Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Quotation of the Day

James Daunt: 'Work Very Hard & Respect the Customer'

"Really work very hard and respect the customer. If you do all those things and are friendly, then it's going to be fine. If you don't respect the customer and aren't interesting and lively with them, then Amazon will take you out of business."

--James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones and founder of Daunt Books, in response to the Guardian's question: "What would your top advice to an independent bookseller be?"

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Alex George to Open Unbound Books in Columbia, Mo.

Alex George

Novelist and Unbound Book Festival founder Alex George plans to open a new bookstore, Unbound Books, in mid-August on Ninth Street in Columbia, Mo. Carrie Koepke will manage the store. The Missourian reported that George "sees it as complementary to the three-year-old book festival," which takes place April 19-21. The festival's success was part of his inspiration for opening Unbound Books, since attendees had described a potential independent bookstore as "the last piece in the jigsaw," he said.

The 3,000-square-foot bookstore will be a space where authors can do readings and signings, and where community members can participate in book clubs. "One of the great things about bookstores as opposed to online retailers is that personal connection you are able to make with booksellers or with authors," George said.

He also hopes the relationship with nearby Yellow Dog Bookshop, which sells used books, "will be collaborative," since he and Yellow Dog owner Joe Chevalier are already well-acquainted. "My view is that we will complement each other," George noted. "It will be nice to think that Ninth Street will become a destination for book buyers, and certainly if we don't have a book in stock then my first suggestion will be to send them next door to see if Joe has it."

Chevalier agreed that new and used bookstores can make a nice pairing: "I am excited to see an independent new bookstore coming to downtown Columbia. Columbia is a highly literate community, and I like to think it can keep all the bookstores in town afloat."

George also cited Junot Diaz's keynote during this year's ABA Winter Institute as an inspiration for both himself and Koepke: "Diverse books are becoming critically important, and it is important children are able to open a book and see themselves within the pages of that book. That is not always the case, but it needs to be and it's something we are committed to."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

MIBA, GLIBA Issue Statement Supporting Endangered UPKY

Administrators at the University of Kentucky have begun making budget cuts, and among the possible targets is the entire budget of the University Press of Kentucky. Yesterday, the boards of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association issued a joint statement in support of the publisher, which said in part: 

"The defunding of the University Press of Kentucky (UPKY) is an action that we condemn in the strongest possible terms.... This resolute, joint statement of support for the publishing program of the UPKY is consistent with our shared mission--the promotion of literacy, education, and the right of free expression. On behalf of our members, we recognize the unique contribution of UPKY's regional publishing program, as regional books represent a significant contribution to every bookstore in the United States.... We ask that the Kentucky legislature restore the funding of the UPKY immediately."

The statement also quoted Michael Boggs, co-owner of the three Carmichael's Bookstores in Louisville: "The recent decision by the governor of my state, Kentucky, to completely defund the University Press of Kentucky sounds a death knell for a concern that has for 75 years provided its citizens and libraries with books of history, fiction, biography, nature, food, music, and folklore that spotlight the culture of my state. As a bookseller here for 40 years, I have witnessed first-hand the high level of interest among my customers in books from the University Press of Kentucky, because nowhere else can they get essential stories of the place they call home. This decision is shortsighted and imprudent, robbing the citizens of Kentucky of connection to their land, their history, and their traditions and customs."

Nathan Montoya, owner of Village Lights Bookstore, Madison, Ind., commented: "Titles from the University Press of Kentucky are part of the life blood of Village Lights Bookstore.... The loss of these titles would diminish not only the richness of our store's offerings, but the literary and cultural heritage of our entire region."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Becky Anderson Loses Crowded Congressional Primary

Becky Anderson

Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville, Downers Grove and La Grange, Ill., fought the good fight but was unable to win the Democratic primary in Illinois's 6th Congressional district yesterday. It was a crowded field--she had six opponents--all battling to run in November against Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. As of early this morning, with most precincts reporting, she had 6% of the vote; the winner received 28%.

A Naperville City Councilor and former president of the American Booksellers Association, Anderson began her campaign last July, saying, in part, "In Congress, I will lead on the issues that impact this district every day. I will continue my advocacy on behalf of high-quality childhood education and literacy. I will fight for women's reproductive rights and a fully-funded Planned Parenthood. And I will put the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs above an obsession with granting tax breaks to big corporations."

Jaime Green Named NYTBR Romance Columnist

Jaime Green

Jaime Green has been named romance columnist for the New York Times Book Review. The quarterly romance column will debut in the Summer Reading issue of the Book Review in June. A writer, editor and teacher, Green has written about books for numerous publications, including Slate, Vulture, Thrillist, Electric Literature, the Morning News, Unbound Worlds and BuzzFeed. Previously, she was the managing editor of Google Play Editorial, where she oversaw original content for Google Play Books and interviewed authors for the Talks at Google series. She is a contributing editor at Catapult and the series editor for Best American Science and Nature Writing.

"We're thrilled to have Jaime writing about romance for the Times," said Tina Jordan, the editor who will oversee the column. "This is an enormous and rich genre brimming with novels that celebrate women, love, sex and--last but definitely not least--equality. Jaime's a wide-ranging reader, and she'll be diving into as many sub-genres as she can."

Green said she "came relatively late to reading romance, but I realize I was primed for it by my teenage near-obsession with Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series. But in the last several years, romance has become a beloved and important part of my reading life. It's where I find some of the literary world's smartest, funniest and most thoughtful writing about relationships--romantic relationships, of course, but friendship and family, too. Romance balances escapist fantasy with astute reflection on the real world, providing a lens through which we can think about love, sex, money, politics, relationships and power. These books hold the whole world in them, and with the promise of a happy ending, they give us the hope and happiness we need to stay optimistic in a challenging world."

Obituary Note: Russell Freedman

Russell Freedman

Russell Freedman, an award-winning author of nonfiction books for young readers, died March 16. He was 88. His first book, Teenagers Who Made History, was published by Holiday House in 1961. He went on to publish more than 60 titles on subjects ranging from animal behavior to American history to artistic portraits of Martha Graham and Marian Anderson. The Sinking of the Vasa, an illustrated picture book, will be published posthumously by Henry Holt.

Freedman's work has garnered numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography and three Newbery Honors, for Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery; The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane; and The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. He was honored twice at the White House, and also received the Regina Medal, the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture Award, the Orbis Pictus Award, the Sibert Medal, a Sibert Honor, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for "a lasting and substantial contribution to children's books" and the National Humanities Medal.

In 2000, he published Holiday House: The First Sixty-Five Years, a history of the independently owned children's book publisher. John Briggs, who was at the helm of Holiday House for more than 50 years, said, "My relationship with Russell spanned 51 years. His record speaks for itself. Perhaps not so apparent are his character and integrity, which are as evident in his work as is his talent as a writer. He was a dear friend, a blessing in my life."

Mary Cash, his editor at Holiday House, said, "Editing Russell was a privilege and a joy. Each of his books illuminated the topic and provided multiple alternative perspectives, all in stunning, crystal clear prose. On top of that he was one of the loveliest and most conscientious people I've ever met."

Dinah Stevenson, his editor at Clarion Books, said Freedman was "the consummate professional. Every brilliant manuscript he delivered was in perfect order, complete with back matter and images. Some 30 years ago, I was timid about offering editorial suggestions to such a luminary, but he welcomed my input and trusted my judgment. He dedicated his last Clarion title to me, an honor I cherish. He was a dear friend and I will miss him."


Image of the Day: Books & Beer

The Book Table in Oak Park, Ill., sponsors a reading series called Authors on Tap, hosted at a local beer shop. The latest program--seventh in the series--featured Charles Finch, whose new novel is The Woman in the Water (Minotaur), in conversation with Lori Rader-Day.

Archestratus Books & Foods 'Is Building a Community'

Archestratus Books & Foods in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood "is building a community through affordable dinners and clubs," amNewYork reported, adding that owner Paige Lipari's business, which opened in 2015, is "dedicated to cookbooks and titles about food."

"I come from a poetry background, so I'm always going to be obscure," Lipari said regarding the shop's namesake, an ancient Sicilian poet who is considered the author of one of the world's first cookbooks. "I really believe that cookbooks are like personal documents; the most appealing thing to me is the voice behind the cookbook, and even though Archestratus is from 350 BCE, he is really funny."

In addition to its cookbook selection, Archestratus is also focused on building a community, which includes hosting a pop-up dinner series, "regularly serving inexpensive Sicilian dinners prepared by Lipari, for no more than $20," amNew York wrote.

"It can be cheap to have a meal when everyone's eating the same thing," she said.

The tables in the back cafe are filled with locals for lunch, as well as people attending trivia night, craft night, cookbook club or social activism events. "I loved the idea of designing and creating a space and a community space for people to come together," Lipari added. "Coffee shops used to have that energy, but now everyone just sits very quietly at their laptops. I wanted a space for people to sit down at a table and have a meeting of some kind."

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Second Flight Books

Second Flight Books, Lafayette, Ind., shared a photo on Facebook of its latest sidewalk chalkboard offering, noting: "We're thinking Spring, even though it's still pretty chilly. Can't wait for afternoons on the porch reading books."

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins; Scholastic

Brian Perrin has been promoted to v-p, marketing for Harper Business and Harper Wave. He joined HarperCollins in 2012 as part of the corporate digital marketing department, and in 2015, he moved to the Harper Group to lead the marketing efforts for Harper Business and Harper Wave.


Crystal McCoy has joined Scholastic Trade as publicity manager. Most recently, she was a senior publicist with Bonnier's little bee books/Sizzle Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Katie Nicholl on the Talk

The Talk: Katie Nicholl, author of Harry: Life, Loss, and Love (Hachette Books, $27, 9781602865266).

TV: A Suitable Boy

Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Queen of Katwe) is "on the verge of completing a deal to direct the BBC and Lookout Point TV adaptation of Vikram Seth's bestselling novel A Suitable Boy," Deadline reported. The series is being adapted by Andrew Davies (BBC's War and Peace, House of Cards).

Books & Authors

Awards: Audie Finalists; IBPA Ben Franklin Finalists; Wellcome Book Shortlist

The Audio Publishers Association has announced the Audie Award finalists in four categories. The winners of the three excellence awards will be revealed at the APA's conference May 30 in New York and the winner of the Audiobook of the Year award will be named at the Audie Awards Gala on May 31. For a full list of finalists, click here.

Nominees for Audiobook of the Year are:

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood written and narrated by Trevor Noah (Audible Studios)
Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force, Book 1 by Craig Alanson, narrated by R.C. Bray (Podium Publishing)
The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition by Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin, narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, and a full cast (Audible Studios)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by George Saunders, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, and 163 others (Random House Audio)
The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, written and narrated by Paula Poundstone (HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books)


The Independent Book Publishers Association has announced finalists in 54 categories for the 30th Benjamin Franklin Award Program for Excellence in Independent Book Publishing. Gold and Silver winners to be announced April 6 during a gala dinner ceremony in conjunction with IBPA Publishing University in Austin, Texas. Finalists can be seen here.


A six-book shortlist, featuring five titles by women and four debuts, was released for the £30,000 (about $41,995) Wellcome Book Prize, "celebrating the best new books that illuminate our encounters with health, medicine and illness." The winner will be announced April 30. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)
The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris (U.S.)
With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix (U.K.)
To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell (Ireland)
Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing (U.K./Sweden)
The Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman (U.S./Canada)

Reading with... Chelsey Johnson

photo: Kara Thompson

Chelsey Johnson received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Teaching Writing Fellow, and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Ninth Letter, the Rumpus and NPR's Selected Shorts, among others. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Signal Fire Arts. Born and raised in northern Minnesota, she now lives in Richmond, Va., and is an assistant professor of English at the College of William & Mary. Stray City (Custom House/HarperCollins, March 6, 2018) is her debut novel.

On your nightstand now:

The stack is precarious. I just finished the wildly liberated and clever and sexy Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor, and that's still hanging out there with me because it feels like a friend. On top of it is another pink book, Lucia Berlin's A Manual for Cleaning Women, which a student gave me as a thank-you gift. I'm savoring the stories in Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado--that one migrates around the house with me. Two books I'm re-reading, dipping in and out of, are Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer and Proxies by Brian Blanchfield; they're both poets writing prose and I love following the paths of their sentences. And I'm about to crack open Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell so many times I lost count. I flipped through a copy at a thrift store recently and realized that it's quite a powerful little novel--it's about human cruelty and kindness, abuse of power, animal consciousness, class. I suspect it shaped my early sense of social justice and animal ethics more than I'd ever thought to give credit for. And in horse POV, no less!

Your top five authors:

When I try to narrow this down in the grand scope of all literature, I'm helpless. So how about this: five authors I keep assigning because I can re-read them every semester, tirelessly: the ever-revelatory James Baldwin, Kelly Link, Deborah Eisenberg, Alexander Chee and ZZ Packer. No one writes a tauter sentence nor scalpels into American identity more astutely than Baldwin. The exuberantly inventive Link always blows open new pathways in my mind; there's this rollercoaster pleasure in her stories. Eisenberg is the subtext master, and her stories are my dialogue school. Alexander Chee beautifully captures the complexity of intersecting identities; his fiction resonates like life and his nonfiction captivates like story. Packer is one of the best writers of the character-driven story I've read, complicated and deeply humane and wryly funny, and I think it'd be fair to call Drinking Coffee Elsewhere the first classic of the millennium.

The five writers I'm most excited about right now are Alice Sola Kim, whose writing is vibrant and fabulist and intense, she's published several stories and I'm dying for her to come out with a book; Nafissa Thompson-Spires, whose forthcoming debut story collection is so smart and hard-hitting and funny; Kiese Laymon, who models this uniquely warm, deeply empathetic yet unapologetic critique both in his writing and in his prolific Facebook posts; Cathy Park Hong, a brilliant poet who's now turned to essays that are on fire; and Kara Thompson, whose forthcoming Blanket deftly intertwines the intellectual and the personal--theory, history, art, memoir--to cast this seemingly familiar object in all kinds of surprising new light. Once you read it, you see blankets everywhere.

Book you've faked reading:

Honestly, I never fake it. I will even confess that I have never read a Faulkner novel. And I'm an English professor! I'm not proud. But I'm not ashamed, either. Faulkner gets plenty of attention. He'll be fine.

Book you're an evangelist for:

In 2017, I raved a lot about Whereas by Layli Long Soldier, who is such a thrilling, bold poet and captivating presence. For years I have pressed copies of the stunning essay "The Fourth State of Matter" by Jo Ann Beard into the hands or inboxes of countless friends and students. And The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson--well, I actually once hopped up from the table mid-conversation with a friend and ran (literally ran) to the bookstore two blocks away to buy her a copy.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Butch Manual by Clark Henley. It's very '80s gay and kidding-not-kidding. And Encyclopedia of Guinea Pigs: I came for the cover, I stayed for the full-color studio portraits of sincerely posed guinea pigs.

Book you hid from your parents:

My journals. Perhaps not successfully--they kept me on an awfully tight curfew.

Book that changed your life:

The urgent AIDS lit I came across in the pre-Internet '90s--such as Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On, Tony Kushner's Angels in America and Paul Monette's memoir Borrowed Time and poetry collection Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog--deeply shook me. These books were my gateways into queer culture, politics and identity. By laying brutally bare the stakes of what we stood to lose, they also revealed to me how rich and vibrant and remarkable LGBTQ life and art could be. And how much I wanted to be a part of it.

Favorite line from a book:

That's nearly impossible but I'll tell you the last one that instantly lodged in my memory years ago like the loveliest kind of earworm, and has never left me: the final line of Justin Torres's We the Animals. "Upright, upright, I say, I slur, I vow." 

Five books you'll never part with:

Little Minnesota, a wonderfully rich and charming book my ever-adventurous parents co-wrote about each of the 100 smallest towns in our home state. Layli Long Soldier's beautiful chapbook Chromosomory, which Spork Press published only like 50 copies of several years ago. A first edition of Citizen by Claudia Rankine; with each printing she adds the names of additional victims of police brutality, and it's wrenching to compare the disparities between the first printing and later ones. Apparently, my beloved original copy of Valencia by Michelle Tea, because I lent it to a friend and then felt anxious about it for weeks until she returned it. And my beat-up autographed paperback of Infinite Jest. I was 22 and 100% smitten with the book, as one is at 22. I remember watching David Foster Wallace cross out his printed name first, copy-edit style, and I asked why he did that. He said earnestly, "Apparently that's what you're supposed to do," somehow student and teacher at once. Then he carefully wrote my name and signed his own in slanted all-caps.

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

Reading for the second or third time is my favorite, actually! On the re-read I can really look around in a story and discover the elegance of its structure. But I'd like to approach Fingersmith by Sarah Waters as a novice again because of that fantastic jaw-dropping plot twist. Fortunately, it's been so long since I read it that I'm pretty sure I could now return and be floored with delight all over again. (Oh no. Watch out, nightstand.)

Book you would like to see turned into a TV series:

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. Especially at this political moment.

Book Review

Children's Review: Ghost Boys

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown, $16.99 hardcover, 224p., ages 9-12, 9780316262286, April 17, 2018)

Twelve-year-old Jerome was always "the good kid": "I've got troubles but I don't get in trouble." He's the son of a motel receptionist mother and sanitation officer father. His grandmother keeps house, so that he and his younger sister aren't home alone. At school, Jerome avoids the bullies, even showing new kid Carlos how eating lunch in the top-floor bathroom stalls is the best way to bypass trouble. Whenever possible, Jerome "skated by. Kept [his] head low." But now that he's dead, he's famous. Jerome was shot just a few blocks from home while playing with a toy gun. Someone called 911 to report that "a man was in the park with a gun." Although the caller specified a "toy gun," the dispatcher neglected to mention "toy" when she dispatched police. Officer Moore arrived on the scene, didn't announce himself, didn't tell Jerome to put down the gun or raise his hands. He shot Jerome before the cruiser even stopped and didn't render aid or call for help as Jerome died. Despite Jerome's size--"no taller than five feet, ninety pounds"--what Moore saw was someone "big, hulking. Scary," who left him "in fear for [his] life."

By many accounts, Moore "is a good cop." His daughter Sarah--who's the same age, grade and size as Jerome--however, becomes doubtful: "But he can't be if he killed a kid, can he?" Sarah sees what her father can't--literally--because she's the only person alive to whom Jerome is visible, with whom he can talk directly. Prodded by the 60-plus-year-old ghost of Emmett Till (whom Sarah can also see), Sarah and Jerome learn the ugly history of decades of racial and police violence, beginning with Emmett's heinous murder in 1955 at age 14, which "began the African American Civil Rights Movement," the school librarian tells Sarah. While Jerome tries to understand his own death, often aided by Emmett's gentle conversations, Sarah must come to terms with her father's "racial bias" and figure out how she might become both witness and ally and "make sure no other kids die for no reason."

Inspired to give voice to the "countless" deaths in her own lifetime due to "conscious or unconscious racism," Coretta Scott King Honoree Jewell Parker Rhodes (Ninth Ward; Towers Falling) adds a fictional name to the long list of black boys killed in police violence, including Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald and Michael Brown. Beyond easy labels of good and bad, right and wrong, Rhodes unblinkingly confronts challenging perspectives and the mutability of truth: "When truth's a feeling, can it be both? Both true and untrue?" Her affecting afterword explains her inclusion of "the revised history of Emmett Till's interaction with his [accuser] Carolyn Bryant," who at 82 recanted her 60-plus-year-old falsifications. Those "racial prejudices and tensions that still haunt America" are exactly why Rhodes wrote Ghost Boys, that Jerome's story might prompt "meaningful change for all youth." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Jewell Parker Rhodes examines the death of 12-year-old Jerome through the historical lens of Emmett Till's brutal murder and the contemporary statistics surrounding police violence against black youths.

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