Browse our selection of the best books of the season! From fiction to nonfiction to our favorite picks for kids, we guarantee you’ll find the perfect gifts for the readers in your life.
Karen Thompson Walker
In a California college town, a young woman falls into a deep sleep and won’t wake up. This sleeping sickness spreads to more and more people until the town is quarantined. The Dreamers is eerie, beautifully written, and the pacing is spot-on. This book absolutely captivated me. – Jennifer H.
The best nonfiction writer of our generation makes his fiction debut with this intricately constructed novel about slavery in America. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s voice is distinctive and powerful, and this book is one to cherish. For fans of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black. – Mary S.
Atwood has returned at last to the world of Gilead to answer our most burning questions: What fate awaits June; will Baby Nicole remain free; and can the cruel reign of patriarchal theocracy be toppled for good? Atwood’s prophetic vision is a gift — and a warning. We are all called to heed it. – Mary S.
Ann Patchett has done it again. Her latest novel, The Dutch House, is an engrossing, fairy tale-like family drama, complete with a castle and evil stepmother. But it's the sibling bond between Danny and Maeve — the highlight of this story — that will truly move you. – Kim S.
Ben Lerner’s novel is both a contained story of family life and a far-reaching exploration of this exact moment in America. Yet The Topeka School never buckles under the weight and multitude of its concerns. Rather, the reader is buoyed by the intelligence and insight that Lerner infuses into his characters. – Keith M.
Red at the Bone tells the story of a multigenerational Brooklyn family. Told from alternating viewpoints and various timelines, we learn about each family member and how their lives came together. Woodson’s writing is spectacular, packing so much detail and emotion into each short chapter. – Jennifer H.
This novel is a masterpiece of modern Japanese literature that resonates across cultures, cuts through the heart of cultural norms, and strips away the notion that we can please others without indicting ourselves. – John K.
I loved this impressive, totally immersive tale of a magical library. Morgenstern follows Night Circus with a tour de force of opulent fantasy and compelling adventure.
– Kathi K.
The first short story collection from master novelist Zadie Smith is an assemblage of brief but potent vignettes, ranging from aimless Spanish resort holidays to uncomfortable Manhattan lingerie shopping, that all offer reflections on identity in changing times. – Keith M.
Elizabeth Strout continues the fascinating story of Olive Kitteridge in Olive, Again. Strout's unforgettable character is older now, though just as blunt and unapologetic. In this follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Strout's incisive portrayals of Olive and the other townspeople of Crosby, Maine, shine. – Lucinda G.
Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut is an immersive, heart-pounding, brain-twisting read set in an alternate New Haven. Alex Stern’s connection to Yale’s secret societies may be more dangerous than she bargained for. Drenched in magic and darkness, this world will clench you between its bony fingers until the end. – Mary Jo S.
Rene Denfeld has amassed a small army of devotees here at Powell's, and with The Butterfly Girl, she's certain to garner more. This riveting follow-up to The Child Finder showcases Denfeld’s unique ability to dive headlong into the murky depths and surface with something redemptive and beautiful in tow. – Tove H.
With echoes of Firestarter, Carrie, and It, The Institute includes some of King's strongest ingredients — kids with telekinetic and telepathic powers, government conspiracy, and a showdown between good and evil elements in the world — and is a fascinating and terrifying ride.
– Lucinda G.
In The Overstory, Richard Powers has created a beautiful tribute to nature, connection, activism, and home, and I was captivated from the first page. In this interlocking story with multiple time periods and characters, we are reminded that there is still so much to learn about our world.
– Leah C.
Untangling themes of loneliness, love, commitment, and the intangible idea of soul mates, Aciman writes a story that leaves his lovers... well, you'll see. A haunting closure for a love story for the ages, Find Me is the poignant depiction of existing in a half-life, and the plea to end the unbearable solitude. Gorgeous.
– Dianah H.
The gorgeously evocative illustrations of Elise Hurst fill Gaiman’s work with an eerie and haunting mood that perfectly complements the text. Upon returning to his childhood home, the narrator finds that everything and nothing is quite the way he remembers. Or is it?
– Mary Jo S.
Sharon Olds is one of the most prestigious and critically acclaimed living American poets today, and her latest collection (her 15th!), Arias, contains some of her strongest, most distinct verse to date. Ranging in subject from birth to the modern TV to language itself, Olds illuminates the universal through the particular.
– Lucinda G.
Hanif Abdurraqib’s unflinching and unabashed new poetry collection is a deeply personal work of grief, sorrow, loss, self-reflection, remembrance, violence, love, and death. Gritty and graceful, piercing and profound, A Fortune for Your Disaster connects the forgotten and the unforgettable — stirring your heart almost as easily as it breaks it. – Jeremy G.
Mary Ruefle's poetry is at times unadorned, somewhat like W. S. Merwin's, filled with grace, revelatory juxtapositions, and the beauty of the natural world. If you haven't yet read her, let the extraordinary Dunce, her 19th collection, be your starting point. – Jill O.
Chris Ware takes the ordinary lives we all live, weaves them together, makes them small and big. His art and his plot make one complex yet clear story. Ware is a master of cartooning and storytelling, and Rusty Brown is a masterpiece. – Doug C.
Matt Mahurin and Tom Waits
Tom Waits fans, rejoice: here is a visual feast, three decades in the making. In addition to sharing past photo shoots and album covers, Mahurin digs deep into his archives to create new images of one of the greatest storytellers of our time, all compiled into this lovely and unique collection. – Aubrey W.
Moser's extraordinary biography of Susan Sontag is a great gift to her many fans, and a wonderful introduction to those who might not know her work. Sontag is a remarkably thorough and compelling portrait of one of the most important literary icons of the 20th century, and a necessary and intelligent companion to her work. – Jill O.
I'm not the type to underline passages, but this book tested my resolve. A poetic, ruminative dream of a book, Year of the Monkey chronicles a difficult year in a mesmerizing and unpredictable way. Everything Smith writes feels like a gift, and this is no exception. – Tove H.
Admit it: You’ve spent at least a few deliriously happy moments belting “Tiny Dancer” while stuck in traffic. Elton John’s music is simply un-unlikable, no matter how highbrow you claim to be, and his candid memoir about fame, family, and recovery is equally beguiling. – Moses M.
Debbie Harry may not take herself that seriously, but she deeply respects the creative process. In her memoir, she explains how the bygone friendships and locales of ’70s New York inspired her and helped make Blondie rock-and-roll superstars. – Matt K.
Carmen Maria Machado
Impossible to put down, even when it made my heart hurt/stomach turn/eyes sting with tears, Machado's memoir unfolds with the insidious, blooming ache of a bruise into something spectacular and necessary. One of the best books I’ve read this year, and ever. – Tove H.
Sara Quin and Tegan Quin
As for so many, high school was a crucible for Sara and Tegan Quin, during which they discovered their identities and developed their voices. Alternating chapters, they share stories that are both universal and utterly unique, much like their music. – Keith M.
Thomas Edison was a colossus of American life, holding over a thousand patents when he died. The great inventor is a fitting subject for Edmund Morris’s final work, for which he spent seven years working through Edison’s voluminous archives. – Matt K.
As John Hodgman is recognized as a (minor) celebrity less and less, he pauses to reflect — as any philosopher-king might — on the anxiety he feels about his frequent flyer program, among other things. – Keith M.
Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, John Becker, and Megan Scott
We welcome the new edition of Joy of Cooking. Based on six years of consumer feedback, the authors updated this edition to reflect our modern lifestyle. Included are 600 new recipes and 80 new illustrations, as well as recipes resurrected from previous editions. This is a must-have cookbook. – Tracey T.
This is definitely the cocktail book of the season — but with nearly 300 unique and delectable recipes, it will serve you well for many seasons to come. NoMad’s attention to detail and reverence for quality cocktails is undeniable. Happy holidays! I can’t wait to celebrate. – Moses M.
Questlove: a musician who loves food as much as he loves music. In Mixtape Potluck, he invites celebrities, musicians, and chefs to share a favorite potluck dish. Questlove awards each dish a song that exemplifies the recipe and the person. (Martha Stewart gets Snoop Dogg’s "Life of the Party." Perfect.) – Tracey T.
If you’ve been casting lovelorn glances at your standing mixer as you hurry through each day’s endless to-do list, fret no longer. Lopez’s cheery and creative collection of time-saving recipes will reunite you with your mixing bowls. One bite of her Supernatural Brownies and you’ll be making baking a part of your everyday. – Lucinda G.
Gleeson’s first cookbook has pride of place on my too-full shelves, but it’s going to be sharing the spotlight with Forest Feast Mediterranean, whose simple vegetarian recipes are accompanied by Gleeson’s equally mouthwatering watercolors and travel photography. Ideal for new vegetarian cooks who like their meals with a side of beautiful. – Rhianna W.
On a spiritual journey across 1,000 miles of Europe and 2,000 years of Christian history, Timothy Egan reckons with his skepticism and lapsed Catholic beliefs while confronting a bigger question: What is the role of religion in a world that is rapidly losing its faith? – Emily B.
The Soong sisters were directly connected to the most pivotal events in China’s tumultuous 20th century. Jung Chang’s richly detailed history shows just how important these women and their familial bonds were to the fate of their nation. – Keith M.
Cartoonist Randall Munroe’s impish love of physics has driven him to discover and share how to best use it for absurd ends, like moving a house with rockets or boiling a river with tea kettles. Please don’t do either. – Keith M.
Treuer delivers testimonies of resilient people over time, truths about termination policies that continue to this day, and portraits of contemporary Natives continuing to both resist colonial values and reclaim identity in an ever-changing society. If you're looking to decolonize your history lessons on Native Americans, you need this book in your life. – Kate L.
In her best book yet, Leslie Jamison pokes into the unexplored corners of the world and tells stories on behalf of the collective and the individual. Vivid and vital, this collection feels more extracted than written, each piece the organic result of an honest struggle — this is a book to light up the dark. – Lauren P.
There couldn’t be a more perfect title for this book. These tiny and delightfully bizarre essays are an intimate look into Jenny Slate’s inner life. They’re whimsical, hilarious, insightful, and with their short length, you can’t help but speed through them. This book will give you some chuckles, but also all the feels. – Lucinda G.
An engaging compendium of animal facts (Bats give birth upside down! Parrots name their young!) accompanied by playful ink drawings, Maja Säfström’s Amazing Facts About Baby Animals is a delightful way to celebrate the world’s diversity while refueling on fascinating conversation starters for all those holiday parties. – Matt K.
Terry Tempest Williams
Activist, nature writer, and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams is also an American treasure. In Erosion: Essays of Undoing, Williams balances empathy and outrage, anger and forgiveness, beauty and loss, hope and despair. Williams is a magnificent writer and Erosion is simultaneously a salvo and salve for our disquieting Anthropocenic age. – Jeremy G.
In this quiet, respectful, and inspiring tome, Hamer uses moles as a framework for his philosophy on nature and life, incorporating prose, poetry, and even illustrations. Part natural observation, part memoir of a life spent mostly outdoors, How to Catch a Mole is 100% delightful. – Leah C.
Movies (And Other Things) is an illustrated delight. Serrano’s essays center on the questions that come up with your closest friends — which films were robbed at the Oscars, the best action movie kills, whether Finding Nemo or Face/Off has a more devastating opening — and make extremely compelling, insightful, and fun cases for his answers. – Michelle C.
This book is truly a feast for the eyes and fuel for wanderlust as it takes the reader around the world and inside various cabins, treehouses, and one truck hut. Warning: reading this will send you into an Airbnb rabbit hole in search of your next getaway. – Rachel M.
Karen Armstrong’s newest book uncovers the big picture idea that the holy writings of the great religions are mostly misunderstood, and that together they are most purposeful in inspiring the devout to a greater spiritual life. Thus a relationship with the divine is the essence of the world’s scriptures. – Doug C.
Rachel Maddow is known for digging deep to find surprising connections between the forces that shape contemporary politics. In her new book, she reveals just how pervasive, and toxic, Big Oil’s influence has been across the globe. – Moses M.
The Body is a surprisingly cheerful journey through the ways in which we seem to be perfectly designed, and the ways in which it's a wonder that we work at all — bolstered by cheerful accounts of the humans who contributed to our understanding of the human body, whether through research or by accident. – Michelle C.
Both informative and readable, Buzz is a fascinating deep dive into the world of bees. Thor Hanson adeptly tours us through the history and mythology of the bee.
– Mary Jo S.
Sean Carroll takes on some of the most challenging and mind-bending questions in modern physics in Something Deeply Hidden. In lucid prose, using accessible and hard-to-refute arguments, Carroll lays out his case that there are more than one of us — of everyone — in the universe. A persuasive, fascinating, and landmark work of physics. – Jill O.
Gladwell’s latest is everything we’ve come to expect: thoroughly reported anecdotes, assembled to answer an immensely difficult question. In this case: What happened to Sandra Bland? To get at an answer, Gladwell guides us through an assemblage of spies, liars, drinkers, accused murderers, poets, and criminologists. – Keith M.
Mortician Caitlin Doughty is a death myth-buster. Will My Cat is made up of kids' questions about death. Her practical approach helps to normalize the post-life we will all face. Her informative answers are sometimes yucky but always funny, making this guide to death good for the whole (slightly ghoulish) family. – Tracey T.
Lindy West follows up her memoir, Shrill, with a collection of essays that speak to this exact moment and are thoughtful, funny, but also angry — and proudly so. – Keith M.
I love this heartwarming true story about a donkey named Sherman. The author and his family rescued him from a hoarding situation. He was in bad shape, but with the help of friends, neighbors, and some fellow animals, Sherman trained to run the World Championship Pack Burro Race. – Jennifer H.
Rebecca Solnit has written another timely, masterful collection of essays. Here, her focus is on the power to control narrative and the long arc of social progress. Solnit’s skills as a writer and thinker remain unsurpassed. – Keith M.
Lonely Planet’s latest entry in their Epic series, Epic Runs is chock-full of gorgeous photos of runs across the globe and short chunks of information about them. Perfect for the aspirational runner or the seasoned race veteran, and truly a delight to peruse. – Mary Jo S.
The numerous exposés on the current president have almost entirely neglected the lower-level appointees currently burrowing into the agencies of the federal government. Who better than the author of Moneyball and The Big Short to chronicle the exploitation of weaknesses in our system?
– Keith M.
Orlean tells a true story that has the page-turning appeal of great fiction. Her focus is a devastating fire that struck the LA library in 1986, and it serves as a launchpad for a riveting journey into the history of LA, public spaces, and the vital role of libraries themselves.
– Lucinda G.
Reading One Long River of Song was such a comfort. A long, delicious, beautiful book of essays, observations, and wit, rendered in the way only Brian Doyle can, was such a gift. Brian, you are so loved and so missed. Thank you for the luxury of experiencing your particular magic one more time.
– Dianah H.
Mo Rocca’s concern for history’s underappreciated is palpable in this hilarious and (mostly) loving tribute to dead people (or sometimes, dead ideas). Thoroughly researched and delightfully idiosyncratic, Mobituaries will have you reconsidering Billy Carter and so much else.
– Keith M.
Harrison’s renderings of visionary women from around the world are insanely adorable and amazingly inspiring. Toddlers will love the bright colors and strong, simple text, and parents will love sharing their wonder and pride in the breadth of female achievement with their children. – Rhianna W.
Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo
Franceschelli and Peskimo are an unstoppable board book superhero team. Their latest, Farmblock, is a delightfully bright and clever tour around a busy farm. With thick, indestructible pages and engaging peekaboo cutouts, babies and toddlers are sure to ask for repeat visits to this charming farm. – Lucinda G.
Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
Sofia wants to turn the town landfill into a park! But what happens when she visits City Hall and is told, “You’re only a kid”? With rhyming text and friendly, cartoony art, the latest in the Questioneers series is a fun tale of perseverance and doing good in the world. – Gigi L.
Susan Cooper and Carson Ellis
In The Shortest Day, a poem written by Susan Cooper, beautiful illustrations by local artist Carson Ellis accompany a simple but inspiring and timely message. Celebrating the rhythms of time, tradition, hope, and celebration, this book is a lovely reminder that even in the darkest times, all is not lost. – Leah C.
Adam Rex and Claire Keane
Adam Rex brings us the hilarious, thoughtful, surprisingly poignant story of a curious little girl and a villain who wants to take over the world. Why? is the perfect book for anyone with a "why" child, or who wants, in the funniest way possible, to get beyond the binary of good and bad guys. – Jill O.
The award-winning duo of Gerald the Elephant and Piggie the — well, Piggie — is back! This second “Biggie” gathers five of their previous adventures into one sure-to-be-loved volume. As Piggie and Gerald would say: “Five is a LOT of adventures for one book! Also, how did we get in this blurb?”
– Madeline S.
J. K. Rowling and Jim Kay
Jim Kay returns at last with his fourth fully illustrated Potter venture, and his gorgeous artwork is well worth the wait! This book marks a turn in the series towards a darker world, and Kay manages to land both the excitement of the Triwizard Tournament and the terror of Voldemort’s plotting with aplomb. – Madeline S.
This beautiful picture book by local Portland author Alison Farrell reminds me so much of my own hikes in the Pacific Northwest. The burst of excitement at the beginning when you can’t help but run, crossing bridges, bird-watching, even getting lost and getting so very tired, only to be rewarded with a breathtaking view!
– Kim T.
New troubles arrive on the other side of a family inheritance for the Heffleys, once they begin fixing up their house. There are nothing like home improvement antics to drive everyone crazy, as Kinney continues doing what he does best, serving up relatable kids’ humor in a bestselling series. – Matt K.
When Brystal became a maid at her local library to get around her country’s ban on women reading, she couldn’t know she’d find a room full of banned books, or a future in their pages. Colfer’s newest is a searing ode to the importance of questioning and compassion, and the power they give us to better our world. – Madeline S.
The Secret Commonwealth continues the adventure and brilliant world-building of The Book of Dust, as a college-age Lyra sets out to learn more about Dust, and a city in the desert said to be haunted by daemons. But Lyra, Pantalaimon, and Malcolm Polstead will all pay the toll for the secrets revealed. – Aubrey W.
Apollo faces his toughest challenge yet on his quest to restore his godly powers: the siege of Camp Jupiter. The evil Triumvirate is closing in, and while the key to victory may lie in a forgotten tomb, the ruler interred there may be worse than any foe Apollo has seen yet. – Madeline S.
Molly Knox Ostertag
Our favorite young witches are back for the third installment of the Witch Boy series. Aster wants to compete for the Midwinter Witch title (and crown), while Ariel is being visited in her dreams by an unknown witch. Great art and interesting characters make this graphic novel a true gem. – Jennifer H.
It’s the intergalactic team-up you’ve been waiting for! Jack and Zita have both had their share of adventures, but it will take all of their combined experience, cleverness, and heart (not to mention their friends!) to take down the army of giants and screeds knocking at Earth’s cosmic door. – Madeline S.
Arthur, Conn & Cameron Iggulden
Sometimes it’s best to have a few boredom-defying tricks up your sleeve! Such is the thinking behind this spectacular reference manual that celebrates craftiness and ingenuity, with enough projects to get a child less interested in their phone and more invested in exploring the natural world. – Moses M.
Hooray, a new graphic novel from Raina Telgemeier! In Guts, she brings her recognizable illustration style and storytelling skills to the topic of anxiety and stomachaches. It is funny, relatable, and encourages kids to talk about their feelings. This may be her best book yet. – Jennifer H.
Pamela Paul and Maria Russo
As someone who works in a bookstore, I thought I knew everything possible about how to nurture the love of reading in a child. But this joyful guide, organized by age group and packed with practical advice, had a lot to teach me. Big bonus: the book recommendations are ample and spot-on. – Renee P.
What a charming and informative book! This is a delightful way to learn about some incredible women in art who have been ignored or overshadowed for far too long. I’m glad this book is shining a light on them in such an accessible and enjoyable way. – Lucinda G.
Frank Li is a Korean American high school senior who is navigating his identity, family, growing up, and falling in love. His parents expect him to date a Korean girl, but Frank has other plans. The cast of characters make this book really special. This smart, funny, coming-of-age story blew me away! – Jennifer H.
Simon was willing to sacrifice his magic to save the world, but even a voluntary sacrifice leaves a wound. Enter boyfriend Baz, best friend Penny, and the road trip of the century. What comes after the “Chosen One” narrative? What do you do after your life’s purpose has been fulfilled? – Madeline S.
With Winterwood, Ernshaw has once again crafted the perfect atmospheric autumnal page-turner. I gobbled it up in one sitting — just couldn't put it down! It checks all the boxes for my favorite kind of read: gothic and witchy and stormy and spooky and romantic and mysterious and SO MUCH FUN. – Leah C.
The eighth installation in this fantastically wonderful and very popular series finds our hero facing Barky McTree Face and 22 Supa Angry Psychokinetic Tadpoles along with our pals Petey the Cat and Li’l Petey. An epic adventure!
– Kim T.
Spensa has fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a starship pilot, helping to defend her scavenged homeworld, Detritus, from the never-ending attacks of the Krell. But what is beyond the Krell blockade? Could there be a new home for her people out there in the stars?
– Madeline S.
Tomi Adeyemi brings stunning world-building and richly layered characters to this glorious YA fantasy. In her long-awaited sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, Zelie and Amari must fight the monarchy and military of Orisha to bring the kingdom together and protect the new magi.
– Kim T.
Revelations come to light as alliances are exposed, and answers are divulged, in what is a truly spectacular conclusion to one of the best new YA trilogies out there. Without giving away any spoilers, there is also a hands-down, not-to-be-missed epilogue — because it’s not over, folks, until it’s OVER.
– Matt K.