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September 14, 5, 16, 17, 2015
2015 National Book Awards - Longlists

Jesse Ball - A Cure for Suicide
Karen E. Bender - Refund: Stories
Bill Clegg - Did You Ever Have a Family
Angela Flournoy - The Turner House
Lauren Groff - Fates and Furies
Adam Johnson - Fortune Smiles: Stories
T. Geronimo Johnson - Welcome to Braggsville
Edith Pearlman - Honeydew
Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life
Nell Zink - Mislaid

Cynthia Barnett - Rain
Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me
Martha Hodes - Mourning Lincoln
Sally Mann - Hold Still
Sy Montgomery - The Soul of an Octopus
Susanna Moore - Paradise of the Pacific
Michael Paterniti - Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays
Carla Power - If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran
Tracy K. Smith - Ordinary Light
Michael White - Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir

Ross Gay - Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
Amy Gerstler - Scattered at Sea
Marilyn Hacker - A Stranger's Mirror
Terrance Hayes - How to Be Drawn
Jane Hirshfield - The Beauty
Robin Coste Lewis - Voyage of the Sable Venus
Ada Limón - Bright Dead Things
Patrick Phillips - Elegy for a Broken Machine
Rowan Ricardo Phillips - Heaven
Lawrence Raab - Mistaking Each Other for Ghosts

Becky Albertalli - Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
M.T. Anderson - Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
Ali Benjamin - The Thing About Jellyfish
Rae Carson - Walk on Earth a Stranger
Gary Paulsen - This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs
Laura Ruby - Bone Gap
Ilyasah Shabazz - with Kekla Magoon, X: A Novel
Steve Sheinkin - Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
Neal Shusterman - Challenger Deep
Noelle Stevenson - Nimona

August 13, 2015

Joan on the $10 bill

Getting a jump on the proposed redesign of the $10 bill to feature a woman's image, Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif., has launched "a social media campaign in the hopes the U.S. Department of the Treasury will select Joan Didion," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Rob Bieselin, a graphic designer at Book Soup, initially debuted the idea on the store's sidewalk chalkboard. When "customers responded enthusiastically, Bieselin substituted a publicity photo of Didion for Hamilton, printed a 4-foot-long poster of the redesigned bill and hung it in the front window," THR noted. Book Soup is also giving away the Didion-adorned $10 bills with each book purchase.

September 1, 2015
... a little VERMONT NEWS
Chard deNiord named New Vermont Poet Laureate

Chard deNiord has been appointed Vermont poet laureate, succeeding Sydney Lea, who was named to the post in 2011. Seven Days reported that one of his goals "is to break down the walls of fear and intimidation many people feel toward poetry. Instead, he wants to help Vermonters, especially young people, to hear and appreciate poetry as 'essential language' that need not be reserved for weddings, funerals and other special occasions." His installation as state poet takes place November 2 in a ceremony at the Vermont Statehouse.

"I was stunned and humbled by this. I didn't expect it at all," said deNiord, a co-founder of the New England College MFA program in poetry. His books include poetry collections Interstate, Asleep in the Fire, Sharp Golden Thorn, Night Mowing and The Double Truth, as well as a collection of interviews with various American poets titled Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs.

DeNiord "joins an exclusive club," Seven Days noted. Vermont's first poet laureate, Robert Frost, was appointed in 1961 and served until 1963, after which there was a long gap until Galway Kinnell was named poet laureate in 1989. Since then, Louise Glück, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Grace Paley, Ruth Stone and Lea have held the position.

June 9, 2015
NCIBA Executive Director Hut Landon to Retire

   Hut Landon, the longtime executive director for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, announced last week his plan to retire by the end of the year.

   In a letter to NCIBA members, Landon explained that he has not tired of the book business. “What I am is a newly minted 65-year-old with a yen to spend more time at home and traveling with my wife, Joy,” he wrote.

   Since his announcement went out, “I have been overwhelmed, frankly, by the number of people who have taken the time to write to wish me well. It’s very gratifying and humbling,” said Landon.

   The NCIBA board has appointed a search committee to find Landon’s successor prior to the Fall Discovery Show, which will take place October 15–16 in San Francisco. Landon will serve on the committee and said he will stay with NCIBA as long as necessary to train his successor and ease the transition.

   Landon noted he would be interested in working part-time in a bookstore once he steps down from his post, and invited suggestions for book-related projects. “I’m not off to a retirement home, and I still want to work, but I’d also like the freedom to take a trip, spend more time with friends and family, exercise every day, and, every once in a while, just do nothing,” he said.

   “Hut has provided extraordinary leadership for NCIBA, and he is very highly regarded by all the regional associations around the country for his many, many contributions to indie bookselling, not the least of which is Independent Bookstore Day,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “I’ve had the honor of working with Hut for almost 25 years, and, speaking for myself and all us at ABA, we will miss him a great deal.”

   A longtime fixture in the bookselling community of Northern California, Landon became a bookstore owner in 1984 when he and his sister purchased a shop in Novato, California, naming it Landon Books. They later bought a second store in Marin County and closed the Novato location.

   Landon served on the NCIBA board as a bookseller for 10 years before becoming part-time assistant director. He closed Landon Books when he became executive director of NCIBA in 1999.

   As executive director, Landon has been integral in supporting the growing independent bookselling community in the region, introducing programs such as Book Sense, which later became IndieBound, and playing a key role in developing California Bookstore Day in 2014 and Independent Bookstore Day in 2015. Landon also co-founded and served as executive director of the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance.

(info from
Bookselling This Week)

small BLUE It's sad when someone who is really good at their job, someone who many people have come to depend on, decides to move on in their life. Of course, this sadness is a purely selfish feeling, because you also should be happy for the person who is moving on, for all the new excitements in their life. Hut was a person that Vicky and I had a little contact every year we had a bookstore. We counted on him for a warm greeting, the latest in bookselling/publishing news, and answers to any question we might throw at him.
   Often, whatever a question might be:
What's that new program from the NCIBA?
Who might know how to get a certain author into our bookstore?
Where might we find a job post-bookstore-ownership?
Is that last nasty Amazon rumor, true? .............................................. The answer was, "LET'S ASK HUT."
   He will be greatly missed by a vast multitude of people, and we all hope him the very best. Thanks for everything,

June 8, 2015
Books Inc. opens in North Berkeley after move
books      inside
Books Inc. shut down its smaller store on Fourth Street to move to 1491 Shattuck Ave., the former location of another independent bookstore, Black Oak Books, which closed in 2009. (Black Oak is now at 2618 San Pablo. Ave.)

   “This space is bigger, which is very helpful to us,” the store's manager said. “It allows us to expand our book and magazine selection, especially children’s books and cookbooks.”

   Baker did say that “a lot of people miss Black Oak Books.” Black Oak moved out of the Shattuck location six years ago as a result of financial struggles.

In a case of bittersweet timing, Books Inc’s opening comes just five days after the city’s oldest operating bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., shut down permanently. Its owner, Jon Wobber, also cited an inability to make money as the reason for the closure.

   The Books Inc move was initially scheduled for February, Baker said, but was delayed as Books Inc. waited for its construction permit. Books Inc., which became the company as we know it today in 1946, has a total of 11 bookstores in the Bay Area.

The new store is bigger than the Fourth Street one which means it is expanding its book and magazine selection, especially children’s books and cookbooks, according to manager Schyler Baker.

(see full article from Berkeleyside)


June 6, 2015
James Patterson Making Bookstore Grants in Australia, New Zealand
   As he did in the U.S. and U.K., author James Patterson is making grants to bookstores in Australia and New Zealand to spend on initiatives to encourage children to read. The grants, which he announced yesterday in Sydney, total $78,700; stores can receive as much as $3,936 each.
"I have been inspired, moved and delighted by the innovative proposals I have received from bookstores in the U.K. and the U.S.," Patterson said. "And I have been thrilled to see the real difference that these grants have already started to make. I can't wait to see the proposals from Australian and New Zealand bookstores."

"This is great news for an industry that is already seeing significant growth in sales for younger readers," said Joel Becker, chief executive of the Australian Booksellers Association. "Along with James, we celebrate the role that bookshops have in communities throughout Australia. We are excited about the opportunity that these grants will provide for bookshops to reach out to new audiences, and to develop ideas and programs that encourage young people to engage with the world of books and reading. Our members will take up this opportunity with a gusto that will knock your socks off!"


Ali Smith wins Baileys prize with How to Be Both
Weaving together the stories of a teenage girl in modern-day Cambridge and a 15th-century Italian artist, Ali Smith’s
How to Be Both has won the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, with chair of judges Shami Chakrabarti describing it as a work that will still be read in 100 years. The prize is worth £30,000, or about $45,955 American.

Berkeley's. Shakespeare & Co. Books Closes
shakeAs of today, intrepid readers looking to scour real life bookshelves for a new tome or tract have one less vendor in Berkeley. Shakespeare & Co. Books, which opened on Telegraph Avenue in 1964, has closed without formal announcement.

The owner wasn't immediately available for comment, but an employee said that yesterday representatives from Portland's Powell's Books, made Shakespeare an offer on the entirety of its stock. "They came in, looked around for a couple of hours, and said, 'We'll take it all,'" the employee said. He didn't specify terms but indicated that the offer was unexpectedly robust. "At that moment," he continued, "we had to the close the doors."

2499 Telegraph Ave., the parcel where Shakespeare has sold books for over fifty years, was sold late last year to Telegraph Partners LLC. The structure is in need of significant renovations. To properly upgrade the site, it was explained, Shakespeare would be forced to close for three to nine months. The company, wary of whether or not it could sustain the prolonged lull in sales, not to mention the herculean task of boxing up the entire stock during construction, reached out to Powell's.

Books Inc. Opening Santa Clara, California, Store Next Year
In July 2016, Books Inc., which has 11 stores in the Bay Area in California, is opening a 4,000-square-foot location in Santa Clara Square in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The Irvine Company is currently building the development, which will include retail, offices and condos, and is on the 101 Freeway, close to Levi's Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco '49ers. Books Inc. had a location in nearby San Jose that closed in the mid-1990s when a Barnes & Noble opened a block away. Later, a Borders opened in the spot Books Inc. vacated. "We are excited to return to the community we served for so many years," Books Inc. co-owner and CEO Michael Tucker said.

It's time, it has finally been released. I have, once again, completely absorbed myself into Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle ... this time we are up to Book Four. I may come out a changed man – all who know me are hoping –but I do find them so very  captivating. See you on the other side.



Santa Barbara's Granada Books Closing in May
   Granada Books, Santa Barbara, Calif., which launched a crowdfunding campaign last month to stay in business, announced Tuesday that it will close in May "despite the remarkable, amazing, heartfelt, and overwhelmingly generous giving from our community." Slightly more than $20,000 was contributed; the store had wanted to raise $50,000 by the end of March.

   On a personal note, when this store was first announced, Vicky and me both applied for the management positions at this bookstore, filled out a brutally long application ... and were never called. What if?? Two years was a short time for a bookstore to go down. One of our former employees worked for for Granada for a while. It's a tough world out there. -
small BLUE

                                 us  We make such a nice couple.

Just a thought, just a  suggestion ... whenever you can not explain anything, try the following phrase.
It must be the asparagus.
   small BLUE It works for me. You're welcome.



The National Book Critics Circle Award winners

Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Toni Morrison

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

The Essential Ellen Willis by Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr

The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Story Prize
Elizabeth McCracken wins for Thunderstruck

   Another day in the East Bay, and I found myself in another bookstore. Today it was the Books Inc. down on 4th Street in Berkeley ... which will be closing at the end of February and reopening in March on Shattuck Avenue, in the old Black Oak Books space. So, there I was looking for some more fiction and I came away with The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland ... which shows great promise.
   The following is a glimpse into how my mind works. The title caught my eye, I check out the blurbs and back cover, where I learn that the storyline is a flash to the past, the main character works for a newspaper and creates a written transcript using tapes and phone calls from reporters on the phone. But the sample that got my wallet out was the following:

   She walks to the window, where the sudden opening of the blinds startles the pigeon.
   "Jump," she says. She struggles to raise the window so that the bird can hear her better. Stuck. She bangs it with her hand. Finally it opens and she leans out. "Jump! You're a bird. Go on."
   He puts his claw down in defiance and looks at her with pigeon eyes.
   "It's not lice, is it, pigeon? A case of OCD, maybe?"

And I was sold.

I had a little time for book browsing in the rich stacks of Moe's Books, and I came away with a couple of good finds. First, I didn't even know it was out, but I'm now the proud owner of a quality book from Counterpoint Press - Our Only World, a collection of ten essays by the always thought-provoking Wendell Berry. I find myself already half way through the Berry essays, and I love the way this man's mind works, even when I don't at first agree with him, his writing is so kind and intelligent that I love to go along with him for the ride. He has lot to say, is very opinionated, but he's always a gentleman and will takes you through the logical steps of his thought process.  
   Up second, was an unknown find by Percival Everett, Virgil Russell. Its covers haven't been opened yet, and it remains an unknown element in my traveling library.


Literary Cups Again at Chipotle
Eight months after author Jonathan Safran Foer turned his mid-burrito boredom into a series of stories for Chipotle cups and to-go bags (by the likes of himself, Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, and George Saunders), he’s at it again. The fast-casual burrito chain on Tuesday announced a new slate of authors for its beverage cups and packaging. Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of Butterflies), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) are among the new additions.


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