Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 3, 2012

Ballantine Books: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Aladdin Paperbacks: Return of the Dragon Slayers: A Fablehaven Adventure (Dragonwatch #5) by Brandon Mull

Norton Young Readers: Children of Stardust by Edudzi Adodo

Union Square & Co.: Wait for Me by Sara Shepard


Foyles, Bookseller Holding Workshop on Flagship Redesign

The legendary Foyles bookshop and the Bookseller are inviting customers and industry representatives to contribute to the design of a new flagship Foyles store on Charing Cross Road in London that will be "the bookshop of the future." The offer was made during the Bookseller's FutureBook conference today.

Interested people may apply to take part in a half-day workshop with architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, who are working on the flagship store's new building at 107-109 Charing Cross Road. The store will move from its current location at 113-119 Charing Cross Road in spring 2014; the new site will have 40,000 square feet of space on three floors.

Some 30 people will be selected for the workshop, which will take place in February and be the "last stage of planning before the design brief is fixed." The participants will be asked to consider issues such as "declining physical book sales, the place of e-books, the cultural importance of bookshops and author events, the specialist knowledge of booksellers, and how bookshops can provide customers with a place to buy books, however they decide to read them."

Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, commented: "While words are our stock-in business, we also need practical solutions to real-world problems: and this is what we'll achieve, in what is essentially a trade-wide initiative to re-invent and re-invigorate the high street bookshop."

Foyles head of marketing Miriam Robinson said, "What we are offering with this workshop is a truly unique opportunity, an open platform for creative but constructive play, a chance to create a bookshop where the experiential, cultural strengths of bricks and mortar meet the growing opportunities of digital."

Broadleaf Books: Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us by Mark Yaconelli

Robert Thomson to Head News Corp. Publishing Company

Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal and editor-in-chief of Dow Jones, will become CEO of News Corp.'s new publishing company, which will include HarperCollins, Dow Jones, the Times of London and other properties, according to the Wall Street Journal.

What all this means is that Robert Thomson will become HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray's new boss, when News Corp. is split into two companies next year, probably by June. The other News Corp. company will include 20th Century Fox and Fox News, parts of News Corp. that are most attractive to Wall Street.

Born in Australia, Thomson started his career as a reporter for the Melbourne Herald and has been editor of the U.S. edition of the Financial Times and editor of the Times of London.

Soho Crime: Blown by the Same Wind (Cold Storage Novel) by John Straley

Reinartz New Head of MSU Bookstore

Effective January 15, Sonda Ropp Reinartz is becoming director of the Missouri State University Bookstore, Springfield, Mo., according to KTTS. She replaces longtime director Mark Brixey, who resigned in August after investigators found he had embezzled at least $400,000 from the bookstore over the past three years.

Reinartz has been bookstore manager for Augustana College since 2006 and earlier managed stores at Black Hawk College, Hiram College and Case Western Reserve University.


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.08.22

Obituary Note: David Oliver Relin

David Oliver Relin, co-author of Three Cups of Tea, died November 15, in Oregon, a suicide, the New York Times reported. He was 49. Speaking through his agent, his family said that Relin suffered from depression and had been hurt "emotionally and financially" when many of the basic facts in Three Cups of Tea turned out not to be true.

Greg Mortenson and David Relin  

Relin had "established himself as a journalist with an interest in telling 'humanitarian' stories about people in need," the Times said, when he was hired by Viking to help Greg Mortenson write about building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Published in 2006, Three Cups of Tea became a heartwarming bestseller, selling more than four million copies. But last year, after a 60 Minutes investigation, it became apparent that the many elements of Mortenson's story were false and that Mortenson's charity was spending large amounts of money on Mortenson's personal expenses and to promote the book.

After the 60 Minutes report, Relin did not speak out publicly but hired a lawyer to defend himself in a federal suit that was dismissed this year. In a Montana state settlement, Mortenson agreed to repay more than $1 million to his charity.

Berkley Books: City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita

U.K. Lawmaker Says Amazon, Others 'Immorally' Evading Taxes

In a followup to hearings last month into tax payments in the U.K. by Amazon, Starbucks and Google, members of the Public Accounts Committee in the House of Commons yesterday accused the three companies of "immorally" avoiding taxes, the New York Times reported.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said, "Global companies with huge operations in the U.K., generating significant amounts of income, are getting away with paying little or no corporation tax here. This is outrageous and an insult to British businesses and individuals who pay their fair share."

In a related note, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said "he planned to give more money to the revenue department that tackles tax avoidance by multinationals," the Times wrote.

Company defenders argue that their strategies to reduce taxes are legal, although Starbucks said this weekend that "it could do more."

Holiday Hum: Booksellers Recommend, Part 1

With some 200 suggestions for holiday gifts featured in four e-mail catalogs and displayed in-store at Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colo., shoppers should be able to find presents for even the hard-to-please.

Staffers have curated titles for everyone from foodies (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by award-winning blogger, photographer and home chef Deb Perelman) to feline lovers (Francesco Marciuliano's I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats). For fiction fanatics, there is Junot Díaz's story collection This Is How You Lose Her. "No one packs as much into a story as Diaz does," said Arsen Kashkashian, the store's head buyer.

Family and friends on Kashkashian's gift list are all receiving copies of books he has read and loved, including his dad, who will be unwrapping The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy by David Nasaw. Among the store's other offerings for biography buffs are Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and William Manchester and Paul Reid's The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.

For those feeling especially generous, Boulder Book Store is spotlighting higher-end titles like Becoming van Gogh, the companion book to an exhibit currently on view at the Denver Art Museum; Net of Being featuring artist Alex Grey's mystic paintings; and the $625, six-volume boxed set Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. (The more modestly priced Modernist Cuisine at Home is $140.)

Kashkashian said, "In the end, I just want the booksellers talking to customers about books they love, whether it's a New Directions title by Clarice Lispector or Neil Young's autobiography or a zombie compendium."


Photo: Jennifer S. Altman/USA Today  

Also smitten with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y. The recipe tome and Sherry and John Petersik's Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love are "my two favorite home and kitchen books of the season," she said. "Those are the books I'll be giving to my friends for the holidays."

Another top handsell is Leave Your Sleep, a collection of classic children's poetry adapted to music by singer Natalie Merchant, a Hudson Valley denizen, and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The hardcover book and CD combo is "the perfect gift for little ones, as well as Natalie's adult fans," Hermans said. "It's a gorgeous book and blew out of our store on Black Friday weekend."

Other favorites for kids are Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee's picture book Boot & Shoe, featuring a pair of canines; Stefan Bachmann's middle grade tale The Peculiar, a murder mystery-gothic fantasy-steampunk adventure; and Maggie Stiefvater's YA novel The Raven Boys, the first in a new series.


Photo by Pamela Gerard  

It's a bountiful season for epicureans. Celia Sack of Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco has a pair of appetizing suggestions for her customers: a "well-within-your-comfort-zone book" like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer's Canal House Cooks Every Day and an "out-of-your-comfort-zone title" like Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

The former, a year's worth of seasonal recipes, "is a beautiful book that anyone can cook from," noted Sack. She has made the "fantastic" beet soup and dished up the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving; the Canal House version is now a staple for her holiday meal. Hamilton and Hirsheimer will be giving a talk at Omnivore Books on December 10.

Jerusalem authors Ottolenghi and Tamimi appeared at the store last month, and Sack also hosted two dinners for them at local restaurants. "Their food is amazing, and their partnership gives us hope for peace," she said. The restaurateurs were born in Jerusalem in the same year--Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west--and later met in London, becoming colleagues and close friends. Along with 120 recipes, they share personal stories about growing up in Jerusalem and insights on the city's melting pot cuisine.

For more global flavors, Sack recommends Fäviken by Magnus Nilsson, whose restaurant is located on a 20,000-acre farm in northern Sweden, and Origin: The Food of Ben Shewry by a head chef at a Melbourne, Australia, restaurant. A perennial stocking stuffer choice is the annual Best Food Writing anthology. And if anyone is thinking of gifting Sacks with a book, she'd like a good novel--one that has nothing to do with food. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt



Image of the Day: Authors Rock Out for Soho Teen

Soho Press celebrated the impending launch of its Soho Teen imprint in 2013 with a party at Manhattan's Sidewalk Café that featured a performance by editorial director Daniel Ehrenhaft's band Tiger Beat. With fellow YA authors Libba Bray on lead vocals, Natalie Standiford on bass and Barnabas Miller on drums, the quartet ripped through a selection of '70s and '80s tunes, including "Sweet Jane," "Tainted Love" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Ehrenhaft, Bray and Standiford are among more than 70 authors contributing to one of Soho Teen's first releases, an all-star anthology benefiting 826NYC titled Who Done It?  --Ron Hogan

Scarlett Willa Wyden: Third Third-Generation Bookseller

Congratulations to Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand Bookstore, New York City, and her husband, Senator Ron Wyden (D.-Ore.), who last Thursday welcomed Scarlett Willa Wyden into the world. Scarlett joins her older brother and sister, born in 2007, in the ranks of bookselling-politico royalty.

photo: David Shankbone


Canadian Booksellers' Top Fiction Picks for 2012

When Quill & Quire polled independent booksellers across Canada to discover their fiction picks of the year, "it became apparent that while seasoned favorites like Ian McEwan and J.K. Rowling dominate the list, local titles are favorites in all regions."

For example, Simone Lee, co-owner of Pages on Kensington in Calgary, said the popularity of Will Ferguson's 419 could be attributed to the fact that he is "a local celebrity."

Media and Movies

'Santa's Helpers': Amazon Warehouse Tour

"Don't tell the little ones, but Santa is doing some outsourcing," noted NBC's Today Show Weekend Edition in a segment that aired Saturday, with correspondent Harry Smith touring Amazon's fulfillment center in Phoenix, Ariz.

In search of a holiday theme, the piece even managed to reclassify Amazon's warehouse workers: "And while the people you see scurrying about look suspiciously like people, they are elves; elves equipped not with tiny hammers and saws, but with bar scanners and carts."

Amazon showed an atypical sense of humor about its usual reluctance to discuss its own operations. "And do you have reindeer?" Smith asked v-p of global customer fulfillment David Clark, who replied, "Not that we have publicly announced."

For another visual perspective on Amazon's cavernous warehouse environment, check out these photos posted on Imgur by a user named sippingtea.

Media Heat: Wole Soyinka and Of Africa

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Robert Gottlieb, author of Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374298807).


Tonight on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight: Salvatore A. Giunta, co-author of Living with Honor: A Memoir (Threshold, $26, 9781451691467). He also appears tomorrow on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fox & Friends, HLN's Dr. Drew Show and Dennis Miller.


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Gabrielle Douglas, co-author of Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith (Zondervan, $24.99, 9780310740612). She will also appear on Katie.


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Cade Courtley, author of SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster (Gallery, $19.99, 9781451690293). He will also appear on HLN's Dr. Drew Show.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Philip Galanes, author of Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today (Simon & Schuster, $23, 9781451605785).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: David Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature (Viking, $25.95, 9780670023370).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: David Nasaw, author of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy (Penguin Press, $40, 9781594203763).


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Kevin Phillips, author of 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (Viking, $36, 9780670025121).


Tomorrow on CNBC's Squawk Box: Michael Woodford, author of Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower (Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591845751).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Wole Soyinka, author of Of Africa (Yale University Press, $24, 9780300140460).


Tomorrow night on Nightline: Tiffanie DiDonato, co-author of Dwarf: A Memoir (Plume, $16, 9780452298118).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: R.A. Dickey, co-author of Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball (Blue Rider, $26.95, 9780399158155).


Tomorrow night on Conan: Kevin Pollak, co-author of How I Slept My Way to the Middle: Secrets and Stories from Stage, Screen, and Interwebs (Lyons, $24.95, 9780762780556).

Also on Conan: Ke$ha, author of My Crazy Beautiful Life (Touchstone, $22.99, 9781476704166).

Books & Authors

Awards: Cervantes Prize

Spanish poet, novelist and essayist Jose Manuel Caballero Bonald won the €125,000 (US$162,316) Cervantes Prize for helping to "enrich the Hispanic literary legacy," the New York Times reported, citing the Spanish-language news agency EFE. Previous winners include Jorge Luis Borges of Argentina, Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz of Mexico and Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru. Dario Villanueva, president of the jury panel, described Caballero Bonald as a "teller and creator of stories, and a maestro in the use of the language."

Book Review

Review: City of Rivers

City of Rivers by Zubair Ahmed (McSweeney's Books, $18 hardcover, 9781938073021, December 11, 2012)

Zubair Ahmed was a 17-year-old professional video gamer in Bangladesh when his family moved to Texas in 2005. His improbable journey continued to Stanford, where he studied mechanical engineering and worked on the university's famous solar car team. All the while, he wrote poems that revisited the monsoon-drowned streets of his home city and his family's experiences during the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. It's no surprise, then, to find in Ahmed's first poetry collection, City of Rivers, a fresh young voice torn between the rain-soaked streets of Dhaka (a city that "looks like a rotting nail") and the flash-flooded Texas of Joe Pool Lake where, he observes:

"In nights of rain
The lake begs for more water.
I wish the lake knew
It was man-made."

The juxtaposition of densely urban Dhaka and the wide open, car-centric landscape of modern America runs throughout this fine collection of poems, as Ahmed searches for the links in his itinerant life. One pillar supporting his search is his brother, who, he notes:

"became a mountain, always closer
To the sky than me,
Always large in the distance
Growing larger as I grew nearer.
I am wearing his shirt--
It hangs loose."

Ahmed's poems frequently reflect self-doubt and even some bewilderment at the lack of meaning in the memories of great events around him. In one recollection, he

"can only think of rain
Falling over Dhaka,
Flooding every street,
Even the ones that go nowhere."

The narrow streets of his youth were like a forest

"where you can hear
The reasons you exist,
And the reasons
You shouldn't."

Although there may be the gamin heart of a video gamer and techie in this young poet, there is also a wise observer of the world wherever he finds himself in it, even in the cold weather found in the poem "Second Home":

"It snowed four days ago.
I don't feel as cold
As I am supposed to.
I almost believe
I'm as strong as I need to be."

With such a startling first collection of poems, let's hope Ahmed is indeed as strong as he needs to be in order to give us more. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: The fresh voice of a young poet/engineer with a Bangladeshi past and a California future.


AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen
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