Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 22, 2016

Flatiron Books: White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Shadow Mountain: To Capture His Heart (Proper Romance Victorian) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Zest Books (Tm): Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, adapted by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy


Time 100: 'Most Influential' Book People

Time magazine released its annual list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." Among the authors showcased:

Ta-Nehisi Coates. Bryan Stevenson wrote: "Many of us have known for years that Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of America's most compelling and thoughtful voices. His timely, provocative and well-researched writings about race and this nation's shameful history of inequality have been essential reading.... Between the World and Me is brilliantly structured, insightful and forcefully argued. He navigates the complexities and burdens of race in America compassed by a father's love for his son. But it's the soulful writing that makes the work a classic... He has much more to say, and we will all be the wiser for reading it "

Marilynne Robinson. Colm Tóibín wrote: "Marilynne Robinson's novels and essays manage to be serious without being solemn. They exude a sense of sensuous feeling but also rigorous thinking. She is concerned with how we should live, with the idea of the world as a sort of gift to us, which requires us to notice what we have been offered, and to study it, to appreciate it and to dramatize its textures and contours.... Robinson is determined to be as intelligent as possible, but also to offer images and impressions that are rich in their implications, which allow for the mysterious as well as the concrete, the uncertain as well as the sure."

Elena Ferrante. Lauren Groff wrote: "The story we hear most often about the Italian author Elena Ferrante is the story of her absence: her pseudonym and the deliberate choice to disengage from the world as an author. It's odd, though, to imagine that a photo or biography could tell us more about Ferrante than her astonishing books, translated fluidly into English by the great Ann Goldstein, which together form a topographical map of an extraordinary mind.... Ferrante is a subtle subversive; the domestic, in her brilliant books, is a time bomb that ticks too loudly to ignore."

Many others on the Time 100 list have written books, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Aziz Ansari, Mark Rylance, Roy Choi, Hope Jahren, Pope Francis, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Aung San Suu Kyi, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Nikki Haley and John Kerry.

Grand Central Publishing: Sink: A Memoir by Joseph Earl Thomas

U.K. Booksellers Celebrating Shakespeare Saturday

On Saturday, the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland is putting "a humorous twist" on its "Books Are My Bag" campaigns by encouraging bookshops to participate in "Shakespeare Saturday," marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, the Bookseller reported. April 23 is also World Book Night, which has a Shakespeare theme this year. Dedicated "The Bard is My Bag" totes and t-shirts are being dispensed by participating booksellers, who are also featuring a variety of themed events, ranging from "cooking up Shakespeare birthday cake for browsing customers, to educational workshops and dressing-up." Many bookshops are also featuring live Shakespeare performances

"I think The Bard is My Bag campaign is brilliant. In Wales, because of the accent, you can say you are 'bard'--as in not feeling well--so there's actually a double pun in Wales," said Sarah Rees, owner of Cover to Cover Bookshop ‏in Swansea and a self-confessed huge Shakespeare fan. "And having put the books in the window, and the BAMB [promotional materials], we actually sold £100 [worth] to one lady yesterday of Shakespeare books, so that's amazing."

Richard Drake, owner of Drake the Bookshop in Stockton, "will be putting on refreshments for the Bard's birthday, promising a slice of birthday cake with every purchase (while stocks last) and encouraging browsing customers to sample the shop's special 'brew'--a non-alcoholic mead. Games including a quoits competition, mini archery and hoop and stick will also be organized, along with a 'famous scenes mash-up,' where customers will be asked to read a line from a famous Shakespearian scene and will be able to watch back a celebratory montage online after the event," the Bookseller noted. Lindum Books in Lincoln is offering the Bard is My Bag tote with any purchase by or about Shakespeare on Saturday, while Dulwich Books "will give one to a customer after a minimum spend of £10, at which point customers also qualify to receive a free proof of an already-published book." 

"We're delighted with the response from bookshops to Shakespeare Saturday," said Alan Staton, head of marketing and communications at the BA. "From stunning Shakespearean window displays to special performances, competitions and events, bookshops up and down the country have embraced the opportunity to celebrate all things Shakespeare this weekend." The action can be followed on social media sites under the hashtags #bardabag and #ShakespeareSaturday.

Blair: A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter by Carolyn Hays

New Manager, Umbrella Organization for Kentucky Book Fair

Previously operated by a nonprofit independent board of volunteers, the Kentucky Book Fair will now be run by the Kentucky Humanities Council, in partnership with the Kentucky Book Fair board and the many volunteers who have been involved in the book fair since its founding 34 years ago.

As part of the change, Brooke Raby has joined the staff of the Kentucky Humanities Council and will serve as manager of the Kentucky Book Fair.

Raby, who was development manager of the Hope Center for the past three years, has worked with the fair since 2008, first as the Joseph-Beth Booksellers liaison, and, since 2014, as a board member.

Raby began working at Joseph-Beth in Lexington in 1998, while studying at the University of Kentucky. For a time, she moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., to help open a Joseph-Beth branch, then returned to Lexington and served at the store as local buyer, PR/events coordinator and finally marketing manager.

The 35th annual Kentucky Book Fair will be held on Saturday, November 5, at the Frankfort Convention Center in Frankfort. The sixth annual Children's Day will be held on Friday, November 4, at the same location.

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

BEA 2016: Speed Dating for Book Group Picks

On Friday, May 13, at BookExpo America in Chicago, is hosting "Great Book Group Titles for Fall/Winter 2016: A Special Speed-Dating Session for Booksellers, Librarians, Bloggers and Book Group Leaders." Representatives from more than 20 publishers will gather to share selections and book group news from their publishing houses in a speed-dating format designed to offer an inside look at what book groups will be tempted by for fall and winter. Galley giveaways and ideas for enhancing book group discussions will be part of this event. Advance signup by May 3 is required and seating will be assigned. Sign up here to participate.

Amazon Expands Fire Tablet Lineup

Amazon has expanded its low-budget Fire tablet lineup with new colors--magenta, blue and tangerine--and more storage options, offering 8 GB of internal storage for $49.99 or 16 GB for $69.99. The Fire Kids Edition is also be available with 16 GB of internal storage for $119.99.

Obituary Note: Jackie Carter

Jackie Carter, "a publishing executive who promoted in children's books the racial diversity she had missed growing up in a mostly white neighborhood," died April 13, the New York Times reported. She was 62. Carter was also the author of several books, including One Night, Helping, Mosquito! and Knock, Knock.

Carter began her career at Sesame Street magazine, then joined Scholastic in 1985 as editorial director of the early childhood division. She left Scholastic in 1997 and subsequently worked for Hyperion, Dorling Kindersley, Global Educational Books, Marvel Comics and Disney Global Children's Book Division, "where she published the Winnie-the-Pooh Nature Encyclopedia and was editorial director of Jump at the Sun, an imprint celebrating African-American culture," the Times wrote. In 2004, she became v-p and publisher of nonfiction books for the Scholastic Classroom & Library Group, where she was responsible for several series, including A Wicked History, Mythlopedia and 24/7: Science Behind the Scenes.

"My mantra is to create books that kids want to read, not have to read," she said.


Image of the Day: Bill Clinton Visits Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Former President Clinton and Mayor Papenfuse head to the American History section at the Midtown Scholar. (photo: Midtown Scholar)

Following a campaign rally for his wife, Hillary Clinton, former president Bill Clinton made a stop at Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Pa. According to PennLive, "Clinton strolled into the store and spent about 30 minutes browsing the shelves" with owner Eric Papenfuse (who's also mayor of Harrisburg) as they chatted about books. "He's very well read," Papenfuse said. "He chose a diverse selection of books, including some children's books, possibly for his grandchildren."


Road Trip: 'English-Language Bookstores in Paris'

"If you assign Ernest Hemingway as your guide to Paris, you'll leave believing there is only one bookstore in the whole city (Shakespeare and Company), and he probably would have wanted it that way. But Paris has an incredible landscape of bookstores," Paste magazine noted in showcasing five English-Language bookshops in the City of Light. "It would be a shame for visitors to miss out on this scene just because they don't speak French. Happily, the city also has a handful of very-well-curated English bookshops, some of which have long and storied histories of their own."

Bookish Real Estate: Notting Hill Flat on the Market

Fans of Notting Hill, the 1999 film starring Hugh Grant as owner of the Travel Bookshop, now have a chance to live out at least part of their fantasy, assuming they can raise £1.5 million (about $2.1 million). Housetohome reported that Sarah Anderson, who "is selling her flat above the iconic world-famous shop," still remembers "the film's scriptwriter Richard Curtis coming to see her and making notes about the bookshop she founded in 1979."

Anderson sold her bookstore in 2011, though it subsequently re-opened as the Notting Hill Bookshop and "remains the focus of curious attention by tourists and fans of the film," Housetohome noted.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Phil Knight on CBS Sunday Morning

Fresh Air: Scott Weidensaul, author of The Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40, 9780547840031), and Gerrit Vyn, author of The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature (Mountaineers Books, $29.95, 9781594859656).

CBS Sunday Morning: Phil Knight, author of Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Scribner, $29, 9781501135910).

TV: American Gods; To Walk Invisible

Starz has "rounded out the cast of American Gods," the 10-episode series adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel. Deadline reported that the new cast members include Cloris Leachman, Peter Stormare, Chris Obi and Mousa Kraish. They join Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Sean Harris, Yetide Badaki, Bruce Langley, Crispin Glover and Jonathan Tucker. Shooting began this week in Toronto, and will continue in various locations across the U.S.


Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley) has set the cast for her BBC drama To Walk Invisible, which focuses on the Brontë family. Jonathan Pryce, who will play Rev. Patrick Brontë, is joined by Chloe Pirrie (Emily Brontë), Finn Atkins (Charlotte), Charlie Murphy (Anne) and Adam Nagaitis (Branwell). Wainwright wrote and directed the project, "which promises to take a new look at the extraordinary literary family, and in particular the women who overcame numerous obstacles to write some of the greatest novels in the English language," Deadline wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: Triangle; Orwell; James Tait Black

Winners of the 28th annual Triangle Awards, honoring the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fiction, nonfiction and poetry published in 2015, were presented last night, including the inaugural Trans/Gender-Variant Literature Award. The winners are:

At the Publishing Triangle Awards last night: Carol Rosenfeld, Publishing Triangle; nonfiction winners Michelangelo Signorile, Marcia M. Gallo, Barney Frank; Trent Duffy, Publishing Triangle.

The Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction: A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding (Picador)
The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction: One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks (BookThug)
The Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction: "No One Helped": Kitty Genovese, New York City and the Myth of Urban Apathy by Marcia M. Gallo (Cornell University Press)
The Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction: (tie) Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage by Barney Frank (FSG); and It's Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality by Michelangelo Signorile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry: Chord by Rick Barot (Sarabande Books)
The Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry: No Confession, No Mass by Jennifer Perrine (University of Nebraska Press)
Trans/Gender-Variant Literature Award: The Middle Notebookes by Nathanaël (Nightboat Books)
The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement: Eloise Klein Healy, the author of eight books of poetry and three spoken-word recordings. She was named the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2012 and was the founding editor of Arktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press specializing in the work of lesbian authors. Her most recent book is A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings.


A shortlist of six books has been announced for the £3,000 (about $4,299) Orwell Prize, which recognizes work that comes closest to George Orwell's ambition "to make political writing into an art." The winner will be named May 26. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

The New Threat from Islamic Militancy by Jason Burke
Other People's Money by John Kay
The Tears of the Rajas by Ferdinand Mount
The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky
The Unravelling by Emma Sky
Circling the Square by Wendell Steavenson


Finalists have been named for the £10,000 (about $14,330) James Tait Black Prizes, which are given annually by the University of Edinburgh for the best work of fiction and best biography. The winners will be announced August 15 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Beatlebone by Kevin Barry
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
You Don't Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits

The Blue Touch Paper: A Memoir by David Hare (Faber and Faber)
Bloomsbury's Outsider: A Life of David Garnett by Sarah Knights
John Aubrey: My Own Life by Ruth Scurr
1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro

Book Brahmin: Jonathan Levi

photo: Jeanette Barron

Jonathan Levi, author of Septimania (The Overlook Press, April 5, 2016), is an American writer and producer, a founding editor of Granta and author of A Guide for the Perplexed. His short stories and articles have appeared in many magazines and his plays and opera libretti have been widely performed. He lives in Rome, Italy.

On your nightstand now:

Reading Tim Parks on Garibaldi and Pinocchio in his Literary Tour Through Italy. Re-living the '70s in London while re-reading Hanif Kureishi's The Buddha of Suburbia. And marveling at Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth--not since Steven Millhauser has an author taken me on such a long, strange trip.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My father brought Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding back with him from Australia in 1942, while his own father was serving as a military chaplain with the Allies in the Pacific. The story of three friends dedicated to preserving a magic pudding which can not only walk and talk but reform itself no matter how many times it's eaten, it became my World War II survival myth while preparing me for both Ali Baba and Julia Child.

Your top five authors:

Discounting the divinely uncredited authors of Genesis and One Thousand and One Nights: Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett for their wackiness, Edith Wharton and Hunter S. Thompson for gouging out the eye of Dickens and pasting it onto the face of the New World, and Jorge Luis Borges for convincing me that the life of the mind has a place in the universal library.

Book you've faked reading:

Pride and Prejudice. I came to Jane Austen too late in life and copped out with the popcorn and film digests of Greer Garson and Aishwarya Rai.

Book you're an evangelist for:

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone, from 2008. The astonishingly original debut novel of the young Bosnian Saša Stanišić makes me evangelize for more, much more translation of literature from foreign languages.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Golfing for Cats. With that title, and a big swastika on the cover, how could I not? Turned out that the author, Alan Coren, chose the title having discovered that golf, cats and the Third Reich sold more books than any other category. No idea what was actually inside.

Book you hid from your parents:

John Cleland's Fanny Hill. Nuff said?

Book that changed your life:

Louis Ginzberg's seven-volume Legends of the Jews, where I learned that the Jews have a mythology as rich as the Greeks or the Norse.

Favorite line from a book:

"Nice things are nicer than nasty ones." Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim has at least three of my top 10 faves, including the best description of a hangover outside a bottle of aspirin, but this is perhaps the nicest.

Five books you'll never part with:

My mother's copies of James Joyce's Ulysses and James Thurber's A Thurber Carnival, which she claims she read when she was pregnant with me; an autographed García Márquez El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera; the first issue of Granta with the type set askew--no one warned us against pasting up in a pub. And my childhood copies of A.A. Milne's Now We Are Six.

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

Anna Karenina, not just to fall in love with Anna afresh, but to sit again with her brother Stiva and Levin at the England restaurant in Moscow for a lunch of oysters and turbot.

Book Review

Review: Everyone Brave Is Forgiven

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster, $26.99 hardcover, 9781501124372, May 3, 2016)

"War was declared at eleven-fifteen and Mary North signed up at noon," begins Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, the magnificent and profoundly moving fourth novel by Chris Cleave (Little Bee). Mary and those closest to her embody the complicated, contradictory qualities of young people facing the incomprehensible. They are impetuous, brave, principled and sometimes foolish. They are, above all, human and loved.

Cleave draws from his grandparents' courtship amid the ravages of World War II in London and Malta to tell the story of Mary North, the idealistic 18-year-old daughter of an ambitious politician and his aristocratic wife. When war breaks out, Mary dreams of being a spy, but is assigned to teach school. It is a position below her station but she becomes passionate about her students. When the children are evacuated to the English countryside, Mary persuades Tom, an education administrator, to give her a class of forgotten children to teach--those who are handicapped, or black, or who refuse to leave or are rejected by their host families. The experience awakens in her indignation at the casual racism and elitism of her peers, and sparks a love affair with Tom, who has decided to remain in London to teach while his best friend and flatmate, Alistair, enlists. Tom is sweet and dependable but no match for Mary's spirited convictions. Their mismatch is compounded by their class differences and their youth and, later, by Mary and Alistair's mutual attraction, after meeting while Alistair is on leave. But it is wartime. They are both loyal to Tom, and Alistair is stationed in Malta. Mary and Alistair deepen their friendship through letters that are funny and sweet, written from the comfort of upper-class London and the horrors and deprivation of besieged Malta. It's a suppressed love triangle that underscores the fractured, emotionally charged atmosphere of life in the midst of war for civilians and soldiers alike.

Cleave writes his characters with immense compassion, despite the very different worlds they occupy. Mary and Alistair eagerly sign up for their respective war efforts with the soaring, adventuresome idealism of youth, and Tom tries hard to do the right thing for his students. Their naïve decisions at times result in awful consequences, but they are the choices of profoundly decent people. In the end, these flawed but unforgettable characters come to know that bravery is not just what happens on the battlefield; to live and to love requires it, too. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: This dazzling novel of World War II is full of unforgettable characters and the keen emotional insights that moved readers of Chris Cleave's Little Bee.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Her Bookshop to Open in East Nashville

Sometimes it's just about being in the right place at the right time. In this case, the right place was Facebook and the right time was Tuesday, when I happened to notice a shared post that quietly announced the upcoming debut of Her Bookshop, a small independent bookstore scheduled to launch this June at the Shoppes on Fatherland in East Nashville, Tenn. Since the opening of another new indie is always my favorite breaking news, I had to investigate further.

The owner of Her Bookshop is Joelle Herr, who has worked in the publishing industry for two decades, holding editorial positions at several companies, including Running Press (where she was managing editor), Workman (senior production editor) and Sterling (senior editor). In 2011, "after a rather gypsy-like decade of moving around (including across the country and back), I returned to Nashville, where I grew up," Herr recalled. "For the past five years, I've been mostly freelance editing and writing, most recently a handful of literature-centric books for Running Press' One Sitting series and William Shakespeare Rewritten by You for Ulysses Press. Next up are a couple of Jane Austen books for Cider Mill Press. I also spent a year at BookPage, where, after years of 'creating' books, I was excited to have the opportunity to work more directly with readers, getting them excited about newly published books."

Long before she followed this bookish career path, Herr said she "harbored a desire to have my own bookstore, but I didn't give it serious consideration until very recently. I was looking to rent a small office for my freelance business, actually, and came across what seemed like the perfect spot for a bookstore. I mean, I walked into the room and had a moment. The vision was crystal clear. And it got the wheels turning. Could I do it? Was I brave enough to take such a huge risk? Would people come in and buy enough books for me to make a profit, a living? What if I failed? My mind was swirling." She subsequently reached out to former colleagues for guidance, "and the next thing I knew, I had quite a few highly esteemed industry veterans offering advice and lots and lots of encouragement."

Joelle Herr

Herr eventually determined that the space where she'd experienced her original vision of indie bookseller heaven was a little too big and expensive to start out, but she found what she described as "an even better spot" near Five Points, "which is the heart and hub of East Nashville.... It's less than a mile from where I live, a warm, absolutely wonderful neighborhood that is incredibly supportive of small, locally owned businesses. I am hopeful that Her Bookshop will be a welcome addition to the thriving community."

At 400 square feet, Her Bookshop will be compact, but the goal is "to carry a little bit of everything, with a slight focus on illustrated gift books, which have been the focus of my career," she noted. "This is where I intend to start, in any case. I'm perfectly aware that I may need to adapt my vision so that it corresponds with what my neighbors are interested in buying and reading. Thankfully, my boyfriend has been running his own business (a drum supply company) for more than 20 years and will be on hand to help me with the business side--and calming me down when I feel overwhelmed. I take over the lease on June 1 and am aiming to open later that month."

I asked Herr if there were particular indie booksellers she considered inspirations for her new venture? "Of course, Parnassus Books here in Nashville and Landmark Booksellers in nearby Franklin," she replied. "I also love Sundog Books in Seaside, Fla., Kramerbooks in Washington, D.C., and Powell's Books in Portland, Ore. These are all much, much larger spaces than I'll have, but they're inspiring nonetheless. The store I'd most like to emulate is powerHouse Books in Brooklyn. I love that most of their books are on tables--such a visual feast."

Herr's preparations for her new role include a road trip next month to a destination where she will be surrounded by hundreds of her bookselling peers: "I just made my plans to head to Chicago for BookExpo America in a few weeks. It's going to be a real pinch-me moment to see 'owner' on my bookseller badge and not 'editor!' " --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Powered by: Xtenit