Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 12, 2023

William Morrow & Company: The List by Yomi Adegoke

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin

Page Street Kids: Payden's Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

Annick Press: Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Peachtree Publishers: Buddy and Bea series by Jan Carr, illustrated by Kris Mukai

Tor Teen: The Hunting Moon (The Luminaries #2) by Susan Dennard


AAP Sales: Up 0.2% in February, Trade Down 0.4%

Total net book sales in February in the U.S. rose 0.2%, to $1.003 billion, compared to February 2022, representing sales of 1,238 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. (Figures do not include pre-K-12, because of delays in data collection.) For the year to date, total net book sales rose 1.8%, to $2.27 billion.

During February, trade sales slipped 0.4%, to $706.3 million. Hardcover sales dropped 6.4%, to $235.5 million. Paperbacks fell 0.9%, to $244.7 million. Mass market dropped 3.2%, to $15.5 million. Special bindings were off 5.5%, to $16.2 million.

Sales by category in February 2023 compared to February 2022:

Spiderline: An Ordinary Violence by Adriana Chartrand

Kathy Burnette, Brain Lair Books, Joins ABA Board

Kathy Burnette

Kathy Burnette, owner of Brain Lair Books, South Bend, Ind., which she founded in 2018, has been appointed to the board of the American Booksellers Association, Bookselling This Week reported. She replaces Melanie Knight of Books, Inc., San Francisco, Calif., who has left the book industry.

Burnette is also the president of Our Stories, Our Future, Inc., a local literacy-focused nonprofit. Before opening Brain Lair Books, Burnette was a school librarian and teacher for 16 years.

Burnette is a board member of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association and a former member of ABA Booksellers Advisory Council, the ABC Children's Advisory Council, and the ABA nominating committee. She has also helped develop several education sessions.

In addition, Burnette has served on the 2018 ALA Michael L. Printz Committee, the 2014 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults committee, the ILF YHBA for Middle Grades, the ILF Eliot Rosewater Awards, and the Indies Introduce Kids Committee. Most recently, she chaired the 2023 Summer/Fall Indies Introduce Kids committee.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

Bound Books Comes to York, Pa.

Bound Books, a bookstore and cafe with general-interest titles for all ages, opened last month in York, Pa., the York Daily Record reported.

Located at 21 S. Beaver St. in downtown York, the shop features a wide-ranging inventory including literary classics, graphic novels, nonfiction, food, and more. There is a dedicated children's section and the small cafe sells tea and coffee and baked goods sourced from the Contented Rooster in Maryland. There are plants for sale, too, along with a variety of gardening tools and accessories.

Co-owners and partners Sarah Timmcke and Chuck Blair held a grand opening for the store on April 22. Blair told the Record that he's had a longheld dream of opening a bookstore which was inspired by his 11th grade English teacher. Timmcke, meanwhile, was initially a reluctant reader but after picking up Charlotte's Web as a preteen has been "addicted to reading" ever since.

When it came to creating a bookstore of their own, they decided to combine all the things they both love: coffee, books and plants. "If we create something that we liked, hopefully other people might like it as well," remarked Blair.

They found the storefront at 21 S. Beaver St. in October and have been busy getting the bookstore and cafe ready while also continuing to work their day jobs. They've been "overwhelmed," they said, with the community's positive response to their store.

"We're definitely learning as we go, but we never would have done this without the help of our families and friends who put in countless hours of work to help us," Timmcke told the Record.

Crazy Wisdom Bookstore Returning to Ann Arbor, Mich.

Crazy Wisdom, which closed its physical bookstore more than a year ago, will reopen in a new form later this year at 114 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor, Mich. Owners Bill Zirinsky and Ruth Schekter closed the bookstore in February 2022 to focus on Crazy Wisdom Publications, which publishes the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal and the CW Biweekly Ezine

In a job posting, Crazy Wisdom noted that it is currently "offering an exciting one-of-a-kind opportunity for a full-time manager to spearhead the re-opening of the brick-and-mortar Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, southeastern Michigan's leading body, mind, and spirit bookstore for almost 40 years. After being on sabbatical since early 2022, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore is ready to reemerge, under its same longtime ownership, in the fall of 2023 or the first part of 2024." 

The listing also noted that this incarnation "will focus primarily on the second floor as an event and community building space, and will host a variety of events including but not limited to: meetings, workshops, poetry and storytelling nights, book discussion groups, author events, intuitive and psychic readings, seasonal rituals, witches nights out, Salon nights, music nights, drum circles, meditation gatherings, and other types of events which it has fostered and hosted over its decades." 

A smaller, more focused bookshop located on a portion of the first floor will have significantly reduced hours of operation. Zirinsky told the Ann Arbor News that he will have more to say about the bookstore's return in a few months.

Farley's Bookshop Reopens in New Hope, Pa.

After four months of renovations, Farley's Bookshop in New Hope, Pa., reopened on Independent Bookstore Day, the Bucks County Herald reported.

Last fall, longtime booksellers Julian Karhumaa, William and Kate Hastings, and Charlie Balfour purchased the bookstore, which has been in operation since 1967, and in January closed it so the building could undergo renovations. The bookstore received new walls, floors and a ceiling, and Kate Hastings told the Herald the space is now much more open, with better natural light.

Noting that the bookstore's building dates back to 1804, Karhumaa praised the team at Modern Recycled Spaces, which owns the building and planned and executed the renovations, saying they did "a remarkable job, nothing short of extraordinary."

William Hastings said the renovations "saved the building," and the store "wouldn't have been able to stay in town without their hard work, thoughtful planning and design."

"The community has supported us since 1967 and has supported us over the last four months," Balfour added. "We're excited to give back to them."


Image of the Day: Bank Square Books' New Mural

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., showed off its new ocean-themed store murals, created by local artist Elissa Sweet: "Our walls are now bursting with vibrant colors and charming sea creatures (a few even closely resemble our employees...). Customers of all ages can become part of the mural by opening the diver panel on the side of the check-out counter! A perfect photo opportunity!" 

Happy 25th Birthday, Doylestown Bookshop!

Congratulations to the Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., which is celebrating its 25th anniversary tomorrow, Saturday, May 13, 1-3 p.m. The party begins with a champagne toast with owner Glenda Childs. Attendees are invited to "join us in sharing your stories of the bookshop over the years, mingle with current and past booksellers, and enjoy the music of local musician Bruce Malcolm."

Childs wrote to customers, in part, "Twenty-five years ago, in May 1998, Pat Gerney bought the bookshop from the Village Green Bookstore, a bookstore chain based out of Rochester, N.Y. Pat renamed it the Doylestown Bookshop with the desire that it would become a 'hometown bookstore.' Throughout the e-book explosion, the big box store expansions, and the beginning of online shopping, the Doylestown Bookshop remained steady. Hosting Harry Potter midnight release parties, creating a space where families could bring their children to grow to love books, and supporting local authors when their first books were published. Our community chose to visit and purchase their books from the Doylestown Bookshop.

"That legacy continued when I bought the Doylestown Bookshop from Pat in May 2012, a time when many people thought that brick-and-mortar bookstores were a thing of the past. But not in Doylestown! I was charmed by the bookshop and the town and felt that the community would respond if we brought in more author events, added book-related gift products, and continued to support our local authors and the wonderful families that choose to raise their kids with visits to our children's department.

"Both Pat and I are so grateful for the outpouring of community support over all these years. Please know how important you are to the success of the Doylestown Bookshop. You, our customers, and the community have given us your continuing, unwavering support. It continues to be our pleasure, 25 years later, to serve you and all your literary needs."

Minneapolis Bookstore Owner Competing on Jeopardy! Tonight

Victoria Ford

Victoria Ford, owner of Comma, a Bookshop, Minneapolis, Minn., will be a contestant on Jeopardy! tonight. The bookstore posted on Facebook last week: "We're excited to share that shop owner Victoria will be appearing on @jeopardy one week from today. Tune in to @kare11 here in the Twin Cities next Friday, May 12 to see her in action, with the fabulous @missmayim hosting. We're trying to put together a little viewing party--stay tuned here for more information!"

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular April Books

The two most popular books in April at Reading Group Choices were The Gifts: A Novel by Liz Hyder (Sourcebooks Landmark) and Where Coyotes Howl by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin's Press).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Anne Berest on Weekend Edition

Good Morning America: Tre'vell Anderson, author of We See Each Other: A Black, Trans Journey Through TV and Film (Andscape Books, $26.67, 9781368081733).

NPR's Weekend Edition: Anne Berest, author of The Postcard (Europa Editions, $28, 9781609458386).

Mo Willems Launches Hidden Pigeon Company

Author and illustrator Mo Willems, Stampede Ventures, and RedBird Capital Partners have formed Hidden Pigeon Company, "a multiplatform kids and family content venture that will leverage Willems's best-selling catalogue of children's books and intellectual property across all entertainment platforms," Deadline reported. HPC will be led by Kathy Franklin as CEO.

"The Hidden Pigeon Company takes its name from how kids and former kids delight in finding The Pigeon hidden in every one of my books," said Willems. "It is my hope to create a similar bit of surprise and delight in the fabric of everything we make or do.  I am thrilled to have found wonderful collaborative partners to make that hope a reality."

The creation of HPC follows Stampede Ventures and Mo Willems's existing producing partnership, which has already done two specials on HBO Max: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience and Storytime All Stars Presents: Don't Let the Pigeon Do Storytime (2020), which was nominated for two daytime Emmys. 

In addition, HPC will house a publishing imprint called Specific House, which has partnered with Barnes & Noble's Union Square & Co. publishing operation to launch Willems's new adult humor book, Be the Bus--The Lost & Profound Wisdom of the Pigeon, as well as The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!, and the upcoming Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh!, which will be the Pigeon's first holiday book.

"We've deeply enjoyed the success of our partnership with Mo and Cher Willems to date, and it's shown us that the popularity of his IP and the appetite for premium family entertainment are a powerful combination," said Greg Silverman, Stampede Ventures' CEO and founder.     

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Ondaatje Winner, Orwell Shortlists

Anthony Anaxagorou won the £10,000 (about $12,510) RSL Ondaatje Prize, which recognizes a distinguished work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry, evoking the spirit of a place, for Heritage Aesthetics

Chair of judges Samira Ahmed said: "Anthony's poetry is beautiful, but does not sugarcoat. The arsenic of historical imperial arrogance permeates the Britain he explores in his writing. And the joy of this collection comes from his strength, knowledge, maturity, but also from deeply felt love."

Anaxagorou commented: "Thank you so much to the judges for seeing the book, for seeing the intention, the vision of trying to bring Cyprus and the U.K. together. Cyprus has always been very peripheral when it comes to colonial history--it was only made independent in 1960, very late on within Britain's project to decolonialize (although there are two British Army bases still there). I hope by having the book seen in this way it will bring more readers to Cyprus and to the U.K."


Shortlists have been released for the £3,000 (about $3,750) Orwell Prize for Political Fiction as well as the Orwell Prize for Political Writing (nonfiction), both of which recognize works that strive to meet Orwell's own ambition "to make political writing into an art." The winners will be named June 22. Shortlists for all four Orwell Prize categories are available here. The book finalists are:

Political Writing 
Show Me the Bodies: How We Let Grenfell Happen by Peter Apps 
Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children by Hannah Barnes 
Invasion: Russia’s Bloody War and Ukraine’s Fight for Survival by Luke Harding
Who Cares?: The Hidden Crisis of Caregiving, and How We Solve It by Emily Kenway 
Inside Qatar: Hidden Stories from One of the Richest Nations on Earth by John McManus 
The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule by Angela Saini
The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy by Phillipe Sands 
Divided: Racism, Medicine and Why We Need to Decolonise Healthcare by Annabel Sowemimo
Fire of the Dragon: China’s New Cold War by Ian Williams 

Political Fiction 
Small Worlds by Caleb Azumah Nelson
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton 
Bournville by Jonathan Coe 
The New Life by Tom Crewe 
A House for Alice by Diana Evans 
The Story of the Forest by Linda Grant 
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver 
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz 

Reading with... Susie Luo

photo: Matt Stokes

Susie Luo is a writer in New York. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell Law School. She wrote at night while working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. Her debut novel, Paper Names (Hanover Square, May 2, 2023), is inspired by her family's experiences and considers fathers and daughters, identity, the immigrant experience, the burden of secrets, and what it means to be American.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Two families start on different tracks of the American Dream and end up on a collision course with each other. Who? Why? How?!

On your nightstand now:

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. It's the MFA course I never had! I'm really trying to improve my writing and, though I'm sure Professor Saunders is even funnier in person, he remotely helps me dissect what makes a story good (or bad) and apply it to my own writing.

Favorite book when you were a child:

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I remember convincing my parents to let me borrow it from the adult section of the library when I was way too young to read about murder. It was twisty and smart and horrific in the best way.

Your top five authors:

Jack Livings. Sparse prose, tight narrative, funny. Basically everything I want my writing to be.

Shanthi Sekaran. Reading her novels is like reading poetry. Her writing is an inspiration.

Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner has stayed with me ever since I read it. It transported me and made me worry about what was going to happen to the characters as if they were real people. I could not put it down.

Zadie Smith. Writing with humor is one of the hardest things to pull off, and Zadie somehow manages to do it in every paragraph.

Anthony Doerr. His writing is just stupid beautiful: poetic and lyrical. There's a wind beneath his words.

Book you've faked reading:

None. I have no qualms about stopping whenever I lose interest in a book. There are just too many good books out there to read!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Whatever book I just finished and loved! I basically tell my friends that they have to read it, and I can't talk to them until they have. The last book was Weike Wang's Chemistry. Wang's writing is so stylistic and laugh-out-loud funny!

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm a sucker for book sets. Many of Kazuo Ishiguro's works (especially the older ones) now have a theme of three white lines running across them, plus a gold sticker for his Nobel Prize (no big deal). Your book covers only get to match like that when you're not only critically acclaimed but also commercially successful and prolific. I love Paper Names, but it's my very first book. Every day I work on my craft, and every day I'm becoming a better and better writer. My biggest dream is to have the chance to publish as much as Ishiguro has--and have a book set of my own!

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents are the biggest proponents of reading. In high school, whenever my dad would tell me to clean my room or my mom would tell me it's time to do laundry, as long as I said, "Now? I'm reading," they would immediately back away (and sometimes even do my chores for me). They didn't care what I was reading because they believed every book teaches you something. But if they caught me watching television? Yikes.

Book that changed your life:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I mean, including me, how many thousands of lawyers did that book spawn?

Favorite line from a book:

I love lines that move me. That make me look at something I've seen a hundred times in a different way. The below section from Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See forever changed how I look at the ocean.

"I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.

"It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel."

Five books you'll never part with:

I always have a stack of books next to me as I write, and I will flip to a random page if I'm suffering from a block. These books have all inspired my writing and, in one way or another, they help me find the rhythm of my own voice again. Currently, they are: Empire Falls by Richard Russo; Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane; Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu; Shakespeare's sonnets; Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong.

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

Harry Potter. I still remember locking myself in my room, barely sleeping, surviving on Starbursts, devouring each new book within days, and then reading it all over again slowly. Those magical books were really the cornerstone of my childhood.

Books that made you want to become a writer:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I have always been an avid reader, but I never dreamt of becoming a writer. When I read those two books back to back, things shifted for me. Flynn's and Smith's voices jumped off the page. I could hear them; there was something about the rhythm that was so distinctly theirs. And for the first time, it made me think, hey, maybe I have a voice, too.

Book Review

Review: The Wife App

The Wife App by Carolyn Mackler (Simon & Schuster, $27.99 hardcover, 368p., 9781982158798, June 27, 2023)

Carolyn Mackler's razor-sharp adult fiction debut imagines one answer to a persistent question: What if women got paid for all the "mental load" tasks that wives usually do for free?

After she finds out her husband is cheating (again), Manhattan tech product manager (and mom of twins) Lauren Zuckerman files for divorce. While toasting her new life, she and her two best friends, Madeline and Sophie, hit on an idea: a "wife app" that would pay women to wrangle the minutiae of other people's lives. Though the other two initially see it as a joke, Lauren takes the idea and runs with it, resulting in a wild ride that will reshape how they all think about work and relationships.

Mackler (The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I) shifts among her three protagonists' voices, chronicling their struggles with career and parenting, as well as their larger existential (and romantic) worries. Heiress Madeline has devoted her life to mothering her daughter, Arabella, a Juilliard pre-college cellist. But the prospect of Arabella spending a school year with her dad (Madeline's ex) in London threatens to upend their cozy mother-daughter existence. Sophie loves her work as a literacy teacher, but it barely pays the bills for her and her two sons, especially since her musician husband left her for another woman. With financial and emotional buy-in from Madeline and Sophie, Lauren takes the leap--developing, testing, and launching the app, then dealing with the triumphs and trials of owning a small business.

As the women work out the kinks of the app--accepting assignments, establishing firm boundaries with clients, hiring other "wives" and juggling their new workloads--Mackler examines the cultural norm of women shouldering the mental (and logistical, and often emotional) burdens for their families. Her characters grapple (sometimes hilariously) with the growing pains of a start-up and its sudden success, but still have to manage their own mental loads (occasionally becoming clients of the app themselves). All three of them also have unexpected romantic encounters, which may (or may not) have lasting effects on their lives. Throughout the book, their friendship--not perfect, but honest and warm--helps ground all three women. Mackler also adds a few sensitive subplots around the trio's children and their issues, including anxiety, questioning one's gender identity, and the everyday trials of adolescence.

Smart, wincingly funny, and occasionally sexy, Mackler's novel is a 21st-century ode to female empowerment and women pursuing what they really want--while still juggling childcare, camp forms, and relationships like the pros they are. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Carolyn Mackler's smart, witty adult debut follows three divorcees who launch an app to pay women for shouldering the mental load.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Traveling Real and Imaginary Landscapes Through Books

I'm increasingly mindful of the degree to which geography, distance and weather have molded my sensory palate, my imagination and expectations. The island continent has not been mere background. Landscape has exerted a kind of force upon me that is every bit as geological as family. Like many Australians, I feel this tectonic grind--call it a familial ache--most keenly when abroad.  

--Tim Winton, Island Home: A Landscape Memory (Milkweed Editions)

Tim Winton

It's been a good week. I learned that one of my favorite writers, Tim Winton, will be inducted by the Australian Publishers Association into the Australian Book Industry Awards Hall of Fame later this month as recipient of the 2023 Lloyd O'Neil Award, which honors outstanding service to the country's book industry. The influence of Winton's writing "has seeped into our collective consciousness, reflected in conversations from the arts, education and community activism to the environment and marine conservation," ABIA noted. 

"It's a lovely thing to be honored by the writers, publishers and booksellers who keep our precious book culture alive, and I'm really touched to be given this award in my 40th year in the caper," Winton said.

One of those booksellers, Keith McLeod of Margaret River Bookshop, observed: "I feel, like many Australians who read Tim Winton, a connection to his work: the landscapes, the ocean, the people and his evocative rendering of all this. As readers we can springboard off this great connection and travel the real and imaginary landscape to discover what we have, what we understand, or have yet to learn about what we have. It's a source of pride to have his books in our shop."

Reflecting upon a lifetime's work as a Western Australian author who stayed home rather than be lured by the bright lights of Sydney/Melbourne, much less New York/London, Winton told WAtoday that supporting Australian publications is key: "These are the people pushing our culture forward. Publishing and bookselling--and writing--are part of a living ecosystem and we should be proud of it.... The writing community are writing for love more than money--if it was about the money they'd all be gone and you'd be reading exclusively American and English books. So support that local community bookstore just as you support any other community store--they care and they make a difference."

I've read most of Winton's books since opening my first, Breath, in 2008. I can't believe it took me that long to "discover" a major international author, but it did. Shame on me, though late converts are often the most passionate followers. 

Also this week, I saw that BookPeople, the Australian independent booksellers association, had released a paper, The Importance of Imagination: Understanding the state of Australia’s imagination and the role reading plays in fostering creativity. It was commissioned by BookPeople and conducted in partnership with research agency YouGov.

"Analysis of the research has highlighted that there is a growing concern about the level in which we use our imagination in our day-to-day lives, with many Australians expressing their desire to use it more," writes BookPeople CEO Robbie Egan in the foreword, adding: "Books and reading give us access to infinite worlds, past and future histories, and are the best medium for exploring narratives and ideas. Whether we read for entertainment or information, reading generates a net benefit for our mental health and our understanding of the world."

The research reveals that 94% of Australians acknowledge imagination is important, with 22% claiming they get to use theirs all the time while 8% rarely or never get to use it. More than 60% said they would like to use their imagination more within daily life.

Reading is cited as the best way to foster imagination. Among those Australians who claim they would like to use their imagination more, 45% would like to read more books and 92% believe reading is one of the best ways to foster imagination. The top benefits mentioned include "an increase in knowledge and understanding of new things" (58%), "stimulation of thinking" (57%), and "allowing people to escape from everyday mundanity" (58%).

Barriers holding people back from being more imaginative were also explored. The perceived ramifications of a lack of imagination appear to be severe, with Australians reporting that it hinders advancements and innovation more broadly, as well as contributing to cognitive decline, the paper noted.

Imagine this...

In addition to being one of Australia's great authors, Tim Winton is a lifelong surfer. "Waiting sharpens the senses," he writes in Island Home, and he could be talking about writing, about reading, about imagination. 

On the surface of his brief sentence, he's contemplating the time spent waiting patiently to catch the right wave. Beneath the surface there's so much more at stake. "This was how I came to understand nature and landscape," he continues. "By submitting. And by waiting. Waiting sharpens the senses. Which is to say it erodes preconceptions and mutes a certain kind of mental static; the clutter and glare in the foreground recede. Immersion and duration are clarifying. While waiting for the next set, for the wind to change, or the tide to turn, I had thousands of hours in which to notice things around me."

Imagine that.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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