Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 20, 2018

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


The Brain Lair Opens in South Bend, Ind.

The Brain Lair Bookstore, a  children's bookstore with a focus on diversity, inclusivity and education, has opened in South Bend, Ind., WSBT 22 reported. The store features books by and about people of color for children and teens, along with a small selection of books for adults.

Store owner Kathy Burnette, a former school librarian with more than 15 years of experience, told WBST 22: "Studies show that when you see yourself in a book, you feel validated and you contribute more to society, because you feel like you have a place because you see it, because you're reading about it."

Burnette said she's dreamed of opening a bookstore for more than 20 years. And the name The Brain Lair, in fact, is an anagram of The Librarian; Burnette had the idea for the name in 2008 after reading John Green's An Abundance of Katherines.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Finley's Fiction Debuts on Shelter Island

Finley's Fiction has opened at 9 Washington Street in Shelter Island Heights, N.Y., "offering a carefully-curated selection of new releases, literary classics and beach reads," the Shelter Island Reporter noted.

Owner Finley Shaw, who grew up coming to Shelter Island and has "never missed a summer," splits her time between there and Fairfield, Conn. She launched the seasonal bookshop, which is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, because she loves to read.

"I've always made time to read," she said. "There used to be a bookstore where the video store used to be that I'd go to, and when that closed I started thinking about doing a bookstore here."

Describing Finley's Fiction as a "neighborhood bookstore," she said business has been good thus far: "I have a bunch of neighborhood repeat customers. The challenge is the location, making sure people know and spreading the word.... This is a totally new thing for me. It's surprised me, people's reception. They've been really excited, more so than I thought they would be."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Bonnier's Executive Shakeup Continues

Ben Dunn has resigned as managing director of Bonnier's Kings Road Publishing imprint, effective immediately. The Bookseller reported that his resignation "follows hot on the heels" of Mark Smith, whose departure as CEO of Bonnier Zaffre was announced July 16; and Sharon Parker, Bonnier Publishing's group COO, who vacated her role after 20 years with the company last month.

The three departures follow the exit last February of group CEO Richard Johnson after nine years at the helm. Johnson's replacement was Jim Zetterlund from parent company Bonnier Books in Sweden. Dunn will not be replaced "at the moment" while the company concentrates on its wider strategic transformation under Zetterlund, the Bookseller wrote.

Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Publishing U.K., said Dunn "has had a great impact on the business; successfully steering the development of our five adult and children's imprints based in Chelsea. Ben's passion and enthusiasm will be greatly missed and I wish him all the best for his future career."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

House Rejects NEA, NEH Funding Cuts Proposal

By a vote of 297-114, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a proposal to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by 15%. Variety called Wednesday's vote "a boost to arts advocates, who argued that such funding was just a tiny fraction of the federal budget yet offered an array of benefits to local communities." Congress has slightly increased the budgets for the two agencies, to about $153 million each in 2018.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), who had proposed the funding cut via an amendment to a larger government funding bill, said at a House Rules Committee hearing earlier this week that he "thought I would take just one little bit of this spending and kind of come down a little more on Donald Trump's side." Trump had proposed ending funding for the agencies.

The result was "a signal that the NEA has moved beyond some of the divisive battles that it experienced in the 1990s, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich targeted it for elimination. In Wednesday's vote, Republicans were almost evenly split on whether to cut funding," Variety wrote.

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, said that the result was "one of the largest vote margins in support of the NEA and NEH ever, this bipartisan showing and resounding vote is a testament to the good work of the federal agencies and the power of the arts in our communities, schools, lives, and work."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

ABA Offering Two Bookstore Finance Seminars in October

In October, the American Booksellers Association is offering its Principles of Bookstore Finance seminar in two places: Wednesday, October 3, in Minneapolis, Minn., in conjunction with the Heartland Fall Forum; and Wednesday, October 10, in Denver, Colo., in conjunction with the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show, Bookselling This Week reported.

The sessions will be led by ABA CFO Robyn DesHotel and co-led in Minneapolis by Cynthia Compton of 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Ind., and in Denver by Len Vlahos of the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver.

The seminar will cover the fundamentals of budgeting, understanding cash flow, business financing, bookkeeping, and financial statements. The workshop will include a segment on strategies for achieving higher profits and improving cash flow and will conclude with an interactive group discussion in which attendees will work through an example of how to use their store's financial information to make sound business decisions.

The seminar will concentrate on bookstore finances as opposed to bookstore accounting, and though it will be helpful for attendees to be familiar with basic bookstore finances, deep financial experience is not required. Booksellers from all regions are invited to attend. The registration fee is $79, and lunch is included. For more information, go to


Nicole Brinkley Wins Rusty Drugan Scholarship

Nicole Brinkley

Nicole Brinkley of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, N.Y., has won the Rusty Drugan Scholarship for Emerging Leaders, awarded annually by the New England Independent Booksellers Association in memory of its former executive director who died in 2006. The scholarship includes two nights at the Fall Conference NEIBA hotel and one ticket to each meal function.

Brinkley is Oblong's floor manager, the weekend manager, and runs all website, social media and newsletter content, "so it's really faster to call her the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Oblong," NEIBA noted, adding that she "loves dragons and plants. The rest tends to change without notice." Her favorite books to handsell include An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, and The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi.

S&S to Distribute Skyhorse Publishing

Effective January 1, Simon & Schuster will distribute Skyhorse Publishing titles in the U.S. and most markets and territories around the world. Skyhorse will continue to be distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son and in South Africa by Peter Hyde & Associates.

Founded in 2006, Skyhorse publishes in a range of categories, including outdoor sports, adventure, team sports, nature, and country living, as well as politics, true crime, humor and literary works. Its 14 imprints include Hot Books, Racehorse Publishing, Allworth Press, Arcade Publishing, Good Books, Sky Pony Press, Talos Press and Night Shade Books.

Skyhorse president and publisher Tony Lyons said: "With our increasingly commercial list, we think this new association with Simon & Schuster is a perfect fit for Skyhorse."

Media and Movies

Movies: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

"Young Newt--and the youngest Dumbledore we've seen yet--is revealed in this exclusive new photo from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," Entertainment Weekly reported in featuring a photo in which "we see professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and an alarmed-looking Newt Scamander (Joshua Shea) at Hogwarts in a flashback scene from the upcoming Harry Potter-verse film."

Scamander's connection with Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) is "one of those relationships where there was definitely great love there," Eddie Redmayne, who plays grown-up Newt, told EW. "But was it ever a full-blown relationship? I don't know. But certainly, she's somebody who has touched him hugely. At the beginning of this film you realize she's now in a relationship with Newt's brother so, of course, that comes with great complications."

EW also noted that in a new interview with Jude Law about playing Dumbledore, "he reveals the professor doesn't teach Transfiguration like it says in Potter lore. While Law doesn't say what he teaches, that skeleton on the ceiling of the room above matches the classroom of Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Law also said he "knew the books and the Harry Potter films pretty well, my children grew up with them so I grew up as an accompanying adult. And I’d seen and enjoyed the first [Fantastic Beasts] film. Then I had the good fortune and opportunity to sit with J.K. Rowling shortly after we started work on it. She gave me a very good sense of Albus's life journey and who he was and what was happening in his head and his heart and his world for this particular story."

TV: The Doll Factory

Buccaneer Media has optioned Elizabeth Macneal's debut historical thriller The Doll Factory to develop as a drama series. The Bookseller reported that the TV rights to the novel, which will be published in 2019, were acquired by the company responsible for ITV drama Marcella. Buccaneer CEO Tony Wood has appointed APA agent Kyle Loftus to represent the production in the U.S. Wood and Anna Burns will be executive producers on the project.

"This astonishing literary thriller has already created a sensation, even before publication," said Wood. "Competition has been huge at each step it has taken. It's an honor to announce a collaboration with Elizabeth Macneal; she's an amazing talent, who I am delighted to bring into the Buccaneer fold."

Sophie Jonathan, senior commissioning editor at Picador, commented: "To read The Doll Factory is to step across a threshold into another time--into the press and panic, the elation and vivid beauty of 1850s London. I've never read a novel so rich in color and texture, so to know that Elizabeth's extraordinary story and sparkling characters will be translated to screen is impossibly exciting, and who better to work that magic than Buccaneer Media."

Books & Authors

Awards: Arthur C. Clarke Winner

Anne Charnock won the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature for her novel Dreams Before the Start of Time. The winner was announced during a special ceremony held at the Foyles flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London. She receives a commemorative engraved bookend and £2,018 (about $1,525).

"Humanity's attitudes to reproduction have been core to science fiction at least as far back as Frankenstein," said chair of judges Andrew M. Butler. "Anne Charnock's Dreams Before the Start of Time explores the theme with a delightfully rich but unshowy intergenerational novel that demands rereading."

Award director Tom Hunter commented: "This is a much-deserved win for a writer whose time has definitely come. Charnock's multi-generational vision of expanding human reproductive technologies is smart, science-literate fiction that embraces the challenge of humanizing big ethical questions and succeeds by exploring possible future scenarios that feel utterly real."

Reading with... Jordy Rosenberg

photo: Beowulf Sheehan
Jordy Rosenberg is the author of the debut novel Confessions of the Fox (One World/Random House, June 26, 2018) and a professor of 18th-century literature and queer/trans + critical theory at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He lives in New York City and Northampton, Mass.
On your nightstand now:
Simone White's Dear Angel of Death.
Dear Angel is more than a book. It is a pulsing nebula of poetry and theory. I went to the launch of Dear Angel, and it was probably the most astonishing poetry reading I've ever been to. Now I am reading it out loud to myself.
In general, I often don't read in a continuous way; rather, I fixate and fester on certain passages/ideas/lines. White's book has me fixated on her theories of intertextuality, which she describes at one point as a relation of past to present that "herald[s] the possibility of... mutual release from the antecedent's conditions of possibility," as well as her lyric delineation of climate change ("I have come to understand ecological disaster in these limited/terms, as fallen evening..."), and the ongoingness of the work of emancipation from the destructiveness of racial capitalism ("what if/my own being/broken/is the new law").
I think I'd like to leave my nightstand-list at that for now. I'm feeling very monogamous with Dear Angel at the moment.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The book I "read" the most as a child was the illustrated guide to how babies are made, Where Did I Come From?, which my parents kept on the living room shelf. I believe they intended to introduce my sister and me to it when they deemed us ready, however they really dragged their feet about this. Meanwhile the book sat on the shelf, just out of reach, tantalizing me. I finally took matters into my own hands, sneaking out of bed and creating a pillow-ladder to reach this gem. I poured over it nightly for maybe a week. One night I returned to find it altered--my parents had realized I'd been reading it, and in what I can only assume was panic, ripped out all the relevant pages. The new version of the book left me wondering for many years if I had just dreamed up the dirty parts.
Your top five authors:
I'll just name five authors I taught this year to blow students' minds:

Ari Banias
Samuel Delany
Daniel Defoe
Karl Marx
Kai Cheng Thom
Book you've faked reading:
I faked reading Thomas Pynchon for a long time until I read Mason and Dixon and became obsessed with the way he uses weather to mark the passage of time. Then I read some other Pynchon as well, but often mostly for the scenes with weather in them.
Book you're an evangelist for:
It's not necessarily the book I'd want myself to be an evangelist for, but I have found myself extolling the sex scene (the "Opus 40" chapter) from William Vollmann's Europe Central on numerous occasions.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I think I did this with Neil Gaiman's Sandman in the '90s. I want to love graphic novels but, with the exclusion of Victor LaValle's amazing Destroyer series (which I bought and revere because I am a huge Victor LaValle fan) and the Brian Vaughn/Fiona Staples Saga series (which a friend turned me onto and which I devoured in two days straight), I haven't figured out how to read them.
Book you hid from your parents:
Clearly there was a mutual book-hiding thing going on between me and my parents. Perhaps in retaliation for their censoring Where Did I Come From?, I managed to trick them into buying me a book--the name of which I now forget, but which was helpfully opaque enough not to give away its contents--about a convent of nuns who enter into a sexual relationship with some kind of evil monster god. I grew up in New York City, and we had these radiator covers which created small nooks where a kid might hide something. I kept this book inside the radiator, along with many other weird things.
Book that changed your life:
Reading Tisa Bryant's Unexplained Presence was a life-event, for sure.
Unexplained Presence is a brilliant work of ekphrastic writing that interrogates the otherwise "unexplained" appearance of Black figures in European visual art, writing and film. Through breathtaking prose, Bryant gives life to figures otherwise suppressed or exploited by the compositions in their original form. In the preface, she describes her process as observing something that is "hidden in plain sight." The unremarked function of black figures in European art, she says, constitutes "a double-sided sleight of hand... between the maker and the receiver of the work.... Like watching two people (lovers? spies?) silently mouthing words to each other from across a crowded room...."
There's a million amazing things about this text, and one of them is the way that Bryant intensifies ekphrasis into a whir of theory, critique and historiography. And the language. Each sentence is so painstakingly composed, so startling in its word choice and formally distinctive. The sentences become geometric.
Reading this book really upped the stakes for me of writing in general. Bryant leaves no stone unturned. Not in terms of questions of racialization and representation. Not in terms of the weight and presence of history on the present. Not in terms of what sentences can do. I knew when I read it that I could never equal this brilliance. But I was provoked by it to work harder, to try not to let sentences rest. I didn't succeed at this in any way, but Unexplained Presence is a book that stands as a horizon of thought and practice.
Favorite line from a book:
"And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire."
In Capital, Karl Marx is describing the ways in which the stories of marginalized and exploited people are left out of official history books, but the mark that these stories leave on history is indelible just the same. You just have to learn new reading practices; you have to learn how to read for blood and fire.
Five books you'll never part with:
Brenna Bhandar's Colonial Lives of Property. I'm cheating because it hasn't come out yet; but Brenna is a friend, collaborator and colleague, and I am obsessed with the force and eloquence with which she analyzes the birth of private property and its ongoing devastating effects. This book is going to be precious to me and many other people, too.
Samuel Delany's About Writing. A trusty, indispensable, prismatic book on writing by one of my all-time favorite authors.
Andrea Lawlor's Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl. The first novel by my best friend; this book is a genius generic mash-up between something like a queer literary realism that has its heritage in Holleran (the late-night novel, the scavenger queer dance floor novel), Feinberg (the bar novel, the novel of queer labor and the labor of queer embodiment) and maybe even also Kerouac (the road novel), and a fabulist neofolklore experimental interruption of this realism. I stand in awe.
China Miéville's The Scar. I lived inside this one for a very magical period of time.
Sofia Samatar's Monster Portraits. I cannot handle the genius of Sofia Samatar. For me, this book--which Samatar describes as "speculative memoir"--is a kind of encrypted blueprint that makes visible the centrality of embodiment to the often abstracted discourse of resistance. The body is not so much restored to the text of revolution by monsters, as it is torn from inside that text. By monsters, it (the body) is made manifest.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Judith Butler's Gender Trouble. Actually, I wrote a whole essay about the impossibility of reading this book again for the first time.
Writer I most embarrassed myself in front of this year by fawning at too-great length after their reading:

Leni Zumas

Book Review

Review: Nodding Off: The Science of Sleep from Cradle to Grave

Nodding Off: The Science of Sleep from Cradle to Grave by Alice Gregory (Bloomsbury Sigma, $28 hardcover, 304p., 9781472946188, August 14, 2018)

British sleep researcher Alice Gregory shares her extensive knowledge and passion for the science of sleep in Nodding Off. She begins with her own story: as a sleep-deprived psychiatry student at Oxford University, Gregory was deeply affected by a lecture conducted by an American psychology professor who stressed how "slumber is essential to our waking existence" and how often the importance of sleep is underestimated.
This experience encouraged Gregory to examine closely why so little was/is known about sleep, a universal, "mysterious pastime." Throughout her psychiatric education, she studied the influence of genes and environment--nature and nurture--and whether "someone functions best in the morning, like a lark, or at night, like an owl." When she hit her 30s and gave birth to a child who refused to sleep--and also robbed Gregory of rest--her research took on deeper personal meaning, and led to this book.
Gregory probes the elusive question of "what is sleep?" by explaining processes that control sleep and wakefulness and what happens to the body, scientifically, when one slumbers. In clear, concise, layman's terms, she explains aspects of REM and NREM sleep, how brain areas manage sleep and wakefulness and how the electrical activity of the brain suggests that it is "neither motoring nor idle as we rest." Sleep, a biological process, gives the brain and body a chance to restore themselves, cleaning out toxins that build up over the course of a day.
Nodding Off covers all bases and is laden with technical information woven with examples of sleeping trials and red flags. The addition of interesting facts and trivia--such as how dolphins sleep half their brains at a time as they continue to move about--adds levity to the presentation. Gregory chronicles, in depth, the nature of sleep and challenges faced over a lifetime. She examines how gestating babies establish their own sleeping patterns; how parenting and early family dynamics play a significant role in sleep habits; and how brain development and sleep difficulties often pair up in cases of ADHD and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Moreover, Gregory explains how sleep affects moods, emotions and brain functioning, citing the ways students who start school at 8:40 a.m. versus 7:15 a.m. benefit from extra Z's. Sleep--or lack thereof--also has a direct effect on marriages, pregnancy, parenthood, menopause and old age. Insomnia and sleep deprivation have become an epidemic that complicates relationships, finances and can even lead to physical disease, mental health problems and death.
Gregory's expert perspective offers hope, though. Well-drawn, thoroughly sourced case studies and scenarios outline excellent strategies and commonsense tips for combating problems and getting better sleep. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.
Shelf Talker: A noted British expert on sleep shares her knowledge about the science and nature of sleep through every stage of life.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: How Do You Fire Booksellers?

If you are a bookstore manager or owner, how do you fire bad booksellers?

There are 99 reasons why I'm not management material, and firing people is only one. It's a big one, though, and I realized this week that I've been going to education sessions at book trade shows for more than 25 years, but can't recall a single time that staff termination procedures, a decidedly unpleasant yet unavoidable task, have been the topic of a panel discussion. Maybe my memory is bad. Maybe I just missed those sessions. Maybe I didn't want to hear the war stories. Or maybe... we don't like to talk about it.

You're Fired!
You might think that "You're fired!" as a heading is inspired by our current president, who gained some measure of fame by reciting the line like a sitcom catch phrase on his former NBC show, The Apprentice. But I actually started thinking about all this a couple of days ago when I saw a Fast Company video featuring James Corden, host of The Late Late Show on CBS, sharing his own trepidation about firing people and then demonstrating just how bad he is at it.

"I've never fired anybody in my life," he says. "I don't even like saying the word fire anyone out loud. I don't mind delivering bad news. What I don't like is being the reason for that bad news."

Good Managers, Bad Managers
Good managers fire bad employees--and bad managers fire good employees--all the time. At this very second, all across the planet, hundreds of people are being asked by their bosses if they "could just step into my office for a minute." Shortly thereafter, they emerge shocked... and sacked.

I'm most curious about the good managers. Can you fire well? Is it always awkward? Are there ever regrets? I assume bad managers fire just as they manage--badly. Images come to mind of David Brent's horrid fake-firing of Dawn in The Office; or Bill Lumbergh's passive-aggressive mistreatment of Milton in Office Space; or Captain Willard's marching orders to terminate Colonel Kurtz's command "with extreme prejudice" in Apocalypse Now (1:50 minute mark). My mind works in mysterious ways.

As it happens, my favorite bad firing of all time is bookseller themed. It happened on Black Books, when Bernard axed Manny on his first day for the worst bookselling reasons ever (18:30 minute mark): "You sold a lot of books. You got on very well with all the customers. I'm going to have to let you go."

Studies Have Shown...
According to numerous studies, book readers tend to benefit tangibly in terms of intangibles like increased empathy. That would seem to be ideal news for booksellers, but just make things harder for bookstore owners and managers.

I've read many articles with variations on this theme (via Big Think): "Research shows that reading not only helps with fluid intelligence, but with reading comprehension and emotional intelligence as well. You make smarter decisions about yourself and those around you.... Recognizing the intentions of another human also plays a role in constructing an ideology. Novels are especially well-suited for this task. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology found overlap in brain regions used to comprehend stories and networks dedicated to interactions with others."

Does enhanced emotional intelligence make it harder to dump fellow readers? I'd like to know.

The Peculiar Anxiety of Someone Else Being Fired
For any number of reasons, sometimes it just doesn't work out. They gotta go. And the person who has to break the news is put in the discomforting position of firing a bookseller they hired once upon a time because both parties considered this to be a good fit.

Although the whole closed-door, employment termination ritual is a mystery to me, I do have vivid memories of co-workers getting the axe. Occasionally I knew ahead of time that it was going to happen, knew when it was happening "in the office," and then saw the person as they emerged in their new identity as an ex-bookseller. It always sent a chill up my spine.

How Do You Do It?
In the book trade, we track title sales and store openings and staff promotions and new releases and everything else, but we have no idea, I'm sure, how many booksellers were fired last year. Sometimes those bookish casualties deserve it, though people can be, and often are, let go unfairly (bad managers again) or because of corporate closures (Borders) or flagging sales numbers (B&N).

It's complicated, yet I'm still intrigued by how firing is done. Call it constructively intrusive morbid curiosity. If you'd like to share any of your stories and strategies--on or off the record--please contact me. I'd love to learn more about this mysterious rite of passage out the door. How do you fire booksellers?

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

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