Bookseller Recommendations: December
As this round of recommendations came together, we noticed that each selection reflects a specialty of the bookseller who picked it: Berit is always reading interesting food books that affirm the importance of community; Daley spends a lot of time on short, atmospheric novels and books about artists; Hans is drawn to creative approaches to social issues and artful infographics; and Roseanne is on a one-woman mission to celebrate short stories and great backlist titles. You be the judge of whether these inclinations come through in our end-of-year lists, which we will be unveiling soon! Of course, we enjoy reading all kinds of different work, too—and one of the most satisfying things for us is to identify the reading specialities of the folks who come to the bookstore.
Here are December’s recommendations, in which four real people suggest good books we think you might like, too. Read on!
Voodoo Vinters: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers
by Katherine Cole
Oregon State University Press | June 2011 | $18.95
I loved reading Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodnyamic Winegrowers this month. It combines all the things I love to read about: a very specific food product, broad history summed up through a very specific lens, and interesting stories about individuals all over the globe who have something particular in common. This book touches on the importance of spirituality, practice, and ritual, and is a good reminder that everything is connected. If you like to nerd out about farming or wine, read this. It is very cool. Buy now»
Tell Them of Battles, Kings, & Elephants
by Mathias Énard, trans. Charlotte Mandell
New Directions Publishing | November 2018 | $19.95
Now I am a 28 year old who loves short books, but I was once an eighth grader who read The Agony and the Ecstacy under my desk at school. How could I resist this novel about Michelangelo building a bridge in Istanbul? Perhaps more relevant to you, though, is that Tell Them of Battles, Kings, & Elephants is a stylish, sensory experience full of light, fragrances, objects, noise, and art, with the moody sculptor at its center. Énard captures the sense of tumult and possibility of a vibrant metropolis during shifting imperial power, and does some interesting inversions of Orientalist tropes. Atmospheric, a little sexy, and transporting. Buy now»
W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Potraits: Visualizing Black America
edited by Whitney Battle-Baptise and Britt Rusert
Princeton Architectural Press | October 2018 | $29.95
W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America is a book whose stunning visuals can immediately outshine the science and power behind them. Yet, whether you find yourself flipping through it or carefully scanning each and every page, it becomes apparent that this is a book filled with tremendous beauty, as well as the horror of what Du Bois referred to as “the color line.” These works were shown by Du Bois in 1900 at the Paris Exposition and remain, sadly and without question, beyond relevant today. It is a sophisticated and nuanced look at race in America using art and graphs. Buy now»
You Are Not a Stranger Here: Stories
by Adam Haslett
Anchor Books | August 2003 | $14.95
You will not regret reading this engrossing collection of stories, many of which relate to mental illness. Adam Haslett is a phenom. His fully-realized characters, lean, strong prose, and masterful storytelling all brought to bear on these pages, could break your heart. “Notes to My Biographer,” told from the perspective of an elderly inventor attempting to reconcile with his estranged gay son, is one of my favorite stories of all-time! Maybe your favorite will be in here, too. Buy now»
To see more reading suggestions from bookstore staff and from some of the bookstore’s favorite authors, click here.
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