Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 11, 2023

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

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

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron


New Name, Location for Former the Tome Bookstore 

Jeremy and Autumn Spencer, who closed the Tome Bookstore, Cincinnati, Ohio, in May with a promise that they would return with a reimagined business, will open Scarlet Rose Books & Vintage Boutique at 220 Elm St. in Ludlow, Ky., on September 9. The new shop is named after their daughters and is across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

In a social media post, the co-owners wrote: "We are thrilled to announce the exciting transformation of our beloved bookstore into something truly special--welcome to Scarlet Rose Books & Vintage Boutique! As we embark on this new chapter, we can't help but reflect on the wonderful journey we've shared with you, our loyal patrons."

Scarlet Rose Books & Vintage Boutique "aims to bring you an enchanting blend of literature, fashion, and timeless treasures," the owners noted, adding that the location "adds a touch of natural beauty to the experience.... We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the neighbors and community that have been nothing short of amazing. Your warmth and encouragement have fueled our determination to create a space that resonates with your interests and desires. At Scarlet Rose Books & Vintage Boutique, you'll find not only an array of new books that will spark your imagination but also a curated collection of cozy clothes, jewelry, accessories, and vintage items that reflect the spirit of our customers.

"From antique furniture that whispers stories of the past to other cherished artifacts, our vintage selection invites you to explore history in a tangible way. Our commitment to fostering literary connections remains stronger than ever. We're thrilled to continue hosting our cherished book clubs, writing workshops, and poetry nights, providing you with opportunities to engage and interact in the rich world of literature.... We can't wait to see your smiling faces once again, surrounded by the warmth of captivating stories, comfortable attire, and timeless pieces that carry a piece of history." 

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood

Three Bells Books Coming to Mason City, Iowa

An all-ages, general-interest bookstore called Three Bells Books will open in Mason City, Iowa, this fall, KIMT3 reported.

Owners Molly Angstman and Jake Rajewsky have found a 1,200-square-foot space at 14 S. Commercial Alley in downtown Mason City. They're eyeing a November opening for the bookstore, which is named for the Brontë sisters and will feature books for children, teens, and adults in a variety of genres. In addition to books, there will be gifts, accessories, and a rotating selection of drinks. The store's event plans include book clubs, author talks, and more.

Angstman will be the bookstore's CEO and will work on-site, while Rajewsky, who works at Fat Hill Brewing in Mason City, will handle the beverage side of the store as well as some behind-the-scenes business. They've hired Julie Bublitz, former general manager of the now-closed bookstore Book World, to help run the Three Bells, and they expect to hire another three to six employees.

"I want to create a warm, welcoming place where all these bookworms can browse, read, get to know each other, and have fun with book culture," Angstman told KIMT3. "Reading is traditionally a solitary activity, but it doesn't have to be!"

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

New B&N Opening in Victor, N.Y.

A new Barnes & Noble location will open in the Eastview Mall in Victor, N.Y., later this year, Rochester First reported.

The store will span 8,029 square feet and feature a cafe and seating area. While an exact opening date was not specified, the mall's developer said it would be open for business "in the coming months." The mall is located on the outskirts of Rochester.

For Sale: Village Lights Bookstore, Madison, Ind.

Nathan Montoya and Annette Vestuto, owners of Village Lights Bookstore in Madison, Ind., are looking to sell their bookstore's inventory and lease its current storefront to a person or group interested in owning and operating it under a new name. Vestuto and Montoya, meanwhile, plan to retain the store's name and deal exclusively in rare and antiquarian books under the Village Lights Bookstore brand.

The bookstore has been a fixture in downtown Madison for 15 years, "nestled among shops and restaurants." It resides within the largest contiguous National Historic Landmark District in the U.S., and the owners described Madison as a vibrant tourist destination that enjoys ample foot traffic. New retailers and restaurants are opening, and older buildings are being renovated or repurposed.

The store, they continued, has an "excellent reputation in the community, the region, and in the publishing world." They described it as a distinct and charming bookstore with a warm and inviting space that includes a cozy children's nook.

Montoya and Vestuto are looking for "a buyer or buyers who are passionate about books, who understand the value of a community-centric business, and who have a deep appreciation for the complexities of operating an independent retail establishment. Substantial experience in the book trade is a must."

Interested parties can reach the owners by phone at 812-265-1800.


Image of the Day: Anita Gail Jones at Book Passage

Last weekend, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., hosted a reading and signing for Anita Gail Jones, author of the novel The Peach Seed, just out from Holt.

Editors Retiring at City Lights Books, Pantheon

Greg Ruggiero with Noam Chomsky in 2012. (photo: Bev Stohl)

Greg Ruggiero, who joined City Lights Publishers as an editor in 2006, will leave the company at the end of August after 17 years with the company. During his tenure, he acquired and commissioned "an extensive list of books from an impressive roster of authors and activists, including the inspiring titles in the City Lights Open Media Series, for which he coined the motto, 'Arm Yourself with Information.' With a deep commitment to a vision of publishing in the service of social justice, he has contributed greatly to the ongoing impact of City Lights Publishing, where he leaves an impressive legacy," the company noted.

"It has been a great pleasure and an honor to be able to work side-by-side with Greg over the years. His advice, encouragement, and contributions to City Lights--and to the community at large--remain invaluable," said Peter Maravelis, City Lights events coordinator.

"All of us at City Lights are sincerely grateful for his many contributions, and we wish him the very best as he sets off into this new phase of his life," the publisher added.


Shelley Wanger (photo: Michael Lionstar)

At Pantheon, senior editor Shelley Wanger will retire in December after more than 30 years with the company. During the past three decades Wanger "built a legendary roster of bestselling writers and lasting books--at Pantheon, Knopf, and Doubleday--that reflect the vast scale of her interests and intellect in literature," the publisher noted.

Among the many highlights of her career was the publication of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, which won the 2005 National Book Award for Nonfiction as well as the 2007 Prix Medicis Essais, and remains a part of the cultural conversation. Wanger edited seven of Didion's books for Knopf as well.
"There are so many reasons why Shelley is in a class by herself that it's hard to pick between superlatives--her great instincts, her amazing support for her writers, that droll sense of humor. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, she's queen of the hill, top of the heap. Period," said Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. 

Denise Oswald, editorial director of Pantheon, commented: "For over 30 years, Shelley Wanger has shepherded some of the great intellects of our time across the Pantheon and Knopf lists and she has done so with elegance, aplomb, and a deft guiding hand, all while bringing a particular acumen to everything she touched. She has been an invaluable colleague whose grace and wit are unlikely to be matched and we will miss her terribly.”

Bookseller Recalls a Seemingly Inauspicious Meeting

In an article last month in the Sunday Los Angeles Times, Kerry Slattery, who was the co-founder, co-owner, and general manager of Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif., recounted how, as a busy bookseller many years ago, she spent a while trying to figure out the angle of a guy who she initially met when he came up to her in the store's parking lot and helped her wheel books from an off-site event into the store. Did he want to get paid to fix the dent in her car? Did he have a book idea pitch?

It's a lovely read, and while not wanting to give the ending away, we'll just say that the title is "L.A. Affairs: I Was Focused on Work. I Didn't Realize He Was Flirting with Me."

Media and Movies

On Stage: The Outsiders Musical

Oscar winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) will be a lead producer of the Broadway-aimed new musical The Outsiders, Playbill reported. Based on the classic novel by S.E. Hinton as well as Francis Ford Coppola's movie, the stage adaptation features a book by Adam Rapp with Justin Levine and music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Levine. It had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse earlier this year.

"I feel very fortunate to be a part of this special production," said Jolie, who joins a producing team that also includes the Araca Group, American Zoetrope, Olympus Theatricals, and Sue Gilad, and Larry Rogowsky. "I studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute where I realized my first love, as a performer, was the theatre. I had not found a way back until now. I hope to be able to contribute while continuing to learn from this amazing team, who I have been working with since my daughter brought me to see the show at La Jolla Playhouse."

The Araca Group's Matthew Rego added, "We are so thrilled Angelina has joined us as a lead producer on this journey to bring The Outsiders to Broadway. Her remarkable career as a storyteller makes her a perfect partner for this project. We are so grateful for the invaluable insight, experience, and commitment that Angelina brings to the development of this new musical."

Books & Authors

Awards: James Cropper Wainwright Nature Writing Shortlists

Shortlists in three categories (nature writing; writing on conservation; children's nature & conservation writing) have been released for the 2023 James Cropper Wainwright Prize for U.K. Nature Writing, which "celebrates the finest nature, travel and environmental writing; in particular, works that encourage exploration of the great outdoors and nurture respect for the natural world." 

The winners will be named September 14, with the £10,500 (about $13,325) prize fund shared among and presented to the authors of the three winning books. The announcement will come at the James Cropper Wainwright Prize 10th Anniversary celebration, held in partnership with the Kendal Mountain Festival. 

Reading with... Mindy Mejia

photo: Jessica Mealey

Mindy Mejia is a CPA, president of the Midwestern chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and a graduate of the Hamline University MFA program. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, and is the author of Strike Me Down, Everything You Want Me to Be, and Leave No Trace. Kicking off her new series, To Catch a Storm (Atlantic Monthly Press) features a physicist who studies storms and a psychic detective who dreams of the lost.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A physicist and a psychic reluctantly team up to solve two missing persons cases during an ice storm in Iowa.

On your nightstand now:

Lay Your Body Down by Amy Suiter Clarke.

This suspense novel set in Minnesota, my home state, dives into feminism, identity, and religious trauma. I'm having a hard time actually putting it on the nightstand so I can sleep.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was really young, my favorite book was Cinderella. I made my mom read it every night while I tried my shoes on my mom's and sister's feet (aka the ugly stepsisters). Then I put the shoe on my own foot and danced around the living room. In middle school, I inhaled Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike. My favorite Pike was Remember Me. No outstanding shoe moments, though.

Your top five authors:

Neil Gaiman, Kelly Barnhill, Megan Abbott, V.E. Schwab, Audrey Niffenegger.

Book you've faked reading:

I couldn't make it through F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school. Why was Nick even in that story? Could Gatsby and Daisy have any less chemistry? I pretended I read it for class and never went back to finish it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Prophet by Sin Blaché and Helen Macdonald.

All my favorite genres wrapped into one completely original, wildly entertaining story. This speculative, romantic noir doesn't come out until August, and I'm already recommending it far and wide.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I couldn't resist the over-it bunny on the cover of Samantha Irby's Wow, No Thank You. The essay collection, like all of her books, is every bit as honest and hilarious as the cover promises.

Book you hid from your parents:

I stole all my mom's Sandra Brown and LaVyrle Spencer novels when I was way too young for them. I read them with a flashlight under my covers, getting a highly inaccurate introduction to sex ed.

Book that changed your life:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck was the first book that made me sob. I was 12 at the time, and it was the first time I realized how much power books could have over people.

Favorite line from a book:

"We believe in light because of shadow; we believe in good because of evil, the balance that is the balance of all life." --Benjamin Percy, Thrill Me

Five books you'll never part with:

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
November Road by Lou Berney
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Devotions by Mary Oliver
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. 

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

The first time I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, I was in my 20s. I wish I could read it for the first time now in my 40s, because it's a book that requires a reader's experience, regret, and the perspective of age to truly appreciate it.

Book Review

Review: The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading

The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading about Eating, and Eating While Reading by Dwight Garner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780374603427, October 24, 2023)

With the high-spirited charmer The Upstairs Delicatessen: On Eating, Reading, Reading About Eating, and Eating While Reading, book critic Dwight Garner merges two loves of his life, although the union didn't require much of a mental leap. As he puts it, "Reading and eating, like Krazy and Ignatz, Sturm und Drang, prosciutto and melon, Simon and Schuster, and radishes and butter, have always, for me, simply gone together."

The narrative is a rambunctious ramble across food touchstones from literature, writers' lives, and Garner's own experience. Shaped by his 1970s childhood in the South, Garner's tastes run toward the proudly unconventional and resolutely fuss-free (e.g., he's "on the record as being perhaps America's most ardent consumer of the peanut butter and pickle sandwich"). Chapters are organized by each of the three daily meals, plus there's a chapter dedicated to shopping and another to alcoholic drinks. Readers should be forewarned not to look for anything on dinner's last course: "I don't have a sweet tooth, so no dessert," the author explains in an expectations-defying hit-and-run.

Garner doesn't need to tell readers that he has kept "a sentry lookout for the food in literature" for what seems to have been the entirety of his reading life. Throughout The Upstairs Delicatessen, he provides a running commentary on writers' food fancies, as well as those of their characters. Garner crowns Émile Zola's The Belly of Paris "Western literature's great groceries novel." He paraphrases George Orwell's philosophy on tea, and reproduces a paragraph on soft-boiled egg-making in Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon. He states that "Updike was a pickle guy," whereas Barbara Kingsolver was probably no egg salad woman: Garner approvingly offers the line "Hell is other people, with egg salad" from her novel Unsheltered.

Garner hops from one fun fact or anecdote to the next with the agility of a seasoned server replacing one dish with another without the customer's detection. He has already proved himself to be the great aggregator with Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements and Garner's Quotations: A Modern Miscellany; but in The Upstairs Delicatessen, Garner becomes a character appealing enough to rival those conceived by the writers he references. "This is a message that a meal always imparts: Life, for now, will go on," he insists at one point--a mollifying distillation that is an argument for both eating well and reading The Upstairs Delicatessen. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This high-spirited charmer is a rambunctious ramble across food touchstones from literature, writers' lives, and the author's own experience.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Books Across America--50 States, Books, Authors & Indies in 50 Days

Mason Engel

Two years ago, I asked a question: "Have you heard the story about the filmmaker and self-published author who went on a cross-country road trip to introduce himself and his new sci-fi novel to independent bookstores, even though the book had been published through Amazon's Createspace service? Spoiler alert: This story has a surprise happy ending."

Over the course of two summers--in 2019 and pandemic-wracked 2020--Mason Engel lived out of his car and interviewed dozens of indie booksellers around the country, asking a simple-yet-complex question: "Why should we shop indie?" Despite the many challenges involved in this quest, the trips were ultimately both life- and mind-altering for the filmmaker. 

The Bookstour has played at several national book festivals and on public TV. Engel's follow-up docushort, Story Road, in which several authors share their origin stories, premiered on public television this summer. 

The filmmaker's latest project is an upcoming, feature-length documentary, Books Across America. This treatise on why we tell stories chronicles a new adventure, during which Engel traveled to 50 states, read 50 books, and interviewed 50 authors, all in 50 days. After finishing each book, he would talk with the writer at their favorite local bookstore. Featured authors include James Patterson (Fla.), Joyce Carol Oates (N.J.), David Baldacci (Va.), Ross Gay (Mich.), Ann Patchett (Tenn.), Tayari Jones (Ga.), Leigh Bardugo (Calif.), Walter Mosley (N.Y.), James Lee Burke (Mont.), and Brandon Sanderson (Utah).

Engel outside Prairie Lights, Iowa City, Iowa

Noting that Books Across America "is about the journeys we take, the stories we tell ourselves, and the questions we might not ask," Engel chose to ask the big questions anyway: What is a Great American Novel? Why do books matter? Why do we read?

A Kickstarter campaign is currently underway for Books Across America, with an August 15 deadline. The reward tiers include some specifically for bookstores. For $250, a store can host a virtual screening, and for $500 an in-person screening. Engel will attend virtually for the virtual screening and live for the in-person screening. He said he plans to do as many screenings as possible: "In the name of accessibility, I won't be charging for these screenings. Of course, I won't be able to go everywhere. So while bookstores don't have to buy one of these tiers to get access to the film, they can reserve their place in line."

In a recent interview, Engel, who has been working in Los Angeles for the past couple of years, said he suspects a producer hearing him pitch a film that would require 50 different locations might have immediately cited the expense and complications involved as reasons not to pursue it. 

But such a producer wouldn't be accounting for what he calls the indie bookstore effect. "As has been the case for my first two films, Books Across America would not have been possible without the support of indies," Engel said. "All 50 author interviews, apart from a handful filmed in libraries and the authors' homes, were shot in bookstores. Coordinating these locations, normally a huge and expensive hurdle in film, was a cinch (special shoutout to Mystery to Me Books in Madison, Wis., for picking up my frantic phone call on Day 14 and giving us a filming location on three hours notice). 

"The managers of bookstores across the country heard me describe the premise of the film, the mission behind the film, and our nonexistent budget, and they opened their doors to us. No difficulties. No location fees. Oftentimes we would leave the bookstore with free T-shirts or ARCs or some other gift, and we would travel to our next store. We wouldn't have finished the trip--indeed, wouldn't have been able to start the trip--without the support of the bookstore community."

Filming locations included Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.; Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.; and Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif. 

James Lee Burke

"I know these places for the book-world capitals they are, but my crew didn't," Engel recalled. "Sometimes I would pause during an interview set up and try to drive this point home. 'You have to have heard about Square Books [Oxford, Miss.]. It's like the bookstore Mecca of the South.' Or 'You know Faulkner actually lived in that house, right?' They were always impressed by these statements, but mostly they were impressed by the stores themselves, not because of commercial or historic significance, but because of the small things, the reasons anyone loves a bookstore. The staircase outside Francie & Finch in Lincoln, Neb. The postcards and ephemera in Fargo, N.Dak.'s Zandbroz. The bookstore dog in Black Garnet [St. Paul, Minn.]. The list goes on. So, of course, I got to extend my love affair with indie bookstores. But I also got to watch my crew fall in love with bookstores, and that was just as special."

Engel also observed that it was more common for him to be surprised by the authors he spoke with than for his expectations to be spot-on: "I was consistently struck by how little I knew a person after reading a book they'd written. But that was on the surface. The longer these conversations with the authors went on, the more hints of their book I would hear in their speech. I suppose if I had read their book after our conversation, I would have been struck by the inverse and claimed to hear echoes of the author in their work. Whatever the case, I found myself thinking about the ability of books to expose the writer and open up the reader. These two functions build a sturdy bridge between authors and their fans, and I was delighted to walk over 50 such bridges on the road."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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