Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 1, 2019

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


New Owners for San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe

The San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe in Southern California has new owners, the Pasadena Star-News reported. Betty Takeuchi, who founded the bookshop in 1975, had announced in January she was retiring and would be closing the business, but Kelley and Andy Carpiac have come to the rescue and will keep the store going. Plans call for the bookstore to re-open at the same location in April "to allow time for a few cosmetic improvements and to rebuild the stock, all of which was sold off by what had been thought to be the store's last day on February 10."

"It was always the go-to place for families, and it was always there when you needed a gift before a birthday party," said Kelley Carpiac, who moved to San Marino with her husband and three children five years ago.

The Carpiacs were "devastated to hear that the store would be closing in early February. But unlike others, their solution was to buy, re-open and run the store," the Star-News wrote.

In a statement, Takeuchi said, "It's been an honor to serve this community for the past 44 years, but it's time for me to retire. I'm thrilled the store will live on through the Carpiacs.”

"The kids are thrilled, and we're getting lots of recommendations for what to carry from their friends and their friends' parents," Kelley Carpiac said. "Small businesses like San Marino Toy and Book are what give communities their charm and character, and we're thrilled to be a part of that."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Macmillan Restructures Sales Team

Macmillan is restructuring its sales executive management team in order, said Jenn Gonzalez, executive v-p of sales, "to create cohesive sales strategies for our accounts and publishers, to be more responsive to their needs, and to better position us for the continued growth of Macmillan... and changes within the publishing industry."

Among the changes:
Tom Stouras, senior v-p, online digital sales operations and analysis, will now oversee the e-book sales team while continuing to manage the Amazon team and the sales and operations team. Janet Wagner, who provides sales analysis to the sales executive team, will now report to him.

The two major account teams--called "Broadway" and "Fifth Avenue"--are being replaced by a unified trade team that will be headed by John Edwards, who is being promoted to the newly created position of v-p, trade and Canada sales, from senior director, mass merchandise sales, Target and Readerlink. He will be responsible for the adult national accounts teams for Barnes & Noble, BAM, Indigo and Canada as well as the telephone sales team. Now reporting to him are Christine Jaeger, Hank Cochrane, Jeanette Zwart, and Cristina Cushing.

Laura Pennock, v-p, adult mass merchandise sales, will expand her responsibilities to include management of the distribution sales team.

Brian Heller will move from v-p, director of sales, "Fifth Avenue," into the newly created role of v-p, academic, library, wholesale & international. He will assume responsibility for the international sales team and continue oversight of the academic and library marketing teams and the adult wholesale account team.

The special markets team--retail, gifts, corporate, premium and wholesale--is being placed under a single v-p, Alice Baker, who is being promoted to v-p, special markets, premium retail, retail, wholesale.

Ken Holland, v-p, director of field sales, will continue in that role and now report to Gonzalez directly.

As a result of the changes, three positions are being eliminated and the people holding them are leaving the company:

Jeff Capshew, v-p, director of "Broadway" sales, who has been with the company for 23 years. Gonzalez called him "an incredible advocate for our books and our authors; and a great resource for our publishers."

Jaime Ariza, v-p, special markets. Gonzalez said that his "strengths include his ability to recruit top talent, spot unique sales opportunities and advocate on behalf of his customers."

Becky Wik, key account executive for mass merchandise, who has been with the company 21 years. Gonzalez called her "an adept salesperson with creative account promotions and keen ability to sell-in to accounts."

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Gonzalo Ferreyra's Wooden Toy Spacecraft

"As someone who's been in the book business for a long time, it's been a joy to be on the other side," said Gonzalo Ferreyra, director of acquisitions at Ingram Publisher Services and the author of Wooden Toy Spacecraft: Explore the Galaxy & Beyond with 13 Easy-to-Make Woodworking Projects, just published by Spring House Press.

Ferreyra, who first started woodworking about 10 years ago, explained that his book is a modern, updated version of the classic woodworking books focused on making things like planes, trains and automobiles. It features how-to guides for making 13 different wooden starships, all designed by Ferreyra. While some of the models are inspired by classic spaceships from well-known sci-fi universes, others are highly unusual, like the arachnid-shaped "Centurion Scorpion," of which Ferreyra said he is particularly proud.

Gonzalo Ferreyra

"They're inspired by everything I see out there--pop culture, a touch of NASA spaceships," said Ferreyra. At other times he was inspired by the wood itself. "Occasionally I would just pick up a piece of scrap and start to think about how it would look attached to a fuselage."

Each project features detailed, step-by-step instructions, all carefully laid out and complete with photo illustrations taken by Ferreyra in his woodworking shop. Ferreyra reported that when he was first working on the instructions, he found that written descriptions alone weren't quite clear enough, so the photos show exactly what each step should look like. He added that all too often in woodworking, you're given a list of instructions without a clear guide to follow; he hopes to avoid that problem.

The book is intended for an adult woodworker, as some of the techniques and tools required are fairly sophisticated, Ferreyra said. He described himself as a woodworker who focuses mainly on large projects that can take months to complete, and noted that it can be great to "take a break" with a project that may take just a day or a weekend. His goal with Wooden Toy Spacecraft is to provide woodworkers with those sorts of projects and, he added, every project in his book is made out of small pieces--the sorts of scraps an experienced woodworker might have lying around the shop.

After the first few projects, which are a little bit simpler, things get gradually more sophisticated and complicated as Ferreyra rolls in more complex techniques that he uses in furniture making. By the last few projects, he draws on all of them.

When Ferreyra began woodworking about a decade ago, he focused mainly on building home furniture. Specifically, it started with the search for a coffee table. After looking at yet another $1,000 coffee table, he recalled, he told his wife that if they just invest in some tools, he could do it himself. He had always been interested in woodworking but never had the space. Now he finally had the space, and before long he was working his way through the house, building bookcases, tables and desks. Remarked Ferreyra: "As many woodworkers would tell you, it becomes rather addictive."

For a long time, Ferreyra had no intention of transitioning to smaller projects or of writing a book. But at an IPS sales conference back in 2017, while discussing ideas for woodworking books with Spring House Press publisher Paul McGahren, he brought up the idea of a more modern planes, trains and automobiles type of woodworking book. While writing down the idea, McGahren stopped and asked, "Why don't you do it?" After the conference was over, Ferreyra recalled, he went home and started working on concept builds.

"[This project] gave me newfound appreciation for what goes into the making of any book," said Ferreyra. "I loved the process and hope to do it again." --Alex Mutter

Binc, PRH Launch 'Indies with Impact' Grant

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation and Penguin Random House have partnered to launch Indies with Impact, a new grant opportunity open to independent bookstores that is designed "to recognize, support, and strengthen the already robust connections bookstores have with their communities."

The $1,500 grant will be awarded to a bookstore that works in tandem with a community nonprofit or organization of their choice for a program that strengthens their local communities and encourages a passion for reading. Applications will be accepted from today through May 1, and again during this period in 2020. A total of $3,000 will be awarded over the two years.

"We all know the vital role independent bookstores play in our local communities," said Jaci Updike, president of sales for PRH U.S. "Through this new exciting partnership with Binc, we are able to go further in support of the books we publish and the booksellers who sell them, as we strive to enhance community engagement at a grassroots level,"

Bookstores can work with local schools, libraries, or nonprofits. Projects and partnerships should focus strongly on community needs and the bookstore's values and mission. To apply bookstores must meet eligibility in one of these categories: A U.S. retail bricks and mortar store (with a substantial portion of its revenue derived from the sale of books); or a mobile or pop-up bookstore which is open to the general public and maintains an annual average of 30 hours per week with a bookseller present.

Binc executive director Pam French commented: "This unique collaboration with Penguin Random House will give two bookstores the funds to launch fantastic community programs. The review committee is looking forward to reading the wonderful projects booksellers propose."

To find out more about eligibility guidelines and to apply for an Indies with Impact grant, visit Submittable.

S&S Speakers Bureau Moves In-House; Headed by Erin Simpson

Erin Simpson has been named director of the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau. She was formerly agent director at the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau and earlier worked at the HarperCollins Speakers Bureau and the Business Journals division of Advance Publications.

With the appointment and effective April 1, Simon & Schuster is making its speakers bureau, founded in 2008, into an in-house venture, serving all of the company's adult and children's publishing groups and imprints. The speakers bureau has been managed by Greater Talent Network.

Jonathan Karp, president of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, said, "We thank Don Epstein and his outstanding team at Greater Talent for their work on behalf of our author speakers and in establishing the bureau as an ongoing service. With Erin Simpson's appointment, we look forward to providing in-house support for our roster of popular speakers."

Obituary Note: Ron Van Winkle

Ron Van Winkle

Former bookseller and sales rep Ron (Clair Ronald) Van Winkle died February 26. He was 69. In a tribute, his longtime friend John Hall wrote: "You may remember Ron from the book business, first at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, and then at Raymar Books in Bellevue, Wash. in the '70s. He went on to become Avon Books' sales representative in the Pacific Northwest, before being named their national sales manager and moving to New York City in 1979.

After moving back to the Pacific Northwest in 1983, Van Winkle took a position in computer sales and bought a home in Kirkland, Wash., with Hall, where they lived until they separated in the '90s. Van Winkle returned to the book business in 1986 to work for Warner Books as Western regional manager.

"Unfortunately, his position was made 'redundant' by Warner's 'down-sizing' in the late '90s," Hall noted, adding that Van Winkle returned to computer sales until his health forced his retirement in 2010.

Hall wrote that he, along with Van Winkle and his partner Janet Huston, "shared a great friend in Ron Whiteaker, once owner of Beyond the Closet Bookstore in Seattle. He and his husband, Alex Ludecke, became close to Ron and Janet through the past decade or more, and it was from Ron Whiteaker that I received the news of Ron's passing."


Image of the Day: Steinem in San Francisco

Last week, activist/author Gloria Steinem (Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions) appeared at the Castro Theater in San Francisco as part of the Bay Area Book Festival/Women Lit series. Steinem was in conversation with Lauren Schiller, host of Inflection Point on KALW-FM in S.F. and artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez. Pictured: (l.-r.) members of the Women Lit team Dora La Flora Czifra, Haley Kleine, Mina Witteman, Scott Gelfand, Steinem, Cherilyn Parsons, Sabrina Werts, Michelle Pitcher. (photo: Lisa Hornak)

Happy 35th Birthday, Snowbound Books

Congratulations to Snowbound Books, Marquette, Mich., which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The bookstore "started small, devoting the front half of its North Third Street building to used books and the back half to kites when the shop opened in 1984," 9&10 News reported. "Back then, the shop's inventory included 10,000 used books that Snowbound founder and owner Ray Nurmi had collected over the years. Today, three and a half decades later, the store carries over 25,000 new and used books, 'a thoughtfully curated selection of everything from Ancient Egypt to Zombies.' "

Citing "the knowledgeable, personable booksellers who are happy to help their customers," 9&10 News noted that Snowbound "has withstood the test of time through an old-fashioned passion for books.... Over the course of 29 years as owner, Ray built Snowbound from a one-man operation to one of the oldest and most successful bookstores in the Midwest. When Ray decided to retire in 2013, long-time employee Dana Schulz became the new owner and continues the Snowbound tradition for the next generation of readers."

Bookstore Video of the Day: Bookmarks

Jamie Rogers Southern, operations director at Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C., shared an "amazing video some of our teens did that is inspired by Angie Thomas's On the Come Up. One of the kids, Aidan Bryan, is the son of our youth and schools coordinator, Ashley. His hip hop dance group decided to do this on their own and record in our bookstore. Our event for On the Come Up will be March 15. Angie Thomas is not coming, but we are having a book-inspired event about 'finding your voice and expressing yourself.' It is a teen event featuring spoken word performances and dance." (Film credit: Jack McGraw)

Media and Movies

TV: The Baby-Sitters Club

The Baby-Sitters Club "is back," Deadline reported. Netflix has ordered a 10-part live-action family series based on Ann M. Martin's bestselling book series. Rachel Shukert (Glow) is the showrunner, with Broad City's Lucia Aniello directing and exec producing. Martin's books were previously adapted for a 1990 HBO series produced by Scholastic Corporation.

Storylines for the half-hour episodes "will focus on the entrepreneurial girls' ventures and friendships, maneuvering the launch and success of their business while staving off competition and overcoming various growing pains along the way," Deadline wrote. "Episodes will broach topics from the books such as racism, divorce and belonging while continuing to push the bar and explore relevant issues facing modern day teens."

Martin commented: "I'm amazed that there are so many passionate fans of The Baby-Sitters Club after all these years, and I'm honored to continue to hear from readers--now grown, who have become writers, editors, teachers, librarians, filmmakers--who say that they see a reflection of themselves in the characters of Kristy and her friends. So I'm very excited about the forthcoming series on Netflix, which I hope will inspire a new generation of readers and leaders everywhere."

On Stage: Game of Thrones Musical Parody

A clip has been released for Tyrell, a musical parody prequel to HBO's hit series Game of Thrones that is receiving a workshop presentation March 18 at Dixon Place in New York City. Playbill reported that the project, written by composer-librettist Alex Ratner, features two-time Tony nominee Alison Fraser (The Secret Garden, Romance/Romance) as Olenna Tyrell, Kerstin Anderson (My Fair Lady) as Margaery Tyrell, and Chris Dwan (Finding Neverland) as Loras Tyrell.

Jenny Leon directs "the untold story of Olenna, Loras, and Margaery Tyrell before the series begins. Of all the Great Houses of Westeros, House Tyrell is the only one led by a woman, Olenna Tyrell, who is busy grooming her grandchildren Loras and Margaery for greatness. Commenting on Margaery's objectification, Loras's double life as the closeted 'Knight of Flowers' and Olenna's role as resident battle-ax grandma, Tyrell imagines what these secondary characters were thinking all along. Welcome to Highgarden, oasis of female leadership and sexual tolerance within a not-too-distant medieval patriarchy."

Books & Authors

Awards: Slightly Foxed First Biography; Penderyn Music Book

Bart van Es won the £2,500 (about $3,315) Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for The Cut Out Girl, the Bookseller reported. The award is presented by Slightly Foxed and the Biographers' Club.

Anne Chisholm, who judged the prize with Rachel Cooke and Andre O'Hagan, said the winning title "was chosen unanimously but not without passionate debate. This book, with its delicate interweaving of history, family memoir and personal encounters, succeeds in conveying the harsh reality of holocaust survival through one young girl's experience, in occupied Holland, of the extremes--good as well as evil--of which ordinary people are capable."


A shortlist has been unveiled for the 2019 Penderyn Music Book Prize, the Bookseller reported. The winner, who will be announced April 7 at the Laugharne Weekend Arts Festival, receives £1,000 (about $1,325) and a bottle of Penderyn single cask whisky. This year's shortlisted titles are:

All in the Downs: Reflections on Life, Landscape and Song by Shirley Collins
Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson
Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond & Adam Horowitz
Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime by Dan Hancox
Going for a Song: A Chronicle of the U.K. Record Shop by Garth Cartwright

Reading with... Andrés Cerpa

Andrés Cerpa is the author of the poetry collection Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy (Alice James Books, January 15, 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the McDowell Colony and Canto Mundo, his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poem-A-Day, the Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, Frontier Poetry, West Branch, Foundry Journal, Wildness and elsewhere.

On your nightstand now:

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao and Moon Woke Me Up Nine Times, selected poems of Bashō, translated by David Young.

In different ways these books pay attention to the world and are able to articulate that attention with precision. In so many of Rao's sentences I find myself on the other side of a trap door, surprised, fearful and in awe of the world I've been given.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My parents bought me a set of abridged classics for children. The set was wonderful, I had access to these grand and beautiful stories. I particularly loved my small A Tale of Two Cities.

Your top five authors:

Larry Levis
Franz Wright
James Wright
Elizabeth Bishop
Jack Gilbert

Book you've faked reading:

To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm sorry.

Book you're an evangelist for:

domina Un/blued by Ruth Ellen Kocher! I simply have never read a book like it. Kocher is absolutely brilliant, the depths of history and feeling that exist in those pages, and the language she forms to hold them, is remarkable and important. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

The End by Fernanda Torres and Lighthead by Terrance Hayes.

Book you hid from your parents:

My own.

Book that changed your life:

The Selected Larry Levis. My first poetry teacher, Jeanne Murray Walker, gave me the book as a gift during my senior year of college. Since, Levis's work has nourished me in myriad ways. Not only was I astonished by the expansive imagination in the poems, I was, and continue to be, fascinated by Levis's development from book to book. I continually study his trajectory in an effort to move myself forward as a writer, poem by poem, book by book.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm going to cheat a bit on this question. My favorite lines are from the dedication page of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which is addressed to his friend Pascal "Pat" Covici:

"Well, here's your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts--the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation. And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you. And still, the box is not full."

Five books you'll never part with:

Walking to Martha's Vineyard by Franz Wright. After my father died this was the book I turned to. I am eternally grateful for its presence in my life.

The Selected Larry Levis.

The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos. I read this on my grandparents' hammock in Puerto Rico. I remember thinking, there is so much life in this book, it holds a world.

Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop builds a book that is at once absolutely clear and deeply mysterious in its construction.

Moments of the Italian Summer by James Wright. This book gives me hope for the future and fills me with gratitude.

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

Shall We Gather at the River by James Wright.

The most important books you teach:

These are the works that blow my college students away and have fed their writing and thinking in wonderful ways.

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker, Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Virgin by Analicia Sotelo, We the Animals by Justin Torres, Look by Solmaz Sharif.

Book Review

Review: White Elephant

White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf (Ecco, $26.99 hardcover, 320p., 9780062857750, March 26, 2019)

Willard Park is a perfect little suburb in Maryland--just ask Allison Miller, a photographer and Willard Park resident working on a book titled Willard Park: An American Dream. She plans to "fill it with photos of the town interspersed with Willard Park's history and facts about the architectural styles and the oddities.... She imagine[s] a well-designed and informative book meant not only for residents, but for anyone who want[s] evidence that idyllic towns still exist in America." Residents keep their mugs at the town café to avoid using paper cups, have a snowman-building contest after the first snowfall, and hand out healthy alternatives to candy for Halloween, such as "carrot packs, stickers and pencils." The sleepy little town is "a mixture of colors and nationalities, religions and sexual orientations"; it's quaint and quiet and community-oriented. Until Nick and Kaye Cox move in.

Nick is a builder who lives next door to the Millers. His idea of utopia is big, expensive and showy. He drives a gold SUV, lives in a faux stone castle and throws big, loud parties. "The Coxes were like foreign visitors who had not read up on the local customs." Allison tries to like the Cox home with "two Ionic columns looking fabulously out of place on the porch, two stone lions the size of ponies, towers painted gold." But she just can't; in her eyes, it's gaudy. In addition to his own home, Nick is building another large mansion in Willard Park. Allison's husband, Ted, christened it the White Elephant due to its large size, color and the fact that it's been on the market for months. Nick tore down a century-old Sears home to make room for the monstrosity, which did not make him any friends in town. Still, he has his eyes on other properties to buy, demolish and build bigger and better.

The Millers begrudgingly tolerate the Cox family eyesore and the constant barrage of noise until Nick cuts down their red maple tree, a tree they planted the day their daughter Jillian was born. With the demise of Jillian's tree, Ted throws down the proverbial gauntlet. This means war.

Julie Langsdorf's debut novel slams two conflicting ideas of the American Dream smack into each other with both wit and wisdom. Through the clever use of stereotypes--tree huggers, working mothers, popular teens, even drug-addicted lawyers--she examines themes of community and inclusion, delves into the complexities of individuals and their relationships and satirizes the idea of the perfect little town. Readers will likely identify with elements of Langsdorf's outlandish characters--their good intentions, ambition, frustrations, secret desires--while simultaneously laughing along with her at their oddities--mammogram paintings? The dialogue is sharp and a mystery subplot adds a dash of suspense. Entertainment at its best, White Elephant earns a shiny, gold star. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: A small, quiet suburb turns into a war zone when a developer and his family move in with big, booming ideas that don't sit well with the rest of the community.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Big Question--What's Your 'Next Book'

As someone who reads for a living, how do you choose what to read next? This is the third column addressing what I've come to think of as the Big Question (see earlier conversations here and here). I'm fascinated by the considerable thought and range of strategies indie booksellers put into their decision-making process as readers.

Nicole Magistro

Describing herself as "ambitious and idealistic" when it comes to choosing what to read next, Nicole Magistro of the Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colo., said, "A rep woos me, and the galley goes in my bag. An author I've admired issues a new edition, the book finds its way home. An Edelweiss mark-up makes the book sound like it was written exactly with me in mind, I request a galley. My passion is literary fiction, particularly if the novel is a debut. I also love to read Colorado authors, books written by authors whom I've met before, nature, thoughtful narrative nonfiction and children's literature with humor and excellent vocabulary."

Magistro stacks TBR titles on the front edge of a bookcase in her home, while a "short list of titles to be sampled immediately ends up in a stack next to my bed (and as a rule, there should be no more than 10). In a constant state of reorganization, I move the books from bottom to top, down the pile, back to the bookcase for less urgent reading. What books are buzzing? Who said what about it? Which will be my personal gems that no one else is talking about yet? I download the audio if I feel a special sense of immediacy. And if I'm still stuck on what to start next, I pick based on release date. What can I sell tomorrow?"

Like many of us, she normally gives a book 50 pages before moving on. If she decides to finish a book, she does so before picking up something else. "My maximum input is one in print, one out aloud (typically kids), and one to be read to me (I love Any more and I lose interest in everything. I love getting into a flurry. It's ideal for me to have three 4-hour reads stacked in order, to be read back to back. Less than 300 pages is a major factor for getting into my lineup."

For backlist titles, "which I adore but seem only to be able to tackle when it's short," Magistro said that "having a young reader at home has forced me to read backlist in a way I haven't yet figured out how to do with books for grownups."

Valerie Koehler

Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., described her "next book" strategy as a blend of the instinctive and systematic: "Since I do all the frontlist buying for the shop, sometimes it's a process in order to gauge interest for my customers. I met with a rep recently who wondered why I bought six copies of a relatively unknown novel from Australia. It was presented at rep picks in Albuquerque and I thought this might be a good fit for my core customer base. (It is!)  If I receive a nice handwritten note by an editor/author/friend, I am more inclined to pick up an ARC and give it a try. Sometimes I need a 'palate cleanser' after a particularly tough book. Let's face it, I love reading all genres."

To make time for older books and rereading, Koehler noted that "if there is a book that intrigued me when it first came out but I have not read it, there's a good chance it will be chosen for one of the two shop book clubs when the paperback releases. Then I'm obligated to read it.... I have started compiling a list in my head for authors and books I want to read when I am on my front porch reading and retired from the shop. As for rereading, rarely do I get to go back. Poetry would be the only rereading pleasure I enjoy. From my friendship with John Evans and Jonathan Welch, I have been introduced to so many wonderful poets.... I now have many wonderful collections from which I read a few every morning."

Allison Hill

Allison Hill of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., recalled that several years ago, she had written a piece in which she "notoriously said... that I select books based on the last word of the book. I love turning to that final moment in a book before I even start and, superstitiously perhaps, weigh that final note to determine whether to read it. I feel a little guilty about that! It’s hard enough for an author to come up with a great ending without also worrying about the perfect make or break last word."

Generally, however, Hill described her reading selection technique as being "like a pinball machine--a galley comes in the mail--ding; a bookseller recommends a book they just finished--ding; my husband is reading an interesting book--ding; a rep tells me about a debut by an L.A. author--ding; a friend writes a book--ding; I walk by my own bookshelf and notice a book that I’ve always meant to read; my step-daughter’s school reading list reminds me of a classic I missed; and on and on. Then there’s the grand luxury of my job of just wandering downstairs to the business section or inspiration section to see what serendipitously catches my eye on any particular day. And the ball just keeps bouncing around with bells reminding me that there are so many books and so little time...."

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

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