Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 9, 2016

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


Our 2016 Best Books of the Year

We compiled our Best Books of 2016 list surprisingly quickly this year, high-fived, and then... "But what about...?" The "what about" took longer, but no tears were shed and friendships are still intact. See our reviews in today's Shelf Awareness for Readers.

The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine (Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Quercus)
Dodgers by Bill Beverly (Crown)
Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House)
Four Reincarnations: Poems
by Max Ritvo (Milkweed Editions)
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking)
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Random House)
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf)
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (Little, Brown)
The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela (Grove Press)
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley (Simon & Schuster)
Smoke by Dan Vyleta (Doubleday)
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith (Hogarth)

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant by Ronald C. White (Random House)
Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge (Nation Books)
Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some by Chris Edwards (Greenleaf Book Group)
Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster (Metropolitan/Holt)
Boy, Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley (Riverhead Books)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond  (Crown)
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey  (Viking)
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Knopf)
Mincemeat: The Education of an Italian Chef by Leonardo Lucarelli (Other Press)
The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship by Paul Lisicky (Graywolf Press)
The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism by Kristin Dombek (FSG Originals)
The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)
Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown (First Second)
The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond by Christophe Galfard (Flatiron Books)
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Random House)

Don't miss our Best Children's Books of 2016 on December 13!

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Executive Changes at Chronicle Books

Effective January 1, Chronicle Books president Jack Jensen is becoming president of McEvoy Group, which is the owner of Chronicle as well as Galison/Mudpuppy, Princeton Architectural Press and ISeeMe.

Tyrrell Mahoney

At the same time, Tyrrell Mahoney, v-p of sales & marketing of Chronicle Books, will succeed Jensen as president of Chronicle. Since joining the company in 1996, Mahoney has held various positions, including director of trade sales and executive director of sales. She has been v-p of sales & marketing since 2007. In her new position, she will to report to Jensen. 

During his tenure at Chronicle Books, Jensen led the transformation of the company from a regional press into an international publisher and established Chronicle's distribution business, which provides sales and fulfillment services to publishers including Creative Company, Galison/Mudpuppy, Hardie Grant, Laurence King Publishing, Moleskine, Princeton Architectural Press, Quadrille, Sierra Club Calendars and Twirl Books.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Jack personally for over thirty years," said Nion McEvoy, CEO of McEvoy Group. "His contributions to Chronicle Books as well as to the business of publishing are numerous and profound. I am equally excited that Tyrrell Mahoney, who has been directly responsible for our considerable success in sales and marketing for many years, will bring her deep knowledge of the market and our company's culture to her new role. I am pleased that Jack will continue to provide guidance to Tyrrell and to the executives at the other McEvoy Group companies."

Jensen commented: "My forty-year career at Chronicle Books has provided me with an abundance of joy and professional fulfillment. We are most fortunate to have Tyrrell Mahoney, a woman of considerable talent and accomplishment, to take over those reins. I look forward to my expanded role as president of McEvoy Group and to bringing growth and prosperity to all of the group's endeavors."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Peter J. Dougherty Retiring as Princeton U.P. Director

Peter J. Dougherty

Peter J. Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press since 2005, is retiring at the end of 2017.

W. Drake McFeely, president of W.W. Norton and chairman of the Press's board of trustees, commented: "Peter Dougherty had a visionary plan for Princeton University Press when he took the reins as director eleven years ago. He has executed and expanded brilliantly on that plan, furthering the scholarly publishing mission of the Press while broadening its reach internationally. He has transformed its editorial, management, and operational structure, and has still found time to contribute his insights to the larger scholarly publishing community and to continue his own editorial pursuits. The Press has been fortunate in its directors, and Peter ranks with the best of them."

Dougherty said, "It is an honor to have worked with the authors, trustees, and staff of Princeton University Press to enhance our list while also building our international presence by expanding our operation in Europe, opening our new office in China, and moving the Press fully into the digital--and, therefore, global--realm."

Before joining Princeton University Press in 1992 as economics editor, Dougherty worked at the Free Press. He has served as president of the Association of American University Presses and on the board of the American Association of Publishers.

The Press has formed a search committee to find a successor.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

BookCourt's Buildings Sold for $13.6 Million

Henry Zook and Mary Gannett, co-owners of BookCourt, the beloved Brooklyn, N.Y., bookstore that is closing December 31 after 35 years in business, have sold the buildings that house the store for $13.6 million. Eastern Capital, led by Michael Shamah and Eli Hamway, has purchased the property at 161-163 Court Street in the Cobble Hill neighborhood, the Real Deal reported.

The bookstore occupies 4,575 square feet of retail on the ground floor in the two buildings, with four partially occupied apartments on the buildings' upper floors. Shamah said the space will remain retail- and residential-focused.

Peter Von Der Ahe of Marcus & Millichap, which marketed the properties, told the Real Deal that the sale signals the further development of Brooklyn, while noting the "sentimental aspect" of a family-owned business closing: "It was a great business that gave the neighborhood character. Now it's going to be ready for its next evolution."

Publisher Opens Book Kiosk at Pittsburgh Airport

Arcadia Publishing has launched a book kiosk at Pittsburgh International Airport that has the capacity for dozens of titles. The pockets hold four copies each when the machine is fully loaded.

"This impressive machine allows us to sell directly to consumers in a new and innovative way," said Arcadia's owner and CEO Richard Joseph, adding: "After an extensive review of the market, we chose Signifi for our expansion into airports across the country. The Signifi machines are aesthetically well designed, which is critical for our brand. Signifi is passionate about automated retailing, and it is refreshing to work with a team committed to helping their clients succeed."

Titles that will be included in the kiosk include African Americans of Pittsburgh, Kaufmann's: The Big Store in Pittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Pirates, Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh and The Decade.

"The purchasing process should be exciting for our customers," said e-commerce manager Jack Joseph. "Throughout the development of the kiosk, we were focused on making sure the user interface provides a superlative shopping experience." He added that if the project is successful, Arcadia will roll out kiosks in other locations.

The Book Shop, Hayward, Calif., May Be Moving

The Book Shop in Hayward, Calif., may have to move, either within its building--the historic Green Shutter Hotel, which is being renovated and converted to apartments--or elsewhere, according to the East Bay Times.

News that the developer talked with the store last month about possibly relocating to a different part of the hotel "ignited concerns from longtime customers and residents who fear that Red Bridge Partners SF, the San Francisco-based developer renovating the hotel, will displace the longtime business," the newspaper wrote. The store is leasing on a month-by-month basis.

Still, Red Bridge Partners founding partner Jeff Jurow told the newspaper, "I have been very clear with the city in both closed-door sessions, so to speak, with the city manager, economic development department and even some council members that it is our desire to see the bookstore remain as a tenant at the Green Shutter....

"Now, there are of course no guarantees because they need to be able to pay rent... but we're not seeking to even ask them to pay more rent. We're not trying to squeeze them in any way, shape or form, because I would like to preserve them as a tenant."

He added that the relocation proposal was made to address "extensive construction, seismic improvement, plumbing, electrical and basically, major building systems work that needs to be done in the Book Shop space, and it is not feasible to keep them operating during that time."

The store, which sells new, used and rare books, was founded in 1960 and has been in the Green Shutter Hotel since 1992. The store been owned since 2009 by Carl and Marilyn Baker-Madsen and Alison and Sherman Lewis. Renee Rettig is the manager.


Image of the Day: Bruce at BookPeople

More lucky booksellers (and fans) had the chance to meet Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run) last week. In Austin, Tex., BookPeople hosted a meet-and-greet with The Boss; the 1,200 tickets for the event sold out in minutes. Above, Bruce poses with BookPeople staff.

On the Radio: Colo. Booksellers Share Favorite 2016 Titles

Arsen Kashkashian, the head buyer at the Boulder Bookstore, who hosts a monthly bookclub radio show on KGNU in Boulder, Colo., was joined this week by Liesl Freudenstein, children's buyer at the Boulder Bookstore; and Cathy Langer, head buyer at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, for a special holiday edition during which they reviewed top sellers as well as their personal favorite titles for 2016.

The KGNU & Boulder Bookstore Radio Book Club is also available as a podcast on iTunes, featuring interviews with a number of well-known authors, including Geraldine Brooks, Robert Olen Butler, Brad Watson and Simon Van Booy.

LBF Seeks Bookstore of the Year and Other Nominations

December 15 is the deadline for entries to the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards, which LBF runs in association with The U.K. Publishers Association. The awards celebrate publishing success in 16 categories and are given to companies and individuals across the world and across sectors, including the Bookstore of the Year Award, sponsored by Gardners Books.

Companies or individuals can enter the awards via the LBF website. Publishers are also encouraged to nominate companies or individuals who they feel deserve to be recognized for outstanding achievement in publishing this year.

LBF director Jacks Thomas said they "are looking forward to receiving the nominees from all corners of the globe. Each year, the winners and shortlist are always inspiring and diverse; from Readings Australia--the first bookstore of the year--to the educational publisher SuperMemo Poland the awards look across the publishing eco-system and celebrate its innovation and breadth."

Nominations and submissions will be reviewed by panels of U.K. judges with relevant expertise in each category. The LBF International Excellence Awards ceremony will take place on March 14 in London.

GBO Picks Of All That Ends

The German Book Office in New York City has chosen Of All That Ends by Günter Grass, translated by Breon Mitchell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544785380), as its December Pick of the Month.

The GBO described the book this way: "In his final work, Of All That Ends, Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass meditates on death and aging. The text, published posthumously after the author's death in 2015, combines prose, poetry, and occasional black-and-white sketches by the author. With both melancholy and wit, Grass recollects his boyhood and chronicles the moments of his everyday life as he reflects on loss, change and memory. As one may expect, Grass's latest book also addresses current events and politics, including the refugee crisis in Europe. With this major literary achievement, Grass leaves his readers a moving farewell gift."

Günter Grass was born in 1927 to Polish-German parents in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland). He wrote poetry and plays until his novel The Tin Drum (1959) became internationally successful. The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years form the Danzig Trilogy, a cornerstone of European magic realism. In 1999, Grass received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Breon Mitchell is a retired American professor of Germanic Studies at Indiana University and a translator. His translation work includes Grass's The Tin Drum and Kafka's The Trial.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sebastian Bach on Weekend Edition

Meet the Press: Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594). He will also be on Fareed Zakaria GPS.

NPR's Weekend Edition: Sebastian Bach, author of 18 and Life on Skid Row (Dey Street Books, $27.99, 9780062265395).

Movies: Fifty Shades Darker; Alexie's Absolutely True Diary...

Actor Hugh Jackman and Fox 2000 have teamed up to adapt Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian intio a film, with Alexie writing the screenplay, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Jackman will play a supporting role as well as serve in some producing capacity. Temple Hill (The Fault in Our Stars) and Donners' Company (Deadpool) are producing.


In a new trailer for Universal's Fifty Shades Darker, adapted from the bestselling book by E.L. James, "Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan appear to successfully reignite the passion they lost at the end of Fifty Shades of Grey," Variety reported. Directed by James Foley from a script by James's husband, Niall Leonard, the movie's cast includes Hugh Dancy, Eric Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Bella Heathcote, Kim Basinger and Marcia Gay Harden. It hits theaters on February 10, with the the third film, Fifty Shades Freed, arriving February 9, 2018.

Books & Authors

Awards: Parliamentary Books; Reading Women

Politicians Alan Johnson, Margaret Hodge, Melvyn Bragg and John Bew were named winners of the inaugural Parliamentary Book Awards, as voted for by MPs and members of the House of Lords, the Bookseller reported. Launched by the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association, the shortlist was voted for by U.K. bookshops, with parliamentarians voting on the winner in each category.

Johnson won best memoir by a Parliamentarian for The Long Winding Road; Hodge best nonfiction book for Called to Account: How Corporate Bad Behavior and Government Waste Combine to Cost us Millions; Bragg best fiction work for Now is the Time; and Bew best political book by a non-Parliamentarian for Citizen Clem.


Rebecca Traister's All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation and Jung Yun's Shelter won the inaugural Reading Women Awards for nonfiction and fiction respectively. The annual award recognizes outstanding books written by or about women that embody the mission of the Reading Women podcast, which is to bring female voices to a wider audience.

Reading with... Hank Phillippi Ryan

photo: Iden Ford
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston's NBC affiliate and has received 33 Emmy Awards and dozens more honors in journalism. She's the author of nine mysteries, and has also won five Agathas, two Anthonys, two Macavitys, the Daphne and a Mary Higgins Clark Award, and her novels have been on Library Journal's Best of lists for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Her newest novel is Say No More (Forge, November 1, 2016). Ryan is a founder of MWA University and 2013 president of National Sisters in Crime.

On your nightstand now:

Four million notebooks and pencils in case I wake with an idea. Of the scrawls I can actually read the next day, none has been remotely valuable. As for books, my teetering pile now includes an advance copy of Charles Todd's new Inspector Rutledge, Racing with the Devil; The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore; Avid Reader by Robert Gottlieb; Caleb Carr's Surrender, New York; Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin (reading that for the second time); and Now: The Physics of Time by Richard Muller, which I hope, will explain how I will ever have time to read not only all those, but also all the incoming.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It depends on when. My father used to read James Thurber's Many Moons out loud to me, and I can still recite most of it. As an older child, I hid away in the hayloft of the barn behind our house and read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, pretty much all in a row. The Edward Eager books, loved them, Knight's Castle and Half Magic--it was reassuring that magic could happen. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle) and The Diamond in the Window (Jane Langton) when I was about 13. I still think about them.

Your top five authors:

Ever? Yeesh. Shakespeare. Edith Wharton. Tom Wolfe. Thomas Wolfe. Hunter S. Thompson. Stephen King. (Bad in math....)

Book you've faked reading:

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. My high school class was assigned to read it in April of the year we graduated. It was 500 pages and we rebelled. We all got together and divvied up the book, each read part of it and then compared notes. Then we all wrote essays on Sairey Gamp. Sorry, Miss Godfrey. We loved your English class, and Dickens, but we were done with high school.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale. It's gorgeous, magical, thrilling, poetic and all about love and possibilities and connection and I don't even know what else. Every time I open it, I'm transported to the Lake of the Coheeries and a Manhattan where there's a horse that flies.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Susan Elia MacNeal's Mr. Churchill's Secretary. And Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves. I'm very susceptible to covers. It's dangerous.

Book you hid from your parents:

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. And all the James Bond books. My parents wouldn't have cared, really. But it was fun to feel grownup and stealthy. And I learned a lot of new words.

Book that changed your life:

As a kid? Sounds silly, but Black Beauty. I used to read as fast as I could, finish one book and start the next. But when I finished it, I remember thinking--wait. This is about more than a horse. I didn't know what you were supposed to call it then, but I had discovered "theme."

And The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. As a teenager I thought, What? Are you kidding me?

Oh. Stephen King's The Stand. In 1980, for the first time ever, I faked being sick so I could stay home from work and read it. What a story.

Favorite line from a book:

"There is a thing about Time and Space which the philosopher Einstein is going to find out. Some people call it destiny." --The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Five books you'll never part with:

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, battered and dented. A horribly misprinted version of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 which Hunter S. Thompson gave me before the rest of the print run was destroyed. (At least that's what he told me.) My first edition Thurber Carnival. The Stand. My (also battered) Many Moons.

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

I can't say, because I wasn't the same person I was when I read whatever it was, and when whatever it was made the difference it needed to make at the time. Okay, I know: Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country. I bet that would be incredibly and differently relevant now.

Book you think about every day:

Besides my own in progress, of course: T.H. White's Once and Future King. Point of view, right? Being a good teacher. Being a good student. Seeing the world through others' eyes. Peace and justice and honor and compassion and love. I strive to live that way, and it's a good reminder. Plus, Camelot.

Book Review

Review: The River at Night

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (Gallery/Scout Press, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9781501143199, January 10, 2017)

For 15 years, Wini and three friends, Pia, Sandra and Rachel, have gotten together for a week's vacation, time they've spent sharing stories, laughing, drinking and generally enjoying life. But when Pia calls and presses the idea of a camping and river rafting trip with an unlikely guide in the wilds of northern Maine, rather than venturing to some exotic spot to lie in the sun, Wini is less than enthusiastic. The idea of battling whitewater, of fighting off hordes of hungry bugs, of even simply peeing in the woods, is less than appealing, yet Wini is also afraid to say no. "I couldn't tell which was worse, the fear of being left behind by my friends as they dashed away on some überbonding, unforgettable adventure, or the inevitable self-loathing if I stayed behind like some gutless wimp--safe, always safe--half-f*cking-dead with safety. Why couldn't I just say yes to a camping trip with three of my best friends? What was I so afraid of?"

Despite her instincts, Wini says yes to the trip, mustering enthusiasm for an adventure she doesn't feel adequate to face. But like the others, she follows Pia, who is the true leader of the group. Right from the start, though, it's obvious this will not be like other years when the four women have deepened their bonds by sharing tales of love and angst; Pia takes an extra interest in their young, good-looking, virile male guide, instantly separating Wini, Sandra and Rachel from the new twosome.

The River at Night focuses on the five days the women spend on their vacation, and it is a humdinger of a novel. It's a fast-paced race against nature and things that lurk in the woods that no one dreamed could be there, as well as a statement on the importance of friendship, tolerance and acceptance. It moves along as swiftly and tumultuously as the river the four women and their male guide embark on, dropping readers into pitfalls, unseen dangers and bubbling cauldrons of backstory that wash one onshore breathless, yet desiring more. The writing is taut and engaging, not overly melodramatic, and if nitpicky readers can overlook flaws in the minor details (for instance, goldenrod doesn't bloom in June, and wolves are not likely to be heard howling in the Maine woods at night), they are sure to forget the real world for several hours of chilling entertainment. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Shelf Talker: Four friends embark on a whitewater-rafting trip that provides them with far more adventure than they dreamed possible.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Decorating an Indie Bookstore Christmas Tree

I love Christmas trees, but only as a spectator sport. In other words, I love other people's Christmas trees, which are now everywhere--posed fully decorated in house and store windows; strewn undecorated and for sale across parking lots like pop-up forests; or strapped triumphantly to the roofs of passing SUVs.

river's end bookstore's "book tree is trimmed!"

And in bookshops, of course, where you can go traditional like Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, Tex.; or new wave, as the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y., did: "Our book tree is trimmed! And our gift wrappers are standing by (or sitting). We have our holiday catalog full of beautiful gift ideas (books!). And in the days to come we look forward to seeing you in the bookstore!"

Many bookstores have variations on the Northshire's Book Angel Program, featuring a tree decorated with paper angels that customers can buy to make a book donation for a child recommended by area schools and organizations.

This year, I'm trimming a monumental imaginary Christmas tree (Rockefeller Center would be jealous), its decorations handmade from the festive ideas, displays, events and pics that indie bookstores are publicizing nationwide. To find raw materials for these decorations, I went rummaging through boxes in my Internet attic. Here's just a sampling of what I found there (And the season is still young!):

Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.: "O.K., we know the holidays have officially arrived here at the Fairhaven store because--drum roll, please--our book tree is up!! Lovingly crafted by our own talented staffer, Laura, this darling decoration can be admired by all down at our used-book counter. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-lovely!!"

Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt.: "Star Night @ Bridgeside Home! #starbrightstarnight" And: "Our giving tree is filling up beautifully! So many generous donations of amazing books for the Children's Literacy Foundation!"

Downtown Books, Manteo, N.C.: "First Friday! Music--wine--friends--dogs in Christmas sweaters--and Vivian Howard's cheese ball!!"

Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind.: "Three great ways to get in the holiday spirit today at Viewpoint Books: 1) Get 20% off all gifts purchased for Toys for Tots (donation box is here in the store!) plus 20% off one item on your shopping list for kids, too! 2) Advent calendars are still available and it's not too late to start! 3) Help us fill the Pajama Bag!... Thank you for joining us in celebrating the season!"

Let's Play Books, Emmaus, Pa.: "Almost ready to host our first event on the 3rd floor (or the CATtic)! We are looking forward to our Journey to the North Pole at Let's Play Books."

Brazos Bookstore's #bearddecorations

Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.: "Are y'all ready for our holiday open house tonight? We couldn't get merrier if we tried. #maxiumyuletide #beardbaubles #christmasbros #houstonevents #hipsterbeard #bearddecorations #booksellerlife #christmasparty #holidayparty." And: "When The Nutcracker comes on the holiday playlist and you just gotta dance... #bookseller #retaillife #christmasmusic #holidayplaylist #nutcracker #nutcrackerballet."

Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City., Iowa: "Prairie Lights Gift Certificates make people happy. They may be redeemed in the bookstore or the cafe, and they NEVER EXPIRE..."

Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass.: "Today is our annual Holiday Open House, come have a cup of hot chocolate and some holiday treats!"

The Book Shop, Hayward, Calif.: "The Christmas Art Display in our window is presented by the Flying Phoebe Cloth Doll Club! This gingerbread village comes with a scavenger hunt in poetry form. Feel free to stop by and spend a few minutes with the display, then come inside and warm up with a book!"

House of Books, Kent, Conn.: "Santa Claus will be arriving by Fire Truck to House of Books at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 17th! So stop by and get your picture taken with Santa and find the perfect gift for everyone on your Holiday List!"

Little Joe's Books, Katonah, N.Y.: "First Saturday in December means it's time for Holiday books!!!! #getexcited #katonahholiday #westchester #holiday #christmas #Chanukah"

Merry #Grinchmas at Liberty Bay Books

Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash.: "We're getting into the #Christmas spirit now! Merry #Grinchmas from us here in Historic Downtown Poulsbo...."

And here's a little holiday music, courtesy of Bookbug, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.; and Sparta Books, Sparta, N.J.

On Monday, I was in New York City for a few days, and took time out for what has become an annual pilgrimage to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to visit my primary Christmas tree and its 18th-century Neapolitan Baroque Crèche. A few hours later, I was walking down Broadway on the Upper West Side, where every couple of blocks yet another Christmas tree vendor had staked a sidewalk claim. One of them displayed larger trees at the curb, along with a few diminutive trees near the storefront. Above the latter a sign of the times read: "Gluten-free Christmas trees." In with the old, in with the new.

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

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