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Emily's Picks

 
Emily Powell (yes, that Powell) is a reformed pastry chef who went to school in Philadelphia. She lived in San Francisco for a time but missed the feeling of constant rain, so she fled back to Portland and the City of Books. She is an unrepentant shoe geek (we won't use the word "fetishist") whose footwear can be found daily in the Powells.com marketing department — and nobody, not even the rain, has such small feet.

The Polar Express
The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg

Could a bookseller's favorite book really be a children's Christmas picture book? I am often asked to name my favorite book — an impossible question to answer, really — and I find myself mentioning The Polar Express time and again (not without a small amount of embarrassment — aren't I supposed to come up something just a bit more erudite?). The Polar Express does exactly what every good book should do — it draws you in from the very first, pulls you along, and leaves you sad to turn the final page. But it will also give you a renewed appreciation for the importance of wonder and magic in our daily world. Chris Van Allsburg's mysterious yet enchanting illustrations will captivate you — with each reading I find myself poring over every page, exploring newfound details.
The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro

Heralded upon release for its elegance and restraint, The Remains of the Day has become a classic of British literature — and one of my favorite books! Ishiguro's simple, painstakingly precise language beautifully captures a man and an era that prized decorum above truth, with perilous results. A gorgeous novel.
The Periodic Table
The Periodic Table
by Primo Levi

One of Levi's more mystifying, yet fascinating works. Interworking elements of memoir and his skills as a master storyteller, Levi uses each chapter to tug at a different thread of the intricately woven history of the Holocaust. You may occasionally wish you still had your high school chemistry book. Nevertheless, this collection — uplifting, astonishing, and, at times, terrifying — will confound and enthrall you.
The Magician's Assistant
The Magician's Assistant
by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett's writing delves into a new world with each successive novel. This time she takes us on a captivatingly American journey of love, loss, and redemption. Patchett uses a delightfully modern story to explore timeless questions that will resonate with many readers: what is the true nature of love, and how well do we trust ourselves to find it? Patchett's prose is careful and measured, yet also lush and elegant; she fully assumes the role of her heroine while encouraging us to take her hand on this surprising journey. The Magician's Assistant is fun, endearing, kind, and moving; it expertly explores new territory in the complex search for love.
Ivan Doig
English Creek
by Ivan Doig

I fell in love with Ivan Doig's writing as a teenager, but I still find it captivating. Through the eyes of Doig's young hero, we watch the coming of age of a family in the American West. The story alone will prevent you from putting this book down, but the beauty and compassion of Doig's language will truly leave their mark.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
by Jane Jacobs

Ever wonder why we have suburbs? Or why we wanted them in the first place? What about the lovely ideal of the Parisian street lined with cafes and shops? Why don't we have more of those? Or would we want them at all? Then read this! If you live in, near, or purposely far from a city, you will appreciate and enjoy this book. Jane Jacobs's now classic explication of American cities offers a fascinating analysis of our unique, iconic, and often dysfunctional urban landscape.
The Last Course
The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
by Claudia Fleming

I love to bake, but I especially love to play with flavors that surprise and awaken your taste buds. The Last Course beautifully presents Claudia Fleming's masterful and extremely innovative pastry creations. The recipes are straightforward and precise but, more importantly, they are clearly wrought from years of work and experimentation. Fleming has carefully distilled and focused the inspiration for each into a perfect balance of ingredients and sensual experiences. And even if you don't cook your way through this book, it still makes for a wonderful, and instructive, read — I highly recommend it. Just make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand — you will get hungry!
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
by Claudia Roden

This cookbook is a winner! I love Middle Eastern food and everything I have made from this book has been wonderful. I cooked a dinner entirely of Roden's dishes for friends, and they bought the book on their way home. Roden intersperses her recipes with vignettes of history and folklore surrounding her subject, as well as instructions on particular techniques, ingredients, and recipe variations, all of which make this book a rich read and an enticing resource.
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed
by Shirley O. Corriher

Truly for the foodie, this book is a wonderful find. Shirley Corriher deconstructs — in an easy-to-understand manner — the science behind our daily cooking endeavors. Ever wish your pie crust was just a bit flakier, or your roast more tender? Corriher explains how our food cooks — or doesn't — and what you can do to achieve the exact final product you desire. I read this book in bed at night from cover to cover (well not all in one night!) — definitely my idea of a real page-turner!
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