Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 17, 2020

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

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

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


Bookstore Sales Down 28.9% in October

In the eighth month of data reflecting public health measures taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, including the closure of many bookstores for a time and limited access since then, in October sales at bookstores dropped 28.9%, to $446 million, compared to October 2019, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates.

Since May, when bookstore sales plummeted 59.9%, bookstore sales have been down in a range between 24.7% and 35.4%.

During the first 10 months of the year, bookstore sales fell 30.8%, to $4.975 billion.

Total retail sales in October rose 5.8%, to $556.1 billion. During the first 10 months of the year, total retail sales have risen less than 0.1%, to $5.09 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution: "Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, many businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. The Census Bureau has monitored response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards."

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley Hits $10 Million Milestone


In the last 24 hours, reached a remarkable milestone: it has raised more than $10 million for indie bookstores, with the majority of Bookshop sales made through individual stores that use Bookshop as their main e-commerce site--something that has become crucial in this pandemic year.

Founder and CEO Andy Hunter told Shelf Awareness that Bookshop is "very glad to have been here" for indie booksellers and is looking forward to distributing a pool of about $2 million to more than 1,000 stores in January.

Begun only in January, Bookshop has quickly surpassed its early goals. For example, at launch, it hoped by 2023 to earn $6 million annually for bookstores, a level it reached months ago.

Hunter added, "We are looking forward to doing more in 2021. We will evolve to best fulfill our mission to help bookstores, guided by the needs and desires of the booksellers themselves. We welcome any ideas stores have to improve, and work with them to build the best possible platform and provide the greatest possible financial support. Every bookseller, author, publisher, and advocate for literary culture has a seat at our table."

Michigan's 2 Dandelions Bookshop Moving Next Year

2 Dandelions Bookshop in Brighton, Mich., which opened in October 2019, is getting ready to move to a new, larger location early next year, the Livingston Daily reported.

The bookstore's current home is in a below-street-level storefront on Main Street. Its new home, formerly a clothing store, is larger, on street level and located further down the same street. Co-owners Jeri Kay Thomas and Jeanne Blazo told the Daily that the new space also has an outdoor patio, which they plan to use for readings and other events.

The general-interest store sells titles for all ages, with some of its strongest categories being children's books, contemporary fiction, historical fiction and science. The additional space will allow the owners to expand their inventory, and in particular they plan to add more books about nature.

During the early months of the pandemic, 2 Dandelions began offering curbside service, local delivery and shipping. The store reopened slowly, starting with appointment shopping. The store's events have all gone virtual, and instead of having a first anniversary celebration, Blazo and Thomas chose to hold a fundraiser for a local literacy program called Talking Is Teaching Livingston, which brought in more than $1,000 in donations. The store has also run a promotion through which customers can get a 25% discount on books by showing a receipt for a takeout meal from a local restaurant.

So far 2 Dandelions has had a "really vibrant holiday season," and plans to stay open in its current space throughout the move.

Macmillan Extending, Expanding Indie Promotional Terms

Macmillan Publishers is extending its promotional terms designed to help support independent bookstores during the Covid-19 pandemic. Set to expire at the end of this month, they are now extended through June 30, 2021, and include additional discounting offered on all orders placed and extended dating on orders. In addition, Macmillan is increasing event co-op to $300 from $200, through December 2021.

Macmillan publishers include Celadon Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Flatiron Books, Holt, Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, St. Martin's Publishing Group and Tor Books.

Macmillan Distribution clients participating in the promotional terms are Bloomsbury, College Board, Encantos, Guinness World Records (for the 2020 and 2021 editions), Kingfisher, Macmillan Collectors Library, Media Lab, Page Street, Papercutz, Seven Seas, Sounds True, and Wattpad.

How Bookstores Are Coping: Unavailable Titles; 'Healthy, Hectic' Holidays

(photo: Carol Mark)

In Ridgefield, Conn., Books on the Common reopened to browsing on July 6, after operating with no customers in-store for more than three months. Co-owners Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis have maintained a limit of no more than five customers at a time, and they continue to offer curbside pickup and shipping. At a time when there are usually crowds in the store buying holiday gifts, now the phone "never stops ringing and e-mails come in all day and evening."

When asked whether there were any bright spots during these difficult months, Burns said their customers have been truly supportive, both during the shutdown in the spring and since it was lifted. It seems that the "shop local" message "has really gotten through this year," and the store is seeing "more first-time customers than we ever have before."

Burns said they approached holiday buying pretty conservatively, having "no idea what to expect for the holiday season when we were doing our frontlist ordering in July and August." Usually the store buys most most of its holiday sidelines at NYNow in August, which, of course, was canceled this year. Instead, Books on the Common did a lot of last-minute gift buying directly from vendors.

In particular, they brought in fewer calendars than in years past, with the idea that "during Covid, who the heck uses a calendar?" They're selling a lot of them, though, and they've had to restock calendars from wholesalers. The same is true of boxed holiday cards--they bought lightly, and they're already very low on stock.

The holiday rush for Books on the Common started in November. Sales were up 45% compared to November 2019, and big sellers have included A Promised Land by Barack Obama, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, Ina Garten's new cookbook Modern Comfort Food, as well as The Deep End by Jeff Kinney and The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling.

Currently, the store's biggest problem is being unable to get certain titles back in stock. Some are new releases, such as Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell and A Wealth of Pigeons by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, but one surprise has been The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, which came out last year.


Since reopening in May, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., has allowed in-person shopping by appointment only, with appointments reserved for North Carolina residents. Manager Justin Souther noted that "not everyone likes that," but the store is still offering curbside service and shipping.

Prior to the holidays, he and his team had wondered what the season would look like, and whether they could make do without being able to do much browsing. So far, though, the season has been "healthy" and "hectic." The vast majority of the store's business lately has been web orders, and there are fewer staff members working than usual, so they've been swamped.

Souther added that he imagines orders might peak this week, given the shipping deadlines for things arriving in time for Christmas. He hopes that people will start "looking for things on hand," which would also give the team more time to catch up on the backlog of holiday orders.

When it came to holiday buying this year, Souther said the team had to be "strategic," and after realizing that initial orders were low, they ordered up as best as they could. A few things are out of stock, but generally he's been "surprised by how much is still gettable," and in that regard it doesn't feel worse than any other holiday.

Souther has also been a bit surprised by just how well some very expensive hardcovers have sold, including Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Robert K. Oermann and A Promised Land

This year, Malaprop's launched a publishing imprint of its own and last week published its first title, the novel Requiem by Fire by Wayne Caldwell. Originally Malaprop's had planned to have it out in June, but with the pandemic its release was delayed.


Fine Print Booksellers in Kennebunkport, Maine, is closed two days a week and has shorter hours, owner Kristen Kuehnle reported. Kuehnle said that prior to becoming a affiliate, she had no online shopping option; the development of the site has been the biggest bright spot for her. The store's holiday ordering has been limited, with Kuehnle adding that she's had trouble getting some titles because of printing problems this season. That being said, A Promised Land has remained available, and is her store's bestseller. --Alex Mutter

International Update: Christmas Covid Confusion in U.K., AAP Freedom to Publish Award Winner

Non-essential shops, including bookstores, will close in Wales from December 24 "as part of fresh lockdown restrictions," the Bookseller reported, adding that on December 28, new stay-at-home rules will be introduced for the wider public as part of a move to "Level Four" restrictions across the country.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise across the U.K., Christmas week coronavirus rules can be confusing for booksellers trying to make plans. Yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson "said the easing of restrictions would go ahead as planned--while also urging people to 'think hard' about seeing their family," Yahoo News UK reported. Under the "Christmas bubble" policy, rules allow three households to mix indoors between December 23 and 27.

Browsers Bookshop in Porthmadog, Wales

Shortly after Johnson's speech, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would recommend that only two households should form a bubble over the five-day period, while Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at another press conference it was her "strong recommendation" that people not see relatives at Christmas unless "essential. If you haven't made plans to form a bubble, please don't."

Indie booksellers continue to navigate these ever-changing regulations, as well as some customer backlash. Browsers Bookshop in Porthmadog, Wales, shared a video addressing a few challenges they faced on Monday, noting: "Please do not misunderstand our post. We are not saying 'oh look at us what a bad time we are having.' We are simply trying to say 'please consider that we may have been dealing with a difficult situation' before we engage with you, or you come in to the shop so if we are not our usual selves when you come in, please consider that we are doing our best and are only one week in to reopening and learning how best to deal with retailing in a new and challenging environment for us all. Thank you."


Razia Rahman Jolly

Jagriti Publishing House in Bangladesh received the 2020 Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award, presented annually by the Association of American Publishers to a book publisher outside the U.S. that "has demonstrated courage and fortitude in defending freedom of expression."

Jagriti is now run by Razia Rahman Jolly, who took over after her husband, Faisal Arefin Dipan, was brutally murdered in 2015 by religious extremists because of his association with the secular science writer Avijit Roy and other freethinking, secular and atheist writers. She has also established a bookshop and cultural center in her husband’s memory.

Terry Adams, digital and paperback publisher at Little, Brown and chair of the AAP Freedom to Publish Committee, commented: "Jagriti's founder, Faisal Arefin Dipan, paid the ultimate price for having the audacity to exercise his fundamental right to publish. In the wake of his murder, Razia Rahman Jolly refused to be silenced, insisting that Jagriti would not only continue but expand its operations with a bookstore and cultural center dedicated to helping young people explore the world of books. To stand so bravely in the face of such ongoing danger, and to continue the fight in the wake of tragedy, is an example of extraordinary valor that deserves the respect and admiration of publishers and protectors of free speech the world over."

Jolly said the award "reminds me of the struggle and sacrifice of my late husband Faisal Arefin Dipan to promote and uphold the right of freedom of speech. After the brutal murder of Dipan, it was my commitment to myself and society that I must stand for the cause and decided I will leave no stones unturned to continue the activities of Jagriti publishing house against all odds. I express my gratitude to my family, friends and well-wishers who extended their support in various forms during this period of struggle ultimately to uphold the right of lawful freedom of speech even being faced with adverse situations."


Hugo Setzer

In a blog post reflecting on his two years as president of the International Publishers Association, Hugo Setzer, CEO of Manual Moderno, observed, in part: "Looking back at one year of pandemic, I can say that publishers have shown themselves to be resilient and innovative in responding to change.... Publishing is a long-term business. Let us keep that in mind. We will overcome this crisis, together. Of that I am sure. We play such a vital role in society. We entertain with engaging stories, we help educate our children, we provide curated scientific information for the advancement of humanity.

"I feel pride at the resourcefulness of our industry, at the energy we find to look for new ways to bring more books to more people, at the way we have stepped up to play our role in supporting society. The value of publishing has been made even clearer.... We contribute to crafting a better world with the books we publish. Let us be proud of our profession." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Terry Kay

Terry Kay

Terry Kay, "a masterful storyteller and author of the internationally acclaimed novel To Dance with the White Dog," died December 12, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was 82. Kay wrote his first book after Pat Conroy, "unbeknownst to Kay, convinced a high-powered literary agent in New York City that Kay had written a brilliant manuscript," AJC noted. "Conroy's ruse came to light when Kay received a letter from the agent, requesting to see the manuscript."

"I had not written a word," Kay said. "I yelled at (Conroy). I cursed him. I had no interest in writing a novel." Nevertheless, he spent two months writing 150 pages. "To my shock and horror and great surprise, they offered me a small contract and a small advance to write a novel based on one vignette in that book. And that's how I came to be a writer."

Houghton Mifflin released The Year the Lights Came On in 1976. Kay would go on to publish 18 books, including a collection of essays and two children's titles. "Limited to no one genre, his novels tend toward stories of love and loss set in the rural South told with compassion and a touch of nostalgia," AJC wrote.

His fourth novel, To Dance with the White Dog (1990), sold millions of copies and was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in 1993. Two other books were also adapted for the screen: The Valley of Light (2007), which won the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and The Runaway (1997). His last book, The Forever Wish of Middy Sweet, was published by Mercer University Press this past August.

Kay's many honors include induction into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, the Georgia Author of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association and the Governor's Award in the Humanities.

In a tribute, Loran Smith wrote in the Gwinnett Daily Post: "He was of the good neighbor ilk. He was always offering encouragement to others in his profession. If he liked your work, he would let you know. If he didn't, he quietly moved on, never bashing another's musings. His resume confirms he was an accomplished writer and novelist. And, now a week after he left this world, I am finally going to take issue with him. Whether he agrees or not, he does leave a legacy--one that is honorable and cloaked in modesty."


Bookseller Moment: Curious Iguana

Posted on Facebook yesterday by the Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md., as a big storm was moving in: "It's a snowy day in Downtown Frederick! We're closing up at noon so our staff can be safe and cozy at home. We hope your day is filled with lots of reading."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Elizabeth Frew has joined the company as national accounts sales director, mass merchandisers, managing the Readerlink mass merchandise business, as well as Hudson News and other airport stores. Frew was formerly national account manager at Candlewick Press.

Kathleen Spinelli has joined the company as director, international sales, overseeing sales in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and European markets, and managing the partnerships with Abrams & Chronicle Books in the U.K. and Thames & Hudson Australia. She was formerly head of custom and proprietary publishing at Quarto Publishing, where she worked for 12 years.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Larry Tye on Here & Now

NPR's Here & Now: Larry Tye, author of Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $36, 9781328959720).

Good Morning America: Erin Jeanne McDowell, author of The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780358229285).

Drew Barrymore Show: Martha Stewart, author of Martha Stewart's Very Good Things: Clever Tips & Genius Ideas for an Easier, More Enjoyable Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328508263).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Miami Book Fair

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, December 19
10:55 a.m. A discussion on activism, radicalism and resistance in the Black community with authors Vincent Brown, Jelani Favors, Garrett Felber and Kerri Greenidge, at the Boston Book Festival.

1 p.m. An author discussion on medical careers with doctors Paul Farmer and Daniela Lamas, at the Miami Book Fair.

2 p.m. A discussion on the history of public health in America with authors Perri Klass and Pam Fessler, at the Miami Book Fair.

2:54 p.m. Anthony DePalma, author of The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times (Viking, $28, 9780525522447), at the Miami Book Fair.

5:15 p.m. Coverage of the 41st annual American Book Awards, which recognize "outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community." (Re-airs Sunday at 9:20 a.m.)

6:55 p.m. Sarah E. Wagner, author of What Remains: Bringing America's Missing Home from the Vietnam War (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674988347). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:30 p.m. Tamara Payne, co-author of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X (Liveright, $35, 9781631491665), at the Miami Book Fair.

10 p.m. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (Norton, $28.95, 9781324001546). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Timothy M. LaPira, Lee Drutman and Kevin Kosar, editors of Congress Overwhelmed: The Decline in Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform (University of Chicago Press, $35, 9780226702575). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:55 p.m.)

Sunday, December 20
1 p.m. An author discussion on libraries with Nancy Pearl, Janet Skeslien, Ray Baker and Audrey Chapuis, at the Miami Book Fair.

1:52 p.m. P.J. O'Rourke, author of A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches from a Divided Land (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802157737), and Dave Berry, author of Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog (Simon & Schuster, $16, 9781501161162), at the Miami Book Fair.

2:44 p.m. An author discussion on Saudi Arabia's relationship with the United States with Susanne Koelbl, Victor McFarland and Mohamedou Slahi, at the Miami Book Fair.

3:37 p.m. Nicholas Griffin, author of The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980 (37 Ink, $26.99, 9781501191022).

5:15 p.m. Michael Ian Black, author of A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616209117), at the Southern Festival of Books.

7 p.m. Matthew Clair, author of Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691194332).

Books & Authors

Awards: Porchlight Business Book Shortlist

Porchlight Book Company, formerly 800-CEO-READ, has announced the shortlist for the company's 14th annual Business Book Awards. The Porchlight editorial team chose the following eight titles as the best in their categories, which are the finalists for the 2020 Porchlight Business Book of the Year, which, along with the Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry, will be announced on Thursday, January 14, 2021.

Porchlight owner, president & CEO Rebecca Schwartz commented: "During this most challenging of years, one in which so many businesses and the people who comprise them have suffered, the refuge and counsel offered by books continued to be essential. And while they may challenge our perceptions or our priorities, books and the reading experience offer valuable constancy and steadfastness, counteracting the unpredictable, jarring nature of the world around us by helping us understand the forces at work. The eight books on the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards shortlist provide insight, inspiration, and guidance for achieving a more human-based and forward-thinking future for us all."

The Leadership & Strategy Book of the Year: When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency by Roger L. Martin (Harvard Business Review Press)

The Management & Workplace Culture Book of the Year: After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back by Juliet B. Schor (University of California Press)

The Marketing & Sales Book of the Year: Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One by Emily Heyward (Portfolio)

The Innovation & Creativity Book of the Year: The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work by Natalie Nixon (Berrett-Koehler Publishers)

The Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year: Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May (Riverhead Books)

The Current Events & Public Affairs Book of the Year: Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy by Margaret Sullivan (Columbia Global Reports)

The Narrative & Biography Book of the Year: The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power by Deirdre Mask (St. Martin's Press)

The Big Ideas & New Perspectives Book of the Year: The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Women's Empowerment by Linda Scott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Top Library Recommended Titles for January

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

Top Pick
The Wife Upstairs: A Novel by Rachel Hawkins (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250245496). "Mild-mannered Jane cobbles together a living as a dog walker for the wealthy residents of Thornfield Estates, when an encounter with Eddie Rochester turns into a whirlwind romance. But plain Jane has a mysterious past... and so does everyone else in this upscale neighborhood. Loosely inspired by Jane Eyre, this domestic suspense novel features the twists and turns that fans of the genre expect. Perfect for fans of Liv Constantine and Louise Candlish." --Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Ill.

The Children's Blizzard: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin (Delacorte, $28, 9780399182280). "A deadly snowstorm roared through the Great Plains on January 12, 1888, at a time when many children were in school with teachers little older than themselves. Based on actual oral histories of survivors, and told from perspectives of teachers, students, and the media, this book is perfect for readers who enjoy historical fiction by Ariel Lawhon and Marie Benedict." --Wendy Paige, Shelby County Public Library, Shelbyville, Ky.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley, $15.99, 9780593200124). "Shay's lifelong dream has been to be in radio, and she's been working at a Seattle NPR station since she was 19. Ten years later, she and new wunderkind Dominic create a show around the idea that they're exes talking about relationships. The burn between Shay and Dominic is slow, intense, and HOT. Give to fans of The Kiss Quotient and The Hating Game." --Jessica Werner, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, Wash.

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell (Tin House, $26.95, 9781951142247). "Three stories--a mysterious suicide, a wayward young man searching for his uncle, and a young journalist investigating the story behind several missing girls--unfold before finally converging. The dark mood is palpable as Inspector Cutter, Gideon Bliss, and Octavia Hillingdon travel through Victorian London to fit the puzzle pieces together. Perfect for fans of The Night Circus and Jane Steele." --Maribeth Fisher, Scotch Plain Public Library, Scotch Plains, N.J.

Outlawed by Anna North (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781635575422). "Bank robberies and women's health may not seem like natural companions, but North weaves them together seamlessly in this alternate history Western. Cast out of her hometown for failure to get pregnant after a year of marriage, Ada joins the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang and becomes an outlaw, all the while seeking real information about pregnancy and fertility. For fans of Inland and The Power." --Emily Calkins, King County Library System, Issaquah, Wash.

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous (Berkley, $15.99, 9780440000488). "When down-on-her-luck Sadie is offered a lucrative weekend acting job at a sumptuous Raven Hall, as a guest in a period mystery event, she jumps at the chance. Before the weekend is over, Sadie and the other 'perfect guests' will learn about Raven Hall's tragic past." --Cynthia Hunt, Amarillo Public Library, Amarillo, Tex.

The Push: A Novel by Ashley Audrain (Pamela Dorman, $26, 9781984881663). "Blythe comes from a long line of women not cut out to be mothers. When she falls in love with a man who wants nothing more than a happy family she tells herself she can be a good mother. When her daughter is born however she finds that motherhood is just not that simple. For readers who enjoyed The Woman in the Window (Finn) or Baby Teeth (Stage)." --Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Conn.

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor, $19.99, 9781250772800). "As a girl living in a future version of Ghana, Yatima was given an object from space that gave her the ability to emit a green light that brings death to all she touches. Now, as a young teen, she occasionally leaves death behind her as she searches for the alien object that was stolen from her. Afrofuturism, sci-fi, and magic. For readers who enjoyed The Fifth Season and Monstress." --Katie Kalil, Sterling Library, Sterling, Va.

Shipped by Angie Hockman (Gallery, $16, 9781982151591). "Graeme and Henley are competing for the same job at their adventure cruise company. When their boss sends them on a familiarization trip of the company's cruise in the Galapagos, the enemies to lovers plot gets steamy. For readers who enjoyed A Sweet Mess (Lee) and The Unhoneymooners (Lauren)." --Laura Bonds, Harris County Public Library, Houston, Tex.

Siri, Who Am I?: A Novel by Sam Tschida (Quirk, $15.99, 9781683691686). "Mia awakes in a hospital in a gold cocktail dress, a cape covered in her blood, a head wound and her cellphone, and no memory of who she is or how she got there. She uses her Instagram account to begin to piece together her life. For readers who enjoyed Surprise Me (Kinsella) and What Alice Forgot (Moriarty)." --Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, Md.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 22:

Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life by Brent Gleeson (Hachette Go, $26, 9780306846335) uses aspects of Navy SEAL training to deal with life challenges.

The Dog Who Saved the World by Ross Welford (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 9780525707486) features a 12-year-old girl and her very smelly dog who must save the world from a deadly virus.

I Can't Feel My Feet by Tom Watson, illus. by Marta Kissi (HarperCollins, $5.99, 9780062953490), finds Molly, Rosie and Simon working to keep warm in this fourth title in the chapter book series, Trouble at Table 5.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2021: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success by Richard N. Bolles and Katharine Brooks (Ten Speed Press, $19.99, 9781984857866).

Toaster Oven Perfection: A Smarter Way to Cook on a Smaller Scale by America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen, $26.99, 9781948703482).

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:

Little Wishes: A Novel by Michelle Adams (Morrow, $26.99, 9780063019560). "I loved everything about this book, including the compact size and especially the cover. In this 50-year love story, the two main characters, Elizabeth Davenport and Tom Hale, are apart for almost all of that time period. But every year on the anniversary of their first kiss, Tom leaves a gift for Elizabeth on her doorstep. When his gift fails to arrive in the 50th year, Elizabeth decides that she must find Tom before it is too late." --Connie Eaton, Three Sisters Books & Gifts, Shelbyville, Ind.

Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West by Lauren Redniss (Random House, $30, 9780399589720). "Oak Flat is simultaneously an object of mesmerizing beauty and an urgent book of complete necessity. Lauren Redniss tells the tale of the struggle to preserve a site sacred to the Apache people from a copper mining project that would destroy it. Her vibrant illustrations and careful curation of competing voices convey the high stakes while honoring the dignity of the people on both sides, and the dignity of the natural world. This book is an astonishing achievement." --Keith Mosman, Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.

Big Girl, Small Town: A Novel by Michelle Gallen (Algonquin, $16.95, 9781643750897). "You might fall in love with this rough, bawdy, funny, and heart-wrenching novel because of the skill with which Michelle Gallen gives you the cadences and nuances of English as spoken in small-town Northern Ireland. You might fall in love because Gallen is showing you a working-class setting seldom depicted on either side of the pond, an atmosphere of sweat, grease, and labor, of Friday night pubs and Saturday hangovers, of people bursting with shattered dreams and electric intelligence. But you'll most fall in love with Majella O'Neill, the narrator. She is unapologetically and completely herself, and unlike anyone I've met in fiction before. Through O'Neill, Gallen offers an outlook and experience that I'd happily share with other readers." --Robert McDonald, The Book Stall, Winnetka, Ill.
For Ages 4 to 8
The Little Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown, $18.99, 9780316440318). "A mermaid reclaims her voice in this powerful reimagining of the classic story. Friendship and repairing her seaside kingdom are the mermaid's goals in this gorgeous book starring diverse characters." --Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.
For Ages 9 to 12
Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781534438552). "The Ice Queen is collecting voices in order to perform some big, sure-to-be-devastating magic, and as her prisoner, Eska knows she has to keep her own voice out of the Ice Queen's hands. When inventor Flint happens to show up while Eska is escaping, she convinces him to help her. Thus starts many journeys--a journey to get help from other people in the kingdom to defeat the Ice Queen, a journey to friendship, and a personal journey for both Eska and Flint as they decide who they want to be. A good, magical story about hope, bravery, and friendship in the face of loss and despair." --Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C.
For Teen Readers
Soulswift by Megan Bannen (Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 9780062674180). "This book made me cry. It broke my heart right in two. I know that may not sound like a glowing review, but trust me, it is. The best stories are the ones that make us feel so deeply we drown in them. That is what Soulswift is. A deep, beautiful, and heartbreaking story that will stay with you forever. You'll love it as you read it and you'll be shaking when it's over, but you wouldn't want it any other way." --Marielle Orff, Towne Book Center and Wine Bar, Collegeville, Pa.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Life Among the Terranauts

Life Among the Terranauts by Caitlin Horrocks (Little, Brown, $27 hardcover, 272p., 9780316316972, January 12, 2021)

Almost a decade since her debut collection, This Is Not Your City, Caitlin Horrocks returns with Life Among the Terranauts. The majority of these 14 stories deliver a gut-punch reminder of the seeming unavoidability of loneliness and isolation, despite the promises of coupledom, familial bonds and understood social contracts among various groups. Horrocks begins and ends with outwardly constructed worlds--a dilapidated shrinking town in the opening "The Sleep"; the manmade NovaTerra in the titular "Life Among the Terranauts"--which become constricting, even fatal, cages for the inhabitants. More and more citizens in "The Sleep" choose to hibernate rather than face the depressing reality of winter, while the six citizens carefully chosen to create "Life Among the Terranauts" realize too late they cannot fulfill their two-year residency contracts.

Horrocks's women are especially prone to solitary confinement, even while surrounded by others. In "Norwegian for Troll," a midwestern woman living alone in an oversized, aging house is visited by distant "cousins" from Norway she never knew she had. A gay woman who has a proud affinity with her dead grandmother, who seemed to live openly with her lover, faces jarring truths in "Sun City." A divorced, retired teacher recalls the threatening fourth grader who becomes a murderer nine years later in "Teacher." A dying woman regrets key moments with her husband and daughter in "And Looked Down One as Far as I Could." In "Murder Games," a teen returning from her first date is forced by her tactless mother to relive the still-traumatic loss of her favorite childhood blanket. As a family travels "On the Oregon Trail," the woman's family members die one by one.

Bad decisions--knowing better, yet still acted upon--cause further estrangement: in "23 Months," in which a woman new in town goes to a co-worker's party and sleeps with a stranger under false pretenses; in "Better Not Tell You Now," about a group of high school girl friends with uncertain futures; in "All Over with Fire," about an American in the midst of a midlife-crisis affair in Prague; and in "Paradise Lodge," featuring a Peruvian jungle tour group populated by relationship-challenged travelers.

While the collection might be filled with miscommunications and disconnects, Horrocks's storytelling prowess shines, creating communities that draw in readers immediately, even as the inhabitants are on the verge of personal implosions. Horrocks writes with simple precision, her characters wholly convincing in all their flaws and insecurities. Life Among the Terranauts proves shrewd and rewarding. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: These 14 stories by Caitlin Horrocks hauntingly explore a modern world populated by men and women who, despite communities of family, friends and colleagues, ultimately remain alone.

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