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Ask a Book Buyer: Moving On from David Foster Wallace, YA with Fierce Female Leads, 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 bookseller, so I don't usually have a hard time finding books to read. But I've been reading mainly adult fiction for years, and I just recently began dipping my toes back into the world of YA to see what's new. I thoroughly enjoyed A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I love coming-of-age and school stories — I recently read and loved The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood and The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu. I like my heroines fierce, smart, and flawed. What can you recommend? –Emma

A: I too am a sucker for smart, flawed heroines. A couple of favorites: Sophie Littlefield's Aftertime series and Carrie Ryan's series that begins with The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Due out later this month is debut author and teen librarian Mindy McGinnis's Not a Drop to Drink. –Tracey

Q: I'm trying to move on from a David Foster Wallace obsession, and I'm afraid to pick up any modern author. I'm sitting on Gravity's Rainbow and The Corrections, but they both seem too intimidating to start. Thoughts or recommendations? –Cara

A: You should check out William Vollmann. Like David Foster Wallace, he's well respected for both his fiction and nonfiction. I'd also recommend William Gaddis. Last year Dalkey Archive Press reprinted The Recognitions and JR. –Shawn

Michael Chabon is perhaps a less intimidating (but equally magnificent) contemporary author. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Telegraph Avenue are both unforgettable novels. –Jeremy

Try Jeffrey Eugenides! The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are phenomenal. –Rihanna

Q: I'm looking for great book recs! I've read And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini three times this summer. I like mysteries (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn blew my mind as soon as I started part two). Also, Things Fall Apart is my go-to recommendation to others. I'm always looking for more books by people of color or with women protagonists that don't hinge on a love story. Did I overshare? I hope not! –Sara

A: You may like Jorge Amado's Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon. Amado was a very popular Brazilian novelist and Gabriela is quite nearly the perfect novel — it has a little bit of everything! –Jeremy

Q: My brother just got into reading this year. Before this he'd never read more than 20 pages of a book, but now he works at a pool and can't text at work, so he reads.

According to him, he's interested in:

  • Male leads (though he will read books with female leads as long as there isn't a lot of romance)
  • Young-adult fiction — action, adventure, fantasy, dystopia
  • He's not really interested in comics or graphic novels, though he said he would try to read them if recommended.

He doesn't have access to a library, so all of the books he's been reading so far are the "boyish" books I've picked out of my personal library (I'm his older sister). Can you suggest a series for him? –Elizabeth

A: Check out Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, beginning with The Golden Compass. –Kim

Read more Ask a Book Buyer on PowellsBooks.Blog.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Recognitions (American Literature)
    Used Trade Paper $13.95
  2. Things Fall Apart
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  3. Gone Girl
    Used Hardcover $9.50
  4. Not a Drop to Drink Used Hardcover $12.50
  5. And the Mountains Echoed
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  6. The Corrections
    Used Hardcover $4.95
  7. Gravity's Rainbow Used Trade Paper $11.00
  8. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid Used Trade Paper $9.95
  9. The Bellwether Revivals Used Trade Paper $7.95
  10. Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon... Used Trade Paper $6.95
  11. Telegraph Avenue
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  12. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  13. The Forest of Hands and Teeth
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  14. Aftertime (Aftertime Novels) Used Mass Market $4.50
  15. The Virgin Suicides
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  16. Middlesex
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  17. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    Sale Trade Paper $5.98
  18. Out of the Easy
    Used Hardcover $7.95
  19. A Northern Light
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  20. The Golden Compass: His Dark...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

One Response to "Ask a Book Buyer: Moving On from David Foster Wallace, YA with Fierce Female Leads, and More"

    Carlammm September 6th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    For more YA with male leads.. check out Mortal Engines (Hungry City Chronicles) by Philip Reeve and Eragon (Inheritance Cycle #01) Christopher Paolini

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