Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 4, 2019


Simon Pulse: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!

Bunim & Bannigan Ltd: David Lazar by Robert Kalich

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

News

Soft Opening for DIESEL in San Diego

At the new DIESEL: (from left) staffers Austin Baker, KelleyAnn Thai, Noelle Zenovic, Debra Ginsberg, John Evans, Alison Reid, first customer Jill Levine and Alfredo Gomez.

The new DIESEL: a bookstore in Del Mar Highlands Town Center, San Diego, Calif., held a soft opening on Halloween for a trick-or-treat event that's taken place at the Town Center annually for the past 30 years. "Of course, we didn't have all of our free-standing cases or tables (getting painted nearby--so close!!)," co-owner John Evans said. Still, the store received "enthusiastic responses from new customers of all ages."

When one customer asked where the science section was, co-owner Alison Reid "pointed to the stack of boxes awaiting cases--'Right there in those boxes.' He graciously understood and looked forward to seeing them when they were unpacked."

The new DIESEL aims to be fully open in a week, with a grand opening "a little down the road."

Since opening their first DIESEL stores in Emeryville and Oakland in Northern California 30 years ago, Evans and Reid have had several stores in the Bay Area and Southern California. In part to avoid weekly 400-mile commutes, they've consolidated operations in Southern California; their other DIESEL location is in Brentwood in Los Angeles.


Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino


Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews Has Soft Opening in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, an independent bookstore and Spanish-style chocolatería, hosted its soft opening over the weekend at 109 E. Franklin St., Suite 100, in Chapel Hill, N.C. For  co-owners Miranda and Jaime Sanchez, the core idea for the business "began years ago as the union of Jaime’s heritage and Miranda’s passion for writing and the transportive nature of reading," according to the bookstore's website. "Wanderers and wonderers, our idea continued to grow in the plazuelas of Mexico and the chocolaterías of Spain, in the plazas of every country where such spaces form quasi-families for both the briefest of moments and the longest stretches of time. In these spaces, people share everything from decadent chocolate to fried street food, to myth-like tales, to the memories of our own childhood selves chasing pigeons and sucking the sticky droplets from paletas off our hands."

They describe Epilogue as "a community atmosphere where you can find a book while enjoying craft brews, a glass of wine, or churros and a cup of chocolate."

In September, the Sanchezes shared their vision for the bookstore in the Orange County Arts Commission's CreativeOrange video series.

Epilogue celebrated the successful soft opening on social media:

"TODAY IS THE DAY FOLKS! We will be open tonight from 6-9pm. Be the first to sign our 'Positivi-Tree' and try some of our fabulous drinks! SEE YOU THERE!"

"Thank you Chapel Hill!! Our soft opening yesterday and today was a HUGE success. We can’t wait to see you again!"

"So yesterday night was amazing! Thank you to all that came out and made our soft opening night a success. Today we continue our soft opening, come hang out with us from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will have a drinks only menu and of course an awesome assortment of books."


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


Sourcebooks Holiday Rapid Replenishment Program for Indies

Starting today and continuing through December 19, Sourcebooks is offering a rapid replenishment program for independent bookstores across the country. Orders for in-stock Sourcebooks titles received from indies by 11 a.m. Central time Monday through Friday will ship no later than the following business day, weather and transportation conditions permitting, for arrival at booksellers' doors within two days. Orders received after the cutoff on Friday and over the weekend will be shipped on Monday.

Booksellers should process their orders in the same way they always have; no special instructions are needed. All orders received from today through December 19 will receive the special handling.

Chuck Deane, director of trade sales, said, "We are always looking for ways to support the independent bookstore community through easy and effective initiatives, and this program fits that criteria exactly."

Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO, said that the company has had "an amazing year" with indies and wants "to ensure that they have a very successful holiday season. By offering an efficient way for indies to respond to demand for our books, we can support them in having a great finish to the year."

Questions about the indie rapid replenishment program should be directed to Chuck Deane via e-mail or to a store's local sales representative.


New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen


At Algonquin, Scharlatt Retiring, Gleick Is New Publisher

Elisabeth Scharlatt

After 30 years with the company, Elisabeth Scharlatt, publisher of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, is retiring, effective December 1. She will be succeeded by Betsy Gleick, who joined Algonquin in 2016 as editorial director.

In other changes, Michael McKenzie, who has been executive director of publicity, has been promoted to associate publisher, overseeing marketing and publicity for both Algonquin Books and Algonquin Young Readers.

"Elisabeth has been the eloquent voice, the animated spirit, and the powerful driving force of Algonquin for decades. She put us on the literary map, and she is admired and respected and loved throughout the industry," said Carolan Workman, executive chair and president of Workman Publishing Company. "I know she is excited by this seismic move and, frankly, that's the only way that we--certainly I--can bear her departure."

Betsy Gleick

Workman CEO Dan Reynolds added: "This is an exciting new chapter for Algonquin. We're optimists--we look at change like this as opportunity. Despite all the twists and turns in the book business these days, we are essentially in the talent business. And I see this strong new team taking the baton from Elisabeth and continuing to grow the company's relevance, importance, and success. I'll miss working with Elisabeth--we all will. But she couldn't have left us in better hands."

The company noted that "under Scharlatt's stewardship, Algonquin has grown from a tiny Southern publisher to a highly respected house with a presence in the national conversation about books and literature, publishing many award winners and bestsellers." These have included Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, The Leavers by Lisa Ko, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and the work of Julia Alvarez, from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents to the forthcoming Afterlife.

Michael McKenzie

"It's been not just fun, but a privilege to work with a smart and creative staff to help bring such treasures to the public," Scharlatt said. "And I'm gratified knowing that the momentum will continue with the group who will keep Algonquin growing, thriving."

Before joining Algonquin, Gleick was a writer and editor at both Time and People. "I'm honored to have this chance to build on Elisabeth's work and am energized by the idea of working with the terrific team here to continue to expand the breadth and depth--and reach--of Algonquin's tremendous backlist and frontlist," Gleick said.

McKenzie joined Algonquin in 2015 after overseeing publicity for almost a decade at Ecco/HarperCollins. "While I will miss Elisabeth dearly, I'm incredibly excited about this next chapter at Algonquin and thrilled to continue working with our fantastic team to further strengthen our publishing program and find new ways to connect our writers with readers," he said.


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Bookshop Santa Cruz's Neal Coonerty Enters 'True Retirement'

Casey Coonerty Protti and Neal Coonerty

Last Friday marked another major retirement in the business: Neal Coonerty, owner for many years of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., and former president of the American Booksellers Association, worked his last register shift at the bookstore. Since he turned over operations of the store 13 years ago to his daughter Casey Coonerty Protti, he had worked a two-hour shift on Fridays and holidays, to be around the books and store he loved. Now, 46 years after he and the late Candy Coonerty took over ownership of Bookshop Santa Cruz, he is, the store noted on Facebook, "entering true retirement and will be walking the stacks as a reader."

The store added: "Neal worked the register through the days after the [Loma Prieta] earthquake and as chain bookstores located nearby and never lost sight that the customers he was helping were the ones that were keeping us going all those years. How many books passed through his hands? We'll never know, but we will always be grateful. Congrats, Neal, on your true retirement! Hope you get some great reading in!"

We at Shelf Awareness also wish Neal a wonderful true retirement. He has always been a most thoughtful, classy man who accomplished so much, including, after the 1989 earthquake, the rebuilding of the store and of downtown Santa Cruz.


Notes

Image of the Day: 'Throw Shade and Vote'

After encouraging several hundred fans to "Throw Shade and Vote" during his meet-and-greet signing, former official White House photographer Pete Souza posed for a picture with booksellers from Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif. Left to right: Stacey Haerr, Gustavo Lomas, Amanda Qassar, Emily Vermillion, Julie Slavinsky, Pete Souza, Adrian Newell, John Beaudette, James Jensen.


Happy 5th Birthday, Second Star to the Right!

Owners Dea and Marc Lavoie celebrate at Second Star to the Right.

Congratulations to Second Star to the Right, Denver, Colo., which is turning five today. It celebrated with a birthday party on Saturday afternoon that featured book giveaways, 10% off all stock, a crocodile craft, an appearance by Peter Pan and a cake and birthday song. Erin Morris, author of Who Is Sam the Soldier?, joined a special storytime in the morning; several local authors, including Carmela Coyle, Claudia Mills and Laura Roettigier, came to the afternoon party.


Bookshop Marriage Proposal: Bookmiser New & Used Books

Bookmiser New & Used Books, Marietta, Ga., shared photos of an in-store marriage proposal on Facebook, noting: "This sweet couple spent part of their first date at Bookmiser, so when it was time to propose, Adam reached out to us. All we did was provide the location while Adam set up this romantic proposal. You'll be happy to know that Nichole said yes! Take note, guys! Adam has set a high standard to live up to!"


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Allison Moorer on Fresh Air

Today:
Today Show: Karine Jean-Pierre, author of Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America (Hanover Square Press, $26.99, 9781335917836). She will also appear on MSNBC's Morning Joe and Deadline: White House.

Fresh Air: Allison Moorer, author of Blood: A Memoir (Da Capo Press, $27, 9780306922688).

Ellen: Jon Dorenbos, co-author of Life Is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery (Avid Reader Press/S&S, $27, 9781982101244).

Daily Show: Colson Whitehead, author of The Nickel Boys (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385537070).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Senator Sherrod Brown, author of Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374138219).

Also on the Late Show: Tim McGraw, author of Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life (Harper Wave, $29.99, 9780062915931). He will also appear tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Gloria Steinem, author of The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion (Random House, $22, 9780593132685).

Also on Late Night: Questlove, author of Mixtape Potluck Cookbook: A Dinner Party for Friends, Their Recipes, and the Songs They Inspire (Abrams Image, $29.99, 9781419738135).

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Susannah Cahalan, author of The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness (Grand Central, $28, 9781538715284).

Also on Today: Mitch Albom, author of Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family (Harper, $24.99, 9780062952394).

Watch What Happens Live: Karamo Brown, co-author of I Am Perfectly Designed (Holt, $18.99, 9781250232212).

Tonight Show: Jenny Slate, author of Little Weirds (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316485340).

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


TV: Normal People

A first look at the series adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel Normal People was featured in Vanity Fair. Rooney co-wrote episodes, and Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie Macdonald directed the series that stars Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Connell and Marianne. Normal People premieres next year on Hulu and the BBC.

"My favorite scenes from the book generally took the form of conversations between the two protagonists--in abandoned houses, in apartment kitchens, in cars, and in bed," said Rooney. "I'm excited to see those dynamics beginning to unfold in a new way on the screen."



Books & Authors

Awards: Southern Book Prize Finalists

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced finalists for the 2020 Southern Book Prize. representing bookseller favorites from 2019 that are Southern in nature--either about the South, or by a Southern writer. Nominations were submitted by SIBA bookstore members and culled from titles that have received strong reviews from Southern booksellers. Winners will be announced February 14, Valentine’s Day. This year's finalists are:

Fiction
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson (Morrow)
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Harper)
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler (Hub City Press)
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Atria)

Nonfiction
Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy by Cassandra King (Morrow)
Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (Doubleday)
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions)
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott (Atria)
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf)

Children's
Hum and Swish by Matt Myers (Neal Porter Books)
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers)
I Will Be Fierce by Bea Birdsong (Roaring Brook Press)
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (Wednesday Books)
The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes (Nancy Paulsen Books)


Nikki Grimes: 'Bookselling Is Sacred--Why Not Embrace the Joy of That?'

Nikki Grimes

At the New England Independent Booksellers Association fall conference last month in Providence, R.I., author Nikki Grimes, whose new book is Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir (Wordsong/Boyds Mill), spoke with beauty and resonance about the power of words, reading and writing, and books and bookstores. She graciously agreed to share her remarks, which included several poems from Ordinary Hazards, with readers of Shelf Awareness:

This morning, I want to open with a poem about my favorite bookstore in Harlem.

Michaux's
Mention Harlem
and The Apollo is what
often comes to mind, but
Daddy introduced me to
another entertainment venue:
National Memorial African Bookstore
or, as everybody called it, Michaux's,
its exterior busy with posters
and signs like:
"Knowledge is power
and you need it every hour."

I followed Daddy through the door and,
like Alice, slid down a magical rabbit-hole.
Eyes too wide for words,
I gazed at the walls and walls of books
sandwiched together:
The Souls of Black Folk, Black Boy,
Maud Martha, And Then We Heard the Thunder,
books signed by Eartha Kitt, LeRoi Jones
and Langston Hughes, a local.
Surely, the neighborhood library
was jealous!

From the corner of my eye,
I spied a staircase leading—where?
"What's there?"
I asked Mr. Michaux, pointing.
"Go on down and see," he coaxed.
Daddy nodded, letting me know
it was okay to explore.
I tread carefully, step by step,
down into a dimly lit cavern
of floor-to-ceiling metal cases
bulging with even more books.
I roamed the narrow aisles,
gingerly tracing the
delicately bound spines
as if each was
a book-shaped diamond,
the name of each author, a ruby:
Zora Neale Hurston, John O. Killens,
Rosa Guy, Gwendolyn Brooks,
Henry Dumas, Chinua Achebe—
hundreds and thousands
of beautiful books by and about
people who look like me,
stories from the African Diaspora
my father spoke of passionately.

For more than an hour,
I devoured a page here, two pages there,
easily squeezing between bookcases
crammed so tightly,
no claustrophobic
could survive the adventure.
As for me, I knew I'd found
a place to call home
for the foreseeable future.
When I finally let Daddy drag me away,
I left Michaux's with a single thought:

My books will be here, some day.

Bookstores have always held a special place in my heart.  Anyplace where books live is home to me.

I wonder if you, as booksellers, truly understand that the work you do is sacred. Day in and day out, rain or shine, you are caretakers of language. James Baldwin said, "It is experience which shapes a language, and it is language which controls experience." Too true.

You, my friends, handle the delicate treasure of words bundled in these extraordinary packages called "Books," books that have the power to help or heal. Books that, at times, traverse dark and difficult worlds, and yet also manage to ferry joy and hope. Books brimming with words sturdy enough to uplift and inspire, even as they entertain, educate, and challenge the way a reader sees the world. Most importantly, though, more often than you might imagine, the words you traffic in actually have the power to save lives. And I would know. The written word saved mine. Here are more words from Ordinary Hazards.

Isolation Station
The house was full, but with strangers
and I was there by myself, in the dark, in a
tiny pocket of a room with a tiny bed to sleep in
and little space for the fears I'd packed in my suitcase,
which makes no sense, because why would I bring them with me?  
And the night sounds, foreign to this city-girl, left me tossing and turning. There was no more room in my head to hold the anger
rising like steam, searing the edges of my brain, there was not even
a shelf where I could stack the questions crying out for answers
that wouldn't come: Why did Mom love liquor more than Carol,
more than me? Why did Daddy let strangers take us away?
Why did Grandma refuse to come to our rescue?
Why didn't they love us?  Why didn't anyone love us enough?
Whywhywhywhwhywhywhywhywhywhy?  Why?

"Stop!"

I leapt out of bed, switched on the light,
grabbed a piece of paper and a pen,
stabbed the page and let my thoughts gush like a geyser,
shooting high into the moonless sky
then falling down on the page I held captive
till every line was stained with my feelings, and
the heat of them finally had a chance to cool, and
suddenly, I could breathe, breathe, breathe, and
there was once again room enough in my head
and my heart to just--be.
Then I closed my eyes.   
And it was morning.

Secret
I slipped the tear-smudged page
into my dresser drawer.  
Those words were strictly for
God and me. Besides,
this writing thing
was some kind of magic trick
I didn't yet understand,
except for this:
Magicians rarely share
their secrets.
Journey

My life in notebooks
began with this,
a poem here,
an observation there,
a rage of red ink--
each sheet of white
a paper haven.
The blank page
was the only place
I could make sense
of my life,
or use to keep record of
each space
I called home.
The daily march of words
parading from my pen
kept me moving
forward.

I've often said that, as a child, reading and writing were my survival tools. In many ways, they still are. I can't imagine what my life would be without the gift of the written word, whether as reader or writer.

This business of word-wielding, of language caretaking, and of bookselling is sacred, whether we treat it as such, or not. So let's. And as we wrestle with the day-to-day frustrations of what we do--and those frustrations are legion--let's pause to remember that the work we do is sacred. Why not embrace the joy of that?


Book Review

Review: Nietzsche and the Burbs

Nietzsche and the Burbs by Lars Iyer (Melville House, $16.99 paperback, 352p., 9781612198125, December 3, 2019)

Lars Iyer (Wittgenstein Jr.) makes nihilist philosophy hip and fun in his highly entertaining tragicomedy Nietzsche and the Burbs.

The novel introduces a group of disaffected teenagers finishing their last year of secondary school before heading out into the big, uncaring world: Art, Merv, Paula and the narrator, Chandra. The foursome inducts into their clique a new student, whom they nickname Nietzsche due to his gloomy disposition and pessimistic outlook on life. They sense he is intellectually superior, perhaps braver, and thus look up to him as a kind of leader. The four get him to front their rock band, called Nietzsche and the Burbs, believing music can save them from the banality of life. For his part, Nietzsche plays in the band--though not as enthusiastically as his friends would like--and spends most of his time developing a philosophy of the suburbs, posting on his blog about his conclusions while participating in the parties and the general hullabaloo of high school.

Iyer writes in short, emphatic elliptical sentences, a little maddening in their repetition but effective in creating a mood of rebellious adolescence. The style works in portraying the young characters' molten thoughts and emotions, as well as in satirizing the suburbs and school life. The group lives and studies in a suburban English town aptly named Workingham, which comes to symbolize the "hangover of history," the final phase of humanity distinguished by a nauseating sameness. As much fun as Iyer has in hilariously sending up tract houses and golf courses, he's at his satirical best describing the social stratification in the school. It's not the jocks or the "beasts" that rule the day, but rather the "drudges," those complacent, phone-addicted students who seem to have succumbed entirely to first-world mediocrity.

There's something daring and poetic in the main characters' resistance to suburban culture. They take drugs, they read books, and they play music that defies categorization. In their nihilism, they talk about affirming their lives in a significant way, through art, through suffering. Iyer brings Nietzschean philosophy to heady, raucous life, fleshing out the ideas of nihilism and existentialism in ways that few books do. The characters don't just talk philosophy; they embody it in their decisions and actions. They test their surroundings with radical ideas. It's an exhilarating ride, evoking the grandiosity of youth and the dynamics of counterculture itself. Of course, there's a tragic arc to the story. Beneath every uproarious protest cry is something human and fallible, Iyer sharply reminds readers.

The brilliant, relentless drive of the narrative of Nietzsche and the Burbs demands a certain amount of stamina from readers. But the payoff is great. Perhaps not since Don DeLillo's White Noise has a novel so funnily and savagely lifted the veil on Western postmodern culture. What's underneath is hard to explain. Some may find darkness, others beauty. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: Lars Iyer explores philosophical ideas through a band of misfit adolescents in this intellectually thrilling and hilarious novel.


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