Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 21, 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

Quotation of the Day

'Thank You, Dear Booksellers'

 

"The bookshops in my life have been many and varied. They have been spread over four floors, and they have been so tiny they barely had room for customers. They have sold new books and second-hand books; rare books and pile-em-high books. They have had many employees, and they have had just one; but all with one thing in common--a passion for books.

"I love watching a bookseller when a customer asks them to recommend a book. Their eyes light up, words tumbling out as they lead the way to the back of the shop: 'Absolutely her best yet… should have won the Booker, in my view'….

"I cannot finish this letter without thanking you for the support you give to writers. It makes sense, I suppose (bookshops would be empty places without books, after all), but you are so unfailingly lovely to us. I wrote most of my debut novel in an independent bookshop, expecting derision when I admitted what I was doing. Instead I was met with how brilliant! I look forward to hosting your launch party. And they did.

"Thank you, dear booksellers, in independent shops both large and small, for everything you do. Both as a reader, and as a writer, I am truly grateful."

--Author Clare Mackintosh, from her "letter to booksellers during Independent Bookshop Week," via the Bookseller (more IBW19 coverage in Robert Gray's column below).

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


News

B&T's Cully Retiring, Kochar to Head Company

David Cully

David Cully, president of Baker & Taylor since 2017, is retiring at the end of August, the company announced. He joined B&T in 2008, heading retail and merchandising before being appointed president a year after Follett bought the company. Earlier he worked at Barnes & Noble, where he was president of B&N Distribution, Simon & Schuster, Putnam Berkley Publishing Group and Waldenbooks.

In the wake of Cully's retirement, Amandeep "Aman" Kochar has been named executive v-p of B&T and will lead the business, the company said. Kochar joined B&T in 2014 and most recently led the public library sales and technology departments.

B&T said that Cully's accomplishments have included leading B&T "through many significant changes from the divestiture of the academic library and wholesale club businesses, to the acquisition of Bookmasters (now Baker & Taylor Publisher Services), to the transition to Follett ownership in 2016. Most recently David led the recent shift in business operations at Baker & Taylor to renew its focus on the core public library and publisher service businesses." (In early May, B&T announced that it was leaving the wholesale retail book market and will no longer sell to bookstores.)

Follett president and CEO Pat Connolly commented: "Since I joined Follett, David has been a valued and trusted member of my executive team. I will miss his wise and pragmatic counsel, exemplary character and quick sense of humor. I know he will enjoy this next chapter in life, returning to teaching, reading even more voraciously and spending time with his family."


Soho Press: The Seep by Chana Porter


Semicolon Bookstore Opens in Chicago, Ill.

Danielle Mullen

Semicolon Bookstore, an independent bookstore featuring a gallery space for local artists, has opened in Chicago, Ill., owner Danielle Mullen announced. Mullen, a local entrepreneur and author, said she was inspired by her love of reading in museums.

"I wanted literature and art to kinda collide and create this experience that would further connect the two worlds--or at least cause a lover of one to want to know more about the other," explained Mullen.

The gallery space is located downstairs from the bookstore, and each month a different artist will be in residence there. Plans for book events, meanwhile, include author readings, book signings and more.

The store had its soft opening on June 8, and has nearly a week of grand-opening festivities scheduled from July 9 to July 13.


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


Commonplace Books Opens Texas Pop-Up

 

Commonplace Books, an independent bookstore that opened in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 2017, has opened a second location, in Fort Worth, Tex., Dallas News reported.

According to owner Benjamin Nockels, the new store, which resides in a 1,000-sq.-ft. space in Fort Worth's WestBend shopping village, is starting out as a one-year pop-up, a way of testing whether Fort Worth would be suitable for a permanent location. Nockels also told D Magazine that roughly a year ago, the developers who own WestBend approached him and his team, and before long the two parties had formed a partnership.

 

Like the original store in Oklahoma City, the Fort Worth location organizes its inventory in unusual sections, such as historian, mystic, creative and intentionalist. Plans for events include lectures and poetry readings.

The store's official grand opening is tomorrow, June 22, and the festivities will include free coffee, juice and doughnuts and well as 15% off purchases throughout the day.

"Our heart is to serve a city, get to know our neighbors and be a part of a community," Nockels told Dallas News.


WORD Bookstore Jersey City Closing Café

 

WORD Bookstore in Jersey City, N.J., will close its café June 24. In a Facebook post, WORD wrote: "While we will miss keeping ourselves caffeinated as much as you, we have decided to focus on what we do best: providing our Jersey City community with great books, stationery, gifts, and the awesome events you've come to love. We will be offering some cafe items at a discount over the next week or so and hope you will find Modcup coffee at one of their nearby cafes. Thanks for supporting WORD cafe over the years, looking forward to a new chapter for our shop!"


D.C.'s Idle Time Books Renamed Lost City Books

 

Reflecting the sale of Idle Time Books, Washington, D.C., in January and the retirement of founder Val Morgan, new owner and operator Adam Waterreus has renamed the store Lost City Books.

Waterreus said that the store plans to stay in the Adams Morgan neighborhood and "is dedicated to remaining the neighborhood staple that Idle Time Books has been: a fantastic and idiosyncratic institution that proudly served the neighborhood for 36 years... a place for the bookworm and the intellectually curious, a bookstore engaged in culture both past and present, and a place full of unique and rare books--but we also intend to update the store and to revive it as it enters the next phase of its life in this neighborhood and in this city."

Waterreus added, "The store needed an update and I think changing the name will signal that. We're making some changes, but we're trying to take it slow and to be thoughtful about what we change. We'll remain a place where intellectualism, creativity, openness, and a love of books are a priority." The store will be renovated later this summer to provide more retail space and community event space.

Lost City Books will continue to sell primarily used and rare books but will also offer "highly curated newly published titles, handpicked gift items, and a nuanced selection of ephemera."


Obituary Note: Susannah Hunnewell

Susannah Hunnewell, publisher of the Paris Review "and a prominent member of its literary circles for three decades," died June 15, the New York Times reported. She was 52. Hunnewell joined the magazine as an editorial intern in the late-1980s, "when it was run out of an 8-by-14-foot office in the Upper East Side brownstone of its co-founder and editor George Plimpton." She was named publisher in 2015.

"She really cared about the possibilities of a literary magazine," said author Mona Simpson, a member of the board. "The Paris Review is known for its hysterically extensive masthead, and Susannah was the only person in the world who could coax all these founders, editors, associates, readers, contributors and board members not only to get along but to have wild fun together."

A tribute posted by the Paris Review mourned Hunnewell as a "friend, colleague, and luminous presence at the magazine." When she started, Plimpton "quickly recognized her literary precociousness, commitment to international literature, and 'herculean' work ethic.... Those early years at the magazine were fortuitous in another way: it was during her first summer in the cramped office on East Seventy-Second that she met Antonio Weiss, then the magazine’s associate editor, whom she would marry in 1993."

In 2000, Hunnewell and her family moved to Paris, and she became the magazine’s Paris editor in 2005. Last November, in a ceremony at the French Consulate, she "became a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contributions to literature (she also worked at George, Marie Claire, and the New York Times, and was a founding board member of the Albertine Bookshop)," the Paris Review wrote. "Among her many meaningful efforts on both sides of the Atlantic, it is her long engagement with the Paris Review that defines her literary career. Her three decades with the magazine, a span made better by her intelligence, kindness, and great spirit, have left an indelible imprint on the Paris Review."


Notes

Image of the Day: 'Foreign Babe' in Beijing Bookstore

Early this month, Rachel DeWoskin, author and former star of the Chinese soap opera Foreign Babes in Beijing, visited China, where she read from her latest YA novel, Someday We Will Fly (Viking Books for Young Readers), about a Jewish refugee in Shanghai during World War II, and did a history walk around the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai. One of her readings was at the Bookworm bookstore in Beijing, where China's biggest rock star, Cui Jian, was in attendance. At the Bookworm: (from l.) Rachel DeWoskin, Cui Jian, Zhang Quan and Sunny Leight.


S&S to Distribute Ulysses Press

Effective January 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution worldwide for Ulysses Press.

Founded in 1983, Ulysses Press, Berkeley, Calif., publishes cookbooks, DIY and crafting, education, pop culture and wellness books. Its best-known titles include The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley, 2Fish by Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo, the I Love Trader Joe's series, the Dirty Language series and Hidden Hawaii by Ray Riegert.


Chronicle to Distribute Levine Querido

Arthur A. Levine

Chronicle Books will distribute Levine Querido, the new children's publisher created by Arthur A. Levine, in North America and select export territories. Levine Querido will begin publishing in fall 2020; the company's first list includes Everything Sad Is Untrue (A True Story) by Daniel Nayeri, an autobiographical middle grade novel; Apple: Skin to the Core, a YA memoir-in-verse by Eric Gansworth; and Elatsoe, a YA debut from Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai.

Levine, the longtime Scholastic publisher and editor responsible for introducing Harry Potter to the U.S., founded the new company with Dutch publisher Querido. Levine Querido will have two lists: the Arthur A. Levine list will focus on the writing and artwork of authors and creators from underrepresented backgrounds, including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, indigenous artists and writers, creators with disabilities and more. The Em Querido list will focus on translations of Querido titles into English.



Media and Movies

Movies: Little Women

Vanity Fair showcased a first look at the movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women, which is written and directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) and stars Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson (Meg), Florence Pugh (Amy), Eliza Scanlen (Beth), Timothée Chalamet (Laurie), Laura Dern (Marmee) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March).

"This feels like autobiography," Gerwig said. "When you live through a book, it almost becomes the landscape of your inner life.... It becomes part of you, in a profound way."

Gerwig shot on location in the book's Massachusetts setting, where Alcott and her three sisters grew up. "It gives gravity to what you're doing," Ronan said. "The physical place really reminds you of the story you're trying to tell."

The director also relied on paintings from the era "to give the film a vividness that the black-and-white and sepia portraits of the era couldn't accomplish," Vanity Fair wrote. "An 1870 painting by Winslow Homer called High Tide created the texture for the beach scene; costume designer Jacqueline Durran modeled Jo's look after a figure in the work."

"They were just people. They were not in a period piece, they were just living," Gerwig added. "They were the most modern people who had ever existed, up till that point."


Books & Authors

Awards: Toronto Book Longlist

A longlist has been released for the 2019 Toronto Book Awards, which honor "books of literary merit that are evocative of Toronto." The shortlist will be announced August 15, and a winner named October 2. The winner receives CA$10,000 (about US$7,580) and each shortlisted author gets CA$1,000 (about US$755). This year's longlisted titles are:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Be With: Letters to a Caregiver by Mike Barnes
Building Resistance: Children, Tuberculosis, and the Toronto Sanatorium by Stacie Burke
Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurants by Ann Hui
Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis
Late Breaking by K.D. Miller
Reproduction by Ian Williams
The Student by Cary Fagan
The Ward Uncovered: The Archaeology of Everyday Life, edited by John Lorinc, Holly Martelle, Michael McClelland & Tatum Taylor Chaubal
Theory by Dionne Brand
They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada by Cecil Foster
This Country of Mine by Didier Leclair


Reading with... Barnaby the Goat

image: Rhys Davies

Barnaby the Goat was born and raised in San Francisco, Calif., where he spent much of his time eating and reading in the stacks at the local library. He is an avid reader with a sensitive stomach, and books and food remain favorite topics. His later adventures with Truckee Wallace have been documented by Reed King in the novel FKA USA (Flatiron, June 18, 2019).

On your nightstand now:

Unfortunately, I woke up ravenous several nights ago and consumed both the remainders of the nightstand, which I had been savoring for several weeks, and several of the books I had been intending to keep for later. These were: Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope; The Portuguese in West Africa, 1415-1670 by Malyn Newitt; and Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. Say what you will, but his stories are absolutely delicious.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was a kid, I was for several years constrained to the campus of a vast biomedical center in which I had received operational consciousness. I do remember devouring a large Spanish-English dictionary that one of the lab techs used not infrequently as a doorstop. Pero mi español esta bastante oxidado.

Your top five authors:

Raymond Chandler--his language is so clean on the palette, but the words carry a mysterious aftertaste that lingers pleasurably in the mouth. I adore the Russians, of course, particularly Dostoyevsky--it is a special kind of writer who fills the stomach, and rends the heart in two. Shakespeare is always a pleasure--so dense and chewy. I love Stephen King for a little thrill of flavor here and there. And of course, I'm a fan of Harry Potter. Harry is, in fact, my patronus.

Book you've faked reading:

I admit I found the fourth volume of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past rather dry, not unlike the stale madeleine that I imagine was, by that point, hardening into calcification somewhere on the edges of his memory. Volume Five, however, is a real page-turner, with a pleasurably medicinal aftertaste that leaves a faint soupçon of self-satisfaction.

 

Book you're an evangelist for:

Knitting with Dog Hair: Better a Sweater from a Dog You Know and Love Than from a Sheep You'll Never Meet. A brilliant manifesto, a tearjerker and a penetrating look at the average sheep's completely disgusting personal grooming habits.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I was lucky to have spent many years living in solitude in an abandoned library, and enjoying exclusive access to every book in its sizable collection for free. But I did once enthusiastically consume A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, thinking it was some kind of cooking manual. It left my stomach quite unsettled.

Book you hid from your parents:

My poor mother was, of course, completely illiterate--she couldn't tell a letter from a lamppost, except in her digestive tract. My father was brilliant, but entirely consumed by his own self-loathing. It is an unfortunate irony that the human from whose brain my father's had been reconstituted happened to have the entirety of Kafka's Metamorphosis memorized.

Book that changed your life:

Animal Farm by George Orwell, undoubtedly: a delightful and light-hearted satire about the hilarious credulity of horses and the pompous aspirations of pigs. But it has a much deeper lesson: with determination and hard work, any animal may someday sit at a table and walk on two legs.

Favorite line from a book:

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." --John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn."

Five books you'll never part with:

I like to think that I have parted with none of them, at least not entirely. That is the benefit of my digestive tract, which quite efficiently renders all the books I've ever eaten into the biochemical energy I require to move, breathe, think, love and see--except, of course, for the extraneous passages. Excretions, I often think, are just proof of the body's editorial department.

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

The Little Prince. Although Exupéry cannot match Hegel or Schopenhauer for style, he vastly outmatches them both in philosophy.


Book Review

Review: The Helpline

The Helpline by Katherine Collette (Atria, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9781982111335, July 23, 2019)

When Germaine Johnson loses her job as a senior mathematician at an insurance company, the 30-year-old Australian numbers wiz and sudoku aficionado's life is upended. Data points, algorithms and variables are how Germaine--with a very high opinion of herself and her abilities--navigates the world: "I could estimate the probability--using a calculator and a pencil, no less--of any conceivable scenario. I could say with 93 percent accuracy that a sixty-eight-year-old smoker (male) on holiday in Thailand would lose his wallet within a week of arrival... a family of four from Melbourne en route to the Gold Coast was unlikely to miss a flight but highly likely to require medical assistance at some point. Age, place of residence, claims history--whatever the variable, I could make the numbers not only sing, but extemporize in four-part harmony."

Germaine may be mathematically brilliant, but her social skills are dismal. This makes her virtually unemployable. After Germaine's exhaustive search for a new position in the insurance industry, her cousin Kimberly offers a lead on a job at a council office in the city of Deepdene. The facility manages the senior citizens helpline, a phone-in service for older residents who need advice, or are lonely and need someone to talk to. The only skill required is the ability to listen empathetically--not a strong suit for opinionated Germaine. Kimberly warns: "You'd have to promise not to f--k it up, Germaine. Promise you won't be weird. No asking questions and no arguing. You just shut up and do whatever it is they tell you to do."

Germaine soon finds herself dealing with oddball peers and office procedures, manipulative higher-ups and quirky, troublemaking seniors who regularly call the helpline. Perceptive, painfully exacting and over-achieving, she soon catches the attention of the mayor, who asks Germaine to deal with a parking problem plaguing the senior center and an adjacent golf club. The task brings Germaine in contact with Don Thomas, who owns the club. At first meeting, Germaine instantly recognizes good-looking Don as Alan Cosgrove, the 2006 national sudoku champion. Alan was once a very positive influence--from afar--in Germaine's life. "Sort of like the father I never had," admits Germaine, who is instantly starstruck and smitten at their first meeting. But why has Alan changed his name to Don? Why is he managing a golf club? And is there really a parking problem, or is something else actually going on in town?

These questions form the basis of Germaine's inquisitive, moving and often madcap journey through the realities of everyday life, local politics and power plays; the meaning of friendship; and true love. Debut Australian novelist Katherine Collette delivers a hilariously observed story narrated by a clever, sympathetic protagonist who will charm readers with her captivating, incomparable style. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.

Shelf Talker: A fun, clever story about a 30-something numbers wiz who uncovers surprising truths about herself, her small Australian town and the people in it.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #IndieBookshopWeek in U.K. & Ireland

Independent Bookshop Week 2019 is happening now in the U.K. and Ireland. Run by the Booksellers Association as part of the Books Are My Bag campaign, IBW showcases indies with events, celebrations, reading groups, storytelling, author signings, literary lunches and the always popular #BookshopCrawl. More than 400 indies are participating in the festivities. Here's just a few highlights from the bookish revelry afoot:

IBW began with the announcement of this year's Book Award winners: Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls (adult category), Catherine Doyle's The Storm Keeper's Island (children's), and If All the World Were… by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys (picture book). The winners are presented with their awards in independent bookshops.

Richard E. Grant reads Alice's Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Dominic Cooper, Natalie Dormer, Michael Palin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nathalie Emmanuel, Richard E. Grant, Felicity Jones, Hanif Kureishi and James Norton are among the stars supporting grassroots campaign Just a Card, which has partnered with the Funding Circle to support independent bookshops through its Just a Book initiative.

IBW stat: The BA reported that 82% of indie booksellers had a different career prior to owning or working in their bookshop. The survey of 450 bookshops "revealed that before becoming booksellers people worked in a wide variety of fields, including software development, consultancy, radiography, investment banking, teaching, carpentry, HR and call centers with many citing their lifetime interest in books as being behind their career change," the Bookseller wrote.

The American Booksellers Association wished a "Happy #IndieBookshopWeek to our friends across the pond!" And Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich., tweeted: "In celebration of Indie Bookstore Week in the U.K. and the U.K. publication of Notes from a Public Typewriter, five U.K. bookstores set out public typewriters! Many thanks to @BookaBookshop, @RedLionBooks, @EdinBookshop, @ImaginedThings, and @DrakeBookshop!"

The Bookshop Band, which was a big hit on its U.S. tour, including Wi14 earlier this year, tweeted: "Hey folks, if you didn't know already it's Independent Bookshop Week #IndieBookshopWeek which means they will all have tons of indie-exclusive reading treats inside, so get yourself down to your local and discover a new brilliant story." Blast from the past: the Bookshop Band playing "A Shop With Books In."

IndieThinking (HarperCollins): "In association with @Literacy_Trust, we are so so proud to announce the recipients of the HarperCollins Literacy Project Grants for Independent Booksellers!"

Typewronger Books, Edinburgh

Gutter Bookshop, Dublin, shared a Canongate Twitter thread, noting: "Look at this beautiful bookshop! This is why we need to support & protect indie businesses (not just bookshops)--they make our towns and cities special & interesting & joyful. I wish govt action echoed people's enthusiasm for supporting local."

Poet Brian Bilston marked the beginning of IBW with his poem "A Bookshop Life," and St. Ives Bookseller "loved it so much we put it on our shop door!"

Other IBW highlights:

The Book Nook, Hove: "Happy birthday faces. It's been a beautiful day celebrating #IndieBookshopWeek and our 10th birthday with all our lovely customers. Thank you for all your support and kindness."

Kew Bookshop, Kew Village: "We are all ABUZZ here during Independent Bookshop Week! We had the lovely @catherinedoart and Lucy from @iconbooks this morning, creating a beautiful painted window to celebrate the paperback publication of #Buzz by Thor Hanson...." And later, at Mr. B's Emporium, Bath: "A visit today from the brilliantly talented @catherinedoart created quite the buzz! How fabulous is this window?!! Thank you so much."

Cogito Books, Hexham, has been showcasing its booksellers by posting interviews on twitter, including "our lovely window artist Mandy to share her bookish thoughts."

Round Table Books, Brixton Village, London: "Make sure to LOOK UP when you visit the shop this week or you might miss the beautiful work that @DapsDraws has done for us. If you're visiting this #IndependentBookShopWeek we also have his and @NathanBryon's book and their beautiful pins in store right now!! Going fast though."

The Snug Bookshop, Bridgwater: "Only 3 days left of #IndieBookshopWeek @NielsenBook @nielsen @booksaremybag which is good because the Tshirt needs a wash."

The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh: "We're not open for another month but hope everyone is having a great Independent Bookshop Week! We do have some excellent news however which is that today is the first day of our newest team member @slouisebarnard who we're really happy to have on board!"

The Margate Bookshop, Margate: "It's Independent Bookshop Week! And tomorrow marks three weeks since opening the shop--funny how quickly things start to feel normal! Here's a friendly reminder that Amazon is evil and I'm nice."

Nathalie Emmanuel reads I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

In the Guardian, author Damian Barr observed: "To reduce bookshops to selling is to mistake writing for typing or reading as a workout for your eyes. The best indies don't stock everything--every book must fight a sort of intellectual Hunger Games to win a space on the shelves.... If you get to know them, they get to know you and your tastes far better than any algorithm can. Indies that don't just survive but thrive do so because they celebrate and anchor a community....

"Every week is indie bookshop week in my house--I'm like one of those people who keeps their Christmas tree up all year. Books pile up on every surface, the half-finished lost among the much-loved, bath-swollen paperbacks compressed between hefty hardbacks. Layer upon layer of stories which will eventually form a pearl. A very dusty beautiful pearl."

The IBW celebration continues through Saturday.

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

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