Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Simon Pulse: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Workman Publishing: We Are Called to Be a Movement by William Barber

IDW Publishing: The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel by Shannon Wheeler and Steve Duin

Getty Publications: Finding Dora Maar: An Artist, an Address Book, a Life by Brigitte Benkemoun, translated by Jody Gladding

Random House: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

Mira Books: The Lost Orphan by Stacey Halls

Custom House: Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Poisoned Pen Press: Before She Was Helen by Caroline Cooney

Quotation of the Day

What a 'Smart and Imaginative Bookseller Can Do'

"I was a big indie bookstore customer even when I worked at Amazon. There is something irreplaceable about walking into a bookstore and browsing through well-chosen shelves and talking to a bookseller.... Amazon's algorithms are pretty impressive and useful, but they still can't do everything a smart and imaginative bookseller can do, especially one that knows you and the books you like to read."

--Tom Nissley, owner of Phinney Books, quoted in a Seattle Times article. Nissley spent a decade working for Amazon, took some time off to be a Jeopardy! champ and recently purchased the former Santoro's Books in the Phinney Ridge/Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle.

Berkley Books: Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen


Bookseller Jim Munro Appointed to Order of Canada

Jim Munro, owner of Munro's Books in Victoria, B.C., was named a member of the Order of Canada "for his vital championship of countless Canadian writers and for his sustained community engagement as an independent bookseller." Last September, Munro's Books celebrated its 50th anniversary and "has been in a classic old bank building for more than three decades," the Times Colonist noted. Munro's former wife, Alice Munro, won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year.

Third Man Books: Nine Bar Blues by Sheree Renée Thomas

Forbes' Celebrity 100 List: The Rise of YA Authors

"The rising popularity of an increasingly visible genre means there have never been as many Young Adult (YA) authors on the Celebrity 100 roster," Forbes reported, noting that newcomers John Green (#79) and Veronica Roth (#95) joined J.K. Rowling (#84), the "queen of YA," James Patterson (#37), Dan Brown (#78) and Stephen King (#82) on this year's rankings of the world's most powerful celebrities.

Lori Benton, v-p group publisher at Scholastic, said, "The category has reached adult audiences and really become okay to read. Harry Potter was the very first one to reach that audience--it was quickly embraced by children, and just as quickly by adults.... It became fine to read the Harry Potter series, and that really opened the way for all the rest that followed, from Twilight to The Hunger Games and now Divergent and Fault in Our Stars."

Catapult: Magnetized: Conversations with a Serial Killer by Carlos Busqued, translated by Samuel Rutter

Obituary Note: Jim Brosnan

Jim Brosnan, a relief pitcher who had a modest baseball career "but gained greater fame and consequence in the game by writing about it," died on June 29, the New York Times reported. He was 84. His 1960 book, The Long Season, "was a new kind of sportswriting," the Times noted.

Rick Riordan Presents: Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe (a Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 2) by Carlos Hernandez

Massachusetts Bookstore Field Trip, Part 1

Last month, Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter went on a whirlwind bookstore tour in Massachusetts with New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer. The two visited 10 stores in 48 hours, setting a frantic pace, but it was wonderful to see so many booksellers, to catch up with some stores and see "new" ones and to talk shop with booksellers.

An unintended theme of the trip had to do with ownership succession. A majority of the stores have changed hands in recent years, and one is in the process of being sold. Changeovers can be wrenching for longtime owners who are attached to their way of doing things, but in these cases, it seemed that the transitions have gone well. At several of the stores, new owners from outside the book world have relied on established staff members for help, while new owners with bookselling experience are putting their mark on stores while maintaining the qualities that made the store an attractive purchase in the first place.

Anyway, on with the tour, which began on a bright, sunny day that made New England rival Southern California for balmy breezes and refreshingly dry air. It's enough to make you want to move north, at least until about November or December.

After a speedy Acela trip to the grim Route 128 station, I was picked up by Steve, who set up the tour and is, as always, an entertaining and informative guide. We immediately headed to Wellesley, a beautiful and wealthy Boston suburb that's home to Wellesley College--and Wellesley Books.

The store was bought in 2010 by Gillian and Bill Kohli from Marshall Smith, the bookseller entrepreneur extraordinaire who founded, among other ventures, the Booksmith chain. (As Wellesley Booksmith, the store opened in 1999 in an old Lauriat's space. Smith is still part owner of Brookline Booksmith in nearby Brookline. More on that store below.) Gillian Kohli has a background in engineering and law and is president of Wellesley Books. Bill Kohli is a portfolio manager at Putnam Investments.

Manager Jeremy Solomons, who started at Wellesley Books at the beginning of the year, showed us around the store. Jeremy is thoughtful, entertaining, English, has a background in theater and literature and has bookstore experience from working holiday seasons at Changing Hands, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., where his sister- and brother-in-law, Gayle Shanks and Bob Sommer, are owners. (In a bit of serendipity, Gayle recommended last winter that Jeremy have coffee with Steve to sound him out about possible bookstore jobs in New England. At the time, Steve didn't know of any, but right afterward, he heard about the position open at Wellesley Books--and the rest is history.)

Under the Kohlis, Wellesley Books has undergone a pleasant facelift. A striking change involved the space above the bookcases around the walls of the store, which now features rolling hills set apart from the wall with outlines of a skyline on the wall and figures walking and reading. (See photo.) The dead space wasn't large enough for posters, and the store wanted to forgo using it as storage. Another "innovation": Solomons had the many random dead tubes in the overhead light fixtures replaced with working ones, which brightened the store considerably. Sometimes it pays simply to look up.

Befitting a wealthy suburb, the store sells "lots of fiction and hardcovers," Solomons said, and it's renowned for its high level of customer service and friendly, knowledgeable staff, many of whom have worked at the store for years. At lunchtime on a weekday, the store was busy, and many of the customers and staff seemed to know each other by name, adding to the home-away-from-home feel of this store.

Wellesley Books has a strong events program. Events are held in downstairs space (where remainders and some used books are located) or in local middle schools. In late May, "Cassandra Clare in conversation with Jodi Picoult" drew 300 people, and in February an appearance by friends and family of the late Esther Earl, whose memoir is This Star Won't Go Out, drew 400. Downstairs, the store features used books and a few remainders.

Another striking program at Wellesley Books is the men's book club run by co-owner Bill Kohli, which seems to have discovered the magic both for getting men to read fiction and to join a book club. Called Bill's Book Club for Guys, the club regularly draws 20-30 men and costs $25, which includes a copy of the book and "libations": beer, wine or single malt whiskey. The club has discussed, among other titles, A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, Headlong by Michael Frayn and, not surprisingly, Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories. The September meeting's pick is The Son by Philipp Meyer.


From Wellesley, we headed to nearby Brookline, which is also a well-to-do Boston suburb but has a more urban feel. Founded in 1961, Brookline Booksmith is famous for constantly re-inventing itself--and that tradition has continued, which was apparent as soon as we entered the store. Our guide was longtime manager and co-owner Dana Brigham, one of the smartest, funny and unassuming booksellers I know. (Nine years ago, Dana wrote to me immediately after my abrupt departure from Publishers Weekly, encouraging me to do another daily e-mail newsletter for booksellers. It was an important nudge leading to the creation of Shelf Awareness, and I'm eternally grateful for her e-mail.)

Dana pointed out how the front of the store had been rearranged to feature the Kitchen Table, where, as Dana put, Brookline Booksmith "goes with our winners," a lesson, she said, often repeated by Marshall Smith. The Kitchen Table includes all kinds of food books and cookbooks as well as related sidelines like colorful potholders and dishes. The Kitchen Table nicely fills what Dana called "an odd-sized square" in the front of the store.

Brookline Booksmith also goes with its book winners. In a display near the front of the store, it features the previous year's top 25 bestsellers. Some of these books have done so well that they've become perennial bestsellers--because of the display. Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker has been a store bestseller four years in a row, and, "We've sold more of it than any other store," Dana said. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh has been a store bestseller for five years. Among other strong titles are How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish and 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story by Dan Harris.

Gifts account for 24% of sales. Besides the food-related items, they include journals, puzzles, cards, notecards, maps (in the kiosk descended from the Globe Corner Bookstore) and much more. Art supplies are doing well, and Dana pointed in particular to The Mandala Coloring Book as a bestseller in this area. The sidelines piece de resistance is the Card & Gift Room, the beautifully renovated space partway down the main part of the store on the left that sells mugs, magnets, frames, scarves, glassware, candles and more. (While there are plenty of sidelines in the store, there are only sidelines in the Card & Gift Room.) "We're making an effort to be a one-stop shopping store, and we really mean it," Dana added.

 Steve Fischer and Dana Brigham

Despite the plethora of sidelines, Dana emphasized that the store continues to have the same number of titles and the same amount of shelf space for books that it's always had.

Brookline Booksmith has also revamped its children's section, making it more of a "store within the store." The staff includes three booksellers dedicated to children's books, which Dana said is essential because "general booksellers can't do as well with children's books."

She also noted an unusual hire in June: Tim Huggins, founder of Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., which he sold in 2007, has joined Brookline Booksmith as controller and treasurer.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Voter File by David Pepper


Image of the Day: Dawn of California

Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif., put together this window display for the release of California, by former Book Soup employee Edan Lepucki. The novel, published today by Little, Brown, has benefited from the "Colbert bump," when Stephen Colbert asked viewers to preorder the book from Powell's Books and other indies as a protest against Amazon.

Red Wheel: The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (20th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Nepo, foreword by Jamie Lee Curtis

Nightbird and GreenRow: Two Stores Start Fundraising

Two bookstores, one established and one that will open this fall, are launching fundraisers:

Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark., is holding a week-long "Feed the Bird" series of fundraisers and performances "to help keep the store open during the slow summer months," according to the Fayetteville Flyer.

Events began yesterday and run through this Saturday, July 12, and include "a sing-a-long with local musician Adam Cox, a performance of the Maxine's Tap Room Whosie Whatsit Gameshow, a local food celebration, a poetry event, live music performances by SW/MM/NG, High Lonesome, Brothel Sprouts, May the Peace of the Sea Be With You, and more."

For details, see the store's Facebook page.


On Indiegogo, Beth Panageotou seeks to raise $30,000 by August 11 to help her open GreenRow Books on Main Street in Ellicott City, Md., in September. "Our virtual worlds need a home base," she wrote. "A place to go to pick up the perfect beach read, to start a discussion on the newest whodunit, to bring kids for crafts and story time, to hear local authors and business people discuss what interests them!"

Contributions will go to stocking "great reads for all ages and tastes," books and other products "from a variety of publishing houses and small businesses, artists, merchants" as well as for a POS and inventory control system, wi-fi and classes and events for kids, including book clubs, art series, crafts and story time.

Storey Publishing: The Illustrated Crystallary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Magical Gems and Minerals (Wild Wisdom) by Maia Toll

Pennie Picks The Giver

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Giver by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780544430785), first published in 1993, as her pick of the month for July. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"One of my greatest wishes is that my book-loving peers would take the time to investigate the amazing books for young readers that have come out in the last few decades. A great place to start is this month's pick, the Newbery Medal-winning The Giver by Lois Lowry.

"Eleven-year-old Jonas lives in a community that knows no hunger, suffering or war. It seems idyllic, until Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories. For the first time he realizes that while everyone has been spared all of the bad in the world, they've also been spared love, colors and everything else that is truly wonderful about life.

"Regardless of whether this was written for a younger audience, Lowry proves herself to be a giver as well, bearing the gift of this subtle and beautiful book."

Gallery and Omnific to Co-Publish; S&S to Distribute Omnific

Gallery Books and Omnific Publishing have signed a co-publishing agreement under which Gallery and Pocket Books will co-publish a select number of titles. In addition, Simon & Schuster will now be the exclusive distributor of all other Omnific titles.

Founded in 2009 with headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif., Omnific publishes romantic fiction featuring "fresh, contemporary voices that speak to the modern sensibilities of today's readers--smart romance for smart women."

Louise Burke, president and publisher of the Gallery Books Publishing Group, said, "Omnific have been innovators in both their editorial approach to romantic fiction, and in their publishing and business philosophy. We have been greatly impressed with the high-quality and market success of many of their books, and look forward to a partnership that can take readership for their authors to new levels."

Elizabeth Harper, president and publisher of Omnific, said, "Having worked with Simon & Schuster in the acquisition of New York Times bestselling authors Alice Clayton and Emma Chase's titles from Omnific in 2013, we knew they would be an excellent partner for us for both co-publishing and distribution."

Media and Movies

Movies: Gone Girl; Foxcatcher

The second official trailer has been released for David Fincher's (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network, Fight Club) adaptation of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Word & Film reported that the cast for Gone Girl "is studded with a talented array of big-time stars. We expect that Ben Affleck will be the perfect Nick Dunne, as he struggles with suspicion and sadness following Amy's disappearance. Rosamund Pike will fill the complicated role of Amy Dunne easily. We're also wildly excited to see Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's first boyfriend, the odd and slightly creepy Desi Collings." The movie hits theaters October 3.


A new teaser trailer is out for Foxcatcher, based on the book Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold by Mark Schultz and David Thomas. reported that with a positive reception at Cannes, "Sony Pictures Classics wants to make sure that talk doesn't die out in the summer months" for the project starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller and Anthony Michael Hall. The movie is set for release November 14.

Media Heat: Chris Bohjalian on Diane Rehm

Today on Fresh Air: Brian Krebs, author of Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime--from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door (Sourcebooks, $24.99, 9781402295614), which will be published in November.


Tomorrow morning CBS This Morning discusses The Making of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a four-volume, limited-edition tome made in collaboration with the Kubrick estate and Warner Brothers (Taschen America, $750, 9783836547697).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Chris Bohjalian, author of the novel Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385534833).

Books & Authors

Awards: Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel Shortlist

Finalists have been announced for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, run in partnership with W.H. Smith to celebrate the best in crime writing by British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback during the previous 12 months. The winner, who will be named July 17, receives £3,000 (about US$5,150) and a hand-carved Theakston cask. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Red Road by Denise Mina
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay
The Chessmen by Peter May
Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
Eleven Days by Stav Sherez

Book Review

Review: A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre (Crown, $27 hardcover, 9780804136631, July 29, 2014)

Ben Macintyre (Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies) may not be the first writer to explore the labyrinthine life of Kim Philby, but his fresh look at the master double agent examines his duplicity against the backdrop of his closest friendships with fellow operatives who loved but never truly knew him.

Charming, clever and almost universally liked, Philby rose through the ranks of British intelligence to become head of MI6's office in Washington, D.C. Along the way, he made many close friends in the intelligence community, including CIA counterintelligence head James Jesus Angleton, but none was so close or staunchly supportive of Philby as fellow MI6 agent Nicholas Elliott. Brought together by class and clubs, baptized together by fire and gin, in Elliott's mind the two were as close as brothers. He never for a second suspected his friend Philby was a double agent passing every secret Elliott told him to the U.S.S.R. Macintyre explores the background that left Elliott and so many others vulnerable to Philby's deception, from the loss of a close friend, in Elliott's case, to the more widespread assumption that members of the British upper class had immunity to the lure of communism and treason.

The story seems so far-fetched that only the most overimaginative novelist could have conceived it, and yet it's true. For the first time, Macintyre shines a light not into what happened, but how it could be allowed to happen. Although Philby himself insisted his duplicity stemmed solely from a lifelong devotion to communist ideals, Macintyre paints a different picture entirely, that of a clever sociopath who betrayed hundreds of people to their deaths with no remorse. Even when given the chance to get out of the Soviet ring after narrowly evading discovery, Philby sank immediately back into deception and treason. As readers watch Philby's career progress, an image emerges of a man in love not with Marxism, but with his own ability to lead a double life and never show his true face to those seemingly closest to him.

In addition to Philby's friends, Macintyre profiles other colorful figures who came into contact with him, sometimes with disastrous results, as in the case of Lionel "Buster" Crabb, Britain's most famous frogman. Although the diminutive diver was a middle-aged, depressed alcoholic, his death during a difficult reconnaissance mission was likely due to Philby's influence. Fans of James Bond will enjoy this look into the era that inspired Ian Fleming's novels, but any suspense-loving student of human nature will be shocked and thrilled by this true narrative of deceit. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This examination of Kim Philby, one of the most notorious double agents in Cold War history, focuses on the close friends who unwittingly enabled a life of treason.

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