Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


MIBA Annual Meeting: 'A Celebration of Resiliency'

Despite having to be held virtually, the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association's annual meeting yesterday was a warm gathering that included laughs and tears and the repeated wish to be able to meet again in person. Executive director Carrie Obry set the mood when she began, "I miss all of your beautiful faces. We should be in a hotel, eating breakfast potatoes and drinking coffee together. It's a big bummer that we aren't, but all of that has only given us an opportunity to show how creative and resilient and close knit and friendly our industry is."

MIBA had "as telling a year as you have had," Obry said. The beginning was auspicious, with the hiring of Kate Scott as MIBA's program specialist. "It was a fabulous decision," Obry said. "She's been doing such an amazing job."

Then came the pandemic. With the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, MIBA canceled the traditional Heartland Fall Forum and held the virtual Heartland Summer instead, which featured 23 events from June to October that drew 680 attendees, 48 authors and has been viewed online 2,100 times.

MIBA hosted several happy hour chats, and took inventory of all pandemic regulations. It has moved forward with the Roadmap program, but chose to do an online version instead of a printed version. This was delayed slightly by domain problems, but it now has a consumer-facing site that should be available no later than January.

MIBA also expanded its board from seven to nine members in an effort to "enjoy a wider range of viewpoints and prioritize conversations about equity within bookselling," Obry said. The two new members were previously voted in by members and joined the board officially at the meeting: BrocheAroe Fabian of River Dog Book Co., which is now headquartered again in Wisconsin, and Riley Davis of Next Chapter Booksellers, St. Paul, Minn.

Obry noted the heartbreaking loss of "the Uncles"--Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction and Uncle Edgar's Mystery bookstores in Minneapolis, which burned during the protests following the murder of George Floyd by local police. The loss has been especially resonant because owner Don Blyly--"with a few sales reps and booksellers"--founded MIBA in the 1980s. "We wish him ongoing success with his crowdfunding campaign, working with the city, and hopefully finding a way to reopen," Obry said.

MIBA president Kate Rattenborg, owner of Dragonfly Books, Decorah, Iowa, called the evening "a celebration of resiliency" and said that the association's finances are tight, "like everybody's," but MIBA is "going strong." MIBA is "reevaluating what needs to be done," and has income from the Heartland Summer and the holiday catalogue. For next year, it's looking at revising programs to spread out income more evenly during the year.

During 2020, MIBA's membership grew to 155, including 21 new bookstore members, 10 of which are either prospective or new stores. There are another five new stores MIBA has invited to join. In total, about 15 stores opened in the region this year, which Rattenborg called "phenomenal." --John Mutter

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Moon Palace Books: 'How a Bookseller Should Act in Turbulent Times'

Last night at the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association's annual meeting, Danny Caine, owner of Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., offered the following poignant remarks in presenting MIBA's Bookseller of the Year Award to Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl, owners of Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, Minn. By the end, there was barely a dry eye in the crowd.

Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl

It's not just that I've never heard anyone say a critical word about Minneapolis's Moon Palace Books; it's that I've never heard anyone say anything less than absolutely effusive. This Twin Cities landmark has grown a devoted following of readers, authors and fellow booksellers by doing exactly what indies do when indies are at their best: connecting with their community, and finding a voice. Angela and Jamie Schwesnedl founded Moon Palace in 2012, and two moves later their massive, colorful building is a beacon in its neighborhood. At the most basic level, Moon Palace is a kickass bookstore with a deep and interesting inventory. It has a beautiful event space that they fill with great programming. Their café, Geek Love, is delicious. But what makes Moon Palace most beloved--and most deserving of this award--is their community-building. They've teamed with Milkweed Editions to send books to incarcerated people. They host the Twin Cities Queer Book Club. They've provided free meals for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. They've mentored less experienced booksellers. Most inspiringly, to me, they have navigated the challenges of this difficult year with a nearly unimaginable grace.

I think, for me at least, one of the defining feelings of 2020 is staring at Twitter with some combination of disbelief and helplessness. A feeling of seeing unimaginably horrible things, and subsequently feeling like I couldn't possibly do anything about them. In this state, horrified and angered by the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police, I saw a picture of Moon Palace Books the morning after the first night of the intense protests following George Floyd's killing.

Moon Palace on May 31: "We're ok. We're still here. We're so proud of the amazing people of Minneapolis. Abolish the police."

The bookstore stood boarded up but undamaged. Across the plywood, messages like ABOLISH THE POLICE and JUSTICE and LOVE and BLM were painted in bold and colorful letters. The photo brought me to tears. The Third Precinct was an epicenter of the protests, and Moon Palace was right there next to it. And there it was, Moon Palace, defiant and drenched in rainbows, still standing strong. As the stories came out about Moon Palace's actions through the protests, I found myself crying again. Jamie and Angela fed protestors pizza from Geek Love Café. When protestors offered to pay, Jamie told them to donate to George Floyd's family. When the police tried to set up a staging area in Moon Palace's parking lot, Jamie forced them away. Some folks believed these actions of solidarity are what led Moon Palace to be spared damage in the protests, but Jamie and Angela weren't acting to save their business or their building or their books. They were acting for justice. Jamie even told people not to risk themselves protecting the store, saying in the New York Times, "Things that may be lost or damaged in our building are just things, but your life is priceless, just like George Floyd's life was priceless. Be safe." Watching this unfold from afar, aside from making me cry multiple times, made me believe that a bookstore owner does not in fact need to feel helpless, that a bookstore can and should figure out a way to do something. Moon Palace acted--and is acting--how a bookstore should act in turbulent times. This is how a bookstore can be an engine for positive social change. This is how a bookstore can protect and serve its neighborhood.

It's not enough to call this political bookselling, because all bookselling is political. Rather, this is good community-building bookselling. This is bookselling to make the world a better place. This is why it is my honor to present the Midwest Bookseller of the Year award to Moon Palace's Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

International Update: 3D Virtual Bookshop in U.K.; QR Code Window Shopping in Australia

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales also posted a welcome video

While indie bookstores worldwide have upped their online game in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, British booksellers Dan and Leanne Fridd, owners of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales in Norwich, are taking things to another level entirely by opening a completely virtual version of the bookshop, "in what its owners are billing a world first," the Bookseller reported. Customers can now tour a 3D version of the shop, which includes e-commerce hyperlinks that pop out of shelves, event information and games.

"While we will enjoy being the first, the idea is that any shop can do it and this is a great solution for people missing or wanting to discover our shop who are not able or comfortable coming in to the physical premises," said Dan Fridd. "I think, but I'm not sure, that this is a world first."

He added that the e-commerce side is designed as an app and every indie currently on Edelweiss Analytics will be able to turn it on, saving them the trouble of setting up a website themselves. Fulfillment is currently direct from the bookshop, but work is underway to integrate with Gardners home delivery.

"This is different and complements and is not intended as an alternative," Fridd noted. "We as a bookshop are signing up for both. Currently we dispatch the books and keep the full margin. The 3D portion requires someone to come and take the pictures, but it is pretty affordable."

Noting that the store is only a year old, Fridd told the Bookseller he felt it was imperative to prepare in the event of a second lockdown, while also providing access for those unable to shop at the bookstore in person.


VietnamPlus showcased Mão Bookstore, the oldest bookstore on Hanoi's Dinh Le street, noting: "Nestled quietly in a small attic of an old apartment on Dinh Le street, Hanoi, Mão Bookstore has become a familiar destination for generations of book lovers." The shop, operated by Mr. Le Luy and Mrs. Pham Thi Mao, "attracts many people because of its unique features; ancient, peaceful, poetic and extremely attractive." 


"IT'S HAPPENING!" Australian bookseller the Sun Bookshop, Melbourne, posted on Facebook. "With the announcement that retail can reopen on Wednesday we are busy getting our shelves and selves ready for you to come back into our store! (More updates to come.) In the meantime, have you seen the new addition to our jam-packed window? We're upgrading your window-shopping experience by adding QR codes to our most popular and favorite titles. Simply scan a code with your phone to find a book on our website immediately!" --Robert Gray

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

With PRH as Sponsor, CLMP Launches Black Literary Publishing Award

The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses has launched the Black Literary Publishing Award, an annual prize honoring and supporting Black-led presses and presses that champion the work of BIPOC authors. The recipient will receive $10,000, with Penguin Random House being the award's inaugural sponsor. The winner will be announced next spring.

Claire von Schilling, executive v-p and director of corporate communications and social responsibility for PRH, said: "At Penguin Random House, we're committed to fostering a literary landscape that's truly diverse, where emerging and underrepresented writers are recognized. CLMP's support of small, independent publishers, as well as grants like the Black Literary Publishing Award, help ensure that new, important voices are heard."

CLMP announced the new award during its annual benefit, which was livestreamed on October 22. During the event, CLMP honored the recipients of its other annual awards, including Lisa Lucas, currently executive director of the National Book Foundation and future senior v-p, publisher at Pantheon and Schocken Books at Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, who received the Energizer Award for Exceptional Acts of Literary Citizenship; and Martin Riker and Danielle Dutton, of A Publishing Project, who received the Golden Colophon Award for Paradigm Independent Publishing.

Mary Gannon, CLMP's executive director, said: "We're deeply grateful to Penguin Random House for its support of CLMP and the Black Literary Publishing Award, which we see as one step in many we plan to take on our path toward helping to secure racial equity in our field. Penguin Random House's commitment enables us to launch this important initiative and secure its future."

Obituary Note: Diane di Prima

Diane di Prima, a prolific poet who published more than 40 books and who "pursued the life of a Beat and rose to the position of San Francisco poet laureate," died October 25, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. She was 86. Di Prima "dropped out of college to join the poetry swirl in New York's Greenwich Village in the 1950s. She arrived in San Francisco in 1968, too late for the North Beach Beats, but she established herself as a singular force, a feminist in a poetry culture that was overwhelmingly male."

By the time di Prima got to the West Coast, "she had already established herself as co-founder of both the Poets Press and the New York Poets Theatre and was co-editor of the literary magazine the Floating Bear," the Chronicle wrote. She had also published a poetry collection, This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, and a short story collection, Dinners and Nightmares. Her many books include Memoirs of a Beatnik; Pieces of a Song: Selected Poems; Loba; Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years; and Revolutionary Letters.

When she arrived in San Francisco, di Prima went to City Lights Booksellers to see Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who had written the introduction to her first book, published in 1957. After she praised the bookshop's inventory, Ferlinghetti responded, "I've got books the way other people have mice," words she never forgot.

"She was important as the feminist voice of the Beat generation," Ferlinghetti said.

Di Prima was named San Francisco poet laureate in 2009, and in 2011 was the subject of a 30-minute documentary film, The Poetry Deal. Three years later, City Lights released The Poetry Deal, her first full-length book of poetry in decades.

"I don't think about it as a legacy," she said. "I'm more concerned with the fact that I have about 50 more books I have to get out."

From her poem "City Lights":

How many late nights did we haunt the Store
buying scads of new poems from all corners of the earth
then head to the all-night Tower Records full of drag queens
& revolutionaries, to get a few songs

And dig it, City Lights still here, like some old lighthouse
though all the rest is gone,
the poetry's moved upstairs, the publishing office
right there now too       & crowds of people
one third my age or less still haunt the stacks
seeking out voices from all quarters
of the globe


Image of the Day: Accidentally Wes Anderson Pop-up

To celebrate the launch of Accidentally Wes Anderson (Voracious Books/Little, Brown), Wally Koval, creator of the popular @AccidentallyWesAnderson Instagram community, created an IRL pop-up experience in New York City's Greenwich Village. Inspired by the vision of director Wes Anderson's films, the book explores more than 200 idiosyncratic locations on every continent. Anderson contributed the foreword. The pop-up allowed the AWA team to meet fans in a socially distanced way, and sold signed copies of the book and related merchandise.

Silent Film: Back at the Bookstore

"We're open to the public again and just like old times, right? Well, not exactly. Things are a little different, and this short video covers *some* of our new procedures," Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., posted, sharing its entertaining silent film, Back at the Bookstore.

Bookmans: Tucson Weekly's Best Bookstore of 2020

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange won in the bookstore category of Tucson Weekly's Best of 2020 competition. TW wrote:

"A crazy idea--a store that cycles through used books, music, magazines, and videos--quickly caught on and then became a Tucson institution. Bookmans has it all and does it all. It hosts gatherings, provides an opportunity to clean out that closet/garage/bookshelf, and gives the avid reader the chance to go back and read the earlier novels of that hot writer they just discovered."

Personnel Changes at Brookline Booksmith

Amy Brabenec has been promoted to assistant operations manager at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass. She continues as children's buyer.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Evan Osnos on Fresh Air

Today Show: Tania Israel, author of Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work (APA LifeTools, $16.99, 9781433833557).

Fresh Air: Evan Osnos, author of Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now (Scribner, $23, 9781982174026).

The Talk: D.L. Hughley, co-author of Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062953704).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Bryan Washington, author of Memorial: A Novel (Riverhead, $27, 9780593087275).

Tonight Show: Pete Buttigieg, author of Trust: America's Best Chance (Liveright, $23.95, 9781631498770).

Movies: The Spaceman of Bohemia

Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) "may have enough another awards-friendly role in the works," Deadline noted in reporting that he will star in Netflix's untitled drama based on Jaroslav Kalfar's novel The Spaceman of Bohemia. Johan Renck (Chernobyl, Bloodline) will be directing a script adapted by Colby Day.

"As we prepare for our voyage to Chopra, I couldn't be more pleased to have found the perfect partner in Adam," Renck said. "And now, with the support of the brilliant Netflix family, I am profoundly excited to set off on our impossible journey."

Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Longlist; Forward Poetry Winners

A longlist of 46 books has been selected for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction and can be seen here. The shortlist of six titles (three in fiction and three in nonfiction) will be announced November 17. The two winners will be announced February 4.

Selection committee chair Bill Kelly, adult programming manager for Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library, commented: "This was unquestionably a challenging year for all the obvious reasons. There were times one didn't feel especially like reading. The news was bleak; the outcomes were dire. And yet, in the end, reading proved to be just the balm one needs to sustain us, to give hope and strength and resilience in the face of an oppressively uncertain future. We know that reading has shown to increase empathy, to reduce stress, and even lower blood pressure. More importantly, however, we discovered that the diversity of voices with which we were able to so deeply engage, the breadth of fascinating subject matter in which we were able to so fully immerse ourselves proved to be the greatest testament to the human spirit. In that sense, 2020 was a great year to be a reader of outstanding books and the Carnegie committee sincerely hopes that others will find the same power we did in the books on this year's longlist."


The Forward Arts Foundation announced that Caroline Bird's The Air Year won the £10,000 (about $13,085) Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection, while RENDANG by Will Harris took the £5,000 (about $6,545) Felix Dennis Prize for debut collection and Malika Booker's "The Little Miracles" topped the £1,000 (about $1,310) best single poem category.

"We are thrilled to celebrate three winning poets whose finely crafted work has the protean power to change as it meets new readers," said chair of judges Alexandra Harris, calling the poems in The Air Year "trapeze ropes made with words, swinging us up and out into the unknown, from dazzle into darkness and back again. With hurtling fluency and ethereal weightlessness, they give chase to mysteries of love and hurt. Turning, tumbling, vaulting, The Air Year performs a surrealist aerial dance. Every time you look, its shape has shifted, its extravagance, puzzlement and passion are startlingly reconfigured."

Harris praised RENDANG for the "marvelous generosity" in which its ideas "meet, leap, and circle each other." The poet, she said, is "fascinated by how we read and mis-read the world around us, how we send out signals to each other, how we dance and flail as we try to communicate across chasms."

Book Review

Review: The Children of Red Peak

The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie (Redhook, $16.99 paperback, 384p., 9780316428132, November 17, 2020)

The Children of Red Peak is an unsettling, frighteningly ambiguous horror novel about a deadly cult and its traumatized survivors. As children, David Young, Deacon Price and Beth Harris were members of a religious group called the Family of the Living Spirit. In an event reminiscent of the mass suicide at Jonestown, the group self-destructed in extraordinarily bloody fashion near a mountain called Red Peak. Craig DiLouie, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of One of Us, takes cues from Stephen King's It in his book's structure: DiLouie alternates between the past and the present, relating the events leading up to the cult's implosion from the perspective of his characters as children and jumping forward to their lives as traumatized adults. The present-day passages are especially poignant as character studies, showing the protagonists struggling to channel their pain and either bury or exorcise their brutal memories of the cult's final days.

The survivors are brought together by the sudden death of one of their number, eventually setting in motion a plan to return to Red Peak. Their trauma is compounded by lingering mysteries that they hope to settle: How did the cult members' bodies disappear? Was the pillar of fire that they saw a mass hallucination? DiLouie uses these mysteries to dwell on the cult's ambiguities: some of the survivors don't even agree that the Family of the Living Spirit was a cult. In fact, many of them think of the time before the group relocated to Red Peak as the best years of their lives, and are unable to recapture the happiness of their childhoods, the sense of purpose and community, in the years since. Through scenes set in the past, readers learn how a peaceful, if sometimes rigid, community degenerated into terrifying zealotry. Its inevitable demise is nevertheless shocking, especially since, as adults, the survivors can't help but wonder if there was something supernatural, even divine, about Red Peak.

Perhaps surprisingly given the cult's horrifying end, The Children of Red Peak takes the desire to find meaning and the yearning for something beyond ourselves very seriously. The central question of the book is how to reconcile that yearning with its sometimes destructive results. And if the Family's god was real, why would he allow such a horrible tragedy? The characters return to Red Peak hoping to make sense of these contradictions. The answers they find might be even more frightening than the questions. --Hank Stephenson, the Sun magazine, manuscript reader

Shelf Talker: The Children of Red Peak is a cult horror story, with shades of Stephen King's It, that explores questions of trauma, faith and the search for meaning in the aftermath of tragedy.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Boyfriend Effect by Kendall Ryan
2. Officially Over It (SWAT Generation 2.0 Book 10) by Lani Lynn Vale
3. Ignite by Chelle Bliss
4. Wolves of Croton: The Untold Story of Milo by John Abdo
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
6. The Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn
7. One Exquisite Touch by Lauren Blakely
8. Infidelity Box Set by Aleatha Romig
9. I Promise You by Ilsa Madden-Mills
10. The One Love Collection by Lauren Blakely

[Many thanks to!]

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