Also published on this date: Wednesday, August 20, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Secret Place

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Aladdin Paperbacks: Legacy (Keeper of the Lost Cities #8) by Shannan Messenger

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Sleeping Bear Press: Back Roads, Country Toads by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers

St. Martin's Griffin: The Truth about Magic: Poems by Atticus

Tor Teen: This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda

St. Martin's Press: Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer

News

National Book Award Honorees at Miami Book Fair

In what promises to be a whirlwind tour, all 20 of this year's National Book Award winners and finalists, who will be honored in New York City November 19, have been invited to fly south the following day to participate in the Miami Book Fair International, which is partnering with the National Book Foundation on the initiative.  
 
"This is a wonderful partnership I envision carrying forward for many years," said Mitchell Kaplan, chair of the Miami Book Fair board of directors and owner of Books & Books. "It's natural and makes sense on so many levels. The fair has hosted many National Book Award winners in its 30-year history, we hope to do so for another 30, and this partnership will just get stronger.”
 
Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, said the organization's "goal is to expand the audience for the best of American literature. Appearing in Miami right after the National Book Awards in New York represents an extraordinary continuation of our celebration and an opportunity for new and exciting relationships between this year's winners and finalists and the avid readership that attends the Miami Book Fair."

The National Book Awards longlist of 10 books in each category will be announced during the week of September 15, with finalists named October 15. The Miami Book Fair takes place November 16-23.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters


For Sale: Seattle's Episcopal Bookstore

The Episcopal Bookstore, Seattle, Wash., which specializes in meeting "the needs of the liturgical Christian book reader, from many religious denominations," is for sale. Owners Nancy and John Marshall wrote to customers that "after 22 years of service to Episcopalians and other spiritually-minded people," they have realized that "it is time for us to retire and begin a new chapter in our lives. Now that we've made that decision, we're hoping that you--or someone you know--will want to see the Episcopal Bookstore remain at the core of our faith community."

They continued: "The key ingredients that will contribute to the success of a new owner are all in place: a loyal customer base, a dedicated, hard-working staff, the technology tools to remain current and relevant, and a stellar reputation that attracts customers from near and far. Besides, we're willing to stay on for a short while as well, serving in an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition."

For more information, contact the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates at 904-277-2664 or by e-mail at MKaufman@PazBookBiz.com.


Andrews McMeel Publishing: Zweihander Grim & Perilous Rpg: Player's Handbook by Daniel D Fox


BAM Partners with Kensington on Publishing Initiative

Books-A-Million will partner with Kensington Publishing to launch Lyrical High Notes, a program that will publish print editions of selected titles from Kensington's digital imprint. The special editions will be made available for a limited period exclusively at BAM as $12.95 trade paperbacks.

"I'm so excited to partner with Kensington for the opportunity to offer bestselling eBooks in print format exclusively for Books-A-Million customers," said BAM senior buyer Margaret Terwey.

Kensington CEO Steven Zacharius said the publisher is "thrilled to be partnering with Books-A-Million to extend the readership of these fresh and edgy books. Each of the titles chosen for the Lyrical High Notes program was highly successful in its e-only format, and these special printed editions will give our digital-first authors the retail presence that they deserve."

The program will launch in November with the release of Consumed and Shadowed by Rebecca Zanetti and Playing the Game by M.Q. Barber. Following the January release of Crossing the Line by M.Q. Barber and Better than Perfect by Kristina Mathews, Lyrical High Notes will continue with one new release per month for the remainder of the year. BAM is the exclusive retailer for the editions during each title's initial three months in print.

A multi-channel campaign is planned to promote the program through online, social media, event and print marketing, as well as prominent in-store placement and a launch party on November 8 with Rebecca Zanetti and M.Q. Barber at the BAM store in York, Pa.

"As a reader, I love wandering the aisles in a traditional book store, and thus I'm thrilled that Books-A-Million will be featuring Consumed and Shadowed on their shelves," said Zanetti.


Chronicle Books: Redwood and Ponytail by KA Holt


U.K.'s 'Most Remote Bookshop' on the Market

Achins bookshopAchins Bookshop and Coffee Shop, Lochinver, located in the Scottish Highlands and thought to be the most remote bookshop in the U.K. mainland, is for sale, the Bookseller reported. Owners Alex and Agnes Dickson, who have owned the shop for more than 30 years, are looking to retire.

"I was working as an engineer in Glasgow and my wife was a nurse, and we had three young children, when we heard about the opportunity to buy the bookshop, which was already 20 years old by that point," he said. "We thought it would be a wonderful place to bring up the children and change our pace of life, so we went for it, and haven't looked back."

He would love to see the location remain as a bookshop: "It's a part of the local community, you know everyone and there's always plenty of opportunities to be involved with local events and the schools. It's the perfect opportunity for a family looking for a change."

Noting that their primary relationship with publishers is by phone, Dickson said attending Booksellers Association events in Glasgow and Edinburgh helped maintain good relationships, adding: "I have to give credit to Gardners, too--we're down a single track lane, 100 miles north west of Inverness, but we still guarantee next day delivery for customers."


New Press: Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America by Erik Nelson and Andrea Dennis, foreword by Killer Mike


Obituary Note: Simin Behbahani

Iranian poet and women's rights advocate Simin Behbahani, who was nominated twice for the Nobel prize in literature and whose "strong words earned her the nickname of the 'Lioness of Iran,' " died last Thursday. She was 87. The Guardian noted that she "wrote of the joys of love, demanded equal rights for women and spoke out about the challenges facing those living in her homeland."


Notes

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Book World Edition

stephen king ice bucket challengeBy now, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge needs no introduction. As Forbes put it: "In case you've been hiding in a Martian dry ice gully, the reason all these smart people are chilling their brains is not some new health fad but to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the lethal neurodegenerative disorder also known as Lou Gehrig's disease."

The book world has also enthusiastically immersed itself in the #IceBucketChallenge. Check out these ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos from bookstores RJ Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., and Reiter's Books, Washington, D.C.; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; authors Michael Connelly, Wally Lamb, Stephen King (no comments on his choice of hosiery, please), Brandon Sanderson, Alex Bledsoe, David Brin and Pierce Brown.

Finally, because we love him and all he does for books, we are pleased to present this year's award for best performance in an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video to Stephen Colbert.


Better Places to Buy Books Is an Indie Database

"After visiting more than 2,000 independent bookstores--at least virtually--the Amazon annihilation, Orwell misquotes and all, doesn't seem quite so inescapable," Kate Brittain wrote in the Morning News, chronicling her online American bookstore journey, during which she undertook the challenge of creating the Better Places to Buy Books database, featuring information and links to more than 2,000 independent bookstores in the U.S.

"One thing that became apparent, as I clicked through a few thousand bookstore websites, was the diversity of their dispositions," Brittain wrote. "Through some amalgamation of the places where they reside and the people who run them, they are fitted to their communities in a way Amazon will never be.... I began my search in a nervous mood. But as I entered name after name into the database, wandering virtually into every store I could discover between our shining seas, I ceased, slowly, to worry. A conviction took hold in my heart: that whatever the outcome of this corporate kerfuffle, the bookstores--and so, too, what they support: books and writers and their communities--will survive this perilous moment.

"Unfortunately, the numbers and the news reports don't allow for my dismissal of doom. They say this is the end of book culture as we know it--or: How could anyone fight Goliath? What I think is, if we give up now on the Black Bears of America, then we are doomed. But if we choose to believe in them, to support them, then how can they possibly disappear?"

Brittain invites readers to e-mail her with corrections or additions to Better Places to Buy Books.


Road Trip: Chin Music's U.S. Indie Bookstore Tour

Modestly dubbing the suggestion a "road trip proposal," Chin Music Press has charted, or as they put it, "thrown together a national road trip route that would, in theory, take you through most of the U.S. bookstore hubs.... The list of bookstores that we'd take you through is not exhaustive, but that's not the point; efficiency and cost-effectiveness isn't the point either--when we completed the circuit, the route was a meandering 9,500+ miles; the point is to launch a discussion: what are your favorite bookstores--the ones you've visited, the ones nearby, the ones you've only heard tell about? What would this kind of trip mean as an experience--of America, of literature, of space and taste and genre?

"The point is also to open the possibility of a strange, messy route and draw unexpected connection--literally and figuratively--between bookstores. These bookstores are connected by a common function, a common purpose, yes; no doubt they're connected by many of the same market demands and distribution channels; but they're also connected by you, me, us--readers who discover new favorite bookstores everywhere we go. We may notice commonalities (and differences) that no website blurb or market report could capture, things like the smell of the neighborhood and the doodles on the staff recommendations and the little hidden jokes in themed displays."


Personnel Changes at Abrams, Once Upon a Time Bookstore

Effective September 22, Michael Sand, executive editor at Little, Brown, is joining Abrams as v-p, publisher, adult trade. He joined Little, Brown in 2006 and earlier worked for six years at Bulfinch Press. He began his career at Aperture, where he worked for 10 years.

"Michael Sand is the perfect candidate to continue to envision, shape, and drive our adult editorial programs at Abrams," president and CEO Michael Jacobs said. "In addition to his consummate editorial skill and taste, Sand is an expert on and adept at nonfiction publishing with a focus on narrative, biography, memoir, art, and photography, as well as lifestyle and, especially, cooking and food. His skills and taste are a rare mix in today's trade books environment."

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Beverly Burns has joined Once Upon a Time Bookstore, Montrose, Calif., as events coordinator and will expand the reach of the store's authors into Greater Los Angeles-area schools. She was formerly events coordinator at Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, La Verne, which closed in January.

Once Upon a Time's book buyer and outreach coordinator, Kris Vreeland, will continue in that capacity as well as work with authors, teachers and librarians.


Media and Movies

The Giver on the Big Screen

The gestation period for The Giver by Lois Lowry, winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal, to make it to the big screen, was 18 years. "I'm glad it didn't take any longer," Lowry joked at a press conference in New York City last week, "I'm 77 years old."

Jeff Bridges, who plays the Giver, was originally interested in the project as director, with his father, Lloyd Bridges, to play the lead. But he couldn't get the backing for it, he explained at the press conference. It's striking that so many people involved in the film--which was released last Friday by the Weinstein Company and Walden Media--had read the book and loved it, and wanted the film to "preserve its spirit," as many them put it.

Devotees of the book may be surprised that Jonas, chosen to receive memories from the Giver and to succeed him, and his friends Fiona and Asher, are not Elevens but more like Sixteens. But the change was necessary for the plot threads developed for the film to work.

In a film of only 97 minutes, the world-building is briefer than it was in the book, partly because we can see the world, watch these detached relationships, observe the Sameness, the identical buildings and the curfews, and hear the silence. The filmmakers had to convey quickly how Jonas figures out what he and his fellow Community members have given up--because of climate control, the lack of color, music, celebration, family bonds, and no knowledge of history. Only the Giver keeps these things, and he shares them only when called upon by the elders--and to pass them on to the new Receiver.

(Back row, l.-r.) Producers Nikki Silver and Neil Koenigsberg, actors Odeya Rush, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes and Jeff Bridges, director Phillip Noyce, actor Cameron Monaghan, actress/musician Taylor Swift, co-screenwriter Robert B. Weide, (front row, l.-r.) actors Brenton Thwaites and Emma Tremblay, author Lois Lowry and co-screenwriter Michael Mitnick at a press conference for The Giver. (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

The chemistry between Jeff Bridges (the Giver) and Brenton Thwaites (Jonas, selected as Receiver) carries the film, as well as the relationship between Thwaites and Odeya Rush (Fiona). Director Phillip Noyce gracefully achieves aesthetically what could only be done on film: Jonas's gradual awakening to color, which begins to leak into the black-and-white frames. First, it's the red of an apple, then Fiona's hair, until the whole world lights up like fireworks for Jonas--and for moviegoers.

Although the movie develops an action-packed original plot line, layered upon Jonas's difficult decision about what to do when he learns the baby Gabe's fate, Lowry seemed visibly pleased with the film. She has noted that the lack of action and suspense in the book made it "more difficult for the filmmakers who have tried to make a film of it."

Key to the look of the movie was the lure of Elsewhere, the area outside the Community. Noyce found the location when he took a shot of his son during a trip to South Africa. In that image, Noyce could picture Jonas at the cusp of Elsewhere. "Shooting the film in South Africa meant a quality of light--and everything else--that was just a little different," Noyce said.

Writers Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide expanded the role of the Chief Elder (played with chilling depth by Meryl Streep) and explored more deeply the misfire in the training of the previous Receiver (played by Taylor Swift in flashbacks). "Help him hold in the pain," the Chief Elder tells the Giver as he trains Jonas. In the role, Jeff Bridges is a picture of stillness. He hardly moves his mouth as he speaks, as if trying to contain his emotions. At one point he tells Jonas, "Feelings are fleeting; emotions are deep." His stoic stature makes him the embodiment of ancient wisdom.

Still processing the recent news of Robin Williams's death, Jeff Bridges (who worked with Williams on The Fisher King) opened the press conference with, "I want to acknowledge the fullness of life, the joy and sadness of it all. My dear friend Robin's passing, and the joy of giving birth to our child, The Giver. It reminded me of what the Giver and Receiver might have felt."

Lois Lowry and Phillip Noyce
Author Lois Lowry and director Phillip Noyce. (Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

For Bridges, coming to the film meant a shift in perspective. His own vision of it was very close to the book. But Harvey Weinstein approached the actor with a different vision. "I thought, do I say, 'bon voyage'? How will I feel if I let this go?" Bridges asked himself. "I decided I would surf this wave."

Asked why she took the role of Chief Elder, Meryl Streep replied, "I like to be boss," she said with a laugh. "I've wanted to work with this gentleman [indicating Bridges] my entire career. He somehow eluded me. I've always admired Phillip [Noyce], and I thought to bring to life the colorless parts of the story would take a true artist." Streep's children read The Giver in school, and the actress said that while she usually had to "crack the whip" to get them to read, "my two younger ones devoured it."

Taylor Swift and co-screenwriter Michael Mitnick both read The Giver in fifth grade. "It changed my perspective on things," Swift said, when asked why she chose this project as her first acting role. "It stuck with me. When I got the script, I thought, if they treat the film anything like the book, I want to do it." For Mitnick, the goal was to make the film "an extension of Lois's voice."

The respect for Lois Lowry's creation among this group was palpable. But perhaps never more so than when the credits rolled, and at the very end was the film's dedication: "In memory of Major Grey Lowry," Lois Lowry's son. --Jennifer M. Brown


Media Heat: Kevin Birmingham on Bookworm

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Kevin Birmingham, author of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594203367). As the show put it: "Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses chronicles the history of censorship surrounding the publication of Ulysses for its seemingly seditious, immoral content. 'Obscenity' remains as illegal today as it was in 1922, but the Joyce trials changed how we define what can be considered obscene. If a book is so good, so ingeniously and beautifully written, is obscenity transformed into art?"

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Tomorrow on a repeat of Ellen: Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (Harmony, $26, 9780804140843).


Book Music: William Beckett's Theme Song for Lock In

Popular indie recording artist William Beckett has created a theme song inspired by Lock In, the upcoming novel by John Scalzi (Tor, Aug. 26). Scalzi's Hugo Award-winning novel Redshirts is being adapted for a series at FX and his Old Man’s War series is in development at the SyFy network.



Books & Authors

Awards: Edwin Morgan; Kelpies

Hebridean poet Niall Campbell won the £20,000 (about US$33,300) Edwin Morgan Prize for his debut collection, Moontide, the Guardian reported. The bi-annual competition is funded by the Edwin Morgan trust and run by the Scottish Poetry Library.

Jen Hadfield, one of the judges, said, "Campbell's light touch is a rarity in contemporary poetry. There's no complacency in reading his work, but the reader always knows they're in safe hands." The other judge, Stewart Conn, described the poet as "a joyous wordsmith.... His perceptions of the natural world, and that of myth, interwoven with insight into his workings as a poet, instill a recurring sense of wonder.”

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Lindsay Littleson has won this year's £2,000 Kelpies Prize for Scottish Children's Writing for The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean. The Bookseller noted that the prize "was set up by Edinburgh-based publisher Floris Books and is given annually to the best children's book set in Scotland by a first-time author." As winner, Littleson also receives a publishing contract and her book will be released next year.


Book Brahmin: Julia Keller

photo: Mike Zajakowski

Julia Keller is the author of Summer of the Dead (Minotaur, August 26, 2014), the third novel in her series featuring prosecutor Belfa Elkins, who returns to her Appalachian hometown with hopes of stemming the tide of illegal prescriptions drugs. Keller was born and raised in Huntington, W.Va. For many years she was chief book critic at the Chicago Tribune, where she won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has taught writing at Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago.

On your nightstand now:

In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen, Tigerlily's Orchids by Ruth Rendell, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence and The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron.

Favorite book when you were a child:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. This spooky, mesmerizing story grabbed me back then and haunts me still. I remember being completely besotted by it; I couldn't get its rhythms out of my head.

Your top five authors:

Willa Cather, Iris Murdoch, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Gore Vidal and Virginia Woolf.

Book you've faked reading:

Why fake it? That's like picking your own pocket--the only loser is you. I'd be far more likely to claim I haven't read a book that I actually have read. Why? Because when a friend recommends a book, I don't like to snap back, "I've read it, thanks." That makes me sound like a smarty-pants.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Sea and the Silence by Irish author Peter Cunningham. This is a spare, exquisite novel that builds to a shattering emotional climax. I found it by sheer happenstance, and now force it into the hands of everyone I meet who appreciates a masterfully told story with a sweeping lyrical intensity.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance, a story collection by Matthew Kneale. The cover is devilishly clever; it looks as if someone has taken a small knife and cut out a [letter] from the title, in order to swipe it. At first I thought the cover had been vandalized--that's how realistic it is. And the stories are wicked, pungent little moral dramas.

Book that changed your life:

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. No other novel captures so well the yearning of youth, the sustaining joy of hard work and the ephemeral nature of love. I reread this book every few years and always find new reasons to revere its quiet, austere, restless beauty.

Favorite line from a book:

This seems to change daily, but right now, it's from Fludd by Hilary Mantel: "He heard the mournful shunting and the calls of trains, the feet of night porters on the stairs, the singing of a drunk in St. Peter's Square: he heard ragged breathing from a hundred rooms, the Morse chattering of ships at sea, the creak and scrape of the pivot as angels turned the earth."

Which character you most relate to:

Oh, the agony! Anyone who answers this question honestly is just asking for trouble, leaving herself open to instant psychoanalysis. Okay, here goes: it's a tie. The deeper I go into Sue Grafton's series of alphabet mystery novels, the closer I feel to Kinsey Millhone, her resourceful, wisecracking--and just plain wise--protagonist. But I also feel a strong kinship with Quirke, the moody, hard-drinking Dublin pathologist in John Banville's series of crime novels that he writes under the pen name Benjamin Black. The latest, Holy Orders, is suffused with gloom and fog and black webs of regret--just my cup of tea.

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

I remember the sweet agony of reading The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine--really Ruth Rendell--with a swoop of feverish intensity. I was half-afraid to keep going but fully unable to stop. The novel exerts a strange hypnotic power far beyond the usual crime-novel compulsion to find out who did what to whom and why. It's almost diabolical in its appeal; time disappears, the edges of the real world dissolve as you read, read, read. To be so completely under a book's spell is rare indeed, and I'd love--or is it fear?--to be back in that place, opening the first page of this entrancing novel for the first time.


Book Review

Children's Review: El Deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams, $21.95 hardcover, 248p., ages 8-12, 9781419710209; $10.95 paper 9781419712173, September 2, 2014)

In this graphic novel memoir, Geisel honor-winner Cece Bell (Rabbit and Robot) tells her story about navigating life as a hearing-impaired young person with a Phonic Ear. It's a universal story about trying to figure out who you want to be and where you belong.

When Cece was just four years old, she was diagnosed with meningitis. In the hospital, "everything is so quiet." Suddenly Cece goes from having a "normal" childhood to feeling left out of conversations and television shows. Bell's ironic choice to use rabbits, who have large ears, as characters, combined with the very real portrayal of her parents, friendships and school, make Cece a heroine with whom children can easily identify. Cece is constantly struggling with the implications of wearing her Phonic Ear, a box that amplifies sound that she wears around her neck, struggling with how to hide it, when to wear it and what to do when it breaks.

Young Cece recognizes that the Phonic Ear improves her life; being able to hear makes everything easier. At one point in the story, the gym teacher breaks the microphone and Cece has to go four weeks and three days without it. She can't wait for its return. One of the book's central dilemmas revolves around Cece's realization that the aid not only makes it easier for her to understand her teachers, but also lets her hear what the teacher says when he or she is outside the classroom. If she confides her secret, will it gain her friends or make enemies of her peers? Should she divulge the "superpowers" the Phonic Ear gives her?

Alongside the first-person-narrated graphic novel, Bell creates a comic strip featuring the heroine's secret life as the superhero El Deafo. Readers will delight in the insightful and funny thoughts she shares through the guise of her cape-wearing alter ego. The colorful graphic-novel format and clear narrative voice make for a smooth transition from civilian Cece to superhero El Deafo and back again.

In her author's note, Bell emphasizes that this is her story as an individual, and should not be generalized to the Deaf community, or to anyone else who shares her challenges. Cece's universal feelings make this memoir accessible to anyone who has experienced moments of awkwardness in wondering what others are thinking, making friends or wishing they had super powers. --Susannah Richards, associate professor, Eastern Connecticut State University

Shelf Talker: This funny and poignant memoir in graphic novel format about a child grappling with hearing loss, entering school and making friends is ideal for kids navigating new experiences.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by J.J. Smith
2. The Proposition 5 by H.M. Ward
3. Lexy Baker Cozy Mystery Series Boxed Set Volume 1 by Leighann Dobbs
4. Draw by Cora Brent
5. Precarious by Bella Jewel
6. Taming My Prince Charming by J.S. Cooper
7. All for This by Lexi Ryan
8. The Avoiding Series Boxed Set by K.A. Linde
9. Shattered Palms by Toby Neal
10. Vain--Part Two by Deborah Bladon

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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