Also published on this date: Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Maximum Shelf: The Burning

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books: Rocket Puppies by William Joyce

Minotaur Books: Trouble Island by Sharon Short

HarperCollins: The Verts by Ann Patchett, Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Running Press Kids: Introducing the HOW TO SPOT series. Get a sneak peek!

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

Quotation of the Day

'Bookstores Make People's Lives Better'

"Bookstores make people's lives better, I really believe it, and to be chosen by this crew of humans is a deep honor. I've lived in Cambridge for a thousand years at this point and I have my bookstores that I go to, and to have gotten to know the booksellers--it's almost like walking into a bar and having the bartender know your order. To have a relationship with these bookstores and booksellers has really deepened my relationships to Cambridge, honestly. I'm an enormous fan of bookstores, particularly indie bookstores. I can't really gush enough."

--Nina MacLaughlin, whose book Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung (FSG Originals) is the #1 December Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

IPG: Rep Picks for Fall From International & Independent Publishers. Click to register!


Wise Blood Booksellers Holds Soft Opening in Kansas City, Mo.

Wise Blood Booksellers, a new and used bookstore with a focus on literature, regional presses and up-and-coming authors, held its soft opening this past weekend in Kansas City, Mo.

According to KCUR, the store is an offshoot of Mills Record Company, a new and used record store in the same neighborhood, and is co-owned by Dylan Pyles, who works at Mills Record Company, and Judy Mills, who owns the record store.

"I think this part of Kansas City, especially, craves connection to physical media, and real, tangible art," Pyles, who manages the store, told KCUR. "I think a lot of our approach to buying and selling records translates to books and literature."

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for the weekend of December 13-15, and at opening Mills and Pyles plan to have around 3,500 titles in stock. In addition to books, Pyles will display and sell work by local artists, and event plans include author signings and other literary events.

GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse to Move Early Next Year

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., will move to a smaller location in February following the sale of the bookstore's building, the La Cañada Valley Sun reported.

Store owners Peter and Lenora Wannier, who originally opened the store in 2007, put the building on the market in June and sold it earlier this month for $4.9 million to Glendale mortgage lender House America. Flintridge will remain in its current storefront as a lessee of House America until February, with the mortgage lender set to take over the space in March.

Peter Wannier told the Valley Sun that the new space will be smaller and will not include a coffee shop, but otherwise did not give any more details.

"We'll still have some people meeting at our site, but we're not going to continue running the coffee shop part of the business," he said. "It will be a smaller space that will be more in keeping with the size of the town and its needs."

He added that he hopes the transition will be as seamless as possible, with the bookstore closing for only a few days during the move.

More Scrutiny About Amazon

While the New York Times ran a front-page story this past weekend documenting Amazon's unsettling effects on the city of Baltimore, Md., the newspaper is not the only news outlet or other organization to put Amazon's practices under increased scrutiny lately.

Early last week, the Atlantic, in conjunction with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, reported on the severe performance quotas under which Amazon employees and contractors work at its fulfillment centers and warehouses, and found that in 2018 employees were injured at a rate more than twice the industry average.

In a report underwritten by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Economic Roundtable said that while Amazon has provided jobs for a "job-hungry labor force" in Southern California, wages for the typical warehouse worker are so low that the company helps "perpetuate the economic struggle in these neighborhoods." The report also discusses the company's carbon footprint as well as the air pollution caused by its trucking operations, which disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

A coalition of 42 local and national organizations, ranging from labor groups and digital privacy watchdogs to social and environmental justice groups, has come together to form Athena, an alliance set on organizing opposition to "Amazon's growing, powerful grip over our society and economy."

On the subject of grassroots resistance against Amazon, in another story, the Times discussed the growing movement in greater detail, touching on Amazon's decision to abandon its plans for a new headquarters in Long Island City in New York as well as its failed attempt to stack the City Council in Seattle, Wash., with politicians sympathetic to the company.

And finally, the Seattle Times ran a round-up of its own, including some comments from an Amazon spokesperson.

Penguin Hotline Is Back for the Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, Penguin has brought back the Penguin Hotline, loosely modeled on the Butterball Turkey Hotline, but replacing the turkeys with books, roasting experts with penguins, and telephones with e-mails. 

This year's Penguin Hotline features some new components, including "golden ticket" VIP author volunteers and a charitable giving partnership with LitWorld. Also for 2019, "the adorable penguin seen interning in the PRH warehouse earlier this year will return, this time to help recommend books that will satisfy even the toughest critics on holiday shopping lists," the publisher noted.

As in the past, hundreds of PRH employees--from all facets of the publishing process--will be on call to help recommend books to anyone who is trying to find the right title for someone on their holiday list. The hotline is a "publisher-agnostic effort," offering  recommendations from various publishing houses. New and notable for the Penguin Hotline this year:

  • In addition to the hundreds of PRH staffers who have volunteered Hotline duty, several lucky readers will receive a "golden ticket," and have their requests answered personally by bestselling PRH authors including Celeste Ng, Jasmine Guillory, Emma Straub, Sophie Kinsella and Ace Atkins.
  • The Penguin Hotline is partnering with LitWorld, a nonprofit addressing global literacy and human rights. For every reader request the Penguin Hotline receives this season, PRH will donate $2 to LitWorld, up to a maximum of $10,000.
  • As part of the company's collaboration with the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, PRH and the Penguin Hotline will donate to the zoo's conservation efforts to protect African penguin habitats. The African penguin population has declined by 90% in the last 100 years.

Obituary Note: Robert K. Massie

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert K. Massie, "who wrote gripping, tautly narrated and immensely popular books on giants of Russian history," died December 2, the New York Times reported. He was 90. In monumental biographies, "Massie captivated audiences with detailed accounts that read to many like engrossing novels.... One was even grist for Hollywood."

Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intimate Account of the Last of the Romanovs and the Fall of Imperial Russia (1967) was adapted into a film in 1971. Though nearly 1,000 pages, Nicholas and Alexandra "was published to acclaim... sold more than 4.5 million copies and is regarded as one of the most popular historical studies ever published," the Times wrote.

His other books include Peter the Great: His Life and World (1980), which won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for biography; Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the coming of the Great War (1991); The Romanovs: The Final Chapter (1995); Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea (2004) and Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (2011).

Massie's love of books, "particularly the ones that fueled his own formidable literary output, was downright visceral," the Times noted, citing a 2012 essay for the Times Book Review in which he recalled "moving his many books on Catherine from his office to a nearby spot so he could visit them as 'friends.' He said he showed the same respect to books in libraries. 'I like to make sure they are alive and well,' he wrote. 'If they have collected dust, I take out the small towel I carry in my briefcase and wipe them off.' "

The Moscow Times observed that Massie "had a gift for storytelling and popularization. Without dumbing down the story of the fall of the House of Romanov, he was able to make comprehensible the complex power and ideological conflicts of the Russian revolutionary period as well as the sometimes fraught and confused relationships among political, aristocratic and royal personages in Russia and Europe. Not even those impenetrable triple-decker names and improbable nicknames kept readers away from this 900-page history."

Benjamin Dreyer, bestselling author and executive managing editor/copy chief at Random House, tweeted: "He was a lovely fellow, a real gentleman. I remember my mother avidly reading Nicholas and Alexandra when I was nine or ten; decades later I worked with Bob on its sequel, The Romanovs. Goodbye to him."


Image of the Day: 'Supernatural' Recipes

Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., hosted more than 300 attendees for a meet & greet with Supernatural star Misha Collins and his wife, journalist and historian Vicki Collins, for their cookbook The Adventurous Eaters Club (HarperOne). According to the store's marketing manager Kayla Beckman, "Trying to keep all of the waiting attendees in the store and out of the rain was no easy feat, but participants walked away happy thanks to the warmth and candor that Misha and Vicki extended to each of them."

Personnel Changes at Scribner; Workman

Brian Belfiglio has been promoted to v-p, director of publicity and marketing at Scribner and will oversee the merging of the publicity and marketing teams. He joined Scribner as publicity director in 2007 and directed the Scribner and Touchstone publicity departments until last year and, in the spring of this year, launched the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau as an in-house enterprise. Before joining Scribner, he was marketing director for Workman and a publicity director at the Crown Publishing Group.


Rebecca Carlisle has been promoted to executive director, marketing & publicity for the Workman imprint at Workman Publishing. She was formerly senior director, marketing & publicity. She first joined the company in 2010 as senior publicist for the Workman imprint. Two years later, she left the company to take on the role of PR & marketing manager at Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, where she was promoted to senior PR & marketing manager and then associate director, PR & marketing. She returned to Workman in 2016 as associate director of publicity, and was later promoted to director of publicity. Earlier in her career, Carlisle held publicity and marketing roles at Norton, Other Press and Bloomsbury Publishing.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Adam Minter on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Adam Minter, author of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garbage Sale (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635570106).

The Talk: Jimmy Kimmel, author of The Serious Goose (Random House, $18.99, 9780525707752).

TV: Borne; The Eighth Sister

AMC Studios has acquired the TV rights to Jeff VanderMeer's Borne universe novels to develop as a potential series, Deadline reported. The first book, Borne, was launched in 2017, followed by The Strange Bird and the most recent title, Dead Astronauts, which was released this week. VanderMeer will serve as an executive producer and creative consultant on the project.


Indie film studio Roadside Attractions "is continuing its push into scripted television" with the acquisition of Robert Dugoni's spy thriller The Eighth Sister to develop as a series.

"Robert Dugoni's amazing book The Eighth Sister explores the real-world tensions and spy tradecraft of today's international politics in a thrilling way, and we couldn't be more excited to bring it to audiences," said Jennifer Berman, Roadside Attractions' head of television. "Our push into television is allowing us to reach more deeply and broadly into stories and ideas that we find exciting and important, and this is a perfect example of acquiring a bestseller that could not be more timely or topical and tailor made for a series format."

Books & Authors

Awards: Max Ritvo Poetry; Bad Sex in a Novel

Allison Adair won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize for her manuscript, The Clearing. The prize honors "the legacy of one of the most original and accomplished poets to debut in recent years, and to reward outstanding emerging poets for years to come." It was created by Milkweed Editions in partnership with Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation. Chambers will receive $10,000 and publication by Milkweed in June 2020.

The winner was chosen by poet and judge Henri Cole, who said: "The Clearing is a lush, lyrical book about a world where women are meant to carry things to safety and men leave decisively. Out of dry farming soil come these wise, mineral-like poems about young motherhood, mining disasters, miscarriages, memory, and much more. Allison Adair's poems are haunting and dirt caked, but there is also a tense beauty everywhere. I found The Clearing devastating."


Didier Decoin and John Harvey were co-winners of "Britain's most dreaded literary prize," the Bad Sex Award for "the year's most outstandingly awful scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel." The Guardian reported that Decoin won for passages in The Office of Gardens and Ponds, while Harvey earned the dubious honor for Pax.

"Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognize our plight," the judges said. The Guardian noted that "in a clear callback to the controversial decision to award two Booker prizes this year, when chair of judges Peter Florence claimed, 'We tried voting, that didn't work... We couldn't separate them,' the Bad Sex judges said they were unable to choose even 'after hours of tortuous debate.... We tried voting, but it didn't work. We tried again. Ultimately, there was no separating the winners.' "

Reading with... Shannon Pufahl

photo: Shay O'Brien

Shannon Pufahl grew up in rural Kansas. She teaches at Stanford University, where she was a Stegner Fellow in fiction. Her essays have appeared in the Threepenny Review and elsewhere, on topics ranging from John Brown and the antebellum Midwest to personal memoir. She lives in the Bay Area with her wife and their dog. On Swift Horses (Riverhead, November 5, 2019) is her first novel.

On your nightstand now:

Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism by Elizabeth Tallent, one of the best, most challenging and wholly brilliant memoirs I've ever read. Also, Olga Tokarczuk's Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead and Animalia by Jean-Baptiste Del Amo.

Both of the latter remind me of the great and connective work done by translators. Animalia in particular, because it is not just literally translated from the French by Frank Wynne, but also, in its scope and ambition, an attempt to describe both the terrible changes wrought by capitalism and the largely silent but very profound relationship between humans and animals. It gets at what I think is the most important fact facing humans, in the 21st century: we are not separate from the world or the other creatures in it. Having disproportionate power is not the same as being sovereign, and certainly offers no real protection.  

Favorite book when you were a child:

As a child, I was skeptical of the talky first-person YA books I mostly encountered, about the human process of "growing up." I loved instead those books, which proliferated in the U.S. through the first half of the 20th century, about children's relationships with animals. My late father read Rutherford Montgomery's Yellow Eyes (about a mountain lion) to my sister and me before bed every night during a particularly snowy December (he worked outside, and snow meant staying home), and this is one of the best things that ever happened in my life.

Walt Morey's Gentle Ben (about an Alaskan grizzly and the boy who loves him), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's The Yearling, Wilson Rawls's Where the Red Fern Grows and Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague were special favorites. These were mostly books about boys, but unlike westerns, odyssey stories or other epics, they did not depict relationships or adventures that seemed exclusive to, or only possible for, boys. They rendered childhood in a way that suggested the most important connections were not with the social world (which I feared and mistrusted, and which was dominated by men) but the natural world, which anyone might access.

Your top five authors:

Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robinson, James Baldwin, Charles Johnson, Richard Powers. (I'm going to sneak in Edward P. Jones.)

All these writers accomplish something rare and beautiful in their work, which is the acknowledgement of the vital importance of the social/political world, alongside the undeniable presence of the divine, which puts the social world in necessary perspective. They all have very different approaches to this--and do not define the divine in the way we might think, as pious, godly or even spiritual, but as a careful and abiding attention to the details of life and of history.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. Because not all of it is real.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Crossing by Andrew Miller. Miller is an amazing prose stylist, underrated in general and especially in the U.S. The Crossing is about a woman of such inscrutable psychology that she is believed to be incapable of love. The book is divided into two very different sections, and what it accomplishes as a novel--that is, as a form--is mesmerizing. What it accomplishes as a correction to women's presumed responsibility to be visible and knowable is revolutionary.  

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Word for Woman Is Wilderness by Abi Andrews. It also happens to be phenomenal, strange, moving and deliriously smart on the inside.

Book you hid from your parents:

Judy Grahn's Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds--I checked this out from the Topeka Public Library (thank you librarians everywhere!) c. 1995 and learned I had people. I learned, too, that lesbianism might be a radical act of defiance, and not only (or merely) a sexual object choice, and in that way it could be a liberation rather than a deviance. To my parents' great credit, hiding this book was hardly necessary--and done rather poorly, since I took it to my sister's volleyball tournament in Sabetha, Kan., and read it openly, but with the cover violently folded over (sorry librarians everywhere).

And while my parents may not have understood everything about what the book meant to me, they understood that I was someone who needed both support and privacy. What a tricky mixture that must have been for parents to offer a teenager. But they did, and allowing me my inept secrecy was one of the most important ways they gave me my freedom without ever abandoning me.

Book that changed your life:

Every good book has changed my life in some way. Reading is an act of openness to this possibility.

Favorite line from a book:

"So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again." --from Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping.

I think about this all the time. The way the imagination offers us everything but the material act of touch, and is, in this way, a stay against loss and despair.

Five books you'll never part with:

SIX, sorry!! Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient; James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son; Annie Proulx's The Shipping News; Edward P. Jones's The Known World; Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping; Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.

In times of strife or great happiness, any one of these books offers to me--still, continually--an insight or a new way of seeing. Great joy is as disruptive as great sorrow, and these books know that.

They are also more structurally and stylistically complex than their general readability would indicate. I read them over and over for the most brilliant instruction in the writing of books.

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

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro. Though in many ways, reading Munro is always to encounter something for the first time. There is such density and insight in her stories, such efficient use of the most complex language, that every re-reading offers a surprise, or a deepening of character and understanding. The title story, which is truly a masterpiece of short fiction, does with temporality, point of view and suspense what even the very best novelists can only hope to achieve with more tools and time.

Books and writers central to your life but not yet invoked by this questionnaire:

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Adrienne Rich
Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa
Zigzagger by Manuel Muñoz
Counternarratives by John Keene
Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons by Marilyn Hacker
Pussy, King of the Pirates by Kathy Acker
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
Not One Day by Anne Garréta
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
As ever: Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Runaway Princess

The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski (Random House Graphic, $12.99 paperback, 272p., ages 8-12, 9780593118405, January 21, 2020)

If someone collected the stream-of-consciousness storytelling of the world's most imaginative children, it might read something like The Runaway Princess.

In the first of the graphic novel's three parts, "The Princess Runs Away (and Makes Some Friends)," Princess Robin of Seddenga flees from the castle. Who can blame her for skipping etiquette class ("again") when outside the castle walls is the Aquatic Carnival in Noor, the City of Water? On the way, she meets four abandoned brothers in the forest and leads them to safety. When Robin is kidnapped at the carnival, it's the brothers' turn to be heroic.

In "The Princess Runs Away Again (by Accident This Time)," Robin and the brothers are playing hide-and-seek in the castle gardens when she hears a voice inside a well calling her name. That night, the voice lures her from the castle while she's sleeping. Keen to find Robin, the brothers learn from Mr. Badger that the brainwasher is the Autumn Witch, who was banished to the Kingdom of Darkness when she had her evil powers revoked. The only way she can regain them? By eating a princess.

In "The Princess Tries to Stay in One Place (but the Weather Doesn't Cooperate)," Robin and the brothers are playing pirates when a storm comes. They scuttle to safety aboard a ship, which is swept away to a deserted island. There they meet Professor Dandelion from Zlato, the country of gold; he is evading the money-grubbing King Croesus, who has killed other scholars like Dandelion. Why? Because the king wants them to make the prized element for him, and they don't know how. Meanwhile, some real pirates land on the island, in search of gold... and prey.

Johan Troïanowski grounds his impetuous storytelling with allusions to iconic children's tales: redheaded, red-frocked Robin's amble through the forest recalls Little Red Riding Hood's, and the kids encounter a Cheshire cat and a gingerbread house. Yet The Runaway Princess is unmistakably a modern confection, with the book's robot bugs and lines like "Ow! I've bumped my booty."

Troïanowski's dainty hand-drawn and -colored illustrations range from modest panels to two-page spreads; some pages feature activities (a maze, a pattern puzzle and so on). More interactivity is on offer through the text's dozen or so calls for action, from either a cast member or an omniscient narrator ("Dear reader, Robin needs you. To help her escape the wolf's clutches, close the book, shake it up and down three times, and then turn to the next page"). This improvised, kitchen-sink quality gives The Runaway Princess the look and feel of a sumptuous, thrown-together royal feast. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: This middle-grade graphic novel starring an adventuresome princess has fairy tale motifs, modern touches and an irresistible improvised quality.

Deeper Understanding

Audiobooks: AudioFile's Best Audio Titles of 2019

Our friends at AudioFile Magazine present the best audiobooks of the year.

AudioFile's 2019 "Best Audiobooks" list highlights the best listening experiences in audio. Yes, The Testaments is on many lists, including our own, but only the audiobook has Aunt Lydia herself (aka Ann Dowd) reading you the story. Likewise, Joe Hill's short stories collected in Full Throttle are riveting enough on the page, but listening to Neil Gaiman or Kate Mulgrew read one of them will definitely keep you up at night.

In the same vein, Meryl Streep and a full cast in a new recording of Charlotte's Web makes for a great holiday gift for a grandchild. For lovers of spy fiction, The Marylebone Drop by Mick Herron is an unheralded gem that might be overlooked in the usual flood of suspense titles. Some titles are new editions of older works, as E.B. White's On Democracy (White makes our list twice--his works are classics for a reason!), and some are at the top of all the lists, like Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers. In the audio edition, you have Gladwell himself presenting his provocative new work that sounds like an extended episode of his podcast "Revisionist History."

Altogether the "Best Audiobooks" list features diverse, deeply personal, and timely storytelling. It also celebrates the skill and dedication of the narrators who "make the magic" of a great audiobook. Here are highlights from the nine subject categories, all available from

Akin by Emma Donoghue, read by Jason Culp (Hachette Audio) Jason Culp's near-perfect narration of the new literary drama from the author of Room matches its emotional intensity. Two lost souls from distant branches of the same family tree are thrown together. Culp uses an edgy tone to express the frustration of set-in-his-ways 79-year-old retired professor Noah Selvaggio as his planned trip to the French Riviera is upended when he reluctantly takes Michael, an abandoned 11-year-old great-nephew, on the journey. Culp shines as he expresses Michael's frustration with Noah's lack of tech savvy and Noah's wish that Michael were less profane. Donoghue plucks heartstrings with just the right song, and Culp orchestrates the character studies like a maestro.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Peter Francis James, Shayna Small, Bahni Turpin (Penguin Audio) A highly anticipated adult fiction novel from Woodson with a multi-voice cast. Five talented narrators, including the author, differentiate shifting time periods and three generations of an African-American family. Bahni Turpin aids listeners in understanding the feelings of 16-year-old Melody, who is central to the story. Her caustic comments arise from her mother Iris's infrequent presence. Shayna Small fills in Iris's complexities. She is a teen mother who fled home dreaming of a larger life. In contrast, Peter Francis James and Quincy Tyler Bernstine's rich voices evoke the age, devotion, authority, and histories of Melody's beloved grandparents. Author Jacqueline Woodson delivers the third-person narrative, connecting the way the protagonists affect each other. Her spare but emotive text leaves lots of room for all these powerful interpretations.

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez by Aaron Bobrow-Strain, read by Frankie Corzo (Macmillan Audio) Listeners will be gripped by Frankie Corzo's narration of this biography of Aida Hernandez, who came to the U.S. in 1987 at the age of eight. Corzo captures the raw emotions that percolate throughout the audiobook and excels in moments of drama, such as when Aida is deported to Mexico. Demonstrating that the national debate over immigration is nothing new, the work reveals the battles immigrants face through an up-close depiction of the obstacles that confront Aida and others. Corzo's presentation is straightforward yet nuanced in ways that focus on crucial moments, making this an audiobook that enriches the current political discourse with rarely heard personal stories.

American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley, read by Stephen Graybill (Harper Audio) Readers new to space history will find this engaging story a solid introduction. Narrator Stephen Graybill's assured performance captures the space race and its part in the social and political complexities of the Cold War era. On the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, historian Brinkley celebrates the Kennedy administration's role in the nascent aerospace industry. Listeners gain renewed appreciation for the challenges and tenacious efforts involved as private and public sectors strove to beat Soviet Russia in going to the moon. Graybill's well-paced delivery presents grounded depictions of key figures, including President John F. Kennedy, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and former Nazi rocket scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun.

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 by Rick Atkinson, read by George Newbern (Macmillan Audio) The winning combination of George Newbern's engaging narration and Rick Atkinson's vivid new work of history--the first in a planned trilogy about the American Revolution--brings to life what could have been a dry account of Revolutionary battles. While this is primarily a military history, Newbern is also adept at voicing the stories of ordinary colonists, most of whom did whatever was necessary in a fraught time, including confronting their own divided loyalties between the lofty ideals of independence and the security of British rule. Though the book is not without humor, Atkinson shares minute details of life during that period, including graphic descriptions of battlefield medicine and wartime atrocities.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, read by January LaVoy (Hachette Audio) January LaVoy's breathtaking narration shines in this fantasy in which doors offer infinite possibilities for adventure. January Scaller is a daring and bold "in-between" girl who feels like another foreign curiosity in Mr. Locke's home. She lives for her father's brief returns from his travels, when he brings his employer new treasures. She is seven in 1901 when she discovers a marvel--a door to another world--and then is punished severely. Listeners hear January growing timid and biddable to suit Mr. Locke. It's not until she discovers a hidden book that she realizes the true potential of doors, along with her own. LaVoy's theatrical skills delight as she narrates January's thrilling story of fantastical characters and new worlds--and the tale hidden within the pages of her book.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in November

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during September:

1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Macmillan Audio)
4. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (HarperAudio)
10. The Overstory by Richard Powers (Recorded Books/Norton)

1. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (Hachette Audio)
2. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
3. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Dear Girls by Ali Wong (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West (Hachette Audio)
6. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Little Weirds by Jenny Slate (Hachette Audio)
9. Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (HarperAudio)
10. Blowout by Rachel Maddow (Penguin Random House Audio)

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