Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 25, 2019

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

Amulet Books: Batcat: Volume 1 by Meggie Ramm

Berkley Books: The Comeback Summer by Ali Brady

Quotation of the Day

James Daunt: 'B&N Stores Crucifyingly Boring'

"I now arrive at Barnes & Noble where they've had a loyalty programme forever and a day. And yet if you walk into any of the Barnes & Noble bookstores, they are the most crucifyingly boring stores. Which is odd, because they know what people want, they have all this data, and yet they can't interpret it and they've been unable to manipulate that knowledge to in any way deliver decent bookstores to people....

"We have to use our character and personality, the curation and the intellectual engagement that we have as booksellers with the titles that are published, an ability to seize the book that not many have noticed, to champion it, to spread it. If we can't do that, then we have no role and we'll be destroyed."

--James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble and managing director of Waterstones, in a keynote speech at the FutureBook conference in London, as quoted by the Bookseller

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams


More Plans for Indies First/SBS

With Indies First/Small Business Saturday coming this weekend, here is another look at what independent booksellers around the country have planned for the annual celebration of shopping small.

More than 50 publishers, from the big five to university presses, are offering special terms to indie booksellers for Indies First. Booksellers can find a full list of these terms on the American Booksellers Association's website.

In Brooklyn, N.Y., Greenlight Bookstore is celebrating the anniversary of its second location in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, which opened in 2016. As a thank you to community members, Greenlight will be offering 20% off everything in store, and there will be free hot chocolate, cider and a variety of treats from a neighboring restaurant. In addition to all of the above, there will be special giveaways and other surprises.

At Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Wash., the store's Fairhaven location will welcome two local authors to sign copies of their books and offer recommendations to shoppers. From 11 a.m. until noon, Spencer Ellsworth will sign copies of The Great Faerie Strike, and Sean Dwyer will be signing copies of his memoir The Quest for Tears from noon until 1 p.m.

Octavia Books in New Orleans, La., is celebrating Indies First/SBS by inviting a host of local authors to volunteer as front-line booksellers for the day. The store will also be giving away plenty of special gifts, including tote bags, T-shirts and more.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, the King's English Bookshop is taking part not only in Indies First/SBS but also Shift Your Spending Week. From Friday, November 29, through Sunday, December 8, customers will receive 15% off all their purchases as a thank you for shopping at a locally owned, Utah business.

Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., will be adding a new wrinkle to its Indies First/SBS tradition this year. Starting at 11 a.m., customers will be able to take part in the store's first Jigsaw Puzzle Swap, and shoppers who bring in at least one puzzle to swap will receive 20% off any new puzzle.

At Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., a host of local authors will serve as booksellers for a day, including Dan Moren, author of The Bayern Agenda; Elizabeth Ames, author of The Other's Gold; Sara Jean Horwitz, author of the Carmer and Grit books; and Edwin Hill, author of the Hester Thursby mystery novels.

In Chicago, Ill., Women & Children First will have complimentary refreshments as well as special giveaways, and shoppers who spend more than $150 will receive a tote bag designed by Molly Costello commemorating the store's 40th anniversary. Local coffee shop the Coffee Studio will be providing coffee and snacks in the morning, and Sauce and Bread Kitchen will bring sweets for the afternoon.

And in Wichita, Kan., Watermark Books & Cafe is participating once again in the citywide Shop Small ICT event. Shoppers can collect an #SBSICT passport at a participating small business and can then receive stickers for making purchases at a variety of locally owned businesses across Wichita from Saturday, November 30, through Sunday, December 15. Shoppers who collect stickers from at least 10 different businesses will be entered into a drawing for a gift basket full of items from participating vendors.

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire

Kentucky's Roebling Point Books & Coffee Looking for New Home

After 10 years in downtown Covington, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Roebling Point Books & Coffee is looking for new space after owner Richard Hunt decided not to renew his lease. "We have great rent," he told WCPO-TV. "The market rate is going to take it up to an area that's beyond our reach."

In a refrain that is familiar to many booksellers, Hunt added that the bookstore helped revitalize the area and draw new businesses--and is now being priced out. "We feel like we helped," he said. "You want to be one of the people attracting people down here. [But] did we help turn this to the point where we can't afford to stay?"

Hunt told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he wants to keep the store in northern Kentucky and has looked at spaces in Newport, Ludlow and Bellevue. He's also encouraged by an 11-mile trail along the river that will include some developments.

"We feel so part of that community we want to stay within it," Hunt said.

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Welcome to the World by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Basic Books UK Launches

Basic Books in New York and John Murray Press in London are creating Basic Books UK, a new imprint of John Murray Press, that will work closely with its U.S. counterpart to publish nonfiction titles by "influential historians, scientists, mathematicians, economists, psychologists and other leading experts on both sides of the Atlantic." Basic and John Murray Press are part of Hachette Book Group and Hachette UK, respectively.

The first title from Basic UK will be The AI Disruption by Martin Ford, which will be published simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K. in Spring 2021. Following that Basic UK and Basic Books will publish A World Without Stars by Roberto Trotta and Scorched Earth by Paul Thomas Chamberlin.

Nick Davies, managing director of John Murray Press who is also publisher of Basic UK, commented: "It's a great honour to welcome Basic Books to the U.K. We've collaborated with the U.S. team for many years now, but this marks an exciting new chapter in our relationship. The Basic list is shot through with quality and gravitas--a tradition that we will be building on with a new generation of British and European talent. It presents a unique opportunity to build a serious nonfiction list with one of the most respected brands in American publishing, and the support of one of the most successful publishing divisions in the U.K."

Lara Heimert, publisher at Basic Books in New York, added: "I've long hoped to extend the Basic imprint into the United Kingdom, and I'm thrilled that we're able to achieve that goal in partnership with John Murray. This new partnership reflects my deep admiration for Nick's tremendous creativity, intelligence, and entrepreneurialism. I am excited to see Nick and his publishing team bring the quality of the Basic Books list to more readers in the U.K. and around the world. And I'm excited for the many new writers who Nick and his team will bring into Basic's orbit."

BookNet Canada: 'All About Canadian Book Clubs'

The percentage of Canadian book buyers who belong to a book club or reading group jumped from 7% in 2018 to 14% in 2019, according to a recent BookNet Canada research report, Reading Together: Book Clubs in Canada, which took this statistic from its quarterly consumer data panel and expanded on it to create a survey just for book club members across Canada.

Among the highlights was a breakdown of book club membership:

  • 63% of members are women
  • 55% are between 25 and 44
  • 64% join to talk about books
  • 69% belong to just one club

The survey also found that 47% of respondents are members of a celebrity book club, led by Oprah Winfrey (46%), who is followed by Emma Watson (26%), Emma Roberts (20%), and Sarah Jessica Parker and Reese Witherspoon (17% each).

The "in-it-for-the-wine book club" cliche may be a myth, since 64% of members reported they had joined their clubs mainly to talk about books and 56% to be exposed to new titles. Social reasons were nevertheless important: 50% joined to meet new friends, 39% to connect with existing friends and 31% to talk about life.

The survey noted that key influencers for members who suggested picks for their book clubs were word-of-mouth (52%), bookstores (49%) and libraries (44%).

Adult fiction was the most popular book club reading category (74%), followed by mysteries/thrillers (60%) and adult nonfiction (65%), with true crime and biographies/memoirs the most popular subgenres at 44% each.

BookNet Canada offers a complimentary sample of Reading Together: Book Clubs in Canada--as well the full survey available for purchase--here.

Remembering Toni Morrison

"This is a sacred space," said Kevin Young, addressing the crowd that filled the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City last Thursday for a celebration of the life of Toni Morrison. "Not least of which because it is resonant with writing and writers who, like Morrison, wrote themselves free."

Young--poetry editor of the New Yorker and director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture--continued: "It is also, as you know, the space where James Baldwin's funeral was held in 1987, where Morrison offered a eulogy for her friend." Young described Morrison's impact on him, as a college student and budding writer, and later as a friend. "Over the years her own work had helped me to realize two of her many truths: the very serious function of racism is distraction," he said, "And also that the function of freedom is to free someone else."

He closed with Morrison's poem "I Am Not Seaworthy," from her book Five Poems, which begins: I am not seaworthy./ Look how the fish mistake my hair for home.

Home emerged as a theme throughout the nearly two-hour tribute by artists, writers and musicians.

Saxophonist David Murray started off with a song of his own called "Home," then segued into a version of Dvorak's "Going Home," and returned to his original composition. What does not come across in the recording of the ceremony is the way Murray made the most of the cavernous reaches of the Cathedral.

These otherworldly musical ideas echoed in the observations of activist and writer Angela Davis about her editor and dear friend of nearly half a century. "She demonstrated a way of being in the world that allowed her simultaneously to inhabit multiple dimensions," Davis said. "She was always here and there at the same time, totally present with you but also at the same time creating new universes." Davis described how Morrison was completely involved in a conversation while they drove together, then, while traffic was stopped on the George Washington Bridge, she jotted notes for the novel she was working on, Song of Solomon, then continued the conversation. "She realized perhaps more than anyone else that deep radical change happens not so much because people march and put themselves on the line, however important this kind of activism might be," Davis said, "but rather because we collectively learn to imagine ourselves on different terms with the world."

Author Fran Lebowitz called Morrison, "Two of my four closest friends." Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward described the impact of Morrison's writing on her: with "her patience, her presence, her attention, she told us, 'You are worthy.... I know you. I see you.' " Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke of his father's struggling bookstore on Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore, and how the 1974 nonfiction anthology she edited, The Black Book, came to be in his home, and was discovered by Coates as a child. "The lesson was this," he said, "Black is beautiful but it ain't always pretty." As his editor, he continued, Morrison "was not there to anoint me. She was there to challenge me." Edwidge Danticat, addressing Morrison, said, "You gave us both lullabies and battle cries. You turned pain into flesh and you brought spirits to life. You urged us to be dangerously free. You led this foreigner to a different type of home." Oprah Winfrey, who selected Morrison's books more than any other author's for her book club, said, "With her words as guide and companion, she asks us to follow our own pain. To reckon with it. To transcend it." --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor

Obituary Note: Gahan Wilson

Gahan Wilson, "whose outlandish, often ghoulish cartoons added a bizarrely humorous touch to Playboy, the New Yorker, National Lampoon and other publications in the era when magazines propelled the cultural conversation," died November 21, the New York Times reported. He was 89.

"Some cartoonists can be good by having jokes, gags, and they're funny gags," New Yorker editor David Remnick observed in Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird, a 2013 documentary directed by Steven-Charles Jaffe. "The really great ones develop a private language, a set of characters, a set of expectations, a world. Gahan Wilson developed a world."

"Gahan Wilson is dead. I'd make a joke about it, but nobody joked ever about Death as well as Gahan, or, I suspect, for as long," Neil Gaiman wrote on his website, where he shared his introduction for Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons.

Several collections of Wilson's work have been published, including Nuts: A Graphic Novel; Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics; Gahan Wilson's Out There; Is Nothing Sacred?; and The Man in the Cannibal Pot. He also wrote and illustrated a number of children's books, as well as two mystery novels (Eddy Deco's Last Caper, Everybody's Favorite Duck) for adults.

In a tribute, Michael Maslin wrote in the New Yorker that Wilson "was part of a select group of cartoonists who own their style, who deliver on paper what seems to be a good piece of themselves. It is a distinction shared by, to name just a few, Edward Koren, George Booth and Roz Chast. The work is somehow inseparable from who they are, and that's part of what makes it so memorable.... Wilson's art is both the heart-thumping you feel when you dare look under the bed and the relieved inner laugh you let loose after he's scared the pants off of you."


Image of the Day: Regionals at Miami Book Fair International

The Miami Book Fair International took place over the past week, culminating in the always-popular street fair over the weekend. Among the hundreds of authors, publishers and bookfolk attending were some of the executive directors of the regional booksellers organizations: (l.-r.) Calvin Crosby, Northern California Independent Booksellers Association; Heather Duncan, Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association; and Brian Jeuneman, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.

Personnel Changes at Books Are Magic

Nick Buzanski has joined Books Are Magic bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., as general manager. He was formerly general manager and a buyer at Book Culture in Manhattan.

Ingram's Two Rivers to Distribute David R. Godine, Inc.

Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution is providing global sales and distribution of print and e-books for David R. Godine, Inc., effective March 1, 2020.

Godine, Boston, Mass., which is nearly 50 years old, publishes 30-40 high-quality titles a year, including original fiction and nonfiction, rediscovered masterworks, translations of world literature, poetry, art, photography, and books for children.

Godine managing director David Allender commented, "It's rare for a publisher to become a brand, but the press achieved just that with an unwavering independence that is now the company's legacy. As David Godine steps toward retirement, it was of utmost importance that we find the right partner for sales and distribution." He added that both Godine and Ingram are "committed to excellence in serving authors, bookstores, and readers."

Two Rivers v-p and general manager Sabrina McCarthy called Godine "one of the country's great independent publishers. This partnership has the potential to significantly increase Godine's market in their 50th year. We look forward to bringing their unique portfolio of books to a much wider audience."

Casemate Digital Adds Seven Distribution Clients

Casemate Group has added the following publishers:

Australian Scholarly Publishing, for print distribution in all territories outside Australia/New Zealand and global digital distribution through Casemate Digital, effective January 1, 2020.

Dutch academic publisher Blikvelduitgevers, which focuses on Egyptology, for global print and digital distribution, effective immediately.

Bridge 21, which publishes in Asian studies, for global print and digital distribution.

Kerns Verlag, a new academic client, for print and digital books representation in all regions and countries, excluding Germany, effective immediately.

Messenger Publications, Dublin, Ireland, a growing religious publisher, for U.S. distribution with Casemate IPM and global digital distribution through Casemate Digital.

Neem Tree Press, for global print and digital distribution, represented under Casemate IPM and Casemate Digital.

Veritas Books, a leading Irish religious publisher and retailer, publishing 40-50 books a year in theology, spirituality, parenting, counselling and related categories, for U.S. print distribution, effective immediately.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Neal Katyal on Today

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Garth Brooks, author of The Anthology, Part III: Live (Pearl Records, $29.95, 9781595910394).

Tonight Show: Michael Eric Dyson, author of Jay-Z: Made in America (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250230966).

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

Today Show: Neal Katyal, co-author of Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump (Mariner, $14.99, 9780358391173).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Michael Symon, co-author of Fix It with Food: More Than 125 Recipes to Address Autoimmune Issues and Inflammation: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $30, 9781984825537).

The Real: Tina Lifford, author of The Little Book of Big Lies: A Journey into Inner Fitness (Amistad, $23.99, 9780062930286).

Movies: Emma; The Call of the Wild

The first trailer has been released for "a lively update" of Jane Austen's Emma, featuring Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) "as the iconic lead character in a social class satire brimming with comedic wit," Entertainment Weekly reported.

Directed by Autumn de Wilde from a script by Eleanor Catton, the film's cast also includes Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, and Callum Turner. Emma opens in limited release on February 21.


"Harrison Ford goes on the adventure of a lifetime with his new dog" in the trailer for The Call of the Wild, based on the Jack London novel, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Directed by Chris Sanders, the film also stars Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Colin Woodell. The Call of the Wild will be released February 21.

Books & Authors

Awards: BookTrust Storytime Winner

Emily Gravett won the inaugural £5,000 (about $6,415) BookTrust Storytime Prize, which honors "the best books for sharing with young children," for Cyril and Pat.

"I'm so excited that Cyril and Pat has won the very first BookTrust Storytime Prize," Gravett said. "When I imagine my books out in the world, I like to imagine them being shared, whether that's as part of a cozy bedtime, or in a classroom or library group, so I'm extra proud that Cyril and Pat has won a prize whose very ethos is to find the best books for sharing. Hurrah!"

BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald commented: "BookTrust set up this prize to give credit to the wonderful authors and illustrators that create the books that give families so much pleasure, before children can read themselves or even talk. We know, and this year's Annual Lecture by Paul Howard-Jones confirms, that these early reading experiences inform children's whole lives and pave the way to them becoming readers with all the benefits that brings--so thank you to all the publishers and creators that make reading so much fun!"

Top Library Recommended Titles for December

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 December titles public library staff across the country love:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Putnam, $26, 9780525541905). "Full of nuanced characters and a very current plot about race and privilege, Such a Fun Age will keep you slightly off-balance and questioning how you would react. Emira is a character that you'll love for her feistiness and strength of character. Perfect for fans of Americanah, Red at the Bone, and An American Marriage." --Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Conn.

Africaville: A Novel by Jeffrey Colvin (Amistad, $27.99, 9780062913722). "Africaville is a settlement of Jamaican people run out of their homes by the British and dumped in cold, foreign Canada. Colvin weaves the story of Kath Ella and her family through decades of ongoing racial prejudice and injustice, portraying the love among characters and the tenacity of some determined to find happiness. For readers who enjoyed Homegoing and The Underground Railroad." --Lisa Casper, Highlands Ranch Library, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

The Dead Girls Club: A Novel by Damien Angelica Walters (Crooked Lane, $26.99, 9781643851631). "An engaging story, full of twists and turns. Chapters alternate from Heather's childhood experiences to her present to form the whole story. More creepy than scary, pick this up if you want a story full of dread, suspense,childhood memories, death,and plenty of surprises. For fans of The Turn of the Key and The Silent Patient." --Rebecca Kelley, Richland Library, Columbia, S.C.

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison (MIRA, $27.99, 9780778309185). "Sinister and atmospheric, this page-turner elevates the thriller genre with descriptive writing and well-drawn characters. Ash arrives at the Goode School with secrets of her own. Following an honor code is difficult enough (no lies allowed), but throw in secret societies and overly privileged students, and the scene is set for murder. For readers who liked The Secret History and Watching You." --Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Md.

Husband Material: A Novel by Emily Belden (Graydon House, $15.99, 9781525805981). "Charlotte, a young widow, is thrown for a loop when her husband's ashes appear at her door. As a coder for social media influencers, she develops an app to help find a mate but uses it to keep potential dates away. And then a secret from her husband's past threatens to destroy the tenuous ties of friendship and love she has found. A fun read for fans of Kristan Higgins and Sophie Kinsella." --Suzanne Christensen, Spanish Fork Public Library, Spanish Fork, Utah

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh (Berkley, $27, 9780593099131). "With a well-drawn cast of characters and a vivid New Zealand setting, this book slowly draws you in, picks up speed, and takes you on a dark, twisty ride. For fans of Then She Was Gone and All the Missing Girls." --Sheryle Gouker, Redstone MWR Library, Huntsville, Ala.

Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra (Berkley, $16, 9780593100349). "Little Women's March family is brought into the present day. Here Marmee is a North Carolina goat farmer, Mr. March an idealistic and often absent Army chaplain, and Jo a NYC food blogger and frustrated writer. For readers who loved A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, N.Y.

Reputation: A Novel by Sara Shepard (Dutton, $16, 9781524742904). "Set in an elite private school, with a large cast of characters, this book has it all: scandals, affairs, and murder. I love the way the multiple perspectives intersect and intertwine. For fans of Gossip Girl and Big Little Lies." --Aryssa Damron, D.C. Public Library, Washington, D.C.

The Wives: A Novel by Tarryn Fisher (Graydon House, $16.99, 9781525809781). "Fisher has a knack for telling you a story where there's no anticipating the twists and turns, and The Wives was no exception. A psychological thriller so immersive that I consumed it in a single sitting. For fans of The Wife Between Us and The Silent Wife." --Brie Hopkins, Newport Public Library, Newport, R.I.

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters (Putnam, $16, 9780525542315). "Evie recreates famous movie meet-cutes as away to inspire a jerk client to write a screenplay, and learns a lot about herself in the process. For fans of Meg Cabot and Jennifer Crusie." --Kassie Ettefagh, High Point Public Library, High Point, N.C.

Book Review

Review: The Magical Language of Others

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir by E.J. Koh (Tin House Books, $22.95 hardcover, 203p., 9781947793385, January 7, 2020)

Poet and translator E.J. Koh grew up in California's Bay Area, the daughter of Korean immigrants. Her parents moved back to Korea when she was 15, leaving her to live with her angry, taciturn 19-year-old brother. By the time her parents returned to the United States, Koh was off to graduate school in New York City. During those years of separation, a flurry of letters from mother to daughter sketched a yearning over distance.

The Magical Language of Others revolves around these letters, translated from occasionally English-spattered Korean. Koh read them as arrived, but it wasn't until much later, in their rediscovery, that she came to understand what they offered. In a small box she has kept for years, Koh finds exactly 49 letters: "In Buddhist tradition, forty-nine is the number of days a soul wanders the earth for answers before the afterlife."

As Koh studies Korean and Japanese, and eventually adds a graduate degree in Korean translation to her graduate poetry studies, she works as well to translate the love, longing and abandonment of generations of women. Her paternal grandmother's memories of Jeju Island are first idyllic and then filled with trauma from the massacre in 1948. Koh's privileged but heartbroken maternal grandmother, after several suicide attempts, left her cheating husband in Daejeon and took an apartment in Seoul. She loved it there, but eventually relented and moved back home to a family that begged for her return. "Coming to one home, she had abandoned another."

Meanwhile, in Koh's own lifetime, she deals with young adulthood with her antagonistic brother. She makes frequent trips to see their parents in Korea, where she shops and visits the bathhouse with her mother, formally studies languages and informally studies people. "He waved not a hand but a blank page, and I knew it was gestures like this one that meant nothing." Such luminous prose is evidence of an unusual mind.

This slim book is a memoir--of the years Koh spent quasi-orphaned in California; her visits to Korea; finally sharing a continent and eventually a home with her parents again in adulthood. It is also a study of generations of women before her. Koh considers how people make poetry out of imperfect lives, and how they interpret and generate love. In startling, lyrical, imaginative prose, Koh wrestles with the meanings of devotion and duty, and with the challenges of language and translation. Her final lines are as heartbreakingly beautiful as the entire book deserves. The Magical Language of Others is a masterpiece, a love letter to mothers and daughters everywhere. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Letters from mother to daughter shed glimmering light on reunions, reconciliation, immigration, heritage and familial love.

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