Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 11, 2017: Dedicated Issue: Ready-to-Read

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Quotation of the Day

'In Dark Times, Bookstores Offer Hope'

"People are predicting that free speech will take it on the chin in 2017.... It is because booksellers are strongly committed to tolerance and free speech that I believe that we can help moderate the tensions in our society.... There is no better medium for encouraging the free trade in ideas than books. They allow us to move beyond the heated emotion and inflamed rhetoric of campaigns to think hard about our problems. They provide common ground for debating the issues.

"In dark times, bookstores offer hope."

--Chris Finan, director of the American Booksellers for Free Expression, in Bookselling This Week  

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton


NAIBA Renames Sales Rep Award in Honor of Kristin Keith

Kristin Keith

In honor of Kristin Keith, the beloved Norton rep who died on January 4, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is renaming the William Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year Award the Kristin Keith Sales Rep of the Year Award. The first Kristin Keith Sales Rep of the Year Award will be presented on October 7 during the NAIBA fall conference in Cherry Hill, N.J.

NAIBA created the award, originally named after William Helmuth of Book Travelers, in 1987 to recognize the sales rep "who is the sort of person who does their homework all the time, is patient and tolerant of customers and colleagues, who makes mistakes from enthusiasm, then owns up to them."

Keith, a former NAIBA board member, won the Helmuth Award in 2013 for "her dedication and enthusiasm for the book industry and book people." NAIBA said that by renaming the award, it "wants to immortalize her dedication, enthusiasm and heart to a new generation of book people."

City of Asylum Bookstore @ Alphabet City to Open

City of Asylum prepares to open this weekend.

Pittsburgh's nonprofit City of Asylum, which has offered refuge to writers in exile for a dozen years, is opening its new bookstore this Saturday at 40 West North Ave., where "visitors to the North Side will be able to browse a carefully curated selection of 8,000 volumes by authors from all over the world in a renovated Masonic hall now called Alphabet City," the Post-Gazette reported.

The building's first floor has a state-of-the-art broadcast studio next to the bookstore, and the remainder of the 9,000-square-foot space will house a wine and cheese restaurant, Casellula @ Alphabet City, which is expected to open January 28.

The store's manager is Lesley Rains, who opened the East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield in 2012, then sold the business last June. Shortly thereafter, Henry Reese and Diane Samuels, founders City of Asylum in 2004, contacted her about the new venture.

"It was a lot of fun to put this collection together," Rains said of City of Asylum's inventory. Jen Kraar, a middle school librarian, chose the children's books.

Gallup: 'Most Americans Are Still Reading Books'

"During the past year, about how many books did you read/listen to, either all or part of the way through?"

According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans "are consuming books at nearly the same rate that they were when Gallup last asked this question in 2002--before smartphones, Facebook or Twitter became ubiquitous. More than one in three (35%) appear to be heavy readers, reading 11 or more books in the past year, while close to half (48%) read between one and 10 and just 16% read none."

Although the number of respondents who said they read no books in the past year was double the first time Gallup asked this question in 1978 (from 8% then to 16% now), the figure has been fairly steady near the current level since 1990.

The results are based "on an open-ended question that asked half of Americans to recall the number of books they read all or part of the way through in the past year--the trend wording--and the other half to recall the number of books they read or listened to all or part of the way through. Given that there was no meaningful difference in the answers, the results to the two versions were combined," Gallup reported.

In other notable findings, 91% of adults aged 18-29 read at least one book in the past year, compared to 85% of adults aged 65 and older. Nearly 40% in both age groups read more than 10 books. Baby boomers are having an impact on the 65 and older category, where the percentage who reported reading one or more books increased from 68% (in 2002) to 85%. Among respondents who read at least one book last year, 73% said they most often read printed books, 19% electronic books and 6% audiobooks.

Gallup concluded that "despite Americans' ability to access more information, social networks, games and media than ever before, as well as the lingering rumors of the book's demise, Americans still say they are reading books.... This suggests that book reading is a classic tradition that has remained a constant in a faster-paced world, especially in comparison to the slump of other printed media such as newspapers and magazines."

Vt.'s Wider Than the Sky Closing

Wider Than the Sky, the children's books and pastimes store in Newport, Vt., will close for good this week, the Daily Express reported; according to owner Diane Jameson, "her last regular business day was Saturday, but she plans to be at the store part-time until the end of the week. She said sales are down, and she is ready to retire."

Obituary Notes: Arthur H. Cash; Michel Déon

Arthur H. Cash, who wrote "a definitive two-volume biography of the English novelist Laurence Sterne and became a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2007 for his biography of the 18th-century English radical John Wilkes," died December 29, the New York Times reported. He was 94. The first volume of his magnum opus, Laurence Sterne: The Early and Middle Years, was published in 1975, and the second volume, Laurence Sterne: The Later Years, in 1986. Historical novelist Max Byrd wrote in the Times that Cash's biography "now takes its place as the standard scholarly life."

Sterne "led Mr. Cash to his next great subject, the political renegade and moral reprobate John Wilkes, a friend of Sterne and therefore of Mr. Cash," the Times wrote, noting that John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty "did justice to Wilkes both as a fiery proponent of individual rights and as a wild man, a libertine par excellence in an age with no shortage of memorable rakes." The book was one of three finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer in biography.


French author Michel Déon, a member of the Académie Française "whose dozens of novels offered a witty, panoramic view of French society and history," died December 28, the New York Times reported. He was 97. Déon was best known in the English-speaking world for his novels Where Are You Dying Tonight? (Un Déjeuner de Soleil), which became his first work translated into English in 1989; and The Foundling Boy (Le Jeune Homme Vert), published in 1975 with an English translation appearing in 2013.

"To French readers, Mr. Déon was a complicated and contrarian figure: a political reactionary whose work evolved from experimentalism to more traditional forms, and an enthusiastic champion of young renegade writers," the Times noted.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Browseabout Books

From Alex Colevas, buyer and event coordinator at Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.: "One of our very talented employees just did this new chalkboard yesterday.... She always does a great job, but I found this design to be particularly lovely."

Cape Cod Is 'A Place for Bookworms'

On Cape Cod, "there are at least 18 small business bookstores, not including those found on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. That's a pretty impressive sprawl of stores for a relatively small piece of suburbia," reported in featuring "a list of almost all of them."

There is a seasonal nature to the area's economy, with summer drawing "such a copious and diverse wave of people that bookstores tend to make enough money to get them through the year," according to Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross, who added that "this isn't to say that these shops don't get any business in the winter."

"It also helps that Cape Cod's population tends to have a higher level of education," noted. "As Northcross put it, 'many people retire here smart,' and therefore have the means to buy books from the more expensive boutique book stores."

Personnel Changes at Counterpoint and Soft Skull; OptiQly

Megan Fishmann has been promoted to associate publisher for Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press and continues as director of publicity. She will work alongside Jennifer Abel Kovtiz, associate publisher and director of marketing for Catapult, Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press.


Susan Ruszala has joined OptiQly as v-p of sales. She has nearly 15 years of experience in technology and media, most recently as president of Netgalley.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joe Buck on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Joe Buck, author of Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I'm Not Allowed to Say on TV (Dutton, $28, 9781101984567).


Ellen: Laurie Hernandez, author of I Got This: To Gold and Beyond (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062677310).

BBC America: Frank Sesno, author of Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change (AMACOM Books, $25, 9780814436714).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Bryan Cranston, author of A Life in Parts (Scribner, $27, 9781476793856).

Comedy Central's At Midnight: Jamie Lee, author of Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride (HarperOne, $22.99, 9780062455604).

Movies: Wait Till Helen Comes

Wait Till Helen Comes, based on the novel by Mary Downing-Hahn, premiered yesterday at various on-demand venues, including iTunes, Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox and Vimeo on Demand. Directed by Dominic James from a screenplay by Victoria Sanchez Mandryk, the film stars Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief), Callum Keith Rennie (Fifty Shades of Grey), Isabelle Nélisse (Mama) and Maria Bello (Prisoners, A History of Violence).

Wait Till Helen Comes is the first feature film by YA novelist Downing-Hahn, who also makes a guest appearance in the movie. Initially published in 1986--and never out of print--the novel appears on numerous U.S. schools recommended reading lists.

Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Finalists; Pacific Northwest Winners

The three finalists for the Story Prize, which honors the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction published in the U.S. in 2016, are:

For a Little While by Rick Bass (Little, Brown)
Goodnight, Beautiful Women by Anna Noyes (Grove Press)
They Were Like Family to Me by Helen Maryles Shankman (Scribner)

Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey and director Larry Dark chose the finalists. The winner will be selected by a jury of three: Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; Harold Augenbraum, National Book Awards executive director; and author Sarah Shun-lien Bynum.

On March 4 at the New School in New York City, the three finalists will read from and discuss their work on-stage with Dark. At the end of the event, Lindsey will announce the winner and present that author with $20,000 along with an engraved silver bowl. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.


The winners of the 2017 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, are:

  • Barkskins by Annie Proulx (Scribner)
  • Bitch Planet, Book One: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Image Comics)
  • Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor (Simon & Schuster)
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (Hachette Books)
  • Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)
  • To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (Little, Brown)

Reading with... Joshua Mohr

photo: Shelby Brakken

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which the New York Times called "Beat-poet cool." He's also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine's Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, as well as Termite Parade, an Editors' Choice in the New York Times. His novel All This Life recently won the Northern California Book Award. He is the executive editor at Decant Editorial and his first book of nonfiction, a memoir called Sirens, was just published by Two Dollar Radio.

On your nightstand now:

James Baldwin's Another Country--this is my favorite novel and I reread it every year or so. It's beautiful and harrowing, my favorite emotional cocktail on the page. The novel is one of the best-kept book secrets, and let's mess that up: let's tell everyone!

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book I ever read wasn't until I was 17, and it was Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. What an intro into the amazing and vibrant world of literature! I had always detested books. They were boring. But ol' Vonnegut showed me what can happen if authors let their imaginations loose to do their worst.

Your top five authors:

I don't have favorite authors; I have favorite books. Here's a list of titles that have made an impact on me as a writer: E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel, Amy Hempel's Reasons to Live, Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai, Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, Susan Steinberg's Spectacle.

Books you've faked reading:

Everything by Henry James. I just don't get it. I feel the way about James like I do about Dave Grohl. These are probably nice guys, but man, I just don't dig their art. Is there anything worse than the Foo Fighters?

Book you're an evangelist for:

I try to turn as many people onto Baldwin's Another Country as I can. The scenes are so evocative, the stakes so high, that even though I know the novel so well now he can still make me cry. Baldwin makes durable art, and every time I reread, I learn something new. And isn't that the true test of beauty? How it doesn't denigrate or diminish the more we interact with it? How it continues to cascade meaning and truth?

Book you've bought for the cover:

I've never done that. But I have been on the other side. My second novel, Termite Parade, magnificently tanked, and the working theory is that everyone hated the cover. So just on principle, I'll never either buy or dismiss a book based on the cover art.

Book you hid from your parents:

Like I said, I came to reading so late that I never had to hide reading. I hid drugs, lots of drugs. And maybe I would've hid my drugs in books.

Book that changed your life:

Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse because I'd never seen psychology so nimbly structured on the page. It's an absolute clinic on constructing a consciousness that's not your own. If you consider yourself a card-carrying nerd--like me!--then you have to know about this book.

Favorite line from a book:

From The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven by Rick Moody: "None of us seemed to know the nature of the coincidences that bound us together, as I know now, or that junkies and masochists and hookers and those who have squandered everything are the ring of brightest angels around heaven."

Five books you'll never part with:

I love lending out books that I know will never come back to me. I want my books out in the world, being passed around, dog-eared, with wine and coffee stains. But certain books that have been written and signed by friends I'll always hold close. Rob Roberge's Liar, Jonny Evison's West of Here, Steve Elliott's The Adderall Diaries, Jim Ruland's Forest of Fortune, Pat deWitt's The Sisters Brothers. Those are some of my favorite scumbags!

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

I'd love to experience Denis Johnson's Angels again for the first time. That one just sucked up my soul and spit it on the floor, left me cowering in the best way.

Your advice for aspiring writers:

It's all about the imagination. No one else on earth has an imagination quite like yours, which makes it the ultimate asset on the page. Write the book that only you can write!

Book Review

Children's Review: Thunder Underground

Thunder Underground by Jane Yolen, illus. by Josée Masse (Wordsong/Highlights, $17.95 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-10, 9781590789360, March 28, 2017)

Anyone who has ever marveled at the intricate tunnels of an ant farm or dreamed of archeological adventure will revel in this wondrous, thunderous picture book of 21 poems by Jane Yolen (Owl Moon; the How Do Dinosaurs series; Birds of a Feather; Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems). Thunder Underground mines the Earth for its riches, from tree roots to rabbit warrens, subways to lost cities.

There's a whole world underneath our feet, and in the wonder of that discovery lies the magma-hot core of this fine collection of illustrated poems. Here, a curious young black girl with a treasure map and her shovel-toting friend, a white boy, put their ears to the ground, rummage in the basement, examine mole holes, dig for pirate gold and crawl through caves--all in happy pursuit of what is "under." (The first poem, "Under," examines the root word in "underground" and "understand.") In the illustration accompanying the rhythmic and beautiful "Seeds," the girl touches a plant that readers see from the side, complete with the underground view of its original root-branching seed: "This dot,/ this spot,/ this period at the end/ of winter's sentence/ writes its way up/ through the dull slate of soil/ into the paragraph of spring." Yolen's words flow like an underground river and beg to be read aloud.

"Scientific and personal" notes in the back give context to selected poems and contain gems: corn roots emit sounds that can be recorded, moles keep larders of earthworms for snacking purposes and "spelunking" is "potholing" in Great Britain. Josée Masse (the Montreal illustrator of Marilyn Singer's Mirror Mirror and Echo Echo) artfully reflects the grand scope of Earth from the inside out, while zeroing in on kid-friendly details. Her clean, colorful mixed-media compositions--most including the two intrepid explorers and a tag-along rabbit--abound with fun discoveries: baby foxes in an underground den, fossilized animal skeletons, magma pools, a pirate ship, stalactites. The title poem "Thunder Underground" is specifically about "the sound/ beetles make/ when/ walking/ 'round" but in a larger sense it echoes the power of the rumbling, ever-changing Earth beneath ground level, so wonderfully captured in this eye-opening, ear-opening picture book. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Jane Yolen and Josée Masse delve beneath the surface of the Earth in this delightful picture book of 21 poems examining ants, moles, subways, forgotten cities, magma and more.

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