Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger


Notes: Bookstore Congestion; New NBN Publishers

More on Vassar College's plan to open a bookstore off campus in the Arlington section of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The new store, managed by Barnes & Noble, will be near the 60-year-old Three Arts bookstore whose owner Walter Effron told the Poughkeepsie Journal, "My feeling was that if the college bookstore, as it is, were there [in the Juliet Building space next door] it wouldn't necessarily be a death sentence as far as we're concerned. But if it's a more aggressive type of operation . . .  than it has been up to now, then that would be probably a different matter."

Like the college store that will open in 2009, Three Arts is in a Vassar-owned building. Effron added that the neighborhood "has been livelier in the past and a new venture 'probably would bring help to the area.'"


The book gift lists keep coming:

The San Diego Union-Tribune featured cookbooks by authors who "hope you'll eat their words" and a "cluster of wine books . . . ripe for reading."

According to, "Michelangelo frescoes, Klimt nudes grace year's best art books."

The New York Times opted for a subtle, even uncertain approach with a "list of [economics] books you might want to look at. It doubtless leaves off some very good books."

"Children can learn compassion through books," suggested the Indianapolis Star.

On CBS's Early Show, co-anchors Harry Smith, Russ Mitchell and Julie Chen showed viewers their favorite coffee table books.


Effective immediately, National Book Network is distributing the following publishers:

Oldcastle Publications, Escondido, Calif., which publishes children's picture books and has one self-help title.
Woodland Press, which publishes books on grief, especially children's issues, family and relationships.
Open Texture, Albuquerque, N.M., which publishes audio CDs on language, philosophy and history.


Jenny Goodman Abrami has joined Sasquatch Books as sales director. She was formerly senior manager of national trade sales at Chronicle Books, where she managed the field sales force and sales to Barnes & Noble. She has more than 10 years of experience in sales and sales management in book publishing and will work from her Alameda, Calif., home office.


Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White

Holiday Hum: Benediction for Fiction Addiction

It's been a holiday season of change at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., which opened in 2001 selling used books but whose merchandise has since expanded to include new titles. "Our goal this year has been to make people think of us for gift-giving," said owner Jill Hendrix. Her strategies are working: December sales are up 50% over last year.

Along with significantly increasing new books inventory over the last several months, Hendrix bought a range of gift items like wall calendars, Zarah Co. jewelry and the Peeramid Bookrest, which is especially popular with Fiction Addiction customers. Educational toys from Melissa & Doug are a hit too, particularly the wooden sound puzzles.

Hendrix also joined the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and participated in the organization's holiday catalogue program. The publication is being used as a bag stuffer, and 1,500 copies were distributed in neighborhoods near the store. "We're gratified by the interest" in the featured titles, Hendrix said. "Since this is our first year as a SIBA member we weren't sure how well they'd do." Top sellers are Jan Karon's novel Home to Holly Springs, the thriller Down River by John Hart, Kate DiCamillo's picture book Great Joy and Hendrix's favorite tome of the season, Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy by Matthew Reinhart.

This month Fiction Addiction held its first official signing since the store opened: Jason R. Davidson, co-author of The Boathouse: Tales and Recipes from a Southern Kitchen, appeared on December 14. An article in the Greenville News mentioning the signing two days prior to the event helped enhance turnout---and introduce new customers to the store. "The majority of people who came had never been here before," said Hendrix.

Another first for Fiction Addiction this season was taking part in the Salvation Army's Christmas Angel program. Customers were offered 20% off any in-store purchase they donated to the cause. Hendrix plans to participate again next year.

Among other changes, Hendrix is launching a business book club in January. "I was thinking about New Year's resolutions and decided that I get so caught up in the day to day that I need to make it a point to step back from time to time and think about the business in general the way that I was able to at the SIBA trade show," she remarked. "I thought a business book club might help me do this." She'll be joined initially by at least two other entrepreneurs she met through a networking group, and the inaugural read is Daniel H. Pink's A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Hendrix cites one decision in particular that has aided in achieving the goal of making Fiction Addiction a destination for holiday shoppers. "Joining SIBA and attending the trade show was the best investment I made this year," she said. "The information, ideas, and excitement I received from the show have helped make this our best year ever."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Channeling Mark Twain

WETA's Author, Author! reatures two booksellers talking about their top 10 books of 2007: Carla Cohen, co-owner of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., and Alexis Akre, a buyer for Olsson's, which has stores in and around the capital.


Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Carol Muske-Dukes, author of Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, $24.95, 9780375509278/0375509275). As the show put it: "This novel revives the belief that poetry has a close connection to personal and political liberation. Muske-Dukes' narrator teaches a poetry workshop in a women's prison. Our conversation both celebrates and grieves for the once widely held conviction that Art can change life."


This Weekend on Book TV: Reality Show

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Wednesday 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 22

7 p.m. Robert Zubrin, author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil (Prometheus, $25.95, 9781591025917/1591025915), argues that the U.S. is subsidizing a war against itself because of its dependence on oil. (Re-airs Monday, December 31, at 10 p.m.)
9 p.m. After Words. James Warren, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, interviews Howard Kurtz, author of Reality Show: Inside the Last Great Television News War (Free Press, $26, 9780743299824/0743299825). Kurtz looks at the inner workings of the news divisions of ABC, NBC and CBS. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m.)
10 p.m. Christine Pelosi, author of Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders (Polipoint Press, $15.95, 9780979482205/0979482208), offers strategies for effectively campaigning at all levels of public service. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 a.m. and Monday, December 31, at 3:15 p.m.)

11 p.m. Ronald Kessler, author of The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack (Crown Forum, $26.95, 9780307382139/0307382133), takes an inside look at agencies like the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI and the National Security Agency. (Re-airs Wednesday, January 2, at 6 a.m.)

Sunday, December 23

12 p.m. Thom Hartmann, author of Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision (Berrett-Koehler, $24.95, 9781576754580/1576754588), presents a plan for how the left can compete with the right in presenting its political message. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)
8 p.m. Donald Critchlow, author of The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History (Harvard University Press $27.95, 9780674026209/0674026209), explores the battle for control of the Republican party and between conservatives and liberals for control of the government.


Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: The Grinch

The Grinch was born in a nameless mountain town, just north of Who-ville, and studied economics and business via correspondence classes. (He appears in the photo at left, last Friday visiting Seattle's Space Needle just before appearing at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.) His memoir, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which describes his attempts to halt the holiday in nearby Who-ville, was published in 1957 and became a bestseller, the basis for an animated film in 1966, a live-action film starring Jim Carrey (2000), and is now a Broadway musical. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his memoir's publication, the Grinch answered questions we put to people in the book business:

On your nightstand now:

The Age of Turbulence
by Alan Greenspan, Le Misanthrope by Molière, Be the Pack Leader by Cesar Millan (for my dog, Max), Bad Santa (DVD) and Max's antlers

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. (O.K., favorite children's book--I had no books as a child.)

Your top five authors:

Shel Silverstein, David Mamet, Ayn Rand, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Dickens

Book you've faked reading:

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Book you are an evangelist for:

No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre

Book you've bought for the cover:

Good Dog. Stay.
by Anna Quindlen

Favorite line from a book:

"If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

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

The Stranger by Albert Camus


Book Review

Book Review: In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press, $21.95 Hardcover, 9781594201455, January 2008)

The essence of Michael Pollan's follow-up to the bestselling The Omnivore's Dilemma can be reduced to this simple directive: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." At least it seems simple until Pollan begins "unpacking" these seven words with his unusual blend of wit and intelligence and we realize that what we're eating (often way too much of) isn't really food at all. Americans are suffering from more diet-related diseases than ever before, he says, and yet, "We are becoming a nation of orthorexics: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating." Apparently food--real food--is indeed in need of defense.
Pollan begins his informative, highly entertaining book with an explanation of what he calls "nutritionism," the study and science of food as a collection of individual nutrients rather than the sum of those parts. Although the roots of nutritionism go back over a century, the concept took hold in the 1980s when packaged foods began being advertised as "no cholesterol," "low fat," etc. Demonizing one nutrient (let's say fat) and exalting another (let's say protein) quickly led to warring diet fads but not to better health or slimmer bodies. It seems that a beta-carotene pill is no substitute for, as Pollan puts it, "the soul of a carrot."
However, Pollan says, nutritionism is just one of our problems. Humans are omnivorous yet, in the West at least, we have reduced our diets to a combination of wheat, soy and corn. We Americans eat one-fifth of our meals in the car and depend on visual cues (an empty plate or the end of a TV show) to tell us when to stop eating instead of when our stomachs feel full. The organic produce in supermarkets comes from China and much of what we snack on would not be recognized as food by our great-grandmothers. As for the meat we consume--be very afraid.  Worst of all, we no longer take any pleasure in eating.
Although In Defense of Food is neither a polemic nor an instruction manual, Pollan does have some sensible, simple suggestions that anyone who's ever faced down the ingredient list on a package of Twinkies will appreciate. Avoid the center aisles of the supermarket, he says, as that is where most packaged, processed food-like products beckon. Furthermore, eschew products making spurious health claims on their packages. Whenever possible, buy produce from CSAs (community supported agriculture), which has the dual benefit of supporting the local economy and providing fresh, whole foods. Once you have the food (not too much, mostly plants), Pollan says, you must prepare it. Real meals do not come in microwavable boxes.

Eat food, Pollan says. It's excellent advice, superbly served.--Debra Ginsberg


Children's Review: Oggie Cooder

Oggie Cooder by Sarah Weeks (Scholastic Press, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780439927918, February 2008)

Quirky outsiders populate children's books in great numbers. But in this humorous novel, Weeks (So B. It) paints Oggie Cooder with enough unusual, endearing details to win over readers quickly. The reluctant fourth-grade hero sports his preferred attire of stripes and checks (often concurrently), which comes from his parents' thrift shop. He chirps a favorite expression, "Prrrrr-ip! Prrrrr-ip!," and his favorite activity is "charving" (a combination of chewing and carving) slices of American cheese into the shapes of the 50 states. With his trusting nature, Oggie easily falls prey to nasty neighbor and classmate Donnica Perfecto, who views Oggie's unusual skill of charving cheese as her ticket to the Hidden Talents TV show and a trip to Hollywood--and tricks him into teaching her nearly all of his secret tips. Weeks gets the dynamics of this age group just right: the tenuous formation of cliques, the dramatic differences in social development among fourth-graders and the way Oggie's untroubled sense of self-confidence gnaws away at Donnica, with her puffed-up sense of self-importance. While comical scenes dominate the novel, Oggie remains a credible character, and the way in which he faces obstacles while remaining true to himself will give thoughtful readers (and perhaps the less popular in the crowd) plenty to ponder. This will be a welcome title for parents, teachers and children alike.--Jennifer M. Brown


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