Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 28, 2019


Little Brown and Company: Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Other Press: Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

imon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Becoming Rbg: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner

Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Second Edition, Revised) by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Magination Press: Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, illustrated by MacKenzie Haley

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

News

Wi14: It's a Delightful Wrap

With a busy closing reception, the 14th Winter Institute ended Friday evening after four days of panels, keynotes, meetings, receptions, parties, dinners and more that were a wonderful mix of invigorating, informative, challenging and entertaining. And, of course, outside the official schedule, the 700 enthusiastic bookseller attendees spent much of the time talking shop, trading tips on good ideas, venting, catching up, and making new friends, who, based on past experience at Winter Institutes, will remain friends for a very long time.

The 200-plus booksellers attending Winter Institute for the first time added even more energy to the mix. Several longtime bookstore owners said that the newer staff members they sent were overjoyed to have participated. There was some concern that the slow increase in bookseller attendees over the past few years might make Winter Institute lose some of its intimate feel, but that seemed unfounded.

In fact, as ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented: "The extraordinarily energy and passion manifest in Albuquerque these past few days was palpable. From multiple conversations with both 30-year-plus bookselling veterans to first-time attendees, Wi14 was jammed full of memorable examples of the growth and vitality of indie bookselling. For some years now, we've talked about a new generation of booksellers coming into our ranks and these past few days in Albuquerque we've seen just how true that is. At ABA, we are going to take all this energy and vision and apply it to everything we do on behalf of indie bookselling, including our planning for Wi15... which starts now."

Once again, the ABA staff outdid themselves, presenting a full program that addressed the issues of the day as well as nuts and bolts matters--and staging a smoothly running event. Among the highlights: Margaret Atwood in conversation with Erin Morgenstern; Hanif Abdurraqib on the power of reading, books and bookstores; Reshma Saujani on being brave, not perfect; a town meeting that touched on a range of issues; and panels that focused on diversity, dealing with political and cultural tensions on staff, and promoting pre-orders, among many other subjects. And with more than 150 authors in attendance, booksellers learned all about upcoming titles.

One unofficial subject that wound through so many presentations and conversations: the strength of independent bookstores, which despite many challenges continue to innovate and expand and connect with customers--and see rising sales.

Albuquerque was an unintentionally timely setting: the rich cultural setting emphasized that this country is a mosaic and that bridges, not walls, are the kinds of structures that should be built.

As always, we'd like to send deep thanks to Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in south Florida and the Cayman Islands, who, during his term as ABA president, suggested holding a winter meeting of booksellers.

Shelf reporters were kept busy by the full program; coverage of Winter Institute will continue this week and next. We're looking forward to seeing many of you next January, when the 15th Winter Institute will be held in Baltimore, Md.!


Starscape Books: Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby


Wi14: Notes from the Floor

At Collected Works' Wi14 party: Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, owner Dorothy Massey and Councilor Signe Lindell.

Bookstores near the sites of Winter Institutes usually welcome visiting booksellers, particularly during the bookstore bus tours on the day before the official program starts. This year, special credit is due to Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Santa Fe, which went all out for more than 100 attendees who took busman's holidays last Tuesday to the store, about an hour north of Albuquerque.

Owner Dorothy Massey spent several months planning, persuading the city to provide free bus transportation to several sights in Santa Fe, devising walking tours, obtaining discounts from other retailers, preparing goody bags, getting Mayor Alan Webber to appear and welcome booksellers, and hosting a reception for booksellers to meet local authors. Our hats are off to her!

 

Denise Chávez with some of the Wi14 donations.

During Wi14, Denise Chávez of Casa Camino Real Bookstore, Las Cruces, N.Mex., led a refugee book drive to benefit parents and children from Central America and Mexico that is being administered by Border Servant Corps. Booksellers in attendance brought Spanish-language books to her spot next to the registration desk. Although those books were picked up on Saturday, booksellers can continue to donate by sending Spanish-language titles to Chávez at Casa Camino Real, 314 S. Tornillo St., Las Cruces, NM 88001. Check out suggested titles here.

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With Nancy Rohlen front and center, the Ingram crew watches Jeopardy.

In an unusual side attraction, some Ingram staffers gathered on Thursday night at the Doubletree bar in Albuquerque to cheer on their colleague Nancy Rohlen, wholesale sales manager, who competed on Jeopardy! that evening (in a taped episode). As IngramSpark director Robin Cutler said, "She made us all proud with her humor, poise and smarts!"

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At Winter Institute, Publishers Weekly announced its finalists for the bookstore and rep of the year:

Bookstore:

  • A Likely Story, Sykesville, Md.
  • Classic Lines Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • hello hello books, Rockland, Maine
  • Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan.

Rep:

  • Colleen Conway of PRH/Penguin Young Readers
  • Judy DeBerry of Hachette Book Group
  • Cindy Heidemann of PGW/Two Rivers
  • Kurtis Lowe of Book Travelers West
  • Patricia Nelson of University Press Sales Associates: The MIT Press, Princeton University Press and Yale University Press

GLOW: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BFYR: The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski


Hannah Oliver Depp New Owner of Upshur Street Books

Hannah Oliver Depp

Hannah Oliver Depp, who for the past two months has been managing partner of Upshur Street Books, in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C., is buying the store from founder and owner Paul Ruppert, remodeling it and renaming it Loyalty Bookstore, according to Petworth News. Ruppert said, "I see this as a leap forward for the bookstore."

Depp and Ruppert had run a holiday pop-up store in Silver Spring, Md., called Loyalty Bookstore, which closed yesterday. Depp plans to bring the approach she used at the pop-up to Upshur Street Books, which closed a week ago and will reopen next weekend. (She aims to find a permanent space in Silver Spring.)

"We'll focus on children's books, diverse and intersectional fiction and nonfiction, and host book clubs, readings, and work closely with the Petworth Citizen Reading Room to provide more unique programs and build upon their successful literary cocktails," Depp told Petworth News, which added that the new owner "said she wants to offer a more hands-on approach to the interior's layout, moving away from the wall shelves toward more display tables designed to offer a 'please touch' vibe. There will be chairs for customers to spend time reading, and offering book groups a comfortable place to gather and enjoy some wine from the Reading Room while they talk. Also look for a new membership benefits program from the bookstore a few months after they open."

Ruppert, a local entrepreneur who is also the backer of Petworth Citizen, the bar and reading room; Crane & Turtle, a restaurant; and the Warehouse Theatre, a multi-purpose arts complex for theater, music, film and visual arts, opened Upshur Street Books in 2014. A year later, the store was in the national news when on Small Business Saturday 2015, President Obama and his daughters shopped at the store.

Depp has worked at Politics & Prose in Washington and WORD in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J. She is a member of the board of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, a founding member of Indies Forward, and a member of the American Booksellers Association's committee on diversity.


Blue Rider Press:  One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten


San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe Closing

The San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe in Southern California is closing next month. On its website, the store wrote, in part, "After nearly 44 years of retail in San Marino, owner Betty Takeuchi is retiring to enjoy more time with her family.

"Over the past four decades, we have been honored to be San Gabriel Valley's shopping destination for toys, books and gifts for children of all ages. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to become friends with thousands of customers, including parents, teachers and librarians, while helping to build generations of dedicated readers and avid toy fans.

"This has been an amazing journey and we sincerely thank you for your patronage and support. It is our honor to have been a part of the community and you will be missed."

Takeuchi, who founded the store in 1975, was president of the Association of Booksellers for Children from 1987 to 1991.


 Peachtree Publishing Company: Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (Revised) by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinso


Obituary Note: Gail Browning

Gail Browning, who retired in 2003 as v-p and divisional sales director of Random House, died on January 19. She was 80.

Jaci Updike, president of U.S. sales, Penguin Random House, remembered Browning as "a beloved mentor to many of us, and while her actual territorial responsibility was the Western states, we liked to joke that she was the boss of us all.

"I am one of the many who loved working for Gail. She hired me as a California sales rep thirty years ago this month, to replace Don Weisberg. She taught me how my job ought to be done, for which I owe her so much.

"Joining the company in 1979, Gail was a divisional director for Bantam Doubleday Dell and then Random House, but she was so much more than that. She was a fierce advocate for the books, their authors, and booksellers she loved. Countless bestsellers began with Gail reading an early manuscript, and then championing her discovery to the sales team and to the booksellers, who loved her just as much as we did.

"Gail was a trusted and valued advisor to senior sales management--she helped guide the company through tumultuous shifts in the marketplace, and played a key role in building and nurturing the retail sales team after the merger with Random House and BDD.

"Gail's leadership style combined tremendous warmth and deep wisdom, and for many of us, she became the touchstone we turned to when facing a big decision, in both work and life. When she retired in 2003, she left a better, stronger organization, filled with colleagues who were wiser for having worked with her. Her legacy will continue in the culture she helped create. She will be much missed."


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Notes

Cool Idea of the Day: Tattered Cover's 'Audible Amnesty'

In a Friday e-mail, Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., promoted libro.fm as an alternative for the store's customers who use Audible, an Amazon subsidiary, for downloadable audio. "Audible does a very good job at what they do, and until recently, we were unable to offer a viable alternative," the store wrote. "It pained us that we couldn't meet our customers audiobook needs beyond CDs, and that Amazon (and to a lesser extent Apple's iTunes) was the only game in town. (Well, actually, not in town at all. Far, far out of town.)"

Tattered Cover is touting libro.fm's offer to any new member: three free audiobooks with a $14.99-per-month membership. "While this offer is open to anyone, we're specifically writing today to the Tattered Cover customer who is also an Audible subscriber. We encourage you to give Libro a try. We think you'll be every bit as happy as you are with Audible, you'll be supporting TC, and keeping at least some of the money in our community. Think of it as a kind of Audible Amnesty."


Icelandic Cat Spends Night in a Bookstore, Elicits Sympathy

"A cat spotted staring pensively out from behind the locked glass doors" of Eymundsson bookstore in Hafnarfa, Iceland, "sparked an investigation which revealed more about the colorful life of the creature," the Reykjavík Grapevine reported.

The excitement began when someone spotted the cat in the bookshop's window around 11 p.m. and posted a notice on the Facebook group Kattavaktin. The "initial post (probably jokingly) says the cat had broken into the store," the Grapevine wrote. "From there, the speculations began. One commenter wondered if this was some kind of watchcat guarding the store. Others remarked that this was no cause for concern, as it is warm inside the store yet very cold outside, although some wondered about the state of the anti-burglary system in the store."

Eventually it was discovered that the cat is not only a bookshop regular, but also often stops at Litla Gæludýrabúðin, a nearby pet supply shop.


Personnel Changes at Porter Square Books; Viking/Penguin

At Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.:

Leila Meglio has joined Porter Square Books as events manager. Most recently, Meglio was a publicity associate at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Sarah Rettger, formerly events manager, has become inventory manager.

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Maya Baran has joined the Viking/Penguin publicity department as publicity manager. She has more than 25 years of experience in book publicity, having worked at Simon & Schuster, Norton, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Walker & Co. and Bloomsbury. After taking time off to raise her family and freelance, she is returning to publishing full-time. Most recently she assisted Broadside PR and The Countryman Press/Norton.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Will Hunt on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Will Hunt, author of Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780812996746).

The View: Cliff Sims, author of Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House (Thomas Dunne, $29.99, 9781250223890). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Tomorrow:
NPR's All Things Considered: Alicia D. Williams, author of Genesis Begins Again (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, $17.99, 9781481465809).

The View: Howard Schultz, author of From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America (Random House, $28, 9780525509448).

Rachael Ray: Kevin Curry, author of Fit Men Cook: 100+ Meal Prep Recipes for Men and Women (Touchstone, $29.99, 9781501178726).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Chris Christie, author of Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics (Hachette Books, $28, 9780316421799).


Movies: Native Son

HBO Films acquired Native Son, the film adaptation of Richard Wright's classic novel, in advance of its Sundance Film Festival premiere last Thursday. Variety reported that the news was surprising because the movie "entered the festival with theatrical distribution. It was going to be released by A24. Instead, Native Son will debut on the premium cable channel at some point in 2019."

Native Son is visual artist Rashid Johnson's filmmaking debut and was written for the screen by Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. The cast includes Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, KiKi Layne, Elizabeth Marvel, David Alan Grier and Bill Camp. Bow + Arrow Entertainment financed and produced the movie.



Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Medal; DSC Prize for South Asian Literature; GLLI Translated YA Book

The winners of the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are:

Fiction: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (Viking). The judges commented: "Makkai's ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings--World War I-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago--while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic."

Nonfiction: Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (Scribner). "In his artfully crafted and boldly revealing memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing."

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No Presents Please, originally written in Kannada by Jayant Kaikini and translated into English by Tejaswini Niranjana, won the $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which recognizes the "best work in South Asian fiction writing each year." Organizers said the prize "has always encouraged writing in regional languages and translations, and this is the first time that a translated work has won the prize." The money is shared equally between author and translator.

Jury chair Rudrangshu Mukherjee said the jury was "deeply impressed by the quiet voice of the author through which he presented vignettes of life in Mumbai and made the city the protagonist of a coherent narrative. The Mumbai that came across through the pen of Kaikini was the city of ordinary people who inhabit the bustling metropolis. It is a view from the margins and all the more poignant because of it. This is the first time that this award is being given to a translated work and the jury would like to recognize the outstanding contribution of Tejaswini Niranjana, the translator."

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My Brother's Husband: Vol. 1 & 2, by Gengoroh Tagame, translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii (Pantheon Books) has won the inaugural GLLI Translated YA Book Prize. Administered by the Global Literatures in Libraries Initiative, the prize recognizes publishers, translators, and authors of books in English translation for young adult readers.

The Initiative called My Brother's Husband "manga that gently but effectively guts homophobia in Japanese society. When Mike, the Canadian husband of Yaichi's late brother shows up on his doorstep, Yaichi is courteous but standoffish, while his young daughter Kana is thrilled to meet her gay uncle." Committee member Annette Y. Goldsmith added: "The committee loved this sweet, nuanced story of coming to terms with one's own prejudices and embracing a truly modern family."

Three honor books were also selected:

  • La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel (Feminist Press). The author is from Equatorial Guinea.
  • Piglettes by Clémentine Beauvais, translated from the French by the author (Pushkin Children's Books). France.
  • Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translated from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg (Flatiron Books). Sweden.

Midwest Connections February Picks

From the Midwest Booksellers Association, Midwest Connections Picks for February. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal.

We're All in This Together by Amy Jones (McClelland & Stewart, $15, 9780771050657). "Like all families, the Parkers of Thunder Bay have had their share of complications. Set over the course of four calamitous days that culminate in a road trip to Duluth, Minnesota, Amy Jones's big-hearted, bestselling novel follows the Parkers as catastrophe forces them to do something they never thought possible--act like a family."

The Current: A Novel by Tim Johnston (Algonquin, $27.95, 9781616206772). "In the dead of winter, state troopers pull two young women from the Black Root River--one dead, one alive. What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community's memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them."

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing As We Age by Mary Pipher (Bloomsbury, $27, 9781632869609). "Women growing older contend with ageism, misogyny, and loss, but their struggles can help them grow into the authentic, empathetic, and wise people they have always wanted to be. Drawing on her own experiences, Mary Pipher explores ways women can cultivate resilient responses to the challenges they face."

Bim, Bam, Bop . . . and Oona by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Larry Day (University of Minnesota Press, $16.95, 9781517903954). "When these ducks go to the pond, it is Bim, Bam, Bop . . . and Oona, always last. Spunky Oona will inspire and delight all who see her final triumphant creation. A tale about being true to yourself, building confidence, and finding friendship, Bim, Bam, Bop . . . and Oona is sure to bring smiles to readers and listeners of all ages."


Book Review

Review: The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury, $32 hardcover, 848p., 9781635570298, February 26, 2019)

Samantha Shannon's (The Bone Season) standalone epic fantasy artfully blends Eastern and Western draconic mythologies and shines a heroic spotlight on women and same-sex couples.

A thousand years earlier, the world nearly ended in dragonfire. Now, in the Western queendom of Virtudom, the national religion holds that as long as a queen descended from dragon-slaying Saint Galian Berethnet holds the throne, the monstrous dragon known as the Nameless One cannot return to lead his plague-sowing minions. To the South lies the secret Priory of the Orange Tree, where female mages train to slay dragons and know the legend of the Saint for a half-truth at most. One of their order, the fierce and pragmatic Ead, has spent nearly a decade undercover in Virtudom as a handmaid to Sabran IX, the imperious but vulnerable young queen. Ead picks off assassins and works in the shadows to unmask Sabran's enemies, but she has no defenses against the surprising effect Sabran has on her heart.

Far in the East, where humans worship benevolent water-dwelling dragons as gods, dragonrider candidate Tané helps a stranded outsider hide from the authorities. After a grueling round of trials, Tané's dreams come true when she is selected by the great dragon Nayimathun, but her decision to help the outsider sets a disaster in motion.

As the lieutenants of the Nameless One begin to show themselves, the legend that Berethen queens can keep him at bay falls apart. The nations must stand together, but when the East believes the West is filled with dragon-hating plague vectors, and the Westerners call Easterners heretics, Ead, Sabran, Tané and their friends have little chance of brokering peace.

The Priory of the Orange Tree isn't our grandfathers' epic fantasy novel. It is a clever combination of Elizabethan England, the legend of St. George and Eastern dragon lore, with a dash of Tolkien. Shannon's feminist saga has enough detailed world-building, breath-taking action and sweeping romance to remind epic fantasy readers of why they love the genre in the first place. Modern sensibilities integrate seamlessly with genre tropes; same-sex marriage is an accepted fact of life, for example, but marrying across class boundaries brings scandal. Occasionally political exposition bogs down the pacing, but the inclusion of giant talking mongooses and brilliant female warriors more than makes up for that. The major story draws to a definite close, but much work remains for the characters at the conclusion. Readers will beg for a sequel that explores more of this mythos-rich setting from dragon-back. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This epic fantasy--Samantha Shannon's first standalone novel--takes place in a women-led world of dragons and mage-craft.


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