Also published on this date: Monday, March 14, 2022: Maximum Shelf: Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments

Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 14, 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

Book the Vote: Writer/Bookseller/Librarian Collaboration to Register Voters

Writers for Democratic Action is launching Book the Vote, with the aim of registering more voters, particularly in battleground states, before the November elections. The effort will take place in bookstores and libraries, where nonpartisan voter registration tables will be set up with the participation of writers and local voter registration groups. Plans call for BTV tables to be available to register voters on Saturdays this spring. In the summer, the tables will be open on Sundays, too, and by fall, tables will be staffed five days a week. WDA said that the Book the Vote project "aims not only to add the unregistered to voter rolls, but to nurture civic resistance to anti-democratic manipulations of elections."

WDA noted that last year "19 states passed more than 30 laws to make voting more difficult, mainly in the name of voter fraud that never happened. Gerrymandering after the 2020 census specifically targeted the power of Black, Latino, and Native American voters. The Supreme Court and state legislatures have gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the Congress, stymied by the filibuster, has been unable to pass much needed voter protection legislation. The urgent defense of democracy falls to citizens, who must vote in numbers never seen before, voting in part to keep the vote."

Author James Carroll, who's been involved with Writers for Democratic Action since its formal founding in January 2021, said the project "offers all booklovers, but especially writers, a way to join the urgent effort to shore up democracy in this time of its peril. The staffing by writer-volunteers and others of voter registration tables at bookstores will do two things: It will help with the actual support of voting--registration as the key mechanism--when so many unprecedented pressures undermine it (including the recent failure by Congress to protect voting rights). And it lifts up the critical importance of getting to the polls in November, a key element in the decisive issue of voter turn-out, especially in battleground states."

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books, with stores in southern Florida, and a founding member of Writers for Democratic Action, said that some bookstores have already signed up for Book the Vote and others are encouraged to join. (More information here.) He noted, too, that the program in stores would be flexible, with writers possibly doing events, and that stores could operate the tables even when there aren't writers present and as often as they want.


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


AAP: January Sales Up 3.7%, Trade Up 4.3%

Total net book sales in January in the U.S. rose 3.7%, to $1.3 billion, compared to January 2021, representing sales of 1,368 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

In January, trade sales rose 4.3%, to $720.6 million. In traditional formats, hardcovers were up 6.9%, to $261.4 million, paperbacks rose 8.7%, to $250.6 million, mass market dropped 1.8%, to $19.1 million, and special bindings (formerly called board books) dropped 8.5%, to $15.2 million. E-book sales overall were down 10.1%, to $81.5 million, downloadable audio rose 5%, to $62.1 million, and physical audio dropped 38.1%, to $1.2 million.

Sales by category in January 2022 compared to January 2021:


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


ABA Snow Days: Alicia Keys on the 'Everyday-ness' of Superpowers

On the final day of ABA's virtual Snow Days conference, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys spoke with Donya Craddock, co-owner of The Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, Tex., about her YA graphic novel, Girl on Fire, co-written with Andrew Weiner and illustrated by Brittney Williams (HarperAlley).

Keys and Craddock's lively, laughter-filled conversation touched on music, language, motherhood, inner superpowers and using one's power for good. "We were supposed to be in person, and I wish we were," said Craddock. "The world is showing us we have endless possibilities, and nothing can stop us from connecting." Keys consistently connected with the audience. As she described 14-year-old Lolo Wright, her protagonist in Girl on Fire, she said, "If anybody remembers what it's like, [Lolo] starts to recognize she feels these things, she does not know why she is feeling them." Keys, born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., gave her character the same childhood home, where she is being raised by her father and grandmother.

Lolo discovers her superpowers when her brother is profiled by police officers; they attack him, and she wants to protect him. "She finds this power in her that ends up holding this police officer up in the air and when she lets go, he crashes down to the floor and he is hurt and she is scared," Keys said.

When Craddock asked Keys what made her want to turn her song "Girl on Fire" into a graphic novel, Keys responded, "Sometimes you don't remember that you have this power, you have this internal flame, and you feel defeated." She added, "I find a lot of times when I am writing songs like 'Superwoman' or 'A Woman's Worth' it is because I am needing to be uplifted or to give myself a boost, and this song was similar to that." When Andrew Weiner approached Keys about turning the song into a graphic novel, the idea excited her: "It felt right because the song is a powerful statement and to be able to focus on a young woman of color in Brooklyn, growing up and experiencing her life--we need as many superheroes that look like us as possible."

Keys appreciates what artist Brittany Williams brings to Lolo and the overall project: "I wanted her to have braids, twists, to reflect the hair that we have. That was very important to me."

Craddock asked Keys if Lolo's superpower is a metaphor for social activism. Keys explained that the superpower is a metaphor for many things: "[Lolo] has to take on some of the darkest parts of the neighborhood. And it is not easy. She does not know why she is chosen. A lot of us struggle with that feeling." Keys believes that each person has "a unique power that we do have the opportunity to harness, and yours will be different than mine. There is something about that everyday-ness that you will relate to." Craddock pointed out how much the book will resonate with people of all ages: Lolo's situations, her relationship with her grandmother, father, her brother--"we can relate to it and try to harness what we have, to deal with certain situations."

Craddock observed, "With your success, you have never forgotten your roots. Why is social justice and giving back so important to you? Is there a conflict between the demands of being a superstar and your personal passions?" Keys does not see a conflict: "My personal passions and my life and my music and everything I do is the same. I feel grateful I can express that and have a platform to share that with different people." Later in the conversation, Keys emphasized, "We are all activists. We all get a chance to stand up and make sure we care about what is happening."

When Craddock asked Keys what books have made an impact on her, Keys said the "first book that exploded my mind" was one she read at age 17, A Taste of Power by Elaine Brown, one of the founders of the Black Panthers. "It lit me up in a way I did not know I needed to be lit up and I really related to her and her story and her strength, and to be such a boss." Keys was also influenced by Willa Cather's My Ántonia: "It made me look at the way I was using my words in writing in a different way." Other favorite authors: Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Audre Lord. Craddock, ever the consummate bookseller, then recommended a couple of her own: George Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin and Daughters of Thunder by Bettye Collier-Thomas. Booksellers expressed their enthusiasm in the chat as Keys wrote down the titles, and asked Craddock for The Dock Bookshop's website to purchase them.

"What is it like to be a star and raise kids?" Craddock asked. "It is the same as any mother. It is pulling the ends together and making it happen," Keys responded. "Mothers are a beautiful superpower." Craddock followed up with "What one thing would you like readers to take away from Girl on Fire?" Keys said, "I would like young adults to realize we contain a world of unknown power within us and that there is no limit--no matter what it seems like, no matter how scary it seems--to finding your greatness and to accepting your greatness, it lives in you for a reason."

Craddock closed with a call to action to her fellow booksellers: "I cannot let you go without saying to my colleagues, there is a trailer on this book that is Alicia and Lolo combining their energies. I know I cannot see you, but do the Alicia Keys and Lolo thing. When you tag me or do your hashtag, take a picture of you pushing that energy out." --Jennifer M. Brown


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


International Update: Canadian Government to Help Booksellers; LBF Expecting 'Substantial' International Contingent

The Canadian government has launched a Support for Booksellers component of the Canada Book Fund that will invest C$32.1 (about US$25.2 million) in bookstores over two years for expenses related to online book sales and to help booksellers improve online business models. The initiative is designed to help Canadian booksellers strengthen their operations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

New funding will also back collective projects that build industry capacity for online Canadian book sales. Support for these projects will be through the existing Support for Organizations component. Funding for bookstores through the Support for Booksellers will be allocated based on past sales of books written by Canadians.

"During the pandemic, Canadians bought more Canadian books, proving that our authors and publishers are more important than ever in sharing our stories," said Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian Heritage. "Our government is proud to provide this important funding for Canadian booksellers to support the growth of their online sales channels, so they can remain competitive in the digital marketplace."

The pandemic fueled a sharp increase in online demand for books, resulting in logistical challenges and extra labor, technology and shipping costs. Canadian Heritage noted that investments are needed to help the country's booksellers "improve their online business models. This will help them to be more competitive in the digital marketplace and continue to get Canadian books into the hands of readers. Online Canadian book sales benefit the entire book industry, from authors to publishers to booksellers."

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The London Book Fair said a "substantial" international contingent of 477 exhibitors will be attending this year's fair, from 56 countries, the Bookseller reported. Of these, 156 U.S. companies are currently confirmed as exhibiting at Olympia April 5-7. There are 860 exhibitors in total. LBF director Andy Ventris called this "a huge vote of confidence" in the event. 

Organizers said there are "large country pavilions" from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China and Turkey. All the big four U.K. publishers will also be hosting stands at this year's fair, the first in-person edition since 2019. Rights and export sales representatives from several U.S. publishers are expected. 

Janet Fritsch, from the American Collective Stand, said: "It's been a long two years and we are ecstatic to be back in London for LBF, as are the 70-plus people attending with the USA Pavilion organized by the American Collective Stand and the Combined Book Exhibit. Everyone we speak to is itching to get back to in-person events and those one-on-one meetings to find the next big deal, reconnect with colleagues and cultivate new contacts." 

LBF's Ventris commented: "The fact that we have so many big hitters heading to Olympia in April is a huge vote of confidence in the fair, and a testament to the power of meeting face to face to network and do business. While Covid restrictions have affected the travel plans of representatives from some territories, we are delighted to have such a strong international presence, and as always are thrilled to welcome first-time exhibitors from the U.K. and beyond to the fair. There is excitement building with less than a month to go until the London Book Fair, and we can't wait to open our doors to so many international exhibitors, agents and visitors to in April." 

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Ukraine's libraries "are playing vital roles in supporting Ukraine's war effort from giving families shelters during Russian bombing raids to making camouflage nets for the military and countering disinformation," NPR reported.

"It's really scary when schools, libraries, universities, hospitals, maternity hospitals, residential neighborhoods are bombed," said Oksana Brui, president of the Ukrainian Library Association.

While some of Ukraine's libraries have been destroyed by the fighting, she said that all over the country, libraries are "buzzing like hives," full of librarians, readers, refugees and volunteers. "Refugee reception points, hostels and logistics points are organized here. Camouflage nets for the military are also woven here. Home care courses are held here. Books are collected here to be transferred to libraries in neighboring countries that receive Ukrainian refugees."

Libraries are also bringing in specialists to provide psychological help to residents struggling to cope with an unwelcome new reality. "There are bomb shelters in libraries," Brui added, pointing out a children's library in Mykolaiv where kids, their families and a few dogs were being kept safe. --Robert Gray


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


Notes

Bookseller Confession: ' The Snow Is All My Fault'

Alissa du Bois

If you're looking for someone to blame for this past weekend's snow storm, Alissa du Bois of Otto Bookstore, Williamsport, Pa., is willing to shoulder the blame. She even wrote a confession and posted it on Facebook:

Dear readers and friends, 
This is the signed confession of one of your booksellers. 
I did it. The snow is all my fault. It started with a book, a simple, harmless book.
But we all know that books aren't harmless, and readers can be fearless, and magic lies within. I confess to loving snow, and to loving it in all its forms. I confess to wanting, perhaps needing, a winter snow storm that would be the equivalent of the rainstorm in a favorite Toot & Puddle story. 
I've been plotting for weeks! Silent, every time one of you pooh poohed winter and cried out for it to end. I remembered a new book, Song for Snow, and have been chanting for days as I went about my bookish business…
"Come home, snow," "Fall from high... cover the trees and fill the sky..."
Thanks to this magical chant, found within the pages of the book, here we are today.
It is my fault, for I opened the book, full well knowing the power contained within, and chanted for the snow. 
I would ask for you to forgive me, but I feel no remorse, and have no time for regrets.
I must go outside to meet the storm and embrace its wonder. 
This and many other powerful books can be found inside the bookstore. 
Your very guilty bookseller,  
Alissa (aka auntie, bookstore auntie)

Song for Snow is written by Jon-Erik Lappano, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler (Groundwood Books).


The Book on Books: Reading Group Choices 2022

Reading Group Choices 2022: Selections for Lively Book Discussions, the 28th annual edition of the guide to book club picks, is now available from Reading Group Choices for $7.95 and can be purchased on its website.

The more than 50 recommended titles are in three sections: fiction, nonfiction and young adult and include a wide variety of books. For each title, the guide offers bibliographic information as well as review excerpts, information about the author and conversation starters for book club discussions.

In her introduction, Reading Group Choices owner Mary Morgan wrote in part, "This past year has again been challenging for book groups, but we are inspired by the creative ways in which groups have continued to connect, read, and meet. We have watched groups transition to virtual and outdoor meetings. Many groups have created new traditions they are going to continue such as meeting in outdoor parks and going for walks while they discuss books. It is wonderful to see how transferable books and discussion can be. You have proven that discussions can happen anywhere and anytime."


Personnel Changes at Chalice Press; Chelsea Green

Rebeca Seitz has joined Chalice Press as executive director of marketing and content development, a newly created position. She has a 17-year entertainment industry background that started when she was the launch publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. She then founded Glass Road Media and Management, providing publicity and artist management to authors and works from a range of publishers. She then went into film and television as the CEO of Spirit of Naples (SON) Studios and most recently was president and CEO of 1C Productions.

She has also made a very public journey from evangelicalism into progressive Christianity, which she documented at Freevangelic.com. She hosts the Freevangelic Podcast with her husband.

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Marty Gosser has been appointed trade sales manager for Chelsea Green Publishing, replacing Michael Weaver, who is leaving at the end of March after 18 years with the company. Gosser began his career at the Shaman Drum Bookshop in Ann Arbor, Mich., and then held sales positions at the MIT Press, Norton, and Perseus Books.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Seth Meyers on Fresh Air, Today, Tonight, the View

Today:
Good Morning America: Josh Peck, author of Happy People Are Annoying (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780063073616).

Fresh Air: Seth Meyers, author of I'm Not Scared, You're Scared (Flamingo Books, $18.99, 9780593352373). He will also appear today on the Today Show and tomorrow on the View and on the Tonight Show.

NPR's Here & Now: Lee Kravetz, author of The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.: A Novel (Harper, $25.99, 9780063139992).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Dolly Parton and James Patterson, authors of Run, Rose, Run (Little, Brown, $30, 9780759554344).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Brian Cox, author of Putting the Rabbit in the Hat (Grand Central, $29, 9781538707296).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Michelle D. Hord, author of The Other Side of Yet: Finding Light in the Midst of Darkness (Atria, $28, 9781982173524).

Also on GMA: Harlan Coben, author of The Match (Grand Central, $29, 9781538748282).


Movies: Songs of the Gorilla Nation

Lydia Dean Pilcher (Radium Girls, A Call to Spy) has acquired the rights to Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, a memoir by Dawn Prince-Hughes that she plans to adapt into a feature, as both director and producer, Deadline reported. Pilcher adapted the screenplay for her third feature and will produce with Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning producer Audrey Rosenberg (Katrina Babies, I Am Not Your Negro).

"When I read Dawn's memoir, I entered my own mind through her exquisite visual language," said Pilcher. "As I began to understand that every brain is like a fingerprint, it sparked a consciousness of my own differences in ways of seeing and thinking, and how far we have to go to understand and respect this difference in each other."

Prince-Hughes added: "I love Lydia's vision and I'm proud to call her a friend after more than a year of exploration together in creating the screenplay. The biggest thrill is her commitment to the gorillas and the environment.... I pray that together we help both."

Pilcher is currently in the DGA Episodic TV Directors Program "and has also been heavily active over the years as part of initiatives through the PGA, launching Cultureshift, its Women's Impact Network and its green production guide PGA Green, and co-creating the MS. Factor's Toolkit, aimed at debunking the myths that perpetuate gender bias," Deadline wrote.



Books & Authors

Awards: AJL Jewish Fiction; Royal Society Young People's Book Winners

How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Derek B. Miller (Mariner Books) has won the Association of Jewish Libraries Jewish Fiction Award, honoring the best work of fiction "with significant Jewish thematic content" written in English and published in the U.S. Miller receives a $1,000 prize and support to attend the 2022 Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, June 27-29, in Philadelphia, Pa.

A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti (Knopf) won an honor prize.

Beth Dwoskin, a member of the Award Committee, said that How to Find Your Way in the Dark is "by turns, a comedy, a murder mystery, and the coming-of-age story of its protagonist, 12-year-old Sheldon Horowitz (who we met near the end of his life in Derek Miller's earlier novel Norwegian by Night). Sheldon is under the influence of his cousin Abe, who is obsessed with antisemitism and the Nazi menace that America is ignoring. Spending the summer of 1941 as a bellhop at Grossinger's, Sheldon works out a complicated scheme of revenge on his father's killer while his best friend, Lenny Bernstein--not the famous one--delivers crowd-pleasing comedic monologues at various resorts but keeps getting fired because his routines are too topically Jewish. The lead-up to World War II permeates the action. Readers learn about Canada's early efforts to defend England, including details about aircraft bombers, technical aspects of several types of guns, and the history of the Colt factory in Hartford, Conn. Miller's writing defies gender norms in crafting male characters who love their toys but don't fear to express their emotions. How to Find Your Way in the Dark is a wide-ranging story with engaging characters and nonstop action, and Derek Miller is a deft plotter who juggles characters and settings with the same daring spirit as his hero."

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The winner of this year's £10,000 (about $13,325) Royal Society Young People's Book Prize is I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe. by Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick. More than 11,000 young judges drawn from 500 U.K. schools and youth groups cast votes for their favorite science book from a shortlist of six titles, chosen by a panel of adult judges.

Prize organizers called the winning title "an abstract and artistic exploration of the collaboration between art, science and data. Combining Stefanie Posavec's skills as a designer, artist and author, and Miriam Quick's experience as a data journalist and researcher I Am a Book. I Am a Portal to the Universe.... becomes a tool to help young readers uncover the science hidden in everyday life."


Book Review

Review: Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War

Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War by Phil Klay (Penguin Press, $27 hardcover, 272p., 9780593299241, May 17, 2022)

Along with talented writers like Elliot Ackerman and Kevin Powers, Phil Klay is among a group of veterans who have used the written word as a tool to make sense of their experiences serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Klay follows his collection of short stories, Redeployment, and a novel, Missionaries, with Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War. Here, he shifts to nonfiction to explore, in a tightly focused collection of essays, some of the themes that have surfaced in his earlier writing--most notably the tension between the perspective of soldiers embroiled in combat in the U.S.'s "forever wars" for more than two decades and the disengagement of an American public in whose name they fight.

Klay spotlights that tension almost from the opening pages, remarking on a complacent citizenry that "remains blissfully at peace until an American dies, and it turns out we were at war all along." His criticism of the leaders of both political parties is unsparing, holding them responsible for this state of willful ignorance, along with their "mismanagement, incompetence, bald-faced lies, as well as forms of cruelty only a bit less bizarre than QAnon." Time and again in these 21 essays, written between 2010 and early 2020, he paints a stark contrast between the outlook of soldiers who have been dispatched on ill-defined foreign missions, many of them multiple times, and the unwillingness of their civilian counterparts to engage in some of the most rudimentary obligations of citizenship and hold their leaders accountable for the decisions that place these volunteers in peril.

Describing himself as "generally a spectator rather than an actor in the war," Klay served as a public affairs officer in the Marine Corps in Iraq's Anbar Province in 2007 and 2008. But what he calls his "mild deployment" didn't insulate him from the horrors of war. "Death and Memory" is his account of witnessing the death of a Marine that led to a flashback in New York City during a leave in the midst of his deployment. One of the most moving pieces is "Tales of War and Redemption," where he deeply investigates his Catholic faith, illuminated by the activities of a Lutheran chaplain, Patrick ("Chaps") McLaughlin, who took upon himself the inconceivable task of holding grievously wounded Iraqi children in his arms and rocking them as they died.

Klay's prose is precise, measured and often rueful. He avoids any grand prescriptions for reconciling a conflict that remains even as the last American soldiers have been withdrawn from Afghanistan. Thoughtful readers will come away from this book with a clearer understanding of where the U.S. has fallen short of its ideals since 9/11 and of at least some of the questions its citizens should be asking about the country's current and future military missions. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In precise, measured prose, an Iraq War veteran's 21 essays reflect on his experience and that of his comrades in America's "forever wars."


Ooops

Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA COO!

In our coverage of the American Booksellers Association's Snow Day conference, we inadvertently misidentified the Joy Dallanegra-Sanger's position. She is the ABA's chief operating officer. Our apologies!


Deeper Understanding

Tasty Backlist: Highlighting Backlist Reading

I don't know about you, but practically all I have done lately is eat. It's all those gym commercials and resolutions about losing weight. They make me hungry. I figure my reading might as well stick to the theme, and the backlist doesn't disappoint. Maybe what we all need right now is a bunch of great food-themed fiction to make up for all this infernal dieting before the swimsuit season.

There is no better place to start than Nora Ephron. I'm still mad at her for dying before that mess in 2016; we have needed her humor more than ever. She will reliably make you laugh and serves up some delicious recipes, too, in her first novel, Heartburn, based on her marriage and divorce from Carl Bernstein. She tells us everything we need to know about her erstwhile husband when she says he has no imagination because of ''having grown up with the single row box of crayons instead of the big box.'' Plus you get a good recipe for bacon hash. Ephron has a whole pile of wonderful nonfiction, like I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing, where food always at least makes an appearance. She died in 2012 so there may be loads of 30-somethings who have never heard of her. Since she practically invented Sex in the City and plenty of other imitators, there are likely lots of new readers just waiting to meet her.

John Lanchester likes his humor dark and his food rich. Debt to Pleasure is loosely structured as a cookbook, if a murderous one, and it has real recipes that actually work. His garlicky lemon chicken is layered and multi-dimensional, and his blinis are simple and divine. The slow psychological reveal of the homicidal protagonist comes at you in loopy, long, run on sentences that stand in dichotomy to all the direct functional recipes. The food slowly moves from center stage as the sinister plot is revealed. But you will laugh. Or if you liked Bad Santa, you will. And if come Easter you are thinking of your own family gatherings, your Aunt Eileen's casserole with some canned creamed soup that you cannot possibly eat, and your lover's cognac infused ham glaze which you can, and the merging of the two gives you even a tiny homicidal twinge … then this book is yours. This novel was his debut; his later titles Capital and The Wall are just as funny. Readers may come to Debt to Pleasure for the food but they'll stay for the Bible black humor.

Do you read Michelle Wildgen? You should. And Bread and Butter is the place to start. Three brothers run competing restaurants in the same small Pennsylvania town and we get front-row seats while they make homemade pasta and pastry--"rolling satiny yellow sheets to be cut into tagliatelle" and a "flawless napoleon of crackling pastry layered with coconut and kafir lime custard." She channels Anthony Bourdain when she describes the card file one restaurant keeps on its customers: "Often leaves table to weep in lavatory. Likes server to offer brave smiles when she returns."  Irreverent and vivid, Wildgen can write, but I bet she can also cook. Her backlist includes But Not for Long, set in a food cooperative, and she also edited Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast. Pile her books in your cooking section. It's not cooking and it's not food lit but those readers will surely love her.

Last. and best of all, we cannot talk about food books without talking about Dame Ruth Reichl. (The Queen hasn't actually made that come true yet but she pretty much has to before long.) Two of her nonfiction books, Comfort Me with Apples and Tender at the Bone, read like juicy novels. Her sentences about food are almost as much fun as eating it. Tender at the Bone is a memoir of growing up with a mother who couldn't cook and what that did to a girl who quite possibly had a perfect palate. She seemingly can taste anything and identify all its parts, which comes in handy for a cook. Reichl was editor-in-chief at Gourmet for 10 years and a New York Times restaurant critic before that. Comfort Me with Apples describes her life as a critic; later, Save Me the Plums details the heyday and then the shocking end of Gourmet. She wrote a novel too, Delicious, so you can have a Ruth Reichl festival with all this glorious backstock. Your diet planning might not be any better but you will surely be happier after a weekend with Ruth. --Ellen Stimson


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