Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hanover Square Press: Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey


Literary Supply Co. Begins Selling Book-Related Sidelines

Dan and Megan Moench have founded Literary Supply Co., a book-related apparel and accessories company in Kaysville, Utah, that is, they say, "all about books, reading and literature." Products include tote bags, zipper pouches, buttons and boxed pencil sets that feature such titles as Alice in Wonderland and Pride & Prejudice and quotations from Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, Maya Angelou and Henry David Thoreau.

The Moenchs, who have held positions in traditional and educational publishing, said they founded Literary Supply Co. as "a response to the ever-growing demand for smart, fun, book-related products." They noted that the American Booksellers Association has said that the most profitable indie bookstores generate nearly 20% of revenue from nonbook products and services. "Our goal is to help serve the needs of the most self-supporting industry we've ever had the pleasure to do business with--the book trade."

For more information, e-mail the company here.

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Bookselling Without Borders Expands

Bookselling Without Borders, the scholarship program that sends American booksellers to international book fairs, is expanding. Next year the program plans to send 15 booksellers to three book fairs, in Turin, Frankfurt and Guadalajara. This year, it sent three booksellers to Turin, and last year, it sent one to Frankfurt.

The program also has more sponsors: founded by Europa Editions in 2016, then joined this year by the Other Press, the program has added Catapult, Graywolf Press and the New Press as sponsors.

The application period will begin in early 2018 and will be open to all booksellers in the U.S.

The scholarship is sponsored by the partner publishers, but additional funding is being sought through a Kickstarter campaign that runs through October 29. So far, nearly $13,000 has been raised toward a goal of $30,000. The campaign includes a range of rewards, including signed books, advance reading copies, a swag bag, a visit to a publisher, a literary agent's evaluation, a year's worth of titles from the sponsor presses and more.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Literary Mag A Public Space Founding Book Division

Literary magazine A Public Space is founding APS Books, whose first title, appearing in fall 2018, is Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage by Bette Howland, a collection of stories, the author's first book in more than 30 years. Brigid Hughes, who founded A Public Space in 2006, soon after she left the Paris Review, where she had succeeded George Plimpton as editor, commented: "This is the work we envisioned A Public Space as a home for--work that feels stubbornly true to itself. Work that can only exist in its own form."

Other titles on the inaugural list include a book about creativity and the artistic process by British filmmaker Sally Potter; a collection of journals and letters by artist Dorothea Tanning; and an anthology of responses to Italo Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium, edited by Martha Cooley and with contributions from Jhumpa Lahiri and Andrei Codrescu, among others.

In 2011, Hughes was awarded the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing, and in 2016, the magazine won the Best Magazine Award from the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses.

Bloomsbury Launching Bloomsbury China

Bloomsbury is launching an English-language publishing enterprise called Bloomsbury China that will focus on books about China and for China, by Chinese, Western and other writers. Bloomsbury China aims to "illuminate, educate, and entertain with books of fiction and non-fiction for general readers, students and scholars."

In partnership with Chinese publishers and with Western and Chinese universities, Bloomsbury China will also develop digital products to supplement and enhance print editions.

Bloomsbury China will launch in February 2018 with The Complete Dramatic Works of Tang Xianzu, marking the first time that the complete collected works of Tang Xianzu, regarded as China's greatest playwright, have been translated into English and made available outside China.

Richard Charkin, executive director of Bloomsbury, will lead Bloomsbury China. Charkin, who recently received the Special Book Award of China in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of the cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world, commented: "I believe Chinese writing, scholarship and culture have been under-represented internationally. The purpose of Bloomsbury China is to work with Chinese publishers and authors, and indeed Western authors, to publish books in English with the intention of improving the West's understanding of China and helping China reach out and communicate with the rest of the world."

Obituary Note: Richard Wilbur

Acclaimed poet Richard Wilbur, "whose meticulous, urbane poems earned him two Pulitzer Prizes and selection as the national poet laureate," died October 14, the New York Times reported. He was 96. Wilbur received his first Pulitzer, as well as a National Book Award, in 1957 for Things of This World; then won a second in 1988 for New and Collected Poems. He was poet laureate of the U.S. in 1987-88. His many other honors include the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which he won in 2006 at the age of 85.

Wilbur published nine volumes of poetry and several children's books, which he also illustrated. The Times noted that he "was also an esteemed translator of poems and other works from the French, Spanish and Russian, including the plays of Molière and Racine." Anterooms, his last collection of new poems and translations, was published in 2010.

"A devotee of classical rhyme and meter, his work retained a sense of orderly elegance through the rise of confessional poets such as Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath, and in contrast to the often esoteric work of avant-garde writers like John Ashbery," the Washington Post noted.

Robert Casper, head of the Library of Congress's Poetry and Literature Center, said, "If Ashbery invented a whole new kind of poetry, Richard Wilbur reminded us of the enduring power of tradition: that poems about the natural world and about love, written in classical, traditional rhyme and meter, would continue to matter going forward into the future."

Irish poet Paul Muldoon described Wilbur as "the single greatest technician in American poetry of the last 70 years," adding: "It was a technique perfectly at the service of tenderness and terror."

From Wilbur's poem "The Writer":

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.  

FBF17: Women Executives Discuss Women in Publishing

"This has everything to do with how we look at women, period," said Arpita Das, chief executive of Yoda Press in India, during a panel at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week that brought together five women who all hold high-level positions in the global publishing industry. They discussed challenges facing women in the industry, the relative scarcity of women in executive positions despite making up the majority of the publishing workforce, things that have helped them in their own careers and more.

"It's not happening in a vacuum," continued Das. A common thread throughout the discussion, and a sentiment shared by many of the panelists, was that this was not a publishing-only problem, but a facet of larger societal issues. "Unless we bring up our boys to believe that girls should have exactly the same opportunities that they do, from primary education level onwards, this is going to happen in every industry."

Sophie de Closets, Xandra Ramos-Padilla and Tracey Armstrong

In addition to Das, the panelists included Vicky Williams, chief executive of Research Media, part of Emerald Group Publishing in the U.K.; Sophie de Closets, chief executive of Fayard in France; Tracey Armstrong, publisher and chief executive of Copyright Clearance Center; and Xandra Ramos-Padilla, director of National Bookstore and president of Anvil Publishing in the Philippines. Jane Tappuni, general manager of IPR License, moderated the panel.

While discussing things that were key to her career, Armstrong advocated strongly for publishers giving more women the chance to "own" profit and loss. "I was very fortunate early in my career to become responsible for revenue," she said. "In many of our organizations, if we think about where power accumulates, it's usually around that revenue."

When asked if she thought that women sometimes have a tendency to hold themselves back in the workplace, Armstrong said that she did think it was a problem, but explained that she thought of it as a "societal" and "structural" one "ingrained in who we are, [as] men and women."

As part of a longer discussion about women and promotions, de Closets recalled being appointed as chief executive of Fayard by Arnaud Nourry, the chief executive of Hachette Livre, while she was on maternity leave. The promotion had been brought up before de Closets went on leave, but at the time she had refused, thinking she couldn't handle it. After Nourry appointed her to the role, she was surprised and remembered thinking: "Well, I'm not the one who's going to undermine their confidence in me. And that's typical women."

Armstrong reflected that when it comes to promotions women are generally "doing the job before they get the promotion, when men are getting the promotion and learning the job." She also remarked on the tendency of younger professional women to show a lot of self doubt when it comes to accepting promotions. She advised young women simply to "take the job," while Tappuni agreed, paraphrasing Richard Branson: "Take the job, work it out later."

Williams described the creation of Emerald Publishing Group's internal gender diversity program, called Stride. After noticing the lack of gender balance at senior levels, Williams recalled bringing up the issue with her male board colleagues with "some trepidation." But her colleagues were supportive, and Stride has been active since February 2016. "This is not about quotas; there's not one woman I know that wants to be making up the numbers," said Williams. She added that it was about creating the right environment, developing skills and "developing the dialogue internally so that whatever that real or perceived glass ceiling is, that we start to chip away at it."

Ramos-Padilla talked about the origins of her family's bookstore chain, National Book Store, which was founded in the Philippines by her grandparents after World War II and led by her grandmother for years. Ramos-Padilla described being recruited by grandmother "straight out" of her college graduation dinner and learning from her grandmother how to run both a publishing and bookselling business. Compared to other panelists, she said she hadn't really experienced much of a glass ceiling. Said Ramos-Padilla: "As a woman I think it's all about finding our authentic voices, our own unique style of leadership, and supporting each other in work." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Nelson DeMille and The Cuban Affair

Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine, in Rockville Centre, N.Y., hosted Nelson DeMille for his novel The Cuban Affair (Simon & Schuster) at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College. DeMille signed more than 250 books and took the time to engage with each fan. Co-owner Carol Hoenig said, "The bookstore has hit the two-year anniversary and it hasn't been easy going, but doing events like these gives us hope we can make it to three years. We are so grateful that Mr. DeMille included us in his tour." Pictured: Hoenig and DeMille.

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Avid Bookshop

"Book mail > bill mail. (Zoom in.)," Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., posted on Facebook yesterday along with a photo of its sidewalk sandwich board: "When's the last time you got real mail? You can join Avid Bookshop's Book Subscription Program! Get a book in your mailbox every month...." 

Book Trailer of the Day: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster), a series of videos about various aspects of da Vinci and his creative genius.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Amy Tan on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Amy Tan, author of Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir (Ecco, $28.99, 9780062319296).


Morning Joe: Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501139154). He will also appear on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Good Morning America: Bryant Johnson, author of The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong... and You Can Too! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99, 9781328919120).

CBS This Morning: Oprah Winfrey, author of The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250138064). She will also appear on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

The Real: Kim Fields, co-author of Blessed Life: My Surprising Journey of Joy, Tears, and Tales from Harlem to Hollywood (FaithWords, $22, 9781478947547).

Watch What Happens Live: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Valerie's Home Cooking: More than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share with Friends and Family (Oxmoor House, $30, 9780848752286).

Hannity: Ainsley Earhardt, author of Through Your Eyes: My Child's Gift to Me (Aladdin, $18.99, 9781534409590).

Last Call with Carson Daly repeat: Maria Sharapova, author of Unstoppable: My Life So Far (Sarah Crichton, $28, 9780374279790).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Senator Bernie Sanders, author of Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In (Thomas Dunne, $27, 9781250132925).

TV: The Bomb Maker

Fox has given "a big put pilot commitment that has hefty penalty attached" to The Long Walk, based on Thomas Perry's upcoming novel The Bomb Maker, Deadline reported. Carol Mendelsohn is writing, and Morris Chestnut (Rosewood) stars in the project. Chestnut will executive produce with Mendelsohn and Julie Weitz of Carol Mendelsohn Productions as well as Brian Wilkins of LINK Entertainment.

Mendelsohn Productions "had optioned the novel The Bomb Maker, which will be published in January by Mysterious Press, and Mendelsohn reached out to Chestnut for the lead," Deadline wrote. "He liked the book and, when she committed to create the series, he came on board."

Books & Authors

Awards: Not the Booker Prize

Winnie M. Li won the Guardian's 2017 Not the Booker Prize, which recognizes the "year's best book, which may--or may not--tally with the assessment of the Man Booker prize judges," for Dark Chapter, which "was the voting public's favorite, and our judges concurred." 

Although Dark Chapter had been ahead in the voting, "the final choice was not clear cut," the Guardian wrote. "Our judges also had one vote each--and two of them favored Harriet Paige's Man With a Seagull on His Head. They shared my general opinion that this book is beautifully written, engaging and strange. It fell to our third judge, Hannah Bruce Macdonald, to make a case for Dark Chapter as the book that had stayed with her the longest. She argued that it wasn't just an important and brave novel, it was also a story well told.

"All of our judges were admirably civil, but Hannah must have felt some pressure as we interrogated what prizes are for and how we define literary merit. She stood firm and made effective and persuasive arguments. As a result, we have a worthy and powerful winner."

Book Review

Review: The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization by Martin Puchner (Random House, $32 hardcover, 448p., 9780812998931, October 24, 2017)

As the general editor of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, Harvard professor Martin Puchner is superbly qualified to cover the subject of The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization. Circling the globe and spanning human history from the invention of writing to the Internet age, Puchner's book is a lively account of how literature has transformed humanity.

The Written World proceeds in roughly chronological fashion, but Puchner structures his narrative around what he identifies as four stages of the story of literature: small groups of scribes responsible for assembling foundational texts like the Hebrew Bible; "teachers' literature" (written accounts of the words of charismatic figures like Jesus and the Buddha recorded by their followers); the emergence of individual authors like Cervantes; and the era of mass production and mass literacy. Whether it's the development of paper or the invention of the printing press, Puchner is also comfortable discussing the decisive impact of technology on the creation and dissemination of literary texts at every stage.

One feature that will appeal to the curious reader is the attention Puchner devotes to literary works that are, at best, only dimly known to Western audiences, something that gives the book a refreshingly global flavor. Discussing The Tale of Genji--which he calls "the first great novel in world literature"--from Japan around the year 1000 C.E., or the 13th-century West African foundational story Epic of Sunjata, not reduced to writing for some 700 years, Puchner demonstrates both a depth of scholarly expertise and the ability to tell an engaging and deeply human story.

Though it would be an overstatement to call The Written World travel literature, it's informed and enlivened by Puchner's descriptions of his journeys to places associated with the works he discusses and their creators. Those trips took him as far away as a 2014 literary festival in Jaipur, India, still abuzz from the appearance of Oprah Winfrey the preceding year, and to the remote mountains of southeastern Mexico in the midst of the Zapatista uprising in 2004. The latter trip was inspired by a Mayan work called the Popol Vuh ("Council Book"), the doomed civilization's desperate attempt to preserve its culture against the onslaught of Spanish conquistadors.

As he brings his account to a close, reflecting on the challenges rapid technological change will pose when it comes to preserving our literature for future generations, Puchner recognizes that we are "still in the middle of this, an ongoing story." Whatever form our literature may take in the coming centuries, this stimulating history leaves little doubt that its influence on every aspect of human life will be profound and enduring. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Harvard professor Martin Puchner offers an invigorating global survey of literature's deep impact on the course of history.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Misadventures of a Good Wife by Meredith Wild and Helen Hardt
2. Thrill of Love: Ty Braden by Melissa Foster
3. The Jack Reacher Cases (A Hard Man to Forget) by Dan Ames
4. A Deadly Bluff by Kathleen Concannon
5. Hideaway (Devil's Night #2) by Penelope Douglas
6. Michael's Mercy by Dale Mayer
7. The Sydney Harbour Hospital Series Collection by Chris Taylor
8. The Surprise by Alice Ward
9. The Five Brothers Next Door by Nikki Chase
10. The Christmas Cookie Shop by Ginny Baird

[Many thanks to!]

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