Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 17, 2019


Tor Books: The Nine Realms Series by Sarah Kozloff

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

St. Martin's Press: Mind Over Weight: Curb Cravings, Find Motivation, and Hit Your Number in 7 Simple Steps by Ian K. Smith

Candlewick Press: Just Because by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Arsenault

Random House: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Quotation of the Day

Neighborhood Bookstore 'Is Somewhat of a Hybrid Model'

"Traveling to other parts of the country only to return to my favorite place (Athens, of course) gives me great perspective. It's not lost on me that Avid is well-loved and immensely respected in both our city and the literary world at large. I'm incredibly grateful for that--it's what I dared to dream of when I envisioned operating a community bookstore.

 

"But there's another side to the coin most don't see: financially speaking, I am more stressed out and concerned than I have ever been.... A neighborhood bookstore business like Avid is somewhat of a hybrid model: a for-profit entity that has a mission (and budget!) more similar to a local nonprofit. By design, we aren't just selling random widgets--we are fostering a love of reading, offering hundreds of free and low-cost events to the community each year, providing students with the opportunity to interact with a real-life author or illustrator, donating to organizations at least once a week, providing meaningful employment to lovers of literature, and so much more. Don't get me wrong: it feels amazing to be in this line of work. I can't imagine a job that's more perfect for me and my coworkers. But I'm concerned about the long-term viability of Avid and other independent bookshops."

--Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., from a letter to customers in her latest e-newsletter

Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


News

Bookstore Sales Rise 6% in April

Marking the first positive sales month this year, bookstore sales in April rose 3.4%, to $693 million, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the first four months of the year, bookstore sales fell 6%, to $3.07 billion.

By comparison, independent bookstores have done better than the Census Bureau average, which includes a range of retailers that sell books. Through April 18, almost as long as the four-month period measured by the Census Bureau, sales at ABA member stores, as reported to the weekly bestseller lists, are even with 2018.

Total retail sales in April rose 5.6%, to $511.1 billion. In the first four months of the year, total retail sales rose 2.6%, to $1.9 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


B&N Sale: Deadline Passes Without Competing Bid

 

The Elliott Management purchase of Barnes & Noble for $6.50 a share, or $475 million, announced 10 days ago moved closer to completion when a key deadline came and went last Thursday night without any other company or group making a competing offer for B&N. Over the weekend, it was confirmed that no competing bid had been received.

Until midnight on Thursday, if B&N accepted an offer from anyone else, it would have had to pay Elliott Management a $4 million breakup fee. Now the breakup fee is $17.5 million, adding a hurdle for a competing bidder.

The Wall Street Journal had reported last week that Readerlink had been working on a competing bid, and a shareholder group led by Richard Schottenfeld said B&N is worth more than what Elliott will pay for it and called for "a superior bid." The Elliott deal also has to be approved by shareholders and regulators.

Incidentally, B&N is issuing what may be its last public quarterly earnings results on Wednesday. Because of the Elliott deal, it will not host the usual conference call with stock analysts to discuss results.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas


The Bookloft in Great Barrington, Mass., Relocating

The Bookloft's current location

Pamela Pescosolido, who purchased the Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass., in 2016 from co-founders Eric and Ev Wilska, plans to move the indie bookstore to a new location at 63 State Road.

In a Facebook post, Pescosolido wrote: "I'm ready to officially share some exciting news: I have purchased a building; site plans have been approved by the Great Barrington Planning Board; we're sending out bid requests to contractors; and--fingers crossed--the expansion and remodeling should be done by April 2020 for the store to move to its new home!"

Sharing the architect's drawings of the site plan and garden design as approved, she noted: "We promise to keep the store feeling as friendly, engaging, and fully stocked as it is now, with added benefits like a small outdoor patio, event space, and a gas fireplace to keep cosy as you browse and read on those cold winter afternoons."


Familius: Now Part of the Workman Family!


Naomi Wolf's Outrages Postponed, Recalled

 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has postponed the publication of Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love by Naomi Wolf, which it planned to release in the U.S. tomorrow. The book was first questioned during a BBC Radio interview last month when it became apparent that Wolf had misunderstood a 19th-century legal term--"death recorded," which meant that a death sentence was not carried out--mistakenly stating that "several dozen" men had been executed in Victorian England for having sex with other men.

Initially the publisher said it was standing by the book, but late last week told the New York Times that there were more possible problems in the book. "As we have been working with Naomi Wolf to make corrections to Outrages, new questions have arisen that require more time to explore," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said. "We are postponing publication and requesting that all copies be returned from retail accounts while we work to resolve those questions." Her book tour is also being put on hiatus.

Wolf objected to the publication postponement and recall, saying in a statement, "I stand by my work. The misinterpretations I made, I directly acknowledged and took immediate action to correct; but many of the other critiques are either subject to interpretation or are themselves in error. A rebuttal article was underway. More responsiveness and more transparency are the right answers to criticism, and not the complete withdrawal of a text."

Outrages was published last month in the U.K. by Virago, which is standing by the book, according to the Bookseller. Virago said it will make "any necessary corrections to future reprints."


Obituary Note: Bill Loverd

Bill Loverd

Bill Loverd, who, as director of publicity at Knopf for nearly 40 years, "championed the work of some of the most distinguished writers of the last half of the 20th century, died June 13, Penguin Random House reported in a tribute posted online. He was 78. Loverd joined Knopf in 1965, when he was hired by the company's founder, Alfred A. Knopf, and retired in 2002. During his 37-year career, he served as v-p and director of publicity, as well as director of corporate affairs for Random House, Inc.

Loverd "was the very embodiment of the House of Knopf," PRH wrote. "He was a gentleman in every way, but he was also someone who demanded perfection. He was Knopf's greatest public standard bearer, but, when he felt it was necessary, he could also be its fiercest critic. As the head of a department whose chief responsibility was to garner publicity for its books and authors, Bill was famous in book-publishing circles for avoiding the limelight for himself. But, on our behalf, he had a regular table at the Four Seasons, and he was social with all the key media long before the advent of social media. He also orchestrated glamorous publication parties at the Plaza, the Rainbow Room, the 21 Club, and the Russian Tea Room, for the likes of Katharine Graham, Walter Cronkite, Lauren Bacall, and Diana Vreeland. And he dashed off what must have been tens of thousands of personal notes, written by hand in his distinctive purple ink, to critics and book review editors around the country. But all the while he insisted that the books he promoted were not great because of his efforts; they were great because of the writers themselves and their editors."

PRH noted that Loverd "shined the light on some of the our most memorable books. And for that, he led an incomparable life." A private service will be held in the fall. Memorial donations may be made to Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice, 99 Sparta Avenue, Newton, N.J. 07860. Online condolences may be made here.


Notes

Image of the Day: MacFarlane & Lopez

 

Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., hosted Robert MacFarlane, whose new book is Underland (Norton), in conversation with Barry Lopez, author of Horizon (Knopf).


Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

At Simon & Schuster:

Allison Stegeland has been promoted to the newly created position of international sales manager. She will continue oversight of distribution for titles published in the U.S. into the U.K., Canada, India, and Australia while adding responsibilities for further coordination with the international sales team in the U.K. She first joined the company in 2017 as sales coordinator with the e-audio sales team and became sales associate with the international sales team in 2018. Earlier she worked in the contracts department at Penguin Random House.

Shannon Grant has joined the independent sales team as field sales account manager for the Southern California and Arizona region as well as select educational jobbers. Grant formerly was senior children's book buyer at Books Inc. and earlier was the book department manager at Vroman's.

Gabrielle Greco has been named telesales manager. She formerly was sales coordinator for the digital and international sales team.

Melissa Hurt is joining S&S as telesales manager. She has been sales support coordinator for special markets at HarperCollins.


Bookshop Marriage Proposal: Strand Book Store

 

Posted on Facebook by the Strand Book Store, New York City: "Congrats to David-Christopher Harris and Reina Glenn! This elusive scavenger hunt of a proposal included friends of the couple secretly flying in from around the country to hide in sections of the Strand, where they surprised Reina with a personally inscribed book. When she finally arrived in the Rare Book Room, which had been decked with Jane Austen texts since Reina wrote her dissertation on Jane Austen's letters, she found the biggest surprise of them all!"



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Louise Aronson on Fresh Air

Today:
Fox & Friends: James Murray and Darren Wearmouth, authors of The Brink: An Awakened Novel (Harper Voyager, $25.99, 9780062868961).

NPR's 1A: The Try Guys, authors of The Hidden Power of F*cking Up (Dey Street, $24.99, 9780062879615).

Fresh Air: Louise Aronson, author of Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life (Bloomsbury, $30, 9781620405468).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Preet Bharara, author of Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525521129).

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning: Neil Irwin, author of How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World: The Definitive Guide to Adapting and Succeeding in High-Performance Careers (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250176271).


On Stage: To Kill a Mockingbird

Four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris, most recently on Broadway in Taking Sides, will succeed Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Playbill reported. Daniels will conclude his Tony-nominated run until November 3, with Harris beginning performances November 5 at the Shubert Theatre.


Books & Authors

Awards: Walter Scott and RSL Encore Winners

The Long Take by Robin Robertson (published in the U.S. by Knopf) has won the £25,000 (about $31,470) 2019 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which "celebrates quality, and innovation of writing in the English language, and is open to books published in the previous year in the U.K., Ireland or the Commonwealth... the majority of the storyline must have taken place at least 60 years ago." Robertson is the first Scot and first poet to win the prize in its 10-year history.

The judges said, in part: "The Long Take recounts the inner journey of Canadian veteran Walker as he travels from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco attempting to rebuild his life after living through the horrors of war in Europe. In poetry of the utmost beauty, Robin Robertson interweaves themes from the great age of black and white films, the destruction of communities as cities destroy the old to build the new, the horrors of McCarthyism and the terrible psychological wounds left by war.

"Robertson shows us things we'd rather not see and asks us to face things we'd rather not face. But with the pulsing narrative drive of classic film noir, the vision of a poet, and the craft of a novelist, The Long Take courageously and magnificently boosts the Walter Scott Prize into its next decade."

---

Sally Rooney won the Royal Society of Literature's £10,000 (about $12,590) Encore Award for best second novel of the year for Normal People (published in the U.S. by Hogarth).

Prize judge Edmund Gordon called the novel "an instant classic" that is "written with great intelligence, maturity, and sureness of touch"; Nikita Lalwani praised Normal People as "a fearless, indelible excavation of the politics of desire" and a "triumph of ambition and rightfully a classic for our times"; and Eley Williams observed that the "book's genius perhaps lies in the way assumptions or assertions of powerfulness and powerlessness--their erotic charge as well as their banality--can shape a person or the courses of lives."


Reading with... Susan Jane Gilman

photo: Guillaume Megevand

Susan Jane Gilman is the author of three nonfiction books, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and the novel The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street, which was a Target Club Pick for 2015. She has been a commentator for National Public Radio, and written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Real Simple, the Guardian, the Daily Beast and Ms., among many others. She teaches writing and speaks to audiences worldwide. Her TED talk on the creative process can be viewed here. Gilman's new novel is Donna Has Left the Building (Grand Central, June 4, 2019).

On your nightstand now:

There's a Japanese word, tsundoku, for buying books and letting them pile up in your home without reading them. That's what happens with my nightstand. Yet it's not because I don't read, but rather because I often read three or four books at once, so finishing them takes a while. At the moment, I've got a dozen books stacked beside my pillow: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah, The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan, New Boy by Tracy Chevalier, When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine, The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, Savage Feast by Boris Fishman, What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker by Damon Young and Lucky Us by Amy Bloom. That should keep me out of trouble for the next few months.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oooh, I absolutely loved Eloise as a child. I still do. I've rarely come across a fictional character that I could relate to quite so much (minus the wealth, the nanny, and the maternal abandonment at the Plaza Hotel, of course). But Eloise is a little girl renegade for the ages--outspoken, wildly imaginative, precocious and wholly un-self-conscious. She's a great antidote to all the Disney princesses of the world, and she always seemed to me to have much more fun than anyone else. I've recently had the great pleasure and joy of getting my youngest niece obsessed with her, too.

Your top five authors:

This is tough because I've been besotted with different authors at different times in my life--from Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume's books when I was in elementary school in the 1970s to Tobias Wolff, Lorrie Moore and Raymond Carver when I was getting my MFA in creative writing in my 20s, to my Sebastian Faulks, Irène Némirovsky, Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Díaz phases later on. My tastes have changed over time.

But the five authors whose work inspired me the most to become a writer as a teenager were some of the now "Old Schoolish" modern American writers: John Steinbeck, Dorothy Parker, Toni Morrison, John Cheever, and Truman Capote. They're the ones to blame in the end.

Book you've faked reading:

To my great shame, I've only read the CliffsNotes for Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Who the hell does that? They're actually short and eminently readable! But I had to read them one week in 11th grade when I had back-to-back exams in history, trigonometry and chemistry, so I took a "short cut." It was beyond pathetic. I keep meaning to go back and read Chaucer for real, but I never do.

Since I'm in confession mode, I'll also own up to only skimming the second half of Don Quixote and to starting Ulysses no less than five times without ever getting past page seven.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I've been obsessed with Isabel Wilkerson's stunning nonfiction book, The Warmth of Other Suns. She brings to life a whole swath of uncharted American history--that of the great black migration from the American South during the 20th century. She writes with incredible power, depth and detail; it's no wonder she's won a Pulitzer Prize. I felt like I was reading three novels all at once while taking a crash-course in American history that I thought I knew, but didn't. I bought copies for everyone in my family as gifts. It's a must-read.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A book's cover is never a selling point for me. It might compel me to pick up a book and look at it, but I always read the first few pages to decide whether I want to buy it. A few books that grabbed me this way were Transit by Rachel Cusk, Money by Martin Amis, A Handbook for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

Book you hid from your parents:

The one I'm about to publish! In the past, I've sent both my parents advance reading copies of my books. Donna Has Left the Building, however, has remained under wraps.

Book that changed your life:

Every single book I've read has affected me in some way. But when I read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath as a teenager, it just slayed me. Oh, that ending! I closed the cover, and I wept. That novel laid bare the full power of fiction; it elevated storytelling to a whole new level. I remember wishing I'd written it--and also suspecting that I'd never be able to write anything equal to it, no matter how hard I tried.

Favorite line from a book:

"Valencia was a striking, tightly-wound Columbian woman with a closet full of short skirts and a singular talent for appalling her neighbors."

This is from David Sedaris's essay collection Me Talk Pretty One Day. I love it because it manages to convey a full-blown character in a single sentence. You see her, you hear her, you grasp her neurosis and her behavior and the way she impacts the world around her--seemingly unwittingly. It's colorful, economical and funny. I cite it all the time when I teach creative writing as an example of brilliantly deployed significant detail.

Five books you'll never part with:

Have you seen my nightstand? I'll never part with anything. But besides the most-cherished, aforementioned Eloise, The Grapes of Wrath and The Warmth of Other Suns, I'd hold fast to Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Collected Short Stories of John Cheever and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (because it's long and epic, and if I only have five books to read and re-read...).

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

When I was first reading Anna Karenina, I was about halfway through the story when a friend exclaimed, "Oh, is that the novel where--?" and proceeded to blurt out the entire ending. I was too far gone to put the book down at that point, but the suspense and the magic of the book was ruined. I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time, innocent of any foreknowledge.

Your books have often been described as laugh-out-loud funny. What authors have made you laugh?

Oddly enough, I don't think of myself as a humorous writer--and odder still, perhaps, I find very few "hilarious" books funny, even though I love to laugh. Besides David Sedaris, whom I quoted above, I did laugh out loud reading Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Marc Acito's How I Paid for College and Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You. Most recently, I found myself snort-laughing through Adam Smyer's debut novel, Knucklehead. It's scathingly funny. Roddy Doyle has a real gift, too. And for years, Cynthia Heimel's work inspired and charmed me, especially her essay "Girls Watch Porn."


Book Review

Review: Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past

Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past by Sarah Parcak (Holt, $30 hardcover, 288p., 9781250198280, July 9, 2019)

Space archeology sounds like science fiction: a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Coincidentally, those were Sarah Parcak's favorite movies when she was growing up. But Parcak is now an Egyptologist, a professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and an actual space archeologist--she uses high-tech satellite imagery in her on-the-ground work. Archaeology from Space introduces the burgeoning subfield to the uninformed (but curious) and explores how it is transforming the work of people like Parcak and her colleagues.

Parcak shares her childhood fascination with archeology and her experience on digs, both as a student and a professional. She gives a brief history of space archeology, highlighting the role of aerial photographs, remote-sensing technology and more recent advances in satellite imagery from NASA and other organizations. She then delves into the stories of specific digs and projects she has worked on, which have been profoundly shaped by insights gained from comparing satellite images to sights on the ground. Parcak's love for her field and her deep wonder and excitement come through on every page.

"Discovering a city is only the beginning," she says. Archeologists ask a wealth of questions about every site they come across, and the true gift of her work is "the opportunity to search for those answers." She spends one chapter spinning a vivid narrative about an Egyptian family and their livelihood, extrapolated from the bones of a woman found at Tell Ibrahim Awad. The story takes artistic license, of course, but shows what is possible to imagine from findings at a site. Bones, pottery fragments, building foundations and other finds can re-create the stories of an entire society. With her work on four continents, Parcak has already seen a wealth of such stories emerge from the ground.

Parcak also shares the story of several crowdsourcing projects that are making space archeology available to anyone online, including GlobalXplorer, which she helped found. While she deeply respects and values the expertise of professionals like her colleagues, she believes the stories of ancient ruins and the joy of discovery and exploration should be available to everyone. She calls archeology "a hope machine for humanity," and believes strongly that the field can offer insights into the human condition, past and present. And her enthusiasm is infectious.

Clear, accessible and fascinating, peppered with witty asides and informative photos, Archaeology from Space is an excellent introduction to an exciting subfield that's still flying under the (satellite) radar. As Parcak herself says, quoting another of her heroes: "The game is afoot. Expect surprises." --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Egyptologist Sarah Parcak enthusiastically introduces readers to the growing field of space archeology.


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