Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 3, 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

Quotation of the Day

Bookshops 'Always There at the Right Time'

"But I can't help the false romance. It's through different bookshops I've frequented that I can mark out the different moments of my upbringing. Ugly bookshops, soulless bookshops; it doesn't matter. What mattered was the right ones were always there at the right time."--Alastair Harper in the Guardian's book blog.


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


Notes: Jewel Bumped Up; Bookselling in Tough Times

Beaufort Books has moved up the publication date for Sherry Jones's The Jewel of Medina ($24.95, 9780825305184/0825305187), a fictional account of the love story between Mohammad and his favorite wife, A'isha, to next Monday, October 6.

Because of concerns about Muslims' reactions to the topic, the book was cancelled this summer by Random House, and last Saturday the U.K. publisher's home was firebombed by three men. In a statement, Beaufort president Eric Kampmann said that after the firebombing, "we feel it is important to put to rest accusations about the book's content, and make it available for readers to decide for themselves."


Bookselling This Week begins a weekly series called Bookselling in Tough Times that aims to help booksellers survive the economic crunch. In the first column four booksellers discuss inventory management and holiday buying.


Reconstruction has begun at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Vineyard Haven, Mass., which was badly damaged by fire on July 4, and building owner Ann Nelson hopes to have the place "fit for a bookstore by spring," the Vineyard Gazette reported.

Nelson's son, Jon, owner of Bunch of Grapes, has put the business up for sale.


The Lincoln County News profiled Maine Coast Book Shop and Cafe, Damariscotta, Me., which was recently honored with the Independent Spirit Award, given annually by the Book Publishers Representatives of New England to "the New England independent bookstore of the year."

"Lots of times such awards are self generated," said owner Susan Porter. "You hear about them, get letters written and apply. This award came directly from my colleagues, that carries more weight. It's very nice to be chosen by a group of professionals I respect. They went to all the stores in New England before choosing a winner, but it was not just me. It's the whole store and staff. We're good at selling books."


PC World includes in its "7 Great Sites About Music and Literature," writing that "big,diffuse Amazon is fine, but Powell's is the best on-line bookstore inAmerica. Why? Powell's focuses primarily on books and offers superiorreviews of volumes new and old by super-bookish staffers and Powell'scustomers alike. The site is easy to navigate and search, too." is not resting on its laurels. Dave Weich notes that the company is planning to relaunch the site in a few weeks.


Moe's Books, Berkeley, Calif., was singled out by the East Bay Literary Examiner as "The Best of Berkeley." The bookshop, founded by the late Moe Moskowitz, is "a four-story paradise for any literary junkie. Since its opening in 1963, Moe's Books has been revolutionary in both maintaining a healthy inventory and providing the public with appealing and worthwhile literary events."

At a memorial service for Moskowitz in 1997, poet Diane di Prima called him a "bulwark of radical sanity/ calling community meetings in his store/ while the hippies, police, university and business world raged and rioted/ he outgrumped them all."

"Moe and his mission do live on," the Examiner concluded.


Sadly the Kate Chopin House in Cloutierville, La., which also housed the Bayou Folk Museum, was destroyed by fire early Wednesday morning, according to the Shreveport Times. Since January, the House had been open by appointment because of a need for renovations and because of the impending retirement of the caretaker. The fire may have been electrical.


Fans can follow Neil Gaiman's nine-city video tour for his latest, the YA novel The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780060530921/0060530928). At each stop, Gaiman reads one chapter from the book and a video of it is posted the next morning.


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

Image of the Day: Banned Books Crime Scene

One of the displays at Bay Books, which sells new, used and rare titles in Concord and San Ramon, Calif. Diane Van Tassell wrote, "We love Banned Books Week because people buy books that they hadn't thought about buying. The displays give us a great reason to talk to the customers about books and they are usually shocked and often want to buy the books."



PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Banned Books Week in the News III

Some folks are celebrating Banned Books Week more literally than others, according to the Associated Press (via the Mercury News): "An Orange County school district has reinstated a series of fantasy vampire novels at its 12 middle schools after banning the books from campuses last week."

You just can't shock some people. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "a dozen authors and journalists gather[ed] on the steps of the Main Library at Civic Center and read passages from books that have been banned somewhere or other. . . . One by one, as the writers rattled off steamy paragraphs by the likes of D.H. Lawrence, J.D. Salinger and Malcolm X, it became clear that what might be tempestuous in Wasilla is tame stuff in San Francisco."

The Guardian's John Crace "condensed six forbidden fictions. Read them if you dare."

Lisa Navarro, assistant principal and English teacher at McGann-Mercy High School, Riverhead, N.Y., told the Suffolk Times "that although she's quite conservative on many issues of the day, she believes passionately in 'freedom of the press and being able to chose what you read.'"

Words and music. The Hartford Courant reported that the "first-annual first amendment rock off," held last night at Black Eyed Sally's in Hartford, Conn., was a musical tribute to Banned Books Week hosted by the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU and the Connecticut Library Association.


Obituaries: Adelaide Trigg; Dirk Zimmer

Adelaide Caroline Marston Trigg, co-founder of the Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Ala., which was in business from 1941 to 1991, died on Monday, according to the Press-Register. She was 89.

The store was named after the Christopher Morley novel of the same name. After the store closed, Trigg operated the Far Corners Book Search from her home.


Children’s book illustrator Dirk Zimmer died on Friday, September 26, at Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 64.

Zimmer died from injuries he sustained on September 23, when a vehicle struck him in New York City's Greenwich Village. Zimmer, a native of Germany, had lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years. The illustrator of nearly 40 children's books, Zimmer was best known for his humorous and haunting illustrations in Alvin Schwartz's In a Dark, Dark Room and Joanna Cole's tale starring Baba Yaga, Bony-Legs, as well as for his insightful, probing black-and-white artwork in Ted Hughes' The Iron Giant.

A private memorial service for Zimmer has been scheduled for this weekend.


SIBA: Southern Booksellers Fuel Up for a Good Season

Exhibitors at the 2008 Southern Independent Booksellers Association Convention and Trade Show in Mobile, Ala., came back from lunch Saturday to find an article from that day's Mobile Press-Register business section on their tables. The article, photocopied and distributed by the SIBA staff, described the gas shortages afflicting the Southeast, particularly Atlanta, Nashville and the Carolinas. Stories had already circulated about the long gas lines in Charlotte that led to fistfights. Several booksellers, including some prominent ones from North Carolina, had at the last minute cancelled plans to come to SIBA.

Instead of preparing for a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic world without "the juice" (stocking up on leather fetish-wear and sawed-off shotguns), the booksellers and publishers in Mobile nurtured a cautious optimism while recognizing the challenges waiting when they got home.

SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell said 414 booksellers from 96 stores and about 474 representatives of 101 exhibitors attended the trade show. "We had one vendor cancel," Jewell said, "and several bookstores--probably two or three--that had pre-registered, but cancelled. We had five stores register on-site, and usually it's more like 25.

"We come to the western part of the region every 10 years," Jewell continued. "These are always the smallest shows. For those considerations, we had a great turnout. It would have been even better, though, if not for the gas shortage."

The publishers and reps who did make it to Mobile felt the trip was worth it (assuming, that is, they were able to get back). "I was really engaged here at the booth, with lots of conversations with booksellers of mine," said Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, who covers Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and parts of Florida and Tennessee for Southern Territory Associates. "I got orders, and promises of more. I had a good time."

Carolyn Sakowski of John F. Blair, Publisher, even described the mood of the show as "cheerful. I didn't hear any pessimism. We've taken orders. We have a lot of events coming up, so we took a lot of orders for those. They're watching their freight costs, and taking advantage of free freight specials. I think everybody's watching their inventories, maybe ordering less copies, but I think a good independent bookseller is good at gauging their inventory needs, anyway."

This year's show featured two new events: the author-to-author interview with Steve Berry (The Charlemagne Pursuit) and Katherine Neville (The Fire), and the Fire & Brimstone SIBA Barbecue with authors Diane Wilson (Holy Roller) and Frank Durham (Cain's Version). American Booksellers Association staff were also on hand at the Bookseller School and on the trade show floor to answer questions about, and point out the capabilities of, the ABA's new IndieBound campaign and website.

"I was disappointed that a lot of people were unable to attend, and I personally know that the gas crisis in the South has been very damaging, as we enter our third week of it,"  Sally Brewster, co-owner of Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C., said. "I'm optimistic, though. I think that the publishers have strong lists for the winter, and I think that books in time of trouble become a bargain. I still think if everybody can not panic, and we take each day as it comes, this Christmas can be very good for booksellers and publishers."--Ed Southern, executive director, North Carolina Writers' Network


Media and Movies

Media Heat: 'Dalton Fury' on 60 Minutes

Today on Fresh Air: neurologist Oliver Sack, author of Musicophilia (Vintage, $14.95, 9781400033539/1400033535), now in paperback in a revised edition.


On NPR's Weekend Edition: Alonzo Mourning, author of Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph (Ballantine, $26, 9780345507013/0345507010).


Sunday on Meet the Press: Peggy Noonan, author of Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now (Collins, $19.95, 9780061735820/0061735825).


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Dalton Fury, author of Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312384395/0312384394).


Books & Authors

Awards: Connelly Wins Carvalho

Michael Connelly has won the 2009 Carvalho Prize and will accept it during the BCNegra crime festival in Barcelona, Spain, next February. The jury consists of Spanish writers, booksellers and journalists. The prize is named for a literary private detective, Pepe Carvalho, created by the late Manuel Vázquez Montalbán.

Connelly's new book, The Brass Verdict (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316166294/0316166294), is being published October 14.


Books for Understanding: Finance

The Association of American University Press's Books for Understanding listing about finance focuses on university press titles "for both general and specialist audiences that illuminate the roots of what has happened and the current situation and offer potent analysis of regulatory and market solutions."

More than 130 titles are available in the subject categories of Wall Street and financial markets; financial panics and market crises; market regulation; and business ethics. Among them:

  • The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It by Robert Shiller (Princeton, 2008)
  • Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts by Gary Stern and Ron Feldman (Brookings, 2004)
  • The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps that Every One of Us Falls Prey to by Robert Hoyk and Paul Hersey (Stanford, 2008)



Book Brahmins: Deborah Copaken Kogan

Deborah Copaken Kogan is the author of Shutterbabe, a memoir of her years as a war photographer, and the novel Between Here and April, to be published next Tuesday, October 7 by Algonquin Books. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Paris Match, Newsweek, Time, Elle, Géo, L'Express, PHOTO and on ABC News, Dateline NBC and CNN. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.

On your nightstand now:  

I just cleaned up my nightstand before going on vacation last week, re-shelving the gems and lugging all the rejects downstairs to the lobby of our apartment building, which acts as an ad-hoc library except you get to steal the books. Those that were allowed to take up precious shelf space in our small home were Netherland by Joseph O'Neil, which I loved, The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, which lived up to its name and then some, and The Accidental by Ali Smith, which had one of the more original narrative voices I've ever read. The books I removed from the nightstand to take with me on vacation were The Romantics by Galt Niederhoffer, which I mostly enjoyed, though I grew to loathe every character, and Three Junes by Julia Glass, a novel for which I literally ignored my children to keep reading. Oddly, sadly, I finished Glass's tale of a family reunited after the death of its patriarch the same day my father called to tell me he has pancreatic cancer and will be dead in a few months. Because of the synchronicity between fiction and fact, I find myself weirdly comforted by the fact that, unlike the three brothers in the novel, who meet up only after their father has passed away, my three sisters and I are about to embark on a two-week reunion of the Copaken clan on the Delaware shore, my dying father, age 67 and still full of passion and life, very much included.
Favorite book when you were a child:  

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved the idea of a family of girls venturing outside its comfort zone.

Your top five authors:

Ian McEwan, for every book he's ever written but especially for The Comfort of Strangers and Atonement; Philip Roth, especially for The Counterlife, American Pastoral and Sabbath's Theater; Stendahl, for The Red and the Black; Leo Tolstoy, but only for Anna Karenina, one of my favorite books, not for War and Peace, a mountain whose summit I've been unable to scale, though not for lack of trying; and Virginia Woolf, for Mrs. Dalloway, one of the most perfect novels ever, and A Room of One's Own, which I blame for the small fortune I spend every month for the writing studio outside my home.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never faked reading a book--I'm the first to admit I'm not as well-read as I would like to be--but I have discussed books I've started but never finished such as Ulysses (although I did read its excellent ending, just not all--okay most--of the middle) and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, of which I've read only Swann's Way and a smattering, here and there, of the rest. In fact, I really need to read the rest of that book. I will, I promise.

Book you're an evangelist for:  

The Counterlife by Philip Roth. Shut down your computer right now and go read it if you haven't. If you find the structure confusing, that's part of the experience. Just go with it.

Book you've bought for the cover:  

Moo by Jane Smiley, in hardcover when it first came out in 1995. I'd loved A Thousand Acres, and I was looking for a book to read during my two-week break between my job at NBC and the due date of my first child. And yes, I'm sure my newly engorged breasts and the fear of what I would soon be doing with them played into the choice as well, but there was something about those three stark letters--that word!--against a white background I couldn't resist. Of course, my son came early, and then I became his cow, and poor Moo sat on the shelf, gathering dust.

Book that changed your life:

I know it's cliché to say this, but clichés don't get to be clichés by accident, so I'll just throw it out there and duck: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm not an underliner by nature. I like to let a book wash over me as a whole entity, and if line by line, the sentences are beautiful, so much the better. Michael Chabon is the best sentence-constructor I know; Leo Tolstoy the best scene-creator. That mushroom gathering scene at the end of Anna Karenina--has there ever been a better scene in all of literature? Since I just finished reading Netherland, one of its lines struck and stayed with me, not because it's my favorite line in a book, just because it contained so much and ended so abruptly. Here it is: "Whether it was the alcohol or the unusual texture of the evening (she said with mock bitterness, 'I finally feel like I've arrived in New York. It's only taken me four years'), Danielle was in a state of happy excitement, and it seemed only right that she should follow me into the elevator and into my apartment and that we should begin kissing and, very soon afterward, #$@*ing." Great line.

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

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Best. Reading. Experience. Ever.


Book Review

Book Review: American Widow

American Widow by Alissa Torres (Villard Books, $22.00 Hardcover, 9780345500694, September 2008)

Alissa Torres' compelling new graphic memoir, American Widow, is her story of marrying a Colombian boy whose green card has run out and of their happy year together culminating in her pregnancy as he starts his new job on September 10 at the World Trade Center.

With a frequently lyrical art style designed by Sungyoon Choi, the unfolding story is a non-linear, intensely emotion-driven tour de force, never going where you think it's going, following its own trajectory through grieving and surviving. Instead of capitalizing on its subject matter, Torres' heartbreaking, Kafka-like tale of overnight vulnerability and dependence on bureaucracy is more concerned with the broken promises of the Red Cross, getting lost in labyrinths of red tape and the assault of often callous relief workers.

Choi's boldly graphic, frame-bursting style of artwork gives a comic book punch to a story that's mostly interior. The survival tale of Alissa is less about the tragedy than about the nightmare engulfing September 11 survivors in the aftermath. Frame by frame, page by page, baby in arms, Alissa has to learn how to negotiate strings of regulations and qualifications and unfulfilled government pledges while trying to cope psychologically and emotionally with Eddie's absence.

There's no disguising that the book is a monument to a real relationship. Photos of Eddie Torres are inserted into the text. It's a true cry from the heart, transformed by Choi's interpretive, frequently surreal artwork into something universal about loss, readable in a single emotion-choked sitting. Torres and Choi avoid sentimentality, and it's the silent frames that often carry the wallop. There's a page of loving tributes to her dog, Boris, for instance, with a frame on the page that says it all--the young mother under an umbrella with baby strapped to her chest, walking her dog in the rain.

Or consider the frame showing the sheer, monolithic side of the World Trade Center against a vast, open sky, with a tiny, tiny speck tumbling down. It took Eddie Torres 18 seconds to fall.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A compelling graphic novel by a young woman widowed on September 11. The artwork is lyrical, and the story of her loss is heartbreaking and often surreal.


The Bestsellers's Top 10 in September (Wallace Remembered)

The top 10 bestselling books on during September:

1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
3. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
4. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
5. Girl with Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace
6. Better Together by Rick Warren
7. Still Waters and Skyscrapers by Dave Tomlinson
8. Change the Way You See Everything through Asset-Based Thinking by Kathryn Cramer
9. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
10. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

[Many thanks to!]


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