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Ask a Book Buyer: Elmore Leonard, Horses, Communes, 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: With the passing of Elmore Leonard, I realized that I have never read any of his books. Which would you recommend starting with? –Roxane

A: You're dipping into Elmore Leonard! What a treat! Try Get Shorty. Stock is tight on this title at the moment, but used copies can turn up at any time, and more new copies should be available within the next couple of weeks. Rum Punch and Maximum Bob are also two of my favorites. –Tom

Q: I just read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and loved it. I really enjoyed her other two books, Gone Girl and Dark Places; she reminds me strongly of one of my longtime favorites, Greg Iles. I'm looking to read something (or multiple somethings) that are in a similar vein — books about strong but damaged characters who are working on a mystery that ultimately ties back to their personal lives in a meaningful way. I'm not interested in anything overly brutal or graphic, but I definitely want that suspenseful edge. Any thoughts? –Justyne

A: The series has been around for a while, but I've always loved Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski series. V. I. is tougher than a bucket of nails but is always working out pieces of her personal history while investigating cases. First in that series is Indemnity Only, and there's a new one coming in hardcover in October, Critical Mass, with several good books in between.

Also, Sue Grafton's alphabet series has always been enjoyable. A Is for Alibi is the first one, though I don't think it's one of her best. Even if you don't like that one, I would still encourage you to try B Is for Burglar. –Tom

Q: Any recommendations for a 3½-year-old boy who is a horse lover? –Donna

A: Here are a few good horse "starter" books that should bring a smile to the face of a little boy: In My Barn, a board book by Sara Gillingham; The Mud Pony, a picture book by Caron Lee Cohen; and the Wonderful World of Horses Coloring Book by John Green. –Aubrey

Q: I'll be visiting Yellowstone National Park next month. I enjoy reading books that take place in the location I'm visiting. Do you have any recommendations for fiction (no romance or science fiction) that takes place in or around Yellowstone? –Lisa

A: C. J. Box writes a terrific mystery series set in Wyoming. Start with Open Season. –Tom

Q: I like Rebecca Solnit, Chi's Sweet Home, Collages by Anais Nin, Leanne Shapton, Francesca Lia Block, Michelle Tea... and stuff about communes. Can you help? –Sian

A: A great novel about life on a commune is The Saskiad by Brian Hall. –Rhianna

You should check out Pilgrim's Wilderness or the new Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby. –Shawn

Read more Ask a Book Buyer on PowellsBooks.Blog.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Get Shorty Used Trade Paper $8.00
  2. Maximum Bob Used Trade Paper $7.50
  3. Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski Novels) Used Mass Market $3.95
  4. Critical Mass (V.I. Warshawski Novels) Used Hardcover $10.50
  5. A Is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone...
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  6. B Is for Burglar (Kinsey Millhone... Used Mass Market $3.50
  7. The Mud Pony: A Traditional Skidi...
    Used Trade Paper $2.50
  8. Wonderful World of Horses Coloring Book
    New Trade Paper $3.99
  9. Open Season (Joe Pickett Novel) Used Mass Market $5.50
  10. The Saskiad New Trade Paper $26.00
  11. Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story...
    Used Hardcover $8.95
  12. The Faraway Nearby
    Used Hardcover $14.00
  13. Collages Used Trade Paper $4.95
  14. Dark Places
    Used Trade Paper $8.95
  15. Gone Girl
    Used Hardcover $9.50
  16. Sharp Objects: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  17. Rum Punch Used Trade Paper $8.00

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