Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 15, 2012

Insight Editions: Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend by Joshua Greene

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Walker Books Us: Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Quotation of the Day

Store Remodeling an 'Act of Faith' for 91-Year-Old Bookseller

"It was an act of faith. This is the first time we've remodeled. We had electric light fixtures from 1975, when the store opened. We couldn't get light bulbs for them anymore.... The store is a community resource. It's like your local bar. A lot of people come in to chat or look around. I don't take any money out. That makes it hard when it comes to selling it. But somehow I feel it can be maintained for a long time."

--Jane Kessler, the 91-year-old owner of Appletree Books, Cleveland, Ohio, in an interview with the Plain Dealer where she spoke about remodeling the bookshop she purchased in 1990.


Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto


NCIBA Mixes It Up in South San Francisco

For the first time in 25 years, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association held its fall trade show in a location other than downtown Oakland, and both attendance and enthusiasm were up at the event this week in South San Francisco. "I solicited and received much more feedback than usual," observed Hut Landon, NCIBA executive director. "I have been gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response to the venue and the programing from both exhibitors and booksellers."

Along with a new venue, NCIBA tweaked the show's schedule as well, cutting back one day. This year it featured a full day of educational sessions on Thursday, followed by the trade show exhibits that evening and a full-day of trade show on Friday, uninterrupted by education sessions. And while NCIBA did away with its separate author signing area, several author events and some signings were held in the booths.

A newly added children's author tea was the most well attended meal event in NCIBA history, said Landon. It also was the first NCIBA event since the Northern California Children's Booksellers Association became part of the association this summer.

"We're so happy to be joining forces," said Luan Stauss, owner of Laurel Books in Oakland and NCCBA board member. "Our membership is really varied," she noted as she started the program for the afternoon tea, "and we intend to bring that variety and experience to the rest of NCIBA."

Wrong questions are at the center of Who Could That Be at This Hour?--the (perhaps) autobiography of young Lemony Snicket coming from HarperCollins later this month--but the book was a highlight of the tea and provided a theme for all the children's authors at the event.

Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Raven Boys (Scholastic, September), said she is constantly fielding two questions: "Why YA?" and "Why fantasy?" The first question, she pointed out, was not one she needed to address with the tea attendees. The second one--and its familiar follow-up, "Don't teens want to read about reality?"--baffled her, however. "No reader of fiction is reading about reality," she said. Fifty Shades of Grey is as much about escapism as A Wrinkle in Time, she noted. To Stiefvater, the better question than "Why fantasy?" is "Why not?"

For Ally Condie, author of the YA series Matched (the third book, Reached, will be published by Dutton next month), an important question was the one she asked her artist mother, about why she preferred pastels to the more durable oil paints for her work. "It's not about what lasts," she said her mother told her, "it's the act of creation that changes me."

The question for Jon Klassen, author of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award–winning I Want My Hat Back, concerned whether he could follow that up with another book about a hat. The answer was yes; This Is Not My Hat was just released by Candlewick. He shared that interviews with two great Hollywood directors, Hitchcock and Polanski, helped shape the story in his new book, which is about a fish who steals another fish's hat, and how we know pretty early on it will not end well for the main character (as in Psycho). In Rosemary's Baby, Polanski deliberately kept an actor halfway out of a shot and delighted in watching audiences lean into the shot, just as Klassen said he enjoys watching children lean in when they read This Is Not My Hat.

Daniel Handler, standing in for Lemony Snicket, rounded out the tea event by reading from what he described as "a source of a current-day Socratic dialogue" in his daily newspaper: Dear Abby. Signed "Black-and-Blue Mom," the letter described how the woman had fallen down 14 hardwood stairs while holding her baby, Carl, in one hand and a telephone in another. Handler then turned to another letter, this one from Brandi to Lemony Snicket, who wrote: "I have read your books. Why do I enjoy them so much? I am always curious when something happens." Handler noted that he's been curious about bad things happening over and over again since he was 10.

With an unusual talent for making a profound point while also making people laugh, Handler went on to talk about how a grade school teacher once asked him if he was proud of his father for escaping Germany in 1938. His father turned the question on his son, asking if he thought he was braver than those who did not escape. "I had asked the wrong question," said Handler.

Who Could That Be at This Hour? is a book Handler said he had wanted to write for 25 years, because "horrible things can happen again and again and again, like a mother falling down 14 hardwood stairs." In the end, Handler said, "I am always curious when something happens."

And something always happens when NCIBA booksellers get together to buzz about books--whether in Oakland or South San Francisco. Check in tomorrow for some of the best buzz from the show. --Bridget Kinsella

Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books

Amazon to Customers: E-Book Refunds on the Way... Maybe

Some Amazon customers received an e-mail Saturday indicating "they will be eligible to receive a credit estimated to range between 30 cents and $1.32 for each e-book purchased between April 2010 and May 2012 published by several major publishers."

The letter referred to the settlement reached earlier this year between three publishers--Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster--and 49 states and five territories. Federal district court judge Denise Cote has scheduled a final settlement approval hearing for February 8, 2013. Should the deal be approved, consumers could begin receiving $69 million in payments beginning 30 days after the decision.

Barnes & Noble is preparing similar information to send to its customers, a company spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Double your donation!

Nobel Update: Sales in Translation; New Titles Coming

Following last Thursday's announcement that Mo Yan is this year's Nobel Prize in Literature winner, indie bookstore backlist buyers nationwide were engaged in the annual autumn rite of scrambling for copies of the winning author's works as publisher and distributor supplies quickly diminished.

Nobel recognition often brings much-needed attention to translated works. In the U.S., literature in translation has "wide but shallow roots," the Asia Society's ChinaFile blog observed, while noting that Howard Goldblatt, who has translated Mo Yan's works into English, "is predicting a surge in interest in the Chinese author."

Goldblatt's translations of the Nobel laureate include several titles for Arcade Publishing; Change and the soon-to-be-published Pow! (both from Seagull Books), as well as Sandalwood Death (University of Oklahoma Press, January 2013). In addition, he is currently working on the novel Frogs, which "is now being shopped around by the Wylie Agency in New York," ChinaFile reported.

Thanks to the award, Goldblatt suggested that more of the author's books may find their way to Western readers: "Now we may see a circling back to earlier works that remain untranslated and an interest in collecting more of Mo's stories."


Among the booksellers who were preparing for markedly increased interest in Mo's fiction, Chinese bookstores in Southern California expected "a rush of shoppers," KPCC public radio reported.  

"I think that's a glory to Chinese, because not that many Chinese got nominated and not many can get the Nobel Prize so far. That's good for the Chinese people," said Terence Tsang, a manager at SUP Bookstore, Monterey Park. He and fellow manager Brian Lee--who said Mo's novels opened his eyes to aspects of Chinese history he didn't know about--"say they expect more customers to buy Mo's books. SUP Bookstore carries several of his titles, but ordering more can be difficult because it can take months to ship the books from China," KPCC noted.


Booksellers in China were "reporting bumper sales" in the wake Thursday's Nobel announcement, China Daily reported, adding that Wangfujing Book Store in Beijing sold out of Mo Yan's titles by 10 a.m. Friday, just an hour after opening. His books were also out of stock on, often referred to as the Chinese Shi Xiang, vice-manager of Beijing Genuine & Profound Culture Development Co., forecast a 15%-30% sales jump for Mo's books.


Mo Yan, however, was less optimistic. He told China Daily that in terms of worldwide readership winning the prize "should play a rather positive role, but the effect shouldn't be overestimated." He also did not expect his Nobel laureate status to boost reading habits in his country over the long term: "I think the mania will end in one month, maybe even sooner and then everything will be back to normal."

Mapping the World's 'Annual Publishing Market Value'

The U.S., China, Germany and Japan hold the top four spots in a new report published by the International Publishers Association and ranking countries by annual publishing market value. Digital Book World reported that Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, which compiled the study, "pegs publishing market value for those 20 countries at an annual total of about €106 billion ($138 billion)."

The Atlantic Wire noted that IPA's "distorted map of the world," reflecting the strong influence of certain regions, shows "Africa and the Middle East are tiny slivers, meaning that the number of books published in those places is extremely low compared to the rest of the world. As per the map some countries have significantly stronger global voices through books; the report aims to show where book publishing can grow."

B&N Closing Store in Pa.

Barnes & Noble will close its store in the Jenkintown section of Abington Township, Pa., at the end of the year, the Montgomery News reported. B&N has another, larger store and cafe located four miles away in Willow Grove.

"Both the Willow Grove and Jenkintown leases were expiring at year end," said David Deason, B&N v-p of development. "Given the close proximity of the two stores, we have made a decision to place our long-term focus and investment in the Willow Grove store."


Image of the Day: Reunion

There was a mini-reunion of Elliott Bay Book Company alumni when Kim Fay came to Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, Wash, to read from her new novel The Map of Lost Memories (Ballantine). Former booksellers all (l.-r.): Jill Bley, Kim Fay, Joan Hutchinson and Margaret Nevinsky.

Cool Idea of the Day: Moby-Dick Marathon NYC

Moby-Dick was first published in the U.S. November 14, 1851, and to celebrate this auspicious occasion, a New York City marathon reading of Herman Melville's classic novel will span three days, three bookstores, two boroughs and feature more than 100 readers.

Organized by Polly Bresnick and Amanda Bullock, the ambitious event begins November 16 at WORD bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with a pre-marathon presentation of "Etymology" and "Extracts," followed by the ceremonial reading of that legendary first sentence: "Call me Ishmael."

On November 17, the marathon reading continues at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in SoHo before moving back to Brooklyn and Molasses Books in Bushwick for the evening. It will finish back at Housing Works on November 18.

College Bound: Teen Opens Bookstore to Raise Tuition

Trent Crowthers, a 17-year-old who is determined to attend college, has opened a used bookstore in an antique barn in Nolensville, Tenn., to help fund his dream. WTVY reported that Crowthers' parents "invested close to a $600 for the teen to buy thousands of books off of eBay and open his own business."

"I decided I needed to find a way to try to get some more money for college," he said. "We started really small, just that one side over there, and then they gave us a deal for the whole room, and we got books in the whole place now."

The bookstore will not vanish when Crowthers eventually leaves for school: "What I'll probably do is I'll leave it to my little brother and then that way he can build up more for his college. He'll have more time to save up more money."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: J.K. Rowling on The Daily Show

This morning on the Today Show: Chris Williams, editor of The Richard Burton Diaries (Yale University Press, $35, 9780300180107).

Also on Today: Uggie, subject of Uggie--My Story by Wendy Holden (Gallery, $15, 9781476700168). Uggie will also be on Fox & Friends tomorrow.


This morning on Fox Morning News: Katherine Kallinis Berman, co-author of Sweet Celebrations: Our Favorite Cupcake Recipes, Memories, and Decorating Secrets That Add Sparkle to Any Occasion (HarperOne, $24.99, 9780062210364).


This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204098). She will also appear today on CNN's Starting Point and Current's War Room With Jennifer Granholm and tomorrow on CNBC's Squawk Box.


Today on ABC's Katie: Suzy Spencer, author of Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality (Berkley, $16, 9780425219362).


Today on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren: Mark Bowden, author of The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802120342). Tomorrow he will be on Fox & Friends, NPR's Morning Edition and Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Tonight.


Today on Access Hollywood Live: Stacy London, author of The Truth About Style (Viking, $32.95, 9780670026234).


Tonight on Nightline: Dr. David B. Agus, author of The End of Illness (Free Press, $15.99, 9781451610192).


Tonight on the Daily Show: J.K. Rowling, author of The Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown, $35, 9780316228534).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Evan Thomas, author of Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316091046).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: John Taylor, author of In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525958000).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Michael Feinstein, author of The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs (Simon & Schuster, $45, 9781451645309).


Tomorrow on Mancow Mueller: Jayne Amelia Larson, author of Driving the Saudis: A Chauffeur's Tale of the World's Richest Princesses (Free Press, $25, 9781451640014).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: D. T. Max, author of Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace (Viking, $27.95, 9780670025923).

Movie Trailer: Silver Linings Playbook

A new trailer has been released for for David O Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, adapted from Matthew Quick's novel. noted that the film "has been carving a place for itself on the Oscar buzz list with key awards wins at Toronto and most recently the Hamptons film festivals." The movie, which stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, opens November 21.

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale received a Newbery Honor citation for Princess Academy, which introduced Miri and her classmates. Since then, she's written the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge with her husband, Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation), and its companion, Calamity Jack, as well as Austenland and Midnight in Austenland for adults. Her new book is Princess Academy: Palace of Stone (Bloomsbury).

On your nightstand now:

The Diviners by Libba Bray.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

Your top five authors:

I was better at picking favorites as a child than I am now. Three of those spots rotate, but two authors have permanent slots: Jane Austen and Dean Hale (nepotism! nepotism!).

Book you've faked reading:

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

Books you're an evangelist for:

The Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Hearing Trumpet by Leanora Carrington.

Book that changed your life:

Scapegoat by Dean Hale (nepotism!).

Favorite line from a book:

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." --Northanger Abbey

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

Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea books.


Book Review

Review: The Middlesteins

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (Grand Central, $24.99 hardcover, 9781455507214, October 23, 2012)

Edie, the matriarch of The Middlesteins, can't stop eating, and Jami Attenberg (The Kept Man) weaves an entire novel around how Edie's marathon eating breaks her family apart. Despite her severe diabetes, Edie persists--one evening she goes from McDonald's to Burger King to a sit-down dinner at a Chinese restaurant, followed by a raid on the refrigerator when she gets home. At about 350 pounds, she is not long for this world. One day, Edie's husband, Richard, after more than 30 years of marriage, announces he no longer loves Edie--hasn't, actually, for quite some time--and is leaving her.

Richard and Edie's two children, Benny and Robin, are horrified at their father's behavior. Robin cannot believe her father would leave his ailing wife; Benny's wife, Rachelle, a pencil-thin perfectionist, wants to save Edie's life. Part of her plan is to create healthy eating habits in her own home, until a particularly nasty incident involving kale leads to her own daughter falling off the roof in an attempt to get out of the house. She also refuses to allow Richard to see his grandchildren: "He has nothing to teach them."

Clues abound as to what Edie's mothering has done to her children's lives. Benny is an affable, pot-smoking, don't-make-waves guy who visits his father occasionally but doesn't want to cross Rachelle. Robin is furious, a small knot of anger who drinks too much and is afraid to admit that she is falling in love with her downstairs neighbor, Daniel. (A hook-up is one thing; intimacy quite another.)

Attenberg mines every bit of humor, sadness, poignancy and pathos possible from the story, switching voices and perspectives and skipping back and forth in time. It all builds up to the b'nai mitzvah of Benny and Rachelle's twins, where The Middlesteins masterfully reveals the emotional landscape of one family's unusual connections and disconnections--and allows the hope that different connections may take place. Just another quirky family story? Anything but. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Jami Attenberg illuminates the complex effects of one woman's obsessive compulsion on everyone in her family.


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