Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tor Nightfire: Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster


Notes: BookCourt's New Annex; Men's Reading Habits

"The 65-foot deep, 1,600-square-foot backyard annex to BookCourt is poised for unveiling--another sign that Cobble Hill's beloved book store is here to stay," the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.

Co-owner Henry Zook told the Eagle "the addition will permit BookCourt to restructure its entire space and double its inventory, addressing some 'systemic weaknesses.' The annex allows for greater seating capacity for the shop's popular evening readings and literary discussions, and soon we'll see, as well, tables and chairs for leisurely book browsing."

Zook also offered the optimistic forecast that "books do well in challenging times. . . . This is a strong, smart neighborhood, unique in its intimacy and scale. We've always depended on customer loyalty. We have really nice people here."


"An ordinary bookstore sells books. A quality bookstore gives out a warm welcome and makes experts available to ensure a good read," according to Epoch Times, which profiled the Dahesh Heritage Bookstore, in midtown Manhattan in New York, N.Y., and its celebration this year of Kahlil Gibran's 125th birthday.

Noting that customers visiting the bookshop "experience a taste of true Middle Eastern hospitality," the article paid tribute to "the bookstore's knowledgeable manager, Mike Masri, [who] exhibits a modesty that belies his education and experience."


A Wired magazine blog headline screamed, "Men Love the Internet. And They Don't Read Books," but the numbers appear less than apocalyptic. In a recent study conducted by Hall and Partners for Break Media, the "mythical and highly sought-after 18- to 34-year-old male is way more addicted to the internet than he is to television," Wired reported.

From the "Is it good news or bad news?" department, the results for "Activities Most Men Aged 18-34 Participate in Every Week" included text messaging (66%) and playing video games (60%), while "Activities Fewer Men Make Time for Every Week" was led by reading books (46%) and reading magazines (43%), compared to the the number of men who said they rent DVDs (33%), go to bars (also 33%) or go to the movies (20%).


Effective October 31, Bishop Hadley is leaving the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee, Wis., where he has worked nearly 13 years as a bookseller, manager and used book and remainder book buyer. He has worked in independent bookstores 25 years and hopes he will stay connected to the world of books and publishing. He may be reached at


Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Sales: AAP Sales Flat in August; September General Slump

In August, net sales rose 0.6%  to $1.5 billion for 79 publishers that reported to the Association of American Publishers. Net sales through August have fallen 1.4% to $6.651 billion.

Sales of selected categories:

  • E-books leapt 82.9%, to $4.3 million.
  • Children's/YA paperback jumped 18.4% to $69.4 million.
  • Adult hardcover rose 9.2% to $100.9 million.
  • Professional and scholarly rose 3% to $99.8 million.
  • Adult paperback edged up 1.8% to $147.4 million.
  • Adult mass market fell 4.5% to $70.1 million.
  • Audiobooks wound back 6.9% to $11.9 million.
  • Children's/YA hardcover fell 9.3% to $96.4 million.
  • Religious books dropped 10.8% to $61.1 million.
  • University press paperback slid 13.9% to $9.8 million.
  • University press hardcover fell 17.8% to $6.4 million.


In September, sales at general retail stores sagged at most types of stores, even luxury retailers, as the financial crisis deepened. Warehouse clubs were the only segment that had solid gains in sales at stores open at least a year: BJ's sales rose 10.4%, Sam's Club was up 4.6%. Wal-Mart sales rose 2.4%.

By contrast, sales at Saks dropped 10.9%, and Nordstrom's was down 9.6%. Even some value stores with a less utilitarian feel had lower sales: Target dropped 3%. Kohl's was down 5.5% and Penney was off 12.4%.

The Wall Street Journal commented: "The September numbers show a nation paring back in the face of economic uncertainty, fleeing extravagance in favor of low-priced basics. Discretionary spending is drying up as Americans grapple with higher food and energy prices, depressed home values and diminished retirement accounts."

Not surprisingly the results helped to lower already low expectations for the holiday season. As the Journal put it: "Forget Charles Dickens. For America's retailers, it's looking more like a Charles Darwin Christmas."


Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Four Treasures of the Sky
by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui ZhangDaiyu, named after a tragic heroine, is the young protagonist of Jenny Tinghui Zhang's stunning debut novel, Four Treasures of the Sky, a work of historical fiction set in the 1880s. Daiyu happily follows a stranger when he promises her a full belly, but instead of feeding her noodles, he smuggles her from China to California, where she begins a dizzying journey that fuses folklore and history with a masterful eloquence. "There's still a strong bias toward thinking of the lone cowboy as the quintessential symbol of the West," says Flatiron senior editor Caroline Bleeke, who quickly fought to preempt the book after reading an early manuscript. "But that elides the experiences of everyone else, particularly women and POC." A book to sit alongside Yaa Gyasi's Homecoming and Anna North's Outlawed, this is a powerful tale of reclamation, spun with soul by a remarkable new talent. --Lauren Puckett

(Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781250811783, April 5, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Richard Branson Flies onto Publicity Radar

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Richard Branson, author of Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur (Virgin Books, $26.95, 9781905264421/1905264429).

Also on Today: Paula Deen, author of Paula Deen's My First Cookbook (S&S, $21.99, 9781416950332/1416950338).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jeff Henderson, author of Chef Jeff Cooks: In the Kitchen with America's Inspirational New Culinary Star (Scribner, $30, 9781416577102/1416577106).


Tomorrow on the Tavis Smiley Show: Peggy Noonan, author of Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now (Collins, $19.95, 9780061735820/0061735825).


Tomorrow on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal: James Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too (Free Press, $25, 9781416566830/141656683X).

Also on Bill Moyers Journal: George Soros, author of The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means (PublicAffairs, $22.95, 9781586486839/1586486837).


Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

This Weekend on Book TV: No One Sees God

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 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, October 11

1 p.m. For an event hosted by Olsson's Books & Music, Washington, D.C., Thomas Hager, author of The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Discovery That Changed the Course of History (Harmony, $24.95, 9780307351784/0307351785), recounts the invention of synthetic fertilizer and the controversial uses to which it has been subsequently applied. (Re-airs Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)
2 p.m. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, author of Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now, (Collins, $19.95, 9780061735820/0061735825), argues that the electorate must support the next president and eschew partisan politics. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)
3:15 p.m. Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier, co-authors of America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11--The Misunderstood Years Between the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Start of the War on Terror (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586484965/1586484966), examine how decisions that took place at the end of the Cold War continue to affect U.S. foreign policy following September 11. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Rita Braver, senior correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, interviews CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer about his new collection of essays, Bob Schieffer's America (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399155185/039915518X). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m.)
Sunday, October 12

5 a.m. Michael Novak, author of No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers (Doubleday, $23.95, 9780385526104/0385526105), contends that atheists and the religious share a lack of confirmation when contemplating the existence of God. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)
2 p.m. Peter Gosselin, author of High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families (Basic Books, $26.95, 9780465002252/0465002250), contends that 25 years of free market principles have resulted in an unreliable job market and an erosion in benefits. (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: The Forward Prize

Mick Imlah's The Lost Leader won the £10,000 (US$17,588) Forward prize for best poetry collection two decades after "his first poetry collection Birthmarks was published to critical acclaim," according to the Guardian.

"I had imagined, when the judges re-convened, that there would be some heavy debate about the possible winner of this category," said chair of judges Frieda Hughe. "But it was unanimous: Mick Imlah's collection, The Lost Leader, 20 years in the coming, is worth the wait."

Other Forward prize winners included Sunday at the Skin Launderette by Kathryn Simmons, which took the £5,000 ($8,784) Felix Dennis prize for best first collection; and Don Paterson's "Love Poem for Natalie 'Tusja' Beridzethe," winner of the £1,000 ($1,757) best individual poem award.


Children's Book Review: My One Hundred Adventures

My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath (Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 9780375845826, 272 pp., ages 12-up, September)

Horvath (Everything on a Waffle; The Canning Season) adopts a meditative mood in this heartwarming tale narrated by 12-year-old Jane Fielding during one pivotal summer. The poignant moments outnumber Horvath's trademark humor, which proceeds from a characteristically eccentric cast of characters. The Fieldings are one of the few families that stay on the Massachusetts oceanfront year round. Jane and her three siblings lead a modest yet self-sufficient life with their mother, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. They gather oysters from the sea, grow their own vegetables and make jars of homemade jam. Each Sunday, they walk together to the steepled church in town with its "woody-smelling pews . . . and soft, much-opened hymnbooks." This summer, Jane has learned to pray, and she prays for some excitement, "the prospect of adventures to be had." Soon after, a stranger appears whom Jane deems "the clothes hanger man" for the way his attire hangs loosely from his limbs. Her mother invites him to dinner, and he takes them to a nearby fair. Next, Nellie Phipps, the preacher, drafts Jane to deliver Bibles with her, and the girl winds up dropping the Good Word literally from on high--while traveling inside a hot-air balloon. Jane's mother takes the family on a road trip to help ailing Mrs. Parks visit her sister and rescues another neighbor's dog from the violent ocean surf. Mother and daughter share a compassion for others, often at their own expense, as when Jane is roped into further evangelical missions with the preacher and also a baby-sitting gig (as a direct result of the preacher's misfired recruitment plan). Several different men (in addition to the clothes hanger man) pass through that summer, and for the first time Jane begins to contemplate who her father might be. Jane and her mother both have secrets, the heroine realizes, but she does not need to let that separate them. She comes to an understanding of many things, not least of which is that Jane feels more connected to than separated from others, and that "all our lives are mundane but all our lives are also poetry." Horvath gracefully suggests that the great adventure is living in the moment: being a good neighbor, tasting strawberry jam, listening to the sounds of the sea.--Jennifer M. Brown


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: What's So Funny About Your Favorite Books?

Just before I ventured off in mid-September on my regional trade show pilgrimage, I asked how booksellers might answer a customer who asks, "Can you recommend a novel that is just pure fun? Everything I read is so depressing. I just want to be entertained."

Reader response has been enthusiastic, diverse and, well, "fun!" (exclamation points being unquestionably the fun book punctuation mark of choice).

Anne Holman of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, contends that "#1 has to be Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage, followed closely by Towing Jehovah by James Morrow because who couldn't laugh about using God (literally) to feed the masses. And if you've never read Patrick Dennis' The Joyous Season, you're in for a real treat (especially if you live in NYC)."

Although Linda Grana and her colleagues at Lafayette Bookstore, Lafayette, Calif., "prefer the darker side of fiction, literature and classics, we do have over 150 registered book clubs, so we inevitably get asked the 'fun fiction' question. Our answer is usually Jonathan Tropper. He's funny, his characters are well-developed, so much so that you feel you know them, and he's compelling. He's perfect for anything from lovers of dark literature that need a palate cleanser, to book club members who want something lighter for vacation than their typical club selections of the moral/ethical dilemma. My dilemma is the customer who's already read all the Troppers!"
Getting philosophical on us is Joe Foster of Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.: "My philosophy about reading is a lot like my philosophy about food. I truly enjoy a great meal, and cook them at home as often as possible on my limited bookseller's salary. The truth of the matter is, though, I wouldn't want osso bucco every night, as much as I love it. There are times for gourmet, and there are times when you want to sit on the couch and eat three bowls of Lucky Charms, knowing full well that you're gonna give yourself a stomach ache. It's all about mood and knowing yourself enough to know what you want, and giving yourself permission to indulge.

"Choosing a book for yourself is a fine art. Choosing a good book is relatively easy, I think. We all do it all the time. Matching book to mood, however, is a much more magical and far less obvious task. Doing it for someone else is nigh on impossible . . . and yet, we all do it all the time. Finding a book that is entertaining without . . . pandering to the lowest common denominator, a book that is fun while maintaining its literary merit (and allowing us to maintain our elitist sensibilities) is a challenge."

A challenge Joe doesn't shrink from. We'll list his picks in full (with annotations) at the end of this series, but here's an appetizer: "Marc Estrin's Insect Dreams--The story of Gregor Samsa post-Metamorphosis set against the backdrop of the early twentieth century. Smart, ironic, touching, and funny as hell."

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series was initially recommended as "good fun books--from the 'delightful' angle of fun" by Efrat Lev, foreign rights director, Deborah Harris Agency, Jerusalem, Israel. Efrat later added, "Since I wrote, I read another fun book that I can wholeheartedly recommend for your list: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson. You may have heard of the recent film starring Frances McDermott--a movie I have not yet seen, but understand that the story was somewhat changed for the movie (the beautiful young actress character in the movie becomes an American, not English, which really changes much of the subtleties of the story). The book was pure fun!"

Ann Perrigo, director of the Allegan, Mich., Public Library gets right to the point:
  • Let's start with fun and mindless: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series
  • Fun and romantic? Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Fun and high-class? Wodehouse's Bertie and Jeeves or even Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody
  • Fun and creepy? Stephen Koontz's Odd Thomas or Gil's All-Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
  • Fun and bloodthirsty? You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
  • Fun and just-plain-bizarre? Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C. D. Payne

"You've struck a nerve," Ann adds. "I love to laugh when I'm reading! I'm in the middle of my first Stephen Koontz Odd book right now, and it is such a surprise that it's making me laugh. I had no idea! Have fun with your list."

We will.

What's so funny about your favorite books?--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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