Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 25, 2023

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

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

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Quotation of the Day

'All Independent Bookshops Are Different from Any Other Bookshop'

"I think all independent bookshops are different from any other bookshop because they're creations of the individuals that work there and own them, not some corporate overlord. My bookshop, like other independent bookstores, is a reflection of the community that I live in, my taste, and the taste of my booksellers."

--Becky Dayton, owner of the Vermont Book Shop, Middlebury, Vt., who is joining's Book Club today for a conversation with Rebecca Makkai about her latest novel, I Have Some Questions for You

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships


Ada Limón Appointed to Second Term as U.S. Poet Laureate

Ada Limón

Ada Limón, who has been the U.S. Poet Laureate for a two-year term, has been given a second two-year term, marking the first time in history that a U.S. Poet Laureate has been given two two-year terms. Limón's second term runs from September 2023 to April 2025.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who has appointed Limón to both of her terms, commented: "During her first term, Ada Limón has done so much to broaden and promote poetry to reach new audiences. She also laid the groundwork for multiple laureate outreach efforts to come, many with federal agencies. A two-year second term gives the laureate and the Library the opportunity to realize these efforts and showcase how poems connect to, and make sense of, the world around us."

Limón said. "I am beyond honored to serve for another two years as the Poet Laureate of the United States. Everywhere I have traveled during my first term, both nationally and internationally, I've been reminded that poetry brings people together. I am looking forward to continuing the important work of celebrating what poetry can do."

Limón is working on several major collaborations to share more poetry with the public. On June 1, she will return to the Library to reveal a new poem she has written for NASA's Europa Clipper mission. Limón's poem will be engraved on the spacecraft that will travel 1.8 billion miles to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. The poem will be part of an upcoming program to invite international public participation.

In August, Limón will appear at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., and at the start of her second term in the fall, the Library will announce details of Limón's signature project, a first-ever partnership with the National Park Service and the Poetry Society of America to present poems in selected national parks across the country, as well as announce laureate initiatives with federal and non-federal partners.

For National Poetry Month, Limón has served as the guest editor for the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series in a first-ever series collaboration between the Academy and the Library of Congress.

Limón began her first term in September 2022 with an event at the Library of Congress, and during her term she participated in two events hosted by the First Lady of the U.S.: for the National Student Poets Program and for the state visit with Brigitte Macron, wife of the president of France. Limón also participated in an event hosted by Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, wife of the president of Mexico, for the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico City; and in Buenos Aires she participated in a conversation with Argentine poets Laura Wittner and Daniela Auginsky for the Library's Palabra Archive.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Vermont Town Seeks Bookstore

Ebenezer Books

Several residents of Johnson, Vt., in the northern part of the state, are seeking a bookstore for the town. As they wrote, "We've appreciated having an outstanding bookstore for 21 years. Sadly, the owner, Jennifer ("JJ") Indeliclae, is planning to close the doors of Ebenezer Books in mid-May. The store is in the heart of Johnson, well-loved, and an important anchor in our village. Its absence will be a great loss to our town and the surrounding towns who have relied on Ebenezer for a long time."

They note that while Indeliclae is not selling the business or inventory, "the beautiful antique building" is available for rent. Among other selling points for the location, residents say:

  • Johnson is a destination! Hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts flock to Johnson for the Long Trail and the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, both of which go through our town. We are also known for outstanding day hiking, fishing, paddling and our proximity to Smugglers Notch, Jay Peak and Stowe.
  • We are the home of the Vermont Studio Center, an internationally renowned residency program for artists and writers.
  • Northern Vermont University is located a mile from the center of town.
  • Route 15 runs through the center of Johnson and is the main east/west road across northern Vermont. The 68-mile main road brings 7,000-8,000 cars through town per day.
  • The nearest booksellers are 25-60 minutes away.
  • Johnson is experiencing growth--commercial, residential and tourist!

For more information, contact Kim Gellatly or Diane Lehouiller. The building owner is Etta Parker.

Parable, Tacoma, Wash., Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Parable, a Black-owned bookstore that opened in Tacoma, Wash., in 2021, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help keep the store open, the New Tribune reported. The GoFundMe campaign, which has a goal of $31,000, went live five days ago and has already raised more than $17,000.

Parable co-owner LaKecia Farmer, who owns the store with family members Le'Ecia Farmer and Deatria Williams, told the News Tribune that business has slowed since January and the store owners had started limiting hours to weekends only.

Per the GoFundMe page, the owners plan to use the raised funds to help hire two support employees: one to do event planning and another to staff the bookstore.

Parable's new and used book inventory centers BIPOC authors, disabled authors, and queer and trans authors, while its nonbook inventory includes plants, records and a variety of items produced by small businesses and artisans throughout the Pacific Northwest. Most of those suppliers, Farmer noted, are BIPOC or women as well.

Parable also hosts a variety of events, ranging from author talks and movie screenings to maker markets and a recent "Caribbean Queens" pop-up.

After seeing the community's response to the campaign, Farmer said, "This is the first time we've been hopeful in a long time. We get to add capacity. That is incredible."

International Update: Russian Book Trade Under 'Significant Pressure'; BAMB's 2023 Limited-Edition Bag

The Russian book publishing market "is preparing for tough times this year as the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine and sanctions against the Russian government put significant pressure on the sector," the Bookseller reported, citing Russian trade magazine Book Industry's report on 2022 figures, which put the total market in excess of ₽90 billion (about $1.1 billion), a rise of 7.5% over 2021. 

The digital market as a whole "has coped with the departure of strong foreign players and still amounts to around 12% of the turnover of printed books," at ₽10.9 billion (about $134 million), Book Industry noted.

The majority of local book publishers and analysts "believe the strength of the market in 2022 was a carry-over from pre-war activities," the Bookseller wrote, adding that "this year many of them expect a serious drop, although much will depend on the future situation in Russia and its economy."

Alexei Ilyin, CEO of the Alpina Publishing group, one of Russia's leading book publishers, said, "The situation has changed dramatically. More than half of foreign copyright holders have ceased co-operation. Because of this, publishers have sharply reduced the ability to form a portfolio, and some of the books from their current portfolio have begun to drop out of the lists. The cost of production has risen sharply: the price of printing services has increased by an average of 30% and paper by 20%. Meanwhile publishers cannot fully compensate for their cost rises by increasing prices as the purchasing power of people has significantly declined in recent months.... At the same time, the market collapse which many expected in March and April 2022 has not happened yet. The entire industry has demonstrated a very high level of adaptability."

He added that the future of the market is difficult to predict because "everything will depend on the development of the political and economic situation in the country as a whole.... We do not expect the situation to improve in 2023. The main thing is that it doesn't get much worse."


Author and illustrator Poonam Mistry (The Midnight Panther) is this year's designer of the Books Are My Bag limited-edition totebag, which will be available exclusively in bookshops across the U.K. and Ireland for Bookshop Day on October 14. The Booksellers Association noted that Mistry's "style incorporates her love of nature and explores the relationship between pattern, shapes and color creating beautifully intricate illustrations. Bought up around Indian fabrics, paintings and ornaments, she cites them as a source that heavily influences her work." She has collaborated with Penguin Random House, Tate Publishing, Buster Books, Hachette, and Michael O'Mara Books, among many others.

"I am delighted and honored to have been asked to design this year's Books Are My Bag tote," Mistry said. "Bookshops are wonderful and magical places that bring communities together and celebrate stories all around the world. I owe so much to booksellers and bookshops who do an amazing job championing all writers and artists. I hope everyone likes the design of the tote as much as I enjoyed illustrating it."

Emma Bradshaw, BA head of campaigns, commented: "We are delighted that Poonam has designed this year's incredibly eye-catching limited-edition bag. Her illustrations are absolutely beautiful and the detail is exquisite. They are going to look wonderful in bookshops with their beautiful colours and patterns."


"Sometimes life is a series of unfortunate events and it can feel a little hard to reconcile the bad stuff with the good," Canadian indie Iron Dog Books, Victoria, B.C., posted on Instagram over the weekend. "Our shop was broken into last night, which makes it two smashed windows on the truck and one break-in in four months. It's pretty heartbreaking for me, but also please know that our store is mostly ok--they didn't break the windows but rather pulled the cylinder on the lock, and there was no other vandalism, only a small amount of cash stolen. Our store is so fortunate that people like Angel, who owns Northstrong Locksmith, exist. He took my call at 7 a.m. and came right over, fixed my door up with a new lock and now we will be ready to start the day at 10 a.m. mostly as usual. 

"This post is about all the stuff that happens behind the scenes at small businesses. The hidden costs, the stress and worry, the late-night and early-morning labor that is the scaffolding of success. I see you, neighborhood business folks. And to our customers, we would love to see you this weekend, even if it's just to stick your head in as you go by and wave. We could use a little boost from seeing all your friendly faces." --Robert Gray

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Remember You Will Die
by Eden Robins
GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Despite the title, Eden Robins's Remember You Will Die is a joyously enlivening masterpiece. Only dead people inhabit the pages of this novel, their stories revealed predominantly through obituaries ranging from deeply soulful to hilariously delightful. As Christa Désir, editorial director for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks, promises, it's "a book about life and art and loss and being human and messy." By 2102, the singularity has long happened, and an AI called Peregrine learns that her 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, is dead. Unraveling this requires a three-century excavation of relationships, cultures, science, history, and brilliantly sourced etymology. Désir predicts "a cult classic" that readers will want to "immediately pick back up... to find more Easter eggs and clues." Eden Robins could have the singular bestseller of the year. --Terry Hong

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 9781728256030, 
October 22, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Independent Bookstore Day Spirit Week: #SillySockDay

Independent Bookstore Day Spirit Week began Monday with #SillySockDay. Among the booksellers participating:

At the river's end.

the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.: "You've heard of #booktok, well here @ the river's end we've got #booksock! It's silly sock day! Part of Spirit Week leading up to Indie Bookstore Day!"

Roundabout Books, Bend, Ore.: "Spirit Week kicks off today with Silly Sock Day! Look for more fun pics this week as we count down to Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday, April 29th."

Once Upon a Time Bookstore, Montrose, Calif.: "Starting Independent Bookstore Spirit Week off with some silly socks! We hope you are gearing up for a fun event this Saturday."

At Main Street Books

Main Street Books, Davidson, N.C.: "It's Silly Sock Day. Shoes kill the vibe. Spirit Week has begun! Now we count down to Indie Bookstore Day."

Scrawl Books, Reston, Va.: "It's #BookstoreSpiritWeek, and Jocelyn couldn't decide which pair of socks to wear for #SillySockDay--so she's sleeping on it! Show us your silly socks, and don't forget to drop by for #IndieBookstoreDay on Saturday!"

Aarons Book's, Lititz, Pa.: "On Mondays we wear silly socks! Shrek, books, and bacon galore. That's right, it's the first day of Independent Bookstore Day Spirit Week. Show us your silly socks too!"

Dragon Tale Books, Menomonie, Wis.: "It is silly sock day for #bookstorespiritweek leading up to Saturday April 29, #independentbookstoreday. We have a nice selection in the store if you are out."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Valerie Fridland on Here & Now

Here & Now: Valerie Fridland, author of Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English (Viking, $30, 9780593298329).

Fresh Air: Virginia Sole-Smith, author of Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture (Holt, $29.99, 9781250831217).

Drew Barrymore Show: Madison Beer, author of The Half of It: A Memoir (Harper, $23.99, 9780063237698).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Rep. Katie Porter, author of I Swear: Politics Is Messier Than My Minivan (Crown, $28, 9780593443989).

TV: Lessons in Chemistry

Apple TV+ released a first-look teaser for Lessons in Chemistry, based on the novel by Bonnie Garmus. Starring and executive produced by Academy Award-winner Brie Larson (Room), the series makes its global debut on Apple TV+ this fall. The cast also includes Lewis Pullman, Aja Naomi King, Stephanie Koenig, Kevin Sussman, Patrick Walker, and Thomas Mann.

From Apple Studios, Lessons in Chemistry is produced by Aggregate Films, with Lee Eisenberg (WeCrashed, Little America) serving as showrunner and exec producer. The series is executive produced by Susannah Grant (Unbelievable, Erin Brockovich) alongside Larson. Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan (Ozark, A Teacher) exec produce for Aggregate Films, along with Natalie Sandy through Piece of Work Entertainment alongside Eisenberg. Louise Shore also serves as executive producer.

Books & Authors

Awards: Los Angeles Times, Gotham Book Winners

The winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are:

Biography: G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage
Fiction: Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Sean Cotter
Graphic novels/comics: Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
History: By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow's Legal Executioners by Margaret A. Burnham
Mystery/thriller: Secret Identity by Alex Segura
Poetry: Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems by Dionne Brand
Science & technology: How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler
The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad
The Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction: Spear by Nicola Griffith
Young Adult literature: Torch by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Current interest: Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America by Dahlia Lithwick
The Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose: Solito by Javier Zamora
The Innovator's Award: the Freedom to Read Foundation
The Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement: James Ellroy


Two winners have been announced for the Gotham Book Prize, recognizing the best book--fiction or nonfiction--that is either about or takes place in New York City. They are:

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana (Scribner). Organizers said in part, "In eight interconnected stories, Sidik Fofana conjures a residential community under pressure. At Banneker Terrace, everybody knows everybody, or at least knows of them. Longtime tenants' lives are entangled together in the ups and downs of the day-to-day, for better or for worse. The neighbors in the unit next door are friends or family, childhood rivals or enterprising business partners. In other words, Harlem is home. But the rent is due, and the clock of gentrification--never far from anyone's mind--is ticking louder now than ever. Stories from the Tenants Downstairs brilliantly captures the joy and pain of the human experience."

The Sewing Girl's Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America by John Wood Sweet (Holt). "On a moonless night in the summer of 1793 a crime in the back room of a New York brothel transformed Lanah Sawyer's life. It was the kind of crime that even victims usually kept secret. Instead, the 17-year-old seamstress did what virtually no one else dared to do: she charged a gentleman with rape. The trial rocked the city and nearly cost Lanah her life. And that was just the start. Based on extraordinary historical detective work, Lanah Sawyer's story reveals how much has changed over the past two centuries--and how much has not."

The two winners split the $70,000 prize, and they will be honored at an upcoming celebration at P&T Knitwear, the new independent bookstore, podcast studio, and event space on Manhattan's Lower East Side. P&T Knitwear founder Bradley Tusk and Howard Wolfson created the award in 2020 in the early months of the pandemic "to encourage and honor writing about New York City."

Top Library Recommended Titles for May

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 May titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
The Ferryman: A Novel (Ballantine, $30, 9780525619475). "In a world where people don't die but are ferried away to be regenerated into a 16-year-old with no memories, Proctor is responsible for making sure the 'retirees' go without a fuss. But he is quickly drawn into a mystery at the heart of their society. The multi-layered quality moves this from a poignant story into thriller, into world-exploring science fiction." --John Sloan, Chicago Public Library

Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah (Pantheon, $27, 9780593317334). "In a near-future America, prisoners can opt into a gruesome program of death matches against other prisoners. Their lives are broadcast to a bloodthirsty public, and they can win their freedom if they kill enough opponents. The novel employs an effective series of rotating narrators to tell all sides of this story, forcing us to look at how we dehumanize prisoners." --Laura Bovee, Chicopee (Mass.) Public Library

The Guest: A Novel by Emma Cline (‎Random House, $28, 9780812998627). "Alex is coasting through life on the grace and credit card of her older boyfriend for the summer. She can't return to the city now that her roommates want nothing to do with her, and her friends have all disappeared. There is nothing she won't do, and no one she won't manipulate, to get what she needs: a bit more time. Perfect for fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis (Tex.) Community Library

The Half Moon: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane (Scribner, $28, 9781982172602). "What happens when your current life doesn't match your expectations? That's what's happening with Malcom and Jess. The married couple thought things would be easier, but life keeps throwing curveballs at them. Over the course of a blizzard, they are forced to reckon with their decisions and determine if they can move forward on a different path." --Melissa Tunstall, Charleston County (S.C.) Public Library

Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon (Putnam, $28, 9780593540749). "Amber has very strong opinions about people who fall prey to serial killers and is sure that being savvy and street smart will keep her safe. Until she is taken by a serial killer, and her life becomes a hot mess. This quirky, snarky book reads like Janet Evanovich teamed up with Stephen King." --Linda Quinn, Fairfield (Conn.) Public Library

Practice Makes Perfect: A Novel by Sarah Adams (Dell, $17, 9780593500804). "A sweet Kentucky florist looking for love asks her sister-in-law's bodyguard to help her sass up after a date accuses her of being too boring. With wonderful characters, this cute romance is a great second installment in the When in Rome series." --Sonya Skibicki, Bartlett (Ill.) Public Library District

Quietly Hostile: Essays by Samantha Irby (Vintage, $17, 9780593315699). "If you haven't already read Irby: 1) Who are you and how do you live? 2) This is a perfect time to start. Reading her relatable essays feels like hanging out with an older sister who doesn't sugarcoat the awkward parts of life and helps you recognize you're not the only one faking your way through adulthood." --Rebecca Hayes, Highland Park (Ill.) Public Library

The Secret Book of Flora Lea: A Novel by Patti Callahan Henry (Atria, $28.99, 9781668011836). "A poetic tribute to the power of story. Exploring the lifelong effects of the horrors of war, the richly developed characters endure loss that haunts them into adulthood. When a mysterious book appears, it sets in motion a search for answers, making sense of the past, and healing of broken hearts." --Ron Block, Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library

The Wishing Game: A Novel by Meg Shaffer (Ballantine, $28, 9780593598832). "In this magical tale, a beloved children's author announces a tantalizing game: four fans can compete to win the only copy of his new book. All the contestants are intriguing, but readers will root for Lucy, a teacher's aide desperate to find the money needed to adopt an orphaned boy." --Beth Mills, New Rochelle (N.Y.) Public Library

Witch King by Martha Wells (Tordotcom, $28.99, 9781250826794). "Kai, the eponymous (and erroneously named) Witch King, traverses two timelines as he helps overthrow an empire and then has to deal with the descendants of heroes who live long enough to become villains. A very fun, tightly plotted epic fantasy with spectacular worldbuilding and pacing." --Veronica Koven-Matasy, Boston Public Library

Book Review

Review: The Late Americans

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor (Riverhead, $28 hardcover, 320p., 9780593332337, May 23, 2023)

Brandon Taylor's The Late Americans offers an insightful and razor-sharp portrait of the interconnected lives of a cohort of writers, dancers, and thinkers living in the contemporary American Midwest. Seamus is a white, aspiring poet but his holier-than-thou, woke writer's MFA workshop makes him viscerally sick. Ivan is an ex-dancer building a career in finance on the back of money raised by his pornography. And Fyodor is a mixed-race worker in a beef processing plant who can't stop pushing away his partner. Together with a whirlwind of other figures who swirl in and out of each other's lives in Iowa City, these characters share friendships and emotional fallouts, triumphs, and betrayals, forever grappling across the fault lines of race, sexuality, and class.

Like other works by Taylor (Real Life; Filthy Animals), The Late Americans demonstrates a nuanced understanding of not only individual characters but the social worlds that tie them inextricably together. The interlinked story structure plays well to this strength of Taylor and highlights the complexity of such social dynamics. Taylor's characters unfold through specific, recognizable details, like Fyodor's tenderness toward the meat he cuts, "which was rather soft and delicate, like cloth or dough. You had to respect its natural geometry, the irregularities of how the muscle broke, the way it fell and lay"; or Seamus's particularly acute yet distant experiences of pain: "There was a faint rattle in his chest when he breathed.... His shoulder ached. He put his thumb into his mouth and bit hard on the gristle at its edge. There was a sharp prick of pain, and then only dull heat." But it's the way these people interact with each other, from new perspectives and in new contexts, like chemicals transforming in solutions, that results in a deeply evocative portrait of anxiety and vulnerability, ambition, and intimacy.

The novel has no single protagonist, but it is noteworthy that despite most characters getting one apartment-sized section, Seamus gets two. Though not aiming to win any congeniality awards, Seamus is still the character who makes many of the novel's central questions most affectively visible. How does one "pierce" the art that makes one feel something without the "betrayal of the whole project"? How does one write for oneself and for others simultaneously? And how does one honor past traumas without losing sight of the "falling apart, coming together, kissing, hugging, laughing" that make us not just human but social beings? --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: A splendidly wrought and emotionally engrossing novel consisting of linked character portraits, The Late Americans continues to cement Brandon Taylor as a standout literary voice.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Ashes and the Star-Cursed King by Carissa Broadbent
2. The Golden Virtue: Unveiled by Tanja Murgel-Subotic
3. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
4. The Stable Boy of Auschwitz by Henry Oster and Dexter Ford
5. How Much I Need (Miami Nights Book 5) by Marie Force
6. The Worst Wedding Date by Pippa Grant
7. Pucking Around by Emily Rath
8. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
9. Right Man, Right Time by Meghan Quinn
10. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

[Many thanks to!]

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