Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 5, 2021

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


Indiana Bookstore to Reopen After 25-Year Hiatus

The new Morgenstern Books in progress.

Wow. Morgenstern Books, the Bloomington, Ind., bookstore that closed in 1996, plans to reopen later this spring, the Indiana Daily Student reported.

Rick Morgenstern, who was the original owner, has partners in the revived bookstore, including Dr. Todd Eads, a neurosurgeon and an Indiana University alumnus. Eads is new to bookselling but said books have always been an important part of his life, especially since he went to medical school. "As we get older, we have to continue to read to expand our knowledge and our vision," he told the paper. "Books are one of the ways we do that."

Mitch Teplitsky, who handles public relations and communications for Morgenstern Books, added that the impetus for the reopening came in 2018, when Rick Morgenstern published a letter in the Herald-Times asking former customers how they felt about him reopening. The response to the letter was extremely positive.

And that has continued, Teplitsky said: "There's been so much outpouring of genuine excitement that the bookstore is coming back. People know and remember Rick."

The revived Morgenstern Books will be in an old Pier 1 Imports site at 849 Automall Road, not its old location at 2650 E. Third St. The store is already selling online on

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Bookstores Show Support for AAPI Community

At Harvard Book Store

In response to the murder last month of eight people in Atlanta, Ga., and the ongoing rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, bookstores around the country have worked to support and show solidarity with the AAPI community in a variety of ways. They've posted reading lists, donated funds, made displays and more. Below is a selection of what some bookstores and booksellers have done in recent weeks.

Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria in Washington Heights, N.Y., held a vigil last Tuesday night to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Atlanta and to call for solidarity among all groups Uptown. The masked vigil was held at Mitchel Square Park on Broadway, with Word Up founder Veronica Liu estimating that between 150-175 people attended.

Speakers at the vigil included Kajori Chaudhuri, a neighborhood resident and the New York City commissioner for human rights; Kevin Nadal, scholar, author and neighborhood resident; Liu; and several partners from both a local service organization and an afterschool program. After that, Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa addressed the crowd.

Word Up's Veronica Liu at the vigil last Tuesday. (photo: Emmanuel Abreu)

Liu and the other members of the Word Up nonprofit collective plan for this to be the first of many such events. They've called upon local government, social service non-profits and arts groups to proactively set up dialogue spaces and they want diverse narratives of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community represented in local school curricula. They've also implored community members to be "good bystanders" should they ever see someone wronged due to their race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

Ideas for future events, she added, include bystander training and a youth-focused event that preferably would also be youth-led.

She noted that the vigil came together very quickly, with everything organized between Saturday, March 27, and Tuesday, March 30. Just a few hours after Word Up sent out an initial e-mail about the event on Monday morning, "two more hate crimes took place, in Times Square and on the subway."

Jhoanna Belfer, owner of Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, Calif., helped launch the Stand Up for AAPI campaign, a campaign through which social media users have been using the #StandUpForAAPI hashtag to share their experiences with racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, spread calls to action to support AAPI organizations, promote the work of AAPI creators and discuss the need for AAPI representation in the literary world.

The campaign originated with bookstagram influencer Michelle Jocson and the author Suzanne Park (So We Meet Again, Loathe at First Sight), who then turned to Belfer and several others to develop and launch the campaign. Since the start of the campaign, the hashtag has been used on nearly 3,500 Instagram posts. 

"Our goal is to support the AAPI community and celebrate the power of storytelling as a tool for inspiration, discovery and understanding," Belfer told Forbes last month. She added that she wants to see publishing houses engage more directly with the AAPI community, which would include doing things like launching Asian-American-focused imprints. She pointed to the HarperCollins imprint Heartdrum, which publishes the work of Native creators, as a model that publishers might follow.

Some of the titles on Third Place Books' AAPI list.

Between March 26 and April 4, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna and Seward Park, Wash., donated 20% of sales from a list of books by Asian American authors to API Chaya, a Seattle nonprofit that serves to support Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

Booksellers at the three store locations helped curate the list, which included bestsellers like Minor Feelings by Cathy Hong Park and Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, as well as books written by Seattle writers, such as Diana Ma's Heiress Apparently and Ron Chew's Unforgotten Seattle. The full list can be found here.

The American Booksellers Association, meanwhile, has expanded its Antiracism Resources page, adding links to reading lists and other resources pertaining directly to the AAPI community.

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Moe's Books and Union to Negotiate Over Safety, Job Security

Berkeleyside offers a long overview of the areas of conflict between ownership and the new union at Moe's Books, Berkeley, Calif., which is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World and was voted in a month ago. Doris Moskowitz, owner and daughter of Moe Moskowitz, who founded the store in 1959, and the union will officially meet at the bargaining table for the first time this coming Thursday, April 8.

The two sides differ "on how best to ensure worker safety while allowing Moe's to continue to thrive," Berkleyeside wrote. "The conflict centers largely around store capacity and employment status."

Moskowitz has limited how many customers are allowed in the store at the same time far below local and state guidelines and has not violated any labor laws, but the union says that too many people are being allowed in and that staff should be protected from retaliation.

While Moe's usually can have a capacity of 166 people in its four-floor building, and as of a month ago, pandemic-related regulations allow it to have that many people in the store, Moe's capacity since early December has ranged between 14 and 33.

Berkeleyside said that Moe's staff "feel that the way the store is set up and how customers use the space requires that a much lower capacity be enforced. People mostly gather, and sometimes bunch together, in the basement and on the second floor. Bookshelves take up much of the space, causing people to bunch together and making it hard for workers to see customers.

"Moe's workers often have to remind customers to put their masks over their noses, keep their masks on when they talk on the phone and go outside if they have to blow their noses. When more customers are in the large store, it's hard for workers to keep track of whether people are following mask protocols, they said."

Moskowitz said to Berkeleyside that because of the store's large size, her capacity limits are safe and that lower capacity limits would hurt Moe's sales, which have taken a big hit since the pandemic started. "Sales are terrible," she wrote. "Improving as people come out to see us, but dire, over 40% down for more than a year."

According to Berkeleyside, Moe's has been open for six hours a day, down from its usual 12 hours a day. Of the 20 union members, "12 are doing public-facing work, four are working in offices at Moe's, and four are doing work from home or are going to the store before it opens. Three of these four workers live with immunocompromised people or are at risk due to age but plan to come back when they are fully vaccinated, which will likely be by the end of this month. One worker says their work doesn't necessitate coming into the store."

The union has wanted the staff to be recategorized from at-will, meaning they can be fired for any reason or for no reason at any time, to just-cause, meaning they can be fired only for misconduct or another event relevant to employment.

Berkeleyside added: "Moe's workers feel that they have already been retaliated against, as one worker has lost six hours, or a current full working day, of employment since Moe's union was formed. When asked about the cut hours, Moskowitz said there was no 'unlawful action, but I expect this will be a discussion topic in upcoming bargaining.' "

Both sides affirm a commitment to making Moe's Books thrive. Moskowitz said that the staff's "decision to unionize, which I deeply respect from a political perspective, has left me very sad and confused. My hope is that we will come out of this a more fair and open place where we can all express ourselves and get the help we need to hold Moe's together."

Union member Owen Hill, who has worked at the store for 34 years, said, "This is about making the store the best store it can be. The way to support our union best is to go to Moe's, show your support, and buy a book."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

International Update: Bookselling Ireland Calls for Bookshops to Be 'Essential Retail'

Bookselling Ireland sent a letter to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin requesting that bookshops be classed as "essential" retail and allowed to open or be granted special dispensation to offer click and collect services. The Bookseller reported that the group "compiled the letter as France has joined Italy and other European countries in allowing bookshops to remain open during lockdown. In Scotland, which has followed a similar approach to Ireland regarding lockdown, bookshops were one of the first retail businesses permitted to operate a pre-booked click and collect service."

"Bookshops are so much more than a place to buy books--they are cultural hubs that play a unique role in supporting Irish writers, bringing life to our towns and giving readers windows into different worlds when we need it the most," said Heidi Murphy, chair of Bookselling Ireland and buying manager at WH Smith. "Bookshops have been designated as 'essential' in many other European countries and, if we want to continue our great literary tradition, Ireland must surely follow suit."

The letter states, in part: "The bookselling industry is vital, not only in providing a service that improves people's mental health during difficult times and providing educational material for children, but also in supporting the proud literary culture in Ireland by showcasing books by Irish publishers and introducing new authors to the wider public. We appreciate that many parts of the retail sector are struggling at the moment. However, none match bookshops when it comes to supporting community engagement, mental wellbeing and cultural significance. As a trade association we are committed to working with our members to help them operate in a way that is Covid-safe and poses the lowest possible risk to customers."


The Börsenverein, the German book industry association, is dropping the Book Days Berlin conference in June from its 2021 program due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, the European & International Booksellers Federation's NewsFlash reported. As an alternative, the organization is planning numerous other events to support networking, mentoring and outreach activities for its members and wider book industry.


The Booksellers Association of Nigeria has released the first Nigerian Booksellers Directory, 2021 as an e-book, with the print edition to be presented later in the year. The directory contains a listing of bookshops and bookselling organizations across the country. It also aggregates data on tertiary institutions as well as tourist sites in the country and attempts a contrast with earlier data obtained from a similar initiative in 2005.

Explaining the motivation for the project, Dare Oluwatuyi, BAN president and managing director of CSS Bookshops Limited, cited two principal reasons: "The first was the need to find and connect with the vast array of booksellers in the country and bring them into their natural habitat as fully performing and very active members of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria. Since we did not have the data to work with, we had to go out there to gather it. Second, we were also very conscious of the fact that both for our professional security and continuing leverage among other factors, we needed to have a directory of this nature that we are presenting today."


"Walk past a bookshop without going in?? Never!" Farrells Bookshop, Mornington, Vic., Australia, noted in sharing a photo of the bookstore's sidewalk chalkboard message: "Psst... Hey you! Come here! Closer, c'mon, closer! Do you realize that you just about passed a bookstore? We just saved you from a whole lot of boredom. You're welcome!" --Robert Gray

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Pennie Clark Ianniciello Retires from Costco

Pennie Clark Ianniciello

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, longtime book buyer at Costco Wholesale, has retired. She had been at Costco for 32 years and in the book industry since starting at Pacific Pipeline, the former Northwest wholesaler, in 1980.

We will miss her--and her monthly picks in Costco Connection!


April Fool's Day Update: Indie Booksellers Join the Fun

Shelf Awareness editors always have a great time assembling the annual "For Fun" edition of SA on April 1, but we also want to acknowledge some indie booksellers who shared their own imaginative pranks with us this year.

Brilliant Books, Traverse City, Mich., launched a (fictional) organization called BATS: Booksellers Against Trick Spines. "What started as an in-joke among our booksellers snowballed into an April Fool's prank that we hope book lovers across the country can enjoy," noted Caitlin Marsh, director of digital marketing and events. "While the organization is fake, we do hope it garners real support for booksellers. A portion of proceeds from any merchandise sold will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, and the BATS 'donation' page links instead to BINC, after a bit of an explanation about the joke."

Zenith Bookstore, Duluth, Minn., produced an April Fool's Day newsletter that led with the headline "Bernie Sanders to Buy Zenith Bookstore!" ("Sanders was particularly taken by the Duluth store's funky socks merchandise, and plans to introduce a new line of mittens, which will be perfect for the Northland."). It also featured social distancing recommendations ("please stay six feet, or one TBR pile, distance between people"), news headlines ("Area man has just one more chapter to go before giving partner their birthday book gift"), a 1% off sale and much more.

In her April 1 blog post headlined "If You Can't Beat 'Em," Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar, Denver, Colo., wrote, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, that after a year of pandemic-induced business challenges, "we asked ourselves what we could possibly be doing wrong. We dug deep into Amazon business practices and decided to emulate them in order to not only survive but thrive! Big changes are coming to how BookBar does business on April 1, 2021. We think you'll like what we've come up with.

"So, we're just going to do all the things.... Next up--web services, grocery stores, shoes and a full-service marketplace where we will pit our customers against one another to compete for sales (each others' and ours) while borrowing their ideas for our own. We'll add movies and TV shows and streaming services, a BookBar credit card where, instead of 10% of all books sales going to BookGive, we'll just do 0.5% and call it good. It's really the only way to get ahead. Look for BookBar car dealerships, hair salons, pet stores, and funeral services. Pet hair salons and pet funeral services? Why not?" And that's just the start of Nicole's radical re-envisioning of BookBar's new mission. 

Masking Up: Deadtime Stories

A timely reminder from Deadtime Stories: True Crime and Other Books, Lansing, Mich., as Covid-19 cases continue to rise: "Just a reminder as we head into a busy, beautiful weekend. MASKS ARE REQUIRED at Deadtime Stories. Down over the chin, and up over the nose. We only want to see your beautiful eyes. Nobody wants to have to play mask police, but we will not allow staff or customers to be made to feel unsafe. We're still in a pandemic, and unfortunately numbers are on the rise again in Mid-Michigan. Let's all do our part.

"We have a fancy schmancy air purifier with a HEPA filter running at all times. If it's nice, we'll have the doors open. We have a hand sanitizing station and regularly disinfect common surfaces. We stick to 50% capacity. We wear masks all day long. We simply need you to wear them also while you're inside the store. Thanks for understanding."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Senator Tammy Duckworth on Colbert's Late Show, the View

Good Morning America: Brandi Carlile, author of Broken Horses: A Memoir (Crown, $28, 9780593237243).

Also on GMA: Ken Lindner, author of Career Choreography: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Job and Achieving Huge Success and Happiness (Greenleaf Book Group, $23.95, 9781626348424).

Ellen: John Cena, author of Do Your Best Every Day to Do Your Best Every Day: Encouraging Words from John Cena (Random House, $14.99, 9780593377222). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Also on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Senator Tammy Duckworth, author of Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir (Twelve, $30, 9781538718506). She will also appear tomorrow on the View.

Today Show: Erin French, author of Finding Freedom: A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch (Celadon, $28, 9781250312341).

Good Morning America: Jennifer Barrett, author of Think Like a Breadwinner: A Wealth-Building Manifesto for Women Who Want to Earn More (and Worry Less) (Putnam, $26, 9780593327890).

Tamron Hall repeat: Michelle Obama, author of Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780593303740).

Watch What Happens Live: Leslie Jordan, author of How Y'all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived (Morrow, $26.99, 9780063076198).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Neil deGrasse Tyson, co-author of Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going (National Geographic, $30, 9781426221774).

TV: Pieces of Her

Nicholas Burton (Damaged) and Aaron Jeffery (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) will play recurring characters in Netflix's dramatic thriller series Pieces of Her, starring Toni Collette and Bella Heathcote. Deadline reported that the eight-episode series, based on the 2018 book by Karin Slaughter, "comes from an all-female creative team led by Charlotte Stoudt, Bruna Papandrea, Lesli Linka Glatter and Minkie Spiro, who will direct the season."

Written by Stoudt, who serves as showrunner, Pieces of Her's cast also includes Jessica Barden, David Wenham, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Scipio, Omari Hardwick, and guest stars Terry O'Quinn, Gil Birmingham and Calum Worthy.

Books & Authors

Awards: Anisfield-Wolf Winners

The winners of the 2021 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation and honoring "literature that confronts racism and explores diversity," are:

Nonfiction (co-winners):
Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War by Vincent Brown (Belknap Press)
Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir by Natasha Trethewey (Ecco)
Fiction: Deacon King Kong by James McBride (Riverhead Books)
Poetry: Obit by Victoria Chang (Copper Canyon Press)
Lifetime Achievement: Samuel R. Delany

Book Review

Review: Popisho

Popisho by Leone Ross (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 hardcover, 480p., 9780374602451, April 20, 2021)

Leone Ross (Orange Laughter) took 15 years to write her fourth book, Popisho. This sweat equity has yielded an enthralling and vivid portrait of a people and a place, brimming with love, politics, grief, addiction, sex, varicolored humor and some impossible flora and fauna.

Inspired by Jamaica, where Ross grew up, the fictional archipelago of Popisho is home to peoples gifted by the gods with an extra-magical ability called cors, a "little something-something... so inexpressibly [their] own." Here, "strange things ordinary."

Xavier Redchoose's wife is dead. Weighted by guilt, he's pulling out of a year of immobilizing sorrow still wondering why her ghost has yet to return to him so that he can put her to rest in the traditional manner. As the current macaenus, his cors is the ability to "flavour food through the palm of his hands" and create for his diners a bespoke meal made "out of their feelings." There's an important feast to prepare, ingredients to hunt, but his wife isn't the only ghost preoccupying him as lost loves and old habits resurface.

Anise has "intimate comprehension of other people's bodies" and uses it to heal them. Even so, she can't stop the multiple miscarriages she suffers. These deaths have taken a toll on her marriage and now she's out looking for her missing husband. Elsewhere, twins Sonteine and Romanza defy their powerful father to fight for both love and agency, and the marginalized indigenous people of the archipelago sense something has gone wrong with the islands and their communities.

At the heart of Popisho's flushed stage--full of everyday "fool-fool madness," vexing graffiti from a mysterious source, swelling civil unease, impending nuptials, a carnivalesque beauty contest, an incoming mythological hurricane with an agenda, and an anatomical mishap that befalls a large portion of the island--is Ross's ability to build a controlled and timed emotional crescendo and collapse it to relief or revelation. Occasional vignettes of random and unsettling asides undergird the characterization of the archipelago's singularity.

Popisho is thick with imagery and memories, making it easy to miss that this engrossing 480-page story unfolds mostly over the span of one day. While some of the gender dynamics are a bit constricting, Ross otherwise flips order on its head and imbues complex and lively depth into each character, their (mis)adventures and the colonial legacies of the islands. Popisho is a wonder-filled and entertaining reflection on death, freedom, community and recovery. --Shannon Hanks-Mackey, editor and writer

Shelf Talker: Over the course of a day, inhabitants of a fantastical chain of islands seek love and freedom amid unruly magic and corrupt politics.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in March

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during March:

1. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah (Macmillan Audio)
4. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (Harlequin Audio)
5. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Macmillan Audio)
7. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn (HarperAudio)
8. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Macmillan Audio)
9. Circe by Madeline Miller (Hachette Audio)
10. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (Penguin Random House Audio)
1. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Tantor Media)
7. The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster Audio)
8. Think Again by Adam Grant (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (Penguin Random House Audio)

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