Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 21, 2022

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith


WordHaven BookHouse Opening in Sheboygan, Wis.

Kelly D. Holstine

Kelly D. Holstine, a writer, journalist, Equity 2.0 consultant and award-winning teacher, is opening WordHaven BookHouse, a bookstore, in Sheboygan, Wis., reported. The store will celebrate its grand opening on Independent Bookstore Day, April 30.

With the motto "a safe place for words," WordHaven BookHouse will sell new and used books, writing materials, plush toys, and local art. It will also offer writing classes, writers' workshop sessions, host literary events and train in Equity 2.0.

Holstine, who won Education Minnesota's 2018 Minnesota State Teacher of the Year honor, said, "I want to create a place where people feel like they matter, where they feel safe and where they feel like their thoughts and ideas and needs are important."

Holstine co-wrote a chapter, "Impact of Trauma on Our Youth," for the book Flip the System: How Teachers Can Transform Education and Save Democracy. Her monologue, "A Butch's Guide to Excavating Femininity," is in the play Naked I: Insides Out. Holstine is also a columnist for Education Post and a contributing writer for the Progressive. She has published articles in the Independent, Minnesota Women's Press, NEA Today, AFT Voices, and Icon Newspaper. And she delivered a TED-Ed Talk on how educators need to be more than just allies.

Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar

Howling Pages, Chicago, Ill., Hosting Preview This Saturday

A new graphic novel-focused independent bookstore called Howling Pages will hold a sneak preview this Saturday before fully opening in Chicago, Ill., on May 13. Owner Alain Park told Nadig Newspapers that his store will be open for a free event Saturday evening that will focus on comic book-inspired art. Once the store opens in May, it will sell graphic novels, indie comics and printed art, but not single-issue monthly comics.

Park is opening the store in Chicago's Portage Park neighborhood with the help of a crowdfunding campaign that raised $16,366, mostly from people in the community whom he has never met. The neighborhood's response has been "tremendous," and he explained that he chose to open in Portage Park because it's his own neighborhood: "I wanted to invest in my community, and I wanted to be able to walk to work."

Prior to opening Howling Pages, Park worked in the publishing industry and has a background as an artist and writer. He hopes that the store's emphasis on graphic novels will draw in readers who might have been daunted or overwhelmed by monthly comic books. And while there will be some mainstream graphic novels from Marvel and DC, the emphasis will be on independent and creator-owned graphic novels.

This weekend's pop-up preview is taking place in partnership with the Seventh Corner art gallery, which features several artists who live in the Portage Park area. Admission will be free.

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

M.O.S.S. Books, Troy, N.Y., Relocating After Fire

M.O.S.S. Books and Other Provisions, the Russell Sage College bookstore in Troy, N.Y., will relocate to a new space after sustaining smoke damage in a fire, the Times Union reported.

The store has been closed since March 17, when a fire broke out in an adjacent space. According to store manager Carol Pett, smoke covered an "extensive" amount of the store's inventory and she expects much of it will have to be replaced.

Pett has been working with the college to find a new space on campus. They are currently "finalizing the details," but Pett said she is unsure when the bookstore will reopen.

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

BIPOC Book Fest Debuting in Houston, Tex., This Weekend

The inaugural BIPOC Book Fest, an annual festival centered on Black writers, Indigenous writers and writers of color, will debut this weekend in Houston, Tex., the Houston Chronicle reported.

The first day of programming, dubbed "A Lit Vibe," will focus on adult books and take place at Buffalo Soldiers National Museum on Saturday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be panel discussions, artist talks, workshops and a "Lit Lounge" with drinks for those over 21. Tickets will cost $10.

The second day of programming, Sunday, April 24, will be all about children's books and will take place at Smither Park in Houston. This part of the book festival will be free, and will include book readings by local authors including Jasminne Mendez and Alda Dobbs, as well as slam poetry performances by Houston students.

Journalists Jaundréa Clay, Brittany Britto Garley and Brooke Lewis organized the festival. Clay had always wished to open a bookstore focusing on BIPOC writers, but didn't think it was possible while working full-time as a journalist. After talking about it last summer with Britto Garley, they had the idea of making it happen as a book festival. They brought in Lewis and started making plans.

Part of their organizing efforts included running a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $3,000, and when it came to scheduling panels and author talks they wanted to re-create the feeling they had as children when they walked into a school book fair. They've also partnered with independent bookstores Brazos Bookstore, Kindred Stories and Red Planet Books & Comics.

“We want to show people different forms of how we can express ourselves and the joy of reading, how diverse it can be, and how seeing someone who looks like you or speaks to you can motivate you to be in this space,” Britto Garley told the Chronicle.

International Update: BA's Sustainable Bookselling Conference; Waterstones' Fundraiser for Oxfam's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has announced the program for its first Sustainable Bookselling Conference, which will focus on "demonstrating how bookshops can be more environmentally friendly," the Bookseller reported. The initiative is part of the BA's commitment to champion environmental efforts in the bookselling community and follows the formation of the BA's Green Bookselling Task Force in 2018 and the creation of the Green Bookselling Manifesto.

Scheduled for April 26, the virtual Sustainable Bookselling Conference features keynotes by environmental policy adviser and author Tara Shine and business coach Catherine Weetman, as well as workshops in which booksellers can share their own experiences. The day will start with an introduction by Debbie James of Kibworth Books and BA managing director Meryl Halls.

"We are delighted to confirm the programme for our first Sustainable Bookselling Conference, which shines a light on how we can prioritize the environment while still bringing books to readers," Halls said. "We hope that attendees take away tangible steps to be more sustainable in their business. We look forward to hearing experts share their insights and booksellers sharing their experiences."


Waterstones has partnered with publishers and authors for an initiative called Read for Ukraine, with a goal of raising £1 million (about $1.3 million) for Oxfam's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, the Guardian reported. Every branch of Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwell's, Hatchards and Hodges Figgis will have a Read for Ukraine table at the front of the shop, featuring a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles donated by publishers and their authors. Oxfam's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal will receive all the proceeds from sales of the books.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said: "We are very proud as booksellers to be able to work with authors and publishers to make this collective contribution to help the humanitarian effort to support those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. We thank the authors and publishers for their generosity. This is a compelling selection of books, with every penny from their sale going to support this urgent work."

Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB, commented: "We are incredibly grateful to everyone involved in the Read for Ukraine initiative for their support to people fleeing devastating conflict in Ukraine. As humanitarian needs continue to grow, the money raised will help Oxfam and partner organisations in eastern Europe to provide vital support to people who have already lost so much. With so many people displaced by the conflict, we are also working to set up safe travel routes for refugees and advocating for governments to honour their international commitments to the rights of all refugees."


"Shared bookstores," featuring shelf sections operated by different owners, are spreading throughout Japan, "allowing book lovers to casually open their own stores and sell books they have recommended or have finished reading," the Mainichi reported, adding that the stores "deepen interactions between owners and contributes to the liveliness of local shopping streets."

In Itoshima no Kao ga Mieru Honya-san (Bookstore where you can see the face of Itoshima), "large wooden bookshelves that cover the entire wall of the store are immediately noticeable upon entering, and each of the 100 frames, separated into 30-centimeter squares, has an 'owner" who rented the shelf as their own sales space. The owners range from university students to elderly people in their 70s, who each bring in their own recommended books and other items to place on the shelves," the Mainichi wrote.

Co-owner Maki Nakamura recalled that when she moved to Itoshima, she visited Book Mansion, a pioneering shared bookstore in the Kichijoji neighborhood of Musashino, and was moved by the experience. When she found a vacant property in a shopping district in Itoshima, she and Ryota Odo raised funds and sought prospective owners through crowdfunding to open the store.

"The owners come to the store on days when they are not on duty and organize events and socialize with people on their own initiative," Nakamura said. Currently, there is a waiting list to become an owner.

Book Mansion's Ko Nakanishi said the number of shared bookstores has now grown to nearly 40 nationwide, adding: "I started a shared bookstore because I thought this could be a way of operating a business, but such bookstores have become places that connect people, and recently they are being called community bookstores." --Robert Gray

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Wisdom of Morrie:
Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully
by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Twenty-five years ago, Mitch Albom immortalized his former college professor in Tuesdays with Morrie, the blockbuster memoir that shared Morrie Schwartz's profound insights about life as he was dying of ALS. In The Wisdom of Morrie, Rob Schwartz, Morrie's son, resurrects his father's voice, sharing Morrie's philosophical wisdom and humor about the aging process--what can be an emboldening period filled with meaning and purpose. "This book is invaluable to anyone interested in improving their quality of life," says Rick Bleiweiss, head of new business development at Blackstone Publishing. "Readers who enjoy[ed] The Last Lecture and When Breath Becomes Air will expand their awareness and find new ideas and insights into living more fully." Schwartz's musings are timeless, and inspirational for readers of all ages. --Kathleen Gerard

(Blackstone Publishing, $25.99 hardcover, 9798200813452,
April 18, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Rebecca Roanhorse at Boulder Bookstore

Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, Colo., hosted the launch day event for Rebecca Roanhorse's Fevered Star (Gallery/Saga Press), the second book in the Between Earth and Sky series. Roanhorse was in conversation with Erika T. Wurth, author of White Horse. More than 70 people attended the in-person event. Pictured: authors (l.-r.) Roanhorse, Stephen Graham Jones, David Heska Wanbli Weiden and Wurth.

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Yesterday's announcement about Paula Amendolara joining Sourcebooks contained an error about her title. Here is the correction version:

Paula Amendolara has joined Sourcebooks as senior v-p of sales. Most recently, she was v-p and director of sales, national accounts, at Simon & Schuster.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Drew Barrymore Show

Drew Barrymore Show: Neil deGrasse Tyson, co-author of Welcome to the Universe in 3D: A Visual Tour (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691194073).

The View repeat: Kevin and Danielle Jonas, authors of There's a Rock Concert in My Bedroom (Razorbill, $17.99, 9780593352076).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Annapolis 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, April 23
7 p.m. Willard Sterne Randall, author of The Founders' Fortunes: How Money Shaped the Birth of America (‎Dutton, $29, 9781524745929). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

Sunday, April 24
9:15 a.m. Harlan Ullman, author of The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: How Massive Attacks of Disruption Became the Looming Existential Danger to a Divided Nation and the World at Large (‎Post Hill Press, $28, 9781637581391). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 p.m.)

10 a.m. Greg Bluestein, author of Flipped: How Georgia Turned Purple and Broke the Monopoly on Republican Power (Viking, $29, 9780593489154). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Coverage of the Annapolis Book Festival in Annapolis, Md. Highlights include:

  • 2p.m. Susan Page, author of Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power (Twelve, $32.50, 9781538750698).
  • 2:51 p.m. Rep. Jamie Raskin, author of Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy (‎Harper, $27.99,  9780063209787).
  • 3:42 p.m. Theodore Johnson, author of When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802157850), and Adam Russell Taylor, author of A More Perfect Union: A New Vision for Building the Beloved Community (‎Broadleaf Books, $26.99, 9781506464534).
  • 4:33 p.m. Ali Noorani, author of Crossing Borders: The Reconciliation of a Nation of Immigrants (Rowman & Littlefield, $27, 9781538143506).
  • 5:14 p.m. Adam Harris, author of The State Must Provide: The Definitive History of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062976482), and Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316492935).
  • 6:15 p.m. John Della Volpe, author of Fight: How Gen Z Is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America (‎St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250260468).
  • 7 p.m. Terence Smith, author of Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House (Rowman & Littlefield, $32, 9781538160619).

Books & Authors

Awards: Wolfson History, RSL Ondaatje Shortlists

A shortlist of six titles has been selected for the 2022 Wolfson History Prize, which honors historical writing. The winner will be announced June 22 and receive £50,000 (about $65,300), and each finalist will receive £5,000 ($6,530).

The chair of the judges David Cannadine commented: "This year's Wolfson History Prize shortlist once again showcases the diversity and vigour of history writing in the U.K. The judges were impressed by the variety, originality, and quality of research demonstrated by the six shortlisted books. As well as being engaging reads, they are all highly deserving of a place in the eminent roll call of authors celebrated by the prize over the past fifty years."

The shortlisted titles are:

The Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs by Marc David Baer
The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World by Malcolm Gaskill
Devil-Land: England Under Siege, 1588-1688 by Clare Jackson
Going to Church in Medieval England by Nicholas Orme
God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulou
Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History by Alex von Tunzelmann


The shortlist has been released for the £10,000 (about $13,070) Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, which recognizes "an outstanding work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of a place." The winner will be announced on May 4. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore
Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape by Cal Flyn
Writing the Camp by Yousif M. Qasmiyeh 
Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera 
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
Free by Lea Ypi

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 26:

The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor--the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown (Crown, $35, 9780593138090) chronicles drama among British royals.

I'll Be You: A Novel by Janelle Brown (Random House, $28, 9780525479185) follows identical twin sisters/former child actors.

Continuous Creation: Last Poems by Les Murray (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374605636) is the final collection by the Australian poet who died in 2019.

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon (Gallery/Scout Press, $27.99, 9781982153953) is a ghostly thriller inspired by Frankenstein.

Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy (Portfolio, $26, 9780593418239) is an illustrated guide to handling difficult emotions.

Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable by Zain E. Asher (Amistad, $27.99, 9780063048836) is a memoir about a CNN anchor and her immigrant mother.

The Baby on the Fire Escape: Creativity, Motherhood, and the Mind-Baby Problem by Julie Phillips (Norton, $26.99, 9780393088595) explores links between famous artists and motherhood.

Bloom by Ruth Forman, illus. by Talia Skyles (Little Simon, $8.99, 9781665903035) is a board book celebration of African American girls as beautiful parts of the "human garden."

Children of the Forest by Matt Myers (Neal Porter Books, $18.99, 9780823447671) is a picture book featuring a boy and his toddler sister who set off to live lives of adventure in their backyard.

Skinship: Stories by Yoon Choi (Vintage, $17, 9780593311455).

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan (Clarion Books, $7.99, 9780358665984).

The Godel Operation by James L. Cambias (Baen, $8.99, 9781982191887).

Pain Killer: A Memoir of Big League Addiction by Brantt Myhres (Penguin, $16, 9780735239432).

Better Off Dead: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child and Andrew Child (Dell, $9.99, 9781984818539).

The Wolf (Black Dagger Brotherhood) by J.R. Ward (Pocket Books, $9.99, 9781982179885).

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:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Sign for Home: A Novel by Blair Fell (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $27, 9781982175955). "Unforgettable and completely unique! Fell illuminates DeafBlind life in Arlo Dilly, who will steal your heart as he journeys to experience life, independence, and to break free of those who having been holding him back. A must read!" --Maxwell Gregory, Madison Street Books, Chicago, Ill.

Portrait of an Unknown Lady: A Novel by María Gainza, trans. by Thomas Bunstead (Catapult, $24, 9781646220328). "This superb novel gives us María Gainza's singular storytelling talent. This time, a Buenos Aires art critic on the trail of a suspected master forger. More than one form of mystery unfolds and is revealed. Surprises abound." --Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

What Comes After: A Novel by JoAnne Tompkins (Riverhead, $17, 9780593086001). "Abandoned and homeless, a pregnant sixteen-year-old finds shelter in the home of a man who recently lost his son and his faith. What Comes After brims with feeling and is a poignant, redemptive story of loss and love. Keep tissues nearby." --Jane Simons, The Dog Eared Book, Palmyra, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Garden We Share by Zoë Tucker, illus. by Julianna Swaney (NorthSouth Books, $18.95,  9780735844841). "What a sweet, lovely, and colorful book! It teaches us about gardening and growing, but also about friendships, memories, and the impermanence of everything. A beautiful and touching book for young and old." --Sarah Fischer, Downbound Books, Cincinnati, Ohio

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 Most Precious Substance on Earth

The Most Precious Substance on Earth by Shashi Bhat (Grand Central, $28 hardcover, 272p., 9781538707913, June 28, 2022)

Shashi Bhat's dedication for her potent second novel, The Most Precious Substance on Earth, speaks volumes: "For the girls who stay quiet." Turn the page to an epigraph from Sophocles: "Silence is a woman's best garment." Bhat's protagonist--a Canadian of Indian background like herself--dons that quietude early, never quite shaking the reticence well into her adulthood.

Nina is a typical enough teenager in late-1990s Halifax, Nova Scotia. She's an only child; she tries mostly to ignore her parents who seem to spend their free time praying and singing in their basement "god room." She's in high school and has a best friend, Amy. They're both in band; they discover pot. To impress her English teacher, Nina decides to read his favorite epic poem, Beowulf. Her Mr. M obsession inspires "a new hobby: interacting with pedophiles in internet chatrooms... one pedophile in particular." The virtual danger proves to be far less threatening than the monster in the classroom. Nina doesn't tell Amy, she won't tell her parents, she can't tell anyone. At 14, her denial begins--mostly of her very self--but also all the conversations she never attempts with anyone else. Quiet defines her life. After college, she enters an MFA program at Johns Hopkins: "Why don't you contribute something to the conversation?" a caustic professor demands. Nina can't stay, returning home to her parents without her degree. She next resurfaces as an English teacher but triggering circumstances also truncate that career. Her latest incarnation at book's end affords her a voice online--for now.

Bhat (The Family Took Shape) divides her novel into two sections--high school and after--and 13 chapters that could easily stand alone as satisfying short stories. Several have indeed been notably, previously published: the titular "The Most Precious Substance on Earth" and "Facsimile" were chosen for Best Canadian Stories in 2019 and 2021, respectively, while "Mute" was a 2018 Journey Prize selection. Making its debut in a vocal era of awareness and empowerment, Substance might read like a dispirited outlier, and yet Bhat deftly counters with infusions of sly dark humor, healing opportunities and audacious joy: Nina's children's presentation, for example, of Rudolph/Santa/"Jingle Bells" via Bollywood remix at the annual Hindu talent show is a resounding delight. Savvy readers will realize early that Bhat's narrative is no easy read, but committed audiences will also parse, appreciate and retain what Nina has curated as "a gallery of only good things." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Shashi Bhat nimbly confronts the paralyzing dangers of silence that girls and women face, in a compelling novel that examines the adolescence-to-adulthood experiences of her Canadian Indian protagonist.

Deeper Understanding

The Future of Bookselling: Kelsey Jagneaux, Tombolo Books

Kelsey Jagneaux

Events coordinators have an essential but mighty variable role in the business of selling books. Between mics, projectors and Zoom, they're necessarily tech-savvy, but they're also capable public speakers and charming interlocutors, and detail-oriented enough to keep publishers, publicists, authors and deliveries all moving in a straight line in advance of an event. It's an impressive collection of skills, and I'm grateful for every unflappable and gracious events coordinator I've known.

Last year, I put together a two-store virtual event for Claire Cox and Daniel Lavery to celebrate the publication of Claire's debut novel, Silver Beach. Without the incredible Kelsey Jagneaux, it just couldn't have happened. She's a historian turned indie bookseller and events coordinator at the gorgeous Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she also co-hosts the store's weekly New Release Tuesday video series with the excellent veteran bookseller Amanda Hurley. She began her bookselling career in May 2020.

What's it like being a bookseller in your city? What have you learned about St. Pete from selling books there?

We are in such a golden moment for indie bookstores in St. Petersburg! Tombolo is lucky to share the stage with a few really stellar indies: Wilson's Book World, Book and Bottle, Cultured Books, Nerd Out Comics and Bess the Book Bus! I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Haslam's Books, which is the largest new and used bookstore in Florida. They closed at the start of the pandemic, and we haven't heard whether or not they're going to reopen yet. It really is a deeply missed St. Pete institution.

Tombolo opened in December 2019, right before the start of the pandemic. It is a testament to the power of indies and to the incredible dedication of our owners that we not only survived, but managed to thrive through it all. I have learned too much to even begin to get it all down here, but I will say one thing: I come from a very small town in south Louisiana where you can't even have a thought without everyone knowing about it. I feel more in tune with St. Petersburg than I ever did in my hometown. I credit that to being an indie bookseller, and even more so to being the events coordinator at an indie bookstore. You meet so many incredible people: authors, readers, journalists, artists. We have hosted everyone from politicians to community activists through our events program. Tombolo has really become this little microcosm of all the wonderful things about St. Petersburg. It's just wonderful to witness from the inside.

I've seen firsthand how special Tombolo is, and I've been incredibly impressed by your colleagues Alsace Walentine and Amanda Hurley for years. Who are your bookselling heroes?

Is it cliché to say my co-workers? I am constantly learning from all of them. Each one of them brings something uniquely their own to the store, to bookselling and to reading in general:

Andrew is the brains behind our incredible social media and is a champion of the small press. Serena runs book clubs like no other and has cultivated an incredible community of sci-fi and fantasy readers. Emily is our newest bookseller but has just picked it up and taken off with enthusiasm and can chat all day about contemporary romance and feel-good fiction. Nicole can just swoop into the bookstore at any moment and handle things (it's incredible!) while also finding time to lead our anti-racism book club. Amanda is just a powerhouse at the job and she's our own personal children's book buyer extraordinaire. And of course Candice and Alsace, our owners, are the glue that keeps it all together. The bookstore is really a reflection of them, and I think that's what makes it so magical.

What kinds of things do you do to promote a book that you really love?

I love this question because I have a really great example of the lengths I will go to to promote a book I love. So, back in October 2020 I read Mieko Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs for the first time and it blew me away! No other book has come close to topping it!

I started recommending it at any chance I got and would just talk about it incessantly to anyone who would listen. I still do, honestly. Then in spring 2021, when her new book, Heaven, was being released, there was an opportunity to pitch a proposal to have her for a virtual event. I of course jumped at the opportunity. I just knew an event would get people excited to read her work, so we sent our pitch to Europa and to really seal the deal, there might have been a mention of something along the lines of "I will probably throw up if Tombolo has the opportunity to host Mieko Kawakami."

We landed the event. I, thankfully, did not throw up, and we were the only indie bookstore in the U.S. to host her for that tour. It was incredible! Now dozens and dozens of Mieko Kawakami fans are roaming around Tampa Bay, and Breasts and Eggs was #3 on Tombolo's bestseller list for 2021!

Are your customers savvy about the difference between Amazon and independents?

I would say for the most part, yes. We are still always ready to gently educate customers about the importance of shopping local and remind them of the value of an indie bookstore in a community, if need be. However, I think anyone who walks into Tombolo and has the experience of being handed a pile of books selected to their individual taste by a bookseller completely sees that value. Through our events program, people definitely recognize the role a bookstore can play in creating a community space. And our customers are loyal and so supportive. We regularly get the "I don't want to get this from Amazon. I want to get this from you!" Customers have also been so receptive to places like Bookshop and Libro as well!

What do you do when you're not in the store?

This question is always so funny to me because the honest answer is: read. More specifically, read on the beach. As someone who is not from Florida, the ease of access I have to a beach has not lost its charm at all, even four years later.

What is your favorite fictional depiction of a bookstore in film or on the page?

I'll let readers guess. Here is your clue: "I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." In fact, I love it so much that my Instagram bio reads "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to move 'cause he is blocking the cheese plate." And I think my version carries the same depth of emotion as the original, don't you? --Jeff Waxman

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