Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Insight Editions: Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend by Joshua Greene

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Walker Books Us: Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz


Notes: Borders Directors Shuffled; Books Inc. Changes

As had been announced earlier this year (Shelf Awareness, April 16, 2009), Borders is replacing more of its board of directors, which will be effective at the September 17 board meeting. The moves solidify the control of Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund that is Borders's single-largest shareholder. The outgoing directors are Don Campbell, Joel Cohen, Amy Lane, Brian Light and Larry Pollock. The new directors are:

  • Paul J. Brown, president, global brands and commercial services, Hilton Hotels Corp.
  • Ronald J. Floto, president, FLT International.
  • Michael Grossman, CEO, Tempo Payments.
  • Dan Rose, v-p, business development and monetization, Facebook.
  • Timothy V. Wolf, chief integration officer, MillerCoors.

The new directors join board chairman Mick McGuire, Borders CEO Ron Marshall and lead independent director Mike Archbold.


Because of "the harsh realities" of the current economy, Books Inc., which has 11 stores in California, has restructured its main office and let go Barry Rossnick, senior trade buyer.

Books Inc. co-owner and CEO Michael Tucker called it "the hardest thing I've ever had to do running the company." He noted that since the beginning of the year wages were frozen and executives have taken weekly furloughs each quarter to avoid store-level layoffs. Books Inc. announced last week it is opening a 4,000-sq.-ft. store in Berkeley. Tucker said, "The last thing I thought I'd do this year is open another store, but the developer really wanted a bookstore and gave us what we needed to make it happen."

Rossnick may be reached at


Attention, shoppers. Supermarket chain Tesco "has unveiled its 'real readers' panel for its relaunched book club run with Random House plus their book of the month choices," according to the "The panel comprises five Tesco customers who won a competition to be part of the initiative by suggesting a title for the book club. Their review of their chosen book will be printed on the back cover of the titles--a combined total of 20,000 copies--being made available across 750 stores."

Tainted by Brooke Morgan is the August choice. Upcoming picks are I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass for September, Some Other Eden by Natasha Farrant for October, The Jewel Box by Anna Davis for November and A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg for December.

"As our research shows, many people are unsure of what to look out for when buying a new book," said Tesco commercial manager Hazel Powell. "The aim of the Tesco Book Club Real Readers Panel is to offer advice from customer to customer and encourage everyone to pick up a new type of book."


Book trailer of the day: Whiskey Gulf by Clyde Ford.


Headline of the week: "Is Google Books an Explorer, or a Conquistador?"--PC Magazine.

Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto

June Sales: Publishers Gain 1.8%

In June, net book sales rose 21.5% to $942.8 million as reported by 84 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, sales rose 1.8% to $3.710 billion.

Results by category:

  • E-book exploded 136.2% to $14 million.
  • Higher education climbed 60.6% to $357.2 million.
  • Adult mass market jumped 30.9% to $94.2 million.
  • Adult paperback rose 15.7% to $132.6 million.
  • Adult hardcover climbed 12.6% to $132.1 million.
  • Children's/YA paperback was up 1.1% to $46.3 million.
  • Children's/YA hardcover fell 2.8% to $47.8 million.
  • University press paperback dropped 7.4% to $3.4 million.
  • Professional and scholarly fell 11.7% to $55.9 million.
  • Audiobook slipped 17.3% to $12.9 million.
  • University press hardcover slumped 20.1% to $3.3 million.
  • Religious books fell 22% to $41.7 million.


Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books

Media and Movies

Media Heat: E.L. Doctorow and Pat Conroy

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: E.L. Doctorow, author of Homer & Langley (Random House, $26, 9781400064946/1400064945). As the show put it: "In this comic and affecting novel based on the lives of the Collyer brothers--one a blind pianist, the other a hoarder and inventor--E. L. Doctorow creates an ironic allegory of modern America."


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Pat Conroy, author of South of Broad (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385413053/038541305X).


Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Double your donation!

Television: The Vow

Gabrielle Union will co-star and be an executive producer on the Lifetime movie, The Vow (Harper, $13.95, 9780060762285/0060762284), adapted from the novel by Denene Millner, Angela Burt-Murray and Mitzi Miller "about three women who attend a wedding and all decide to be engaged within the next year," according to Variety.


Movies: Taking Woodstock Part II; The Descendants

For the movie Taking Woodstock, which opens Friday, October 28, Newmarket Press is publishing Taking Woodstock: The Shooting Script (9781557048479/1557048479, $19.95). Besides the film's script, the paperback includes a foreword by director Ang Lee, an introduction by screenwriter James Schamus and a 32-page color portfolio with notes on the production of the film, movie stills and historical photos. Also in the book: a timeline of events that led to the concert and a glossary of possibly unfamiliar words (axe: any musical instrument, or any tool you use to do your art; lid: an ounce of marijuana).


Alexander Payne (Sideways) will direct a film version of The Descendants (Random House, $14, 9780812977820/0812977823), Kaui Hart Hemmings's debut novel about "a wealthy landowner who takes his two daughters on a search for his wife's lover in the hopes of keeping his family together," Variety reported.

Although the movie has not been cast yet, plans call for filming to begin on location in Hawaii at the end of the year or early 2010. 


Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Stephen White

Stephen White is the author of the Alan Gregory novels for which he draws on more than 15 years of clinical practice as a psychologist.
 The latest in the series is The Siege, published by Dutton on August 4. Born on Long Island in New York, White attended the University of California campuses at Irvine (where he lasted three weeks as a creative writing major) and Los Angeles before graduating from Berkeley in 1972. Along the way he learned to fly small planes, worked as a tour guide at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, cooked and waited tables at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and tended bar at the Red Lion Inn in Boulder. After receiving his doctorate, White not only worked in private practice but also at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and later as a staff psychologist at the Children's Hospital in Denver, where he focused on pediatric cancer patients. White now divides his time between Colorado and a yet incomplete, though always enjoyable search for a perfect place to escape Front Range winters.

On your nightstand now:

I just received an early copy of Kevin Guilfoile's second novel, The Thousand. I adored Cast of Shadows, so I can't wait to dig into this one. I keep Al Silverman's masterful recollection of mid-20th century American publishing, The Time of Their Lives, nearby for perspective for those moments when I'm confronted by a lament about the modern book business. I'm happily wading through Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible because I am fascinated by physics, awed by the author's capacity for simple prose about complex concepts and humbled by my ignorance. I'm determined, someday, to be able to say something intelligent about string theory. I am also re-reading my brother Richard's remarkable book, The Middle Ground.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was a voracious reader as a child, but not much of a re-reader. The book I remember being most enamored with was Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island.

Your top five authors:

May I say how much I try to avoid this question? Thank you. I will limit myself to listing some writers I've never met who have written things that, were I a less mentally healthy person, I might be tempted to envy: Jonathan Lethem, T. C. Boyle, Anne Tyler, Pete Dexter, John Irving.

Book you've faked reading:

The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien. I tried. I really did. During one of the book's many renaissances (the enlightenment in Berkeley in 1970) it seemed important, even crucial, that I had read it, so I memorized a few names--Gimli? Bilbo?--and I encouraged my friends to believe I was a fan. Hey, I'm sorry. But not sorry enough to try again.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Peter Barton's and Laurence Shames's uplifting memoir about living and dying, Not Fade Away. And Anne Fadiman's love letter to books, Ex Libris. Her voice is exquisite and her affection for her subject is, at once, personal and universal.

Book you've bought for the cover:

With my apologies to art directors, any specific reply to this question would be an act of fiction. I don't recall ever being swayed by a cover alone.

Book that changed your life:

Can I have two? John Fowles for The French Lieutenant's Woman. Perhaps I read it at a perfect time in my life, but it showed me the possibilities inherent in the novel form.

And I don't think I would have a career as a writer had I not met Jonathan Kellerman when he and I were both practicing pediatric psychologists specializing in the care of children with cancer. A few years later, his first novel, When the Bough Breaks, convinced me that psychology and crime fiction could coexist.

Favorite line from a book:

I love a first line that says an enticing thing or two, and that leaves a thousand things unsaid. Like, "When Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her." That's Anne Tyler's, from Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Or, " 'I should feel sorrier,' Raymond Horgan says." That's Scott Turow's intro to Presumed Innocent.

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

How about one each from a couple of childhood friends? To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. What are the odds of that happening? Throw in Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, just because.

Book Review

Book Review: Born Round

Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by Frank Bruni (Penguin Press, $25.95 Hardcover, 9781594202315, August 2009)

Warm, funny and always engaging, Frank Bruni's memoir traces his circuitous (one might even say round) route from baby glutton to New York Times restaurant critic with a realistic but never falsely self-deprecating view of his own weaknesses and a generous helping of irony.

Bruni was born into a large and affectionate extended Italian family (though his mother was a reserved WASP, she quickly adapted to the Bruni style) who showed their love--indeed, all their emotions--with food, carefully and abundantly prepared. Not that young Frank needed much coaching--as a youngster he regularly out-ate his two brothers and could keep pace with many adults as well. Bruni's relationship to food was primal and passionate seemingly from the womb. In one of the book's funniest anecdotes, Bruni relates that, at 18 months, he developed a sort of "baby bulimia," vomiting on demand when his mother refused to give him a third hamburger or a fourth cookie. Such lust for food resulted inevitably in excess weight, something Bruni would struggle to control his entire life. In elementary school, Bruni's initials became an acronym for "Fat Boy" and even his excellent performance on the swim team couldn't help him from having to shop in the husky section.
Bruni's mother often corralled him into trying new diets with her and so he learned bad habits early, from fasting to no-carb, protein shakes to purging. This last method followed Bruni to college, where he became truly bulimic, bingeing and purging until fear for his health and the disgust of some close friends forced him to stop. But the yo-yo dieting, overeating and subsequent weight gain continued into his adulthood and resulted in loneliness and persistent self-loathing despite his burgeoning career in journalism. Not surprisingly, portion control and a rigorous exercise program became Bruni's ultimate Holy Grail, finally allowing him a trim figure and a positive self-image. Ironically, of course, this transformation occurred only after Bruni took the job as restaurant critic, necessitating that he literally eat for a living.
There is so much to recommend in Born Round that it is difficult to précis even the highlights, although the love and humor with which Bruni suffuses his pitch-perfect descriptions of his family and their delicious meals is certainly among them. So too are his hilarious and involving anecdotes of his life as a journalist; from joining then-Governor George W. Bush on the campaign trail to going undercover in New York City's upscale restaurants. It's an unusual story, and Bruni tells it with great style, wit, warmth and flavor.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: An excellent addition to the food and foodie memoir genre that explores familiar themes in an entirely fresh manner by the (now ex) restaurant critic for the New York Times.



Katz on Dogs: A Hardcover Story

Yesterday's attainment section didn't fully recognize the achievement of Soul of a Dog: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz (Villard, $24, 9781400066292/1400066298).

The book is coming up in hardcover next Tuesday, not paperback. Our apologies for any confusion!


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles at Indie Mystery Bookstores

The following were the bestselling titles at member bookstores of the International Mystery Booksellers Association during July:

1. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)
2. Rain Gods by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
3. Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
4. Fire and Ice by J.A. Jance (Morrow)
5. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson (Knopf)
6. The Defector by Daniel Silva (Putnam)
7. The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King (Bantam)
8. The Shimmer by David Morrell (Vanguard)
9. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Doubleday)
10. Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey (Random House)

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (Vintage)
2. A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
3. Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie (Avon)
4. The Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva (Signet)
5. Secondhand Spirits by Juliet Blackwell (Berkley)
6. Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (Anchor)
7. Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliett (Midnight Ink)
8. The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow (Vintage)
9. Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews (St. Martin's)
10. Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
10. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson (Harper)

[Many thanks to the IMBA!]

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