Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft


To the Editor: Groundswell for Highest Tide

Warren Cassell, former longtime owner of Just Books in Greenwich, Conn., and now living in Portland, Ore., where he works part time at Broadway Books, writes concerning a Jim Lynch title that has just come out in paperback and was recommended yesterday by Valerie Ryan, owner of Cannon Beach Book Co. in Cannon Beach, Ore.:

Not that we Oregonians have to stick together, but I would like to affirm Valerie Ryan's endorsement of The Highest Tide (Bloomsbury USA, $13.95, 1582346291). It's simply a great read--for teenager through septuagenarian--and one of the most likable books I've read in a long time. It is also a staff favorite for all of the employees of Broadway Books who have had the pleasure of reading it. This is the kind of sleeper that should really score with indies throughout the country.

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans


Notes: Waterstone's to Drop Amazon; O'Donnell's Move

Sales continued to drop at HMV Group, owner of Waterstone's and suitor of Ottakar's, according to Reuters. In the year ended April 29, sales at stores open at least a year fell 5.7%, and in the last 16 weeks Waterstone's sales have fallen 5.6%.

In other company news, the original Ottakar's bid has lapsed, and a new bid will likely be lower than the last 440-pence-a-share offer. The company expects competition commission clearance by May 22.

This fall Waterstone's will set up its own online bookselling site and will end its arrangement with Outgoing CEO Alan Giles commented: "The Internet is becoming too significant to be outsourcing it."


Check out the winners of the Book Standard's Book Video Awards, presented last night:

  • For The Thieves of Heaven: Alan Van Dyke, North Carolina School of the Arts
  • For Stuart: A Life Backwards: Yitz Brilliant, Columbia Film School
  • For Shadow Man: Hiu Yan "Emily" Kwong and Michael B. DeWeese, North Carolina School of the Arts


Peg O'Donnell is joining Chelsea Green Publishing as sales director. She was formerly marketing director/children's specialist at National Book Network and earlier was a sales rep at Publishers Group West (where she won Publishers Weekly's Rep of the Year award in 2001), managing editor at Black Lizard Books and a bookstore manager in Berkeley, Calif. Chelsea Green said O'Donnell is "thrilled to be working with a publisher whose program is so aligned with her own personal beliefs."


Gregg Sullivan is joining HarperCollins's ReganMedia as director of marketing and promotions, effective May 17. He had been at St. Martin's Press, where he began his publishing career in 1997 and worked on media campaigns for such titles as The Nanny Diaries, Running with Scissors and Atkins for Life.

In a statement, CEO and publisher Judith Regan welcomed Sullivan by saying, "Gregg has an outstanding track record and has built the stamina necessary to manage the many challenges of a modern media company. Plus, he's Irish which means he has wit, a quality that is always welcome in this madhouse. We are all excited that he is now part of our team."


It's becoming a trend: ABC shows like Lost and Commander in Chief are featuring glimpses of books. Sunday night it happened again, when near the end of Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Preston Burke grabbed a copy of the bestselling Covenant with Black America edited by Tavis Smiley (Third World Press, $12, 0883782774) to read while eating dinner.

Sara Hoerdeman of IPG, which distributes the book, wrote, "This was unexpected by all, and we Grey's-addicted IPGers were thrilled to see it."


Tokyopop is introducing two children's series: Manga Chapters for 6-9 year olds and Manga Readers for 8-12 year olds, which aim, the company says, to "make reading fun while promoting language and literacy skills."

Making its debut in September, Manga Chapters will combine chapter books and manga. The first of the 96-page books, which will retail for $4.99, include The Grosse Adventures: The Good, the Bad & the Gassy by children's author Annie Auerbach and Agent Boo: The Littlest Agent by Alex de Campi, part of a sci-fi series.

Manga Readers, which will launch in July and retail for $5.99, includes the following initial titles: Kat & Mouse by Alex de Campi, about two girls who use science and math to solve mysteries; Mail Order Ninja by Josh Elder, featuring a boy and his ninja companion; and Zapt! by Keith Giffen and Shannon Denton, about a schoolboy who's also an intergalactic policeman.

Noting that manga wasn't even a bookstore category 10 years ago, Tokyopop senior editor Nicole Monastirsky said in a statement that the new lines are "both ideal for reluctant readers and future manga fans."


The Boston Globe investigates the components of Alloy Media + Marketing, the parent company of the book packager made famous by the Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarism scandal. "More than books for reading," the paper said, "Alloy titles are content packages, with potential for advertising and cross-marketing," including product placement.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

BEA on the Horizon: Mavericks at Work

Here's another potentially hot BEA panel: William C. Taylor and Polly G. LaBarre, whose Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win will be published by Morrow in September, will speak on the subject of "independent booksellers as mavericks."

Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., will introduce the authors, who plan to offer insights into what the best companies are doing to beat the competition, to improve customer service and more. There's incentive to stay to hear the full story: a free iPod Shuffle and a free phone consultation with Taylor and LaBarre will be raffled off at the end of the session.

Find the Mavericks on Thursday, May 18, 2:15-4:15 p.m., in Room 150B.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Andes Survivor; Times Casualty

Today on Imus in the Morning: Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Morrow, $29.95, 0061124230).


This morning on the Today Show, a lovely way to prepare for the day: psychologist Paul Babiak talks about the new book he co-wrote, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (Regan Books, $26.95, 0060837721).

Also on Today: Clare Staples talks all about her new book, Everything I Know About Men I Learned from my Dog (Free Press, $12, 0743291239).

And also on Today: Howell Raines, the former New York Times executive editor whose new book is The One That Got Away: A Memoir (Scribner, $25, 0743272781).


This morning on the Early Show: Nando Parrado, whose Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home (Crown, $25, 1400097673) recounts his role in the 1972 plane crash disaster that was the subject of Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read.


Today Oprah exchanges advice with Dr. Robin L. Smith, author of Lies at the Altar: The Truth About Great Marriages (Hyperion, $24.95, 1401302564).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Barry Werth, author of 31 Days: The Crisis That Gave Us the Government We Have Today (Nan A. Talese, $26, 0385513801), an account of the tumultuous period between Richard Nixon's resignation and Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon, when, among other things, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld moved up the ladder.

Also on Diane Rehm: Clark Kent Ervin, the first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and author of Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 1403972885).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Eric Shawn, Fox News correspondent and author of The UN Exposed: How the United Nations Sabotages America's Security and Fails the World (Sentinel, $23.95, 1595230203).

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

The following new titles have laydown dates of next Tuesday, May 16:

Dead Watch by John Sandford (Putnam, $26.95, 0399153543). Political operative Jacob Winter investigates the brutal murder of an ex-senator who has been speaking out against a demagogue--a political thriller from the author of the Prey series.


The Man of My Dreams: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $22.95, 1400064767). From the author of Prep, another coming-of-age story.


The Hard Way: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Delacorte, $25, 0385336691). In his 10th appearance, Reacher tracks a vicious kidnapper.


10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John M. Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman and Joan Declaire (Crown, $25, 1400050189). John M. Gottman is co-author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert; now he writes with his wife.

Book Review

Mandahla: Simple Gifts Reviewed

Simple Gifts: Great Hymns: One Man's Search for Grace by Bill Henderson (Free Press, $22.00 Hardcover, 9780743284738, March 2006)

Bill Henderson, founder and publisher of Pushcart Press, was raised in a Presbyterian family, but lost his faith as a teenager. He rediscovered it decades later when a snowstorm cancelled his usual Sunday morning New York Times-and-bagel routine, and he decided to attend church with his wife and daughter. There, singing a hymn with the few people who showed up, "missing words, mashing notes, but confessing everything to each other in . . . unadorned voices," Henderson was overcome. Six months later he was a church member, and years later, "a cranky, suspicious-of-cheap-doctrine elder." The hymn, whose name he has forgotten, had brought him full circle.
Simple Gifts celebrates the classic hymns that have sustained him over the years and given him hope recently after a cancer diagnosis. He considers the themes of simplicity, wonder and love, which are his names for God. Within this framework, he writes extensively about three hymns--the Shaker "Simple Gifts," "Amazing Grace," and "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace"--and elaborates on dozens of other hymns.  "There Is a Balm in Gilead," "Abide with Me" ("not a song of easy comforts and all the usual phrases of the bliss to come, [but one of] tremendous integrity"), and a hymn that many dismiss as hopelessly old-time: "In the Garden" ("I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. . . "). Henderson's exposition gives us a different view of this traditional song. First, he calls it sensual, a concentrated Song of Solomon, even surmising that it was dropped from the new Presbyterian hymnal for being too sexy. Then he explains the story--it depicts Mary Magdalene's moments with Christ after his resurrection, encapsulating "the essence of Mary and of our longing for people lost to us in death, and of an immortality of our own." Further, Henderson says of the refrain ("He walks with me and He talks with me..."), "This is a rhythm to walk around with all day in a world that often regards you as dispensable traffic."
Henderson remembers his father, whose absolute faith in eternal life is defined by the rousing "He Lives!" He mixes Doris Grumbach, Rick Moody, Simone Weil, and A.A.'s Bill W. with John Newton, Thomas Dorsey and Fanny Crosby while sharing his search for grace through hymns. His fresh take on old songs makes us see them anew, and appreciate what has become clichéd. In discussing his favorite carols--"O Holy Night," "Joy to the World," "In the Bleak Midwinter"--he surprises again with his choice of "Away in a Manger":
I love thee Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
"It's a child's plea for love and tenderness, but I'd suggest it for almost anybody sleepless in the middle of the night. Even just the name of Jesus said over and over, a mantra of eternal, unconditional love, will let you drift off."
To anyone who has grown up with these hymns and carols, Simple Gifts is a treasure of memory and music, of past and present joys. It's a reminder of how deeply music is embedded in our selves, and how it can reach the deepest places within us:  "A mediocre hymn is as bad as a lousy sermon . . . I snap shut the hymnal and stand in silence." But when a great hymn hits, when it reaches inside, "the problem is not shall I sing, but can I manage to sing at all."--Marilyn Dahl

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