Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 23, 2011

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Quotation of the Day

Indies Complement the 'Rich Experience of the Book'

"The book is a cultural signifier that touches deep human feelings, often garnering almost mystical attachment. Books are so important and influential they are banned, censored, and burned, like witches at the stake. But they are organic objects, subject to damage and decay, and yet astonishingly durable....

"The intimacy and personality of independent bookstores provides a high-touch environment complementing the rich experience of the book--an antidote to the relentless technological acceleration in our lives; a counterbalance to the local-disconnect felt by the globally connected."

--Ed Morrow, co-founder of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., in his introduction to the revised, updated edition of Rebel Bookseller: Why Indie Bookstores Represent Everything You Want to Fight for from Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities (Seven Stories Press).

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships


Image of the Day: Bay Area Booksellers Bash

Earlier this month, Lonely Planet hosted more than 100 booksellers and librarians at its second annual Bay Area Booksellers Bash. "We are fortunate to have the most vibrant bookselling community in the country right here in the Bay Area and our Booksellers Bash gives us an opportunity to celebrate and thank them for their great work," Lonely Planet v-p of sales Gary Todoroff said.

Many of our favorite West Coast booksellers attended. In the top picture, from the l.: Michael Tucker, Books Inc.; Bill Petrocelli, Book Passage; and Amy Thomas, Pegasus Books. At left: John Evans of Diesel Books; and visiting from Bellingham, Wash., Dee and Chuck Robinson of Village Books.


Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Notes: Riggio to Keynote PubWest Conf.; Literary Punch Card

Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio will be the featured keynote speaker at the PubWest Conference November 3-5 in Henderson, Nev., next to Las Vegas. PubWest called Riggio "a visionary and brilliant marketer and entrepreneur for his lifetime of work building Barnes & Noble from a single store to the world's leading bookseller with over 1,300 retail locations.... Riggio will discuss his 50 years in business, his thoughts on the future of bookselling, and his predictions for the future of reading from print to screen."

"Over the past three years at our conference, we've explored the impact of e-books, the best ways to make digital content, and new techniques for making and selling print books," PubWest president Derek Lawrence said. "The cards may seem stacked against book publishers, but we will focus on making a return on both traditional books and new publishing formats. In today's economy, how can publishers make money making books? The PubWest Conference 2011 will ask the top innovators in publishing for their insights into new ways to succeed in publishing."

For more information and to register, go to


Cool idea of the day: The book industry has long shown the ability to take a punch, but a new promotion in Minneapolis/St. Paul proves it can deliver a punch as well. The Star Tribune reported that the Twin Cities Literary Punch Card will be launched September 14. The premise is simple: "Attend a literary event, get a punch. Buy a book at an event, get a second punch. Fill your card--12 punches--get a prize, a $15 gift card to use at any participating bookstore."

The catalyst for this idea was the sometimes anemic attendance figures in an area that is "awash in literary events almost every day of every week of every month--readings, signings, book clubs, launch parties. So the folks from Milkweed, Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Loft Literary Center got together to figure out how to attract larger crowds," the Star Tribune wrote.

Thus far, three bookstores are on board: Magers & Quinn, Common Good Books and Micawber's.

"We're doing four to five a week pretty consistently, and co-sponsoring other ones in other parts of the city--at the Loft, the library, Westminster," said Magers & Quinn manager Jay Peterson. "We bring in some cutting-edge young authors, but for whatever reason, attendance at some of those events is less than I'd expect. I'm hoping more than anything that [the punch card] helps our exposure."

Not every literary event will earn a punch. To qualify, events must be free, include a visit from an author and be hosted by one of the sponsoring organizations or bookstores.

"This isn't to draw crowds away from other events," said Ethan Rutherford of Milkweed Editions. "But we were seeing some of these smaller, independent events without a whole lot of marketing money behind them. An author coming through on tour who doesn't have a lot of friends here or marketing oomph behind him might read to, say, four people. So we're just trying to help spotlight events that might be sort of overlooked."


The Herald-News asked several Chicago-area booksellers what has become the question of the moment: "So how can independent booksellers compete in the market if Borders must shut its doors?"

Judi Brownfield, owner of Books at Sunset, said, "It is about a theme. Each independent bookstore has a theme.... I wanted to sell books that people would settle in with--not necessarily a coffee table book or a tome, but a book that they could nestle in with on a good comfortable chair and that will take you away from the trauma of your day."

Candy Purdom, publicity coordinator for Anderson's Bookshops, noted that the store has "been able to change with the times. We are nimble enough to see what the trends are and continue to satisfy the needs.... With the help of Google e-books, people can purchase e-books through our website. We show people how to browse and buy through our website and Google e-books. That was a great demonstration of how this old bookstore can keep up with current trends and the climate of the industry.... We are convinced that physical books and e-books will be with us for quite awhile in the future and we need to learn to coexist."

David Hunt, co-owner of Town House Books (in photo), cited his cafe, which is adjacent to the bookstore, as one key to success. "We are off the beaten path, so the cafe is an important part of the business."


John Locke, the first self-published author to crack the Kindle Million Club, has signed a deal with Simon & Schuster, which will handle sales and distribution of physical editions of his Donovan Creed novels. The titles will be published by John Locke Books and will be available beginning next February. To date, there have been eight novels in the Creed series, all of which will be available under the distribution agreement, with more titles to follow.

"There are many paths from author to reader," Locke said, "and any path that puts the reader first will be successful. This agreement represents an exciting departure from the norm, and I applaud Simon & Schuster’s incredible vision, and their willingness to provide a vehicle that allows all readers traditional access to my books."


The Girl with the Temporary Tattoo. Less than a month after the late Stieg Larsson's longtime companion, Eva Gabrielsson, described his unfinished manuscript as something that "probably doesn't hang together" (Shelf Awareness, August 3, 2011), Kurdo Baksi disagreed to an extent.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival about his memoir, Stieg Larsson, My Friend, Baksi claimed he was shown the manuscript for a sequel to the Millennium Trilogy that "is 70% complete, strongly features Camilla Salander, the twin of the series' protagonist Lisbeth, and is set 'between Ireland, Sweden and the U.S.,' " the Guardian reported. He also said it would "make the perfect Hollywood film," though he advised against an attempt to complete the novel posthumously because ghost writers "would not respect Stieg Larsson's style."


In a photo slide show, the Daily Beast made its case for Columbia Heights as "America's most literary street," noting that it "is the closest street to the water in the quiet, leafy Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, and the authors who have lived there, if they were lucky, enjoyed commanding views of Manhattan's skyline across the East River."


"Book clubs aren't just about reading" was the headline for a Toledo Blade column by Cherie Spino about the Old Orchard Moms' Group Book Club, which began because the members "had three things in common: We all lived in the same West Toledo neighborhood, we were all moms, and we loved to read.... A decade later, some of us have moved from the 'hood and our kids are no longer babies. But one thing remains constant--book club."

Spino observed that staying on topic is as important as straying from it: "Sure, we get off course. Sometimes our meetings are more about catching up than about the book. But always, at our core, is what brought us together in the first place: books. When we were putting together a list of the books we'd read in our 11 years, we were struck by how many of our choices were testaments to the power of words in the characters' lives."


Celebrities who are also readers have a slight advantage over the rest of us, in that they "often making tens of thousands of dollars for just showing up somewhere, have no such financial restraints and may indulge themselves with those epic home libraries the rest of us can only dream about." Presented as evidence by are "20 celebrities with stunning home libraries."


Words in, words out.

While the Oxford English Dictionary has added several new words to its pages--mankini, retweet, sexting, cyberbullying and jeggings, according to the Daily Mirror--lexicographers at Collins have been equally busy creating an endangered words list that includes aerodrome, wittol, charabanc, drysalter, alienism, cyclogiro and stauroscope, the Guardian reported.

Janice Harayda's One-Minute Book Reviews collects "40 Publishing Buzzwords, Cliches and Euphemisms Decoded" contributed via Twitter (more at #pubcode) by people in the industry. One of our favorites: Free Press associate director of publicity Larry Hughes's definition of memoir: "nonfiction until proven otherwise."


Book trailer of the day: The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Penguin Young Readers), which will be published October 4.

Peculiar Idea of the Day: Borders Foundation Logo Fundraiser

Even though Borders Group is fading away, the Borders Group Foundation, an independent charity created in 1996 that has distributed more than $5 million to Borders employees in difficult straits, says it will "continue to serve and support former Borders associates experiencing an unexpected financial need." Unfortunately this apparently doesn't include unemployment; grants are for "unforeseen emergencies such as death of a family member, divorce or legal separation, natural disaster, disability, serious medical condition and crime." [Editor's note: perhaps "crime" does cover what happened to Borders.]

In a kind of strange fundraiser, the foundation is selling a variety of clothing and gift items featuring the Borders and Waldenbooks logos--but only until August 31, shortly before the auction for all Borders intellectual property, including trademarks. To see the T-shirts, mugs, hats, bags, magnets and more, which may be collectors' items soon, go to Some 20% of all sales goes to the foundation.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Remember You Will Die
by Eden Robins
GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Despite the title, Eden Robins's Remember You Will Die is a joyously enlivening masterpiece. Only dead people inhabit the pages of this novel, their stories revealed predominantly through obituaries ranging from deeply soulful to hilariously delightful. As Christa Désir, editorial director for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks, promises, it's "a book about life and art and loss and being human and messy." By 2102, the singularity has long happened, and an AI called Peregrine learns that her 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, is dead. Unraveling this requires a three-century excavation of relationships, cultures, science, history, and brilliantly sourced etymology. Désir predicts "a cult classic" that readers will want to "immediately pick back up... to find more Easter eggs and clues." Eden Robins could have the singular bestseller of the year. --Terry Hong

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 9781728256030, 
October 22, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Persistence of the Color Line

Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Randall Kennedy, author of The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780307377890).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: readers review The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Dial, $15, 9780385341004).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Daily Show: Jay Bahadur, author of The Pirates of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780307379061).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Nassir Ghaemi, author of A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594202957).

The Help Boosts Mississippi Tourism

The movie based on Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel, The Help, has been in theaters less than two weeks, but "tourism agencies in Greenwood and Jackson have rolled out self-guided driving tours targeting book and movie fans," the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Marika Cackett, a spokeswoman for Jackson's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city currently offers a pair of self-guided tours--The Help in Belhaven Neighborhood Driving Tour and The Help in Jackson Driving Tour.

"People read the book, see the movie, then Google Jackson, Mississippi," Cackett said. "It's cool to say we've been in a motion picture, and the residual effects from this could be a very good thing."

Most of the film was shot in Greenwood, where CVB executive director Paige Hunt noted that tour requests from groups and individuals have risen dramatically.

"We plan to have the tour indefinitely," she said, citing the Steel Magnolias tour in Natchitoches, La., as the reason her group began planning for this in May 2010, after learning The Help would be shot locally. "Steel Magnolias was released in 1989, and the tours are still around."

Hunt added that she had recently received a call "from a lady in Louisiana who is coming here with some girlfriends for a weekend getaway. They're not just doing The Help tour. They're taking a class at Viking Cooking School and exploring what Greenwood has to offer. The movie has brought a lot of excitement to our community." Greenwood is also home of the elegant TurnRow Book Co. bookstore, which opened in 2006 (Shelf Awareness, October 3, 2006).

Bill Crump, chairman of the the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Industrial Foundation, told the Clarion-Ledger he estimates that the direct economic contribution to the area will be $13 million.

Movie Futures: Beware of Red Dog

Red Dog, adapted from the novel by Louis De Bernieres (Corelli's Mandolin) about a dog searching the Australian outback for its owner, is a bona fide hit Down Under. Variety reported that in its third week of release, the movie has earned $8 million, "making it 2011's highest-grossing Australian pic.... This past weekend in Oz, Red Dog, with $2.3 million, beat out debuts of Cowboys and Aliens ($2.1 million) and Conan the Barbarian ($660,000), but lost to Friends with Benefits ($2.6 million)."

The Roadshow Films release, which is directed by Kriv Stenders from a script by Daniel Taplitz, stars Josh Lucas (The Lincoln Lawyer) and Rachel Taylor (TV's Charlie's Angels).

Books & Authors

Awards: James Tait Black Memorial Prizes; Thurber Finalists

Tatjani Soli and Hilary Spurling won the £10,000 (US$16,447) James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, Britain's oldest literary awards. The prizes are given annually by the University of Edinburgh's School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. Previous winners include Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy and A.S Byatt.

"The lineage of the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes speaks for itself, and I am humbled and so proud to be part of it. This award is an undreamed of honor that I will always treasure," said Soli, who won the fiction award for her first novel The Lotus Eaters.

Spurling took the biography prize for Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in China. "I'm proud and pleased to be in the company of so many of my favorite writers, who've already won this first and most elegant of book prizes," she said.


The three finalists for the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor, sponsored by Thurber House, are:
  • Mike Birbiglia for Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories (Simon & Schuster)
  • David Rakoff for Half Empty (Doubleday)
  • Rick Reilly for Sports From Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition (Doubleday)
The winner will be presented at a ceremony at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City on October 3.

GBO Picks Summer Storm

The German Book Office's book of the month for August is Summer Storm by Kristina Dunker, translated by Margot Dembo, published August 1 by Amazon Crossing.

GBO described the YA book this way: "Annie and her friends are enjoying a lazy day of sunbathing by the lake when a summer storm gathers on the horizon. In the scramble to escape the storm, Annie realizes her cousin Gina has gone missing. After a fruitless search in the rain, the teens call the police. However, as hours tick by fear mounts and accusations begin to fly, followed by a disturbing revelation about a member of their group. Annie realizes that the relationships she holds so dear may not at all be, as they seem."

Dunker is the author of more than 20 books for teens and published her first novel at 17. Dembo has translated the works of Judith Hermann, Joachim Fest and Feridun Zaimoglu, among others, and won the Goethe-Institut/Berlin Translator's Prize and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize.


Book Review

Book Review: The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Little Brown, $25.99 hardcover, 9780316126694, September 7, 2011)

Henry Skrimshander is the perfect natural shortstop, and he's all but memorized The Art of Fielding by the greatest shortstop who ever lived. After finishing his final high school baseball game, Henry is doing his usual fielding exercises when he's spotted by Mike Schwartz of Westish College, who offers him a scholarship. Short, scrawny, awkward Henry turns out to be a baseball phenomenon. Together he and Schwartz set out to change the course of Westish athletics.

The novel chronicles five changing lives during Westish's first tumultuous championship season: Guert Affenlight, the troubled president of the college who once discovered a lost lecture of Herman Melville and now finds himself falling in love with a student; Pella, his lovely, formerly estranged daughter who has run away from her husband without leaving a note; Mike Schwartz, the catcher from Chicago, a big, hairy mountain of muscle and soul who captains the Westish Harpooners and takes Henry under his wing; Owen Dunne, a gay, mulatto, environmentalist student nicknamed the Buddha, who is not afraid to kiss the college president; and Henry Skrimshander, weaving through all of their lives, the miracle shortstop who begins to doubt himself the moment the scouts start making their offers.

The story's many minor characters frequently break into full, three-dimensional life with a telling detail or a revealing comment: Chef Spirodocus, the proud, underestimated head of Dining Services; Adam Starblind, the baseballer with movie-star looks and perfect teeth; Izzy Avila, Henry's protégé who is training to take his place. As all of these characters grow and change and meet each other, they become more and more richly human, multifaceted and so real that when Schwartz and Pella quarrel, you feel their pain; when Pella and her father exchange hurtful words, the reader hurts along with them.

Debut author Harbach keeps the pace moving and is adept at ending his chapters with unexpected lump-in-the-throat revelations. As the Harpooners work their way closer and closer to the championship they've never won, as Henry becomes a greater and greater liability, the novel hurtles toward its unguessable ending and the suspense of the final game.

At its best, this huge-hearted novel is about losing what you love the most, be it college, talent or even hope. How people face their lives without the one element that used to give it meaning is Harbach's measuring-stick of character. His endearing people pass their fiery tests with flying colors. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf-Talker: A big-hearted baseball novel about a small, scrawny high school kid who may be the greatest shortstop who ever lived.


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