Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 25, 2018

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

Forge: Mr Katō Plays Family by Milena Michiko Flašar, translated by Caroline Froh

Ballantine Books: The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Island Press: The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature's Hidden Rules by Tim Blackburn

Berkley Books: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Books: The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Quotation of the Day

'Turn Again to the Halls of Print?'

"Should I lay down my iPhone and repent, turn again to the halls of print and hold a book like a talisman once more, a reminder of how truths on paper have set me free: truths of the imagination, of science, of faith? Visit my local bookshop while it still remains and buy New Zealand made? Yes, I think so."

--Poet Jeffrey Holman, quoted by Booksellers NZ in an announcement about the fifth annual New Zealand Bookshop Day, which will be held this Saturday, October 27

William Morrow & Company: Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs


Rent Increase Drives NYC's Drama Book Shop to Close, Seek New Space

New York City's much beloved Drama Book Shop, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year, is closing its store at 250 W. 40th St. in January because of a big rent increase, Crain's New York Business reported. The bookstore hopes to reopen, either in the Theater District or nearby, although likely in a smaller space.

This is becoming an all-too-familiar story. Only two weeks ago, McNally Jackson confirmed that its flagship store will leave its space in SoHo because its landlord wants to raise its rent to $850,000 a year from the current $360,000. Owner Sarah McNally is also looking for a new space.

The 20-year lease on Drama Book Shop's current location ends in January, and is about $240,000 a year. The landlord had proposed a 50% increase, to $360,000 a year.

But Allen Hubby, whose aunt Rozanne Seelen owns the bookstore, said the store is struggling to pay the current rent. He told Crain's: "It's hard to cover a $20,000 [monthly] rent when most of the books you offer only cost about $10. Not to mention salaries, the costs of buying the books, electricity, taxes. We can't afford it."

He added that Seelen, who is 83 and plans to pass along the business to him, has been dipping into personal savings to subsidize the store. Hubby said he expects the shop's space to be reduced by half in a move. The store's 60-seat basement theater space will not be re-created.

Hubby noted that the store has lost some business to Amazon, and also suffered when a pipe burst in the building upstairs in February 2016 and sent 20,000 gallons of water into the store, ruining 20% of its merchandise. That disaster led to a heartwarming effort by friends of the store to raise money for repairs and book replacements. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote Hamilton and starred in its original production, was influential in that effort, encouraging his many Twitter followers to buy books there and doing a signing at the store. Drama Book Shop also held a benefit show to raise funds.

William Morrow & Company: A Death in Denmark: The First Gabriel Præst Novel by Amulya Malladi

Little, Brown Creating Illustrated Book Imprint

Little, Brown is creating an imprint dedicated to illustrated books that will begin publishing in fall 2019 and grow to publish 20-25 titles a year; it will be led by v-p, editorial director Michael Szczerban.

Michael Szczerban

As yet unnamed, the imprint aims, the company said, to publish "distinctive, bestselling illustrated books of the highest quality that entertain, inform, and inspire--while expanding the possibilities of visually-driven nonfiction and connecting readers to their passions. The authors and creators the imprint will publish bring expertise, vision, and voice to their work. They are artists, entrepreneurs, cooks, photographers, tastemakers, thought leaders, scientists, storytellers, historians, humorists, and more--and they will continue a tradition of excellence in illustrated publishing at Little, Brown."

The tradition has included, the company noted, its 40-year partnership with the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust; Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza; The Flavor Bible; Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard; Milk Street by Christopher Kimball; The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*Ck; and Cabin Porn.

Reagan Arthur, senior v-p and publisher of Little, Brown, said of Szczerban, who has been executive editor for four years and earlier held editorial positions at Regan Arts and Simon & Schuster: "Since he arrived at Little, Brown, Mike has been a bold and creative presence, acquiring, editing, and producing spectacular, bestselling books across a diverse range of subjects. I'm thrilled to see him expand his reach with this exciting new imprint."

Szczerban added: "Little, Brown is a uniquely supportive home for authors and editors, and it has been the joy of my career to bring new books to life with my extraordinary colleagues here. I am tremendously excited to embark on this adventure with them."

Associate editor Nicky Guerreiro will join the imprint full time, and new hires will include a marketer.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 02.06.23

Obituary Note: Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland, "a widely admired poet who could be both humorous and heartfelt, often in the same poem," died October 23, the New York Times reported. He was 64. Hoagland "found insights and imagery in the everyday: a pool in an Austin, Tex., park; a spaghetti strap on a woman's dress that won't stay put; an old man dying awash in paranoia from too much Fox News."

His publisher, Graywolf Press, tweeted: "We are deeply saddened to hear of Tony Hoagland's passing. Tony was a longtime Graywolf poet and essayist, and our thoughts are with his loved ones."

Hoagland's books include Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God (2018); Recent Changes in the Vernacular (2017); Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays (2014); What Narcissism Means to Me (2003); Application for Release from the Dream (2015); Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (2010); and Donkey Gospel (1998).

He "liked jarring juxtapositions, and he wasn't afraid to throw pop-culture references into his poems or go for a laugh-out-loud response," the Times noted, adding that a poem he read often--including on the PBS NewsHour in 2012 for Valentine's Day--was "Romantic Moment" (2007), about a couple who has just watched a nature documentary.

Rich Levy, a colleague at the University of Houston and director of Inprint, said: "You could see this anti-elitism in his publications--witness Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft, which by its title says, 'Come on in, we promise not to take ourselves too seriously.' Even though Tony loved poetry so deeply, he didn't want his passion for it to exclude anyone who was open and ready to read and think."

From Hoagland's poem "Lucky":

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon

ABA's Pre-Order Task Force Success Stories

In recent years, pre-order sales have become a major part of the publishing business, in some cases accounting for as much as 30% of total sales for specific titles. And it is a part of the business almost entirely dominated by Amazon. Conversations about pre-orders have been going on for a while between the American Booksellers Association and its publishing partners, but the subject became even more urgent earlier this year, with the announcements of Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, Michelle Obama's Becoming and A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, which was created by John Oliver's HBO show Last Week Tonight. In these cases, indies lost out on significant pre-order possibilities.

In response, the ABA has adjusted its IndieCommerce platform to allow individual stores to set their own pre-order parameters for forthcoming titles; created a new e-mail address to more rapidly receive metadata of suddenly announced titles; and formed a 22-store task force to experiment with driving pre-order sales of seven titles released between September and November.

Books Inc. promotion

All but one of the task force titles--An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis, Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney, Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin and Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny--featured some sort of added-value pre-order bonus, from pins or tote bags to signed copies and a letter from the author. Publishers also shared digital marketing assets with the ABA. And with the majority of the titles now on store shelves, task force members have had a chance to reflect on the experience.

"The attitude at the beginning of the call was dismal," said Robert Sindelar, ABA president and managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna and Seward Park, Wash., recalling the first task force meeting in July. Some common complaints from the other 21 stores were that they had tried pre-orders with a title or two in the past and it didn't work, or that they worried it would be a lot of effort for little return.

"Two months later, the tone was very different," Sindelar continued. "People had numerous success stories. What worked at one store didn't always work at another, but everybody figured out something that worked for them."

At Third Place Books, Sindelar and his staff did most of their pre-order promotions online, and advertised the task force titles in pairs rather than all at once, believing that the repetitive messaging would be more valuable. They did, however, create a custom landing page that housed all of the task force titles. During the course of the testing period, Third Place Books also chose several other books to promote as pre-orders that weren't part of the test group--some standouts included Sally Fields's In Pieces and Turning Pages by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

And while Third Place did have success with various pre-order titles, Sindelar noted that perhaps the most striking thing was the way in which promoting the test titles led to an increase in pre-orders across the board. Sindelar pointed to Bob Woodward's Fear as the best example of that--although Third Place Books wasn't promoting that title specifically, the store saw a dramatic increase in pre-orders after it was announced.

With the last of the test titles hitting shelves soon, Sindelar has been looking ahead at upcoming titles and promoting pre-orders on a consistent, ongoing basis. At this point, he said, books generally "need some name recognition" to work well as pre-orders, along with some added value in the form of signed copies or merchandise. But once a store has its customers' attention, once that message has penetrated enough, any upcoming book can be promoted as a pre-order.

"This doesn't work if you only do it for one book a year," said Sindelar. "The power in it is reminding your customers over and over again."

Unlike many indie bookstores, Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., has been pursuing pre-order sales for a number of years. According to bookseller and marketing manager Josh Cook, the efforts to drive pre-orders came after a chat some three or four years ago with one of the store's publisher reps, who mentioned that indies were "getting killed" in that regard. Porter Square created a section on its website--"Books from the Future"--devoted to pre-orders; created a Tumblr that automatically posts one book for pre-order roughly every day; and began partnering with a variety of authors, from major names like Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer to writers with much smaller audiences, for signed pre-order campaigns.

Cook said that over the past few years of working to drive pre-orders, two of the big takeaways have been that author participation, such as tweeting a link to the bookstore's pre-order page, goes a very long way toward making a campaign successful, and that whenever Porter Square has done a specific pre-order campaign, pre-order numbers for a range of titles go up. Cook explained that even if a big, intensive pre-order campaign sells only a dozen copies or so, "you're going to see overall pre-orders go up."

During the recent test period, Porter Square didn't do much differently, though the store created more in-store displays and promotions than it normally would for pre-order titles. That strategy, Cook said, worked particularly well with the Murakami book, which came with some attractive tote bags as a pre-order bonus.

On the subject of pre-order bonuses, Cook said that a signed copy is "almost always going to be valuable," and a personalized copy even more so, particularly when an author partners with a local store. As for gifts, Cook said that something that relates to an author's work and speaks to their community is a good bet. As examples he pointed to the Murakami tote and a pocket-sized moon calendar that went with pre-orders of Grace Lin's children's book A Big Mooncake for Little Star.

"Even though we all have supercomputers in our pockets, a lot of readers still don't know that independent bookstores can do pre-orders," Cook remarked. "This tells readers we can do everything that big box or bigger stores can do, and we can do it while also being community focused."

At the beginning of the testing period, Green Apple Books co-owner and ABA board member Pete Mulvihill was, by his own admission, one of those participating booksellers fairly skeptical of the idea. Prior to this summer Green Apple had done pre-orders on a very limited basis for major releases like new Haruki Murakami novels or Harry Potter books and, at the time, Mulvihill thought that the "ship had sailed" and trying to drive pre-orders would be like trying to "chase" Amazon on e-book sales.

With the testing period coming to a close, Mulvihill's outlook has changed. He explained that while pre-orders are not a complete "game-changer" on their own, they did increase his sales and they do constitute "another little thing that helps us claw back a few sales from a competitor."

The hardest thing about the whole process, he noted, was just getting started. The store had to make some adjustments to its website and online ordering process to allow for pre-orders. Green Apple created custom webpages for each of the 22 titles, along with a single page that listed them all, and sent out a weekly newsletter showcasing upcoming releases. Staff members also scheduled Twitter, Facebook and other social media posts about the pre-order titles.

Mulvihill and his staff have not done much pre-order promoting in-store, but he identified that as fairly simple thing on which to expand. It would work particularly well for something like the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, which is part of a series that is already prominently displayed on Green Apple's shelves. Mulvihill expects to pick out two or three books per month and do an ongoing, rolling promotion for pre-orders.

According to Mulvihill, the real standout among the test titles was Killing Commendatore, which he said was perhaps more up his customers' alleys than other titles. The store sold out of the bonus tote bag relatively quickly, and Mulvihill said it was a little tricky to keep up with that demand and update the webpage quickly enough. Still, Green Apple Books sold at least a few copies of all the test titles.

"The surprising part is just by telling people that we do this at all, the more pre-orders we had for other titles," said Mulvihill. --Alex Mutter

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo


Image of the Day: Ogre Enchanted at Byrd's Books

Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn., hosted Gail Carson Levine for the launch of her new middle-grade novel, Ogre Enchanted (HarperCollins). Pictured (l.-r.) bookseller Kelsey Heyel, Gail Carson Levine, owner Alice Hutchinson and bookseller Steve Hutchinson.

Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

BOOks! Indie Booksellers Showing Halloween Spirit

Spooky display at Fireside Books in Alaska

Indie booksellers are preparing for Halloween with a variety of window and floor displays as well as special events. We're highlighting some of their creations leading up to the big night.

Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson, Ohio: "Artists at work! We love our Halloween window so far! It is as wonderful from the inside as it is from outside. Be sure to take a tour around town this week to see all of the local talent on display!!" And later: "Finished product!! Perfect window for us! Whoooo are you going to be for Halloween?"

Fireside Books, Palmer, Alaska: "Come browse our spooky book selection! We have all kinds of eerie, creepy, and downright terrifying titles to get you through the Halloween season."

Run for Cover Bookstore and Café, San Diego, Calif.: "Halloween craft projects at the store this coming Saturday from 11-1 p.m. Reserve your spot now! All materials included and one free hot chocolate or cider per participant for just $5! Tell your friends. Even better, bring them along!"

Read With Me, A Children's Book & Art Shop, Raleigh, N.C.: "Join us for a SPOOKtacular Puppet Show this Saturday at 10 a.m.! Zambezi Puppets will give us a delightfully spooky performance. Pre-register on our web calendar or in-store. Ages 3+, $10 (discounts for multiple children & groups)."

Halloween help at Empire Books

Empire Books & News, Huntington, W. Va.: "We hired some 'Halloween Help.' "

Lighthouse Books, Brighton, Ontario: "If you have a special ghoul or goblin to treat this Halloween, we've got you covered. Don't worry, they'll get plenty of candy!"

Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.: "We’re getting ready for Halloween by finding all of our YA horror and thrillers, aka 'The Wall of Books That Are Too Scary for #BooksellerSarah & #BooksellerLily.' "

Big Green Bookshop, North London, England: "For Halloween, I'm dressing up as Amazon."

Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo.: "Came into work today to find Main Street Books' resident ghost made an absolute mess out of the YA new releases table! Someone call the ghost busters, this is intolerable!"

Personnel Changes at Tom Doherty Associates; Putnam

At Tom Doherty Associates (Tor/Forge/Tor Teen/Starscape):

Anthony Parisi has joined the company as associate director, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. He was formerly senior marketing manager at Simon and Schuster.

Rebecca Yeager has been promoted to advertising and promotions manager. She was formerly assistant manager.

Renata Sweeney has been promoted to digital marketing manager, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape. She was formerly associate manager.

Isa Caban has joined the company as marketing manager, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly YA associate marketing manager at Scholastic.

Sara Di Blasi has been promoted to marketing assistant, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly assistant to the v-p of marketing and publicity.

Zakiya Jamal has joined the company as digital marketing assistant, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape.


Bonnie Rice has been promoted to associate publicist at Putnam.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Max Boot, Stormy Daniels on Real Time with Bill Maher

Fresh Air: Michael Sokolove, author of The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball (Penguin Press, $27, 9780399563270).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Max Boot, author of The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam (Liveright, $35, 9780871409416).

Also on Real Time: Stormy Daniels, author of Full Disclosure (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250205568).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Texas Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, October 27
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live coverage of the 2018 Texas Book Festival in Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.). Highlights include:

  • 11 a.m. A discussion on undocumented immigrants with Jose Antonio Vargas, author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (Dey Street, $25.99, 9780062851352), and Reyna Grande, author of A Dream Called Home (Atria, $26, 9781501171420).
  • 12 p.m. Michael Beschloss, author of Presidents of War (Crown, $35, 9780307409607).
  • 1 p.m. A discussion on education with Justin Driver, author of Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind (Pantheon, $35, 9781101871652), and Lenora Chu, author of Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve (Harper, $27.99, 9780062367853).
  • 2 p.m. A discussion on the 2016 election with Ben Fountain, author of Beautiful Country, Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062688842), and Amy Chozick, author of Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Political Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling (Harper, $27.99, 9780062413598).
  • 3 p.m. Carol Anderson, author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy (Bloomsbury, $27, 9781635571370).
  • 4 p.m. A discussion on the middle class with Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner, $26, 9781501133091), and Alissa Quart, author of Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062412256).
  • 5 p.m. A discussion on cities and technology with Cary McClelland, author of Silicon Valley: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley (Norton, $26.95, 9780393608793), and Randy Shaw, author of Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America (University of California Press, $29.95, 9780520299122).

Sunday, October 28
12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Continuing live coverage of the Texas Book Festival. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.). Highlights include:

  • 12 p.m. Francis Fukuyama, author of Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 9780374129293).
  • 1 p.m. Mimi Swartz, author of Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart (Crown, $27, 9780804138000).
  • 2 p.m. A discussion on #MeToo with Ashley Farmer, author of Remaking Black Power (University of North Carolina Press, $29.95, 9781469634371), and Bernice Yeung, author of In a Day's Work (The New Press, $25.99, 9781620973158).
  • 3 p.m. A discussion on the U.S. prison system with Shane Bauer, author of American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment (Penguin Press, $28, 9780735223585), and Debra Jo Immergut, author of Captives (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062747549).
  • 4 p.m. A discussion on politics and immigration with Sayu Bhojwani, author of People Like Us: The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy's Door (The New Press, $24.99, 9781620974148), and Laura Wides-Muñoz, author of The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Young Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to Be American (Harper, $27.99, 9780062560124).
  • 5 p.m. A discussion on sports writing with Michael Sokolove, author of The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino: A Story of Corruption, Scandal, and the Big Business of College Basketball (Penguin Press, $27, 9780399563270), and Mark Leibovich, author of Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times (Penguin Press, $28, 9780399185427).

Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Medal Shortlists; Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel

The shortlists for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are:

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Knopf)
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (Viking)
There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead)
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Scribner)
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy (Little, Brown)

Winners will be announced on January 27 at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, Wash.


Jeremy Cooper won the inaugural £3,000 (about $3,870) Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize, which recognizes "a writer resident in the U.K. or Ireland, and also offers publication on Fitzcarraldo Editions' fiction list, for Ash Before Oak," the Bookseller reported. The prize "aims to reward as-yet-unpublished novels which explore and expand the possibilities of the form, which are innovative and imaginative in style, which tackle subjects and themes relevant to the world we live in."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 30:

Elevation by Stephen King (Scribner, $19.95, 9781982102319) follows a man with a mystery ailment who unites the town of Castle Rock, Maine.

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316484800) is the first tie-in with Harry Bosch and LAPD detective Renée Ballard.

The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney (Amulet, $13.95, 9781419727436) is the 13th Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.

Saving Bravo: The Greatest Rescue Mission in Navy SEAL History by Stephan Talty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328866721) chronicles the rescue of a downed American airman during the Vietnam War.

I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson (Grand Central, $28, 9781538713297) are the memoirs of a comedian and TV star.

Medical Medium Liver Rescue by Anthony William (Hay House, $34.99, 9781401954406) gives new age tips for liver health.

The Dead Rabbit Mixology & Mayhem: The Story of John Morrissey and the World's Best Cocktail Menu by Sean Muldoon, Jack McGarry and Jillian Vose (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328451873) is a cocktail book told as a graphic novel from the Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in lower Manhattan.

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and  Adam Horovitz (Spiegel & Grau, $50, 9780812995541) replays the story of the hip-hop band the Beastie Boys.

This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callendar (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062820228) is, well, kind of an epic young adult love story.

Lucy Fell Down the Mountain by Kevin Cornell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99, 9780374306083) is a picture book depicting Lucy's long, long journey falling down the mountain.

Every Day Easy Air Fryer: 100 Recipes Bursting with Flavor by Urvashi Pitre (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $21.99, 9781328577870) is a cookbook for air fryers.

Boy Erased, based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, opens November 2. Lucas Hedges stars as the gay son of a Baptist preacher who is forced into conversion therapy by his parents (played by Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman). A movie tie-in edition (Riverhead, $16, 9780525538981) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Bitter Orange: A Novel by Claire Fuller (Tin House Books, $25.95, 9781947793156). "What I look forward to most in Claire Fuller's writing is the deliberate unfolding of plot and character, the careful chemistry that crackles when characters observe one another and reader observes narrator. Bitter Orange is Fuller's most mysterious novel yet, a house haunted by the stories its characters tell of their pasts and the slow unraveling of the truth. Dark and twisty and full of secrets, Bitter Orange is a satisfying page-turner perfect for readers who like a spooky and psychological read." --Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.

November Road: A Novel by Lou Berney (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062663849). "Lou Berney's engrossing novel November Road unfolds in the immediate aftermath of JFK's assassination, but the heady confusion and shock of that dark day play second fiddle to the stories of Frank Guidry and Charlotte Roy, two desperate individuals seeking to outrun the entanglements of their very different lives. Guidry, a once-trusted player for the Marcello mob, is a marked man fleeing for his life; Roy, a weary housewife, seeks better prospects for herself and her daughters, so she must escape from both her dead-end town and deadbeat husband. Told in sharp, cinematic prose, this novel explodes the boundaries of the typical crime novel and offers up something more literary, a finely tuned exploration of the will to change." --Mike Wysock, The Book Stall, Winnetka, Ill.

Paperback: An Indies Introduce Title
Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return by Martin Riker (Coffee House Press, $16.95, 9781566895286). "After his violent death, Samuel Johnson inhabits multiple souls as he strives to reunite with his now orphaned young son. Traveling between dark humor, unfathomable tragedy, and tracing the history of television in America, Martin Riker's outstanding debut novel illustrates how the human spirit can persevere." --Caitlin Luce Baker, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 4 to 8
Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk, illustrated by Brendan Kearney (Sterling, $16.95, 9781454928119). "Josh Funk is back with our favorite duo, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, who get caught up in a madcap mystery involving sinister produce and an arctic freeze in their fridge. Braving the elements and calling on their nemesis Baron von Waffle, they trek into the unknown to confront the culprit(s). Told in the same catchy rhymes that we've come to love from Funk, pick up this book to see if enemy relationships are thawed and if our heroes return to their refrigerator home." --Holland Saltsman, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 9781547600465). "This middle grade novel has everything: four good friends and a lurking bully; a mysterious, seemingly forgotten lake; and a houseboat that holds more than one secret. When Nico, Opal, Tyler, and Emma discover the Darkdeep they must make a decision: keep it to themselves? Or tell someone, their parents, the police, anyone? This is a very satisfying read about friendship and bravery with just the right amount of scary fantastic creatures. I can't wait to see what happens next!" --Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

For Teen Readers
Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062742322). "Timely, dark, and compelling, Damsel is an intense feminist read, an anti-fairy tale, and definitely a crossover adult title. Arnold's writing is impeccable, her voice powerful, her style sly and captivating. She turns the damsel-in-distress trope inside out here with a tale that deals creatively and unflinchingly with violence and sexual assault and more, reminiscent of such other powerful titles as Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels. One of my favorite titles of the season." --Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: When I Spoke in Tongues: A Story of Faith and Its Loss

When I Spoke in Tongues: A Story of Faith and Its Loss by Jessica Wilbanks (Beacon Press, $26.95 hardcover, 272p., 9780807092231, November 13, 2018)

Jessica Wilbanks's early life in rural Maryland was dominated by her family's Pentecostal faith. Each week, she spent hours at church with her parents and brothers, taking careful notes on the pastor's rambling sermons and praying for the Holy Spirit to bless her with the gift of tongues: the ability to speak in an unintelligible "prayer language" known only to God. But even after being baptized, playing an angel in the annual live Nativity scene and countless hours of diligently studying the Bible, Wilbanks came up empty. As a lonely teenager who hungered to know more of the world, she began questioning, then outright rejecting, the faith and the community she'd always known.
"There was so much we wanted," Wilbanks writes in the "Revival" chapter of her memoir, When I Spoke in Tongues. "We wanted to know all the names for God. We wanted to speak in a language we couldn't understand.... We wanted to be bigger than any single one of us could be on our own." Wilbanks chronicles her experience struggling to make sense of that desire, especially after she left home for a liberal college in Massachusetts. Through her nomadic 20s, she carried around the faith she'd lost like an outgrown hand-me-down sweater: though it itched and no longer fit, she couldn't quite discard it altogether. As a graduate student in Houston, she became fascinated by the origins of American Pentecostalism and eventually wrangled a research grant to travel to Nigeria and explore the faith's Yoruba influences.
Wilbanks writes with a journalist's keen eye, capturing the loving chaos of her family's house and the fervent, bombastic clamor of revival meetings in both the U.S. and Nigeria. Though she hasn't returned to the faith of her youth, she harbors deep compassion for both her younger self and for the adults she knows (including her parents and brother) who still cling to its promises. Her narrative provides a fascinating glimpse into a faith subculture whose popular image is often reduced to arm-waving televangelists. But even more compelling is Wilbanks's honest rendering of the profound uncertainty that comes after leaving behind a place that hasn't changed, but is no longer home.
"This was the world I lived in now, a world in which nothing was sacred and nothing was damned, a world I had chosen for myself," Wilbanks writes. She is still trying to walk through that world with compassion and bravery, and her memoir invites readers along for the journey. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams
Shelf Talker: Jessica Wilbanks's memoir chronicles her struggle to make sense of the world after leaving the Pentecostal faith of her childhood.

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