Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 13, 2016


Severn House Publishers: Night Watch (First World Publication) (Michael Cassidy Thriller #3) by David C. Taylor

St. Martin's Press: A Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky

Workman Publishing: Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing But True Stories! by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by John John Bajet

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon

Other Press: Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, translated by Willard Wood

News

#BEA16: Pictures from an Exhibition, Day 2

After Wednesday's quiet opening half day at BookExpo America, the full day yesterday drew the crowds and had the energy more typical of BEAs. The day included the adult book & author breakfast (see below), luncheons, a range of panels and author events, a round of parties and the ABA's Celebration of Bookselling as well as its Town Meeting and Annual Meeting (more below). On the floor, many booksellers, librarians and publishers agreed that traffic had picked up, that many booths were busy and that there was more buzz in the air.

Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont., for example, called the show "upbeat." Stephanie Crowe, a bookseller from Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala., said she was excited to be at her first BEA and happy to visit so many publishers and mix with booksellers around the country. In one sign of the draw of having BEA outside New York for the first time since 2008, ABA CEO Oren Teicher noted that two-thirds of bookseller attendees hadn't been to recent BEAs.

BEA show director Brien McDonald told the Chicago Tribune that BEA expects to have 17,000-18,000 attendees and noted that there were 1,000 attendees who had never been to a BEA show.

Scenes from BEA:

(L.-r.) Chicago author Ron Balson and Polish writer Agata Tuszyńska chat with award-winning journalist Greg Archer, who moderated Family History of Fear, a program held at 57th Street Books in Chicago highlighting Polish literature. Poland is the BookExpo America 2016 Global Market Forum honoree. (photo: Charles Osgood)

Black Dog & Leventhal hosted BEA booksellers at a performance of Blue Man Group in celebration of the upcoming book Blue Man World. Here's publisher JP Leventhal and a new friend.

You can't swing a cat at BookExpo without hitting a children's book luminary. Here, Dan Santat, who won the 2015 Caldecott Medal for The Adventures of Beekle (Little, Brown), and Jon Scieszka, the first U.S. National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and author of The Stinky Cheese Man (Viking), ham it up in Chicago.

At the Cuba stand, Camara Cubana del Libro: poet, novelist, journalist and editor Rogelio Riverón with Arnold August, author of Cuba and its Neighbors.

A long line of fans waited to meet Terry McMillan (I Almost Forgot About You, Crown)

Sherman Alexie having fun at BEA.

At a cocktail party hosted afterhours at the Penguin Random House booth on Wednesday, organizers of the American Writers Museum, celebrating "American writers past and present," talked about the museum's plans--it opens on N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago in March 2017 and will include a bookstore. They thanked PRH for its support and encouraged others to help the first museum of its kind in the U.S. From l.: JP Leventhal, publisher, Black Dog & Leventhal; Roberta Rubin, co-chair of the Museum board and former owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill.; Museum president Malcolm O'Hagan; and Museum executive director Nike Whitcomb.

 

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, aka Scott Dikkers, brought his campaign to the Micro Publishing Media booth in IPG-land, staying in character the whole time. Dikkers is the author of Trump's America: The Complete Loser's Guide (as well as a hilarious piece on book burning in our April Fool's issue.)

 


GLOW: ECW Press: Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir by Alison Wearing


#BEA16: ABA Annual Meeting--Sales, Membership Up

Among the big news at the American Booksellers Association annual meeting yesterday was continued growth in sales by independent booksellers and the continued growth of association membership.

Noting that sales by indie booksellers in 2015 were "exceedingly strong"--another indication of the resurgence of independent bookselling--ABA CEO Oren Teicher announced that overall sales by indies have risen another 5% through April this year.

And, for the seventh year in a row, ABA membership has grown: there are now 1,775 member bookstores, up 3.8% since last year. Those stores operate in 2,311 locations, also up 3.8%. During the past seven years, ABA members have increased 27%, and the number of locations has risen 40%. The growth comes, Teicher said, from continued new store openings, stores opening additional locations and established stores being sold, which has the great side benefit of "bringing a whole new generation to bookselling."

Oren Teicher

Teicher acknowledged that not all indies have shared in the good times, and promised that the association is "committed to do everything we can so that every store enjoys that success." He also noted the challenges of increases in the minimum wage and store rents. To help, the ABA is offering members online resources about the minimum wage and rents that include suggestions for and examples of grassroots advocacy and education.

Teicher said that the resurgence of indie booksellers had been supported by four key factors: the localism movement; members' "thoughtful and skillful implementation of new technology"; improved publisher terms and business initiatives; and the "unparalleled ability of independent booksellers to connect authors and readers."

The ABA has long been involved in the localism movement and is now a major proponent of its logical next step, New Localism. The ABA provided major impetus toward New Localism with the unveiling, at Winter Institute, of the ABA/Civic Economics survey Amazon and Empty Storefronts: The Fiscal and Land Use Impacts of Online Retail, which shows Amazon's corrosive effect on downtowns, on governments at all levels and on communities in general, a study that has echoed strongly around the country.

Saying that we should "never underestimate the resources that we have and capabilities we have when we do things together," Teicher challenged members to "get involved now" by using the association's advocacy resources to reach out to elected officials and other business owners. The aim: to "move those in government in the right direction, away from the tired assumptions about antitrust enforcement towards some new 21st century solutions. Help plant the seeds that will develop into real legislative solutions and policies that do level the playing field, that recognize that healthy Main Street businesses are the true energies and engines of long-term economic growth and job creation. Help us together ensure that no single mega-corporation gets special treatment, and that no single dominant company can use its outsized clout to the long-term detriment of consumers and communities."

In the area of technology, Teicher said the ABA has worked hard to provide members "the tools and services necessary to strengthen and expand" opportunities for business success, including upgrades and new features for IndieCommerce such as improved search. He added that improvements will soon be made in customer check-out for IndieCommerce, among other areas. The new platform for the Book Buyer's Handbook will appear on bookweb.org in June, and the data there is being improved through added staff and greater outreach with publishers. ABA also is encouraging and educating stores about how to use IndieCommerce.

The ABA's educational programming continues to be expanded at the Winter Institute, the Children's Institute, the Spring Forums, the fall regional independent booksellers association shows and at BEA. The ABA is also launching a full-day financial workshop in the fall, as well as a workshop on leadership.

Teicher recalled his challenge several years ago to publishers "to rethink terms and business models," a call that has led to the introduction by publishers of a range of initiatives, including rapid replenishment and simplified co-op. New initiatives involving backlist and returns policies may soon be announced. (Yesterday morning Harper announced a new program to help new stores or established stores opening new locations. See more about that below.) Publishers have also helped in such ABA initiatives as Indies First and Indies Introduce.

Saying, "I believe that this is our moment and we can't let it go to waste," Teicher concluded: "I am absolutely confident that the greatest days of independent bookselling remain ahead of us and not behind us. It hasn't been easy and won't be easy, but with your help and the support of all of us at ABA, we are going to do all we can to bring that about." --John Mutter


Plough Publishing House: Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters


#BEA16: ABA Town Hall

ABA's board at yesterday's Town Hall.

At the American Booksellers Association's town hall meeting yesterday, member booksellers discussed a plethora of topics, including selling books through IndieBound, a centralized system for invoicing and payments and especially efforts around the country to raise the minimum wage.

Minimum Wage
By far the biggest topic of concern at the town hall meeting was minimum wage. Christin Evans of the Booksmith in San Francisco, Calif., opened the floor, encouraging booksellers to communicate to officials that if they intend to raise the minimum wage, they should do it in ways that do not have disproportionate negative impacts on small businesses. Despite the potential for a tough transition, she said, "long term I think it will be really great for our business."

A bookseller from Salem, Ore., pointed to the three-tiered system of raising minimum wage adopted by the state of Oregon as something that booksellers in other states could push for, while a bookseller from Pleasanton, Calif., asked if the ABA could do more to help member bookstores provide affordable health insurance for employees and generally make the financial situation more viable for frontline booksellers and bookstore employees. ABA CEO Oren Teicher explained that as a trade association, the ABA could not provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Betsy Burton, board president and co-owner of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, said the board was "constantly aware" of this problem and was striving to improve the financial environment for bookstores and booksellers. John Evans, board member and co-owner of Diesel, a Bookstore in Oakland, Larkspur and Brentwood, Calif., acknowledged that due in part to the "relationship bookstores have with publishers," bookselling is to some degree a structurally "underpaid profession," noting that concerns about raising the minimum wage have to do with bottom-line realities rather than general disapproval of the idea. Evans added that he imagined "everybody on the board and most people in the audience are all for increased wages for frontline booksellers."

Removing Prices from Books
During the broader discussion on minimum wage increases, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, said that because prices are printed on books, booksellers are the "only business in America that can't set our own operating margin. Publishers set our operating margin, not us." He advocated getting rid of printed prices in order to give booksellers better flexibility with pricing. Said Petrocelli: "In a way, we're like serfs."

Pete Mulvihill, board member and co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, said that philosophically he agreed with Petrocelli, but was not sure if he could realistically get away with raising prices.

An ensuing straw poll of attendees showed that ABA members were deeply divided on the issue. As a trade organization, noted Oren Teicher, the ABA couldn't advocate for a change without a clear consensus of members on the change.

Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., also encouraged the ABA regularly to poll members on a variety of issues.

Following Up 'Amazon and Empty Storefronts'
Several booksellers wondered how best the ABA could follow up the Civic Economics study Amazon and Empty Storefronts that was released at Winter Institute. Oren Teicher said that the ABA was currently working with Civic Economics to replicate the study in the United Kingdom and invited booksellers to make use of the online New Localism tool kit. Betsy Burton noted that Local First organizations around the country are all "using that study gleefully and frequently."

Kenny Brechner of DDG Booksellers, Farmington, Maine, emphasized the importance of combining many of these issues, including minimum wage, the broader economic effect of Amazon, and others into a more seamless narrative to raise public awareness. Tom Lowenburg, co-owner of Octavia Books in New Orleans, La., proposed suggesting to elected officials that they not do business with those who don't pay taxes or don't have nexus in a given state.

IndieBound Pilot Program
At the last town hall meeting, at Winter Institute, booksellers expressed concern that the pilot program to sell books directly through IndieBound would result in the cannibalization of sales of member bookstores or deplete ABA resources that could be used on other initiatives. Board vice-president Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., reported that, based on the results of the pilot program, there was little chance of either occurring. Sindelar also noted that the program will be continued for another six months in order to have data from an entire year.

Batch Invoicing
Also brought up was the possibility of streamlining invoicing and payment systems. A bookseller from St. Paul, Minn., expressed frustration that there was no easy way to check invoices and credit online in real time. Board president Betsy Burton responded that the board has been pursuing a centralized, online invoicing and payment system similar to Batch, a system developed by the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland. --Alex Mutter


Grove Press: Writers & Lovers by Lily King


#BEA16: Adult Book & Author Breakfast

Whitehead, Junger, Salie and Penny

The power of words was a prevailing theme at Thursday's Adult Book & Author Breakfast, featuring emcee Faith Salie, Colson Whitehead, Louise Penny and Sebastian Junger, who said he has "always believed that if you're trying to figure out something, just keep writing things down, and in your research, in your observations, the answers will emerge. That's the power of words."

Salie, author of Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much (Crown Archetype), opened with jokes about her role on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and said she'd heard tales of racier book conventions in the 1980s ("Book Sexpo," as she called it), then turned to her own reading life. 

"Like many of you, I fell in love with words as a child," she said, adding that she would listen to the sound of her father typing his thesis, part of what she described as "a lifelong conversation about reading" with him. Regarding her book, she observed: "Every sale is a miracle.... Authors get the glory, but it's everyone in this room who gets to make the connection."

Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad: A Novel (Doubleday, September), recalled that his first book trade show had been 24 years ago, when he was an assistant at the Voice Literary Supplement. One of his jobs was to pick out the booth décor from a big binder of convention furnishings: "Everything looked good in the catalogue, but when we walked in, it seemed we'd assembled a really crappy public access TV show.... So anyway: Welcome to Bookchat with your host, Colson Whitehead."

He offered insights on the genesis of his new book, as well as a bit of reading philosophy: "There are only two kinds of books, really: books you like and books you don't. Books that stay with you, and the ones you forget immediately. So I hope this book stays with you."

Louise Penny, who discussed her latest Chief Inspector Gamache novel, A Great Reckoning (Minotaur, August), began by introducing her local bookseller, Lucy McAuley, co-owner of Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Quebec.

Reading "became my solace and my harbor" during an outwardly "happy childhood" when she was "afraid of everything," Penny said. A key moment in Charlotte's Web, however, helped her understand "that words can heal; that books can cure fear. I learned that if I read enough books, I might be brave." Bringing that forward, she said that now "writing is saving me." Her husband has Alzheimer's, and Penny deeply moved the audience when she shared the loving words she whispers to him every day (calling this her "power of words") before going to her desk, where "I write and I write and I write until my terror has blown itself quite out."

"I very, very deeply believe in books," said Junger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (Twelve). "I think they're the only thing that we have that can get us to radically re-understand our society.... Because of the role that books serve in society, they actually are kind of sacred.... It means that every phase of the book-making process and the bookselling process is sacred to some extent in my belief. And all of you out there that are involved in books I really very seriously from my heart thank you for helping put books in people's hands. It's one of the most profound and important things I think that a person can do; that a society can do. The hands need the books and the books need the hands." --Robert Gray


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


#BEA16: Richard Russo and Readers' 'New Best Friend'

Yesterday at the Celebration of Bookselling, Richard Russo, winner of the 2016 Indie Champion Award, thanked booksellers with these comments:

When I published my first novel 30 years ago, the relationship between writers and publishers and independent bookstores was vital. Nobody knew me or my books, and if it wasn't for independent booksellers handselling Mohawk and The Risk Pool, many readers still wouldn't. Of course, this was long before Internet search engines, before Google and Amazon and Apple. Back then, it was the big box stores that had you guys in their cross hairs, and things didn't look good. The conventional wisdom was that you wouldn't make it. And yet here you are. Here we are. Okay, we haven't taken over world, which continues to change before our eyes, but then we never intended to. We did survive though, both the big box stores and the Internet retailers. How? Well, for one thing, search engines haven't replaced handselling. The technology itself and the terminology is revealing. You search for something that you already know the existence of. You search for your car keys. Their existence isn't in doubt, just their precise location. An engine is a mechanical thing, efficient and helpful but thoughtless. Booksellers are human beings, and they alert readers to what's new, emerging writers, like Ricard Russo 30 years ago, whose existence most readers did not even suspect.

By which I mean to say that the relationship between writers, publishers, independent booksellers and readers is even more vital today than it was 30 years ago. Amazon, Google, Apple--they all sell a lot of books, but they're not in the book business. They are in the business of business. They're not book people. That doesn't mean that they're bad, but they are different from us because we are book people. It's not just what we sell, it's who we are. The noisier the culture gets, the more we crave quiet, stillness. Because beneath the noise and the sheer velocity of life, there is still a conversation going on, the conversation of the democracy. And that conversation is still taking place in the form of books, books written and read. And it's because it's still important that we strain to hear that conversation. We need to know who's saying what and what things ring true and authentic. When we press books upon one another--authors on their publishers, publishers on booksellers, booksellers on readers--we are doing what we've always done and always for the same reason. You'll like this, we tell each other. This is worth your while. This will cheer you up. This will break your heart. This will help you understand. Here, right here, is your new best friend, this book.


HarperCollins to Help New and Expanding Indie Bookstores

HarperCollins is launching the New Bookstore Development Program, under which independent booksellers in the U.S. can receive discounts and grants for opening new stores or expanding to new locations. Beginning July 1, booksellers will be eligible for "discounts in the form of market development and fixture funds" on orders made before opening and for three months following. The program will also give grants toward ABA membership dues and three months of Above the Treeline fees.

"Local independent bookstores play a significant role in community life around the nation and there is definitely room for many more of them," said Josh Marwell, HarperCollins president of sales. "We want to do everything we reasonably can to encourage such growth, especially in the critical early days of a new store's life."

"We are grateful to our friends at HarperCollins for recognizing the role independent bookstores play in their communities and for helping to make it easier for additional stores to be opened," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "While our market has shown surprising strength these past few years, there remain many under-served communities all across the country and we hope programs like Harper's will help fill the gaps."

Interested booksellers should contact their HarperCollins sales rep or e-mail  newaccounts@harpercollins.com for more information.


Craft, New Wisconsin Bookstore, Starting Small

In just a few weeks, the community of Port Washington, Wis., will welcome a new indie bookstore: Craft, owned by Ethan and Jackie Hill. "We're starting small," Ethan explained, "in a 500-square-foot space that was formerly occupied by a psychic." They should open by Memorial Day, but next spring, the couple plans to move the store into a 10,000-square-foot space in a building currently being reconstructed.

Port Washington is 30 minutes north of Milwaukee, in an up-and-coming community on Lake Michigan with a steady year-round population, boosted by tourists in the summer, according to the Hills. The name Craft is meant to encompass many elements: books, of course, along with craft beer and coffee, food, and work by local artisans and musicians.

Wisconsin's newest booksellers come from families of readers; the Hills have always been avid readers. Ethan previously worked at a small investment firm, which he left in August, and Jackie is a retired teacher who now works with senior citizens.

Ethan and Jackie Hill with the first book orders.

For now, the Hills have partnered with a nearby banquet space for author events, and there is a park across the street that they'll use for kids' activities (there are six schools nearby). The bustling neighborhood is already home to numerous restaurants and shops, with plenty of foot traffic and parking.

Ethan Hill noted that the closest bookstores have been very welcoming, and he's been "interning" at Books & Co. in Oconomowoc, Wis. He's using data about top sellers from that store to help refine the inventory at Craft, as well as picks from a recent Rep Night. The first orders of books, from Ingram, are arriving at the store now, and the goal is to open with a stock of about 750 titles. The small store will allow the Hills to refine their inventory and prepare for the shift to a larger space.


Obituary Note: Katherine Dunn

Katherine Dunn, a National Book Award finalist for her 1989 novel Geek Love, which developed a strong cult following, died yesterday, the Portland Tribune reported. She was 70 years old. In addition to her fiction, Dunn "worked as a boxing reporter, a columnist, poet and on a number of nonfiction projects, including School of Hard Knocks: The Struggle for Survival in America's Toughest Boxing Gyms, for which she would win the 2004 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Award." 

"Geek Love is a book that will live forever," said Jeff Baker, the Oregonian's former longtime book critic. "It's so influential." Baker described Dunn as "our Mother Courage. She was possibly the most generous person I've ever met. She was so helpful to anyone who needed help, period, in any walk of life."   


Notes

Media and Movies

Media Heat: D. Watkins on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: D. Watkins, author of The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir (Grand Central, $26, 9781455588633).

Tomorrow:
CNN's Smerconish: Sydney Blumenthal, author of A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. I, 1809-1849 (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476777252).


TV: The Mist

Emmy-winning director Adam Bernstein (30 Rock) will direct the premiere episode of Spike's straight-to-series drama The Mist, based on the Stephen King novella, Deadline reported. The 10-episode project goes into production this summer for premiere in 2017.



Books & Authors

Awards: BEA Industry Ambassador; New England Society

James Patterson has won the sixth annual BEA Industry Ambassador Award, which recognizes "major innovators and creative business leaders in the book industry." Patterson received the award for his support of literacy--he is a patron of pro-reading professionals like booksellers, teachers and librarians, and the founder of ReadKiddoRead, a non-profit website dedicated to turning kids into avid readers, which is also the goal of his new imprint at Little, Brown, JIMMY Patterson. BEA event director Brien McDonald accepted the award on Patterson's behalf.

---

The winners of the 2016 New England Society Book Awards, sponsored by the New England Society in the City of New York and honoring books of merit that celebrate New England and its culture, are:

Fiction: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (Morrow)
Contemporary Nonfiction: The Pawnbroker's Daughter: A Memoir by Maxine Kumin (Norton)
History & Biography: Yankee Colonies Across America: Cities Upon the Hills by Chaim Rosenberg (Lexington Books)
Specialty Title: The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The winning authors will be honored at a luncheon on June 8 at the Grolier Club in New York City.


Book Brahmin: Laura Kaye

Laura Kaye is the author of 25 novels, mostly romantic suspense and contemporary romance, including the Hard Ink series. Her new book, Ride Hard (Avon, April 26, 2016), is the first in the Raven Riders series. Kaye began writing fiction eight years ago, after a traumatic brain injury left her with a new creative urge. Three years ago, she gave up her job as associate professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy to write fiction full time. She also writes historical fiction as Laura Kamoie, whose debut novel, America's First Daughter, came out in March. Kaye lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

On your nightstand now:

I have a pretty varied taste, which these titles reflect. On my nightstand is The Beast by J.R. Ward. This book is in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series, which is my all-time favorite romance series. There's also That Summer by Lauren Willig, which I adored for its dual timeline and mysterious atmosphere and tone. Finally, there's Ron Chernow's Hamilton biography and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton: The Revolution, which celebrate both my love for the Broadway show and provides great inspiration for my upcoming historical fiction, My Dear Hamilton (William Morrow, early 2018, with Stephanie Dray).

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett are the ones I most remember. I wrote a paranormal retelling of The Secret Garden when I was no more than 10 or 12. I suppose it was fan fiction before I knew what that was!

Your top five authors:

This is always so hard, but I would say Stephen King, Anne Rice, J.R. Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kristen Ashley.

Book you've faked reading:

Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. It's one I'm super intrigued by, but I keep either picking it up and putting it down or deciding to read something else first. I do want to get to it though!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward, because it has one of the biggest redemption stories and character arcs of any book I've ever read. I just adore it. And it deals with some daring backstory elements, which I found courageous in a series based on strong alpha men.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought the U.K. edition of Lover Awakened just because the cover was different from the version(s) I already have! I would've purchased it anyway, but the cover of Lover at Last, also by J.R. Ward, was attention grabbing enough that I would've bought it on the cover alone. I also bought Rin Chupeco's The Girl from the Well based on the creepiness of the cover. I grew up on all things supernatural so I've always loved stories like that.

Book you hid from your parents:

My mother was an avid reader--actually, all the women in my family were. I don't remember hiding any books from her. I read Stephen King, Anne Rice and V.C. Andrews as a teenager, which she knew. I remember more her jokingly complaining how hard it was to keep me in books because I finished them so fast!

Book that changed your life:

I feel like I take something away from every book I read, and that sometimes a book changes you more at one point in your life than it would at another. One example would be Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I first read that in my 20s, and remember being very moved and inspired by the life lessons Morrie shared, and I remember the book making me want to look at how to live life fully and meaningfully. And then I re-read part of it after my mother died unexpectedly at the age of 59, and all I could see then was the sadness of Morrie's final days. So a book can change you in different ways with each new re-reading. A book that more specifically changed my life would be Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, because I read that book while recovering from a brain injury and, later, shoulder surgery. As I healed from both, but particularly the head injury, a strong, new creative urge gripped me, and Twilight inspired me toward a particular outlet for that creativity. Soon after reading it, I completed my first novel in just three months' time.

Favorite line from a book:

This is so not easy to pick either! I could pull a dozen just out of the Harry Potter series alone, but one of my favorites is from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:

"You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."

Five books you'll never part with:

I have to go more with series--I have all the books in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Those will always be on my keeper shelf as books that most inspired various aspects of me and my writing.

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

I would love to read Dark Lover by J.R. Ward, and the whole Black Dagger Brotherhood series again for the first time. I envy anyone just finding those books anew! But I'd also love to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas and most of the books in the Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.


Book Review

Review: The Hour of Land

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams (Sarah Crichton/FSG, $27 hardcover, 9780374280093, June 7, 2016)

Celebrated conservationist Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge; When Women Were Birds) commemorates the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service with The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks. In 12 chapters, she explores 12 parks, their histories and futures. Ecology forms a natural overarching theme, but Williams's topics are variously personal, global and political. The places she visits range from Alaska to Maine to south Texas, while her subjects span still broader ground: biodiversity and water shortages; suicide and hopelessness; continuing unrest in U.S. relations with Native Americans; climate change; political prisoners from around the globe; and the legacy of the Civil War. Her writing is poetic, passionate and unexpected.

In each chapter, Williams describes a visit to a specific national park, and then investigates the place and her experience there, sometimes directly through narrative storytelling and sometimes metaphorically. She begins with Grand Teton National Park, where her family has often returned over the decades and generations. The history of that park's founding and the establishment of the Parks system melds with her family story: "Our national parks are memory palaces where our personal histories reside." With her father, who spent his career laying pipe for industry and development, and a park superintendent, she tours Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Together they birdwatch and debate the balance between fossil fuel extraction and conservation. In Acadia National Park, Williams muses that parks may be "breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath." She finds Gettysburg National Battlefield representative of sustained resentments, pain and violence, and at Effigy Mounds National Monument, she encounters cultural heritage and controversy. To escape the pain of Gettysburg and Effigy Mounds, she heads into the desert, to Big Bend National Park.

Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska offers escape from a personal tragedy; Gulf Islands National Seashore, in Florida and Mississippi, reveals that the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill remain, stinking and stinging. Williams visits the exhibit by artist Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz Island in Golden Gate National Recreation Area; the recently established Cesar E. Chavez National Monument; and, of course, her home landscape of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. In Glacier National Park, where the Tempest family tries to celebrate a birthday by retracing old steps, they are instead nearly killed by in a forest fire that sweeps over the chalet where they lodge. In these travels, Williams finds beauty and distress over the future, and opines, "We continue to evolve and transform who we are in relationship to where we are."

By turns sad, despairing, and hopeful, even thrilled in the presence of natural beauty, The Hour of Land is emotive, intelligent and well traveled. It is only right that Williams should celebrate the Park Service's centennial with such a remarkable collection of wisdom and scintillating lines. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: In this phenomenal exploration of U.S. National Parks, Terry Tempest Williams turns her smart, poetic eye to place, history, ecology, the future and how we relate to one another.


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