Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 2, 2020

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

Editors' Note

Happy Fourth of July!

Because of Independence Day, we are skipping tomorrow's issue and will see you again on Monday, July 6. Enjoy the holiday!

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Quotation of the Day

'We're Living Out the Craziest Collective Story of Our Lives'

"At one point it occurred to me that we could pre-record a bunch of story times. But after that very first run of Tunes and Tales on Instagram Live, when I could see 50 families tuning in with lots of enthusiastic commenting, I knew that we'd have to scrap the idea of pre-recording.

"The magic is in knowing that we're all sharing a moment together right now from one living room to another. We're living out the craziest collective story of our lives and coming together for a few minutes each week to find comfort in books, songs and our favorite faces."

--Adah Walker Fitzgerald, co-owner of Main Street Books, Davidson, N.C. (via the Davidson Journal)


Temporary Restraining Order Against S&S Reversed

Yesterday, a New York appellate court judge reversed Monday's temporary restraining order blocking Simon & Schuster from publishing Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by President Trump's niece Mary L. Trump.

S&S had argued that the restraining order was a violation of its First Amendment right to publish and that many thousands of copies of the book, which will officially be released July 28, have been distributed to wholesalers and booksellers. The judge noted that unlike Mary L. Trump, S&S was not a party to the confidentiality agreement at the center of the suit and had not "agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights."

At the same time, the judge let stand the question of whether by publishing the book about her uncle and family, Mary L. Trump violated the settlement reached by many family members after a 2001 lawsuit over the will of Fred Trump, the president's father and Mary L. Trump's grandfather, who died in 1999 and left only a small cash bequest to Mary L. Trump and her brother, Fred Trump III. A hearing July 10 is intended to decide whether the book violates the confidentiality agreement.

In response to yesterday's decision, Simon & Schuster said, "We are gratified with the Appellate Court's decision to overturn the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the lower court against Simon & Schuster. We support Mary L. Trump's right to tell her story in Too Much and Never Enough, a work of great interest and importance to the national discourse that fully deserves to be published for the benefit of the American public. As all know, there are well-established precedents against prior restraint and pre-publication injunctions, and we remain confident that the preliminary injunction will be denied."

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Mary L. Trump, told the New York Times his client will appeal the decision concerning her: "It is very good news that the prior restraint against Simon & Schuster has been vacated, and we look forward to filing our brief tomorrow in the trial court explaining why the same result is required as to Ms. Trump, based on the First Amendment and basic contract law."

In his order vacating the temporary restraining order against S&S, Judge Alan D. Scheinkman wrote that Robert S. Trump, President Trump's brother, "has presented evidence that Ms. Trump, in exchange for valuable consideration, voluntarily entered into a settlement agreement to resolve contested litigation. In that settlement agreement, she agreed not to publish a book concerning the litigation or her relationship with the adverse parties, the plaintiff, Donald J. Trump, and [his sister] Maryanne Trump Barry, without their consent. The settlement agreement reflects that Ms. Trump was represented by counsel and, indeed, her counsel themselves also agreed to confidentiality.... While the contents of the proposed book are unknown, from the title and from the statements attributed to Ms. Trump it appears that the content of the book touches upon subjects that may be within the reach of the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement."

Still, the judge left open the question of whether the 2001 confidentiality agreement still applies to Mary L. Trump, writing, "The confidentiality agreement here does not have any temporal or geographic limitation. The passage of time and changes in circumstances may have rendered at least some of the restrained information less significant than it was at the time and, conversely, whatever legitimate public interest there may have been in the family disputes of a real estate developer and his relatives may be considerably heightened by that real estate developer now being President of the United States and a current candidate for re-election. Drawing the appropriate balance may well require in camera review of the book sought to be enjoined. Stated differently, the legitimate interest in preserving family secrets may be one thing for the family of a real estate developer, no matter how successful; it is another matter for the family of the President of the United States."


Bolton's book for sale at Joseph-Beth Booksellers.

S&S has done well with another recent book critical of the president that he tried to block. As of Tuesday, the company said, it had sold more than 780,000 copies of John Bolton's The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir in its first week on sale. The sales include pre-orders, sales of print books and e-books, and audiobooks in compact disc and digital formats, as well as orders from consumers that are as yet unfulfilled because of high demand. The book is in its 11th printing, which will bring the number of hardcover copies in print to one million.

S&S CEO and publisher Jonathan Karp said that The Room Where It Happened "has been the subject of intense interest since its announcement, and it is selling in extraordinary numbers across all editions and across the entire country. We expect it to be at the top of the bestseller lists in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, as well as in the United States. The public clearly is fascinated in what Bolton has to say in this election year, and we expect the curiosity to continue."

The Wise Old Owl Bookstore Opens in Streator, Ill.

The Wise Old Owl bookstore opened yesterday in downtown Streator, Ill. The Times reported that owner Jerrilyn Zavada, who was originally inspired by the 1998 romantic comedy You've Got Mail, never lost her vision for owning a bookshop.

"It's been my dream. I always thought that would be really cool," said Zavada. A contributing writer for the Spirit Matters column in the Times and NewsTribune, and a former Times reporter, she "wants the store to be an extension of her column, which focuses on spirituality. The store features a selection of spiritual, religious, self-help and grief books, among many other topics," the Times noted.

The 12-by-18-foot-space features a variety of new and used titles, including a developing children's section. The decor also highlights the shop's owl namesake, with owl paintings, photographs and statues throughout the store. "Owls have always been fascinating to me," she said.

Zavada credited her family with being instrumental in the project. Her brother Jeff owns the building; nephew Jordan and his girlfriend painted the mural on the north wall; brother Joe and nephew Jacob collaborated with her to offer Schuil gourmet coffee at the shop; and niece Lexi is her assistant manager.

Thus far, local feedback has been positive. "Everyone has been excited," she said. "I can't say enough about how supportive the community has been."

Booksmith Musicsmith in Orleans, Mass., to Close

Matt and Cherry Reid of Booksmith Musicsmith in Orleans, Mass., announced they will be closing the store they have owned for more than 25 years later this summer. In a Facebook post explaining the decision, Matt Reid wrote that since the lockdown in March due to the Covid-19 crisis, the couple had been dealing with serious health issues.

"If we said that being small business owners wasn't stressful enough without the health issues, we would be lying," he noted. "Our business has been steadily declining for years, mostly because of the Internet. We were offered a second chance by Orleans Marketplace and Todd Thayer and just over five years ago we took that chance, but you can't stop Amazon. Enter Covid-19. Suddenly it's recommended that you go out as little as possible so where do you shop? The stress of trying to make ends meet and pay our monthly bills has taken a toll on our emotional well-being and our health....

"The writing has been on the wall for some time now. Even if we were able to dig our way out of the debt we have incurred, winter will come, along with the possibility of another surge of Covid, lack of tourists for the unseen future among other things. Worrying all the time makes it hard for us to enjoy going to work. We have become afraid of what the day may bring. We just know we can't continue like this. The level of stress has become too much to bear. We don't know what's next for us. We have until August 31st to wrap things up."

The Reids thanked "all of our employees along the way but especially Justin for sticking with us to the end, and to our current landlord for his amazing and kind support. In closing we would like to thank the community of Orleans and the surrounding towns for supporting us over the last 25 years, and the years before we bought it, going back to the late '70s. We enjoyed being part of this special place. We loved being part of your lives. God bless you, stay safe and be kind to each other. We will never forget you all."

How Bookstores Are Coping: Caution in NYC, Masking Up on the Outer Banks

Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria in Washington Heights in New York City has not officially reopened for curbside pick-up, but founder Veronica Liu explained that they have been doing it on an informal basis if staff are at the store and they already have the title in stock. Otherwise, customers are still being encouraged to order online, and Liu noted that although Word Up's in-store inventory is roughly 75% used, most of their sales right now are for new titles, particularly the same 10 or so antiracist titles.

"I have about 100 copies of White Fragility in my foyer," remarked Liu. "And another 100 of How to Be an Antiracist."

Reopening for browsing, Liu continued, is still likely a long way off. While coronavirus case numbers are generally trending down in New York, cases are rising at record levels throughout the country, and the community her store serves is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. There are high rates of overcrowding in apartments in the neighborhood, and it is hard to know what the prevalence of health care coverage among residents is. "The existing inequities in the health system have been so exacerbated by the coronavirus," she said.

Liu has heard about other booksellers doing things like reopening and allowing only credit card payments, but she is hesitant to do something like that as it would cut off a lot of customers from shopping at Word Up. Whenever she reopens, she wants the store to be just as open and accessible as it was when it closed in March.

At the same time, Liu and her staff are so busy working on other initiatives that there simply isn't time to work out the logistics of a partial reopening. Word Up has been partnering with a variety of organizations, including mutual aid organizations and food pantries, to distribute books to the community, and working with several book clubs that were already using Word Up as a home base.

The store has also started the online Lo'Mas Lit Book Club, through which teens in the area can get free books and participate in virtual discussions. The club launched in late June and will meet weekly through the end of August, and four times throughout the summer authors will join them, including Matt Mendez, Elizabeth Acevedo and Angie Cruz.

At the moment, the main thing taking up the store's time has been organizing a virtual summer camp. Word Up has partnered with 12 other local organizations to figure out programming, and there will be daily virtual events for children, ranging from three-year-olds to teens. The various curricula are all being planned around books, and the idea is to help combat the summer learning slide, which has followed a remote learning slide of the past few months; give kids something to do while stuck indoors; and give parents some time to themselves.

When "the revolution started a month ago," Word Up became immediately involved. In fact, the store, along with other community groups, helped organize three different marches. One march, which the organizers actually tried to postpone temporarily, still drew 500-600 people; the store was a drop-off and distribution point for things like water and granola bars. The march that the store was most involved with was a children's march on Father's Day. And even when Word Up wasn't explicitly involved with organizing a demonstration, many people still asked if they could use the store as a home base for doing things like making signs. Liu said it was "heartbreaking" to have to limit some of these activities because of safety concerns, adding: "They're used to having this space as a community space."


In Duck, N.C., Duck's Cottage Coffee & Books reopened in the middle of May, when Dare County as a whole reopened for visitors. 

Store owner Jamie Hope Anderson explained that the county, which includes parts of North Carolina's Outer Banks, had quarantined by limiting access to residents and essential employees only. Non-resident homeowners, tourists and the like were not allowed in. Non-resident owners, Anderson continued, were allowed back at the beginning of May and the gates were opened to everyone on May 16.

Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C., which Anderson also owns, reopened on May 20. While that store was shut down, she and her team decided to consolidate from two spaces and a total of 1,400 square feet to one space of 850 square feet.

At Duck's Cottage, which has a robust coffee business, Anderson and her staff have taped out a traffic pattern on the floor that keeps people moving in one direction. Only six customers are allowed in at a time, and for much of the day there is a staff member at the door who serves as "bouncer." There is a hand-sanitizing station immediately inside of the store, along with a sign asking customers to use it. There are plexiglass sneeze guards around the register and pastry counter, and surfaces are being routinely sanitized. At Downtown Books, meanwhile, there is also a hand sanitizer station and commonly touched surfaces are frequently wiped down.

Anderson added that both the county and the state are currently requiring masks, and that requirement is being enforced at both stores. Her community has a year-round population of about 35,000 and, since the county reopened to tourists and non-resident homeowners, that figure has probably quadrupled. When the county was locked down, it seemed that most people were being good about wearing masks and social distancing, Anderson recalled, but the summer visitors were much more careless, especially when they first arrived.

Before mask-wearing became required by law, the bookstores faced significant pushback, especially in Duck. Anderson's staff members were called "communists" and there were claims the store would receive a $150,000 fine for violating the ADA if customers were made to wear a mask (the claim, of course, was untrue). People have tried to use T-shirts for a mask, turn hoodies around so that the hood covers the wearer's face, or simply try to use their own hands. Those people are shown the door. In Duck, staff always offer to leave orders on the porch, and in Manteo staff offer to pick up a book for them, so no one is refused service.

Given that both stores are in resort communities, Anderson continued, they have not been affected by any of the protests over the past month. But the stores have had many requests for antiracist titles, and there is a table set up with those books that is seeing steady interest.

B&N Shutters Plano, Tex., Concept Store

Barnes & Noble has closed its concept store in Plano, Tex., CultureMap Dallas reported. The location, which opened in 2017, combined a bookstore with a full-service bar and restaurant and was the fourth B&N Kitchen concept store to be rolled out.

In a statement confirming the closure, B&N added: "The store and restaurant were well-received by customers and we have appreciated their support. However, we have made the difficult decision to close the store to focus energy and resources on improving our other bookstores in Texas and around the country, as well as opening new stores."

The store had been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the company said it has been working with booksellers who wanted to transfer to another Texas store. Most B&N locations have reopened since roughly 400 were closed earlier this spring.

Elliott Management, the hedge fund that also owns Waterstones, purchased B&N in 2019. The B&N Kitchen stores were an initiative started by the previous management.

Details Set for Carolyn Reidy Virtual Memorial Service

The virtual memorial service that will honor and celebrate the life of Carolyn Reidy, Simon & Schuster president and CEO, who died on May 12, will take place next Wednesday, July 8, at 4 p.m. Eastern. The service will be livestreamed on YouTube at this link.

People are encouraged to share memories of Carolyn at

Obituary Note: Rudolfo Anaya

Rudolfo Anaya

Rudolfo Anaya, "a writer who helped launch the 1970s Chicano Literature Movement with his novel Bless Me, Ultima," died June 28, the Associated Press reported. He was 82. In 2016, Anaya was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

"I was completely transported the first time I picked up Bless Me, Ultima," said novelist and poet Rigoberto Gonzalez, who was mentored by Anaya. "He was somehow able to capture the backdrop of our community and make us proud."

In a statement, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham described Anaya as one of the state's greatest artists and a seminal figure in literature, adding: "Through his indelible stories, Rudolfo Anaya, perhaps better than any other author, truly captured what it means to be a New Mexican, what it means to be born here, grow up here and live here. His life's work amounts to an incredible contribution to the great culture and fabric of our state--not only through his prodigious literary contributions but through his decades as an educator at the University of New Mexico."

Anaya's many books include a mystery series featuring Mexican-American detective Sonny Baca, novels (Heart of Aztlan, Tortuga, Serafina's Stories and more), story collections, children's books, anthologies, as well as works of nonfiction poetry. He also launched the creative writing program at the University of New Mexico and opened a retreat in Jemez Spring, N.Mex., for aspiring Latino writers.

"Bless Me, Ultima was one of the milestones I encountered when I was starting my literary career," poet Jimmy Santiago Baca told the Sante Fe New Mexican. "It opened my eyes to the possibilities of magical realism in Southwest literature and was the first time I saw my New Mexican culture reflected in a beautiful way.... His influence is inestimable. He set an example for all of us."

Author Denise Chavez said, "It's an incredible loss for the whole world. He was the grandfather of Chicano and American literature. He's left an incredible legacy. He was my mentor and a mentor to many. Without him, we couldn't have gone forward."

Dr. Melina Vizcaíno Alemán, an associate professor in UNM's English Department, observed: "It is no understatement to say that Mr. Anaya will always hold a place in Southwestern and Chicana/o literature and culture. And his legacy endures here at home, across the nation, and overseas in the body of writings, manuscripts and programs he leaves behind."

In a statement, Grand Central Publishing said it "is immensely saddened by the news of Rudolfo Anaya’s death. As the proud publisher of Bless Me, Ultima since 1994, we cherish having celebrated several momentous events with Rudy, from the novel’s inclusion in NEA’s Big Read program and its adaptations as a feature film and an opera, to the naming of an Albuquerque, New Mexico, public library after him and his receiving of the National Humanities Medal. We will miss his passionate commitment to his local community and community of writers, his humility, and his sense of humor."


Image of the Day: A Socially Distanced Walk

Brilliant Books, Traverse City, Mich., shared this photo, saying, "Now that two blocks of Front Street are closed to vehicles and open for pedestrians, what better time to enjoy a socially distanced walk downtown? We're now open to browsing for limited hours during the week, and so are many of our neighbors!"

Librarian 'Gob-smacked' by Lemony Snicket Prize

Heather Ogilvie, the outreach librarian for the Northwest Regional Library System based in Panama City, Fla., told the News Herald she was "gob-smacked, joy-stricken and bursting with gratitude" upon learning recently that she had been selected to receive the 2020 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. She added that it was unthinkable "that I, with a tiny car and a little red wagon of selected books and odd objects, a librarian out on the street, might come face to face with a literary hero of towering genius, Mr. Snicket himself."

Daniel Handler will present the award in January 2021 at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. Ogilvie receives a cash prize and an "odd, symbolic object of Handler's choosing" from his private collection.

Ogilvie had been on the job, serving three counties in the Florida Panhandle, when Hurricane Michael hit on October 10, 2018. More than 45,000 structures were damaged and more than 1,500 destroyed, and there was no time to evacuate. Although she had seven trees fall on her home, lost portions of her roof and her car was crushed, "she grabbed the books, puzzles and games she could salvage and ventured out into the community she served," the News Herald wrote.

Handler called Ogilvie "a triumphant reminder of what a truly noble librarian can do in a situation in which so many of us cower and look away. When I am next tempted to think more of myself and less for assisting others, I will say to myself, 'Ogilvie,' and snap into action."

Personnel Changes at Titcomb's Bookshop; Apollo Publishers

Ellen Speers

Ellen Speers has been promoted to manager of Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass. She has worked at the store since 2015, starting as a frontline bookseller, then as toy buyer and most recently as gift buyer and events coordinator.

In an e-mail to customers, owner Vicky Titcomb said in part, "The bookstore has grown so much in recent years, and Ellen brings the knowledge and qualities we need to continue to grow and develop. Already, she has undertaken the careful planning for our reopening this month. She has also worked, along with Elizabeth Merritt, to set up a stellar group of exciting virtual author visits this summer, including Jeanine Cummins, Gail Tsukiyama and J. Courtney Sullivan.

"Ellen's enthusiasm for books is contagious, and her warm personality shines. We are so excited to have her as our manager, and are looking forward to a very bright future for Titcomb's!"


Larry Dorfman has joined Apollo Publishers as trade accounts manager. Alex Merrill, publisher & director of sales, said, "Larry is joining us at a time that we are growing, despite the quarantine, in both headcount and title count. Larry brings us a wealth of experience and we look forward to him helping us open new markets for our curated, compelling nonfiction titles."

Besides his career of more than 30 years in the book business, Dorfman is the author of the Snark Handbook series.

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: Shelf Awareness's Jenn Risko, John Mutter and Bob Gray

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, July 4
1:20 p.m. In an edition of Melville Housebound recorded a month ago, Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson discusses the impact of Covid-19 on the independent publishing industry with Jenn Risko, John Mutter and Bob Gray of Shelf Awareness.

1:55 p.m. Donna Harrington-Lueker, author of Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading (University of Massachusetts Press, $29.95, 9781625343833). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 a.m.)

6:20 p.m. Elizabeth Varon, author of Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, $34.95, 9780190860608).

7:30 p.m. Michael Long and Pamela Horowitz discuss Race Man: Selected Works, 1960-2015 by Julian Bond (City Lights, $22.95, 9780872867949), at Charis Books and More in Decatur, Ga.

9 p.m. Jamil Jivani, author of Why Young Men: The Dangerous Allure of Violent Movements and What We Can Do About It (All Points Books, $28.99, 9781250199898). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10 p.m. Mary Jordan, author of The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982113407). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Senator Joni Ernst, author of Daughter of the Heartland: My Ode to the Country that Raised Me (Threshold Editions, $27.99, 9781982144869).

11:40 p.m. Stephanie Kelton, author of The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy (PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541736184), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, July 5
1:45 a.m. Tiffany Shlain, author of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week (Gallery Books, $26, 9781982116866). (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with retired United States Navy Admiral James Stavridis, author of Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character (Penguin Press, $28, 9780525559931). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:30 p.m. Senator Martha McSally, author of Dare to Fly: Simple Lessons in Never Giving Up (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062996282).

Books & Authors

Awards: CLMP Firecracker Winners

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses announced the winners for the five categories of the Firecracker Awards for Independently Published Literature, given annually to celebrate "books and magazines that make a significant contribution to our literary culture and the publishers that strive to introduce important voices to readers far and wide."

Fiction: They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears by Johannes Anyuru, translated by Saskia Vogel (Two Lines Press)
Creative Nonfiction: throughsmoke​ by Jehanne Dubrow (New Rivers Press)
Poetry (co-winners): Motion Studies ​by Jena Osman (Ugly Duckling Presse) and Personal Volcano​ by Laura Moriarty (Nightboat Books)
Magazine, General Excellence: Two Lines Journal
Magazine, Best Debut: Porter House Review

W. Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Press, was honored with the 2020 Lord Nose Award, given to a publisher or editor in recognition of a lifetime of work in literary publishing.  

Book Review

Review: A Saint from Texas

A Saint from Texas by Edmund White (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9781635572551, August 4, 2020)

As one of the godfathers of gay literature, Edmund White (City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s) has written significantly and beautifully about male sexuality. In the sumptuously imagined novel A Saint from Texas, he takes as a subject female sexuality and how the social taboos against expressing it openly shaped the lives of a pair of Texas belles.

Narrating from the present day, Yvonne de Courcy (née Crawford) recalls her formative years and those of her identical twin, Yvette. Born in East Texas in the late 1930s, they were raised Baptist and ostentatiously wealthy (their father was "lucky with oil"). Self-described Dallas deb Yvonne doesn't pretend that her youthful ambitions were marked by virtue: even as a teenager, she had set her sights on social climbing. Meanwhile, Yvette began slipping off to attend a Catholic church, and from college she made her way to a convent in Colombia. There another nun sparked feelings that altered Yvette's destiny, as she explains in letters to her sister that Yvonne includes in her narrative.

Not lost on Yvette is that her childhood molestation by her father steered her away from men. While Yvonne was spared their father's abuse, she's not much more attracted to the opposite sex than her sister is--"Don't forget that you and I are a little bit gay around the edges," she writes late in her life to her twin. Nevertheless, Yvonne heads to Paris for her junior semester abroad, intending to find a man. She meets the tiresome Baron Adhéaume de Courcy and becomes a "bartered bride"--as Adhéaume puts it, "My title and taste for your fortune." After she uncovers Adhéaume's infidelity, Yvonne lands a boyfriend and creates the opportunity to indulge her attraction to women, never forsaking her baronial obligation to good form: "Three-ways are first and foremost a problem of etiquette--no one should feel left out."

As in White's previous work, A Saint from Texas itemizes the costs--and for Yvette they are especially high--of suppressed sexuality. Readers who prefer novels with something measurable at stake may wish that A Saint from Texas had more of a storytelling arc, but White's filigreed detail work, conveyed through Yvonne's taffeta-touch narration, is amply compensatory. Although A Saint from Texas is plotless, the journey across three continents is breathtaking. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: In this gorgeously appointed novel, an elderly Texas belle who became a French baroness tells her story and that of her identical twin, whose abuse by their father set her on a spiritual path.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Celebrate Your Freedom to Wear a Face Mask

Please wear a face mask. As requests go, this one seems simple enough, but customer resistance to masking up is proving to be a challenge for many retailers, including bookstores.

"Pro Business = Pro Mask. It's Just that Simple," Magic City Books, Tulsa, Okla., noted recently. Forbes magazine agrees, reporting this week that analysts at Goldman Sachs "suggested that a federal mask mandate would 'meaningfully' increase mask usage across the country, especially in states like Florida and Texas, where masks are not currently required." Reducing the spread of the virus through mask-wearing, the analysts found, could be a substitute for strict lockdown measures that would otherwise shave 5%--or $1 trillion--off the U.S. GDP.

My state's governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been a face mask advocate for months, and now even "a number of prominent Republicans and conservative media members [with one notable exception] have changed their tune on wearing face coverings," Forbes wrote.

(photo: Jonathan Blanc/NYPL)

Given the ongoing video flood of angry, maskless customers gone wild, it was actually refreshing to see the obsession over Star Trek actor Chris Pine all masked up in Los Angeles while carrying a stuffed Skylight Books bag. Even Patience and Fortitude, the New York Public Library's beloved lions, are setting an example.

And yet, there's no shortage "problem children" (i.e., furious adult customers). Irish bookseller Joan Lucey of Vibes and Scribes, Cork, asked customers to wear a mask "for the safety of our staff and our customers and if they didn't have one, we were happy to provide them with one and they could make a donation to the Cork Sexual Violence Centre. But we were very surprised when we discovered this really bad reaction online with some people going on to our Facebook page, accusing us of trying to humiliate them and others saying that they were going to blacklist us.... I admit we didn't consult with anybody but to be honest I didn't feel that it was terribly relevant, I thought I was doing the right thing for my staff and my customers and to be fair, most of our customers have been supportive."

In a blog post, Jessica Peterson White, owner of Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn., suggested a connection between anger at being asked to wear a face mask and white privilege, noting: "This week, I started to speculate that these (white) people in my shop, when they won't look at me and resist my friendliness so aggressively, are feeling shame--a shame that is deeply unfamiliar to most white people.... It's because one of the cornerstones of whiteness, one of its defining characteristics, is the entitlement to be as you are, as you wish to be, in public spaces."

A serious attitude adjustment is in order for these customers because we'll all be masking up for the unforeseeable future.

At Avid Bookshop

"It appears to be a simple, unassuming, black face mask and yet, when worn correctly, it's proven to drastically reduce the chances of transmitting Covid-19," Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., posted on Facebook, adding: "We are offering these masks at wholesale cost (plus a tiny bit to cover the costs of getting them in bulk to Avid)! We are doing this in order to make sure everyone can have a spare or two when they're about to head out the door."

Booksellers are adapting quickly, as they do, and trying to add an element of fun and creativity to an otherwise serious, even life-saving, necessity. For example, a line of face masks from Out of Print and the American Booksellers Association has been the biggest new-product launch in the company's 10-year history.

Whistlestop Bookshop, Carlisle, Pa., is offering "15 of these beautiful handmade face masks in store right now (including a selection in a somewhat larger, 'broad' format)! They can also be customized by request. Each one is $10 and all proceeds benefit ! Keep yourself safe in style and benefit a great local business."

At the Book Hive

British bookseller the Book Hive in Norwich noted that "cotton masks from INANNA'S MAGICAL GIFTS are great--not only can you look like a magnificent member of the animal kingdom, but you can also easily re-use the mask every day with a quick hand-wash and dry in the evening. Go get 'em, folks!"

But wait, there's more:

Masked bookmark: Canadian bookshop Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C., posted: "Designed in 1970 by the great Martin Springett, our iconic bookmark gets a 2020 update."

At the BookMark

Masked books: Rona Brinlee, owner of the BookMark, Neptune Beach, Fla., told us Tuesday that she "has been requiring masks to all browsers. The city just made them mandatory yesterday at 5 p.m. So we thought we'd honor the moment with our window display of masked books."

Masked founder: Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just celebrated Founder's Day, the "date in 2012 that Mary Ann Peters opened New Bo Books, the precursor of Next Page Books.... NOTE: We love the fact that Mary Ann wears a mask without any prompting. Just one more reason to admire her!"

How does an independent bookseller celebrate Independence Day during a global pandemic? By masking up and handselling great reads at the proper social distance, damn it!

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in June

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during June:

1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
2. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (Hachette Audio)
3. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
4. The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperAudio)
5. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree Books)
6. Beach Read by Emily Henry (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
7. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)
8. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson (Scholastic Audio)
9. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Recorded Books, Inc.)
10. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)

1. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
2. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press)
3. Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi (Novel Audio)
4. So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Blackstone Publishing)
5. Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad (Blackstone Publishing)
6. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds (Hachette Audio)
7. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
8. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (Recorded Books, Inc.)
9. Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
10. I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)

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