Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 7, 2022

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

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

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


Michael Herrmann of N.H.'s Gibson's Bookstore Joins ABA Board

Michael Herrmann

Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., has joined the board of the American Booksellers Association, according to Bookselling This Week. He fills the spot vacated by Kenny Brechner, owner of DDG Booksellers, Farmington, Maine, who resigned in November in protest against the ABA board's decision to lessen its support of free expression.

Herrmann will serve until the next election, in April, when he will be eligible for a three-year term. He has owned Gibson's since 1995. After a major move in 2013, the store has about 10,000 square feet of retail space that includes a café, a large children's section and one of the biggest selections of books in northern New England.

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

SIBA Launches Wanda Jewell Scholarship

Wanda Jewell

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has created the Wanda Jewell Scholarship Fund in honor of its former executive director, who retired in 2020. Funded initially by authors, the scholarship provides financial support for bookseller professional development through education and networking at in-person SIBA-sponsored events.

"I'm so humbled by this scholarship in my name," said Jewell. "It truly means the world to me. And to have many of my favorite writers stepping forward to fund this is simply the best gift. So much gratitude to SIBA and writers and booksellers I cannot express."

Initial funding for the scholarship comes from the four author co-hosts of Friends & Fiction--Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel and Patti Callahan Henry. In a statement, they said, "When we created our community almost two years ago, our original mission included the phrase 'to support independent bookstores' and we can't think of a better way to celebrate Wanda Jewell's contribution to SIBA than by honoring her with this scholarship. Through SIBA, Wanda has supported us and our work for years now, and we are thrilled in turn to support booksellers in their professional development."

Scholarship applications will open February 1. Donations in honor of Wanda Jewell can be made here. For more information, contact Linda-Marie Barrett, SIBA executive director, via e-mail.

International Update: Mysterious 'Manuscript Stealer' Arrested, BA Staff Changes


Filippo Bernardini, a "mysterious fraudster who impersonated publishers and agents to steal book manuscripts in an international phishing scam," was arrested Wednesday at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, the Guardian reported. 

The FBI alleged that 29-year-old Bernardini, an Italian citizen who worked as a rights coordinator at Simon & Schuster UK, had "impersonated, defrauded, and attempted to defraud, hundreds of individuals" to obtain unpublished and draft works. He was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a New York district court, with the indictment saying Bernardini had registered more than 160 fake Internet domains to impersonate others since 2016.

The arrest "may mark the start of the end of a mystery that has fascinated and appalled the literary world for five years, during which hundreds of unpublished manuscripts have been targeted," the Guardian wrote. "Some authors, agents, editors, scouts and even judges for the Booker prize have been victims of phishing scams involving manuscripts of highly anticipated novels by Margaret Atwood, Sally Rooney and actor Ethan Hawke.... None of the books ever turned up online, and everything from celebrity releases to debut novels by unknown writers were targeted. Some had suspected the individual was a literary scout, attempting to secure information to make film and television deals ahead of others."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster said the publisher was "shocked and horrified" by the allegations against Bernardini and that they had suspended him pending further information, adding: "The safekeeping of our authors' intellectual property is of primary importance to Simon & Schuster, and for all in the publishing industry, and we are grateful to the FBI for investigating these incidents and bringing charges against the alleged perpetrator."


The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland announced a number of changes to the team for 2022, including Naomi Gane stepping down from her role as conference & events manager. She will be succeeded by Rowan Mansell, who told the Bookseller: "I have been working in events for the last four and a half years, co-ordinating and leading leadership/governor events for schools in Hertfordshire. Providing key training, conferences and networking opportunities to support schools in keeping up to date with educational trends as well as societal trends/advances. I am really looking forward to begin a new journey with BA and become a part of the team to continue the incredible event management that takes place!"

Membership manager Pippa Halpin will be going on maternity leave from mid-February, with her role to be covered by Kate Gunning, formerly of Penguin Random House, Foyles and Waterstones. Laura McCormack, head of policy and public affairs, will also be going on maternity leave in March, with the BA currently seeking her maternity cover. 

In other news, Sheila O'Reilly, former owner of Dulwich Books and bookseller mentor, will head the upcoming BA Learning project, a professional development platform for booksellers due to launch later in the year.

"We have a number of exciting projects lined up in 2022 to showcase booksellers and their incredible work, and we are pleased to be reframing the BA team to support these initiatives," said BA managing director Meryl Halls. "Naomi will be greatly missed by everyone at the BA and throughout the trade, but we are delighted to have Rowan join the team. We also look forward to welcoming Kate as cover while Pippa is on maternity leave, and are lucky to have Sheila bring all the necessary experience and skills to develop BA Learning as she heads that project as a freelance consultant."


The Book Warehouse store in Lismore, NSW, Australia, shared a photo of its latest sidewalk chalkboard message, noting: "I think the choice is obvious... we're here for you." --Robert Gray

Chicago Review Press Buys Interlude Press

IPG's Chicago Review Press has bought Novelstream, owner of Interlude Press, which publishes LGBTQ+ fiction as well as YA fiction through its imprint, Duet Books. Interlude Press has been distributed by IPG since 2019.

Interlude Press was founded in 2014 and has a catalogue nearly 100 titles, by authors including Julian Winters, C.B. Lee, Julia Ember and F.T. Lukens. Titles include Running with Lions, Not Your Sidekick and Shine of the Ever, as well as the upcoming Book of Dreams, Felix Silver, Teaspoons and Witches, Born Andromeda and Not Your Hero, the conclusion of the Sidekick Squad series. Interlude Press books  have received Lambda Literary, Foreword INDIES, IBPA Benjamin Franklin and Cybils awards.

Annie Harper, co-owner and managing editor of Interlude Press, and Candysse Miller, director of marketing and communications, commented: "From the start, our mission has been to publish stories of exceptional quality that represent diverse perspectives in the LGBTQ+ community in which the main source of conflict is not related to one's gender identity or sexual orientation. We're proud of what Interlude Press has accomplished, and excited for its future as part of Chicago Review Press."

Cynthia Sherry, group publisher at CRP, said, "Interlude has a stellar roster of authors and their focus on quality storytelling and commitment to celebrating underrepresented voices meshes well with CRP's mission. There is a good synergy between Interlude's list of outstanding adult and young adult LGBTQ+ fiction and our own LGBTQ+ non-fiction list headed by senior editor Jerome Pohlen."

Pohlen will manage the Interlude Press imprint. CRP plans to continue working with Interlude Press's existing network of designers and editors.

Tess O'Dwyer Named Academy of American Poets Board Chair 

Tess O'Dwyer

Nonprofit management consultant and award-winning translator Tess O'Dwyer has been named the new chair of the board of directors for the Academy of American Poets, becoming the first person of color to lead the national organization's board in its 87-year history. O'Dwyer succeeds Michael Jacobs, CEO of Abrams Books, who served as chair for eight years. 

"It is the heyday of American poetry," O'Dwyer said. "As an Asian American I'm especially proud to help lead the Academy in this time in which the art form is reflecting such a wide range of voices, especially those who have been historically marginalized. Not only is this a time of cultural change, it's also a moment in which we are reminded of poetry's significance. During the past 22 months, we've seen how poems have served as PPE for the soul and as a centering source of solace for a growing number of millions of readers as we've faced a global health crisis. I look forward to working with the board, staff, and chancellors to ensure the Academy continues to be a leader in the art form," 

Jennifer Benka, AAP's president and executive director, commented: "Tess is attuned to the possibilities of poetry in our culture and a devoted champion of poets. She has deep organizational expertise and has already made immeasurable contributions to our efforts to meet the vastly increased demands for our programs, publications, and financial support during the pandemic. The Academy is fortunate to have her leadership as we continue to foster an organization and programs that promote, support, and reflect poetry and poets today."

Kwame Dawes, AAP chancellor and ex officio board member, added that O'Dwyer "assumes the leadership of the academy board at a time of tremendous growth, dynamism, and future promise for the organization as it continues to work toward increasing its relevance and influence in our evolving culture. This is fitting as she comes armed with a great deal of energy, curiosity, and conviction about the power of poetry in the world. Tess's success will be defined by a capacity to listen, a commitment to swift action, and irrepressible delight in the poetic arts. I welcome her leadership." 

O'Dwyer provides strategic planning and fundraising counsel to people in the nonprofit sector. She is also a translator of Latin American poetry and fiction. 

Obituary Note: Ted Majerek

Ted Majerek, a businessman who founded a regional bookstore chain that at one time had 37 locations, died at his home in Niles, Mich., on January 1, LeaderPublications reported. He was 95 years old.

Majerek served in the Marine Corps after graduating high school and moved to Niles, Mich., with his wife, Marie, in 1957. He bought the Niles News Agency and Hallmark Store, and over the next few decades Majerek's Hallmark Readers' World stores expanded throughout southwest Michigan and the surrounding region. By 1997, the chain had nearly 40 stores; Majarek also owned the Michiana Delivery Service and other local businesses.

According to his son Tom, Majerek was a community leader who led fundraising committees, supported local organizations and was active in the Chamber of Commerce. He also created the Majerek Family Periodical Endowment Fund at the Notre Dame Library.

"He had an endless amount of energy," Tom Majerek told LeaderPublications. "He could be involved with almost any project he wanted. He always encouraged community involvement with his kids and gave us opportunities to seek that. Not only was he a good Christian and a family man, but he was also very involved with the community."


Happy 5th Birthday, City of Asylum Books!

Congratulations to City of Asylum Books, Pittsburgh, Pa., which is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Saturday, January 15. All in-store purchases will be discounted 15% all day.

As the store wrote on Instagram, "Won't you join us to celebrate this remarkable journey? We couldn't have made [it] this far without you."

Mustafaa Shabazz on the Mission of Ujamaa Bookstore, Columbus, Ohio

"Our children need to be literate in who they are," Mustafaa Shabazz, owner of Ujamaa Bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's simple. If you get the right kind of books in the kids' hands at the right time, you're going to change the society.”

Shabazz opened Ujamaa Bookstore--named after the fourth principle of Kwanzaa, which is also the Swahili word for cooperative economics--in Columbus's Driving Park neighborhood in 1997. Initially the store had its own space, but Shabazz eventually decided to downsize and share space with a beauty supply store.

"When Amazon came, sales plummeted," he explained. "It was a hard decision to make; either you close down, or you merge. But it was genius. It worked."

Ujamaa Bookstore sells fiction and nonfiction on subjects ranging from Moorish rule in Spain to financial literacy to Black history. Shabazz carries books for all ages, and sources many books directly from their authors; he's become friends with many of those authors over the years.

Shabazz was inspired to open a bookstore of his own while he was attending Ohio State University in the 1970s. He was looking for a book about Marcus Garvey for an assignment and could not find one at any of the local bookstores. He said: "I'm like, 'When I grow up, I'm going to put a Black bookstore here.' "

Personnel Changes at Parallax Press; Astra Publishing House

Elizabeth McKellar has been promoted to director of sales, marketing, & new media at Parallax Press. She was formerly sales & marketing manager and joined the press in the fall of 2020.


At Astra Publishing House:

Linette Kim, previously marketing manager at HarperCollins, has joined Astra Books for Young Readers as senior marketing manager.

Tiffany Gonzalez has been promoted to marketing manager at Astra House.

Media and Movies

Podcast: The Roxane Gay Agenda

Roxane Gay has teamed up with subscription podcast network Luminary to launch The Roxane Gay Agenda, which premieres January 25 in partnership with iHeartMedia. Deadline reported that the new podcast "will feature conversations with Gay, who also offers uncommonly incisive reads of the politics that shape the world and popular culture." Gay previously teamed with Luminary to host Hear to Slay with Tressie McMillan Cottom. 

Episodes will be released weekly; listeners will be able to listen early and ad-free on the Luminary app or its Apple podcast subscription service the Luminary Channel, before episodes are released widely via the iHeart Podcast Network. The Roxanne Gay Agenda will be produced by Gay and Curtis Fox, a veteran podcast producer who is story editor for Radiotopia's Ear Hustle and has worked on podcasts for the New Yorker and Esquire.

TV: Alison Roman Gets CNN Plus Cooking Program

Food writer Alison Roman, author of cookbooks such as Nothing Fancy and a former editorial staffer for Bon Appetit and the New York Times, will have a cooking program on CNN's video hub CNN Plus, which is set to launch this quarter. Variety reported that episodes "will show her both in and out of the kitchen, teaching recipes and also venturing out to learn about the ingredients, people and the stories behind what she prepares."

"Alison's unique style and tone make her a perfect addition to our CNN Plus line-up," said Amy Entelis, CNN Worldwide's executive v-p for talent and content development for CNN Original Series and Films. "From vinegar chicken to shallot pasta--we are thrilled that Alison will share the stories behind her signature recipes with the subscribers of CNN Plus."

Roman added: "I've been dreaming about bringing a new sort of cooking and food show to life for years and I can't think of any place better to make it a reality." 

Variety noted that Roman "emerged from a minor controversy in 2020, drawing criticism on social media after making some remarks about lines of products backed by Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo. She apologized, but also decided to leave the New York Times, where she was writing a column, in December of that year."

Books & Authors

Awards: PNBA Winners; Slightly Foxed First Biography Shortlist

The winners of the 2022 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, are:

Unfollow Me by Jill Louise Busby (Bloomsbury)
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad (Knopf)
Time Is a Flower by Julie Morstad (Tundra Books)
Funeral for Flaca
by Emilly Prado (Future Tense Books)
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (Penguin Teen)


A shortlist has been released for the £2,500 (about $3,380) Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize, presented by Slightly Foxed and the Biographers' Club, the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced March 8 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life by Alex Christofi
Will She Do? Act One of a Life on Stage by Eileen Atkins 
Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women by Annabel Abbs 
John Craxton: A Life of Gifts by Ian Collins
Free: Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi 

Reading with... Rachel Hawkins

photo: John Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins is the author of The Wife Upstairs, as well as many books for young readers. Hawkins also writes romance novels under the pen name Erin Sterling. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and lives in Alabama. Her latest novel is Reckless Girls (St. Martin's Press, January 4, 2022), a gothic suspense novel set on an isolated Pacific island with a dark history.

On your nightstand now: 

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling. I'm a sucker for anything gothic, and this one is so lovely and strange. Perfect cold weather reading. I'm also reading Alison Weir's Queens of the Crusades because I love a good history book, and just picked up S.A. Cosby's Razorblade Tears. Since it's the holidays, I've got both of Jenny Holiday's rom-coms, A Princess for Christmas and Duke, Actually, plus an Agatha Christie collection, Midwinter Murder. My nightstand is in constant peril of tipping over, to be honest. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard. It's an Elizabethan-era retelling of the Tam Lin legend, and I was deeply obsessed with it as a kid. I think it's what also started my lifelong love for Prickly Heroines (And the Seemingly Feckless Pretty Boys Who Love Them.) Plus it's super spooky, and I'm always very here for that!

Your top five authors:

I love Sarah Waters so much that I refuse to read Affinity simply because I always need to have an Unread Sarah Waters Book in my back pocket, as it were. And Stephen King's books have been with me since the time I was around 10 (I know!! Too young!!). It's a really special thing to get to keep reading and loving an author for that long. Same with Nora Roberts, who I also admire so much for A) putting out like 184 books a year, and B) making every one of them great and compelling. Rebecca Roanhorse is so ridiculously talented I can hardly stand it, and has very quickly become one of those authors where, if they write it, I will buy it, don't even have to know what it's about. I also love Elizabeth Chadwick's medieval historical fiction so much that I always order a hardback copy from the U.K. when it comes out over there rather than wait for the U.S. version. 

Book you've faked reading:

I was an English major! I faked reading a LOT of stuff! But the one that immediately springs to mind is The Mill on the Floss. Sorry, George Eliot!

Book you're an evangelist for:

People are probably so tired of me yelling about Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall, but too bad for them, because here I am, yelling about it again. It's a short book, more a novella, really, but it packs a BIG punch. It's Daisy Jones & the Six run through a '70s British folk horror filter. How can you not be evangelical for a book like that?

Book you've bought for the cover:

Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty. And what a fabulous decision that was because the book was even more gorgeous than it's admittedly very gorgeous cover, and that's also the book that convinced me I wanted to try my hand at writing YA.

Book you hid from your parents:

Judy Blume's Wifey. Sorry, Mama! I also had a tendency to take books that looked racy off my parents' shelves and hide them in my room (looking at you, The Mummy by Anne Rice!) which, in retrospect, was not the brightest move on my part since I'm sure my parents knew exactly where those books were going.

Book that changed your life:

When I was in college, a professor assigned Nikki Giovanni's Love Poems because she was coming to speak at the university. I read and enjoyed the poems, so I went to her talk, and promptly had my whole brain broken open in the best way. I walked out of that talk a different person than I was when I went in. 

Favorite line from a book:

The entire paragraph is a masterpiece, but I've always loved the bit in the opening of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House: "Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years, and might stand for eighty more." Everything you need to know about the setting of this book, boom, right there! Evocative and so, so scary. That almost casual "not sane" dropped in! God, I'd spend a whole night in Hill House just to write something so great. 

Five books you'll never part with:

So I realize this is a BANANAS thing to say for a woman who has as many bookshelves in her house as I do, but there actually aren't any books I wouldn't part with. I like the idea of books drifting in and out of my life, onto new adventures with new readers. I think part of this is because one of my favorite hobbies is scouring thrift stores for old paperbacks, so it's very cool to think that a book that once meant something to me might eventually end up as someone else's treasure. 

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

I know it's since been made into a very popular and polarizing TV show that, like, 90% of the planet seemed to watch, but I first read George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones in 2005 when I was home on maternity leave with my son. I was not a fantasy reader, genuinely thought I didn't even like fantasy, but for some unknown reason, my sleep-deprived brain saw it in the bookstore, and was like, "Yes, this." Maybe it's just because it was about 1,000 pages and seemed escapist, maybe I wanted to read about people going through an even harder time than I was, or maybe I just really like dragons after all. Who can say? But I devoured it. Just fell into that book headfirst complete with that heady sensation of, "Oh. Oh, this is everything I've ever wanted in a book!" I'd love to feel that again.

Book Review

Review: The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister

The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister by Kyleigh Leddy (Mariner Books, $28.99 hardcover, 304p., 9780358469346, March 15, 2022)

Deep, everlasting love, grief and the mysteries of mental illness are undercurrents that propel The Perfect Other, a chilling, moving memoir by Kyleigh Leddy. A graduate of Boston College now in pursuit of her master's in social work, Leddy grapples with the life and loss of her older sister, Kait, a young woman affected by schizophrenia.

"I am the kind of person who reads the last page first. The type of girl who searches the plot summary on Wikipedia before the movie ends," writes Leddy, who has spent a large part of her young life grappling with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of her 22-year-old sister, Kait. She was last seen on a frigid January night in 2014. Security cameras show that her older sister took a taxi to the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, Pa., ascended to the highest point and then disappeared. It is believed she jumped; however, her body was never recovered. Thus, her whereabouts remains a mystery--one that haunts Leddy and sets her on a course to make sense of the shocking tragedy, both personally and through a more psychologically clinical lens.

Through a sensitively drawn, stream-of-conscious narrative--spurred by a "Modern Love" column Leddy published in the New York Times--she stitches together remembered fragments and pivotal scenes from the life she, her mother and father shared with Kait. From childhood, all Kait wanted was a baby sister. And she got one, when she was five years old--when Kyleigh Leddy was born. The author, reserved and introspective, looked up to and worshipped Kait, who was confident and charming, beautiful and fun-loving. After sustaining a head injury, Kait started to exhibit concerning erratic behaviors that took inexplicable, unruly--often violent--turns when she reached "the bluff of early adulthood." 

Leddy, understandably, struggles with her sister's exacerbating behaviors and the shock of her ultimately vanishing from life: "to be grieving and watch the world continue on is the cruelest outrage." However, her feelings of loneliness and horror wind up serving a much greater purpose that ultimately enlarges her sister's life--and her own. Leddy's raw search for understanding, meaning and peace grants readers a rare personal glimpse into the universal mysteries of mental illness and the long-lasting traumatic effects it has on those afflicted, as well as those in its orbit. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A hauntingly reflective memoir details the intricacies of mental illness and the bonds of sisterly love and loyalty in this life--and beyond.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Between the Brackets--Quoting & Misquoting for a New Year

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inspiring quotations are as traditional a way to start the new year as champagne toasts and resolutions. So let me quote author Ben Ehrenreich, from a 2013 Los Angeles Times New Year's Eve item: "My literary resolutions are always the same: Read more, write more, and when otherwise unoccupied, read and write more." Sound advice.

I've been thinking about quotations this week because of something Fast Company sent in one of its Compass e-newsletters for the new year--a link to an archived 2018 piece headlined: "You've been misquoting these inspiring phrases your whole life." This pertinent question was asked: "Do all those inspirational quotes we see for #MotivationMonday or #WisdomWednesday really exist? And were they really said by the people we are so quick to believe said them? Yes and no." 

Example: Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Forbes contributor Maseena Ziegler had earlier pointed out that the lines were often misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson online, but Muriel Strode actually wrote them in her 1903 poem "Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers," which opens: "I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is/ no path, and I will leave a trail." 

Ziegler also explained that an academic periodical reprinted Strode's slightly revised quote (replacing just the I's) with a credit to Emerson. "Not long after, it appeared as a sign at a school once again incorrectly credited--and from there you could say it took off."

Despite Emerson's previously mentioned antipathy to quoting and the Internet's flawed essence, I love quotations and have long been a devoted "bracketer" (private quoting, you might call it) when I read. If I pull a book at random from my shelves and idly flip through the pages without seeing the title, I know immediately if it's a work I liked due to the number of sentences or paragraphs set off by brackets. Purists and serious book collectors may be appalled by the way I deface the books I love most, but I'm a collector, too. I collect from inside the book.

Here's the last sentence I bracketed, just yesterday, in Amanda Lohrey's brilliant novel The Labyrinth: "This was my unlikely beginning: in the midst of madness I had been happy."

Bracketing is probably my version of a commonplace book. It's also a mnemonic sometimes, sparking memories beyond the page. For example, take this book I just pulled from my shelves--Emerson: The Mind on Fire (U. of California Press, 1995) by the late Robert D. Richardson. (Okay, I cheated a little there because I did reach for it intentionally.) 

Flipping through the pages, I'm reminded that Richardson came to the bookstore where I was working at the time for an author event. I had the privilege of introducing him and he signed my copy. So did legendary artist Barry Moser, who created the jacket illustration and attended this reading, but steadfastly declined to autograph a copy of the book until the author had signed it first, which impressed me. 

Since that night, I've added my own marks in the form of bracketed passages. Now it's my story, too. Here's some Richardson that brought out my pen while I was reading:

[Emerson wrote]: "Learn how to tell from the beginnings of the chapters and from glimpses of the sentences whether you need to read them entirely through. So turn page after page, keeping the writer's thoughts before you, but not tarrying with him, until he has brought you the thing you are in search of. But recollect, you only read to start your own team."

The last point is crucial. Reading was not an end in itself for Emerson. He read like a hawk sliding on the wind over a marsh, alert for what he could use. He read to nourish and stimulate his own thought, and he carried this so far as to recommend that one stop reading if one finds oneself becoming engrossed.

Sounds like a bracketer to me. By the way, Emerson didn't really hate quotations. He quoted other writers all the time. He also wrote: "By necessity & by proclivity, & by delight, we all quote.... The quoter's selection honors & celebrates the author. The quoter gives more fame than he receives aid."

So quoting him seems like a good way to end this column and begin 2022: On January 4, 1827, Emerson wrote in his journal: "A new year has opened its bitter cold eye upon me... & found my best hopes set aside, my projects all suspended. A new year has found me perchance no more fit to die than the last. But the eye of the mind has at least grown richer in its hoard of observations. It has detected some more of the darkling lines that connect past events to the present, and the present to the future."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

Powered by: Xtenit