Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 20, 2015

Tor Books: Burn the Dark: Malus Domestica #1 by SA Hunt

Dressed for a Dance in the Snow: Women's Voices from the Gulag by Monika Zgustova, translated by Julie Jones

Running Press Adult: Very Modern Mantras: Daily Affirmations for Daily Aggravations by Dan Zevin

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet


Shakespeare and Co.'s New Look Online & in Store

This is a busy year for Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France. According to Linda Fallon, the head buyer for the city's most famous English-language bookstore, the store launched a new website in February and has altered its layout. The new website was in the works for more than a year and greatly expands the store's e-commerce offerings. When ordering books online, Fallon said, customers can customize their orders by asking for an inscription in the book, a poem, even a spritz of perfume.

In a related move, Shakespeare and Company is also creating a "message in a bottle" letterbox in the store, where customers can leave notes, pictures and poems. On its blog, the store noted: "We'll then harvest these messages and slip them between the pages of books destined to be whisked off to readers across the globe, creating a worldwide paper exchange between literary voyagers and lovers of the written word." See some of the messages here.

In the tightly packed bricks-and-mortar store, to facilitate movement, a second door to the outside has been opened and some cash registers were removed while others were rearranged. Before those changes, Fallon explained, the front of the store could easily become overcrowded. And even with the changes, staff are sometimes forced to limit the number of people who can enter the shop at the same time on particularly busy days.

Last but not least, Shakespeare and Company will have a cafe of its own by the end of this summer. The cafe will be housed in an adjacent building that was once a garage, and will serve food, coffee and wine. Fallon reported that there are plans to offer full breakfast and lunch menus, with drinks in the evenings. --Alex Mutter

Berkley Books: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Notes from London

After a decade's absence, the London Book Fair returned last week to the Olympia exhibition center, into space that featured two large halls with soaring iron-and-glass ceilings, a marked difference from the bunker-like Earls Court Exhibition Centre, which has been closed permanently. Exhibitors on the main floors were bathed in sunlight most of the fair last week, and the balconies had amazing views.

The first morning, many fair-goers puzzled over the layout but soon got their bearings. Still, for the rest of the fair, some continued to wonder about one of the four color-coded staircases that led from the main floors of the Olympia's Grand Hall and National Hall to the mezzanines. As Mike Shatzkin of Idea Logical put it: "It's the biggest controversy of the show, and the media isn't reporting it!" The problem: most of the Pink Staircase was actually purple. A few people held up foot traffic pondering the color scheme, but otherwise the hue and cry had a negligible effect.


During a session at the fair, the U.K.'s Booksellers Association discussed plans for two upcoming campaigns: Independent Bookshop Week and Books Are My Bag.

Independent Bookshop Week has undergone both a name change and a scheduling change. Formerly called Independent Booksellers Week, the campaign's name was changed to put the focus squarely on high street bookstores, and this year it will take place from June 20-27, to guarantee that Scottish and Irish schools are in term. There will be a week's worth of activities and promotions, including the announcement of the IBW Book Award winners, National Reading Group Day and a Bookshop Crawl on June 27.

Jo James, the author and events coordinator for Books Are My Bag, said that last year, sales at shops that participated in the campaigned were typically up by at least 3% over shops that did not participate. The campaign's total Twitter reach, she added, was more than 75 million, and some 150 authors supported the campaign. This year's campaign will see much of the same, but with new merchandise, including a Books Are My Bag calendar and a Books Are My Bag mug, and a stronger focus on bookshop parties and in-store events. This campaign will launch on October 10.


"Integrating a strong non-book offer can help keep a bookstore alive," advised Abel Dos Santos, the non-book buyer at the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road in London, during a session called Non-Book Products at the fair. "If you can get the offer right, non-book can play a huge role in supporting the overall success and profitability of a bookstore."

He pinpointed three core categories of non-book products that he felt all bookshops should carry year-round: gift items, including greeting cards, gift wrap and bags; stationery, including notebooks, journals, planners and pens; and plush toys, especially licensed ones. Other non-book categories, he said, are up to the buyer's discretion and can fluctuate throughout the year.

Perhaps the most important thing about selling non-book products, Dos Santos suggested, is getting displays right. "If you don't attract the eye, it won't sell," he said. "We want to take all the effort out of the customer looking at product and buying product: see it, pick it up, buy it."

Adam Hewson, the head of book buying for the Royal Horticultural Society, also offered some non-book advice during the same panel. If a bookseller is considering stocking a new type of non-book product, he or she should never do so tentatively. "If you're going to go down that road, you have to do it with authority," Hewson said. "You have to do it with pride. Don't be tempted to do it with one or two items and see how it goes. Be bold, be proud, tell people what you're doing. You could become the destination for greeting cards, art supplies or whatever else in your town."

Hewson also asked if booksellers could get rid of the term "non-book product," saying, "It's condescending. It automatically makes us think it's something that we don't really want to sell. We should be proud to sell things in our shop."


David Kent, with Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko.

The happiest person at the fair had to be David Kent, former president and CEO of HarperCollins Canada, who was making part of what he calls his "gratitude trip," which as he explains on his gratitude trip website, involves visiting "those teachers, mentors, writers, colleagues, and friends who, knowingly or not, have given me a life far richer and joyous than I would have ever dreamed, for one simple purpose: to say 'thank you.' "

Tanner and better rested than just about everyone else at the fair, David said was delighted to see and catch up with many friends. He sounded truly ambivalent about whether he would return to the business eventually, but we hope he does, if only to be sure to have one very cheerful veteran publisher around. --Alex Mutter and John Mutter

BINC: Double Your Donation with PRH

Time 100: More Influential Book People

In Friday's edition, we reported that Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" list this year featured world-renowned authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Haruki Murakami. Time's list included several others who have written books:

Ina Garten, author of the bestselling Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, including Make It Ahead
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Misty Copeland, author of Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina
Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Malala Yousafzai, author of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Reid Hoffman, author of The Start-Up of You
Rudolph Tanzi, co-author of Super Brain the forthcoming Super Genes
Charles Koch, author of the forthcoming Good Profit

Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters

Obituary Note: T.H. Tsien

T.H. Tsien, a renowned scholar of Chinese books and printing who "risked his life to smuggle tens of thousands of rare volumes to safety amid the Japanese occupation of Shanghai," died April 9, the New York Times reported. He was 105. Tsien was also the author of many books, including Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books & Inscriptions and Collected Writings on Chinese Cultural History.

Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Serenade for Nadia
by Zülfü Livaneli
trans. by Brendan Freely

In Istanbul, Maya Duran, a young single mother working for the university, is asked to accompany Maximilian Wagner, an elderly Harvard professor, during his short stay in the country. She gradually learns why he has come back to Istanbul after 60 years. In Serenade for Nadia, Turkish author Zülfü Livaneli uses the true sinking of a Jewish refugee ship off the coast of Turkey during World War II to tell Max's story. Judith Gurewich, publisher of Other Press, bought it immediately. "I couldn't believe my luck! This novel does exactly what I am looking for as a publisher, and rarely find--a gripping story that manages to transcend what I see as the limitations of a historical novel, yet at the same time taught me so many things I didn't know." Her luck has resulted in the heartbreaking, and utterly compelling, Serenade for Nadia. --Marilyn Dahl

(Other Press, $17.99 paper, 9781635420166, March 3, 2020)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Reading Re-enactors

Today, April 20, is Patriots' Day in parts of New England, the day the first battles of the American Revolution, in Lexington and Concord, are honored and the Boston Marathon is held. In Concord, where the "shot heard round the world" was fired, there are parades, commemorations and often (controlled) musket and cannon fire. The town is full of re-enactors in Colonial garb; several of them browsed in the Concord Bookshop on Saturday. Naturally, they were immersed in the history section.

Cash Mob: river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

The river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y. "was flooded with customers April 9 as a result of a student-run cash mob," the Oswegonian reported. Oswego State creative writing assistant professor Donna Steiner helped orchestrate the event for the second straight year as part of her Literary Citizenship class, which "is meant to provide students with the tools to become successful, active writers in the community." Approximately 150 customers participated.

"The students get experience in planning an event, which is a really big thing for writers, because you plan your own readings," Steiner said. "So these are all aspiring writers and creative people, so it pertains to what their future looks like and it's just kind of a cool activity that benefits everyone. Everyone that's involved gets something out of it."

Connections formed during the event "don't only flow one way," the Oswegonian noted, adding that the bookstore "has long been involved with the campus and the creative writing department, hosting readings, art shows and release parties for the Great Lake Review, Oswego State's student-run literary magazine."

Bookstore co-owner Bill Riley has spoken to classes on campus and hosted a few classes held in the shop. "When we opened the store 17 years ago, we wanted to create a space that was conducive to everyone," he said. "Inclusive, not exclusive, that would be a place where town and gown could meet. And we think that in over 17 years, we've accomplished that."

He also observed that the success of cash mobs is largely due to increased interest in independent businesses: "The other thing that's contributing to the viability of that is this whole 'buy local, shop local' movement that's been very active for years now, but has really begun to take hold. We really have seen it over the last five years that people understand the economic impact on supporting locally owned, independent businesses in the community or anywhere. It works."

Innovative Ideas from Bookseller Brainstorming Sessions

Bookselling This Week featured "an array of great ideas to help foster bookstores as hubs of creativity, community and activity, all gleaned from the bookseller discussion groups at Winter Institute 10." The brainstorming sessions were held following Steven Johnson’s plenary talk, "How We Got to Now." BTW organized the booksellers' ideas by the following categories:

  • Take inspiration from your community
  • Use technology
  • Make the most of social media
  • Brainstorm and perform market research with staff
  • Build on "slow hunches" 
  • Monetize the bookstore experience
  • Ensure your store's big changes stick
  • Other ways to think outside the box

Personnel Changes at MIT Press, Scribner

David Goldberg is joining the MIT Press as sales manager next month. He has been sales and marketing director at David R. Godine, Publisher.


At Scribner:

Kate Lloyd has been promoted to deputy director of publicity.

Alexsis Johnson has been promoted to associate publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Toni Morrison on Fresh Air

This morning on Morning Joe: Judith Miller, author of The Story: A Reporter's Journey (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476716015). She will also appear on MSNBC's All in with Chris Hayes.


Today on Fresh Air: Toni Morrison, author of God Help the Child: A Novel (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307594174).


Today on Diane Rehm: Joseph Stiglitz, author of The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (Norton, $28.95, 9780393248579).


Today on the Meredith Vieira Show: Nick Cannon, author of Neon Aliens Ate My Homework: And Other Poems (Scholastic, $14.99, 9780545722810).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (Harper, $26.99, 9780062333810).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Dan Churchill, author of DudeFood: A Guy's Guide to Cooking Kick-Ass Food (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781476796895). He will also appear on Watch What Happens Live.


Tomorrow on Fox's Shepard Smith Reporting: Michael Golden, author of Unlock Congress: Reform the Rules, Restore the System (Why Not Books, $23.95, 9780984991983).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Nora Pouillon, author of My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today (Knopf, $26.95, 9780385350754).


Tomorrow on the View: Dana Perino, author of And the Good News Is...: Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side (Twelve, $26, 9781455584901).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Brian Grazer, co-author of A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781476730752).

Movie: Their Finest Hour & a Half

Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay) and Bill Nighy (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) will star in Their Finest Hour and a Half, based on Lissa Evans's 2009 novel, reported. Lone Scherfig (An Education) will direct.

"Gaby Chiappe's skillful adaptation of Lissa Evans's brilliantly comic and moving wartime novel is a stunning film debut," said Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, which developed and co-finances the film.

Books & Authors

Awards: L.A. Times; Minnesota Book

Winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which were announced Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, are:

Biography: Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (Viking)
Current interest: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs (Scribner)
Fiction: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster)
First fiction: Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press)
Graphic novel: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)
History: The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking)
Mystery/thriller: Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman (Norton)
Poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
Science and technology: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Holt)
Young adult literature: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children's)
Lifetime achievement: T.C. Boyle
Innovator's award: LeVar Burton
Winners were honored Saturday for the Minnesota Book Awards, a project of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. This year's recipients are:

Children's literature: Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
General nonfiction: Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life by Nancy Koester (Wm. B. Eerdmans)
Genre fiction: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen (Bethany House)
Memoir/creative nonfiction: Tailings: A Memoir by Kaethe Schwehn (Cascade Books)
Minnesota: Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women's Movement by Lori Sturdevant (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Novel and short story: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Riverhead Books)
Poetry: Dangerous Goods by Sean Hill (Milkweed)
Young people's literature: West of the Moon by Margi Preus (Amulet Books)
Kay Sexton Award: Mary François Rockcastle
Book Artist Award: Harriet Bart, in collaboration with Philip Gallo and Jill Jevne

Book Review

Review: God Help the Child

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Knopf, $24.95 hardcover, 9780307594174, April 21, 2015)

Toni Morrison (Home), winner of a Pulitzer and a Nobel Prize in Literature, satisfies her fans with a searing, lyrical story about the power of childhood trauma.

God Help the Child centers on a woman who has left behind the "dumb countryfied name" Lula Ann to become Bride, "with nothing anybody needs to say before or after that one memorable syllable," a successful California career woman with her own cosmetics line but who wears no makeup. Her mother was a light-skinned, "high yellow" woman dismayed by and unable to love her blue-black daughter, but Bride grows up to repossess her skin tone and every other aspect of her beauty.

From a childhood marked by rejection and terrible crimes, Bride remakes herself as an object of attraction and a financial success, but as the novel opens, she faces dual blows: her mysterious live-in boyfriend, Booker, leaves, and a prisoner is paroled with whom she shares an old bond. God Help the Child reveals these complicated paths in alternating perspectives, most frequently Bride's first-person voice but also that of her friend Brooklyn; her mother (who taught Lula Ann to call her Sweetness, rather than Mama or anything else that would tie them too closely together); the new parolee; and a child Bride meets along the way. Eventually, after several oblique glances, Booker himself comes fully into sight, but his perspective is told only in the third person, as Bride goes looking for answers and Lula Ann threatens to reemerge.

Even Morrison's minor characters are complex, intriguing people deserving of closer inspection, and as Bride's journey acquires a momentum of its own, the magnetism of her troubles pulls the reader along. She suffers the coldness of both her parents, a harrowing court case, an assault, a car accident and a fire; but it is the traumas of her childhood that most torment Bride, and, as becomes apparent, the same is true for Booker. In the end, healing comes in a surprising form.

Beautifully composed in a variety of distinct voices and covering a range of family concerns, God Help the Child employs a hint of magical realism and explores issues of race and women's lives familiar to fans of Morrison's fiction. The story of Bride's life and trials is sensual, both delicate and strong, poetic and heavy with sex, love and pain, exemplifying a revered author's unfailing talent. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Toni Morrison brings a keen perception and lyrical voice to the veiled but lasting effects of childhood trauma.

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