Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Scribner Book Company: Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn

Flatiron Books: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Atheneum Books for Young Readers: You Matter by Christian Robinson

St. Martin's Press: Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman's Journey Into the Heart of Africa by Brad Ricca

Quirk Books: This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: When I Draw a Panda by Amy June Bates

Random House: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Quotation of the Day

Woody Allen: 'No Substitute for Reading & There Never Will Be'

"I was persuaded in a moment of apathy when I was convinced I had a fatal illness and would not live much longer. I don’t own a computer, have no idea how to work one, don’t own a word processor, and have zero interest in technology. Many people thought it would be a nice idea for me to read my stories and I gave in.... The discovery I made was that any number of stories are really meant to work, and only work, in the mind’s ear and hearing them out loud diminishes their effectiveness. Some of course hold up amusingly but it’s no fun hearing a story that’s really meant to be read, which brings me to your next question and that is that there is no substitute for reading and there never will be. Hearing something aloud is its own experience but it’s hard to beat sitting in bed or in a comfortable chair turning the pages of a book, putting it down, and eagerly awaiting the chance to get back to it."

--Woody Allen, interviewed in the New York Times, which noted "he is not necessarily known as an early adopter of cutting-edge technology." For the first time, Allen has recorded audiobook editions of his four essay collections.

 

 


Anansi International: This Lovely City by Louise Hare


News

Notes: Sharp's New E-Reader; Book Tips from Self Storage Biz

Sharp Corporation will jump into the e-reader pool later this year "with a device that can read a new e-publishing file format of its own," PC World reported, noting that the company plans to launch the device in Japan, but "is likely to hit the U.S. after Japan and Sharp said it is already in launch talks with Verizon Wireless."

The Wall Street Journal wrote that two prototype devices were on display at a news conference yesterday: "The smaller of the two resembles an extra-large smartphone, with a 5.5-inch screen. The other device resembles Apple's iPad in scale and comes with a 10.8-inch screen. The company didn't disclose pricing plans."

"The idea is to offer an iPad made in Japan," said Masami Ohbatake, head of Sharp's information and communication-systems business.

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Who knew that the self storage industry had a stake in the ongoing e-book debate? According to ExtraSpace.com, "Between the e-books offered by Amazon and other booksellers, and the e-books available through Google Books, the world of book publishing is about to go through a dramatic change. If you are currently choosing between getting rid of hardcover books that are in good condition, or putting them in a self storage unit, this may be the time to consider preserving those bound books--a few years from now, they may indeed have become collectors' items. Paperback books are still outselling e-books, for the moment--but the day is coming when paperbacks may be collectors' items too."

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At least six books about BP's Gulf oil spill disaster are already in the works "and several more proposals are circulating," the New York Times reported.

"There are lots of people circling the subject," said Mitch Hoffman, an executive editor at Grand Central Publishing. "With a story of this magnitude and importance, there are going to be any number of books. I was hearing consistent chatter inside of the first few days of when Deepwater Horizon went under."

Geoff Shandler, editor in chief at Little, Brown, chose not pursue any of the proposals he saw, however. "The spill is one of those stories that is shocking but not surprising. It's incredibly important, but weirdly, it's not that dramatic in terms of the action."

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Media coverage of the departure of Elliott Bay Books from Seattle's Pioneer Square "heaped attention on the downtown neighborhood, but not the kind that neighborhood activists want. Now, neighborhood groups, residents and business owners are working to give the neighborhood an image makeover," the Post-Intelligencer reported in the second of a two-part series on the changing area (Shelf Awareness, July 19, 2010).

Peter Aaron, Elliott Bay's owner, "thinks Pioneer Square needs help from government officials, residents and business owners. Over time, the city's oldest neighborhood has become a 'containment zone of social problems,' " the Post-Intelligencer wrote.

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"Books remain an important medium for transmitting cultural legacy and though Shanghai is very much on-the-go, there are still oases of reading. They say that to know a city, one has to visit its local bookstores. You can't afford to miss out on Shanghai's bookstores if you want to know what makes this city something special," the Shanghai Daily advised.

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In celebration of Faber & Faber's 80th anniversary, the Guardian featured a slideshow of eight decades of the publisher's book cover designs.

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For fans of H.P. Lovecraft and ukeleles, Boing Boing showcased the Cthulkhelele, which Neil Gaiman had highlighted on Twitter.

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"I realize we're picking the bones from the Old Spice campaign at this point, but when I saw that the Brigham Young University parody of the Old Spice ads had gotten more than 1.2 million views (Old Spicy himself--that's what I'm calling him--did a video for libraries), it got me thinking," wrote Linda Holmes on NPR's blog, where she offered several reasons "Why the Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries":
 
Libraries get in fights.
Librarians know stuff.
Libraries are green and local.
Libraries will give you things for free.
"Open to the public" means "some days, you really have to wonder about people."
There seems to be a preposterous level of goodwill.

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"Can fart jokes save the reading souls of boys?" The Associated Press suggested that we should hope so because "boys have lagged behind girls in reading achievement for more than 20 years, but the gender gap now exists in nearly every state and has widened to mammoth proportions--as much as 10 percentage points in some, according to the Center on Education Policy." Parents are now "hoping books that exploit boys' love of bodily functions and gross-out humor can close the gap."

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A legal battle has developed regarding the cache of Franz Kafka's manuscripts recently discovered in a Swiss bank's safety deposit boxes, which the Guardian reported "are believed to contain thousands of manuscripts by Kafka and [Max] Brod, including letters, journals, sketches and drawings, some of which have never been published and could provide literary detectives an insight into one of the 20th century's greatest writers."

Unfortunately, the Guardian noted in an update that the story is bordering on Kafkaesque because "the expectant Kafka enthusiasts, historians and critics will have to wait longer, after two Israeli sisters who insist they own the papers by inheritance from their mother banned all reporting of the boxes' contents."

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In a literary acknowledgment of England's new coalition government, the Guardian asked politicians and writers "to recommend two books--unlikely bedfellows or easy companions--to take on holiday this summer."

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A £1,000 (US$1,527) short story competition in England for "budding young writers" was created to celebrate the work of H.G Wells, but "failed to attract a single entry," the Kent News reported. The contest's organizer suspects that "over-strict rules" were to blame, since each entry had to be handwritten.

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Noting that rare book thief William Jacques is headed back to the slammer, AbeBooks.com chose the occasion to recommend 25 examples of the best prison literature ever published because the big house "remains a place no-one wishes to go but everyone wants to read about. The vast majority of people will never step inside one but everyone can imagine what jailbird life must be like."

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Book trailer of the day: Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile (CandlewickPress), which will be published September 14.



University of California Press: The Mating Game: How Gender Still Shapes How We Date by Ellen Lamont


Image of the Day: Cheers!

In Blind Side, which became a Hollywood movie last year, Michael Lewis focused on Michael Oher, a homeless black teenager in Memphis, Tenn., who was taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy, and then became a football phenomenon. The Tuohys have since told their story in In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving (Holt), and last Friday held a cheerful event at the Davis-Kidd store in Memphis. Here the Tuohys, in front, appear with booksellers (l. to r., in back) Nicole Yasinsky, Michael Link, Christina Meek, Carley Cianciolo and Katherine Whitfield.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 04.06.20


Sports Betting with Books Instead of Bookies

The coach and quarterback of last year's Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints had a little side wager on their early summer publishing world competition. Sean Payton (Home Team: Coaching the Saints and New Orleans Back to Life) and Drew Brees (Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity) "bet dinner and a bottle of wine on who would sell more books," NBC Sports reported.

Although Payton had one-week head start, debuting at number eight on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list, his quarterback engineered a come-from-behind sales drive worthy of his title and debuted at number three.

 


Berkley Books: Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Boozy Baker on the Today Show

Today on the Diane Rehm Show, the Readers' Review focuses on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Lucy Baker, author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets (Running Press, $18.95, 9780762438020/0762438029).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Peter Carey, author of Parrot & Olivier in America (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307592620/0307592626). As the show put it: "Australian-born Peter Carey celebrates his years in America with a larking, picaresque novel based on de Toqueville's Democracy in America. Here, Carey expresses his fears about the future of democracy and wishes our citizenry would inform its tastes and opinions by reading more."

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Jenny Sanford, author of Staying True (Ballantine, $25, 9780345522399/0345522397).

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Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Daphne Oz, author of The Dorm Room Diet: The 10-Step Program for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle Plan That Really Works (Newmarket Press, $16.95, 9781557049155/1557049157).

 


University of California Press: A Brief History of Fascist Lies by Federico Finchelstein


The Pillars of the Earth Amplified for iPad

In anticipation of Friday's Starz Network premiere of The Pillars of the Earth, Penguin and Starz Entertainment have launched an "Amplified Edition" of Ken Follett's novel for the iPad, which will showcase video clips, art and original music from the upcoming eight-hour epic miniseries. Updates will occur as the series airs to complement the story and the viewing experience for users.

The Pillars of the Earth Amplified Edition is currently available for $12.99, with iPhone and iPod Touch versions set to be offered later this week.

"Starz approached Penguin with the idea of leveraging Starz Digital Media division's capabilities and jointly developing an iPad application that would both highlight the upcoming epic original with a terrific new business opportunity for selling more books electronically," said Ferrell McDonald, senior v-p, marketing, for Starz Entertainment. "We believe that this application will be a model for such cross-media partnerships and is a terrific showcase for the more than three million iPad users in the marketplace."

Penguin's Molly Barton, director, business development, added that the "Amplified Edition is the next step in Penguin Group (USA)'s ongoing efforts to take advantage of new technology to bring writers to readers in ways they have never experienced before."

The author seems to like the idea, too. "You would need a science-fiction imagination to come up with the idea of reading a book, pressing a button and seeing a movie of the same story," Follett told USA Today, adding that he is not worried about his readers abandoning words for videos. "Everybody's enchantment with books started out with pictures. With my books the story is the appeal. Just the fact that this is the first of its kind and they've done it well is good for me from a commercial point of view. It will bring more people to Pillars of the Earth."

 


Berkley Books: Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls by Jax Miller


Television: Cop Without a Badge

TV writers David Black (Law & Order) and Charles Kips, author of Cop Without a Badge: The Extraordinary Undercover Life of Kevin Maher, are currently pitching the book as a potential TV series, the New York Post reported, noting that the book garnered national headlines when it "exposed Real Housewives of New Jersey psycho Danielle Staub's drug-dealing past" and "has played a big role in the over-the-top TV series ever since one of the other Jersey wives found it--supposedly at the library."

Cop Without a Badge was originally published 14 years ago and "was out of print when it made its first appearance on the reality TV show last season. It has since been re-published," the Post wrote.

 


Movies: 100 Cupboards

Andrew Panay (Wedding Crashers) and Beloved Pictures will co-produce a film version of N.D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards fantasy trilogy--100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire and The Chestnut King. Variety reported that Beloved Pictures is currently co-producing an adaptation of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, and Wilson is writing the screenplay.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Prize for Poetry

In what chairman of the judges Ruth Padel called an "astonishing" year for poetry, the shortlist for this year's £10,000 (US$15,262) Forward Prize for Poetry has been announce, BBC News reported. The winner will be named October 6 in London. This year's finalists for best poetry collection are:

Human Chain by Seamus Heaney
Small Hours by Lachlan Mackinnon
Through the Square Window by Sinead Morrissey
The Wrecking Light by Robin Robertson
Rough Music by Fiona Sampson
Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott

 


Book Brahmin: Don Winslow

Don Winslow, a former private investigator and consultant, is the author of 12 novels, including The Dawn Patrol, The Winter of Frankie Machine, The Power of the Dog, California Fire and Life and the Death and Life of Bobby Z. His latest book is Savages (Simon & Schuster, July 13, 2010), a violent and often funny thriller about two Americans running a marijuana operation out of Laguna Beach, and what happens when they run afoul of a Mexican cartel. Winslow lives in Southern California.

On your nightstand now:

Thirteen Hours
by Deon Meyer. I love Meyer, and I used to live in Africa, so this is a natural. It doesn't hurt that it's a terrific read, impossible to put down. The problem with having Meyer on your nightstand is that you don't get any sleep. So if I look like hell, it's Meyer's fault. The guy owes me.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:

Something of Value
by Robert Ruark. My dad gave me this book when I was 11 and I read it all the time. I ended up spending five years as a safari guide, so there you go. At a younger age, I was obsessed with one of those Landmark biographies of Sam Houston. I wanted to be Sam Houston, but it didn't work out. There were also the You Were There books--You Were There at Gettysburg, You Were There at D-Day.... I was "there" a lot. If we go to even earlier, I guess it's Horton Hears a Who--very influential on my sense of ethics, such as they are. ("An elephant's faithful, one hundred per cent.")
 
Your top five authors:

Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Maupassant, Chandler, James Jones. Well, I'm only picking dead guys so as not to offend friends and colleagues. Shakespeare because you never get tired of him, Jones because he's under-rated. I laid flowers on Maupassant's grave. I should also add George Eliot, because Middlemarch might be the greatest novel ever written. If it isn't, then Anna Karenina (see supra) is.
 
Book you've faked reading:

The Fountainhead. Tried, couldn't do it. Was supposed to read it in high school. It fell off the bed-stand and cut me on the head. I flunked English that semester. Okay, I flunked English a lot of semesters. By the way, I think everyone has faked reading Finnegans Wake. Except me, of course.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:

The Guards by Ken Bruen. I tell everyone about it. It's more than a "crime" book. By the way, Bruen and I met when we literally collided coming out of adjacent elevators at the Edgars. We were on our knees, picking up our stuff, and did the introduction thing.
 
Book you've bought for the cover:

Boy Meets Grill by Bobby Flay. How can you not love that title? I cooked a meal from it just last night--mozzarella and prosciutto quesadillas with rosemary oil. Next week I'm going for the pork loin sandwiches with spicy mango ketchup. Book covers are dangerous and fattening. Someone needs to come up with a cover for "Boy Meets Treadmill."
 
Book that changed your life:

Goodbye, Darkness by William Manchester. I never understood my father until I read that book and got what he went through in the Pacific. And that's a life-changer.
 
Favorite line from a book:

"We all must be nice to each other. It's what we believe in place of God."

I think I got that quote right, and I'm pretty sure it's from The Sun Also Rises. Anyway, it's pretty much what I believe.

Or how about Chandler's opening line of The Big Sleep:

"It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills."

Try as we might, we're never going to do any better than that, are we?
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. I don't think I could discover that book more than once, and it's a shame. There were times I actually got dizzy from the sheer power and genius of the prose.

 

 


Book Review

Children's Review: Brontorina

Brontorina by James Howe (Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 Hardcover, 9780763644376, August 2010)

Even a dinosaur can learn to dance in James Howe's (Houndsley and Catina; Bunnicula) wonderful world of wishes fulfilled. In the opening spread, accompanying the line "Brontorina had a dream" and a sign reading "Madame Lucille's Dance Academy for Girls and Boys," Randy Cecil (whose hero in Duck knows something of pining for the impossible) teases readers with a long orange neck breaking in from the left, saying in a speech bubble, "I want to dance!" A proper elderly lady with her white hair tucked into a bun plants her arms on her hips and stands at the grand entrance of a formidable-looking stone building. Two children at the front of the group look on in wonder, their mouths shaped in small crescents, while five others standing behind look quite shocked, perhaps even frightened. "But you are a dinosaur," points out Madame Lucille in Cecil's next brilliantly choreographed illustration, as Brontorina's orange bulk envelops the entire picture, her neck curving back to reply, "True.... But in my heart I am a ballerina." The two wide-eyed, wonder-filled children turn out to be named Clara and Jack, and at their urging, Madame Lucille agrees to admit Brontorina to dance class.

Howe and Cecil comically exploit the possibilities of this outlandish scenario. The door is wide enough and the ceiling high enough in Madame's studio for Brontorina to step inside and even to plié. Relevé and jeté, however, are quite another matter. As plaster flutters to the floor, Madame Lucille exclaims, "What a graceful dancer you are, my dear!" But over the next weeks, Brontorina unintentionally puts the children (and piano) at risk, and Madame Lucille feels it's time to set Brontorina loose. Besides, she says, "How in the world will a male dancer ever lift you over his head?" A running subplot involving two naysayers with matching pink dresses and ponytails who disparage Brontorina's size and lack of footwear plays a part in buying Brontorina just enough time for Madame Lucille to formulate a new strategy. Once again, Clara and Jack help defend Brontorina's place in ballet class and contribute to the solution. Other witty jokes--in both words and pictures--will please dinophiles: the heroine's name is Brontorina Apatosaurus (a sly nod to the now-defunct term "Brontosaurus") and a closing silhouette depicts an uplifted Brontorina, thanks to the heroic biceps of a Triceratops. This prehistoric heroine for modern times will serve as inspiration to children everywhere who are willing to work to achieve their goals.--Jennifer M. Brown

 

 


Deeper Understanding

Reflections on the 2010 Newbery-Caldecott Banquet

"When does the life of a storyteller begin?"
asked Rebecca Stead, winner of the 2010 Newbery Medal,
at the Newbery-Caldecott Banquet
in our nation's capital on Sunday, June 27.

If you are Jerry Pinkney,
winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal
for The Lion and the Mouse,
a wordless tour de force,
a storyteller's life might begin
in the urban backyards and vacant lots of Philadelphia,
where a boy and his buddies could observe
insects and small creatures at close range.
It might continue in a florist shop,
at first, carrying flowers from sender to recipient,
and later designing arrangements with an artist's eye.
Flowers find their way into your stories,
if you are Jerry Pinkney.
Calla lilies witness a parade of ants lifting a feast for their families
past a mouse pausing in a lion's paw print.
Orange blossoms at sunset stand by as a mouse hears an owl's call
and scurries to safety--or is it?
Yes, a lion shows mercy and sets the mouse free.
Orange blossoms between the tracks of a dirt road
lead the hunters' jeep to the lion's domain where they set a trap,
and the mouse the beast set free returns the favor.
A storyteller's life might be shaped
by a field trip to the zoo as a child in the late 1940s
when animals with blank stares paced in "dark, musty structures."
"I knew little of big cats' natural habitats," Jerry Pinkney remembers,
"But something was not right."

A storyteller listens as well as he tells.
He hears a plump speckled grouse in the leaves feigning injury,
leading him far afield in a nature preserve
and remembers that this is a way mothers behave
to protect their young.
"One of many moments," Pinkney says,
"when it seemed as if nature were speaking to me."
Nature tells him her story
and he in turn tells us, in a tale that unfolds
only through animal sounds (and the putt putt of the hunters' jeep).
A story in which the lion and the mouse are both heroes.
"No act of kindness goes unrewarded," Pinkney explains.
"The story represents a world of neighbors helping neighbors."
The storyteller continues,
"The journey each reader traverses
parallels my creative process--
that of discovery."

If you are Rebecca Stead,
your life as a storyteller might begin at six
when you started to wonder,
"How am I me?
How did my particular self get in here?"
You might begin to feel less alone
because you read other people's stories,
Meg's story, for example, in A Wrinkle in Time.
"The people in books told me things
that the real people in my life either wouldn't admit
or didn't realize I needed to know in the first place," Rebecca Stead explains.
You might begin to wander your Upper West Side neighborhood
in Manhattan, seeing anew
your apartment building, your school,
and the homeless laughing man stationed on your corner.
You might know at the age of nine
that you want to be a writer,
but "like a lot of people who secretly want to write...
[become] a lawyer," as Rebecca Stead did.
Still you might type short stories into your laptop
until your three-year-old pushes it off the dining room table,
and there go all the stories.
But do they all go? No.

Then your life as a storyteller for children might begin.
You might create a character named Miranda
who might contain elements of a person named Rebecca,
and the laughing man might spring to mind
when you read an article in the New York Times
about a man with amnesia searching for someone he has lost.
You might assume that the Newbery Medal
would always "stay safely beyond my reach,"
as Rebecca Stead did.
Until, on Monday, January 18, 2010, the call comes
with the news that the medal goes to
When You Reach Me.

You could go walking up Amsterdam Avenue
and you might find Mira's school and apartment building
and perhaps a laughing man.
You could go for a hike in a nature preserve on the Hudson River
and perhaps discover a mother grouse
feigning injury to protect her young.
And might you also find a field of flowers that hides a mouse
about to be captured and freed by a lion?
The next time you hear a laughing man,
won't you wonder if he, too, has returned to save someone?
When does the life of a storyteller begin?
Does it begin with the one who shapes the story?
Or when their stories reach us?
--Jennifer M. Brown


AuthorBuzz: Health Communications: The Pleasure Plan: One Woman's Search for Sexual Healing by Laura Zam
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