Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 14, 2022

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books


Sweet Haven Books Opens in Miami, Fla.

Sweet Haven Books, carrying new and used titles in Spanish and English, has opened in Miami, Fla., the Miami Herald reported.

The store is located in Miami's historic Cauley Square neighborhood, and owner Patricia Medina and her husband, Jesús Castellat, sell books in all genres, with a focus on fiction, cookbooks, coffee-table books, self-help and titles pertaining to Florida and Miami history. There are titles for children and teens and a variety of nonbook items like educational toys, cloth dolls and brain teasers. The store's event programs include open mic nights and book club meetings, with two clubs established so far.

Some of the store's historical titles are first editions acquired with the help of local historian César Becerra, who guides public tours of the neighborhood on the first Saturday of every month. Castellat and Medina's fondness for history is also reflected in the store's furnishings. Instead of stocking books on conventional bookshelves, they decided to display titles on a variety of antique furniture pieces.

"This is a project of passion," Medina told the Herald. "I have my job, and my husband has his occupation. We have prices that are economical so people can buy more than one book."

The store's front deck features a few tables where customers are invited to sit, read, work and socialize. A local writer frequently works at the store and students do homework there on weekday afternoons. Medina also has a variety of snacks available.

"Besides being a bookstore, it's a place for everyone to feel comfortable," she said.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

Bliss Books & Wine Fundraising for Physical Location in Kansas City, Mo.

Bliss Books owners La'Nae Robinson and La'Nesha Frazier.

La'Nesha Frazier and La'Nae Robinson, co-owners of Bliss Books & Wine, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $40,000 with the goal of opening a physical location in Kansas City, Mo., in late spring. They announced the campaign in a social media post last week, noting: "With your help, we can begin our next chapter and set up shop in our beautiful brick-and-mortar location in midtown KC. Thank you again for believing in our dream and we look forward to celebrating with you on the other side!"

The sisters co-founded Bliss Books & Wine in May 2019, hosting quarterly pop-up events to test the market, generate buzz and establish connections within the community. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, they suddenly had no way to bring in revenue without the in-person events. A month later, they launched the Bliss Books & Wine website to feature books they had in stock slated for the pop-ups, ramped up their social media presence and increased online interactions with customers. 

In addition, they began hosting virtual book discussions, which evolved into book club meetings and author events, as well as virtual paint and sips, online writing workshops and community fundraisers. Now they are ready to take the next step. 

"So here we are," the sisters noted on their Kickstarter page. "We have this marvelous idea, a solid business plan, a community of excited patrons, and no place for them to patronize. Or do we??? (SPOILER ALERT: We've found a space!) What we need now is your help and your contributions to begin the next steps in bringing our dream to fruition. By contributing to our project, you're not only helping us deliver our bookstore and wine lounge, you're helping us deliver the gathering place the community longs for and deserves....

"We'd like to thank all of our partners within the Bliss community over the past 2.5 years. We appreciate you as major characters in our story and look forward to what's in store for us all. It is our sincere hope that this new space will allow us to reach a greater audience and continue our support of individuals and organizations like you."

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Case Western Reserve University Bookstore Moving

Operated by Barnes & Noble, the Case Western Reserve University Bookstore, Cleveland, Ohio, is moving from its current location on Euclid Ave., where it has been for 10 years, the Observer reported.

The store will move to space at 11434 Uptown Ave., a location that the university owns in the Uptown district. The bookstore plans to close on Friday, March 4, at the end of the day and reopen Monday, March 14, in its new site.

The Observer said that the bookstore's new space will be "much smaller" than its old space, reflecting what the school said are "current industry and consumer preferences," such as “virtual and hybrid stores." CWRU merchandise and trade books will still be sold at its new location, "but most other books will no longer be available for sale."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

Josie Smith New Events & Marketing Manager at Greenlight

Josie Smith

Josie Smith has joined Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., as events and marketing manager. Previously, Smith has worked as the events and social media coordinator for Madison Street Books in Chicago, Ill., and as a manager at Book Culture in New York City. Greenlight said that Smith is deeply enthusiastic about the future of independent bookstores and invested in continuing to connect the book world and local community in Brooklyn.

Obituary Note: Lani Forbes

Lani Forbes

YA author Lani Forbes died on February 3 after a nine-month battle with neuroendocrine cancer. She was 35.

Forbes's YA book series, the Age of the Seventh Sun, made its debut in 2020 with the release of The Seventh Sun, followed by The Jade Bones in 2021. The Seventh Sun was a finalist for the Realm Awards Book of the Year and won Best Debut, Best Young Adult and Best Epic Fantasy.

Forbes's conclusion to the Age of the Seventh Sun series, The Obsidian Butterfly, publishes tomorrow, February 15. Her publisher, Blackstone Publishing, recently acquired a new YA project from Forbes, which will be published eventually. Blackstone said that Forbes's passion was "showing readers the transformative and encouraging power of story on the human experience."

Josh Stanton, president & CEO of Blackstone Publishing, said, "We are devastated by Lani's passing, and we deeply mourn the loss of this exceptionally talented young writer, who gave so much to her readers. We are committed to keeping Lani's incredible legacy alive. Her powerful, captivating young adult novels will live on to be enjoyed and beloved by readers for generations to come."

On Thursday, February 17, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho, Forbes's hometown bookstore, is hosting a virtual event to celebrate Forbes's life, as well as the launch of The Obsidian Butterfly. The event will feature readings by authors in Forbes's author network.


Image of the Day: 'Solidarity Forever'

McNally Jackson in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted Sasha Fletcher in conversation with novelist Hilary Leichter at the the launch event for his debut novel, Be Here to Love Me at the End of the World (Melville House). The event closed with a group singalong--the audience and the speakers all sang "Solidarity Forever."

Personnel Changes at Bloomsbury; Penguin Young Readers

At Bloomsbury:

Jaclyn Sass has joined the company as sales manager, trade. She was previously a sales support representative at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Catherine Valdez has joined Bloomsbury as sales & marketing assistant.


James Akinaka has been promoted to digital marketing manager from digital marketing coordinator at Penguin Young Readers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Linsey Davis on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Linsey Davis, author of How High Is Heaven (Zonderkidz, $18.99, 9780310770060).

TV: Goosebumps

Disney+ has picked up Goosebumps, a live-action TV series based on R.L. Stine's books. Deadline reported that the project, "which has been in development since April 2020, hails from Scholastic Entertainment, the media division of Scholastic, Neal H. Moritz, producer of the Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2 films, and Sony Pictures TV."

The series is written by Nick Stoller and Rob Letterman, who also executive produce with Moritz, Pavun Shetty, Conor Welch, Iole Lucchese and Caitlin Friedman. Letterman directs the first episode. Sony Pictures Television Studios is the studio.

Books & Authors

Awards: Southern Book, PROSE Excellence, R.R. Hawkins Winners

The winners of the 2022 Southern Book Prize, honoring "the best Southern book of the year" as nominated by Southern indie booksellers and voted on by their customers, have been announced by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance:

Fiction: When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash (Morrow)
"Wiley Cash's latest novel is damn near the most perfect crime thriller I have ever had the pleasure to read. Propulsive and character driven, I could NOT put this one down, and I stayed up all night to finish it--my heart was pounding by the end." --Alissa Redmond, South Main Book Co., Salisbury, N.C.

Nonfiction: Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed)
"Margaret's weekly New York Times columns about culture in the South call out our many failures while describing in beautiful detail what makes our part of America so beautiful. Just when I think there's no possible way to capture the tension between the terrible and the special, Margaret's words are there to express what I am feeling." --Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

Children's: Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King Neil, illustrated by Charly Palmer (Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
"Everyone knows Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. What Keep Your Head Up does even better is show how you deal with the bad in a given day and even when a meltdown happens, how do you make good decisions going forward. I love Charly Palmer's artwork and the expressiveness he puts in the faces and postures of his characters." --Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.


The Association of American Publishers has announced the four Excellence winners of its annual PROSE Awards, which recognize best-in-class scholarly publications in four categories, as well as its overall prize, the R.R. Hawkins Award.

The winner of the Hawkins Award and the Excellence in Humanities Award is Duke University Press for Experiments in Skin: Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam by Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu.

PROSE chief judge Nigel Fletcher-Jones said in part about the winner: "the book clearly illustrates Faulkner's famous line, 'the past is never dead. It's not even past.' Experiments in Skin is a finely written amalgam of ethnography, military history, chemistry, and biomedicine that illuminates the links between the substantial modern day 'cosmeceutical' industry in Vietnam; the Vietnam War and its continuing toxic aftermath in the form of dioxin in the food chain; and the racist history of dermatological experimentation in both the U.S. and Vietnam that occurred around that war and continues to resonate to this day."

Winners in the other three categories are:

Biological & Life Sciences: Global Health Security: A Blueprint for the Future by Lawrence O. Gostin (Harvard University Press)
Physical Sciences & Mathematics: Atlas of Forecasts: Modeling and Mapping Desirable Futures by Katy Börner (The MIT Press)
Social Sciences: Halfway Home by Reuben Miller (Little, Brown)

Book Review

Review: Unlikely Animals

Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett (Ballantine Books, $28 hardcover, 368p., 9780593160220, April 12, 2022)

In Unlikely Animals, the wistfully charming tragicomedy from Annie Hartnett, a chorus of all-seeing ghosts tied to a cemetery in Everton, N.H., relates an offbeat saga of peculiar animals, missing people and family ties, set against the backdrop of the opioid crisis.

Since birth, 22-year-old Emma Starling has possessed the power to heal with her touch. When the med school dropout arrives back in tiny Everton, everyone assumes she's come to heal her father. Professor Clive Starling is dying of a brain disease so mysterious it can be diagnosed only via autopsy. Confusion and hallucinations are major symptoms. Dismissed from his job after an incident with invisible cats in his classroom, Clive now spends his days with the ghost of naturalist Ernest Harold Baynes. Baynes has suggestions for susceptible Clive, like ordering an $18,000 semi-domesticated Russian fox. The ghosts know Baynes is real and initially find Clive's predicament "both funny and sad, the kind of story we like best."

They're less amused after they learn Emma can't help Clive "edge the Grim Reaper out by a nose." Her hands have lost the healing touch. Instead, she's grappling with her resentment of her father for cheating on her mother, who wants Emma to forgive him. Her younger brother, a recovering heroin addict adrift in life, blames her for something she can't quite identify. She also ends up stumbling through a new job as substitute for a guileless, tactless class of fifth graders when their beloved teacher goes on leave during her husband's drug trial. Most confusing of all, Emma's former best friend Crystal has gone missing, and the entire town, except Clive, wants to write her off as dead of an overdose.

Loosely based on a real town and the obscure historical figure Baynes, Hartnett's (Rabbit Cake) multi-tendriled meditation on family and existential crises feels like a fairy tale--if fairy tales encapsulated all the messiness of real life. Through magical realism and strained relationships, the story perfectly captures the tone and texture of a town where life is inescapably colored by the opioid crisis. Pops of humor abound, especially in Emma's interactions with her students and the occasional moments when the ghosts give one of the animal characters the main point of view. This unapologetically genre-bending tribute to life, death and the beautiful weirdness found in both has potential to spark exceptional book club discussions. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Ghosts, whimsical animals living and dead, strained family ties and the opioid crisis provide a rich backdrop for this charming, sprawling small-town tragicomedy.

Deeper Understanding

The Future of Bookselling: Lori Barrientos Sanchez

Jeff Waxman

Almost 10 years ago, a sales rep named George Carroll--a great bookman who spent his career repping publishers to the Pacific Northwest--interviewed me for the first iteration of Shelf Awareness's Young Booksellers Focus, a series of interviews he conducted with eight young booksellers who represented his hope for "the future of bookselling."

After my first season on the road as the East Coast rep for Independent Publishers Group, I'm feeling a lot of the optimism that motivated George to begin this series a decade ago, and a growing certainty that the future of bookselling is booksellers. Everywhere I look, there are meaningful new takes on this industry. And, a decade later, I have the perspective to realize that people enter (and reenter!) at different stages of life: the "youths" in this business are not only young booksellers--folks of all ages will be the future of this culture, so I've taken it upon myself to continue George's work by interviewing people of every age who are just a few years into the good work of bookselling and are already changing the face of it.

Meet Lori Barrientos Sanchez, director of operations for the many shops of Busboys and Poets, and someone whose vision for the future of bookselling looks incredibly bright to me. --Jeff Waxman

Lori Barrientos Sanchez

Can you tell me a little about how you came to bookselling? And your role in the resurgence of independent bookselling in Washington, D.C.?

I would say it's been amazing to be a part of the resurgence in indie bookselling here in the District. I was the biggest bookworm as a kid, but never would've imagined I could live, work and breathe books. I grew up low-income, and so I always thought I needed to go into STEM or a more traditionally "professional" job to change that--I was the kid who insisted they would go straight to medical school after college. However, after getting a taste of wet lab work and experiencing the ableism of higher education, I moved back home to D.C. with a B.A. in Studio Art and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Busboys and Poets was just up the street and they were hiring.

Never in my wildest dreams did I envision joining such a dynamic, heartfelt and supportive industry and community like I did here in the D.C. independent bookselling scene. I started out at a part-time bookseller in August of 2018 and fell in love with the stacks, the customers and the vibe of indie bookstores; now I'm director of operations. Eight-year-old me is in awe that 25-year-old me can work in a bookstore and support myself that way--it's pretty damn neat. And it's been an honor being able to hire booksellers who, just like me, never knew they could do what we do as a job. My part in the resurgence here is really just trying to bring in underrepresented voices in bookselling and reflecting the very community we serve here in the District through our team and our bookstore offerings, and I'm elated to be able to foster and nurture the next generation of booksellers to come.

What book does your store have that most others wouldn't?

Oh gosh, okay, this is a hard one. I have got to shout out Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness and Tell Me About Sex, Grandma, two of Anastasia Higginbotham's gorgeous collage picture books that help parents/guardians/grown-ups talk to kids about hard topics like sex, death and racism. An adult title that I think is unique to us is another fav of mine, My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts by Resmaa Menakem.

What have you learned about the District from selling books there?

I think one of the biggest things I've learned is that our community is radical, doing the work needed to start change, and doing their best to raise the next generation with kindness and tenderness. I know these sound like huge declarations, but seeing the books that our customers special order, purchase and ask about warms my heart and makes me think maybe we're not totally doomed for the future.

What do you do when you're not in the store?

When I'm not in-store, I'm usually hanging out with my three-year-old beagle, Coco, or catching up on my recent obsession on streaming--anyone else disappointed as hell that Y: The Last Man was cancelled? I'm also trying to get back into my art groove--currently I'm trying to teach myself how to make a quilt to put my old college t-shirt collection to use. And I cannot lie: you can usually find me working on spreadsheets or orders at a local bar called Red Derby some weeknights (shout out to the crew over there!)

Who are your bookselling heroes? Who do you want to shout-out in the astoundingly strong D.C. bookselling scene?

Big time shout-out to Hannah Oliver Depp of Loyalty Bookstore. I am forever in awe of everything Hannah does (who has the time?!) and cannot tell you how amazing it was to meet a young Black woman with her own bookstore. It made me realize, well damn, maybe I could do that one day too! Hannah works so hard and has created a beautiful bookstore for folks here in the District to visit--whenever we don't have a book, I always send folks over to Loyalty.

Now, I also gotta shout out a couple names here at Busboys. My book buyer, Ellie Eaton, constantly amazes me! Ellie started with Busboys as a server way back when, and they switched over to the bookstore side and quickly climbed the ranks to become supervisor. When the pandemic first hit, we were all trying to figure out ways to stay afloat and support our booksellers--Ellie even offered up their own PTO in an attempt to support our booksellers back when we had no idea what was going to follow. We both came into our roles in November of 2020 as book buyer and director of operations together, with the pandemic looming and a Christmas shutdown here in the District that affected our busiest season of the year. I won't lie: I was worried as hell that we wouldn't be able to navigate these new waters, but Ellie has proven to be an amazing book buyer, coworker, number two and friend.

Finally, I want to shout out Kurt Stand, supervisor for our Hyattsville location. Kurt comes from New York City originally and was a bookseller back in the days when you could smoke indoors. He was my original supervisor when I joined Busboys, and he was the most welcoming and genuine boss, so supportive of me taking more responsibility and tasks around the bookstore, and quick to recognize my potential and my interest in bookselling from the beginning. Without that nurturing vibe, I'm not sure I would've been as steadfast in my journey in the bookselling industry. Kurt remains an amazing source of support for me, and I am proud to call him a coworker and friend.

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