Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, November 2, 2021

William Morrow & Company: End of Story by A.J. Finn

From My Shelf

Country Gifts, City Gifts

Ways of living have shifted pretty dramatically this year, so it stands to reason that gift-giving might change as well. With supply-chain issues gumming things up, it's wise to start holiday buying as soon as possible, while booksellers continue to do everything they can to help you find the perfect gift.

Maybe someone on your list developed a newfound appreciation for American National Parks. Make them giggle with Amber Share's Subpar Parks (reviewed below), a comical survey of one-star reviews for some of the country's most beautiful natural attractions. Or perhaps they are more of an "indoor kid," someone who's picked up crafts and hobbies recently and might more readily appreciate America the Beautiful Cross Stitch from Becker & Mayer ($19.99). Who says you have to go to a National Park to appreciate it?

Going places and doing things, though, can be made all the easier with Rob Taylor's Road Trip Survival Guide stashed in the glove box (reviewed below). And I'd go so far as to suggest The Pendleton Field Guide to Campfire Stories (Chronicle, $19.95) as a way to make the "getting there" more than half the fun. Sure, everybody has a mile-long podcast queue, but there's something special about storytelling as a shared activity.

I haven't forgotten the city mouse on your list. For them, I recommend Between the Lines: Stories from the Underground by Uli Beutter Cohen (Simon & Schuster, $24.99). Personally, I'm always leaning awkwardly to see what other passengers are reading on planes and trains, and so, mercifully, this collection removes some of the guesswork. More than 150 strangers present the books accompanying them on their commutes, like a grown-up Reading Rainbow.

Between these and the 17 books reviewed below, gift-giving this year should be a snap. And in this instance, you're welcome to take my word for it. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Jewish Book Council: 73rd National Jewish Book Award Winners

Book Candy

Rediscovered Recipes of Moorish Spain

Atlas Obscura explored "how a librarian and a food historian rediscovered the recipes of Moorish Spain."


For fans of the Netflix series You: "I am haunted by Joe's stupid little bookselling apron." (via Gawker)


Untapped New York revealed "the top 10 secrets of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street."


This 'underwater bookstore' in China allows readers to see water plants and fish in the lake." (via China News Service)


"The downfall of Oscar Wilde: an animated video tells how Wilde quickly went from celebrity playwright to prisoner." (via Open Culture)

Sleeping Bear Press: Junia, the Book Mule of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, illustrated by David C. Gardner

Book Review

Gift Books

1000 Perfect Weekends: Great Getaways Around the Globe


1000 Perfect Weekends is a beautiful, photo-packed offering from National Geographic, sure to expand anyone's bucket list. Destinations are grouped into 18 chapters, including beaches, mountains, cities, small towns, wildlife and nature themes, family-friendliness and off-grid options. Explore "kayaks like floating La-Z-Boy recliners" on the Delaware River, coffee tours in Panama and a bee farm in the Philippines, alongside references to UNESCO sites, architecture, dining, adventures and a delightful ode to libraries in the chapter on "Historical Explorations." Entries are short, punchy and accompanied by mouthwatering photographs and frequent, inspiring top-10 lists (sporting events, theme parks, spas). Adrenaline-fueled, enabled and accessible, pet-friendly: there is a perfect weekend for everyone in this tantalizing book, an obvious choice for the frequent flier and the armchair traveler alike. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

National Geographic, $40, hardcover, 704p., 9781426221453

What Alexander McQueen Can Teach You about Fashion

by Ana Finel Honigman

Ana Finel Honigman's What Alexander McQueen Can Teach You about Fashion makes it clear the late fashion designer had a lot to say. Fashion can seem elitist and glossy, but McQueen rose to fame by deconstructing fashion to make it edgy and unsettling. His shows exhibited dark and deeply personal themes, as he took inspiration from the violence in his Scottish roots and his identity as a gay man who came from hardscrabble beginnings. His famous skull prints came from his belief that it's "important to look at death because it is a part of life." McQueen's bold creations pronounced his message to embrace all of life, its wildness and darkness as well as its beauty. After all, he said, "There is blood beneath every layer of skin."--Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Frances Lincoln, $16.99, hardcover, 144p., 9780711259065

Dad, How Do I?: Practical "Dadvice" for Everyday Tasks and Successful Living

by Rob Kenney

Faced with an empty nest, Rob Kenney started a how-to YouTube channel that went viral. He'd grown up in a large Catholic family, and after his parents' divorce and his father's abandonment, he learned primarily from his elder siblings' examples. Part I of Dad, How Do I? collects advice he wishes he'd received, on work ethics, living generously and making decisions. The more you can do yourself, the more self-confidence you'll have, Kenney contends, so in Part II he delivers empowering information on using tools, building a fence, doing laundry, shopping for bargains, managing finances and more. Diagrams make this a practical guide. Dad jokes and a conversational tone (the book opens "Hey, kids!") make for an amiable, informal read with a mild Christian message. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Morrow, $24.99, hardcover, 224p., 9780063074996

Collective Wisdom: Lessons, Inspiration, and Advice from Women Over 50

by Grace Bonney

Nearly 100 women share priceless lessons learned through experience: trailblazers like Cecilia Chiang, who emigrated from China to become the first woman to win a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award; Rosita Worl, working to preserve and celebrate the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Native cultures of southeast Alaska; and Imara Jones, who chaired the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on Gender Diversity and held economic policy posts in the Clinton White House; swimmer Diana Nyad and writers Carmen Agra Deedy and Eloise Greenfield. Alongside gorgeous photos, they discuss their beginnings, their influences and offer advice to the women coming up behind them. A standout profile: the founders of Gee's Bend Quilting Retreat, named for the area near Jackson, Miss., where formerly enslaved Africans later became landowners; the event attracts quilters from around the world. Their photo depicts hands joining together individual squares into something bigger, stronger--an ideal metaphor for this beautiful book. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Artisan/Workman, $35, hardcover, 400p., 9781579659431

Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World's Most Creative People

by Debbie Millman

In the foreword to the stirring new anthology Why Design Matters: Conversations with the World's Most Creative People by Debbie Millman, the author Roxane Gay proclaims Millman to be "one of the finest interviewers working today." She is, naturally, quite biased--Millman is Gay's wife. But the following 350-plus pages prove powerful evidence for Gay's thesis. A curated collection of interviews from Millman's time as a podcast host, Why Design Matters features insights from such luminaries as Brené Brown, Aminatou Sow, Saeed Jones, Ira Glass and Amber Tamblyn. The volume might not be what readers expect at first, especially if they're hoping for a primer on aesthetics. Rather, this is not a particularly visual book at all; there are no images apart from headshots. Why Design Matters chooses, instead, to allow the design to take place in the reader's head as they absorb the wisdom of the greats. It's an unusual but powerful tactic, making for an absorbing and well-organized book. --Lauren Puckett-Pope, freelance writer

Harper Design, $60, hardcover, 368p., 9780062872968

Virginia Woolf: Quotes from a Feminist Icon

by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf is well known for her pithy aphorisms about love, writing, feminism and the need for "a room of one's own." This eponymous collection of quotes collects Woolf's wisdom on these and other topics, including "Living Well," "Being Oneself" and "Seeking Truth."

Beautifully designed with lettering in bold orange and purple, the book consists entirely of quotes from Woolf's body of work about reading ("Books are the mirrors of the soul"), falling in love ("Love had a thousand shapes"), fierce independence ("Thinking is my fighting") and the "knife's blade" separating happiness from melancholy. A perfect size to flip through or slip into a pocket for inspiration on the go, this collection gives readers a tantalizing dose of Woolf and will leave them wanting more. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Laurence King, $12.99, hardcover, 128p., 9781913947132

Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors

by Amber Share

This guide to America's National Parks has something for everyone: humor, history and travel tips. Amber Share's funny, smart and majestically illustrated Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors grew out of her awe in these natural spaces of grandeur, and her incredulous reaction to others' complete irreverence toward them.

Each entry offers a chance for Share to illustrate a park's beauty and, in her hand-lettered type, to highlight a single tone-deaf one-star review. Her entries for 77 parks, organized by the National Park Service's seven geographic regions, are as entertaining as they are informative. The Grand Canyon, the site that ignited a then 10-year-old Share's passion for the great outdoors, garnered this one-star review--"A hole. A very, very large hole." A review of Arches National Park--"Looks nothing like the license plate"--set off the light bulb for this project. Share attempts throughout to "include information about the indigenous history and relationships with these lands," which held sacred meaning for the nations who resided there. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Plume, $22, hardcover, 224p., 9780593185544

The Road Trip Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks for Planning Routes, Packing Up, and Preparing for Any Unexpected Encounter Along the Way

by Rob Taylor

The Road Trip Survival Guide by Rob Taylor, the creator of the 2TravelDads blog, is a friendly and informative travel guide perfect for both experienced road-trippers and novice voyagers alike. With five practical sections--Planning, Packing, Road Trip Food, Safety and Itineraries--Taylor has every aspect of road-tripping covered. He's thought of everything, providing recipes for road-friendly snacks, items to buy to keep kids happier in the car, the best way to clean your car before the trip begins and amazing itinerary options. He also includes tips for making travel greener and seeking out restaurants and lodgings that support local economies, making it a perfect gift for the eco-conscious traveler. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson

Tiller Press, $17.99, paperback, 208p., 9781982177065

NPR's Podcast Start Up Guide: Create, Launch, and Grow a Podcast on Any Budget

by Glen Weldon

With the world of podcasts continuing to expand, NPR Arts Desk editor Glen Weldon offers helpful advice and witty commentary in NPR's Podcast Start Up Guide: Create, Launch, and Grow a Podcast on Any Budget. Weldon pulls together detailed information on every step of the process, from idea to implementation. Don't know the difference between omnidirectional and shotgun mics, or how to handle copyright issues? This guide answers the questions of any would-be podcaster while keeping the tone fresh, funny and accessible. Weldon also supplies interactive exercises to give every new show the best chance of success, including marketing, distribution and metadata suggestions. Each beloved podcast starts somewhere, and this book is ideal for those looking to be the next big hit. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

Ten Speed Press, $28, hardcover, 304p., 9780593139080

Little Pieces of Hope: Happy-Making Things in a Difficult World

by Todd Doughty, illus. by Josie Portillo

Todd Doughty began Little Pieces of Hope: Happy-Making Things in a Difficult World as Instagram posts coincident with the pandemic onset, and has now turned the concept into a delightful book of everyday items and musings, with whimsical illustrations.

His lists are eclectic: Old card catalogs. Someone believing in you. The whistle of a train. Bacon. Roger Angell writing about baseball. The smell of a cut lemon. David Sedaris's recording of Santaland Diaries. National treasures John Lewis and Edna Lewis. "Let's make it a true Daily Double." A starry night. Lingering over that one last drink after the check arrives.

Doughty advises readers to "Hug a little tighter. Take a moment.... Today is a good day." Live with attention, gratitude, curiosity. This is a book to cherish. --Marilyn Dahl

Penguin Life, $16, paperback, 256p., 9780143136569

The Art Museum in Modern Times

by Charles Saumarez Smith

Charles Saumarez Smith's The Art Museum in Modern Times, devoted to works of art that house works of art, is itself a work of art. The book abounds with gorgeously reproduced black-and-white and color photos--of buildings and galleries, of their creators--that help the author tell the stories of each of 43 art spaces, from New York's Museum of Modern Art (1939) through Shanghai's West Bund Museum (2019). Smith, whose formidable credentials include a stint as director of London's National Portrait Gallery, scatters his engaging building bios with memorable remarks by the featured architects and their critics, one of whom felt that Frank Lloyd Wright's model for New York's Guggenheim Museum (1959) "looked something like a big, white ice cream freezer." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Thames & Hudson, $39.95, hardcover, 272p., 9780500022436

Keith Haring: 31 Subway Drawings

by Keith Haring, essays by Jeffrey Deitch, Carlo McCormick, Henry Geldzahler

This trim art book showcases some of Keith Haring's most elusive art: his chalk on black paper drawings that were created on the walls of the New York City subways. From 1980 to 1985, Haring created more than 5,000 chalk drawings: he jumped out at a subway stop, found an empty wall panel, filled it with spontaneous art and boarded the next train, seeking another blank canvas. "The drawings are by necessity quick and simple," writes Haring. "This is not only for easy readability but also to avoid getting arrested." Most of this art is preserved only through photos taken at the time. Some show Haring creating them while subway passengers rush past. The collected art is vintage Haring: goofy, bold, political and accessible. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Princeton University Press, $39.95, hardcover, 64p., 9780691229973

African Artists: From 1882 to Now

by Chika Okeke-Agulu, Joseph L. Underwood

Make room for African Artists: From 1882 to Now, a stunning coffee-table title that is itself a substantial, gorgeous display. Conceived by internationally renowned art publisher Phaidon, this impressive compilation showcases 316 modern and contemporary artists who "were either born within the continent or have lived there at some time," representing 51 of Africa's 55 countries. "Rather than curiosities or latecomers, as some Western critics have claimed, the artists profiled in this book alert us with greater urgency to the remarkable and profound work that has and continues to come out of Africa during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries," writes Princeton professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, whose introduction is a contextual treasure trove. The glorious paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs--by artists who represent Africa's "triple heritage: indigenous, Arab/Islamic and European/Christian"--appear in alphabetical order, with biographies penned by prominent global experts. Scholar Joseph L. Underwood appends an extensive glossary. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Phaidon, $69.95, hardcover, 352p., 9781838662431

The Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living

by Sarah Lozanova

Think green living is hard? It's not. Author, teacher and environmental journalist Sarah Lozanova shines a solar-powered light on hundreds of environmentally friendly ways to reduce carbon footprints and save money in the process. Yes, the pages in this book contain recipes for homemade nut milk and kombucha, strong arguments for tiny house living and backyard gardening, but there are also affordable ideas for simply fixing the air quality in a home. Even the pros and cons behind such lofty concepts as upcycling, the Buy Nothing movement and a zero-waste kitchen are thoroughly explained and debated in this must-have, thought-provoking handbook. Don't worry, Birkenstocks are not required, just an open mind to the bigger picture of how to make Earth-dwelling a better experience for everyone. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer

Princeton Architectural Press, $25.95, hardcover, 168p., 9781616898502

The Beginner's Guide to Wheel Throwing: A Complete Course for the Potter's Wheel

by Julia Claire Weber

Clearly presented color photos and concise instructions make The Beginner's Guide to Wheel Throwing the perfect introduction for students interested in the potter's wheel. Artist and instructor Julia Claire Weber's friendly, encouraging voice guides readers through fun, yet impressive, projects such as bowls, mugs and plates.

Weber's course starts from the beginning, with an introduction to the tools and materials, a primer on how to properly use the wheel and the importance of studio safety. Within the 144 pages, the author also includes insider tips and advice from her years of experience and offers insight into her particular decal technique. To round off the immersive workshop experience, a gallery of photos interspersed throughout the book and featuring work from some top contemporary ceramicists will inspire readers as they progress on their creative journeys. --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer

Quarry Books, $26.99, hardcover, 144p., 9781631599354

Create Your Own Midlife Crisis: The Best Way to Make the Worst Decisions

by Marie Phillips

Women in midlife--and those exasperated by them--will laugh out loud, lost in a zany labyrinth of "what if" scenarios scripted by British comedy writer Marie Phillips. This inventive, compact book delivers 154 short, humorous set-ups that deal with no-holds-barred issues faced by women in midlife--especially those who long to extradite themselves from responsible, predictable living.

Presented with real-life crisis scenarios--comedic spins include general intolerance and burnout at work, marital and parental boredom, the perilous woes of home improvement and aging--readers select options, from the pragmatic to the daring, on how to handle each dilemma. Each choice then leads readers to other chapters mapping out how their decisions adventurously play out. Phillips's fun, clever antidotes offer a hilarious escape from the mundane. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Chronicle Prism, $15.95, hardcover, 168p., 9781797207100

Camouflage: 100 Masters of Disguise from the Animal Kingdom

by Steve Parker

Spiders transform into bark, jaguars become invisible against the forest floor and a crab disguises itself with pieces gleaned from its ocean home in this guide to animal camouflage masters, written by science author Steve Parker (A Short History of Medicine). Organized by global region, the entry for each animal subject gives a few vital statistics before diving into the fascinating specifics of its particular method of concealment. Awe-inspiring photographs show the creatures' adaptations in action, including bodies that mimic leaves and bark, like the satanic leaf gecko does; patterns that lose themselves in light and shadow, like that of the largemouth bass; and the memorable, self-explanatory bird-dropping caterpillar. Adult nature lovers will want to disappear into this spellbinding menagerie, as will budding enthusiasts aged 12 and up. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Ivy Press, $35, hardcover, 240p., 9780711260238


Author Buzz

Visions of Flesh and Blood:
A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium

by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Dear Reader,

Today is the release of VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, the Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium, and I am so excited that you finally get to see and read it!

I saw the love you had for Miss Willa, watched how following along with all the series twists and turns brought you joy, and thought... wouldn't it be nice to have a book to help with that, yet give even more new stuff?

So, my publisher and I came up with a plan. It included loads of stunning art commissions, strategic disclosures, and brand-new material. When it all came together, it was even better than I imagined.

VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD is so much more than a series bible. It's a journey and a work of art. A collector's item for sure!


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: Visions of Flesh and Blood: A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
February 20, 2024


List Price: 
$7.99 e-book

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