BOOKSHOPPING: The Best of the Portland Tradeshow

I’ve been peeling off stickers. Lots of stickers. Forty-five of them to be exact, one by one, shiny silver and slightly bigger than a quarter. They’re fiercely determined to stick to the covers of my new releases, all announcing the same thing, “Compliments of the Publisher.” No book leaves the showroom of the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association’s annual fall tradeshow without a sticker.

Train of Salt and Sugar  Getting them off is another matter. It’s a tedious process if you value the cover of the book, and in spite of the most careful handling there are always some books that come out with a little less cover than when they started. Why such an aggressive adhesive is inflicted on poor paperbacks is anyone’s guess, but being a lover of books, those dang little suckers need to come off.

Doctor Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain  So I’m kneeling on the carpet in front of the buzzing space heater in my small, book-packed spare room, slowly peeling off the stickers, one by one, surrounded by piles labeled by small cards with boldly-lettered months, from NOW to OCTOBER and NOVEMBER, around the sofa and down the side of the bookshelf right up through MARCH 2009, as I sort through two big bags full of advance reading copies of new books that looked too good to leave behind. Believe me, when you’re toting them all the way home, from the hotel to the parking lot, from the trunk to the house, it only takes one trade show to teach you the virtue of leaving the marginal and the almost-good in Portland right where you found them.

Death with Interruptions  I’m so excited I forgot to have breakfast. I’m having my own little Christmas morning in here, all toasty warm, in a ring of new books. I already know that time will be cruel, and I won’t be able to read anywhere near as many of them as I want. Still, not knowing which ones will transport me, which ones will disappoint me, which ones will thrill me or bore me, makes all of it gleefully suspenseful. Books bring out the child in me. I regret to see that I’m almost finished emptying the second bag.

All right, now I’ve sorted all the advances into their appropriate months of release. I’ve gone through each book, setting aside all the ones I really won’t read, all the tomes over five hundred pages, no arty writing, no angels, no serial killers, no mutant female praying mantises (you think I’m kidding). I’ve got it down to the top thirty new books coming out this fall, mostly novels with a few yummy memoirs thrown in, as selected by yours truly.


To Siberia by Per Petterson, the author of Out Stealing Horses.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

The Train of Salt and Sugar by Licinio de Azevedo, from Mozambique

Waiting for an Ordinary Day: The Unraveling of Life in Iraq by Farnaz Fassihi


Doctor Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain by Kirsten Menger-Anderson

What Makes a Child Lucky by Gioia Timpanelli

Lulu in Marrakech by Diane Johnson

Three Musketeers by Marcelo Birmajer

Chicago by Alaa Al Aswany

Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago

A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre


The Howling Miller by Arto Paasilinna, from Finland

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan

Couch by Benjamin Parzybok


Two Rivers by T. Greenwood

Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love by Myron Uhlberg


Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker


Ghosts by Cesar Aira

Safer by Sean Doolittle

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

The Siege by Ismail Kadare

Little Bee by Chris Cleave


My Abandonment by Peter Rock

The Believers by Zoe Heller

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

All right, enough. That took all afternoon. Time to enjoy a little reading, now that I’ve sorted through all the best and brightest. At this point, you know as much as I do about what’s coming out this fall. Let’s hope we’re about to find some excellent new ones for our reading groups!



About the Author:

Nick DiMartino is a university bookseller in Seattle, WA. He was a Booklist contributor from 2007 to 2009 and is the author of Seattle Ghost Story (1998) as well as numerous plays.

2 Comments on "BOOKSHOPPING: The Best of the Portland Tradeshow"

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  1.' Mary Ellen says:

    This is a great preview, Nick. I’ll be adding a number of these to my personal “to read’ list.

  2.' carl says:

    Nick, you can buy something called Goo Gone from your local Walmart. This has been a great help for me when removing the sticky stuff from stickers and it won’t mess up your bookcovers.

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