Bill Petrocelli

Behind the Bookshelves

Book reviews, bookselling news, and random thoughts about the world

Relentlessly Optimistic

I had the pleasure of sharing a stage on Dec. 4 with Khizr Khan for an author event at Dominican University. He is probably the most sincerely optimistic person I have ever met, and his enthusiasm is contagious. (If I knew the Pakistani word for mensch, I would insert it here.)

Hold the Presses!

When a book suddenly becomes a major news story, local news services often run to their local bookstore to see what the story feels like on the ground. That was the case with Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury when the news hit the fan on the first weekend in January. That’s when this photo began its journey at Book Passage.

Who Needs Publishers & Bookstores? Just about Everyone

An idea has taken root in certain quarters that publishers aren’t necessary. And for that matter, who needs bookstores? According to this facile argument, they’re both relics of the pre-internet days that get in the way of writers and readers. This is a misguided idea.

 

Five Ways Men Benefit from Women’s Empowerment

This is taken from a speech that I gave to the League of Women Voters of Marin County at Sausalito,…

Seven Questions Writers Should Ask Before Publishing

This is a reprint of an article that I wrote for Huffingtonpost.com on March 4, 2014 Years ago, the only…

Caught in the Data Mine

This is a slightly modified version of an article that appeared in Huffingtonpost.com on Dec. 19, 2013 Invasion of privacy…

The Familiar Remoteness of Bill Bryson’s 1927

No one writes with an easier grace than Bill Bryson. He has the rare ability to take a single, seemingly…

The First Civil Rights Movement Began — in a Bookstore

2013 marks a pair of Civil Rights milestones. We celebrated both the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and…

Were Women’s Rights Just a Congressional Afterthought?

When you look at U.S. Congressional history, it sometimes seems that the road to women’s equality has been paved in…

I May Have To Return to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Congressman Steve King (R. Iowa) is at it again. King, who recently became infamous by referring to Latino children as…

What Was History’s Worst Month?

What was the worst month in history? An American might say December, 1941, with the attacks on Pearl Harbor and…

Who Needs Publishers & Bookstores? Just about Everyone

An idea has taken root in certain quarters that publishers aren’t really necessary any more. And for that matter, who…

New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – 1491

Charles C. Mann Under the deceptively simple title of 1491, Charles Mann has probably done more than anyone to raise…

Six Months That Changed the World – Paris 1919

Margaret MacMillan Another year, another great work of history. When you’ve finished this rich and thoughtful book, you’re left with…

Bury the Chains

Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves Adam Hochschild Hochschild, a journalist who teaches at U.C….