Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Atheneum Books: Bulldozer's Christmas Dig by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster

Other Press: Lemon by Yeo-Sun Kwon, translated by Janet Hong

Ballantine Books: The Maid by Nita Prose

Quotation of the Day

'Every School Child Picks Up a Book'

"I think we could have more readers, more books being borrowed from libraries, more library card holders, more independent bookstores, more book sales. These are indicators of the health of the industry. That people are participating is obvious, but we know there's more ground to cover. But every six months, you see the story asking: Are books dead? Obviously, they're not.... I think we could use a little more optimism and belief in the power of books, because we're still standing. Every school child picks up a book. Can you imagine how happy the theater world would be if every child saw a play?" 

--Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, in an interview with the Miami Herald

House of Anansi Press: Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling by Esi Edugyan


B&N's New Concept Store Opening Next Week

Artist's rendering of B&N's new cafe.

The first new concept Barnes & Noble, in Eastchester, N.Y., originally scheduled to open last month and then postponed until December because of construction delays, will open next week, the Eastchester Daily Voice reported. The grand opening is now set for next Tuesday, November 22.

The new B&N, in the Vernon Hills Shopping Center, will feature a full-service, 2,600-square-foot restaurant that serves alcohol. B&N plans to open similar stores in four other locations: Edina, Minn.; Folsom, Calif.; Loudon, Va.; and Plano, Tex., most by the end of the year.

According to B&N earlier this year, the new concept stores will be about 20%-25% smaller than the company's traditional superstores, and besides the restaurants will include more seating and tables. B&N estimates that books will represent approximately 60% of revenue.

GLOW: Clarion Books: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

PRH to Offer Student Loan Repayment Assistance

Starting in January 2017, any Penguin Random House employee in the United States who has been with the company for at least one year will be eligible to receive financial assistance in paying down student loan debt. The Student Loan Paydown (SLP) Plan comes through a partnership with Grafidi, a Boston, Mass., start-up allowing businesses to contribute directly to their employees' student loan principal on a monthly basis. Through Grafidi's SLP, U.S. Penguin Random House employees will be eligible for up to $1,200 annually in student loan repayment benefits, for up to seven and a half years.

"We have always believed in doing our part to tackle broader societal challenges by starting within our own communities," PRH CEO Markus Dohle commented. "With this new benefit to our employees, we have another opportunity to live up to our mission and help our employees invest in their futures while also making Penguin Random House a happy, productive, and rewarding place to work."

Tim DeMello, founder and CEO of Gradifi, added: "The burden of having student debt has an indisputable impact on the financial stability of an employee, not to mention the paralyzing effect loans have on the overall economy. Penguin Random House's decision to offer Gradifi's SLP Plan as a benefit to their employees emphasizes their commitment to helping alleviate that burden for its employees, as well as recognizing that student loan benefits can help attract and retain millennial talent."

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

PubWest 2017: 'Better Together'

The PubWest 2017 Conference will be held next February 9-11 at the Benson Hotel in Portland, Ore.; the theme will be "Better Together: 40 Years of Publishing Expertise," in part a celebration of the association's 40th anniversary.

Keynotes will be given by Erin McKean, founder of Wordnik, the online dictionary; Ron Charles, editor of the Washington Post's Book World; Will Patton, a marketer who has worked at Nike and the NBA; and Jennifer Worick, author of Things I Want to Punch in the Face.

Among the many peer-to-peer seminars and plenary sessions, a publisher and head-of-house roundtable sessions and more are Pop Culture Publishing: Graphic Novels, Art, and Children's Books; How to Partner with Authors to Maximize Sales: The New Rules for Publicity and Marketing; Made from Scratch: Ingredients for Making Best Sellers; and Book Discovery Online.

For more information and to register, click here.

Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

Obituary Note: Alex Hamilton

British author and journalist Alex Hamilton, who "had an unusually hard struggle to become a writer," but "was industrious, experimenting with genres, completing five novels" and a host of unpublished short stories, died November 2, the Guardian reported. He was 85.

His luck changed one evening when a stranger knocked at Hamilton's door. "In fact he was Jonathan Clowes, a fledgling literary agent who had heard of Alex's creative endeavors from his landlord," the Guardian wrote. "Clowes took away the dog-eared typescript of his latest novel, a picaresque, darkly comic saga of riverside London, and got it accepted as part of Hutchinson's New Authors series. As If She Were Mine appeared in 1962 with a cover illustration by Edward Ardizzone and an introduction by Alan Sillitoe, who compared Alex with Joyce Cary." The book sold 40,000 copies in paperback.

Hamilton went on to publish more novels, "concentrating on the macabre and the ghoulish," but later "he increasingly took to literary journalism" as a reviewer, columnist and, eventually, Guardian travel editor. "Above all, Alex conducted scores of interviews with literary figures. In fact, he probably met more famous authors than anyone on earth.... A selection of his conversations was issued in 2012 under the title Writing Talk," the Guardian noted.

Artemesia Publishing, LLC: The Last Professional by Ed Davis, illustrated by Colin Elgie


Image of the Day: LoDo Cafe Reno

The Tattered Cover LoDo in Denver, Colo., has a newly configured café and café menu that features, among other things, homemade buttermilk biscuits, PBJ&B and the Cold Nitro Brew.

Sterling: Dracula: Deluxe Edition by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Edward Gorey

Happy 100th Birthday, Liam Ruiséal Bookshop!

Congratulations to Irish independent bookstore Liam Ruiséal in Cork, which is celebrating a century in business. The Irish Examiner reported that sisters Bríd Hughes, Fionnuala O'Herlihy and Dara Brady, who run the bookshop for their aunt, Sarah Russell, hosted a series of celebratory events throughout the day.

"We were born and reared to it," Hughes said, noting that it was a very proud day for all involved in what is Cork's oldest independent bookshop, founded by their grandfather (and the shop's namesake). "Grandfather lived over the shop and when our parents married, and when we were children, we were constantly coming into the shop, and we'd be given a job to tidy the shelves or mark a few books. I remember Albert Folen, who founded Folens, coming on a Sunday with a van-load of schoolbooks, and we'd all be here helping out. We've always been involved.... But we have to keep fighting our corner, and being independent, and doing things differently. People will always get a more personal service here."

Personnel Changes at Rodale, Chronicle

Angie Giammarino has been promoted to associate director of marketing at Rodale Books. Previously she was senior marketing manager.


Stephanie Cargill-Greer has joined Chronicle Books as export sales assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Daily Show's Trevor Noah on Live with Kelly

Live with Kelly: Trevor Noah, author of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780399588174).

Ellen: Kendall and Kylie Jenner, co-authors of Time of the Twins: The Story of Lex and Livia (Regan Arts, $17.99, 9781682450079).

Daily Show: Wesley Lowery, author of They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316312479).

Movies: I Am Not Your Negro

A new teaser trailer has been released for the documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raol Peck. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends--Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Peck has envisioned the book Baldwin never finished as a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in the U.S., using Baldwin's original words and archival material. The film will be in theaters February 3.

Books & Authors

Awards: Sydney Peace Prize

Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein won Australia's A$50,000 (about US$37,705) Sydney Peace Prize, which honors public figures who "promote peace‚ justice‚ and non-violence‚" Quillblog reported.

The prize jury said Klein was recognized "for exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to demand a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice."

Reading with... Rajiv Surendra

photo: Luke Fontana

Rajiv Surendra is a modern-day Renaissance man; he's a painter, a potter, woodworker and calligrapher. He's also an actor and is best known for his scene-stealing performance as the rapping mathlete, Kevin Gnapoor, in Mean Girls. He lives in New York City, where he runs his business, Letters in Ink, while continuing to pursue a multifaceted career in the arts. The Elephants in My Backyard, his first book, chronicles his 10-year journey chasing after the lead role in the film adaptation of Life of Pi (Regan Arts, November 8, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

I'm starting to dive into a brand-new hobby--one that I've wanted to explore for over 10 years--classical portrait painting. I dream of one day painting giant oil portraits of friends and family members, so I'm reading about one of my favorite artists of all time. John Singer Sargent: The Later Portraits by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray is the massive book that's propped up on my chest before I go to bed most nights. But I'm taking breaks from it to read about figure drawing in Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Hmmm, please define child. Child like four or five years old, or child like 10 or 12? There's a big difference, ya know. The book that I stubbornly demanded my mom to read over and over every night was Mortimer by Robert Munsch. In elementary school, we could check out three books each week from our library, and I took this book out every single week for my entire first and second grades. It drove my mom nuts. By the time I could read on my own, my favorite book became What the Witch Left by Ruth Chew--it was a simple story but the author managed to really capture the essence of what "magic" is all about, something I now try to bring into my everyday life.

Your top five authors:

In NO specific order, and I mean that wholeheartedly (but maybe the fact that these names are coming to me in some specific order does, truly, mean something. Whatever, don't overthink it): John Steinbeck, Ruth Chew, Yann Martel, Margaret Atwood, William Faulkner.

Book you've faked reading:

Middlemarch by George Eliot. It was my choice from a reading list in 11th grade. Big, thick, fat, heavy, mistake. I might try it again sometime in the future, now that I can relate to lusting after a stranger with the most perfect facial features while pretending to look at sculpture in an art gallery.

Book you're an evangelist for:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. We had to read this in high school and I loved it. I read it to my mom, aloud, one summer a few years ago. I read it to her in a Southern accent and realized that the book was written in a Southern accent. I don't think I need to discuss why I will praise this story for the rest of my life. It's a cornerstone of American literature.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Elegantissima: The Design and Typography of Louise Fili. I bought it without even looking inside, but its contents proved to be very useful to my current trade as a calligrapher and chalkboard artist.

Book you hid from your parents:

I started working out during my first year of university and, as I do with every new venture I embark on, bought a book as a primer for being introduced to the basics. Strength Training Anatomy by Frédéric Delavier was THE PERFECT book to help me learn proper form for weight lifting--but the cover featured a drawing of a naked man flexing his biceps (with anatomical details of every muscle and bone engaged). I feared my parents would unexpectedly come across this book and assume I had a thing for hot male bodies. Turns out, I do have a thing for hot male bodies.

Book that changed your life:

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I read it after watching the film adaptation of The Hours. I wasn't familiar with the stream-of-consciousness style, so I remember trying to read the first page of Mrs Dalloway about five times--and giving up each time because I just didn't "get it." Then one afternoon, in a moment of pure frustration, I said, "F**K IT!" to myself, "I'm just gonna read this WITHOUT thinking about it," and it worked. It was exactly what one needs to do with that style, I think, just read without trying to pick apart the text or over-analyzing. For me, that book sums up what life is all about.

Favorite line from a book:

Oh, geez. Well, I guess I have to go back to my Southern accent and pull my all-time favorite line from To Kill a Mockingbird. It gets me every time--I have to fight back the tears but I always lose the battle.

"Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad."

It's not a line, it's a paragraph. I know, okay, back off.

Five books you'll never part with:

Well, when I'm dead, I will have to part with my books, so I guess I'm lying if I say I'll "never part with" these books. But for the time being:

My battered copy of Life of Pi.

The River Café Cookbook by Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey (the silver cookbook). This, to me, is the best cookbook in the world. The food is simple and delicious and also very healthy. Perfection.

Maharajas' Jewels by Katherine Prior, another book I bought for the cover--a big coffee-table book that somehow reminds me of my parents' reminiscing of their childhoods in Ceylon. On rainy weekends I'll leaf through that book, just for the old sepia photographs, and be instantly transported to another world--one that doesn't exist anymore.

Ornamental Pen Designs and Flourishes by Carol Belanger Grafton, a thin, almost leaflet-like book by Dover that I've used for my calligraphy. It is invaluable to me and it's one of the books that have helped me put a roof over my head. It was out of print for a while, and I noticed the price of it skyrocketing on the Internet.

At Home with Beatrix Potter by Susan Denyer--another rainy-day book. My mom would read Beatrix Potter's books to me and my sisters. I came across this book as teenager--about her life and home in the Lake District--and it gave me a newfound respect and appreciation for this amazing person who single-handedly saved thousands of acres of rolling hills, and forests that now belong to England's National Trust.

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

East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Book Review

Review: In the Midnight Hour

In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett by Tony Fletcher (Oxford University Press, $27.95 hardcover, 320p., 9780190252946, January 2, 2017)

Wicked, the nickname of the shouting, screaming soul and R&B singer Wilson Pickett, was no mere publicity handle trading on the near rhyme with his name. Pickett deserved it. Growing up the hard way as a descendant of Alabama sharecroppers, he moved north to Detroit at age 15 to live with his father after a youth of truancy, schoolboy fights and Baptist gospel singing. Longtime music journalist and rock biographer Tony Fletcher (All Hopped Up and Ready to Go; Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend) chronicles Pickett's career arc of fame, fortune and a hard fall in his illustrated biography of this quintessential "soul man." In the Midnight Hour is filled with candid musician interviews, recording session sidebars, family reminiscences and the cultural ambience of the times. It is biography at its best: anecdotal, comprehensive, captivating and concise.

With his good looks, strong voice and perfectionist drive, Pickett got his break in the '60s, with Eddie Floyd's the Falcons, which showcased his ability to shout on key and pump up a crowd. When Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records signed Pickett, his career took off. He hit the jackpot with what Fletcher calls "the early trifecta" of "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances" and "Mustang Sally." The latter two illustrate his success with covers, his distinctive vocal delivery ("riotous, raucous, damn-near Pentecostal") turning them into wildly popular, get-up-and-dance funk. Fletcher includes the top R&B artists who influenced Pickett, especially that other "king of soul" James Brown, whom Wexler contrasts with Pickett: "When James Brown used to scream, it was a scream.... When Pickett screamed, it was a musical note."

Through the '60s and into the '70s, Pickett was at the top of his game--scoring multiple Billboard #1 hits, buying Rose Kennedy's Rolls Royce and cruising about in a twin-engine boat named The Wicked Pickett. But by the '80s, his star had dimmed. He picked fights with his bandmates, beat women, did jail time for weapons possession and a DUI, and for the rest of his life abused cocaine and booze. As his first wife, Dovie Hall, described these later years: "for breakfast, he was having a drink.... The drink would lead to drugs, and the drugs would lead to violence." Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, by the mid-2000s Pickett was broken from years of hard living. At his funeral in 2006, the gospel-trained eulogist sang the refrain from "Land of 1000 Dances," after which the crowd of family, fellow musicians and friends joined in with a rowdy chorus of "Na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na"--a fitting tribute to a man who helped put soul music on the map. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In the Midnight Hour is rock journalist and biographer Tony Fletcher's enthralling story of one of soul music's highest-flying and hardest-falling legends.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Say You Want Me by Corinne Michaels
2. Mr. President by Katy Evans
3. Fall into Magic by Various
4. Fling by Jana Aston
5. Dirty Mother (The Uncertain Saints MC Book 5) by Lani Lynn Vale
6. Sins of the Father (Rose Gardner Mystery Novella Volume 4) by Denise Grover Swank
7. Hope Town by Harper Sloan
8. The Last Librarian by Brandt Legg
9. All I Want for Christmas by Various
10. Gabe (7 Brides for 7 Brothers Book 2) by Ruth Cardello

[Many thanks to!]

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