Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 8, 2016

Mariner Books: A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis by Vanessa Nakate

Scholastic Press: Room to Dream (a Front Desk Novel) by Kelly Yang

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother by Samantha Edwards

David Zwirner Books: Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus, illustrated by Rose Blake

Tor Books: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Disney-Hyperion: The Fowl Twins Get What They Deserve (a Fowl Twins Novel, Book 3) by Eoin Colfer

Sourcebooks Landmark: In Every Mirror She's Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Dragons Are the Worst! by Alex Willan


New York City's St. Mark's Bookshop Closing

Sad news. After several years of financial difficulties, St. Mark's Bookshop in New York City is closing. The store started a 50% off clearance sale last Thursday and has suspended online sales. The final straw came in the form of a marshal's notice from New York State for $34,408.76 in unpaid taxes. James West, a lawyer for St. Mark's, told Bedford+Bowery, "The State doesn't usually play games. That was pretty much it."

Bob Contant, co-owner of the shop with Terry McCoy, confirmed to Bedford+Bowery that "unless there are investors that step up at the last minute," the store will close. "We don't have the money to continue."

The store also owes at least $62,000 in back rent and faces eviction from its landlord, the New York City Housing Authority. (In 2014, St. Mark's moved to its current spot, where the rent is $6,000 a month, a substantial reduction from its old location.) St. Mark's has also been in legal disputes with Baker & Taylor, to which it owes about $14,000. Apparently patient with late payments and non-payments for a long time, according to Bedford+Bowery, B&T went to court last year, won the case and put a freeze on St. Mark's bank account, which contained nowhere near enough money to pay what the store owed.

West said that the store "ran into too many bad things happening all at once, and they could not get out from under it. It started with the move and this new economic environment. I don't think they ever got the momentum going in the new space."

Contant has said that business didn't fully recover from the Great Recession, and that the store had insufficient inventory for some time. The costs of the 2014 move and being closed for a month before the new location opened also contributed to its shaky financial state. Founded in 1977, the store ran several fundraising campaigns recently, with varying levels of success.

Rebel Girls: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic, 4 edited by Lilly Workneh

East City Bookshop Opening on Capitol Hill in D.C.


In April, Laurie Gillman is opening East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill Corner reported. The 3,200-square-foot store will hold its grand opening May Day weekend, which coincides with the Literary Hill Bookfest at nearby Eastern Market.

East City Bookshop aims to become "a gathering place for book lovers of all ages, a place to talk about books, ideas, to learn something new or revisit something you once knew well," the store says on its website. "We plan to provide top-notch customer service, author events, books clubs, and more. We want to connect you with the books you want and need. And some that maybe you didn't even know you wanted and needed." The store will also offer toys, gifts and "bookish items."

Gillman told Capitol Hill Corner that the roots for her decision to open the store go back about a year, when "I realized that I was annoyed by the fact that I had to leave the neighborhood to go to a bookstore.... Then I became a little obsessed by the idea of an indie bookstore in my neighborhood. I couldn't let it go."

Area bookstores include used bookstores Capitol Hill Books and Riverby Books as well as children's bookstore the Fairy Godmother.

East City Bookshop will be located at 645 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20003; 202-669-7748.

Unbound: This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals by Erica Buist

Politics & Prose Opens 'Pop-Up Café'

The coffeeshop at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., is temporarily closed for renovation, but "some enterprising staff members have started a pop-up café in a nearby hallway," the bookseller reported. "Using a cart and table and exuding lots of good cheer, they’re selling coffee, teas, and several snack items until the full coffeehouse re-opens its doors."

P&P also noted that the renovation remains on schedule, and many of the previous coffeehouse staff "will be returning, so customers can count on seeing familiar faces behind the counter. But overseeing the operation will be someone new to P&P (although not to the neighborhood): Matt Carr, an owner of Little Red Fox up the street from the bookstore."

Book*hug Press: Letters to Amelia by Lindsay Zier-Vogel

Germany Applying Fixed Prices to E-Books

The German cabinet has approved extending the federal law fixing prices for printed books to prices for e-books, Reuters reported. The law will be applied to purchases in Germany as well as purchases by Germans from retailers abroad.

As in some other countries, the price maintenance law is intended to insure a stable book market that publishes a range of culturally important titles and support both bricks-and-mortar bookstores and publishers.

Reuters said that e-books account for less than 5% of Germany's book market, excluding textbooks, but that e-book sales have been growing.

Hyperion Avenue: A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm by Ginger Zee

Obituary Note: Alice Denham

Alice Denham, "who left a vivid chronicle of her literary and sexual adventures in her 2006 memoir, Sleeping with Bad Boys: A Juicy Tell-All of Literary New York in the Fifties and Sixties," died January 27, the New York Times reported. She was 89. Her books also include the novels My Darling from the Lions and Amo, as well as Secrets of San Miguel, "a tell-all chronicle of the expatriate artistic community in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, which she visited for many years."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Ballad for Sophie
by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia
trans. by Gabriela Soares

GLOW: Top Shelf Productions: Ballad for Sophie by Filipe Melo, illus. by Juan Cavia, trans. by Gabriela SoaresA reclusive French piano star recounts his epic rise and fall, from WWII France through the tumultuous disco era, to a young journalist who's hiding her own past, in this passionate, sophisticated graphic novel from writer and pianist/composer Filipe Melo and illustrator/filmmaker Juan Cavia. Publicist and marketing director Leigh Walton shares that Top Shelf selected this work for translation from the Portuguese for its stunning blend of "the grandeur of classical music, the outrageous drama of rock and roll, the grim history of 20th-century Europe... and the bittersweet unearthing of family secrets." Cavia's palette evokes the lush light of a late evening sun, and his accomplished illustrations breathe life into Melo's complex saga of fame, regret and redemption. --Jaclyn Fulwood

(Top Shelf Productions, $24.99 paperback, 9781603094986,
September 28, 2021)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Westboro Baptists 'No-Show' at Books Inc.

photo: Books Inc.

Westboro Baptist Church, the publicity-seeking hate group that had announced last week it would be picketing an event Saturday at Books Inc. in the Castro featuring Jase Peeples and his LGBT-themed children's book Square Zair Pair, was a "no-show" Saturday as "dozens of people from the LGBTQ and allied communities showed up in force to send a message of love and support counter to Westboro, and to support Peeples," Hoodline reported.

"Just the threat of bringing hate galvanized a community to make the book's message stronger," Peeples said. "Love and acceptance will always win."

Books Inc. tweeted after the event: "Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all you beautiful people for coming out & supporting Jase, Books Inc. & LOVE!!! #‎squarezairpair."

Happy 20th Birthday, Clues Unlimited!


Congratulations to Clues Unlimited, Tucson, Ariz., which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Inside Tucson Business noted that how "the locally owned, 600-square-foot, independent bookstore came to outlast a big name book pusher like Borders is a story some might think would be found in the fiction section. But to owner Christine Burke it makes perfect sense that her business has maintained its foothold in Tucson as one of only three independent bookstores in the Old Pueblo." Clues Unlimited is "exactly what it started out to be: A niche place to get a good crime/mystery novel and an owner with the experience and knowledge to know what her customers like to read."  

"I have to read books all the time so people know I know what I'm talking about," said Burke. "It's tremendously rewarding to recommend a book and have that person come back in and say, 'I absolutely loved it.' "

Cool Idea of the Day: Kids Poetry Meet & Greet

"A group of young children learning the rhyme and reason of poetry can now call themselves published poets," WGME-13 noted in its report on a recent "Kids Poetry Meet & Greet" event hosted by Letterpress Books in Portland, Maine.

The bookstore's Karen Bakshoian recalled: "We had such a grand afternoon when the children from the First Lutheran School came over for their Kids Poetry Meet & Greet in the bookstore! Their book, Never Ending Fall, was edited by Joel Carpenter. The store was full with students autographing their books, teachers, parents, grandparents, the publisher and a news cameraman, who interviewed several of the young poets as they read their poems. Needless to say, all the books were sold!"

Pennie Picks Georgia

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe by Dawn Tripp (Random House, $28, 9781400069538) as her pick of the month for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"I have always been awestruck by Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings. The bold, bright colors and O'Keeffe's experimentation with the scale of flowers and other natural objects are as beautiful as they are intense. The same can be said for this month's book pick, Georgia, by Dawn Tripp.

"In 1916, O'Keeffe travels to New York City for an exhibit of her work. There she meets photographer and art dealer Alfred Stieglitz. The two soon fall into a tempestuous relationship. This fictionalized account of O'Keeffe's life looks at the artist's search for love and artistic freedom, along with the sacrifices she had to make. If you enjoyed Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan, you will love this book."

Personnel Changes at Da Capo; Portfolio/Sentinel

Michael Giarratano has joined Da Capo Press and Da Capo Lifelong Books as publicity manager in the Boston office. He has been a publicist at Harvard University Press and before that was a bookseller and manager at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., where he was event coordinator for six years. He also serves on the Boston Book Festival's program committee and consults for the Wisconsin Book Festival.


At Portfolio/Sentinel:

Margot Stamas has been promoted to publicity manager.

Taylor Fleming has been promoted to publicist. She joined the company in 2013.

Media and Movies

Movies: Guernsey

"Much-in-demand Brit actress Rosamund Pike [Gone Girl] is circling long-gestating project Guernsey," Deadline reported. Directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and based on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer, the project is being produced by Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books in Miami, Fla.) via the Mazur/Kaplan Company.

Deadline noted that there "is still a ways to go before this project gets a green light, but the script remains a perennial favorite among Brit film execs, who praise the richness of the central character. Financing is coming together for this, with a number of players potentially in the mix and kicking the tires, including StudioCanal."

Media Heat: Yann Martel on Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm: Yann Martel, author of The High Mountains of Portugal: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780812997170).

The Talk: L.A. Reid, author of Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who's Next (Harper, $29.99, 9780062274755).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Bill O'Reilly, author of The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times (Square Fish, $12.99, 9781250073402).

CNN's New DayE.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476763798).

Good Morning America: Teresa Giudice, co-author of Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again (Gallery, $26, 9781501135101). She will also appear on Nightline and Watch What Happens Live.

The Real: DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good, authors of The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love (Howard, $24, 9781501105296). They will also appear on Meredith Vieira.

Diane Rehm: Dr. Saul J. Weiner, co-author of Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care (Oxford University Press, $39.95, 9780190228996).

Bloomberg West: Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476753652).

Books & Authors

Awards: Plutarch Nominees

Biographers International Organization has selected 10 nominees for the 2015 Plutarch Award. After the Plutarch committee selects four finalists, members will vote and the winner will be announced June 4.

  • Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell (Viking)
  • Custer's Trial: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles (Knopf)
  • Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini (Doubleday)
  • Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times by Anne Heller (New Harvest)
  • Irrepressible: A Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham by Emily Bingham (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage by Betty Boyd Caroli (Simon & Schuster)
  • The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon 1952-1961 by Irwin F. Gellman (Yale)
  • Restless Ambition: Grace Hartigan, Painter by Cathy Curtis (Oxford)
  • Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown)
  • Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan (Harper)

Book Review

Review: A Doubter's Almanac

A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin (Random House, $28 hardcover, 9781400068265, February 16, 2016)

In his mesmerizing A Doubter's Almanac, Ethan Canin (America America) uses the gifts of mathematical genius, passed down from one generation to the next, as a window into a father-son story. His characters grapple with the burdens of their emotional legacy and their outsized talents as they face life's biggest questions: whether happiness or achievement matters most, the limits of the knowable, the close nature of friendship and rivalry, and the possibility of love in the midst of grief.

As a boy, growing up in a remote part of Northern Michigan, Milo Andret gave little thought to his mathematical gifts. He begins to awaken to the promise of his talent when he goes to U.C. Berkeley. It is the 1960s, and the pleasures around him--drugs, drinking, love--exert their appeal. He loses the love of his life to a rival who uses his own mathematical skills to land a lucrative job on Wall Street. Milo takes a position at Princeton, where his work earns him a Fields Medal, mathematics' highest honor, but he is an uncompromising and occasionally injudicious man, whose worsening alcoholism results in his eventual dismissal. He returns to the Midwest to teach at a small third-tier college, with his wife, Helena, and children Paulette and Hans in tow.

These events turn out to be the backstory; they are Hans's accounts of stories a dying Milo has told him. The novel then shifts perspective and becomes Hans's. He and Paulette have inherited their father's genius, but unlike Milo, Hans uses his talents on Wall Street and becomes impossibly wealthy. Like his father, he has struggled with addiction. After a leave of absence to care for his ailing father, he is forced out of his job and becomes a teacher in a small upstate town. A Doubter's Almanac, however, is not a novel principally about addiction and recovery, though recovery's lessons are just below the surface. Instead, Hans's preoccupation is to know his father, to understand the love each has for the other, despite each man's inability to express it.

The novel is moving, often surprising, loaded with tension and exquisitely layered. Its title refers to the impossibility of knowing anything with certainty, whether it is a mathematical proof or another person, or whether it is possible to defeat the killing demons of previous generations and bequeath a more hopeful legacy in turn. The parallels in the lives of father and son feel as true as life itself. Canin's writing is lucid and beautiful, with moments of high lyricism punctuating the storytelling. Mathematical logic itself becomes as intriguing as academic politics. Rich with thought-provoking themes, A Doubter's Almanac realizes its considerable ambitions. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: This intriguing multi-generational novel takes on mathematical logic, the mixed blessings of genius and the love between fathers and sons.

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