Also published on this date: Wednesday January 3, 2024: Maximum Shelf: The Ritual Effect

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

HarperCollins: The Verts by Ann Patchett, Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Running Press Kids: Introducing the HOW TO SPOT series. Get a sneak peek!

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire


Ownership Change for Card Carrying Books & Gifts, Corning, N.Y.

Longtime employee Bethany Hammond is the new owner of Card Carrying Books & Gifts in Corning, N.Y. Hammond, who purchased the business November 15, told the Leader that the store "offers books for people of all ages who are looking to learn more about the ideas that are most important to them." Card Carrying Books & Gifts was opened by Sarah Blagg and Randi Hewit in 2017. Hammond has managed the shop for three years.

Randi Hewit (l.) and Bethany Hammond

"In August the previous owners were ready for the next chapter of their lives, and they offered the business to me, and it was a no brainer for me because I have poured my heart soul into this store," Hammond said. 

Coleen Fabrizi, executive director of the Corning Gaffer District, noted that it is a wonderful story when a business is taken over by a longtime employee, adding: "The bookstore is one example of that. Anytime a business is taken over by someone who has long worked there, whether it's a family member or not, it helps sustain the business in the downtown Gaffer District, which is a good thing." 

Hammond added: "We offer a lot of resources for people who are helping their children navigate through their life. We also offer a space for teens to hang out. We're more than a bookstore. All the events and everything that we have here are just really special.... 

"Merchandise varies in price from $1 to $40, and features locally sourced apparel, locally made jewelry, and other giftables that promote women-owned small businesses. In-store events vary from book clubs, poetry reading nights, trivia night and Queer Straight Alliance fundraisers."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Homeseeking by Karissa Chen

Workers at Labyrinth Books, Princeton, N.J., Look to Unionize

Workers at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, N.J., have filed a petition with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission to unionize with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, reported.

The petition was filed on December 21, and the National Labor Relations Board has proposed a union election date of January 26. Rebecca Ziemann, a Labyrinth employee who helped the staff organize, told Patch that the booksellers are "overworked and underpaid," and they want "fair wages and compensation, an official grievance process, and a say in the decisions made at the store."

Labyrinth owners Cliff Simms, Peter Sims, and Dorothea von Moltke said they "recognize the intention of our employees to unionize," and should the union vote succeed, they will "bargain in good faith for all of our employees and expect to reach a fair and acceptable contract."

Ziemann explained that while employees had been talking for years about forming a union, the process did not "begin in earnest" until workers at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., successfully unionized. Noted Ziemann: "One of our former colleagues posted the press release in our break room. A couple of days later, we got in touch with EWOC and began the unionization process."

Last May, workers at the Rutgers University store in nearby New Brunswick, N.J., which is operated by B&N Education (a separate company from Barnes & Noble), voted to join the RWDSU.

Barnes & Noble Closing Stores in NYC, Illinois with Plans to Reopen Nearby

B&N Tribeca

Two Barnes & Noble stores, in New York City and Naperville, Ill., are closing in the next few weeks. In New York, B&N is seeking a new spot nearby. In Naperville, the company is reopening in a neighboring town.

The 40,000-square-feet Tribeca store at Greenwich and Warren Streets, which opened in 2007, is closing on January 14, according to the Tribeca Citizen. In an Instagram post to customers, B&N said in part, "We've loved being a part of this neighborhood and are doing everything we can to find a new location." B&N has four other stores in Manhattan. The landlord is apparently redeveloping the space.

B&N is also closing its Naperville, Ill., store January 21, and is in the process of opening a 16,000-square-feet store and café in nearby Oswego, in the Prairie Market Shopping Center. Renovations begin this month, and the new store should open this spring, the Daily Herald reported. The Naperville store opened in 1998.

International Update: Indie Bookshops 'Stable' in U.K., Ireland; WH Smith Rebrands Some Stores

The net number of independent bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland remained stable in 2023, after several years of slowly rising totals, while new openings appeared to be "holding steady," according to Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls. In her annual letter to the trade, the Bookseller reported, Halls observed that the BA's membership numbers, which will be released in January, indicate that "bookselling is still a massively attractive career and sector," despite challenges.

Meryl Halls

While many people still plan to open indie bookshops, Halls noted that margins remain low and costs are "bearing down on SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] and large booksellers alike," and the industry must create "conditions where bookshops can thrive.... That's partly about commercial terms and ongoing supplier support for bookshop activity, but it's also about working to create trusted and creative relationships between publishers and booksellers."

Halls highlighted the importance of the supply chain and the changing "distribution landscape," which has "created concern for booksellers this year," while also noting that the role of sales reps and the "importance placed by booksellers on the tasks performed by reps was as high as it could have been, and we know from our members' experience how significant reps can be in the breaking out and building of authors, the consolidation of the publishers' retail relationships and, ultimately, the sale of books to consumers." 


British retailer WH Smith has launched a trial rebrand of the company's the logo to "WHS" at 10 locations, including Preston and York. The Guardian reported that it is "unclear whether the trial will be extended to the other 1,100 stores across the U.K. in travel and high street locations. However, it has prompted a strong reaction from customers online, many of whom are unhappy with the revamped look." Some pointed out that the new logo looks similar to the NHS (National Health Service) design.

Nick Bubb, a retailing analyst and consultant, said: "There is some logic in having a different logo for the high street stores compared to the travel stores but the S in the WHS logo should be in a different typeface so it does not look like the NHS, so the rebrand has been poorly executed."

WH Smith described the move as a small trial with no guarantee it would be expanded, the Guardian noted.


A wave of bookshops have "sprouted up across Europe with the intention of giving voice to female authors, past and present," the Guardian reported, noting that in Madrid, Spain, a 2017 crowdfunding campaign gave rise to Mujeres & Compañia, while in Berlin, Germany, She Said is dedicated to books by female and queer authors. Six years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland, Rachel Wood launched a book subscription service, Rare Birds, in an effort to champion women's writing. A bricks-and-mortar bookshop soon followed.

In Lisbon, Portugal, Greta Livraria has dedicated its small space entirely to promoting female authors. Describing the strategy as a "form of historical reparation," owner and founder Lorena Travassos said the aim is to "counter the longstanding disparities in sales and publications faced by women."

"Over and over, people tell us how exciting it feels to come into the bookstore and see every inch of shelf space devoted to women's writing," said Wood. "Visually, it's very impactful."


New Year's Eve tidings posted on Instagram by New Zealand bookseller the Next Chapter Bookshop, Wanaka: "Wishing all our friends and customers a Happy New Year, and a huge thank you for all your support in 2023. We will be closed tomorrow, 1st January 2024, and are open from 10am everyday, from Tuesday, 2nd January. We hope you have a relaxing day tomorrow and catch up on your holiday reading." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Dan Greenburg

Dan Greenburg, a prolific humorist, bestselling author, essayist, playwright and screenwriter "whose satirical prose examined Jewish angst, women and sex, and who later produced a series of humorous children's books," died December 18, the New York Times reported. He was 87.

Greenburg achieved national fame in 1964 with his book How to Be a Jewish Mother: A Very Lovely Training Manual. The Times noted that even though "his own mother didn't think it was particularly funny," the book sold more than 270,000 copies in its first year and opened the door for him to embark on a long career as a writer.

He subsequently published more than a dozen books for adults, including How to Make Yourself Miserable (1966), What Do Women Want (1982) and Scoring: A Sexual Memoir (1972). He also wrote in other genres--horror, the occult and murder mysteries--and later began writing humorous children's fiction, turning out numerous volumes of the popular The Zack Files series, for which his son was the inspiration.

Greenburg acted, performed stand-up comedy and wrote plays and movie scripts, including for the hits Private Lessons (1981) and Private School (1983). In addition, he wrote more than 150 humor pieces for the New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, Vanity Fair, and other publications. 

In 1967 he married journalist Nora Ephron, "who would find success and fame as a comedy screenwriter and director after their nine-year marriage--the first for both of them--ended in an amicable divorce," the Times wrote, adding: "They had the friendliest split one could imagine. 'When we got the divorce, we kept dating,' Mr. Greenburg said on a podcast in 2021."

Before writing his first bestseller, Greenburg had met publisher Roger Price at a party and pitched an idea for a book titled The Snob's Guide to Status Cars. Price rejected the pitch but suggested he come up with another proposal. Over lunch days later, Greenberg and Ginzburg "were lamenting how their Jewish mothers had used guilt to get them to eat," the Times noted. Greenburg thought, "I'll write that." Price liked the idea, offered a $500 advance, and How to Be a Jewish Mother was published by Price, Stern, Sloan in late 1964. The book was a hit, would go on to be published in 24 countries and made into a musical, which had a brief run on Broadway beginning in December 1967.

Greenburg began writing children's books in the mid-1990s. "I visit schools constantly," he said in an interview for the website of Harcourt Books (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) in 2006. "I talk to kids. I try out ideas on them, and I ask them what they like to read. Both boys and girls tell me they love scary stories and funny stories the best, and the boys tell me they love to be grossed out. I've tried to put all three things in these books."

He told the Times in 1998 that writing children's books had been deeply gratifying: "It's the most fun I ever had in my life," he said. "There's nothing more fulfilling than hearing that you've turned a kid on to books. That's enough for a career right there."


Bookshop Wedding: Búho

"What a way to wrap up the year!" Búho bookstore, Brownsville, Tex., posted on Instagram, along with a special wedding photo. "Búho would like to wish Ricardo & Marilyn a happy and blessed marriage after having their wedding HERE in the store!

"Interestingly, Marilyn was among our very first followers and gave Búho an incredible first impression. Almost 2 years ago, on the VERY DAY we publicly announced that we were attempting to bring a bookstore back to Brownsville, Marilyn sent us a message saying that she appreciated our mission and asked if she could join our team if there were employment opportunities available. The store was only a very small pop-up shop then, but even though the timing wasn't ideal, Búho appreciated that our goal resonated with someone even BEFORE we sold our first book!

"Imagine our joy when she took her (as of today) former fiancé Ricardo to the store this year, and they asked if it was possible to get married here. We absolutely said yes! Today's special day for them was met with an intimate but loving crowd of family & friends in the back half of the store. While being behind the wine bar to serve the attendees, I congratulated Ricardo and asked how he was feeling. He briefly but beautifully replied 'New.' We're so honored that this wholesome couple made Búho a part of their next chapter, and we wish them a long and happy life with many more memories to come!"

Personnel Changes at Dutton

Isabel DaSilva has been promoted to senior marketing manager at Dutton.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rose Previte on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Rose Previte, co-author of Maydan: Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond (Abrams Books, $40, 9781419763137).

Sherri Shepherd Show repeat: Ariana Madix, author of Single AF Cocktails: Drinks for Bad B*tches (Clarkson Potter, $26.99, 9780593796870).

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Pinky Cole, author of I Hope You Fail: Ten Hater Statements Holding You Back from Getting Everything You Want (HarperCollins, $29.99, 9781400242856).

Tamron Hall: Melissa Urban, author of The Book of Boundaries: Set the Limits That Will Set You Free (Dial Press, $20, 9780593448724).

Also on Tamron Hall: Malcolm "MJ" Harris, author of Get the F*ck Out Your Own Way: A Guide to Letting Go of the Sh*t That's Holding You Back (Legacy Lit, $30, 9780306829222).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Rachel Maddow, author of Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism (Crown, $32, 9780593444511).

Movies: Liarmouth

Filmmaker and author John Waters "might be returning to the director's chair very soon," IndieWire reported, noting that he has finished the script for Liarmouth, a film adaptation of his 2022 novel, and given it to the producers. He is currently waiting on the budget for the project.

"I've written the script and I turned it in and they like it and we're doing a budget," Waters told the Baltimore Fishbowl. "Who knows? We'll see. We'll see."

Waters will write and direct the film, while Steve Rabineau will produce. In a statement, Waters described the novel as "the craziest thing I've written in a while" and said he was "thrilled to be back in the movie business, hopefully to spread demented joy to adventuresome moviegoers around the world."

Waters also said he has no desire to retire: "I jump up every day to go to work. People say why aren't you going to retire? Because I wish I believed in another life after, but I don't. So I want to see every person, every movie, read every book, go everywhere in the world."

Books & Authors

Awards: NZ Prime Minister's for Literary Achievement

For the first time in history, women authors were the recipients in all three categories of the 2023 New Zealand Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement. Managed by Creative New Zealand, the awards were established in 2003 to honor writers selected by the Arts Council on the recommendation of an external panel of experts. This year's recipients are:

Fiction: Lee Murray, an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and horror.
Nonfiction: Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith, an academic recognized internationally for her contribution to scholarship on indigenous thought.
Poetry: Tusiata Avia, an award-winning poet and writer, known for dynamic performances of her work in Aotearoa and internationally.

"We think of 21 as a being a marker of maturity, and these writers reflect that in our literary scene," said Arts Council chair Caren Rangi. "Each of these women is fearless in different ways, through experiment with genre, theory, and form. They have been recognized because they have each forged distinctive styles in their respective areas of practice."

Reading with... Anna Smaill

photo: Natalie Smaill

Anna Smaill is the author of Bird Life (Scribe, January 2, 2024). Her first novel, The Chimes, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won best novel in the World Fantasy Awards in 2016. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, she has spent several years in Japan and the U.K., and holds a Ph.D. from the University of London. She lives on Wellington's south coast with her husband, novelist Carl Shuker, and their two children.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Bird Life is a retelling of The Magic Flute set in contemporary Tokyo. It's about grief, madness, friendship, and the redemptive power of doughnuts.

On your nightstand now:

Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell. I'm in awe of her brain. She perfectly captures the agility and sex appeal of John Donne's writing.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This is, somehow, my first time reading this novel, though I feel like I've absorbed the rhythms and plot beats through cultural osmosis. Such an incredible lesson in narrative voice.

Favorite book when you were a child:

One of my favourite authors as a child was K.M. Peyton, who wrote serious, elegant, and completely absorbing realist novels about growing up in England. I adored all of her work, but my favourite was probably The Beethoven Medal, from a series of novels about a moody, gifted, young, working-class pianist called Patrick Pennington.

Your top five authors:

Jane Austen, George Eliot, Janet Frame, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Ondaatje.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never outright claimed to have read it cover to cover, but I've definitely bluffed my way through a few conversations about James Joyce's Ulysses.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I read Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban in 2013, while in a bit of a rut with reading--and it completely rewired my brain. I felt like I was walking around with new eyes. It reminded me of the complete immersion I had in books as a kid. I always recommend it to anyone who seems a bit jaded about fiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My local secondhand bookstore used to sell used Virago Press books, with their distinctive green covers. Once I realized how consistently great the imprint was, I worked my way through at random--buying books on the basis of the green spine alone. I discovered an incredible array of women writers I would have never encountered otherwise--from Mary Cholmondeley to Storm Jameson.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents were big readers, and I used to sneak their books off the shelves long before they were age-appropriate. But the only books I actively hid from them were the Sweet Valley High novels I borrowed from the library. I remember my Dad despairing about my literary taste.  

Book that changed your life:

Not a book but a short story. At primary school, one of my teachers read "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes to the class. I was totally transfixed. I think it was the first time I consciously thought about writing as craft, and how one might set about learning it. I was completely hooked by the inevitability of the story arc and the dramatic irony of the narrative voice. I knew I wanted to find some of that power.

Favorite line from a book:

"He knew he would have to believe in order to go where she had been; knew that, if he believed, he could go there even if it didn't exist." --John Crowley, Little, Big (another book that I evangelically recommend).

Five books you'll never part with:

Two of the most precious books I own are my grandmother's copies of Love of Seven Dolls and Flowers for Mrs Harris by Paul Gallico. I used to read them when I went to stay at their house in Christchurch, and they remain the purest form of comfort. Also in the list is a copy of one of my favourite children's books: Lotta's Bike by Astrid Lindgren. She was my role model when I was a child; still is, perhaps. There's also a Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova that I received when I was 16 years old and have kept nearby ever since, and a copy of Frank Bidart's Watching the Spring Festival with the most wonderful inscription from Frank.  

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

Probably The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. How wonderful would it be to step into the limitless expanse of that world for the first time? I'm reading the Narnia series to my son at the moment, which is probably about as close as you can get to seeing it again through new eyes.

Subjects or stylistic tropes you're particularly drawn to in books:

I adore books that sustain different, possibly competing versions of the world--whether these are aesthetic, philosophical, or imaginative. I love that sensation of vertigo when the moral balance or the known reality of a novel shifts. It's something Henry James does so brilliantly. And Daphne du Maurier also. I really wanted to catch something of that intoxicating and dizzying feeling in Bird Life.  

Book Review

Children's Review: Wild Places

Wild Places: The Life of Naturalist David Attenborough by Hayley Rocco, illus. by John Rocco (Putnam, $19.99 hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9780593618097, February 6, 2024)

Hayley Rocco and John Rocco, recipient of a 2012 Caldecott Honor (Blackout; Hurricane), collaborate a second time (after How to Send a Hug) to introduce young readers to British naturalist David Attenborough. This mesmerizing picture book will likely captivate its audience with a powerful, accessible message and remarkable illustrations.

Hayley Rocco begins by describing Attenborough's experiences as a child, sharing a pivotal point in his journey to naturalist: "On one of his adventures, he broke open a rock and discovered the fossil of an ammonite inside." John Rocco's illustrations of this period in Attenborough's life show a small, dull-colored segment of city juxtaposed with larger wild spaces that are vibrant and full of life. The vivid illustrations continue as Hayley Rocco guides readers along Attenborough's educational and career paths where "understanding how the natural world worked was more important to him than studying politics, languages, or the history of queens and kings." John Rocco reverses the juxtaposition of images when the celebrated naturalist notices the cities overtaking the wild places. At this point in the book, the dull urban images dwarf the vital, natural world. This striking visual message brilliantly reinforces the Attenborough quote that accompanies it: "We are replacing the wild with the tame."

Hayley Rocco changes the voice of the narrative from third person to first when she covers Attenborough's experiences as a television host. This shift connects readers directly to her subject and his work: Attenborough isn't presenting to a nameless audience--he's giving us amazing experiences (meeting gorillas, playing with penguins, cuddling sloths). This connection mid-story works wonderfully to emphasize the importance and the personal nature of the final message, "together we can bring back the wild places."

John Rocco's art spotlights this message through double-page spreads that realistically portray humans' destructive behaviors (smog-producing factories, overfishing) on the left and the solutions Attenborough suggests on the right (wind and solar power, recovered oceans). These pencil, watercolor, and digital paint illustrations are particularly effective as the illustrator blends the polluted or barren images directly into the flourishing landscapes, allowing the gutter to be a physical barrier between the two. A variety of resources about Attenborough and what readers can do to help the planet are appended for budding conservationists who wish to answer Attenborough's call to action. Wild Places belongs in the library of any child who finds joy in the natural world. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: A wife-and-husband team introduce young readers to an acclaimed naturalist and television documentary host in a dazzling biographical picture book.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in December

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during December:

1. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Recorded Books)
4. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (Recorded Books)
5. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang (HarperAudio)
6. The Fraud by Zadie Smith (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (Recorded Books)
8. The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperAudio)
10. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Penguin Random House Audio)

1. Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney (Hachette Audio)
2. The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (Simon & Schuster Audio)
3. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. The Hundred Years' War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi (Macmillan Audio)
5. My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. The Wager by David Grann (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Doppelganger by Naomi Klein (Macmillan Audio)
8. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory by Tim Alberta (HarperAudio)
10. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Audio)

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