Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 4, 2022


Viking: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

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

Zonderkidz: The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

Tordotcom: Witch King by Martha Wells

News

ABA, Civic Economics Release 'Unfulfilled' Amazon Impact Report

The American Booksellers Association and Civic Economics have released a new report called Unfulfilled: Amazon and the American Retail Landscape that details the negative impacts that shopping with Amazon has on communities.

The report found that in 2021, 136,000 retail shops, totaling 1.1 billion square feet of traditional retail space, were displaced, resulting in "empty storefronts all over the United States." Despite Amazon's perceived role as a job creator, 1.7 million retail workers and 70,000 distribution workers were displaced, and the $367 billion that consumers spent with Amazon last year resulted in less money circulating within communities.

"This report shows the costs and consequences to communities as Amazon continues to box out small business," said ABA CEO Allison Hill. "Our communities benefit in countless ways when we shop local and this report makes clear how much is at stake when we don't. The impact is so much more than just an empty storefront when a business closes. Our choices matter, where we spend our money matters, and our communities matter."

Civic Economics and ABA have been studying the impact of Amazon on the American Retail Landscape since 2016. Past reports have focused on subjects like empty storefronts and lost jobs to lost tax revenues due to Amazon.

The Unfulfilled report can be downloaded in its entirety here.


Blackstone Publishing: Émilienne by Pamela Binnings Ewen


Grand Opening Set for Books Are Magic 2 in Brooklyn Heights

Books Are Magic, Montague St., in progress.

Books Are Magic, which launched in Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Cobble Hill neighborhood in 2017, will host a grand opening celebration for its second location tomorrow, Saturday, November 5, at 122 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights. Co-owners Emma Straub and Michael Fusco-Straub announced plans for the new bookshop in July

Describing Saturday's events as "the most magical store opening imaginable," Books Are Magic noted that the festivities will include "book signings and meet-and-greets with some of our favorite local authors.... Not only will you be able to hang out with these fantastic authors, you will also have the chance to make your own Books Are Magic merch! Choose your own colors and patterns and create your own unique mural design. We can't wait to come to Brooklyn Heights--hope to see you there!"

Books Are Magic's new location "also features a brand new hidey hole in our kids section, and we're looking for a teen artist to paint it! The winning artist will receive a $200 stipend from Books Are Magic and a $50 Gift Card from Artist & Craftsman Supply."


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams


Books-A-Million to Open 2nd & Charles Store in Santa Fe, N.Mex.

Books-A-Million will "fill the last big vacancy at Santa Fe Place" when it opens a 2nd & Charles store at the shopping center in Santa Fe, N.Mex. An opening date has not been announced by BAM, "which started tenant improvement in mid-October in a portion of the former Mervyn’s anchor space," the New Mexican reported. The new store will occupy a 19,200-square-foot space. 

"It’s definitely rare to have a bookstore in today’s marketplace," said mall marketing manager Antonio Guerrero. "We have quite a few bookstores downtown but none in this part of town."

BAM operates 45 2nd & Charles stores in 18 states, and Santa Fe would be the westernmost location.


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


International Update: #IReadCanadianDay; Sustainable Development Goals Book Club Reading List

Wednesday was I Read Canadian Day, celebrating Canadian books for young people to "empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week." Indie booksellers got in on the #IReadCanadianDay action, too, including:

Canadian Independent Booksellers Association: "Today is #IReadCanadianDay! On November 2, people across the country will read books by Canadian authors with their families, classmates, and friends in celebration of the richness and diversity of Canadian literature. In short: it's a great day to settle in with a Canadian book or visit your local indie to pick one out. Tell us: what Canadian book will YOU read today?"

Analog Books, Lethbridge, Alb.: "Did you know that today is I Read Canadian Day? Support Canadian authors and illustrators and celebrate Canadian culture by reading a Canadian book to kids for just 15 minutes. At Analog Books we recommend the fantastic selection from Rocky Mountain Book Award."

Mabel's Fables Bookstore, Toronto: "Happy #ireadcanadian day 2022! The 'challenge' for today is to spend at least 15 mins reading a book by a Canadian author. If you need suggestions, we would be more than happy to help! What will you be reading today?"

Yooneek Books, Okotoks, Alb.: "Today is I read Canadian" Day!! We think you can do one better and read local authors! To help you, we emptied our Halloween book display and filled with books by local authors!"

Dartmouth Book Exchange, Dartmouth, N.S.: "Do we tell them that it's 14 degrees and sunny here and that we are expecting temperatures to go up to 20 this weekend?" The bookstore shared author Lana Shupe's post: "It is #IReadCanadian Day! As you can see today is the perfect day for cuddling up with a book here in Calgary! Don't tell Mark Shupe but I have a 'Blind Date with a Book' (by an Atlantic Canadian author) from Sue Slade and Dartmouth Book Exchange and the fireplace is lit and the kettle is boiling!"

Running the Goat Books, Tors Cove, N.L.: "For #IReadCanadian Day, Kate Story, author of URCHIN, recommends THOSE THAT CAUSE FEAR written by Neil Christopher and illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok. What great Canadian kids book will you be reading today?"

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The Sustainable Development Goals Book Club has released its last reading list, focusing on SDG17: Partnership for Goals. The SDG Book Club is organized by the UN, in cooperation with the the European & International Booksellers Federation, International Publishers Association, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, International Board on Books for Young People and the Bologna Children's Book Fair. EIBF's NewsFlash reported that the "books on the reading list inspire young readers to take action and partner up with their friends, family or classmates to take steps towards a common goal of ensuring a better future for everybody on earth."

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New Zealand bookstore Page & Blackmore Booksellers in Nelson shared photos of the shop's front window art, noting: "Talented local book illustrator, Lily Emo, stopped by the shop today to create our Christmas window... and we love it! The Christmas dragon is inspired by her new book (author Sarina Dickson), The Chaos before Christmas. Thank you Lily and thank you Hachette NZ."

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Bookseller moment: "Buongiorno," Livraria Ler Devagar in Alcântara, Lisboa, Portugal, posted on Facebook. --Robert Gray


Obituary Note: Tony Horgan

Tony Horgan

Australian bookseller Tony Horgan, co-owner of Shearer's Bookshop--first in Gordon and then Leichhardt--for 28 years, has died. BookPeople, the Australian booksellers association, shared the news of the death of Horgan, a Life Member and past president, adding, "Tony and Barbara were well known for hosting book events and supporting new authors and illustrators. Tony was a passionate advocate of children's books and reading and was a founding member of the ABA's Children's Special Interest Group which was the driving force behind the creation of the Kids' Reading Guide."

In a tribute to Horgan, David Gaunt, owner of Gleebooks in Glebe, near Sydney, wrote: "Our sadness at Tony's passing should also remind us of his tremendous contribution to the Australian book industry. Many will know of his long-standing commitment to children's literature, and the championing of those who wrote and published it, and his engagement with the Children's Book Council. And of course, he and Barbara Horgan formed an award-winning and trail-blazing partnership for decades at Shearer's Bookshop.

"But it is also worth recalling that Tony, in the true Horgan spirit, took up the challenge of presidency of the ABA at a time of considerable turmoil in the Industry. The vexed question of how 'closed' or 'open' the Australian book market should be had been debated for several decades already, with several enquiries into the appropriateness, or otherwise, of the conditions that a closed market imposed on consumers and booksellers. Tony took up the role in 1991, the same year that the Federal Government radically reformed the import provisions of the Copyright Act. Copyright is of course the bedrock of our industry, and feelings ran deep amongst authors, publishers and booksellers. Publishers were sufficiently aggrieved by the new regulations to abandon support for the ABA's annual conference (setting up the 'Australian Book Fair' in Sydney for a number of years). 

"It was indeed a time of tremendous change, and it is a tribute to Tony's hard work, interpersonal skill, and capacity to build bridges that we emerged a bigger, stronger, and better industry out of it. Tony worked tirelessly and uncomplainingly at every public duty he undertook. Those of us who work today in the industry owe him a massive debt. Vale Tony." 


Notes

Happy Fifth Birthday, Book No Further!

Congratulations to Book No Further, Roanoke, Va., which celebrated its fifth anniversary last month with several rounds of "mass market Jenga." Winners (and losers) got free books, and everyone enjoyed cupcakes.

Located in the Roanoke City Market, Book No Further offers new and used books, featuring titles about the Roanoke and New River Valleys and local authors along with a special selection of Appalachian fiction and nonfiction. The owners are Doloris Vest and Craig Coker.


U2's Bono Signs the Strand's Wall in NYC

"The legendary Bono stopped by earlier this week to celebrate the release of his new book Surrender," the Strand bookstore in Manhattan posted on Instagram. "He signed our author wall, admired our rare books and surprised customers! Thank you so much Bono, we hope to have you back soon!"


Media and Movies

TV: A Crown of Wishes; The Day of the Jackal

Disney Branded Television is developing A Crown of Wishes, a live-action YA series based on the second book in Roshani Chokshi's Star-Touched Queen duology, Deadline reported. Avantika (Spin, Senior Year) will star and executive produce the project for Disney+.

Zanne Devine (Easy A, I, Tonya, Spin, The Grizzlies) of Montana North Media will also exec produce, with Raj Raghavan of ColorCreative serving as a co-executive producer. Jessica Sonnefeld Jolles of Montana North co-produces.

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Sky and Peacock are creating a TV adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal. Deadline reported that the project, described as a "contemporary reimagining of the beloved and respected novel," is the first television rework, following Fred Zinnemann's BAFTA-winning film 50 years ago. Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones) is directing with Ronan Bennett (Top Boy) writing and showrunning. Production will begin next summer.

Carnival Films exec Gareth Neame said the adaptation will "retain the pan-European setting and play to the strengths of episodic television in this fast paced, intelligent international thriller with the story of an assassin and the race to stop him still at the heart of the action."



Books & Authors

Awards: Writers' Trust of Canada Winners; SIBA Southern Book Finalists

Winners have been announced for the 2022 Writers' Trust of Canada awards, "presented for individual works and career achievement, and in recognition of accomplishments in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, poetry and literature for young readers." For the first time since 2019, the awards were given out in an in-person ceremony in Toronto.

Dan Werb was awarded the C$60,000 (about US$43,710) Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure; Nicholas Herring received the C$60,000 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Some Hellish; and the C$10,000 (about US$7,285) Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers went to francesca ekwuyasi for the debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread. 

Four authors received C$25,000 (about $18,215) awards for mid-career and lifetime achievements: Candace Savage (Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life); Joseph Dandurand (Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize); Elise Gravel (Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People); and Shani Mootoo (Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award). 

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The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has unveiled finalists for the 2023 Southern Book Prize, representing "bookseller favorites from 2022 that are Southern in nature--either about the South or by a Southern writer." Voting by the public has begun at SouthernBookPrize.com, and winners will be announced February 14. The finalists are:

Fiction
Now Is Not the Time to Panic by Kevin Wilson (Ecco)
If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (MCD)
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb (Anchor)
Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Berkley)
A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)
Lark Ascending by Silas House (Algonquin Books)

Nonfiction
Beyond Innocence by Phoebe Zerwick (Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón (Milkweed Editions)
Child: A Memoir by Judy Goldman (University of South Carolina Press)
This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris (Catapult)
Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott (Atria Books)
Spine Poems: An Eclectic Collection of Found Verse for Book Lovers by Annette Dauphin Simon (Harper Design)

Children's
Beatrice Likes the Dark by April Genevieve Tucholke, illustrated by Khoa Le (Algonquin Young Readers)
This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (Wednesday Books)
Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White (Peachtree Teen)
The Problem with Prophecies by Scott Teintgen (Aladdin)
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (Wednesday Books)
Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady, illustrated by Gracey Zhang (Katherine Tegan Books)


Reading with... Rachel King

photo: Jason Frantz

Rachel King is the author of the novel People Along the Sand and two poetry chapbooks. Her short stories have appeared in One Story, North American Review, Green Mountains Review, Northwest Review and elsewhere. Her latest book is Bratwurst Haven (West Virginia University Press, November 1, 2022), a collection of 12 linked stories about workers in a sausage factory.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Linked collection of stories tracing the vocational and emotional bargains made by workers at a Colorado factory. Rajia Hassib calls it "intriguing and tenderly rendered."

On your nightstand now:

How to Carry Water: Selected Poems by Lucille Clifton and Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Next up is my colorful stack of unread One Story (the literary magazine) stories from the past couple years.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was very young, I really liked the picture book Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber, where a kid is worried his friend will tease him when he takes a teddy bear to a sleepover--then he learns that his friend sleeps with a teddy bear, too. In junior high, I carried around The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and read it over and over. I think I internalized that running away could mean saving yourself and changing yourself--it's probably one reason why I wandered across the country as a young adult.

Your top five authors:

I like one or two books by innumerable authors, but authors I'd love anything they wrote: August Wilson for his breadth of characterization and his dialogue, Colm Tóibín for his depth of characterization and his pacing, James Baldwin for his language and his philosophy, Virginia Woolf for her language and her images, and Iris Murdoch for her humor and her plots.

Book you've faked reading:

Possibly The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in a conversation with an acquaintance in college (I still haven't read it). Usually I don't mind not having read something. There are so many books to read.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Recently I recommend The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns, a short novel about a girl with an abusive father who realizes she can levitate. It's innovative on both the sentence and plot level as well as darkly funny, and will appeal to lovers of both literary fiction and genre fiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson in an online New York Review Books Classics sale. The author, swimming in a lake, smiling, is on the cover. She looks in her 50s or 60s and has a flower garland on her head and a cabin on the rocks in the background. The photo portrays a life I hope I'm moving toward.

Book you hid from your parents:

I remember while reading Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin when I was about 12 I thought my parents wouldn't want me reading the scene where a truck driver solicits the author for sex. But my parents didn't monitor what I read, and I usually read in their living room, so if I was hiding it, I was hiding it in plain sight.

Book that changed your life:

My first published novel, People Along the Sand. Living alongside the five main characters, exploring the questions implicit in the plot (What are the pleasures and limits of solitude? Can people belong to a place? Who or what are we responsible for?), writing it, rewriting it, revising it, sending it out, deciding how to publish it and embracing the small but warm reception for it--all of that formed me in many ways.

Favorite line from a book:

For the past decade, I would have said, "Sometimes you look for the world, and it's there" from my favorite poem "When Comfort Arrives" by Tom Andrews in his collected poems, Random Symmetries. But this year, I keep returning to a quote by the Russian artist Marianne von Werefkin: "One life is far too little for all the things I feel within myself, and I invent other lives within and outside myself for them." I read it in a library book about expressionist artists, though I can't remember which one.

Five books you'll never part with:

My signed copies of Smoke by Dorianne Laux, Like You'd Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard, and Veronica by Mary Gaitskill. My parents wrote a note in my copy of The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. My spouse gave me The Americans, a book of photography by Robert Frank, who is one of my artistic models. "I am always looking outside," he said, "trying to look inside, trying to say something that is true."

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

Human Wishes, a book of poetry by Robert Hass. At age 25, I sat in my car in a grocery store parking lot after getting off work and read the whole thing. It's full of lines like, "It made you glad for beauty like that, casual and intense, lasting as long/ as the poppies last," and afterward, I began to reimagine the possibilities of how I could live and view my life.


Book Review

Review: Drinking Games: A Memoir

Drinking Games: A Memoir by Sarah Levy (St. Martin's Press, $28.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781250280589, January 3, 2023)

In her first book, Sarah Levy offers readers a candid account of her struggles with alcohol and her rocky path to sobriety. Drinking Games is a memoir-in-essays that peels back the layers of Levy's life--happy to all outward appearances--to reveal a much more difficult truth.

"I looked like I had it all together," Levy writes in the first pages of Drinking Games, "but my insides told a different story." Despite a successful job with a hot new start-up, a vast network of friends and an active social life, Levy was drowning inside--sometimes literally, consuming copious amounts of alcohol at any and every occasion, with sloppy blackouts her norm. Because she hadn't hit her definition of bottom--drinking on the job, losing her housing, driving while intoxicated--she convinced herself for years that her drinking wasn't really a problem. But, as she notes, "hitting bottom doesn't have to be catastrophic; it can simply mean that we are ready to stop digging." For Levy, this came after waking up next to a stranger, another blackout one-night stand. After years of trying to drink in moderation with no success, she found a support group and built up a new sober life, one day at a time. "The insanity of my drinking," she notes, "was my inability to accept that it wasn't serving me."

With raw honesty, Levy explores the years it took her to learn this truth for herself. She offers details about her partying lifestyle and her mindsets around drinking through her 20s. She recounts the ways she inched toward sobriety; tells of her last drink and her first recovery group meeting; and finally explores the ways that sobriety has given her a sense of freedom--and even joy--that felt impossible when she was drinking, but equally hard for her to imagine would be possible when sober. Ultimately, Levy's path to sobriety becomes a lens through which she reflects on drinking culture and what it means to be sober within that. She also explores the challenges so many people (and particularly so very many millennial women) face in entering adulthood. Her stories examine how people navigate grown-up friendships, the toxicity of social media, emotionally secure romantic relationships, unlearning toxic diet culture and disordered eating habits--to name just a few.

Drinking Games is hard to read at times, yet never judgmental; in her vulnerability and willingness to share the highs and lows of her relationship with alcohol, Levy invites readers to consider what might not be serving them in this moment--and what might be possible on the other side of whatever habit is holding them back from true freedom. --Kerry McHugh, freelance writer

Shelf Talker: A memoir-in-essays considers one woman's struggles with alcohol--and her rocky path to sobriety--to examine the challenges of adulthood.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Art of the Bookish Power Catnap

Imagine what it would be like to be a bookseller. People seem to do that a lot. The dream tends to drift toward endless hours set aside for reading in a quaint bookshop, nestled among the tidy stacks; or engaging in bookish chats with well-read customers. Oh, and there must be the requisite bookshop cat (or dog) napping peacefully nearby.

For those of us who are, or once were, booksellers, the fantasy is both understandable and amusing. After all, we succumbed to the siren song ourselves at some point, and it's nice to see the dream retain its hold on readers' imaginations in these cynical times. Does anybody fantasize the same way about opening an online bookstore? Where would the cat avatar sleep?

Earlier this week, I noticed this Facebook post from Dolly's Bookstore, Park City, Utah: "Dolly loves to read too (especially books about cats like her)! Come stop by today to read with Dolly or help find you your next book!" 

The book was open, but Dolly was literally catnapping, a word that was apparently coined in the early 19th century and has an exquisitely simple etymology: "from cat + nap."

Bookseller cats deserve their naps. They have responsibilities and stresses, like New Title Tuesday at E. Shaver Bookseller, Savannah, Ga.; or post-holiday back-to work challenges at Let's Play Books Bookstore, Emmaus, Pa. ("Bernie's best impression of a scary monster! Bye bye Halloween--it was fun! Time to SHOP!!!"); or, in the case of Mr. Bingley, "soaking up some sun" while on patrol at the Haunted Book Shop, Mobile, Ala.

I've been gradually learning how to catnap since the Covid era began and am better at it than I used to be. Working from a home office affords more opportunities than being on a sales floor would, though George Costanza (Jason Alexander) solved the problem creatively in a Seinfeld episode where he also said, "I love a good nap. Sometimes it's the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning."

A few years ago, Fast Company featured what it called "the next logical step after standing desks: the nap desk." (George wasn't credited for the inspiration.) "The main concept came after I saw my classmates put chairs together in order to have a power nap while they were struggling between deadlines," said designer Athanasia Leivaditou. "Then I wanted to comment on the fact that many times our lives are 'shrinking' in order to fit into the confined space of our office."

Molly & Maisie, assistants to the columnist

I hate the phrase "power nap," and I'm still a mere apprentice in the art of catnapping, but fortunately I have two excellent in-house sleep gurus, Molly and Maisie. They're naturals.

I guess I'm more adept at the sports nap. As Jason Gay once wrote in his Wall Street Journal column (headlined "My Column Puts People to Sleep--A discussion of a beloved sports ritual: dozing off in the middle of the action"): "I think we can all agree that golf is probably the sports nap summit. Golf has it all, really: It's long, it's quiet, there are a lot of khakis, and its announcers are trained to whisper softly, like they're holding an infant. After a while, you, too, feel as if you're back in your childhood crib, listening to Mom or Dad read Make Way for Ducklings. Golf is basically tryptophan, and the only thing standing between you and a solid 40 of Zzzzs is an eagle chip and a burst of crowd noise, or a loud commercial for an oversized pickup truck."

Bookish catnaps have their consequences, of course. Some are mild. I was waiting at the dealership this week to have my car serviced. Despite the implicit promise of excitement that new cars on display are meant to project, dealership waiting rooms are also "basically tryptophan." As I listened to my audiobook (title redacted so no authors are harmed by this column), I dozed off, then woke suddenly, disoriented. Where was I? How long had I been out? A chapter? Who knows? 

But my experience pales beside others in book world. Consider what befalls Lewis Carroll's Alice when she begins "to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do.... So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her." 

Beware the Cheshire catnap, Alice!

Then there's Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: "He even ventured, when no eye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage, which he found had much of the flavor of excellent Hollands. He was naturally a thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to repeat the draught. One taste provoked another; and he reiterated his visits to the flagon so often that at length his senses were overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, and he fell into a deep sleep." Twenty years later...

"All life is a nap. The more naps you take the better," Ralph Waldo Emerson advised. So take a page from Mouse the cat at Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, Pa.: "Baby Mouse Monday. Our fluffy little hero has always been an accomplished napper, yawner, and sleeper."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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