Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 28, 2022

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine


ABA Officers on Equity, Transparency, Free Expression, the First Amendment

At the end of last week, the three officers of the American Booksellers Association board sent an e-mail to members officially introducing themselves and addressing a range of matters. They are the new president, Christine Onorati of WORD Bookstores, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J.; co-vice president and secretary Kelly Estep, Carmichael's Bookstore & Carmichael's Kids, Louisville, Ky.; and new co-vice president and secretary Angela Maria Spring of Duende District, Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, N.Mex.

Among highlights of the mailing:

  • Board meeting recaps will be posted in both Bookselling This Week and on Bookweb and will include the minutes "plus more detail."
  • A board-only e-mail been created so correspondence can be sent directly to all board members with one address.
  • The board will rotate sending letters among all directors on a bimonthly basis so members can hear from all of them and not just the president.
  • The board is continuing to host "board office hours" and will have a space at the Children's Institute in Phoenix, Ariz., June 20-22.

They emphasized that a priority is "looking at the work of the organization through the lens of equity in various ways, including equity amongst ourselves as booksellers, equity with publishers, and the equity of the book ecosystem in regard to Amazon and other threats to independent bookselling. It is part of our job as a Board to build upon the work of previous Boards to ensure continuity, which includes our commitment to equity and antiracism. This work continues to evolve as we gain more information, education, and feedback from membership and others, ensuring we offer the best tools and resources for member bookstores. Together we are building a stronger, more resilient ABA and independent bookstore industry."

They acknowledged a range of opinions among members about the changes concerning free expression, but indicated they are comfortable with their new limited approach, saying, "We have heard from members who support the decision and from those who have concerns about the decision or are opposed to it. We have read and discussed your emails, and heard that some feel your views have been dismissed. We understand how difficult that must feel. We hear your concerns, and are still secure in our stance. We have had lengthy conversations amongst our Board over these many months, some of them moderated by outside professionals. We have listened to our members, including those on the DEI and BAC committees, and we have made decisions based on these discussions and your feedback."

The officers also included a link to a board FAQ that gave some more explanations about the board's approach to free expression and the First Amendment.

Concerning the First Amendment--whose key part for the book world is that it forbids the government from "abridging the freedom of speech"--the board members argued that support of the First Amendment means the association would have to support what speech the government is seeking to censor, not just be against the government's effort to censor.

"Our discussions around the First Amendment collided with our stated goal of being antiracist and equitable," the FAQ reads in part. "The reason for this is that, mechanically, if the First Amendment retained its place and we followed it absolutely as its advocates within the membership would like us to, the ABA would not be positioned to condemn racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, and transphobic speech (and books), but might actually be compelled to support it. We believe forcing our BIPOC, transgender, and/or LGBTQIA2S+ booksellers to witness their trade association debate dehumanizing decisions such as these is unacceptable.

"ABA is not a government entity; we are free to condemn hate speech as a matter of organizational policy. Having the First Amendment in our organizational language kept us in a circular, unproductive debate about whether that was true. Taking it out allowed us to move forward with our work as a board and clarified our mandate in support of free expression to our CEO, whose responsibility is to interpret the Ends to the ABA staff and membership."

It concluded with a section of "key takeaways":

  • "ABA supports the First and the Fourteenth Amendment, that guarantees equal protection under the law, working together.
  • "ABA doesn't support speech that is racist, anti-semetic [sic], transphobic, homophobic, i.e. violates equal protection under the law or discrimination based on identity. ABA doesn't want to be compelled to protect hate speech nor do we want to participate in it.
  • "ABA provides resources to bookstores in support of their right to freedom of expression and to help them in the fight against book banning in their communities.
  • "ABA continues to support freedom of expression issues and join others in the fight against the current wave of book banning.
  • "ABA believes that bookstores have the right to curate their book selection as they see fit. ABA will continue to support bookstores with the resources to fight book banning battles in their communities."

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

Little City Books, Hoboken, N.J., Closes Uptown Pop-up

Little City Books in Hoboken, N.J., is closing its pop-up location inside Bwè Kafe in uptown Hoboken today. Located about a mile north of the bookstore's original location in downtown Hoboken, the 350-square-foot pop-up has been in business since January 2020.

In an Instagram post announcing the closure, Little City Books explained that while they "love and adore" the team at Bwè Kafe, they are closing the pop-up to focus on the downtown store, which is "busy busy busy." The pop-up's inventory was 30% off from February 24 until today.

The original Little City Books location opened on Independent Bookstore Day 2015 with the help of a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $23,000. A little over a year later, the 1,200-square-foot store expanded into an adjacent 800-square-foot storefront, which became the shop's children's annex.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Changes at the Book Worm in Powder Springs, Ga.

Since taking over The Book Worm in Powder Springs, Ga., in November 2020, owner Julia Davis has been slowly adding more new books as she diversifies the store's inventory

Davis, who is also a children's author, told the Marietta Daily Journal that the store's inventory was about 98% used when she started. Now that mix stands at about 80% used and 20% new, with most of those new titles consisting of books by diverse authors or books in languages other than English. She noted that although Powder Springs is a diverse town, that diversity was not reflected in the books that people would sell to the bookstore.

"Say, just, my culture, African-American women--anything history related, we don't usually give up, because it is so hard to find those history books," Davis explained. "So if you're just focusing on used books, or people bringing in used books, or trying to find used books, you're only going to find a small amount of diversity, a small amount of books in different languages, a small amount of books in different cultures."

Davis has partnered with schools and local businesses, including a general-goods store next door and a bartending school called Special Blends. The latter, Davis added, has even created custom cocktails for the Book Worm's book club meetings.

While the town's business community has been extremely supportive, Davis has faced some prejudice from shoppers and the community at large. She recalled that while she was learning the ropes from previous owner Susan Smelser, there were some elderly, white customers who frequented the store. Some of those customers have stopped visiting the store since she took over completely.

"It's sad that we're still in that state, that people will not shop based on the way someone looks" without even giving herself or the store a fair chance, she said.

Davis first visited the store in early 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic. When she told Smesler that it was her lifelong dream to open a bookstore of her own, Smelser told her that she was ready to retire and looking for someone to buy the business. Partly because of complications stemming from the pandemic, it took roughly 10 months for the ownership transition to take place.

Davis said her ultimate goal with the store is to create a place where "everybody can be able to walk here and find something that looks like them, something that they can learn from because it does look like them."

International Update: More South Korean Bookstores in 2021, Swedish Olympian Protests China's Treatment of Bookseller

South Korea had more than 2,500 bookstores by the end of 2021, a significant gain over 2019 figures, the Korea Herald reported, adding that the increase "was the first recorded since 2003, when the tally began."

According to the Handbook of Korean Bookstores, a biyearly publication by the Korea Federation of Bookstores Association, the total number of bookstores was 2,528 as of December last year, a 0.9% increase from 2,320 in 2019. The initial figure in 2003 was 3,589. 

The report added that the data gathering method has been expanded to count smaller bookstores located within another business establishment, such as department stores. "The revised Publication and Culture Industry Promotion Act was promulgated in August 2021, and this has played a pivotal role in marking definitions of bookstores, which we did not have before," a team manager at the KFOBA said. "This will hopefully lead to further discussions on how different types of bookstores outside the major realm can be protected and promoted." 


Angela Gui and Nils van der Poel

Nils van der Poel, a speedskater from Sweden who won two Olympic gold medals earlier this month in Beijing, has given one of them to Swedish bookseller and publisher Gui Minhai, who disappeared along with four colleagues in late 2015 after publishing books critical of the Chinese government. He was later sentenced to 10 years in prison after a secretive, unfair trial, Amnesty International reported. In protest against human rights violations in China, van der Poel handed the men's 10,000-meter speed skating medal to Angela Gui, daughter of the detained bookseller. 

"Nils van der Poel was a sporting champion at the Olympics, and today he is a champion of human rights. His brave decision to take a stand against China's crackdown on freedom of expression should spur governments into action on this urgent issue," said Alkan Akad, Amnesty International's China Researcher. "While China uses the Olympic and Paralympic Games to burnish its global image, millions suffer from its human rights violations: the Uyghurs held in internment camps; the sexual abuse survivors targeted for speaking up; or those like Gui Minhai who have been jailed simply for advocating views the government does not like."

Van der Poel said: "I am not the voice of all Olympians, but me and my friends dedicated our lives to strive for excellence within sports, and the Chinese government chose to use our dreams as a political weapon to legitimize their regime. To me that was personal, and I felt exploited. I wish for the human rights issues in China to improve and for Gui Minhai to be set free. It's a lot to ask but it is the only reasonable thing to ask."

Angela Gui added: "I would of course have preferred a situation in which doing this wasn't necessary in the first place. But it feels important to me that this medal represents solidarity with political prisoners like my father, and the countless other victims of Beijing's human rights violations," 


Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan is calling on members for volunteers to help form a sub-committee to consider diversity issues in the book industry. "I don't want to be proscriptive," he wrote in the latest ABA e-newsletter. "The sub-committee will have to establish its terms of reference and have written guidelines setting out its role, purpose and responsibilities, and will need to report back to the ABA board. I will be as involved as the sub-committee requires, but I won't be running this. It has to be owned by the ABA board (which includes myself) and the sub-committee members."

Egan noted that 6-12 members are needed, and he "would like booksellers of diverse/minority background to participate. The sub-committee will need to establish a chair, determine who will record minutes, the frequency of meetings, and as above, its role and purpose. The method and duration of appointment to the sub-committee will also need to be determined. Initially I foresee this will be an advisory committee that will not be delegated the authority to act independently of the ABA board."

He added: "I'll be reaching out to my friends in the U.K., N.Z. and the U.S. to catch up on their work on diversity to see what we might learn from them." --Robert Gray


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Meghan O'Rourke on Fresh Air

CBS Mornings: Frank Bruni, author of The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found (Avid Reader Press, $28, 9781982108571). He will also appear tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Fresh Air: Meghan O'Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (Riverhead, $28, 9781594633799).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Bob Odenkirk, author of Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama: A Memoir (Random House, $28, 9780399180514).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Harvey Fierstein, author of I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir (Knopf, $30, 9780593320525).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Ciara and Russell Wilson, authors of Why Not You? (Random House, $18.99, 9780593374405).

Movies: State of Terror

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and co-author Louise Penny "are set to make their explosive blockbuster debut as producers of an upcoming movie adaptation of their novel State of Terror," Entertainment Weekly reported. They will serve as executive producers and consultants on the project, in collaboration with Hell or High Water producer Gigi Pritzker's independent media company Madison Wells (The Eyes of Tammy Faye). A release date, as well as cast and crew details, have yet to be announced.

"I am thrilled that my production company, HiddenLight, and I will be working with Madison Wells on this project," Clinton said. "It's particularly exciting to be collaborating with such a talented team of women and we couldn't be more excited to see this story come to life."

Penny added: "Just when I thought co-writing State of Terror with my amazing friend Hillary could not get more exhilarating, along comes the remarkable opportunity to work with Gigi and Rachel at Madison Wells. Talk about badass women! Together we promise to create a production that will entertain, thrill, give pause for thought and perhaps even laughter, move the viewers, and break boundaries. Onward!"

Books & Authors

Awards: New-York Historical Society Zalaznick Winner; Aspen Words Shortlist

American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 by Alan Taylor (Norton) has won the New-York Historical Society's $50,000 Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History, honoring the "best book of the year in the field of American history or biography."

Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, chair of Society's board of trustees, said that American Republics "richly illustrates how the difficulties surrounding our nation's birth were as complicated and vexing as the issues that challenge and divide us today. Deeply-researched and utterly frank in its analysis of our American origins, the book helps us to make sense of our complicated history, so that we can be better informed as we strive for a more progressive society."


The shortlist has been announced for the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize, sponsored by the Aspen Words program of the Aspen Institute and honoring "a work of fiction that illuminates vital contemporary issues." The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on April 21 in New York City. The 2022 shortlist:
The Arsonists' City by Hala Alyan (HMH/HarperCollins)
The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton (37 Ink/S&S)
The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade (Norton)
What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chancy (Tin House)
What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad (Knopf)

Top Library Recommended Titles for March

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 March titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Q. Sutanto (‎Berkley, $26, 9780593440766). "The Chan family is back! Meddy Chan is getting married, and the wedding planners are perfect--until Meddy overhears the wedding photographer talking about murdering someone at the reception. Her aunties spring into action, setting into motion a series of madcap misadventures intended to save Meddy's special day. A charming combo of close-knit family, humor, and light mystery; great for fans of Mia P. Manansala and Jade Chang." --Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Ill.

A Brush with Love: A Novel by Mazey Eddings (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, 9781250805980). "This debut romance set at a dental school includes some wonderful laugh-out-loud moments and also those that brought me to tears. Harper's anxiety is portrayed truthfully and tenderly, and Dan has some baggage too. For fans of The Happy Ever After Playlist and The Bride Test." --Rebecca Swanson, Fitchburg Public Library, Fitchburg, Wis.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (Tor, $26.99, 9780765389121). "As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the U.S., the only job Jamie can find is delivering food, until he begins to work for a secret NGO preserving large animals. What Jamie didn't know is just how large. Scalzi has taken creatures portrayed as monsters in the movies and made us care, with plenty of his usual wit and humor. For fans of Jurassic Park, Devolution, and Jeff VanderMeer." --Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, N.C.

The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton (Berkley, $16, 9780593200186). "In this sequel to The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, Charlotte is one serious witch who knows via prophecy that she will one day lead the Wicken League. But when a handsome Irish pirate catches her eye, she may bring the wrath of the entire clan of witches down on her. Filled with wit and an intriguing enemy-to-lovers romance. For fans of Jane Austen and Evie Dunmore." --Courtney Hill, Charleston County Public Library, Charleston, S.C.

Mr. Wrong Number by Lynn Painter (‎Berkley, $16, 9780593437261). "A humorous, contemporary romcom. Olivia's life has been a series of freak accidents and misdeeds. After she accidentally sets her home on fire, she moves in with her brother and his bestie Colin. Things start looking up when a misdial turns into flirty and fun texting with Mr. Wrong Number. Guess who that turns out to be? Great for fans of Falon Ballard, Sophie Sullivan, or Sara Desai." --Laura Eckert, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, Ohio

The Night Shift: A Novel by Alex Finlay (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250268884). "On New Year's Eve 1999, four teenage girls working at a New Jersey video store are brutally attacked. Fifteen years later an almost identical crime occurs. Is it the same killer? This second installment following FBI agent Sarah Keller is a quick read with several fun twists and turns. A fast-paced thriller for readers of Final Girls and Dark Places." --Jayme Oldham, Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, Ill.

The Suite Spot by Trish Doller (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, 9781250809476). "Single mom Rachel loses her job at an upscale Florida hotel and decides to make a fresh start halfway across the country with a new gig and a moody but handsome boss. The characters are mature, the setting is lovely, and there's just enough steam to keep things interesting. For fans of Beth O'Leary, Julie Murphy, and Sarah Morgenthaler." --Sandra Woodbury, Burlington Public Libary, Burlington, Mass.

Sundial by Catriona Ward (Tor Nightfire, $26.99, 9781250812681). "Rob is trapped in a loveless marriage and worries about her daughter Callie's increasingly disturbed behavior. Rob takes Callie to her own childhood home in hopes of helping her, but to do so she must reveal her family's dark past. Full of mind-blowing twists, this psychological horror tale is for readers of The Cabin at the End of the World and The Drowning Kind." --Blinn Sheffield, Greenwood-Leflore Public Library, Greenwood, Miss.

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian (Minotaur, $26.99, 9781250804983). "Young magician Tempest Raj returns home to her eccentric family's enchanted compound after finding herself out of work. Soon Tempest stumbles across a body and is faced with solving two mysteries: finding the killer and learning more about her own mother's disappearance. Fans of Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr will enjoy this fresh take on a locked-room mystery." --Patricia Uttaro, Rochester Public Library, Rochester, N.Y.

What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline (Putnam, $28, 9780525539674). "A carjacking involving a seemingly perfect family from the Philadelphia suburbs launches a suspenseful tale of bad guys, good guys, good bad guys, and bad good guys. With enough red herrings to fill a smorgasbord, this book about grief, corruption, and family will appeal to fans of Iris Johansen, John Grisham, and Wanda M. Morris." --Lois Gross, Hoboken Public Library, Hoboken, N.J.

Book Review

Review: A Tiny Upward Shove

A Tiny Upward Shove by Melissa Chadburn (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 hardcover, 352p., 9780374277758, April 12, 2022)

Melissa Chadburn's electrifying debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, opens with gruesome death: "Dying hurts like f*ck-all everything." The description comes from "Aswang," a shape-shifting creature of Filipinx folklore, who knows "about the slow agonies of death" because she reanimates the body of 18-year-old Marina, "murdered on a pig farm in a place called Port Coquitlam," the penultimate victim of a serial killer. Aswang serves as partial narrator to a story that mainly belongs to Marina, who "lived a cleaner life" until she "fell through the crack between the world you know and the worlds you do not know." Other liminal voices weave in and out.

Marina's Lola (grandmother in Tagalog) ensured a happy childhood in Monterey, Calif. Mutya, Marina's Filipina mother, was a teenager when she was briefly married to Marina's Black father and Marina was born. Unreliable men continue to determine Mutya's life. Yet another boyfriend convinces her to move to Los Angeles, separating Marina from Lola's nurturing protection. Too soon, Marina becomes a statistic of neglect and violence, landing at the Pines, "a place for kids to live out the rest of their time as wards of the court." Her above-bunkmate Alex becomes her guide to the group home.

Alex's childhood couldn't have been more heinous and yet her tragedies could so easily have been avoided: five months into a perfectly matched adoption, Alex's birthmother reclaimed her, only to enable three years of torture so vile that the toddler was initially unrecognizable upon discovery in a tiny, locked closet. Marina, one year older than Alex, emancipates earlier from the court system. Her parting promise to find Alex's adoptive mother leads Marina to Vancouver, where no good deed goes unpunished--deception, drugs, slavery, slaughter await--until Aswang can finally wreak overdue revenge.

A warning feels necessary here: indeed, the violence is graphic and relentless. And yet bearing witness seems equally mandatory: Chadburn's concluding author's note reveals that her fiction is "inspired by all-too-real events"; this horror is reality, especially for girls and women of color, in that the novel's murderer has an actual counterpart (with the same name) who admitted to butchering 49 victims. As an activist, Chadburn--who experienced foster care herself--has reported extensively on the child welfare system, grounding her novel in what she's seen, what children and adults have (not) survived, what the voiceless cannot say. Writing with remarkable grace, even surprising moments of transporting joy, Chadburn creates a miraculous literary platform to claim these missing stories. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Neglected and lost children, vicious abuse and serial murder are subjects of Melissa Chadburn's sensational, terrifying debut novel that remarkably gives voice to the missing and murdered.

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