Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 31, 2019

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Editors' Note

A Milestone Today for Oren Teicher and the ABA

Oren Teicher

Today marks the end of Oren Teicher's tenure as CEO of the American Booksellers Association and the promotion of Joy Dallanegra-Sanger to COO of the ABA. (She will be the senior ABA staff person until Allison Hill, CEO of Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., becomes CEO on March 1.)

We want to take this occasion to congratulate Oren on what will be a well-deserved break from a sometimes all-consuming professional life that has included 30 years at the ABA, although he'll likely continue to be very busy helping with the transition. We want to praise him again for his many, many accomplishments during his 10 years at the head of the association. As we noted when he announced his retirement in March, he has been an advocate on a range of crucial issues for indie booksellers: the buy local movement, tax fairness, making the general media portrayal of indies accurate, improving business relationships with publishers. Within the ABA, he has made sure the association teaches and helps booksellers to operate their businesses more efficiently, to emphasize the qualities that distinguish them from the competition, to engage with each other. He has worked with a variety of allies in and outside the book world, in the U.S. and internationally, exchanging programs and ideas and spreading the word about the indie resurgence. He has made the Winter Institute and Children's Institute into two of the most important bookselling events of the year. Thank you, Oren.

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan


(N)CIBA Adds SoCal Booksellers to Board

With the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association set to dissolve at the end of the year, the (Northern) California Independent Booksellers Association has filled its available board seats as it expands to cover the entire state.

Mary Williams, general manager of Skylight Books in Los Angeles; Mimi Hannan, assistant manager and book buyer at La Playa Books in San Diego; and Bridget Schinnerer of Vroman's Hastings Ranch were added to the board as voting members, with Schinnerer assuming the role of treasurer. Mark O'Neal of Karel/Dutton Group, meanwhile, has been added as a non-voting member and is the first to fill the position of Southern California sales rep.

In other changes to the existing board, Melinda Powers, head book buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, is the new incoming president, which will be made official in May 2020. Wendy Pearl of Penguin Random House is now the Northern California sales rep, while Leslie Jobson of Ingram Publisher Services will continue as publishing professional.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Dallas Bookstore Helps Tornado-Damaged School

The Learning Express Bookstore in Dallas, Tex., has launched a book and supply drive to help Walnut Hill Elementary School, which was hit by an EF-3 tornado (the same tornado that destroyed Interabang Books) over a week ago, WBAP reported. In addition to books, the store is looking for crayons, markers and construction paper, and customers who donate will receive 25% off a new book.

"We are going to do our best to get as many books back into the school as we can," store owner Kathryn Cook told WBAP. "They haven't even been able to get into their school as of yet so they have nothing."

Cook explained that three of her employees have children who go to the damaged school, which made her want to help in any way she could. The damage was so severe that the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District called Walnut Hill a total loss. Students have already been relocated to another school and will likely remain there until the end of the school year.

"We are hoping to get their library well-stocked," Cook added. "We've had a tremendous response... people have been really giving."

Cook plans to keep the drive going until at least Thanksgiving, but might continue if the need is still there.

Microcosm to Publish How to Resist Amazon & Why

Microcosm Publishing has reached an agreement with Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, Kan., to publish and distribute Caine's new zine, How to Resist Amazon & Why, which was released earlier this week.

"Microcosm will pick up publication and distribution of the zine, allowing Danny to set down his stapler and get back to what he does best: running his amazing bookstore and social media rabble rousing," the publisher said. "Since Microcosm returned to self-distribution last year, and ceased to supply Amazon with books, we've experienced over 65% growth. Thanks to our increased distribution reach, we'll be able to get this zine into hundreds of bookstores and other local, independent businesses who are doing their best to stand up to Amazon. We are thrilled to be part of the resistance!"

On Facebook, Microcosm noted: "We're so excited to be doing this! Want to stock it in your store? Hit up your sales reps at Como, Fuji, Book Travelers West, or directly from us.... We've already sent a rush job to the printer so it won't be long now."

Yesterday, Raven posted a sales update: "As of today we've either sold or shipped 1,000 copies of our #HowToResistAmazonAndWhy zine. Because it's something of a hit, we've teamed up with the amazing Microcosm Publishing for publishing and distributing it. You can now place wholesale or retail orders for it here. Thank you for your support!"

The bookseller also tweeted: "Microcosm Publishing (@Microcosmmm) are the perfect ally in our Amazon resistance project because they too have written at length about Amazon's effect on the book business, and they've changed their business model because of it. Details here."

From My Shelf Books in Running for 'The Indie' Biz Award

From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Wellsboro, Pa., has advanced to round two of the Independent Small Business of the Year Award ("The Indie"), sponsored by Independent We Stand. "Only 25 businesses made the cut, and we couldn't have done it without your votes.... Thanks so much for helping us get this far," the bookstore noted on its blog.

People can vote up to 25 times a day per IP address between now and November 17. The top 10 vote-getters will be announced November 18 and advance to round three, where the judges decide a winner based on  submissions from the 10 semifinalists. The overall winner will be named November 25 and receives a prize package valued at $25,000.

That prize package could be very helpful to From My Shelf. Earlier this week, co-owner Kasey Coolidge posted on Facebook: "Our current business model does not work. We have some great customers, but too many people shop at what I call the Evil Empire, Amazon. It's not just books, but everything. So, our plan is to downsize." A GoFundMe page has been set up for the bookshop.


Image of the Day: Scooby-Doo on Halloween

IPG held its annual Halloween party and costume contest earlier this week and the crew did not disappoint! Here's the marketing department as Scooby-Doo and the Gang, on Scooby-Doo's 50th anniversary.

Happy 70th Birthday, Lake Forest Book Store!

Lake Forest Book Store owner Eleanor Thorn, Penguin Random House sales manager Brian Wilson, store manager Maxwell Gregory.

Congratulations to Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, Ill., which celebrated its 70th anniversary with a party earlier this month. At the same time, the store celebrated Eleanor Thorn's seventh year as owner.

Thorn commented: "On behalf of myself and the rest of the staff at Lake Forest Book Store, I want to thank everyone who attended our 70th Anniversary Party and all the well wishes! We would not be here without the support from our wonderful community and our amazing customers! Cheers to many more years to come!"

NEIBA on the Move

The New England Independent Booksellers Association is moving, effective tomorrow. NEIBA's new address is:

One Beacon Street, 15th Floor
Boston, Mass. 02108

The office phone number, 617-547-3642, remains the same, but NEIBA's fax number is changing to 617-830-8768. The office number should be working on Monday, November 4. In the meantime, contact NEIBA's Beth Ineson or Ali Schmelzle via e-mail.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ronan Farrow on Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Ronan Farrow, author of Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316486637).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Boston Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, November 2
11 a.m. Kevin Levin, author of Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth (University of North Carolina Press, $30, 9781469653266).

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Coverage of the 2019 Boston Book Festival. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Thomas Abt, author of Bleeding Out, Erin Kelly, author of The Limits of Blame, and Martha Minow, author of When Should Law Forgive?, discuss violence and crime.
  • 2:54 p.m. Andrew Bacevich, author of The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory, and Stephen Walt, author of The Hell of Good Intentions, discuss American power abroad.
  • 3:50 p.m. A discussion on race with Ben Crump, author of Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.
  • 4:50 p.m. Joshua Goldstein, author of A Bright Future, Andrew McAfee, author of More from Less, and Harriet Washington, author of A Terrible Thing to Waste, discuss climate change.

8 p.m. Mikhal Dekel, author of Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey (Norton, $27.95, 9781324001034), at McNally Jackson in New York City.

8:50 p.m. Charles Schwab, author of Invested: Changing Forever the Way Americans Invest (Currency, $29, 9781984822543). (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

10 p.m. David Shulkin, author of It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Serve Your Country: Our Broken Government and the Plight of Veterans (PublicAffairs, $29, 9781541762657). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Coverage of the 6th annual Kirkus Prize at the Austin Public Library in Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

11:35 p.m. Peter Finn, author of A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre's Dramatic Captivity and Escape from Nazi Germany (Pantheon, $28.95, 9781524747336), at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C.

Sunday, November 3
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Imani Perry, author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (Beacon Press, $18, 9780807076552). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

6:40 p.m. Michael Barone, author of How America's Political Parties Change (And How They Don't) (Encounter, $23.99, 9781641770781).

Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Book of the Year Shortlist

The shortlist has been unveiled for the 2019 Waterstones Book of the Year. Nominated by booksellers, the finalists now go before a Waterstones panel, headed by managing director James Daunt, to choose a winner, who will be announced November 27. The winning title receives the full support of Waterstones. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
Lanny by Max Porter
On the Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva
Dishoom by Shamil Thakrar
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 5:

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781501171703) is a thriller about sexual misconduct at a TV news network.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541213) is fantasy set in a hidden subterranean realm.

The Age of Anxiety: A Novel by Pete Townshend (Hachette Books, $28, 9780316398985) is the debut novel by the lead singer and songwriter of the Who.

This Is Pleasure: A Story by Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon, $18, 9781524749132) is a novella about gender relations.

Noel Street by Richard Paul Evans (Gallery, $21.99, 9781982129583) is Christmas fiction set in Mistletoe, Utah.

You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha (Gallery, $24.99, 9781982135881) is part of the Book of Awesome series.

The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America's Elite Alpine Warriors by Maurice Isserman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328871435) tracks the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us by Donald Trump Jr. (Center Street, $30, 9781546086031) creates a safe space for conservatives.

Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade (Sentinel, $28, 9780525540533) remembers the Alamo's aftermath.

The City Game: Triumph, Scandal, and a Legendary Basketball Team by Matthew Goodman (Ballantine, $29, 9781101882832) chronicles the 1949–50 City College Beavers, winners of the NIT and NCAA tournaments.

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316485340) collects humorous and whimsical essays.

Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes by Joanne Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40, 9780544836488) includes 125 dessert recipes.

I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown and Jason Brown, illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Holt, $17.99, 9781250232212), is the Queer Eye star's picture book debut about self-acceptance and familial bonds.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams, $18.99, 9781419737046), is the duo's fourth picture book in their bestselling series.

Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel by Bernardine Evaristo (Grove Press/Black Cat, $17, 9780802156983) is the co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (Berkley, $16, 9781984806093).

Doctor Sleep, based on Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, opens November 8. Ewan McGregor stars as an adult Danny Torrance who must protect a young girl with similar powers from a dangerous cult. A movie tie-in edition (Gallery, $18, 9781982131807) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Toil & Trouble: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250019950). "Augusten Burroughs never ceases to amaze his readers with his honest stories, and Toil & Trouble won't disappoint his fans! A gift shared with his mother, witchcraft has been passed down his family tree and has guided his life. Moving from the city life to the wilds of Connecticut, Burroughs' gift guides him and husband Christopher to the right place at the right time--and saves them with a little premonition! You are invited (perhaps welcomed?) to be skeptical, but once you finish the book you might just wonder why you ever were." --Jennifer Kandarian, Books on the Square, Providence, R.I.

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501132735). "Saeed Jones is supremely talented, so I expected his memoir to be great. I did NOT expect, however, to be left immobile in my chair after reading that final paragraph, processing the beauty of his words and those indelible sentences he's generous enough to share with us. How We Fight for Our Lives is a moving and intimate portrait of the writer growing up as a young, gay black man and trying to understand the complex realities of his identity. We also gain insight to Jones' relationship with his mother, a story that left me in pieces by the end. How We Fight for Our Lives is raw, difficult, and truthful, and completely stuffed with love." --Eugenia Vela, BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

No Judgments: A Novel by Meg Cabot (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062890047). "Cabot delights again in this one-off romance about finding compassion for other people and for animals in the midst of natural disaster. Light and fun, this book is a joy to read, full of well-crafted prose, engaging characters, and a plot perfect for the times. Cabot's fabulous escape into the written word will leave you with that warm fuzzy feeling and also some knowledge on how to prepare for a hurricane." --Kendolyn Roe, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9781524771768). "My new favorite picture book, Stormy by Guojing, contains not a single word. Nonetheless, it's one of the most heartfelt and moving stories I've ever experienced. An orphan dog and a young woman come to know of each other at a park. The pup is shy of the woman's attempts to play, but slowly comes around. When the woman heads home for the day, she leaves the dog behind (or so she thinks), but when a sudden thunderstorm erupts, both dog and woman are desperate to be reconnected. The artwork is amazing--the use of color and expression tells the reader everything, with no text necessary. I can't wait to share this with a child too young to read, but fully able to tell me the story by looking at the pictures." --Jen Wills Geraedts, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, Park Rapids, Minn.

For Ages 9 to 12
Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 9780062473073). "Sweet Pea is that spunky, likeable girl next door who's going through a rough patch. Her parents are getting divorced, she's caught between friends, and her cat seems like the only one who loves her for who she is. And now she's scored her first job--forwarding mail for her unusual neighbor, Miss Flora Mae, who writes the paper's advice column. Sweet Pea gets tempted to open a letter, and then the fun begins! Can trying to help cause more trouble than it solves? A funny and heartwarming story of a tween finding her way." --Jenny Stroyeck, The Homer Bookstore, Homer, Ark.

For Teen Readers
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Wednesday, $16.99, 9781250145444). "Liggett combines a dystopian society with a horrific survivor story and a dark fairy tale in The Grace Year. Young girls are believed to be magic, so they are forced into exile for their 16th year in order to release their powers. After their year away, they are expected to come back ready for a docile home life. But not all of them come home alive, and many come home changed. Liggett's story is haunting and lyrical, an intriguing page-turner filled with love, brutality, violence, and hope." --Scott Lange, The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer (Pantheon, $27.95 hardcover, 336p., 9781101871935, November 19, 2019)

"Is truth... a matter of consensus, subject to debate, subject to alteration?" Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer (Version Control) follows a woman who, implausibly, gives birth to rabbits and who, as she struggles to control the narrative of her own body, serves as a challenge to the beliefs of a patriarchal society.

In 1726, in the village of Godalming, England, surgeon John Howard and his apprentice, Zachary, attend to a woman giving birth. Horrifyingly, bloody rabbit parts emerge instead of a child. Howard, a sensible man, can't believe what he's witnessed. And yet, he saw this event with his own eyes. Mary continues to birth rabbit pieces every few days. If "every woman carries within her the capacity to be the conduit for one of God's miracles," then it stands to reason that offspring who are less than a perfect representation of God reflect poorly on the mother's inner soul. Thus, presuming that Mary is imperfect in the eyes of God, Howard confers with London surgeons, who soon arrive with an overblown sense of their ability to "cure" her.

Mary Toft is the subject of the story, but her voice is rarely heard. Her life and her body are contextualized by men around her, who profess an understanding that they don't have. When Mary speaks, briefly, her frustration is clear. As she says ruefully, "The spaces inside women are meant by God for so much more that women's ownership of them is clearly only ever provisional." Howard's wife, Alice, scoffs at Mary's story from the beginning, considering her "an outright fraud." Predictably, Alice's intimate knowledge of how a woman's body works is brushed aside by the surgeons who, they claim, know more about women's physiology than she does.

The doctors bring Mary, now gravely ill, to London for observation. Their competition to explore and explain the rabbit births ignores the woman at the center. Londoners hold vigil outside her residence, excited by the freakish drama. Everyone seems more than willing to believe this impossible tale. It doesn't take long, however, for questions to arise, leading one skeptic to observe, "the false belief gains a greater purchase because of the accumulated authority of those who profess to believe, or whose silence is perhaps too eagerly read as consent." Howard, who has accompanied Mary, struggles with his involvement in this increasingly grim spectacle. He says about himself, "Something profound must happen in the mind to convince a man to distrust the common sense acquitted over decades." Sensing that Mary will be sacrificed for the surgeons' egos, he privately implores her to "shape another history.... You have that power, but only for a few hours longer.... Then all the men will enter, and we will begin again."

This is a suspenseful, thought-provoking narrative that pairs well with dystopian fiction such as The Handmaid's Tale, and raises uncomfortable questions about women's lack of control over their bodies--which, unfortunately, seems unchanged over the centuries. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Shelf Talker: This historical fiction features a woman who stuns the medical community by giving birth to dead rabbits, causing those around her to question the intersection of truth and beliefs.

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