Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 22, 2014

Scholastic Press: Playing the Cards You're Dealt by Varian Johnson

Etch/Clarion Books: Hooky by Míriam Bonastre Tur

Bloomsbury Publishing: When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group: Introducing Shelf Essentials, a new publishing program encouraging readers everywhere to make storytime more inclusive

Little Simon: Good Night, Good Night: The Original Longer Version of the Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Page Street Kids: Tonight We Rule the World by Zack Smedley

Legendary Comics: The Heart Hunter by Mickey George, illustrated by V Gagnon


New Lease on Life for Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room, one of the oldest LGBT bookstores in the country, closed in May after longtime owner Ed Hermance was unable to find a buyer. Now, however, it has found new life as Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni's Room, which will open for special sneak preview days during September and early October, with a grand opening planned for the weekend of OutFest (October 10-12),

Hermance told CBS-3 TV he could lose money on the two-year deal, since it is only designed to cover expenses: "I'll still own the building so if something serious goes wrong, it'll come out of my pocket, so there may not be any profit at all, but I am so happy our services will continue. If the store closed there's certain things that just wouldn't be available in this area. At the end of that time, I hope they are very satisfied with sales and buy the property from me."

Philly AIDS Thrift co-founder Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou said, "We'll still continue to sell new LGBT books there, but we'll be expanding with our used books and we'll also be able to fill the store with handpicked items, including vintage items, antique items, you name it- we'll have a nice selection there."

On Facebook, Philly Aids Thrift noted that "we want to preserve the historic role of Giovanni's as the nation's oldest LGBT bookstore, so to that end we agreed with Ed to maintain $15,000 in NEW inventory (at all times) of the most important back-stock books and new LGBT titles as they are released. There will also be a major section of quality used LGBT titles as we divert some of the enormous stream of books donated to PAT to our second home at Giovanni's....

"But PhillyAIDSThrift@Giovanni's Room will have MUCH more than the books, magazines and cards of previous years. We'll build on that base and fill the rest of the store with the widest assortment gay, hipster, pop-culture, camp, punk, underground, high-brow, mid-brow, low-brow and just plain cool STUFF you ever saw."

The new Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni's Room will continue presenting author readings, providing space for reading groups and other LGBT*Q organizations and maintaining an online presence at

Red Lightning Books: Forgiveness: The Story of Eva Kor, Survivor of the Auschwitz Twin Experiments by Joseph E Lee

Amazon: Deal with China; Critic in Germany; Drones for India

Amazon has signed a deal with authorities in Shanghai's new free-trade zone "to open the company's global platforms to Chinese consumers, enabling them to import bags and books normally available for delivery only in other countries," the Wall Street Journal reported. Shanghai Municipal authorities said the online retailer "will also open a logistics warehouse to expand exports of goods from Chinese companies."

During the decade that Amazon has been operating in China, it "has been quietly building its presence here," with 15 warehouses currently in operation, to compete against rivals like Alibaba. The Journal noted, however, that it is "unclear how the free-trade zone will affect Amazon's payment system or the company's China sales."


Commenting on the campaign by European authors protesting Amazon's business tactics with Swedish publisher Bonnier Group, German culture and media minister Monika Gruetters said she "welcomes and supports" the initiative because "books are as much a cultural asset as an economic one and that Amazon's negotiating tactics have endangered cultural life in Europe," the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Noting that literature, books and publishing houses "are a foundation of our cultural life," Gruetters said, "They must not be subject purely to market principles. Dealing appropriately with these values also has an ethical dimension. This applies to all players--including Amazon."

She added that "market power and domination over central distribution channels should not endanger our cultural diversity. If titles are removed from recommendation lists and deliveries are delayed to enforce discount demands from publishers, this is totally unacceptable."

The Monitor noted that "these statements take the Amazon-Bonnier dispute to a new level, beyond the realm of market regulation and into that of cultural ethics."


Amazon's air division may be booking an overseas flight. The Times of India reported the launch-pad for the online retailer's plan to deliver packages using drones will be India rather than the U.S., citing "two people aware of the development." Amazon would debut its drone delivery service with trials in Mumbai and Bangalore, where it has warehouses.

Independent Publishers Group: Click to win IPG's Fall Top Shelf titles!

Seattle Mystery Bookshop Is Moving... a Bit

Seattle Mystery Bookshop is relocating back to the original space it left in 2005, "thirty yards directly to the East. Same building, same level, same street, just the other end of the front walkway," as the bookseller explained to customers on its blog. The store will be closed over Labor Day Weekend to make the move.

"While it is easy to blame it on one thing or another, the fact is that not enough people are buying books from us to afford to stay in this larger space," the bookshop noted. "We've been warning of changes coming in how we do things. This is one of those.... We really have no option but to move if we want to continue. Current sales make the rent on this space prohibitive. Rent in our old space will be a third of what is now. That means we should be able to make it to the end of our current lease."

New World Library: Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World by Shelly Tygielski

World Eye Bookshop Closing Florence, Mass., Location

Two years after opening, World Eye Bookshop's second location in Florence, Mass., will close tomorrow, though its original Greenfield store "remains alive and well" after 45 years in business, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

Owner Jessica Mullins had opened in Florence at the suggestion of Cup and Top Cafe owner Helen Kahn, but the necessary foot traffic never materialized: "Cup and Top asked us to come so we tried it and there's no hard feelings," said Mullins. "I don't regret trying it. I think it was worth a shot but there just wasn't the base.... I'm sad because it was nice having the two locations."

She added that the Greenfield store is thriving: "We're a book store, we're a gift shop, we're a customer service store, and we are an anchor store in Greenfield."

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers: Art essentials that are off the chart!

Sam Shosanya Named CEO of Paper Plus Group

Sam Shosanya has been appointed CEO of Paper Plus, the book and stationery retail chain with more than 100 stores across New Zealand. Prior to joining the company, he was CEO of Complete Entertainment Services, the provider of wholesale and sophisticated distribution services to the Warehouse Group.

Binc to Hold Cell Phone Drive at Indie Regionals

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation will be holding used cell phone recycling drives at each of this fall's regional independent bookseller trade shows, Bookselling This Week reported. Each phone donated at Binc's exhibit table earns one entry into a drawing for a $50 American Express gift card, with a raffle conducted at individual shows. Funds raised will be used to help booksellers meet emergency expenses. Binc noted that bookstores are also welcome to hold cell phone recycling drives at their stores as part of an ongoing, year-round fundraiser.


Image of the Day: Wally Lamb at Words

Nearly 150 people turned out Tuesday evening to hear Wally Lamb read from his new novel, We Are Water (HarperCollins), at [Words] in Maplewood, N.J. Here booksellers Robin ("Batman") Kneblick, Judy Rubashkin, Jessie Matalon and Bernadette Albertson pose with Wally Lamb and Words owner Jonah Zimiles. Photo by Keith Kinsella

Bookstore Birthday Merchandising Tip: Give Presents!

From the Facebook page of Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, N.Y., which is celebrating its first year in business this week: "Happy birthday to us! Come by for the celebration any time today. As a present to our awesome customers, buy any book on the shelves today and have your pick from the pile of presents. Each one has the first line of the book written on the tag."

Cool Idea of the Day: The Floating Library

The Floating Library on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis "is a real library. It has books that can be checked out, and it has a librarian, and what more do you need? Well, for starters, you'll need a canoe or a kayak or a paddleboat or water skis (on second thought, maybe not water skis) or some other floating device (an inner tube?) to get to the library," the Star-Tribune reported.

Last summer, Sarah Peters initially launched the "handmade wooden structure, 8 feet square, stocked with about 80 titles--primarily handmade artist books, not popular bestsellers," the Star-Tribune wrote.

"Art books are not a widely known art form," Peters said. "And so there's an element of delight and surprise. First of all, canoeing along and coming across a library. And then having it stocked with books that are totally unique. It's like this double whammy of inventiveness. It can expand people's ideas of what art is."

The library, which began floating on Cedar Lake last weekend, will be open the weekends of August 23-24 and 30-31. Peters "has also arranged for four return boxes on land for those who borrow books but don't feel like paddling back out the next weekend," the Star-Tribune noted.

Audiobook Tie-In Website for Deep Down Dark

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the day rescue workers heard trapped Chilean miners tapping on a drill at a depth of 2,260 feet during what would become a 69-day rescue saga. In anticipation of the October 7 release of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free by Hector Tobar, Macmillan Audio has created a tie-in website that timelines those days with clips from the audiobook, read by Henry Leyva.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sam Harris and Ham

Sunday on TLC's new Sunday Brunch: Lauren Rothman, author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work (Bibliomotion, $22.95, 9781937134709).


Sunday on OWN-TV's Where Are They Now?: Sam Harris, author of Ham: Slices of a Life: Essays and Stories (Gallery, $26, 9781476733418).

TV: Fictional Art Imitates Fiction

"It's a case of life imitating art, or television imitating TV fiction," said about ABC putting in development a show based on the Derrick Storm series of mystery novels written by fictional author Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion on the ABC drama Castle. ABC Studios is producing the project, "about a PI-turned-spy working for the CIA."

Movies: Innocence; Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Scion Pictures has released a new trailer for Innocence, adapted from the novel by Jane Mendelsohn, reported. Directed by Hilary Brougher from a script she wrote with Tristine Skyler, the project was produced by the author with Christine Vachon and Pam Koffler. The cast includes Kelly Reilly, Sophie Curtis, Graham Phillips and Linus Roche.


David Yates "is back in the world of Harry Potter," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which reported that the man who directed four of the eight Harry Potter movies for Warner Bros. (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Half-Blood Prince and the two-part Deathly Hallows) "is in negotiations with the studio to direct Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the new Potter-based franchise the studio is hoping to launch" with J.K. Rowling, who is writing the screenplay.

Books & Authors

Awards: Hans Christian Andersen Literature

Salman Rushdie won the 500,000 Danish krone (about US$89,075) Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, which celebrates his "influence on writers worldwide... whose writings can be linked to Andersen's name and authorship through genre similarities or artistic qualities of the storyteller."

The prize committee said Rushdie was selected because "he is an incomparable author, who through a blend of global realism and fairytale fantasy depicts the significance of journeys and cultural meetings for our time, and thus enriches world literature. Sir Salman Rushdie shares Hans Christian Andersen's love of the narrative art of the fairytale."

Book Brahmin: Darcie Chan

photo: Carrie Schechter

Darcie Chan is the author of The Mill River Recluse and The Mill River Redemption (Ballantine Books, August 26, 2014). For 14 years, she worked as an attorney drafting environmental and natural resource legislation for the U.S. Senate. She now writes fiction full-time and lives near New York City with her husband and son.

On your nightstand now:

Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (still working up the courage to read these) and Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. As you can see, I'm woefully behind in my reading, which always happens when I'm working to complete a manuscript.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order: Anna Quindlen, Alice Hoffman, J.K. Rowling, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jodi Picoult and Betty Smith. Oh, wait, that's six! And there are so many others who are just as wonderful. And so many more whom I have yet to discover!

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce. I was supposed to read it for an English survey course in college, and it was completely impossible.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and The Shipping News by Annie Proulx.  Both of these books are exquisite, and I've recommended them to every reader I know.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

Book that changed your life:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith was the only book ever given to me by my late paternal grandmother. When, as a teenager, I finally got around to reading it, I was so moved and amazed by the story. It gave me a new perspective of my grandmother as a person, too. Except when I was a very young child, I had always lived a long distance from her, and I really didn't have the opportunity to get to know her as well as I would have liked. She was an avid reader, though, and she loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn enough to give me a copy. To date, it's still my favorite book. That I also fell in love with the story makes me feel as if we had something in common--a shared, grown-up connection I didn't have with her, and couldn't have understood or appreciated, when I was a child.

Favorite line from a book:

Annie Proulx, describing the character Quoyle in The Shipping News: "Some anomalous gene had fired up at the moment of his begetting as a single spark sometimes leaps from banked coals, had given him a giant's chin." Every time I read it, I marvel at how brilliantly it's crafted--how creative imagery and humor are perfectly infused in the sentence.

Which character you most relate to:

As an adult, I haven't really "related" to a character I've read. But, as a child, I totally understood how Laura Ingalls Wilder must have felt as a little girl when her family moved away from the big woods of Wisconsin. I was also born in Wisconsin and lived there until I was six, when my family moved away. It was the first time I'd had to leave a place where I had lived, and it was a special place--the house of my childhood, built by my father, with my grandparents' house next door and a yard full of old oaks where I played. I'm still nostalgic for it.

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

I would love to take all seven Harry Potter books and read them without stopping, one after the other. Just having the uninterrupted time to read that much in one fell swoop would be a luxury, and being able to savor those books, to discover things I missed when I inhaled them the first time, would be absolutely divine.

Book Review

Review: Wallflowers

Wallflowers by Eliza Robertson (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 9781620408155, September 16, 2014)

Eliza Robertson's first story collection gathers a host of outsiders, oddballs and everyday people for an array of startlingly intimate perspectives. The contents include "L'Étranger," shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner "We Walked on Water," both beautiful examples of Robertson's ability to use the quiet places inside a narrator's thoughts as an echo chamber for the moments that become turning points in our lives.

In "Who Will Water the Wallflowers?" a young girl in a neighborhood of identical houses prefers the freedom of sleeping at a neighbor's empty house while cat-sitting to staying at home with her mother, but a silently brewing catastrophe could make her independence horribly permanent. Although the premise seems absurd, Robertson found inspiration for "Missing Tiger, Camels Found Alive" in a news story about the theft of a trailer containing a tiger and two camels from a motel parking lot. The parade of inner lives continues: a series of journal entries written by a leaf peeper to her brother reveal the trauma of their childhood with a distant, mentally ill mother but also the bond it forged between them. A young girl dreams of becoming an astronaut, her science experiments and hungry information-gathering at odds with her family's slum housing and her one friend, a pyromaniac shoplifter. Another young girl whose mother and brother died in a boat accident discovers a tribal burial site: a small corpse in a canoe suspended in a tree according to custom.

Robertson's stories remain distinct from one another yet also blur together into a world all their own, one that holds up a magnifying glass to life. Her imagery alludes to the delicacy of nature and humanity, often focusing on birds: tame wrens, captured hummingbirds, crows that "take wing en masse and sweep through the air like a hand-held fan." With characters from so many walks of life, Robertson conveys the message that we are all wallflowers, all observing life as we experience it. The pleasure taken from living the characters' secrets with them is part voyeurism, part kinship. Although the reader may never have stolen circus animals or eaten borscht from a toothpaste tube, beneath these oddities lie common experiences like difficult family relationships, a yearning for a better life and the lonely island of grief. Taken as a whole, the collection invites readers to meditate on both the remarkable and unremarkable moments that have most affected their own lives. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: With delicacy and grace, this debut story collection takes readers inside the lives of overlooked, commonplace people.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Reading Pilgrimage for NZ National Poetry Day

I don't know anything about New Zealand poetry, relatively speaking. Today, the country is (or was, depending on when you read this and where) celebrating its 17th annual National Poetry Day, with more than 60 events planned, including "Poems for Pikelets in Nelson; a poetry serenade phone line; a Whistle Stop poetry tour of Otago and Southland; Operation Funny Bone--a celebration of amusing poetry in the Coromandel; poems on walls in the Wairarapa; poets on buses in Auckland and Wellington; and a day-long festival of poetry at Ashburton College," according to Booksellers New Zealand. I love the idea that morning bus commuters received "a good dose of poetry" regarding public transport etiquette ("Poetiquette") courtesy of NZ Bus.

Poet and National Poetry Day coordinator Miriam Barr observed that poetry "is for everyone.... They say every person makes poetry on a daily basis and poets are simply the people who write it down. Anyone can start writing it down and anyone can enjoy it. You are never too young or old to get involved in poetry."

"Poetry in New Zealand is in fantastic shape with a number of brilliant new poets making themselves known," said Miriama Kamo, convenor of the judging panel for the New Zealand Post Book Awards. This year's shortlisted titles in the poetry category are Gathering Evidence by Caoilinn Hughes, Horse with Hat by Marty Smith, Heartland by Michele Leggott and Us by Vincent O'Sullivan.

I pause here to consider that aforementioned troubling gap in my poetry of New Zealand reading résumé. In recent years, I have increased my focus on translated works, doing my part, with pleasure, to raise the 3% bar. It occurred to me, however, that spaces remain to be filled on my English-language poetry shelf as well. A pilgrimage was called for, and, inspired by New Zealand Poetry Day, that's what I'm working on here. Call it a new chapter in a lifelong "gap reading" initiative.

Where do I begin? I listen to poetry: Miriam Barr reads Leggott's poem "Nga Kaitiaki," Hughes's "We are experiencing a delay," O'Sullivan's "No Longer Listed" and Smith's "Black Smith."  

Janet Frame

I learn there's a tentative personal connection to consider. I've read Janet Frame's prose, but not her poetry. I discover a poem titled "Scarlet Tanager, Saratoga Springs," invoking a moment in the upstate New York town where I live and where she spent some time at Yaddo:

And then, your blood-colour furled, you flew to the highest bough and you sang
in detail, without violence, a civilized version of your story.

Poems by Hone Tuwhare find me. I like this: "I progressed from a plant, and became animal. I died as an animal and/ became man. Now... never did I grow less by dying, you understand?"

Then I follow a new trail: The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize "is inspired by the spirit of imagination, freedom and determination" that marked the life of poet Sarah Broom, who died in 2013. She wrote this:

and if, after all,
when the world
starts to stray from me,
like a grazing animal,
nonchalant, diverted,
frayed rope trailing,

if you are still here
and still listening,

then, if you can

sing to me

C.K. Stead

C.K. Stead was the winner of this year's inaugural Sarah Broom Prize. I've met him briefly in anthologies over the years. He wrote this:

These are the stars of poetry
Too good to be true
Over the hills and in the brim-full bay;

And this, that ultimate coin
The dead exchange--

Sam Hunt was the Sarah Broom Prize's guest judge. His life maxim is "Tell the story/ tell it true/ charm it crazy." And he wrote this:

The house, without you in it,
should be condemned, too

right: there should be a law against it!
The house, to be a house, needs you.

Like every gap reading pilgrimage, this one ends somewhere along the path, with words--out of context and yet oddly pertinent--from Helen Lehndorf's review of The Lonely Nude by Emily Dobson for the Booksellers of New Zealand blog: "At times my first reaction on finishing a poem was: 'Is that it?' but then I would re-read it, and re-read it again and my question would turn into the declarative 'That's it! Yes,... that's it,' something true had been cleverly conveyed." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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