Also published on this date: December 14, 2023 Dedicated Issue: Simon Element

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 14, 2023

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

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

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

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

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


Patterson Holiday Bookstore Bonus Recipients Named

James Patterson

James Patterson has selected the independent booksellers who are beneficiaries of his Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program, which in October he said would go to 600 booksellers in $500 increments. As he has done in previous years, Patterson pledged a substantial amount--$300,000 this fall--to fund the program. The complete list of recipients can be seen on the American Booksellers Association's website.

"I've said this before, but I can't say it enough--booksellers save lives," Patterson said. "What they do is crucial, especially right now. I'm happy to be able to acknowledge them and their hard work this holiday season."

ABA CEO Allison Hill commented: "We all continue to be awed by, and grateful for, Mr. Patterson's continuing support of independent booksellers. It means so much to have him recognize the valuable role booksellers play in the industry and we appreciate his financial generosity as well as his generosity of spirit."

Congratulations to the bookseller winners and many thanks to the ever-generous James Patterson! Among the indie bookstores checking in on social media yesterday to congratulate their staff recipients:

Sweet Home Books, Wetumpka, Ala.: "Y'all…. I am so happy to announce that YOUR generous votes and emails allowed Sweet Home Books to be a recipient of the James Patterson 2023 Holiday Bookstore Bonus! There aren't enough words to show my gratitude to James Patterson for choosing to support indie bookstores, and to each of you who have encouraged, supported, and worked alongside me at SHB. Our goal has always been to create a space where people can connect through a shared love of stories, and all of you have made that happen. I can't wait to see what 2024 brings!"

New Story Community Books, Marshall, Mich.: "Congratulations to Tom for being selected for recognition by James Patterson!"

The Astoria Bookshop, Queens, N.Y.: "Congratulations to our own Emily and all the other James Patterson Holiday Bookstore Bonus recipients! Emily is shown here with a stack of some of her favorite books of 2023."

Literarity Book Shop, El Paso, Tex.: "I'm grateful to be a recipient of one of the $500 holiday bonuses that best-selling author James Patterson awards to 600 booksellers each year. James truly understands and appreciates the importance and value of booksellers and indie bookstores. And special thanks to the friends, authors and publishers who nominated me. From its inception, Literarity was intended to be a platform for doing good in our community and the holidays are for giving, so we'll be donating our bonus to El Paso Matters. Happy Holidays, Bill."

BookMarx, Springfield, Mo.: "Thank you to James Patterson for generously including us as a recipient in his holiday bookseller bonus program. (Take notes, Mr Grisham!)"

Afterwords Books, Edwardsville, Ill.: "I SPY an Afterwords Books employee recipient! Thanks so much to all who shared a kind word or two, nominating your favorite mother-daughter bookselling duo for a holiday bonus. As Kaleigh and I are a team; working tirelessly together to continue to make your little local indie bookstore a cozy, welcoming place, we share this honor. The bonus is much appreciated (thank you, Mr. Patterson!) and will be funneled back into our community through giveaways and donations. Cheers! --LuAnn & Kaleigh."

The BookSmiths Shoppe, Danbury, Conn.: "THANK YOU @jamespattersonbooks !!!! We were awarded a holiday bonus thanks to his generosity!!!! I'm so honored !!! Shop local!!! Support indie!!!!" 

Blue House Books, Kenosha, Wis.: "Thanks to the efforts of our amazing customers and followers, a Blue House Books staff member has once again won the James Patterson Bookseller Holiday Bonus! Congratulations to Sam! (Who insisted we use a photo from when she went to see The Eras Tour movie in honor of Taylor Swift's birthday.) This wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of our wonderful customers. Thank you so much for your continued support."

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

BincTank Partnering with the Professional Bookseller School, Paz & Associates

BincTank, the bookstore business incubator program launched earlier this year by the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, is partnering with the Professional Bookseller School and the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates to provide the program's core education curriculum.

Designed to increase equity in bookstore ownership by supporting entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities, BincTank will provide participants with three months of weekly PBS classes as well as additional resources from Paz & Associates. At the same time, participants will be part of a mentorship program, have access to subject matter experts, and the visual toolbox GrowthWheel.

The BincTank pilot program will last three years, and applications for its first cohort will open early in January. Binc is looking for entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented communities who want to open mission-driven bookstores in their communities or expand existing retail operations.

"We're excited to see BincTank come to life," said Pam French, Binc's executive director. "Partnership with our friends at PBS and Paz & Associates are critical to our focus on closing the diversity gap in bookstore ownership and we encourage all BIPOC entrepreneurs interested in opening a bookstore in their community to apply."

Professional Bookseller School president Eileen Dengler, also executive director of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, said: "PBS is honored to work with Binc on the Underserved Markets program. Our sole purpose is to educate booksellers and share industry knowledge so everyone is confident and committed in their bookselling careers. We are excited to assist BIPOC entrepreneurs on their way to bookstore ownership, and to provide the information that will make their journey easier and understandable."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Pearl Street Books & Gifts in Wash. Goes Mobile with Wheely Good Books

Pearl Street Books & Gifts, Ellensburg, Wash., has launched Wheely Good Books, a bookmobile remodeled from an old shuttle bus. The Daily Record reported that owner Liz Stone "is taking business on the road to pop-up events around the county and beyond."

"Everyone loves the idea of a moving bookstore. Customer feedback has been great. They've called it cozy, charming, a blast from the past," she said, adding that she likes how "Wheely" gives the business more flexibility, including extended hours and an extended community.

The shuttle bus she purchased needed a lot of work done, but Novotny Construction came to the rescue. "It was remodeled within a week," Stone said.

"Holes were patched up, seats were removed, bookshelves were installed, and the construction workers even built a bench seat into the side for readers to get comfy with their new book," the Daily Record noted.

"It gives customers a place to relax and hang out in a cozy, safe atmosphere," Stone said. "It has the same feel as our bookstore."

Fast Lane Signs came up with the design (including the owl motif on the front of the bus), and Stone's customers held a contest to choose the bookmobile's name.

In addition to many other events, Stone is working on coordinating a book fair with local elementary schools. "I'm looking forward to more community partnerships," she said.

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Dorothy June Booksellers Opens in Foley, Ala.

Dorothy June Booksellers opened earlier this fall at 107 W. Orange Ave., Ste. A, in Foley, Ala. Gulf Coast Media reported that owner Reide Irwin "aims to uphold the tradition of physical print editions."

"I have grown up with a love for reading, and every one of my family loves to read, so it has just kind of always been part of my life," Irwin said. "I have always wanted to have a small business in Foley, and I have always wanted to share my love for reading with the community."

The bookshop's name derives from "women who loved to read in my family," she noted. "We came up with the name of the bookstore to recognize those women while also celebrating several decades of a love for reading."

Irwin envisions her bookstore as a place that will cater to people of all ages and with different genre preferences. "It was a process of wanting to make sure there was something for everyone," she noted. "I asked a lot of people in the community of all varying ages and groups what their interests were in reading because everyone likes to read something different. We just wanted to make sure we had a good balance of fiction, nonfiction and everything in between."

Noting that she is a big supporter of her local library and visits other bookstores when traveling, Irwin observed: "I think that small local shops have something unique to offer because they are exactly that: local. One of my family's favorite activities is finding the local bookshop when we visit a new place, so we hope to be that for the community of Foley. The unique thing about local bookstores is that they are able to curate a display of books that is specialized to just that store. We have different products to offer than a typical larger chain, and we can also order books for customers per their request. In fact, we've already begun doing so."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Obituary Note: Renée (Ngāti Kahungunu)

Celebrated Māori writer Renée (Ngāti Kahungunu), who "described herself as a lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals, and was considered a pioneer in writing about working-class women, takatāpui and Māori," died December 11, the Post reported. She was 94. Renée was a playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist and blogger, "and an esteemed writing teacher and mentor. Her plays were among the first to put women center stage, and her fiction work did the same thing."

Renée, whose full name was Renée Gertrude Taylor, left school at 12 to work in woolen mills, and later a printing factory where she learned how to bind books. She had thought she would pursue higher education, but her mother said she had to work so her younger brother and sister could go to school, too. 

Renée began writing seriously at 50, publishing 10 books of fiction and a memoir, more than 20 plays, numerous short stories and essays and, for 10 years, a weekly blog, Renée's Wednesday Busk. Her best known work was Wednesday to Come, a play about the women in a working-class family coping in the Depression, which was famously set around a coffin and included scones being baked on stage.

In 2006, Renée was appointed an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for services to literature and drama. In 2013, she was awarded the Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka for a lifetime contribution to ngā toi Māori, and the Playmarket Award in 2017, for a significant artistic contribution to theatre in Aotearoa. She received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction in 2018.

A lifelong fan of crime fiction, Renée published her first crime novel, The Wild Card, with the Cuba Press when she turned 90, and a sequel, Blood Matters, three years later. Both were shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Mary McCallum, Renée's publisher at Mākaro and the Cuba presses, said her work over nearly half a century helped bring those on the perimeters of society to a place of safety and power. McCallum described their connection as "one of the great relationships of my life--publisher to author to start with and then, with two roadies, three plane trips, four books, multiple festivals and other events, and thousands of phone calls and emails and edits under our belts, we became the greatest of friends.... Wherever we went, I saw how people were drawn to and uplifted by this gracious, generous, straight-talking, unapologetically political, indomitable woman, who had weathered so much and yet was fighting for their corner, even into her 90s."

In a tribute, Unity Books, Wellington, wrote in the Spinoff: "Renée was our much-loved author, customer and long-time friend and supporter of us all here at Unity Books. Renée always brought together a genial, efficient and incisive approach to her work and writing. She was so inclusive and energetic in her great friendship with us all over the decades, her involvement with us and the literary community was always unburdened by a "me me me" sentimentality. Renée was an 'us us us' person. We will miss her very much but of course her writing remains forever."  

From the poem "Tiger Country," featured in Renée's final blog post: 

Some nights after the sun has flamed
and seabirds search the pastures of the sea
tigers come out and lean gentle over your chair--
wrap you in a striped shawl of sturdy warmth
fold their paws and purr soft in the silent room.

This is the danger time. Stand up. Walk slow.
Their eyes are on the game and you're it.


Image of the Day: Face-to-Face at Mrs. Dalloway's

During the holiday party at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, Berkeley, Calif., the staff took a moment for a group shot using titles from one of the store displays.

Christmas Book Tree: Back Again Bookshop

Posted on Facebook by Back Again Bookshop, Myrtle Beach, S.C.: "The book tree will be coming down in just over two weeks! This beauty takes hours to put together and is made up of over 600 books. We hope to make it even bigger next year! If you haven't had a chance to swing by and take a picture of your family next to the book tree yet, be sure to swing by before Christmas!"

Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House

At Penguin Random House:

Stephen Shodin has been promoted to director, sales operations. Among other positions, he has been production manager/archivist for KDPG and title manager for RHPG, before joining sales operations. He was most recently associate director, sales operations.

Tom Broucksou has been promoted to manager, sales operations. He joined the company two years ago.

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: The Southern Festival of Books

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, December 16
12:15 p.m. Brooke Barbier, author of King Hancock: The Radical Influence of a Moderate Founding Father (‎Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674271777). (Re-airs Sunday at 12:15 a.m.)

Sunday, December 17
8 a.m. Adam Kinzinger, author of Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country (The Open Field, $30, 9780593654163). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:10 a.m. Joy Buolamwini, author of Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines (Random House, $28.99, 9780593241837). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:10 p.m.)

10 a.m. Tim Alberta, author of The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism (‎Harper, $35, 9780063226883). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. Coverage of the Southern Festival of Books, which took place in October in Nashville, Tenn. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Sarah Beth Childers, author of Prodigals: A Sister's Memoir of Appalachia and Loss, and Kami Ahrens, author of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women: Stories of Landscape and Community in the Mountain South.
  • 2:49 p.m. Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Klan War: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction.
  • 3:37 p.m. Jefferson Cowie, author of Freedom's Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power.
  • 4:25 p.m. Tamika Y. Nunley, author of The Demands of Justice: Enslaved Women, Capital Crime, and Clemency in Early Virginia.
  • 5:09 p.m. Yasmine Ali, author of Walk through Fire: The Train Disaster that Changed America, Rachel Louise Martin, author of A Most Tolerant Little Town: The Explosive Beginning of School Desegregation, and Emily Strasser, author of Half-Life of a Secret: Reckoning with a Hidden History.
  • 5:59 p.m. Langston Collin Wilkins, author of Welcome 2 Houston: Hip Hop Heritage in Hustle Town (University of Illinois Press, $24.95, 9780252087295).
  • 6:44 p.m. Holly Gleason, author of Prine on Prine: Interviews and Encounters with John Prine (Chicago Review Press, $19.99, 9781641606301).

Books & Authors

Awards: Jane Addams Chapter Book Finalists

Finalists have been announced in the chapter book category for the 2024 Jane Addams Children's Book Award, sponsored by the Jane Addams Peace Association and honoring "children's books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people." Winning and honor books will be announced January 12. The finalists:

Hands by Torrey Maldonado (Nancy Paulsen Books/PRH)
Ida in the Middle by Nora Lester Murad (Crocodile Books/Interlink Publishing)
Indigo and Ida by Heather Murphy Capps (Carolrhoda/Lerner Books)
Land of Broken Promises by Jane Kuo (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins)
The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)
Mascot by Charles Waters & Traci Sorell (Charlesbridge Press)
Saving Sunshine by Saadia Faruqi, illus. by Shazleen Khan (First Second Books/Macmillan)
School Trip by Jerry Craft (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins)
Top Story by Kelly Yang (Scholastic Press)
Warrior Girl by Carmen Tafolla (Nancy Paulsen Books/PRH)
World Made of Glass by Ami Polonsky (Little, Brown)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 19:

The Vacation: A Novel by John Marrs (Hanover Square Press, $30, 9781335013255) is a thriller set in a Venice Beach hostel.

The Black Joy Project by Kleaver Cruz (Mariner Books, $35, 9780358588757) includes eight essays and 117 photos from around the world.

How Migration Really Works: The Facts About the Most Divisive Issue in Politics by Hein de Haas (Basic Books, $33.99, 9781541604315) explores trends in global migration.

Heartstopper #5 by Alice Oseman (Graphix, $15.99, 9781338807486) features main characters Nick and Charlie taking the next big steps in their relationship.

Cupig by Claire Tattersfield, illus. by Rob Sayegh Jr. (Flamingo, $14.99, 9780593623107), is a Valentine's Day picture book about a cupid pig who accidentally breaks up some very important pairings.

Yoga Life: Habits, Poses, and Breathwork to Channel Joy Amidst the Chaos by Brett Larkin (Balance, $19.99, 9781538726099).

Bite-Sized French Pastries for the Beginner Baker by Sylvie Gruber (Page Street, $23.99, 9781645679363).

Star Trek: Lower Decks--Crew Handbook by Chris Farnell (Titan Books, $29.95, 9781803361239).

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:

A True Account: Hannah Masury's Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself: A Novel by Katherine Howe (Holt, $28.99, 9781250304889). "This book has everything I love in a good historical fiction novel: fierce female protagonists, pirates, smashing the colonial patriarchy, twentieth-century academia. It will make for a great book club selection--I can't wait to share it!" --Sarah Danforth, Reads & Company, Phoenixville, Pa.

Cacophony of Bone: The Circle of a Year by Kerri ní Dochartaigh (Milkweed Editions, $26, 9781571311573). "A gorgeous, elegiac meditation on time, the natural world, and all the aspects of life that we can only understand through our mind's eye. Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a gifted writer and Cacophony of Bone is a joy to read." --Debra Ginsberg, DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, Calif.

Other Minds and Other Stories by Bennett Sims (Two Dollar Radio, $18.95, 9781953387356). "A perfectly unsettling collection about memory, perception, self-doubt, Hegel, and amateur chicken butchering that goes horrifically wrong. Sims masterfully explores the horror in mundane situations. Highly recommended!" --Caitlin Baker, Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash.

Ages 4 to 8
A Stone Is a Story Leslie Barnard Booth, illus. by Marc Martin (Margaret K. McElderry, $18.99, 9781534496941). "A beautiful look at where stones come from, guaranteed to spark nature walks and lots of activities--gathering stones, making up their stories, and playing geologist. A fun, educational read perfect for any story time or classroom!" --Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ages 7 to 10
The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour, illus. by Sònia Albert (Chronicle Books, $14.99, 9781797213736). "The Apartment House on Poppy Hill is such a joyful mystery! Fans of Ivy + Bean and Secret Spy Society series will surely enjoy it. I, for one, would love to live at 1106 Wildflower Place." --Jacque Izzo, Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Teen Readers
Godly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon (Wednesday Books, $20, 9781250853615). "This thoroughly queer Southern gothic gripped me from start to finish. A teenager discovers they are a reincarnated god. Add hormones, century-long feuds, high school woes, magic that shakes the earth… the resulting chaos is heavenly." --Kaitee Tredway, River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Conn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes

Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes by Chantha Nguon, Kim Green (Algonquin, $29 hardcover, 304p., 9781643753492, February 20, 2024)

Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes tells a story that is, by turns, heart-wrenching, inspiring, harrowing, and mouthwatering. Chantha Nguon's memoir, written with Kim Green, encompasses both world history and an intimate personal account. Nguon, born the youngest child in a comfortable family in Cambodia's Battambang, had nine years of soft living and good eating before Pol Pot reset time to Year Zero in the 1970s. Moving first to Saigon, where she weathered the end of the Vietnam War, and then escaping as a refugee into Thailand, Nguon gradually lost everyone she loved, ending with her mother's death when Nguon was 23. She was a food-focused young child with a mother who took cooking very seriously; she became a young refugee in peril of starvation. For Nguon, rationing or missing entirely the most basic of ingredients is not only a literal life-or-death issue but also symbolically life-altering. With the loss of her family and, to some extent, her culture, she views herself as a repository of recipes, culinary knowledge, memories, pain, and strength.

Food metaphors enrich this book, which sparkles with poignant, deeply lovely writing: "The green-fresh fragrance of young rice is as lovely and fleeting as childhood itself." Nguon's mother "taught [her] the art of rebelling as quietly as a whisper of silk." Twenty-two recipes learned from Nguon's beloved mother, or developed throughout her own accomplished cooking life, are included, with clear instructions and helpful notes on ingredients (and accompanied by a glossary for potentially unfamiliar terms). These are joined by cleverly figurative recipes, such as the recipe for silken rebellion, which begins: "Find the pockets of freedom available to you. Exploit loopholes."

By the end of the story, Nguon has transformed into an impressive woman, acting as her husband's equal (a radical concept, encouraged by her quietly rebellious mother) and a fierce advocate for social change. Nguon, who becomes a staunch feminist, eventually undertakes medical and humanitarian work with AIDS patients and sex workers, fights for education and independence for Cambodian women, and with her husband, founds the Stung Treng Women's Development Center in rural Cambodia.

Nguon's titular noodles contribute enormous metaphorical meaning. In her childhood household, slow and proper cooking was prioritized ("my mother despised the flavor of shortcuts"). In Thai refugee camps and in the Cambodian jungle, instant noodles became a prized delicacy. And by the memoir's end, this thoughtful narrator has integrated these experiences, valuing both the careful preparation of fine foods and the stark relief of basic nutrition. Slow Noodles is a rare gem of a story, gorgeously written, humble and stirring, and packed with tempting recipes. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This memoir of food, family, feminism, and Cambodian history, which includes enticing cookbook-quality recipes, is breathtaking in its emotional resonance and lovely writing.

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