Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


George R.R. Martin Opens Beastly Books in Santa Fe

On November 30, author George R.R. Martin opened Beastly Books, an independent bookstore located at 418 Montezuma in Santa Fe, N.Mex., next door to the Jean Cocteau Cinema, which he had acquired in 2013.

On his blog, Martin noted that the theater has been hosting "amazing author events" over the past six years. "Dozens of terrific, award-winning, bestselling writers have appeared at the JCC to speak, read, and sign their books... SF writers, mystery writers, historical novelists, romance writers, thriller writers, mainstream literary writers, YA authors, non-fiction writers and journalists... the list goes on and on. And all of them have signed stock for us. The only problem was the Jean Cocteau lobby was far too small for us to display all of these wonderful autographed books."

Beastly Books was named in honor of Cocteau's most famous film, Beauty and the Beast, as well as "a certain TV show I worked on in the '80s" by the same name, Martin wrote. "Needless to say, we have a huge stock of my own books--A Song of Ice and Fire, Wild Cards, and all the rest. All signed. But we have a lot of other fantastic books by other authors too, and all of them are autographed as well."

The shop also offers coffee, tea, hot chocolate and soft drinks, with plans to add pastries soon. "You can visit the Iron Giant as well... but no, he's not for sale," Martin joked, adding: "Do come by and visit us the next time you come to the Land of Enchantment. Beastly Books. Hear us roar!"

The Guardian reported that "what it doesn't sell--at least for now--is The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, his fantasy sequence on which HBO's Game of Thrones is based. Martin has promised the book will be done by next summer, when he visits New Zealand for WorldCon, the science fiction and fantasy convention."

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Julia Cowlishaw Becoming CEO of Vroman's and Book Soup

Julia Cowlishaw

Julia Cowlishaw has been named CEO of Vroman's and Book Soup, Pasadena and West Hollywood, Calif., effective January 6, replacing Allison Hill, who is becoming CEO of the American Booksellers Association on March 1.

A native of Southern California, Cowlishaw began her bookselling career at Warwick's Books & Stationery in La Jolla as a bookseller, receiver, and assistant manager; then became general manager of Shaman Drum Bookshop in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 2007, she joined Ingram, first in field sales, then as director of national accounts. She has also been a board member of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association and a member of the ABA Bookseller Advisory Council. She currently is on the board of Binc, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Hill commented: "I am thrilled that Julia has agreed to lead Vroman's and Book Soup into the future. She brings to the position significant and varied industry experience, along with a spirit that closely aligns with the core values of our company. I am leaving Vroman's & Book Soup in very good hands."

Moomaw New University of Virginia Press Director

Suzanne Morse Moomaw

Suzanne Morse Moomaw has been named director of the University of Virginia Press, effective in January and lasting until at least 2021, when she will lead the search for a new director. The position became vacant with the sudden death of Mark Saunders in May.

Moomaw is associate professor of urban and environmental planning in the School of Architecture and director of the Community Design Research Center at the University of Virginia and will be on leave from the School of Architecture for the 2020-21 academic year. She has been on the press's board of directors since 2015, the last two years as chair.

UVA vice-provost for academic affairs Archie Holmes called Moomaw "the ideal person to lead UVA Press, building on a storied 60-year history of intellectual curiosity and scholarship and bringing her creative energy and substantial experience to the launch of some exciting new initiatives."

Moomaw added: "The challenges in our world require--demand--that scholarly presses bring the most creative and intellectually rigorous thinking to the larger world. The University of Virginia Press is perfectly poised to partner with our University as it enters its third century, with plans to do just that."

Moomaw has had a 30-year stint in philanthropic, nonprofit and research organizations, first with the Kettering Foundation and then as president and CEO of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change. Her scholarship and writing focus on postindustrial regeneration in the U.S. and Latin America. She has been a fellow at Virginia Humanities and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, a Sorensen fellow at the JFK Library, a Moody fellow at the LBJ Library, and a Donchian fellow at the Institute of Practical Ethics and Public Life at UVA. She is on the board of trustees of the Kettering Foundation and the board of directors of the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program.

Holiday Hum: Problems with UPS; Blue Zones Kitchen Unavailable

With less than a week to go until Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, independent bookstores around the U.S. are hoping for a strong finish to a compressed holiday shopping season.

At Lark & Owl Booksellers in Georgetown, Tex., co-owner and project manager Jane Estes reported that the rush started Thanksgiving weekend with a busy Black Friday and even bigger Small Business Saturday. The following weekend was even better, thanks to an annual Christmas shopping event during which the town opens several streets to foot traffic only. So far, Estes continued, Stephen Harrigan's Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas has been one of the standouts of the season. She and her staff expected the book to do well, but have been pleasantly surprised with just how briskly its sold. Other strong sellers include Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball, Edward Carey's Little, Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea and Delia Owens's Where the Crawdads Sing, which Estes added is selling surprisingly well given how long its been available.

When asked about any issues with restocking titles, Estes said her Penguin rep had warned her in advance to stock up on Dan Buettner's cookbook The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100, which is flying off the shelves, but otherwise things are "running pretty smoothly." On the subject of sidelines, she said socks, and those from Blue Q in particular, are extremely popular, and the store is selling a lot of candles, jewelry and cards.

Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Calif., said that so far the season has been off to a sluggish start, and while a few ill-timed rainstorms haven't helped, he and his team "weren't super bullish to begin the season." That said, they are hoping for a late surge as Christmas and Hanukkah approach and are planning ahead to make sure popular titles remain in stock. Green Apple has done very well with Raina Telgemeier's Guts, Chanel Miller's Know My Name and Flea's Acid for the Children, all of which were signed. Alison Roman's cookbook Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over, which Green Apple ordered "super aggressively," has been huge.

Mulvihill said he hasn't had any delivery problems from publishers or wholesalers, though there were some "storm-related hiccups," but UPS deliveries have begun showing up very late in the afternoon, which is "maddening." Non-book items are selling well, including Finger Monsters, Bananagams and a variety of Green Apple merchandise like beanies. Mulvihill added that the store's website has been a "lone bright spot all year." In addition to book deliveries, for which Green Apple offers 99¢ shipping, gift cards and in-store pick-up orders have also been popular.

At Source Booksellers in Detroit, Mich., owner Janet Webster Jones and her colleagues have seen a busy holiday season so far, boosted by a series of celebrations and events that began in late November with the store's 30th anniversary celebration and continued through Black Friday and Indies First/Small Business Saturday. While Source Booksellers mainly carries nonfiction, the store does have some fiction, and Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Water Dancer has been doing well. Other strong titles include Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House, Michelle Obama's Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice and Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers.

When asked about gifts, Jones said her usual sidelines, such as oils, teas and chocolates, are doing well, along with After Dinner Amusements from Chronicle and the I Can Do It 2020 Desk Calendar. She added that she typically doesn't carry toys, but she has brought in the MerryMakers toys that go with the children's books One Love and The Snow Day, which have met with success. On the subject of deliveries, Jones said her store has fared pretty well and she hasn't had to wait on many titles. She has had several customers come in looking for The Blue Zones Kitchen, which now seems to be out of stock virtually everywhere.

In Montclair, N.J., Watchung Booksellers owner Margot Sage-EL reported experiencing significant delivery problems with UPS that have led to shipments that would normally show up in 1-2 days taking as many as 4-5 days to arrive. She noted that while publishers have done a "great job" of supporting indie with rapid deliveries, the problem seems to lie with UPS and is ultimately out of publishers' hands. As a result, Sage-EL and her team have been ordering titles early and deep, but she is concerned about not being able to rely on deliveries in the last week before Christmas.

Sage-EL said it's been hard to compare this holiday to years past due to the compressed timeframe, but the store has been busy and she expects things to continue to ramp up as Christmas and Hanukkah approach. Popular titles include The Water Dancer, John le Carré's Agent Running in the Field and Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, while Bill Bryson's The Body, Kevin Wilson's Nothing to See Here and Julia Philips's Disappearing Earth have all been surprises. As far as gift items go, sidelines from Blue Q, the Unemployed Philosophers Guild and New York Puzzle Company are mainstays.

And at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis, Minn., events and marketing manager Annie Metcalf said the season got off to a bit of a slow start, due in part to some severe winter weather. She noted too that in other years when there's been a shorter-than-usual holiday season, it seems to catch customers by surprise, with the rush not really beginning until much closer to Christmas. The Blue Zones Kitchen has been one of the store's bestselling titles so far; Dan Buettner lives in Minneapolis, and Magers & Quinn sold books at an event hosted by the county public library. Metcalf said the store moved a lot of copies at the event itself, and any copies that were left over sold almost immediately afterward. Other popular titles include the cookbook Nothing Fancy and My Own Devices by Dessa, who is from the Twin Cities.

Metcalf added that she hasn't had too many restocking problems so far, but she has noticed some "interesting" UPS activity, with shipments being a little off. Instead of all boxes in an order arriving on one day, for example, they appear in "multi-box trickles" throughout the week. She also noted the store always does very well with letterpress cards during the holidays, and wool bookmarks made by a local craftswoman are one of the store's bestselling sidelines at the moment. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Larry Heinemann

Larry Heinemann, a Chicago-born Army veteran "who wrote extensively about the Vietnam War and its effects, both in novel and memoir format," died December 11, the Eagle reported. He was 75. Heinemann, whose novel Paco's Story won the 1987 National Book Award for Fiction, had worked as a writer-in-residence at Texas A&M since 2005.

In the foreword of the 2005 edition of Paco's Story, he wrote that he became a writer "because of our war in Vietnam, not in spite of it.... There are a number of writers who emerged from the war who feel the same. I was a soldier of the most ordinary kind and the war took much away from me, but the war also gave me a story that simply would not be denied, as well as a way of looking at the world."

Kathy Favor, his partner, described Heinemann as "the consummate storyteller.... If we were sitting around the table somewhere, he always had a story to tell. He was, for the most part, a very gentle person and very much a pacifist. Even being that way, he had very definite opinions." His other works include the novels Close Quarters (1977) and Cooler by the Lake (1992), as well as a memoir, Black Virgin Mountain: A Return to Vietnam (2005).

When Paco's Story won the National Book Award over a shortlist that included Toni Morrison's acclaimed novel Beloved, the decision "stunned many observers and stirred much debate, according to contemporary reporting from numerous media outlets," the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "Toni Morrison, was, I think, shocked--and quite honestly, Larry was shocked, too," Favor said.

Heinemann eventually went back to Vietnam, "where he began to discover the country's beauty," the Sun-Times noted. From 2002 to 2003, he was a Fulbright lecturer at Hue University.

In a series of tweets, author Viet Thanh Nguyen wrote: "I hated Larry Heinemann's Close Quarters. It scarred me for life, the way it depicted the brutalization of Vietnamese people, especially women. Then I re-read the novel as an adult trying to be a writer, and I realized Larry Heinemann was right. War is brutal and literature has no business making us feel better about it and what it does to soldiers and what soldiers do to the enemy and to civilians and the cost of all this for soldiers themselves. To me, Close Quarters, Paco's Story--equally brutal--and Black Virgin Mountain, about his return to peacetime Vietnam, constitute a vital trilogy for anybody who wants to understand the American soldier's experience of the war. I learned a great deal from all of them but especially Close Quarters, which taught me that a writer cannot flinch, cannot editorialize, cannot sentimentalize, in order to make himself and his readers feel better. Too many lauded books about difficult subjects do all of those things, and they will not survive, unlike his work."

Kids' Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the first part of the American Booksellers Association's Winter 2019 Kids' Next List was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers, going to 519,756 customers of 142 participating bookstores.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features winter Kids' Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Kids' Next List pick, in this case Kiersten White, author of The Guinevere Deception (Delacorte).

For a sample of the newsletter, see this one from the Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Turning Page Bookshop Window

VaLinda Miller, owner of Turning Page Bookshop, Charleston, S.C., shared a photo of her store's seasonally festive front window, noting that the bookshop "has hired a local event planner to help the store draw in more customers by giving them a beautiful window displays. It looks awesome!" We agree.

Holiday Season Reflection: The Margate Bookshop

British bookseller the Margate Bookshop in Margate, Kent, posted on Facebook: "My first Christmas in the bookshop, my first Christmas as a shop owner, I have managed to throw together a window display I'm pleased with (photos to follow), improved my gift-wrapping and bow-tying skills, and put some honest effort into thoughtful marketing. This is the most festive I've felt in a long time and I'm loving it! So, like a little Santa's elf minus the hat, I'll be in the shop happy to help with selecting presents, ordering specific titles in for next-day collection, wrapping books in festive paper such as this from Rifle Paper Co., providing tea and coffee in a cosy moment amidst your Christmas shopping.... The comment will eventually get old but in the meantime: Does Amazon give you this?"

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; TDA

Bridget Nocera has been promoted to publicist for Culinary & Lifestyle Books at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Sarah Pannenberg has joined the TDA marketing team as digital marketing coordinator, working across the Nightfire, Forge, and Tor Teen/Starscape imprints. Pannenberg has been with Macmillan since October 2018, previously with the Macmillan Audio team.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Martha Stewart on Colbert's Late Show

Fresh Air: Julie Andrews, co-author of Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30, 9780316349253).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Martha Stewart, author of Martha Stewart's Organizing: The Manual for Bringing Order to Your Life, Home & Routines (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328508256).

Movies: All the Bright Places

Netflix has released official key art for All the Bright Places, a film adaptation of Jennifer Niven's novel that will debut February 28, 2020, reported. Directed by Brett Haley (Hearts Beat Loud) from a script by Niven and Liz Hannah (The Post), the project stars Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O'Hara, Lamar Johnson, Felix Mallard, Sofia Hasmik, Luke Wilson and Virginia Gardner.

Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books in southern Florida and the Cayman Islands) of Mazur Kaplan are producing along with Echo Lake's Andrew Spaulding, Doug Mankoff and Brittany Kahan. Fanning will also serve as producer, with Hannah Salerno, Robert Salerno, and Kimi Armstrong Stein as executive producers.

Books & Authors

Awards: Arabic Fiction Longlist; Clark Fiction Prize Winner

The longlist for the $50,000 2020 International Prize for Arabic Fiction includes 16 books by authors from nine countries and can be seen here. The shortlist for the prize will be announced February 4, and the winner will be celebrated at the award ceremony on April 14 just before the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.


Rebecca Makkai won the $25,000 L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize for her novel, The Great Believers. Established at Texas State University in 2016 and administered by the Department of English, the prize recognizes "an exceptional, recently-published book-length work of fiction in celebration of the Clarks' lifelong contributions to, and love for, literature and the arts."

Author Ben Fountain, former Texas State MFA endowed chair and Clark Prize final judge, described The Great Believers as "a big, ambitious novel in the best American tradition that portrays the interior life with rare subtlety and nuance, and at the same time captures a crucial era in our collective history."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular November Books

The two most popular books in November at Reading Group Choices were Internment by Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) and Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston (St. Martin's Press).

Book Review

Review: The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood

The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood by Donna Rifkind (Other Press, $30 hardcover, 560p., 9781590517215, January 28, 2020)

"If Salka is remembered today, it's not for her screenwriting career or her role in the antifascist emigration; it's most often for her alleged lesbian relationship with Garbo," tuts Donna Rifkind in The Sun and Her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood. While she always denied rumors of an affair with her friend the screen legend Greta Garbo, Viertel did have a long extramarital liaison--just one aspect of a multifaceted, heroic and outrageously neglected life to which Rifkind does munificent justice.

A Jew raised in Galicia, Salka Viertel (1889-1978) had been a working actress for two decades when Hollywood came calling--for her Viennese theater director husband, Berthold. In 1928, the couple left Berlin for the U.S., joining a throng of European artists enticed by the promise of film work in California. A few years later, these artists wouldn't just be seeking employment in Hollywood: they would be fleeing Hitler.

In 1932, Viertel began working as a screenwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where her chief task was finding vehicles for Garbo. On Sundays, she hosted salons at her house in Santa Monica. Anyone in her circle of émigré artist friends--Charlie Chaplin, Christopher Isherwood, Thomas Mann--might drop by for chocolate cake and conversation about the latest worrisome news from abroad.

Viertel wasn't content to just talk about the Nazi scourge. She procured the affidavits necessary for artists and others trying to flee persecution in Europe. She convinced her rich and famous friends to sponsor refugees, whom Viertel called her "protégés," and she donated money to the cause. Becoming a U.S. citizen in 1939 emboldened her to do more. She took refugees into her home, tried to find them jobs and helped them to assimilate into the new world, as she had. As Viertel would later write to the actor John Houseman, her house was "the 'port of entry' for so many stranded souls." And the FBI knew it. Suspecting the Viertels of Communism, the government opened files on them, tapped their phones and read their mail.

Rifkind proves with The Sun and Her Stars--her first book and the first English-language biography of Viertel--that she's a superlative chronicler of Old Hollywood. Rifkind also demonstrates, through her accounts of various émigré artists' harrowing escapes from the Nazis, that she's a formidable storyteller. The exhaustively researched The Sun and Her Stars, which relies in part on Viertel's memoir, among other plum sources, includes nearly 30 black-and-white photos, some of Viertel's esteemed émigré friends. "Without immigrants, there would be no Golden Age of Hollywood," writes Rifkind. And without Salka Viertel, Old Hollywood's lights would have shone less brightly. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This tour de force of a biography tells the story of an overlooked hero who helped make Hollywood's golden age gleam.

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. Enemies by Tijan
3. In the Unlikely Event by L.J. Shen
4. The Lineup by Meghan Quinn
5. Take It Down a Notch by Weston Parker
6. Insatiable by Melanie Harlow
7. 30 Days by Marc Reklau
8. The Boss Who Stole Christmas by Jana Aston
9. Dark Russian Angel by Odette Stone
10. My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish

[Many thanks to!]

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