Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 21, 2014

Abrams Press: In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece by Salamishah Tillet

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

Tor Books: Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Penguin Random House Congratulates Jacqueline Woodson, Winner of a 2020 MacArthur Genius Grant

Amulet Books: Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma

Minotaur Books: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, translated by Alexandra Fleming


World Book Night Week Kicks Off

Following hundreds of bookstore and library giver receptions and two author events last week (Katherine Paterson and Terry McMillan), WBN Week goes into high gear, starting with Cheryl Strayed at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., tonight, along with a line-up of other authors. Also, 10 WBN volunteers packed books into boxes for troops at Operation Gratitude in Van Nuys, Calif., on Saturday.
The timeline for the various #WBN14 events:

Today and tomorrow, April 21 and 22: WBN underwriting messages will air on NPR's Fresh Air
Tuesday, April 22, 7 a.m.: The free WBN e-book powered by Livrada goes live.
Tuesday, April 22, various times: Events featuring 27 WBN authors, including first-year alum Michael Connelly as a last-minute treat.
Tuesday, April 22, 6:30 p.m.: New York Public Library event featuring authors and special guests; it will be livestreamed.
Wednesday, April 23: World Book Night! National print, broadcast and online media. Major market drive-time WBN radio contests will run. 6,000 copies of Dover's WBN edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets to be handed out at Broadway theaters in New York City. 15 New York Public Library branch poetry events. Local Shakespeare company/school events from Long Beach, Calif., to Hartford, Conn.
Thursday, April 24: WBN giver, bookseller and librarian e-book essay contest opens.
Friday, April 25: Giver, media surveys.
Monday, April 28: Audio Publishers Association will offer three audio digital downloads for givers
Saturday, May 31: Essay contest deadline
WBN U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz commented: "With a tip of the cap to one of our authors, it feels like we have put in the requisite 10,000 hours, as have our amazing Ingram volunteers and booksellers and librarians. It feels like we are at a tipping point, with our social media at all-time highs pre-WBN, and local media coverage for two early stories last week--the giver map and essay contest--garnering 40 million media impressions alone. With what's still to come, I expect to double our 137 million total national and local media impressions of 2013. And thanks to TSI, who will deliver 6,000 books at four Broadway theaters Wednesday morning, the WBN team, along with YPG and Broadway League volunteers, will be busy Wednesday, and at the Slice magazine party that evening, and sleeping late Thursday!"

University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene

Left Bank Books Closing Downtown St. Louis Store

Left Bank Books is closing its downtown St. Louis, Mo., store by May 31. Left Bank Books will continue to operate its main store in St. Louis's Central West End as well as its site online, extensive author events, school services, corporate sales program and literacy work through the Left Bank Books Foundation.

"We were in negotiations for several months with our landlord, but ultimately could not reach an agreement," said Kris Kleindienst, who owns Left Bank Books with her husband, Jarek Steele.

Kleindienst told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that sales at the downtown store, opened in 2008, grew "consistently" but not with the "kinds of numbers for the agreement that needed to be in place."

In an announcement about the closing, Kleindienst added, "We depart our downtown location with respect for our landlord and his vision. He is a great advocate for a livable downtown, and while we will no longer be in this space, we wish him the best."

Kleindienst said that there are no plans to make significant reductions in staff levels at Left Bank, which employs 21 people, both full and part-time, including the owners. "Our walk-in traffic, online store, growing author event programming, institutional, and school services require a dedicated staff in the backroom as well as on the floor," Kleindienst said.

She also said that Left Bank Books will continue to evolve "to meet the changing needs of the community it serves." The store is considering expanding its main store, adding a coffee or a wine and beer bar to that store and opening a second store either downtown or in another St. Louis neighborhood.

Left Bank Books was founded in 1969 and collectively run in the Delmar Loop neighborhood by a group of Washington University graduate students. Kleindienst was hired as a bookseller in 1974. In 1977, the store moved to its current location in the Central West End, and Kleindienst, with Barry Leibman, took ownership. Steele, who has worked at Left Bank Books since 2002, assumed co-ownership in 2006. Leibman retired in 2010.

Experiment: Speaking of Race: Constructive Conversations about an Explosive Topic by Patricia Roberts-Miller

Waterstones Opens First New Store in Six Years

On Saturday, Waterstones opened its first new store in six years, in Ringwood, Hampshire, a store "designed for the 21st century" and part of "the bookshop's fight-back in the digital age," as the Independent put it.

Managing director James Daunt said, "We've got to a point where we can start moving forward and indeed need to. This is the first with others to follow…The model of old, rather unattractive, stores crammed with books, spaces that were intimidating rather than appealing, is in the past." The new store, he continued, is designed--with cafes and children's playing areas--to make sure people want to meet, socialize and stay in the shops.

"The book shop should be a social place," Daunt added. "We need to create much more interesting, vibrant and appealing environments."

This week, Waterstones will open a renovated store in York, and will soon open in Lewes, East Sussex, another area, like Ringwood, that doesn't have a bookstore. Waterstones has some 275 stores, most of which are in the U.K.

Noting the difficult bookselling market in the U.K., with severe competition from Amazon, grocery chains and others, Daunt said he's taken heart from a predicted leveling off of e-book sales, and said that there is still a place for a physical bookstore. "You've really got to be good," he said. "But if you are good and imbedded in a community, provide a good service and people want to come you will do very well."

KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.19.20

Other Tiger Hoping for Different Ending

Other Tiger, Westerly, R.I., which put itself up for sale at the beginning of the year, is closing by the end of the month, but owner Robert Utter is still hoping a buyer will come forward, the Providence Journal wrote.

"Every single day in the last two weeks someone has said, 'I'm going to investigate buying the store,' " he told the paper. There have been as many as 20 serious efforts, but "nothing has come through," the Journal said.

In the meantime, "We're in turbo turn-back-the-books-to-the-publishers mode," Utter said, and he's planning an all-day closing party on April 30, with a range of door prizes.

"We've had so much fun these past 10 years," he said. "It has just flown by." Utter has chronic Lyme disease, the paper said, with neurological symptoms, and his doctor told him to stop working.

GLOW: Flatiron Press: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Obituary Notes: Alistair MacLeod; F. Reid Buckley

Canadian author Alistair MacLeod, who was best known as a short story writer but won the lucrative International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his debut novel, No Great Mischief, died yesterday, the Toronto Star reported. He was 77. His other books included the story collections The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories and Island: The Complete Stories.

Doug Gibson, MacLeod's former publisher at McClelland & Stewart, said, "Alistair was that rare combination of a great writer and a great man. Whenever Alistair appeared in public, at readings or other literary events, people recognize that they were in the presence of a greatness that was very humble. And they realize that simply to be in his presence made their life a little better."


Novelist and columnist F. Reid Buckley, who was, "in family lore, the most literary of Aloise and William F. Buckley Sr.'s 10 children, including former Senator James L. Buckley and the conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr.," died last Monday, the New York Times reported. He was 83.

Berkley Books: The Last Night in London by Karen White

Ambassador Kate DiCamillo's Call to Action

Kate DiCamillo, in her capacity as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, is demanding that authors and artists flock to their favorite local independent bookstore on Saturday, May 17, during Children's Book Week to read a book aloud. As part of her platform, "Stories Connect Us," she's asked authors and artists in an open letter on the ABA site to read a book that they did not write or illustrate. DiCamillo talked with Shelf Awareness about why she's making these demands.

We understand that, having stolen Sherman Alexie's idea...

(Ambassador interrupting) Ambassadors don't steal.

Let us rephrase that--we understand that, with Sherman Alexie's permission, you are now recruiting authors and illustrators...

(Ambassador interrupting) I'm demanding it--because I'm an ambassador.

You are demanding that authors and illustrators flock to their local indies and celebrate children's book week--specifically on Saturday, May 17, the inaugural "Indies First Storytime Day"--by reading stories aloud. Is that correct?

Yes, but not a story that they've written. That way, you don't have to worry about criticism. It's not supposed to be about you. It's supposed to be about story.

What book are you planning to read on May 17?

I'm going to read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. If anyone criticizes it, I don't have to worry. And I'll report any criticism to Mo Willems.

Is this event designed to enhance your three-month performance appraisal as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature?

Yes. I have always been the type of person that really, really needs the gold star. You know how the three-month review is, I probably won't get it until the end of April or even late May. By then, I'll have forced everyone to read at the indies.

We've moved from "demand" to "force."

I'm trying to convey how passionately I feel about this.

Jon Scieszka is still waiting for his ambassadorial helicopter. We hope that you are not under similar delusions.

Is he standing on a roof somewhere? I'll go have a word with him. He's waiting for a lot that's never going to happen. He keeps talking about the Fortress of Solitude. I have no idea what he means by that.

In your open letter inviting authors to flock to indies on May 17, you mention The Watsons Go to Birmingham as a prime read-aloud example. Why that book?

I'll start with the truth, which is that the first chapter is so fun to read aloud because it's very funny. That book is one of the first books I read as an adult that was written for children, that was published since I was a kid, and that made me think, "I want to try to do something like this." I took that book home from The Bookman [the now-shuttered wholesaler based in Minneapolis]. Employees were allowed to check books out, and I typed that book up because it meant so much to me. It's a seminal book for me. But it's also a great read-aloud.

Did you welcome those occasions when authors came into The Bookman?

Yes, except I was always intimidated by them. I would hide. Someone would pull me forward and say, "This is Kate; she writes, too," and pat me on the head.

I remember Louise Erdrich looking at me like she saw me, and asking, "How long have you been writing?" I said, "Five years." She said, "Things started happening for me in the sixth year. Keep writing." She took it seriously. And she was right; it was in about the sixth year that things started happening for me.

You also mention a few other picture books as prime read-alouds--I Stink! and The Stinky Cheese Man. Why those?

I Stink! is so much fun to read. I've read that 7,000 times to my young friend Max. There's so much that appeals to a kid. Dirty diapers. Stinky Cheese Man--I don't know why that book has gotten so much attention.

Why is it important to read aloud books that have particular significance to the reader?

I'm going to go in there on May 17, and I'm going to read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I'll put the whole of myself in it. That's another book I read to Max to the point that he could recite it along with me. You can make a dialogue with the child that's very natural. I remember going to Lisa Von Drasek's [then children's librarian at Bank Street College] apartment, and her being so excited about that book, and me reaching for it and her slapping my wrist. "Sit down," she said. I sat down, and Lisa stood up and read it to me. I was 40-something, and I thought, "That's what you can do. Look at that." I was on the edge of my seat. I was engaged. I thought it was so funny. And I was a grown-up.

You touched on this a bit already, but why do you feel it's important to tell authors and illustrators not to read from their own books?

It frees us up as writers, because then we get to rejoice in somebody else's work, and that's a lot of what the day's about.

Also, we don't have to worry about whether or not it's any good, which is what I think when I read from my work: "Is it any good?" And then I think, "It's too late to be asking that question."

Incidentally, we could not find Rimson, the Runaway Octopus, a Tale of Tentacles and Glory, the book you cited as a typical bookseller's dilemma. Does such a book really exist?

No, I made it up.

When you Google that title, what comes up is your open letter to authors and artists on the ABA site.

Score one for the Ambassador. It sure would be fun to have a contest for everyone to write a book with that as a title. I think Scieszka could write a good story to go with that.

In which bookstore will you be reading on May 17?

A bookstore in Hudson, Wis., called Chapter 2.

As part of your performance appraisal, we'll call them to make sure you showed up on time.

I've made a career of showing up on time. I used to tell my mother if I don't show up on time, either you've written the time down wrong, or I'm dead. --Jennifer M. Brown

Broadleaf Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books!


Image of the Day: Deadly Delicious

Southern California booksellers--from Diesel: A Bookstore, Vroman's, Book Soup, Mysterious Galaxy, Flintridge Books, Barnes & Noble, Book Carnival and more--gathered for lunch at Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, Calif., to welcome U.K. author Peter James (Not Dead YetDead Man's Time) to town for a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Indies: Physical Books Thriving in Digital World

While reporting Friday that chairman Leonard Riggio had unloaded 3.7 million shares of his company stock and "crunch time is approaching at Barnes & Noble," the Wall Street Journal noted that "independent booksellers say it looks like physical books are going to be around a lot longer than once expected."

"If it hadn't been for our brutal winter, our sales would have been in up in 2013," said Bill Cusumano, head buyer Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich. "It looks like e-book sales have flattened. Also, people who own tablets, where the device business is going, don't read as much because they do gaming and other things."

Chris Morrow, co-owner of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., told the Journal: "People see that there are two different experiences. They spend enough time on their devices at work. Many associate reading with relaxing and getting away from the world of devices. Physical books help fulfill that.... Yes, we lose some sales to showrooming, where people find a book in the bookstore and then buy it online, whether in digital or paper, but that's part of the landscape in retail in general these days."

'24 Awesome Librarian Tattoos'

Mental Floss featured "24 awesome librarian tattoos," offering "special thanks to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists, which features all sorts of fantastic ink from librarians, archivists, curators and similarly employed individuals. While we try to focus on librarian tattoos based on the careers of a librarian, the site provides a great look into all types of tattoos people in the industry choose to get."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Elizabeth Warren on the Daily Show

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Andrés Neuman, author of Talking to Ourselves (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $23, 9780374167530).


Today on Chelsea Lately: Bob Saget, author of Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian (It Books, $26.99, 9780062274786).


Today on the Wendy Williams Show: Russell Simmons, co-author of Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple (Gotham, $20, 9781592408658).


Today on the View: Debbie Matenopoulos, author of It's All Greek to Me: Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with My Family's Century-Old Recipes (BenBella Books, $29.95, 9781939529930).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Douglas Whynott, author of The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup--and One Family's Quest for the Sweetest Harvest (Da Capo Press, $24.99, 9780306822049).


Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Robin Roberts, co-author of Everybody's Got Something (Grand Central, $27, 9781455578450). She will also appear on the Late Show with David Letterman.


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Harry Fisch, co-author of The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402293375).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Elizabeth Warren, author of A Fighting Chance (Metropolitan Books, $28, 9781627790529).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: John Calipari, co-author of Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out (Penguin, $28.95, 9781594205736).

Movies: Cold in July; Macbeth

An official trailer has been released for Cold in July, with a script by Nick Damici based on Joe R. Lansdale's book, reported. The movie, which stars Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Sam Shepard and Don Johnson, hits theaters and video on demand May 23.


The first images are out for director Justin Kurzel's film adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Marion Cotillard, the Daily Mail reported. StudioCanal will release Macbeth in the U.K. early in 2015.

TV: New Trailer for The Normal Heart

The new trailer for The Normal Heart, based on Larry Kramer's play, "is here to remind you why you might want to tune into HBO in May to watch something other than Game of Thrones," Indiewire reported. Directed by Ryan Murphy, the project stars Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch and Jim Parsons. The Normal Heart debuts May 25.

Books & Authors

Colm Toibin to Become Chairman of PEN World Voices Festival

In 2015, Colm Toibin will become chairman of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, replacing Salman Rushdie, who has held the position since founding the festival in 2005, the New York Times reported. This year's festival will be held April 28 to May 4 in New York City.

"It is unique because it has a mission and the mission is a serious one," Toibin said. "The mission suggests that authors do not merely have the right to publish freely but they also have the right to be heard widely. Readers too have the right to hear from as wide a range of writers as possible."

Book Review

Review: The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 hardcover, 9780374266325, May 6, 2014)

Michael Cunningham--who's mastered slice-of-life literary fiction, as in his breakout success, The Hours--once again elevates the commonplace and makes it important. This quiet, thoughtful novel is a cross section of the lives of two brothers in the early 21st century, both caught between possible miracles and dying dreams.

Tyler and Barrett share a bond even deeper than that of most siblings: before she died when they were young, their mother separately cautioned each of them to watch over the other. "That may have been when they took their vows: We are no longer siblings, we are mates, starship survivors, a two-man crew wandering the crags and crevices of a planet that may not be inhabited by anyone but us." Now grown, both brothers struggle with their own demons. Barrett left a promising PhD. program to pursue dreams of a less-conventional future that never materialized. Instead, he lives with Tyler, a musician struggling to find inner genius and a fan base, and Beth, Tyler's beloved, terminally ill fiancée. When he spies what he believes to be a sentient green light over the park, Barrett uncharacteristically keeps it secret from Tyler, who in turn has a secret or two of his own.

Cunningham adds the vaguest echoes of the titular frosty fairy tale as grace notes to this story of the mundane and the miraculous. His acutely accurate metaphors cast an everyday action or movement into a new light as he gently untangles the overlapping relationships among brothers, lovers and friends. While questions about the existence and impact of miracles occasionally surface, Cunningham's overall theme is love's transience: whether due to death, time or carelessness, love slips away no matter how hard humans try to hold onto it. Worked into the mix are the malaise of youthful potential fading into an aimless middle age and the panicked prophesying of political apocalypse surrounding the past two presidential elections. Over everything hangs the pall of grief, particularly for Beth, whose terminal prognosis and slow wasting away puts her loved ones into a state of mourning even while she still walks with the living.

Whether taking readers along on an ecstatic drug trip or picking over the fine line between creative genius and maudlin tripe, Cunningham's masterful eye for human observation leads the way. Once again, he shows his talent for picking away the crust of familiarity and revealing the diamond brilliance at the heart of every moment of our lives. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Michael Cunningham, best known for The Hours, thoughtfully illustrates heartbreak in the lives of two brothers in the early 21st century.

KidsBuzz: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy
KidsBuzz: Vulcan Ink: Merlin Raj And The Santa Algorithm: A Computer Science Dog's Tale for Kids (Merlin Raj #1) by D.G. Priya
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