Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 12, 2016

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

Quotation of the Day

Bookshop Browsing: 'Time Well Spent'

"Browsing in a bookshop feels like time well spent, while searching for a book online feel like squandered time--only the purchase counts.

"A local bookshop is part of a community, working with schools and families and all nearby readers to link them with books they might come to love, connecting with its customers and bringing a human kind of expertise whenever it's asked for. It is a hub for bookclubs and author events and the chance encounters that lead to the discovery of an unfamiliar writer who becomes a lifelong favorite. It remains far better than an algorithm when suggesting what book your eight-year-old niece or granddaughter might like for her birthday." 

--Nick Earls, in a piece headlined "All hail the bookshop: survivor against the odds," published by The Conversation in anticipation of National Bookshop Day tomorrow in Australia

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Amazon to Collect Sales Tax in Alabama

Beginning November 1, "all Amazon online purchases made by shoppers who live in Alabama will have an additional 8% sellers use tax," WSFA News reported, adding that the online retailer "will collect the tax and pay to the state on the 20th of each month with the standard 2% discount taxpayers receive for paying on-time." The rate is slightly lower than the 10% tax some bricks-and-mortar stores pay.

In October of last year, the state's Simplified Use Tax Remittance Program was signed into law, allowing online retailers that do not have operations within the state to collect, report and distribute the 8% tax back to the state. Under the program, Amazon "would be able to continue to keep the tax rate at 8% in the event of a federal regulation setting a higher rate for online retailers in the future," WSFA News wrote.

Commissioner of Revenue Julie Magee said Alabama has received nearly $3 million in general funds from the program since it started, adding: "We have 52 online retailers in the program now. Some of them, you have heard of and others, you've never heard of. Three of the companies in the program are amongst the top online retailers. Amazon will be the fourth in that category."

Melissa Warnke, communications/engagement management for the Alabama Retail Association, said, "This is great news for retailers all across the state. For decades, brick-and-mortar stores have been fighting for a level playing field. Essentially, the government has been giving online stores a 10% advantage over brick-and-mortar stores."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Bookshop Santa Cruz Unveils Its First 'Artful Reading Bench'

(l.-r.) City arts manager Beth Tobey, artist Bruce Harman, Mayor Cynthia Matthews, Bookshop Santa Cruz owner Casey Coonerty Protti, city councilmember David Terrazas, Parks and Recreation director Mauro Garcia, bench designer Tom Ralston.

Bookshop Santa Cruz dedicated an "artful reading bench" yesterday at a local playground in Santa Cruz, Calif., the first of three benches that are being donated to the city as reading spots for kids and families in public playgrounds to celebrate the bookstore's 50th anniversary and as a way of thanking the community for its support.

Mayor Cynthia Matthews and city council member David Terrazas were joined by city parks and arts staff and local neighbors for the ribbon cutting at Grant Street Park, where they had a first look at the bench designed by artist Bruce Harman, who aimed to invoke the magic of books with imaginative characters coming off an open book at the beginning of a story.

Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz, shared a great story from the event: "When I arrived to set up for the dedication, a grandma and three-year-old were reading books on the bench. I figured they were there for the dedication. It turns out they didn't know about the dedication. Instead, they lived in the neighborhood and had watched the artist paint the bench over the last month. This morning, they planned to go to the park for their daily visit and the little girl told her grandma that she couldn't forget to bring her books. She said she wanted to read on 'her' reading bench."

The other two benches will be installed at Garfield Park and San Lorenzo Park this fall with Denise Davidson and Terra Dawson as the respective commissioned artists. Tom Ralston Concrete will be creating and installing the benches. As the art process begins, Bookshop Santa Cruz will be posting updates on the artists on its website and through social media.

"We are thrilled that there will now be spots in local playgrounds for families to read together," said Protti. "One of the main reasons we are able to make it to 50 years is because we are located in a community that cares about books. We hope this gift will continue that tradition by having the art inspire the next generation of readers."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Running Press Partners with Sesame Workshop

Running Press and Sesame Workshop are partnering to produce classic Sesame Street characters and stories in new editions and packages, including six deluxe story book and treasury collections, an inspirational book for adults and four titles in Running Press's mini kit format.

The partnership will launch this fall with A Very Elmo Christmas, a special slip-cased edition of two popular Elmo stories that includes holiday stickers and a Christmas countdown poster. The Goodnight Elmo Kit, featuring an Elmo nightlight and mini storybook, follows in February 2017, and new releases will continue throughout the year, with Sesame Street I Can Do It!: A Treasury of Stories in April and a new picture book debuting in the fall.
"We are thrilled to be working with Sesame Street on such a robust publishing program," said Running Press publisher Kristin Kiser, who negotiated the deal. "With Sesame Street's superb brand recognition and unique relationship with generations of parents, we are confident that our beautifully designed books and innovative mini kits will find a huge audience of fans who will delight in seeing their favorite Sesame Street characters in such engaging formats."

Jennifer A. Perry, v-p and publisher, North America Media Products at Sesame Workshop, commented: "Running Press has embraced a very thoughtful approach presenting our favorite, furry friends in unique book formats. We look forward to expanding on our partnership and creating meaningful new Sesame Street content for families to enjoy and learn from together."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Obituary Notes: Bob Hugo; Anil Arora

Bob Hugo

Bob Hugo, founder of the HugoBooks bookstores in Massachusetts, died on July 27, of complications from a recent illness, Marblehead Wicked Local wrote. He was 72.

Hugo founded the Spirit of '76 Bookstore in Marblehead in 1965, shortly before graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In 1988, he bought the Book Rack in Newburyport, and in 1992, he bought the Andover Bookstore in Andover, which was founded in 1809 and is the second oldest continually operating bookstore in the U.S. HugoBooks also runs the Phillips Academy Andover e-store and earlier this year opened Campus Collection, a store in Andover that specializes in Phillips Academy, Andover High School and Andover town merchandise. HugoBooks is now run by Bob Hugo's son, John.

A memorial service will be held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m.


Anil Arora, former owner of Bookworm in Delhi, died Tuesday, the Indian Express reported. In a tribute to the longtime bookseller, Shubhra Gupta wrote: "There are some bookshops you go to only to make a transaction. You spend a few minutes, pick up the book you want, ask how much, pay up and you are out of there, already in another place in your head.

"And some are from joy. Bookworm was my joyful spot.... Because of the place itself, bright, airy, the two levels joined by a spiral staircase that led you to heaven. And because of its owner Anil Arora, who became, what I call, a 'bookfriend,' who very quickly learnt your name and your choices, and started keeping aside those books he thought might interest you, for the next time you came.... He passed away two days back. So many friends who shared a love for Bookworm and the man who ran it called and messaged. One common thread ran through them all--Anil, the lover of jazz and the purveyor of all kinds of exciting volumes, gave us bookworms a place to call our own, never mind if we were early birds or not."


Image of the Day: Tuesday in the Park with Amy

Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal hosted an outdoor launch event for her new memoir, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Dutton), at the Bean in Chicago's Millennium Park. Hundreds of people joined in the all-day lineup of events, which featured a Facetime session with John Green, group yoga, vow renewals led by a licensed officiant (including the author, in the striped dress, and her husband, Jason), music, art, readings and more. There were also two field trips to Barbara's Bookstore, which sold books for the event. The biggest surprise came when a representative from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's office appeared and made an official proclamation that August 9, 2016, was Amy Krouse Rosenthal Day in Chicago, urging all Chicagoans to acknowledge and honor the author's "steadfast commitment to literature, film, and our city."

Conn. Indies 'Surviving on Their Charm, Programs'

Noting that "all those kindred spirits you see browsing in the House of Books or in Washington Depot's Hickory Stick Bookshop, Madison's R.J. Julia, New Canaan's Elm Street Books or in any of the 57 indie book shops in Connecticut are not figments of your imagination," the Hartford Courant found that the state's independent bookstores are "surviving on their charm, programs," as well as good business sense.

"People want their bookshop to remain in their town," said Robin Dill-Herde of House of Books in Kent. "It's their sanctuary. They have a sense that it is one of their own places. It's not like any other type of store. You walk in and take a whiff of the bookshop smell and you just relax."

Fran Keilty of the Hickory Stick noted that the "appeal of an indie shop is the browsing and discovering things in a congenial atmosphere.... Kindles are good for traveling but it's not the same feeling as holding a book. Interestingly, I've noticed older people are more committed to their devices, while young people have smartphones and work at computers all day, but they like books for the down time. They tell me they enjoy the simplicity of it."

At Jack & Allie's Children's Bookstore in Vernon, Barbara Khan observed: "We try to use books with themes to get the kids into reading and base the activities around those themes. It all comes back to the books. Having only been here two years, we weren't bashed by the recession, and I've seen constant growth. Many of my loyal customers tell me, 'I know I could get this at the big box store or on Amazon, but I want to support a local business.'"

Keilty added: "It's a good sign that younger people are getting into the business. Ten years ago, you'd see a lot of gray hair at book conventions and conferences. Now you're surrounded by young, vibrant energy. It's a lifestyle these young people want. Who knows what five years from now will bring, but then it has never been an occupation that will make you a ton of money. Still, it's a satisfying one."

Albertine: One of '7 Places to Pretend You're French in NYC'

Noting that "there are plenty of spots to feel très français in NYC," PureWow highlighted seven of them, including Albertine bookstore: "Francophiles and bibliophiles alike will find plenty to love at this charming Upper East Side bookshop--inside a landmarked mansion--dedicated to titles from French-speaking countries. (Don't worry, there are lots of options translated into English.) Make sure to pause from browsing long enough to look up at the gorgeous Zodiac-inspired ceiling."

Personnel Changes at S&S Children's

Caitlin Nalven has been promoted to national account manager at Simon & Schuster Children's, handling Baker & Taylor, Ingram and Perma-Bound. She was previously manager, telemarketing sales.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Beard on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mary Beard, author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (Liveright, $35, 9780871404237).

TV: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Marta Kauffman (Grace and Frankie) and her Okay Goodnight production company have the miniseries We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, based on Karen Joy Fowler's novel, in development at HBO, Deadline reported. Natalie Portman will star in and executive produce the project, while Christopher Monger (Temple Grandin) is writing the adaptation. Homeland and Tyrant co-creator Gideon Raff is executive producing alongside Portman and Okay Goodnight's Kauffman and Robbie Tollin. Okay's Hannah KS Canter is co-producer.

Movies: Woolly

Oscar Sharp, "a celebrated director of short films that include The Karman Line and Sign Language," will helm Woolly: The True Story of the De-Extinction of One of History's Most Iconic Creatures, Deadline reported. The book, which is being written by Ben Mezrich, was acquired by Fox this week "based on a pitch and partial manuscript by the writer whose books informed the movies 21 [Straight Flush] and The Social Network."

Books & Authors

PEN/Nabokov Award Revived for International Writers

Yesterday, PEN America announced the revival of the former PEN/Nabokov Award as the $50,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, which will honor "an international writer whose work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship."

The winner will be selected by a panel of five internationally recognized writers who will serve as judges. The award, which is not open to public nominations, honors a writer born or residing outside the U.S. for an outstanding body of work over a sustained career. It will be conferred for the first time in 2017, with the inaugural recipient to be named in February at the PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony in New York.

This decision marks a renewed partnership between PEN America and the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, who together created the $20,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for Fiction in 2000 and offered it biennially through 2008. Winners included Mavis Gallant, William H. Gass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Cynthia Ozick and Philip Roth.

PEN America President Andrew Solomon commented: "The new PEN/Nabokov Award is the first PEN America honor specifically focused on international writers. At a time when there is too little dialogue between nations, it will draw attention to outstanding global voices that may be unknown to most U.S. readers. It is a welcome counterbalance to rampant xenophobia and increasingly jingoistic provincialism. In renewing our close collaboration with the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, PEN America pays tribute to the cross-cultural legacy of one of the most revered multinational PEN Members, a master of storytelling: Vladimir Nabokov."

Reading with... Emma Newman

photo: Lou Abercrombie

Emma Newman writes dark short stories and science fiction and urban fantasy novels. She won the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story Award 2015, and Between Two Thorns, the first book in her Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the BFS Best Novel and Best Newcomer 2014 awards. Her first science fiction novel, Planetfall, was published by Roc in 2015. Newman is an audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast Tea and Jeopardy, which involves tea, cake, mild peril and singing chickens. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She can be found as @emapocalyptic on Twitter. Book four of the Split Worlds series is A Little Knowledge (Diversion Books, August 2, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

I'm reading Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham and marveling at how many of the slang phrases mean nothing to me! Whilst that is a tad frustrating, it reminds me that there is evolution and fluidity in language, which is something that has always fascinated me. Another book is still on my nightstand (and shouldn't be, as I finished it a while ago and I really need to tidy up!) is Escapology by Ren Warom. I was lucky enough to get an ARC and I loved it. If you want some fast-paced, gritty and super imaginative cyberpunk, that's the one to look out for.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It was a book called Gods, Men and Monsters that contained retellings of the Greek myths. I adored Greek mythology and must have borrowed that from my school library at least a dozen times. It was a huge hardback and I remember how heavy it was!

Your top five authors:

Mary Doria Russell (because of depth of character development and sheer heartbreak of The Sparrow), Adrian Tchaikovsky (because of thrilling adventure and feminism of Guns of the Dawn), James Clavell (because of intricate politics mixed with old-fashioned adventure of Shōgun), China Miéville (because of the insanely creative and intelligent Perdido Street Station and Embassytown) and Gail Carriger (because of the deliciously funny and light Parasol Protectorate series).

Book you've faked reading:

Ahhh, that would be Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. I was about 16, I think, and obsessed with the TV show Quantum Leap. There's an episode in which Sam "leaps" into the body of an actor in the stage production of Man of la Mancha, and I loved it so much that I hunted down the novel it was based upon. Several people warned me it was dense and that I'd find it hard going, but I pushed through the first hundred or so pages with the diligence of a girl who did not want to be proved wrong. The bookmark moved through the book without any reading taking place after that, I am rather ashamed to admit.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky! I loved that book so much I read it in two sittings (and it's not short!). It has elements of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels, mixed with Jane Austenesque characters, against the backdrop of war, with a side order of fireball-wielding sorcerers. The lead character is simply wonderful.

Book you've bought for the cover:

We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen. It has the most beautiful cover, though I am embarrassed to say I haven't got round to reading it yet!

Book you hid from your parents:

I struggle to think of one; my parents were very relaxed about what I read. However, I remember a holiday we took once in a cottage with a shelf full of books for the renters to read. I can't remember how old I was, but definitely younger than 12, and I picked up Flowers in the Attic. Whilst some of it went over my head, I instinctively knew that was one to read in the early morning before the adults got up.

Book that changed your life:

I think many books have changed my life; the ones that have really captivated me have made me see people and places and situations from different points of view. However, there is one nonfiction title that definitely changed my life: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. My late best friend sent a copy to me about 15 years ago, after I had spent about a decade screwing my life up because I was too scared to write. It came with a note from her saying, "Didn't you used to write?" It helped me untangle myself and start writing again after I'd had success with a short story at age 17, which terrified me into not writing anything else! Without that book and that act of kindness on the part of my best friend, I have no idea whether I would be an author today.

Favorite line from a book:

"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never would."

That's from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and I love the framing of magic within the manners of the era.

Five books you'll never part with:

Only five? Oh dear. Can we assume that the ones I listed along with my favourite authors are already accounted for?

A battered old copy of The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury. It's a short story collection and contains "A Sound of Thunder" which is my favourite short story. I read it once a year. I believe it is one of the most perfectly executed examples of a time travel story, and every time I read it, it still sends a shiver down my back.

A copy of Wuthering Heights filled with annotations I made whilst studying the text at A-level. I love that novel, more because of what it taught me about the craft of writing than for the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy (I think I was the only one in the class who didn't swoon over him).

A well-loved copy of Wild Swans by Jung Chang. The first time I read that, many, many years ago, I had no knowledge of the suffering caused by Mao's regime. It's a heartrending read.

A very beautiful hardback edition of The Lord of the Rings in one volume. That formed the entirety of one Easter holiday for me and the illustrations by Alan Lee are so beautiful.

Millennium by Felipe Fernández-Armesto is a satisfyingly huge tome that I gave as a gift to my late maternal grandfather. When he passed away some years ago, my family found it in his house with the Christmas present tag from me tucked inside, being used as a bookmark. I haven't been able to bring myself to read it, as the sight of the bookmark brought such grief. One day I will complete the book that he never had the chance to finish.

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

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith. Oh my, that book delighted and enthralled me. I have owned about five copies of that book over the past 20 years and there are two reasons I don't own one: one is that those five copies were all lent out to people I gushed to about the book and they were never returned, and two, because I am kind of scared to read it again, just in case it isn't as perfect as I recall!

Book Review

Review: A Tree or a Person or a Wall

A Tree or a Person or a Wall: Stories by Matt Bell (Soho Press, $16 paperback, 400p., 9781616955236, September 13, 2016)

A Tree or a Person or a Wall collects Matt Bell's previously published work, including short stories from the collection How They Were Found and the novella Cataclysm Baby, alongside new works of short fiction. Bell certainly deserves the attention--his writing, equal parts Cormac McCarthy and H.P. Lovecraft, is as startling fresh and unclassifiable here as in his novels In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods and Scrapper.

Bell blithely ignores genre distinctions in pursuit of his apocalyptic vision, leaping nimbly from fable to science fiction to murder mystery and beyond. In this, and in his playful and creative use of language, Bell joins a class of genre-blind writers that include Karen Russell, China Miéville and Emily St. John Mandel. Bell's vision, however, is more horror-tinged, taking pessimism to its bleakest edge and manifesting anxieties in their most extreme forms.

The first (and titular) story in the collection begins with the line: "Even before the man with rough hands brought the boy to the locked room, even then there was always already the albino ape sitting on the chair beside the nightstand, waiting for the man and the boy to come." And it gets only weirder from there. "Wolf Parts" retells the fable of Little Red Riding Hood over and over again in grotesque variations, from arguably perverse meditations on the wolf's anatomy to a bittersweet recasting of the tale as a love story:

"After the mother and grandmother both passed away, the wolf took their places, so that the girl he secretly adored would not have to go without. The wolf raced back and forth between their houses, switching between the mother's apron and the grandmother's gown, raising his voice as high as it would go. For her part, the girl pretended not to notice, but it was hard, and sooner or later she knew she would slip, or else he would, and then they would have to act like girls and wolves were supposed to act...."

Cataclysm Baby is the ne plus ultra of Bell's fiction, bringing his nightmarish lyricism to bear on the apprehensions associated with impending parenthood. Flitting through the alphabet, each section is set apart by a list of baby names from "Abelard, Abraham, Absalom," to "Zachary, Zahir, Zedekiah." Sometimes the imagined children are terrifying monsters with insectoid bodies or wormlike things that burrow into the ground: "See them squirm free of their cribs, their new and segmented bodies falling to the packed-dirt floor, down and out of this home I built for them and their mother." At other times, it's the parents or the world that fails the children.

Doom-inflected poetics aside, Bell tells deeply human stories that resonate in odd, sad ways. One misshapen child asks: "In a world that's dying... isn't this all sort of beautiful?" and the reader will be forced to agree. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Shelf Talker: A Tree or a Person or a Wall is a collection of new and previously published short fiction from Matt Bell, one of his generation's most distinctive and perversely beautiful writers.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Reading Life You Save May Be Your Own

This has been a banner week for celebrating booklovers and booksellers, as if we needed an excuse. Tuesday was National (or, really, international) Booklovers Day and tomorrow is National Bookshop Day in Australia. We also received the equivalent of a Fountain-of-Reading-Youth prescription with the release of A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading with Longevity by Avni Bavishi, Martin Slade and Becca Levy from the Yale University School of Public Health.

Published in the September issue of Social Science & Medicine, the report specifically links books to a longer life span. Bavishi told the Guardian: "We found that reading books provided a greater benefit than reading newspapers or magazines. We uncovered that this effect is likely because books engage the reader's mind more--providing more cognitive benefit, and therefore increasing the lifespan." The study notes that there are two cognitive processes involved that could create a "survival advantage." Reading books promotes the "slow, immersive process" of "deep reading," a cognitive engagement that "occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented."

Bavishi observed: "We had seen some mixed effects in previous literature that seemed to indicate that there may be a survival advantage to general reading; however, we were impressed with the magnitude of the difference of effect between reading books and reading newspapers/magazines."

Reason enough to celebrate...

National Booklovers Day
The first good reading vibe I noticed under the hashtag #NationalBookloversDay came from Sir Paul McCartney ("Love that book! Happy Book Lovers Day."), but many soon followed, including:

Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, England: "Today is #NationalBookLoversDay celebrate with us & shout WE LOVE BOOKS! What are you reading on this special day?!"
Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.: "Ben's fantastic #nationalbookloversday stack, ft: THE SADNESS, or "The Author's Narcissism" #jkpleasedontfireme"
Books & Books, Miami, Fla.: "RT @newtropicmiami book recommendations from Mitch Kaplan at the @BooksandBooks in Wynwood #NationalBookLoversDay"
Square Books, Oxford, Miss.: "Happy #NationalBookloversDay!! All these staff picks are overflowing with love. What's your favorite book?"
New York Botanical Garden: ("It's all about that centuries-old book smell on #NationalBookLoversDay. Especially in our Rare Book Room.")
Maggie Stiefvater: "Happy #NationalBookLoversDay. Spending it in my office writing."

A prevailing sentiment seemed to be gently questioning the choice of a particular day for our everyday obsession:

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe & Phoenix, Ariz.: "Today is #NationalBookLoversDay, a.k.a. Every Single Dayum Day around here. Happy unofficial holiday, book lovers!"
Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich.: "In honor of National Book Lovers Day (every day, in our opinion), here's an aerial picture of all those pretty books."
Copper Canyon Press: "How about #NationalBookLoversDay every day?"
Books Are My Bag: "Well, *technically* it's every day but let's be greedy and celebrate anyway!"

Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, summed up the National Booklovers Day bookselling spirit nicely in a article (while providing the health & wellness reference I needed to keep my theme intact):

The rise of digital media has made the physical book a source of not only refuge, but balance in people's lives. When you think about the term 'interactive,' in a very real way there is nothing more interactive than a real book, to have the words relay into your mind. There is a privacy there and there is a quiet and there is power. And bookstores provide a place for us all to connect and share reading. The physical book is just a different experience. It provides an experience that is a very healthy, balanced antidote to the more ephemeral experience the people are immersed in online.

National Bookshop Day
The reading-as-healing theme continues tomorrow in Australia with #NationalBookshopDay. As Joel Becker, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association, wrote: "Whether you're having a 'book doctor' prescribing books; having visiting authors; putting on a party; presenting readings, or offering cupcakes (I always make sure I visit my local, Fairfield Books, for some home baked goodies served up by one of the many authors who visit the shop), National Bookshop Day is an opportunity to highlight your business, and have a party with your customers."

So, where's the party? Among many participating shops in the country are Matilda Bookshop in Adelaide ("Come and celebrate with us with free books all day... Share this to tell people who like books, bookshops or, for that matter, us!) and Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane ("Narrative busking? A literary kissing booth? Doggy dress-ups? The Great Bookish Bakeoff? It must be National Bookshop Day at Avid Reader!"). 

Unable, or unwilling, to escape medical references, I'll conclude with one last event. At Beachside Bookshop in Avalon Beach, "a clinic for frustrated book worms will open its surgery on Saturday to mark National Bookshop Day.... Owner Libby Armstrong has lined up writers including Kirsty Eagar and Helen Thurloe, Sophie Hardcastle and Louise Park as doctors."

Reader, heal thyself. The Yale study concludes that "the benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read them... The robustness of our findings suggests that reading books may not only introduce some interesting ideas and characters, it may also give more years of reading." Time to refill that reading prescription, folks. Oh, wait. I don't have to tell you that, do I?

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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