Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 11, 2022


Disney Lucasfilm Press: Star Wars: The High Republic Path of Deceit by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

Ballantine Books: Central Places by Delia Cai

MIT Press: Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger

Holiday House: Owl and Penguin (I Like to Read Comics) by Vikram Madan; Noodleheads Take it Easy by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss

Blackstone Publishing: Ezra Exposed by Amy E. Feldman

Clavis: Fall Preview

News

Cincy Book Bus Adding the Book Bus Depot in Sharonville, Ohio

Cincy Book Bus, the mobile bookstore (built out of a 1962 VW Transporter truck) based in Cincinnati, Ohio, will be adding a more stationary location, the Book Bus Depot, later this year, on Reading Road in Sharonville. Melanie Moore launched the Book Bus in 2019.

In an Instagram post, Moore noted: "EXCITING NEWS!! We closed on a building today that will be the future home of the Book Bus Depot!! It's located in old Sharonville on, funny enough, Reading Road. What is The Depot? It will be an event space that houses a bookstore featuring both new and used books and more importantly, it will house The Book Bus truck. That's right! You'll be able to shop the truck during rain, cold, snow, any time of the year inside The Depot! I'll have set hours a couple days a week and also host scheduled events for local book clubs, authors, out of towners who want to visit etc. Will The Book Bus still be popping up around the city? Absolutely! I will continue to do pop up events at coffee shops around the city just like always. This new space just means you'll have more chances to visit The Book Bus!! Yahoo!!"


Ebony Magazine Publishing: Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments by Carell Augustus


International Update: PA's New Pub Industry Video Campaign, U.K. Indie Booksellers Launch Book Festival

In the U.K., the Publishers Association has released a new video intending to showcase the value of the publishing industry. The video is the first content "linked to a new narrative that aims to help communicate the publishing industry's personal, social, economic and innovative value to a range of audiences including policymakers," the PA noted. 

The contents of the video touch on consumer, academic and education publishing with perspectives from authors, educators and booksellers regarding the industry's positive impact. A series of content and campaigns linked to the narrative will be released over the course of 2022. 

"The publishing industry is a major employer and investor that has successfully transitioned to the digital age," said PA CEO Stephen Lotinga. "Publishing is the heartbeat of the creative industries, the bedrock of the knowledge and research economy, and central to learning and discovery. This new video aims to help tell the industry's story and is the first content linked to an exciting new industry narrative." 

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Two Brighton bookshop owners, Carolynn Bain of Afrori Books and Ruth Wainwright of the Feminist Bookshop, are launching a book festival this summer to amplify "a wide spectrum of voices." The Bookseller reported that "both bookshops have fostered communities of socially engaged readers in their local area since they opened their doors in 2020 and 2019 respectively." Featuring 15 to 20 events at selected venues, the three-day festival will be held June 24-26, highlighting the literary scene in Brighton and Hove. 

"Our aim is to inspire and enable writers at every stage in their careers to share their work and to champion the power of the written word to enrich and change lives," the founders said in a joint statement. "We seek to amplify a wide spectrum of voices, to connect readers and authors in new ways and to promote compelling and challenging writing, with special attention to work that engages with pressing social issues or that might otherwise be excluded or marginalized."

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Showcasing 10 charming book cafes in India, Lifestyle Asia noted that "nothing beats an afternoon spent curled up with a book in one hand and a cup of something warm and comforting in the other. These book cafes across India take it a notch further with an excellent selection of paperbacks, delicious nibbles, and an Insta-worthy ambience.

"When it comes to bibliophiles, self-care involves a stack of literary works, a cup of coffee, and a well-lit spot to enjoy. Although the magic of a few too many books at a library or a nostalgic activity at a corner of a bookstore have become a thing of the past, some spots across the country have lured avid readers in with their unique collection of publications and delicious nibbles." 

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Valentine's Day message from Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris, France: "Dear Lovers.. (both unrequited and/or head-over-heels) Come see us this weekend for all your Valentine's swooning material needs. Sadly no Kissing Booth this year, but we wholeheartedly encourage socially distanced winking through the bookshelves." --Robert Gray


University of California Press: Dictee (Second Edition, Reissue, Restored);  Exilee and Temps Morts: Selected Works (First Edition, Reissue) by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha


Readers' Garden Bookstore, Granville, Ohio, May Have to Bid to Keep Lease

Kim Keethler Ball, owner of Readers' Garden Bookstore in Granville, Ohio, may have to place a competitive bid to renew her store's lease in a building that is owned by the village of Granville, the Newark Advocate reported. 

The store's lease is up March 31, and the complication arises from the fact that Keethler Ball was elected to the Granville Village Council last November; council members must approve the village manager entering into the building's lease.

The Ohio Ethics Commission has stated in a letter that the village can renew the store's lease if it engages in competitive bidding and Keethler Ball is the "lowest and best bidder." Per the Advocate, she would also have to "meet a four-part exception, including the goods or services provided are necessary, services are provided under a contract that existed before Keethler Ball took office, the treatment Keethler Ball provides the village is the same as any other entity she does business with and the transaction is done at 'arm's length.' "

Keethler Ball has leased the space since April 2019, and at a village council meeting last week she said she hopes to "figure out a way to thread the needle," and she has no plans to either stop being a bookstore owner or to resign from the council. Her attorney and husband, David Ball, has argued that Keethler Ball should "only have to recuse herself from the discussion and vote on the lease's renewal."

For the moment, Granville law director Bill Mattes has said the council has to follow the steps in the Ohio Ethics Commission's opinion, but he will report back and figure out a way to move forward.

Keethler Ball bought the bookstore in 2019. It has been in its current home for close to 18 years and in Granville for 20 years.


Blair: A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter by Carolyn Hays


B&N College to Manage U. of Notre Dame Bookstores

Notre Dame's Hammes Bookstore

This spring, Barnes & Noble College will take over management of the five bookstore retail properties and online order fulfillment center at the University of Notre Dame. The stores will be closed over spring break, March 5-13, so management can transfer from Follett to BNC, which operates more than 770 campus bookstores and school-branded e-commerce sites, serving more than six million college students and faculty nationwide.

The change in bookstore management was announced last year and had been planned for this July. However, Notre Dame, Follett and BNC agreed to the earlier date. The university is planning a grand reopening of the newly refreshed store for the fall academic semester.  

"With several campus initiatives planned for the coming months, including two commencements (2022 and 2020), reunion, the 50th anniversary of undergraduate women and Title IX and the Billy Joel concert, having BNC management well-established at the bookstores will enhance the student, faculty and guest experiences, as well as allow for plenty of preparation leading into the fall 2022 term," said Micki Kidder, v-p for university enterprises and events. "Our bookstore colleagues are deeply valued members of the Notre Dame family and bring incredible knowledge of the bookstore operations."

Brian Stark, senior v-p of BNC, commented: "The vision for the bookstore is to create best-in-class retail destinations that the Notre Dame community will want to visit frequently to see what's new and different. Spring break is the start of turning this vision into reality." 


Graphic Mundi - Psu Press: Hakim's Odyssey by Fabien Toulme and Hanna Chute


Obituary Note: Sarah Swinburne White

Sarah Swinburne White, the bookseller, publisher and activist whose "contribution to educational, racial justice and social justice campaigns in Britain and internationally will never be forgotten," died on February 4 at the age of 80. 

In 1966 she and her partner John La Rose founded New Beacon Books in London, a publishing house, bookstore and book distributor created to serve the Black community in Britain. The bookstore, which has operated out of its home at 76 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, London, since the mid-1970s, also promoted books, authors and writing from the Caribbean and Africa.

In addition to operating the store for decades, White edited and proofread New Beacon titles and helped create and organize the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books. Run in conjunction with Bogle L'Ouverture Publications and Race Today Publications, the book fairs were held from 1982 to 1995. White would later edit and produce two books recording the book fairs.

White was also instrumental in the creation of the George Padmore Institute, an archive of the struggle of people of African, Caribbean and Asian descent in Britain. Named after Pan African activist George Padmore, the GPI was established on the floors above the New Beacon bookstore in 1991. White was the institute's secretary from its founding until last year. 

In 2013 she was the co-recipient of the first Bocas Henry Swanzy award from the Bocas Literary Festival in Trinidad and Tobago. White retired from the bookstore in 2016 and remained a director until 2019.

Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o said of White after her passing: "She and John are everything to me and our struggles."


Notes

Still Masking Up: Split Rock Books 

"Surprising no one, government rules about masks have changed yet again," Split Rock Books, Cold Spring, N.Y., posted on Facebook. "We will be continuing to require masks to enter the bookstore. Why? There is strong evidence that good masks prevent the spread of infection, and there are large swaths of the population that are not vaccinated including those who are not eligible yet like our littlest bookseller. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation. Mask modeling by staff member Emily."


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular January Books

The two most popular books in January at Reading Group Choices were Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict (Sourcebooks Landmark) and Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books).


Media and Movies

Movies: The Boys in the Boat; Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Additional cast members have been named for George Clooney's long-awaited adaptation of Daniel James Brown's 2013 book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Deadline reported. 

Joining Callum Turner are Joel Edgerton, Jack Mulhern, Sam Strike, Luke Slattery, Thomas Elms, Tom Varey, Bruce Herbelin-Earle, Wil Coban and Hadley Robinson. MGM, Spyglass and Smokehouse are partnering on the production with Clooney directing and Mark L. Smith writing the script.

Clooney and his Smoke House Pictures partner Grant Heslov are producing the project with Spyglass executive producing. Deadline noted that Clooney "has been eyeing this adaptation for some time and came close to directing last year, but when he had the opportunity to direct Tender Bar, he decided to shoot that first and positioned this as his follow-up project. Once Tender Bar was behind him, he set his sights on this and now has his cast in place with production set to start this month."

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Pop star Shawn Mendes will voice Lyle in Sony's movie adaptation of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, based on the classic children's book by Bernard Waber, Deadline reported. Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Winslow Fegley co-star. The film will be released November 18.

Will Speck and Josh Gordon are directing, from a script by Will Davies. The project marks the first role in a major studio film for Mendes, a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum singer/songwriter. 

Speck & Gordon are producing alongside Hutch Parker. Dan Wilson is executive producing for Hutch Parker Entertainment and Kevin K. Vafi for Speck & Gordon. The film's executive producers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote original songs for the film alongside Mendes, Ari Afsar, Emily Gardner Xu Hall, Mark Sonnenblick, and Joriah Kwamé. 


On Stage: Old Heart

The stage adaptation of Old Heart (Unbridled Books), Peter Ferry's 2015 novel, opens May 14 at the Redford Theater in Detroit, Mich. The play will travel in the U.S. as well as the Netherlands.

Directed by Karl King, Old Heart tells the story of American GI Tom Johnson, who joins forces with 24-year-old Sarah van Praag and the Dutch resistance during World War II to smuggle food and supplies from the liberated south across Nazi lines to starving cities in the northern Netherlands. Their brief love affair collapses at the war's end, and 60 years later Johnson, about to be sent off to assisted living by his family, disappears on a flight to Amsterdam. While his children desperately try to locate him, Johnson is determined to track down Sarah.

"We are thrilled to feature a remarkable Midwestern cast for the premiere," said Roger Rapoport, who adapted Ferry's novel for the stage. 

"Like so many readers, I was knocked about by Ferry's novel," added King. "Old Heart is a wonderful story that illuminates the courage of two young people fighting to save lives in a divided country at the war's end. It's a privilege to bring it to Detroit audiences."



Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Children's Book Shortlist

An 18-title shortlist across three categories has been released for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2022, chosen by booksellers working for the chain. Category winners receive £2,000 (about $2,735), then vie for the overall title of Waterstones Children's Book of the Year and an extra £3,000 (about $4,100). Winners will be announced March 31. Check out the complete shortlist here.

Waterstones head children's buyer Florentyna Martin said: "At a time when books are increasingly relied on to help us navigate an uncertain world, our booksellers have keenly chosen shortlists that inspire readers. Offering varied perspectives on themes of belonging and identity, the shortlisted books invite young readers to find comfort in familiar communities, discover engaging new worlds, or adventure to the unknown, all while being guided by unique, life-changing and relatable characters. The skill and talent of these writers and illustrators showcases the dynamism of children's books, and the power of sharing stories."


Reading with... Jessica P. Pryde

photo: James Galloway-Reed

Jessica Pryde is the co-host of the When in Romance podcast and a contributing editor to Book Riot. She is a librarian for a public library system in Southern Arizona, where she lives with her husband and an ever-growing collection of Funko!Pops. Black Love Matters (Berkley, February 1, 2022) is her first book, an anthology of essays about love as experienced by Black people, written by Black readers, writers and cultural commentators.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A group of brilliant, amazing people talk about romantic media, Blackness and the ways the representation of Black love is both amazing and found wanting.

On your nightstand now:

I am a polylibrous reader and often have books with very different tones going at the same time. I'm slowly making my way through the audiobook of Nikole Hannah-Jones's The 1619 Project, which is an eye-opening look at events in history that we never explored in school. I'm going to have to get the print version just to take notes in the margins. My fun book is Nadine Gonzalez's Scandal in the VIP Suite. I've been trying to read more category romance, because they are short, succinctly written and delightful, and this one about a writer and a film star--both people of color--ticked all my boxes.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I think it's a tie between the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol and The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone and Michael J. Smollin. I was that kid who always wanted to solve the problem and learn stuff--I still remember that Brown was who taught me that Istanbul used to be called Constantinople! And the twist at the end of Monster? Set me up for Big Reveals for life. I live for a twist.

I also have to shout out Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe for being that one book in my classroom library that I would always come back to, just to flip through for the gorgeous artwork. I never had my own copy, but mourned when I moved to fourth grade because I wouldn't be able to peruse its pages. No book since has topped it for its gorgeousness.

Your top five authors:

You mean my top five this week? Kidding. I have many loves, but my Drop Everything And Read authors are Katrina Jackson, Talia Hibbert, Helen Hoang, Christina C. Jones, and Phoebe Robinson. The first four are romance authors and all write stories and characters that bring me immense joy, even when they're tearing me apart with Feelings and Angst. Phoebe's essay collections have all made me laugh nonstop, and listening to them on audio is like chatting with your BFF. All five have found me at the absolute perfect time, when I needed to laugh, or cry, or groan, or yell. And they all have guaranteed happy endings, whether they're the required happily ever after of a romance novel or the satisfying reflective conclusion of an essay collection.

Book you've faked reading:

Does my Latin textbook count? Only college class I ever signed up for at 9 a.m. and it was Latin. I'm sure there are a few classics that I feel like I've read, but never actually made it through, like Great Expectations or, dare I say it, Sense and Sensibility. I recall starting them, and I know everything that happens in them, but did I actually read them, or do I just remember things as they happened in film adaptations? I guess no one will ever know.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I love recommending books--I even co-coordinate a personalized recommendation service at my library!--and the one I will find a way to mention in any multitude of situations is Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea. Every element was enrapturing: the stories within stories, the twists and turns of destiny, and the way Erin can just put together a sentence. Like, masterclass words.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The last WIR book club pick of 2021 was Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner, which is a rare Regency-set historical romance in which neither of the protagonists is a duke. (He is the son of an earl, though.) I have the e-book, but the author recently re-released it with an absolutely gorgeous cover. The textured artwork by Kanaxa is glorious, but it's more about the heroine, displayed alone on the cover. She's fat. Truly, happily, visibly fat. It's beautiful.

Book you hid from your parents:

Looking back, my mother probably knew that I--ever the precocious 11-year-old--was grabbing her Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey books when she was finished with them and left me in peace. But I liked to think I was being sneaky.

Book that changed your life:

I didn't realize what was missing from my life until I picked up Beverly Jenkins's Destiny's Embrace, the first book in a series set in Reconstruction-era California. Not only was it the first historical romance I'd ever picked up centering two Black characters, but it was set in a world where Black people were living healthy, rich lives in community with each other. And while racism wasn't absent, its presence wasn't central to the story. The absolute joy of reading a love story about people like me, like my family, like my history, changed the course of my life and my reading forever.

Favorite line from a book:

"Sure, sex is fun, but have you ever read a romance novel?"

The "Lesbian Bed Death" chapter in Samantha Irby's Wow, No Thank You. is a hilarious group of one-liners about some of the mundane elements of grown-up life, and this one made me cackle as I listened (because like Phoebe Robinson, Samantha Irby is yet another essayist whose books you should always listen to first). And while there are countless lines from books that have left an impression on me, this is the one that always comes to mind.

Five books you'll never part with:

I rarely reread, but often find myself keeping books that create some visceral reaction within me just to hold or see. The five that stand out most are Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: The Illustrated Edition by Dee Brown; An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole; The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis; If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson; and my signed copy of Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon. (Actually, I think I have signed books from every author except for Dee Brown, which makes sense.)

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

The first time I read If You Come Softly, it was shortly after we learned about Trayvon Martin. After devouring the book in a matter of hours and spending an unknown amount of time sitting on the floor against my couch, sobbing, I remember dissociating for a day or two. It was just all too much; the injustice, the pain. I don't want to say that the combined experience hurt my reading of the book; in fact it made it all the more intense. But I wish I'd been able to read that book for the first time in a world completely set apart from the one in which we currently reside, so I could experience the joy of young love and the pain of first loss, while not being so soundly brought down by the experience.


Book Review

Review: Tasha: A Son's Memoir

Tasha: A Son's Memoir by Brian Morton (Avid Reader Press, $28 hardcover, 208p., 9781982178932, April 12, 2022)

In Tasha, Brian Morton (Florence Gordon) offers up a biography wrapped in a memoir, an attempt to understand the complex and complicated woman his late mother was through the lens of his equally complex and complicated relationship with her while she still lived.

Morton starts with his own understanding of his mother, "like a child in many ways... [never good] at knowing her own limitations or thinking ahead." He recalls her harebrained adventures as a young mother, their strained but never estranged relationship as he became an adult, and later her slow decline into depression and "despondency" following the sudden death of her husband, Morton's father. "When you're young, it's hard to see your parents in context," Morton writes. "Your parents are the context." Following years of complicated caregiving as his mother aged, and her eventual death, he yearns to understand Tasha as "much more than the sum of her eccentricities." Thus was born Tasha, an attempt "to see her whole, as I didn't succeed in doing when she was alive."

Tasha Morton was the first-ever copy girl at a local newspaper. She left home to make it on her own as a teenager, changing her name in the process. She paused her education for 10 years to mother her two children before eventually earning a master's degree and starting a career as a teacher in her 40s. She attended the board of education meetings in her town every week, served on the board for 20 years until the age of 80, and kept attending meetings even after failing to win re-election in 2005. She organized against racist redlining practices in her town. And the list goes on and on.

Tasha, though, is not merely a catalogue of the great woman's accomplishments; Morton offers this up as context before focusing more fully on his mother's eventual stroke and slow decline toward death. What emerges in this story is both specific to the Morton family and also universal, reflecting on how people's relationships with their parents change with age; what caregiving looks like for (and demands of) caregivers; how U.S. systems fail to look after, or frankly even respect, the elderly; and how we remember and honor those who came before us and made us what we are today. Tasha is a beautiful and kind, if not always nice, tribute to a mother from her son, told with a quality of self-reflective honesty that is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer

Shelf Talker: From the author of Florence Gordon comes a moving memoir of a son's relationship with his complicated mother as he attempts to understand her life more fully following her death.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Who Do You Love, and How Will You Tell Them?'

Words matter, especially where love is concerned. In a recent e-newsletter, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif. noted: "Ah yes, there's nothing like a good love story, especially with Valentine's Day on the horizon. But we don't just mean Romance stories; love can happen in any genre, even in Sci-Fi and Horror. And love doesn't have to be all sunshine and rainbows (even though that would be pretty rad). It can be complicated, messy, or just plain frustrating. It can even take on different forms, like the love between a parent and child, the love for a friend, or the love for oneself."

At Books Inc. in the Marina, San Francisco

When it comes to Valentine's Day, it's all about three words, which have been used--and misused--on this particular holiday since we were children. "I love you." A fine sentence, infinitely complex, filled with emotions and history and variety, yet also quite simple and declarative. 

The commercial side of Valentine's Day complicates matters, of course. According to WalletHub's 2022 Valentine's Day survey, total spending in the U.S. is projected to be $23.9 billion ($175.41 per person celebrating), though 71% of respondents said they had spent less money on their love life since the Covid-19 pandemic began. On the other hand, 39% said they "got richer in love since last Valentine's Day" and 58% said romantic gestures are more important to them now than they were pre-pandemic; so there's that.

What are they buying? The usual suspects: candy (56%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), evening out (31%), jewelry (22%), clothing (22%) and gift cards (21%). 

Valentine's display at Barbara's Bookstores in Chicago.

What, no books? They weren't looking at my e-mail and social media feeds lately, which have gravitated magnificently toward the bookish side of love, though with plenty of retail space for greeting cards, candy and gift cards (or a combo platter, as Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., is offering). 

Blind dates with books have become a Valentine's Day staple, of course, including variations on the theme from Plaid Elephant Books, Danville, Ky.; the Strand bookstore in New York City; Nowhere Bookshop, San Antonio, Tex.; A Novel Idea, Philadelphia, Pa.; the Book Loft of German Village, Columbus, Ohio; and the Book & Cover, Chattanooga, Tenn. 

Here's a sampling of a few other creative indie Valentine's Day options: 

Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.: "As we promised/hinted/teased, we're officially unveiling our Valentine's Day offering: an old-school way for you to find the ideal companion who won't end up being a dud. Pick the dating profile that's most appealing to you, and we'll find a paperback that's just right. After you get your book (at our shop IRL or via #AvidSnailMail), all you need to do is light a candle, set yourself up with *your* favorite drinks and snacks (no need to cater to your date's tastes--this is about YOU), and crack open your new read."

The Literary Book Bar, Champaign, Ill.: "Galentine's Day Brunch at The Literary! It's a real thing, and it's happening Saturday, February 12th and Sunday, February 13th!! Celebrate the best gals in your life with our (super) waffle special and our Galentine's Day Bloody Marys. No reservation necessary. Ovaries before Brovaries, you poetic, noble land mermaids!"

A reminder from Posman Books.

Author's Note Bookstore, Medina, N.Y.: "What's more romantic than a bookstore? To get in on the spirit of Valentine's Day, we're inviting you to bring a date to Author's Note on Friday, February 11th and Saturday, February 12th. Present your date at the checkout counter, and we'll present you with chocolate rose pops from Della's*. (*Minimum purchase of $15 required. Money can't buy you love, but it does buy chocolate.)"

Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: "We're careening uncontrollably towards A Charming Weekend, our annual acknowledgement of the Hallmark-inspired national holiday known to many as Valentine's Day.... You can fly solo or come with a date or a group of friends--just make your way to New Bohemia this weekend to spend a moment in our charming little bookshop. You'll love it here!"

RJ Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn.: "Where my single people at? With pre-holiday hype relentlessly reminding us that 'love is in the air' come February, enough already with Cupid, red hearts, and chocolate boxes everywhere! Well, maybe not the chocolate because that is delicious every day of the year. So this Valentine's Day, may I suggest treating your own damn self to a Just the Right Book subscription!... Book selections I hope you love at first sight or that you fall for over time."

Deadtime Stories, Lansing, Mich.: "Whether you're shopping for a Valentine, a Galentine, or practicing a bit of self care, we've got the PERFECT gifts for the season of love! Come snag a beautifully macabre floral arrangement from @wolfbrickflowers and @sugarcoatedbykristin's infamous serial killer cookies! There's a 100% chance that someone you love loves true crime, and there's no better place to shop for them than Deadtime Stories and The Screamatorium!"

One of my favorite Valentine's Day word-gifts for readers this year arrived in an e-newsletter from New York City's McNally Jackson bookstores, where head of operations Alison Glasgow wrote, in part: "Many of us had a bad holiday season. Mine wasn't worse, but it was pretty rough. Let's commiserate.... As a career bookseller, i.e. retail worker, and single mother, I realized I have never been good at Christmas. I am, however, great at Valentine's Day, because for me, it's not romantic. All my loves are Valentines. Aha! An opportunity. February 14th is my new holiday season. A way to truly express my gratitude.... Who do you love, and how will you tell them?"  

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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