Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 30, 2015

Atria Books: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

St. Martin's Press: Mind Over Weight: Curb Cravings, Find Motivation, and Hit Your Number in 7 Simple Steps by Ian K. Smith


Indie Bookstore Day: Impromptu & Improv Poems; Poetry+Biscuits

On Saturday, May 2, more than 400 independent bookstores across the U.S. will participate in the inaugural Independent Bookstore Day (inspired by last year's California Bookstore Day), while Canadian booksellers hold their first Authors for Indies Day. In addition to hosting parties, author appearances and events, booksellers will distribute exclusive merchandise (a video from Harvard Bookshop, Cambridge, Mass., offers a sneak peek) created for the occasion. All week, we are highlighting indie booksellers' creative plans for, and thoughts about, celebrating IBD 2015:

Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore.: "We want to champion independent bookstores and our customers who have kept us around a long time in Portland," said store manager Will Peters. "We still have a thriving independent bookstore community. It's as much a celebration and a thank you to our customers as anything." (via the Portland Tribune) Also: "We're partnering with our next-door neighbors The Craft Factory.... they'll be offering book-themed craft sessions and story times."

Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: "The Poet Is In: a group of local poets will staff a booth modeled on The Doctor Is In, the one Lucy dispensed advice from in the Peanuts comic strip. They will spontaneously write poems for anyone requesting one: in the moment, from their hearts, a poetry writing improv with human prompts."

Prince Books, Norfolk, Va.: "Poetry & Prose + Biscuits & Beer. A community open mic event with beer and biscuits on sale from The Lizard Cafe!"

Canadian Authors for Indies: Twitter Takeover--"To give you a sense of the awesomeness of such an event, we are handing the Twitter keys over to two authors involved: Terry Fallis and Robin Spano. They will be tweeting from @CBCbooks to give you the highlights from Authors for Indies Day."

Island Books, Middletown, R.I.: "To thank you all for your support... we will have a GREAT GALLEY GIVEAWAY with any purchase." Also: "Don't miss being part of our First Annual Customer Choice Awards! All customers will get the chance to vote for their favorite book from among the store's best sellers over the last twelve months."

Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif.: "Ask the Magic 8 Ball, which will answer the question 'What surprise does Hicklebee's have for me today?' You may win a balloon, or a book (an advanced reader's copy aka an arc) of a new or recently published book, or a chance to enter a drawing for a copy of a much anticipated future publication... or a Hicklebee's Game Card with which to save some cash while shopping at Hicklebee's throughout the year."

Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn.: Impromptu Poetry with Brett Elizabeth Jenkins... "Tell her a secret, and she will write you a poem about it. It doesn't have to be your secret!" Also: "Obscure Book Recommendations" with Rain Taxi Review of Books editor Eric Lorberer... "Stop in and chat with him, and leave with the perfect book you never would have picked up (or even heard of) otherwise."

Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md.: "A podium. You. And Alice in Wonderland. Come celebrate and read with us on Saturday. Throughout the day, we're asking you, our lovely supporters and fellow book lovers to take a turn at the podium, and read from Carroll's classic."

McNally Jackson, New York City: Marathon reading of Langston Hughes: "Like Langston, we believe in nothing but books. Like Langston, we're not in Kansas anymore. Join us on Saturday, May 2nd at 5 p.m., to celebrate the first annual nationwide Independent Bookstore Day with a group of stellar writers reading Langston Hughes poems. Like Langston, let books happen to you too."

Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kan.: "I love being a part of downtown and the Hutchinson literary community," said owner Melanie Green. "Independent Bookstore Day just gives me one more reason to thank my community for their enthusiastic support of Bluebird Books and to remind them of all that we offer." (via the Hutchinson News)

New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen

AAP Sales: January Down 7.8%; E-Books Off 10.2%

In January, total net book sales fell 7.8%, to $1.06 billion, compared to January 2014, representing sales of 1,210 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.
Among highlights: the main drags on sales were K-12 instructional materials, down 20.7%, to $65.1 million, and higher ed course materials, down 18%, to $377.8 million. The strongest categories were religious presses, up 11.1%, to $47.2 million, and professional books, up 10%, to $59 million.
Total trade sales rose 0.9%, to $543 million, and paperback sales were up 10.3%, to $122.7 million. E-book sales overall fell 10.2%. Children's/YA paperbacks rose 10.9%, to $37.4 million, and board books were up 34.1%, to $10.1 million, but the children's/YA overall fell 1.6%, to $129.2 million because e-book sales fell 37.4%, to $12.9 million.

GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

BAM in Williamsburg, Va., Closes

Books-A-Million has closed its store at the Williamsburg Shopping Center on Richmond Road in Williamsburg, Va. The remaining merchandise was removed from the building Monday, according to the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, which noted that a sign taped to the front door said: "We apologize for the inconvenience. It was truly a pleasure serving the community for all these years. We hope to relocate and offer our services again."

Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Bookseller Pens Penguins with People Problems

"When I saw 'Penguin Random House' in my inbox for the first time, I thought they might be suing me," recalled Mary Laura Philpott, social media director of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., editor of Parnassus Books' online literary magazine, Musing, and the author of the upcoming book Penguins with People Problems. Due out on June 2 from Perigee, the book is a collection of illustrations from Philpott's tumblr "The Random Penguins" mixed with new illustrations done for the book. The project began in 2013, shortly after the merger between Penguin and Random House was announced.

"It started with a goofy little one-time post on my blog," explained Philpott. As everyone in the book world wondered what the new company would be called, Philpott thought it would be funny if the company became Random Penguin, and she included drawings of penguins doing random things in the pages of their books. "Once I started making those little penguin doodles, I just kept going."

Soon Philpott created her tumblr, and through the rest of 2013, the project gained a bigger and bigger following. Philpott's drawings were featured on several blogs, including Refinery29, Go Fug Yourself and The Toast, and for a time Philpott was even selling a line of Random Penguin greeting cards.

"Every time I started to think, well, that's probably it for these little birds, something else would happen, and the audience would grow again," said Philpott. Then, in early 2014, came big news from Penguin Random House.

"I found a few of the Random Penguins on The Toast and immediately fell in love," said editor Meg Leder, who acquired the book for Perigee. She sent her colleagues at Perigee an e-mail about the Random Penguins, and recalled hearing laughter from the offices around her shortly afterward. "I always think that's a good sign!"

Before the acquisition, Philpott worked on the Random Penguins in her free time. "Some days I'll think of three penguin ideas," said Philpott, who draws all of the illustrations on her iPad using her fingers. "Some weeks I won't think of any. I'm used to sticking to an editorial calendar because of the work I do, but it did feel a bit odd to have this wacky little hobby I'd been doing on my own whim suddenly be put on a schedule."

In advance of the book's release in early June, Philpott has drawn a "Penguins with Parent Problems" mini-series that will run exclusively on the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode. The series, which started on April 23, features six new cartoons that all deal with parenting problems. She'll be doing live drawings at BookExpo America. The book's official launch party will be held on Monday, June 1, at Parnassus Books. From there, Philpott will visit some indie bookstores and book festivals throughout the summer and early fall. Already on the schedule are appearances at Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, N.C., and the Booksellers at Laurelwood in Memphis, Tenn.

At these events, Philpott plans to share the true stories that inspired some of the penguin illustrations, and she'll be drawing new penguins based on the audience's suggested problems. Said Philpott: "I can't wait to see what situations people come up with for me to turn into penguins." --Alex Mutter

Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes

Obituary Note: Gordon Graham

Gordon Graham, longtime publisher and the founder of Logos magazine, died last Friday.

Born in 1921, Graham fought in World War II in the Far East, and worked for McGraw-Hill's international division before becoming chairman of Butterworths in 1974. He was president of the Publishers Association in 1986. After retiring from Butterworths in 1991, he founded Logos. The Bookseller has an obituary; publisher Klaus G. Saur offers a memorial in the Börsenblatt.

We have always admired Graham and his love of language, particularly since he commented about an industry buzzword at a conference on digital matters at the London Book Fair perhaps 15 years ago. Rising in the audience, he asked why people kept using the word "disintermediation" when "a good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon word" applied: "bypass."

Graham had asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Kohima Educational Trust, a charity he set up in 2004 to remember those who died in the key Battle of Kohima in 1944 in India and to support the people of Nagaland, who aided the British during the battle.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas


Image of the Day: Molecules Winners

Recently, Black Dog & Leventhal ran a contest in which booksellers were encouraged to set up displays featuring Theodore Gray's Molecules and The Elements (and any of the publisher's science titles) and submit pictures. The prizes included a Molecules quilt, created by Gray himself, and signed copies of his books. 

Byrd's Books in Bethel, Conn., won the grand prize--a Skype session with Gray for a local science class, and a copy of The Elements or Molecules for every student (and teacher) attendee. Pictured are science students from Bethel High School with (back row) Alice Hutchinson, owner and manager of Byrd's Books, and Ray Turek, head of the science department.

Happy Fifth Birthday, Grand Valley Books!

Congratulations to Grand Valley Books, Grand Junction, Colo., which is marking its fifth anniversary today in a special way. "Instead of celebrating with cake and ice cream, we've chosen to observe this anniversary by pledging a hefty portion of our sales from Thursday through Saturday to humanitarian relief efforts in Nepal," the bookseller noted on Facebook. "We will join our good friends at Nepal Restaurant in accepting donations as well as welcoming customers to purchase books knowing that a portion of every dollar spent will benefit those who need it most at this difficult time in Nepal."

"Two doors down from us on Main Street there's a Nepalese restaurant," said owner Margie Wilson. "We have become very good friends with the owners and employees over the years, and they are suffering the loss of several family members from the earthquake."  

Speaking of the bookstore's anniversary, Wilson noted: "We're also very grateful to authors who have been gracious in giving us their time for readings and book signings the past five years. Some days those five years feel like a lifetime, and other times the feel like a brisk wind has just passed through."

Point Reyes Books: 'Declaration of Interdependence'

To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day and their 13th anniversary as co-owners of Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, Calif., Steve Costa and Kate Levinson observed: "We believe that readers, writers, books, and bookstores can work magic together. And so we present our Declaration of Interdependence... to describe those connections by setting down who we are and what we value most as a small independent bookstore." Their "Declaration of Interdependence" has six key points:

  1. We strive to provide great service and hospitality.
  2. We try to be generous, kind-hearted, and collaborative.
  3. We encourage writers.
  4. We inspire readers.
  5. We are creative, spirited, and independent.
  6. We provide a sense of place and tell stories.

"We seek to create a special 'community living room' within our extraordinary West Marin physical landscape," Costa and Levinson noted. "We remember the past, relish the present, and envision the future by writing our own stories, making our own history, and leaving this place better for the next generation."

Cool IBD '15 Idea of the Day: HarperCollins Offers a Lyft

On Independent Bookstore Day, HarperCollins is teaming up with ride-share company Lyft to bring readers directly to participating bookstores in San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago. Anyone requesting a ride through the Lyft app on their phone to one of more than 40 participating stores in those cities will receive a free goodie bag upon arriving at their destination. The goodie bags contain a HarperCollins galley, book-related items from the publisher such as posters, temporary tattoos, stickers and a notepad, a Lyft cuddlestache and more.

"What's better than a day spent browsing the staff picks at your local bookstore?" asked Angela Tribelli, chief marketing officer for HarperCollins. "We are thrilled to be partnering with Lyft to support independent bookstores across the country--and to be rewarding their loyal customers. This initiative will help draw attention to Independent Bookstore Day and to indie bookstores nationwide."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Taya Kyle on 20/20

Tomorrow on the Meredith Vieira Show: Tia Mowry, author of Twintuition: Double Vision (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062372864).


Tomorrow on 20/20: Taya Kyle, co-author of American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062398086). She will also appear on Good Morning America and World News Tonight.

Indie Bookstore Day on the Radio

Yesterday's guests on KWMU's St. Louis on the Air program, hosted by Don Marsh, discussed the origin of Independent Bookstore Day and the role of bookstores in the community with Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books; Holland Saltsman, owner of the Novel Neighbor; and Emily Hall, co-owner of Main Street Books.

In San Francisco, KALW's Your Call host Hana Baba talked about IBD 2015 with Samantha Schoech, program director of Independent Bookstore Day; Amy Thomas, owner of Pegasus bookstores in Berkeley and Oakland; and Alan Beatts, founder and owner of Borderlands Books.

This Weekend on Book TV: San Antonio 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, May 2
11 a.m. Theodore Dalrymple, author of Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality (Encounter, $21.50, 9781594037870). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

1:30 p.m. Coverage from the third annual San Antonio Book Festival, which took place on April 11 at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Tex. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:30 a.m.)

8 p.m. David Brooks, author of The Road to Character (Random House, $28, 9780812993257). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. Peter Slevin, author of Michelle Obama: A Life (Knopf, $27.95, 9780307958822). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Lance Price, author of The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi's Campaign to Transform India (Quercus, $26.99, 9781623659387).

Sunday, May 3
12 p.m. In Depth with Jon Ronson, author of So You've Been Publicly Shamed (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594487132).

7:45 p.m. Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum, authors of The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones--Confronting A New Age of Threat (Basic Books, $29.99, 9780465089741).

10 p.m. Robert Blagojevich, author of Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice (Northern Illinois University Press, $24, 9780875804880).

Books & Authors

Awards: Wellcome Book Winner

The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts has won the 2015 Wellcome Book Prize, given to works of fiction or nonfiction that "have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness." The book will be published in the U.S. in January 2016 by Grove/Atlantic.

Chair of judges Bill Bryson commented: "From an extremely strong shortlist of books that blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, The Iceberg stood out. Marion Coutts' account of living with her husband's illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world--it stays with you a long time after."

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 Witch of Painted Sorrows: A Novel by M.J. Rose (Atria, $25, 9781476778068). "Set in Belle Époque Paris, The Witch of Painted Sorrows features an American socialite fleeing from her husband in New York to the home of her courtesan grandmother in Paris. There, she uncovers family secrets, discovers both her talent as an artist and her own erotic nature, and confronts the witch La Lune, an ancestor who threatens to possess her. Rose proves herself once again to be a consummate storyteller in this provocative and entertaining novel." --Fran Keilty, The Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn.

A Reunion of Ghosts: A Novel by Judith Claire Mitchell (Harper, $26.99, 9780062355881). " 'The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations.' These are the words that the Alter sisters live by and the reason they have chosen to die at their own hands. Lady, Vee, and Delph Alter have written a suicide note that turns out to be a family history. The sisters are descendants of Lenz, a chemist and the creator of the poison gas that was first used in World War I, and his wife, Iris, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry and the first in the family to commit suicide. A Reunion of Ghosts is a captivating chronicle of a family and the weight of consequences that grow heavier with time." --Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

Our Endless Numbered Days: A Novel by Claire Fuller (Tin House Books, $15.95, 9781941040010). "Peggy, a highly imaginative and clever eight-year-old, lives in London with her famous pianist mother and survivalist father. Something is a little strange about her parents' marriage, and Peggy observes the grownups in her life behaving in ways that often perplex and sometimes scare her. When her mother leaves to go on an extended tour, Peggy is left at home with her father who, without warning, changes the course of their lives irrevocably. This is a beautifully written novel that defies categorization, and the ending will knock your socks off!" --Pam Cady, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Middle Grade Readers
The League of Beastly Dreadfuls: Book 1 by Holly Grant (Random House, $16.99, 9780385370073). "On the morning her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident, Anastasia has only two things to worry about: wearing her Halloween costume the second day in a row and her gerbil taking revenge by pooping in her shoes. By the end of the day, her world has been changed forever by the sudden appearance of her long lost 'aunties' Prim and Prude, who whisk her off to live in their Victorian home. Previously St. Agony's Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Anastasia's new home is not what she ever imagined and she soon starts to suspect that something is afoot. This book is the ultimate read-aloud, filled with humor, bravery, and adventure reminiscent of Roald Dahl." --Hannah Moushabeck, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.

For Teen Readers
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, 9780544308275). "Who could be a more convincing and compelling detective than a rough and roughly used boy who can't afford illusions? Ask the Dark takes hold of the reader with remarkable vigor. Its narrative extends into the reader's inner landscape and stirs up a nest of sleeping assumptions. How narrow is the distance between what we regard as moral and its behavioral opposites? If character is revealed only under pressure, is safety a dangerous luxury? Ask the dark." --Kenny Brechner, Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Me.

Children's Illustrated
There's No Such Thing as Little by LeUyen Pham (Knopf, $17.99, 9780385391504). "'Everyone says I'm little. I really don't agree. If only they could see what I see when I look at me.' There's really no such thing as little according to the narrator of this cute picture book, who comes up with all kinds of words to describe things that other people might see as little--a unique snowflake, a brave fish, a fantastic idea, a strong hand. This is an inspiring book for grownups to share with children to show them just how amazing they really are." --Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 5:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476728742) focuses on aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright.

The Negotiator by George Mitchell (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451691375) is the memoir of the former Senate Majority Leader.

Pedro by Pedro Martinez and Michael Silverman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544279339) is the memoir of the Red Sox pitcher.

The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation by Melissa Rivers (Crown Archetype, $26, 9781101903827) shares stories from Joan Rivers's daughter.

Rock with Wings by Anne Hillerman (Harper, $27.99, 9780062270511) continues the Leaphorn and Chee mystery series.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris (Saga Press, $25.99, 9781481449465) is a novel of Norse mythology told from the trickster god's perspective.

The Making of Zombie Wars: A Novel by Aleksandar Hemon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 9780374203412) follows an aspiring screenwriter.

I Take You: A Novel by Eliza Kennedy (Crown, $24, 9780553417821) follows an engaged woman with monogamy problems.

Now in paperback:

Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott (Rodale, $24.99, 9781623365691).

Draw Faces in 15 Minutes by Jake Spicer (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, 9781250063991).

Book Review

Review: A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me: Stories and a Novella by David Gates (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780385351539, May 19, 2015)

Since his caustic, funny, compassionate first novel, Jernigan, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize almost 25 years ago, former longtime Newsweek book and music critic David Gates has published only one other novel and a collection of stories. A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me is his first book of fiction in 15 years, and once again he mines the same rich lode of broken (or at best, bent) lives beneath the surface of New England professionals and academics. In story after story, musicians, doctors, architects and especially journalists descend into drink, divorce and promiscuity. They are getting old, and their careers and dreams have long passed. Their children are grown and seldom forgiving of their parents' busted marriages and alcoholic isolation. Sounds bleak, but over the years Gates has honed his sense of irony and sad humor. His characters' smart, often sarcastic dialogue reflects the hard-earned knowledge of people approaching the end--what Paul, a former mandolin player dying of liver cancer, calls "serious October baseball." They know they've messed up. They know their exes and themselves too well. As the minor composer and songwriter in "Alcorian A-1949" describes his day, "I go to the piano and work at working, until disgust tolls fancy's knell.... I stop by the state liquor store.... I sip the hours away, playing computer solitaire and listening to the radio."

Perhaps because its length gives Gates room to turn snapshots into a panorama, the opening novella "Banishment" is the best piece. Its narrator is a snarky, on-again, off-again journalist who took an entry-level job at a Hudson Valley paper ("not much of a job for a gal with a degree from Yale, but we can't all be Naomi Wolf") and married an earnest colleague. With many asides to "you" the reader, she describes leaving her first husband to marry an architect in his 70s, despite his warning that "things could get a little unattractive in the homestretch." Although he designs and builds them a dramatic knock-off of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house on a rural hilltop outside Rhinebeck, he becomes crankier and more frequently drunk as he ages. She leaves him for a surprising new sexual partner and a job at an even lower tier news outlet--a free want-ad paper where she can be "the first managing editor to get Samuel Beckett into The Pennypincher...." Like most of Gates's stories, "Banishment" doesn't conclude so much as just end.

Age, divorce and alcoholism take their harsh tolls. In "A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me," the narrator accepts his dying friend's request to take him in and nurse him through his final days. It is not pretty, and the narrator comments to his wife: "I don't know what to hope for.... Quality, I guess. And then not too much quantity." Whatever Gates's oeuvre might lack in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In this collection of 11 stories and one powerful novella, David Gates captures the nuance, irony and pain of smart characters with lots of troubles.

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