Also published on this date: Monday, December 6, 2021: Maximum Shelf: Easy Beauty

Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 6, 2021

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

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

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

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


Lansing, Mich., First-Ever Book Crawl a 'Crazy Success'

Book Crawl participants at Deadtime Stories.

On Saturday, six bookstores in Lansing, Mich., held the first-ever Lansing Book Crawl, Fox47 News reported. Part of the impetus for the event was the opening of several bookstores in the last year, creating what locals are calling Bookshop Row.

Nyshell Lawrence, owner of Socialight Society, told the station that foot traffic was "amazing," with some customers showing up at the store before the 11 a.m. Book Crawl starting time. And Dylan Rogers, co-owner of the Robin Books, "saw upwards of 500 visitors during the event," which he called "a crazy success." Other participating stores were A Novel Concept, Deadtime Stories, Summit Comics and Games and Wayfaring Booksellers.

Participants collected pins at the stores allowing them to receive limited-edition tote bags featuring the participating stores.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

International Update: 2021 'Bookshop Heroes' in U.K. & Ireland; B.C. Floods Hamper Book Supply Chain

The 2021 class of the Bookseller's Bookshop Heroes includes 23 of the best individual booksellers in the U.K. and Ireland. Launched last year with the Booksellers Association, the honor recognizes "shop-floor talent at a time when it most needed recognizing. The 2021 list comes after another year of retailers having to deal with coronavirus-related restrictions, as well as supply chain issues," the Bookseller wrote. See the complete list of Bookshop Heroes here.

"We're delighted to see the launch of the second annual Bookshop Heroes celebration, and particularly happy that it's taking place when shops are open and trading," said Meryl Halls, director of the BA, which noted that there were more indie shops in the U.K .and Ireland at the end of 2020 than at the start. "As we head into the key trading period for retailers, it's really exciting to be shining a light on the great job that bookshops do on their high streets and in their communities.... It's been said many times, but the fortitude, resilience and good cheer exhibited by bookshop owners and frontline booksellers through the pandemic--at a time when they were often uncertain, exhausted and frightened themselves--has been inspiring to watch, and this year's heroes are exemplars of an incredible group of people. I'm proud to be among them, and feel that bookselling is in excellent hands as we push forward into another challenging year in 2022. We should raise a glass to them all."

The Bookseller's managing editor Tom Tivnan added: "Forget the pandemic, or whatever the prevailing economic conditions are, opening a shop at any time is a daunting prospect that requires a blend of passion, innovation, specialist knowledge and more than a bit of courage." 


Raincoast Books warehouse

In Canada, the recent floods in British Columbia "have disrupted the cross-country transportation of goods and further highlighted the fragility of the book supply chain," Quill & Quire reported.

Wholesaler and distributor Raincoast Books "had more books on shelves this year than any other fall that executive v-p Peter MacDougall can remember, but the flow of orders was disrupted on November 15 when B.C. was hit by an atmospheric river that caused mudslides that wiped out highways and bridges and forced entire towns to evacuate," Q&Q wrote.

After the highways opened up over November 27-28, orders began to move out gradually. MacDougall said retailers are now reporting that books from Raincoast are arriving, adding: "What's really challenging, and will be the biggest challenge between now and the holiday, which is not a big window, is the breakout titles that you're not prepared for." 

The situation could have been worse, but existing slowdowns in the supply chain this year had sparked booksellers to place their orders earlier and order in larger quantities than they would in a typical year. "We started communicating this to our retail partners in the Canadian bookselling industry at all levels in the summer, and quite loudly at that," MacDougall said. 

Jessica Walker, managing partner of Munro's Books in Victoria, said they made use of overstock space in the store, which is located in a former bank building. "We were kind of prepared in that we had extra stock. The big thing was the uncertainty of the last few weeks, and trying to find orders that had been shipped two weeks ago."

Ultimately, however, the impact of the recent flooding on communities has far greater ramifications than the slowed movement of books. "We often say that there's no such thing as a book emergency, which can feel a little bit hollow when you're in the midst of a book emergency, but it's the truth," MacDougall noted. "It is just getting books to shelves. There are much more pressing issues here at hand than getting the last of our holiday shipments out."


The 2022 Taipei International Book Exhibition will feature French literature and take place in two venues from June 2-7, after being canceled for two years due to the pandemic, Taiwan News reported. TIBE will be held at World Trade Center Hall 1 and Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te said the government will subsidize publishers' exhibiting fees by up to 70%, adding that Covid-19 has hit the publishing business hard, and he wants to see the event take place. The 30th edition of the fair is co-curated by Bureau Francais de Taipei, Bureau International de l'Edition Francaise, and Librairie le Pigeonnie. --Robert Gray

Teacher Created Materials Buys Free Spirit Publishing

Teacher Created Materials, Huntington Beach, Calif., has purchased Free Spirit Publishing, Minneapolis, Minn.

Founded by Judy Galbraith, a former educator, Free Spirit Publishing has aimed to provide children and teens as well as the adults who care for and about them with the tools they need to think for themselves, overcome challenges, and make a difference in the world. Galbraith commented: "Nearly 40 years ago I identified a need for accessible, contemporary books that would help young people develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I am proud of the award-winning products Free Spirit has published. I feel I have found a kindred spirit in Teacher Created Materials and am excited to see that the Free Spirit vision will endure and grow."

Rachelle Cracchiolo, founder & CEO of Teacher Created Materials, said, "Free Spirit has created an important product line focused on social emotional learning, early childhood education, and professional resources all of which complement products and services from Teacher Created Materials."

Free Spirit will continue operations at its Minneapolis location. Teacher Created Material plans to maintain the Free Spirit brand while merging the editorial, sales and marketing, and operations teams over the coming months.

Founded in 1977, Teacher Created Materials develops educational materials and services for students worldwide, materials and products created by teachers for teachers and students to make teaching more effective and learning more fun, the company said.

Obituary Note: Charlie Conrad

Charlie Conrad

Charlie Conrad, an editor with wide-ranging taste and an eye for backlist, died on November 21 from complications of ALS. He was 61.

As remembered by colleagues at Penguin Random House, he "began his decades-long editorial career at NAL and Warner Books, when mass market publishing was flourishing. A firm believer in the power of backlist, he skillfully landed paperback rights to such high-profile juggernauts as The Hot Zone, Under the Tuscan Sun and Into the Wild, but also cleverly reissued out-of-print titles like Catch Me if You Can before they became blockbusters. Even today, his knack for spotting backlist bestsellers with multiple lives remains relevant. He edited The Last Duel, a recent major motion picture, and The Terminal Spy, the basis for a just-announced HBO series. Conrad had a keen and wide-ranging editorial eye for acquisitions, whether it was an unlikely bestseller such as Dr. Mütter's Marvels or spotting an acclaimed novel such as The Forgiven (also headed for the big screen)."

During his career, he worked at Doubleday, Broadway, Crown and Penguin.

A memorial service will be held in the spring of 2022.  Donations in Conrad's memory can be made to the scholarship established in his name through the Montclair Scholarship Fund.


Image of the Day: Source Booksellers' Survive to Thrive Grant

Janet Jones (l.) of Source Booksellers in Detroit, Mich., showed the store's new expansion to Pam French, executive director of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc). Source Booksellers is one of 115 stores that received funds from Strive to Thrive, the one-time special initiative--with funding from Ingram Charities and Ingram Content Group, along with many other donors--to help stores go from surviving the pandemic to thriving.

Good Morning America Features [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J.

On Friday, Good Morning America's Buzz Pick segment focused on [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., featuring owners Ellen and Jonah Zimiles, who talked briefly about the store's origins: with a son with autism, they thought it "very important to have a program where people with autism can learn how to work." For GMA's Buzz Pick, [word] chose Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart (Random House), about "a group of unlikely friends who spends six months waiting out the pandemic in a country estate in the Hudson Valley," during which "hilarious drama unfolds." Host George Stephanopolous finished: "If you're in the New Jersey area, be sure to check out [words] Bookstore. Looks like a really great place."

Holiday Spirit: Let's Play Books

"The shop was so full of joy today!" Let's Play Books in Emmaus, Pa., shared on Instagram: "Thanks to the Emmaus Main Street Partners for a wonderful Cheers Trail & Old Fashioned Christmas celebration. It was a pleasure to see so many faces, and we so appreciated the cookies, coffee & cocktails dropped off by friends. We are truly fortunate."

Personnel Changes at Catapult, Counterpoint, Soft Skull Press; Chronicle

Alisha Gorder has been promoted to publicity manager at Catapult, Counterpoint, and Soft Skull Press.


At Chronicle Books:

Elizabeth Anderson has joined the company as associate director of marketing for Chronicle Prism.

Bridget Cooke has joined the company as national specialty sales assistant.

Melissa Silva has joined the company as indie specialty sales assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Anne Helen Petersen, Charlie Warzel on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel, authors of Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home (Knopf, $27, 9780593320099).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Michael J. Fox, author of No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250265630).

Ellen: Chrissy Teigen, author of Cravings: All Together: Recipes to Love (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9780593135426). She will also appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Rapper/Songwriter Harlow Says Harry Potter Books 'Stoked His Competitive Side'

While accepting the award for Variety's Hitmaker of Tomorrow, rapper and songwriter Jack Harlow explained how a reading program "stoked his competitive side, and how he's been a voracious reader since he was a little kid. That combination, along with a little Harry Potter, made him the artist he is today," Variety reported. 

"When I was in the second grade, I went to an elementary school that had a competitive program," Harlow said. "You could read a book and then take a quiz on that book, and if you passed the quiz, indicating you had really read the book, you would get awarded a certain amount of points. The bigger, more challenging the book, the more points you earned. I read every book I could find. I read all the Harry Potter books. Boy, those Harry Potter books are worth some points."

Books & Authors

Awards: Harriet Tubman Winner; Jane Addams Children's Finalists

Vincent Brown has won the 2021 Harriet Tubman Prize for his book Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap/Harvard University Press). The $7,500 prize is sponsored by the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and honors "the best nonfiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery in the Atlantic World."

The jury said the winning title presents "a shockingly novel view of an iconic slave rebellion, Tacky's Revolt, which he persuasively fashions as an African war against both Atlantic enslavement and the British Empire.

"Drawing on a colonial archive comprised of travel narratives, Royal African Company records, slave traders' ledgers, Board of Trade Records, Admiralty Court Records, diaries, correspondence, administrative sources, and contemporary histories, Brown composes a thick description of African political histories, trade and naval routes, European imperial conflicts, the plantation regime, sugar cultivation, inaccessible mountains, public roads, and secret footpaths that symbiotically comprise the Atlantic world.

"Simply put, Brown's spatial reconstruction of the landscape and seascape is brilliant. It affords the reader a level of political and social contextualization that truly advances Atlantic history and the study of the African diaspora. The reader discerns how military conflicts and experience in Africa are redeployed in the Americas, thereby positioning enslaved insurgents as enemy combatants and political actors. This shift in optics is engendered by Brown's nuanced delineation of the Atlantic and the plantation regime as a theater of war. Brown's interpretive work, sustained by detailed readings and excavation from the source material, is truly remarkable. The reader is privy to the re-assembling of an eighteenth-century world that seems stunningly vivid, palpable and real."


The Jane Addams Peace Association has announced finalists for the 2022 Jane Addams Children's Book Award, which honors "children's books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people." Winners and honor books will be announced January 14. See the full list of finalists here.

Book Review

Review: Red Thread of Fate

Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler (Berkley, $17 paperback, 352p., 9780593198742, February 8, 2022)

Lyn Liao Butler (The Tiger Mom's Tale) offers secrets, tragedy, hope and redemption in a novel centered on family and forgiveness. When Red Thread of Fate opens, Tam is on the phone with Tony, her husband. They are a bit short with each other; the marriage has been a little off, but they're generally headed back on track and preparing to adopt a little boy from China, which both look forward to. Then there is cursing, a roaring sound--and just like that, Tam is a widow. The shocks come quickly, one after another: Tony was not in Manhattan, where he should have been, but in Flushing, Queens, and accompanied by a cousin Tam thought he'd been estranged from for years, killed by the same truck that struck Tony. Then Tam is surprised to be named guardian of the estranged cousin's five-year-old daughter, even as her son-to-be still awaits adoption in China.

Tam, the California-born daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, and Tony, an immigrant from China, negotiated an uneasy peace with their families and their new lives in New York City, and with each other. Upon her own immigration, Tony's cousin Mia lived with the couple for nearly two years, before unspecified events broke up the happy household. Now Tam is left to untangle the mysteries of Tony's life, which seem to multiply the more she learns; Mia's history is even more enigmatic, but Tam is committed to parenting her orphaned niece. She carries a guilty secret of her own, too.

By nature a shy and private woman, Tam is prompted by her new life--widowed, a single parent, grieving--to accept help, against her instincts. Slowly, she builds a family and a community: taking in her niece, moving toward adoption (which must be renegotiated now that she does not have a husband), deepening friendships and finding new ones, even beginning to mend relations with her mother. This process also involves navigating cultural nuances and divided loyalties. By the time Tony's secrets come fully to light, Tam is a changed woman, with new strengths and allegiances, and better equipped to meet her many challenges.

Red Thread of Fate is a novel about what ties people to one another, and the nature of those bonds, the unintended consequences of choices and the possibility of a fresh start. With contemplative characters, surprising humor and a twisting plot, Butler's thought-provoking story of nontraditional family models will appeal to readers interested in fate and identity. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Amid grief, betrayal and exposed secrets, a new widow learns to forge unexpected bonds.

Deeper Understanding

Panel Discussion: Friends, Siblings, Partners-in-Crime

The Grande Odalisque by Jerome Mulot, Florent Ruppert and Bastien Vives (Fantagraphics, $24.99, 9781683964025)
If you've recently become absorbed in the scandalous corners of the art world exposed in Netflix documentaries This Is a Robbery or Made You Look, The Grande Odalisque is a graphic novel you'll want to pick up. Alongside its fine linework, Odalisque's stark and unusual color palettes evoke the style of fellow French cartoonist Moebius. But while Moebius's subject matter is the fantastic and extra-Earthly, Mulot, Ruppert and Vives stay firmly situated on this planet while still pushing every human limit on its surface.

Odalisque moves at an almost compulsive pace as it tracks the international crime sprees of best friends Carole and Alex, with the addition of newcomer Sam. Like Charlie's Angels, this group of young women are well trained in combat, stunts and acrobatics. While art heists are their primary trade, their lifestyle leads them into every sort of danger. Their ruthlessness, contrasted with the echoey backdrops of the most hallowed museums of Europe, is what makes Odalisque so compelling, but it's the friendships of these women that makes both their crimes and the novel so successful.
How to Handsell: Recommended for art history lovers, crime novel fans, Francophiles, and anyone who wants to see a trio of professional criminals kick butt indiscriminately.

Piero by Edmond Baudoin, translated by Matt Madden (New York Review Comics, $17.95, 9781681372969)
Originally published in 1998, Piero is the first English translation of the work of French writer and artist Edmond Baudoin. It was reissued in 2018 by New York Review Comics, an imprint of New York Review Books, known for introducing out-of-print and oft-forgotten backlist gems to a devoted base of readers.

Described by translator Matt Madden as an "ink-stained Proust," Edmond Baudoin has an astonishing talent that clearly distinguishes him as one of the masters of graphic storytelling. The incredible economy of Baudoin's style is apparent within the first couple pages; readers will find that amid his minimalistic lines and scribbles, his spare and descriptive dialogue, Baudoin manages to tell an incredibly imaginative and humane story about the creativity of children and the joys of childhood companionship. Piero is simple but never condescending. It's tender but not at all saccharine. It is a wise meditation not only on the fleeting nature of youth, but also on craft: "At what point do lines, marks, scratches stop being grass, rocks, a tree, branches.... And why, if you try too hard, do you end up killing the sense of life?" Baudoin asks. Piero is a top contender for my favorite book of the year.
How to Handsell: Told through the idiom of childhood creativity and adventures, Piero is a graphic novel for fans of translated literature and anyone who has experienced childhood.

The Contradictions by Sophie Yanow (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95, 9781770464070)
"I'd always been too nervous for risky behavior... too wishy-washy to stick it to the man," explains Sophie, a student who has come from the United States to Paris to study abroad. Lugging around her copy of The Dharma Bums, Sophie is looking for a Kerouac-esque adventure of her own. Despite her milquetoast tendencies, she gravitates to Zena, a queer self-described anarchist who insists on shoplifting wherever they go out together.

Zena and Sophie hitchhike and take trains to various European cities. Once there, they explore them on the back of borrowed or stolen bikes. They take drugs together and stage debates (well, Zena talks and Sophie listens warily). Their adventures are picturesque, but what is interesting about The Contradictions is that it becomes clear that their friendship is actually a kind of alliance designed to make an unfamiliar place less intimidating. The fear of being alone that defines one's early 20s inspires a lot of ill-suited friendships, which Yanow explores to awkward effect as the characters struggle to agree on how to spend their time in cities they might never see again. Translation errors abound, and Yanow depicts them cleverly through empty dialogue boxes exchanged by smiling faces.
How to Handsell: For readers who enjoy travelogues, coming-of-age fiction, or a mix of the two in the style of The Dud Avocado.

I Feel Love, edited by Julian Hanshaw and Krent Able (SelfMadeHero, $22.99, 9781910593851)
A teenage swamp monster, a fan-fiction-obsessed mother, a pregnant woman growing branches out of her hands, and naked, crime-fighting goat women--I Feel Love features stories about the many ways that love disfigures and makes mutants out of otherwise normal people. This anthology of underground comics edited by Krent Able and Julian Hanshaw offers six stories, all drawn with drastically different styles. The one quality they share is that they are twisted, with varying levels of Cronenberg-inspired gore and camp.

Kelsey Wroten's "The Anchor" is illustrated in an elevated children's-book style, with colors exploding from the page. Ben Marra's story is drawn in classic comic book style, with painstaking stippling and shading. Julian Hanshaw illustrates with striking colors and close attention to facial expressions. I Feel Love is a clever and provocative collection for readers who enjoy a little filth.
How to Handsell: For mature readers, this is a fun and transgressive anthology that features six artists' interpretations of a single concept: what love can do to the human body. --Emma Levy

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