Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Atheneum Books: Bulldozer's Christmas Dig by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster

Other Press: Lemon by Yeo-Sun Kwon, translated by Janet Hong

Ballantine Books: The Maid by Nita Prose

News

Blacksburg Books Arriving in Va. Later This Month

Laurie Kelly and Ellen Woodall are bringing a new and used independent bookstore called Blacksburg Books to Blacksburg, Va., later this month. The roughly 1,200-square-foot store will sell books for all ages, along with coffee, snacks and a variety of gift items.

Woodall, who will run the store, explained that while neither she nor Kelly have prior experience in bookselling, both are avid readers, and Kelly has dreamed of opening a store for years. After a neighbor of hers died, Kelly came into a "large number of books," which she took "as a sign" that it was time to "do the dream." Woodall described herself as an "aging punk rocker" who has "settled into gardening, reading and cooking," and she was teaching cooking classes at a kitchen store when she and Kelly met. From the start it "seemed like a great match."

At that point, Woodall continued, Kelly had already found a space and was looking for someone to run the store. The original plan was to start out with all used books, but so many people in the Blacksburg community wanted new titles that Woodall and Kelly started ordering them right away. The overall inventory split will probably be about 50% used and 50% new, and while the store will be general interest, there will be a large children's area and a strong literary fiction section. Woodall noted: "I go hard on literary fiction."

They've also sourced merchandise and food items from a variety of local businesses, many of which do not have permanent storefronts. Blacksburg Books' coffee will come from a local coffee maker, its baked goods from a local bakery, and jewelry and candles from local artisans. Woodall added that she was very excited about selling some "fantastic locally made chocolates."

Blacksburg Books in progress

Blacksburg Books resides in a space that previously housed a clothing store. The dividers between what were once dressing rooms have been removed to create the children's section. The store's shelves have all been assembled by Kelly, Woodall and their husbands, and feature rollers on the bottom. She remarked that they were "particularly proud" of the shelves.

Woodall said the store does not have a kitchen, but there will be seating for customers who want to grab a drink or snack and sit down with a book. All food items will be prepackaged, and they've committed to not having any single-use plastic in the store. Woodall added that if they expand someday, alcoholic beverages might be a possibility.

Woodall said their first event will be the store's grand opening later this month. They'll take that opportunity to start a community poetry project in which they choose a topic every week and invite customers to write a few lines of poetry about that subject in an open notebook at the store. Then they'll "consolidate" those lines of poetry into a single poem that will appear in the next store newsletter. Beyond the grand opening, Woodall and Kelly already have some local authors lined up for author nights and they'd love to host book clubs, holiday parties and children's storytimes.

So far Kelly and Woodall have received "nothing but positive feedback," and community members have been "so supportive and excited." --Alex Mutter


House of Anansi Press: Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling by Esi Edugyan


Deadtime Stories in Lansing, Mich., Expands with the Screamatorium

Deadtime Stories, Lansing, Mich., which opened a bookshop last fall dedicated to true crime, paranormal and horror titles, has expanded into the space next door, City Pulse reported. The Screamatorium, a gift shop offering "oddball treats and treasures, from true crime-themed merch and ghost hunting kits to frozen treats and throwback candy," held its grand opening celebration last Saturday. 

Owner Jenn Carpenter, author of the Haunted Michigan books series and founder of the Festival of Oddities, said she always wanted to open an additional shop should the opportunity ever present itself. "Next door to me was a salon," she explained. "I thought if she ever left, it would be cool to expand into that spot. The day after I had that thought, my landlord called and said, 'The salon is moving out, do you want her space?' I had to take it while it was available.”

The Screamatorium, which is attached to the Deadtime Stories building on Washington Avenue, is "a spooky little general store with a whole bunch of nostalgic stuff based on true crime and horror," Carpenter noted. "By next summer, we hope to have a full-service ice cream counter. There's so much fun stuff you can do with ice cream."

After the grand opening, the Screamatorium shared pics on Facebook: "WOW. You all sure know how to make a spooky little shop feel welcome! Today was incredible, and we can't thank you all enough for the tremendous support.... Here are some photos of the calm before the storm, and a few of the storm itself."

And the bookshop noted: "While the Screamatorium was the star of the show this past weekend, Deadtime Stories is lookin' pretty magical these days as well. Moving the bulk of our gift items over to the new side means MORE ROOM FOR BOOKS at Deadtime Stories!"


GLOW: Clarion Books: The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman


International Update: Italian Book Sales Up, 'Perfect Storm' Hits U.K. Book Shipping 

Sales in the Italian book market were up 44% for the first half of 2021, based on numbers released by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), which noted that 15 million more copies of printed books sold through trade channels over the period compared to 2020, the Bookseller reported. According to figures based on NielsenIQ data, these sales generated €207 million (about $246 million) more for the industry compared to 2020, an increase of 42%, and €156m more compared to 2019, up 28%, bringing the total value of the book industry in the first six months of the year to €698 million (about $829 million).

"The book market is currently like a tide that, as it rises, lifts all the boats with it," said AIE president Ricardo Franco Levi. "But the results that we are seeing are not at all random. That is from the hard work of publishers and all other players in the book industry who have continued to invest and innovate even throughout the most difficult months of the pandemic, and that is thanks to the government and parliament who safeguarded the sector, primarily by allowing bookstores to reopen during the lockdowns and therefore launching important measures in support of demand, the effects of which are now evident."

AIE noted that in terms of sales channels, bookstores (both independent and chains) "are growing, reaching a quota of €332.9 million [about $395.5], thus overcoming the difficulties of 2020 and doing better even as compared to 2019 [€313.6 million]."

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Covid-19, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage will cause a five-year 'perfect storm' in shipping for the U.K., Charles Hogg, commercial director at the global freight and supply chain management company Unsworth, told the Bookseller. "We're now living in this new world where there's a lot of unpredictability.... Even if the cost to print is slightly higher, the reliability of coming out of a European country is suddenly a viable option. My biggest message to people is to look at your supply chain and actually consider using this as an opportunity to change how you're doing things."

Dave Thompson, group sales and development director at Publiship, which provides services to more than 200 publishers, said the shipping situation "is a whole lot worse now" and he fears that "at some point, all of this must filter through to the market in terms of fewer products and higher prices."

Lisa Finch, international sales director at Profile Books, cautioned that with so much uncertainty, flexibility is key: "Unsurprisingly, delivery delays and added import costs from freight forwarders mean that customers in Europe are adjusting their ordering patterns and this is having a negative impact on their own customer service levels. Indies are turning to wholesalers, instead of direct supply to try to limit their own exposure to rising shipping and import costs, so there is a hit to our margins and market visibility. It's a vicious circle and I think it will be difficult to know what the long-term impact of the additional importing costs will be on our business until we are out the other side of Covid."

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In her new weekly column for the Daily Star, Elita Karim wrote that she makes it a point "to visit as many bookstores as possible when visiting new places, and some of the experiences to be had there actually define the culture and the people who live there." 

This week, Karim recalled several of her favorite bookseller destinations, including Thailand ("bookstores with a structured system, both offline and online, are preferred by the authorities and customers... maybe to prioritize security amongst tourists"); Jarir Bookstore in the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia ("because it is not just a bookstore.... In a country with strict rules regarding public appearances, attires, and so much more, the world inside Jarir would astonishingly change"); Words n Pages in Bangladesh during the early 2000s ("a beautiful, two-story bookstore situated in the heart of Gulshan 2"); and Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata, India ("which is still a quaint little shop"). 

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"We love this initiative from HarperCollins Canada! They are spotlighting Canadian independent bookstores for the month of July AND running a contest for readers!" the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association noted on Facebook. Among the bookshops highlighted thus far have been Café Books, Canmore, Alb.; Librairie Clio, Pointe Claire, Que.; and Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge, Ont. --Robert Gray


Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!


Binc Awards Eight Higher Education Scholarships

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has awarded a total of $29,500 across eight scholarships as part of its 2021 Higher Education Scholarship Program. Seven $3,500 scholarships went to dependents of booksellers and the Karl Pohrt Memorial Scholarship of $5,000 was granted to a current independent bookstore employee who has overcome learning adversity or is a non-traditional student.

The winners of the $3,500 scholarships are Niamh Doherty, Calvin Finley, Henry Fleishmann, Rebecca Keith, Anna Leedy, Alise Scheller and Nathan Zawicki; Maria Grant of Peregrine Book Company in Prescott, Ariz., received the Karl Pohrt Tribute Scholarship. 

They are attending colleges and universities in New York, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Delaware, Wisconsin and Michigan and are studying a range of subjects including music, nursing, psychology, computer science, mathematics, library science, visual arts and bioengineering. (More information about the winners can be found here).

The Higher Education scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and room and board. Since 2001, Binc has granted more than $2 million to help support the educational endeavers of 700-plus booksellers.

Scholarship America (Scholarship Management Services) selected the winners from a pool of 34 applicants. Criteria included financial need, prior academic achievement, leadership capabilities, work experience, a statement of career and educational goals and unusual family or personal circumstances. 

Pam French, Binc's executive director, said: "For nineteen years Binc has helped ease the cost of a college education for booksellers’ and comic shop employees’ families. Reading about the scholarship winners and their educational goals is inspiring. A big congratulations to all of the students!"


Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani


Obituary Note: Victoria Craven

Victoria Craven

Victoria Craven, associate publisher of Monacelli Press (a division of Phaidon) and the founder of the Monacelli Studio imprint, died May 25. She was 62. After graduating from Fordham University in 1980, Craven worked as a publishing industry freelancer and then held a series of positions at publishing houses including Plenum Press, McGraw-Hill, Random House and Watson-Guptill, where she rose to editorial director. 

In 2014, she joined Monacelli Press to found Monacelli Studio, an imprint specializing in art-instruction books. A quilter in her youth, Craven combined an artisan's eye with editorial savvy when acquiring and developing books. Among the titles she shepherded into print were The Figurative Artist's Handbook by Robert Zeller, Basic Human Anatomy by Roberto Osti, Beginning Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides, Understanding Caricature by Greg Houston, and The Art of Still Life by Todd M. Casey. 

Book publishing was just one pole of Victoria's life; the other was family--her "two hobbies," according to her daughter Elizabeth Craven Cohn, one of her three children. Craven and her husband, Thomas George Cohn, celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary just days before her death. 

Monacelli Press noted that "family, friends, colleagues and the artist-authors whose books she nurtured will remember her intelligence, patience, generosity, and the fierce courage and determination she embodied throughout her life, especially in the face of devastating illness."


Artemesia Publishing, LLC: The Last Professional by Ed Davis, illustrated by Colin Elgie


Notes

Happy 15th Birthday, Beaverdale Books!

Congratulations to Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, Iowa, which celebrated its 15th anniversary July 10 "as staff welcomed customers new and old and children flipped through pages of colorful cartoons. The store offered daylong perks of free beverages and cookies; exclusive offers like free advance reader copies and discounted books; and opportunities to interact with local authors," the Register reported.

Founder and owner Alice Meyer opened the store in 2006 at 2629 Beaver Ave. This past year "was unique in its history, however, as the store had to close its doors to in-store business for 13 months," the Register noted.

"But, people were still buying books. I think I expected it to be a lot worse than it was. It was kind of surprising," said Meyer. "It was pretty crazy, especially during the holidays, but people were very supportive. I think at the time, big, online folks did not make books a priority. They were busy selling other stuff like hand sanitizers. And I think people realized that they needed to support their local businesses."


Sterling: Dracula: Deluxe Edition by Bram Stoker, illustrated by Edward Gorey


Bookshop Dog: Harvard Book Store

This one's a customer. Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., posted: "I'm afraid I don't remember the title but it was a very well-regarded author with a new book of American history written up in the New York Times Book Review three weeks ago and I have the author's first book on my shelf and it's blue and also I'm a dog, and I would very much like a treat please. Can you help me?" 


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular June Books

The two most popular books in June at Reading Group Choices were The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore (Sourcebooks) and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books).


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray on Good Morning America

Today:
Good Morning AmericaMarie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, authors of The Personal Librarian (Berkley, $27, 9780593101537).

Fresh Air: C.C. Sabathia, co-author of Till the End (Roc Lit 101, $28, 9780593133750).

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Cecily Strong, author of This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir (‎Simon & Schuster, $28, ‎9781982168315).

Watch What Happens Live: Patti LaBelle, author of LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About (Gallery/13A, $30, 9781982179083).


Movies: Age of Legends

Radar Pictures has picked screenwriter Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class) to write the script for Age of Legends, the first of three planned movies based on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time book series.

"I've been a fan of Robert Jordan's work for many years, and it is especially his allusions to the origins and backstory of the Wheel of Time that I have always found most intriguing," said Stentz. "I'm excited to be bringing this era Robert Jordan conceptualized to life. A fusion of the fantasy and science-fiction genres, the Age of Legends is a tale of paradise lost, as a futuristic Garden of Eden devolves into a dangerous and broken world."

"We are fortunate to have an accomplished storyteller like Zack Stentz," said Rick Selvage, president of iwot productions. "His ability to portray unforgettable characters who command great powers while being prone to everyday human imperfections make him the ideal writer to bring this monumental story to an international audience."

Deadline noted that the first movie "will be set several millennia before the time of the books, in a period known as the 'Age of Legends,' and will complement the storylines soon to be featured in the TV series from Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios. No studio partner or distributor for the Age of Legends picture has been named at this time." The project will be produced by Selvage and Larry Mondragon of iwot productions, and Ted Field and Justin Smith of Radar Pictures.



Books & Authors

Awards: Crook's Corner Longlist

The Crook's Corner Book Prize Foundation has announced the longlist for the $5,000 Crook's Corner Book Prize, honoring the best debut novels set in the American South. The winner will be announced in January 2022. The longlist is:

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora (Random House)
Lifelike Creatures by Rebecca Baum (Regal House)
Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia (Flatiron Books)
F*Ckface: And Other Stories by Leah Hampton (Holt)
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. (Putnam)
The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen (Knopf)
Lord the One You Love Is Sick by Kasey Thornton (IG Publishing)


Reading with... Rajani LaRocca

photo: Carter Hasegawa

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes books for young readers. Much Ado About Baseball (Little Bee Books, June 15, 2021) is a middle-grade take on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, featuring two 12-year-old math competition rivals who find themselves on the same summer baseball team and must contend with brutish opponents, challenging math puzzles, mysterious salty snacks and sneaky magic.

On your nightstand now:

I'm almost done with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, and I'm scared to finish because I already know how things turn out in the future for Coriolanus Snow.

I just started Flamer by Mike Curato, and it's heartbreaking and beautiful.

Next, I'll dig into While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams. Sometimes I have to take a break from reading middle-grade and YA, and this legal thriller came highly recommended by my local bookseller at the Silver Unicorn Bookstore in Acton, Mass.!

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I read this Newbery Medal winner over and over as a kid. I shared it with my own children when they were old enough, and they loved it, too. This book is part mystery and part family story, and I was fascinated by the large cast of characters, how they are all tied to millionaire Sam Westing and how they're brought together in a competition to inherit Westing's millions. The young protagonist, Turtle Wexler, was spunky and outspoken in a way I wished I could be when I was a kid.

Your top five authors:

Jhumpa Lahiri, Kate Atkinson, Anthony Horowitz, William Shakespeare, Sharon Kay Penman.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. There is just too much knot-tying for me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. This murder mystery within a murder mystery grabbed me from the first page and had me screaming at the book when I thought the answer might not be revealed!

Book you've bought for the cover:

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. And it was worth it! It's a twisty story with clever capers and unexpected betrayals in a darkly fascinating Victorian setting.

Book you hid from your parents:

Forever by Judy Blume. This was the book that was passed among our middle-school crew. My parents let me read whatever I wanted, so I didn't really need to hide it from them, but I would have been mortified if they knew what I was reading about!

Book that changed your life:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I had never seen my own experience as an Indian immigrant reflected in books in the U.S. or in India until I read this book as an adult. This novel made me realize what I'd been missing, and made me believe that people might want to read my stories, too.

Favorite line from a book:

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends." --Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Living in a world where people are so ready to make snap decisions about others, I love this quote about not rushing to condemn.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I'd love to read this gripping, iterative story again without knowing how it ends.

Character I've learned from:

Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. She's been spurned and hurt, but she keeps her wit and sense of humor, and underneath her cynical exterior, she remains hopeful. I aspire to come up with rejoinders as brilliant as those that Beatrice rattles off in iambic pentameter.


Book Review

Children's Review: Bright Star

Bright Star by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780823443284, September 7, 2021)

Bright Star, a powerful, radiant picture book by Pura Belpré Award winner and Caldecott honoree Yuyi Morales (Dreamers), begins with an eager observation: "Child, you are awake!"

A doe sees that her fawn, curled up on the soft desert ground and surrounded by plants, has opened her eyes. After allowing the fawn to wake gently--"Breathe in, then breathe out, hermosa creatura"--the mother coaxes her babe into getting ready for the day as if it's a celebration: "You are ALIVE! You are a bright star inside our hearts." Then, with a cry of "Vámonos!" they are ready to go. The pair walk through the desert and on every page, new animals join them--quails, insects, rabbits, reptiles, even hogs. The passage turns dangerous as they reach a cement wall topped with barbed wire--a wall that impedes the migration patterns of many animals. The soft earth tones and golds of the day are traded for marbled grays with cool splashes of a starry sky. Despite this impasse, there is a reminder that "You are not alone. Listen...." And though the predatory animals (a jaguar, a snake) have come out, they are there to protect the animals who can't protect themselves. Flowers, bats, moths, and rain fill the page in a nighttime reverie that contrasts with the jagged sight of the barrier wall looming in the distance.

Morales pairs sparse but evocative language with dream-like illustrations made with acrylic paint on paper, photographed textures, digital painting, weaving and embroidery. Every sentence is an encouraging caress and reminder to children that "we"--loved ones, caretakers, allies--"are here to protect you." The final double-page spread featuring the fawn shows her wide, innocent brown eyes; this is mirrored by the eyes of a child on the page turn. Morales states in an author's note to readers that she "made this book knowing that children everywhere, but especially migrant children at the borderlands, have experienced things that they should never have to endure."

Every page is filled with magnificent creatures, and Morales's use of light ignites the images with the warmth of the sun or the gentle glow of the moon. Despite the grueling metaphor of desert migration, and an allegory for human immigration, Morales's words have a susurrating effect that lets readers know there is a new day ahead. Bright Star is a marvel and a masterpiece, both a lullaby and a cry for survival. In her author's note, Morales details the many reasons why she was compelled to write this book (introducing readers to the Sonoran Desert, highlighting the damage done by the border wall), and she poses this question: "How do we care for one another when we are apart?" --Zoraida Córdova, author and freelance book reviewer

Shelf Talker: The migration pattern of desert animals is disrupted by a border wall in this beautifully illustrated, graceful allegory for immigration.


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