Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

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

Quotation of the Day

'We Hold a Special Place in People's Hearts'

"Black feminism changed my life, so for me not to center my bookstore on that would be a contradiction to who I am. I had a lot of pushback, but I think there's something very important and transgressive about having a space specifically about women....

"I want this to continue being a community-centered space where people can come together. Of course I want to grow our revenue, and be a space where you can order coffee, books, gifts for your whole family. We hold a special place in people's hearts."

--Kalima DeSuze, owner of Cafe con Libros in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of three booksellers highlighted in Story Exchange's piece headlined "Female Indie Bookstore Owners Take on a Tumultuous Industry"

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona


Islander Books Opens in Kodiak, Alaska

Melissa Haffeman and Lacey Tucker, co-owners of the Islander Bookshop in Kodiak, Alaska, hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration November 23 at 1315 Mill Bay Road. "The shop has always been a dream of mine," Haffeman told the Daily Mirror.

"Thank you for a spectacular opening day Kodiak!" the bookstore posted on its Facebook page. "Our community loves to read and to support small business! Thank you to everyone who came out, waiting patiently in long lines, and shared in the joy of bringing back a community focused bookstore to the island.... Because we had such a great opening and sold so many books--there are over 750 more books on their way to our island to restock our shelves. Thank you for all the requests and recommendations. Can't wait to post the picture of all those books arriving!"

On its website, the Islander Bookshop said it is "focused on creating a third space in the community--a place where people feel comfortable stopping in, browsing through books, seeing the latest creations from fellow artists and community members, wrapping their hands around their membership coffee mug, and relaxing with friends.... We are proud to bring a small, bookstore back to the island. We want to honor the bookshops that have come before--people speak so fondly of the Next Page and the Shire Bookstore.... The Islander Bookshop will continue to refine itself so that we are reflective of our community and provide an experience which is positive."

New Napa Bookmine to Open in Former Main Street Books Location

Napa Bookmine has taken over the recently closed Main Street Books in St. Helena, Calif., and will reopen the store as Main Street Bookmine this Friday, the Bookmine announced over the weekend. Liza Russ, the former owner of Main Street Books, has been hired to work at the store full-time.

Following a bit of a makeover and a slight change in inventory, the store will carry a greater number of new books as well as more sidelines and gift items. According to the Napa Valley Register, Bookmine plans to add events for both children and adults, with a full event calendar coming in the next few months.

Naomi Chamblin, owner of Napa Bookmine, said that after learning that Main Street Books was going out of business, "we couldn't stand to see St. Helena become a bookstore-less town. It's our hope that we'll continue to build community around the love of books in St. Helena, with the addition of gifts to enhance the shopping experience for tourists and locals."

"St. Helena is lucky to have a bookstore," Russ told the Register. "The town came perilously close to not having one, and that would have been a tragedy."

Half Price Books Reopens in New Concord, Calif.

Half Price Books, which operates 126 stores across the country, has reopened at a new location in Concord, Calif., after being forced to leave its previous space earlier this year when a new landlord decided not to renew the company's lease, the Mercury News reported.

The new, 6,600-square-foot bookshop is located in the Willows Shopping Center at 1975 Diamond Boulevard. Although it's smaller than the store's previous downtown home, many customers have commented on how the space seems larger, according to manager Jake Hansen. Noting that last Thursday's grand opening drew a crowd of waiting customers lined up around the building before 10 a.m., he added: "We're thrilled that the support has been so sweet."

The scramble to find a new location after the downtown store closed was challenging, since "most spots were either too small, too expensive or off the market," the Mercury News wrote, adding that the Willows Shopping Center "is right next to the new the Veranda center, where a Barnes & Noble--which had left central Contra Costa as part of store closures in previous years--also opened a new location this year."

"I'm just happy that we're back," Hansen said.

HarperCollins Children's Launches Heartdrum

The new imprint's name and logo pay tribute to the connection between the drumbeat at powwows and the heartbeat it evokes of the Native community.

HarperCollins Children's Books is launching Heartdrum, an imprint focusing on Native titles that will be headed by author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek) and Rosemary Brosnan, v-p, editorial director, HarperCollins Children's Books.

The imprint will, HarperCollins said, offer a range of "innovative, unexpected, and heartfelt stories by Native creators, informed and inspired by lived experience, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes." In addition, Heartdrum will make an annual donation to the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Native Fund to be used for writing workshops.

The first titles, which will begin appearing in winter 2021, include Ancestor Approved, an anthology of stories that take place at an intertribal powwow in Ann Arbor, Mich., edited by Smith, and The Sea in Winter by Christine Day (Upper Skagit). Future projects include novels by Smith and Brian Young (Navajo), as well as a chapter book series by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe).

Smith has written 15 books for young readers, including Rain Is Not My Indian Name, her debut novel, and Jingle Dancer, her debut picture book, as well as many short stories, poetry and essays. Her blog is Cynsations and she is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

Smith said, "I'm deeply honored to be working with legendary editor Rosemary Brosnan to further connect my brilliant, creative community with the most important audience--young readers. Now is the time for positive, heartening change in the form of resonant representation across all age markets and formats. We have life-affirming, page-turning stories to share.

"As a mentor and writing teacher within the Native creative community, I'm constantly wowed by the talent, skill and commitment of our writers and illustrators for young people. Through the Heartdrum imprint and the WNDB Native Writing Workshop series, we'll be able to offer opportunities for support and wide-reaching publication."

Brosnan added: "I am excited to be partnering with Cynthia Leitich Smith on this groundbreaking initiative. Cynthia is deeply knowledgeable about books for children and teens, and about books by Native authors, and I'm delighted that she will lend her expertise to our new venture. There is a dearth of books for children and teens by Native authors, and we will work together to build a strong list."

Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher, HarperCollins Children's Books, commented: "HarperCollins is dedicated to publishing books with a wide breadth of representation so that all children see themselves in the books they read. Drawing on the expertise of Cynthia Leitich Smith, Heartdrum will publish debut and established authors across all genres for children and teens that reflect the diversity of Native people."

Challenging Coeur d'Alene's Library Book Hider

For more than a year, a mysterious "book-hiding patron" at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library in Idaho "has been intentionally misplacing books around the library with the apparent hope of making the titles unavailable to readers," KREM reported. Library director Bette Ammon said the hidden books are primarily nonfiction works critical of President Trump, as well as titles about feminism, gun control, LGBTQ topics and other topics the vandal deems "propaganda" that should be kept "out of the hands of young minds."

Rick Reilly, author of Commander in Cheat, at Well~Read Moose's library event.

Anna Rose Carleton, marketing manager for the Well~Read Moose Bookstore in Coeur d'Alene, told Shelf Awareness that recently the bookshop sold books at the library for an event featuring Rick Reilly: "He came to discuss his book(s), mainly Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, which has been hidden several times in the library. He spoke on the whole 'hiding books debacle' that is going on in our town right now--having hit the attention of the national news and the Stephen Colbert show [see Colbert's donation here].

"We sympathize with our library on this matter. People will come into our store and hide books from us, as well as turn them around--make any statement they can with books they disagree with. We, as well as our library, support the freedom to read and this whole scenario baffles us.... Almost all the books we brought to the event were sold."

Stephen Colbert's gift to the library

In fact, the book-hider's goal seems to have backfired spectacularly. KREM reported that as the story "continues to go viral, the library says donated books and cash have continued to pour in. Following write-ups in the New York Times and CNN, among others, the story has since found a national TV audience.... Various readers, including a couple from New Mexico, have donated copies of some of the books that continue to be targeted by the book-hider."

"People are encouraged that libraries are fighting for the right to read," said Ammon.

"It's just amazing to me how much attention this has gotten," said Reilly, who planned to hide 10 copies of Commander in Cheat across the library ahead of his talk. "So I said, what if I came up there and brought ten more books? Just for laughs. I can put one in narcissism, one in true crime.... I think the hider--I call him 'Hide-aho'--I think Mr. Hide-aho's plan has backfired."

Author Sally Roesch Wagner, whose book The Women's Suffrage Movement has also been hidden, "headed to Coeur d'Alene to see what was going on," the Spokesman-Review noted.

"I actually really wanted to go over to the library and visit the librarian, and thank her for holding up the badge of courage and making sure that all viewpoints are represented in the library," she said. "The connective tissue in all of these books is that they all are challenging the status quo in some way.... I wrote a note to the person that's hiding the books and said that I would really welcome a conversation with them. It would mean a lot to me to know why they want people not to read my book."

Whatever the book hider's motive may be, fighting censorship is the mission of libraries and librarians everywhere, Ammon observed. "It's a trust that librarians and libraries hold dearly, that they resist censorship and say to people that they are fine to read this book or not and you can choose for yourself and your family, but you just can't choose for other people."

Amazon to Open Warehouse in Auburndale, Fla.


Amazon plans to open a one-million-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Auburndale, Fla., which will be its third fulfillment center in Polk County, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Amazon did not say when it expects to open the warehouse, but did say it would employ more than 500 people. The other Polk County warehouses, meanwhile, measure 1.1 million and 800,000 square feet, and the Auburndale location will be the company's 11th fulfillment center in the state of Florida.

Obituary Note: John Simon

John Simon, "one of the nation's most erudite, vitriolic and vilified culture critics, who illuminated and savaged a remarkable range of plays, films, literature and art works and their creators for more than a half-century," died November 24, the New York Times reported. He was 94.

"In a style that danced with literary allusions and arch rhetoric--and composed with pen and ink (he hated computers)--he produced thousands of critiques and a dozen books, mostly anthologies of his own work" as well as essays on American usage, notably in the 1980 book Paradigms Lost: Reflections on Literacy and Its Decline. Among his honors were the 1968 George Polk Award for Film Criticism and the 1970 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.

Simon's other titles include Reverse Angle: A Decade of American Films (1982), Movies Into Film: Criticism, 1967-1970 (1971), Acid Test (1963), Ingmar Bergman Directs (1974), Uneasy Stages: A Chronicle of the New York Theater, 1963-197 (1975), Singularities: Essays on the Theater, 1964-1974 (1976) and three collections of his reviews on films, plays and music, all published in 2005.

"In his long gaze, the arts in America were in decline, or at least in a state of perpetual confusion, and he insisted that his mission was to raise standards through unflinching criticism," the Times wrote, adding that Simon "was himself scorned by many writers, performers and artists, who called his judgments biased, unfair or downright cruel, and by readers and rival critics with whom he occasionally feuded in print. They characterized some of his pronouncements as racist, misogynist, homophobic or grossly insensitive."

William F. Buckley Jr. once said that Simon "reviewed movies in the same sense that pigeons review statues."


Image of the Day: Baby's First Book Signing

Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, Miss., recently hosted author Lara Prescott (The Secrets We Kept, Random House). Among the attendees: (l.) Ellen Daniels, former bookseller-turned-deputy director of the Mississippi Book Festival, who brought her daughter Vivian "Bebe" Daniels to her very first book signing. Lemuria's Hillary Taylor said, "This was so special for all of us because baby Bebe is part of the Lemuria family. We know there will be many more signings and readings for her to attend!"

Three Lives & Co.: A New York Times Love Letter

The New York Times Style Magazine offers an in-depth, appreciative story about Three Lives & Co., the wonderful Greenwich Village bookstore founded in 1978 and owned by Toby Cox. In addition to a history of the store and why it is beloved, the piece includes a reproduction of an Edward Hopper painting of the building's exterior in 1927, when it was a drug store.

The concluding paragraph of the story sums up the charm of Three Lives & Co.: "When the sun falls in just the right way, Three Lives can look like a bookshop invented by a Hollywood designer. It is the bookstore of your dreams, the deliciously perfect version of a New York independent business, alive with the excitement of customers and a reassuring reminder that true romance does still exist in New York retail."

Charlottean of the Year: Yola, Park Road Books' Staff Dog

Charlotte magazine honored Yola, the staff dog at Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C., as one of its 2019 Charlotteans of the Year, writing: "When the staff at Park Road Books pages the back office, they typically need owner Sally Brewster, not her dog. But don't tell that to Yola, who responds to these calls as Bruce Wayne responds to the Bat-Signal.

"The small, brown canine leaps to work. She trots the length of the store, with little barks that announce her arrival and a tail that wags upright like the wave of a queen. All around her, faces look up from the pages of books, peer around the corners of shelves, and brighten as Yola passes. She finds a group of shoppers by the cash register--surely the ones in need--and lies on her back to present her belly. This none-too-subtle hint proves effective, and several sets of hands rub her belly at once. People who stood near each other silently now laugh with each other. It was an important call after all.

"Behind her is Brewster, laughing and shaking her head at the familiar sight. To walk behind Yola is to witness a 25-pound dog charm an entire store of customers, many of whom greet her by name.... Customers don't pet Yola just to make Yola happy, of course. They know who's getting the better deal. Yola seems to understand this. She enjoys her pets and attention, and if someone has the magic touch, she'll flash her little white teeth into a smile. Then she trots off. She's got other customers to help."

Ingram's Two Rivers to Distribute Handheld Press

Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution will provide sales, distribution and publisher services for Handheld Press print and e-books in North America, beginning January 2020.

Handheld Press, Bath, England, was founded in 2017 by literary historian Kate Macdonald to bring forgotten fiction back into print and to publish new stories by and about remarkable people. It has published 16 titles, mostly in its Handheld Classics, which has republished Zelda Fitzgerald, Rose Macaulay, Sylvia Townsend Warner and John Buchan, among others. Handheld Research publishes biography and letters, and Handheld Modern publishes new fiction.

Handheld's Kate Macdonald commented: "We work hard to select, edit, design and print our books, and having the right partner for sales and distribution in North America is essential."

Two Rivers director Nick Parker added: "We are delighted to introduce Handheld Press to the American markets. The list consists of long-lost 20th-century gems which are beautifully packaged."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: G. Neri on All Things Considered

NPR's All Things Considered: G. Neri, author of Grand Theft Horse (Lee & Low Books, $19.95, 9781620148556).

Jimmy Kimmel Live repeat: Garth Brooks, author of The Anthology, Part III: Live (Pearl Records, $29.95, 9781595910394).

TV: Teaching My Brother to Read

Idris Elba's production company Green Door Pictures has optioned and will adapt for TV Derek Owusu's forthcoming book Teaching My Brother to Read, which will be published by #Merky Books, the Penguin Random House-backed imprint launched by British musician Stormzy, Deadline reported.

Teaching My Brother to Read, "which was originally planned as an idea for a podcast, follows Owusu as he tries to connect with his brother, who was increasingly getting into trouble, by offering him £50 ($64) for every book he reads," Deadline wrote.

"Derek's book will be an inspiring exploration of brotherhood and how literature can influence and transform lives," Elba said. "We are genuinely excited about adapting this book as a work of fiction and nonfiction."

Books & Authors

Awards: Staunch Book Winner; NCTE Award Winners

Samantha Harvey won the £1,000 (about $1,285) Staunch Book Prize, which recognizes "a novel in the thriller genre in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered," for The Western Wind. The winner was announced November 25 on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Bridget Lawless, founder of the Staunch Book Prize, said: "This year's winner is a hugely atmospheric and detailed medieval crime story with a man's soul at stake. Harvey's vivid prose and remarkable story-telling conjure a rich and entertaining slow-burn thriller out of mud, secrets, guilt and fear in an isolated 15th-century village."


The National Council of Teachers of English has announced winners of two of its two major literary awards, determined by committees of educators and honoring books that transform children's understanding of the world, with special attention to social justice and cultural authenticity, not limited by format or genre.

Authors Kate and Jol Temple and illustrator Terri Rose Baynton have won the 2020 Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children for Room on Our Rock (Kane Miller). To see the full list of Charlotte Huck Award honor and recommended books, click here.

Author Barry Wittenstein and illustrator Jerry Pinkney have won the 2020 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children for A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation (Holiday House). To see the full list of Orbis Pictus Award honor and recommended books, click here.

Midwest Connections December Picks

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association has selected its Midwest Connections Picks for December. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal.

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens (Mulholland, $27, 9780316509725). "When an African-American teenager and his family move in across the road, 15-year-old Boady discovers another side to things he's always taken for granted in 1976 Missouri. As secrets hidden in plain sight slowly emerge, the boys come face-to-face with the forces that make a town, and a person, dangerous."

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen, $17.99, 9781250165084). "Steph hasn't lived anywhere longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet--a social media site where users upload cat pictures--a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn't know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat from Steph's past catches up to her and ChesireCat's existence is discovered by outsiders, it's up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her."

My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall's Story by John Coy, illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $18.95, 9781681340081). "My Mighty Journey is the story of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River--and the changes it has witnessed over twelve thousand years. Written from the perspective of the waterfall, the narrative considers the people who lived nearby, the ways they lived, and how the area around the waterfall changed drastically in the past two centuries."

What Color Is Night? by Grant Snider (Chronicle, $15.99, 9781452179926). "Grant Snider's beautiful debut picture book explores the wonders--and colors--of nighttime. For night is not just black and white. Ending in colors yet unseen, and a night of sweet dreams, this lilting lullaby is sure to comfort those drifting off to sleep. With luminous art as spare and glowing as the moon, and lyrical text that reads like a friend leading the way through the wilderness, What Color Is Night? is a rich and timeless look at a topic of endless fascination, and a perfect bedtime read-aloud."

Book Review

Review: Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis

Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun (Grove Press, $26 hardcover, 288p., 9780802147851, January 7, 2020)

It's no secret that women are under stress: juggling careers, relationships, motherhood (or the decision to opt out of it) and managing the myriad everyday details of life. But as Ada Calhoun discovered, Generation X women are especially strained. Calhoun, a Gen Xer feeling the weight of balancing work, parenting, marriage, friendship and "having it all," examines her generation's collective midlife crisis (and its attendant guilt) in her third nonfiction book, Why We Can't Sleep.

Building on her popular 2017 essay "The New Midlife Crisis for Women" for the Oprah website, Calhoun (Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give) begins by defining Generation X and exploring the cultural, social and political factors that have shaped her peers' approach to life. Rising rates of crime and divorce, economic instability and environmental concerns might well be expected to cause uncertainty and long-term anxiety. But Calhoun also argues that the high expectations placed on her generation have played a part. For Gen X women, raised on girl-power mantras and second-wave feminism, "the belief that girls could do anything morphed into a directive that they must do everything."

She points out that previous generations of women, while constrained by social mores and glass ceilings, were not dealing with quite the same volume of potential success (and thus potential failure) as Gen Xers. She takes society to task for the double bind it places on women: expecting them to excel in every area of their lives with little or no support, then shaming them when they can't (always) do it all.

In thoughtful, incisive chapters, Calhoun shares interviews with dozens of women who feel overwhelmed, exhausted or downright terrified. Many of them love their lives--partners, children, careers, friends--while simultaneously worrying they've missed the mark in some vital area, like finances or health. Calhoun steers clear of quick fixes in favor of a candid acknowledgment of the multilayered issues at hand, which is (fittingly) what many Gen X women are longing for: to be heard and seen. She doesn't offer easy solutions, but she does argue for greater self-acceptance, for savoring everyday joys and (when possible) letting oneself off the hook.

Midlife is challenging, Calhoun admits: there's no way around the changes it brings, nor any avoiding a certain amount of grief and worry. "It helps," she says, "to surround myself with women my age who speak honestly about their lives." Gradually letting go of the idea that reaching middle age means having it figured out--whatever "it" is--may allow Calhoun and her peers to be curious and open to their next chapters, rather than fearing them. For Gen X women and the people who love them, Calhoun's book is a great place to start. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Ada Calhoun provides a thoughtful, incisive account of the myriad challenges facing Generation X women.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. Trying to Score by Kendall Ryan
3. The Fall of Legend by Meghan March
4. The Liberal Media Industrial Complex by Mark Dice
5. A Cry in the Dark by Denise Grover Swank
6. Ruthless Cross by Barbara Freethy
7. Violent Triumphs by Jessica Hawkins
8. Special Delivery by Lauren Blakely
9. The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr
10. Love You Now by M. Robinson

[Many thanks to!]

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