Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 3, 2020


Harper Perennial: The Paris Model by Alexandra Joel

Algonquin Young Readers: Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Andrews McMeel Publishing: How to Draw a Reindeer and Other Christmas Creatures with Simple Shapes in 5 Steps by Lulu Mayo

Houghton Mifflin: No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

News

Patterson Donates $500,000 to #SaveIndieBookstores Initiative

Bestselling novelist James Patterson is helping to launch #SaveIndieBookstores, a partnership with the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), by contributing $500,000 and urging others to contribute this month. Reese Witherspoon posted an Instagram video supporting Patterson's efforts.

"I'm concerned about the survival of independent bookstores, which are at the heart of main streets across the country," Patterson said. "I believe that books are essential. They make us kinder, more empathetic human beings. And they have the power to take us away--even momentarily--from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and scared."

Bookstores have from April 10-27 to apply for a grant on SaveIndieBookstores.com. All money donated to the campaign will go to bookstores. Funds are expected to be distributed by May 15.

"This support for independent bookstores is incredibly generous," said ABA CEO Allison Hill. "It is especially meaningful to have this support from people who recognize the cultural contributions of independent bookstores, and who appreciate the vital role that independent bookstores play in connecting readers to books, and in creating community."

Binc executive director Pam French commented: "We are honored and humbled to work with Mr. Patterson and the ABA to ensure the generosity of book people across the nation goes directly to bookstores that are fighting to survive. In these unprecedented times, bookstores are more vital to the well-being of their communities than ever. I extend my thanks and gratitude to every person who donates. Together we can help save our bookstores."

Organizers emphasized that the fund is focused on bookstores, with funds distributed in proportion to a store's sales with the goal of helping to replace lost sales. They also hope that stores combine these funds with other funds, whether from the government, their own fundraising campaigns, and other sources. (They add that "support from publishers, landlords, authors, their communities, and customers will be critical as well.")

At the same time, because of the unprecedented number of requests for assistance from individual booksellers, Binc is focused on supporting booksellers right now through its general fund. Organizers noted that "if booksellers are to have jobs on the other side of the crisis, we need to support bookstores as well. #SaveIndieBookstores will help the bookstores. The two efforts combined will help meet the overall need."


University of California Press: Smoke But No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes That Never Happened by Jessica S. Henry


Closure of Horizon Books' Flagship Store on 'Indefinite Hold'

The planned closing of Horizon Books in Traverse City, Mich., "has been put on indefinite hold as owners Amy Reynolds and Vic Herman team up with the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority and Rotary to find new tenants for the building who will help it continue as a vibrant 'third place' for downtown," the Ticker reported. In January, the owners had announced plans to close the flagship location while keeping their store in Cadillac.

DDA board members are holding a virtual meeting this morning to approve accepting a $21,000 grant from Rotary "to fund a study on potential activities and uses for the Horizon Books building," with the DDA adding $5,000 for the study, the Ticker wrote. 

"We believe this study will help bring stakeholders together to identify what works, what's needed, and how to make the Horizon Books building viable for its new owner and the community," DDA CEO Jean Derenzy wrote in a memo to board members. "The study will provide an assessment and blueprint for the development of the building that will inform a potential purchaser."

The timing of completing the study will be contingent on the novel coronavirus pandemic. Initial kickoff meetings can be held virtually, but IFF will eventually need to visit Horizon Books to complete its work.

Reynolds told the Ticker that when she announced the store's closing in January, the "community outpouring" that followed convinced the couple to put on the brakes and undertake a thorough search for the next owner. "We're holding out for that kind of community involvement and spirit for the building. This is important to us."

Horizon Books will remain operational during the tenant search, though physically closed temporarily due to the state's Stay Home Stay Safe order while processing online and phone transactions through the pandemic and will reopen once the order has been lifted.


GLOW: Houghton Mifflin: How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz


Indies Turn to Crowdfunding Campaigns

With so many independent bookstores around the country closed for browsing and forced to rely on web sales and shipping, booksellers are increasingly turning to crowdfunding to ask their customers and communities for support. Here's what various stores have been doing.

Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., launched a GoFundMe campaign earlier this week after being closed to the public since March 17. Owner Joan Grenier and her team are hoping to raise $60,000, and as of this morning had brought in more than $13,000. On the funding page, Grenier noted that May is usually the store's best sales month of the year, but with Mount Holyoke College closed, those sales will not come. And while she will be applying for various relief grants, she doubts they will be enough on their own.

Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe in Westerly, R.I., launched a GoFundMe campaign just yesterday. Philbrick and her team are looking to raise $100,000, and raised over $10,000 on the fundraiser's first day. On March 16 Philbrick furloughed more than 30 staff members, keeping only four to handle online orders, social media posts and bookkeeping. Funds raised will go to payroll, utilities, liabilities and rent.

Nicole Magistro at Bookworm of Edwards.

A week ago, The Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colo., launched a GoFundMe page. In the days since, store owner Nicole Magistro has managed to raise more than $62,000 out of a $75,000 goal. Magistro wrote that while the store was able to sell groceries and soup out of its cafe, it was not enough, and prior to the campaign's launch the store was operating on less than 10% of its normal sales. Since launching the campaign and appealing to customers, Magistro reported, online sales have jumped tremendously and she was able to schedule more than 100 staff hours this week.

Andover Bookstore, a 211-year-old indie in Andover, Mass., is looking to raise $125,000. Owner John Hugo explained that because of the pandemic, the store is running out of cash to pay rent, utilities, paryoll and liabilities. He wrote: "Funds given to this campaign will help us weather this storm and make sure we can ultimately reach our goal, which is to keep this business afloat and exist in Andover for another 200 years."

Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends & Beginnings in Evanston, Ill., has so far raised over $20,000 for a campaign she launched five days ago. In recognition of the fact that so many other indies are in a similar position, with hundreds of booksellers being laid off around the country, Barrett is in turn giving 10% of donations to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Nicola Orichuia at I Am Books.

I Am Books in Boston, Mass., was one of the first indies to voluntarily close its doors in the early days of the pandemic reaching the U.S. At the time, co-owner Nicola Orichuia had tenatively planned to reopen on March 27, and launched a campaign asking for $5,000. With a reopening date no longer in sight, the store has raised nearly $9,000 and set a new fundraising goal of $10,000.


Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Tune It Out by Jamie Summer


Bay Area Authors Launch #WeLoveBookstores Virtual Events

A group of Bay Area authors, independent booksellers and assorted book lovers have teamed up to create an online event series called #WeLoveBookstores, designed to benefit indies in the Bay Area.

The series will begin at noon Pacific time next Wednesday, April 8, with authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman doing an event benefiting Pegasus Books in Berkeley. The event will be held via Zoom, with pay-what-you-wish tickets available on Eventbrite. All proceeds from the event will go directly into a PayPal account belonging to Pegasus Books.

From there, new events will take place every Wednesday, and on Fridays, #WeLoveBookstores will hold virtual children's events as part of a series called "Parent Relief." For every event, all proceeds will go to the affiliated store, and several of the events will offer prizes donated by Libro.fm.

Events are booked through April, with more coming in May and June. Information is available at welovebookstores.org.


University Press of Kentucky: The Redshirt (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) by Corey Sobel


How Bookstores Are Coping: Resourcefulness, Outreach, Gratitude

Special delivery from Skylark.

"Over the last couple of weeks our business model has changed out of all recognition," Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo., posted on Facebook Wednesday. "Our shop used to be full of browsers, who loved to chat about books. Now, our doors are closed and we’re not even allowed to do curbside pick-up (but you can still grab a coffee at the coffee shop next door… go figure.) ANYWAY, we booksellers are resourceful types when we have to be, and so in addition to nearly giving our mailman Lowell a hernia every day, we also climb into our cars at the end of our shifts and deliver books ourselves! Sometimes with a dog to help with directions."

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Print and Page Booksellers, Crestline, Calif., "is supplying, shipping and delivering used books to children in the mountain communities--and they're doing it for free," the Mountain News reported. Co-owners Devina Horvath and Eric Vincent, who relocated from Corona, had a soft opening for their new and used bookstore on February 29, less than three weeks before Governor Newsom's "shelter-in-place" declaration. Although COVID-19 has put a damper on their daily operation, Print and Page is continuing its mission of promoting youth literacy.

"We were just dropping books at the door, knocking and kinda like skittering away. We were calling it ding-dong-ditch," said Horvath. "We realized that not everybody has the ability to keep their kids reading and learning. I really don't want anybody to be hindered, especially if they don't have the money to buy a book."

While Print and Page is currently paying shipping charges on all books associated with the program that allows each child one book, Horvath said she wants to increase the limit, but needs donations to do so. "Donations will help us fulfill specific requests. If a kid wants Percy Jackson #4 and we don't happen to have it used, if we get support from the community, then we can send them the book they want," she said. "Reading does more than keep you entertained. It expands vocabulary and promotes critical thinking and comprehension."

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Kira Wizner, owner of Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, N.Y., devoted the final part of her quarterly "Book Picks" segment this week on WAMC's Round Table program to talking about how her store is coping and to suggest ways listeners can help their independent bookstores.

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Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., which had to cancel its annual Teen Book Con festival this year because of Covid-19, has announced the creation of #TweetBookCon!! "The mission of Teen Book Con is to connect readers with authors. We can't meet in person this year, so we invite you to join us and a BUNCH of the authors from this year's lineup for an event on Twitter! Here's how it works. From 12:00-1:00 PM CDT on Saturday, April 4, tweet your questions for our awesome Teen Book Con authors using the #TweetBookCon hashtag. Enjoy the great conversations! Plus, Houston teens who join us will be entered to win books, galleys, & swag."

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From Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pa.: "Grateful. This sums up the past few weeks for us. Grateful that we are still able to operate our online store. Grateful for the community support from Oakmont and Verona. Grateful for the support from Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. Grateful for support from all over the country; from those who have been ordering from the store since 1990 and from our new friends who we hope to meet in person in the coming months.

"Let's all remember to be grateful for all of the wonderful people in our lives, far & wide. For all of the health care workers, our service women and men, our police women & men, all of the people who are delivering our food and working at the essential stores with doors open. Thank you, we are grateful!"


Bookseller Judges at the NBA

The National Book Foundation has named the 25 judges for the five categories of the 2020 National Book Awards. Among the sterling judges (five for each category) are several booksellers:

On the fiction panel: Keaton Patterson, lead buyer for Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

On the nonfiction panel: Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstores in Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md. She's also a founding member of the American Booksellers Association's Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and serves on the boards of Bookshop.org, An Open Book Foundation and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

On the translated literature panel: Brad Johnson, owner of East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, Calif. He has been a judge for the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Firestarter Award for Fiction and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Poetry.

On the young people's literature panel: Joan Trygg, general manager of Red Balloon Bookshop, Saint Paul, Minn., who has been a bookseller for 28 years. She is also a creative nonfiction writer.


Notes

BookBar Wins April Fools' Day

In a year when the April Fools' Day hijinks were essentially put on hold, BookBar in Denver, Colo., came through with a flourish by introducing its "pneumatic order fulfillment system"--patent pending, presumably. Here are the details:

"Businesses throughout the world have been required to change their models almost overnight due to Covid-19 and BookBar is no exception. We closed the store to the public initially, filling orders online and to-go only. Soon after, however, we sent our staff home on paid leave and switched to online and delivery only. Since then, we have been developing a way to get back into the store to serve our customers in a safe, socially distanced manner so we are breaking ground on a pneumatic order fulfillment system. Just pull into our alley and up to the self-service station for book recommendations which can be sent from the store direct to your car in a safe manner.

"We have manufacturers working on developing larger square, book-shaped 'tubes' to better accommodate our products. Alternatively, we are working with our publishing partners to create cylindrical books in order to better fit the tubes. (whichever comes first).

"But we can't forget the bar in BookBar. We are also developing wine glass shaped tubes (in either 6 or 9 ounces) for delivery direct to you. We encourage you to pull over, sip, read and return your pneumatic wine glass when you are finished. Pizzetta and crostini tube development is in the not too distant future as well....

"In lieu of author events, we will invite guest authors and poets to do readings through the speaker system as you place your order. Be sure to wave to your friendly BookBarista as you pull away. We miss all of your faces!"


Video: The King's English Bookshop

Salt Lake City's FOX13 series "We're Open, Utah" highlights local businesses that are "adapting to new practices and fewer in-person customers in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic." The latest segment featured the King's English Bookshop, which is now closed to the public but has found new ways to connect with customers.

 


Amy Stewart Launches Book Video Guide for Authors

Amy Stewart, bestselling author (the Kopp Sisters series) and co-owner of Eureka Books in Eureka, Calif., has created a series of YouTube videos designed to help authors create better book videos. The videos give advice on supplies and equipment, writing a script, editing, adding images and graphics and more. 

"Over the last few weeks, I've been going out of my mind like everybody else," Stewart explained. "I decided to use this time during the shutdown to finish a long-term project, which was to make sure I had a video for every one of my books."

As she put together the videos, she realized that other authors might like to do the same thing, especially with events, book tours and more moving online for the foreseeable future. Beyond that, she added, book videos have proven helpful in the past for meetings with her publishers, press kits and media pitches, marketing to bookstores and libraries, reaching readers and book clubs and promoting backlist titles.


Poetry Month: 'Thoughts in Time of Plague'

A.F. Moritz

The front page of Wednesday's Toronto Star featured "Thoughts in Time of Plague," a new poem by the city's poet laureate, Al Moritz. When he was asked by the newspaper to write about the Covid-19 crisis, "he knew he was going to write a poem, that the city wanted him to, but wasn't sure how to get at it," the Star noted.

"This crisis is something that afflicts everybody," he said. "We're all going through this and we all have our own individual thoughts and experiences.... Sometimes when you get an inspiration for a poem you're filled with your own bright idea. You think you have some revelation to the world.... You have to sort of share something as opposed to telling something, and it's not always easy to do that....

"You'll notice that the poem has the kind of dialogue back and forth between being on the road, a wanderer, and being at home, a householder, and how, in a way, strangely, they can almost be the same thing or two sides of the same coin. That's something that's always been very important to me.... Real progress takes places in the moment within each human being. Real progress is love."

From "Thoughts in Time of Plague":

Whether on the road with nowhere
to lay them down, or in the room with nowhere
else to take them… When we had to watch
the threatened breathing or leave it
to go to work. When we had to hear they had died

without us--was it different? No. No different.
Except that we saw something we always knew
in the dark. Failure was not
and success had never been
the end. The end was care.

Media and Movies

TV: Normal People

A trailer has been released for Normal People, the 12 episode-series based on Sally Rooney's novel that will be on Hulu beginning April 29, Deadline reported. The series, which will premier in the U.K. on April 26 on BBC Three via its digital service iPlayer and is made by Ireland's Element Pictures, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal.

Rooney, who adapted her book with writers Alice Birch and Mark O'Rowe, serves as executive producer with Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Emma Norton and Anna Ferguson for Element Pictures. Lenny Abrahamson will direct the first six episodes, with Hettie McDonald helming the final six. Abrahamson also will serve as an executive producer. Catherine Magee is the series producer.



Books & Authors

Awards: International Booker Shortlist; BTBA Longlists

The shortlist has been released for the 2020 International Booker Prize, which "celebrates the finest translated fiction from around the world." The contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 (about $64,510) prize split between them. Each shortlisted author and translator will receive £1,000 (about $1,290). The winning book will be named May 19. This year's shortlisted titles, with their original language and the author's country indicated, are:

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar (Farsi-Iran), translated by Anonymous
The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Spanish-Argentina), translated by Iona Macintyre & Fiona Mackintosh
Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (German-Germany), translated by Ross Benjamin
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Spanish-Mexico), translated by Sophie Hughes
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Japanese-Japan), translated by Stephen Snyder
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (Dutch-Netherlands), translated by Michele Hutchison

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Longlists in fiction and poetry categories have been selected for the 2020 Best Translated Book Awards, the Millions reported. The 35 books represent 20 different countries and feature authors writing in 18 languages. From now until the winners are announced, Three Percent "will host arguments for why each nominee deserves to win this year's award." The shortlists for both fiction and poetry will be announced by early May.


Reading with... Katy Simpson Smith

photo: Elise Smith

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Miss. She is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. She lives in New Orleans, and serves as the Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College. Her novel The Everlasting was just published by Harper.

On your nightstand now:

I finished Michael Zapata's riveting, smart, playful The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, but it's still on my nightstand because I'm plotting who to give it to next. I'm in the middle of Beth Ann Fennelly's Heating and Cooling, a collection of micro-memoirs; I'm not usually a laugh-out-louder, but I can't stop saying ha! every few sentences. Next up is John Keene's Counternarratives, which all the smart people keep recommending to me. This is also the Year in Which I Will Read Proust. If you see me on the road and I haven't started Swann's Way, please shame me.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown. It had a furry cover. I don't know why all books aren't furry.

Your top five authors:

You mean the authors I'd most want to spend time with? Eudora Welty, for her ridiculous good humor. Toni Morrison, to sit with wisdom and see how much I could absorb through touch. Mary Ruefle, to look through her prismatic eyes. Nikky Finney, for tips on how to dive so elegantly into history and trauma. And Valeria Luiselli, for lessons in marrying fiction and moral responsibility.

Book you've faked reading:

Last week someone mentioned having read Augustus by John Williams, and I nodded vigorously (which meant "Yes, yes, it's on my shelf! Has been on my shelf for years! I too find it an exciting concept!") but over the course of the conversation it became clear he thought I'd read it, and it seemed too late to stop everything and correct him. Now, I suppose, I should read it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Being Dead by Jim Crace. It begins with the murder of a couple and then moves in two directions: backward in time to explore the vagaries of their marriage, and forward, as a host of real and imagined creatures begin colonizing and decomposing the victims' bodies. Is it gross? Sure! Is it so good? I certainly think so.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, as designed by the genius Peter Mendelsund. I'm a huge fan of his covers, and when I saw this edition the only thing that prevented me from buying it was intimidation--Pessoa seemed too smart for me. I later traveled to Lisbon for a month and felt a sense of duty, and of course the Mendelsund version was nowhere to be found; I settled for a cover of a man appearing to be shot, which wasn't at all what I wanted, but it turns out Pessoa was extremely readable and delightfully weird, so thank you, Peter Mendelsund, for first arresting me.

Book you hid from your parents:

Maybe the 117th entry in the Boxcar Children series? (The first 19 books by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the last 10,000 by who knows.) That series was a drug to me, promising endless train-riding orphaned freedom. Why do children's fantasies so often begin with getting rid of one's family?

Book that changed your life:

Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes was the first book I read with a protagonist I didn't see as aspirational ("let me be good, like Dorothea Brooke") but as a mirror of myself: strong and strange, solitary and witchy. Lolly made me braver in my own writing. I strongly believe that "write what you know" should be "write what you want to know," but she taught me that "write who you want to be" should be "write who you are."

Favorite line from a book:

At my MFA program, we had to choose a graduation quote that, I suppose, summed up our stance toward life. I still stand by mine, from Herman Melville's bonkers Moby-Dick: "Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness."

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

I just read Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks, the great poet's only novel, and I'm already hungry for it again. It's the perfect bridge between poetry and prose: episodic, floral, condensed, furious.

Five books you'll never part with:

Thank heavens most books can be found again in a library, should my house ever slip underwater. So the ones I'd rescue are all gifts from loved ones: an 1899 edition of John Keats's Complete Poetical Works. An 1873 copy of George Eliot's Middlemarch. A signed first edition of Eudora Welty's A Pageant of Birds. An Italian translation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice--Orgoglio e prevenzione--with that classic opening: "È verità universalmente riconosciuta...." And a signed copy of Matthew Clark Smith's picture-book biography Small Wonders, because he signs it "with love," and he is my brother.


Book Review

Review: The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy

The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy by Chris Murphy (Random House, $28 hardcover, 384p., 9781984854575, April 21, 2020)

Chris Murphy is able to identify precisely the date his life changed forever. It was December 14, 2012, the day 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults were slaughtered by gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a town in the congressional district he served, and was soon to represent as Connecticut's junior senator.

The Violence Inside Us: A Brief History of an Ongoing American Tragedy is the passionate and often deeply moving story of Murphy's personal transformation. It is a well-informed, thoughtful exploration of the causes and potential solutions for the United States' epidemic of gun violence--one that claims around 90 lives every day--even as it addresses that vexing problem in a broader context.

Buttressed by material from the sources cataloged in his book's 30 pages of notes, Murphy engages in a wide-ranging survey of the roots of American violence. Yet there is no single explanation for the impulse to reach for all too readily available handguns to resolve conflict, or put an end to personal suffering through suicide. Murphy thus recognizes the imperative to address multiple complex problems like poverty, racism, the decline of what he calls the "blue collar aristocracy," and even the penchant for relying on "brute force and the proliferation of dangerous weapons to advance our national security goals" in any proposed remedies.

And while The Violence Inside Us is not exclusively, or even primarily, about the current debate over gun control legislation in the "most homicidal country in the high-income world," Murphy devotes ample attention to the political battles that have consumed him since 2012. In a confession that may surprise some, he concedes that the Supreme Court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller--recognizing an individual right to possess firearms under the Second Amendment--is "basically correct." But he's quick to point out that even the majority in that case acknowledged that the right is not unlimited. Murphy has become a tireless advocate for the two principal measures--universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons--he believes will have a positive effect in curbing the traffic in illegal firearms and at least limiting the ability of killers like the one at Sandy Hook to summon massive lethal power in seconds.

Even as the political clout of the National Rifle Association appears to be waning, and an overwhelming consensus builds for gun control measures like the ones Murphy promotes, he is without illusions about the effort that will be required to enact even these modest reforms. Whether one is already engaged in that fight or seeking information and inspiration to do so, The Violence Inside Us is essential reading. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Connecticut senator Chris Murphy surveys the root causes of American violence and proposes solutions to reduce the country's gun deaths.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Marking Birthdays in the Age of Social Distancing

Surprise! It's your birthday in the age of social distancing (aka physical distancing). Later this month I turn 70, an oddly significant number in the Covid-19 era. Statistically, I'll enter a more vulnerable age group. Numbers like this are an illusion, I get it, but still....

Maybe that's why I've been thinking about birthdays. One of our ongoing Shelf Awareness features highlights indie bookstores for achieving certain landmark anniversaries. We usually begin with: "Congratulations to (name of store), which is celebrating its (#) anniversary...."

Celebration, however, is not a word in common usage right now, though congratulations should still be. Yesterday, we noted that King's Books, Tacoma, Wash., was marking its 20th anniversary. Marking is a good word for the time being.

So, congratulations to Dudley's Bookshop Café, Bend, Ore, which is marking its fifth year anniversary since being purchased by Tom Beans, who wrote: "Sitting here in a quiet, shuttered shop, listening to some live 70s Allman Brothers, fielding the occasional phone call, trying to track e-mails and messages from all points of social media, hoping they might be an order for a book or two isn't exactly how I saw this day playing out.

"Visions of a big sale, an evening of live music and, most importantly, a store packed full of wonderful folks from all reaches of our little community quickly fell by the wayside 2.5 weeks ago when we took the preemptive action to close the shop in the interest of public safety. The Governor's order a week later reinforced my thoughts that this was the right thing to do and as this crisis continues to escalate, I'll stand by that decision....

"Many of you have been so incredibly loyal over the last five years that I now feel like it's my responsibility to return that loyalty. I'm committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that Dudley's is here for you whenever our lives return to some semblance of normalcy. Keep calling and e-mailing us your requests. Keep shopping online with us. If you can do that, I'll do my part and, together, we'll keep this ship afloat till we can reconvene in the downtown space we all love and cherish. All the best and stay safe."

And congratulations to the Book Loft, Solvang, Calif., which is marking 50 years in business. Just two weeks ago, the Santa Ynez Valley Star reported that the bookshop was "rolling out a year-long stream of events and specials," with owner Kathy Mullins saying that running the store "has given me over the past 50 years a wonderful sense of community. Interacting with the public and sharing my love of books in this beautiful Valley has been and continues to be a blessing."

A week later, the Book Loft's Facebook post reflected how quickly things changed: "Thank you for your patience while we have been determining the best way to work with the community to keep you supplied with books, puzzles, and games. Great news! We have come up with a plan that will allow curbside pick-up, mail order, and local delivery.... For everyone's safety, we cannot allow anyone inside the store for browsing at this time. But we are confident that we can continue to provide wonderful items to you through the above options. As always, keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram for some great book and activity ideas. We wish you well."

At Shelf Awareness, we usually acknowledge bookstore anniversaries at five-year intervals, but I'm breaking that rule to share excerpts from the latest Bookstories letter by Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., which marked its 46th anniversary April 1.

"In spite of the gorgeous spring weather and my yard overflowing with an abundance of color, my world--like yours, I suspect--is feeling discombobulated and weird," she wrote, noting: "Who would have imagined that 46 years later, we'd have to temporarily close the doors because of a pandemic? Your response to our temporary closure has been phenomenal. We are so grateful for your support, which is enabling us to keep our staff on the payroll filling your online orders and sending out our Booklover Care Packages....

"I feel it's more important than ever that we all stay connected--as a community and as readers.... I speak for my employees, my partners, my leadership team, and my small business colleagues around the country when I suggest that, while we're all staying home practicing social distancing, we make every effort to shop local websites rather than instantly clicking on Amazon. The locally owned businesses in our community need our support if they are to keep their employees on the payroll and reopen their stores and restaurants again for you when the coast is clear."

It seems inconceivable that just over two months ago, Gayle and I were having a wonderful conversation at a Melville House dinner in Baltimore during Wi15. We talked about old times, great reads present and upcoming, the future of the book trade and much more. We did not talk about this.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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