Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 29, 2019

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


For Sale: Branches Books & Gifts in Oakhurst, Calif.

Anne Driscoll, owner of Branches Books & Gifts, Oakhurst, Calif., "has decided to start a new chapter in life" and is putting her bookshop on the market after spending a year agonizing over the decision to sell, SierraNewsOnline reported.

"I just want to make it really clear to people that I'm not closing the store," said Driscoll, who opened Branches in 2013. "I don't want people around the community freaking out.... This has probably been the most exciting chapter in my life. When I was small I was obsessed with books, libraries, bookstores."

Driscoll's inspiration to open Branches came after Willow Bridge Books closed in 2012 and she "couldn't stand" the idea of Oakhurst without a bookstore. "So I got a business plan together and decided to make my dream come true," she recalled.

Noting that she has already been approached by at least one "very serious" potential local buyer, Driscoll said, "My plan right now is to continue on with business as usual and events as planned while we search for the perfect person to take the reins of our beloved shop."

In a letter sent to customers this week, she wrote: "All it takes is someone who is passionate about books and all that they represent, who genuinely loves people and wants to be of service, and who has good judgment and a good sense of what it takes to operate a retail business. The reason that we're contacting you directly is that we know how much you care about the Branches, and perhaps might know someone--even a family member ready for a change of pace--who would enjoy being the owner of our community's center for literary culture."

For more information, contact Driscoll at or call 559-641-2019.

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!

The Book Shelf in N.C. Drops Sale Price

Penny Padgett, owner of The Book Shelf in Tryon, N.C., has lowered the purchase price of her store to $70,000, which includes all inventory, fixtures, furniture, vendor accounts and more. In a post on the store's Facebook page Padgett explained that since putting the store up for sale in September 2018, she has received some serious inquiries but no offers. The reduction in price serves as a way to encourage potential buyers and, Padgett said, as the store's last notice of sale.

"There are some exciting possibilities for this store, including the creation of a reading, knitting and/or meeting room and even establishing it as a co-op," wrote Padgett. "This is a wonderful opportunity for a unique business with a long history here in Tryon."

Padgett purchased the store in July 2010 from Betsy Goree. The Book Shelf originally opened in 1952 and carries a selection of new and used books for children, teens and adults. Padgett said she is selling the store now due to "major changes" coming in her life and the need "to be able to devote a good portion of my time to other ventures." In the years ahead, she hopes to continue her association with the store but as a customer and not the owner.

"For the past eight years I have been privileged to be a part of the downtown Tryon business scene," continued Padgett. "I have learned a lot about being a small business owner and I have met a lot of great folks and made many new friends of the readers who live in this area. It has truly been a labor of love."

Padgett can be reached either at 828-859-9304 or at

Kelly's Books in Calif. Launches Fundraising Campaign

Kelly Pleskunas , owner of Kelly's Books in Watsonville, Calif., "is fighting to keep her store open after lackluster Christmas sales have made it hard to pay her suppliers" and has asked for community help through a GoFundMe campaign. The Register-Pajaronian reported that shoppers know Pleskunas "creates an atmosphere in which customers are greeted as friends, and canine companions are not only welcome, but can expect dog treats doled out from a box kept behind the counter."

"I don't ever ask for help, but I figure people might be a little surprised if I just closed," she said. "I need some help. I'm determined to keep this little store open."

This isn't the first time she has faced a challenge. In 2016, Pleskunas closed 23-year-old Crossroads Books "after she and seven other businesses were evicted to make way for the Kaiser Permanente complex," the Register-Pajaronian wrote. She reopened seven months later in the Watsonville Square shopping center.

Pleskunas has already raised more than 75% of her $7,500 goal. "I can't thank the donors and the people who continue to support me enough," she said. "It makes me happy to have a bookstore in such a great community."

Fla. B&N Store Saved by Kids Is Relocating

B&N's current Daytona store

Barnes & Noble is relocating its store in Daytona Beach, Fla., a year and a half after local elementary school students persuaded the company's then CEO Demos Parneros to renew the lease on a location that had been marked for closure. The News-Journal reported that B&N will close its longtime store at 1900 W. International Speedway Blvd. April 16 and reopen the next morning at Tomoka Town Centeras as one of the chain's smaller, 15,000-square-foot retail footprint "prototype" stores .

"We are excited to be opening one of our new prototype stores in the Daytona Beach community," said B&N spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating, adding that the new space "will feature exciting new offerings that we will announce closer to the opening."

Keating added that "many of our booksellers at the existing location... are making the move to the new location... and we are also actively seeking new employees."

Tomoka Town Center developer Jeff Preston of North American Development Group said B&N "will be a great draw. They have a great local following that pushed hard for them to locate in our project."

Pannell Winners: 57th Street Books, Hicklebee's Bookstore

Winners have been announced for the 2019 Pannell Awards, given by the Women's National Book Association and co-sponsored by the Penguin Young Readers Group to recognize bookstores that "enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading and books in children and young adults." One Pannell Award is given to a general bookstore and one to a children's specialty bookstore.

The winner in the general bookstore category is 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.

The children's specialty bookstore winner is Hicklebee's Bookstore, San Jose, Calif.

The Pannell Awards will be presented May 31 during the BookExpo Children's Books and Author Breakfast. Each of the two winners receives a $1,000 check and a signed, original piece of artwork by a children's illustrator.

Literati Bookstore of the Year; Heidemann Rep of the Year

Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been named PW's Bookstore of the Year. Literati opened in 2013. As they celebrated the store's fifth anniversary last April, co-owners Hilary and Michael Gustafson posted on Facebook: "When we opened Literati we knew the importance of bookstores in our own lives and hoped to continue the long tradition of bookselling in Ann Arbor. We wanted to foster the idea that bookstores are places where people gather, where people discover new ideas, attend readings of an author they've never heard about before, and where people can surprise themselves. These ideas of community, curiosity, and a craving to interact with real people at a real bookstore are not new, and they did not begin here at Literati, but we feel incredibly lucky to work every day to keep them alive."

Cindy Heidemann

This year's PW Rep of the Year is Cindy Heidemann, a PGW and Two Rivers sales representative in the Northwest. She began her book career at the University of Oregon Bookstore before becoming a commission rep for Redsides Pub Services. In 2003 she joined PGW.

Obituary Note: John DeMarco

John DeMarco, who had owned and operated Lyrical Ballad Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., since 1971 with his wife, Janice, died March 26. He was 70. The Daily Gazette reported that "the shop was a favorite spot for fans of old, used and rare books, with just a limited selection of new books of local interest.... DeMarco carved a niche for Lyrical Ballad that allowed it to survive the competition of large corporate retailers like Borders and the advent of digital media but still welcome the arrival of another independent bookseller, Northshire. The two had different markets, and would refer customers to each other."

Northshire Bookstore owner Chris Morrow recalled that he met DeMarco in 2012 when the Northshire, based in Manchester Center, Vt., was considering adding a second location, in Saratoga Springs. DeMarco served as a consultant to Northshire, which eventually opened a successful location on Broadway.

"He was incredibly gracious and helpful," Morrow said. "He was a true book person. It was his life and he was very good at it. Most importantly, he was a great human being."

Mayor Meg Kelly observed: "It's a sad day for Saratoga Springs. Lyrical Ballad outlived most of the big box stores and really was the foundation for much of the revitalization of Saratoga Springs. His store survived it all due to the strength of his personality."

Yaddo, the renowned artists' colony, posted on its Facebook page: "We were saddened to hear about the loss of our friend John DeMarco, who passed away yesterday. He and his wife, Jan, owners of Lyrical Ballad Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, have been great supporters of Yaddo. In 1971, they started Lyrical Ballad and have since built it up to be 4,800 sq. ft. of bibliophile heaven. John often helped us with books and was always kind and generous with Yaddo artists. He will be missed!"


Rachel Kempster Barry New Director of Morristown Festival of Books

Rachel Kempster Barry

Rachel Kempster Barry has been named director of the Morristown Festival of Books, which will be held this year October 11-12 in Morristown, N.J.

"As we approach the sixth year of the Morristown Festival of Books," Festival co-chair Laurie Siegel said, "we are ready to professionalize our leadership and bring on a talent like Rachel to leverage the amazing work done by over 100 volunteers."

Founder and co-chair Linda Hellstrom added, "Rachel brings to our Festival proven leadership experience, contemporary management skills and a passion for our mission. She is the perfect fit for this role."

Barry has 20 years of experience in the book world, including as a bookseller at Book Revue, Huntington Station, N.Y.; v-p of marketing and publicity for DK Books/PRH; and head of a marketing firm, Tuesday Magic. She is co-author of several books, including The Happy Book and This Book Is About You, and is a Madison (N.J.) Library trustee.

'Dallas-Unique Independent Bookstores'

Four "Dallas-unique independent bookstores" were showcased by Visit Dallas, which noted that the bookshops "are more than a place to pick up your next vacation read, they are spaces that bring people together and cultivate culture to share with the Dallas community. So grab a friend or venture out solo for a day of reading, learning, engaging, and maybe even a little drinking."

The highlighted booksellers included the Wild Detectives, ("little slice of literary heaven was a dream made reality by two friends"); Deep Vellum Books ("mission is to bring literary works by marginalized writers to help amplify their voice and enrich the Dallas community with diverse literature"); Interabang Books ("over 12,000 hand-selected titles for both adults and children and a knowledgeable staff eager to assist"); and Lucky Dog Books ("large selection of affordable books and media that will mesmerize any bibliophile").

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Bards Alley

Bards Alley bookstore, Vienna, Va., shared a photo of its latest sidewalk chalkboard on Facebook, noting: "What a perfect quote to round off #middlegrademarch! Anyone else found this to be the case?" The wise words are from Lemony Snicket: "People who read are much less likely to be evil."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Luis Alberto Urrea on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels (Back Bay Books, $16.99, 9780316154895).

Science Friday: Steven Strogatz, author of Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328879981).

MSNBC's AM Joy with Joy Reid: George Papadopoulos, author of Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump (Diversion Books, $28.99, 9781635764932).

On Stage: The Princess Bride Musical

Disney Theatrical Productions has confirmed that a new musical based on the late William Goldman's 1973 novel The Princess Bride, as well as the 1987 film, is in development "from a trio of writers currently lighting up Broadway," Playbill reported. Tony Award winner David Yazbek (The Band's Visit) will write the score, while Tony winner Bob Martin (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) and Rick Elice (The Cher Show, Jersey Boys) collaborate on the book. There is no information yet on a production timeline or additional creative team members.

The project's journey to Broadway has been a long one. Playbill noted that Goldman "had initially teamed up with The Light in the Piazza's Adam Guettel on an adaptation, though the two parted ways in 2007. Rob Reiner, who directed the movie, subsequently approached a host of songwriters from theatre and beyond. Disney Theatrical announced its continued commitment to bringing the story to life, in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios' Alan Horn, in 2013."

Books & Authors

Awards: Ted Hughes Poetry Winner

Raymond Antrobus won the £5,000 (about $6,530) Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, which is presented to a "U.K. poet, working in any form, who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry in that year." The Guardian reported that Antrobus, who "fiercely" challenged Ted Hughes's "description of deaf children as 'alert and simple' in a poem in his first collection," received the prize for his debut, The Perseverance.

The judges praised the winner, with Clare Shaw calling the book "universally relevant"; Linton Kwesi Johnson describing it as "the most engaging collection of poems we have read in a long time"; and the Rev. Canon Mark Oakley saying Antrobus was "passionate but speaking from his scars not his wounds--this is a poet you sense very deeply that you can trust."

Reading with... Jen Monroe

photo: Hari Gurusamy

Associate editor Jen Monroe joined Berkley in November 2016. She acquires psychological suspense, upmarket fiction, speculative fiction and narrative nonfiction. Before publishing, she pursued journalism, interning for the New York Times Upfront and the San Francisco Examiner. Originally from San Francisco, she has an English & creative writing degree from Sarah Lawrence College. She's looking forward to the publication of My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (Berkley, March 26, 2019).

On your nightstand now:

On my nightstand I keep books that have recently rocked my world and books that I know are about to: The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray, Sadie by Courtney Summers, We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffins and The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

Favorite book when you were a child:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg because talk about a dream vacation.

Your top five authors:

Yaa Gyasi has only written one book but it's one of the most brilliant, beautiful and complex novels I've ever read.

Lauren Groff because I probably think about Fates and Furies at least once a week.

Celeste Ng is not only a devastating writer but also epic on Twitter.

J.K. Rowling because, come on, how am I not going to mention Harry Potter?

As the most empathetic writer and advice-giver, I have to include Cheryl Strayed.

Book you've faked reading:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I know. I know. Truthfully, it's just too long.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I don't have the words for what this book did to my teenage heart. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang because it's so fun, swoon worthy and the absolute best remedy. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is probably the book I give as a gift the most.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Dry by Jane Harper and Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton. I was so pleased to find out that they're both also fantastic books on the inside.

Book you hid from your parents:

I went through a massive Judy Blume phase and devoured every book of hers, but I definitely hid Forever from my parents. That book was... educational. Also, any of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison because they always had something scandalous in the title.

Book that changed your life:

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This is one of those books that I didn't just read but experienced. Never have I ever highlighted so many lines from a single book.

Favorite line from a book:

"When will you learn that there isn't a word for everything?" --Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm cheating and reusing some of the books I already mentioned: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

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

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. I have never had so much fun rooting for the bad guys.

Book Review

Review: Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells

Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells by Pico Iyer (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 256p., 9780451493934, April 16, 2019)

Readers for whom the name Pico Iyer (The Year of Stillness; The Man Within My Head) conjures up images of a globetrotting journalist posting from places like Dharamsala may be surprised with the domesticated version of him they encounter in his elegiac memoir, Autumn Light. But with the beauty of its prose and the quality of its insight, this gentle, reflective reminiscence reveals again Iyer's literary virtuosity.

Focusing on two months in the late fall of 2013, Iyer eloquently describes his life in Nara, a "rustic town" located about 20 miles from Kyoto that boasts the largest municipal park in Japan, home to 1,200 wild deer. For six months each year Iyer and his wife, Hiroko, live in a two-room apartment there, in a "bright, rectilinear neighborhood of vending machines and hair salons."

The book opens with the sudden, if not unexpected, death of Hiroko's 91-year-old father--a secret poet born in Hiroshima and a Russian prisoner-of-war in World War II. His passing provides the gateway into one of the book's dominant threads: how the bonds of family both fray and bind. This is reflected in the estrangement of Hiroko's brother, Masahiro, a Jungian psychologist educated in the West, and her distress over the mental infirmity of her mother.

Much of what makes Autumn Light so enchanting is the effortless way Iyer extracts meaning from life's quotidian details, like his frequent visits to the local ping-pong club. In health and sickness, the comings and goings of elderly players with nicknames like "Mr. Joy" and the "Emperor" (Iyer is by far the youngest player, and far from the most talented) spotlight the passage of time, another persistent theme. "I'd moved to Japan," he explains, "to live with less hurry and fear of time, and to see how an old and seasoned culture makes peace with the passing hours."

Iyer writes movingly of the season "when everything falls away" with a keen appreciation of the natural beauty that surrounds him. Yet even in arresting passages that portray the "reddening of the maple leaves under the blaze of ceramic-blue skies that is the place's secret heart," or a path that's "still carpeted in scarlet and orange, so thick I might be walking on a crackling, seething Persian rug," he reveals fundamental truths in an unobtrusively aphoristic style.

"Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth," Iyer writes. Though there's forward movement in the memoir as the "season of subtractions" inches toward winter, there's also an enjoyable sense of circularity to its structure. Autumn Light's brief, meditative passages make this an ideal volume to read and read again for both pleasure and wisdom. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Pico Iyer's memoir marries beauty and sadness in describing his life in Japan one autumn.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Barefoot Bookseller in Paradise

The bookshop itself, much like our little sandbank, is something of an apparition. Curved and clean, the shop is built on stilts above the sand, circled by heavy green and growing bush. It's a moment's walk from the beach. Its shelves are made from wood found on the island, its lights hang on sanded branches, and its ceiling is dotted with glowing stars. To see it is to doubt yourself. It's the book lover's haven, nestled away in everyone else's.

That's from a blog post by Aimée Johnston, the second person to take on the enviable position of Barefoot Bookseller at what was initially advertised last summer as "possibly the world's most remote bookshop, based in the luxury eco resort of Soneva Fushi in the Maldives." The ephemeral career lasts just three months, and then a new BB takes over. Johnston's turn at the luxury helm began March 1.

You may recall that when Philip Blackwell, CEO of Ultimate Library, announced the initiative in August 2018, he noted that "the pay is derisory but the fringe benefits unparalleled." The reaction internationally was immediate and enthusiastic, with thousands of inquiries pouring in.

Johnston made the cut. She has taken a three month leave from what she describes as her other "dream job" in Penguin Random House Ireland's publicity department.

"After four flights, two bus rides and a rather stressful late-night journey in a speedboat, I arrive on the island," she wrote in the Irish Times. "At the jetty I'm kindly asked to remove my shoes. It seems they were very serious about the being barefoot. I take them off, feel the sand beneath my feet, and let them lead me wherever it is I'm going next. I haven't seen shoes since. "

The Barefoot Bookshop "has quickly become something of a literary haven in Soneva Fushi," Johnston observed, adding that resort guests "come to peruse the shelves and then stay for hours. They tell me about their favorite writers, the best book they have ever read. Sometimes they take to the day bed that hugs the curved walls of the building, and there they read the afternoon away, lying underneath the lamps that hang from branches, and the stars that slowly fade in and out of being on our ceiling. Often guests will visit again and again."

What is her day like? "My day starts in the staff canteen where Anan, our resident host chef, makes the most amazing omelets. Honestly, they're incredible and so worth waking up early for," she told Image. "After that I'm in the bookshop, talking to guests, recommending books. There is nothing better than taking time with a reader, establishing their reading tastes and finding just the right book for them. I love knowing someone is leaving the shop with a book that they'll love. My day also includes the slightly more practical tasks of restocking shelves, unpacking boxes and then breaking them down. You can't escape those jobs, even in paradise!

"At lunchtime--and you're going to hate me for this, but my lunch time is three hours long--I go to the beach and swim. There are these hammocks hidden just a little way into the jungle and I'll lie there and read the afternoon away. Then it's back to the bookshop for the evening!"

In addition to her bookselling responsibilities, Johnston maintains the Barefoot Bookseller blog, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.

"When the bookshop has a breath, I can snatch some deliciously sedentary moments," she posted on the blog. "I'd like to think I use these moments wisely, that I do what any bookseller in any corner of the world would forgive me for. I avoid the mountain of boxes that need broken down in the store cupboard, and I read a book, as many pages as time will allow. I find myself inexhaustibly delighted with our titles. I peruse the shelves with the same pleasure of a new visitor, each and every time. I am far from home, and further from my habits. In this new pace, my reading horizons inch outward on either side. I reach for books I never would have before."

Yesterday morning I noticed this tweet: "Friends! It's just after 5 p.m. in sunny Soneva and I've opened the bookshop for the evening. I'm re-reading Normal People by Sally Rooney and, for reasons unknown even to myself, I'm listening to the Pina Colada song for the fourth time. If you, er, happen to be in the area, stop by!"

Winter in my part of the world is releasing its seasonal grip--if more in an "objects in the mirror are closer than they appear" than Spring is blooming everywhere manner--but the unseasonably cool temps and still impressive snowbank in my driveway are reasons enough to imagine alternatives.

Barefoot Bookseller? As Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) so eloquently put it, "I want to go to there."

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

Powered by: Xtenit