Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

New Canadian Imprint Launched 'In the Teeth" of Recession

"The parallel that everybody is making right now is with the 1930s, right? That's why we're all reading Galbraith's The Great Crash in our spare time. And what reassures me is that the 1930s were in fact the Golden Age of literary publishing in Britain. It's when Jonathan Cape and Victor Gollancz and Michael Joseph and Hamish Hamilton all created their own imprints. Allen Lane founded Penguin. And these brave souls, in the teeth of the most serious depression in history, all created publishing companies that are still with us today. So I think we need a little fortitude in these circumstances. And I also think that literary writing doesn't blow around too much in the economic weather. People who read literary fiction are not normally dissuaded by the economic circumstances."--John Makinson, Penguin's global CEO, quoted in the National Post on the launch of Hamish Hamilton Canada.


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


March Madness: Basketball Book Bracketology

In yesterday's edition of Shelf Awareness, we (the editorial "we" in this case being contributing editor Robert Gray) touted Foul!: The Connie Hawkins Story by David Wolf as the "best basketball book ever" in a news note about WORD bookstore's new literary basketball league. Not for a second did we think we would get away cleanly after throwing down a hardcourt gauntlet like that one.  

Jessica Wiener, associate director, marketing for Hyperion Books and Voice, wrote, "Since you issued the challenge on what the best book on basketball is, I thought I'd have to offer you ours--The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam. If not the best on basketball, it is the best on the NBA. And this is not just my opinion, it received the following reviews at publication:

  • 'One of the best books I've ever read about American Sports!'--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times
  • 'The most comprehensive and insightful book ever written about pro basketball.'--Kansas City Star
  • 'There hasn't been a better basketball book before or since.'--Bill Simmons,

And we have just rereleased the book, which has been out of print for years."

Great shot, Jessica, and we can only defend against those blurbs with the one broadcaster Howard Cosell gave to Foul!: "A superb book . . . Puts to rout forever the propagated notion that sport is a sacred cow and that the only milk it emits is pure."


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


Notes: Clinton at AAP; Carmichael's Bookseller of the Year

Speaking at the annual meeting of the AAP yesterday in New York City, former President Bill Clinton spoke on a range issues from books to the world economic situation to politics.

Clinton called books important for analysis, for organization and for linear thinking, "going from A to B to Z." Despite all the information available on the Internet, he said that people "need things that take more than five minutes to read and more than five months to write."

He predicted that because so many 21st century problems need to be addressed--various forms of inequality, political instability, global warming--there will be an increased demand for "how" books. That is, books that detail how to get things done and how to turn good intentions into positive actions to improve people's lives.

"Facts are not enough," Clinton continued. People need ideas from books and from reading history. He cited The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestly by Robert Schofield, a biography of the man who discovered oxygen and the symbiosis between plants and animals, as a work that might provide inspiration toward solving contemporary problems involving carbon dioxide. He also recommended Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success, "the best of the author's work."

Clinton portrayed himself as deeply involved with books. He claimed that he has been stuck with organizing the many books owned by his family in Washington, D.C., Chappaqua, N.Y., and even in Chelsea's apartment. He added that he's trying single-handedly to sustain Second Story Book Shop in Chappaqua.--Cynthia Clark


Congratulations to owners Carol Besse and Michael Boggs, as well as their staff at Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky., which has been named Publishers Weekly's Bookseller of the Year. Besse and Boggs own two stores in the city, both located in historic buildings. Carmichael's will be honored during BookExpo America in New York.


When her first book was published, Madison, Wis., novelist Jennifer Chiaverini had a signing at the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Brookfield, a happy event that would be replicated for her next 13 titles. But with the bookshop scheduled to close March 31, the Freeman reported that Chiaverini and two other frequent bestselling author visitors, Elizabeth Berg and Jane Hamilton, are participating in a bittersweet event this week to share memories of the store.

"I'd rather not be bidding my favorite bookseller farewell," said Chiaverini. "I'd hoped to be returning to the store for many more book events."
"We wanted to give our customers a sense of closure," said assistant manager Ken Favell, who organized the event that will begin at 7 p.m. and last "as long as we need it to."

Chiaverini praised the store's booksellers. "They care so much about books and inspiring a passion for new books and new authors," she said, recalling that, even from the beginning, "It was such a wonderful experience for a first-time novelist. I walked in the store and was treated as if my book was important.”


Clues Unlimited bookshop, Tuscon, Ariz., is moving April 1 to a "slightly smaller space." the Arizona Daily Star reported.

"We're leaving with great regret, because there's been a mystery bookstore here for 23 years," said owner Christine Acevedo. "But we need a location where there's more foot traffic."


"How dysfunctional is your reading?" asked the Guardian to introduce its "therapeutic quiz."


Two eminent British literary positions--Poet Laureate and Oxford professor of poetry--could both be filled by women for the first in history. The Guardian reported that Carol Ann Duffy appears to be the likely successor to current Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and Ruth Padel has "emerged as the frontrunner" to succeed Christopher Ricks as the Oxford professor of poetry.


PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Media and Movies

Media Heat: A Lion Called Christian

Tomorrow on the Steve Harvey Morning Show: Herb Kent, author with David Smallwood of The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent (Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review Press, $24.95, 9781556527746/1556527748).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Anthony Bourke, author of A Lion Called Christian: The True Story of the Remarkable Bond between Two Friends and a Lion (Broadway, $21.95, 9780767932301/0767932307).


Tomorrow on 20/20: Jeff Benedict, author of Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446508629/0446508624).


This Weekend on Book TV: Key West Literary Seminar

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, March 14

8 a.m. For an event at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Thomas Ricks, author of The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594201974/1594201978), discusses the change in U.S. military strategy and the people responsible for it. (Re-airs Saturday at 9 p.m.)

11 a.m. Coverage of events at the 2009 Key West Literary Seminar continues through the afternoon. Among the writers featured are Jane Kamensky, Jill Lepore, Eric Foner, Barry Unsworth and Gore Vidal.

3:45 p.m. Gholam Reza Afkhami, author of The Life and Times of the Shah (University of California Press, $34.95, 9780520253285/0520253280), talks about his biography of the Shah of Iran. (Re-airs Monday at 5:30 a.m.)
6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment that first aired in 1997, Jill Krementz discussed her book, The Writer's Desk, a collection of photographs of authors at work.

8:15 p.m. For an event hosted by Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., Dan Baum, author of Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780385523196/038552319X), chronicles the lives of nine people who have lived in the city since Hurricane Betsy hit in 1965. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Michelle Easton interviews Ann Coulter, author of Guilty: Liberal 'Victims' and Their Assault on America (Crown Forum, $27.95, 9780307353467/030735346X). Coulter contends that liberals engage in political bullying. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, March 22, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, March 15

8 a.m. Fred Kaplan, author of Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer (Harper, $27.95, 9780060773342/0060773340), examines Lincoln's writing and how it defined him as president. (Re-airs Saturday, March 21, at 3:30 p.m.)
11 p.m. For an event hosted by Back Pages Books, Waltham, Mass., Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, co-authors of Invisible History: Afghanistan's Untold Story (City Lights, $18.95, 9780872864948), offer first-hand accounts of the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during the late 1970s and the 1980s. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: IMBA Dilys Award

Trigger City by Sean Chercover won the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association annual Dilys award for 2009. Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen bookstore, Scottsdale, Ariz., announced the winner at the Left Coast Crime conference in Honolulu, Hawaii.
"To know that you enjoyed selling Trigger City is an incredible honor," said Chercover, who was not able to attend. "I am completely floored by your generosity, and I only wish I could be there in person. You have made me very happy."

The Dilys award is named in honor of Dilys Winn, founder of the first specialty bookseller of mystery books in the U.S. 


The 2009 Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts

The NCTE Children's Literature Assembly committee has selected its list of notable children's books in the language arts, titles that "demonstrate uniqueness in the use of language or style; involve word play, word origins, or the history of language; and invite child response or participation." The books will be featured at the NCTE and IRA conventions as well as in the Journal of Children's Literature and Language Arts.

  • Ringside 1925 by Jen Bryant (Knopf/Random House)
  • Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat by Nikki Giovanni (Sourcebooks)
  • Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World by Jan Greenberg (Abrams)
  • The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Amistad/HarperCollins)
  • Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Westen (Razorbill/Penguin Group)

Historical and Realistic Fiction

  • The Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean (Candlewick)
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Scholastic)
  • Peeled by Joan Bauer (Putnam/Penguin)
  • Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls (Levine/Scholastic)
  • Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff (Lamb/Random House)


  • There's a Wolf at the Door by Zoe B Alley, illustrated by R.W. Alley (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
  • The Secret History of Giants by Ari Berk (Templar/Candlewick)
  • The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Just in Case by Yuyi Morales (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
  • The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas (HarperCollins)
  • Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve (Scholastic)


  • A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans)
  • Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered by Barry Denenberg, illustrated by Christopher Bing (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)
  • Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist by Philip Dray, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (Peachtree)
  • Ain't Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson and Marc Aronson (National Geographic)
  • Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)
  • Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka (Viking/Penguin)

 Picture Books

  • Artie and Julie by Chih-Yuan Chen (Heryin)
  • Minji's Salon by Eun-Hee Choung (Kane/Miller)
  • The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, illustrated by Rosana Faria (Groundwood)
  • Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears by Emily Gravett (Simon & Schuster)
  • A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson (Simon & Schuster)
  • Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young (Little, Brown)
  • Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
  • One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)



Children's Book Review: Swim the Fly

Swim the Fly by Don Calame (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763641573/076364157X, 368 pp., ages 14-up, April 2009)

In his first novel, screenwriter Calame displays the pacing of an American Pie film, with three boy buddies instead of four. Ringleader Cooper Redmond lays out the plan in the first paragraph: "A real, live naked girl. That's the deal. That's our goal for this summer." Friends since kindergarten, this trio of 15-year-olds has swum on the Lower Rockville Razorbacks swim team since third grade. Sean Hance lacks a sense of humor, and, even worse, narrator Matt Gratton has a conscience--and also a crush on newly relocated Kelly West. Formerly a Dowling Dolphin, Kelly is a gold-medal-winning backstroker, and Matt only has eyes for what breaks the surface--oh, and her short brown hair and bright green eyes, too. That's why, when his teammate is out for the season because of a dirt bike incident, Matt volunteers to swim the butterfly stroke (hence the title) in hopes of winning the girl.
In the single-minded pursuit of their goal, the three go to any lengths to get a glimpse of female flesh, which leads to some outlandish predicaments. Picture the teen trio in drag (caught by Sean's sister--who ensures the success of their disguise for her own devious purposes), sneaking into the girls' locker room at the community center only to be undone by a mix-up in Max's mother's product packaging (between protein powder and fiber laxatives--you saw that one coming); or hiding in a bedroom closet, three-stooges-like, waiting to witness a coital rendezvous; or Sean and Coop stationed on either side of the dressing rooms where Kelly and her best friend, Valerie, are trying on bikinis at the mall, while Matt keeps lookout. Sex is on everyone's mind, it seems. Matt's older brother, Pete, makes out with Melissa in his room (she advises Matt: "Girls don't mind if you notice their breasts. Noticing can be flattering. Staring is creepy"), and even Grandpa Arlo has the hots for newly widowed Mrs. Hoogenboom. One of the book's laugh-out-loud scenes involves Matt and Grandpa Arlo role-playing, with Matt as Mrs. Hoogenboom. Matt's budding friendship with Valerie, and the relationship he forges with the lifeguard, Ulf, after he sneaks into a country club to practice the fly add a measure of poignancy to the mix. The relationship between Matt and his brother doesn't feel fully developed, but this is mostly a comedy, after all. With a spot-on cover that telegraphs its high-interest contents, this book will be passed eagerly among the guys.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Chicagoland's Topselling Titles

The bestselling books at Chicago area independent bookstores during the week ended Sunday, March 8:

Hardcover Fiction
1. The Women by T.C. Boyle
2. Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
3. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
4. The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Hardcover Nonfiction
1. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
2. A Jury of Her Peers by Elaine Showalter
3. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
4. Inaugural Address 2009 by Barack Obama
5. Dewey by Vicki Myron
Paperback Fiction
1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
3. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
4. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
5. The Way Through Doors by Jesse Ball
Paperback Nonfiction
1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
2. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
3. Animal, Vegatable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
4. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
5. The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket

Reporting stores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Unabridged Books; Women and Children First, Chicago

[Many thanks to the bookstores and Carl Lennertz!]


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