Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 3, 2018

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith


Geek Inc. Buys Empire Books & News

Geek Inc., an Ashland, Ky., company that operates two Inner Geek comic book stores, along with the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention, has purchased Empire Books & News in Huntington, W.Va., the Herald-Dispatch reported.

Empire Books & News first opened in Pullman Square in downtown Huntington in 2004. Geek Inc. officially took over operations on August 1, and according to a Geek Inc. Facebook post about the acquisition, the entire Empire Books staff is staying on through the transition. The company also said that "some cosmetic upgrades, [an] expansion back into the former 12,000-square-feet footprint, additional product lines and a name change will come in time, but in the short term it's business as usual at the store."

Geek Inc. is owned by Jarrod and Jaime Greer. They praised Empire Books' "great customer service, community outreach, competitive pricing, and availability of hard to find items" and said Geek Inc. was "committed to the continuation of the ideas which have made Empire Books a great local bookstore."

Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar

Jenn Gonzalez Now Executive V-P, Sales Director at Macmillan

Jenn Gonzalez

Jenn Gonzalez has been promoted to executive v-p, director of sales, for the Macmillan Publishing Group U.S. She joined Macmillan in 2012 as v-p of children's sales, and in 2014 added merchandise sales to her responsibilities. Most recently, she served as senior v-p, trade sales. She has also held sales leadership roles at Random House, Candlewick Press and Levy (now Readerlink).

Announcing the promotion, Macmillan president Don Weisberg said: "Jenn has a great passion for books, deft business sensibilities, and a superb rapport with colleagues, customers, and authors. The growth in children's books and merchandise sales have been spectacular. I am confident that Jenn, with the terrific support of her first-rate team, is the right person to lead not only our sales organization, but our books, audios, and authors to continued success."

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Chapters Victoria to Move, Reopen as Indigo

The Chapters bookstore in downtown Victoria, B.C., will close at the end of the summer after 21 years in business, then move north to the Mayfair Shopping Centre, where it will be rebranded as Indigo when it reopens this fall. The Times Columnist reported that a "large Indigo sign has already been erected at Mayfair, which is completing a $72-million expansion to add 100,000 square feet of retail space, for a total of 544,000 square feet, and adding about 400 new parking spaces."

Kate Gregory, spokeswoman for Indigo, confirmed the decision, adding that existing Chapters staff will be working in the new location. The Indigo store will reflect "our new store concept showcasing a warm and modern esthetic where customers can explore the best in books, beautiful and exclusive in-house designed lifestyle products and must-have specialty brands."

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Bookmiser's Roswell, Ga., Location to Close

Bookmiser New & Used Books will close its Roswell, Ga., location at the end of the September. Bookmiser's East Cobb location will remain open.

In a Facebook post announcing the closure, Bookmiser noted that effective immediately, the Roswell store will be discounting its entire inventory. And while customers can still trade in books at the East Cobb branch, trade-ins will no longer be accepted at Roswell. The Roswell store will also maintain normal business hours until the end of next month.

The Bookmiser team wrote that they hope "all our Roswell customers will frequent our East Cobb store in the future. Thank you again for your continued support."

Prelude Books Acquires Mayer's Duckworth Press

Prelude Books has acquired the "majority of publishing assets" of the late Peter Mayer's company Duckworth Press for an undisclosed sum, the Bookseller reported. The deal coincides with the sale of Mayer's Overlook Press to Abrams earlier this week. Duckworth was founded 120 years ago and purchased in 2003 by Mayer, who died in May at the age of 82.

The new Duckworth imprint will release about 20 books a year with Prelude, focusing on popular science, memoir, history and psychology. It joins current imprints Prelude and Farrago, which focus on nonfiction and humorous fiction respectively. Head of trade sales Matt Casbourne will also join Prelude Books from Duckworth, reporting to publisher Pete Duncan.

"We are thrilled to welcome Duckworth to Prelude Books, and I am especially pleased that Matt will play an enlarged role in championing the list to the trade," said Duncan. "Peter Mayer did so much for U.K. publishing, before building the present-day Duckworth list, that it feels an honor to be in this position."

Obituary Note: Vladimir Voinovich

Russian author Vladimir Voinovich, "whose satirical novels vexed the Soviet authorities in the Leonid Brezhnev era, resulting in his banishment from the country for a decade," died July 27, the New York Times reported. He was 85. Voinovich "first incurred the displeasure of the authorities by supporting high-profile dissidents in the mid-1960s," then inflamed them with his novel The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin. "Call it a masterpiece of a new form--socialist surrealism," Theodore Solotaroff wrote in the Times Book Review in 1977. "Call it the Soviet Catch-22, as written by a latter‐day Gogol."

Voinovich left the country in 1980, moving to West Germany to join the faculty of the Institute of Fine Arts in Munich. The following year his Soviet citizenship was revoked, though Mikhail S. Gorbachev restored it a decade later.

His books include Moscow 2042 (1986), The Fur Hat (1989), The Ivankiad (1976), Monumental Propaganda (2000), Pretender to the Throne (1979), A Displaced Person (2007), as well as a memoir, Self-Portrait (2010), and the nonfiction book Portrait Against a Background of a Myth (2002).

In the Moscow Times, Victor Davidoff wrote: "In emigration I met with Voinovich many times, whenever we were in the same country. Every time we met I was struck by his candor and easy manner. Sincerity and directness weren't just Voinovich's characteristics as a writer and public figure--that's the way he was in person, too. There was no playing for the public. He said what he thought--always and with everyone. He responded to aggressive criticism with jokes, if he responded at all.... Voinovich knew right from wrong... and he stuck to his principles no matter what the consequences. In life he was a kind of moral compass, and now that he is gone, we still have his works to find that moral due north."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Wisdom of Morrie:
Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully
by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Twenty-five years ago, Mitch Albom immortalized his former college professor in Tuesdays with Morrie, the blockbuster memoir that shared Morrie Schwartz's profound insights about life as he was dying of ALS. In The Wisdom of Morrie, Rob Schwartz, Morrie's son, resurrects his father's voice, sharing Morrie's philosophical wisdom and humor about the aging process--what can be an emboldening period filled with meaning and purpose. "This book is invaluable to anyone interested in improving their quality of life," says Rick Bleiweiss, head of new business development at Blackstone Publishing. "Readers who enjoy[ed] The Last Lecture and When Breath Becomes Air will expand their awareness and find new ideas and insights into living more fully." Schwartz's musings are timeless, and inspirational for readers of all ages. --Kathleen Gerard

(Blackstone Publishing, $25.99 hardcover, 9798200813452,
April 18, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Cool Idea of the Day: 'First Saturday Harvest'

On the first Saturday of the month, Akwete Tyehimba, owner of Pan African Connection Bookstore Art Gallery and Resource Center, Dallas, Tex., "is making a conscious effort to religiously feed the community--for free--with the First Saturday Harvest," the Observer reported.

"April was our first one," she said. "We had already been doing classes on growing your food, cooking and things like that. So, we've always had an ongoing program of teaching people how to eat healthy. People with gardens would always bring me food to give away."

Harvest Project Food Rescue collects food that would otherwise be thrown away from produce companies. Danaë Gutiérrez Martínez, co-founder and executive director of Harvest Project, organizes communities to pick up the food and donate it.

Tyehimba noted that a lot of effort is put into sorting through the food: "We wouldn't serve you what we wouldn't eat ourselves. We have to teach people not to waste food, because it's not a part of our culture to waste. We need to learn to go back to our old ways of being sustainable and recycling. Be resourceful, not wasteful.... I think it's the health issues that are facing our people. To me, it's just natural that we are being attentive to these health issues. We know, naturally, that we need to do something different. We see that our people are suffering health-wise, so we know we have to do better."

BookNet Canada Q&A: Sarah Ramsey of Another Story Bookshop

Sarah Ramsey

Sarah Ramsey, manager of  Another Story Bookshop in Toronto, fielded five questions from BookNet Canada, which is speaking with "the people on the ground, selling books to Canadians each and every day." Among our favorite exchanges:

[W]hat attracted you to bookselling?
Books. Words. Ideas. And a staff discount.

Do you have a favorite bookselling war story?
I was working at a desk at Book City in Bloor West Village recently and a little girl, likely no older than five, was sitting behind me with a BIG stack of books on her lap. She started loudly squealing, and, at first, I was irritated by it. But then I listened to what she was saying, and she was proclaiming "These books are so beautiful!" and "This store is so beautiful!" and gosh, tears were welling in my eyes. She left with that stack of books. And that is why I do what I do.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing bookselling today?
There are many issues facing bookselling: the lack of diversity in publishing (reflected in the lack of diversity in the industry and in the books that are being published); the continued commodification of books and the need, since the economic downturn, to buy books at the lowest price without respect for their real value; and the change in how people buy their books, and how bookstores persist in being showrooms for online retailers.

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Bartleby’s Books

Bill Palizzolo of Northeast Publishers Reps shared a sidewalk chalkboard photo taken this week outside Bartleby's Books in Wilmington, Vt. The sign reads: "Dinosaurs didn't read and now they're extinct. Coincidence?"



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sabine Hossenfelder on Science Friday

PRI's Science Friday: Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (Basic Books, $30, 9780465094257).

TV: Animal Farm

Just days after acquiring his film Mowgli from Warner Bros, Netflix "has doubled down with Andy Serkis by acquiring rights to the George Orwell novel Animal Farm," Deadline reported. Serkis will direct a performance-capture film, which will be produced by 6th & Idaho's Matt Reeves, Rafi Crohn and Adam Kassan along with the Imaginarium's Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish.

Serkis and Cavendish "have wanted to make this movie for years, and Serkis originally planned to play a role in the film when the Imaginarium first made a rights deal with the George Orwell Estate in 2012," Deadline wrote.

"We are incredibly excited to have finally found the perfect creative home in Netflix for this extraordinarily zeitgeist work by George Orwell," said Serkis. "On top of that, to be re-united with my great friend Matt Reeves--with his acute sensitivity, storytelling intelligence and honesty and command in this realm--is to have the very best scenario for our long-held passion to bring this fable alive."

Cavendish said the intention is to adapt Animal Farm "in a thoroughly contemporary fashion, which will highlight the staggering relevance today of the satirical and dramatic power of Orwell's re-imagined classic."

Books & Authors

Awards: Midwest Booksellers Choice; Royal Society Science

The winners of the Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards, sponsored by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Fiction: The Immortalists by ​Chloe Benjamin (Putnam)
Nonfiction: The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman, with contributions from Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press)
Poetry: Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)
YA and Middle Grade: The Clue in the Trees: An Enchantment Lake Mystery by Margi Preus (University of Minnesota Press)
Children's Picture Book: A Different Pond by Bao Phi (Capstone Young Readers)

The authors will be honored October 3 during the book awards celebration at the Heartland Fall Forum in Minneapolis, Minn.


A shortlist has been unveiled for the £25,000 (about $32,595) Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize, which celebrates "science writing for a non-specialist audience." The winner will be announced October 1. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Inventing Ourselves by Sarah Jayne Blakemore
The Unexpected Truth About Animals by Lucy Cooke
The Beautiful Cure by Daniel M. Davis
Hello World by Hannah Fry
Liquid by Mark Miodownik
Exactly by Simon Winchester

Reading with... Alice Bolin

photo: Justin Davis
Alice Bolin is the author of Dead Girls (Morrow, June 26, 2018), a collection of essays about crime, gender, and the American West. Her criticism, personal essays and journalism have appeared in publications including Elle, Salon, Racked and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She is assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.
On your nightstand now:
Since I've been in book tour mode the past few weeks, I have been missing my books and the nightstand I put them on, and my reading has been all over the place. I've been mostly reading from the random books I have on my e-reader, including My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Was reading Michelle Tea's great collection of essays Against Memoir before I left home, so it might still be on my nightstand or coffee table.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Any series about plucky historical girls (Dear America, American Girl) or plucky contemporary girls (the Baby-sitters Club and any of its imitators).
Your top five authors:
This question is insane! I'm going to ignore my favorite poets for time's sake (John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Richard Hugo, Sylvia Plath...). I guess I choose Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Muriel Spark, Joy Williams and Rachel Kushner. Does anyone ever just choose five?
Book you've faked reading:
Basically every book assigned to complete my history major at the University of Nebraska.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin, which I have taught in my nonfiction workshop, bought as a gift for many friends and for my mom, and which I myself own three copies of. It is one of the funniest, most effective and most original memoirs I've ever read, and I love it with my whole heart.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan Koerner, about the skyjacking epidemic, which turned out to play a big part in my book!
Book you hid from your parents:
I kept Teen Witch, Silver RavenWolf's book of spells for young Pagans, under my bed when I was nine, but I don't think my parents would have cared.
Book that changed your life:
The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm changed the way I think about every aspect of crime, from the way it is reported to criminal psychology to notions of guilt, innocence and evidence.
Favorite line from a book:
"The voice of the hot dog merchant split the dusk like an axe." --from Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep
Five books you'll never part with:
Miss Lonely Hearts and The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, published in one convenient volume by New Directions, are books I could read an unlimited amount of times. Joan Didion's collected nonfiction, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, was my primer as I was learning to write nonfiction. It is massive and I used to carry it around with me everywhere. I thought I lost my copy of White Girls by Hilton Als and nearly had an aneurysm. The Professor by Terry Castle is a book I keep on my e-reader and my phone at all times to read when I'm bored. My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta is one of the most essential and unusual memoirs I've ever read, and I love to assign it to my nonfiction students.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
When I first read Beloved by Toni Morrison, I immediately flipped back to the first page and read it again.
Books you wanted to mention in this interview but weren't able to work in:
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang, Delicious Foods by James Hannaham, The Possessed by Elif Batuman and Made for Love by Alissa Nutting.

Book Review

Review: Lake Success

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart (Random House, $28 hardcover, 352p., 9780812997415, September 4, 2018)

Gary Shteyngart's 2010 novel, Super Sad True Love Story, offered a disturbing glimpse at a dystopian future for the United States. In Lake Success, his fourth novel, he applies his ample gift for satire, leavened by a keen appreciation for human frailty, to survey an equally troubled present for that same country.
Forty-three-year-old Barry Cohen is a hedge fund manager with a bit of a literary bent. His This Side of Capital fund, named for F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, faces a wave of client redemptions after a three-year losing streak, its assets depleted by more than half, to a mere $2.4 billion. To make matters worse, Barry is under scrutiny by the SEC, on suspicion that he traded on insider information to short the stock of a company about to release a new drug.
And so, in the summer of 2016, he flees his apartment in New York City's Flatiron District, leaving behind his much younger wife, Seema, a Yale Law School graduate who's abandoned her promising career to care for the couple's three-year-old autistic son, Shiva. Barry boards a Greyhound bus with $1,200 in cash and a suitcase full of the vintage watches he avidly collects, hoping to "see the country as it really is" and perhaps reconnect with his first love from his college days at Princeton.
Barry's journey across the Deep South to California--where his father, whose pool-cleaning business in Queens reflects Barry's humble origins, is buried--explores issues of class and race. This is a U.S. in the midst of being torn apart by a bitterly divisive presidential campaign, becoming "archipelagos of normalcy amid a dry, angry heat." But Shteyngart never trades any character's humanity for easy caricature. Barry's interactions with a young drug dealer in Baltimore and fellow bus passengers--all people who would find his affluence inconceivable--range from tender to disturbing.
Shteyngart also skillfully plumbs Barry's psyche. In everything from the size of an apartment to an estimate of another couple's net worth, Barry's lifelong insecurity drives him to an endless process of invidious comparison. And as Seema tries to cope with Shiva's severe autism--what the family refers to euphemistically as "the diagnosis"--without Barry's involvement, Shteyngart offers a painfully realistic portrait of a marriage in crisis.
As is the case with most road stories, much of the pleasure of Lake Success lies in the journey, not the destination. And yet Shteyngart brings the book to a close in a post-trip epilogue that's both moving and profoundly satisfying. For all the uneasy feeling of recognition it may provoke, this is a bighearted novel, whose generosity and essentially good nature might leave readers feeling just a little more optimistic about the future than they are when they pick it up. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer
Shelf Talker: Gary Shteyngart's Lake Success offers an MRI of life in the United States in the second decade of the 21st century.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: There Are Books on My TV

Choose the answer(s) that best describes your viewing habits as a book person:

  • I don't watch TV.
  • I wouldn't have a TV in my house.
  • The book is always better than the screen (big or small) adaptation.
  • All of the above.
  • None of the above.

I'll take... #5.

There are many, many books in my house and one television set. I read. I watch. Sometimes I watch books I've read (Howard's End) and sometimes I watch books I haven't read (Patrick Melrose). Although I still "go to the movies" regularly, the ongoing evolution of quality long-form book-to-TV series (The Handmaid's Tale, McMafia, Sharp Objects, Get Shorty) and rapid turnaround of film adaptations from theaters to TV have altered my viewing habits.

In addition, my responsibilities as a Shelf Awareness editor include reading "the trades" (Variety, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, IndieWire, etc.) and monitoring social media. I probably think more about book-to-screen adaptation news than is healthy, but the side effects have been minimal. Call it screen awareness. A sampling:

On Wednesday, the Book House in Maplewood, Mo., posted on Facebook: "Coming soon to a TV or theater near you! Read them before you see them!!!" Included were jacket cover photos of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, George R.R. Martin's Night Flyers and Other Stories, and Alexandra Bracken's The Darkest Minds. I liked seeing that.

Deadline reported last week that executives for TV and streaming services "love pitches from creative types bearing books." Apparently, the execs "love holding something that exists that you are going to translate.... It makes them feel secure," said Jack Bender, director and executive producer of (Stephen King's) Mr. Mercedes. Raelle Tucker, exec producer of Sacred Lies, which was adapted from Stephanie Oakes's The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, agreed: "I had a road map and such a fleshed out character," enabling her to go into a pitch meeting saying, " 'Here is the arc of this character' with such specificity. It's a gift, being given material from such a great writer."

According to research from the Publishers Association in the U.K., dramas based on literary sources attracted a 56% larger share of the TV audience between 2013 and 2017 than those based on original scripts. The study found that "across any of the common measures of viewership, book adaptations on average outperform shows based on original scripts or on comic books and other sources." The Bookseller reported that in the case of The Night Manager (BBC, 2016), "the research revealed that while the John le Carré novel has been in circulation for over 25 years, 82% of the copies it sold have been in 2016 and 2017 alone. Sales of the standard (non-tie-in) paperback edition have remained strong even after the series went off the air, and were nearly 10 times higher a year later (2017) than the year prior to airing (2015)."

Earlier this month, Forbes noted: "Increasingly, the biggest tech and entertainment companies, from Amazon to Netflix to Apple, are in need of intellectual property to develop into niche or four-quadrant hits across the mediums of television, film, and narrative audio. The ideal source material can be (relatively) inexpensively produced, can explore a massive variety of ideas, and is copyrighted by a single individual, making the rights easy to negotiate. Books and comic books meet all these stipulations...."

"As the television medium continues to expand, novelists are increasingly moving into TV writers' rooms and developing small-screen projects of their own," Entertainment Weekly noted in featuring a conversation between authors Megan Abbott and Tom Perrotta. Abbott has three book adaptations in development (including Give Me Your Hand) and worked on HBO's The Deuce. Perrotta adapted The Leftovers into an award-winning HBO series with Damon Lindelof, and is currently producing a pilot based on his novel Mrs. Fletcher.

"As we know. it's very hard to get movies made now," Abbott said. "I would have stayed there: I tend to think in three acts and I don't have that many characters; I just think of [my books] more as movies. Maybe it's better, then, that I'm adapting these for TV because I get so knocked out of the book so quickly. They're so limited, and you couldn't maintain that for TV. You have to have more characters, you have to have a larger world. It makes me surrender that quality of the book."

Perrotta agreed: "That to me was a huge difference between TV and feature films.... It's so interesting to think of TV as a place to supplement the novel and build on the novel. Turning the novel into a feature film was always a matter of shaving off so it could fit in this very narrow box. I love the idea that we can, in this [TV] form, just suddenly decide, 'Let's focus on the school secretary. What's going on with her?' It does feel like the world is full of stories and these stories collide; you create a space where all kinds of stories can intersect and develop."

It's probably not a coincidence that my first "personal library" consisted of a wooden bookshelf, built by my father, that showcased all 24 editions of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization series, based on the 1960s TV spy show. There have always been books on my TV.

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

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