Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quirk Books: How to Win the War on Truth: An Illustrated Guide to How Mistruths Are Sold, Why They Stick, and How to Reclaim Reality by Samuel C. Spitale

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

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

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Graphix: The Tryout: A Graphic Novel by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Joanna Cacao

Yen on: Dark Souls: Masque of Vindication by Michael Stackpole


Adobe Books to Become Co-op

Threatened by a major rent hike, Andrew McKinley planned to close Adobe Books, San Francisco, Calif., "his funky Mission District bookstore, art gallery and youth hangout," but then more than a dozen fans stepped up and will take over Adobe and run it as a cooperative, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The group is headed by Jeff Ray, who helped lead the Rainbow Grocery cooperative for 25 years, and author Paul LaFarge. They plan to raise $60,000 via an Indiegogo campaign and $20,000 via an art auction.

"Andrew has run it as a community space more than a business," one organizer said. "We're not going to let it close, but we have to think of new models. We'll still have some books, but it'll evolve." Among ideas for diversification: selling vinyl and magazines, hosting popup shops and putting on events.

Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

Schuler Books Shuttering Downtown Grand Rapids Store

photo: Emily Zoladz/

Schuler Books & Music will close its downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., location, ending its "experiment with an urban format store," reported. Co-owner Bill Fehsenfeld said he decided not to renew the lease on the company's 7,000-sq.-ft. storefront, which opened in 2007. The store's dozen employees will be absorbed by Schuler's larger stores in Grand Rapids and Walker.

"We've been able to keep it going for five years, but it's always been kind of marginal. It's not something we want to make an additional investment in," said Fehsenfeld, adding: "You experiment and try to find ways to grow the sales." He also noted that the other four Schuler's locations are "doing just fine."

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Another B&N Closure: Plainfield, Ill.

The B&N store on 127th St. in Plainfield, Ill., in suburban Chicago, closed last week. According to Village Administrator Brian Murphy, the building's landlord "needed to raise the rent, and village officials attempted to help both parties meet in the middle, but they were too far apart," the Enterprise reported.

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Big Book Club Getaway Gambles on Casino Venue

Three Connecticut residents, including an indie bookstore owner and a former Major League Baseball player, have teamed up to organize the first-ever Big Book Club Getaway, the Day reports.

The event will take place at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino in Montville on February 1 and 2, and features a lineup of 40 authors and speakers, including Brad Meltzer and Tess Gerritsen. Among highlights of the program: a sex therapist-led discussion on Fifty Shades of Grey and its runaway success, a sports panel moderated by New York WFAN radio host Rick Wolff and a presentation by Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher and co-author Amy Newmark.

The trio behind the Getaway--Essex Books owner Susan McCann, marketer Colleen Doyle LaFrancois and her husband, former Boston Red Sox player Roger LaFrancois--pitched Mohegan Sun for "a large and wonderful event for books clubs and the [general public] that celebrates community and coming together," the Day wrote.

Mohegan Sun, Chicken Soup for the Soul (published in Cos Cob), the Connecticut Humanities Council and R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison and Bank Square Books in Mystic are sponsoring the event. A portion of the event's earnings will go to the Alzheimer's Association.

For more information on the Big Book Club Getaway and to register, go to

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

Random House Unveils BookScout

Today, Random House is introducing a Facebook app called BookScout that "lets users share favorite books with friends and then receive reading recommendations based on their own preferences," the New York Times wrote. "The sharing takes place on Facebook but is focused just on books, and it is stripped of the social network's extras, like chat groups."

BookScout includes selections from many publishers, not just Random House.

Weiser Books: Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde

False Negative: Fans Attack MJ Book on Amazon

Much of the focus on questionable Amazon customer reviews has been on "false positives." Over the weekend, the New York Times illustrated another downside: campaigns that attack a book, in this case, Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan (Grove), published in November.

Even though the book is generally sympathetic to the late star, a group of fans "bombarded Amazon with dozens of one-star takedowns, succeeded in getting several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon's briefly removing the book from sale."

Amazon told the Times that the reviews had not violated its guidelines and declined further comment.

The author commented: "Should people be allowed to make flagrantly false comments about the content of a book or its author? This is suppression of free speech in the name of free speech."

Obituary Note: Craig Lieske

Craig Lieske, a bookseller at Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., and an accomplished musician, died last Friday. In an e-mail, Avid owner Janet Geddis said Lieske had been "a supporter of Avid Bookshop since its inception and, after years of telling me he'd volunteer to do anything I needed help with, I hired him in October 2012 to join our team. Most news coverage focuses on what an amazing soul and talented musician he was, but I want to point out too that he was a voracious reader who could (and did) befriend anyone who walked into this shop. He really made this little bookstore even better and we've already begun to miss him acutely."


Image of the Day: Traveling Booksellers

At this past weekend's New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center in New York City, Books & Books Westhampton and WORD, Brooklyn, were the designated booksellers, a role formerly held by Borders. Here Denise Berthiaume, co-owner of Books & Books Westhampton Beach, and Christine Onorati, owner of WORD, flank Andrew McCarthy, author of The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down (Free Press).

The Green Toad Is Turning Five

As the Green Toad enters its fifth year of business, the Daily Star profiles the Oneonta, N.Y., bookstore, which is "nestled in a row of historic buildings in the center of downtown," the paper wrote.

The Green Toad is a "lofty shop with its exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves," where "a comfortable arrangement of lounge chairs and low tables beckon browsers to settle in and explore new books. In the back of the building, a children's section offers a variety of activities, toys and books. There is a rocking chair, floor pillows and an over-stuffed green toad."

The store also offers cards, candles, scents, soaps as well as "locally made scarves, jewelry, handbags and artisan crafts at the counter." The store also boasts a small gallery.

An Oneonta native, Michele Barry opened the store in late 2008, wanting to create "an anchor for my community," she told the paper. "With two hospitals and the colleges, there was a need for something like this downtown." She was happy to add that the community has embraced the bookstore.

Portlandia Stars Visit Another Feminist Bookstore

In a Vulture blog video that feels like a short episode of Portlandia, the show's stars, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, who sometimes play staff members at the fictional Women & Women First Bookstore, visited a real feminist bookstore, New York City's Bluestockings bookstore and café.

Accompanied by Julie Klausner, they browsed the store and commented on--and bought--a few books, including Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World by Victoria Moran and Adair Moran (Tarcher), It Chooses You by Miranda July (McSweeney's) and Rookie Yearbook One by Tavi Gevinson.

Ben McFall, 'Oracle of the Strand'

The New York Times profiled Ben McFall, "the oracle of the Strand Book Store," who is renowned among collectors and regular customers for his vast knowledge and way around the huge fiction stacks in the New York City store.

McFall has managed the store's fiction section for 35 years and started at the Strand because, he said, "it was dusty, dirty, old and interesting.... Back then, it was a cruel place; I was the first nice person to work here." Now he calls the Strand his family and co-owner Fred Bass his father.

Even though the store is now computerized, the Times wrote that McFall "relies largely on his prodigious mental map of the tens of thousands of books in the section to keep track of the waxing and waning of various titles."

Typically modest, McFall commented: "It seems like a feat, but if it were your house, you'd know where things are, too."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Simon Garfield on On the Map

This morning on the Today Show: David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story (Simon & Schuster, $18, 9781439160411). He will also appear on MSNBC's Morning Joe.


This morning on Good Morning America: Valerie Harper, author of I, Rhoda (Gallery, $26, 9781451699463).


Today on Sirius XM's Howard Stern Show: 50 Cent, co-author of Formula 50: A 6-Week Workout and Nutrition Plan That Will Transform Your Life (Avery, $30, 9781583335024). Tomorrow he will also be on Opie & Anthony and the Steve Harvey Morning Show.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Simon Garfield, author of On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks (Gotham, $27.50, 9781592407798).


Tonight on PBS's Frontline: Jeff Connaughton, author of The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins (Prospecta Press, $24.95, 9781935212966).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Gotham, $26, 9781592407330).


Tomorrow morning on Imus in the Morning: Terry Francona, co-author of Francona: The Red Sox Years (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780547928173).


Tomorrow on the View: Ali Wentworth, author of Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales (Harper, $14.99, 9780061998584).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey.


Tomorrow on Hollywood Access: Hoda Kotb, author of Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451656039).

Books & Authors

Award Shortlists: BSFA; Shaughnessy Cohen

Finalists have been announced for the British Science Fiction Association awards. Winners will be revealed March 31 at a ceremony held during EightSquared, the 2013 Eastercon. The complete BSFA awards shortlist can be found here.


The Writers' Trust of Canada named finalists for its $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which honors nonfiction works "for examining a political subject of interest to Canadians," Quillblog reported. A winner will be named March 6.

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:

Kind of Kin: A Novel by Rilla Askew (Ecco, $25.99, 9780062198792). "The nature of this wonderful novel set in small-town Oklahoma is like its characters--raucous, messy, uncertain, and foolishly brave. After a surprise immigration raid on Mexicans that scoops up even some respected citizens, everyone struggles to understand where they stand and how to act. This is a large, kind-hearted story of less than perfect folks caught in a maelstrom while still trying to abide by their ethical and spiritual beliefs. Askew's story is a most timely look at who is welcome into our lives and how we express and share compassion even when times are tough and language is a barrier." --Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, Calif.

Chanel Bonfire: A Memoir by Wendy Lawless (Gallery, $25, 9781451675368). "Lawless has written a compelling, engaging, sometimes funny, and at times shocking tale of her childhood. Her mother, Georgann Rea, was a narcissist of the highest order, and Wendy and her younger sister suffered terrible emotional deprivation at her hands. From a very young age, when her mother attempts suicide for the first time, Wendy struggles to protect her sister and herself from a woman who lived a life of decadence, alcoholism, adultery, and lies. Lawless ultimately makes peace with herself and learns to live on her own terms, a process remarkably recounted in this searing memoir." --Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Conn.

Dr. Brinkley's Tower: A Novel by Robert Hough (Steerforth, $16.99, 9781586422035). "The people of the tiny Mexican border town of Corazon de la Fuente have lived through a long, bloody revolution and have lost many loved ones. With the building of Dr. Brinkley's radio tower, they feel they have a chance at reviving their village and bringing prosperity and happiness to their lives. On the eve of the mayor handing Dr. Brinkley the key to their fair city, the village healer shouts, 'Stop! Can't you see the man is a liar, a peddler of myths and false hope?' Brinkley was an American con artist and the inspiration for this novel, but the focus of Hough's insightful and penetrating tale is the people of Corazon and how their lives are irrevocably changed. Highly recommended!" --Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

For Teen Readers
Black City by Elizabeth Richards (Putnam, $17.99, 9780399159435). "Richards hits it out of the park with her dystopian love story set in the aftermath of a bloody vampire war. The tale alternates between the voices of Natalie, the human, and Ash, the half-blood Darkling, allowing the reader a deeper look into two very different aspects of society. The wall that separates the Darklings and the humans gives the illusion that things are getting back on track, but one chance meeting between Natalie and Ash changes everything. Their story is part romance, part thriller, and completely amazing, and you will not be able to put this book down. I can't wait for the sequel!" --Alexis Duell, Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: American Isis: The Life and Work of Sylvia Plath

American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson (St. Martin's Press, $29.99 hardcover, 9780312640248, January 29, 2013)

There have been other biographies of poet Sylvia Plath, who killed herself at the age of 30. Carl Rollyson says those books have "misconstrued" her, focusing too much on her psychological problems. She needs a new biography, one that will "define the Plath myth" for a new generation of readers. In American Isis, he compares Plath to the Egyptian goddess worshipped as the ideal mother or wife, calling her a "domestic goddess." He also describes her as the "Marilyn Monroe of modern literature," and--using newly available correspondence--argues that she aggressively pursued public renown and success at Monroe-like levels. Plath wanted to be famous--to the general public and the literati alike.

Rollyson shows us a precocious child (her first poem was published when she was nine) who was raised by her mother after her father's death. Plath excelled at Smith College. One summer she interned at Mademoiselle in New York City; it inspired her novel The Bell Jar. In 1953, she made her first suicide attempt. After graduation, she went to England on a scholarship. There she met the poet Ted Hughes, fell in love and married, after knowing him for only a few months. Hughes doesn't fare well with Rollyson, who argues that Hughes never really understood Sylvia. In her copy of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady, Plath underlined the following: "It was her deep distrust of her husband--this was what darkened the world."

They moved to Boston, where Sylvia took a writing seminar with Robert Lowell. There she met the poet Anne Sexton. They would remain friends, helping each other out with their bouts of depression. The couple returned to England and she published her first collection, The Colossus, in 1961. A little over a year later, she learned of her husband's infidelity, moved out with the children, and a few months later put her head in an oven (although she may have thought she would be rescued). Sexton callously called it a "good career move." Sadly, she may have been right--Plath's reputation has grown ever since.

Despite some lapses into purple prose and a predilection to compare Plath to Monroe (the subject of one of his previous biographies) whenever he can, Rollyson does a fine job of capturing the tortured life of this young, frustrated Isis who felt she could never do enough. --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: A highly readable, well-researched biography of a great American poet who died by her own hand way too soon.

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