Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 17, 2015

Flatiron Books: The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Nti-Asare-Tubbs

Candlewick Press: In the Half Room by Carson Ellis

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island by David Goodner, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Candlewick Press: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Shadow Mountain: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B Moore


Pannell Awards Honor Anderson's Bookshop, Once Upon a Time


Winners have been announced for this year's Pannell Awards, given by the Women's National Book Association to recognize bookstores "that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading." This year's winner in the general bookstore category is Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., and the children's specialty store winner is Once Upon a Time in Montrose, Calif.

"We are absolutely beyond thrilled to win the Pannell Award," said Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshop. "Our entire staff is so excited. We were in incredibly good company with the other award nominees."

Maureen Palacios echoed that reaction: "We are utterly delighted to have been chosen for the 2015 award. The entire staff of Once Upon a Time, the young-at-heart readers and the community that has continued to support us for 49 years all share in this prestigious honor. Thank you!"

The winners will be honored on Friday, May 29, during BookExpo America's Children's Book and Author Breakfast, where each will receive a check for $1,000 and a piece of original art from a children's book illustrator.

Sharjah Book Authority: Publishers Conference, November 1st - 3rd 2020

ABA Indies Choice, E.B. White Winners Announced

Winners of the 2015 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards, as voted by independent booksellers across the U.S., have been announced.

"This year's winners and honor award recipients are representative of the outstanding titles hand-sold at ABA member stores nationwide," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "We congratulate their authors and illustrators and look forward to honoring them at this year's Celebration of Bookselling and Author Awards Lunch at BEA."
This year's Indies Choice Book Awards winners are:

Adult Fiction: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
Adult Nonfiction: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (Metropolitan)
Adult Debut: The Martian by Andy Weir (Crown)
Young Adult: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Winners of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards are:
Middle Reader: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Picture Book: Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)

Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer will receive the Indie Champion Award, which "is presented to the author or illustrator who booksellers feel has the best sense of the importance of independent bookstores to their communities at large and the strongest personal commitment to foster and support the mission and passion of independent booksellers."

Indie booksellers annually select three classic picture books for induction into the Picture Book Hall of Fame. This year's inductees are:

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Viking Books for Young Readers)
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins)
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (HarperCollins)

For a full list of winners, including honor recipients, click here. All authors will be honored at the Celebration of Bookselling Author Awards Luncheon May 28 at BookExpo America.

University of Minnesota Press: My Life in the Purple Kingdom by Brownmark and Cynthia M Uhrich

Time 100: 'Most Influential' Book People

Time magazine released its annual list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." Among the authors showcased:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Radhika Jones wrote: "Adichie writes of the complex aftermath of Nigeria's colonial history and her nation's rise to prominence in an era when immigration to the West no longer means a one-way ticket. With her viral TEDxEuston talk, 'We Should All Be Feminists,' she found her voice as cultural critic. (You can hear it rising midway through Beyoncé's woman-power anthem 'Flawless.') She sets her love stories amid civil war (Half of a Yellow Sun) and against a backdrop of racism and migration (Americanah). But her greatest power is as a creator of characters who struggle profoundly to understand their place in the world."

Haruki Murakami. Yoko Ono wrote: "He is a writer of great imagination and human sympathy, one who has enthralled millions of readers by building fictional worlds that are uniquely his. Murakami-san has a singular vision, as informed by pop culture as it is by deep channels of Japanese tradition. And he's a Japanese writer--while Murakami-san spends much of his time in the U.S. and has earned acclaim internationally, he and his books are very much a product of Japan. In recent years, as the government in Japan has become more conservative, Murakami-san has become a valuable voice for peace."

Storey Publishing: Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted by Kristi Nelson

Obituary Note: Barbara Strauch

Reporter and editor Barbara Strauch, who "wrote two books about the brain and directed health and science coverage for the New York Times for a decade," died Wednesday, the Times reported. She was 63. Strauch was the author of The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids and Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind.

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Image of the Day: Weed Reading

Music, a dramatic reading and lots of authors were just some of the reasons the house was packed to hear author/journalist Bruce Barcott at the Treehouse Cafe on Bainbridge Island, Wash. Barcott, whose Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America (Time Home Entertainment), is currently the top seller at host Eagle Harbor Book Co., also gave out "legal prizes" to audience members in a trivia contest gleaned from his book.

Pictured (l.-r.): Suzanne Selfors, Jonathan Evison, Susan Wiggs, Barcott, Claire Dederer, Carol Cassella and Dylan Tomine.

California Bookstores: Opt-into CALIBA's Fall Email Marketing Campaign - Free to You!

National Poetry Month: White House Workshop and Reading

As part of National Poetry Month, Yale poetry professor Elizabeth Alexander will lead a student poetry workshop at the White House today and read from her new memoir, The Light of the World (Grand Central, $26, 9781455599875). Forty local students will attend the workshop, which is closed to the press. President Obama will speak prior to Alexander's reading, and the First Lady will give closing remarks.

Alexander wrote and recited her poem "Praise Song for the Day" for President Obama's 2009 inauguration. She has written five books of poems, a play and two essay collections. Her memoir focuses on the sudden death of her husband, artist and chef Ficre Ghebreyesus, at age 50, and reflects on her own half-century milestone.

Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda

Bethany Beach Books Catches a Buzz(feed)

In February, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, Del., launched its Book Drop subscription box program, in which the store's booksellers hand-select one of their favorite new titles based on a subscriber's reading preferences, "pack it up all nice & cute and send it your way" on a monthly basis.
When the bookshop began receiving numerous e-mails this week concerning the Book Drop and international shipping, they learned the service had been featured on Buzzfeed's "Top 20 Geeky Subscription Boxes You Need Right Now." Delmarva Now reported that Bethany Beach Books "was completely blown away when their subscription box that comes out of their little 2,000-square-foot bookstore in quiet little Bethany Beach had been selected and advertised to a global audience of more than 200 million. Suddenly, the subscribers started pouring in from all over the country and even abroad."

After the first 12 hours, the Book Drop was reaching 26 states and three countries, "has since tripled their book ordering, and has had to push their delivery date to the first of every month to properly provide the quality service they pride themselves on," Delmarva Now wrote. 

Booksellers' Dream: The Rocky Mountain Land Library

Jeff Lee and Ann Martin have worked at Denver's Tattered Cover Bookstore for more than two decades, "squirreling away their paychecks in the pursuit of a single dream: a rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements the printed word and untamed nature," the New York Times reported in a piece about the couple's determination to found the Rocky Mountain Land Library at Buffalo Peaks, an abandoned ranch about two hours from Denver.

The project is "striking in its ambition: a sprawling research institution situated on a ranch at 10,000 feet above sea level, outfitted with 32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists' studios, dormitories and a dining hall," the Times wrote, noting that Lee and Martin plan to begin renovations this summer, though construction will be limited, "as they have gathered less than $120,000 in outside funds. An estimated $5 million is needed to build out their dream."

"It's everything, really," Martin said of the project. "It's not really about us. It's something for Colorado, for this region."

"The connection to nature--we know this place will give that to people. Even if they don't pick up a book," Lee observed, adding: "We're just anxious for it to happen. We have a strong feeling of all the potential that's bottled up."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Grazer, Fishman on OWN's Super Soul Sunday

Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, authors of A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781476730752).

TV: The Clan of the Cave Bear

Pierre Morel (Taken) will direct the pilot for Lifetime's The Clan of the Cave Bear, based on the first book in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series, reported. The project, from Fox 21 TV Studios, Lionsgate TV, Imagine TV and Allison Shearmur Productions, stars Millie Brady, Johnny Ward and Hal Ozsan. Linda Woolverton (Alice in Wonderland) wrote the pilot and is executive producing with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Allison Shearmur, Francie Calfo and Auel.

Movies: Every Secret Thing

The first trailer has been released for Every Secret Thing, based on the novel by Laura Lippman and directed by Amy J. Berg (Deliver Us from Evil, West of Memphis), reported. The cast includes Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Danielle Macdonald, Nate Parker and Common. Adapted by Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money, Enough Said), Every Secret Thing will be released May 15.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Literary; Chautauqua

Shortlists have been announced in six categories for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards, which include the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000), PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000), PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000), PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000), PEN Open Book Award ($5,000), PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000), PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000), PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000) and PEN Translation Prize ($3,000). Winners will named May 13, with the exception of the debut fiction, essay and Open Book categories, which will be announced June 8 at PEN's Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City. You can view the complete shortlists here.


Finalists have been selected for the 2015 Chautauqua Prize, which "draws upon Chautauqua Institution's considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts." The winner, who will be announced in May, receives $7,500 and travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua, the educational and cultural center in southwestern New York state. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding (Gotham/Avery)
Byrd by Kim Church (Dzanc Books)
The Bully of Order by Brian Hart (HarperCollins)
Euphoria by Lily King (Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly)
Redeployment by Phil Klay (Penguin)
All Eyes Are Upon Us by Jason Sokol (Basic Books)
The Scatter Here Is too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Harper)
The Witch by Jean Thompson (Blue Rider Press)

Midwest Connections May Picks

From the Midwest Booksellers Association, three recent Midwest Connections Picks. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal:

Beneath the Bonfire: Short Stories by Nickolas Butler (Thomas Dunne, $23.99, 9781250039835). "From the bestselling and award-winning author of Shotgun Lovesongs, a dazzling collection of stories sure to surprise readers as often as it moves them."

Midwest Maize by Cynthia Clampitt (University of Illinois Press, $19.95, 9780252080579). "A vital crop's impact on human history, industry, and eating."

Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus (University of Minnesota Press, 9780816683024). "A disturbing call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette sends seventeen-year-old Francie far from her new home in New York into a tangle of mysteries. Ditching an audition in a Manhattan theater, Francie travels to a remote lake in the northwoods where her aunts' neighbors are 'dropping like flies' from strange accidents. But are they accidents?"

Book Brahmin: David Walton

photo: Chuck Zovko

David Walton is the author of Quintessence and the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel Terminal Mind. He lives near Philadelphia, Pa., with his wife, seven children and three hamsters. By day, he works on classified defense technology, which not even the hamsters are allowed to know about. Walton's fiction explores themes that skirt the edges of science and religion, such as human origins, the certainty of death and the nature of the soul. His newest novel is Superposition, just published by Pyr.

On your nightstand now:

Literally on the furniture next to my bed at this moment: The Widow's House by Daniel Abraham; The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu); Breach Zone by Myke Cole; Drift by Jon McGoran; The Lost World of Adam and Eve by John Walton.

Favorite book when you were a child:

"When you were a child" is a long time! Eventually it was J.R.R. Tolkien's The Return of the King. Before that, it was probably The High King by Lloyd Alexander, or maybe A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Your top five authors:

My first three have to be Orson Scott Card, Nancy Kress and David Brin. These are the authors I was devouring when I was first discovering science fiction as an active genre and trying my hand at writing. More recently, the authors whose books I'm most likely to buy, read quickly and press into other people's hands are Daniel Abraham, Robert Charles Wilson and Neal Stephenson. (Yeah, I know that's six. So shoot me.)

Book you've faked reading:

I honestly can't remember a time.

Book you're an evangelist for:

At the moment, the book I'm most recommending to others is Defenders by Will McIntosh, a fascinating SF novel that features humans, an alien race and an intelligent artificial race that humans create to fight the aliens. It follows the shifts of alliances and enmities as each tries to understand, and yet fears, the others.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson.

Book that changed your life:

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Really. I grew up thinking evolution was a ludicrous farce, and actually reading the original (as well as a number of follow-up books on the subject) turned things upside down for me for a while. (I discuss this experience and how it affected my views of religion and science quite a bit on my blog.)

Favorite line from a book:

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." --The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Which character you most relate to:

I pondered this one for a long time. The question seems to ask what character I think is most like me, and I had trouble thinking of one. Then it occurred to me that this is because I don't read fiction to find people like me. I read fiction to see through the eyes of people who are utterly unlike me, to experience things I would never experience on my own, and thus to understand life from many other perspectives.

In that vein, I'll go with the character Asher Lev, from the novel My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Asher is not like me at all: he's a Hasidic Jew living in New York City, and an emotional firebrand driven by his passion for drawing and art, which throws him into intense conflict with his family, religion and culture. Asher is nothing like me in background, interests or personality, and yet I can't remember relating more strongly to any other character as I did to Asher Lev in this incredible book.

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

I'd love to read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series again for the first time. I read those books when I was pretty young, and they were full of startling revelations that made shivers run up my spine. I'd love to go back to them without knowing the secrets.

Book Review

Review: The Invention of Fire

The Invention of Fire by Bruce Holsinger (Morrow, $26.99 hardcover, 9780062356451, April 21, 2015)

Bruce Holsinger's A Burnable Book introduced readers to unlikely medieval  detectives John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer. Fans will be pleased to know that the sequel, The Invention of Fire, revisits 14th-century London a year later, as the intrepid scholarly sleuths ply their deduction skills again.

A medieval scholar, Holsinger puts his knowledge of the period's history and literature to use in this tale of murder and intrigue in 1386, during the corrupt reign of Richard II. The book opens on a night scene of a gong farmer and his son working by lantern-light to clean the muck of human excrement that has clogged up at the Long Dropper privy, next to the Thames. They come upon a "mound of ruined men," all dead. The next day, the renowned and well-connected poet Master Gower is summoned to the Priory of St. Bartholomew to look at the bodies, nearly naked, 16 of them. A surgeon, recently trained in Bologna, cuts into the back of one man to extract a "spherical object about the diameter of a half noble." These men, he tells Gower, were shot with a "handgonne." It's a word new to Gower but one that would "shape and fill the weeks to come."

Gower visits his good friend Chaucer to ask if he might have heard about a group of strangers who recently came to London. Chaucer suggests that Gower talk to the warden of Aldgate, one of the many gates connected to the wall that surrounds the 330-acre city of London and its 15,000 inhabitants. Throughout the course of his walk around the wall, Gower learns about the recent sighting of a party of Welshman. Could those be the men who met their fate in the privy? Who killed them and why?

The game is afoot and Gower is our learned guide to all things medieval. Little by little we become familiar with this enclosed world and its perimeters, including a visit to Calais and the lives of the people within, high and low, where and how they live--as well as the unscrupulous court and military that rules everyone, making Gower's inquiries about murdered men a risky undertaking. Authenticity is the hallmark of this world Holsinger so vividly brings to life, and his use of period language and words (wherry, groats) adds another fascinating layer of believability.

Ominously, the "handgonne" takes center stage in this mystery from more than 600 years ago. As William Snell, chief armorer to His Royal Highness the King, tells Stephen Marsh, a master of the smithy and foundry: "We are after something new.... A maximum of delivery with a minimum of effort.... Deadly efficiency" in a gun the "size of a ram's cock." Investigating another attack with this new weapon in a wooded area, "savaged as if by some high-grazing herd of pigs, feeding on branches instead of roots," Gower and Chaucer are confronted by none other than the Duke of Gloucester. Could he be involved? Could a possible uprising against the king be the reason these men were killed? Holsinger's medieval mystery featuring two famous writers succeeds on every level and will have readers hoping for more. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: This sequel featuring the unlikely detective team of John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer is a terrific period mystery.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: O, Miami Poetry Festival--'I Want to Go to There'

I'm reading Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language by the brilliant Clive James, who can enlighten, challenge and irritate me, sometimes within the same passage: "And anyway, like abstract painting, abstract poetry extended the range over which incompetence would fail to declare itself. That was the charm for its author."

In the book's introduction, James observes that Poetry magazine "has always been a force in the world of poetry, even for those of us who believe a poem should get beyond the world of poetry if it can, and get itself heard in a wider world." I'd like to borrow that idea for a moment and mash it up, in what probably amounts to poetic sacrilege, with a Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) catchphrase from the TV show 30 Rock:

A poem should get beyond the world of poetry if it can, and I want to go to there.

"There" for me this year would be the O, Miami Poetry Festival. The ambitious goal of its 30 events and 23 projects during National Poetry Month is to "attempt to deliver a poem to all 2.6 million-plus residents of Miami-Dade County."

photo: ©gesischilling

I'm spending a very pleasant April vicariously attending the festival, mostly through entertaining blog and Facebook updates. The fun began with a poetic boat ride up the Miami River on April 1 and will end April 30 with a teen poetry and music competition.

Of course I love the fact that there is an indie bookseller connection. Books & Books has been a long-time supporter of the festival as one of its official sponsors. On April 12, the bookseller hosted "Poetry in the Park," which drew hundreds of people to "the world's biggest poetry reading," headlined by Kay Ryan and Jamaal May. O, Miami's blog noted: "As the poets read, strangers shared their food, wine and chocolates on the lawn. Listening to the poems of May and Ryan, one finds it easy to believe that, as Ryan writes, 'it would be/ a good trade: life/ for the thing made'--unless all days were like Poetry in the Park, which was both."

The bounty of alternatives O, Miami offers to help poems "get beyond the world of poetry" is amazing. Last week I wrote about poetry and fun, mentioning just one of the festival's events and projects--"Murinals." Here's a small sampling of what else is going on:
Ode to the Code: A ZipOde poetry contest that transforms ZIP codes into an occasion for poetry began in March, with WLRN and O, Miami accepting odes to South Florida ZIP codes in the form of the code itself: five lines, with each line containing the number of words designated by the ZIP numbers. (For example, 3 words, 3 words, 1 word, 3 words, 9 words.)

Cease & Exist: O, Miami teamed up with attorney and poet Quinn Smith to create a project that invites the public to send "cease and exist" letters from the law firm of William, Carlos & Williams to individuals living un-poetic lives.
Wallace Freezins: Artist Randy Burman's project puts South Florida poets on ice cream wrappers. Throughout April, Wallace Freezins (played by local actor/comedian Randy Garcia) is appearing at Miami-Dade events selling his signature Poetry Pops.

The Mural as Ode: Artist Steve Powers painted a mural--"expansive and bold; a color palate of sea-green, orange and sharp black pops from the stark white wall"--in South Beach, a new commission from O, Miami.

The Outdoor MFA: A series of writing workshops that "refuse to accept that sitting around a table is the only way to learn how to write." Nonfiction writer Nathan Deuel is leading two "walking workshops" through Miami neighborhoods, while poet Michael Hettich takes his two classes onto the water for Kayak Poetry Workshops.

Manual Cinema: The world premiere of a new performance, based on poet Federico García Lorca's play El Divan de Tamarit, by Chicago-based shadow puppetry group Manual Cinema is set for April 23-25.  

Favorite Poem Project: Since we began with a Poetry magazine reference, it seems only fair to end with the Poetry Foundation's invitation to Floridians to share their favorite classic or contemporary poem about the state. Up to six poems will be selected for a final video mini-documentary series to air later in the year.
"O, Miami tests the limits of what's possible when circulating poems among a community," said festival director P. Scott Cunningham. "Miamians should watch out for poetry on buildings, on the river, in the mail and even in the bathroom."

I don't know if Clive James would approve. Perhaps not, but that's okay. The poetry room is spacious enough to accommodate an infinite range of guests. And who wouldn't want to go to there? --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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