Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 14, 2022

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley

Editors' Note


New Owners Bringing Change to Va.'s Chop Suey Books


After purchasing Chop Suey Books in Richmond, Va., last fall, new owners Berkley and Chris McDaniel are making changes to the 20-year-old bookstore. According to Richmond's StyleWeekly, they've already brought in new inventory and a point-of-sale machine, and while the store will continue to sell mostly used books, they plan to add a selection of new titles.

With their new inventory, the McDaniels plan to prioritize poetry, graphic art books and local authors, along with a smattering of national authors. They want to expand their event offerings with individual local authors and forge partnerships with area writers' groups like Richmond Young Writers and James River Writers. Before Christmas they held an event featuring local authors and craft beer from a local brewery called Hardywood.

Berkeley McDaniel told StyleWeekly that he wants to put more emphasis on the store's seven staff members when it comes to engaging with the community and building the store's inventory. "My focus is on employees; to make it easier for them to talk to customers."

Chop Suey Books was founded by Ward Tefft in 2002. He moved the store to its current location in 2008, and early last year sent an e-mail "out of the blue" to the McDaniels asking if they would be interested in taking over the store.

"I did," said Chris McDaniel. "We love what he created."

Won Ton, Chop Suey's 15-year-old bookstore cat, was included in the purchase. McDaniel noted that it was part of the contract and they had to "go to a veterinarian and sign papers. We want him to have a long and happy life."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Deerfield Township, Ohio, Gets New B&N

Barnes & Noble will open a bookstore in Deerfield Township, Ohio, near Cincinnati, next Wednesday, January 19. Located in the Deerfield Towne Center, the store replaces the B&N in the Waterstone Center that closed last August 22.

Emphasizing that, under CEO James Daunt, B&N booksellers have leeway in adapting stores to the local market, B&N said that the Deerfield Township store offers "a robust selection of lifestyle books, including cookbooks and self-care, as well as a fantastic children's section. There are also large book rooms devoted to mystery & thriller books, Young Adult titles and manga, all of which continue to grow in popularity. New fiction and nonfiction hardcovers, the core strengths of Barnes & Noble, will also be front-and-center at the store." The store also has a café and is located next to Whole Foods.

Amy Fitzgerald, who heads bookselling at B&N, said, "This is an avid community of readers, and we are delighted to bring their bookstore back to them. Store manager Jordan Walls and his team have created a beautiful new store here and we all look forward to welcoming customers, old and new."

Walls added, "We missed our customers dearly, and are excited to reunite with them. I have been with Barnes & Noble for almost 20 years, and I have a fantastic team of experienced booksellers ready to welcome customers, old and new, and to help them discover their next great read. The new store is so much brighter, with a wonderful selection of books and an updated gift department of which we are very proud."

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Wonderland Bookshop 'Plugging Along' in Greensboro, N.C.

Wonderland Bookshop, a children's bookstore in Greensboro, S.C., that opened in 2018, is "plugging along" during the pandemic, store owners and sisters Amy Lamb and Beth Berger told the Triad City Beat.

A significant portion of the store's sales have been online, with Lamb noting that "we're certainly not back to where we were." She and Berger hosted some outdoor storytime sessions over the summer but now in-person events remain on hiatus and will be for some time. Berger said many parents are being very cautious, especially with younger kids who can't be vaccinated yet, but they continue to be very supportive.

Asked about the store's selection of books pertaining to topics like race and gender identity and whether they've received any complaints from customers, Berger said that any pushback hasn't been overt. Lamb added that they've "never made any secret about it," so while some people may avoid the store, the vast majority of people are "so appreciative of the books that we have had." Parents are looking for those types of books and are "not shy to ask." They also happen to be "the best picture books coming out these days."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

Books-A-Million Opens 2nd & Charles in Miramar Beach, Fla.

Books-A-Million has opened a 2nd & Charles store in Miramar Beach, Fla., at 130 Scenic Gulf Drive. Mia Otillio, the store's general manager, told the Northwest Florida Daily News that BAM now operates 47 2nd & Charles locations and plans to open 20 more next year.

Founded in 2010, 2nd & Charles stores buy and sell books, comics, DVDs, CDs, vinyl records, video games, gaming systems, etc. The stores also usually have cafes and often host book signings and special events.

The Miramar Beach store "is no typical 2nd & Charles," Otillio said. At 8,000 square feet, it's smaller than the average size. "Otillio has enjoyed arranging and promoting the merchandise because of it," the Daily News wrote.

"We've had tons of people coming in and saying, 'Wow, this store is so big,' " she added. "Even though it feels small to me, I'm glad that it feels large to everyone else."

S&S Launches Boynton Bookworks Imprint

Simon & Schuster has launched Boynton Bookworks, an imprint devoted to the past and future works of American cartoonist, children's author and songwriter/producer Sandra Boynton. The imprint will bring Boynton's considerable backlist under one roof for the first time.

"Sandy's work is deceptively simple and utterly original," said Jon Anderson, president and publisher of S&S Children's Publishing. "Boynton Bookworks will be a showcase for her singular genius (she'll hate my using that word, but it's true!) and is the obvious next step in her remarkable career."

Kelli Chipponeri (formerly of Chronicle Books) is the publishing director of Boynton Bookworks, while Mike Vago (recently of Workman Publishing) is design director. Jeffrey Salane, v-p and editorial director of Little Simon, continues as Boynton's editor.  

"And I'll be in the Picard role," said Boynton. "I get to set an improbable course and say 'Make it so.' Then the supremely competent crew takes it from there. I'm so stunned and grateful that Jon is giving me this wild opportunity."
Along with becoming the new home for Boynton's entire Little Simon backlist, Boynton Bookworks will publish its inaugural list in Fall 2022, including two new board books--Pookie's Thanksgiving and Moo, Baa, Fa La La La La!--as well as a deluxe picture book edition of Boynton's Hippos Go Berserk!, first published in 1977 and in print ever since. Boynton has completely redrawn and redesigned Hippos Go Berserk! for the Boynton Bookworks launch. 

In addition, beginning in Fall 2022, the new imprint will welcome all of Boynton's previously published titles, including new editions of 22 Boynton books and six songbook/CDs.

Obituary Note: Lee Server

Lee Server, author of numerous bestselling and critically acclaimed books about Hollywood cinema and pulp fiction, died December 28. He was 68. Server was born in Springfield, Mass., and graduated from New York University Film School. He was published for many years by St. Martin's, and was originally represented by the Roslyn Targ Literary Agency and then by Michael Bourret of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. 

Server's most recent title was Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli (2018). His book Robert Mitchum: "Baby I Don't Care" (2001) was named a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times, "the film biography of the year" by the Sunday Times (U.K.) and one of the "60 Greatest Film Books." His other titles include Ava Gardner: Love Is Nothing (2006), a New York Times Notable Book; Screenwriter: Words Become Pictures (1987); Danger Is My Business (1993); and Over My Dead Body! (1994).

Terri Hardin, his wife, said that while Server was attending NYU film school, "he came under the spell of writer-cum-roué Terry Southern. During the course of a one-on-one session that took place, as usual, in a bar, Southern told Lee, 'Your writing reminds me of that Edgar Allan Poe novel, The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym.' "

Prior to his time with St. Martin's Press, Server was briefly an agent with the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, where B. Traven was one of his clients. He was an editor for Oui magazine and interviewed celebrities, including Southern, for articles in a number of men's magazines. In Paris, Server tracked down and had many conversations with director Sam Fuller. These were later included in his book Sam Fuller: Film Is a Battleground (1994).

In an interview in 2002 for the Big Chat, Server explained his process for interviewing major and minor celebrities and notable figures for his books: "There is an art to it. You have to know when to flatter, when to play dumb, when to artfully pursue the controversial element. I hear about these writers, biographers who have interns and assistants doing many of their interviews. If the authors are any good, I think they probably lose a lot of good stuff."


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular December Books

The two most popular books in December at Reading Group Choices were Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (Grove Press) and Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Media and Movies

Movies: Children of Blood and Bone

"Following a bidding war that saw several major players in the mix," Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to the Children of Blood and Bone trilogy, the action fantasy film based on Tomi Adeyemi's YA novels, Deadline reported. Adeyemi will adapt, write the script and executive produce. 

Paramount is "fast-tracking this big-screen adaptation with Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen of Temple Hill Entertainment and Karen Rosenfelt of Sunswept Entertainment producing," Deadline noted. "Children of Blood and Bone and its sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance are published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a Macmillan imprint, and sources say the third and final book in the trilogy will be published in 2023."

"Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone has not only become a phenomenon in the YA world, it has transformed every expectation of what world-building fantasy can be," said Daria Cercek, co-president of Paramount Pictures Motion Group. "It's with enormous pride that our studio--along with Tomi and our partners Wyck, Marty and Karen--set out to bring this franchise to life on the big screen. With its thought-provoking and timely themes, we know that this story will resonate with a global audience."

"Paramount's passion and enthusiasm to bring this story to life has been incredible," Adeyemi said. "We are all so excited for this new chapter and are already hard at work."

Books & Authors

Awards: Porchlight Business Book of the Year

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (One World) was named the 2021 Porchlight Business Book of the Year (formerly the 800-CEO-READ award), which was presented virtually from the company's headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis.

"The Sum of Us is an urgent and important book for our historical moment," said Porchlight owner, president & CEO Rebecca Shwartz. "Rejecting the zero-sum paradigm so often used as a bogus and obscuring device to prevent white Americans from recognizing the universal costs of racist policies, McGhee deftly illustrates how the all-or-nothing premise that whatever benefits Black people must necessarily harm whites is false and indeed harms everyone. As McGhee says, '[W]e must emerge from this crisis in our republic with a new birth of freedom, rooted in the knowledge that we are so much more when the 'We' in 'We the People' is not some of us but all of us. We are greater for, and greater than, the sum of our parts.' Congratulations and thank you to Heather McGhee for your compelling and indispensable book, The Sum of Us, the Porchlight Business Book of the Year."

The company used its annual Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry to remember the man for whom the honor is named, the founder of Porchlight, who died last August, noting: "Not only did he play a significant role in the formation of the business book industry, but he also played a key role in many lives throughout the industry, most especially those who have worked with him at the company he built."

Managing director Sally Haldorson observed: "Over my almost 25 years at this company, Jack was a constant, the heartbeat. He was first my boss, but became my mentor, my advisor, and my friend. Yet those words are inadequate for the impact Jack had on me. He was simply the most influential adult in my adult life. His story is imprinted upon each of us at Porchlight through his everyday kindnesses and the space he gave us all to be ourselves and become everything we had the potential to be."

Reading with... Bernardine Evaristo

photo: Jennie Scott

Bernardine Evaristo won the 2019 Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other, which also was a winner and finalist for other awards, including the Women's Prize for Fiction and the Dublin Literary Award. Evaristo is the author of seven other books that explore aspects of the African diaspora. Her writing spans verse fiction, short fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism and drama. Evaristo is president of the Royal Society of Literature, professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. She received an OBE in 2020, and lives in London with her husband. Her most recent book is Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (Grove, January 18, 2022), a memoir that captures the essence of her creativity and offers inspirational guidance to emerging writers

On your nightstand now:

I probably have a hundred books waiting to be read, sometimes they sit on my shelves for years, but top of my list is a proof copy of Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, because I was bowled over by Shuggie Bain. Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner has just won the Goldsmiths Prize for experimental fiction in the U.K. Dipping into the book, it's clear that her prose style is so energetic and dazzling, I need to wait until my hectic life quietens down to read it. Also, The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice by Shon Faye. I'm reading it to learn more about the issues from someone who is trans herself. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett; I've never read her and want to.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I've been asked this a lot recently and to be honest, I devoured books as a child but as they were borrowed from the library, I don't remember what they were. The Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is the only book I remember because I was given a copy for Christmas. I really need to re-read it in order to understand how it captured my imagination.

Your top five authors:

I think the authors who inspired me when I was younger are the ones I hold closest to my heart. At first I was overwhelmed by their genius, as I saw it, but eventually I understood that I would never write like them, which was how it should be. They inspired me to find my own voice/s. Toni Morrison and Derek Walcott are the ones who have stayed favourites since my 20s.

Book you've faked reading:

I probably have, but nothing springs to mind. It's strange that we live in a society where we feel that as writers we should have read certain books, usually from the traditional canon, which I rejected at a young age. I somehow think that if I had been immersed in the canon in my formative years, I'm unlikely to have become an experimental writer. I had to find my own way through literature--as reader and writer.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, who arrived in the U.K. from Nigeria in the '60s. She was Britain's most prolific black writer for a very long time but she was terribly overlooked. When I read The Joys of Motherhood, I felt as if I was learning something about my father's Nigerian mother, whom I never met. Set in Nigeria in the first half of the 20th century, it follows the life of Nnu Ego, a woman whose pre-ordained role in life is to be married off by her father and give birth to sons. Her choices are limited, her education non-existent, but she makes the best of the fate handed to her in her little community. Like my grandmother, Nnu Ego is an illiterate petty trader living in Lagos and, like my grandmother, she loses her children, some of whom go to live overseas. This is a brilliant, fascinating, thought-provoking read.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I think I must have done but I can't remember which ones.

Book you hid from your parents:

None that I remember.

Book that changed your life:

Self-help and motivational books that I read in my 30s such as Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and Mindstore by Jack Black.

They were truly life-changing in that they helped me examine myself in ways that were new to me, such as how to be a better version of myself or how to dream big and work towards achieving it, and how to develop a positive outlook.

Favorite line from a book:

"The jet bores like a silverfish through volumes of cloud -/ clouds that will keep no record of where we have passed,/ not the sea's mirror, nor the coral busy with its own/ culture; they aren't doors of dissolving stone,/ but pages in a damp culture that come apart." --from Midsummer by Derek Walcott

Five books you'll never part with:

All my Morrison and Walcott books--Beloved and Midsummer chief among them. for coloured girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange, another seminal influence on my early writing for theatre--my first career. Independent People by Halldór Laxness, which I read the first time I visited Iceland about 20 years ago and wanted some insight into the country and its history. Published in the '30s, it's about a struggling sheep farmer, Guðbjartur Jónsson, and I found it utterly engrossing and fascinating. My original copy of The Bone People by Keri Hulme. Many of the black women's anthologies that I read in the '80s such as Gap Tooth Girlfriends, a collection of black women's poetry edited by Alexis de Veaux, and Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology edited by Barbara Smith. Also the books of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Michelle Cliff, Gloria Naylor. These writers were lifesavers for my younger self and were the only ones who centered black women in their pages.

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

The Road by Cormac McCarthy--for its bleak, haunting, poetic, devastating beauty.

Book Review

Review: Lincoln and the Fight for Peace

Lincoln and the Fight for Peace by John Avlon (Simon & Schuster, $30 hardcover, 368p., 9781982108120, February 15, 2022)

One of the unquestioned tragedies of American history was the death of Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865, assassinated less than a week after the end of the Civil War. In Lincoln and the Fight for Peace, CNN political analyst and anchor John Avlon offers a highly readable survey of Lincoln's program for Reconstruction. He describes the disastrous turn that process took after Lincoln's death and reveals the influence the 16th president's approach to dealing with defeated enemies has had in the century and a half since his death.

Lincoln began his second term on March 4, 1865, with a 701-word inaugural address Avlon (Washington's Farewell) describes as a "meditation on war and peace, race and reconciliation, sin and redemption." The president had formulated a thoughtful plan for concluding the conflict whose end was nearing, while simultaneously confronting the daunting challenges of its aftermath. His insistence on the Confederacy's unconditional surrender was coupled with a generous program he hoped would allow the speedy recovery and reintegration into the Union of a post-slavery South. But with Lincoln's sudden death, his successor, Andrew Johnson, a man of flawed character who was "the opposite of Lincoln in all things except humble beginnings," pursued an incoherent, and ultimately disastrous, set of policies. These represented "an abandonment of equal rights and near-capitulation to the Confederates," undermining any hope of racial equality in the region for more than a century.

Avlon chooses not to end his book on this disheartening note. In its final section, he briefly explores how the country's leaders have responded to the peacetime challenges that followed the First and Second World Wars, as viewed through the lens of Lincoln's approach to governing. He argues that those, like Woodrow Wilson and the Allied leaders after World War I, who did not follow Lincoln's path (i.e., "unconditional surrender followed by a magnanimous peace") and instead opted for "premature peace negotiations with a policy of retribution" doomed their efforts to failure. He contrasts that failure with the successful rebuilding of Germany and Japan following World War II, an effort more consistent with the Lincoln model.

All this is presented in a crisp, journalistic style. Avlon draws liberally on contemporaneous accounts to bring events to life, for example, in describing Lincoln's visit to Richmond, the Confederate capital, after it fell to the Union forces. Harry Truman, whose family was on the losing side of the Civil War, once said, "The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know." Leaders and curious readers unfamiliar with the leadership qualities that made Abraham Lincoln great will find some of them revealed in this useful handbook. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: John Avlon analyzes Abraham Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction and explains how the country's leaders have ignored, or been guided by, his example in later conflicts.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Reading, Happiness, Anxiety & Short-Term Adult Well-Being

Write down your concerns and be surprised at how quickly they dissolve when you read them on paper.

--The Little Book of Calm by Paul Wilson

You know the scene. In the first episode of the classic British comedy series Black Books, a man rushes into the bookshop and desperately asks Bernard Black for a copy of The Little Book of Calm. Customer requests not being Bernard's strong suit, the situation unfolds as expected, leaving the frazzled patron, Manny (Bill Bailey), only marginally better off for having acquired a copy. 

Things get more complicated for Manny later at his workplace when he accidentally swallows the book. In the hospital, his doctor (Martin Freeman) breaks the news that "somehow you assimilated it into your system overnight." For a brief time, Manny the Calm arises from the hospital bed to dispense wisdom. When his tenuous well-being is literally knocked out of him, he takes the only rational course available by starting a new job as a bookseller... at Black Books

I thought about Manny when I read this recently: "Consuming traditional forms of media--including books, music and television--has little effect on short-term adult well-being, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Vienna and Nesta published in Scientific Reports. It is often assumed that engaging with traditional types of media improves well-being, while using newer types of media, such as social media, worsens well-being. However, evidence of traditional media consumption improving well-being has been lacking."

Putting aside (for Manny's sake) the press release's use of the word "consuming," I couldn't help recalling all of those other studies in recent years proclaiming variations on a theme of "reading fiction for fun improves language skills, study reveals" or "reading fiction increases empathy and encourages understanding." What's a book reader to think?

This latest study examined the media consumption habits and well-being levels of 2,159 U.K. adults between April and May 2020, during the pandemic. Weekly surveys were conducted, with participants reporting the time they had spent engaging with music, television, films, video games, books, magazines and audiobooks "and their happiness and anxiety levels during the previous day." 

Lead author Dr. Niklas Johannes of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, said, "There is a popular misconception that all forms of new media have a negative impact on our mental health but consuming traditional media such as reading books, is good for us. Yet that isn't necessarily the case, as our latest research shows."

The paper contends that "changes in the types of media people consumed and the amount of time people spent engaging with traditional media were not associated with substantial changes in anxiety or happiness levels. Together, the findings suggest that the overall impact of consuming traditional media on short-term well-being are negligible."

Dr. Johannes added: "There is a dominant narrative that all forms of new media are bad for you and using traditional forms of media is good for your mental health. But our findings show that the overall impact of traditional media on short-term well-being is minimal. It's really important that we try to shift the debate away from such an elitist view and look at other factors that influence peoples' general well-being."

I have suspicions about the concept of "short-term well-being" when applied to reading books. Happiness? Anxiety? Those aren't words I'd burden my reading expectations with either. The last six books I read were Louise Erdrich's The Sentence; Damon Galgut's The Promise; Sandrine Colette's The Forests; Amanda Lohrey's The Labyrinth; Joy Williams's Harrow and Muriel Barbery's A Single Rose, all of which, I believe, were good for my long-term well-being. If they sparked anxiety sometimes, they meant to. And happiness came from encountering great reads. It's complicated.

I don't mean for this to be a new media bad/traditional media good take, but I keep thinking about the strangeness of that word happy in the latest study. Which leads me, of course, to a book: Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to Happiness. In his chapter on reading, Bailey observes: "For the avoidance of doubt, I am writing about reading, as in 'interpreting the written word with your eyes or, if blind, fingers,' not Reading, the town in Berkshire. Which is not to say that Reading has not been a source of happiness. Indeed, I have spent many happy times there.... 

"There are days when we have the time and the need to lose ourselves in a book. I consume books and the written word like homemade brownies; I revel in being gripped by the twists and turns of a thriller, being immersed in a classic or a biography, fascinated by a feature, a column, even the instructions that accompany a vegetable steamer.

"There are many scholarly articles which list the benefits of reading, ranging from having a greater vocabulary to being more thoughtful towards others, or even broadening your outlook on life generally. Novels in particular can allow you to visualize and imagine scenarios you might find yourself in, so that you rehearse how you might react to those situations in real life."

On the other hand, it was through newish media (specifically Facebook and YouTube) that I learned, in December 2020, that Bailey had become the unlikely winner of the British TV competition program Strictly Come Dancing. That was indeed a moment of profound happiness with no anxiety attached, and definitely improved my short-term well-being. 

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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