Also published on this date: Monday, March 28, 2022: Maximum Shelf: And There He Kept Her

Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 28, 2022

Atria Books:  Spirit Crossing (Cork O'Connor Mystery #20) by William Kent Krueger

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Other Press (NY): Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

Delacorte Press: The Midnight Game by Cynthia Murphy


Baton Rouge Residents Launch Campaign to Save Cottonwood Books

Sonny Cranch, a longtime customer of Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, La., has teamed with other community members to launch a GoFundMe campaign to help save the bookstore, which was slated to close after owner Danny Plaisance could not find a buyer. Per the LSU Reveille, Cranch plans to create a nonprofit company called the Cottonwood Project to run the bookstore, and he is looking to raise $150,000 to establish it.

Plaisance, who has owned Cottonwood Books since 1986, decided to sell the store last October after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Although Plaisance had around 20 potential buyers for the store, he was unable to secure a sale, partly because he does not own the building in which Cottonwood Books is located. Finance issues and lease negotiations also presented problems, and Plaisance began trying to sell off the store's inventory of more than 40,000 books.

Cranch told the Reveille that Cottonwood Books was "iconic," and he and other community members "just don't want it to go away." He approached Plaisance about the nonprofit plans shortly after the last potential sale fell through, and while Plaisance was "overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support from the community," he had to continue liquidating stock due to health reasons.

According to Cranch, Plaisance hopes to keep the store open until mid-August at least.

"That buys us a little more time to figure this out, but we are exploring every possibility," Cranch said.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Books-A-Million to Open 2nd & Charles in Virginia Beach, Va.

Books-A-Million will open a 2nd & Charles store in Virginia Beach, Va., next month, in Loehmann's Plaza at 4000 Virginia Beach Blvd., the Virginian-Pilot reported. An April 14 grand opening is scheduled. The new location is the sixth for the state, joining 2nd & Charles stores in Newport News, Chantilly, Richmond, Midlothian and Woodbridge.

Founded in 2010, 2nd & Charles stores buy and sell books, comics, DVDs, CDs, vinyl records, video games, gaming systems, etc. The stores also usually have cafes and often host book signings and special events.

"The space was vacant for approximately two years, with a lot of this due to Covid and the uncertainty that it caused with retailers," said Murray Rosenbach, S.L. Nusbaum Realty's senior v-p of shopping center leasing. He added that the retailer should be a strong traffic generator for other tenants. "We feel that we should be able to get those leased in the coming months now that we have 2nd & Charles opening."

GLOW: Blue Box Press: In the Air Tonight by Marie Force

International Update: PA Survey on Workforce Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging; ABA Adds Children's Bookseller Award

Results from the Publishers Association's latest annual workplace survey indicate that there has been an increase in the diversity of the workforce, but that there are still areas which need to be improved on. A total of 14,089 employees from 60 businesses took part in The U.K. Publishing Workforce: Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in 2021. Among the key findings: 

  • Over half of those in executive leadership and senior management positions are female (52% and 56% respectively). 63% of survey respondents were female.
  • Representation of people from ethnic minority groups (excluding white minorities) has increased to 15%, achieving the Publishers Association's target set for 2022. LGB+ representation continues to increase further with 13% of respondents either identifying as lesbian, gay, or bi, or preferring to self-describe their sexual orientation, a figure which has grown each year since 2017 (5%).
  • 1% of respondents identify as trans which is in line with the U.K. population, according to Government Equalities Office estimates. 
  • The representation of people with a disability has increased over the years from 2% in 2017 to 13% in 2021. 
  • Socio-economic background continues to represent major barriers to inclusion, with around two-thirds (67%) of respondents being from professional backgrounds. 

"It's heartening to see that progress is being made in several areas," said PA CEO Stephen Lotinga. "There are definitely some things to welcome and, crucially, some potential signs that the work that publishers have been doing to improve diversity, inclusion and belonging for staff is beginning to help move the dial.  

"However, there is absolutely no room for complacency. In many areas, the pace of change is not enough. Socio-economic background continues to represent a major barrier to inclusion in our industry, as it does in many others. A lack of regional diversity remains stark. There is still much to be done and the Publishers Association are working with publishers and partners to plan the next phase of our inclusivity work and will share information about this later in the year." 


The Australian Booksellers Association has added a new prize for 2022. The ABA Hardie Grant Children's Publishing Children's Bookseller of the Year Award will recognize an individual children's bookseller for their outstanding achievements in the past 12 months. Nominees must have worked as a children's specialist bookseller for at least five years. The award will acknowledge a bookseller for their exceptional performance within the bookshop where they work and for their achievements in the book industry, local and wider community. 

The winner will be announced at the ABA conference gala dinner on June 12 and receive A$1,000 (about US$730). "We would like to thank Gold Sponsor Hardie Grant Publishing for supporting this new award," the ABA noted, adding that nominations for this prize, as well as the Text Publishing Bookseller of the Year Award and the Penguin Random House Young Bookseller of the Year Award, open March 31. 


Canadian author and journalist Katlia Rafferty spoke with CBC about being named the first climate writer in residence at a Canadian library. Her residency takes place at the West Vancouver Memorial Library. Lafferty "writes out of where she is from--the people and the land of the Yellowknives First Nation," CBC reported, adding that her memoir, Northern Wildflower, "topped the bestseller list in the Northwest Territories in 2018." Among the highlights of her q&a:

What does it mean to be a climate writer in residence?
Well, it's a very big responsibility, and I'm taking it very seriously. We have an emergency on our hands that we need to bring people together and connect and talk about. And that's basically what this role is. I'm just thankful that I have the opportunity to do this work.

What plans are starting to gel in your mind for what you would like to do in your residency?
Libraries are a great place and so we're going to be rolling out quite a few programs. We're going to be doing book clubs.... And then, we're going to be working with some youth on nature as character.... So we're also going to be having some conversations around climate anxiety, which is something that is a huge thing right now for youth, especially.

We're going to be working with some elders, I believe in some of the surrounding nation--Squamish for sure--on building a program around the seven generations, which is based on the principles of taking care of the land for the next generations ahead of us and what that looks like. --Robert Gray

Carolrhoda Lab (R): They Thought They Buried Us by Nonieqa Ramos

The Free Speech/First Amendment Debate: Free Speech Makes Change Possible

Christopher M. Finan

Christopher M. Finan, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, is an authority on free speech and the First Amendment, and has written two books on the history of free speech in the U.S. Here he offers some thoughts on the importance of free speech for social change.

We are living through the worst book banning crisis in 40 years.

Librarians and teachers are under attack. Kids are also suffering as they are denied access to the books that can help them understand the world, themselves, even save their lives.

The only good thing about the current crisis is that it is a reminder of the critical role that free speech plays in making a better world.

We have certainly seen a lot of evidence on the other side. Free speech has made possible the spread of dangerous lies and hate speech on social media. But it is also true that free speech is advancing social justice.

Many police officers used excessive force on people protesting the murder of George Floyd. Without the protections of the First Amendment, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press, these protests, the largest in American history, might have become bloodbaths.

The half million women who marched in Washington to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump might have been denied a permit. 

School officials could have locked the doors to stop kids from protesting gun violence following the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

I have written two books about the history of free speech in the United States. The upcoming one, How Free Speech Saved Democracy: The Untold History of How the First Amendment Became an Essential Tool for Security Liberty and Social Justice (Steerforth Press, April 26), is a short introduction to the critical role that free speech has played in advancing equality.

It begins by explaining that free speech was not well understood when the First Amendment was adopted in 1791. Benjamin Franklin acknowledged that "few of us [had] any distinct Ideas of its Nature and Extent."

Over the next century and a half, reformers were frequently punished for advancing their radical ideas.

Abolitionist speakers were attacked at least 179 times during the 1830s and 1840s. When Theodore Dwight Weld visited Circleville, Ohio, a mob tried to drown out his words using sleigh bells, tin horns and drums. When that failed, they stoned the building where he was speaking. A brick knocked him senseless.

Frederick Douglass was struck down and almost killed during a riot in Pendleton, Indiana. He never recovered the full use of a hand that was broken during the fighting.

In 1848, Americans were shocked when a small group of men and women in Seneca Falls, New York, demanded full equality for women. Many of the leaders of the women's movement and their male supporters were arrested.

The passage of a federal obscenity law in 1873 gave Anthony Comstock, the leader of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the power to persecute feminists, including Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, and Margaret Sanger, the advocate of reproductive rights.

Leaders of the labor movement were also censored. Broad injunctions barred workers from meeting to discuss collective action and engage in picketing and other forms of advocacy. Government troops and hired guns broke strikes, creating horrific violence.

During World War I, the federal government made a concerted effort to suppress criticism of America's participation in the war, convicting more than 1,000 and sentencing many to 20 years in prison, including Eugene V. Debs, the leader of the Socialist Party. After the war, the government arrested thousands of immigrants who were suspected Communists.

Things began to change with the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920, but progress was slow. The Supreme Court didn't issue its first decisions supporting free speech until 1931.

A free speech revolution began in the 1950s when the Supreme Court confronted massive resistance to its order to desegregate the nation's schools. State legislatures passed laws to cripple the civil rights movement. Police and state militia broke up demonstrations with blackjacks and fire hoses. The Ku Klux Klan killed civil rights workers. The Supreme Court responded by striking down every law that aimed to quell protest.

When L.B. Sullivan, the head of the police in Montgomery, Alabama, tried to silence the reporting of the New York Times by suing it for libel, the court created broad protection for both the press and individuals who criticize the government.

In the following years, the Supreme Court issued many decisions that protected free speech, including the right to protest the Vietnam war and to publish government secrets in the Pentagon Papers. It expanded artistic freedom by protecting books and movies with sexual content.

But the censors never gave up. In the early 1980s, the election of Ronald Reagan inspired conservatives, leading many activists to attack books by Judy Blume and other authors whose books helped kids deal with sex and other problems. Under pressure, school officials folded, removing the books that were causing them problems.

Today's censors are still angry about sexual content, but they have added new targets. Legislatures are passing vague laws to regulate teaching about the role of racism in American history and to limit discussion of sexual identity. The number of book challenges has soared and may soon exceed the last peak.

This wave of censorship will be no more successful than the last one. Right now conservatives have the upper hand, but defenders of free speech are beginning to rally. These are the same people who have stepped forward in the past--students, parents, teachers, librarians, authors, publishers and booksellers.

They do not quarrel with parents who want to choose an alternative to a book they find offensive. But they believe strongly that no parent should decide what other people's children should read.

They have confidence in the professionalism of the teachers and librarians who choose books for the classroom and library. They support strong policies that require challenged books to be read in their entirety by committees that include both a professional and a parent.

While they understand that the relationship between social change and free expression is complex, they are confident that the societies that encourage freedom are the ones that flourish.

Free speech is not an obstacle to change. It is the way we address our problems.


Image of the Day: Midwestern Comedy

Comedian Charlie Berens (center), author of The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat... Everything with Ranch (HarperCollins), with Zenith Bookstore owner Bob Dobrow and store manager Sarah Brown, after a sold-out comedy show in Duluth, Minn. Zenith was the bookseller at local events on Berens's tour for the book.

Sign of the Times: Rofhiwa Book Café

Posted on Instagram by Rofhiwa Book Café, Durham, N.C.: "Some months ago we hosted a group of about 40 of the cutest elementary schoolers you ever did see. We asked, 'does anyone know the name of this bookstore?' And they unanimously chimed, 'Black Books Black Coffee!!!' Suddenly we thought, perhaps we missed a real opportunity in the naming of our bookstore! It also occurred to us that maybe a BIG stencil of our name in the shop might not hurt?? Hehehe. Welcome to Rofhiwa Book Cafe. Thank you for coming from everyplace. Thank you for staying. Thank you for returning. It's really good to have you."

Chalkboard: Boswell Book Company

Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., shared a photo of the shop's sidewalk chalkboard promoting tomorrow's in-person launch event "for our author Erica Ruth Neubauer and her latest book, Danger on the Atlantic.... We absolutely adore the drawing of the ship!"

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Emily Engwall has joined Sourcebooks as marketing assistant for Poisoned Pen Press.

Media and Movies

Bookish Oscar Winners: Dune, The Power of the Dog, Drive My Car

At last night's Academy Awards ceremony, three book-related films took home Oscars, with Dune picking up six of the golden statuettes. This year's bookish Oscar winners are:

Dune, based on the novel by Frank Herbert: Cinematography (Greig Fraser); editing (Joe Walker); music (original score); production design; sound; visual effects

The Power of the Dog, based on the novel by Thomas Savage: Director (Jane Campion)

Drive My Car, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, from his collection Men Without Women: Best international feature film

A number of book-related movies earned Oscar nominations but didn't win. These included Nightmare Alley, based on the novel by William Lindsay Gresham; The Lost Daughter, adapted from the novel by Elena Ferrante; The Tragedy of Macbeth, based on William Shakespeare's play; House of Gucci, based on the book by Sara Gay Forden; Cyrano, adapted from the play by Edmond Rostand; and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, based on the Marvel character.

The Bookshop Band Among Oscar Nominees

Musicians Ben Please and Beth Porter were among the nominees for an Oscar this year. Also known as the Bookshop Band, they are familiar to U.S. booksellers for their indie bookstore concert tours and a popular appearance at the 2019 Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex. 

Please and Porter wrote, performed and directed the music and song for Robin Robin, a nominee in the best short film (animated) category that was co-directed by Ben's brother, Michael, and Dan Ojari. Unfortunately, a Hollywood ending was not to be, as the Oscar went to The Windshield Wiper. They learned the bad news at the end of their livestreamed Oscars Watch Party

But they had fun nonetheless. On Saturday, the Bookshop Band tweeted: "We had our own Wigtown Oscar's (the Woscars) ceremony last night courtesy of @CinemaDriftwood to mark the world premiere of a short film I made in town. All the stars came out. Molly was delighted to win Best Actress."

Please had told the Scotsman he prepared for the Oscars by purchasing a £4 silver polyester jacket from a community shop in town: "On Sunday, I'll be feeling like a million pennies in my silver jacket and Beth will have just returned from a hen do. My brother asked if we want to get a text with the result. It's quite tempting to get the text and go to bed instead, but we'll see."

Porter noted that the Oscars are "of course something to put on your CV. People can see that you have worked in film. For us, that is still quite a new venture. We have a child and another one on the way so we want to do more things from home. It's quite important that we get the work."

Please added: "We did much of this in our top room over lockdown without having any interaction with anyone. It's really amazing that this thing we made in our little house in Wigtown can be heard around the world. And then, we get the feedback that some people really like it."

Media Heat: Jimmy Fallon on the Today Show

Today Show: Jimmy Fallon, author of Nana Love You More (Feiwel & Friends, $17.99, 9781250823946).

Good Morning America: Kevin and Danielle Jones, authors of There's a Rock Concert in My Bedroom (Razorbill, $17.99, 9780593352076).

Also on GMA: Eric Kim, author of Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780593233498).

Rachael Ray Show: Harlan Coben, author of The Match (Grand Central, $29, 9781538748282).

Also on Rachael Ray: Kristin Chenoweth, author of What Will I Do with My Love Today? (Thomas Nelson, $18.99, 9781400228430).

Books & Authors

Awards: Republic of Consciousness Shortlist; Carle Honors

A shortlist 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." Each shortlisted press receives £1,500 (about $1,955), with two-thirds going to the press, one-third to the writer, and "as is now traditional, the winner or winners just get the glory." This year's shortlisted publishers are:

Daunt Books for Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Melanie Mauthner 
Fum D'Estampa Press for The Song of Youth by Montserrat Roig, translated by Tiago Miller
Tilted Axis Press for Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao
Peninsula Press for Sterling, Karat, Gold by Isabel Waidner 
Fitzcarraldo Editions for Dark Neighbourhood by Vanessa Onwuemezi


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has announced its 2022 Carle Honors Honorees, recognized for "exceptional work in the field of children's art and literature." The honorees will be celebrated on September 29 in New York City during a hybrid in-person and virtual event, the annual Benefit Gala and Art Auction. The honorees are:

Artist: Faith Ringgold
Angel: Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, represented by president Jeff Conyers
Bridge: Ajia
Mentor: Wade and Cheryl Hudson

For more information about the honorees, click here.

Book Review

Review: The Perfect Golden Circle

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers (Melville House, $27.99 hardcover, 224p., 9781612199580, May 17, 2022)

The Perfect Golden Circle is a thrilling introduction to a British literary star and a moving meditation on history, trauma and the urge to create. Set in 1989, the novel takes place almost exclusively in the fields of rural England, where protagonists Calvert and Redbone use boards and rope to create massive, complex crop circles. Benjamin Myers (The Offing) maintains a tight focus on his two principal characters, societal outcasts with an intense, almost theological devotion to their craft. Perhaps his most impressive achievement is how, in chapters dedicated to the construction of a particular crop circle, Myers manages to stretch his focus far beyond the confines of the field, to encompass the social and political conflicts roiling the rest of the country.

Calvert and Redbone are The Perfect Golden Circle's only consistent characters, with very few others making unwelcome intrusions on the world they have created for themselves. Calvert is a veteran of the Falklands War with scars both physical and mental, while Redbone is a relic of a counterculture era that seems increasingly out of place in Thatcherite Britain. Their mission in creating the crop circles is both simple and difficult to define precisely, embodied by Redbone's repeated motto: "Fuel the myth and strive for beauty." Working in the fields in the dead of night, Calvert and Redbone begin to see themselves as belonging to artistic and spiritual traditions as ancient as Stonehenge, establishing a continuity with their ancestors. Their ambitions grow as their creations receive more press attention, inspiring talk of alien visitations and ley lines, until the two fixate on their most ambitious crop circle yet: the Honeycomb Double Helix.

The Perfect Golden Circle concerns itself with what modern Britain is choosing to leave behind, which includes those damaged by a pointless war, like Calvert, and unclassifiable creative sorts, like Redbone, who simply don't fit in. The land is also in the process of being left behind, both in terms of reckless ecological destruction and in the average person's ties to ancient practices of farming or spiritual communion. In the fields at night with Calvert and Redbone, Myers's evocative prose captures the unlikely friendship growing between the two characters as well as the ways their work helps them heal and find purpose. The Perfect Golden Circle is closely bound to its characters, but its reflective mood takes readers on enthralling excursions into England's vast history. --Hank Stephenson, the Sun magazine, manuscript reader 

Shelf Talker: This thrilling reflection on land and country follows Calvert and Redbone as they attempt to heal and make meaning by constructing crop circles in 1989 England.

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