Also published on this date: Monday, November 20, 2017: Maximum Shelf: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions

Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 20, 2017

Graphix: Unico: Awakening (Volume 1): An Original Manga Created by Osamu Tezuka, Written by Samuel Sattin, Illustrated by Gurihiru

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Immortal Dark (Deluxe Limited Edition) by Tigest Girma

Bramble: Swordcrossed by Freya Marske

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

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

Quotation of the Day

'Reasons to Support Your Local Bookshop'

"Bookshops--and all the shops that come together to make up our communities, to entice us away from our screens and into communal spaces--can't exist without our customers. Where you shop is of course entirely your choice, but it's important to really make that choice a conscious one....

"We know there are reasons why you might choose to buy books from Amazon. But there are also good reasons to support your local bookshop. History shows that community bookshops won't always survive the arrival of Amazon in their home territory. So, please know that your choices will influence what your local community looks like in the years ahead. And that it might not, in the long-term, be possible to choose both global convenience and local experience."

--Mark Rubbo, managing director of Readings, with seven shops in and near Melbourne, Australia, in a Guardian column related to the imminent opening of Amazon in Australia.

Henry Holt & Company: A Banh Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen


Tomas Maier x Phaidon Pop-Up Opens in NYC

Phaidon Press and designer Tomas Maier "have joined forces to launch a pop-up bookstore at the Tomas Maier Bleecker Street store" in New York City, the Daily Front Row reported. The Tomas Maier x Phaidon "Bookstore" features a dedicated display area of the publisher's works, with titles curated by Maier, "who picked a range of chic reads on the topics of architecture and design."

"Books have always been part of the Tomas Maier universe," he said. "I am happy to have an additional presence in the men's Bleecker Street store."

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

NYPL Unveils Master Plan for Schwarzman Building

The New York Public Library has unveiled a $317-million master plan for its Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (aka the Main Branch on Fifth Avenue at 42nd St.), which calls for an approximate 20% increase in public space for research, exhibitions and educational programs. It was developed by architecture firms Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle, which are also leading the renovation of Mid-Manhattan Library.

Rendering of the new 40th St. entrance (credit: Mecanoo with Beyer Blinder Belle)

"For over a century, the Schwarzman Building has been a beacon of open access to information and a tireless preservationist of the world's knowledge," said NYPL president Tony Marx. "We have a responsibility to preserve its architectural wonder and its role as an important civic space, while also preparing it for the future, and another century of best serving the public. We believe this plan does just that."

Work will be done in two phases, using private funds. Specific elements include:

  • The transformation of former staff or storage spaces into public spaces for research, exhibitions, and educational programs.
  • The transformation of long-underused, historic spaces for research and programs, including the new Lenox and Astor Room
  • An entrance on 40th Street with a plaza and new elevator bank to ease congestion throughout the building
  • New bathrooms and improved and modernized infrastructure, including a café and expanded shop
  • A new Center for Research and Learning that will introduce high school and university students to the collections and uses of the research library
  • A new permanent but rotating exhibition of NYPL treasures in the library's Gottesman Hall

According to the NYPL, "these elements will prepare the library for the future while maintaining the building's architectural integrity and complementing existing historic spaces such as the landmarked Rose Main Reading Room, the Maps, Periodicals, and Genealogy reading rooms, and Astor Hall."

While the master plan does not include a definitive plan for the central stacks--seven floors of shelving built with the library in 1911--the library also has commissioned Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle to study possibilities for the 175,000-square-foot space, which is currently housing circulating books while Mid-Manhattan Library is closed for renovation.

English-Language Bookstore in Bucharest, Romania, Reopens

The Anthony Frost English Bookshop, the English-language bookstore in Bucharest, Romania, that closed in February, has reopened in a new location, Romania Insider reported. The store is now in a branch of Carturesti, a Romanian bookstore chain, near Bucharest University. The site is also hosting a micro-gallery and a boutique coffee bar.

On Facebook, the Anthony Frost English Bookshop wrote: "We thank you for writing to us or simply for stopping us on the street over these past months just to tell us you miss us. Yes, we miss you too and we are happy to let you know that soon we will be able to see each other. This chance was offered to us by Carturesti. It is an example of solidarity that seems to be a pioneering work in the industry, as far as we know."

The Anthony Frost English Bookshop was established in 2007 by Vlad Niculescu, Dan Nicolaescu and Nicolae Ion.

B&N Survey Finds Thanksgiving Eve 'Busiest Reading Day of the Year'


The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest reading day of the year, with many holiday travelers turning to reading to help ease the stress of traveling, an independent survey of holiday reading habits commissioned by Barnes & Noble has found.

According to the survey, 77% of Americans read at least one book, newspaper or magazine during Thanksgiving or other holiday travel, while 60% of travelers usually bring, buy or borrow reading material specifically for travel on Thanksgiving Eve. Some 73% of respondents said they felt that traveling on the day before Thanksgiving is a "good time to bring a book they would enjoy and be able to read," and just over a quarter of Americans feel that "bringing a book along for Thanksgiving could give them a way to get out of an uncomfortable or awkward conversation with a relative or other guest."

More than half of the survey's respondents said that they do not get to read or enjoy books as often as they'd like, with 71% reporting that holiday travel time is a good opportunity to catch up on books or magazines that they haven't found the time to read. When it comes to the benefits of reading while traveling, most respondents answered that: it's a good way to pass the time while delayed; it helps ease the stress of traveling; it helps "transport" the reader somewhere else; travel time is good for catching up on books; and it gives the reader a chance to learn something new.

Finally, 73% of respondents said that when they do read while traveling, it makes their trip more relaxing, and 72% said that it makes their trip more enjoyable.

Obituary note: Sarah Maguire

Sarah Maguire, "a vital presence in British poetry as a poet and translator," died November 2, the Guardian reported. She was 60. In 2004, Maguire founded the Poetry Translation Centre at London University, which aims to introduce new audiences to leading poets from around the world. "Establishing the PTC took tenacity, vision and great generosity of time," the Guardian noted."

Her three collections of poetry, Spilt Milk (1991), The Invisible Mender (1997) and The Pomegranates of Kandahar (2007), "laid out new poetic ground in their concerns with nature, growth and the body," the Guardian wrote. She also edited an anthology of horticultural poems, Flora Poetica (2003).

In 1996, Maguire was the first writer to be sent by the British Council to Palestine. She began translating contemporary Arabic poetry by writers like Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, the Sudanese poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi and the Afghan poet Naderi Partaw, among others. Her work was translated into Arabic and Malayalam. 


Image of the Day: Miami Book Fair Keeps Growing

Perfect weather brought out the crowds for the Miami Book Fair: six evenings of readings and discussions, followed by a two-day street fair and Festival of Authors; more than 450 writers from the United States and around the world participated.

The first Miami Book Fair took place in 1984; Mitchell Kaplan of Miami's Books & Books was one of the event's founders. It has now become the largest book fair in the country.

Happy Birthday, Moonraker Books!

Congratulations to Moonraker Books, Langley, Wash., which is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Whidbey Local reported that owner Josh Hauser "still loves greeting customers and helping them find a particular book" and "has noticed a resurgence of interest in old-fashioned paper books."

"People keep coming into the store and spending time just wandering and looking at what's there," she said. "Just about everyone--adults and children--loves getting a good book for a present."

For Hauser and her late husband, Glenn, the store's name (a sail at the top of the mast of a sailboat) represented daydreaming. "They believed that a major attraction of a bookstore is exploring and dreaming. They weren't sure the bookstore would be a success, but people came to check it out and kept returning and telling others about the Moonraker," Whidbey Local wrote.

The secrets to her success: "I love books, and I love people."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jake Bernstein on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Jake Bernstein, author of Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite (Holt, $30, 9781250126689).

Harry: Gene Simmons, author of On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power (Dey Street, $15.99, 9780062694706).

Ellen: Garth Brooks, author of The Anthology Part 1: The First Five Years (Pearl Records, $39.95, 9781595910998).

The Talk: Katey Sagal, author of Grace Notes: My Recollections (Gallery, $26, 9781476796710).

Daily Show repeat: Hillary Clinton, author of What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565).

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

Harry: Suzanne Somers, author of Two's Company: A Fifty-Year Romance with Lessons Learned in Love, Life & Business (Harmony, $26, 9780451498267).

Wendy Williams: Alex Guarnaschelli, author of The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307956583).

Watch What Happens Live repeat: Michael Rapaport, author of This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501160318).

Conan repeat: Katy Tur, author of Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey Street Books, $26.99, 9780062684929).

TV: Catch-22

George Clooney will direct and play the role of Colonel Cathcart in a limited series based on Joseph Heller's 1961 novel Catch-22. Variety reported that the six-episode series is from Paramount TV and Anonymous Content, though no network is currently attached. The series is aiming for an early 2018 shoot. Episodes were co-written by Luke Davies and David Michôd, who will also executive produce. Catch-22 was previously adapted as a 1970 film, directed by Mike Nichols from Buck Henry's adaptation and starring Alan Arkin as Yossarian and Martin Balsam as Cathcart. 

Books & Authors

Awards: DSC South Asian Literature; National Outdoor Book

The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam has won the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He received the $25,000 prize and award at the Dhaka Lit Fest in Bangladesh. (The book was published in the U.S. by Flatiron Books.)

The organizers commented: "Told in meditative, nuanced and powerful prose, this shattering novel marks the arrival of an extraordinary new literary voice." And speaking for the jury, Ritu Menon said, "The novel is impressive for its intensity and rich detail, and for exploring the tragic heart of war with such quiet eloquence. It is also a testament to the redemptive power of love, and to the human spirit’s capacity for hope."


The winners and honorable mentions of the National Outdoor Book Awards are:

Outdoor Literature:
A Fly Rod of Your Own by John Gierach (Simon & Schuster)
On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor (Simon & Schuster)

Outdoor Literature honorable mention: No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's)

History/Biography: Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka by Bernadette McDonald (Rocky Mountain Books)

Natural History Literature: Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White (Trinity University Press)

Children's: Pup the Sea Otter by Jonathan London, illustrated by Sean London (WestWinds Press/Graphic Arts Books)

Children's honorable mention: Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo, photographs by Kevin Byron (Chicago Review Press)

Nature and the Environment: Monarchs and Milkweed by Anurag Agrawal (Princeton University Press)

Nature and the Environment honorable mention: The Pipestone Wolves: The Rise and Fall of a Wolf Family by Günther Bloch, photography by John E. Marriott (Rocky Mountain Books)

Design and Artistic Merit: Wild Encounters: Iconic Photographs of the World's Vanishing Animals and Cultures, photography and commentary by David Yarrow (Rizzoli)

Classic: Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by Kenn Kaufman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Backpacker Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike by Liz Thomas (Falcon Guides)
Big Walls, Swift Waters: Epic Stories from Yosemite Search and Rescue by Charles R. "Butch" Farabee (Yosemite Conservancy)

Nature Guidebooks:
The Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles by Mike Krebill (St. Lynn's Press)
Butterflies of Pennsylvania: A Field Guide by James L. Monroe and David M. Wright (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks: Outdoor Adventures, Acadia National Park: Your Guide to the Best Hiking, Biking and Paddling by Jerry and Marcy Monkman (Appalachian Mountain Club)

Book Review

Review: Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art by Sam Wasson (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 hardcover, 464p., 9780544557208, December 5, 2017)

Improvisational theater was invented and developed in the 20th century United States, and continues to be a life spring of new ideas and talent for the performing arts, TV and film. Sam Wasson (Fosse) spent years writing Improv Nation from archival research and scores of interviews. The result is encyclopedic, garrulous and funny.

Improvisational theater requires its players to be receptive and generous with each other, competitive but also trusting, and to be fearless in front of an audience. The first games and rules of improv were made by Viola Spolin, a Jewish Chicagoan working at the famous Hull House, which served new immigrant populations in Chicago. Working with children and then with adults at the Chicago WPA Recreation Project during the Great Depression, she developed "Theater Games" that encouraged people to open up and play together spontaneously onstage. Spolin's son, Paul Sills, founded the Compass Theater, whose members included the brilliant comedy duo Nichols and May. Some of its members went on to found the famous and influential Chicago improv theater Second City, which opened in 1959 to such instant success they didn't have to advertise. New theaters were founded in cities across the country, and the age of improv had arrived.

Wasson often seems thrilled and dazzled by his famous subjects, and his enthusiasm permeates this book. He has organized it chronologically, with reference to the major political and cultural events of each period. All the intertwined story lines and Wasson's frequent digressions can sometimes feel a little chaotic, but another great anecdote is always on the next page. He describes the evolution of improv through scenes of creative meetings, rehearsals and performances. Many artists succeeded and innovated in the early little theaters, and went on to build strong networks and brilliant careers. Some found improv "a hell of free will." Improvisational theater influenced a long list of Hollywood movies, including The Graduate, Animal House and Waiting for Guffman, and inspired TV shows such as Saturday Night Live, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and Key and Peele. Rage, depression and addiction plagued many of the performers profiled here, along with all the difficulties of starting careers in the arts. But the creative and social joy of improvisational theater, and the application of its principles to daily life, are the unifying themes. "Wherever there is improvisation, anyone can speak her mind, and that mind, folded in with others', will form a totally original, harmonious entity... the democratic spirit channeled through art. Improvisation, then, is inherently egalitarian; it is about how we can be free together." --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: An ambitious and effusive history of the development of improvisational theater in the U.S., its many stars and powerful continuing influence.

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