Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger


New Owners for Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.Mex.

Shannon Guinn-Collins and her mother, Nancy Guinn, with the help of several local investors, have bought Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.Mex., and will be taking over in January, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The new owners purchased the store from Danielle Foster and Wyatt Wegrzyn, who, as employees, bought the store in 2010. Bookworks was founded in 1984 by Nancy Rutland.

Foster told the paper that "it's time for the next chapter. Dig into my to-be-read pile." She added that she wants to spend more time with family, including three children and a grandfather "who is soon to celebrate his 100th birthday."

Wegrzyn commented: "We're just so grateful for being about to take (Rutland's) dream where it is now. It is miraculous."

Guinn-Collins, who currently works as a project manager at Presbyterian Health Care Services, grew up near Bookworks and recalled going to a reading featuring Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series. "I remember (his) reading here when I was a kid and bringing in this copy of my favorite book that I loved to literally pieces for him to sign."

Guinn retired as a palliative care physician this summer, and said friends were taking bets on how quickly she would leave retirement. She wanted to keep the store alive, explaining, "I grew up in Albuquerque, so I can name all of the independent bookstores that have been in this community that are no longer there. Independent bookshops have long been places to go to learn, to be in an environment that feels good."

Bookworks will close for a few days at the end of January and the beginning of February for "updates." The Albuquerque Journal wrote that "Although Guinn-Collins and Guinn are planning a few changes, like updating the website, expanding the inventory, and debuting a book subscription program, Wegrzyn said the focus is 'grabbing the baton and running.' All 10 employees, including the current manager, will remain at Bookworks."

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White

The BookSmiths Shoppe Coming to Danbury, Conn.

The BookSmiths Shoppe will open next month in Danbury, Conn., CT Insider reported.

The shop will sell predominantly new titles with a small selection of used books, and owner Michelle Smith will open the BookSmiths Shoppe in the Summit, a new development containing apartments, offices and retail that was once the headquarters of the Union Carbide chemical company.

"I felt a small, independent bookstore would fare well here," Smith told CT Insider, of her choice to open the store in the Summit. The development will contain several hundred apartments and is adjacent to other residential developments featuring town houses and apartments.

Smith started selling books from her personal collection online and eventually set up an eBay storefront. After monthly sales hit $2,000, she started looking for a bricks-and-mortar location. She's built up an inventory of around 25,000 books and had initially hoped to open in time for the holiday shopping season. Due to ongoing construction, she's hoping to open in mid-January.

Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Word Up Launches Fundraising Campaign

Word Up Community Bookshop in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, has launched a $34,000 fundraising campaign to "help with continuing to maintain its book supply, distribution of mutual aid, providing Covid tests, managing its community fridge, expanding its youth programming, creating its second uptown community space, and more," Patch reported. Thus far, more than $11,000 has been raised since the campaign began in late November. 

"Since the start of the pandemic, Word Up has been connecting people to resources and providing support to countless neighbors old and new," the bookstore wrote on its fundraising page. "Of course, we love books, and we want to make sure everyone has the books they need to feed their minds and hearts. But during these last few years, we knew we needed to do more. That's why Word Up became a driving force in the neighborhood to address issues like income inequality, food insecurity, systemic racism, and a lack of universal healthcare.... Please contribute today so that Word Up can continue to be a resource for the neighborhood, for our communities, for you."

Obituary Note: Marijane Meaker

Marijane Meaker

Marijane Meaker, "a versatile and prolific author whose 1952 novel, Spring Fire, was among the first lesbian-themed paperback originals and sold so briskly that it jump-started the genre of lesbian pulp fiction," died November 21, the New York Times reported. She was 95. 

Meaker, who wrote dozens of books in multiple genres under several pen names, told NPR in 2003: "I like pseudonyms. I like disguises. I've always hated the name Marijane. And I think the idea that you can name yourself is interesting." Another reason for the strategy was that when she arrived in New York she couldn't get an agent, and so she became one, with a roster of clients that consisted of her pseudonymous selves. "All of my clients were me," she recalled. "And I would take people out to lunch and tell them about my clients. And nobody knew that I was all my clients."

As M.E. Kerr, she wrote YA novels and was regarded as "a pioneer in realistic fiction for teenagers," as the Young Adult Library Services Association said in presenting her with its Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1993. As Ann Aldrich, she wrote nonfiction books that chronicled lesbian life in Greenwich Village and beyond, including We Walk Alone (1955) and We, Too, Must Love (1958). As Mary James, she wrote quirky books aimed at younger children, like Shoebag (1990). 

Her books under her own name included Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s (2003), about her two-year relationship with the author Patricia Highsmith. She was one of three main interviewees for the recent documentary film Loving Highsmith," the Guardian noted, "and on the promotional tour she belied her 93 years with spirited and telling reminiscences."

"But the work that put her on the map and may have had as much impact as any of the others was Spring Fire, published by Gold Medal Books under the name Vin Packer, which Ms. Meaker later used for a series of suspense novels," the Times wrote. The book, which is said to have sold 1.5 million copies, was about a college freshman who falls in love with one of her sorority sisters and "spoke to a significant segment of women who, in the early 1950s, were not seeing themselves in fiction."

Among the writers who followed Meaker into the new world was Ann Bannon, whose books include Odd Girl Out (1957), I Am a Woman (1959) and several others the series known as the Beebo Brinker Chronicles. Noting that Spring Fire was a ground-breaker, Bannon said, "Meaker had in fact founded a new genre, lesbian pulp fiction, which was to become for a stretch of about 15 years wildly successful, and a moneymaker. It was finding fans among both sexes, and coast to coast, pushing same-sex romance into conversational orbit for the first time in history."

Meaker was uncomfortable with the ending of Spring Fire. The Times noted that the Postal Service then "was on the lookout for anything that seemed to glorify what its censors thought of as perversion. So publishers made sure she and other lesbian writers gave their stories unhappy endings."

"Which," said Robin Talley, a queer author of YA books, "is why in Spring Fire, one of the women in the central romance winds up in an asylum and the other becomes straight and forgets she ever liked girls to begin with.... Still, Spring Fire and the novels it influenced were what caused a whole generation of queer women to see themselves represented for the first time."

In 1974, Meaker told the New York Times she was drawn to the YA genre by the conviction that teenagers were "entitled to honest, up-to-date good stories with characters their own age to relate to--books that are about them and what bothers them, not about their parents.... This is the age when kids are going through great emotional upheavals. And they are looking for truths. But until young adult novels started growing up, five years ago or so, they couldn't find books about themselves, about their feelings, their problems."


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Neighbours Helping Neighbours'

Now in its 50th holiday season in Guelph, Ont., Canada, the Bookshelf has seen how the downtown area has changed. As Ben Minett wrote on the store's website, "The number of vulnerable people in this city has increased dramatically--those facing mental health crises, addiction, homelessness and food insecurity. Perhaps you feel compassion, sadness and even fear about what is happening. Maybe you want to reach out but feel paralyzed by confusion about how and where to help. One thing that has been proven time and again: Having a place to call home is a big step towards recovery for everyone."

As a result, the store is supporting the Home for Good Campaign with a $20,000 donation. And it's encouraging customers to donate, too, with several enticements: all gifts made to the Home for Good Campaign through the Bookshelf will be automatically doubled through a match by the City of Guelph. And all donors will be entered into a raffle for a free cinema rental at the store.

Holiday Storefront Decorations: The Haunted Bookshop

"Happy Holidays!!! I think we're sleighing the storefront, don't you?" the Haunted Bookshop, Mobile, Ala., posted on Instagram. "It's a Storybook Holiday over at The Haunted Book Shop with a Sleigh Your Selfie station, a bench so you can read a holiday story by local author Meggan Haller, and our windows featuring different holiday books! Many thanks to @kcfireyaugustday for her vision and fantastic execution! It makes us smile seeing all this and this is just the outside! Come inside to see all of our decorations."

Personnel Changes at Legacy Lit

Maya Lewis has joined Hachette's Legacy Lit as marketing manager. She had been marketing manager at HarperCollins, where she worked with Amistad Book, HarperVia, and HarperCollins Español.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Adam Hochschild on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis (Mariner Books, $29.99, 9780358455462).

The View: Amber Ruffin, co-author of The World Record Book of Racist Stories (Grand Central, $29, 9781538724552).

Movies: Family Leave

Emma Myers (Wednesday) and Brady Noon (The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers) will star alongside Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms in the body-swap comedy Family Leave, based on Amy Krouse Rosenthal's 2010 book, Bedtime for Mommy, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Deadline reported.

The project is being directed for Netflix by McG (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Terminator Salvation), with Adam Sztykiel (Black Adam, Scoob!) writing the latest draft of the script--working from one by Victoria Strouse. Producers are Lawrence Grey and Ben Everard for Grey Matter Productions, Nicole King Solaka for Linden Entertainment, Garner, and McG and Mary Viola for Wonderland. Exec producers are David Hyman and Jason Brian Rosenthal.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Hessell-Tiltman Winner; Aspen Words Longlist

Francesca Stavrakopoulou won the £2,000 (about $2,455) PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, endowed by former PEN member Marjorie Hessell-Tiltman's bequest to celebrate the best nonfiction on any historical subject, for God: An Anatomy (published in the U.S. by Knopf). The judges said: "Exploring God from head to toe, God: An Anatomy is a revelatory and brilliant examination of the emergence of monotheism written with real verve and vitality."

Olivette Otele, chair of the judging panel, commented: "The breadth and depth of God: An Anatomy simply amazed us. This outstanding book challenges and enhances our perception of a deity, the Bible and even the representation of masculinity."

This year, judges also gave an honorable mention to Raphael Cormack for his book, Midnight in Cairo: The Female Stars of Egypt's Roaring '20s (published here by Norton), which the panel called "a beautiful gem that deserves a special honor. It sheds an important light on the role of entertainers and women in particular advancing rights in Cairo in the earliest part of the 20th century."


The longlist has been selected for the $35,000 Aspen Words Literary Prize, sponsored by the Aspen Words program of the Aspen Institute and honoring "a work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue." The 14 longlisted titles, which can be seen here, include seven fiction debuts and five short story collections. Finalists will be announced March 6 and the winner April 19.

Book Review

Review: Please Report Your Bug Here

Please Report Your Bug Here by Josh Riedel (Holt, $27.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781250813794, January 17, 2023)

Josh Riedel's inventive debut novel launches readers into a world of tech startups eerily reflective of the digital media era that exercises outsized influence on what people do and how they think. Set in San Francisco, Please Report Your Bug Here opens with a note from former DateDate app employee Ethan Block, who swears his story is "not imagined, I promise you that--at least not to me. All that's changed are the names. Everything else is true." From there, Ethan traces the shifting tech landscape from the dating app's startup days, the bug that sends users temporarily into an alternative world, the acquisition of DateDate by the Corporation, and the rest of their looping and unraveling story.

Riedel writes here from experience, drawing upon his early role at Instagram (before and after its acquisition by Facebook) and managing to maintain a critical distance within that familiarity. The places, the details of conversations and all the related gear (the Chemex, the fixie, the Patagonia vest) register as authentic even as they have been elevated and distorted by the collective gaze leveled on Silicon Valley. And if another close look at a social media startup were all this novel were about, it might not warrant much attention. Thankfully, that's not all Riedel is up to.

The real work being undertaken here is an exploration of authenticity and identity and art in the face of (or perhaps in the wake of?) digital media. Unlike similar apps, DateDate creates unusual friction in the user experience, requiring answers to hundreds of questions about themselves before their top "matches" are revealed, a practice Ethan's friend and colleague Noma challenges: "I could answer a million questions on DateDate and you still wouldn't know who I am. Nobody would. That's the point: we don't know people, we get to know them. We're always in the process of getting to know each other. It never ends." Similarly, the book pushes readers to see the ways both art and technology construct and disrupt reality, forcing an examination of every experience, an insistence that humans are always in the process of discovering what is true. These more abstract and infinitely more interesting questions are the heart of Please Report Your Bug Here, and readers will find much to think on as they are compelled to find out what happens next. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

Shelf Talker: Josh Riedel's inventive debut launches readers into a world of tech startups and media apps while also tackling art and reality and the possibility of portals to alternative worlds.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L. Armentrout
4. The Gravity of Up by Brent Yates
5. Confetti Moments by Amy Jamrog
6. Tis the Season for Revenge by Morgan Elizabeth
7. How the Grump Saved Christmas by Claire Kingsley
8. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose
9. The Sinner by Shantel Tessier
10. Untying the Knot by Meghan Quinn

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