Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 24, 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

New German Bookstore Prize: 'A Signal'

Monika Grütters

"With the German Bookstore Prize, the federal government is giving a signal for the preservation of a nationwide network of bookstores in Germany. We want to highlight these spiritual refuges and emphasize their meaning to our cultural landscape. They are indispensable for the diversity of our book culture and are places for cultural meetings and conversation about literature--a richness not available from online sellers."

--German culture minister Monika Grütters, describing the new German Bookstore Prize, created by the government and recognizing the best independent bookstores in Germany, as quoted by Boersenblatt. The first winners of the prize, for which 108 bookstores have been nominated, will be announced September 17.

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


Vermont Book Award Inaugural Prize

Vermont College of Fine Arts has founded the Vermont Book Award "to honor the literature and unique artistic culture found within the state of Vermont." The award has a $5,000 prize and will encompass poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and children's literature that takes place in Vermont, is published by a Vermont press or is written by a Vermonter.

The prize's nominating committee consists of 13 independent bookstores in Vermont, chaired by Claire Benedict from Bear Pond Books in Montpelier. "The knowledge of our local booksellers is invaluable in the selection process," said Miciah Bay Gault, Vermont Book Award coordinator and director of the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The six finalists for the inaugural award are:

Winter Ready: Poems by Leland Kinsey (Green Writers Press)
Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes: Poems by Kerrin McCadden (New Issues Poetry & Prose)
If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir by Jessica Hendry Nelson (Counterpoint)
Museum of the Americas by Gary Lee Miller (Fomite)
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath (Delacorte)

The winner will be announced on September 26 at a gala dinner and awards ceremony on the VCFA campus in Montpelier.

Milkweed Editions: The Shame by Makenna Goodman

NYRB Kids Paperback Line Launches in September

In September, New York Review Books is unveiling NYRB Kids, a children's paperback line for classic chapter books and YA novels. NYRB Kids, which draws from the press's hardcover Children's Collection imprint, will launch with The 13 Clocks by James Thurber, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, and The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill and Ronni Solbert, both with September 29 pub dates.

Gaiman called The 13 Clocks "one of the great kids' books of the last century." NYRB published a 50th anniversary hardcover edition of The Pushcart War last year.

In Spring 2016, NYRB Kids will publish An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden and The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay, with an introduction by Philip Pullman. The imprint will publish two to three titles a season.

"Children who are eager and independent readers, on the look-out for rich new fare for their imaginations, are the intended audience," said Edwin Frank, editorial director of NYRB Classics.

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

'Erin's Law' Author on Breaking the Silence

An hour-long special called Breaking the Silence will air commercial-free on TLC on Sunday, August 30; the program centers on "the challenging journey faced by those affected by child sexual abuse." One of those people is Erin Merryn, author of the memoirs Stolen Innocence, Living for Today and An Unimaginable Act (all published by Health Communications). The documentary is part of a partnership between TLC and the abuse prevention organizations RAINN and Darkness to Light that also includes ongoing public service announcements and information at, offering resources, experts and calls-to-action for pending legislation. 

One such initiative is "Erin's Law"--created by the author--which mandates age-appropriate education on personal body safety for children in schools; it has already passed in 26 states. Merryn has filmed a PSA about her experiences that's currently airing on TLC.

Berkley Books: The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Anderson

Obituary Note: Liz Perle

Liz Perle

Liz Perle, a writer and former publishing executive "who co-founded Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families navigate the complex worlds of entertainment, media and technology," died Thursday, the New York Times reported. She was 59. Perle held executive posts at Times Books, Bantam Books, Prentice Hall and Addison-Wesley. In 2006, her book Money, a Memoir: Women, Emotions and Cash was published. She "eventually got a job as an editor at large for HarperSanFrancisco, where she worked with the actor Sidney Poitier and the primatologist Jane Goodall. She and [Jim] Steyer started Common Sense Media a few years later," the Times noted.

A remembrance on Common Sense Media's website noted: "Those of us who had the unbelievable pleasure of working with Liz since Common Sense was founded 12 years ago know that her talent, passion, wisdom, humor and loving spirit infuse every aspect of our organization and the work we do for kids and families. We recently created the Liz Perle Fellowship for Editorial Excellence as one of several ways to recognize her extraordinary contributions and gifts to all of us."


Image of the Day: Paula McLain's Petoskey Double Header

Paula McLain played a double header in Petoskey, Mich., to celebrate the three-week birthday of her latest novel, Circling the Sun (Ballantine Books). McLean & Eakin Booksellers hosted both a sold-out luncheon and an evening event on Tuesday, August 18. At the luncheon, which took place at the historic Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey, McClain gave an explanation of what it's like to go from having your books remaindered or destroyed due to a lack of sales to being a New York Times bestselling author. The evening event was held in conjunction with the Petoskey Public Library, at the Crooked Tree Arts Center Auditorium, and pulled in another crowd of eager McLain fans.

Meskis on Future Owners: 'Fitting in Beautifully'

The orientation that future owners Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan have been undergoing since joining the management team at the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., on July 1 has been going well: owner Joyce Meskis told the Denver Post that the couple are "fitting in just beautifully. It's what I had hoped for in terms of their coming to Denver. It's coming to fruition in a very good and I think exceptional way."

Kristen Gilligan and Len Vlahos

The orientation, which will continue into November, covers "every aspect of the stores' operation," and so far has included a morning on the truck that goes between the Tattered Cover stores, meeting with book buyers, receiving shipments of books, learning how to operate the registers and doing book returns.

Noting that "Joyce is leaving shoes that we cannot fill," Vlahos told the newspaper, "what Joyce is leaving behind when she retires is the philosophy she's put in place. It's customer centric--the customer is at the heart of everything we do--it's about the protection of the First Amendment, and it's about the community."

Still, he and Gilligan are offering "a fresh perspective.... The fact that we're coming in, wedded to the philosophy and ethos of the store and respectful of the legacy--but also with a fresh set of eyes, I think--is really healthy for the Tattered Cover and healthy for the customers and community as well."

At times, the orientation has included the couple's two young children. Already seven-year-old Charlie has handsold a book: Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems.

Inside the Folger Library's Reading Room

Inviting readers to take a peek "inside the Folger Library's beautiful reading room," the Washingtonian featured a photo tour of the Paster Reading Room, where "scholars pore over 560,000 books, manuscripts, playbills, and paintings, the highlights of which are 82 Shakespeare 'first folios'--more than a third of all known copies of the 1623 collection of the Bard's works."

'An Hour in a Real-Life Bookstore'

In a Psychology Today piece headlined "What I Learned After an Hour In a Real-life Bookstore," Madelyn Blair recounted her recent exploration of Canadian indie Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C.:

"Choosing a book online is almost a stripped down, sterile exercise: read the reviews, check the image, look inside, read references from others and make the purchase. It's convenient and it is a means to an end. Therefore, by comparison, visiting a brick-and-mortar bookstore feels like a leisurely experience, akin to visiting with a friend while sipping tea and sharing life stories. This was the feeling I got upon entering Munro's Books....

"The hallmark of a good book is when can learn something--anything--just from reading a short snippet. When you get deeper into the book, then you are privy to an entire conversation, from which you can glean so much. In bookstores like this one, it's clear that someone with an equally strong affinity for the value of books has taken the time to select the authors in question for what they bring to the table on a particular subject. My visit with these books left me full of new insights, even from those with which I had only spent a short time."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Buzz Bissinger on Today

This morning on Fox & Friends: Sadie Robertson, co-author of Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values (Howard, $14.99, 9781476777818).


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


Tonight on a repeat of the Tonight Show: Dick Cavett, author of Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250070753).


Tonight on CNN Tonight: Glenn Beck, author of It IS About Islam: Exposing the Truth About ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran, and the Caliphate (Threshold Editions, $14.99, 9781501126123).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, 25th Anniversary Edition (Da Capo, $15.99, 9780306824203).

Books & Authors

Awards: Hugo and Ned Kelly Winners

This year's Hugos were the focus of fierce battles when, as Wired described it, "three white, male authors" organized a campaign that resulted in "a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees." After that, "the balloting [became] a referendum on the future of the genre. Would sci-fi focus, as it has for much of its history, largely on brave white male engineers with ray guns fighting either a) hideous aliens or b) hideous governments who don't want them to mine asteroids in space? Or would it continue its embrace of a broader sci-fi: stories about non-traditionally gendered explorers and post-singularity, post-ethnic characters who are sometimes not men and often even have feelings?"

Altogether 5,950 people voted, 65% more than ever before, and the more inclusive view of sci-fi won, which is the reason several major categories, which had been determined by the "white, male authors," had no winners--their favorites were the only titles on the ballot. The World Science Fiction Society noted that the rejected slates of finalists "equals the total number of times that WSFS members have presented No Award in the entire history of the Hugo Awards, most recently in 1977."

All that said, the Hugo winners, presented on Saturday at Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, are:

Best Novel: The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books)
Best Novella: No Award
Best Novelette: "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt (Lightspeed, April 2014)
Best Short Story: No Award
Best Related Work: No Award
Best Graphic Story: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Orphan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried," written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)
Best Editor, Short Form: No Award
Best Editor, Long Form: No Award
Best Professional Artist: Julie Dillon
Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner and Christie Yant
Best Fanzine: Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J. Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie and Helen J. Montgomery
Best Fancast: Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
Best Fan Writer: Laura J. Mixon
Best Fan Artist: Elizabeth Leggett
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Wesley Chu


The Australian Crime Writers Association has announced the 2015 winners of the Ned Kelly Awards, which are chosen by judging panels made up of booksellers, book industry luminaries, readers, critics, reviewers and commentators. The category winners are:

Fiction: Eden by Candice Fox
First fiction: Quota by Jock Serong
True crime: This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner
S.D. Harvey short story: "Short Term People" by Andrea Gillum

Book Review

Review: Negroland: A Memoir

Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon, $25 hardcover, 9780307378453, September 8, 2015)

President Obama is not the only member of the "black elite" who lives in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood--nor the first. Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times culture and book critic Margo Jefferson (On Michael Jackson) and her family moved there in the 1960s, after spending her childhood in the more middle-class Park Manor bungalows. Negroland is her memoir of the challenges and particular circumstances of growing up in what she calls the "Third Race, poised between the masses of Negroes and all classes of Caucasians... we cared for our people--we loved our people, but we refused to be held back by the lower element." Her father was the head of pediatrics at Provident, the country's oldest black hospital. Her mother was active in the national black social club the Northeasterners. Jefferson and her sister, Denise, belonged to the national children's club Jack and Jill of America, and attended K-12 classes at the prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory School--an integrated school "which made sure that class likeness compensated for race difference... a small number of bourgeois blacks amid bourgeois whites who'd decided their presence was acceptable." From such relative comfort, Jefferson moved on to college at Brandeis, became active in theater and immersed herself in the charged works of Ntozake Shange and Adrienne Kennedy, struggled to define her place in the social turmoil of feminism and civil rights, and entered the competitive New York City world of professional criticism and academia.

Although Negroland includes brief biographies of several notable members of the historical "colored society," it is mostly Jefferson's own story. School year by school year, she reveals the subtle influences of her economic and social position and its impact on her growing racial sensitivity. She lists the perceived physical attributes of acceptable beauty: "Skin Color: tan, moccasin, fawn, café au lait.... Grades of hair: thick lustrous braids... glossy with waves and curls.... Noses: narrow tapering... flared nostrils." Her idols came from Ebony magazine and included successful black entertainers like Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and Eartha Kitt. She was raised to live up to the high expectations of the black elite--"Negro privilege had to be circumspect: impeccable but not arrogant; confident yet obliging; dignified, not intrusive." A tall order that influenced Jefferson's journals, writing and friendships throughout her life.

Jefferson's frank discussion of her own experiences in the relatively narrow "third race" adds a fresh, nuanced perspective to the United States' continuing conversation about race. She summarizes her own ambivalence in Negroland's conclusion: "There are days when I still want to dismantle this constructed self of mine. You did it so badly, I think.... And then I tell myself, so what? Go on." While this may echo Samuel Beckett's famous conclusion to his novel The Unnamable: "You must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on," the source of her determination is wholly rooted in her own distinctive experience. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Journalist and critic Margo Jefferson's memoir of growing up among Chicago's small circle of "black elite" adds fresh perspective to the uncomfortable history of race in the United States.

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