Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 9, 2024

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


Jack's Books Coming to Florence, S.C.

Colton Cauthen outside the future home of Jack's Books.

Jack's Books, a new and used bookstore with a general-interest inventory, is coming to downtown Florence, S.C., later this year, the Post and Courier reported.

Store owner Colton Cauthen hopes to have the bookstore up and running by the end of 2024. He noted that Florence has been without a bookstore for years, and eventually he "had an epiphany. Instead of complaining about not having one, maybe I should try to do something about it."

Cauthen announced his plans for Jack's Books in April and was amazed by the enthusiasm. "I am blown away by the response over the past 24 hours since announcing Jack's Books," Cauthen wrote in a Facebook post. "What an exceptional community. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share it and to express your excitement and support!"

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Gatsby Books, Long Beach, Calif., to Close

Gatsby Books, Long Beach, Calif., will be closing this summer. In a message to customers posted on the store's website and social media accounts, owner Sean Moor wrote: "After 14 beautiful years, Gatsby Books is saying goodbye. Over the next couple of months, we'll be selling everything--even the bookcases! So make a point of stopping in to say goodbye and pick up some awesome books at unbeatable prices"

Moor added: "On behalf of our booksellers Edward, Mary, Danny, and Ruby the bookstore cat, we are wholeheartedly grateful for the love and community support that has made Gatsby Books the Literary Heart of Long Beach! We will miss you all. When one door closes, another opens."

The bookstore opened "near the corner of Spring and Bellflower at a time when Long Beach, a city long known for its used bookstores, was losing many of its iconic locations," the Long Beach Post noted. "After the closure of Acres of Books in 2008, the arrival of Moor's Gatsby was a shot in the arm for the Long Beach literary community. Moor hosted innumerable readings and other events and became a true hub for writers in the city."

International Update: Italy's President on Bookshops; RISE Bookseller Exchange Report

Sergio Mattarella

President Sergio Mattarella recently issued an appeal to save Italy's cinemas and bookstores "amid dwindling audience attendances and fewer in-presence book customers due to online competition," ANSA reported. 

Speaking at the presentation of the David di Donatello film awards, Mattarella said movie theaters continue to suffer, even after Covid, and there are many cities that no longer have accessible venues. "It is an issue that present evident social effects and cannot be considered solely from the commercial standpoint. Movie theatres are a meeting place." 

On preserving bookstores, he noted that "with the same commitment to assuring the constant vitality of the civic fabric, bookshops must be preserved and attention must be placed on those artistic and entertainment sectors that present to more limited audiences but express content of high value and quality." 

Mattarella also observed: "Great attention must be given in particular to the expression of young artists, who must try, experiment and therefore get experience and grow. The entry of new generations produces new richness. It expresses freedom, that freedom to be ensured also to those who do not share our tastes, to those who think differently."


Earlier this year, Australian bookseller Amy McKinnon, book fair manager at the Where the Wild Things Are bookshop in Brisbane, traveled to the U.S. as part of the RISE Booksellers Exchange Program to spend time at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill. She described her experience as "the most wonderful week of learning and sharing" in a recent issue of BookPeople's e-newsletter, noting that it "truly reinforced why I love working in bookselling so much."

McKinnon wrote: "Anderson's has fostered an incredibly strong place in the community, running book launches for some of the world's largest authors (hosting more than 7,000 people for Stephen King!), community events, supporting schools, libraries, and local charities. I spent my week at Anderson's in awe of their capacity to scale their business, rival non-independent competitors and stay true to their core values and the spirit of independent bookselling.

"My time at Anderson's was primarily to learn about their book fair business. Anderson's Book Fair Company runs over 300 (!) book fairs each year. Anyone that has run a book fair before can probably imagine what a logistical nightmare this is. In order to facilitate the scale of their business, Anderson's business is complete with trucks, a dedicated warehouse and staff.

"I learnt a lot during my week in Naperville. From information sessions with local teachers, to experiencing their events firsthand, to one-on-one meetings with most of her staff, Becky Anderson (Anderson's owner) was incredibly kind and generous with her time."


Artist, author, and illustrator Angela Harding is the designer of this year's Books Are My Bag Limited-Edition Bag, which will be available exclusively in bookshops across the U.K. and Ireland beginning on Bookshop Day, October 12, sponsored by the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland. 
Harding has received commissions from most of the U.K.'s major publishers, including illustrating Simon Armitage's collection of poems, Blossomise, and creating an illustrated version of Isabella Tree's bestselling book, Wilding. Her books include A Year Unfolding (2021), Wild Light (2022), and the forthcoming Still Waves & Wild Waters (September 2024).

"I hope book buyers and sellers alike will enjoy this otter design I have done for Books Are My Bag, which I was honored to have been asked to do," Harding said.
Emma Bradshaw, the BA's head of campaigns, commented: "We've been asked by numerous Booksellers Association members to invite Angela to design a Limited-Edition Bag for us, so we were thrilled when she agreed to do so. We know that booksellers and book-lovers alike will be delighted by her beautiful design and keen to get their hands on the bags." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton, a British-born, secular Jewish psychologist turned journalist and author "whose curiosity about faith and religion led her to write biographies of Muhammad, Mary and Jezebel and examine her own passions in books about agnosticism and automobiles," died April 29, the New York Times reported. She was 78.

Hazleton announced her death in an e-mail she had scheduled to be sent to friends after she died. She took her own life, as Washington State's Death with Dignity Act allowed her to do legally, with the assistance of hospice volunteers.

"Yes, this is a goodbye letter," she wrote, "which is difficult for me, because as many of you know, I'm lousy at saying goodbye.... I've been a pro-choice feminist for over six decades, so it should come as no surprise that I'll be exercising choice in this, too. I'm experiencing an unexpected but wonderfully bearable lightness of being. Not a sad feeling of saying goodbye to life, but one of joy and amazement at how great it's been. And of immense gratitude. I truly have had the time of my life. In fact, it sometimes feels like I've managed to live several lives in this one."

Hazleton covered the complex state of feminism in Israel in her first book, Israeli Women: The Reality Behind the Myths (1977). She left Israel for New York in 1979, six months after the Camp David Accords, "exhausted by the constant high level of tension and drama there," she wrote in the Times in 1986, in the long-running column Hers, to which she was a regular contributor. 

She began driving race cars and embarked on a career as a car columnist, first for Lear's magazine and then for the Detroit Free Press. "Perhaps as a writer, I place too much faith in catharsis, in the idea that by describing and exploring the obsession with speed that began that fine spring day in Vermont, I can drive it out of me," she wrote in Confessions of a Fast Woman (1992). "The trouble is, I'm still not sure if I really want to do that."

Describing her as "fearless and irreverent," author Pico Iyer said in an interview. "I felt to a striking degree she held to no orthodoxies. She was full-throated in a liberating way."

Hazleton was deeply affected by her time in the Middle East and wrote often about its complicated ancient history, including the books Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother (2004) and Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen (2007). She explored the roots of the Shia-Sunni branches of Islam in After the Prophet (2009), and Muhammad in The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad (2013). She also examined her own beliefs in her last book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto (2016).

In her 2016 TEDx talk "What's wrong with dying?", Hazleton said, "Our ability to die, our mortality, is a defining part of what it is to be human. We are finite beings within infinity. And if we are alive to this, it sharpens our appreciation of the fact that we exist. Gives new depth to the idea of life as a journey. So my mortality does not negate meaning; it creates meaning. Because it's not how long I live that matters--it's how I live. And I intend to do it well, to the end."


Image of the Day: Park Road Books Hosts Mystery Authors

Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C., hosted a mystery event featuring Kensington authors (l.) Amanda Flower (To Slip the Bonds of Earth) and (r.) Colleen Cambridge (A Murder Most French), moderated by local author Allie Pleiter (It Came Upon a Midnight Shear, Berkley).


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular April Books

The two most popular books in April at Reading Group Choices were Willkie Sprint: A Story of Friendship, Love, and Winning the First Women's Little 500 Race by Kerry Hellmuth (Indiana University Press) and The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians by James Patterson and Matt Eversmann (Little, Brown).

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins Children's Books

Jenny Lu has joined HarperCollins Children's Books as publicity manager. She was previously senior publicist at Union Square & Co.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tiffany Haddish on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Jennifer Hudson Show: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Indulge: Delicious and Decadent Dishes to Enjoy and Share (Harvest, $35, 9780063244726).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Tiffany Haddish, author of I Curse You with Joy (Diversion Books, $28.99, 9781635769531).

This Weekend on Book TV: Johann Hari on Magic Pill

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, May 11
2 p.m. Lauren K. Thompson, author of Friendly Enemies: Soldier Fraternization throughout the American Civil War (University of Nebraska Press, $30, ‎ 9781496233394).

Sunday, May 12
8 a.m. Antonia Novello, co-author of Duty Calls: Lessons Learned From an Unexpected Life of Service (Fulcrum Publishing, $19.99, 9781682754467). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Mike Gonzalez and Katharine Gorka, authors of NextGen Marxism: What It Is and How to Combat It (‎Encounter, $32.99, 9781641773539). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

10 a.m. Johann Hari, author of Magic Pill: The Extraordinary Benefits and Disturbing Risks of the New Weight-Loss Drugs (Crown, $30, 9780593728635). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Jonna Mendez, author of In True Face: A Woman's Life in the CIA, Unmasked (‎PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541703124).

Books & Authors

Awards: Joyce Carol Oates Winner

Ben Fountain has won the 2024 Joyce Carol Oates Prize, sponsored by the New Literary Project and honoring "a mid-career author of fiction in the midst of a burgeoning career, a distinguished writer who has emerged and is still emerging." The award has a $50,000 prize, and Fountain will spend a brief residence at the University of California, Berkeley, and in the Bay Area, where he may give public readings and talks, teach classes, and make appearances.

Fountain is the author of Devil Makes Three (Flatiron, 2023) and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, 2012), which was adapted for film by Oscar winner Ang Lee. His short stories and nonfiction have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Harper's, the Paris Review, Esquire, the Guardian, Le Monde (France), Reporto Sexto Piso (Mexico), and Intranqui'illites (Haiti), among others.

Oates commented in part, "Ben Fountain writes in the great tradition of such predecessors as Joseph Conrad, Graham Green, Robert Stone and Russell Banks: richly detailed portraits of individuals whose public and private lives conjoin, often with tragic results. His work, like theirs, is fundamentally moral, even visionary; saturated with irony, yet not devoid of sympathy."

Megan Lynch, senior v-p and publisher, Flatiron Books, said that Fountain's "rich, finely-tuned, often quite funny and deeply moral work interrogates America and Americans' place in the world in a manner that has become all the more prescient as his career progresses. His fiction is bold and emotionally charged but wrought with all the care of a master craftsman. Across short stories, trenchant satire, and expansive plots, Ben's work shows his commitment to humanity in all its expansiveness and his deep respect for real knowledge, even in a world that would have us turn away from both of these things. I'm consistently astonished by the profundity of Ben's literary imagination and his devotion to being a fiction writer in conversation with a larger community. I’m beyond excited that he has been recognized with this richly deserved honor."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 14:

Think Twice by Harlan Coben (Grand Central, $30, 9781538756317) is the 12th thriller featuring sports agent Myron Bolitar.

The Situation Room: The Inside Story of Presidents in Crisis by George Stephanopoulos (Grand Central, $35, 9781538740767) explores six decades of situations in the White House Situation Room.

Chasing Hope: A Reporter's Life by Nicholas D. Kristof (Knopf, $32, 9780593536568) is a memoir by the New York Times columnist and reporter.

The Shadow of War: A Novel of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Jeff Shaara (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250279965) imagines the perspectives of historical figures during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This Strange Eventful History: A Novel by Claire Messud (W.W. Norton, $29.99, 9780393635041) follows several generations of French colonists in Algeria.

All Fours: A Novel by Miranda July (Riverhead, $29, 9780593190265) follows an artist running away from her family.

When Among Crows by Veronica Roth (Tor, $19.99, 9781250855480) is a fantasy novella inspired by Slavic folklore.

Finding Things by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow, $19.99, 9780063245662) is a picture book about discovery and making new friends.

Camp Sylvania: Moon Madness by Julie Murphy and Crystal Maldonado (Balzer + Bray, $18.99, 9780063347267) features Maggie and Nora from Camp Sylvania surviving yet another concerning camp situation--but this time it's werewolves.

Challenger: A True Story of Heroism and Disaster on the Edge of Space by Adam Higginbotham (Avid Reader Press, $35, 9781982176617) is by the author of Midnight in Chernobyl.

Quanta and Fields: The Biggest Ideas in the Universe by Sean M. Carroll (Dutton, $26, 9780593186602) unravels the profoundest secrets of observable reality.

Down with the System: A Memoir (of Sorts) by Serj Tankian (Hachette Books, $30, 9780306831928) is by the lead singer of rock band System of a Down.

The Dixon Rule by Elle Kennedy (Bloom Books, $17.99, 9781728260723).

The Stellar Debut of Galactica MacFee by Alexander McCall Smith (Vintage, $16.99, 9780593688298).

The Honey Witch by Sydney J. Shields (Redhook, $18.99, 9780316568869).

The House That Horror Built by Christina Henry (Berkley, $18, 9780593638217).

My Darling Dreadful Thing: A Novel by Johanna van Veen (Poisoned Pen Press, $17.99, 9781728281544).

Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons, edited by Premeet Sidhu, Marcus Carter, and Jose P. Zagal (The MIT Press, $35, 9780262547604).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Ocean's Godori by Elaine U. Cho (Zando-Hillman Grad Books, $28, 9781638930594). "Elaine Cho articulates delicate, intergalactic celebrity politics and the nuances of queerness and racism in this incredible space opera, where we follow Ocean and her found-family crew setting off from a distant-future Korea." --Devon Overley, Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Darling Girls: A Novel by Sally Hepworth (St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250284525). "Sally Hepworth has masterfully crafted another suspense about families, secrets, lies, and love. Three foster sisters struggle to deal with their horrific past when a child's bones are found under the foster home where they grew up." --Sharon Davis, Book Bound Bookstore, Blairsville, Ga.

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradal (Penguin Books, $18, 9781984881090). "J. Ryan Stradal captures so much about small town life and families in his stories. Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club was like sitting down at The Club back in my hometown. There's comfort and delicious food on every page." --Terri LeBlanc, Swamp Fox Bookstore, Marion, Iowa

Ages 4 to 8
Penelope's Balloons by Brooke Bourgeois (Union Square Kids, $18.99, 9781454951827). "This is a sweet story about holding on tight to our comfort objects as we learn to make friends and explore the world beyond our immediate circle. A great read aloud for the animal loving littles in your life." --Megan Strang, Sidetrack Bookshop, Royal Oak, Mich.

Ages 7 to 10: An Indies Introduce Title
The Wishkeeper's Apprentice by Rachel Chivers Khoo, illus. by Rachel Sanson (Candlewick, $16.99, 9781536231205). "One wish opens up a world that Felix never knew was all around him, and he becomes the apprentice of the local Wishkeeper. Together they fight against the Wishsnatchers to save the joy of their little town. An adorable story of magic, wishes, and family." --Andi Richardson, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

Teen Readers
Your Blood, My Bones by Kelly Andrew (Scholastic, $19.99, 9781338885071). "A spellbinding journey into the depths of loyalty, fate, and the shadows that lurk within us all. Andrew's tale is as enchanting as it is chilling, and will leave readers eagerly anticipating what shadows may unfold next in Wyatt and Peter's entangled destiny." --Jessie Fischer, The Book Nook, Saranac Lake, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Die Hot with a Vengeance: Essays on Vanity

Die Hot with a Vengeance: Essays on Vanity by Sable Yong (Dey Street Books, $29.99 hardcover, 256p., 9780063236486, July 9, 2024)

Sable Yong's charmingly subversive and often hilarious debut, Die Hot with a Vengeance: Essays on Vanity, demystifies the glamorous allure of the beauty industry and invites readers to engage with beauty culture in a manner that stays true to how they view and value themselves. Her provocative essays delve right into the heart of the question, "What is beauty for?"

A former digital beauty editor for Allure magazine, the author has had pieces in Vogue, the New York Times, and Harper's Bazaar. From her perch as a beauty insider, Yong recalls her days as a child model, her severe allergy to deodorant as a teenager, and the winding path that led to "The Job a Million Girls Would Dye For." With her platinum-blonde locks, Yong was for a time the top Google search result for "blond Asian woman," leading to glamorous photo shoots for a Dove commercial. She enjoys upending expectations of what an Asian woman looks like, determined to free herself from "the tyranny of shoulds."

In the pivotal essay "No Fun in the Fun House," Yong reflects on how social media has transformed vanity from an undesirable character trait into a popular lifestyle choice, fueled by YouTube and Instagram. The ubiquitous use of filters in photographs encourages impossible beauty standards, she notes, calling out the industry's manipulative harnessing of "every perceived flaw" as a platform for marketing more products.

Yong admits she isn't immune to the powerful pull of the beauty industry; she recalls job perks such as a constant supply of new products, free injectable treatments, and jetting off to Costa Rica for the launch of a new foundation. Gradually, she learned to engage consciously with beauty, deploying it as a means of self-expression and a path to self-discovery instead of as a response to her insecurities. After surviving puberty sans deodorant, perfume is now her "favorite way to connect with people."

Chucklesome pieces on hair removal in "Smoother Operations" will delight readers, as will Yong's philosophical musings in "Age Against the Machine." In this final essay, the author celebrates the confidence that comes with life experience. Not only are beauty standards "made up," she tells us with characteristic candor, anti-aging products promoted by "Big Skincare" simply do not work.

Yong's essays are a compassionate reminder that there are no absolute rules when it comes to beauty, and at the end of the day it truly is an inside job. --Shahina Piyarali

Shelf Talker: A former digital beauty editor for Allure magazine shares her experiences as an industry insider and encourages readers to engage with beauty culture on their own terms.

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