Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 18, 2022

Yearling Books: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

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


Comma, a Bookshop Opening in Minneapolis, Minn.

Comma, a Bookshop is opening this month in Minneapolis, Minn. Located at 4250 Upton Avenue, in the city's Linden Hills neighborhood, the bookstore will sell new fiction and nonfiction with a focus on Minnesota authors, along with a variety of gift items.

Owner Victoria Ford has a grand opening celebration planned for November 26 (Small Business Saturday) and was raised in South Minneapolis. She described herself as a "lifelong voracious reader" and prior to opening a bookstore of her own worked in the nonprofit sector for close to 20 years. Ford said she sees the bookstore as a continuation of that work, and hopes to build community and make connections between "readers, authors and ideas."

Ford continued: "There is nothing I love more than helping people find their next favorite book. Every book is an invitation to consider new ideas or new perspectives. That's something we all need, now more than ever."

She called Linden Hills the "perfect neighborhood" for a bookstore, noting that the community "truly lives its values and supports local businesses year round." She added that her first job was at a bakery in Linden Hills. "It's so good to be back in the neighborhood."

The celebration on Small Business Saturday will include giveaways, special promotions and free drinks and snacks.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Pass Christian Books Opens Second Location, in Gulfport, Miss.

Pass Christian Books, a bookstore and coffee house in Pass Christian, Miss., has opened a second location in nearby Gulfport, Miss., the Sun Herald reported.

Owners Sean Pittman and Scott Naugle plan to host a grand opening celebration in the new location tomorrow morning, with an appearance by local author John Cuevas (Discovering Cat Island and Lost Gulfport). He will be on hand from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. to sign books and answer questions about local history. Pittman and Naugle noted that the new store has a "rustic vibe" and a slightly different menu from the original store.

"Becoming part of the history and community in what was known as Mississippi City plays well into the experience we hope to create," they said. "Décor and ambiance mirror the legacy, diversity, and importance of the area in local and state history."

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

Two Dog Market Comes to Leadville, Colo.

A new and used bookstore called Two Dog Market has opened in Leadville, Colo., the Ark Valley Voice reported. Owners Becky and Joey Edwards have built up an inventory of about 650 titles, with fiction, memoir, biography, adventure and travel books among them. The shop also features a selection of antiques, locally made gifts and other nonbook items.

Joey Edwards explained that the store's inventory grew organically, beginning with used titles pertaining to Leadville and High Rockies history before expanding to new history titles. A natural next step was travel writing and outdoor adventure; Becky Edwards leads small tour groups to locations around the world through their company Two Dog Travel. The shop's poetry selection is new and has proved popular.

"We are both huge readers," Becky Edwards said. "A lot of the books and authors we carry are books we've read before."

The couple had dreamed of opening a bookstore of their own for a long time and were inspired to take the plunge after their local bookstore closed. Edwards continued: "It has been fun to watch how many true readers come into the shop. People spend quite a bit of time perusing the book section and always seem to find something that interests them."

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

Winter Institute Scholarship Winners

The American Booksellers Association has announced the names of 78 booksellers who will receive scholarships to attend Winter Institute next February in Seattle, Wash., Bookselling This Week reported. The scholarships will cover the conference fee, a four-night stay at the host hotel, and up to $500 in travel expenses to Wi2023, to be held February 20–23 at the Seattle Convention Center. 

Individual scholarship recipients are not matched with individual sponsors; instead, a portion of total fees raised by Wi2023 sponsorships are dedicated to funding as many bookseller scholarships for as many new and different stores as possible, the ABA noted. The full list of scholarship winners can be found here.

Obituary Note: Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick

British author and illustrator Marcus Sedgwick, who wrote more than 40 books for children and adults, died November 17. He was 54. The Guardian reported that Sedgwick's work was shortlisted for more than 30 awards, including five nominations for the Carnegie medal, two for the Edgar Allan Poe award and four for the Guardian children's fiction prize. He was also the most noted author in the history of the Printz award, with one win and two honor books. He won the Branford Boase award for his debut novel, Floodland, and the Booktrust Teenage prize for My Swordhand Is Singing.

Earlier this year, Summersdale signed two nonfiction titles by Sedgwick as part of a new series called Be the Change, illustrated by Thomas Taylor, tackling mental health topics for nine- to 12-year-olds. The Bookseller reported that commissioning editor Anna Martin had acquired world rights from Claire Wilson at RCW and Kirsty McLachlan at Morgan Green Creatives for Be the Change: Be Calm--Rise up and Don't Let Anxiety Hold You Back and Be the Change: Be Kind--Rise Up and Make a Difference to the World, which were published in August. 

Wilson tweeted: "Marcus was at the start of everything for me--his work reminded me of what children's books can do and why they matter. I will always be grateful for the honor of getting to represent him, and finding such a kind, wise and funny person behind the writing. It is an immense loss."

Hilary Murray Hill, CEO of Hachette Children's Group, and Alastair Williams, managing director of Summersdale, said in a joint statement: "We are extremely saddened to hear the news about Marcus Sedgwick. Marcus wrote many award-winning, powerful books for young people, and we are extremely proud to publish some of his best work--both fiction and non-fiction--at Hachette. Those who had the good fortune to work with him will remember his astonishing creativity, the breadth and depth of his talent and his unforgettably beautiful and moving use of language. He was also a charismatic man and always fascinating to talk to. This is a real loss to children's literature."

Author Phil Earle observed: "My friend has passed away and the world is so much shallower & uglier. He was a beautiful, generous, funny & gentle man. He was brave and loving and he kept me safe every single time I needed him. I wish so much I could speak to him again. I miss my pal.... Many people call themselves writers, Marcus was an artist. His novel plans alone could've hung on the walls at the Tate. He was a gentle man, funny and constant: he was the finest friend I could've asked for. I can't tell you how much I miss him, I just hope booksellers and librarians are able to celebrate him, to do that special thing only they can do, which will keep him with us."

Jon Woolcott of indie publisher and bookshop Little Toller said: "We published Marcus' book Snow as part of our monograph series in 2016. From the beginning to the end working with Marcus was an absolute joy.... He had once been a bookseller and then worked for publishers, so knew exactly how to approach the publishing journey, and he did so with humility, kindness and unfailing good humour. The book was wonderful, one of his few forays into writing for adults, but he examined the world of snow with sensitivity, depth, knowledge and feeling. The book became a Radio Four Book of the Week at Christmas that year. Marcus approached every part of the publishing with professionalism--he was always a favourite with booksellers, who appreciated both his talent and his approachability. We are devastated to hear of his death and we know that the wider world of books will be equally sad."


Image of the Day: Bedtime at BookTowne

Last weekend, at BookTowne in Manasquan, N.J., booksellers participated in the store's First Annual Read-a-thon. They took two-hour shifts reading in the store window overnight--blow-up mattress, PJs and all--and raised $4,000 for the Common Ground Grief Center, which assists grieving children and families.

NVNR's VIndie Award Winners Celebrated

Winners of the 2022 VIndie Awards were announced during a virtual ceremony Wednesday night. The VIndies were launched last year by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association to celebrate "the best in bookstore video," honoring the spirit and voice of indie bookstores and highlight "exactly why indie booksellers are the heart and soul of their communities," the organizations noted. This year's VIndies winners are:

Book Club Bar, New York, N.Y.: Book Club Bar 

Around the store
White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.: We Have Named the Whale!
Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Welcome In! 

Bronx Bound Books in Bronx, N.Y.: Well-Read Bronx Woman
Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, N.C.: The Book

Community work
East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.: Book Recs for Other Small Businesses on Capitol Hill
Rohi's Readery, West Palm Beach, Fla.: The words are felt always in the walls here

City Books, Pittsburgh, Pa.: Audio IS Reading
Underground Books, Carrollton, Ga.: Shire, the Magic of Reading

Staff picks & book recs
BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J.: Hidden Treats
RVA Book Bar, Richmond, Va.: Rediscovering Slept-on Authors

Trending sounds
Park Books and LitColLab, Severna Park, Md.: You'll Be Back
Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.: All I Wanna Do Is Read a Book Today

The event was hosted by Penguin Random House rep Michael Triebwasser. With the exception of the Animated category, which only received one nomination, two winners were selected for each VIndie category--one each from SIBA and NAIBA territories. Winners and finalist videos can all be viewed at New Voices New Rooms

Of the more than 120 videos nominated for this year's VIndies, 36 were chosen as finalists. The winners were selected by a panel of members of the book industry. As each category was awarded, booksellers from the winning stores came up to the virtual stage to talk about the inspiration for their videos, and why they felt the video was an important tool for their stores. "Inspiration" became the theme of the event, as fellow booksellers in the audience shared ideas and takeaways for their own stores.

Happy Fifth Birthday, the Lahaska Bookshop!

Congratulations to the Lahaska Bookshop in Peddler's Village, Lahaska, Pa., which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this weekend. In a post on Facebook, Glenda Childs, owner of the Lahaska Bookshop and the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, wrote: "Five years ago, we opened our second bookstore in beautiful Peddler's Village. What a fun time we had, decorating the bright new space with books and gifts with the hope that booklovers would find us. And they did! Today, we have book clubs that meet in the bookshop, author events that are held throughout the year, delightful displays, and aisles of books to get lost in. 

"We have a fantastic team of knowledgeable booksellers to help you find the perfect book. We look forward to continuing to serve our local customers and our visitors for many years to come. Please stop by during the Merchants Open House November 18-20 to sign our mural and share your memories, and let us know what you like most about the bookshop! We'll see you at the Lahaska Bookshop!"

Personnel Changes at Ingram

Margaret Harrison has been named v-p, digital services, at Ingram Content Group. She was formerly director of content solutions, Lightning Source. Before joining Ingram in 2015, she worked at OverDrive and Oxford University Press.

Media and Movies

TV: Interrupting Chicken

Interrupting Chicken, Apple TV+’s new animated preschool series based on the 2011 Caldecott Honor-winning book series written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein, premieres today, November 18.

The voice cast for the series includes Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul), Juliet Donenfeld (Pete the Cat), Sarah Elizabeth Thompson, Maximus Riegel, Luke Lowe (Big City Greens), Jakari Fraser (Spidey and his Amazing Friends) and more.

Movies: The Chronology of Water

Kristen Stewart "just completed her 2022 goal: marking her feature directorial debut," IndieWire reported, noting that the "long-gestating adaptation" of Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir The Chronology of Water is co-written by Stewart and Andy Mingo. Imogen Poots will star. Stewart previously collaborated with Scott Free for her 2017 short film directorial debut Come Swim, which she also wrote. 

"Lidia's memoir honors corporeal experience, radically," Stewart said. "To make that experience physical feels vital to me and what this impulse means... is that it absolutely must be a film.... This project has been cooking for five years with the help of Scott Free, whom I could not be more privileged to have as partners and friends. Imogen Poots will carry this movie and the staggering weight of Lidia's life. She can hold it. I am beyond lucky to have her."

Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions is producing the film alongside co-writer Mingo. Michael Pruss also produces, with Rebecca Feuer serving as an executive producer.

"Ridley and I are delighted to be working with Kristen again, this time on her feature directorial debut, adapted from Lidia Yuknavitch's extraordinary memoir," Pruss said. "Just as we have seen in Kristen's short films as a director, I have no doubt that she will bring that same level of style, uniqueness and fearless emotionality to The Chronology of Water. Furthermore, to have the the opportunity to work with Imogen--who is tailor-made for the lead role--is incredibly exciting. The combination of their talents will no doubt produce something exquisite for film audiences worldwide."

Books & Authors

Awards: Porchlight Longlist

The longlist in eight categories for the 2022 Porchlight Business Book Awards and can be seen here. The shortlist will be made public December 15 and the overall winner on January 12.

Managing director Sally Haldorson said that this year's longlist "bears a more practical problem-solving mien than years past. The demands of the pandemic and other ongoing cultural tensions have made us more pragmatic, more hesitant to deal in declarative sentences and idealistic renderings now that we've been jarred by several years of intense change to how we work and how we live. This terrific collection of books balances the innovative with the iterative, and champions doing the right things the right way to make our work and our future tangibly better, no matter the industry or the endeavor. We do this, they collectively declare, by valuing progress over perfection, community over collateral, and the well-being of all over the enrichment of the few."

Reading with...Victoria Garza

Victoria Garza received her MFA in film production from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and has been a documentary filmmaker, creative director, and content strategist. She is currently a senior writer for Apple. Her debut memoir, The Field (out now from Jackleg Press), traces the childhood loss of her sister and explores its impact on her experience of grief. Garza recently moved from Los Angeles, Calif., to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her wife and their two children.

Handsell readers your book:

Seemingly free-associatively, The Field is a grief memoir that switches among three narrative threads that when woven together form an archeology of memory--a search for the philosophical, spiritual and scientific implications of grief.

On your nightstand now:

I blame my two toddlers for being a few years behind on my reading--which is why I'm always revisiting some cherished favorites, like Mercè Rodoreda's My Christina & Other Stories and, of late, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties--which always blows my mind, as does Grand Union by Zadie Smith. And always a few select books of poetry, like Pablo Neruda's The Yellow Heart or Jane Miller's A Palace of Pearls--which feels like a familiar foreign movie to me. Then there are small doses of inspiration like This Is Water by David Foster Wallace. You see the trend here, short stories or poetry--which I can consume in small doses--like an IV drip--these are my favorite forms right now.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time was my first exposure to the so called supernatural and now that I think of it, as a young adult, I was very attracted to questions of spirituality and purpose, as the characters were in constant tension with the conflicts of love, divinity and the idea of goodness. Then there was the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My elementary school librarian would set the next book aside for me when I came to the library with my class, so that I didn't have to waste any time looking for them.

Your top six authors:

Marguerite Duras, for the sheer intellectual power and economy of her dangling sentences; Anne Carson for flipping form on its head; Zadie Smith, for never-ending poignant moments; J.M. Coetzee, for the moral voracity of his immense body of work; Joan Didion, for her cross-genre brilliance; and Gabriel García Márquez, for perfecting literary magic and showing me a language that makes sense to my Latina soul.

Book you've faked reading:

Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. I'm not sure I would say I exactly faked reading this book, as I read everything that was pertinent to the main thread of Jean Valjean, but the rest I skipped over--which is a formidable amount, considering a quarter of this novel is made up of the purposeful digressions.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Theory of Everything by American philosopher Ken Wilber. He posits the perennial question of whether it's possible to have an "integral vision... [which] attempts to include matter, body, mind, soul and spirit as they appear in self, culture, and nature." I am in awe of his thinking toward more wholeness and less fragmentation and his inclusion of spirituality in the pursuit of intellectual ideas.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. If I recall, I bought this book at the airport. Its diminutive size is in direct contrast to the massive poetic ideas inside it. It remains the "big book" I go back to over and over again.

Books that changed your life:

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein (need I say more? I think not). And Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer, which changed my relationship to memoir because of its brutal, funny and tender honesty at all times--and this was even before I became a mom.

Favorite line from a book:

"All the conditions of her life, all her own instincts, were hostile to the state of mind which is needed to set free whatever is in the brain." --Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own.

While talking about the "unhappy woman" with gifts of poetry in the 16th century, "a woman at strife against herself," the sentiment still requires female writers to be vigilant--always--against the impossible feat of carving out space (a room) and time (silence) to write.

Six books you'll never part with:

On Writing, Marguerite Duras
The Disappearance, Geneviève Jurgensen
Plainwater, Anne Carson
Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers

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

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf, as much for its inspiration and backstory on Vita Sackville-West as for the book itself. Meaning, more than being a story about the adventures of a poet who changes sex from man to woman and lives for centuries, this story was so daring and the irony that it was her most popular book. I'm also a filmmaker, and Tilda Swinton as Orlando in Sally Potter's film just cemented this brilliance in my mind.

Book Review

Review: Wanting: Women Writing About Desire

Wanting: Women Writing about Desire by Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters, editors (Catapult, $17.95 paperback, 352p., 9781646220113, February 14, 2023)

In Wanting, writer-editors Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have collected 33 deeply intimate and thoughtful essays by women writers on the range of what constitutes desire. In "Sex in the Suburbs," Angela Cardinale relays the yearning and loneliness of dating during the pandemic. In "An SUV Named Desire," Jennifer De Leon digs into her longtime goal of owning an SUV and its ties to her experience growing up in a working-class immigrant family. While some stories, like these, focus on longing, others, like "Allergic" by Tara Conklin and "Splitting the World Open" by Lisa Taddeo, take a more deconstructive view: exploring what it means to watch desire deplete itself or observing the destructive effects that desire and envy can have on compassion, respectively.

As this brief overview of contents makes clear, Wanting is at its best when it's demonstrating the wide scope of what desire can mean, what forms it can take and what its object might be. Like the wide range of topics in this collection, the styles here are a potpourri of prose, wistful and tender one minute, razor-sharp and raw the next. But even the more traditionally romantic pieces, like Joanna Rakoff's "There Is a Name for This," which recounts her courtship with her now-husband, desire is never simple or convenient. Rakoff's journey to understand what she really wants gives the love-at-first-sight trope a welcome twist, just as Kristen Arnett's "Being a Dad Means Respecting the Yard" plays with the stereotype of the lawn-mowing father to suggest that instead of embodying dominance, the desire to work on one's yard is a practice of cultivation and co-habitation.

The tendency for these stories to bend the rules of desire and to see it as a fluid, unpredictable and dynamic presence in life is perhaps most obvious in Elisa Albert's darkly funny and cutting "On Not Getting What I Wanted." Ostensibly about her struggles to get pregnant a second time, the essay soon morphs into a much more flexible metaphor for the persistence of wanting and wanting's uncanny bedfellow: consumption. "Wanting's a tricky bitch," Albert writes. "It waxes and wanes.... Wanting is like a weed; it self-sows. I am a person of some privilege who came of age in late-stage capitalism, so I am not well conditioned to, like, chillax with not getting what I want." As Albert points out, wanting, in this collection, is not just a physical or emotional state; it's a complex cultural, economic and political state of being. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Wanting is a wide-ranging collection about desire by women writers that is, like wanting itself, haunting, poignant, vicious, meditative and hopeful, all at once.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: How Do You Forget an Author?

I make the passage from study to kitchen, from computer to stove, a path taken so often that now I look for signs that the carpet is beginning to wear. Suddenly I remember, as I pass a bookcase and touch a book to even it up on the shelf with its companions, that there was a volume my bookseller companion urged me to look at if I am thinking of writing about an ordinary day in my life.

--Doris Grumbach, Life in a Day

Doris Grumbach
(photo by Robert Giard ©Jonathan Silin)

When I read last week that Grumbach had died, I was shocked, though not for the obvious reasons. She was 104 years old, so she'd had a good run. What saddened me was that she had somehow vanished from my reader's radar screen over the years. How do you forget an author whose work had at one time really meant something to you?

The question continued to haunt me after I'd written a brief Obituary Note for Shelf Awareness, so I did what readers do in such circumstances. I started rereading her, beginning with Fifty Days of Solitude and Life in a Day, followed now by Extra Innings. We have gradually become reacquainted.

Fifty Days of Solitude was the first Grumbach book I ever encountered. Published in 1994, it found me during my second year as a bookseller. Maybe I read an ARC that intrigued, or was just drawn to the word solitude because I always rise to that particular title bait. In any case, I became one of her readers, catching up with previous works, like her first memoir Coming into the End Zone and a couple of the novels. By 1996, when Life in a Day was released, I was hooked. 

Then something curious happened; I forgot about Grumbach. That might be too extreme. If somebody had asked me on the bookstore sales floor whether we carried any of her books, I wouldn't have had to ask, "How do you spell that?" I knew. But nobody asked and I... just forgot.

As a frontline bookseller, I could have made the excuse that I was ever-drowning in the tidal flow of new books that sweeps away lots of fine writers. There are no doubt dozens of books I liked back then, yet no longer recall. Grumbach's voice was different, however. It connected with me, so all excuses seem inadequate.

On the other hand, rereading her now has been a gift, even if it's technically a regift. Since I'm in the age range she was when she wrote most of her memoirs, there is an added layer of empathy and engagement. 

One aspect of the life on the page that has struck a chord this time is her at once ceremonial and personal engagement with the books surrounding her. She has a bookseller's tactile appreciation of the object as well as its contents that is not coincidental. Grumbach and her longtime partner, bookseller Sybil Pike, owned Wayward Books for decades, beginning in Washington, D.C., and continuing after they moved to Sargentville, Maine. Living in a house filled with books and with the shop close by ("So I made my way through high snow to the locked-up bookstore."), the quiet world Grumbach depicts is one where a book is almost always at hand. 

In Life in a Day, she gradually maps her reading stations, ranging from the kitchen ("I fetch the spoon, sit down again, stir, and open to page 41 of The Book of Common Prayer and begin to read aloud."); to "Base Camp 2½, the desk that faces the cove"; to the library ("Standing before these shelves is dangerous. I could spend the morning reinserting myself into one or another of these beloved books.") and even the bathroom ("I choose my reading matter for my time attending to eliminatory matters.").

Grumbach is often distracted from her writing desk: "Oh well. In order to locate the book, I have to leave the computer before I have entered a single word of the work in progress, this sickly and unformed work. I find it necessary to go out of the study to find the book."

Once the book is located, "I sit on the couch in the library to scan its more than three hundred pages for the quotation I remember imperfectly. But I don't find what I'm looking for. I put the book aside. Once seduced, I know perfectly well I'll come back to it, so I leave it at another of my reading stations (beside the couch on which I sometimes nap)." We all know that feeling.

So I mourn the loss of Doris Grumbach. I'm sorry I forgot about her for a while, but I'm glad to be getting reacquainted with her words. Maybe she wouldn’t have understood my vanishing act; maybe she would: 

As a partner in a store for used and out-of-print books for almost 20 years, I have seen the sad, endless flow of forgotten books sold to us for very little, and then consigned to our shelves or to the storeroom for a long stay. Some of these were once bestsellers for which no one has asked in many years, or books that were published with high hopes, sat for a few months at most on the shelves of a new bookstore, were returned to the publishers, remaindered, and then fell without a sound into the black pit of totally forgotten work. What other human effort, in the long run, comes to so little? Oh Lord, I think, and decide I will have lunch.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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