Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books


Walter Dean Myers Sworn In at the Library of Congress

Yesterday morning, at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, author Walter Dean Myers was sworn in as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He is the third author to hold this position; Jon Scieszka was the first, followed by Katherine Paterson.

At his inauguration, Myers opened with a story about a conversation he had had with two men. One of the men pointed out that he had a lot in common with Myers: they both played basketball; they both played the saxophone; they grew up on the streets. Myers agreed there were some similarities, but there was one big difference: "We're in a maximum security prison," Myers pointed out, "and I'm going home." But the conversation stayed with Myers. He grew up in a foster home, he dropped out of school. It was a slippery slope. "Why didn't I go the way he went?" Myers asked himself. "Because I could read. I had the ability to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way." The prisoner could not read.

Most of Myers's accolades--two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, two National Book Award finalists, the Margaret Edwards Award--were accrued for his young adult books, but Myers wants to drive home the message that parents need to read to their babies. "Read to the children at three months, six months, nine months old," he said, citing a new study showing that, when they start school at five years old, most kids are "already far behind." One of his other goals: "Reading has to become cool for boys," he said. Myers recalled placing blocks of wood under his bed's legs to raise it up and make room for all the comics kept hidden there (his mother didn't approve of comics). His platform as ambassador: "Reading is not optional." He discussed his goals at length with David Greene yesterday morning on NPR's Morning Edition. --Jennifer M. Brown


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

RH of Canada Acquires Sole Ownership of McClelland & Stewart

Random House of Canada has acquired sole ownership of storied publisher McClelland & Stewart, which was established in 1906 and existed independently until 2000, when chairman and owner Avie Bennett donated 75% of the company to the University of Toronto and sold 25% to Random House of Canada, Quillblog reported, adding that until yesterday's announcement, M&S "had technically operated as a separate and independent entity."

"We are pleased to note that the needed regulatory approval has been obtained from the responsible authority," Random House of Canada said in a press release. Doug Pepper will remain president and publisher. Ellen Seligman, executive v-p and publisher of fiction, will also continue in her role.

Tundra Books, M&S's children’s imprint, will become the Canadian children's publishing program within Random House of Canada, headed by managing director Alison Morgan and editorial director Tara Walker.

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Amazon Battles Apple in the 'Cloud'

Amazon has introduced "a touch-optimized Kindle Store for iPad that will allow readers to purchase or read Kindle e-book selections via Safari," PC Magazine reported, calling it the company's latest attempt to skirt Apple's in-app subscription rules. The feature currently works with Safari on the iPad and desktop and with Google Chrome.

Kindle Cloud Reader provides access to e-books through the browser with no downloading or installation required and automatically syncs with other Kindle apps, "allowing you to start reading on the Web and pick up on an iPhone or Kindle, for example," PC Magazine reported.

"Will users sign on for Cloud Reader?" PC Magazine asked, noting that a recent study by NPD Group "found that many consumers are still not exactly sure what 'cloud computing' is, though they use it all the time. Of the 1,800 people polled by NPD, 22% were not familiar with the term 'cloud computing,' though 76% have used an Internet-based service in the last 12 months."

But Stephen Baker, NPD's v-p of industry analysis, observed: "Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications. They might not always recognize they are performing activities in the cloud, yet they still rely on and use those services extensively. Even so, they are not yet ready to completely give up on traditional PC-based software applications."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

Random House Extends '2-Day-Transit' Indie Shipping

Citing "the overwhelmingly appreciative response" to its 2-Day-Transit Program, which offered independent booksellers accelerated free shipping during the holiday season, Random House is extending the initiative through March 2. Orders received by 3 p.m. will leave the publisher's Maryland or Indiana distribution centers no later than the next business day and ship door-to-door in two business days or less, according to the publisher.

Madeline McIntosh, Random House's president of sales, operations and digital, said the decision to extend the program, which was originally set to end tomorrow, was made "to give indies a chance to restock their post-holiday inventory, and to get ready for what we hope is a busy winter sales season."

Baby Bagnulo: A Future Bookseller Is Born

Congratulations to Greenlight Bookstore co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Michael Bagnulo on the birth yesterday at 12:43 p.m. of Marian Hanna Bagnulo, who weighs 7 lbs., 6 oz. Mother, father and daughter are doing well.



Image of the Day: Pandamonium

Last Thursday, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted a launch party for The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein (Melville House), which is intercut with Narnia-like sequences called "the Littlest Panda." When Stein read from the book, she asked the audience to raise panda masks during the "Littlest Panda" sections.


Patricia Eisemann Promoted at Holt

Patricia Eisemann has been promoted to v-p, director of publicity, at Henry Holt. She joined the company last January and earlier was assistant director, media relations and community affairs/corporate communication, at the New York Times; v-p, director of publicity at Scribner; and publicity director at Macmillan and the Fireside and Touchstone imprints at S&S.

Chelsea Green Staff Enhancements

Chelsea Green has announced the following appointments, meant in part to expand e-book offerings, enhance its online presence and build a stronger community:

  • Justin Nisbet has joined the company as director of digital development. He has worked in publishing and digital media for more than 15 years and for the past decade was at Workman Publishing, where he oversaw web properties and helped launch the digital publishing program.
  • Shay Totten has been named communications director. She is a longtime journalist and former editorial director at Chelsea Green.
  • Melissa Jacobson has joined the company as in-house book designer. She formerly worked at Quirk Books, where she coordinated print production, managed and designed sales materials and established a digital-content conversion program.

In other news, Chelsea Green has opened an office in Burlington, Vt., that houses key communications, website and author events staff.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dennis Cooper on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Matthew Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror (Bloomsbury Press, $28, 9781608194810).


Tomorrow on the View: Heather Donahue, author of Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot (Gotham, $26, 9781592406920).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show: Michael Hastings, author of The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan (Blue Rider Press, $27.95, 9780399159886).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Dennis Cooper, author of The Marbled Swarm (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780061715631). As the show put it: "This complex and visionary novel is the first that's not set in Los Angeles. This time it's Paris in a haunted house, and in the sophisticated kitchen of an aristocratic cannibal tribe. Dennis Cooper speaks about the inarticulate emotions that underlie the razzle-dazzle of secret corridors, lush language, brutality and desire."


Tomorrow night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, author of Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They'll Never Believe It's Gluten-Free (Ballantine, $30, 9780345529381).

TV: L.A. Noir

TNT has greenlighted a pilot for L.A. Noir, based on John Buntin's book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) will write and direct the pilot. He will also serve as executive producer with Michael De Luca (The Social Network) and Elliot Webb (Tall Time Tales). Alissa Phillips (Moneyball) is co-executive producer.

"The story of L.A. Noir is inspired by an incredibly dramatic period in the history of Los Angeles," said Michael Wright, executive v-p and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. "This project is a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob."

"Noir is a passion of mine, so I feel blessed to delve into a project that speaks in the hard-boiled vernacular,” Darabont noted. "John Buntin’s superb book, though nonfiction, is our touchstone and inspiration for the stories we’ll be telling, weaving fiction throughout the facts, and facts throughout the fiction."

On the Road Finally Nearing Destination?

A long, strange trip to bring Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road to the big screen (Kerouac asked Marlon Brando to play Dean Moriarty in 1957, and producer Francis Ford Coppola acquired the rights in 1980) may finally reach its destination at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

IndieWire reported that "the post-production is wrapping up and European theatrical dates are slowly coming into focus." The film is directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycles Diaries) and stars "a promising young cast" that includes Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Tom Sturridge and Kristen Stewart, as well as veterans Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst and Terrence Howard.

"We just finished the edit and the mix in Paris," Salles said. "There are still a few steps left until the film is completely finished (designing titles and credits, getting the digital workprint back to 35mm, etc.) The independent company that produced the film, MK2, is now working on the site and trailer. As for release dates, they tend to vary from country to country when a film is distributed independently."

IndieWire noted that "the release in France, which producer Charles Gillibert revealed on Twitter is set for May 23rd, running concurrently with the tail end of this year's Cannes Film Festival (scheduled for May 16-27). This primes the film for a potential premiere on the Croisette, which will precede the Gallic theatrical release." On the Road does not have a North American distributor yet.

Books & Authors

Awards: Jewish Book Winners; Shortlist Extravaganza

Winners of the 2011 National Jewish Book Awards have been named in 18 categories and will be honored March 14 during a ceremony at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan. View a full list of winners and finalists here. The Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year Award goes to Simon Sebag Montefiore for Jerusalem: The Biography (Knopf).

The Jewish Book Council has also launched a new website, featuring book reviews, purchase links, social media sharing options, Jewish book club resources, calendar listings, guest author blogs, updates from the Jewish literary scene and more.


The three finalists for the Story Prize, which honors short story collections and is underwritten by the Chisholm Foundation, are:

The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo (Scribner)
We Others by Steven Millhauser (Knopf)
Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books)

The prize will be awarded on Wednesday, March 21, at the New School in New York City: the three finalists will read from their work after which Prize director Larry Dark will interview each writer. At the end of the evening, founder Julie Lindsey will announce the winner. The winner receives $20,000 and each runner up $5,000.


Finalists have been named for this year's $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction, which honors an author published in Canada "whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception." The winner will be announced March 5 in Toronto. The shortlisted titles are:
Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe by Charlotte Gill
The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit by J.J. Lee
Afflictions and Departures: Essays by Madeline Sonik
The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery by Andrew Westoll


An unprecedented seven novels have been shortlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize:

Jamil Ahmad (Pakistan), The Wandering Falcon
Jahnavi Barua (India), Rebirth
Rahul Bhattacharya (India), The Sly Company of People Who Care
Amitav Ghosh (India), River of Smoke
Kyung-Sook Shin (South Korea), Please Look After Mom
Yan Lianke (China), Dream of Ding Village
Banana Yoshimoto (Japan), The Lake

The winner of the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize will be announced on March 15 in Hong Kong.

The six shortlisted titles for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2012, which is supported by the Booker Prize Foundation and funded by the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy, are:

The Vagrant by Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
Embrace on Brooklyn Bridge by Ezzedine Choukri Fishere (Egypt)
The Druze of Belgrade by Rabee Jaber (Lebanon)
The Unemployed by Nasser Iraq (Egypt)
Toy of Fire by Bashir Mufti (Algeria)
The Women of al-Basatin by Habib Selmi (Tunisia)

The winner will be announced on March 27 on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. An English translation of the winning novel is guaranteed to the winner.


The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust have named this year's finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award, which recognizes distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the U.S. The winner and any special citations will be announced April 6 at Norwescon 35 in SeaTac, Wash. The 2011 shortlisted books are:

A Soldier's Duty by Jean Johnson (Ace Books)
After the Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh (Small Beer Press)
Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
The Other by Matthew Hughes (Underland Press)
The Postmortal by Drew Magary (Penguin Books)
The Samuil Petrovitch Trilogy by Simon Morden (Orbit)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected titles appearing next Tuesday, January 17:

Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir by Wael Ghonim (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547773988) gives an insider's perspective of the Egyptian revolution and how other aspiring revolutionaries can use the power of social media.

Ten Tea Parties: Patriotic Protests That History Forgot by Joseph Cummins (Quirk Books, $18.95, 9781594745607) is an account of the nine other colonial Tea Parties that occurred outside of Boston.

Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle by Andrea Hiott (Ballantine, $26, 9780345521422) chronicles the Beetle's history from Nazi Germany through the present.

God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780618091560) explores the history and lingering influence of the Catholic Inquisition.

The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss and illustrated by Scott Mckowen (Quirk Books, $16.95, 9781594745515) is literally a book with two sides, each a different perspective on the same romance.

Dead Low Tide: A Novel by Bret Lott (Random House, $26, 9781400063758) is a murder mystery set in lowland swamps near Charleston, S.C.

The End of Illness by David Agus (Free Press, $26, 9781451610178) argues that improving technology and preventative treatment for the body as a whole can reduce sickness.

Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark R. Levin (Threshold Editions, $26.99, 9781439173244) blames liberals for ruining America.

Taft 2012: A Novel by Jason Heller (Quirk Books, $14.95, 9781594745508) revives the rotund 27th President for a 2012 White House run.

Now in paperback:

The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland by Frank Delaney (Random House, $15, 9780812979749).

Book Brahmin: Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, the Paris Review, Harper's, Tin House, Granta and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories. His other books include the story collection Emporium and the novel Parasites Like Us. His new book is The Orphan Master's Son (Random House, January 10, 2012), which follows a young man's journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels and eerie spy chambers of the world's most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. Johnson lives in San Francisco.

On your nightstand now:

I have several advance reader editions: The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant, A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois, Monstress by Lysley Tenorio, Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I wasn't a rabid reader as a kid. I read Tolkien and a lot of series books. I guess the book that marked the cusp of being a child reader and an adult reader was The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. I was probably 14 when I read it, and that book was my dark initiation into literature--the portrait of a bright, quirky father who, with relatively good intentions, directs his son down a path of peril led to a kind of literary self-recognition that I've been chasing ever since.

Your top five authors:

My top authors list is pretty easy: Robert Stone, Jennifer Egan, Annie Proulx, Cormac McCarthy and Tobias Wolff.

Book you've faked reading:

What book haven't I faked having read at some point! I remember as an undergrad I tried to befriend the super-cool circle of grad fiction writers. They were all taking a Joyce seminar, and at a party (that I wasn't invited to) I pretended to have read Ulysses. Sensing this, one of them confided in me the real secret to understanding Ulysses: to read it backwards. Poor me! I went and got a copy and attempted to read the last chapter first.

Book you're an evangelist for:

If by evangelical, you mean proselytizing without personal regard, then I've probably put more books by Ron Carlson into the hands of strangers than any other. I mean it, if someone asked on the BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] what I was reading, I'd just hand the Carlson away with a knowing smile of conversion.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle for the cover, and guess what: the book was amazing!

Book that changed your life:

Since I'm a writer, the book that changed my life is the book that changed how I write. That book was Libra by Don DeLillo. Only after that book did I understand what a sentence, or partial sentence, could do.

Favorite line from a book:

I could quote Moby Dick all day, but when I go to write, when I clear my imaginative space of all the clutter and to-do lists of normal life, when I'm just about able to inhabit the blankness of creation but before I actually invent something, the Dickinson poem "After great pain, a formal feeling comes" tends to creep in.

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

I feel like I just got that pleasure by rereading Madame Bovary in Lydia Davis's new translation.

Is it true that you and your wife were married six times, and the final ceremony took place in Death Valley, with the two of you wearing bullet-proof vests and shooting each other in the heart with Olympic target-match pistols?



Book Review

Review: We March

We March by Shane Evans (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, $16.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-up, 9781596435391, January 17, 2012)

As he did with his nearly wordless book Underground, Shane W. Evans once again uses minimal text and powerful images to help children experience an historic moment firsthand. Here he begins on the morning of August 28, 1963, and allows children to witness the events through the lens of one family. Just before sunrise, a boy and girl and their parents get dressed and ready for the day. The family gathers with others at their church to board buses, and as the Washington Monument rises up, we discover this is no ordinary day. The children and their parents, along with 250,000 others, move together in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Evans unspools the action with impeccable pacing. He moves from a moonlit street scene on the title page to the barest glow in the sky and a light in a window to begin the narrative: "The morning is quiet." Inside that lighted room, "The sun rises" outside the window as a father wakes his son and the mother wakes the daughter. Evans takes his first step back from the family with the spread of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He shows the man arm in arm with several others, under the words "We follow our leaders." In the crowd behind those leaders, children may clearly pick out the family ("We walk together"). Evans takes an event many people are familiar with and reinvents it through the eyes of this family. He crops the steeple from the church that serves as the rendezvous point, but follows with a reverend standing on its steps ("We pray"); he cuts off the Washington Monument in the crowd scene at the reflecting pool, but its tip appears in the water ("We are filled with hope").

Evans's technique of zooming in on the family and then pulling back to reveal the vast crowd serves as a motif that builds to a thrilling climax. The final two images of the boy and Dr. King mirror each other in a way that suggests a transference of power, not just from Dr. King to the child, but also from the child to Dr. King. A gorgeous reimagining of a momentous day's small moments. --Jennifer M. Brown


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