Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 30, 2021

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Kindred Creatives Art and Literary Press Opens in Lewisville, Tex.

Kindred Creatives Art and Literary Press, a Black-owned bookstore focused on sharing the work of BIPOC authors and creatives, has opened in the Music City Mall in Lewisville, Tex., Dallas News reported.

Owner Cicely Carr carries books for all ages by authors from diverse backgrounds. She has a particular focus on books for young readers, YA books, poetry and literary fiction, and her hope is to have about 60% of the inventory made up of books by self-published and independent authors. Her event plans include things like author talks and readings as well as creative workshops and an after school program meant to foster interest in literature.

Prior to opening Kindred Creatives, Carr was a teacher. She'd always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and it was the Covid-19 pandemic that finally spurred her to change careers. She found her space in the Music City Mall in November 2020, and she told Dallas News that she chose that location because of the diverse shopper base and the number of Black-owned businesses in the mall.

"It's nice seeing us support us, you know," Carr said. "We love being here because it's our people in the store shopping. We love to see other Black-owned businesses popping up."

During the lead up to the store's official opening on July 10, Carr held a number of events to introduce her store to the community and drum up interest. Over the holidays she held an event called Lit Christmas, during which she distributed donated books and school supplies to children visiting the store, and in January she hosted an author conversation with eight self-published authors.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Corks, Cooks, & Books Launches in Rock Hill, S.C.

Corks, Cooks, & Books opened recently in the Millwood Shopping Center at 295 Herlong Ave., Rock Hill, S.C. Queen City Nerve reported that "opening a wine bar and bookstore was always a shared dream of friends Mindy Kuhn and Shonali Thomas--they just didn't know it until it came up."

The two met in 2017 when Warren Publishing, Kuhn's company, published Shonal's Kitchen: A Dose of Healthy Indulgence. They became friends and over time discussed possible expansion options for their businesses: Kuhn wanted to add a retail aspect to her publishing company, while Thomas envisioned a wine bar with small bites to expand her catering firm, SplenDishes Kitchen.

Corks, Cooks, & Books combines the passions and professional ventures of the caterer and publisher, combining "casual tapas with a signature wine bar and a bookstore, creating a new hangout that allows patrons a space to grab a drink and settle into a good read," Queen City Nerve noted.

"I wanted to be able to add something extra and different that made us stand out from other independent bookstores in the area, or just kind of gave us something to be able to look different," Kuhn said.

Thomas noted that she had always "wanted to have a little small plate, wine bar-type something where we could just serve charcuterie foods. No restaurant, just like small bites and stuff like that. So, we were talking about how we could put those two things together, and what a great concept that would be."

While Thomas handles the kitchen, Kuhn "has focused on transforming the space to hold books of all genres--romance to mystery to cookbooks to children's books. Kuhn said it's her mission to have something in stock for everyone who comes through the doors," Queen City Nerve wrote, adding that the "staff has pitched in a lot since the shop opened in mid-July, allowing Thomas and Kuhn to run their other businesses."

"Our staff is getting to the point where they can take care of everything," Thomas said. "And that's a big thing. Our staff is amazing." The co-owners are already thinking about where to take Corks, Cooks, & Books next.

Paradis Books & Bread Opens in Miami

Paradis Books & Bread opened this month at 12831 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami, Fla. Describing the venture as "a hybrid bookstore, wine bar with bites, a bottle shop, bakery, and, to boot, a full fledged urban garden," Thrillist reported that the "concept comes from a group of friends--Brian Wright, Audrey Wright, Bianca Sanon, Ben Yen, and Sef Chesson--who share a background working in various New York City restaurants and retailers. But by contrast to many of their previous postings, this new venture will be entirely worker-owned and designed to eschew full-service. And rather than pocketing tips, extra cash will be allocated to giving back to the community in the form of free sanitary products in the bathrooms as well as rideshare money for anyone who doesn't feel safe driving home or for whom the city's limited public transportation isn't accessible."

"It became clear that what we wanted to accomplish for a variety of reasons--financial and otherwise--probably wouldn't be possible in New York," said Sanon, adding that the team knew they wanted to offer something more fluid than the traditional restaurant. 

The bookstore also revolves around a community-first mindset. Thrillist noted that Audrey Wright, who formerly worked at Bluestockings Cooperative in New York City, said there will be a mix of new and used books for sale--"we're pretty critical about the flaws in society and our book options definitely reflect that"--as well as consignment opportunities and a local lending library program. 

"We'll try it out and see how it goes, but we're not going to come after people if the books don't find a way back to us," she added. "Overall, like everything else we're doing, we hope that this will be a space where people will sit back with a glass of wine, flip through a book, and learn something new without the pressure of buying."

Amazon Second Quarter: Sales Rise 27.2%, Profits Up a Third

In the second quarter ended June 30, net sales at Amazon rose 27.2%, to $113.1 billion, and net income rose 50%, to $7.8 billion. The strong sales results were below analysts' expectations, however, and are, the Wall Street Journal wrote, "the first sign that [Amazon's] streak of dominant financial results in the pandemic may be slowing." As a result, in after-market trading Amazon stock fell 4%, to about $3,600 a share.

According to the New York Times, in a conference call, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky indicated that online sales growth had slowed some because more people were shopping more in person and spending time vacationing or socializing. "That's all good," he said, "but that does tend to lead them do other things besides shop."

Amazon said it expects this quarter's net sales to be "between $106 billion and $112 billion, or to grow between 10% and 16% compared with third quarter 2020."

B&N Shutting One Ohio Store, Opening Another

Barnes & Noble is closing one store in suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, and opening another later this year, Cincinnati Business Courier reported.

B&N will close its Waterstone Center store in Deerfield Township, Ohio, on August 22, and open a new location in Deerfield Towne Center in November. The new store will have a Barnes & Noble Cafe with Starbucks coffee and pastries. The company has "two other Greater Cincinnati stores in West Chester Township and Florence as well as two in the Dayton area."

Obituary Note: Mo Hayder 

Mo Hayder

British crime novelist Mo Hayder, "whose dark, shocking thrillers won her the title of 'queen of fear,' " died July 27, the Guardian reported. She was 59. Hayder was the pen name for Clare Dunkel, who burst "on to the literary scene in 1999 with her debut novel, Birdman. Shockingly graphic, it followed DI Jack Caffery's investigation into the horrific ritual murder of five young women in London; the Guardian hailed her as 'a young writer in touch with her dark side and a major new talent.' "

She followed her debut with The Treatment, and went on to publish 10 novels as Mo Hayder--her seventh, Gone, won the Edgar award and her tenth, Wolf, is being adapted by the BBC. She won the Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library award for an outstanding body of work in 2011.

"Mo was a ferociously inventive writer who saw the conventions of the genre as a challenge rather than a constraint," said author Val McDermid. “I remember reading Birdman with a real sense of excitement, that this was a fresh and distinctive voice which also promised so much more to come. She continued to surprise me with her work. I'm so sad we've lost not only a fascinating presence but also the books she had in her head."

Her agent, Jane Gregory of David Higham Associates, said Dunkel was "a brilliant writer and a wonderful, extraordinary, unique human being.... Her books were astonishing and innovative. Clare was charming, entertaining, caustic and always great company. It was a privilege to work with her and an honor to have become her friend."

Selina Walker, her editor at Century, said Dunkel was "never afraid to push the boundaries of the conventional crime novel.... Her best scenes were always terrifying. She was the bravest writer I knew, but she was also fun and funny, someone you always wanted to spend time with. I am heartbroken that she's been taken from us so soon."

Transworld noted that Dunkel had started writing a new series under the name Theo Sand. The Book of Sand, set in an alternate universe, will be published in early 2022. 

Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld, told the Bookseller: "I have such fond and strong memories of Clare, going back to when we published her first Mo Hayder novel, Birdman, in 1999, and travelling the length and breadth of the U.K. meeting booksellers late into the night at Transworld road-shows. Clare was such a life force, and had an infectious and wicked sense of humor. Meeting her, one would never have guessed that she was the author of such viscerally powerful and dark thrillers."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Twilight in Hazard Author Event in Hazard Bookshop

Author Alan Maimon traveled to the Read Spotted Newt bookstore in Hazard, Ky., to discuss his new book, Twilight in Hazard: An Appalachian Reckoning (Melville House), marking the store's first live event since opening its doors in 2020. Store owner Mandi Sheffel is shown here with Maimon.

Raven Book Store's 'Bookseller Olympics'

Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., suggested several events for the Bookseller Olympics, including:

  • 200 Box Breakdown
  • Book I.D., Obscure Clues
  • Freestyle Handselling
  • Don't Lose the Pen 
  • Book Carrying, Vertical Stack
  • Book Carrying, Horizontal Stack
  • Book Carrying, Horizontal to Vertical Transition
  • Time Trial Assembly of One of These Bad Boys

Bookseller Moment: Commonplace Books 

"If it's been a while since you've been taken by a good read, a leisurely stroll through our bookshop might be just what you need," Commonplace Books, Oklahoma City, Okla., posted on Facebook. "This place has been designed to stir up curiosity, wonder, and joy for reading. These books are meant to be picked up, turned around, and opened up while you browse. Plus, we have a gifted team of book-recommenders to help if you'd like some guidance. 
Everyone deserves to get lost in a book once in a while, so come get lost with us this week!"

Media and Movies

TV: Great Circle

A TV series adaptation of Maggie Shipstead's Booker Prize-longlisted novel Great Circle is being developed by Picturestart, the production company set up by former Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-president Erik Feig. Deadline reported that Feig's company "won the rights to the book in a competitive bidding war." Shipstead will exec produce the project, with Picturestart now looking to find a writer to adapt it as a series.

Movies: Flag Day

A trailer has been released for Flag Day, based on Jenifer Vogel's 2004 memoir Flim-Flam Man: The True Story of My Father's Counterfeit Life, "recounting her fractured relationship with her father, criminal and con-man John Vogel," Variety reported.

Directed by Sean Penn, the movie features Penn and his children, Dylan Frances Penn and Hopper Jack Penn. The cast also includes Katheryn Winnick, Eddie Marsan, Josh Brolin, Norbert Leo Butz, Jayden Rylee, Regina King, Cole Flynn, Beckam Crawford, Bailey Noble, James Juce and Dale Dickey.

Flag Day recently premiered at Cannes, "where it earned a four-minute standing ovation and sparked awards buzz for Dylan Frances Penn," Variety noted. The film opens in limited U.S. theaters on August 20, from United Artists Releasing.

Books & Authors

Awards: Polari Shortlists

Shortlists has been announced for the £2,000 (about $2,750) Polari Prize and the £1,000 (about $1,375) Polari First Book Prize, recognizing works by writers born or based in the U.K. and Ireland that explore the LGBTQ+ experience. Winners will be revealed October 30. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Polari Prize
The Ministry of Guidance and Other Stories by Golnoosh Nour 
Dragman by Steven Appleby
The Air Year by Caroline Bird 
What Girls Do in the Dark by Rosie Garland 
The Intoxicating Mr. Lavelle by Neil Blackmore
No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami

Polari First Book Prize
Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez
Forced Out by Kevin Maxwell 
A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jędrowski
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Charred by Andreena Leeanne

Reading with... Pedro Mairal

photo: Tili Hunt

Pedro Mairal is a professor of English literature in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has published four novels, two collections of stories, three collections of essays and six books of poetry. He has written for print and online magazines in the field of literature and culture. He won the Clarín newspaper award in 1998 for his first novel, One Night with Sabrina Love, which was made into a film in 2000. Mairal's novel The Woman from Uruguay (Bloomsbury, July 20, 2021), the story of two would-be lovers over the course of a single day, was a bestseller in Latin America and Spain and has been published in 12 countries.

On your nightstand now:

I just moved and I don't have a nightstand yet. My books are 600 km away. I really miss them. I mean the physical presence of my books, knowing they are there, even if I haven't opened some of the volumes for years. But I can't stop buying books so now, through the echo of this empty apartment in this foreign city, Moby-Dick is swimming around the rooms, from the closet to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the living room floor, in a beautiful blue cover edition. Also The Adversary by Carrère. But I haven't begun that one yet. And an illustrated edition of Alice in Wonderland that my daughter asks me to read to her.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first long book I read, the first "not for children book" I mean, was Southern Cross to Pole Star, the travel book by Aimé Tschiffely, who rode on horseback from Argentina to USA with two horses in 1926. A trip that took more than two years.

Your top five authors:

Borges, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, García Márquez, Anton Chekhov.

Book you've faked reading:

I studied literature so that means I faked reading almost everything.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I'm an evangelist for the poetry anthology of César Mermet, a poet I helped bring to light. After his death, a group of poets and friends and I received his whole unpublished complete works. He never wanted to publish in his lifetime, so we started putting in order and typing more than 1,000 pages of manuscripts. Not only was it worth it, but I think that work justifies my life more than my own writing.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The photo book about Amy Winehouse by Blake Wood, where Amy shines happy riding a horse in Jamaica. "Sweet reunion, Jamaica and Spain/ Were like how we were again."

Book you hid from your parents:

The first time I moved alone, I took with me my father's book of the Da Vinci sketchbooks and drawings. So each time he came to visit I had to hide it.

Book that changed your life:

Don Segundo Sombra by Ricardo Güiraldes. A novel told by a kind of Kim in Kipling's book, who follows a silent wise gaucho, a South American lama, so to say. I even thought of escaping from home when I was 15, a bit inspired in this book. Of course I didn't.

Favorite line from a book:

"Fugitiveness remains" (Lo fugitivo permanece) said the Spanish poet Quevedo in the XVII century. Sometimes I feel I'm about to understand that fully, and sometimes it just works in my mind as an endless riddle.

Five books you'll never part with:

Some books live in me. Fictions, Borges. All Fires the Fire, Cortázar. Ariel, Sylvia Plath. Human Poems, César Vallejo. One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez. But the only thing I'll never part with is a copybook and a pen.

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

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Book Review

Review: Skinship: Stories

Skinship: Stories by Yoon Choi (Knopf, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9780593318218, August 17, 2021)

In her debut collection, Skinship: Stories, Yoon Choi tells eight tales of Korean Americans, skillfully highlighting both the particulars of their experience and also the extent to which they share challenges in common with other immigrants to the United States. Their locales range from small cities and suburbia to New York City, with occasional glimpses of Korea; Choi's stories are rooted in the quotidian experiences of family and work life, painting a realistic portrait of the difficulties her subjects face in acclimating to a new land and their progress in doing so.

One of the most emotionally charged stories is "The Church of Abundant Life." Soo, a middle-aged woman who has settled in Lancaster, Pa., persuades her husband to drive her to a Philadelphia revival where an old friend of her husband's from Korea is preaching. When her husband fails to engage with the minister, she "wonders if it is his friend's success or his friend's life sorrows that have made him hold back," and realizes that "perhaps there are things about her husband that she will never understand."

In the title story, the adolescent narrator, So-hyun, comes to northern Virginia with her mother and younger brother to escape an abusive father. They move in with an aunt's family, which includes a cousin who becomes a subject of almost anthropological interest for So-hyun. She learns "you did not feel lonely or alone if you were observant. You could make a little nest for yourself in your observation. To watch what others were doing. To notice things they didn't notice."

Choi explores a shared immigrant experience in "A Map of the Simplified World," where Anjali Anand, an Indian girl, enters the third grade class of Ji-won Li, who came to the U.S. only a year earlier. The girls quickly bond, even as Ji-won's mother expresses her prejudice against Indian people. Years later, Ji-won's college application essay sparks a memory of her old friend that prefigures, for both good and ill, what she understands as "the onset of a new worldview."

Most collections have one or two entries that don't quite measure up to the quality of the volume as a whole, but that's not the case here. Each of Choi's stories is distinguished by careful character development, patient exposition and an emotional effect that deepens as the story proceeds. Hers are beautiful, sensitive stories that draw upon the lives of the culture with which she's most familiar to explore universal themes. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Yoon Choi illuminates the lives of Korean Americans in eight sensitive, meticulously crafted stories.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Hospitality & Strangers at the Bookshop Door 

Hospitality has turned out to be more precious and more fragile than we appreciated.

--William Davies, London Review of Books (June 17) 

Covid-19 pandemic media coverage tends to link the word hospitality to sector. In his recent LRB column, Davies writes: "The slow reopening of the British hospitality sector over the past few weeks signals a re-emergence from the great closures of the last year and a half--hopefully, this time, a permanent re-emergence, though who knows?"

At Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif.

But hospitality is an appropriate and important word for indie bookstores as well, though the tendency is often to lean on service. Legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer (who announced an upcoming Covid policy change for his establishments yesterday) once summed up the compatible difference: "Service can be measured based on how well a product was technically delivered. Hospitality can be measured based upon how the recipient of that service felt. Hospitality exists when something happens for you, not to you. It exists when you believe the other person is on your side. Service is truly a monologue. Hospitality has to be a dialogue."

When I was a bookseller, we had endless discussions in meetings about how to get people who hadn't been to the bookshop before to just open the damn front door and come inside--how to project hospitality in order to be of service.

Hospitality is not a simple word. Davies explains that it is "from the Latin hospes--host, guest, stranger or foreigner--which in turn derives from hostis, meaning stranger or enemy.... Hospitality is the terrain of both safety and danger. A handshake (another casualty of Covid-19) symbolizes the absence of a weapon, but only because a weapon is a real possibility; members of the same household do not shake hands. By contrast, the recently deregulated hug isn't strictly a gesture of hospitality at all. Hospitality is never without risk: it involves taking the outsider--the foreigner, the potential enemy--into one's home as a guest. Conversely, hospitality is not truly hospitality if the host doesn't retain some authority to exclude: to be a guest is to be invited in, to cross a threshold of some kind.... The host must choose whether to treat the stranger as a guest or as an enemy. Remove the discretion of the host, and what is left of hospitality?"

I used to know a corporate consultant for the hotel, cruise ship and restaurant industry--the hospitality sector. For decades, he routinely flew all over the planet to lead seminars for frontline and middle management staff. A great believer in the importance of "the last three feet," he focused on that critical moment when a member of the company's staff personally, physically, psychologically and emotionally transfers "product"--a meal, a room key, an entertainment recommendation--across the unfathomable gap between the corporation and an individual consumer/guest. 

A patron of our bookshop, he would occasionally lead sessions for the staff, sharing wisdom about the "last three feet" between a bookseller handselling a title and their reader/customer. This was my preferred retail mantra for a long time. Then Covid-19 stretched the hospitality gap to six feet; added face masks, plexiglass shields, hand sanitizer stations; and, for a time, shuttered bookshop front doors completely. 

At Second Flight Books, Lafayette, Ind.

"Hospitality loses its ambivalence, and becomes instead a procedural matter of openings and closures," Davies writes of pandemic mentality, "in which the discretion no longer lies with the parties concerned. In such a world there are no real hosts and no real strangers, just identities to be checked: a hostile environment."

Forget about wondering how to get more people to open the front door. Suddenly, the trick was to find hospitable ways to keep the Covid zombies out, while simultaneously reinventing online hospitality through mail-order, curbside or window pickups, home deliveries (asking customers to open their front doors) and more. And even when cautious reopening became a possibility, the number of customers permitted inside proved to be a challenging metric. 

Confusion and controversy still reign throughout the land. As just one example, this week KNWA reported that at Dickson Street Bookshop, Fayetteville, Ark., "there had been several situations where it's had to close because of an employee testing positive for Covid-19. This, in addition to the store being a small setting with tight walking spaces, is why store manager Suedee Hall-Elkins said what makes them feel comfortable is requiring masks inside the shop." 

But enforcing the policy is a daily struggle, with booksellers "being verbally assaulted; it has caused an overall loss in business and for people to leave hateful public reviews online that have nothing to do with the product or customer service," KNWA noted. 

"It's incredibly frustrating because if there were just a mask mandate, then it wouldn't be on us, and people wouldn't come in and attack us personally," said Hall-Elkins. "You know it would just be this is how it is right now because we are trying to do the right thing to protect everyone."

In his LRB essay, Davies observes: "What's most likely is that 'normality' will return, but with invisible costs and harms: a new wariness towards the stranger, a new attitude towards 'home,' a new set of hidden codes determining who gains entry and who does not. How we undo these innovations, and whether it's even possible to do so, remains to be seen."

--Robert Gray, editor

Powered by: Xtenit