Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 3, 2020


Little Simon: Spring into these illustrated chapter books tailor-made for new readers and make learning to read a blast!

Shadow Mountain: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Graydon House: The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Columbia Global Reports: The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now about the Left by John B Judis

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison

News

New Owners for the Avid Reader in Davis, Calif.

The Avid Reader in Davis, Calif., which was put up for sale last summer by founder Alzada Knickerbocker, changed ownership January 31, the Enterprise reported. The new owners of the Avid Reader and Avid Reader Active are Brett and Erin Arnold along with their children Emelyne and Owen. To mark the change, a celebration and reception will be held February 21 at the bookstore.

The Arnolds, who have long ties to the Davis community, said they are "thrilled to be taking over the reins of such a beloved local business." Erin Arnold, who "has a soft spot for children's and young adult literature," is also "an experienced traveler and loves to discover great travel books and resources," the Enterprise noted, adding that Brett Arnold "has been practicing civil litigation for the last 10 years and in his free time loves to read everything from fantasy novels to finance texts."

Davis has been a wonderful place to raise our kids," Erin Arnold said. "Most of our dearest friends and family live inside these 10 square miles."

Brett Arnold added: "For years, Emelyne and I have been going on father-daughter dates downtown and our favorite part is always ending the evening at the Avid Reader, where Emelyne gets to pick a new book. The store is just a magical place for us."

"I couldn't have chosen better buyers to carry on the legacy of the Avid Reader here in Davis," Knickerbocker observed. "Their enthusiasm, savvy and local ties and history make them ideal successors."

The long-term Avid Reader staff will continue with the store under new ownership. Knickerbocker praised them as a "seasoned and competent staff, who will work to insure the Avid Reader and Avid Reader Active will continue to serve their customers going forward with the same high standards and friendly outreach they've exhibited in the past."


Grove Press: Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart


American Dirt: Commentary on the Controversy

Commentary on American Dirt continues, particulary since Flatiron Books canceled Jeanine Cummins' bookstore tour.

In a Washington Post story called "Threats against the author of 'American Dirt' threaten us all," Ron Charles lamented that threats of physical violence had caused the tour to be cancelled. "More than 30 years after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa demanding the assassination of Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, here we are terrorizing one of our own novelists."

He called the book "a melodramatic thriller tarted up with flowery ornaments and freighted with earnest political relevance. The book might have fallen unremarked into the great vat of sentimental suspense fiction that New York pumps out every year, except for an unprecedented collision of promotion and denunciation."

A major problem, he wrote, was the publisher's decision to make the book "the defining novel of the immigrant experience--an emotional story powerful enough to galvanize the sympathy of a nation," the kind of effort, however flawed, that has a powerful history: "It's worth recalling an earlier melodramatic thriller tarted up with flowery ornaments and freighted with earnest political relevance by a white woman named Harriet Beecher Stowe. We can debate how egregiously Stowe appropriated the lives of black people and exploited their suffering, but President Abraham Lincoln said that Uncle Tom's Cabin sparked the Civil War. If American Dirt similarly motivates some Americans to fight against this country's immoral immigration actions along the southern border, then more power to Cummins. And once engaged in that struggle, these readers might move on to better books."

He ended: "The best critics of American Dirt are clearly motivated by a desire to defend the integrity of Mexican culture and the humanity of our most vulnerable residents. But in today's toxic atmosphere, those valuable critiques have been drowned out by a cowardly chorus of violence."

---

In a statement, the National Coalition Against Censorship focused on the how the tour cancellation hindered discussion of a variety of issues that might have taken place in bookstores. "Threats that are made in an effort to force the cancellation of an author's appearance at a bookstore threaten freedom of speech and the open exchange of ideas. Debate is essential in a free society, and bookstores play an integral part in the process by which ideas are disseminated and debated. An author appearance does more than provide customers the chance to meet the person behind the book. It gives them the opportunity to ask questions, express their own opinions, and even to disagree...

"Given that some of the stores had sold as many as 300 tickets for these events, it is likely that thousands of people were denied an opportunity to hear Cummins. This does more than disappoint the book's fans. Readers critical of the book have lost public forums to express their views as well. Some might have wanted to peacefully protest in front of the store.

"The cancellation of the American Dirt tour is a lost opportunity to discuss immigration--one of the most fraught issues in American life today--as well as other important subjects, including who gets to tell what stories, whose voices are prioritized in our cultural spaces and how the lack of diversity in publishing impacts the stories and authors given platforms."

---

The Guardian noted that booksellers are handling sales of the book in a variety of ways. City Lights, San Francisco, Calif., is not selling the book while Green Apple Books, also in San Francisco, is displaying copies of books by Latinx authors next to American Dirt.

Cellar Door, Riverside, Calif., is donating 20% of the store's profits from American Dirt to RAICES (the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services).

---

In Slate, Laura Miller spoke off the record with "several editors at Big Five houses [about] what went wrong in the publication of American Dirt, how it might have been avoided, and how the landscape has changed--if at all."

"Some of this is generational," a white assistant editor told Miller in discussing how such a book could have be published. "I would have spoken up 100% about how problematic the book was."

An editorial director of an imprint seconded the generational aspect, saying, "Over 50 it's just white people who went to Harvard, but the pool of people under 35 is much more diverse."

Positioning was a key problem in the American Dirt controversy, Miller wrote: " 'From what I've heard,' said one senior editor, 'it's a really quick, pacey, dramatic read, and there's a whole coterie of people who will say that to their friends, and word of mouth will move across the country like wildfire.' In other words, the novel is a work of commercial fiction, much like Where the Crawdads Sing and other titles that sell in large numbers while generally flying under the radar of cultural critics and political commentators. Where Cummins' publisher went wrong, in this formulation, was to present American Dirt as if it was also, in the senior editor's words, 'a contribution to a vital understanding of this issue,' with the implied claim of representing the issue accurately rather than using it as a backdrop for an entertaining suspense story. 'It's a commercial book that was mispositioned as literary,' another senior publishing executive observed."

Miller pointed to several examples of somewhat similar books positioned differently. A recent one is Don Winslow, "a white author who writes bestselling thrillers about Latin American drug cartels in which the characters are arguably just as much stock figures as those in Cummins' novel, yet his work is not presented as social commentary, with all the heightened attention such pretenses bring with them."

The book, still the bestselling fiction title in the country, will not be hurt by the controversy. Miller wrote: "No one I spoke to expected the controversy over American Dirt to harm the novel's commercial prospects. 'The consumers don't care. They. Don't. Care,' said one editor with exasperation. 'If it does register, they'll just write it off as PC.' While one source said he was sure the incident is 'humiliating' to Cummins, her publisher, and other people associated with the book, you can wipe your tears away with money.' "

In conclusion, Miller quoted a publisher on how the controversy might affect publishers. "I don't see this leading to a decision not to acquire a book that we would have acquired in the past at all. But I do think that in cases where there's a mismatch between the identity of the character and author, the value of those books over books where the author is a member of the community being written about will be more closely scrutinized. There's a fine line between free expression--which can mean publishing books that not everyone on the staff likes--and publishing responsibly, ethically, and with proper due diligence."

---

In one of the funnier, pointed commentaries on the controversy, McSweeney's published "As a 28-Year-Old Latino, I'm Shocked My New Novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady, Has Been So Poorly Received" by Carlos Greaves.

It reads, in part, "When I set out to write this novel, which takes place in Iowa and centers around 46-year-old Meradyth Spensir and her 8-year-old son Chab, my goal was to shed light on the struggles that white middle-aged women in America face--struggles that I, a 28-year-old Latino man, don't know much about but I would imagine are pretty tough. And as far as I'm concerned, I freaking nailed it....

"Despite... minor cultural inaccuracies, I still think Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady captures the essence of what it means to be a middle-aged white woman in America. I admit that, when the idea first came to me, I was worried that, as a non-woman, a non-white person, and a non-middle-aged person, I wouldn't be able to do this story justice. But the question I kept asking myself was: if not me, then who? Who was going to write about the middle-aged white woman experience in this country? Middle-aged white women? Can middle-aged white women even type? I'm seriously asking this because, again, I didn't actually talk to any when I was working on this novel, so I would genuinely like to know."


House of Anansi Press: Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson


Obituary Note: Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark
(photo: Bernard Vidal)

"Queen of Suspense" Mary Higgins Clark died on Friday at age 92. In a career that lasted 45 years, she wrote 56 books, all bestsellers. They were mostly suspense novels, some written with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark and others with crime novelist Alafair Burke in the Under Suspicion series. She also published a memoir, Kitchen Privileges, and several children's books. More than 100 million copies of her books are in print in the U.S. alone.

A lifetime dream of hers was to be a published writer, and after being widowed at age 37 with five children, she famously wrote at her kitchen table before dawn before commuting into New York City for her job. Her writing career started in 1975, when she was nearly 50 and published Where Are the Children?. Among her best-known work are A Stranger Is Watching; The Cradle Will Fall; Loves Music, Loves to Dance; Let Me Call You Sweetheart; and Daddy's Gone A Hunting. Her most recent book, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, appeared last November. (Exactly a month ago, Shelf Awareness published a Reading With... column with her. Our favorite part of that: Q: "How technology has altered the way a mystery is written." A: "If in your story you want to put a body in a dumpster, it's hard to find one that doesn't have a camera pointed at it.")

Clark acknowledged having a formula. Speaking with CNBC, she said once, "In my case, it's always a woman, a young woman. Smart, intelligent, and something happens. She's not on the wrong side of town at 4 in the morning. She's living her life and something crosses it. And by her own intelligence, she works her way out of it."

In an announcement of her death, Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, Clark's publisher for 45 years, called Clark "simply, a remarkable woman who overcame an early life of hardship and challenges, never doubting her ability as a natural-born storyteller (and she was one for the ages), and who persevered through trial and rejection until she at last achieved her Holy Grail of being a published author.

"Those of us who are fortunate to have worked with Mary--and at Simon & Schuster, that is multitudes--know her as a person of tremendous loyalty and dedication: In this day and age it is exceedingly rare for an author, especially one as prized as Mary, to remain with a single publisher for an entire 45-year career.

"She was similiarly devoted to her readers, until very recently going out of her way to meet them while on tour for every one of her books, and drawing tremendous energy and satisfaction from her interactions with them, even though she long ago could have pulled back from that part of being an author. She was, too, a generous member of the literary community, especially toward new authors, and was well known beyond the publishing world for her support of innumerable philanthropic and civic causes."

Reidy quoted Michael Korda, S&S editor-in-chief emeritus, who said, "Mary and I have been dear friends, and worked together since 1975, during which time we never had a cross word between us, which surely sets something of a record for author-editor relationships.

"She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read--and, perhaps more important, what they didn't want to read--and yet she managed to surprise them with every book. She was the Queen of Suspense, it wasn't just a phrase; she always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was at once a gift, but also the result of hard work, because nobody worked harder than Mary did on her books to deliver for her readers. She was also, unfailingly, cheerful under pressure, generous, good humored and warm-hearted, the least 'temperamental' of bestselling authors, and the most fun to be around. I feel privileged to have enjoyed 45 years of her friendship, and saddened that I will no longer be able to pick up the phone and hear her say, 'Michael, I think I've figured out how to make this story work.' She was a joy to work with, and to know."

Clark's legacy includes the Mary Higgins Clark Award, an annual prize given by the Mystery Writers of America to the year's best suspense writing.


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Sibert Medal Winner: Juana Martinez-Neal, Fry Bread

Juana Martinez-Neal
(photo: Jade Beall)

Last week, Juana Martinez-Neal won the Robert F. Sibert Medal for "the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English" for her picture book Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and published by Roaring Brook Press.

In 2018, you won the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for La Princesa and the Pea (Putnam), written by Susan Middleton Elya. In 2019, you received a Caldecott Honor for Alma and How She Got Her Name (Candlewick), your first solo picture book. Now, in 2020, Fry Bread won the Robert F. Sibert Medal and was also one of the Honor titles of the American Indian Youth Literature Award. That's a pretty big past few years! How are you feeling?

Excited, grateful, satisfied and more, much more. It is unbelievable to be awarded in different areas of children's literature. Starting with the Pura Belpré celebrating Latinx culture in the U.S., then the Caldecott Honor and now the Sibert for the best informational book in the U.S. It is a very nice culmination for all the years I worked towards first becoming published.

Why did you want to illustrate Fry Bread? What drew you to the picture book?

Its words. They are so powerful and moving. The first time I read the manuscript, it moved me to tears. I had to read it over and over again. Each time I read, it was clearer that I had to illustrate this book. As a person of color and Peruvian, I could connect with so many aspects of the book.

When I read the "Fry Bread is history" stanza, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I could see this spread as where I could include storytelling, which is such an important aspect of Indigenous life throughout the Americas. In my illustration, the grandparents are sharing the history of the removal of their people with the children in the family. This combination of the words and images is uncomfortable, yet it is important to share with young readers.

How did you work to connect your illustrations to Maillard's deeply personal text? Were there things you incorporated in the art that nodded to the emotional aspects of his writing?

I can only illustrate words I understand and deeply connect with. Being born and raised in Peru, I could see the experiences of the Indigenous people of Peru also reflected in Kevin's words about the experiences of American Indians.

At the same time, I am always very conscious of how easy it is to stereotype what Peruvians look like in children's books and all media (when in reality we look many different ways).

One concept of the book I loved is the gathering together to share a meal. I knew that well since I had similar experiences growing up in Peru. We get together to share time, cook, eat, catch up, relax and eat some more. When I began to work on the book, I found myself adding more and more characters and with that the family kept growing and growing. With each family member, I hoped to depict a contemporary Native American family.

What about the more historical aspects of the text? How did you work with those?

You bring up a great point. The spread of "Fry Bread is history" was the most challenging. Because of the words that accompany the illustration, the spread needed to have some surreal elements. At the same time, it had to continue with what we had established in all the other spreads in the book: that this book was current and strongly tied to reality. My editor, Connie [Hsu], pushed me for more in this spread. With the image of the grandparents storytelling, I added the crows and the people walking in the background to signify the removal and displacement of Native Americans.

Did you know how you wanted this book to look from the very beginning? Or did it change the more you worked on it?

I knew early on that I wanted to represent a current-day Seminole family and include a wide range of skin tones in the characters. Kevin shared photographs, videos and resources to help me represent the family. With Kevin's collaboration, I was able to bring to the work even the smallest of details: the bowl the grandma uses to prepare the dough, the dad's tattoos, the pattern on the aunt's skirt, the baskets and dolls and so much more.

How do you feel about this title winning the Sibert Medal? Did you consider Fry Bread an "informational book"?

It is such a huge honor! I feel happy and proud that this book received both the Sibert Medal and the American Indian Youth Literature Award Picture Book Honor. Fry Bread was a true collaboration which presents information in a more untraditional way. Information is presented in the author's note, and also in the book itself through the art and words starting with the endpapers.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell Shelf Awareness readers?

Fry Bread is a book for everyone to share--I hope it will start important and necessary conversations for all readers. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Wi15: Technology: Your Bookstore's Podcast

On Thursday morning at Winter Institute, booksellers gathered for a panel to learn about podcasting and its ability to supplement a "store's programming, boost sales and generate interest... among the literary community and beyond." Jason Jefferies, general manager of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., and co-director of the North Carolina Book Festival, moderated the panel, which included Annie Jones from the Bookshelf, Thomasville, Ga.; Alena Jones of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.; and Layla Saad, author of Me and White Supremacy (Sourcebooks).

Jefferies, who hosts Bookin', Quail Ridge Books' podcast, opened the conversation by asking his fellow panelists what format their podcast takes. Jefferies explained that when authors come for events, he has them sign as much stock as possible and records a conversation with them before the event. Two weeks later, he releases the conversation as a Bookin' podcast, inviting listeners to come in and purchase signed copies of the book.

Saad, who runs Good Ancestor Podcast, said she is driven by the idea of "becoming a good ancestor" and strives to interview people on her show who are doing life-changing work. Each Good Ancestor podcast is a conversation between her and a "living ancestor." "I am very intentional about the guests I feature," she said. "The intention of the podcast is to go deep."

Alena Jones, who hosts Open Stacks, suggested that the bookstore's podcast is "ever-evolving": originally, she would record store events and disseminate them as podcasts; now the podcast includes talks with booksellers and conversations designed to help listeners understand what bookselling is all about.

Annie Jones said she initially started From the Front Porch to introduce herself and the bookstore to her town. That, she said, "did not work." But the purpose of the show changed and began to settle into conversations about books in general and life in the South. She aims to provide the "same warmth" in her show that a customer would get walking into the store.

While most of the podcasters said they do their podcasts in pursuit of "cultural" (rather than "financial") goals, Annie Jones noted that From the Front Porch has helped to build tourism in Thomasville and that 75% of her online sales come from podcast listeners. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Jigsaw Man
by Nadine Matheson

GLOW: Hanover Square Press: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley Thriller) by Nadine MathesonAfter some time off, Detective Inspector Anjelica Henley returns to field duty with London's Serial Crimes Unit only to find two dead people--pieces of them, that is. The dismemberment reminds Henley of serial killer Peter Olivier, who cut up his victims with a jigsaw. But Henley apprehended him two years earlier, and he's serving life in a high-security prison. Which means there's a copycat killer and Henley must face Olivier again to ask for help. Nadine Matheson's The Jigsaw Man is "a modern Silence of the Lambs," says Hanover Square Press editor John Glynn, "complete with a kickass protagonist and a villain who steals the show." He adds that "Nadine's experience as a criminal defense attorney allows her to inhabit her characters in a visceral way." Readers will experience this thriller the same way, with a punch. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis

(Hanover Square Press, $27.99 hardcover, 9781335146564,
March 16, 2021)

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Notes

Image of the Day: Super Bowl Surprise

It was Super Bowl weekend in Miami but that doesn't mean there's no time for books! Legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice stopped by Books & Books to sign copies of America's Game: The NFL at 100 (Dey Street Books). Pictured: (l.-r.) Books & Books staffers Chris, Patti, Steve, owner Mitchell Kaplan, Jerry Rice, Caroline, Stephanie and Darby.

Pennie Picks: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, 9781492671527) as her pick of the month for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"If you've never heard of the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, I can't think of a better way to get a taste than through this month's book buyer's pick, Kim Michele Richardson's The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

"Cussy Mary Carter is part of a mobile library that delivers books to people in sparsely populated Appalachia. She is also the last of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky. Cussy battles not only prejudice against her skin color, but also the fear of the power of the written word."

PGW to Distribute Restless Books

Effective in May, Ingram's Publishers Group West will sell and distribute Restless Books in the U.S., Canada, and international territories.

Founded in 2013, Restless Books, Brooklyn, N.Y., is a nonprofit independent publisher of international fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. Its mission is "championing essential voices from around the world whose stories speak to us across linguistic and cultural borders. We seek extraordinary international literature for adults and young readers that feeds our restlessness: our hunger for new perspectives, passion for other cultures and languages, and eagerness to explore beyond the confines of the familiar."

Among Restless Books titles are the Italian satire I Am God; Cuban science-fiction by Yoss, the crónicas of Peruvian author Gabriela Wiener; the first novel from Madagascar to be translated into English, Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields; young-reader debut books by Rivka Galchen and Juan Villoro; the Restless Classics series, including Robinson Crusoe introduced by Jamaica Kincaid and Virginia Woolf's Night and Day introduced by Lauren Groff; and the novels of cult film guru Alejandro Jodorowsky.


Personnel Changes at ReaderLink; Texas Book Festival

Jeff Nisbet has joined the sales team at ReaderLink as director of new business development. He was formerly v-p of sales at Baker & Taylor, where he worked for 27 years.

---

Matthew Patin has been named literary director of the Texas Book Festival. He is an independent book editor, writer, and literary consultant and has served the festival in various roles since 2014, including as author hospitality committee co-chair, lit crawl adviser, and panel moderator. He has worked at Greenleaf Book Group and HarperCollins.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paul Krugman on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Today:
Ellen: Diane Keaton, author of Brother & Sister: A Memoir (Knopf, $25.95, 9780451494504).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Paul Krugman, author of Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future (Norton, $29.95, 9781324005018).

Movies: The Booksellers

The official trailer has been released for The Booksellers, which documents the world of antiquarian booksellers in New York City and "takes viewers inside their small but fascinating world, populated by an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers." Directed by D.W. Young, the film explores the annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory as well as the Strand and Argosy bookstores. It features commentators like Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean and Gay Talese, along with book dealers and collectors. The Booksellers will be released March 6.



Books & Authors

Awards: Andrew Carnegie Medals

The winners of the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are:

Fiction: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Knopf): The judges commented: "Intense and timely, Valeria Luiselli's novel tracks husband-and-wife audio documentarians as they travel cross-country with their two children and deep into the painful history of the Apache people and the present immigration crisis on the Southwest border, while freshly exploring themes of conquest and remembrance, and powerfully conveying the beauty of the haunted landscape."

Nonfiction: Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham (S&S). The judges said Higginbotham "has created a thoroughly researched, fast-paced, engrossing, and revelatory account of what led up to and what followed the explosion of Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear-power plant on April 26, 1986, focusing on the people involved as they faced shocking circumstances that are having complex and significant global consequences."


Book Review

Review: Lurking: How a Person Became a User

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil (MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 hardcover, 304p., 9780374194338, February 25, 2020)

One way to write the history of the Internet is, as with the history of any other thing, to trace it through its loudest voices: its figureheads and visionaries, its corporate victors, its brazen self-promoters and even more brazen trolls. This history, while not exactly incorrect, is still treacherously reductive. Because there's another way--a more comprehensive way--to tell the history of the Internet, and that's through telling the history of its use.

In Lurking: How a Person Became a User, technology writer and critic Joanne McNeil offers a thoughtful and thorough account of how users--also known as "people"--have made the extraordinary social space called the Internet. Most of these users participate online by not participating, or by "lurking"--reading, listening and learning. McNeil sees lurking as "listening and witnessing on the internet, rather than opining and capturing the attention of others"; it can also be "a waiting room for communication," a way to pause and prepare for exchange. By charting the evolution of many complex and divergent online communities, McNeil shows that lurking is not a passive activity but a productive one.

Lurking isn't organized by the linear, deterministic framework that characterizes many accounts of how the Internet came to be. Rather, the history McNeil presents is idiosyncratic and contradictory. She is knowledgeable about the technology that makes the Internet possible but not deferential to it, emphasizing that life online is characterized by "an operational clash of values between human ambiguity and machine explicitness. Humanity is the spice, the substrate, that machines cannot replicate."

McNeil's takes an empathetic, incisive and refreshingly sincere tone. She resists cynicism, while remaining straightforwardly critical of the corrosive forces of capitalism, racism and misogyny. She is an idealist who is also careful to avoid the trap of pining for an Internet that never actually existed: "When I think I feel nostalgic for the internet before social media consolidation, what I am actually experiencing is a longing for an internet that is better, for internet communities that haven't come into being yet."

In the end, she offers a blueprint for that better Internet, which she imagines as "a civic and independent body, where all people are welcome and respected." When described with McNeil's wisdom and sensitivity, it almost seems possible. --Hannah Calkins, writer and editor in Indianapolis, Ind.

Shelf Talker: Refreshingly humane and threaded with poetic insight, Lurking tells the people's history of the Internet.


The Bestsellers

Libro.fm Bestsellers in January

The bestselling Libro.fm audiobooks at independent bookstores during January:
 
Fiction
1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Macmillan Audio)
6. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Macmillan Audio)
7. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. The Overstory by Richard Powers (Recorded Books)
9. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Penguin Random House Audio)

Nonfiction
1. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (Hachette Audio)
2. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (Hachette Audio)
3. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Know My Name by Chanel Miller (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West (Hachette Audio)
7. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. A Very Stable Genius by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Dear Girls by Ali Wong (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. The Only Plane in the Sky by Holter Graham and Garrett M. Graff (Simon & Schuster Audio)

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