Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

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

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Our Best Books of 2021

Little did any of us know what this year would bring. These 10 fiction and 10 nonfiction adult titles helped the team at Shelf Awareness reflect, sustain, find some bright spots and some literary companions during the strange and unpredictable year that was 2021. (See our reviews here; our Best Children's and YA Books of 2021 are here.)

Bewilderment by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton)
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (One World)
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott (Dutton)
One Two Three by Laurie Frankel (Holt)
Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead)
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (Ballantine)
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad (Knopf)
The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine (Grove Press)

Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, edited by Bryant Terry (4 Color)
The Everybody Ensemble: Donkeys, Essays, and Other Pandemoniums by Amy Leach (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Little, Brown)
Image Control: Art, Fascism, and the Right to Resist by Patrick Nathan (Counterpoint)
Learning in Public: Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter's School by Courtney E. Martin (Little, Brown)
Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water by Kazim Ali (Milkweed)
Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson (Crown)
Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome (Mariner)
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel (Mariner)
Three Simple Lines: A Writer's Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku by Natalie Goldberg (New World Library)

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Athena Books Opening in Greenwich, Conn.

Athena Books in progress.

Athena Books will open in early December at 228 Sound Beach Avenue in Greenwich, Conn. The Free Press reported that "for a decade, residents have mourned the loss of their last independent bookstore in Old Greenwich, Just Books on Arcadia, which closed in 2011."

"During Covid, we were going to bookstores all the time. It was one of the only things we could do," said Jennifer Bird, co-owner of Athena Books with her husband, Odysseas Kostas. "I think during the pandemic, people really enjoyed the physical feel of a book as opposed to reading on devices.... We went to one bookstore, and I turned to Odysseas and suggested opening a bookstore in Old Greenwich."

Bird runs a legal search firm with partners and Kostas is a doctor who served the community for many years before moving into finance several years ago. "Odysseas said he had always wanted to work in a bookstore," Bird noted.

She contacted a commercial realtor and learned that 228 Sound Beach Avenue had become available. "The space is beautiful and has enough room for events and gatherings," Bird continued. "The idea is to have both a bookstore and an evening gathering space for a variety of events. People can even host their book clubs there."

Regarding the store's name, she added: "My husband is Greek and we have two daughters. Athena is the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. She is a strong female figure, and we thought that it would be a great name for the bookstore.... We want Athena Books to be a gathering space for the entire community and a source of inspiration." The shop's logo, inspired by the olive tree in front of the Acropolis in Athens, "represents peace, friendship, growth and an inviting shelter for the community."

Bird and Kostas have been busy selecting books for adults and children. "We've had conversations with school media specialists and want to make sure to offer books that teachers recommend and children enjoy," she said, adding that they plan to create a teacher-librarian recommended section. They also plan to sell cards, notebooks and gifts. In anticipation of the opening, Athena Books launched a site

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Ventura's Bank of Books Looking to Expand to Santa Paula, Calif.

Bank of Books in Ventura

Debby Hensley Rudd and Clarey Rudd, owners of Bank of Books and Abednego Book Shoppe in Ventura, Calif., have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help them open a new Bank of Books location in Santa Paula, Calif. They are asking for a total of $17,000 and have so far raised just shy of $13,000.

During the pandemic, they explained, they've been inundated in used books, and for months now they've been looking for warehouse space. They've found a location at 820 E. Main Street in Santa Paula that will give them warehouse space in the basement as well as enough room on the main floor to open another Bank of Books, which sells both new and used titles.

The immediate need, the Rudds wrote, is "$14,000 to secure the lease." Any remaining funds will go toward moving expenses and set-up costs, new bookcases, office equipment, new signage and more inventory. In addition to the Santa Paula store being a "fully-stocked, multi-genre carrier of new and used books, there will be an emphasis on home schooling and children's events."

"We want to be an asset to Santa Paula and main street businesses," they wrote. "The place we found in Santa Paula is a win-win for all."

Mary Beech Named Chief Marketing & Transformation Officer at Scholastic

Mary Beech

Mary Beech has been named chief marketing & transformation officer at Scholastic, effective January 1, 2022. In this newly created position, she will, the company said, concentrate on "creating greater customer centricity, data-driven activations with a focus on digital, and connectivity throughout Scholastic to better serve educators, caregivers and children." With the change, she will resign from the Scholastic board, where she has been an independent director since 2018.

Beech most recently was CEO of Sarah Flint, a direct-to-consumer, luxury footwear brand for women. Earlier she was the principal of MRB Brand Consulting; executive v-p and chief marketing officer of Kate Spade New York; and held several management, marketing, licensing and brand management positions at the Walt Disney Company.

Scholastic CEO and president Peter Warwick commented: "Mary's new role is an important part of our larger strategy for Scholastic, leveraging our data and technology investments and transforming how cross-functional collaboration is executed at the company. During her tenure on the Scholastic board, Mary has brought insightful leadership and displayed a shared commitment to our mission of reaching every child through literacy. She is a passionate leader who has proven her marketing and transformational strength through her work with powerful brands such as Disney and Kate Spade."

Iole Lucchese, Scholastic chief strategy officer and chair of the board, said, "Building on the trust that young readers, teachers and parents have in the Scholastic brand, our opportunity today is to realize our mission in increasingly innovative ways that anticipate evolving market needs. In Mary, I saw an incredible talent of unleashing the power of a brand and directly connecting to customers."

Beech said: "From my experience as a board member, Scholastic has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to its mission and the strength of brand to span generations, and I'm energized by this opportunity to be part of a leadership team that I have come to know is so deeply rooted in children's publishing and education."

Obituary Note: Noah Gordon

Noah Gordon
(photo: Nacho Arias)

American author Noah Gordon, "who was virtually unknown at home but whose novels about history, medicine and Jewish identity transformed him into a literary luminary abroad," died November 22, the New York Times reported. He was 95. Gordon's debut novel, The Rabbi (1965), spent 26 weeks on the Times' bestseller list, but "most of his subsequent eight books fared less successfully when they were published domestically, although they have proliferated since as e-books."

Michael Gordon, his son and literary agent, said the author's books have sold about 25 million copies in 34 languages. His other works include The Physician (1986), "the first book in a dynastic trilogy that began in 11th-century Persia, continued during the American Civil War with Shaman (1992) and ended with a modern woman doctor dealing with the morality of abortion in Matters of Choice (1996)," the Times noted. 

Although it had an initial print run of only 10,000 copies in the U.S., The Physician eventually "sold some 10 million copies, including more than six million in Germany, where, in the 1990s, six of Mr. Gordon's novels were on bestseller lists simultaneously," the Times wrote. In 2013, The Physician was adapted into a German film, in English, starring Tom Payne, Stellan Skarsgard and Ben Kingsley. An award-winning musical based on the book is about to tour Spain.

"While Gordon has been published in 38 countries, Spain and Germany, where he is most popular, are two countries that grapple with a history of anti-Semitism," Andrew Silverstein wrote in the Forward this year. "While not all of Gordon's eight books have Jewish themes, most do, and his Jewishness is well known, which may play a role in his popularity in these two countries."

He won Spain's Silver Basque Prize for bestselling book in 1992 and 1995. His novels were also popular in Italy and Brazil. Shaman won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians as the best historical novel of 1991 and 1992. His last novel, The Winemaker, was published in 2012. 

"Each morning I go to my computer in anticipation of the emails I receive from readers in many countries," Gordon wrote on his website. "I am grateful to every reader, for enabling me to spend my life as a scribbler of tales."


'Cider Monday > Cyber Monday'

Since the first of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns hit in March 2020, indie booksellers have found themselves in a permanent state of Cyber Monday-to-Sunday, raising their online sales game to meet ever-altering challenges. So the "traditional version" of Cyber Monday yesterday may have seemed like business as usual.

Still celebrated by many bookshops, however, is Cider Monday, which was launched several years ago by Willard Williams, owner of Toadstool Bookshops, with stores in Keene, Peterborough and Nashua, N.H. 

The American Booksellers Association tweeted: "Let's hear it for #CiderMonday, a @theAMIBA project dreamed up by Willard Williams of @toadstoolbooks. This special holiday is the perfect antidote to Cyber Monday. Encourage customers to #ShopLocalNow so they can shop local forever!" Among yesterday's bookish cider aficionados: 

Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass.: "Happy Cider Monday! Sure, you could stay at home and browse deals on your computer…. OR you could come over our way for a cup of hot apple cider and some delicious cookies while you browse a thoughtful selection of books, toys and gifts! Today we celebrate shopping local and spending time together in our community. And apple cider, of course."

At Next Chapter Bookstore, Barre, Vt.

Village Square Booksellers, Bellows Falls, Vt.: "Cider and cider donuts all ready for Cider Monday at Village Square Booksellers. Let us do your 'cyber' work today." 

Main Street Books, Minot, N.Dak.: "Happy Cyber Monday (or Cider Monday, for those of us who don't conform to the big corporate vernacular)!! This whole week, get FREE SHIPPING on online orders over $75! Plus free hot cider and candy canes all day today!"

Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt.: "Does your 'cyber Monday' order come with free cider donuts and mulled cider from Cold Hollow Cider Mill? We didn't think so. Try on CIDER Monday for size and see how you like it here in the bookstore!"

Wheatberry Books, Chillicothe, Ohio: "Don't feel like you have to spend all day online today. Visit Wheatberry for our annual 'Cider Monday' celebration. Free cups of Hirsch Fruit Farm apple cider for everyone!"

Brace Books & More, Ponca City, Okla.: "Cyber Monday...? Oh, we thought you said CIDER Monday! Oh well, come by and check out our full line of ciders, teas and hot cocoas! Republic of Tea has a flavor for everyone.... We also have Aspen Mulling Spices!... Don't forget the chocolate lover with hot chocolate in every flavor!"

At Rough Draft, Kingston, N.Y.

Rough Draft Bar & Books, Kingston, N.Y.: "Cider Monday > Cyber Monday. Since we're all about those in-person sales, we're commemorating today with $1 off all cider--hard, mulled, draft, and cans. Open 8-8. (And if you are inclined to do some online shopping today, remember you can purchase virtual gift cards for many local businesses--including RD!--on their websites.)"

BookBar, Denver, Colo.: "Who needs a cyber Monday when you could have Cider Monday instead?! All day today at BookBar, our Summit Hard Ciders will be $2 off. Come by the store for drinks, holiday shopping, recommendations, and some relaxing on the patio. Cheers!"

Book Bin, Onley, Va.: "Take a break from all your online shopping this Cyber Monday and make it a CIDER Monday! 50% off delicious hot apple cider for today only!"

Image of the Day: The Kindness of Strangers

This past Sunday, the day after he celebrated 30 years as owner of Readers’ Books in Sonoma, Calif., Andy Weinberger read from The Kindness of Strangers (Prospect Park Books/Turner Publishing; April 2022), the second volume in his Amos Parisman mystery series.

Ingram Publisher Services to Handle Aperture Globally

Ingram Publisher Services will handle global sales and distribution for Aperture, effective January 1, 2022. IPS has handled sales and distribution in the U.S. and Canada for Aperture since 2016.

Founded in 1952 by photographers and writers as "common ground for the advancement of photography," Aperture is a multi-platform, non-profit publisher and center for the photo community.

Sarah Meister, Aperture's new executive director, commented: "On the eve of Aperture's 70th anniversary, we are giving renewed attention to our international reach. We have raised our profile and visibility in the U.K. and Europe over the past decade due to the work of the exceptional team at Thames & Hudson. They have been a great partner and distributor for us, and we deeply appreciate the role they have played in our history and development. However, as we contemplate the market challenges and opportunities ahead, and the importance of building direct relationships with our customers around the world, we are excited to expand our U.S. partnership with Ingram to an international one."

Personnel Changes at Parson Weems Publisher Services

Ryan O'Connor has joined Parson Weems Publisher Services, independent sales representatives in New England and the MidAtlantic, full time.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Graham Nash on CBS This Morning

NPR's the Takeaway: Kathleen Belew, co-editor of, and Jamelle Bouie, contributor to A Field Guide to White Supremacy (University of California Press, $24.95, 9780520382527).

CBS This Morning: Graham Nash, author of A Life in Focus: The Photography of Graham Nash (Insight Editions, $60, 9781647220549).

The Real: Andy Cohen, author of Glitter Every Day: 365 Quotes from Women I Love (Holt, $24, 9781250832399).

Drew Barrymore Show: Vanessa Lachey, co-author of Life from Scratch: Family Traditions That Start with You (HarperOne, $29.99, 9780063031760).

On Stage: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A stage adaptation of Deborah Moggach's novel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which inspired the 2011 film and 2015 sequel, will makes its stage debut next year, Playbill reported, adding that the production is directed by Lucy Bailey (Oleanna, Gaslight).  

Simon Friend Entertainment will present a U.K. tour of Moggach's adaptation, with performances beginning August 30, 2022, at the Richmond Theatre. Further dates in 2023, including a planned run in London's West End, will be announced later, as will casting for the tour.

Books & Authors

Awards: An Post Irish Book Winners

Maureen Gaffney, Séamas O'Reilly, Keith Earls, Fintan O'Toole and Donal Skehan were among the winners of the 2021 An Post Irish Book Awards, "showcasing a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across 20 categories--championing everything from novels and nonfiction to poetry, short stories and the Irish language." Sally Rooney won the Eason Novel of the Year for Beautiful World, Where Are You. Check out the complete list of winners here

Four categories were added to the initiative this year, including the An Post Bookshop of the Year, which is "designed to acknowledge the significant role played by independent bookshops and local book store chain branches right across the country in helping their local communities to find the titles of their choice, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic." The winner was Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway.

Irish writer Sebastian Barry is the recipient of this year's Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award. Readers will now vote for the overall An Post Irish Book of the Year, which will be announced December 8.

Book Review

Review: Love & Other Disasters

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly (Forever, $15.99 paperback, 384p., 9781538754849, January 18, 2022)

Anita Kelly's skillful character work, gentle humor and insightful relationship development are center stage in Love & Other Disasters. This queer romance is set on a cooking competition show and features two characters in their 20s, both vying for $100,000 and the chance to prove themselves. Recently divorced Dahlia Woodson is in debt and in a rut, so she quits the job and town she doesn't love for a chance to pursue her culinary dreams. London Parker is the first nonbinary contestant on Chef's Special and while they love cooking, they're hoping to use the prize money to launch a nonprofit for LGBTQ+ kids in their hometown of Nashville.

Kelly deftly balances the romance and individual character arcs and gives readers enough time with the cooking show to up the tension without allowing it to overshadow the romance. Dahlia's energetic and emotionally free personality complements London's steadier countenance, and Kelly insightfully highlights the way Dahlia and London admire and value their differences. Though they never compromise their own efforts, they support each other personally and professionally, their friendship growing on pace with their romance.

London was expecting the online harassment and negative coverage that comes as the show begins to air, but they are deeply affected by their father's refusal to use their correct pronouns after three years. They're proud to be a role model for other trans and nonbinary kids and adults, however, and take comfort in the supportive community they found online while they were sorting through their own identity.

The strong relationships London and Dahlia have with their siblings are a grounding force for them throughout the novel, especially as the looming threat of separation tests their relationship. London's privileged upbringing leads them to have unfair expectations of Dahlia, and both of them are afraid of getting attached when they could be kicked off the show in just a few days.

"...maybe she was simply a blank space, an empty canvas, atoms floating aimlessly across the landscape, each one trying to forget that foolish time she went to LA on a hope and a prayer, each one hopelessly trying to erase the memories of a person who wanted her to believe she could have it all."

Love & Other Disasters is by turns funny, sweet and hot, but Anita Kelly's emotional river runs deep--this romance will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A cooking competition heats up as two queer amateur chefs fall for each other in this deeply emotional yet buoyant romantic comedy about finding love and self.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Best Kept Secret by Skye Warren
2. Coral Holiday by Jan Moran
3. Midnight Days by Anna Zaires and Charmaine Pauls
4. The 5 Scientific Laws of Life & Leadership by Brett DiNovi and Paul Gavoni
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
6. Sexy Money by Maegan Brown
7. Beard in Hiding by Penny Reid
8. Ignite by Melanie Harlow
9. A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn
10. The Worst Best Friend by Nicole Snow

[Many thanks to!]

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