Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 9, 2015

Inkyard Press: Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros

Chronicle Prism: Men in Blazers Present Gods of Soccer: The Pantheon of the 100 Greatest Soccer Players (According to Us) by Roger Bennett, Michael Davies, and Miranda Davis; illustrated by Nate Kitch

Neal Porter Books: I Don't Care by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal

Tor Nightfire: The Spite House by Johnny Compton

Candlewick Press (MA): Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Monica Mikai

Popular Book Company (Usa): Complete Curriculum Success Series, Math Success Series, English Success Series, 365 Fun Days

Yen on: Fox Tales by Tomihiko Morimi, translated by Winifred Bird


Tables Turned: Amazon Books Gets Showroomed

Showroomer Allison Stieger and family at Elliott Bay Book Company.

The tables were turned on Amazon last week after it opened a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle, Wash.: on Friday, Paul Constant, a founder of the Seattle Review of Books, posted on Facebook and tweeted what was originally considered a joke, but was not: "Serious offer: first person who showrooms Amazon Books gets a gift certificate to @ElliottBayBooks. Send pictures." Shelf Awareness joined the fun by sharing the offer.

Within hours, Allison Stieger browsed at Amazon Books, found The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, then bought a copy of the book from Queen Anne Book Company's website. After she picked up the book at Queen Anne, she tweeted a picture of it and the receipt, leading Constant to tweet: "I believe @allisonstieger is the 1st person to showroom Amazon Books. Saw it @Amazon and bought it @queenannebookco." (Queen Anne complimented Stieger on the irony of the book's title.)

Stieger received a gift certificate for $75 from the Seattle Review of Books and Elliott Bay, which tweeted: "The magic of showrooming revenge comes full circle, @paulconstant! Wonderful to meet you, @allisonstieger!" (Constant recounts the tale here.)

Tiny Reparations Books: Gone Like Yesterday by Janelle M. Williams

B&N: More Non-Book Items; 'All-American Art Unwind'

Barnes & Noble's new CEO Ron Boire will continue the emphasis of his predecessor, Mike Huseby, on bolstering the selection in B&N stores of toys and other non-book items, the company's fastest-growing categories, Bloomberg reported.

New "do-it-yourself merchandise" includes Gundam anime kits, Raspberry Pi computer kits, art supplies, journals and "even a Benedict Cumberbatch coloring book." B&N is also sponsoring more events that aren't author talks, including coloring-book days (see below) and coding and 3-D printing weekends. (B&N sells a $350 da Vinci Jr. 3-D printer.)

On a tour of B&N's Union Square location in New York City, Bloomberg also noted that the store "doubled its selection of manga comic books from last year and expanded its array of graphic novels and anime figures." In addition, for the holiday this year, B&N has "cut featured titles highlighted in a display at the front of the store by almost half, to 55. Instead, there are more copies of each, and popular books are now presented in several categories. Stacy Schiff's new book on the Salem witch trials, for example, pops up in history, bestsellers and a new section called 'Popular Life Stories.' Overall, the company is promoting more titles than in past years."

As for new titles, Mary Amicucci, B&N's v-p of adult trade and children's books, told the Wall Street Journal, "There may not be one stand-out title yet, but I think the breadth and complexion of this holiday's new titles is better than in 2014."

And for the second year in a row, B&N is offering signed editions of more than 500,000 books by 120 authors, which the Journal called "a popular and successful promotion last year."


Looking to capitalize on the adult coloring book craze, B&N stores will stage the All-American Art Unwind this Saturday, November 14, inviting customers to "Create," "Connect"  and "Color." The focus of the promotion is the opportunity to color a piece of art designed by artist Millie Marotta, creator of bestselling Animal Kingdom and Tropical World coloring books.

Adweek noted that B&N has "one obvious advantage" over Amazon, "and that's spacious, comfortable stores--647 of them at last count--stores that the chain has gotten extremely good at turning into event spaces, most often for book signings with bestselling authors or celebrities hawking their latest tell-all tomes.... Barnes & Noble's upcoming event also demonstrates that experiential marketing--to use the trade parlance--is becoming an increasingly important way for all brands to stand out amid the numbing sameness of the retail transaction."

Meghan Labot, managing director of Spring Design Partners, observed that like many retailers, B&N "likely recognizes that sales are tied to people walking through the door and staying for a while. It's a logical solution and one that clearly the online retail cannot replicate.... It would be wise for Barnes & Noble to think about how they can truly re-image their brand experience, beyond adding a coffee shop or coloring station."

GLOW: Disney-Hyperion: Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

Bodhi Tree Bookstore Reincarnation Begins

The Bodhi Tree bookstore, the iconic New Age store in West Hollywood, Calif., that closed in 2012, is returning, according to an e-mail from new owner Stephen Powers and the Bodhi Tree team, which includes former customers of the store. Powers said that Bodhi Tree founders Stan Madson and Phil Thompson are acting as advisers. "Our whole team is excited to once again bring you spiritual education and life-optimization with authors and teachers that made us your home of discovery and awakening since 1970."

The reincarnation of Bodhi Tree begins with an online store, "with all your favorite books and greatly expanded lifestyle and sacred home categories." After that, Bodhi Tree will open a bricks-and-mortar store, "a new, accessible retail location in Los Angeles, which is in the planning stages." Bodhi Tree will also publish a journal and produce "transformational media."

Harper: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Scholastic, We Need Diverse Books Highlight 75 Titles

Scholastic Reading Club and We Need Diverse Books have jointly created a special edition Scholastic Reading Club flyer highlighting 75 books for grades 4-8 that feature diverse characters and storylines. The books, from a range of publishers, were chosen by Scholastic editors and We Need Diverse Books and consist of "award-winning titles, beloved classics and new releases" that include "race and ethnicity, multiculturalism, different religions, LGBTQ stories, individuals with disabilities and more."

The flyer will reach more than 100,000 classrooms and 2.5 million students. All book orders are submitted by a teacher on behalf of his or her classroom, and, for every purchase, the classroom earns reward points that are redeemable for books and other classroom materials. Additional pertinent titles are available online at

"The goal of this offer is to reflect the world as it is: filled with stories and experiences as diverse as you find in American classrooms today," said Ann Marie Wong, editorial director, Scholastic Reading Club. "Scholastic Reading Club evokes such strong emotional memories for children when they find the perfect book for the first time. This special collaboration with We Need Diverse Books helps all kids discover the power and joy of reading."
"We are thrilled to partner with Scholastic on the Reading Club flyer, and to help all kids find both mirrors of their own experiences and windows into the experiences of others," said Dhonielle Clayton, v-p of librarian services for We Need Diverse Books.

BINC: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship

HMH Launching SFF Line

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is launching a new science fiction and fantasy line called John Joseph Adams Books/HMH that will be edited by John Joseph Adams, editor at large. The line's first three titles are simultaneous hardcover and paperback editions of Shift, Dust and Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey, which will be published in February.

Adams was the series editor of the publisher's first Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, part of its Best American series.  Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher at HMH commented: "After working with John as the series editor for that volume, we realized he is the perfect person to help us curate a focused, high-quality fiction list."

Adams is the editor of other anthologies, including Wastelands, The Living Dead and The Apocalypse Triptych. He is also the editor and publisher of the magazines Nightmare and the Hugo Award-winning Lightspeed, and is a producer for Wired's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Adams said, "Science fiction and fantasy literature is experiencing a golden age. There's more high-quality genre literature being written now than ever before. Thus far I've devoted my entire career to publishing genre short fiction, but I now look forward to applying that same level of curation to finding the best new novels and new authors."

Obituary Note: Margaret Phillips

Margaret Phillips

Margaret Phillips, co-founder of the Northern Woman's Bookstore in Thunder Bay, Ontario, as well as "feminist foremother of Northwestern Ontario, and social justice advocate for women, Aboriginal people and marginalized groups," died November 4.

Noting that the "bookstore she founded is known as the last remaining women's bookstore in Canada," CBC News quoted Rosalind Lockyer, a friend for two decades, saying Phillips managed the "extremely difficult" task of keeping her independent bookstore open for over 30 years as a "one of a kind" community hub.

"She knew what books were right for what people and why," Lockyer told the Thunder Bay News. "She was a wealth of knowledge and she took the time."


Image of the Day: Wordstock, with Art

photo: Diane Prokop

The annual Wordstock book festival in Portland, Ore., relaunched Saturday after taking a year off to revamp. It returned with new leadership, Literary Arts, and a new venue, the Portland Art Museum. Festival goers had the pleasure of meeting their favorite authors in the buildings that compose the museum campus, amid the artwork. Here, author Margaret Malone reads from her debut story collection, People Like You (Atelier26 Books), in front of Girl with a Cigarette by Moses Soyer.

Mountain Fold Books: 'One-of-a-Kind Find'

Calling Mountain Fold Books a "one-of-a-kind find," the Gazette profiled the Colorado Springs, Colo., business, which opened last year and "is equal parts bookstore, art gallery and event space."

"We started with the idea that there is a lot of love for what bookstores have done," said Marina Eckler, executive director of the nonprofit independent bookstore and reading room that focuses on contemporary small press books, journals and magazines. "We're located between GOCA (the UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art 121) and Shuga's, and there are nice things happening in the neighborhood. Here, more things are possible in terms of who might see the space."

Mia Alvarado, MFB's literary events curator, added: "We've been event-driven right from the get-go. We opened the shop knowing the community would let us know what was needed.... Very quickly Colorado Springs--because of Mountain Fold Books--has landed on literary and artistic maps that it wasn't on before."

Ray on Booksellers: 'Friendship, Dedication & Kindness'

Shann Ray, whose debut novel, American Copper (see the book trailer here), was recently published by Unbridled Books, was interviewed by author David Abrams for the NW Book Lovers blog. One of our favorite exchanges:

Shann Ray

Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with independent booksellers? How did they impact the sales and reception of your books?  

Independent booksellers are the heart and soul of everything great in American book life! They gave such support and open-heartedness to me with the story collection American Masculine, I'm still moved thinking of specific booksellers that have made a tremendous difference to me personally. In order to thank them I wrote brief love essays (run at Tin House online, and NW Book Lovers) to each of the following three bookstores: Elk River Books in Livingston, Mont.; Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Wash.; and Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Wash. I think of Andrea Peacock and Marc Beaudin at Elk River in my former hometown Livingston. I've never seen a place with such a purposeful and beautiful tradition of hand-selected titles. I think of Jess Lucht at Auntie's in my current hometown Spokane. Spacious and homey, Auntie's has large wood stacks and hardwood aisles, and very thoughtful booksellers who can handsell with the best of them. And I think of Laurie Paus of Elliott Bay in Seattle. What a person! What a store! A landmark of Seattle's art scene. Laurie set up my reading there, and we had a beer and talked about Robert Frost's poem 'Directive,' and became friends for life. If I name the gifts of the amazing independent booksellers I know, what comes to mind is friendship, dedication, and kindness.

Personnel Changes at PRH Fulfillment

At the Penguin Random House Fulfillment facilities:

Alison Martin, currently v-p, fulfillment, operations and IT systems, is promoted to v-p, customer service and data management.

Alyssa Oles is named director, fulfillment operations and IT services.

Steve Kerzel is promoted to associate director, distribution systems.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Shonda Rhimes All Over TV

Good Morning America: Shonda Rhimes, author of Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476777092). She will also appear today on Ellen and Nightline and tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the Nightly Show.

NPR's Morning Edition: Stan Lee, co-author of Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir (Touchstone, $30, 9781501107726).

Fresh Air: Riad Sattouf, author of The Arab of the Future: A Graphic Memoir (Metropolitan Books, $26, 9781627793445).

Diane Rehm: Isabel Allende, author of The Japanese Lover: A Novel (Atria, $28, 9781501116971). She will also be on Sirius XM's Entertainment Weekly Radio tomorrow.

Tavis Smiley: David Maraniss, author of Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781476748382).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547).

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Senator Amy Klobuchar, author of The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland (Holt, $30, 9781627794176); Ethan Hawke, author of Rules for a Knight (Knopf, $18, 9780307962331); and Senator Claire McCaskill, author of Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476756752). McCaskill will also appear on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

Comedy Central's At Midnight: Judah Friedlander, author of If the Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons (Hachette Books, $16.99, 9780316306959).

Imus in the Morning: Patrick Robinson, author of The Lion of Sabray: The Afghani Warrior Who Defied the Taliban and Saved the Life of Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (Touchstone, $27, 9781501117985).

Live with Kelly and Michael: Rainn Wilson, author of The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954538). He will also appear on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Diane Rehm: John Grisham, author of Rogue Lawyer (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385539432).

Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy, Biographers' Club Winners

The winners of the 2015 World Fantasy Awards are:

Novel: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Novella: "We Are All Completely Fine" by Daryl Gregory
Short Story: "Do You Like to Look at Monsters?" by Scott Nicolay
Anthology: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Collection: Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen Marshall and The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings by Angela Slatter
Artist: Samuel Araya
Special Award--Professional: Sandra Kasturi and Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
Special Award--Non-Professional: Ray B. Russell and Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press

Ramsey Campbell and Sheri S. Tepper won life achievement awards


The Biographers' Club recently awarded three prizes at the National Liberal Club in London. Alan Cumming won the £3,500 (about $5,280) Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for his memoir Not My Father's Son. Judge James Naughtie called the book a "brilliant antidote to the celebrity memoir, because his story isn't raw for the sake of it. The violence and mental distress of a broken family, and the strange dichotomy of his youth, are rendered with an eloquence and wit that set it apart. This is a real book."

John Julius Norwich received the Lifetime Services to Biography Prize, and Francesca Wade won the £2,000 ($3,020) Tony Lothian Prize for the best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography for Square Haunting: A Group Biography of Eight Women Who Lived in Mecklenburgh Square Between the Wars.  

WSJ. Magazine's Literary Innovator: Knausgaard

WSJ. Magazine's 2015 Literary Innovator award went to Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, who "risked everything by writing My Struggle, a 3,600-page account of his life." Knausgaard "has become one of the 21st century's greatest literary sensations" and "is quite probably in line to receive a Nobel Prize in literature for his epic saga of what he describes as the tormented inner life of one male.' "

"I wrote it rather blindly, I didn't think it was exceptional," Knausgaard told WSJ. Magazine. "I thought this would be a minor literary book, I thought it would be a step down from my other books, I thought maybe it was boring and uninteresting and really about nothing." Of his fame, he observed: "I think people almost vomit when they hear my name because I'm so often in the news. It's true. Oh, God. I try to keep a low profile in Norway, but it's hard. It's terrible."

Book Review

Review: The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages

The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages by Andrew Blauner, editor (Simon & Schuster, $27 hardcover, 9781476789965, November 10, 2015)

Assemble a group of novelists, poets, professors and journalists and ask them to write an essay on a book of the Bible that has special meaning for them and there's a good chance the result will be a book that will enlighten, provoke and at times infuriate readers. Whether believers or skeptics, the 32 contributors literary agent Andrew Blauner has recruited to that task do an admirable job sharing their strikingly diverse perspectives in The Good Book.

Touching on both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, these essays overlap little in substance or style. The strongest pieces are rooted less in religious doctrine than they are in the life experiences of their authors. Lois Lowry, for one, evokes the Book of Ruth in telling the story of the marriage of her son, a United States fighter pilot serving in Germany, to a native of that country. The gut punch she delivers near the end of the essay easily is the emotional high point of the volume.

Similarly engaging is Samuel Freedman's story, tied to the enigmatic account of the prophet Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones, of how he "learned how to be a Jew at a black church." Michael Eric Dyson powerfully connects the binding of Isaac to the plight of young black men like Trayvon Martin, while Cokie Roberts (a devout Catholic) and her husband, Steve (a secular Jew), delightfully explain how Cokie emerged, in their mixed marriage, as "the best Jew in the family."

While every reader will have a different favorite, a few contributions simply don't rise to the overall quality of the collection. Daniel Menaker offers a pallid "postmodern exegesis" of the Book of Jonah. For all the freshness and vigor of her short fiction, Lydia Davis's literary analysis of Psalm 23 is surprisingly arid. Given the sympathetic tone of most of the pieces, Blauner ends the books on a startling note, with the novelist Robert Coover's ferocious essay, "The Bad Book," excoriating the Bible as a "for the most part unbearable diatribe exhibiting an appalling and infantile view of the universe."

As The Good Book's contributors demonstrate, whether it's viewed as a source of spiritual guidance, a work of literature or history or simply as an anchor for memory, in the hands of writers as talented as the group Andrew Blauner has gathered here, the Bible's riches are both inexhaustible and infinitely challenging. That's enough to make one hope that a sequel to this stimulating book, featuring a different chorus of voices, might be in the works. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Thirty-two writers share keen insights into the biblical passages most meaningful to them.

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