Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Atria Books: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: Deluxe Edition by Taylor Jenkins Reid

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Ace Books: Toto by AJ Hackwith and The Village Library Demon-Hunting Society by CM Waggoner

 Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

Webtoon Unscrolled: Age Matters Volume Two by Enjelicious

St. Martin's Press:  How to Think Like Socrates: Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life in the Modern World  by Donald J Robertson

News

Em Dash Books & More Opens in Buda, Tex.

Lola Watson

Em Dash Books & More, a nonprofit bookstore that promotes literacy for all ages, opened in Buda, Tex., in early September, Community Impact reported.

Bookstore founder Lola Watson and her team carry a wide range of books for children, teens, and adults, with fiction, nonfiction, memoir, cookbooks, graphic novels, speculative fiction, and classics in stock.

Books are available at a variety of price points, and Em Dash's nonbook inventory includes stickers, bookmarks, and cards. With sales from the bookstore, Watson plans to donate books to local children and fund programs that increase literacy. She hosts monthly book discussions and intends to expand Em Dash's event offerings in the coming months.

Watson, who most recently was a product director at an ed-tech startup and who has also worked as a librarian, bookseller, and teacher, described Buda as a "book desert." She founded Em Dash as an online bookstore and pop-up before opening a bricks-and-mortar location inside Buda Bike Co., at 200 S. Main St., last month.


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'Grand (Re)Opening' Set for Little Professor, Homewood, Ala.

Little Professor bookstore will host a "Grand (Re)Opening" celebration this Saturday, October 28, in the shop's new location at 2738 18th St. S., Homewood, Ala. "As Birmingham's oldest bookstore, Little Professor is no stranger to fostering community. This new space will continue to serve as the community hub that this local shop already beautifully provides," Bham Now reported. Little Professor also operates a store at Pepper Place in downtown Birmingham.

"While we loved our old location down 18th street, our new location achieves our vision of a fresh and modern bookshop and community hub," said owner Meredith Robinson. "Similar to our Pepper Place shop, we hope when you walk in our doors it feels inviting, open and a place you want to spend a few hours."

Earlier this year, the bookstore announced plans to relocate to the former Nadeau building. "Everything will feel very updated," Robinson said at the time, adding that the new store would offer an outdoor venue, an expanded children's area, a second floor, and more. 

Bham Now noted that the location's features include space to host 50-100 people, designated parking for book clubs, new shelves similar to those at the Pepper Place location, and 20% more inventory space.


The Collective Book Studio: Women's Voices Non-Fiction Coming Fall 2024


The Nook, Baldwin City, Kan., Closes

The Nook, a bookstore and bar in Baldwin City, Kan., closed permanently on October 4, the Baker Orange reported.

Store owner Niki Manbeck first opened the bookstore in October 2019. It became a popular hangout for Baker University students and faculty, and was the first of a number of new businesses to open in downtown Baldwin City. The shop featured puzzles and board games for patrons to use and per the Orange, it was the only bookstore in town.

Manbeck, who is also a publisher and the owner of a sports bar in Baldwin City, said rising inflation and declining sales were to blame for the closure. Looking ahead, she's considering a "Nook mobile" that would be both a food truck and mobile bookstore.


B&N Store Returning to Santa Monica in 2024

Barnes & Noble will open a new store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., next summer, after a five-year absence. LAist reported that the bookstore chain's return is "part of a project to turn the outdoor shopping strip into an entertainment venue, with pickleball courts, tattoo parlors and more."

"I never consider us to be a mall in your traditional sense," said Andrew Thomas, CEO of Downtown Santa Monica, a commercial property management group behind the Promenade.

Although boom times for the three-block pedestrian mall "had ended in the late 2010s, when rising rents kept businesses from renewing leases," the Covid-19 pandemic essentially shut down in-person shopping, LAist wrote.

"It was very painful. We really haven't had any significant downturns at all until the last three years," said Wally Marks, who owns the building the new B&N will occupy. In June 2022, he cold-called B&N, wanting to know if the company had any interest in returning to the Promenade.

Marks "longs to see the building return to the days of book readings and community events nestled within its exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. In the early 1990s, his building was home to the indie bookstore, Midnight Special Books," LAist noted.

Calling B&N's return "serendipitous," he added: "We just really believe in the power of books and the power of magic that it brings to people."


Obituary Note: Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis, a social and cultural historian "whose imaginative and deeply researched investigations of the lives of marginalized figures--peasants, long-forgotten women, border crossers of all sorts--profoundly influenced the discipline," died October 21, the New York Times reported. She was 94. Drawing on anthropology and literary criticism, as well as archival digging, Davis "both represented and inspired an emerging approach to history in the second half of the 20th century, often by filling in gaps in the historical record with informed speculations based on deep immersion in the period under study."

Her best-known book was The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), based on the tale of a 16th-century peasant in Languedoc, France, who for several years successfully impersonated a man from a rural village who had abandoned his family. The Times noted that the book was "a kind of follow-up to a 1982 movie," Le Retour de Martin Guerre, and Davis, who had published a groundbreaking essay collection, Society and Culture in Early Modern France (1975), was the historical adviser to director Daniel Vigne and the screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière while they were working on the film.

Upon its release, Davis realized the movie could not convey the nuances of the story and so decided to give "this arresting tale," as she put it in a preface to the book, "its first full-scale historical treatment, using every scrap of paper left me by the past."

Her next book, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (1987), explored stories that common people accused of homicide told in order to secure a pardon from the king. Other books include Women on the Margins (1995), The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France (2000), Slaves on Screen (2000), and Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds (2006).

During a long teaching career, Davis eventually moved from Toronto to Princeton in 1978 and stayed for 18 years, succeeding Lawrence Stone as director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies. She retired in 1996 as the Henry Charles Lea professor of history. She had helped found women's studies programs at both Princeton and UC Berkeley. Returning to Canada, she was named a professor emerita in the University of Toronto's history department.

Davis became president of the American Historical Association in 1987, only the second woman to hold that position. She was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012 and was presented with the 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

In a speech to the American Council of Learned Societies, she considered how her years of study had given her confidence in the resilience and adaptability of societies: "No matter how bleak and constrained the situation, some forms of improvisation and coping take place. No matter what happens, people go on telling stories about it and bequeath them to the future." She added, "The past reminds us that change can occur."


Notes

Image of the Day: Bookstore Friends

While they were traveling to New Orleans for a meeting recently, booksellers from Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., stopped in Crestwood, Ala., to visit friends at Thank You Books.

Pictured: (l.-r.) Laura Cotton (co-owner, Thank You Books), Janet Geddis (owner/founder, Avid Bookshop), Rachel Watkins (operations director, Avid Bookshop), Will Walton (former bookseller at Thank You Books and Avid Bookshop), Tyler Goodson (former manager at Avid Bookshop, now sales operations associate at PRH).


Oprah's Book Club Pick: Let Us Descend

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner) as her 103rd Oprah's Book Club pick. The novel chronicles the trials of Annis, an enslaved teenager, on her grueling journey from a North Carolina plantation to her subsequent sale in New Orleans. Winfrey, who announced her choice yesterday on CBS Mornings, said the book will leave an impact, adding: "We witness how both the mind and spirit are vital to her survival." 

Ward is the author of three previous novels--two of which have won the National Book Award (Salvage the Bones in 2011 and Sing, Unburied, Sing in 2017). A fan of her writing for years, Winfrey has read all of Ward's books and called her latest "a vital work for our culture."

Ward commented: "Ms. Oprah Winfrey's work has loomed large in my life since I was a child. As I grew older and came into my voice as a novelist, I was deeply moved by Ms. Winfrey's ability to challenge herself creatively and her unabashed championing of literature and the written word. I tried to emulate all of this in my own life, and over the last 20 years, I worked my way through rejection and revision to now, when I find myself in a momentous point in my career. I am deeply grateful to Ms. Winfrey for choosing Let Us Descend for her Book Club, and I am so honored to contribute to the discussion at the heart of her club, which over the years, has considered what it means to be American, to be human, to be alive, to hope and yearn, with each outing."


Norton to Distribute Yale University Press, Harvard University Press

W.W. Norton will handle sales and distribution of Yale University Press and Harvard University Press to wholesale, retail, library, and specialty accounts, as well as special sales venues, beginning in the fall of 2024 for titles to be released in January 2025. Among the largest and most prestigious university presses, both Yale and Harvard are currently distributed by TriLateral, Cumberland, R.I.

Yale University Press director John Donatich said, "There are so many exciting parallels to celebrate in our partnership with W.W. Norton. Yale is not for profit, Norton is employee-owned, and we share so many fundamental values; our books demonstrate scholarly rigor, intellectual probity, literary luster, and marketplace success. We look forward to working with one of the great enterprising independent publishers in the world."

Harvard University Press director George Andreou said, "I couldn't be more delighted to entrust HUP's books--both its storied backlist and the important new works yet to be published--to the care of W.W. Norton & Company, a house whose very name has long been synonymous with quality."

Jorie A. Krumpfer, CFO and COO at Norton, said, "It is a delight and a privilege to commence our publishing relationship with these two eminent presses. With lists that span general and scholarly audiences, and with award-winning books that deepen and broaden understanding of the arts, sciences, social sciences, literature, and culture, the publishing programs of these presses reflect the highest ideals of our own."

Norton director of trade sales Steven Pace added, "It is clear to us how deeply Norton's purposes and priorities resonate with both distinguished university presses' programs. Here is territory that we know well; in fact, we even share certain subject areas and authors. Our team at Norton is primed and ready to embrace the vaunted Harvard and Yale lists--and backlists--in the marketplace. We could not be more excited to represent their books."


Personnel Changes at Eerdmans; S&S Children's Publishing

At Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company:

Jason Pearson has been promoted to marketing and publicity manager.

Will Hearn has been promoted to advertising and promotions coordinator.

Jeff Dundas has been promoted to publicity and author care associate.

Claire McColley has joined the company as digital marketing specialist.

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Elizabeth Huang has joined Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing as digital marketing assistant. She was most recently a junior content and marketing assistant at Girls' Life magazine.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Werner Herzog on Fresh Air

Today:
Here & Now: Marcela Valladolid, author of Familia: 125 Foolproof Mexican Recipes to Feed Your People (Voracious, $35, 9780316437905).

Fresh Air: Werner Herzog, author of Every Man for Himself and God Against All: A Memoir (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593490297).

Tomorrow:
Watch What Happens Live: Jana Kramer, author of The Next Chapter: Making Peace with Hard Memories, Finding Hope All Around Me, and Clearing Space for Good Things to Come (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063288690).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key, authors of The History of Sketch Comedy: A Journey through the Art and Craft of Humor (Chronicle, $29.95, 9781797216836).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: McKay Coppins, author of Romney: A Reckoning (Scribner, $32.50, 9781982196202).


On Stage: The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins's bestselling novel The Hunger Games is coming to the stage in a new adaptation from Conor McPherson (Girl from the North Country), based solely on the first book of the series and its screen version. Playbill reported that the play, directed by Matthew Dunster (2:22 A Ghost Story), will premiere in London in fall 2024. 

"To receive Suzanne Collins's blessing to adapt The Hunger Games for the stage is both humbling and inspiring," said McPherson. "She has created a classic story which continues to resonate now more than ever. In a world where the truth itself seems increasingly up for grabs, The Hunger Games beautifully expresses values of resilience, self-reliance, and independent moral inquiry for younger people especially. This is turbo-charged storytelling of the highest order, and I'm hugely excited to bring it to a new generation of theatregoers and to Suzanne Collins' longstanding and devoted fans."

Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons of Runaway Entertainment, Oliver Royds of BOS Productions, and Isobel David are producing, by arrangement with Hunger Games film studio Lionsgate.



Books & Authors

Awards: Readings, Patrick White Winners

The three winners of the 2023 Readings Prize, sponsored by Readings, Melbourne, Australia, are:

Fiction: All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien. Nicki Levy, chair of judges, said in part: "Lien's intention in this novel was to give readers insight into the experience of growing up Asian Australian in Cabramatta in the 1990s. All That's Left Unsaid achieves this exceptionally well by exploring life in a community little known to most. In a story of grief, love, and friendship, Lien offers the reader a glimpse into a sister's world as she searches for answers after her brother's murder. The quality of writing in this novel and use of language gives voice to the often unseen."

Young Adult: If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang. Aurelia Orr, chair of judges, said in part: "We were enamoured by the accessibility of all the genres that Liang has masterfully woven into her tale. Fans of contemporary romance, mystery, and fantasy will all find something to enjoy as they are swept away by our wonderful and ingenious protagonist, Alice. Original, exhilarating, and genre-defying, If You Could See the Sun breathes new life into the YA shelves. While playing with the fantastical, Alice does accentuate the invisibility many teenagers feel during the bewildering, explorative period of adolescence, and she does so with strong conviction and an even stronger heart."

Children's: No Words by Maryam Master. Katey Bellew, chair of judges, said in part: "This remarkable book stands as a rare gem that not only offers readers a mirror to see themselves reflected, but also a window through which to learn more about the world. Brimming with big feelings, big laughs and a friendship trio that rivals any we've encountered this year, at its core No Words is a book about finding your voice. Seamlessly balancing thought-provoking themes with a playful, uplifting tone, No Words will remind you that everyone has a story to tell. And Aria, the boy who doesn't speak, has one of the greatest stories of all."

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Poet and fiction writer Alex Skovron won the 2023 Patrick White Literary Award, honoring an author who has "made an ongoing contribution to Australian literature but may not have received adequate recognition," Books+Publishing reported. Established by Patrick White with the proceeds from his 1973 Nobel Prize in Literature, the award is worth A$20,000 (about US$12,715). 

Skovron has won several major prizes, including the Wesley Michel Wright Prize, the John Shaw Neilson Award, the ABR (now Peter Porter) Prize, and for his first book The Rearrangement (1988), the Anne Elder and Mary Gilmore awards. His collection Towards the Equator (2014) was shortlisted in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, while his novella The Poet (2005) was a joint winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers Christina Stead Award for fiction. His work has been translated into many other languages, including Czech, French and Dutch.

"This wonderful surprise has come at something of a milestone moment in my life, on the heels of my 75th birthday, and to receive the award means a great deal to me--both as a recognition of my work to date, and as further encouragement towards what I still hope to achieve," Skovron said. "Above all, I feel honored to be joining such an impressive cohort of past winners, many of whose stories and poems I've read and admired over many years."


Reading with… Emily Zhou

photo: Hannah Account

Emily Zhou is a writer from Michigan who lives in New York City. Her first book, Girlfriends (LittlePuss Press, October 17, 2023), is a collection of seven short stories about Gen Z queer life.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Introspective stories about aimless trans women, aged 19-25, who are all having some sort of inarticulate, poorly managed crisis. Quiet with a few loud moments.

On your nightstand now:

I'm about halfway through Robert Caro's biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker. I expected it to be about urban planning, a subject I've recently become fascinated by, but Moses's oversights are easy to see in retrospect and were obvious even at the time--building highways through cities is bad, etc. It's more about how power works in New York City municipal politics, and how good Robert Moses was at holding on to it for a long time. I might not finish it, but I tend to be stubborn about finishing books, even long ones.

When I'm bored with Caro and Moses, I rip through novels by Ivy Compton-Burnett, an English modernist who wrote almost entirely in dialogue. She's inspiring me to do more with less, even if she would be a difficult author to emulate directly. My favorite one so far is Pastors and Masters, which is a lot more fun than its title suggests.

Favorite book when you were a child:

As depressing as this is in retrospect, I loved the Harry Potter series when I was very young, and I generally read a lot of other high fantasy stuff that I mostly don't remember at all. The book that made me interested in literature was probably Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, which I read in ninth grade and haven't revisited since.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order:

Henry Green. His novels, which I read one after the other in a rapturous blitz last year, totally decentered my way of thinking about fiction in ways I'm still thinking through. Back and Doting are two of the funniest books I've ever read.

Sarah Schulman. I find her work tremendously inspiring in its clarity. 

Patricia Lockwood. I haven't read all of her books, but I have canceled plans to read her essays when a new one comes out.

Elif Batuman. It's hard to think of a novel that captures better what it's like to be a confused, curious young person than The Idiot.

Ben Lerner. I generally don't read neurotic-male-intellectual novels all that much unless they're really good, and Ben Lerner's novels are really good.

Book you've faked reading:

Anna Karenina. I want to get to it someday, but I find Tolstoy daunting. I've read a lot of George Eliot, so it isn't just about the period or the length. Part of it is that I'm indecisive about which translation to read. People have alarmingly strong opinions about this, and it's a long book. That said, my girlfriend came home the other day with the Pevear/Volokhonsky, so I guess that'll be the one--eventually.

Book you're an evangelist for:

When I lived in Michigan, I talked nearly every trans woman I met into reading Imogen Binnie's Nevada, which at that time was out of print. That book was talismanic to the trans micro-generation immediately preceding mine (especially to a certain sort of white, overeducated trans lesbian), and--believer in literature that I was--I was dismayed that my younger peers weren't reading it. I lent out my copy to maybe six or seven people and encouraged them to write in the margins, and it's now a palimpsest of annotations in different colors.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Andrew Martin's Early Work, which has a Balthus painting on it and a very nice font. I've since read it three times, so I'm glad the book designer did such a good job.

Book you hid from your parents:

When I was 10, I hid my mom's copy of Charles Baxter's The Feast of Love in my locker at school and then, when my mom found it was missing, I had my friend Will hide it in his. I have my own copy now, and it's a book I'm still fond of. It's about existential loneliness and how we try to salve it with love, and it's the best Ann Arbor novel, but it also happens to open with a young couple breaking into Michigan Stadium at night and having sex on the 50-yard line. (Baxter writes "making love," which gives you an idea of what kind of book it is.) The school administrator who made Will and I fess up seemed bemused that this was what I was clandestinely reading, and I was hugely embarrassed--not because the book titillated me, but because all the adults around me thought I was. I was fascinated by it because the book seemed like a window into an adult way of looking at the world that was still comprehensible to my 10-year-old self. Sex was a part of that, but it wasn't the whole picture--but no one else understood that, and it's impossible to explain anything to an adult when you're 10.  

Book that changed your life:

Torrey Peters's Detransition, Baby made me want to move to New York, which I did in 2021 with very little preparation or planning. This is, in retrospect, extremely naive and borders on delusional, but things worked out mostly fine for me, even if the New York depicted in that book had been totally displaced by the time I hopped off the train.

Favorite line from a book:

"The betrayer is always the debtor; at best, he can only work out in remorse his deficit of love, until remorse itself becomes love's humble, shamefaced proxy." That's from Mary McCarthy's The Company She Keeps.

Five books you'll never part with:

Sybil Lamb's I've Got a Time Bomb. This, to me, is the ultimate trans novel. Someone should get it back in print.

Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights. This book terribly frustrated me the first time I read it (I wrote in my diary at the time that she "treats humans like malfunctioning automatons"), but it's a book that's deepened with each rereading.

Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey. At one time, it seemed like everyone I knew in the Ann Arbor musical/literary community had read this book at some point, or was recommending it to someone else. There's a good reason they were--it's great and undiminished by time and many rereadings.

Joan Murray's Drafts, Fragments and Poems. Murray is criminally underrated, probably because she died at age 24 without having published much. I think she's a visionary in the vein of Emily Dickinson and Laura Riding, and I hope more of her work gets published someday.

Susan Sontag's diaries (which are two volumes, but I'm counting it as one). A lot of young, bookish women who need a role model for their frustrated sense of seriousness have fallen under the spell of these diaries, and I'm no exception. They led me to so much else, and they're just so fun to read, even if I've outgrown emulating her.

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

Adam Ehrlich Sachs's The Organs of Sense, a satire of Enlightenment philosophy and science, repeatedly made me laugh so hard I cried the first time I read it. It's still a pleasure to reread, but I sometimes wonder if any other book is going to make me laugh like that.


Book Review

Children's Review: Wintergarden

Wintergarden by Janet Fox, illus. by Jasu Hu (Neal Porter Books, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780823451012, November 7, 2023)

Janet Fox's second picture book, Wintergarden, is a lyrically hopeful story about a young girl who learns nurturing green-thumb lessons from her patient mother. Artist Jasu Hu, who was born in China and lives in New York City, augments Fox's smooth text with exquisite spreads created with watercolor, pencil, and mixed media, resulting in synchronous perfection.

"In winter/ when it snows/ my mama grows/ a garden," Fox's idyll opens. While soft flakes swirl beyond the apartment windows, mother and child ready the kitchen windowsill with green pots. The girl is eager to help: Mama "lets me put some [seeds] in the soil/ because my fingers are/ so nice and small." While the seeds gather energy to emerge, the family--grandparents, parents, the little girl, their playful pup--enjoy their wintry wonderland, strolling the city streets. At home, the girl watches and waits, carefully checking the soil, anticipating the oregano, parsley, and baby greens about to become sprouts "like magic overnight." And then the "plants grow fast," creating delectable nourishment for everyone to enjoy together. Soon enough, they "need more seeds!" and the family ventures out for replenishment: "This time I get to pick the packets," the girl revels. This time, she knows exactly what to do to create her very own garden.

Fox's enchanting verses deftly relay multiple sensory descriptions in just a few words: "The cars roll by in slushy rumbles./ The shops.../ ...smell like cinnamon and apples"; "The lettuce leaves crunch like/ tiny icicles in my mouth/ .../ The oregano makes the soup/ taste like summer." Hu (All You Need) transforms every spread into an inviting mise-en-scène, inserting subtle enhancing details: a framed multigenerational family photo above the kitchen shelves, tiny symbiotic bugs to help roots root, an adventurous cat (brr!) hopping across rooftops, and wondrous backgrounds and borders of gorgeous foliage (including even the endpapers). Hu cleverly turns the double-page spread in the middle of the book perpendicular, emphasizing the spellbinding celebration of joyous growth as the girl climbs up a blossoming plant, accompanied by her gleefully bounding pup.

Fox (Volcano Dreams) appends "How to Grow Your Own Wintergarden" directions at book's end, presented as an easy-to-follow guide, including further suggested reading; Hu adds the girl and her always-nearby pooch, diligently working together to make their next garden grow. Fox realizes that winter may sometimes feel somberly isolating with "leafless trees [that] are stark and dark," but her literary response is a welcome, nourishing antidote. --Terry Hong, BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Author Janet Fox and artist Jasu Hu create a symbiotically exquisite idyll about an urban family and their nourishing winter garden.


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