Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 13, 2018

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

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

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


N.Y.'s Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine for Sale

Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine, Rockville Centre, N.Y., is for sale. As noted in the NAIBA newsletter, the store is a 40-minute train ride from Penn Station in Manhattan and two blocks from the Long Island Railroad station. "We did the work for you, now all you have to do is slip in and make this your own!" the store wrote. "We will entertain all reasonable offers. Call or email for details. 516-764-6000 or"

Owners Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran are former Borders employees with a combined 35 years of experience in the book business. They founded Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine in 2015.

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

Soft Opening for That Book Store in Wethersfield, Conn.

That Book Store, located at 446 Silas Deane Hwy. in Wethersfield, Conn., will hold its soft opening July 15, with a grand opening celebration to follow August 3-5. "Our goal is to provide both a superior customer experience and tremendous value for our customers," co-owners Karen Opper and her daughter, Isabelle, noted on the bookshop's website, adding that they "have been very busy lately trying to get the store ready for you.... In the coming weeks That Book Store has loads of events planned.... With so many upcoming events we are going to get even busier! Can't wait to meet you all in person."

The bookshop is "committed to offering affordable new, bargain, gently read, and electronic books and audiobooks, as well as gifts and educational items for customers of all ages and backgrounds. We exist to provide residents and visitors of Wethersfield, and other towns in southern Hartford county, the best local community bookstore and accessory shopping experience."

Earlier this month, That Book Store shared photos of the bookshop as a work-in-progress, noting: "We are working really hard to get ready for our soft opening July 15. Can’t wait to share the transformation of this space."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Brave & Kind Kids Bookshop Launches Indiegogo Campaign

Brave and Kind Kids Bookshop, located at 722 College Ave. in the Kirkwood neighborhood of Decatur, Ga., has launched a crowdfunding campaign "to help chip away at some of the start-up costs," said owner Bunnie Hilliard, who added that she is "working hard to spread the word about our mission and plans will be a mainstay of great kids books, enriching workshops for families and great service rooted in community and connection."

Bunnie Hilliard

Hilliard noted on her Indiegogo page that she "plans to carry a beautiful and inspiring mainstay of new and classic kids books for ages zero through young adult with a section for parents too."   
Dedicated to being a community resource, she also plans to have a "mini cafe with coffee, sweets, and a carefully curated small array of organic kids beverages and snacks"; regular events such as story time "for our youngest readers and book club meet-ups for various interests and ages"; Reading Room and Study Hall times after school; creative writing, "Speaking with Confidence" and other workshops designed specifically for kids; evening events for a parent-child date night; Service Saturdays designed to provide kid friendly and family community service opportunities; and a small second-hand book section.

"I have a vision of fostering a tribe of brave and kind kids with a love of reading who will change the world," Hilliard observed. "I started a book club for both of my kids (now 9 and 6) when they left preschool as a way to keep up friendships as we went off to different elementary schools. But also to form a positive connection with books and reading and sharing and friendship (and snacks, because what's better than books and snacks?). Brave and Kind Kids Bookshop is dedicated to helping families find the books and the space that will inspire them to be Brave and Kind for themselves and for the world."

New ILSR Report Details 'Amazon's Next Frontier'

A new Institute for Local Self-Reliance report called Amazon's Next Frontier: Your City's Purchasing, has identified four major risks associated with Amazon's recent U.S. Communities contract for supplying local governments with office and classroom supplies, library books and electronics, Bookselling This Week reported.

The contract, which Amazon was awarded last year, could generate as much as $5.5 billion over an 11-year term and has been adopted by more than 1,500 jurisdictions around the U.S., including schools and government agencies. And, according to ILSR, that contract fails local governments in four ways: process, cost, service and terms and transparency.

In terms of pricing, the contract breaks from established norms when it comes to public procurement, as Amazon uses dynamic pricing rather than guaranteeing fixed pricing. The ILSR noted that schools, governments and other public institutions are locked into a long-term contract in which prices could "quite possibly" become inflated.

The report also points out the anti-competitive nature of the contract: the request for proposal was "written in such a way that no other company could meet the requirement," and Amazon's argument that the Amazon Marketplace allows governments to continue to purchase from local vendors rings false. Because Amazon charges a 15% fee for all Marketplace vendors, local vendors would likely have to raise their prices to accommodate the fee and thereby be unable to compete with Amazon's prices.

Missing too from the Amazon-U.S. Communities contract are the normal "standards of transparency usually mandated by public procurement agreements." According to ILSR, Amazon was able to rewrite its contract terms and in the process added a provision stating that they will not only be notified if someone makes a public information request about the contract but also be allowed to "intercede and lobby that the information not be disclosed."

More information about the contract, and what booksellers can do to let their local governments understand the associated risks, can be found on this action sheet.

Indie Booksellers Publish in New Orleans & Idaho

A pair of independent booksellers have expanded their horizons by publishing new books.

In New Orleans, La., Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop will release the first three books--two children's picture titles and one YA fantasy novel--on August 14 from Tubby & Coo's Publishing Company, which hopes "to bolster indie authors and help them publish books."

Alligator, Bayou, Crawfish, written and illustrated by New Orleans native Ali Solino, is a full-color alphabet book featuring NOLA-themed illustrations for each letter of the alphabet. The Two Stegosauruses, written and illustrated by New Orleans native Daniel Moore Glaser, is a black-and-white cartoon book about an awkward stegosaurus and a clumsy stegosaurus who must overcome their self-doubt to connect. Captain by Artie Sievers tells the tale of the rise of Captain Hook and exposes the origins behind the well-known villain. The novel includes illustrations from New Orleans artist Meghan Davis. A launch party for the new titles will be held August 12 at the bookshop.

In Boise, Idaho, Rediscovered Books has launched Rediscovered Publishing to publish "hyperlocal nonfiction books for kids, teens, and adults." The press has released its first book, A Kid's Guide to Boise.

In addition, the bookstore is looking to increase its stable of writers--particularly nonfiction writers who can write well for younger readers: "To this end we are launching a writing contest called Infamous Idaho," Rediscovered said. "You can follow that link for the full contest rules. There will be a cash prize for winners as well as the possibility of working with us as an author on upcoming publications."


Image of the Day: Celebration of Arabic Literature

At the celebration of Arabic literature hosted by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award, Publishing Perspectives and the Frankfurt Book Fair New York, panelists discussed their experiences translating and publishing Arabic works for an English-language audience. Pictured: (l.-r.) Chip Rossetti, executive editor, Library of Arabic Literature, NYU Press; Max Weiss, translator and associate professor, Princeton University; Alexander Elinson, translator and associate professor, Hunter College; and John Siciliano, executive editor, Penguin Classics and Penguin Books. (photo: John Harris)

Book Passage: A 'Literary Landmark'

Noting that a "good bookstore is a portal to the world and the innermost parts of the human heart," Pacific Sun profiled "literary landmark" Book Passage--with stores in Corte Madera, Sausalito and San Francisco, Calif.--which "offers nearly everything one wants and needs from a store that sells books, both old and new, plus magazines, newspapers and much more."

"What's been crucial for our longevity are the partnerships we have," said co-owner Elaine Petrocelli. "We nurture our customers, and they nurture us."

Book Passage "definitely feels like an extended family that embraces locals and outsiders and provides food for thought," Pacific Sun wrote, adding that Petrocelli "is still very much a presence, an inspiration and avid reader who suggests books to read in the store's newsletter.... Petrocelli and her 'crew,' as she calls them, have shown that an independent bookstore can survive and thrive in the age of Amazon. That's worth a pilgrimage to the store."

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Bookmarks

Bookmarks shared a photo of its recent sidewalk chalkboard message celebrating the one-year anniversary of the nonprofit indie bookstore and home for the literary arts located in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C. The board reads: "To all our supporters: Thanks for a great 1st year! Love, Bookmarks."

Personnel Changes at Scholastic

In the Scholastic Trade publishing division:

Jackie Rubin has been promoted to senior national accounts manager. She was previously national accounts manager.

Ashley Cooke has been promoted to associate marketing manager. She was previously marketing coordinator.

Elisabeth Ferrari has joined Scholastic as publicist. Most recently she was at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Carmen Alvarez has joined Scholastic as marketing manager for Graphix, Chapter Books, and Paperback Series. Most recently she was at Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Media and Movies

TV: The Letter for the King

Netflix has ordered a new Kids & Family original series based on Tonke Dragt's medieval adventure novel, The Letter for the King. Deadline reported that "this is the streaming service's first Dutch book adaption, though the coming-of-age series will be shot in English. U.K.-based FilmWave acquired the international television rights in a deal with Amsterdam-based publishing house Leopold." Production on the series is set to start in the fall in New Zealand and Netflix will release globally.

Will Davies (How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots) is adapting the book for Netflix, together with Dutch producer Paul Trijbits (Saving Mr. Banks, The Casual Vacancy) for FilmWave.

The novel was originally published in 1962 and has been translated into 25 languages, including English in 2014 by Pushkin Press. It won the Griffel der Griffels for Best Children's Book of All Time and is "a beloved part of Dutch culture," Deadline wrote.

Movies: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The first trailer has been released for The Miseducation of Cameron Post, based on the novel by Emily M. Danforth, Deadline reported. Directed by Desiree Akhavan from a script she wrote with Celilia Frugiuele, the film stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., Sasha Lane and Forrest Goodluck. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance in January, The Miseducation of Cameron Post opens in select cities August 3.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pinckley Crime Fiction

Ellen Hart and Marcie Rendon have won the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction, which were launched in 2012 by the Women's National Book Association of New Orleans to honor founding member Diana Pinckley, who was a longtime crime fiction columnist for the New Orleans Times- Picayune as well as a civic activist. The prizes will be presented October 6 in New Orleans.

Ellen Hart, author of 32 novels in two series, is receiving the Pinckley Prize for Distinguished Body of Work. The judges praised her "persistence over a long and distinguished publishing career, her generosity to other writers, and her success in creating believable and lovable characters."

Marcie Rendon wins the Pinckley Prize for Debut Novel for Murder on the Red River (Cinco Puntos Press). The judges "were impressed with Rendon's sense of place and her creation of an unforgettable character who forges her own way in a challenging world."

Reading with... BrocheAroe Fabian

BrocheAroe Fabian ("bruh-kuh" for short) is an anthropologist, a world traveler, a writer and a 12-year veteran of the book industry. After working for a museum library, a corporate bookstore, two publishers and four independent bookstores, she will be opening River Dog Book Co., her own bookmobile, in Wisconsin in spring 2019. She works hard to foster cross-cultural understanding and communication wherever she goes.
On your nightstand now:
SO MANY, which is the least surprising thing anyone has ever said in one of these columns. I read a little bit of everything and multiple books at one time, so right now the nightstand has Nic Stone's second book, Odd One Out; Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi; Knights vs. Dinosaurs by Matt Phelan; the latest Miss Kopp mystery, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit, by Amy Stewart; Starless by Jacqueline Carey; and two books I'm using as research for the novel I'm (sloooowly) writing: Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas and The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec.
Favorite book when you were a child:
My favorite picture book of all time is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. A lupine is my only literary tattoo (so far!).
Your top five authors:
This changes daily. Can someone be in the top five if they only have one book out, but they've earned a forever place in my heart? I don't know. Here are the top five women writers I've been reading the longest and most consistently: Gail Carriger, Anne Fadiman, Melina Marchetta, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb and Gene Stratton-Porter.
Book you've faked reading:
Anything by the great Russians, like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Actually, a lot of "classic" lit--Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I have an undergrad and graduate degree in English, but I've never read any of them. They simply didn't interest me, and I never failed a test or paper on any of them despite not having read them, so I thought, "Why bother?" (I will scrub the Internet of this interview before my future children see it!)
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar. While she has published essays and short pieces before, this was her debut novel, and it's already one of the best books I've ever read (along with Tommy Orange's There There--can I be an evangelist for two? Please?). Both novels are adult (with YA-crossover potential) #ourvoices stories that bring historical, social and political news blips into sharp focus by giving us a glimpse into what feels like real people living through nuanced circumstances, often beyond their control, often faced with impossible choices, yet trying to find the hope in the best-case scenario. Both books tore my heart open.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Can I just share my "Book Covers" Pinterest board? (I wish I was joking.) I tend to follow the work of specific design departments, like at Penguin: Coralie Bickford-Smith's Penguin Classics covers (divine), Jessica Hische's Penguin Drop Caps collection (gorgeous) and the Penguin Ink Editions from years ago when they teamed up with tattoo artists to re-create a range of classic book covers (so cool!). Oh! and everything in the Gibbs Smith BabyLit series illustrated by Alison Oliver, Ron Stucki and Greg Paprocki. In fact, it's thanks to the Little Master Tolstoy: Anna Karenina: A Fashion Primer that I now know how that book ends.
Book you hid from your parents:
All the romance novels I read! My mother's mother gave me a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel when I was 11 years old, and I devoured romantic-style novels from that moment on. First, it was mostly emotional romance--Danielle Steele, Sandra Brown. Then I got into romantic-suspense--Mary Higgins Clark, Sidney Sheldon. And then hormones happened and so anything that had sex in it was going under my pillow or buried beneath clothes in my dresser, to be pulled out with a flashlight and read under the covers late at night. Come to think of it, I think I've narrowed in on why I wasn't interested in reading more classics in high school.
Book that changed your life:
This one might be a bit of a surprise: On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar. I had just graduated college and was struggling to make ends meet (working at a bookstore, of course), and this gave me a lot of practical advice I follow to this day.
Favorite line from a book:
"The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it." --Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
Five books you'll never part with:
Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
Clearing Away Clouds: Nine Lessons for Life from the Martial Arts by Stephen Fabian
Three Fates by Nora Roberts
Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Despite having won the Printz, not many people know her work in the States; I'm guessing because she's from Australia. The first line of this book is, "My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted." It gives me goosebumps to this day.
Favorite book to look for in used bookshops:
I have a list mostly made up of mysteries I'll read quickly and pass on, like Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series, but there's one book in particular that I've never been able to find: Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague. A good friend recommended it 10 years ago, and I loved it. Similar to 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, Letters is an historical epistolary novel about love and the effects of war. Set in the 1860s, Letters chronicles the lives and personal awakenings of a male "high yellow" former house slave from New Orleans and a white teenage girl from New York who meet by chance in London. I want to reread this book now, taking into account the conversations of the last 10 years about representation, #ourvoices, sensitivity readers and my own growth and awareness as a reader and writer, to see if it still holds up.

Book Review

Review: Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

Amateur: A True Story about What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee (Scribner, $26 hardcover, 224p., 9781501168741, August 14, 2018)

Thomas Page McBee launched a career in writing about masculinity with a regular column for The Rumpus, "Self-Made Man." It soon gave way to a smart, lyrical memoir, Man Alive. For those projects, he candidly documented his transition while wrestling with the implications of embracing a gender responsible for so much hurt in the world. Amateur follows McBee further into his dogged investigation into what in fact makes a man.
He steps into the ring as an amateur boxer after a brush with male aggression. His sights set on a charity fight several months away, he's driven by a desire to hone his skills in protecting himself, but more so by a burning question about why violence is so entwined with masculinity. Sociology professor Michael Kimmel suggests to him, "Men tend to fight when they feel humiliated.... You don't fight when you feel really powerful."
Furthermore, McBee observes, "I assumed that fighting for my right as a trans man to be seen as 'real' would be a big part of this story," and yet the social idea of what "real men" are, and how they behave, is more insidious than that. "I'd never heard a woman who wasn't trans insulted over her lack of 'realness,' " he writes, the way men have their gender performance regularly policed with admonishments to "man up." Vulnerability is discouraged, and turned into a reason to fight. And while that may explain the common male posture toward violence, it most certainly doesn't excuse it.
McBee ponders these sociological implications with refreshing care and empathy, untangling a positive depiction of masculinity from the toxic strains paraded through contemporary discourse. His writing is marvelous, pinning ideas that could so easily be abstract to the visceral, physical poetry of boxing. The sport is ruthless--to mind as well as body. Learning its art is one challenge; learning to check ego is another, as McBee learns to submit to uncomfortable and occasionally counterintuitive instruction from his trainer, sometimes after much trial and error.
It's in this process, though, that he discovers why men who have spent time in the ring may not be so quick to pick fights outside of it. As his big charity match at Madison Square Garden creeps closer, McBee begins to see himself and his trajectory so much clearer: "I did not want to become a real man.... I was fighting for something better."
Thomas Page McBee displays tenacity on the page and in the gym, sizing up formidable concepts and engaging them with savvy and sensitivity. Amateur is more than a boxing story, just as it's more than a trans narrative. It's a highly recommended case study in manhood. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness
Shelf Talker: While training for a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden, Thomas Page McBee grapples with the complex relationship between masculinity and violence.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: When a Book Is More than a Book

"She had always wanted words, she loved them, grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape. Whereas I thought words bent emotions like sticks in water." --Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Ondaatje accepting the Golden Booker.

When you learned this week that the Golden Man Booker Prize had gone to The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, maybe you thought it was great news or maybe you thought of 50 other Booker winners who deserved the honor more.

Some folks considered the whole notion of a Golden Booker to be nonsense. Others suspected the popularity of Anthony Minghella's Oscar-winning film adaptation was the deciding factor, a theory Ondaatje himself didn't dispute. In his acceptance speech, he thanked Minghella, "who is no longer with us, but I suspect has something to do with the result of this vote." He also acknowledged "small presses everywhere," and cited authors--J.L. Carr, William Trevor, Barbara Pym, Penelope Fitzgerald, Alice Munro, Graham Swift, Samuel Selvon--who hadn't won a Booker but should have.

"Not for a second do I believe this is the best or most popular book on this list, or any other list that could have been put together of Booker novels," he said. "Especially when it is placed beside a work by V.S. Naipaul--one of the masters of our time, or a major work like Wolf Hall, or Penelope Lively’s beautiful Moon Tiger, or the heart-breaking Lincoln in the Bardo. I've not read The English Patient since it came out in 1992 and I suspect, and know more than any one, that it remains cloudy with errors and pacing."

While I admired his humility, I also wondered whether there's a point at which a book belongs to its readers as much as the author? When I learned that Ondaatje had won the Golden Man Booker Prize, I just smiled. Some books are more iconic than others, especially on a personal level. More than a quarter-century ago, The English Patient taught me--and still reminds me sometimes--how to be a better human being (a lot to ask of a novel, to be sure). It also, and this is no small matter, taught me how to become a bookseller and, specifically, a passionate handseller of books.

Where do handsellers come from? "Everywhere" is the easy answer. The harder, though more precise, response is that they are often like gifted Dickensian orphans, waiting for someone to notice them. I can only tell you where one handseller came from, though I'd like to know your story, too, if you care to share it with me sometime.

I became a handseller in the fall of 1992. When I started working at the Northshire Bookstore in May of that year, I'd never heard the term. The first person who interviewed me explained that customers often came in looking for reading suggestions. In its simplest definition, a handseller was a bookseller adept at helping customers find those great reads.

Sometime during the middle of August in 1992, the same person who'd interviewed me placed an ARC of The English Patient in my hands and said, "I think you might like this." The novel was due to be published in a month or so. I fell in love with that book on first reading and every reading since. You know how it goes: rookie bookseller reads ARC, falls in biblio-love for the first time, and can't wait to talk about it.

Customer: "Have you read anything great lately?"
Me: "The English Patient."
"Could you recommend a cookbook for my mother?"
"Maybe she'd prefer The English Patient."
"My father hates novels."
"Oh, I think he'd like The English Patient.
"I'd like to return this book to exchange for something else."
"Have you read The English Patient?"

We sold the proverbial bejesus out of that book--well over 200 hardcover copies before it won the Booker Prize. I told my customers about the irresistible voice, characters, settings, as well as the fact that I could open to any page and read them an extraordinary sentence or paragraph. When they asked me to prove it, I did.

With that novel, I learned what it felt like to make an author's book my book. I learned that being a frontline bookseller mattered in a way that was fundamentally crucial to my life at the time. And I really haven't stopped handselling since, even as a longtime editor at Shelf Awareness.

I did, however, gradually learn that genuine handselling discussions actually begin with questions (ex.: What have you read lately that you love?) rather than fervent answers (You've got to read this!). And I realized that the art of conversation trumped the lesser art of evangelism every time.

In the film version of The English Patient, Count Almasy asks Hana why she is "so determined to keep me alive." Her response is at once spare and complex: "Because I'm a nurse." Handselling isn't about life or death, of course, but for most of us a life without reading is unimaginable (Because I'm a bookseller.). A little dramatic, but there it is.

From the novel: "She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awakening from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams."

The English Patient was an ARC I read in the summer of 1992. The story continues.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives at Fresh Eyes Now)

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