Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mariner Books: A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis by Vanessa Nakate

Scholastic Press: Room to Dream (a Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother by Samantha Edwards

David Zwirner Books: Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus, illustrated by Rose Blake

Tor Books: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Disney-Hyperion: The Fowl Twins Get What They Deserve (a Fowl Twins Novel, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer

Sourcebooks Landmark: In Every Mirror She's Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan


iPhone 5 Offers Improved E-Book Reading... Maybe

Yesterday's introduction of the iPhone 5 by Apple sparked the usual frenzy among tech bloggers. There were fewer ripples in the e-book sector, however, despite all the headlines earlier this week regarding Apple's e-discounting battle with Amazon.

An exception to this generally absent coverage was Digital Book World, which reported that with "its larger display and improved resolution, the iPhone 5 seems primed to be an improved reading device over its predecessor, the iPhone4S." The latest version of the iPhone features a four-inch screen, a half inch larger than the 4S, and improved battery life.

But DBW also noted that Apple "did not give any details on reading time and the hours of talk time, browsing time, video-watching time and music-listening time the new battery can support seem to be about the same as the old phone."

Rebel Girls: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, 4 edited by Lilly Workneh

Could E-Book Prices on Bestsellers 'Rise, Not Become Lower'?

"I think it is way too early to celebrate and I think e-book prices of bestsellers will rise, not become lower," wrote Rich Adin in the Digital Reader regarding the initial sharp discounting that occurred following the court's approval last week of the Justice Department's settlement with three publishers over the agency model for e-books.

Adin contended the "first problem lies within the settlement agreement itself. As Judge Cote wrote (p. 10 of the Opinion & Order filed September 6, 2012), the publishers, although they cannot use agency pricing, which presumably means a return to the wholesale pricing of the pre-agency days, can 'enter into contracts that prevent the retailer from selling a Settling Defendant's e-books at a cumulative loss over the course of one year.' This is a threefold problem for consumers." He outlined those problems as follows:

  1. Publishers "will be able to require Amazon (and/or Barnes & Noble and/or Apple and/or all other e-booksellers) to disclose both sales numbers and pricing, something that Amazon has been loathe to disclose even to its shareholders."
  2. The decision "essentially orders a return to the wholesale pricing scheme but sets no boundaries on that scheme. There is nothing to prevent the publishers from altering the discount rate or even giving a different discount rate to different e-booksellers."
  3. The answer to "the worries of the publishers that brought about agency pricing is simply raising the list price of newly published books."


Unbound: This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals by Erica Buist

Handselling Love for The Age of Desire

Readers at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan., are eagerly stepping into Edith Wharton's Gilded Age, ushered there by store founder and president Vivien Jennings and her staff. Jennings began talking up Jennie Fields's The Age of Desire (Pamela Dorman/Viking, 9780670023684, $27.95) before it was even available and took the unusual step of promoting the novel pre-publication in the store's newsletter, which typically is reserved for author events and recent releases.

Rainy Day has sold more than 100 copies of The Age of Desire since it was released early last month. In the novel, Fields tells how Wharton's clandestine, middle-age love affair with a dashing younger journalist threatened to destroy her decades-long friendship with Anna Bahlmann, her governess turned literary secretary.

Jennings said she realized she had something special in her hands almost from the moment she began reading The Age of Desire, which she consumed in a single sitting, and knew it would appeal to various types of readers, including those who enjoyed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and fans of the PBS show Downton Abbey. Husband-and-wife book club members have been another audience for the novel. "The male characters are interesting, which makes it a book that both men and women can read," said Jennings.

When Jennings speaks with customers about The Age of Desire, it helps that many already are familiar with Wharton, having read her books or seen film adaptations of them. A selling point enticing potential purchasers is that the novelist's real life intertwined with her fiction. Many people who purchased Fields's novel have called and stopped by specifically to thank her for recommending it.

The Age of Desire is currently displayed in Jennings's staff picks section as well as on the front counter near the registers, featured along with The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. Readers of the latter, a top seller at Rainy Day since it was published in June, are also intrigued by The Age of Desire. Moriarty offers a fictionalized account of Louise Brooks and the woman who accompanied the 15-year-old, future silent-film star to New York City to study dance in 1922. "Both books have two very interesting women characters: a famous person who is fascinating and also a secondary character unknown in history but equally captivating and strong," Jennings noted.

While in Paris on business, Jennie Fields, then an advertising creative director, returned to her hotel after strolling along the street where Wharton used to live. Waiting for her was a message from her agent, who coincidentally was calling to suggest that Fields make Wharton the subject of her next book. Fields's first novel, Lily Beach, is a tribute of sorts to Lily Bart, the heroine in The House of Mirth, her favorite Wharton tale.

"There was so much serendipity that went into my writing of The Age of Desire," said Fields. A piece of good fortune was a late-night, insomnia-induced online search leading to the discovery that Christie's was planning that week to sell a cache of correspondence written by Wharton to Anna Bahlmann. Fields received permission from the auction house to read the letters before they went to the highest bidder and drew on them for the novel.

Fields kicked off her tour for The Age of Desire at the Mount, Wharton's home in Lenox, Mass. Situated in the Berkshire Mountains, the château-like abode--masterminded from the ground up by its mistress--is featured in "The Custom of the Country," a multi-page spread in this month's issue of Vogue.

At Warwick's in La Jolla, Calif., buyer Adrian Newell was another early supporter of The Age of Desire. "I especially loved the way the novel humanized a literary icon--interesting that the highs and lows of love are always the same--and illustrated the difficulties of being a woman, rich or poor, in that particular era," she said. "I came away with a deeper understanding of Edith, both as a woman and an author."

At Westwinds Bookshop in Duxbury, Mass., staffers tussled over an advance copy of The Age of Desire, while Parnassus Books in Nashville has selected the novel for its First Editions Club. Fields relocated to the Tennessee city three years ago. After inking a contract to write the book, she quit her advertising job and made the move to be with her husband; for 10 years the couple had commuted back and forth between New York City and Nashville.

Upcoming appearances for Fields include the Omaha Public Library today as part of a community-wide read of Wharton's The Age of Innocence; the Nashville Public Library (September 20) with Irene Goldman-Price, editor of My Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann; the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville (October 13); and the Boston Book Festival (October 27).

A recent event at the St. Louis County Library received such an enthusiastic response it was moved to a larger venue. "Everywhere I've gone there have been great crowds. It's very exciting," said Fields. "This whole experience for me has been a gift. Thank you, Edith." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Book*hug Press: Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Ballad for Sophie
by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia
trans. by Gabriela Soares

GLOW: Top Shelf Productions: Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia, trans. by Gabriela SoaresA reclusive French piano star recounts his epic rise and fall, from WWII France through the tumultuous disco era, to a young journalist who's hiding her own past, in this passionate, sophisticated graphic novel from writer and pianist/composer Filipe Melo and illustrator/filmmaker Juan Cavia. Publicist and marketing director Leigh Walton shares that Top Shelf selected this work for translation from the Portuguese for its stunning blend of "the grandeur of classical music, the outrageous drama of rock and roll, the grim history of 20th-century Europe... and the bittersweet unearthing of family secrets." Cavia's palette evokes the lush light of a late evening sun, and his accomplished illustrations breathe life into Melo's complex saga of fame, regret and redemption. --Jaclyn Fulwood

(Top Shelf Productions, $24.99 paperback, 9781603094986,
September 28, 2021)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: In the Warehouse for In Sunlight and in Shadow

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's warehouse, Mark Helprin recently signed "approximately one billion copies," as the publisher put it, of In Sunlight and in Shadow, his new novel that comes out October 2.

Hyperion Avenue: A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm by Ginger Zee

Vermont Book Shop Earns Business of the Year Award

Congratulations to the Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vt., which was presented the Business of the Year Award by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce. The award is given to a firm in the county that demonstrates excellent business practices and provides a positive impact on the community, Vermont Business magazine reported.

The nomination read: "Small businesses need to be recognized; especially in these hard economic times and when competition is unseen but felt--the Internet. The Vermont Book Shop has always worked to create a personality, an image of a unique book shop--to stand out from all competition--as well as being a contributing community leader. This is a perfect time for ACCOC and its membership to thank owner Becky Dayton and her staff for their contribution to our countywide community and keeping the store alive, active and vibrant."

Ilsley Public Library director David Clark was given the Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award, which recognizes an individual who has made numerous contributions to the community without the expectation of acknowledgement. His nominator praised Clark's "amazing work" at the library, which he transformed "so that it continues to be relevant in the digital age by being a true community center, a 'living library as he puts it.' "

Q&A with Wyn Morris of the Morris Bookshop

Business Lexington has a q&a with Wyn Morris, owner of the Morris Bookshop, Lexington, Ky. Our favorite:

"What is a perfect day off for you?

"Get up early and read for a few hours. Take a long meandering scooter ride in the country. Drink a cold, very hoppy IPA. Do some laundry to justify existence. Play with Legos with my family."

Impressive Bookstores 'Repurposed from Unused Structures'

As a companion piece to its earlier showcase of libraries in repurposed buildings, Flavorwire featured "10 awesome bookstores repurposed from unused structures," noting that in spite of  "the media-fueled fear that they'll all be abandoned buildings themselves someday soon, brick-and-mortar bookstores are also recycling spaces, cleaning out old factories, theaters and even boats, and filling them up with books. What could be better?"

Mike Underwood Joins Angry Robot

Mike Underwood has joined Osprey Group's Angry Robot imprint as sales and marketing manager. He earlier worked at the Wybel Marketing Group, representing publishers such as Dark Horse Comics, Night Shade Books, Felony & Mayhem Press to trade and wholesale accounts in the Midwest. Before that, he was a bookseller. His first novel, Geekomancy, was published in July by Pocket Star.


Book Trailer of the Day: Those We Love Most

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff (Hyperion/Voice), a debut novel by the co-author, with her husband, Bob Woodruff, of In an Instant, and author of the essay collection Perfectly Imperfect.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sarah Ferguson on the Today Show

This morning on the Today Show: Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, author of Ballerina Rosie (Paula Wiseman Books/S&S, $16.99, 9781442430662).


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Jacques Berlinerblau, author of How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547473345).

On Stage: Fun Home the Musical

A new musical based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic will open the fall season of the Public Lab series of new works at the Public Theater, the New York Times reported. The production features music by Jeanine Tesori (Shrek, Caroline, or Change), with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron (Well). Sam Gold (Seminar, The Big Meal) is directing a cast that includes Roberta Colindrez, Judy Kuhn, Beth Malone and Joel Perez. The show is scheduled to run from October 17 through November 4 at the Public's Shiva Theater.

This Weekend on Book TV: The Courage to Hope

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, September 15
4:30 p.m. Doug Fine discusses his book Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution (Gotham, $28, 9781592407095). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 a.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

7 p.m. Mike Gallagher presents his book 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate (Threshold Editions, $27, 9781451679250). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:30 p.m. Michael Grunwald, senior national correspondent for Time magazine, talks about his book The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era (S&S, $28, 9781451642322).

10 p.m. After Words. National Congress of American Indians executive director Jacqueline Pata interviews Anton Treuer, author of Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Borealis Books, $15.95, 9780873518611). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Shirley Sherrod, former U.S.D.A. Georgia State Director of Rural Development, discusses her book The Courage to Hope: How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fear (Atria, $24.99, 9781451650945). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

Sunday, September 16
4:15 p.m. At an event hosted by BookPeople, Austin, Tex., Sanford Levinson presents his book Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance (Oxford University Press USA, $29.95, 9780199890750). (Re-airs Monday at 6:15 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Wole Soyinka Prize

South African writer Sifizo Msobe won the Lumina Foundation's $20,000 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa for his book Young Blood. Nobel laureate Soyinka "used the occasion to enjoin youths to project their cultural heritage," Punch reported. Also shortlisted for the award were Roses & Bullets by Akachi Adimora-Eziegbo (Nigeria) and The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt (South Africa).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend: A Novel by Matthew Dicks (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250006219). "Imaginary friend Budo has been protecting his human friend, Max, for five years from everything from the class bully to awkward situations in public bathrooms. He worries about the day when Max will stop believing in him, and he will disappear forever. When Max is suddenly in danger, Budo must decide between Max's happiness and his own existence in order to save his friend. It doesn't take much imagination to know that this is a great read!" --Grace Firari, the Velveteen Rabbit Bookshop, Fort Atkinson, Wis.

John Saturnall's Feast: A Novel by Lawrence Norfolk (Grove Press, $26, 9780802120519). "John Saturnall, raised by his healer mother, grows into an extraordinary cook in late 17th century England, where he serves the landed gentry during intense political upheaval. His destiny lies in preserving the art of the ages-old feast at which all are treated as equals at the table. Clandestine love, intolerance, and intrigue are all mixed with recipes and brought to life in lush language. This novel has it all: a great story, writing at its finest, and a beautifully designed presentation!" --Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.


Fobbit: A Novel by David Abrams (Grove Press, $15, 9780802120328). "Fobbit: U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base. Abrams tells the tale of the military paper pushers and cubicle workers who take refuge at the base outside of Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Fobbit life is portrayed in a witty and realistic retelling of military life, giving the reader a unique perspective on the brutality of war. Funny, captivating, and intelligent, Abrams' tale is based on his 20 years of experience in the Army." --Rachel Kelly, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

For Teen Readers

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Viking, $18.99, 9780670012961). "Becca King can hear whispers--snippets of other people's thoughts that weave into her mind in occasionally dangerous ways. It's because of this ability that she finds herself stranded on remote Whidbey Island, hiding from her stepfather and involved in a mystery that shakes her new community. George brings her tremendous talents to YA for the first time, and this creepy, romantic mystery has just a hint of the paranormal and a fabulously lush Pacific Northwest setting. Becca's story is magically addictive--I can't wait for the next installment!" --Hannah Manshel, 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin (Doubleday, $28.95 hardcover, 9780385527200, September 18, 2012)

In The Oath, journalist and attorney Jeffrey Toobin takes up where his 2007 book, The Nine, leaves off, to paint a portrait of the activist Supreme Court headed since 2005 by Chief Justice John Roberts, whose treatment of judicial precedent has been anything but conservative.

The foundation of Toobin's reportage is his interviews with the justices and more than 40 of their law clerks. The insights he gleans from these conversations, including the light they shed on the personal relationships among the justices (highlighted by the unlikely friendships between Scalia and his Democratic colleagues Ginsburg and Kagan) and their sharply divergent judicial philosophies, make for lively reading.

But the liberal-leaning Toobin offers much more than an inside-the-robing room tell-all; his research points him to a disturbing conclusion about where the law is headed as long as the Roberts/Scalia/Kennedy/Thomas/Alito bloc remains intact. Whether it's recognizing an individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, sharply limiting the desegregation efforts of school districts in Seattle and Louisville, or unleashing a flood of corporate campaign donations with the Citizens United decision, Toobin points out how, time and again, in the name of trying to divine the original meaning of the Constitution's text, the Court's conservative wing (led by an increasingly partisan Antonin Scalia) has overturned interpretations of the document that have been settled for decades. He goes so far as to call it a "war on precedent," noting that if Clarence Thomas, whose wife, Ginni, lobbied extensively against health care reform, has his way, decades of case law upholding legislation intended to promote public health and welfare under the Constitution's commerce clause--not to mention the right to legal abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade--could be erased.

The book concludes with a timely discussion of the Court's late June ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. While Roberts's deciding vote based on the federal government's taxing power subjected him to savage criticism from the right, Toobin suggests it was "folly to pretend that Roberts had discovered his inner moderate." Instead, Toobin argues, that vote ultimately may serve to provide cover for the Court's conservative majority against attacks from liberals.

With four of the nine justices aged 74 or older, the odds are high that the president elected in 2012 will have a chance to fill at least one or two vacancies. After reading Toobin's clear-eyed book, it should be apparent to any thoughtful reader why those choices could be fateful ones. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Jeffrey Toobin takes a look at the early years of the Roberts Court and finds its activist bent at odds with conservative rhetoric.


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