Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 15, 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

Quotation of the Day

'Good Children's Literature Is a Serious Business'

"Good children's literature is a serious business. Not serious as in boring or 'improving,' but serious in attention and ambition, serious about beauty and wonder, about engaging the brain but also the heart, about sadness and difficulty, but also about silliness and joy. Above all, it is serious about the legitimacy of a child's world--which is a world away from being child-ish.... 

"Good children's literature literally impresses upon a growing brain how the world--or word--is and can be. There is much great children's literature in English, both old and new. But we must ensure not only that it continues to be written but that it is available. We must take care not to devalue the seriousness of writing for children, because by doing so we risk devaluing and narrowing childhood too."

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


Grand Opening Set for Betty's Books in Webster Groves, Mo.

Betty's Books, "a unique specialty bookstore celebrating the dynamic world of comics, graphic novels and manga for all ages," will host a grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration October 23-24 at 10 Summit Avenue, in the Old Orchard Business District, Webster Groves, Mo. 

"The mission of Betty's Books is to provide our community and the St. Louis area with a fun and welcoming space to celebrate, learn about and share graphic books," said owner Betty Bayer. "We are committed to spreading the word that graphic books are for everyone, and that the combination of art + text has the power to enrich our lives. We love these books and we strive to apply values of inclusivity, family-friendliness and freshness to all elements of serving customers." 

Store manager Alex Arata added: "I've known Betty for years and used to nanny her children, so I definitely have a personal attachment to this whole endeavor--it really feels like we're all a family, as cheesy as that may sound!"

Manager Alex Arata (l,) and owner Betty Bayer.

Betty's Books features a mural by local artist Jayvn Solomon, a kids' playhouse area and a local creators feature section. She also plans to add a zine collection. 

"I'm thrilled to be opening a family-friendly, inclusive bookstore in my adopted hometown," Bayer noted. "I look forward to welcoming the community into the beautiful store space and sharing these wonderful books. We will carry a vast range of graphic literature, from popular titles such as Raina Telgemeier's reboot of the Baby-Sitters Club series to horror manga by Junji Ito to trade paperbacks published by Marvel, DC, Image, etc., to all the graphic novels we can get our hands on--new and backlist."

Bayer has a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Illinois and a master's in education from St. Louis University. She has worked at the St. Louis Public Library and has classroom teaching experience. She believes she has developed an ideal background to launch her bookstore.

"Betty has long been an enthusiastic and enterprising reader of all kinds of books," said Jennifer Buehler, professor of education at St. Louis University. "From her undergraduate days as a student of art history to her graduate studies in young adult literature, Betty has spent years developing an appreciation for the intersection of art + text. Now as a bookstore owner, she brings significant book knowledge, unique expertise, and genuine passion for spreading the love of reading."

For Sale: Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, La.

Danny Plaisance, the longtime owner of Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, La., has put his bookshop up for sale after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the Advocate reported. 

"I can't do both," he said, adding that he hopes to sell the bookstore, which offers new, used and rare titles, in the next two or three months. Some potential buyers have already stepped forward. "We had two people come by today," he said last week. "Both of them were very knowledgeable." If he can't sell the business, he may be forced to liquidate.

Plaisance bought Cottonwood Books in 1986 because he was dissatisfied with his job as a paper salesman. The business had opened in 1978 and originally was called Taliesen's. In 1982, after an ownership change, it was renamed Cottonwood Books.

The bookstore "has become an institution in the Perkins Road Overpass," the Advocate wrote. "Plaisance carved out a niche that includes used and rare books and an eclectic selection crammed into narrow aisles. Cottonwood offers bestsellers, but also has poetry, philosophy and Louisiana books. This selection has helped the store outlast some of the national bookstore chains that entered the market over the years ."

"I hope anybody who buys the bookstore is as interested in it as my wife and I were," Plaisance said.

International Update: Germany Reports Strong YTD Sales, IPA Adds Members

Printed book sales in Germany were up 3.9% across all channels in value for the nine months ending September 30, and 0.9% in units, according to figures from buchreport and Media Control. The Bookseller reported that "solid demand for printed books throughout the spring and summer supported by a strong list of new releases in the autumn is fuelling optimism for the festive season" in the country. 

Still of concern, however, "is the fact that market dynamics are still predominantly driven by online shops. Bricks-and-mortar booksellers continue to be under pressure because wary customers have been slower to return to the high street than expected after Covid restrictions were lifted for those who are either fully vaccinated or have recovered," the Bookseller wrote, adding that "booksellers have a lot of catching up to do" with sales for the year so far down 6.6% in value and an alarming 9.9% in units. 

The upcoming holiday season has brought a measure of optimism, though other obstacles are still emerging that have the potential to severely disrupt the supply chain, including the global shortage of paper pulp and elements of book manufacturing. "Fear is rising that disruptions in the book production process could dampen the industry's recovery process during the vital Christmas season," the Bookseller noted. 


During the International Publishers Association's recent virtual general assembly, a gathering of more than 100 members and guests, the recurring themes were solidarity, cooperation and dialogue. 

The IPA welcomed three new members: associate member European Educational Publishers Group (EEPG), and provisional members Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association (PPBA) and Sudanese Publishers Association (SPU). 
Becoming full members (a transition from provisional membership) were Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ), Ghana Publishers Association (GPA), Libyan Publishers Union (LPU) and Somali Publishers Association (SPA). 

IPA president Bodour Al Qasimi commented: "We are delighted to welcome three new members into the IPA and see four provisional members become full members and, as a result, increase their engagement in the international publishing community. These last 18 months have presented different challenges to many parts of our sector and these moments where we can come together, even virtually, are so powerful."


In the latest edition of a continuing series showcasing Australian bookshops, the Sydney Writers' Festival spoke with Amanda Shirley, owner of MacLean's Booksellers in Newcastle. Among the highlights of the q&a:

What purpose do you feel a bookshop serves in the community?  
A community bookshop is a safe place, somewhere you can go to lose yourself and escape just for a while, somewhere you can go to chat, discuss thoughts and world events or somewhere to meet a friend or browse while waiting for your takeaway.

What children's book do you think adults should read?
Anything out loud to a child. If any adult hasn't experienced the joy of sharing a story with a child, they are missing out on one of life's great joys. We read novels to our 10-year-old each night and it's his favourite time of the day.

Any advice on getting through lockdown?
Lockdown has brought many challenges. My advice would be to try and be understanding of each other, keep calm, smile, do your best and carry on. --Robert Gray

B&N College to Manage Valdosta State U. Campus Bookstore

Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., has selected Barnes & Noble College to manage all course materials and retail/online operations for the VSU Bookstore, effective October 10.

"We are excited to welcome Barnes & Noble College to our campus and look forward to working with them to enhance the bookstore experience for our faculty, students, and community," said Shannon McGee, associate v-p for finance and administration at VSU. "Barnes & Noble College has extensive expertise to support the university's overall mission through improved faculty resources and a focus on affordable course materials to ensure our students have what they need to be successful in the classroom and graduate."

Jonathan Shar, executive v-p of retail for B&N Education, commented: "We are very excited to partner with Valdosta State University as its new bookstore operator. We support VSU's mission of providing a comprehensive academic education and look forward to offering a wide range of academic solutions and a seamless retail experience that will help to drive success for students in the classroom and beyond."

Obituary Note: Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen, the bestselling author and three-time Newbery Honor-winner known for books such as Hatchet, Brian's Winter and The River, died suddenly on October 13. He was 82.

Over the course of his career, Paulsen wrote more than 200 books and scores of articles and short stories. Hatchet, published in 1986, was a Newbery Honor Book, as were Dogsong (1985) and The Winter Room (1989). In 1997 he received the ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award for his contributions to young adult literature, and his books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.

An avid reader from a young age, Paulsen also had a lifelong taste for adventure, which was reflected in his fiction. He was a passionate advocate for reading and for children's literature. He told children: "The most, most important thing is to read. Read all the time; read when they tell you not to read, what they tell you not to read, read with a flashlight under the covers, read on the bus, standing on a corner, waiting for a friend, in the dentist’s waiting room. Read every minute you can. Read like a wolf eats. Read."

Born in Minnesota in 1939, Paulsen ran away from home at the age of 14 to travel with a carnival. Over the years he worked as an engineer, a construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver and sailor, and while working as a satellite technician in California he realized that he wanted to be a writer.

He spent a year in Hollywood, working as a magazine proofreader by day and writing by night, before moving to northern Minnesota and renting a cabin on a lake. While he finished his first novel in short order, he soon became enamored of the sport of dog sled racing. Twice he raced the Iditarod, the annual dog sled race that covers 1,180 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, but gave the sport up in 1985 due to an injury.

"I started to focus on writing with the same energies and efforts that I was using with dogs," Paulsen said. "So we're talking eighteen-, nineteen-, twenty-hour days completely committed to work. Totally, viciously, obsessively committed to work, the way I'd run the dogs.... I still work that way, completely, all the time. I just work.... The end result is there are a lot of books out there."

Paulsen's most recent book was the memoir Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood. Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers will publish his final novel, Northwind, in January. He is survived by his wife and son.

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


Chalkboard: One More Page Books

"This week's reminder....," One More Page Books, Arlington, Va., tweeted, along with a pic of the shop's chalkboard sign message: "We are doing our best! Start your holiday shopping now! Please be patient and flexible. Supply chain? Broken. Popular books? Very hard to get. Delays will be the norm. We can suggest other amazing books. Try audiobooks from! Consider a surprise box or a subscription! We are only a small team of humans!"

Personnel Changes at Scribner

At Scribner:

Katie Monaghan has been promoted to deputy director of publicity and director of publicity and marketing for Stephen King.

Ashley Gilliam has been promoted to assistant director of marketing.

Clare Maurer has been promoted to senior publicist.

Michelle Chung has been promoted to associate publicist at Scribner and at the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephanie Land on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Stephanie Land, author of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive (Legacy Lit, $17.99, 9780316505093), the inspiration for the Netflix series.

TV: Misfit City

HBO Max has put into development Misfit City, a series adaptation of the BOOM! Studios graphic novel series created by Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith & Kurt Lustgarten, illustrated by Naomi Franquiz, Deadline reported. 

Hannah Hafey and Kaitlin Smith will serve as creators and executive producers for the series, alongside Smith and Lustgarten. BOOM! Studios' Stephen Christy, Ross Richie and Mark Ambrose will also executive produce with Mette Norkjaer co-executive producing.

Books & Authors

Awards: Laurel Nature & Ecopoetry Winner

Seán Hewitt has won the £5,000 (about $6,805) Laurel Prize for nature and ecopoetry for his collection Tongues of Fire, the Bookseller reported. The prize is funded by U.K. poet laureate Simon Armitage's honorarium, which he receives annually from the Queen, and is run by the Poetry School.

The £2,000 (about $2,720) second prize went to Ash Davida Jane for How to Live with Mammals and the £1,000 (about $1,360) third prize was given to Sean Borodale for Inmates. Will Burns's Country Music took the £500 (about $680) best first collection award.

In addition to prize money, each of the winners will receive a commission from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty organization to create a poem based on their favorite landscape.

Armitage described the winners as "a worldwide and world-class selection of books reflecting poetry's global response to the planet's precarious environmental situation."

Reading with... Timothy Morton

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University in Houston, Tex. They have collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Björk, Jennifer Walshe, Hrafnhildur Arnadottir, Sabrina Scott, Adam McKay, Olafur Eliasson, Pharrell Williams and Justin Guariglia. Morton co-wrote and appears in Living in the Future's Past, a 2018 film about global warming, with Jeff Bridges. They are the author of the libretto for the opera Time Time Time by Jennifer Walshe.

Morton has written numerous books and essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, music, art, architecture, design and food. In 2014, they gave the Wellek Lectures in Theory. Morton's new book is Spacecraft (Bloomsbury, September 23, 2021), an intergalactic journey through science fiction and speculative philosophy, revealing real-world political and ecological lessons along the way.

On your nightstand now:

Richard Prum, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World--and Us.

I'm not sure whether even the author knows how important this book is. One: beauty is hardwired into lifeforms, all the way down at least to beetles.

Two: 90% of the world around you, the flowers, the birds, the trees, are made out of female desire without a goal.

Three: This means that the appearance of the world is made out of queer desire.

I've been arguing this for a while just using the funny thoughts in my head. But this is actually proving it, using logic.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Frank Dickens and Ralph Steadman, Fly Away Peter.

A giraffe with a short neck and a bird who can't fly become friends and help each other. You can cry now.

We are all broken. To exist is to be broken. To be a lifeform is to be broken. To think is to be broken. We are one great big malfunction, and so is the rest of the universe. The quicker we can get over ourselves and feel some solidarity with all the other broken beings, the better.

An eye is always an artificial eye. Legs are always prosthetic legs. Your voice is always a synthesized voice.

If you write or type or pick up a phone, you are using a prosthetic device. You are never whole. Whole is a fake concept. So is natural. Nothing in the biosphere is natural.

Your top five authors:

Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Jacques Derrida.

I tend not to like "authors." I tend to like riffs, phrases, paragraphs, arguments, images.

But Austen and Woolf are the greatest realists of all time, and Austen invented realism. Smith invented goth. Derrida is... Derrida.

Austen, next to Shakespeare, right next, I feel. With a very, very simple technique, which I can teach you if you have about 15 minutes to spare, she siphons off some of your inner space and causes you to poof her characters into 3D. It's called realism, which has nothing to do with detailed descriptions of things in grocery stores. Realism has to do with the feeling of real. That's what Austen is about.

And she's about terrible, agonizing pain. She's not about people holding bone china cups with their little fingers poking out and doing embroidery. She's about women who can't have their own money until they marry, and they are in the lower gentry, so if they do a day of work, they're finished. Outcast. Austen is about patriarchy and class precarity. She's about sexual predators and terrible abuse.

She's about the inner kung fu. Ang Lee was right to direct Sense and Sensibility. In Austen's world, extreme violence can break out at any moment.

And since everyone knows the rules, you know when Elizabeth Bennet is telling awful people to go fuck themselves and never come back, and you know that the awful people know, too. And that there's not a thing they can do about it.

And she's definitely a Romantic author. Not just a romantic one, but a Romantic one, with a capital R. She's about the way your inner space transcends your social role. Mr. Darcy is super rich but he's also a messed-up, uptight guy who doesn't know how to tell anyone what he's really feeling.

Jane Austen makes me cry.

Virginia Woolf also. She doesn't just put you inside someone's head, she puts you inside lots of people's heads, all at once. And those people can include birds and furniture. I'm pretty much an animist, or a pantheist or whatever you want to call it. Woolf is the sound things make inside my head.

Listen to "Pictures of You" by the Cure while reading Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets, a collection of 108 poems that kickstarted the Romantic period. You'll see. That bass line, it keeps rocking back and forth in place, and so do Smith's sonnets. Sonnets usually mime thinking and thinking is about going from A to not-A. But Smith just stays on A. A is pain and grief and sorrow. It's the only place to be. It's beautiful down here.

And that goth feeling, that's also the science feeling, that feeling of weird and strange yet beautiful yet a little bit disgusting and painful yet beautiful yet strange. And that's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge). It's the science feeling, without needing to pay for a degree or differentiate with respect to x. Scientists should ditch the jeans and sneakers and come to work in thick black eyeliner. I'm serious.

My career has pretty much been about trying to help people feel like scientists. I think it could really benefit the biosphere.

Book you've faked reading:

I haven't. Cross my heart and hope to burst into flame in a terrible global warming incident.

Books you're an evangelist for:

The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Carefree Dignity, Tsoknyi Rinpoche  
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Tsoknyi Rinpoche is my meditation teacher. Darwin's book destroys biological racism totally. Milton shows you how to make revolutionary art and Woolf, see above.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Life on Earth, David Attenborough. It's that frog. I love that frog.

Book you hid from your parents:

Ulysses, James Joyce. Too sexy and kinky and amazing for them.

Book that changed your life:

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki. Would've had a bigger nervous breakdown at age 17 without it.

Favorite line from a book:

"The heaventree of stars, hung with humid, nightblue fruit" --James Joyce, Ulysses.

Two books you'll never part with:

UNESCO, SOS: Save the Earth  
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher

That UNESCO book is from 1972 and it's everything we know now, but in 1972.

Jeremy Fisher, I took that book everywhere. I love the liminal quality of the house full of water.

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

Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli, Synchronicity.

Book Review

Review: The Writer's Cats

The Writer's Cats by Muriel Barbery, trans. by Alison Anderson, illus. by Maria Guitart (Europa Editions, $16.95 hardcover, 80p., 9781609457167, November 9, 2021)

In 2008, French author Muriel Barbery burst onto the literary scene with The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a lyrical, richly imagined novel about a Parisian apartment building concierge and a precocious 12-year-old tenant. Both lead lives of quiet desperation. In the years since, Barbery has continued to deliver stories (A Strange Country) featuring her distinctive blend of gentle satire and magical realism, and continues to win global readership.

In The Writer's Cats, Barbery launches her most playful story yet, focusing on herself and unraveling the "mysterious, confounding" life of a writer. This short, frisky novel is told from the imagined perspective of one of her beloved cats, Kirin--named for the Japanese beer. The four-year-old "fatal beauty" is one of a quartet of Barbery's felines, who all believe they are her esteemed protectors and literary advisers. The tribe includes three other Chartreux cats, with gray fur and orange eyes, which pair perfectly with the décor of the author's Parisian home. This color scheme is further emphasized in whimsical illustrations and visual wit by Maria Guitart.

Kirin's endearing narrative voice encapsulates the story of the author's literary ascendancy and shares glimpses of her day-to-day life, while also touching upon Barbery's relationships with her husband, friends and confidantes. Kirin proclaims how the "writer would not be the writer she is" without the love, companionship and cleverly orchestrated and deployed deviousness of the cats. Every member of the four-legged crew aids and abets the author--who is an often exasperating, obsessive perfectionist--as she lives out a creative life riddled with restlessness, doubt and denial.

The cats are named in homage to the Japanophile in Barbery: eight-year-old Ocha is a lazy softie who purrs and meows like a kitten. This alpha cat is also a gourmand who would "kill for a mere crumb of paté." Ocha's petite sister, Mizu--loyal, yet territorial--was born with a physical anomaly that makes her look like an "inclined plane" in profile. Her gentle cunning casts a spell on the author. And Petrus, Kirin's amiable undaunted brother, loves flowers and "always looks on the bright side."

The distinct charms of the four cats--along with their tail-waving antics--work together to drive Barbery's writing life and ultimately dictate the direction of her literary pursuits. Creative types of all stripes--especially cat lovers--will be enchanted by Barbery's fun and delightfully philosophical storytelling. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: The philosophical whimsy of four cats cleverly influences the literary life of acclaimed French author Muriel Barbery.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Reader's Dilemma: To Resist, Finish, Adjourn or Abandon

That book has got to set its stall out in 20 pages. I used to be a stand-up. I couldn't walk out on a stage at the Comedy Store and go: 'Stick with me, I'll get funny in about ten minutes.' There has to be something within the first chapters that's got me interested or hooked or engaged or, really, what's the point?

--Author Mark Billingham, speaking recently at the Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

Mark Billingham

Billingham's "20-page rule" comments, which were also shared in the Guardian, struck a chord, as such opinions always do when the conversation turns to finishing or bailing out of books in the early chapters. He confessed to giving up on five out of every ten books he starts because "life's too short.... There are so many great books out there. Even more so with genre fiction. We're supposed to tell you a story and if that story isn't grabbing you--it may not be crash bang wallop in the plot, it may be a voice--then for God's sake throw it across the room angrily."

He also contrasted his reading patience with that of his wife, who even if she admits to not enjoying a book will persevere as if it were a "war of attrition."

The game, as they say, was afoot. In the Times, Hilary Rose noted that she was 35 before she reached the same conclusion as Billingham: "I don't think I'd go so far as to throw it across the room angrily, as he suggests, because even a bad book is still a book that someone else might enjoy, and worthy of respect."

But Rupert Hawksley wasn't at all pleased ("It's an insult to authors not to finish each and every book you start"), writing in the Independent: "The idea that we read simply to be entertained--as an easy form of escapism--seems to underpin all the arguments for giving up on a book: 'I couldn't get into it,' 'it didn't grip me,' 'too slow.' But entertainment, surely, isn't the only reason why people read--or indeed why authors write."

It's a long-running, unresolvable debate, a literary bloodsport.  

So, about those 20 pages. I can be an impatient reader in the early stages of any book, and I bail... a lot. But that's also a survival skill when new books and ARCS, print as well as digital, are flying at me like meteor storms.

Nancy Pearl

I guess I subscribe to librarian, author and action figure Nancy Pearl's "Revised 'Rule of 50.' " In 2011, she told the Globe & Mail she had originally developed her Rule of 50 on the spur of the moment:: "Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you're really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you're not, then put it down and look for another." It's a reader's version of Marie Kondo's "Sparking Joy" theory.

In her 50s and 60s, Pearl decided to update her rule: "I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger." This was her revision: "When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, 'Age has its privileges.' And the ultimate privilege of age, of course, is that when you turn 100, you are authorized (by the Rule of 50) to judge a book by its cover."

Currently I can bail out at 29 pages, but it's still complicated. These are my options:

Resist: I choose not to read almost every book in existence, strictly on a raw numbers basis.
Finish: Open book, read to "The End." Optional use of bookmarks (aka "quitter strips") to rest along the way.
Adjourn: So many books on my shelves are still bookmarked after years of neglect. I didn't abandon them; I just got... distracted. 
Abandon: I have (more often than I'd like to admit) simply closed the cover early and moved on. Ceremonially, the key moment is when the bookmark is removed, not moved.

A few years ago, James Colley wrote a Guardian piece in which he suggested that this book-finishing obsession at some point "becomes a calculation of ego. When a book is finished it becomes a trophy. When it's left half-finished it becomes an albatross.... But it doesn't have to be like this. There's a joy that comes from putting down a book that isn't working for you. It's a little expression of freedom and control."

He cautioned, however, that some books have to be read to the end: "If you are currently sitting in a forklift and the instruction manual just isn't quite grabbing you, I would still insist that you finish reading it."

So read any book you want to and bail when you have to. After all, nobody's watching. Except e-book providers. They always know the page where you stopped reading. 

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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