Also published on this date: Thursday, January 19, 2017: Maximum Shelf: Ginny Moon

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Bookstore Opens in Provincetown, Mass.

East End Books Ptown, Provincetown, Mass., a bookstore that sells print books, e-books, vinyl albums and "really cool magazines," has opened and held its grand opening celebration New Year's weekend. Events included readings by Paul Lisicky, Annie Weatherwax, Robert Winter and Frank Muzzy.

The 900-square-foot store has a deck and additional outside space facing the sea, serves coffee, and stocks about 6,000 titles, with more planned. The store has a membership program that offers a 10% discount on purchases, and it's developing an IndieCommerce website. East End Books Ptown plans to have readings, book signings, special author events and receptions throughout the year.

Owner Jeff G. Peters said he was thrilled with the reception the store has received. "People turned out all weekend for our grand opening, welcoming us to the neighborhood and showing their love and support for indie bookstores," he said. "I'm gratified that people seem to love the curated book selection that I've put together. It brings me great joy to have an avenue to express my love of books and have conversations with true bibliophiles."

Peters has worked in bookstores and been an arts & literary editor for various publications. He's also president of Anhinga Press, a poetry publisher, and The LGBTQ Literary Preserve. He produces documentaries (his latest, Run Across Cuba, is screening at film festivals this year) and has co-owned boutique wine and craft beer bars.

East End Books Ptown is located at 389 Commercial St., Unit 1, Provincetown, Mass. 02657; 508-413-9059.

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New Owners for Maine's Owl & Turtle Bookshop and Cafe

Maggie and Craig White at Owl & Turtle Bookshop

Late last year, Maggie and Craig White bought the Owl & Turtle Bookshop and Café, Camden, Maine, and are settling in. "The business has such a strong identity in the community and people are so supportive," Maggie told the Camden Herald.

The newspaper described Maggie as "a professional writer and life-long bookworm, with a bachelor's in English from Colby College, and a master's degree in communication." Craig is an engineer and entrepreneur who most recently owned a property management company.

The Whites aim to continue many of the beloved bookstore's traditions, particularly signings and readings, including some by locals authors Tess Gerritsen and Chris Van Dusen, among others. At the same time, they are making some changes. They'll "finely tune" the store's inventory; make a larger, more comfortable children's area for readings and story time; and rearrange café seating, including possibly adding café seating upstairs. In February, they will launch an updated website.

Founded 47 years ago by Rebecca and Bill Conrad, the store has had several sets of owners. The café was added in 2014. To prepare to run the café, the Herald said, Craig took a barista class and Maggie "tapped her background in the culinary world, most recently as editor of The Local Palate magazine."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Hearthside Books in West Virginia Closing

Hearthside Books, Bluefield, W.Va., is closing on February 18, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported.

Owners Anne Hess and Wilma Bury blamed the Internet, e-books and a decline in downtown business. "The economics from all this has impacted it," Hess said. "We've been doing this about two years longer than we should have."

Founded in 1993, Hearthside Books has sold mostly new and some used titles.

Hess and Bury said they will miss customers, particularly the ones they've known for years. "We helped pick out books for a customer's first grandchild," Hess said. "Now, that grandchild is a junior in college."

France Celebrates Books with First 'La Nuit de la Lecture'

More than 250,000 people participated in last Saturday's inaugural La Nuit de la Lecture (Night of Reading), which featured nearly 1,500 events in libraries and bookshops across France, Le Figaro reported.

Prior to the festivities, the Connexion offered a preview, noting that "16,000 libraries the length and breadth of the country" had organized "readings, treasure hunts, workshops, lectures, and debates as well as meetings with authors and illustrators to mark the event."

Culture minister Audrey Azoulay said that La Nuit de la Lecture was intended to celebrate "the beauty and diversity of literature and its audience, with its workshops, its courses and its many activities." She added that it was also a poignant reminder of the importance of literature and culture, and had been symbolically scheduled close to the second anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Booksellers Recommend: Winter & Spring Fiction

As the new season begins, Shelf Awareness has reached out to booksellers around the country to hear their picks for exciting books coming this winter and spring. Today's list, fiction, features 11 titles chosen by booksellers and reveals an extraordinarily packed start to the year for book lovers. Lists of nonfiction, young adult and middle grade, and children's and early readers will follow over the next few days.

Kicking off today's list is Universal Harvester, the second novel from author and musician John Darnielle (Wolf in White Van). Out February 7 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Universal Harvester is about a man named Jeremy who works at a video rental store in a rural Iowa town in the late 1990s. Customers begin to complain that the videos they rent have bizarre things taped over them, and when Jeremy takes a look at these tapes, he finds brief, dark and sometimes violent bits of home video recorded over the original film. He also notices that the bizarre recordings were apparently shot just outside of town. As Jeremy tries to trace these recordings back to their source, the town he thought he knew becomes an increasingly unfamiliar and sinister place. Lauren Peugh, the events manager at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., said Universal Harvester was "classic Darnielle. It's unsettling, strange, and absorbing--sure to have a cult following!"

Ancient myths, Norse and otherwise, have long inspired some of Neil Gaiman's greatest work, and on February 7 he returns to the wellspring with Norse Mythology (Norton), a novelistic retelling of the foundational Norse myths and the struggles of Odin, Thor and Loki. Written in clear, compelling prose, Norse Mythology begins at the mythic creation of the world and concludes with Ragnarok, the apocalyptic war between the gods. Booksellers from WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., and Stephanie Coleman, associate frontlist buyer at the Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., recommended Norse Mythology.

Set in a fantastical version of the Roaring Twenties, Amberlough is the debut novel from Lara Elena Donnelly. It is the story of Cyril DePaul, a covert double agent, and Aristide Makricosta, a smuggler and DePaul's lover. After one of DePaul's secret operations goes terribly wrong, the couple's lives are more at risk than ever. As they turn to Cordelia Lehane, a cabaret dancer and herself involved in espionage, the government of Amberlough City is upended by a fascist coup. Emily Bergslien, bookseller at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis, Minn., likened Amberlough to a cross between John le Carre's classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Ellen Kushner's fantasy novel Swordspoint, calling it a "fantasy thriller full of queer characters, elegant prose, moral ambiguity and spycraft." Look for it from Tor Books on February 7.

Over the past 20 years, George Saunders has won a laundry list of awards for his short stories, including the Story Prize, the PEN/Malamud Award and the Folio Prize, and has received a MacArthur Fellowship. On February 14, Random House will publish Lincoln in the Bardo, the first novel in Saunders's long career. The book begins in February of 1862, less than a year into the Civil War, as Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie dies of a sudden illness. While President Lincoln visits the boy's tomb several times to cradle his body and grieve, Willie finds himself stuck in the bardo, the Tibetan name for a transitional, purgatory-like state that exists between lives. There Willie meets a host of other lost souls, and soon a struggle begins that threatens to claim his soul. Recommended by Sarah Brown, buyer and used book manager at Changing Hands.

Arriving in stores on February 21 is A Piece of the World, the sixth novel from Christina Baker Kline. Inspired by Andrew Wyeth's 1948 painting Christina's World, which depicts Wyeth's neighbor Christina Olson lying in a field on her family's farm in Maine, A Piece of the World blends fact with fiction in telling the story of Christina and her decades-long bond with Wyeth. Crippled by illness, Christina is hardly able to leave the farm on which she was born. Instead of succumbing to despair and isolation, she befriends Wyeth and becomes the subject of an enigmatic masterwork. "A beautifully written story based in early-to-mid 20th-century Maine," said Louise Sansom, bookseller and master of merchandising at the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio. "It seamlessly blends fiction and nonfiction. A true pleasure to read." A Piece of the World will be published by Morrow, and Christina Baker Kline will be at Winter Institute.

Exit West is Mohsin Hamid's first novel since 2013's How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. It tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, who fall in love as their unnamed country careens toward civil war. When violence finally erupts in their city and the situation becomes increasingly desperate, Saeed and Nadia decide that they have no other choice than to leave everything they know behind and seek refuge in a new country. Exit West was the most-recommended title on this list. "You can't read this and then watch the news on TV without wishing for the 'magical doors' that might open for all human beings under siege," said Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore. "Brilliant writing and a very timely and important book." Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y., said Exit West "could be the literary event of the spring." The book will be out from Riverhead Books on March 7.

Andrea Bern, the protagonist of Jami Attenberg's new novel, All Grown Up, is single and child-free at 39 years old. She seems to watch from the sidelines as the people around her, including her best friend, her brother and her sister-in-law, reach life's milestones while she has no idea what she's doing. After her brother and sister-in-law's baby is born with a congenital illness, Andrea's perception of life starts to radically change. "Jami Attenberg's work has long been a favorite of mine," said Suzanna Hermans, "and her newest hits me right in the heart. Her narrator's voice is incredibly authentic, at times painfully so, and the structure of connected stories serves to further the theme of a life in pieces. I loved this book!" All Grown Up is coming March 7 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

One of the Boys, a slim, tightly written novel set in the suburbs of New Mexico, marks the fiction debut of Daniel Magariel. It is the story of two brothers, one 12 years old and the other slightly older, who move with their father to Albuquerque after he wins a bitter custody battle. While the boys eagerly start their new lives, their father's behavior becomes increasingly suspicious and ultimately dangerous, until their life at home becomes a fight for survival. Sherri Gallentine, head book buyer at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., said that One of the Boys "kind of hit me in the gut, this one. It really blew me away." And Joel Magruder, bookseller at Changing Hands, said that the novel reads fast and "packs a mean, mean punch." Scribner publishes the book March 14.

Elif Batuman's The Idiot opens in 1995 when Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, starts her freshman year at Harvard. She makes friends with a worldly, charismatic classmate from Serbia named Svetlana and begins a correspondence with Ivan, an older Hungarian student. Though their relationship exists almost exclusively through e-mail, Selin and Ivan form a connection, and after the academic year ends, Selin travels to Hungary to teach English in a rural community. While in Europe, Selin spends two weeks in Paris with Svetlana, and throughout her journey she confronts the uncertainty of adulthood and the growing realization that she is meant to be a writer. Likened to James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Idiot was recommended by Sherri Gallentine of Vroman's Bookstore and Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD. Look for it March 14 from Penguin Press.

In her second novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (Dial Press), Hannah Tinti tells the story of Samuel and his daughter, Loo. For the first 12 years of her life, Loo has lived an itinerant existence, traveling from motel to motel while her father tries to outrun his criminal past. Samuel eventually decides that Loo needs a normal life, and the pair settle in Olympus, Mass., where Loo's deceased mother grew up. Samuel finds work as a fisherman and Loo attempts to live the life of a normal high schooler, but Loo wonders more and more about what happened to her mother and the mystery behind the scars--a dozen bullet holes--that cover Samuel's body. Soon she starts to unravel a family history that is deeper and darker than she ever could have guessed. Mark Laframboise, buyer at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., called Loo "one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction. For me, she steals the novel." Available March 28.

Rounding out today's list is Marlena, Julie Buntin's debut novel. At the age of 15, Cat moves to a rural town in Michigan. She feels lonely and isolated until she meets Marlena, whose manic energy and beauty immediately draw her in. Cat's next year is a whirlwind as they tear through their small town. But Marlena's nascent drug use becomes a dangerous addiction and she is found dead. As an adult, Cat can still vividly recall her friendship with Marlena, and she must struggle to come to terms with her friend's death and her role in it. Lauren Peugh of Changing Hands said that Marlena was an "exquisite, assured debut," and the quick-reading novel reminded her of the work of Megan Abbott. It'll be in stores on April 4 from Holt. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Terry Wybel

Terry Wybel, founder and head of the Wybel Marketing Group and president of Continental Sales, Inc., died on January 13 of a heart attack.

Widely respected in the industry, Wybel founded his eponymous sales group, which focuses on the Midwest and has headquarters in Barrington, Ill., more than 40 years ago. In 2001, he founded Continental Sales, a national sales company made up of regional rep groups, including Faherty & Associates, Melman-Moster and Southern Territory Associates.


Image of the Day: One Big Day in January

Last Sunday, Fox news anchor Bret Baier appeared at Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, Fla., for his new book, Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission (HarperCollins). More than 450 people attended.


2017 Independent Bookstore Day Catalogue Available

Items from the 2017 Independent Bookstore Day catalogue are now available to order. This year's offerings are a mix of weird, cute and always bookish items, from literary condoms (available in "Great Expectations" and "Give Me That Darcy" varieties) to exclusive signed prints and books. The Sandmeyer Reaction, part of the $6 Story series, is a short story cut from Michael Chabon's latest novel, Moonglow. A Literary Cocktail Party: Favorite Drinks from Our Favorite Writers serves boozy anecdotes and recipes from authors such as Daniel Handler and James Patterson, and the Author's Best Friend Canine Canvas Pouch shows portraits of real author dogs like Sparky Patchett and Jennie Sendak.

Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 29, with a February 1 deadline for catalogue orders. Eligible stores (members of a regional independent booksellers association with a bricks-and-mortar location) must order a minimum of 15 items, which will be shipped through Ingram by April 15. The full catalogue is available here.

Cool Idea of the Day: Mavis the Magical Book Mobile

BookBar, Denver, Colo., has bought Mavis the Magical Book Mobile from employee Anna Kongs and will use it to continue Kongs's mission of donating books to those in need. Bookbar will also use Mavis for on- and offsite BookBar events, school visits, mobile book signings and more.

In 2015, Kongs converted the 1994 ambulance into a bookmobile, and last year she began working at BookBar, too, where owner Nicole Sullivan had been considering starting a bookmobile. As Kongs continued her graduate studies in library science, she realized she couldn't continue her bookmobile nonprofit. Late last year, Sullivan bought Mavis and promoted Kongs to bookmobile manager. The two are working on a business plan and upgrading the vehicle for a spring rollout.

BINC Accepting Applications for Scholarship Program

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation is accepting applications for its 2017 Higher Education Scholarship Program from now until March 6. BINC will award $109,000 in scholarships to current bookstore employees/owners, independent booksellers association employees, former Borders Group  employees, and dependents of any of the above. 24 applicants will receive $3,500, two will receive $10,000, and one will be awarded the Karl Pohrt Tribute Scholarship for $5,000, given to a candidate who has "overcome learning adversity or is a non-traditional student." Since 2001, BINC's scholarship program has awarded $1.8 million to 650 recipients.

"When the Foundation can provide financial support to create an opportunity for a bookseller to pursue their dreams, it aligns with our mission to strengthen the entire bookselling community," said Pam French, BINC executive director. "Helping to reduce the financial burden of college or trade school tuition for booksellers and their families is a primary goal of the BINC Higher Education Scholarship Program."

Detailed eligibility requirements, selection criteria and information on how to apply are available here.

Personnel Changes at Doubleday

In the Doubleday publicity department:

Michael Goldsmith has been promoted to assistant director of publicity.

Mark Lee has been promoted to associate publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alan Burdick on All Things Considered

NPR's All Things Considered: Alan Burdick, author of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781416540274).

Movies: Before I Fall; The Darkest Minds

A new trailer has been released for Before I Fall in advance of the Sundance Film Festival, where the adaptation of Lauren Oliver's novel makes its world premiere January 21. Directed by Ry Russo-Young from a screenplay by Maria Maggenti, the movie stars Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Cynthy Wu, Medalion Rahimi, Diego Boneta and Jennifer Beals. It hits theaters March 3.


Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats) will star opposite Amandla Stenberg in Fox's adaptation of Alexandra Bracken's YA novel series The Darkest Minds, Deadline reported. Jennifer Yuh Nelson is directing the adaptation from a script by Chad Hodge, who also co-created and executive produces TNT's Good Behavior.

This Weekend on Book TV: Omar Saif Ghobash on Letters to a Young Muslim

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, January 21
5:15 p.m. Michael J. Klarman, author of The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford University Press, $39.95, 9780199942039). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

7:15 p.m. Robert Kanigel, author of Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs (Knopf, $35, 9780307961907). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

9 p.m. Omar Saif Ghobash, author of Letters to a Young Muslim (Picador, $22, 9781250119841), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

10 p.m. Bret Baier, co-author of Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062569035). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 22
8 p.m. Peter Cozzens, author of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (Knopf, $35, 9780307958044), at Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago, Ill. (Re-airs Monday at 6:45 a.m.)

10 p.m. Michael Anthony, author of Civilianized: A Young Veteran's Memoir (Pulp/Zest Books, $16.99, 9781936976881), at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN America Lit; Aussie Indie Book; Stanford Doleman

Finalists have been announced for the 2017 PEN America Literary Awards, which showcase 50 works and this year feature four new prizes. Nearly $315,000 will be awarded altogether to writers and translators, spanning the fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, translation and more. View the complete shortlists here.

Winners will be named February 22, with the exception of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. These will be announced March 27 during a ceremony at the New School in Manhattan. 


The shortlist of the Australian Indie Book Awards, chosen by independent bookstores, has been announced in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, debut fiction, children's and young adult and can be seen here. Winners will be unveiled March 20.


A shortlist has been announced for the £5,000 (about $6,140) Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year, in association with the Authors' Club, the Bookseller reported. In addition to the cash prize, the winner receives an antique globe, to be presented at the awards ceremony February 2. The shortlisted titles are:

Hitchhiking Through the State of a Nation by Julian Sayarer
Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul Theroux
Station to Station by James Attlee
The Hills of Wales by Jim Perrin
Squirrel Pie (and Other Stories): Adventures in Food Across the Globe by Elisabeth Luard
White Sands By Geoff Dyer

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 24:

The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney (Ballantine, $27, 9780425285046) is a psychological thriller about consecutive residents of a mysterious apartment.

Fatal: A Novel by John Lescroart (Atria, $26.99, 9781501115677) follows the grave consequences of an affair.

The Fifth Petal: A Novel by Brunonia Barry (Crown, $27, 9781101905609) is a murder mystery set in the Salem, Mass., of The Lace Reader.

No Man's Land: A Novel by Simon Tolkien (Nan A. Talese, $27.95, 9780385541978) is a coming-of-age story set in Britain before and during World War I.

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli, translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (Riverhead, $26, 9780735213920) explores the cutting edge of theoretical physics.

Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781416540274) tracks the subjective nature of time.

Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World by Robert D. Kaplan (Random House, $27, 9780399588211) uses geography to explain the country's past and present.

Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Dr. Ronald Epstein (Scribner, $26, 9781501121715) applies mindfulness practices to medical professions.

The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (McElderry, $18.99, 9781481442909) is a teen novel in verse and prose examining life lived with a lie.

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780060277093) is a picture-book biography about the renowned abolitionist.

World, Chase Me Down: A Novel by Andrew Hilleman (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143111474).

The Acid Watcher Diet: A 28-Day Reflux Prevention and Healing Program by Jonathan Aviv (Harmony, $18, 9781101905586).

A Dog's Purpose, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, opens January 27. A dog (voiced by Josh Gad) tries to discover the meaning of life over several incarnations and owners (including Dennis Quaid). A tie-in version (Forge, $14.99, 9780765388117) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Leopard at the Door: A Novel by Jennifer McVeigh (Putnam, $26, 9780399158254). "Leopard at the Door is a beautifully layered coming-of-age novel set in a Kenya still under the yoke of colonial British rule. Rachel, whose beloved mother died when she was 12, returns to the country she loves after six years in England. She struggles against the expectations of her father and his new partner, Susan, whom Rachel has a difficult time accepting. Fine writing weaves Rachel's story with the essence of Kenya, the treatment of its people, and the uprising of the Mau Mau who seek independence. This is a thrillingly taut novel--with a clever title, too!"--Biddy Kehoe, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, Del.

Freebird: A Novel by Jon Raymond (Graywolf Press, $26, 9781555977603). "This multigenerational story is a road-trip novel, an ecological disaster drama, and a harrowing post-Iraq War PTSD portrait all rolled into one highly readable, gorgeously written book. Raymond tells this story peering over the shoulders of three strong characters, each of whom have to reconcile feelings of love--both romantic and familial--with the brutal realities of life during wartime. Despite its dark turns, Freebird is a book filled with hope for its characters as well as love for the real world it ably attempts to recreate and offer respite from." --John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

After the Crash: A Novel by Michel Bussi (Hachette, $15, 9780316309691). "This old-fashioned crime novel by a French geography professor considers the miraculous survival of a three-month-old infant girl in an airplane crash in the Jura Mountains in which all perished--including a second three-month-old baby. An 18-year struggle is unleashed between two rival sets of grandparents on opposite ends of the economic scale, one of which is accorded custody of the child. Does she really belong to that family? Is her brother really her brother? As the age of majority of the survivor approaches, the questions become more urgent and the private detective who has been on the case for 18 years tries to bring some closure." --Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Conn.

For Ages 4 to 8
That's Me Loving You by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Teagan White (Random House, $16.99, 9781101932384). "In a simple poem offering the reassurance of continued love despite distance, Rosenthal gives readers a beautiful gift, and White's illustrations are wonderfully inclusive. As someone with beloved little family members far away, this book really strikes a chord! I love the portrayal of everyday experiences that can remind us of each other when we're apart." --Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12
Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh (Crown, $16.99, 9781101934593). "This anthology, in partnership with We Need Diverse Books, features the work of favorite authors, including Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Matt de la Peña, Grace Lin, Walter Dean Myers, and others, all celebrating both the uniqueness and the universality in all of us. The common theme throughout these stories is that success can be achieved and hardship can be overcome. An important collection for all middle grade readers!" --Abby Fennelly, Buttonwood Books & Toys, Cohasset, Mass.

For Teen Readers
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (Bloomsbury, 9781681190358, $17.99). "Jared and Deidre have two loving but very different daughters, Jackie and Megan. When Jared, a state congressman, is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he is panicked that his family will not be cared for financially, so he decides to auction off his life to the highest bidder. An unscrupulous reality TV producer buys the right to film--and exploit--the family, but Jackie has other plans. This story is raw, unflinching, and beautiful in the midst of heartbreak. Perfect for contemporary teen fiction readers." --Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Insomniac City

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury USA, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9781620404935, February 14, 2017)

Writer and photographer Bill Hayes first met the great writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks in 2008, when Sacks contacted him to say how much he enjoyed Hayes's The Anatomist. They corresponded, found shared interests and met once for lunch. "He was brilliant, sweet, modest, handsome, and prone to sudden ebullient outbursts of boyish enthusiasm.... I was sort of smitten, I had to admit."

Hayes was grieving his partner of more than 16 years, who one night suddenly went into cardiac arrest and died. In 2009, Hayes moved from San Francisco to Manhattan for a change of scene. Although he had not moved for Sacks, he was now his neighbor, and they began spending time together. Sacks at 77 was a deeply intellectual, unworldly man who had never come out as gay, had never been in a relationship and hadn't had sex in 35 years. "He was without a doubt the most unusual person I had ever known, and before long I found myself not just falling in love with O; it was something more, something I had never experienced before. I adored him." Sacks told him to keep a journal, and Hayes's brief impressionistic entries are woven throughout Insomniac City, which seems written in heightened states of feeling that infuse every detail with meaning and transient beauty.

One of the remarkable elements of this memoir is its portrait of emotional openness. Hayes seems to be one of those people whose appreciation of daily life and capacity for love only expand with age and the awareness of death. His compassionate curiosity extends to everyone and everything around him. He loves the city in all its noise and grime, the late-night laughter rising to his first apartment from a café below, the shifting weather, the subway trains and the public dramas. "Life here is a John Cage score, dissonance made eloquent." He meets all kinds of New Yorkers in the streets and on the subway, talks with them, photographs them (his photos bookend numerous prose segments throughout), builds acquaintanceships and friendships. At the same time, he credits the trees outside the window of his first apartment with helping him understand how to manage his grief and live a full life day by day. His relationship with Sacks is filled with domestic detail and tenderness--walks and baths, cooking, conversations, books and music--through to Sacks's final illness and his death in 2015. Thankfully, Hayes has no pat answers for anything in life, but many reasons why it continues to be worth living. --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: Grief, love and the beauty of the world infuse Bill Hayes's memoir about Manhattan and the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks.

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