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Ask a Book Buyer: Borges, Klosterman, 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: Can you suggest some books on food and travel writing similar to Anthony Bourdain's work? – Joseph

A: Marco Pierre White (The Devil in the Kitchen), Bill Buford (Heat), Adam Richman (America the Edible), Ruth Reichl (Comfort Me with Apples, Tender at the Bone), Michael Ruhlman (The Soul of a Chef). If you're not already familiar, you may also want to check out The Best American Travel Writing and the Best Food Writing series, published annually and very popular. –Jeremy

Jeffrey Steingarten's books, The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must've Been Something I Ate. Also, Luisa Weiss's My Berlin Kitchen. And I heartily second the recommendation for Bill Buford's Heat. –Mary Jo

Q: I need to buy a book (or multiple books) for my nephew for his birthday. I know he is a big Annie Dillard fan and devours anything by Chuck Klosterman. He was also a religious studies major in college and still rereads Eliade, Otto, and books on medieval Christian mystics. I know that's a pretty eclectic sampling, but what would some suggestions be? –David

A: Rebecca Solnit is a fantastic essayist (like Dillard and Klosterman) and also deals with what I would call spiritual questions. A Field Guide to Getting Lost and The Faraway Nearby are good places to start. –Jill

For a Dillard-esque read, check out Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books. For more of a Klosterman-style essay collection, John Jeremiah Sullivan's Pulphead is excellent. –Kim

Francis of Assisi: A New Biography. It isn't based on legend; rather, it's a well-researched historical portrait. Another suggestion: Catherine of Siena: A Passionate Life. –Richard

Q: I really enjoyed The Logogryph by Thomas Wharton and Labyrinths by Borges. What else would you recommend? –David S.

A: If you loved Labyrinths, Borges has a wealth of lesser-known works that are also very much worth reading. Beyond that, you may be interested in: Italo Calvino (If on a Winter's Night a Traveler), Raymond Queneau (Exercises in Style), Enrique Vila-Matas (Bartleby and Co.), Bohumil Hrabal (Too Loud a Solitude), José Saramago (All the Names), Bruno Schulz (The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories), and almost anything by the Oulipo writers (Queneau, Georges Perec, Harry Mathews, et al). Other authors that may appeal to you: Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar, David Markson, César Aira, and W. G. Sebald. –Jeremy

Q: I'm looking for a book that talks about the history of the bicycle through a women's history lens. I'm interested in learning more about how the popularity of cycling expanded freedoms and options for women, specifically in the U.S. and/or Britain in the 19th and early 20th century (scholarly texts are fine, but ideally it would be more of a popular history). Could you point me in the right direction? I know this is quite specific but thought it was worth a shot. –Julia

A: Two books come to mind about women and biking: Women on Wheels by April Streeter, which is more of a how-to guide but includes some history; and Wheels of Change by Sue Macy, which is aimed at young readers but is a great history book chock-full of information. –Jen

Q: I am trying to find large-print books for my 94-year-old grandmother. However, given the large-print limitation, and the fact that she doesn't like mysteries, romance, fantasy, or anything too dark, I am having a hard time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. She has specifically asked about English horsemen in the modern day (literature, not nonfiction), and I am stumped. –Sarah

A: Philippa Gregory writes terrific English historical fiction (The White Queen, The Lady of the Rivers), and several of her books are available in large-print versions. –Tom

Q: I am looking for a book that may not exist. I am a master's level psychology major and am looking for a book on psychological theories. The book I had in mind would have case studies where psychological theories are used to help explain the issues the clients face. –Daniel

A: This may not be quite as scientific as what you're looking for, but it's along similar lines: Falling into the Fire by Christine Montross. It's organized in chapters with case studies and works through various ideas about how best to treat the patients. –Jill

Read more Ask a Book Buyer on PowellsBooks.Blog.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story...
    Used Hardcover $11.95
  2. It Must've Been Something I Ate Used Trade Paper $4.95
  3. The Man Who Ate Everything
    Used Trade Paper $9.00
  4. The Soul of a Chef: The Journey...
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  5. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at...
    Used Trade Paper $10.95
  6. Comfort Me with Apples: More... Used Trade Paper $11.50
  7. America the Edible: A Hungry... Used Hardcover $8.95
  8. Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  9. The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain,... Used Trade Paper $8.95
  10. A Field Guide to Getting Lost
    New Trade Paper $16.00
  11. The Faraway Nearby New Hardcover $25.95
  12. When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays
    Sale Trade Paper $7.98
  13. Pulphead: Essays
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  14. Francis of Assisi: A New Biography New Hardcover $29.95
  15. Catherine of Siena: A Passionate Life New Trade Paper $14.95
  16. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  17. Exercises in Style
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  18. Bartleby & Co. New Trade Paper $15.95
  19. Too Loud a Solitude
    Sale Trade Paper $5.98
  20. All the Names
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  21. The Street of Crocodiles and Other...
    Used Trade Paper $10.95
  22. Falling Into the Fire: A... Used Hardcover $17.95
  23. The Lady of the Rivers
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  24. The White Queen
    Used Hardcover $7.50
  25. Labyrinths (New Directions...
    Used Trade Paper $8.00

  26. Women on Wheels: A Handbook and...
    Sale Trade Paper $10.50

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