Also published on this date: Monday, December 3 Dedicated Issue: DC Ink and DC Zoom

Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 3, 2018

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Little Simon Chapter Books

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Little Simon Chapter Books

Thomas Nelson: A Very Dinosaur Birthday by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Other Press (NY): An Honorable Exit by Éric Vuillard, translated by Mark Polizzotti

Shadow Mountain: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown: Adapted for Young Readers from the Best-Selling Novel by Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill


NYC's Strand Rallies Against Landmark Designation


The Strand Bookstore in New York City is asking fans of the store to attend a public hearing tomorrow morning to help the store "make a case against landmark status" for the building housing the flagship store at 826-828 Broadway. The bookstore fears that with landmark status, "for every repair and every upgrade, the Strand would have to go through the slow bureaucracy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which adds to the expenses to keep the Strand alive.... The Strand currently runs on thin margins as a bookseller and retailer in New York City, fighting to survive in the era of Amazon. We have over 230 employees--most whom are unionized--and unlike large online retailers (like Amazon), have never asked or received tax breaks or other economic assistance to insure business profitability."

Strand communications director Leigh Altshuler told Jeremiah's Vanishing New York that many "big, new tech hubs" are being built in the area, leading to real estate speculation and demolition. "In a trade-off, the Strand and a few other buildings along Broadway are now being calendared for landmarking."

Store and building owner Nancy Bass was not part of the decision-making process and didn't receive a Landmarks Preservation Commission draft report until last week. Altshuler noted that the building is already "overbuilt," meaning it has no air rights to sell and can't be expanded. "There is no danger of it being torn down," she said. "Nancy has no intent to sell the building. She just wants to keep running the store without added cost or pressure."

Founded in 1927 by Benjamin Bass, Nancy Bass's grandfather, the Strand moved to its current location in 1956 and bought the building in 1996. The store noted that last year, "manholes exploded under the building. This resulted in ongoing repairs. The Strand has already done a quality job restoring the front windows and columns to its previous aesthetic. But the Strand needs flexibility to do future upgrades and change with the needs of the community: change the outside lighting, signage and awning; upgrade the awning; add a coffee shop with a door on the side of the building; change the configuration of the store; [and make] repairs from a fire or flood."

The public hearing will be held tomorrow, December 4, at 9:30 a.m. at 1 Centre St., 9th floor. Nancy Bass will speak, joined by authors Gary Shteyngart and Hank O'Neal, and longtime Strand employees. Customers are encouraged to attend with a "Strand tote in hand!"

University of California Press: Weed Rules: Blazing the Way to a Just and Joyful Marijuana Policy by Jay Wexler

Stories Like Me Goes Live

Stories Like Me, a multicultural and multilingual children's bookstore with a social justice message, officially launched as an online store on November 3 and made its first pop-up appearance on Small Business Saturday.

While owner Helen Hendricks and her daughters Elsie Campbell Hendricks and Imogen Campbell Hendricks plan to eventually open a bricks-and-mortar store in the Fairfax, Va., area, Stories Like Me will for now be focused on web sales and pop-ups. The first pop-up appearance was held on November 24 in partnership with Cameron's Coffee and Chocolates in Fairfax, and Hendricks has two more pop-ups planned for December.

Hendricks has also launched the store's first social justice program. In partnership with the nonprofit Britepaths, Stories Like Me will help provide books to underprivileged families throughout the holiday season.

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

BookSmart in Morgan Hill, Calif., Moving Again

BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif., which moved two years ago, is on the move again.

In an announcement to customers, the 23-year-old store said that it has had "a tough time" in its new location. (The situation was so difficult, mainly because of debt problems, that founders and owners Brad Jones and Cinda Meister had said in March that barring "a miracle," the store would close.) "In the past 28 months, we have searched for solutions that would keep BookSmart afloat. Many people in the community have generously contributed their time and money in an attempt to help, but in spite of these efforts, none of the avenues we pursued worked out."

Thus the store is moving to 421 Vineyard Town Center, near Nob Hill Market, which BookSmart described as "very accessible; it is part of a busy shopping center with lots of parking, and it will be much easier to drop in while you are doing your other shopping."

The space is "small, roughly one-quarter the size of our current location," the store continued. "Therefore, it will be 90% bookstore. With fewer distractions, we can focus on the very best qualities that a bookstore can possess: books, the book-reading experience, and on you, the customer."

Noting that "the current model in retail is value and speed," BookSmart said it will focus on having a large selection of current bestsellers; Indie Next bestsellers at 20% off; a large children's section; fast special orders; on- and offsite book events; and educator discounts. The store will aim to be "a place to browse through a large variety of books," where "expert booksellers [will] help with your search."

Obituary Note: Harry Leslie Smith

Harry Leslie Smith, the "writer, campaigner and passionate critic of austerity who found fame late in life with his bestselling book Harry's Last Stand," died November 28, the Guardian reported. He was 95. Following the book's 2014 publication, Smith "was invited to address that year's Labor party conference before a speech by the then shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham. His passionate denunciation of benefits cuts and austerity--including the line 'Mr. Cameron, keep your mitts off my NHS!'--made headline news."

Smith's other books include Love Among the Ruins: A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945; Don't Let My Past Be Your Future: A Call to Arms; 1923: A Memoir; and The Empress of Australia: A Post-War Memoir.

Describing Smith as "brilliant polemicist and inspiring activist," Philip Cotterell, managing director of Icon Books, said, "We are desperately sad to hear of the passing of Harry Leslie Smith, one of Icon's favorite authors. He was a brilliant polemicist and author, an inspiring activist, a loving father, and much more. We are immensely proud to have published two of his books.

"When we published Harry's Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built Is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save It when Harry turned 90, we were all struck by the power of his writing. He drew upon his experience of the Great Depression and World War Two to issue a wakeup call to us all about the state of our society. He astonished us all with his energy and determination to spread the word--his speech at the 2014 Labor Party Conference was unforgettable, and he worked tirelessly to campaign for social justice and especially for the NHS. Everyone at Icon warmed to his charisma, his warmth, and his passion, as well as his dedication to making the world a better place."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Little Monsters
by Adrienne Brodeur
GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Little Monsters, Adrienne Brodeur's first book since her memoir Wild Game, is a tender, intelligent family saga. By placing her four protagonists in the summer of 2016, mere months before the election, Brodeur notches up the tension in a manner that couldn't be replicated at another time. On Cape Cod, the Gardners are each at a crossroads: patriarch Adam on the precipice of scientific discovery; son Ken at the intersection of tortured instincts; daughter Abby awaiting a momentous life change. Entering the fray is new mother Steph, whose connection to the Gardners remains initially unclear. The result is "a sophisticated, intelligent, juicy, beautifully written page-turner," writes Lauren Wein, v-p and editorial director of Avid Reader Press. Readers who also feel the repercussions of 2016 in contemporary life will find catharsis in Little Monsters, posited as perfect for readers of Ask Again, Yes and Commonwealth. --Lauren Puckett-Pope

(Avid Reader Press, $28 hardcover, 9781982198107, July 11, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Rep Turned Author Ron Koltnow

Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., hosted a reading last Thursday by Ron Koltnow, the retired Random House sales rep turned author, for his new book, Barberton Fried Chicken: An Ohio Original (The History Press). It was a homecoming of sorts: for 24 years, Koltnow sold to and helped arrange author events at the store, and a wonderful array of supporters turned out for his event, including authors Robert Birnbaum, Charles Coe, Joe Finder, Sarah Smith and David C. Taylor; current and former booksellers from New England Mobile, Porter Square Books and Lauriat's; a bunch of reps; and Nan Sorensen of the New England Independent Booksellers Association. (photo: Jes Sloan)

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Emma Gordon has been promoted to publicist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and moves to General Interest from Books for Young Readers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Griffin on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mark Griffin, author of All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson (Harper, $28.99, 9780062408853).

Ellen: Martha Stewart, author of The Martha Manual: How to Do (Almost) Everything (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9781328927323).

CBS This Morning: James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (Avery, $27, 9780735211292).

TV: Midnight's Children

Acclaimed Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider) will be the showrunner and an executive producer on Midnight's Children, Netflix's upcoming series based on Salman Rushdie's Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel, Deadline reported. The series will launch exclusively on Netflix worldwide.

"The scope and scale of Midnight's Children can only be translated by a creator with an expansive vision, depth of storytelling, and a nuanced knowledge of bringing characters to life," said Simran Sethi, director-creative international originals for Netflix. "We couldn't have imagined anyone other than Vishal Bhardwaj as the showrunner on this series and are honored that he will steer the project."

Bhardwaj commented: "The opportunity to translate one of the greatest works of literature in a medium that is accessible to millions of people around the world is incredible, and I'm delighted to partner with Netflix in bringing Midnight's Children to life on screen. I'm confident that taking this quintessentially Indian epic that transcends generations and genres, combined with the production values and creative freedom that Netflix offers, will contribute to an unforgettable series that is Indian at heart and global in reach."

Books & Authors

Awards: Bad Sex in Fiction Shortlist

Haruki Murakami and James Frey lead an all-male shortlist for "that least-coveted of literary prizes," the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, presented annually by the Literary Review to "the most egregious passage of sexual description in a work of fiction," the Guardian reported. The 2018 finalists are:

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami 
Katerina by James Frey
The Paper Lovers by Gerard Woodward
Scoundrels: The Hunt for Hansclapp by Major Victor Cornwall and Major Arthur St. John Trevelyan
Connect by Julian Gough
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Grace's Day by William Wall

Gough said: "I am delighted to have been shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, particularly alongside the great Haruki Murakami, and I hope I win.... It would be a huge honor to join such former winners as John Updike, Tom Wolfe and Ben Okri."

Describing the shortlist as being indicative of "a pretty good year," the Literary Review's Frank Brinkley said that some sex scenes were "so over the top as to be almost outrageous," and that a common thread of "anatomical confusion" could be found in most of the novels.

Audiobooks: Selected Fall Bestsellers

Our friends at AudioFile Magazine highlight the audio versions of some popular fall titles--all bestsellers (see below)--including two backlist favorites.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar (Hachette Audio)

British actress Fenella Woolgar delivers the wry asides and animates Atkinson's broad cast of characters from plucky Cockney-accented errand boys to elderly women conspiratorially sharing their shocking views. Woolgar's melodious voice and dry wit carry listeners along and illuminate this World War II novel.

The Witch Elm by Tana French, read by Paul Nugent (Penguin Audio)

This tale's Irish accents, particularly the banter of the Dublin detectives and colloquial dialogue, are meant to be heard, and narrator Paul Nugent is the man for the job. Nugent never lets the unfolding layers of this crime novel fully fall away. He keeps the listener present and attentive.

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny, read by Robert Bathurst (Macmillan Audio)

Robert Bathurst narrates his fourth Inspector Gamache mystery, and his comfort with Gamache and the quirky residents of the Quebec hamlet of Three Pines makes listening a joy.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, read by the Author (Random House Audio)

If you can listen to the former First Lady tell you her story in her own voice, why would you want it any other way? The immediacy of the audio version seats you beside her as she reflects on and recounts her inspiring story. In a rich, warm timbre, Michelle Obama treats us to reminiscences and reflections on her life as though we were friends seated in her living room. Her signature quiet confidence comes through every word.

In Pieces by Sally Field, read by the Author (Hachette Audio)

Actor Sally Field, winner of two Academy Awards, gives a powerhouse performance of her memoir. Her aging timbre doesn't detract from the sensitivity that her personal narration brings to the story of her troubled childhood, early television roles, and ultimate success as a sophisticated and well-modulated actor and producer.

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, Book 1) by Tomi Adeyemi, read by Bahni Turpin (Macmillan Audio)

Bahni Turpin's breathtaking narration of this exhilarating novel will keep listeners rooted to their seats, listening intently. The story is told through the shifting perspectives of three teenagers in a West African-inspired fantasy. Turpin's captivating narration, with incantations sung in Yoruba, intense battles, and lively, devastating dialogue, makes this an audiobook not to be missed.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, read by David Sedaris, Amy Sedaris, Ann Magnuson (Hachette Audio, unabridged)

Listeners who have never heard David Sedaris deliver his saga of working as an elf at Macy's during Christmas are in for a treat in "SantaLand Diaries," which comprises the first hour of this collection and introduced many to Sedaris. This holiday sampler is a tonic for listeners who need a break from all the sugarplums and tinsel.

Selected Readings from The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker, edited by Marion Meade, read by Lorna Raver (Blackstone Audio, unabridged)

Parker, one of the wittiest women of the 20th century and a member of the Algonquin Round Table, decimated the hypocrisies of her time with these short stories and poems. Lorna Raver provides the voice, at once snappish and elegant.

Book Review

Review: The Water Cure

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh (Doubleday, $25.95 hardcover, 288p., 9780385543873, January 8, 2019)

The Water Cure is a dream-like study of sisterhood, patriarchal norms and what it means to be a woman. Three sisters live in an island compound protected by barbed wire and traps, forced to undergo bizarre acts of self-punishment and denial by their parents in the name of staying healthy. But when their father disappears and three strange men arrive at their door, the small world constructed for the women begins to burst open. Sophie Mackintosh's debut is built like one of the family's traps, turned tight in the opening pages and ready to spring.

Grace, Lia and Sky have grown up knowing little other than the world their parents built for them: daily rituals intended to keep outside contamination at bay, a sheltered existence and the ever-present fear of men other than their father, King. As a result, the strange appearance of the men, claiming to be shipwrecked, forces each young woman to rethink the rules and culture of the compound. Grace, the eldest, follows her mother's forceful defiance of this new male presence, while Lia is intrigued, and begins to move closer to one of the intruders as she expands the limits of her world and experience. Sky, too young and too bound to her parents' traditions, watches helplessly as her sisters are pulled in opposite directions, made all the worse when their mother suddenly disappears. Taught from childhood that men are a threat, the sisters must now decide how to deal with this incursion.

In different hands, The Water Cure might have been a thriller, a twisting cat-and-mouse game where the sisters and their guests continually gain and lose the upper hand. But Mackintosh is more interested in how Grace and Lia perceive masculinity, how it toxifies their relationship and lives. As narrators, the two sisters fret and consider, each thinking through her past to make choices in the present. The three men, James, Llew and his son, Gwil, are more signifiers than real people, each taking on a different shade of archetypal maleness, and all are unlike King, an apt name for the father who disappears from his compound forever. The Water Cure examines how its protagonists navigate their bodies and identities in relation to King's rules and, when he is gone, the rules of deportment with their new guests.

The Water Cure lives and dies by its two main narrators, and Mackintosh makes Grace and Lia vivid. As sisters raised in a place with few interlocutors, their voices and commitments are similar, but Mackintosh shows the breaks between them in their needs and reactions to the newly arrived men. Some chapters are told in unison, with all three sisters speaking as one, as if they are a part of a greater whole of womanhood.

The Water Cure ultimately ends in a show of how powerful the wills of the three sisters are. Fans of haunting works that probe identity will find a lot to love in its pages, as will anyone who likes stories that deconstruct notions of gender and power. --Noah Cruickshank, adult engagement manager, the Field Museum, Chicago, Ill.

Shelf Talker: The Water Cure is a dream-like book that deftly explores questions of gender, power and identity.

The Bestsellers

Top Audiobooks in November

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstore locations during November:


1. Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins)
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Witch Elm by Tana French (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss (Simon & Schuster Audio)
5. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (Macmillan Audio)
6. Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Hachette Audio)
7. Parker: Selected Stories by Dorothy Parker (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. There There by Tommy Orange (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Audio)
10. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (Macmillan Audio)


1. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster Audio)
4. Calypso by David Sedaris (Hachette Audio)
5. I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson (Hachette Audio)
6. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. In Pieces by Sally Field (Hachette Audio)
9. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris (Hachette Audio)
10. These Truths by Jill Lepore (Recorded Books)

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