Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grove Press: Brother Alive by Zain Khalid

Bantam: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Union Square & Co.: A Broken Blade (The Halfling Saga) by Melissa Blair

Sourcebooks Landmark: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

Simon & Schuster: Recording for the Simon & Schuster and Simon Kids Fall Preview 2022

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo


National Book Awards: A Celebration of Communities

"The word national in the National Book Awards has been wonderfully represented tonight," said Nikky Finney, whose poetry collection Head Off & Split (TriQuarterley) was one of the winning titles at last night's ceremony, commenting on the diversity among this year's honorees and how they represented several of America's communities rather than just one. Receiving the award earlier in the evening, she gave an impassioned speech touching not just upon her mentors but on the turbulent history of African-American literacy, which moved master of ceremonies John Lithgow to declare, "That was the best acceptance speech for anything that I've ever heard in my life." As she accepted the fiction prize for her novel Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury), Jesmyn Ward spoke about how she was inspired to write as a way to honor the life of a brother who died young, and how her ambitions have expanded to tell the stories of the South's poor, black, and rural disenfranchised. "This is a life's work," she said, "and I am only at the beginning."

Just before the young people's literature award was presented to Thanhha Lai for Inside Out & Back Again (Harper), there was a muted reference to the controversy surrounding the shortlist, as the jury's chair, Marc Aronson, described 2011 as "a bad year for muffled phone calls with disastrous consequences." (He didn't mention Lauren Myracle or Shine by name, but drew an extended parallel to the St. Louis Cardinals and how, like them, "although we had our little detour, we ultimately had a triumph.") Lai was still dazed by her win at the ceremony's end, noting that it was far beyond the expectations she'd had for a story she originally started telling to share with her nieces and nephews.

At the ceremony last night, Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, for his work in founding the Miami Book Fair International, now in its 28th year. Walter Mosley presented the award.
In his acceptance speech, Kaplan said, "I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with booksellers everywhere, who are doing the same work in their communities.... Writers are writing marvelous books. Readers want to read and find them.... We need to reassert the place of the bookseller.... Our challenge today is to figure out how to solve the complex distribution issues that have arisen in the world we live in."

This year's nonfiction prize went to Stephen Greenblatt for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (Norton). "Who ever thought that a book about a book nerd would win a National Book Award?" quipped National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum (who also pointed out that this was the second year in a row that women writers won in three of the four categories, and comprised 12 of this year's 20 nominees). Greenblatt thanked the poet Lucretius, whose On the Nature of Things was the book discovered after a millennium's absence by Poggio Bracciolini--that 15th-century "book nerd"--helping set the Renaissance in motion. Then, reflecting that "a poem is a text written by an individual, but a book is something that's collectively done," he went on to thank the traditional assortment of publishing colleagues and family members--as Lithgow joked, "That was a damn good acceptance speech, too!" --Ron Hogan


Harper: We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

NYPD Targets Occupy Wall Street Library--Again

The National Book Awards were held at the Cipriani Ballroom at 55 Wall Street, just a few blocks away from Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy Wall Street movement was still recovering from a raid by New York City police in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Damage from that raid included the roughly 5,000-volume "People's Library," although contributors began bringing more books down to the park almost as soon as it re-opened. By late Wednesday afternoon, volunteer librarian Hristo was standing guard over a few hundred titles, stored in several jumbo-sized Ziploc bags to protect them from rain. Contrary to claims by city officials that the library had been preserved during the raid, he said that the majority of the books had been damaged when seized by authorities. (His description was backed up by eyewitnesses at the reclamation center for the property seized during the raid.) He also mentioned that he and other librarians needed to maintain a constant vigil on the small stacks of books, as police had already threatened to seize it should it be left unattended.

An hour later, as guests began arriving at Cipriani for the pre-awards NBA reception, the NYPD returned to the park, providing a solid line of security for a Brookfield sanitation crew as they tossed the entire contents of the restored library into a Dumpster. News of this second seizure spread rapidly as people with access to Twitter began telling others at Cipriani, and some attendees (including myself) encouraged others to take the books displayed on every table to re-restock the library after the ceremony was over. I took two YA nominees to a now near-deserted park, where another volunteer named Anthony vowed that the "People's Library" would rebuild again on Thursday, and we discussed an impromptu strategy: maybe this time, instead of stockpiling all the books in one place, every person taking part in the Occupation should carry a book or two, and people can ask each other what books they have, and if they can borrow them. The police can't seize books from citizens' hands, can they? --Ron Hogan


Tundra Books: The Further Adventures of Miss Petitfour (The Adventures of Miss Petitfour) by Anne Michaels, illustrated by Emma Block

Dedicated E-Readers Still Have a Future

Tablets may be dominating headlines recently, but a report this week from Juniper Research estimates that sales of dedicated e-readers are expected to triple over the next five years and predicts that 67 million e-reader devices will be sold in 2016 (compared with 25 million in 2011). While this figure is considerably less than the 55.2 million tablet sales Juniper forecasts for this year, price cuts and "electronic ink technology will ensure that the device continues to carve out a niche for itself in the wireless device ecosystem," Juniper observed.

GigaOm's Kevin C. Tofel agreed, noting that "there are at least five reasons I can think of that e-readers are here to stay and grow over the coming years, as Juniper says":

  • E-ink displays are still preferred by many and will keep improving.
  • Prices have fallen and may continue to drop.
  • Ability to focus on a single task.
  • Battery life is king.
  • Size matters.


GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West

Tattered Cover Press

Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., has installed an Espresso Book Machine at its Historic LoDo location and created Tattered Cover Press, which the bookseller hopes will become "a community self-publishing center."

"We at the Tattered Cover are thrilled to be the first in Colorado to be able to provide this new service to our customers," said owner Joyce Meskis. "It will enhance our inventory selection by providing quick access to millions of books that can be printed in the store. That means more options for the reader."

In an interview with Chris Devlin's blog, Matt Miller, Tattered Cover's general manager, said the store is "hoping to use the machine to provide better customer service, to work with individuals in the community to promote the value of books as resources and keepsakes, and to work with self-published authors to help provide a valuable resource in their efforts to publish their works. It is also an opportunity to work with publishers to sell their books if we are out-of-stock of a particular title. HarperCollins will be making thousands of their backlist titles available to print on the Espresso Book Machine."

Vintage: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

New Bookstore for Downtown Burlington, Vt.?

Renée Reiner and Michael DeSanto, co-owners of Phoenix Books & Cafe, Essex, Vt., will announce in their holiday catalogue next week that they are exploring the possibility of opening another location in downtown Burlington: "We plan to keep the Essex store open and establish a nearly 6000-square-foot store on or near Church Street within five months."

Seven Days
reported that because the booksellers are still negotiating a lease, they cannot offer specifics about the bookshop's location, but DeSanto said they are "looking for the community to be really involved in this bookstore."

The statement also noted that Reiner and DeSanto "believe that the future can be profitable for a unique, local and independent front-list bookstore in downtown Burlington. We're inviting people who are interested in making this project come about to get in touch with us."

"We're very excited," Reiner said, adding that they "have every reason to think we're going to be successful at doing it."

Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

HMH to Close Indianapolis Warehouse

Restructuring at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will result in the closure of the publisher's Indianapolis West warehouse facility next spring, GalleyCat reported. Other changes will include the departure of the Learning Company president Tony Bordon and Fiona O'Carroll, executive v-p, innovation and new ventures.


Image of the Day: Omnivore & Oenophiles

On Monday, Omnivore Books on Food, San Francisco, hosted a party for The Food Lover's Guide to Wine (Little, Brown) by husband and wife Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. The occasion was also a time for celebration for the store, which that day was named by Bon Appetit as one of the seven best culinary bookstores in the country. Food and wine lovers attending included chefs, sommeliers, home cooks and other authors. Here (from l.): Dorenburg; Omnivore owner Celia Sack; and Page.

E-Book Market for Independents: 'Now or Never'

In a Moby Lives! post headlined "Indies & Ebooks: It's now or never, baby," Dennis Johnson asked: "What can we do to get more indie booksellers involved in the digital economy?" Johnson recommended "a particularly smart commentary on the situation" by University of Indiana professor Ted Striphas on the website The Late Age of Print: Beyond the Book. Striphas had asked his "Cultures of Books and Reading" class to defend or oppose the following statement: "Physical bookstores are neither relevant nor necessary in the age of, and U.S. book culture is better off without them."

Striphas offered two suggestions for indies regarding the e-book market: "The first thing they need to do is, paradoxically, to cease acting independently.... Second, the Indies need to exploit a vulnerability in the dominant e-book platforms; they then need to build and market a device of their own accordingly.... What the Indies need to do, then, is to create an open e-book system, one that's feature rich and, more importantly, platform agnostic." 

Kennedy Joins Reading Group Choices

Neely Kennedy has joined Reading Group Choices as literary director and will work with book clubs, authors, booksellers and publishers to help guide book selections. She has been a reference librarian, worked in sales and promotion at the Naval Institute Press and co-owned the Wise Willow, a children's bookstore in Annapolis, Md.

Video of the Day: Life Cycle of the Book

Publishing Trendsetter's Life Cycle of a Book, a "video collage" that features clips from people in the business on all aspects of the book--from writing, agenting and editing to marketing, sales and bookselling. Among the stars: Stephanie Anderson and Jenn Northington from WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Darrell Hammond on the View

Tomorrow on the View: Darrell Hammond, author of God, If You're Not Up There, I'm F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem (Harper, $25.99, 9780062064554). He will also appear tomorrow on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight.


Tomorrow on NPR's Interfaith Voices: James Martin, author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062024268).


Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Chris Eastland and Andrew Bleinham, authors of ZooBorns Cats!: The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World's Zoos (Simon & Schuster, $11.99, 9781451651904).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Herman Cain, author of This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House (Threshold Editions, $25, 9781451666137).


Tomorrow night on Last Call with Carson Daly: Mr. Fish (a.k.a. Nelson George), author of Go Fish: How to Win Contempt and Influence People (Akashic Books, $18.95, 9781617750144).

TV Sneak Peek: Neil Gaiman on The Simpsons

Fox released images and an official synopsis for this week's episode of The Simpsons, on which special guest Neil Gaiman joins Homer's book-writing team. Comic Book Resources reported that Gaiman also posted a clip from the show, with "a glimpse of a bookstore display showcasing the author's work, including The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1, and The Absolute Death. Clearly they're not in the Springfield Barnes & Noble [see Shelf Awareness, October 7, 2011]."

This Weekend on Book TV: Miami Book Fair International

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, November 19

9 a.m. Rajmohan Gandhi, author of A Tale of Two Revolts: India's Mutiny and the American Civil War (Haus Publishing, $26.95, 9781906598853), talks about two 19th century wars for freedom. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

10:15 a.m. Julia Scheeres, author of A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown (Free Press, $26, 9781416596394), presents a history of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 a.m. and 11:15 p.m., November 26 at 11 a.m. and November 27 at 12:30 a.m.)

12 p.m. Book TV presents live coverage of the Miami Book Fair International, with the opportunity for viewers to talk with several participating authors, including Toure, James Gleick, Leslie Brody, John Avlon and Jim Rasenberger. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

5 p.m. For an event hosted by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Kathryn McGarr discusses her book The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics (PublicAffairs, $29.99, 9781586488772). (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m., November 26 at 3:30 p.m. and November 28 at 2 a.m.)

7 p.m. Coverage of Wednesday's National Book Awards ceremony in New York City, hosted by John Lithgow. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Ralph Nader interviews Patrick Buchanan, author of Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? (Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99, 9780312579975). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 7 a.m., and November 27 at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, November 20

7:30 a.m. Robert Jay Lifton, author of Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir (Free Press, $30, 9781416590767), talks about his life and work. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

11 a.m. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg talks about his book Lake Views: This World and the Universe (Belknap Press, $18.95, 9780674062306). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

12 p.m. Book TV continues its live coverage of the Miami Book Fair International, with viewer call-in segments featuring Randall Kennedy, Brooke Hauser, George McGovern and Jim Lehrer. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: National Outdoor Book Winners

The 2011 winners of the National Outdoor Book Awards, recognizing "the best in outdoor writing and publishing," are:

Classic Award: The Works of John Muir, photographs by Scot Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Natural History Literature: Salvaging the Real Florida: Lost and Found in the State of Dreams by Bill Belleville (University Press of Florida)
Outdoor Literature: Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors (HarperCollins)
Nature and the Environment: Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo, photographs by Robert Llewellyn (Timber Press)
Design and Artistic Merit: Raptors of the West Captured in Photographs by Kate Davis, Rob Palmer and Nick Dunlop (Mountain Press Publishing)
Children's (two winners): The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards (Storey Publishing); To Market, to Market by Nikki McClure (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
History/Biography: Take a Seat: One Man, One Tandem and Twenty Thousand Miles of Possibilities by Dominic Gill (Falcon Guides)
History/Biography (honorable mention): An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science by Edward J. Larson (Yale University Press)
Nature Guidebooks: Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide Through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England by Mary Holland (Trafalger Square Books)
Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks: The Rio Grande: A River Guide to the Geology and Landscapes of Northern New Mexico by Paul W. Bauer (New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources)
Instructional: The Cycling Bible: The Complete Guide for All Cyclists from Novice to Expert by Robin Barton (Falcon Guides)

Book Review

Review: The Villa of Death

Villa of Death: A Mystery Featuring Daphne Du Maurier by Joanna Challis (Minotaur, $25.99 hardcover, 9780312367176, December 2011)

Third in Challis's series of Daphne Du Maurier Mysteries (Murder on the Cliffs and Peril at Somner House), this is another concoction of nostalgia. The story combines elements of Du Maurier's writing, a dollop of Agatha Christie and a smidgen of the Austens. It all adds up to somewhat less than the sum of those parts. At one point, Daphne says, "If anything happened to him, I didn't know what I'd do. I couldn't live without him." However, despite knowing that neither Christie, Du Maurier nor Austen(s) would have written those words, there is some redemption herein.

It is summer 1927 when Daphne travels to Thornleigh Manor, ancestral home of her dear friend Ellen, who is finally going to marry her affianced, with whom she has a young daughter. Why they are not yet married and have a child in these post-Victorian times unfolds slowly and contains some of the elements of the mysteries in the story. Everything is blamed on The War, but there is a good deal more to it than that.

The wedding is lovely, and almost everyone is happy for the couple--but shortly after the ceremony, Teddy, the groom, is found dead. Daphne and the dashing Major Browning team up to solve the crime, and that's not all. Major Browning has a faux engagement to Lady Lara (ostensibly because her father is ill unto death and wants to see her married to Browning), which forms a clumsy plot point, and Daphne, who is besotted with the Major, alternately believes and doubts his affections for the Grand Lady.

Suspects are thick on the ground: Ellen; Harry, a youngish old family retainer; and, most spectacularly, Cynthia Grimshaw, Teddy's ex-wife, a shrill harridan who has threatened to sue Ellen for all the money (and there is a lot of it); and her daughter, Rosalie, to whom Teddy has left money and stock--but not enough in Cynthia's eyes. There are also two or three greedy cousins in the picture, giving Daphne and the Major numerous chances to investigate.

Suddenly, Cynthia Grimshaw is found dead from a broken neck at the bottom of a hotel staircase. Did she trip? Was she pushed? As with all mysteries, there are several red herrings tossed about: nefarious business dealings, a sort-of kidnapping and a friend who is not a friend. The snapper at the end is too convenient and not foreshadowed, but it does tie things together. This is definitely not Manderley. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Daphne du Maurier as heroine-detective tries to solve the murder of her friend Ellen's groom, while her own romance with Major Browning blooms.


KidsBuzz: Katherine Tegen Books: Case Closed #4: Danger on the Dig by Lauren Magaziner
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