Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Quotation of the Day

Story Suckers?

"Vampires Are Bloody Annoying."--The title of an opinion piece in the Melbourne (Australia) Herald Sun, in which Robyn Riley wrote, "I am all for encouraging people to read, and I don't mind the fantasy themes--Harry Potter is a wizard, after all--but do books and movies really need a vampire these days to be successful? Whatever happened to a good read or a good story being enough?"


Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley


Image of the Day: Lunch Launch


Last Thursday Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., hosted a lunch in the bookstore for Nancy Thayer, whose new book, Beachcombers (Ballantine), is a summer read appropriately set on Nantucket. Later that that day, Thayer spoke at the nearby Stonington Library.


Notes: Sony E-Readers Price Drop; End of an Era in Canada

Sony has joined the e-reader price wars, dropping the price on its three models, according to "The Pocket Edition is down from $169 to $149, the Touch Edition drops from $199 to $169, and the 3G-equipped Daily Edition is now $299 (down a full $50 from $349)."

Engadget noted that despite the reductions, Sony remains "a bit out of step with the competition," whose comparably priced products offer more features.


Geoff Pevere, the Toronto Star's book critic, has been reassigned as a general entertainment columnist, and the paper's weekly feature book review will be done either by one freelancer or a stable of freelancers, Quill & Quire reported.

The position, Q&Q added, was Canada's "sole remaining full-time, salaried book review post."


Because the lease on the store is ending--for "personal reasons"--the Webster's Bookstore Cafe on S. Allen Street in State College, Pa., is closing near the end of the month, the Daily Collegian reported. Owner Elaine Meder-Wilgus wants to open the bookstore in another location. Webster's other State College store, on W. Aaron Drive, remains open.


Paige Turner Books, Zion, Ill., will close after Labor Day weekend, the Lake County News-Sun reported, while noting that "the well-appointed store on the corner of 27th Street and Sheridan Road, is easily one of those businesses that turns heads."

"The economy is the main culprit that we see here," said co-owner Frank Flammini. "We thought it was going to be a good idea, because back when the (ComEd) power plant closed and Zion started a downtown redevelopment program, Delaine (Rogers, economic development coordinator) did a survey. And bookstore was at the top of the list for the type of business people wanted to see downtown. And for the first two, two-and-a-half years, we were doing pretty well. Then the recession. It's sad, but things are what they are."


Writers submitting their unsolicited manuscripts to Tin House Books between August 1 and November 30 will be able to do so under one condition--"the submission must include a receipt that proves the author has purchased a book at a bookstore," GalleyCat reported. This rule also applies to Tin House magazine submissions between September 1 and December 30.


Oak Knoll Books, Old New Castle, Del., has a devoted fan in Pradeep Sebastian, who wrote in the Hindu that Oak Knoll is "the bookshop that every bibliophile secretly fantasizes about, and occasionally encounters in a Jorge Luis Borges story. An entire bookstore full of just books about books. Reader, I'm here to tell you that this is no ficcione: such a dream bookshop exists. You will find it in the historic colonial town of Old New Castle in a three-storeyed Opera House built in 1879 where two floors house, in an almost labyrinthine fashion, shelf upon shelf upon shelf of books on books."


Beach sand in their e-readers? reported that "while the new technology may come as a threat to bookstores across the nation, shop owners at the beach say business has been steady."

"I believe, because of the close proximity to the beach, people want something that's tangible," said Jessica Lucich, manager of Atlantic Book Warehouse, Fenwick Island, Md.

Pam Workman, co-owner of the Bookstore at Bayside Plaza, Ocean City, "agreed that the beach environment has kept sales up. She said many people are hesitant to operate such an expensive device... in a sandy, wet environment."


The Observer's critics and selected writers suggested "the best books to pack along with the straw hat and suncream."


Business never takes a day off, even for summer reading lists. Fast Company "reached out to a diverse and intriguing collection of thinkers, writers, CEOs and entrepreneurs and asked what non-business writing has had a big impact on them, and that they'd recommend others. They sent back a diverse and intriguing collection of fiction, science fiction, and history that is bound to stir the soul and challenge the mind."


U.K. comedian Robin Ince, author of Robin Ince's Bad Book Club: One Man's Quest to Uncover the Books That Taste Forgot, chose his "top-10 truly bad books" for the Guardian: "Life on the road has taken me the length and breadth of the country and has allowed me to spend many an afternoon scouring second-hand bookshops, turning the yellowed pages of classics such as What Would Jesus Eat?, rummaging through jumble sales, and even the odd skip, constantly on the search for the best of the truly bad."


Obituary Note: Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge, "one of the grandes dames of the U.K.'s literary scene," died last Friday, the Guardian reported. She was 77. Bainbridge wrote 18 novels, including The Bottle Factory Outing, The Birthday Boys, According to Queeney and Every Man for Himself.

"She was a wonderful writer in the tradition of British petit guignol that included Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark: coolly stylish, meticulous, beady-eyed and horribly funny. I would have wished her more injury time, but her record stands," said John Banville. "I met [her] on a couple of occasions and was much taken with her manner of stark lugubriousness tempered with high and subversive irony--just like her books."

The Guardian reported that at the time of her death, Bainbridge was "putting the finishing touches" on her 19th novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress--about the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Richard Beswick, her editor at Little, Brown, called it "fantastic--more like her early, more comic work. Bestwick described her as "a one-off, a total original, a legend that deserves to be a legend. I don't think anybody else writes like her [although] she's got elements of other people--bits of Harold Pinter and Kafka, that morbidly humorous take on life, that very dark humor."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Venus Williams for Come to Win

This morning on Good Morning America: Drew Brees, author of Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity (Tyndale House, $26.99, 9781414339436/1414339437).


This morning on the Today Show: Kendra Wilkinson, author of Sliding into Home (Gallery, $25, 9781439180914/1439180911). She will also appear today on E! News.


This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Brando Skyhorse, author of The Madonnas of Echo Park (Free Press, $23, 9781439170809/1439170800).


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439101193/1439101191).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072228/0393072223).


Tonight on Nightline: Graham Bowley, author of No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 (Harper, $25.99, 9780061834783/0061834785).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Garret Keizer, author of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586485528/1586485520).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Venus Williams, co-author of Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession (Amistad, $25.99, 9780061718250/0061718254).


Tomorrow on the Takeaway: Evan Fraser and Andrew Rimas, author of Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (Free Press, $27, 9781439101896/1439101892).


Tomorrow on Inside Edition: Kendra Wilkinson, author of Sliding into Home (Gallery, $25, 9781439180914/1439180911).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Daniel Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (Scribner, $30, 9780743277020/0743277023).



Movies: Have Space Suit, Will Travel; Moneyball

A film version of Robert Heinlein's Have Space Suit, Will Travel is being developed by Jupiter 9 Productions and Harry Kloor, who "obtained film rights after presenting a finished script to the Heinlein estate," Variety reported, adding that the story "was originally serialized in 1958 in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and published later that year in hardcover by Scribner's. Set in 2040, Space Suit tells the story of a teenager who loses a contest for a free trip to the Moon, but wins a broken-down space suit--which contains properties that lead to humanity's first contact with aliens."

"I was inspired to become a scientist and science fiction writer in part by reading the works of grand master Robert Heinlein," Kloor said.


Stephen Bishop has been cast to play baseball slugger David Justice in Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis's book and starring Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bennett Miller is directing the project, which begins shooting in two weeks in Los Angeles.

Books & Authors

Awards: SIBA and Found in Translation Winners

The winners of the 2010 SIBA Book Awards, honoring books "either set in the South or by a southern author (or both!)" and sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, are:

Children's: The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass (Candlewick)
Cooking: The Lee Brothers Simple Fresh Southern by Ted and Matt Lee (Clarkson Potter)
Fiction: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam)
Nonfiction: The Most They Ever Had by Rick Bragg (Macadam Cage)


Danuta Borchardt's translation of Witold Gombrowicz's novel Pornografia (Grove/Atlantic) has won the 2010 Found in Translation Award, given annually by the Polish Book Institute in Krakow, the Institute of Polish Culture in London and the Institute of Polish Culture in New York "for the finest translation of Polish literature into English to have appeared in book form in the preceding year," the New York Times reported.


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:


The Summer We Read Gatsby: A Novel by Danielle Ganek (Viking, $25.95, 9780670021789/0670021784). "Cassie and Peck are sisters, not that it would be apparent to anyone. Cassie was raised in Switzerland, growing up to be a journalist with a studious streak. Peck was raised in New York, growing up to be an actress thirsty for the limelight. They couldn't be more different. Their one common thread was Aunt Lydia and summers in her home in Southampton. Lydia's death has brought the girls together for one last summer, as her will left them the house in Southampton with the stipulation they spend the summer together. This is a perfect summer read, sprinkled liberally with delicious literary allusions."--Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir by Paul Guest (Ecco, $21.99, 9780061685170/0061685178). "Paul Guest's stunning memoir recounts 'the rehearsal of the flesh' that has been his life since an accident at age 12 left him paralyzed from the neck down. Rather than a tale of trauma and recovery, this is a love story, recounting the author's tumultuous romance with his body as he relearns its limits and possibilities and surrenders it to the people he loves. The author of three books of poetry, Guest's talent for lyricism shines through in this smooth-flowing, inspirational narrative."--Stephanie Walker, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.


Wildlives: A Novel by Monique Proulx, translated by David Homel and Fred A. Reed (Douglas & McIntyre, $16.95, 9781553654094/1553654099). "I was taken with this story within the first few pages. Reminiscent of the works of Barbara Kingsolver, Proulx artfully weaves the natural life of the Canadian Laurentians into the lives of her disparate characters. The result is a rich tapestry of story and setting that I won't soon forget."--Josette King, Books Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

For Teen Readers

The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin (Hyperion, $16.99, 9781423121114/1423121112). "The Half-Life of Planets is a poignant account of the friendship that forms when two lives unexpectedly collide, as told from the perspectives of two unlikely friends. Liana, a reputed kissing addict, and Hank, a marginalized teen with Asperger's syndrome, embark on a journey to accept themselves and each other on their own terms rather than allow themselves to be defined by others. This book is an anthem that inspires readers to live beyond the limits of labels."--Anna Weddington, Pomegranate Books, Wilmington, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Attainment: New Titles Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 13:

Corduroy Mansions: A Novel by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon, $24.95, 9780307379085/0307379086) follows the eccentric residents of a London apartment building.

The Glass Rainbow by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781439128299/1439128294) is the 18th novel with Louisiana deputy sheriff Dave Robicheaux.

Fly Away Home: A Novel
by Jennifer Weiner (Atria, $26.99, 9780743294270/0743294270) follows the wife and two daughters of a senator caught having an affair.

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner (Bantam, $26, 9780553807240/0553807242) investigates the murder of a family with Boston detective D.D. Warren.

Faithful Place: A Novel by Tana French (Viking, $25.95, 9780670021871/0670021873) tells the story of an undercover Irish cop who assumes he was abandoned by his childhood sweetheart years ago--until her remains are found.

Genghis: Lords of the Bow by Conn Iggulden (Bantam, $16, 9780385342797/0385342799) is historical fiction about the rise of mighty conqueror Genghis Khan.

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne Tuohy, Sean Tuohy and Sally Jenkins (Holt, $24, 9780805093384/0805093389) explores a family who adopted a homeless boy.

The Obama Diaries by Laura Ingraham (Threshold Editions, $25, 9781439197516/1439197512) uses fictional diary entries to critique the president.



Shelf Starter: Empires of Food

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas (Free Press, $27, 9781439101896/1439101892, June 15, 2010)

Opening lines of a book we want to read:

The two authors of this book have never gone hungry. We've never even lacked an embarrassment of dried pasta choices. This is important to know because, while this book is about food as a historical--and environmental, economic, and political--force, the act of eating is a highly personal one. Every family has its culinary DNA.... Eating connects us to our histories as much as it connects our souls to our bodies, our bodies to the earth. So it's useful to consider that we mean "sustenance" when we write the word "food."

Historically, sustenance has taken the form of the gritty, bland grains that kept humanity alive for ten thousand years. Yet eating is never merely the care and maintenance of cells. No species would invent chocolate ganache au crème fraîche for the sake of cellular health. As well as triggering at least two of the more enjoyable stimuli, eating is about society. It's about fellowship and memory, about Proust's madeleine, about our culinary hooks in the reflecting pool. At its most evolved, it's the second glass of port, the bite of Camembert assessed alongside the nibble of Stinking Bishop, the fresh-shucked oyster in a porcelain dish. Eating is what animals do, but humans do it beautifully.--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Book Review

Book Review: The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge

The Strange Case of the Composer and His Judge by Patricia Duncker (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, $15.00 Paperback, 9781608192038, July 2010)

Monsieur le Commissaire André Schweigen is in awe of his colleague Dominique Carpentier, Madame le Juge, known within the French legal system as la chasseuse de sects--the sect hunter. They worked together on a case of what appeared to be a mass suicide of members of a religious cult, the Faith, a few years before this novel opens. Now there has been another apparent mass suicide, on New Year's Day 2000, similar to the earlier one, involving additional members of the Faith.

"That smile, full of humor and affection, doomed to be Schweigen's undoing, ensured that from then onwards his every third thought was dedicated to the black-haired, dark-eyed Judge, whose ruthless efficiency, terrifying discipline and legendary self-control drove her colleagues to drink," writes Duncker as Schweigen abandons himself to the Judge's considerable allure while they investigate forensic evidence of the deaths and interview friends and relatives of the departed. The Judge is incredibly smart, accomplished and self-confident; Schweigen, a loose cannon with good intentions, is her polar opposite, in addition to being a married man who should know better.

Rushing from crime scene to funerals, they develop a work dynamic on the case that is curious, refreshing and effective; they also bond in surprising ways. In an unexpected scene (though we should have seen it coming), the Judge makes her move, lunging at Schweigen across the gear shift of her car and then says, "There, wasn't that what you wanted?" He recovers from his shock--and pleasure--to mumble, "Yes," before she puts the car in gear and they get back to business. She is entrancing, and people regularly fall at her feet. One of those is Friedrich Grosz, a German composer and conductor and a surviving member of the Faith who knew all the deceased in the two mass deaths. And although the Judge is investigating Grosz with unrelenting ferocity, he trains his cool eye and hypnotic desire on her. Their dance is almost as astonishing the one with poor, doofus Detective Schweigen.

As the labyrinth of the unfolding mystery begins to entangle and overwhelm the Judge, who is reflexively accustomed to winning, she tries to reassure herself: "I can deal with crooks, but not genuine fanatics. And I have no patience with romantic obsessions, the products of willful wish-fulfilment." Ah, yes, and then uncontrolled passion takes its place alongside blinding intellect to make this novel a literary pleasure of the highest order, plus que fabuleux. --John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A legal mystery of uncommon style and intelligence, in which everyone, including the reader, ends up loving the person in the judge's seat.



The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on in June's bestselling books in June:

1. The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. Master Harold... and the Boys by Athol Fugard
7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
9. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston's bestselling signed books in June:

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin
2. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
3. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
4. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
5. Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
7. The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
8. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
9. Kraken by China Mieville
10. Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens

[Many thanks to!]


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