Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 5, 2023: Maximum Shelf: How to Say Babylon

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

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

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


New Owners for Breakwater Books in Guilford, Conn.

Rob and Dani Howard are the new owners of Breakwater Books, Guilford, Conn., which was put up for sale in February, reported CT Insider. They purchased the bookstore from Paul Listro and Richard Parent, who had bought it in 2019 from Liza Fixx. Previously, the store was owned by Maureen Corcoran. Marion Harold and Marion Young opened Breakwater Books in 1972.

Last Saturday, the Howards opened the store for the first time as owners. "It was exciting," said Rob Howard. "So many friends and people we know around town came in and congratulated us on the purchase and bought some books and were all excited and shared our excitement."

Dani Howard added: "We've been curating this table of books that were all of our favorite fiction and nonfiction books, and it was actually really fabulous to see my friends taking these books off the table and then asking me if they could buy them."
The table features a note of introduction that begins: "We are so excited to take our turn running this fantastic bookstore! Books have been a big part of our lives--we have even gone to bookstores on dates," CT Insider noted.

Describing the sale as "bittersweet," Listro said, "We love that little store. It was not an easy decision, but we knew it was the right time. We're thrilled and there's no sadness or remorse because we turned it over to a couple that's really going to do great."

Listro recalled that after announcing the bookstore sale, there were many inquiries from prospective buyers: "Over 40 people reached out to us. We connected with about 12 different parties. We met with five different couples." He added that the Howards' connection to Guilford was key: "They're very entrenched in the community and she's got boundless energy and I think she's going to do fantastic work and so is he."

The new owners plan to make some changes in the hopes of making a more direct connection to the greater community, and to use the huge plate glass window at the store, which offers a view of the action in center of town and the green, to 'keep ourselves catching up with community events and changing the window to make it a little more immersive and interactive with what's happening in the community," said Dani Howard.

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

Liberation Station, Raleigh, N.C., Opening Bricks-and-Mortar Store

Victoria Scott-Miller

Liberation Station, a Black-owned children's bookstore that debuted as a pop-up in 2019, will soon open a bricks-and-mortar location in downtown Raleigh, N.C., Axios reported.

Owner Victoria Scott-Miller has found a storefront at 208 Fayetteville St. and plans to open on June 17, which will be the same day as Raleigh's Juneteenth celebration. The bookstore will join a "growing cohort of Black-owned businesses in the area," and in addition to diverse children's books will feature banned titles like Toni Morrison's Beloved and James Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain.

Scott-Miller has also launched a crowdfunding campaign with the Bulls of Durham; money raised through the campaign will go toward buying bookshelves and other fixtures, a reception desk and seating, as well as murals and design work.

She told Axios she was inspired to open a bookstore after she and her husband had difficulty finding books for their sons that featured characters of color. "We knew it was something fulfilling for our children but we did not realize the impact seeing books not based on trauma narratives but hope--like that I could be a scientist--would have on other children."

Anodyne Book Shop Opening in Searsport, Maine

A new and used bookstore called Anodyne Book Shop is opening Friday in downtown Searsport, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Located at 33 East Main St., the bookstore will be the first in Searsport since 2012. Owner Elly Burnett, a former lawyer, will carry a wide variety of books along with greeting cards, tote bags, and other merch. Going forward, she plans to fine tune the store's inventory based on customer feedback.

Burnett left her law practice earlier in the pandemic, and when things began returning to normal, she decided she needed a career change. She had worked in bookstores while in college, and was inspired by the many new businesses that have opened recently in Searsport.

"It seemed like Searsport was about to experience some sort of revival," Burnett told Bangor Daily News, adding that "the welcome I received has been tremendous."

The bookstore will have a soft opening on Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a grand opening following on Saturday.

Amazon Closing Down U.K.'s Book Depository

Book Depository, the online bookseller based in the U.K. that was set up by a former Amazon employee and purchased by Amazon in 2011, is closing down. An Amazon spokesperson told the Bookseller: "We have taken the difficult decision to close the Book Depository following a review across the company to prioritize what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses."

Vendors and publishing partners were informed by e-mail that Book Depository will be closing April 26: "Over the coming weeks we will complete a winding down of the business, including discontinuing our listings as a marketplace seller and closing our website." The Bookseller noted that the e-mail also said the closure would be done in "a structured way" to give vendors and consumer customers "a business as usual experience" during the process.

Andy Chart, head of vendor management, concluded: "I would like to take this opportunity to say a big 'Thank You,' from everyone at Book Depository and our book-loving customers, for your supportive partnership over the years in helping us to make printed books more accessible to readers around the world."

When asked about the reasons behind the closure of Book Depository, Amazon directed the Bookseller to a blog post from January 2023, in which Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote to employees outlining significant cutbacks as a result of "the uncertain economy."

Obituary Note: Raghavan Iyer 

Raghavan Iyer

Raghavan Iyer, "who as a young man left India for the United States clueless about how to cook even a simple potato curry and went on to teach America's heartland how to prepare one of the world's most complex cuisines," died March 31, the New York Times reported. He was 61. 

"When I first got to this country, I was almost embarrassed about where I was from and the food we ate," he said in a Times interview in February, adding that over time he realized that his culture was the "tool" he could use to overcome feelings of inferiority.

Iyer "parlayed a rascally charm and a palate imprinted by the vegetarian South Indian food of his childhood into a prolific career, one built in part on the cookbooks of Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni, the Indian cooking heavyweights who began their culinary careers in the 1970s. He referred to them as 'the grandes dames of Indian cooking,' " the Times wrote, noting that his contributions "were a bridge to a new breed of American cooks and cookbook authors from the Indian diaspora."

Iyer's seven books include Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking (2001); 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking (2008); and Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked--and Fried Too! (2016).

He wrote his last book, On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World in 50 Recipes, in between chemotherapy and surgeries. It was published in February. "We were pummeled by colonials for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years," he said. "So I wanted to look at the diaspora of curry powders through the eyes of the colonials who invented it and the Indians who they sent around the world."

Although Iyer consulted for restaurants around the country, taught workshops, led tours to India, created a line of frozen Indian meals for Target, and instructed thousands of professional cooks at universities, museums and companies, "his favorite thing was helping individual cooks confidently tackle dishes like curries and biryanis, often using basic ingredients common in supermarkets," the Times noted. 

"He was very kind to those of us who are not great cooks," said author Amy Tan, who was a friend. "He knew if you made this all authentic, quote unquote, I am not going make it. He was all about love and sharing and being honest and genuine."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: The Crossover Premiere

Kwame Alexander (center), author of the 2015 Newbery Medal-winner, The Crossover, celebrated with many of the Newbery Committee members last night at the Hollywood Athletic Club premiere of the Disney+ TV series based on his book. Alexander serves as creator, writer, and co-showrunner on the series. Pictured: (l.-r.) Eti Berland, Abby Johnson, Lucinda Whitehurst, Patrick Gall, Randall Enos, Sylvia Tag, Alexander, Shelf Awareness's Jennifer Brown, Stephanie Bange, Stan Steiner, Armin Arethna, Janet Thompson, and Alexander's editor, Margaret Raymo. The Crossover airs on Disney+ starting today.

Chalkboard: Roundabout Books

"Spring is just around the corner! Have you seen the forecast for next weekend? Wahoo! Reading in the sunshine on the deck warms our heart!" Roundabout Books, Bend, Ore., posted on Facebook along with a photo of the shop's sidewalk chalkboard and its seasonally appropriate message: "April derives from the Latin word 'aperire' meaning to open. Let's do this Spring!"

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Kavita Wright has been promoted to senior director of online marketing.

Katia Herrera has been promoted to director of ecommerce and performance marketing.

Anna Venckus has been promoted to marketing associate.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Clancy Martin on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Clancy Martin, author of How Not to Kill Yourself: A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind (Pantheon, $30, 9780593317051).

Today Show: Harlan Coben, author of I Will Find You (Grand Central, $30, 9781538748367).

Movies: Hamnet

Writer-director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) is set to direct an adaptation of Hamnet for Amblin Partners, Hera Pictures, Neal Street Productions and Book of Shadows. The film is based on the novel by Maggie O'Farrell, who will adapt the script with Zhao. Deadline reported that it "is still unknown whether this will be Zhao's next project as she is developing a handful of films following the success of the Searchlight drama Nomadland." 

Books & Authors

National Book Foundation: '5 Under 35'

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2023 "5 Under 35" honorees, recognizing "fiction writers under the age of 35 whose debut work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape." They were each selected by a past National Book Award winner, finalist, or longlister, or by an author previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program. 

"Since it was established in 2006, the 5 Under 35 program has identified writers whose debut titles suggest careers of great promise," said David Steinberger, chair of the NBF board of directors. "These exceptional young writers have already made their mark on the literary world with their first published work of fiction, and it is our honor welcome them into the National Book Foundation family and celebrate their work for years to come."

"We are grateful to this year's selectors for reading widely and eagerly to recognize this cohort of five exceptional authors and their memorable debuts," said NBF executive director Ruth Dickey. "It is a privilege to spotlight these exciting new voices in contemporary fiction, and we look forward to celebrating their talent."

The 2023 honorees, who each receive $1,000, will be celebrated May 25 at a ceremony in New York City. For the first time, the event will be open to the public, and is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum. This year's 5 Under 35 honorees are:

Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck (Mariner Books), selected by Robert Jones, Jr., 2021 National Book Award finalist
Chelsea T. Hicks, author of A Calm & Normal Heart (Unnamed Press), selected by Louise Erdrich, 2012 National Book Award winner, 1999 and 2001 finalist
Morgan Talty, author of Night of the Living Rez (Tin House Books), selected by Karen Russell, 2009 5 Under 35 honoree
Jenny Xie, author of Holding Pattern (Riverhead Books), selected by Kirstin Valdez Quade, 2014 5 Under 35 honoree
Ada Zhang, author of The Sorrows of Others (A Public Space), selected by Jamil Jan Kochai, 2022 National Book Award finalist

Awards: PEN/Faulkner for Fiction, Anisfield-Wolf, Windham-Campbell Winners

Yiyun Li won the 2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Book of Goose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). She will receive $15,000, with the other shortlisted writers each getting $5,000. All five will be honored May 11 at the annual PEN/Faulkner Award Celebration in Washington, D.C., featuring an appearance by 2023 PEN/Faulkner Literary Champion Terry Gross.

"In December, we were pleased to honor Yiyun Li with the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story," said Louis Bayard, PEN/Faulkner Awards committee chair. "This latest tribute from our judges affirms that she is equally accomplished in the long form. We look forward to celebrating Li and her gifted fellow finalists at our awards ceremony in May."

The judges praised The Book of Goose as "a dazzling, conventions-defying, nuanced novel. It's a tale of a complicated friendship, of two girls bending toward and away from each other. The prose is singular; the central characters, Agnès and Fabienne, haunted us with their radical ingenuity and bold, unruly ambitions. We kept finding that we wanted to press this book on others"

"I am deeply honored, thrilled, and grateful for this award," said Li. "Writing a novel is like sending a message in a bottle to the unknown. To receive this recognition is a heartwarming confirmation that someone has found the bottle and read the message. My deepest gratitude to the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, to the judges, and to my fellow finalists: it's always a good day when people read literature with care and thoughtfulness."


The winners of the 88th annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation and honoring literature that confronts racism and explores diversity, are:

Geraldine Brooks for Horse (Viking)
Lan Samantha Chang for The Family Chao (Norton)
Matthew F. Delmont for Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad (Viking)
Saeed Jones for Alive at the End of the World (Coffee House Press)
Charlayne Hunter-Gault for lifetime achievement

Jury chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, "These remarkable books deliver groundbreaking insights on race and diversity. This year, we honor a profound and funny novel centered in a Chinese restaurant, a brilliant story of 19th-century horseracing with contemporary echoes, a stunning poetry collection that captures who we are now, and a meticulous history that recasts our understanding of World War II. All are capped by the lifetime achievement of Charlayne Hunter-Gault, who remade this country with her courage and her nuanced reporting."

The winners will be honored Thursday, September 28, at Case Western Reserve University during Cleveland Book Week.


The Windham-Campbell Prizes, which give winners $175,000 to support their work, have been announced and include "both literary legends and emerging talents."

Michael Kelleher, director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, said: "Reading this year's recipients excited me because each one taught me new ways of seeing the past, the present, and the future. I can't wait to see what each of them does next!"

The eight winners are:

Percival Everett (U.S.)
Ling Ma (U.S.)

Susan Williams (U.K.)
Darran Anderson (Ireland/U.K.)

Dominique Morisseau (U.S.)
Jasmine Lee-Jones (U.K.)

Alexis Pauline Gumbs (U.S.)
dg nanouk okpik (Iñupiaq-Inuit)

Reading with... Marcus Amaker

photo: Ruta Smith

Marcus Amaker takes daily naps and is Charleston, S.C.'s first poet laureate. He's also an opera librettist, an electronic musician and an award-winning graphic designer. He's an Academy of American Poets fellow, and his poetry has been recognized by NPR, the Washington Post, the Kennedy Center and more. His 10th book of poetry is Hold What Makes You Whole (Free Verse Press, April 4, 2023). He is currently writing an opera with Gillian Rae Perry as part of Chicago Opera Theater's Vanguard Initiative.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

My 10th poetry book is a balm and a bomb. Hold What Makes You Whole is the result of an intense period of self-care.

On your nightstand now:

Kid A Mnesia by Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood; Grapefruit by Yoko Ono; Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey; The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray; Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. Yoko Ono is a big inspiration, so I'm always going back to Grapefruit to check my poetic bravery. I'm thankful for Yoko and her fearlessness.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I first read Sylvia Plath's Ariel when I was in high school, and it altered the way I looked at language. Full disclosure: I don't remember many of the books from my childhood, because I was so wrapped up in CDs and tapes.

Your top five authors:

Andrea Gibson, Peter H. Reynolds, Ani DiFranco (song lyrics can count, right? Ani is one of the best), June Jordan, Questlove.

Book you've faked reading:

Anything assigned to me in high school. Sorry, teachers.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works by Simon Parkin. The Dreamcast changed my life when it was released in 1999. The games were so real, and the Sega vibe was the best: they were completely ahead of the game (pun intended?), so I'll always be a champion for that system. This book is a great visual history of a classic era in video games.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Funk & Soul Covers by Joaquim Paulo. As a record collector, I deeply enjoy looking at album covers and learning about new artists. This book is a beauty.

Book you hid from your parents:

I don't have specific memories of hiding a book from my parents, but I know that I hid my punk rock CDs from them. Punk is a type of energy they didn't understand.

Book that changed your life:

Rest Is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. I got this for a Christmas gift in 2022, and it's been a savior. I am obsessed with the opportunity to rest and the fact that rest is a choice many of us don't make. Our ancestors gifted us these moments. Moments to be free and to indulge in the quiet. I'm all in.

Favorite lines from a book:

"Just because you are seeing divine light, experiencing waves of bliss, or conversing with Gods and Goddesses is no reason to not know your zip code." And: "A moment's reflection will show you that you play many roles in the course of a day... and that who you are from moment to moment changes. There is the angry you, and the kind you, the lazy you, the lustful you--hundreds of different you's. " --Ram Dass, Be Here Now

Five books you'll never part with:

Be Here Now by Ram Dass; Images: Mirrored from the Heart by Ruth H. Robinson, God Is Dead by Ron Currie Jr.; The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott (what an ending!); The Beautiful Ones by Prince.

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

Ron Currie Jr.'s God Is Dead. I've never read anything like it. It's such a powerful, surprising and subversive book.

Songwriter you think should be an author:

Fiona Apple. She's the best lyricist I've ever read. The songs are mini-novels. She's a master of metaphor and mood.

Book Review

Children's Review: 10 Cats

10 Cats by Emily Gravett (Boxer Books, $16.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 3-5, 9781914912580, May 2, 2023)

British author/illustrator Emily Gravett's 10 Cats is a nearly wordless picture book full of bright hues and silly antics. Gravett expertly lets the counting, colors, and cats tell the whole sweetly entertaining story.

In the first spread, we meet the eponymous 10 cats: one snowy-white, beaming mother and nine relatively courteous calico, striped, spotted, and black kittens all sitting in a row against a white background. From "1 white cat" to "10 multicolored cats," though, the scene grows progressively more chaotic--and polychromatic. When Mama stretches and dozes off, her offspring begin to do what kittens do best: get into mischief. A series of red, yellow, and blue paint cans makes a terrific obstacle course and jungle gym. As the kitties clamber around and onto the cans, readers look for "2 black cats" (one climbs on Mom; one topples off the red paint can). Playtime escalates with "3 cats with stripes" and "4 cats with patches," as first the yellow paint can, then the blue, and finally the red somehow get opened. Now five cats--including Mom--have "red spots," there are "6 cats with yellow dots," and seven of them have "blue blotches."

10 Cats is more than fun and games, too. In the process of wreaking havoc, the playful kittens (and their unsuspecting, catnapping mother) help readers learn about colors, patterns, and numbers. After all, what might happen when blotches and dots smear together by way of wrestling kitties? Gravett's cheery primary shades (which turn into secondaries as the bedlam advances) bring the zany 1960 classic Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire to mind. The clean white background at the beginning is almost completely wallpapered with a riot of tints and tones by the end, and every cat becomes a veritable fur rainbow. Readers will giggle to see the nine wee ones conked out in the disarray just as Mama cat wakes up. There's only one response to this kind of mess: bath time!

Gravett (Bear and Hare Share; Cyril and Pat) is brilliant at using white space to paint a witty visual story. Her pencil and watercolor ("with a smidgen of digital fiddle-faddling") artwork is lovely and should appeal to all ages. Children will enjoy seeking patterns and counting kittens on each spread, especially as the hues mix more and more (finding "9 cats with green splats" is not easy when every cat has been splashed). 10 Cats deserves an easy-to-reach place of honor on the favorite picture book shelf. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: In a vivacious, nearly wordless picture book that invites close and repeated scrutiny, nine mischievous kittens make a colorful mess and help readers learn about counting, patterns, and colors.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in March

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during March:

1. I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. The Berenstain Bears Brother and Sister Bear Favorites by Jan and Mike Berenstain (Zonderkidz)
3. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperAudio)
7. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (HarperAudio)
8. Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson (HarperAudio)

1. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Audio)
2. Spare by Prince Harry (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Enchantment by Katherine May (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Finding Me by Viola Davis (HarperAudio)
5. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Tantor Media)
8. How to Think Like a Woman by Regan Penaluna (Dreamscape Media)
9. The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Atomic Habits by James Clear (Penguin Random House Audio)

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