Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 13, 2018

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

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

Quotation of the Day

City Lights Bookstore: 'Locus for the Literary Life'

"In 1951, [San Francisco] was a wide-open city, and it seemed like you could do anything you wanted to here. It was like there was so much missing that if it was going to be a real city, there was so much that it had to get, that it didn't have. And, for instance, as far as bookstores go, all the bookstores closed at 5 p.m. and they weren't open on the weekends. And there was no place to sit down. And there was usually a clerk on top of you asking you what you wanted.

"And so the first thing I realized, there was no bookstore to become the locus for the literary community. It's really important if you're going to have a literary community, it has to have a locus. It just can't be out there in the air. So, from the very beginning, when we started City Lights in June 1953, the idea was to make it a locus for the new literary community that had developed out of the Berkeley Renaissance, so called, and it proved to be true. People just flocked to it because there had been no locus for the literary life."

--Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and co-founder of City Lights Bookstore, in a q&a with the San Francisco Chronicle

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood


Breck Books Opens in Breckenridge, Colo.

Richard and Kim Sims, who have 20 years of experience in bookselling, opened Breck Books last month in Breckenridge, Colo., and are "seeing signs they found the ideal place," Summit Daily wrote.

"We have a lot to learn," Richard Sims said of running a bookstore in a resort community. "But we have begun to see it in the last few days, and it makes us feel confident that--I don't want to say we know what we're doing--but it's falling into place a little bit and keeping us optimistic.

Based on their research, they believe that Breckenridge can support a bookstore that has "a robust children's section and carries new releases, time-honored classics, hiking and snow-trekking guides and high-altitude cookbooks," the paper continued.

"The people that come [to Breckenridge] have some money to travel with, they're only here for four or five days, and they're not going to order from Amazon," Richard Sims commented. "They see something, they buy it; that was the picture we got."

Besides books, the store carries a range of gift items from book-themed baby clothing to note cards, greeting cards, puzzles, mugs, and wooden games.

Kim Sims said, "My big find for the year, I think--it's already quite popular--is Cards Against Muggles. It's all Harry Potter and just as racy as Cards Against Humanity, so it's not recommended for the 10-year-olds, but it's a fun game."

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz Reflects on a Career in Bookselling

Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz

"I'm proud of the connection between Powell's and the Portland community," said Miriam Sontz, CEO of Powell's Books in Portland, Ore. On January 2, Sontz will officially retire from a 34-year career at Powell's and more than 40 years in the book industry at large. "I'm proud of our national reputation," Sontz continued. "And being part of something that is pretty unique and is so appreciated."

Sontz started working at Powell's in August 1984, following an "incredibly rich background and education from some amazing people in the book business," that included working at B. Dalton Bookseller, J.K. Gill Company and as a volunteer at A Woman's Place, the city's first feminist bookstore. She was a remainders buyer at Powell's for only a few months before becoming manager of the company's first additional location, which opened in Beaverton, Ore., around Thanksgiving of 1984.

She was there for two years before becoming manager of Powell's Burnside store, which at the time was "only" about 20,000 square feet. As the store grew, Sontz took on more and more responsibilities, including director of, and in 2013 CEO.

Reflecting on how the industry has changed since she started her career, Sontz noted that while there have been some "amazing transformations," some things have remained constant. The general business of running things, of looking at budgets and sales per FTE and all sorts of other metrics, is largely the same. And competition has always been a factor, though the competitors have changed: years ago it was Crown Books and other early deep discounters, followed by superstores and big-box retailers, and then Amazon and e-books.

"I'm reminded of the song 'I'm Still Standing,' " Sontz remarked. "After all these years we're still standing--not only standing but thriving."

Powell's began as a 100% used bookstore, and Sontz recalled that the "single biggest change for us as a business" was grappling with the sort of used bookstore customer service that was often stereotyped as "curmudgeonly, unfriendly, dusty." Nowadays, she said, "everybody knows that every customer is a gift to the company." But back in the late 1980s, it was a struggle to convince people that customer service was an important sales tool.

Through it all, though, the content has remained king. "One of the things I find truly amazing is that people's passion for paper between boards largely remains the same," she said. And despite whatever else is going on in the book world at large, when she visits the store's children's section, she feels "pretty confident about the future of the print industry."

When asked for how long she's been considering retirement, Sontz laughed and answered: "Since I was 35." But it was only in the past two years or so that Sontz began to think seriously about it, and in that time she's been working with company owner and president Emily Powell, chief operating officer John Kingsbury and others in the organization to ensure a smooth transition. That includes things like taking some "oral traditions" and turning them into official documentation, as well as writing down things that Sontz does that will need to be delegated. "We've just been thoughtfully going through a process," Sontz said.

Once she's no longer with Powell's, Sontz said she's going to miss "being surrounded by an ocean of books" and the "constant tide" of new stories that she discovers every day. One thing she's always loved about the business, she continued, is that there's always something new on the horizon, whether it's the next big mystery writer or the next breakout bestseller.

Sontz will also miss the "many dear friends" she's made during her time in the book business and already has plans to visit several of them after she retires. Reflecting on her time in the industry, she said: "One of the amazing benefits of the book business is how many wonderful people there are." She noted, too, that in her more than 40 years of experience, she's "only met two a--holes." Everyone else "has been delightful."

On the subject of specific plans for her retirement, Sontz commented that, "all of my life, I've always been very responsible. I'm looking forward to being irresponsible for a certain length of time. I'm looking forward to discovering my definition of irresponsible."

"I just feel so grateful and blessed that in my 20s I found some outlets for this passion that I have for books," Sontz said. "I still get goosebumps when I connect a reader to an author." It's that feeling, she explained, that has kept her going all these years. "Sometimes when you're working, there are parts that are difficult. But I could always go out on the floor and help a customer and get in touch with that passion again." --Alex Mutter

Forbes' Highest-Paid Authors: Michael Wolff Joins the Club

Michael Wolff

Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, became the first nonfiction writer in 11 years to make Forbes magazine's Highest-Paid Authors list, which was topped by James Patterson, who regained the title from second-place J.K. Rowling. Forbes reported that "the world's 11 highest-paid authors sold 24.5 million print books combined in the U.S. during our scoring period, logging $283 million." Missing from this year's list is The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins, who first made the rankings in 2016.

To formulate the rankings, Forbes looked at "all earnings estimates from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018. Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from NPD BookScan and Box Office Mojo, as well as interviews with industry insiders, including some of the authors themselves." This year's top-earning authors are:

1. James Patterson ($86 million)
2. J.K. Rowling ($54 million)
3. Stephen King ($27 million)
4. John Grisham ($21 million)
5. Jeff Kinney ($18.5 million)
5. Dan Brown ($18.5 million)
7. Michael Wolff ($13 million)
8. Danielle Steel ($12 million)
8. Nora Roberts ($12 million)
10. Rick Riordan ($10.5 million)
10. E.L James ($10.5 million)

Seth Godin Wins Covert Award for Business Book Industry Contributions

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the winner of 800-CEO-READ's fifth annual Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry, honoring the company's founder and retired president.

Godin is, according to 800-CEO-READ, "a champion of the business book industry--acting as inspiration, mentor, and guide to so many others in the field--and has also challenged it in positive ways over the years. He is both an author (of 18 bestselling books, no less), and a publisher (through his Domino Project). He is an entrepreneur, relentless idea generator, teacher, and big picture thinker. In 2004, he launched ChangeThis (now under the stewardship of 800-CEO-READ) to create a vehicle for spreading ideas. The many classic books he had under his belt before this year have already cemented his legendary status in the industry, but he hasn't slowed down or let up. In 2018, he added one of his finest books, This Is Marketing. He's done all this while launching the Marketing Seminar, from which more than 5,000 people have learned to do modern, meaningful marketing, and his altMBA online leadership and management workshops, engaging more than 1,000 students from over 45 countries in the most impactful ideas around topics of business and life."

Concerning the award, Jack Covert said, "Just mention the name 'Seth' to anyone in our industry, and they will immediately know who you're talking about. One name is all you need. He is that influential. And he is just as generous. Talking to Seth is like drinking from a firehose. The ideas that come from the man's brain seem endless, and we have benefited greatly as a company from our conversations and connection to him. I know for a fact that he has had a similar impact on countless others."

Adrian Zackheim, president and publisher of Portfolio and recipient of the 2015 Jack Covert Award, added: "We could not be more proud and happy to be the long-time publisher of Seth Godin, who has become a personal and professional friend to Portfolio. Over so many books since 2003--from Purple Cow to The Dip to Tribes to Linchpin to This Is Marketing--we have enjoyed a unique partnership. No other author has challenged us quite so much to up our game. No other author has rewarded us, and his readers, with so many remarkable books of enduring value. Indeed, no other author has guided us, as Seth has, to define what we really stand for. Our hats are off to you, Seth!"

Godin will receive the award at the 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards on January 17 in New York City.


Sidewalk Chalkboard of the Day: City of Asylum Bookstore

City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa., shared a photo of its sidewalk chalkboard sign on Facebook, noting: "It's a no-brainer, really." The sign points left toward the bookshop's entrance for "Stories, Ideas, Worlds" and right for "Traffic and Real Life."

BookNet Canada Q&A: Whodunit? Mystery Bookstore Owners

Wendy and Michael Bumsted of Whodunit? Mystery Bookstore in Winnipeg, Man., fielded five questions from BookNet Canada. Among our favorite exchanges:

What attracted you to bookselling?
Wendy: Bookstores themselves. The way that the spaces become so much more than just a shop, but, when run properly, can become hubs for culture, for connection, and for social change is something that's not unique to bookstores, but is certainly rare to find in other kinds of retail spaces.
Michael: This is not, I must admit, where I expected to find myself. However, there's a beauty in matching customers to books or authors. The feeling of satisfaction that comes from selling a customer a book that you love is great, but it's definitely surpassed by finding a book that's perfect for the customer but might not necessarily be a favorite of yours.

What is the most pressing issue facing bookselling today?
Wendy: Supply chain. Particularly in a smaller store, the tension between not overstocking, or understocking is very real. Even with the advanced data that we collect (or have access to via BookNet), there are still occasions when a book disappears more quickly than we can order it (and we lose sales to other vendors) or a book we thought would do well languishes on our shelves for no clear reason. This is particularly true of books in long-running series, as sometimes the seventh book of a series will fly off the shelf with no particular reason or track record, or the ninth will not go at all. The time that it takes to adjust to these trends, and the time it takes to re-stock when you have a run on a title, is something that we always struggle with.
Michael: Perception. This is probably particularly noticed by us as we have just made the move to expand our store, but nearly every day we have someone who remarks on how surprised they are not just that we still exist, but that we felt it necessary (and possible) to expand. The idea that "young people aren't reading books anymore" or the question "Doesn't everyone just read on their Kindle?" aren't borne out in our experience in the shop, where our customers are getting younger and a fair number of our older customers who eschewed us for digital have come back to reading paper books for a variety of reasons.

Personnel Changes at Tom Doherty Associates

Lucille Rettino has been promoted to the newly created position of v-p, associate publisher, director of marketing and publicity, for Tom Doherty Associates, including Tor, Forge, Tor Teen, Starscape and She joined the company in early 2017 as v-p, marketing and publicity.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sean Hayes on the Talk

The Talk: Sean Hayes, co-author of Plum (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781534404045).

TV: Carmen Sandiego

Netflix has announced that Carmen Sandiego, a reboot of the classic animated series featuring the voice of Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), will premiere January 18. Deadline reported that the project, produced by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, "features not only a new crop of international capers packed but will look into Carmen's past to tell who she is and why she became a super thief. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) voices Player, Carmen's chief accomplice and friend."

The character debuted in a 1980s computer game franchise Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and was later a game show that aired on PBS from 1991-95. The animated series ran from 1994 to 1999 on Fox Kids.

HMH Books for Young Readers will publish Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego, with a foreword by Gina Rodriguez, January 22. The novelization based on the Netflix series will also be available simultaneously in Spanish. Additional Carmen titles will follow in 2019 and beyond. HMH is the owner of the Carmen Sandiego property and Caroline Fraser, head of HMH Productions, is an executive producer on the Netflix series.

This Weekend on Book TV: Michelle Obama

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, December 15
7 p.m. Antony Beevor, author of The Battle of Arnhem: The Deadliest Airborne Operation of World War II (Viking, $35, 9780525429821). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

8 p.m. Michelle Obama, author of Becoming (Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

10 p.m. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, authors of Trump's Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency (Center Street, $27, 9781546076223). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Adam Hochschild, author of Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays (University of California Press, $27.95, 9780520297241), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, December 16
12:52 p.m. Rosemary Gibson, co-author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America's Dependence on China for Medicine (Prometheus, $25, 9781633883819), at the National Press Club's Book Fair.

3:54 p.m. Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Viking, $28, 9780525429722), at the National Press Club's Book Fair.

7 p.m. Matthew Pressman, author of On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674976658), at Book Culture Bookstore in New York City.

7:44 p.m. April Ryan, author of Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9781538113363).

8 p.m. Timothy Denevi, author of Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson's Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism (PublicAffairs, $28, 9781541767942), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: Center for Fiction First Novel; Geoffrey Faber Memorial

Tommy Orange won the $10,000 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for There There (Knopf). The organizers wrote, in part:

"There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. It's 'masterful... white-hot... devastating' (Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard--a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it's destined to be a classic."


Gwendoline Riley's novel First Love won the £1,500 (about $1,900) Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for a writer aged 40 or under, the Guardian reported. The award, which was established in memory of the founder and first chairman of Faber & Faber, is given to poetry and prose in alternate years.

Author Evie Wyld, one of this year judges, said First Love is "a book of nerve endings and often brutal truthfulness. It's slim but has a powerful gravitational field, each word placed with expert care. In its unpicking of an abusive relationship, it feels both powerfully urgent and a novel that will be studied for years for its beauty, horror and humor."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 18:

Liars' Paradox by Taylor Stevens (Kensington, $26, 9781496718631) introduces a new thriller series starring twin assassins.

Sins as Scarlet by Nicolas Obregon (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250110503) follows a Tokyo policeman relocating to Los Angeles.

Moondust Lake by Davis Bunn (Kensington, $21.95, 9781496708359) is the third domestic drama set in Miramar Bay.

Avatar: The Last Airbender--Imbalance Part One by Faith Erin Hicks and Michael Dante DiMartino (Dark Horse, $10.99, 9781506704890).

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:

The Western Wind: A Novel by Samantha Harvey (Grove Press, $26, 9780802128287). "Samantha Harvey's deeply engaging fourth novel is far more than a medieval whodunnit. In 1491 in a dull, poor village in Somerset, England, local priest John Reve finds himself in charge of investigating the drowning of Tom Newman, the richest man in the village. Was it an accident, suicide, or an act of violence? Newman owned most of the area land and the economy of the village depended on his generosity. Who will benefit the most from his passing? Pressured by his superiors to find a quick resolution, Reve reflects on the lives, beliefs, and superstitions of his parishioners, and his compassionate and humorous observations become intelligent and beautiful meditations on religion and existence. Highly recommended." --Pierre Camy, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Come With Me: A Novel by Helen Schulman (Harper, $26.99, 9780062459138). "A gripping, expertly written story of love and fate, Helen Schulman's Come With Me resonates for all of us who are engaged in our modern, complex families; intrigued and confused by the technology in our lives; and curious enough to wonder how our lives might have turned out if we had made different choices." --Linda Kass, Gramercy Books, Bexley, Ohio

The Wolves of Winter: A Novel by Tyrell Johnson (Scribner, $16, 9781501155680). "When all the terrible things imaginable--and unimaginable--happen, all that is left is your family, whether blood or those you bond with in the aftermath of devastation. Teenager Lynn McBride remembers the world before--before nuclear war, before the flu, and even before her family moved to the Canadian Yukon--and those memories tease and haunt her while giving us clues to her history. While her family struggles daily for food and warmth, they are together and they watch out for each other, never encountering strangers--until Jax shows up..." --Eileen McGervey, One More Page Books, Arlington, Va.

For Ages 4 to 8
Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri (First Second, $17.99, 9781626725355). "This is super adorable and sweet. Tiger's best friend is the monster under her bed (named Monster), who protects her sleep from nightmares. One night, though, a nightmare/monster shows up that is too strong for Monster to take on alone. Can these two friends work together toward a solution? I loved this so much. I wish I'd had this when my nephew went through his monster phase." --Krystal Gotz, Paperbacks and Pieces, Winona, Minn.

For Ages 9 to 12
Limitless: 24 Remarkable American Women of Vision, Grit, and Guts by Leah Tinari (Aladdin, $19.99, 9781534418554). "WOW. This intriguing group of American women peer out at the reader through beautiful portraits that give an impression of concentrated, unique strength and character. So empowering! So cool!" --Rebecca Waesch, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio

For Teen Readers
Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Freeform, $17.99, 9781368014137). "A great, fun read that contains a dash of love and lots of humor. Sawyer is a mechanic; working keeps her busy and it helps her mom pay the bills. She never expected her estranged grandmother to show up and offer her a way out of the paycheck-to-paycheck life she leads. But there's a catch: Sawyer must become a debutante and live the 'good' life her grandmother has laid out for her. And as a bonus, maybe she'll find out who her dad is. All of it sounds like an old soap opera to her, but Sawyer's going to milk it for everything it's worth." --Alexis Sky, Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Golden State

Golden State by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books, $28 hardcover, 336p., 9780316505413, January 22, 2019)

Ben H. Winters has established a niche for himself with noir-inflected mysteries that take place in speculative realities, such as Underground Airlines and The Last Policeman. In Golden State, Winters continues in this vein, setting his novel in an alternate or possibly future society where the state of California has become a separate nation known as the Golden State. The rest of the former United States has undergone an unknown disaster, seemingly related to the spread of misinformation and the erosion of objective truth. In response, the Golden State has instituted constant surveillance and rigid adherence to collectively understood facts referred to as Objectively So.

Protagonist Laszlo Ratesic is a veteran Speculator, a type of law enforcement officer committed to prosecuting lies and untruths in all their forms. In addition to unspecified extrasensory perception that allows him to sniff out lies halfway across a room, Ratesic and others in the Speculative Service are allowed to consider multiple possible scenarios in pursuit of their investigations. In other words, to speculate. Ratesic's emotional life belies his professional success; he struggles with feelings he still holds for his ex-wife, and he lives in the shadow of his brother, a genius Speculator killed in the line of duty. When Ratesic is assigned a young, talented partner, he finds himself shaken out of his lonely routine and on the trail of a suspicious death that leads to a larger conspiracy.

In many ways, Golden State is a reflection on contemporary preoccupations about fake news and alternative facts. In one passage, Ratesic struggles to picture a society without the Objectively So:

"Because just imagine--just imagine the alternative, the world in which a man encounters some scrap of information, about the murder rate in his neighborhood, or about the presence of troops on the northern border, or what time the bus is supposed to come... and then the next hour or the next day he hears something different, and it is impossible, literally impossible, to know which version is the real one. Madness creeps in very quickly at the edges of such speculation."

However, the downsides of the Golden State are readily apparent. Any form of fiction or untruth, no matter how minor, is proscribed, including the utterances of the mentally ill. Those found in violation are exiled to the unknown world outside the nation's borders. The Golden State recalls 1984 in its emphasis on surveillance, obsessive record-keeping and bureaucracy, although the sunshine and acres of marijuana fields make Winters's vision considerably more attractive.

Winters is an expert at combining social commentary with gripping mystery plots, and the novel never slows down enough to be accused of didacticism. With rich characters, frequent twists and tense set pieces, Winters always nails the hardboiled basics. And even as Ratesic's unquestioning faith in his society erodes, it remains a provocative and compelling alternative to the uncertainty that can seem to undergird modern life. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shelf Talker: Golden State sets its satisfying mystery plot in a speculative version of California where falsehoods are considered the greatest threat to public safety.

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