Also published on this date: Tuesday, September 20, 2022: Maximum Shelf: The Hard Parts

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 20, 2022


Simon & Schuster: A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

News

#BannedBooksWeek: 'We Will Always Support More Ideas, Never Fewer'

Banned Books Week is underway, and indie booksellers nationwide are posting photos, book picks and opinions on their social media channels. We'll be sharing a selection of them with you, beginning today with:

Display at Theodore's Books, Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Curious Capybara Bookshop, Henderson, Tenn.: "Welcome to #BannedBooksWeek! I prefer to think of it in #FreedomToRead terms, but however you say it, it's the week we draw attention to books that have been challenged or outright banned at public institutions or libraries. This week we have banned books on display, Blind Date with a Banned Book for purchase, limited edition Banned Book totes, and more! Stop in to see us and our Dangerous Reads as we celebrate your Freedom to Read!"

Novel Bay Booksellers, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.: "Today starts Banned Books Week and here's a few of what you'll find throughout our little bookshop, including Gender Queer, The Hate U Give, Lawn Boy and so many more. The American Library Association tracks challenges to books and 2022 is on track for a record year."

Wheatberry Books, Chillicothe, Ohio: "It's Banned Books Week! This week is meant to celebrate the freedom to read without censorship. Many books are banned or challenged in schools, bookstores, and libraries throughout the country. Stop in and check out our Banned Books display, which we are proud to say is our most frequently shopped section of the bookstore."

Abalabix Books, Crystal Lake, Ill: "All over the country people are trying to ban books. Please don't let them! Join us for Banned Books Week.... Stop by today and rescue a banned book from our shelves!"

At Betty's Books

Betty's Books, Webster Groves, Mo.: "Although we had fun planning our displays and giveaway for this week, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the seriousness of the topic. Organized national efforts to ban books from schools and libraries are at an all-time high. It unfortunately comes as no surprise that the most commonly challenged titles are those covering race, sexuality, and gender. So this year's theme for BBW is an apt one: 'Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.' As a store that specializes in a field of books that's historically been less than welcome to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks, the theme hits close to home. In that light, we've decided to donate a portion of the front table proceeds to @leftbankbooks's Literacy & Justice Project."

At McLean & Eakin

McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.: "Banned Books Week starts TODAY, but we celebrate the freedom to read all year round, and have been doing so for 30 years. This week on our social channels and in-store we'll be highlighting some of our favorite banned books and sharing reasons that they have been banned at one point or another. We will always support more ideas, never fewer. At the end of the day, we believe every reader deserves to see themselves on the page."

The Booktenders, York, Maine: "Today kicks off Banned Books Week--the annual celebration of the freedom to read. We'll highlight some of the most challenged books throughout the week. We've expanded our banned books section and will add more as the week goes on. Don't forget to pick up your bingo card!"

Northtown Books, Arcata, Calif.: "It's Banned Books Week September 18th through 24th. We encourage you to read dangerously and push back against divisive censorship! We support teachers and librarians!"

At Inkwood Books

Inkwood, Haddonfield, N.J.: "It's day 2 of #bannedbooksweek. We are closed today but you can still enjoy our window display full of great frequently banned and challenged books recommended by Inkwood booksellers. For extra fun--scan the QR code and take the quiz to learn a bit more and enter to win prizes."

Bluestocking Social, Evansville, Ind.: "It's Banned Book Week and we're bringing some contraband into the shop. You've been warned!"


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis


PEN America's School Book Ban Report

According to a new report released yesterday by PEN America, there were 2,532 instances of individual book bans in the U.S. during the 2021-2022 school year, with 1,648 unique book titles affected, reflecting what the organization called "a rapid acceleration of book bans in American schools."

The new report updates "Banned in the USA: Rising School Book Bans Threaten Free Expression and Students' First Amendment Rights," which PEN America released in April 2022 and which covered the first nine months of the 2021-2022 school year. The numbers represent cases either reported directly to PEN America or covered in the media, and "there are likely additional bans that have not been reported."

There were book bans in 138 school districts spanning 32 states, representing 5,049 schools with a total enrollment of close to 4 million students. The creative output of 1,553 people, including authors, illustrators and translators, was affected.

About half of the banned titles were young adult books, with 41% of the banned titles featuring LBGTQ+ themes or characters and 40% containing protagonists or secondary characters of color. Another 21% addressed issues of race and racism, and 22% contained sexual content of various kinds, such as stories about sexual assault, teen pregnancy and abortion and informational titles about puberty, sex and relationships.

PEN America estimated that around 40% of the reported bans are connected to "either proposed or enacted legislation, or to political pressure exerted by state officials or elected lawmakers to restrict the teaching or presence of certain books or concepts."

The organization also identified 50 groups involved in pushing for book bans across the country. Operating primarily through social media, most of these groups formed since 2021, and they have "played a role in at least half of the book bans enacted across the country during the 2021-22 school year."

Jonathan Friedman, author of the report and PEN America's director of free expression and education programs, called the phenomenon "a targeted effort. These are not just individual complaints about books that parents are complaining about because their children are bringing them home. Overwhelmingly, we are seeing people Google 'what books have LGBTQ content whatsoever,' even just a book that has an illustration of a same-sex interracial couple, gets thrown onto one of these lists and ends up banned in some districts in Florida."

The updated report can be found here.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo


Possible Futures Opens in New Haven, Conn.

Possible Futures, a bookstore and community reading room with a focus on underrepresented authors and subjects, has opened in New Haven, Conn., Yale News reported.

Owner Lauren Anderson, formerly a tenured professor, opened the store in New Haven's Edgewood neighborhood on August 22. Anderson sells new books for all ages, along with a rotating selection of work by local artists that is paired with books of the artists' choice.

"What's here reflects our community and offers a little bit of connection to certain books in other places," Anderson told Yale News. She frequently solicits recommendations from customers, neighbors and community members to help build her diverse and inclusive inventory.

The shop also features a couch and plenty of comfortable seats, so patrons can sit, have conversations and read. Anderson's event plans, meanwhile, include author readings and book lunches, and she's already partnered with organizations such as the Pride Center.

After running a different bookstore for several years, Anderson decided to open a new store closer to her own community. In January, she began putting together a business plan while scouting for locations, and she was finally able to start building out the store after a long wait for zoning approval.

"I believe in living where you work and working where you live, and knowing people," she added.


Gene Taft Leaves Loyalty Bookstores

Gene Taft

Gene Taft, who joined Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., in 2019 as a partner investor and marketing strategist, has officially left the company.

In a statement, he wrote, "I met Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstores in 2019. Armed with ambition, a book publishing background and ZERO retail experience of any kind at any level, Hannah kindly and unquestioningly took me under her wing to give me a crash course in bookselling. Together we scouted storefronts, secured a location and built, literally and figuratively, a bookstore in my hometown of Silver Spring. I couldn't be prouder of what Loyalty has achieved and what it stands for as a business and a social institution. But now it's time for me to move on, to seek new challenges and continue to find my way in the world.

"In Hannah's note to the staff of Loyalty about my departure, she said, 'From the moment I met Gene his dedication to spreading access to books was direct and sincere and he's been the first on call for Loyalty, putting his energies into making Loyalty, especially in Silver Spring, run and soar.' I intend to bring Loyalty's keen interest in social responsibility, diversity and representation with me wherever I go."

Earlier Taft was publicity director at Johns Hopkins University Press and v-p, assistant publisher and director of publicity at PublicAffairs/Perseus Books Group, among other publishing positions. He can be reached via e-mail.


Celebration of Joan Didion's Life

Joan Didion

There will be a celebration of the life of Joan Didion tomorrow, Wednesday, September 21, in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue. Speakers will include Hilton Als, Gov. Jerry Brown, Griffin Dunne, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Susanna Moore, Vanessa Redgrave, David Remnick, Patti Smith, Jia Tolentino, Calvin Trillin and Kevin Young. The service will begin at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.

The celebration will be live-streamed by the Cathedral on its site and will also be accessible on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Didion died on December 23 at the age of 87.


Notes

'Page-Turning Bookstore Cats'

"Huck & Finn are in the Nov/Dec issue of Catster magazine along with several other bookstore cats. Stop by and see Wellsboro's most famous cats. They even have a book and will sign it for you," From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Wellsboro, Pa., posted on Facebook.

"Cats and books are a comforting match," Catster noted in the piece headlined "Page-Turning Bookstore Cats." "The combination drums up idyllic thoughts about sun-dappled afternoons spent in the company of your faithful feline while relaxing in a comfy chair and leafing through a captivating tome. So, it's no surprise that a growing number of kitties have decided to further their literary ambitions by taking up residence at independent bookstores across the country. Here's a spotlight on a highbrow clowder of cats who love nothing more than lounging on a pile of your favorite author's latest release."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Geoffrey Berman on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Geoffrey Berman, author of Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent U.S. Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593300299).

Tomorrow:
CBS Mornings: Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization (Holt, $28.99, 9781250861504). He will also appear on the View.


Movies: The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins's prequel novel, has added 11 actors to its cast, Deadline reported. Directed by Francis Lawrence, Songbirds and Snakes will be released November 17, 2023.

The newcomers include Fionnula Flanagan, who will play Grandma'am, young Coriolanus Snow's (Tom Blyth) strict grandmother. Others joining the cast--which includes Rachel Zegler (Lucy Gray Baird), Viola Davis (Dr. Volumnia Gaul) and Peter Dinklage (Casca Highbottom)--are Isobel Jesper Jones (Mayfair Lipp) and Flora Li Thiemann (Livia Carden). 

Those who are part of the Covey, a group of nomads in District 12, include Honor Gillies (Barb Azure), Eike Onyambu (Tam Amber), Konstantin Taffet (Clerk Carmine). Portraying Peacekeepers, sent by the Capitol to District 12, are Burn Gorman (Commander Hoff), Scott Folan (Beanpole), Carl Spencer (Smiley). Rounding out the cast are Michael Greco and Daniela Grubert as Strabo Plinth and Mrs. Plinth, respectively.



Books & Authors

Awards: Bloody Scotland Winners; German Book Prize Shortlist

At the Bloody Scotland festival, Alan Parks took the McIlvanney Prize for best crime novel of the year for May God Forgive. Chair of the judges Ayo Onatade described the winning book as a "terrific continuation of Alan Parks police procedural 'month' series. May God Forgive is every bit as entertaining, gritty, darkly humorous and steeped in the grimy underbelly of Glasgow as the previous books. A fantastic book with an intriguing cast of characters that not only keeps to a tight timeframe, but is fast, hard, edgy and thought provoking. 1970s Glasgow has never been so thoroughly invoked. A truly gripping read."

Tariq Ashkanani won the Bloody Scotland Crime Debut of the Year award for Welcome to Cooper. Chair of judges Arusa Qureshi said the novel was "well-structured, bleak and just the right amount of disturbing. Tariq Ashkanani has crafted a terrific debut that doesn't provide an obvious hero but instead, draws out the flaws and bad choices of its central characters. This provides a sense of discomfort that stays with you throughout but that's where the beauty lies. I found myself going back and re-reading once I'd finished to make sure I had every detail right, which I think is the mark of a really clever and riveting story."

---

The shortlist for the €25,000 (about $25,000) 2022 German Book Prize, which is sponsored by the Book Culture and Reading Foundation of the Börsenverein, the German book industry association, has been announced. The winner will be named at a ceremony on October 17 during the Frankfurt Book Fair. The shortlisted titles are:

Fatma Aydemir for Dschinns (Carl Hanser)
Kristine Bilkau for Nebenan (Luchterhand)
Daniela Dröscher for Lügen über meine Mutter (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)
Jan Faktor for Trottel (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)
Kim de l'Horizon for Blutbuch (DuMont)
Eckhart Nickel for Spitzweg (Piper)


Book Review

Review: I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki: A Memoir by Baek Sehee, trans. by Anton Hur (Bloomsbury, $24 hardcover, 208p., 9781635579383, November 1, 2022)

Baek Sehee ingeniously combines elements of memoir and self-help in her first book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki, a bestseller in her native South Korea. She offers an intimate look into one patient's experience in therapy and her own analysis of and takeaways from those sessions.

Consumed by a desperate sense of emptiness she calls "a vague state of being not-fine and not-devastated at the same time," Sehee seeks the help of a psychiatrist, ultimately resulting in a diagnosis of dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder. I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is an account of the treatment she received for that diagnosis, "full of personal and sometimes pathetic details... to make it more than just a venting of my dark emotions."

Sehee approaches this account with a sense of precision and detailed emotional accounting, not merely recalling her psychiatric sessions from memory, but transcribing her recordings of the sessions word for word across the pages of this book. She then adds her own analysis of each session, drawing in real-life examples of how some of what she learned in therapy showed up in life outside of the psychiatrist's office. This is who I am, Sehee is saying, at my worst and yet trying to be my best (though even Sehee seems to flinch away from some of her less-than-flattering thoughts, with in-text asides cringing, "I really sound like a crazy person here").

This level of extreme transparency offers readers an equally extreme sense of vulnerability, and in that vulnerability comes an invitation of sorts: to join Sehee in her journey of self-discovery.

As Sehee nears the end of her accounting, she notes a strong desire to show not just a deeper understanding of herself, but improvement. "I wanted some kind of grand finale. I thought that was the proper way to end a book." However, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki remains faithful to real life all the way to the end, not offering a neatly packaged revelation in which Sehee finds meaning and purpose in her suffering. Instead, she concludes "not with answers but a wish": to love and be loved, to hurt less and live more, to find joy amidst the hardships. Everyone is just trying to be as okay as possible, after all--and seeing Sehee's processing of that in I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is sure to make readers feel a little less alone in their own attempts. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This is an intimate and vulnerable account of one woman's experience in therapy and her attempts to find joy in living her life with depression.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
2. Dr. Off Limits by Louise Bay
3. The Librarian of Crooked Lane by C.J. Archer
4. Dissent: A Charity Romance Anthology by Various
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
6. Pain: A Love Story by Serena Sterling
7. Almost Beautiful by Jamie McGuire
8. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
9. The Do-Over by T.L. Swan
10. Pen Pal by J.T. Geissinger

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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