Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 9, 2024


Chronicle Books: Poetry Comics by Grant Snider

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

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Editors' Note

Come See Us in Cincinnati!

We hope to see many of you at the ABA's Winter Institute, which starts on Sunday in Cincinnati!

We'll have a table at the Vendor Showcase, where we'll be on hand to talk with current bookstore partners about your mailings, to walk through your data dashboard, or show you how to use your custom features. If you're not a partner yet, we can help answer questions about the free, customized marketing e-mails we offer indie bookstores that encourage customers to buy more books directly from your store.

And come pick up our special limited-edition pin!

Stop by, or set up a time to talk in Cincinnati via e-mail.


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


News

Indigo 3rd-Quarter Sales Down 12.3%; Net Income Drops

At Indigo Books & Music, revenue in the third quarter ended December 30 fell 12.3%, to C$370.6 million (about US$275.4 million), compared to the same period a year earlier, and net income dropped to C$10 million (US$7.4 million) from C$34.3 million (US$25.5 million).

The company commented: "Disruptions throughout 2023, including the ransomware attack and the premature launch of a new digital platform, negatively impacted the company's ability to serve its customers. This was most significantly felt in the online channel, which disproportionally underperformed compared to the retail network. Prevailing economic headwinds also impacted consumer spending patterns as customers continued to show price sensitivity, noted by lower full-priced sell through.

"The company recognized decreased revenue in both its general merchandise and print product lines. General merchandise suffered from a less successful product assortment, missing certain key top-selling holiday products. On the book side of the business, top-selling releases of the quarter were not as strong as last year, leading to lower sales in this category."

Indigo noted that during the third quarter, it "undertook several steps aimed at improving customer engagement and the overall economics of the business including enriching book assortment, simplifying and improving lifestyle assortment and streamlining the organization and head office workforce. Improving customer engagement and profitability is the full focus for the company."

CEO Heather Reisman said, "These results are disappointing and in no way reflect the opportunity we have with our customers. We are deeply and effectively engaged in a turnaround. I feel confident that with the current focus, we will fully reclaim our position as the booklovers' happy place, both in store and online."

Less than two weeks ago, Reisman's husband, Gerald Schwartz, who owns about 56% of the company, proposed buying Indigo and taking it private.


University of Texas Press: Loose of Earth: A Memoir by Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn


Youngsuk 'YS' Chi Elected AAP Chair

YS Chi

Youngsuk "YS" Chi, chairman of Elsevier and director of corporate affairs for the RELX Group, has been elected chair of the board of the Association of American Publishers for 2024-2025. He has served on the AAP board since 2007 and was chair from 2016 to 2017.

Chi succeeds Julia Reidhead, chairman and president of W.W. Norton, who becomes immediate past chair.

In other board news, Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins, has been elected vice-chair. He has been on the board since 2008 and was chair from 2015 to 2016. Jeremy North, managing director, books, at Taylor & Francis, was re-elected treasurer. He has served on the board since 2015.

AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante said, "The board has elected a veteran leader at an unprecedented moment for the industry. YS is deeply respected by his peers and brings decades of experience in both global publishing and global policy to the board room. We are excited to have him at the helm as we advocate for publishing houses of all sizes on IP, technology policies, and freedom of expression."

She also thanked Reidhead "for her tireless leadership during 2023. Julia's tenure was marked by a series of extraordinary challenges as well as an impressive chain of victories, including a decisive win in the case against the Internet Archive, and historic triumphs in suits challenging book bans in Texas and Arkansas."

Chi commented: "I am honored to assume the role of chairman and build on AAP's tradition of effective leadership. The AAP's crucial initiatives, from copyright protection to freedom of expression, align with my commitment to an independent and dynamic publishing industry. I look forward to collaborating with the board and AAP's talented team to navigate the challenges facing our industry, preserve foundational American principles, and contribute to the healthy development of our society."


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Skyhorse Buys Assets of All Seasons Press

Skyhorse Publishing has acquired the assets of All Seasons Press, the Florida publishing house that was founded in 2021 by the Bessent family to publish authors from across the political spectrum. Its titles include Tucker, Chadwick Moore's biography of Tucker Carlson; In Trump Time by Peter Navarro; and The Bodies of Others by Naomi Wolf. Skyhorse will immediately begin a relaunch of Chadwick Moore's book and reissue In Trump Time and The Bodies of Others in paperback with new updates.

Tony Lyons, president and publisher of Skyhorse Publishing, said, "I am thrilled to bring this impressive list of titles and authors into the Skyhorse family. All Seasons Press will become an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing and I look forward to working closely with its team to acquire and publish exciting new political, academic, and general interest books."

All Seasons Press's Scott Bessent said: "Skyhorse is the last of the great truly independent publishing companies and Tony Lyons, its publisher, has great courage, foresight and visionary business acumen. Our family looks forward to adding our future titles and finance capabilities with his expertise and unique marketing capabilities. He has perfected a firm that honors the authors and modernizes the distribution."

Distributed by Simon & Schuster, Skyhorse was launched in 2006 by Tony Lyons, former president and publisher of the Lyons Press, which was founded by his father, Nick Lyons. The company has more than 10,000 titles in print and is known for its anti-censorship stance and aim to provide a full spectrum of political, theological, cultural, and philosophical viewpoints.


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


Grand Opening for The Little Book in Des Moines, Iowa

The Little Book children's bookstore will celebrate its grand opening today at 520 Euclid Ave., Suite 102, in Des Moines, Iowa, We Are Iowa reported, adding that the event will also feature Nic Roth's mural unveiling and artist exhibition. 

Bethany Fast, co-owner of the new bookshop with her husband, David, described her life as a series of "big life shifts," including cross-country moves, major career changes, and having kids before her most recent venture. 

"There's children's sections at every bookstore, but there's not a store that's really predominantly aimed at children," Fast said. "It just felt like a niche we could fill." 

Located in the city's historic Highland Park neighborhood, the Little Book is focused on creating a "child-inclusive" space for kids and families. "As caregivers of children... it's a lot of times hard to bring them into a space and feel like it's okay for them to make noise. It's okay for them to be their loud, chaotic little selves," Fast said.

In a space that is intentionally child-focused, the "shelves don't tower over visitors, making it easier for kids and people with mobility aids to access books. When kids aren't browsing, they can sit in the reading nook or at a kid-sized craft table," We Are Iowa wrote, adding that even the bathrooms are designed for children and parents.

"We're just really trying to take the time to walk through what we go through as parents trying to wrangle kids," Fast said, adding that part of creating a child-inclusive environment is making sure every child is represented on the shelves: "We are seeing a lot of legislation and, you know, laws being put into place that really are affecting children in a big way in a way that they don't get a say in.... All kids and all families can come in and see themselves on the shelves, see themselves in the employees, see themselves in the art and feel like it's a place where they can be safe and be comfortable and be celebrated." 


International Update: Parliamentary Book Award Winners; Spanish Reading, Buying Habits in 2023

This year's Parliamentary Book Awards were announced earlier this week in a presentation at the Houses of Parliament in London. Curated by bookshops and voted for by parliamentarians, the awards were established by the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association to champion the best political writing in the U.K. and to recognize the important link between the worlds of politics and publishing. This year's winning titles are:

Nonfiction/fiction by a parliamentarian: The Winding Stair by Jesse Norman
Memoir/autobiography by a parliamentarian: Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad: A Family Memoir of Miraculous Survival by Daniel Finkelstein 
Political book by a non-parliamentarian: Planes, Trains and Toilet Doors: 50 Places That Changed British Politics by Matt Chorley

"We're delighted to see such a phenomenal range of books winning these prestigious awards," said BA managing director Meryl Halls. "Topics covered by the winning titles include the battle for power, personal experiences during the Second World War, and insider knowledge about how politics actually happens. Big congratulations to both the winning and the shortlisted writers for their insightful and exceptional books."
 
PA CEO Dan Conway commented: "Congratulations to this year's well-deserved winners. These books show the extent of the quality political writing we have here in the U.K.--a genre which will only become more pertinent as we settle into an election year. We were delighted to welcome parliamentarians, authors, publishers, and booksellers to the Houses of Parliament to celebrate these important works and the longstanding link between publishing and politics."
 
--- 

The Barometer of Reading and Buying Habits of Books in Spain 2023, a study carried out by the Federation of Editors' Guilds of Spain, shed light on the reading habits of the country's population, the European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported. According to the study, the number of readers has increased by 5% since 2012--from 59.1% to 64.1%--with the highest reading rate among 14- to 24-year-olds, at 74%. 

The bad news is that "more than a third of the population (36%) turns their back on reading," Newsflash added, noting that 44% argue the lack of time to read, 29.7% explain that they have no interest in books, and 31.1% prefer to do other activities; with 39.9% of this segment giving a reason related to screens--smartphones, television and streaming platforms.

--- 

Sally Rippin

The Australian Children's Laureate Foundation has named Sally Rippin the Australian Children's Laureate for 2024-25, Books+Publishing reported. Rippin has written more than 100 books for children and young adults, including the series Billie B Brown, Hey Jack!, Polly & Buster, and School of Monsters, as well as the adult nonfiction book Wild Things: How We Learn to Read and What Can Happen if We Don't, focusing on helping neurodivergent children to read.

The mission for Rippin's term is that "all kids can be readers through which she plans to work towards creating public awareness around learning difficulties, as well as effective practice in teaching children to read," ACLF noted.

"All adults need to take responsibility for young people to ensure no child is left behind when it comes to reading--and explore other ways for children to learn if traditional methods aren't working," said Rippin.

---

The French Institute in India plans to introduce "French Corners" in select bookshops across the subcontinent, in alignment with its ongoing commitment to foster cultural exchange and cultivate a deeper appreciation for French literary traditions among India's diverse readership. Called "Pardon My French," the curated space will feature a diverse selection of contemporary and classic French literature translated into English and various Indian languages. 

The Dogears Bookshop in Margão noted: "We are thrilled to be counted as one of the 5 bookshops to host the first installment of the 'Pardon My French' corners in India. For this, we are grateful to the Alliance Française, Panjim, for its part in initiating this project here in Goa." --Robert Gray


Vince Annoreno Retiring from PRH; Tina Ruppert & Ryne Barrall Promoted

Vince Annoreno, senior v-p for distribution in Maryland, at Penguin Random House, will retire on October 1 after more than 35 years with the company.

Vince Annoreno

"Our publishers, vendors, booksellers, facilities colleagues, and I could not ask for a more supportive partner than Vince has been, since his youthful days with the then-Bantam Books warehouse in Des Plaines, Ill.," wrote Annette Danek, executive v-p and chief supply chain officer.

"Moving to Maryland in 1999, he led us through the pioneering integration of the Random House and Bantam Doubleday Dell distribution operations, and countless game-changing transitions and upgrades since then. Day after day, year after year, his commitment to excellence and to getting it right--with busy seasons, bad roads, and bad weather--has ensured the accuracy and efficiency of the company's book deliveries to many generations of customers worldwide."

Succeeding Annoreno is Tina Ruppert, who is being promoted to v-p, distribution, for Maryland. Ruppert has been Annoreno's "number two for more than 19 of her 42 years with us," Danek noted, and she "has been an essential player in upgrading systems, implementing new technologies, integrating new businesses and clients, expanding our facilities to support physical business, as well as leading the co-workers who comprise the team of more than 1,200 active employees across six work shifts. Her leadership approach emulates Vince, and his capacity to lead by example, and with compassion for each individual."

Ryne Barrall, meanwhile, is being promoted to v-p, industrial engineering, facilities, and maintenance. Barrall has been with PRH for 13 years and "worn many hats." Danek wrote, "He has supervised the construction of over 500,000 square feet of additional space in the Maryland and Indiana facilities, installed miles of conveyor and the supporting control systems, implemented state-of-the-art material handling systems, elevated our Health and Safety program, and safely brought us through a pandemic."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Juneteenth Cookbook:
Recipes and Activities for Kids
and Families to Celebrate
by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod
illus. by Sawyer Cloud
GLOW: becker&mayer! kids:  The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Black U.S. history is dynamically showcased through food, drink, crafts, games, and music playlists in The Juneteenth Cookbook, an interactive recipe book by Alliah L. Agostini and chef Taffy Elrod. Each section encourages children to honor--and taste!--the significance of emancipation through traditional flavors found in their recipes for items like Freedom Fizz, Mac 'N' Please, and Sweet Potato Pie Bars. Cara Donaldson, group managing editor at the Quarto Group, says this fusion of history with foodie passion has "cracked open the door for innovation" and gives kids "the nudge they need to be creative." Agostini and Elrod's text mixed with Sawyer Cloud's vivacious illustrations make for a cookbook that encourages intergenerational celebration, storytelling, and fellowship. --Rachel Werner

(becker&mayer! kids, $19.99 hardcover, ages 8-12, 9780760385791, April 2, 2024)

CLICK TO ENTER


#ShelfGLOW
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Notes

Image of the Day: Cheering for the Home Team

Staff at Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City, Mo., were poised to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday's Super Bowl.


Chalkboard: Fables and Fairy Tales

A pre-Valentine's Day celebration of indie love: "This Saturday, February 10th is our 'LOVE LOCAL' celebration. Show your love for small, businesses and your love for our community by supporting your local area small businesses," Fables and Fairy Tales, Martinsville, Ind., posted on Facebook along with the bookshop's "Love Local: Shop Local" sidewalk chalkboard message. 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Uché Blackstock, M.D., on Science Friday

Today:
NPR's Science Friday: Uché Blackstock, M.D., author of Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine (Viking, $28, 9780593491287).


TV: A Gentleman in Moscow

Showtime has released first look photos and a premiere date announcement teaser video have been released for A Gentleman in Moscow, the highly anticipated upcoming series based on the 2016 novel by Amor Towles. Vanity Fair reported that the limited-series adaptation, starring Ewan McGregor in the title role, will premiere March 29 on Paramount+ With Showtime, "which mounts Amor Towles's novel on an expansive, sumptuous scale."

Adapted by Ben Vanstone (The Last Kingdom) and largely directed by Emmy nominee Sam Miller (I May Destroy You), the project stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ahsoka, Kate, Birds of Prey), Alexa Goodall (The Devil's Hour, Lockwood and Co.), Johnny Harris (Without Sin, This Is England '86), and Fehinti Balogun (Dune, I May Destroy You). 

Additional cast includes Leah Harvey (Foundation), Paul Ready (Motherland, The Terror), John Heffernan (Becoming Elizabeth, The Pursuit of Love), Lyès Salem (Coupez, Abou Leila), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Lamb, The Witcher), Dee Ahluwalia (Consent, Sex Education), and Anastasia Hille (I Hate Suzie Too).

A Gentleman in Moscow is produced by Lionsgate Television in association with Paramount. Ben Vanstone serves as executive producer and showrunner on the series, with Tom Harper also executive producing alongside McGregor, Sharon Hughff, Pancho Mansfield, Moonriver TV's Xavier Marchand, and Towles. 


Books & Authors

Awards: SoA Translation Winners

Nine literary translators and one editor were awarded prizes at this year's Society of Authors' Translation Prizes. Along with the runners-up, they shared a prize fund of £28,000 (about $35,330) in awards, which were presented for translations into English from Swedish, French, Spanish, Arabic, and German as well as the TA First Translation Prize for a translation from Dutch. Check out the complete list of SoA Translation winners here.

Alison Watts won the inaugural Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Prize for translation from Japanese for her translation of The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase. Commenting on the winning translation, judge Nozomi Abe said, "Everyone, please read this English translation and keep a handkerchief nearby."

Translator Sophie Collins and editor Marigold Atkey won the TA First Translation Prize for The Opposite of a Person by Lieke Marsman.


Reading with... Jo Salas

photo: Dion Ogust

Jo Salas is a New Zealand-born writer of fiction and nonfiction who now lives in upstate New York. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She is a cofounder, performer, and chronicler of the interactive Playback Theatre. Her biographical novel Mrs. Lowe-Porter (JackLeg Press, February 1, 2024) tells the story of writer and translator Helen Lowe-Porter.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Mrs. Lowe-Porter reimagines the life of the brilliant woman who translated Nobel Prize-winner Thomas Mann's work, and her struggle to assert her own voice.

On your nightstand now:

Dancing at the Edge of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin; Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe; The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright; The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell; Our Strangers by Lydia Davis; Damion Searls's new translation of Thomas Mann's short stories; Moby-Dick by Herman Melville; How to Stand Up to a Dictator by Maria Ressa.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My mother read Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre to me and my sisters when I was eight or nine. I've read it every couple of years since then, loving Jane's spiritedness, independence, intelligence, self-respect, and the authenticity of her relationship with her lover. It never seemed like just a romance to me. When the pandemic hit, I immersed myself in the book again and found comfort.

Another book that I loved as a kid was The Black Riders by Violet Needham, set in an imagined European country, about an idealistic revolutionary movement. It featured a striking character called Far Away Moses, full of gentleness and wisdom. I'm currently reading an extremely dilapidated copy to my grandson.

Your top five authors:

Sigrid Nunez, Maggie O'Farrell, George Saunders, Rabih Alameddine, Alice Munro. (But also Jane Gardam, Grace Paley, Rumer Godden. Then there are my favorite nonfiction writers!)

Book you've faked reading:

I don't think I've ever faked reading, but I've sometimes failed to finish books that I think I should read. Right now I'm struggling through Moby-Dick, and I fear that I might skip to the ending.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Recently, Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn, an astonishing, poetically written account of damaged places around the world that are coming back to life in surprising ways, which may or may not spell hope for our planet.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I admire beautiful front-cover designs, but they never persuade me to buy the book. Instead, I turn it over to see what it's about and who blurbed it. Plain covers sometimes encase beautiful books, like This Little Art by Kate Briggs, which is about translation. The publisher, Fitzcarraldo, uses the same severe design for all their books.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents disapproved of Enid Blyton, who was very popular at the time of my childhood. They thought she was an inferior writer, and she probably was, but she was an exciting storyteller. I still remember suspenseful moments from The Secret Seven and The Famous Five.

Book that changed your life:

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. I was a 21-year-old mother and wife when I found it in a bookstore. I remember my hand trembling as I took it off the shelf. I knew it would shake up my world.

Favorite line from a book:

"The forest on this ridge is oak and maple, and a mist of yellow leaves softens the ravine sides all around: on a golden wind comes a rich humus smell of autumn."

From The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. I could have chosen almost any sentence from this exquisite book about a pilgrimage to the high Himalayas.

Five books you'll never part with:

Books signed by writers whom I know personally are precious. One is The Story of Jane by Laura Kaplan. I was in a writers' group with her when she was working on this account of the underground network of ordinary women who provided abortions before Roe v. Wade--sadly, all too relevant again. Another is It Has No Sound and Is Blue by my fellow New Zealander and distinguished poet Dinah Hawken.

There are a few irreplaceable books from my childhood that I'll keep forever, like The Children of Primrose Lane by Noel Streatfeild, set during World War II. For my 14th birthday, my grandparents gave me a leather-bound copy of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. My grandfather's inscription in his thick-nibbed fountain pen feels like a link between us.

A more recent treasure is the The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, a gorgeously illustrated "spellbook" of nature words that have been evicted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary--acorn, ivy, lark, replaced with words like blog and voicemail.

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

Diana Athill's trenchant memoir Somewhere Towards the End, about aging. I loved the book when I first read it, and it's more relevant as I grow older. Athill has a distinctive voice--informal, honest, and elegant.

Book you'd never heard of that turned out to be wonderful:

The All of It by Jeannette Haien. I was intrigued by the brief description on BookBub, and for $1.99 I took a chance on it. It's set in Ireland, a story within a story that's very simple in its contours--a priest listens to a bereaved woman describing her life--but lyrical and urgent. I quickly became absorbed in it without noting the author and was surprised to realize that it was not an Irish man, as I'd imagined, but an American woman.


Book Review

Review: Slouch: Posture Panic in Modern America

Slouch: Posture Panic in Modern America by Beth Linker (Princeton University Press, $29.95 hardcover, 392p., 9780691235493, April 9, 2024)

With an entertaining narrative focus on the individuals responsible for a decades-long "poor posture epidemic" that began in the early 20th century, Slouch: Posture Panic in Modern America by Beth Linker revisits a largely forgotten period in U.S. history when the "social contagion" of poor posture was treated with the same seriousness as deadly communicable diseases.

A cultural historian as well as a historian of medicine and disability, Linker's interest in what she has termed the poor posture epidemic began with a 1995 media scandal. That year, a New York Times Magazine article announced the existence of thousands of nude photographs, including those of prominent public figures, at the Smithsonian archives. The photos, available for public viewing, were taken decades earlier when the pictured individuals were university students. Apparently, for much of the 20th century, many U.S. universities mandated that their students undergo an annual physical exam, including a posture evaluation. Since the 1995 exposé and the subsequent destruction of photo archives, there hasn't been anything written on the subject, until now.

Slouch charts the complex arc of the epidemic, and how it attracted a wide array of professionals in medicine and education, and "health culturists" such as Joseph Pilates, who advised clients to improve their deportment by placing a book on their heads, and by sitting cross-legged like "those people of the East." The "Harvard slouch" report and studies by military and public health agencies showed that slouching was rampant in America, prompting panic that the country's future leaders would end up chronically ill or permanently disabled. The desire of young women to adopt the fashionable "debutante slouch" didn't help the cause of crusaders like Jessie Bancroft, founder of the American Posture League, and orthopedist Joel E. Goldthwait, who contended that slouching predisposed a person "to tuberculosis, nervous disease, acute mental disorder... and many intestinal disorders."

Scattered throughout Slouch are the fruits of Linker's deep archival research, including reproduced public health advertisements intimating that standing straight not only reduced the likelihood of disease, it also signified health, youthful vitality, upright character, and sexual chasteness. Looking ahead, Linker (War's Waste: Rehabilitation in World War I America) connects the poor posture panic to present-day "noninfectious epidemics" such as the 21st-century preoccupation with obesity, ADHD, and diabetes.

Slouch is a skillfully researched, engrossing account of a socially engineered epidemic that captured the public imagination for the better part of a century. --Shahina Piyarali

Shelf Talker: This entertaining cultural history delves into a largely forgotten period when a poor posture epidemic led to mandatory posture evaluations of college students in the United States.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Super Swift Valentine's Day for the Books

This Valentine's Day, let's trade chocolates for a book, immersing ourselves in a world where our love story continues to unfold.

--The Last Chapter Book Shop, Chicago, Ill., in "a love letter to all romance book lovers."

If April is the cruelest month, maybe February is the strangest. Super Bowl Sunday in Las Vegas this year, for example, has been bookended by an ongoing football/music-themed love story (Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift) and Valentine's Day. Swift took home the hardware at the Grammys (album of the year) last week, while Kelce hopes to add to the collection after the big game this weekend. 

In addition, not only has Swift announced that her next album will be titled The Tortured Poets Department (Dog Ear Books, Russellville, Ark., already has its own version), featuring a bonus track called "The Manuscript" and bookmark merch, but Las Vegas is booking bets on whether Swift will make it back to Vegas from her Tokyo concert in time for the big game. NBC's Today show is even recommending "Football romance books to feed your Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce obsession."

The Arkansas Times reported that every Tuesday for 10 weeks, starting March 12, Paper Hearts in Little Rock "will host a course that includes topics intersecting Swift's discography and literary classics. Viktoria Capek, a former journalist, experienced storyteller and avid Swiftie, will teach the class alongside Paper Hearts staff.... In addition to the materials for all the discussions, participants will also receive exclusive 'Dear Reader' merch and 13% off at Paper Hearts for the duration of the course. Everyone involved will also join into a "new, dazzling community of Swifties and book lovers," Paper Hearts announced on Instagram."

At Harvey's Tales

Harvey's Tales, Geneva. Ill., has its game face on: "The Super Bowl is this Sunday and we have gathered together some books for our football fans. We'd love for you to comment if you're more excited about the game or watching the commercials. Did You Know? In 2024, advertisers are paying an average of seven million U.S. dollars to air a 30-second-long commercial during the Super Bowl LVIII broadcast."

The other bookend is Valentine's Day next Wednesday. Indie bookseller favorites like Blind Date with a Book and Galentine's Day are popular options, and many indies have come up with cool ideas to complement their book selections, without help from Swifties or the Super Bowl, including:

Paper Boat Booksellers, Seattle, Wash.: "Bring a book that you adore and sway us with your words! That's this month's Book Swap theme and an open invitation to choose any book you'd like which makes it all the more fun!"

The Island Bookshop, Venice, Fla.: "Tomorrow is the downtown chocolate walk! We will be serving chocolate wine (yum) and offering delicious one of a kind gourmet chocolates! An event not to miss!!!! See you downtown! The weather is gorgeous!"

Inklings Childrens Books, Waitsfield, Vt.: "Come and join this Thursday at 3PM with Salt & Sand Studios! They'll help children create one-of-a-kind glass images for Valentine's Day!!"

At Athena Books, Old Greenwich, Conn.

lala books, Lowell, Mass.: "Did you know your Date with Your Shelf ticket automatically enters you in our raffles? We'll be drawing a prize winner every half hour."

The Literary bookbar, Champaign, Ill.: "If the prospect of games, and meeting fellow singles, polys, pals, and other cool bookish people isn't enough for ya--Gillian Gabriel will also be doing Tarot Readings! Mark our Valentine's social on your calendar--this Saturday at 7pm!"

Stacks Book Club, Oro Valley, Ariz.: "Join us for another day of bookish tattoos in the stacks!... Appointments are limited. If you're interested, you can choose from one of the custom flash designs shown here. Each tattoo can be done in black and red, or all black. Designs are repeatable, arms & legs only, with no changes."

At Thunder Road Books, Spring Lake, N.J.

Booksellers' Valentine's Day is celebrated in other parts of the world, too. Here's a sampling:

Ekta Books, Thapathali, Kathmandu, Nepal, is hosting its second edition of "Valentine's Day Bookstore Date 2.0," a week-long celebration of love, literature and togetherness in the form of a scavenger hunt, the Kathmandu Post reported. Other highlights include a poetry recital and open mic session; a movie screening; bookmaking, painting/drawing on mini canvases and cookie decorating.

Analog Books, Lethbridge, Alb., Canada: "Looking for the ideal Valentine's gift for your book-loving partner? We have the perfect idea, Datenight at the Bookstore. Enjoy a Candlelight Wine & Charcuterie setting within your own private area of the store." 

Westbourne Bookshop, Bournemouth, England: "HAPPY VALENTINE'S EVERYONE! We've got something for everyone in this year's windows. Tragical romances. Will they, won't they? Stories. True love matches."

Kings Co-op Bookstore, Halifax, N.S., Canada: "Not looking forward to Valentine's day? Pick up a copy of Ivana Sajko's Love Novel and get some anti-valentines featuring quotes from the book along with pins for the two characters, a failed Dante scholar and a passable actress."

At Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md.

In his 1973 novel North Dallas Forty, former NFL player Peter Gent described football this way: "There's no greater display of everything that's magnificent about sport in America and everything that's wrong with culture in America." 

But an appreciation of the absurd coupled with a momentary suspension of disbelief are key ingredients for enjoying the Super Bowl, the Taylor Swift Effect, and even Valentine's Day. Especially in a year when the three seem braided together like (dare I say it?) a friendship bracelet.

Perspective is taking a well-earned week off. Love is in the air.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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