Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 22, 2014


Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford

Quotation of the Day

'The Brand of Books Kinokuniya'

"As long as we have a good team of people and continue that connection, I think the store will be all right.... I think we've managed to do a good job of honing the brand of Books Kinokuniya, of honing the skills of the people who hold the brand and providing an experience within the store. I think that will compel customers to come back again and again."

--Kenny Chan, Asia Pacific merchandising director and Singapore store director, Books Kinokuniya, in a Straits Times profile called "Kinokuniya's Kenny Chan Is a Comic Book Fan."

Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>


News

A Children's Place Moving in Portland, Ore.

A Children's Place, Portland, Ore., is moving early next year from 4807 N.E. Fremont to space in a shopping plaza at 1423 N.E. Fremont anchored by Whole Foods Market, the Oregonian reported. The 40-year-old store's current lease runs out at the end of January, and owner Pam Erlandson said she hopes to open in the new location by mid-February.

At 1,300 square feet, the new space is 400 square feet smaller than the old space, but Erlandson said that the current space is spread out. "I will be giving up room but I won't be giving up books," she said. "I'm hoping it will be better organized, in a way."


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter


#GiveaBook Keeps on Giving

Penguin Random House has expanded the #GiveaBook program when, in three weeks, it surpassed its initial goal of donating 25,000 books to Save the Children. The publisher has now pledged to donate another 10,000 books for additional posts and tweets containing the #GiveaBook hashtag through December 24. The campaign began on November 29, Indies First/Small Business Saturday.

The campaign is also continuing its #GiveaBook video challenge, which encourages people to name a book they're giving to a friend and why; challenge three friends to create their own #GiveaBook videos; then post these videos online using the #GiveaBook hashtag. Some popular videos are author Harlan Coban's "Rants about why you should be giving books" and actor Nick Offerman's "Don't give Nick Offerman a picture of himself--give a him a book instead!"

Booksellers have also created #GiveaBook challenge videos and have built in-store #GiveaBook displays. (Marketing materials for retailers are available for download at http://tinyurl.com/GiveaBook.) The campaign aims to promote books from all publishers.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Aspen's Explore Booksellers Purchased for $4.6 Million

Explore Booksellers, Aspen, Colo., is under contract to be sold for $4.6 million, according to a motion filed Friday in current owner Samuel Wyly's bankruptcy case, the Aspen Times reported. The cash deal includes the historic Main Street house and $200,000 for books, furniture, computers and other business assets.

The buyer is Explore 221 Main LLC., a limited liability company owned "by an individual who resides at least part time in Aspen," the motion said. Wyly, who put Explore Booksellers on the market earlier this year for $6.5 million (later reduced to $5.5 million), filed for bankruptcy protection in October. His attorneys "want the sale to take place as soon as possible after approval by the bankruptcy court, but no later than January 21," the Aspen Times wrote.

The fate of the bookstore remains uncertain. Commercial real estate broker Karen Setterfield, who had the listing on the property, said there had been "an incredible amount of activity" on Explore since it was listed. "The overwhelming interest is to keep it a bookstore" among those making inquiries, Setterfield noted, but she had "no knowledge of the interest by this buyer."

Former Aspen Mayor Bill Stirling, a founder of the Save Explore Committee, said the committee "hasn't been in contact with the prospective buyer," but hopes the bookstore will remain a bookstore.


Senate Torture Report: 72-Hour Turnaround

In a piece about Melville House's publication of The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, the New Yorker explained one of the main reasons why Melville House is publishing a book that's also available directly from the government: the original version is a 528-page "PDF with the slanted margins and blurred resolution of a Xerox made by a myopic high-school Latin teacher. It's pocked with black redaction lines and crammed with footnotes of David Foster Wallace-ian scope. The report is in the public domain and freely available online, but, for reasons of form as well as of content, it's hell to read."

Still, Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson noted that there are reasons "why this is insane." Among them, printing costs are in the six figures. Torture doesn't exactly fit the holiday spirit. And the press has focused completely on the book at its busiest time of the year, as "a dozen full-time employees, plus a smattering of freelance proofreaders, copy-editors, interns, and volunteers sat at computers, retyping the government PDF's tangle of text into Microsoft Word files" in less than 72 hours.

But The Report is exactly the kind of book Melville House was founded to publish. Official pub date is December 30.


Ex-University Bookstore Manager Pleads Guilty to $300,000 Theft

James Spaulding, former manager of the Clarke University bookstore in Dubuque, Iowa, pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300,000 from the school by creating a fake book wholesaling. The Des Moines Register reported that, as part of a deal with prosecutors, Spaulding "agreed to waive a formal indictment and plead guilty to the charges in front of a United States magistrate judge."

In July 2011, Spaulding and a friend created a company called RVP Wholesale Books in New Hampshire, listing the apartment where Spaulding's friend lived as the company's corporate office. In April 2013, the university reported the $302,177 theft to Dubuque police, telling "reporters that the suspect in the theft was a former employee who'd been fired in the summer of 2012," the Register wrote.


Obituary Note: Peter Underwood

Peter Underwood, "one of Britain's greatest authorities on hauntings" and the author of more than 50 books on ghost-hunting and the paranormal, died November 26, the Guardian reported. He was 91.


Notes

Image of the Day: New World Library Rocks On

In its 38th year, New World Library is staying alive and celebrating. The staff presented founder and publisher Marc Allen (back row, fourth from the right), a former rock 'n roller who has created several albums of music, with a classic Les Paul guitar played and signed by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. The guitar was won at an auction that supported the Dream Foundation, so it was all for a good cause.

'10 Fun, Socially Abnormal Bookstore Activities'

Christa Pierce, whose first children's book, Did You Know That I Love You? (HarperCollins), will be released tomorrow, mischievously suggested "10 fun, socially abnormal bookstore activities."

"If you're like me, you can, and sometimes do, spend hours in the local bookstore running your hands along the spines of books, smelling them, ogling the beautiful artwork and generally being an obsessive fan," she wrote. "But if you're not like me (and all the more normal for it), perhaps you think bookstores and libraries are for quiet browsing and idling away rainy days. This is not so!"


'An Ode to Grandparents Who Give Books'

Stephanie Appell, assistant manager, books for young readers at Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., wrote a Musings blog essay titled "An Ode to Grandparents Who Give Books":

"You're a grown-up shopping for a children's book for the holidays, and I'd really love to help you," Appell observed. "In the front two-thirds of our store, I can't do you much good--not the way my co-workers can. I haven't read a book written for adults in years. The back of the store is my area of expertise....

"My sister and I grew up 300 miles away from our nearest relative and 600 miles away from our grandparents, so Christmas in our family was almost always a small affair, just us and our parents. But our grandparents always seemed to make up for the distance by sending a big box of assorted presents for each of us. There'd be clothes, school supplies, maybe a coloring book or an activity kit, something picked up on their travels.... And then there'd be books.... In each one of those books, there was a bookmark. John Rollins Booksellers, on Westnedge Avenue in Portage, the town with the mall near my grandparents' tiny Michigan village. I had dozens of these bookmarks. John Rollins Booksellers has been closed for some time now, but when I visited my grandparents' house this summer, I found these bookmarks in books all over their study.

"It's only now, during my second holiday shopping season here at Parnassus, that I realize: The books that changed my life were probably put into my grandparents' hands by somebody much like myself. Somebody at John Rollins Booksellers who saw someone like you in the children's section and walked over and asked, 'Is there anything I can help you find?'... So I'm serious when I tell you, I'd really love to help you find the perfect book for the child you're shopping for. I know it could change their life."


Video of the Day: Riley Barks at Wisconsin Historical Society Press

The 2014 Wisconsin Historical Society Press video holiday card features former shelter dog Riley, whose favorite history books include a range of Press titles!



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Martin Short, Margaret Atwood, Peter Yarrow

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Sven Beckert, author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Knopf, $35, 9780375414145).

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Tonight on a repeat of Conan: Martin Short, author of I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend (Harper, $26.99, 9780062309525).

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Tomorrow on a repeat of the Meredith Vieira Show: Robin Roberts, co-author of Everybody's Got Something (Grand Central, $27, 9781455578450).

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Wednesday on a repeat of the Wendy Williams Show: Melissa Joan Hart, author of Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250054982).

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Wednesday on a repeat of the Diane Rehm Show: Michele Raffin, author of The Birds of Pandemonium (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616201364).

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Thursday on a repeat of the Diane Rehm Show: Margaret Atwood, author of Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (Nan A. Talese, $25.95, 9780385539128).

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Thursday on a repeat of Tavis Smiley: Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey, co-authors of Peter, Paul and Mary: 50 Years in Music and Life (Imagine Publishing, $29.95, 9781936140329).


Movies: Americanah; The Martian

David Oyelowo (Selma) will co-star with Lupita Nyong'o (Twelve Years a Slave) in Americanah, based on the novel by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Variety reported. Brad Pitt is producing through Plan B Productions with Nyong'o and Andrea Calderwood. They are currently searching for a writer and director.

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When NASA's Orion spacecraft, which was designed to shuttle astronauts to Mars eventually, made its first successful test flight December 5 from Cape Canaveral, the capsule completed "two orbits of Earth while carrying the front page of the script for The Martian," Ridley Scott's film adaptation of Andy Weir's novel, Entertainment Weekly reported.

"NASA has been really involved and incredibly generous in the process of making this movie," said producer Simon Kinberg. EW also noted that the doodles and commentary on the title page "are the handiwork of Scott (who's currently shooting the movie in Hungary)."


Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcovers
The Happiest People in the World: A Novel by Brock Clarke (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616201111). "This satiric treatment of weighty topics, including religious intolerance, provincialism, and the American obsession with Homeland Security, ranges from a backwater in Denmark to a backwater in upstate New York. It follows the plight of a hapless Danish cartoonist who unleashes chaos in his life by authoring a politically incorrect cartoon of Muhammad. Put into a witness protection program and improbably installed as a guidance counselor in the local high school, he is at the mercy of bumbling agents of the CIA and Homeland Security, who seem to be feuding and hiding under every rock. His first time observations of America and Americans are priceless." --Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Conn.

The Heart Has Its Reasons: A Novel by Maria Duenas (Atria, $26, 9781451668339). "Blanca Perea is a college professor in Madrid. Her life seems perfect--she is successful and happy, with a husband and two grown sons. When her husband announces that he is in love with another woman and is leaving her, Blanca's perfect world is shattered. Desperate, she flees Madrid and takes a position at a university near San Francisco. It is her job to probe into the history of a long-deceased writer and former professor, Andres Fontana. As Blanca immerses herself in Fontana's life, she becomes captivated by the things that drove him--his ambitions, his relationships, and his ill-fated lost love. As she untangles hidden agendas and lies, Blanca finds a strength that enables her to pursue a new life with new possibilities." --Nancy Nelson, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, Ore.

Paperback
Alphabet: A Novel by Kathy Page (Biblioasis, $15.95, 9781927428931). "This brutal novel of a young murderer's imprisonment, his attempt at rehabilitation, and his struggles to remain feeling like a human while caged like an animal is jarring. Page is an amazingly talented writer and her unflinching look at what makes us human and what we deserve in life will be relevant for ages." --Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H.

For Ages 4 to 8
And Away We Go! by Migy (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780805099010). "Finally, Fox's balloon has arrived! Now he can fly to the moon! All he needs to do is pick up a few things: friends and snacks and saxophones--for entertainment on the moon--but UH OH! Does this balloon seem heavy to you? I love this colorful story with its catchy refrain: 'Away we go!' Whether or not Fox makes it to the moon, he's sure having a fun adventure!" --Emily Henry, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Honeydew

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman (Little, Brown, $25 hardcover, 9780316297226, January 6, 2015)

Edith Pearlman's short stories have often been compared with John Updike's, and the comparison is apt. Born in 1936, Pearlman has published four collections. Her 2011 collection, Binocular Vision, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. What makes her so good? A glimpse into Honeydew's fictional world provides some answers.

For years, Pearlman has populated her fictional town, Godolphin, a "leafy wedge of Boston," with great characters. She revisits it often, as in "Honeydew," included in The Best American Short Stories 2012. Besides Coccidae droppings (also known as honeydew), it's about a headmistress at a private girl's school, Caldicott Academy, who must confront her pregnancy by the married father of one of her students. In "Blessed Harry," Mr. Flaxbaum, who teaches Latin and coaches the chess club at Caldicott, has been invited to give a lecture in England--or, unknown to Mr. Flaxbaum, maybe he hasn't. And there's Rennie, who runs the Forget Me Not antique shop in Godolphin, who shows up in two stories.

Rereading each of these 20 intricate gems reveals their meticulous structure. Every story is brief, no longer than 20 pages or so. The shortest, "The Descent of Happiness," is barely five. Its narrator, Emma, looks back on a visit her father, a country doctor, made to an elderly lawyer friend, with young Emma in tow. She always feared the lawyer's dog, James Marshall. On this day the dog barks loudly, Emma flees, falls. Face on the ground, she looks closely at a maple leaf's intricacies before being swept up and hugged by her father. That one moment is the whole story, one that Emma can't forget: "I have never been so happy since." Many of Pearlman's stories, like Joyce's, end with an epiphany.

Pearlman says she likes "solitaries, oddities, charlatans, and children. My characters are secretive," like the repressed middle-aged Gabrielle in the intriguingly titled "What the Ax Forgets the Tree Remembers." That story surprises with its quiet journey from the horrors of female circumcision suffered by Somali women to the joy and love of lesbian desire. All of the powerful emotions are depicted in a rich, controlled prose, one of the earmarks of a Pearlman story. Whether it be for carefully dissecting her characters' feelings or observing tiny details, Pearlman reveals her acute eye time and time again: one character's sadness is "always wedged under her breast like a doorstop," and a man has "teeth like cubes of cheddar."

The collection has a distinct, Winesburg, Ohio feel to it. Like Sherwood Anderson's classic, Honeydew is a portrait of America, only this time it's the East Coast in the 21st century, as painted by one of our finest literary artists. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: In the tradition of Joyce, Chekhov, Updike and Munro, Pearlman's surprising, memorable stories are joys to behold.


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