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Here are just some of the books we're talking about at Powell's.

  1. Blue, Minnesota

    After hearing my colleagues rave nonstop about Blue, Minnesota, I realized I better give it a read, and fast. Man, was I glad I picked it up. It absolutely blew me away! If I had nine lives, I would use each one to read this book again for the very first time.

    Recommended by Kit T. March 31, 2015


  2. We All Looked Up

    What would change if you knew an asteroid was going to hit the earth in six weeks? Wallach takes this premise and crafts it into an addictively readable and thought-provoking work that challenges you to really think about what matters to you. Love, high school, and possibly the end of the world: this is going to be your favorite book of 2015.

    Recommended by Fredericka March 30, 2015


  3. The Triumph of Seeds

    With playful and elegant prose, conservation biologist Hanson takes on something so small but so powerful: the mighty seed. What begins as an exasperated attempt to break open a seemingly impenetrable seed shell leads to an in-depth exploration of the origins, functions, and human exploitations of these incredible little vessels of life.

    Recommended by Abby March 30, 2015


  4. Such a Little Mouse

    He's such a little mouse — what could he possibly see? The whole wide world, that's what. With big sweeps of soft color and spare, poetic words, Such a Little Mouse takes us on a sweet journey as our tiny hero gets ready for the winter.

    Recommended by Naomi March 30, 2015


  5. The Fifth Heart

    What do you get when you take Sherlock Holmes and make Henry James his sidekick, mixing reality, fiction, and mystery into a historical pastiche? An entertaining and brilliant adventure that fans of Dan Simmons will gobble up with glee!

    Recommended by Fredericka March 30, 2015


  6. Can't and Won't

    Something interesting happens while reading Can't and Won't: you'll start to find meaning and nuance in even the most mundane of occurrences. That's the beauty of Davis's deceptively simple, frequently funny stories — they'll teach you to become more observant and to embrace our tendency as humans to overthink things. I guarantee you'll enjoy the experience.

    Recommended by Renee P. March 30, 2015


  7. A Little Life

    In an alternate universe, A Little Life would be the love-child of Hanya Yanagihara and Donna Tartt, and this is a beautiful thing. The story setup is reminiscent of The Secret History, but the language and themes are all Yanagihara. Spanning five decades, this is a hefty novel at 700 pages, but one that you will wish would never end.

    Focusing on a quartet of friends who move to New York together after college, A Little Life explores themes of love, coming of age, rewarding work, passion, family, and, of course, friendship: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The tortured Jude is the main character, who has lived through hell and back, in the way that only Yanagihara can depict hell.

    This book conveys such deep sorrow, pain, and hopelessness, but Yanagihara somehow makes you love those things. I am begging everyone to read this book. It broke my heart into a million tiny jagged pieces, but I loved every excruciating minute of it.

    Recommended by Dianah March 24, 2015


  8. Women

    Caldwell is fearless in this tiny memoir; her second after Legs Get Led Astray. After spending her life in relationships with men, she suddenly finds herself, unbelievably, in love with a woman; a woman who already has a partner. Caldwell illustrates all the ugly pain, fear, anger, and aching loneliness of embarking on a relationship that is not your own. Terrific.

    Recommended by Dianah March 22, 2015


  9. All My Puny Sorrows

    Sisters: this relationship is so very complicated — so fraught with missteps. Elf and Yoli are opposites, and while their bond is strong, it's not quite strong enough to keep Elf from continuously contemplating suicide. Yoli has tried everything to maintain the thin grasp she has on her sister. Somewhere along the way, Yoli realizes there is much she would do for Elf, even some things she never thought she could. This is a story of family dynamics, family dysfunction, and family love. Toews, an exceptional writer, bases the story on her own experiences with her sister, and she manages to truly capture this complicated relationship.

    Recommended by Dianah March 21, 2015


  10. The American Plate

    I love when a title accurately pinpoints what a book is about. The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites is one such title. Written by the lead historian at the History Channel, author Libby H. O'Connell has given us a very readable excursion through time focusing on the American foodway, with some foods rather time-stamped (hardly anyone eats turtle anymore, but we still love the early pioneer food of pumpkin pudding mixed with cream).

    Appropriately, the foodway starts with Native American foods and then wends it way through oysters, chop suey, SPAM, and more, to the epilogue touching on foods of this very minute: fad diets, GMOs, and, kind of oddly, chili con carne.

    The American Plate is a quick read, and one that could give you some conversational ammunition at any awkward family holiday gathering that may come your way.

    Recommended by Tracey T. March 19, 2015


  11. Refinery29

    In a perfect world, I would leave my house every day in an elegant outfit with a gorgeous topknot and lipstick that doesn't immediately bleed onto my coffee mug. Back in the real world of work and motherhood, my hair gets messy, my lipstick is sacrificed to the coffee god, and I lack the time and money to collect the closetful of unique, expensively tailored items I covet. What I love about Refinery29 by Christine Barberich and Piera Gelardi is that each section shows you how to make use of the items you already own to create new outfits or shake things up; even better, the wardrobe items the book presents as indispensable (a white Oxford shirt, a moto jacket, and nude pointed heels, to name a few) can be used in many different ways and found — in their nondesigner guise — for reasonable prices. The book is divided into useful sections on common fashion dilemmas like wearing brights and layering, and the photographs feature both models and regular women of all sizes and ethnicities. The writing is cheerful and very encouraging. After reading this book, not only do I have a holiday wish list of closet staples, but I also feel like looking glamorous is completely within reach.

    Recommended by Rhianna Walton March 19, 2015


  12. Pilgrim's Wilderness

    Tom Kizzia's Pilgrim's Wilderness is a riveting blend of true crime and environmental studies set in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in remote Alaska. In 2002 a bearded stranger and his wife and fourteen children arrived in McCarthy, Alaska, to claim in a deserted mining camp deep in the wilderness, and proceeded to blaze roads and trails in defiance of the National Park Service. At first viewed sympathetically by their neighbors as antigovernment activists, relations soured as Papa Pilgrim's paranoia, religiosity, and violent temper intensified. Adding to the strangeness were signs of turmoil in the Pilgrim family, leading outsiders to question whether the loving band of God-fearing musicians and pioneers was actually a group of children held hostage by a predatory and psychotic father. A neighbor of the Pilgrims, Kizzia tells the story of the Pilgrim family with empathy, precision, and no small amount of horror at his proximity to madness.

    Recommended by Rhianna Walton March 19, 2015


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