Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 2, 2013


St. Martin's Press: A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong

Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Second Edition, Revised) by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, illustrated by MacKenzie Haley

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Sleeping Bear Press: Santa's Secret by Denise Brennan-Nelson, illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Abrams Books for Young Readers: Harry Houdini (First Names) by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Geraint Ford and Amelia Earhart (First Names) by Mike Smith, illustrated by Andrew Prentice

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

News

France Honors Roth, Reveals Plans for NYC Bookshop

Photo: Danny Garcia/French Embassy

On Friday, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius presented Philip Roth with the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor at a ceremony that culminated with the groundbreaking for a bookshop in New York City, Page Views reported. "Writers and books need bookstores," said Fabius.

François Delattre, French ambassador to the U.S., said the bookshop, located in the embassy, will be devoted to works in French and in translation, offering more than 14,000 titles. The space will also host author conversations, panel discussions and exhibits.

The embassy has enlisted French designer Jacques Garcia, "who is renowned for designing interiors that create a link between traditional and modern architecture, such as his celebrated restoration of the Chateau du Champ de Bataille in Normandy," to create a "suitably elegant new interior" in the mansion that was designed by Beaux-Arts architect Stanford White at the beginning of the 20th century.

In presenting Roth with his insignia, Fabius said, "You have enlightened French readers with your art of storytelling." Page Views noted that after Roth "humbly accepted the red-ribboned medal before a standing ovation, he spoke of his early affection toward the French." He also said "this highest of honors comes as a wonderful surprise," and concluded his speech, "Je suis absolutement ravi."


Blue Rider Press:  One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten


Scribd Launches E-Book Subscription Service

Scribd, the document sharing site, has launched a digital book subscription service, and HarperCollins has signed as a publishing partner. For a monthly fee of $8.99, readers can access books and other written works on their iPhone, iPad, Android devices and Web browsers. According to Scribd, the majority of the HarperCollins U.S. and HarperCollins Christian backlist catalogue will be available through the service. In addition, the full HarperCollins catalogue can be purchased in the Scribd retail store.

HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray told the New York Times he was encouraged to sign on to the Netflix/Spotify-like service partly because of consumer interest in subscription models for music, television and radio. "There's been a few small pilots but they've been really small start-ups," he said. "Scribd has an opportunity to really become a player in the e-book space."

GigaOM noted that Scribd's service "actually soft-launched with participation from some small publishers this past January, but the hook for Tuesday's announcement is that Scribd has secured the bulk of 'Big 5' publisher HarperCollins' catalogue for its service." Other publishers working with Scribd include E-Reads, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks and Workman.

"Scribd can convert these people [80 million active users] over to the book subscriptions," Jan Johnson, publisher at Red Wheel/Weiser, told Wired. "We are all for this, and we think it will just expand our audience. People will either read a book there, on the service, or buy the book in some other way if they want to keep it in their own library--either their electronic library or their real library. Some people still read books on paper."
 
Oysterbooks.com, an e-book subscription venture that offers consumers access to more than 100,000 books for a monthly fee of $9.95, launched last month.


 Peachtree Publishing Company: Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (Revised) by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinso


Seminary Co-op Bookstore's Jack Cella Retiring

photo: U. of Chicago magazine

Jack Cella, general manager of Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., will retire October 13 after more than 40 years at the store, the Hyde Park Herald reported. Board of directors chair Bill Gerstein and vice-chair Art Sussman made the announcement to bookstore members yesterday in an e-mail. "There is truly no replacing Jack, and we will miss him greatly," they noted. "We will work quickly to identify interim leadership for the store while we conduct a national search for Jack's successor."

Nancy Maull, v-p of executive headhunter Isaacson, Miller, will work on finding a replacement, the Herald wrote. Cella will continue to advise the store in its selections.


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Page One Bookstore Seeking New Location

Page One Bookstore, Albuquerque, N.Mex., is scrambling to find a new location after 30 years in the Juan Tabo Plaza. KASA reported that a Walmart supermarket "is taking over the space and the clock is running out to find a new home."

Owner Steve Stout said he's waiting for an eviction notice from the landlord. "And then after that, in 30 days, we'll probably need to be out." Stout is close to completing a deal with a space at the Mountain Run Shopping Center near Eubank and Juan Tabo. Demolition of Page One is scheduled to begin in December.

Despite the pressure, Stout said he was looking forward to the change: "I'm actually excited about a new location because our air conditioners here are 45 years old, landlord hasn't been willing to improve them."

When the time to move finally arrives, "his fellow bookworms have volunteered to help make the transition," KASA reported. "It's the only reason I'm staying in the book business," Stout said. "It's my life and when the community pulls together and supports us, that's what makes it worthwhile."


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


For Sale: Najafi's Chapitre Bookstore Chain

French bookseller Chapitre has put its 57 bookshops up for sale "and will go into liquidation next summer if no buyers are found," the Bookseller reported. Chapitre is a subsidiary of Actissia, which also owns France-Loisirs and chapitre.com, and belongs to the American investment firm Najafi Companies, which had been one of the potential buyers of Borders Group in 2011.

Chapitre's chairman Michel Rességuier "said he saw no reason for the profitable outlets not to find takers," but did not exclude the possibility that the remaining stores might be placed in receivership next summer, the Bookseller wrote. Bookshops in Mont-Saint-Aignan and Toulouse have already been sold and three more--in Rennes, Dax and Grenoble--are on the verge of changing hands.


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum


Government Shutdown: McNally Jackson Responds

"Due to the government shutdown, starting today, all nonessential sections here will be closed," New York City's McNally Jackson bookstore (@mcnallyjackson) tweeted yesterday afternoon, followed by a series of announcements:


"Initially we closed Mystery, Graphic Novels and General European Literature. You can guess why (too liminal).

"When addressing the closure of Poetry, there was great agitation, a few garbled verses, and a request to be considered at a later date.

"During Poetry's pending review, a number of sections have been closed:

"Philosophy: too much thinking, not enough doing

"Sports: too much doing, not enough thinking

"Horror: closed (too scary)

"Issues and Politics: this is not a dialogue

"Sex: closed (too scary)

"Meanwhile, poetry has been closed.

"We'll keep you updated on all other closures as they occur."


Notes

Images of the Day: Jesmyn Ward at Octavia Books

Last Friday, a standing-room-only crowd gathered at Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., for a reading and signing by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, whose new book is the critically acclaimed memoir Men We Reaped.

"We easily had 125 to 150 people in the store for the event with Jesmyn," said Octavia's co-owner Tom Lowenburg. "She had just driven in directly from her teaching job in Mobile at the University of South Alabama. The audience was completely magnetized from the first words she read."

On Twitter, @yellowdoorhouse tweeted: "Reduced to tears hearing Jesmyn Ward read from Men We Reaped @octaviabooks. This book will wreck you, then lift you up."


Chapter One's Future Bookseller

Congratulations to the newest little book-lover at Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont. Co-owner Mara Lynn Luther gave birth to a daughter, Mikaela Skye Downing, on Thursday. Co-owner Shawn Wathen said, "We start training ASAP."


More than Just a Book Launch for The Funeral Dress

There are book launches... and then there are book launches. The Funeral Dress (Broadway Books), Susan Gregg Gilmore's latest novel, is set during the 1970s (with flashbacks), and two (fictional) Tennessee locations play a key role in the story: the Tennewa Shirt Factory in Cullen and the Fulton-Pittman Funeral Home.

Gilmore's research, however, was based on real workers in a real place, and when planning began for her September 19 book launch at the closed Spartan Industries plant in Dunlap, Tenn., a "small committee of no more than 15 women--the Friends of the Sequatchie County Library--organized the entire event. The chairman, Susan Greer, was unstoppable," she said.

Old equipment (sewing machines, pressing machines, collar turners, etc,) and materials (patterns, spools of thread, bundles of collars, buttons, zippers) were found in a neighboring town, brought back to the building and placed as if the factory was still operating. "A 1940s Packard hearse sat in front of the shirt factory, setting the tone," Gilmore recalled. "They all wore black as though they were at a funeral. Floral cemetery sprays flanked either side of the front door. And when I stepped into the factory, I felt as though my novel had unfolded in front of me."

On the day of the book launch, the building filled with people who had once worked in the factory as pattern setters (always men), managers, pressers, seamstresses, bundle boys, folders. "White-haired women, some in wheelchairs, others using walkers or canes, were there, fingering old patterns, studying the machinery, sharing fond memories," Gilmore said. "One long-time married couple kidded that they had spent too much time in the parking lot making out. Another told me of a woman who walked down Fredonia Mountain to work every day, and one day she stopped and birthed her baby on the side of the road and walked back up the mountain; left the baby with family at home and walked back to the factory to work her shift. She was the one responsible for feeding her family."

It was not just about the work, however; it was about making a better life. Gilmore noted that "other women described a community where children came to school barefoot and in the same dirty clothes all week, until the factory opened. Then children came to school in shoes, clean clothes. Before long, grades went up. But I don't think these hard-working women ever expected their work as collar makers, lapel makers, bottom hemmers, sleeve setters and the like to be honored. Yes, it was a celebration of the book and a signing, but it wasn't about me. It was about these amazing women. Nearly 300 men and women came that afternoon, cooling themselves with--you got it--funeral home fans."

She added her great regret was that Marea Barker, a 29-year veteran lapel maker who "had spent several afternoons talking to me and even showing me around the shirt factory on a cold, gray day nearly two years ago," did not live long enough to attend the celebration. "She never spoke of the tediousness of the task--she only spoke of community."

Singer-songwriter Belinda Smith closed the afternoon event by singing "I Believe in You," a song inspired by The Funeral Dress. "Truth be told, I still get a bit weepy when I think about that day," Gilmore said. --Robert Gray, contributing editor


Random House to Distribute Dark Horse to Book Trade

Effective June 1, 2014, Random House Publisher Services will sell and distribute all Dark Horse Books to bookstores worldwide. Diamond Book Distributors, Dark Horse's current distributor, will continue to distribute Dark Horse to the comics specialty market.

Dark Horse founder and publisher Mike Richardson commented: "When I started Dark Horse Comics in 1986, the plan was to create the highest-quality books, comics, and graphic novels and get them into the hands of as many readers as possible. The decision to move the book market portion of our business was very difficult. Diamond Book Distributors, our current book market distributor, has been a great partner for us for nearly a decade, but it's now time for a new approach, one we think helps us as we expand our prose and general book categories in traditional bookstores. While we are moving a portion of our business, we know that Diamond will continue to be a strong and valuable partner in the comics specialty market."


Personnel Changes at Scholastic

Alexis Lunsford has joined the Scholastic Trade Publishing division as national accounts manager for Barnes & Noble/NOOK. Most recently, she was account manager for Barnes & Noble at Penguin Young Readers Group.

Michael Barrett has joined Scholastic as senior publicist, corporate communications. He was previously at Discovery.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jamie Moyer on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Jamie Moyer, author of Just Tell Me I Can't: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time (Grand Central, $27, 9781455521586).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Robin Quivers, author of The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life (Avery, $35, 9781583334737).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Marc Ecko, author of Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out (Touchstone, $30, 9781451685305).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Sophie Hayes, author of Trafficked: My Story of Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution (Sourcebooks, $15.99, 9781402281037).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Valerie Plame, co-author of Blowback: A Vanessa Pierson Novel (Blue Rider, $26.95, 9780399158209). She will also appear on AC360 Later.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Rebecca Solnit, author of The Faraway Nearby (Viking, $25.95, 9780670025961). As the show put it: "Part memoir, part literary criticism, part self-analysis, Rebecca Solnit's The Faraway Nearby is an inter-genre meditation on the ways our lives are orchestrated by stories. Solnit does not believe that fairy tales, novels, and religious parables offer escape routes from life, but rather are transformative blueprints for personal redemption and growth. Here she reflects on her turn from disaster writing to this book's overarching interest in healing and metamorphosis."

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Tomorrow on Bloomberg Surveillance: Nolan Bushnell, co-author of Finding the Next Steve Jobs: How to Find, Keep, and Nurture Talent (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476759814).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service (Sarah Crichton, $26, 9780374180669).


Harry Potter & the 'Glut of Trademarking'

A "glut of trademarking" by Warner Bros. of several titles and names from the world of Harry Potter "suggests the big screen version of J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them could spawn more movies in the Harry Potter universe," the Guardian reported. The trademarked names include Scamander, Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages and quidditch expert Kennilworthy Whisp, as well as team names Wimbourne Wasps, Chudley Cannons and Kenmare Kestrels.

"While the new series of trademarkings may simply be a case of Warner preparing diligently for all eventualities, they suggest that the studio plans to retain a Rowling presence on the big screen for the foreseeable future," the Guardian noted.



Books & Authors

Awards: Charleston & Chichester

Irish author William Trevor was presented with the inaugural Charleston & Chichester Award for a Lifetime's Excellence in Short Fiction during the Small Wonder Festival in Charleston, East Sussex, last weekend, the Bookseller reported. Diana Reich, administrator of the award, said that Trevor was "a master exponent of the tragedy of manners" and had been a "unanimous choice" by the judges.


Book Brahmin: Mark Nepo

photo: Brian Bankston

Poet, teacher and storyteller Mark Nepo has taught poetry and spirituality for 40 years. He has published 14 books and recorded eight audio projects, including Seven Thousand Ways to Listen (which won a 2012 Books for a Better Life Award) and The Book of Awakening. Nepo's new book is the poetry collection Reduced to Joy (Viva Editions, October 1, 2013).

On your nightstand now:

I always read many things at once, as it feels like being in a conversation across time. Right now, my companions are The Art of Haiku by Stephen Addiss, a comprehensive history of the haiku sensibility; The Collected Poems of Czesław Miłosz, an amazingly clear and incandescent poet; and I'm rereading The Book of Tea, Okakura Kakuzo's great classic about the tea ceremony, which is a compelling metaphor for life.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My ninth grade English teacher, sensing an untethered depth in me, pulled me aside one day and gave me her copy of Ayn Rand's small parable Anthem. I had no understanding of Ayn Rand or any of her self-reliant philosophies, but her powerful tale about a futuristic society in which the word "I" had been banished forever opened me to the mystery and necessity of having a foundational self from which to relate to everything beyond the self.

Passages from Five of Your Favorite Poets:

You didn't come into this house so I might tear off
a piece of your life. Perhaps when you leave
you'll take something of mine: chestnuts,
roses or a surety of roots.
   --Pablo Neruda, from "Wine"

I am alone but not alone enough
to make every moment holy.
   --Rilke, from The Book of Hours

In all ten directions of the Universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.
   --Ryokan

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray...

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.
   --Stanley Kunitz, from "The Layers"

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth...

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
   --Naomi Shihab Nye, from "Kindness"

Book you've faked reading:

When in high school, I never made it through Dante's Divine Comedy. Many years later, I was blessed to have the Jungian analyst Helen Luke as a mentor. She had written an amazing book called Dark Wood to White Rose: The Journey of Transformation in Dante's Divine Comedy. She asked me if I'd read it, not because she wrote it, but because the stumbling points in my life at that time were archetypal and well-discussed in her inquiry. I sheepishly said, "No." She firmly encouraged me, "You need to read it." I took her counsel but didn't get around to reading it till after she had died. I felt some regret at not reading it sooner, but realized I was meant to read this after meeting her, after working with her, after she was gone, when I would be on my own. I finally read The Divine Comedy in my 50s with an eye and ear and heart ready for its teachings.

Book you find indispensable and that changed your life:

For me, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a quintessential parable that grips me every time I read it. I've read this small classic every eight or 10 years and because of how life has shaped me, it speaks and mirrors life differently each time I read it, like a deep well that reflects back who I am more fully each time I go it. It's a gem of a book that I highly recommend to anyone committed to the unpredictable journey of being here.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Illuminated Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and illustrated by Michael Green.

Favorite line from a book:

"What is to give light must endure burning."--from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl's modern classic Man's Search for Meaning.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Anything by Walt Whitman or Pablo Neruda.


Book Review

Children's Review: Battle Bunny

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, illus. by Matthew Myers (Simon & Schuster, $14.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-9, 9781442446731, October 22, 2013)

Leave it to Jon Scieszka (Knucklehead) and Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn) to take a bland, blah birthday story starring a benign bunny and turn it into a tale of a rabbit on a rampage, ready to wage war.

As with all great comedy, timing is everything. The book opens with an idyllic scene of a sweet bunny waking from "a night of pleasant dreams." However, a child (whom we know from "Gran Gran's" inscription is named "Alexander") peers in through the window with a thought balloon that reads, "Uh oh." With a turn of the page, readers see why: the Birthday Bunny transforms into a "Battle Bunny!" sporting a pirate's patch over his left eye and a transmitter; as the rabbit protagonist stretches and stirs, Alex ducks down so only his eyes show.

One of the brilliant things about the book is that the original text is crossed out in pencil in such a way that children can clearly read it, and the ingenious ways in which the recipient of the Birthday Bunny book has amended the words. The contrast between the original story and the rejiggered plot gives the book its humor.  The book will be a hit at storytime if you have two readers: one to play sickly-sweet straight man or woman, reciting the original text, while a second reads the doctored-up version in an evil henchman or -woman voice. The art was photographed twice: first as Matthew Myers's rose-colored vision--all sunshine and lollipops--then again after Myers demonizes the rabbit and depicts how the bad bunny wreaked havoc on his environs.

Authors and artist deconstruct every part of the book, from the half-title and copyright pages to the plug for other books on the back cover. In a standout scene, "Birthday Bunny started on his path, hopping through the trees." The diabolical version: "Battle Bunny started on his Evil Plan, chopping through the trees." Myers depicts the nefarious rabbit wielding a saw and leaving stumps in his path. He overlays cartoon-style panel sequences to chronicle various conflicts, often drawn over bucolic grassy landscapes and clear blue skies, to underscore the irony of the situations.

Scieszka, Barnett and Myers invite children to take an active role in this story and, by extension, all the stories they read--and to think critically about the choices author and artist make. What would readers do differently if they were writing the story? How do text and art work together? How do they play against each other? How can you bring those models into your own writing? Aside from the limitless possibilities to prompt critical thinking, Battle Bunny makes for great entertainment: it's funny, the plot builds, and the protagonist captivates readers' attention. It also begs to be reread and shared. Kids will be eager to compare notes and to relive it with their friends. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: With quick wits and a sharp pencil, the triumphant triumvirate of Sciescka, Barnett and Myers transforms the benign Birthday Bunny into the dastardly Battle Bunny.


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