Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 21, 2023

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Tor Books: The Daughters' War (Blacktongue) by Christopher Buehlman


Simon & Schuster Responds to Book Bannings with Books Belong Program

In conjunction with Banned Books Week (October 1-7), Simon & Schuster is launching Books Belong, a program that will highlight the merits of books that have been banned or challenged and provide tools and resources to "preserve and strengthen our right to read."

The Books Belong website hosts reading group guides and videos, book lists, giveaways, exclusive author and expert content, links to organizations such as Unite Against Book Bans, PEN America, and the National Coalition Against Censorship, and features the 1953 Freedom to Read Statement. Supporters of the right to read will find resources for them to take action when faced with a challenge in their community, as well as guidance on how to incorporate banned and challenged books into classroom, library, and family reading time. In addition, the program will be supported by social media promotion, consumer and B2B e-mails, and integration in Simon & Schuster's corporate and title advertising and marketing.

Michelle Leo, v-p, education & library marketing, at S&S, said, "Books Belong everywhere: whether fiction or nonfiction, books help us to see ourselves and others in the world. They must be available to everyone so that readers may connect to the stories that speak to them, to learn more deeply about themselves, and about other people and cultures. Books Belong will support readers and communities in the fight against book bans by sharing knowledge and resources that will enable them to make informed decisions about the books they choose to read."

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Roswell Johnson Saves the World! (Roswell Johnson #1) by Chris Colfer

Tucson's Barrio Books Moving, Expanding

Barrio Books, which has been located inside Hotel McCoy in Tucson, Ariz., since opening in 2021, is moving to new and larger space at West 33rd St. and South 10th Ave. in South Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The shop's last day in its current location is September 24. 

"The reason that we're moving is because our vision was to create Barrio Books as well as a cultural center," said owner Syrena Arevalo. "With the new move, we'll have a lot more space to hold author readings, family reads and things like that. And we'll have workshops, classes, all kinds of great stuff."

She hopes to open the new location by November, but that date could be pushed back as far as January, depending on how the renovations go. The Daily Star noted that some of the updates "include new bookshelves, plus seating and stage areas for author readings and small concerts. The new space is roughly 10 times bigger than the current space at Hotel McCoy."

"We'll have space for any kind of, like, musical rehearsals, too. If a mariachi group needs a space to practice, they're more than welcome to practice there," Arevalo said. "Anything that the community might need."

Observing that the move to South Tucson is meant to help alleviate the area's "literary desert," she added: "There's not a lot of books. There are no bookstores and there's also one very small public library. So that's kind of the reason why we wanted to stay either in the south side or in South Tucson, somewhere where there's not a lot of places people are able to get books or find representation of themselves."

Although she is "nervous, excited, and fearful" regarding the move, Arevalo said she has "complete faith in the community that this is something that they want and what they need.... This is your community bookstore. It's a reflection of our community and our community is so diverse. And there's a lot of stories that need to be shown. And I think this is perfect for the Latino community and also the BIPOC community."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Buster's Bookhouse Debuting in Lakeville, Mass., This Week

Buster's Bookhouse, a mobile bookstore built out of a 1975 Shasta Starflyte camper trailer, will make its debut in Lakeville, Mass., on Saturday, September 23, the Herald News reported.

Owner Libby Reilly will hold her first pop-up at the Cornerstone Community Church Fall Festival on the 23rd, followed by a stop at the South Coast Open Air Market in Somerset, Mass., the next week. Reilly is based in Somerset and after the initial appearances, she plans to take the mobile bookshop to coffee shops, breweries, restaurants, and other locations around the South Coast, curating the inventory for each visit.

Reilly launched Buster's in 2022, selling books via; her husband, Shane Reilly, did much of the remodeling work on the trailer. Reilly is also running a fall book club, and a few weeks ago she held the club's first meeting at the Pink Bean coffee shop in Somerset. Participants signed up by pre-ordering the book from Buster's, which included a gift as well as a coupon to the Pink Bean. The meeting featured discussions, giveaways, and raffles, and another meeting is planned for October.

Reilly told the Herald that the response to Buster's has been "really humbling and inspiring." She continued: "It's so cool when you have this dream and this vision and this crazy idea of what could be and then see it come together and happen and literally grow in front of my eyes as far as the trailer itself."

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

International Update: Abbosh Named Pearson CEO, Bird Retiring; Dubray Books Takes over Dublin's Gutter Bookshop

Omar Abbosh

Pearson has appointed Omar Abbosh as CEO and executive director, effective early 2024. He will succeed Andy Bird, who is retiring. Abbosh is currently president of Microsoft's Industry Solutions. Prior to Microsoft, he spent three decades at Accenture in numerous senior leadership roles, including CSO and ultimately as chief executive of the global communications, technology and media business. He is also a member of the board of Zuora Inc.

"On behalf of the board and the Pearson team, I would like to thank Andy for his outstanding leadership over the last three years," said Pearson chair Omid Kordestani. "Andy has implemented an ambitious vision and strategy for the company and has successfully transitioned Pearson into a consumer-focused business, orientated around lifelong learning. He has driven substantial cultural and organizational change and delivered consistently strong financial performance. With Pearson on firm foundations and with a trajectory for growth, Andy feels now is the right time to hand the reins to a successor."

Kordestani called Abbosh "an inspirational, dynamic and growth orientated leader with deep commercial, technology and operational expertise focused on delivering high quality services and products across diverse markets and customer sets. He has extensive experience in creating and executing strategies to enable companies to harness technology and succeed in a world of disruptive change. He shares our values and our ambition and has a strong track record of execution."

Abbosh commented: "I am honored to have been appointed as the next chief executive of Pearson. The company is at an exciting stage of its growth journey in markets that are increasingly digital. I look forward to building on the strategic growth opportunities, along with the leadership team, placing Pearson in the vanguard of lifelong learning. Education and learning are fundamental to help people progress through their lives and I am thrilled to work with our customers and partners to build on Pearson's heritage and deliver on the next chapter for all our stakeholders. This is a truly vital mission."

Bird said: "It has been an enormous privilege to lead Pearson through a period of significant change over the last three years. The business is now firmly established as a digital-first learning company, with technology driving significant growth.... We are well positioned for future growth with a clear vision and a strong management team to deliver it. I am confident that Omar has the right skillset and experience to take Pearson forward."


Irish bookseller Dubray Books has assumed management of the Gutter Bookshop in Dublin after the shop's founder, Bob Johnston, announced he was stepping down from running the business after 14 years, the Bookseller reported. The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin's Temple Bar was established in 2009, and opened a second bookshop in Dalkey in 2013. At the 2017 British Book Awards, the Gutter Bookshop was awarded Independent Bookshop of the Year for U.K. & Ireland.

Both bookshops will continue doing business as the Gutter Bookshop. Marta Starosta, the current online and festivals manager, will be the overall manager.

"As book trade colleagues we have always had great respect for and a fond relationship with the Gutter team," said Dubray Books managing director Maria Dickenson. "Dubray and the Gutter share a love of books as well as a genuine commitment to building relationships with customers, authors and the trade, and we are immensely proud to have the opportunity to support this fantastic business."

Johnston added: "As Irish booksellers with many years of experience, I am certain that Dubray will continue to run our bookshops in a customer-focused style--which is all I could ever hope for. I really want to thank everyone--loyal customers, authors, publishers, festivals, friends, family, our amazing staff and everyone else--who have made the Gutter Bookshop such a huge success over the past 14 years." --Robert Gray

Binc Has Raised $1 Million Working with Humble Bundle, E-book Publishers

In less than six years, Humble Bundle and 17 publishers have worked with the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to raise more than $1 million to support the people who own and work at book and comic stores across the country. Binc noted that $1 million translates to nearly 500 emergency financial assistance grants to stabilize households, independent stores, and the communities they reside in. 

Humble Bundle's mission is to support charity while providing content to customers. Humble Bundles are limited-time collections of games, e-books, software, and more. Consumers pay what they want and choose where their money goes. 

In 2018, Chronicle Books was the first publisher to designate the Binc Foundation as its charity of choice for a Humble Book Bundle. The proceeds from sales of the first two e-book bundles resulted in a donation of $72,941 to Binc. Check out the complete list of publishers who have supported books and comic sellers through Humble Bundle here.

"Working with Humble Bundle to sell discounted backlist e-books in our Summer of Adventure promotion proved to be a successful way to reach new customers while supporting our favorite industry charity," said Meredith Hutchins, director of sales at AdventureKEEN. "In just two weeks, AdventureKEEN generated $6,000 for Binc. It is gratifying to know that the promotion's proceeds directly helped independent booksellers across the country through Binc." 

Alvin Lu, CEO of Kodansha USA, added: "Over the course of our relationship with Binc, which began in the thick of the pandemic, we have been thoroughly impressed with their attention to the shops and individuals they serve. We are very happy to work with an integral player who supports the vital heart of the book and comic industry." 

Binc executive director Pam French commented: "We are grateful that these publishers chose to help book and comic sellers in their choice of charity, and we encourage more publishers to partner with Humble Bundle and 'Think Binc' when selecting their charity of choice. It's a win all around: Binc receives support, e-book readers get great value, and publishers gain exposure to new customers--more than 12 million around the globe."


Image of the Day: Authors Over Easy Breakfast at PNBA

Five authors presented their upcoming books at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Tradeshow Authors Over Easy breakfast yesterday. During her remarks, Bay Area-based author Rachel Khong expressed her admiration for the Pacific Northwest landscape and weather, noting, "It's a really good climate for reading."

Pictured: (l.-r.) Garth Stein (The Cloven: Book Two, Fantagraphics); Rachel Khong (Real Americans, Knopf); Maeve DuVally (Maeve Rising: Coming Out Trans in Corporate America, Sibyline Press​); Laurie Frankel (Family Family, Holt); not pictured: Don Winslow (City in Ruins, Morrow)

Dessa's Publication Day Theme Song for John Scalzi's Starter Villain

Tuesday was publication day for John Scalzi's latest novel, Starter Villain (Tor Books). As part of the celebration, Scalzi, who occasionally commissions theme songs for his books from musicians he likes, asked rapper, singer, songwriter, and author Dessa "to do a song for the book, and, oh boy, did she deliver." Check out the song and lyrics here.

"Happiest of Pub Dayz to @scalzi--his new novel STARTER VILLAIN is on shelves in the U.S now," Dessa posted. "I had the chance to read it a bit early (flexxx) and was even invited to pen a little song on the occasion of its release."

Scalzi responded "It's soooooo good y'all Dessa is the best."

Personnel Changes at Seven Seas Entertainment

At Seven Seas Entertainment:

Sales & marketing manager Lianne Sentar has been promoted to publisher.

Publisher Jason DeAngelis has been named president and CEO.

Associate publisher Adam Arnold has been named v-p and chief operating officer.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Leslie Jones on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Leslie Jones, author of Leslie F*cking Jones (Grand Central, $30, 9781538706497).

Good Morning America: Angie Kim, author Happiness Falls: A Novel (Hogarth, $28, 9780593448205).

Also on GMA: Aarti Sequeira, author of Unwind: A Devotional Cookbook for the Harried and Hungry (DaySpring, $24.99, 9781648707971).

CBS Mornings: Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Memory Thieves (Holt, $17.99, 9781250174970).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Mississippi Book Festival

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

Saturday, September 23
4:30 p.m. Rita Roberts, author of I Can't Wait to Call You My Wife: African American Letters of Love, Marriage, and Family in the Civil War Era (‎Chronicle, $35, 9781797213729).

5:20 p.m. James Risen and Thomas Risen, authors of The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys--and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy (Little, Brown, $32, 9780316565134).

Sunday, September 24
8 a.m. Walter Isaacson, author of Elon Musk (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982181284). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Ben Carson, co-author of Created Equal: The Painful Past, Confusing Present, and Hopeful Future of Race in America (Center Street, $29, 9781546002642). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

10 a.m. Meg Kissinger, author of While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence (Celadon, $30, 9781250793775). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coverage of the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, Miss. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. A discussion on nature and the environment with Dean King, Patrick Dean, Rien Fertel, and Jack E. Davis.
  • 3 p.m. A discussion on the future of American democracy with Jonathan Martin, Ben Terris, and Joey Garrison.
  • 4 p.m. Jeff Shaara, author of The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250279941).
  • 4:50 p.m. A discussion on biographies with Maryemma Graham, Wayne Flint, and Virginia Butler.
  • 5:45 p.m. A discussion on America at war with Heather Stur, Chris Wimmer, Peter Cozzens, and E.R. Lutken.

7 p.m. Meir Y. Soloveichik, author of Providence and Power: Ten Portraits in Jewish Statesmanship (Encounter,‎ $29.99, 9781641773287).

Books & Authors

Awards: Academy of American Poets Winners

The Academy of American Poets announced the 2023 winners of its annual poetry prizes. This year's recipients are:

Afaa Michael Weaver won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, which recognizes "outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry." Academy chancellor Kwame Dawes said, "For over three decades, Afaa Michael Weaver has quietly and without fanfare put together a tremendous body of work that has allowed us to see the America of the last half century in all its upheavals and transformations as it contends with the meaning of freedom and justice. He combines his rootedness in the African American poetic with a fierce commitment to the idea of belonging despite America's long history of willfully deferring the dream of liberty, to, in effect, compel the nation to expand its understanding of itself and to embrace a more capacious sense of its constitution. And in so doing, Weaver has achieved something that only a few poets, most notably Joseph Millard and Philip Levine, have in the last few decades, which is to engage the idea of a working-class sensibility, not as a limitation, but as an opportunity to create art of depth, sophistication, and spiritual power. Afaa Michael Weaver is a major and necessary American voice."

Bluest Nude by Ama Codjoe (Milkweed Press) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, awarded to "the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year."

Watchnight by Cyrée Jarelle Johnson (Nightboat Books, 2024) won the $5,000 James Laughlin Award, given to "recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year."

Ojo en Celo/Eye in Heat by Margarita Pintado Burgos, translated by Alejandra Quintana Arocho, won the Ambroggio Prize for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winners receive $1,000 and publication by the University of Arizona Press. 

Stephanie McCarter's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (Penguin Classics) won the $1,000 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award, which recognizes a "published translation of poetry from any language into English that demonstrates literary excellence."

Moira Egan's translation of Letters of Black Fire by Italian poet Giorgiomaria Cornelio won the $25,000 Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize for "the outstanding translation into English of a significant work of modern Italian poetry."

Major Jackson received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes "distinguished poetic achievement," and includes a $25,000 stipend as well as a residency at the Eliot House in Gloucester, Mass. 

Edgar Morales won the $1,000 Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing Tuesday, September 26:

The Armor of Light: A Novel by Ken Follett (Viking, $38, 9780525954996) is book five in the Kingsbridge historical fiction series.

The Fragile Threads of Power by V.E. Schwab (Tor, $29.99, 9780765387493) begins a new fantasy series.

The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty by Michael Wolff (Holt, $29.99, 9781250879271) tracks the failures of Fox's owners.

Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America by Heather Cox Richardson (Viking, $30, 9780593652961) explores the attack on American democracy by wealthy autocrats.

Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig (Del Rey, $29.99, 9780593158746) takes place in a small town where trees start bearing magical apples.

Bright Lights, Big Christmas: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, $24, 9781250285812) follows a woman selling Christmas trees in New York City.

Thicker than Water: A Memoir by Kerry Washington (Little, Brown Spark, $30, 9780316497398) is the memoir of the actress.

Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong (S&S/McElderry, $21.99, 9781665905619) is the second book in the YA Foul Lady Fortune series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods by Rick Riordan (Disney Hyperion, $19.99, 9781368098175) is the sixth Percy Jackson novel and a stand-alone that reunites all the original characters.

The Christmas Orphans Club: A Novel by Becca Freeman (Penguin Books, $17, 9780143138037).

Wear It Well: Reclaim Your Closet and Rediscover the Joy of Getting Dressed by Allison Bornstein (Chronicle Prism, $25.95, 9781797221427).

The Wake-Up Call by Beth O'Leary (Berkley, $17, 9780593640128).

The Golem of Brooklyn: A Novel by Adam Mansbach (One World, $18, 9780593729823).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

The Square of Sevens: A Novel by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Atria, $29.99, 9781668031124). "Come for the orphaned, Dickensian fortune teller in 18th-century Cornwall and stay for a sweeping epic of Georgian high society, mystery, and divination. Deeply researched and intricate, this is outstanding historical fiction." --Debra Ginsberg, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Del Mar, Calif.

Everything/Nothing/Someone: A Memoir by Alice Carrière (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9781954118294). "Everything/Nothing/Someone depicts the non-linear trajectory of mental health, relationships, and memory. Carrière intimately unravels the personal to convey the journey of getting better, even when it doesn't feel like an option." --Jesse Bartel, BookHampton, East Hampton, N.Y.

Knockout: A Hell's Belles Novel by Sarah MacLean (Avon, $9.99, 9780063056794). "Imogen, Tommy--that's it, that's the perfect romance. The chemistry between these two leaps off the page! I loved the stakes in this story. Just when you thought this series couldn't get any better, Sarah MacLean knocks it out of the park." --Destinee Hodge, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

For Ages 0 to 8
Seals Are Jerks! by Jared Chapman (Orchard Books, $18.99, 9781338835687). "Jared Chapman's latest is complete with humor, empathy, and lots of Antarctica facts. Our narrator gets a first-person--er, penguin--account of the relationship between seals and penguins, and learns the hard truth about food chains." --Summer Laurie, Books Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

For Ages 10+
Two Tribes by Emily Bowen Cohen (Heartdrum, $15.99, 9780062983589). "Mia's feeling of not fitting in is intensified by her descent from not one, but two marginalized communities. Her journey into her Muscogee heritage means taking risks and learning from her mistakes. A brilliant coming-of-age story." --Keith Glaeske, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.

For Teen Readers
There's No Way I'd Die First by Lisa Springer (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780593643174). "Noelle Layne is certain she'd be the Final Girl in any slasher scenario. She's put to the test when a killer clown at a Halloween party turns out to be the real deal. It will take all of Noelle's know-how to survive and keep her friends alive." --Charlie Williams, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Future

The Future by Naomi Alderman (Simon & Schuster, $28.99 hardcover, 432p., 9781668025680, November 7, 2023)

No one does the end of the world as humanity knows it like Naomi Alderman (The Power). Billionaires, AI, and apocalypse cults all receive interrogation in The Future, her mind-twisting novel of how the world ends, and how far someone might go to save it.

In the near future, three billionaire tech execs board a plane after receiving an exclusive notification that societal collapse is imminent. They will escape with their families to lavish private bunkers while the rest of the world metaphorically burns.

Celebrity survivalist content creator Lai Zhen is unsuccessfully fleeing a gun-wielding assailant at a Singapore mall when a mysterious software named AUGR activates on her phone. The program's instructions save her life but Zhen is left with questions about who created it, how it got onto her phone, and who wanted her dead badly enough to send an assassin after her. She goes on the run, but even with help, staying a step ahead is tricky when the pursuer is unknown. Zhen has to wonder if her situation has to do with her elusive former lover Martha Einkorn.

Martha escaped at a young age from an apocalypse cult controlled by her father and used her unconventional skillset to become the personal assistant to a billionaire social media mogul. Her exposure to an elite class bent on controlling the future shows her that if her father's methods were wrong, his warnings were not. As the world frays at its seams, Martha and a trusted handful of collaborators hatch a plan that may save it, or take them and Zhen down with it.

Alderman embeds ethical debates about data mining, AI, and wealth into the plot structure of a thriller for a smart, thought-provoking read with the feel of an action blockbuster. Adrenaline-soaked fight and chase scenes rub shoulders with Internet forum digressions on what the book of Genesis has to say about how to survive the world. Zhen and Martha's mysterious and complicated romance adds an element of tenderness and a more personal level of suspense. The narrative centers queer and BIPOC characters, and Alderman resists the temptation to make her billionaire characters one-dimensional villains, instead rendering them as fully realized and deeply flawed. "We are all falling, all the time, from the half-understood past to the unknowable future," the narrator says. Alderman presents readers with a future that feels terrifying, inevitable, and ultimately within humanity's power to grasp and correct. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Naomi Alderman's smart, pulse-pounding technothriller asks how the world ends, and how far someone might go to save it.

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