Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 18, 2011


St. Martin's Press: A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong

Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Second Edition, Revised) by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, illustrated by MacKenzie Haley

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Sleeping Bear Press: Santa's Secret by Denise Brennan-Nelson, illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Abrams Books for Young Readers: Harry Houdini (First Names) by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Geraint Ford and Amelia Earhart (First Names) by Mike Smith, illustrated by Andrew Prentice

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

News

Myracle Withdraws Book from NBA Consideration

Lauren Myracle's accidental inclusion among this year's nominees for the National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category (Shelf Awareness, October 13, 2011) ended yesterday when the author withdrew her novel Shine from consideration, "citing pressure from the National Book Foundation," the Huffington Post reported.

"I was over the moon last week after receiving the call telling me that Shine was a finalist for the award," Myracle said in a statement. "I was later informed that Shine had been included in error, but would remain on the list based on its merits. However, on Friday I was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges' work, and I have agreed to do so."

She added that when she first learned her book about discrimination toward gay youth in schools had been shortlisted, she "was humbled and honored to be in the company of such amazing authors. I was also deeply moved that in recognizing Shine, the NBF was giving voice to the thousands of disenfranchised youth in America--particularly gay youth--who face massive discrimination and intimidation every day."

The date the National Book Award finalists were announced, October 12, was the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death, which "seemed at the time to give a special resonance to the announcement as Shine deals with the issues of hate crimes and the bullying of gay teens," Susan Van Metre, senior v-p and publisher of Abrams Books for Young Readers, told Shelf Awareness. "So when it seemed Shine must come off the list, Lauren wanted some good to come of all of this and proposed a donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the National Book Foundation graciously agreed."

Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the NBF, told the New York Times that the "whole thing is a regrettable incident and I wish it hadn’t happened. I feel terrible personally, and I feel terrible for Lauren." Although he wouldn't discuss how the error occurred, calling that "an internal question," Augenbraum added: "Believe me, it won’t happen again."

Myracle's supporters were not pacified. A blog post by Libba Bray, the wife of Myracle's agent Barry Goldblatt, harshly criticized the National Book Foundation's process and decision on this issue. On Twitter, many were using the hashtags #IsupportShine and #buyshine, urging people to buy Shine from an independent retailer.
 


Blue Rider Press:  One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten


More New Bookstores in Old Borders

Shawnee Books & Toys, Shawnee, Kan., opened recently at a former Borders Express on Quivira Road. Store manager Michelle Ranney had worked for other Borders locations and "stayed through the chain's liquidation process, seeing firsthand the effects of a bookstore's closure in a community," the Dispatch reported.

"Those were the ones that would make you cry: the teenagers that would come in that had been coming to the store for like 10 years and be like, 'this is my home,' " she said, adding: "I want people to still feel that way. I want kids to grow up here.”

Andy Coonce, who worked at the Shawnee Borders Express for a year before it closed, said, "I'm very excited that this is an indie thing. It's a dream come true. I always wanted to work at a bookstore that wasn't so retail-y."

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Books-A-Million has scheduled mid-November openings for new bookstores in two former Borders locations in the Greater Pittsburgh area--a Borders Express at the Beaver Valley Mall in Monaca and the Borders at the Clearview Mall in Butler. The Business Times reported that BAM "has stores in Pennsylvania but none in Greater Pittsburgh. The closest Books-A-Million were in Triadelphia and Morgantown, W.V."
 
In Connecticut, BAM will open a recently closed Borders store in Waterford next month, the Day reported. BAM spokesman Bill Todd said the Waterford Commons location "is very attractive from a readership standpoint. A lot of people there really enjoy books."
 
BAM will also be opening its first locations in Maine by mid-November in Bangor and South Portland, where Borders stores were located, and at a former Waldenbooks location in the Auburn Mall, the Bangor Daily News wrote.

Publisher Dean Lunt, owner of Islandport Press in Yarmouth, welcomed the news of BAM's arrival: "Given the situation in the industry, any time a bookstore opens it is a good thing--especially a bookstore with the finances and the reach and the marketing power of someone like Books-A-Million."
 


 Peachtree Publishing Company: Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (Revised) by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinso


British Library Criticized for Amazon Link

Booksellers in the U.K. have reacted strongly to an Amazon link on the British Library's public online catalogue. The Bookseller reported that the catalogue lists more than 13 million items in the library's collection with appropriate details, then adds a final field--"This item in Amazon.co.uk"-- and link for each record. If the title is not available, the page offers a "More titles to consider" option instead.

After briefly removing the link last week, the British Library now says it will be reinstated, claiming the link was dropped "while results of the pilot [linking scheme] were discussed internally" but that it was being restored "because of its usefulness for library users seeking further information about collection items."

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstone's, said, "It's disappointing to say the least that a very British institution is driving readers away from local libraries and high street bookshops. In an environment where high street booksellers and libraries face huge pressures, it is a shame that the British Library choose to give their endorsement to one aggressively commercial organisation."

Johnny de Falbe, co-owner of London's Sandoe bookshop, called the move an "insidious undermining" of bookshops and said: "The British Library, a public institution, should not be offering this link to Amazon, which is not (last I heard) a public institution. And if the British Library, of all people, are not supporting British bookshops, and positively steering business away from independents, then why should anyone else have any faith, or interest, in independents?"

A British Library spokesperson had initially contended the Amazon option was a pre-built generic link that came with software supplied by the search engine behind the library's website and online integrated catalogue. The spokesperson denied there was any revenue being generated from the arrangement.
 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Amazon's Locker Delivery System Hits Big Apple

After testing Amazon Locker close to the Seattle home office in select 7-Elevens, the online retailer has now expanded its new package delivery system to New York City. SlashGear reported that there "are eight locker systems in each of the major cities. The idea is that the lockers could be used to deliver packages bought from Amazon rather than having them shipped to a person's residence or office."  

Engadget, which tracked down one of the post office-style lockers in Seattle last month, noted yesterday that if you are in an area offering this option, you can add a locker location to your address book, then "your package will be crammed into one of these kiosks and you'll be given a code to unlock a particular slot at the location of your choice. So far there are eight scattered around Manhattan in Rite Aids, D'Agostinos and Gristedes."


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


Notes

Image of the Day: Where's Ozzy?

Last Friday, Ozzy Osbourne rocked Riverside, Calif., the third of four visits to Barnes & Noble stores in Southern California to promote his new book, Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy (Grand Central). He drew nearly 1,000 fans--and here (in shades, of course) he's pictured with the store's enthusiastic staff.


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum


New Release Date for Madoff-Mack Book

Blue Rider Press will publish The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life by Stephanie Madoff-Mack--Bernie Madoff's daughter-in-law--on October 20. The book, which chronicles her husband’s suicide, as well as the scandal, media storm and Madoff family dynamics surrounding it, will be published simultaneously in hardcover, e-book and Penguin digital audio formats.
 


Free Book: Take It or Leave It

In Germany, "free-for-all" libraries are " popping up across the nation on street corners, city squares and suburban supermarkets," the Associated Press (via the San Francisco Chronicle) reported. These public bookshelves are "usually financed by donations and cared for by local volunteer groups."

"This project is aimed at everyone who likes to read--without regard to age or education. It is open for everybody," said Michael Aubermann, one of the organizers of the free book exchange in Cologne. "We installed our other outdoor shelves last year and it's been working really well."

Even some booksellers are on board with the idea. Elmar Muether, acting branch manager at Cologne's Mayersche Buchhandlung bookstore, said, "We see this project rather as a sales promotion than as competition. If books are present everywhere, it helps our business too."

Public bookcases can sometimes have their drawbacks, though. In a New York Times piece headlined "Shelf-Obsessed Writer," Jami Attenberg chronicled her observations of a local café's "free bookcase," as well as the fraught experience of adding three of her titles to the collection, after which she "stalked my own books for five days."
 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Power & Beauty

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Patrick Buchanan, author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9780312579975).

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Today on the View: Tip "T.I." Harris, author of Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets (Morrow, $23.99, 9780062067654).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jacques Pepin, author of Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food (Houghton Mifflin, $40, 9780547232799).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Andrew Carmellini, author of American Flavor (Ecco, $34.99, 9780061963292).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Nile Rodgers, author of Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780385529655).


Jewel of a Novel... in 3D

Tiffany & Co. will create the jewelry for Baz Luhrmann's 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 classic novel. Forbes reported that the director and Catherine Martin, the film's costume and production designer, worked with the luxury jeweler to craft "a collection of platinum-set diamonds and lustrous pearls that complement the period clothes that will help give the actors a true sense of the high life as celebrated by their characters."

Jon King, Tiffany's executive v-p, called the collaboration "a natural for us. Our archives contain spectacular jewels from the 1920s that are the basis of the one-of-a-kind designs we have created for this iconic American story."

Forbes also noted that "Fitzgerald was a regular Tiffany customer and Louis Comfort Tiffany, the brand's first design director, mixed in the actual Long Island circles described in the novel." The interior of Gatsby’s home in the movie will also feature Tiffany china, sterling silver flatware and other accessories.
 



Books & Authors

Awards: Toronto Book; Premio Planeta

Rabindranath Maharaj won the $11,000 Toronto Book Award for The Amazing Absorbing Boy, "less than four months after winning the Trillium Book Award for the same novel," the National Post reported.

Toronto Councillor Gary Crawford, who was representing Mayor Rob Ford, said the winning novel "gives a unique perspective about our diverse city, and was selected from 78 book submissions. All of these authors tell great stories about Toronto and can be very proud of their work." The other finalists were James King, Alissa York, Nicholas Ruddock and James FitzGerald.

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Javier Moro has won this year's €600,000 (US$830,000) Premio Planeta award, the prestigious prize for novels in Spanish, for his book El imperio eres tu (The Empire, It's You). The book "is based on the life of Brazil's first Emperor Dom Pedro I (1798-1834), who backed the nationalist cause against imperial power Portugal," AFP reported.
 


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, October 24 and 25:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781451648539) uses interviews--including more than 40 with Jobs himself--to create an encompassing portrait of the late Apple visionary.

Men in the Making by Bruce Machart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780156034449) is a collection of short stories exploring the modern role of manhood.

Destined by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (St. Martin's Griffin, $18.99, 9780312650254) continues the paranormal romance House of Night series.

The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck (Threshold, $21, 9781439187203) is a Christmas-themed novel by the former Fox News pundit.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Random House, $18.99, 9780375814709) is the third Legend of Beka Cooper fantasy novel.

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Phantom by L. J. Smith (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062017680) continues the popular YA paranormal series.

Confessions of a Guidette by Nicole Polizzi (Gallery, $25, 9781451657111) is Snooki's latest literary endeavor.

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson by Hunter S. Thompson and Jann Wenner (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781439165959) compiles all of Thompson's Rolling Stone articles.


'Don't Quit Your Day Job': Some Authors Who Did

Struggling writers might gain some working inspiration from the example of writers who, before they were successful, paid the bills any way they could. Flavorwire offered some examples in its feature on strange day jobs of authors before they were famous: "After all, many of the most famous authors in American history had a few pretty weird day jobs to pay the bills before they hit the big time, and we don’t know about you, but we find that to be a comforting thought."
 


On the Road with Going Home Author Jon Katz

When customers called Battenkill Books in Cambridge, N.Y., recently to order copies of Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die (Villard, $22), they were in for a surprise. Manning the phones for a day was the book's author, Jon Katz, who lives nearby. Some readers screamed in excitement, others demanded to know if it was truly him and one, who rang just as he was signing a copy of the book for her, dictated exactly what she wanted written. "It was a riot," said Katz. "It was like a bunch of old friends getting together by the wood stove."

Avid fans from Texas to Tasmania have ordered more than 450 copies of Going Home from Battenkill since early August, starting some two months before the book went on sale. After seeing a notice on novelist Jennifer Egan's website directing readers to her local bookshop to purchase signed, personalized copies of her books, Battenkill owner Connie Brooks asked Katz if he would do something similar.

Almost immediately after Katz blogged about the offer on his website, "the phone started ringing off the hook and emails started coming in," said Brooks. She and her two employees have been working around the clock to fulfill the orders. "I thought we might get 30 or 40 requests, and we're well on our way to 500."

Brooks is planning to do something similar with other local authors. A mention on Jenna Woginrich's website of her new book, BarnHeart: The Incurable Longing for a Farm of One's Own, a December publication, has already generated more than 100 advance orders. Offering personalized copies has been a significant draw, noted Brooks. Many customers are asking to have Going Home inscribed to friends in memory of pets they recently lost.

Katz lives not far from Battenkill Books, on Bedlam Farm, which he shares with a menagerie of dogs, cats, donkeys and other assorted creatures, some of whom have been featured in his previous books. His 20 works include the memoirs Soul of a Dog and Izzy & Lenore, the novel Rose in a Storm and the children's title Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm.

Part memoir and part advice guide, Going Home wasn't a book Katz had thought about writing until he spoke at a veterinarian conference. He was asked by doctors there if he would consider addressing the death of pets and the grieving process, something they were often asked about but had no resource to recommend to their human patrons. It turns out the vets were onto something.

Many books on the death of a pet focus on the idea of an afterlife and one day being reunited with the animal, while Going Home "gives readers specific tools they can use," noted Katz. "It gives them a license to feel bad, and it gives them a license to feel better; to grieve and then to move on." He spoke with several hundred people while writing the book and includes the perspectives of veterinarians and pet owners, in addition to sharing his own stories of loving and losing animals.

At Katz's inaugural signing for Going Home, about a third of the audience members, many of whom were eager to tell tales of their own furry friends, were moved to tears. "This is new terrain for me because I consider myself a storyteller. I've never actually written a book like this or had to deal with that much emotion from the other side of the podium," Katz said. "It was very personal communication between a writer and an audience."

A Facebook page dedicated to Going Home, started by Katz as a place for animal lovers to display pictures in memory of their pets (among them cats, dogs, horses, ferrets and iguanas) and to share their grief, has inspired a deluge of postings and comments. A YouTube video he created using some of those images has received more than 58,000 hits, while an excerpt from the book on Slate.com has been viewed more than a million times.

Several years ago, at the suggestion of his agent, Katz began blogging, posting videos and photographs on his website, and using social media. "He said to me, if you want to stay a writer, you're going to have to get off your butt, and I did," said Katz. "My blog has so improved my writing life and advanced it. I feel grateful that I did it. It has enabled me to bring people into the life of the writer, which makes the books all the more relevant to them."

A popular feature on Katz's blog, "The Farm Journal," offers videos featuring the antics of Simon, a donkey rescued from an abusive home and adopted by Katz. Simon has garnered legions of fans, including a van full of Pennsylvania tourists who once came searching for Katz's farm and happened upon man and beast out for a stroll. They recognized Simon and stopped for a photo op.

Katz is on the road promoting Going Home, including visiting a number of bookstores on what he has dubbed the "Support Vermont" leg of his tour. The devastation in the state caused by Hurricane Irene in late August "touched my heart," Katz said. "I think these stores need some attention and need some morale."

One Vermont bookseller Katz is looking to support is Lisa Sullivan. He was a frequent guest at her Brattleboro store, the Book Cellar, until it was destroyed in a fire earlier this year. Sullivan's second retail shop, Bartleby's Books in Wilmington, sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Irene and is scheduled to re-open by Thanksgiving. The store's event with Katz on November 3 will be held at the Deerfield Valley Elementary School. Donations will be accepted for the Wilmington Flood Relief Fund.

On the Farm Journal, along with drawing readers into the daily happenings at Bedlam Farm, Katz is chronicling his book tour and offering updates on the Herculean efforts of Connie Brooks and her staffers. On the day he spoke with callers at Battenkill Books, "every one of them said thank you to me for supporting the store. I never saw so much firsthand evidence that people really do care about bookstores," said Katz, whose event last week at Battenkill was standing room only. "I think this absolutely demonstrates people want to support bookstores if we can help them do it." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Book Review

Review: Blue Nights

Blue Nights by Joan Didion (Knopf, $25 hardcover, 9780307267672, November 1, 2011)

Didion's last book, The Year of Magical Thinking, was a poignant memoir of her nearly 40-year marriage to John Gregory Dunne, who suffered a fatal heart attack at the dinner table in 2003, while their only daughter, Quintana Roo, was very ill in a New York City ICU. Blue Nights is a meditation on the death of her daughter at age 39 in 2005, illness, aging and the wisdom or folly of having children at all.

Blue nights are the long, light evening hours that signal the coming of the summer solstice; those nights in May and June that are "the opposite of the dying of the brightness, but also its warning." Didion uses this as the beginning of her incantatory rendering of all that she has to say about her current state, which is one of frailty, poor health and a deep longing for her husband and daughter.

Quintana was adopted on the day she was born, coming home to a house that would not have had a layette or a bassinet were it not for friends; Didion was at a loss as to how to anticipate a child's needs. And that is part of the crux of the tale. She accuses herself, excuses herself and constantly comes back to a variation on the same theme: Did I get it right? Was it something I did? Didn't do?

Quintana was eventually diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder," that nondescript basket of symptoms that means a person isn't quite fitting in. In view of that, it is interesting that Didion makes no mention of her own breakdown in 1968, when Quintana was two. She carefully documented it in The White Album, but it doesn't enter here.

There are several lines repeated like mantras, spoken by Quintana, who started worrying when she was about four, and by Didion, who was born worried. The reader is of two minds, questioning which reaction to the book is the right one: Are Didion's neurotic/neurasthenic tendencies a narcissistic show or is her beautiful prose truly indicative of a great sadness? The only fair conclusion is: some of each.

When the prose moves away from self-examination, there is more of Didion at her not quite best but still impressive writerly self. She is not aging gracefully, hates hospitals and isn't certain that she was very good at having a child. She writes with more enthusiasm about '50s parties, smoking, drinking and celebrities. A life of cosseted privilege not spared the two horrendous deaths that she could not stop makes us, ultimately, sympathize with her. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Joan Didion recounts her experience of motherhood, her daughter's place in her life and the aching loss she feels at losing her child.

 

 


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