Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 1, 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

News

Waterstones Buys Blackwell's

Blackwell's in Oxford

Waterstones is buying Blackwell's, the U.K. bookseller that has been owned by the same family since 1879.

Blackwell's has 18 stores, including its flagship location in Oxford and a Heffers store in Cambridge. The family put the company up for sale just a month ago after plans to sell it to employees were scrapped. Soon thereafter, Waterstones entered into "exclusive" talks with Blackwell's. Details and the purchase price were not disclosed, but three weeks ago the Bookseller said that Enders Analysis estimated the price would be between £6 million (about $8 million) and £20 million ($26.8 million). The purchase marked yet another book retailer purchase for Elliott Advisors, the hedge fund/investment management company that bought Waterstones and Foyles in 2018 and Barnes & Noble in 2019.

Last week, some independent booksellers in the U.K. expressed concern to the Bookseller about Waterstones further dominating high street shopping areas but were satisfied that Blackwell's had found a home and considered Waterstones a good fit.

In yesterday's announcement of the purchase, James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones and CEO of Barnes & Noble, said, "Blackwell's and Heffers are amongst the most illustrious names in bookselling, a legacy for which we have the utmost respect. We greatly look forward to working alongside the booksellers at Blackwell's as we secure the future of these wonderful bookshops and preserve academic bookselling in so many towns and campuses across the U.K."

Toby Blackwell, Blackwell's outgoing owner and president, said: "After 143 years of family ownership, finding a new home for our business and our wonderful booksellers has been an extraordinary challenge. Waterstones have demonstrated in their acquisition of Foyles most recently that they understand the advantages and benefits of holding diverse iconic bookselling brands in their portfolio. I view them not just as a buyer of the business, but as the right buyer at the right time. This is a positive outcome for Waterstones, Blackwell's and all our customers in the U.K. and abroad, who will still be able to enjoy the individual nature of what both brands offer. I would like to thank our chairman and board and all of our fantastic staff, past and present, for everything they've done to uphold the Blackwell's name over the years. I wish everyone well with this new chapter."

And Blackwell's CEO David Prescott said: "Blackwell's is cherished by its customers for its brilliant booksellers and the unique position it holds in the bookselling landscape. Waterstones' acquisition will ensure that the future of Blackwell's and its booksellers is secure. Waterstones have outlined their commitment to invest in our people, our shops and in our growing eCommerce operation. Their acquisition will ensure that Blackwell's remains part of the bookselling landscape for the long term."


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


Bel Canto Books, Long Beach, Calif., Launches Bookstore Field Trips

Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, Calif., held its first bookstore field trip last Saturday, with store owner Jhoanna Belfer and writer Christy Krumm Richard leading a group of nearly 30 customers on a field trip to Los Angeles indies Village Well Books & Coffee and The Ripped Bodice, both in Culver City.

Bel Canto's bookstore field trip participants at Village Well.

Belfer reported that the event "went really well." The customers on the field trip, as well as the owners of Village Well and the Ripped Bodice, "really appreciated the gathering." She added that several folks on the trip had just moved to the L.A. area in the last six months and had been looking for a way to make new friends and find community, while a number of attendees were regular customers.

Belfer told the Orange County Register last week that Richard initially approached her about getting together a group to visit more independent bookstores. Inspired by the Zibby Books initiative #22in22, which encourages people to visit 22 bookstores in 2022 in person, they decided to organize a bookstore field trip.

"It's essentially a casual, fun, social gathering for readers and lovers of independent businesses," Belfer said. "We just figured that this would be a fun way to make it a little bit more social and also to give us a reason to explore bookstores that we've maybe always wanted to see--or had never even heard of--and to go outside of our comfort zone if we have our normal handful of stores that we usually go to.”

Another bookstore field trip is already planned for Saturday, March 26, with Belfer and Richard planning to take a group to the Salt Eaters Bookshop in Inglewood and Eso Won Books in Leimert Park. Looking further ahead they plan to pick bookstores in different parts of Southern California.


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


More Book World Voices Protest Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

In response to a February 24 open letter from Oleksandr Afonin, the president of the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association, to the International Publishers Association, secretary general José Borghino responded: "I am deeply saddened by what has happened in Ukraine and I pray that you, your family, your friends and all our publishing colleagues from the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association have been able to find relative safety. I have been in touch with your son, Andrew, who tells me that you and your wife are safe for the moment but that food is becoming scarce and that you sleep in air-raid shelters most nights.

"In responding to you, I am relaying your call for support to all of IPA's members, and I know that there are many already looking to find ways to support you. We condemn this criminal Russian invasion in the strongest possible terms.... Our current president, Bodour Al Qasimi, also asked me to share the following statement on behalf of the IPA: 'The IPA stands in solidarity with publishers in peril all around the world and, especially at this moment, with our member in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association. We are following developments and discussing how IPA can be of most assistance to our member. In times of peace, books have a powerful uniting force. In times of conflict, books are even more important in fostering hope, supporting reconciliation, and cementing peace.'

"All our Ukrainian colleagues are in our thoughts, and I hope that peace will be restored very soon. I look forward to spending time with you all in Kyiv, at the Book Arsenal Festival or visiting Mikhail Bulgakov's house. We send you our hopes, solidarity and love."

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A statement of support, signed by Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, responded to a joint public appeal from the Baltic cultural organizations representing book creators, publishers and other professionals to end all cooperation with institutions of the Russian Federation.

"The organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair strongly condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine ordered by President Putin," Boos wrote. "Against the backdrop of the Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine, a violation of international law, the Frankfurt Book Fair is suspending cooperation with the Russian state institutions in charge of organizing the Russian collective stand at Frankfurter Buchmesse. The Frankfurt Book Fair assures the Ukrainian publishers' associations of its full support."

The appeal was signed by the Lithuanian Culture Institute, the Latvian Literature/the International Writers and Translators house, the Estonian Literature Centre, Publishers Associations and Writers Unions in all three counties, the Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), and the Estonian Children's Literature Centre.

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The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals issued a statement of solidarity and support for librarians, archivists and information professionals in Ukraine, noting: "We are gravely concerned at the threat posed by this action to the safety of the Ukrainian people, their heritage and identity, as well as to the security of our professional colleagues.

"Ukraine is a nation with a rich literary heritage and tradition. Its libraries and archives are home to great collections of works of literature, history and research, documenting the development of Ukrainian culture, identity and language. It is of vital importance to ensure that this body of knowledge, research and creativity is protected for future generations.... 

"Librarians, archivists and information professionals play a vital role in promoting reading, literacy and access to information for the citizens and communities they serve. It is essential that they are permitted to continue this work in safety and free from coercion or threat.... The library, archive and information professional community in the U.K. will work with our colleagues around the world to offer whatever support and solidarity we can to our professional colleagues in Ukraine.

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PEN International released a letter signed by more than 1,000 writers worldwide, expressing solidarity with writers, journalists, artists and the people of Ukraine, condemning the Russian invasion and calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed.

"We, writers around the world, are appalled by the violence unleashed by Russian forces against Ukraine and urgently call for an end to the bloodshed," the letter stated. "We stand united in condemnation of a senseless war, waged by President Putin's refusal to accept the rights of Ukraine's people to debate their future allegiance and history without Moscow's interference.

"We stand united in support of writers, journalists, artists, and all the people of Ukraine, who are living through their darkest hours. We stand by you and feel your pain.

"All individuals have a right to peace, free expression, and free assembly. Putin's war is an attack on democracy and freedom not just in Ukraine, but around the world.

"We stand united in calling for peace and for an end to the propaganda that is fueling the violence. There can be no free and safe Europe without a free and independent Ukraine. Peace must prevail."


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


Wentzville School District Overturns Bluest Eye Ban

The Wentzville School District in Wentzville, Mo., which voted to ban Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye from high school libraries in late January, has reversed that decision, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

During a Friday meeting the board voted 5-2 to rescind its previous decision and then voted 5-1, with one board member abstaining, to accept a recommendation to keep the book. A district spokesperson said that challenges against Aziz Ansari's Modern Love and Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell were also removed. Several other titles, including Heavy by Kiese Laymon, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson, remain banned.

The Wentzville School Board's decision made national news and met with immediate backlash. The Left Bank Books Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, launched its Literacy & Justice Project in response and raised more than $10,000 to provide copies of banned books to people without access to them. On February 15 two students represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a class-action suit against the school district. The lawsuit remains active.


Brechner: ABA Misapplies UN Hate Speech Definition

Kenny Brechner

Last Friday, in his weekly PW column, Kenny Brechner, owner of DDG Booksellers, Farmington, Maine, argued that applying the UN definition of hate speech to works of literature is a "fallacy" because the UN intended the definition to apply to "direct interpersonal communication, not literature."

The UN's definition of hate speech is "any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor."

Both the American Booksellers Association and the Independent Book Publishers Association have come to rely on that definition of hate speech to decide, in the ABA's case, which books don't deserve its free speech support.

Brechner, who resigned from the ABA board last November after it decided to limit its support of free speech, quoted at length from the UN's introduction to the hate speech definition, which states, in part, that addressing hate speech "does not mean limiting or prohibiting freedom of speech. It means keeping hate speech from escalating into something more dangerous, particularly incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, which is prohibited under international law."

In addition, the introduction says that the "strategy and its implementation [is] to be in line with the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The UN supports more speech, not less, as the key means to address hate speech."

Brechner called this similar to the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from "abridging the freedom of speech" except speech that "would directly incite violence or provoke a violent act from a reasonable person."

He also described the UN hate speech definition as "anything but" an objective standard, writing, "Who can say to what extent a character is speaking with an author's voice? The narrator of Notes from the Underground is in constant violation of the UN definition for example. Almost any book could be found to contain hate speech."


Notes

Zenith Bookstore Unveils New Children's Section Art Mural

Zenith Bookstore, Duluth, Minn., has unveiled its new addition to the store's children section, a mural with magical animals and book-themed scenes created by Duluth artist Annmarie Geniusz. Although she has created a number of permanent murals in private homes, the mural at Zenith is her first large-scale, permanent mural in a public or commercial space.

"Children's books are a window to the world for tiny humans just beginning their journey," said store manager Sarah Brown. "Our children's area is now as magical on the outside as it is inside the book covers!"

Geniusz is an interdisciplinary local artist/illustrator. Her work includes large-scale chalk murals at festivals and along local sidewalks and often involves whimsical characters and narrative-inspired scenes. She draws inspiration from her long history as a conservation volunteer, her hiking addiction and her love of sci-fi/fantasy.


Socialight Society's Black Book Drive

Nyshell Lawrence, Socialight Society

Socialight Society, a Black-owned bookstore that opened in Lansing, Mich., in 2021, took part last month in a Black Book Drive that raised more than its initial goal of $2,000 and distributed more than 200 children's books featuring Black characters.

Nyshell Lawrence, owner of Socialight Society, worked with two other Black business owners, Mila Lynn and Lorin Cumberbatch, to put the book drive together. Lawrence told WLNS6: "To be able to give them away to children is an absolutely amazing feeling."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ciara and Russell Wilson on the Today Show, Entertainment Tonight

Today:
Today Show: Ciara and Russell Wilson, authors of Why Not You? (Random House, $18.99, 9780593374405). They will also be on Entertainment Tonight.

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Chelsea Clinton, author of She Persisted in Science: Brilliant Women Who Made a Difference (Philomel, $17.99, 9780593353295). She will also be on the View.

MSNBC's the Choice with Mehdi Hasan: Lisa Miller, co-author of Take Up Space: The Unprecedented AOC (Avid Reader Press, $28, 9781501166976).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Brad Meltzer, author of The Lightning Rod: A Zig & Nola Novel (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062892409).


Movies: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Warner Bros. has released a trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third installment of the movie franchise based on J.K. Rowling's book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Indiewire reported that the new trailer "pits Dumbledore (Jude Law) against rebel Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) in a battle to protect the fate of mankind living alongside wizard." The Secrets of Dumbledore premieres April 15 in theaters.

Set in the 1930s, the film "centers on the lead-up to Wizarding World's involvement in World War II, with hero Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) entering battle against Grindewald alongside Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), and Dumbledore, as they battle Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) and more of Grindelwald's followers." Alison Sudol also stars as Queenie, with Victoria Yeates, Poppy Corby-Tuech, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, and Dave Wong rounding out the ensemble cast. At least two more films are reportedly planned for the Fantastic Beasts saga.



Books & Authors

Awards: Republic of Consciousness Longlist

A longlist has been released for the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize for small presses, which honors "the best fiction published by publishers with fewer than five full-time employees." A shortlist will be announced March 26. Each of the longlisted presses will receive £500 (about $670) "toward their work producing literature of high merit," while each shortlisted press receives £1,500 (about $2,010), with two-thirds going to the press and one-third to the writer. The winner or winners "just get the glory." See the complete longlist here


Book Review

Review: The Hacienda

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (Berkley, $27 hardcover, 352p., 9780593436691, May 3, 2022)

Isabel Cañas takes readers to the 1823 Mexican countryside in her debut, The Hacienda, a dark gothic novel in which a house is haunted by more than just the supernatural. Set just after the Mexican War of Independence, The Hacienda follows Beatriz, a young woman trying to build a better life for herself after her father is executed. After suffering at the hands of relatives who disdain her for her mixed heritage, Beatriz marries Don Rodolfo Solórzano and leaves the city for what she assumes will be a stable life as mistress of a thriving estate.

What she finds instead is an empty, poorly maintained, menacing house and a sister-in-law who seems to hate her on sight. Determined to make the best of things, Beatriz begins restoring the gardens, furnishing the house and attempting to settle into the pueblo. The house has other ideas: "Darkness clawed at me; cold hands yanked my hair, pawed my nightdress. Drumming erupted beneath my bare feet, thundering through the floor and following me to the head of the stairs. Unseen hands planted on my shoulders. Cold as ice. Hard as death."

Desperate for help, Beatriz appeals to the local church, but only the young mestizo priest Andrés believes her. As Beatriz spirals, sleepless and terrified, into possible madness, she uncovers secrets just as monstrous as the house about her husband, his dead first wife, his sister and maybe even Andrés.

The pages of The Hacienda are drenched in these secrets, but also in the real-life horrors of colonialism, patriarchy and the complicated and harmful casta system that reverberates through the generations. As Cañas writes in her author's note, "homes like Hacienda San Isidro were haunted by more than the supernatural. Colonialism has carved the landscapes of our homes with ghosts. It left gaping wounds that still weep."

Cañas's writing is immersive, and she skillfully builds a robust sense of tension and terror that encompasses the evil that dwells in the house and the human actions from which it grows. The Hacienda is a blend of horror and mystery with a gothic heart, complete with a heroine on the brink of madness, running into the night in fear. This chilling read exposes the rotting soul of colonialism and manages to be wildly entertaining while doing so. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: This chilling and immersive gothic suspense novel is set in 1823 in Mexico, where a house is possessed by supernatural forces and the horrors of Spanish colonialism.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Taking the Leap by Kristen Ashley
2. Someone Like You by Marie Force
3. Gwendy's Final Task by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. Aged to Perfection by Various
6. The Human Sales Factor by Lance Tyson
7. The Human Calling by Daofeng He
8. A Vineyard Blizzard by Katie Winters
9. Broken Dove by Chelle Bliss
10. Throne of Scars by Autumn Jones Lake

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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