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Ask a Book Buyer: China Miéville, Books for Tough Times, and More

Ask a Book BuyerAt Powell's, our book buyers select all the new books in our vast inventory. If we need a book recommendation, we turn to our team of resident experts. Need a gift idea for a fan of vampire novels? Looking for a guide that will best demonstrate how to knit argyle socks? Need a book for a vegetarian who loves Radiohead and Flight of the Conchords? Email your question to askabuyer@powells.com. We'll be posting personalized recommendations regularly.

Q: I'm a huge fan of bell hooks and Audre Lorde. Do you know of any great books on race and gender by black female authors? –Crystal

A: Try Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish — she is the daughter of Alice Walker and has a strong, distinctive voice. And if you haven't already, go out and get yourself a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; it is a classic and an essential piece of work. –Aubrey

Q: I am about to start a trial separation with my wife of almost 23 years. Are there any self-help books out there offering advice to the man trying to make it work when his wife has basically given up? –Bill

A: I have three favorite manuals that I've relied on for help with getting through seemingly impossible times in my life.I have three favorite manuals that I've relied on for help with getting through seemingly impossible times in my life. They are: Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher, and Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart.

Now I know the first two texts are often used in the business world, but I think you will find them to be invaluable tools for talking about "the tough stuff." They provide practical advice for communicating with detachment and compassion. The third selection, When Things Fall Apart, is an especially useful personal guide for staying centered amidst chaos. I hope that these are helpful to you! –Aubrey

Q: Reading China Miéville. I'm about to start The Scar right now and I just finished Kraken and, prior to that, Iron Council... a bit out of order, I suppose. Should I skip The Scar and wait for Perdido Street Station? And would you recommend any other similar titles? –Shawn

A: You should definitely read Perdido Street Station, perhaps not immediately, but it is definitely one of Miéville's strongest works. I also recommend anything by Jeff Vandermeer, including a wonderful anthology he edited with his wife, The Weird.

Also check out M. John Harrison's Viriconium, which collects four shorter works. And anything by Tim Powers is amazing — start with his latest, Hide Me among the Graves. –Mary Jo

Q: I'm on a mystery kick and am looking for a couple more to get me through the next few months. I've read all of Tana French's Dublin murder squad books and enjoyed them for the most part. On a recommendation, I'm now reading Benjamin Black's Christine Falls, about a Dublin pathologist. I am enjoying it very much. Apparently Benjamin Black is the pen name of a Booker Prize–winning novelist, so I'd like to get some suggestions for mystery/detective novels that are written in a kind of... literary way. Any suggestions? –Laura

A: I don't know if you're into historical mystery or not, but you may enjoy Tasha Alexander. Start with And Only to Deceive. I also enjoy Andrea Camilleri and his Sicilian-set mystery series. His newest, Treasure Hunt, just came out. Another very enjoyable author is Louise Penny. Start with Still Life. –Tom

Read more Ask a Book Buyer on PowellsBooks.Blog.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Black White and Jewish:... Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Their Eyes Were Watching God Used Trade Paper $7.95
  3. Difficult Conversations: How to... Used Trade Paper $11.95
  4. Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You... Used Trade Paper $7.50
  5. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  6. The Weird: A Compendium of Strange...
    New Trade Paper $29.99
  7. Viriconium Used Trade Paper $8.50
  8. Hide Me Among the Graves Sale Trade Paper $8.98
  9. And Only to Deceive
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  10. Treasure Hunt Used Trade Paper $10.50
  11. Still Life
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  12. Christine Falls: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  13. Perdido Street Station
    New Trade Paper $18.00
  14. Iron Council Used Trade Paper $9.00
  15. Kraken
    Used Trade Paper $10.50
  16. The Scar
    Used Mass Market $3.95

One Response to "Ask a Book Buyer: China Miéville, Books for Tough Times, and More"

    Josh September 30th, 2013 at 11:42 am

    RE: Mieville: Shawn I have read the whole Bas-Lag trilogy several times and I think Scar is the best. Definitely do not skip it!

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