At 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be posting personalized recommendations regularly.
Q: I am on the hunt for books! Historical fiction — from medieval times to pioneers — is wonderful, although I'm not a fan of war tales. Stories with a little bit of an "epic" feel to them are especially fabulous. I'm also definitely not afraid of being afraid — ghosts, mysteries, vampires, werewolves, murders, zombies? Bring 'em on! –Jamie
A: For guilty pleasure reading, you can't go wrong with the Outlander series, about a woman who travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. More highbrow but equally entertaining are Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Tudor England), The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson (vikings!), The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Dracula!), and Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (19th-century America with a literary edge). For vintage, epic historical fiction, you can't beat Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. –Rhianna
Year of Wonders isn't epic; in fact, it takes place in one small town, but author Geraldine Brooks has a wonderful touch with 17th-century England. And it's a wee bit spooky.
Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael series will give you mysteries in a historic setting. Again, not epic, but she's written so dang many books in the series it seems epic!
Charlaine Harris's lesser-known Harper Connelly "Grave" series will treat you to both mysteries and the otherworldly in a modern setting. –Tracey
Q: I'm going to NYC for up to four months (back and forth a bit). I have a pretty wide taste, but lately I've been enjoying historical fiction, including the Josephine Bonaparte trilogy by Sandra Gulland. Thoughts on good books? –Shelley
A: One of my "go-to" recommendations for historical fiction is Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It's magnificent, and if I ruled the world, everyone would have to read this book.
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber is another terrific book. I tend to be a slow reader and was daunted by its 900-plus page count, but when I finished it, I wished for another couple hundred pages. –Tom
Q: I'm a 26-year-old man from Monterrey, Mexico. I recently had the opportunity to visit your store. Amazing! I stopped reading due to I don't know what, and I can't get back on track. I'm hoping you can help. I've read many of the classics; I love Latin American Boom literature and Hemingway. I'm looking for something that's super entertaining and deep at the same time. –Edgar
A: There is a wealth of post-Boom Latin American literature that may be of interest to you. First and foremost, I would recommend anything by the late Roberto Bolaño. His two masterworks, The Savage Detectives and 2666, are epic and brilliant. If you prefer to start with something less daunting, his short story collections are also exemplary of his abundant talent: Last Evenings on Earth and The Return.
I would also highly recommend Antunes's The Land at the End of the World or The Fat Man and Infinity (a stunning collection of essays and short stories). Each of Tavares's four titles in English translation are nothing short of remarkable. –Jeremy
You simply must try Mexican mystery author Paco Ignacio Taibo II. Start with An Easy Thing. –Tom
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