Also published on this date: Wednesday, November 28, 2018: Maximum Shelf: Trust Exercise

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Quotation of the Day

Amazon Backlash: 'I Can Only Fight with My Wallet'

"I think we'll have to sacrifice a lot of conveniences to allow for humane conditions at Amazon. It's such a beast at this point. It either needs to be broken up or nationalized, and I'm not sure where to start. I can only fight with my wallet."

--podcaster Kyle Amato in a Vox article headlined "Slowly but surely, the Amazon Prime backlash is coming"

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Prologue Bookshop Opens in Columbus, Ohio

Prologue Bookshop opened November 21 at 841 N. High St. in Columbus, Ohio. Owner Dan Brewster expressed his appreciation for community support the following day on Facebook, noting: "This first bookstore Thanksgiving, there are so many people I'm thankful for, who have provided so much support over the last year to help Prologue Bookshop get off the ground. Thank you to my parents, family, and friends for all their great support, especially when things have gotten tough. Thanks to the bookstore owners and associates I've met along the way, including those at the Paz training in Florida. Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Ohio SBDC and Short North Alliance, who have been incredibly helpful in making connections and getting me through some tough spots. Finally, thanks to my great staff, who I'm already incredibly grateful to be working with every day." Chloe, one of Prologue's booksellers, offered a brief video tour of the shop.

Last week, Brewster told the Columbus Dispatch that his experience at "Bookstore Boot Camp," sponsored by Paz & Associates and the American Booksellers Association, was a key aspect of his preparation: "It's instructed by other people interested in the same path you are. That can be really powerful. To a degree, you're all nuts, but you're nuts together. A lot of us have the same motivation and we learned what has worked, because indie stores are making sense and making profits again."

Brewster "hired a bookstore-specific design team to help craft the 1,100-square-foot store to fit the upscale and touristy Short North," the Dispatch noted.

"These days you can't open a new store and have it look very generic. You have to be unique and special and, I hate to say it, Instagram appealing, a place I want people to know I was visiting," Brewster said. "It's not all about bestsellers, although we will have those, but what are the books that people are discovering. That's the whole value proposition of bookstores now. You want to be surprised, which is not something you get from walking into a Target book aisle, or going on Amazon. It's something you don't know you want--that's key."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day Set for Dec. 1

The ninth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, an initiative created to "instill a love of bookstores in children so that they will value and support this most precious of resources as they go on to enter and create communities of their own," will be held Saturday, December 1.

Founded by Jenny Milchman, author most recently of Wicked River, the first TYCTB was celebrated by 80 bookstores and has now grown to more than 800 stores in every U.S. state, seven Canadian provinces, and countries on five continents.

"Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day began when my kids were little and I was taking them to story hour at our local bookstore, Watchung Booksellers, every week," Milchman recalled. "I wondered if every child knew the pleasure of time spent in a bookstore--and the parents too, of course! I was bowled over by the response when I floated the idea for a Day.... In our digitalized, hyper-connected yet disconnected world, bookstores hold the key to true, authentic connection--and also a much-needed escape. My hope is for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day to be celebrated for decades to come."

For the 2018 edition, Milchman has teamed up with children's poetry author Brett Fleishman, who wrote a special celebratory poem titled, appropriately, "Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day":

They entered the store
At 11:04
Both the Mom and her teenager Quinn
Right behind were two more
Hand in hand through the door
Came a Dad and his younger son Flynn
With their books on the floor
They looked happy for sure
As more kids and their parents came in
When they left the group swore
They'd return, but what for?
For more books since those books made them grin

Fleishman said: "It feels like yesterday when I was taking my (now teenage) sons to the local bookstore seemingly every weekend. I can still recall vividly those afternoons when we would sit together in a corner of the bookstore, and I would read them my favorite Shel Silverstein poems from way back when I was a kid. It was so much fun to share my childhood experience with them. Silverstein's poetry brought together two generations of Fleishmans, and it's now truly an honor to have been invited to write a poem celebrating Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day."

For this year's TYCBD, JKS Communications will be giving away nine $10 bookstore gift cards to winners across the country who celebrate the day on social media using the hashtag #tycbd, as well as one grand prize winner who will receive a $50 bookstore gift card and signed copies of Fleishman's poetry volumes and Milchman's latest book.

Manhattan's Gucci Wooster Adds a Bookstore

Gucci Wooster, an experiential retail space and creative hub opened by Gucci in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood in May, has added a bookstore, Gotham magazine reported. The store officially opened last week and is a collaboration with Dashwood Books, an independent photography bookstore in NoHo.

The Gucci Wooster Bookstore carries some 2,000 titles with a focus on avant-garde art, fashion, design, culture and photography, along with a range of niche magazines. The bookstore also features work from a variety of famous artists and designers and will host book and author events. The inaugural event was a poetry reading with musician Florence Welch, of the band Florence and the Machine and author of Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry (Crown Archetype).

David Strettell of Dashwood Books told Vogue that Gucci Wooster's titles, new and out of print, are priced from $20-$1,000 and "hopefully there's something for everyone."

Obituary Note: Meena Alexander

Poet and scholar Meena Alexander, "whose writings reflected the search for identity that came with a peripatetic life, including time in India, Africa, Europe and the United States," died November 21, the New York Times reported. She was 67. In her prose and poetry, Alexander "explored themes of feminism, post-colonialism, dislocation, memory and more."

In addition to numerous volumes of poetry, two novels--Nampally Road (1991); Manhattan Music (1997)--and a memoir, Fault Lines (1993), her writings were also the subject of a book, Passage to Manhattan: Critical Essays on Meena Alexander (2005). Her poetry collections include Atmospheric Embroidery (2018); Birthplace with Buried Stones (2013); Illiterate Heart (2002); Raw Silk (2004); and Quickly Changing River (2008).

"Meena Alexander's lyric poems embody her expert ability to craft scenes that draw on disparate cultural traditions to become simple, sonic and ultimately startling moments that remind us of the power of language and the gift of our humanness," said Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

From Alexander's poem "Muse":

Write in the light
of all the languages
you know the earth contains
you murmur in my ear.
This is pure transport.


Inside the House of Anansi Press Bookstore

Toronto Life explored Canadian publisher House of Anansi Press's office and bookstore, noting that since the publisher's founding in 1967, "Anansi has become synonymous with north-of-the-border talent.... What fans of their work may not realize, however, is that House of Anansi Press also has a relatively new bibliophile-approved bookstore in the Junction.... Approximately three years ago, when Anansi made the decision to open a storefront, they relocated to Sterling Road in the Junction. The team knew that opening a physical space would let them connect with their readers in a more tangible way, and they could sense that the neighborhood was about to become a giant cultural hub."

House of Anansi's space "is also beautifully designed and is one of the dreamiest book shops in the city in which to spend an afternoon browsing titles," Toronto Life wrote. "One of the main benefits of the space is the connection the readers feel to the publisher (and vice versa). Here, shoppers can actually get recommendations from staff who work at the house--a.k.a. those seriously up to date on their literary knowledge. Anyone in doubt about what to buy can always ask--and trust that the reads are totally vouched for."

Book Trailer of the Day: Plum

Plum by Sean Hayes and Scott Icenogle, illustrated by Robin Thompson (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Venable on Rachael Ray

Rachael Ray: David Venable, author of Comfort Food Shortcuts: An "In the Kitchen with David" Cookbook from QVC's Resident Foodie (Ballantine, $30, 9781984818294).

Watch What Happens Live: Tyra Banks, author of Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss (TarcherPerigee, $27, 9780143132301). She will also appear on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Movies: Wild Nights With Emily

Greenwich Entertainment has acquired distribution rights to Wild Nights With Emily, the dramatic comedy about Emily Dickinson that premiered at SXSW this year, Deadline reported. Directed and written by Madeleine Olnek, the movie stars Molly Shannon, Amy Seimetz, Susan Ziegler and Brett Gelman.

Shannon "portrays the vivacious, irreverent side of the poet that was covered up for years--most notably Emily's lifelong romantic relationship with another woman," Deadline wrote, adding that the film, "supported by Harvard University Press and the Guggenheim Foundation, uses Dickinson's own words to shed new light on the celebrated poet." Wild Nights With Emily hits theaters in early 2019.

Books & Authors

Awards: MWA Special Edgars

The Mystery Writers of America named Linda Fairstein and Martin Cruz Smith as 2019 Grand Masters, which represents "the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality." They will be honored at the 73rd annual Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City on April 25.

The Raven Award for "outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing" will be presented to Marilyn Stasio, who has been the mystery critic for the New York Times Book Review (and other magazines) for 30 years.

The Ellery Queen Award for "outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry" will be given to Linda Landrigan, who came to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in 1997 as an associate editor and has been the publication's editor since 2002.

Reading with... Casey Gerald

photo: Hallo Smith

Casey Gerald grew up in Oak Cliff, Tex., and went to Yale, where he majored in political science and played varsity football. After receiving an MBA from Harvard Business School, he cofounded MBAs Across America. He's the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here (Riverhead, October 2), a memoir that stands the American Dream narrative on its head.

On your nightstand now:

Don't hate me, but I'm reading my own book right now--I sleep with it next to me--because it's my first book and it is about to be released and it's all still surreal.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It taught me that, sometimes, it doesn't matter what you have--all that matters is what you're trying to do.

Your top five authors:

Clarice Lispector, Jean Genet, Toni Morrison, David & the other folks who wrote Psalms and Robert Caro.

Book you've faked reading:

I didn't start reading until I was nearly 23 years old. Not that I couldn't; just didn't. It is liberating to tell that truth and not be ashamed, because I never feel the need to fake-read anything. As I catch up on all the "classics," I realize that, often--as with Hemingway--I haven't missed much.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I have probably bought more copies of Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love for people than any other book. The ways my generation was taught to live, love, believe and work have failed, and this book has helped me and many of my peers see another way and find a path toward healing.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The latest New Directions edition of The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa. It just blew me away. Can't say the same for the actual book, only because I put it down a few pages in, for some reason I can't remember.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't have to hide things from my parents because, by my teenage years, they weren't around.  

Book that changed your life:

Giovanni's Room. I read it when I was 24, and there was no turning back after this line: "People can't, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life."

Favorite line from a book:

"Jesus wept."

Five books you'll never part with:

As Maya Angelou said, I've never seen a hearse with a hitch. So I'll part with everything, happily. But five books I will cherish until then:

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín--it taught me so much about confession, and about the radical, subversive result of giving an old story to a new person who had, previously, been silenced.

Good Times by Lucille Clifton. A poem like "won't you celebrate with me" can help me through any dark time: "come celebrate/ with me that everyday/ something has tried to kill me/ and has failed."

Cruising Utopia by José Esteban Muñoz. I was reading this book when I was informed that a dear friend had taken his life. Muñoz writes: "This world is not enough." His book is an attempt to find a way to live, anyhow.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I keep trying to accept all the ways in which this novel is second-rate and/or problematic, but I feel about it the way I feel about my first love--the impact on me was just too great to save a lot of space for legitimate criticism.

Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen. Strangest and, perhaps, greatest book I've ever read. I'll leave it at that.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

On the Road, for sure. In part because I would also, in this scenario, be 23 and a lot less tired.

Book Review

YA Review: Dragon Pearl

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Rick Riordon Presents/Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 9-12, 9781368013352, January 15, 2019)

A fox spirit ("gumiho") masquerading as a human, 13-year-old Min has a dismal life on Jinju, a poor, half-finished planet in the Thousand Worlds league. Her mom and aunties bog her down with mundane chores, and it's unsafe for her to practice her fox magic openly--her ancestors used their shape-shifting abilities to "lure lonely travelers" and "suck out their lives," so people haven't been too keen on fox spirits. The only thought getting her through this life is that in two years she can take the entrance exam for the Space Forces, an elite, interstellar military order, and follow her brother, Jun, into the service.

Min's world is turned upside down when her family receives word that Jun has been accused of deserting his training cruise to search for the highly coveted Dragon Pearl, "a mystical orb with the ability to... transform"--or destroy--"an entire planet in a day." Jun joined the Space Forces to help make life better on his unfinished planet, but Min refuses to believe her brother, who "always played by the rules," would ever willingly leave his post. With her family's gumiho heritage already tarnished by her forebears, Min won't allow her brother's reputation to also be ruined. She runs away, risking her and her family's safety, to find Jun and clear his name, only to realize that the situation is more complicated than it appears, and the fate of the whole league may rest in her inexperienced hands.

In Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (the Machineries of Empire series) melds elements of Korean myth, science fiction and adventure stories into a strong, cohesive narrative that fans of multiple genres will enjoy. Rigged gambling parlors, pirate attacks and battle simulations are layered over conjuring goblins, weather-controlling dragons and vengeful ghosts. Lee's inclusion of Korean mythological aspects isn't limited to supernatural beings; it also impeccably incorporates "geomantic arts--the flow of gi and the cosmic balance of the universe" into how the Space Forces' battle cruisers are engineered. All these components work in harmony to shape Min's quest, immersing readers in her journey.

Lee's epic romp through space also includes discussions about prejudice ("Other supernaturals, like dragons and goblins and shamans... wield their magic openly" and are even praised for it, while foxes must pretend to be extinct), nonbinary identity ("This [guard's] particular badge... had a small symbol next to the name that let me know they should be addressed neutrally, as neither female nor male") and inequality between rich and poor ("Whoever this councilor was, I doubted she was thinking about people like me and my family, who could use the Pearl's powers to make our lives less desperate.") Lee handles these topics sensitively without burdening the audience.

Dragon Pearl shoots for the moon and lands flawlessly, delivering a rollicking and meaningful space adventure. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: Dragon Pearl takes readers on an epic journey to a diverse, inclusive world effortlessly infused with elements of Korean mythology.

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