Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 14, 2015

Graphix: Unico: Awakening (Volume 1): An Original Manga Created by Osamu Tezuka, Written by Samuel Sattin, Illustrated by Gurihiru

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Immortal Dark (Deluxe Limited Edition) by Tigest Girma

Bramble: Swordcrossed by Freya Marske

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Quotation of the Day

'Losing a Customer and Opening a Conversation'

"I hope that you'll see the ways we've tried to promote constructive discussions about race--our ongoing Ferguson Reading Group, our event with Carol Swartout Klein for her book Painting for Peace in Ferguson, our event with Leah Gunning Francis for her book Ferguson and Faith, the Listen. Talk. Learn. session we hosted with Diversity Awareness Partnership.

I want you to know that our door, hearts and arms are open to you and all others always.

If you do make the switch to Amazon I hope that you'll keep reading. As my departing book recommendation to you, I suggest you order Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For more reading, try our Black Lives Matter Reading List.

We love St. Louis and the rich and various communities and cultures that make up our town. If we insist on anything, we insist that St. Louis keeps moving, however painfully, toward a better future."

--Jarek Steele, Left Bank Books, in response to an anonymous customer complaint about the store's "Black Lives Matter" window display

Henry Holt & Company: A Banh Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen


Star Line Books to Open in Chattanooga

Star Lowe
(photo: Chattanooga Pulse)

An August 28 soft opening is scheduled for Star Line Books, a 1,300-square-foot space located at 1467 Market Street in Chattanooga, Tenn. Bookselling This Week reported that for owner Star Lowe, "the idea to open a bookshop began after she moved to the area with her family three years ago, only to discover there were no independent bookstores in the vicinity."

A graduate of Paz & Associates' "Owning a Bookstore" workshop, Loew said, "You lose your rose-colored glasses really quickly with [Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman], and if you still want to [open a store] by the end, then you know what you're getting into.... And I still did." Lowe also attended the ABA's Winter Institute this year.

"We've got a really cool demographic around here--a lot of young families and newly retired couples tired of the suburbs who want to be in the city," she said. "I just want it to be a place for 'bookies'--that third place where like-minded folks can come together and where I can offer them as many reading experiences as I can. I want to grow here."

Lowe told the Pulse that as the city's "only locally owned new books bookstore, Star Line Books will provide Chattanoogans, as well as visitors, experiences tailored for a reading community. In addition to offering a wide selection of books across genres, we'll host author signings and book release parties, weekly story times for children, and poetry nights. Additionally, we plan to partner with local schools and literacy programs to advocate the enjoyment and importance of reading and plan to solicit large companies and organizations to procure their training materials from a locally 'woman-owned' business."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

ABA Sets Dates, Location for 2016 ABC Children's Institute

The American Booksellers Association's fourth ABC Children's Institute will be held June 21–23, 2016, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International in Orlando, Fla., immediately preceding the American Library Association's Annual Conference. The event, which is again sponsored by Baker & Taylor, is open to all ABA member booksellers. Registration for the Children's Institute will open in early 2016.

Durango, Colo., Bookseller Addresses River Contamination

A day after three million gallons of contaminated water were accidentally released into the Animas River in Colorado August 5, the plume appeared in Durango, Colo, "where the river snakes through the entirety of the city," Bookselling This Week reported.  

"Our usual natural disasters are forest fires, avalanches, and flooding. This manmade disaster is difficult for us to put in perspective," said Peter Schertz, co-owner of Maria's Bookshop. "The rafting industry came to an immediate halt at the height of their season, and the agricultural impact is large, as much of it relies on irrigation that comes directly from the Animas River.... We've learned at Maria's Bookshop how intertwined the economic influences in our community are. Twelve years ago we had large wildfires that impacted every part of the community. Nobody was unaffected. I think this incident will be similar."

Schertz added: "Andrea and I appreciate all the indie book colleagues who have reached out to us in concern for our well-being. This is a resilient community that knows how to pull together; we'll get through it. I'm hopeful the long-term net impact is a positive one."

No Presidential Bookstore Watch on Martha's Vineyard

The president and his daughters shopped at Politics & Prose for Small Business Saturday last year.

President Obama is on Martha's Vineyard for his annual two-week summer vacation, but any suspense regarding whether he will make a book run to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore or Edgartown Books for the first time in awhile dissipated yesterday when the White House released the president's summer reading list.

"It's not clear whether the president is doing most of his reading in hard cover (or paperback) or has switched primarily to e-readers," the Washington Post noted, adding: "He and the first family stopped making their summer trip to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in 2013."

Obama's ambitious summer reading list includes:

All That Is by James Salter
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Obituary Note: Brook Stephenson

Brook Stephenson

Writer and former bookseller Brook Stephenson died August 9. He was 41. "For 11 years, Brook worked at the McNally Jackson bookstore" in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Reader wrote, adding that his most recent position was as director of literature & development at the Clever Agency, "a branding company bent on changing the world for the better one fun project at a time."

Stephenson was also founder of the Rhode Island Writer's Colony, which was created to "provide space and time for writers of color to work on their craft," the Brooklyn Reader noted. In addition to writing for such publications as Ebony and Crisis, he was preparing his first novel, The Maturation of Moses Jones, for publication at the time of his death.

Angela Maria Spring, manager at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., and a former colleague of Stephenson at McNally Jackson, observed: "My heart and thoughts go out to the family and friends of our friend, Brook Stephenson, a bookseller at McNally Jackson in NYC. Brook, who passed away this weekend, was the soul of kindness, with a smile for everyone and a genuine love of life that showed in everything he did, especially bookselling. His was a bright light that went out far too soon."


Image of the Day: Kitchens of the Great Midwest in California

Wednesday night, Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., hosted a discussion and signing with J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest (Pamela Dorman Books). In keeping with the novel's theme, guests were invited to bring a favorite dish to share, potluck-style.

Pictured: (l.-r.) Andrea Vuleta, executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association; Stradal; and Kelly Burlingham of Vroman's.

Happy 25th, The BookMark!

Congratulations to the BookMark, Neptune Beach, Fla., which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. On Saturday, August 29, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., the store will offer treats, chances to win prizes, good conversation and more.

"Among the tomes and book-related merchandise, BookMark also houses a place to find friendly, intellectual conversations; a community gathering space with regularly scheduled events; and a children's reading room with an iconic yellow chair that has fostered many a young mind," reported.

Owner Rona Brinlee purchased the BookMark in 1995. "You get to a point in your life where you realize life is short and you want to do something you enjoy," she said. "As I think about it, it is a great way to spend the day with people who are interesting and intelligent and who want to talk about books. It's also fun to deal with publishers and authors. But it’s turned out to be even more than that, you know. We really feel like a major part of the community."

Brinlee added that she thinks "independent bookstores are not going to be struggling. I think it is our time. [People] become more aware of the importance of things that are part of their home. They get more committed to making sure they are there. I think they understand the notion that if you don’t support [local businesses], don’t wonder what happened to them."

Dalkey Archive Press Shifting Distribution

Effective August 31, Columbia University Press will cease worldwide distribution of Dalkey Archive Press titles and all orders and customer service should go to Ingram Publisher Services. Returns of Dalkey Archive books will be accepted at Perseus Distribution and Wiley European Distribution Centre until February 29, 2016.

Dalkey Archive Press is moving its publishing operations this summer from Champaign, Ill., to the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Houston-Victoria in Victoria, Texas

Personnel Changes at Scholastic, Crown

In Scholastic Trade:

David Ascher has been promoted to senior v-p, finance and strategic initiatives. He was previously v-p, finance for Scholastic Trade.

JoAnne Mojica is being named v-p of publishing operations, Scholastic Trade. She was previously v-p, trade planning & operations.

Anamika Bhatnagar has been promoted to associate publisher of Pilkey Publishing and Scholastic Inc. She was previously publishing director, Scholastic Press.

Sheila Marie Everett has been promoted to publicity director. She was previously associate director.


In the Crown/Broadway/Hogarth/Tim Duggan Books marketing team:

Sarah Pekdemir is promoted to assistant director, marketing.

Kayleigh George is promoted to senior marketing manager.

Danielle Crabtree is promoted to marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Das Cookbook on CBS This Morning

Tomorrow on CBS This Morning: Hans Röckenwagner, author of Das Cookbook: German Cooking . . . California Style (Prospect Park Books, $29.95, 9781938849336).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Susan Barker, author of The Incarnations: A Novel (Touchstone, $26, 9781501106781).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Steve Boggan, author of Gold Fever: One Man's Adventures on the Trail of the Gold Rush (Oneworld Publications, $24.99, 9781780146968).

TV: Childhood's End; Gateway

A six-hour adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End will premiere December 14 and air over three consecutive nights on the Syfy channel, the Wrap reported. The project is directed by Nick Hurran and was adapted by Matthew Graham, who is executive producer.


Syfy is also developing Frederik Pohl's novel Gateway as a one-hour scripted series with Entertainment One TV and Universal Cable Prods., reported. David Eick (Battlestar Galactica) and Josh Pate (Falling Skies) collaborated on the adaptation and will serve as executive producers, with Eick revising a pilot script written by Pate and serving as showrunner.

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Julia Heaberlin

photo: Jill Johnson

Julia Heaberlin, a journalist who has worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Detroit News and the Dallas Morning News, is the author of Lie Still and Playing Dead. She grew up in Texas and lives with her family near Dallas/Fort Worth. Her third novel is Black-Eyed Susans (Ballantine Books, August 11, 2015).

On your nightstand now:

Jane Doe January, the early bound manuscript of a haunting and beautifully written true-crime memoir by novelist Emily Winslow that will be published by William Morrow in 2016. Emily was in college when she was raped by a stranger in her apartment; more than 20 years later, her rapist is trapped by DNA technology and she finally knows his name. I'm completely under the spell of her obsession and path to redemption.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Dark, brooding, gothicky, romantic, just what a nerdy small-town Texas girl with knee socks needed for escape one brutally hot summer.

Your top five authors:

I can list the first five who come to mind: John Irving, William Landay, Gillian Flynn (she had me at Sharp Objects), Tana French, Barbara Kingsolver. But I don't always follow authors from book to book; I primarily remember individual books and writing that strikes me: The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach); Savage Beauty (Nancy Milford's gorgeous bio of Edna St. Vincent Millay); The Agony and the Ecstasy (Irving Stone); The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold); Beautiful Ruins (Jess Walter); The Autobiography of an Execution (David Dow). Just off the top.

Book you've faked reading:

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I give it a go once every five years. My worried parents wrapped it up for Christmas when I was in middle school in an effort to drag me away from reading six Harlequin romances a weekend. It didn't work. I got most of my vocabulary from those frustrated romance writers, and I have a good one. Sex makes you remember things. And, yeah, I know Anna has sex, too.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. God, friendship, fate and A SQUEAKY VOICE STILL LIVING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IN MY HEAD. It is one of the few unapologetic literary novels about believing in God (even though John Irving doesn't).

Book you've bought for the cover:

Hmmm. Probably never. The words are the thing.

Book that changed your life:

If being literal, it would be Stephen King's On Writing. I learned it was okay to sit down to write a novel with a tiny idea and no outline. That's what held me up for years. He's the master.

Favorite line from a book:

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice." --from A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Which character you most relate to:

Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, the greatest protagonist in all of crime fiction. She is purity, intelligence, vulnerability and ass-kicking feminism. I still miss her.

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

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. I really, really couldn't figure it out. That is a most beautiful (and too rare) thing in a thriller.

Book Review

Review: Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, trans. by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions, $18 trade paper, 9781609452865, September 1, 2015)

Like the previous novels in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet, the concluding volume, The Story of the Lost Child, is ferociously, compulsively readable. Divided into two novellas and an epilogue, it has a relatively simple plot--two best friends in a tough Naples neighborhood in 1980 become pregnant at the same time and raise their daughters together--but the pace is dramatically heightened by dozens of intense little plot-hooks and startling revelations. The story is laced with earthquakes and death threats, sibling betrayals and old animosities. Ferrante is a remarkable storyteller, and knows just how much to tell every step of the way.

Nothing in this Neapolitan neighborhood stays the same for long. Shops close. Crime is on the rise. Friends who grew up together switch spouses like dance partners. Fiery, outspoken Lila, more mercurial than anyone, is seen as the only person capable of putting the neighborhood right. The strongest bond in Ferrante's quartet remains Lila's passionate, lifelong devotion to bookish, intellectual Elena, who is infamous after the success of her novel exposing local corruption.  

At the center of the series, what holds them together and breathes so much life into them, is Ferrante's fundamental understanding of the contradictions inside her characters. She is compassionate enough to bring people to life with their human flaws and shortcomings, and still make us care about them passionately as they grow older, fall in love, hurt one another and experience pain. Her characters are fierce, prone to sudden and violent changes of heart. The man who slugs Lila in the face is the same man who orders the search for Lila's missing child. One reads Ferrante with a sense of urgency in following the lives of her unpredictable, volatile, constantly evolving human beings, who remain true in essence despite their clashes and mistakes.

Throughout all four volumes, Lila grows and changes before the reader's eyes. As two characters who are perfect foils for each other, Elena and Lila face the erratic turmoil of their intertwined lives in consistently revealing ways. Not until the concluding pages of Part One, two-thirds of the way through the novel, does the title suddenly make horrifying, heartbreaking sense. Out of that shock Part Two opens a decade later, with some seismic surprises. The entire novel is as intriguing and rich and heartbreaking as real life.

Again and again, Ferrante takes the reader back to the first novella in My Brilliant Friend, in which the two girls lose their dolls. Each time she gives the account more nuance, more background information, until the initial novella in the first volume of the quartet is seen to contain the seeds of what will follow. Ultimately the plot comes full circle back to the beginning of the quartet, the framing story of Lila's disappearance, with one final moment that brings to a perfect close one of the greatest literary achievements of the new century. --Nick DiMartino, Nick's Picks, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

Shelf Talker: The concluding novel of the Neapolitan quartet perfectly completes the saga of two women's 66-year friendship in a rough neighborhood of Naples.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: International Cat Day Bookstore Prize

In case you missed it, last Saturday was International Cat Day, during which "felines take over the internet (even more than usual)," the Telegraph noted. As news-gathering organizations go, our bookstore cat coverage is pretty comprehensive, so we can testify to the clickbait potential inherent in any hyperlink that includes the words "Bookstore Cats."

See, you just went there instinctively, didn't you? Welcome back.

Today, I have the honor of both inventing and announcing the inaugural International Cat Day Bookstore Prize winner. From a long list of worthy contenders, the judges (well, me) unanimously selected Tales of the Lonesome Pine, Big Stone Gap, Va., which is currently hosting a Bookstore Cat Adoption Reunion on Facebook to celebrate all of the "forever homes" they have found for their temporary bookstore kitty interns.

"We started in June 2009, and in May of this year we adopted out our 200th cat (named Reepicheep)," said co-owner Wendy Welch. "The bookstore is a great place to get adoptions going because it acts kind of like a pet store window; people interact with the cats, pick them up and carry them, have fun with them. The tactile experience of being around them has increased adoptions, I think. We still have 'impulse' adoptions, although we are careful of those. More often now that we're established we have people contact us after viewing our Facebook photos."

Tales of the Lonesome Pine has three cat adoption rules, Welch noted: "Let the cat choose the person--they never miss; give the cats timely literary names (we named a group Harper Lee, Scout, and Boo Radley when Go Set a Watchman came out); and write about their purrsonailities on Facebook. After a cat's been with us long enough to know them, I usually do a 'if this cat were a woman/girl' post and for some reason everybody loves these. I also write a lot of 'cat voice' blogs as if the cat were writing it about his experiences at the shop. These get lots of hits and comments."

Visitors to the bookstore occasionally donate money ("a kitty for the kitties," as her husband, Jack, describes it), but Welch said, "We don't have a jar out and in our troubled economic region I would flat not ask people for money; there are people struggling to feed their families here, literally. We're not interested in taking their cash. In fact, that's who we rescue for. Some families would love a pet, be good to it, have enough to feed and care for it, if they didn't have to pay for spaying and neutering. I have friends who can sometimes be called on to 'sponsor' a family if they need it, and we let those 'kitty' donations add up to spays as well."

She also crochets for the cause: "It's a hobby I've had since childhood; I'm fast, and if I do say so myself, I'm really good at it. I can make all sorts of fun stuff; in 2013 it was the Spay & Neuter Afghan--a free online pattern called 'Rows of Cats.' I put it online with a note that said 'This is what you get if you don't spay and neuter: rows and rows of cats.' And those things sold like hotcakes; I sold them for the price of a neuter. In 2014 I must have sold 400 of these cool little trivets shaped like penguins and chicks and roosters. This year it is animal scarves and hoodies, and mermaid tail lap blankets. People buy these a lot, and they donate yarn so I can sell them at prices everyone can afford, and still make money for the kitties' kitty."

Since the 2012 publication of her book The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Welch said many readers "from outside the area have been quick to assist us, or to assist their local cat shelters in our honor. That's very cool. The farthest away we have adopted cats is Kansas and Massachusetts. Someone agreed to meet the adopter halfway, and off our babies went to life in the big city--or the American plains. Whichever. We adopted a girl recently to a family in Arlington who came to see the shop because they'd read my book and wanted to see it for themselves. And they came with the idea of getting a cat in mind. We love it when this happens."

Tales of The Lonesome Pine's official bookshop cat philosophy is summed up nicely in her book: "The whole establishment catered in design and policy to every whim of the two permanent staff cats and the myriad fosters who have found forever homes via the bookstore."

Sometimes people ask why they do all this. "We do it for the same reason we run a bookstore: because it's fun, because it's important, and because it's compassionate," Welch observed. "Animals can't speak for themselves, tell their own story. They need advocates, and when they get them, they reciprocate by being way more fun to watch than Netflix--plus more engaging." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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