Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 28, 2023

Simon & Schuster: Launch a Reading Star With Ready to Read Campaign

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

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

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings


Charlotte's Urban Reader Bookstore Reopens as Bookmobile

The Urban Reader Bookstore, a Black-owned bookshop in Charlotte, N.C., that closed earlier this year, has reopened as a bookmobile "with what its owner hopes is a more sustainable business model, trading a shopping center for a steering wheel," WFAE reported. 

Owner Sonyah Spencer said the bookshop's physical location in Charlotte's University City neighborhood eventually became unfeasible, and was too costly to keep open: "Business owners need to adjust according to the economic times. For me, it wasn't financially right for the amount of rent I was paying at the brick-and-mortar location.... I was going red every month. It got to the point where the other business I do during the week, I was supplementing to keep the bookstore open."

When her 18-month lease ended in February, Spencer bought and renovated the bookmobile, which she noted is now accessible to different communities: "I get it. If I lived in Pineville, where I used to live, would I drive all the way to the university to go to a bookstore? No, I wouldn't. So, I said, you know what, 'let me go to the people, so the people don't have to go to me.' "

The bookmobile sells a range of books, including African American titles, children's literature, and a section for LGBTQ+ and Hispanics. Spencer is aware that many of those topics are controversial now, as efforts to remove books that deal with race and sexuality from school libraries continue around the region, but she observed: "I pray for the librarians, the school districts, and the community libraries because their road to getting a book on the shelf is harder for them than it is for me."

Changing a business plan can be an opportunity instead of a risk, Spencer noted, adding that she now has to pay only for gas, parking, and the occasional oil change.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Dream Palace Books & Coffee Planned for Indianapolis, Ind.

Dream Palace Books & Coffee, offering both used books and new titles from small presses, is opening next month at 111 E. 16th St. in Indianapolis, Ind., the Indianapolis Star reported. Owner Taylor Lewandowski said opening an independent bookstore has been a long-held dream: "I really want it to be a place you can talk about books or life or anything. Just show up." 

The bookstore's website describes the business as being "devoted to expanding the literary scene in Indianapolis. It is our goal to create a space, informed by the historic presence of Indianapolis' Near Northside, that engenders creativity, dialogue, and lasting relationships. We are passionate about literature and coffee. We are enthused to create a larger, unified community around a diverse selection of books."

Last month, Lewandowski told WISH8 that Dream Palace plans to host readings from local and national writers and will have a focus on the LGBTQ+ community. "I think it adds to the idea of mirroring the culture around me--who I am and what I want this space to be," he said. "I think being able to access books that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to find is really important to me, especially because some of them are just so good."

He added: "It's a space that isn't what you will find in Indianapolis. It's very open, very bright, sort of modern. I really want it to be like you step into this space and not only is it you're maybe being rooted in Indianapolis, but it's also rooting you. It's connecting to maybe these larger cities some global ideas.... I really want it to be competitive in the way it feels as a bookstore. Walking in it as if you were walking into a bookstore in New York City. I want it to be comparable in that way."

In a recent Instagram post, Lewandowski wrote: "The resurgence of bookstores in Indianapolis is such an important, vital forecasting of the future. I'm so grateful to be a part of this and contribute to a city I've lived in for most of my life. The most sacred place is the bookstore (and, I'd also argue, the public library). This is where one can browse and most importantly find material, which represents and connects them to a wider world. It's this connection that makes us more human, which aligns with the already massive history of the bookstore and publication, and the greater recognition of providing more opportunities to think outside our confines. It will be interesting to see how this new network of bookstores in Indianapolis works. Personally, I'm so thrilled to continue building something different, possibly even contrary, to what was before."

Florida Bookstore for Sale: Email

Serenity Book Shop Opens in Grandview Heights, Ohio

Serenity Book Shop opened last month at 1806 W. 5th Ave., Grandview Heights, Ohio. NBC4 reported that owner Shanna Tiggs picked the location on the border of the Fifth by Northwest neighborhood and Grandview Heights to allow space for the variety of attractions. 

Shanna Tiggs

"It had everything I was looking for when I planned out the details of the bookstore," she said. "I knew I wanted a small kitchen and bar area because we would be selling coffee, tea, and wine. I knew I wanted a stage for our live music and other events, two bathrooms, and I wanted it to be located in a community and business area with a lot of foot traffic."

Tiggs, who had been planning to open a bookstore for several years, noted that while she personally prefers history or mystery books, the shop has a wide offering of titles in multiple genres. In addition to books, the shop features a variety of sidelines, including T-shirts, bookmarks, small plants and metaphysical items like candles, incense, crystals, sage, and more.

She has a theory about why physical books continue to be preferred by readers. "Many readers grew up with physical books and have an emotional attachment to them," she said. "Many like to enjoy the tactile experience of holding a physical book, flipping through its pages, and even the smell of printed paper." That said, Tiggs plans to add tech-based options to the shop's offerings, noting: "We're also in the process of offering e-books and audiobooks through Libro. That option will be available on our website within a week."

Recently Serenity Book Shop posted on Facebook: "Thank you everyone for a successful first month in business! We couldn't have done it without all your support. We are thrilled to still meet many of you and are excited to continue growing and serving our customers and community in the months to come!"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

International Update: BA's Bookshop Day Line-up; Rushdie to Speak at Frankfurt Book Fair

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has revealed additional plans for Bookshop Day, the annual celebration of bookshops, to be celebrated on October 14. "From fun events including draw-along sessions to special audiobook offers, to author events with Linton Kwesi Johnson, Geri Halliwell, Miriam Margolyes, Robin Stevens, Richard Armitage, Tom Fletcher, Peter Clark, Zehra Hicks and many more, Bookshop Day is the perfect opportunity to connect with your high street bookseller. Visit your local bookshop to get brilliant book recommendations, to start your Christmas shopping at the biggest time of the year for new book releases, and for a celebration of bookshops and their role in 'bringing people together' in their local communities," the BA noted. 

Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the BA, commented: "It's wonderful to see such a full line-up for this year's Bookshop Day. We're looking forward to celebrating on Saturday, October 14, and can't wait to see the buzz around the country. Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of brilliant booksellers, Bookshop Day is the perfect opportunity to get personalized recommendations from booksellers, the experts in the field, and start your Christmas shopping early, bagging one (or two!) new releases at the time when the biggest books of the year are published."

Illustrator Poonam Mistry is this year's designer of the Books Are My Bag limited-edition bag, which will be available exclusively in bookshops from Bookshop Day onward, while stocks last. Bookshop Day will spotlight Manchester and its bookshops. The BA will also be releasing a video featuring a range of authors, including household names and debut writers, to be shared on Books Are My Bag social media channels October 11. 


Salman Rushdie
(photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Salman Rushdie will appear in person on Saturday, October 21, at the Literature Gala, held during the Frankfurt Book Fair. The author will talk about his novel Victory City, in a rare public appearance since the vicious attack he suffered in August 2022. The following day, Rushdie will be awarded this year's Peace Prize from the German Book Trade. 

"Frankfurter Buchmesse is one of the most important cultural forums in the Western world," Rushdie said in a recent interview with the fair. "Its influence lies precisely in the free exchange of ideas, through books, between many cultures. Such exchanges are vital to social transformation, and to democracy."

Fair director Juergen Boos added: "I was moved that Salman Rushdie is not missing the opportunity to meet the audience in Frankfurt in person, in addition to attending the award ceremony for the Peace Prize. It is a great honor for me to welcome Salman Rushdie once again to the Frankfurter Buchmesse."


BookCanada's 5 Questions series featured Mika Weaver, owner of Singing Pebble Books in Ottawa, Ont. Among the highlights of the q&a: 

What attracted you to bookselling?
My father was a massive bibliophile. Growing up, every gift was a book and quality time was spent browsing in bookstores. When he passed, he left a collection of 40,000 titles, of which I have a few. I am less of a collector and more passionate about getting the right book into the hands of the right person. I like to keep the movement of books flowing which is part of the reason that we have expanded into used books in the last few years.

Books: what's not to love. They never go bad. They are one size fits all. Even a bad book can teach you something. Reading is good for you, it increases empathy and/or helps you fall asleep. I grew up working in health food stores and books are the material version of health food for the mind. --Robert Gray

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Obituary Note: Jeremy Silman

International chess master Jeremy Silman, "whose books were popular with players looking to improve their game," died September 21, the New York Times reported. He was 69. Silman wrote more than a dozen books, several of which he revised and updated multiple times. He also co-wrote a half-dozen more.

In 1990, Gwen Feldman, his wife, founded Silman-James Press, which publishes some of his bestselling books, with James Fox. She said that to date, Silman's The Complete Book of Chess Strategy (2004) has sold more than 170,000 copies; The Amateur's Mind, 2nd Edition (2000) more than 90,000; Silman's Complete Endgame Course (2007) more than 87,000; and How to Reassess Your Chess, 4th Edition (2011) more than 73,000. The first edition of How to Reassess Your Chess was published in 1986, and total sales of the first three editions were about 85,000. Feldman added that Silman's books have sold more than a half-million copies in the U.S.,and several of his most popular titles have been translated into French and German.

Silman's works "have been sought out both for his writing style, which is conversational and colloquial, and for his practical advice on how to cut down on errors in thinking and planning--the most difficult part of the game to master," the Times noted. 

The writer was a celebrity in the chess world. During tournaments in Los Angeles, near where he lived, Silman would often be invited to give lectures that were "standing room only," said Dr. Anthony Saidy, a friend who, like Silman, is an international master. "He became a pillar of the chess-teaching world."

Silman also had "a robust social life in the 1970s and early '80s, suffused with episodes of drugs and sex," the Times wrote. In 2013, he published Autobiography of a Goat, a fantasy book set in San Francisco that drew liberally from his own experiences.


Image of the Day: Politics & Prose's Percy Preorder Party

Last Friday, Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., hosted a pre-order party for Percy Jackson and the Chalice of the Gods (Hyperion). The event featured trivia, crafts, and a photo booth. On Tuesday, Wendy Wasserman, the store's marketing director, reported, "Our staff had a great time hamming it up, the kids loved it, and we brought in 30 preorders! It's been a busy pub day here as the books are getting picked up by all those happy readers."

Target's 2023 Book of the Year: The First Ladies

Target has chosen The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (Berkley) as its 2023 Book of the Year. The retailer will have an exclusive print edition and feature it prominently in stores and ads. Target will also donate 400 copies of the book to Little Free Library locations across the country.

The First Ladies is a fictionalized look at the real-life friendship between civil rights advocate Mary McLeod Bethune and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, spotlighting the ways their work, together and solo, influenced the course of history. Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray are also the authors of The Personal Librarian, about Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, who was secretly Black and passing for white.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kashmir Hill on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Kashmir Hill, author of Your Face Belongs to Us: A Secretive Startup's Quest to End Privacy as We Know It (Random House, $28.99, 9780593448564).

Good Morning America: Sissy Goff, author of The Worry-Free Parent: Living in Confidence So Your Kids Can Too (Bethany House, $17.99, 9780764241024).

CBS Mornings: Heather Cox Richardson, author of Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America (Viking, $30, 9780593652961).

This Weekend on Book TV: Live In-Depth with Douglas Rushkoff

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 30
6:55 p.m. Rachel L. Swarns, author of The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church (Random House, $28, 9780399590863), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:55 a.m.)

Sunday, October 1
8 a.m. Miles Taylor, author of Blowback: A Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump (Atria, $30, 9781668015988). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:25 a.m. Andrew Koppelman, author of Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250280138). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:25 p.m.)

10 a.m. Adam Nagourney, author of The Times: How the Newspaper of Record Survived Scandal, Scorn, and the Transformation of Journalism (Crown, $35, 9780451499363). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

11 a.m. Jeff Benedict, author of LeBron (Avid Reader Press, $32, 9781982110895). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Douglas Rushkoff, author of Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires (W.W. Norton, $17.95, 9781324066064).

4 p.m. Matthew Pratt Guterl, author of Skinfolk: A Memoir (Liveright, $30, ‎ 9781324091714).

5:05 p.m. Julia Lee, author of Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America (Holt, $26.99, 9781250824677).

6:20 p.m. Fred Guttenberg and Thomas Gabor, authors of American Carnage: Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence (‎Mango, $19.99, 9781684812059).

Books & Authors

Awards: BIO Editorial Excellence Winner; B&N Discover Prize Finalists

Michael Korda is receiving the 2023 Editorial Excellence Award from Biographers International Organization. The award honors "an editor for outstanding work in the service of biography and literature." Korda will receive the award in New York on November 1.

BIO noted that Korda was "an editor and later editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster for nearly five decades. Among the more than 500 books he worked on, he edited all three of David McCullough's prize-winning biographies--of Harry Truman, John Adams, and the young Theodore Roosevelt--as well as autobiographies by Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Kirk Douglas, and Charles de Gaulle.

"He has written biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and T. E. Lawrence, as well as several works of history, including one about the Battle of Britain and one about Dunkirk. His book about the lives of the major soldier-poets of World War I, Muse of Fire, is being published [by Liveright] in February 2024. His several memoirs, including Another Life, reveal fascinating aspects of his life and the publishing world."


Barnes & Noble has chosen six finalists for its annual Discover Prize, representing the debut novels that most impressed B&N booksellers this year. The titles will be voted on by B&N booksellers in the coming weeks, and the winner announced on October 30 in New York City.

Lexie Smyth, category manager for fiction at B&N, commented: "The six titles selected for the shortlist are the result of many passionate, thoughtful conversations. These are exemplary books we cannot wait to get into the hands of readers."

Shannon DeVito, director of books at B&N, added: "Our bookstores have been the scene of many enthusiastic, and at times fiery, debates about this year's list... The excellence of the finalists is astounding; so astounding that I am confident these writers are destined to become household names."

The finalists:
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias
The East Indian by Brinda Charry
Open Throat by Henry Hoke
The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters
In Memoriam by Alice Winn

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 3:

The Oceans and the Stars by Mark Helprin (The Overlook Press, $30, 9781419769085) follows a Navy captain given a punitive assignment.

Brooklyn Crime Novel by Jonathan Lethem (Ecco, $30, 9780062938824) takes place in a Brooklyn neighborhood over the course of 50 years.

Second Act: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28.99, 9781984821959) follows a fired Hollywood executive who moves to rural England.

The Night House by Jo Nesbø, trans. by Neil Smith (Knopf, $28, 9780593537169) is a horror novel by the crime master.

Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon by Michael Lewis (W.W. Norton, $30, 9781324074335) profiles cryptocurrency scammer Sam Bankman-Fried.

Making It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart (Gallery, $35, 9781982167738) recounts the life of a legendary actor.

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, edited by Jordan Peele and John Joseph Adams (Random House, $30, 9780593243794) contains new horror stories from Black writers.

Lou Reed: The King of New York by Will Hermes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35, 9780374193393) is a biography of the musician.

Notebooks of a Wandering Monk by Matthieu Ricard, trans. by Jesse Browner (The MIT Press, $39.95, 9780262048293) is the memoir of the Buddhist monk.

When McKinsey Comes to Town: The Hidden Influence of the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm by Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe (Anchor, $18, 9780593081877).

The Encyclopedia of the Weird and Wonderful: Curious and Incredible Facts that Will Blow Your Mind by Milo Rossi (Wellfleet Press, $19.99, 9781577153412).

While Idaho Slept: The Hunt for Answers in the Murders of Four College Students by J. Reuben Appelman (Harper Paperbacks, $18.99, 9780063346697).

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:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Every Drop Is a Man's Nightmare: Stories by Megan Kamalei Kakimoto (Bloomsbury, $27.99, 9781639731169). "Overflowing with female sexuality and Hawaiian mythology, Every Drop Is a Man's Nightmare punches out one fearless story after the next. Kakimoto gives us a raw Hawai'i, one that exists far from the colonized romanticism often promoted." --Beth Shapiro, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

Terrace Story: A Novel by Hilary Leichter (Ecco, $28, 9780063265813). "This novel blew me away. Each successive story opens up the world a bit further, digs a bit deeper, much like the space-building theme at the collection's center. I loved these four fables and their exploration of endings and beginnings." --Santiago Nocera, Greedy Reads, Baltimore, Md.

Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan (Harper Voyager, $19.99, 9780063031371). "This was such a satisfying sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess. The pacing is fantastic and the story is unpredictably magical and exciting. I really loved the world building and appreciated the romance." --Hillary Smith, Black Walnut Books, Hudson Falls, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Flora's Wish by Fiona Halliday (Dial Books, $18.99, 9780593462454). "A tender story of friendship and grief wrapped in the changing seasons; where comfort comes from being sheltered from harsh winds and cold temperatures. Gorgeous illustrations shape Flora's journey of letting go, but never forgetting." --Amy Lane, Bards Alley, Vienna, Va.

For Ages 10+
Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell (Charlesbridge, $17.99, 9781623543808). "A nuanced examination of Native American imagery in mascots makes this novel in verse shine. Readers will find inspiration to stand up for what they feel is right, while also understanding that controversies are rarely black and white." --Robin Stern, Books Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

For Teen Readers
Tilly in Technicolor by Mazey Eddings (Wednesday Books, $24, 9781250847065). "Tilly in Technicolor is a love letter to neurodivergent readers. It's a disaster-cute, stuck-with-you romance that will melt your heart. Mazey Eddings' writing is hilarious, heartfelt, and guaranteed to make you laugh, cry, and swoon." --Becky Martone, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Diver

The Diver by Samsun Knight (University of Iowa Press, $19 paperback, 236p., 9781609389277, November 10, 2023)

Samsun Knight's first novel, The Diver, opens with a brief, dramatic scene: "A scuba diver is on a deepwater dive with her husband, one hundred thirty feet below." They are exploring a shipwreck from the 1800s when their oxygen tank pressure gauges fail. The diver survives, and her husband does not.

Knight presents this brief section in a third-person perspective that provides details of the dive; the rest of the novel features the first-person voice of a young man named Peter. Peter works as a paralegal at an ethically questionable law firm that specializes in intimidation services on behalf of wealthy clients; the diver's sister-in-law hires them. In this way Peter comes into contact with Marta, the widowed diver. He wants to help her, and he may love her. He also has his own baggage and history of loss, a "sinkhole of family." Peter's plot line is a series of mishaps and grotesque, often darkly comic episodes; readers are privy to his first-person narration and can understand his messy life. Marta's more enigmatic story is, likewise, filled with grim absurdity. The Diver is further peopled with unfeeling art-school classmates, a mother on the verge of breakdown, a profoundly disturbing fortune-teller, and two goons who share a first name. Knight combines psychological suspense with outrageous catastrophes and a bit of a ghost story.

Knight follows Marta by following Peter; she is the novel's ostensible protagonist, but it is Peter's minutiae on display. The two characters are drawn together by their misery and their openness to possibility. They speak in disjointed sentences but, Peter thinks, mostly understand one another: "That sense of broken compartments, of trying and failing to fit Marta's actions into the boxes I'd established for her, had graduated into a full collapse of anxiety." The price of their odd alliance, however, may be higher than either one realizes.

The story plays with format and includes interspersed snippets of interview transcripts, tarot cards, diagrams, an art-mag essay about Freud's concept of unheimlich, and more. The overall result is a little off-kilter and occasionally grisly. (Some readers will struggle with scenes involving animal cruelty.) As an examination of the dark sides of relationships, it is disturbing and always imaginative. Marta, for one, resorts to increasingly weird experiments with the occult in her quest to bring her husband back.

How far would a person go for love, grief, hope, or fear? This disquieting novel pushes these questions beyond expected boundaries in its inquiry into terrible, life-changing wrongs. Dealing in mysticism, love, anguish, and unpardonable crimes, The Diver is not a novel for the faint of heart, but it is rewarding in its surprises. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This novel of existential questions features a grieving, perhaps unhinged widow and the paralegal hired to investigate her, who team up in increasingly bizarre efforts to reconcile their lives.

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