Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 10, 2020

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

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


Regional Boards: Expanding, Seeking Nominations, Welcoming New Members

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association is expanding its board of directors to nine from seven in order to "add diverse perspectives and improve our representation." It is seeking BIPOC booksellers--who can be owners, managers or frontline staff--to fill the two new seats. All current board members are in the middle of their terms and will continue to serve.

The board is asking for nominations; booksellers can also nominate themselves. For more information, click here. The nomination deadline is September 16.


The Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association has also expanded its board, to nine from seven, and is seeking nominations for the two new seats. The board is looking specifically for members from states that are not currently represented on the board: Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The nomination deadline is September 30.

At its July meeting, the MPIBA board also voted to invite previously nominated bookseller Cristina Rodriguez of Deep Vellum Books, Dallas, Tex., to fill the seat of outgoing member Amanda Sutton of Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.Mex., beginning January 2021.


Two new members will join the board of directors of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance during the association's annual meeting September 24, which will take place during the New Voices New Rooms virtual conference, held jointly with the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

The two are:

Deanna Bailey, who is the buyer for Story on the Square in McDonough, Ga. She went to Marshall University in West Virginia, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Public Relations and a Master's in Health Care Administration; she is currently secretary for Marshall University's Black Alumni. She worked in human resources for mental health homes and flu clinics with a focus on recruitment and hiring before her bookselling career.

Jamie Rogers Southern is the interim executive director, as of October 1, at Bookmarks, the literary nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem, N.C., that in addition to major events and programs has a bookstore. Before Bookmarks, she worked at Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, Ala., and for the American Booksellers Association. She is married to Ed Southern, executive director of the North Carolina Writers Network.

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

How Bookstores Are Coping: Book Sanctuary; Availability Concerns; Threading the Needle

In Petoskey, Mich., McLean & Eakin Booksellers has not fully reopened for walk-in browsing. Instead, owners Matthew and Jessilynn Norcross and their staff are operating by appointment shopping and curbside pick-up, along with mail and web orders. As such, Jessilynn Norcross added, there haven't been any issues with customers refusing to wear masks or failing to follow social distancing guidelines.

"We've asked our staff to really focus on being booksellers," Norcross continued. With the store closed to walk-in customers, they are not asking staff members to be bouncers, scientists, home-schooling experts or anything else but booksellers. The owners' primary focus is the mental health of their staff, so they've tried as much as possible to make the store a "book sanctuary." The idea is that when McLean & Eakin's booksellers come to work, the "rest of the world can go away."

Thanks to the store's loyal customers, the shop has remained very busy. Staff members have been focused on day-to-day tasks such as processing orders, using social media to stay connected with customers, handling customer service, providing recommendations and cleaning up "messy" POS information.

Looking ahead to the holidays, Norcross said, they will focus on fewer titles overall while advertising and marketing those titles more heavily. She noted that the GLIBA Holiday Catalog will be one of those marketing tools, along with Edelweiss 360, as long as the store can get its "customer database cleaned up in time."


Anne Holman, co-owner of The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah, reported that given the store's size, social distancing is "almost impossible," and as there are several high-risk people on staff, the store has not yet reopened for browsing and is still doing curbside pick-up, free local delivery and lots of mailing.

For the most part, she continued, customers have been great, though there have been a few "mild complaints" about the store not being open for browsing yet. Holman attributed those complaints, though, more to wishful thinking than actual anger.

The King's English employees taking precautions

When shutdowns began in earnest in March and April, Holman and her team canceled the store's spring frontlist orders as soon as they "saw what was happening." Looking to the fall, the King's English has placed conservative frontlist orders, focusing on fewer titles overall, with larger quantities of key books. She noted that she and her team are concerned about printing availability for the rest of the year and into 2021.

After protests against systemic racism and police brutality swept the country in late May and early June, Holman said they took the moment as a "call to action" to commit to carrying more diverse titles in every section of the store. As a specific reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, she added, they've posted relevant book lists for all ages on the store's website.


John Evans and Alison Reid, co-owners of DIESEL, a bookstore, with locations in Brentwood and Del Mar, Calif., said their stores have not been strongly affected by the wildfires currently burning in Southern California, but the air is "quite smoky" and things are "threatening." Noting that they've had to close because of past wildfires, Evan said he and the team are keeping a close eye on the situation and staying vigilant.

Evans reported that there haven't been any major issues with customers refusing to wear masks or follow social-distancing guidelines. The worst they've had to deal with, he continued, is just having to remind customers to wear them, and none of the incidents involved anything more than a couple minutes of conversation.

DIESEL Brentwood

Throughout the summer, sales have been down 50%-70%, and earlier this month DIESEL launched a GoFundMe to help the stores weather the storm. The Brentwood store recently opened for browsing for single parties, so sales are starting to improve there, while the Del Mar store has been open for limited numbers of shoppers since early August. That store, though, is less than a year old and was still finding its footing when the pandemic hit. Evans added that they're hoping for a possible second round of PPP funding, but as it stands, with operating costs, rent and overhead staying the same, things are "unsustainable."

Evans has noticed that thanks to the stores' social-distancing protocols, fewer staff members have gotten sick this summer than in years past. That said, the risk of catching the coronavirus is always there, and DIESEL's booksellers have to deal with that anxiety every day.

Looking toward the holidays, Evans said they have pared back orders while trying to keep a good variety of titles available. "We are trying to thread the needle." --Alex Mutter

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

Ayad Akhtar Named PEN America President

(photo: Vincent Tullo)

Effective December 2, Pulitzer-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter Ayad Akhtar is the new president of PEN America. Akhtar, who succeeds Jennifer Egan, has been a PEN America trustee since 2015. In addition to his upcoming novel Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown), Akhtar is the author of American Dervish. His play Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

"Ayad is a dauntless documenter of our time," said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. "His writing across disciplines voices the unspoken and lays bare what many would rather keep cloaked. His willingness to break boundaries and risk backlash make him an especially appropriate leader for PEN America at a time when our collective cultural parameters are being renegotiated. He is a fierce advocate and an embodiment of the role of literature as a catalyst for change."

Akhtar commented: "PEN America has its work cut out for it in an era when the quest for truth is challenged as never before. PEN America has become a powerful bulwark standing for the power of literature to reveal truths and bridge divides, an essential force amid today's overlapping crises. I feel privileged to build on the visionary leadership of Jennifer Egan and to work with PEN America's trustees, staff, and writers to break new ground in fulfillment of our shared mission."

IPC's October Indie Playlists

The themes for the third Indie Playlist book promotion, an initiative created by the Independent Publishers Caucus to support independent bookstores across the country, have been announced: Acts of Courage and The Fight to Save the Environment.

The Acts of Courage playlist contains work from writers like Roxane Gay, Annie Ernaux, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Okey Nbide and many more, while the Fight to Save the Environment playlist features both fiction and nonfiction and explore topics like the Green New Deal, the Rights of Nature and fiction about animal language.

IPC is also running a display contest tied to the October Indie Playlists. Indie booksellers can win "eternal glory" as well as $500 by taking pictures of their Indie Playlists displays and submitting them to by November 10.

The titles are also supported with special terms from Penguin Random House Publisher Services and Ingram Publisher Services. Both PRHP and IPS are providing discounts for indies on the collections' titles between September 15 and October 31.

Tomie dePaola Memorial Set for September 15

A memorial tribute to Tomie dePaola, who died on March 30, will be held next Tuesday, September 15--which would have been dePaola's 86th birthday--at 5:30 p.m. Eastern on Zoom. No registration required.

Speakers (in alphabetical order) include Judie Bobbi, Tomie dePaola's sister; Alan Chong, director, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.; Pat Cummings, illustrator and author and SCBWI Board of Advisors member; Laurent Linn, art director, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and SCBWI Board of Advisors member; Anita Lobel, illustrator and author; Charles Massey, former executive director, Newport Opera House, N.H.; Lin Oliver, author and executive director, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; Doug Whiteman of the Whiteman Agency; Cecilia Yung, executive art director and v-p at Penguin Books for Young Readers and SCBWI Board of Advisors member.


Cool Idea: Broadway Books' Year of Reading Toni Morrison

Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., has begun its Year of Reading Toni Morrison, which includes offering all of Morrison's titles at a 20% discount: the 11 novels, seven children's books and nine nonfiction books that Nobel Laureate Morrison wrote, co-authored or edited, the Oregonian reported. The store will host events related to the Year of Reading Toni Morrison when it can.

This is the second promotion of its kind for the store, which held a Year of Reading James Baldwin that included selling the author's title at a discount and hosting events about Baldwin and his work.

"We really never thought we would be able to come up with another author that hit so many of the right notes," Sally McPherson, who owns the store with Kim Bissell, said. But then they were discussing the 2019 documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am and staff members joined in. "Kim and I looked at each other, and it was just like that Baldwin moment. We knew immediately that Morrison was the obvious choice for another Year of Reading."

'Twas the Night Before Curbside Pickup

"The curbside pickup orders were hung by the booksellers with care, in hopes that the customers soon would be there...," Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., posted on Facebook. "We so appreciate all the curbside pickup orders we've been getting, you all are keeping us going. If you place an order for pickup, keep an eye on your inbox: we'll send you a link to make an appointment once your order is ready!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Nasaw on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: David Nasaw, author of The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594206733).

NPR's All Things Considered: Jacqueline Woodson, author of Before the Ever After (Nancy Paulsen Books, $17.99, 9780399545436).

Today Show: Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, authors of The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything (Clarkson Potter, $28.50, 9780593138304).

Also on Today: Ted Jackson, author of You Ought to Do a Story About Me: Addiction, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Endless Quest for Redemption (Dey Street, $27.99, 9780062935670).

This Weekend on Book TV: Sarah Huckabee Sanders

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, September 12
6:15 p.m. Armstrong Williams, author of What Black and White America Must Do Now: A Prescription to Move Beyond Race (Hot Books, $22.99, 9781510764224).

7:15 p.m. Eric Alterman, author of Lying in State: Why Presidents Lie--And Why Trump Is Worse (Basic Books, $30, 9781541616820). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

8:40 p.m. Carter Page, author of Abuse and Power: How an Innocent American Was Framed in an Attempted Coup Against the President (Regnery, $28.99, 9781684511204). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

9:30 p.m. Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, authors of Trump on Trial: The Investigation, Impeachment, Acquittal and Aftermath (Scribner, $32, 9781982152994). (Re-airs Sunday at 2:25 p.m.)

10 p.m. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, author of Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250271334). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Brian Stetler, author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth (Atria/One Signal, $28, 9781982142445). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:40 p.m.)

Sunday, September 13
12:20 a.m. Rick Tyler, author of Still Right: An Immigrant-Loving, Hybrid-Driving, Composting American Makes the Case for Conservatism (Thomas Dunne, $29.99, 9781250256492), at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:45 p.m.)

1:15 a.m. Richard Kreitner, author of Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316510608), at the Strand in New York City.

3:50 p.m. Susan Hough, author of The Great Quake Debate: The Crusader, the Skeptic, and the Rise of Modern Seismology (University of Washington Press, $29.95, 9780295747361), at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif.

4:45 p.m. Bill Hayes, author of How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic (Bloomsbury, $20, 9781635576887).

5:45 p.m. A discussion on diversity in the publishing industry with Lisa Lucas (National Book Foundation and future Pantheon & Schocken Books), Erroll McDonald (Knopf Doubleday), author Nicole Dennis-Benn, Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary Agency) and Adrienne Brodeur (Aspen Words).

10 p.m. Katie Hill, author of She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality (Grand Central, $28, 9781538737002).

11 p.m. Mark Gevisser, author of The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World's Queer Frontiers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.99, 9780374279967).

Books & Authors

Awards: Women's Fiction Winner; Scotiabank Giller Longlist; Kirkus Finalists

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell has won the £30,000 (about $39,070) 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, the U.K.'s annual book award "celebrating and honouring fiction written by women." Hamnet is set in 1596 and inspired by the life and death of Shakespeare's only son.

Chair of judges Martha Lane Fox said that "Hamnet, while set long ago, like all truly great novels expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring."


The 14-title longlist for the C$100,000 (about US$76,000) 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, honoring "the finest in Canadian fiction," including novels, short story collections and graphic novels, has been announced. The shortlist will be unveiled October 5 and the winner November 9.


The finalists in three categories for the $50,000 2020 Kirkus Prize have been chosen and can be seen here. Winners of the awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony hosted by Kirkus CEO Meg LaBorde Kuehn from the Austin Public Library in Austin, Tex., on November 5.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 15:

Rage by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982131739) is an intimate account of the Trump presidency that is already making headlines.

Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band by Willie Nelson, Bobbie Nelson and David Ritz (Random House, $28, 9781984854131) is a Nelson family memoir.

Grounded: A Senator's Lessons on Winning Back Rural America by Jon Tester (Ecco, $29.99, 9780062977489) is written by Montana's three-term Democratic Senator.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Tor, $29.99, 9781250762849) is adult sci-fi from the author of Eragon.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $27, 9781635575637) is a fantasy set in a mysterious labyrinth.

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780358216766) is based on the NPR podcast How I Built This.

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (Tor Teen, $17.99, 9781250169211) is a YA fantasy about two young women who fall in love as they struggle to survive a magical journey.

I Am One: A Book of Action by Susan Verde, illus. by Peter Reynolds (Abrams, $14.99, 9781419742385), is a picture book about the power of activism.

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L. Sullivan (Bloomsbury, $19.99, 9781547604531) is the memoir of a Muslim teen who survived the Bosnian genocide.

The Silent Conspiracy: A Novel by L.C. Shaw (Harper, $16.99, 9780062950949).

The Librarian of Boone's Hollow: A Novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer (WaterBrook, $17, 9780525653721).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Betty: A Novel by Tiffany McDaniel (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525657071). "In the inspiring novel Betty, Tiffany McDaniel shares a tough and gritty story based primarily on her mother's upbringing. Brimming with a sense of magic in the natural world set against the cruelty and violence within her family, Betty walks us through a childhood filled with both good and evil, and shows us that one can survive and come out the other side in one piece, fractured and whole at the same time. A book that  should be read by all." --Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

Impersonation: A Novel by Heidi Pitlor (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781616207915). "In Impersonation, Heidi Pitlor tackles a lot of big issues and makes it look effortless with her intelligence and humor. Struggling ghostwriter and solo mom Allie is so many of us: trying to do everything right but inevitably feeling as though she's getting it all wrong, unable to get ahead. I couldn't stop turning the pages to see how far she'd go to survive." --Hannah Harlow, Book Shop of Beverly Farms, Beverly, Mass.

The Wright Sister: A Novel by Patty Dann (Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780062993113). "The story of Katharine Wright is told here through imagined letters and diary entries. She has married late in life and as a consequence has been shunned by her brother, Orville. As a devoted confidant and caregiver to both Orville and Wilbur Wright, this is an unexpected blow. The pain of physical and emotional separation comes through clearly. At the same time, we learn about her life, told with frankness, wonder, and humor. A story that will leave readers wanting to know more about this delightful woman." --Susan Hepburn, Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

For Ages 4 to 8
Buttercup the Bigfoot by Douglas Rees, illus. by Isabel Munoz (Holt, $18.99, 9781250209344). "Willa Cathcart Wilmerding is the bravest girl in the world, but even the bravest girl in the world needs a friend. Told with playful prose and illustrated in charming, bright hues, Buttercup the Bigfoot makes for the perfect story time book! Readers will love Willa's outrageous antics and Buttercup's gentle support of her new best friend. And, of course, everyone will want to join them and howl at the moon! Aaa-oo-eee-oo-yaaah!" --Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
The Places We Sleep by Caroline DuBois (Holiday House, $16.99, 9780823444212). "This middle grade novel-in-verse follows Abbey, the only child in a military family who is adjusting to a new school for the 2001-2002 school year. On September 11, Abbey gets her first period. Abbey grapples with love and loss, family and friends, finding her passion, and connecting to her parents. A beautiful book that effectively captures the post-9/11 world from a 12-year-old's perspective." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

For Teen Readers
Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston (Quirk Books, $18.99, 9781683691938). "I devoured this book in one perfect sitting. I relished every bit of Rosie and Vance's hard-won romance, every cozy moment in the library, and the Howl's Moving Castle references. There's just nothing out there quite like the Once Upon a Con series; it's geeky, witty, and genuinely comforting." --Anna Bright, One More Page Books, Arlington, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Straight from the Horse's Mouth by Meryem Alaoui, trans. by Emma Ramadan (Other Press, $16.99 paperback, 304p., 9781892746795, September 15, 2020)

Contemporary Morocco is the setting for Meryem Alaoui's lively debut novel about a sex worker with an indomitable spirit. In Straight from the Horse's Mouth, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, Jmiaa introduces herself by saying, "To live, I use what I've got." And what she's got, beside her body, is moxie to spare. Jmiaa admonishes readers, "You only have one life. What's the point of filling it with nothing?"

She fills her life with television, drinking and, obviously, her work. Jmiaa relates her experiences as a sex worker with brutal honesty and a shrug, but she never sees herself as a victim. "You need balls to be able to do this work," she says proudly. She lives with Halima, another sex worker who frustrates Jmiaa with her defeatism. Halima was respectable before circumstances led her to Jmiaa's tiny, squalid apartment, and she seems to be wallowing in her fate, to Jmiaa's disapproving eye. "Her main problem is that she's not a capable woman.... How many people do you know who are so incompetent that they suffer a single, fatal fall?... I say that if it happens to you, it's because you're not looking in front of you and you're moving forward like a donkey."

Jmiaa is determined to keep her own eyes open for opportunities to move forward. So, when she's tapped to play a sex worker in an indie film being shot in her neighborhood, she jumps at it. "I'm tired of being alone and cycling through the problems tangled up in my head like the yarn in a ball of wool," she says. Unsurprisingly, her larger-than-life personality transfers to the big screen, and she experiences a life she was sure she was meant for all along.

Jmiaa isn't entirely likable. She pays scant attention to her preteen daughter, whom Jmiaa sends to live with her mother so that she has more freedom. She can fight like a feral cat if she needs to, yet her charisma never flags. This is a funny and profane book; joyful in its celebration of a life lived expansively and filled with the sights and sounds of Casablanca. It also introduces a confident female character comfortable with choices that may seem--to those more privileged--unsavory and unwise. Straight from the Horse's Mouth received critical acclaim when it was first published in France, and will be equally welcome in this ebullient English translation. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

Shelf Talker: This novel of a year in the life of a brassy, clever Moroccan sex-worker is funny and profane, rich with the sights and sounds of Casablanca.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in August

The following were the most popular book club books during August based on votes from book club readers in more than 90,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)
2. American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron)
3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Putnam)
4. The Guest List: A Novel by Lucy Foley (Morrow)
5. The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett (Harper)
6. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Penguin Press)
7. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)
8. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon)
9. The Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman)
10. Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate (Ballantine)

Rising Stars:
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press)
This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger (Atria)

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