Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 23, 2015

Workman Publishing: So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper

Candlewick Press: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Scholastic Press: Illegal: A Disappeared Novel, Volume 2 by Francisco X. Stork

Tor Books: Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive, 4) by Brandon Sanderson

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Quotation of the Day

Recommending Books: 'Birthright of Every Zealous Reader'

"I am not alone in my desire to press a good book into someone's hands. We employ a host of talented booksellers who, like me, believe that recommending books is the birthright of every zealous reader. No matter how much we love a book, the experience of reading it isn't complete until we can give it to someone who will love it as much as we do."

--Ann Patchett, author and co-owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., in a Washington Post op-ed piece headlined "Owning a bookstore means you always get to tell people what to read."

University of California Press: A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, Volume 3 by Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr, Bruce Rinehart


Website Merger:

Penguin Random House has launched, a consumer-focused website that "showcases our books, authors, and brands on interactive and robust multimedia-rich pages and for the first time, our combined catalogues," CEO Markus Dohle said. " is an extension of our service to authors and readers, and it aligns with our goal of enhancing the reading discovery experience."

Created in-house and available on all devices, the site provides detailed book and author pages; places to sign up for updates on authors and for book recommendations; and the Perch blog, which includes "reading challenges, book bingo, historic highlights, and frequent peeks behind-the-scenes at our company." (See an introductory video here.)

The company plans to add features this summer and aims to continue to improve its book recommendations.

Milkweed Editions: The Shame by Makenna Goodman

Missoula Reacts to Krakauer's Missoula

Missoula, Mont., home of the University of Montana, is facing national scrutiny with the release this past Tuesday of Jon Krakauer's Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (Doubleday). The Missoula Independent published a response to Krakauer's book in "Missoula: Hope and Progress in a University Town," a list of 12 positive aspects of life in Missoula, one of which is "because independent bookstores actually thrive here." The article cites Shakespeare & Co.:

"One of the most obvious indications of how strong Missoula's book culture has become can be found in Hip Strip mainstay Shakespeare & Co. Long a cramped store known for its idiosyncratically curated tables and shelves of books, Shakespeare & Co. is in the final stages of a substantial expansion, doubling the size of its physical shop. And owner Garth Whitson didn't stop there. He also single-handedly took a stab at deflating one of the greatest forces for corporatizing the world's literary landscape when he launched a modest web-ordering system known as Garthazon."

The article also notes the new sponsorship for and renaming of the Montana Book Festival, and plans by Barbara Theroux, owner of Missoula's Fact and Fiction Bookstore, to donate $2 from each sale of Missoula to First Step, a local sexual abuse/assault care unit, and to the University of Montana's Student Advocacy Resource Center.  

Theroux has also organized a public forum on Wednesday, May 6, at 7 p.m., at which Krakauer will be interviewed by Larry Abramson, dean of the University of Montana School of Journalism, and will take questions. She told the Great Falls Tribune, "We want the conversation to be about how Missoula has been and is moving forward on rape and sex on [the] college campus and the community."

She added that Missoula has been "a very steady seller" since Tuesday.

University of California Press: The Koreas: The Birth of Two Nations Divided by Theodore Jun Yoo

Banned Books Week 2015 to Focus on YA Books

Young Adult books will be the focus of this year's Banned Books Week, which runs from September 27 through October 3. In recent years, the majority of the most frequently challenged books in libraries have been YA titles, including six on the American Library Association's recently released Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014 list.

"Young adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book," said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week national committee. "These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices."

Berkley Books: The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Anderson

T.C. Boyle Wins Rea Award for the Short Story

photo: Jamieson Fry

T.C. Boyle has won the 2014 Rea Award for the Short Story, which honors a writer who has made "a significant contribution to the discipline of the short story as an art form."

The jurors--Richard Bausch, Robert Olen Butler and Elizabeth Strout--called Boyle "a genuine American original. In more than 100 short stories and 10 story collections (plus 15 novels), Tom Boyle has furnished his own highly public and deluxe corner of contemporary American letters. His stories fairly glitter with imagination, an immense variety, hilarity, ambition and achieved talent. To his enduring credit and his readers' delight and amaze, less is not in the Boyle fictive vocabulary, though in his stories' dedication to matters of the heart and the human spirit, his finely tuned wit and his vision of our sometimes sad American fate have nothing of the cynical or the hopeless. His incomparable stories, even in their occasional dark interludes, always comes to us as a celebration. They redeem us and delight us and awaken our awareness as the finest writing should."

Founded by Michael M. Rea, the $30,000 award is sponsored by the Dungannon Foundation.

Obituary Note: Christopher Bayly

Sir Christopher Bayly, "an eminent historian and teacher, whose work on colonial and post-colonial India has made a lasting imprint on the way India's past has been understood," died April 19, the Hindu reported, noting that his "interests included intellectual history and the history of ideas, which he explored on a global canvas in his book The Birth of the Modern World: Global Connections and Comparisons 1780-1914."  

"Chris was one of the greatest historians of India," Shahid Amin, professor of history at the University of Delhi, told the Times of India, describing his friend as "a historian who constantly asked new questions.... Forever excited about new sources, he wrote about the first wave of globalization to impact the world."


Image of the Day: Pinckley Winners

Photo: A.Benoit & T.Dalferes/GNO-WNBA

Nevada Barr (r.) won the 2015 Pinckley Prize for a Distinguished Body of Work for her Anna Pigeon series (St. Martin's) and Washington State resident Adrianne Harun won the Pinckley Prize for a Debut Novel for A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain (Penguin). The Women's National Book Association of New Orleans established the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley (1952-2012), a longtime columnist and mystery reviewer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. 

Unshelved Kickstarter for Children's Book

Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, the creators of Unshelved, the web comic set in a library, have launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking $40,000 to cover printing and artwork expenses for a children's picture book "about letting kids read what they want." The Best Book stars a voracious boy reader beset by well-meaning relatives attempting to supplant the protagonist's chosen reading material with their own.

Project backer rewards range from DRM-free digital copies of the book to physical copies and signed artwork. As of this morning, more than 200 backers had pledged over $6,800. The campaign ends on May 13.

BIGNY Panel to Discuss New York Indies

On Tuesday, May 12, the Book Industry Guild of New York is holding a panel discussion on the subject of independent bookstores. Called "Niche Bookstores: Surviving and Thriving," the session will be moderated by New York Magazine culture journalist Boris Kachka. Panelists are Otto Penzler of the Mysterious Bookshop; Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks; Mitch Cutler of St. Mark's Comics; and Maria Heron of Bluestockings bookstore. The event will be held at Penguin Random House, 1745 Broadway, second floor, in New York City. Cocktail party begins at 5:15 p.m.; program begins at 6:15. ($40 for members; $60 for non-members; $5 for the panel discussion only.)

For more information, contact Tim Hoey at 973-714-0707,, and

Personnel Changes at Abrams, Morehead State U. Bookstore

Melanie Falick is leaving her position as publishing director of STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, an imprint of Abrams, on May 15 to pursue other creative opportunities. She can be reached at


Charles E. Gancio has been named general manager of the University Bookstore at Morehead State University, Morehead, Ky. He formerly owned National Achievement Source, which provided graduation products and services to scholastic and collegiate markets. Earlier he was regional v-p for Balfour and worked at bookstores at the University of Kentucky and Michigan State University.

The store is owned and operated by the university.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus Talk About Hope

Tomorrow night on an ABC Primetime Special: Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, authors of Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland (Viking, $28.95, 9780525427650). Portions of the interview will run tomorrow on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight and Nightline.

Movies: Mr. Holmes; The Little Prince

A new trailer is out for Mr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellen as an aging version of Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary private detective, "with the added complication that his own cognitive abilities are on the wane," Indiewire reported. The movie, directed Bill Condon, opens July 17 in the U.S.


A new international trailer has been released for Mark Osborne's animated version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic tale, The Little Prince, Indiewire reported. The star-studded voicecast includes Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Paul Rudd, Benicio Del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks, Bud Cort and Ricky Gervais.

This Weekend on Book TV: Annapolis Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, April 25
9 a.m. Joseph Califano, author of The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years (Touchstone, $18, 9781476798790). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)

10 a.m. Live coverage of the 2015 Annapolis Book Festival at the Key School in Annapolis, Md. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

9:15 p.m. John Riordan, author of They Are All My Family: A Daring Rescue in the Chaos of Saigon's Fall (PublicAffairs, $25.99, 9781610395038). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. Colman McCarthy, author of Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters with Their Teacher (Vanderbilt University Press, $22.95, 9780826520395). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, April 26
7:30 p.m. Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., author of Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy (The New Press, $27.95, 9781620970515). (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Orwell Shortlist

A shortlist of six books has been announced for the £3,000 (about $4,510) Orwell Prize, which recognizes work that comes closest to George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art." The winner will be named May 21. This year's shortlisted titles are:  

Capital: The Eruption of Delhi by Rana Dasgupta
Hack Attack by Nick Davies
In Plain Sight: The Life & Lies of Jimmy Saville by Dan Davies
Modernity Britain by David Kynaston
Private Island: Why Britain Now Belongs to Someone Else by James Meek
The People's Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

The Precious One: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061670893). "In The Precious One, de los Santos offers a tale of family secrets, love, rejection, and forgiveness. The point of view shifts between two half-sisters who have met only once in 16 years: Taisy Cleary, now 35, and 16-year-old Willow. Why would their father bring his daughters together now, after he has kept them apart for all these years? The story is both warmly funny and heartbreaking as the two sisters share their perceptions and insights into the man who abandoned his first family. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read!" --Fran Duke, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, Mass.

Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter by Nina McLaughlin (Norton, $25.95, 9780393239133). "After 10 years working as a journalist in front of a computer screen, Nina knew she needed a career change. An ad on Craigslist caught her eye: 'Carpenter's Assistant sought: Women strongly encouraged to apply.' So begins Nina's journey, as Mary, her mentor, transforms her from desk sitter to desk maker. Hammer Head not only shows readers how Nina became a carpenter, but also that she can still work wonders with her words." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont.

Whisper Hollow: A Novel by Chris Cander (Other Press, $17.95, 9781590517116). "Set in a small coal mining town, Whisper Hollow explores the complex lives of three very different women: Myrthen harbors a cold heart behind a face of piety; Alta is torn between duty to her family and the man she truly loves; and Lidia is a loving young mother who harbors a dark secret. When town scandals that have been buried as deep as the mines threaten to come to light, each woman must test her courage. This compelling story with its explosive ending makes for a riveting read." --Pamela Klinger-Horn, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn.

Middle Grade Readers
Catch You Later, Traitor by Avi (Algonquin, $16.95, 9781616203597). "It is 1951 and Senator Joseph McCarthy's search for Communists is reaching its zenith. No one and nothing seems to be safe from his reach. Twelve-year-old Pete Collison leads a normal life. He goes to school and enjoys reading Sam Spade novels and listening to the radio, so when his teacher suddenly accuses him and his family of being Communists he has no idea why. Then the FBI shows up at his apartment and wants him to spy on his parents and report any un-American activities. When Pete starts to investigate, he is amazed when he uncovers a family history that he never knew about. In a book about secrets, Pete discovers that family is what matters most." --Janice Hunsche, Kaleidosaurus Books, Metamora, Ind.

Teen Readers
The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (Dutton, $18.99, 9780525426530). "A summer camp for tech-addicted teenage boys. A failed 19th-century Arctic expedition. A schizophrenic man who hallucinates Joseph Stalin. A boy in a clown suit hiding in a refrigerator while his village is ravaged. These stories --while independently absurd--are woven together with Smith's trademark wit and existential scrutiny to create a Russian nesting doll of literary brilliance. Evoking elements of Kurt Vonnegut and David Mitchell, Smith once again pushes the boundaries of young adult literature and the concept of 'genre' altogether." --Lelia Nebeker, One More Page, Arlington, Va.

Children's Illustrated
The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18, 9780547315829). "What would it be like to frolic outside in nature? Sweetie Pie, a hamster, can only wonder. He lives a closed-in, solitary life in a pet shop and knows too well the downright horror of domestic life. Van Allsburg lends readers another life lesson with subtle, almost-real color and form in his new picture book, The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie." --Jill Moore, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new hardcover appearing next Tuesday, April 28;

Early Warning: A Novel by Jane Smiley (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307700322) continues the Langdon family trilogy.

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, $27.95, 9780385352543) is the autobiography of the neurologist/author.

Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501110993) is a collection of short stories and a novella.

Gathering Prey by John Sandford (Putnam, $28.95, 9780399168796) is book 25 in the Lucas Davenport thriller series.

Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250020086) follows a CIA operative protecting her son.

Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking by Marc Murphy and Olga Massov (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544315556) is a cookbook by a judge on Food Network's Chopped.

The Hungry Girl Diet Cookbook: Healthy Recipes for Mix-n-Match Meals & Snacks by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin's Griffin, $27.99, 9781250068842) is a weight loss cookbook.

Now in paperback:

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon & Schuster, $18, 9781476751474).

Leaving Time: A Novel by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine, $16, 9780345544940).

The Vorrh by Brian Catling (Vintage, $15.95, 9781101873786).


Blackbird, based on the novel by Larry Duplechan about a gay black teenager in Mississippi, has a limited release on May 1. A tie-in edition (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95, 9781551526225) is available May 12.

Far from the Madding Crowd, a Victorian drama based on the novel by Thomas Hardy, opens May 1.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, a Swedish film based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson, opens in New York City on May 1.

Book Review

Review: The Light of the World: A Memoir

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander (Grand Central Publishing, $26 hardcover, 9781455599875, April 21, 2015)

Poet Elizabeth Alexander (Crave Radiance; the 2009 Inaugural Poem) was enjoying a loving, creative, exultant and full life with her husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus, and their two sons, when Ficre died suddenly. The Light of the World is her record of that man--a husband and father, an artist, activist and chef--and of Alexander's grief and gratitude for the years she shared with him and the love and family they made.

This astonishing and naturally poetic memoir of love and loss is vivid and abundant with sensory detail and bright color. Alexander includes recipes--Ficre's, and those that comforted her after his death; gives evocative descriptions of his paintings and the food and music they both loved; counts his scars; and recounts her dreams of him. But The Light of the World is not a dream itself: Alexander is lucid and absolutely present. Perhaps to ward off the end it threatens, the story she sets out to tell starts, and starts again, and starts again: at their respective mothers' pregnancies; at Ficre's 50th birthday, the week of his death; when they met at a coffee shop in 1996. Alexander then resolutely travels through the tragic center of her story and into the life that follows, when her family of four becomes "a three-legged table," as she phrased it in her first poem afterwards. In this tender, perceptive portrayal, Ficre comes alive again: an Eritrean native, a peace-lover born into war, a painter also accomplished in photography, collage and sculpture, an eager reader fluent in seven languages and who "could say hello and thank you in literally dozens of other[s]," an activist and member of African, African-American and global communities. "Your life is just like a foreign film!" a friend rightly exclaims, and Alexander's is just the voice to portray his broadly informed, musical, painterly existence.

Short chapters and language of unrivalled beauty ease a sad story, and Alexander and her sons do make a joyful noise in the end. She feels that she carries "a Santa's sack of gifts" of Ficre's thoughts and impressions that belong to her alone; she celebrates the time they had. Their shared dreams, scars, meals, songs, dances, history and family are fittingly and exquisitely honored here. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This moving, charming, delicately lovely memoir of a husband's death offers solace and even joy.

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