. The witty David Sedaris. And the shamelessly self-aggrandizing me. Seriously, if you're not one of your own top five authors, you're in the wrong line of work.

Book you've faked reading:

Oh, everything by James Joyce.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It makes clear that what we think of as moral superiority is really just better tools.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman. Though I didn't exactly buy it.

Book that changed your life:

The Elements of Style
by Strunk and White. It made so clear how to make everything so clear.

Favorite line from a book:

The first line of Kafka's Metamorphosis: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." Now that's a hook.

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

Watership Down by Richard Adams. This time I won' t keep waiting for the shipwreck.

Proudest literary achievement:

I wrote a theater piece in high school that my drama teacher excoriated as "not a play in any sense of the word I understand." I knew right then that I was onto something.

Coolest thing your mother ever said:

"We're all dying fires. The question is, how will you burn?"

Book you wish your college roommate never read:

The Fountainhead.

Book Review

Children's Review: Lyle Walks the Dogs

Lyle Walks the Dogs: A Counting Book by Bernard Waber (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $12.99 Hardcover, 9780547223230, May 2010)

After more than a decade, Lyle the Crocodile is back, and with an occupation that suits him better than a desk job. Here author Bernard Waber, who has suffered from macular degeneration (which makes it hard for him to see details), partners with the person to whom he dedicated his first book starring the famous green hero, The House on East 88th Street (1961)--his daughter, Paulis Waber. Although the Primms do not make an appearance here, a street sign assures us that Lyle still lives on East 88th Street in New York City, and a final scene pictures him with Loretta the cat and Bird (with a few more yellow feathers).

The book begins on Lyle's first day as a dog walker, a profession essential to urban areas, but one with which children in rural and suburban areas may be less familiar. The Wabers quickly set the pattern for the pages to follow: "Day 1/ Lyle walks 1 dog./ The dog's name is Gwendolyn." Gwendolyn, who looks to be a yellow lab, is "frisky," says the text. "She pulls this way and she pulls that way." On Day 2, "Lyle walks 2 dogs. / Count them--1-2." The second dog, Morris, is "even friskier." When Pokey joins the group on Day 3, he earns his name and slows the pace a bit, and the fourth dog, actually named Frisky, wanders away from the group (albeit still on her leash) on many of the subsequent spreads. The Wabers introduce each pooch with a small framed picture and its name next to the day count, as they make their way to 10. There's affectionate Rosie (a Saint Bernard) and Snappy, who gets all the dogs sounding off ("Barking, as you know, can be quite contagious, especially for dogs"). As always, Bernard Waber offers young readers situations and emotions with which they can readily identify. Tulip, for instance, must "be coaxed out from under the couch. Everyone waited and waited for her." (Except Frisky, who's making mischief.) But as soon as Tulip joins the pack, she's "merrily wagging her tail with the best of them." On the 10th day, Sniffy the Dachshund, nose to the ground, discovers a squirrel, and the whole canine gang is off ("The dogs run. The squirrel runs. Lyle runs, too"). When they finally halt, Lyle asks readers to help him take stock: "Are all of the dogs here?" And the next spread shows all the canines' framed mug shots to help children count off. Lyle's management style keeps the dogs in line while still appreciating their diverse personalities. Part counting book, part gentle lesson in group participation, this labor of love between father and daughter will likely win over a new crowd of fans for Lyle.--Jennifer M. Brown

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and near Chicago during the week ended Sunday, March 14:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
4. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
5. House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
2. Lift by Kelly Corrigan
3. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
4. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

Paperback Fiction

1. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
3. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
4. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
5. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
2. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
3. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
4. The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth
5. How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer


1. Percy Jackson #2: Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
2. My Garden by Kevin Henkes
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1 by Jeff Kinney
4. Percy Jackson #1: Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
5. Percy Jackson #4: Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

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 Carl Lennertz!]

Powered by: Xtenit