Our favorite booksellers pick their favorite books.
Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005–2016
Annie Leibovitz. Phaidon.
“We are very excited about Annie Leibovitz: Portraits. It will include some of her more recent iconic works as well as new photos that haven’t been published before. Who doesn’t love Annie?”
—Tracy Taylor, general manager, Elliott Bay Books, Seattle
Arbitrary Stupid Goal
Tamara Shopsin. MCD.
“This memoir is so delightful, heartfelt, philosophical, charming, witty, and impossible to put down. Shopsin regales us with stream-of-conscious vignettes about and flashbacks to her family’s Greenwich Village restaurant that harken back to a city and a time long gone. An unforgettable revolving door of quirky characters, ranging from her larger-than-life father, Ken, and his best friend to John Belushi and everyone in between. I can’t recommend it enough.”
—Gael LeLamer, book buyer and inventory manager, Books Books, Miami Beach, Fla.
Dinner with Dickens: Recipes Inspired by the Life and Work of Charles Dickens
Pen Vogler. Cico.
“The only things I love more than food are books. And the only things I love more than books are books about food. Cookbooks always make great gifts, especially beautiful ones with a deeper meaning, such as this book with recipes taken from Charles Dickens’s novels. Dickens tends to make us reminisce about the holidays, so the timing is perfect. BookBar had already been planning a Dickens-themed holiday dinner before we even learned about this book! Now the planning will be even easier.”
—Nicole Sullivan, owner, BookBar, Denver
Kamila Shamsie. Riverhead.
“This is a debut to love on so many levels. It’s a love story, a coming-of-age story, and a commentary on terrorism both inside our own borders and abroad. While the reader has the luxury of knowing what motivates each character, the characters themselves keep secrets, tell lies, and manipulate others, all, at the end of the day, in the name of love. If it sounds like a Greek tragedy, that’s because it is.”
—Anne Holman, co-owner, King’s English, Salt Lake City
A Legacy of Spies
John le Carré. Viking.
“What a brilliant reconsideration of the narratives that seemed so inevitable during the Cold War: can and should spies be held accountable for the hurt they cause to future generations after political expediencies have changed? This is a great read to pair with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold for a dual gift for those new to le Carré’s work.”
—Anmiryam Budner, bookseller, Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.
My Absolute Darling
Gabriel Tallent. Riverhead.
“One of our top fiction titles this holiday season will assuredly be this one. East City Bookshop readers have loved The Goldfinch, A Little Life, and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, and those same readers will no doubt fall hard for My Absolute Darling’s Turtle Alveson. The book is beautifully written, immersive, and unforgettable—exactly what our fiction readers crave.”
—Emilie Sommer, book buyer, East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C.
Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
Edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding. Picador.
“This season, we couldn’t be more excited to recommend the Nasty Women anthology. Feminists, including our own store co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck, explore marginalization in Trump’s America. This book—which can only be described as a Women and Children First special—is sometimes funny and often heartbreaking, and a deadly serious look at our current political climate that, we predict, will be the stocking stuffer we can’t keep in stock this holiday season.”
—Jamie Thomas, store manager, Women and Children First, Chicago
The Ninth Hour
Alice McDermott. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
“If I had to choose one book to read over and over just for the sentences, it would be a book by Alice McDermott. If that book is The Ninth Hour I’ll be just fine, even if it does open with a heart-wrenching suicide. Mining her signature Irish Catholic experience, McDermott has outdone herself from the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page, the first chapter, and throughout the entire novel.”
—Sarah Bagby, owner, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kans.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait
Pete Souza. Little, Brown.
“We’re taking orders (unsolicited) for the Obama photography book. People are nostalgic for a quieter, gentler time. It won’t be a gift for everyone—what book is?—but, for those who admired our last president, this is a stunning collection of photographs that chronicles his eight years in office. I may have to up my order.”
—Robin Allen, owner, Forever Books, St. Joseph, Mich.
Jon McGregor. Catapult.
“The book is a portrait of an English village over 10 or 12 years. The writing is unusual, hypnotic, and engaging. I’m really excited to sell it because it combines some easy elements with broad appeal (English village setting, domestic drama) and a unique structure. The language is direct and accessible, and a mildly motivated reader can easily get accustomed to the atypical format. It’s a good book for exactly the sort of customer who shops indie bookstores—with enough flair to make it great book club fodder, too. So far, five of us here in the store have read Reservoir 13, and several times customers have overheard us talking about it and asked if they can buy it. It’s been hard to tell them they have to wait until October.”
—David Enyeart, events manager, Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn.
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
Cherise Wolas. Flatiron.
“I devoured this novel. Joan’s despair over her career loss paired with her intense love for her two boys is palpable. And what happens halfway through the book floored me. I’ve been waiting to sell this for many months. It will be great for book clubs because there are so many themes to discuss.”
—Valerie Koehler, owner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston
Emily Winfield Martin. Random House.
“A beautiful retelling of the legend of Snow and Rose, this gentle fairy tale brims with all the requisite traditions: dwarves, a missing person, an enchanted forest, and strange creatures. As in her highly imaginative picture books, Martin, in her first middle grade novel, paints the sisters, Snow and Rose, as not exact opposites, but more like complementary gears, who thrive on different aspects of the same thing. Recommended as a read-aloud for ages 6+, this beautifully illustrated tale will delight the young and young at heart.”
—Maureen Palacios, owner, Once upon a Time Books, Montrose, Calif.
The Story of Arthur Truluv
Elizabeth Berg. Random House.
“Berg is always good, but this novel is so, so good. I could not put it down. It’s so beautiful about people and life. Readers will fall in love with Arthur, who connects with other people after his wife has passed away and visits her grave every day to talk to her. The characters are so wonderful. The message of this novel is whatever our age, we can all make a difference if we choose to.”
—Vivien Jennings, owner, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kans.
Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves
Kate T. Parker. Workman.
“Strong Is the New Pretty is geared for children, but I think every girl, from ages eight to adult, should have a copy. This book, an inspirational collection of photographs, shows real girls engaged in real activities. These photos demonstrate that girls don’t have to be picture-perfect all the time; they can do what they want and be who they want.”
—Cinda Meister, co-owner, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.
Wendelin Van Draanen. Knopf.
“Van Draanen hits another home run with this story of 14-year-old Wren, whose actions have won her a 10-week trip to a boot camp in the Utah desert. Against her will, she learns honesty, trust, respect for others, and respect for herself.”
—Vicki Burger, co-owner, Wind City Books, Casper, Wyo.