Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 5, 2018

Red Lightning Books: Weird Earth: Debunking Strange Ideas about Our Planet by Donald R Prothero

St. Martin's Press: The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1 (Dragon Heart Legacy, 1)

Houghton Mifflin: Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology) by Robin Lafevers

Clarion Books: Speak Up by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Editors' Note

Happy Columbus Day!

Because of the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day holiday, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness until Tuesday, October 9. See you then!

Red Lightning Books: The Legend of Bigfoot: Leaving His Mark on the World by T.S Mart, Mel Cabre


S&S to Open Second Warehouse, in Tenn.

To serve its expanding distribution business, Simon & Schuster is opening its second warehouse, in Milan, Tenn. The 300,000-square-foot facility will open officially on January 2. S&S also has the Riverside Distribution Center in Delran, N.J., which it expanded two years ago by 200,000 square feet to 712,000 square feet.

In connection with the new warehouse, Chris Wagner has joined S&S as v-p, general manager warehouse operations, reporting to Dave Schaeffer, v-p, distribution and fulfillment. Wagner was formerly v-p of distribution and general manager of operations at the Perseus distribution facilities in Jackson, Tenn., which is about 25 miles from Milan.

S&S president and CEO Carolyn Reidy commented: "By opening this new facility we are embarking on an important new era in Simon & Schuster's distribution business, building upon our well-known commitment to distribution and the important role it plays in Simon & Schuster's overall business."

S&S Publisher Services v-p, general manager Michael Perlman added: "Opening the Milan facility aligns perfectly with our ambitious goals for growth in distribution. Milan provides a central geographic location and a workforce already experienced in book distribution that will allow us to deliver our first-rate services to an even larger family of distribution clients, and our customers, all within the existing Simon & Schuster sales and operations infrastructure. It is an exciting opportunity and we look forward to significant growth in this new facility."

S&S Publisher Services has some 50 distribution clients, including Andrews McMeel, Baen, Baseball America, Gallup, Hazelden Publishing, Insight Editions, Kaplan Publishing, Meadowbrook Press, Open Road, Reader's Digest, Regan Arts, Tuttle, Viz Media, Weldon Owen and the World Almanac.

University of Pittsburgh Press: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories by Caroline Kim

MacArthur 'Genius' Award Authors

Kelly Link

The 25 recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants--$625,000 paid out over five years to people who "show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future"--include these poets, playwrights and writers:

Natalie Diaz, poet, for "drawing on her experience as a Mojave American and Latina to challenge the mythological and cultural touchstones underlying American society."

John Keene, writer, for "exploring the impact of historical narratives on contemporary lives and re-imagining the history of the Americas from the perspective of suppressed voices."

Kelly Link, fiction writer, for "pushing the boundaries of literary fiction in works that combine the surreal and fantastical with the concerns and emotional realism of contemporary life." (She's also co-owner of Small Beer Press.)

Dominique Morisseau, playwright, for "examining the intersection of choice and circumstance in works that portray individuals and communities grappling with economic and social changes."

Lisa Parks, media scholar, for "exploring the global reach of information technology infrastructures and the cultural, political, and humanitarian implications of the flow of information."

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Destroys the World (a Tristan Strong Novel, Book 2) by Kwame Mbalia

Bellevue Literary Press Goes Fully Independent

Bellevue Literary Press has moved from its longtime home in Bellevue Hospital in New York City to new offices in lower Manhattan, in the same building that houses the National Book Foundation and Poets & Writers. The move marks the press's transition from a "project of the New York University School of Medicine to full independence as a nonprofit literary publisher."

"We're looking forward to the nimbleness independence affords us and we remain fully committed to our mission of publishing books that enrich, engage, and provoke lively discussion and debate," said publisher and editorial director Erika Goldman.

BLP was established in 2005 at the NYU School of Medicine, and began publishing titles in 2007. Its aim has been to publish literary fiction and nonfiction "at the intersection of the arts and sciences."

In 2009, the press published Paul Harding's debut novel Tinkers, which went on to win the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was the first independently published Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction since A Confederacy of Dunces in 1981. Next January, BLP will publish a 10th-anniversary edition of Tinkers, featuring a new foreword by Marilynne Robinson.

Mary Gannon Named CLMP Executive Director

Mary Gannon is joining the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses as executive director, effective November 5. She succeeds Jeffrey Lependorf, who is also the executive director for Small Press Distribution and will continue in that role while also serving as executive director of the Flow Chart Foundation.

Since 2013, Gannon has been the associate director and director of content for the Academy of American Poets. Prior to that, she was the editorial director of Poets & Writers, the nonprofit organization serving poets and writers of literary prose. Gannon is also a widely published poet and writer. With her husband, Poets & Writers magazine editor-in-chief Kevin Larimer, she is writing The Poets & Writers Guide to the Writing Life, to be published by Simon & Schuster.

"For the past 17 years, this organization has been in the expert care of Jeffrey Lependorf, the literary world's energizer bunny," the CLMP board said. "Thanks in part to his leadership and assistance, the diverse and essential publishers he has served have never been more active, thriving, and necessary. Because of his work, more voices have been heard. We are indebted to him for his enormous contributions to the literary world and to Democracy.

"The moment we met Mary Gannon, we knew she was the person to build on Jeffrey's legacy. Having spent her career in service to the literary world, she understands the needs of all the stakeholders in our community and is expert at finding creative solutions to the unique challenges literary publishers face in amplifying the wide range of voices they publish. CLMP and the entire literary ecosystem are very lucky to have her."

Praising her predecessor as "a tireless and dedicated champion of literary publishers for the past two decades," Gannon said she looks forward "to carrying on his hard work serving this community, which is the foundation for the literary arts in our country and beyond."

Japanese Convenience Stores Partnering with Book Retailers

As traditional bookstores continue to close throughout Japan, especially in rural areas, Japanese convenience stores are increasingly adding book sections to their stores and partnering with bookstore chains, the Japan Times reported.

In August, the convenience store chain FamilyMart opened its first hybrid book/convenience store in Ogi, Saga Prefecture, through a partnership with a brokerage company called Nippon Shuppan Hanbai that owns the Sekibunkan Bookstore Co. FamilyMart plans to "open many more combined stores, mainly by renovating existing bookstores to meet local demand."

Lawson, another prominent convenience store chain, has opened 10 of its own hybrid stores in partnership with Bunkyodo, a major book retailer. At the same time, Lawson has been adding bookshelves and a small book inventory to the magazine sections at its traditional convenience stores. The company plans to have 4,000 stores with new book sections by February 2019.

Some of the challenges facing Japanese bookstores include competition with online retailers and the inability of family-owned stores to find successors. As of May 2018, research company Arumedia estimated the number of bookstores in Japan at around 12,000--a drop of about 44% since the year 2000. A 2017 survey also found that "more than 20% of all cities, wards, towns and villages across Japan lacked a bookstore."

Podcast Profiles: Reading Bug Aventures

For booksellers around the country, podcasts are becoming increasingly important to their stores and popular with their customers. In this new, occasional series, Shelf Awareness will take a look at a different bookstore's podcast in each installment.

The Reading Bug in San Carlos, Calif., debuted its podcast series Reading Bug Adventures in February 2018. The podcast, currently in its second season, features original stories and music written and performed by co-owner Lauren Savage, Reading Bug staff members and assorted friends and family. Each hour-long story is divided into two 30-minute episodes, with new episodes airing weekly. The stories focus on the Reading Bug, played by Savage's nine-year-old daughter, Chloe, as she goes on a variety of book-themed adventures; Savage narrates the series.

"What we wanted to do was create something that's an extension of our bookstore," Savage explained. "We promote books that we love and we use books in every episode to push the storyline along."

The most recent two-part episode, "A Chimpanzee Adventure," follows the Reading Bug as she visits Gombe National Park in Tanzania, walking in the footsteps of Jane Goodall. The previous two-parter, and the season two premiere, was "A Dinosaur Adventure," in which the Reading Bug travels back to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Other past episodes have focused on the wild west, outer space and the ocean depths.

Savage reported that production is a "very big, ongoing process." Although the show is recorded in seasons, stories are written all year long, primarily by Savage's husband and mother-in-law. Savage noted that the time frame varies quite a bit--some episodes are written and rewritten over a few months, while others are completed in just a couple of days. The amount of research needed to write each one, she added, is also variable.

Chloe recording an episode of Reading Bug Adventures.

Once the stories are finished, Savage writes the music. She said that given the target audience of 3- to 8-year-olds, the songs are generally short, actionable songs that have repeating sections, with themes and through-lines that run through multiple songs and episodes. At least one new song is introduced each episode, and the episodes use different musical styles. The "Dinosaur Adventure" episode, for example, featured rock-and-roll music.

Savage next casts the parts for the episode, and then they head to the recording studio. Savage said they do it "100% professionally," and once in the studio they try to spend as little time there as possible, because "boy, that gets expensive." The next step, Savage continued, is sending the recorded audio to Resonate Recordings, where it is professionally mixed and mastered.

Savage noted that when it comes to producing a podcast, they "probably chose the most difficult way you could go," but the fanbase is growing and they've started getting advertisers for episodes. They've also started a Patreon fundraiser for the podcast. Savage said she hopes to increase fundraising while continuing to bring in more advertising, and suggested that anyone interested in doing this sort of time- and cost-intensive podcast come up with a business plan as early as possible.

Around the same time that they started working on the Reading Bug Adventures, Savage began recording interviews with visiting authors. These podcasts, which feature author interviews conducted by Savage and her daughter, in character as the Reading Bug, are released during the hiatus between seasons. Savage noted that these podcasts are less labor-intensive than the story-based Reading Bug Adventures.

When asked about feedback from customers, Savage said the "coolest thing" has been fans, mostly little girls, visiting the store and looking for the Reading Bug. This summer, Savage added, they did a live episode, and her daughter dressed in a ladybug costume and signed autographs. They can also tell, based on podcast downloads, that people are listening in places as far flung as China and Australia.

"Once you start building a following, it's serious pressure," said Savage. "But it's really exciting. It means people are listening." --Alex Mutter

If you host a podcast and would like to be considered for a future Podcast Profile, please send us an e-mail.


Image of the Day: Bear & Wolf & Booksellers in the Heartland

The trade show floor was the bookish place to be yesterday during the Heartland Fall Forum in Minneapolis, Minn. Pictured: (l.-r.) Daniel Salmieri, author and illustrator of Bear and Wolf; Claudia Bedrick, Enchanted Lion Books publisher; Pamela Klinger-Horn of Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, Minn.; and Judith Kissner of Scout & Morgan Books, Cambridge, Minn., who was this year's recipient of the Midwest Bookseller of the Year Award.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doris Kearns Goodwin on To the Contrary

PBS's To the Contrary: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476795928).

TV: Human Voices

Independent producer Rebecca Gushin will adapt Penelope Fitzgerald's Human Voices for television. The Bookseller reported that Gushin "has worked as a casting professional for nearly 20 years in TV (Billions, The Benders and the forthcoming FBI) as well as films and theatre, and has now begun producing."

Katie Fulford, who heads up the dedicated TV/film team at HarperCollins, said the publisher is "absolutely delighted" to have agreed to the deal. "Rebecca's creative vision and personal passion for the project was immediately evident, and we are certain she will be a fantastic guardian for this fascinating story as she works to bring that vision from page to screen."

Gushin added that she has loved the novel "since college when I magically discovered it tucked into a corner of my local bookstore. On a whim, I bought it and immediately fell under the spell of this story, one from which I've never emerged. I've dreamed of seeing these characters come to life on a screen for twenty years, while secretly nurturing the hope that I could somehow be the one to make that dream a reality. I am honored to have been entrusted by Ms. Fitzgerald's estate with this beautiful story and I look forward to working with them on a television series that will introduce viewers to these wonderful, flawed, hilarious characters and the fascinating world they inhabit."

Books & Authors

Awards: BBC National Short Story

Trinidadian writer Ingrid Persaud won the £15,000 (about $19,525) BBC National Short Story Award for "The Sweet Sop." Judge and former winner K.J. Orr described the winning work as "tender and ebullient, heartbreaking and full of humor." Persaud's story also won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017.

Chair of judges Stig Abell, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, said they "were unanimous in their praise for a story which keeps a consistency of voice without smoothing over the reality of genuine conflict. The relationship between Victor and Reggie, estranged father and son, who find solace in chocolate, is an utterly convincing and memorable one, a clever inversion of normal parental process."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular September Books

The two most popular books in September at Reading Group Choices were Trouble the Water: A Novel by Jacqueline Friedland (SparkPress) and The Best of Us: A Memoir by Joyce Maynard (Bloomsbury).

Reading with... Chris Womersley

photo: Roslyn Oades
Chris Womersley is the author of four novels and numerous short stories. His work has been translated, broadcast on BBC and ABC radio and won or been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Miles Franklin Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the BBC International Short Story Prize and the Golden Dagger Award. His most recent novel is City of Crows (Europa, September 18, 2018), which has been described as Hieronymus Bosch in literary form. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and son.
On your nightstand now:
I'm a chronic re-reader of things, so some of these titles are yet to be read, while others I'm taking a look at again for some reason. There's almost too many to list, but there's an old edition of the Paris Review, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, Philip Roth's Zuckerman Unbound, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the collected stories of Joy Williams and the collected stories of Clarice Lispector.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I remember really loving a book called The Great Ghost Rescue, which was about a community of ghosts and ghouls who are threatened with being turned out of their ruined Scottish castle home because it is going to be developed into a resort. I was also a fan of the Enid Blyton Magic Faraway Tree series. Later, I loved My Side of the Mountain, about a teenage boy who runs away from his family to live self-sufficiently in the mountains.
Your top five authors:
This one actually depends on which week you ask me, but I'll give you my current list: Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, Donna Tartt, Zadie Smith and Anthony Powell.
Book you've faked reading:
I honestly don't think I have pretended to read a book--unless it was something for high school. I don't really care too much what people might think of the books I've read or not read.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Most recently, it would have to be Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Hardly an original choice, I know, but what an amazing novel. I tried reading it when I was younger and didn't get very far, but tried again late last year and was amazed by it. So deeply strange, so involving, so wild in genre and spirit and containing so many profound, beautiful images and lines. The chapter "The Grand Armada," in which the Pequod encounters a group of whale calves nursing at their mothers with their eyes gazing upwards, "as if leading two different lives at the time; and while yet drawing mortal nourishment, be still spiritually feasting upon some unearthly reminiscence" haunts me almost daily.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I recently bought an early edition of the prolific French writer George Simenon's Maigret and the Young Girl that features a wonderful noirish cover of our eponymous hero in a trench coat lurking in the shadows.
Book you hid from your parents:
Book that changed your life:
I think Charles Dickens's Great Expectations changed my life in some ways. My mother read it to me when I was around 11 or 12 years old and although I didn't understand it at the time, it is easy for me to see now the ways in which it has influenced and become embedded in my own imagination. The ruined lives, the gothic overtones, the vivid characters both major and minor and the accumulation of detail are all things I still look for and find immensely satisfying in the novels I read now.
Favorite line from a book:
I always loved the opening line of Marguerite Duras's The Lover: "One day I was already old."
Also this, from On Beauty by Zadie Smith: "Aaah vay-ay, aah vay, sang the young men; the faint, hopeful leap of the first three notes, the declining dolour of the following three; the coffin passing so close to Howard's elbow he sensed its weight in his arms; the woman inside it, only seven years older than Howard himself; the prospect of her infinite residence in there; the prospect of his own; the Kipps children weeping behind it; a man in front of Howard checking his watch as if the end of the world (for so it was for Carlene Kipps) was a mere inconvenience in his busy day, even though this fellow too would live to see the end of his world, as would Howard, as do tens of thousands of people every day, few of whom, in their lifetimes, are ever able to truly believe in the oblivion to which they are dispatched."
Five books you'll never part with:
I have a few books that have become sort of talismanic for me. My signed copy of Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel, Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson, my copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road (which I am ashamed to say I stole from a bookstore when I was 15), The Secret History by Donna Tartt and my battered, high school copy of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Argh. So many. Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time is a sequence of 12 novels set from around 1920 through to the late 1960s and is concerned with the lives of a group of English toffs across those years. Not really about anything--and consequently about everything--it is funny, moving, profound and wise and it remains one of the deepest and most pleasurable reading experiences of my life.

Book Review

Review: Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves

Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves by Jesse Bering (University of Chicago Press, $27.50 hardcover, 272p., 9780226463322, November 5, 2018)

Suicide is one of the toughest subjects to write about, and psychologist Jesse Bering (The Belief Instinct) does it with candor, scientific integrity and genuine empathy in Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves.
The book is part memoir: Bering writes about his own demons and suicidal tendencies, exacerbated by a depressive disorder and problems in his professional life. For a gay man, these feelings are nothing new; he experienced them in his youth when he was closeted. In this way, Bering frames his book in starkly personal terms--as someone deeply invested in understanding suicide and preventing tragedy. The book itself is a testament to the human spirit. Researching and writing the book, he says, was a way to combat suicidal ideation and give his own life a renewed sense of purpose.
What Bering discovered along the way is broken up into several chapters. He traces the history of suicide research, delving into the unsettled science. From an evolutionary standpoint, he finds that while other species are known to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, humans stand out as the only species who use suicide to escape emotional agony. He connects this to humans' social nature and ability to project negatively into the future. Besides scientific research, the book draws on existentialist thinkers and writers and includes substantial anecdotes from kin of suicide victims. The latter stories are treated carefully as Bering homes in on the ultimate question of why. Why do people kill themselves knowing it will cause pain to others? In later chapters, Bering investigates the question from a moral stand point, delving into religious beliefs and the ethics of suicide. The discussion is nothing less than compelling, and to his credit, Bering, an atheist, resists moralizing while considering the moral complexities of the act.
The most important chapter in the book, "Hacking the Suicidal Mind," is grounded firmly in psychology and presents the distinct psychological stages that lead to suicide, including falling short of expectations and disinhibition. These stages are delineated clearly and can be used practically in suicide prevention, helping readers "recognize distinct landmarks in your own suicidal mind or that of someone you love."
Throughout Suicidal, Bering emphasizes the human need to connect with others. Even one person is enough to bring someone back from the brink, whether a family member, a stranger, or a friend "who ventures to love us despite us." It's a vital message. And Suicidal is a vital book--informative, engaging and enlightening despite its dark subject matter. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset
Shelf Talker: A psychologist mixes memoir and science in this in-depth, comprehensive and painfully personal study of suicide.

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