Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 27, 2020

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

HarperCollins: The Verts by Ann Patchett, Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Running Press Kids: Introducing the HOW TO SPOT series. Get a sneak peek!

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire


Magic of Books Bookstore Opening in Seymour, Ind.

The Magic of Books Bookstore, located in downtown Seymour, Ind., will host its grand opening celebration on August 1. Owner Jenna Martinez is stocking both used and new titles, with plans to promote local and indie authors, the Tribune reported. She said she will also carry "nerdy bookish memorabilia," including T-shirts, bookmarks, rubber bracelets, pens and buttons.

In 2013, Martinez started a local book club, the Boozy Bookworms, that continues to meet monthly; and about five years ago she and an author friend launched a book blog, also called the Magic of Books. "Now, Martinez is taking the next step to share the magic of reading by starting her own business in downtown Seymour," the Tribune wrote.

"Because of my blog, I have a good connection with a lot of authors, and I want to do what I can to promote them," she said. "Also, I love planning events.... I have always wanted a bookstore. As a kid, that was like my dream job to be able to get paid to read."

Although Martinez knew Seymour and Jackson County needed a bookstore, she said she has been impressed by the support she is seeing from the community: "It's amazing, People have reached out to help in so many ways.... My hope is we can grow an amazing group of individuals that can bond and build relationships over the magic we find in books."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Homeseeking by Karissa Chen

Wolfman Books, Oakland, Calif., Closing

Wolfman, Oakland, Calif., is closing after six years in business, owner Justin Carder announced. Wolfman Books, a 750-square-foot independent bookstore specializing in books about social justice and queer and gender studies, has been only part of the enterprise. Wolfman has included a publishing press that puts out a quarterly magazine, New Life Quarterly; a queer skateboard collective that also published zines; a radio station; an artist-in-residency program; a Black independent cinema film screening series; and has hosted many workshops and performances.

In a post on the store's website, Carder wrote in part, "Wolfman's storefront has been closed since mid-March. It's been a difficult and uncertain couple of months. Feels like it's been 100 weird years. In light of all this uncertainty (and a truly insecure lease) I've decided to close our storefront. Wolfman has always been a place to gather in close (such close) proximity to others. It has always been about an open door, and a creaky floor, random encounters, and a free, open public restroom for whoever wants to use it. Ha. Without the possibility of doing events in the space, or of having people really browse safely (or for staff to be in the space) it just doesn't make sense to try and open up again at this time.

"Thank you to everyone who donated to our sixth anniversary fundraiser, to our monthly supporters, and those who have ordered books online. Your support--particularly over these last few months--has meant the world to us. Thanks also for your patience as I have adjusted to shipping out so much mail. If you still haven't received your order or your thank you gift, email me. (Also, if you bought a gift certificate or have credit and you're like what the heck do I do with this now, I can help!)....

"Shout out to everyone who put on a reading, screening, dance performance, noise show, stand up comedy night, radio show, zine release, wedding, radical reading group, or countless other type of thing in the space. Over the last six years I have seen so much amazing art and community here! It's wild. Shout out to all our amazing authors, editors, and New Life contributors. We are honored to have had the opportunity to work with you and to share and champion your work...

"I started Wolfman 6 years ago, with the intent to create a space unlike other book spaces I saw in the Bay Area--a diverse and inclusive space that reflected the artist community I saw around me in Oakland--a space for QTPOC + BIPOC to share their work and to feel community and ownership. While I have worked with a lot of others, particularly BIPOC and queer people to make a really beautiful, radical space together and collaborate on a ton of amazing events and projects--at the same time I want to acknowledge that we have not been able to create a structure for BIPOC members of staff to deeper organizational decision-making and project building, and BIPOC members of our staff have felt left out of financial, publishing, and space decisions. Though we have talked about collective organization a lot at meetings and imagined ways to make it real--I was not able to truly make it real--and in light of this, Wolfemme + Them [four staff members] have chosen to step away from Wolfman to support BIPOC and QTPOC-led projects. As Wolfemme + Them wrote in their recent email about stepping away: 'it is imperative that we not only have a seat at the table, but that the table was created by us.' "

Wolfman will hold a goodbye "distance hang" outside the store on Thursday, July 30, 7-10 p.m.

How Bookstores Are Coping: Trying to Be Safe in an Unsafe Area; Masks and Hand Sanitizer

Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., reported that he and co-owner Kris Kleindienst have not reopened their store to the public, and they don't know when it will be safe to do so. The store's state, city and neighborhood have all been "inconsistent at best" at adopting "basic, common-sense measures to control the spread of the virus," Steele explained. There have been discussions about possibly opening for appointment shopping sometime soon, but "our staff is nervous, and so are we."

In the bookstore's neighborhood, Steele continued, some nearby restaurants have had to close again because of staff testing positive, and a nearby library has closed indefinitely for the same reason. Generally speaking, there is a "weird culture of refusing to wear face coverings" mixed with "ineffective nods at compliance." He added: "At this point, we're keeping our staff and customers as safe as possible in an environment that isn't safe for anyone."

All staff members must wear masks for the entirety of their shifts, and the store enforces both social distancing and regular sanitizing of work stations. The team has already removed some fixtures and widened aisles, even though browsing might still be a long way off, and they're in the process of installing barriers around the points of sale, and the store is no longer taking cash payments.

When asked about the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that began in late May, Steele noted that Left Bank is "no stranger to protest." Since the death of Mike Brown in 2014, Black Lives Matter has had a large presence in St. Louis and the store's neighborhood has been the site of many marches. Most of the store's staff marched in these recent protests, and many of the store's customers did as well. People have purchased more than 3,000 Black Lives Matter yard signs from the store (from which the store doesn't make a profit), and books on the store's antiracist book lists have been selling really well.

"Our only real official responses have been to support our staff members who protest, continue our own work on our own implicit bias and racism, and renew our commitment to employing BIPOC booksellers and featuring BIPOC authors," Steele said.


Orinda Books in Orinda, Calif., reopened in mid-June at 50% capacity, owner Pat Rudebusch said. After Contra Costa County allowed retailers to resume in-store browsing, it took Rudebusch and her team about a week to get things ready and to feel comfortable allowing the public in.

Rudebusch noted that Orinda Books is fortunate to have a fairly large space, and has not even come close to hitting the occupancy cap. Customers are asked to use hand sanitizer when they enter the store, and there are "lighthearted" signs throughout Orinda Books reminding customers to stay six feet apart. Masks are required, and the staff routinely wipes down counters, door handles, telephones and any other hard surface that people frequently touch. One of the biggest obstacles to reopening, Rudebusch added, was simply finding a large enough supply of hand sanitizer.

When asked if she and her staff have encountered any resistance to wearing masks, Rudebusch said no. "Everyone understands the importance of it."

As protests spread around the country in late May and early June, Rudesbusch and the team took the opportunity to "look for ways to support the Black community." As a result, their biggest focus has been working with local schools, and they've started a partnership with a local high school whereby the store will donate a percentage of sales from How to Be an Antiracist to the Center for Antiracist Research on the high school's behalf. --Alex Mutter

International Update: Hong Kong Booksellers Uneasy; Covid 'Déjà Vu' in Australia

Since China recently passed the Hong Kong national security law, "political titles have been pulled from public library shelves, a protest slogan has been banned and students have been prohibited from political activities in schools," the Hong Kong Free Press reported, noting that the city's booksellers "fear stricter regulations on the titles they are allowed to offer, creating a chilling effect among institutions which traditionally uphold and safeguard the free flow of ideas, information, and narratives."

Albert Wan of English-language bookstore Bleak House Books expressed concern, but continues to stock "sensitive" political titles, primarily "books that are not published by large presses. Books that relate specifically to Hong Kong and the law, the Umbrella Movement, or protests from last summer these are obviously the most sensitive books," he said, though he wonders if titles that were previously allowed will continue to be. "Under the new law, and based on what we know happens in mainland China, would it be a problem to stock 1984, Animal Farm, or On Tyranny? [What about] general theory-based books [or] academic texts about revolutionary movements that have taken place in China in the past? Who knows?"

May Fung of ACO Book, which specializes in arts and culture, noted: "Every publication on any subject is now subject to this national security law. I think it is dangerous and I am somewhat worried. If we still lived in a society with rule of law and a legal system we can trust, we can go to court and the court will fairly decide whether or not a certain title contravenes the law. But this new national security agency is outside of the government, so that's not necessarily the case now; we don't know whether or not they will be fair.... I won't stop operations because [the government] may or may not ban certain titles. We will keep doing what we are doing until we are forced into a corner.... I don't want to go to prison but I will not self-censor until I absolutely have no other choice."

Wan agreed: "My initial reaction will be to tell them to 'f-off,' but I also have a bookstore to run.... I have responsibilities as a husband and father. It's a matter of how much I feel like I can keep doing [what I'm doing] and not be a burden and compromise the safety of my family. If they do come and tell us certain books can no longer be sold like we saw with Causeway Books, then I will have to stop selling the titles to protect my colleagues from being arrested."

Regarding the future for Hong Kong's booksellers, Wan observed: "The fate of bookstores is sort of tied to [Hong Kong] as a society that's rooted in law and free expression and transparency. You cannot run a bookstore without those core principles in place. The way Hong Kong goes, bookshops will go. Right now it doesn't look good, but who knows? We just have to stay hopeful and keep doing what we're doing."


As a Covid-19 second wave flares up in certain regions of Australia, Farrells Bookshop, Mornington, Vic., posted on Facebook: "Bit of a glum sense of déjà vu here this morning....We have again made the difficult decision to close our doors to browsing and operate a door front service only. Given the extent of community transmission now occurring, we feel this is best for the health and well being of our staff. BUT WE CAN STILL GET YOU YOUR BOOKS!!!... Today feels very strange--we could really use some friendly smiles right now, and yet we're all wearing masks. Please continue to support your local small businesses--we are all doing it pretty tough right now. But let's all try to do the right thing and figure out a way to get the things we need while staying home as much as possible to help stop the spread. Take care out there!" --Robert Gray

Cargill Named Faber Publishing Director

Angus Cargill has been promoted to publishing director at Faber, the Bookseller reported. He succeeds Louisa Joyner, who recently moved from publishing director to associate publisher. Formerly editorial director, Cargill will continue to work with all of his current authors.

"Angus has been at the core of Faber's editorial team since 2000," Bowler said. "In that time, he has published myriad bestsellers and prize winners, brought standout success to our crime publishing and even introduced a whole new form to Faber, with a stellar list of graphic novelists that includes Adrian Tomine and Emily Carroll. But beyond all this lies a central truth: Angus has established himself as one of the most respected and highly skilled literary editors. In this new role, we'll draw on his deep experience and editorial expertise, to the great benefit of a future generation of editors and writers."


MahoganyBooks Owners Thrive by Staying True to Their Vision

MahoganyBooks owners Ramunda and Derrick Young, with daughter Mahogany.

As part of its Retail Gets Real podcast, the National Retail Federation features an interview with Ramunda and Derrick Young, founders and owners of MahoganyBooks, Washington, D.C., focusing on challenges the store--specializing in books about the Black experience and African American culture--has faced this year.

"When the pandemic hit in March, the Youngs did some creative thinking to continue to serve the community, developing book bundles for kids stuck at home, 'Blind Date with a Black Book' mystery boxes and virtual author events," the podcast noted. "When the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd resulted in a surge of demand for books about racism as well as a desire to support Black-owned businesses, the Youngs faced a new challenge--serving a new kind of customer and meeting overwhelming demand, while at the same time meeting the needs of the customer that's been with them for 13 years."

A key element in meeting these challenges was staying true to the Youngs' vision for the store. As Ramunda Young said, "We can get caught up in these things that come and go. But I think, if we stay grounded in why we started that business, why that passion or that vision really spurred us to put all this energy and time out there, I think that's where we'll stay productive and successful." She added that the huge wave of business that came in the last two months from people wanting to support Black-owned bookstores and read anti-racist books made her worry that she might have to change her approach for the new customers. But quickly she realized, "If we stay true to who we are, those who are here for the right reasons--who are really in a space where they want to learn and grow and be introduced to Black literature and Black history--they'll stay around."

Without intending to, the store's beginnings as an online and pop-up venture, from 2007 to 2017, before it opened its bricks-and-mortar location, served it well in a variety of ways that the Youngs couldn't have foreseen. For a decade, the store connected with its customers online, used social media and built a solid e-mail list, as well as met customers at events, conferences and places where it had a pop-up presence. When the pandemic hit this spring, unlike so many other bookstores that had to bolster or begin online sales, MahoganyBooks could focus on sales and marketing. "We already had this banging, rocking website where people had been following us for 13 years," Ramunda Young said. "We did not have to tweak our website one bit."

Derrick Young remembered that growing up in Washington, D.C., he had access to "a number of Black-owned bookstores" and that when working in a bookstore during college, "I saw the impact it had on people every day." At that point, "having a bookstore became my goal. The entire idea was to create something where people had access to their culture, they felt celebrated, they felt empowered."

Ramunda Young called MahoganyBooks "a business with soul, and it has our soul intertwined with our customers' souls and energy and intention and our ancestors' souls and intention. When I think about sitting in this space, centuries ago that our ancestors were hung for reading a book that's on our shelves. And here we are sitting in a space where we own the books that are on the shelves. It's a revolutionary act."

Pennie Picks: The Wedding Thief

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Wedding Thief by Mary Simses (Back Bay Books, $16.99, 9780316421621) as her pick of the month for July. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"I'm an only child, so stories about siblings have always intrigued me. It's the relationship between sisters Sara and Mariel that drew me to this month's book buyer's pick, The Wedding Thief by Mary Simses.

"Sara is a Type-A event planner, while Mariel is more free-spirited, and the two have never gotten along. Sara is lured back home, only to find out she's been summoned to help plan Mariel's wedding--to a man she stole from Sara. Sara hatches a plan to ruin the nuptials, but will she change her mind and save the day?"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mike Birbiglia on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mike Birbiglia, author of The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad (Grand Central, $28, 9781538701515).

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

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

TV: Rodham

Hulu has optioned the rights to Curtis Sittenfeld's book Rodham, Variety reported, adding that "the series is described as telling the story of an ambitious young woman, developing her extraordinary mind in the latter part of the 20th century, moving from idealism to cynicism and all the way back again."

Sarah Treem will write the project and exec produce with Warren Littlefield (via the Littlefield Company) and Sittenfeld. Fox 21 Television Studios is producing. Treem was previously the co-creator and showrunner on Showtime's The Affair. Her other credits include In Treatment, House of Cards and How to Make It in America.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pritzker Military Writing Winner

Military historian and author Colonel David M. Glantz won the $100,000 2020 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing, which "recognizes and honors the contributions of a living author for a body of work dedicated to enriching the understanding of military history and affairs."

Author or co-author of more than 60 publications, Glantz is recognized as an expert on the Eastern Front during World War II and the role of the Soviet Union during the conflict. His books include When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler; the Stalingrad Trilogy; The Battle of Kursk; and Operation Barbarossa: Hitler's Invasion of Russia 1941. He founded and was editor of the Journal of Soviet Military Studies in 1988 (now called the Journal of Slavic Military Studies) and is a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of the Russian Federation. He is a recipient of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense's medal "for the Strengthening of Military Cooperation" and the Society for Military History's Samuel Eliot Morison Prize.

"The breadth and depth of Colonel David Glantz's contribution to the military history field makes him an the embodiment of the mission and vision of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library," said Dr. Rob Havers, museum president and CEO. "His work is essential reading for those studying World War II, making him an indispensable part of military history scholarship."

Top Library Recommended Titles for August

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

You Had Me at Hola: A Novel by Alexis Daria (Avon, $15.99, 9780062959928). "This romance by a RITA award-winning writer is a sizzling hot and fun ode to soap operas. Jasmine, a soap opera actor, and Ashton, a telenovela actor, have been cast on a popular TV show that catapults each of them to stardom. They quickly give in to temptation and indulge in a torrid affair that means more to them than either wants to admit. When the paparazzi expose a shocking secret, Jasmine is forced to reevaluate the trust she put in Ashton, and he must to come to grips with his traumatic past. Firmly rooted in Latinx culture, this novel covers issues of language, colorism, and identity while also managing to be upbeat, entertaining, and super-steamy. Recommended for fans of Take a Hint, Dani Brown, Something to Talk About, and Not the Girl You Marry." --Migdali Jimenez, Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Ill.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, $32, 9780593230251). "A magisterial overview of how caste has been implemented in three different places. This is an important look at how the U.S., Nazi Germany, and India implemented caste and how it affects each country. Don't think that this is a dry academic read; Wilkerson is a genius with words and incorporates her own experiences throughout the book. For readers of Stamped and The New Jim Crow." --Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, Va.

The Exiles: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Custom House, $27.99, 9780062356345). "In her extremely readable fashion, Kline has created another masterpiece of historical fiction. This time she takes readers on a journey from England to Australia, where prisoners were exiled in the 19th century. The riveting story becomes personal as Kline engages readers in the individual stories of the enslaved women. Perfect for book groups and fans of Lisa Wingate and Kristin Hannah." --Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Library, Lake Mills, Wis.

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Tor, $26.99, 9781250313225). "This follow-up to Gideon the Ninth is a fantastic gothic mystery, peopled with aristocrats vying to be the Undying Emperor's new Lyctor. Muir switches up the POV, and because Harrow's body and mind are failing her, she's an unreliable narrator. The story moves around in time, so when events from the first book are revisited, the perspective changes. And there's still that looming, unwinnable battle. A rare and beautiful gem for fans of The City We Became and Dune." --Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, Ohio

The Night Swim: A Novel by Megan Goldin (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250219688). "The author has expertly woven the stories of two crimes that occurred in a small town 25 years apart. Rachel, an investigative podcast reporter, is covering the trial of a young man accused of the latest crime. While there, she is pulled into the past by the earlier victim's sister, Hannah, who has been haunted by it for a very long time. For fans of Then She Was Gone and Sometimes I Lie." --Debbie Lease, Hillsdale Public Library, Hillsdale, N.J.

No Offense: A Novel by Meg Cabot (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062890078). "In the second book in the Little Bridge Island series, we meet Molly, a children's librarian who is new to the island, and John, the newly installed island sheriff. Their lives become intertwined when Molly finds a newborn baby in the library bathroom and the two work to find the mother. For readers who enjoy It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis and The Best Man by Kristan Higgins." --Laura Hanson, Waukee Public Library, Waukee, Iowa

The Silent Wife by Karen Slaughter (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062858108). "A brilliantly conceived story about a psychopath that preys on young women and a chance encounter that turns up a connection to another series of unsolved murders years back. A fast-paced, suspenseful thriller for fans of the Kick Lannigan series." --Paul Lane, Palm Beach County Library, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, $28.95, 9781524733452). "Angie runs her own business, Discreet Captures, in Palm Beach, Florida where she traps and relocates wildlife. She receives a call from the caretaker of a local estate about a giant python and manages to remove the snake without offending party guests. But what happened to Kiki Pew, the wealthy hostess who seems to have vanished from the event? For fans of satirical thrillers and Florida." --Linda Tilden, Mt. Laurel Public Library, Mt. Laurel, N.J.

The Switch: A Novel by Beth O'Leary (Flatiron, $16.99, 9781250769862). "Finding herself with a two-week sabbatical from work, Leeana and her grandmother Eileen decide to switch homes for the duration. In London, Eileen starts an affair and builds friendships across generations. In a Yorkshire village, Leena learns how her grandmother is the center of village activity and takes on all Eileen's projects. For fans of Evie Drake Starts Over and The Love Story of Missy Charmichael." --Paula Pergament, Lincolnwood Public Library, Lincolnwood, Ill.

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim (Berkley, $16, 9781984803276). "Vanessa is an accountant with the power of clairvoyance. She travels to a tea shop in Paris to learn to control her predictions with the help of her Aunt Evelyn. There, she finds a new purpose by connecting the people around her and just might find true love for herself. Sweet, romantic, and cozy. For readers who enjoyed Number One Chinese Restaurant and Kitchens of the Great Midwest." --Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Md.

Book Review

Review: The Shame

The Shame by Makenna Goodman (Milkweed Editions, $15 paperback, 160p., 9781571311368, August 11, 2020)

The Shame, Makenna Goodman's brooding debut novel, gives voice to a woman who has left the bustle and consumerism of city life to live off the land and nurture her children--and hates it. Her story is one idealized in many other books (think Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), but her experience doesn't mirror those myths. Despite her supposedly idyllic Vermont country life, Alma's isolated navel-gazing leads her to a desolate place emotionally:

"Yes, I felt invisible. I didn't have anything to show for myself except my kids, and the older they got, the more themselves they became, while I grew more and more servile, adhering always to their changing needs.... I was worried I'd have nothing to say."

In the hours she steals for herself late at night, she begins to write. She finds inspiration in Celeste, a social media personality living in New York City with a seemingly environmentally friendly, culturally rich life complete with young children and fulfilling work. Soon, Alma is obsessed. "I was held fast in her moments. Time was measured not in minutes or hours but in the period between her publications."

Alma convinces herself that her obsession with Celeste is acceptable. It's research, and she can stop checking Celeste's accounts whenever she wants. She's an unreliable narrator, even when telling the story to herself. In reality, it's not research so much as, now that her children are older, time to figure out what her career should look like; she's adrift.

"At that point, when I was granted the rare hour or two of time for myself, I became immediately overwhelmed with fear and discouragement because the worst had happened: I had no idea who I was anymore, or what I liked to do."

Why not emulate someone else's goals, their life, their happiness?

The Shame is told entirely in deep first-person perspective, sinking readers into Alma's small joys and the well of her increasingly dark introspection. Yes, Goodman is telling a story of an escape-to-the-country gone wrong and of Alma's harmful fascination with the entirely cultivated perfect life of a stranger, but perhaps the message here is that one truly can spend too much time in their own head. Alma's self-indulgence and privileged frustration are oddly reassuring at times. Readers will be able to see themselves in her flaws, her good intentions and the spaces in between. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Shelf Talker: Makenna Goodman's The Shame is the brooding story of a mother torn between the realities of the isolated rural life she's made with her family and the fulfilling life she thought she'd have.

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