Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

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

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

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Editors' Note

Welcome Aboard, Sora Hong!

Shelf Awareness welcomes Sora Hong, who has joined the company as publishing assistant. She recently had an internship at Fantagraphics Books, is a student at Hugo House, the Seattle writing and book center, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Cinema & Media Studies from the University of Washington. She loves deep sea creatures, sci fi, graphic design, comic books and terrible talking-dog movies from the early 2000s. In her spare time, she likes to explore tide pools, mixed race studies and silent film archives.

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International Update: Lockdown Reading Habits in the U.K., India

Social-distanced shopping at Foyles.

Approximately 35% of regular bookshop customers in the U.K. are unsure about returning to bricks-and-mortar premises now that the Covid-19 lockdown has eased, according to a recent Nielsen survey, which also showed that "39% of people still reported consuming books and audiobooks more than before lockdown began, down from 42% during the lockdown period, with just 11% saying they consumed less. That reading increase was driven mainly by women and younger men," the Bookseller reported.

Conducted between June 25 and June 29, the survey of more than 1,000 adults in the U.K. also found that 26% of respondents were buying more books overall--up by 2% on lockdown figures--and 18% buying fewer, with 39% reading books they already owned, particularly older readers, and 19% borrowing from other people.

Nielsen noted that about one in five book buyers and 28% of habitual bookshop users planned to visit a bookshop within four weeks, with nearly half saying they would be back within six months. However, 22% of both book buyers and regular bookshop customers preferred "to wait to see the ongoing effect of Covid-19 before venturing into a bookshop," the Bookseller wrote.

Among regular bookshop customers, 13% did not know when they would go back and 5% said they would not return. For book buyers overall, 17% were unsure, citing browsing and safety concerns as primary barriers, while 13% did not want to go to a bookshop at all.


A Nielsen Book India online survey of 1,084 Indian adults (with a ratio of 60:40 female/male), which was conducted May 14 to June 7, examined the impact of reading and buying behavior on leisure books (excluding academic books) in India. The Hindustan Times reported "two-thirds of book readers say they are consuming more books since lockdown began. Earlier, Indian book readers read books or listened to audiobooks for an average of nine hours per week. Since lockdown this has increased by seven more hours a week."

Survey respondents said the most influential factors for discovering books pre- and post-lockdown are recommendations from friends/relatives, followed by media articles/reviews and general browsing on bookseller websites. "Female readers are more likely than men to seek out recommendations from friends/relatives and to read media articles/reviews. Meanwhile, male readers like to discover books by browsing on bookseller websites and looking at bestseller sections," the Hindustan Times wrote, adding that purchasing online, followed by physical bookstores and then home delivery, were the most preferred options for buying books post-lockdown.

After the lockdown is lifted, 60% respondents said they expected to buy books through physical stores and 70% through an online bookshop, "with the proportion higher than before lockdown in each case, but more so for online than in-store," the Hindustan Times noted, adding that respondents "think they will use home delivery more after lockdown than before."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Amazon Opening Fulfillment Centers in Ark., Tex.

Amazon plans to open its first fulfillment center in Little Rock, Ark., in 2021. The 825,000-square-foot site was given final approval by the city's board of directors, which okayed the sale of 80 acres at the Port of Little Rock to Amazon, giving the company exclusive control for the development of the Zeuber Road site. Amazon is also planning a new 85,000-square-foot delivery station in Little Rock for late 2020.

Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon's v-p of global customer fulfillment, said, "We greatly appreciate the strong support from local and state leaders as we look to open our first fulfillment center and second delivery station in the state of Arkansas."

Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. added that the city "welcomes Amazon in Arkansas' first major investment from the company and is excited to provide new economic opportunities to our residents. The Covid-19 public health crisis has caused deep concern among many Little Rock families as they struggle to stay afloat due to current economic uncertainty. Today's announcement provides reassurance that Little Rock will rebound and that jobs are on the way."


Amazon is also opening a 820,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Pflugerville, Tex. The site is expected to launch in 2021. "We're appreciative of the people of Texas for so warmly embracing Amazon into the community. There are now over 20,000 Texan Amazonians working for us in the state," Davis said.

Mayor Victor Gonzales commented: "Pflugerville's connectivity via the SH 130 corridor is a prime location for business expansion, and we welcome Amazon, a business that shares our belief that Pflugerville is a wonderful place to live and work."

Obituary Note: Josephine Cox

British novelist Josephine Cox, a prolific author of family sagas that "combined romance and tragedy to dramatic, bestselling effect," died July 17, the Guardian reported. She was 82. In a career that spanned three decades, Cox published more than 60 books, which sold more than 20 million copies.

HarperCollins UK executive publisher Kimberley Young said Cox "has left a legacy, not only through her stories that touched the hearts of millions, but as a woman who led the way for others by forging a path from humble beginnings to the top of the bestseller lists." Young called Cox "an utter force of nature who inspired all around her," adding that the author wrote back to "each and every" fan who contacted her, "creating an army of readers who were as loyal to her and she was to them."

Born in Blackburn, Cox was one of 10 children. "We hardly had enough money for food and clothes, let alone books," she told the Guardian in 2008. "But I found a little green leather book of Wordsworth's poems on a tip. I hid it so nobody could take it. It was very precious to me."

Cox's most recent book, Two Sisters, was published in February. Among her other titles are The Beachcomber, A Family Secret, A Woman's Fortune, The Broken Man, The Runaway Woman, The Journey's End and the Emma Grady Sagas (Outcast, Alley Urchin, Vagabonds).

HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne said she was "one of our most beloved writers.... Publishing is built on authors such as Josephine Cox, writers who know instinctively what their readers want and work diligently, and with the utmost dedication, to deliver it."

"I love writing, both recreating scenes and characters from my past, together with new storylines which mingle naturally with the old," Cox had said. "I could never imagine a single day without writing, and it's been that way since as far back as I can remember."


Image of the Day: 'Chris Bohjalian Loves the 802!'

Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vt., hosted a familiar visitor last week: "THIS is why Chris Bohjalian loves the 802! He can bike in to his local independent bookstore and sign books for his fans all over the country and world! He signs, he personalizes, we ship! BONUS Red Lotus enamel pins available, not a lot, free with purchase!"

Physically Distanced Staff Meeting: Content Bookstore

Posted on Facebook by Content Bookstore, Northfield, Minn.: "A beautiful morning for a physically distanced (but not socially distanced!) staff meeting. The breeze on the riverwalk and treats from our friends at LittleJoy kept us cool and happy."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mary Trump on Colbert's Late Show

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Mary Trump, author of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982141462).

TV: Nine Perfect Strangers

Grace Van Patten will join Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy in the cast of Hulu's limited series Nine Perfect Strangers, based on Liane Moriarty's latest novel, Deadline reported. The cast also includes Luke Evans, Melvin Gregg and Samara Weaving.

The project is from David E. Kelley, Bruna Papandrea's Made Up Stories, Kidman's Blossom Films and Endeavor Content. It is co-written by Kelley, John Henry Butterworth and Samantha Strauss and co-showrun by Kelley and Butterworth. The series is aiming for a 2021 debut.

Books & Authors

Awards: Strand Critics Finalists

The Strand magazine has unveiled nominees for the 2020 Strand Critics Awards, which recognize excellence in the field of mystery fiction and publishing. In addition, Walter Mosley and Tess Gerritsen are receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards. The Strand Critics Awards will be held virtually on September 4.

Bronwen Hruska of Soho Press is receiving the Publisher of the Year Award. "The characteristic of a great publisher is one who takes risks, who is never satisfied with the status quo, and most importantly someone who is dedicated to releasing works from a diverse set of authors," said Strand managing editor Andrew Gulli. "For over a decade, Hruska has done just that. She has been a fearless and tireless advocate for her authors, and they all love her."

Hruska commented: "Publishing is a labor of love, full stop. At Soho, we believe in every book we publish, every author. But to be recognized for that work--and by Strand magazine, a leader in the crime fiction community--is truly an honor. Thank you Strand, and thank you to our wonderful authors who make our work not only meaningful, but quite joyful as well."

This year's Strand Critics Awards nominated titles are:

Mystery novel
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown)
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Flatiron Books)
The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke (Mulholland Books)
The Border by Don Winslow (Morrow)

Debut novel
Scrublands by Chris Hammer (Atria Books)
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG)
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski (Graydon House)
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books)
Three-Fifths by John Vercher (Agora Books)

Book Review

Review: The Boy in the Field

The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey (Harper, $26.99 hardcover, 272p., 9780062946393, August 11, 2020)

The Boy in the Field is a stunning novel of tenderness, interconnectedness, cause and effect by Margot Livesey (The Flight of Gemma Hardy; Mercury). Matthew, Zoe and Duncan are walking home from school one day when they find him, in a field with cows, swallows, bluebottles: a beautiful young man, really just a boy, bloodied and unconscious. He speaks one word: "Cowrie," Zoe reports to the police. "Cowslip," says Duncan. "Coward," says Matthew. With their discovery, they save his life.

The teenaged siblings are close, loving and very different from one another. Matthew, the eldest, is thoughtful. He hopes to become a detective one day, and becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of who hurt the boy in the field, and why. He puzzles over motivations. Zoe has "a gift for finding things: birds' nests, their mother's calculator, a missing book, a secret." She worries over her parents' relationship and explores her own first sexual experiences; she is drawn to the ways in which people come together and apart. Duncan, the youngest, is observant, almost preternaturally sensitive and a gifted painter. Finding the boy will start him toward a discovery about his own life that might be destructive.

The novel unfolds through alternating chapters from the perspectives of Matthew, Zoe and Duncan. Their parents, Betsy and Hal, are compelling characters as well, less known than the children but multi-faceted, imperfect and endearing. Livesey's deceptively simple prose renders each sibling as both sweet and complicated. Their shared experience, finding the injured young man, begins for each of them a different kind of acceleration: into adulthood, out of innocence, into reconfigured connections. Matthew gets to know the police detective assigned to the case; his relationships with his girlfriend and his best friends irrevocably change; he notices for the first time that he's drawing away from his younger siblings. Zoe has out-of-body experiences, breaks up with her boyfriend and meets a young philosopher, and it is Zoe who discovers the chink in their parents' marriage. Duncan sinks into the paintings of Morandi, gets a new dog and launches an investigation of his own. By book's end, the three will grow both closer and apart through this shared experience.

The Boy in the Field is a coming-of-age story, a mystery, a sharp-eyed examination of individual lives and relationships. Despite the violent crime related to its title and the insecurities that arise for various characters along the way, this brilliant novel offers a sense of beauty and safety in its quiet ruminations. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A single discovery touches three siblings' lives in surprising ways in this poignant, gleaming story.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Billionaire Undercover: Hudson by J.S. Scott
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
3. The Lighthouse by Jessie Newton
4. The Beginning of Everything by Kristen Ashley
5. Secret (Betrothed Book 9) by Penelope Sky
6. The Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley
7. Southern Sunrise (The Southern Series Book 4) by Natasha Madison
8. Issued to the Bride: One Sergeant for Christmas by Cora Seton
9. The Rivals by Vi Keeland
10. Mr. Knightsbridge by Louise Bay

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