Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


AAP: June Sales Flat; First Half of 2021 Up 18.1%

Total net book sales in June in the U.S. rose 0.2%, to $1.2 billion, compared to June 2020, representing sales of 1,358 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. June 2020 was the third full month reflecting lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the year to date, total net sales rose 18.1%, to $6.3 billion.

Trade sales fell 8%, to $638.5 million, in June, but for the first six months of the year rose 17%, to $4.1 billion.

Sales by category in June 2021 compared to June 2020:

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Suwanee's Read It Again Bookstore Returning to Flood-Damaged Location

Read It Again Bookstore, Suwanee, Ga., which suffered major flood damage last February due to a burst water heater and has been operating out of a temporary space ever since, will be returning to its location at 3630 Peachtree Pkwy, Suite 314.

In a recent update on Facebook, owner Kim McNamara shared the news: "We have been living out boxes long enough! Read It Again Bookstore is getting ready to move back and unpack into our old space.... Very soon we be putting out a call for volunteers to help us unpack our books. If you want to help, please keep an eye out on our website and social media. Everyone who volunteers will get a coupon for a free used book! Thank you everyone for your patience. I know shopping out of boxes is no fun, but with your help we will be back on our feet in no time. See you soon!"

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Abrams Increases Book Event Co-op Through 2021


Abrams has increased its bookstore event co-op to $200 per event for the remainder of 2021. Wendy Ceballos, senior director, trade sales & operations and indie ambassador at Abrams, said, "We join the many other publishers that realize events are taking more effort whether virtual, offsite, hybrid or in-store and want to support our indie partners as they continue to adapt to the new author event landscape."

For more information, booksellers should contact their local rep or e-mail Ceballos directly.

Sydney Jarrard Leaving ABA, Starting New Venture

Sydney Jarrard

Sydney Jarrard, the American Booksellers Association's content director, will be leaving at the end of August, after more than eight years with the organization, to focus on her own writing, Bookselling This Week reported. She will also be launching an editorial service, Speakeasy Conscious Language Consulting, which "aims to help businesses large and small eliminate oppressive language from print and online content." 

"As my grandfather says, 'You only go around once,' " Jarrard said in reference to her intention to also continue writing YA fiction. "After winning a writing fellowship in 2017 and now having a reading coming up in September, it's time to go all in. I hope to be visiting indie bookstores across the country again in a few years, but this time as an author. I can't wait to see all of my bookish friends again."

ABA CEO Allison Hill commented: "We are so grateful to Sydney for all that she's done for ABA and for booksellers during her tenure, especially this past year and a half. From her vision for member communication and the board nomination process, to her commitment to staff development and her extraordinary copyediting gift, her contributions have been many; she will be greatly missed. Although we are sad to see Sydney go, we are happy to know she'll be focused on her own writing and editing and we look forward to booking her at a future Winter Institute!"

Dan Cullen, ABA's senior strategy officer (who will be retiring at the end of the year) and Jarrard's supervisor, added: "From her first days at ABA, Sydney hit the ground running and has approached her work on behalf of member bookstores with focus, consummate skill, the highest of standards, and unflagging collegiality and good humor. Readers of BTW know what a great job she does, but many might not realize that so much of ABA's content--from to the Indie Next List--have greater clarity, accuracy, and focus because of Sydney's hard work. Importantly, her belief in the power and the potential of language has helped ABA's ongoing DEI efforts in her work with a number of colleagues. I've learned a lot working with Sydney and look forward to seeing what her next chapter will be."

Jarrard joined ABA in 2013 as the content coordinator, later becoming the senior writer/researcher, then content director, overseeing ABA's website content, newsletter and social media, in addition to all association editing. In her current role, she has "focused on broadening ABA's content and language to be more inclusive and welcoming of the entire spectrum of diversity," ABA noted.

Obituary Note: Tamzin Malone

Tamzin Malone

Tamzin Malone, co-owner with her husband, Ted, of Main Street Books in Lafayette, Ind., died last Friday, the Purdue Exponent reported. Malone had been in hospice care with terminal cancer.

On Thursday, friends, family members and bookstore customers had gathered at Main Street Books to celebrate Malone's life. She was celebrated as a "staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights and racial equality," as well as a "loving and accepting friend, an activist, a lover of books and more."

Elizabeth Lincourt, a longtime friend of Malone, organized the event. She encouraged people to record videos of themselves talking about Malone and what she meant to them, and she plans to compile those videos and send them to Malone's husband. Some of Malone's favorite books, including the novels of Jane Austen, were moved to the front of the store for the celebration.

"I wanted to create a space where people could tell her little stories about their time with her and how she impacted their lives," Lincourt said.

Heather Zarate, one of Malone's employees, told the Exponent that she was "the most genuine and warm-hearted person I've ever met." Prior to joining the staff in May, Zarate had been shopping at the store for five years. She often brought her kids with her, who grew up calling the store "Tamzin's, not Main Street."

Lindsey Russell, another longtime friend of Malone's who helped her move inventory into the store when it first opened, recalled that she "used to joke that I came in with the inventory because I was here so often." She added that they loved the same things, like good books and stories, and that the "six years she was my friend were the best six years of my life."

Lincourt told the Exponent she hopes to keep the store open and "retain Malone's spirit and style."


Oprah's Book Club Pick: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Oprah Winfrey has chosen The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins) as her 92nd Oprah's Book Club selection. This is her debut novel, though Jeffers has published five poetry collections, including The Age of Phillis, which won the 2020 NAACP Image Award and was longlisted for the National Book Award.

Winfrey said: "I was enraptured by the story of this modern Black family, and how author Honorée Fanonne Jeffers interweaves the larger fabric of historical trauma with that family's ancestral tale--of tragedy, triumph, and also of the legacy of hidden abuse. But this is Ailey's story, too, and through her we are offered new learnings about colorism, aspiration, the role of matriarchy, and what it is to be a woman who's 'not to be trifled with.' She's a heroine for the ages." 

"I first encountered the beauty, brilliance, and empathy of Ms. Oprah Winfrey from afar, by watching her talk show on my television in the 1980's," Jeffers said (via the AP). "She made me believe that so many great things were possible for a young, African American woman like me. That I could do anything if I just set my hands, mind, and spirit to the task. As a creative writer, it was my secret dream that I would one day write a book that this 'phenomenal woman'--to quote from the great poet, Dr. Maya Angelou--would read, enjoy, and present to the members of her book club.”

Winfrey's interview with Jeffers will air September 24 on Apple TV+.

Napa Bookmine's Bookseller 'Mother-Son Handoff'

Posted on Facebook by Napa Bookmine, Napa, Calif.: "Mother-Son handoff! Sam had his last day with us this past Saturday (we will miss you Sam!)... but we are so excited to welcome his mother, Jess, to the Bookmine team! We just love when longtime customers become official members of our team. Say hi to Jess if you see her in the shop!" 

Underground Books: 'Greetings from the Underworld'

Josh Niesse and Megan Bell, owners of Underground Books in Carrollton, Ga., posted a video of their basement-level bookstore that has gone "kinda viral" on TikTok, with more than 155,000 views and 38,000 likes.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Anna Lembke on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Dr. Anna Lembke, author of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton, $28, 9781524746728).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Roger Bennett, author of Reborn in the USA: An Englishman's Love Letter to His Chosen Home (‎Dey Street, $27.99, 9780062958693).

Movies: Oblivion Song

Jake Gyllenhaal will produce and star in Oblivion Song, a film based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici. Deadline reported that Gyllenhaal is producing with Riva Marker via his Nine Stories, along with Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst of Skybound Entertainment; and Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer of New Republic Pictures, who optioned film rights to the graphic novels.

"We're thrilled to partner with New Republic and Skybound on Robert Kirkman's mind-blowingly captivating series," Marker said. "When faced with a cataclysmic event that permanently alters our lives, what would we choose to save? Just as Kirkman did with The Walking Dead and Invincible, in Oblivion Song, he's created the potential for a franchise that is profoundly entertaining, and the perfect opportunity to explore big questions we're reckoning with globally."

Oliver and Fischer called Oblivion Song "a rare combination of spectacle, originality, and masterful, multivolume storytelling, which is basically everything we love in the world."

Books & Authors

Awards: German Book Prize Longlist

Twenty titles have nominated for the €25,000 (about $29,360) 2021 German Book Prize and can be seen here.

As noted by Börsenblatt, jury speaker Knut Cordsen, culture editor of Bavarian Radio, said that 230 titles had been submitted, the most in the history of the prize. "A quarter of the titles were fiction debuts, a wide bouquet of new literary voices. The jury is happy to have a longlist selection that values the storytelling experiment as much as the realistic novel, the satirical and the surreal. These 20 books consider origin and history just as much as central questions of the present."

The shortlist will be announced September 21, and the winner will be announced at a ceremony on October 18 on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Reading with... Shin Yu Pai

photo: Daniel Carrillo

Shin Yu Pai is the author of 11 books, including Aux Arcs, Adamantine, Sightings and Equivalence. Last year, Entre Rios Books published Ensō, a 20-year survey of her work across creative disciplines. From 2015 to 2017, she served as the Poet Laureate for the City of Redmond, Wash. Her poetry films have screened at Northwest Film Forum and the Zebra Poetry Festival in Berlin. She lives and works on the unceded ancestral lands of the Duwamish people, also known as Seattle. Her newest poetry book is Virga (Empty Bowl Press).

On your nightstand now:

After the Atlanta shootings, a friend recommended Ornamentalism: A Feminist Theory for the Yellow Woman by Anne Anlin Cheng, which has helped me to form a more complex understanding of how Asian women have been depicted in the racial imagination and how that image, combined with racist histories, contributes to ongoing dehumanization and fetishization of Asian women. I'm also reading The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons: A Seventeenth-Century Novel, translated by Kristin Ingrid Fryklund, and Divine, Demonic, and Disordered: Women Without Men in Song Dynasty China by Hsiao-wen Cheng. I ordered these last two after reading Tsultrim Allione's book on feeding, or working with one's demons, a practice that traces itself back to the female tantric master Machig Labdrön.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson for the illustrations and the similarities I thought I saw to Winnie the Pooh.

Your top five authors:

Michael Ondaatje, Jhumpa Lahiri, Arthur Sze, Xiao Hong and Wang Anyi.

Book you've faked reading:

Ezra Pound is a paragon of modernist verse and his ABC of Reading is important to many poets and writers of my generation, particularly those who went through the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It was never assigned reading and somehow I avoided reading it all these years.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A year ago, I read the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, while I was waiting for the arrival of his novel Edinburgh at my local library. It's a fabulous memoir in essays that spans Chee's experiences as a tarot card reader, AIDS activist, rose whisperer and rising author, and dives deeply into questions of writing.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Art of the Japanese Postcard, a book that was also an exhibition that I got to see at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I love mail and postcards, and this book also inspired me to collect postcards from Taiwan that were designed and printed during Japanese colonial occupation.

Book you hid from your parents:

Judy Blume's Forever, because we never talked about sex.

Book that changed your life:

A man that I was in love with gave me a copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke during a difficult time in my adolescence. It asked the fundamental questions of an artist and her commitments to art and artful living. To encounter it as I was leaving the safety of my childhood home and family of origin provided me with a foundation of thinking about how I could prioritize a commitment to art as a way of life.

Favorite line from a book:

" 'A wave is born from deep conditions of the ocean,' she said. 'A person is born from deep conditions of the world. A person pokes up from the world and rolls along like a wave, until it is time to sink down again. Up, down. Person, wave.' " --from Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being

Five books you'll never part with:

Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje came to me at a moment in my life when I was thinking about the idea of what remains, what is permanent, what legacies, which histories endure as conveyed through stone and monuments.

Everything Sings by Denis Woods is an incredible book on mapping the local in unexpected and imaginative ways.

Moon in a Dew Drop by Dogen--I still have my copy from an undergraduate religion class I took with M. David Eckel in 1996.

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu translated by Jane Hirshfield, which was introduced to me by Boston poet Deborah Bennett.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche because we all need a manual that guides us through grieving.

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

Michael Ondaatje's Warlight. He writes incredible child narrators who grow and evolve into adults over the course of a book. His protagonists arrive at coming to terms with childhood memories to re-order their lives, to recover what was lost. Ondaatje's ability to describe esoteric professions is also something to behold--I know of no other book that describes greyhound smuggling in such vivid detail.

Book Review

Children's Review: Daughter of the Deep

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, $19.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 10-14, 9781368077927, October 5, 2021)

Rick Riordan combines his knowledge and passion for the ocean with his love of Captain Nemo's story in this action-packed, exhilarating, Jules Verne-inspired sea adventure.

Harding-Pencroft Academy (HP) is a five-year high school in Southern California that produces the world's best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators and underwater explorers. It's the permanent home of 14-year-old Bundeli Indian American Ana Dakkar and her older brother, Dev, whose parents died on a scientific expedition two years ago. Ana is on the way to her end-of-year trials, an at-sea challenge that proves freshmen can survive the academy's rigid requirements, when HP is attacked--150 people, including Dev, and an aquarium of marine animals all gone instantly. Suddenly, the trials don't seem so important anymore.

The 20 remaining HP students are informed by their professor that their rival high school, Land Institute (LI), launched the preemptive strike. For the past 150 years, the two schools have been locked in a covert battle over scientific advances (called alt-tech) created by the thought-to-be-fictional Captain Nemo, from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Ana, who learns she's a descendent of Nemo, is suddenly thrust into leading a race against LI to the "mother lode of alt-tech," a secret base that holds Nemo's most advanced technology and artifacts. With the help of her crew, Ana must safeguard her ancestor's legacy before it falls into the wrong hands.

Through Ana's story, Riordan explores the concept of good versus bad, including how a person or thing can be labeled as both depending on who's doing the labeling. While HP views Captain Nemo as a genius submarine captain, LI thinks he was a raging madman outlaw. Nemo's tech led to cancer treatments, but it also led to the Cold War arms race. Riordan ties this idea into a discussion about how absolute power can corrupt people, particularly governments and corporations. One example he gives is how multinational corporations would exploit food sources if they realized the potential of sea-plant products. These more serious discussions, along with the inclusion of marine biology and AI concepts, are balanced by unexpected twists, heart-pounding action and vivid language that includes gems like: "My anger... like a worn-out sleep shirt... keeps falling away, stretching into an amorphous mass of grief and shock."

In Daughter of the Deep, Riordan has taken what he calls a "slow going" classic story and made it fast paced and contemporarily relevant. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: In this action-packed Jules Verne-inspired sea adventure, 14-year-old Ana Dakkar, a descendent of Captain Nemo, must protect her ancestor's legacy before it falls into the wrong hands. 

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