Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

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

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Quotation of the Day

'One of the Patron Saints of the Book World'

"Michele [Filgate] is just remarkable. She's one of the patron saints of the book world. She really extended herself and had me go up to RiverRun long before the award. I'm forever in her debt. She's an independent bookseller and despite rumors to the contrary, there are still an amazing amount of readers out there who read Tinkers--it's not beach reading--and people are finding out about it through people like Michele. She has a wide taste in books, and she's incredibly inclusive. She's out there reading everything for us."

--Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers,
quoted in a Seacoastonline story about his sold-out reading tonight at RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H.


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Cool Idea of the Day: Author Sets Sail

Jim Lynch set sail to promote the paperback release of his novel Border Songs the really old-fashioned way, aboard his 1970 Bristol 32 "classy old cruiser" for a seven-stop tour in the San Juan Islands, about a three-day trip from his home in Olympia, Wash.

"Writers are always looking for a different way to do it," said Lynch, who had been invited to speak at the Shaw Island Historical Society on July 24 and "decided to reach out to booksellers in the San Juan Islands to see if anyone else had interest in hosting him," the Wall Street Journal reported.

"They all said, 'Hell yes,' " he recalled. Lynch has scheduled seven readings in eight days at venues like Darvill's Bookstore on Orcas Island and the library on Lummi Island.


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Sales: Glass Half Full

In May, bookstore sales fell and have been down slightly for the year while publishers' sales rose nearly 10%, led by digital- and Internet-related categories: sales of e-books rose 162.8% and downloaded audiobooks climbed 72.9%. General retail sales for


May bookstore sales slipped 2.6% to $1.1 billion compared to May 2009, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, total bookstore sales have slipped 0.4% to $6.325 billion.

Total retail sales in May rose 6.5% to $376.1 billion compared to the same period a year ago. For the year, total retail sales were up 6.9% to $1,751 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.


Total publisher net sales during May in the U.S. rose 9.8% to $715.3 million, as reported by 86 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, net sales are up 11.6% to $3.125 billion.


 $29.3 million  162.8%
 Downloaded audiobooks  $5.9 million  $5.9 million
 Adult hardcover 
 $138.5 million  43.2%
 University press hardcover  $4.1 million  13.9%
 Religious books
 $40.1 million  8.2%
 $56.9 million  6.7%
 Higher education 
 $160 million  6.3%
 $12.9 million  5.1%
 University press paperback 
 $2.8 million  4.9%
 Children's/YA hardcover
 $58.1 million  −1.3%
 Adult paperback
 $110.7 million  −2.2%
 Children's/YA paperback:
 $39.9 million  −8.1%
 Adult mass market:
 $54.6 million  −14.6%



General retail sales in the U.S. fell 0.5% in June, according to the Commerce Department, marking the second straight month of declines. Sales had dropped 1.1% in May. According to the Wall Street Journal, economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted a 0.3% drop in June.

Positive notes: excluding auto and gas sales, retail sales rose 0.1%, and department store sales were up 1.1%.

The AP (via the New York Times) commented: "Americans are spending less and that could threaten the pace of the recovery. Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. But consumers have held back because of high unemployment and other signs that have dampened their confidence, such as the volatile stock market and a struggling housing market."


Image of the Day: A Royal Sendoff

The Princess and Her Panther (S&S/Beach Lane) author Wendy Orr (l.) flew from Down Under to the Twin Cities to join artist Lauren Stringer in her hometown bookstore for the July 10 launch of their new children's book. They're pictured here at St. Paul's Red Balloon bookstore; author and artist also signed together the next night at Wild Rumpus, the wild Minneapolis bookstore.


Notes: Escape Fiction; Bookcase to Die For

Escape Fiction Books, Salem, Ore., which opened in 1994, "sprang from a book lover's passion and a willingness to sacrifice," reported.

"The bookstore was created because we have a love for books; we also have a powerful need to eat. When we realized that both were compatible, we started Escape Fiction Books," said Scott Conover, co-owner of the shop with his wife, Maria. "The one love you should not have if you want to run a bookstore is a love of money--it will not be forthcoming. You can live a modest life running a bookstore, but it is not a path to riches, quick or any other kind."


In the Guardian, Lucy Mangan called it "the bookcase you'll want to live in." The Ark is a "free-standing, multi-storey wooden tower comprising a spiral staircase and walls composed of open shelves lined with 6,000 books. Designed and constructed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects, it's called the Ark and is part of the Victoria  & Albert Museum's 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition. Dagur Eggertsson himself, on the video playing, likens it to 'a gigantic Ikea bookcase'--but, my dears, it is so much more."


One of the Profiles in Courage in the Christian Science Monitor's Chapter & Verse blog is a Q&A with Daniel Goldin, owner of the Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis. Goldin's definition of what makes a good bookseller: "I think what counts is that we put as much personality into the business as possible. My staff are all book-obsessed people. But I tell them that the bookstore is about the people who come in here as much as it is about the books. The customers are coming here because they like our vision of what a bookstore should be. That doesn't mean I'm catering to every desire of every customer. If I did, then we'd be a milquetoast kind of place. I think I know who my core customers are and it's my job to make them as happy as I can."


Book trailer of the day: Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell (Random House), a memoir that will be published August 10.


Customer service!

As noted on the Consumerist, a reader bought a used hardcover copy of Mars Life by Ben Bova (Tor) for $1 from the Salvation Army and was about three-fourths of the way through the book, which was published in 2008, before realizing 32 pages were missing.

"The book isn't damaged, it just looks like the pages were never put into the binding," said Anonymous, who then wrote Macmillan's website, including the fact that the book had been bought at a thrift store.

Anonymous continued: "Someone replied the next business day asking for my address so they can send a new copy! They don't sell the hardcover version any more so they offered to send a mass-market (paperback) edition. Seeing as how I was happy to buy a book from a thrift store, that was just fine with me. A week and a half later I can finish the story!"


Hollywood book gossip of the day: Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan "is turning to self-help books to assist in turning her life around," according to People, which reported that as Lohan prepares to serve time behind bars, her current reading matter of choice is Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships by Susan Shapiro Barash (St. Martin's).


Among the many memories of former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who died earlier this week, one of our quirky favorites was shared by Samantha Farlow, who wrote in the New York Times about an encounter with Steinbrenner in 1988 when she was checking in at an airport. She asked George to autograph the most logical thing she had with her, a copy of Sweet Lou by Lou Piniella, whom Steinbrenner had fired at the end of the '88 season.


NPR recommended this summer's best science books, "five engrossing summer releases that will satisfy anyone from a curious nonscientist to a biochemist eager to refresh her mind with new ideas in neuroscience."

Suggestions titles: Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed, Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D., How to Defeat Your Own Clone... and Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution by Kyle Kurpinsky and Terry D. Johnson, and Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality by Jonathan Weiner.


Asylum Press is now being distributed to the book trade by SCB Distributors.

Asylum Press titles available to bookstores include Satan's 3-Ring Circus of Hell by Robert S. Rhine, Deadly Are the Naked by Jim Smith, Chestaclese Sketchbook by Jim Smith and Frank Forte and The Bomb by Steve Mannion. Upcoming titles include two anthologies, Zombie Terrors and EEEK!.

"We are thrilled to be working with SCB Distributors to bring our books to an entirely new audience outside the comic book store world," Asylum publisher Frank Forte said. "The graphic novel industry is exploding and we've got some great new titles coming out in the next few years."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Forbidden Creatures

Today on Fresh Air: Peter Laufer, author of Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets (Lyons Press, $19.95, 9781599219264/1599219263).


Tomorrow morning on Live with Regis and Kelly: MTV's Gym, Tanning, Laundry: The Official Jersey Shore Quote Book (MTV, $11.99, 9781439196823/1439196826).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Mary McDonagh Murphy, author of Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper, $24.99, 9780061924071/0061924075).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Publisher

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 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, July 17

8 a.m. For an event that occurred during the American Library Association's annual meeting, Mary McDonagh Murphy, author of Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper, $24.99, 9780061924071/0061924075), discusses her book with librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.)

9 a.m. David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World (S&S, $26, 9781439102114/1439102112), talks about the social networking phenomenon. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and 10 p.m.)

11 a.m. Book TV features live coverage of the 12th annual Harlem Book Fair from the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.)

8 p.m. From FreedomFest 2010 in Las Vegas, Anne Heller, author of Ayn Rand and the World She Made (Nan A. Talese, $35, 9780385513999/0385513992), joins former Rand associates Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden for a panel discussion on the impact of Rand and her work. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m. and Monday at 7:15 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, interviews Alan Brinkley, author of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century (Knopf, $35, 9780679414445/0679414444). Brinkley chronicles the life and career of the man credited with reinventing the magazine industry. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, July 25, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, July 18

11 a.m. For an event hosted by Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., Benjamin Balint discusses his book Running Commentary: The Contentious Magazine That Transformed the Jewish Left into the Neoconservative Right (PublicAffairs, $26.95, 9781586487492/1586487493). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

5 p.m. Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land (Synergy Books, $16.95, 9780984076079/0984076077), takes a critical look at Israel's treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

11:30 p.m. Radio talk show host Bill Press discusses his book Toxic Talk: How The Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves (Thomas Dunne Books, $26.99, 9780312606299/031260629X). (Re-airs Saturday at 8:45 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.)


Movies: The Last of the Tribe; Dog Days for Koontz

Chockstone Pictures (The Road) acquired film rights to The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon by Monte Reel, which was published last month by Scribner. Variety reported that Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) will direct and Mark Bailey is adapting the screenplay.


Ralph Winter (X-Men) and Terry Botwick have "fetched feature rights to Dean Koontz's Trixie property through their 1019 Entertainment banner and are developing the doggie story as a family comedy," Variety reported.

Stephanie Fitch Groff will write the screenplay about Koontz's golden retriever. Trixie has been the subject of a "memoir," A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog; is the 'author' of Bliss to You and starred in a children's picture book series by Koontz, illustrated by Janet Cleland. Variety noted that "author proceeds from Trixie's ventures are donated to Canine Companions for Independence--the organization from which Koontz adopted Trixie."


Books & Authors

Shelf Starter: The Taken

The Taken: A Hazel Micallef Mystery by Inger Ash Wolfe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780151013531/0151013535, July 15, 2010)

Opening lines of a book we want to read:

What always broke his heart was the way they dressed themselves. Divorcées in wedding gowns slumped behind the wheel in their garages; stockbrokers in Armani hanging from basement joists; the jilted plunging from rooftops drenched in cologne or perfume, as if to say their wrecked bodies still had more to offer in death than anyone had ever known in life.

This one wore a pair of black jeans over Blundstone boots; a faded green T-shirt, and a black wool sweater. A thin leather cord served as a necklace from which a silver lamb hung, her only piece of jewellery apart from a gold hoop edged with a curlicue design, like a Sufi sun, dangling from one ear. He pictured someone giving her that lamb and wondered what had been meant by it. That she was innocent? That she needed protection? Obviously, it hadn’t been enough. --selected by Marilyn Dahl


Book Review

Book Review: Memory Wall

Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr (Scribner Book Company, $24.00 Hardcover, 9781439182802, July 2010)

In its breadth and depth, Anthony Doerr's second collection--two novellas and four short stories--extends the impressive range displayed in his 2003 debut, The Shell Collector. Traversing settings from South Africa to Wyoming to Lithuania to suburban Cleveland, and time from the Holocaust to a near-term dystopian future, Doerr probes the subject of memory in evocative prose that enhances the richness of these consistently moving tales.

The two novellas that bookend the collection feature elderly women burdened by the pain and fragility of memory. The title story's protagonist lives in Johannesburg and, after a bizarre surgical procedure, undergoes periodic "harvesting" of memories that are then stored on cartridges to enable her to relive experiences slowly flaking away in dementia. She's targeted by a criminal who recruits a young "memory tapper" (an involuntary surgical subject himself) to scour these shards of recollection to discover the location of a priceless fossil found by the women's late husband. Here, Doerr subtly melds snapshots of the woman's life filtered through the perception of the young memory tapper with an absorbing mystery.

"Afterworld" is the tender story of Esther Gramm, spirited out of a Hamburg orphanage as a young girl in 1942 and spared the fate of 11 close friends in Birkenau. Now 81 years old and living in Ohio, she's taken by her grandson out of the hospital where doctors are treating a brain lesion that brings on powerful seizures, evoking dreamlike, occasionally nightmarish recollections of her long-dead companions. "We return to the places we're from," her grandson recalls on the story's emotionally charged final page. "We trample faded corners and pencil in new lines....You bury your childhood here and there. It waits for you, all your life, to come and dig it back up."

Two other highlights of Memory Wall share water as a metaphor. "Village 113" is the haunting, almost fable-like tale of an Asian village whose residents slowly abandon it ahead of its inundation for a dam project. Seen through the eyes of a woman known as the "seed keeper," whose son is a civil engineer committed to the project, the story expressively captures the tie between place and recollection. As the village's once vibrant life is stripped away piece by piece, it "drowns in memory" in every sense. In "The River Nemunas" a 15-year-old girl from Kansas, orphaned by the nearly simultaneous deaths of her parents, is sent to Lithuania to live with her grandfather, a carver of elaborate tombstones. In a manner reminiscent of Hemingway's Santiago, she bravely trolls the polluted river in a battered aluminum boat, seized by faith that she'll land a robust sturgeon, defying the locals' belief that the species long ago departed these waters.

Each of Anthony Doerr's captivating stories yields up ample pleasure on first reading and invites rereading to unearth new layers of meaning. Refracted through diverse prisms, they bear eloquent witness to the book's frank epigraph from Luis Buñuel: "Life without memory is no life at all."--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Anthony Doerr's second collection of stories is a brilliant exploration of the subject of memory and confirms his status as one of our most talented practitioners of the short form.



The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and near Chicago during the week ended Sunday, July 11:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin
2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
5. Running Dark by Jamie Freveletti

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
3. Operation Mincemeat by Ben MacIntyre
4. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
5. Get Capone by Jonathan Eig

Paperback Fiction

1. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
2. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
4. Tinkers by Paul Harding
5. Await your Reply by Dan Chaon

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Lit by Mary Karr
2. Hawkeytown by Chicago Tribune
3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender
5. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart


1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
3. The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
5. Wimpy Kid Movie Diary by Jeff Kinney

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 booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]



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