Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Graphix: Unico: Awakening (Volume 1): An Original Manga Created by Osamu Tezuka, Written by Samuel Sattin, Illustrated by Gurihiru

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Immortal Dark (Deluxe Limited Edition) by Tigest Girma

Bramble: Swordcrossed by Freya Marske

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!


Back Cove Books Opens in Portland, Maine

Back Cove Books, a general-interest bookstore with titles for all ages, opened for business late last month in Portland, Maine. 

"You read that right," wrote store owner Becca Morton in an Instagram post in October. "We have final approval from the city and we are OPEN FOR BUSINESS!"

Back Cove's space once housed a bank; the bookstore uses the vault for nonfiction.

Located in the historic Odd Fellows Building in Portland's Woodfords Corner neighborhood, the 2,200-square-foot store has a focus on community and sells books with diverse topics, characters and authors. Morton held pop-up shops in Portland earlier this year, and prior to opening Back Cove Books was a bookseller at Portland indie Print for about two years.

The bookstore's first author event will be held on December 1 and feature Chelsea Conaboy, author of Mother Brain, in conversation with Leah Deragon, co-founder of Birth Roots. Morton noted that even though she'd planned to not host any events until 2023, she couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Henry Holt & Company: A Banh Mi for Two by Trinity Nguyen

Bookends & Beginnings to Relocate in Evanston, Ill.

Bookends & Beginnings' current location.

Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., will be relocating from its iconic alley space, once occupied by an antiquarian bookstore called Bookman's Alley, to a new home downtown at 1620 Orrington Avenue early next year. Owner Nina Barrett said the move was triggered by a drastic increase in rent demanded by a new landlord who took possession of the property over the summer. 

"We had to face the fact that as much as this eccentric, back-alley ambiance had always been integral to our identity, remaining here was going to be unsustainable for us financially," she said.

The new storefront occupies a high-visibility spot just off the city's central Fountain Square, where many nearby restaurants generate evening foot traffic that Barrett expects will sustain later hours for the bookstore. She plans to build a better, brighter children's area, a larger event space to accommodate a more robust event schedule, and a limited wine and beverage service to enhance the event and browsing experience for customers.

Barrett said the store will finish out the year in the current space and relocate in January of 2023. Because the holiday season plays such a critical role in the business model of the store, she said, a disruption during the holiday season would have drastic consequences for the store's survival.

In an e-mail to customers announcing the decision, Barrett wrote that in the new location, "we will be breathing life into another historic Evanston space. Built in 1927, the Evanston Landmark Hahn building offers a spacious, high-ceilinged main floor with big front windows and a key amenity we've been managing without for most of our existence: indoor plumbing. Though just two blocks away from our current home, we will now be adjacent to Fountain Square in the heart of downtown, and with improved visibility we expect to enjoy an increase in foot traffic that our semi-secret location down the alley has never attracted. While running a 'speakeasy for books' has had many delights for you and for us, it is not really helpful in the current challenging brick-and-mortar environment to be an overly well-kept secret."

Barrett added that while the move was not entirely of her choosing, "we feel very thankful that the original affordability and legacy of our iconic Bookman's Alley space allowed us to incubate and curate a store that, in less than a decade, has come to be recognized as 'an Evanston institution' and now attracts national recognition for its literary identity."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Ken Wright, Head of Viking Philomel Flamingo Publishing Group, to Retire

Ken Wright

Ken Wright, president & publisher of the Viking Philomel Flamingo Publishing Group, will retire, effective at the end of January 2023. In making the announcement, Jen Loja, president, Penguin Young Readers, noted that with a search underway for his successor, the group "will be in good hands under the steady guidance" of Tamar Brazis, Jill Santopolo, Margaret Anastas and Ellice Lee, in close partnership with Jocelyn Schmidt.

Wright began his career in publishing in 1985 at Oxford University Press, and over the next 15 years held editorial positions in adult publishing divisions, including at S&S, HarperCollins and Holt. In 2001, he joined Scholastic as an editorial director of the trade division, soon rising to the position of associate publisher. Wright joined Writers House in 2006 as a literary agent representing a range of children's and YA authors, including Ruta Sepetys, John Corey Whaley, David Macaulay, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Deborah Heiligman, Steven Sheinkin, Elizabeth Partridge and many others.
In 2012, Wright returned to publishing with Penguin Young Readers as publisher of Viking, where he was instrumental in the acquisitions of and publishing of the Last Kids on Earth series, the Llama Llama series, and The Boys in the Boat (YA adaptation), as well as books from Amanda Gorman and David Arnold. In 2017, he expanded his team by taking on the leadership of Philomel and grew it further in 2019 by bringing Anastas and Flamingo to the group.  
"Not only has Ken built a successful and thriving publishing team during his time here, he has also shown us what it is to be a lovely and gracious colleague," Loja wrote. "Many of you who have had the pleasure of working with, learning from, or chatting with Ken know that he is a truly interested and interesting man. A wonderful conversationalist, terrific reader, and champion of authors and illustrators, Ken teaches us all how to be truly engaged in the work and proud of what we create. We will miss his eye on the books, his knack for a well-timed joke and his presence at many trade shows, lunches and dinners. But we know that Ken has much more to do and that he needs the free time to do it. We wish him well as he sets off on his next adventure and hope that he will stay in touch, let us know what he is reading, and come back to those great author/illustrator dinners every once in a while."

International Update: Canadian Booksellers to Receive Funding; BA Conference Hosts RISE Bookselling Guests

Canadian booksellers will receive C$12 million (about US$9 million) in funding to help increase their ability to sell books online. The initiative was announced by Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant Pablo Rodriguez, along with Rachel Bendayan, MP for Outremont. 

The funding will go to 180 booksellers operating 467 bookstores across the country, and is designed to reach a wide range of businesses, including bookstores owned by or serving members of equity-deserving communities, as well as those located in rural and remote communities. 

This is the first time funding has been distributed through the new Support for Booksellers component of the government's Canada Book Fund. The aim of this new component is to provide Canadian booksellers with two years of support to improve their online business models where it will be the most effective and to grow their online sales of printed Canadian books. Funding amounts were based on past sales of Canadian-authored books.

"Local bookstores are an important link connecting Canadians to our stories," Rodriguez said. "Supporting our booksellers in expanding their online sales is an investment in our cultural outreach, but also in the future of our authors and publishers. They will be able to reach more readers across Canada, wherever they are located, so they have access to a wide range of Canadian books."

Bendayan added: "Bookstores play a fundamental role in our communities. They introduce us to emerging authors, showcase our stories, and contribute to our cultural and economic vitality. They are also key places to gather and meet--they are often located in the heart of our neighborhoods. They are, in many ways, the heart of our neighborhoods. This additional federal funding will help ensure our local bookstores continue to thrive and reach even more Canadian readers... what could be better than that?"


Seven international booksellers attended the Booksellers Association's Conference recently in Hinckley, U.K., as part of the RISE Bookselling initiative. Participating booksellers included Dinija Innusa (Janis Roze in Riga, Latvia), Raluca Selejan (La Două Bufniţe in Timișoara, Romania), Cátia Soares (Faz de Conto in Coimbra, Portugal), Eliana Soukiazes (Faz de Conto in Coimbra, Portugal), Robert Albazi (Paperback Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia), Norun Hovind-Breisnes (Ark in Strommen, Norway) and Zaida Pérez (Librería Liberespacio in Madrid, Spain).

Following an opening session during which BA's managing director Meryl Halls and president Hazel Broadfoot welcomed the international booksellers, the first day included numerous opportunities for them to connect not only with each other but also with British and Irish booksellers.

At the official opening of the conference the following morning, Broadfoot, who is also the owner/manager of Village Books in Dulwich, delivered a powerful welcome speech in which she emphasized the key role that booksellers play in the book industry and the support that is needed to keep independent bookselling afloat. 

Broadfoot observed that the biggest self-help group she knows of is "the community of booksellers; planning this autumn, planning next year, planning our legacies. And we're joined by our colleagues from publishing; from sales, marketing and publicity. And by some wonderful authors--all here and keen to support booksellers as a keynote species.... Booksellers are key to the ecosystem of books. Booksellers are the pollinators for new authors; the oxygenators of creativity; the hummingbirds of their communities. We are more than the sum of our parts; in our own bookshops, as a species as a whole, in our communities and in the contribution we make to breaking out new and undiscovered talent. We punch above our weight and are respected for doing so."
RISE Bookselling noted: "Not only did the event give our international booksellers an opportunity to get to know booksellers from other countries, to get inspired during the skills labs and to hear from interesting speakers--it also allowed them to gain a unique insight into the British and Irish bookselling world. We're grateful to the BA for opening the doors of their conference to our international guests and being wonderful hosts."


Spirit of the season Down Under: Australian bookseller Devonport Bookshop, Tasmania, posted on Facebook: "Wishing for a sunny get away?! We're doing our best to bring some sunshine and summer vibes in store and through the pages of our wide range of travel biographies and guides. Where are you dreaming of escaping to next?" --Robert Gray

B&N Returning to Reston, Va.

Barnes & Noble is planning to open a new location in Reston, Va., in Spring 2023, the Burn reported. The store will feature a café and reside in the Spectrum at Reston Town Center, the same shopping center that housed a B&N store until its closure in 2013.

While few details have been released, the new B&N will occupy a space that was previously an Office Depot store. The spot that belonged to the earlier B&N location is now a Container Store.


Image of the Day: Pépin at Story & Song

Story & Song Bookstore Bistro in Fernandina Beach, Fla., hosted famed chef Jacques Pépin (left, next to co-founder Donna Paz Kaufman) for a sold-out culinary luncheon to celebrate his latest book, Art of the Chicken: A Master Chef's Paintings, Stories, and Recipes of the Humble Bird (Harvest).

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Madison Nankervis has been promoted to assistant marketing manager for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Danielle Steel on Good Morning America

CBS Mornings: Natasha Leggero, author of The World Deserves My Children (Gallery, $28, 9781982137076).

Good Morning America: Danielle Steel, author of The Whittiers: A Novel (Delacorte Press, $28.99, 9781984821836).

Spoken Word Grammy Nominees

Among the nominations for the 2023 Grammy Awards, which will be televised February 5, are some book-related ones, including two Spoken Word categories: 

Audiobook, Narration & Storytelling 
Act Like You Got Some Sense by Jamie Foxx
All About Me!: My Remarkable Life In Show Business by Mel Brooks
Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, read by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Finding Me by Viola Davis
Music Is History by Questlove

Spoken Word Poetry Album
Black Men Are Precious by Ethelbert Miller
Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman
Hiding in Plain View by Malcolm-Jamal Warner
The Poet Who Sat By the Door by J. Ivy
You Will Be Someone's Ancestor. Act Accordingly. by Amir Sulaiman

Books & Authors

Awards: Andrew Carnegie Medals, Scotland National Book Shortlists

The American Library Association revealed the shortlist for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The two medal winners, who each receive $5,000, will be named January 29 at the Reference and User Services Association's Book and Media Awards event, which will take place online. Winners and finalists will be honored in the summer of 2023 during a celebratory event at ALA's annual conference. This year's shortlisted titles are:


Greenland by David Santos Donaldson (Amistad)
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (Tin House)
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka (Knopf)
Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson (Pantheon)
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden World Around Us by Ed Yong (Random House)
Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross (Norton)


The Saltire Society released shortlists for the 2022 Scotland's National Book Awards, which recognize work across six literary categories (fiction, nonfiction, research, history, poetry, first book) and three publishing categories (publisher, emerging publisher, cover design). Winners of the literary awards each receive £2,000 (about $2,345) and go on to be considered for the top prize of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year, receiving a further £4,000 (about $4,690). Winners will be announced December 8 in Edinburgh.

"Scotland's National Book Awards celebrate the extraordinary richness in the work of our authors, publishers and designers," said Sarah Mason, director of the Saltire Society. "The awards reflect the strength of the literary scene in Scotland today and the 2022 shortlists showcase a wonderful variety and depth of storytelling. Congratulations to all our shortlisted authors."

Reading with... Brian O'Hare

photo: G. Joshua Sliwa

Brian O'Hare, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former Marine Corps officer, is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in War, Literature & the Arts, Hobart and SFWP (Santa Fe Writers Project), among others. He has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. O'Hare won the 2021 Veterans Writing Award from Syracuse University Press for Surrender (November 1, 2022), his book of short stories that explore the mythos of American manhood. He's currently at work on his debut novel.

Handsell readers your book in approximately 25 words or less:

A Marine journeys into the heart of the American hero myth--from football fields to battlefields and beyond--demythologizing what it means to be a man.

On your nightstand now:

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad; Battledore by L.J. Sysko; Slide to Unlock by Julie E. Bloemeke; Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars by Jean Merrill and Ronni Solbert. The story of an elephant with a passionate commitment to felony vandalism. Spare, strangely disturbing drawings accompany this utterly demented tale.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin. To simply describe Baldwin as "great" is slanderous. His genius--whether in Giovanni's Room or Another Country, my personal favorites--is otherworldly. And, like Vasily Grossman, Baldwin's compassion for humanity, for those who wrong his blood and the world, is absolute. Religions have been started with less.

Vasily Grossman. Baldwin's only competition for Best Ever status. But while Baldwin flirts with prophecy, Grossman is very much of the Earth. Nobody elevates the suffering of humanity like Grossman--or reaffirms that, despite all, humanity is inextinguishable. Profound.

Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a revelation. Another book rooted in the rich red dirt of humanity. But Hurston's work is touched with a kind of romanticism, a magical quality, that transforms her characters and books into the divine. Janie and Tea Cake are the ultimate star-cross'd lovers. Hurston is transformative.

Emily Dickinson. A writer of staggering power and simplicity. Revealing the secrets of the soul--like a great scientist, committed to her work, despite the cost to her own well-being--her work is timeless.

Dantiel W. Moniz. I first read Moniz's work in the Paris Review--her story "The Loss of Heaven" blew me away. And then Milk Blood Heat, her book of short stories, absolutely fried my brain. Moniz is an extraordinary writer. No other voice is like hers. The future of American literature.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. It's all downhill after Ishmael discovers himself in bed with Queequeg. Chapter 32: "Cetology"? Kill me now, please. Ahab chasing Moby? C'mon, you two! Get a room!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, arguably the greatest book ever written and described as a "Soviet War and Peace." Grossman's account of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II is monumental not only for its depiction of the battle and its brutality, but also for the staggering compassion Grossman displays for his characters, both Russian and German. Despite epic bloodshed, Life and Fate radiates with a profound humanity. Hugely inspiring, almost like a religious text.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. It's a second edition from 1959 with the name "Joe Shannon" scrawled inside in ballpoint. The cover resembles the Kennedy assassination, but with robots instead of humans, as seen in a bad dream, an explosion of wires and switches and diodes flaring black and gold. An X-ray of anxiety. Disturbing and utterly perfect. Appropriately, the book was not bought but stolen--from the old Bethesda Naval Hospital "Crew Library" when the librarian announced that my father had died. A fitting souvenir of that day.

Book you hid from your parents:

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. It was '70s suburban Pittsburgh. The book was hidden for obvious reasons. (I'm sure I wasn't the only one.)

Book that changed your life:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Obvious, yeah. But this was the book that turned me on to the idea of serious literature--that books had power beyond mere words. I read it in the back of my parents' Chevy Suburban on the way to football camp as a 12-year-old, and howled at Holden's sarcasm. But as I read it again--and again and again--I realized there was more going on. That it wasn't funny at all. This was the book that made me want to be a writer. To have that kind of impact on a reader.

Favorite lines from a book:

"Archer reddened to the temples, but dared not move or speak: it was as if her words had been some rare butterfly that the least motion might drive off on startled wings, but that might gather a flock about it if it were left undisturbed." --The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

"Unable are the Loved to die/ For Love is Immortality." --Emily Dickinson

Books you'll never part with:

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. Another Country by James Baldwin. Like great religious texts, you can open either of these books to any page and discover salvation.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. A book of profound small moments. I carried it with me in my flak jacket during the Gulf War. Francie and Neeley helped keep me sane.

Ask the Dust by John Fante. It's often said that Los Angeles is an intellectual desert and that it possesses no culture or literature. This book single-handedly obliterates that tired cliché with its devastating dreamer's poetry.

If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes. A ticking bomb of a book. The greatest, most damning Los Angeles--and, therefore, American--book of all. Profound and still relevant today.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. A love story to rival Romeo and Juliet. Shattering.

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

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus Finch will forever be the gold standard for fatherhood. I read it to my children when they were very young. (I have a daughter and a son, paralleling Scout and Jem.) Now, as teenagers and young adults, they still talk about that experience with awe and reverence. What a book.

Book Review

YA Review: We Deserve Monuments

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (Roaring Brook Press, $18.99 hardcover, 384p., ages 13-up, 9781250816559, November 29, 2022)

Jas Hammonds joins the literary world with We Deserve Monuments, a mysterious and romantic YA novel featuring a young Black-presenting biracial woman unsure whether to share the decades of concealed truths she uncovers in her mother's hometown.

Although her best friends promised their trio wouldn't change after Avery and Kelsi broke up, 17-year-old Avery feels the shift and wants "an excuse to slip out of Kelsi and Hikari's carefully arranged summer plans." Avery imagines a getaway to the beach or exploring "an unfamiliar metropolis"; instead, her mother, Zora, announces they will be leaving Washington, D.C., and relocating to Bardell, Ga., to care for Mama Letty, the terminally ill grandmother Avery barely knows. Despite Zora and Mama Letty's volatile relationship, Avery wants to develop a bond. She perseveres in gaining the woman's trust even though Mama Letty isn't easy to talk to and is, in fact, quite mean.

Avery allows her relationship with Kelsi and Hikari to fade, and she starts to form friendships with her fascinating next-door neighbor, Simone Cole, and the daughter of Bardell's most prominent family, Jade Oliver--whose mother's murder remains unsolved. As Simone and Avery's friendship blooms into romance, Mama Letty begins to warm up to Avery. But Avery still wonders why Zora and Mama Letty's relationship is so unstable. As Mama Letty's health continues to decline, Avery, haunted by Bardell's racist history, wonders if she should stop digging up the past. The town of only 9,127 harbors many secrets, and Avery's family is not unaffected.

Hammonds's debut is an outstanding, emotional novel that uncovers decades of familial secrets in a racist Southern town. Family, love, prejudice, death, trauma, sexuality and identity are all examined with care and subtlety. Hammonds is thoughtful as they showcase many kinds of love stories, both romantic and familial, and their deliberate and steady plotting connects the lives of the three generations of women. When their truths are finally revealed, the abundance of heart-wrenching revelations will surely leave engrossed readers catching their breath. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A teen new to a small Southern town must decide whether it's worth it to uncover decades of secrets or leave them buried in this outstanding, emotional debut novel.

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