Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 19, 2021

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


Michelle Bear to Take Over Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash.

In advance of the bookstore's 50th anniversary next spring, Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash., will change hands this fall, the Seattle Times reported.

Mary Kay Sneeringer and David Brewster, who have owned the bookstore for the last 20 years, will sell the store to Michelle Bear, the bookstore's assistant manager and an employee for 15 years. Bear will take possession of the store sometime in the next few weeks, and Brewster and Sneeringer will continue to work at the store part-time during the transition.

Sneeringer told the Seattle Times that she and Brewster "knew we would try to make it work for Michelle, who's been so key to our success over the last few years. Luckily we had a couple of community members who stepped up and are willing to back [Bear]." She expects the deal to be finalized this fall.

Bear first joined the staff in 2007 and has been assisstant manager since 2016. She has some changes in mind for when she takes the reins, but those will likely wait until after the bookstore completely resumes pre-pandemic operations, particularly in-person author events. Prior to the pandemic the bookstore hosted five or six author events each month, and Bear hopes to return to that sort of schedule once authors are willing to travel again and customers are comfortable gathering in small spaces.

Michelle Bear

She described the new and used bookstore's offerings as a "community effort," noting that the Edmonds community has been integral in shaping the store's inventory. The store's biography, children's, cooking and Spanish-language sections have grown significantly in recent years due to customer demand, as have the sections pertaining to local history and Indigenous history.

"When customers come in, they know their sections, and they let us know what books they'd like to see," Bear said.

Once she takes over, Bear will have plenty of colleagues and friends to turn to for advice. The bookstore's original owner, Kathy Chapman, still shops at the bookstore, and Susan Hildebrandt, the store's third owner, still works there. Another store employee, Sneeringer added, started working at the bookstore at 14 as a gift wrapper and has worked for every one of Edmonds Bookshop's owners.

Sneeringer and Brewster first met while working at University Book Store roughly 40 years ago. Looking back at her time at Edmonds Bookshop, she pointed to a Harry Potter midnight release party, which happened to fall on the same day as their oldest daughter's 16th birthday, as a particular highlight. She also gradually began to see the bookshop as not her own, but the community's.

"The bookstore is only here because of the people in town who've made a choice to buy books from us," Sneeringer said. "And that was a real switch in my thinking. Realizing that the bookstore belongs to Edmonds as much as it belongs to me was crucial."

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Va.'s Blacksburg Books Now Open

Blacksburg Books, "the realization of a lifetime dream for Blacksburg attorney Laurie Kelly," opened on August 6 in Blacksburg, Va., the Roanoke Times reported. The store has 7,000 new and used books for all ages, as well as cold drinks and locally made snacks and artisan gifts. (For more on Kelly's background, see our story from July 14.)

Besides large children's and literary fiction sections, the store also features mysteries, Appalachian titles, memoir, young adult, thrillers, nonfiction and more. The oldest book for sale was published in 1861: Half Hours with Best Authors. The store also has local-interest titles, including a shelf dedicated to works by Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni. In addition, the store will soon begin hosting talks by local authors, including thriller writer Sarah Warburton and Virginia Tech professor Lee Vinsel.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

International Update: Eslite Planning New Stores in Taiwan, Swedish Book Sales Up

Taiwanese bookseller Eslite "is shifting its focus into smaller community stores in its home market after struggling due to Covid-19 last year," Retail News Asia reported. Mercy Wu, the company's chairwoman, said that 100 small-format stores will be launched within the next three years, and one store is set to open in China in 2024. 

A drop in tourists due to Covid-19 restrictions and a decline in the viability of larger shops prompted Eslite's decision to change its focus from giant destination stores to smaller outlets. The strategy will help the bookstore chain attract customers in smaller communities it could not reach before, Retail News Asia noted, adding that Eslite "will continue to operate its largest store in the New Taipei City district of Xindian in late next year or early 2023."

Eslite closed nine outlets in Taiwan last year, including its first 24-hour bookshop; a mega-store planned for Kuala Lumpur, which was set to open next year, has been delayed and is likely to launch in 2023 due to the ongoing pandemic situation in Malaysia. Eslite's stores outside Taiwan include outlets in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Suzhou.


Book sales in Sweden hit an all-time high in the first half of 2021, following a record year in 2020 due to pandemic lockdowns, the World Book Forum reported. According to the Swedish Booksellers' Association, total sales were up 10% compared with the same period in 2020, with printed books up 7% and digital books up 14%. Children's books led the rise. Compared with the pre-pandemic first half of 2019, total sales were up 18%.

"The trends we have seen since the start of the pandemic continue," the association noted. "It is digital sales channels and formats that are increasing, while book sales in physical bookstores are declining. At the same time, many of the association's members see that vaccinated customers are returning to the stores and that 'staycationing' has also benefited sales this summer."

Maria Hamrefors, chairperson at the association, said stores located in large cities and malls accounted for the drop in physical trade, while "shops in holiday resorts or in areas where people live--and work at home--have done very well."


Travel publishers in the U.K. reported a sales increase in recent months as pandemic restrictions have eased, but cautioned that it may be years until conditions return to normal, the Bookseller reported, adding that many publishers are "pivoting towards popular U.K. and activity-based guides."

James Atkinson, brand manager at DK Eyewitness, said the company has seen "a much more positive picture" in recent weeks, indicating that "book buyers' appetite for travel titles continues to grow stronger and stronger," though he cautioned: "We're by no means back to normal."  

Daniel Start, founder of Wild Guides, observed that although European guides have been "pretty slow" to sell, staycation U.K. books have "more than made up for it. Overall it's been pretty good for us."

Andy Riddle, managing director of Heartwood Publishing, warned that the full impact of Brexit has yet to be seen: "I think longer term we need to see how that plays out. Whether its to do with inconveniences or costs so whether it's traveling with pets or roaming charges or queues at airports, that will be interesting to see as we return to some sort of semblance of normality." 

Piers Pickard, books managing director at Lonely Planet, said that travel book sales have been following government guidelines: "If a country goes on a green list, then we instantly start selling the books.... I think there is huge pent-up demand for 2022 and beyond."


Welcome back, patrons! Posted on Facebook this week by Indian bookseller Pagdandi Bookstore Cafe in Pune: "The tables starting to get occupied again are a ray of hope after a bleak last few months. We are open for Indoor bookstore, outdoor dining, take away and delivery, Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Let's Meet!"

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Obituary Note: Eloise Greenfield

Eloise Greenfield

Eloise Greenfield, a beloved children's author who "left a catalogue of books that spanned five decades and fans who grew up reciting her poems, reading her books to their children and buying them for their grandchildren," died August 5, NBC News reported. She was 92. Her first book, Bubbles (1972), was published "at a time when books featuring Black children and families were rare. She quickly rose to prominence with her lyrical creations featuring everyday folks as well as historic figures."

"My mom wrote from a love of craft, a love of words, and a strong sense of mission and purpose," said her son, Steve Greenfield. "She set out to counter the blatant misrepresentation of African Americans in mainstream literature and media and to contribute to Black children, recognizing their beauty and love."

Her daughter, Monica Greenfield, said, "Early in her career, she experienced some pushback because of this, which reinforced my understanding of our struggle against racism, and having integrity and principles."

Greenfield's 48 books include Rosa Parks; She Come Bringing Me That Little Baby Girl; Honey, I Love; Grandpa's Face; Night on Neighborhood Street; Water, Water; MJ and Me; Grandma's Joy; The Friendly Four; Paul Robeson; When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War; The Great Migration: Journey to the North; The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives; and Alaina and the Great Play.

She won numerous awards, including the 2018 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; a Hurston/Wright Foundation North Star Award for lifetime achievement; and induction into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.

Greenfield insisted on having Black illustrators for her books at a time when publishers claimed they could not find any. Illustrator Jan Spivey Gilchrist worked on 29 books with Greenfield over 26 years. Celebrated children's books illustrator Floyd Cooper, who died July 15, credited her with starting his career.

"Writers, historians and cultural gatekeepers admired Greenfield for her convictions," NBC News wrote. "Her lyrical writings showed Black life in a way that had seldom been presented in print, endearing her to teachers and parents, but her insistence that Black illustrators and authors be entrusted with controlling the images of their lives made her an esteemed guardian of Black history and culture."

"She was one of the most honest and fair people I ever met," said Gilchrist. "I'm having a difficult time with this loss. This woman never bowed. Never bowed."

Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson, founders of Just Us Books, witnessed Greenfield's determination to provide Black literature and to support Black and independent bookstores. "She was one of those pioneers that were mentors, advocates and carriers of the fight for diversity," Wade Hudson said. "She didn't take no stuff."


The Well~Read Moose's Melissa DeMotte: 'People Love Browsing'

Melissa DeMotte, owner of the Well~Read Moose bookstore, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, was the subject of a "Fast Five" q&a by the Coeur d'Alene Press. Among the highlights:

What's the story of the Well~Read Moose (and how did you choose the name)?
The Well~Read Moose came about after Borders closed in 2011. I had a strong feeling that Coeur d'Alene needed a bookstore to complement the wonderful library and cultural activities offered in our community. I attended a class offered by the American Booksellers Association in 2012 and decided to work toward opening an independent bookstore in 2014. It was challenging putting all the pieces together and certainly financially risky leaving my job with health insurance benefits. Without the Affordable Care Act, I never would have taken the chance on the bookstore. Just too risky as a breast cancer survivor.

The name came about through the bookstore consulting firm I was working with. They were from Florida and had never heard of "Cur da Lane!" After a few minutes scrolling on their laptops, they said "The Well~Read Moose." They had NO idea how much I love moose (I feel they are a bit geeky like myself) and that I had moose décor all over my house. It was so easy and perfect.

Have you observed anything interesting about people from working in a bookstore?
People love browsing and finding their next great read. We still get comments like, "Oooh, new book smell." Yes, people buy books online and might read on devices, but the feeling of being surrounded by books is relaxing and comforting. Life is far too hectic and now with Covid more uncertain, there is certainty that there will be books and more books to choose and savor and pass on to someone you just know will love it as much as you do.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Andrew Sullivan on Real Time with Bill Maher

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Michelle Collins, author of Into the Gray: The Mental and Emotional Aftermath of Spiritual Deconstruction (Quoir, $19.99, 9781938480805).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Andrew Sullivan, author of Out on a Limb: Selected Writing, 1989-2021 (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501155895).

This Weekend on Book TV: Julie K. Brown

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, August 21
3:25 p.m. A discussion about novelist John Steinbeck's relationship with the American West. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:25 a.m.)

Sunday, August 22
8 a.m. Marc Morano, author of Green Fraud: Why the Green New Deal Is Even Worse than You Think (Regnery, $28.99, 9781684510856). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:35 a.m. Julie K. Brown, author of Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story (‎Dey Street, $27.99, 9780063000582). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:35 p.m.)

4:05 p.m. Scott Horton, author of Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism (‎The Libertarian Institute, $19.99, 9781733647342). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

4:30 p.m. Amanda Montell, author of Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism (‎Harper Wave, $27.99, 9780062993151). (Re-airs Monday at 4:25 a.m.)

6:20 p.m. Jesse Watters, author of How I Saved the World (‎Broadside Books, $27.99, 9780063049086).  (Re-airs Monday at 6:15 a.m.)

7 p.m. Kathryn Kolbert and Julie Kay, authors of Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom (‎Hachette Books, $29, 9780306925634). (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Dayton Literary Peace Finalists

Finalists have been announced for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which "celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding." A winner and runner-up in both the fiction and nonfiction categories will be named September 22. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up $2,500. Margaret Atwood will also be honored with the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. The 2021 finalists are:

Deacon King Kong by James McBride (Riverhead)
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (Grove)
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (Algonquin)
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins)
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore (HarperCollins)
We Germans by Alexander Starritt (Little, Brown)

Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land by Toni Jenson (Ballantine)
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House)
See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur (One World)
The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir by Michele Harper (Riverhead)
The Road from Raqqa: A Story of Brotherhood, Borders, and Belonging by Jordan Ritter (Ballantine)
When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains by Ariana Neumann (Scribner)

Because last year's awards ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic, both this year's and last year's winners are scheduled to be honored during a gala weekend in Dayton, Ohio, November 13-14. The 2020 winners were Alice Hoffman (fiction) for The World That We Knew and Chanel Miller (nonfiction) for Know My Name; and the runners-up were Christy Lefteri (fiction) for The Beekeeper of Aleppo and Jennifer Eberhardt for Biased

Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, said: "As we struggle through the second year of a politically divisive pandemic, the whole world feels fractured and on edge--which makes it pleasantly surprising to see how many of this year's finalists tackle tough issues, from gun violence to economic struggle to racism, with compassion and wisdom but also, in several instances, a sense of wit. Compassion, wisdom, and gentle humor are ways for writers to invite readers into their fold and create a sense of shared experience, and they reinforce the underlying message in all of this year's books: that no matter how bad things get, we can make them better by enduring them as a community rather than alone."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 24:

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Novel by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (‎Harper, $28.99, 9780062942937) follows an African America woman exploring her family's past in the deep South.

The Guide by Peter Heller (Knopf, $27, 9780525657767) is a thriller about a fishing guide hired at an elite Colorado resort.

Lightning Strike: A Novel by William Kent Krueger (Atria, $27, 9781982128685) is the 18th entry in the Cork O'Connor mystery series.

Eyes of the Forest by April Henry (Holt, $17.99, 9781250234087) features a young woman who is an author's biggest fan trying to find him when he goes missing.

Where Three Oceans Meet by Rajani LaRocca, illus. by Archana Sreenivasan (Abrams, $17.99, 9781419741296) is a picture book ode to multigenerational love

My Brother the Killer: A Family Story by Alix Sharkey (‎Harper, $27.99, 9780063051348) is written by the brother of a British child murderer.

Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir by Kat Chow (Grand Central, $28, 9781538716328) is a memoir about three generations of a Chinese American family.

The Paris Connection by Lorraine Brown (Putnam, $16, 9780593190562).

A Million Things by Emily Spurr (‎Berkley, $17, 9780593332733).

I'm Only Wicked with You: The Palace of Rogues by Julie Anne Long (‎Avon, $8.99, 9780063045088).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Radiant Fugitives: A Novel by Nawaaz Ahmed (Counterpoint, $27, 9781640094048). "Two sisters and their mother are reunited as the eldest sister is about to give birth, but they struggle to find common ground. Brilliantly told through the voice of the unborn child, love, loss, politics, faith, sexuality, and race intersect across decades and continents." --Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books, Davidson, N.C.

All's Well: A Novel by Mona Awad (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982169664). "Gloriously bananas, dark and weird, and so, so good. All's Well is a big, messy, strange journey about chronic pain, Shakespeare, friendship, mental health, witchcraft, and work." --Rachel Barry, WORD Bookstores, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Hunter and the Old Woman: A Novel by Pamela Korgemagi (House of Anansi Press, $18.99, 9781487008253). "In this eerily beautiful tale of nature and humanity, we follow Cougar from birth to death, while the man hunting Cougar is drawn in by the echoing call of the forest and the stories told by the men of his town." --Lily Hunter, Skylark Books, Columbia, Mo.

For Ages 4 to 8
Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781534469013). "This is a baterrific story about Amara's fascination with bats that began with a bat being trapped in her attic. Amara and the Bats proves that even a child with one small idea can begin to change our world." --Marilyn Robbins, BookBar, Denver, Colo.

For Ages 8 to 12
ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse by Stephanie Cooke, illus. by Mari Costa (Etch/HMH Books for Young Readers, $24.99, 9780358168997). "Absolutely sweet graphic novel about a girl with fledgling magic powers that seem stronger than they should be. With evil bunnies, a wolf girl, a forgetful ghost, and a pumpkinhead looking for some basic rights for pumpkins! Charming and fun and I was smiling the whole time." --Cass Moskowitz, Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (Dial Books, $17.99, 9781984815408). "This book is so delightful and had me smiling the whole time. THIS is the trans boy joy we all need to read and have in our lives." --Kelsy April, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: My Sweet Girl

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa (Berkley, $26 hardcover, 384p., 9780593335086, September 14, 2021)

How perfect that the lyrics to "Que Sera, Sera," the song Doris Day introduced to the world in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, are a motif in My Sweet Girl, Amanda Jayatissa's debut thriller. Aspects of the novel's plot call to mind several of the Master of Suspense's classics--especially Vertigo--but My Sweet Girl is neither derivative nor a Hitchcock homage: it's a homespun tour de force that will elicit an amusement park ride's worth of gasps.

One of the novel's two alternating story lines plays out in San Francisco and is driven by an amusingly foulmouthed, drink-addled and short-tempered narrator; "Be nice, Paloma. Be kind," is one of her many stabilizing self-directed imperatives. As the novel opens, she drunkenly returns to her apartment and finds her roommate, Arun, who has been blackmailing her, dead at the kitchen table ("Focus, Paloma"), his head on the table in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment. When the police finally come on the scene, Arun's body is gone, as is the telltale blood.

The novel's other story line unspools 18 years earlier in Ratmalana, Sri Lanka, at the Little Miracles Girls' Home. Twelve-year-old narrator Paloma and the other young residents of the orphanage are giddily anticipating a visit from a wealthy American couple, each girl harboring the same wish--in Paloma's words, "That Mr. and Mrs. Evans would like me so much that they would want to make me their daughter." Because the Sri Lankan government has a rule that by age 15, unadopted Little Miracles residents must move on to the dreaded St. Margaret's Home for Girls, Paloma is well aware that she doesn't have much time left to be claimed.

My Sweet Girl is so cleverly put together that even readers who figure out the novel's central twist (and it's a good bet that they won't) will find their state of suspense undiminished, as several questions will remain to be answered--and ultimately are, blindsidingly so. Jayatissa's gift for plotting is matched by her grace with lacing her fleet narrative with rich social themes, among them cultural assimilation and the different values placed on white versus brown bodies. In a canny touch, the novel's plot hinges on the literary classic Wuthering Heights ("Mrs. Evans was going to be my Catherine. She was going to save me," thinks 12-year-old Paloma). My Sweet Girl may well become, likewise, a classic. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This debut thriller, alternately set in San Francisco and, 18 years earlier, at a Sri Lankan orphanage, showcases Amanda Jayatissa's masterful sleight-of-hand plotting.

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