Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 14, 2018

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine


River Bend Bookshop Opens in Glastonbury, Conn.

River Bend Bookshop opened last month at 2217 Main St. in Glastonbury, Conn. The Hartford Courant reported that the new business is "an almost step-back-in-time bookshop complete with a bell on the door that announces customers. Hundreds of books line shelves along with items made by area artisans."

"Why I would do a crazy thing like this?" asked owner Meghan Hayden, anticipating the question that might be on some people's minds: "That's all right. It's something I really believe in."

For the past six years, she has been a United Way volunteer reader, working with a first or second grader falling behind grade level reading. "The idea is you'll be one more adult in their life that cares about reading, that gets them excited about it and that celebrates them as they make progress," she said, adding: "Mostly it is joy because kids open up to you so quickly. They know right away that you are their person and they look forward to you coming in. I wanted more of that in my life."

River Bend Bookshop is the result. Hayden said that in addition to a well-curated selection of adult titles, she wanted to make the children's room warm and inviting and specialize in a diversity of stories with new titles and authors: "While we carry all the classics you would expect to see, we have a lot of books you really wouldn't find in other places. We wanted it to be representative of the world we live in.... We don't want to beat you over the head with issues, but we want to have kids use books as both mirrors and windows, so they can see themselves in the story and in the world around them."

Hayden added that "people who care about books and people who care about sharing stories have a good way of finding each other. It didn't take too long for people to start coming through the door.... River Bend and the indie bookstores can do all the things that big guys can do. We can order books. We can do audio books and e-books. We can also do tons of things that Amazon can never do like know your kids' names and what number series they are on and which series they are going to like next."

On the bookshop's Facebook page, she recently posted: "Feeling lucky to walk through this beautiful front door every morning. Join me for a few minutes of indulging curiosity, discovering new favorites and connecting with your neighbors. I will be here all day!"

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

Becoming, the Book Publishing Phenomenon of 2018

Becoming has become the book publishing phenomenon of the year--the bestselling book of 2018 in the month since its publication. The memoir by Michelle Obama is No. 1 on a range of bestseller lists in the U.S. as well as the U.K., Germany, France and elsewhere.

Yesterday, in a year-end letter to employees around the world, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle noted: "As a collaborative and shared reward, we are thrilled that the powerful and inspiring memoir Becoming by Michelle Obama, which has been brilliantly published and internationally coordinated by our Crown colleagues with our publishing teams in all our territories, plus many more countries and languages, emerged as the bestselling book of 2018 after merely two weeks on sale. Total copies currently in print worldwide: more than five million."

Michelle Obama at Seminary Co-op in Chicago last month.

Obama's book tour, often held in large locations, began on pub date November 13 in her hometown of Chicago and has attracted sold-out crowds. In London last week, she appeared at the Southbank Centre with writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and met backstage with the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

The Becoming tour was originally scheduled to end soon, but has now been extended into May of next year. It comprises 21 events, of which four will be in Canada and six in Europe. (One appearance is in Paris, where she was scheduled earlier this month but had to skip for the funeral of President George H.W. Bush.)

In the announcement, Obama commented: "I couldn't be more excited to visit even more cities across the country and around the world. I've been so humbled by the response to the tour thus far and the overwhelming interest we've received from so many communities we weren't able to visit this year. That's why I'm thrilled that we're able to expand our conversations to these new settings and wider audiences. I can't wait to continue the discussions that have been so meaningful for me and, I hope, for so many others."

At Tattered Cover's event yesterday: Heather Duncan, MPIBA executive director; Anne Holman, The King's English, Salt Lake City; Kristen Gilligan, Tattered Cover

A recent addition includes the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., which announced on Tuesday "a last minute, very special addition" to its events schedule: a book signing by the former First Lady yesterday afternoon at Tattered Cover's Colfax Avenue location, preceding her evening appearance at the Pepsi Center.

In an effort to make her events accessible to as many people as possible, Obama and Live Nation, which is organizing her tours, donate some event tickets to a range of organizations, including charities, schools and community groups, allowing some fans to attend for free.

Indie booksellers report that the book is a bestseller--and usually their bestselling book.

Speaking with Quartz, James Fugate, owner of Eso Won Books, Los Angeles, Calif., noted that the store's emphasis on pre-orders for Becoming resulted in sales of more than 200 copies. "They've been prepaid," he said. "So that's very good."

At Barnes & Noble, Becoming was the fastest-selling book of the year and one of the fastest-selling books in the company's history. It had the best pre-order and first-week sales of an adult title since Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee was released in 2015.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Tin House Magazine to Cease Publication in 2019

Respected literary journal Tin House will cease publication next year with its 20th anniversary issue in June, but Tin House Books and the Tin House Workshop will continue. In an announcement posted on the company's website, publisher and editor-in-chief Win McCormack wrote: "I'm grateful to Rob Spillman, Elissa Schappell, Holly MacArthur and the entire magazine staff, current, and past, for their part in creating a vital, versatile outlet and hosting important literary and cultural conversations over the past 20 years. It has been a remarkable run."

McCormack cited the current costs of producing a literary magazine as instrumental in his decision to shift resources to the company's other two divisions: Tin House Books and the Tin House Workshop. "This will allow the workshop to create more scholarship opportunities for its participants and expand the scope of what types of classes it offers, while our book division will look to publish more titles in the coming years. We will continue to publish original fiction, nonfiction and poetry online at, with a focus on new voices, a cause the magazine championed throughout its twenty-year history."

Tin House editor Spillman commented: "As a co-founding editor, with Elissa Schappell, I am proud of the magazine's dedication to promoting new voices and lifting up overlooked ones, for leading the way in gender balance among literary magazines, and for expanding the ethos of inclusivity and genre-bending to our book division and summer workshop. It has been an honor to work with such smart, dedicated colleagues, and to publish the most exciting, vital voices of our time. Twenty years feels like the right time to be stepping away and moving on to new adventures. I look forward to focusing on other opportunities at the intersection of art and activism."

B&N Unwraps Frontline Booksellers for Holiday Ad Campaign

Barnes & Noble's frontline booksellers are in the spotlight for the company's holiday season marketing campaign this year. Adweek reported that B&N "is recasting its booksellers as the all-knowing book lovers who can help you find the best gifts for everyone you need to shop for this year." The bookstore chain worked closely with Havas on the "Nobody Knows Books Like We Do" campaign, which includes several 15-second spots celebrating B&N's 23,000 booksellers across the country.

"One of the things that is unique about Barnes & Noble as a shopping experience is interacting with their booksellers," said Tim Maleeny, Havas chief strategy officer, North America. "They can not only help you navigate the store and find the perfect gift, but you know they are going to be totally passionate about whatever it is you are shopping for."

The campaign "aims to get people to brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble stores to do their shopping rather than purely online. That way, the brand highlights, shoppers can benefit from speaking with an expert--not relying on an algorithm to find a gift for a friend or family member," Adweek wrote.

Echoing the words independent booksellers have been saying for years, Harry Bernstein, CCO of Havas New York, said, "When you go to the store, you are not being filtered by an algorithm--you are engaging with someone who understands those interests maybe even more than you do, and you actually get that better gift in the end."

The Bookshop Band to Tour U.S., Including Wi14

The Bookshop Band will play a 15-date tour across America next month, with sponsorship from U.K. wholesaler Gardners and U.S.entertainment distributor All Media Supply. The Bookseller reported that the band was formed by Ben Please and Beth Porter in 2010 after Please "was approached by Nic Bottomley, co-owner of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, to create songs inspired by the works of the bookshop's guest authors and play these songs at the author events."

"Now, finally, thanks to the incredibly generous sponsorship of Gardners and AMS and the invitation of our friends at the American Booksellers Association, the band can head across the Atlantic to play their songs in American independent bookshops and at the Winter Institute," said Bottomley, who is also chairman of the Booksellers Association. "Many of our peers in America have been itching to host the Bookshop Band and we at Mr. B's are so proud and excited to see them finally heading stateside."

The tour, which begins at Little City Books in Hoboken, N.J., on January 16 and ends at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., February 3, will play at bookshops and libraries in various states, as well as the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex., for a series of special performances.

Nigel Wyman, head of business development at Gardners, commented: "When Nic from Mr. B's first approached me with this opportunity, something clicked straight away and I knew we had to be part of this exciting U.S. tour. It did not take long before Jonathan Little, Gardners' m.d. and owner, agreed this was a great idea."

Please added that it had "always been a pipe dream of ours to organize a tour" in the U.S. and "we're very proud to be taking over songs inspired by Mr. B's curation of eight years of fantastic new literature, and hopefully bringing a bit of the flavor of what is happening in the U.K.'s literature scene over to the U.S."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Private Rites
by Julia Armfield
GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

In Private Rites, Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea; salt slow) offers an atmospheric meditation on sisterhood and loss at the end of the world. Living in a bleak, water-inundated city where the rain rarely stops, Isla, Irene, and Agnes are shocked at the abrupt death of their father, who has left his house to only one of them. As they grapple with his last manipulation, they must grapple, too, with what it means to have relationships with each other beyond his reach. As Flatiron Books executive editor Caroline Bleeke notes, Armfield's novel may be about "difficult things," yet it "manages to be so funny, so loving, so brilliant, and so beautifully, singularly written." Private Rites is a testament to the light that can be found in each other, even in the darkest of times. --Alice Martin

(Flatiron, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781250344311, December 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


What's in a Name?: The Silver Unicorn Bookstore

The latest subject of Bookselling This Week's "What's in a Name?" series is the Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, Mass., which opened last March. Regarding the bookshop's name, owner Paul Swydan said, "It's not a thoroughly entertaining story. As I was researching names, I came to the conclusion that there are three types of bookstore names: geography-based (Main Street Books), puns/literary names (The Poisoned Pen), and other. I like being in the 'other' camp, so that led me to think a little outside of the box. I like unicorns, and they've become more ubiquitous. Basketball players like Kristaps Porziņģis are routinely called unicorns now, and food is called unicorn food, so the word has lost the fantasy-tinged overtones it used to have. But 'The Unicorn Bookstore' didn't sound right to me; it needed another word. And my favorite color is silver, so there you go! Kind of long-winded. My cousin who's a publicist keeps telling me I need to invent a better backstory, but that wouldn't be the truth."

'Is This Italy’s Smallest Library?'

Antonio La Cava, a retired Italian school teacher and creator of the Bibliomotocarro, "transformed his three-wheeler into a tiny mobile library to spread the joy of books to children in the remote communities of Basilicata," the BBC reported.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bruce Springsteen on Fresh Air

Fresh Air repeat: Bruce Springsteen, author of Born to Run (Simon & Schuster, $19.99, 9781501141522).

Movies: The Show

"After spending years criticizing how Hollywood has adapted his iconic graphic novels, Alan Moore [Watchmen] is finally taking matters into his own hands," Deadline reported, noting that Protagonist Pictures has unveiled a "first look" at Moore's upcoming fantasy film, The Show.

Production is currently underway on the project, which Moore wrote and also has a role in. He said he was trying to create a world with "no throwaway dialogue and no throwaway characters," and to build a large epic fantasy. "A world where every character is memorable, distinctive, and attempting to steal the whole show for themselves--just as we do in real life. And I wanted to make a piece of radical and progressive cinema that was also ridiculously sumptuous, involving and entertaining. A genuinely spectacular show."

Directed by Mitch Jenkins, who worked with Moore on the short films that this movie is based on, The Show stars Tom Burke, Siobhan Hewlett, Ellie Bamber, Sheila Atim and Richard Dillane.

TV: The Great Believers; Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Amy Poehler's Paper Kite Productions "has come aboard to option rights to Rebecca Makkai's 2018 novel The Great Believers, set during the wide swath of the AIDS epidemic, with plans to turn it into a TV series," Deadline reported. Paper Kite also recently acquired rights to a pair of books, Jennifer Mathieu's Moxie and Karina Yan Glaser's The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, to adapt into feature films.


"Global organization icon" Marie Kondo's new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, is launching January 1, 2019. Deadline reported that the project, from the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, "will spark joy around the world as she helps real people get organized."

During the eight-episode series, Kondo "guides people who are at a crossroads and resolved to finally tackle the clutter blocking their joy, transforming lives in emotional and surprising ways. As seen in the trailer, things get a little emotional between the bestselling author and those whose lives are in desperate need of tidying," Deadline wrote.

Books & Authors

Awards: Tony Lothian Winner

The Biographers' Club announced that Harriet Baker has won the £2,000 (about $2,530) Tony Lothian Prize, which recognizes "the best proposal for a first biography," for Rural Hours: Interwar Female Writers, Landscape and Living, a collective biography that explores "the rural lives of female writers--Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Rosamond Lehmann, Rose Macaulay and Dorothy Richardson--in the period covering the two world wars."

The judges said that Baker's proposal "is rich in potential, promising to change our perspective on the writers in question, and refreshing in its radical approach."

Reading with... Heather Rose

photo: Jack Robert-Tissot

Australian author Heather Rose has written seven novels, and her fourth novel for adults, The Museum of Modern Love, was just published in the U.S. by Algonquin. It's set during Marina Abramović's seminal art event The Artist Is Present at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 2010. Rose also writes the much-loved Tuesday McGillycuddy series for children under the pen name Angelica Banks with co-author Danielle Wood. Rose lives on the island of Tasmania.

On your nightstand now:

Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore, Kate Atkinson's Transcription, Dr Joe Dispenza's Becoming Supernatural, Colson Whitehead's Zone One

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Your top five authors:

Okay, I have to bend the rules a little here. Here are nine because it's too hard to name just five: Haruki Murakami, Kate Atkinson, Kazuo Ishiguro, David Mitchell, Elizabeth Strout, Elizabeth Gilbert, Virginia Woolf, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth. I am always looking for brilliant, haunting characters, rich world creation and a deep ocean of emotions.

Book you've faked reading:

War and Peace. I love Tolstoy but that one just tangles my brain.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Naomi Alderman's The Power. It's a book for every woman. Superb to the very last sentence.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Middlemarch by George Eliot (a cloth-bound edition) and Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things in that original hardback with the botanical art. In truth I love collecting multiple editions of my favourites. My library is like an ideas atlas of my life.

Book you hid from your parents:

I hid a lot from my parents, but books were not part of that subterfuge. I don't think they thought my peril lay in books--and they were right, upon reflection.

Book that changed your life:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It was the first book my father selected for me from the adult section of our state library. I was six years old and I already knew I wanted to be a writer, but that book made me realise what was possible. I can still see the marlin skeleton on the beach.

I remember thinking that books didn't just take you places, they made you feel things.

Favorite line from a book:

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive; for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs." --George Eliot, Middlemarch

Five books you'll never part with:

Anna Karenina--an edition my Dad gave me.

My original The Hobbit from when I was nine.

The Wreck of the Zephyr--a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg that was a favourite with my children.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert because Alma Whittaker is indelible.

Kate Atkinson's Life After Life--because Ursula Todd is also indelible.

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

Middlemarch by George Eliot.

One book you wish you had written:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. This story touched my heart in ways I couldn't imagine. Such a vivid and emotionally intelligent book.

Book Review

Review: The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager, $26.99 hardcover, 640p., 9780062678133, January 22, 2019)

S.A. Chakraborty returns to her Middle Eastern fantasy world in a sprawling epic sequel rife with secrets and political tension. Five years have passed since the events of The City of Brass. Nahri is of the ruling family in the magical city of Daevabad and practices as a healer, but she has lost everything she loved. She still longs for the human world and her home city of Cairo. Her arranged marriage to Muntadhir, the emir of Daevabad, has united her family with the usurpers who stole their throne, and the union has brought them no joy. Muntadhir keeps to his hard-partying lifestyle, and Nahri secretly takes contraceptive potions. Her brother-in-law and former friend Prince Alizayd fled into exile and probable death after betraying her and slaying the man she loved, the djinn warrior Dara. Her father-in-law, the king, threatens to harm the Daeva tribe if Nahri won't follow his commands, most of which involve staying in the palace.

When Alizayd returns to Daevabad, not only alive but happy with his new life in a desert settlement, a swirl of political factions surface and come into conflict. Prince Ali, who must hide his possession by water spirits, again becomes concerned about the half-human (and thus second-class) citizens of the region. As a result, he is drawn into his powerful mother's circle. Civil war brews, while unbeknownst to the players, another threat rises in the desert. Manizheh, Nahri's supposedly dead mother, is alive and planning to take the city back for the Daeva. To accomplish her aim, she has resurrected her greatest weapon, Dara himself.

Chakraborty is master of her world, unafraid to play with cultural and class conflicts. Intricately plotted, The Kingdom of Copper follows a younger generation struggling against the machinations of their elders to improve the lives of their people. Nahri and Alizayd have matured into leaders willing to take risks, such as founding a hospital that will treat patients across racial divides, but they face insidious resistance.

Readers new to Chakraborty's work should begin with The City of Brass or, at a minimum, study the included glossary and maps. For returning readers, the expansion of this mythology-infused world and the emotional fireworks of character reunions should provide plenty of incentive to rejoin Nahri on her journey. Political maneuvers, attempted assassinations and violent skirmishes build to a cliffhanger ending that leaves little room for a happily ever after in the next installment, though with Chakraborty's magic touch, anything is possible. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In this sequel set five years after Chakraborty's Middle Eastern-themed fantasy The City of Brass, Nahri, Alizayd and Dara are each caught in a collision course of political forces.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Wizardry of Bookshop Holiday Windows

By 1897, holiday window dressing was such a heated enterprise, L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz and was thereby an authority on all things magical, began publishing Show Window, a magazine devoted entirely to holiday window displays, which awarded prizes to the best designs. Baum saw the artistry in each window and aimed to raise 'mercantile decorating' to the status of a profession by founding the National Association of Window Trimmers. --Lucie Levine in a 6sqft piece chronicling the history of New York City's legendary holiday windows

After last week's virtual sleigh ride through an independent bookstore Christmas tree forest, it seemed only natural to bookend the adventure by heading downtown for a complementary tour of another retail tradition, the bookshop holiday season window display.

David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, told the New York Times what his holiday store window goal is: "Here's what we're looking for: We're trying to induce aesthetic delirium."

Indie booksellers are not generally pressured to build window displays that induce altered states of consciousness in their customers. That's what books are for. The goal is to reflect a more tranquil atmosphere with an invitation to the coziness and even retail sanctuary within the shop (though additional sales never hurt).

Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y.: "The BoW holiday window has arrived!! Stop by the 18th St. store and check it out--and stay tuned for the 84th St decor...."

And while I did spend a few crazy hours plowing through the seasonal madness of Midtown Manhattan a couple of weeks ago, I have also been dashing through the social media snow to check out the wizardry of bookshop holiday window displays, from Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C., to Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, and many places in between, including:

Barbara's Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., acknowledged historic--"When Macy's was Marshall Field's: Christmas store window featuring furniture; holiday shoppers on State Street. circa 1941."--as well as contemporary traditions: "Our State Street bookstore is located inside Macy's, where it's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas--especially on the seventh floor."

Poppies Howick, Auckland, N.Z.: "Our lovely Christmas window."

Two Sisters Bookery, Wilmington, N.C.: "Queen Katie, and Her need for sunshine in the afternoon, is truly testing MY need for symmetry! I curtsy. Sighhhh."

Mabel's Fables Bookstore, Toronto, Can.: "Mabel's Fables is here for all your last-minute Holiday needs! Even the mice agree!"

Books & Mortar, Grand Rapids, Mich.: "You know your signage is working when the American Book Association posts about it. It's really not a big deal. We're being chill about it... okay, okay, we may be a little geeked."

Greedy Reads, Baltimore, Md.: "Quick reminder that tonight is the second of our special evening shopping hours! Come browse the books from 5-9pm with wine, snacks, and special giveaways."

Browsers Bookshop, Olympia, Wash.: "[W]e have a wreath on our building, our staff holiday party is tonight, and we are looking forward to a bustling shop in the next couple of days."

Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh, Scotland: "We have a new window display; It's... festive! Red. Raging. Revolutionary. Fitting for these days of ours. Yes, it's us doing 'Festive' while the world goes mad."

Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.: "Living Windows in The District from 6-8 tonight! Mary Poppins has a fierce game of cards going right now."

Kirkdale Bookshop, London: "Christmas Window 2.0."

At Simply Books, Bramhall, England

Simply Books, Bramhall, Eng;and: "Thank you  @CressidaCowell & @LaytonNeal for inspiring our #christmas window this year!"

Let's Play Books, Emmaus, Pa.: "According to the Conductor of the Polar Express, the weather looks good for a trip to the North Pole! See you at 2018 Old Fashioned Christmas--see you on the trolley!"

Run for Cover Bookstore and Café, San Diego, Calif.: "Our ever so talented Ferril painted our window today and we love it. We are entering the OBMA storefront window contest so keep an eye out for voting info soon!"

New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va.: "Getting in the holiday spirit!"

Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: "We're ready for Deck the District this weekend in NewBo. Join us for a spot of good cheer!"

The Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta, N.Y.: "Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch who lived just North of Whoville did not!" And from the inside: "Window with your stars so bright, won't you light our books tonight?"

Bards Alley, Vienna, Va.: "Our Polar Express window display won the Town of Vienna, VA - Government 2018 Holiday Window Decorating Contest! Of course, our community of authors and book-lovers inspired us. Thank you for helping us ring in the holiday season! A special note of gratitude to Phil Charlwood for creating this magical scene!"

At the Ripped Bodice, Culver City, Calif.

FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, Ga.: "One of our holiday windows!" And: "Our kids’ themed window display!"

Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, Ill.: "Celebrate your local shopping district."

And, finally, a few seasonally appropriate words from the Ripped Bodice, Culver City, Calif.: "And to all a goodnight."

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

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