Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 1, 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


BookExpo 2018: ABA Annual Meeting

ABA's Oren Teicher

The American Booksellers Association's annual meeting yesterday featured what has happily become regular good news about gains in membership and growth in sales, along with updates on the many programs and projects the ABA operates that continue to help indies grow and to combat the many challenges that face booksellers. The biggest news, however, was the announcement by CEO Oren Teicher that the board has voted to make a "substantial financial investment" in bringing the Batch centralized invoicing system to the U.S. and having it go live in January 2019. Booksellers in attendance responded to the news by bursting into loud applause.

Developed by the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, Batch places all publishers' invoices in one system in one format, allowing booksellers to schedule payments and manage credits and returns in a single place, streamlining what has been a laborious, tedious, expensive process. (For more on Batch, see this Shelf Awareness article from April.) The program is wildly popular in the U.K. and operates in 65 countries. The ABA and the BA have been working for some time on launching a U.S. version.

Teicher called Batch "a game-changing thing" for the bottom line of indies that would result in "extraordinary boons" for publishers, too. The savings would allow booksellers immediately to hire "more frontline booksellers on the floor to help customers and sell more books."

Noting that while many publishers are ready to support and participate in Batch, Teicher said more are needed and he called on booksellers for their help in convincing publishers of this.

Amazon continues to be a major challenge, Teicher said in his report to the board and members. The company's growth continues to devastate bricks-and-mortar retail in general, increase joblessness and erode the ability of government at all levels to fund essential services. And although Amazon now collects sales tax in the U.S. where required, most of its third-party Marketplace merchants--whose sales are growing faster than Amazon's--are not collecting sales tax.

The ABA continues its advocacy work for a level playing field and supports the efforts of the Advocates for Independent Business and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. As Teicher put it, the association will keep making the case that "no mega-corporation should be able to leverage outsize clout and secret subsidies to the detriment of local communities."

At the same time, booksellers have an extraordinary advantage over Amazon, Teicher observed. "While there may be a small army of smart people working for Amazon, in the more than two decades that they have been selling books it's important to recognize that none of them has come up with computer coding or an algorithm that can beat what you all do every day: putting the right book in a customer's hands."

Other ongoing challenges include rising costs to booksellers of commercial rent and payroll.

A positive change is that in part because of ABA efforts, the general media has recognized that indie booksellers are not vanishing. In fact, in many reports, indies are "highlighted as examples of bricks-and-mortar success for the 21st century."

For the eighth year in a row, ABA store membership has grown, up 6%, to 2,470, representing 1,835 companies, an increase of almost 4.5%. Last year the association welcomed 128 new bookstores operating a range of business models, "including pop-ups, book buses, all kinds of collaborative efforts with other businesses, as well as all kinds of traditional bricks-and-mortar bookstores." The growth in membership is all the more striking because the ABA lost 50 member stores when Book World abruptly closed late last year.

According to data ABA receives weekly from NPD/Bookscan, bookstore sales in 2017 rose 2.6% over 2016, and so far this year, sales are up 5%. Bookstores have had a compound annual growth rate of 5.4% during the past five years.

At the end of his report at the meeting, Teicher noted that booksellers face myriad challenges, "but we've faced big challenges before," including the expansion of B. Dalton Bookseller and Waldenbooks in malls, the growth of superstores, the rise of deep discounters and mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs, the growth of online retailing and e-books. "We've faced what may have seemed like insurmountable tsunamis, but we're all still here." Then he repeated a refrain from previous town meetings, saying, "I remain more confident than ever that the best days of independent bookselling are ahead of us." --John Mutter

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

BookExpo 2018: ABA Town Hall

The ABA Board at yesterday's Town Hall.

At the American Booksellers Association's annual Town Hall yesterday, topics of discussion included an update from the Diversity Task Force, the ABA's new code of conduct, exclusive deals bypassing indie bookstores and more.

Diversity Task Force Update
Members of the ABA's Diversity Task Force, including Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., Angela Maria Spring of Duende District Bookstore in Washington, D.C., BrocheAroe Fabian of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C., and Paul Yamazaki of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Calif., gave an update on the task force's activities. The group is working on resource guides for booksellers pertaining to topics like intra-staff diversity and inclusion training, and the task force set up a table in the ABA Lounge at BookExpo featuring diverse book recommendations and other resources.

Members of the ABA's Diversity Task Force: (l.-r.) Hannah Oliver Depp, BrocheAroe Fabian, Paul Yamazaki, Angela Maria Spring.

There will be diversity and inclusion education sessions at the upcoming Children's Institute 6, along with a Diversity Task Force station. They also suggested booksellers join the official ABA Diversity Task Force Facebook group, which is open only to booksellers and features resources and lots of ongoing discussions.

Exclusive Content Bypassing Indies
Several booksellers brought up the recent, frustrating instances of exclusive content either initially or permanently bypassing indie bookstores. One example was John Oliver's Marlon Bundo, which was unveiled on Last Week Tonight and at first available only from Amazon, and another was the recent announcement that Reese Witherspoon's company Hello Sunshine would exclusively partner with Audible for original audiobook productions.

In the former case, Carol Price, owner of BookPeople of Moscow in Moscow, Idaho, wondered whether publishers could be encouraged to create something akin to the "indie vault" that Ingram uses and thereby be better prepared for when a book like Marlon Bundo or even Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury sees a huge spike in popularity.

In the latter case, BrocheAroe Fabian asked if there had been conversations about or efforts made to let celebrities like Reese Witherspoon know that there are independent alternatives to companies like Audible. Robert Sindelar, board president and managing partner of Third Place Books in the Seattle, Wash., area, acknowledged that it was a tough issue and driven by what's going on in other media sectors, where "exclusive content is the name of the game." He said that the board will continue to remind publishers that indies do not want exclusive content for themselves or anyone, and would prefer a level playing field on which they can simply "do our jobs well." Others also suggested proactively searching out "like-minded influencers" and making them aware of and other indie alternatives.

Bookselling as a Career
On the subject of bookselling as a career and the longevity of future booksellers, ABA v-p/secretary Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., said that the recent changes to the Dodd-Frank law may make it easier for young, prospective bookstore owners who may have student loans to receive startup money from medium-sized banks. Sindelar pointed to the proliferation of new store offers and programs, which many publishers now have and can sometimes be extremely favorable, as a shift in the right direction. He also said there was a lot more to be done with regard to sharing best practices and information about things like bookseller living expenses.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher also mentioned that the ABA has had ongoing conversations with the Book Industry Charitable Foundation about the possibility of helping to incubate new stores with things like start-up loans.

Code of Conduct
Lucy Kogler, manager of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, N.Y., brought up the ABA's new Code of Conduct for events, which was released in March and, starting with CI6 in June, will be posted prominently at ABA events. She was concerned about the speed with which it was created and its "amorphous" nature. Board members acknowledged that it was not a perfect document and that it was done quickly, but out of a need to address issues that were shaking the book business. Sindelar suggested that anyone with feedback, or examples of successful codes of conduct from other industries, send it along to the ABA board. --Alex Mutter

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

BookExpo 2018: Adult Book & Author Breakfast

Breakfast with (l.-r.) Offerman, Mullally, Lepore, Sparks, Kingsolver and Noah.

A generous mixture of political awareness, humor and reminders of the critical importance of storytelling were on the menu for yesterday's Adult Book & Author Breakfast at BookExpo, hosted by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, co-authors of The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History (Dutton, October).

Joining them onstage were Trevor Noah for The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library (Spiegel & Grau, July), Barbara Kingsolver for Unsheltered (HarperCollins, Oct.), Jill Lepore for These Truths: A History of the United States (Norton, Sept.), and Nicholas Sparks for Every Breath (Grand Central, Oct.).

Mullally summed up their book as a "multi-generational, multi-genderational, post-modernist deconstruction of the greatest love story ever told... meaning, our relationship." Offerman joked: "We were talking about Lincoln in the Bardo backstage and it occurs to me that's the book this is probably most similar to. It's written in sort of a back-and-forth dialogue style, takes a while to figure out what's going on. So, if you need a touchstone, look to George."

Noah was introduced by Offerman as "host of the Daily Show and thereby, strangely, one of the nation's leading journalists."

Offerman and Mullalley signing in the ABA Lounge.

Exploring the "inspiration" for his new book, Noah said, "For me, Donald Trump is an emotional paradox. Logically I can process him, but emotionally I struggle. On the one hand, I am terrified many days of the notion that he's president of the most powerful nation in the world, but I also must admit that many days I wake up knowing that he's going to make me laugh.... Many times it feels like there's a giant asteroid headed towards the earth, but it's shaped like a penis."

He has learned to decode the president "through his written materials, which unlike his predecessors is not in any book form.... To truly delve into the mind of Donald Trump, you have to live in the world that he lives in all the time. And that is the Twitter."

Noting that booksellers, publishers and writers "are not rule followers by our nature," Kingsolver observed: "Books change lives. Literature is subversive in its nature.... What I do know is that we need stories; that stories anchor us when we are afraid or feeling lost.... I think stories will get us through times of no leaders better than leaders will get us through times of no stories."

She also expressed her appreciation for booksellers: "Thank you so much for letting me mostly stay home and do the one thing I love to do, which is write stories. I owe that to you. I know this. I think about you every day."

Nicholas Sparks signed for a long line of fans on the show floor.

To introduce mega-bestselling author Sparks, Offerman cracked that he was "very excited to present a newcomer.... He's well on his way to making something of himself."

"Believe it or not, it is just as much fun for me to sit up here and listen to other writers and crafters of stories, to hear how they think, to hear how they come up with the ideas for their stories," Sparks noted. "It's always fascinating to me when anyone comes up with a story.... For me as an author, it's like trying to grab air. I don't know where the ideas come from."

Lepore said that "much of what we see in our political discourse has really long origins, and if you can see those origins more clearly you can understand."

Citing artist Glenn Ligon's Double America, inspired in part by the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."), she observed: "It still is the best of times and very much the worst of times. And I want to suggest to you that history is important to investigate, to inquire into, to examine, to immerse yourself in, because like art, history can allow us to see that double vision of how a time and place can be both its best and its very worst self. How it can be full of tragedy and agony and even horror, the way American history is, but how it can also be full of beauty, invention, courage and hope. And especially, I think, of daring." --Robert Gray

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

BookExpo 2018: Pictures from an Exhibition, Day Two

BookExpo swung into gear yesterday with the full--if smaller than ever--trade show floor open. While it's no longer the selling show of the past, BookExpo felt lively, marked by many more panels and events than in the past several years; they covered a range of subjects and were well organized and run. As always, at these shows, serendipitous meetings and gatherings were a highlight. Long live BookExpo!
Holiday House kicked off BookExpo with a breakfast at its new downtown offices. A swarm of Holiday House authors were on hand, pictured in front of shelves holding every title published since 1935. Pictured (l.-r.): Lesa Cline-Ransome, Jon McGoran, Susan Kusel, Stephen Savage, Katie Yamasaki, Mary Amato, Monica Wellington, Aram Kim, James E. Ransome, Bob Barner, Steve Henry and Yuyi Morales.
At Simon & Schuster's party Wednesday night at Legacy Records: S&S president and CEO Carolyn Reidy flanked by Jarrod Shusterman and Neal Shusterman, authors of the forthcoming YA novel Dry.

Drinks with Binc: the Book Industry Charitable Foundation hosted a cocktail party at the Javits Center to thank supporters and advocates, an event was sponsored by Baker & Taylor and BookExpo. Pictured: B&T's Scott Butler and Margaret Lane; Binc's Pam French and Kathy Bartson; and Julie Isgrigg and Jason Rice from B&T.

Atria hosted a "spot of tea" with the author event Thursday in the Javits Center for Kate Morton's novel The Clockmaker's Daughter (Oct.). Pictured with the author is Roger Doeren, COO of Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan. In her remarks, Morton said: "I have to start by saying what a great pleasure it is to be here in New York City and at BookExpo. But in particular in this room. I was so glad to see that it was part of the schedule for me at BookExpo because it's such a great opportunity to say hello; to meet some of you for the first time but also say hello to many of you for the second, third, fourth, fifth time. I really do feel that I'm in a room of friends here and that is a lovely way to feel."

Late-night partying booksellers and publishers gathered at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for the C. Frederick Book & Horse Club Congress in honor of Carla Gray. An auction was held to benefit the Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship in Honor Emerging Bookseller-Activists. The scholarship is managed by Binc.


'Indie Bookstores Hold Their Own' in the Berkshires

The Berkshire region of Massachusetts "is a renowned literary destination for classic literature thanks to attractions like Herman Melville's Arrowhead and Edith Wharton's the Mount," TownVibe Berkshire wrote, adding that independent bookstores are also holding their own

"Bookstores play a number of roles in their communities, from being gathering places for book- and writing-related events, to providing sources of knowledge, to being a place of respite from the flurry of everyday life," said Pamela Pescosolido, owner of the Bookloft in Great Barrington. "Many of our customers prefer the local bookstore to online shopping because we have experienced booksellers who are happy to give recommendations, ideas, or just chat about favorite books. Amazon can't do that."

Matt Tannenbaum, who has owned the Bookstore in Lenox for 42 years, observed: "A book is a great journey that a customer will take, so you want to learn how to size up your customer and size up your inventory and match them up. The exchange is not just a book for money.... I make more than money in my career. I make a very pleasant place to live. I love going to work just about every day."

The Williams College Bookstore in Williamstown "isn't exactly an indie bookshop, but its roots are in that world, and it is attempting to carry some of that into its current incarnation." Managed by Follett, the former Water Street Books moved to its current location on Spring Street last summer with the goal of becoming "a space for books and thought beyond just retail," according to manager Richard Simpson. "The store is so different from the previous location. We have so much more foot traffic now that we're on Spring Street, so more people stop in. The support has been so positive and beneficial as we break in the new store."

Michael Schiavo, a bookseller at the Bookstore in Lenox, is working toward opening his own bookstore, the Unruly Servant, in North Adams later this year. "When people go into bookstores, unless they are looking for a specific title, they don't know what they want, and they want to have that conversation and be guided in a way to different things," he said. "That hospitality element for great independent bookstores has always been there."

Bookshop Window Display of the Day: Valley Bookseller

Valley Bookseller customer @KristineSOlson recently tweeted a photo of the store's front window in Stillwater, Minn., noting: "My local indie bookstore is doing window displays by color. Recently it was purple, and today's a sunny yellow. Nice sense of book-marketing humor @valleybkseller!"

Retweeting the post, Valley Bookseller added: "We'll hold off on white for a while... last time we did that, it snowed. Thanks for the lovely shout out! We have fun with it."

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Heather Huston has joined HarperCollins Christian Publishing as senior director of marketing for the specialty division, with a focus on Thomas Nelson Gift, Zondervan Gift and Tommy Nelson. She has more than 16 years of experience in marketing, communications and programming and was most recently v-p of marketing at Rural Media Group, overseeing marketing strategy for RFD-TV, the Cowboy Channel and RFD-TV's American Rodeo.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tom Perrotta on Fresh Air

Fresh Air repeat: Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel (Scribner, $16.99, 9781501144035).

TV: Primates of Park Avenue

Lionsgate TV is developing a half-hour scripted comedy based on Wednesday Martin's memoir Primates of Park Avenue, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A network is not yet attached. Martin will co-write the pilot and executive produce the project alongside Anonymous Content's Nicole Clemens, Stacy Cramer (Burlesque) and Heather Lieberman (Cruel Intentions).

Books & Authors

Awards: Audie Winners; Reading the West Winners

The winners of the Audie Awards, sponsored by the Audiobook Publishers Association, were announced last night at the APA's 23rd annual Audies Gala. The Audiobook of the Year was Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, read by Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, and a full cast (Random House Audio). See winners in the many categories here.


The winners of the 2017 Reading the West Book Awards, sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association and honoring titles that "exemplify the best in writing and/or illustration whose subject matter is set in the MPIBA region or invokes the spirit of the region," are:

Adult fiction: The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison (Counterpoint Press)
Adult nonfiction: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
Children's: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (Sterling Children's Books)

The winning authors and their books will be celebrated at a luncheon at the MPIBA 2018 Fall Discovery Show in October in Denver, Colo.

Reading with... Matthew Baldacci

Matthew Baldacci has been the director of business development for Shelf Awareness since 2015. He is proud to say that, way back in 2005 when he was at St. Martin's Press, his team was one of the first to begin advertising with the newly created Shelf. His publishing career includes roles at S&S, S&S Kids, DK, Scholastic and, once very long ago, at the JK Lasser Tax Institute. Recently, he described working with such great authors and people as Jackie Collins, Michael Palmer and Stephen J. Cannell, and his lunch partner (that's you, Brandon Kelley) pointed out that his publishing autobiography will be titled All My Favorite Authors Are Dead. Baldacci lives in New Jersey with his family and Ella the dog. All four Baldacci children took part in multiple "Bring Your Kids to Work" days at publishing houses. None have said they wish to pursue a career in publishing.
On your nightstand now:
One cough drop, a lamp, some dust and a copy of Ben Stein's The Capitalist Code (it promised to make me rich). Do you want to know what's sitting around my house in various stages of reading? Anatomy of a Miracle and the new Dusti Bowling. I also just finished Tara Westover's Educated and want everyone to read it!
Favorite book when you were a child:
An easy one! Most Valuable Player by Richard Mullins: a high school baseball team goes to the state championships; the star players (one rich, one poor) struggle to discover real teamwork and earn the respect of the first baseman's sister, Jessie. Written and set in the early '60s, Mullins's book was a refuge, I can't describe it any better than that.
Your top five authors:
This is the question I always read with trepidation. Should I just name classics so no one gets offended? Top Five authors I've read in the past year? Authors who are really nice? Since you've left this so open, I'm going to list some authors whose books have had an impact on me: Gary Kinder, Kristin Hannah, the Stratemeyer Syndicate (the Hardy Boys series was a passion), Alan Weisman, John Hart and Nickolas Butler.
Now I'm wondering how those authors feel about being paired up with a writing factory. Ugh, this really is a difficult question.
Book you've faked reading:
Everything assigned in eighth grade advanced English. I think these were The Scarlet Letter, Ethan Frome, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Separate Peace (but it's entirely possible I did read this. Let's just say I did.).
Book you're an evangelist for:
Right now? The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. It's utterly, completely, original. Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap meets Agatha Christie. Yes. Truly.
Always? The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Penny gets in your head. You feel manipulated but in a really great way. A masterpiece whether or not you've read the other Inspector Gamache books.
Book you've bought for the cover:
When I was a teen, I picked up The Mediterranean Caper by Clive Cussler at a beach house because of the cover. Cussler's writing did the rest. Mass market covers used to be awesome--I'd buy any of his early mass titles for the cover.
Book you hid from your parents:
I never had to hide books from my parents. I'm not sure if they were encouraging, or if it was just that I was the youngest child. That doesn't seem fair to them, so I'll go with Blanche Knott's Truly Tasteless Jokes. I'm sure they would not have approved.
Book that changed your life:
Have you been reading this? Most Valuable Player. Every book I've ever read has changed my life. One wasn't even a book yet. It was a proposal that we read but didn't offer on. The proposal had such a great idea, though, that St. Martin's president Sally Richardson and I both reached out to each other to tell the other one about it. This experience helped me discover the concept of spreading "good" gossip: instead of telling someone what another person did that was wrong or embarrassing, you tell someone about a great thing another person did. You could even tell the person yourself. It reminded me that we should all be kind.
Oh, also Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. An asteroid strikes Earth and sparks my enduring fascination with apocalyptic fiction.
Favorite line from a book:
From Sarah Vowell's Lafayette in the Somewhat United States:
"I could say something about how being buried near some French papist was probably making Calvinists like Winthrop and Cotton roll over in their grave, but I believe in science." Makes me laugh every. Damn. Time.
Five books you'll never part with:
How about seven? Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder, Most Valuable Player by Richard Mullins, From Winchester to Cedar Creek by Jeffry D. Wert, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, One for the Money (a galley!) by Janet Evanovich, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron, The Aquarius Mission by Martin Caidin... I could keep going....
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald and illustrated by Mercer Mayer. Lee Boudreaux agrees.

Book Review

Review: Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything

Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just about Everything by Randi Hutter Epstein (W.W. Norton, $26.95 hardcover, 336p., 9780393239607, June 26, 2018)

Whenever asked to explain the rambunctious behavior of teens and pre-teens, adults often roll their eyes and say: "hormones." However, it was not until neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing explored the pituitary gland and founded the science of endocrinology in the early 1900s that medicine began to understand the role of human gland secretions and coined the word hormone (from the Greek hormao, meaning to arouse). This and other fascinating details of the history of endocrinology find their way into Randi Hutter Epstein's funny, informative and accessible Aroused (after her similarly entertaining discussion of the nuts and bolts of childbirth in Get Me Out).
With medical and journalism degrees and as Writer-in-Residence at Yale Medical School, Epstein brings a savvy background to a book rich in clever digressions as well as scientific know-how and historical fact. She began her research thinking "hormones were boobs and periods and sex," but quickly realized that they really "control growth, metabolism, behavior, sleep, lactation, stress, mood swings, sleep-wake cycles, the immune system, mating, fighting, fleeing, puberty, parenting and sex"--most everything that makes us human.
Aroused begins with the story of the late-19th-century "Fat Bride," a 500-pound carnival freak show woman who died young of what in hindsight was clearly a hormonal imbalance. However, it quickly works into a chronological examination of the pioneers and scientific breakthroughs of endocrinology. Besides Cushing, Epstein highlights the work of Rosalyn Yalow, who won a Nobel for developing radioimmunoassay--a process for measuring hormones. Not just a meticulous researcher, Yalow also was one of the few women scientists during the male scarcity of World War II, noting: "They had to have a war so I could get a Ph.D. and a job in physics."
Epstein's history of endocrinology, however, describes more than innovative science. Aroused also traces the parallel growth of quick-cure quackery and snake-oil charlatans. The Austrian physiologist Eugen Steinach championed elective vasectomies to increase libido. A Paris neurologist advertised Brown-Séquard's testicle-juice shots and, in Kansas, John Brinkley ("The Goat Gland Doctor") sold goat testicles to enhance men's sex drive. Even today, TV has made "Low-T" into a health issue to peddle dubious testosterone supplements, and oxytocin formulas are pushed as "happy brain" elixirs. Yet Epstein additionally explores in some detail the many medical successes growing out of hormone research: therapies to moderate menopause symptoms, tools to help intersex babies and gender transition, birth control and treatments to manage obesity.
What Mary Roach did for the alimentary canal in Gulp and Hope Jahren did for botany in Lab Girl, Epstein does in spades for our glandular network: the pancreas, adrenals, thyroid, ovaries, testes and pituitary. As she summarizes: "They aim to get us back to normal when things are out of whack. And they can be the cause of commotion, too." Maybe the adults are right about flaky teen behavior after all: hormones. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: A history of endocrinology as entertaining as it is informative, Aroused adroitly covers the basic science, clinical application and dubious commercialization of hormones.

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