Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 1, 2022: Maximum Shelf: Hester

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 1, 2022

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


Best Little Wine & Books Opens in Lockhart, Tex.

Best Little Wine & Books, a 700-square-foot wine shop that carries a heavily curated selection of books, has opened in Lockhart, Tex., Chron reported.

Owner and sommelier Kaye Askins carries 150 types of wine, with a focus on women and minority winemakers using sustainable practices, and the store has a book inventory of around 40 titles. Most of those books pertain to wine, spirits, cocktails, cuisine or travel, and Askins plans to expand that selection.

Prior to opening Best Little Wine & Books, Askins worked in the restaurant industry, most recently as the senior beverage manager for restaurants at Eataly Dallas, where she was responsible for 47,000 square feet of restaurant space. While she had always wanted to open a wine and book shop of her own, she imagined it as something she would do much later in life, possibly after she retired.

That was until her partner heard of a building in Lockhart that would be perfect for her plans and pointed it out to her. She was enamored with it immediately and scheduled a tour for the next day. The building dates back to 1945 and was originally the town clinic. "Everything about it was so perfect," Askins told Chron. "It was very serendipitous."

She held a grand opening celebration for the store in April.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Bill Preston Retiring from Sourcebooks

Bill Preston

Bill Preston, senior account executive, mass merchant and new business development, at Sourcebooks, is retiring, effective tomorrow. He has been with Sourcebooks since 2010 and earlier was senior v-p, retail sales, at Baker & Taylor for 14 years and was head of sales at Pacific Pipeline. He may be reached via e-mail.

Sourcebooks said, "For the past 12 years, we at Sourcebooks have had the absolute pleasure of working with Bill Preston. He joined us with the intention of retiring after just a couple years, but ended up staying for another decade after that! Bill is a dedicated reader in all genres, never passing up a good book, whether it's a Western, Young Adult, fantasy, nonfiction, romance, and everything in between. A true sales leader, Bill is a devoted advocate for his customers and readers everywhere. He brings joy and good conversation to everyone he meets.

"Bill, we will miss you dearly but wish you the absolute best in your retirement! THANK YOU for your years of service to the Sourcebooks mission. We hope you will enjoy some rejuvenating hiking, plenty of family time, and reading life changing books."

Jenn Risko, publisher of Shelf Awareness, said, "Much of who I am professionally is because of Bill, in so many ways. He took me in as a new pup all those years ago at Pacific Pipeline and continues to this day to be the voice in my head about how to do better. I will miss his anchorman voice, his love of our industry, and his fun and lovely presence."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Luisa Cruz Smith Named Editor-in-Chief of the Mysterious Press

Luisa Cruz Smith

Luisa Cruz Smith has been named editor-in-chief of the Mysterious Press, effective July 1. For many years, Smith has been head buyer at Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif. For the past three years, she has also been editor-in-chief, a part-time position, of Scarlet, which like the Mysterious Press, is an imprint of Penzler Publishers; she will retain that position. She can be reached at

"In my more than four decades in publishing, I have never known another editor so skilled at working with authors on all facets of a manuscript to make it the best it can be," said Otto Penzler, president of Penzler Publishers. "The books on which she has worked have received consistently exceptional reviews.... Having Luisa join Penzler Publishers on a full-time basis is thrilling and will enable us to continue the growth that we've experienced over the past year."

Smith commented: "I am thrilled to be given this opportunity as some of my favorite writers are published by The Mysterious Press. I am looking forward to working with the impressive list of current authors and discovering exciting new voices to best represent the imprint in its next chapter."

Charles Perry, publisher of all four Penzler Publishers imprints, added: "Luisa has done a great job acquiring and developing psychological suspense authors for Scarlet over the past three years, and I'm excited to see her bring her editorial vision and expertise to The Mysterious Press."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Freadom Festival Debuting in Portland, Ore., on June 18

The Freadom Festival, a book festival focused on Black literature, will make its debut in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, June 18. 

According to Oregon Live, the one-day event will take place in Peninsula Park from noon to 6 p.m. and will feature talks with local authors Kesha Ajose Fisher (No God Like the Mother) and Kim Johnson (This Is My America), a children's reading hour, a zine-making craft station, library card sign-ups and more.

"I want to carve out a space for people who look like me to feel seen and to be heard," organizer Nanea Woods said. "Especially in this literary space, because we don't often get that attention." She also explained that she made an effort to schedule the festival for Juneteenth because "how we obtained our freedom has a lot to do with reading and literacy."

Woods hopes the event will have a picnic atmosphere, and in addition to the book events, there will be Black-owned food trucks and DJs playing music. Third Eye Books, Portland's only Black-owned bookstore, will donate books to the festival and also be the event's official bookseller.

Wood is also the creator of a book club for women of color called Prose Before Bros. Founded three years ago, it now has more than 400 subscribers and its monthly meetings have a cap of 46 attendees.

She added that she loves "the literary community in general in Portland. I've just been cold-calling pretty much everybody that I could think of and all the things that I know are book related, and just the amount of support and just people willing to do anything they can and help... I'm, like, crying every day."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


Image of the Day: Third Place Books Honors Michael Coy

In honor of Michael Coy's 48-year career in bookselling, his contributions to the greater Seattle book community and his lasting impact as the manager at Third Place Books, Ravenna, Wash., Third Place Books has named its entrance to its Ravenna location "Michael Coy Way." A street sign bearing the Seattle bookselling legend's name has been permanently installed at the entrance to the Ravenna parking lot.

Coy opened the iconic Bailey Coy Books in Seattle with Barbara Bailey in 1981 and then opened and ran M Coy Books in Seattle from 1990 to 2009 (when the store lost its lease).

Third Place Books' managing partner Robert Sindelar recalled, "When I heard Michael's store lost its lease, we were in the midst of reinventing our Ravenna location. I knew it was a long shot, asking this bookselling legend if he'd want to work for someone else (me), but I had to ask. Lucky for me, Third Place Books and the Ravenna community, he said yes."

Coy managed Third Place Books Ravenna for 11 years until he retired in 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sindelar added, "We couldn't celebrate Michael's retirement properly at the time (for health and safety issues). So I was thrilled we were able to host a party recently for the Seattle book community to honor Michael and finally give him his retirement gift--his own street sign at the store he helped build."

Pictured: (l.-r.) Kalani Kapahua, current manager, Third Place Books, Ravenna; Robert Sindelar, managing partner, Third Place Books; Michael Coy, former manager, Third Place Books, Ravenna; and Ron Sher, founder of Third Place Books, celebrating the sign's unveiling yesterday.

Baseball Team Opens 'World's Smallest Bookstore'

The Savannah Bananas, a minor-league team in Savannah, Ga., known for its unusual approach to baseball (players dance and sing and have worn kilts, for example), has opened what it calls "the World's Smallest Bookstore," under the stands of its home field, Grayson Stadium, WJCL News reported. With a maximum capacity of "1," the store features many copies of a singe book: Fans First: Change the Game, Break the Rules, & Create an Unforgettable Experience by Jesse Cole, owner of the team (who always wears a yellow tuxedo).

Cole commented: "We had to figure out how we could launch the book in a unique way, and, yes, this was an old storage closet we used for cleaning supplies, and we said, 'Yup, this is perfect for the bookstore.' "

Coincidentally the New York Times profiled the team yesterday, highlighting its "TikTok choreography, dancing umpires, a ballet-trained first-base coach," all making the Bananas' baseball games more entertaining than most.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Gelles on Fresh Air

Today Show: Sarah Kate-Ellis and Kristen Ellis-Henderson, authors of All Moms (little bee books, $17.99, 9781499812633).

Good Morning America: Don McLean, author of Don McLean's American Pie: A Fable (Meteor 17 Books, $17.99, 9781957317014).

Fresh Air: David Gelles, author of The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America--and How to Undo His Legacy (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982176440).

Ellen: Lilly Singh, author of Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life into Shape (Ballantine, $20, 9780593357811).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Mark T. Esper, author of A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times (Morrow, $35, 9780063144316).

Tonight Show repeat: Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart (Picador, $16.50, 9781529033793).

Movies: The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) will play the lead female role of Lucy Gray Baird, joining recently announced Tom Blyth as the young Coriolanus Snow, in Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, Deadline reported. Directed by Francis Lawrence, the latest draft of the screenplay is by Michael Lesslie, who is building on the work of Collins and Michael Arndt. The movie will hit theaters around the world on November 17, 2023.

"When you read Suzanne's book, Lucy Gray's emotional intelligence, physical agility, and fiercely powerful, determined singing voice shine through. Rachel embodies all of those skills--she is the perfect choice for our Lucy Gray," said Nathan Kahane, president, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.

Lawrence commented: "Like everybody, I first saw Rachel Zegler in West Side Story, and like everybody, I knew I was watching a star who would command the screen for a generation.  Lucy Gray is a perfect match for her as an actress: the character is bold, independent, and defiant, but also vulnerable, emotional, and loving. Rachel will make this character unforgettable."

Books & Authors

Awards: Jhalak, Four Quartets Winners

Sabba Khan won the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Color for her debut graphic novel The Roles We Play, while Maisie Chan took the Jhalak Children's & YA Prize for Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, illustrated by Anh Cao. The winning authors each receive £1,000 (about $1,245) along with a unique work of art created by artists chosen for the annual Jhalak Art Residency.

Judge Mary Jean Chan said she read and reread The Roles We Play, and found it to be "a powerful, moving and thought-provoking story which shimmers with hard-earned wisdom and wonder, one that is beautifully written and vividly drawn," the Guardian reported. Judge Chimene Suleyman praised Khan as "an impeccable storyteller who commands the page in every way" and Stephen Thompson called the book "unexpected and moving.... There is a timeless quality to the story as it moves between time and place. This is a sumptuous book, and the images are absolutely stupendous."

Judge Patrice Lawrence said she loved Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths for the "warm-heartedness, humor and nuanced way it approaches the challenges of being a child negotiating multiple identities." Nii Ayikwei Parkes called the book "subversive without ever losing its sense of unbridled fun," and Sufiya Ahmed said it was "warm and funny" and a "great class read for schoolchildren everywhere."

Prize director Sunny Singh said: "This year, the judges have picked two pioneering books that are courageous, full of heart and break new ground for publishing today and open pathways to writers and creatives of color who shall follow. These are two books for the new literary canon."


Muriel Leung is the winner of the 2022 Four Quartets Prize for her collection Imagine Us, The Swarm (Nightboat Books). The judges also named two finalists: Desiree C. Bailey for her book What Noise Against the Cane (Yale University Press) and Forrest Gander for his poem "Twice Alive" from his book Twice Alive (New Directions). Leung receives an award of $21,000, and each finalist receives $1,000.

Sponsored by the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, the prize honors "a unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book."

Judges said that Imagine Us, The Swarm "both challenges the speaker and the reader to ask hard questions surrounding Asian American identity, assimilation, labor, grief, and intergenerational trauma. This isn't just a book about a father's passing, but how a death propels new thinking and a detachment from conventional notions of work ethic, immigration, love, and identity. Leung's book is as much as a speculative exploration of a personal and possible Asian American identity, as it is a reckoning with the past and grief. 'I kiss the flooding and it kisses me back. Grief pours through me like a sieve. Its aftermath of sand and salt debris grows heavy at the banks. I kiss that too,' writes Leung. Formally inventive yet nodding to history; disjunctive yet connected; cerebral yet full of heart; swarm-like yet individual; Leung's book is a marvel of innovative writing toward imagination, as she says in the final poem, 'Suppose there is an end to our suffering... All the possibilities of the swarm ignite.' "

Reading with... Chip Rossetti

photo: New York University

Chip Rossetti is a translator of Arabic literature and editorial director for the Library of Arabic Literature bilingual book series at NYU Press. Books he has translated include Beirut, Beirut by Sonallah Ibrahim; the graphic novel Metro: A Story of Cairo by Magdy El Shafee; Utopia by Egyptian science fiction pioneer Ahmed Khaled Tawfik; and No Windmills in Basra, a collection of flash fiction by Iraqi writer Diaa Jubaili (Deep Vellum, August 2, 2022). He translated Animals in Our Days by Egyptian writer Mohamed Makhzangi (Syracuse University Press, June 14, 2022), a story collection that traces the mystical, almost supernatural, connections between our species and others.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Haunting Egyptian stories--each about a different animal--on humanity's need to regain the awe and humility that once characterized our relationship with other species.

On your nightstand now:

At the moment, I'm just finishing Muhsin al-Ramli's The President's Gardens, translated by Luke Leafgren. Al-Ramli deftly balances a story of three lifelong friends in an Iraqi village with some of the most harrowing events of Iraq's recent history. I'm also rereading a novel that I enjoyed as a teenager: Satyrday, by the poet Steven Bauer. It's a dark folktale involving a villainous owl that steals the moon from the sky in a world full of talking animals, including, naturally, a satyr. It reads like a grimmer C.S. Lewis, and I wish it were better known. Up next is Emily St. John Mandel's Sea of Tranquility. I loved The Glass Hotel, but I may be the only person on the planet who has not read (or seen) Station Eleven. I promise I'll get to it eventually.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Hands down, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I can still recall the day I was taken to a bookstore for my sixth birthday to pick out a present for myself. That was the book I chose. It's a fantastic introduction to the stories, and in the best tradition of children's books, the illustrations left a deep impression on me and are now permanently imprinted in my brain. I'm happy to say I still have my copy after all these years--although its jacket has long since been lost--and that my sons love it as much as I did.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order: Viet Thanh Nguyen, for his razor-sharp (and very funny!) fiction on the head-spinning aftermaths of war and colonialism; Gamal al-Ghitani, for the remarkable variety of his novels, from mordant historical fiction to mystical works and social satire on Egyptian life; Anne Carson, as both poet and translator; Sam Lipsyte, whose novels make me laugh out loud; and Ian McEwan.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't read Jorge Luis Borges until late in life, but I'd had plenty of conversations where I would knowingly nod my head when his name came up. In graduate school, I realized that the subject of my dissertation, the Iraqi writer Muhammad Khudayyir, wrote books that were very much in conversation with Borges's. That prompted me to finally buy a copy of Borges's Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley, and discover the brilliance I had been missing out on.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Where to start? Pushing my favorite books on friends and acquaintances is a personal hobby of mine, but if I have to pick one, I choose the novel Wûf by Kemal Varol, translated from Turkish by Dayla Rogers. As with Makhzangi's Animals in Our Days, it foregrounds animals in a story about human folly and brutality. It tells the story of the Kurdish uprising in southeastern Turkey and its harsh military suppression, from the point of view of a dog narrator--an older, partially paralyzed hound with a world-weary point of view and a delightful penchant for smoking cigarettes.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge, translated by Jeremy Tiang. The blood-red moon in a starry sky over city lights was irresistible. The novel itself, about a Chinese cryptozoologist and the near-human species that populate her city, is just as good.

Book you hid from your parents:

I can't recall hiding books from them, but I certainly raided their library quite a bit in high school and college, which introduced me to writers like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, as well as mid-century classics like Albert Camus's The Plague and William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Book that changed your life:

As an undergrad classics major, I took a seminar on Herodotus's Histories, a text that touched a nerve with me. Straddling the unstable border between history and legend, the Histories opened up my lifelong interest in travel writing, both ancient and modern. I later discovered the riches of geographical and travel writing in Arabic (Ibn Battutah, Ibn Fadlan) and of the Islamic Middle East more broadly (Evliya Çelebi, Nasir-i Khusraw). I'm currently translating an Arabic text on the "wonders of the world" by Abu Hamid al-Gharnati, a 12th-century Andalusian who traveled as far as central Russia and Hungary, and who no doubt would have gotten on famously with Herodotus, if only the two of them could have met.

Favorite line from a book:

The final line of the novel Basrayatha by Muhammad Khudayyir, translated into English by William Hutchins. Some set-up: the book is Khudayyir's homage to his hometown of Basra, depicted as a palimpsest of histories and memories that stubbornly endure in spite of the best efforts of war, time and officialdom to erase them. In the last scene, as the narrator walks through the bombed-out city at night, he hears music playing in the empty street, a joyous ghostly symphony celebrating the city's survival. The final lines read: "The city repeats the song. The city is dancing. It strips itself to fly. The dead emerge from the netherworld and share in the singing." It never fails to send shivers up my spine as a depiction of hope against loss and forgetting.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Travels of Ibn Battutah, edited by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Impostures by the 11th-century Iraqi author al-Hariri, translated by Michael Cooperson.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Another childhood favorite, which I checked out multiple times from my school library: Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld, a story of Roman schoolboys solving a mystery to clear their classmate's name. If I could have lived in a novel as a child, it would have been that one. Winterfeld wrote in German and had an old-school classical education, but only as an adult did I learn that this author from another era was in fact a German Jewish refugee from the Nazis who lived only one state over from me.

Five translations of contemporary Arabic fiction you recommend for a beginner:

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright
The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, translated by Denis Johnson-Davies
The Story of Zahra by Hanan al-Shaykh, translated by Peter Ford
Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price

Book Review

Children's Review: Chester Keene Cracks the Code

Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon (Wendy Lamb Books, $16.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 8-12, 9781524715991, July 5, 2022)

Kekla Magoon (The Season of Styx Malone), recipient of four Coretta Scott King Honors, gives middle-grade readers a heartfelt novel featuring two preteens trying to solve a mystery.

Eleven-year-old Chester Keene once overheard his mom say "raising [him] alone is really stressful," so he tries "hard not to give her any more problems." This means that he thrives on routines: he wakes up, showers and eats breakfast at the same time every day; Monday to Thursday you can find him (alone) at the local bowling alley after school and on Fridays he goes to laser tag. Chester is observant--he pays close attention to the people and things around him, as evidenced by the notes he keeps in an overflowing notebook. So, it comes as a huge surprise to Chester when one of his classmates, Skye, approaches him during lunch to help her solve a puzzle. While the request to be social makes him apprehensive, he is curious about the clue, which is very similar to two others he received at home. Chester, who has secretly been e-mailing his estranged father, believes that his dad planned a secret mission for him, and Skye must be in on it.

At first, Chester is hesitant to work with Skye--not only does she disrupt his routine, but the two kids couldn't be more different from each other. Skye is messy and outgoing while Chester is organized and solitary. But as their friendship flourishes, Chester begins to appreciate their differences and realize that they have a lot more in common than he thought. After weeks of working together to solve riddles, the middle-schoolers accidentally stumble upon a robbery. This new development soon opens a Pandora's box of life-changing events, and the robbery lands the kids in some hot water.

Magoon breaks up this sweet and witty novel into short chapters with accessible language that will make middle-grade readers eager to crack the code and solve the mysteries for themselves. She intelligently includes topics such as bullying, parental abandonment and friendships as she perfectly navigates Chester's complicated, secretive and sensitive inner life. In Chester Keene Cracks the Code, Magoon makes space for and celebrates the sensitive and solitary middle-grade readers who are happiest flying under the radar. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this charming novel, a pre-teen works with a friend to crack a code and solve a mystery.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in May

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during May:

1. Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Sentence by Louise Erdrich (HarperAudio)
3. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan (HarperAudio)
5. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (HarperAudio)
6. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
7. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (HarperAudio)
8. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Recorded Books)
9. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (HarperAudio)
10. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection by Beverly Cleary (HarperAudio)

1. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Tantor Media)
2. Finding Me by Viola Davis (HarperAudio)
3. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Hello, Molly! by Molly Shannon and Sean Wilsey (HarperAudio)
6. Ten Steps to Nanette by Hannah Gadsby (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. The Palace Papers by Tina Brown (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. These Precious Days by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
10. The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (HarperAudio)

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