Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 2, 2020

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Quotation of the Day

'Good Busy'

"Good Busy. That’s what my goal is these days. The new reality is that our daily bookstore lives are completely different than what they were a month ago, not to mention our personal lives. Some of us are closed completely, some of us are operating curbside and delivery services while the store floor is closed to the public. Some of us are home working remotely, filling what orders we can. I think we've all become accustomed to change at this point--independent bookstores have always been good at reacting and adapting--but the Covid-19 virus has ramped up that cycle a millionfold.

"This rapid cycle doesn't change the basics: Independent bookstores are more important than ever, our communities need us now (even if only through social media), and they will really need us as we begin to emerge from isolation and fear. As we will need them.

"We've always been fighters, we've always been innovators, and this pandemic doesn't change that. Let's hit overdrive in a smart way: Let's use the information the ABA staff is compiling for us, let's all be 'good busy,' let's take care of the day-to-day logistics but also think about medium and long-range tasks each day. Yes, finances are a big whopping 'if' right now, but we must have faith there's a way out of this.

"You may want to give up now (and you're certainly allowed to), but this is an extraordinary time of forgiveness; use it to your advantage to make your store and yourself stronger and smarter and better connected. Read your daily ABA Covid-19 updates--these are action items created with an indie bookseller in mind. The information is changing all the time, and the ABA staff is working furiously to keep on top of the data and distill it down to what we need to know. 

"We have options, not all of them good, but many of them viable. Every day, look at that Covid-19 resource page on BookWeb and decide: What will help me today? Tomorrow? In two weeks? In two months? How can I make a baby step (or a big step) in a positive direction every day?

Think of these steps in terms of health, finance, well-being, community, and 'after.' That's what I'm doing. And I'm not alone because ABA has our back. My goal is to survive this with our connection to the community intact. How can I support my staff, either by keeping them paid or helping them find benefits because there is no work? Whereas a lot of independent businesses are out there with no support network, we have ABA and we have each other. Let's stay Good Busy and inch our way through this difficult time."

--Jamie Fiocco, president of the American Booksellers Association and owner of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., in a letter to members in Bookselling This Week

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White


International Update: U.K. #Booksellerschat, Norway's Hazmat Booksellers

"Booklovers will return from this crisis hungry for human connection, desperate for conversation, stimulation, inspiration. Booksellers will be there, arms open," Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, said during the Bookseller's inaugural weekly live Twitter conversation, #Booksellerschat, on Tuesday.

Meryl Halls

In an interview with the Bookseller's editor Philip Jones, Halls called out the "supply chain gaps" and the "need for indies to be [better] online," while acknowledging the "big risks" involved in making key decisions. She advised bookshops "to max out all the grants they can access. Check with local authorities for what's coming. Harangue landlords for rent relief. Take all the help you can get. Furlough your staff, take government support. And protect your staff/selves." She also urged the government to "realize that the job retention scheme will need work; freelancers and self-employed are vulnerable. Rent relief will need urgent attention."

She added: "I am unutterably proud of booksellers at the moment--they are weathering a historic battering and we will do all we can to keep the sector intact... book lovers will return from this crisis hungry for human connection, desperate for conversation, stimulation, inspiration. Booksellers will be there, arms open."

Halls also noted that the BA had initially called for bookshops to be an essential service, but decided not to push it: "We asked for this right at the start--they did it in Belgium--but soon realized that many booksellers were uncomfortable being open, felt a duty of care to staff etc.--so we didn't push. But I think it could be a key plank for the aftermath--bookshops are essential."


The Edinburgh International Book Festival, scheduled for August 15-31, has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Festival director Nick Barley wrote: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it has been reached in unison with Edinburgh's other August festivals. Whether it's our authors, audiences, supporters, staff and suppliers, or citizens and visitors to our wonderful city, the health of the people we exist for is of paramount importance.

"I am aware that the Book Festival is an important supporter of literary activity not only in Scotland but in all four corners of the earth. My heart goes out to everyone who will miss out this year.... We will be working hard in the coming months to ensure the Book Festival Charity survives this unprecedented time and is able to continue to provide a place where writers and readers can converse and connect."


In Canada, McNally Robinson Booksellers, which has locations in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, announced that due to new legislation, as of April 1 the company will no longer be able to offer shopping by appointment inside the bookstore. This will continue at least until April 14. McNally Robinson is still fulfilling phone and online orders, and will "deliver within Winnipeg, ship anywhere across the globe with Canada Post, and offer curbside pickup at Grant Park."


Sign on the door at Cappelens Forslag in Oslo.

Norway's hazmat booksellers: bookshop owners Pil Cappelen Smith and Anders Cappelen of Cappelens Forslag in Oslo had opted "to go delivery-only to keep their business afloat at the start of lockdown," the Guardian reported. On their final delivery run before shutting up shop, they chose to "deliver books wearing full hazmat suits and gas masks in order to raise local awareness of the seriousness of the situation."


While a small number of Dymocks stores in Australia have closed during the Covid-19 outbreak, most still remain open. Books+Publishing reported that Dymocks stores in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Geelong and Carindale had closed, but the company "confirmed the decision to continue to trade is up to the individual franchise owners."


Bookstores are among the retailers that "will gradually reopen in Huanggang, a neighboring city of Wuhan, once the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak," Xinhua reported, citing a notice issued by the city's prevention and control headquarters on Tuesday. Huanggang, the second-most populous city in central China's Hubei Province with 7.5 million people, discharged its last two Covid-19 patients on March 18 as confirmed cases were reduced to zero. It had reported the second-highest number of confirmed cases at one point of the outbreak, behind the provincial capital Wuhan.

Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Ci8 Cancelled; Hachette Shipping; IndieCommerce Sales


The American Booksellers Association's Children's Institute, scheduled for June 22-24 at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The next Children's Institute, Ci9, will be held June 16-18, 2021, at the same location.

All registered booksellers will be refunded their $139 registration fee, and booksellers are asked to cancel their hotel reservations for this year. Booksellers attending the 2021 Children's Institute will need to make new hotel reservations when the block opens next year. The hotel will offer a lower nightly hotel rate of $99 (plus tax), which includes the resort fee.

Booksellers who received a scholarship for this year's Children's Institute will have the right of first refusal to participate as a scholarship recipient next year. The ABA emphasized, though, that "scholarships are ultimately awarded to ABA member stores (not individual booksellers), and the attendee must have permission from the store owner(s) to use that scholarship next year."

The ABA added that it is "exploring the possibility of bringing us all together virtually this June" and is seeking ideas for how to do so. It's also going to offer additional children's-focused programming at the 16th annual Winter Institute, to be held February 7-10, 2021, in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Hachette Book Group has a newly configured operating model in its Lebanon, Ind., warehouse that incorporates social distancing, extensive cleaning and other safety measures while enabling it to ship more than 90% of demand to accounts that order directly from HBG.

HBG is partnering with Ingram to pick, pack and ship additional orders submitted to HBG that should allow it to fulfill more than 95% of demand. The orders picked by Ingram will still be billed at HBG's standard terms by HBG, so this should be largely unnoticeable to accounts ordering from HBG.

HBG added that it's been monitoring "the impacts to our accounts across the country, putting an operational hold on customers in areas where shelter in place and other restrictions have been mandated. Because accounts may have mitigating circumstances in their area in general and to their business specifically," it's launched a website for retailers to see how the company has coded their shipping status with HBG. Accounts are encouraged to visit the site, and can let the company know if their shipping status should be changed via e-mail.


Online sales at IndieCommerce stores have increased by more than 1,000% as bookstore customers move online to buy books. The ABA noted yesterday in Bookselling This Week that as a result, IndieCommerce is processing more than 10 times its normal number of customer support inquiries from bookstores. In response, "the IndieCommerce team has added additional staff and everyone is working longer hours. The IndieCommerce team is available for booksellers with IndieCommerce or IndieLite websites that need customer support assistance, though it may take longer than usual."

The IndieCommerce team has many tips for booksellers seeking assistance.

How Bookstores Are Coping: Constant Readjustments

Todd Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron's Books in Lititz, Pa., reported that Lancaster County is under a stay-at-home order rather than a shelter-in-place mandate, allowing him and co-owner Sam Droke-Dickinson to go to the store for basic supplies.

Until this week, Dickinson was doing curbside pickup and local deliveries. Both were very popular, and Dickinson noted that he'd driven through a lot of Lancaster County he'd never seen before. Despite how excited customers were about those options, however, the bookstore's sales have still suffered dramatically. Much of the store's business comes from customers browsing the shelves and discovering things they didn't know they wanted, and that's very hard to replicate without a physical storefront.

Dickinson said the store's staff two members offered to eliminate their hours and wait until Aaron's Books can reopen for browsing. He added that they're "being responsible and staying in with their families," and he and his co-owner are waiting to see what kind of support they might be eligible for under the federal relief bills.

Aaron's Books has started three "virtual" book clubs, where Dickinson posts thoughts and questions every few days. He's also posted a few fun videos about the store's ever-changing situation, and he's noticed that humorous Facebook posts seem to get the most traction. Otherwise he has yet to try any live online events.

On a personal note, Dickinson continued, keeping in touch with other booksellers via e-mail or telephone has been essential. While no one has any real answers yet, every hint about improvement helps, and it's reassuring to know that his bookseller friends are going through the same things. He described the ABA's regular Zoom calls as being valuable as both information exchanges and support groups.


In New Orleans, La., Tubby and Coo's Mid-City Book Shop has been closed to the public since March 20. Owner Candice Huber has suspended curbside pickup in an effort to encourage everyone to stay home, but is still doing local deliveries. Since closing for browsing, most of the store's sales have come from its page and online gift card purchases.

Huber reported that they lost three major events for March and April that would normally pay the rent. The good news, however, is that so far they've been able to maintain a normal level of non-event sales. On Monday Huber launched a fund-raising campaign asking customers to support the store through purchasing gift cards, and the response to that has been "tremendous." They said: "We just keep reminding people that we want to be here at the end of all this, and people have shown us they really want us here, too!"

Huber has yet to launch any virtual events, but they are in the works. In addition to moving book clubs, story times, author readings and board game walkthroughs online, a feature called "Tubby & Coo's Bookstream" is on its way, which will be a mix of pre-recorded and livestreamed content, and Huber plans to post it on the store's Facebook page and YouTube channel. A few virtual author events are also scheduled, and they've been able to convince the organizers of some canceled conferences to do virtual book fair events, where authors will read and do q&a sessions and Tubby & Coo's will still sell books.


"At this moment I am heartened by people helping one another with errands, chores, gifts of much needed paper products, and so much more," wrote Catherine Weller of Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, Utah, in her "A Word from Catherine" e-newsletter column earlier this week. "Likewise, the booksellers of Weller Book Works impress me with their dedication and generosity. Those unable to work have been accommodated by co-workers or have given their hours to someone more at ease in a public space. Another bookseller stepped away from his duties entirely so others not as financially well off could work his shifts. We started a Mutual Aid board so people with something to share could connect with a co-worker who needed something. They've all cleaned like we've never cleaned before and maintained safe distances from each other and customers.... All of that so we could maintain our bookstore community.

"You, our customers have ordered over the phone and online in large numbers. You've called and written with your support. Thank you!!! Your efforts have helped keep our doors open and our booksellers employed thus far. We are always grateful for each and every of your purchases; we're doubly so now.

"Now, to keep our bookstore community safe, we must close our doors to the public until the Covid-19 emergency has abated. Tony and I made the difficult decision to furlough our employees so there will be a store for them to come back to when this is all over. In the meantime, as long as we can, Tony and I will be in the store processing orders for shipments and curbside pick-up.... It's times such as these when we can become as small as our fears make us or as large as our hearts allow. Let's please continue to count on community...."


Georgia Court, owner of Bookstore1 in Sarasota, Fla., told Sarasota magazine that business had been increasing year over year and "we were on track to have the best season ever before all this happened."

As social-distancing recommendations increased in mid-March, Bookstore1 switched to curbside delivery. "We did that for about 10 days," she said. "It was working well, our customers seemed to like it. Business was like you'd find in an ordinary July. Then I got a little bit nervous about all these reports about people in our area who have traveled who may be wandering around downtown and may have the coronavirus without knowing it. I thought it would be smarter not to be interacting in that way that all."

On March 30, she notified her customers that the bricks-and-mortar store would temporarily close to the public completely, and books would be available online only. In her e-blast, she wrote: "If independent bookstores like ours are to survive in this difficult time we need your help. Online is just about the only option right now.... If you are not in Sarasota right now I ask--no, I beg--you to support your local independent bookstore."

Court will reevaluate toward the end of May whether to reopen in June: "This has been moving so fast, we've been making decisions on the fly, quite frankly. I've gotten loads of e-mails from customers saying thank you, we'll continue to support you, we appreciate what you're doing.... We'll get through this. It will be a few months. Of course, it's going to be a financial blow, but that's okay. We're going to be here when it's over."


The Humanities Washington blog created a list of bookstores "you can still buy from during the Covid crisis" and spoke with several booksellers, noting: "Bookstores connect us. Keep them alive, too."

"Information changes by the minute and emotions and anxieties are a roller coaster ride," said Mary Kay Sneeringer, owner of Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds. "We are taking it day by day and are so grateful for the love and support that we feel from our friends and customers."

Paul Hanson, co-owner of Village Books, in Bellingham and Lynden, noted that indie bookstores are "the businesses that bring authors and illustrators to schools, have storytimes for the kids, and help you make a selection when you 'don't know what you want, I just want something good.' Those are the things that bring us joy and they will continue to bring us joy for many years."

For Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, the number of people buying online isn't currently enough: "This is, as yet, not going to pay our bills," said Suzanne Selfors. "So we need to rethink our strategy if we are to get through another month or possibly two. This is a dream turned nightmare."

Kramerbooks Delivering Books Via Postmates

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C., has been using the food delivery app Postmates to deliver books. Postmates users within a 4.5-mile radius of Kramerbooks can look at the store's "Book Menu" on the app and place books in their cart. They pay through the app, and a Postmates driver picks up the book and delivers it, with a guaranteed time of less than an hour.

More titles are being added to the Book Menu daily, and if a customer wants a title that is not on the menu, they can call the store and ask if it is available. If it's in stock, they can then add a book by its price and write the title in the notes section. For example, if someone wanted to buy The Handmaid's Tale but it was not listed on the book menu, they would add a general $18 menu item to their cart and write The Handmaid's Tale in the notes.

Kramerbooks first tried using Postmates for books during the 2019 holiday season as a sort of pilot program. The store already had a cafe menu on Postmates, and the team thought it made sense to add books to their delivery offerings. The process, however, was not an easy one. When the team initially approached Postmates, it took some time for the delivery company to understand exactly what was being asked for and how they would implement it. Kramerbooks had to "make a real case with them" for adding books, and there was a lot of back and forth on commissions and credit card fees.

With every purchase, the Kramerbooks team adds a custom thank you note as well as a mystery galley, and they include a $25 gift card with every order over $100. Some items from the Afterwords Cafe menu are also available through the Kramerbooks menu, so someone could easily get a side of fries delivered with their copy of Where the Crawdads Sing. And while delivery is guaranteed in less than an hour, most customers receive  their deliveries in only 20-30 minutes. And so far, the response from Kramerbooks customers has "been incredible," with many sharing posts about their purchases on social media.

Obituary Note: Marvin Mondlin

Marvin Mondlin at the Strand

Marvin Mondlin, longtime book buyer at the Strand Book Store in New York City, died March 6. He was 92.

Mondlin began in the book trade in 1951 as a stock boy and worked his way up to estate book buyer for the Strand, founding the store's Rare Book Room alongside then-owner Fred Bass. He was co-author of Book Row: An Anecdotal and Pictorial History of the Antiquarian Book Trade, chronicling the history of Book Row. He was a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America.

He is remembered by his family and all those who knew him for his generosity and kindness, his infectious laugh, his love of good food, his passion for music and photography, his excitement about entomology, his commitment to social justice, and his insatiable appetite for knowledge and learning.


Image of the Day: Happy 20th, King's Books!

King's Books, Tacoma, Wash., marked its 20th anniversary yesterday. The store posted on Facebook, "Herbert is hard at work shipping all your books out. We've been gratified by everyone's orders and memberships these past weeks. Looking forward to many more years with you (and being open to the public)."

Kidlit Coronavirus-fighting Ideas of the Day

As virtual teaching continues and families shelter-in-place across the country, more and more publishers, authors, illustrators, libraries and individuals have put effort into creating online resources for children, teens, educators and parents. Last week and the week before we shared some of these resources; below are a few more.

Rakestraw read-aloud

Penguin Young Readers, Sweet Cherry Publishing, Nomad Press, Macmillan and Fox Chapel Publishing all have websites up that direct readers to free educational and entertainment materials. Palmer Public Library Youth Services in Palmer, Mass., has begun posting a series of videos with author/illustrator David Hyde Costello that invite child interaction; Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif., has posted a number of read-alouds on its Facebook page; and the PJ Library, which "sends free Jewish children's books to families across the world every month," is offering resources for quarantined families.

Authors, illustrators and voice actors are also continuing to step up and offer content: professional voice actors are leading story times on a newly created Instagram page called "voiceactorsread," in conjunction with Scholastic and the Library of Congress. Dav Pilkey is producing new content, posted Friday mornings at 8 a.m. ET, at Dav Pilkey at Home; Jason Reynolds posted a game to his Instagram to help spark creativity; and RJ Palacio is doing a weekday read-aloud of Wonder on Twitter. DC Comics has begun "DC Kids Camp" for families staying in, "an at-home activity program curated by DC middle grade authors and artists Meg Cabot, Agnes Garbowska, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Minh Lê, Michael Northrop, Ridley Pearson, Kirk Scroggs, and Gene Luen Yang, Among Others."

Reader can also go to the Children's Book Council webpage to find an updated list of publisher online resources. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Bookseller Moment: Books & Books

Posted on Facebook by Books & Books, with stores in South Florida and the Cayman Islands: "Our doors may be closed right now, but we are feeling more connected than ever to our community. Thank you for finding your way to us during this difficult time and for all the orders you've been placing and the notes you've been sending that are keeping us smiling and alive!--Mitchell Kaplan & all of us at Books & Books."

Media and Movies

Samuel L. Jackson on Jimmy Kimmel Live!: Stay the F**k at Home

On Tuesday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Samuel L. Jackson did his first public reading of a new poem for the Covid-19 era from Adam Mansbach, channeling his Go the F**k to Sleep, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés (Akashic Books). The segment was done as part of the show's ongoing fundraising efforts and benefits Feeding America, the organization selected by Jackson.

This Weekend on Book TV: Adam Hochschild

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, April 4
7:50 p.m. Kenneth T. Walsh, author of Presidential Leadership in Crisis: Defining Moments of the Modern Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Donald Trump (Routledge, $42.95, 9780367429492). (Re-airs Monday at 1:05 a.m.)

9 p.m. Adam Hochschild, author of Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328866745), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

10 p.m. Jonathan Karl, author of Front Row at the Trump Show (Dutton, $28, 9781524745622). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11:10 p.m. Book TV looks at books about the U.S. economy. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)

Sunday, April 5
12 p.m. Highlights from past episodes of Book TV's In Depth series, in which authors respond to calls live on-air.

8 p.m. Melvin I. Urofsky, author of The Affirmative Action Puzzle: A Living History from Reconstruction to Today (Pantheon, $35, 9781101870877), at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass.

Books & Authors

Awards: Astrid Lindgren, Duff Cooper, Republic of Consciousness Winners; Christian Book Finalists

The 5 million Swedish Kronor (about $497,340) 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award has gone to picture book artist Baek Heena. Organizers wrote: "Baek Heena is one of Korea's most recognized picture book artists. With a background in film animation, her unique visual style features handmade miniature figurines and environments painstakingly lighted and photographed. She has published 13 picture books that are popular throughout Asia, a number of which have been translated. One of her most successful books, Cloud Bread, was published in English in 2011."

The jury commented: "With exquisite feeling for materials, looks and gestures, Baek Heena's filmic picture books stage stories about solitude and solidarity. In her evocative miniature worlds, cloud bread and sorbet moons, animals, bath fairies and people converge. Her work is a doorway to the marvellous: sensuous, dizzying and sharp."


A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book
by John Barton has won the £5,000 (about $6,185) 2019 Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize, which celebrates "the best in nonfiction writing."


Fitzcarraldo Editions won the £10,000 (about $12,900) Republic of Consciousness Prize, which "celebrates the best fiction from publishers with fewer than five full-time employees," for Jean-Baptiste Del Amo's novel Animalia, translated from French by Frank Wynne, the Guardian reported, adding that the cash award will be shared among all the shortlisted publishers.

"This is no pastoral--it is a savage and brutal book, replete with sex and violence, which is also spellbinding, strange and immersive," said the judges, who praised Wynne's "masterful job" in translating Del Amo's "rich, lyrical and inventive style."

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Republic of Consciousness decided to share its prize pot equally "in what is an extremely difficult time for small businesses and freelancers," with the87press, And Other Stories, Galley Beggar Press and Dostoevsky Wannabe all to receive £2,000 (about $2,580) alongside Fitzcarraldo.

"We're sharing the prize money out equally between five small presses, but this year it was felt there could only be one winner," said founder Neil Griffiths. "There is much to say about Animalia, but given the current global situation, it is timely indeed to have a book that is preoccupied with our bodies as physical organisms. Covid-19 doesn't care about our minds, our rationality, our creativity. It has no interest in us as human beings: it is a virus that is transmitted from one animal to another. If the coronavirus levels us because we're all susceptible, Animalia reminds us why."


The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has named 65 finalists in 12 categories for the 2020 Christian Book Award program. See the full lists here.

The Christian Book Award winners in each category, along with the 2020 Christian Book of the Year, will be announced online May 5.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 7:

Redhead by the Side of the Road: A Novel by Anne Tyler (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525658412) follows a meticulous man whose routines are upended by new relationships.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.99, 9780358164081) follows teen superheroes who reunite to battle a previous foe.

A Hundred Suns: A Novel by Karin Tanabe (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250231475) revolves around Michelin rubber plantations in 1930s Indochina.

Hidden Salem by Kay Hooper (Berkley, $27, 9781984802897) is the 19th Special Crimes Unit supernatural mystery.

The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History's Most Notorious Serial Killers by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski, illus. by Tom Neely (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9781328566317) is a companion book to the Last Podcast on the Left.

Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein (Little, Brown Spark, $24, 9780316423328) gives organizing advice for work spaces.

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America by Sarah Kendzior (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250210715) chronicles the history of Trump since the 1980s.

Trees in Trouble: Wildfires, Infestations, and Climate Change by Daniel Mathews (Counterpoint, $26, 9781640091351) maps the impacts of climate change in the western United States.

You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood by Laura Prepon (Abrams Image, $24.99, 9781419742972) is the actress's guide to raising children.

West Coast Wild Babies by Deborah Hodge, illus. by Karen Reczuch (Groundwood Books, $19.95, 9781773062488) is the second installment in the West Coast Wild picture book series and features animals born in the wilderness of the Pacific west coast.

We Didn't Ask for This by Adi Alsaid (Inkyard Press, $18.99, 9781335146762) following how an international high school's annual lock-in gets hijacked by a group of students staging an eco-protest.

And Their Children After Them: A Novel by Nicolas Mathieu, translated by William Rodarmor (Other Press, $17.99, 9781892746771) follows French teenagers over the course of four summers in the 1990s.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Saint X: A Novel by Alexis Schaitkin (Celadon Books, $26.99, 9781250219596). "A family vacation to a Caribbean island goes terribly wrong and the tragedy casts a pall over the life of Claire, who is only seven years old when this mesmerizing novel begins. We follow Claire into adulthood and along her pursuit of truth and resolution, while her life becomes increasingly affected by her obsessive search for the answers to the mystery that occurred on Saint X. You will not be able to put down this startlingly accomplished novel, and it will sneak into your dreams! I envy anyone who has it to look forward to." --Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

Docile: A Novel by K.M. Szpara (Tor, $27.99, 9781250216151). "People will often refer to a book as one that's 'unlike anything they've ever read before,' but for maybe the first time in my reading life, I can honestly say that about K.M. Szpara's Docile. This erotic speculative science fiction novel takes place in a frighteningly plausible future where people become 'dociles'--essentially indentured slaves working off debt--and explores themes of consent, capitalism, and the abuse cycle. A visceral reading experience that will challenge, confront, titillate, and disgust, Docile feels like a book we will be talking about for decades." --Caleb Masters, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

When You Read This: A Novel by Mary Adkins (Harper Paperbacks, $16.99, 9780062834683). "Death is called the final act, but for our loved ones who survive us, the show inevitably goes on. In When You Read This, Mary Adkins gives equal stage time to Iris Massey, a woman recently diagnosed with terminal cancer who begins a blog about her experiences, and those she has left behind. Grief is a unifying theme in this novel, from Iris, who struggles to come to terms with her death, to her sister, Jade, who is left rudderless without her, and even Iris' boss, Smith, who is determined to fulfill Iris' last request of having her blog published as a book. Poignant and bittersweet, When You Read This is a well-rounded blend of romance, comedy, and drama." --Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, S.D.

For Ages 4 to 8
Snail Crossing by Corey R. Tabor (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062878007). "For fans of gentle, sweetly humorous picture books such as Truman and Escargot, Corey Tabor's Snail Crossing is a charming, clever adventure perfect for reading aloud, lap time, or any time! Snail wants his cabbage, but the journey won't be direct and it won't be quick... but then, most things deeply desired are rarely either of those! Delightfully illustrated and wonderfully told, Snail's story will make you laugh, cheer, and come away assured that kindness does, indeed, win the day." --Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 9 to 12
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316493802). "In Black Brother, Black Brother, Rhodes looks at colorism, prejudice in schooling systems against people of color, and whitewashing in history all in a brilliant sports narrative. After being falsely accused of disrupting class at his private school and then arrested for being angry that no one would listen to him, Donte is encouraged to get back at his bully in their own game: fencing. What follows is a book filled with brilliance, familial love, and friendship. I love this book and look forward to recommending it to everyone!" --Nathaniel Hattrick, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash.

For Teen Readers
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (Wednesday Books, $17.99, 9781250315892). "A super-sweet queer reimagining of Grease! Ollie and Will had a perfect just-for-the-summer fling at the lake. When Ollie's family unexpectedly decides to stay in North Carolina to help take care of his ill aunt, Ollie thinks maybe, just maybe, their summer fling can last. Now, Ollie is facing a senior year in a new city with a secret sort-of-boyfriend, a beloved aunt whose health is deteriorating, and an unsure future. A smart, charming rom-com." --Lillian Tschudi-Campbell, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit in by Phuc Tran (Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 320p., 9781250194718, April 21, 2020)

In the funny heartbreaker Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In, two seemingly incompatible art forms get Phuc Tran through adolescence--a grueling period for many but especially so if you're a young Vietnamese immigrant whose first name has "an uncanny and unfortunate consonance to the f-word."

In 1975, when Tran isn't yet two, a rescue effort brings him and his family from war-torn Saigon to the United States. A Lutheran church finds sponsors for the Tran family, who settles in Carlisle, Pa., a blue-collar Susquehanna Valley town. Tran's father drives a cement mixer and then takes a job at a tire factory; he was a lawyer in Vietnam. The sacrifice is worth it to get his family out of harm's way.

Growing up in Carlisle, Tran is still vulnerable, but to a different menace: as the only Asian kid in his class through eighth grade, he's the object of racist taunts. Tran seeks refuge in books, and Sigh, Gone's 11 chapters are named for the literary works in which he comes to recognize his own experiences. In the chapter "The Scarlet Letter," a classmate calls Tran a "gook" at recess ("G was my scarlet letter"). In "Crime and Punishment," he describes his parents' corporal disciplinary practices. The family will find out that these practices are considered too extreme in the United States when Tran's teacher, who learns that her student has been physically wounded, pays a home visit.

In the eighth grade, Tran discovers punk rock, which grants him social entrée with some of his school's other square pegs. A couple of years later, he stumbles upon what he determines will be "the most powerful cannon in my war for assimilation": Clifton Fadiman's The Lifetime Reading Plan, in which the author recommends books that he feels should be known by every educated American. Tran notes that Fadiman's list is "unapologetically American, classist, and white--and I loved it." But he finds himself puzzling at the seeming dissonance between his overlapping salvations: being the star in English class is a sign of fitting in; isn't being a punk all about fitting out?

The march of time rather than a head-of-steam-developing narrative gives Tran's coming-of-age story its forward momentum; Sigh, Gone concludes with his high school graduation. By this point, readers will have come to suspect that Tran had a third lifesaver, and it emerged from within: his sense of humor. Upon being chosen as one of his school's graduation speakers, he's equal parts vindicated and flummoxed: "I wanted to feel like a valued member of my school and my town even as I rejected my town and my school (punk rock, you're so confusing)." Phuc Tran, you're so amusing. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This wry and unsparing coming-of-age memoir recaps the tumultuous childhood and turbulent adolescence of a bookish Vietnamese immigrant raised in a blue-collar American town.

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