Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hanover Square Press: Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey


Image of the Day: Birth of a Book

Last weekend Alexa Garbarino launched her new book, Ripe: The Essence of the Pregnant Nude (RGR Publishers, $60, 9780615354040/0615354041), which features photographs of models who were nine months pregnant and posed nude in a variety of locations, including the New York City subway, the Washington Monument and the Golden Gate Bridge. Here in the center in the blue jacket, Garbarino herself poses with all the models (post-partum), who also contributed stories to the book about their pregnancies and where they chose to be photographed.


W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Notes: Politics & Prose Buyer Guessing Game; NPR on Indies

Speculation has heated up regarding who might purchase Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. Last week, the New York Times suggested that Franklin Foer, who stepped down recently as editor of the New Republic, had emerged as a possibility: "Foer will remain at the magazine as a writer at large at the same time he is putting together a group of investors to bid on a prominent Washington bookstore, Politics and Prose. Those investors include Hugh Panero, a founder and the former chief executive of XM Satellite radio; Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for the Atlantic magazine; and Rafe Sagalyn, a literary agent."

"I love the place so much," said Foer, who went to Politics and Prose as a child.

Yesterday, the New York Observer endorsed the idea: "We share his affection, and we'll keep pulling for the writer-editor to seize control of Politics and Prose, thus ensuring that its doors stay open. The editor-to-bookstore-owner move is not the most common, but perhaps Washington needs Frank Foer running one of its bookstores more than it needs him to run one of its magazines."

But the Washington Post cautioned that while owner Barbara Meade has narrowed the field to six serious bidders, she "is being very selective about who takes control. Before even considering a monetary offer, she is conducting interviews with all of the candidates to get a feel for their vision for her beloved store."

"We're looking for someone who is committed to the mission of the store as it has existed," said Meade. "We certainly have a great interest in selling to someone who has a passion for the written word." She added that she has "committed to our customers that somebody that doesn't know Carla or me could walk into the store and not know that the ownership has changed."


On NPR's Morning Edition today, Lynn Neary explored the current state of indie bookstores in a technological, big box store era and discovered that owners like Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo of Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y. "argue that the struggling local bookstore is a thing of the past."

"That was the only story people--especially in media--could wrap their heads around," Bagnulo said. " 'Oh isn't it sad that all the independent bookstores are dying and they are being destroyed by chains!' "

Fitting added that it may be the big box stores that are in trouble these days: "I kind of feel like we're coming to end of the age of dinosaurs and there's all these warmblooded animals running around instead."

Bagnulo sees the potential for two trends to develop from the current situation in the industry: "Digital content--which is ubiquitous and everywhere--and the local, boutique, curated side. And the chain stores unfortunately don't have the advantage in either of those areas. I mean, they can't carry every book in the world in their store, and they don't have the same emotional connection to their neighborhood that a local store does."

Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, San Francisco, Calif., said, "It's really hard for me to be sympathetic to the chains." She views e-books as more of a marketing challenge, especially now that Google eBooks are an option: "I think it gives us a chance. I don't think it's a panacea, but I think it gives us a chance.... I think that it's possible that the Kindle could turn into the Betamax. That's my nasty wish, because they won't share with other people."

B&N's CEO Len Riggio sees common ground: "I think the biggest threat to Barnes & Noble is the same threat that exists to independent book sellers and to anyone engaged in the sale of printed books. It's all about the Internet itself.... We really don't care if someone has an iPhone, because you can read Barnes & Noble e-books on your iPhone. You can read Barnes & Noble books on your iPad or your BlackBerry. So we don't consider the other devices to be competitive, and we may very well sell some of those devices in our stores."

But the future is cloudy for everyone in the business, and Riggio observed, "It's pretty heady times, and we don't know how it's going to turn out. But if you want to count up the people who will have a say in how it will turn out, put us in as one of them."

"I don't think we're going to become precious," Petrocelli concluded. "I think we're going to be a vital part of the future, but we're going to have keep growing and changing."


Going OP in style. Author Laurel Snyder recently discovered "the very best way to go out of print." When she received word that the hardcover edition of her first novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, was headed for the remainder bins, she mourned just a bit, then took action. After discovering that 800 copies were available, she "did something INSANE! I pulled out my credit card and bought every last book. EVERY SINGLE COPY!"

Better yet, Snyder "took them to some friends of mine. First, and most importantly, I took a lot of books to Joe Davich, at the incredible Georgia Center for the Book, at the Decatur Library. He offered to help the books find homes in libraries across the state, so that I wouldn’t have to pay shipping costs to get my books into the hands of readers."

Next, "we headed over to the best bookstore in the universe, Little Shop of Stories, where Diane Capriola (because devoted indie bookstore owners don’t have enough to do) had generously offered to store and deliver another few hundred copies for me, to a wonderful fourth grade class, so that the kids could all have a book to take home for the holidays.... Finally, I was down to a few boxes, so I ran by the elementary schools in my own neighborhood, and dropped off copies with some awesome media specialists. They were all about as friendly and nice as they could possibly be."

Now, Snyder wrote, "the books are where I wanted them to be all along. From the moment I began writing. The books are with kids.... This spring I’m going to sit down and try to think of a way to help other authors do what I’ve done. I have in mind a matching program, to pair donors and authors up, to buy books at hugely reduced rates, and then coordinate the gift through a library system or school that would handle distribution."


Amazon finally released Kindle sales numbers... generally speaking. In a thank you note to the Kindle Community, Amazon wrote: "Thanks to you, in just the first 73 days of this holiday quarter, we've already sold millions of our all-new Kindles with the latest E Ink Pearl display. In fact, in the last 73 days, readers have purchased more Kindles than we sold during all of 2009."

CNET noted that "for number watchers, the good news is we should know soon enough when Apple hits 10 million iPads sold. As for Amazon reporting more precise figures, we'll probably only know the Kindle's hit the 10 million mark when Amazon says it's sold tens of millions of Kindles."


Graywolf Press has purchased world rights to June Fourth Elegies, the first English-language collection of poetry by Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo. The Guardian reported that "the book, which has never been published in China, will be translated by poet Jeffrey Yang, who has already translated some of Xiaobo's poems at the request of international writers' organisation PEN International." A book containing Liu's political writings, compiled by his wife Liu Xia, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2012.


Huffington Post readers chose their 12 favorite bookstores.


"Can digital readers and books coexist?" The Las Vegas Review-Journal posed the question to several book people, including Pamela Mains, "avid reader, book lover and owner of the late, lamented Cheesecake and Crime bookstore," who has a Sony Reader. "My husband got it for my birthday about a year-and-a-half ago," she said. "I still haven't been able to get myself to open it.... I love books. I love the feel of the paper. And I do believe that's on the way out, unfortunately. I think the reason I haven't opened it yet is because, once I do, that will be the shift for me. I will go to an e-reader at that point."

Myrna Donato, co-owner of Amber Unicorn Books, neither has nor wants an e-book reader. She said that one advantage of owning a used bookshop is that even young readers still come to the store because many titles aren't available in e-book format. "We have a large group of younger (buyers) now. They have Kindles, and they still come in and look for older books and buy older books."


"Sometimes, I think I was born to go on book tours," David Sedaris, author most recently of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, told the National Post. "One of the reasons that I do so enjoy my book tours is that I’m constantly making it fun for myself.... I never look beyond the person that I’m speaking to. I always like having gifts for teenagers; I’m just so grateful that young people come. A couple of books ago, I put a tip jar on my signing table and I made over $4,000 on my tour. The problem was then I started hating people who didn’t tip me. I didn’t say anything to them, but I would just sit there thinking, 'You cheap son of a bitch. I just signed four books and you can’t even give me a dollar?' And why should they? But I just got so involved in it. I had to stop doing it."


Author Warren Adler (War of the Roses, Random Hearts) has made five of his books, none of which had been previously published, available through Amazon's Kindle Store, as well as in print editions through CreateSpace. The series includes The David Embrace, Flanagan's Dolls, The Womanizer, Residue and Empty Treasures, with the e-books being exclusive to the Kindle Store for two years.

"Warren Adler has long been involved in digital publishing ventures, and we're thrilled he's decided to publish his new series in e-book form exclusively in the Kindle Store," said Russ Grandinetti, v-p, Kindle Content.


Bloomberg Business Week featured the "Best Books for Kids Into Lego Robots, Arty Lizards, Human Pets."


Snooki's book deal was inevitably one of the "13 Most Obnoxious Publishing Stories of 2010" featured in a Huffington Post slide show.


Book cafes "appeared rather late in Viet Nam," but they have "been a bright point among foreign imports," Viet Nam News reported. "Today, most large cities in Viet Nam have book cafes that embrace the reading culture in a modern society."


Book trailer of the day: House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan (Starscape, $17.99, 9780765320377/0765320371), which features Lipizzan horses that the author raises in Arizona and inspired this middle-grade fantasy.


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Cool Idea of the Day: Penguinmobile 4 Sale

Last summer, Penguin's 75th anniversary celebration included a mobile version with a 2010 Mini Cooper SD that traveled across the country to literary and book events, where it gradually collected the dashboard autographs of 18 Penguin authors, including Garrison Keillor, William Kennedy, Geraldine Brooks, Michael Pollan, Sue Monk Kidd, Jan Karon, Rosanne Cash, Nathaniel Philbrick, TC Boyle and many more.
Now these literary wheels can be yours. The vehicle is being offered on for $30,000. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the New York Public Library. Penguin said the price reflects the unusual background of the vehicle, its excellent condition and an option you won't find with other used cars: this Mini Cooper comes with the top 75 titles published by Penguin Books over the past 75 years.

"We priced the car at the top of the price range you would find for a used 2010 Mini Cooper on because of the special and unique nature of the vehicle," said John Fagan, v-p, director of marketing, at Penguin.  “We'll consider all offers, but are obviously looking to get as much for the vehicle as possible as all the proceeds benefit the New York Public Library, one of New York City’s most treasured institutions."

Melanie Kovach,'s general manager of private seller service and sales, added, "When Penguin approached us to assist them in finding a buyer for this unique vehicle and for this great cause--the New York Public Library--we immediately said 'yes.' "


Holiday Hum: Bookstores Who Partner Well with Others

It was a "Merry Lititz Christmas" in the Lancaster County, Pa., town on December 4, as area businesses and service organizations teamed up to stage a holiday extravaganza for families. There was kid-friendly entertainment, including a scavenger hunt with clues and prizes found at various retailers.

During the day-long celebration, Aaron's Books invited youngsters to create ornaments inspired by Jan Brett's The Mitten. "Our town is 99% indie businesses," said store owner Sam Droke-Dickinson. "[Merry Lititz Christmas] is a great way for not only the retailers to work together to bring people into the town and shops, but it also gets the Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs thinking about supporting the local indies as well."

That day there was a "huge upswing in sales" with chapter/middle grade books the most popular selections, noted Droke-Dickinson. "Reports from other stores around town were very similar--lots of new faces discovering all the goodies around town and familiar faces spending the time to shop locally."

Other bookstores have gotten creative and partnered with area artisans. Sundance Bookstore and Music in Reno, Nev., held a craft show this weekend featuring makers of soaps, ceramics, jewelry, custom fishing rods and other wares. A holiday tradition at Page and Palette in Fairhope, Ala., is to have a silhouette artist do creative cutouts for customers. The store recommends having children's likenesses done as gifts for grandparents.

Customers could browse for books and have a portrait taken by photographer Cathy Kelly at the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pa., earlier this month. (The store's three fireplaces make ideal backdrops for photo-ops.) Kelly provided the store with cards to hand out and also promoted the initiative at other events in which she participated.

"Reacher Creatures" who stopped by the Penguin Bookshop to meet Lee Child last Monday morning received coffee samples courtesy of La Prima Espresso. Java is the preferred beverage of Child's main character, Jack Reacher (he drinks his black), whose latest appearances are in the thrillers Worth Dying For and 61 Hours.

Tea drinkers turned out for an enticing experience at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Colo., on December 1. Store manager Jacqie Hasan's love of cookbooks inspired the Tea and Cookie Holiday Event, which was co-hosted by Happy Lucky's Teahouse.

Customers enjoyed tea tastings, swapped recipes and sampled ginger shortbread, glazed almond bars, chocolate-mint cookies, cayenne-dusted cheddar coins and pumpkin cheesecake brownies. The baked goods were made by Hasan and her staff using recipes from The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009, The Golden Book of Cookies: Over 330 Great Recipes by Carla Bardi, Cookie Swap! by Lauren Chattman and Barbara Grunes and Virginia Van Vynckt's Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan and Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange, all of which were discounted 20%.

While chatting with a couple in attendance, Hasan mentioned that she misses the now-folded Gourmet magazine and is glad many of its recipes are available in book form. On the sly, the gentleman bought a copy of one of the evening's featured titles, The Gourmet Cookie Book, as a gift for his wife, another fan of the publication.

More than 20 people participated in the event, and the extra foot traffic generated an increase in the day's sales--including a shopper who spent over $100 right before the store closed for the evening. Hasan plans to do the gathering again next year. "It was a great way to kick off the holiday season," she said. "We got new people into the store and generated a lot of goodwill with the treats."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nicholas Dodman on the Diane Rehm Show:

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Michael Waldman, author of My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America's Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, $39.99, 9781402243677/1402243677).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: James Wolfensohn, author of A Global Life: My Journey Among Rich and Poor, from Sydney to Wall Street to the World Bank (PublicAffairs, $29.95, 9781586482558/1586482556).


Tomorrow on NPR's the Takeaway: Lauren Weber, author of In Cheap We Trust: The Story of a Misunderstood American Virtue (Back Bay Books, $14.99, 9780316030298/0316030295).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Nicholas Dodman, author of Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547232829/0547232829).


Tomorrow on the Sean Hannity Show: Nicolle Wallace, author of Eighteen Acres: A Novel (Atria, $25, 9781439194829/1439194823).


Tomorrow on Dr. Phil: Gregory Boyle, author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion (Free Press, $25, 9781439153024/1439153027).


Television: House of Lies

Don Cheadle will star in a half-hour "dark comedy" pilot for Showtime based on the book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the project, created by Matthew Carnahan, will enter production in February.

"Don Cheadle is one of the great dramatic actors of our generation," said David Nevins, Showtime's entertainment president. "He also happens to be an extremely funny man. House of Lies is the perfect show to take advantage of both sides of him. Honestly, I would have been happy just to get his autograph."


Movies: We Bought a Zoo

Matt Damon has been cast--and Angus MacFadyen is in talks to co-star--in director Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo for 20th Century Fox. The film was adapted by Aline Brosh McKenna from the 2008 memoir, We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee. Variety reported that Damon will play the lead role of a struggling single father who moves his family to an estate that turns out to be a zoo, with MacFadyen as the zookeeper. The film is scheduled for December 2012 release.



Books & Authors

Awards: Man Asian Literary Prize Longlist

Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe is among the 10 authors longlisted for this year's $30,000 Man Asian Literary Prize. Chair of judges Monica Ali said, "The judges have encountered the best of new fiction from across the region, from India to China, from the Philippines to Japan, and the longlist reflects this diversity. As a reader I have been entertained, moved, and also informed--new worlds have opened up. Most of all, I have enjoyed the elan, the verve and the elegance of my favorite novels. I’m looking forward to arguing for their place on the shortlist." Finalists will be announced in February, with the winner named March 17, 2011, in Hong Kong.

The 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize longlist:

Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu
Way to Go by Upamanyu Chatterjee
Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
Serious Men by Manu Joseph
The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair
Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna
The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe
Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
Monkey-man by Usha K.R.
Below the Crying Mountain by Criselda Yabes


Gift Book Roundup: Really the Last

I thought I was done, but couldn't resist a few more gift book suggestions--some late discoveries and one a book that made my first Top Ten 2010 list but got lost in a cutting-and-pasting snafu. Like that's never happened before.

The "lost" book is Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou by Steve Duno (St. Martin's Press, $24.99). It's a standout in the recent glut of dog books--a funny, sweet and inspirational story of a "feral fuzz ball" of a puppy who grew into a brave, handsome and truly memorable dog. Duno found Lou on a Northern California highway, a black-and-tan Rottweiler-Shepherd mix whose parents were guard dogs for a marijuana grow. Duno says that with Lou, providence, timing and luck graced him for the first time in his life. Lou grew up to foil kidnappers, stop a rapist, prevent a robbery, help Duno train problem dogs and cause all who knew him to adore him. With The Last Dog on the Hill, Steve Duno has written a book that will carve itself into your heart.

More animals star in Did Not Survive: A Zoo Mystery by Ann Littlewood (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95), the sequel to Night Kill. Iris Oakley is a keeper at a fictional zoo in southern Washington State, pregnant and widowed. Early one morning, she is at the zoo alone, and must rescue her boss from being mauled by Damrey, one of two elephants. She does, but he later dies, and at first Damrey is considered to be the killer. Not so, but there are plenty of other suspects. The mystery is a nice puzzle, the characters are suitably eccentric, but what sets this book apart are the interesting details about zoo life and animals. A penguin romantic triangle, a pregnant cloud leopard, elephant vocalization, and a few cool words like "prusten"-- the low-frequency sound tigers and snow leopards make--will delight anyone with a fondness for animals and an interest in the debate over keeping animals in zoos.

Still more wildlife: Atlas of Rare Birds by Dominic Couzens (The MIT Press, $29.95). Couzens writes about 50 rare birds, and includes maps of where to find them (but how could you, really? They are rare), and fascinating stories about them. Each chapter has five birds, and they are grouped in unusual ways: "Lost Causes? Optimism fades," "Rediscoveries: Missing birds are found again" and "Threats in Many Guises: Peculiar ways to become threatened." My favorite is the cover boy, the Houbara Bustard, native to North Africa. It is endangered because it is the quarry of choice for Arab falconers, and with modern falconry practices--luxury vehicles instead of camels, teams of falcons, and rifles in case the falcons are having a bad day--the fight just isn't fair. Still, the bird is highly mobile and fits into extremely remote habitats, giving it a chance. In addition to falconry, the Houbara Bustard might have another issue: when the male displays, it exposes previously hidden white plumes and ruffles them to cover its head and neck. Quite attractive, but excited birds can't see and frequently trip and run into obstacles. The course of true love never did run smooth....

No wild animals--except a few human ones--are in The Good Son by Michael Gruber (Henry Holt, $26). Debra Ginsberg reviewed this literate, thoughtful novel in Shelf Awareness earlier this year, calling it "a brilliant and unusual thriller about belief, politics and family." Set primarily in Pakistan, the story is about an American woman married to a Pakistani, who is kidnapped with a peace group. Her son, a legendary teenage mujahid, is now in the U.S. military, and mounts a covert action to rescue her. The plot is intricate, the ending surprising and in between are discussions about Jung, freedom, religion and family ties. It's a remarkable and riveting book. Proof: I took it with me recently on a short trip to a warm, tropical place. It was sunny, the beach was pristine, the beer was cold, but all I wanted to do was lie on the couch and read The Good Son. --Marilyn Dahl


Book Review

Book Review: All in a Word

All in a Word by Vivian Cook (Melville House Publishing, $15.95 Paperback, 9781935554226, November 2010)

Wordsmiths will rejoice, revel and wallow in this zesty compendium of all things etymological. Doctors' slang, contrasting lyric choices of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and words that grew out of proper names (begonia goes back to Michel Begon; boycott enshrines Captain Charles Boycott forever in history) get their due from Vivian Cook. Among the anomalies, peculiarities and delights on the jaunty tour of our language, Cook also mixes in the question related to current discussions of immigration issues: "Where do English words come from?" Everything has to start somewhere, and it often is far from home.

Eminently browseable throughout its 100+ short chapters, All in a Word contains tests to gauge the vigor of our vocabularies, ways to memorize new hard-to-remember words (jejune! arcane! defibrillate!) and metaphors across different languages (English's blue joke is a yellow joke in Chinese). Speaking of bawdy bards, though Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to write down some words we still use today, including bed-head, laxative and vulgar, even he proffered loser words that fell out of favor--among them besmottered, necessarious and displeasant (certain verbally-swaggering politicians may resurrect them by accident any day now). William Shakespeare also premiered his fair share of our current vocabularies with compulsive, predecease and unsolicited. In front of a blazing fire with a mug of tea or a snifter of brandy, consider written words that are seldom spoken (egress, alight and cheesemonger).

Cook notes that the longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary is for a three-letter verb: set, and that antidisestablishmentarianism has been displaced as the longest word in English. In an age of hyphenation, oral-aggressive-anal-retentive-come-and-see-me-five-times-a-week-for years-at-vast-expense-or-how do-I-know-you're-really-committed (courtesy of linguist Geoffrey Leach and his colleagues) takes the prize. If you want to invent new words, consult the helpful chapters on it and begin to challenge Chaucer and Shakespeare. In a more serious vein, Cook also discusses how children learn words, how we pick up new ones and how others misuse them (malapropisms will never lose their power to amuse). New words are always entering the language, but who knew our vocabularies can show our age? If you say sloshed rather than hammered, record player rather than stereo and cool rather than excellent, even the best plastic surgery won't hide the evidence that you are older than you look. Have faith, though, you are probably going to ace any contest to guess words in context (and Cook provides the perfect test to show off your skills).--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A zesty compendium of word lore to be enjoyed in front a blazing fire with a mug of strong tea or a snifter of brandy--and a really good dictionary.




In our Image of the Day yesterday, Lisa Van Drasek was misidentified by the publisher. She is the children's librarian at the Bank Street College of Education.

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