Also published on this date: Thursday, March 23, 2023: Maximum Shelf: Pulling the Chariot of the Sun

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 23, 2023

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Ethan and the Strays by John Sullivan, illustrated by Hatem Aly

Wednesday Books: Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana

Little, Brown Ink: K Is in Trouble (a Graphic Novel) (K Is in Trouble #1) by Gary Clement

Fly Paper Products: Literary Gifts

William Morrow & Company: The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim

Berkley Books: The Chaos Agent (Gray Man) by Mark Greaney

Labyrinth Road: Plan A by Deb Caletti


Grand Opening for the Understudy Theatre Bookstore & Coffee Shop in Chicago

Understudy owners Adam Crawford and Danny Fender.

Almost a year in the works, the Understudy Theatre Bookstore & Coffee Shop will host its grand opening this Saturday, March 25, at 5531 N. Clark St. in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, Ill. Reader reported that owners Danny Fender and Adam Crawford were originally aiming for an August 2022 launch, but "city permits and supply chains being what they are, those plans got pushed back by several months."

The venue, designed by Chicago firm Siren Betty, "feels both cozy and elegant, with a variety of different seating areas scattered throughout," Reader noted. "The shelves already contain a diverse collection of new and used titles in a range of categories, interspersed with a cunning array of antiques and knickknacks. Old posters and production photos cover the walls, and the owners hope to create space for regular theater-related exhibitions of visual art as well."

Regarding their book selection process, Crawford said, "We had to do it kind of the opposite of the way that a typical bookstore would open, [where they say] 'Okay, we have this much space, and we know we want to have these kinds of sections.' And then a lot of the time you'll just go straight to the publisher and they say, 'Oh, well, here's what we think every bookstore should have to start right now.' Like, this is what's hot, this is what's selling. 

"We're obviously not like that. Most bookstores don't have any of these [titles]. And so we had to kind of work in reverse of looking at our own shelves with our arms crossed and being like, 'Okay who's that publisher? Or what's that imprint? And do they publish anything else that we want? Or what else can we get from this playwright? And where can we source it from?' And we had to go down these long rabbit holes of university presses and small indie presses." 

The space is evenly split between the bookstore and coffee bar. "It's kind of like two spaces running at the same time," said Crawford. "I've been saying it's not like we're 50% bookstore and 50% coffee shop. We're 100% coffee shop and 100% bookstore." 

He added: "One of the reasons the Understudy came about is because we wanted to have careers in Chicago theater and to be connected to this community. And I think, ultimately, this is doing that already, just by trying to honor other Chicago artists." 

"It's so fun coming here in the morning," Fender said. "We wake up and it's exciting to be here and to work in this space, especially now that we have a team helping us out. They're all so creative and are so good about bringing ideas to the table and giving us feedback. So it really feels like we're working on a show sometimes."

Fender told EATER Chicago: "It has been a big learning curve, to say the least, but one that has been very fulfilling with lots of meaningful surprises. Adam and I have always found ways to mine the positives out of those setbacks and those have allowed us to open a much better version of the Understudy than we would have if we'd opened sooner."

Crawford added: "We're celebrating the process. You can come in here if you're in the process of learning about a new discipline, or if it's something you're coming back to. We can come with you on that journey and say, 'That's something that helped me,' or 'Let's look together.' "

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Sheboygan, Wis., Community Rallies Behind WordHaven BookHouse

Kelly Holstine, who opened WordHaven BookHouse, Sheboygan, Wis., in early 2022, has weathered a tough winter and will remain open thanks to community support and a crowdsourced loan. Spectrum News 1 reported that "as social media and crowdsourcing opportunities grow, some businesses are becoming increasingly open about their struggles."

"I opened a bookshop in Sheboygan, because when I moved here about a year and a half ago, there was no bookshop," said Holstine. Last summer brought an influx of tourists to the area, which kept the shop going, but as this winter set in, times got tough. "I feel like when January and February hit, when I was using my personal savings to pay my rent for the building and mortgage on my home," Holstine said. "I realized this was not sustainable at that point and that is when I had to make the choice."

She decided to open up to her customers about the struggle. "The more I did that, the more positive responses I got, the more confident I felt or more brave I felt," she continued.

Holstine also applied for a crowdfunding loan through Kiva, which requires that a portion of the no-interest loan be crowdsourced, and she "quickly discovered her customers and people in the community were very willing to help," Spectrum News 1 wrote.

"I had an e-mail ready to go, sent the link, within 15 or 20 minutes we were in the second stage, and within 44 minutes the whole thing was over," said Holstine, who was able to secure an $8,500 loan through Kiva to keep the business afloat. "I feel really confident as a result of the ways the community has shown up for WordHaven that we are going to be here for a very long time."

Right after the crowdfunder, Holstine told the Sheboygan Press: "I just want to say how grateful I am to the community for advocating for WordHaven to keep going, and for all of the beautiful support and love. It's just been an outpouring of support and love, and it just makes my heart really happy, and I'm really grateful."

Britannica Books: Britannica's Encyclopedia Infographica: 1,000s of Facts & Figures--About Earth, Space, Animals, the Body, Technology & More--Revealed in Pictures by Valentina D'Efilippo, Andrew Pettie, and Conrad Quilty-Harper

Questlove Heading New MCD/FSG Imprint, AUWA Books

The MCD imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux is launching AUWA Books, an imprint directed by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the filmmaker, musician, DJ, producer, director, culinary entrepreneur and author. Questlove is publisher and editor-in-chief; Alexis Rosenzweig is senior v-p and editorial director; and Malaika Adero and Ben Greenman are executive editors.

AUWA Books will publish both nonfiction and fiction on a range of topics. The publisher said that "Questlove's interests are rooted in music and its history, of course, but the tree's branches expand outward from there to cover nearly every topic under the sun. A literary imprint devoted to finding inspiring new stories and connecting readers to lost voices, AUWA Books' name is inspired by the bird-call noise that was popularized by Prince (you can hear it in songs such as 'Baby I'm a Star' and 'Eye No'). Questlove has always felt a deep kinship with Prince, not just musically but personally, and in that spirit the imprint seeks to strengthen the connection between creators and audience. AUWA is more than just a sound. It is the call going out and the call being answered, a community being identified and nourished. Every book must find its audience, but every publisher must help audiences find their way to books that matter to them."


AUWA Books' first title is Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) by Sly Stone with Ben Greenman, in which the pop music star shares "a story that many thought he'd never have the chance to tell." Pub date is October 17.

Titles to follow include Questlove's own Hip-Hop Is History, about hip-hop's first 50 years, co-written with Ben Greenman (2024); the first book from TikTok and podcaster star Drew Afualo (2024); Building the Hype Economy (2025) by Josh Luber, co-founder of StockX and Fanatics Collectibles; and Handbook for the Revolution: The Essential Guide for Workplace Organizing (2025) by v-p and co-founder of the Amazon Labor Union Derrick Palmer.

International Update: LBF Programming Highlights; New Canadian Indie Focuses on Indigenous Culture

Among highlights of programming for the London Book Fair, to be held April 18-20, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will be in conversation with Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic theater. The two will discuss London's role as a hub for the U.K.'s creative economy; climate change and the role of cities in supporting a more sustainable future; what the publishing industry can learn from other industries in supporting sustainability and showcasing best practice; and the mayor's own experience and how this has shaped his upcoming book, Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency.

HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray is another keynote speaker, and author Kate Moss will be in conversation with Louise Minchin.

Ukraine is the Guest Spotlight. Related programming will focus on how Ukrainian writers have responded to the war, the role that books play in the fight against disinformation and for democracy, the role of women's voices in these discussions, and writing from the front line.


New Canadian indie Barn Swallow Tea and Bookshop, which hosted its grand opening recently at 12 Jarvis St., Fort Erie, Ont., focuses on Indigenous culture and stories. The Fort Erie Post reported that "visitors can find a variety of books, teas and other products all made by Indigenous people or telling stories about Indigenous people."

"Having a center where people can come and read Indigenous content and learn about Indigenous culture in a non-judgmental way and in a safe environment, I think, is really important," said owner Nichole L'Hirondelle. "My father is from the Callihoo Michel band, which is from Alberta. We're actually the only nation to be completely enfranchised. So I grew up without an Indigenous community myself." 

She hopes others in similar positions without an Indigenous community will be able to use her store as a way to begin learning about their own culture and roots: "Growing up, I always tried to reconnect and reconnect, and I could never quite find the perfect place for myself. And so I decided to try and start creating one for all of us lost souls that are not quite sure where to start out."

Also welcome are those who are not Indigenous. L'Hirondelle would like them to take the time to visit her shop and be open to listening to and learning from Indigenous voices to help unlearn negative stereotypes. Barn Swallow Tea and Bookshop plans to host events, including a monthly book club, sacred medicine workshops and classes teaching people how to make dreamcatchers.


Arthur Baker

In New Zealand, Oxford University Press ANZ managing director Arthur Baker has resigned, effective May 31. Books + Publishing reported that Baker, who was appointed to the position in 2017, will join the Copyright Agency as director, strategy and innovation.

Baker has been a board member of the Copyright Agency since 2020, and OUP said the move "will enable him to focus full time on the very real challenges that face our industry and support artists, authors and publishers across Australia, working with a variety of stakeholders, helping to ensure copyright is protected and local creators and businesses continue to be appropriately remunerated for the use of their works."

Copyright Agency CEO Josephine Johnston noted that Baker "will be joining us to guide our strategic direction as we continue to develop our services to members and licensees to reflect a rapidly changing environment for creation and use of content."


The first-ever self-service bookshop has opened in downtown Hà Nội, "offering a new experience for book lovers. If you like a good read, and a cool place to chill, check out this staff-less store on Hàng Trống Street," Việt Nam News reported. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Mary Ronnie

Mary Ronnie, who became the world's first woman national librarian by breaking "the male dominance of the library hierarchy when she was appointed head of New Zealand's National Library," died March 17, Radio New Zealand reported. She was 96. 

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Ronnie came to New Zealand with her family in 1937 and was educated at Otago Girls' High School and Otago University, earning her BA in 1951 and an MA in 1965. She graduated from the New Zealand Library School in 1952 and embarked on a career in public libraries. 

She was "a crusader for public libraries, believing they needed to be made more attractive to all sectors of the community," RNZ wrote. "In her view, libraries were meeting places as well as resource centres and it was the librarian's job to find good quality material acceptable to a wide range of people. She had no time for the librarian who hid behind a desk and piles of books. And she firmly believed that no library should have a 'silence' sign."

Ronnie spent much of her career at the Dunedin Public Library, becoming city librarian in 1968, and went on to head the National Library in 1976, the first woman to be appointed. She held the post until 1981 when she married and took early retirement to accompany her husband to Auckland. The following year she was appointed to head the Auckland City Library but left three years later for a new career as an historian and lecturer. She moved to Monash University in Australia in 1987, becoming acting professor and head of its graduate department of librarianship before retiring again in 1992 and returning to New Zealand.

Ronnie was a Fellow of the New Zealand Library Association and was awarded the Queen's Service Order in 1982. The University of Otago gave her an honorary doctorate in 2007. 


Image of the Day: Black Women in Fantasy at MahoganyBooks

MahoganyBooks in Washington, D.C., hosted an event last Saturday called Black Women in Fantasy, featuring Veronica G. Henry (The Foreign Exchange, 47North), Leslye Penelope (The Monsters We Defy, Redhook) and Nicole Glover (The Undertakers, Harper Voyager). Pictured: (l.-r.) operations manager Briana L., Glover, Penelope, Henry and co-owner Derrick Young.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chrissy King on Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall: Chrissy King, author of The Body Liberation Project: How Understanding Racism and Diet Culture Helps Cultivate Joy and Build Collective Freedom (Tiny Reparations Books, $28, 9780593187043).

This Weekend on Book TV: Mark Pomerantz on People vs. Donald Trump

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 25
3:55 p.m. Nicholas Reynolds, author of Need to Know: World War II and the Rise of American Intelligence (Mariner, $29.99, 9780062967473). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:55 a.m.)

6:15 p.m. Clarence Lusane, author of Twenty Dollars and Change: Harriet Tubman and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice and Democracy (City Lights, $21.95, 9780872868854). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:15 a.m.)

Sunday, March 26
8:55 a.m. John Agresto, author of The Death of Learning: How American Education Has Failed Our Students and What to Do about It (Encounter, $30.99, 9781641772686). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Angela Saini, author of The Patriarchs: The Origins of Inequality (Beacon Press, $26.95, 9780807014547). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Sean Carroll, author of The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion (Dutton, $23, 9780593186589).

3:20 p.m. Dana Milbank, author of The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party (Doubleday, $30, 9780385548137).

4:15 p.m. Joan Donovan, Emily Dreyfuss and Brian Friedberg, authors of Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America (Bloomsbury, $20, 9781639732067).

5:50 p.m. Katherine Corcoran, author of In the Mouth of the Wolf: A Murder, a Cover-Up, and the True Cost of Silencing the Press (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635575033).

7 p.m. Mark Pomerantz, author of People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781668022443).

Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Children's Book Winners

Nadia Mikail's The Cats We Meet Along the Way won the overall 2023 Waterstones Children's Book Prize, as well as the older readers category. The Bookseller reported that the award, voted for solely by booksellers, consists of £5,000 (about $6,095) and "the promise of ongoing commitment to the winners' writing and illustrating careers."

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones head children's buyer, said: "In a phenomenal debut, Nadia Mikail's prose sparkles in the growing market for older readers. Booksellers were overwhelmed by the tenderness woven through each chapter; the moments of silence between the characters are as truthful and evocative as their conversations. Mikail has ultimately crafted a novel of hope, set against an eventful road trip, that encourages us to share stories and dreams."

Mikail commented: "I was really missing my family when I started writing this book, and constantly worrying about them during the pandemic, so I wrote it as sort of a worst-case scenario situation, like what would happen if the apocalypse was about to happen, and I was away from my loved ones. In the midst of trying to kind of work out those anxieties through writing, I realized the only thing we can do is care for the people we love every day and hope for a better future for them even when things seem hopeless."

Other category winners were M.T. Khan's Nura and the Immortal Palace (younger readers) and Kim Hillyard's Gretel the Wonder Mammoth (illustrated books).

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 28:

Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Bakewell (Penguin Press, $30, 9780735223370) explores centuries of humanist philosophy.

Life Worth Living: A Guide to What Matters Most by Miroslav Volf, Matthew Croasmun and Ryan McAnnally-Linz (The Open Field, $29, 9780593489307) is based on a popular Yale undergraduate course.

Lone Women: A Novel by Victor LaValle (One World, $27, 9780525512080) follows a homesteading woman with a mysterious locked trunk.

Chlorine: A Novel by Jade Song (Morrow, $30, 9780063257603) is a horror story about a young swimmer who wants to be a mermaid.

Hang the Moon: A Novel by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, $28, 9781501117299) follows a woman in Virginia during Prohibition.

Ada's Room: A Novel by Sharon Dodua Otoo, trans. by Jon Cho-Polizzi (Riverhead, $27, 9780593539798) connects four women named Ada, including mathematician Ada Lovelace, across 400 years.

Above Ground by Clint Smith (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316543033) is a new poetry collection.

Sweet Enough: A Dessert Cookbook by Alison Roman (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9781984826398) contains dessert recipes from a cooking show host.

The World and Everything in It by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, $18.99, 9780063245648) is a picture book about all things, great and small.

Calling the Moon: 16 Period Stories from BIPOC Authors edited by Aida Salazar and Yamile Saied Mendez (Candlewick Press, $22.99, 9781536216349).

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Vintage, $17, 9780593466735).

The Fawn by Magda Szabó, trans. by Len Rix (NYRB Classics, $17.95, 9781681377377).

Midnight Whispers by V.C. Andrews (Gallery, $17.99, 9781668016572).

Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey (Orbit, $18.99, 9780316504386).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Writing Retreat: A Novel by Julia Bartz (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, $27, 9781982199456). "This story takes 'never meet your heroes' to a whole new level. I loved the use of tension in the book, and how the author played with supernatural elements while still keeping the story grounded in reality. Twisty, dark, and even fun!" --Ann Branson, Beach Books, Seaside, Ore.

Scorched Grace: A Sister Holiday Mystery by Margot Douaihy (Gillian Flynn Books, $27.95, 9781638930242). "After 33 years of bookselling, I can say I have not read a novel as original and shocking as Scorched Grace. She's a (punk) nun like none other (bad pun, but true) resolved to solve a murder to protect her new community and her own choices." --Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Seasonal Work: Stories by Laura Lippman (Morrow Paperbacks, $17.99, 9780063144026). "What is there to say about a new Laura Lippman story collection except for: More, please! Each tale is a gem, and Tess Monaghan makes a couple of appearances. Laura Lippman knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men... and women." --Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
My Baba's Garden by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books, $18.99, 9780823450831). "Every day at Baba's house, she makes the boy breakfast and walks him to school--the love is there on the page. One day, Baba moves in with the boy and he cares for her in return. A gorgeous ode to love between a grandparent and a grandchild." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

For Ages 8 to 12
The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illus. by Kevin Hong (Scholastic, $16.99, 9781338759150). "Plum wants to stay with her grandparents, taking care of their garden and animals. But when she is called to join the Guardians, she learns more about herself and her strengths. This book is for kids who love adventure, magic, and nature." --Alissa Hugel, Folio Books, San Francisco, Calif.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
There Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99, 9781368084321). "This book is vibrant and alive. The teens and the community come alive as they rally to save their neighborhood from gentrification and eviction. Rhea and her friends are so vividly drawn, one can't help but root for the community to rise." --Audrey Huang, Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Juno Loves Legs

Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary (Catapult, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9781646221134, April 18, 2023)

Juno Loves Legs is a sensitive, scarred coming-of-age story by Karl Geary (Montpelier Parade) set in a troubled housing estate and nearby Dublin in the 1980s. Amid poverty, a harsh and judgmental Catholicism, family dysfunction and personal torment, preteens Juno and Seán form an unlikely but sturdy friendship that will carry them through trauma and violence and--if they're lucky--into a wider, freer life.

Juno's harried mother takes in sewing alterations for the neighbors, who look down on her family's poverty and cheat her out of her meager pay. Her father drinks his days away. "Mam shouted up at him; he shouted down at her. They were two mouths and I was their ear." Her older sister is absent following her own particularly awful childhood. Catholic school is a trial for a girl as headstrong and underprivileged as Juno. "We were beaten. A sour-smelling odour emerged from Father before he was done. And even Sister's hands were crimson." Then she meets Seán, who is shockingly clean but whose home life is equally, if differently, disturbed. For his awkward height she dubs him Legs, and they form an alliance, until an extraordinary act of violence tears everything apart. Years later in Dublin, with new troubles, the young adult versions of these childhood friends attempt a beautiful, possibly doomed, second start.

Juno's first-person voice is angry, indignant, righteous, both jaded and pitifully innocent: at 12 she sets out to save the family by calling in the small debts owed her mother by their neighbors, but in her temper botches the job. She blusters to hide her vulnerability, where Legs leaves his tender side open and allows the blows to land. Not only the world at large--strangers, predatory adults, a grimly punishing Catholic church, the big city--but their own families are hopelessly cruel to these misfit children: Juno for her poverty, Legs for his sexuality. (A kind librarian provides an appealing single point of light.) They are stronger together, and their bond is artless, crude and true. This is in part a story about the families we build for ourselves: an ode to friendship in which the friends may still not survive. Geary's young protagonists will face shocking pains before the ending, which glimmers with a touch of hope.

Juno Loves Legs is tender and heartbreaking. Young friendship takes on all the world's challenges--love, art, family, the simple and overwhelming task of survival--with tragic, poignant results. Readers will find Juno's bravado and Legs's persistent sweetness unforgettable. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: In this bittersweet coming-of-age story, scrappy childhood friends from Dublin's outskirts grow tenuously into young adults with only one another for support.

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