Also published on this date: Tuesday, June 4, 2019: Maximum Shelf: Things We Didn't Talk about When I Was a Girl

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Grove Atlantic: The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Feiwel & Friends: A Delayed Life: The True Story of the Librarian of Auschwitz by Dita Kraus

New Directions: Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet

Workman Publishing: Real Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation (Second Edition, Revised) by Sharon Salzberg

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Jim Rugg

Clarion Books: The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story by Kate Milford

News

BookCon 2019: Packed and Continuing to Grow

Emily Prior and Ashleigh Olander in cosplay based on Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter Chronicles.

ReedPOP's sixth annual BookCon took place over the weekend in New York City's Jacob Javits Center, immediately following BookExpo. Offering more than 150 panels, signings and events, BookCon's attendance appears to have surpassed that of 2018's event. Beyond the number of anecdotes about security professionals being needed to help wrangle extremely long lines, another significant sign of growth for the "event where storytelling and pop culture collide" was the large number of people in cosplay, walking the hallways, stopping for pictures and meeting their favorite authors--BookCon is clearly an important cultural event for book lovers.

One highlight from the weekend-long event was the panel on "Contemporary Fictions and Modern Day Storytellers," featuring Sarah Dessen, Karyn Parsons, Brittney Morris, Morgan Matson and Sandhya Menon, moderated by Sarah Enni. The panelists discussed a wide range of topics relating to contemporary YA, including the importance of portraying healthy relationships, the need for non-romantic relationships, technology use and when (and how) to include internal conversations of marginalized communities in works aimed at a wider audience.

(l.-r.)(l.-r.) Karyn Parsons, Sandhya Menon, Brittney Morris, Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson and moderator Sarah Enni.

Morris--whose debut, Slay (Simon Pulse, Sept.), features a black protagonist who creates a Wakanda-inspired video game--commented on the difficulty of making these internal conversations known. "Black people are not here to explain ourselves," she said, adding that she was surrounded by so many white people growing up, she was forced into the position of "black culture expert." Including her blackness in the narrative was incredibly important to her, but while writing the book, she felt like she was constantly traversing that thin line between displaying culture and fearing stereotypes: "Do you include a fried chicken card [in the game]?... Is it helping or hurting? Where's the line?"

Another panel featured Zareen Jaffrey, executive editor of Simon & Schuster's new Muslim-focused children's imprint, Salaam Reads, along with several of the imprint's authors: S.K. Ali, Hena Khan, Karuna Riazi, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and moderator Najmah Sharif. The panelists spoke of their experiences seeing--or not seeing--characters like themselves in literature (both Khan and Jaffrey said they had never seen themselves in a book until they read Jhumpa Lahiri's works as adults) and navigating life as a black Muslim author. They finished by talking about which parts of their own cultures they would love to see in the mainstream: Thompkins-Bigelow, a black Muslim, wants to see more stories about second- and third-generation African immigrants; Ali hopes to see more "Muslim joy"; and Riazi wants "to see it all"--the big and "the trivial."

YA authors (from left) Rachel Hawkins, Melissa de la Cruz, Nicola Yoon and David Yoon.

A particularly well-attended panel called "Making Out Between the Pages" featured YA authors Rachel Hawkins, Melissa de la Cruz and Nicola Yoon, moderated by David Yoon. The three extremely popular authors talked about passion both in life and "between the pages." Hawkins suggested to audience members that they "don't have to just be passionate about the big things in life"--she said she's personally passionate about her cats, knitting poorly, writing fan fiction and "trash" (trash media, specifically). Passion, she said, is "an all-encompassing thing" to be pursued. Nicola Yoon continued this thought, discussing the importance of love stories: "So many people denigrate... love stories and it's ridiculous. Love is The Thing." Not just romantic love, but "love of art... love of work... love of family and friends."

"I'll Take Quidditch for $500, Please!": Pictured l.-r.: Marc Thompson, Nic Stone, Ally Condie, Arvin Ahmadi.

Day two of BookCon was equally busy. An audiobook-based, Jeopardy-style trivia game was hosted by the Jedi-robe-wearing voice actor Marc Thompson. YA authors Ally Condie, Arvin Ahmadi and Nic Stone fought it out over topics like "Seen at BookCon" and "May the Force Be with You." To give each author a hand, three audience members who answered trivia about the authors correctly were invited onto the stage to compete alongside the author. (Condie's team won the day, but all of the audience-member helpers received prizes.)

(Back row, l.-r.) Tessa Dare, Sabrina Jeffries, Vanessa Riley, Scarlett Peckham, Sarah MacLean; front: Julia London (l.) and Ursula Renée.

One Sunday panel that drew a standing-room-only crowd was titled "Suffragettes, Sex Positivity, and Smashing the Patriarchy: Historical Romance as a Powerful Political Text." Moderator Sarah MacLean kept authors Tessa Dare, Vanessa Riley, Scarlett Peckham, Ursula Renée, Julia London and Sabrina Jeffries directly on task, asking questions that had each author thinking intently about historical romance in today's social and political climate. MacLean asked the panel of women what they wish readers knew about historical romance, how they handle modernity in relation to the historical text, whether their books have become more overtly political and if anything has become "verboten" in the genre. Riley said she wants readers to know that "historical fiction is more than a dress. The dress is extremely important--how it goes on, how it comes off...." But, she said, the genre is so many things and so much more than those books "your great-aunt reads." Peckham suggested that, even without trying, there is something about historical romance that "feels modern" because, in her opinion, the simple act of being a contemporary woman "feels a bit transgressive"--a lot of historical romance focuses on the transgressive nature of the female, and the works feel modern because "the metaphor is at work." Jeffries added that it makes sense that modernity would slip into the historical text because there is also "a fantasy element" to what they write--"We know there weren't that many dukes in the Regency, and we don't care." London noted, "I've been more conscious about creating a man in the image of how we want them to be today." Riley mentioned that she was 35,000 words into a new book when she watched Christine Blasey Ford testify--the testimony touched her so deeply, she started writing the book all over again.

The conversation around what might be "forbidden" in historical romance was especially interesting, with many of the panelists describing their determination to never include a virginal heroine ever again--"I don't want to write the blushing virgin anymore," Renée said, "because... women did have sex." Now, Renée focuses more on exploring "consensual sex outside of marriage." "I'm happy the virgin trope is... kicked," Riley added. Jeffries finished off this line of discussion by saying, "A hero who rapes a heroine is not a hero."

Dorian Misitano in Ms. Frizzle cosplay as she waits in one of BookCon's many, many long lines.

The BookCon floor itself was packed both days, with lines for autographs, giveaways and photo opportunities often snaking across the convention center and wrapping around booths, even extending out the doors. The long lines seemed to deter no one, though, as attendees waited patiently, reading the books they'd recently picked up or enjoying the great cosplay. The new UnBound sidelines section was busy, as was the BookCon shop run by the Strand. It certainly seems as if BookCon is becoming An Event and it will be exciting to watch as it continues to grow. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Ingram: Congratulations 2019 National Book Award Winners - Learn More>


BookExpo 2019: Wowing Customers with Great Gifts

At BookExpo, Kim Salzstein, gift buyer at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz.; Chris Doeblin, owner of Book Culture in New York City; and Grace Kang, founder of the gift and stationery store Pink Olive, with five stores in New York City and upstate New York, discussed nonbook and gift sales. Sarah Schwartz, editor-in-chief of Stationery Trends magazine, moderated the discussion.

Doeblin reported that before 2000, Book Culture was purely a bookseller and an "academic bookseller at that." In response to Amazon starting to take a "real pinch" out of sales, Doeblin began to add an increasing number of nonbook items. At first, that was limited to things that were tangential to academic book sales, such as backpacks, stationery and notebooks. In that location and at that time, Doeblin found it "very difficult" to change the store's identity when it was already seen as a destination store. Once the store added new locations, Doeblin said, Book Culture was able to "move out" of selling only "student stuff," and began selling more candles, cards and gifts.

Salzstein, meanwhile, said that Changing Hands began selling nonbook items about 10 years into its 45-year history. According to Salzstein, founder Gayle Shanks decided to bring in sidelines as a way to "get more to our bottom line," and ever since then gifts have been an increasingly important part of the store. Between the store's two locations, Changing Hands carries a huge array of sidelines, from T-shirts, socks and other apparel to kitchen accessories and jewelry. And while the stores have separate gift sections, books and appropriate sidelines frequently are shelved together, such as barbecue cookbooks paired with handcrafted cutting boards.

Kang founded Pink Olive about 12 years ago, and though the store began as a destination for gifts and stationery exclusively, she has since begun stocking more and more books. She explained that selling books was "kind of a no-brainer for us," since they are often the perfect items to round out a gift purchase. According to Kang, most of her customers come in simply to buy a card; from there, one of her employees helps that customer build a gift, and a single card purchase can often lead to hundreds of dollars in sales. The books she sells are things like The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland and a variety of children's and board books, which Kang said are increasingly popular components of baby shower gifts. She noted that there is often "no price resistance" to cards that sell for as much as $6 or $7 each, and one of her innovations is a coffee shop-esque punch card for greeting card purchases.

On the subject of whether selling nonbook items diminishes the "purity" of a bookstore, Doeblin dismissed the idea. From a financial perspective, he said, they are a huge benefit; he noted, too, that nonbook vendors will even call a store if they find out that the store is selling one of their items at too low a price point. But book publishers, he continued, are "perfectly willing" to let Barnes & Noble, Amazon and others sell books at or below cost, and undercut independent retailers. Salzstein added that nonbook "helps your bottom line," and nonbook sales reps "want you to be successful."

When asked about popular gifts and growing gift categories, Salzstein noted that anything involving cacti or succulents is always popular, as are socks ranging from fancy to "cheeky." She pointed to the apparel brand Natural Life as one that she's had a lot of success with recently, and said that brands and items with stories or charities behind them are increasingly popular.

Doeblin said that candles are a huge category for Book Culture, estimating that he has sold "thousands and thousands," and suggested that with all of the new development and construction going on in New York City, home and personal accessories will only grow in the coming years.

Kang reported that her store's custom candle line is one of her bestsellers, and books or vintage postcards related to New York always do well. She added that especially over the past couple of years, books related to women's empowerment have been increasingly popular, with Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls a stand-out hit. --Alex Mutter


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter


Ramin Named First Director of Brandeis University Press

Sue Berger Ramin

Effective July 1, Sue Berger Ramin is joining Brandeis University Press as director, a newly created position. She was formerly associate publisher at David R. Godine, Publisher, and earlier worked at Penguin Books as v-p of film and TV publishing, and at Macmillan Press in academic and humanities publishing. She also taught as an adjunct professor in the Publishing and Writing Masters Program at Emerson College.

Brandeis University Press was founded more than 45 years ago and was a long-time member of the University Press of New England. When the consortium dissolved last year, Brandeis remained committed to maintaining and growing the publishing program. Last November, Brandeis University Press established a partnership with the University of Chicago Press's Chicago Distribution Center for the distribution, marketing and sales of new and existing titles.

"We are so pleased that Sue Berger Ramin will be joining us as the inaugural director of Brandeis University Press," said Brandeis University Provost Lisa Lynch. "BUP is an important part of our institutional mission and I look forward to Sue's leadership to build our portfolio to even greater prominence and impact."

"I'm very excited to be joining Brandeis University Press at this important moment in time," Ramin said. "Brandeis is an outstanding university that is so well-respected both nationally and internationally and I am honored to be entrusted with continuing its tradition of excellent publishing and taking it into the future. At a time when the written word is coming under siege, it is significant that Brandeis has chosen to make a commitment to its press."

The Press has more than 300 titles in print, and the majority of its publishing is in its eight series: the Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life; the Hadassah Brandeis Institute Series on Jewish Women; Schusterman Series in Israel Studies; Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry; Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought; Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law; Mandel Lectures in the Humanities; and the Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures (sponsored by the Historical Society of Israel).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Providence by Max Barry


Obituary Note: Sven Lindqvist

Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist, who "argued that the racist brutality of European imperialism led to the horrors of the 20th century and survived into the 21st," died May 14, the Guardian reported. He was 87. Lindqvist "came to be considered one of his country's most important postwar writers, engaging controversially with a broad range of topics. From the 1960s onwards, his work was translated into English and other languages, with a focus towards the works which engage most directly with travel, war and what Professor Paul Gilroy has called 'the political ethics of antiracism.' "

"We want genocide to have begun and ended with Nazism," he wrote in Exterminate All the Brutes (1992). "That is what is most comforting." But his work "neither comforted nor diminished, but clarified," the Guardian noted.

Lindqvist's 33 books include A Proposal (1955), Advertising Is Lethal (1957), The Myth of Wu Tao-tzu (1967), The Shadow (1972), Land and Power in South America (1979), Diary of a Lover (1981), Diary of a Married Man (1982), Bench Press (1988), Desert Divers (1990), Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land (2005) and A History of Bombing (2001).

Lindqvist's many honors included the 2012 Lenin prize, awarded "to a Swedish author or artist who operates in a rebellious leftist tradition," the Guardian wrote. His acceptance speech noted that he was "an opponent of Lenin and most of his teachings," and "a feminist, traditional social democrat."


Kids' Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the first part of the American Booksellers Association's Summer 2019 Kids' Next List was delivered to nearly half a million of the country's best book readers, going to 443,954 customers of 135 participating bookstores. The second part of the summer catalogue will be sent on Thursday, July 18.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features summer Kids' Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Kids' Next List pick, in this case Elizabeth Acevedo, author of With the Fire on High (HarperTeen).

For a sample of the newsletter, see this one from Baltimore Read Aloud, Baltimore, Md.


Notes

Image of the Day: Lightning Source to Open in Sharjah

Ingram's Lightning Source and the Sharjah Book Authority are planning to open a print-on-demand facility within Sharjah Publishing City, a milestone in bringing POD to the Middle East. Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (center), celebrated the development at BookExpo with John Ingram (r.), chairman of Ingram Content Group and Ingram Industries, and Shawn Morin (l.), president and CEO of Ingram Content Group.


Pennie Picks: The Summer Wives

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams (Morrow, $16.99, 9780062660350) as her pick of the month for June. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"With summer's official arrival this month, I can't think of a better way to mark the change of season than by reading this month's book buyer's pick, The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams.

"When her mother marries a man with an estate on secretive Winthrop Island, Miranda Schuyler forgoes hobnobbing with the wealthy to spend her time with the lighthouse keeper's son. By the end of the summer, Miranda will find herself banished from the island for nearly 20 years.

"Williams gives readers a fascinating view into a world of privilege, wealth and well-kept secrets."


Personnel Changes at Ingram; Humanoids

At Ingram Content Group, Steve Marshall has been promoted to chief information officer. He was formerly v-p of IT services. He has more than 25 years of experience in infrastructure and project management. Earlier he was v-p of infrastructure at C&S Wholesale Grocers, Keene, N.H.

---

At Humanoids:

Ailen Lujo has joined the company as director of sales & marketing. She was formerly director of books marketing at DC Comics, where she had also been executive director of trade marketing. She began her publishing career at Soho Press, where she was director of sales and marketing.

Harley Salbacka has been promoted to the newly created position of sales representative and will work with direct market retailers, booksellers and librarians. She was previously sales & marketing assistant and earlier was a manager in comic book retail and an educator.

Andrea Torres has joined the company as sales & marketing assistant. She was formerly an editorial assistant at a university press.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Trevor Noah on Here & Now

Today:
Fresh Air: Jim DeRogatis, author of Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly (Abrams, $26, 9781419740077).

NPR's Here & Now: Trevor Noah, author of It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780525582168).

Tomorrow:
Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Ann Beattie, author of A Wonderful Stroke of Luck: A Novel (Viking, $25, 9780525557340).


TV: Looking for Alaska; In the Days of Rain

Looking for Alaska, Hulu's eight-episode limited series based on John Green's novel, will premiere October 18, Deadline reported. The project stars Kristine Froseth, Charlie Plummer, Denny Love, Jay Lee, Landry Bender, Sofia Vassilieva, Uriah Shelton, Jordan Connor, Ron Cephas Jones and Timothy Simons.

Created for TV by Josh Schwartz, the series comes from Paramount Television, Stephanie Savage's Fake Empire and Schwartz. Savage and Schwartz will serve as executive producers, along with Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, John Green, and Marty Bowen and Isaac Klausner of Temple Hill. Fake Empire exec Lis Rowinski will co-executive produce. Sarah Adina Smith (Hanna and Legion) directs the first episode.

---

Rebecca Stott's memoir In the Days of Rain is being adapted for television by The White Princess and Wolf Hall producer Company Pictures, Deadline reported. The company, which optioned the Costa Biography Award-winning novel from Penguin Random House, is "currently producing a third season of Acorn TV's Agatha Raisin and bringing back classic British detective drama Van Der Valk with Safe star Marc Warren." The latter is inspired by Nicolas Freeling's novels featuring Dutch detective Commissaris "Piet" (real name Simon) van der Valk.



Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter Prize

Poet, performer playwright, artist and broadcaster Lemn Sissay won the PEN Pinter Prize, which was established in 2009 by English PEN to defend freedom of expression and celebrate literature. The prize is given annually to a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world and shows a "fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

Sissay will receive the award October 10 at the British Library, where he will deliver an address. He will also announce his co-winner, the International Writer of Courage 2019, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient will be an international writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty.

"In his every work, Lemn Sissay returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child," said Maureen Freely, chair of English PEN and one of the judges. "From his sorrows, he forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love. On the page and on the stage, online or at the Foundling Museum, this is an Orpheus who never stops singing."

Sissay, who was awarded an MBE for services to literature by Queen Elizabeth II, commented: "I met Harold Pinter when I was 36. We were on stage at the Royal Court. I was too intimidated or self-conscious to speak to him. And so I will now. Thank you.  What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organization. I accept it as a sign that I should continue. All I have is what I leave behind. All I am is what I do." His memoir, My Name Is Why, will be published by Canongate Books in August.


Book Review

Review: The Government Lake

The Government Lake: Last Poems by James Tate (Ecco, $24.99 hardcover, 96p., 9780062914712, July 2, 2019)

James Tate (The Lost Pilot), who died in 2015, has given the world one last wondrous poetry collection in The Government Lake. The 43 prose poems in this collection defy easy categorization. Perhaps they're best described as parables for the peculiar moral lessons they impart, but they're especially surreal ones, full of strange characters and dream imagery, bending reality with a nonchalant assurance reminiscent of the great magical realists more than other contemporary poets. Tate is a builder of small whimsical worlds, and the reader must not so much suspend disbelief as surrender all expectations upon entering.

The book opens with "Eternity," in which a man's wife begins laying eggs. Their house becomes populated with chicks until a fox sneaks in and eats them all. After this bizarre occurrence, the couple tries to get back to a normal life. In an ending that's typical of Tate--when the reader is invited to shift perspectives and consider a lesson--the husband minimizes the whole incident until the wife reminds him: "To the chicks it was an eternity." In "Into the Night," a nun spontaneously combusts, only to come back to life. In "The Seahorse," the main character fills with gas and floats off to sea. These events are portrayed as ordinary happenstance, which makes the poems all the more alluring, as if Tate has stumbled upon another dimension hidden in plain sight.

For all their otherworldliness, however, Tate grounds his poems in the human dimension. His characters struggle to understand each other better, and sometimes they succeed. In "Partners," for instance, two coworkers bicker viciously about a project until they're both fired. At the end of the poem, they confess their secret love for each other and head out for a drink. In this way, Tate is a wry observer of the human condition, unmasking desires that live beneath the surface. In "Double-Trouble," a man makes a personal connection with a waitress. When she disappears, he goes to great lengths to search for her only to find her living in his attic: "She said she was sorry, but she just wanted to be closer to me and didn't know how to tell me." The tale, like so many of Tate's, ends on a weirdly heartwarming note.

The title poem is a bit different; it features a man stumbling upon a small lake. Like many of Tate's characters, the man seems to be yearning for something unnamed. Tate serves this ending, however, with deadpan irony, as the man is thwarted by a security guard who informs him the "government" lake is off-limits to the public. In this poem and others, a degree of absurdity creeps into life, and the characters are left baffled, without any neat resolution.

Whether quaintly sweet or unexpectedly sour, The Government Lake is fun to read. Tate is a master of wordplay and varying mood and effect. He is a wizard who will be missed. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: This posthumous collection of surreal prose poems shows James Tate at both his most absurd and tender.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Securing Sidney by Susan Stoker
2. What Do You Do With a Chance? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom
3. Bossman by Vi Keeland
4. The Nantucket Inn by Vi Keeland
5. Real Dirty by Meghan March
6. Because I Had a Teacher by Kobi Yamada and Natalie Russell
7. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
8. Ghost by Janie Crouch
9. The Gallaghers of Sweetgrass Springs Boxed Set Two: Books 4-6 by Jean Brashear
10. Twisted by Aleatha Romig

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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