Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 7, 2013

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


'Don't Fall in Love with the Inventory'

Concerning Bridget Kinsella's report from Winter Institute 8 on the panel Tracking Turns to Maximize Profitability, Arsen Kashkashian of the Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., writes:

I read with interest the piece on doing returns. I had an old rep who pushed the importance of returns and markdowns when I first started buying in 1997. He told me, "You can fall in love with your girlfriend, you can fall in love with your wife, but don't fall in love with the inventory." This advice has led to 15 years of manageable account payables and 12 happy years of marriage.

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich


Happy World Book Day

Today is World Book Day in Great Britain, highlighted by hour-long event at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall that "will be broadcast live to cinemas around the U.K., as well as shown live online," the Guardian reported. In addition to events at schools, libraries and bookshops around the country, the day is also being "marked by the release of eight new books, which cost £1 or can be exchanged for the £1 World Book Day book token given to each child by their school."

"The target this year is for three quarters of a million children," said Tony Robinson, one of featured authors. "I'm just about to go and sit in a quiet place and start to think about what I'm going to say. It's the largest audience I've ever played to."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Bookstore Wedding for Storm-Tossed Couple

Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., became the impromptu site for a wedding yesterday after the snowstorm blasting across the Mid-Atlantic states closed the Anne Arundel County courthouse, where Mark Hutson and Melanie Frances had originally planned to get married, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The couple called bookstore owners Mary Adams and Janice Holmes and requested an emergency venue change to the site where Hutson had popped the question. The Sun noted that the ceremony was held "in the bookstore's front room by the Rev. Tracey Moe, an interfaith minister who said she's also performed wedding ceremonies in living rooms and on bridges and sailboats."

photo: Matthew Cole/Capital Gazette

"My business partner was here the day that he proposed to her," Adams said. "He put the proposal in a book and handed the book to her. They've been in here quite often."

Calling Annapolis Bookstore "a magical place," the bride said she will look back "with love" on the site where she was both engaged and married.

"We hid all the divorce books," Holmes told the Capital Gazette, which reported on the bookish wedding preparations, including the following overheard bookstore decorating strategies:

"I'm going to move Jane Austen over here--it's nice and red," said Holmes, carrying a copy of Pride and Prejudice. We had Hemingway over there, but he's not as romantic."

"There's nothing like a wedding to make you clean your bookstore," Adams observed as she placed a collection of poetry titled Portable Kisses.

"Outside, rain pooled on the sidewalks. It was cold and muddy," the Capital Gazette noted. "But the bookstore was warm and sweet."

Yesterday's snowstorm also inspired this morning's e-mail subject line of the day, from our friends at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.: "Snowquester Got You Down? Join Ayana Mathis, Jeanette Winterson, Kim Ghattas, and Ann Hood for events this week!"

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

'Treeless' Paper Books from Martel & Munro

Yann Martel and Alice Munro have partnered with sustainable paper advocate Canopy to publish special, signed editions of Life of Pi and Dear Life on "treeless" paper. Quillblog reported the collectors' editions will be printed on the company's straw-based paper, "created from a blend of wheat straw, flax straw, and recycled paper. Dubbed Second Harvest Paper, it is made from straw left over after the grain harvest, and its production uses fewer chemicals and less energy and water than traditional paper."

Mudsock Books Will Close in April

Mudsock Books & Curiosity Shoppe, Fishers, Ind., will close April 6 after five years in business, the Indianapolis Star reported.  Owner Cindy Rushton blamed a combination of the down economy and increasing online competition

"Every year we lose less money, but I'm still losing money," she said. "People can go to Amazon and order a book online cheaper than I can get it from my distributor. I have some faithful customers but I just don't have enough."

Other booksellers in the area expressed sympathy as well as guarded optimism for their own futures.

"I feel terrible to know that another independent bookstore is closing," said Elizabeth Barden, owner of Big Hat Books, Broad Ripple. "For us it's about getting into a rhythm with our loyal customers and I think our fantastic Broad Ripple location helps.... It's kind of Cheers type feeling here. We know everybody by name and people like feeling special."

Debbie Marinaro, owner of the Wild Bookstore, Noblesville, said, "Business is steady. I'm in the business of children's books for children. Children are going to learn to read by touching, smelling the books and turning the pages. There's something completely different about holding a pop-up book than looking at a computer screen."


Image of the Day: World Read Aloud Day

Yesterday, for World Read Aloud Day, Tim Federle (Better Nate Than Ever, S&S) took to the streets of Harlem in New York City with students from the New Design Middle School. Here they are, atop the LitWorld double-decker bus.

The Bookselling Life: 'My Road Ran Straight into Skylight Books'

"I thought I knew the answer--where I was going. I thought Skylight Books was just a stepping stone keeping me above water until my future arrived. But it turned out to be much more than that. Skylight Books was my future. It made me and, hopefully, I have had some influence on it as well. My road ran straight into Skylight Books, our futures, now our present, entwined.... I am connected as well as guided by this giant organism that contains all the writers, readers, fans, stars, booksellers, boat builders, booze drinkers, brain builders, heart breakers, poet kissers, words, ideas, stories.... These are the things that make up a beast like a bookstore. And so are you. We influence each other. And influence needs trust. It feels good to be trusted and to be able to trust."

--Steve Salardino of Skylight Books, writing for the "Naked Bookseller" series in the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Personnel Changes at Running Press, Tor/Forge

Effective March 11, Gigi Lamm is joining Running Press as senior publicist. She was formerly senior press officer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and earlier did publicity for the Arden Theatre Company and the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts. Before moving to Philadelphia, she was a publicist at the University of Washington Press and a program coordinator at the Northwest Bookfest.


At Tor/Forge, Theresa DeLucci has been promoted to ad/promo assistant director from ad/promo manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman on NPR's On Point

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Mike Piazza, co-author of Long Shot (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781439150221).


Today on Katie: Erin Merryn, author of Stolen Innocence: Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse (HCI, $12.95, 9780757302824) and Living for Today: From Incest and Molestation to Fearlessness and Forgiveness (HCI, $12.95, 9780757314193).


Today on NPR's On Point: Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, authors of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing (Twelve, $27.99, 9781455515158).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Joe Peta, author of Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order) (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525953647).

Movie Trailer: What Maisie Knew

A trailer has been released for What Maisie Knew, an "adapted and contemporized" (by Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne) version of the novel by Henry James, Indiewire reported, noting that the project, co-directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, "tells of parents--an aging rock star (Julianne Moore) and a contemporary art dealer (Steve Coogan)--who are locked in a custody battle for their six year old daughter Maisie. In the midst of all this, they each take on new lovers--ex-nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) and bartender Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgard)." What Maisie Knew opens May 2013.

This Weekend on Book TV: Tucson Festival of Books

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, March 9
12 p.m. Book TV offers live coverage from the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Arizona. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. John Borling presents his book Taps on the Walls: Poems from the Hanoi Hilton (Master Wings Publishing, $19.95, 9780615659053).

9 p.m. Maurice Greenberg talks about his book The AIG Story (Wiley, $29.95, 9781118345870). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Charity Navigator CEO Ken Berger interviews Ken Stern, author of With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385534710). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)

11 p.m. At an event hosted by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Sarah Erdreich discussed her book Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (Seven Stories Press, $16.95, 9781609804589). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

Sunday, March 10
Book TV's live coverage continues from the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Arizona. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

8 p.m. David Bego talks about his book The Devil at Our Doorstep: Protecting Employee Rights (Visionary Publishing, $5.95, 9780984145706).

10 p.m. Marguerite Holloway presents her book The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel Jr. Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor (Norton, $26.95, 9780393071252).

Books & Authors

Awards: B&N Discover; PEN/Faulkner Fiction; Lambda

This year's winners of Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards are The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (fiction, HarperCollins) and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (nonfiction, Knopf). In addition to a cash prize of $10,000, each author will receive a year of marketing and merchandising support from B&N, though Strayed, whose book has been a consistent bestseller and was an Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick last summer, might be considered already well discovered.
Second place winners ($5,000) were Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles (Random House) for fiction and Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House) for nonfiction. Third place ($2,500) went to The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Reagan Arthur Books/Little Brown) for fiction and Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen (Crown) for nonfiction.


The shortlist for this year's PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction has been announced. Three judges are chosen annually by the directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to select five books from among more than 350 submitted works. This year's judges were Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario and A.J. Verdelle. The winner will be named March 19 and receive $15,000, with the other four finalists receiving $5,000 each. The 2012 shortlisted authors are:

Amelia Gray for Threats (FSG)
Laird Hunt for Kind One (Coffee House Press)
T. Geronimo Johnson for Hold It 'Til It Hurts (Coffee House Press)
Thomas Mallon for Watergate (Pantheon)
Benjamin Alire Sáenz for Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press)

Finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards have been selected from a record number of nominations, according to the Lambda Literary Foundation, which reported that 687 LGBT books were submitted for Lammy consideration and 332 publishers participated. Winners will be announced June 3 in New York City at Cooper Union in New York City.

Pennie Picks The Language of Flowers

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine, $15, 9780345525550) as her pick of the month for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"My favorite flower is the stargazer lily. It wasn't until I read this month's book buyer's pick that I started thinking about what it and other flowers mean. Curious about what the stargazer signifies, I learned that it can express purity, devotion and wealth.

"Diffenbaugh also got me--and I'm sure all readers--thinking about 18-year-olds who are emancipated from the foster-care system. I can only imagine the feeling of being let go with next to no resources or safety net.

"Before I scare off any readers, please know that this is a beautiful and well-crafted story. Victoria, the protagonist, uses her skills with flowers to not only help others, but ultimately help herself."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 12:

Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780547195605) is the biography of a female Transcendentalist writer.

Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison (Crown, $26, 9780307884848) follows an autistic father and his equally quirky and troublesome son.

Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman (Grove Press, $25, 9780802120908) chronicles the life, career and untimely death of a war reporter killed during Libya's civil war.

All the Light There Was by Nancy Kricorian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780547939940) follows an Armenian family in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Bloodfire Quest: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Del Rey, $28, 9780345523501) continues the fantasy Shannara series.

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (Minotaur, $24.99, 9780312622947) brings a retired FBI agent back into action when her most disturbing unsolved case reopens.

The Andalucian Friend: A Novel by Alexander Soderberg (Crown, $26, 9780770436056) plunges a nurse and single mother into the turbulent world of an organized crime family.

Book Review

Review: Firefly

Firefly by Severo Sarduy, trans. by Mark Fried (Archipelago Books, $16 paperback, 9781935744641, March 18, 2013)

Skinny, big-headed Firefly is the eponymous child hero of Severo Sarduy's hallucinatory invocation of pre-Castro Cuba, an endearing little waif whose tale begins in the midst of a hurricane, as he kills his entire family by putting rat poison in their tea. Taken into custody in a corrupt charity house, he never speaks with anyone. He has one set of clothes, which he washes each night. Two retired luminaries of the island's medical community take charge of the boy murderer, and Firefly begins work as an errand boy for notaries in a nightmarish document depot where old files and papers are his only blankets. He's still a kid. He has bad nights. He's not above wetting the old moth-eaten couch where he's allowed to sleep.

By the time Firefly is just getting a "fuzzy shadow above his lips," he falls in love with the enchanting Ada, a frisky orphan girl with red hair. He undergoes his sexual deflowering at the hands of two plump young whores. He falls off a slippery pier into a bog swarming with green insects. Unable to stop crying, Firefly finally approaches the legendary Pavilion of the Pure Orchid for the grim revelations of the finale.

The fragmentary, elusive plotting is overcome by Sarduy's language, images stumbling over each other in profusion like tropical flowers, with dreams and visions adding surreal touches, like suicidal goldfish or a decapitated man whose smiling head falls in his lap. Bordering on magical realism, Firefly remains grounded in the grim, realistic details of destitution and poverty, the sights and sounds of a fading, peeling past. Every page is noisy: horse hooves clopping, the cries of vendors, the blaring of car horns, the swearing of sailors, the moans of slaves. It's a sticky world of sugar and rum, with stains and holes and burn marks in its onetime splendor. Dozens and dozens of characters are crowded into this tight narrative, a cast of "nuns, cabin boys, leering quadroons, pickpockets, card sharks, knife-sharpeners, witch doctors, medical astrologists, herbalists, swindlers and slaves," along with Soviet advisers and Santeria priests.

Sarduy's tropical island is a nightmarish labyrinth of poverty and corruption, where Firefly is an unwilling pawn, fighting his way out of one deception after another. The boy remains a lonely, likable mystery at the center of it all, and his feisty struggle to survive on his own makes for a lyrical farewell to Sarduy's own childhood and a lost way of life. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A poetic, hallucinatory invocation of pre-Castro Cuba lies within the tale of a big-headed orphan boy who poisons his family and is taken to a charity house.

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