Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

News

Kobo Upload: Aiki New CEO as Serbinis Steps Down

Effective immediately, Michael Serbinis, who two years ago helped arrange the deal through which Japan's Rakuten bought Kobo--which had been spun off from Canada's Indigo Books & Music--is resigning as CEO and being replaced by Takahito "Taka" Aiki, the Financial Post reported.

Aiki was most recently CEO of Fusion Communications, a Rakuten telecom subsidiary. He will run Kobo from its headquarters in Toronto. Serbinis will serve as vice chairman.

Rakuten said that Aiki "brings to the role a wealth of experience in building and growing successful projects and companies, and has built his career on achieving ambitious goals and forging strong teams."

Kobo has more than 18 million readers in 190 countries and more than four million titles in 68 languages. In the U.S., it has a partnership with the American Booksellers Association.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens


BEA to Host China for Global Market Forum in 2015

BookExpo America will host China at its Global Market Forum in 2015, a development BEA officials described as "the most ambitious international partnership ever undertaken by the annual book convention." The Chinese delegation, which will be the largest international guest to ever attend BEA, is expected to include 500-plus professionals representing more than 100 publishing companies, as well as approximately 50 authors, all of whom will be involved in more than 300 professional and cultural events during the show.

Details on China's role at BEA 2015 will be announced at a formal signing ceremony in Beijing February 12, 2014, which will be attended by BEA show manager Steve Rosato; Wu Shulin, the deputy president of GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publication of China); and Daniel Kritenbrink, deputy chief of mission of the American Embassy in Beijing.

"This is the first time that we have ever announced a Global Market Forum partner so far in advance which only underscores how important this is to us and how far reaching we think this program will be," said Rosato. "We are working closely with the critical and important literary and press institutions in China and we are confident that China will deliver one of the most extensive and ambitious foreign literary and cultural programs ever mounted at BEA. We know this partnership will set a new standard of excellence for us by further establishing our Global Market Forum to a worldwide audience and facilitating relations with countries throughout the world.”

Previous guest countries of BEA's Global Market Forum have included Mexico, Russia, Spain, Italy and the Arab World. This year, the forum is focusing on "Books in Translation: Wanderlust of the Written Word."


Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad


Bookstore Closures: Capitola Book Café; Mendham Books

Capitola Book Café, Capitola, Calif., will close at the end of the month after 34 years in business, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported. In an open letter, co-owners Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld and Melinda Powers (and the staff) said that when they bought the store in 2007, "in retrospect, our timing on the brink of a severe economic downturn and rapidly changing book industry was far from optimal, but we were passionate, driven, and committed to keeping this wonderful place alive. Through hard work, the generosity of our customers, and the support of bosses who never managed to fully 'retire,' we made it for seven years."

They continued: "It became clear a couple of years ago that a large, general, destination bookstore like ours was unsustainable. We knew that in order to survive, we had to become smaller. We told our story to the community and everyone pulled together to look for solutions. Friends and customers stepped up to offer expertise, money, and support. Our amazing landlord put out the word to potential tenants who might share our space. A talented baker stepped in to take over our cafe. We shortened hours, changed staffing schedules, and slashed or eliminated owner salaries. We offered a membership plan and raised funds to dedicate the bookshelves we envisioned in a new space, while placing customer orders as often as possible to make up for their leanness in the current one. We made a dwindling budget stretch beyond the laws of physics. All of this granted us time, but despite everyone's efforts, a long-term solution never materialized. And though we have continued to explore possibilities, we no longer have the capacity to do so…

"Thank you, thank you, thank you to the city of Capitola, the Ow family, countless book industry folks, and a long list of thoughtful, inspiring authors. Thanks to the previous owners of Capitola Book Cafe, who handed down such a gem, to Mika and her staff, who took the cafe to the next level, and to the very special community members who funded our initial transition into ownership. We wish that we had ended up in a position to repay those giant leaps of faith. Thank you as well to the countless people who have worked at the store over the years, especially our current employees, who have labored tirelessly beside us during difficult, uncertain times, always giving 110%. They are the store's beating heart, and have become family to coworkers and customers alike. Finally, we return to you, our customers. Thank you for coming in, hanging out, sharing your stories, and growing with us. We have loved nothing more than to put the right book into your hands at the right moment, and are infinitely grateful we had the opportunity to do so."

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After 17 years in business, Mendham Books, Mendham, N.J., will close next month, the Observer-Tribune reported, adding that all inventory is now 25% off, and bookcases and display materials are also for sale. Tom and Tori Williams founded Mendham Books in 1997; they'd previously worked at Happy Booker in Cedar Knolls, N.J.

A commenter on the brief article noted: "I have been a long time customer of Mendham Books. Giving up a local bookstore in this day and age is a unconscionable. I do NOT shop with Amazon, Walmart or any of the others. I go OUT OF MY WAY to shop small and local. Having interesting stores in this centre surrounding the Kings supermarket makes shopping at Kings desirable.... I hope that other patrons of Mendham Books will make their unhappiness known with the shopping centre owner."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox


Obituary Note: René Ricard

René Ricard, "an influential poet, painter, art critic and actor in Andy Warhol's films" died Saturday, Rolling Stone reported. He was 67. GalleristNY noted that Ricard "is perhaps best remembered for his influential essay 'The Radiant Child,' which appeared in Artforum in 1981 and effectively launched the careers of painters Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, and for his collections of poetry."


Notes

Image of the Day: Scuppernong's Grand Opening

On Saturday, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, N.C., hosted its grand opening party, which featured draft beer and wine, food and more. Here co-owner Brian Lampkin thanks the crowd for its support of the bookstore/cafe/beer and wine bar, which opened in December.


Village Books: The 'Heart of the District'

"The mission of the business is to build community," Chuck Robinson, co-owner--with his wife, Dee--of Village Books and Paper Dreams in the Fairhaven section of Bellingham, Wash., told WhatcomTalk, which profiled the shop in a piece headlined "Whatcom County's Book-Buying Destination Is the Heart of Fairhaven."

"Obviously, we have to make a living for the people who work here and business has to be profitable to be able to stay around, but we've tried to build something that's as much a community center as a place that sells stuff," he added.

Noting the Robinsons "dreamed up Village Books while driving around the country in a motor home at the tail end of 1979," WhatcomTalk wrote that the business "continues to thrive by doing what so many independent bookstores have not: grow, innovate, and remain a central part of its surrounding community, while continuing to welcome book-buyers through their doors year after year."

What has been their key to success? "The main key is we've been willing to change," said Chuck. "A lot of people who closed their stores didn't fail at their business, they just decided that that wasn't the business they wanted to be in--they didn't want to make those changes."

Those changes include the early decision in 1982 to open Paper Dreams, the greeting card and gift store. "Gifts are a bigger percentage of our sales, if we look at our two stores together," said Dee. "Most of the bookstores that have thrived have increased the percentage of non-books that they're selling in the stores, because there's a much better margin."

"People talk about separating their work life from their home life, but we've never tried to do that," Chuck observed. "I kind of think, well, you live one life and Village Books is just a part of ours."

(Near the end of WhatcomTalk's story, check out the picture of Village Books' Shelf Awareness chalkboard, including titles featured in our Readers edition.)


Meet the Bookseller: Boswell's Jannis Mindel

In the latest entry of its ongoing "Meet Your Boswellians" series, the Boswellians blog interviewed Jannis Mindel, "our Ambassador of Story Times" at Boswell Book Co., Milwaukee, Wis. Among our favorite exchanges:
    
What do you love about working at Boswell Book Company?
The chance to hear and sometimes meet some of my favorite authors. It's still a thrill and makes me act like a ridiculous fan girl.

For which writer--living or dead--would you take a bullet?
Sherman Alexie. I've had the chance to see him speak a few times and he's hilarious. Plus his books are wonderful, especially The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

With which character can you most relate and why?
Harriet the Spy. She's smart, inquisitive and weird.


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Stories & Stitches' Book Club

Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., has announced the return of its Stories & Stitches Book Club, which will meet on February 12 and 26 and "doesn't require any reading--just come, and we'll read to you. Bring along a portable craft project to work on if you'd like, or come empty-handed and just listen." Last year's readings included short stories by Alice Munro, Sherman Alexie and Megan Mayhew Bergman.


Kristin Casemore New Ten Speed Publicity Director

Kristin Casemore has been promoted to publicity director for Ten Speed Press. She was formerly cookbook publicist and joined Ten Speed 14 years ago.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robyn Doolittle on the Daily Show

Tomorrow on NPR's Here and Now: Phillip Toledano, author of The Reluctant Father (Dewi Lewis Media, $19.95, 9781905928095).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Jonathan Blum, author of Last Word (Rescue Press, $14, 9780988587335). As the show put it: "Jonathan Blum's Last Word was published by Rescue Press, an imprint devoted to finding and saving overlooked books. The novella is an odd comedy, set in a private Jewish middle school, that examines a fraught father-son relationship and the retaliation, suffering, and aggression inherent in adolescence. Blum talks about the experience of publishing his first book, and the riddle of a moral contained in its inscrutable 13-year-old antihero, a Bartlebian computer whiz with a vengeful streak."

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Charlie Crist, co-author of The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954415). He will also appear on the Colbert Report.

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Robyn Doolittle, author of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story (Penguin, $26, 9780670068111).


TV: Anansi Boys, American Gods

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys will be developed into a television mini-series by the production company RED for the BBC and American Gods, which HBO had an option on for several years, is now being developed by Freemantle Media.

On his journal, Gaiman wrote of American Gods: "As to where you will be able to see it, who is going to be in it, who will be writing or show-running, none of these things have yet been settled. But it already looks like it's going to be a smoother run developing it than it had at HBO, so I am very pleased."

"Freemantle has the harder task, as they are going to have to open up American Gods into something bigger than the book," he observed. "RED are just going to have to make an absolutely brilliant faithful version of Anansi Boys."


Movies: Divergent, Odd Thomas Trailers

The final Divergent trailer "will make you jump with excitement," Buzzfeed noted in featuring a final peek at the movie, based on the first novel in Veronica Roth's trilogy, before its March 21 release.

Divergent stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Tony Goldwyn and Ansel Elgort. Buzzfeed observed that director Neil Burger and screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor "appear to have created an expansive real landscape for Tris to navigate, and a sleek-looking simulated one through which she can discover and challenge her weaknesses."

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A trailer has been released for Odd Thomas, the "long delayed and almost forgotten" adaptation of Dean Koontz's novel starring Anton Yelchin, Lily Collins, Willem Dafoe, Patton Oswalt and 50 Cent, Indiewire reported, adding: "We knew the film existed, and still abounded, but it looked like it was maybe angling for a place on our list of movies that were shot and then never released. But no! A reprieve is at hand, and after lawyers for various production companies completed the mandated six hundred and sixty-six rounds of ritual combat, an agreement was reached that has Odd Thomas hitting theaters, and iTunes, on February 28th."



Books & Authors

Awards: Colby Winner; CILIP Carnegie, Kate Greenaway Longlists

Logan Beirne has won the 2014 William E. Colby Award, recognizing "a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public's understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs," for Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency (Encounter Books).

Carlo D'Este, executive director of the William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium, called Blood of Tyrants "a superbly researched and elegantly written account of our first commander-in-chief's leadership of the American Revolution, and is a major contribution to our knowledge and understanding of George Washington as the father of our country."

A $5,000 honorarium is provided through a grant from the Tawani Foundation. The award and honorarium will be presented at Norwich University during the 2014 Colby Military Writers' Symposium at the Meet the Authors Dinner on April 10.

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The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has released longlists for the 2014 Carnegie Medal (author of a book for children and young people) and the Kate Greenaway Medal (illustrator of a book for children and young people). You can find the complete CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway longlists here. The shortlist will be announced March 18 and winners named in June.

This year, CILIP decided to judge and announce longlists "in order to shine a spotlight on some of the brightest authors and illustrators in the running for the esteemed awards, to reflect the high number of quality children's books being published." Traditionally, an extensive list of nominated books--titles that received one or more votes from member librarians--was made public, followed by the shortlist announcement.    

"We know from publishers, authors and illustrators just how much it means to be shortlisted for the Medals, with the awards widely being referred to as 'the one they most want to win,' " said Helen Thompson, chair of the judging panel. "With a bumper year for nominations, and with the standard of children's publishing at an all-time high, we felt that the time was ripe to introduce a longlist announcement, to give a few more authors and illustrators producing outstanding books their share of the limelight."


Book Brahmin: Gina Frangello

photo: Blair Holmes

Gina Frangello is a cofounder of indie press Other Voices Books and editor of the fiction section at The Nervous Breakdown. She is also the author of one previous novel and a collection of short stories. She lives in Chicago. Frangello's new novel is A Life in Men (Algonquin, February 4, 2014).

On your nightstand now:

The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott, which I'm teaching; the manuscript of Liar, a memoir by Rob Roberge that isn't yet published; Stay Up with Me, a collection by Tom Barbash, because friends keep raving about it, and I'm always excited when a collection makes it with a trade publisher; and Ethan Frome, because it's one of my mother's favorites and I love Edith Wharton but have never read it.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It was such a haunting, magical book about a bond between two deeply creative, unconventional young girls--I identified with it so deeply that years later, I tracked down a copy even though it was out of print, so I could read it to my daughters.

Your top five authors:

Milan Kundera, Mary Gaitskill and Margaret Atwood are three where I'll read anything they write--it's kind of an unconditional love developed over decades and I simply trust where they're taking me. Other writers, whether Jennifer Egan or Kate Braverman or Jonathan Franzen or Kathy Acker... a lot of writers have written individual books that have meant the world to me, sometimes a couple of such books, but I may not love every single thing they write--generally speaking, I think books should be judged for the text not the author. Still, because I've had the privilege of working as an editor for 15 years, I admit to having formed some author-based affinities where I've come to realize I'll love everything a certain writer does, that their work on a core level excites me. These are lesser known writers, of course, whose careers I've had the chance to witness from early on, even help shape, where now I'd read anything they wrote, no less than if they were Gaitskill or Kundera. Two of my authors at Other Voices Books, Zoe Zolbrod and Rob Roberge, exemplify that kind of relationship, but there are others, too.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading dozens of books in high school and college. I read voraciously but rarely anything that was assigned. You name it--Beowulf, Great Expectations, The Canterbury Tales. I did read Shakespeare for real, and I was obsessed with Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Otherwise the vast majority of my educational experience from 14 to 20 was mainly Cliffs Notes and a lot of b.s. on essay exams.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I know a lot of people may begin this novel thinking it seems dense and perhaps a bit "slow." But I've never read another novel I was so thrilled not to have put aside when I was tempted. The emotional, intellectual and psychological payoff of the whole is positively shattering. I wish everyone who thinks they didn't get into this novel would give it another serious look--it was deserving of its Booker, and more.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My husband bought me Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter while I was in the hospital, because he said the cover reminded him of A Life in Men's. I hadn't read Beautiful Ruins when it was new--I was too busy or didn't think I was interested in old Hollywood or something--but I ended up falling madly in love with the novel, and it stimulated and transported me enormously while I was recovering. Probably the book I myself bought strictly for the cover was Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved... I had never heard of her (she's Paul Auster's wife and has numerous books), and this ended up being one of my favorite novels of the past decade.

Book that changed your life:

The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow. Hands down. It absolutely made my head explode.

Favorite line from a book:

Milan Kundera's line from The Book of Laughter and Forgetting: "Love is a continual interrogation.... I don't know of a better definition for love."

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

Perhaps Francesca Marciano's Rules of the Wild, which was one of the most fun novels I've ever read. Or The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I reread every year, and it always presents itself to me in a new way as I've made my way--from 19 to 45--through the ages of its main characters.


Book Review

YA Review: Leaving China

Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood by James McMullan (Algonquin Young Readers, $19.95 hardcover, 128p., ages 12-up, 9781616202552, March 25, 2014)

The voice that threads together these moving snapshots of a boy's life, from age two to 11, emanates from an author and artist who has pieced together a memoir that deepens with each rereading. Jim McMullan, known for his Lincoln Center Theater posters and his collaborations with his wife, Kate McMullan (I Stink!; I'm Dirty!), places each vignette into a mosaic of a family torn apart by war.

With a father and husband in the military during World War II, young Jimmie and his mother, Rose, must make up the rules as they go along. But that was also true for the generation before Jimmie's parents: his grandparents James and Lily McMullan arrived in Cheefoo in Northern China in 1888 as missionaries. Their discovery that local families left baby girls to die in the tower of the local cemetery drove them to open an orphanage. They taught the girls a trade when they became old enough, crafting embroidery and lace to be sold in the U.S. and England.

McMullan makes visual and lyrical connections throughout the book, linking the images in surprising and wonderful ways. As his mother selects blossoms from the garden, a wall separating the garden from the veranda casts lavender shadows as young Jimmie plays with the family's Pekingese; on the next spread, his father plays popular songs at a grand piano while the boy steers his trucks into the rectangles of light that shine through the living room windows. The room's red curtains and purple shadows seem choreographed to his father's rendition of "When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls," and the song harks back to the garden scene. The pair of images connects Jimmie's father and mother, yet the boy seems strangely detached--an emotional through-line in the book.

Luminous watercolors, so lightly applied that they seem lit from within, capture the milestone moments of McMullan's childhood: fleeing China due to the Japanese occupation, entering boarding school, the airless living room in which Jimmie overhears a conversation between his mother and a lover, and a quiet epiphany when he happens upon an artist painting a canvas in the woods, a "simple process that seemed strangely magical." The landscapes transport readers to foreign lands--China, Canada, India--and convey young Jimmie's sense of the ground shifting beneath him with each transition, dictated by his father's wartime service and his mother's rudderless steering. McMullan takes readers on the journey with him, filling them in with each watercolor and the meaty text facing it. We watch an artist in the making, shaped by the strange, wonder-filled and sometimes terrifying experiences he's felt and seen. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: James McMullan's lushly illustrated memoir takes readers through his peripatetic childhood and the war that tore apart his family.


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