Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Legacy Lit: Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum by Antonia Hylton

Berkley Books: Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

Berkley Books: Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese

Wednesday Books: Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana

Little, Brown Ink: K Is in Trouble (a Graphic Novel) (K Is in Trouble #1) by Gary Clement

Fly Paper Products: Literary Gifts

William Morrow & Company: The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim

Quotation of the Day

Indie Booksellers 'Have Sharpened Their Act'

"There seems to be a renewed reception of indie bookshops, the recognition that they are really important businesses and can help significantly with breaking authors.... Bookshops have become more and more creative, they hold more interesting events, make better partnerships in their communities and have essentially become more professional. They have sharpened their act because they have had to when faced with competition from Amazon, rising business rates and huge economic uncertainty, for example with Brexit."

--British bookseller Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, quoted by the Bookseller in an article headlined "Indie Bookshop Decline Over, Says BA"

Atria Books: The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard


SoCal Fire Updates: Bank of Books Organizing Book Donations; Ash in Ojai

Photo: Santa Barbara Country Fire Department

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Thomas Fire has burned more than 230,000 acres across Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, becoming the fourth-largest wildfire in California history.

In the city of Ventura, more than 500 structures have been destroyed and over 100 damaged. While Bank of Books and its sister store, Abednego Book Shoppe, have not been harmed directly, Bank of Books has been forced to close at various times due to smoke and fire danger and, according to co-owner Clarey Rudd, staff members "were greatly affected with loss of living place or [are] dealing with health issues caused by the air and stress."

Rudd and his colleagues are starting their own relief efforts. They plan to collect around 10,000 books to give to families who have lost their homes, with special bags of books going to children and others specifically to children in foster care. They also plan to co-sponsor a benefit concert to raise funds for the community. Rudd can be reached at, and books can be sent to: Bank of Books, c/o Book Support, 748 E. Main, Ventura, Calif. 93001.

"I hope the publishing world will help us as we put these free book packets together," wrote Rudd. "This will be a long recovery time for Ventura."

The stores' sales have also been hugely affected in what would normally be the busiest time of the year. In an effort to raise cash as soon as possible, Bank of Books is selling gift cards and gift certificates at 50% off. Rudd and his staff are also encouraging customers who buy the discounted gift cards to donate as much of the money saved as possible to various relief organizations.

Further north in Ventura County in Ojai, outdoor used bookstore Bart's Books has been closed since last week, though the Thomas Fire has not entered Ojai proper. Manager Matt Henriksen reported that "air quality is still low," and the store itself is covered in ash from the fire. Henriksen added that he is currently waiting to hear from the store's insurance agency about coverage for clean up, and that "once the ash is removed and air quality improves, we will be open asap."

GLOW: Graphic Universe: Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

NYC's Book Culture Opens Fourth Store

Book Culture has opened its newest store, in Long Island City in Queens, N.Y. It's the first Book Culture outside Manhattan, where there are three locations, on the Upper West Side and near Columbia University.

The new Book Culture is about 2,300 square feet and in a growing formerly industrial neighborhood with a lot of new residential construction. It's just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan. The new Book Culture's address is 26-09 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, N.Y. 11101.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

UJA Honoring Don Weisberg and Matty Goldberg

Don Weisberg
Matty Goldberg

Congratulations to Don Weisberg and Matty Goldberg! In the spring, the Publishing Division of the United Jewish Appeal will honor Weisberg, president of Macmillan Publishers U.S., and will present the Harry Scherman Service Award to Goldberg, v-p, acquisitions and publisher development, at Ingram Content Group.

The awards--for professional and philanthropic achievements in the publishing industry--will be presented on Wednesday, April 25, at the Grand Hyatt New York. This year instead of a formal dinner, there will be "an elaborate cocktail reception," and dessert will be served during the program.

Obituary Note: Les Whitten

Les Whitten, "who shared a byline with Jack Anderson on a nationally syndicated newspaper column that mercilessly exposed Washington's foibles and frauds and who once even spied on J. Edgar Hoover," died December 1, the New York Times reported. He was 89. Whitten also wrote nearly a dozen political thrillers, horror and science fiction novels.

His books include the novels Conflict of Interest (1976), The Alchemist (1973), Moon of the Wolf (1967), and Moses: The Lost Book of the Bible (1999), as well as F. Lee Bailey (1971), a biography of the defense lawyer.

Anderson, who hired Whitten In 1969 just four months after inheriting the "Washington Merry-Go-Round" column from Drew Pearson, once told the Boston Globe: "Les Whitten is the best reporter in town."

Although Whitten was convinced he could make more money as a full-time author, "not every novelist could search for a scoop by going through a government official's garbage or staking out Hoover while looking into his private life and liaisons with his chief deputy and close associate, Clyde Tolson," the Times wrote. Whitten told Life magazine in 1972: "This job gives me a chance to do what I wanted to do all my newspaper life--knock the bleeding crap out of the people who are corrupting the country, and there are plenty of them."


Booksellers on the Radio: NHPR's 'Holiday Book Show 2017'

A New Hampshire Public Radio "popular holiday tradition" took place Monday, when Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, and Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, visited the studio to "look at the top books of 2017 and discuss best books for gift-giving... and receiving."

'A Look Inside Bookstore Bars'

"For some book lovers, booze and books go together like wine and cheese, and a number of venues are capitalizing on this pairing," SevenFifty Daily noted in featuring "a look inside bookstore bars."

Among the venues featured were "independent bookstore-bar hybrids" like Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Fla., which "skew more toward a bookstore and restaurant with a cocktail program"; Spotty Dog Books & Ale in Hudson, N.Y., which serves wine and beer with bar snacks; and Afterwords Café at Kramerbooks in Washington, D.C., offering a full food menu and coffee and cocktail menus.

Kramerbooks owner Steve Salis estimated that about 70% of his customers are D.C. locals: "It's truly a third place. That's what I think draws so many people to Kramer's--this cultural hub really resonates with our audience."

The newer Phoenix, Ariz., location for Changing Hands includes a book bar called First Draft. Co-owner Cindy Dach said, "We have a lot of online competition, and we're constantly asking the question, 'What is the bookstore 2.0; what is 4.0?' We figured by adding the beer and wine, it makes us a stronger community gathering place.... The new store... attracts all kinds of people because of the phenomenon of the bar in a bookstore."

At the Wild Detectives, Dallas, Tex., the bar shifts from coffee to alcohol throughout the course of the day. "In the morning, the crowd is more of the coffee drinker [type]," said general manager Victor Rimach-Vera. "It's calm [then], and we sell a few pastries and pies, but all of that changes after 6 p.m. We take the pastries away, we add all the herbs and the fruits on the top of the bar. It's more like a cocktail bar, but we still serve coffee and food."

Catherine Olah, the bar manager at BookBar in Denver, Colo., told SevenFifty Daily that sales from books and the wine bar even out: "During the holidays, the book side is way more profitable. And then the bar side stays pretty steady throughout.... We want to have a place where people can read and have a glass of wine."

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

At Chronicle Books:

Tessa Ingersoll has been promoted to associate director of international sales. Previously she was a senior international sales & marketing manager.

Lynda Zuber Sassi been appointed to director of international and subsidiary rights sales. Previously she was sales director, national specialty and mass market channel.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Esther Perel on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Esther Perel, author of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (Harper, $26.99, 9780062322586).

CBS This Morning: Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel (Scribner, $26, 9781501126062).

Sirius XM's Michelangelo Signorile: A.J. Jacobs, author of It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476734491).

Wendy Williams: Action Bronson, co-author of F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well (Abrams, $27.50, 9781419726552).

The View: Christian Siriano, author of Dresses to Dream About (Rizzoli, $45, 9780847858385).

Movies: The Phantom Tollbooth; Alita: Battle Angel

TriStar has announced that Matt Shakman will direct The Phantom Tollbooth, a live-action/hybrid adaptation of Norton Juster's classic children's book, Deadline reported. The artistic director of the Geffen Playhouse, Shakman spent five years as executive producer of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and directed two Game of Thrones episodes ("East Watch" and "The Spoils of War") last season. The script is by Michael Vukadinovich, and the current draft is a rewrite by Phil Johnston.

The film "will be made as hybrid/live action, because there are exotic characters in the parallel universe, including Tock, an oversized watchdog with a clock in his side, and The Humbug, a flying bug dressed in a suit and top hat," Deadline noted, adding that "the book, a staple of classrooms and libraries, has often been compared to the imagination of Alice in Wonderland."


The first trailer has been released for 20th Century Fox's upcoming epic thriller Alita: Battle Angel, based on the graphic novel series Gunnm by Yukito Kushiro, Deadline reported. Directed by Robert Rodriguez from a screenplay by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, the project stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson. Alita hits theaters July 20.

Books & Authors

Awards: NBCC John Leonard; Ruth Rendell

The National Book Critics Circle has announced finalists for this year's John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre. A panel of member-volunteers will read the finalists and select a winner, to be announced in January. The prize will be presented March 15 at the NBCC Awards ceremony in New York City. The 2017 finalists are:

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead)
Marlena by Julie Buntin (Holt)
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (Viking)
Whereas by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf)
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead)


Children's author Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon) won the Ruth Rendell Award for her "tireless championing of literacy throughout the U.K.," the Bookseller reported. The award, launched last year in memory of the author by the National Literacy Trust and Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, celebrates a writer who has done the most to champion literacy throughout the U.K. over the past year.

Award organizers said Cowell has "traveled the length and breadth of the U.K. to deliver reading for enjoyment and creative writing events and workshops to 15,000 school children" as well as acting as an ambassador for a "wealth of literacy campaigns" on behalf of charities and organizations. They also praised her judging of creative writing and drawing competitions for children.

Skip Prichard: Overcoming the Curse of Knowledge

Skip Prichard writes:

Most of my career has been in publishing. Whether legal publishing at LexisNexis or dissertations at ProQuest, I know the process from the inside. When I became the CEO of Ingram Content Group, I was thrust into the wholesale and distribution side of the book business. I'm now the CEO of OCLC, where we power libraries worldwide and even publish the Dewey Decimal System. I've keynoted conferences for years at ABA's Winter Institute, PubWest, ALA, IFLA, O'Reilly's Tools of Change and beyond. Of course, my blog has me interacting with bestselling authors every week.

Skip Prichard

So what does all that experience mean when crossing to the other side to become a first-time author? My first book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future, is being published February 6 by Hachette's Center Street imprint.

My publisher has been patient. I likely drove them crazy when I questioned the bibliographic data for the book and when I asked why Lightning Source wasn't printing the galleys. We both have encountered the curse of knowledge--when you assume the other party knows what you do--along the way. I've had to slow them down when we were discussing areas of marketing that are new to me. On the other hand, I ran ahead of them and got a large number of high-profile endorsements--from former Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt, CBS's Lee Woodruff, Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife), former CEO of Campbell Soup Doug Conant and more.

At the same time, I know what many first-time authors don't know: that researching, writing, editing and polishing the final manuscript is only the tip of the iceberg. The harder work is ahead, and whether a book sells two copies or thousands is part art, part science and part magic. Though I have extensive national media in the works, I also know the importance of handselling a first-time author's book. I hope that the many talented booksellers I know will help me get the word out.

I feel like I'm on a roller coaster. If I knew nothing about the book industry, I think I would be excited by the ride--so far. Instead, I know that I'm creeping up one side, listening to the gears grinding, my jaw clenching in nervous anticipation of what's to come.

Throughout it all, I am still somehow enjoying the process--most of the time. Like any new parent, I'm anxious about my child's success.

Reading with... Caleb Zane Huett

photo: Savanna Sturkie

Caleb Zane Huett is the manager of Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga., and the author of Top Elf (Scholastic), a middle grade action/humor novel about a competition to become the next Santa Claus. He's also the host of two video game culture podcasts: You're Too Show, a comedic exploration of Sonic the Hedgehog's effect on the modern world, and Every Day's Great, a long-form study of the Persona video game series. His proudest accomplishment was singing backup on a song featured on Welcome to Night Vale. He's an Aries.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is a whole bookshelf on its own. Right now the closest to me are Dear Martin by Nic Stone, Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone and The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin. (So two "stone" authors and a book full of characters who can control stone with their minds. I guess I have a thing?)

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. I was obsessed with all of the Chronicles of Prydain. Where the story of King Arthur was too clean for me to get excited about, The Book of Three felt messy, weird and approachable. Alexander built a world that was serious and believable--and an adventure with high stakes and genuine tension--but also allowed it to be deeply, deeply silly. That's the real world, right? Scary and big, but made up of a bunch of ridiculous pieces. (Also, looking back now, I'm realizing the Horned King might have kicked off my obsession with characters who have antlers. There is nothing cooler than a big pair of antlers!!!)

Your top five authors: 

Oh geez. I think I've probably covered several of them in this list, but here are some that I haven't mentioned in the other questions, and some good books you should read: Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts), Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake), Adam Gidwitz (The Inquisitor's Tale), Rainbow Rowell (Carry On) Eleanor Davis (How to Be Happy).

Book you've faked reading:

Atlas Shrugged. It was required in a high school class--no thanks!!!! Even then, I wasn't interested in any philosophy that didn't value caring and kindness. We should protect each other.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. I think I've sold more of these at Avid than any other single book. A queer math genius rises through the ranks of an invading empire and tries to tear it apart from the inside! Can you ever truly hold power within a system that marginalizes who you are? Can you really change a broken government from the inside? How much of yourself can you give away before you aren't yourself anymore? Baru addresses these questions with a hero who wouldn't normally be given the spotlight in a fantasy story. Plus, I accidentally learned a little bit about how economies work, which is not something I expected from a page-turning thriller. I've never read another book in my life that so clearly lays out what's coming from the very first page but still manages to surprise you with every twist.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Simon Stålenhag's Tales from the Loop and its sequel, Things from the Flood. Stålenhag has created an alternate Sweden where typical childhood mundanity lives right next door to wild futuristic technology, and in doing so makes some beautiful statements on the nature of growing up. Tales from the Loop's cover perfectly captures that balance: a kid from a rural neighborhood getting in trouble for messing around in a field... and controlling a giant robot.

Book you hid from your parents:

We had a pretty open household--my parents were happy that I was reading, no matter what it was--but I read a lot of comics and fanfiction online with gay characters. Before I came out to them, I was petrified they'd walk in while I was reading about cute cartoon boys falling in love.

Book that changed your life:

Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic. I gobbled up dozens of Discworld novels when I was in middle- and high school. Pratchett helped me understand and hone my love of approaching serious subjects with silliness, and treating the silly very seriously. I fell in love with Pratchett's world immediately, and read mostly his books for over a year. I'll carry that with me forever.

Favorite line from a book:

"I am Sailor Moon, champion of justice! On behalf of the moon, I will right wrongs and triumph over evil, and that means you!" --Sailor Moon, from Sailor Moon Vol. 1

Five books you'll never part with:

Suzanne Collins was the first person to tell me Top Elf was getting published--in a signed copy of The Hunger Games! So I'm definitely holding on to that one. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season and my box set of the first seven Pokemon Adventures manga by Hidenori Kusaka & Mato.

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

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. Queer people lost a huge chunk of our history to the AIDS epidemic, and he honors that with a beautiful book about modern queer kids told with the voices of those lost members of our culture. It's gorgeous, and a book that holds up to re-reads anyway, but the first time I felt like I was joining something bigger than myself.

Book that was a guilty pleasure:

I don't really believe in guilty pleasures. Like what you like, and approach what you like honestly! I do read a lot of Star Wars books, though, and as a bookseller... well, I have a lot of other things I could be reading. I definitely recommend any of Claudia Gray's additions to the canon, though: Lost Stars, Bloodline and Leia, Princess of Alderaan.

Book Review

YA review: The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Flatiron, $16.99 hardcover, 368p., ages 13-up, 9781250147905, January 30, 2018)

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother Ella have always "lived like vagrants, staying with friends till [their] welcome wore through at the elbows, perching in precarious places, then moving on." As they move, bad luck follows. Houses flood on rainless nights. Wildcats creep into their trailer and pee on their belongings. Ceilings cave in. But when a mysterious message arrives at their temporary home in New York City, telling them that Alice's grandmother Althea Proserpine has died, Ella and Alice think their luck may have changed. Althea, hidden away for years at her estate in upstate New York, the Hazel Wood, was the reclusive author of a book of dark fairy tales. This book, Tales from the Hinterland, has a cult following of "deep fan[s]"--readers so involved that they make desperate efforts to find their way into the Hinterland, the "strange and dangerous and far from home" supernatural world where the stories are set. Alas, Alice and Ella's bad luck is not destined to evaporate. Ella disappears, leaving Alice a message: "stay the hell away from the Hazel Wood." In spite of (or perhaps because of) this message, Alice determines to track her mother down: "My situation hit me hard. Homeless. Unable to reach my mom. Being stalked by something I couldn't see the breadth of or understand." Reluctantly pairing up with a deep fan classmate named Finch who is obsessed with the theories surrounding Hinterland, Alice begins her long, tortuous journey to the truth about her own past.

Melissa Albert's contemporary fantasy dwells in an atmospheric, intertwining world of terrifying circumstances, whether in the streets of New York City or the mystical kingdom of the Hinterland. The brothers Grimm have nothing on Althea Proserpine when it comes to disturbing, grisly fairy tales. The Hazel Wood's spooky setting meshes with the snappy dialogue--"This isn't fate, Finch, this is getting bullied by supernatural a**holes"--in a way that would work perfectly on the big screen. Conveniently, Sony Pictures has already acquired the film rights. Readers will appreciate popular cultural references to luminaries such as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Francesca Lia Block and meta comments about Alice's situation: "I blinked away the fairy cobwebs. This wasn't a book, this was life."

The Hazel Wood, Albert's debut novel, is a breathtaking dive into the magic and importance of story in one's identity. "Story is the fabric of the Hinterland," one of the residents tells Alice. While stories are being told, another says, they "create the energy that makes this world go. They keep our stars in place." If this is so, Albert's exquisite wordsmithing and story weaving have certainly kept the stars aloft for a new generation of readers. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: In this contemporary fantasy, 17-year-old Alice is forced to enter the dark fairy-tale world of her grandmother's creation to find her mother--and her own story.

Powered by: Xtenit