Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Start your entrepreneurial journey with affordable packages, starting from $1,566

Candlewick Press: Mi Casa Is My Home by Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Quotation of the Day

Oren Teicher: Social Media Spurs Indie Traffic, Sales

"The underlying key to an independent bookstore's success is their knowledge about books and their ability to put the right books in the customer's hands. It's at the heart of what we do every day, and that authenticity builds credibility.

"Social media gives you a way to communicate that knowledge far more widely than you ever could do in the past. And we absolutely see the spread of that passion resulting in traffic in stores, and resulting in sales."

--ABA CEO Oren Teicher, quoted in a Salon piece headlined "The independent bookstore lives! Why Amazon's conquest will never be complete"

Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


World Book Night U.S.: Interactive Map of Participants

World Book Night U.S. has released an interactive map that lists givers by ZIP code as well as official stores and libraries.
WBN U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz commented: "This is a major new tool for local media, a boost for the participating stores and libraries, and just great fun for the givers. When we posted static giver maps without numbers the last two years, our Facebook traffic exploded with excitement, as givers got to see for the first time that they were part of something big. Now, with the numbers per ZIP code, they can feel even prouder--AND many, many more media outlets will have the answer to their first question: How many givers in our area? And we're listing all 2,330 WBN host stores and libraries. It's a record total for us, and it supplies the media with the easy answer to their next question: Who's supporting WBN in our market? Along with the hundreds of store and library receptions, where media can interview givers, we feel these two new tools, along with very cool news for the givers still to come, will greatly magnify the sense of local pride in WBN and boost our social media traffic to new highs."

Paraclete Press: Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck

Break-In at Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop

A burglary Saturday at Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., resulted in minor physical but significant emotional damage. "Other than the broken glass and my desk trashed, the broken product is less than $50," said owner Valerie Koehler. "The bitter part is the door. The glass had a beautiful M etched on it. Musabelle Naut opened Musabelle's Books in 1973 and I purchased it from her in 1996. It was one of the things that reminded me of her (she passed away in 2001) every day when I walked in the door."

A sign on the sheet of plywood that was temporarily patching the broken door offered a Poetry Month-appropriate invitation to customers:

It's Really Not
As Bad As It Looks...

Come On In
And Buy Some Books.

Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Rizzoli Bookstore Exploring 'Several Very Promising Spaces'

As Rizzoli Bookstore enters the final week at its landmark location in New York City, the owners continue to scout for a new site in Manhattan and report that "several very promising spaces" have been found. A spokesperson for the company said the "outpouring of support from the press, our neighbors and our publishing and bookselling colleagues has been heartwarming, and we are looking forward to remaining a vital part of the city's cultural fabric for many years to come."

At a rally in front of the bookstore Friday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, "The landmarks process requires reform--we must avoid more Rizzoli-like ambushes on our history. We are here today to ask that the [Landmarks Preservation Commission] immediately study those remaining buildings on West 57th Street to identify and landmark those that represent the best of their eras, and I will introduce legislation which will require the LPC to follow transparent and consistent time frames in responding to future designation requests."

Although the LPC declined an earlier request to protect the building's exterior, it is now considering an application to save the historic interior, DNAInfo reported. A spokeswoman for the commission said "a request for evaluation has been submitted for the property as an interior landmark, and it is currently under review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission's Research Department. It is important to note that if a building or interior is landmarked, the Commission does not regulate use. Therefore, a business--like a bookstore--can relocate at any time based on their specific lease agreements."

PRH U.K. Launches 'My Independent Bookshop'

Penguin Random House U.K. has launched My Independent Bookshop, a reader recommendation platform designed to allow readers to set up a "virtual bookshop," share their favorite reads and discover, recommend and review books online. The site went up yesterday in closed beta to begin a month-long period in which select authors and book fans will be invited to join the community and start creating shops. Anyone interested in the project can register now to be among the first to set up their virtual bookshop when My Independent Bookshop goes live to the general public.

Readers who do not want to set up a shop can still wander the virtual high streets and browse shop windows. They can buy books online through, the e-commerce arm of Gardners wholesalers that is connected with hundreds of independent bookshops across the U.K. As part of the registration process, My Independent Bookshop users can also choose their favorite real-world indie to connect with and Hive will pass a commission from any purchase made through the website to that shop.

"By giving people the magical experience of curating their own bookshop and sharing this with their communities we are putting the discovery of great books and authors--no matter who they are published by--directly into the hands of book lovers," said Hannah Telfer, group director, consumer & digital development at Penguin Random House U.K.

Author Terry Pratchett noted that independent bookshops "supported this jobbing genre author long before the geeks were let out of their wardrobes... being able to support these talented retail wizards through My Independent Bookshop is a very, very good thing."

Julie Howkins, e-commerce manager at Gardners, added: "This collaboration allows hive to be part of a fantastic initiative which will not only encourage people to share their passion for reading and books with like-minded people, but will also help support hundreds of independent bookshops across the U.K."

Sheila O'Reilly of Dulwich Books in London told the Bookseller she supports the venture and has created a virtual bookshop profile that reflects "the magic" of her real-world shop: "My Independent Bookshop is going to give us the ability to display and review titles, reach a wider audience and sell books at the same time."

Obituary Note: Barbara Gibbons

Barbara Gibbons, author of "The Slim Gourmet" syndicated column and 16 books, died March 26, the New York Times reported. She was 79. Her first book, The Slim Gourmet Cookbook, was honored by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 1976 with its cookbook-of-the-year Tastemaker Award, which she won again in 1978 for The International Slim Gourmet Cookbook.


Image of the Day: Happy 40th, DK!

Happy 40th, DK! Celebrating the company's 40th anniversary, DK Publishing employees dressed in the company colors, red and black, and enjoyed cake on Monday afternoon. Throughout the year, DK is holding a variety of anniversary events, including a top 40 sweepstakes and a sweepstakes with a grand prize of trip to London for a lucky bookseller and friend.

Extra! Extra!: Good News About Connecticut Indies

News of independent bookstore expansions and openings may not generate front page headlines in the general media the way articles bemoaning the perceived indie demise do, but an editorial in Connecticut's The Day sought to alter the balance slightly by exploring the recent expansion of Bank Square Books in Mystic and the opening of Monte Cristo Bookshop in New London.

"I think there's really a strong market here--a lot of book clubs, a well-educated community," said Bank Square co-owner Annie Philbrick. "And I think it's the customer service we provide that online can't do. People spend a lot of time online, and I think they just want to go into a bookstore."

The Day noted there is "optimism about the future of books and bookstores hereabouts. Reading is, indeed, alive and well on Connecticut's eastern shore. Not long ago, Monte Cristo Books taped up signs enumerating a few tongue-in-cheek advantages offered by books: No batteries needed. Airplane friendly. Cheap to replace. Never need to call tech support. Those advantages pair nicely with the book-in-hand benefits. So pick a subject, any subject. Buy a book. And read all about it."

Pennie Picks A Tale for the Time Being

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Penguin, $16, 9780143124870) as her pick of the month for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"This novel has a lovely way of showing how none of us operate in a bubble. This month's book buyer's pick, Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being, is Ozeki's response to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest heard many reports about debris from the tragedy washing up on our shores, thousands of miles away.

"In the novel, Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox that contains the diary of a Japanese teenager, Nao. A lonely and bullied teenager, Nao decides the only true escape is suicide. But before she acts on that impulse, she wants to write down the story of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. As Ruth is pulled into Nao's words, readers are moved effortlessly between the two timelines.

"The plot is inventive and the story is, quite simply, beautiful."

Personnel Changes at Penguin Young Readers Group

At Penguin Young Readers Group:

Effective April 14, Lauren Donovan will join the department as publicity manager. She was most recently senior publicist at Random House Children's Books.

Also effective April 14, Jennifer Dee will join the department as publicity assistant. Jennifer is currently the Middle Grade and Romance editor at Riffle and earlier worked in the children's department at Barnes & Noble.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barbara Ehrenreich on Fresh Air

Today on Morning Joe and on Fresh Air: Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything (Twelve, $26, 9781455501762).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Eve Schaub, author of Year of No Sugar: A Memoir (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402295874).


Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities (Scribner, $35, 9781451681796). He will also appear on Bloomberg's Market Makers and Street Smart.

Also on Morning Joe: Marlo Thomas, author of It Ain't Over... Till It's Over: Reinventing Your Life--and Realizing Your Dreams--Anytime, at Any Age (Atria, $27, 9781476739915).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Martin Goldsmith, author of Alex's Wake: A Voyage of Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance (Da Capo Press, $25.99, 9780306823220). He will also be on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews tomorrow.


Tomorrow on Ellen: Rob Lowe, author of Love Life (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451685718).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Harvey J. Kaye, author of The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451691436).


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Michael Mosley, co-author of FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training (Atria, $24, 9781476759975).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Frank Langella, author of Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062094490).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: For Graduates (Knopf, $24.95, 9780385353670).

TV: The Leftovers Teaser Trailer

The first teaser trailer has been released for HBO's The Leftovers, based on the novel by Tom Perotta. While Indiewire noted that "your thoughts about Lost, Prometheus and Cowboys & Aliens (among others) may influence how you feel about writer/producer Damon Lindelof," it nevertheless dubbed the upcoming series "one of our 20 most anticipated TV shows of 2014." The cast includes Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Michael Gaston and Ann Dowd. The Leftovers makes its debut on June 15.

Books & Authors

Richard Fulco Riffs on Music, Playwriting and His New Novel

"I love the collaborative arts," said Richard Fulco, the founder and editor of online Riffraf magazine and the author of the novel There Is No End to This Slope. Fulco has an MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, and has taught writing at the high school and college levels. "But I realized that I wasn't much of a collaborator. I much prefer to sit by myself and write by myself."

In There Is No End to This Slope, Fulco's first novel, a textbook salesman and aspiring writer named John Lenza navigates a series of poor decisions between 2002 and 2005 as he struggles with ennui and lingering guilt from the death of a childhood friend. Fulco worked on There Is No End to This Slope, which is set in Brooklyn, N.Y., on and off for close to seven years, gradually turning the story from a one-act play to a full-length play and then into a 257-page novel. He finished up the novel while taking a break from teaching to stay at home and help raise his twins, Chloe and Connor.

"This book is a tragic comedy," explained Fulco. "It's really about a man who wants more out of life, but doesn't quite know what that is. Which I think is kind of the dilemma of the modern man and woman in the 21st century. This guy makes one bad decision after another, and I want people to laugh at the humor and the tragedy of it."

Music has as large a role in Fulco's own life as it does in that of his fictional protagonist's; John is very passionate about music, and as a collector of vinyl is something of a relic of the past, struggling to keep up. In earlier drafts of the novel, there were quite a few song lyrics, Fulco added, laughing, but "then I realized I had to pay for the lyrics." And Fulco's own love of music led him to creating the music blog Riffraf four years ago.

"I was really missing music," Fulco said. "I felt too old to go out and play gigs anymore, which wasn't really the case but I felt old, and my wife said, 'Why don't you write about music?' I didn't want it to be a blog about my favorite bands. I don't think people really give a s**t about that sort of thing. I'm more interested in history, in songs that were lost or haven't been heard enough, in the craft of songwriting. It really got started with a feature on great rock photographers."

At the beginning, Fulco was posting on Riffraf around once per week. That turned into twice per week, then three times per week, and finally five days per week. After about two years, Riffraf went from a hobby to something "serious" when Fulco began hiring writers. And through Riffraf, Fulco came into contact with Wampus Multimedia, a record label and book publisher and publisher of There Is No End to This Slope.

"Mark Doyon, the creative director at Wampus, would post things about the Kinks on Facebook, he would read the blog and leave comments, and we realized that we liked a lot of the same music," Fulco said. "When I finished the book, I had Mark in the back of my mind. I gave him the book, and I thought he'd give me feedback, maybe send me to the right publisher because Wampus didn't publish fiction."

But, as it turned out, Doyon was thinking of branching out into literary fiction, and as Fulco put it, he "completely got the novel." The book was officially on shelves on March 18, with a launch party held at the KGB Bar in New York City, on March 29. There, Fuclo read excerpts from There Is No End to This Slope and discussed with fellow novelist Peter Melman how he writes, the story's transition from a one-act play to a novel, and the excitement and anxiety of finally having the book out in the world. Joked Fulco, about the response to the novel: "It could be Starship's 'We Built This City.' "

From his experience as a musician and as a playwright, Fulco knows how difficult it is to find like-minded, creative people. "Mark told me to never underestimate the people who get you. He's a great champion of mine; I've never had a collaborator like that in my corner," Fulco said. "I never had that in the theater. It's so hard to find that chemistry--you have to hold onto that for dear life." --Alex Mutter

Awards: Bailey's Women's; Waterstones Children's; Walter Scott

A six-book shortlist has been announced for the £30,000 (about US$49,835) Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women from throughout the world." The winner will be honored June 4 in London. This year's finalists are:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee     
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride     
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt


Katherine Rundell won the overall £3,000 ($4,983) Waterstones Children's Book Prize for Rooftoppers, as well as the £2,000 ($3,322) 5-12 fiction category. Melissa Cox, children's new titles buyer for Waterstones, called the book "a hugely deserving winner... it already feels like a classic." Other category winners were Nicola O'Bryne's Open Very Carefully (best picture book) and Holly Smale's Geek Girl (best book for teens), with each author receiving £2,000 ($3,322).


Finalists for the £25,000 ($41,525) Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction are:

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Harvest by Jim Crace
Fair Helen by Andrew Greig
An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

The winner will be announced June 13.

Blooming Great Reads: SIBA's Spring Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its spring Okra Picks, a dozen fresh titles chosen by Southern indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling:

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow Books)
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes (Crown)
The Whiskey Baron by Jon Sealy (Hub City Press)
Miss Julia's Marvelous Makeover by Ann B. Ross (Viking)
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (Dutton)
Natchez Burning by Greg Iles (Morrow)
The Same Sweet Girl's' Guide to Life: Advice from a Failed Southern Belle by Cassandra King (Maiden Lane Press)
A Bird on Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba (Little Pickle Press)
Between Wrecks by George Singleton (Dzanc Books)
A Southern Girl by John Warley (Story River Books)
A Long Time Gone by Karen White (New American Library)
The Inevitable City: The Resurgence of New Orleans and the Future of Urban America by Scott Cowen (Palgrave MacMillan)
Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth (Bloomsbury)

Book Review

Review: Updike

Updike by Adam Begley (Harper, $29.99 hardcover, 9780061896453, April 8, 2014)

Adam Begley's literary biography of John Updike comes about as close to perfection as a work of its genre can. Confessing his hope that the 2013 publication of Updike's collected stories by the Library of America "will mark the beginning of a surge in his posthumous reputation," Begley is comprehensive and undeniably sympathetic without succumbing to hagiography.

Begley skillfully interweaves the narrative of Updike's life with close readings of many of his works. This seems especially fitting when assessing a writer whose fiction drew so heavily on his own experience. Whether it's the short stories set in Olinger (the fictional incarnation of Shillington, Updike's Pennsylvania birthplace) or a novel like Couples (rooted in the sexually liberated lifestyle of Ipswich, Mass., of the '60s and '70s, which Updike eagerly tasted), Begley lauds the "particular brilliance with which he made his autobiographical material come alive on the page." He also devotes ample attention to Updike's close relationships--the ones with his writer-mother, Linda, and his wives, Mary and Martha, the most noteworthy--but forgoes the kind of psychological speculation that sometimes mars literary biographies.

Begley is generous in his appreciation of the books he considers Updike's best, highlighted by the Rabbit Angstrom tetralogy, a chronicle of four decades of American life. But even when lavishing praise on an early novel like Of the Farm ("a small, quiet triumph"), he doesn't hesitate to give fair billing to a critic like John Aldridge, who dispatched the same work in a savage review, concluding that Updike had "nothing to say." Begley's approach seems informed by Updike's own; when pursuing a side career as what Begley calls the "best novelist-critic of his day," Updike aimed to "extend the benefit of the doubt to the book in question."

Though he was incredibly prolific and produced more than 60 books in half a century, Updike was no recluse. Like his fictional alter ego Henry Bech, he was an avid traveler, happy to appear just about anywhere to give a lecture or accept an award. When considering that public man, Begley offers candid insights into his subject's literary friendships (Joyce Carol Oates and Ian McEwan) and his rivalries (John Cheever and Philip Roth).

As determined as Adam Begley is to deliver John Updike to what he considers his rightful place in the top rank of 20th-century American fiction, the man whose life and career are considered in these pages is fully human. This is a work Updike would have read with a wry smile, and one he likely would have admired. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Adam Begley offers a comprehensive and sympathetic literary biography of one of the late 20th century's best American writers.


Other Multiple NBA Winners: William Faulkner and Philip Roth

Yesterday's obituary note about Peter Matthiessen mistakenly said he was the only author who has won more than one National Book Award. William Faulkner and Philip Roth have also won more than one National Book Award.

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