Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 30, 2018

Workman Publishing: Cat Jokes vs. Dog Jokes/Dog Jokes vs. Cat Jokes: A Read-From-Both-Sides Comic Book by David Lewman and John McNamee

Poisoned Pen Press: Death Comes to Marlow (The Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

Amulet Books: Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake (the Questioneers Book #6) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Candlewick Press (MA): Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

Orchard Books: When Things Aren't Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Chronicle Books: Is It Hot in Here (or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)? by Zach Zimmerman

Berkley Books: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix


MWA Withdraws Fairstein's Grand Master Edgar Award

In the wake of increasing controversy over the naming of bestselling mystery author Linda Fairstein as one of next year's Grand Master Edgar recipients, Mystery Writers of America has withdrawn the award. Tuesday's announcement had sparked numerous protests on social media and prompted MWA to respond by saying it took the objections seriously and would reexamine the decision. The focus of the protests is Fairstein's role as a member of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 1989's Central Park Jogger case, which resulted in the wrongful imprisonment for years of five minority teenagers.

In a statement released yesterday, MWA said that when its board made the decision, it was "unaware of Ms. Fairstein's role in the controversy. After profound reflection, the board has decided that MWA cannot move forward with an award that lacks the support of such a large percentage of our members. Therefore, the board of directors has decided to withdraw the Linda Fairstein Grand Master award. We realize that this action will be unsatisfactory to many. We apologize for any pain and disappointment this situation has caused."

MWA also said it will be "reevaluating and significantly revising its procedures for selecting honorary awards in the future" and hoped members will "work with us to move forward from this extremely troubling event and continue to build a strong and inclusive organization."

In response, author Attica Locke, whose Twitter thread questioning Fairstein's award inspired the subsequent reaction, tweeted: "Thank you @EdgarAwards for listening."

Forge: Raw Dog: The Naked Truth about Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus

Twenty Stories Bookstore Opens in Pawtucket, R.I.

Twenty Stories Bookstore, which debuted as a bookmobile in Los Angeles, Calif., before relocating to Providence, R.I., earlier this year, has opened a bricks-and-mortar location in the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, R.I., Rhode Island Monthly reported.

Owners Emory Harkins and Alexa Trembly frequently rotate their inventory, which features a wide-ranging selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and literary magazines. Harkins told RIM that they try to focus on "young writers, women and women of color in the literary community."

The store also features a Poetry Bar on the back wall, where customers can listen to poetry recordings by authors featured in the store. "Listening to poetry read by the author makes it more accessible," Trembly remarked.

Trembly and Harkins plan to host drawing nights, readings and signings with local authors, writing workshops and open mic nights. Twenty Stories is already host to a monthly book club focused on contemporary fiction.

"We truly want this space to be one where you can pick something up that you won't be able to find anywhere else and we want to connect and have conversations with our customers," said Harkins. "We like to ask them what they like to read and help them find that."

And once spring rolls around, they fully intend to continue their adventures in the bookmobile, stopping at coffee and doughnut shops, museums, farmers markets, schools and more.

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

The Willow Bookstore Debuts in Perham, Minn.

The Willow Bookstore opened November 24 at 126 West Main Street in Perham, Minn., the Focus reported, adding that the "commercial building at that address, which for years was home to Bev's Book Nook, is now open for its next chapter."

Megan Wells took ownership of the building following the retirement of Bev Hockett, owner of Bev's Book Nook for 30 years. She said feedback thus far has been "nothing but positive," with customers commenting on the interior's "refreshing" and "different" look.

The building has undergone a dramatic transformation, according to the Focus, which noted that it is "bright and open, sleek and clean, with comfortable seating areas where people are encouraged to read, talk and relax. On one wall is a floor-to-ceiling art installation of a willow tree, the store's namesake," created by artist Cindee Lundin. Wells, who has a degree in architectural drafting and designed the remodel, also did the renovation with help from family members.

"I want a place where people can connect on a level deeper than, 'How's the weather?,' " she added. "A space for like-minded people to come and gather."

Wells chose the store's name because she had always liked the name Willow, but her husband wasn't keen on it for their children. The store, however, "is kind of my fifth baby, and I got to name it," she said. "And willow trees are so awesome and beautiful. I just love willow trees."

Harbor Books to Close, Seeking 'Creative Solution'

Harbor Books in Sag Harbor, N.Y., will close in February after four years in business because of problems with the lease at its location. But owner Taylor Rose Berry is still seeking "a creative solution" to keep the store going.

In a letter posted on Facebook, Berry wrote: "When Harbor Books opened on Black Friday 2014 on Main Street in Sag Harbor I never imagined how much love and support we would receive. Getting to be a part of the lives of the people in our community over the past years has been my greatest pleasure....

"While we were able to sustain our lease since we opened, it is simply not possible to sustain with the rent increase schedule for the next lease term. Over the upcoming few months I will be looking for a creative solution to keep our bookstore on Main Street. Thank you all for your continued love and support."

Noting that she is choosing to be hopeful and is trying to get creative, Berry told the Sag Harbor Express: "In light of the love and support, how could I not be hopeful?... I essentially believe this bookstore needs to stay in Sag Harbor. I’m committed to making that happen. I’m so appreciative of everyone’s love and support and ideas. I’m definitely overwhelmed. There were a few times this weekend I had to step off the floor for a few minutes. I do feel good to have announced it. Having other people involved feels good."

HugoBooks Tests Pop-Up Store in Amesbury, Mass.

HugoBooks opened a pop-up location the day before Thanksgiving at 41 Main Street in Amesbury, Mass., and its arrival was "met with instant approval last week. But it is up to local book lovers whether Amesbury Books becomes a permanent storefront or not," Newburyport News reported.

John Hugo, who also owns bookstores in Beverly, Marblehead and Andover, along with the Book Rack in Newburyport, said he is always in the market for a new location and when Toad Hall Bookstore closed in Rockport last year, he decided to open a pop-up shop there.

"I call it the 'Field of Dreams' book shop. If you build it, will they buy?" he said. "We were up in Rockport for six weeks and did all right. We made a little money but we knew right away there was no way you could go for a 12-month lease there. There just wasn't enough business for the population."

With his wife, Catalina Cuervo, Hugo subsequently used the pop-up shop's fixtures already sitting in storage to try a temporary store again when he saw an opportunity in Amesbury.

"I was looking at Ipswich and Concord and Amesbury, and the landlords here said they were interested. A lot of guys aren't willing to try this," Hugo said, adding that for the opening week, "Wednesday and Friday were okay. We did get some business then but we had a very, very good Small Business Saturday. But it was slow Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. You really have to check back at the end."

While they would like to stay in Amesbury, Hugo said he would postpone a final decision until after the end of the year: "There's a lot of synergy between here and (Newburyport). I have already had people who came in who had picked up coupons at The Book Rack and wanted to check us out. I want to make sure I can make a go of it for a year or two before I sign on. But if people want this, they have to come in to buy."

ABFE to Launch 'Counterspeak' Podcast Next Week

Beginning next Thursday, December 6, the American Booksellers for Free Expression will host a new, monthly podcast entitled Counterspeak, Bookselling This Week announced.

Co-hosted by ABFE director Dave Grogan; Sydney Jarrard, content development director at the American Booksellers Association; and Maria Peroni, the ABA's public policy coordinator, each Counterspeak episode will highlight free expression and First Amendment issues through interviews with experts and discussions on current events.

"Free speech is under attack from all sides, so we felt a podcast highlighting the importance of free expression was timely," said Grogan. "Our podcast, we hope, will be a welcome space for open dialogue and discussion."

The podcast's first guest will be Nadine Strossen, former American Civil Liberties Union president and author of Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship (Oxford University Press). Her book examines how efforts to suppress hate speech, though well-intended, frequently backfire and even result in the silencing of already marginalized groups. She argues that, instead, the best way to fight hateful rhetoric is through free speech.

New episodes of Counterspeak will be released on the first Thursday of every month.


Image of the Day: Annie Leibovitz at Work

Books & Books hosted photographer Annie Leibovitz this week at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; she showed and discussed pictures from the revised and expanded edition of Annie Leibovitz at Work (Phaidon). At the start of her talk, she recalled that she and owner Mitchell Kaplan go way back, to when she was a young photographer shadowing Susan Sontag on her frequent visits to Books & Books' Miami Beach store, circa 1989. Pictured: (l.-r.) Books & Books staffers Rocio Gonzalez, Cristina Nosti, Annie Leibovitz, Mitchell Kaplan, Caroline McGregor, Stephanie Fernandez, Lisa Better.

Happy 50th Birthday, Mosaic Books!

Congratulations to Canadian indie bookseller Mosaic Books in Kelowna, B.C., which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Black Friday. The Daily Courier reported that over the last four years, sales at the bookshop have increased 60%."

"Independent bookstores are having a comeback," said Michael Neill, co-owner with his wife, Michele, and their children, Trevor and Alicia. "The big-box stores and e-books that threatened the industry aren't the threats they once were and people are still reading physical books from fiction, nonfiction, history and biographies to cookbooks, kids' books and bargain books."

Mosaic was launched in 1968 by Rhonda Moss and Wilma Dohler at 1449 St. Paul St., and moved to one other location before Neill purchased the bookshop in 1995 and moved it to 411 Bernard Ave. He also owns and operates Bookmanager, the software system used by more than 350 independent bookstores across North America. The Daily Courier noted that Moss and Mosaic were one of his first Bookmanager clients in 1989.

Brant's Books Owner Hosts 'Ask Me Anything' on Reddit

Barbara Barone, owner of used bookstore Brant's Books in Sarasota, Fla., hosted an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit on Tuesday, during which users of the website's /r/books forum asked her questions about owning and operating a used bookstore.

In response to a question about the most difficult and most rewarding parts of running a bookstore, Barone said that perhaps the hardest part was "listening to people telling me how cheap it is on Amazon. They forget, or don't care that a bookstore is an experience, a place to relax and enjoy the written word."

The most rewarding aspect, meanwhile, was her customers. She explained: "They are so fascinating, educated and conversational that my day is never boring. Ever. Everyone has a story to tell and an experience to share... books bring out those memories."

More questions, and Barone's responses, can be found here.

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

Richard Rhorer has been promoted to v-p and deputy publisher of the Simon & Schuster Publishing Group. He joined the company in 2011 as v-p and associate publisher and has overseen marketing of all new S&S titles, the backlist publishing program, digital strategy, new business development initiatives and publishing operations. Earlier he was director of digital business development at Macmillan.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Elizabeth Heiskell on the Kitchen

Food Network's the Kitchen: Elizabeth Heiskell, author of The Southern Living Party Cookbook: A Modern Guide to Gathering (Oxmoor House, $35, 9780848756659).

TV: Wallander's First Case; Save the Deli

Netflix has ordered a series based on Henning Mankell's bestselling Wallander novels from Yellow Bird U.K. Deadline reported that the six-part series "will feature a British and Swedish cast and will go into production in 2019. It will tell the story of detective Kurt Wallander's first case."

"The Wallander novels have sold 40 million copies and been translated into over 40 different languages, while still being true and authentic to the Swedish noir that Mankell helped create," said Erik Barmack, v-p, head of international originals at Netflix. "And the series created by Yellow Bird have also been fantastic global and local successes. Netflix is thrilled to continue this tradition and add new layers to the fantastic legacies that Mankell and Yellow Bird have created."


NBC has put in development the multi-camera comedy Save the Deli, based on David Sax's 2009 book Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen. The project is from writer Lauren Bachelis (Single by 30), This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia and Russ Cundiff's DiVide Pictures and 20th Century Fox TV, Deadline reported.

In addition to the book, Save the Deli will draw upon Bachelis's personal experiences. Her grandfather owned Mort's, the Jewish deli in Tarzana, Calif. She executive produces with Ventimiglia and Cundiff of DiVide.

Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Book of the Year

Sally Rooney's novel Normal People has been named Waterstones Book of the Year, making the 27-year-old author "the youngest winner of the award, which goes to the title staff at the U.K.'s biggest bookshop chain most enjoy recommending," the Guardian reported.

Bea Carvahlo, fiction buyer for Waterstones, said reader response to Normal People had been astonishing: "As well as the universal praise, it has been a huge word-of-mouth hit. Normal People cemented Sally Rooney's reputation as the voice of her generation and one of the most exciting novelists around today. Its success is testament to the health of literary fiction and demonstrates that there is still significant appetite for excellent storytelling."

Rooney commented: "I'd like to thank the booksellers at Waterstones for supporting this novel so wholeheartedly. In the production of books, the work of booksellers--as well as delivery drivers, paper-mill workers, typesetters, proof readers, and many more--is just as important, really, as the work of writers. So I would like to extend my thanks, if I can, to everyone whose hard work has been so vital to the writing and publication of this novel. I am very touched by the honor."

Waterstones managing director James Daunt observed that Rooney's win was a sign of the healthy state of literary fiction: "We are delighted to name it our book of the year."

Reading with... Jennifer Baumgardner

photo: Alexa Hoyer

Jennifer Baumgardner is a feminist writer, activist, filmmaker and the publisher of Dottir Press, founded in 2018. Dottir will publish books by Michelle Tea, Brontez Purnell, Mike Perry and Rachel DeWoskin, among others. The press's debut title, released in September, is Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham.

On your nightstand now:

Elif Batuman's The Idiot; a mini-stack of old New Yorkers; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; and Severance by Ling Ma.

Favorite book when you were a child:

As a child in Fargo, I was often bored and had grand imaginary dreams for myself. I fantasized about having magical abilities, so I loved No Flying in the House by Betty Brock. The first book I remember closing and feeling sort of sad and lonely that I wouldn't be spending time in that character's world anymore was Addie Pray by Joe David Brown, which was the source material for the movie Paper Moon. Addie was a tomboyish 10-year-old (or thereabouts) whose mom dies, so she has to travel around with her biological father who is a petty criminal and doesn't want to be a parent. Addie ends up being great at the grift and becomes indispensable to him.

Your top five authors:

This list is a bit arbitrary but I'll go with David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, Michelle Tea, Miranda July and Audre Lorde.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm scared to admit this, but The Second Sex.

Book you're an evangelist for:

West of Eden by Jean Stein, it's really odd, dark and gripping nonfiction dealing with old Hollywood material you might encounter on the podcast You Must Remember This, but from an insider's perspective. And The Perfect Nanny, the recently translated French novel by Leila Slimani, which I thought was a perfectly rendered depiction of the purchased care relationship.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't really buy books for their covers, though I do fondle books in stores for their covers. The best cover I've seen recently is Ling Ma's Severance. It looks like a generic pink file with a label-maker label. It's very creepy and striking. Severance is also a great, multivalenced title.

Book you hid from your parents:

I remember my mother balking when I tried to read dirty books by Harold Robbins, but I honestly can't remember a thing about what was in them. When I read Forever (Judy Blume) in around fifth grade, my parents made me discuss any "questions" I had. I asked what does it mean when Michael says, "I'm coming, I'm coming"--so they sort of regretted even engaging with me about it.

Book that changed your life:

Anyone who has experience with any part of adoption should read The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler, which tells the story of women who were forced to surrender their babies pre-Roe v. Wade. I've given it to many people and used to teach it in my nonfiction writing seminar at the New School. It's profoundly illuminating--and humbling. I've written a lot about abortion as a journalist, and it wasn't until this book that I realized how narrow my understanding of reproductive experiences (and freedom) was.

Favorite line from a book:

The line that is popping into my head is: "Nothing seemed as alcoholic as quitting drinking. That was one thing that alcoholics did for sure." --Michelle Tea, Black Wave

Five books you'll never part with:

My first edition of Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen (Alix Kates Shulman); my childhood copies of Deenie, Then Again, Maybe I Won't and Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret (Judy Blume); and my 1984 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. It's really chunky and filled with line drawings of vacuum-suction abortion and the like.

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

I had a really emotional experience with The Corrections (Jonathan Franzen) the first time I read it. I felt very "seen" by this family epic that takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas--in the mother's pronunciation of mature as "ma-toor," in Denise's cost-benefit analysis of her female vs. male lovers, in the five-person Midwestern family, etc. I sobbed when I closed the book. I've been afraid to read it again because I cherish the way I felt reading it back in 2001.

Are print books bound for extinction?

No, they are an ancient technology that has yet to be improved upon, in design or impact.

Book Review

Review: The Paragon Hotel

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (Putnam, $26 hardcover, 432p., 9780735210752, January 8, 2019)

Lyndsay Faye (Jane Steele) brings readers a feisty, feminist heroine in this Prohibition-era thriller about a white gun moll from Harlem starting her life over at an all-black hotel in Portland, Ore.

In 1921, 25-year-old Alice "Nobody" James lands at the Paragon Hotel with a satchel containing $50,000 in cash and a bullet hole in her side. She's fleeing an unhinged mobster who once loved her. Her shelter comes courtesy of Max, a black Pullman porter who befriended her on a train during her escape from New York. Max's friends at the Paragon, including irascible hotel owner Dr. Doddrige Pendleton and head housekeeper Mavereen Meader, save Nobody's life and take her in. The Ku Klux Klan is growing ever bolder in Portland, so accepting a white boarder seems a fraught proposition. However, they do so cautiously, and Nobody soon finds a friend in charismatic cabaret singer Blossom Fontaine, who lives down the hall at the Paragon.

For her part, Nobody has a heart full of gratitude, "a taste for devotion the way some own a taste for narcotics," and a crush on Max that makes her heart "do pony tricks." She gets her chance to prove her worth when Davy Lee, a six-year-old mixed-race foundling growing up under Blossom's wing, vanishes from the Paragon. Nobody uses her considerable talents of disguise and dissembling to impersonate a bluestocking journalist and investigate the disappearance. Along the way, she runs afoul of Portland's violent anti-black element and becomes embroiled in the mystery of Blossom's past.

Faye's expedition into Oregon's history of racism and a New York City ruled by mobsters is stuffed with danger, luscious period clothing and zinging Jazz Age patter. Once a spy for a criminal mastermind, Nobody changes personas with ease depending on her company, but as her relationships with the Paragon's inhabitants deepen, she begins to realize even she doesn't know the real Alice James. Faye plays off this theme of identity increasingly through the narrative, pulling in strands of race, gender and sexuality as she goes. Characters' motivations are shot through with subtle threads of romance and loss; love plays counterpoint to the violence of the KKK and the obsessed policeman who haunts Blossom.

As only the best historical fiction can do, The Paragon Hotel captures a certain period in time and gives the reader ample opportunity to draw connections with the present day. Faye's talent sparkles like champagne bubbles and bugle-bead fringe on a flapper's gown. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A Prohibition-era gun moll running from her past gets caught up in a mystery when she finds shelter and friendship at Portland's only hotel for African Americans.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Holiday Season Re-Tale

Once upon a time every year...

By Thanksgiving weekend, you already had your hundred-yard stare (a pleasant, customer service-friendly version) fully engaged as you scanned the bookstore sales floor, keeping watch for challenges and opportunities. You were on your game.

Shoppers at Scout & Morgan

But now you have to talk one of the new booksellers off a ledge. It happens at some point to every rookie this time of year, especially at the beginning of the long run to Christmas Eve. How can anybody be prepared for this the first time around?

The two of you stand together in the ever-shifting eye of the customer hurricane. The store is churning with book hunters and sidelines harvesters. Queues thread out from the POS/information counter, customer questions and demands are echoing off the walls, and have been since the doors opened. It's a glorious sight if you can handle it.

I'm looking for a book for my uncle.
What does he like to read?
He doesn't read.
How about a blank book, pal?

No, you wouldn't say that. But what can you tell the kid to ease his jitters? He's a quiet person and was a little intimidated from the start. He's been burned a couple of times already today. An idealist, he chose to work in a bookstore for some intellectual stimulation and to be with other readers. He never expected... this. You can tell he isn't sure now if he'll survive until the end of the day, much less the season. Maybe he is worried he'll turn coward under pressure, abandon the sales floor and hide in the staff restroom.

"This is amazing!" he says, masking uncertainty with enthusiasm. "Why do they do it? Why do they all shop at the same second? What are they, lemmings?"

Your expression never wavers. You look the kid in the eyes and co-opt (or regift?) Robert Duvall's classic line from Apocalypse Now, make it your own by whisper/shouting: Lemmings don't shop for books! He has no idea what you are talking about. Never saw the movie. Probably thinks you've lost it, too. He edges back into the fray, almost crowdsurfing a sea of readers, apparently thinking he is safer out there. Immediately he's confronted by a wild-eyed man brandishing a single bronze "reading child" bookend:

Can I help?
I can't find the match for this!

The kid nods, and calmly escorts the customer away in search of the missing bronze child. You lose sight of them, but decide he'll be okay. He just wasn't ready.

Is anybody ever ready for holiday season in a bookstore? Ready is not the word. The key is a kind of constructive anxiety that propels you to take every conceivable precaution you can think of to insure success, or at least avoid disaster. Even then, you hold your breath because so much is riding on this time of year and so many things can go wrong.

It's a retail storm front. You can't fully prepare, though you must try, and you do. You order in extra stock, then second guess yourself and order more. You check and double-check IndieBound and New York Times bestseller lists, keep up with daily reviews and the radar blips you get from sources like NPR's Fresh Air or All Things Considered

Do you have that book that was on Terry Gross this week... or last week?
Yes we do!

You even check actual radar obsessively, charting storm patterns online at the National Weather Service or Weather Channel, hoping that any current predictions match your ideal conditions for every weekend during the holiday season. You're always on the lookout for those ominous dark green, gray/white or pink radar blobs skimming across the country. Weather is a critical factor in holiday season success. An ill-timed weekend ice or snow storm and well...

Staff is precisely scheduled so that your customers are as overwhelmed by great service as you are by them. Maybe you even set up a soup kitchen or pizza run for staff on the weekends because no one has time to brave streets jammed with holiday revelers and overwhelmed local eateries.

You'll be fine. You've done this so many times before. You remember when there was no such thing as rapid replenishment programs; you even remember... backstock. Although you'd hesitate to say you're ready, you do look forward to this intense month with a perhaps unhealthy enthusiasm.

Suddenly the new kid appears again, emerging from the melee with a different customer, a woman who is holding a book in each hand and appears to be handselling them to him. He's courteous and patient. Most importantly, he is listening. An older man, brandishing a roll of wrapping paper, approaches them shouting "Excuse me!" The kid seems to be handling it all well.

You're more than a little addicted to the holiday energy in this space. But sometimes, in the midst of the pandemonium, someone politely asks if you're busy. You smile. The person smiles back.

I was wondering if you could recommend a book.
For a gift?
No, for myself. I just need a great read for the weekend, something that will shut out all my relatives, but I know you're really busy...
I only have one customer at a time.
Can you tell what the best book you've read this year is?
Sure, I have many. What've you read lately you really loved?

That's why you're here.

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

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