Yes, another rep night! We're done with hosting for the season, but Next Chapter is the location for two more, where we can get more knowledgeable about the fall season. Even more than last year, I feel totally ignorant about what books are out there. I should know everything by December 26th.
Sadly, our Perseus/PGW rep was not able to attend, due to the flu, and I thought we'd also have some folks too sick to make it, but everyone wound up attending. In addition to Next Chapter, a good number of booksellers from Books and Company also attended, including our old friends Kathy and Ken from Schwartz, and Patti, who will be at the 2nd annual Holiday Artisan Fair at Boswell on Saturday, November 28th (11-6), Friday, December 3rd (3-8 PM) and Sunday, December 12th (11-5 PM).
Food was from Leonardo's Pizza across the street, a regular lunch haunt for me when I worked at the Mequon shop many years ago. I am rather obsessed with their meatball subs (it's about toasting the bread in the pizza oven), but the pizza is good too. It's very New York style, both in food and decor, in a way that nothing close to us in Milwaukee is.
Just a warning--not everything is out yet, but we'll be able to save a copy for you on any book's arrival date, and if you are not from Milwaukee, I'm sure your bookstore also will. The national internet sites, however, have told me in confidence that they can't accept anymore orders from you because you were mean to one of their electronic programs that makes recommendations. Sorry about that!
First up was Alex, our Penguin Kids rep. I know nothing except that we sell a lot of the plush "Llama Llama" from Merry Makers, and that every so often, Amie quotes from Llama Llama Red Pajama. Out for Christmas is Llama Llama Holiday Drama. Unlike little Llama, I am not that anxious for Christmas; there's still a lot of stuff to get ready.
Jerry Pinkney was awarded the Caldecott medal for last year's Aesop's Fables. He follows that up with Three Little Kittens. It's nice not to have to deal with one of those angsty writers! And though it's not really for kids, Ken mentioned their customers have really been enjoying the new Dick and Jane and Vampires. Especially their customers who are secretly vampires.
Alex's favorite book of the fall is Matched, by Ally Condie, a dystopian novel, a trilogy of course, about a society (called The Society) where everything is perfectly structured. Her grandfather gives her an illegal poem before his scheduled death at age 80. And she glimpses someone on her video screen who is not her official match. You know things are going to go badly. I need a map of all these horrible worlds out there. Lanora says it's good; that's all I need to know.
Next up was Cathy from HarperCollins. They don't generally publish too much high-profile fiction in the fall (you've already heard plenty from us about Moonlight Mile and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), but Cathy made a big pitch for Scott Spencer's Man in the Woods, a wonderful psychological thriller that returns to the same small town that was the setting for A Ship Made of Paper. Here's a piece from the Huffington Post that enthusiastically compares the novel to Theodore Dreiser! And to think a customer last week asked me if I thought she needed to read this book and I said, I don't know.
The Next Chapter folk were very hot on Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I thought to myself, why is this not on our Jane Austen table? It's not just about Elizabeth Bennet that Erin Blakemore writes about, but also Jo March, Scout Finch, Scout Finch, and whatever was the last name of Anne of Green Gables. Rebecca? Help me here.
From heroine to hero, Cathy gave a serious plug to Michael Korda's new biography Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabiance of Arabia. Korda is not all about horses, you know, but wrote the lauded bio Ike some years ago. There's also a family connection--I think Korda's family once had the movie rights to Lawrence of Arabia's life. Publishers Weekly called the book "magisterial." I'm sure you're not shocked that I haven't read it.
I could do a blog post on each presenter, but who has the time? May I just give passing reference to More Show me How (the sequel to a cool reference book that totally passed me by called Show me How), Fannie's Last Supper, Christopher Kimball's recreation of Fannie Farmer's Victorian Thanksgiving, that is going to be a PBS special, and Al Jaffee's Mad Life, which was my selection--yes, we each get to take a book to read at these?
And finally, a shout out to Russian Winter, a well-regarded novel about family secrets of famed ballerina that "harken" back to Stalinist Russia. There a lot of blog reviews of this sprawling novel, and here's one from Maplewood, New Jersey's Book Club Girl that found the novel particularly luminous. Mostly I wanted to plug this for our matryoshka table. We got in some new designs. Did I mention that they fit well in a stocking, and are very trendy as a design icon? Why not get the real thing?
Random House blue (the Random House and Crown groups, plus varoius distributed lines) brought the show home. John brings a lot of enthusaism to his presentations and I was ready to read everything afterwards. Jocelyn seconded his pick of Play Their Hearts Out, by George Dohrmann, the story of youth basketball (mostly in Southern California) that exposes the exploitation of young people and those who stand to benefit from it. Alex Kotlowitz-ish, and he doesn't use that comparison lightly.
The big book is Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, the long awaited, ten years in the making, follow up to Seabiscuit. It's the story of a an Olympic track star whose life was derailed by a particularly awful tour of duty in the Pacific. There are rafts involved, and that's not even the most grueling part. Great for adventure fans, and apparently you'll cheer for Louis Zamperini as much as you did for that horse.
You want fiction? John's pick is The Bells, by Richard Harvell, a first novel that has received all sorts of amazing reviews. I know a bit about this one since I wrote it up for an email newsletter. There were two great reads at Next Chapter. It's a historical novel, and the premise is sort of like Perfume, only with hearing instead of smell. Oh, and it's not a horrifying. Really wonderful, I'm told.
Oh, so much to read. First John reminded me I never read Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns. Then he psychologically ribbed me that I hadn't cooked anything out of James Peterson's Meat. Or any other cookbook, for that matter.
On to the next. I already feel smarter.