Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 17, 2022


Workman Publishing: Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think about Abortion by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Quotation of the Day

Juneteenth: 'For Me, It Is My Independence Day'

"History books have given us very little about Juneteenth. July 4th is a great day, filled with parades, speeches, reenactments, sales, barbecues, and is a day off to reflect and appreciate the hard earned freedoms that we celebrate in these United States. I have always been a fan, mostly because I learned early on that the first man to die in the Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks, a black man. I felt like I was included in this day of celebration.

"As I grew older and learned more about our storied history, I felt more and more removed from the celebrations. People who looked like me continued to be owned for 100 years after the end of the Revolutionary War. It wasn't until I learned about Juneteenth that I realized what had been missing for me from July 4th: Freedom.

"So, when people ask me about the importance of Juneteenth and how to celebrate it, I say just like the other independence days. Celebrate with pride and parades and good food and family, but with greater knowledge, compassion, and a deeper understanding of the complexity of the United States. We are still not a perfect union, but we continue to try. Knowledge is power...."

--Ray Daniels, chief communications officer of the American Booksellers Association, in Bookselling This Week

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox


News

Grand Opening for Novelette Booksellers in East Nashville, Tenn.

Novelette Booksellers hosted its grand opening yesterday at 1101 Chapel Ave. in East Nashville, Tenn. Co-owners Deezy Violet and Jordan Tromblee describe their bookshop as "a fun, vibey, safe space for book lovers of all ages. We boast a highly curated selection of both fiction and nonfiction books by diverse authors, and a great selection of graphic novels. With an eye for inclusivity and celebration of our differences, Novelette strives to be inclusive to people of all backgrounds."

Novelette is the first business to locate in the renovated Hobson Chapel building within the Eastwood Village development, the Tennessean reported, adding that the owners are familiar faces in the East Nashville scene and their new bookstore "is decorated with vibrant colors--there are bubblegum pink bookshelves, lime green display tables and a bright, yellow-painted wall with mushroom imagery. Checkered rugs are laid out on the floor."

"We hope our shop feels fun and inclusive to everyone," Violet said. "We care a lot about having a no judgment zone for people's reading tastes and encouraging people to read for fun, not just because they feel like they have to."

Being "an LGBTQ-owned business and the first in the space, which was once a church and school, has brought in pressure and excitement" for the co-owners, WPLN reported. 

Novelette owners Jordan Tromblee and Deezy Violet.

"We're just anticipating a few challenges of being the first business open in this complex where, you know, the more businesses that come in, the better it'll be for us because we'll be on a map more," Tromblee said. "But we also kind of get to set the tone for what comes in.... We just kind of wanted you to know right off the bat when you get in here: like, celebrate yourself. You don't have to hide. You can ask us anything. We're here for you."

Violet added: "We just thought it would be really fun to have a bookstore that kind of reflected us, but also sort of like filled in the gaps in town because, while we love the other bookstores that are in town, there is definitely, like, a lack of color and a little bit of a lack of whimsy. And we just wanted to kind of fill that space in, so that children and adults could just have a fun, happy time when they walk in here."

In an Instagram post, the co-owners noted: "We hopefully get to help shape the community, support authors we love, and bring some joy in this crazy insane world. This project means the world to us. It's a literal dream to own a bookstore. To be surrounded by art, stories, words that carry weight, and chat with fellow book lovers daily... what?! We are too lucky!

"This doesn't mean this project wasn't time consuming, tedious at times, and literally back breaking labor (we put away over 130 boxes of books)! But this project fired up our imaginations, affirmed our love of books, and has connected us to East Nashville more deeply."


Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad


San Francisco's Libreria Pino Moves to Larger Space

Libreria Pino, the Italian-language bookstore in North Beach in San Francisco, Calif., has relocated to 1501 Grant Avenue. Hoodline reported that since opening as a pop-up store in 2017, Libreria Pino "has outgrown several different locations in the neighborhood. Now, the bookstore's starting a fresh chapter in bigger digs that will serve as its long-term home."

For the past 18 months, owner Joseph Carboni has worked to transform the site of a former bakery "into a light and airy haven for Italian literature lovers," Hoodline wrote. "The inviting loft-style space features exposed ceiling beams and brick walls, rows of streamlined white bookcases, and sleek chrome and leather seating." The bookshop had spent four years in a small spot on Union Street, but Carboni knew it couldn't accommodate his shop for the long haul.

"We are, I believe, the only bookstore dedicated to the promotion of Italian language books and literature," he said. "I think I looked at, or heard about, every single retail space in the neighborhood and most of them were a similar size. A small space means limited square footage and possibility for how much inventory you can fit."

Carboni found the new site in December 2020. "After sketching design plans and getting the green light on his business proposal from the building owners, he was ready to move forward with construction at the beginning of 2021," but the pandemic caused delays, though he said the setbacks actually proved to be a blessing in disguise.

"Everything was on-hold, everybody was staying home," Carboni recalled. "So it was the perfect time, I think, to undergo a construction project. It's been an amazing journey, one that required a lot of patience. But here we are in June of 2022, and the dream has become a reality."

While the bookstore's main focus continues to be Italian literature, Carboni noted that with more room he can also offer more English-language titles: "Now that we're here and have this opportunity in this space, we can be more flexible and see what the neighborhood is looking for. Of course, we also want to work with, and be respectful of, all the other existing bookstores in San Francisco and make a positive contribution to the literary landscape. We're just so excited to be here and to have had so much positive feedback from our new neighbors."


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International Update: Australian Booksellers Gather for In-Person Conference; Booksellers of the Year

Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan checked in just after the ABA Conference and Trade Exhibition, held earlier this week in Sydney and in person for the first time since the pandemic began. "There was a genuine positivity at the event, and a real desire to move on from our rolling lockdowns," Egan wrote. "Putting a program together is an interesting exercise as we look to balance the needs of individual members while maintaining focus on issues that affect us all. I believe we struck a good balance between hearing from brilliant authors and diving into industry issues. Diversity is something I felt we needed to keep on the boil--to discuss, mull over, work to be better. We don't want panels to discuss it endlessly, as Dani Solomon said, we need to widen our gaze. 

"On that topic, I thought our keynote speaker, Gamilaroi woman, writer and academic, Amy Thunig, was brilliant. A storyteller and a formidable intellect, Thunig spoke about the power of community and family love, and the need for us to work harder in our industry (and everywhere else) to respect and grow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. Our other theme was sustainability, and Angela Meyer delivered a brilliant speech on the stark realities of climate change and our own industry. There is much to consider in how we engage in our industry. We look forward to Angela's final report later this year."

The ABA Bookseller of the Year Award 2022 winners, who were announced at the gala dinner Sunday night, are Becky Lucas of Shakespeare's Bookshop, Blackwood, S.A. (Children's Bookseller), Kimaya Charlton of Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop, West End, Qld. (Young Bookseller) and Melanie Peacock of Constant Reader, Crows Nest, N.S.W. (Bookseller of the Year).

--- 

Alan Johnston

Alan Johnston, marketing director at Irish book and stationery chain Bookstation, is this year's recipient of the O'Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award, which is presented "in recognition of outstanding achievement or an invaluable contribution to the trade by an individual bookseller," the Bookseller reported. The winner receives The Elements, a bronze trophy created by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie, and a commemorative certificate.

Johnston said: "Thank you, I am delighted to have received the O'Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award, and I would especially like to dedicate it to the fantastic Bookstation team who made it possible."

Brenda Boyne, sales manager at the publisher, added: "It was a pleasure to present the O'Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award to Alan Johnston at Bookstation. Alan was nominated by his peers in the trade, for his enthusiasm and his genuine love of books. He is a deserving winner of this year's award."

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Buchhandlung am Färberturm, a bookshop in Gunzenhausen, Germany, launched a campaign aimed at combating racism and educating children about diversity. The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that "in cooperation with the Buchhandlung Stoll bookshop, Buchhandlung am Färberturm distributed crayons of all skin colors, as well as children's books on diversity, to local primary schools and kindergartens. As part of the campaign, a children's painting competition was organized, with 16 of the submitted paintings printed as postcards and sold in bookshops. The proceeds will be donated to organizations that are committed to combating racism." 

--- 

Canadian bookshop wedding photos: "Danielle and Darryl stopped in to share their special day with us and take a few beautiful pictures! Congratulations to the happy couple!" River Bookshop, Amherstburg, Ont., posted on Facebook. --Robert Gray


Obituary Note: A.B. Yehoshua

A.B. Yehoshua

Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, who, "along with other acclaimed storytellers, planted his nation on the map of world literature with human portraits that captured the discordant condition of living in a land fraught with moral and political conundrums," died June 14, the New York Times reported. He was 85.

Yehoshua was among the first writers of fiction "to give literary expression to the suffering and moral dilemmas" set off by the war that followed Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, said Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, professor emeritus of comparative literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

Over the course of 11 novels, three short-story collections and four plays, Yehoshua "tackled a variety of narrative forms--from surrealist to historical--and delved into knotty or uncommon subjects," the Times noted. His books include The Lover; A Late Divorce; Five Seasons; Mr. Mani, which won the National Jewish Book Award for fiction; Open Heart; The Liberated Bride; A Woman in Jerusalem; Friendly Fire: A Duet; The Retrospective; The Tunnel; The Death of the Old Man; and The Terrible Power of a Minor Guilt

"Nearly every one of Buli's fictions changed the conversation and constituted an innovation in modern Hebrew fiction, either in form or content," said DeKoven Ezrahi, using the writer's nickname.

In a video profile of Yehoshua as a 2017 recipient of Israel's Dan David Prize, the author said, "Laughter and tears are the best vitamins for good writing." 

Yehoshua's books were translated into 28 languages. He won the Israel Prize, awarded annually by the state for important cultural contributions, and in 2005 he was shortlisted for the first Man Booker International Prize, then given for an entire body of work.

"In one movement of his imaginative wings, he would show us just how banal and absurd, just how the reality--especially of ours, in Israel--is surrealistic," Israeli novelist David Grossman observed.  

Yehoshua's legacy "is a complex one," the Guardian wrote. "He repeatedly urged diaspora Jews to return to Israel and at the same time championed Palestinian rights. To the outside world, this may have seemed a contradiction, but to the Israeli left, such dreams and ideals were necessary in the dark intifada years. Certainly Yehoshua was never afraid to criticize his people for their attachment to the diaspora. 'Even Abraham chose exile rather than the Promised Land. And he was the first Jew,' he said."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!

How Am I Doing?
40 Conversations to Have with Yourself

by Dr. Corey Yeager

GLOW: Harper Celebrate: How Am I Doing?: 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself by Dr. Corey YeagerWho is the most important person in your life? What determines your joy? What mistakes have you learned from the most? Corey Yeager--a psychotherapist who works with the Detroit Pistons basketball franchise--poses 40 self-reflective questions to facilitate positive personal change. His inviting, empathetic approach came to prominence via the Apple TV series The Me You Can't See, produced by Oprah and Prince Harry. Dr. Yeager draws from his own life story to dispel mental health stigmas and help others gain greater personal clarity. Danielle Peterson, senior acquisition editor at Harper Celebrate, says, "The format of How Am I Doing? makes it a stand-out in the mental health genre--an excellent choice for someone looking for high-density wisdom in small, bite-sized doses." Yeager's winning insights deliver a slam-dunk of empowered inspiration bound to elicit tremendous personal reward. --Kathleen Gerard

(Harper Celebrate, $22.99 hardcover, 9781400236763, 
October 18, 2022)

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Notes

Image of the Day: 'Three Generations of Booksellers'

"Do you know that only 13% of all family businesses make it to the third generation?" Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., asked in a Facebook post. "This month, Claire, Casey [Coonerty Protti]'s daughter and Neal [Coonerty]'s granddaughter, started as a seasonal employee at Bookshop. Although there is a long way to go before the next generation may take over, it's fun to have three generations of passionate booksellers work side by side. We are doing everything we can to ensure we'll be here for another 50 years."


Chalkboard: Warwick's

Warwick's bookstore, La Jolla, Calif., shared a photo of its "summer reading treasures" chalkboard, noting: "This chalkboard art by long-time Warwick's Children's Bookseller Extraordinaire, Laura, captures that magical feeling of infinite possibility that a summer immersed in reading can bring. It also pays homage to the Pacific Ocean that is mere steps away from Warwick's!"


'Seven Boozy Bookshops Across the Country'

"A comfortable chair. A glass of something satisfying at your side and a good book in your lap. It sounds like a perfect evening for many people who enjoy literary pursuits and libations," Wine Enthusiast magazine noted in featuring "Pints and Pages: Seven Boozy Bookshops Across the Country."

"Thankfully, there are a handful of bookstores around the country that offer a chance to browse and select books and will even pour you a drink in the process. These community and literary hubs have the bonus of beer, wine and spirits, with selections often as well-curated as what you’ll find on the bookshelves," Wine Enthusiast said. "Boozy bookshops have struck a chord with consumers. The combination of two quiet recreational activities is a welcome one, and shops offering this duo might be closer to home than you know."


Personnel Changes at Random House

At Random House:

Taylor Noel is promoted to assistant director of marketing, Ballantine.

Kathleen Quinlan is promoted to assistant director of marketing, Ballantine.

Corina Diez is promoted to marketing associate, Ballantine and the Dial Press.

Megan Whalen joins as associate marketing manager at Ballantine.

Tori Henson has joined the Del Rey marketing team as an associate marketing manager.



Media and Movies

On Stage: The Devil Wears Prada Musical

The pre-Broadway engagement of the Elton John-Shaina Taub musical The Devil Wears Prada, based on Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel and the 2006 film adaptation, "is showing its fashion sense for the first time in Prada-appropriate stylized photos," Deadline reported. 

The production, which will run for a limited five-week engagement in Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre July 19-August 21, stars Beth Leavel as Miranda Priestly and Taylor Iman Jones as Andy Sachs "and the new photos show the actors looking suitably chic as the iconic fashionistas," Deadline noted. Broadway plans have not yet been disclosed.

Directed by Anna D. Shapiro, with music by John and lyrics by Taub, and a book by Kate Wetherhead, the musical features choreography by James Alsop. The cast also includes Javier Muñoz, Christiana Cole, Megan Masako Haley, Tiffany Mann, Michael Tacconi and Christian Thompson.


TV: I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness

Tomorrow Studios will adapt the novel I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins for TV. Deadline reported that Emmy Award-winning director Stephanie Laing (Physical) will re-team with Tomorrow Studios and screenwriter/author Alissa Nutting (Made for Love) for the project.

In  a joint statement, Tomorrow Studios CEO/partner Marty Adelstein and president/partner Becky Clements said: "We love working with Stephanie on Physical because of her incredible talent for showcasing complex stories of female empowerment in a way that resonates with a global audience. We're excited to work with her and prolific writer Alissa to bring Claire's powerful work to television, and we are proud to have a strong team of women spearheading this incredible project." Adelstein and Clements will executive produce, along with Laing, Nutting and Watkins. Alissa Bachner will co-executive produce.


Books & Authors

Awards: YOTO Carnegie, Kate Greenaway Winners; Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Shortlist

Katya Balen won the YOTO Carnegie Medal for children's literature for her novel October, October, illustrated by Angela Harding; and Danica Novgorodoff's illustrated edition of Jason Reynold's 2019 Carnegie-shortlisted book, Long Way Down, took the YOTO Kate Greenaway Medal for excellence in illustration. The winners each receive £500 (about $625) worth of books to donate to their local library of their choice, a specially commissioned gold medal and the £5,000 (about $6,270) Colin Mears Award. The prizes are judged by children's librarians across the U.K.

Chair of judges Jennifer Horan said both winners "provide outstanding reading experiences for young people," describing October, October as "a captivating story featuring exquisite descriptions of the natural world and relationships that develop and heal. It is an expertly written, beautiful and lyrical novel alive with wonder and curiosity." Horan called Novgorodoff's work "a brilliant, innovative adaptation of the novel by Jason Reynolds. It uses stunning watercolor to powerfully portray the tragedy of gun violence and the emotional impact it has on young people's lives." 

Balen said: "I am so thrilled to have won the Yoto Carnegie Medal, not only because it's the award every children's writer dreams about, but because it is so committed to promoting reading and sharing stories. Sharing stories is something I believe to be one of the most important parts of our lives, simply because stories are our lives."

Novgorodoff commented: "Working on Long Way Down, interpreting Jason Reynolds's beautiful text into images, was a dream project for me and its own reward, but I am thrilled to find that the graphic novel has resonated with readers as well." 

Balen's October, October also won this year's Shadowers' Choice Award for the Yoto Carnegie Medal, voted for by members of the 4,500 school reading groups who shadow the medals. The winner of the Shadowers' Choice Award for the Yoto Kate Greenaway Medal is The Midnight Fair, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio and written by Gideon Sterer. 

---

A shortlist has been released for this year's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which "celebrates crime fiction at its very best" by U.K. and Irish authors. The prize is run by Harrogate International Festivals and sponsored by T&R Theakston, in partnership with WH Smith and the Express. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox 
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson 
Slough House by Mick Herron
Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan 
The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean 

A public vote is now open. The winner, who will be named July 21 on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, receives £3,000 (about $3,760) and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.


Reading with... Celia Laskey

photo: Leonora Anzaldua

Celia Laskey's debut, Under the Rainbow, was a finalist for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Laskey''s writing has appeared in Guernica, the Minnesota Review, Day One and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and lives in Los Angeles with her wife and their dog, Whiskey. Her second novel, So Happy for You (Hanover Square Press, June 7, 2022), is both a send-up to our collective obsession with the wedding industry complex, and an unexpectedly poignant depiction of female friendship in all its messy glory.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Robin, a queer academic, reluctantly agrees to be the maid of honor for her best friend, Ellie, who'd kill for the perfect wedding.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished Matrix by Lauren Groff, which was absolutely sublime. I think it's now my favorite book by her. Much like the subject matter, reading it felt like a religious experience! I'm currently reading (and almost finished with) The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang, which is also so good and so cinematic. I can really see it as a film while I've been reading.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I'm not sure if this counts as "child" (probably more like teen), but The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was the first book I ever read that knocked me on my butt, language-wise. Also, a book about a man obsessed with another man appealed to me in some way I couldn't articulate. To a straight reader, Nick is simply interested in Gatsby because he represents the American Dream. But to a queer reader, Nick is interested in Gatsby for other, more private reasons.

Your top five authors:

Well, it would have to start with our lord and savior Alice Munro, followed by Alexander Chee, Amy Bloom, James Baldwin and Garth Greenwell.

Book you've faked reading:

Probably Swann's Way by Marcel Proust in college.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The most recent book I've been an evangelist for is Milk Fed by Melissa Broder. I read it in a breathless trance and gulped it down in two days. And the classic book I'm an evangelist for is Edinburgh by Alexander Chee, which I think is the perfect novel on every level: structure, character, language, etc.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't know if I've ever actually done this! I'm very scrupulous and cheap, and I tend to want to know everything about a book before I buy it. That said, a recent book cover I've loved is Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder. I'd also want to buy it for the title! In addition to having a perfect cover and title, the book is also an absolutely absurd (slash hyper-realistic?) gem of a novel.

Book you hid from your parents:

If I had even known of any queer books when I was younger, then I probably would have hidden them! But sadly I just read what everyone else was reading and didn't start reading queer books until my 20s.

Book that changed your life:

This is a really unconventional answer for me, but as research for a future novel I actually just read a nonfiction book called Cured: Strengthen Your Immune System and Heal Your Life by Jeffrey Rediger. He is a reputable doctor who spent 15 years researching patients who experienced spontaneous (and lasting!) remission from terminal diagnoses in order to try to find out why some people survive against all odds. It's very much about the mind-body connection and suggests that our mind has a lot more to do with our healing than we think. I've spent the last year learning a lot about the mind-body connection as a way to manage my migraines, so this book sort of drove home that message and more. Even though I originally picked up the book for novel research, I ended up getting a lot more out of it than I thought I would. It's given me a lot of hope for how I can take a really active role in my health.

Favorite line from a book:

I love the opening line for Amy Bloom's short story "Love Is Not a Pie": "In the middle of the eulogy at my mother's boring and heartbreaking funeral, I began to think about calling off the wedding." I use it all the time when teaching how to open a piece of fiction!

Five books you'll never part with:

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, Edinburgh by Alexander Chee, What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and Come to Me by Amy Bloom.

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

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. It's just so stunning on a sentence level.

The point you're trying to make with So Happy for You:

I wanted to highlight the absurdity of the wedding industrial complex and the harm of the immense societal pressure for women to get married and have this "perfect day." Due to this pressure, I really think many women enter into a form of temporary insanity in the months leading up to their wedding and on their wedding day: they will do anything for it to be perfect.

I also wanted to explore the tension in friendships between people who are eager to conform and people who are loath to conform. In my book I use this expression "the ladder" about the typical journey of getting engaged, having a big wedding, buying a house and having kids. Can people who are climbing the ladder remain friends with those who refuse to climb it?


Book Review

Review: All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire

All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire by Rebecca Woolf (HarperOne, $26.99 hardcover, 256p., 9780063052673, August 16, 2022)

At the risk of speaking ill of the dead, Hal, the late husband of Rebecca Woolf (Rockabye: From Wild to Child), wasn't the nicest guy. This idea is at the center of All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire, an unapologetic and unbridled account of the complicated grief felt by a widow who spent much of her marriage wanting a divorce. Asks Woolf in her introduction: "Is it more important to bury the truth of a dead man than to honor the truth of those who survived him?" Readers of All of This may well come to agree with Woolf that the answer is no.

Woolf met Hal, a musician and later a producer, in 2004, when she was 22. Four months of dating later, she was unintentionally pregnant. (Hal wasn't one for condoms.) Woolf and Hal married five months into the pregnancy, and they lived in Los Angeles until he died of pancreatic cancer 13 years later, at age 44.

Doctors came through with a diagnosis for Hal's cancer but apparently not for his anger management problem: he was "incapable of discretion when it came to rage," Woolf writes in All of This. There was no violence: "He never laid a finger on me--on any of us--but his anger became our invisible monster." That "any of us" includes Woolf's four kids with Hal, who refused to get a vasectomy even though her birth control method was wreaking havoc on her body. Oh, and Hal left it to Woolf to assume, by her accounting, "100 percent of the responsibility" when it came to meeting their babies' middle-of-the-night needs. Woolf threatened to leave Hal many times and writes that, finally, "our marriage was over, and we were trying to figure out how to successfully split as he played down the dull pain in his lower abdomen." Four months after his diagnosis, he was dead.

All of This has a loose structure, bouncing from scenes of Hal's decline to the couple's early days together to Woolf's history of appeasing men to her return to the dating world a few months after she's widowed. The book will surely offer succor to anyone who has gone through a significant loss but especially to those who can admit that the death afforded a release. As Woolf confided in her cousin, "I didn't want him to die but I'm so relieved he isn't here...." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: In this unapologetic and unbridled memoir, the author writes of her complicated grief response to the death of her husband, a man she spent years wanting to divorce.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Books that 'Stir The Brain Agreeably Without Getting Upon the Nerves' (Summer Reads, Part 3)

Seasonal display at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton, Ore.

Random observations just before summer begins:

"There are, of course, books which especially fit the unforced holiday mood; as a class they will be light, free, somewhat detached from problems and from passions, a little pleasant, a little commonplace, perhaps," H.W. Boynton wrote in a summer fiction column for the Atlantic Monthly's August 1902 issue. "They fit a mood rather than a season; but it may be partly a sign of the season as well as of a natural reaction, that few of the novels that have been published during the past few months belong to the dread historical genus."

Manager Ruth from Booka Bookshop, Oswestry, Shropshire, England

For the record, Boynton's beach reads list included The Lady Paramount by Henry Harland, The Diary of a Goose Girl by Kate Douglas Wiggin, The Master of Caxton by Hildegarde Brooks, The Virginian by Owen Wister, Openings in the Old Trail by Bret Harte, The Desert and the Sown by Mary Hallock Foote, Bread and Wine by Maude Egerton and The Rescue by Anne Douglas Sedgwick.

"There is no better time to take one's Jane Austen than when the dog-star burns," Boynton observed. "The books which are here recommended for summer reading have this in common: they are not artificial and they are not, with one possible exception, over-intense. They may be counted upon, as a showman may say, to reach the sympathy without tickling the sensibilities, and to stir the brain agreeably without getting upon the nerves."

I suspect this persnickety set of standards might be considered outdated, but when I came across Boynton's gem I also realized the concept of summer reading evokes the past as much as the present. 

At Next Chapter Booksellers, Saint Paul, Minn.

My favorite all-time summer read is J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country, a smart, sweet and bittersweet novel in which the narrator--who is not an exclaimer by nature--exclaims: "Summertime! And summertime in my early twenties! And in love! No, better than that--secretly in love, coddling it up in myself. It's an odd feeling, coming rarely more than once in most of our lifetimes. In books, as often as not, they represent it as a sort of anguish but it wasn't so for me. Later, perhaps, but not then."

One of my favorite summer songs is sax legend Frank Morgan's version of "Summertime." I remember that I was first introduced to his music more than 20 years ago through Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, where I also learned about pianist George Cables, who plays on this recording. 

Do I have a favorite summer movie? Actually, I'm still waiting for Variety to report on casting choices for Revenge of the Beach Readers, a futuristic summer flick in which downtrodden booksellers and librarians band together in a secret laboratory under the New York Public Library and train to become muscle-bound BookWarriors (with laser-beam reading glasses), seeking vengeance upon non-reading alien book banners who can transform themselves into gigantic killer BiblioBots. 

Summer reading bingo at Bookish in Fort Smith, Ark.

Board games are a perennial summer favorite. I've never seen book-themed versions of Monopoly, backgammon, chess/checkers or other summer cottage staples, but one popular crossover from game world to book world has been Summer Reading Bingo. Among the indies playing this year are Betty's Books, Webster Groves, Mo.; Bodacious Bookstore and Café, Pensacola, Fla.; and Bookish, Fort Smith, Ark. I'm also thinking maybe we go digital and spin off Wordle with a guess the beach reads title challenge called... Tidle? (tide + title, get it? I knew you would)

Elinor Lipman wrote another one of my favorite summer books. In the Washington Post recently, she recalled "61 summers of reading... the books that mattered," including this memory from 1961: "My dad, an avid reader and devoted patron of my hometown library, makes a special request of the director: Could we take books out for the whole summer--for as much as 10 weeks? The answer was yes, not that I understood the need. Our vacations were never longer than two weeks, and always the first half of July....

"Did a few themes lodge themselves in my subconscious that summer?... I know of one thing that stuck: Before securing our cabin at Oak Hill Lodge, the Lipmans had been turned down by the nearby Lake Dunmore Hotel, its phony-polite letter noting that 'the people who return year after year, and feel most comfortable here, are gentiles.' The insult incubated for 35 years before it led me into my third novel, The Inn at Lake Devine."

And that prompted memories of a June 2015 SA interview in which Lipman told me her connection with independent booksellers "is about personal relationships and continuity and history. And it's about the introductions on the road, too, almost always lovingly crafted and personal. One of my dearest friends is a bookstore owner, Naomi Hample, the middle of the three Argosy Books-owning sisters in New York. When I met her for the first time she said, 'I've always known I'd meet you someday.' I said, 'How come?' She said 'because I've read all your books and I felt like I already knew you.' Sigh. Is such an answer not the exclusive intellectual property of an indie bookseller?"

A fine summer read with genuine indie bookseller credentials. What more could we ask for? Maybe some vacation time to reread The Inn at Lake Devine

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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