Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 25, 2010

Ten Speed Press: Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau - An approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people!

Etch/Clarion Books: The Heist Age, 2 (Dinomighty!) by Doug Paleo, illustrated by Aaron Blecha

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

Red Lightning Books: Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams by Anthony Ianni and Rob Keast

Atheneum Books: Out of My Heart by Sharon M Draper


Image of the Day: Summertime

On Monday night, Book Works, Del Mar, Calif., marked the summer solstice with a Celebrate Summer with Claire Cook party. Cook spoke about and signed copies of her new novel, Seven Year Switch (Voice), and the crowd enjoyed summer refreshments. Events coordinator Jenn Chinn called it the most "enthusiastic" audience she'd ever seen. Enjoying summer: (from l.) Chinn; Book Works owner Lisa Stefanacci; Claire Cook; and Book Works bookseller Joanna Poceta.



House of Anansi Press: Speed of Mercy by Christy-Ann Conlin

Notes: IndieBound Down Under; Instant E-Book

The Australian Booksellers Association (OzBA) plans to launch an Australian IndieBound program and will make the official announcement at its booksellers conference in Brisbane, July 11-13. Bookselling This Week reported that "under the new arrangement, the Australian Booksellers Association will license for its members' use certain IndieBound designs, collateral, and marketing materials. ABA will also be creating a customized version of the Bookseller DIY."

"I think it's very encouraging to see booksellers working collaboratively across borders to support independent book retailing," said OzBA CEO Joel Becker, adding that he hopes Australian indie booksellers can "replicate the passion and enthusiasm" American indies have for IndieBound.

"We're delighted to collaborate with our Australian colleagues to highlight the value of independent booksellers to vibrant local communities," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "IndieBound's message is universal, and we look forward to seeing how independent Australian booksellers use IndieBound materials within their own unique businesses."


When Ann Lacefield, owner of An Open Book, Greeley, Colo., reached out to her customers for help this spring, they responded. The Tribune reported that she "made it through Christmas and scraped by this spring, but it seemed like her property tax bill was the final blow. She simply could not pay the $5,000 that was due. She spoke about her situation with a few of her best customers. She was surprised, even overwhelmed, by their response."

"We asked her, 'What can we do to help?' " said customer Kay Broderius. "That little store is just a treasure for book lovers. I'd be very sad if she had to close it down." Lacefield was advised to "ask for help in the newsletter she sends out. She asked for donations to help pay the property taxes," the Tribune wrote.

"But it wasn't an ad," said Broderius. "She asked the people who care. It was not a handout. It was a hand up."

"I think this community owns this bookstore now," said Lacefield.


"It's a very, very special little store," Jill Curcio told Bookselling This Week in a profile of Linden Tree Children's Recordings & Books, Los Altos, Calif. Curcio and Dianne Edmonds bought the business from Dennis and Linda Ronberg in May, and "have been busy rebuilding the inventory, which had been shrinking when the store's closing seemed likely," BTW reported.

Curcio cited the community's support as an inspiration: "The outpouring of gratitude has been really great. For a child to come up to you and say thank you is really motivating.”"


In his blog post at, Rich Rennicks of Unbridled Books and Malaprops Bookstore considered the challenge of de-cluttering his book life: "I began organizing our books on the shelves by interest areas--previously I had no organizing factor.... This whole de-cluttering kick helped me understand where my interests now lie and where they might take me--we keep learning and growing in real time, but sometimes our mental image of ourselves, the one-line bio we assign ourselves in our heads, can't keep up with our rate of growth or our changing focus."


Today, Simon & Schuster releases Truman Fires MacArthur, an "instant e-book" based upon David McCullough’s account of the showdown between President Harry S. Truman and General Douglas MacArthur. Excerpted from McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, the e-book depicts a conflict that parallels the challenges President Obama has faced with his top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.
"This is a perfect example of how a classic work of history can be vitally relevant to the moment," said Jonathan Karp, executive v-p, publisher at S&S.

--- has launched a new iPhone app, which allows users to "check-in" to various media--books, movies, TV shows, video games, music--and these check-ins are shared via the app with friends and the GetGlue community.

Users can also earn digital stickers that qualify them for rewards. Currently GetGlue has partnered with several brands in the book world, including Random House, Harper, Hachette and Simon & Schuster. A partnership with IndieBound allows users to earn the sticker--called The Bookseller--by checking-in to two titles from the Indie Next List in the month they are chosen.


Obituary note: Mexican writer Carlos Monsiváis, who "was often interviewed surrounded by the mountains of books and papers that filled his home," died June 19, the Guardian reported. He was 72.


Jennie Rooney, author of The Opposite of Falling, selected her " top-10 women travelers in fiction" for the Guardian."


"Gay characters are finding acceptance in literature for young adults," the Christian Science Monitor observed, adding, "Not too long ago teen novels featuring gay characters were an uncomfortable topic for many school librarians and booksellers--to say the least. But today--following in the wake of television and movie acceptance of such characters--it's a very different story."


Taiwanese bookstore chain Eslite Bookstore will open its first store on the Chinese mainland at Suzhou Industrial Park in 2014, China Retail News reported.


National Book Network has launched an international sales and distribution division that begins with the appointment of Peter Ward Book Exports to represent all NBN clients to the Middle East.

NBN managing director and international sales director Les Petriw commented: "NBN has been selling in Canada, the U.K., Europe, Australia and New Zealand for a number of years now successfully, and we intend to expand to the Far East, South Africa and Mexico, Central America and South America over the next year as well."


Coffee House Press has made the following changes:

Effective in August, Jessica Deutsch is joining the staff as marketing and sales director. She has been marketing and publicity manager at Milkweed Editions.

Anitra Budd has been promoted to managing editor. She returned to the house last December as editorial assistant after an eight-year absence, during which she has been a freelance editor, a writer at the University of Minnesota and an associate editor at Search Institute.

Andrea Satter has joined the company as new development manager. She was formerly development director for Free Arts Minnesota.


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

Coop Tour: The Finale

Michael Perry, author of Coop, reports from his road trip:

I began the day by realizing that when I checked out of the Super 8 Motel in Brattleboro, Vt., I somehow managed to leave one of my bags sitting right in the middle of the lobby. I put it down just long enough to collect the receipt from the clerk, an exchange that transpired over the course of roughly 5.7 seconds, and yet was sufficient to de-magnetize that tattered portion of my brain in charge of tracking incidental luggage. Turning on my heel, I strode purposefully onward, and not until early this morning in Massachusetts did the loss register. The bag contained mostly miscellaneous tinned foodstuffs (book tour economy!) and perhaps some dirty gray socks (not gray because they are dirty, but rather gray because all of my socks are gray) (gray socks are a central component of my celebrated Unified Laundry Theory, explained on page 145 of Truck: A Love Story) so I believe I got off light. On the first leg of the tour I left a bag of clothes in a motel outside Milwaukee. I am the Johnny Appleseed of laundry.

I was flatly caught off-guard at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H., when I walked in the door and found roughly 60 people staring back at me. When one wanders as far from home as I have on this tour, one is deeply grateful to find even a single stranger waiting. Sixty is high clover. And tonight at Porter Square Books in Cambridge--despite storm warnings--there were more seats filled than empty.

You will hear authors kvetch about poor turnouts at readings, but my frequently repeated rule is this: two or 200, they all get the same show. High attendance is a desirable thrill, but in truth the reading is primarily a peg upon which to hang radio interviews, newspaper pieces, face-to-face interaction with booksellers, rotation of the book to more desirable shelf space, and that nice little two-week sales bounce commonly seen in the wake of a reading. Of course, the more people at a reading, the merrier, but my expectations were tempered by reality long ago, and whenever I encounter an author downhearted by low attendance, I share my Memphis story.

It began in Nashville. Population 485 tour. More than 30 people showed up. For little old me, in big ol' Nashville! As I set out for Memphis that evening, I admit I allowed myself high hopes. The Mike Train, I thought to myself, is rolling.

Memphis. The following night. Reading is at 7 p.m. I get to the bookstore at 6:45 p.m. I peek over the stacks to where the reading will be held. Rows of chairs set up by a fireplace. And already--a full 15 minutes before the reading--there are eight people in the chairs. Extrapolating from these early arrivers, I figure we're looking at 20 people by reading time, easy.

Just then the manager's voice comes over the P.A. system. "Ladies and gentlemen, author Michael Perry will be here to read from his new book Population 485 this evening at 7 p.m. If you would like to hear Mr. Perry, please join us in the chairs over by the fireplace."

All eight people exchange confused and startled glances, then bolt from the chairs.

No one else came and sat down. So not only have I had a reading where no one showed up, I have had people flee when they heard I was coming.

Normally a combination of Midwestern politeness and good business sense would preclude me from choosing a favorite moment from this tour, but not this time. Today I had lunch with several booksellers, Steve Fischer of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and HarperCollins sales rep Anne DeCourcey. Just before we took our table, Anne said she had a surprise guest. A smiling, elegant woman appeared at my left elbow. "Do you know who this is?" Anne asked. I did not. I was riffling through my cerebral Rolodex (remember, much de-magnetization), when I realized:

This had to be my editor, Jennifer Barth!

Coop simply would not exist if not for Jennifer Barth. That book nearly whupped me. The details are mundane, but I never have been so derailed on a project as I was with that one. And as this was my first book with Jennifer as my editor, I was especially self-conscious about my muddling. More than once I dialed the phone with hesitant fingers. More than once I hung up before it rang. But always, always, the voice on the other end was calm, collected and encouraging. Similarly, Jennifer's editing was always clear and firm but deeply thoughtful. Exactly what I needed. (I say this despite the fact that she excised the term "snot rocket" from the final draft of My Art. "You're the boss," I said, "but it's literature's loss.") (She gave me a gift, actually: The "snot rocket" anecdote has become a favorite set piece at my readings.)

I am not a guy who spends a lot of time burning up the phone lines to my editors. I figure my job is clearly defined and I should do it, then hand my stuff over and let them do theirs. But by the time we finished Coop, I felt like Jennifer Barth had talked me safely through a dark, endless, soggy culvert of doubt.

And yet we had never met.

I'm sitting here trying not to go all Hallmark. This publishing, this bookselling, this touring... it's a business.  Somewhere a buck must be turned or we all go home. Editors, sales reps, booksellers, writers... readers. But we're all on scene because we love words in a row. Just over 20 years ago I decided to leap into writing with only a nursing license to break my fall. I did not have a clue. But I was so hungry to write. The rest of the story takes two decades to tell. But here tonight, blear-eyeing my final dispatch in one last hotel room, I'm grasping for a way to convey my gratitude. When an editor like Jennifer Barth shepherds me, when a sales rep finds an extra 30 seconds for the pitch, when a bookseller handsells, when a reader reads a book and talks about it... they are taking care of business, but they are also taking care of my family.

So thank you to the folks who arranged for Jennifer's visit. I think the closest I can come to conveying what I felt upon seeing her is to ask you to imagine an unshaven, slightly humid gap-toothed lunkhead who suddenly realizes that he--of all people--has a fairy godmother, and she is STANDING RIGHT THERE! Neato.

Tomorrow, the airport, and home. To my beloved daughters, my beloved wife. And the chickens, of course.  But also to the keyboard in my little room above the garage, where I will get back to typing in the hopes that some time not so far from now we can do this all again.

With gratitude,



Bloomsbury Continuum: Making Nice by Ferdinand Mount

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mike Birbiglia on NPR's This American Life

Tonight on Entertainment Tonight: Randy Schmidt, author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (Chicago Review Press, $26.95, 9781556529764/1556529767).


Tomorrow on NPR's This American Life: Mike Birbiglia, author of Sleepwalk with Me: And Other Painfully True Stories (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781439157992/1439157995), which appears in October.


Television: Book Options vs. Recessionary Times

Random House Children’s Screen Entertainment has optioned Fish-Head Steve by Jamie Smart; the Gargoyles series by Jan Burchett and Sara Vogler: the Charlie Small series by Nick Ward; and the Princess Poppy books by Janey Louise Jones," reported, adding that "RHCSE made its first move in February, taking media rights to Monster Republic by Ben Horton. Financier Komixx Media Group says it’s on track to raise $100 million to fund RHCSE programming."

The four new projects "are being developed for TV animation or CGI, apart from Charlie Small, which may be developed as a film," according to, which observed that the "great thing about books in these recessionary, risk-averse times is that they’re brands with audiences already built in. It makes them that bit easier to sell."


Movies: Horrid Henry; Wimpy Kid Sequel; We Bought a Zoo

Vertigo Films and Novel Entertainment will produce a 3D live-action movie based on Francesca Simon’s bestselling Horrid Henry children’s chapter book series, which is published by Sourcebooks in the U.S. Nick Moore (Wild Child) will direct. Casting has begun, with filming scheduled to take place during October and November this year. The film will be shot on location in the U.K., and is slated for release in 2011.

Lucinda Whiteley, co-producer for Novel Entertainment and the movie's screenwriter, said, "We’re delighted to be bringing Henry to life, in the truest sense of the word--for so many kids Henry already exists, but seeing him up on the big screen gives them the chance to meet their hero face to face."


Animation director David Bowers will direct the live action sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Roderick Rules, based on the book series by Jeff Kinney (Fox 2000 has mysteriously added an "e" to Rodrick's name). The cast again includes Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Fox 2000 is moving fast on the sequel, hoping to capitalize on the slow-burn success of the first movie, which opened March 19 and went on to gross almost $64 million domestically. The movie was made for a modest $15 million and Fox 2000 is making the sequel for the same amount."

Bowers takes over the director's chair from Thor Freudenthal, who helmed the first movie but chose not to return.

Matt Damon is in talks for the lead role in Cameron Crowe's film We Bought a Zoo, adapted from a memoir by Benjamin Mee. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the movie "would mark a departure for Damon, who tends to make more dramatic or action-oriented thriller. Zoo, with its blend of animals and heartstrings, may occupy similar terrain to Fox's 2008 Marley & Me. And with the input of Crowe, making his first movie since 2005's Elizabethtown, the movie could end up juggling light moments with drama like the helmer's Jerry Maguire."


Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Medal; WNBA Award

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won the U.K.'s prestigious CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's fiction, the Guardian reported.

"It's particularly fantastic for me because it was the first literary prize I was ever aware of as a kid," said Gaiman. "When I was seven I got the Narnia books for my birthday. I had read a couple before, but I got the box set, and I got to The Last Battle and it said winner of the Carnegie medal. I thought wow. It was a couple of years later that I bought A Wrinkle in Time and became aware of the Newbery. They are the first literary awards of any kind I was ever aware of and I've got both of them--it's amazing. When I won the Hugo my 14-year-old self exulted, but if you can make yourself aged seven happy, you're really doing well--it's like writing a letter to yourself aged seven."

The Graveyard Book's illustrator, Chris Riddell, was also shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway medal for outstanding illustration, "but narrowly missed out to Australian illustrator Freya Blackwood for Harry & Hopper," the Guardian wrote.


Masha Hamilton has been named this year's recipient of the Women's National Book Association WNBA Award, which is presented to "a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and allied arts, and who has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation."

Hamilton is a novelist and former foreign correspondent. Her fiction includes 31 Hours and The Camel Bookmobile. As a journalist, Masha worked for the Associated Press, reporting from the Middle East, and for the Los Angeles Times and NBC/Mutual Radio, reporting on the Soviet Union during its final years.

In 2009, she launched the Afghan Women’s Writing Project "to foster creative and intellectual exchange between Afghan women writers and American women authors and teachers."

WNBA president Mary Grey James praised "the depth of Masha’s commitment to the world of literacy and books beyond her own career. She is a sterling example of what the WNBA Award truly intends to honor--meritorious work in the world of books beyond her profession."


Book Brahmin: Belle Boggs

Belle Boggs grew up in rural Virginia and is a writer and teacher. Mattaponi Queen, her first book, won the 2009 Bakeless Prize in Fiction; Graywolf is publishing it this month. Stories from the collection have appeared in the Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Five Chapters, storySouth and At Length. She lives in Chatham County, N.C.

On your nightstand now:

Q Road by Bonnie Jo Campbell, The Known World by Edward P. Jones (rereading slowly), Third Mind: Creative Writing Through Visual Art (a book of essays from Teachers and Writers Collaborative), Coming Out of the Woods by Wallace Kaufman (about a 1970s "hippie town" development near my house in Chatham County), Man of Constant Sorrow by Dr. Ralph Stanley, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. My grandmother gave me a beautiful leatherbound edition that I read and reread, and my mom would tell me about how she and her cousins would act out the scenes when she was little. I didn't have any girl cousins nearby, but I did have a complete set of Little Women Madame Alexander dolls.

Your top five authors:

Edward P. Jones, Flannery O'Connor, Richard Yates, William Maxwell and Alice Munro.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. My best friend in elementary school was an expert on this book, and was always using it to predict people's damnation (including mine). With my minimal knowledge, I tried to rebut her claims and predictions.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I'm always telling people they should read The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, but a lot of people are put off by the length. My personal goal is to entice a high school student to read it next year.
Book you've bought for the cover:

I am an admirer of book covers, but I don't think I've bought a book for only that reason. I did buy Barry Moser's The Holy Bible for the pictures.
Book that changed your life:

I read Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family the year before I joined the New York City Teaching Fellows program.
Favorite line from a book:

"First, try to be something, anything, else." --from "How to Become a Writer" by Lorrie Moore, in Self-Help
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell. It's just a perfect book.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Ask Me Why I'm Writing About the NBA

We don't have a sports section at Shelf Awareness, but I'm creating a temporary one this week to acknowledge a notable moment in the history of books and sport. Last Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers won the championship of the National Basketball Association.

You may or may not know this already. You may or may not care. And if you're a stickler for details, as we book people tend to be, you might even wonder how a team from the desert landscape of Southern California ended up with a name like the Lakers. Just to clarify that one, the team moved from Minneapolis in 1960.

So why, you ask, am I writing about basketball in a column devoted to the book trade?

Because the Lakers coach, Phil Jackson, has now won 11 NBA championships? No.

Because he has studied Zen Buddhism and Lakota spirituality and incorporates teachings from both in his life and work? No.

Because, as the widely acknowledged Zen master of the NBA, he is capable of statements like this one--"I've made up my mind I'm leaning towards retiring, but I haven't made up my mind."--which he fed this week to a national media speculating breathlessly about his possible retirement? No.

What makes Jackson's latest accomplishment resonate with me is his personal relationship with the world of books. He writes, he reads and, best of all, he recommends books. For example, it has long been a Jacksonian tradition to distribute reading material to each of his players. This season, his choices for a long January road trip were: 

Ron Artest: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
Shannon Brown: Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
Kobe Bryant: Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
Andrew Bynum: Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley
Jordan Farmar: Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
Derek Fisher: Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Pau Gasol: 2666 by Roberto Bolano
DJ Mbenga: Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member by Sanyika Shakur
Adam Morrison: Che: a Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
Lamar Odom: The Right Mistake by Walter Mosley
Josh Powell: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Sasha Vujacic: Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
Luke Walton: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

"You know, I handpick the books for the players, so they’re individually selected," Jackson told the Orange County Register earlier this month. "Some players that are new on the team I may give them a book about the offense or a book, something to do with our basketball team. But for players that I know, and I get to know players before I do that, I give them something that’s information for them. Pau Gasol, I gave him a book about Barcelona, adventure story about Barcelona. Kobe Bryant, I gave him a book about my home state, where I grew up in eastern Montana. Derek Fisher, I gave him Soul On Ice. It’s a book that made a big difference to me when I was a young man growing up in the '70s and the late '60s. So a variety of books depending on who people are and what I think they might be interested in reading."

Gasol talked about the 912-page Bolano novel on Jimmie Kimmel Live.

When Shaquille O'Neal was with the Lakers several years ago, Jackson gave him Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf and Siddhartha. In the OC Register, Jackson recalled how O'Neal "used to take the thing as seriously as anybody, writing reports on the books--usually philosophical in nature--that Jackson gave him. Jackson said that when O’Neal got in a fight in Chicago in January 2002 with Brad Miller, O’Neal went to the team bus upon ejection and lost himself in his homework. 'He got thrown out of the game,' Jackson said. 'He went on the bus and finished up his book report after that.' "

In 2007, Bryant, who has not always been on board with the book idea, credited a positive change in his attitude to Jerry Lynch's The Way of the Champion: Lessons from Sun Tzu's The Art of War and other Tao Wisdom for Sports & Life: "I read a book this summer from Mr. Phil Jackson that talked about warriors respecting other warriors. If you have respect for your opponent, the thing that you have to do is play hard every time down. That gave me a new perspective on things." Bryant and Jackson also bonded over Malcolm Gladwell's work.

Did books win the NBA championship this year? No. But if you ask me why I'm writing about Phil Jackson today, I can only reply that in a world where books often seem to matter less, there is this guy coaching in the NBA to whom they matter a great deal. And his team just won another damn title.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now


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