25 Books to Read Before You Die

From the Authors


Original Essays

Powell's Q&A

Tech Q&A

Kids' Q&A



Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Archive for the 'Staff Picks' Category

2008 Employee Favorites: Orin Holland

1. The Apophenion: A Chaos Magick Paradigm by Peter J. Carroll
Apophenia refers to finding connections in unrelated data, often with a heightened sense of meaning. Pope Pete has written a remarkable little tome exploring techniques for inducing apophenia as a stimulus for creative thinking. Add to the mix a hypersphere model of a steady state universe, eliminating the requirement for a Big Bang creation event. For those who experiment with different modes of perception, Apophenia represents cutting edge research from a leader in the field.

2. Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science by Robert L. Park

3. Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult by Richard B. Spence

4. Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human by Elizabeth Hess

5. The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth

÷ ÷ ÷

Orin Holland was ...

2008 Employee Favorites: Adrienne

1. A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
A Fraction of the Whole is brilliant. Hysterically funny, yet profound. Themes of philosophy and literature, life and love, madness and creativity abound. Steve Toltz's perfectly absorbing debut novel has depth and richly developed characters.

2. The Outlander by Gil Adamson

3. Narcisa by Jonathan Shaw

4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

5. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

÷ ÷ ÷

Adrienne takes phone orders and answers the many calls on Powell's switchboard. Her favorite books are contemporary literature, translated and international fiction, and non-fiction, especially Middle Eastern, Chinese and African-American novels.

2008 Employee Favorites: Sheila N.

1. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
I'm not much of a Rushdie fan: I've always found him to be far too long-winded for my taste. So it was quite a pleasant surprise for me to find myself enjoying his latest novel so very much. Enchanting, beguiling, and written with exquisite prose, this was definitely the best book I read in 2008. A very seductive read.

2. The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough

3. Still Waters by Nigel McCrery

4. The Scandal of the Season by Sophie Gee

5. Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis

÷ ÷ ÷

Sheila N. works at the Academic and Corporate Accounts Services at Powell's City of Books. A glad Singaporean, Sheila enjoys gardening, playing with her cat, and rearranging her book collection every few weeks.

2008 Employee Favorites: Hobie Topping

1. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
It is a rare thing to read any book that makes you think so deeply about the meaning of reality. Let alone a book that does it coached within a highly entertaining science fiction story. Stephenson is such a caliber of author, it is a shame that his works end up consigned to the genre section. He is easily as quotable and as thoughtful a writer as any that are touted as high literature. I'd recommend this book to anyone — and have.

2. Reaper's Gale: Book Seven of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

3. Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

4. Battle for the Abyss (Warhammer 40,000 Novels: Horus Heresy) by Ben Counter

5. Friendly Fire: DMZ, Volume 4 by Brian Wood

÷ ÷ ÷

Hobie Topping likes to ...

2008 Employee Favorites: Doug Chase

1. Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 1 by Harold Gray
Before I picked up Complete Little Orphan Annie, I thought, "I will not like this book! I will not!" I knew all about that reactionary Harold Gray. I'd seen clips of the Annie movie. ("Tomorrow! Tomorrow!" Gag!) I had nothing but low expectations. Then I began reading... and, my god, Annie is the spunkiest girl in the world, and I like her! She's spunky, and she's tough, and she's smart. She might be the prototype for Hillary Clinton! I used to feel like Lou Grant: "I hate spunky." But after reading this first volume of Little Orphan Annie, I've changed my mind. I even like that damn weapons manufacturer and war profiteer, Daddy Warbucks.

2. This Night's Foul Work by Fred Vargas

3. Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

4. Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! by Art Spiegelman


2008 Employee Favorites: Jason Weeks

1. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
For an 800-page, translated novel in five sections, 2666 is an unbelievable pleasure to read. Tightly written, filled with insight and wonder, and with liquid prose as beautiful and terrifying as a dream, 2666 kept me occupied for many a sleepless night. Bolaño fictionalizes the real-life disappearances of hundreds of young women in a Mexican border town, populating his novel with a range of finely nuanced, deeply imagined characters, and capturing the totality of human experience in all its hideousness and beauty, intricacies and truth. In style, range of thought, and execution, 2666 is utterly visionary, and completely unforgettable.

2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

3. To Siberia by Per Petterson

4. In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak

5. And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by William S. Burroughs and Jack ...

2008 Employee Favorites: Megan Zabel

1. In the Woods by Tana French
I'm normally not drawn to the mystery section, but luckily for me, I am partial to creepy tree drawings, which adorn the cover of this little treasure. Once I got past the packaging, I fell in love with the writing, too — the sullen Irish landscape and the severely flawed characters — and appreciated that I didn't see the ending coming from 200 pages away. I was left wanting more answers at the end, but I aggressively campaigned for the book nonetheless — a true testament of its merit.

2. Bigfoot: I Not Dead by Graham Roumieu

3. Man in the Dark by Paul Auster

4. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

5. Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

÷ ÷ ÷

Megan Zabel works in marketing for Powell's. She can switch ...

2008 Employee Favorites: Chris Hagen

1. The Alphabet by Ron Silliman
Quoting Andrew Ervin's review of The Alphabet: "With a book like The Alphabet, as with, say, Finnegans Wake, the point isn't to get somewhere, to complete — or in some way consume — the text, but rather to revel in the journey it provides." The Alphabet is the second of four books (the first was Tjanting, The Age of Huts (Compleat) collecting all the works) that make up Ketjak, the poetry cycle that Silliman, a founder and driving force in Language Poetry, has been working on since the '70s. Silliman's blog has been called the CNN of contemporary poetics.

2. Creamy Bullets by Kevin Sampsell

3. All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman

4. Dismantling the Hills by Michael McGriff

5. Continue »

2008 Employee Favorites: Carrie Uffindell

1. A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
In her second adventure, spirited but penniless aristocrat Lady Georgiana Rannoch is asked by the Queen of England to chaperon a naive Bavarian princess with a fondness for American slang and shoplifting. However, when several unexpected deaths occur around them, arousing police interest, Georgie is compelled to investigate. Set in 1930s England, Royal Pain is a witty, delightful read.

2. Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

3. Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry

4. Bullies, Bastards, and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Morrell

5. Lance in France by Ashley MacEachern

÷ ÷ ÷

Carrie Uffindell works in Customer Service at Powell's and occasionally writes reviews for Powells.com. She is currently writing a mystery novel set in medieval Wales. She is also an avid traveler who has sailed down the Nile in a faluka boat, ridden 200 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on horseback, climbed the town wall of Conwy Castle, and strolled the streets of Tokyo.

2008 Employee Favorites: Chris Bolton

1. City of Thieves by David Benioff
Set during the Germans' brutal siege of Leningrad in World War II, City of Thieves is a harrowing, surreal, and surprisingly funny odyssey through a land ravaged by war, where two young soldiers on an impossible mission encounter the best and worst that humanity has to offer in the face of unimaginable hardship.

2. Lush Life by Richard Price

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

4. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

5. Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 by Scott McCloud

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton's days are spent providing images and content for Powells.com. When night falls, he writes the web-comic Smash with his artist brother, Kyle. He wrote and directed a web-series called Wage Slaves, which is in post-production, and his short story set in Powell's ...

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.