Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

News

Notes: Bookseller Wins Election; Corte Madera Rally

In an upset, Margaret (Diggitt) McLaughlin, a bookseller at Good Yarns Book Shop, Hastings on Hudson, N.Y., yesterday was elected a village trustee. An activist with the League of Women Voters, she and a running mate, who also won, campaigned in opposition to proposed commercial development along back roads and redevelopment plans for Hastings's waterfront. Two incumbent Democrats lost their seats. This is McLaughlin's first political office.

A scientific and medical publishing veteran, McLaughlin joined Good Yarns after it was bought last summer by Chris Kerr and Sean Concannon (Shelf Awareness, July 6). She follows in the fine bookselling tradition of, among others, Neal Coonerty of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz., Calif., and Richard Howorth of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., both of whom became mayors of their towns.

McLaughlin takes office on April 4.

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Citizens for Local Control, the Corte Madera, Calif., group that has sought to have the town council study and adopt an anti-big box ordinance, is organizing a rally this Saturday, March 25, between noon and 2 p.m. to support local indie Book Passage and to oppose the decision by the Town Center management to lease space to Barnes & Noble.

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In one measure of growing levels of comfort with online purchases, more consumers are buying large items on the Internet, according to today's Wall Street Journal. During the holiday season last year, for example, sales of big products such as furniture and appliances, rose 34%, comScore Networks said. For years, consumers had preferred to buy small items like books online.

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Today's New York Times has an update on literary novels appearing as paperback originals. Among recent examples, White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway from Black Cat, the Grove/Atlantic imprint; Utterly Monkey by Nick Laird from Harper Perennial; and Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden from Vintage.

Morgan Entrekin of Grove/Atlantic commented: "When you're taking back 50%-70% of the hardcover copies [of literary novels] you shipped, the stores--rightfully so--are not willing to take another chance."

Harper Perennial is publishing 22 paperback originals this year, up from 10 last year. "We see it as a great opportunity to publish some young debut writers," publisher Carrie Kania told the Times.

Marty Asher of Vintage/Anchor said that "the question of building an audience for a new writer" adds to the appeal of paperback originals.


University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans


Comfort Food: New Orleans Cookbooks

The Washington Post serves a sad but sweet story about the books most in demand from New Orleans residents after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina: cookbooks. Philipe LaMancusa, owner of the Kitchen Witch bookstore, told the Post that 70% of sales since reopening in November have been from customers whose recipe books were destroyed.

Tom Lowenberg, co-owner of Octavia Books, said, "People are replacing their cookbooks first. Cooking is so tied in with people's comfort and quality of life, especially in New Orleans. I think making familiar food helps people with the heartbreak of loss."

The most popular replacement cookbooks are classics like the Joy of Cooking and local books such as River Road Recipes, a 1959 collection gathered by the Junior League of Baton Rouge, and The Plantation Cookbook, compiled by the Junior League of New Orleans.

Deb McDonald, manager of the Garden District Book Shop, told the paper she had received some orders for cookbooks with New Orleans recipes from former residents who left long before Katrina. "I think they feel that if they ate some New Orleans food, they'd feel better, or they wanted some connection with the city," she said.

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Speaking of cookbooks, Entertaining with the Sopranos by Allen Rucker (Warner, $29.95, 0446579114) is No. 5 on the Book Standard's Cooking Chart. The title was published February 1 to coincide with the beginning of the HBO show's sixth season.


GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bookseller-Author Kris Neri

Today the Early Show starts a three-part series with Elisa Zied, author of So What Can I Eat?! How to Make Sense of the New Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Make Them Your Own (Wiley, $14.95, 0471772011). Today's focus is on fats. Thursday's is carbs. Friday features protein.

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This morning the Today Show lobs some questions at Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance William, San Francisco Chronicle reporters and authors of Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports (Gotham Books, $26, 1592401996), whose bumped-up pub date is tomorrow.

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Today on the Writer's Roundtable, World Talk Radio's Antoinette Kuritz talks with Kris Neri, co-owner of the Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona, Ariz., whose latest suspense novel is Never Say Die (Hilliard & Harris, $16.95, 1591330920), and Steve Berry, author of The Templar Legacy (Ballantine, $24.95, 0345476158).

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Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, co-author of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (Chelsea Green, $25, 1931498997)
  • Toure whose new book is Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays (Picador, $15, 0312425783)
  • Gershon Gorenberg, author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 (Times Books, $30, 080507564X).
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Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show tries to practice a declining art with Stephen Miller, author of Conversation: A History of a Declining Art (Yale University Press, $27.50, 0300110308).

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Today on the View looks at the several sides of Norah Vincent, author of Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back (Viking, $24.95, 0670034665).

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Tonight Larry King Live talks for nearly 60 minutes with Mike Wallace, whose new book is Between You and Me: A Memoir (Hyperion, $26.95, 1401300294)


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart


Book Review

Mandahla: Three Cups of Tea Reviewed


 
In 1993, descending from a failed attempt to scale K2, emaciated, exhausted and separated from his porter, Greg Mortenson stumbled into Korphe village, an impoverished community of mud and stone huts and apricot trees in the Karakoram mountains. There he was nursed back to health over a period of weeks, and while he was recovering, he watched the children at their lessons, scratching in the dirt with sticks, writing on slate boards with sticks dipped in a mixture of mud and water. Seeing their fierce desire to learn and wanting to repay the villagers for their kindness, he promised to return and build a school for them. "One evening he went to bed by a yak dung fire a mountaineer who'd lost his way, and one morning, by the time he'd shared a pot of butter tea with his hosts and laced up his boots, he'd become a humanitarian who'd found a meaningful path to follow the rest of his life."
 
The wonderful story of that promise and its results is told in this moving and often funny book. It took Mortenson three years to complete that first school, years of writing letters asking for money, living in his car while he worked as a trauma nurse in the Bay Area, negotiating with Pakistani cement dealers and lumberyards; but painstakingly and doggedly, he amassed enough to start construction. We journey with Mortenson through endless meetings and cups of tea, until finally his truck is stacked with supplies and men crowd around him, offering cigarettes and handfuls of battered rupee notes for his school. When he arrives triumphantly in Korphe, he discovers that he won't be building a school quite yet--they need a bridge first, since the only way over the river to the village is via a rickety basket hand-pulled over the gorge. After the Korphe bridge and school, he builds three more schools in three months, and now the Central Asia Institute, which he directs, has built over 55 schools, along with a women's vocational center, clean water projects and Pakistan's first porter-training program.
 
Mortenson is described as man with two unbreakable habits--arriving late (a result of a childhood spent in Tanzania) and backing into parking places (a result of two years of Army training)--but as you share his story, it also becomes apparent that he has a great heart and a winning manner. The people who are drawn to work beside him are as varied as the region he is trying to improve: former Taliban fighters who build schools for girls; an Islamabad taxi driver who becomes his "fixer"; the Shia leader who helps overturn a fatwa against him; the Pakistani owner of a Berkeley copy shop who teaches Mortenson how to use a computer in 1993; the watchman at his creaky hotel in Rawalpindi who begins the first quest for resources; the tailor who crafts shalwar kamiz for the tall American to wear and teaches him how to pray like a proper Sunni (which he has to unlearn rather quickly in a Shia mosque) and countless villagers who commit their own labor and resources. A typical Mortenson moment occurs in northern Afghanistan on a journey to meet with the powerful warlord Sadhar Khan--"I was alone. I was covered in mud and goat blood. I didn't speak the local language. I hadn't had a meal for days, but I felt surprisingly good." Khan agrees to help Mortenson, naming five communities and thousands of school-less girls needing an education.
 
The mission of the Central Asia Institute, which he heads, is to promote and provide community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Central Asia. And the girls, as well as the boys, are determined to learn. In a village west of Kabul called Mydanshar, teachers held class for the younger boys in rusty shipping containers. The school's older boys studied on the back of a scorched armored personnel carrier. The girls had to study outside, where the wind whipped sand in their eyes and tipped over their blackboard. They all had to contend with U.S. Army attack helicopters buzzing the school at high speed. Other schools taught three shifts every day, while the teachers rarely got paid. Mortenson asks, if we can't do something as simple as seeing that teachers get paid, "How could we ever hope to do the hard work it takes to win the war on terror?"
 
It's impossible to capsulize what Greg Mortenson went through to build that first school, and the discouraging days when all he felt was failure. It's impossible to convey the richness of this story, the incredible kindnesses he encounters, the dangers he has survived (two fatwas and a kidnapping by Wazir warriors near Peshawar, to name only a few--and the roads!), the passion he has for building schools and for the people of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. I urge you to read this book, and you will find yourself telling others about it with an earnestness that may surprise you. It's heartening that one person can make such a difference, especially during times when the world seems overwhelming in its need for just such people. Jon Krakauer has said, "If the world had fifty Greg Mortensons, there wouldn't need to be any war on terror."--Marilyn Dahl


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan



The Bestsellers

Schwartz Bestsellers: What and Why

Mentions on a local radio show, events, media hits, handselling, a staff handselling contest--and even an author dinner with staff members--contributed to the popularity of some of the titles appearing on the  bestseller list for Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee, Wis., during the week ended March 11.

"The Tenth Circle is the best kind of bestseller," Mary McCarthy, general manager, said of Schwartz's No. 1 hardcover fiction title for the week. "We didn't discount it. It's full-price and at the top of our list. We had an event for Jodi Picoult March 16, but it was selling before that. People are nuts for her here." Picoult is also represented on the trade paperback list with My Sister's Keeper and Vanishing Acts.

McCarthy noted that "the Templar books," and titles by Jeffrey Archer, Martha Grimes and James Patterson are all 30% off and working nationally.

Part of the popularity of Kate Mosse's Labyrinth derives from an author visit--not for a typical store event but to have dinner with a bunch of booksellers. "It was very effective," McCarthy said. "She was charming, and booksellers are recommending her book."

McCarthy, who described Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead as "kind of an indie breakout book," discussed the book recently on her monthly Milwaukee public radio show, which may also have contributed to its local popularity.

On the nonfiction front, McCarthy described the No. 1 seller, Eugene O'Kelly's Chasing Daylight, as "an incredible phenomenon for us." She talked about it on the radio, but the book also got a big boost from Jack Covert, president and founder of Schwartz's 800 CEO READ (the business book division), who "fell in love with the book and wrote about it in his e-mail newsletter."

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilber and Falling Through the Earth by Danielle Trussoni were both aided by store events. Manhunt by James L. Swanson made it onto McCarthy's radio broadcast and has had "great word of mouth sales." Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking "just continues to work."

On the trade paperback list, the runaway bestseller was Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. "We loved this in hardcover," McCarthy said. "It sold incredibly well." She also noted that the store occasionally has an employee bookselling challenge, with the prize being a company dinner: "We had a competition going between Snow Flower and Cormac McCarthy. In the end, the company paid for everyone to have a Chinese meal." McCarthy added that "a ton of booksellers read Snow Flower and were ready to sell it. It's our biggest bestseller now, and huge for the book clubs."

Schwartz Bookshops sold 105 copies of Snow Flower compared to 54 for the No. 2 trade paperback on the list, Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair, which, she noted, "is doing well with some book clubs but is not as big as The Secret Life of Bees."

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories: A Novel took off when Stephen King said in the March 20 Entertainment Weekly that it was the best mystery of the decade. McCarthy also talked about it on the radio.

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Elie Wiesel's Night have been helped by the usual suspects, respectively the Academy Awards and Oprah. Annie Freedman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral is by a local author, Kris Radish. 

McCarthy called Louise Murphy's The True Story of Hansel and Gretel "the ultimate handselling story. The receiver at one of our shops read the book, way after it came out, and put a great review in his store. He doesn't sell much on the floor, but we started noticing the sales. Penguin noticed it, too. It has been such a phenomenon for us. The store where it started sold 435 copies last year. It continues to sell. Everyone picks it up. We sold 15 copies last week. Customers love it."

Of note among the hardcover children's books, McCarthy pointed out that The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane had been featured on her radio show, and that Blue Balliett, author of The Wright 3 "is from Chicago and a huge favorite here." Balliett's Chasing Vermeer has been a popular children's paperback. Currently in seventh place on the children's hardcover list is Patrick McDonnell's The Gift of Nothing, which has been a "huge success and continues to sell for birthdays and holidays." As reported in a Shelf Awareness article about sidelines (January 26), the store packages the book with an empty box.--Maria Heidkamp

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Bestsellers for Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops for the week ending March 11:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult (Atria, $26, 074396701)
2. The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury (Dutton, $24.95, 0525949410)
3. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (Putnam, $25.95, 0399153446)
4. The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry (Ballantine, $24.95, 0345476158)
5. False Impression by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's, $27.95, 0312353723)
6. The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes (Viking, $25.95, 0670034797)
7. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $27.95, 0316159778)
8. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (Random House, $23.95, 1400063817)
9. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon, $22.95, 0375423699)
10. The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherford (Doubleday, $28.95, 0385512899)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Chasing Daylight by Eugene O'Kelly (McGraw-Hill, $19.95, 0071471723)
2. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking, $24.95, 0670034711)
3. Marley & Me by John  Grogan (Morrow, $21.95, 0030817089)
4. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman (FSG, $27.50, 0374292884)
5. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Morrow, $25.95, 006073132X)
6. Falling Through the Earth by Danielle Trussoni (Holt, $23, 0805077324)
7. Manhunt by James L. Swanson (Morrow, $26.95, 0060518499)
8. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf, $23.95, 140004314X)
9. The Last Week by Marcus Borg (HarperSanFrancisco, $21.95, 0060845392)
10. You're Wearing That? by Deborah Tannen (Random House, $24.95, 1400062586)

Trade Paperbacks

1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House, $13.95, 0812968069)
2. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin, $14, 0143036696)
3. Speak Softly, She Can Hear by Pam Lewis (S&S, $14, 0743255402)
4. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Back Bay, $13.95, 0316010707)
5. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Washington Square Press, $14, 0743454537)
6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Vintage, $14, 0679745580)
7. Night by Elie Wiesel (Hill & Wang, $9, 0374500010)
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14, 1594480001)
9. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (Anchor, $14.95, 03007276902)
10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, $14, 074324754X)
11. Annie Freedman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish (Bantam, $11, 0553382640)
12. The True Story of Hansel & Gretel by Louise Murphy (Penguin, $14, 0142003077)
13. The Geographer's Library by Jon Fasman (Penguin, $14, 0143036629)
14. Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult (Washington Square Press, $14, 0743454553)
15. Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik (Ballantine, $13.95, 0345468368)

Hardcover Children's Books

1. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, $18.99, 0763625892)
2. Dora's Rainbow Egg Hunt by Kirsten Larsen (S&S, $6.99, 141690798X)
3. The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett (Scholastic, $16.99, 0439693675)
4. Curious George's Neighborhood by Martha Weston (Houghton Mifflin, $7.99, 0618412034)
5. Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems (Hyperion, $12.99, 0786837462)


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