Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 23, 2020


Shadow Mountain: Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Flatiron Books: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

Scribner Book Company: An Elegant Woman by Martha McPhee

Chronicle Books: Cross Country: A 3,700-Mile Run to Explore Unseen America by Rickey Gates

Other Press: This Little Family by Inès Bayard, translated by Adriana Hunter

Beacon Press: Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl

Roost Books: How to Wash the Dishes by Peter Miller

St. Martin's Press: The Unwilling by John Hart

Editors' Note

Moving Ahead in Challenging Times

Available from Books Are Magic; half the proceeds go to Binc, the other half to support store employees during the shutdown.

What a week and a half. It's been unprecedented, difficult, upsetting. In the last 10 days, most bookstores have closed for what used to be normal business. If they're lucky and not in "shelter in place" areas, they can deliver books, games, puzzles and more curbside or to customers' homes, and a few allow shopping by appointment. But in many areas, booksellers can't even go to their stores and work behind locked doors. It's no surprise that many booksellers have been laid off, with few benefits and no idea when they might get jobs back.

The shock extends through the book business. Publishers and others are mostly working from home. Author tours and a range of events at bookstores have been cancelled. Most of the live shows where authors tout their books are in hiatus, and some books that were to appear soon are being postponed.

Still, there are hopeful signs. Many stores are doing what they do best and getting ever more creative online and on social media, streaming events, book clubs, scenes from their stores. They're reminding customers of the many ways they can support indies in this difficult time--and continue to buy books on their websites, and through IndieCommerce and Bookshop.

Many people are making substantial donations to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), which helps booksellers and bookstores in need. Among other efforts to find relief for bookstores and booksellers, the American Booksellers Association and others are lobbying so that some of the government aid that will likely be made available in some form this week go to small businesses and their employees.

We at Shelf Awareness will continue to keep you updated on all the twists and turns of this difficult time. Incidentally, about half the Shelf Awareness staff normally works out of our office in Seattle. Everyone there is now working primarily from home, as do the rest of our editorial crew across the country. We're healthy and safe and hope you are, too.


Berkley Books: Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay


Quotation of the Day

'More Empathetic and Enlightened Individuals'

"We would like to take a moment to thank our incredible literary community for their continued support during this time. We understand that anxiety and uncertainty are the emotions dominating most of our mental landscapes. We commend our readers for their commitment to self educating, exploring, and expanding through the magic of books during this global crisis. We can only hope to arise from this pandemic as more empathetic and enlightened individuals.

We continue to offer free domestic shipping through March 31. While the storefront remains closed to the public, we are still offering curbside pick up, so call or go online to order! Check out our Facebook page for our LiveStream Children's Story Times and visit our website to download both the Kid's and Adult's Bookmark Contest forms!

Thank you Houston. Brazos loves you."
--Brazos Books, Houston, Tex., on Facebook

Ingram: Direct to Home, Never Miss a Sale


News

Ingram Stays Open; Making Bookstores Essential?; IBD, GLIBA News

Noting that it has book distribution and printing facilities in five U.S. locations, in the U.K. and Australia, Ingram Content Group has affirmed that it is remaining opening despite a range of shelter in place, lockdown and other restrictions put into place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ingram's wholesale, distribution, print on demand, and digital services are considered essential, allowing the exemptions, the company said.

Ingram president and CEO Shawn Morin commented: "We are monitoring all global geographies where we do business for announcements regarding COVID-19 and are adjusting our business accordingly. At this time, we can report that all our facilities and distribution centers around the world remain open. Ingram Content Group continues to take actions to support the health and safety of all our associates as well as provide critical services to the industry in these difficult times."

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Orders ready to go at Greenlight.

With New York State now officially on PAUSE, which includes the closure of all non-essential businesses, several booksellers are trying to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo that bookstores should be included on the essential services list.

A letter to the governor written by Rebecca Fitting, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, and signed by bookstore owners, stated: "We are urgently asking that you recategorize bookstores across New York State as an essential service. In New York, both schools and libraries are closed and Amazon has announced they are de-prioritizing books and are no longer actively shipping them to consumers. This is alarming because at the moment, bookstores now serve as one of the last sources for New York's students and families to access education materials. In addition, we also provide both children and adults with home education and entertainment materials which are a necessity during these long periods of social distancing and isolation....

"New York bookstores already have safe distance protocols in place, many of which are offering curbside pickup or delivery, where there is no physical interaction with customers. Our products are sanitized and require no physical interaction when exchanged between employee and customer. In addition, having bookstores deemed essential services would allow us the ability to continue to receive and send shipments of books to our customers....

"Bookstores in New York are often family-owned businesses with close-knit teams. In all these cases, we would have a skeleton crew and practice the utmost due diligence of social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing processes. This would allow us to continue to employ our staff and ensure the survival of our businesses too."

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York recommended that if New York readers agreed, they should write to the governor's office, urging him to consider this change.

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Independent Bookstore Day has been tentatively rescheduled for August 29, the last Saturday in August, program director Samantha Schoech reported. The plan is to still create an online marketing push and "hubbub" around independent bookstores on April 25, but the in-store version of IBD has been moved to August. IBD merchandise will not be shipped until the date is certain, Schoech added, and booksellers can expect more information coming over the next few weeks.

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The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association is connecting with members in several different ways. On Wednesday, March 25, 3-4 p.m. Central, it's holding an online video conversation for GLIBA booksellers "to both unite and educate us as we share best practices for dealing with the day-today struggles, voice concerns, and plan for the months ahead. It will also provide much needed face to face time with your fellow booksellers."

And on Thursday, April 26, the association is hosting the GLIBA Virtual Spring Forum, which is open to booksellers around the country and will include an introduction from GLIBA about the status of things in the region; Binc's activities; a live discussion among booksellers about how they are dealing with the pandemic; and several hours of author presentations.

The sweetest news from GLIBA is the birth on February 25 of Vivian Prairie Law, daughter of executive director Larry Law and Sandra Law, a sales rep for Abraham Associates. Larry Law noted that Vivian's favorite books currently are Bigfoot Baby! (Hazy Dell Press), Mr. Gumpy's Outing (Macmillan), The Quiet Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Not Quite Narwhal (Simon & Schuster).

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In a call for the federal government to take action to "enable small businesses to survive the coronavirus crisis," co-signed by many organizations, including the American Booksellers Association, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes that the "top priority must be grants and subsidies, not loans.... Small businesses need a bridge to weather this crisis, keep their staff employed, and be in a position to lead an economic recovery. Many small business owners are worried about taking on excessive debt in a volatile and highly uncertain economy. Direct cash assistance is critical to enabling small business owners to weather this storm." The grants, ILSR continued, should be enough for small businesses to "meet immediate needs over the next 4 months, including payroll, health insurance, rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. These grants should be issued automatically to small businesses in heavily impacted sectors, including retail and restaurants."

Small business subsidies might be connected to payroll. "Reimbursing small businesses for their payroll costs during this and future periods of social distancing will allow them to keep their staff intact and be ready to resume operations, and is a better long-term solution than swelling the unemployment rolls."

At the same time, ILSR proposed that the federal government expand a variety of loan programs; "suspend loan payments for small business borrowers, restructure loans, and relax underwriting requirements for small businesses"; and provide block grants to states to fund lending and other programs that benefit small businesses. It also urged that commercial evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs for small businesses be suspended nationwide.

ILSR urged lawmakers "to reject opportunism by politically powerful corporations and ensure that bailout programs do not exacerbate market concentration and that they come with strings to protect the public interest."

It also urged the government to provide "cash assistance, healthcare coverage, and other support to individuals"--the employees and customers of small businesses.

ILSR emphasized that "when life returns to normal, we need small businesses to be ready to rebuild the economy and restore the vitality of our communities."


GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate


International Book Trade: Waterstones, Blackwell's Close Temporarily

Waterstones and Blackwell's will close all their physical bookshops on a temporary basis due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, the Bookseller reported. In a statement, Waterstones said it was closing beginning tomorrow until further notice, "to help prevent spread of the coronavirus, and to protect the wellbeing of our customers and staff." Over the weekend, some staff members had voiced concerns on social media and to the Guardian about the company's previous stance to remain open until the U.K. demanded closure. Foyles, which Waterstones acquired in 2018, is also closing, effective tomorrow. (In an announcement to customers, Foyles said in part, "This isn't the end for us. We've been around for 117 years. We've endured through two world wars, a century of change--not to mention our own bookselling practices. We will be back.")

Managing director James Daunt told the Bookseller: "We've been trying to work out as the days unfold whether there really are some staff who are working who are uncomfortable and unwilling, and we've been very clear throughout that nobody should be working if they find it difficult for whatever reason. There's an indication that some people are coming to work out of duty, and we need to work through this and determine if it's the case.

"We are also recognizing that today a number of other retailers have made a similar decision [to close]--Primark, there's a whole sea of them--and we felt we need to take a time out at the very least. We still do continue to think we are offering an extraordinarily valuable social service, and if the government determines that we are one of the essential services, once we are absolutely certain we can open our shops safely with booksellers who are willing to be there, we will do so. If all shops are obliged to close, we will follow whatever the government determines."

Blackwell's president Toby Blackwell and CEO David Prescott also announced the temporary closure of all Blackwell's and Heffers stores, effective yesterday. "We have kept our bookshops open as long as possible, because we know how important a role they play to you and your local communities," they said. "However, the safety of both our booksellers and customers has to be put first.... Take care of yourselves, your family and those around you during the uncertain times we face in the coming weeks. We look forward to helping you buy books to either banish boredom or to find out more about what's happening. We hope to see you back in our shops as soon as we feel it is safe to re-open."

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The Bookseller's Association unveiled a package of special measures for members. The Bookseller reported that managing director Meryl Halls told members the organization is currently "lobbying the trade and government to 'swiftly' improve the financial and cashflow situation for high street booksellers. The BA group board will waive all 2020 subscriptions for independents and National Book Tokens will improve payment terms to all indie members. The BA Group will also donate £30,000 [about $38,705] to the Book Trade Charity, with the intention that the money is used for hardship grants for booksellers affected by the current crisis."

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Hive.co.uk is doubling commissions to independent booksellers during the outbreak following discussions with the BA about how to support stores, the Bookseller reported. Nigel Wyman, head of business development at Gardners, said: "We are looking at various ways of supporting booksellers during these troubled times and hope that in some way this helps. We will continue to look at other ways of how we can support over the coming days"

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In a newsletter sent to customers, the owner of the Otherwise Bookshop in Rome wrote: "These are strange times for all of us. As Covid-19 sweeps the globe and affects our lives, we are all reminded how precious our health and communities are. While we miss seeing you in the bookshop, we are setting up a book delivery service through the OtherQuestionnaire--a few questions to help us select the books you want, and those you didn’t know you wanted!... On behalf of the whole Otherwise team, thank you for your ongoing support. We sincerely hope that you and all your loved ones are healthy and safe. Stay home, remain hopeful and take care of each other (and keep reading!)"

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Independent bookstore owners and literary groups in Malaysia "will be heavily affected by the two-week movement control order (MCO) that was announced on March 16," the Star reported. "With their businesses temporarily ordered to close, many are worried about an uncertain future, with some resorting to new methods to keep themselves afloat."

Nazir Harith Fadzilah, founder of Tintabudi bookshop in Kuala Lumpur, suggested that some sort of subsidy be imposed to help small business owners with rent and other fixed costs: "I think there's been a slowdown in business ever since the virus was first announced earlier. People were reluctant to go out and sales were affected. I only hope a cure comes for this virus. If the restriction of movement were to be extended, we would have no choice but to just wait for things to subside."

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In New Zealand, Hamish Wright, owner of Paper Plus Cambridge in the Waikato, "hopes elderly people in rest homes will make use of the shop's new delivery service," Stuff reported. While the option is available for any customer, Wright said, "I believe a lot of rest homes are in lockdown so they can't get out to get their magazines, their weekly publications, crosswords and serials, that's really a big part of their lives. We still want them to feel like they're part of the community, that they're not alone. It's really important for us and for them.... We want everyone to remain being part of the community, that's one of the reasons for us to do this.... That's been a big part of the conversation that led on to developing this initiative. It's about saying, you don't need to come and see us, but, yes, we are still there for you."

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Booksellers across Ireland "have reported a huge increase in the number of online orders they've received over the last few weeks as the current global situation forces many people to stay at home," according to Extra.ie, which noted that Dubray Books "said that its web sales were up 120% over the last few days with fiction being the runaway category of choice for many readers."


Berkley Books: Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey


How Bookstores Are Coping: Fountain Bookstore, Kona Stories

In Richmond, Va., Fountain Bookstore has closed its storefront but is doing delivery and pickup. Owner Kelly Justice reported that her customers have been very supportive online and are very, very grateful for the delivery options. At the same time, sales are down quite a bit; Justice explained that normally, much of the store's income comes from event sales and people impulse-buying non-book items. All of that income is now gone, and while Justice and her team are looking into things like online events, the work is draining and coming up with new ideas is difficult. But, Justice said, "we must. It's not optional."

On the subject of her staff, Justice said her accountant recently advised her that rather than ask for staff voluntarily to take time off, it would be better for them if she laid them off so they could apply for unemployment. Currently, the store is doing enough online business to sustain a very small number of hours, and Justice stopped paying herself immediately. She added that while she doesn't know how long she can sustain that personally, her staff has been extraordinarily supportive.

"This is a truly frightening experience for everyone worldwide," Justice said. "It's my hope that we all try to be kind to one another and learn new ways to talk to each other, to show we care."

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At Kona Stories Book Store on the Big Island of Hawaii, co-owner Brenda McConnell is keeping the store open for its regular hours, but all events have been canceled, from book clubs to storytime sessions. Normally, the winter is one of the store's busiest times of year, but Hawaii's governor has requested a sabbatical of tourists for at least 30 days and many Canadian tourists have been mandated to go home early. As a result, there has been a huge decline in customers, and sales last week were about 50% of what McConnell and her team had seen two weeks prior.

The store's online orders have increased lately, but not significantly. Kona Stories has just started doing home deliveries, and McConnell said she hopes it takes off soon. She added that her staff is staying positive, but everyone is very nervous about the prospect of this going on for a long time.

This week, McConnell plans to write a letter to the store's landlord asking for a reduction in rent. If her landlord agrees and Kona Stories can stay open enough to cover operating expenses, then she and her team can "ride this out for a few months," but the summer months are always the slowest time of year. Said McConnell: "Fingers crossed we will still be alive and kicking this time next year."


Life Drawn: Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces by Valerie Villieu, illustrated by Raphael


Obituary Note: Mo Cohen

Mo Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Gingko Press, died March 4. In announcing "the sad news," Gingko's v-p & publisher David Lopes wrote: "Best known as owner and director of Gingko Press, Cohen was a larger-than-life figure in publishing circles. For decades, Mo could be found joyfully holding court at the Frankfurt Book Fair, wheeling, dealing and cracking jokes.

"Born in Tel Aviv, but forged in New York, Cohen cut his teeth as a bookseller working at East Side Bookshop, New Morning Bookshop and later at the venerable St. Mark's Bookshop in the '70s and '80s before becoming a sales rep at Schocken Books.

"By the mid-'80s he'd met the love of his life and eventual co-founder of Gingko Press, Julie von der Ropp. After a stint as an agent and rep for Black Sparrow Press, Cohen co-founded Gingko Press with von der Ropp in Hamburg, Germany in 1985. In 1991, Cohen and von der Ropp launched Gingko Press USA, starting out in John Martin's Black Sparrow offices. Martin was a long-time friend and inspiration.

"Mo's reverence of authors and approach to publishing in general was greatly influenced by Martin's legendary loyalty and the Black Sparrow model. Cohen is survived by his sister Myra and will be widely remembered for his quick wit, infectious laugh and unorthodox approach to publishing. Mo was laid to rest in Hamburg."


Berkley Books: Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave



Notes

Image of the Day: Flyleaf's Guest 'Worker'

Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., has been closed to the public but is filling online and phone orders. Owner Jamie Fiocco noted, "An upside to the store being closed is pets can join us. At the end of today we found Cornflake the dog in the kids room...."

Coronavirus-Fighting Ideas: #AskABookseller, Grab Bags, Secret Tour

Many temporarily shuttered indie bookstores are finding innovative ways to serve their customers, spark engagement and keep lines of communication open during this challenging time.

Today at 2 p.m.: #AskABookseller. "You might have questions about how to best support independent bookstores during the COVID-19 pandemic or what's happening to them behind-the-scenes. Join award-winning bookseller Nicole Brinkley and her friends on March 23 at 2 p.m. to get your questions answered " Brinkley, of Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y., tweeted: "Hi, friendos! There's a lot of questions going around about independent bookstores, from what's happening to how best to support them. Join me and my bookselling friends... for #AskABookseller. We'll answer all the questions you throw our way!" Stephanie Heinz of Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine, agreed: "Hey y'all! Some of my favorite humans and I will be answering all your bookselling questions Monday.... With the lack of face to face hand selling our extrovert energies are fully charged and ready to help."

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"SURPRISE! We put 15 grab bags outside of the shop," Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., posted on Facebook. "For a suggested donation* of $20-30, you can grab a bag of goodies that will entertain all ages. (These are kid-safe: no profanity.) We'll split the donation with the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. Should your stroll take you through Five Points, get a grab bag, book, or greeting card! *Venmo, PayPal, or some cash in an envelope under the door; if you can't give but want one of the things we have outside, please take what will make you happy."

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The Bookies bookstore, Denver, Colo., shared a revealing video: "We promised to show you a secret area in the Bookies and here it is! Our phones lines will turn on at 10am and we are still doing curbside pickup so we'll see you all soon!"

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Orders waiting to be packed at Old Town Books.

At Old Town Books, Alexandria, Va., "We've restaged the bookstore to become online only. What was our 'new in fiction' section is now online orders awaiting packaging. We cleared the front table too, now that is mission control for printing shipping labels and weighing packages.... More updates and opportunities to celebrate books with us soon! Thank you for staying connected, for the tweets, the shares, the kind words of encouragement. We need them. We love them + you + books + we're not giving up. No matter how bleak things get a book can do some good, for someone, somehow."

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How about a "virtual bookstore visit" inside Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa.?

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Books and shoes! "If our ever increasing Web orders are any indication, you consider books an essential item during this pandemic," Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., noted. "Now, thanks to our friend and neighbor Mast Shoes, in addition to web orders and curbside pick-up, we have a local delivery option as well! When you order both shoes from Mast Shoes and books, games, and puzzles from Nicola's Books, Mast Shoes will deliver everything to you! They'll deliver to your porch, knock, and wave (with gloved washed-100-times-today-hands), then leave a delivery that comforts body and soul."

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"And lastly, here's a little something to make you smile" from Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn. "Our curbside pickup team who have been hard at work this week, and a group of our toys having their own version of Storytime! We miss you all... stay well."


Notes of Hope, Adaptability & Gratitude

In the midst of the COVID-19 distress, indie booksellers continue to share messages of hope, adaptability & gratitude.

"This postcard arrived in the mail today. It put a smile on my face and made the day a whole lot better. Thank you!" Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, wrote.

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We're all in this together. The Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., posted: "Guess what? We are once again able to fulfill your online orders! Books will be shipped directly from the warehouse rather than being fulfilled by our staff in-store. The importance of your support cannot be understated. You alone will be giving us the ability to open our doors once again once this crisis is over. And we, in turn, will be able to welcome our booksellers back at both stores doing what they love the most. We will get through this together, as a community."

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Adapting to the new normal at Browsers Bookshop, Olympia, Wash.: "The Browsers Covid-19 Team!! We're here until 5 today to process your orders and give you stellar book recommendations, all while staying 6 feet apart."

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And at Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.: "What working looks like now (thank goodness we HAVE work to do). What you don't see are the mounds of packing material for mail-outs and the bags ready to be delivered. Thank you St. Louis. Please keep spreading the word."

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Orders ready to go at Run for Cover.

Run for Cover Bookstore, San Diego, Calif., observed: "I want to tell you how blown away I am by the support we are receiving from our community and beyond. I am in tears right now but these are tears of joy and gratitude. I am about to deliver all these books. Ila has already dropped off other book packages. We will not see anyone and just leave these by each front door but please know that my heart is hugging each and everyone of you so tight. Stay home and healthy. Share your reads. It is lifting us up to know so many great books are making their way to you dear Book Lovers."

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Gratitude. Napa Bookmine, Napa, Calif.: "From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU to everyone who has phoned in orders, bought books online, and called/texted/dm'd to check in on us. Our phone has been so busy it's losing its charge and our staff has been working hard to get your orders in.... We are BEYOND grateful for this amazing community that continues to show up when the going gets tough, and we are determined to continue to show up for you!... Your commitment to keeping us here will keep us here. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Stay safe out there!"


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rahm Emanuel on the View

Today:
The View: Rahm Emanuel, author of The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525656388).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Grace Byers, author of I Believe I Can (Balzer+Bray, $18.99, 9780062667137).


TV: Book Shopping by Appointment

Used bookshop Capitol Hill Books, Washington, D.C., was featured in a CBS This Morning segment showcasing how the bookseller "found a way to keep readers entertained while still being mindful of social distancing. From the outside, it looks as closed as many other shops on the street--but if customers make an appointment, they can have all three floors and thousands of volumes to themselves. Christina Ruffini visits the bookstore to see how they are staying open amid the coronavirus pandemic."


Books & Authors

Awards: Publishing Triangle Finalists

Finalists have been chosen for the Publishing Triangle Awards, which celebrate "the best LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction and poetry," and include the Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards. See the many finalists here. Sadly the awards ceremony scheduled for April 30 in New York City has been cancelled, but winners will be announced that day on the Publishing Triangle's website.

In addition, Eileen Myles will receive the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. Myles is the author of 21 books, including, most recently, evolution, a collection of poems, and Afterglow / a dog memoir, which was a finalist for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction in 2018.

Oliver Baez Bendorf will receive the Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award. Bendorf is the author of two collections, Advantages of Being Evergreen (2019), and The Spectral Wilderness (2015), which was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry.

The documentary In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction has won the Publishing Triangle Leadership Award.


Top Library Recommended Titles for April

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 April titles public library staff across the country love:

Favorite
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books, $22.99, 9781683691433). "Hendrix's latest novel, possibly his darkest yet, addresses racism, sexism, and the mistaken belief that housewives are dull. Patricia and friends, all genteel Southerners, start a true crime book club. They have to apply what they've learned when a vampire moves into town. Patricia grows from a mildly dissatisfied homemaker to a vampire fighting dynamo who thinks three steps ahead and takes ownership of her life. With perfect pacing, there's never a moment where readers can let their guard down. An excellent choice for horror fans of Joe Hill, David Wong, and Christopher Moore." --Rosemary Kiladitis, Queens Public Library, Corona, N.Y.

A Bad Day for Sunshine: A Novel by Darynda Jones (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250149442). "Jones follows up her Charley Davidson series in a spectacular fashion with a new series featuring police chief Sunshine Vicram. A fun, UN-PUT-DOWN-ABLE read with a large cast of lovable, diverse characters, several mysteries to solve, and laugh-out-loud humor. Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and J.A. Jance." --Pamela Steinke, Mott Public Library, Mott, N.Dak.

The Book of Longings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking, $28, 9780525429760). "Ana is Jesus's wife and a force in her own right. Monk does not sensationalize her writing about a fictional marriage for Jesus, but rather goes into great historical detail and imagines what it would be like to be a woman in that time. If you have been waiting for a book like The Red Tent for the past 20 years, this is it. Give to fans of Anita Diamant and Marilynne Robinson." --Claudia Silk, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Conn.

The Book of Lost Friends: A Novel by Lisa Wingate (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819888). "Another fantastic, hard-to-put-down book by Wingate. The story moves back and forth from the post Civil War era where freed slaves are searching for lost family to the modern day South where a struggling new teacher is trying to engage her students. A must read for those who enjoyed Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi or On Agate Hill by Lee Smith." --Cindy Ritter, Hamilton North Public Library, Cicero, Ind.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.99, 9780358164081). "Some years back, five teens were picked, after they fulfilled a prophecy, to fight the Dark One. Now, on the tenth anniversary of that battle, they find out that the Dark One is still alive in a parallel universe. Do the young heroes have what it takes to fight him again? Packed with action, suspense, and breath-taking twists and turns. A good choice for fans of Lev Grossman and N.K. Jemisin." --Trisha Perry, Oldham County Public Library, LaGrange, Ky.

Girl Gone Viral: A Novel by Alisha Rai (Avon, $27.99, 9780063003989). "When a random guy sits at Katrina's cafe table, a nearby woman shares the exchange on social media with her own interpretation that soon goes viral. Katrina can't care less because she's been crushing on her bodyguard, Jas, for years. Now to save her from the media blitz, Jas needs to hide her away somewhere--maybe his house in Northern California? For fans of The Right Swipe and Christina Lauren." --Jessica C. Williams, Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, Tiffin, Ohio

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez (Forever, $15.99, 9781538715642). "Sloan, still recovering from the sudden death of her fiance, finds a stray dog and brings him home. She calls the number on the tag but there is no response. Once she has fallen for the dog, the owner shows up and Sloan gets a second chance at love. For lovers of romantic comedies like Less by Sean Andrew Greer and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld." --Theresa Bond, Middlesex Public Library, Middlesex, N.J.

He Started It by Samantha Downing (Berkley, $26, 9780451491756). "A funny, twisted, scary story about Beth, Eddie, and Portia, siblings who are required to recreate a fateful road trip in order to claim their inheritance. For readers who enjoyed The Kill Club and Eight Perfect Murders." --Cari Dubiel, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg, Ohio

Little Secrets: A Novel by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur, $26.99, 9781250154224). "This fast-paced thriller opens on the kidnapping of a young boy. More than a year after her son's disappearance, Marin discovers her husband is having an affair and begins down a path of secrets and betrayal. For readers who enjoyed Lady in the Lake and Lock Every Door." --Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Ill.

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle (Putnam, $16, 9780593085424). "Naomi realizes she is only 18% in love with Nicholas, but doesn't want to be the one to break it off, so she devises a plan to force him to break up with her. For readers who liked The Wedding Party and Well Met." --Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Md.


Book Review

Review: The Glass Magician

The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer (Tor, $26.99 hardcover, 288p., 9780765335043, April 7, 2020)

"The Bullet Catch was just a trick. The danger, however, was completely real."

In the well-imagined historical fantasy The Glass Magician, magic is both real and manufactured. Traders are both human and animal. Friends are both loyal and deceitful. Nothing is quite what it seems, but the stakes are high and the truth behind the tricks must be revealed.

Caroline Stevermer's 1905 New York City is populated by a stratified society dictated by magic and colonialism. A wealthy upper class of shapeshifting Traders rules like "The 400" of real high-society New York City at that time. A somewhat mysterious, mostly Indigenous group called Silvestri control the entire center of what is presently the United States, with settlers on both coasts. And Thalia Cutler, orphaned professional stage magician, has always thought herself to be a Solitaire, the magic-less and largest group.

Everything changes when Talia "Trades" into a swan during a trick gone wrong, loses her job due to an underhanded non-compete clause and gains a monstrous stalker. Then, her lifelong stage manager is framed for murder and her life is thrown completely upside down. Soon Thalia is working to find new employment, master her magic and solve a mystery all while grappling with the truth of her identity, kept secret from her since birth.

As Thalia learns about herself and the world she should have lived in, detailed behind-the-scenes depictions of magic tricks give way to physical descriptions of the sensation of Trading and the trappings of elite society. Stevermer (The Alchemist; Sorcery and Cecelia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot) weaves together the mundane and the fantastical as Thalia reveals the truth behind the illusions she doesn't control and uses those she does to free herself and those she loves best. The narrative builds slowly, with Stevermer thoroughly setting the scene before piling on threats and encounters that build to a crescendo comprised of both kinds of magic.

Behind the beautiful but eerie cover lie illustrated chapter headings--charcoal renderings of different animals that give a nod to the dual nature of Traders and hint at the beauty and danger of this world. Readers who wish to look behind the curtain will be swept up in the drama of costumes, props and showmanship, while fantasy readers will appreciate the world-building. Stevermer humanizes her characters not only with family and professional ties, but also with a dash of romance and a budding friendship. The Glass Magician will satisfy those who like their stories slow, immersive and full of secrets and hidden depths. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Shelf Talker: Caroline Stevermer blends stage magic and fantasy magic in The Glass Magician, a fresh coming-of-age mystery set in an alternate version of 1905 New York City.


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