Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


Harvard Book Store Has New Owners

Effective immediately, Jeff Mayersohn and his wife, Linda Seamonson, are the new owners of the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass. Mayersohn will serve as president of the company.

Frank Kramer, who has owned the business, founded by his father in 1932, for 46 years, will act as a consultant, and Carole Horne continues as general manager.

In a statement, Kramer commented: "Jeff is both a book lover and a businessman who has a tangible affection for Harvard Book Store. When I met him, I liked him immediately. And when I found out that he and his family plan their vacations around the locations of great independent bookstores, I liked him even more." Kramer plans to spend more time on Cambridge Local First, which he co-founded in 2005, work as an industry consultant and learn Italian.

Horne added: "Frank said he wouldn't sell the store unless he found just the right person, and I think he has. I'm very happy for Frank, and I am excited about working with Jeff."

Mayersohn, who lives in Wellesley, said, "As a customer of Harvard Book Store for over thirty years, I'm overwhelmed and elated by this opportunity. My wife and I have wanted to own a bookstore for many years--I never imagined that it could be Harvard Book Store."

Mayersohn has worked at several high-tech companies in Massachusetts and for the last 10 years has been an executive at Sonus Networks, which is involved in IP communications infrastructure. He describes himself as a passionate reader, "politically progressive and an avid baseball fan" and said he plans to continue to run Harvard Book Store "as the community's locally owned and independent bookstore." Not surprisingly, Mayersohn intends to apply his technological knowledge to the store. "I understand that Harvard Book Store was one of the first independents to adopt inventory-control software, in the 1980s. I'd like to find new ways to continue the store's tradition of being on the leading edge of bookselling."

On Tuesday, October 21, Harvard Book Store is inviting the community to meet Mayersohn and "learn about his history and love of Harvard Book Store."


Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

Capital Crime: Olsson's Closes

Sadly we report that Olsson's Books & Records has closed its remaining five stores in Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia because of "stagnant sales, low cash reserves, and an inability to renegotiate current leases, along with a continuing weak retail economy and plummeting music sales," the company announced.

Olsson's parent company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this summer (Shelf Awareness, July 15, 2008), when it closed one store and cut overhead. The company is now petitioning to convert the reorganization filing to a liquidation filing.

Founded in 1972, Olsson's grew to nine stores in the Washington metropolitan area at one point.

In a statement, Stephen Wallace-Haines, Olsson's general manager, said: "In the end, all the roads towards reorganization led to this dead end: we did not have the money required to pay for product in advance, to collect reserves to buy for Christmas, and satisfy the demands of rent and operational costs. We were losing money just by staying open."

Founder and principal owner John Olsson said: "Although it is certainly a sad day for us, I can rejoice in all the great memories of my life in retail in Washington. I began at Discount Record Shop on Connecticut Avenue in the fall of 1958, and worked there until 1972 when I left to open my own record store at 1900 L Street. Along the way books were added, more locations, a couple thousand employees, and many thousands of customers. It was exhilarating. Through it all, our best and brightest served Washington's best and brightest with love and distinction. I'm very proud of what we accomplished. My love and gratitude to all my employees, and special thanks to all those thousands of loyal customers."


Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Notes: Interest in Red Emma's; Beware 'Stranded' Authors

A program under which Maryland State Police posed as activists and conducted surveillance on war protesters and death penalty opponents in 2005 and 2006 included Red Emma's, the Baltimore worker-owned and collectively managed bookstore, according to the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun.

The interest in Red Emma's stemmed not from any protests but, as the Post put it, because it "hosts lectures on politics." (The Sun described Red Emma's as "a bohemian redoubt offering radical literature and vegan food.") At least one state police agent had joined the mailing list and inquired about a speech given by Bernardine Dohrn, a law professor at Northwestern University and former member of the Weather Underground.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is asking for more information about the state police program and targeted organizations. A state panel reviewing the program is scheduled to issue a report today.


On November 12, Barnes & Noble plans to open a 40,000-sq.-ft. store in the Oakbrook Center in Oakbrook, Ill., a Chicago suburb. The day before the new B&N opens, the company will close its current store at 1 South 550 Route 83 in Oakbrook Terrace.


The "stranded author" is stranded again. Stesha Brandon, manager of public relations and events at the University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., reports that the store has been called three times in the last week by someone pretending to be an author who has just made an appearance. In its case, the scam artist impersonated Jonathan Mahler, Steve Roberts and Philip Roth. As Roth, he said, "I was just at your store last week, and my car got towed." (Perhaps he meant that the video tour feed for Indignation got jammed?)

The same or a similar scammer has called stores in California during the past year (Shelf Awareness, April 28, 2008, and December 8, 2007).


Congratulations to Esther Margolis, head of Newmarket Press, who will be given the Poor Richard Award by the New York Center for Independent Publishing. The award honors "a publisher who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of independent publishing."

After working for 17 years at Bantam Books, where she rose up through the ranks and became senior v-p and head of marketing, publicity and communications worldwide, Margolis founded Newmarket 26 years ago as a publishing and communications company with a publishing division. The Center called Margolis and Newmarket "innovative and entrepreneurial."

The award will be presented on Monday, November 10, at the Center's annual benefit and cocktail reception. For information about the event, call 212-764-7021 or write


Effective today, WHO Press's book programs in English, French and Spanish will be distributed in North America by Stylus Publishing. Stylus will handle sales, marketing, warehousing and fulfillment. For more information, write

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the World Health Organization.



PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Happy 35th to the Boulder Book Store

Congratulations to Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo., which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, beginning today, with two weeks of events and promotions that include readings by local children's author T.A. Barron, Deep Survival author Laurence Gonzales and others, an appearance by children's character Skippyjon and discounts of 20% for loyalty program members on most products in the store October 10-12. The store is also honoring Banned Books Week with a large window display (below) and in-store displays.

The Daily Camera offers a long tribute to the store, highlighting its importance in revitalizing downtown, particularly the development of the Pearl Street Mall, its beautiful 20,000-sq.-ft. space, its role as "the city's literary heart" and its importance as a founding member 10 years ago of the Boulder Independent Business Alliance, one of the first buy local organizations.

The store was founded by David Bolduc, who told the paper, "One of the things that has allowed us to succeed is our increased ability to relate to the local community. We support it, and they support us."

Arsen Kashkashien, the store's head buyer and inventory manager, emphasized the store's ability to adapt, an effort that has included increasing the stock of CDs, DVDs, used books and items such as yoga mats, greeting cards, magnets and chocolate bars. "When I started here [16 years ago], I used to think of the bookstore as a glorified library where you can buy everything," Kashkashien said. "Now I think of it as a glorified living room. Everything that can entertain the family is here. The definition of what we do has enlarged in order for us to stay around."


Banned Books Week in the News II

Galleycat linked to the Haphazard Gourmet Girls blog ("Braising the Culture, One Recipe--And One Recall--at a Time"), which offers "Civilization Is Cooked Without Books, our haphazard project that pairs censored literature with recipes." Other recipes here and here.

The Daily Californian reported: "In a celebration of controversial books yesterday, community members read portions of their favorite banned books at the main branch of the Berkeley Public Library."

Even virtual book worlds need attention. The American Library Association is once again staging Banned Book Week events in Second Life.

"Would you ban any children's books?" the Guardian's book blog asked readers. One respondent, just a bit off assigned topic, suggested "the bible is a fairytale book that I'd have banned. To [sic] much sex and violence for the target audience."

Also in the Guardian, a banned books quiz to test your censorship awareness skills.


PNBA Fall 2008: Talking About Books (Part Two)

Continuing our hunt for titles to look forward to after December, we found two books about families cited by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's John Dally. Live through This by Debra Gwartney (February) is a riveting memoir about the aftermath of her divorce, when her two young teenage daughters ran away and her search for them. It deals with a parent's worst fears, and he says it touched his heart. My Abandonment by Peter Rock (HMH, March) is a novel about a homeless father and daughter who live in a park until they are caught. "Exquisitely written, with a lot of heart." Dally calls it Swiss Family Robinson meets the urban jungle. He's also keen on How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, saying there are a lot of books like this, but it's both intellectual and easy to read and "makes you feel smart."

Macmillan's Krista Loercher likes an oversized graphic novel, Britten and Brülightly, a highly original noir mystery from Metropolitan by Hannah Berry (March) with stunning artwork. It's about two detectives, one of whom is a talking teabag, who at one point says to his partner after a stressful moment, "Look, I'm sorry: I infused in your waistcoat." It's a good choice for those who are already inclined towards noir and open to graphic novels. Definitely adult. Reed Oros, also from Macmillan, is enthusiastic about two Graywolf titles: Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Bliss (February), essays about race and racial identity; and Castle by J. Robert Lennon, a novel he compares with The Last Unicorn. Oros says that All the Living by C. E. Morgan (FSG, April) is an in-house favorite, a novel for fans of Marilynne Robinson. Oros also likes The Music Room by Namita Devidayal (Thomas Dunne, February), a fascinating look at Indian musicians' lives that was a literary sensation in India. It reminds him of Vasari's Lives of the Artists combined with the intimacy of Coming Into the Country (what a hook!). Both Peggy Lindgren and Krista Loercher are enthusiastic about Lamentations, a fantasy novel due in February from Tor. The author, Ken Scholes, got an unprecedented five-book contract for his vision of another world. It's lyrically written with interweaving storylines, told from four characters' point of view, and (I can attest) is absolutely enthralling.

Another good hook, and book, comes from Chris Satterlund, Scholastic: she says Lisa Yee's new novel, Absolutely Maybe (February), is Patty Jane's House of Curl crossed with Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, and is a breakout book for Yee.

Perseus Book group's Matty Goldberg picked Don't Stop Believin' by Brian Raftery (Da Capo, December). It's a karaoke memoir. Enough said, but do discuss author appearance possibilities with your rep. Adam Schnitzer recommends The Bloody White Baron for fans of The Red Prince and anyone who likes history, biography and the bizarre. Baron Ungarn, a Russian aristocrat, was psychotic, sadistic and delusional, leading an army of White Russians, Japanese and Mongolians against the incipient Red Army. Filled with bizarre spirituality and richly drawn characters, Schnitzer says it reads like a dream. Da Capo's Kevin Hanover mentioned a November book by Steve Fainaru, Big Boy Rules: In the Company of America's Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq. He compares this story of men who are in the war for thrills, money or because they have no other options with Black Hawk Down.

John Eklund of Harvard/Yale/MIT unhesitatingly chose a stunning photography book by the brilliant Rosamund Purcell called Egg and Nest (Belknap/Harvard, October). Purcell's photographs of the ornithological collection of the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in California are ethereal. Some of the eggs marked with camouflage, for instance, look like they have been painted with sumi-e brushstrokes.

Patrick McNierney, Penguin Group, selected The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (Penguin Press, February), a literary mystery with a very eccentric protagonist and highly unusual twists--a classic page-turner. He also liked Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (Viking, March), a somber story about Cree Indians in Ontario; it's the truest he's read about reservation life, aside from Sherman Alexie's writings. He also mentioned English by Wang Gang (Viking, April), a novel about a teacher during the Cultural Revolution who has to go underground to teach other languages.

An over-the-top debut thriller is Tom McIntyre's (Hachette) pick, Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (Little, Brown, January), which has a Tarantino feel and one of the greatest endings of anything he's read. It's about an intern who is on his last nerve, who's a former mob hit man in the witness protection program. One morning he runs into his worst nightmare, a terminally-ill patient who recognizes him and promises not to rat him out as long as the patient lives. I read it on the train home and agree with McIntyre: very dark, completely outrageous and a wow ending. Jennifer Royce from Hachette wanted to mention The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, October); although Connelly hardly needs encomiums, she thinks it's the best thing he's written. Royce has also devised a good bookseller service and give-away: she hands out a galley checklist to booksellers, they indicate what they want to read, she puts the galleys into a nifty bag, and people pick it up at the end of the show.

Consortium's Bob Harrison chose a great gift book from Abrams--Three Wishes: An Intimate look at Jazz Greats (September). In the 1950s, '60s, and '70s a woman named Pannonica de Koenigswarter lived in New York, loved jazz and befriended many musicians. She took hundreds of snapshots of the jazz world and asked musicians what three things they wished for. Thelonius Monk answered, "To be successful musically, to have a happy family, and to have a crazy friend like you." Delightful.

George Carroll from Redsides was typically contrarian with his pick: The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel by William Goldboom Bloch (Oxford, August). Why? "I love this because I don't understand it." A quick perusal backed up his assertion, but what a great book to leave casually lying around when guests come over.

He's not a rep, but Nick DiMartino from University Book Store and Shelf Awareness reviewer is someone whose enthusiasm is worth paying attention to. He said, "How can I rationalize the fact that my two favorite books at PNBA were both children's books? I go to the show looking for new international fiction. Instead Madeline and the Cats of Rome (Viking, September) and Two Bobbies both broadsided me without warning." Two Bobbies (Walker, August) is a picture book, the true account of two pets abandoned during Hurricane Katrina, Bobbi the dog and Bob Cat, who refuse to be separated when abandoned and manage to stay together and escape alive from flooded New Orleans. Gorgeous artwork, an emotional punch, and "the stubborn power of friendship."

And that's what it's all about, in the end: discovery, and belief in the power and comfort of books. What a pleasure to have so many books to look forward to.--Marilyn Dahl


Media and Movies

Movies: Blindness

Blindness, based on the book by José Saramago, opens October 3. Fernando Meirelles directs this story of a doctor's wife (Julianne Moore) who is unaffected by an epidemic of sudden blindness. She tries to protect her husband (Mark Ruffalo) by following him into an inhumane quarantine area. The movie-tie in edition is from Harvest Books ($15, 9780156035583/0156035588).

Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, has a new book, Death with Interruptions (Harcourt, $24, 9780151012749/0151012741), coming out next Monday, October 6.


Media Heat: Peggy Noonan's Patriotic Grace

This morning on the Today Show: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose new book is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s American Heroes: Robert Smalls, the Boat Thief (Hyperion, $16.99, 9781423108023/1423108027).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Warren Buffett, subject of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder (Bantam, $35, 9780553805093/0553805096).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Peggy Noonan, author of Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now (Collins, $19.95, 9780061735820/0061735825).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Sloan Barnett, author of Green Goes with Everything: Simple Steps to a Healthier Life and a Cleaner Planet (Atria, $19.95, 9781416578451/1416578455).

Also on Today: Deborah Copaken Kogan, whose debut novel is Between Here and April (Algonquin, $23.95, 9781565125629/1565125622).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Diane Hammond, author of Hannah's Dream (Harper, $13.95, 9780061568251/0061568252).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Horacio Castellanos Moya, author of Senselessness, translated by Katherine Silver (New Directions, $15.95, 9780811217071/0811217078). As the show put it: "Castellanos Moya's first novel to be translated into English is a jet black tragic-comedy. His terrifying central premise is that confessions extracted through torture can become so impassioned that they become indistinguishable from a nation's poetry. In this conversation, poetry, hypocrisy, dictatorship and religion are our subjects."


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador, $16, 9780312427993/0312427999).



Books & Authors

GBO Book Pick: Settlement by Christoph Hein

The German Book Office's Book Pick for September is the novel Settlement by Christoph Hein, translated by Philip Boehm, which will be published by Metropolitan Books on November 25 ($27, 9780805077681/0805077685).

Settlement "follows the life of Bernhard Haber, a young refugee from Silesia who was forced to move to Guldenberg at the end of World War II. It describes the transformation of not only one man but of an entire nation as told as a multifaceted viewpoint from people around him. Bernhard evolves from a quiet bully in school into a loud political activist, supporting the Communist Party. His political allegiances shift from supporting the communal farms to helping smuggle people out of the country. Once this becomes too dangerous, Bernhard becomes a carpenter, like his father, and is eventually recognized as a respected businessman in the city. The fall of Communism and the onset of capitalism make him a very wealthy man, and Guldenberg finally becomes their real home."

Hein himself was born in Silesia and grew up in the region that became East Germany. Called by Die Zeit "one of the most important writers of literature critical" of East Germany, Hein is author of Willenbrock, The Distant Lover and The Tango Player, among other books, a playwright and essayist and former president of PEN Germany.


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