Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 7, 2021

William Morrow & Company: Death of the Author by Nnedi Okorafor

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Running Press: Enter For a Chance to Win a Moonlit Explorer Pack!

Quill Tree Books: The Firelight Apprentice by Bree Paulsen


MIT Press Bookstore Opens in New Location Today

Closed to the public since the spring of 2020 because of the pandemic, the MIT Press Bookstore will reopen today in its new location, in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass. The new location is part of the reimagined MIT Kendall Gateway, which will include the MIT Museum, a café and other tenants.

With a larger space than in its old location, the bookstore stocks books and journals published by the MIT Press, as well as academic and general-interest titles by other publishers in related fields.

The store also includes a children's space that emphasizes STEAM books for kids of all ages, including board books, picture books, chapter books, and books for a young adult audience. The new MIT Kids Press and MITeen Press titles (a joint venture with Candlewick Press) is also prominently featured, along with Institute branded merchandise.

Clarissa Murphy, manager of the MIT Press Bookstore, said, "This move has been many years in planning, and we are thrilled to finally be opening our doors once again. We cannot wait to see our long-time patrons and meet our new community here in Kendall. The store has been empty for too long, and our staff is ready to be handselling our books once again."

Amy Brand, MIT Press director and publisher, said, "As a part of the MIT Kendall Gateway, the bookstore will help provide a warm welcome to the Institute and surrounding community for all of its many visitors from around the world."

Zest Books: The Gender Binary Is a Big Lie: Infinite Identities around the World by Lee Wind

Pearl's Books Opening Soon in Fayetteville, Ark.

Pearl's Books, the independent bookstore that Leah and Daniel Jordan are opening in downtown Fayetteville, Ark., is nearing completion and should open this fall, according to the Fayetteville Flyer. Renovations on the space have been underway, and both custom-built shelving and shelving from Nightbird Books, which closed early last year, has been installed. The Jordans had first announced plans in May.

The pair said that the pandemic led them "to start thinking more about their priorities, and taking more seriously some of their longtime dreams," as the paper put it.

Opening a bookstore "had been in the back of our mind for a while," Leah said. "From March 2020 on, I started thinking about it more often, and hinting about it more, joking 'Wouldn't it be cool if.' This January, Daniel said 'What if we did just open a bookstore?' I was immediately on board."

Named after a late family dog, Pearl's Books will feature new works of fiction, nonfiction, children's books and more. "We'll be kind of a general interest bookshop, not necessarily a specialty shop," Daniel said.

The new store plans to host author talks, book signings, release parties and other events. The Jordans also plan to serve beer and wine and snacks.

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore Reorganizes Events & Marketing Department

In a similar way to its recent reorganization of the buying department, the events & marketing department at Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., is reorganizing. Co-owner and events & marketing director Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo is stepping back from an operational role in events, and Ben Hoffman, formerly offsite sales manager, is now department manager for events, marketing and special projects.

In addition, Jean Yoon, who has experience in independent bookstores, publishing and conferences, is joining Greenlight as events coordinator.

Chelsea Carr, formerly Greenlight's events assistant, is now the marketing coordinator.

Emily Newman, formerly a Greenlight bookseller, is now the marketing & design assistant.

Stockton-Bagnulo commented: "I'm so excited to pass the torch of this department to Ben, Jean, Chelsea, and Emily, whose fresh perspectives, skills and energy will take Greenlight's well-established events program and our community relationships into the future."

Alex Baker: Exceptional Design And Creative Services For The Publishing Industry

Ci9: Planning In-Store Operations for the Holidays


Booksellers convened at Ci9 last Tuesday for a roundtable discussion on planning for the holidays. Here are some takeaways from the session:

Several booksellers said their biggest concern for the holidays was the prospect of burnout for themselves and their staff. Some suggestions to combat this included staying off e-mail and trying to unplug when not working, getting together with staff to "air grievances" or have a "b*tch session," and sharing positive experiences among co-workers through platforms like Slack. And in situations where staff members have to serve as concierges to make sure customers are wearing masks, they should be able to rotate to the back frequently.

On the topic of ordering early for the holidays, many booksellers said they were doing so already, and not just books but gift wrapping, gift cards, cash register tape, boxes and more. Buyers should ask their staff "what books they want to make sure we have," and order those now. Asked about how to communicate supply-chain issues to customers, it was suggested to be "very upfront about it." Some booksellers have already been talking about holiday issues this summer and encouraging customers to shop early.

The roundtable participants noted that there is always some major holiday book that comes out of nowhere, and while it can be frustrating to not be prepared for it, it is more or less impossible to predict. Sometimes these rushes are set off by lesser-known titles appearing on best-of-the-year lists, and unless media outlets start to release those earlier, there's not much that can be done about it. IOU cards can be helpful when ordered books won't arrive in time for Christmas.

The discussion turned to the way publishers are encouraging booksellers to get ahead of potential disruptions by buying more and more books. Jenny Cohen, co-owner of Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Ore., said that if publishers tell her to buy more, they "can't blame me for returning them." She added that she is concerned about the flow of books--she's spending a lot more and ordering heavily for the fall, and her "worst fear" is her credit drying up at the busiest time of the year.

"Make sure to take care of yourselves," recommended Luis Correa of Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga. "It's going to be hard."

Obituary Note: Stephen Vizinczey

Stephen Vizinczey

Hungarian-Canadian novelist and critic Stephen Vizinczey, who "was a distinguished member of the diaspora that fled Hungary after the revolution of 1956" and, as the author of In Praise of Older Women (1965), "also belonged to the select band of writers who invent a book title that becomes familiar to millions who will never read the book," died August 18, the Guardian reported. He was 88.

Vizinczey's life and work "were informed by his first two and a half decades in Hungary, which left him fearless and ready to take on all comers," the Guardian wrote. After his escape, he arrived in Canada with "no more than 50 words of English and no money, but gradually picked up the language and found backers for a new magazine in Montreal, Exchange, featuring unpublished Canadian writers, among them the young Leonard Cohen." When the magazine folded, he moved to Toronto and eventually married Gloria Harron, a program organizer at the CBC, with whom he went to London in 1966 to promote his first novel, In Praise of Older Women.

"It became a key book of the '60s, a bestseller in France, and a Penguin Modern Classic in 2010," the Guardian wrote. Vizinczey produced two more novels, An Innocent Millionaire (1983) and If Only (2016), "meticulously working to make them as perfect as possible, writing and rewriting over five decades.... No one wrote more keenly about the mean abuse of power or the cruelty of the rich. To these are here added fantastical elements in the spirit of Swift and Mark Twain." 

Vizinczey also wrote regularly for the Times in the late '60s and early '70s, and later for the Sunday Telegraph. His reviews and essays are gathered in two collections, The Rules of Chaos (1969) and Truth and Lies in Literature (1986), which "are both timeless and very much of their time," the Guardian noted, adding that he "measured all modern writing--and his own--against what he called 'the Company of the Dead,' who never failed to inspire him.... He spent his last years revisiting the Company, watching French films of the '50s, keeping watch over the slowly failing Gloria and blogging with new, young readers about the masterpieces he never tired of: King Lear, The Idiot, Candide. Above all, he never ceased to grieve over what he saw as the infantilization and hypersensitivity of the modern world."


Kan.'s Raven Bookstore Marks Move with Week of Celebrations

Starting today, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., is holding a week of grand-opening celebrations to commemorate its move to a new location. The events include:

  • an in-person appearance tonight by Sarah Smarsh, whose She Come by It Natural has just come out in paperback, at the Cider Gallery (event is sold out).
  • a virtual event tomorrow featuring Paula Hawkins, author of A Slow Fire Burning (presented with Mystery to Me, Skylark Bookshop, Rakestraw Books, Excelsior Bay Books and Valley Bookseller).
  • another virtual event tomorrow featuring William Kent Krueger, whose latest book is Lightning Strike.
  • a Poetry in the Park reading Friday evening featuring Tai Amri, Melissa Fite Johnson, Huascar Medina and Raven owner Danny Caine.

Bookshop on Parade: Three Stories Books

Posted on Facebook by Three Stories Books & More, Lemont, Ill.: "Did you see us in the Lemont Keepataw Day Parade??! A million thanks to Mr Mabel/Three Stories who willingly and happily spent our anniversary constructing our float and waving to the community in the back of a pick up. Marriage is an adventure, right? And more thanks to Noelle, Tim and Finn Plotke... making Three Stories look better than we ever could alone. *balloons courtesy of the talented Kim and Co. Events Lemont cute as ever."

Chalkboard: Nicola's Books

"You otter be reading" was the clever message on the sandwich chalkboard at Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., which noted: "Would you look at that? Jessie created an adorable new chalkboard! If we put this design on a kids tshirt would you buy one?"

Book Trailer of the Day: Listen

Listen by Gabi Snyder and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hayley Mills on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Hayley Mills, author of Forever Young: A Memoir (Grand Central, $30, 9781538704196).

Today Show: Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country: A Memoir (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385547215).

The Talk: Yvonne Orji, author of Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams (Worthy Books, $26, 9781546012672).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Chris Wallace, co-author of Countdown bin Laden: The Untold Story of the 247-Day Hunt to Bring the Mastermind of 9/11 to Justice (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982176525).

TV: John Birmingham's Axis of Time Trilogy

Australian writer/director Luke Sparke (Occupation) has optioned the rights to John Birmingham's World War II alternate history book trilogy Axis of Time via his Sparke Films company and will write the adaptation. Deadline reported that the series, which will feature all three books (Weapons of Choice, Designated Targets, Final Impact), is a collaboration between Sparke and co-writer Jay Thames, who appeared in Sons of Anarchy

"I am stoked to see Luke and his crew turn this favorite, much loved story into something new and madly exciting," said Birmingham. "His Occupation films are enormous fun and his plans to blast Weapons of Choice onto the screen promise even more. More fun, more action, more head-spinning concepts and adventures. I've always had a movie of this series running somewhere in my head and reading his script, seeing the artwork, it was like it suddenly exploded all around me."

Sparke added: "When I read John's Weapons of Choice on its release back in 2004, I knew immediately it would make an amazing TV series. That book and the subsequent trilogy became my Catcher in the Rye. When I reached out to John with my ideas, I got to work developing the first season. Five years later, we have a series that is extremely relevant and timely with everything going on in the world. There's never been a better time to look back on our history and see how far we have come, let alone throwing our current culture 80 years back in time and see the two worlds collide. This series is very dear to my heart and will be developed for the screen with loving care."

Books & Authors

Awards: McIlvanney Scottish Crime Finalists

A shortlist has been released for Bloody Scotland's £1,000 (about $1,385) McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The winners of both the McIlvanney Prize and the Scottish Crime Debut of the Year will be named September 17. This year's finalists are:

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie
The Coffin Maker's Garden by Stuart MacBride
Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison
The April Dead by Alan Parks
Hyde by Craig Russell

Book Review

Review: I'm Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream

I'm Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream by Richard Antoine White (Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 256p., 9781250269645, October 5, 2021)

Richard Antoine White's memoir I'm Possible: A Story of Survival, a Tuba, and the Small Miracle of a Big Dream begins onstage, with a professional orchestra performance facing "the plumage of red seats," then flashes back to the narrator's childhood, homeless on the streets of the Sandtown neighborhood in Baltimore, Md. The tension between these two scenes outlines his story. White is the first African American to earn a doctorate of music in tuba performance; his family and community background has included addiction, violence, poverty, instability and racism. In his prologue, he sets the upbeat tone he'll hold throughout this memoir. "I want you to read this story and feel like you are a superhero," he writes. "I am possible. You are possible. Everything is possible."

White recounts how he survived his mother's addiction, childhood homelessness, unforgiving Baltimore winters and much more. He was lucky to find family in more senses than the biological, and lucky to find the trumpet (in fourth grade) and, later, the tuba. He journey takes him from Sandtown to the suburbs to the Baltimore School for the Arts, then to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins, graduate school at Indiana University and eventually the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. He enjoys strong friendships and excellent mentorships, and becomes a hard worker. Music is an escape, "a light going on in the dark. Like seeing a star for the first time."

White writes passionately about his studies and relationships, his tone disarmingly direct, with flashes of lyric brilliance: "The look on her face was flint and it struck against the steel in me and sparked." I'm Possible is both a life story and a series of character sketches; White conveys his love for his biological mother and then for the couple who raised him, whom he calls Mom and Dad, and his many friends, mentors and students shine as well. (Look for a cameo by "a skinny upperclassman with a raspy voice named Tupac Shakur, who schooled me.") White's message is tirelessly uplifting: he is no genius, he insists, "although I do possess a profound belief in what is possible and a deep gratitude for how I came to be here," and he reliably credits those who helped him along the way.

This is a story of perseverance, hard work and a little luck; of love of music and the importance of community and both built and biological families. White also comments throughout on the role of racism in his experience and in that of so many in the United States. His casual, earnest storytelling style beautifully suits this moving narrative, and admirably achieves a tone that is stirring but not saccharine. Readers will find his account touching and inspirational. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: After a childhood homelessness and few options, the narrator of this rousing memoir becomes a professional orchestra musician and an inspiration.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Verity by Colleen Hoover
2. Forever Thrown (Forever Bluegrass Book 16) by Kathleen Brooks
3. Just Friends (Blue Beech Book 6) by Charity Ferrell
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. The Bone Scroll by Elizabeth Hunter
6. Unsung Requiem (The Ghost Bird Series Book 13) by C.L. Stone
7. Bending Reality by Victoria Song
8. Industry Influencer by Glenn Vo
9. Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas
10. Tactical Takeover (Brotherhood Protectors Colorado Book 4) by Elle James

[Many thanks to!]

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