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Ask a Book Buyer: Easy Hikes, Vikings, 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 We'll be posting personalized recommendations regularly.

Q: I'd love to read something like Wild by Cheryl Strayed but with more complex/lyrical writing. My dad just died, so maybe something with a female narrator confronting death via some sort of journey, trip, or ritual? –Holly

A: Joan Didion's memoirs about loss, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, contain the complex, lyrical writing you're looking for. For a quirkier — but equally talented — voice, try Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives. –Rhianna

Q: Are there any good detective novels similar to James Lee Burke's series featuring Dave Robicheaux? I do not like most other detective stuff I've tried, but his work is riveting. –Linda

A: You can easily get drawn in to Robert Crais's Elvis Cole series. The first of those is The Monkey's Raincoat. Another author to check out is Harlan Coben. I love his Myron Bolitar series, which starts with Deal Breaker. He has also written a number of stand-alone titles. –Tom

Q: I have a baby and would love to find a book with good recommendations on easy hikes for us that are somewhat close to Beaverton, Oregon. –Jennifer

A: Try Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon by Bonnie Henderson. The hikes are easy enough for small children and should be doable while carrying a baby. Plus, it has great tips for activities as your child gets older. –Rhianna

Q: I know a reader who is turning 15 years old tomorrow. His favorite book is The Great Gatsby, but he also loves TV shows about Vikings and historical stuff. What should I give him? –Judy

A: I'm an evangelist for the wonderful, hilarious Viking novel The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson. –Rhianna

Q: Some friends have recommended C. J. Box and Lee Child as good mystery writers to read. What, in your opinion, would you suggest as possibly their best books to start with?

I've also read two Craig Johnson mysteries, Hell Is Empty and A Serpent's Tooth. What other books in the Longmire series would you recommend? –Richard

A: The Longmire books are all terrific. I'd simply start at the beginning with The Cold Dish and then make my way down the list. I'd offer similar advice for C. J. Box and Lee Child since they both write in series. C. J. Box's Joe Pickett series starts with Open Season, and Lee Child's fantastic Jack Reacher series begins with Killing Floor. Enjoy! –Tom

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Year of Magical Thinking
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  2. Blue Nights
    Used Hardcover $8.95
  3. The Book of My Lives Used Hardcover $9.95
  4. The Monkey's Raincoat Used Mass Market $3.95
  5. Deal Breaker: The First Myron... Used Mass Market $4.50
  6. Best Hikes with Kids Oregon (Best... Used Trade Paper $11.50
  7. The Long Ships (New York Review...
    Used Trade Paper $10.00
  8. The Cold Dish
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  9. Open Season (Joe Pickett Novel) Used Mass Market $5.50
  10. Killing Floor (Jack Reacher Novels)
    Used Mass Market $4.95
  11. A Serpent's Tooth: A Walt Longmire...
    Used Hardcover $9.50
  12. Hell Is Empty (Walt Longmire Mysteries)
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  13. The Great Gatsby
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  14. Wild: From Lost to Found on the...
    Used Trade Paper $10.50

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