Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 23, 2019

Tordotcom: The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Ballantine Books: The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Quotation of the Day

'I Owe My Continued Existence & Livelihood' to Indies

"As a reader, I still remember as a kid walking into a bookstore and for me it was like walking into a candy store. There was just so much to choose from. The independent booksellers are really responsible for my still being around. For a very long time I was what in the business they call a midlist author, and in this day and age, it's difficult to exist for very long as a midlist author. Publishers are reluctant these days to allow writers to grow, but the independent booksellers who knew my work, who knew me personally, who valued what I offered to the reading community, kept me alive by hand-selling me until finally, I began to see that wave crest. Really, I owe my continued existence and livelihood as a writer to all of the independent booksellers out there.

"On my tour for this book, I have somewhere between 55 and 60 stops, commencing in about two weeks and finishing up in early November, and I would say 95% of them are independent bookstores. I love doing the events. I have such a core of booksellers who have been supportive from the beginning, so I always want to make sure I'm able to do an event at their store to help them out. My publisher always wants me to visit stores that they have on their list, and I always want to reach out to new booksellers and get to meet them and make sure that we know one another. So my tours sort of continue to expand."

--William Kent Krueger, whose novel This Tender Land by (Atria Books) is the #1 September Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week


Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano


The Book Worm in Powder Springs, Ga., Begins Co-Op Push

The Book Worm in Powder Springs, Ga., officially began selling shares last weekend as owner Susan Smelser continues the process of transforming her independent bookstore into a cooperative business model. 

Smelser, who announced her plans to go co-op back in March, said it has taken much more work than expected, almost all of it involving legal matters. She and her interim board of directors have been busy creating things like the co-op's bylaws, disclosure statements and membership agreements, while making sure it's all above-board.

She reported that since March, she and her associates have gotten around $70,000 in pledges, and now they are in the process of getting back to everybody who pledged over the last five months. She added that her original plan has largely remained the same, except she has lowered the cost of becoming a full shareholder from $1,000 to $500, and, due to certain legal restrictions, can sell shares to people only in the state of Georgia.

Smelser, who plans to retire from bookselling by the end of the year, has a self-imposed deadline of October 1 to sell the store's 500 shares. Should it all work out, the shareholders will be buying the store and all of its inventory, while leasing the building from Smelser. Looking ahead, she said she would likely come up with a plan for the cooperative gradually to buy the building from her.

Over the next few weeks, Smelser and her shareholders will continue trying to get the word out and will look into launching a crowdfunding campaign. She reported being surprised that it isn't just avid readers who have gotten involved. Around half of her board, she said, are more interested in having the opportunity to "literally own a part of the community."

Smelser noted that other indie booksellers have expressed interest in her push to go cooperative, and she said she hopes her efforts can serve as something of a guide. To that end, any booksellers interested in seeing the co-op's documentation or asking questions can reach her here.

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

German Bookseller Wins Wi15 Fellowship

Florian Valerius

The Frankfurt Book Fair New York has named German bookseller Florian Valerius winner of the 2020 Winter Institute fellowship, which provides him with a trip to the U.S. to attend the 15th annual American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute in Baltimore in January. The award is a collaboration between Verlegertage (a collection of German publishers), the Frankfurter Buchmesse and Bookselling Without Borders.

Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions and BWB founder, said booksellers are "an absolutely vital link" to expand the reach of international literature. "We want you to be better informed, better connected, more involved in the international book scene; we want to expose you to the sophistication of international publishing. And in this way hopefully you become more effective advocates for our books."

Valerius is store manager at Stephanus Bücher, the oldest bookstore in Trier, where he apprenticed for two years (2004-2006) before joining as a full-time bookseller. He won the 2017 Buchblog-Awards, was the official blogger for the Deutscher Buchpreis (German Book Prize) in 2018, and his Instagram account @literarischernerd came in second for the "Goldene Blogger" Best Instagram Account. Valerius is currently a jury member for the 2019 Deutscher Verlagpreis (German Publishers Award), has recently won Börsenblatt's 2019 Young Excellence Award, and will publish his first co-authored book Leseglück--99 Bücher, die gute Laune Machen (Reading Bliss--99 Books That Brighten Your Mood).

"I can't tell you how blessed, thankful, happy and excited I am to be the first German ambassador for BWB in the United States," he said. "I'll try to give my best knowledge, empathy and bookworm addiction!"

GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Slevin Named Booksellers NZ Association Manager

Dan Slevin

Dan Slevin has been appointed association manager for Booksellers NZ by the organization's board and will assume the role in October, following the retirement of current CEO Lincoln Gould.

Slevin has more than 25 years experience working in all areas of the New Zealand media, including live entertainment, arts, events and the motion picture industries. He is the former marketing & communications manager at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, and before that was managing editor of Fishhead magazine. He has been a regular reviewer on RNZ National's Nine to Noon program "and is excited to soon be helping shape the next chapter of the association," Booksellers NZ noted.

Board chair Juliet Blyth commented: "Dan struck us immediately as the perfect fit for this role; his wealth of experience in adjacent sectors, his obvious book love and most of all his fundamental belief in the instrumental role Booksellers NZ plays in supporting a vibrant bookselling sector made him the clear contender for this role."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Patty Norman of Copperfield's Launches Bookstormer Foundation

Patty Norman, children's specialist and director of kids events at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma, Calif., has launched the Bookstormer Foundation, a nonprofit that will partner with Copperfield's to bring books to children in Title I schools.

Every school year, Copperfield's Books brings authors to dozens of schools in Northern California; going forward, every time Copperfield's brings an author to a Title I school, the Bookstormer Foundation will give a free copy of that author's book to every student who attends.

Patty Norman

Norman will continue to organize and plan children's events with Copperfield's and, as director of Bookstormer, she'll raise the funds necessary to purchase a copy of the author's book for each student who attends an author visit at a Title I school. She added that the books will be purchased from Copperfield's at a generous discount. A donation of $500 will provide a paperback book to every kid in an entire grade, while $1,000 will provide a picture book or hardcover book for an entire grade.

Last fall alone, Copperfield's brought 30 authors to 58 different schools. Audience sizes ranged from 11-550 students, and altogether the authors spoke to 11,890 students and 550 teachers. Norman explained that she has always tried to schedule authors to visit three schools--one Title I/low-income school, one middle-income school and one upper-income school--in the hope that the visits to the upper- and middle-income schools will subsidize the visits to the low-income schools.

Norman said she's wanted to do something more with the store's school visits for a long time. Last year, after three big events at Title I schools, Norman realized that now was the time. "Imagine, I thought, what we could do if I could provide books for every kid at low income school visits," she recalled. "What a difference it would make!"

The Bookstormer Foundation will kick off in the 2019-2020 school year, and every book it gives to a student will feature a bookplate and bookmark stating the name of the business or organization that helped provide that book.

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire

Obituary Note: Charles O'Donnell

Charles O'Donnell, one of the two owners of Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Ark., died August 13. He was 85. "With heavy hearts," the bookstore shared his obituary on Facebook, noting: "He will certainly be missed by many.... His memory will live on at the bookshop for all its days, and may they be many."

In 1978, O'Donnell co-founded Dickson Street Bookshop with his partner, Don Choffel. "The shop, as many will tell you, is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside," his obituary noted. "It's a labyrinth of long corridors, containing a hundred thousand worlds, waiting to be cracked open and read, books on any subject you can imagine--used & out-of-print. Charles had a special love for Irish literature and Irish history, and he made sure the shop reflected this deep interest, among others. The bookshop is an extension of his mind and soul, and always will be."

Eoghan O'Donnell told 5News that his father "was working on the bookshop up until the day he passed away. Even though he had oxygen, he was in a walker, he would sit in front of a computer, in front of the books and do work on the bookshop.... He often, even if you had a specific book, he would like to send them to the right section and tell them 'look around' because that's kind of the way to experience an old bookshop."


Image of the Day: CBC Diversity Happy Hour

The Children's Book Council held its first Boston Diversity Summer Happy Hour at Trident Booksellers and Cafe last night. Publishing professionals, booksellers and authors from the Boston area mingled, networked and took part in an #ownvoices book swap.

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics Is This Year's Great Big Romance Read

This year's Great Big Romance Read is The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, an LGBTQIA+ romance by author Olivia Waite.

Bea and Leah Koch, owners of The Ripped Bodice in Los Angeles, Calif., launched the Great Big Romance Read last year. The idea is to have romance readers the world over read the same book and join the discussion, either online or in person.

Interested readers can find a complete of Great Big Romance Read meetups here.

'16 Great Bookstores Along the Jersey Shore'

"A quick walk on any beach at the Jersey Shore confirms that reading remains a popular pastime for beachgoers," New Jersey Monthly reported. "And while digital might dominate elsewhere, reading an actual book on the beach guarantees you won’t get sand in your e-reader. We scoured the Shore and discovered 16 independent bookshops worthy of your attention. Some sell new books and some sell used, but all aim to get the perfect book into a beach reader’s hands. Most are family-friendly, too. Here they are, from North to South."

Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House Publisher Services

Allison Devlin has been appointed a sales director in client sales at Penguin Random House Publisher Services. Most recently she was v-p, director of book sales and marketing at F&W and earlier held executive sales, marketing and publicity positions at Running Press, Penguin Random House, Watson-Guptill, Little, Brown, HarperCollins and DK.

Media and Movies

Movies: The Trail; Motherless Brooklyn

Imagine Kids+Family is teaming with Scholastic Entertainment for a film adaptation of Meika Hashimoto's YA novel The Trail, with Quinn Emmett writing the script, Deadline reported. Imagine Kids+Family president Stephanie Sperber and Scholastic Entertainment president Iole Lucchese and senior v-p and general manager Caitlin Friedman are set as producers. Imagine's Katie Donahoe and Will Davis will serve as creative executives on the project.

"I'm so grateful to be making this film alongside everyone at Imagine and Scholastic," said Emmett. "Even though I'm technically not 12 anymore, I still haven't outgrown all of my own insecurities, and retain my love for hiking, camping, and embarking on reckless adventures. And I'm proud to say I'm nearly self-reliant. I identify deeply with the themes of friendship, loyalty, loss, and the struggle to find my own personal strength."


The official trailer has been released for Motherless Brooklyn, based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Edward Norton wrote, directed and stars in the film, "which uses the main character... to tell a new neo-noir narrative."

The cast also includes Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Leslie Mann, Ethan Suplee, Dallas Roberts, Josh Pais, Robert Ray Wisdom, Fisher Stevens, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe.

Motherless Brooklyn will have its New York premiere during the closing night of the 2019 New York Film Festival on October 13. The film will also screen at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Books & Authors

Awards: Carla Cohen Free Speech Winner; Wainwright Golden Beer Book Winner

Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett Krosoczka (Graphix) has won the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association's Carla Cohen Free Speech Award. NAIBA called Hey, Kiddo "a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive." The book was a National Book Award finalist.

Calling the Carla Cohen award "a profound honor," Krosoczka said, "When I wrote my graphic memoir, I knew I needed to approach it with an unflinching honesty. The book is filled with difficult truths that are mirrored in the lives of so many of our young readers. Thank you for validating my and their experiences!"

Krosoczka will be given the prize at the awards banquet on October 16 during the NAIBA Fall Conference in Cherry Hill, N.J.


Robert Macfarlane won the 2019 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize, which celebrates the best books about nature, travel and the outdoors, for Underland: A Deep Time Journey. The winner receives £5,000 (about $6,130), a keg of Wainwright Golden Beer and a full set of the latest Wainwright pictorial walking guides.

Chair of judges Julia Bradbury commented: "Robert has been shortlisted for the prize four times now, so, it feels right that this book, which we all considered to be his best book, has finally won. He writes in a beautiful, lyrical style and this book is a claustrophobic thriller of sorts. He takes his subject, and excavates it comprehensively."

Reading with... Steve Cavanagh

photo: Kelly M Photography

Steve Cavanagh is the author of the Eddie Flynn series. His debut novel, The Defense, was nominated for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for Thriller of the Year, and The Plea won the Prix Polar Award for Best International Novel. His third novel, The Liar, won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year 2018. Along with Luca Veste he is the host of the podcast Two Crime Writers and Microphone. His latest release is Thirteen (Flatiron, August 13, 2019).

On your nightstand now:

I tend to end up reading two or three books at the same time, flitting between them all. I'm currently reading The Book of Bones by John Connolly. This is the latest Charlie Parker thriller which sees Parker traveling the globe in search of an immortal killer. The prose is as gorgeous as you might expect from Connolly. The other book I'm reading is I Spy by Claire Kendal, a psychological thriller and le Carré-esque mash up--really well done.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Two books stand out--The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved Adrian Mole because it was a great portrait of adolescence and it served as a kind of survival manual to let you know that the stuff you were dealing with was normal, and someone else was going through the exact same thing. It was also really funny. I loved The Lord of the Rings because of the escapism. I grew up during the Troubles in Belfast, in the 1980s, and to have an entirely different world to go to every night was a life-saver. I also loved the relationship between Sam and Frodo, and how heroes could come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Your top five authors:

This is hell for me. I could tell you my top 50, no problem, but whittling it down to five is a nightmare. Today, as I'm writing, I would say Patricia Highsmith, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard. On another day it could be Harper Lee, John Grisham, Stephen King and John Connolly. Is that cheating to sneak in another four?  

Book you've faked reading:

To save face for the author I will not mention his name. I will say that I never faked reading it, but it became apparent to the author that I hadn't read it. Until very recently I was a lawyer, and many years ago, during my post-graduate studies at a particular university I had to study environmental law. The lecturer actually wrote the textbook for the course. All the exams were open book--that is to say, you were permitted to bring your course materials to the exam hall where you would be shut in for 7.5 hours to complete the written essays for the course under exam conditions. I figured that 7.5 hours was all the time I needed to study environmental law, which is pretty regulation-heavy. I can still remember the look of abject horror on my lecturer's face as I took his textbook out of my bag in the exam hall, ripped the cellophane wrapper off the book for the first time, during the exam, not having gone near the book in the previous six months of the course. I still feel a little bad about that. In case you're wondering, I passed the exam.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Chain by Adrian McKinty. He's been writing award-winning novels for years, and this is his breakout book. It's one of the finest thrillers I have ever read, and I'm not just saying that because we're good friends. I've told him and I tell everyone, this is a book that will be held up as a classic in years to come. The premise is Rachel's child is kidnapped, and in order to get her back she has to pay a ransom--and then kidnap another child. And so The Chain begins... (if you don't have goosebumps reading then you have a serious problem).

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. It's such a dark, beautiful, unusual cover with an eye staring through a keyhole at the center of the image. It was a really striking cover, and the book did not disappoint. It's an incredible ghostly tale of a young woman who moves into a large house--set in the Victorian era, if I remember correctly. The prose and the story were just as arresting as the cover.

Book you hid from your parents:

When I was 12, my mother gave me a copy of The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris and told me I would love it. Growing up during the Troubles meant that the most terrifying things were happening all around me, in real life and on the news. Reading Thomas Harris was light relief. Thankfully, I never had to hide a book from my parents.

Book that changed your life:

Writing my first novel changed my life completely, and I know for a fact I would not have written it without reading two books--Lee Child's The Hard Way and John Connolly's Every Dead Thing. These books were my introduction to those authors, and both are great American crime thrillers. I was amazed when I found out John is from Ireland and Lee is from England. I didn't know you could do that--that it was possible for people outside of the U.S. to write American crime fiction. All of my books are set in the United States. I have a career because of those guys. And I'm proud and still quite amazed to say both of them have become friends.

Favorite line from a book:

"It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody." --from The Brothers Behan by Brian Behan

Five books you'll never part with:

These are invariably signed copies or gifts. Forensics by Val McDermid, The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly, Puckoon by Spike Milligan (everyone should have a copy in the house; it's funny and silly and good for the soul), The Midnight Line by Lee Child and Time of Death by Mark Billingham.

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

I think Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I loved that twist. It is a masterfully crafted thriller and one which deserved every success and accolade. A contemporary classic.

Books that I want to see written and published in my lifetime:

I really, really want Thomas Harris to write another Hannibal thriller. I haven't read his latest, Cari Mora, but I think he hasn't quite wrapped up the relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal--there's another story to be told and I really want Harris to tell it. Sadly, I don't think he will.

Book Review

Review: Spider Love Song and Other Stories

Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au (Acre Books, $17 paperback, 184p., 9781946724205, September 15, 2019)

Fractured families populate Nancy Au's provocative 17-story debut collection, highlighting disappearing parents--whether by choice or by death--and the children left to endure and survive. Au draws on her Chinese heritage in her narratives. Some of her characters are deeply affected by recent history: some are escaping the horrific tragedy of the Cultural Revolution, and others have the in-between identity of being an immigrant. Still others are steeped in a cultural legacy that incorporates magic, fox spirits and dragon gods. Lest readers worry that darkness overshadows, Au proves herself quite adept at sly, affecting humor.

In the titular "Spider Love Song," a stranger knocks on the bright red door belonging to 10-year-old Sophie and her grandmother and requests their phone to call a tow truck. While she waits, the woman identifies herself as Owl, claiming to have been Sophie's mother's college roommate. Sophie knows this to be untrue--her mother commuted daily to school from home. She realizes Owl "is there to snoop," to test the village rumors about the "crazy" abandoned pair. Sophie's parents went missing three years ago; since then, Sophie wears only the elephant costume she had on the day of their disappearance.

Children without parents also surface in "Wearing My Skin," in which a mother and daughter "became [their] own Unit after Dad died," and seemingly thrive on the phone-sex calls that ring on the red Batman phone. In "Mom's Desert," a daughter recalls the day her philandering father moved out, and "Lincoln Chan: Pear King" features an angry teen finally recognizing envious loneliness in his orphaned best friend.

Resilient children are matched by irrepressible (even misbehaving) elders, including a warrior octogenarian in "She Is a Battleground," prepared to confront her "butter boy" detractors and "yank the fools' earlobes with joy, grab handfuls of shirt and rip them a new hemline." A nonagenarian mother in "This Is Me" is not yet ready to be packed away into a retirement home by her 70-year-old daughter. A feisty grandmother in "Bug-Dot Milk" barters free granola coupons after her 11-year-old granddaughter eats bug-infested cereal. And an acerbic, alcoholic Grandpa in "Duck Head" is cleverly outwitted--"brain first, mouth second"--by his daughter and granddaughter during Chinese New Year dinner.

Beyond the children and elderly, Au explores a potential need to escape the mundane and be free of expectations. In "Louise," a lesbian couple argue over adopting (kidnapping?) a half-blind, limping duck from a public park and living a life "being up in the air." In "The Fox Spirit," a younger sister risks parental disobedience and subsequent destruction to save her feverish Elder Sister. And in "Odonata at Rest," a middle-schooler learns about choice--in detention.

By the book's end, Au's unpredictable cast has embodied far-ranging history, cultures, locations and genres, with irreverently engaging results. For short-form connoisseurs, Au's accomplishments will undoubtedly regale and resonate. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Throughout most of Nancy Au's intriguing debut collection, the young and the elderly are left to face various challenges--both real and imagined--often in the wake of missing parents.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Protect Your Peepers While Binge-Reading at the Beach'

If you plan on spending some time outside this season, it's a good idea to pick up a pair or two of reading sunglasses--sunglasses with your power built in.'s Fine Print blog

The sand is bottoming out in this summer's hourglass. Time to put on those magic reading sunglasses "with your power built in" and catch the last rays of the season on a few more pages. 

I sun-read with Ray-Ban Aviators, which could be retro cool-ish, I suppose, except for the bifocal lenses. You may beach-read with shades from Maui Jim or Oakley or Prada or Krewe or Moscot or Persol or just off the rack at a beachside souvenir shop. Whatever your brand, however, reading books with sunglasses is as much a summer tradition as brightly colored paperback covers featuring people wearing sunglasses.

In fiction, shades are a traditional prop and sometimes even a plot device. Cops wear mirrored sunglasses to intimidate and movie stars wear oversized sunglasses to hide. Action heroes wear wraparounds. Spies and villains wear sunglasses at night, in casinos. At some point in most novels, a character will be putting on a pair of sunglasses or taking them off (sometimes with vigor, to make a point by using direct eye contact as a kind of superpower). This is known as moving the scene forward.

Why am I so interested in the sunglasses/book/reader connection? As often happens in my editorial job here at Shelf, a momentary obsession is prompted by items that pop up serendipitously in my daily online research. For example:

In its August issue, Vanity Fair featured a piece headlined "Kate Atkinson & Fendi, David Szalay & Prada: Great Summer Reads and the Shades to Pair Them With," along with the sub-head: "Protect your peepers while binge-reading at the beach."

Authors Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell will co-write (along with director Lana Wachowski) the script for the fourth film in The Matrix franchise, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity. Sunglasses for everybody!

Earlier this summer, Warby Parker Beach Reads opened at 50 Newtown Lane in East Hampton, N.Y. The 1,250-square-foot store "combines two things we love to do while at the beach--read books and eat ice cream. Inside you'll find frames, ice cream sandwiches, and a lending library full of beach reads."

Warby Parker Beach Reads

Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO, said, "East Hampton is a really special place for so many New Yorkers. We're incredibly excited to open our doors to such a wonderful community and, at the same time, support a place that means a lot to us: East Hampton Library.... We wanted to create a space that was unlike any other Warby Parker store, so we combined the two things we love doing out east--reading books by the beach and eating lots of ice cream sandwiches."

Not unrelated, Warby Parker just launched its third storefront in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, at Southlake Town Square, where its glasses "will be displayed on open oak shelving, alongside actual books and accessories.... It's a vibe that coincides with Warby Parker's fall collection, for which they partnered with New York Public Library."

Bill Walton (photo: NBC Sports)

Last Friday, Hall of Fame basketball player and legendary Grateful Dead fan Bill Walton brought his unique worldview to a sport he doesn't know much about when he "helped" call a White Sox-Angels baseball game in Chicago. Somehow he managed to work in a plug for Maui Jim sunglasses and recommend several books, including "practically everything ever written by Studs Terkel."

Although more late-summer vibe than reading sunglasses-themed, this Local France piece was also intriguing: "As families drag themselves off the beach and get ready to head back to school or work, France is gearing up for another tradition that's as French as the long summer holidays that precede it: the 'rentrée littéraire.' Every year, from mid-August until the end of October, publishers compete for readers' attention as hundreds of new books are released. For the rentrée this year, 524 novels will be published, of which 336 are French."

"After the summer, which is a very calm time in bookshops, I'm happy to get back to the exhilarating atmosphere of the rentrée, even if it's a lot of work," said Marie Balacker of Librairie Kléber in Strasbourg. In preparation for the autumn, she and her colleagues try to read at least 20 books each and will stock approximately 450 different releases.

Balacker did express some reservations about the rentrée littéraire: "What annoys me about having so many books in such a short space of time is that certain authors crush others with their enormity, and booksellers and readers miss out on smaller texts which deserve to be discovered." In response, however, "another phenomenon has been gaining traction in recent years," Local France wrote. "A second rentrée littéraire in January allows authors to find readers in a less crowded market."

It's all about perspective. For more information on how reading sunglasses can boost your end-of-summer doldrums, I refer all queries to Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly & James Dean: "Try these COOL, BLUE MAGIC sunglasses. They help you see things in a whole new way."

--Robert Gray (Column archives at Fresh Eyes Now)

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