Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Quotation of the Day

'Real Books Mean Wandering Around the Store'

"I'm actually not so crazy about reading books on the iPad.... This became clear when I decided to buy my favorite book this season, As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, as well as another treat, In Tearing Haste: Letters Between Deborah Devonshire and Patrick Leigh Fermor. That's the moment I realized the iPad was wrong for book reading. I just couldn't bear to read these electronically. I needed to go to a beautiful bookstore and buy the hard copy and hold it and admire the type and the feel of it. Real books mean wandering around the store, talking to the owner about what's new and great, reading a few pages, buying it, carrying it with me. My iPad works hard enough for me that it doesn't need to download books. Friends love their Kindles and Kobos and I understand, but my heart leaps with the actual book, not the virtual one. And surely I'm not the only one."

--Stevie Cameron, author of On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver’s Missing Women, in the Toronto Globe & Mail.


Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny


Powell's Books Cuts 31 After Sales Fall

Citing "an industry-wide decline in new book sales, rising healthcare costs, and the economy," Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., yesterday laid off 31 employees, the Oregonian reported. The affected booksellers represent about 7% of the company's 400 employees, mostly floor workers and seven or eight in the group managing the company's website.

Ryan Van Winkle, a representative for Powell's union, said that the affected employees were members of the union and that no management or security guards had been laid off. According to a memo to employees, pay for non-union staff has been frozen for at least a year and the company has suspended contributions to its 401(k) plan.

Van Winkle told the Portland Mercury that Powell's and the union had worked together during the past year to avoid layoffs by reducing hours, among other changes. Van Winkle said that the union is "worried about doing more work with less people and also, frankly, being sure that this doesn't disrupt the work the union does, like filling those cut jobs with managers or temporary workers."

The company said of the layoffs: "This undesirable course of action was taken only after serious consideration of other possible options and a careful evaluation of the future."

In the memo to the staff, Powell's said that sales this fiscal year are down, with "the largest decreases" in new book sales, "a clear indication that we are losing sales to electronic books and reading devices." The company expects new book sales to continue to erode "over the next year" and that it can compensate only in part "with solid used book sales and growth in gift sales."


Minotaur Books: The Grey Wolf by Louise Penny

Notes: NBF Will be Two-Day Event; Indie Bookstore 'Dominates'

Beginning this fall, the Library of Congress will expand the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. to two days, which will be "good news to those who have waited in the long lines to hear the famous and up-and-coming writers," the Washington Post reported, adding that the expansion was made possible by a gift from financier and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who donated $5 million over five years for the festival.

"We look forward to welcoming millions more festival-goers of all ages for many years to come," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who estimated that more than a million people have attended the festival in its first decade.

The 2011 National Book Festival will be held on the National Mall September 24 and 25.


The word "dominates" does not often show up in newspaper headlines about independent bookstores, but it was used to describe the position of Chaucer's Bookstore, Santa Barbara, Calif., since the recent closure of Borders and Barnes & Noble stores in the city. The Independent called this development "a small victory for Santa Barbara's much-loved and biggest seller of new books.... For the last month, Chaucer's has once again reigned supreme."

"I actually kind of wish there was still a bookstore downtown," said Mahri Kerley, who opened her shop 37 years ago at Five Points Shopping Center. While the chain stores affected her bottom line, "she never worried they would put her out of business. Chaucer's had the advantage of great customer service and a better selection," the Independent wrote.

"Frankly, I've got more books in my 6,500 square feet than Borders had in their 38,000 square feet," Kerley observed. "They were only interested in stocking books that they knew they were going to sell x number of in x number of days. I've got books in here that I haven't sold in over a year."
She added that she has no desire to relocate downtown: "I'm comfortable with where I am."


The Los Angeles Times featured a world tour of bookstore cafes, noting that there is "no better place to plot a course in a city than at an independent bookstore cafe. Many operate more as cultural and community centers than as businesses, with late hours and a medium-sized town's worth of on-site readings, tastings and concerts out of any weather that may be annoying you. Check out their posters and bulletin boards for options farther afield. And ask the staff: Bookstore cafes usually have a nicotine-tinged finger or two on a city's pulse. Local patrons, too, tend to be welcoming and helpful even in the world's most frenzied metropolises. A bookstore cafe, after all, is the last place you'd go in a hurry."

The American bookstore cafés profiled included Montague Bookmill's The Lady Killigrew Cafe, Montague, Mass.; Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston; and East West Exchange, Payson, Ariz.


On its store blog, Lemuria Books, Jackson, Miss., paid tribute to Random House sales rep Liz Sullivan: "Rodney Crowell kicked off his bookstore tour in January for Chinaberry Sidewalks at Lemuria. Made possible by Liz's savvy match-making of bookstore to author, Lemuria's community of readers were captivated at the event.

"Most Lemuria customers are unaware as to how much a good sales rep affects our local community's reading. Her association with Lemuria affects Lemuria's association to Jackson's readers. Liz's behind the scene work affects the authors and the inventory quality for which you the reader get to choose from and experience first hand. Liz's job is to inform us of the best books for Lemuria and our job is to present them to you. Working together, our job is one of editing to bring a great selection of books to you, our readers."


Cory Bortnicker, co-creator of the satirical Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator--which has been something of an Internet sensation this week--told the New York Observer that he likes the bestselling author's books.

"I've read most of them," he said, "and I'm actually a big fan of his work. I think he's a fun writer. I think it's great anytime someone can bring science to a large audience like that.... The joke is kind of on all of us, probably Malcolm Gladwell least of all. People buy his books, publishers sell his books, designers design his books."


Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of the newly released memoir A Tiger in the Kitchen, recommended "Delicious Tales to Read in the Kitchen" at Flavorwire, which noted that Tan "draws on her considerable literary and culinary experience to tell us which inspiring foodie-favorites she would want on the fantasy bookshelf in her kitchen. Or your kitchen, as the case may be."


On NPR, Granta magazine deputy editor Ellah Allfrey recommended "Three Books on Entering Strange New Worlds": The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre and Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele.


Bookends "are more than just decorative (and in some cases, dangerous) objects--they're also pretty darn useful," Flavorwire observed in showcasing "10 Shelf-Worthy Bookends."


Book trailer of the day: LadyBirdLand by Allison Strine (StoryPeople Press).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tatjana Soli on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Mark Richard, author of House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer's Journey Home (Nan A. Talese, $23.95, 9780385513029).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Allison Pearson, author of I Think I Love You (Knopf, $24.95, 9781400042357).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Susan Engel, author of Red Flags or Red Herrings?: Predicting Who Your Child Will Become (Atria, $24, 9781439150115).


Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Jim Wallis, author of Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street (Howard, $24, 9781439183120).


Tomorrow on Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto: Wayne Rogers, co-author of Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success (AMACOM, $23, 9780814416570).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Patrick and Henry Cockburn, authors of Henry's Demons: Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son's Story (Scribner, $25, 9781439154700).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin's, $24.99, 0312611579). As the show put it: "Ten years ago when Tatjana Soli began to write her novel about female journalists in Viet Nam, she was warned that it might not sell. Instead, this prophetic tale about America's foreign wars received a front page review in the New York Times Book Review and was chosen one of the most important books of last year. For its new publication in paperback, Soli discusses the subjects of war, women and novel-writing."


Tomorrow on Oprah: Tim Gunn, author of Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work (Gallery, $23.99, 9781439176566).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi, author of A Shore Thing (Gallery, $24, 9781451623741).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (Norton, $15.95, 9780393338829).


Any Human Heart on PBS Masterpiece

Beginning this Sunday, February 13, PBS Masterpiece is airing, in three 90-minute parts, an adaptation of Any Human Heart by William Boyd (Vintage International, $15.95, 9781400031009). The story follows the life of Logan Mountstuart, "a writer, lover, art dealer, and spy living by his wits in the tumultuous 20th century." Cast includes Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice, Little Dorrit), Gillian Anderson (Bleak House, The X Files) and Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City, My Boy Jack). Parts two and three of Any Human Heart air on February 20 and 27. For a preview, click here.


Movies: Cogan's Trade

Richard Jenkins (The Visitor; Eat Pray Love) has joined the cast of Cogan's Trade, based on the novel by George V. Higgins. Andrew Dominik is directing the movie that stars Brad Pitt "as a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that takes place during a high-stakes poker game held under the protection of the mob," Variety reported. Also in the cast are Sam Rockwell, James Gandolfini and Bella Heathcote. The film begins shooting later this month in New Orleans.


Books & Authors

Awards: Special Honor for the 'Booker Bridesmaid'

The late Beryl Bainbridge was shortlisted a record five times for the Booker Prize without winning, earning her the nickname "Booker bridesmaid" from the British press. This year, however, the Booker Prize Foundation will rectify this slight with a special prize, the Man Booker Best of Beryl, and has asked readers to vote for the shortlisted novel that most deserves this accolade.

"Dame Beryl was a very gracious non-winner and no Man Booker dinner was complete without her," said Ion Trewin, literary director of the Man Booker Prizes. "She may have been the eternal Booker Bridesmaid but, with this special prize created in her honor, we are delighted to be able finally to crown her a Booker Bride by letting the public choose what they believe to be the best of her books."

The public can to vote online at the Man Booker website for their favorite of Bainbridge's shortlisted novels: The Dressmaker (1973), The Bottle Factory Outing (1974), An Awfully Big Adventure (1990), Every Man for Himself (1996) and Master Georgie (1998). The winning title will be announced in April.


Attainment: New Titles Appearing Next Week

Selected new titles being published next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

33 Men: Inside the Miraculous Survival and Dramatic Rescue of the Chilean Miners
by Jonathan Franklin (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399157776) is an inside (though above-ground) account of the Chilean mine collapse and rescue operation last year.

Angel by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316036207) is the seventh Maximum Ride novel.

West of Here by Jonathan Evison (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781565129528) follows the past and present residents of a fictional town on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula.

A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer (St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312587529) is medical thriller in which terrorists release a virus in the Capitol during the State of the Union address.

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision by James Redfield (Grand Central, $25.99, 9780446575966) is the fourth entry in the Celestine series.

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift by Carolyn Savage and Sean Savage (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780062004635) chronicles a couple's spiritual struggle after learning a fertility clinic implanted the wrong embryo.

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps by Chris Jericho and Peter Thomas Fornatale (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446538152) documents the tumultuous rise of a World Wrestling Entertainment star.


Book Brahmin: Ellen Meeropol

 Ellen Meeropol holds an MFA from Stonecoast, the University of Southern Maine. Her stories have appeared in numerous magazines. She left her pediatric nursing practice to become publicist and book group coordinator for the Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass. She is a founding member of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. Drawing from her twin passions for medicine and social justice activism, Meeropol's debut novel, House Arrest (Red Hen Press, February 2011), explores characters at the intersection of political turmoil, ethical dilemmas and family life. She lives with her husband, Robby, in western Massachusetts.


On your nightstand now:

How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, an ARC of Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin, The Lover of a Subversive Is Also a Subversive by Martín Espada, and Quiet Americans by Erika Dreifus--I've already read it, but it's so gorgeous I want to read it again more slowly, to savor.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom--always read together and many times.

Your top five authors:

They keep changing, but some enduring favorites over many years include Andrea Barrett, Paule Marshall, Laura Z. Hobson, Rosellen Brown, Gillian Slovo.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby Dick. I don't care what it's a metaphor for, the whaling made my eyes glaze over.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't think I've ever bought a book for the cover. I buy for the author, the first page or a recommendation from someone I trust.

Book that changed your life:

Man's Fate by André Malraux. I was in high school and it was the first time I understood that a book could combine complicated political ideas and a page-turner story.

Book that made you want to be a writer:

The Bone People by Keri Hulme.

Book that you wish you had written:

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels.

Favorite line from a book:

"I rode to earth on the backside of a comet"--from Truth by Jacqueline Sheehan.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler.


Book Review

Children's Review: Press Here

Press Here by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books, $14.99 Hardcover, 9780811879545, March 2011)

Even though you--and most children--know intellectually that it won't make a bit of difference, you can't help but "press here" when Hervé Tullet tells you to place your finger on the yellow dot that appears on the cover. And it doesn't stop there. The first page, with just one yellow dot in the middle of a vast white background, poses a one-word question: "Ready?" And a child's (a child of any age) response will be, "You bet!" Touching the dot adds another, so the next page shows two. If, on the next page (which shows three dots), you rub the left dot "gently," it turns red on the next page. Each action appears to inspire a reaction in the book. Several pages later, three vertical rows appear: five dots in red, five dots in yellow, and five dots in blue. The author asks us to "try shaking the book... just a little bit," and on the next page the dots seem to dance randomly, still sticking to the right-hand page. But when you shake "a little bit harder," the dots bound across the spread. Children can keep track and see that the same number of dots still appear (all 15, five of each color). And, when they tilt the book to the left, the next page shows them all shifted to the left-hand margin;a mirror response occurs with a tilt to the right and a shift of the dots to the right-hand margin on the next page.. Just the response they'd see on certain electronic devices.

At other points, the dots overlap, introducing the colors that result from primary colors mixing (green, orange, purple)--but never with a lesson. One of the genius qualities of this book is that even though it's clearly making a case for the great glory of books, it never adopts an attitude. It celebrates the pure joy of page flippings, book turnings and the ability to grab the two covers in both hands and toss it up and down. The narrator-coach even encourages us ("Well done!"). Good thing this perfect square book comes packaged as a board book with rounded corners and strong laminated pages meant for repeated readings. This is one that will be passed around every classroom, every library and at every gathering of family and friends. It must be experienced solo, but then you'll want to share it immediately (to see if everyone else presses the dot and shakes the book up and down like you did). Irresistible.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

CHE's 'What They're Reading on College Campuses'

The Chronicle of Higher Education's recent bestseller list:

  1. Decision Points by George W. Bush
  2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (the Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race by Jon Stewart
  3. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  5. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
  6. Life by Keith Richards
  7. Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max
  8. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  9. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz
  10. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 by Mark Twain


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