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Author Archive: "Powell's Staff"

Ask a Book Buyer: Game of Thrones Edition

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've devoured every volume of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Now what? –Brie

A: In case you've somehow managed to miss George R. R. Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg (The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, The Mystery Knight), these delightful novellas are set in Westeros 90 years before the time of Song of Ice and Fire. Three are available right now; more are promised. The first two are also available as graphic novels. Dunk is Ser Duncan, legendary member of the Kingsguard, and Egg is Aegon V Targaryen, who later becomes ...


Ask a Book Buyer: Beyond Male Authors, Couple’s Book Club Picks, 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: It has been pointed out that most of my favorite authors are male: Haruki Murakami, David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson, maybe Neil Gaiman, too. I think my favorite book from last year's reading was Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine, but I can't yet say he's a favorite author, as I haven't read any other books by him. Can you recommend any female authors who might appeal to a reader with my tastes? –Eve

A: For a blend of surrealism, philosophy, pop culture, and mystery reminiscent of Murakami and Mitchell, and the kind of quirky but endearing protagonist you'll find in Chabon's work, try British novelist Scarlett Thomas. Two of her most popular books are The End of Mr. Y and Our Tragic Universe. –Rhianna

Check out Karen Russell's books. Her newest is Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners is also strange and wonderful. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a classic. –Kevin


Ask a Book Buyer: Super Sad Short Stories, Texts Exploring Memory, 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 looking for some sad, hopeless short stories, preferably written by a woman. I love Carson McCullers, Joan Didion, and, though not a woman, James Joyce ("A Painful Case" is a good example of what I like). Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth was the perfect depressing collection for me recently. Any recommendations? –Lexi

A: You might try Jamaica Kincaid. She is an American author of Caribbean origins and is magnificent and lyrical. She has a number of novels and a collection of short stories. The stories are contained in At the Bottom of the River, but I think you'd also like her novels. You might try Autobiography of My Mother or Lucy for starters. –Tom

Q: I am currently a grad student at NYU, dying to put the serious books aside and read for fun in my spare time (usually this is around 35 minutes before bed). I am originally from Oregon, so the change has really made me nostalgic for home and trying to keep myself busy. I am looking for fiction books that understand the idea of memory (survivors of genocide, people under dictatorships, etc.). I have a major in Spanish, so I have read Mario Vargas Llosa's The Feast of the Goat, Isabel Allende, Diamela Eltit, Julia Alvarez, and Gabriel García Márquez, among others. I also have read about the idea of memory in immigration through the writings of Esmeralda Santiago, Junot Díaz, and Sandra Cisneros. I guess what I am looking for is something new, different, and challenging that explores memory through novels or memoirs.


Ask a Book Buyer: Sci-fi with a Sense of Humor, Off-the-Grid Living, Books for Boys, 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: My husband is a big sci-fi reader (but not fantasy) and I'd like to help him find some new books to read. He has recently enjoyed the Ender's Game series and has read everything by John Scalzi, who he particularly likes for the sense of humor in books like Redshirts, The Android's Dream, and Agent to the Stars. Anything you could recommend along those lines? –Karen

A: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is chock full of '80s references to video games, television shows, and is wildly entertaining. A riptide of a read, this one is sure to carry the reader away. Michael Rubens, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is a rip-roaring sci-fi comedic adventure, complete with freeze-dried orphans, a corporate training satellite full of zombies, and a hero on the run. Due out February 11, Andy Weir's The Martian is an absolutely gripping adventure of an astronaut stranded on Mars and what he must do to survive. You will never look at a potato the same way after reading this. –Mary Jo

Q: Can anyone recommend a few books for a middle school-aged boy? He's read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and he likes sports, too. –Tim

A: If he hasn't already delved into the works of Matt Christopher, he'll find so many books to love. He writes both sports fiction and biographies of popular athletes. –Jeremy


Ask a Book Buyer: Uplifting Novels, YA Trilogies, 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: Help! I'm on the hunt for intelligent, thoughtful, uplifting reads that don't rely on sex and violence for their plot points. I recently read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and enjoyed it (though I pretty much figured out the "mystery" halfway through), and I'd love to read something similar. I also just read David Sedaris for the first time and loved him as well. Traditionally I'm a fan of sci-fi/fantasy and mysteries, but I'm open to all types of fiction as long as the book is good. –Pam

A: Three novels that I often recommend to people looking for intelligent, inventive, and uplifting fiction are Italo Calvino's beautifully composed If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Bohumil Hrabal's classic Too Loud a Solitude, and Mark Dunn's unforgettable Ella Minnow Pea. Each of these works also incorporates some thoughtful element relating to books, reading, or the enduring power of literacy. –Jeremy

Q: What's next for a 12-year-old girl who loved the Divergent Trilogy? Once a reluctant reader, she really enjoyed these three books! –Daphne

A: I am a big fan of young adult trilogies that feature female protagonists battling dystopian societies, and the Divergent trilogy is at the top of my list as well. Luckily, there are many more of these types of series out there. The most popular among them is The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay). If she hasn't read these, I think they would be a great choice for inspiring her to continue reading. The plotline centers around a girl named Katniss who volunteers to fight as a sacrificial tribute among the other district children in order to save her younger sister from being chosen.


Ask a Book Buyer: Holiday Gift Ideas, Part Two

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 want to buy a book for my 75-year-old father-in-law. He is a great lover of the arts (theater, poetry, photography). He is also a philanthropist for the arts in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. Can you suggest a book for him? I heard an author interviewed on OPB that has done a photo book of people in New York City, but I can't find it through a Web search. –Terri

A: I think you're referring to Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton, a very cool collection of New York City street photos.

If your father-in-law also enjoys classical music, John Suchet's new biography of Beethoven, Beethoven: The Man Revealed, is receiving rave reviews. –Rhianna

Q: I have an 18-year-old nephew in high school who likes zombies and is interested in theater and musicals, but he really doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. I also have a 20-year-old nephew in college who wants to be a zoo biologist. I am looking for suggestions, wanting to spend no more than $25 each. –Cindy


Ask a Book Buyer: Holiday Gift Ideas

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 only gifting books this year for Christmas! Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time coming up with something new and exciting for my baby brother. He's entered his punk teenage years, and while I know Rick Riordan and the I Am Number Four series are definitely on his list of likes, he already has them. I'm at a loss. Please, I'll take any suggestions! –Jade

A: If you want to buck the series trend, two standout young adult books that I've given to my own teenage brothers are The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay and Youth in Revolt by C. D. Payne.

The Power of One is a coming-of-age story about ...


Ask a Book Buyer: Apocalyptic Fiction, Cross-Country Reading, 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: Desert island books as they occur to me at random: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Winter's Tale and Refiner's Fire by Mark Helprin, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I love apocalyptica, familiar essays, and anything very imaginative, so long as I can picture what's going on based on the writing. What next? –Becky

A: Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose is a lush immersion of a novel that will stay with you for the rest of your life .

I'm currently reading and enjoying the heck out of Red Hill by Jamie McGuire, a character study set in a quiet and disturbing vision of a zombie apocalypse. –Tracey

As far as apocalyptica goes, I really enjoyed Etiquette for an Apocalypse. I'm perhaps skewed by the fact that it's written by a Portland author and set in Portland (with even a mention of Powell's in it!), but it was very entertaining with wry humor mixed in and edge-of-your-seat moments. –Tom

If you like apocalyptic fiction, there may be no finer book in the genre than José Saramago's Blindness. It's dark, unsettling, and gorgeously composed! –Jeremy


Ask a Book Buyer: Gritty Westerns, Coastal California, 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 love true crime and gritty (but not cheesy) Western outlaw stories. My recent favorite books are Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, Michael Capuzzo's The Murder Room, and Murder in the Yoga Store. I haven't been able to find anything similar to the above. Any recommendations would be appreciated! –Cheylane

A: If you're not already familiar with the works of Cormac McCarthy, his novels may well satiate your thirst for Western noir. Blood Meridian or the Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain) are good places to start.

Also, the fiction of Don Berry is fantastic! His books are not quite Westerns, per se, but focused on the early settlers of the Oregon Territory instead. They are compelling and beautifully written. He has three books that loosely form a trilogy (but are easily read as stand-alone volumes, too): Trask, Moontrap, and To Build a Ship. –Jeremy

Q: I want memoirs or memoir-ish novels to read. I read a lot of psych and religion for work, and I need a break. I've enjoyed the faith-centered memoir writing of women like Sara Miles, Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott, and Nora Gallagher. I've also enjoyed the classic, slightly erotic writing of gay men from the '50s on — Edmund White, Hollinghurst, Holleran, etc. I'm usually pleasantly surprised when I find someone new from that genre. –James


Ask a Book Buyer: Laugh-Out-Loud Reads, Children’s Cookbooks, 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: The hardest thing to find is a funny book. I loved Richard Russo's Straight Man, Lisa Lutz, and Catch-22. But laugh-out-loud books are rare. Do you have a few recommendations? –Phillip

A: You must, must, must read Christopher Moore. Generally accepted as one of his best (and funniest) books is Lamb. I'm also extra fond of The Stupidest Angel, which is laugh-out-loud funny and one of the few books I've ever reread. –Tom

Q: My five-year-old granddaughter is currently reading at a second-grade level and has been cooking since she was not quite four. I want to find a good children's cookbook pitched at around the third- or fourth-grade level, since I expect her reading skills to grow as she homes in on more difficult content. As to her cooking, she's working on her knife skills now, which I never really did! –Will

A: Your granddaughter would enjoy Mollie Katzen's Pretend Soup, which is written for children and is full of healthy, imaginatively named recipes.


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