Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 7, 2010

Atria Books:  Spirit Crossing (Cork O'Connor Mystery #20) by William Kent Krueger

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Other Press (NY): Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

Delacorte Press: The Midnight Game by Cynthia Murphy

Quotation of the Day

Giving Someone a Book Has 'Undeniable, Totemic Power'

"Of course, you don't have to buy a book to read it, but the act of giving someone a book of his or her own has an undeniable, totemic power. As much as we love libraries, there is something in possessing a book that's significantly different from borrowing it, especially for a child. You can write your name in it and keep it always. It transforms you into the kind of person who owns books, a member of the club, as well as part of a family that has them around the house. You're no longer just a visitor to the realm of the written word: You've got a passport."

--Laura Miller in her Salon essay, "Book owners have smarter kids."


Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request


Notes: Bree Tanner Sales Eclipsed?; Paris's Bookstore Plan

Bookstores in North America and U.K. held midnight parties and Saturday parties this past weekend for The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer. (See an unusual bookstore delivery method as depicted in the Telegraph.) Meyer recommended fans read the book before the film version of Eclipse appears June 30.

Anecdotal evidence pointed to slow sales in indies of the book, particularly compared to the Twilight series from which it was spun off. Undoubtedly sales were hurt because the book is available for reading online free beginning today and lasting through July 5.


Speaking of which, here is a trailer for Eclipse, unveiled at the MTV Movie Awards last night (via Deadline Holiday). The Awards also aired a trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


Unusual news these days: on June 10, Borders is opening a 24,479-sq.-ft. store in Dedham, Mass., in the Legacy Place lifestyle complex. Grand opening celebrations are planned for the weekend of June 25-27.

Among other highlights, the store has a Seattle's Best Coffee cafe with free wi-fi, a Paperchase stationery shop, a Borders Teaching Zone for educators and a Borders Ink teen shop.


The first pick of Salon's new Reading Club is The Passage by Justin Cronin, "an apocalyptic epic with heart."


The New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Council's spring top 10 recommended middle grade and YA fiction titles can be found here.


Book trailer of the day: Termite Parade by Joshua Mohr (Two Dollar Radio), which steps off July 1.


Two thoughtful newspaper articles examine the effect of the electronic age and the Internet on how people think and read. On the front page of today's New York Times, a story called "Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price" includes this quick bit of information: "Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.

"These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement--a dopamine squirt--that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored."

As a kind of prelude to the Printers Row Lit Fest, the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Many people, regardless of age, are feeling nostalgic these days for book culture. It's a sort of prenostalgia, really, because books are still here--but their days seem numbered. Or do they?"

The paper quotes Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, just published by Norton: "The Net is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I'm online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."

The Tribune continued: "The greatest loss, Carr says, is the ability to engage with a book, to read deeply. We have become a culture of 'chronic scatterbrains.' "


Paris enacted a planning strategy that "has commissioned town planners to scout for premises in the fifth arrondissement that would make suitable bookshops or small publishing houses and cultural venues. The aim: to reverse a worrying trend which from 2000 to 2008 saw the number of cherished librairies drop by 231 to 137," the Guardian reported.

"The Latin Quarter remains the place in France with the highest density of literary and intellectual education, production and publication... Yet the presence of bookshops in the Latin Quarter is now under threat," said the city hall in a mission statement. "Independent bookshops find themselves faced with competition from new forms of selling, like supermarkets and the Internet."

Mayor Bertrand Delanoë observed: "We are one of the cities in the world with the biggest number of local shops, and these local shops are the economy, employment, but it's also a way of living."


Summer reading recommendations continue to appear, but the Tennessean offered a twist on the perennial theme, suggesting readers "stroll used bookstores for a summer reading list... Not only do you get a great price--usually about half of retail--but it's also a wonderful way to build a library for yourself or your children." Several Nashville area used bookshops were listed to assist customers with their strolls.


To celebrate the launch of the HarperWeekend imprint by HarperCollinsCanada, the Globe & Mail featured "four short essays about the magic of Saturday, Sunday and good reading material."


"Prep for the World Cup with these books about soccer," the Vancouver Sun advised.


Shanghai Press and Publishing Development Company, which publishes English-language books about China, will be distributed in North America by Tuttle Publishing. Tuttle will also distribute some Shanghai Press titles in the U.K., Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and South America.

Shanghai's books are aimed at providing overseas readers a deeper understanding of China and its people and should appeal to both experts and non-experts. Among the 50 titles available this fall are A Dream of Red Mansions, paintings from the Qing Dynasty based on the classic Chinese novel; the Discovering China Series, which comprises titles on calligraphy, flowers, painting, tea and the ceramics of China; and modern Chinese literature, including Stories From Contemporary China, featuring three Shanghai writers.

GLOW: Blue Box Press: In the Air Tonight by Marie Force

Obituary: Coach Wooden, Whose Last Book Publishes in July

Besides being one of the most successful basketball coaches ever, winning 10 national titles in 12 years for UCLA, John Wooden, who died Friday at age 99, was a prolific author whose books aimed to spread his philosophy of life, a practical, wise approach that included the concept of the pyramid of success and such widely quoted aphorisms as these (there are many more):

"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

"Be quick but don't hurry."

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

"Listen if you want to be heard."

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

His titles, many published by McGraw-Hill, have sold more than a million copies and include Wooden (1997), My Personal Best (2004), They Call Me Coach (2004), Wooden on Leadership (2005), The Essential Wooden (2007) and Coach Wooden's Leadership Game Plan for Success (2009).

McGraw-Hill had planned to publish Wooden's final book, a commemoration of his life, The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith, and Friends, written with Steve Jamison, on the author's 100th birthday, October 14. But because of his death, publication is being moved up to early next month. McGraw-Hill's Lydia Rinaldi noted, "Though physically frail, he was mentally alert and personally reviewed the final layout, text and pictures about a month ago."

The New York Times has an extensive obituary of Coach Wooden.

Carolrhoda Lab (R): They Thought They Buried Us by Nonieqa Ramos

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Go Team Orange!'

Last Wednesday, Kathy Patrick, owner of Beauty and the Book, Jefferson, Tex., announced on her Facebook page that the "current shade of my hair is Chi color 5RR. Want to see it go from red to orange!? Buy [My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change by Sam Bracken]. If 1,000 copies sell the month of June, me and Lucille Ball will have the same hair color! I have signed first edition copies at my shop too, limited supply, 903-665-7520!"

By Friday, Kathy had raised the handselling stakes for My Orange Duffel Bag "because I believe in this book so much! Well today I sold out of the copies in my shop, so I decided I would add an orange streak.... Sam Bracken, the author, has now stated he will color his hair orange too so follow along as we transform our color right before your eyes and read this memoir that most certainly inspires us all to 'Pay it forward!' Go Team Orange!"


BEA: E-Books and Authors

"Are E-books Good for Authors?" was the question posed to an industry panel at BEA, moderated by Simon Lipskar, an agent with Writers House. The most succinct answer came from Charlie Redmayne, chief digital officer at HarperCollins: "Whether or not they're good for authors, they're here to stay."
"I believe e-books are good for authors because they'll grow the market," Redmayne said, noting the "sheer scale" of the expanded marketplace gives e-book publishers "access to 200 million readers worldwide."
But every author knows that access to readers doesn't necessarily convert into sales, and every wordsmith understands good is a relative term.
In an impassioned delivery, agent Brian DeFiore said that publishers will begin to realize enormous production and distribution savings as e-books take a larger segment of the market, and that given the present author contractual model, the percentage split of revenue is going to tilt "dramatically in favor of publishers."
"This industry is about the author and the author's words," DeFiore said. "We need to figure out what is a viable and equitable way for authors to be compensated."
But Stephan Baker, the lone author at the table and a former Business Week reporter whose book The Numerati (Mariner Books, 2009) analyzes the trend and mathematical impact of the digitization of data and life, said he's not particularly concerned with the e-book revenue split. "I want a great editor and I want marketing and I want Google placement" in the search-engine world, he said.
For Dominique Raccah, founder and head of Sourcebooks, the e-book represents the arrival of the next frontier--one that is exciting, costly and time-consuming, and comes with the challenge of balancing what she calls the "risk-reward-investment equation."
Against a backdrop of dense flow-chart illustrations, Raccah said there are at least 30 steps necessary to convert print books to e-books, and "a minimum of 70 steps" are now replacing the old production model. "Publishing in the future is going to be about the boring stuff," she said. "We're experiencing an explosion in the amount of work we have to do."
Madeline McIntosh, who late last year rejoined Random House as president of sales, operations and digital after 18 months as Amazon's director of Kindle content acquisition for Europe, took perhaps the broadest and most practical view of e-books. While the role of the publisher--bringing together writers and readers--has not changed and "the digital book is just one more element in the publishing package," McIntosh said, "editorial and marketing remain the two most important activities." To this end, she continued, publishers are and should be putting more resources into online marketing rather than store placement and other traditional sales/promotion outlets.
The panelists agreed on the ever-accelerating speed of the book industry, the ease with which e-books allow authors' words to reach consumers and the need for new skills to meet the changing delivery system and buyer trends. And Redmayne summed up the pros of e-book publishing in words that are music to any author's ears: with an e-book, he said, a title is never out of stock.--Laurie Lico Albanese, who is co-author of The Miracles of Prato and author of Blue Suburbia and Lynelle by the Sea.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Justin Cronin on The Passage

This morning on Good Morning America: Doris Buffett, subject of Giving It All Away: The Doris Buffett Story by Michael Zitz with an introduction by Warren Buffett (Permanent Press, $28, 9781579622091/1579622097). She also appears today on Nightline and tomorrow on CNN's American Morning and the Closing Bell on Fox Business.

Also on GMA: Patrick McEnroe, author of Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches (Hyperion, $25.99, 9781401323813/1401323812).


This morning on the Today Show: Anthony Bourdain, author of Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061718946/0061718947).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Michael Hiltzik, author of Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century (Free Press, $30, 9781416532163/1416532161).


Today on NPR's Takeaway: Chuck Barris, author of Della: A Memoir of My Daughter (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439167991/1439167990).


Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061176043/0061176044).


Today on E!'s Chelsea Lately: Heather McDonald, author of You'll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again: One Woman's Painfully Funny Quest to Give It Up (Touchstone, $15, 9781439176283/1439176280).


Today on Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Samantha Bee, author of I Know I Am, but What Are You (Gallery, $25, 9781439142738/1439142734). She also on CNN's Campbell Brown tomorrow.


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439101193/1439101191). He will also appear today on MSNBC Live and the Joy Behar Show.


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Justin Cronin, author of The Passage (Ballantine, $27, 9780345504968/0345504968).


Tomorrow morning on CNN's American Morning: David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439102114/1439102112). He will also appear tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition.


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Louis Gossett Jr., author of An Actor and a Gentleman (Wiley, $26.95, 9780470574713/0470574712).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Christopher Hitchens, author of Hitch-22: A Memoir (Twelve, $26.99, 9780446540339/0446540331).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Mark Frauenfelder, author of Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World (Portfolio Hardcover, $25.95, 9781591843320/1591843324).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: John Waters, author of Role Models (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374251475/0374251479).

Movies: Dracula Rises Again in Fangland

John Carpenter will direct Fangland, an updated version of Bram Stoker's Dracula "based on the 2007 novel by former 60 Minutes producer John Marks. It's centered on a New York-based producer who travels to Romania for an interview with a notorious European arms dealer, who turns out to be a modern-day Dracula," Variety reported. Mark Wheaton (Friday the 13th) wrote the screenplay.


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:


Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525950776/052595077X). "This ripping sequel to Interred with Their Bones sends intrepid Shakespeare scholar Kate Stanley to Scotland on another Bard-haunted hunt: Someone has found the lost original of Macbeth, someone else has killed for it, and everyone in the stolen manuscript's path fears its curse. Witchcraft, history, legends, and modern-day literary sleuthing all play their parts in this smart, cliff-hanging thrill ride."--Mark David Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Jeff Guidry (Morrow, $21.99, 9780061826740/006182674X). "An Eagle Named Freedom is a first-person account of a volunteer working in an animal rehabilitation center who nurses an eaglet, who will never be able to fly because of serious injuries to his wing, back to health, and their special bond--one that will later support him in his own journey back to health from a life-threatening illness."--Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn.


The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain (Mira, $13.95, 9780778328537/0778328538). "Diane Chamberlain once more shows herself to be the mistress of family secrets! In this novel, two sisters are bound by a harrowing past, which took the lives of their parents. A full-throttle gothic, with a twisting plot sparked with the healing power of love and the strength of family, in all its forms."--Eileen Charbonneau, Merritt Books, Millbrook, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12

The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer (Philomel, $14.99, 9780399252365/0399252363). "Enola's most dangerous case yet! Enola is looking for a missing noblewoman and, at the same time, her brothers are looking for her. Sherlock has received a letter from their mother that only Enola can open. The siblings must work together to bring the mysteries of both missing ladies to a close. This is Enola Holmes at her best!"--Sara Glassman, Little Professor Book Center, Homewood, Ala.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Awards: CBHL Literature Winners

The 11th annual literature awards of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, which honor "significant contributions to the literature of botany and horticulture," went to:

General interest: The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf (Knopf).
Technical: Ireland's Wild Orchids: a Field Guide by Brendan Sayers and Susan Sex (self-published).

Book Review

Book Review: Blind Descent

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James Tabor (Random House, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781400067671, June 2010)


There are many reasons to recommend Blind Descent, James Tabor's excellent account of supercave exploration, but it is worth noting, too, that readers (such as this one) with even a mild case of claustrophobia will find this book a highly effective lesson in aversion therapy. Simply put, it is terrifying, thrilling and impossible to put down.
Deep cave exploration, as Tabor points out, is in a sense the last frontier of human discovery. Man has reached the poles, the deepest oceans, the highest peaks and beyond, into space, but we have not yet stood in the depths of Earth's innermost cavern. It turns out there are several very good reasons why this is so, and Tabor describes them all in horrifying detail. There are the obvious dangers; falling, for example, or exposure to deadly microbes (the Ebola virus evolved in a supercave) and sudden burial, but there are also far greater risks and peril to one's psyche and many slower and more painful ways to die in a cave. Yet, human nature being what it is, where there exists a seemingly impenetrable barrier there will be people who will try to break it down. Tabor focuses on two of those people: the brash, alpha male, win-at-all-costs American Bill Stone and his much milder but no less determined Ukrainian counterpart, Alexander Klimchouk, and their race to the bottom of the world.
Though caves are found throughout the planet, the deepest supercaves are located in Mexico (Cheve and Huautla) and in the Abkhazia region of the Republic of Georgia (Krubera). Both Stone and Klimchouk have led several expeditions over the course of decades through each cave, searching and vying for the greatest depths. The challenges have been legion, from dissent and death among team members to hostility from local governments; then, of course, there are the caves themselves. Tabor's narrative is brilliant in its creation of a visceral you-are-here perspective of the subterranean world, encompassing everything from the hallucinations caused by a total lack of light to the loud rush of underground waterfalls, the suffocating panic caused by cave diving (which has to be one of the most insanely claustrophobic experiences possible) and the knowledge that if anything goes wrong (and there are so many things that can), rescue is near impossible. And then there is the trip back to the surface--in many ways, more perilous than the journey down.
There are more subtle themes at play in Blind Descent (evident in the ultimate fates and achievements of Stone and Klimchouk) and these, too, are delivered with suspense and skill. It's altogether a superior and utterly fascinating read--just make sure to leave the lights on.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: A fascinating and very well-written account of extreme supercave exploration and the complex individuals who have found their way into the earth's hidden depths.

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