Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 5, 2013

Harper Perennial: Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

Wednesday Books: Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Berkley Books: Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina

Ronin House: So Close (Blacklist #1) by Sylvia Day

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor


DOJ Proposes Enforcement Guidelines in Apple Case

On Friday, the Department of Justice proposed guidelines for Apple in the e-book agency model collusion case that, as the New York Times wrote, "would put rules in place to prevent Apple from facilitating price-fixing among publishers, or from retaliating against publishers that refuse to bend to its terms. The Justice Department also suggested that Apple allow Amazon and Barnes & Noble to insert links inside their e-book apps to their e-bookstores."

In response, Apple's legal counsel filed a statement calling the government's proposal a "draconian and punitive intrusion" into its business. Apple's lawyer, Orin Snyder, noted that the "overreaching proposal would establish a vague new compliance regime--applicable only to Apple--with intrusive oversight lasting for 10 years, going far beyond the legal issues in this case, injuring competition and consumers, and violating basic principles of fairness and due process. The resulting cost of this relief--not only in dollars but also lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers--would be vast."

Berkley Books: Jane & Edward: A Modern Reimagining of Jane Eyre by Melodie Edwards

Amazon's 'Wild West' Union Standoff in Germany

German labor unions, which have called several strikes against Amazon in its German warehouses, accuse the company of enforcing "American-style business practices--in particular, an antipathy to organized labor--that stand at odds with European norms," Sunday's New York Times wrote.

"In Germany, the idea that warehouse workers are going to be getting opposition from an employer when it comes to the right to organize, that's virtually unheard-of," said Marcus Courtney of Uni Global Union. "It puts Amazon out in left field."

Dave Clark, the online retailer's v-p of worldwide operations and customer service, countered that Amazon "views unions as intermediaries that will want to have a say on everything from employee scheduling to changes in processes for handling and packaging orders. Amazon prizes its ability to quickly introduce changes like these into its warehouses to improve the experience of its customers," the Times wrote.

During a June strike at the Leipzig warehouse, Frank Bsirsket, head of ver.di, "played on Amazon's motto of 'Work hard. Have fun. Make history,' telling the strikers they should take it to heart," the Times noted. "You are making history by striking," said Bsirsket. "You are making history by demanding higher wages. We are not going to let a big American company come here and play Wild West. This is a clash of cultures."

ECW Press: We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan

Wise Owl Lands Today in Cambria, Calif.

Congratulations to the Wise Owl Cambria: Books, Music, Café, which opens today in Cambria, Calif. Owned by Lyn Nanni, Eileen Nunes and Jill Knight, the Wise Owl is a combination bookstore, wine bar, coffee shop and performance venue, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

The grand opening celebration runs through Sunday, August 11, and features book signings, poetry readings, live music and more.

The Wise Owl describes itself as "a gathering place of art and soul. Come celebrate life with us and discover more of 'whooo you are.' "

The Wise Owl is open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. every day, and is located at 2164 Center St., Cambria, Calif. 93428; 805-927-8888.

BINC: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship

Astoria Bookshop: A Community Endeavor

As she pored over census data and American Booksellers Association guidelines to help her decide if opening a bookstore in the Astoria section of Queens, N.Y., was feasible, Lexi Beach repeatedly reached the same conclusion. "I kept wondering why someone hadn't opened a store here already," she said. "And then I realized that if I don't do it, someone else will."

Beach, along with her wife and co-owner, Connie Rourke, will open Astoria Bookshop later this month, in an approximately 1,200-square-foot location just down the block from the Broadway N/Q subway stop. When finished, the space will feature floor-to-ceiling shelves along the walls, with movable display tables throughout.

The store will offer a wide range of general-interest titles. Given the concentration of artists and actors in Astoria, the bookshop will have a larger-than-average drama and performing arts section. Based on what sells and what the community asks for, Beach said she'll adjust the inventory as needed. She reads broadly, with a particular interest in literary fiction and literary fantasy, and a passion for cookbooks. To choose inventory for genres in which she is not so well-versed, Beach has called on several local writers to help. Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, both comics writers, will help Beach select YA books and graphic novels. Zora O'Neill, a travel writer, will curate the travel section.

Beach, who formerly worked for online music retailer, plans to collaborate with "as many local businesses and community members as we possibly can," and already the neighborhood has shown an outpouring of support. Recently, after the floor-to-ceiling shelves were delivered, Beach needed to move them so that the contractors could continue to work. It couldn't be done without help, and so she put out an open call for volunteers on the store's Facebook and Twitter pages.

"A ton of people showed up, just to help us with some heavy lifting," Beach recounted. The move went faster than she anticipated, and not long after closing and leaving the store, she received a call on her cell phone. "It was from a pizzeria around the corner; they said they'd brought pizza for everyone helping to move."

Lexi Beach and Connie Rourke proudly show off the keys to their new bookstore.

Beach and Rourke are partnering with Faye Skandalakis, owner of the Story Nook. Skandalakis operates an extensive, online children's bookstore, along with a pop-up shop in Astoria. She and the Story Nook also appear frequently at book fairs, fundraisers and school events. Under the partnership, Astoria Bookshop and the Story Nook intermix their inventories and co-sponsor author and book events. Among other community partnerships, Beach has been in talks with Newtown Literary, a Queens-focused literary magazine, and hopes to bring in brewers from Astoria's Singlecut Beersmiths for some events. Petals & Roots, a florist's shop next door, will display floral and gardening books that customers can buy from Astoria Bookshop.

In early July, Beach created an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise a small portion of the money needed to open the store. She reached her goal of $4,000 in only four days. At present, the campaign has raised more than $5,700, with 11 days left. To create perk-packages for backers, Beach enlisted the help of local authors, chefs and friends of the store. Backers who give $70, for example, can claim the "Read Local: Foodie Edition" perk, a bundle of Astoria-focused cookbooks and food guides (chef Michael Psilakis of Astoria's MP Taverna agreed to donate cookbooks). The $100 "Books & Bones" perk gives donors a private tour of the fossil halls at the American Museum of Natural History, led by a friend of the store and book lover who works at the museum.

The neighborhood's generosity has continued to impress Beach. Last week, a local couple offered to donate several moving dollies, no strings attached. "The community wants this," said Beach. "It's really been a community effort." --Alex Mutter

Baumgardner New Publisher of Feminist Press

Jennifer Baumgardner, a feminist journalist, filmmaker, speaker and writer, is the new publisher/executive director of the Feminist Press, succeeding Gloria Jacobs, who retired after having led publisher since 2006. The board of directors said that Baumgardner's "deep ties to women's and gender studies departments will strengthen the dynamic work of the Feminist Press in addressing the critical social justice issues of our time."

Obituary Notes: Thomas Graham; John Graves; J.C. Suares

Thomas Graham, who worked for many years as manager of the Montgomery Village Copperfield's Books, Santa Rosa, Calif., died July 23. He was 54. On its Facebook page, Copperfield's expressed deep sadness at the news and noted that Graham "was the type of manager who realized that bringing out the guitar on Fridays and singing a few songs made for a fun environment for customers and employees, and he was well loved by both."


John Graves, whose 1960 book Goodbye to a River established him as "a giant in Texas letters and one of the nation's more elegant prose stylists, died Wednesday, the New York Times reported. He was 92. Author Rick Bass once called Graves "the best-loved writer in Texas and one of the least-known beyond the state lines."


J.C. Suares, who illustrated more than 100 books, some by celebrity authors, died last Tuesday, Variety reported. He was 71. Suares also designed and redesigned and contributed cover illustrations to many magazines and other publications.


Image of the day: Rocking Eagle Harbor

Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island, Wash., celebrated the town's First Fridays Art Walk with some great music from the band The Rejections and Trailing Spouses. Seattle authors Jennie Shortridge and Garth Stein were joined by Jennie's husband, Matt Gani; Ben Bauermeister, husband of writer Erica Bauermeister; and Paul Mariz, husband of author Laurie Frankel. Performing both covers (a rockin' "Paperback Writer") and some original tunes, the band wowed the Bainbridge community (and got some requests for future gigs). 

Brookline Booksmith: 2013 Best Bookstore of Boston

Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., has won best bookstore in Boston Magazine's 2013 Best of Boston awards. The citation reads:

"Despite our devotion to Kindles and iPads, it takes just two minutes at Brookline Booksmith for us to fall in love with the printed word all over again: the scuffed hardwood floors, worn from decades of use; the steady, friendly conversation at the register; the lulling background jazz; and, of course, the bookshelves, chock full of fiction and non-, paperbacks and hardcovers, the very old and the novel new."

Book Spot Finds the Right Spot

Danny and Julie Woodfill, co-owners of the Book Spot, Round Rock, Tex., "attempted to open bookstores in different spaces but were not profitable until locating to their 3,000-square-foot shop on Round Rock Avenue in December 2010," Community Impact reported.

Trying different locations "was a good learning experience. Relatively speaking, especially by local [book] businesses, Round Rock is really underserved. We thought this would be a good place for an independent bookstore, Danny said, adding that customer base "is more a matter of where you are. Because of where we are in the suburbs, we do a lot of kid and young-adult books and events."

He cited customer service as the key ingredient in their retail approach: "There's really no reason to be here if we're not providing something that isn't being provided [elsewhere], so [in] large part [for us], that's customer service and customer experience."

'Book Hop' in Portsmouth, N.H.

The New York Times recently spent "36 Hours in Portsmouth," N.H., with recommended stops including a "Book Hop" to Book & Bar, the city's "newest innovation... housed in the granite Old Custom House and Post Office building, originally constructed in 1860;" as well as "two other fine indie book stops: RiverRun Bookstore, for a solid mix of new and used, and Sheafe Street Books, for gently read tomes."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeff Guinn on Inside Edition

This morning on Good Morning America: David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance (Current, $26.95, 9781591845119). He will also appear on NPR's Fresh Air.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Mario Alberto Zambrano, author of Loteria: A Novel (Harper, $21.99, 9780062268549).


Today on Sean Hannity: Clark Howard, author of Clark Howard's Living Large for the Long Haul: Consumer-Tested Ways to Overhaul Your Finances, Increase Your Savings, and Get Your Life Back on Track (Avery, $20, 9781583335253).


Today on NPR's the Takeaway: Christine Montross, author of Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist's Encounters with the Mind in Crisis (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594203930).


Today on Inside Edition: Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Simon & Schuster, $27.50, 9781451645163). Tomorrow he appears on MSNBC's the Cycle.


Tonight on CNN's Anderson 360: Wil Haygood, author of The Butler: A Witness to History (37 Ink, $18, 9781476752990). Haygood also appears tomorrow on MSNBC's Morning Joe.


Tonight on CNN's Piers Morgan: Linda Fairstein, author of Death Angel (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525953876). She will also appear tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe.


Tonight on the Daily Show: Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley (Crown Archetype, $26, 9780770436209).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Christopher Andersen, author of These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie (Gallery, $27, 9781476732329).


Tomorrow on the Chew: Michael Pollan, author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204210).


Tomorrow on a repeat of Ellen: Jessica Alba, author of The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You (Rodale, $22.99, 9781609619114).

John Green on The Fault in Our Stars Movie

Author John Green spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.

"I'm totally, unambiguously excited about The Fault in Our Stars being a movie," he said. "It's not something I could have ever said before, about my other books, and the reason I'm so excited is that Shailene and Ansel are so great and Josh Bloom is such a great director. They've included me in every facet of the process, and I'm just so excited. So in the past where I felt nervous and I felt like Hollywood would sort of twist or lessen my books, now I'm just really, really excited."

Green also expressed confidence in the filmmakers' approach to his novel: "The people who are making the movie are aware of how passionately the readers of the book feel, and they respect that, and they want to honor that. Like me, they are terrified of failing to live up to readers' expectations, and I think that's really healthy. That is something I never expected to happen in my life because I don't write the kinds of books that make big Hollywood movies, but I'm so so grateful and excited."

Books & Authors

Awards: Found in Translation

Antonia Lloyd-Jones won the 10,000 PLN (about US$3,101) Found in Translation Award, which "is usually given to the translator of the best work of translation of a single book from Polish into English, but the judges decided that Lloyd-Jones should be given the prize for the entirety of her 2012 output" of seven works of literature, the Bookseller reported.

Lloyd-Jones observed that "not much [Polish literature] gets translated into English, and with only 30,000 books published a year in Poland compared with up to ten times as many in the U.K., it's hard for Polish literature to break through the competition. But since the removal of the straitjacket of censorship, Polish literature has finally had the chance to play the healthy role that literature can play, allowing a society to express its experiences and come to understand them."

Book Review

Book Review: Someone

Someone by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 hardcover, 9780374281090, September 10, 2013)

Alice McDermott's intimate character study Someone is the latest in a line of works, including her National Book Award-winning Charming Billy and At Weddings and Wakes, that should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the 20th-century Irish-American experience.

Someone is an episodic journey through the life of Brooklyn-born Marie (McDermott gives her no last name until she marries) that spans from the eve of the Great Depression almost to the end of the century. Plagued by poor eyesight from birth, Marie is a "shy child and comical-looking," overshadowed by her intense, intellectual older brother, Gabe, who is destined for the priesthood, a vocation he quickly and inexplicably abandons. Marie is a dutiful daughter and eventually a devoted wife and mother of four children. But she possesses an independent streak that surfaces in her comical rebellion against her mother's efforts to teach her how to make soda bread. "Once you learn to do it," she protests, "you'll be expected to do it."  

Marie seasons her first-person account with sketches of several memorable supporting characters: a Syrian-Irish woman with the improbable name of Pegeen Chehab; Bill Corrigan, a man blinded in a World War I gas attack, who serves as the "umpire" of the neighborhood stickball games; and a compassionate funeral director named Fagin who hires Marie to serve as the "consoling angel" to grieving families. There are sufficient incidents--an accidental death, a suicide and a shocking revelation that follows the wedding night of a teacher from the neighborhood--to ensure the novel never loses its narrative momentum.

Whether it's an awkward reunion between Marie and the man who proposed marriage and then abandoned her for a more attractive partner or a conversation at the kitchen table with her brother after his release from a Long Island mental hospital, McDermott excels at inhabiting ordinary, fleeting events while effortlessly transfiguring them into intensely meaningful encounters. But her overriding concern, and the essence of her art, lies in the way she shows how the simple people who populate this working-class world deal humbly and honorably with the inevitable reversals and tragedies of life. She invests their stories with a quiet dignity and, in their best moments, transforms them into something approaching heroism. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: McDermott offers the intimate story of an Irish American woman's life in 20th-century New York.

Deeper Understanding

Cures for Common Booksellers' Ailments

photo: Johnny Ring

Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, authors of The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You (The Penguin Press; September 30, 2013; $26.95) have some prescriptions especially for booksellers.

What ails you, bookseller? Quite a lot, it turned out when we asked around--from the independent bookstore's struggle to compete with the online retailers to the conflicted feelings borne toward that all-important third party: the customer. Luckily, remedies and restoratives abound on the shelves of your very own store. Choose your ailment from the list, then administer our novel cure.

Ailment: Going under, fear of
Cure: If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
The economic downturn affects everyone in retail. But as a bookseller you have every reason to be positive, trading as you do in the least expensive, most adaptable and most transportable form of entertainment money can buy. Beat the downturn-- and your fear of going under--by re-infecting your local community with the reading bug, and what better novel to help you do it than If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. Italo Calvino's novel is a hymn to the pleasure of being so caught up in a story that to be prevented from reading to the end is utter torture. You know it; your customers know it; but we all need to be reminded from time to time. Hand out copies of the novel to your workforce so that they infect everyone they meet with the contagious passion within.

Ailment: Competition, fighting off the
Cure: Gold by Chris Cleave
To survive in the competitive bookselling market, a ruthless and determined streak may be imperative. Zoe and Kate in Chris Cleave's Olympic novel have this streak woven into their Lycra body-skins. Friends since teenagehood, the two passionate cyclists are both going for gold in the 2013 Games. Cleave stitches their backstories into the narrative in such a way that their battle for victory becomes deeply compelling: one contestant lost her brother when she was 10; the other must stay strong for a child with a terminal disease. Their desperation for the highest accolade that sport can offer will seep through sweat and tears into your own heart, pumping you with the necessary adrenalin and drive to push ahead and leave your competitors far behind.

Ailment: Choice, overwhelmed by
Cure: I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelssohn
The fact is, you can't expect to read every new book that arrives in your shop. But should it be the new novel by A.M. Homes, the latest literary ingénue who everyone's raving about or the third novel in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian trilogy which you never quite got round to?

Making intelligent choices about your reading is the difference between swimming and sinking in the sea of books available these days. Jane Mendelssohn's lyrical imagining of what might have happened to the famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart had she survived the plane crash in which she disappeared shows how unhappy we can be made when besieged by the world and its demands. Earhart and her alcoholic navigator, Noonan, create for themselves a Robinson Crusoe-like existence on their desert island, both undergoing a heady transformation in which simple, sensual pleasures are all that matter. Let them inspire you to pare down your to-read list. You don't have to read everything; but read what you read with focus and as few interruptions as possible--as if you, too, were marooned on a desert island with nothing else to do.

Ailment: Blushing
Cure: Lady: My Life as a Bitch by Melvyn Burgess
Bookish sorts are often shy, sticking their noses in books from childhood onwards as a way of avoiding others. But what happens when the author you most admire materialises at your counter, offering to sign their books? Do you swoon? Do you stammer? Do you blush?

You grab a copy of Lady: My Life as a Bitch. When teenager Sandra accidentally knocks over an alchy's beer one day and is accused of being a "bitch," she at first doesn't notice that her body has obeyed the slander. Running away on suddenly speedy feet, she finds she's unrecognisable to her own mother. Despite all her attempts to convince her family that the mongrel barking on their doorstep is actually her, she soon finds herself out on the street. Gradually, she casts aside her human notions of shame and civilization, and embraces a more doggy approach to life, reveling in the smells of other canines, in the joy of chasing cats and in the simple contentment of a full belly. Reading this surprising novel will have you shaking off your self-consciousness once and for all, leaving you to wag your tail with reckless joy at the mention of your favourite author's name, then drooling happily at his or her feet when they pitch up.

Ailment: Writer's block
Cure: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
You love to read, you love to talk about books. And possibly you also love to write, harbouring a dream of publishing your own book one day. If so, you'll almost certainly suffer from writer's block at some point in your life.

The remedy inflicted on the blocked novelist-father in I Capture the Castle is nothing short of genius; but to tell it would be to give away the plot of this charming novel. Suffice to say that Mortmain is cured because his observant youngest daughter, Cassandra, realises he needs a few, basic elements to be in place before the words will flow--including the Encyclopaedia Britannica and someone to do the cooking. Copy the cure as you read, and you might find yourself featuring in your bookshop in more ways than one.

Ailment: Misanthropy
Cure: The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann
Let's face it: you work with books because you love books--not because you love people. Dealing with the general public is never easy, and sometimes you wish those pesky customers would just go away and leave you to read in peace. You secretly dread the sound of the bell that announces the arrival of a new customer.

If you find yourself entertaining such misanthropic thoughts from time to time, Thomas Mann's The Holy Sinner is your medicine. Gregory has good reason to shun society: he married his mother, killed his father, and is himself the offspring of a brother and sister. When he discovers his incestuous origins, he shackles himself to a rock in the middle of a lake and stays there for 17 years, drinking the "milk of mother earth" and eventually shrinking to the size of a hedgehog. Back on the mainland, the pope dies, and two bishops have a vision which gives them to understand that his successor is to be found... you've guessed it, on an island in the middle of a lake.

It all turns out for the best. Gregory discovers that his hatred was for himself, not everybody else, and once he has forgiven himself he becomes the greatest pope of all time--admired for his wisdom, clemency and understanding. Take a leaf from Pope Gregory, and before you know it your heart will jump in delight at the tinkle of that bell.

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