Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 17, 2022

Chronicle Books: Ivy & Bean

Yen on: Dark Souls: Masque of Vindication by Michael Stackpole

Grove Press: A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories by Leonard Cohen

Apollo Publishers: Why Not?: Lessons on Comedy, Courage, and Chutzpah by Mark Schiff

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Aladdin Paperbacks: Return of the Dragon Slayers: A Fablehaven Adventure (Dragonwatch #5) by Brandon Mull


Booksellers Share Their Thoughts on Ends Policies Changes, Part 2

In light of the ongoing conversation about the changes to the American Booksellers Association's ends policies regarding free expression and the First Amendment, Shelf Awareness has spoken to booksellers on the DEI Committee and the Booksellers Advisory Council to hear their thoughts on the changes. A previous installment ran yesterday.

Candice Huber

"I think it aligns better with the ABA's mission," said Candice Huber, owner of Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans, La. In Huber's view, the changes help the ABA "move forward with its DEI work and anti-racist work" by making it explicitly clear that the association can choose not to provide a platform to books and authors that are harmful to its members, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, and that it has no obligation to defend speech that is racist, ableist or homophobic.

To Huber the issue boils down to one of curation, and they expressed frustration with those booksellers who conflate the ends policies changes with censorship. "I say all the time, curation does not equal censorship," they remarked. All bookstores, Huber pointed out, make curatorial choices every day about what books they carry and authors they promote. The ABA is trying to do the same, through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. "We're not banning anything. We are choosing what to promote and what to give a platform to."

And even if there were booksellers in favor of banning particular titles, Huber continued, the ABA has no capacity to do that. It is a trade association, not a government body, and has no way of removing something from the marketplace. They added: "We're not preventing anyone from speaking. There are a lot of different ways folks can be out there. It's about curation and what do we want to see have a platform."

Equally frustrating to Huber is the way that some booksellers treat the issue as a "zero-sum-game," apparently believing that it has to be "all or nothing." There seems to be a suggestion that if the ABA doesn't defend intolerant speech, "marginalized people are going to suffer," which, Huber said, "ultimately is just not true."

Huber said they understand that booksellers have been concerned about ABFFE being absorbed into the larger ABA, but noted that the association continues to take action against things like school library book bans.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," Huber reiterated. "I think these changes align better with what they [the ABA] want their work to be."


Paula Farmer

Paula Farmer, special events curator and moderator at Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., called the conversation around the ends policies changes a "nuanced and complicated" discussion, but one in which different topics are sometimes intertwined. 

On one hand, she said, there is the broader discussion of the First Amendment and its role in the public sphere. In the more general context of public life it is largely "without boundaries," and Farmer commented that she feels freedom of speech is something important that should be uplifted and highlighted. That said, there should be consequences and accountability for those who say hateful things, and something like social media backlash or getting dropped by a platform or sponsor does not necessarily constitute censorship.

In the context of the ABA, Farmer continued, "I feel it's a bit different." She said she understands why the decision was made by the board and the ABA, emphasizing that the ABA is a trade organization representing "much diversity in its membership," with the key words there being "diversity" and "membership." To her it is a different situation from a government agency or an institution like the ACLU, which may be obligated or compelled to defend all speech regardless of its content, and she understands why the ABA took the position that it would not support speech harmful to portions of its membership. --Alex Mutter

Weiser Books: Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde

Bookstore Sales Up 11.5% in January

For January, bookstore sales jumped 11.5%, to $914 million, compared to January 2021, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in January fell 7.7% in relation to January 2020.

Total retail sales in January rose 13.4%, to $586.4 billion, compared to January 2021.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

Harper Muse: When We Had Wings: A Story of the Angels of Bataan by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

Sourcebooks Acquires Duopress

Sourcebooks has acquired duopress, Baltimore, Md., the minority-owned publisher of children's books and gift books for all ages as well as puzzles, flashcards, sticker books and games for children. duopress has been distributed by Workman Publishing. duopress will become an imprint of Sourcebooks Kids, publishing 15 frontlist titles a year, and duopress founder Mauricio Velázquez de León is joining Sourcebooks as founder and editorial director of duopress, effective April 1.

Velázquez de León said, "I'm confident that Sourcebooks will be a great home for our backlist and the perfect launchpad to many more creative books and gifts for years to come. I would like to thank everyone at Workman Publishing, our home for the last five years, to help duopress become the publisher that it is today."

Sourcebooks v-p and publisher of children's books Catherine Onder, vice-president and publisher of children’s books at Sourcebooks, said duopress books "have lots of kid appeal, are thoughtful and beautifully produced, and complement what Sourcebooks Kids is doing successfully. duopress is very creative in developing books for young kids in a variety of novel formats."

KidsBuzz for the Week of 08.08.22

Kansas City's Blk + Brwn Bookstore Hit by Ransomware Attack

Blk + Brwn bookstore, in Kansas City, Mo., was the target of a ransomware attack earlier this week. Owner Cori Smith, who opened the store last year, posted on Instagram Tuesday: "This morning I woke up to find that my entire website had been compromised and virtually deleted. Website, bank accounts, e-mails, newsletters, everything all compromised. I am deeply FRUSTRATED and feeling violated. The site took me MONTHS to build... over the last 8 months [and I] feel like it was all for nothing. Recent orders have been refunded and I am working to get my domain and email account/website onto a NEW PLATFORM. (Which will take some time). Thanks for all the support and encouragement y'all."

"When I woke up this morning it shattered my face, I think I'm still in shock," Smith told KSHB. "I just sell books. I want to create access for people to see our stories and to wake up and all of that just be gone.... I had an e-mail that said to recover your account send us $500 in Bitcoin."

Smith's website also featured access to playlists, lectures and programs that provide literature to inmates, a book club and youth mentorship. "That's all gone, the idea of having to start over and rebuild all these connections," she said. "That's a good third of my business."

Noting that she isn't someone who "leaves their passwords around or someone who has all the same passwords," Smith advised others not to take their security for granted. "This is my livelihood, this is it so I would just say you can never be too cautious."

She did not pay the ransom, and is looking to rebuild her online presence. For the time being, Blk + Brwn KC is using its Instagram page to provide information. Despite the losses, she will continue: "I feel like I'm supposed to do this and I'll have to take this as confirmation I'm on the right path and I'll rebuild."

In an update on Instagram yesterday, Smith noted, in part: "I can't even begin to express how amazing this ecosystem is. Seriously. Thank you all.... I'm not canceling any events. So Bookclub, our event at the Kansas City Museum, and Pages + Poses Yoga will still be happening this month as planned. Y’all got me. So you know I got y’all."

Broadleaf Books: Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us by Mark Yaconelli

Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Mich., to Close

Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich., is closing next month after nearly 30 years in business. The bookshop, which had been put up for sale in early January with a March 1 deadline for offers, will take non-backorder special orders until March 21, when its website will close for orders. Saturn may be closed during the last week of March to process returns, but staff will be there in April until the space is cleared. 
In a letter to customers announcing her decision, owner Jill Miner wrote: "We've had the privilege of being Gaylord's hometown bookstore for the past 29 years, and I've met the most incredible, intelligent and interesting people, made wonderful friends, worked with the best staff anyone could hope to employ and have more great memories than I can count. 

"One of the many joys of my job has been getting to read so many fantastic books and manuscripts, and unfortunately I'm having an issue with one of my eyes that is preventing me from keeping up on the three or four books I need to read each week or doing all of the computer work I do behind the scenes. So, as I did not find a buyer for the bookstore, I'm beginning the bittersweet process of closing Saturn Booksellers.
"I'm so honored to have earned your business over the years. I'd be very grateful if you could continue to support us over the next several weeks by helping to clear our shelves of the many, many books (and toys and games and gifts) we have in stock as we're going to try to do this quickly.... I waited as long as I could before pulling the trigger and our lease is up at the end of April. I'll miss you!  Thank you in advance for shopping with us these final weeks. Happy reading."

Soho Crime: Blown by the Same Wind (Cold Storage Novel) by John Straley

Skyhorse's Steven Sussman to Retire

Steven Sussman

Industry veteran Steven Sussman, currently sales director at Skyhorse, is retiring at the end of March. Sussman began his career in 1976 as a sales rep for Pocket Books and has held sales management positions at several houses, including Pocket Books, the Putnam Publishing Group, Avon Books and Dover Publications. Sussman launched Dorling Kindersley (DK) as a publisher in the U.S. in 1991 and was named president in 1992.

"It's going to be tough to leave an industry that I love so much," he said. "I've seen enormous changes  in the business during the last 46 years and I look forward to watching it continue to evolve, expand and contract."

He may be reached via e-mail.

Berkley Books: City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita


Abrams Now Distributing Bungie

Abrams has begun distributing Bungie titles worldwide and is taking orders for all backlist and future titles.

PGW is accepting returns on Bungie titles for 90 days following March 1. Returns can be sent to: IPS Distribution Returns Center, c/o IPS Returns, 191 Edwards Drive, Jackson, Tenn. 38301.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: M.E. Sarotte on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: M.E. Sarotte, author of Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate (Yale University Press, $35, 9780300259933).

Tamron Hall: Kelly Williams Brown, author of Easy Crafts for the Insane: A Mostly Funny Memoir of Mental Illness and Making Things (Putnam, $26, 9780593187784).

Drew Barrymore Show: Seth Meyers, author of I'm Not Scared, You're Scared (Flamingo Books, $18.99, 9780593352373).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Savannah Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 19
8:55 a.m. Chuck Klosterman, author of The Nineties: A Book (Penguin Press, $28, 9780735217959). (Re-airs Saturday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Erin L. Thompson, author of Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments (Norton, $25.95, 9780393867671). (Re-airs Saturday at 10 p.m.)

4:20 p.m. Keith O'Brien, author of Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History (Eamon Dolan, $15.99, 9781328592798). (Re-airs Sunday at 4:20 a.m.)

Sunday, March 20
8 a.m. Michael Tubbs, author of The Deeper the Roots: A Memoir of Hope and Home (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250173447). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coverage of the Savannah Book Festival, which took place in February in Savannah, Ga. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country: A Memoir (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385547215).
  • 2:38 p.m. Jerad Alexander, author of Volunteers: Growing Up in the Forever War (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781616209964).
  • 3:21 p.m. Bradford Pearson, author of The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America (Atria, $18, 9781982107048).
  • 4:10 p.m. Michael Ian Black, author of A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616209117).
  • 4:55 p.m. Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano, authors of Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant (Lorena Jones Books, $28, 9781984856203).
  • 5:36 p.m. Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen, authors of Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World's Worst Diseases (Workman, $24.95, 9781523513291).
  • 6:18 p.m. Margaret Coker, author of The Spymaster of Baghdad: A True Story of Bravery, Family, and Patriotism in the Battle against ISIS (Dey Street, $28.99, 9780062947420).

Books & Authors

Awards: Lambda Literary Finalists; NYPL Bernstein Finalists; Yoto Carnegie, Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlists

Finalists have been named for the 34th annual Lambda Literary Awards, honoring "the very best in LGBTQ literature." Finalists and winners will be celebrated virtually on June 11. See the finalists in 24 categories here.


The New York Public Library has announced the five finalists for its 35th annual Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, recognizing books "by working journalists that raise awareness about current events or issues of global or national significance." The winner, who will be announced in April, will receive a $15,000 prize. This year's finalists are:

The End of Bias: A Beginning: The Science and Practice of Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Jessica Nordell (Metropolitan Books)
The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die by Katie Engelhart (St. Martin's Press)
Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott (Random House)
Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang (Algonquin Books)
Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything and Endangered the World by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman (The New Press)


The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has released shortlists for the Yoto Carnegie Medal (author of a book for children & young people) and Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal (illustrator). The winners, who each receive £500 (about $650) worth of books to donate to their local library, a gold medal and a £5,000 (about $6,520) Colin Mears Award cash prize, will be named June 16. The Shadowers' Choice Award--voted for and awarded by the children and young people who shadow the medals--will be announced at the same time. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Yoto Carnegie Medal
October, October by Katya Balen, illustrated by Angela Harding 
Guard Your Heart by Sue Divin 
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle 
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 
The Crossing by Manjeet Mann 
Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada 
Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle 
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam 

Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal
Drawn Across Borders, illustrated and written by George Butler 
The Midnight Fair, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio, written by Gideon Sterer 
Too Much Stuff, illustrated and written by Emily Gravett 
Long Way Down, illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff, written by Jason Reynolds 
Milo Imagines the World, illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de la Peña 
Shu Lin's Grandpa, illustrated by Yu Rong, written by Matt Goodfellow 
I Talk Like a River, illustrated by Sydney Smith, written by Jordan Scott 
The Wanderer, illustrated and written by Peter Van den Ende 

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 22:

The Recovery Agent: A Novel by Janet Evanovich (Atria, $28.99, 9781982154912) begins a new adventure series starring an agent who specializes in recovering lost valuables.

A Safe House by Stuart Woods (Putnam, $28, 9780593331750) is book 61 in the Stone Barrington thriller series.

Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio (DAW, $28, 9780756413095) is book four in the Sun Eater sci-fi series.

The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER by Dr. Thomas Fisher (One World, $27, 9780593230671) includes a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The War That Made the Roman Empire: Antony, Cleopatra, and Octavian at Actium by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982116675) explores the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C.

Courage Hats by Kate Hoefler, illustrated by Jessixa Bagley (Chronicle Books, $17.99, 9781797202761) is a picture book in which a girl and a bear discover they have quite a lot in common.

Just Try One Bite by Adam Mansbach and Camila Alves McConaughey, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Dial, $17.99, 9780593324141) features two picky-eater-parents and their healthy-eating children.

Searching for Hassan: A Journey to the Heart of Iran by Terence Ward (S&S/Simon Element, $17.99, 9781982142827).

Rock Me on the Water: 1974-The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics by Ronald Brownstein (Harper, $17.99, 9780062899224).

Collected Poems by Sonia Sanchez (Beacon Press, $17.95, 9780807007358).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Chorus: A Novel by Rebecca Kauffman (Counterpoint, $26, 9781640095182). "A beautiful portrait of a family and the stories that echoed through their lives. Spanning over 30 years, Rebecca Kauffman brings drama, pain, and joy to life in every moment. An account of the scars that bind an unforgettable family." --Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.

The Believer: Encounters with the Beginning, the End, and Our Place in the Middle by Sarah Krasnostein (Tin House, $27.95, 9781953534002). "This strange, endearing book is unconventional. The stories are told piece by piece instead of all at once, mirroring the author's experience and challenging us to think hard about what we believe. I'll think about this one for a while." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

New Animal: A Novel by Ella Baxter (Two Dollar Radio, $17.99, 9781953387127). "Just when you think you've got the story, Ella Baxter dives deeper. New Animal is a dark, humorous take on grief and connection, centered on a cosmetic mortician and her eccentric family. A 'grab more wine and keep reading' kind of book." --Kathy Baum, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo.

For Ages 4 to 6
I Am Golden by Eva Chen, illus. by Sophie Diao (Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, 9781250842053). "I am crying at the power and beauty of this book! 'You are made of dragons, of phoenixes, of jade rabbits, and of monkey kings.' Celebrating culture and history as well as individualism! I love a book that connects and empowers so strongly!" --Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 8 to 12
Unseen Magic by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Greenwillow, $16.99, 9780063057982). "I really loved Unseen Magic! This book is a thrilling, magical mystery with serious wisdom for readers young and not-so-young." --Jane Oros, Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books, Mendocino, Calif.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
And We Rise by Erica Martin (Viking, $17.99, 9780593352526). "And We Rise is an extraordinary history-in-verse of the Civil Rights Movement, hauntingly written with unflinching honesty. This book belongs on every shelf and in every classroom." --Isabella Ogbolumani, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Latecomer

The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon, $28 hardcover, 448p., 9781250790798, May 31, 2022)

Jean Hanff Korelitz's decision to follow her wickedly clever novel The Plot with The Latecomer is a little like a band following a brilliant pop song with a beautiful sound collage. Whereas The Plot is about a fictional story so compelling that it has life-altering consequences for the protagonist, The Latecomer is lacking in anything resembling a traditional plot with measurable stakes, and yet it has multitudes to recommend it just the same. By dint of her mastery of crafting a scene, Korelitz (You Should Have Known) manages to convince readers that whether characters find their peace matters as much as whether a character is, say, found guilty of plagiarism.

The Latecomer is narrated by Phoebe Oppenheimer, the younger sibling of the Oppenheimer triplets, who were conceived through in vitro fertilization in 1981. (Phoebe's "absurdly late appearance" nearly two decades later "screamed family crisis," as one of the triplets puts it, and fairly.) As if traumatized by their forced togetherness in utero, the triplets have--to their mother's enduring despair--spent their lives trying to get away from one another. Harrison railed against the liberalism of his secular Jewish upbringing in Brooklyn Heights and, rather than attend Cornell, his father's alma mater, opted for a conservative two-year college before moving to Harvard. Conversely, Sally and Lewyn went to Cornell (a family gift of paintings greased the palms of the college's admissions department), although so determined was Sally not to acknowledge her kinship with Lewyn that she didn't tell her roommate, who was dating him, that he was her brother.

Why all this intra-fraternal rage? That's what Phoebe, looking back and looking on, is trying to figure out, ultimately intuiting what readers already know from the novel's early pages: the "fractured heart of the Oppenheimers" stems from the cascading effects of a tragedy inadequately managed.

The Latecomer can read like a collection of funny stories: Lewyn brings his Mormon roommate to a campus seder; Sally makes the mortifying mistake of arriving at her roommate's home unannounced over spring break; Harrison speaks in rabid support of conservative orthodoxy at a summer retreat in Virginia. These episodes are silo-like: they elucidate character, setting up dazzling dialogue-rich scenes that touch on politics, religion, race, privilege and sexuality, but they don't recalibrate the novel's path. That's okay: the occasional telegraphing from Phoebe can feel like a clarifying gut punch to happily unsuspecting readers. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This entertainingly sprawling multigenerational saga revolves around a family of unhappy New Yorkers whose youngest member is determined to understand her kin.

KidsBuzz: Enemies (Berrybrook Middle School #5) by Svetlana Chmakova
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