Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Viking: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Zonderkidz: The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

Tordotcom: Witch King by Martha Wells


Book Passage to Open Third Store, in Sausalito

Book Passage, which has stores in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., is opening a third store, in Sausalito, that will have about 1,800 square feet of space and be slightly larger than the Book Passage in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Owners Elaine and Bill Petrocelli plan to have a soft opening in about a month and a grand opening early next year.

Bill Petrocelli told Shelf Awareness that the new store will be located a block or so north of the terminal for the ferry to and from San Francisco. In fact, both the San Francisco and Sausalito stores are about the same distance from the ferries, which "leads to the irresistible observation that these two stores will be just a few hundred steps apart with a beautiful boat ride in the middle." The new Sausalito store is also roughly midway between Corte Madera and San Francisco.

The Sausalito store will serve both the local community and the many visitors the town attracts, stocking what Petrocelli called "our usual collection of books, including fiction, travel, food, and children's books" as well as a selection of books on boating and sailing, "given that we are right next to the Sausalito Yacht Harbor."

Elaine Petrocelli founded Book Passage in 1976 in Larkspur in a 900-square-foot space. Ten years later, Book Passage moved to Corte Madera and has grown steadily over the years to more than 12,000 square feet. In 2003, the Petrocellis opened in San Francisco. Book Passage holds an impressive range of author events, workshops, classes and conferences, including the Mystery Writers Conference, Travel Writers and Photographers Conference, the Children's Picture Book Writers and Illustrators Weekend and the YA and Middle Grade Book Writers Weekend.

Blackstone Publishing: Émilienne by Pamela Binnings Ewen

Narberth Bookshop Opens in Pennsylvania

Narberth Bookshop opened yesterday in Narberth, Pa., and will have a grand opening on Saturday, November 5, that will include "food, fun, and literary fanfare!" as the store wrote on Facebook.

Owned by publishing industry veteran Ellen Trachtenberg, Narberth Bookshop is an 1,100-square-foot, general-interest shop with a focus on adult fiction and nonfiction. The store will carry a selection of frontlist titles--not an encyclopedic inventory but books that Trachtenberg or one of her staff members can personally recommend.

"If people see the store as more literary and very selective, then I will have accomplished what I'm trying to do," Trachtenberg said. "I want to have a really good, wide range of titles, but not necessarily have every classic."

GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Frankfurt 2016: Booksellers Discuss What Readers Want

"I'm actually really glad that e-books came along," said Jane Streeter, owner of the Bookcase in Lowdham, England, during a panel discussion entitled "What Readers Want" at the Frankfurt Book Fair last Friday. The panel featured independent booksellers from the U.K., U.S. and Germany, who discussed recent trends and changes in the book business. Ariana Paliobagis, owner of Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., and Patrick Musial, an owner of Buchhandlung Musial in Recklinghausen, Germany, were also on the panel, and Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter was the moderator.

l.-r.: Jane Streeter, Patrick Musial and Ariana Paliobagis

"The most wonderful result of that is that the physical book is now a real object of desire," continued Streeter.

Streeter and Paliobagis, who won an Europa Editions scholarship that allowed her to attend the Book Fair, both reported that they've seen strong growth in their children's sections in recent years. When Paliobagis bought Country Bookshelf some six years ago, the kids' section took up maybe an eighth of the store. Now it is at least a quarter, if not more than that, and still growing.

"It's very welcoming for families," said Paliobagis. "We find that's good all around. The longer you keep families in there, the more likely they are to find something for everyone."

Musial said that although children's and young adult books are a big part of his business, he hasn't seen the same sort of growth that Paliobagis and Streeter have. Cookbooks and travel books, however, are doing extremely well, "despite all of the apps and smartphone use." Paliobagis noted that cookbooks, specifically the gorgeously made, less practical sort, are selling extremely well, as are science and nature books. Streeter, too, has seen a significant increase in nature writing, spurred in part by the Wainwright Prize, awarded annually for U.K. nature and travel writing. Paliobagis and Streeter both said that in their stores, coloring book sales are finally beginning to decline.

When asked if their customers want or read e-books, all three of the booksellers said they do offer e-books, but it is a small part of their business. Musial explained that what worries him about e-book use is the potential for piracy, not the death of print, and added that he does not believe German publishers are doing enough to combat piracy. For both Streeter and Paliobagis, there is the particular customer who travels frequently and buys many e-books but, otherwise, e-books are often left alone. At the same time, physical books have seemed to become more and more objects of art as people return to them.

"If a book is well crafted, it encourages people to buy it," said Musial. "Pricing is not an issue at our shop. People are willing to pay for a product."

"Bookshops have become more beautiful because of Amazon. I really believe that," said Streeter, when the panelists were asked how they distinguish themselves from online retailers. "There are so many personal interactions. We do more events, more curation... we do the physical things you can't do online."

Paliobagis, meanwhile, said it's personal service that sets her store apart. In her view, no algorithm can truly replicate what good booksellers do on a daily basis. She added: "Our store is staffed by people who love books, read books, cannot stop talking about books."

"I like competition. I like competition with Amazon as well. Our goal is to be the better alternative," said Musial. He acknowledged that Amazon has helped change his view on customer service in the book industry a little bit. "Amazon is thinking from the customer's perspective, and I had to learn that. I learned it from Amazon. I'm not afraid of Amazon. I think it is a problem for big chain stores, but not as much of a problem for our kinds of shops."

Musial concluded: "As a bookseller friend of mine said, we are the ones with smiles on our faces, not on cardboard boxes." --Alex Mutter

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo

David Young to Succeed Christopher Bland at Canongate

David Young will succeed Sir Christopher Bland, long-serving chairman of Canongate Books, in January 2017, the Bookseller reported. Bland is retiring after 22 years as chair of the publisher. Young managed Little, Brown U.K. for 10 years before taking over what would become Hachette Book Group USA from 2007 to 2013, after which he became CEO of Orion and deputy CEO of Hachette U.K. Currently he is president of the Book Trade Charity.

Obituary Note: Sheri S. Tepper; Lucia Perillo

Sheri S. Tepper, "a prolific author of SF, best known for her feminist and ecological themes, with major titles including The Gate to Women's Country (1988) and Grass (1989)," died October 22, Locus reported. She was 87. "Many of her novels were shortlisted for major awards, including the Clarke, the Tiptree, the Hugo, and the Campbell Memorial Award," Locus wrote. She received a World Fantasy life achievement award in 2015.

In a tribute, author John Scalzi wrote on his blog: "Aside from her considerable talents as an author, Tepper stands as a reminder that it's never too late to write. Tepper didn't publish her first novel until 1983, when she was in her 54th year of life; she wrote something like 40 total, the most recent published in 2014. It's never too late to write; it's never too late to write a classic novel; it's never too late to be a great writer, whether or not the genre has entirely caught up with you yet. Farewell, Ms. Tepper. Your voice will be missed. I'll keep reading what you have left us."


Lucia Perillo, an award-winning author and Pulitzer Prize finalist, died October 16. She was 58. Copper Canyon Press wrote: "We are deeply saddened to share the news that poet and essayist Lucia Perillo has passed away.... Lucia was the author of seven books of poetry, a MacArthur Genius Fellow [in 2000], and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She was a dear friend to us at Copper Canyon Press, and will be greatly missed."

Perillo's books include Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems; Inseminating the Elephant; I've Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness and Nature; Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain: Stories; On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths; and Body Mutinies.

From "To the Field of Scotch Broom that Will Be Buried by the New Wing of the Mall":

Half costume jewel, half parasite, you stood
swaying to the music of cash registers in the distance
while a helicopter chewed the linings
of the clouds above the clear-cuts....

Mine went a little haywire
at the crest of the road, on whose other side
you lay in blossom.
As if your purpose were to defibrillate me
with a thousand electrodes,
one volt each.


Image of the Day: Palm Beach Conversation

The Palm Beach Book Store, Palm Beach, Fla., hosted producer, director and screenwriter John Sacret Young (China Beach, The West Wing) in conversation with writer Scott Eyman (John Wayne, the Life and Legend) about Young's memoir Pieces of Glass (Tallfellow Press), about his life in the world of art. Pictured: (l.-r.): John Sacret Young, store owner Candice Cohen, Scott Eyman.

Seminary Co-op Bookstore: 'More than Shelves of Books'

Jasmine Kwong and Megan Doherty "have spent much of their time over the past five years trying to capture the meaning of a bookstore," the Chicago Tribune reported in a piece headlined "More than shelves of books: Project memorializes Seminary Co-op Bookstore."

As the project directors of If You Weren't Looking for It: The Seminary Co-op Bookstore wrote in the book's foreword: "We set out to document the Co-op... to create as complete a visual record of it as possible." The bookshop recently hosted a launch party for the work.

"They took many photos, talked with employees and customers and before they knew it they had a book that they deem a 'gathering of priceless observations of how a bookstore can become a sanctuary, a community. Home,' " the Tribune noted, adding that "it's a wonderful and, in its quiet way, an important book."

'An Inside Look' at R.J. Julia Booksellers

Noting that R.J. Julia Booksellers "has been successfully selling books in Madison, Conn., for the past 26 years," WTNH News8 offered "an inside look" at the bookshop, speaking with general manager Lori Fazio about "the independent bookstore and the role that it plays in a technology centered world."

"I think that e-books have found their niche. It was a lot of excitement and buzz when they first came out and they definitely have their place in the market," said Fazio. "People like to have both. We get told more often than not that they want the hard book in their hands."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Grisham on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: John Grisham, author of The Whistler (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541190).

Good Morning America: Abbi Jacobson, author of Carry This Book (Viking, $25, 9780735221598). Tomorrow she'll be on Live with Kelly, Diane Rehm and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Fresh Air: Richard L. Hasen, author of The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Yale University Press, $24, 9780300198249).

Ellen: Martha Stewart discusses Martha Stewart's Vegetables: Inspired Recipes and Tips for Choosing, Cooking, and Enjoying the Freshest Seasonal Flavors (Clarkson Potter, $29.50, 9780307954442).

The View: Phil Collins, author of Not Dead Yet: The Memoir (Crown Archetype, $28, 9781101907474). He will also appear on the Daily Show.

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Mario Batali, author of Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA (Grand Central, $40, 9781455584710).

Movies: Nocturnal Animals; Silence

The official trailer is out for Focus Features' Nocturnal Animals, written and directed by Tom Ford (A Single Man) and based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. It opens in select theaters November 18 and expands nationwide December 9.


The Playlist offered a first look at Silence, Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel starring Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson. "The source material was previously made into a movie in 1971 by Japanese filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda, but the struggle with faith has long been a regular thematic concern in Scorsese's films, so we're excited to see what he does here," the Playlist noted. Silence opens in limited release on December 23, before going wide in January.

Books & Authors

Awards: N.H.; Chicago Review of Books; Guardian Kids FIction

The winners of the Readers' Choice Awards, honoring books "by New Hampshire natives, by New Hampshire residents, or that have New Hampshire as a prominent aspect of their content" and sponsored by the Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library, are:

Fiction: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets
Poetry: Interval: Poems Based on Bach's Goldberg Variations by Alice B. Fogel
Nonfiction: The Nepal Chronicles by Dan Szczesny
Children's Literature: The Girl Who Heard Colors by Marie Harris
Young Adult: Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

In addition, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has won the Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the New Hampshire Writers' Project.

The awards will be presented November 3 at a reception and ceremony held at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester.


Shortlists were unveiled last week in four categories (Best Fiction, Best Nonfiction, Best Poetry and Best Debut) for the Chicago Review of Books Awards ("Chirbys"), which are being held in partnership with the city's independent bookstores. The winners in each category will be announced December 8 at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park.


A shortlist has been announced for the 2016 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. The winner will be named November 17. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle
The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Book Review

Review: Rasputin

Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35 hardcover, 848p., 9780374240844, November 22, 2016)

Douglas Smith's Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs may seem like a daunting read. Weighing in at more than 800 pages and featuring a level of detail that brings to mind Robert Caro's accomplished doorstops, Rasputin is not just another in a long line of biographies of the so-called "holy devil." Smith, the author of Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy, has written the definitive account of Grigory Rasputin's life and times, correcting more than a century's worth of disinformation and propaganda surrounding a humble peasant who became a near-mythic figure.

Smith questions every element of the mythos, even countering accusations of his criminal background as a horse thief through "a series of documents that have languished unnoticed... until now." That will become something of a refrain throughout the biography, as Smith not only reinterprets the work of his predecessors but also provides a wealth of new information about Rasputin and disproves countless claims made against the starets--a Russian term for a religious elder.

Rasputin's life is the stuff of biographers' dreams even without the traditional embellishments. Beginning with Rasputin's obscure transition from a Siberian peasant to a pilgrim wandering among Russian Orthodox holy sites, Smith explains how Rasputin developed his religious outlook: "[he] took in all that the Russian religious world had to offer but kept only that which suited him, fashioning in the process his own version of peasant Orthodoxy." And similarly, his famous talent for reading people: "he had seen nearly all there was to behold in the sprawling empire of the tsars and had moved among all manner of people.... His knowledge of the Russian social order was broad and his understanding of human psychology, deep." 

Far from uncovering banal reality behind Rasputin's supposed mystical talents, Smith instead explains how the man's forceful personality came to have such an impact on intelligent, learned people such as the Tsar and Tsarina. He even puts forward a theory for Rasputin's seemingly miraculous ability to heal the young Tsarevich: "At a time when the medical profession had no way to treat hemophilia, and the fussings of the doctors only served to exacerbate Alexei's suffering, Rasputin's instruction to leave him in peace was vital to his recovery, especially when considered together with his words of hope of assurance that all would be well."

The Rasputin that emerges in Smith's portrait is strikingly different from the one that dominates the popular imagination to this day. In Smith's telling, Rasputin did occasionally fall prey to vice, specifically adultery and drinking to excess, but he was also devoted to his family, a sincere believer and a fervent supporter of the royal family as well as the peasant class he was born into. Rasputin's ascendancy frightened some important Russians who began an enormously influential media campaign against him. That campaign was so successful that Smith's book reads like a revelatory work of revisionist history, unearthing a flesh-and-blood person from a century's worth of lies and exaggerations. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Shelf Talker: Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs is a massive biography of the famous Russian spiritual leader that may prove to be the definitive portrait of his life and times.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. In My Own Words...My Real Reality by Toya Wright
2. The Fix Up by Kendall Ryan
3. Going Down Fast (Billionaire Bad Boys Volume 2) by Carly Phillips
4. Beard Science by Penny Reid
5. The Player by Claire Contreras
6. Mr. Mysterious (The Mister Series Volume 4) by JA Huss
7. Pucked Under by Helena Hunting
8. The Billionaire's Adventurous Mistress (Bold, Alaskan Men Book 4) by Elizabeth Lennox
9. Charge by E.L. Todd
10. And Then She Was GONE by Christopher Greyson

[Many thanks to!]

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