Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Flatiron Books: The Last One at the Wedding by Jason Rekulak

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

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

Hanover Square Press: The Dallergut Dream Department Store (Original) by Miye Lee, Translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

Nosy Crow: Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Joe Todd-Stanton and Kieran Larwood

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Haunted Road Atlas: Next Stop: More Chilling and Gruesome Tales from and That's Why We Drink by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz


Chicago's Exile in Bookville Building Virtual Community

Javier Ramirez and Kristin Enola Gilbert

Javier Ramirez and Kristin Enola Gilbert have launched Exile in Bookville, the independent bookstore they plan to open in Chicago, Ill. While the co-owners don't expect to have a bricks-and-mortar space of their own until early 2022, the store is already selling books through its Bookshop affiliate page, hosting virtual events and building community. 

Exile in Bookville will "lean heavily" on fiction, Ramirez reported. He's worked as a bookseller in Chicago for decades and plans to highlight the work of the many local authors he's met over the years. Small and independent presses will be another area of emphasis, and although Ramirez described himself as a "general fiction" guy, he's been exploring nonfiction in recent years.

Gilbert and Ramirez are also both music lovers. The store's name, in fact, is a reference to Liz Phair's 1993 debut album, Exile in Guyville, which was recorded in Chicago. The co-owners plan to make music a big component of their store. They'll feature plenty of titles about music history and musicians they love, and will carry some vinyl and have a turntable in store. Already they've had local musicians and music writers curate booklists on the store's Bookshop page, and they hope to host events featuring musicians and music writers. Once Exile in Bookville has a physical space, and if in-store events "ever do happen again," they'd love to host  smaller live music events and do things like pair author readings with albums.

"That's integral to who we are, this idea of music and literature," said Gilbert. She and Ramirez want to create a "collaborative and comfortable space for two types of arts that we think are agreeable with each other."

Ramirez and Gilbert are looking for a space, though they don't expect to set up shop any time soon. In terms of timeline, it's a matter of "letting the world settle down." When asked what their ideal storefront would look like, both said they would prefer a smaller and more intimate space. Ramirez pointed out that he's worked at stores of all sizes, from huge stores to tiny ones, and he feels that more intimate spaces make things easier for both customers and proprietors. And on the subject of neighborhoods, Ramirez noted that when City Lit Books closes at the end of this year, it will leave a "huge gap" in Logan Square.

Until Gilbert and Ramirez find a physical space, they will continue selling books through their Bookshop page and hosting online events. For those events, they are trying to "mix it up a little bit," with roundtable discussions featuring booksellers and authors. They're also hosting virtual rep nights and, in honor of Halloween coming up, they've done discussions around horror novels and horror movies.

Gilbert and Ramirez did not know each other until March of this year. Gilbert, whose background is in academia and is a professor of criminology, was one of Ramirez's customers at his previous bookstore Madison Street Books. She lived right down the street from that bookstore and this spring wanted to pick up Kate Elizabeth Russell's novel My Dark Vanessa. The store didn't have it in stock, and when they offered to order it for Gilbert, who was in a hurry, she said something along the lines of there being plenty of other bookstores in Chicago. In hindsight, Gilbert said, she realized she sounded "like such a bitch," and made a point of going back to buy the book and support Madison Street.

Over time, Gilbert continued, she and Ramirez got to know each other and realized that they shared not only very similar tastes in books and music but also had similar ideas about community and what the ideal bookstore would look like. The seed of starting their own bookstore was planted, she recalled, and eventually they decided to go for it, despite the "crazy economic and social unrest" going on. Though it might be a while until they have a bricks-and-mortar space, being online-only has allowed them to start building this bookstore "in the eyes and mold of its community" as a "collaborative endeavor." --Alex Mutter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Printing Errors Force Recall of Some Copies of A Time for Mercy

At least some copies of A Time for Mercy by John Grisham contain printing errors so extensive that Doubleday has recalled copies and is replacing them. The book's pub date was last Tuesday, October 13.

The publisher commented: "Doubleday has discovered some defective copies in the first printing of John Grisham's A Time for Mercy. We are currently working with our accounts to replace inventory, and have already begun shipping out corrected copies."

One bookseller who is receiving replacement copies tomorrow described the printing errors as including "pages in the wrong order and some repeated with chapter numbers following themselves." The books were printed in the U.S.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Robin Wood Joins Binc as Communications & Marketing Specialist

Robin Wood

Robin Wood has joined the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) as communications & marketing specialist. She most recently worked at Books & Books @ The Studios, Key West, Fla., where since 2016 she has been frontline bookseller, social media manager and associate manager.

Before joining the book industry, Wood worked in communication and public relations and is principal of Punctuate Communications, a public relations consultancy specializing in helping small businesses and nonprofits communicate effectively.

She is working primarily from her home offices in Key West and Albany, N.Y., but once it is safe to resume regular travel, Wood will spend time in Binc's Ann Arbor, Mich., office as needed. She may be reached via e-mail or via phone at 734-441-6046.

Binc executive director Pam French said Wood's "experience and expertise in public relations, media communication and strategic communication planning will further help Binc respond to the rapid growth we've seen in 2020 while also helping to prepare the Foundation for new initiatives to better serve the comic and book communities."

How Bookstores Are Coping: Skyku; Cautious Optimism for Holidays

In Columbia, Mo., Skylark Bookshop is still offering shopping by appointment, and owner Alex George and his team have started allowing people without appointments to browse if there are no other customers in the store, or if those customers agree. Masks are still required, as is hand sanitizer, and all handled books are quarantined for 72 hours. 

George noted that appointments have become increasingly popular and visitors have "cheerfully complied" with the store's requirements. Most, he added, have been very grateful that the store is doing so much to keep people safe. When the weather has been good, George and his team have been keeping the store door open with a chain across it, which allows them to control entry. The team frequently asks customers to come back in five or ten minutes, and "almost everyone does."

Columbia is a university town, which George said has both "perils and benefits." The start of the term saw a significant rise in new Covid cases, which caused a "degree of panic among locals" but also led to wider appreciation of the store's precautions. Things appear to be under control now, George continued, and "we're enjoying welcoming new students in to discover the store."

Prior to the pandemic, Skylark Bookshop had never planned on having an IndieCommerce site, but the pandemic "forced our hand." The store is now shipping books across the country, and George hopes that trend will increase.

Skylark's skyku bookmarks

In July the store began a series of weekly virtual author talks, which the staff has named "Must Read TV." While it's been a ton of work, he said, it's been "huge fun." They've hosted some fantastic authors, and attendance has been great, though they are still working on ways to translate these events into meaningful sales. One thing they've started doing is asking participating authors to compose a haiku, which the store then turns into limited-edition bookmarks that are signed and numbered. The store then includes the bookmarks with purchases of that author's books, on a first-come, first-served basis. They're called Skyku, and customers have loved them.

The Skylark team has yet to "vigorously" encourage customers to start holiday shopping early, but there have been many internal conversations about it. George said they've approached holiday ordering this year "with a fair degree of caution," with the store "going in hard" on some of the more obvious titles. At the same time, they're "engaging deeply" with their in-store blacklist and figuring out how to present existing stock to tempt holiday buyers. Normally, the store significantly increases its sideline inventory for the holidays, but Skylark won't be doing that this year.

George and his booksellers are also looking for other ways to entice customers, including creating a special holiday version of their subscription program, which would help people buy "one-off gifts for everyone on this list."


Mara Panich-Crouch, manager of Fact & Fiction Bookstore in Missoula, Mont., reported that the store reopened for browsing in June with limited occupancy and a variety of other safety measures in place. Montana was one of the first states in the country to allow non-essential retailers to reopen after mandatory shutdowns, but Panich-Crouch and her team decided to wait, and did curbside pickup only between April and June.

As the store is fairly small, Panich-Crouch noted, adopting new safety measures has not been a huge adjustment. She added that Missoula and the state government issued mask mandates fairly early on, and they continue to be in place. Missoula is a "mostly progressive town," especially the downtown area in which the store is located, so she and her team have experienced only a few quiet grumblings about masks. The vast majority of customers have been supportive and appreciative of the store's safety measures. (Concerning tensions about masks in another Montana town, nearby Hamilton, see story below.)

The bright spot amid all this, she continued, has been the increased traffic to the store's website. While that was initially overwhelming, as the store had to reorganize its "inefficient" online orders process, it has led to a steady stream of online orders that continued even after the store reopened its doors. Fact & Fiction plans to continue encouraging customers near and far to use the website.

Panich-Crouch said the store has approached holiday ordering with "cautious optimism" this year. They are working to stock up on titles they think will be huge, and they've started a push for early holiday shopping. --Alex Mutter

Montana's Chapter One Quoted in New York Times Mask Tensions Article

A New York Times feature yesterday entitled "Mask Mandate? In a Montana Town, It 'Puts Us at Odds with Customers,' " explores "a tightrope" business owners in Hamilton have to walk between "keeping people safe from the coronavirus and not driving them away." The situation was created in part because the sheriff and county commissioners said they would not enforce the governor's mandate for people to wear masks in public.

Two of the businesspeople quoted are the owners of Chapter One Book Store. Shawn Wathen said, "It's quite exhausting. If we could go one day and not have to talk about masks--that would be just quite astonishing."

Mara Lynn Luther added: "The governor's order was supposed to handle that for us so that we could focus on staying open as a business, right? And that's so frustrating."

And Luther shared a touching story. The Times described it this way: "Recently, an elderly woman came in and lashed out when she was told that the store required masks. Instead of kicking out her longtime customer or using harsh words, Ms. Luther asked if the woman was OK. The two chatted, and Ms. Luther learned that the woman, unable to see facial expressions, was genuinely frightened to see people in masks. Now when the woman comes in, Ms. Luther said, she masks without complaint.

" 'Do we always share the same views and values as our whole community? No,' Ms. Luther said. 'But for years we've just kept these lines of communication open and really made an effort to never make someone feel like we shut the door on them.' "

A Year After Purchase, Wildsam Expands Publishing Program

A year after the purchase of Wildsam, publisher of the Wildsam Field Guides, by Arcadia Publishing, Wildsam is expanding its publishing program, moving from publishing two titles annually to 18 titles annually.

Areas of growth include the American Road Trip series, with new road trip guides for California and Texas recently released, and the Pacific Northwest coming in February 2021. Wildsam just launched a National Park series, starting with the Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains. And Wildsam continues to add to its flagship City Guide series, publishing new books about Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle. Wildsam has also published a special edition Field Guide to the Moon, in the style of its signature travel books.

"Americans are traveling abroad less--they are seeking adventures closer to home--and Wildsam publishes the perfect books for people seeking a deep and authentic experience of a place," said Arcadia Publishing CEO David Steinberger.

Arcadia is perhaps best known for its Images of America series, as well as the food series American Palate and supernatural-themed series Haunted America. It also owns Pelican Press, started an Arcadia Children's Books division and brought in Walter Isaacson as a senior advisor and editor-at-large.

Under founder and editor-in-chief Taylor Bruce, Wildsam has expanded its editorial staff and expanded working with writers such as Annette Gordon-Reed, Rebecca Makkai, Feminista Jones, Rick Bass, Hanif Abdurraqib and poet Patricia Smith.


The Book on Books: Reading Group Choices 2021

Reading Group Choices 2021: Selections for Lively Book Discussions, the 27th annual edition of the guide to book club picks, is now available from Reading Group Choices for $7.95 and can be purchased on its website.

The 50 recommended titles are in three sections: fiction, nonfiction and young adult. For each title, the guide offers bibliographic information as well as review excerpts, information about the author and conversation starters for book club discussions.

Titles featured in Reading Group Choices 2021 include Afterlife by Julia Alvarez, A Girl Is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir by Wayétu Moore, The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom and Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Reading Group Choices owner Mary Morgan offers lovely commentary on book groups in 2020 as part of her introduction in the book: "In what has been a challenging year, it is wonderful to see how creative and industrious book groups have become to meet virtually or physically distanced, and how many are reconsidering their approach to choosing books to find a new standard for equal distribution of authors across race and gender. This time has reconfirmed our belief in the importance of discussing literature and sharing opinions. Book groups are not just about books, but about the relationships we share with our fellow readers."

Reading Group Choices offers a searchable book database on its website, and new monthly recommendations and giveaways on its website and in its monthly e-newsletter.

'October Is the New December': Avid Bookshop

"Another #avidspookychristmas illustration is here!" Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., posted on Facebook. "We wanted a playful way to encourage you to minimize stress by starting your holiday shopping early this year. Boo! More interested in making sure your loved ones buy you books instead of random crap you don't need? Log into (create an account if you don't have one--it's easy and free), and start adding to your personal wishlist. Share the link with the fam at any time and explain gently that, if they're giving gifts this year, you'd prefer for them to get you something from your favorite bookshop."

Personnel Changes at Third Place Books

Kalani Kapahua
(photo: Sarah Kapahua)

Kalani Kapahua has been promoted to manager of the Third Place Books location in Ravenna, in Seattle, Wash. Kapahua has been a bookseller at Third Place Books for more than six years, most recently as offsite events manager at the Lake Forest Park location. He succeeds Michael Coy, who retired this past July.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books, said Kapahua "brings a thoughtful calmness to all aspects of his job and is adored by his coworkers, the authors he works with and our colleagues in the publishing world."

Before joining Third Place Books, Kapahua studied creative writing at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently graduated from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute. He was previously a featured playwright at the American Repertory Theater's Annual Young Playwright's Festival, and is currently a contributing reviewer at The International Examiner and serves as a judge for the Washington State Book Awards.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Natalie Portman on GMA, the View

Today Show: Ali Rogin, author of Beat Breast Cancer Like a Boss: 30 Powerful Stories (Diversion, $17.99, 9781635767131).

Good Morning America: Natalie Portman, co-author of Natalie Portman's Fables (Feiwel & Friends, $19.99, 9781250246868). She will also be on the View tomorrow.

Today Show: Steve Madden, author of The Cobbler (Radius Book Group $26.99, 9781636766950).

Drew Barrymore Show: Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed (The Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258). She will also appear on Watch What Happens Live.

Ellen: Chasten Buttigieg, author of I Have Something to Tell You: A Memoir (Atria, $27, 9781982138127).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).

TV: Interior Chinatown

Hulu is developing a TV series based on Charles Yu's novel Interior Chinatown, with the author adapting his own work. Variety reported that "sources describe the deal for the book, brokered by UTA, as highly competitive, with Participant and Dan Lin's Rideback on board to produce."

Yu will executive produce alongside Lin, Lindsey Liberatore and Elsie Choi for Rideback, and Miura Kite for Participant. Variety noted that Yu "already has ample writing experience in the TV space, having penned episodes of HBO's Westworld, FX's Legion, AMC's Lodge 49 and Facebook's Sorry for Your Loss."

Books & Authors

Awards: Barry, Max Ritvo Poetry Winners

The winners of the 2020 Barry Awards, announced during this year's virtual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, are:

Best Mystery/Crime Novel: The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Best First Mystery/Crime Novel: The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup
Best Paperback Original Mystery/Crime Novel: Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina
Best Thriller: The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade: Suspect by Robert Crais


Michael Kleber-Diggs won the 2020 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize for his manuscript, Worldly Things. The award honors "the legacy of one of the most original and accomplished poets to debut in recent years, and to reward outstanding emerging poets for years to come." It was created by Milkweed Editions in partnership with the Alan B. Slifka Foundation. Kleber-Diggs will receive $10,000 and publication by Milkweed in June 2021.

The winner was chosen by poet and judge Henri Cole, who said: "Michael Kleber-Diggs's poems quietly put pressure on us to live up to our nation's ideals. He gives voice to the experiences and aspirations of middle-class Black America, and though the promised land is faraway, he finds grace in the natural world, long marriage, and fathering. These supple, socially responsible poems seem to me a triumphant, paradoxical, luminous response to a violent time in our history."

Book Review

Review: Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things that Last

Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last by Wright Thompson (Penguin Press, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780735221253, November 10, 2020)

Best known as an ESPN sportswriter, Wright Thompson has detoured from that beat for a reflective journey down some Southern byways to tell the story of prominent Kentucky distiller Julian P. Van Winkle III, and his quest to revive his family's iconic bourbon brand. In Thompson's capable hands, Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things that Last blossoms into a moving exploration of his own family history and of his search for life's meaning as he's about to become a father for the first time.

On Derby Day in 1935, Van Winkle's grandfather, nicknamed "Pappy," opened a distillery outside Louisville, where for the next 37 years the family produced an esteemed brand of bourbon. But the bourbon market collapsed in the 1960s, and Julian's father was forced to sell the plant. This ultimately forced the man Thompson calls "Booze Yoda" into a distilling limbo, where he'd reside for some two decades, until the fortuitous acquisition of aged barrels of Pappy's bourbon, and the explosive revival of demand for the whiskey, brought him back into the limelight.

Thompson is a sympathetic chronicler of the Van Winkle family saga, and of Julian's dogged quest to resurrect Pappy's brand. With him as an amiable guide, readers learn some of the secrets of high-quality bourbon, including what a "mash bill" is, why the process is "closer to farming than making steel, no matter how scientific the lab or industrial the plant," and why the key to the Van Winkle family brand is the use of wheat as a secondary ingredient. But above all, readers come to appreciate how a bottle of bourbon can be a "coded way for so many unspoken ideas to be transmitted and understood."

Julian's relationship with his father becomes the impetus for Thompson's revelation that his own father, a successful trial lawyer in Clarksdale, Miss., who died of cancer at age 58, was an alcoholic. Thompson confesses that "his unfulfilled potential has been my greatest fear and motivator." Inspired by Julian's lifelong quest and by the writings of Thomas Merton--who spent the last 27 years of his life in a Kentucky monastery--Thompson reflects eloquently on balancing his flourishing writing career with the impending demands of fatherhood.

Speaking of his devotion to his craft, Thompson quotes the advice of his writing mentor: "Be simple, blunt, and profound." He's taken that counsel to heart. Pappyland is as invigorating at the smell of freshly cut Kentucky bluegrass, and goes down as smoothly as a glass of Pappy's beloved bourbon. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A sportswriter delivers a warmhearted story about fathers and sons and the pleasures of fine bourbon.

The Bestsellers

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn
2. Hollywood Propaganda by Mark Dice
3. Once Upon Another World by Various
4. The Gritty Truth by Melissa Foster
5. Just One Kiss by Layla Hagen
6. The Ippos King (Wraith Kings Book 3) by Grace Draven
7. Dare to Play (Dare Nation Book 3) by Carly Phillips
8. Muses and Melodies by Rebecca Yarros
9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
10. Good Moon Rising (The Siren Island Series Book 4) by Tricia O'Malley

[Many thanks to!]

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