Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Quotation of the Day

Clue Number 1: Reading It Can Be Fun

"My goal in the classroom was always to make sure [students] were having so much fun that they didn't realize they were learning. I saw the 39 Clues as a potential vehicle for doing some education in a fun way--to take some of these amazing stories from history, dust them off and make them alive."--Rick Riordan in the New York Times today about the new Scholastic series with a strong online component that makes its debut next week with The Maze of Bones.


Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar


Lightning Source Turns Around Epicenter's Palin Bio

Senator John McCain's announcement Friday that he had picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate caused a bit of an earthquake at Epicenter Press, the Kenmore, Wash., house that has the only biography of the Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah: How a Small Town Girl Turned Alaska's Political Establishment on Its Ear by Kaylene Johnson.

On Friday morning, Kent Sturgis, president and co-founder of Epicenter, wrote, "The incoming phone traffic at our little office, mostly from media looking for the author, kept our two lines tied up for six hours, unable to make outgoing calls because of volume. Thank goodness for cell phones!"

By 10 a.m. that day, Epicenter sold the last 3,000 hardcover copies it had of Sarah, originally published in April. Epicenter is distributed by Graphic Arts Center Publishing, which itself is handled by Ingram Publisher Services. By the end of Friday, IPS had orders for 40,000 more copies. On Friday, Epicenter arranged with Ingram's Lightning Source POD operation to print a trade paperback edition of Sarah. By Friday evening, Lightning Source received the necessary files from Epicenter and began printing books. As of last night, some 30,000 copies had been printed and are shipping today. The Lightning Source staff reportedly worked overtime over the Labor Day weekend to make this happen.

The new edition, with a slightly different subtitle, is called Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down and is priced at $15.95 (9780980082562/0980082560). The hardcover was 159 pages.

Ingram Content Companies chairman John Ingram said that the effort showed "our capabilities for helping our publishing clients seize the opportunities that come their way. No other entity in the book industry could have delivered this book to market as we did, so fast and so broadly."

Epicenter was founded 20 years ago by Sturgis and Lael Morgan, who were both Alaska journalists. The press specializes in general nonfiction titles about the state as well as books about sled dog racing and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. According to the Seattle Times, Sturgis decided to publish a biography of Governor Palin after meeting her at a fundraiser in 2006. "No matter what you think about her politics, she's an interesting and an unusual politician," he told the paper.

To write the book, Sturgis recruited Kaylene Johnson, who lives near Wasilla, the town where Palin was mayor and still lives. Johnson has contributed to a variety of publications and written several books.

Johnson told the Associated Press (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) that while working on the biography of the Governor, she met with Palin twice and corresponded via e-mail. After the book was published, she asked Palin for her reaction, but the Governor said she hadn't read the book because it was "too strange" to read about herself.

"The thing that made me feel good about the book was that her husband and her parents felt it was a good reflection of who she is," Johnson told the AP.

Epicenter's most popular backlist title is Velma Willis' Two Old Women, based on an Athabascan Indian legend, that was originally published in 1993 and has more than 500,000 copies in print, the AP said.


William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Boost for America According to Connor Gifford

Another less direct book beneficiary of the attention given Governor Palin has been America According to Connor Gifford (Hargrave Press, distributed by Atlas Books, $24.95, 9780981719504/0981719503), which aims to make sense of the U.S. past through the insights of a young man with Down's syndrome. In April, the Governor gave birth to her fifth child, Trig, who has Down's syndrome, which was widely reported in the stories following Senator McCain's announcement. Harris emphasized that the connection is not just that Governor Palin has a baby boy with Down's syndrome but that "both the Governor and Connor Gifford believe that Down's syndrome is a 'gift from God.' "

America According to Connor Gifford authors Connor Gifford and Victoria Harris were already scheduled to appear on the Today Show yesterday. Harris wrote: "The Today Show piece could not be better timed, and I am going crazy since I am doing all the of the PR myself." She noted that she had created Hargrave to publish the book, which has had two printings of 30,000 copies, and will soon have a "huge" third printing.

Over the weekend, Harris launched a new version of A video of yesterday's Today Show segment on Gifford, Harris and the book is available on Today's website--click on the upper right corner.


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Notes: Googling Mitchell's; Rebellious New Independent

The Boston Sunday Globe Magazine followed up on the assistance Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, gave Mary Jennings and Lucretia Voigt that enabled the two to purchase and save Mitchell's Book Corner, Nantucket, Mass. (Shelf Awareness, January 10, 2008).

According to the Globe, Jennings and Voigt, "rent the space at significantly below-market rates, and they are forbidden, by contract, to ever move the store. Schmidt retains ownership of the Mitchell's name, but the two operators essentially own the business and all its inventory and are solely responsible for its profit and loss. Schmidt likens her role to that of creating an 'incubator' that fosters new locally owned businesses until they become successful enough to stand on their own feet. She hopes to expand the incubator concept to other locally owned downtown businesses soon."


"Where are the bookstores in Cape Coral?" asked the Fort Myers, Fla., News-Press, noting that "efforts to attract a big-box book retailer in Cape Coral have so far gone unresolved."

Where are the readers? Don Poole, co-owner of One for the Books, said, "We struggle every day just to stay open. People just don't read like they used to."

Even Mike Quaintance, president of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, admitted he is an online book shopper: "I don't even really know what bookstores we have in town.”

For his part, Poole is not worrying about a big-box invasion. "If a major bookstore ever does move in to Cape Coral, I hope they move in next door," he said. "People will come to the new bookstore and realize they can find what they need here first."


Although the name Tea Party Bookshop evokes images of "doilies and white party gloves," the Salem Monthly cautions that the "name doesn't originate with a brewed afternoon beverage, but rather corporate rebellion."

"The Boston Tea Party served as the inspiration for the name, the first instance where the American populace rose up to protest corporate control of their buying choices," said Joanne Kohler, owner of the Salem, Ore., independent bookstore and an advocate for fair trade practices and environmental responsibility.

"I've lived in Salem for seven years, and have seen two institutions in the book business here close--Rosebud & Fish and Jackson's," Kohler added. "This certainly gave me pause when considering opening my bookstore, because if these smart people couldn't do it, what chance did I have? . . . We chose downtown Salem because as residents, we'd like to see downtown come to life and be a fun and interesting place to shop."

Tea Party Bookshop is located at 420 Ferry St, Salem, Ore. 97301; (503) 990-6471;


"A little oasis between Barnes & Noble in Newburgh and Binghamton," Hamish & Henry Booksellers, Livingston Manor, N.Y., "experienced a tiny storm in its small pond in the form of three-time Oscar nominee, and genuine movie star, Debra Winger," according to the Times Herald-Record.

Winger, who is also the author of Undiscovered, has lived in the area for 18 years. One day when she stopped by the bookstore, the owners asked if she'd like to do a book signing. She said yes, and the result was "pretty much a zoo," said Sue Barnett of the 80 people who packed the bookshop for the event.


Advice for students: hit the stacks. "Browsing in a used bookstore is an altogether different experience from strolling the gleaming aisles of freshly minted volumes at a Barnes & Noble or a Borders bookstore," according to Boston University's BU Today, which offered a guide to some of the city's best used bookshops, "separate dimensions, molded by the bibliophilic quirks of the owners and staff, where browsers can lose track of time, even of themselves, before stumbling back into the harsh light of modern life, clutching a few newfound companions or old acquaintances."


Daniel A. DeMatteo, longtime vice chairman and COO of Gamestop, is becoming CEO, replacing Richard Fontaine, who continues as chairman of the company, which was formerly owned by Barnes & Noble.

Fontaine headed B. Dalton Booksellers twice--both before and after it was bought by B&N--and was an executive with B&N.


Image of the Day: Author and Her Writers Group

Last Thursday, Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., hosted a party for Susan Wiggs, whose Just Breathe has just been published. Here outside the store Wiggs posed with three members of her writers group (from l. to r.) Sheila Roberts, Carol Cassella, Wiggs and Suzanne Selfors--and, far right, Suzanne MacPherson, who is a local writer but not in the group. This coming Thursday Wiggs will do an autographing on the ferry to Bainbridge Island (Shelf Awareness, August 26, 2008).


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Wisdom of Morrie:
Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully
by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Twenty-five years ago, Mitch Albom immortalized his former college professor in Tuesdays with Morrie, the blockbuster memoir that shared Morrie Schwartz's profound insights about life as he was dying of ALS. In The Wisdom of Morrie, Rob Schwartz, Morrie's son, resurrects his father's voice, sharing Morrie's philosophical wisdom and humor about the aging process--what can be an emboldening period filled with meaning and purpose. "This book is invaluable to anyone interested in improving their quality of life," says Rick Bleiweiss, head of new business development at Blackstone Publishing. "Readers who enjoy[ed] The Last Lecture and When Breath Becomes Air will expand their awareness and find new ideas and insights into living more fully." Schwartz's musings are timeless, and inspirational for readers of all ages. --Kathleen Gerard

(Blackstone Publishing, $25.99 hardcover, 9798200813452,
April 18, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Media and Movies

Media Heat: T. Boone Pickens on Money and Energy

This morning on the Today Show: Robert Jones, author of Looking Younger: Makeovers That Make You Look as Good as You Feel (Fair Winds Press, $21.95, 9781592333172/1592333176).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: T. Boone Pickens, author of The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future (Crown Business, $26.95, 9780307395771/0307395774).


Today on CNN's Glenn Beck Show: Brad Meltzer, author of The Book of Lies (Grand Central, $25.99, 9780446577885/044657788X).


Tonight on Larry King Live: Alexandra Kerry, author of Notes from the Trail: Presidential Politics from the Inside Out (Modern Times, $27.95, 9781605299808/1605299804).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Marisa C. Weiss, author of Taking Care of Your Girls: A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens (Three Rivers Press, $15.95, 9780307406965/0307406962).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jennet Conant, author of The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (S&S, $27.95, 9780743294584/0743294580).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: pollster John Zogby, author of The Way We'll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream (Random House, $26, 9781400064502/1400064503).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Dr. Phil McGraw, whose new book coming out later this month is Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life (Free Press, $26.99, 9780743264952/0743264959).


Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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


Iodine by Haven Kimmel (Free Press, $24, 9781416572848/1416572848). "Trace--or Ianthe, depending on her level of clarity--is a brilliant college senior with a very troubling past, which begins to manifest itself as she begins writing a 'dream journal' for a class. Is Trace descending into madness, or clawing her way out of it? I could not put this book down!"--Piper Richmond, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, Wash.

A Few Seconds of Panic by Stefan Fatsis (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594201783/1594201781). "The Word Freak author hangs a Plimpton on the Denver Broncos when he joins the team as a place kicker for the 2006 training camp and preseason. Fatsis (who can routinely nail a 40-yarder by the end of the book) offers a rare glimpse at this strange culture from the inside that is revealing, sobering, and very entertaining."--Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.


Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster (Marion Boyars, $15.95, 9780714531489/0714531480). "In this beautifully written and disturbing Australian coming-of-age novel, McMaster tells the story of Sooky, who struggles to overcome her difficult childhood, the effects of which are powerfully portrayed as she moves from relationship to relationship and from Brisbane to London."--Nancy Felton, Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, Mass.

For Ages 4-8

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook, $12.95, 9781596433410/1596433418). "As every cat owner knows, giving kitty a bath generally isn't a problem, right? This wildly funny illustrated chapter book will have readers of all ages rolling with laughter! Bruel details his steps for giving his beloved Kitty a proper bath--if only Kitty can be found! Includes cat-sound interpretations and a glossary every cat-lover will appreciate."--Tish Gayle, the Blue Marble Bookstore, Fort Thomas, Ky.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles published next Monday and Tuesday, September 8 and 9:

The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 by Bob Woodward (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977) is the author's fourth book about the Bush administration during the Iraq war, following Bush at War, Plan of Attack and State of Denial.

America and the World: Conversations on the Future of American Foreign Policy
by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius (Basic Books, $27.50, 9780465015016/0465015018) provides thoughts on the future of the United States from two former National Security Advisors in "conversations" moderated by journalist Ignatius.

The Keepsake: A Novel by Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, $26, 9780345497628/0345497627) is the seventh thriller with detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles.

The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis (Ballantine, $24, 9780345500717/0345500717) follows 13 women who decided to share the cost and ownership of an expensive diamond necklace.

Bob Schieffer's America by Bob Schieffer (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399155185/039915518X) is a collection of 168 essays from the longtime journalist.

Fine Just the Way It Is by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $25, 9781416571667/1416571663) is the third entry in the Wyoming Stories series after Bad Dirt and Close Range, which includes "Brokeback Mountain."

Straight from the Source: An Expose from the Former Editor in Chief of the Hip-Hop Bible by Kim Osorio (VH1, $24.95, 9781416559689/141655968X) tells the story of the first female editor-in-chief of music magazine the Source.

Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness by Suzanne Somers (Crown, $25.95, 9781400053278/1400053277) gives anti-aging advice.

The Secret War with Iran: The 30-Year Clandestine Struggle Against the World's Most Dangerous Terrorist Power
by Ronen Bergman (Free Press, $27.95, 9781416558392/141655839X) outlines three decades of an intelligence struggle between Iran and the West.

Now in paperback:

Change We Can Believe In: Barack Obama's Plan to Renew America's Promise by Barack Obama (Three Rivers Press, $13.95, 9780307460455/0307460452).

Good Design Can Change Your Life: Beautiful Rooms, Inspiring Stories
by Ty Pennington (S&S, $25, 9780743294744/0743294742).

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan (Penguin, $17, 9780143114161/0143114166).

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
by A. J. Jacobs (S&S, $15, 9780743291484/0743291484).

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin (Anchor, $15.95, 9781400096794/1400096790).


Book Review

Book Review: The Book of Calamities

The Book of Calamities: Five Questions about Suffering and Its Meaning by Peter Trachtenberg (Little Brown and Company, $23.99 Hardcover, 9780316158794, August 2008)

It hardly would be surprising if the grim title of Peter Trachtenberg's new book caused some readers to turn away in search of lighter fare. That would be unfortunate, because in doing so they'd deprive themselves of the rich experience of this profound and profoundly moving book. In it, Trachtenberg, a self-described amateur journalist with no pretension to any serious religious training, weaves compelling strands of reporting, memoir, philosophy and theology to offer a thoughtful, many-sided portrait of the problem of human suffering.

Trachtenberg sets as his task the exploration of these questions: Why did this happen to me? How do I go on? If my suffering is the result of other people's malice, what do I require in the way of justice? What does my suffering say about me and about God? If I have been spared suffering, what obligation do I have toward those who haven't? Any single question could consume an entire text, and it's to Trachtenberg's credit that he's able to give all of them ample consideration in this work.

To explore how humanity has set about crafting responses to his questions, Trachtenberg introduces a diverse array of characters, from the victims of manmade disasters of epic scale like the Rwandan genocide and devastating natural catastrophes like the Indonesian tsunami, to Kate and Kelly Daley, twins suffering from recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare and horrific skin disease that eventually will claim their lives. What's most arresting is Trachtenberg's skill at juxtaposing tales of suffering that are far from obvious: the story of Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children, with Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy and the struggle of the Rwandan people to mete out justice to the perpetrators of that country's genocide, to cite but one example. He demonstrates sophisticated insight into traditional religious texts, from the Gilgamesh epic to the Book of Job to the sixth century writings of the Christian martyr Boethius. Revealed in each of his stories, with great sensitivity and humanity, is not merely a catalogue of the myriad ways we cope with suffering, but the essential, if often inexplicable, resilience of the human spirit in that eternal struggle.

It would be presumptuous of any author to suggest he has presented in a single volume, even one as filled with wisdom as this one, definitive or even fully satisfying answers to a tangle of questions that have vexed great thinkers for thousands of years. Peter Trachtenberg makes no such claim, conceding that most of them are unanswerable. Humble as this attempt may be, as an example of thoughtful striving to illuminate those timeless questions it's unmatched.--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Recognizing that suffering is the eternal condition of humanity, this thoughtful and highly original work explores the myriad ways in which we confront that reality and endeavor to surmount it.


Powered by: Xtenit