Also published on this date: Wednesday, November 20, 2019: Maximum Shelf: The Last Flight

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Simon & Schuster: Launch a Reading Star With Ready to Read Campaign

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Quotation of the Day

Reading with... Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottliebis a literary agent at Trident Media Group in New York City, helping writers realize their publishing dreams. While at Trident Media Group, Gottlieb represented bestselling and award-winning authors, and has sold books to film and TV companies. Before becoming a literary agent, Gottlieb ran Trident Media Group's audio department and worked in foreign rights. He maintains a blog about all things publishing here.

On your nightstand now: 

My nightstand is an ambitious place, containing a pile of books I hope to read for pleasure and will soon. Aside from reading the manuscripts of the authors I work with, I have Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, Frank Herbert's Dune (reading again in time for the movie/TV show), Michael DeForge's Leaving Richard's Valley, Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching and Nick Drnaso's Sabrina. There are a lot of books I would like to add to the stack at the risk of it beginning to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Diana Engel's The Little Lump of Clay is a real tearjerker. The book is about a tiny ball of clay no one pays any attention to at the bottom of a bin of clay. One day a little boy picks it up and makes it into a tiny teacup. For the first time in the little clay's life, it feels self-worth. I still have my copy somewhere. It is strange to think that my favorite childhood book has gone out of print, but things could change.

Your top five authors:

This is a tough one... so many great authors out there, including the authors I have worked with over the years. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Kurt Vonnegut for his wit and economy of language; Tom Robbins for his profound absurdity and the proof in his wild prose that reviewers were right to call him a "verbal break dancer"; Hunter S. Thompson for his deep dive into the truth of American politics and the heart of the American dream; Edith Wharton for her keen insights into the upper echelons of society, much of which still hold true today; and Charles Burns for his amazing artwork and the way he portrayed the darker side of society in his exploration of how society treats the ill.

Book you've faked reading:

Let me preface this by saying that the books of John Steinbeck are all dear to me, especially The Pearl and Cannery Row. I couldn't stand reading The Grapes of Wrath for the longest time, especially since I knew The Beverly Hillbillies to be something of a gross parody of the classic novel. I shouldn't have watched the parody before attempting to read the novel, since the parody got superimposed onto the characters of Steinbeck's book--far worse than when one watches the movie before reading the book. I finally got around to The Grapes of Wrath, though. The film is also good for a long plane ride.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I still swear by Tom Robbins's Jitterbug Perfume, which reads like a fun, tangential and modern retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The novel gave me an appreciation for the importance of our ability to stop and smell the roses during life's impermanence.

Book you've bought for the cover:

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it, right? I'm a sucker for special effects on covers such as foil, embossing and high gloss. Sometimes the paper stock gets me, too. I couldn't resist buying Gary Panter's Jimbo in Purgatory for the foil-heavy cover, absurd storybook trim size and medieval manuscript/Bosch-inspired margin art. I was a deer in the headlights. Panter's book is a modern retelling of Dante's Divine Comedy but starring a punk rocker in a shopping mall. I don't think I was wrong to judge Jimbo in Purgatory by the cover.

Book you hid from your parents:

While I never hid books from my parents because they are both book lovers, it seems to me that most kids would have hidden these books of mine, since they were filled with sex/drugs/rock 'n' roll: Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch.

Book that changed your life:

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man will always be a light in the darkness for many, and it won major awards such as the National Book Award, so no wonder it is now a classic and required reading in many schools. I think Ralph Ellison's novel stands as a testament to what the individual must sometimes withstand in the face of the dangers of groupthink. It reminds people of the importance of individualism. I continually come back to Invisible Man as a source of inspiration in my life and in my work.

Favorite line from a book:

I know that a lot of people probably use this quote, but I have always enjoyed this line from the poet Dylan Thomas, reminding us to live each day to its fullest: "Do not go gentle into that good night,/ Old age should burn and rave at close of day;/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Just don't put that quote on a poster for inspiration and we can all continue to feel comfortable in using it.

Five books you'll never part with:

If I get stuck on a desert island, I think it would be wise of me to bring along a few classics since those never get old, right? Let's say Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and a novel by each of the Brontë sisters. There are some rare books that I keep in an old grandfather clock I gutted and added shelves to for storing my rare books and antique cameras. A couple of the books I would bring from there are my signed copy of A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee and my first edition of The Stories of John Cheever.

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

Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha might make me feel enlightened all over again and bring me back to some good times in my high school years. Hesse's book was a big doorway for me to Buddhism and many other books, such as works by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, and even Osamu Tezuka's manga, Buddha. Hesse's book was one of the first my parents put in my hands as a teen. It was as though they knew I was about to embark on a new journey. Who knows, reading Siddhartha again for the first time might just inspire me to go on another road trip!

Favorite time and place to read:

I can't think of a better place than on a plane or on a beach. A plane will have just a few distractions such as the occasional announcement or drink and snack service. There are also very few things to disturb a reader on the beach, too, other than the sound of the ocean and the birds. As for a favorite time of day or evening to read? Anytime is a good time, but the best time is when I'm having my coffee on a quiet Saturday morning. Now if I could just get some coffee on the beach.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart


James Patterson to Receive National Humanities Medal

James Patterson

Bestselling author James Patterson is among the artists and philanthropists who will be honored Thursday at the White House by President Donald Trump for their contributions to the arts or the humanities, the Associated Press reported. While the honors had been an annual affair during past administrations, they have not been awarded since Trump's inauguration in 2017.

Patterson will receive a National Humanities Medal "for being one of the most successful American authors of our time. His prodigious imagination has resulted in fascinating works that have been enjoyed by millions and his championship of literacy in America has inspired many to realize their potential."

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities solicit candidates for the medals and compile proposed winners. The White House, which sometimes adds its own nominees, traditionally approves and announces them ahead of a presidential ceremony.

Recipients of the National Medal of Arts are Alison Krauss, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the Musicians of the United States Military and Jon Voight. The other Humanities Medal honorees include the Claremont Institute, Teresa Lozano Long and Patrick O'Connell.

The AP noted that Patterson's 2016 book Filthy Rich: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein--The Billionaire's Sex Scandal "includes several references to Trump, including an account of the men's falling out."

Florida Bookstore for Sale: Email

Atticus Bookstore Cafe Owner Charles Negaro Sr. Retires

Charles Negaro, Sr.

Charles Negaro Sr., founder of Atticus Bookstore Café, New Haven, Conn., has retired, marking "the end of one of New Haven's retail success stories of the past 40 years," from his founding of the bookstore in 1976 through "its evolution into a coffeehouse and then restaurant; and the development of the related Chabaso Bakery on James Street, where the ciabatta is baked not just for Atticus, but for venues throughout the Northeast," the New Haven Independent reported.

Noting the businesses are as strong as ever, the Independent wrote that "they will remain in the family. After 16 years learning the ropes at both operations and gradually assuming authority, 36-year-old Charlie Jr. this week officially took over as the boss."

In a joint interview on WNHH FM's Dateline New Haven, "the two Charlies reflected on their years building up the businesses and on future plans. Charlie Sr. in particular downplayed his own success--attributing it to luck--while stressing how different his son is, how better prepared for the task."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Virginia Beach B&N Reopens After Redesign

Barnes & Noble's Town Center, Virginia Beach, Va., location reopened last week following a redesign, the Virginian-Pilot reported. The store, which closed in April, now features a more open design, shorter bookshelves and a smaller footprint, though the location still carries around 25,000 titles.

"It's a smaller space, but it's a more efficient space," Frank Morabito, B&N's v-p of stores, told the newspaper. "When you walk in, the books are the heroes."

During the redesign, the store was trimmed from 27,000 square feet to around 17,000 square feet, with a new Mediterranean restaurant now occupying the vacated space. The store still carries plenty of sidelines such as toys, board games and vinyl records, but they've been reorganized into "discovery hubs." The location's cafe has also been expanded and now features more outlets and wireless chargers on the countertops.

The book selection, meanwhile, has been made easier to navigate, featuring more nooks and display tables rather than long aisles of shelves. And as part of a shift in focus since James Daunt took over as CEO, managers are now encouraged to adjust inventory based on their community's interests.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Amazon Books Opens in Scottsdale, Ariz.

A new Amazon Books location opened Tuesday morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Phoenix Business Journal reported. The store is 4,000 square feet and is located in the Scottsdale Quarter outdoor shopping mall.

The Scottsdale store carries the usual mix of books and electronics, with benefits for Prime members. It is the 20th Amazon Books location overall and according to the Business Journal is Amazon's first physical store in the greater Phoenix area, aside from Whole Foods.

Obituary Note: Craig Campbell

Hachette NZ sales representative Craig Campbell, who worked for Hachette, Hodder Moa Beckett and Hodder & Stoughton for more than 34 years and "was one of Hachette's longest standing employees anywhere in the world," died November 8, Booksellers NZ reported.

Campbell launched his career as the South Island hardback sales rep for Hodder & Stoughton in the 1980s "and worked with a long and distinguished list of booksellers the length and breadth of the South Island and in more recent years the lower half of the North Island," Booksellers NZ noted, adding: "Craig was incredibly dedicated and professional, he had a deep understanding and love of books and an easy rapport with customers. He could always be relied on for straightforward non-nonsense feedback. Craig was a man of few words, but those laconic words were always well-chosen and often very funny. Craig was a wonderful friend and colleague and we will miss him very much."


Image of the Day: Obama Visits Her Local Bookstore

Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., hosted Michelle Obama yesterday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her memoir, Becoming (Crown), as well as the release of Becoming: A Guided Journal (Clarkson Potter).

On Instagram, Obama posted, "Today I stopped by @politicsprose, a local bookstore here in DC, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Becoming. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I shared my story with the world. Since the #IAmBecoming tour came to a close, I found myself reflecting on many of the conversations I had with so many of you--from the book clubs and community groups I visited to all the thoughtful comments and conversations we had online. I noticed so many of us face a common challenge--that no matter who we are or where we come from, too often, we convince ourselves that our stories don't matter.  So, as we approach a New Year, I wanted to find a way to help us all embrace our own stories. That's what the Becoming Journal is all about--reflecting on our lives, especially the tiniest details. That's how we can keep becoming--by seeing our stories for the powerful truths that they are, and then, by reaching out to each other and embracing all the vulnerability, the wisdom, and the twists and turns that both make our journeys so unique--and bind us together so tightly...."

Bookstore Video: 'Ask Alexis' at Midtown Reader

"Need something to read? Ask Alexis!" Midtown Reader, Tallahassee, Fla., created an entertaining YouTube video showing, once again, that "nothing beats bookseller AI (actual intelligence). Support your local, independent bookstore!"

Personnel Changes at Holiday House; Sourcebooks

Michelle Montague has been promoted to executive director, marketing at Holiday House. She was formerly director, trade marketing.


Alexis Banyon has joined Sourcebooks as director of sales, custom and proprietary. She was most recently director, partnerships and brand management at HarperCollins and previously has worked at Disney and Candlewick.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robert Bilott on the View

The View: Robert Bilott, author of Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer's Twenty-Year Battle against DuPont (Atria, $28, 9781501172816).

Watch What Happens Live: Hoda Kotb, author of I Really Needed This Today: Words to Live By (Putnam, $24, 9780735217416).

Movies: The Capote Tapes

Greenwich Entertainment has acquired North American distribution rights to The Capote Tapes, a documentary by first-time director Ebs Burnough. Deadline reported that the film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and closed the DOC NYC event last week, will get a theatrical release next year.

According to the project's logline, "Answered Prayers was meant to be Truman Capote's greatest masterpiece, an epic portrait of New York's glittering jet-set society. Instead, it sparked his downfall. Through never-before-heard audio archives and interviews with Capote's friends and enemies, The Capote Tapes reveals the rise and fall of America's most iconic gay writer."

"Truman Capote is one of history's most prolific and mysterious writers, and we are thrilled to work with Greenwich to release The Capote Tapes so a wider audience can appreciate the essence of such a fascinating icon," said Burnough.

The Capote Tapes features interviews with Dick Cavett, André Leon Talley, Jay McInerney, Dotson Rader and Kate Harrington, "as well as unprecedented access to George Plimpton's taped interviews for his 1997 biography, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career," Deadline noted.

Books & Authors

Awards: Scotiabank Giller Winner; PNBA Shortlist

Ian Williams won the $100,000 (about US$75,460) Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction, for his novel Reproduction. Each of the finalists received C$10,000 (about US$7,545).

The jury said the winning book "is many things at once. It's an engrossing story of disparate people brought together and also a masterful unfolding of unexpected connections and collisions between and across lives otherwise separated by race, class, gender and geography. It's a pointed and often playful plotting out of individual and shared stories in the close spaces of hospital rooms, garages, mansions and apartments, and a symphonic performance of resonant and dissonant voices, those of persons wanting to impress, persuade, deny, or beguile others, and always trying again."


The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has announced a shortlist for the 2020 Book Awards, selected by a committee of PNBA members. The six winners will be announced January 8. The shortlisted titles are:

Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West by David Wolman & Julian Smith (Morrow)
The Cassandra: A Novel by Sharma Shields (Holt)
The Death & Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story by Aaron Bobrow-Stain (FSG)
Deep River: A Novel by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang (Knopf)
Fall Back Down When I Die: A Novel by Joe Wilkins (Little, Brown)
Is, Is Not: Poems by Tess Gallagher (Graywolf Press)
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (Holt Books for Young Readers)
My Heart by Corinna Luyken (Dial Books/Penguin Young Readers)
The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden, illustrated by Rachel Wada, written by Heather Smith (Orca Book Publishers)
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis (Walker Books/Candlewick)
A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

Book Review

Children's Review: Freedom Soup

Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara (Candlewick, $16.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-9, 9780763689773, December 10, 2019)

In Tami Charles and Jacqueline Alcántara's Freedom Soup, a granddaughter and grandmother create a traditional Haitian meal together, combining history and delicious food. The two prepare Freedom Soup, a stew filled with vegetables, meat and herbs made to celebrate the New Year in most Haitian households. Ti Gran instructs Belle on what ingredients to slide into the pot. As Belle adds the ingredients, Ti Gran explains the origins of the soup, which doubles as the history of Haitian independence from colonialism and slavery.

Jacqueline Alcántara's (The Field) textured illustrations--rendered in pencil, marker and gouache and then assembled digitally--are accented with the golden orange of Belle's favorite ingredient: pumpkin. The smell of the garlicky gourd swirls around them as they cook and dance to the rhythmic "kompa" music playing in the background. The sumptuous illustrations accentuate the evocative text, which never shies away from hard truths, such as "Nothing in the world is free, not even freedom."

The narrative switches between recipe steps in the present day and descriptions of the hard-won fight for independence in the past. As Ti Gran discloses the origins of the stew, scenes of Haiti's 12-year fight for freedom from the French are woven in throughout. Grandmother and child move across the pages in a fluid dance, at times fully immersed in these spreads, as if the past and present can't be separated from each other. The steam from the boiling pot gives way to an image of the Haitians storming a beach, charging toward their subjugators; the characters are transplanted to the vast fields where their enslaved ancestors had to till the land. Every spread brims with jubilant colors and fluid lines, and Alcántara furnishes the kitchen and living room with family photos and cultural markers, such as a cross, paintings and a Haitian flag.

Tami Charles's text is just as celebratory as the illustrator's images. In an author's note, Charles (Becoming Beatriz) shares her inspiration for this luscious picture book: her husband's Ti Gran taught her how to make Freedom Soup (or Soup Joumou) with a recipe that had been passed down for generations. She includes their family's kid-friendly recipe, giving readers an opportunity to make the traditional soup at home. Haitian Creole words appear throughout, adding to the book's authenticity, and some are translated within the recipe.

The story concludes with family members and friends pouring into Ti Gran's home, a shelter from the "cottony-thick" snow. Joy overflows the rooms as they celebrate the new year--and Belle's delicious soup. Her pride in her cooking skills reflects her pride in her Haitian heritage: "I puff out my shoulders wider than the Haitian mountains, stand so tall I can almost touch the moon." --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library

Shelf Talker: Tami Charles and Jessica Alcántara's picture book celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, familial bonds and food reminds that there's nothing like the taste of freedom--and warm stew on a snowy day.

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