Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 30, 2020

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

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

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron


#SaveIndieBookstores Nears $1 Million Mark; Hoping for PPP Funds; Radical Publishers Alliance; IBD Stats

The #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, which is ending tonight, has so far raised a total of $956,414, Bookselling This Week reported yesterday.

#SaveIndieBookstores began on April 2 with a $500,000 donation from James Patterson. It is supported by the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), the American Booksellers Association and Reese Witherspoon's Book Club. All monies will be given to independent bookstores in mid-May. Through yesterday, #SaveIndieBookstores has raised $456,414 on top of Patterson's $500,000 donation.

Among many supporters were Rick and Becky Riordan, who announced a $100,000 matching grant campaign last week; a SIB-YA After Dark hour-long Ask Me Anything (AMA), which featured a range of YA authors; the regional booksellers associations, which made generous donations; and, last night, John Grisham and Stephen King, who appeared in conversation on King's YouTube channel to talk about their new books, Camino Winds and If It Bleeds, respectively. The event was free, but attendees were encouraged to donate to Binc.


In "Evanston's new blight: Brown-papered windows of shopkeepers like me, on life support," an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune, Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends and Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., writes of her disappointment at being one of the 94% of applicants for PPP loans who didn't receive one in the first round and the trauma of trying to remain in business during the Covid-19 pandemic. She also notes what she calls a "previous deadly virus [that] escaped from a Seattle laboratory 25 years ago, racing first through the bookselling world, weakening its financial mechanisms and threatening its survival. Known as, it spread across the country, replicating ferociously in tax-exempted warehouses, eating away the foundations of bricks-and-mortar retail on Main Streets, and in shopping malls everywhere in the U.S. and abroad."

Her fear: that between the Amazon "virus" and the Covid-19 virus, downtowns like hers will become a sea of permanently closed storefronts with windows blocked by brown paper.


An international group of left-wing publishers have formed the Radical Publishers Alliance to support each other during the world shutdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participating U.S. publishers include AK Press, PM Press, Verso Books, Haymarket Books, the New Press, Seven Stories Press, Beacon Press, the Feminist Press, O/R Books and the Evergreen Review/Foxrock Books.

The Alliance wrote: "With the entire book industry in jeopardy, the only response can be one of unity and solidarity. Independent radical publishers struggle for survival in the best of times and with the book industry facing huge challenges as a result of Covid-19 and the economic shutdown, a group of radical publishers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada have come together to share advice on publishing during the crisis and to encourage readers to support radical presses."

The presses are sharing online promotions and authors events and will work together on virtual panels and book launches, and maintain an online hub for readers to find "their next great radical read from a left publisher." For more information, see the Left Book Club partners page.

The Alliance's first initiative is #RadicalMay, an online book fair featuring panel discussions, talks and teach-ins with authors from 50 radical publishers from the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Spain, Catalonia, Basque Country, Italy, Germany, Argentina and Indonesia. The book fair, held in partnership with LITERAL, a radical festival of books and ideas that's held annually in Barcelona, Spain, begins, appropriately, May 1 and continues through the month.


Samantha Schoech, executive director of Independent Bookstore Day, shared some additional statistics from last Saturday's #virtualbookstoreparty. 

The IBD Twitter account, @BookstoreDay, saw a 681% increase in impressions and a 505% increase in mentions, and gained more than 200 new followers. The account's most popular tweet was a welcome to a Twitter party with Washington Nationals pitcher and indie bookstore fan Sean Doolittle held on April 22, which had more than 30,000 impressions. On Facebook, meanwhile, IBD saw its total reach increase by 233% and an increase in "likes" of 321%.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood

How Bookstores Are Coping: Weighing Reopening


With many businesses throughout Montana able to reopen this week, Fact & Fiction in Missoula, Mont., will remain closed to in-store browsing for now, store manager Mara Panich-Crouch reported. There is no timetable for reopening the sales floor, but the bookstore is once again offering curbside pick-up.

Even with social distancing regulations in place, Panich-Crouch and her team felt it was too soon to open the store to browsing. She added that her customers have been extremely supportive of the decision to keep the store closed, and she noted that her county health department's orders were in agreement with this. She said: "This is a time to think about the health and well-being of our community, not our bottom line."

When the store eventually does reopen for browsing, she continued, Fact & Fiction will follow social-distancing protocols as well as all suggested protocols from the CDC and local health authorities. The store will likely be able to allow only a limited number of customers in at the same time, and will request that people wear masks and will regularly sanitize all surfaces throughout the day.

Throughout the shelter-in-place order, meanwhile, Fact & Fiction was able to take orders over the phone and online. Said Panich-Crouch: "We've stayed busy and appreciate all the support our community has given us."


In Black Mountain, N.C., Sassafras on Sutton is currently closed to the public, but owner Susanne Blumer is at the store every day doing courtyard pickups and processing IndieCommerce orders. 

Earlier this year, Blumer and her team began the process of doubling the store's size by expanding to the floor above, where they planned to move all of the store's children's and middle-grade titles. Stairs were put in, and Blumer spent most of January and February buying lots of toys, puzzles, games, baby merchandise and art/STEM kits, with the plan to open on April 1. That, of course, hasn't happened, but Blumer is "working seven days a week" receiving, pricing and "making the new floor beautiful." Whenever the lockdown is lifted, the expansion will be ready to go.

Blumer reported that all of her staff members are furloughed until she can reopen her store for browsing. "They miss being here and I miss them," she said, "but we will come out of this stronger than ever before."

Blumer said she applied for the PPP and was approved "right when the first one ran out of money." Now that it's been replenished, she's waiting for more information. She also applied for the EIDI loan but hasn't heard anything about that.

Sassafras on Sutton has hosted some virtual events through the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, but the store hasn't run any virtual events of its own. Blumer explained that events were on the store's checklist for 2020, so those are still to come.

One silver lining amid all of this craziness has been seeing so many people in the community reach out to the store. And while Sassafras on Sutton has had an online store for about two years, it was hardly used until the shutdown began, and Blumer hopes her customers will remember it after the physical store reopens.

Looking ahead, Blumer said she'll have to get creative with new ways to do business. Her town is a tourist destination, and a lot of the store's sales come from people who are attending conferences, vacationing and going camping in the North Carolina mountains. Her expectation is that things "won't get right back to normal," and she's planning contingencies in case those sales don't materialize in the summer and fall.


Lane Jacobson, owner of Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Ore., reported that although his store isn't open for browsing, there is a register set up at the door so customers can make purchases while still following all safety guidelines. There are windows wrapping around almost the entire store, he added, and he and his team have been able to make use of them by flipping their shelves around and displaying staff picks, new releases and sidelines in the windows.

On the subject of his staff, Jacobson said they're faring well, all things considered, and he hasn't had to lay off anyone or reduce hours. "My staff is what gives the store its identity, so it's important to me that they're the top priority, both in safety and financial terms," he said. It also helps that Sisters is fairly rural, and it's stil safe to go on walks and get some sun and fresh air, "which has been good for all of our mental health."

Jacobson received money from the PPP two weeks ago, despite the application process being "an absolute clusterf--k." The bank he wanted to use wasn't accepting applications until they received official guidelines from the government, which didn't happen for a few days after applications opened. But once the store's application actually got in, the process was surprisingly quick. "It buys us some time," Jacobson noted, "but it's just a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things."

Jacobson said he and his staff haven't run any virtual events. His store isn't very events-driven to begin with, and their plates are "more than full" just keeping the business afloat. While it's not out of the question for the future, the team is currently focusing on "doing the few things we can do as well as possible."

While closed to the public, Jacobson and his team have taken the opportunity to do some deferred maintenance to the store that probably would have forced them to close temporarily anyway. It's also been encouraging to see the ways in which communities have rallied to support their bookstores, and the way the indie community has rallied together under the leadership of the ABA, which Jacobson called "stellar." He said he hopes this will help "accelerate some positive change in the industry that will benefit the longterm health of the indie channel." All that being said, however, he'd prefer the way things were just a few months ago.


Julie Mitchell of the Copperfield's Books store in Calistoga, Calif., shared her experiences "making sales in isolation" in a column for the Weekly Calistogan: "Twice a week now, since April 4, I unlock the door to the darkened bookstore, switch on the lights and the heat or the air conditioning depending on the day. When I open the back-office door, the two shop cats are there to greet me, Nica with her loud and demanding meow to be petted, Zora more slowly, stretching and making her way over, winding herself around my legs. They will soon be out in the now empty Copperfield's bookstore in Calistoga to wander amongst the bookshelves.

"Sometimes the phone starts ringing even before I've turned on the computer; other days it doesn't ring for an hour. I must work alone during the bookstore's twice-weekly three-hour windows where I sell books and other items over the phone. I can only take credit card orders, and if we don't have something in our store, I can't get it from another store as I used to be able, and I refer customers to the Copperfield's website. After I complete a transaction, the customer is supposed to tell me when they'll be by to pick up their purchase. Then I can leave the items on the sidewalk just outside the store at the designated time. If the two phone lines ring at once, I juggle; putting one person on hold while I look something up for the other. I am the only one allowed to make sales right now, and I can only use one phone and one register. Safety is key.

"Sometimes, though, the system doesn't work. People show up early or without calling; they tap on the front window or door, and I have to grab my mask and keys, unlock the door and ask them to back away so I can put their order down for them to pick up. Customers have tried to hand me their credit cards under the door. Others aren't sure what they want, and I bring several puzzles or kids' books up to the door, and the customers and I communicate through the glass. I hold up one thing after another until they make their selection. Then I go to the counter so they can call me, pay for the book over the phone, and then I go back to the door, mask on again, and motion them forward so I can complete the sale. It makes my day when people smile and wave when they come by. It feels good to help the community in this way, and customers have told me again and again that they consider books absolutely essential to their well-being. It is quiet in the bookstore, but the cats keep me company, and there are books to shelve and displays to redo. Still, we all can't wait till the day when the door can open to let the customers inside."

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

International Update: BA Urges Government Support

 The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland sent a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for a series of measures to support booksellers during the Covid-19 crisis. Signed by Laura McCormack, the BA's head of policy and public affairs, the letter drew the government's attention to the challenges currently facing booksellers, as well as their need for support when lockdown restrictions are eased.

Noting that many booksellers have seen turnover fall by more than 80% since lockdown began, the BA joined with the British Retail Consortium in calling for a government initiative allowing retail spaces to be furloughed, as seen in other European countries. "This would operate on a sliding basis, providing support to those hardest hit by drops in turnover, not just in terms of bookshops but extending to all areas of the sector, including warehouses and distribution centers, to ensure the industry's survival."

The BA also called for the government to ensure that the book trade supply chain remains operational throughout this crisis, including guidance and assistance from the government regarding access to health and safety advice and PPE. In addition, the BA requested that booksellers be given adequate notice by the government of their ability to re-open, allowing bookshops "to prepare, both in terms of stock and the safety measures that will need to be implemented as lockdown is eased."

When the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, "consumer confidence will take time to grow and footfall in bookshops may not return to normal levels for some time," the BA wrote, asking the government "to ensure that help under the Job Retention Scheme is not withdrawn prematurely, and to consider the possibility of 'part-furloughing' so that booksellers can have staff members return to work on reduced hours while demand increases."

Finally, the BA requested that detailed guidance on PPE and safety messages be provided to retailers to ensure they are kept safe, and that a public campaign launched by the government to ensure that consumers are aware of distancing measures being implemented by retailers.


Philippine bookshop chain Fully Booked has "opened up its virtual shelves... allowing old school readers (none of that Kindle stuff, thanks) to have a fresh round of physical books and miscellaneous printed reading materials shipped to them amid the enhanced community quarantine," Coconuts Manila reported.


Posted on Facebook by Australian bookseller Potts Point Bookshop, Sydney: "Hey friends! Just a little update on our current trading situation. The black board pretty much says it all, but to clarify we are OPEN 7 DAYS 10-4, whilst you CAN'T come in to browse we CAN bring books to the door for you to look at.

"We are still observing social distancing guidelines and so can only serve 1 customer at a time, we have markings on the floor to show you where to stand whilst queuing and ask that you help us by making your choices as quickly as possible. If you want some suggestions or recommendations we are happy to help out, you can enquire when you get here, phone ahead or visit our website where all our stock is listed. You can also use our website to reserve and pay for books and arrange delivery via auspost, or we are happy to hand deliver items if you are stuck at home and live in the 2011 neighborhood."


In China, live-streaming has "provided a lifeline to brick-and-mortar bookstores while most people are trapped indoors and finding ways to kill time," Xinhua reported.

"Few people visited bookstores during the coronavirus period, but we kept in touch with our readers on popular live-streaming platforms," said Gao Ming and Sun Xiaodi, who own a bookstore in Shenyang. Xinhua noted that "while retreating online to seek orders, the couple has seen immediate results with a spike in sales to offset the losses crippled by the epidemic."

In addition to live-streaming, Gao said they also came up with fun ideas to spice up the reading experience, including the "blind box of books."

Ashley Runyon Named Director of the University Press of Kentucky

Ashley Runyon

Ashley Runyon has been named director of the University Press of Kentucky. Most recently, she directed the trade list for Indiana University Press and Red Lightning Books. Before that she worked at the University Press of Kentucky as a marketing manager and then senior acquisitions editor while also coordinating fundraising and development. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Runyon got her start in publishing as a work-study student at the press, making this a double or triple homecoming. After graduation, she also worked in design, marketing and production at the Lexington Herald-Leader and Blood-Horse Publications.

Larry Holloway, vice-provost and provost chief of staff at the University of Kentucky, said, "Ashley Runyon brings new ideas and new energy to the University Press of Kentucky."

Runyon commented: "Kentucky and Appalachia are a part of my heritage and publishing the voices and issues of the region is not just a job, but a passion. I'm thrilled to lead the University Press of Kentucky into the future of publishing."

The appointment came as the press received funding from the state legislature, with significant support from the Thomas D. Clark Foundation, that will allow it continue to operate and fulfill its mission of "publishing books of high scholarly merit in a variety of fields for a largely academic audience and tell the stories about the rich history and culture of Kentucky." Two years ago, proposals had been made to eliminate state funding for the press.

The University Press of Kentucky is the mandated nonprofit scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, operated as an agency of the University of Kentucky and serving all state institutions of higher learning, plus five private colleges and Kentucky's two major historical societies. The press's consortium schools include Bellarmine University, Berea College, Centre College, Eastern Kentucky University, Georgetown College, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, Transylvania University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University.

The press's editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences and it has a national reputation in film and military studies.

Obituary Note: Rubem Fonseca

Rubem Fonseca, "one of Brazil's leading literary figures whose flinty, obscenity-laden crime stories were seen as dark metaphors for the rot in Brazilian society," died on April 15, the New York Times reported. He was 94. Fonseca wrote "terse short stories, novels and screenplays that titillated and shocked Brazilians with their seamy content."

"I wrote 30 books, all of them filled with obscenities," he said in one of his rare speeches. "We writers can't discriminate against words. It doesn't make sense for a writer to say, 'I can't say that,' unless you're writing children's books. Every word has to be used."

A former police official who used his experiences as source material, Fonseca published his first story collection, Os Prisoneiros (The Prisoners) in 1963. It "was notable for its shift in setting, from the rural countryside that Brazilian fiction had tended to favor to an urban milieu, reflecting the country's transformation from a largely agricultural economy to a heavily industrial one," the Times wrote.

His most popular novel, A Grande Art, was the inspiration for director Walter Salles's first feature film, The Knife (1991), and Fonseca's most critically acclaimed novel, Agosto, was made into a miniseries for Globo TV. Bufo & Spallanzani (1986) was a major bestseller in Brazil and was adapted into a 2001 movie, directed by Flavio Tambellini and starring some of Brazil's top novella stars.

His honors include the Camoes prize, sponsored by the governments of Brazil and Portugal; and the Brazilian Academy of Letters' Machado de Assis prize.

Though protective of his privacy, Fonseca did speak briefly on TV in 2013, when he celebrated his 50th year as a writer by opening a small library he had built for Rio de Janeiro transit workers, the Times noted. "Long live work," he told the gathered workers. "Long live reading!"


Image of the Day: Merry Grishmas!

Square Books, Oxford, Miss., posted: "Merry Grishmas! We are packing and sending out your SIGNED copies of [John Grisham's] Camino Winds as quickly and carefully as possible. We are also going to have a special Grisham only curbside pick-up day on Thursday.... In the meantime, your deliveries and shipments are headed to you. Thanks for being such wonderful customers."

Cool Idea of the Day: Takeout Booze, Books & Bread

North Light bookstore bar, Oakland, Calif., has "launched a special takeout menu of bottled cocktails; wine, beer, and spirits; fresh bread and pizza kits from beloved baker Peter Hughes; as well as a specially curated selection of books by Patti Smith, Samin Nosrat, and George Saunders. Our hope is to provide what so many people seem to want during their quarantine—intoxication, an easy dinner, and a good book to read. Ordering is through our website.

"Please know that we are taking safety precautions very seriously--only two staff members are allowed in our space for now, always wearing gloves and masks; everything is regularly cleaned and disinfected; and pickups will be arranged for zero contact. As much as we can't wait to welcome you back inside, no guests will puncture the space until we get clearance from health and government officials."

Chalkboard: Interabang Books

"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home." This was the message on the sidewalk chalkboard outside Interabang Books, Dallas, Tex., which posted on Facebook: "Safe practices don't allow customers beyond the threshold, but we are overjoyed at our OPEN DOOR, seen behind a favorite quotation in new form. (Thanks, Sarah.) Stop by and let us recommend new reading for you, family members, or friends. We can ring up purchases on the spot!"

IPG Adds Five Publishers

Independent Publishers Group has added five publishers to its general and Spanish-language distribution programs:

Connell Publishing, a series of 62 study guides on literature and history, effective November 1, 2019.

KiCam, an inspirational nonfiction publisher specializing in true stories of survival and recovery, which expanded distribution to include printed books, effective January 1, 2020.

Libros del Kultrum, an independent trade publisher of a range of music books, mostly in the forms of memoirs, biographies, diaries, lyrics and interviews. Effective June 1.

Editorial Fineo, which publishes manuals and focuses on democracy, art, history, theater, cinema, music and emotional education. Effective June 1.

Vegueta Ediciones, Barcelona, Spain, which publishes fiction, poetry and children's literature that promote tolerance and diversity. Effective August 1.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paula Faris on the View

The View: Paula Faris, author of Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling (Bethany House, $24.99, 9780764235436).

This Weekend on Book TV: Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Naomi Murakawa

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, May 2
1:30 p.m. Jung H. Pak, author of Becoming Kim Jong Un: A Former CIA Officer's Insights into North Korea's Enigmatic Young Dictator (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819727). (Re-airs Monday at 1:50 a.m.)

2:30 p.m. David G. Marwell, author of Mengele: Unmasking the "Angel of Death" (Norton, $30, 9780393609530). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

6 p.m. Richard Cordray, author of Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780197502990). (Re-airs Monday at 12:50 a.m.)

7 p.m. Neal Bascomb, author of Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler's Best (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328489876), at Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

7:55 p.m. Marie Arana, author of Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501104244), and Library of Congress curator John Hessler discuss the history of global pandemics. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:20 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. David Rohde, author of In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America's "Deep State" (Norton, $30, 9781324003540).

10:50 p.m. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, $28.95, 9780520242012), and Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America (Oxford University Press, $135, 9780199892785), discuss ending mass incarceration in the U.S. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:20 p.m.)

Sunday, May 3
12:30 a.m. H.R. McMaster, author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World (Harper, $35, 9780062899460) discusses the global political and economic impact of COVID-19. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:30 p.m.)

1:20 a.m. Thomas Piketty, author of Capital and Ideology (Belknap Press, $39.95, 9780674980822), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

2:30 a.m. Alex Kantrowitz, author of Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever (Portfolio, $27, 9780593083482).

12 p.m. Highlights from Book TV's past In-Depth q&a series, in which authors answer live questions from viewers. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Wolfson History Shortlist

The shortlist for the £40,000 (about $49,660) Wolfson History Prize 2020 is:

The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans by David Abulafia
A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths by John Barton
A Fistful of Shells: West Africa From the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby Green
Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire by Prashant Kidambi
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner

Chair of the judges and president of the British Academy David Cannadine said that the shortlist has "a decidedly global theme," consisting of books that "engross, challenge and delight--and which draw the readers into worlds as diverse as Indian cricket, Victorian London and the kingdoms of West Africa."

Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said, "We are living in a strange and unsettling moment, but the value of books and reading is perhaps emphasised as never before during lockdown--when many of us are looking for distraction, entertainment and education."

The winner will be announced on June 15.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 5:

The 20th Victim by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316420280) is the 20th Women's Murder Club mystery. (May 4.)

The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America's 16th President--And Why It Failed by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch (Flatiron Books, $29.99, 9781250317476) focuses on an attempt to assassinate Abraham Lincoln in 1861 on his way to Washington, D.C., for his first inauguration.

The Paladin: A Spy Novel by David Ignatius (Norton, $27.95, 9780393254174) is a technothriller starring a disgraced CIA agent.

The Resolutions: A Novel by Brady Hammes (Ballantine, $28, 9781984818034) features three accomplished but troubled siblings who reunite for the holidays at their parents' home--and then embark on a trip to West Africa in attempt to right their lives.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Knopf, $18.99, 9781524720926) is the second book in the Aurora Cycle series.

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062991317) returns to the world of the Newbery medal-winning The One and Only Ivan.

Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi (Holt, $15.99, 9781250231260) won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction.

The Second Chance Boutique: A Novel by Louisa Leaman (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, 9781728213682).

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:

Sin Eater: A Novel by Megan Campisi (Atria, $27, 9781982124106). "Oh my. Megan Campisi's Sin Eater completely took me by surprise. It is a wholly unique combination of fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. Filled with intriguing characters and vivid imagery, this inventive tale will immerse readers in the deceit and intrigue of the royal court. Campisi's narrator is what really sets this novel apart--the sin eater, a woman called to hear the sins of the dying and consume the foods that represent them. A dark, thrilling read!" --Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

The Roxy Letters: A Novel by Mary Pauline Lowry (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982121433). "Move over Bridget Jones, Roxy is here to stay! Thank goddess! I loved every sentence of The Roxy Letters; I found myself laughing out loud at some of her wacky antics. I also loved the quirky cast of characters that danced across the pages, and I think Roxy is the perfect antihero for the new millennium. I can't wait to see where Mary Pauline Lowry's career is headed!" --Kathleen Caldwell, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, Calif.

Lost and Wanted: A Novel by Nell Freudenberger (Vintage, $16.95, 9780804170963). "Helen is a successful physicist and a single mother, but when her best friend, Charlie, dies, she must confront the limitations of love and science and learn how far each force can be stretched and where they might overlap. As in her previous novel, The Newlyweds, Freudenberger writes with understated authority about grief, motherhood, and coming to terms with the decisions you make throughout your life. Everyone in Helen's orbit is touched by Charlie's death, and their grief is as mysterious as the scientific questions Helen grapples with in her work. This is a powerfully beautiful novel." --Tyler Goodson, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

For Ages 4 to 8
How to Be a Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald, illus. by Brigette Barrager (Bloomsbury, $17.99, 9781681197784). "CeCe wants to play pirates with the boys in the neighborhood, but they tell her that girls can't be pirates. CeCe is certain that her Grandpa knows about pirates because he has so many tattoos. As Grandpa reveals each arm tattoo to CeCe, he describes a characteristic that a pirate must have, helping CeCe realize she can be a pirate because she's brave, quick, independent, and fun. Full of love and girl power, this picture book reminds readers that they can be anything they want to be!" --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon (Margaret K. McElderry, $17.99, 9781534449671). "Yolanda's beloved grandmother is dying and social services is knocking on her door. Yolanda is determined to help her dying grandmother fulfill her last wish: a trip to the mysterious pecan tree on their property. Along the way, she discovers family stories and secrets she never knew and the importance of dealing with both life and death. Into the Tall, Tall Grass is a magical story with a charming cast of characters and emotional life lessons." --Jackie Jou, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, Calif.

For Teen Readers
Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky (Random House Graphic, $16.99, 9780593119990). "A heartwarming graphic novel that will appeal to fans of the adventure in Nimona and the characters in The Tea Dragon Society. Seeing strong, diverse characters at the forefront of a story is such a breath of fresh air in young adult fantasy graphic novels!" --Ashlee Null, Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Life of a Klansman

Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy by Edward Ball (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 hardcover, 416p., 9780374186326, August 4, 2020)

In 1998, Edward Ball won the National Book Award for Slaves in the Family, his unflinching history concerning slavery his father's ancestors perpetuated in South Carolina. He continues this verboten task of unraveling the tightly knotted legacy of white supremacy by studying his mother's ancestors in Louisiana: specifically, Polycarp Constant Lecorgne, "our klansman."

A fighter in the rebel army during the Civil War and in the white militias of Reconstruction, Constant is but a focal point in Ball's broader concern, bringing clarity to the corrosive ideologies of slavery and race science, whose fallout continues to revisit generation after generation of Americans. "I am trying to make this thing visible," he writes, "whiteness. It looks transparent and flimsy, maybe. Some would say it does not even exist. But I am trying to make it conspicuous, as visible and as plain as blackness." Spanning most of the 19th century, Life of a Klansman is a nuanced case study of one cog within a machine of terrorism and oppression.

Ball constructs this engrossing biography of his great-great-grandfather as many historians might, with public records, census data, military records and the like, but Constant was a poor carpenter, a petit blanc as the Creoles of the time said, feverishly aspiring to, but never achieving, the plantation life of the grands blancs.  Constant had no means nor cause to keep records of his movements and thoughts, so Ball relies on family tradition and circumstantial evidence to fill in the gaps.

In flexing his imagination, Ball creates a dynamic space for challenging reconciliation, breaking from the narrative periodically to reflect with empathy for family members acting in ways he abhors, yet never absolving them. In documenting the Mechanics Institute Riot in 1866--a violent white mob reacting to the move toward black voting rights and killing dozens--Ball writes, "Here is a way not to see these events: the marauders like Constant are immoral, abject, and bad people.... It is truer to say this. The marauders are our people, and they fight for us." Never does the author lose sight of his complicit inheritance of privilege at the expense of black lives.

Nor does he lose sight of the families fighting to be recognized as human. Ball tracks down descendants of Lucien Capla, a free Creole of color who was active in the Republican party at the time of the riot. He also finds a descendant of Louis Charles Roudenez, publisher of the New Orleans Tribune, the first black daily in the South. In them, he finds kindred spirits, historians illuminating the past in hope of a better future. Life of a Klansman removes the histrionic hoods and gazes purposefully into the frantic eyes of a homegrown terrorism. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: This expansive study of a 19th-century Klansman adds depth and clarity to the ways white supremacist ideology became cemented into American society once slavery was abolished.

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