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 [email protected]. We'll be posting personalized recommendations regularly.
Q: I'm a huge fan of bell hooks and Audre Lorde. Do you know of any great books on race and gender by black female authors? –Crystal
A: Try Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish — she is the daughter of Alice Walker and has a strong, distinctive voice. And if you haven't already, go out and get yourself a copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; it is a classic and an essential piece of work. –Aubrey
Q: I am about to start a trial separation with my wife of almost 23 years. Are there any self-help books out there offering advice to the man trying to make it work when his wife has basically given up? –Bill
A: I have three favorite manuals that I've relied on for help with getting through seemingly impossible times in my life. They are: Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher, and Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart.
Now I know the first two texts are often used in the business world, but I think you will find them to be invaluable tools for talking about "the tough stuff." They provide practical advice for communicating with detachment and compassion. The third selection, When Things Fall Apart, is an especially useful personal guide for staying centered amidst chaos. I hope that these are helpful to you! –Aubrey
Q: Reading China Miéville. I'm about to start The Scar right now and I just finished Kraken and, prior to that, Iron Council... a bit out of order, I suppose. Should I skip The Scar and wait for Perdido Street Station? And would you recommend any other similar titles? –Shawn
A: You should definitely read Perdido Street Station, perhaps not immediately, but it is definitely one of Miéville's strongest works. I also recommend anything by Jeff Vandermeer, including a wonderful anthology he edited with his wife, The Weird.
Also check out M. John Harrison's Viriconium, which collects four shorter works. And anything by Tim Powers is amazing — start with his latest, Hide Me among the Graves. –Mary Jo
Q: I'm on a mystery kick and am looking for a couple more to get me through the next few months. I've read all of Tana French's Dublin murder squad books and enjoyed them for the most part. On a recommendation, I'm now reading Benjamin Black's Christine Falls, about a Dublin pathologist. I am enjoying it very much. Apparently Benjamin Black is the pen name of a Booker Prize–winning novelist, so I'd like to get some suggestions for mystery/detective novels that are written in a kind of... literary way. Any suggestions? –Laura
A: I don't know if you're into historical mystery or not, but you may enjoy Tasha Alexander. Start with And Only to Deceive. I also enjoy Andrea Camilleri and his Sicilian-set mystery series. His newest, Treasure Hunt, just came out. Another very enjoyable author is Louise Penny. Start with Still Life. –Tom
Read more Ask a Book Buyer on PowellsBooks.Blog.