Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 22, 2020


Shadow Mountain: Champion of the Titan Games, Volume 4 by Brandon Mull

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Set up your business at SPC Free Zone!

Scribner Book Company: Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie by Charlie Gilmour

Pubeasy vs. Pubnet: Which is Right for You?

Simon Pulse: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Berkley Books: Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

Flatiron Books: The Survivors by Jane Harper

Quotation of the Day

'The Magic of a Bookstore'

"People are asking themselves what they want to be when this is all over. What do we value? This community has said they want a bookstore to be here. And we've kept putting books in their hands. For you to select a book, you need to know something about yourself or the person you're buying it for. It's an important, thoughtful, personal decision. And it can't happen online in the way it happens in a bookstore. The magic of the bookstore is discovery."

--Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., in a Bloomberg article "Can Independent Bookstores Survive Covid-19?"

Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda


News

Bolton Book Ban Blocked but Judge Says Advance Is 'in Jeopardy'

On Saturday, federal district court judge Royce C. Lamberth rejected the Department of Justice's request for a temporary restraining order to block publication of former national security adviser John Bolton's new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Simon & Schuster), whose pub date is tomorrow.

According to the New York Times, the judge wrote, "With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe--many in newsrooms--the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo."

Judge Lamberth did, however, suggest that Bolton "may be in jeopardy of forfeiting his $2 million advance, as the Justice Department has separately requested--and that he could be prosecuted for allowing the book to be published before receiving final notice that a prepublication review to scrub out classified information was complete," the Times added.

Bolton's lawyer Charles J. Cooper welcomed the decision not to block the book's publication, but stated, "We respectfully take issue, however, with the court's preliminary conclusion at this early stage of the case that Ambassador Bolton did not comply fully with his contractual prepublication obligation to the government, and the case will now proceed to development of the full record on that issue. The full story of these events has yet to be told--but it will be."

As the Times recounted it, "the National Security Council's top official for prepublication review had told Mr. Bolton that she was satisfied with the edits he had made at her request.

"After her review was complete, the White House never sent a final approval letter to Mr. Bolton, who told Simon & Schuster to publish anyway. But the White House, without telling Mr. Bolton, opened a second review by a National Security Council official, Michael T. Ellis, who claimed last week to have found at least six examples of classified information in the manuscript.

"Mr. Ellis had not received training in prepublication review until after he analyzed Mr. Bolton's manuscript. [Charles J. Cooper] has accused the administration of politicizing the process as a pretext to prevent his client from revealing embarrassing facts about Mr. Trump."

On Saturday, S&S commented: "We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication. We are very pleased that the public will now have the opportunity to read Ambassador Bolton's account of his time as National Security Advisor."

Last week, the publisher said in part that the attempt to halt publication of The Room Where It Happened because of charges that it contains classified information "is nothing more than the latest in a long running series of efforts by the Administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the President. Ambassador Bolton has worked in full cooperation with the [National Security Council] in its pre-publication review to address its concerns."


Soho Press: This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear


PNBA Show to Go Virtual; Heartland Summer Begins Tomorrow

Like other regional booksellers associations, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has canceled the fall trade show scheduled for September 30-October 2 in Tacoma, Wash., it announced on Friday.

"That's the bad news," PNBA wrote. "The good news is that we are currently designing a virtual event centered around the original dates. We will produce education sessions, author events, and rep picks. Also in development is an online exhibitor space hosted in conjunction with the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association and the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. The virtual exhibit hall will cover the entire western U.S. and will be open for exploration for the duration of the three individual shows, late September to late October. We will keep you posted as things develop."

---

Heartland Summer, the virtual event hosted by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, begins tomorrow, with its first week of events. The Summer opens at 1-2 p.m. Central, when Javier Ramirez, owner of Madison Street Books in Chicago, Ill., and Shane Mullen, events coordinator for Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., discuss best practices for hosting virtual events. During the conversation, Larry Law, GLIBA executive director, will do a live Crowdcast event set-up. Topics to be discussed include Zoom vs. Crowdcast, capturing sales, formats, advertising, attendance demographics, live streaming to Facebook or YouTube, and working with publishers. Participants are encouraged to submit questions or topics they would like addressed during the session.

On Wednesday, June 24, 1-2 p.m. Central, reps Jason Wells from Magination Press, Emily Mannon from Holiday House, and Johanna Hynes from Ingram, PGW/Two Rivers will talk about upcoming titles, focusing on their frontlist and the books they are most excited about this coming season.

On Thursday, June 25, 7-8 p.m. Central, Heartland Summer hosts Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, authors of Punching the Air (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), a YA novel in verse about a teen who is wrongfully incarcerated.

Heartland Summer plans weekly events into September, and will end in October with "grand finale marquee celebrations."


California Bookstores: Opt-into CALIBA's Fall Email Marketing Campaign - Free to You!


Bertrams Closing Down

Bertrams, one of the two national book wholesalers in the U.K., has gone into administration and is laying off most employees and winding down operations, the Bookseller reported. The operations include Education Umbrella, the textbooks and digital education resources supplier, and Dawson Books, the library supplier.

In a statement issued Friday, Bertrams' administrator said in part, "Book wholesalers have suffered from falling demand in recent years due to changes in the distribution model for literature and the rising popularity of e-books. These factors, combined with the Covid-19-related closure of many public libraries and educational facilities, meant these businesses could no longer operate viably."

He added that sales have been agreed to in principle "with two unconnected parties for the tangible assets and unencumbered stock of Bertram Trading Limited and for the intangible assets of Education Umbrella Limited."

Other assets and facilities, including the Norwich warehouse, "extensive inventory of packaging and sorting machinery, power plant, compressors, racking systems, motorised conveyors, material handling equipment, office furniture and IT equipment," will be sold in an online auction July 1-6.

Founded in 1968 and owned since 2017 by private equity fund Aurelius, Bertrams had been struggling for some time. It closed because of the pandemic at the end of March. In April, Elliott Advisors, owner of Barnes & Noble and Waterstones, bought Wordery, Bertrams' online bookshop. In May, the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland bought Bertline, Bertrams' bookshop stock control, ordering and EPOS system.


Ace Books: The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec


How Bookstores Are Coping: 'More Deliberate Browsing'; A Store's First Window Display Ever

Roxanne Coady, owner of RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., reopened her store in early June. Masks are required for all staff and customers, and there are now "hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere." Coady and her team reorganized the store's fixtures so that there is ample room for socially distant browsing, and put "cute little logos" on the floor to show how far six feet is. There's now a definite flow laid out for the store and only one of the store's entrances is open.

Coady explained that according to state guidelines, they have to limit the number of customers in store at a time to no more than 50% capacity. But given that the store occupies two floors across two adjacent buildings, 50% capacity would probably be around 50-75 people, which would be far too much for her team to manage, so they've capped the number at 20 customers at a time. So far, Coady added, that's been manageable.

Since reopening, Coady and her booksellers have noticed that people aren't spending their time in the store the way they used to. Generally they are more deliberate, and rather than "standing in front of biography and waiting for serendipity to inform them," shoppers tend to already know what they want. This, and reducing inventory while the store was closed to browsing, has led to displaying many more titles face-out, which is "very suited" to how customers are shopping now.

Looking ahead, Coady and her team will adjust opening hours and make other changes based on what's going on in Connecticut, and she's been looking at things in roughly two-week chunks. She added that the store is now back to around 65%-75% of normal sales, with about half of her customers choosing to stick with curbside pick-up or web orders.

On the subject of the ongoing nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality, Coady said she's put up displays featuring antiracist titles and has issued a couple of "Dear Reader" store newsletters about it, highlighting titles Coady has read and found impactful out of the many reading lists that are circulating. 

Recently Coady interviewed James Foreman Jr., author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, who had very pragmatic suggestions about what individuals can do to give this movement sustained energy. She plans to send another Dear Reader soon featuring those suggestions and explaining what RJ Julia plans to do.

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In Evanston, Ill., Bookends & Beginnings began offering curbside pick-up around two weeks ago. While owner Nina Barrett could reopen for browsing if she wanted to, she's decided to remain closed to walk-in customers in order to minimize risk to her staff.

Barrett explained that as long as she feels she can serve her customers well enough through phone and online orders, she'd rather do a lower volume of business with a higher degree of safety. At the same time, she acknowledged that there is an increasing amont of pressure to reopen, as more and more customers are dining at restaurants, going to nail salons and shopping in other businesses.

Barrett said her staff has been amazing, and thanks to a strong GoFundMe campaign and a PPP loan, she hasn't had to furlough or lay off anyone. Her staff was able to redesign the store's website and newsletter at the start of the pandemic; come up with a virtual events program; and remain patient with customers while processing orders day after day. She added: "I am awed by their resilience and their embrace of the spirit of entrepreneurship that this crisis has required from us."

She reported that her community has generally been good about wearing masks, but there are some exceptions. She recalled that a few weeks ago she opened the front door while she and her team were doing some spring cleaning and two separate people walked right in without masks, assuming they could start browsing. She plans to have very clear guidelines in place once she does decide to reopen.

With her store located in an alley, Barrett has never been able to create any street-facing displays. In response to the protests that began in late May, Barrett has borrowed an empty storefront right around the corner from her store in order to create her store's first-ever window display. The display features antiracist fiction and nonfiction as well as signage explaining that she's committed to donating a percentage of profits from the sales of those titles to organizations fighting racism in Evanston.


Beach Lane Books: The Farmer and the Monkey by Marla Frazee


Two Carnegie Library Rare Book Thieves Get House Arrest, Probation

Wow. The two men convicted of stealing at least $8 million worth of rare books, parts of books and other artifacts over 20 years from the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pa., have been sentenced to several years of house arrest and probation, according to the New York Times.

Gregory Priore, archivist and manager of the William R. Oliver Special Collections Room at the library, which contains 30,000 rare books, maps and plates, was sentenced to three years of house arrest and 12 years of probation. He sold the books, maps and other items to rare book dealer John Schulman, owner of Caliban Book Shop in Pittsburgh, who was sentenced to four years of house arrest and 12 years of probation. He must also pay $55,000 in restitution.

Despite the severity of the crimes, the judge in the case did not send the men to prison because of "concerns about incarcerating nonviolent offenders during the coronavirus pandemic."

Patrick Dowd, board chair of the Carnegie Library, said the thefts "will forever raise doubts about the security of all future charitable donations, particularly to the Carnegie Library," the Times wrote.

In a letter to the court, he wrote, "The damage wrought by John Schulman and Greg Priore is unfathomable. The true depths of their betrayal of trust, their vandalism, destruction of public property and theft from our community is unquantifiable."


Obituary Note: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, whose novel The Shadow of the Wind "became one of the best-selling Spanish books of all time," died June 19, the New York Times reported. He was 55. Published in 2001, The Shadow of the Wind was translated into dozens of languages and has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote is the only Spanish novel that has sold more copies, according to his publisher, Planeta.

Ruiz Zafón's debut novel, The Prince of Mist (1993), was written for a teenage audience and won him the first of many literary awards. In an essay on his website, he observed: "I have written for young readers, for the movies, for so-called adults; but mostly for people who like to read and to plunge into a good story. I do not write for myself, but for other people. Real people. For you.... I became a writer, a teller of tales, because otherwise I would have died, or worse."

The Shadow of the Wind was the first title in a four-part project called "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books," which also included The Angel's Game (2008), The Prisoner of Heaven (2011) and The Labyrinth of Spirits (2017).

His literary agent, Antonia Kerrigan, said his long fight against colon cancer cut short his plans to write more novels, as well as film scripts. Recalling her first impressions of The Shadow of the Wind, she noted: "Carlos had been very successful with his young-adult books, and he had no real need to switch to an adult novel. But authors sometimes want to enlarge their vision of the world, and he clearly felt the time had come for him to do just that."

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain paid homage on Twitter to Ruiz Zafón, describing him as "one of the most read and admired Spanish authors worldwide," adding: "Thank you for letting us travel through your stories."

Calling him "one of the best contemporary novelists," Planeta quoted from his most famous work: "Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it." The Guardian also noted that his British publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, said it was "deeply saddened to hear of Carlos' passing."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Burnt Sugar
by Avni Doshi

Overlook Press: Burnt Sugar by Avni DoshiAntara relishes--if only a little--her mother's agony as the aging woman slips deeper into dementia. Tara was by many standards not a good mother to Antara. An impressive liar, she was reckless, wild and even ruthless. She spent her youth flitting from one ill-fated adventure to the next, joining an ashram before becoming a beggar. Still, Antara--now grown, married and working as an artist--must face the reality that her mother is fading, and with that comes either forgiveness, continued resentment or some cruel in-between. Says publisher Tracy Carns, "Avni's writing is so confident, and all the more impressive for being a debut. The book is sly, edgy, darkly witty, yet also empathetic toward a deeply flawed mother character and her not-perfect daughter." With gorgeous prose and an emotional thrum through every paragraph, it's easy to see why this story deserved a spot on the Booker Prize shortlist. --Lauren Puckett

(Overlook Press, $26 hardcover, 9781419752926, January 26, 2020)

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Notes

Image of the Day: Hilderbrand Kicks Off Live Book Tour

Elin Hilderbrand kicked off her in-person, four-stop book tour for her novel 28 Summers (Little, Brown) this weekend at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, Del., and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Both events had hundreds of respectful attendees, all socially distanced with myriad safety precautions in place, reported Susan Kehoe, managing partner at Browseabout Books.


Video: Juneteenth Storytime at Cultured Books

Lorielle J. Hollaway, owner of Cultured Books, a Black-owned, family-run children's bookstore in St. Petersburg, Fla., hosted virtual storytime for Juneteenth with her father--affectionately titled Head Storyteller in Charge--Eric H. Holloway, Sr. He sang "Lift Every Voice" by James Weldon Johnson and read The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

"We cannot wait to gather for our book event but until then we can stay connected and celebrate virtually," Hollaway noted.


Sidewalk Chalkboard Timeline: Hickory Stick Bookshop

"Who'd have thought that when we posted this picture and closed our doors in the middle of March that it would be 3 months before we could post a Welcome Back sign? But back we are... albeit with a few restrictions!" Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn., noted in sharing photos of its sidewalk chalkboard messages in mid-March and this past Friday.

"We are very excited to see your smiling MASKED faces back in the store but for those of you not wishing to venture out yet we are still offering website, phone, and email order and curbside pick up," Hickory Stick wrote. "Thank you again for all your support over the last 3 months--it has meant so much to all of us. See you soon!"



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ibram X. Kendi, John Bolton on Colbert's Late Show

Today:
Fresh Air: Julie Holland, author of Good Chemistry: The Science of Connection, from Soul to Psychedelics (Harper Wave, $27.99, 9780062862884).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Ibram X. Kendi, author of Antiracist Baby Board Book (Kokila, $8.99, 9780593110416).

Tomorrow:
The View: Loni Love, author of I Tried to Change So You Don't Have To: True Life Lessons (Hachette Go, $28, 9780306873720).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: John Bolton, author of The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781982148034).


TV: Dressed for War; His & Hers

Gaumont UK has optioned the biography Dressed for War: The Story of Audrey Withers, Vogue Editor Extraordinaire From the Blitz to the Swinging Sixties by historian Julie Summers, and "will work with Vogue on the adaptation," Deadline reported. Gaumont said its ambition is to create a "sweepingly cinematic" story about female intellect and how Withers helped pave the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

"Audrey fought against a patriarchal society designed to destroy her," said Gaumont UK CEO and executive producer Alison Jackson. "She not only survived but thrived and therefore it couldn't be more pertinent. It is hugely exciting that Julie has trusted us with this incredible biography, and we can't wait to bring the story to life."

---

Alice Feeney's latest novel His & Hers is "in the works for the small screen," Deadline reported.  Jessica Chastain's Freckle Films, Kristen Campo (The Killing, The L-Word) and Endeavor Content acquired the TV rights to the book. Chastain and Kelly Carmichael will executive produce for Freckle Films. Campo will also serve as executive producer.

"The last three years have been such a wonderful whirlwind and I'm still pinching myself," said Feeney. "I'm so thrilled to be working with Jessica Chastain, Kristen Campo, and the team at Endeavor Content. I love what they have planned for His & Hers, and I can't wait to see Anna Andrews and Jack Harper brought to life on screen."


Books & Authors

Awards: Trillium Winners

Téa Mutonji's Shut Up You're Pretty won the C$20,000 (about US$14,715) English-language Trillium Book Award, which is one of four prizes given to "recognize excellence, support marketing and foster increased public awareness of the quality and diversity of Ontario writers and writing."

Unmeaningable by Roxanna Bennett took the C$10,000 (US$7,355) prize in the poetry category. The winner of the C$20,000 French-language Prix Trillium was Paul Ruban for Crevaison en corbillard, and Véronique Sylvain's Premier quart won the Prix de poésie Trillium.

Ontario Creates chair Aaron Campbell commented: "This year the Trillium Book Award recognizes wonderful new voices in fiction and poetry in our province. Together these authors' works contribute a shared collective experience through their unique stories. These emerging literary talents will join an impressive list of great Ontario writers and their publishers who continue to build upon Ontario's internationally recognized literary legacy."


Top Library Recommended Titles for July

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

Favorite
Peace Talks by Jim Butcher (Ace, $28, 9780451464415). "Eagerly awaited by wizard Harry Dresden's legion of fans, this 16th book in the series is definitely worth the wait. Wonderful scenes feature magical illusions, and many familiar characters return for peace talks in Chicago. Not much is peaceful for Harry, as the wizards might kick him off the White Council, faerie Queen Mab wants him to do a couple of favors for vampire Lara, and Harry's half-brother is in prison after an assassination attempt. For series fans of The Hollows, The Iron Druid Chronicles, and The Nightside." --Brenda O'Brien, Woodridge Public Library, Woodridge, Ill.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99, 9781728206141). "Incredibly proper Oliver and drama-laden Luc are extreme opposites. Despite a case of annoyance at first sight, the two antagonists reluctantly agree that faking a relationship might help each of them out of a bind. Hall crafts a well-paced relationship that will have readers completely invested in a happy ever after. Perfect for fans of If I Never Met You and Red, White, and Royal Blue." --Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington Station, N.Y.

Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford (Grove Press, $26, 9780802149121). "A well-crafted story of identity, survival, and loyalty that explores the terrain of love and heartbreak, loss and displacement for four generations of Native American women across four decades. Finding their own sources of strength, these proud, fierce women magnetically draw the reader in. For readers who enjoy Louise Erdrich and Diane Glancy." --Janet Schneider, Peninsula Public Library, Lawrence, N.Y.

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Grand Central, $28, 9781538715918). "This sequel to The Royal We follows Nick and Bex through the first years of their marriage--a challenging time for anyone, let alone a royal couple whose wedding was disrupted by a sex scandal. As they settle into their new home, they uncover a secret that could change the future of Britain. Fans of Royal Wedding (Cabot) and Royals (Hawkins) will enjoy this funny and sensitive novel." --Heather Bistyga, Anderson County Library, Anderson, S.C.

The Lost and Found Bookshop: A Novel by Susan Wiggs (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062914095). "Personal tragedy turns Natalie's life upside down and leads her back to her childhood home, including her family's beloved homegrown bookstore. Natalie faces the decline of her grandfather's health, a building in need of repair, and a business in the red but also finds unexpected love. Give to readers who liked How to Find Love in a Bookshop and The Readers of Broken Wheel." --Joyce Livingston, Collinsville Community Library, Brogue, Pa.

Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062248572). "Explores the author's relationship with her mother, piecing together events that led up to her mother's murder at the hands of her stepfather. For fans of No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder and The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson." --Mary Bell, Wilbraham Public Library, Wilbraham, Mass.

One to Watch: A Novel by Kate Stayman-London (Dial Press, $17, 9780525510444). "In this hilarious and poignant rom-com debut, Bea Schumacher is a highly influential, body positive, heartbroken fashion blogger, who one day writes a blistering, viral, blog post about the lack of diversity on her favorite reality tv dating show, Main Squeeze. For readers who enjoyed Bridget Jones's Diary and Me Before You." --Ann-Marie Anderson, Tigard Public Library, Tigard, Ore.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Gallery/Saga Press, $26.99, 9781982136451). "An own voices horror novel that begins with four young Native American men on a hunting trip that will haunt each of them in unimaginable ways. For fans of Owl Goingback's Coyote Rage." --Sarah Fetzer, West Palm Beach City Library, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Survivor Song: A Novel by Paul Tremblay (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062679161). "The gripping story opens with a rampant strain of virus (in this case rabies), followed by quarantines, lockdowns, fear, and irrational behavior. It hits alarmingly close to home. For fans of Severance by Ling Ma and Contagion by Robin Cook." --Sandra Woodbury, Burlington Public Library, Burlington, Mass.

What You Wish For: A Novel by Katherine Center (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250219367). "Sam thought the dynamic Duncan Carpenter was out of her life forever, until he returns to the school at which she's a librarian and makes her think she might just get her happily ever after. For fans of JoJo Moyes and Rebecca Serle." --Tracy Babiasz, Chapel Hill Public Library, Chapel Hill, N.C.


Book Review

Review: Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics by Leonard Mlodinow (Pantheon, $25 hardcover, 240p., 9781524748685, September 8, 2020)

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was as much of an enigma as the questions he dedicated his career to studying. Diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s, Hawking continued to pursue groundbreaking physics research and translate much of it for a popular audience until his death at age 76 in 2018. Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking's colleague and co-author on two books (A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design), shares reflections on his long collaboration with Hawking in his 10th book for adults, Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics.

Mlodinow (Elastic; The Upright Thinkers) combines biographical facts and anecdotes about Hawking with his own first impressions and many later encounters. The majority of the book traces the two scientists' collaboration on The Grand Design, a process which required Mlodinow to spend blocks of time in Cambridge, England, where Hawking lived and worked. With this new window into Hawking's life, Mlodinow was able to observe not only his friend's intellectual activity, but the close, complicated relationships he sustained with his assistant Judith; his multiple caregivers; his second wife, Elaine Mason; and other friends. The two men also forged a connection that went beyond physics, as Mlodinow writes: "What began as an alliance of intellect grew into a connection of our humanity."

Fascinated and sometimes frustrated by Hawking's personality and the strategies he used to deal with his limitations, Mlodinow adapted to his work with Hawking by employing his keen observer's eye. In their discussions (sometimes arguments) about their research and writing, Mlodinow learned to interpret Hawking's nonverbal signals and glimpse the way his friend's mind worked. Their friendship was founded on intellectual sparring over concepts as complicated and abstract as black holes and the origins of the cosmos, but also came to include many informal dinners at Hawking's house, with food, wine and discussions over a range of subjects. As Mlodinow tells the story of their collaboration, he summarizes the scientific ideas they worked on (as well as much of Hawking's other research) in a clear, accessible way, while painting a nuanced portrait of Hawking himself. Readers who are interested in popular science, cosmology or Hawking's work will find much to ponder here, but Mlodinow's book is also a thoughtful, tender yet unsentimental story of an extraordinary friendship. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Leonard Mlodinow's keenly observed 10th book paints a nuanced portrait of his friendship with Stephen Hawking.


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