Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 6, 2019

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Take a Storytime Adventure into the World of Jessie Sima


Patterson Gives 500 Booksellers Holiday Bonuses

As part of his Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program, James Patterson, in partnership with the American Booksellers Association, is distributing grants to 500 booksellers, including 100 children's booksellers, each of whom will receive $500, the Associated Press reported. A complete list of recipients is available here.

The winners were chosen from a pool of more than 2,500 nominations, with applications based on one question: "Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?"

In a statement, Patterson observed: "I've said this many times before, but I can't say it enough: booksellers save lives. Children's booksellers especially--they guide children to books they'll genuinely enjoy and in turn create a new generation of readers. I'm happy to be able to acknowledge them and the important work they do in any way that I can this holiday season."

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Copperfield's Crowdfunding to Buy Sebastopol Building

Copperfield's Books in Sebastopol, Calif., has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help buy the building it has rented for the last 37 years. 

Paul Jaffe, Copperfield's co-owner and founder, is looking to raise $200,000, which would cover the down payment for the building's $1.75 million asking price. The store's lease expires on December 31, and Jaffe and his team hope to finalize the purchase on January 1. So far, the campaign has raised around $4,000 from 55 donors.

In a post on the crowdfunding page, Jaffe explained that after renting the building for nearly 40 years, the store was unable to agree on a new lease with its landlord. They were, however, given the opportunity to purchase the 97-year-old building, which is on Sebastopol's Main Street.

The Sebastopol store is Copperfield's oldest location. It originally opened in 1981 in a 725-square-foot space but soon moved to its current location. The building houses the bookstore on the ground floor, with Copperfield's company headquarters on the second floor.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Café at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore to Close

The café inside Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, Middletown, Conn., is closing. Wesleyan University announced that grown, the franchise owned and operated by Shannon Allen since the bookshop opened in 2017, will close this month, at which point Wesleyan's on-campus dining vendor, Bon Appetit, will take over on a temporary basis through the end of the spring semester.

"While we will no longer be operating grown at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, bringing grown 'home' to Middletown has been a proud moment during our journey to reinvent fast food," the franchise said in a statement. "We have thoroughly enjoyed our time serving students, faculty, and staff, working alongside the Wesleyan University and bookstore teams, and have loved being a part of the bridge between Wesleyan and the entire Middlesex County community."

Christopher Olt, Wesleyan's associate v-p for finance, commented: "While we are sad to say goodbye to grown, we wish them luck as they expand their brand to include a franchise model. In the meantime, we look forward to determining an appropriate future direction for the café, incorporating the valued input of the campus community."

The university plans to consult with students, faculty and other campus community members to inform a request for proposals for future vendors of the café. "We feel it is important to step back and really engage the community," Olt said. A new vendor is expected to be chosen by next summer.

Laura Barker Named V-P, Publisher of WaterBrook & Multnomah

Laura Barker

Laura Barker has been promoted to vice-president and publisher of the Penguin Random House Christian imprints WaterBrook & Multnomah, effective immediately. Barker will continue to report to Tina Constable, executive vice-president and publisher of Random House Christian Publishing and Crown Forum.

"For the past five years, most recently as editor in chief, Laura has worked closely with me to help shape our acquisition strategy, and with more than 20 years of experience in Christian publishing, she has consistently demonstrated a keen insight about the overall marketplace," said Constable. "More crucially, I have come to truly admire her outside-the-box thinking as we face fundamental shifts in the retail landscape and overall consumer behavior."

During her time at WaterBrook & Multnomah, Barker acquired and edited some of the imprint's biggest authors, including Anne Graham Lots, Jennie Allen, Katie Davis Majors and more.

At the same time, Andrew Stoddard has been promoted from lead acquisitions editor to editorial director and will continue to report to Barker. Kim Von Fange, meanwhile, has been promoted to assistant editor.

B&N Picks Inaugural Book of the Year

Charlie Mackesy's The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (HarperOne) has been named Barnes & Noble's inaugural Book of the Year. The chain's booksellers across the U.S. nominated their top books from 2019, which were narrowed down to eight titles by a selection committee that included CEO James Daunt. Then B&N booksellers voted for the winning title.

"Our booksellers chose eight brilliant and diverse titles for our inaugural Book of the Year prize shortlist," said Daunt in announcing the winner. "This is the book more than any other that has caught the magpie eye of our booksellers. Word of mouth amongst our booksellers has made this inspirational book the surprise bestseller of the year. We are very proud to name it now our 2019 Barnes & Noble Book of the Year."

The award is one of the more public examples of Daunt's influence over the company since Elliott Advisors, owner of Waterstones, bought B&N in August and appointed him CEO. Waterstones has had a Book of the Year Award since 2012, a year after Daunt was appointed managing director there. This year's Waterstones Book of the Year was also The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

B&N bookseller Amanda Craig in Birmingham, Ala., called the winning book "spectacular. The perfect gift for anyone. Inspirational, thought-provoking and beautifully illustrated." John Carroll in Tupelo, Miss., said that "every page is worthy of meditating on as you take your own journey with these characters." Glenda Moret in Brentwood, Tenn., observed, "This book touches the heart and reminds us of who we want to be and the world we want to create for ourselves and others. A beautiful book for the soul as well as the eyes."

Obituary Note: George Feifer

George Feifer, "who chronicled mushroom hunting, ballet, prostitution, black-market sweetmeats and other fixtures of daily life in the Soviet Union, and who drew on his own encounters with Russian intellectuals and a fuming KGB agent for a pair of semi-autobiographical novels," died November 12, the Washington Post reported. He was 85.

"On his first trip to Moscow, for the American exhibition, he stood alongside a new Ford Thunderbird and answered questions from Russians including Tatyana Leimer, whom he married in 1969," the Post wrote, adding that their eventual divorce inspired his 1995 book Divorce: An Oral Portrait, drawn from interviews with divorced couples, lawyers, psychologists and children of divorce.

His novels include The Girl from Petrovka (1971), which was adapted into a 1974 movie starring Goldie Hawn and Hal Holbrook; and Moscow Farewell (1976). He also collaborated with Soviet-born dancer and choreographer Valery Panov on his autobiography To Dance (1978), and with Barbara and Barry Rosen on The Destined Hour (1982). Among his other titles are Tennozan (1992), Breaking Open Japan (2006), Justice in Moscow (1964) and Message from Moscow (1969). The Lyons Press will release a new edition of Tennozan, under the title The Battle of Okinawa: The Blood and the Bomb, next March

Feifer wrote one of the earliest biographies of Nobel Prize-winning author and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was then living in the Soviet Union. The Post noted that Solzhenitsyn (1972) "was released amid anger from its subject, who accused Mr. Feifer of spreading KGB lies and relaying 'fables' and 'coarse secondhand gossip.'... The biography also resulted in Mr. Feifer's being thrown out of the Soviet Union for the third time."

"He loved the place, while hating its politics," said his son, Gregory Feifer, a former Moscow correspondent for NPR. "He felt that Russia was the place where he felt the most human connection. Life was oppressive for most people, prospects were limited, so that by default the things that were important to him--love, food, friendship--were the things that were important to Russian society."


Image of the Day: An Old Man's Game in Sonoma

Last weekend in Sonoma, Calif., Readers' Books owner Andy Weinberger read from his recently published debut novel, An Old Man's Game: An Amos Parisman Mystery (Prospect Park Books). The SRO crowd was entertained by the story of a retired Los Angeles Jewish private detective who is hired to investigate the death of a controversial rabbi.

Booksellers on Parade: Shades of Pemberley Bookstore

"Come see us at the Albertville parade!" Shades of Pemberley Bookstore in Albertville, Ala., posted last night on Facebook, along with photos of the bookshop's lit-themed float, which went on to take first place in the Chamber of Commerce's parade competition. "This is so awesome! Thank you to the judges! I’m definitely on cloud nine right now!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Lithgow on the View

The View: John Lithgow, author of Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse (Chronicle Prism, $19.95, 9781452182759).

On Stage: The Devil Wears Prada Musical

Tony winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mamma Mia!) has been cast as Miranda Priestly and Taylor Iman Jones (Head Over Heels) as Andy in The Devil Wears Prada musical, Playbill reported. James Alsop is the choreographer. Based on Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel, the story was previously adapted as a film in 2006 starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.

The production's opening date has been pushed to July 13, 2021, with plans to run through August 15 at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago. Additional casting and Broadway plans will be announced at a later time.

"We realized that we wanted more time to work on the show," said producer Kevin McCollum. "Our creative team members are in demand around the world with ridiculous schedules. The new dates mean that not only do we get an ideal theater in Chicago (the CIBC Theatre), it also allows our New York landlord to confirm the Broadway venue, which means we have more time to coordinate our physical design, marketing, and sales plans accordingly."

The Devil Wears Prada musical has music by Elton John, lyrics by singer-songwriter Shaina Taub, a book by Paul Rudnick, music supervision by Nadia DiGiallonardo and direction by Tony Award winner Anna D. Shapiro.

Books & Authors

Awards: William Hill Sports Book; Ruth Rendell

Duncan Hamilton has become the first person to win the £30,000 (about $38,495) William Hill Sports Book of the Year three times after garnering the 2019 prize for The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus, the Bookseller reported. He previously won in 2007 for Provided You Don’t Kiss Me and 2009 for Harold Larwood.

Chair Alyson Rudd said the judges "were bowled over by the quality of the writing and the way in which Hamilton brings to life the characters that defined cricket between the two world wars. The author explains that Neville Cardus was unknowable, but this book does a very fine job indeed of guiding us through his career and motivations."


Children's author Tom Palmer won the Ruth Rendell Award for his "outstanding" contribution to raising literacy levels in the U.K., the Bookseller reported. Launched in 2016 by the National Literacy Trust and Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society in memory of Rendell, the prize "celebrates the author who has done the most to champion literacy throughout the U.K. over the past year."

NLT director Jonathan Douglas said: "We were overwhelmed with the number of nominations Tom received for this prestigious award from teachers, librarians and parents. Tom is creative, fun and incredibly dedicated to helping children better their reading skills and discover a transformative love of reading."

Reading with... Jessica Fletcher

Jessica Fletcher (born Jessica Beatrice MacGill) writes her bestselling mysteries as "J.B. Fletcher." Her real-life exploits investigating actual murders were famously chronicled on a long-running television show that has given way to a series of books that follow the same Murder, She Wrote format. The 50th in that series, A Time for Murder, features Jessica recalling her first ever murder investigation 25 years ago in Appleton, Maine, and was published by Berkley on November 26, 2019. She now makes her home 30 miles away in the seaside town of Cabot Cove, where she is at work completing her next Murder, She Wrote title, The Murder of Twelve, which is due out in May 2020.

On your nightstand now:

I always have multiple books on my nightstand, at least two, and one of them is always a mystery. Right now, the mystery is The Night Fire by Michael Connelly. I so enjoy Harry Bosch and I enjoy him even more now that he's partnered with Renée Ballard. Guess I'm a sucker for female detectives!

Alongside The Night Fire is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I have a penchant for re-reading classics like that because I think absorbing their prose makes me better as a writer myself.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Depends on how old! I must confess to being a huge fan of the Nancy Drew books in junior high, and I even dabbled a bit in the Hardy Boys. As a younger child, I used to love Grimm's Fairy Tales. Rereading those now leaves me struck by their structure and intensity. Reading Grimm made me fall in love with the whole notion of storytelling, and I often muse that many of my murder mysteries are just retellings of those old fairy tales that are much darker than people realize. As Victor Hugo once said, "Good writers borrow, but great writers steal."

Your top five authors:

Oh my, just five? Now that's a challenge. I'm going to start with Charles Dickens, my personal favorite of his being The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which he never actually finished. Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, of course, though I prefer Jane Marple to Hercule Poirot--a girl thing, I guess! And my list wouldn't be complete without Philip Kerr and Ross Macdonald. How many is that, because I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Flannery O'Connor, whose short stories I can read a hundred times and always find something new.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce, when I was in college in New Hampshire. I once heard that the only way to read it was to have read it once before reading it for the first time. With apologies to all the classicists out there, this is one I just never could grasp.

Book you're an evangelist for:

How about an author instead of a book? You might not know it from my books, but I'm quite the fan of noir so I love to point readers toward the series Donald Westlake wrote as Richard Stark featuring Parker. I'm also fond of recommending the great Lee Marvin movie Point Blank, which was based on a Parker novel called The Hunter.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Ha-ha! Well, I'm such a poor judge of what works that I always rely on my publisher to choose my covers. As far as other authors, I remember being in an airport and spotting a cover that featured a subway train. I'd heard of the author but never read any of his work. That book was Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child. And I've read all of Child's Jack Reacher books since then.

Book you hid from your parents:

It was something by Harold Robbins, but I don't remember the title. It was a paperback, and I do remember cutting off the cover so my parents wouldn't know I was reading something risqué!

Book that changed your life:

John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps was the first book I read a single sitting. I was in high school at the time and absolutely devoured it when I was home sick from school one day. I can still quote passages!

Favorite line from a book:

How about a play instead, Shakespeare's Macbeth: "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." I love that line because it defines the very nature of the mystery novel, something wicked entering the lives of someone or someones.

Five books you'll never part with:

Appropriately enough, let's start with Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Every sentence in that book is a work of art. Curtain, both Agatha Christie's and Hercule Poirot's final adventure, because she left strict instructions that it was not be published until after her death. As a writer, I'm struck by the odd sense of sentimentality to that. The Salzburg Connection, because that was Helen MacInnes's best one ever and she was a kind of role model for me. Dickens's Great Expectations because that's another I'm always revisiting. Let's see, one more... the last one's always the hardest to come up with because there are so many titles swimming through my mind, but I think I'll go with Death in Venice by Thomas Mann because I find it be a cautionary tale about sacrificing one's soul in the face of obsession, something all writers and artists need to be leery of!

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

There are so many I could give you, but I'll go with an Edgar Allan Poe short story: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," because it introduced Auguste Dupin and ushered in the modern detective story. It's obviously a bit clichéd now, but the notion of the ultimate locked-room murder, a perfect puzzle, was magic the first time I read it.

The film you've re-watched the most:

No doubt about it: The Usual Suspects, an elegant Venn diagram of a tale that wraps a mystery in deep levels of misdirection. I've never written a screenplay, but if I ever did, I'd want it to be half as good as that one--better make that, a third!

Book Review

Review: Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown (Dutton, $26 hardcover, 336p., 9781524744939, January 21, 2020)

Characters often face difficult choices--and learn how to live with the consequences--in the novels of Karma Brown (The Choices We Make). Over the course of four books, she has tackled the subjects of women's friendships, parenting, love and loss, the nature of memory and the precariousness of enduring secrets. In Recipe for a Perfect Wife, she builds upon some of these themes, chronicling the lives of two women who lived nearly 60 years apart.

In 2018, 29-year-old Alice Hale and her husband, Nate, move from a "shoebox-size" apartment in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan to a house in Greenville, a suburban town "less than an hour's train ride from the city and yet an entirely different world." Nate admires the sprawling colonial revival built in the 1940s; it has a distinctive stone archway, classic layout and a backyard perfect for children to play ball in one day. Alice, however, sees the endless amount of work that needs to be done on the retro fixer-upper. Despite her apprehensions, she sacrifices and makes the adjustment.

While Nate commutes to his city job as an actuarial analyst, Alice, having left her career in public relations to write a novel, feels left behind, rattling around the big, empty house. Separated from city friends, Alice's loneliness deepens--as does her writer's block--especially when Nate starts pressuring Alice to start a family. She's just not ready yet. When Alice finds a vintage cookbook in the basement and begins whipping up some of the recipes, her anxiety and depression start to lift. She becomes intrigued and wants to find out all she can about Nellie Murdoch, the previous owner of the cookbook and the house.  

Alice learns that a year before she and Nate moved to Greenville, Nellie "passed away and left the house and her estate to her lawyer to handle." She had no family. Why? As Alice re-creates the dishes--Tuna Casserole, Chicken á la King, Baked Alaska--she begins to piece together Nellie's life from notes scribbled in the cookbook, unsent letters Nellie penned to her mother, and through remembrances of Nellie by a neighbor who shared Nellie's affinity for gardening. In the secondary narrative that unravels in the mid-1950s--scenes espousing the expected mores of the generation--Nellie emerges as a smart yet inhibited woman stuck in a stifling, frightful marriage.

As Alice learns more about Nellie's life, she faces unexpected crises in her own that force her to rethink choices she's made, secrets she's kept and actions she may need to take in the future. Patriarchal dilemmas abound for both women. Yet, through the wisdom evoked by revelations in Nellie's life story, Alice is suddenly inspired and empowered better to deal with her own challenges.

Strong, well-drawn women anchor Brown's deeply thought-provoking, feminist novel. The spellbinding dual stories complement each other, raising themes of self-discovery, self-preservation and liberation for two women living eras apart. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A powerful, thought-provoking story about the choices that ultimately come to define and liberate two women who lived 60 years apart.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Our Bookstores Are Our Platform'

Just days removed from one of the busiest weekends of the year for indie bookstores, we are now deeply immersed in the "gifting" season, which is, as it turns out, a perfect time to talk about climate change and booksellers.

In 2018, under the retail cloud cover of Black Friday shopping distractions, the federal government quietly released the National Climate Assessment, described at the time by the Atlantic magazine as "a massive and dire new report on climate change."

Not everyone kept shopping. Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson recently tipped me off to a smart and timely bookseller initiative that has helped get the report into many people's hands.

Daniel Hirsch and Greg Harris, co-owners of Southampton Books and Sag Harbor Books on Long Island, N.Y., have given away hundreds of copies of The Climate Report, which was compiled by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and published earlier this year by Melville House.

Noting that the publisher's original goal was "to encourage authorless events built around the book," Johnson told me "the fact remains that these booksellers paid for the books and gave them away for nothing--just because of their sense of civic duty. We've been pretty inspired by them and have tried to develop ways to work with more stores that may be similarly inspired."

Harris recalled that the "genesis was pretty simple. It was a combination of Daniel being very moved by Greta Thunberg's speech in 2018 at the UN Climate Change Conference at the same time I was reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells. Independently of each other we were both trying to do something to raise awareness of the need to address climate change. We never try to make political statements with our bookstores. That's a good way to alienate half of your customers. But climate change should not be a political issue even though sadly it is in the U.S."

Daniel Hirsch

Although the bookstores began selling The Climate Report, they soon posted a sign offering free copies. "We weren't preaching or anything," Harris said. "Just giving people the science, the facts, so they could make their own decision. We ran out pretty fast of what we had. We contacted PRH about possibly getting a larger discount through their B2B program, but since we weren't actually selling the copies to a group or organization it wasn't doable. We then reached out to Melville House directly to see if they would offer us a higher-than-retail discount since we were absorbing the cost of the books. After I had an encouraging phone call with Tim McCall, he put the wheels in motion about working out a deal for us."

Greg Harris

McCall, v-p, sales and business development at Melville House, said he "became aware that they were giving away The Climate Report in the spring of this year. They reached out because they were purchasing significant quantities and giving them away--not selling them--to their customers. When I spoke with them, they were so genuine (like so many indie booksellers), just wanting to 'do what they can' for the climate crisis. They were hoping for some better-than-standard terms for future orders, and we were able to oblige."

He added that the publisher had by then developed the Melville House Climate Project, which matches local climate experts and activists with retailers and librarians to facilitate events.

"But with Daniel and Greg's query, we added a 'gifting' component to the project, whereby retailers who purchased three cartons of The Climate Report received a fourth carton free," McCall said. "The terms are intended for retailers who are gifting copies, and for retailers with nonprofit arms who can avail themselves of such terms more readily. It's also hoped that the terms will encourage in-store climate-focused events.

"Of course, gifting is expensive, and not something most stores can manage. But that's okay. It's been helpful to Daniel and Greg and will be there for any other independent retailers who may reach out. And in some small way, it may be shedding light on the ways our community is working at the local level to encourage climate activism and promote sensible environmental policy."

Harris observed that in the beginning, people were surprised by the offer of a free book, but "once we convinced them there were no strings--and yes, it's just free--the word spread and we've had a very positive response from customers at both of our stores. To date we've given out more than 700 copies in about seven months. We have an entire bookcase in our overstocks dedicated to the hundreds of copies that we have on hand at any given time. We've had kids from about 10 years old get copies all the way through folks in their 80s. Some book clubs are reading it and there is a robust discussion happening both locally and nationally.

"Basically the main point was that Daniel and I wanted to be able to look back in 30 or 40 years and say that we did something when all the bells and warnings were going off about the current state of the climate and the projections for the near future. Our bookstores are our platform and we used what was available to us. Like I said, we're not trying to be preachy. This is something that's important and we're hopefully making it easier for people to get the facts. It's pretty simple. It's nice to know that our customers are equally excited about free copies of The Climate Report as they are to get signed copies of Julie Andrews's new book."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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