Librarians at BookExpo America
From Shelf Awareness ...At the second annual Book Shout and Share panel last Thursday in New York City, seven librarians--Jason Honig, San Francisco Public Library; Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library; Nora Rawlinson, EarlyWord.com; Miriam Tuliao, New York Public Library; and several staffers from Library Journal: Barbara Hoffert, "Pre-Pub Alert" editor; Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes" columnist; Neal Wyatt, editor of "RA Crossroads" and "The Readers Shelf"-- touted their top finds from the BEA show floor. Barbara A. Genco, collection management editor, hosted the session.
Here are some of their suggestions:
Exley by Brock Clarke (Algonquin, October 2010), the story of a nine-year-old boy struggling to make sense of his father's disappearance, is "the first great find of the new season" for Barbara Genco--one that reminded her of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. "It's a fascinating book about the Iraq war--what it means to families and what it's like to live in a military town," she said.
Another title Genco highlighted is Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian (Nan A. Talese, October) by Avi Steinberg, who recounts his stint working in a Boston prison library.
A standout for Barbara Hoffert was The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant (Gotham, September), which she recommended for book clubs, sports fans, animal lovers and anyone looking for a story about "the meaning of being human and morality."
Jason Honig gave a shout-out to Scott Spencer's Man in the Woods (Ecco, September), a "beautifully written" story that features the characters Kate and Ruby from A Ship Made of Paper.
The title of Elisabeth Tova Bailey's The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Algonquin, August) was enough to pique Douglas Lord's interest. In its pages he discovered a "wonderfully written" memoir about a year the author spent confined because of illness and her unusual companion: a snail living in a terrarium at her bedside.
Reading Noam Shpancer's debut novel, The Good Psychologist (Holt, August), "is like sitting through your own personal therapy session," said Robin Nesbitt. It's the story of what happens when the boundary between personal and professional begins to blur between a psychologist and his exotic dancer patient.
Nesbitt also encouraged her colleagues to order up Jon Stewart's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race (Grand Central, September). "Supporting that guy is the best thing librarians can do," she said.
Hearing the "dynamic" Rebecca Traister speak about Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women (Free Press, September) sold Nora Rawlinson on the Salon.com writer's book, an analysis of the 2008 presidential election and its implications for women.
Miriam Tuliao suggested the debut novel Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel (Harper, August) as the perfect beach and book club read. Set in South Florida, this portrait of a marriage "starts out pretty and dazzling and then gets dangerous."
For readers who "prefer more cheerless locales," Tuliao recommends Moscow Noir (June), edited by Natalia Smirnova and Julia Goumen. The latest volume in Akashic's Noir series is, as Tuliao noted from the editors' introduction, "an attempt to turn the tourist Moscow of gingerbread and woodcuts, of glitz and big money, inside out; an attempt to reveal its fetid womb and make sense of the desolation that still reigns."
According to Neal Wyatt, Michael Korda's Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (Harper, November) "has blockbuster written all over it."
A number of titles were spotlighted by more than one panelist, including Doug Dorst's story collection The Surf Guru (Riverhead, July). "It takes you places you don't expect," said Honig.
Other titles with multiple nods were Cleopatra: A Biography by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown, November)--paired with Adrian Goldsworthy's Antony and Cleopatra (Yale University Press, September)--and Paul Grossman's The Sleepwalkers (St. Martin's Press, October), a mystery featuring a Jewish detective in Berlin as the Nazis come to power.
A trio of titles--Simon Winchester's Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories (Harper, November), Mary Roach's Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (W.W. Norton, August) and librarian Nancy Pearl's Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers (Sasquatch, October)--garnered cheers from the audience.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt