Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Tor Books: The Daughters' War (Blacktongue) by Christopher Buehlman


New Owners for Between the Covers, Telluride, Colo.

Daiva Chesonis and Bobbi T. Smith, co-owners of Between the Covers Bookstore in Telluride, Colo., have sold the 47-year-old bookstore to Jennifer and Brad Ball, the Telluride News reported. The couple also purchased High Alpine Coffee, the espresso bar located in Between the Covers, from Roxann Vistocci.

Smith and Chesonis, who have owned the store since 2010, handed over the keys on November 10. The Balls have already made some changes to the bookstore, including expanding the children's and classics sections and adding some new sidelines and gift items like scratch-off maps, candles and wool puppets. The store's coffee shop will soon have new insulated mugs with designs created by one of the baristas at Between the Covers.

They've also jumped right into hosting events. Local authors Susan Kees, Jill Wilson and Ryan Bonneau will be in-store this Wednesday to sign their books, and the Balls plan to host more author events and game nights going forward.

"Our whole family--five children and one son-in-law--are all book lovers," said Jennifer Ball, who had previous careers as a teacher and elementary school librarian. She told Telluride News that she has a passion for children's books and art and design books, while Brad Ball prefers classic literature and books about world history.

The couple began to visit Telluride after their twin sons moved to the area a few years ago. They were enamored, and thought "what better way to jump into the fabric of Telluride than through the bookstore," Ball remarked. "We combined our love of [the] outdoors with our love of books and with two of our children nearby and in a place where our other children will want to come visit, we feel so lucky."

Both are aware of how important Between the Covers is for the community, and they want to ensure that continues. "We see the bookstore-coffee shop as part of the soul of the community."

Looking back at her time running the store with Chesonis, Smith remarked that Between the Covers served as a "de facto visitors center" for Telluride. "Tourists and locals drop in to browse, grab a cup of coffee, ask for directions, and meet each other in a safe space. Everyone can leave with a book in hand without spending a bundle."

Chesonis said she was "so dang proud" of the job she and Smith did, and how they kept the legacy of store founder Edi Katz and the other previous owners alive. She added that her favorite overall memory was customers "appreciating the simplicity of a book, within which was a complex and rich history or a mere fantastical escape."

Chesonis and Smith are "each eyeing a calmer future post-sale," the Telluride News wrote.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Roswell Johnson Saves the World! (Roswell Johnson #1) by Chris Colfer

AAP: October Sales Jump 32.1%; Trade Sales Up 23.1%

Total net book sales in October in the U.S. rose 23.1%, to $1.44 billion, compared to October 2020, representing sales of 1,368 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. October 2020 was the sixth full month reflecting lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the year to date, total net sales rose 13.7%, to $13.1 billion.

Trade sales in October rose 23.1%, to $1.1 billion. Trade sales of printed books were mostly up in October: hardcovers rose 16%, to $592.2 million; paperbacks jumped 35.2%, to $326.2 million; mass market climbed 7%, to $21.1 million; and board books dropped 2.3%, to $26.4 million. E-book sales were down 12.3%, to $84 million.

Sales by category in October 2021 compared to October 2020:


Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Holiday Hum: Sales Building; Supply Chain Issues 'Manageable' So Far

At M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, S.C., the holiday shopping rush has started but it's "no longer predictable," reported co-owner June Wilcox. The store saw a stronger-than-usual Black Friday, but the rest of Thanksgiving weekend seemed closer to the store's traditional numbers. Co-owner Ashley Warlick added that M. Judson Booksellers is right in Greenville's downtown, in a landmark building, with the town's Christmas tree right outside the door. The location is ideal for attracting families and other visitors over the holidays.

Asked whether there have been significant supply-chain issues this holiday season, Warlick noted that the bookstore went into the season "better prepared" than usual. They stocked up on books projected to be big sellers and "ordered big" on sidelines back in September. The team has also gone into the season with "flexible expectations."

So far, the store's holiday bestsellers have included titles the staff loves, such as The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and How Iceland Changed the World: The Big History of a Small Island by Egill Bjarnason. While the store doesn't "always follow the trends," the team has still had to deal with some warehouse backlogs and delays with reprints. Warlick added: "I sure wish we could get some copies of The Storyteller [by Dave Grohl]."


Lesley Rains, manager of City of Asylum Bookstore in Pittsburgh, Pa., reported that sales had been ramping up throughout the fall, with the shopping rush beginning in earnest on Indies First/Small Business Saturday. It was a "terrific weekend," with returning customers stopping by as well as customers who had been only online shoppers before. 

On the subject of supply-chain issues, Rains said they've been "manageable" so far. Back in October she and her team ordered up on popular titles like Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead and Bewilderment by Richard Powers, which has served the store well. City of Asylum also created two holiday catalogues, one for adults and one for children, that focus on under-the-radar titles and indie presses, in the hopes that the team can guide customers to "books we have a healthy supply of." They've been pushing the catalogues "pretty hard" in the store's newsletter and on social media, and customers have been responding.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones has been the store's "clear bestseller" recently. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa and When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut have also proved popular. Rains noted that the store could "definitely use more copies" of David Graeber and David Wengrow's The Dawn of Everything.


At Ada's Technical Books and Cafe in Seattle, Wash., the holiday rush hasn't quite started yet, but owner Danielle Hulton noted that the rush does not usually start for them until around December 15. Asked about Indies First/Small Business Saturday, Hulton said it was "about average for this year." The store's sales have still been down in 2021 compared to 2019, by about 14%, and that has been consistent so far in December.

Despite a few titles being "hard to get a hold of," the store has been able to stay stocked without too much trouble. Hulton noted that the store started bringing in non-book items back in August, and since holiday sales haven't quite ramped up yet, there have been no restocking issues. She said: "I'm feeling confident that we will be able to stock everything we were hoping to carry." --Alex Mutter

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Obituary Note: Almudena Grandes

Almudena Grandes, an "award-winning Spanish writer and ardent feminist who shot to fame with an erotic novel about a woman rebelling against social norms," died November 27, the New York Times reported. She was 61. Grandes wrote more than a dozen novels, featuring protagonists who "mostly live on the edges of traditional Spanish society, either struggling against its sexual restrictions or marginalized by poverty. She was also a left-wing activist who had set about writing a six-novel series focused on Spain in the aftermath of its civil war of the 1930s. She completed five volumes."

"We lost one of the most important writers of our time," Pedro Sánchez, Spain's Socialist prime minister said on Twitter. "Committed and brave, she narrated our recent history from a progressive point of view."

Grandes's breakthrough came in 1989 with the publication of Las Edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu), which "won a literary prize for erotic fiction, sold more than a million copies worldwide and was turned into a movie by the director Bigas Luna, with a cast that included Javier Bardem, the Oscar-winning Spanish actor, in his first screen appearance," the Times wrote. Her other books include Malena es un Nombre de Tango (Malena Is the Name of a Tango) and Los Aires Difíciles (The Wind From the East), both of which were adapted into films.

Several of Grandes's novels are set during the Franco dictatorship. The Times noted that one of her more recent bestsellers in Spain, 2017's El Corazón Helado (The Frozen Heart), "starts with the funeral of a powerful businessman, attended by a mysterious woman, during which an inheritance of money and documents comes to light and helps unravel a troubled family saga dating back to the ravages of the Spanish Civil War."

After the success of The Frozen Heart, Grandes started her six-novel series, calling the project Episodios de una Guerra Interminable (Episodes in an Interminable War). The first book, Inés y la alegría (Inés and Happiness), was published in 2010 and won three literary prizes. Last year, the fourth installment, Los pacientes del doctor García (The Patients of Doctor García), won the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature, as well as the National Prize for Narrative, awarded by the Spanish culture ministry. Her last published novel was the fifth installment in the series, La madre de Frankenstein (The Mother of Frankenstein), released in 2020.

Her husband, poet Luis García Montero, said Grandes had most recently been working on a novel (not the final installment in her series) that he called "an allegory of the future," dealing with a society that is struggling to maintain individual rights and freedoms after being assaulted by a pandemic, the Times wrote. 


Image of the Day: On the Set at 'Island Books'

AARP books editor Christina Ianzito shared this photo of Parnassus Books in Yarmouth Port, Mass., which has been transformed into "Island Books," the setting for the movie The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, based on Gabrielle Zevin's novel. The film stars Kunal Nayyar, Christina Hendricks and Lucy Hale.

Shelf Expansion: Silver Unicorn Books

Silver Unicorn Books, Acton, Mass., shared on Twitter: "They're here, they're installed, and we're done! EXPANSION COMPLETE! We're so excited, this all feels a little surreal, but it isn't. It's real, and it's spectacular!

"Come check out our now fully finished expanded retail area, which right now has all our holiday books & gifts!"

Personnel Changes at Wonderwell

Jennifer Jensen has joined Wonderwell as sales and marketing director. She has 15 years of experience in trade book marketing. She most recently helped found the Chronicle Prism imprint of Chronicle Books and earlier worked at HarperCollins, rising from intern to associate director of marketing at HarperOne.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mel Brooks on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mel Brooks, author of All About Me: My Remarkable Life in Show Business (Ballantine, $29.99, 9780593159118).

Good Morning America: David Rose, author of EGGin': David Rose Cooks on the Big Green Egg (Andrews McMeel, $25, 9781449487607).

The Real: Porsha Williams, author of The Pursuit of Porsha: How I Grew into My Power and Purpose (Worthy Books, $26, 9781546015901).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Mariah Carey, co-author of The Meaning of Mariah Carey (St. Martin's Griffin, $19.99, 9781250816429).

Movies: Bot Wars

Luminosity Entertainment is teaming up with Altit Media Group and K.Jam Media to finance and co-produce Bot Wars, a sci-fi film based on the novels by J.V. Kade, Deadline reported, adding that the project will be directed by Alexander Kiesl and Steffen Hacker.

"The world and characters brought to life in J.V. Kade's novels are tremendously original, thrilling and thought provoking," said Luminosity's Daniel Diamond. "We are very excited to be working with Dean and Kia in bringing Alexander and Steffen's vision of this incredible story to the big screen."

Books & Authors

Awards: Nero and Black Orchid Novella Winners; Diverse Writers, Diverse Worlds Grantees

The 2021 Nero Award, given for "the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories," has been won by Stephen Spotswood for Fortune Favors the Dead (Doubleday).

The Black Orchid Novella Award, presented jointly by the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and honoring the novella format popularized by Rex Stout, has been won by Alexis Stefanovich-Thomson for "The Man Who Went Down Under." The novella will be published in the July 2022 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

Honorable mentions for the Black Orchid Novella Award went to:

"Bad Apples" by Kathleen Marple Kalb (writing as Nikki Knight)
"The Inside Shake" by Jason Koontz
"House of Tigers" by William Burton McCormick
"The Mystery of the Missing Woman" by Regina M. Sestak
"Lovely As" by Jacqueline Vick


The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced:

S. Qiouyi Lu has won the 2021 Diverse Writers Grant for "Razing Babel." Judges said, "The second person point of view is really effective in putting you in the narrator's mindframe... this is a really cool concept and great writing."

Elena Pavlova has won the 2021 Diverse Worlds Grant for "The Life and Adventures of Hillmeria Cat." Judges called the submission "strange and beautiful."

Book Review

Review: Very Cold People

Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso (Hogarth, $26 hardcover, 208p., 9780593241226, February 8, 2022)

"Snowfalls have unique bouquets," Sarah Manguso writes in her first novel, Very Cold People. "Snow isn't just frozen water; it carries a remnant of the sky." Manguso's book hosts impressions so scorchingly immediate that readers may half wonder if the childhood depicted on the page is theirs.

Ruth, who narrates Very Cold People, grew up an only child in the 1980s in the (fictional) colonial town of Waitsfield, Mass., whose "historically correct" paint colors are considerably more subdued than its class distinctions. Ruth, a devotee of "playing at belonging," takes readers through the childhood events that have marked her--fleeting occasions like a trip to a fancy restaurant in Boston with family, and major developments like her move at age 13 to a new Waitsfield home (historically significant house, better school zone).

Guiding young Ruth with varying degrees of sound judgment are her Jewish mother, a serially dieting, status-conscious housewife, and her father, an accountant of Italian ancestry who wears a fake Rolex. Ruth's parents are a good match for each other but not for their child, as they undermine her confidence as well as are screamers and nonreaders (the books they pick up at the local dump's book swap are for show).

Manguso, whose previous books are works of poetry and nonfiction (Ongoingness; 300 Arguments), is a sensational writer (her school auditorium "was like the inside of a slaughtered animal, all oxblood paint and maroon velveteen"). But with a hundred-odd pages behind them, readers may well wonder: Is Very Cold People truly a novel, as advertised? Manguso certainly massages her themes (social and familial alienation, predatory men who are trusted members of the community), but as vignette-like paragraphs skip by, each bluntly delineated from the next by a page break, there seems to be no forward momentum beyond the ticking of time.

Readers should hang in there. Manguso's accreting vignettes retroactively assume a shape toward the end of Very Cold People, when something happens that fulfills every novel's basic requirement: life for at least one character in it irrevocably changes. Given Ruth's fascination with Waitsfield--its history, its denizens--it's tempting to imbue the town with an aura of specialness, and perhaps that's fair. But readers may come to see Waitsfield as more of a late-mid-century anytown, and they'll understand Ruth's desire to leave as a reflection of not the cruelties that Waitsfield inflicts but the cruelties that life can. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: Sarah Manguso's breathtakingly well-written first novel seems like a grab bag of the narrator's impressions of her childhood, until its ending casts everything that precedes it in fresh light.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
2. The Lucky Formula by Mark Lachance
3. Ignite by Melanie Harlow
4. A Not So Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn
5. The Worst Best Friend by Nicole Snow
6. There Is No Devil by Sophie Lark
7. Bad Cruz by L.J. Shen
8. Crucible Leadership by Warwick Fairfax
9. Global Talent Unleashed by Nicole M. Sahin
10. The Pact by Max Monroe

[Many thanks to!]

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