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Archive for the 'Ask a Book Buyer' Category

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.


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 askabuyer@powells.com. 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


Ask a Book Buyer: Scary Stories, Calligraphy Books, 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 a super scary book. Nothing too gory. I like ghost stories, hauntings, etc. What do you suggest? –Tabitha

A: Try Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Both are classics. –Rhianna

If you want to have the bejeebers scared out of you, you have to read Alex by Pierre Lemaitre. It's French and set in and around Paris. Not only is it scary, but this thing has more twists and turns than a two-lane road through the French Alps. I guarantee you that you haven't read a book like this before. –Tom

Q: I recently finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and am partway through its sequel, Shadow of Night. Since the third book in the trilogy is not yet available, do you have any recommendations for me in the meantime? –Ann

A: Try Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, beginning with Darkfever, where southern Gothic meets Celtic mythology. The full series has been published, so if you like it, you won't be left hanging midseries! –Tracey


Ask a Book Buyer: China Miéville, Books for Tough Times, 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 huge fan of bell hooks and Audre Lorde. Do you know of any great books on race and gender by black female authors? –Crystal

A: Try Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish — she is the daughter of Alice Walker and has a strong, distinctive voice. And if you haven't already, go out and get yourself a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; it is a classic and an essential piece of work. –Aubrey

Q: I am about to start a trial separation with my wife of almost 23 years. Are there any self-help books out there offering advice to the man trying to make it work when his wife has basically given up? –Bill

A: I have three favorite manuals that I've relied on for help with getting through seemingly impossible times in my life. They are: Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher, and Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart.

Now I know the first two texts are often used in the business world, but I think you will find them to be invaluable tools for talking about "the tough stuff." They provide practical advice for communicating with detachment and compassion. The third selection, When Things Fall Apart, is an especially useful personal guide for staying centered amidst chaos. I hope that these are helpful to you! –Aubrey


Ask a Book Buyer: Epic Historical Fiction, Post–Latin American Boom, 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 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

For historic novels, time-travel style, try Connie Willis's Doomsday Book and her Blackout series.

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!


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 askabuyer@powells.com. 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


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

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