Bookstore / Roundup

Bookseller Recommendations: December

Milkweed Staff — 11/25/2019

Real people suggest good books we think you might like, too.

It’s the time of year when bookseller recommendations gain a lot more traction—and we’re happy to meet the demand. We’ve got books for young readers, poetry lovers, cookbook collectors, and more! Give us a visit to make a dent in those holiday shopping lists—or call (612-215-2540) and we’ll set one aside for you! ?

Shallcross: Poems
by C. D. Wright

Copper Canyon Press | April 2016 | $17.00

I return to C. D. Wright often. What contemporary American poet is as versatile, as investigative, as acute, as piercing? To me, Shallcross is a showcase of Wright’s incredible vocal scope—each of the seven (seven!) sections in this collection feels completely distinct and whole, ranging from a series of micropoems, to a docupoetic exploration of homicide in New Orleans, to reflections on obscurity and imagination, and thensome. My favorite piece in the book is one of the two (two!) foldout poems, from “The Obscure Lives of Poets,” because in this litany of poets and their strange fixations, I think Wright is also leapfrogging through her own poetic career: “One made a record of night-flying birds on a scroll / longer than the roll of post-Katrina homicides / in Orleans Parish. One does not like white flowers and has never / shown her poems to a single solitary living soul. / … One poet goes silent as fishes; one stands in a lightning field and slowly begins to move.” No excerpt could do this piece justice. It’s stunning.

I miss seeing new work from Wright, but Shallcross—in its energy, its refutation of modesty—feels new every time I return to it. Read if you need a reminder that poetry is alive.


Berezina: On Three Wheels from Moscow to Paris Chasing Napoleon’s Epic Fail
by Sylvain Tesson (translated by Katherine Gregor)

Europa Compass | November 2019 | $15.00

Insofar as one could gauge the emotional tenor of a nation by their general requests for reading material, this past year has taught me that we are: fatigued, in need of escape, seeking something fun. Thankfully, Europa Editions has recently started a series of non-fiction in the United States and Sylvain Tesson’s Berezina: On Three Wheels from Moscow to Paris Chasing Napoleon’s Epic Fail is a gift. In short, five friends embark on an adventure and seek a sense of history by following Napoleon’s 2,500 mile retreat in a couple Ural motorcycles. This book will satisfy history buffs and those with wanderlust. It is informative and fun and well-written.


Who Put This Song On?
by Morgan Parker

Delacorte Press | September 2019 | $18.99

Before anything else we have to note that Morgan Parker’s Young Adult debut, Who Put This Song On? is knock you dead level funny. When I too was a depressed Black teen, this is the book I would have wanted though I wouldn’t have known to say so; I wouldn’t have known that I could. It’s a book that in chapters that are scenic and lyrical in equal measure speak to what it is to feel your way through a dark it seems only you are feeling; how lonely it is to have to call for help so often it becomes your name. Reading this book, anchored in 2008 against the backdrop of Obama’s election, was a form of time travel in more ways than one. The period piece playlist is pitch perfect and the arguments against a Black president that are now essentially fossils live again in characters in Parker’s brilliantly rendered absurdism.

The other way this book time traveled me (time traveled is now officially one verb) is that I imagine Teen Morgan (Parker’s protagonist shares her name, but to call this memoir would be reductive to the point of insult) and I might have been friends in another life. Just like that, I was 15 again. I remember reading these words how isolating it was to have only myself to run to. This book is one I and so many others will run to, fiercely and laughing the whole way through—because this book is funny in the dark, not despite it.



Darius the Great Is Not Okay
by Adib Khorram

Dial Books | August 2018 | $10.99

If one of the most important tenets of being a teenager is feeling alone, then Darius Kellner embodies this feeling completely. This novel brilliantly captures the complex feelings of being half Iranian or as Darius puts it, hyphenated. When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, he travels with his parents and little sister to Iran to meet his mother’s family for the first time.There are inevitable cultural and personal misunderstandings as all of these elements collide. This is the book I wish had existed when I was a teenager! It’s the first time I’ve read a book with Iranian-American main character.


On Swift Horses: A Novel
by Shannon Pufahl

Riverhead Press | November 2019 | $27.00

On Swift Horses has all the stoicism and sweeping vistas of a classic Western, but at its heart it is a story about queerness and longing. The book alternates between the viewpoints of Muriel and her brother-in-law Julius, who haunt the worlds of San Diego horse racing and Vegas casinos, hoping to both be contained by invisibility, and risk the vulnerability of being seen.

This book allowed me to occupy the secret underground spaces of the undeveloped Southwest of the 1950s. I was taken along by beautiful turns of language that simultaneously conceal and reveal in small flashes of understanding. I love all the trappings of Westerns but avoid them because they’re usually problematic as hell; On Swift Horses is a beautifully told and welcome reclamation of the genre.


Oma & Bella
by Alexa Karolinski

October 2012 | $25.00

This is my dream cookbook! Cute drawings, beautifully put together with some of my favorite Jewish dishes, and a magical backstory. Bella and Oma (“grandma”) are childhood friends from Germany. Oma’s granddaughter realized a whole generation of food and cooking traditions would be lost if she didn’t translate the duo’s recipes onto the page, so through conversation and observation she was able to capture precise measurements and techniques for each wholly traditional dish. What better way to capture a history—and a friendship—than through food? Lovely to read … and eat! (PS: That’s the film poster above; come into the store to see how cute the actual book cover is!)


Thanks for reading, y’all! See you around. Mention our December recommendation list to get 10% off any one of the above titles. (One coupon per visit, please. Not valid with other offers.)

?If any of these books sound interesting to you, swing by the bookstore (or ?give us a call at 612-215-2540) to pick up a copy; they’re all in stock! Mention our December recommendation list to get 10% off any one of the above titles. (One coupon per visit, please. Not valid with other offers.)​

?To see more reading suggestions from bookstore staff and from some of the bookstore’s favorite authors, click here.

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