Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021: Maximum Shelf: Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley

Quotation of the Day

The Indie Bookstore As 'A Very Optimistic Space'

"It's a very optimistic space. We have a really great community and they've been amazing to us and we've been able to respond to them and give them what they want in a space that is beautiful, but comfortable....

"I grew up reading everything, but with a sort of mundane day to day life. I think we love existing outside ourselves. You're hearing these stories and you know they exist somewhere. And when you go into a bookstore and see hundreds of books, you see hundreds of stories. I think it leads to empathy and it gives you that connection to someone else. I think that is so important."

--Mary Cotton, co-owner (with husband Jaime Clark) of Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., in a recent Boston Globe profile 

Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker


New Owners Moving Sheridan Stationery Books and Gallery in Wyoming

Sheridan Stationery Books and Gallery's current location

Nick and Jessica Bohnsack, the new owners of Sheridan Stationery Books and Gallery in Sheridan, Wyo., are moving the bookstore to a new location, the Sheridan Press reported

The new space will be further north on Sheridan's Main Street, and while it will no longer be right in Sheridan's downtown, the store will have dedicated parking and more square footage. The store has closed for the move, and the Bohnsacks hope to reopen by June 1. They plan to expand the book inventory and help support local microbusinesses by offering shelf space for their products.

Jessica Bohnsack, who has been a retail manager for a greenhouse, nursery and landscaping company for 15 years, will handle bookstore operations. Nick Bohnsack will continue working full-time for the railroad.

Purchasing the store, Bohnsack told the Press, came about very suddenly. Roughly eight weeks ago she told an acquaintance that if Robby and John Smith, the former owners of Sheridan Stationery, Books and Gallery, ever retired, she'd be interested in buying the bookstore. Although Bohnsack thought this would happen in a few years, the Smiths were already in the process of retiring. The Bohnsacks and the Smiths met, and then things happened very quickly.

"I figured it would be a couple of years, but it was the next day," Bohnsack said, who has always wanted to own a business of her own. "For me, it was a chance to follow the path that was out in front of me. If it worked, it worked. If not, it wasn't meant to be."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Fire Scare at Three Sisters Books & Gifts in Shelbyville, Ind. 

Firefighters in Shelbyville, Ind., responded yesterday to a call reporting smoke from the second floor of the Public Square building that houses Three Sisters Books & Gifts and the Bookmark Coffee & Company. The Shelby County Post reported that "it appears pavers on the downtown reconstruction got too close to the building while using a torch."

In a Facebook post, the bookstore noted: "We are all out and ok. Three Sisters and the Bookmark will be closed for the rest of the day." Several hours later, the bookstore added: "Thanks to everyone who expressed concern and offered help. We are dealing with the damage and hope to reopen the Bookmark soon."

A sign was posted outside the store with an update: "Due to the fire, the Bookmark will be closed until we get repaired, cleaned and restocked. Three Sisters Books will be open our regular hours but will be closed on Saturday, April 24 for a family event. We will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, May 1. Thanks for your patience."

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

U.S. Book Show Sets Schedule, Speakers

The U.S. Book Show, organized by Publishers Weekly and scheduled to be take place virtually Tuesday-Thursday, May 25-27, will feature editor, book and author panels; livestreamed q&a sessions with editors; topical library panels; professional programming geared to publishing professionals; networking opportunities and awards celebrations; and exhibit halls featuring a range of publishers, sideline producers, distributors, library data providers and more. As indicated by the timing, the show aims to fill the void created by the cancellation of BookExpo this year. Among the events planned:

Editors' panels include ones that will focus on children's and adult comics and graphic novels, mysteries and thrillers, bio/memoir, literary fiction, current affairs, picture books, middle grade and YA. Panelists for "Post Pandemic Bookselling" are Nina Barrett, owner, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill.; Danny Caine, owner, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan.; Bryanne Hoeg, store manager, Powell's City of Books, Portland, Ore.; and Kwame Spearman, co-owner and CEO, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo. Other panels will focus on how to sell more books online; political books; hiring to prioritize inclusivity; and the future of the publishing office.

Senator Elizabeth Warren will give a keynote on Thursday, May 27, "children's day," to discuss her forthcoming children's book, Pinkie Promises, illustrated by Charlene Chua (Holt), and her "pinkie promise" relationship with the young people who supported her candidacy for president in 2020. She will be joined by Laura Godwin, publisher of Godwin Books and editor of Pinkie Promises.

Ijeoma Oluo, the author of So You Want to Talk About Race and Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power, will be in conversation with Rakesh Satyal, executive editor at HarperOne, who acquired Oluo's forthcoming book, Be a Revolution.

The annual ceremony naming the Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year and Sales Representative of the Year will be held on Tuesday, May 25, 4:30-5:30 p.m., and be hosted by editorial director Jim Milliot. Shortlists have been announced and can be seen here.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

How Bookstores Are Coping: Almost Normal; Bullish on 2021

At Phinney Books in Seattle, Wash., things "feel normal, although they aren't quite," reported store owner Tom Nissley. The store has essentially operated in the same way since last June: customers can browse, but no more than five people are allowed in at a time, and of course masks are required. Phinney Books is hosting no events inside or outside the store, but aside from that, Nissley and his team have been able to "feel like a regular bookstore."

All told, 2020 ended up being Phinney Books' best year in business (the shop opened in 2014). There were some slow months in the spring, Nissley noted, but the store was buoyed by pick-up and delivery orders, as well as sales. The store has been busy ever since it reopened last summer, and Nissley pointed to a few factors that he thinks helped. For one thing, the store is small, but "not too small," and has high ceilings.

Phinney Books is also located in a residential neighborhood where many of the store's customers are home nearly all day. The lack of events has not had a huge impact on the store, as it did not hugely rely on events in the first place. There's also been plenty of local support for small businesses, and the team has been lucky to stay healthy.

Asked about any surprising bright spots amid the pandemic, Nissley said that the team "finally got our act together with shipping," and they've seen lots of new customers. Many of those customers, he added, have mentioned that it was the pandemic that finally "got them to give up the Amazon habit." The bookstore team also found out that making local deliveries was not only possible but also enjoyable, at least when done for a limited time each day.

So far in 2021 the store has been busy and Nissley hopes things continue that way. Given that the store has always had a limited events schedule, "a grand return" to author events will not be a major focus for later in the year. School book fairs, however, have become a big part of the business, and while the store has had some success with virtual book fairs, Nissley looks forward to "hauling loads of books back into school buildings in the fall," if possible.


James Crossley, manager of Madison Books in Seattle, Wash., which is the sister store of Phinney Books, reported that the store is functioning "almost normally." Staff and customers remain masked and occupancy is still limited, although Crossley said he feels that they may be getting close to easing some of the occupancy restrictions.

2020 was "actually a solid year in the end," despite all the stress and confusion, although Crossley noted that since the store opened in April 2019, there wasn't much of a track record to compare 2020 against. Over-the-counter sales were up a bit over the previous year, and with the addition of online sales, which the store didn't do at all in 2019, Madison Books was "well ahead."

Bright spots, Crossley continued, were many. Customers were "consciously supportive" throughout the year, and Crossley and the team felt they were able to return the favor by providing a safe space for them to visit, both in a physical and intellectual sense, in an "extraordinarily trying time." Going into 2020, the store had already planned to grow its online presence, but the pandemic gave the team "a kick in the pants to get that done faster and better." He added that they're "pretty happy" with what they've been able to do with Instagram and Bookshop.

Last summer, Madison Books teamed up with two other Pacific Northwest bookstores--Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., and Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Ore.--to create the virtual event series Books in Common NW. Recent highlights have included the "Indie All-Star Game," presented in conjunction with Biblioasis, and an appearance by Jonathan Meiburg to talk about his book A Most Remarkable Creature. Making connections with readers and booksellers around the U.S. has been a "great joy."

Asked about his outlook for 2021, Crossley said that they're "bullish." The staff will be fully vaccinated by the end of April and they've been hearing the same thing from more and more customers. They'll continue to host online events at least through the fall, but summer should bring more shoppers in store and potentially some outdoor gatherings. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Kathleen Andrews

Kathleen W. Andrews

Kathleen Andrews, former vice chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal and CEO of Andrews McMeel Publishing, died April 16. She was 84. In 1970, Andrews and her husband, Jim, whom she had met as a graduate student at the University of Notre Dame, founded Universal Press Syndicate (now AMU) with John and Susan McMeel. She served as CFO and secretary in its early years, pausing her full-time involvement to care for her two sons, though she remained closely tied to its operations. 

After her husband's death in 1980, Andrews returned to the company and with McMeel built it into the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world, as well as a publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing, serving as CEO of AMP. She retired in 2006, though her presence remains in AMU's culture and heritage.

"Kathy was just outstanding--with tremendous insight as a shrewd and savvy chief executive, and as a compassionate, thoughtful leader," said AMU chairman emeritus John McMeel. "I am honored to call her my business partner, and my dear friend, of more than 50 years. She was a very special human being--and we will miss her wise counsel and dry wit very much."

AMU CEO Andy Sareyan added: "Kathy is essential to the DNA of AMU. She has been integral to many of its most successful ventures--from Ziggy and Doonesbury to The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. We will strive to continue her mission with John as a 'creator-first' operation, and are honored to have such a tremendous example to guide us."

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau described Andrews as "the indispensable Mom in the Mom-and-Pop basement operation that drew young creators to Leawood, Kansas. Success seemed unlikely, so it took someone with a sharp, critical financial eye to make it probable. Kathy's mastery of spreadsheets kept the lights on; her warmth and graciousness kept her visitors charmed and reassured--then and for years to come. All of us will miss her greatly."

Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip Cathy, noted: "Her great, generous heart helped hold me together in the beginning years. Her devotion to her own family and to the corporate family she helped wrap around all of us lucky enough to be with Universal Press Syndicate (AMU) helped sustain me for all the years that followed. She was a rock of security, a trusted sounding board, and a dear friend. I will be always be grateful to Kathy for being such a great role model of strength, integrity and humor, and for the wonderful life my family and I had because of her belief in me."


Image of the Day: Couch Surfing with Warwick's

Warwicks, La Jolla, Calif., celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Couch Surfing Book Tour series, hosted by authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. The series has featured more than 50 authors since April 2020, and many of them joined in for the party last evening.

IBD Video: Rediscovered Books

In a new YouTube video for Indie Bookstore Day, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho, posed the eternal bookseller questions: "Will Hanna prevail with the power of tall? Or will Jane Alice and Maisel use their aviary connection and emerge victorious? It's up to you, dear viewer! Vote in the comments below. The winner will be revealed on Indie Bookstore Day (April 24th, 2021). If you would like your very own bookseller trading card, you can get one by coming into the store or ordering online on April 24th, 2021. It's been a heck of a year and we couldn't have done it without the support of radical customers like yourself."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Laurie Woolever on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Laurie Woolever, co-author of World Travel: An Irreverent Guide (Ecco, $35, 9780062802798).

Good Morning America: Rupi Kaur, author of The Moon and Her Stars (Andrews McMeel, $16.99, 9781087956480).

Drew Barrymore Show: 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: The Secret Life of Groceries; The Tower

Benjamin Lorr's nonfiction book The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket will be turned into a TV docuseries. Deadline reported that producer Truly Original (The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Ink Master) optioned the book and is developing the project.

Through a blend of investigative journalism and travelogue, Lorr "will go even deeper, offering an inside-out perspective of a world he describes as 'Alice in Wonderland-like surreal' and 'claustrophobically secretive,' whose gatekeepers would prefer to keep out of sight at all costs," Deadline wrote.

Lorr said: "I want to upend how we think about buying food. Retail grocery is a reflection, and this is going to be a 'warts and all' look in the mirror. We have a massive industry carefully calibrated to consumer demands, and it's been doing a damn good job. But how? And at what cost? This show will be an entertaining exploration of a system that's way too good to be true, unveiling every hero, villain, beauty and blemish behind it."

Truly Original's co-CEOs and executive producers Steven Weinstock and Glenda Hersh added: "Ben's expertise, wit, deep curiosity and empathic nature make him an ideal tour guide through what he cites as the 'miracle' of the American supermarket. Coming off a year when appreciation for grocery stores is off the charts, and rightly so, we think this project will amaze viewers and really hit home."

Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones, Killing Eve) has been cast as the lead in ITV's drama series The Tower, writer Patrick Harbinson's (Homeland) three-part adaptation of Kate London's Metropolitan Police novel Post Mortem, Deadline reported. 

With filming scheduled to start this month, The Tower is produced by Harbinson's new production company Windhover Films and Mammoth Screen, the ITV Studios-owned producer behind BBC/Netflix series The Serpent and Poldark. It is made in association with ITV Studios, which distributes internationally.

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Dagger Longlists

The Crime Writers Association announced the longlists for the annual Dagger Awards. Shortlists will be revealed May 20 and winners named July 1 at the virtual Daggers Live ceremony. The 2020 Diamond Dagger, celebrating the recipient's contribution to crime fiction, will be given to author Martina Cole. Check out the complete Dagger longlists here.

Reading with... J. Nicole Jones

photo: Ben Bromley

J. Nicole Jones received an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University in 2012. She has held editorial positions at VICE magazine and Her essays and writing have appeared in VICE,, the Harper's magazine website, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, the Paris Review Daily and elsewhere. Originally from South Carolina, she lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Tennessee. Low Country: A Memoir (Catapult, April 13, 2021) is her first book.

On your nightstand now:

Samantha Irby's Wow, No Thank You. During the pandemic, this book has been a lifeline. Re-reading feels like being with a friend, and it's especially comforting before going to sleep. If I'm lucky, I'll fall asleep reading this, and wake up to one of her newsletters in my inbox. Julia Blackburn's The Emperor's Last Island is next to the bed, too, but that is more of an afternoon book at the moment.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach or Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. By middle school, it was Edith Hamilton's Mythology. A black mass market paperback, with a picture of Perseus holding Medusa's head. I took that with me everywhere for a while.

Your top five authors:

W.G. Sebald, Thomas Bernhard, Barbara Comyns, Leo Tolstoy, Shirley Jackson.

Book you've faked reading:

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. Also Crime & Punishment. I've tried so many times to read Dostoyevsky, and he just doesn't click for me. To my shame, I usually can't make it beyond the first 30 pages. But I've really, really tried!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. A close friend from British Columbia gave me this book 15 (or more--yikes) years ago, and now I give out copies left and right. Robinson is a First Nations author from Canada, and this novel won some big Canadian prizes. Why it isn't everywhere in the U.S. baffles me. This book has everything: lyrical prose, nature writing that is alternately enchanting and fearsome, history, family drama and secrets, magic, Sasquatches, more secrets. I adore this book and am an Eden Robinson mega fan.  

Also, Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson, which is unconventional and devastating in entirely different ways. A woman calmly narrates her descent into either insanity, or her survival amid the ruins of art after an unnamed apocalypse. Somehow it works. How did Markson do that? The narrator is almost like an anti-Humbert Humbert.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Recently, I bought a new edition of one of my favorites exclusively for the stunning cover: Barbara Comyns's Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, republished by Daunt Books. The title is the ultimate writing advice.

Book you hid from your parents:

I "borrowed" a copy of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls from my parents' bookshelf. The white paperback with the pills all over the cover.

Book that changed your life:

Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God was the first book I read that felt literary to me, reading as a teen. It has enormous emotional importance to me, as a book about the South and a book about and centered on women. I've kept my high school copy, and it has decades' worth of scribbles in the margins at this point.

Favorite line from a book:

It's not the most lyrical or profound line Nabokov's ever written, but this one from Pnin never fails to make me feel happy: "You know I do not understand what is advertisement and what is not advertisement." I just hear poor Timofey Pnin's voice so clearly: sulky, desperate, but totally right. It always makes me laugh. And then Joan goes on to explain every picture in this magazine to him. And then Pnin very grumpily argues with her. I am laughing now thinking about it.

Five books you'll never part with:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: Merricat Blackwood is my most-beloved character ever.

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: A gorgeous book that completely transformed what is possible in an entire genre. I read it annually.

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis: Reading this one in public (when that was possible) is so fun. More than once, I have been approached by polite, bookish strangers at coffeeshops, and one time in an airport terminal, who tell me this is their favorite book. Loving Charles Portis is like being in the best secret club. If you move to a new place and want to make some friends, take this one to the park.

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal: The sensation of reading this feels like being spun around a dance floor really fast. Joyful, absurd. Dizzying in the most fun sense. Unlike anything else.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Please forgive me, Dostoyevsky. I find Anna Karenina to be an absolute page-turner. The first time I was reading, I missed my stop on an express subway train when I got to those dots in Part II, when Anna and Vronsky...

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Loser by Thomas Bernhard. I had never read anything remotely similar when I first read this hilarious, monstrous, spiraling tragi-comedy. When I finished, I did the next-closest thing and binged as many of his books as I could.

Your favorite recent read:

The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Borges calls it perfect in the New York Review Books edition's introduction, and who am I to disagree? To describe the plot too much would give it away. Weird and sad and beautiful and perfect.

Book Review

Children's Review: Sisters of the Neversea

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Heartdrum/HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 8-12, 9780062869975, June 1, 2021)

Muscogee Creek author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Ancestor Approved; Hearts Unbroken) reimagines J.M. Barrie's beloved yet problematic children's classic Peter Pan in this wry, immersive fantasy about female friendship, inclusivity and the meaning of family.

Although relatives remember a recent time "when the girls were inseparable and every third word out of their mouths was 'we,' " the friendship between 12-year-old stepsisters Wendy Darling and Lily Roberts has hit turbulence. Their parents are separating for the summer, with Wendy and her father traveling to New York while Lily and the girls' four-year-old brother, Michael, stay in Tulsa, Okla., with their mother. On Wendy's last night in Tulsa, Lily worries divorce means she and Wendy can't stay sisters, and Wendy is frustrated because Lily won't fly to New York with them. The tension keeps the girls from noticing "the tiny, sparkling glow, nearly hidden in the wise old oak tree" or the "crouched, shadowy figure within its branches" until Peter Pan and Belle the Fairy zip through the bedroom window. Practical Lily, who is Muscogee Creek, distrusts Peter immediately, a sentiment reinforced by his talk of "Injuns." However, his magic beguiles fanciful, white Wendy, and she accepts when he invites her and Michael to Neverland. However, the island is not exactly the Merfolk-inhabited wonderland Peter promised. Instead, it is a dystopia where Peter has destroyed the environment by hunting species to extinction and stolen children are forced to live as his companions. Guided by Peter's newly emancipated shadow, Lily sets out to rescue her siblings and stumbles upon the island's other child inhabitants: a group of tribally affiliated kids Peter kidnapped to use as scapegoats and unwilling battle foes. While Lily looks for a way to rescue all of Peter's victims, Wendy's time runs short. Her 13th birthday approaches and growing up is a betrayal Peter Pan refuses to forgive.

Smith restores Pan to his original depiction as a vain, capricious bully capable of both charming and terrorizing others, but she treats him with some compassion as well. Her adept use of a charming, third-person omniscient voice similar to Barrie's style lightens this ambitious excavation of Peter Pan's racist leanings. Wendy and Lily are flawed yet eminently competent heroines, and their empathy provides an excellent foil for Peter's narrow-minded worldview. Socially conscious readers may most appreciate Smith's supportive portrayal of blended families and Native youth, but any reader looking for a brilliant, suspenseful fantasy adventure should also find Sisters of the Neversea thrilling and tremendously fun. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth experience manager, Dayton Metro Library

Shelf Talker In this incisive, thrilling modern version of Peter Pan, two stepsisters, one Muscogee Creek and the other white, discover Neverland is not as advertised.

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