Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 21, 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


Adanne Opens in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Darlene Okpo

Former English teacher Darlene Okpo has opened Adanne, a  bookstore celebrating African-American culture, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Vogue reported.

The store debuted in early May at 53 Bridge Street, Suite 105, in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. Named for Okpo's mother, Adanne sells fiction and nonfiction for children, teens and adults, along with a selection of nonbook products including apothecary items, tote bags, t-shirts and accessories.

"As I was creating the aesthetic for the store, my friends and family would visit and we would always end up talking about our current issues," Okpo told Vogue. "We talk about education, real estate, financial literacy and many other topics. The books I chose for the store inspired these conversations."

Okpo's event plans include frequent workshops focused on social change. Adanne will host its first on June 5, and the subject will be educational issues that have arisen since the start of the pandemic. Okpo, who has been an educator since 2009, explained: "I feel that the government didn't do a great job in terms of taking care of our students. Now it's time to bring that to the forefront."

Discussing her motivation for opening a bookstore of her own, Okpo recalled that during her time as a teacher she would often hear from students that they did not relate to the stories and characters in their assigned reading. Okpo added: "Everybody is a reader, you just have to find the right book that speaks to your soul."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Rohi's Readery Debuts in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Rohi's Readery, "a unique space for inclusive, diverse stories," has opened in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.'s Rosemary Square, WLRN reported. Pranati "Pranoo" Kumar, an education consultant and the bookshop's founder, described Rohi's Readery as a " 'social-justice driven bookstore' committed to teach critical literacy about social issues within historically marginalized communities."

She added that the bookstore aims to expose the public to stories too often ignored in various educational spaces--untold stories by "the Black and Brown community, the LGBTQIA community, immigrants such as myself.... Those of us who grew up in an education system that was not historically created for us. And finding ways in which we can make sure that we are righting the wrongs of the past of our educational experiences.”

Kumar was an early childhood educator in Harlem, N.Y., and previously served as a "founding instructional leader" and coach at Impact Public Schools in Seattle, WLRN noted. She lives in West Palm Beach now, and has since worked with local nonprofits Path to College and Inner City Innovators. 

Her children's bookstore, "tucked on the corner of Rosemary Avenue and Hibiscus Street, will feature educational programming, a future campus resource hub, and story time read aloud or what she calls 'revolutionary story time.' " WLRN wrote.

On the bookstore's website, Kumar observes: "Rohi is my baby girl. We named her after my annama (grandmother in Hindi), who was a lover and a steadfast advocate for children in India, mentee to Freedom Fighter Sarojini Naidu, and ultimate protector of her family. 

" 'Rohi's Corner' has so much meaning for me. It's the place where we read every day. It's the spot where she has stared at covers of books that represent inclusivity and diversity. It's the place I never had in my own school growing up. This is where I realized I wanted Rohi's corner to be bigger. My hope is that, through the inspiration Rohi's corner has given me, we create a space where ALL children and families feel like they belong."

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

Ownership Change for Highland Books in Brevard, N.C.

Leslie Logemann and her husband, Mark Connelley, are the new owners of Highland Books in Brevard, N.C., taking the reins from Amanda and Chris Mosser, who have run the shop since 2015. Logemann and Connelley are the fourth owners of the bookshop, which opened in 1976.

"Books have always been a part of my life and they have often been the place where I've found joy and solace," Logemann told the Transylvania Times. "I've been fortunate to do a lot of different things. I managed a retail business in college. I worked as a graphic designer for advertising agencies and later had a freelance business that focused on advertising and marketing. I managed a fine art gallery. And I have managed, and will continue to be involved in, our local farmers' market. But one constant in my life has been literature. And along with that, the idea of owning a bookstore and the thought of--what if?"

Amanda Mosser said, "We did not want to sell the store, and it was not in the plan, but after the past year of health issues we had to make a difficult decision. We were thrilled to hear from Leslie, who is a longtime regular customer and who we know has a deep love of books and our community. We were so honored to purchase the store, and we couldn't imagine passing this legacy on to a better person."

Highland Books moved to its Main Street location in 2019, and the community rallied support during the Covid-19 closures of early 2020, the Times noted.  

"This last year, being able to escape into a good book has, honestly, kept me sane," Logemann said. "And when I heard that Amanda and Chris were selling the bookstore, I contacted them immediately. My husband heard about my plans a few hours later."

Customers will begin seeing Logemann in the bookstore, as she works with Mosser and staff toward a transition of ownership.

She added that the Mossers "have created such an incredible space, and I know they had so many plans for the bookstore's future. I'm honored to take the reins. Of course, I have a lot of ideas for the business, but, mostly, I am looking forward to continuing their good work."

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

B&N Opening New Store in Raleigh, N.C.

Barnes & Noble is opening a new location later this summer in Raleigh, N.C., the Triangle Business Journal reported. The new store will reside in a 10,400-square-foot space in the Village District shopping center that previously housed a Pier 1 Imports.

Lynne Worth of York Properties, the real estate company that manages the shopping center, told the Business Journal that the Village District used to have a bookstore called Village Book and Stationery.

The store is set to open in late summer.

Simon & Schuster Launches Simon Element, Lifestyle & Practical Nonfiction Imprint

Simon & Schuster is launching an imprint, Simon Element, that will focus on books in the lifestyle and practical nonfiction categories. The imprint will be part of the Atria Division and will be led by Richard Rhorer as v-p and publisher.

Simon Element will publish its inaugural list in spring 2022; it  include titles by Dr. Robin Berzin, CEO and founder of Parsley Health; Holly Erickson and Natalie Mortimer, founders of the Modern Proper recipe-based website and social media platform; and Alison Seponara, therapist and creator of the popular @theanxietytherapist Instagram account.

S&S CEO Jonathan Karp commented: "Throughout its nearly century long history, Simon & Schuster has published ground-breaking prescriptive nonfiction that transformed readers lives. Simon Element will build on a tradition that includes classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Joy of Cooking, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I'm eager to see the books that Simon Element will add to this rich and enduring library."

Rhorer joined the company 10 years ago as deputy publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint, where he oversaw the publication of hits in the lifestyle and personal growth categories like Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat, Elements of Style by Erin Gates, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty and Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta.

Other staff members for Simon Element include Doris Cooper, most recently editor-in-chief of Clarkson Potter, who will be v-p, editor-in-chief; Justin Schwartz, v-p and executive editor, who joins the imprint from Simon & Schuster; Leah Miller, executive editor, who joins from Atria; Leah Trouwborst, senior editor, who was most recently at the Portfolio imprint of Penguin Random House; and Veronica Alvarado, associate editor, who was most recently with Tiller Press.

Readerlink Buys Dreamtivity

Readerlink Distribution Services has acquired the assets of Dreamtivity, which publishes coloring and activity books, puzzles, and workbooks for the children's, young adult and adult markets. Dreamtivity will be a separate imprint at Printers Row Publishing Group, ReaderLink's publishing division with headquarters in San Diego, Calif. (Readerlink supplies books to nearly 100,000 retail locations of all kinds.)

Dreamtivity was founded in 2015 by Chad Wiggins and Beth Peters, long-time publishing executives formerly with Dalmatian Press. The company specializes in arts & crafts and coloring & activity products, including several licensed series with Crayola, Disney, Nickelodeon and more. Wiggins and Peters, along with their creative teams, will join Readerlink as part of the acquisition but will remain in Franklin, Tenn.

Wiggins commented: "Knowing that Dreamtivity will be distributed by the best-in-class distributor in the U.S. is very exciting. Having worked with many of the talented publishers on the Printers Row team, Beth and I are confident we will continue to develop and publish innovative craft and activity titles that will delight kids and parents."

Readerlink president and CEO Dennis E. Abboud said, "The addition of the talented team, content and new licenses to our portfolio will allow us to enhance offerings to existing customers and provide the opportunity to expand to new outlets across the country."


Image of the Day: Mayor Lightfoot Visits Chicago's Unabridged Bookstore

To show support for small businesses in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, Mayor Lori Lightfoot stopped by Unabridged Bookstore. Owners Ed Devereaux and Patrick Garnett discussed with the mayor the store's 40-year history serving the local community. Pictured: (l.-r.) Ed Devereux, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Patrick Garnett and Alderman Tom Tunney.

Masking Up 'to Be Mindful of Our Young Readers'

From a letter to customers from Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, New York City: "Being a children's bookstore, we have to be mindful of our young readers who are not able to be vaccinated just yet. To protect them and to make sure they do not feel isolated or singled out as the only ones having to wear masks, we are continuing to require all visitors to the store to be masked. As I'm sure you will all agree, the physical and mental health of our young people has got to be a top priority for all of us."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, authors of Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East (Ten Speed Press, $40, 9780399580925).

TV: Murder, She Baked

Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison "are back with a new Hallmark mystery," Entertainment Tonight reported, adding that the Murder, She Baked stars "are reprising their characters from the popular Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie franchise... but with a slight twist: They'll be kicking off a new mystery!" The upcoming movie, the franchise's sixth, is based on the Hannah Swensen mystery novels by Joanne Fluke.  

Sweeney will again play Hannah Swensen, with Mathison returning as Mike Kingston and Barbara Niven as Hannah's mother, Delores Swensen. Production begins this week in Vancouver on the movie, which will premiere this summer on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Sweeney serves as an executive producer alongside Craig Baumgarten and Lighthouse Pictures. 

"I'm so excited to revisit Hannah Swensen and to again work with Cameron and Barbara on these fun stories that combine romance with intrigue," Sweeney said. "The fans have been so vocal in their love of these characters and it's exciting to be bringing them back to life and to return to Hannah's bakery where it all began."

Books & Authors

Awards: Dublin Literary Winner, Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Shortlist

Valeria Luiselli won the €100,000 (about $120,525) Dublin Literary Award for her novel Lost Children Archive. Sponsored by Dublin City Council, the prize is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality, provided the book has been published in English or English translation. Books are nominated by libraries in major cities throughout the world.

The Guardian noted that earlier this year, Biblioteca Vila De Gràcia in Barcelona submitted a nomination for its favorite book of the year, Lost Children Archive. Luiselli said: "It's a beautiful, relatively small library in Barcelona who nominated me. I'm going to kiss its rocks one day, because I probably won't be able to kiss its librarians because of Covid."


The shortlist has been released for the £10,000 (about $13,890) Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, "celebrating the books which both honor the traditions of adventure and do something new." A winner will be named September 8 at an online ceremony. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah 
City of Vengeance by D.V. Bishop 
Otto Eckhart's Ordeal by Niall Edworthy 
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce 
Total Blackout by Alex Shaw 
Rogue by James Swallow 

Reading with... Polly Samson

photo: Harry Borden

Polly Samson is a writer of fiction and a lyricist. Her words have appeared on four number-one albums, including Pink Floyd's The Division Bell and David Gilmour's On an Island. She has also worked as a journalist and in publishing, including two years as a columnist for the Sunday Times. Samson was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. Her first novel, Out of the Picture, was shortlisted for the Author's Club Award, and many of her stories, including those from her first collection, Lying in Bed, have been read on Radio 4. A second collection of short stories, Perfect Lives, was a Book at Bedtime. Her 2015 novel, The Kindness, was named a Book of the Year by both the Times and the Observer. Her third novel, A Theater for Dreamers (Algonquin, May 11, 2021), follows a proto-commune of poets, painters and musicians on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960.

On your nightstand now:

Currently there's a typescript of Stephanie Gangli's second novel, Carry the Dog, which Algonquin has sent, and I am enjoying so much. There's also a dog-eared old favourite, Three Summers, a classic novel written in 1946 by the Greek writer Margarita Liberaki. I am writing an introduction to a new edition and it is such a pleasure to be transported to the Greek countryside. By complete coincidence, one of the times that I was on Hydra researching my novel A Theatre Dreamers, I stayed in what had been Liberaki's house on the island.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree is the first book that I can remember reading with my mother, and it's a book that has been loved just as much by each of my children. My first memory of devouring pages completely alone is reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Little House in the Big Woods. My grandmother sent it to me--it is the first in the series--and asked for a written review before she sent the next one. It was a brilliant scheme that continued beyond the last of the series and on throughout my childhood.

Your top five authors:

It's impossible to pick five so this will have to be the five from the top of my head at this particular moment: Margaret Atwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Martin Amis, Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Taylor.

Book you've faked reading:

All instruction manuals. My eyes just slide from the page but I'm afraid I do pretend to have read them on the occasions that I want my husband to work out what has gone wrong with something.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Sigrid Nunez's The Friend. I have given this to so many people. Reading it is like having a really stimulating and enjoyable conversation.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. I also collect every edition I can find of Jean Paul Sartre's Intimacy for the covers alone. It's fascinating to see how they have changed over the decades.

Book that changed your life:

In a completely literal sense Charmian Clift's Peel Me a Lotus. It is her memoir of life on the Greek Island of Hydra in the '50s, and I came across it on my first visit to the island in 2014. Reading it was like falling in love.

Favorite line from a book:

I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. (W.B. Yeats, Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven).

Five books you'll never part with:

Top of the pile are books by my mother and my son that are signed to me: Charlie Gilmour's Featherhood and Esther Cheo Ying's Black Country to Red China. Then there's a first edition of Peel Me a Lotus by Charmian Clift, Rose Tremain's The Road Home (a masterclass in characterization which I re-read each time I'm about to embark on something of my own) and finally a signed copy of Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines.

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

Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. Rachel is one of the most ambiguous characters in fiction and I still remember the moment I identified a vital clue to her goodness buried in the plot. Daphne du Maurier, like every dog-lover I know, believed her terriers to be expert judges of character. On my first reading of the novel, I noticed that Ambrose's dog is always happy when cousin Rachel enters a room. It was such a happy revelation.

What you read when you're writing:

I start each writing day by reading poetry. It's such a good way to warm up. The poets I read change with each book. In the case of my linked story collection, Perfect Lives (which is set in a seaside town), I always began with Pablo Neruda's sea poems. My last novel, The Kindness, has a narrator who is a Milton scholar, so I read Paradise Lost and when it came to A Theater for Dreamers, I had Leonard Cohen as a character and his poetry and lyrics set me up beautifully.

Book Review

Review: Home Stretch

Home Stretch by Graham Norton (HarperVia, $26.99 hardcover, 320p., 9780063112094, June 22, 2021)

Home Stretch by Graham Norton (Holding; A Keeper) wends its way from small town to big city, from Ireland to England and the U.S., and back again, tracking family and community. This aching saga begins in 1987, in a small village in Cork, when six young people are in a car wreck on the way home from the beach. Three are killed, one lies comatose and two walk away unscathed--physically, at least. But their lives, and those of everyone in the village of Mullinmore, are changed forever.

The novel follows these characters over the ensuing decades, most centrally Connor Hayes, the social outcast who was inexplicably driving the car when it overturned, and his younger sister, Ellen. Turned out of town by shame, blame and guilt after the tragedy, Connor lives and works in Liverpool, London and New York City, wrestling with his past and self-loathing. "The task of untangling the mess of secrets that he had created seemed so impossible." Ellen stays in Mullinmore. A chance encounter in a Manhattan gay bar will eventually reconnect Connor to his distant past and see the next generation get another shot at correcting certain mistakes.

Norton rotates the novel's point of view so that readers see the impact of the car wreck from many angles. The Hayes family suffers Connor's survival alongside the grief of the families of the dead, two of whom were on the eve of their wedding. But it is that tangled mess of secrets that will most haunt these characters, and readers, as Norton doles them out teasingly into the final pages.

Home Stretch is by turns charming and harrowing as it accesses some of humanity's darkest moments and impulses, as well as some of the best. That expert balance of comfort and pain is perhaps the most memorable feature of a novel with complex plotting, twists and turns and characters who do not fit easily into likable and unlikable categories. This is a story of the many kinds of love and betrayal that can hold and haunt people, of filial and community ties and the meaning of home. "This is what homecoming meant. Arriving in a place to discover you're fluent in a language you'd forgotten you ever knew." Home Stretch is a riveting narrative, a character study, a love letter to a place and a culture, and a moving coming-of-age story. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This novel of strong bonds, secrets and small-town Irish life is both sweet and horrifying, and completely absorbing.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Considering Margins Of/For Error

Canadians had more free time in 2020, according to a survey of leisure time and reading habits released this week by BookNet Canada. As might be expected during a year when so many people were forced to stay home for extended periods, there was a 10% increase among those who said they had more than enough leisure time from 2019 to 2020. 

Unfortunately, time spent reading didn't quite measure up, staying relatively flat. While 53% of Canadians read a book at least on a weekly basis, book and magazine reading did not have any significant increase compared to 2019, the survey noted. 

I was not shocked by that statistic, nor by the finding that the activity showing the greatest change from 2019 to 2020 was video gaming--an 8% increase in Canadians who played weekly and 9% increase in those who played daily. 

Earlier in the year, Nielsen company SuperData's 2020 year in review had found that 55% of Americans "picked up video games--out of boredom, to escape the real world, to socialize--during the first phase of lockdowns.... As physical spaces disappeared, video games became one of the few places for people to spend time together." And this guy even created souvenir postcards of his video game travels

The BookNet Canada survey asked 1,253 Canadians if they had read or listened to a book at least a few times during the past year and 80% said they had, with 13% more respondents reading nonfiction in 2020 compared to 2019. The percentage of readers who had read children’s and YA books almost doubled across formats, despite few changes to the number of respondents who were living with young children between 2019 and 2020.

I love book stats, but I also found myself thinking about words. Specifically, I couldn't get the term margin of error out of my head. "There is a margin of error of +/-3%," pollsters will say when releasing otherwise declarative statistical breakdowns. I guess it sounds more data-driven than words like about or approximately or ballpark number. 

On the other hand, Fast Company reported this week that the "vast majority of studies on media use depend on participants’ self-reporting their screen time. The intentions here are good: Researchers want to study people’s normal day-to-day screen habits, rather than carefully dolled-out screen minutes in a lab. Efforts to log usage are complicated by the fact that just because a screen is on does not mean someone is using it.

"Now researchers on three continents collaborated for a new meta-analysis in Nature Human Behaviour, revisiting 12,000 studies. They found 47 studies in which 50,000 people had their screen time logged or tracked in addition to self-reporting it. The results: Just 5% of the self reports were accurate."

So, what is a margin of error? English majors worldwide want to know, though I hesitate to even go there in these times of medieval-like superstition regarding facts. But all the numbers I was digesting yesterday led me to think about margins for error, a different concept that covers the range of uncertainty or options available in planning a future action. 

Specifically, I thought about how indie booksellers, in the wake of the CDC's surprise face mask guidelines update last Thursday, were forced to instantly recalculate their margin for error and address the issue as the weekend loomed. We've been sharing some of the empathetic, creative and frank messaging booksellers used to communicate their policies and concerns with customers. Such adjustments on the fly had to take into account not only patrons' reactions to any changes to in-store face mask rules, but the literally death-defying margin for error reflected in those changes. 

The CDC's statement came as "a complete shock" to Jason Hafer, owner of Reads & Company in Phoenixville, Pa. He told Forbes magazine there had been "a lot of confusion" regarding differing CDC, state and local rules, "with zero time to come up with a true plan." Noting that his unvaccinated seven-year-old daughter has congenital heart disease, he said, "Being the parent of a medically fragile child has been very difficult through all of this, and I feel like we have created a safe environment at the bookshop but need to stick with that not only for my daughter but for our customers and our community."

Reads & Company is currently asking customers and staff to wear face masks and practice social distancing. "The biggest thing we have seen is people assuming they wouldn't need a mask, but then either asking or seeing the sign by the doorway and masking up with no real issue," Hafer added. "There have been a handful of times where people have been resistant, but we feel really fortunate that the vast majority have been on board with us.... It isn't fair or right for our booksellers to be forced to be mask police or vaccine bouncers."

As the Book Lady Bookstore, Savannah, Ga., so eloquently summed up the ongoing Covid-19 margin for error numbers game: "Because CDC guidelines & Chatham County/GA covid & vaccination rates are evolving, so are our restrictions. But it's not a free-for-all, folks."

--Robert Gray, editor

Powered by: Xtenit