Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


Privacy Protection for California Bookstores

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the Reader Privacy Act of 2011, a bill that "will extend privacy protections currently in place for library records to book purchases, including e-books," PC magazine reported. The legislation, which requires government agencies to obtain a court order before accessing customer records from bookstores or online retailers, becomes law January 1.

"California law was completely inadequate when it came to protecting one's privacy for book purchases, especially for online shopping and electronic books," said state Senator Leland Yee, the bill's sponsor. "Individuals should be free to buy books without fear of government intrusion and witch hunts. If law enforcement has reason to suspect wrongdoing, they should obtain a court order for such information."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Amazon to Golden State Affiliates: Welcome Back

Amazon's 10,000-plus California affiliates, whose contracts were terminated in June after the state passed an online sales tax measure (Shelf Awareness, June 30, 2011), are now being invited back into the fold. The Orange County Register reported that on Monday, Amazon "e-mailed websites with which it formerly had an affiliate relationship inviting them to re-enroll in the revenue-sharing program."

The FAQ page on the Amazon Associates' site explains the matter in a way that makes the company sound much more passive than it was in this brutal battle: "California recently enacted a law (AB 155) that allows us to re-open the Amazon Associates program for residents of California. As a result, we have invited all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.... Only Californian Associates whose accounts were closed by Amazon as a result of the now-repealed earlier law (AB X28 1) are eligible to re-enroll."

TechFlash noted that news of a welcome mat for affiliates comes while the focus has been on "when Amazon will start collecting California sales tax (Sept. 15, 2012, pending any federal legislation on the matter), and whether reaching a deal would lead Amazon to invest in California facilities (it has promised $500 million worth of capital investment and up to 10,000 new jobs)."

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

U.K. Booksellers Call for Government Assistance

The Booksellers Association in the U.K. is calling for "a coalition of publishers, government and consumers" to help downtown bookstores survive and thrive. "What is clear from surveying our members is the considerable influence local and national government and our competition authorities have on the high street retailer," BA CEO Tim Godfray said. "There is a lot of talk about putting the high street first, but far more action is needed. Rate relief for businesses with a cultural and educational value would be welcome."

The BA's overall membership has declined by 20% in the last six years, from 4,495 in June 2006 to 3,683 in June 2011, and independent bookshop membership dropped 26%, from 1,483 in June 2006 to 1,099 in June 2011, the Bookseller reported.

In a recent survey regarding concerns local and national government might address, the top three issues cited by BA members were rates (29%), parking (28%) and planning (13%).

Jane Streeter, owner of The Bookcase in Lowdham and president of the BA, agreed: "Booksellers are already at the heart of their communities, key parts of their local high streets, and are undertaking positive and innovative work across the country to make their shops the best places to browse and discover new books. However, if we don’t make a real and concerted effort now, then the economics for high street booksellers simply won’t add up."

5 Under 35

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2011 "5 Under 35" honorees, recognizing five young fiction writers, as chosen by previous National Book Award winners and finalists:

Shani Boianjiu, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth/Crown, forthcoming in 2013). Selected by Nicole Krauss, National Book Award fiction finalist for Great House, 2010

Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead, 2010). Selected by Robert Stone, fiction winner for Dog Soldiers, 1975, and finalist for A Flag for Sunrise, 1982 & 1983, Outerbridge Reach, 1992, and Damascus Gate, 1998

Mary Beth Keane, The Walking People (Mariner, 2009). Selected by Julia Glass, fiction winner for Three Junes, 2002

Melinda Moustakis, Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories (University of Georgia Press, 2011). Selected by Jaimy Gordon, fiction winner for Lord of Misrule, 2010

John Corey Whaley, Where Things Come Back (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011). Selected by Oscar Hijuelos, fiction finalist for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, 1989

They will be honored on Monday, November 14--at the start of National Book Awards Week--during a celebration at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, hosted by filmmaker and author John Waters, with poet and NBF finalist Patricia Smith as DJ.

Dylan's Nobel Prize Odds Are A-Changin' Fast

With the announcement of this year's Nobel Literature Prize laureate just a day away, late money bet at Ladbrokes has dramatically reduced Bob Dylan's odds from a long shot 100-1 to just 5-1 and an unanticipated position at the top of the board.

Syrian poet Adonis, the favorite of oddsmakers and punters for some time, is now in second place at 6-1, followed by Haruki Murakami (8-1), Tomas Transtromer (10-1) and Assia Djebar (10-1).     

Concerned about this development, Ladbrokes told the Guardian it would have "a significant five-figure payout" on its hands if Dylan wins the Nobel. "We've seen enough activity from the right people to suggest Dylan now has a huge chance this year. If he doesn't make the shortlist at least there will be some seriously burnt fingers," said spokesman Alex Donohue. "As Dylan said, money doesn't talk, it swears. If he does the business there might be a few expletives from us as well."

Pennie Picks City of Thieves

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen City of Thieves by David Benioff (Plume, $15, 9780452295292) as her pick of the month for October. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"What's not to love about David Benioff? He's handsome, has a beautiful wife and, oh yeah, has shown more talent in the past few years than most of us could ever hope to exhibit in a lifetime.

"In his second novel, City of Thieves, Benioff tells a coming-of-age story of two World War II prisoners whose only hope for survival lies in stealing a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use for his daughter's wedding cake. As the two slink around a lawless Leningrad [under siege by the Nazis], a great friendship is born.

"Despite the humor that flows through this book, Benioff doesn't shy away from the fact that brutal realities of war are unavoidable for the two protagonists, Lev and Kolya. But he also shows readers the beauty of a friendship formed in the midst of life's ugliest moments."


Image of the Day: Imagine

At a special John Lennon birthday concert and book signing in Dix Hills, N.Y., last Saturday, Square One Publishers marketing director Anthony Pomes performed with his group Mostly Moptop while NPR music critic Tim Riley discussed and signed copies of his new book, Lennon (Hyperion). Books were sold onsite by Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y. At the event (from l.): Pomes, Riley and Book Revue's Caitlin Burke.

Shig Murao: A Bookseller Who Made History

In the Huffington Post, Jan Herman paid tribute to Shig Murao, the bookseller who hired him back in the '60s.

"Fifty-four years ago two undercover cops in San Francisco arrested a clerk at City Lights Bookstore for selling them an 'obscene' book of poetry," Herman wrote. "The clerk was Shigeyoshi Murao. The book was Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Several months later, on October 3, a municipal court judge ruled that the book was protected by the First Amendment because it had 'redeeming social importance' "

Herman noted that Richard Reynolds, former communications director of Mother Jones magazine, has created the website, which honors a bookseller who was 'much more than a clerk.' "

Staff Changes at Harvard Book Store

Heather Gain (l.) is leaving Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., where she is marketing manager and has worked for seven years, to coordinate the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. For the past four years she's been known to many of us as the writer of the store's very readable newsletter.

Rachel Cass is taking over as marketing manager. She joined the bookstore in 2006, working first as a bookseller and then for the past several years as marketing coordinator. She has also run the in-store book club, the Harvard Square Book Circle.

Dickens Bicentenary Expected to Be Great

Start planning those displays and events now. Charles Dickens turns 200 years old February 7, but the Guardian has already launched the festivities with a special section that explores "the writer's life and relevance today through stories, videos, audio, galleries and more."

Highlights include a "My Favorite Dickens" series, featuring appreciations of the author's individual works by several current writers, including D.J. Taylor, Philip Hensher, Kathryn Hughes, Michel Faber, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and John Mullan.

Guardian readers chose Great Expectations as their favorite Dickens novel in a recent poll that saw Pip's adventures garner 24.9% of the vote, besting Bleak House (16.9%) and David Copperfield (9.2% ) among the top three. The least popular was The Mystery of Edwin Drood (0.8%).

Appropriately enough for an author whose characters confronted issues of wealth and poverty, the British Royal Mint will strike a Dickens 2012 coin bearing the novelist’s image. The Guardian reported that Dickens was "featured on the £10 note until relatively recently, alongside an illustration of the cricket match in The Pickwick Papers. A coin seems even more appropriate, I think, for a writer who created some of the most money-grabbing characters in all literature, as well as some of the most impecunious. There is--to me at least--something rather wonderful about buying, say, some soup with a Dickens coin (I was going to write gruel, but I'm not sure where I'd buy gruel these days)."

If you're headed to London soon, you can also follow Oliver Twist's walking route with Jon Henley and Veronica Horwell from Angel Islington to the courthouse of Mr. Fang, the magistrate in Clerkenwell, with an interactive app downloaded "to your MP3 player or mobile and used as an audio guide on location along with the map, which you can print out or use on your phone," the Guardian noted.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Art Spiegelman on MetaMaus

Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Art Spiegelman, author of MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic, Maus (Pantheon, $35, 9780375423949).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: William Shatner, author of Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large (Dutton, $21.95, 9780525952510).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang (Ecco, $23, 9780061579035).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Ellen Schultz, author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers (Portfolio, $26.95, 9781591843337).


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: John Lithgow, author of Drama: An Actor's Education (Harper, $26.99, 9780061734977).


Tomorrow on the Late Show with David Letterman: Caroline Kennedy, author of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (Hyperion, $60, 9781401324254).

HBO Documentary: George Harrison

In two parts tonight and tomorrow night, HBO is airing George Harrison: Living in the Material World, a documentary by Martin Scorsese about the late Beatle. A companion book with the same title is by his wife, Olivia Harrison, and includes an introduction by Paul Theroux and foreword by Scorsese (Abrams, $40, 9781419702204).

Television: Franzen Adapting The Corrections for HBO

During the New Yorker Festival last weekend, Jonathan Franzen confirmed he is adapting The Corrections for HBO. Gothamist reported the author "told a packed session" at the festival that his novel will become "a four-year television series. He also confirmed that indie filmmaker Noah Baumbach is involved with the project, ostensibly as director."

Books & Authors

Awards: Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist

Finalists have been named for the $50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The winner will be announced November 8 in Toronto. This year's shortlist includes:

The Free World by David Bezmozgis
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zsuzsi Gartner
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 11:

The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374203054) is set during the 1980s recession and follows three disillusioned college students caught in a love triangle.

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $25.99, 9780446547659) explores the decades of fallout caused by a misguided high school romance.

My Song: A Memoir by Harry Belafonte and Michael Shnayerson (Knopf, $30.50, 9780307272263) is the memoir of the music icon and human rights activist.

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (Thomas Dunne, $24.99, 9780312547738) fleshes out the story of an infamous villain in this zombie apocalypse series.

Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Ayres (Grand Central, $26.99, 9781455503339) is a humorous memoir mixed with dubious medical advice.

Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam by Lewis Sorley (Houghton Mifflin, $30, 9780547518268) argues that much of the fault for losing the Vietnam War lies with General William Westmoreland.

Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes by Paula Deen and Melissa Clark (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781416564072) is a collection of Southern recipes.

Now in paperback:

The History of the World According to Facebook by Wylie Overstreet (It Books, $14.99, 9780062076182).

Book Brahmin: Sara Varon

Whether her characters are fashioning a community garden from a vacant lot, as in Cat and Chicken, or creating an oasis for a city block within a bakery, as do the characters in Bake Sale (First Second, August 30, 2011), Sara Varon explores connections between people (or chickens, cupcakes and eggplants) and the neighborhoods that help to shape them. She comes out of the graphic novel tradition, and she writes for all ages. As Sara Varon's editor, Mark Siegel, has said, adults think Varon wrote Robot Dreams for them; children think that it's a book for children.


On your nightstand now:

For the past several months, my friend Eddie has been feeding me YA books about the zombie apocalypse. They are quick and action-packed, and they feel a lot like eating candy. I'm a little embarrassed by how much I like them, and too embarrassed to list them by name. I have a "to read" stack of those. The next adult book on my "to read" list is Ann Patchett's State of Wonder.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I remember some favorite picture books, but of course my pool of books was selected by my mom, so I'm not sure if they are my favorites or hers. I especially liked all the Richard Scarry books; Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber; and Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. I also loved the book Stewed Goose by James Flora, which I discovered one day at the library and liked so much I photocopied it. A little later, I really liked the books about Paddington bear, The Wind in the Willows, the Matthew Looney books by Jerome Beatty, and I also read and liked all of the books in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Your top five authors:

William Steig, Joan Sfar, Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami (I hope four is enough).

Book you've faked reading:

I had Moby Dick on my shelf for years because it seemed important, and a friend with good taste in books told me it was his favorite book. After many attempts to read it, I finally sold it back to the used bookstore. I drew a panel in my book Robot Dreams where someone is returning Moby Dick to the library, and I actually got an e-mail from a reader specifically asking why I put that book in there. I had to confess that I had never read it and had only put it in because the title was very short, enabling me to fit it on a tiny drawing of a book. Busted!

Book you are an evangelist for:

I am a big fan of William Steig's book The Real Thief, and would recommend it to anyone who likes Steig's work. As far as I can tell, it hasn't gotten as much attention as his picture books--it's sort of a novella with just a few line drawings. It's about a duck who is a very loyal guard for the king. One day, he is falsely accused of thievery and exiled from his community. The motivations and emotions of the characters seem so true to life, which is the case for all William Steig's characters, but maybe this one is a little meatier simply because it is longer. In the end, the duck is so admirable, and it makes me wish I could be friends with him, which, for me, is the sign of a good book.

I always recommend the Aya books by Clément Oubrerie and Marguerite Abouet, to readers of graphic novels. It's a series about a girl named Aya who lives in the Ivory Coast in the '70s. The story is really funny, and the drawings are so beautiful--so loose, with great colors and patterns. I feel like the author and illustrator do such a good job of showing what it's like to live there, and the books are just a lot of fun.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I am a sucker for a nice book cover. One book I bought for the cover and which paid off was Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Another book I read for the cover (so beautifully designed by Chip Kidd!) was The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon, but I had the opposite experience with that one and gave up around page 100. Penguin Classics put out a series a few years back of classic reprints with covers by contemporary illustrators. I used to salivate over those books, and finally read The Quiet American by Graham Greene. I definitely would not have chosen that one if it hadn't been for Brian Cronin's lovely cover illustration, but I did like it.

Book that changed your life:

I wouldn't say it's my favorite book anymore, but the book that changed my life was Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson. I was looking for zines at Quimby's books in Chicago in the late '90s when I first saw it, and it kind of blew my mind. "Graphic Novels" as they are today did not exist then, and I had never seen a comic book that did not feature superhero-type characters. The main characters were a mouse and a turtle, the story totally appealed to me, and I thought the art was beautiful. After that, I was hooked on indie comics, and I set out to find more.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm not great with words, which is why most of my stories have none, but I do have a favorite picture from a picture book: it's the page in Doctor De Soto, by William Steig, where Doctor De Soto (a mouse dentist) is giving his fox patient laughing gas through his nose, and the fox is smiling and asleep. The line in the book says:
"Soon the fox was in dreamland. 'M-m-m, yummy,' he mumbled. 'How I love them raw... with just a pinch of salt, and a... dry... white wine.' "

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

The Rabbi's Cat by Joan Sfar.



Book Review

YA Review: Legend

Legend by Marie Lu (Putnam, $17.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 12-up, 9780399256752, November 29, 2011)

In her chilling debut novel, Marie Lu imagines a future world in which no one is truly safe. The author's background in gaming keeps the pace swift. The ruling power has wiped out nearly all traces that the United States of America ever existed. Plague devastates the poverty-stricken classes. Only the military and the wealthy can receive inoculations against the ever-evolving disease. But even the privileged fear the Patriots' attempts to overthrow the government.

A mandatory examination determines the fate of every 10-year-old in the Republic. If a child tests well enough, he or she can look forward to a military career; if not, to the labor camps they go. Only one child has been known to score a perfect 1500: June Iparis. She is one of a pair of alternating narrators in this tale of two 15-year-olds from the opposite side of the tracks. The other, Day, was informed that he had failed his exam. He escaped his fate and now roams the streets as "the Republic's most-wanted criminal." June may be brilliant, but her goal is to prove her physical agility by matching Day's feats, such as scaling five stories in less than eight seconds. Day's main mission is to provide for his widowed mother and two brothers, stealing money and medications to keep them going, and also helping out his destitute neighbors in the Lake District. Only his older brother knows Day is alive. But when the military posts an unusual symbol on his family's door to mark the dwelling as plagued, Day investigates and discovers strange numbers concealed around the Lake District. He learns that a far more diabolical force is at work in the Republic.

In his attempt to secure a vaccine for his younger brother, Day injures June's brother, a captain in the Republic's military, and the Republic accuses Day of murder. June becomes obsessed with uncovering Day's identity and taking revenge--but she also knows Day has never before killed someone. Why her brother, and why now? And what had her brother been trying to tell June before he died?

How June and Day come together and use their natural-born talents makes for riveting reading. Their birthrights pit them against each other, but Marie Lu shows us how similarly they think and use their skills—and they may even share a common enemy. The first in a planned series, this comes to a satisfying close, but leaves enough unanswered questions to bring readers back for answers. --Jennifer M. Brown



The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Books in September

The following are the most popular book club books during September based on votes from readers and leaders of more than 32,000 book clubs registered at

1. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
2. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
8. The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain
9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
10. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave

Top Risers:

34. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (new to list)
43. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (new to list)

[Many thanks to!]

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