At 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
A: For your zombie-loving nephew, try my very favorite zombie novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City. It has zombies and all sorts of other paranormal creatures, and it's set in the heart of America's theater scene, New York City. –Tracey
Your 20-year-old nephew might like Temple Grandin's fascinating Animals in Translation, which uses autism as a framework for analyzing animal behavior. It's a perennial staff pick at Powell's. –Rhianna
Q: What would you suggest for a 50-year-old serious Texas Rangers fan? He's a well-educated, well-read physician whose most prized possession may be the framed autographed Nolan Ryan shirt that hangs in his den. Is there anything new out there that he may have overlooked? I'd appreciate your help. –Ann
A: At the beginning of the 2012 baseball season, Josh Lewin (the play-by-play announcer for the Texas Rangers) released a book called Ballgame!: A Decade Covering the Texas Rangers from the Best Seat in the House. As a serious Rangers fan, this book may well be a nice addition to his collection. –Jeremy
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest you buy An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. This entertaining read is a nonfiction account of Colonal Chris Hadfield's adventures in space, full of MacGyver moments and humorous insights. It was published at the end of October, so there's a good chance he hasn't read it. –Aubrey
Q: Do you have any idea what books to buy an 8-year-old boy? Thanks for any help. –Nancy
A: For an 8-year-old boy, you really can't go wrong with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. The eighth one (Hard Luck) was just released last month. This is a great series for funny, light, addictive reading.
Another fun, light read is the picture book Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett.
If he really wants to dig into a series, a great one is Rick Riordian's Percy Jackson series, which begins with The Lightning Thief. –Kim