Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 15, 2017

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


Bookstore Sales Up 1.9% in April

April bookstore sales rose 1.9%, to $701 million, compared to April 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marks the second month in a row bookstore sales have risen following three months of sales drops, going back to November 2016. For the first four months of the year, bookstore sales have slipped 0.9%, to $3.6 billion, compared to the first four months of 2016.

Total retail sales in April rose 3.4%, to $467.8 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.6%, to $1,796 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

Helen Duan Appointed CEO of PRH North Asia

Helen Duan

Helen Duan has been appointed CEO of Penguin Random House North Asia. She will be based in the company's Beijing office and report directly to PRH CEO Markus Dohle. She also will become a member of the PRH Global Executive Committee. Most recently, Duan was director, business development, for Asia at Oxford University Press.

Dohle said, "I am thrilled to welcome Helen to Penguin Random House to help us grow the business and implement our strategy to take us to the next level in this important region, where we are seeing an increase in demand for strong brands, a growing appetite for education and children's books, wider consumer adoption of online retail, and a rise in the prevalence of social media platforms."

He also observed that for the past 15 years, "Helen has been a proven business and relationship builder with a strong financial, sales, digital, and entrepreneurial background. In her role as CEO of our North Asia operations, Helen will lead our publishing and sales teams, and help our local and international authors reach their full creative potential and largest audience."

Duan commented: "I look forward to partnering with my outstanding new colleagues in helping to grow our authors' readership, as well as to maximize the potential from our licensing and rights businesses as well as our publishing and bookseller partnerships. It will be a privilege to continue to draw upon the resources and experience of our Penguin Random House companies worldwide to further build our North Asia business culturally and commercially."

Jo Lusby, who led Penguin China, and then PRH North Asia, for 12 years, left the company in March. Dohle said the publisher "thanks Jo for her innumerable contributions to our North Asia business and wishes her all the best for the future."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Amazon Bookstore Opens in Paramus, N.J.

The Amazon Books store in Paramus, N.J., opened yesterday, reported. The nearly 4,000-square-foot store is located in Westfield Garden State Plaza, the state's largest mall. It is the company's first physical store in New Jersey, and eighth nationwide.

Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said landing the first Amazon store in the state was a coup for the borough: "There is nothing I like reading more than seeing the words first and Paramus in the same sentence."

Independent booksellers in North Jersey weighed in on Amazon's new presence in the region. Walter and Pat Boyer, owners of Bookends in Ridgewood, had visited Amazon's recently opened Manhattan store in Columbus Circle. "I found it to be very cold," Walter said. "Employees walking around with headsets, not necessarily engaging with customers. Talking with a live person is really the benefit of an independent bookstore, where you're consulting with somebody, one to one, who is going to be giving you their personal views on the book."

The Boyers "don't think the new Paramus store will have a significant impact on their business, and said they are on track to have their best year in 15 years of owning their store," wrote.

Describing the new store as "ironic," Kenny Sarfin, owner of Books and Greetings in Northvale, said, "Amazon put all the little bookstores out of business and then wants to go back in the bookstore business."

Binc Pilots 'Disaster Recovery Assistance for Bookstores'

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation is expanding its bookseller safety net with the launch of a pilot Disaster Recovery Assistance for Bookstores program. Recurring requests over the past few years, and the results of Binc's 2016 Bookseller Survey, led to the creation of the initiative.

This assistance is meant to keep bookstore staff employed by helping the store quickly return to normal business operations in the wake of a disaster. Disaster Recovery Assistance for Bookstores is intended to help the store make repairs, replace inventory, and pay utility bills and other related expenses. Bookstore owners may apply to Binc for assistance with expenses that are not the responsibility of the landlord and are not covered by insurance. The assistance grant will typically cover the difference between what the store's insurance pays and the demonstrated financial need to reopen the bookstore, according to Binc.

"Binc reached out to us after being flooded by Tropical Storm Sandy. They helped our employees and gave us the strength to recover," said Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn.

"Helping bookstores through a disaster is a natural extension of the bookseller safety net," noted Binc executive director Pamela French. "While I hope this program is not needed, it puts in place a way to help a store reopen after a disaster." Any bookstore that has experienced a disaster of any size should contact Binc at 866-733-9064 or

Obituary Note: Janet Lund

Janet Lund, a children's bookseller at the King's English Bookshop and a teacher, Salt Lake City, Utah, died on June 9 after a long illness. She was 66.

The King's English said that "legions of kids learned to read and love books because of her enthusiasm. Many of those children are now grown and bringing their own little ones into the bookshop to share the joy of the written word. Known for her passion for and knowledge of children's literature and her unerring ability, on daily display at the King's English for many years, to find just the right book for each child, she will be missed by the book community not only in Salt Lake City but nationally as well. Her legacy in the world of children's books will live on."

BookExpo 2017: Selling Controversial Books

"There's really no one answer" about how to deal with customer complaints about titles and authors, said Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, with stores in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands, speaking at the BookExpo panel on selling controversial books, sponsored by American Booksellers for Free Expression and moderated by ABFE's Chris Finan.

How to deal with such complaints, Kaplan continued, depends "on the mission of the store and how they see themselves in community." At Books & Books, complaints about "carrying or not carrying a certain book" have been treated individually, he said. "Everything has to do with the context in which it's come up." He emphasized that open communication with customers about such issues is crucial, so that they understand the store's approach.

Vanessa Martini, Mitchell Kaplan and Lissa Muscatine

Kaplan discussed the store's differing reactions to several complaints and controversial books during his 35 years in business. His first such experience involved a complaint that his first, tiny bookshop didn't carry the Bible. He solved this by stocking The Penguin Bible. When the Ayatollah Khomenei issued a fatwa in 1989 against Salman Rushdie because of The Satanic Verses, Books & Books took "a very, very strong position. It needed to be exhibited and proudly sold." When Madonna's book Sex appeared in 1992, "people were coming down hard on bookstores across the country for carrying that." Sex sold out almost immediately, and Books & Books kept one copy and charged customers $1 to look at it and donated the fee to a nonprofit organization.

More recently, when Malcolm Nance made an appearance to promote The Plot to Hack America, several people in the audience repeatedly tried to interrupt his presentation, and Kaplan had to stop the proceedings to tell one "very belligerent" man to leave. The man did leave but stood outside the store yelling, and later gave Books & Books a "nasty" Yelp review for its café. "It happens as much on the right as the left," Kaplan added.

Throughout his bookselling career, Kaplan said, he has emphasized to customers that when an author appears in his store, "I've invited them, it's my store, they're my guest, and it's my duty to keep decorum and make sure they get the respect they deserve."

Vanessa Martini from City Lights, San Francisco, acknowledged that the store is known for being "widely left and radical," but still is criticized sometimes by people "even further left than us." She recommended identifying people on staff who are good at de-escalating bad situations and who can "control and get a person out of the store who shouldn't be there any longer."

Like the other panelists, Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., said the store is "very fiercely protective of decorum and protocol and respect and civility," something that staff sometimes reminds the audience of when making introductions.

Politics and Prose is "in a progressive, liberal part of a political city," she noted, and is "known for being on that side of the spectrum," but has made an effort to have more conservative authors come and speak. "We don't want to speak to the choir," she commented. This has led to some difficult situations, with the store being attacked from left and right, particularly on books about the Middle East.

In addition, an appearance by Pat Buchanan led to "some good discussions" with the staff, since some of them considered him a racist and were "upset that we would have him."

In the Trump era, "we've never felt our mission as an independent bookstore stronger than now, in part because we can serve as an antidote to the increased radical polarization and attempts to silence and attempts to dismiss expertise and attempts to dismiss discussion and really good, rigorous debate, which is what we need. Since those are the hallmarks of a lot of what's happening in the political realm today, we feel particularly strongly about trying to present as many points of view as we can in a thoughtful and respectful way."

Asked about how they would deal with a book that they find personally offensive, panelists discussed several approaches. Muscatine said if a book was "just a purveyor of hate," she wouldn't stock the title, but would order it if someone asked for it.

Martini noted that by its nature, City Lights "doesn't have to carry a lot of books that others have to carry," and that "fortunately my ideology is closely aligned with City Lights'," which won't sell anything hateful.

Kaplan noted that Books & Books serves "a diverse community, and we want to carry diverse inventory politically and artistically," which usually causes no problems although some titles will be "personally anathema to me."

He remembered early in his bookselling career occasionally being asked for the fake, anti-Semitic book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which at the time was available only from the far-right John Birch Society. Disgusted by both the book and the organization, Kaplan wouldn't even do special orders for the book, since "I refused to write a check to the John Birch Society."

Concerning the controversy about Dangerous, the book by Milo Yiannopoulos that earlier this year Threshold Editions was going to publish--a move that many in the business objected to--the panelists generally didn't support the idea of calling for publishers not to publish controversial books. Martini said, "I personally wouldn't ask a publisher not to publish something. It's not my place. My business is stocking my store."

Muscatine said, "We don't want to upend the First Amendment in any form."

And Kaplan emphasized that boycotting or demanding a publisher not publish a book is "a very slippery slope... today it's a book we don't want published, and tomorrow it will be a book we do want published." --John Mutter


Image of the Day: Indies at AAUP

The Association of American University Presses held its annual meeting in Austin, Tex., this week and there was notable energy and collaboration between university presses and indie bookstores, facilitated in part by the ABA and the presence of indie booksellers and university press champions like Jonathon Welch, owner of Talking Leaves, Buffalo, N.Y., who took time away from his Cape Cod vacation to attend. The varied and diverse program included panels such as Cover Design Within Reach, The Challenges and Opportunities of Working with Authors of Creative Work, and Preparing for University Press Week [Nov. 6-11] and Indies First.

After the packed panel on Successful Partnerships with Independent Bookstores, chaired by Gianna LaMorte (University of Texas Press): (l.-r.) Amanda Sharp (University of Georgia Press), Elizabeth Jordan (BookPeople, Austin, Tex.), Emily Hamilton (University of Minnesota Press) and Jeff Deutsch (Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago, Ill.).

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney

Spotted by John Mutter, our editor-in-chief, at Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney, Australia:

" 'A room without books is like a body without a soul.'  --Marcus Tullius Cicero

'Good thing we have plenty of books!' "

Quarto to Distribute Zest Books

Effective July 1, Quarto Group's Quarto Distribution Services will handle sales and distribution for Zest Books in North America. As of January 2018, it will also handle sales and distribution for Zest Books in the U.K. and Ireland.

Founded in San Francisco in 2006, Zest Books specializes in young adult nonfiction, including entertainment, history, science, health, fashion and lifestyle advice.

Bookmasters Adds Two Publishers

Bookmasters has signed two Christian publishers for distribution:

Lexham Press, a part of Faithlife Corporation, which publishes evangelical scholarly and pastoral works in the areas of biblical studies (including Bible reference and original language resources), biblical, historical, and systematic theology, and ministry resources. Effective around the world except for Great Britain and Europe.

Forward Movement, Cincinnati, Ohio, which has published resources to encourage spiritual growth in individuals and congregations for more than 80 years. Worldwide distribution.

Personnel Changes at PRH Audio; Ingram

At Penguin Random House Audio:
Heather Dalton has been promoted to v-p, marketing.
Katie Punia has been promoted to v-p, publicity.


Kris Wiese has joined Ingram Content Group as the senior manager of public relations and communications. She has more than 11 years of experience in communications, PR, and creative content writing, starting in the hospitality industry and then in  healthcare.

Book Trailer of the Day: The Bright Hour

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs (Simon & Schuster), in which bestselling authors, survivors and friends of the late author (including Alice Hoffman, Elin Hildebrand, Will Schwalbe, Nina's husband, and more) share their thoughts about what this posthumous memoir means to them.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Senator Elizabeth Warren on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Senator Elizabeth Warren, author of This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class (Metropolitan Books, $28, 9781250120618).

Last Call with Carson Daly repeat: Bassem Youssef, author of Revolution for Dummies: Laughing through the Arab Spring (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062446893).

This Weekend on Book TV: Alan Alda

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, June 17
10:30 a.m. Gretchen Carlson, author of Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back (Center Street, $27, 9781478992172), at BookExpo.

1 p.m. A panel discussion on James Baldwin at the Unbound Book Festival, which took place on April 21 in Columbia, Mo. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:45 a.m.)

2 p.m. A panel discussion about war stories with Candace Millard, Ishmael Beah, Colonel Gregory Fontenot and Whitney Terrell, at the Unbound Book Festival. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:50 a.m.)

5 p.m. David O. Brown, co-author of Called to Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me (Ballantine, $28, 9781524796549), at BookExpo.

5:15 p.m. April Ryan, author of At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9781442265639), hosts a panel discussion on race in America at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:45 p.m.)

7 p.m. Christian Picciolini, author of Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead (Goldmill Group, $15.99, 9780986240423).

8:30 p.m. Alan Alda, author of If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (Random House, $28, 9780812989144), at BookExpo.

9:15 p.m. Dr. Rachel Pearson, author of No Apparent Distress: A Doctor's Coming-of-Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine (Norton, $26.95, 9780393249248), at University Book Store in Seattle, Wash. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:30 a.m.)

10 p.m. Senator Mike Lee, author of Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government (Sentinel, $27, 9780399564451). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. David McCullough, author of The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781501174216). (Re-airs Sunday at 1:15 p.m.)

Sunday, June 18
1 p.m. Melissa Sevigny, author of Under Desert Skies: How Tucson Mapped the Way to the Moon and Planets (Sentinel Peak, $19.95, 9781941451045). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

3 p.m. Tony Smith, author of Why Wilson Matters: The Origin of American Liberal Internationalism and Its Crisis Today (Princeton University Press, $35, 9780691171678). (Re-airs Monday at 6:30 a.m.)

6:30 p.m. Michael Korda, author of Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory (Liveright, $29.95, 9781631491320), at BookExpo.

10 p.m. Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, authors of Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life (Grand Central, $28, 9781538711415), at BookExpo.

10: 30 p.m. Garrett M. Graff, author of Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476735405).

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International; Hurston/Wright Legacy

Israeli author David Grossman won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, which recognizes "a single work of fiction, translated into English and published in the U.K.," for his novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar, translated by Jessica Cohen. Both author and translator receive £25,000 (about $31,885).

Nick Barley, chair of the 2017 judging panel, said Grossman "has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he's pulled it off spectacularly. A Horse Walks into a Bar shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman's willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer's craft."


The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation will present merit awards to three pioneers in their fields at the 2017 Legacy Awards on October 20 in Washington, D.C. Receiving the North Star Award "for career accomplishment and inspiration to the writing community" is Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. U.S. Congressman and author John Lewis will be honored with the Ella Baker Award, given to a writer "for work that advances social justice." Haki Madhubuti, poet and founder of Third World Press, will receive the Madam C.J. Walker Award for "his dedication to supporting and sustaining Black literature."

The evening will culminate with the announcement of the winners of the juried awards for books by black authors published in 2016. The complete list of Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards nominees in the debut fiction, fiction, nonfiction and poetry categories is available here

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 20:

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 9780345545992) is the start of a new series about a widow whose late husband was part of a mysteriously high number of suicides.

Kiss Carlo: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani (Harper, $27.99, 9780062319227) follows an Italian-American family in 1949 Philadelphia.

Here and Gone: A Novel by Haylen Beck (Crown, $26, 9780451499578) is a thriller about a woman trying to rescue her children from corrupt local law enforcement.

Girl on the Leeside: A Novel by Kathleen Anne Kenney (Nan A. Talese, $26.95, 9780385542395) follows an aspiring poet in an Irish village.

Into the Gray Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death by Adrian Owen (Scribner, $28, 9781501135200) explores the experiences of brain-damaged patients.

Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon's Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby (Basic Books, $27, 9780465094837) is the memoir of a heart surgeon.

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316546164) looks how Apple's ubiquitous cell phone was created.

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walden Pond Press, $16.99, 9780062643629) is a middle grade science fiction novel about a boy who must come up with 10 reasons Earth is worth saving with a time- and space-bending friend who looks like a dog but is actually an alien.

Superstar by Mandy Davis (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062377777) is a middle grade novel about a space and science-obsessed boy with autism who goes to public school after always being homeschooled... and learns about bullying, friendship and finding his own way.

Swimming Home: A Novel by Mary-Rose MacColl (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143129967).

You Can Draw It in Just 30 Minutes: See It and Sketch It in a Half-Hour or Less by Mark Kistler (Da Capo Lifelong, $17.99, 9780738218625).

The Pleasures of Passion (The Sinful Suitors) by Sabrina Jeffries (Pocket, $7.99, 9781501144462).

Giant Days Vol. 5 by John Allison and Max Sarin (BOOM! Box, $14.99, 9781608869824).

The Beguiled, based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan, opens June 23. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning and Colin Farrell star in this story of a wounded Union soldier who takes shelter in a Virginian girls' school during the Civil War. A movie tie-in edition (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143132400) 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:

Extraordinary Adventures: A Novel by Daniel Wallace (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250118455). "We are all Edsel Bronfman. Or at least those of us who have spent a substantial portion of our lives as terribly awkward introverts with no social skills and a complete lack of romantic experience or opportunity are. Daniel Wallace's new novel had me cringing with recognition and laughing out loud as his 34-year-old protagonist is launched on an absurd and hilarious journey of self-discovery and transformation initiated by a mysterious phone call from a timeshare saleswoman. Extraordinary Adventures is a quirky, sweet, heartfelt, and offbeat romance that displays the imaginative playfulness Wallace is known for." --Josh Niesse, Underground Books, Carrollton, Ga.

Touch: A Novel by Courtney Maum (Putnam, $26, 9780735212121). "Sloane is a strong, independent businesswoman working as a trend forecaster. While at an innovative company, Sloane finds that the very technology that is supposed to connect people to one another is actually tearing them apart. The entire story is both hilarious and slightly terrifying as it tells of a future where we outsource intimacy to strangers and lead very isolated lives. Touch is a warning about what can happen if we become too attached to the technology in our lives and a great reminder to put the phone down and connect with others in person." --Kristen Beverly, Half Price Books, Dallas, Tex.

Broken River: A Novel by J. Robert Lennon (Graywolf Press, $16, 9781555977726). "Imagine a sentence that has the slow-burn intensity you feel when reading your favorite mystery novels and the nuance and music of your icons of prose style. Now imagine a whole book of them. Set that book in a small town in Upstate New York, move a family of city folk into a Shirley Jacksonian home, and tell part of the story from the point of view of an 'Observer' who could represent the reader, the author, a house spirit, God, or something else entirely. Now cede your imagination to J. Robert Lennon, whose new novel will transport and move you. A perfect union of breezy and deep, Broken River has something for everyone." --John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Case of the Stinky Stench by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney (Sterling, $16.95, 9781454919605). "A delightfully delicious companion to one of my favorites, Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. This time around there's a dastardly odor coming from somewhere in the fridge and it's up to Inspector Croissant and Sir French Toast to uncover the stench or all of their foodie friends may be tossed or sauced. With great use of imagination and rhyme, The Case of the Stinky Stench makes a fun read-aloud for all ages, including the reader. Bon appétit!" --Holland Saltsman, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo.

For Ages 9 to 12
Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble by Ursula Vernon (Dial, $12.99, 9780399186523). "Harriet is back, and she's as much fun as ever! In Ursula Vernon's fourth fairy tale twist (this time involving a very large beanstalk, a giant, and a magic harp), Harriet finds herself yet again in a larger-than-life adventure that readers won't want to put down. Smart, funny, exciting, and a bit ridiculous, this newest installment in the Hamster Princess series is sure to satisfy fans and newcomers alike." --Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Teen Readers
Grit by Gillian French (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780062642554). "Incoming high school senior Darcy has a reputation as a bad girl, but there is so much more to her. Living with her widowed mom and her good-girl older sister in the pocket of a disapproving aunt, Darcy's life is complicated. She's used to ignoring the rumors, but the secret she is keeping for her cousin Nell weighs heavily on her and threatens to blow her world apart. This coming-of-age story is full of anger, betrayal, fear, and, ultimately, courage and hope. Not a happily-ever-after ending, but one full of promise." --Ellen Richmond, Children's Book Cellar, Waterville, Me.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home

Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges (Mariner, $17.95 paperback, 328p., 9780544577831, July 2017)

Lambda Award-winning artist Nicole Georges (Calling Dr. Laura) adopted a scrappy Shar-Pei mixed-breed for her boyfriend when she was 16 years old. They named the dog Beija, because Tom said, "It means 'stranger' in Polish." It doesn't, but the name stuck, and so did the pup.

In Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home, Georges details her 15-year friendship with Beija, through tumultuous relationships, relocating from Missouri to Oregon, unstable housing, shattered dreams and finding a place to call home. Rescued from the pound, Beija is temperamental, protective and loud, but over time Georges figures out how to care for her. The rules are eventually distilled to these: don't bend at the waist, don't touch her sides, don't pick her up, don't sit near her bed and don't be a man, a child or another dog.

Georges adopted Beija hoping that a pet could remedy Tom's childhood as a social misfit with chronic stomach pain--experiences Nicole shared. But his parents refused the gift, leaving her to care for the animal with which she'd instantly bonded, despite a complicated history of pet care. Throughout Fetch, Beija triggers memories of Georges's free-range childhood, undisciplined and haphazardly educated. As a girl, she kept frogs, turtles, gerbils and more; she adored her animal friends--too much at times. Over-handling and underfeeding became predictable enough for her older sisters to step in and save the pets. These interludes add depth to an already moving memoir about the balance between giving and receiving affection.

Eventually, in Portland, Ore., Georges cultivates a reputation as a zinester and artist in the punk scene, with Beija always nearby as her erratic sidekick wearing a warning scarf: Don't pet me. Together they weather breakups, coming out of the closet, a stint at an animal sanctuary and the overzealous attention of a pet psychic. In the process, Georges begins to recognize the needs and neuroses she shares with her dog, and how they can better care for one another.

Fetch is beautiful. Georges's artwork is inviting and frank as she tells a touching story of companionship and personal growth. "Your dog is your mirror," she learns in one of many attempts to train Beija, and in her expressive graphic memoir, Georges draws the comparison to a moving degree. One's frustrations become the other's; one's happiness feeds back. A dog pack of two, she and Beija form a special bond, a friendship that hits home. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Portland artist Nicole Georges didn't know what she was getting herself into when she adopted Beija the dog at 16, but their friendship changed everything.

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