Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019: Maximum Shelf: The Whisper Man

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Quotation of the Day

Poetry & 'Being Compassionate Toward One Another as Citizens'

"I was... very determined to push back against the pervasive narrative of America as a divided nation. The narrative that says people in the rural heartland have nothing in common, not even a shared language, with those living in urban centers....

Tracey K. Smith
(photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

"[Poetry] is something that could make us better at listening to, and being compassionate toward one another as citizens. I think that just being called upon to talk about the art form in those terms has made me think in ways I wouldn't normally have done. I'm used to thinking about craft-based questions, as a professor, in terms of my own work. But I've been thinking more socially and, you know, conceptually. I think my sense of even how I approach different voices is larger as a result."

--Tracy K. Smith, during a speech and on-stage conversation at the Library of Congress Monday night as she concluded her term as U.S. Poet Laureate

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich


Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews to Open in Chapel Hill

Epilogue: Books Chocolate Brews, an independent bookstore and Spanish-style chocolatería, will open this summer at 109 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Daily Tar Heel reported that co-owners Miranda and Jaime Sanchez will offer a menu that "includes cups of chocolate and Latin street foods, like churros and pan dulce, from family recipes. Craft brews and wine will also be served."

Miranda Sanchez cited the closing of The Bookshop on Franklin Street in 2017 as an incentive for the new store because she felt the area lost a place where people could pause during a busy day. "We're kind of like if The Bookshop and Cocoa Cinnamon had a love child," she said.

According to Epilogue's website, "each new book--and almost every used book--in our shop has been handpicked for our community to inspire conversation, expand upon our lived experiences, and invigorate our minds. Small presses and lesser-known authors comprise the bulk of our new book selection while our used book selection is more wide-ranging. We hope to continue growing and tailoring both of these categories with your input and support."

Epilogue "aims to foster community in the heart of Chapel Hill. It is a place for people to gather, whether to cultivate new ideas, learn old ones, or escape into the welcoming atmosphere that books, chocolate, beer, and coffee all provide."

"That's really what it is, it's just about fostering community," Miranda Sanchez observed. "We as a community need to foster that type of environment, that energy that comes from being able to pause."

Jaime Sanchez said they put the cafe in a Spanish-style chocolatería because they were inspired by the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain: "Everybody hangs out there and on Saturday, doing the weekend thing with the family, they go eat churros and chocolate. We wanted to bring that type of community space to Chapel Hill.... We wanted to bring that sweetness of joint culture to Chapel Hill. There's not a panadería (bakery) here, now there's going to be."

Matthew Gladdek, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said, "I think what we can tell from good local bookstores is that they can really connect with the community. They offer a level of service and recommendation in books that creates a really vital space that people want to be in."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Big Changes at Small Changes

Shari Basom, owner of Small Changes, the Seattle distributor of magazines, calendars and gifts, has sold the company to Sarah Murfin, her longtime calendar manager, and Alex Perez Paz, who has run the calendar warehouse for more than a decade.

Basom, who founded Small Changes 42 years ago, commented: "Alex and Sarah will continue our long-standing standards of service and social responsibility. We are proud to announce that due to our in-house transfer of ownership, we are able to retain all of our reliable staff." That includes her son, Ariel Basom, who is becoming manager of the magazine department. She continued: "I have full confidence in Sarah, Alex, Ariel and the rest of the staff to carry on and prosper for many years to come."

Small Changes distributes magazines in the Greater Northwest and calendars and gifts in the U.S. and Canada. Many of its customers are independent bookstores.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Hely Hutchinson Awarded Légion d'Honneur

Tim Hely Hutchinson

Former Hachette U.K. CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson, who retired in 2017, was awarded the Légion d'Honneur for outstanding promotion of good Anglo-French relations and his "committed dissemination of international literature." The Bookseller reported that Hachette Livre CEO Arnaud Nourry presented the honor, "given to those who serve France's interests or enhance its prestige," at a ceremony in the Institut Français, South Kensington, last week.

"Tim became an unapologetic advocate for the French connection, and his enthusiasm infected his own board of directors," Nourry said in his speech. "With his help, Hachette Livre won hearts and minds at Hodder Headline. All it took to cement a friendly takeover was an offer WH Smith could not refuse. When I called Tim to let him know we had signed the contract, he was overjoyed. With that acquisition, it must be stressed that Hachette Livre, a French company that was founded in 1826, took its first major step towards becoming an international player, and a significant amount of the credit lies with Tim Hely Hutchinson."

Obituary Note: David Brion Davis

David Brion Davis, a "distinguished professor and the award-winning author of a magisterial and revelatory trilogy on the history of slavery in the Western world," died April 14, the New York Times reported. He was 92. Davis wrote or edited 16 books, "but paramount were the three that examined the moral challenges and contradictions of slavery and their centrality in American and Atlantic history."

The first, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (1966), won a Pulitzer Prize and was a National Book Award finalist. The second, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution 1770-1823 (1975), won the National Book Award as well as the Bancroft Prize. The final book of the trilogy, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (2014), won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

In his works, Davis "captured as no other scholar has the sweep of what he has called inhuman bondage and its abiding legacy," said Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, one of Davis's students.

Historian Eric Foner called Davis "one of the most influential historians of his generation.... No one did more to inspire the revolution in historical understanding that places slavery at the center of American history and indeed the history of the West."


Image of the Day: Poetry in Memphis

Ann Fisher-Wirth read from her new poetry collection, The Bones of Winter Birds (Terrapin Books), at Burke's Book Store in Memphis, Tenn., last week.

Jeff Kinney: 'Motivated to Make Sure That the Bookstore Thrives'

Jeff Kinney, bestselling author and owner of An Unlikely Story Bookstore & Café in Plainville, Mass., discussed both of his passions with Ireland's Virgin Media Television, which reported that a few years ago, Kinney "ploughed millions of his own dollars into buying an old colonial building in the center of his town, which he turned into a bookshop.... The store may not be profitable yet, but the creator of the hugely successful Wimpy Kid series is a draw--he works on the third floor and visitors pop into the bookstore hoping for a glimpse of the man himself."

"I have a studio up there, so I run into kids in the bookstore all the time," Kinney said. "Sometimes I'll take them up to the studio to have a look around. It's a good life. If I want to be famous, I can go to the first floor and if I want to work, I go to the third floor."

Noting that it is "clear his local community means everything to him," Virgin Media Television wrote that Kinney has invested in "crumbling properties in town and renovating them to make it a better place for people to live."

"We live in a small town on purpose, because we like a small-town lifestyle," he said. "The downtown can really spur the community.... I like having the options and the security, but what I'm very passionate about is our bookstore, where we have a staff of 25. I'm motivated to make sure that the bookstore thrives, so that my employees can thrive.... I've got a great life, a great family, a bookstore here in Plainville. I get to travel around the world and meet kids from all over. I really can't ask for more."

Booksellers' Mentoring Program 'Changing the Game'

"Who do independent booksellers turn to when they need advice, help, guidance or even just a person to talk business with?" In the Irish Times, Sheila O'Reilly wrote that the Booksellers' Mentoring Program, funded and administered by the Unwin Charitable Trust in partnership with the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, is open to all BA members with five branches or fewer. The aim "is to offer help to small, independent high-street booksellers by funding the full cost of professional advice from highly experienced booksellers."

Since launching in 2017, more than 30 bookshops have received advice and help from the mentoring team. "The bookshop completes a brief application form to ensure they are matched with the best mentor for their needs. A phone call follows quickly to chat through the request and that's often followed by a visit or two," O'Reilly noted, sharing some of her recent experiences as a UCT mentor.

One longtime bookseller described the initiative as a "wonderful opportunity for all booksellers to review the way they operate. I would thoroughly recommend all booksellers take up this offer, however long they have been in the business."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Adam Rubin on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Adam Rubin, author of High Five, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (Dial Books for Young Readers, $19.99, 9780525428893).

Rachael Ray: Ian K. Smith, author of Clean & Lean: 30 Days, 30 Foods, a New You! (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250114945).

Daily Show repeat: Abby Wambach, author of Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game (Celadon, $20, 9781250217707).

Movies: Born a Crime

Screenwriter Janine Eser (Fanie Fourie's Lobola) has been hired to adapt Trevor Noah's bestselling memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Deadline reported. Directed by Liesl Tommy (Respect), the project will star Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o as Noah's mother, Patricia, "who served as an important figure to her son in his formative years."

Noah is producing under his Day Zero Productions label alongside Norman Aladjem of Mainstay Entertainment and Nyong'o through her Eba Productions. Mainstay's Derek Van Pelt and Sanaz Yamin will serve as executive producers.

Books & Authors

Awards: Reading the West; RBC Taylor Emerging Writer

The winners of the 2018 Reading the West Book Awards, sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association and honoring "the best fiction, nonfiction, culinary writing, and books for young readers written by an author living in or writing about the region, or books that celebrates the spirit of the West," are:

Fiction: Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson (Soho Press)
Nonfiction: Out of the Woods: Seeing Nature in the Everyday by Julia Corbett (University of Nevada Press)
Eating the West: Bacon, Beans, and Beer by Eliza Cross (Gibbs Smith)
Picture Books: We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge)
Middle Grade: When a Ghost Talks, Listen by Tim Tingle (Roadrunner Press)
Young Adult Fiction: Zen and Gone by Emily France (Soho Teen)


Jessica J. Lee has been named the recipient of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award, which was created "to provide recognition and assistance to a Canadian published author who is working on a significant writing project, preferably but not limited to the genre of literary nonfiction." Lee, who was chosen by Kate Harris, winner of this year's RBC Taylor Prize for Nonfiction, will receive a C$10,000 (about US$7,485) cash prize and the opportunity to be mentored by the RBC Taylor Prize winner.

RBC Taylor Prize founder Noreen Taylor said Lee "is exactly the kind of writer we envision for the Emerging Author award. A multi-talented young person, Lee is about to break out on several fronts. She is a committed environmental historian who also just happens to be a talented writer and is also encouraging young diverse writers by editing and publishing the Willowherb Review. This award will assist Lee towards completing her multiple projects."

Harris praised Lee as an "uber-talented Canadian author, whose first book, Turning, I deeply admired for its gorgeous mix of memoir and nature/travel writing. It's about the year she spent swimming a different lake every weekend as a way of moving through heartbreak and depression. I also love the fact that she's founded a literary magazine, the Willowherb Review, to celebrate and bolster nature writing by emerging and established diverse writers. She's definitely a nonfiction voice I want to hear more from."

Reading with... Erica Boyce

photo: Nora Kenny

A native New Englander, Erica Boyce is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School and an associate fiction editor at Pangyrus. She lives near Boston with her husband and their dog, a corgi named Finn. Her first novel, The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green, was just published by Sourcebooks.

On your nightstand now:

I'm rotating between Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns and Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love. I've been trying to read more nonfiction lately, but I always need some fiction in the mix. I found The Forty Rules of Love tucked away on a shelf in the Harvard Book Store, and I've loved Rumi's poetry since college, so I was immediately drawn to it.  

Favorite book when you were a child:

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables--so much so that it makes a cameo in my novel! I related (and still do relate) very much to Anne's tendency to feel everything so keenly, whether it's joy or pain.

Your top five authors:

Colum McCann's simple, gorgeous prose always sticks with me. I love J. Courtney Sullivan for making me see New England in a new light, and Celeste Ng for the beautiful way she writes families. Barbara Kingsolver if I want to feel closer to nature, and Mira Jacob if I need a good laugh or cry.

Book you've faked reading:

Pride and Prejudice. A good friend of mine gave me a compendium of all Jane Austen's work as a gift in college, and I couldn't even make it a few pages into her most famous book. Sorry, friend!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Though I'm well outside the intended age bracket by now, I will never stop talking about Tanuja Desai Hidier's Born Confused. I first read it when I was 16, and it was just jaw-dropping to me the way she used words; so lyrical and distinctive. I've read it several times since then, and my copy is filled with penciled-in underlines!

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm pretty sure I would've bought anything with a cover as texturally beautiful as the hardcover edition of Edgar & Lucy by Victor Lodato. Luckily for me, the story and writing was just as magical as the dust jacket.

Book you hid from your parents:

I may or may not have read every volume in the novelizations of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the version from the 1990s starring Melissa Joan Hart). One of my best friends and I would secretly pass our copies back and forth to share when we were in fourth grade!

Book that changed your life:

Ann Patchett's This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage--specifically, her essay, "The Getaway Car." She describes her writing life and what it's like to write a story and put it out there in the world. For years, I'd been meaning to revisit the few chapters of a novel I'd written in college and actually finish that story, but there was always some little voice holding me back. I remember reading "The Getaway Car" in 2016 and just looking up and thinking, "Damn." That week, I went home and started writing the manuscript that, after several rounds of edits and more than a few tears, became The Fifteen Wonders of Daniel Green.

Favorite line from a book:

In "The Getaway Car," Ann Patchett describes the process of writing as, "Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing--all the color, the light and movement--is gone. What I'm left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That's my book." That's the image that made me realize I had to get over myself and crush that butterfly.

Five books you'll never part with:

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann--I've made so many people read this one, I've lost count. Trevor Corson's The Secret Life of Lobsters is an amazing work of nonfiction that made me care about lobsters and marine life so much that I built my day job around it. Leni Zumas's Red Clocks, because so many of my favorite books involve interweaving a handful of people's lives and Zumas really nails it here. Mira T. Lee's Everything Here Is Beautiful for the compassionate way she describes living with a mental illness. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, myself, and I'm always on the hunt for books about people who have mental illnesses and live full, complicated lives. And finally, the aforementioned marked-up copy of Tanuja Desai Hidier's Born Confused.

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

Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure. I read it in fifth grade and, my God, the badassery in that female fantasy protagonist blew me away. I read all the other books in The Song of the Lioness series as quickly as I could, and I was so sad to see Alanna go when I finished.

Book Review

Children's Review: Sonny's Bridge

Sonny's Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove by Barry Wittenstein, illus. by Keith Mallett (Charlesbridge, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 7-11, 9781580898812, May 21, 2019)

A story about an adult's sabbatical from his professional life is an unusual concept for a children's book, but Barry Wittenstein's jazzy-rhythmed Sonny's Bridge makes perfect sense once it's in readers' hands.

In the 1940s, a young saxophonist named Sonny Rollins began sneaking into Harlem's Apollo Theater and Cotton Club to hear jazz musicians like John "Dizzy" Gillespie and Charlie "Bird" Parker. He began playing "two-bit joints," writing his own music and turning standards like Billie Holliday's "God Bless the Child" into his own. By his 20s, he had rocketed "to the top of the jazz universe." But when he was "twenty-nine in '59, in his prime,/ Sonny shatter[ed] the jazz world" by taking a break from performing and recording--the pressure had become too intense. Courageously, Sonny took an intermission: "No gigs, no deadlines, no pressure.... Sixteen hours every day, plays to his heart's de-light" in the small Lower East Side apartment he shared with his wife. When neighbors complained about the noise, Sonny looked for a private place where he could "make notes cry and squeak, beg and plead,/ bend 'em up, bend 'em sideways." He found that place on the Williamsburg Bridge, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.

For more than two years, Sonny found "refuge and sol-i-tude" on the pedestrian walkway of the bridge, playing only for himself and the trains and tugboats. When he emerged from his self-imposed exile, rumors swirled about what he'd been doing: Had he found a new sound? Was he afraid of the "younger cats on the prowl?" Was he even playing sax anymore? Sonny didn't care. He went back into the recording studio and entered "a new dimension:/ his subconscious/ 'cause 'you can't think and play at the same time.' " In early 1962, he released to acclaim a new album called The Bridge. He had become "more confident in himself as a musician and as a person," Wittenstein (Waiting for Pumpsie) writes in the "Liner Notes" of the book's back matter (which also include an author's note, a timeline of Rollins's life and additional notes and quotes).

Wittenstein's energetic text mimics the syncopated rhythms of jazz, incorporating the lingo and locales of the time. Keith Mallett's (How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz; Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee) digital illustrations also capture the electric mood of the end of the bebop era. Using warm, vibrant colors, his depictions of Sonny and his cohort are expressive and full of life. Flashes of gold--a backlit Sonny, glowing streetlights and, always, Henrietta, his trusty sax--glitter through the pages. Readers accustomed to YouTube superstars will be intrigued by this story of one musician--who was already successful and famous--truly "find[ing] his groove" after stepping away from the limelight for an unimaginably long period (in today's terms) of more than two years. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: This dynamic picture book tells how legendary jazz sax player Sonny Rollins, at the height of his career, stepped out of public view to find his groove again.

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