Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

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

Quotation of the Day

Each Indie Bookshop 'Feels Like Hallowed Ground'

"We North Carolinians support more than 60 independent bookshops, and each one feels like hallowed ground to those who frequent it. Inside, there is the promise of more to see and learn than you can possibly absorb; there is the promise that you will most certainly find something.... Now, I live surrounded by independent bookstores--all unique, all old friends, all with great stories to tell.... The people who work at these bookshops are readers, too, and they introduce customers to books the same way you might try to match one friend with another....

"We live in a time when it's so easy to go online and order anything or just download whatever title and be done with it. But you miss so much by not physically pushing open a door with jingling bells, welcoming you into a community, and maybe even a conversation. And while you scan the shelves in search of what you came for, you discover the book you've never even heard of, but needed to find at just that moment. The experience is magical, enlightening, and, yes, intimate."

--Author Jill McCorkle in a piece for Our State magazine headlined "The Magic of a Local Bookshop"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile


Shakespeare & Co. to Open Three New Bookstores

Shakespeare & Co. in New York City plans to open three new bookstores and a stand-alone café in what the company, which currently operates a Lexington Avenue store across from Hunter College, describes as "the initial phase of a larger planned expansion." Each bookstore will be about 3,000 square feet and feature "well-stocked and exquisitely curated" book inventory, a literary café with seating and wi-fi, and Espresso Book Machine.

The new locations include a bookstore on Manhattan's Upper West Side at 2020 Broadway (between 69th and 70th Streets) and in Greenwich Village at 450 Sixth Avenue near 11th Street. Both are slated to open during the fourth quarter of 2018. In addition, this summer, Shakespeare & Co. will launch a small café outside the Hunter College Subway Station on the southeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 68th Street.

The third new Shakespeare & Co. bookstore is opening in Philadelphia this summer in the historic Rittenhouse Square shopping area at 1632 Walnut Street.

"My vision for Shakespeare & Co. has always been to create the biggest little bookshop in the world," said CEO Dane Neller. "Each new bookstore should be rooted in the local community and offer a cultural sanctuary where customers can escape from their daily routines, turn off their smart phones, relax, unwind, and indulge in the luxury of reading." Shakespeare & Co. plans to open additional stores in other markets in 2019 and beyond.

Neller, a founder of On Demand Books, parent company of the Espresso Book Machine, told the New York Times: "We're never going to beat Amazon at Amazon's game, but I think there is a craving for going back to the old New York."

ABA CEO Oren Teicher agreed: "In New York, it was never about attracting the customers but about the landlords who kept raising the rent. Independent bookstores play a vital role in communities. There's a passion and a knowledge about putting the right book into the customer's hand, and it's something we do far better than anyone else."

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno


In the early days of 2018, children's author/illustrator Grace Lin sat with a group of women colleagues and had a "conversation fueled by passion, anger, and heartbreak, but most of all by injustice." The concern was about the industry itself: "our children's literature community, a community that preaches to children about kindness and fairness, is egregiously not fair," she said in an open letter. Lin's letter asks, "Have you treated a male author as a 'rock star?' Have you declined a 'girl' book for your son or ignored an older woman? Have you minimized the concerns of a woman of color? What have you done or encouraged or defended that you feel uncomfortable about?" These questions, she hopes, will encourage conversation. And to help this discussion along, she and author Karen Blumenthal launched the #kidlitwomen initiative on March 1, to coincide with Women's History Month.

The intent is to use social media as a public forum to call "attention to the gender inequities of the children's literature community, uplifting those who have not received their due, and finding solutions to reach equality for all." With more than 3,000 followers on their Facebook page, the project consists of a series of pieces by women in the children's literature industry, all posted either directly on the #kidlitwomen Facebook page or to the author and/or illustrator's own website and compiled on the Facebook page. Shannon Hale kicked off the month with a story about presenting the third Princess Academy book to an assembly of kids grades 3-8 and the gender bias already present in the youngest of students. Other featured authors and illustrators include Young People's Poet Laureate Margarita Engle, Joyce M. Wan, Meg Medina and Diana Rodriguez Wallach. Check out the Facebook page or search #kidlitwomen on Twitter to join in the conversation. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

BookExpo: APA Author Tea Speakers

BookExpo has set the lineup for this year's Audio Publishers Association Author Tea, which will take place Friday, June 1, at 3 p.m. in the Javits Center. The event features authors Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer), Gayle Forman (If I Stay), Jason Fry (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), and actress Kathryn Hahn (My Wish for You). They will discuss their craft, creativity and inspiration, with a focus on on how the audiobook landscape continues to grow in importance to the publishing industry. The event's host has not yet been announced.

"Audiobooks experienced a huge boom in 2017 as the fastest growing segment in the digital publishing space. As audiobooks continue their rise, what better way to learn about the excitement of the format than to hear experiences from these four notable authors--all while enjoying a cup of tea," said APA executive director Michele Cobb.

Brien McDonald, event director for BookExpo and BookCon, commented: "The APA Author Tea offers the publishing industry a unique forum to celebrate the success of the audiobook market in a relaxed setting with an impressive lineup of authors talking about their works and experiences."

Obituary Note: Stephen W. Hawking

Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and bestselling author "who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity," died early this morning, the New York Times reported. He was 76.

"What a triumph his life has been," said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal of Britain and Hawking's longtime colleague. "His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his bestselling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds--a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination."

Hawking's landmark book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (1988), has sold more than 10 million copies, and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris as well as the Oscar-winning movie The Theory of Everything.

"Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes," the Times wrote, adding that his career defied the odds in that as a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and was given only a few years to live. Despite this, he "went on to become his generation's leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits so deep and dense that not even light can escape them."

Dr. Hawking's other books include The Grand Design (with Leonard Mlodinow); The Universe in a Nutshell; The Nature of Space and Time (with Roger Penrose); the George's Secret Key children's book series (with Lucy Hawking); Black Holes and Baby Universes; An Illustrated Brief History of Time; A Briefer History of Time (Bantam Press, 2005); and his memoir, My Brief History.

Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld, told the Bookseller: "It is truly our privilege to have been Stephen Hawking's publisher for the last three decades. He has increased the popular understanding of scientific theory like no-one else since Einstein. Not only was he one of the world's greatest thinkers, he was also a man with an infectious sense of mischief and wit."

Sidelines Snapshot: Magnets, Puzzles, Inkwells & Cards


At the start of the last holiday season, co-owner Danielle Foster and her staff at Bookworks in Albuquerque, N.Mex., realized there was a "shortage of puzzles in town." Toward the end of 2017, they brought in more puzzles--from children's puzzles through 5,000-piece puzzles--and they've been moving incredibly well. Bookworks has had success with offerings from vendors like Pomegranate and EuroGraphics, and around Christmas in particular sold a good many Springbok puzzles. Socks have been another relatively recent addition to the store. Foster said she resisted the idea of carrying socks for a while, but now she can't keep Sock it to Me socks in stock. Puppets made by FolkManis, Foster added, have been another popular addition.

Lucy Lu Designs

As for perennial sellers, Foster reported that she's "always shocked at the amount of cards we sell," and also pointed to magnets and calendars. Foster noted that she doesn't typically do political magnets, and instead prefers "artsy magnets" from Lucy Lu Designs, funny magnets from Ephemera Inc. and Breaking Bad-themed magnets made by a local artist, who also makes dish towels, T-shirts and mugs based on the show. Foster also stocks Frida Kahlo magnets from Mexican vendor Gusano de Luz that do well. Other local sidelines include lip balms and soaps made by a company called Laughing Turtle, and sage kits made in Santa Fe that "jump off the shelf."

At Roebling Point Books & Cafe in Covington, Ky., co-owner Richard Hunt reported that cards made by local artists and photographers outsell other types of greeting cards by "four or five to one," and expected that a similar ratio would hold true for most booksellers around the country. Hunt carries a local version of the board game Monopoly called Covington-opoly, which features his bookstore as one of the spaces on the board and was made by board game company Late for the Sky. Hunt explained that it was commissioned as a fundraiser by local community group Renaissance Covington, and though the fundraiser has ended, he has since reordered the board game, with a royalty going to Renaissance Covington.

One thing that Hunt's store "came to later" was vintage inkwells, which he said pair up with the store's antiquarian stock very well and are almost as much about decor as about sales. He sells them usually for three figures each, and while they may not move as quickly as other items, they "show up more in social media feeds than anything else in the store," with customers taking pictures of them "all day long." He said he felt they had an additional, non-monetary value, partly as a way for the store to "differentiate" itself. Hunt does not have a reliable source of supply for the inkwells, as he procures them himself, often through online searches. But those searches can also yield other popular, distinctive items, such as cachets of old postcards.

Valley Cruise Press

In Bozeman, Mont., some of the Country Bookshelf's bestselling lines of nonbook items include the "usual standards"--cards and magnets. Owner Ariana Paliobagis explained that locally made cards tend to be the store's bestselling cards, and popular lines of magnets include those made by magnetic poetry, Yay! Magnets (of which Paliobagis said she was initially skeptical but has "reordered and reordered them ad nauseum") and magnets from a local artist who carves images into stones. In recent months, Paliobagis has been gradually expanding the store's sideline offerings, and newer additions include chocolates made by Theo Chocolate, which have done "phenomenally well," and enamel pins from Peter Pauper Press and Valley Cruise Press.


Paliobagis has also experimented with bringing in more fun, lighthearted sidelines, from games and toys to funny office supplies. She's had success with finger and hand puppets made by Canadian company Cate and Levi, posters by Obvious State, cord wraps from Bobino and otter-shaped tape dispensers by a company called Streamline. Of the tape dispensers, Paliobagis said they "sell immediately," and added that whenever she puts Obvious State posters in a window display, they do extremely well. Looking ahead, Paliobagis said her next sidelines experiment would likely be candles from Frostbeard Studio. --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: George Carroll's 'Opening Farewell' Tour

Earlier this month, in the Bay Area on his "Last Hurrah/Farewell/Opening Farewell/Last Waltz Tour," independent publishers rep George Carroll joined local booksellers at Café Zoetrope in North Beach for what was officially a group buy but was more of a celebration. From l.: Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Bookstore; Carroll; Ann Leyhe, Mrs. Dalloway's; Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books; Marion Abbott, Mrs. Dalloway's; John Gibbs, Green Apple Books on the Park; Brad Johnson, East Bay Booksellers; and John Evans, Diesel: A Bookstore.

'Behind the Small Business': East City Bookshop

Laurie Gillman

Laurie Gillman, owner of East City Bookshop in Washington, D.C., was interviewed for The Hill Is Home's "Behind the Small Business" series. Among our favorite responses: 

How did you decide on opening a bookstore?
In early 2015, I decided I was ready for a career change and wanted to own my own business. Ever since Trover Shop Bookstore closed in 2009, there were no new book stores in Capitol Hill--or Eastern D.C. for that matter. I believed there was a strong desire and customer base just waiting us for to open, and many friends and neighbors who gave me feedback confirmed it.

What sets East City Book Shop apart from your online competition?
I think people look at bookstores as a community center, not just a ploy to buy things. That's why we try to make community our main focus, with author talks, book clubs, musical acts, private events, etc. And believe it or not, more bookstores are currently opening than closing nationwide.

Do you think your staff contributes to that as well?
Absolutely. When we interview potential employees, we ask them all about what they like to read and what they've read recently. Our customers can be assured that whenever they visit us, they'll be helped by someone who knows and loves books. We'll also match our customers with different booksellers based on who best matches the genre or category they're interested in.

What advice would you give to prospective business owners?
I'd say two things, slightly contradictory. Both are important! First, be objective: Don't convince yourself of what you hope will be true or will work. Make sure your plan is solid, set guidelines for yourself, and be able to let it go if it truly won't work. At the opposite end of that, don't be too cautious. At some point you just have to take the leap. You can't learn and prepare for every aspect before just doing it.

Personnel Changes at Scholastic

Stephanie Smirnov has joined Scholastic as executive v-p and head of global corporate communications. She was most recently managing director, brand practice at Edelman New York. Earlier she was CEO for the U.S. region of DeVries Global and held executive communications positions at L'Oréal USA and Donna Karan International.

Book Series Trailer of the Day: The Unicorn Rescue Society

The Unicorn Rescue Society series, focusing on mythical creatures and their cultures of origin, by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly (Dutton Books for Young Readers). The first two titles in the series are The Creature of the Pines and The Basque Dragon (by Gidwitz and Jesse Casey).

Media and Movies

TV: Poetry in America

A trailer has been released for Poetry in America, a production for Poetry Month from PBS-member station WGBH that "gathers distinguished interpreters from all walks of life to explore and debate 12 unforgettable American poems. Athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages join together with host and Harvard professor Elisa New to experience and share the power of poetry." The series premieres on public television stations beginning March 28 and runs through May 2.

Poetry in America features poems ranging from Emily Dickinson's "I cannot dance upon my toes," with Cynthia Nixon, Marie Howe, Yo Yo Ma and Jill Johnson; to Edward Hirsch's "Fast Break," with Shaquille O’Neal, Edward Hirsch, Shane Battier, Pau Gasol and "a chorus of pick-up basketball players"; to Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Alexander, Angela Duckworth "and a chorus of working fathers and sons," and much more.

Books & Authors

Awards: Women's Fiction Longlist; Jane Grigson Trust Winner

The longlist has been revealed for the £30,000 (about $41,875) Women's Prize for Fiction, which celebrates "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world." A shortlist will be announced April 23 and the winner named June 6. The longlisted books are:

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


Angela Clutton won the £2,000 (about $2,800) Jane Grigson Trust Award, created in memory of the British food writer to recognize "a first-time writer of a book about food or drink which has been commissioned but has not yet been published," for The Vinegar Cupboard.

Chair of judges Geraldene Holt commented: "One of the many qualities of Jane Grigson's writing was her mission to explain. Angela Clutton's book is in this tradition. She explores the surprisingly broad spectrum of vinegars from around the world and rescues this essential yet often under-rated ingredient from the back of the kitchen cupboard.... This informative and inspirational book will be a valuable addition to every cook's library."

Reading with... Matt Young

photo: Tara Monterosso

Matt Young is a Marine Corps veteran, teacher and writer. His work can be found in Incoming: Veteran Writers on Coming Home, Consequence magazine, Split Lip, Word Riot, Tin House, River Teeth and many others. He teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Centralia College in Washington State. He is the author of Eat the Apple (Bloomsbury, February 27, 2018), a multi-genre flash nonfiction war memoir about his three combat deployments to Iraq between 2005 and 2009.

On your nightstand now:

I always have a few. I'm rereading The Horse Latitudes by Matthew Robinson. It's a novel about cavalry soldiers in Iraq. It has a fever dream quality that I love, the dialogue is snappy and it's doing some pretty interesting things with form and content as well. I've been reading poems from Ada Limón's Bright Dead Things for my lyrical fix. Also, my wife is about 28 weeks pregnant with our first child, so I've been reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit aloud to her belly at night to get the kid used to my voice.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Tiny Matt loved The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg. For every birthday I hoped I'd have some weird relative show up and give me an egg that would hatch into a giant monster that would do my bidding--still holding out. Also, preteen Matt was a big R.L. Stine fan. You know. The classics. Say Cheese and Die, Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask (which would subsequently turn out to be the best television adaptation of any of the stories). The book that moved me into more advanced material was Grendel by John Gardner. Pubescent Matt really identified with that misunderstood monster.

Your top five authors:

Disclaimer: This is sure to change almost immediately. Stephen King for keeping me up until dawn when I was a teenager. Denis Johnson for lyrical, glorious sentences. Annie Proulx for her attention to and love of character and place. Junot Díaz for beautiful voices and explorations of masculinity I desperately needed as a younger man. Han Kang for The Vegetarian, which was so bizarre and gorgeous I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I read it last year.

Book you've faked reading:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I could not for the life of me make it through that book. As a young dude writer I felt like I was supposed to love Kerouac, and because I didn't, I also felt like some kind of fraud because of how hard young dude writers in creative writing classes often fan-boy him. So I used to nod and smile and say things about loving the stream of consciousness or whatever. But I don't care for him and I've since given up trying.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I worked at Borders in 2010 and a coworker recommended it after she saw me reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman during break. From then on, I rec'd it way too enthusiastically to every customer I saw wandering through the fantasy and sci-fi section. It still has my glowing recommendation. Hi, I'm Matt, welcome to Borders, have you heard of Patrick Rothfuss?!

Book you've bought for the cover:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Black cover, white lettering. It looked mysterious--like, damn, what could be in there that this book cover can just be plain as all hell? I feel like his books always have really great covers.

Book you hid from your parents:

I snuck Pet Sematary by Stephen King into a stack of books my mom was buying when I was pretty young. It scared the ever-loving crap out of me. The scene where Louis is walking through the woods over the deadfalls and the Wendigo-demon-thing is just beyond the veil? Damn. But I didn't want to tell my parents, so I spent some sleepless nights holed up in my room with the lights blazing.

Book that changed your life:

Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. It's one of the first books I can remember reading that would be categorized as creative nonfiction today. The way Kingston blends myth, identity and history is beautiful. The entire story as this thing you're not even supposed to know from the get-go felt illicit and intimate like some kind of whisper--I loved that.

Favorite line from a book:

"Our eyes register the light of dead stars." It's the opening line from André Schwarz-Bart's The Last of the Just. I read it maybe eight years ago and I still think about it at least once a month. There's a portion of the book where the main character comes to think of himself as a dog and my heart cracked a bit at that loss of humanity, and then I recalled that first line and my heart broke the rest of the way because I knew I should've seen it coming. It made me think about my own life as something foreseeable.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston for being the book that changed the way I understood what a memoir could be. In Pharaoh's Army by Tobias Wolff for the multitudes of feeling coming out of the pages--it came as a recommendation to me when I was trying to figure out how to become human again after the Marine Corps, and it helped me understand that I could be proud of my service and conflicted as hell about it the same time. The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek for changing my mind about the Midwest after I ran away from it. Close Range by Annie Proulx--every story a punch to the solar plexus. I've had the same copy of Grendel by John Gardner for 20 years. It might be my oldest surviving book--it was the first thing I bought with my employee discount from the children's bookstore I worked at when I was 14.

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

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I read it the year after I left the Marines. I was in an airport--airports always make me emotional--going to visit family when I bought it. It wrecked me. It was the book that made me want to write.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales...

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (Young Readers) by Sam Kean (Little, Brown, $17.99 hardcover, 240p., ages 10-up, 9780316388283, April 3, 2018)

A "treasure trove of all our passions and obsessions," the periodic table of the elements is more than a turreted catalogue of the different kinds of matter in the universe. "The periodic table is... an anthropologic marvel, a human artifact that reflects all of the wonderful and artful and ugly aspects of human beings and how we interact with the physical world--the history of our species written in a compact and elegant script." In the young readers edition of his bestselling The Disappearing Spoon, science writer Sam Kean (Caesar's Last Breath; The Violinist's Thumb) presents the wide-ranging history, conflict, rumors and science behind each element, from discovery to present-day use.

Kean tells of bitter custody battles over element discoveries; fierce competition among nations and individual scientists to claim naming rights; and sometimes humorous, often insanely dangerous exploits in the name of science or power or greed. During the 1990s, for example, a 16-year-old Boy Scout decided to try to solve the world's energy crisis by building a nuclear reactor in his backyard shed, gathering radioactive elements from wholesalers and cut-open batteries. Further back, in the sixth century BC, after a Babylonian king had his palace walls painted yellow with an antimony-lead paint mixture, he went mad. Antimony, or element 51, needless to say, is highly toxic. In another Poe-worthy tale, a plot was hatched (but never carried out) by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro by sprinkling his socks with a talcum powder laced with thallium (element 81), also known as the "poisoner's poison." And, yes, it is possible to make a spoon disappear in your cup of tea, as long as that spoon is made of the easily meltable element 31, gallium.

The Disappearing Spoon, like the periodic table of elements, is laid out in a careful, systematic way. Five sections are divided into several chapters each, and Kean includes a glossary and the periodic table itself, which readers will flip back to again and again as they work their way through the building blocks of matter. Line drawings and sidebars illustrate and elucidate the material, while entertaining tidbits threaded through the narrative make The Disappearing Spoon more accessible for nonscientists who might otherwise be overwhelmed by the serious science within.

The Disappearing Spoon reveals how gloriously and dangerously intertwined everything truly is, and not just chemically speaking. Kean wraps his exploration of elements in history, politics, mythology, biology, etymology, medicine, warmongering, philosophy and more. He writes, "I realized that there's a funny, or odd, or chilling tale attached to every element on the periodic table. At the same time, the table is one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind. It's both a scientific accomplishment and a storybook...." This "storybook" will encourage young readers to brave the elements of science. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: With wit and scientific savvy, Sam Kean tells the stories behind each of the elements in the periodic table in this middle-grade adaptation of The Disappearing Spoon.

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