Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 8, 2021

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

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

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Author's Note Making Debut in Medina, N.Y., Next Month

After purchasing the Book Shoppe in Medina, N.Y., earlier this year, author and bookstore owner Julie Berry is planning to reopen the store as Author's Note: A Bookstore next month, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal reported.

The store is undergoing renovations that will make the space more open and a little bigger. It will still serve coffee, and the store's grand reopening will coincide with the launch of Berry's next book, Cranky.

Berry, who grew up in Medina, has moved back to own and operate Author's Note. She told the Journal that when she learned that the Book Shoppe was up for sale, she "couldn't bear the thought of it ceasing to be a bookstore" and felt that Medina needed a bookstore. She noted that when she last lived in Medina there was no bookstore in town.

"If there'd been a bookstore when I was a kid, oh my, I would've been pounding on the door begging for a job," Berry remarked.

Once the store is open for business and events are possible again, Berry hopes to make Author's Note a community hub. In particular, she wants to host events where writers can meet other writers, adding that she didn't meet another author until she was in college.

Berry said indie bookstores were "crucial" to her success, and she's followed the industry over the course of her career. "I really appreciate independent bookstores and I am a big believer in their importance to the publishing industry, to communities, to arts and culture and literacy in the community. They play such a role in getting kids excited by reading."

Previous owners Gloria and Federick Fierch put the store up for sale last year after buying it from longtime owner Sue Phillips in December 2019.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Tattered Cover Planning Children's Store in Aurora, Colo.

Tattered Cover Book Store plans to open a children's-focused store called TC for Kids this summer in Aurora, Colo., Westword reported.

TC for Kids will reside in a 1,400-square-foot space in Aurora's Stanley Marketplace, a collection of restaurants and other independent businesses in a former aviation factory. It will be the first Tattered Cover location to focus on books and gifts for children. The store will feature lower shelving and chalkboards, as well as a centerpiece mural with the theme of getting lost in a book. Eventually the bookstore will host plenty of children's events, including storytime sessions, birthday parties and author readings.

Kwame Spearman, CEO of Tattered Cover, told Westword that since he and chairman David Back purchased the business last year, their focus has been on making Tattered Cover a community institution, and "one of the biggest elements of a community is advancing youth literacy."

The store will be focused on the "youngest of readers," though there will be small selections of YA and adult titles. He added that when it comes to TC for Kids, they would "rather take this opportunity to create a space where a fifteen-year-old might feel too old to hang out, but a seven-year-old thinks it's a dream come true and the best place they've ever been."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Powell's Books and Union Clash over Staff Rehiring

On Tuesday, Patrick Bassett, CEO of Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., issued an open letter outlining the latest steps in the gradual reopening of Powell's stores and expanding staff (which was cut severely last year). The move will involve advertising open positions, which the staff's union is objecting to vociferously.

In the letter, Bassett noted that last summer, "as safety permitted, we were able to gradually reopen stores with limited hours. This allowed us to honor our labor contract and recall more than 170 employees who were previously laid off due to the economic impact of COVID-19." (The union has represented 400 staff members at Powell's before than pandemic began.) "Now that vaccination rates are increasing, and signs of economic recovery are starting to appear, Powell's will begin hiring additional employees," Bassett continued.

He said the rehiring process is "not as straightforward as we'd hoped" because under the contract between Powell's and the union "seniority and employment rights have expired for laid-off former employees, including any rights under the recall process."

He said Powell's "reached out to the Union on two occasions to find solutions that go above and beyond the labor contract, without success. Our most recent proposal would have temporarily extended former employees' access to the recall process for a period of six months as well as reinstate their previous paid time-off accrual rate, which would be significant to our longer-term former employees. We appreciate the working relationship we have with Local 5 and our joint efforts to creatively find an agreement beyond the contract. Unfortunately, the Union did not accept this offer. This means the original contract language regarding loss of all seniority and employment rights applies, and we will begin to advertise job openings."

He stated that "former Powell's employees whose seniority and employment were lost under the labor contract remain eligible to apply for new positions. Our hope is that many will express interest in these opportunities and secure reemployment with the company. It is also our goal that when former employees are hired for the same or a similar position that they held before, we will return them at their previous wage."

Bassett added that "Powell's has adhered to the labor contract at all times and fulfilled our commitments as described in the collective bargaining agreement, including maintaining employee benefits and wage increases during the pandemic without requesting mid-contract relief from the Union. We are proud of this work and our commitment to our employees."

In a statement, union representative Myka Dubay responded in part: "We are appalled at Powell's decision to eliminate the recall list and force laid off employees to apply for their former jobs. This action comes nearly a year after the Union and Company had reached mutual agreement, in writing, that the recall list would be maintained without timeline restrictions. The Union is looking into every avenue to hold Powell's to their contractual obligations as well as the moral imperative to treat workers ethically and not use the pandemic as an opportunity to reduce wages and benefits for longtime employees."

In addition, Dubay told the Oregonian that the union had been in talks with Powell's for the last two weeks and didn't know that an open letter would be released.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Children's Institute to Be Held Virtually

The 2021 Children's Institute, which was to be held in person in Tucson, Ariz., August 30-September 1, will be held virtually instead, on event platform Hopin over the same three days, Bookselling This Week reported. This is the second year in a row that Children's Institute has been held virtually.

The American Booksellers Association said that programming will include the usual events, including keynotes, author appearances, education sessions, rep picks presentations, social events, and more, "ABA's goal," it added, "is not to recreate the in-person experience of events but to cultivate a meeting that is rich, accessible, and educational and that reaches as many ABA booksellers as possible. It is our turn to come to you, curbside, where you are."

Like the poetry interludes during the virtual Winter Institute earlier this year, the Children's Insitute will offer story time interludes.

The ABA noted that booksellers who were selected as scholarship recipients for the 2020 event are encouraged to use their scholarship to join the 2021 event for free, because scholarships will not roll over for an additional year and the scholarship program will begin anew with the 2022 Children's Institute, for which recipients are encouraged to apply.

Registration for Ci9 opens June 15.

John Pitts Retires from Doubleday

John Pitts

John Pitts is retiring from Doubleday, effective May 1, nearly 35 years after joining the publisher's marketing department. In a memo announcing his retirement, Maya Mavjee, president and publisher, Knopf Doubleday, noted that Pitts worked on a range of bestselling books during his tenure with the company: "This is a testament to both his varied reading interests (John has always been our go-to marketer for science and sports titles in addition to a broad range of general nonfiction) and how his innovative marketing campaigns helped nurture and shape some of our biggest brands."

In addition to the long list of notable writers he worked with over the course of his career, there is one author with whom he has been associated since the beginning: John Grisham.

"John's dedicated, hands-on work has been essential to the Grisham brand--conceiving of and implementing marketing campaigns; managing Grisham's social media, web presence, and newsletters; writing and designing marketing collateral; and arranging inventive partnerships, all specifically tailored to each title," Mavjee wrote. From 1995's The Rainmaker to his forthcoming novel, Sooley, Pitts worked directly on every Grisham novel, nonfiction, and short-story collection for 26 years.

Grisham observed: "It is difficult to imagine publishing a book without the involvement of John Pitts. John was always 'in the room.' Always with fresh ideas, and new marketing strategies, and even editorial comment on the sly. I listened to John with every book. He will be missed not only as an integral team player, but as a loyal friend."


Image of the Day: Porridge Party at Copperfield's Petaluma

Sarah Mlynowski found a spot that was juuuust right when she dropped by Copperfield's, Petaluma, Calif., this past Monday to autograph copies of the newest book in her Whatever After series, Good As Gold (Scholastic), the day before its release. Copperfield's hosted an evening Porridge Party for kids who preordered the book: they picked up their personalized books and a bag of porridge packets (read: oatmeal) and fixins and other fun swag, and then jumped on a Zoom event with Mlynowski and Copperfield's Patty Norman where they ate their porridge (out of bowls that were too big, or too small, or just right) all while listening to a reading from the  book and playing Three Bears Trivia.

Pennie Picks: Remember

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has selected Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova (Harmony, $26.99, 9780593137956) as her pick for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she writes:

"One of the 'joys' of aging is what feels like nonstop forgetting: names, places, or why you entered the room.

"Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice, among other books, turns to nonfiction with her latest book, Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting. It's a fun read that makes the science of the brain relatable and easy to understand. It eases the reader's mind by showing that forgetfulness may not be a sign of anything worrisome but a normal part of the human experience. And she offers tips on how to create lasting memories."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Melinda Gates on A Little Late with Lilly Singh

A Little Late with Lilly Singh repeat: Melinda Gates, author of The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250257727).

This Weekend on Book TV: Senator Tammy Duckworth

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, April 10
11:55 a.m. Alec MacGillis, author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374159276), and Amelia Pang, author of Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods (Algonquin, $27.95, 9781616209179), at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

12:40 p.m. Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982111229), and Louis Chude-Sokei, author of Floating in a Most Peculiar Way: A Memoir (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9781328841582), at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

2 p.m. Nicholas Freudenberg, author of At What Cost: Modern Capitalism and the Future of Health (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780190078621). 

5 p.m. Mark Bittman, author of Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328974624). 

7 p.m. Kerry and Linda Killinger, authors of Nothing Is Too Big to Fail: How the Last Financial Crisis Informs Today (RosettaBooks, $29.99, 9781948122764). 

8 p.m. Jamal Greene, author of How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession with Rights Is Tearing America Apart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328518118). 

9 p.m. Hrishikesh Joshi, author of Why It's OK to Speak Your Mind (Routledge, $24.95, 9780367141721). (Re-airs Sunday at 4:25 p.m.)

10 p.m. Senator Tammy Duckworth, author of Every Day Is a Gift: A Memoir (Twelve, $30, 9781538718506). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, April 11
1 p.m. Don Lemon, author of This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316257572).

3:15 p.m. Julie DiCaro, author of Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America (Dutton, $27, 9781524746100). 

5:25 p.m. Cade Metz, author of Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World (Dutton, $28, 9781524742676). 

6:55 p.m. Jason Karlawish, author of The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250218735). 

7:55 p.m. Linda Colley, author of The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen: Warfare, Constitutions, and the Making of the Modern World (Liveright, $35, 9780871403162). 

10 p.m. Frederick M. Hess and Pedro A. Noguera, authors of A Search for Common Ground: Conversations About the Toughest Questions in K–12 Education (Teachers College Press, $24.95, 9780807765166). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.)

11 p.m. Kate Masur, author of Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Norton, $32, 9781324005933). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: American Academy of Arts & Letters Honorees

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the 18 writers who will receive its 2021 awards in literature. The prizes, totaling $600,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry. The academy's 300 members propose candidates, and a rotating committee of writers selects the recipients. Winners will be honored in a virtual presentation on May 19. See the complete list of literature award winners here.

In addition, the American Academy of Arts and Letters will present essayist and poet Rita Dove and composer Yehudi Wyner with Gold Medals for Poetry and Music, respectively. Given annually in two rotating categories of the arts, the medals recognizes those who have achieved eminence in an entire body of work. Artist and writer Phong Bui is being recognized with the academy's Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts for his significant contribution as co-founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn Rail.

During the virtual award ceremony, 29 new members, including 10 writers, and four honorary members will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Membership is limited to 300 architects, visual artists, composers and writers who are elected for life and pay no dues. The new members were elected by vote of the existing membership.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 13:

The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King (Atlantic Monthly Press, $30, 9780802158529) is a biography of Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci.

On the House: A Washington Memoir by John Boehner (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250238443) chronicles the author's time as Speaker of the House.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday, $32.50, 9780385545686) is an intergenerational portrait of the family behind OxyContin.

Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live--and How Their Wealth Harms Us All by Michael Mechanic (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982127213) is written by a senior editor at Mother Jones.

Ocean Prey by John Sandford (Putnam, $29, 9780593087022) is book 31 in the Prey thriller series.

When the Stars Go Dark: A Novel by Paula McLain (Ballantine, $28, 9780593237892) follows a detective hiding in a Northern California village.

Stargazer by Anne Hillerman (Harper, $27.99, 9780062908339) is book 24 in the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Navajo police series.

Under the Wave at Waimea by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780358446286) follows an aging big-wave surfer.

Dr. Disaster's Guide to Surviving Everything: Essential Advice for Any Situation Life Throws Your Way by Dr. John Torres (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780358494805) is written by NBC's senior medical correspondent.

A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It by Alex Riley (Scribner, $28, 9781501198779) gives a personal and scientific history of depression.

We Laugh Alike/Juntos nos reímos: A Story That's Part Spanish, Part English, and a Whole Lot of Fun by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illus. by Alyssa Bermudez (Charlesbridge, $17.99, 9781623540968) is a bilingual picture book adventure.

Yes & No by Elisha Cooper (Roaring Brook, $18.99, 9781250257338) is a picture book featuring a cat and puppy who experience the ups and downs of an average day.

The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s by Maggie Doherty (Vintage, $16.95, 9780525434603) is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

Just Get Home by Bridget Foley (MIRA, $16.99, 9780778331599).

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley, $16, 9780593336366).

Peace from Anxiety: Get Grounded, Build Resilience, and Stay Connected Amidst the Chaos by Hala Khouri (Shambhala, $17.95, 9781611808100).

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:

The Windsor Knot: A Novel by SJ Bennett (Morrow, $27.99, 9780063050006). "I love the idea of Queen Elizabeth sleuthing behind the scenes! As charmingly and convincingly portrayed by SJ Bennett, the Queen is an astute observer whose decades of experience serve her well in this role. When a Russian pianist is found dead at Windsor Castle, the new head of MI5 muddles the case and makes the mistake of treating the Queen like his doddering granny. It's up to the Queen to secretly and skillfully line up the pieces of the puzzle for MI5 to solve." --Margo Grimm Eule, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

Infinite Country: A Novel by Patricia Engel (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781982159467). "Patricia Engel's new book is a true gem, a family story in which each voice is equally interesting and dynamic as well as a great examination on the brutish nature of the U.S. government and citizens toward people traveling stateside to start a new life. Your heart breaks and mends and breaks all over again for this family. In less than 200 pages, Engel works magic James Harrod, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C.

The Knockout Queen: A Novel by Rufi Thorpe (Vintage, $16, 9780525567295). "To say I admire The Knockout Queen feels inadequate, though I do admire a great deal of it: its voice, depth, structure--you name it. But it's more honest just to say I love The Knockout Queen; I loved reading it, I felt involved in it, and, finally, I was so moved by its ending. This is an epic tale of friendship, one where the magnitude sneaks up on you quietly--but when it strikes home, it rings so brilliantly true." --Will Walton, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Little Library by Margaret McNamara, illus. by G. Brian Karas (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780525578338). "I love this book with the fire of a thousand suns--I, too, was a slow reader when I was a kid, and it's really nice to see this represented in a picture book in a positive way! Blending reading with woodworking is also a brilliant combination." --Kelsy April, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

For Ages 9 to 12
Across the Pond by Joy McCullough (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781534471214). "This a wonderful story that makes you feel like the world is brimming with possibilities even when everything seems to be going wrong. A lovely coming-of-age story about family, friendship, and birding with a little history thrown in, Across the Pond will make you smile so wide your face will hurt and it will warm your heart so much you'll never want to stop grinning." --Marielle Orff, Towne Book Center and Wine Bar, Collegeville, Pa.

For Teen Readers
Namesake by Adrienne Young (Wednesday Books, $18.99, 9781250254399). "Namesake is a beautiful conclusion to the story begun in Fable. In Namesake, you get to see all the characters grow is such a perfect way. The descriptions are beautiful, and I loved diving below the sea with Fable again. In this book, we follow Fable as she tries to find her way back to the Marigold through new alliances as well as old and new enemies, but we don't know who will come through to help her. I didn't want this book to end." --Blair Bayless, Copperfield's Books, Calistoga, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?

Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?: Essays by Jenny Diski (Bloomsbury, $28 hardcover, 448p., 9781526621900, April 20, 2021)

When the English writer Jenny Diski learned that she had inoperable cancer in 2014, her distress at the prospect of dying was rivaled by her fear that her life would play out as a cliché: "The future flashed before my eyes in all its pre-ordained banality." Diski (1947-2016) spent her career as a writer of fiction and nonfiction avoiding clichés, and readers can be assured that Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?, a collection of 33 of her incisive and pugnacious essays for the London Review of Books, is a bromide-free zone.

Diski wrote withering social criticism and had an outsize talent for distilling discomforting truths. On the sinking of the Titanic: "It was, of course, a gift for those who saw disaster in modernity." On Charles and Diana's split: "Take the bright lights away and you have a regular messy divorce, friends taking sides, money, adultery, using the kids. The only remarkable thing was that he left her for an older woman." Readers of Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told? who are new to Diski's work will be awed not just by her die-cut sentences but also by the range of her apparent authority. One can imagine LRB editors making a game of futilely trying to find a subject on which Diski could get no purchase. A book on the history of office space? How about Keith Richards's autobiography? What about an anthology called Jews and Shoes? Diski took the pulse of each one.

She could be a pitiless takedown artist, especially when reviewing books about formidable women who were eclipsed by the men in their lives, including Véra Nabokov, Sonia Orwell and Elisabeth Nietzsche. Of Martha Freud, wife of Sigmund, Diski wrote with painterly sarcasm, "The big idea seems to be that we must value her contribution to the development of psychoanalysis as the provider of a peaceful home life for its founder. The sine qua non of radical thought is someone else changing the baby's nappy."

The thread linking all the pieces in Why Didn't You Just Do What You Were Told?, which span 1992 to 2014, is Diski's personal history, which comprised a harrowing childhood ("I came from a family of suicidal hysterics") and intermittent mental health problems. How she managed regularly to self-disclose without toggling over into self-absorption is a secret that she has taken to her lamentably early grave. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This collection of 33 essays by the English writer, who died in 2016, showcases her talent for biting criticism and her facility with the non-egotistical self-disclosure.

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