Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


California Booksellers Face Power Outages, Evacuations Due to Wildfires

Kincaid Fire evacuation zones

As wildfires continue to burn in Northern and Southern California, booksellers throughout the state have had to face power outages, closures and even mandatory evacuation orders. In Northern California, the Kincade Fire had burned more than 75,000 acres in Sonoma County as of Tuesday evening, while in Los Angeles, the Getty Fire has burned nearly 700 acres and may continue to grow with severe Santa Ana winds expected to arrive overnight.

According to Calvin Crosby, executive director of the (Northern) California Independent Booksellers Association, some Copperfield's Books staff members based in Sonoma County have been evacuated, as have staff at Levin & Company Community Bookstore in Healdsburg; Crosby added that they are all "dispersed but safe."

Napa Bookmine in Napa still has power, and has invited customers who have lost power to come and charge their devices. Readers' Books in Sonoma has power as well, as does the (N)CIBA office, which is also in Sonoma. Treehorn Books in Santa Rosa had power and welcomed community members to drop by, charge phones and hopefully find a distraction from the chaos.

In Marin County, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power Saturday evening and it remained off for many through Tuesday. Stephen Sparks, co-owner of Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station, reported that they are "well south" of the evacuation zone and the town is full of displaced people from west Sonoma County. The store closed at 3 p.m. Saturday in advance of power going out that evening, and Point Reyes Books has remained closed. Power was still out as of Tuesday afternoon and Sparks said the power will likely remain off until at least Wednesday afternoon.

Stores throughout the East Bay have also faced blackouts. East Bay Booksellers in Oakland lost power on Saturday night and was closed for the rest of the weekend. Several stores, including Rakestraw Books in Danville, A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland and Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore in Elmwood lost power but remained open. Alibi Bookshop in Vallejo came close to being evacuated, but ended up staying open and did not lose power.

Many booksellers have reached out to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and Binc encourages any bookseller or comics retailer affected by the wildfires to continue to do so. In a message to booksellers, Binc said the organization may be able to help both owners and employees with expenses related to the fires and power outages, such as rent and utility expenses for stores that saw slow business or had to close, temporary housing and supplies for booksellers forced to relocate, and various personal expenses for booksellers who missed half of their scheduled weekly work hours. The foundation can be reached at or booksellers can call 866-733-9064.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Downbound Books Opens in Cincinnati


Downbound Books has opened at 4139 Apple St. on the Northside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Enquirer reported that Cincinnati native Gregory Kornbluh had traveled the U.S., "looking at books, perfecting his dream bookstore in his mind's eye" and has now realized that dream.

"While we're going to do our best to offer a wide and hopefully unexpected range of books, a shop our size can't rightly claim to have something for everyone," he said. "But maybe we've got everything for someone."

Kornbluh and his partner, Sarah Fischer, "are excited to learn more about the interests of local readers, but... his and Fischer's tastes will 'always show through,' " the Enquirer noted, adding that while the general stock is a mix of their tastes, Fischer curated the cookbook and children's sections.

"We're aiming to be an old-fashioned neighborhood bookstore, but hopefully one that people all over the city find worth traveling for," he said.

His dream had always been to own a small store that could accommodate a lot of books while maintaining a clean, minimalist feel. The shelving and furniture in 500-square-foot Downbound Books were handcrafted by Kornbluh with assistance from his father, a retired architect.

Although he and Fischer originally met as classmates at local schools, for the past 13 years Kornbluh "has been on the east coast, working for a short time as a bookseller at a shop outside Boston and then mainly in the sales and marketing department of Harvard University Press," the Enquirer wrote.

"I was very fortunate to travel widely for work, and at every stop, I'd visit as many bookstores as I could. Over the years, the outlines of my dream bookstore became more and more clear," he said. "We've been open just a few days now, but so far I'm really, really pleased that people seem to be seeing it the way that I'd hoped."

He told the Cincinnati Business Courier: "There's been a real resurgence in indie bookstores. People really like shopping local and they appreciate what small bookstores do. Amazon is not a place to discover books, it's a great place to get cheap books you already know you want. Amazon doesn't have story time, it doesn't have a curated collection of local art and products for sale."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

OtherWorlds Books & More Expands in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

OtherWorlds Books & More, a new and used bookstore specializing in science fiction and fantasy, has expanded in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Door County Pulse reported.

Owners Margaret and Dave Magle opened the store in January 2018. Since then, it has expanded to encompass around 1,600 square feet of space and, in addition to books, sells comics and graphic novels, board and role-playing games, vinyl records, magazines and puzzles, plus work from local artists. In addition to author events, the store plans three open game nights per week and a Warhammer Club that meets every other weekend.

Last weekend, OtherWorlds participated in the national Halloween Comic Fest presented by Diamond Comic Distributors, which offered customers free comics and the chance to enter a national costume contest.

"Our book inventory is more than just the New York Times' bestsellers," Margaret Magle told Door County Pulse. "We have things you just won't find in every other bookstore, including classic and vintage titles, and we are always adding titles based on suggestions from our customers. We have a nice selection of books by local authors with whom we do book signings whenever possible."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Raven Book Store Publishes How to Resist Amazon & Why Zine

Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., has published How to Resist Amazon and Why, a zine that includes his now-viral "letter to @JeffBezos from a small independent bookstore in the middle of the country," as well as some of the bookseller's Twitter advocacy "and several strategies to deal with Amazon's continuing overreach."

On Sunday, the Raven tweeted: "We spent a few hours last night making 500 copies of our HOW TO RESIST AMAZON AND WHY zine and packaging orders for 26 bookstores. Thanks to @rmccarthyjames, @chancedibben, @noradibben and Kara for helping! Stay tuned tomorrow for a list of places to buy it!"

By Monday, the bookseller had listed more than 30 indie bookstores that will carry the publication, noting: "Folks can buy the zine right here, and bookstores are welcome to DM us or e-mail raven at ravenbookstore dot com to chat about carrying the zine! Thank you to everyone for your support!"

Obituary Note: Robert Provine

Robert Provine, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose examination of laughter led to a series of studies and popular books and helped to create the modern science of humor, died October 17, the New York Times reported. He was 76.

"My approach to understanding laughter is one that a visiting extraterrestrial might take," he wrote. "What would the visitor make of the large bipedal animals emitting paroxysms of sound from a toothy vent in their faces?"

In 1990, Provine made a career pivot from "studying nerve cells for eight hours a day in a windowless lab" to "measuring the different sounds of laughter, its varying cadences and loudness, its presence in primates. (Chimpanzees laugh, too.) He and a team of graduate students lurked for hours with their notebooks at shopping malls, student unions and other public spaces, recording and evaluating some 1,200 pre-laughter comments," the Times wrote. He called his work "sidewalk neuroscience."

In his book Laughter: A Scientific Investigation (2000), Provine "spelled out a broader theory of laughter's function--as a social signal that bonds people and sets the tone for group gatherings," the Times noted. He subsequently extended his study of "nonverbal vocalizations" beyond laughter, and in 2012 published Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond.

"Although it is ubiquitous, and something that if you're lucky you do every day, laughter is truly a puzzling phenomenon. His book, Laughter, is really a go-to source in this field, and one reason is that he studied laughter out in the real world, not in the lab," said Peter McGraw, co-author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny.

Rod Martin, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, observed that Provine's "main contribution to the field of research in the psychology of humor was to draw attention to laughter as a phenomenon of interest in itself. Until then, humor researchers had mainly seen laughter as an outward expression of the inner experience of humor."


Image of the day: Trick or Treat for a Book

The Well~Read Moose Book Store in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, held its annual Trick or Treat for a Book event--every child got a free book and a piece of candy. The store gave books to more than 200 children, and held a special Halloween-themed storytime. The store saves books all year long for the event. Pictured: (clockwise from back left) booksellers Jenny, Hannah, Anna Rose, Derrick, Mellie, Michelle and Marlene, and owner Melissa Demotte in the Cat in the Hat costume.

Best Birmingham Bookstores

Bham Now surveyed "independent bookstores to check off your list" in Birmingham, Ala., including:

Alabama Booksmith, "one of the oldest bookstores in Birmingham," with the big draw that "every copy on the shelves is signed by the author."

Burdock Book Collective, the "intersectional feminist bookstore and community space" that launched a year ago.

Little Professor Book Center, "Birmingham's oldest independent bookstore--it's been family owned and operated since 1973."

Church Street Coffee and Books, a "top-notch combo."

And Thank You Books, which is opening soon.

Bookshop Cat of the Day: 'Carrotpants' at Yardstick Books

Yardstick Books, Algoma, Wis., recently introduced customers to a new feline bookseller on the staff: "Please welcome Yardstick’s new part time staff member, teenager Carrotpants (she's all nickname and no official name). AKA Dusty Boots, she works for sunlight and constant attention. Feel free to stop in and say 'hello!' "

Frankfurt Book Fair New York Picks Scatterbrain

The Frankfurt Book Fair New York has selected Scatterbrain: How the Mind's Mistakes Make Humans Creative, Innovative, and Successful by Henning Beck (Greystone, $27.95, 9781771644013) as its October Book of the Month.

The organization described the book this way: "In this mind-bending book, an esteemed neuroscientist explains why perfectionism is pointless--and argues that mistakes, missteps, and flaws are the keys to success.

"Remember that time you screwed up simple math or forgot the name of your favorite song? What if someone told you that such embarrassing 'brain farts' are actually secret weapons, proof of your superiority to computers and AI?

"In Scatterbrain, we learn that boredom awakens the muse, distractions spark creativity, and misjudging time creates valuable memories, among other benefits of our faulty minds. Throughout, award-winning neuroscientist Henning Beck's hilarious asides and brain-boosting advice make for delightful reading of the most cutting-edge neuroscience our brains will (maybe never) remember."

Henning Beck received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Graduate School of Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience, University of Tübingen. He is a lecturer, workshop leader and scientific consultant.

Personnel Changes at Atria; Counterpoint Press/Catapult/Soft Skull

Joanna Pinsker has joined Atria Publishing Group as deputy director of publicity. Pinsker was most recently at Hachette and earlier held positions at HarperCollins and Random House.


Samm Saxby has joined Catapult/Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull as events & marketing assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton on the Daily Show

Daily Show: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, authors of The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501178412).

Movies: Broken

Don Winslow "has thrown a surprise at his publishers at HarperCollins and made a multimillion-dollar worldwide deal for his trouble," Deadline reported, adding that the bestselling author of The Cartel and The Force "just got an April 2020 publication date for Broken, a book that contains five novellas and one short story. Four of those novellas and the short story will be shopped soon to studios, networks and streamers."

"Broken was inspired by Stephen King's Different Seasons, a collection of four short novels, three of which became the films Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me and Apt Pupil," Winslow said. "Broken contains five novellas and a short story and we think four of the novellas and the short story have real potential for film and television adaptation."

The projects are "just part of a set of moves that Winslow and Shane Salerno's the Story Factory have quietly made to better control the destiny of his terrific fiction as it gets turned into film and TV adaptations," Deadline noted.

Books & Authors

Awards: Governor General's Literary; Warwick Women in Translation

The Canada Council for the Arts announced winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards in 14 English- and French-language categories. Each winner receives C$25,000 (about US$19,050), with their publishers getting C$3,000 (about US$2,285) to support promotional activities. This year's English-language winners are:

Fiction: Five Wives by Joan Thomas
Nonfiction: To the River by Don Gillmor
Poetry: Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway
Young people's literature (text): Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow
Young people's literature (illustrated books): Small in the City by Sydney Smith
Translation: Birds of a Kind by Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Linda Gaboriau
Drama: Other Side of the Game by Amanda Parris


A shortlist has been unveiled for the £1,000 (about $1,300) Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, which was established by the University of Warwick in 2017 to "address the gender imbalance in translated literature and to increase the number of international women's voices accessible by a British and Irish readership." The winner will be named November 20 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated from French by Tina Kover
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tocarczuk, translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Katalin Street by Magda Szabó, translated from Hungarian by Len Rix
Negative of a Group Photograph by Azita Ghahreman, translated from Farsi by Maura Dooley with Elhum Shakerifar
People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated from Spanish by Charlotte Whittle
The Years by Annie Ernaux, translated from French by Alison L. Strayer

Reading with... Sasha Sagan

photo: Brian C. Seitz

Sasha Sagan holds a degree in Dramatic Literature from New York University and has worked as a television producer, filmmaker, editor, writer and speaker in New York, Boston and London. Her essays and interviews on death, history and ritual through a secular lens have appeared in New York magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, Literary Hub, Mashable, The Violet Book and elsewhere. Her short film, Bastard, co-written and produced with Kirsten Dunst, was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and was one of two films chosen to close the 2010 Cannes Film Festival's Critics Week ceremony. She regularly speaks on ways science can affect our celebrations and how we mark the passage of time. For Small Creatures Such as We (Putnam, October 22, 2019) is her first book.

On your nightstand now:

More than a few of my nightstand books are really audiobooks. I am a huge audiobook person. Doubly so since I had my daughter. She naps, I fold the laundry and I learn something, go somewhere new. I wouldn't be able to get a fraction of the reading I do done without them.

I also really like reading five or more books at once so I can have something I'm into no matter my mood. Sometimes I want nonfiction, maybe to feel like I'm back in school. Sometimes I crave fiction. Other times, I feel too emotionally vulnerable for something heartbreaking. Sometimes I have a nagging feeling I must absorb a classic I missed along the way.

So between physical and audio right now, this is what's on my (proverbial) nightstand:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and Grander View of Life by Ed Yong
Ten Million Aliens by Simon Barnes

And I am loving all of them.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved Maira Kalman's books, like Max Makes a Million. I liked books that celebrated weirdness, bent the norms. I liked books that assumed children are smarter than they sometimes get credit for, ones that had references in them that I didn't quite get. I also spent many hours looking through Peter Spier's People, which is a kind of exploration of different cultures around the world, what they share and the ways they vary. It has lines like, "And we celebrate different feasts and holidays" on a page with 12 small illustrations of religious and cultural rituals from different regions on the planet. Just now as I'm thinking about it, I am realizing this book must have influenced me enormously.

Your top five authors:

In order to answer this, I'm going to exclude my parents, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, who are certainly my biggest influences, because that almost goes without saying. And I'm also excluding playwrights. I was a dramatic literature major in college and I love plays, but I think being a playwright is a different skill than being an author. That said, for most of my life I would have answered Orwell and Vonnegut. But I haven't re-read them in years, so my relationship with their work is different than when I discovered them. In the last few years, I have been devouring the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Karen Armstrong and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I would have to say they are my favorites at this point in my life.

That's five.

Book you've faked reading:

Ok, this is really embarrassing: numerous works by my parents. But I can explain. For a long time, I felt reassured by the idea that I still had words my father had written that I had not yet read, some part of him to look forward to. It made me believe that he existed in my future, not just my past. But strangers or acquaintances would sometimes reference something he had written and I would just go along so as not to start a whole thing by saying, "Oh, Cosmos? Haven't read it!" I have now read their best-known works, but I still have a few books to look forward to, ones I'm saving for when I am really longing to discover a new part of him.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is number one. I don't know how many copies I've purchased as gifts for people. Maybe 20? The blurb on the cover says, "This is required reading--Toni Morrison" and I couldn't agree more. Most of all for white Americans who still don't understand how privilege works.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. The teal, black and pink cover is so evocative. It so clearly conjures up the fictional world of the book, one where the Jews of Europe had been given refuge in Sitka, Alaska, during World War II. I hadn't read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay yet, but I was sold as soon as I set eyes on it. And I'm glad. It's an unforgettable novel.

Book you hid from your parents:

There was no censorship in our house so I didn't have to hide anything. My parents were happy as long as I was reading more than I was watching TV. I will say, I did detect an unsaid lack of enthusiasm during an extended Sweet Valley High phase.

Book that changed your life:

There are so many. I mean, in a way every great book I've ever read has changed me. But the one that stands out to me is a book of Sappho's poems I had in college, or rather the fragments of her poems. It taught me that we are not so different than the ancients. One fragment that stands out is, "Virginity, virginity, where will you go when you leave me?" So modern! I loved it.

Favorite line from a book:

This is a hard one. And it changes constantly. But there is one I think about year in and year out from 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. There is a section where he addresses the practice of human sacrifice in the Aztec Empire (which he refers to as the Triple Alliance). He compares their practice of human sacrifice with the public executions that were rampant around Europe at the same time. The section includes this sentence that haunts me, "In their penchant for ceremonial public slaughter, the Alliance and Europe were more alike than either side grasped."

Now that I look at that, it's so bleak! I'll add a funny one:

I have been laughing about this line from E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime all my life: "And though the newspapers called the shooting the Crime of the Century, Goldman knew it was only 1906 and there were ninety-four years to go."

Okay, that's kind of bleak, too. Let me try again:

Without spoiling it, the last line, just two words, of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah is such a perfect end to a story about immigration that they rang in my head for months after I finished that book. It's romantic and profound and not bleak, I swear.

Five books you'll never part with:

I have a copy of The Demon-Haunted World that has my dad's handwritten notes in it. I think maybe they are changes he wanted to make for the second edition? It's extremely special to me.

My copy of my mother's first book, a novel called A Famous Broken Heart that was published when she was about 27.

The copy of the Norton Anthology of Poetry that I've had since childhood. I would memorize poems from it as a child and recite them to my parents.

An Oxford Anthology of Shakespeare my dad bought around the time I first expressed interest in theater.

The copy of Dear Ijeawele by Adichie that my dear friend Leith Clark sent me when my daughter was born.

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

I think I'd like to read The Handmaid's Tale again for the first time, specifically the epilogue. It's so unexpected, shocking really. It says so much about how we learn history and how easily we ignore the humanity of the people who withstood the injustices of the past. I think about it all the time.

Book yet to be published that you are most looking forward to:

Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age. Kiley and I have the same agent and we're at the same imprint. We've gotten to be friends and asked each other's advice during this frenetic time leading up to each of our books coming out. She's brilliant and hilarious, and so great on social media, but I haven't been able to snag an advanced copy of her book yet, so I'm eagerly awaiting her pub date at the end of the year.

Book Review

Children's Review: What the Eagle Sees

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn, Kathy Lowinger (Annick Press, $14.95 paperback, 132p., ages 11-up, 9781773213286, November 12, 2019)

The authors of 2017's Turtle Island, an Indigenous history of North America, team up again to give young readers another enlightening and engrossing history: that of Indigenous rebellion and survival. Eldon Yellowhorn, professor of First Nations studies and citizen of the Piikani Nation, and Kathy Lowinger, longtime executive director of the Children's Books Centre, seamlessly mesh their writing talents in What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal.

The duo frames their historic viewpoint by beginning the book with "Eagle's Tale": "Eagle flies over everything, so he sees everything.... Eagle's feathers are part light and part dark. The history in this book is like an eagle's feather. Past centuries have been full of terrible, tragic events for Indigenous people.... The light, hopeful side is that against all odds we have survived." In nine chapters, Yellowhorn and Lowinger bring readers through some of these "tragic events," starting with the Vikings ("we fight them off") and finishing with "Understanding the Past, Soaring into the Future." Viking oral history about "sailing to the faraway countries they called Vinland and Greenland" eventually became written history and was added to the canon of stories of exploration with which Europeans were already familiar, such as the "tales of seven cities of gold." These stories, combined with the rumored riches in those lands, "convinced Christopher Columbus and his peers to go out and find them."

Thus begins chapter 2, "Slavery/Rebellion": "Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean in 1492 looking for riches to send home. The first riches he loaded onto his ships were... human beings." Yellowhorn and Lowinger give a thorough account of the invasions of the time--not shying away from the devastation wrought by the Europeans--but the focus of the chapter is the revolt planned by the Pueblo people of New Mexico in 1680 to "free themselves from the Spanish." This pattern continues throughout the book as Indigenous communities (such as the Haudenosaunee and Wahunsunacock Confederacies) stand together, battle the invaders and form "new ways."

What the Eagle Sees includes information young readers may be unlikely to see other places: while it covers World War II code talkers, it also tells of the mysterious Madam Sacho, who put her life on the line to help her people; an entire chapter is dedicated to "walking the war road," a "time-honored route to esteem and fame on Turtle Island long before the invaders came." Maps, illustrations, pictures and sidebars add to the already substantive offering, giving extra tidbits or asking readers in "imagine" sections created by the authors, to place themselves inside certain situations. Yellowhorn and Lowinger take their own advice in this slim yet exhaustive book: "If you want to understand the past, keep Eagle's ways in mind. Take the long view, like Eagle does." --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger team up again to bring young readers a comprehensive, absorbing history of Indigenous life in North America.

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