Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


Olga Tokarczuk Opens the Frankfurt Book Fair

"I believe in literature which ties people together, which highlights what people have in common despite differences in skin color and sexual orientation, despite what separates us on the surface," said Polish author and Nobel Laureate Olga Tokarczuk at the opening press conference of the Frankfurt Book Fair yesterday morning. 

At the Frankfurt Book Fair opening press conference yesterday: (l.-r.) Heinrich Riethmüller, Olga Tokarczuk, Juergen Boos and Francis Gurry

Tokarczuk--who spoke along with Juergen Boos, president and CEO of the Frankfurt Book Fair; Heinrich Riethmüller, president of the Börsenverein, the German book industry association; and Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization--discussed how she found out about the award, her reaction and the current political climate in Poland.

She reported that she was on the road, in the midst of a book tour in Germany, when she stopped at a roadside restaurant on the way to a reading in the city of Bielefeld. She got the news by telephone, and by the time she arrived in Bielefeld that evening there was a large crowd gathered outside the city library, the Lord Mayor of the city was present wearing a gold chain, and there were "lots of microphones."

"I was given an extremely warm welcome," Tokarczuk continued. "My impression was, I'm amongst friends."

She described her writing as part of a "deeply rooted, multicultural tradition" that has existed for a very long time in Poland, but is "not something everybody is aware of." And while people often think of Poland now as a place striving for a "homogeneous structure," the country is the "result of the entwinement of many different cultures." She said she wonders sometimes whether it's "actually possible to describe this world," but nevertheless she believes in a kind of literature that "makes it clear, on a deeper level," that everyone is "tied together through invisible, but existing threads," and a kind of literature that speaks to a "lively, ever-changing world of unity, of which we are a small but not insignificant part."

Tokarczuk learned of her Nobel win just a few days before the Polish parliamentary elections, which saw the right-wing Law and Justice party win some 43% of the vote. She said she was "not very enthused" by the outcome of the election, but she was glad about the composition of the new parliament and particularly the many new representatives there.

When asked what effect another ruling majority for the Law and Justice party might have on artists and writers in Poland, Tokarczuk said things are most dire for cultural institutions that are controlled and funded by the government, and she noted that the right-wing government "has its own ideas about what art and culture are."

Literature, she said, would not fare as badly, because most publishing houses are privately owned and there is "nothing like" official censorship in Polish literature. But, she acknowledged, there is a growing, worrying trend of self-censorship in Poland. She added: "I can only hope that this development will not continue and affect literature."

Boos and Riethmüller, meanwhile, discussed the state of German publishing and the role of publishing in today's chaotic world. Boos said that in the years ahead publishers will not only have to embrace diversity, foster community among readers and make smarter use of data and analytics, but they--and the entire book industry, from booksellers to librarians to printers--will have to work hard to move toward a sustainable future and make sure that every process is carbon-neutral.

Riethmüller noted that for the first time in seven years, the German book market saw rising book sales in 2018. In particular, nonfiction titles are booming, especially in the nature and technology categories, and Riethmüller attributed these increases to consumers wanting to better understand the world around them. He, too, called for the book industry to move toward more sustainable practices, pointing out that nearly all German publishers already use paper from sustainable forestry. And in a time when many countries are "developing into non-democratic states," he reiterated that the Frankfurt Book Fair stands for "freedom of expression and open dialogue."

Gurry observed that as technology has changed ever more rapidly, the world has entered a period of "de-connecting," with the very idea of international cooperation under attack. When asked why, he suggested that there is a "deep disquiet" about the speed and radical nature of the changes people are experiencing, which has led to a widespread "reversion to fundamentalism." People are going back to old, reactionary values, and one of the most fundamental of those values is the fear of the foreigner. He remarked: "This is a big danger." --Alex Mutter

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

New Owners at Pilsen Community Books

Pilsen Community Books, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, has new owners. In July, Aaron Lippelt and Mary Gibbons put the bookshop up for sale so they could concentrate on the Dial Bookshop, which they opened in the Loop in November 2017.

Katharine Solheim, Mandy Medley and Thomas Flynn, who have 41 years of combined experience in the business, have purchased Pilsen Community Books.

"It was obvious to us almost immediately that Katharine, Thomas and Mandy were the right people for the job," said Lippelt and Gibbon in a statement. "Their passion for and experience with bookselling, their commitment to community-building, and their desire to build a sustainable business were undeniable."

The new owners of Pilsen Community books said they are committed to continuing the standards set by Lippelt and Gibbons: "As career booksellers, we understand that PCB is more than a store or a business. [It is] a refuge for literature, a strong defense against the ever increasing disposability of culture and one of the few remaining third places in our rapidly privatizing society."

South Florida's Book Cellar for Sale

The Book Cellar in Lake Worth Beach, Fla., is for sale. Owners Danica and Arvin Ramgoolam, who live in Colorado and operate Townie Books in Crested Butte, hope to pass the business along to an owner-operator in south Florida.

The bookstore opened in 2017 after an extensive renovation to the 2,300-square-foot space in historic downtown Lake Worth. The Book Cellar sells new books and sidelines, and has a popular café and wine/coffee bar located in the rear of the store. The store hosts an active events schedule, including book clubs, poetry readings, a monthly jazz night and partnerships with the Palm Beach County Library and other local organizations.

Owner Arvin Ramgoolam said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for someone to step into a bookseller role in a unique turnkey operation with a robust social media presence, diverse clientele and fun atmosphere." More information is available here.

Sidelines Snapshot: Candles, Cards, Buttons and Journals

From Row House 14

At Greedy Reads in Baltimore, Md., owner Julia Fleischaker has had a lot of success with locally made sidelines, including two Baltimore candle lines: KSM Candle Co. and 228 Grant Street Candle Co. She also pointed to a company called Tiny Dog Press, which is run by a woman who creates letterpress greeting cards featuring Baltimore landmarks, as well as a variety of posters, enamel pins and other goodies. A similar cards and stationery supplier is Row House 14, which is also local. Fleischaker reported that these and other locally made, locally themed products sell like "gangbusters."

Fleischaker also carries greeting cards from companies like Red Cap Cards and Dear Hancock, as well as notebooks and planners from Chronicle Books and Princeton Architectural Press. She joked that she is probably the only indie that doesn't carry Moleskine journals, but noted that she plans to "beef up" certain sideline categories when she opens her new location, including notebooks, journals and children's sidelines. She said that she does not typically carry many games and toys, but she does sell playing cards and has brought in some Pendleton travel games for the holidays.

According to co-owners Amanda Bachmann and Amanda Thronson, Prairie Pages Booksellers in Pierre, S.Dak., sells a lot of magnets, buttons and bookmarks, especially magnetic Harry Potter page clip bookmarks from Re-marks. Other popular items include small, wooden handmade crosses from The Crossmakers in Seward, Neb. Bachmann and Thronson source handmade pouches and dolls from local artists and crafters; those items are sold on a consignment basis. The pair bought the store just over a year ago, and one of their first sideline additions was book-themed candles from Frostbeard Studio, which is located in Minnesota. Those have been extremely popular, with Bachmann and Thronson noting they "can't say enough about them."

Woodchuck journal

Prairie Pages also carries Dionis lotions and chocolates from Abdallah Candies, which are made in Minnesota. When asked about stationery, Thronson and Bachmann said they've "done a little bit," but it has been "kind of hit or miss." Magnets, buttons and cards from Fresh Frances do well, along with notecards and journals from Peter Pauper Press. Bachmann and Thronson explained that their store is located across the street from a small flower shop that sells a lot of greeting cards, and they don't want to compete directly with their neighbor. Looking ahead to holidays, Prairie Pages plans to bring in wooden journals from Woodchuck.

Cookie cutters from Santa Barbara Design Studio

Judy Crosby, owner of Island Books in Middletown, R.I., reported that boxed notes from Earth, Sky & Water are currently "flying out" of the store. Their seasonal cards, which for the fall include pictures of pumpkins, apples, turning leaves and birds, are "beautiful with a good price point." Next to her store's cookbook section, Crosby has a kitchen table displaying cooking-related gift items, and she and her team recently brought in a line of Cardboard Book Sets from Santa Barbara Design Studio that are packaged in cardboard, open like books and contain items such as cheese knives and cookie cutters. Crosby's kitchen table also features locally made items such as sea salt, granola and spice mixes from a nearby food incubator.

Plush fox from Douglas

When asked about perennial favorites, Crosby said night shirts by Relevant Products are strong sellers "year in, year out," and she and her team carry mostly book-themed shirts, with some pet- and wine-themed shirts in the mix as well. Socks and tea towels from Blue Q are always popular, and Crosby recently brought in tea towels from Colonial Tin Works that have also done very well. She sells plenty of cards from lines like Cardthartic, Calypso and Sun Day Greetings, and her store's strongest children's lines are Eeboo games and puzzles along with plush from Douglas. Soaps from a variety of makers, including Simply Be Well and Summer House Soaps, are very popular, as are scarves from Anokhi and Rock Flower Paper. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Kate Braverman

Kate Braverman, a poet, novelist and short story writer "whose work was fueled by a sprawling Los Angeles," died October 13, the Los Angeles Times reported. Braverman "wrote about extreme female protagonists and her oscillating love and loathing for the city that raised her.... She published several books of poetry and countless short stories," including "Mrs. Jordan's Summer Vacation," winner of the Editor's Choice Raymond Carver Short-Story Award; and "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta," which earned her the 1992 O. Henry Award.

City Lights Books, which published Braverman's last collection of stories, A Good Day for Seppuku (2018), tweeted Monday: "We're sad to report that Kate Braverman has died. She was 69 years old. We strongly urge you to read this piece by @xwaldie in the New Yorker about her razor-sharp & versatile work."

The L.A. Times noted that Braverman "is perhaps best known for her fever dream novel Lithium for Medea" (1979), in which she describes the city as "white and half dead... a rented city... Los Angeles is the great waiting room of the world," a hellscape with a "deformed sun" that spits "sick orange blood on the pavement."

Her other books include Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles: An Accidental Memoir, winner of the 2006 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize; Palm Latitudes (1988); The Incantation of Frida K. (2001); Lullaby for sinners (1981); Postcard from August (1990); Small Craft Warnings (1998) and Wonders of the West (1993).

"She was vivid and intense. She was uncompromising," said novelist Janet Fitch about her mentor, whom she described as "a high priestess of literature." Fitch also tweeted: "Some women change your life forever. Kate was absolute dedication to art, to literature. She would abide nothing less."

In 1989, Braverman told the L.A. Times: "I give a voice to characters outside the so-called American mainstream: Bohemian artists on the canals of Venice, women in the barrio and the new denizen of Los Angeles, the single mom. The character of a poet and a single mother is black humor in itself.... Everything I write is about Los Angeles ... the dark side of the tropics, the manic nature of the city, its mutant beauty, its power, the wildness of these self-created people."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Local Girl Draws a Crowd

The Book Stall, Winnetka, Ill., hosted local girl and rock star Liz Phair for her memoir, Horror Stories (Random House). The crowd included many fans as well as family and friends. Pictured: (l.-r.) manager Mike Wysock (manager), Sharman McGurn, Kari Patch, Amy Trogdon, Liz Phair, Kathleen Crawford, events coordinator Robert McDonald (who interviewed Liz for the event), Isabel Mangun, owner Stephanie Hochschild.

Happy 45th Birthday, the Bookman!

Congratulations to the Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., which is celebrating its 45th anniversary with an "all-day birthday bash" on Saturday, October 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Activities include facepainting for kids in the morning, plus balloons, cider and doughnuts throughout the day. There will also be a raffle to win 45% off one item in the store.

The Bookman was founded in 1974 by Jim Dana, who later became the first executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. In 2015, Sharon and Dick Tanis, Diane Steggerda and Alexa McGuinness bought the store from John and Judy Waanders. In 2018, McGuinness became the sole owner after her three partners retired.

Andrews McMeel to Print, Distribute Abrams Calendars

Andrews McMeel Publishing will print and distribute Abrams's calendar program, beginning with the 2021 calendar season, publishing July 2020. Abrams will handle sales and returns of its 2020 calendars until April 3, 2020.

The agreement includes some 40 calendar titles in the 2021 season in a range of categories, including entertainment, art, lifestyle and travel, and animals and pets. The 2021 list includes such titles as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Pokémon, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, William Wegman, the Metropolitan Museum of Art calendar line, and others.

Abrams CEO Michael Jacobs said, "Andrews McMeel is one of the leaders in calendar publishing, and we're thrilled to be working with their expert team to expand our existing Abrams market presence. We're excited to enter into new sales channels and to grow the Abrams calendar business."

Andrews McMeel president and publisher Kirsty Melville said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Abrams to ensure optimal distribution for their calendars through a variety of retail channels. Their exceptional selection, including their renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art program, has inspired consumers for decades. Their program complements our own seamlessly."

Personnel Changes at Seminary Co-op Bookstores

Clancey D'Isa has been promoted to marketing director for the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th Street Books. She most recently served as the manager of 57th Street Books, where she was part of the team that in March won the Pannell Award for excellence in bookselling in the general bookstore category. Before joining the bookstores 18 months ago, she worked with Browne & Miller Literary Associates, was a founding editor of What the F Magazine and was an editor at Colloquium Magazine. She has also served as a lector and writing intern at the University of Chicago and an instructor with Illinois Humanities Council's Odyssey Project.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marc Benioff on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Marc Benioff, author of Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change (Currency, $28, 9781984825193).

Movies: The Power of the Dog

"There are some changes" in Jane Campion's film adaptation of Thomas Savage's 1967 novel The Power of the Dog, Deadline reported: Kirsten Dunst "is in talks to step in for Elisabeth Moss, who is exiting the project due to scheduling conflicts." Dunst would join Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Dano in the film, which "follows the lives of two wealthy brothers who have opposite personalities." Netflix is set to release The Power of the Dog in 2021 via streaming and in theaters.

Books & Authors

Awards: German Book Prize, Gordon Burn Winners

Herkunft (Origins) by Saša Stanišić has won the €25,000 (about $27,600) German Book Prize, sponsored by the Börsenverein (the German book industry association) and honoring the best German-language novel of the year. Judges praised Stanišić for his humor and a kind of storytelling that upends the conventions of storytelling.


David Keenan's For the Good Times won the £5,000 (about $6,365) Gordon Burn Prize, recognizing "brilliant and unique work that audaciously dares to take both writer and reader to territories that shake their edges," the Guardian reported. In addition to the cash award, the winner is given the opportunity for a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn's cottage in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders.

Prize organizers described For the Good Times as "very much in the sensibility" of Burn, who "often blurred the line between fact and fiction [and] explored murky and ambiguous territories."

Judge Miranda Sawyer said: "We hear from Sammy in the Maze, as Bobby Sands is on hunger strike, and he tells tales about how he ended up there. But this is not a straightforward telling. Keenan takes Sammy's Troubles and turns them into a wild ride of hyper-violence, stupid consequences, comic-book heroes, fantasy women and bad paddy jokes. It's about myth and war and masculinity and belief." She called the novel "hallucinatory and fearless," adding that it "revealed the truth about our recent history in a way that documentary can't."

Reading with... Jennifer Wright

photo: Timothy Kuratek

Jennifer Wright is the political editor at large for She's been published in the New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Observer, and some publications that don't have New York in their title. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband, Daniel Kibblesmith. Her new book, We Came First: Relationship Advice from Women Who Have Been There (Laurence King), imagines how history's most powerful women would approach current-day dating anxieties.

On your nightstand now:

Like everyone else in America, I'm reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I also just finished Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Glob by John O'Reilly. According to the Kirkus review from 1952, this humorous take on evolution is "distasteful and annoying." All I can say is that it's been keeping people in my family entertained for generations, and I'd happily fight that reviewer to the death if they weren't dead already.

Your top five authors:

Margaret Atwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Oscar Wilde, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker

Book you've faked reading:

The Lord of the Rings. I tried, but my God, those little dudes spend a lot of time wandering through the woods looking at trees.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It's about a traveling group of actors and musicians crossing a post-apocalyptic U.S. in a caravan emblazoned with the quote "Survival Is Insufficient." It's a beautiful celebration of people clinging to civilization even in desperate times. The characters include those who still perform Shakespeare, a museum creator who teaches children how planes used to take off, an editor attempting to get a newspaper running once again. I like it because they're so far removed, and, I suspect, more relatable to most book lovers, than the typical hardened warriors we see in dystopias.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. Great cover, great book.

Book you hid from your parents:

I seem to recall my mom let me buy the complete works of the Marquis de Sade when I was 16, so we weren't really a family that hid a lot of books. And if I didn't learn that the Marquis de Sade was a terrible writer at home, I surely would have learned it on the streets.

Book that changed your life:

Reading The Handmaid's Tale as a teenager, when I was just beginning to suspect that perhaps men and women were not treated entirely equally.

Favorite line from a book:

"Even from the abyss of horror in which we try to feel our way today, half-blind, our hearts distraught and shattered, I look up again and again to the ancient constellations that shone on my childhood, comforting myself with the inherited confidence that, some day, this relapse will appear only an interval in the eternal rhythm of progress onward and upward." --Stefan Zweig, The World of Yesterday

I read that line a lot these days.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Complete Works of Dorothy Parker, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

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

I wish I could experience any of Dorothy Parker's hilarious stories again for the first time. Or, for that matter, any of Simon Rich's.

Character you most relate to:

Angel Deverell. She's the literary anti-heroine of the 1957 novel Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not that one). There's a wonderful scene where an editor offers to publish her first book providing she make some minor factual changes--women do not bleed all over the walls in childbirth, champagne is not opened with a corkscrew, a woman is unlikely to lose her virginity in a card game, etc. She proceeds to inform him that he's wrong and they can't change a single word of her precious novel. I have never received an edit where I did not first have to tamp down my Angel Deverell impulses before replying.

Book Review

Children's Review: Tiny Feet Between the Mountains

Tiny Feet Between the Mountains by Hanna Cha (Simon & Schuster, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781534429925, November 5, 2019)

Being a child in the adult world presents all sorts of challenges, but size is perhaps the most obvious, immediate hurdle. For young Soe-In, the "once upon a time"-hero in Hanna Cha's delightful debut picture book, Tiny Feet Between the Mountains, her smallness even determined her name: Soe-In means "tiny person." She lived "in a large village, between two tall mountains," where the villagers "often competed to see who was the strongest and loudest." They would even confidently boast that "they were bigger and more fearless than the spirit tiger rumored to protect the surrounding mountains and forest." Although Soe-In took four steps to others' two and needed three armfuls while others used a single hand, her size never stopped her. Instead, she "stud[ied] the other villagers and complet[ed] each task in her own way," even when people pointed and laughed at her earnest efforts.

And then the darkness came: "One morning, the villagers woke up to find the sky was filled with thick black smoke and red embers.... And the sun was nowhere to be seen." The chieftain's request for a volunteer to trek "into the mountains and see what had made the sun disappear" garners only silence. For all the villagers' previous bravado, Soe-In alone speaks up: "Sir, I will go." Though she's met with a cacophony of doubting resistance, Soe-In's tenacity never wavers. She packs her pink bojagi (traditional wrapping scarf) and bravely ventures forth into "the forest where the smoke was the thickest, the hissing sparks were the hottest, and the thunder was the loudest." Nothing stops her until she's eye-to-eye with the spirit tiger himself. Noticing his heavy tears and great distress, Soe-In cleverly deduces how to help him--she knows better than any not to let the outside distract from what's on the inside--and, as a result, restores the light for all. 

Korean American author/artist Cha explains in her author's note that she drew from her cultural history, celebrating the "tigers [that] constantly appeared in Korean stories and images, sometimes as deities, sometimes as threats." Cha's tiger is clearly both, though not without a bit of humorous cheek: his foolhardy arrogance fuels his greedy attempt to "rule the sky," landing him in a fiery situation that threatens the very subjects he's supposed to protect. As artist, the Rhode Island School of Design-trained Cha seems to attenuate the tiger's spirit: while all her richly hued spreads swirl with inviting action, her tiger-themed panels especially burst forth in flaming swaths of gold, orange, brown and black strokes, as if the tiger's energy (and Soe-In's empathic ingenuity) can hardly be contained on the printed page. As Soe-In's stature increases, Cha's message is clear: growing from the smallest into the "greatest of them all" has little to do with outward size, and everything to do with courage, cleverness and genuine caring. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Hanna Cha draws on her Korean heritage in Tiny Feet Between the Mountains, in which size matters little to a tiny girl who saves her village with her thoughtful ingenuity.

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