Also published on this date: Monday, October 18, 2021: Maximum Shelf: Vladimir

Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 18, 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


Theodore's Books Coming to Oyster Bay, Long Island

Next month, former congressman and author Steve Israel will open Theodore's Books in his hometown of Oyster Bay, N.Y. The 1,538-square-foot bookstore will sell general-interest titles for all ages, with a focus on history and current events. Oyster Bay, located on the north shore of Long Island, is the site of Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt's home from 1885 until his death in 1919. 

While in Congress, Israel kept a Theodore Roosevelt library featuring books by and about him, and he's excited at the prospect of offering those sorts of titles at Theodore's. Oyster Bay was also an important location for George Washington's spy network, and Israel will draw on that facet of local history as well. At the same time, Theodore's will offer all sorts of titles one would expect from any independent bookstore, as well as a selection of nonbook items.

"My refuge as a member of Congress was local bookstores," Israel said, explaining that he's wanted a bookstore of his own even before he became a congressman. When he traveled the country, in fact, his staff had standing instructions to find the closest independent bookstore, no matter where he happened to be. "That's where I was able to seek comfort from the pressures of politics."

Israel reported that while he left Congress in 2017 with the intention of opening a store, things "weren't optimal," for the first few years. Vacancies were high, foot traffic was low, and although he's never expected to make a huge profit with a bookstore, he didn't want to "hemorrhage money."

In the years since, however, Oyster Bay's downtown has undergone a "renaissance" of sorts. There is "tremendous foot traffic," with some 70,000 tourists visiting each year, and the downtown now has "all sorts of amenities." There are new boutiques, shops and  restaurants, but the one thing that was missing was an independent bookstore.

For years, Oyster Bay residents went to the much-loved indie Book Revue, located some five miles away in Huntington. Book Revue, however, lost its lease earlier this year, leaving Oyster Bay readers without easy access to an indie bookstore. He added that Oyster Bay is a diverse and affluent area, and the community has a "need to read." Book Revue's closure, he said, was part of a "convergence of circumstances" that told him to "move forward quickly."

Getting the store ready has "moved much faster than the U.S. Congress moves," Israel remarked. The storefront he found already had 80% of its shelving in place and in general the build-out has "not been insurmountable." He's hired Peggy Zieran as general manager; she was once the manager of a Borders on Long Island and also co-owned and managed Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, and with the cooperation of the former owner he's hired some of the top booksellers from Book Revue. At present the team includes Zieran, two full-time booksellers and a handful of part-time booksellers.

"A lot of this has been open hands from the universe," Israel said.

Israel is planning an opening weekend celebration starting November 18, and while he didn't commit to details, he said it would likely operate like an open house, with different authors and historians in-store at various times. Beyond that, Theodore's has plans for a robust series of book and author events, with Israel noting that "there's hardly any Republican or Democratic figure that I can't bring to our store," and one of the store's first major events will be an appearance by author Nelson DeMille. Given the size of the store, Israel and Zieran are looking to partner with local restaurants and other institutions to host their book talks.

Israel said he's been "overwhelmed" by the community's response to the store, and the team has a "very good challenge right now," which is stopping eager people from entering a construction site. The store's website isn't up and running yet, but people are already signing up to receive store e-mails.

"I used to fly on Air Force One with the president," he said. Now he's "crawling around a basement" doing construction work--and that's been "more gratifying." --Alex Mutter

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

Bookstore Sales Up 60.1% in August, Up 39.5% Year to Date

In August, bookstore sales jumped 60.1%, to $1.23 billion, compared to August 2020, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. Last August was the fifth full month that reflected severe measures taken in the U.S. to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which included widespread lockdowns. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, sales this August rose 9.7% in relation to August 2019.

For the year to date, bookstore sales are up 39.5%, to $5.6 billion.

Total retail sales in August rose 15.7%, to $631 billion. So far this year, total retail sales have risen 21.1%, to $4.8 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

International Update: Irish Book Week Underway, Hong Kong Bookshop Closes

Bookselling Ireland and Publishing Ireland are "asking people to shop with their local store either in-person, over the phone or online" during Irish Book Week, which is running as a hybrid event across the country through October 23, the Bookseller reported.

In addition to author events, displays, giveaways and other festivities being held during Irish Book Week, Children's Books Ireland, funded by the Arts Council, "has chosen 10 Irish children's illustrators and paired them with their local bookshops to design and paint a bookshop window in their own style." The illustrators involved include Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hodges Figgis, Dublin), Linda Fahrlin (Liber, Sligo), Tarsila Krüse and P.J. Lynch (Halfway Up the Stairs, Greystones).

Aoife Roantree, chair of Bookselling Ireland, said: "Irish Book Week celebrates the wealth of home-grown talent in Ireland, and the importance of supporting great Irish writing, publishing and illustrating in great Irish bookshops, where passionate and expert booksellers can help you find your next favorite book."

Bookselling Ireland is also inviting people to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #IrishBookWeek and post about their favorite Irish books, authors and bookshops throughout Irish Book Week.


Customers filled the store on Bleak House's final day.

Hong Kong's Bleak House Books, which had announced in August it would be closing October 15, did so Friday. The indie English-language store, which sold new and used books, was founded in 2017 by Albert Wan and Jenny Smith. Wan chronicled the shop's final day on social media, including:

"This is opening one last time. A view seldom seen. Our glass door closed. Snoopy standing sentry. Wishing everyone a good Friday."

"Conundrum. 23 minutes to 7. Closing for the day and for good. Staff dinner reservations. But more readers were coming than going. Media camped out. What is a lowly bookseller to do? Idea: I'll send an SOS to the world...."

"A photo finish, like it or not.... From day one I have always been impressed by the media folks in Hong Kong. Professionals in every sense of the word. They have helped us tell our story with respect and empathy and we must do the same for them. Period. Full stop."

"When things get especially crazy or heavy at the bookshop, Angel, our wonderful shop manager, will sometimes say to me: 'I didn't sign up for this!' Most of the time I will simply tell her to get on with it, because it's not like I signed up for any of this either.... Thank you for being my conscience and my occasional foil when I needed one most. I am stronger, wiser, and more compassionate because of you. We are in uncharted territory for sure. But I'm thankful you are here to help me navigate those waters. Boss, is so very proud of you. And you should be proud too of what you have accomplished."


Congratulations to Canadian bookseller McNally Robinson, which is celebrating the company's 40th birthday and the 25th anniversary of the opening of its flagship Grant Park location in Winnipeg. McNally Robinson also has stores at the Forks in Winnipeg and in Saskatoon. CBC News noted that it has been "nine years since a former entry-level employee worked his way up to buying the business."

"We are celebrating 40 years of reading," co-owner Chris Hall said on CBC Manitoba's Weekend Morning Show recently. Although he wasn't there in 1981 when when Paul and Holly McNally, along with Ron Robinson, opened the first location in Winnipeg, Hall did start out as a bookseller at the Grant Park Shopping Centre location when it opened to the public in 1996 with "a Margaret Atwood appearance.... So I was there on Day 1."

As Hall took on more responsibilities over the years, he also became close with the McNally family. "We were talking about me taking on a bigger role as they were thinking about retiring. And so I started taking business courses at the Asper School [of Business at the University of Manitoba]," he said. "In my mind, I thought I was going to become kind of like a CEO of the place and there would be the owners. But a couple of years later, Paul [McNally] came to me and wondered if I would be interested in buying into the place, because they were going to retire later."

He accepted the challenge: "I couldn't imagine where else I wanted to be," Hall said. "I think of it as there's a magic to it, because none of those pieces is enough in itself.... It really is the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And that's the magic of McNally Robinson, I think." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Eddie Jaku

Holocaust survivor and author Eddie Jaku died October 12 at age 101. Born Abraham Jakubowicz to a Jewish family in Leipzig, Germany, Jaku emigrated to Australia in 1950, where he lived for the rest of his life. His memoir, The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor, was published in May of this year (in the U.S. by Harper) and became an international bestseller.

Jaku was expelled from school in 1933 for being Jewish. He earned an engineering degree in a different city under an alias, which later spared him from the gas chambers to work as a slave laborer. Most of his family and friends did not survive the Holocaust. Jaku was sent to his first concentration camp after Kristallnacht in 1938. He was in Auschwitz near the end of the war and forced into a death march away from oncoming Soviet troops. Jaku escaped and spent months in hiding until discovered by Allied troops.

Jaku was a longtime volunteer at the Sydney Jewish Museum, where he shared his story and prisoner number tattoo with visitors. In a 2019 speech, he said "I do not hate anyone. Hate is a disease which may destroy your enemy, but will also destroy you."

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


Happy 5th Birthday, White Whale Bookstore!

Congratulations to White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa., which celebrated its fifth anniversary by expanding into a neighboring storefront in its building, doubling its space. The expanded store opened last Friday, October 15.

The new White Whale has two new storefront signs, new artwork (new window art and a new mural in the kids' section), more  fixtures and seating, with a new coffee shop on the way. The store celebrated with sales, raffles and new merchandise. (See a preview of the new space by clicking on this video from Pittsburgh Now.)

Jill and Adlai Yeomans bought the East End Book Exchange in 2016 and relaunched it as White Whale Bookstore in October of that year. Yesterday, they posted on Facebook, in part: "The past two days kinda blew our minds a bit. We've been working toward this expansion for a long time now, but we couldn't predict what it would feel like to actually be in this bigger space. And it feels... legit! And awesome. And totally overwhelming. Like we almost started crying several times just taking it all in. But in a good way? So clearly we're still feeling a bit inarticulate and scrambled, but we just wanted to take a moment to say, you know, we appreciate you! Five years ago we bought all the books we could afford with the ten grand we'd saved for a house; we closed for two weeks and, with our parents, hauled all the books down to the basement so the painters could get in there, and then hauled them all back up afterward; and we had two tables and one very part-time employee--shout-out to Young Drew!--and we didn't have any publisher accounts and didn't know how to get them and didn't even have a business plan and yet... here we are. We did it. Are doing it. With you. And it feels pretty damn great."

Cool Idea of the Day: Indie Bookstore Fashion Show


"The time has come for the first ever Indie Bookstore Fashion Show." This call to all indie booksellers went out on social media Friday from Rosa Hernandez of Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash., and Rachael Conrad of Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine.

Between October 15 and November 15, they "want YOU to show off your creative chops by putting together a fantastic outfit made from material found in your store.... That means anything from bubble wrap to bookmarks can be used for the final product. Post your pictures with the hashtag #bookstoresmakeitfashion or e-mail them to Rosa [] and Rachael [] to share your looks with the community." 

Bookseller Moment: Parnassus Books 

"Sunday is a great day to browse the shelves and take home some new reads," Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., posted on Facebook yesterday. "Hopefully this view from the cookbook nook/nonfiction corner gets you inspired. We’re open noon to 6 p.m. today! [ID: A long view of the nonfiction shelves at Parnassus Books, looking back toward the back of the store.]"

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

At Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing:

Alissa Nigro has been promoted to senior marketing manager from marketing manager.

Karen Masnica has been promoted to senior marketing manager from marketing manager.

Jill Hacking has been promoted to manager, marketing operations and events, from assistant manager, marketing operations and events.

Brian Murray has been promoted to marketing coordinator from marketing assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Adam Schiff, Nick Offerman on Colbert's Late Show

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Joanne Molinaro, author of The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma's Kitchen (Avery, $35, 9780593084274).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Adam Schiff, author of Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could (Random House, $30, 9780593231524).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Dave Grohl, author of The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780063076099).

Good Morning America: Michael Wolff, author of Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Notorious, the Damned (Holt, $29.99, 9781250147622).

Also on GMA: Andrew Morton, author of Meghan and the Unmasking of the Monarchy: A Hollywood Princess (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781538747339).

The View: Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks--Super Easy!: 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More (Morrow, $29.99, 9780062962768).

Also on the View: Nick Offerman, author of Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside (Dutton, $28, 9781101984697). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Kelly Clarkson Show: Ron Howard and Clint Howard, authors of The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family (Morrow, $28.99, 9780063065246).

TV: The Sandman

Gwendoline Christie "looks devilish in the first look at her character" in the upcoming Netflix series The Sandman, based on the comic book series by Neil Gaiman, Deadline reported. During last Saturday's virtual DC FanDome event, "viewers got a glimpse at the Game of Thrones alum as the series' Lucifer, the ruler of Hell. The first look images see Christie donning dark attire and a pair of ominous-looking wings."

Christie will star in the project with Tom Sturridge as Dream/Morpheus and a cast that includes Boyd Holbrook, Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Jenna Coleman, Stephen Fry, Patton Oswalt, Joely Richardson, Asim Chaudhry, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Allan Heinberg is the show runner and an executive producer. Also on the project as exec producers and co-writers with Heinberg are David S. Goyer and Gaiman. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television

Books & Authors

Awards: Gordon Burn Winner; T.S. Eliot Shortlist

Hanif Abdurraqib won the 2021 Gordon Burn Prize, which honors literature that is "fearless in both ambition and execution" and "dazzlingly bold and forward-thinking," for his essay collection A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House). He receives £5,000 (about $6,805) and a writing retreat at Gordon Burn's cottage in the Scottish Borders. 

Judge Denise Mina praised the book's "verve and style, taking unexpected turns and focus to illuminate the artistic experience of Black culture in America" and said it "is simultaneously a joyous celebration and a crushing reproach."

Fellow judge Sian Cain said A Little Devil in America was "as uplifting, devastating, informative and profound a work of nonfiction as I can remember reading.... If a group of readers was looking for a graceful word on Blackness, on music, on comedy, on dance, on performance, on maleness, on joy, on despair, on beauty, they could all be handed a copy of Abdurraqib's book and find it. I hope this win means more people pick it up and come to appreciate what a wonderful work of cultural criticism and memoir it is."


The T.S. Eliot Foundation released the shortlist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize, honoring "the best new collection of poetry published in the U.K. or Ireland." The winning poet receives £25,000 (about $34,020) and the shortlisted poets each get £1,500 (about $2,040). This year's shortlisted titles are:

All the Names Given by Raymond Antrobus

A Blood Condition by Kayo Chingonyi 
Men Who Feed Pigeons by Selima Hill

Eat or We Both Starve by Victoria Kennefick

The Kids by Hannah Lowe

Ransom by Michael Symmons Roberts

single window by Daniel Sluman

C+nto & Othered Poems by Joelle Taylor

A Year in the New Life by Jack Underwood

Stones by Kevin Young

Book Review

Review: The Teller of Secrets

The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon (HarperVia, $26.99 hardcover, 352p., 9780063088948, November 16, 2021)

The Teller of Secrets by West African writer Bisi Adjapon is a historically and culturally vibrant coming-of-age drama narrated by Esi Agyekum, a spirited young woman born in Lagos shortly after Nigeria's independence from Britain in 1960. As a child, Esi and her brother were taken from their Nigerian mother and brought to the town of Kumawu in Ghana by their father.

Esi is a delightfully gregarious narrator, using sight and sound to describe her experiences vividly. The story opens with nine-year-old Esi eager to shed her restrictive cocoon and emerge with wings to claim her place in the world. Life in Ghana with her strict father, aloof stepmother and older stepsisters is difficult and lonely. Vague memories of her mother's weeping face haunt Esi, although it will take many years to solve the mystery of her mother's glaring absence from her childhood.

While her sisters meet secretly with boys, and her father has affairs with other women, it is Esi who guards their hidden lives, unaware that one day she, too, will be forced to conceal important parts of herself from her family. Intelligent and ambitious, she is the apple of her father's eye and the only one of her siblings who is university-bound. Esi's father is the headmaster of Kumawu's only secondary school, a man of principle and honor at work and a physically abusive patriarch at home.

Scenes from Esi's all-girls boarding school show a teenager brimming with sexual energy and enjoying the special romantic unions formed between older and younger students. Love blossoms for sexually adventurous Esi in various quarters, and she goes on to date a fellow college student, Randolph. What Esi thinks is an engagement to Randolph turns out to be a fully fledged marriage ceremony at her father's house. 

Adjapon's characters--from Esi's domineering father and rebellious stepsisters to the maternal relatives who try to shield Esi from the truth about her mother--experience a pendulum of emotions, from immense joy to terrible sadness. Their interactions with each other and with Esi illustrate the skewed gender dynamics that plague the narrator, as she rejects cultural norms that diminish her worth.

The sweeping arc of Adjapon's densely absorbing drama includes a fresh interpretation of post-colonial West African political dysfunction and military overreach from a young woman's perspective, her physical and intellectual emancipation at its simmering center. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: A university student with a strong feminist sensibility and a fearless approach to sexual freedom narrates this lively West African coming-of-age drama.

Powered by: Xtenit