Also published on this date: Monday, August 10 Dedicated Issue: Sharjah Book Authority

Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 10, 2020

Atria Books: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: Deluxe Edition by Taylor Jenkins Reid

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Ace Books: Toto by AJ Hackwith and The Village Library Demon-Hunting Society by CM Waggoner

 Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

Webtoon Unscrolled: Age Matters Volume Two by Enjelicious

St. Martin's Press:  How to Think Like Socrates: Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life in the Modern World  by Donald J Robertson

Quotation of the Day

A Bookseller's Passion: 'Providing Food and Books for Kids'

"The love generated by my grandmother (she had to drop out of school when she was 14 years old) who walked me to my first library because she knew Rep. John Lewis and other Blacks were denied a library card. Rep. John Lewis, as was my grandmother, was told that libraries were for whites only and she was powerfully determined to see that I got a library card and read every book in that library. Those librarians took me in their heart and when I would walk without my grandmother, having gone without food for that day, they fed me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I will always for the rest of my life thank them for feeding me books and food. It's my passion in life to continue to support all independent bookstores and libraries and provide food and books for kids."

--VaLinda Miller, owner of Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek, S.C., in response to a question in a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance q&a about passions that carry over into her bookselling life


NYC's Bluestockings Finds New Location, Launches Fundraiser

Bluestockings, the collectively owned radical bookstore, cafe and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which announced last month it needed to relocate, has found a new site several blocks away, at 116 Suffolk St. The store has launched a GoFundMe campaign to finance the renovation of the space, make it fully accessible and upgrade technology. In three days, the campaign has raised more than $12,000 toward its $150,000 goal.

On the campaign site, the store noted that a June fundraiser brought in enough money to put down a security deposit on the new space, which is double the size of its old space, but that Bluestockings has "a lot of work ahead of us to make our new location into a home for our queer, trans, and SWing family."

Bluestockings' future home

That work will include "a fully ADA-compliant bathroom, expanded café seating, lower café countertops, clear exit paths and wider aisles. We are excited to have more space and need your help to install a platform lift in our cafe area to make sure that our disabled comrades are able to take full advantage of the space."

In addition, the store plans to replace its "very outdated software system" and "reopen with a new POS and inventory system to make ordering from Bluestockings as easy as possible."

The store noted that the new location's "extra room also gives us the opportunity to have a much needed area dedicated exclusively to events and meetings for our friends who run book clubs, labor organizers, and anyone else who utilizes Bluestockings as a hub for radical thought."

Bluestockings said in July that it is leaving its site at 172 Allen Street because of "many unforeseen circumstances both pandemic-related and otherwise," including "the demands of our landlord for more money and by their inaction on necessary repairs to the structural damage our wild little slice of space has endured over these last 21 years."

The Collective Book Studio: Women's Voices Non-Fiction Coming Fall 2024

Second Annual Bookstore Romance Day to Feature Virtual Programming

The second annual Bookstore Romance Day, a nationwide celebration of the romance genre on the part of independent bookstores, takes place this Saturday. According to event organizer and bookseller Billie Bloebaum, more than 175 stores are participating this year, marking a 10% increase over the celebration's inaugural year.

Bloebaum noted that last year, Bookstore Romance Day promoted stores' events and shared ideas and marketing assets, but did not do any programming itself as participating stores around the country hosted their own parties. Because of the pandemic, of course, BRD has pivoted to a lineup of all virtual events, which the organization is hosting. This year, stores can share BRD's events, link sales to their own website and have a full day of programming.

Bookstore Romance Day ambassador Meg Cabot

Things will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern on Saturday with an official opening and welcome from Bookstore Romance Day ambassador Meg Cabot. From there, virtual sessions will take place almost every hour on the hour until 7 p.m.

A plethora of romance authors will be involved, representing YA romance, adult romance and plenty of subgenres. Participating authors include Talia Hibbert, Mona Shroff, Sarah Morgethaler, Suzanne Park, RaeAnne Thayne, Lucas Rocha, Jacyi Lee and many more. Festivities will conclude on Sunday at 7 p.m. with a watch party for The Princess Diaries, featuring a guest appearance by Cabot.

"I think that people need what romance has to offer right now--namely a guaranteed Happily Ever After," remarked Bloebaum. And while changing to a fully virtual schedule was a challenge, she said, "I think Bookstore Romance Day has a lot of really amazing things happening this year, and I am very, very proud of what has been accomplished."

International Update: Staycations Help U.K. Indies, Challenges for Booksellers in Bangladesh

A rise in staycations in the U.K. is helping counter some of the early losses suffered by independent booksellers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Bookseller reported that "an increasing number of British holiday makers have been choosing to stay at home or travel within the U.K. this summer, which independent bookshops located in tourist destinations believe they are now benefiting from."

Ellen Cammack, manager of Bookends in Keswick, said the town "is a very busy place for tourists and this is always our busiest time of year. Since the restrictions on accommodation were lifted a few weeks ago we have been very busy, compared to earlier when we were obviously much quieter than normal. The town itself is very busy and there seem to be a lot of day visitors coming up on weekends.... I definitely think there are more staycationers. To be honest I think we're taking about the same as the last year or two at this time of year; there are more people around but having a limit on people coming into the shop will have an effect. But I feel those who are making the effort to come in the shop are more likely to buy something than usual."

Chris Painton, co-founder of Serendip in Lyme Regis, said: "We started to see a number of visitors from about July 10 or so and business has picked up markedly. We expect July as a whole to be at about 75%-80% of last year which is pretty good given the sluggish start to the month."

Ron Johns, who owns bookshops in Falmouth, St. Ives and Padstow, noted: "We're busy--not as busy as we would normally be but we are busy. Around four weeks ago we were looking at 80% down on turnover per week, now it's gradually going up and up. Last week we were 40% down, I expect that to get up to only 10% or 15% down in the next few weeks. Having lots of people [visit] is helping, and I do think we are getting more people in. Compared to a month ago, it's been miraculous, we've gone from the doldrums of hardly anybody, to nearly a feeling of overload."


In Bangladesh, the ongoing pandemic "has compelled nearly 10% of the country's bookstores to shut their operations due to a drastic fall in income," the Daily Star reported. Among them was Redwanur Rahman Jewel's Nalonda bookshop, which opened last year but was shuttered July 27 "after failing to sustain the business following a nosedive in sales during the recently concluded nationwide shutdown."

"Not one book enthusiast showed up and so, we could not make a single penny during the lockdown while the situation was similar in June," Jewel said. "So, we decided to shut down the business as it is not possible to carry on while incurring heavy losses every month."

With in-store sales declining and many customers opting for deliveries, "several sellers have shifted their focus to online sales and home delivery," the Daily Star noted, adding that chain bookseller Batighar is "working to open an online retail platform for its products."

"We would have established an online store two years later but now, we are doing this as fast as possible because of the current circumstances," said owner Dipankar Das, who observed that while the company's sales began to pick up in June, those who operate on a small scale are in serious trouble and even on the verge of closure. "Many things would become clear when the pandemic is over. I am afraid we may not see many publishers at next year's Boi Mela [book fair]." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Bernard Bailyn

Bernard Bailyn, the historian and Harvard professor who won two Pulitzers, a Bancroft Prize and a National Book Award, died on Friday. He was 97.

In his teaching and in his more than 20 books, he "reshaped the study of early American history with seminal works on merchants and migrants, politics and government, and recast the study of the origins of the American Revolution," the New York Times wrote.

His best known work was The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, published in 1967, which "challenged the then-dominant view of Progressive Era historians like Charles Beard, who saw the founders' revolutionary rhetoric as a mask for economic interests." The book's study of pre-Revolutionary political pamphlets, the Times wrote, "revealed a striking pattern. Though the colonists opposed taxes, restrictions on trade and other economic measures, and were frustrated with their subordinate status in British society, it was a fundamental distrust of government power, in Professor Bailyn's view, that led them to throw off the colonial yoke.

"The colonists had inherited this ideology from opposition politicians and writers in England, he argued. But it became particularly potent in the relative isolation of the American colonies, where unpopular policies enacted an ocean away were interpreted as signs of a corrupt conspiracy to deny colonists their freedom." The book led generations of historians to consider ideological interpretations in early U.S. history.

His other works include The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (1975), a biography of the last colonial governor of Massachusetts; Voyagers to the West (1987), about the nearly 10,000 British immigrants to North America in the 1770s; and The Barbarous Years (2013), about the period between the founding of Jamestown and King Philip's War. In April, Norton published Bailyn's Illuminating History: A Retrospective of Seven Decades, an intellectual memoir.

Known for his rigorous scholarship and elegant prose, the Times wrote, "within the profession, Professor Bailyn was a frequent critic of overspecialization, abstraction and politicized 'presentism'--interpreting past events in terms of modern thinking and values. For him, it was essential to respect the strangeness and pastness of the past, and to see it, as much as possible, on its own terms."

He was criticized for focusing on leaders and the elite in society. In response, the Times noted, Bailyn "often spoke against what he called the 'fashionable' tendency to excoriate the American founders, whom he called, for all their faults, 'one of the most creative groups in history.' " In 2010, he said that the founders "gave us the foundations of our public life. Their world was very different from ours, but, more than any other country, we live with their world and with what they achieved."


Indies Celebrate National Book Lovers Day

Yesterday was National Book Lovers Day, and many indie bookstores marked the occasion on social media, including:

Roundabout Books, Bend, Ore.: "Happy National Book Lovers Day! A time to pick up a book and read. Find solace in fiction, nonfiction, children's graphic novels, and more. We've got you covered, so stop by!"

Booktowne, Manasquan, N.J.: "It’s National Book Lover’s Day!! Booktowne loves our books and all our loyal, supportive customers. What’s your book love look like?? How big is your TBR pile?! Need a recommendation?! Just stop in!!"

Arts & Letters Bookstore, Granbury, Tex.: "Happy #NationalBookLoversDay! Celebrate by stopping in and picking out a new must-read! In the meantime, enjoy this brief pictorial tour of our store!"

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, Middletown, Conn.: "It's #NationalBookLoversDay! What book do you find yourself reaching for again and again?"

The Novel Neighbor, St. Louis, Mo.: "Happy Book Lovers Day! To celebrate, we'd love to hear your answers to the weirdest thing you've ever used as a bookmark. Right now Grace is using her to-do list (from a month ago...) and Zoe is using a receipt, index card, and pen. Are we continuously surrounded by much cuter options? Yes. Are we now buying said cuter options? Also yes."

High Five Books, Florence, Mass.: "For #nationalbookloversday, I want to share my first TRUE book love: The Sleepover Friends series. (Is #sleepoverfriendsforever a real hash tag? I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE, fellow SFfans.) Be honest: What's the first book you REALLY lost your heart over?"

From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Wellsboro, Pa.: "HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalBookLoversDay. Sit back, relax and READ! Don't forget to share the joy of reading with young people in your life. Inspire them with your favorite novel or find out about the last book they took off the shelf. Read to the littlest of the up and coming readers, too. And share what you're reading with us, too! Need more ways to celebrate? We've got them! Shop for a new title to read or explore the shelves for one you would like to give. Explore the shelves of used book stores. You might find an out of print tome that might become the highlight of your collection. Record a video of you reading a story for a child in your life. Randomly give a book to someone. Use #NationalBookLoversDay to post on social media and spread the word."

Bookseller Moment: Point Reyes Books

In a nostalgic mood, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station, Calif., posted on Facebook: "This is a picture from the before times (long before). We're missing the rhythm and ease of a busy weekend day, the evenings spent crammed together listening to a poet or a presentation or a fiddle, and the bottom half of your faces. But it's been nice to see you in small groups since we re-opened last month, and we'll take what we can get. It's been a while since we asked: what are you reading these days?"

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Allison Lewis has joined Sourcebooks as marketing specialist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Adrienne Bankert on Tamron Hall

Today Show: Carolyn Durand, co-author of Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family (Dey Street, $27.99, 9780063046108).

Tamron Hall: Adrienne Bankert, author of Your Hidden Superpower: The Kindness That Makes You Unbeatable at Work and Connects You with Anyone (HarperCollins, $24.99, 9781400218141).

The View repeat: Michael Osterholm, co-author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (Little, Brown Spark, $17.99, 9780316343756).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Yiyun Li, author of Must I Go: A Novel (Random House, $28, 9780399589126).

Movies: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

The first trailer has been released for Charlie Kaufman's I'm Thinking of Ending Things, based on the book by Iain Reid, IndieWire reported. Directed and written by Kaufman (Adaptation; Synecdoche, New York), the project stars Jessie Buckley, Jesse Plemons, Toni Collette and David Thewlis.

"It's safe to say this is no traditional adaptation, however," IndieWire wrote. Kaufman "is working for the first time with Lukasz Zal, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer of Ida and Cold War, shooting in the square Academy ratio." The movie premieres on Netflix September 4.

"I'm not setting out to do something that 'tops' some sort of brainteaser I might have done before," Kaufman recently told Entertainment Weekly. "But there's no question that I'm trying to build on the stuff that I've already done."

Regarding his choice of Buckley (Chernobyl, Wild Rose), Kaufman said, "It was one of those things where you see somebody who's not yet known, and you go, 'Oh my God, I have to get this person'.... She's present with whatever is happening. Whatever she does, it's real. It happens in reaction to the thing that she's given."

Books & Authors

Awards CWA Dagger Shortlists

The Crime Writers Association has unveiled shortlists in 10 categories for the 2020 Dagger Awards, which honor the best books in the crime writing genre. The winners of the 2020 Daggers will be named at an awards ceremony, scheduled to take place on October 22. Check out the complete CWA Dagger shortlisted titles here.

CWA chair Linda Stratmann said: "As the CWA Daggers are unmatched for their reputation and longevity, these shortlists offer a showcase of the finest writing in crime fiction and non-fiction. They reveal the remarkable variety and huge relevance of the genre, which continues to dominate book sales and to shape our cultural landscape."

Book Review

Review: Red Pill

Red Pill by Hari Kunzru (Knopf, $27.95 hardcover, 304p., 9780451493712, September 1, 2020)

What appears to be an average midlife crisis for an agitated midcareer male writer tumbles headlong toward existential apocalypse in Hari Kunzru's engrossing, mind-bending sixth novel, Red Pill. It is his second work (after White Tears) to borrow its name from an Internet meme, whose compressed implications he nimbly unpacks and grapples with through a mounting haze of terror.

From the outset, the narrator is sleepless and skeptical of the high-minded Deuter Center in Wannsee, Germany, where he has taken up a fellowship in both an effort to find himself and produce a book about the Self. His desire for privacy, however, conflicts with the establishment's utopian ideals of openness. So, instead of working under scrutiny in the glass-walled workroom with the other fellows, he hides away in his room, where he videocalls his wife and daughter back in New York, eats Chinese takeout and binges the police drama Blue Lives.

His already addled mind seizes on the unusually violent show: he begins recognizing 18th-century philosophy embedded in the characters' nihilistic monologues--the same kind of Romantic thinkers he's been circling in his own work, like Heinrich von Kleist, whose grave lies in the vicinity of Wannsee, and whom he describes as "a man desperately stabbing himself with the needle of his own personality in an attempt to get a response." Abject as the image is, can he relate?

As in Gods Without Men, Kunzru takes his time to establish the true stakes of this novel, which emerge organically from a scatterplot of dilemmas about privacy and openness, surveillance and security, paranoia and gaslighting, collective good and individual glory. But it all snaps into an anxious overdrive when the narrator enters an unlikely but ruthless showdown of ideas with Anton, the dapper American creator of Blue Lives, whose subliminal messaging may be trying to unlock a brutal future world. "You know what the best part is?" Anton laughs after performing an esoteric Nazi salute. "I'm going to be living rent free in your head from now on."

Amid the rising tide of nationalist politics worldwide, Kunzru has intrepidly traversed the festering neofascist underbelly of the Internet Age so readers don't have to. Red Pill is a virtuosic portrait of the moment. Yet even as it asserts, "An argument at a party isn't any kind of action, neither can it bring about some particular version of the future, nor prevent it from coming to pass," the novel illuminates, alarmingly but with resiliency, the raw power of strange and fragile thoughts. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In a paranoid philosophical showdown, with real-world stakes, a writer in midlife crisis grapples with a neo-Nazi embedding esoteric messaging in a popular television drama.

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