Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Quotation of the Day

The Long Supply Chain Tail?

"Serving Vancouver and Calgary from warehouses in Toronto is like having the nearest Gardners serving the south of England in Volgograd."--Michael Tamblyn, president and CEO of BookNet Canada, speaking about some of the challenges of book distribution in Canada at the International Supply Chain Specialists meeting yesterday in Frankfurt.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens


Notes: Anderson's Family Success; Happy Bookseller Tribute

An understanding of the marketplace and its customers has been an important part of the success of Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., according to the Naperville Sun. Co-owner Becky Anderson said the key to the shop's longevity is to "remind customers we're so linked and involved with our community. Our employees are like family, and the way we treat our customers is like family."

"We've been here so long, and we care so much," she continued. "I think we're always looking for ways to connect and for people to know who we are. It's always a challenge to get new customers to know what we do."

Anderson also noted the bookstore's commitment to ABA's IndieBound program. "The economic impact of a locally owned community business is so much bigger than any chain or box store can do," she said. "It's a totally unique experience that you can't get anywhere else. But we can't rest on our laurels. We have to keep working at it."


Former bookseller Todd Morehead recalled his "top five celebrity moments" at the Happy Bookseller, Columbia, S.C., which is scheduled to close this month. In a heartfelt tribute in the City Paper, Morehead wrote: "On a community level, we suffer the loss of yet another irreplaceable local business. But, the real blow comes to Columbia's literary landscape. From academia to beach read betties, all of us, even down to the little kids who loved to come get lost in the oversized children's section on the weekends, have all been affected by the news of the store's closing.

"The closing is particularly sad for the booksellers, both past and present. The Happy Bookseller was this writer's meal ticket throughout college and kept my light bill paid during the formative early years of this newspaper. But, it was always way more than a paycheck to me. Some days it was family, a kinship with book folk on both sides of the counter."


Regional impact from the recently announced December closing of the GM sport utility vehicle factory in Janesville, Wis., "still is being gauged in the Stateline Area as business and government officials wait to see what will happen next," the Beloit Daily News reported. Among the businesses contacted for the piece was Turtle Creek Bookstore, Beloit, where manager Peter Fronk observed that it is too soon to gauge what might happen to the local economy.

"You just never know," Fronk said, adding "the store has been attracting even more customers. Some say they would rather spend their money on a book that will keep them entertained for awhile, as opposed to a one-night movie ticket. You can enjoy it for days, as opposed to just a couple of hours."


In case of fire, read these. L.A. Observed reported that "Mark Hull, publisher of Red Hen Press, got the word to get out of his Granada Hills home office as the Sesnon Fire bore down. Which books did he choose to save for himself and his wife, Red Hen editor and founder Kate Gale?"

Celeste Fremon asked and posted the answer at Witness L.A.

"He was packing Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar for Kate, which she has read, of course, but want to reread. (I told him that I wasn't sure it made for the cheeriest evacuation reading.) For himself, he packed Heat Wave by Jill Marie Landis. (A cheeky choice, he acknowledged, but also a good book.) He was also packing Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus for both of them."


Book Aid International is holding an online book auction on eBay "to raise money for literacy development in sub-Saharan Africa," according to the Guardian, which added that the charity effort "runs until October 27 [and] features books that have inspired many leading figures in the worlds of literature, art, politics and entertainment. Each has been asked to inscribe the book that has most inspired them with a few words about why that book is important to them."

The list of participating celebrities  includes Helen Mirren, who chose Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, Ian McKellen, Robbie Coltrane, David Cameron and Twiggy.


"Have books become the new target for internet piracy?" asked Rhodri Marsden in the Independent, noting that a "recent study by the Swedish book publishers association discovered that 85 per cent of Swedish best-sellers are currently available on torrent site The Pirate Bay, and publishers and authors have reacted to this news with the same panic-stricken gasps that we've been accustomed to hearing from music business executives."


Oh, Oh Dept.: "Deciding what to click on next when searching the Internet may help stimulate the brain of middle-aged and older adults beyond the benefits of reading alone, researchers have found," according to CBC News.


More about the Great Expectations: A Reading Marathon, which was held this past weekend at some 10 independent bookstores across the country (Shelf Awareness, October 14, 2008).

Jenn Northington, events and marketing manager at the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah, wrote: "We did a shortened Red Wagon Read-a-thon this past Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and had a blast. There were about 10 readers on and off throughout the event, ranging from one first-grader to a mom and her fifth-grader reading together. It was a hugely successful fundraiser; we raised $650 in books and monetary donations for the Book Wagon, a local charity that provides books to children at nine low-income housing projects in Salt Lake County. And, we continue to get calls about book donations! Interestingly enough, all the readers were female. The girls especially enjoyed the yoga breaks and trivia games (book-based questions provided on the spot by King's English booksellers), and all went home with prizes for everything from Most Trivia Questions Answered, to Most Money Raised, to Most Pages Read, to Most Time Spent Reading.

"We'll probably have to do another one come spring, since the parents all were asking when the next would be!"


Effective November 1, Ponent Mon, publisher of the Fanfare and Ponent Mon imprints, is will be distributed by Midpoint Trade Books. The publisher has been distributed by Atlas Books.

Ponent Mon and Fanfare publish sophisticated graphic novels such Nananan Kiriko's and Eisner Aware Nominee Jiro Taniguchi's new book, The Quest for the Missing Girl, which appears here December 4.


Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Reading Group Month: WNBA Events; Reading Group Choices

The Women's National Book Association (WNBA) is collaborating with readers, publishers, trade organizations, bookstores and libraries during October for its second annual National Reading Group Month to promote reading groups and to celebrate the joy of shared reading.

"Reading groups are to the literary world what slow food is to our fast food nation," said  WNBA national president Joan Gelfand "They encourage people to slow down and think deeply about themes, characters, and plot. They encourage discourse in a culture where most communication is by text message."

The National Reading Group Month signature event, sponsored by the WNBA-Seattle Chapter, will be held at University Book Store on October 20 and spotlight authors Nancy Pearl, Diane Hammond and Nancy Horan, along with Mary Ann Gwinn (Seattle Times book editor), Cheryl McKeon (Third Place Books), and Rebecca Willow (Parkplace Books). For more information, contact Henriette Anne Klauser, or Anna Johnson,

Other events of note:

October 25: WNBA-Boston at Hotel 140 with event co-sponsor Village Books, Roslindale, Mass., will include a readers’ round-robin with Joan Anderson, Ann Harleman, Judy Gelman & Vicki Levy Krupp, Jennifer Haigh, Judith Nies, Deborah Noyes and Gina Ogden. Contact Laurie Beckelman,, or Katherine Dibble,

October 25: WNBA-Los Angeles at Book Soup bookstore with David Fuller, Yxta Maya Murray and Lisa See. Contact: Kelly Sullivan-Walden,, or Ruth Light,

Oct. 27: WNBA-New York City at the New York Center for Independent Publishing, featuring Judy Gelman & Vicki Levy Krupp, Anisha Lakhani, Alice Mattison, Dalia Sofer, Elizabeth Strout and Anya Ulinich. Contact Valerie Tomaselli, or


Reading Group Choices has just published Reading Group Choices 2009: Selections for Lively Book Discussions: Selections for Lively Book Discussions, the 15th anniversary edition of the book group and recommended reading guide. This year's version includes more than 75 new titles from such authors as Leif Enger, Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Miller, Richard Russo and Ann Patchett as well as some first-time authors.

Some 16,000 libraries and bookstores receive copies of the guide. Other recipients are all Women's National Book Association chapters celebrating National Reading Group Month, participants of the annual Book Group Expo and many attendees of state and local book festivals. Thousands of reading group leaders and members purchase the guide every year to enhance their book discussions.

To order a copy of Reading Group Choices 2009, go to or call 866-643-6883.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Supercapitalism

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Rick Tramonto, author of Osteria: Hearty Italian Fare from Rick Tramonto's Kitchen (Broadway, $35, 9780767927710/0767927710).

Also on Today: Thomas Buckley, co-author of Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook (Kodansha International, $39.95, 9784770030801/4770030800).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: An American Bookworm in Paris, Part III, focusing on Pierre Alféri, author of Oxo (Burning Deck, $14, 9781886224667/1886224668) and Natural Gaits (Sun & Moon, 9781557132314/1557132313) and Emmanuel Carrère, author of Class Trip & The Mustache (Picador, 9780805055870/0805055878) and The Adversary: A True Story of Monstrous Deception (Picador, $13, 9780312420604/0312420609). As the show put it: "In this episode of our ongoing series, the American Bookworm leaves philosophy and politics and makes his way to his true loves: poetry and fiction. The poet Pierre Alféri is secretly the son of the philosopher Jacques Derrida. The novelist Emmanuel Carrère thinks he may have given up fiction. What is it with these Frenchmen?"


Tomorrow morning on CNN's American Morning: Cherie Blair, author of Speaking For Myself: My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316031455/0316031453).


Tomorrow on the View: George Hamilton, author of Don't Mind If I Do (Touchstone, $26, 9781416545026/1416545026). He will also appear tomorrow morning on the Today Show.


Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Bob Schieffer, author of Bob Schieffer's America (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399155185/039915518X).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Robert Reich, author of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life (Knopf, $25, 9780307265616/0307265617).


Movie: Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius, based on a 1993 New Yorker article by John Seabrook, opens on Friday. Greg Kinnear stars as Robert Kearns, an engineer who for decades fought Detroit automakers after they stole his invention: the intermittent windshield wiper. The article is included in the Seabrook's book Flash of Genius: And Other True Stories of Invention (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95, 9780312535728/0312535724).


Books & Authors

Awards: Adiga Wins Man Booker Prize

Aravind Adiga won the 40th Man Booker prize for his debut novel, The White Tiger, just published here in paperback by Free Press ($14, 9781416562603/1416562605). According to the New York Times, "Adiga, who lives in Mumbai, was born in India and brought up partly in Australia. He studied at Columbia and Oxford and is a former correspondent for Time magazine in India." At 33, he is the second youngest writer to win the award after Ben Okri, who was 32 when he won the 1991 Booker for The Famished Road.

Michael Portillo, chairman of the panel of judges, said Adiga's novel won "because the judges felt that it shocked and entertained in equal measure."

Adiga described The White Tiger as an "attempt to catch the voice of the men you meet as you travel through India--the voice of the colossal underclass. This voice was not captured, and I wanted to do so without sentimentality or portraying them as mirthless humorless weaklings as they are usually."

This year's shortlist for the £50,000 (US$87,000) Man Booker prize included The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant, The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher and A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz.

The Guardian reported that Portillo also praised the way Adiga "undertakes an extraordinary task--he gains and holds the attention of the reader for a hero who is a thoroughgoing villain," and calls readers' attention to "important social issues: the division between rich and poor, and issues on a global scale. And it is extremely readable."

Portillo noted that the main criterion for the prize is: "Does this book knock my socks off? And this did."


Book Brahmin: M.T. Anderson

After his novel Feed, which imagined a world in which teens have a microchip installed in their brains to receive a constant flow of information, earned a slot as a National Book Award Finalist in 2002, M.T. Anderson won the 2006 National Book Award for Young People's Literature for the inaugural volume in his two-part historical novel set during the American Revolution, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party. This week readers will discover what becomes of the hero after his escape from the College of Lucidity, where he had been an "experiment" to a group of Boston philosophers, when Candlewick publishes The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves.
On your nightstand now:

Kiran Desai's Himalayan epic The Inheritance of Loss and Raymond Chandler's The High Window. Both books about mean streets, some steeper than others.
Favorite book when you were a child:

Anything by Ray Bradbury. Books like Dandelion Wine and The Martian Chronicles defined for me what it was like to live in small-town America. And on another planet.
Your top five authors:

Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Brockdon Brown, Donald Barthelme, Laurence Sterne and Tove Jansson.

Book you've faked reading:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Yeah, okay, it's not so long, but I was in a tight position.
Book you are an evangelist for:

Two autobiographies: for adults, Fanny Burney's Journals and Letters, a deeply moving glimpse at a brilliant woman over 70 years. She begins her journal as a slip of girl. Secretly, without knowledge of her father, she becomes one of the country's leading novelists of wit. She is forced unwillingly to become a handmaid to the Queen of England . . . finally falls in love in middle-age . . . and on and on. She describes it all in a series of astounding portraits.

Also, I often recommend Henry Bibb's Narrative to high school teachers who want to discuss slavery but who don't want to force the kids to untangle Uncle Tom's Cabin. It is thrilling, tragic and triumphant.
Book you've bought for the cover:

Who cares about the covers? I read only books with matching spines. Of course, this kind of restricts my reading to Penguin Classics and the Library of America.
Book that changed your life:

I fear to say that I devoured everything by Evelyn Waugh as a teenager and, as a result, ended up in an English boarding school, exchanging sophomoric barbs while eating lunches that consisted of nothing but hard-boiled eggs and piles of grated cheese.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America. Loved it beyond all measure as a young man. I tried going back at 35. It was definitely the one that got away.

Book Review

Book Review: Waking Giant

Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David Reynolds (Harper, $29.95 Hardcover, 9780060826567, October 2008)

In this highly readable history, David Reynolds writes, "The Age of Jackson [1815-1848] came to a close in 1848. In some ways, of course, that age never ended: the political, economic, and cultural forces it set in motion are still felt." Not only felt, they are with us today with a vengeance: severe bank crises; a widespread evangelical Christian revival; an imperial presidency; wars of suspect purpose; and, mud-slinging campaigns for the presidency.

Using a vast and complex canvas, Reynolds brings to life the period when the U.S. woke up to its destiny as a world power--a period marked by outsized characters, political chicanery and just plain craziness. His command of narrative is as impressive as the astonishing trove of facts that portray the development of the country's distinctive brands of culture and politics. At the center of the canvas is that gift to biographers and historians, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson arrived on the national scene in 1815; his leadership of the small American force that defeated 10,000 British at the Battle of New Orleans made him into a celebrity. In the popular mind, he was a potent killing machine and, as his 1824 presidential campaign slogan proclaimed, "Old Hickory, the Nation's Hero and the People's Friend." Although he lost that contested election, he returned in 1828 to win and serve two terms rich in progress, turmoil and controversy. Reynolds says, "Andrew Jackson was one of the rarities of American politics: a man whose personal magnetism transcended his flaws." He was the first president born in a log cabin, the first to be the target of an attempted assassination and, so far, the only president to pay off the national debt. Reynolds's portrait of Jackson will leave readers almost too breathless to utter, "They don't make them like that anymore."

Through Jackson's own passions, Reynolds examines everything from inventions and fads to political party feuds. The age saw expansion of the country to the Pacific Ocean, waves of immigration, transformation of a rural nation to an urban one and our ascension to world power. A parade of crises and shameful presidential policies also clouded the period. Jackson viewed the Bank of the United States as elitist and arrogantly let its charter expire--in due course, under his successor Martin Van Buren, the bank Panic of 1837 ushered in the worst depression up to that time. The hugely expensive and arguably concocted War with Mexico (1846-47) claimed 12,000 American casualties, but the peace treaty brought us California, Nevada and Utah. The Removal Act to relocate Indian tribes typified the racism disguised as paternalistic concern that was the stock-in-trade for the nation's leaders then. Amidst the tumult and change, the question of slavery lurked and festered, from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the divisive Wilmot Proviso of 1848. It would be dismissed, denied and evaded until it plunged the nation into the Civil War.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A magisterial history of the Age of Jackson (1815-1848) that is also entertaining and surprisingly apt for our own tumultuous age.


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