Bank on Booksellers Auction This Week!

Mo Willems, "Piggie Has An Idea"Don’t forget to sign on tonight for Parnassus Books’ charity auction BANK ON BOOKSELLERS. (You can see the piggy banks now; bidding starts at 7:30 pm EST)

You’ve probably heard about the auction by now, but if not details are in this blog post from earlier in the week.

It’s going to be a blast! And proceeds will not only help Steph Appell at Parnassus but booksellers throughout the country since Parnassus is donating part of the proceeds to Binc.

Book of the Week: News of the World – Paulette Jiles

This little book has taken a long, peripatetic road to publication. Originally intended as a March 2016 publication, we started requesting bookseller reads over a year ago. Along the way, a funny thing happened….

Paulette Jiles is a respected author of (mostly) literary historical fiction. Perhaps that’s the reason that reads for this small gem of a novel started slow out of the gate. Maybe it’s because people felt they knew Jiles; maybe it’s that at first blush it looked too much like a “western”… Whatever the reason, the curious thing is that when someone did read the book, they couldn’t let it go—they had to tell someone else about it.

Reviews below will explain what the book is about but here are a few broad strokes: At first it seems a simple story about an elderly Civil War vet asked to return a white captive girl who had been living with the Kiowa in Northern Texas. The miracle of the book is that in just about 200 pages Jiles opens a window on another time and creates and enduring, unforgettable relationship between an old man and a child.

I was one of those readers who couldn’t let it go and I got two early bookseller endorsements from two very different parts of the country:

Jiles is talented on every level – true voices, character development, historical accuracy, humor and poignancy.  She proves that a fantastic book can be accomplished in under 225 pages.  What a gem! The story itself is beautiful.  But the bonus for me was the geography and demographic of the Captain and Johanna’s journey thru post-Civil War Texas – an era and area with which I was unfamiliar, along with the relationships between the free blacks, war veterans, various native tribes and  civilians.  Just another example of Jiles’ mastery of historical fiction.”
— Karen McCue, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

News of the World is a winner.  This was a lot of story packed in a relatively short book….Jiles created two outstanding characters with Captain Kidd and Johanna and I immediately engaged with them and their story.  They are both brave, humble and honorable individuals for whom I felt deep respect.  Kidd’s sharp, indignant humor made me laugh – ‘Young man, stop speaking in explanation points.’  I look forward to selling this book.”
— Tina Smith, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

In the meantime, the same thing was happening in-house at Harper. Our company’s president and publisher, Michael Morrison, weighed in:

It’s a quintessential American novel, set in post-Civil War Northern Texas…[A] relatively short, contained novel, beautifully written and with not a wasted scene or sentence.  It’s the kind of book you not only can read in a weekend, but you want to stay up until you finish it. And all ages, men and women will equally respond to it.”

After last year’s fall trade shows and over the course of the holiday season, more and more booksellers started reading and telling each other about it. We printed more ARCs to meet demand and a kind of “slow buzz” built as booksellers handsold it to one another. Then Eric Boss, a retired and widely respected Penguin rep in Mountains and Plains Region sent out this praise to Western booksellers:

The harsh sweetness of this book is entirely captivating….I recommend this one to everyone. Lovers of adventure, history, stories of family, admirers of human courage and love, readers of well-written prose (and this is very finely crafted work) are included in this invitation. I found it immensely rewarding and downright heartwarming.”

We gradually got that we had something very special here.

So the book didn’t come out in March. Its appeal is so broad, the story so winning, we decided that it would make a great holiday handsell. That intuition seemed to be confirmed when Charles Frazier, perhaps the king of the Civil War “journey” novel, wrote that News of the World is

[a] powerful, richly-realized journey. . . .  Captain Kidd belongs in the pantheon of great Western characters along with True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn and Lonesome Dove’s Gus and Call.”

The Captain and Johanna’s journey took another turn last week when News of the World was longlisted for this year’s National Book Award. It was previously named both an Indie Next Pick and the #1 LibraryReads Pick.

Check out this video interview with Paulette. It will give you a nice feel for the story and its landscape.


You can get more background in this print interview. Please feel to use both on your own social media.

 Johanna Leonberger remembers almost nothing of her first 6 years, when she lived with her parents. Instead, her memory extends only as far as her Kiowa family—she speaks no English and by white standards is uncivilized….At first reluctant to take her the 400 miles to the town near San Antonio where her aunt and uncle live, he soon realizes his itinerant life makes him the most plausible person for the job—and he also knows it’s the right thing to do. He buys a wagon, and they start their journey, much to the reluctance and outrage of the undomesticated Johanna; but a relationship soon begins to develop between the two. Jiles makes the narrative compelling by unsentimentally constructing a bond based at least in part on a mutual need for survival, but slowly and delicately, Johanna and Kidd begin to respect as well as need one another. What cements their alliance is facing many obstacles along the way, including an unmerciful landscape; a lack of weapons; and a vicious cowboy and his companions, who want to kill Kidd and use the girl for their own foul purposes. As one might expect, Kidd and Johanna eventually develop a deep and affectionate relationship….Lyrical and affecting, the novel succeeds in skirting clichés through its empathy and through the depth of its major characters.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Jiles’ lyrical style and minimal punctuation allow the reader to become immersed in the dusty Texan landscape, witnessing the anguish, fear, compassion, and joy in the unlikely pair’s journey.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Jiles delivers a taut, evocative story of post–Civil War Texas in this riveting drama of a redeemed captive of the Kiowa tribe. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly widower, earns his living traveling around, reading news stories to gatherings of townspeople. While reading in Wichita Falls one evening in the winter of 1870, he sees an old acquaintance…[who] persuades the Captain to escort young Johanna on the remainder of the three-week journey. The Captain, who has grown daughters of his own, at first feels sorry for the girl. Johanna considers herself Kiowa; she chafes at wearing shoes and a dress, struggles to pronounce American words. Challenges and dangers confront the two during their journey, and they become attached. Jiles unfolds the stories of the Captain and Johanna, past and present, with the smooth assuredness of a burnished fireside tale, demonstrating that she is a master of the western.”
Publishers Weekly

 News of the World is the perfect choice for just about any reader and will be my favorite handsell for the Fall season. Traveling news reader Captain Kidd and his young charge Johanna make an odd but captivating and colorful duo as they make their way through lawless post-Civil War Texas, heading to San Antonio on a journey that everyone they encounter understands to be so dangerous as to be foolhardy. Practically a death-wish. Onward they go, in an affectionate battle of wills, with the Captain hell-bent on delivering Johanna, a recently and reluctantly freed Indian captive, to her relatives in South Texas and Johanna equally determined to remain with Kidd. Paulette Jiles’ prose is lyrical and News of the World is a splendidly entertaining and very moving novel.”
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover, Denver, CO

“WOW!!! —  Heavy sigh — What a gem! A love story of two people, a way of life and a time and place. How so much can be packed into so slim of a novel…the depth of feeling I had for Captain Kidd and Johanna — his solitude, her confused terror. Exquisite descriptions had me feeling as if I was there in Texas riding along in the bullet ridden Curative Waters wagon with them.”
— Deborah Carson, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

“Jiles is a gifted wordsmith whose descriptive prose creates vivid physical and emotional landscapes that you slip into without effort.  It is filled with interesting and lesser known historical facts of the time period and culture but it is the portrayal of the evolving relationship between two unique characters that is particularly moving and beautiful.  At times I found the story so engaging I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, at other times I lingered….In the end I found News of the World to be a subtle yet powerful story about compassion and transformation.  Jiles could have drawn out the story, could have packed in more details but she didn’t need to. It’s a wholly satisfying story.”
— Sharon Gambin, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

“For such a small book, Paulette packed a punch of a story with characters that still haven’t left me….Jiles truly has constructed a tale that everyone will enjoy. From the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough – but when I reached the moments of suspense… HOLY WOW. This woman has a true talent. My favorite quote from the entire book comes after the battle with Almay: ‘No. Absolutely not. No. No scalping… It is considered very impolite.’ Maybe it was the adrenaline I had built up while sitting on the edge of my seat, but I thought it was hilarious.”
— Macon Wilson, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN

News of the World (9780062409201) by Paulette Jiles. $22.99 hardcover. 10/4/16 one day laydown.

2106 National Book Award Longlist

National Book Foundation, Presenter of the National Book AwardsWhat a great list this year. Handicappers probably have Colson Whitehead as a lock for The Underground Railroad. If I had a vote I might cast it for Lydia Millett’s deeply intelligent, subversive and unnerving novel Sweet Lamb of Heaven… That is if two of the best novels Harper published this year weren’t also on the list. Complete list here.

On the kids’ side, I was happy to see Sara Pennypacker’s Pax make the list. It’s one for the ages and deserves to win every everything this year.

  • Pax (9780062377012) by Sara Pennypacker. $16.99 hardcover.


October 2016 Indie Next List

Complete list here.

  • News of the World (9780062409201) by Paulette Jiles. $22.99 hardcover. 10/4/16 one day laydown.
  • Mercury (9780062437501) by Margot Livesey. $26.99 hardcover. 9/27/16 on sale.
  • The Kept Woman (9780062430212) by Karin Slaughter. $27.99 hardcover. 9/20/16 hardcover.

Now in Paperback

  • The Past (9780062270429) by Tessa Hadley. $15.99 trade paper. 9/20/16 on sale.


BINC 2016 Bookseller Survey

Survey graphic – sidebar

The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is asking book industry folks to take a survey to help us stay of track with providing the kind of assistance booksellers need most.

The Binc Foundation conducted its first such survey in 2014, which indicated that booksellers needed some additional and different services than those that the Foundation was offering. In response to that survey, Binc instituted a matching grants program as well as homelessness prevention and utility shut-off prevention assistance.

The survey should take no more than seven minutes to complete and is available online until October 23. Participants will be eligible to win one of four $50 American Express Gift Cards as a thank you for taking the time to complete the survey. The results of the survey will be released in January 2017.


Authors, Artists and Book Lovers for Booksellers: Join the Bank on Booksellers Auction!

What happens when someone you work with has a personal emergency?

Parnassus Books, like many small businesses, was confronted with that question when one of their own–Stephanie Appell, their manager of books for young readers–started treatment for cancer. The staff decided to pitch in and help Steph. And the result is a pretty amazing display of how the book community pulls together for its own.

The store’s mad genius of an events manager, Niki Coffman, and the rest of the Parnassus crew cooked up the idea of asking authors and illustrators turn piggy banks into art then auctioning the piggy banks to raise money for Steph. What better way to take the idea that almost none of us can save for this kind of rainy day and make it a message of action, support and hope.


As word got out and the project grew bigger, well over 100 illustrators, authors and celebrity friends like Yo-Yo Ma, Connie Britton and Renee Fleming all pitched in.

Ann Patchett, Parnassus’ co-owner, is also one of the inaugural ambassadors for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and she explains why Parnassus will donate a portion of the auction’s proceeds to Binc to help booksellers nationwide.

The BANK ON BOOKSELLERS party and auction is at Parnassus on Sunday, September 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Those of us who don’t live in Nashville can join the fun online. You can see all the art and bid online via BiddingOwl starting at 6:30 p.m. Sunday night. Bids will be accepted through 8 p.m. on Friday, September 30.

You can help get the word out on both BANK ON BOOKSELLERS and Binc by linking the video above to your own social media (#BankOnBooksellers and @BincFoundation).


P.S. I got to see some of these inventive, adorable creations last time I was at the store and I’ll tell you one of them’s got my name on it. Not saying which one–but if you and I happen to get in a bidding war, all the better. I’m so happy this will directly help Steph and many other booksellers who turn to Binc in a crisis.

And remember: you can always support Binc directly long after the auction is over. When you do, you’ll be ensuring that another bookseller will be able to stay on her feet when hard times hit. (Donate here.)


Book of the Week: The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

It’s not that often that I find a kid’s book the most interesting read of the week. But McGinnis is evolving into a real writer to watch. Her last book, A Madness So Discreet, was historical suspense and won a 2016 Edgar Award. The two before that were dystopias less concerned with the details of the stories’ weather-challenged future than with how we can work to retain our compassion and humanity in the face of fear and privation.

This new book picks up that theme in a singularly startling story.  It also explores another of McGinnis’s on going themes — how young women learn to deal with the outsized emotions and the challenge of violence.

 I read this in a single sitting and realized I needed to take a few deep breaths at the end. The book has received four starred advance reviews and hit a lot of the “must read” columns for books coming out this fall.

The Female of the Species works for both adults for teens because it works the way the all the best fiction works: A strong plot marked by a sharp, original vision draws readers into a story of moral complexity. Keep an eye on this writer.

“Whether a catcall, an unwelcome touch, or more, sexual aggression towards females happens daily; McGinnis explores how one teen uses violence for justice in this gripping story that should be read and discussed by teens, as well as those who work with them.”
Booklist (starred review)

McGinnis gracefully avoids the pitfalls of creating a teenage vigilante, instead maintaining a sense of piercing realism. Alex is a pained girl in dangerous free fall, whose fierce independence is challenged by newfound friendships, even love, though neither may be enough to stave off the inevitable.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“All three teens are haunted by the memory of Anna’s murder, and Alex’s inclination to both considering and exacting revenge with cruel efficiency leads them all inexorably to an explosive, terrible finale. An unflinching look at rape culture and its repercussions.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“This is an astoundingly dark but beautifully written tragedy, brimming with sexual assault, violent murders, and accounts of animal abuse that will be difficult for most individuals, but also tempered with glimpses of genuine human emotion and extremely touching displays of kindness that cross social barriers and species. Sexual abuse and assault are treated with sensitivity here but also portrayed with the necessary weight and power, and the dangerous repercussions of poor self-esteem, limiting social expectations, and secret-keeping are discussed openly and frankly. Highly recommended for collections serving teenagers, this book will likely be especially well received by those who enjoyed any of Gillian Flynn’s novels.”
School Library Journal (starred review)

 Claire, or Peekay as everyone calls her, will remain the Preacher’s Kid for the rest of her life if she cannot break out of the stereotype. Jack Fisher is the guy that everyone wants to be, smart, athletic, and gorgeous, but wishes people would remember him for more than his sports statistics. And Alex Craft? Well, Alex Craft is vengeance in its purest form, a fearless wolf simply waiting to unleash her wrath on those who deserve it most. Mindy McGinnis really outdoes herself with The Female of the Species…..and that’s a gross understatement. This young adult novel is positively riveting and full of stunningly elegant prose and captivating characters that,set against a classic small town background, make this tale of sex, deceit, and murder truly unforgettable. Readers will love McGinnis’ new novel, both adults and teens alike.”
— Sarah Kellam, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Crestview Hills, KY

“Delicious and dark and frightening, Mindy McGinnis finds the black underbelly of teenage sexuality and exposes it in this novel that is at times too real, especially considering it follows the story of a girl who murdered her sister’s rapist and killer. There were so many moments where I thought “This – this has happened. I’ve seen this in real life” but just glossed it over, whereas in this book nothing is glossed over, and for that I am thankful. I loved Alex, I loved all the characters, I loved the writing, and I will be delighted to warn everyone about this book.”
— Kelly Morton, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH

 Take a violent, vindictive valedictorian, a violated preacher’s kid and an entitled athlete, add some teenage angst and aggression and you have the latest YA novel by Mindy McGinnis, “The Female of the Species”. McGinnis creates a deeply disturbing journey through high school days with devastating consequences, especially for Alex, Claire and Jack. Well-written and wrought with relevant topics faced by females, this dark tale delivers a punch to the gut with deadly accuracy and aim while leaving a lasting impression on the reader.”
— Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

“Wow. This is a very, very dark book. Every single character is deeply flawed. Some of them are about what you would expect from a rural, depressed town. But others are far more disturbed. What I love about this author though, is that inside all of that darkness, her writing is absolutely beautiful. The book is shocking, emotional, and brutally honest about some very serious issues that teenagers deal with. For the older YA crowd, it is fantastic.”
— Kate Schreffler, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington, KY

The Female of the Species (9780062320896) by Mindy McGinnis. $17.99 hardcover. 9/20/16 on sale.