Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 31, 2016

Artisan Publishers: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Deluxe Edition): The World as You've Never Seen It Before by Patricia Schulz

St. Martin's Press: Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell by Tom Clavin

Chronicle Books: Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites (Baking Cookbooks, Pastry Books, Dessert Cookbooks, Gifts for Pastry Chefs) by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson, photographed by Gentl + Hyers, foreword by Alice Waters

Arcadia Publishing - Click Here For Your Kit!

St. Martin's Press: A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

Hamilcar Publications: Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Garden and the Golden Age of Boxing by Kevin Mitchell

New Harbinger Publications: Be Mighty: A Woman's Guide to Liberation from Anxiety, Worry, and Stress Using Mindfulness and Acceptance by Jill A. Stoddard


Robinson Wins Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

Marilynne Robinson

Author Marilynne Robinson has been named this year's recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which will be awarded September 24 during the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The prize honors "an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something new about the American experience."

Acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao said of the selection: "With the depth and resonance of her novels, Marilynne Robinson captures the American soul. We are proud to confer this prize on her and her extraordinary work."

"American literature has been a kind of spiritual home to me for as long as I have been aware of it. So this award could not be more gratifying," noted Robinson, author of the novels Lila, Home, Gilead and Housekeeping. Her five nonfiction books include The Givenness of Things: Essays and The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought.

"The writers that have always been most influential to me have been early American writers such as Walt Whitman and Melville," she told the Washington Post. "To a great extent, they have defined for me what language could do. So I really feel very much indebted to them and happy to be associated with them."

6th Annual Sharjah Library Conference - Register Now!

N.J. Bookstores: Well Read Closing; Womrath's Owner Retiring

Well Read Bookstore in Hawthorne, N.J., will close April 16 after six years in business, reported. Owning a bookstore was a lifelong dream for Bill Skees, who operates the store with his wife, Mary Ann. "And you know, it is the greatest job in the world," he said. "It really is. But it's one of the worst-paying jobs there is."

Skees had a "background in management and financial consulting, a carefully designed business plan, a strong social media presence, and lots of community involvement in the form of book clubs and store events, but that wasn't enough to make the business profitable," wrote, adding that the store "never performed up to his projections after opening in 2010. But he was encouraged that sales were increasing year over year during the first three years."

"As long as we were making positive year-over-year increases in sales, I felt that there was the possibility we could get it to a place where we could be profitable," he said. In 2014, sales were flat compared to 2013, and last year they were down 10%. "That pretty much told me that the best we could do here was a kind of sustenance farming."

Tenafly "could also lose its beloved downtown bookstore, Womrath's," noted. Owner Bob Kutik is retiring and is looking for a new tenant for his building. Although he would like to lease to a bookstore, that might not be a viable option.

"The book business isn't what it used to be when my dad started in 1949," he said, adding that a hard reality of modern bookselling is that "nowadays most people go into the business not to make money. They do it for the love of books."

New Press: Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America by Erik Nelson and Andrea Dennis, foreword by Killer Mike

MIT, Princeton, Yale Presses Form Joint Sales Team

The MIT Press, Princeton University Press and Yale University Press have formed a new joint U.S. sales team that will begin with the Spring 2017 list and consists of David LePere (covering Northeast and Mid-Atlantic), John Eklund (the Midwest) and Patricia Nelson (Northwest, Southwest, the Rockies, and California).

Eklund is retiring in August; a listing for his position will be posted soon. Princeton University Press's Steven Ballinger will continue to sell in the Western states through the Fall 2016 season before his retirement.

Customer service, credit and distribution for the MIT Press and Yale University Press remain with Triliteral, Cumberland, R.I. Customer service, credit and distribution for Princeton University Press are through Perseus Distribution.

The heads of the three presses emphasized the importance of indie bookstores.

"Together, we represent the best in scholarly publishing today," said John Donatich, director of Yale University Press. "And it's great to have the chance to work together to serve better those taste-making and culture-changing forces of the marketplace: independent bookstores and museum shops."

"These exceptional house reps help anchor our art and trade science lists," said Amy Brand, director of the MIT Press. "As operators of our own independent bookstore--in Cambridge's Kendall Square--we're always mindful of ways to strengthen our connection with the indie channel."

And Peter J. Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press, said, "Yale, MIT, and Princeton University Press comprise one of the great collective lists not only in university press publishing, but in all of publishing. We at Princeton look forward to working with our new partners at Yale and MIT to better serve readers in North America through our exciting new sales association."

KidsBuzz for the Week of 09.16.19

Amazon to Open Seventh California Warehouse

Amazon plans to open its seventh California fulfillment center in San Bernardino, where the company launched its first warehouse in the state in 2012. Employees at the 1.1-million-square-foot facility will handle smaller customer items, including books, electronics and toys. Amazon also operates fulfillment centers in Tracy, Patterson, Moreno Valley, Redlands and Rialto.

"We are excited Amazon continues to view San Bernardino as a great place to do business and we're proud to be part of Amazon's history and future," said Mayor R. Carey Davis. "The company continues hosting a robust public tours program, donating needed items and volunteer hours to local charities, and supporting local businesses on a regular basis."

GLOW: Andrews McMeel Publishing: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy

Turntable Project's Vinyl Now Returnable

The Turntable Project, which helps indie bookstores stock new vinyl and turntables while giving away record playing equipment to needy schools, removed a "no returns on vinyl" stipulation that had scared away some potential participants. Carl Lennertz, the project's creator, will personally take back unsold vinyl from indie stores.

"I knew the non-returnability of vinyl would be an issue for some, and after many enthusiastic meetings at Winter Institute in Denver--with the exception of the returns issue--I just decided I had to remove this one big obstacle," Lennertz said. "If I'm asking stores to make an investment, I have to as well."

Deer Park, distributor of Crosley products in the U.S., is the source for record players for booksellers participating in the Turntable Project, while vinyl orders are placed through a dedicated account manager at Alliance Entertainment. Free freight is available to booksellers on their first order with Alliance when they mention the Turntable Project. Bookstores participating in the project at any volume will be able to nominate a local underserved school to receive a turntable, with Deer Park donating Crosley record players to selected schools.

"The donation program to local schools, which will be decided by participating stores, begins this summer," said Lennertz. "Vinyl is booming, as everyone knows, and I hope indies get on this terrific added-sales opportunity ASAP. Those that have already are seeing hundreds of dollars in new sales a year to new customers of all ages, with many gift-sale bumps throughout the year."

Product information and ordering instructions are available from Lennertz via email.

Nimbus Publishing: The Big Dig by Lisa Harrington

Obituary Note: Imre Kertesz; Earl Hamner Jr.

Hungarian author Imre Kertesz, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature "for fiction largely drawn from his experience as a teenage prisoner in Nazi concentration camps," died today, the New York Times reported. He was 86. His novel Fateless "finally appeared in 1975 after a decade-long struggle to have it published" and was largely ignored, but "was later incorporated into Hungary's high school curriculum and Kertesz was awarded several state honors."

Becoming a Nobel laureate "suddenly propelled him to domestic and international fame," the Times noted. "His infrequent personal appearances in Hungary in wake of the Nobel Prize were a massive success, with hundreds of people standing in line for hours to get his autograph on their copies of his books."

Other books by Kertesz include Fiasco, Kaddish for an Unborn Child, The Pathseeker, Dossier K and Liquidation. His Hungarian publisher, Magveto Kiado, said that during the last months of his life, Kertesz helped prepare The Viewer, a selection of his diary entries between 1991 and 2001, which was published this month in Hungary.


Novelist and television writer Earl Hamner Jr., "who drew on warm memories of his Depression childhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to create the enormously popular 1970s television series The Waltons," died March 25, the New York Times reported. He was 92. In 1971, Hamner took an incident from his novel Spencer's Mountain and rewrote it as a TV special called The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which CBS picked it up as a series. His other books included Fifty Roads to Town, You Can't Get There from Here, The Avocado Drive Zoo and Generous Women: An Appreciation.


Image of the Day: Novel Discussion at Elliott Bay

photo: Richael Best

Tuesday night, Shelf Awareness associate editor Dave Wheeler (center) moderated a  well-attended discussion at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle with Garth Greenwell (r.), author of What Belongs to You (FSG), and Idra Novey (l.), author of Ways to Disappear (Little, Brown).

Malvern Books: 'Reading Broadly in Austin'

In an "Outposts" feature, World Literature Today wrote that since 2013, "Malvern Books has carved out its own niche in the Austin literary scene, one that will delight readers seeking books in translation and authors beyond their borders. The store specializes in books from independent publishers, and its selection focuses on emerging authors from around the world. It was satisfying to discover that many of the newest books reviewed in the pages of WLT could also be found gracing the shelves of this modest-sized bookshop.... the bookstore is also a welcoming community space for readers who want to join in hearty literary discussion or writers who want to try reading their work in front of an audience."

Heaven 'Just Opened Its First Independent Bookshop'

"If there's a heaven, it's just opened its first independent bookshop." That was the headline for a piece on the deaths of three legendary Indian booksellers over the past two years, beginning with "Delhi's beloved K.D. Singh of the Book Shop," and followed more recently by Balraj Bahri, founder of Bahrisons Booksellers in Delhi, and "Lucknow's iconic bookseller Ram Advani."

Balraj Bahri with his grandson Anuj.

Bahri's granddaughter Aanchal Malhotra wrote "there was something intangible and indescribable that bound these three men together. It was not just the fact that they each owned an iconic bookshop, but that, for them, bookselling was no mere vocation; it was a kind of devotion. In each of these shops, the relationship between the bookseller and the reader was considered unequivocally sacred....

"As far as I knew, the three men had never been together in the same place, but if I were to dream up an impossibly lovely dream, then such a partnership could be made possible. So, in my version of paradise, there was talk of a new bookshop in town, run by three dashing gentlemen from another era altogether.... It is important to mention here that this is no mere bookstore, but, rather, a hub of literary cultivation. It is an idyllic personification of a reading culture where the role of the bookseller extends far beyond ordering titles; it is to know every single title in the selection, every like and dislike of customers. And it is this very quality of the proprietors that draws regulars to the premises daily....

"The only thing we can do now is to be grateful for the incredible institutions these three men left behind. I am proud to be the part of a legacy that includes not just my family, but also a countless number of readers, writers, publishers, distributors, salesmen, and staff who together make up the life of a bookshop."

Personnel Changes at HMH, Artisan

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Laurie Brown, senior v-p of sales and marketing, is becoming senior v-p, associate trade group publisher and business development.

Maire Gorman, v-p sales and children's marketing, is becoming senior v-p, sales.

Adriana Rizzo is joining the Trade Publishing Group as v-p, marketing. She was formerly senior director, marketing, at ESPN, where she spearheaded initiatives for digital and mobile products. Before that, she led consumer marketing teams at Verizon and mobile start-ups SNAC, Inc., and Digicel Mobile.


Theresa Collier is joining Artisan as senior publicist & associate marketing manager. She was formerly a publicist at Bloomsbury.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeff Passan on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jeff Passan, author of The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports (Harper, $26.99, 9780062400369).


CBS This Morning: Alison Stewart, author of Junk: Digging Through America's Love Affair with Stuff (Chicago Review Press, $26.99, 9781613730553). She will also be on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday on Saturday.

Meredith Vieira: Lauren Conrad, author of Lauren Conrad Celebrate (Dey Street, $28.99, 9780062438324).

Entertainment Tonight: Shirley MacLaine, author of Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure (Atria, $24, 9781501136412).

Movies: Fool Me Once; Alice Through the Looking Glass

Julia Roberts will star in Fool Me Once, based on Harlan Coben's recent novel, Deadline reported, adding that Roberts will also produce with her partners Lisa Gillan and Marisa Yeres Gill through their Red Om Films banner.


"Highlighting Pink's version of Jefferson Airplane's psychedelic chestnut 'White Rabbit'--and ending with a look at Humpty Dumpty and his sad fate--Disney's new trailer for Alice Through the Looking Glass lends some ultramodern sheen to the classics," Deadline reported. Tim Burton's movie, which opens May 27, "was included in a Facebook Live chat with star Johnny Depp and director James Bobin.... And for the record: Depp tells us that his favorite book is James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. In fact, he never leaves home without it, which somehow doesn't surprise us."

This Weekend on Book TV: Jorge Ramos

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, April 2
6 p.m. Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown, $28, 9780553447439), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

7:15 p.m. Catherine J. Ross, author of Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students' First Amendment Rights (Harvard University Press, $39.95, 9780674057746). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

9 p.m. The award ceremony for the 2015 Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, a $50,000 award given on March 21 in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. Mary Frances Berry, author of Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807076408). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, April 3
12:15 a.m. Jorge Ramos, author of Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels (Celebra, $26, 9781101989630). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

5:30 a.m. Ann Neumann, author of The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America (Beacon Press, $26.95, 9780807080627). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Steve Forbes, author of Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity (McGraw-Hill, $26, 9781259641121).

Books & Authors

Awards: Christophers; Lukas

Twelve books for adults and young people will be celebrated May 19 at the 67th annual Christopher Awards, which are presented to authors and illustrators--as well as writers, producers and directors--whose work "affirms the highest values of the human spirit." This year's winning titles are:

The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, a Play and the City that Would not Be Broken by Wendell Pierce's memoir (Riverhead)
One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne (Beacon).
Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America by Joseph Kim with Stephan Talty (HMH)
Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life's Greatest Questions by John Schlimm (Image Books)
The Gift of Caring: Saving Our Parents from the Perils of Modern Healthcare by Marcy Cottrell Houle MS & Elizabeth Eckstrom MD, MPH (Taylor Trade Publishing)
Tough as They Come by Travis Mills, with Marcus Brotherton (Convergent Books)

Young People
One Good Deed by Terri Fields, illustrated by Deborah Melmon (Preschool & up, Kar-Ben Publishing).
An Invisible Thread Christmas Story by Laura Schroff & Alex Tresniowski, illustrated by Barry Root (Kindergarten & up, Little Simon)
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate (ages 6 & up, Peachtree Publishers)
Katie's Cabbage by Katie Stagliano with Michelle H. Martin, illustrated by Karen Heid (8 & up, Young Palmetto Books/University of South Carolina Press)
Firefly Hollow by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Christopher Denise (10 & up, Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (YA, Margaret K. McElderry Books/S&S).  


The winners and finalists of the 2016 Lukas Prize Project Awards, sponsored by the Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, are:

The J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize:
Winner: Susan Southard, for Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War (Viking Penguin)
Finalist: Dale Russakoff, for The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Mark Lynton History Prize:
Winner: Nikolaus Wachsmann, for KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Finalist: Timothy Snyder, for Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books)

The J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award:
Winner: Steve Luxenberg, for Separate: A Story of Race, Ambition and the Battle That Brought Legal Segregation to America (Norton)
Finalist: Blaire Briody, for The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown (St. Martin's Press)

The awards will be presented to the winners and finalists at a ceremony on Tuesday, May 10, at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday April 5:

The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Verlyn Flieger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544706262) publishes some of Tolkien's earliest work for the first time.

Why Save the Bankers?: And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis by Thomas Piketty, translated by Seth Ackerman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544663329) gives commentary from the author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780812993509) gives a nuanced view of musician James Brown.

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt (Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942) explores the relationship between the CNN reporter and his mother.

Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting by Lesley Stahl (Blue Rider, $27, 9780399168154) is a 60 Minutes reporter's take on grandparenthood.

The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark (Harper Wave, $27.99, 9780062375186) looks at aging in women.

Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf by Kevin Robbins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544148499) is the biography of a golf pioneer.

Dream Home: The Property Brothers' Ultimate Guide to Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House by Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544715677) gives home buying and renovating advice from the stars of HGTV's Property Brothers. (April 4.)

Glory over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781476748443) is the sequel to 2010's The Kitchen House.

Alice & Oliver: A Novel by Charles Bock (Random House, $28, 9781400068388) follows new parents stricken with a cancer diagnosis.

What We Find by Robyn Carr (MIRA, $26.99, 9780778318859) follows a neurosurgeon who retreats to a rural Colorado town.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544617070) brings the grieving father of a deceased Boy Scout together with the 104-year-old the boy had been spending time with.

The 14th Colony: A Novel by Steve Berry (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250056245) continues the Cotton Malone thriller series.

Family Jewels by Stuart Woods (Putnam, $28, 9780399174698) is book 37 in the Stone Barrington series.

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544456235) explains how to master nearly any skill.

Ramshackle Ode: Poems by Keith Leonard (Mariner, $17.95, 9780544649675) is a debut collection.

To the Left of Time: Poems by Thomas Lux (Mariner, $16.95, 9780544649651) contains more than 50 new poems.

One with You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250109309).

We Never Asked for Wings: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine, $16, 9780553392333).

Lumberjanes Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Shannon Watter, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box, $14.99, 9781608868032).

Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry: Easy All-Natural Recipes for Healthy Eating in the Real World by Lisa Lillien (St. Martin's Griffin, $19.99, 9780312676773).

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 Passenger: A Novel by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781451686630). "Thrilling and impossible to put down, this is the sharp, witty, and often sassy story of a woman, variously known as Norah/Jo/Tanya/Amelia/Debra/et al., on the run from events in her past for which she claims innocence. Her only chance of freedom is to run, and while running she changes identities and adds new troubles almost faster than readers can keep track. A meeting with a mysterious woman named Blue puts her on a new path, one that hopefully will lead her home and give her a chance to finally clear her name. Fast-paced and full of unexpected obstacles, this is a roller-coaster ride of a read you don't want to miss." --Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.

A Man Lies Dreaming: A Novel by Lavie Tidhar (Melville House, $25.95, 9781612195049). "Tidhar's brilliant novel channels pulp fiction conventions to grapple with the horrors of the Holocaust. In its opening pages, readers are dropped into late 1930s England where Oswald Mosley is about to become prime minister and Hitler, whose Nazi party was defeated by the Communists, is a down-at-the-heels private investigator, a sad and tortured little man. As it turns out, this alternate history is a fever dream of a prisoner at Auschwitz. Who is to say that turning the powerful into the defeated--even as a fantasy--isn't an important tool in coping with brutality and dehumanization?" --Anmiryam Budner, Main Point Books, Bryn Mawr, Penn.

Margaret the First: A Novel by Danielle Dutton (Catapult, $15.95, 9781936787357). "Dutton's novel takes the already extraordinary life of Margaret Cavendish--17th century natural philosopher, author of The Blazing World, and Duchess of Newcastle--and transforms it into a stunning work of historical fiction. With women in the sciences a hot issue today, Margaret the First satisfies a craving for women's writing, women's voices, and women's stories, painting a portrait of a sensitive, thoughtful woman hungry not just for praise and recognition, but acknowledgment, affirmation, and validation. Margaret the First is a triumph!" --Liz Wright, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 4 to 8: Revisit & Rediscover
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763639037). "How to Heal a Broken Wing is a gem of a picture book, geared to children ages 3-7, but one that can enrich readers of all ages with its message of the power of an act of kindness. With minimal text and exquisite illustrations that propel the simple story, a young boy brings home a bird with a broken wing and, with support from his parents, helps it recover from its injury. Graham says it best: 'With rest ... and time ... and a little hope ... a bird may fly again.' " --Sharon Hearn, Children's Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.

For Ages 9 to 12
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062330659). "Nearly everyone knows a family with an autistic child, and the other kids in those families face their own challenges. Benny is a sweet and tender young soul who only wants to help the people around him. His experience with his autistic brother has taught him patience and compassion beyond his years. McGovern will reach a new audience with her first book for younger readers as Just My Luck is very poignant and will strike a familiar chord with readers of all ages." --Jennifer Armstrong, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.

For Teen Readers: Revisit & Rediscover
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (Atheneum, $10.99, 9780689852237). "Told from the point of view of a boy whose sole purpose is to extend the life of a powerful drug lord, Farmer's story brings us a bleak and horrifying look at cloning, unethical medical intervention, class differences, immigration, and slavery. A dystopian tale that is more timely today than ever." --Collette Morgan, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer (Simon & Schuster, $26 hardcover, 9781476777405, April 19, 2016)

The name "Timbuktu" has long evoked mystery and wonder: a remote African city of camels and gold. For librarian and archivist Abdel Kader Haidara, Timbuktu's treasure exists in a different form: an astounding collection of ancient Islamic manuscripts, including scientific treatises and romantic poetry, representing "five hundred years of human joy." When Islamic militants took over Timbuktu in 2012 and threatened to destroy the "subversive" manuscripts, Haidara and his colleagues staged a daring rescue operation. Journalist Joshua Hammer chronicles the parallel stories of Haidara's career and Mali's political unrest in his fourth book, the wonderfully titled The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.

Hammer (Yokohama Burning) begins his narrative with Haidara, the son of a well-known teacher and scholar. Mohammed "Mamma" Haidara instilled in his son a deep respect for learning and for the family's library of illuminated manuscripts. Abdel Kader Haidara spent his early career traveling throughout Mali, visiting village chiefs and families who kept their treasured volumes in steamer trunks and secret storage rooms. Over time, Haidara secured funding from several international foundations to build libraries and conservation centers in Timbuktu, where he and his colleagues (including his nephew and right-hand man, Mohammed Touré) were able to collect, catalogue and restore thousands of manuscripts. But when warring groups of militants, including Tuareg tribesmen and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) began fighting for control of Timbuktu, Haidara feared for the safety of both his family and his libraries.

Mali's recent political history is complicated, and Hammer does his best to give a clear explanation, focusing on several key leaders: the Tuareg musician-turned-fundamentalist Iyad Ag Ghali; the one-eyed jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar; the ruthless Abdelhamid Abou Zeid. The military context is important, but the details of various campaigns sometimes drag. Hammer describes several incidents in which Western tourists were kidnapped, and interviews French and American diplomats and military officials to round out his account. But his focus is on Haidara's mission, and the narrative comes to life when Hammer draws attention to the manuscripts' rescue.

The salvage operation--as precarious and fraught with obstacles as any Hollywood heist--involved moving more than 350,000 manuscripts hundreds of miles downriver to Bamako, Mali's capital. The end of the story is bittersweet: the rescue effort was successful, but the continuing instability in Mali leaves Haidara unsure when he will be able to return the manuscripts to their home.

Both a moving story of quiet heroism and a fascinating glimpse into a country little-known in the U.S., The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu will appeal to historians, bibliophiles and those who love a good heist narrative. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: When warring militant groups take control of Timbuktu, a band of librarians stages a daring operation to rescue thousands of ancient Islamic manuscripts.

KidsBuzz: Roaring Brook Press: Worth a Thousand Words by Brigit Young
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