Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 10, 2021

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


Grand Opening Celebration for MahoganyBooks' Second Store

Derrick and Ramunda Young, co-founders of MahoganyBooks, hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration over the weekend for their second store, in National Harbor, at 121 American Way, Oxon Hill, Md. The business began as an online store in 2007 and launched a bricks-and-mortar location in the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, D.C.'s Anacostia neighborhood in 2018. The new location, at 1,400 square feet, is nearly triple the size of the D.C. store.

On Instagram Saturday, MahoganyBooks posted: "Today was truly a dream! Not even the rain could stop our grand opening today & we are beyond grateful for all of the love & support, especially those that came out today. During our ribbon cutting, it was proclaimed by Prince George's County that today, August 7th is #BlackBooksMatterDay. Come on somebody!! We can’t wait to share more. But for now, tap our profile photo to check out our stories. Thank you to everyone that is sharing & tagging us! We are still here." Later in the day, the bookstore added: "What we do is so much bigger than us! Thank you is not enough but we truly appreciate all of the love and support. SWIPE for a small peek into our store from yesterday’s grand opening." 

Yesterday, MahoganyBooks posted on Facebook: "Even though today we proudly celebrate #NationalBookLoversDay, this past Saturday was officially proclaimed Black Books Matter Day on our behalf in Prince George’s County, MD via a special proclamation by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks  @cexalsobrooks. 

"Thank you to almost 1000 amazing customers, friends & family who celebrated our grand opening this past Saturday... in the rain. Black Books Matter Day is not only for us, but for the generations of young people after us to recognize the value and monumental contributions Black writers have made to our society now... and... then. We are still on cloud nine about this weekend so yes, your timelines will have more posts about it so prepare, lol.  We got our own day y’all!"

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Word After Word Grows in Truckee, Calif.

Over the course of the pandemic, Word After Word in Truckee, Calif., has moved into a larger location, opened a downstairs record store called Rock Cellar Records and started carrying used books. 

Founder and owner Andie Keith, who first opened the store in downtown Truckee in 2016, reported that the store has gone from a 950-square-foot space to the historic Truckee mercantile building, which was a grocery store for decades. The building's main floor features new titles for kids and adults across 3,000 square feet of selling space. There's an additional 1,000 square feet of storage and office space on the bookstore's top floor, and the basement is home to the record store and used books, which are kept apart from the new book inventory.

When she signed the lease for the new space in November 2019, Keith said she imagined using the basement, which has rock-lined walls and brick floors, for events. But then March 2020 rolled around and in-store events were shelved indefinitely, and it didn't help that the cellar had no ventilation. Over the 2020-2021 holidays, Keith and her family were brainstorming about what to do with the basement, and her children, who are all into music, said they'd "love to do vinyl."

Rock Cellar Records

"I said I don't know anything about that," Keith recalled. "They said, 'we'll find people.' "

Keith's son actually came up with a business plan for Rock Cellar Records, and over the winter they began fixing up the downstairs. They brought in tables and crates for the records and created a section for used books. At present the store's used titles were all previously owned by staff members or Keith's family; Keith and her team have yet to buy books from customers.

"It's a really complicated process," she said. "They're so much harder than new books."

The extra storage and office space at the new location has been extremely helpful, Keith noted. In the old location there was only enough space to do just-in-time ordering; now Keith and her team "have an entire bookstore stored upstairs." There's also a receiving area in the back of the building with a doorway that faces an alleyway, where someone is "receiving all day long." The store now feels like a "completely different business."

In March 2020, Keith was in the middle of "drawing up plans" for the new store when she had to shut down the existing location. She remembered sending everyone home and having a "little pity party" for herself because she had two leases at the time. She kept everyone employed throughout the shutdown, and her team figured out online sales and web orders on the fly. The team took things day by day, and in addition to processing web orders they wrote book reviews, put together book bundles and "talked to people at the door with masks on." She called it "a tough time, but a community building time."

Keith said her landlord at the new space was also "really good and helpful" and worked with her during the shutdown. At the same time, she and her family began doing improvements and renovations on the 110-year-old building. Her staff came back in May 2020 and helped move inventory and install shelves and bookcases. She kept the online sales going throughout that time with the goal of being able to reopen when the state's order was lifted.

Word After Word welcomed customers in the new space in June of last year. Now, a little over a year later, the store is still finding its footing in the new location. This summer has been incredibly busy, and while the store has not yet resumed indoor author events they've hosted online book clubs, an online children's summer program and an outdoor event with a local mystery author.

There have been plenty of returning seasonal customers, Keith said, who had no idea the store moved. When they see the new space for the first time, they are "in awe." --Alex Mutter

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

International Update: Hungary Restricts Sales of LGBTQ+-Themed Books, O'Brien Press Bookseller of the Year

On Friday, Hungary ordered retailers "to sell children's books seen as promoting homosexuality in 'closed wrapping,' stepping up restrictions that have set Prime Minister Viktor Orban on a collision course with rights groups and the European Union," Reuters reported. The decree also includes books seen as promoting gender change and containing "explicit" depictions of sexuality. It also told shops to sell them separately and banned any sales of such items within 200 meters (about 650 feet) of a school or a church.

The European Commission has launched legal action against the government over the legislation, "saying it is discriminatory and contravenes European values of tolerance and individual freedom," Reuters wrote.

In July, bookshop chain Líra Könyv had been fined for selling the picture book Micsoda család!, a Hungarian translation combining two titles by U.S. author Lawrence Schimel and illustrator Elīna Brasliņa: Early One Morning and Bedtime, Not Playtime!.

A recent Ipsos poll found that 46% of Hungarians support same-sex marriage, and last month thousands of Hungarians joined the annual Budapest Pride march to protest against the new law.


Louisa Cameron

Louisa Cameron, owner of Raven Books in Dublin, Ireland, is this year's winner of the O'Brien Press Bookseller of the Year, presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievement or an invaluable contribution to the book trade by an individual bookseller, the Bookseller reported. Winners receive "The Elements" (a bronze trophy sculpted by one of Ireland's leading sculptors, Rowan Gillespie) and a framed commemorative certificate.

"In a hugely challenging year for everybody, books have been hugely important for so many people. With the rules on opening and collection regularly changing, ensuring that people knew they could get books locally was vital," said Ivan O'Brien, managing director of the O'Brien Press. "Actually getting the right books to customers has demanded huge energy and innovation. So many great booksellers looked after their community amazingly well, and nobody better than Louisa Cameron at Raven Books. Her famous bicycle clocked up many miles, and her recommendations and customer support left many smiling faces of all ages. She is a worthy winner of Bookseller of the Year."

Cameron observed that receiving the award "would have meant a great deal to me in a normal year; given the year we have all just been through, it is hard to articulate just how appreciative I am to be given this honor. I feel very thankful that every single day of the pandemic I have had a clear sense of purpose through my work, knowing that getting books into the hands of readers helps make their days that bit brighter.... With this award, I feel profoundly grateful to have become a small part of the flourishing Irish literary tradition, and at a time when it has become abundantly clear that books are essential."


In Kenya, Soma Nami Books has opened at the Greenhouse Mall on Ngong Road in Nairobi. HapaKenya reported that the bookstore "features a luxurious sitting area and a coffee station, making it an ideal location for book clubs to gather or book lovers to visit and spend their time."

"We started out as a book club, but we had the challenge of accessing the books that we really wanted to read. We therefore figured that we could create a space that caters to other book lovers like us," said co-founder Muthoni Muiruri.

Last February, "after much frustration on the lack of diversity in bookstores in Nairobi," Muiruri and her business partner Wendy Njoroge launched an online bookstore to add to diversity and focus on books written by African authors, HapaKenya noted. The online venture's success motivated them to open a physical store to cater to more customers and expand their offering to cover children's, young adult, non-fiction and fiction books.

"We strongly feel that anybody who walks in at Soma Nami Books will be able to find something that caters to their taste," Njoroge said. --Robert Gray

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Obituary Note: Ted Lewin

Ted Lewin

Ted Lewin, who illustrated and wrote more than 200 children's and YA books, died on July 28 at age 86. Among his many awards were a Caldecott Honor for Peppe the Lamplighter in 1994. In 2015, he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame, and in 1998, he won the Society of Illustrators' Stevan Dohanos Award.

Lewin studied at the Pratt Institute and began his career doing illustrations for adventure magazines. But eventually he began working on books. "I'm having more fun doing this than anything I've ever done before," he said.

He was also an avid traveler, and many of his books were inspired by trips around the world, including his ALA notable book, Market!, published in 1996 and showcasing markets in Uganda, Ireland, Ecuador and other countries.

He collaborated on some books with his wife, Betsy, including Touch and Go, stories about adventures he had while doing research abroad.

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


Video: National Book Lover's Day at Avid Bookshop

The University of Georgia Alumni Association created a video highlighting Avid Bookshop on National Book Lovers Day yesterday (August 9), noting: "We are celebrating National Book Lover's Day with Avid Bookshop and its founder/owner Janet Geddis (MED '06)."

Personnel Changes at Macmillan

Kristin Janecek has been promoted to international sales associate at Macmillan.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alexander Vindman on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (ret.), author of Here, Right Matters: An American Story (Harper, $26.99, 9780063079427).

The Talk: Tarana Burke and Brené Brown, editors of You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience (Random House, $27, 9780593243626).

Movies: The Liar

Jeff Goldblum will star opposite Asa Butterfield in The Liar, a film adaptation of Stephen Fry's semi-autobiographical novel that will shoot in the U.K. next month, Deadline reported. The project will be directed by Tony Hagger, who also wrote the adaptation. Fluidity Films' Guy de Beaujeu (Journey's End) is producing.

"I hiccupped with delight when I heard that Jeff Goldblum had accepted the role of Donald Trefusis," Fry said. "That uniquely perfect mixture of authority, eccentricity, intelligence, humour and charm is just what the character calls for... hurrah."

Books & Authors

Women's Prize for Fiction Launches 'Futures' Initiative for Writers Under 35

The Women's Prize for Fiction is partnering with Good Housekeeping magazine to launch the Futures project, which will celebrate women writers of fiction 35 years old and under who have published at least one full-length work of fiction in the U.K. or Republic of Ireland by December 31. The Bookseller reported that the initiative, coinciding with the magazine's 100th anniversary in 2022, "will see 10 writers promoted and interviewed in Good Housekeeping, receiving a photoshoot, online publicity and participation in virtual events."

The Futures judging panel is looking for "excellence, originality, ambition and promise." The Women's Prize team will compile a confidential list of 20 authors from the nominations received, then a panel of five judges will decide a final list of 10 authors; the Futures 10. A public vote will run throughout 2022 for readers to select an overall winner from the Futures 10, crowning the victor in the magazine's December 2022 issue.

Book Review

Review: A Play for the End of the World

A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti (Knopf, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9780525658924, September 7, 2021)

Time, geographies and backgrounds all seem to flow effortlessly through Jai Chakrabarti's exquisite debut novel, A Play for the End of the World. At its core is the provenance of a possible love story between two strangers in New York City. Interwoven into this uncertain romance are two all-too-real, grievous world events--the Holocaust in Poland and the Communist Naxalite insurgencies in 1970s West Bengal, India. The eponymous "play"--Dak Ghar by Rabindranath Tagore--staged 30 years and thousands of miles apart will prove to be the unlikely connector between the two shattering histories.

Jaryk Smith arrived in the U.S. in 1946, at age 13. He "chose [his] own last name" from the nametag of the immigration officer. He wasn't alone--he had Misha by his side. Jaryk and Misha were each other's "only family," since meeting at the orphanage founded by Janusz Korczak, known as Pan Doktor, who cared for hundreds of Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto. Jaryk was one of Korczak's orphans; Misha, a decade older, was a frequently helpful orphanage graduate-of-sorts.

In July 1942, Korczak staged a production of Dak Ghar with and for his charges; he hoped the play, "about a dying child living through his imagination while quarantined," might "help his orphans reimagine ghetto life and... prepare them for what was to come." Nine-year-old Jaryk was Amal, the dying child. Remarkably, he would be the sole survivor of the forced removal to Treblinka that claimed Korczak, his staff and the children. Jaryk miraculously escaped the death train and (barely) survived alone until he was reunited with Misha in a post-war displaced persons camp.

After decades shared together as Americans, an upcoming production of Dak Ghar ironically, tragically, separates Misha and Jaryk. A visiting Indian professor at Columbia, who is familiar with Korczak's legacy, enlists Misha and Jaryk to help stage Dak Ghar in a rural Indian village threatened by a corrupt government targeting insurgents. Misha travels to India alone--and dies. By then, Jaryk has been involved with Lucy, a New York City transplant from the South. "The last edict Misha had was [for Jaryk] to start a family with Lucy." But Jaryk must first know what happened to beloved Misha, and an inevitable, epic journey ensues.

Chakrabarti, born in Kolkata and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., creates a gorgeous international, intercultural mosaic, revealing intricate pieces readers must carefully parse. That intimate engagement promises sublime insights about survival, everlasting guilt, the many layers of longing and the challenges of learning to love. Elegantly assured, Chakrabarti's storytelling proves revelatory. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Jai Chakrabarti's transporting debut novel interweaves time, geographies and histories to give provenance to an unlikely romance between a Polish Holocaust survivor and his small-town Southern lover.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Verity by Colleen Hoover
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. No Rep by Lani Lynn Vale
4. Negotiation as a Martial Art by Cash Nickerson
5. The Cowboy's Daughter by Jamie K. Schmidt
6. Ruby: Dragonslayer by J.E. Thompson
7. Revealing the Monster by Amelia Hutchins
8. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
9. Colorado High Country Boxed Set by Pamela Clare
10. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

[Many thanks to!]

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