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 am going to London for a month and really need some book recommendations. Some books I've enjoyed lately are: Mirror, Mirror off the Wall by Kjerstin Gruys, No Impact Man by Colin Beavan, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (my all-time favorite books), and all of John Green's books (especially The Fault in Our Stars). –Berkeley
A: A favorite of mine is China Mieville's Un Lun Dun, which shows the underbelly of an alternative and eccentric London. Also try Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Imagine Oliver Twist living in today's Tube tunnels. –Tracey
It won't be released until September 10, but try Rainbow Rowell's book Fangirl. It's about a young woman in her first year of college who writes fan fiction for her favorite fantasy series. Also, the author's first young adult title, Eleanor and Park, is amazing. –Jen
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Q: I'm looking for books that are a retrospective or academic analysis of creative projects. The books should include things like an explanation of the process that went into creating and executing the project, information about the tools and resources used in the project, commentary from the creator of the project, and feedback from others about the project. Do such books exist? I'm especially interested in books concerning creative projects that involve literature and multimedia. –Michelle Rae
A: Even though it's not really academic, you might find Miranda July's Learning to Love You More helpful. The guy who cowrote it is an arts academic. –Kevin
Michael Ondaatje's The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film provides fascinating insight into the creative process from two giants of film and literature. It's inspirational and informative. –Mary Jo
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Q: My wife and I were married almost a year ago and our anniversary is coming up. Can you recommend a book that affirms love and commitment but is not a romance novel? –Rian
A: After Sex and the City referenced a similar (yet fictitious) title a few years back, Love Letters of Great Men has become a popular romantic recommendation. –Shawn
Aw c'mon! Let's give romance a little love! Here are a couple of books that are very romantic, tell great stories, and come complete with happily ever afters: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Perils of Pursuing a Prince by Julia London. Enjoy, and congratulations! –Tom
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Q: I'm currently rereading A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Do you have any recommendations for similar series? I love the characters and their development, as well as the entire world and history that he carefully cultivates. –Chris
A: George R. R. Martin has a new anthology, Dangerous Women, coming out in December which includes a novella set in Westeros. A few things to read between now and December:
Robin Hobb. Start with either Assassin's Apprentice or Ship of Magic. Everything is well crafted: plot, characters, the world — she is a top-notch fantasy author.
Also: The First Law books by Joe Abercrombie, Acacia by David Anthony Durham, or Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series.
And, if you haven't read The Name of the Wind yet, drop everything and get started. –Mary Jo
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Q: I'm interested in historical reads similar to Zealot by Reza Aslan. What do you have in mind? –Ava
A: Reza Aslan's previous book, No god but God, is excellent. I'd also recommend anything by Karen Armstrong; A History of God may be the best place to start. –Shawn
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Q: I'm looking for some chapter books that feature characters of color to read aloud to kindergartners and first graders. Any suggestions? –Ariel
A: Some great chapter book series are: the Ruby Lu and Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look, Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin, Zapato Power by Jacqueline Jules, Ellray Jakes by Sally Warner, Sugar Plum Ballerinas by Whoopi Goldberg, and the Akimbo books by Alexander McCall Smith. –Jen
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