Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 25, 2010

Little Simon: Spring into these illustrated chapter books tailor-made for new readers and make learning to read a blast!

Shadow Mountain: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Graydon House: The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Columbia Global Reports: The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now about the Left by John B Judis

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison


Obituary Note: Harold W. McGraw Jr.

Publisher Harold W. McGraw Jr., who helped McGraw-Hill become a billion-dollar enterprise during the 1970s and 1980s, died yesterday. He was 92.

His obituary in the New York Times noted that "McGraw's leadership at McGraw-Hill was far from a simple matter of inheriting and minding the family store. He played a significant role in its growth and survival as an independent and diversified company in the last half of the 20th century."

Although he retired as company chairman in 1988, he retained the title chairman emeritus, a position that included an office at McGraw-Hill headquarters. The Times observed that this "allowed him to stay abreast of the company's doings. 'If you stop me in the lobby for a chat, you'll make my day,' he told his colleagues. 'If you stop by the office for some advice, you'll make my week.'"


Grove Press: Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart

Notes: Smith's Retirement Plan; New Deseret Flagship Store

Marshall Smith, founder of Paperback Booksmith, Videosmith, Cybersmith and Learningsmith, is, at the age of 78, "taking the first steps toward retirement" by putting Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, Mass., up for sale. Smith is majority owner of that and Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

Wellesley Booksmith was founded 10 years ago, has 4,500 square feet of space and is in "a healthy and vibrant business situation," the bookseller said.

The Brookline Booksmith, which has roots in the first Paperback Booksmith opened 48 years ago, had what the company called "a banner year" in 2009, thanks in part to the closure of a nearby Barnes & Noble. Plans for that store "have not been finalized."

At its height in the late 1970s, Paperback Booksmith had 75 stores in the Northeast but filed for Chapter 11 in 1979. Videosmith was a chain of video rental stores that Smith sold in 1989. Learningsmith, founded in 1991, was an educational multimedia company that had 87 stores at its height, many of which were affiliated with public radio stations, and closed in 1999.


Deseret Book Company launches its 14,000-square-foot flagship store in Salt Lake City, Utah, today, featuring "limited-edition leatherbound classics, a 32-foot video wall, old-fashioned candies, art, a Lion House Pantry Express that will sell 'grab 'n' go' food, custom framing and even an on-site 'art concierge' who will assist potential buyers with art acquisitions," the Deseret News reported.

"One of the things about retail is that it needs to be an experience," said Mark H. Willes, president and CEO of Deseret Management Corp. (parent company of Deseret Book and Deseret News). "Anyone can go online and buy a book, a CD, a DVD. The question is, why would you come into the store?... You're going to see things in this store you can't find anywhere else, including online."

Forbes magazine called City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., a "must-see" and noted that "although the staff members are extremely knowledgeable, they also have a reputation for being a bit prickly with those they deem less informed. While you shouldn't let their snobby attitude stop you from shopping here, you may want to think twice about asking where to find the latest Danielle Steel novel."


With the March 31 closing date for the Bookworks, Marysville, Wash., the Everett Herald spoke with Mary Burns, owner of the 11-year-old indie.

"People are still buying books, and they're still wanting new books," she said. “But before when they might be buying five or six, now they're only buying one.... My customers are so sad, and I feel so bad. I'm ready to go, and they're not ready to let me go."


The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program was showcased by the Monday Muse blog of the Northern California Book Publicity and Marketing Association. The program "puts one million new books and resources into the hands of students, educators, and community leaders each year through the generous contributions of partner publishers and private donors."

"You can cast your vote here for a favorite classic children's book, and the top vote-getter will be sent to a fourth-grade class in rural Mongolia. The books are donated by the Pearson Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Pearson Education and Penguin Books) through its We Give Books initiative. In addition, "a donor will contribute $1 for every vote the foundation gets, up to $10,000," the Monday Muse wrote.


A first edition of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows sold for £32,400 (US$48,460) at auction in London, the Guardian reported. The copy was inscribed to Foy Felicia Quiller-Couch, daughter of the man believed to be the model for the character Ratty.


Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! For readers who might like to know a bit more about this historical period than Monty Python's abridged version, Theresa Breslin, author of Prisoner of the Inquisition, chose her top 10 books on the Spanish Inquisition for the Guardian.


Egypt is in the midst of "an unprecedented fiction explosion from a new generation," the Associated Press reported, noting that young authors are increasingly turning away from politically charged issues to "explore the deeply personal, day-to-day life and hidden ills of society, writing candidly on taboo topics. And they have turned to a more accessible language, peppered with Arabic pop culture and often infused with the writing styles of the Internet, building an audience among Egypt's younger middle class." The AP also noted that this fiction renaissance has to some extent sparked--and been influenced by--the growth of bookstores, "complete with cafes and reading areas."


Effective this Saturday, March 27, Random House Publisher Services will provide worldwide sales and distribution for Smithsonian Books.

Smithsonian Books, part of the Smithsonian Enterprises unit of the Smithsonian Institution, publishes illustrated, photography, reference and narrative nonfiction in history, art, culture, anthropology, archeology, science and technology, aviation and space.


House of Anansi Press: Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

Cool Idea of the Day: Matterhorn Challenge

From now through Memorial Day, for every copy of Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly Press with El León Literary Arts) sold by Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo., the store will donate $2 to the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, an organization that Marlantes has recommended. Marlantes will appear at the store May 2.

Maria's Bookshop decided to make the donations because "Marlantes has written a very important book about the experience of war, and we thought this was a perfect opportunity to thank our local veterans for all they've sacrificed for our nation and our community," said inventory manager Joe Foster. "Whatever your views on war, I think we can all agree that those who have suffered in combat deserve our compassion, support and respect."

In addition, Maria's Bookshop is issuing what community relations manager Libby Cowles called "a gentle challenge" to other bookstores to do something similar. Already Rob Dougherty at Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., is taking the challenge, and will donate a portion of proceeds from Marlantes's event at the store on June 6.


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable

Image of the Day: Every Dog Has a Party

At the launch party last week for Every Dog Has a Gift: True Stores of Dogs that Bring Hope and Healing into Our Lives by Rachel McPherson (Tarcher), more than 150 people and a dozen canines celebrated. The part was held at artist and author Christopher Beane's art studio. Here are Beane; McPherson, founder and executive director of the Good Dog Foundation; and a certified therapy dog.

Photograph: Alan Roche



G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Jigsaw Man
by Nadine Matheson

GLOW: Hanover Square Press: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley Thriller) by Nadine MathesonAfter some time off, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley returns to field duty with London's Serial Crimes Unit only to find two dead people--pieces of them, that is. The dismemberment reminds Henley of serial killer Peter Olivier, who cut up his victims with a jigsaw. But Henley apprehended him two years earlier, and he's serving life in a high-security prison. Which means there's a copycat killer and Henley must face Olivier again to ask for help. Nadine Matheson's The Jigsaw Man is "a modern Silence of the Lambs," says Hanover Square Press editor John Glynn, "complete with a kickass protagonist and a villain who steals the show." He adds that "Nadine's experience as a criminal defense attorney allows her to inhabit her characters in a visceral way." Readers will experience this thriller the same way, with a punch. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis

(Hanover Square Press, $27.99 hardcover, 9781335146564,
May 16, 2021)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sex, Zombies, Food

This morning on the Today Show: Amber Madison, author of Talking Sex with Your Kids: Keeping Them Safe and You Sane--By Knowing What They're Really Thinking (Adams Media, $14.95, 9781605506623/1605506621).


This morning on Fox Business News: Christian Wolmar, author of Blood, Iron, Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (PublicAffairs, $28.95, 9781586488345/1586488341).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Jason Mattera, author of Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation (Threshold Editions, $25, 9781439172070/1439172072).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Jamie Oliver, author of Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (Hyperion, $35, 9781401323592/1401323596).

This Weekend on Book TV: A Century Turns

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday 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, March 27

9 a.m. For an event hosted by Book Passage Bookstore, Corte Madera, Calif., Roy Morris Jr., author of Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain (S&S, $26, 9781416598664/1416598669), recounts the transformation of an unemployed riverboat pilot into a celebrated writer. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:15 p.m.)

10 a.m. Throughout the day, Book TV offers coverage of events held at the Virginia Festival of the Book, which took place last week in Charlottesville, Va.

6 p.m Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1997, author John Brady talked about Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater.

7 p.m. Zachary Karabell discusses his book, Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World's Prosperity Depends on It (S&S, $26, 9781416583707/141658370X).

9 p.m. Julie Des Jardins, author of The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in Science (Feminist Press at CUNY, $16.95, 9781558616134/1558616136), highlights contributions women have made to science. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Walter Isaacson interviews former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, author of A Century Turns: New Hopes, New Fears (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9781595551696/1595551697). Bennett analyzes U.S history since the end of the Cold War. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Joe Sacco, author of Footnotes in Gaza: A Graphic Novel (Metropolitan Books, $29.95, 9780805073478/0805073477), chronicles a 1956 incident in Rafah (Gaza Strip) during which 111 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers. 

Sunday, March 28

2 a.m. Jeremy Kuzmarov, author of The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs (University of Massachusetts Press, $26.95, 9781558497054/1558497056), argues that conventional wisdom about widespread drug use by soldiers during the Vietnam War is wrong. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

6 a.m. Book TV features coverage of the National Book Critics Circle Awards ceremony in New York City earlier this month. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m.)


New Moon DVD Takes a Big Weekend Sales Bite

Last weekend's DVD release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, based on Stephenie Meyer's bestselling vampire series, produced impressive sales numbers, with 4 million units sold, compared to 3.8 million units during the weekend bow of its predecessor, Twilight.

Variety reported that New Moon was helped by "Summit's strategy of holding midnight launch events across the country at 7,000 retail outlets, as well as viewing parties, which drove up interest in the title." Also credited with influencing the numbers was the weekend DVD release rather than a traditional Tuesday launch. 


Movies: The Emperor's Children

Imagine Entertainment has chosen Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) to direct The Emperor's Children, based on the novel by Claire Messud. The Wrap reported that Baumbach, who adapted the book, is "sliding into the position that had previously been held by Ron Howard, who will now produce with partner Brian Grazer." Keira Knightley, Eric Bana and Richard Gere "are attached to the film," which may begin shooting this summer.


Books & Authors

Awards: Bisto Children's Book of the Year

The shortlist for the 2010 Children's Books Ireland Bisto Children's Book of the Year Awards:

An Gréasaí Bróg agus na Sióga by Catríona Hastings and Andrew Whitson
Chalkline by Jane Mitchell
Colm and the Lazarus Key by Kieran Mark Crowley
Gluaiseacht by Alan Titley
Lincoln and his Boys by P.J. Lynch
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
The Eyeball Collector by F.E. Higgins
The Gates by John Connolly
The Third Pig Detective Agency by Bob Burke
There by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

The winner will be announced May 24 in Dublin.


Book Review

Book Review: Cut Away

Cut Away by Catherine Kirkwood (Arktoi, $16.95 Paperback, 9780980040791, April 2010)

While slim, Catherine Kirkwood's debut novel (published by Arktoi Books, a new imprint of Red Hen Press dedicated to publishing works by lesbian authors) reads like a much longer work in terms of its thematic scope and intricate character development. Set in Los Angeles and the Salton Sea, Kirkwood's parched and illusory outer landscapes reflect perfectly the emotional aridity and confusion that permeate the inner lives of the characters in her story.
The disappearance of a teenage girl, Olivia, is the key event upon which the plot centers, but it is far less important than the interactions among the people whose lives Olivia has touched in some way. Alexandra, a transvestite who lives an isolated existence in a double-wide trailer on the edge of the Salton Sea, spent a little time with Olivia after the girl ran away from her Los Angeles home and briefly set up camp in the desert. Eleanor, a successful, lonely plastic surgeon who saw Olivia in her Los Angeles office for a brief consultation right before the girl vanished, follows the trail to Alexandra's door. Dissatisfied to the point of distraction and on the verge of losing half her net worth to her ex-partner, Clarissa, Eleanor is fascinated with Alexandra--and Alexandra's refusal to have gender reassignment surgery. Ultimately, Eleanor invites Alexandra to come and stay at her large, empty home in Los Angeles and the two forge an intimate but not entirely comfortable friendship. Both Eleanor and Alexandra are visited--separately--by a mysterious woman, Asa, whose connection to Olivia is much more complicated than it seems and whose identities are layered and constantly shifting.
Kirkwood has stated that her intent with Cut Away was to investigate "whether identity resides in the body and whether changing the body changes our identities"; her novel poses these questions artfully and with great feeling. Although gender and sexual identity play large roles here, they are not the only ones the story looks at. Motherhood, friendship and beauty are all ways in which these characters forge and mold their identities and Kirkwood explores these with subtlety and sensitivity.
Kirkwood's writing is precise and poetic--at times languorous--as the novel builds piece by piece in alternating points of view. As more information is revealed, however, the tension rises and Kirkwood does a skillful job of building psychological suspense. This is an intriguing, provocative and intelligent novel that makes the most of its abbreviated length and will appeal to a broad audience. --Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: An involving, compact and literary first novel that raises interesting questions about identity and the body.


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 21:

Hardcover Fiction

1. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
4. The Pallbearers by Stephen J. Cannell
5. The Privileges by Jonathan Dee

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
2. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
3. Courage and Consequence by Karl Rove
4. Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin
5. The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose

Paperback Fiction

1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
3. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
5. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Paperback Nonfiction

1. What's New Cupcake by Karen Tack
2. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
3. How We Decide by Jonah Lerner
4. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


1. Wimpy Kid the Movie by Jeff Kinney
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
3. Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt by Patricia MacLachlan
4. My Garden by Kevin Henkes
5. Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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 bookstores and Carl Lennertz!]

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